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Title: The Life of Marie de Medicis — Volume 2
Author: Pardoe, Julia, 1804-1862
Language: English
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THE LIFE OF MARIE DE MEDICIS, VOL. II

Queen of France

CONSORT OF HENRI IV, AND REGENT OF THE
KINGDOM UNDER LOUIS XIII

BY

JULIA PARDOE

AUTHOR OF

'LOUIS XIV AND THE COURT OF FRANCE IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY,'
'THE COURT AND REIGN OF FRANCIS THE FIRST,' ETC.


IN THREE VOLUMES

1890



[Illustration: HENRI IV.]



CONTENTS


BOOK I

MARIE DE MEDICIS AS QUEEN


CHAPTER IX

1610

Preparations for the coronation of Marie de Medicis--Wherefore
deferred--They are resumed--The Cathedral of St. Denis--Gorgeous _coup
d'oeil_--The procession--Indignation of the ex-Queen Marguerite--The
Comte and Comtesse de Soissons leave Paris--Magnificence of Marie de
Medicis and her Court--The coronation--The Queen is affectionately
received by the King on reaching the Palace--The banquet--The Court
returns to the Louvre--Last advice given by the King to the
Queen-Regent--Gloomy forebodings--The Queen's toilet--The Due de Vendôme
and the Astrologer--The King's coach--Assassination of Henri IV--The
Queen and the Chancellor--The royal children are placed under the care
of M. de Vitry--Examination of the royal body--The King's heart--The
state bier--The royal funeral.


BOOK II

MARIE DE MEDICIS AS REGENT


CHAPTER I

1610

Self-possession of Marie de Medicis--The Ducs de Guise and d'Epernon
assemble the nobility--Precautions for the security of the
metropolis--The first audience of the widowed Queen--Impolicy of
Sully--The Duc d'Epernon announces to the Parliament the authorized
regency of Marie--By whom it is ratified--Precarious position of the
Queen-mother--The first night of widowhood--Injudicious apathy of Marie
de Medicis on the subject of her husband's murder--Her incautious
display of favour towards the Duc d'Epernon--The Duke is suspected of
having been an accessory to the assassination of Henri IV--He demands
the punishment of the authors of the rumour--A lawyer and a
courtier--Fearless reply of the President de Harlay to the rebuke of the
Regent--Suspicions against Philip of Spain--Louis XIII holds his first
Bed of Justice--The Queen requests the support of the Parliament--Return
of the Court to the Louvre--The Due de Sully visits the Queen--Effect of
his reception--The Princess-Dowager of Condé urges the return
of her son to Court--M. de Soissons is invited by Marie de Medicis
to the capital--His disappointment--His arrogance--A courtly
falsehood--Reception of M. de Soissons at the gates of Paris--His
numerous retinue--The recompense of obedience--Congratulatory
deputations--Trial of the regicide Ravaillac--His execution--Arrival
of the Duc de Bouillon in Paris--His quarrel with the Duc de
Sully--They are reconciled--The Court attend a funeral service at
Notre-Dame--Presumption of the Duc d'Epernon--Marie de Medicis devotes
herself to state affairs--Jealousy of the Princes of the Blood and great
nobles--Marie endeavours to conciliate them--The Spanish Minister
endeavours to prevent the return of the Prince de Condé--Without
success--The Regent forms a council--Pretensions of the nobles--The Duc
d'Epernon takes possession of apartments in the Louvre--He leagues with
the Comte de Soissons against the Prince de Condé--Speculations of the
Ministers--Their policy--Boyhood of Louis XIII--A delicate position--A
royal rebuke--Court favour--The visionary Government--Discontent of the
citizens of Paris--Unpopularity of the Regent--The ex-Queen's
entertainment--Imprudence of Marie de Medicis--Confirmation of the Edict
of Nantes--Return of the Prince de Condé--The Regent is alarmed by his
popularity--Double-dealing of the Duc d'Epernon--The Prince de Condé
declares his intention to uphold the interests of the Regent--His
reception at the Louvre--He rejoins his wife--The Court of the Hôtel de
Condé--A cabal--Marie is advised to arrest the Prince de Condé--She
refuses--The secret council--Indignation of Sully--Mischievous advice of
the Duc de Bouillon---Munificence of the Regent to M. de Condé--The
royal treasury--Venality of the French Princes--The English
Ambassador--Royal pledges--Philip of Spain proposes a double alliance
with France--The Regent welcomes the offer--Policy of Philip--The secret
pledge--Madame de Verneuil urges her claim to the hand of the Duc de
Guise--The important document--A ducal dilemma--The Regent
discountenances the claim of the Marquise--Madame de Verneuil is induced
by Jeannin to withdraw her pretensions--Her subsequent obscurity.


CHAPTER II

1610

A temporary calm--Louis XIII--Marie de Medicis purchases the Marquisate
of Ancre for Concini--Rapid rise of his fortunes--His profusion--He
intrigues to create dissension among the Princes of the Blood--His
personal endowments--The Duc de Bouillon endeavours to induce M. de
Condé to revolt--He fails--He disposes of his office at Court to the
Marquis d'Ancre--Marie de Medicis continues the public edifices
commenced and projected by Henri IV--Zeal of the Duc de
Mayenne--Cupidity of the Court--M. de Condé and his advisers--The Prince
and the Minister--Forebodings of Sully--He determines to resign
office--His unpopularity--The Regent refuses to accept his
resignation--The war in Germany--The Regent resolves to despatch an army
to Clèves--The Duc de Bouillon demands the command of the troops--Is
refused by the Council--Retires in disgust to Sedan--The command is
conferred on the Maréchal de la Châtre--A bootless campaign--The French
troops return home--New dissensions at Court--The Duc d'Epernon becomes
the declared enemy of the Protestants--Apprehensions of the reformed
party--Quarrel of Sully and Villeroy--The Regent endeavours to effect a
reconciliation with the Prince de Conti--Princely wages--M. de Conti
returns to Court--The Princes of the Blood attend the Parliament--The
Marquis d'Ancre is admitted to the State Council--Sully and Bouillon
retire from the capital--Sully resolves to withdraw from the Government,
but is again induced to retain office--The King and Père Cotton--The
Court leave Paris for Rheims--Coronation of Louis XIII--His public entry
into the capital--The Prince de Condé and the Comte de Soissons are
reconciled--Quarrel between the Marquis d'Ancre and the Duc de
Bellegarde--Cabal against Sully--The Huguenots petition for a General
Assembly--Reluctance of the Regent to concede their demand--She finds
herself compelled to comply--M. de Villeroy garrisons Lyons--Sully
retires from the Ministry--Demands of the Princes--Sully's last official
act--His parting interview with Louis XIII--The Minister and the
Mountebanks.


CHAPTER III

1611

A cold correspondence--Increasing influence of the Marquis
d'Ancre--Animosity between the Duc d'Epernon and Concini--Disunion of
the Princes de. Guise and de Lorraine--Renewed dissensions between M. de
Bellegarde and the Marquis d'Ancre--They are reconciled by the Comte de
Soissons--Marriage of the Duc de Guise--Jealousy of M. de
Soissons--Quarrel between the Prince de Conti and the Comte de
Soissons--Mission of the Duc de Guise--A new rupture--Intervention of
the Duc de Mayenne--Alarm of the Regent--Sully leaves Paris--Madame de
Sully--Retirement of M. de Thou--Unpopularity of the Duc
d'Epernon--Marie de Medicis endeavours to reconcile the Princes--The
royal closet--The Protestants prepare for the General Assembly--The
Prince de Condé retires to Guienne--The Duc d'Epernon is charged to
watch his movements--Arrogance of Concini--Concini seeks to marry his
daughter to a son of the Comte de Soissons--Indignation of the
Prince--Cunning of Concini--Bouillon returns to Court--He offers his
services to the Regent at the General Assembly--He proceeds to
Saumur--He desires to be appointed President of the Assembly--He is
rejected in favour of M. du Plessis-Mornay--He attributes his defeat to
Sully--He resolves to conciliate the ex-Minister of Finance--Meeting of
the Assembly--The Court determines to dissolve the meeting--Prudence of
Du Plessis-Mornay--Death of M. de Créquy--The Marquis d'Ancre succeeds
to the government of Amiens--His insolent disregard of the royal
prerogative--Indignation of the ministers--The Regent resents his
impertinence--She refuses to receive Madame d'Ancre--Intrigues of the
Princesse de Conti--The favourites forgiven--Marie de Medicis issues
several salutary edicts--Court festivities--The Duchesse de Lorraine
arrives at Fontainebleau--Death of the Duc de Mayenne--Death of the
Queen of Spain---The Duchesse de Lorraine claims the hand of Louis XIII
for her daughter--Death of the Duc d'Orléans--Departure of the Duchesse
de Lorraine--Rival claims--M. de Brèves appointed preceptor to the Duc
d'Anjou--The Comte de Soissons applies for the duchy of Alençon--Rebuke
of the Regent--A hunting-party--A new cabal--Recall of the Maréchal de
Lesdiguières--Marie de Medicis purchases the Hôtel de Luxembourg.


CHAPTER IV

1612

The Princes of the Blood retire from the Court--Increased influence of
the Ducs de Guise and d'Epernon--Jealousy of Concini--The ministers
desire the recall of the Princes--The Lent ballets--The government of
Quilleboeuf is offered to the Comte de Soissons--The Princes are invited
to return to the capital--Arrival of the Princes--M. de Soissons
abandons Concini--An attempt is made to create dissension between M. de
Soissons and the Prince de Condé--They again withdraw from Paris--The
Regent resolves to announce publicly the approaching marriage of the
King--Disaffection of the Princes--Frankness of the Duc de Guise--The
Due d'Epernon is recalled--The Duc de Bouillon is despatched to
England--The Council discuss the alliance with Spain--The Princes return
to the capital--Undignified deportment of the Prince de Condé--Insolence
of M. de Soissons--Indignation of the Regent--The young Duc de Mayenne
is appointed ambassador extraordinary to Spain--An unpleasant
truth--Arrogance of the Spanish King--Concession of the Regent---Death
of the Duke of Mantua--The Chancellor announces the King's marriage--An
ambassador and a quasi-Queen--Disappointment of the Princes--They again
withdraw--Caution of the Duc de Montmorency to the Regent--She
disregards the warning--Love of Marie de Medicis for magnificence and
display--Courtly entertainments--The circle of Madame--The Marquise
d'Ancre--A carousal---Splendid festivities--Arrival of the Spanish
envoys--The Chevalier de Guise--Alarm of Concini--The Queen and her
foster-sister--Concini resolves to espouse the party of the Princes--The
Duc de Bouillon endeavours to injure the Duc de Rohan in the estimation
of James I.--Reply of the English monarch--Bouillon returns to
Paris--The Maréchal de Lesdiguières retires from the Court--The Duc de
Vendôme solicits the royal permission to preside over the States of
Brittany--Is refused by the Regent--Challenges his substitute--And is
exiled to Anet--Concini augments the disaffection of the Princes--The
Duke of Savoy joins the cabal--Lesdiguières prepares to march a body of
troops against the capital--Concini deters the Regent from giving the
government of Quilleboeuf to the Comte de Soissons--Indignation of the
Duc de Guise--He reveals the treachery of Concini to the Princes--All
the great nobles join the faction of M. de Condé with the exception of
the Duc d'Epernon--The Duc de Bellegarde is accused of sorcery--Quarrel
between the Comte de Soissons and the Maréchal de Fervaques--Marie de
Medicis resolves to persecute the Protestants--Bouillon endeavours to
effect the disgrace of the Duc de Rohan--The Regent refuses to listen to
his justification--He takes possession of St. Jean-d'Angély--Anger of
the Queen--Conflicting manifestoes--M. de Rohan prepares to resist the
royal troops--The ministers advise a negotiation, which prove
successful--Departure of the Duc de Mayenne for Madrid--Arrival of the
Duque de Pastrano--His brilliant reception in France--His magnificent
retinue--His first audience of Louis XIII--The Cardinals--Puerility of
the Princes--Reception of the Spanish Ambassador by Madame--_The year of
magnificence_--Splendour of the Court of Spain--Signature of the
marriage articles--Honours shown to M. de Mayenne at Madrid--The Spanish
Princess and her Duenna--The Duke of Savoy demands the hand of Madame
Christine for his son--Marie desires to unite her to the Prince of
Wales--Death of Prince Henry of England--Death of the Comte de
Soissons--The Prince de Conti claims the government of Dauphiny--The
Comte d'Auvergne is released from the Bastille, and resigns his
government of Auvergne to M. de Conti--The Prince de Condé organizes a
new faction--The Regent espouses his views--Alarm of the Guises--Recall
of the Duc de Bellegarde--He refuses to appear at Court--The Baron de
Luz is restored to favour--The Guises prepare to revenge his defection
from their cause.


CHAPTER V

1613

State of France at the commencement of 1613--Characteristics of the
Baron de Luz--His imprudence--He is challenged by the Chevalier de
Guise, and killed--The Regent summons a council--The nobles assemble at
the Hôtel de Guise--The Duke is forbidden to enter the Louvre, and
ordered to disperse his friends--M. de la Rochefoucauld refuses to leave
the Hôtel de Guise--He is exiled from the Court--Moderation of the Duc
de Guise--Inflexibility of Marie de Medicis--Her anger against the
Chancellor--She holds a secret council--The Prince de Condé is directed
to demand the seals from M. de Sillery, and to command him to retire
from the capital--Marie determines to arrest the Duc d'Epernon--Her
designs are thwarted by Concini--The Marquis d'Ancre introduces the son
of M. de Luz to the Regent--Marie promises him her protection--
Bassompierre endeavours to effect the recall of the Duc de Guise, and
succeeds--His reception by the Regent--Arrogance of the Duchesse de
Guise--The Prince de Condé forms an alliance with M. de Guise--
Influence of the Prince--He demands the captaincy of the Château
Trompette--Over-zealous friends--Alarm of the Queen--She resolves to
conciliate the Guises--The Marquis d'Ancre and his wife incur the
displeasure of the Queen-Marie purchases the loyalty of the Duc de
Guise--Dignified bearing of the Duc d'Epernon--A reconciliation--"Put
not your faith in princes"--Exultation of the ministers--A private
audience--Eavesdroppers--Mortification of the Prince de Condé--Concini
endeavours to conciliate the Queen--He is repulsed--The young Baron de
Luz challenges the Chevalier de Guise--Wounds his adversary, and is
killed--Royal solicitude--Death of the Chevalier de Guise--Banquet at
the Hôtel de Condé--Affront to Bassompierre--Concini retires to
Amiens--The Duc de Vendôme joins the faction of the Prince de Condé--A
new intrigue--Suspicions of the Regent--Midnight visitors--The Prince de
Condé and the Duc de Vendôme leave the Court--The Regent refuses to
sanction the departure of M. de Guise--The Queen and her favourite--The
ministers pledge themselves to serve Concini--Peril of Bassompierre--He
determines to leave France--Is dissuaded from his purpose by the
Regent--Troubles in Mantua--Negotiation with the Duke of Savoy--James I.
offers the hand of Prince Charles of England to the Princesse
Christine--Satisfaction of Marie de Medicis--The Pope takes alarm--The
Regent and the Papal Nuncio--Death of the Maréchal de Fervaques--Concini
is made Maréchal de France--Ladies of Honour--The Queen and her
foster-sister--The Princesse de Conti--A well-timed visit--The new
Maréchal--A sensation at Court.

CHAPTER VI

1614

New anxieties--Disaffection of the Princes--They demand a reformation in
the Government--Cunning of the Duc de Bouillon--Imprisonment of M. de
Vendôme--He escapes--The Regent suspects the sincerity of
Bouillon--Conspiracy of the Ducs de Vendôme and de Retz--The Duc de
Nevers seizes Mézières--Recall of M. d'Epernon--Marie de Medicis
resolves to resign the Regency, but is dissuaded by her
Council--Treasonable reports--Precarious position of the Queen--Levy of
troops--Manifesto of the Prince de Condé--Reply of the Regent---Death of
the Connétable-Duc de Montmorency---Bassompierre is appointed
Colonel-General of the Swiss Guards--The march against M. de
Condé--Marie endeavours to temporize---The price of loyalty--The Prince
de Condé leaves Paris--Christening of the Duc d'Anjou and the Princesse
Henriette Marie--A temporary calm--The Ducs de Vendôme and de Retz
excite the Burgundians to revolt--The Protestants refuse to join their
faction--They are compelled to lay down their arms--The Prince de Condé
marches upon Poitiers--The Church "military"--The prelate and the
populace--A governor superseded--The Prince is compelled to withdraw to
Châtellerault--He burns down the episcopal palace--The Court proceed to
Poitou--Their reception--The Duc de Vendôme makes his submission--The
States assemble at Nantes--Enormities perpetrated by the troops of M. de
Vendôme--Folly of that Prince--Death of the Prince de Conti--A
bachelor-Benedict--A _nom de guerre_--Majority of Louis XIII--The Bed of
Justice--The assembly of the States-General is deferred--The King
solicits his mother to retain her authority in the Government--Meeting
of the States--The early years of Louis XIII--Charles Albert de
Luynes--His antecedents--His ambition--His favour with the young
King--He is made Governor of Amboise.

CHAPTER VII

1615-16

Close of the States-General--The Bishop of Luçon--Declaration of the
royal marriages--Ballet of Madame--State of the Court--Cabal of
Concini--Death of Marguerite de Valois--Condé seeks to gain the
Parliament--Distrust of Marie de Medicis--Condé leaves Paris--He refuses
to accompany the King to Guienne--Perilous position of the Court
party--The Maréchal de Bois-Dauphin is appointed Commander-in-Chief--The
Court proceed to Guienne--Illness of the Queen and Madame Elisabeth--The
Court at Tours--Enforced inertness of M. de Bois-Dauphin--Condé is
declared guilty of _lèse-majesté_--He takes up arms--Murmurs of the
royal generals--The Comte de St. Pol makes his submission--The
Court reach Bordeaux--The royal marriages--Sufferings of the
troops--Disaffection of the nobility--Irritation of the
Protestants--Pasquinades--Negotiation with the Princes--The Duc de Guise
assumes the command of the royal army--Singular escape of Marie de
Medicis--Disgrace of the Duc d'Epernon--He retires to his
government--The Queen and the astrologer.


CHAPTER VIII

1616

Conference of Loudun--Venality of the Princes--Mutual
concessions--Indisposition of M. de Condé--He signs the treaty--Concini
is insulted by a citizen of Paris--The Court return to the
capital--Schism in the cabal--The seals are transferred to M. du
Vair--Disgrace of the ministers--Triumph of Concini--Mangot is appointed
Secretary of State, and Barbin Minister of Finance--The young
sovereigns---Court costumes--Anne of Austria and Marie de
Medicis--Puerility of Louis XIII--The Maréchal de Bouillon and the Duc
de Mayenne return to Court--They seek to ruin Concini--The Prince de
Condé effects a reconciliation with the Queen-mother--James I. sends an
embassy to Paris to negotiate a marriage between the Prince of Wales and
the Princesse Christine--Gorgeous reception at the Louvre--Court
festivities--Concini returns to Paris--He is abandoned by the Prince de
Condé--He is compelled to retire--His forebodings--He endeavours to
induce Leonora to leave France--She refuses--Increasing influence of De
Luynes--Death of Mademoiselle d'Ancre--Despair of Concini--Ambitious
projects of the Prince de Condé--Devotion of Sully--His advice is
disregarded--Popularity of Condé--Marie de Medicis resolves to arrest
him--He disbelieves the rumour--The other Princes withdraw from the
capital--The King is induced to sanction the arrest--Dissimulation of
Louis XIII--Arrest of Condé--Fearless reply of M. du Vair--The Prince is
conveyed to the Bastille--A batch of Marshals--Noble disinterestedness
of Bassompierre--The Dowager Princess of Condé endeavours to excite the
populace to rescue her son--The mob pillage the hôtel of the Maréchal
d'Ancre--The Queen-mother negotiates with the Guises--The council of
war--The seals are transferred from Du Vair to Mangot--Richelieu is
appointed Secretary of State--Concini returns to Court--The Maréchale
d'Ancre becomes partially insane--Popular execration of the Italian
favourites--Subtle policy of Richelieu--Threatening attitude assumed by
the Princes.


CHAPTER IX

1617

The royal forces march against the insurgent Princes--Indignities
offered to the young sovereign--Louis XIII and his favourite--Arrogance
of the Maréchal d'Ancre--Indignation of the King--Confiscation of the
property of the rebel Princes--Household of Louis XIII--Cabal of De
Luynes---Infatuation of the Maréchal d'Ancre--An evil counsellor--Marie
de Medicis resolves to withdraw from the Government, but is
dissuaded from her purpose--Popular discontent--Precautions of
Concini--Alarm of Louis XIII--The Duc de Nevers is declared guilty of
_lèse-majesté_--Firmness of the Queen-mother--Insolence of Concini and
Richelieu--Condé is refused permission to justify himself--Success of
the royal forces--Louis XIII consents to the arrest of the Maréchal
d'Ancre--Bassompierre warns Marie de Medicis of her danger--She
disregards the warning--Concini and Leonora prepare to leave France--Old
grievances renewed--A diplomatic Janus--Blindness of Marie and her
ministers--A new conspirator--How to be made a marshal--Incaution of De
Luynes--Treachery of Richelieu--A narrow escape--A morning
mass--Singular position of the Court--Assassination of Concini--Public
rejoicings--Imprisonment of the Queen-mother--Barbin is sent to the
Bastille--The seals are restored to Du Vair--A royal reception--Anguish
of Marie de Medicis--She demands to see the King, and is refused--Her
isolation--A Queen and her favourite--A mother and her son--Arrest of
Madame d'Ancre--The Crown jewels--Political pillage--The Maréchale in
the Bastille.


CHAPTER X

1617

The Comte de la Péna--Anne of Austria and the orphan--Popular
atrocities--The wages of crime--Submission of the Duc de
Mayenne--Suspension of hostilities--The great nobles return to the
capital--Louis refuses to be reconciled with his mother--Insolence of De
Vitry--Generosity of the Duc de Rohan--Marie de Medicis resolves to
retire from the Court--Richelieu offers to share her exile--He becomes
the secret emissary of De Luynes--Gratitude of the deluded Queen--A
parting interview--Marie de Medicis proceeds to Blois--Destitution of
the Maréchale d'Ancre--Her despair--Royal recreations--A fatal
parallel--Madame de Condé requests permission to share the captivity of
her husband--Trial of Madame d'Ancre--Her execution--Cupidity of De
Luynes--Justice of the Grand Duke of Tuscany--Death of the President de
Thou--Marriage of De Luynes with Mademoiselle de Montbazon--De Luynes is
created duke and peer--Death of M. de Villeroy--Recall of the old
ministers--Policy of De Luynes--His suspiciousness--His ambition--De
Luynes lodges his brothers in the Louvre--The sign of "the Three
Kings"--Louis resolves to re-establish the Roman Catholic religion in
Béarn, and to annex that principality to the Crown of France--Meeting of
the _Notables_ at Rouen--The French march to the support of the Duke
of Savoy.



BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES

OF

THE SECOND VOLUME

Comte d'Anquien
Princess-Dowager of Condé
Duchesse de Mercoeur
Marquise de Guercheville
Due de Lesdiguières
Comtesse de Fervaques
Comtesse du Fargis
Ravaillac
Duchesse de Sully
Maréchal de Brissac
Cardinal Bentivoglio
M. de Souvré
Stefano Galigaï
M. de Thou
M. Arnaud
Père Cotton
Henri II, Duc de Longueville
Duque de Feria
Maréchal de la Châtre
Duc d'Elboeuf
M. de Châteauvieux
Marquis de Châteauneuf
Marquis de Rambouillet
Cardinal de Gonzaga
M. de Brèves
M. de Brosse
Comte de Buquoy
Don Rodrigo Calderon
Chevalier de Guise
Duc de Luxembourg-Piney
Cardinal de Gondy
Cosmo, Grand Duke of Tuscany
Duc de la Rochefoucauld
Duc de Retz
Bishop of Saintes
M. de Verdun
M. de Servin
Comte de Brienne
Baron du Pont-Saint-Pierre
M. Miron
M. Le Fèvre
M. de Rivault
Comte de Laval
Cardinal de Richelieu
M. Le Jay
Comte de Saint-Pol
Duque d'Usseda
M. Mangot
M. de Puisieux
M. Barbin
Madame de Motteville
Marquis de Thémines
M. de Saint-Géran.
M. Déageant
Maréchal de Schomberg
Maréchal d'Ornano
Marquis de Bressieux
M. de Rouvray
Comte de Fiesque
Jean Goujon
Mlle. de Montbazon



ILLUSTRATIONS

VOL. II

1. HENRI IV.

2. LOUIS XIII, KING OF FRANCE
Engraved by Freeman from the Original by Lestang in
the Versailles Gallery.

3. MARÉCHAL DE BASSOMPIERRE
Engraved by Gouttière from the Original by Alaux.

4. CARDINAL DE RICHELIEU
Engraved by Bourgeois.

5. ANNE OF AUSTRIA
Engraved by W. Greatbach from a Print by Masson, after
P. Mignard.

6. MARÉCHAL DE SCHOMBERG
Engraved by Rouargue from the Original by Rouillard.



BOOK I

_(Continued)_

MARIE DE MEDICIS AS QUEEN



THE LIFE

OF

MARIE DE MEDICIS



CHAPTER IX

1610

Preparations for the coronation of Marie de Medicis--Wherefore
deferred--They are resumed--The Cathedral of St. Denis---Gorgeous _coup
d'oeil_--The procession--Indignation of the ex-Queen Marguerite--The
Comte and Comtesse de Soissons leave Paris--Magnificence of Marie de
Medicis and her Court--The coronation--The Queen is affectionately
received by the King on reaching the Palace--The banquet--The Court
returns to the Louvre--Last advice given by the King to the
Queen-Regent--Gloomy forebodings--The Queen's toilet--The Duc de Vendôme
and the Astrologer--The King's coach--Assassination of Henri IV--The
Queen and the Chancellor--The royal children are placed under the care
of M. de Vitry--Examination of the royal body--The King's heart--The
state bier--The royal funeral.

Having resolved that the coronation of the Queen should take place
before his departure for Germany, and being anxious to commence the
projected campaign with the least possible delay, Henry named the 5th of
May as the day on which the ceremony was to be performed; but having
learnt from a private despatch that the Archduke had resolved at the
eleventh hour not to incur the hazard of a war with France upon so
frivolous a pretext as the forcible retention of a Princess, who
moreover, remained under his charge against her own free will, and that
Madame de Condé was accordingly about to return to the French Court, he
resolved to defer the pageant until the advent of the fair fugitive who
would, as he felt, constitute its brightest ornament. The succeeding
courier from the Low Countries, however, dispelled this brilliant
vision. Whatever might have been the personal inclination of the
Archduke, Philip of Spain determined to retain his hostage; and the
return of the Princess to France was interdicted. Enraged by the deceit
which had been practised upon him, but unwilling to forfeit his word to
the Queen, Henry had no alternative save to order the instant renewal of
the preparations which he had himself suspended; and despite the
entreaties of the municipal authorities of Paris, who represented the
impossibility of completing their arrangements before the end of the
month, he persisted in his resolution of causing the Queen to be crowned
on the 13th, and commanded her public entry into Paris for the following
Sunday.[1]

On the 11th (Tuesday) he said to those around him, "I shall sleep at St.
Denis to-morrow night, and return to Paris on Thursday; I shall arrange
all my private affairs on Friday; on Saturday I shall drive about the
city; Sunday will be the state entry of the Queen; on Monday my daughter
De Vendôme will be married; on Tuesday the banquet will take place; and
on Wednesday I mount for Germany." [2]

The Court accordingly slept at St. Denis on the night of the 12th, in
order to be in readiness for the ceremony of the morrow; and the morning
of the eventful day which was to witness the crowning triumph of Marie
de Medicis at length dawned. A brilliant spring sun robed the earth in
brightness; but nowhere did it light up a scene of greater magnificence
than when, filtered through the windows of stained glass, it poured
itself in a living mosaic over the marble pavement of the cathedral, and
flashed upon the sumptuous hangings and golden draperies which were
distributed over the spacious area of the edifice. Immediately in front
of the high altar a platform had been erected eleven feet in height, and
upwards of twenty feet square, in the centre of which was a daïs richly
carpeted, supporting the throne of the Queen, covered with crimson
velvet embroidered with _fleurs-de-lis_ in gold, and overshadowed by a
canopy of the same material. On either side of this throne two other
platforms were appropriated to the Princes of the Blood, the Knights of
the several Orders, the Gentlemen of the Bedchamber, the great nobles,
the foreign ambassadors, and the ladies of the Queen's household. Within
the altar-rail on the left hand, a bench draped with cloth of gold was
prepared for the cardinals; and behind this was a second bench reserved
for the archbishops, bishops, and other ecclesiastics who were to
assist at the ceremony; while on the same side of the shrine stood a
table overlaid by a costly drapery, upon which were to be deposited the
crown, the coronet, the sceptre, the hand of justice, and the ring
destined to be employed during the ceremony. On the right hand of the
altar was placed a _prie-dieu_ covered with violet velvet bordered and
fringed with gold, upon which were placed two cushions of the same
material for the use of the Cardinal de Joyeuse, who was to officiate;
and behind this was a table corresponding with that on the left, and
covered by a similar drapery, supporting the bread, wine, and waxen
tapers which the master of the ceremonies was instructed to deliver to
the ladies who were selected to make the offering for the Queen.

The floor of the choir extending from the principal platform to the high
altar was carpeted with crimson velvet edged with gold; and above this
was stretched a second drapery of cloth of gold for the passage of her
Majesty; myriads of lights were grouped about the lateral shrines, the
carved columns of the venerable edifice were veiled by magnificent
hangings, and the gorgeous vestments of the prelates cumbered the open
presses of the sacristy.

An hour after dawn a compact crowd peopled the vast interior of St.
Denis; persons of all ranks, from the artizan to the petty noble and his
family, rushed tumultuously towards the sacred edifice, in order to
secure a sight of the august solemnity; and great was the surprise of
all to find themselves already preceded by the King, who came and went
throughout the early part of the morning, superintending every
arrangement in person, and apparently overlooking his bodily ailments in
the extraordinary excitement under which he laboured.

The Dauphin, Madame the elder Princess, the ex-Queen Marguerite, the
Princes of the Blood, and great dignitaries who were summoned to assist
at the ceremony, accompanied by the Cardinals de Gondy and de Sourdis,
proceeded at an early hour to the Louvre to conduct the Queen to the
cathedral; and it was no sooner announced that her Majesty was prepared
to set forth than the procession formed.

The ceremonial had not, however, been definitively arranged without
considerable difficulty. Marguerite, who, whatever might be her errors,
could not contemplate her presence at this solemnity as a mere spectator
without considerable heart-burning, considered herself aggrieved by the
fact that instead of following immediately behind the Queen, she was to
be preceded by Madame Elisabeth, still a mere child; and so great was
her indignation at this discovery, that she was very reluctantly induced
to abandon her intention of pretexting illness, and absenting herself
entirely from the pageant. The earnest remonstrances of her friends, who
represented to her the certainty of the King's serious displeasure,
alone determined her to sacrifice her dignity; and although she
ultimately consented to submit to an arrangement which she considered
as an encroachment upon her rights as the daughter of a long line of
sovereigns, rather than draw down upon herself the resentment of the
monarch, she wept bitterly while she prepared to swell the retinue of
her successor.[3] The Comte de Soissons was less compliant; for it was
no sooner announced to him that the Duchesse de Vendôme, the wife of the
King's natural son, was to appear in a mantle embroidered with
_fleurs-de-lis_ similar to those worn by the Princesses of the Blood,
than he loudly declared that he would not countenance so disgraceful an
innovation; and having ordered his household to prepare for an instant
departure from Paris, he left the capital with the Princess his wife,
and retired to one of his country seats.[4]

Despite this secession, however, the suite of Marie de Medicis was one
of supreme magnificence. The procession was opened by the Swiss Guards,
habited in velvet vests of her own colours, tawny, blue, crimson, and
white; then followed two companies, each composed of a hundred nobles,
the first wearing habiliments of tawny-coloured satin braided with gold,
and the second pourpoints of white satin and breeches of tawny colour;
these were succeeded by the Lords of the Bedchamber, chamberlains, and
other great officers of the royal household, superbly attired; who were,
in their turn, followed by the Knights of the Holy Ghost wearing the
collar of their Order. A body of trumpeters walked after them richly
dressed in blue velvet; and then came the heralds in full armour, and
the Ushers of the Chamber with their maces.

When these had passed the more important personages of the procession
issued from the gates of the Louvre; and the glorious spring sun flashed
upon the jewelled caps and capes of the Princes of the Blood, glistened
over their vests of cloth of gold, and toyed with the gemmed hilts of
their diamond-studded weapons. Preceding the Queen were the Prince de
Conti and the Comte d'Anquien;[5] while immediately before her walked
the Dauphin clad in a habit of cloth of silver, profusely ornamented
with precious stones; and then came Marie herself, in the full glory of
conscious dignity and triumph, wearing a coronet of jewels, a
richly-gemmed stomacher, a surcoat of ermine, and a royal mantle seven
French ells in length, composed of purple velvet embroidered with
_fleurs-de-lis_ in gold and diamonds, and bordered with ermine, which
was borne on either side of her by the two Cardinals, and at its
extremity by the Dowager Princess of Condé,[6] the Princesse de Conti,
the Dowager Duchess of Montpensier, and the Duchesse de Mercoeur;[7]
whose trains were in like manner supported by four nobles habited in
cloth of gold and silver, and covered with jewels.

Then followed Madame Elisabeth de France and the ex-Queen Marguerite,
wearing mantles covered with _fleurs-de-lis_ embroidered in gold,
carried by four nobles richly attired, with their capes and caps laced
with jewels; and the gorgeous train was finally closed by the Princesses
of the Blood and Duchesses, whose trains were in like manner borne by
some of the principal noblemen of the Court. All these ladies wore their
coronets enriched with pearls and diamonds, save such as were widows, to
whom the use of gems was interdicted by the fashion of the age.

To these succeeded the ladies of the Queen's household, among whom the
Marquise de Guercheville[8] and Madame de Concini excited the most
curiosity; the latter from the high favour which she enjoyed, and the
extraordinary elevation to which it had conduced; and the former from a
cause infinitely more honourable to her as a woman. While the widow of
her first husband, Henri de Silly, Comte de la Rochepot, her grace and
beauty attracted Henri IV, who pertinaciously endeavoured to win her
affections. His degrading suit was, however, so resolutely although
respectfully rejected, that the King, impressed by her merit, on one
occasion declared that the title which would be the most applicable to
her would be that of a lady of honour, and that such she should become
whenever another Queen ascended the throne of France. The Marquise
curtsied her thanks, without attaching any importance to so very
prospective a distinction; but six years subsequently, when the Court of
Marie de Medicis was formed, the promised appointment was conferred upon
her; and she fulfilled the duties of her office with a dignified and
unobtrusive zeal which secured to her the esteem and respect of her
royal mistress.[9]

Thus escorted, Marie de Medicis entered the cathedral; where, having
been conducted to the front of the high altar, she knelt upon a cushion
near which stood the Cardinal de Joyeuse in his pontifical robes,
surrounded by a group of high ecclesiastical dignitaries, and supported
by the Cardinal Duperron. When the Queen had concluded her prayer, and
kissed the reliquary which was presented to her by Mgr. de Joyeuse, she
was led to her throne in the same state as that with which she had
approached the altar; and she had no sooner taken her place than the
Dauphin seated himself in the chair which had been prepared for him;
and Madame and the ex-Queen, followed by the Princesses of the Blood and
the great ladies of the Court, after having successively made a profound
curtsey to the Queen, followed his example. This done, the Cardinals de
Gondy and de Sourdis descended from the platform, and took up their
position on the left of the altar, while the Princes were marshalled to
their places by the royal ushers; and meanwhile the musicians of her
Majesty performed divers melodies suited to the place and the occasion.

After the lapse of a few moments the two Cardinals again ascended the
platform to reconduct her Majesty to the altar, which she reached in the
same order as she had previously done, save that the Dauphin now walked
on her right hand and Madame Elisabeth upon her left. Having knelt as
before in silent prayer, she was ultimately raised by the Prince and
Princess, and stood with her head bowed upon her breast while the
Cardinal de Joyeuse commenced the appropriate orisons, and received from
the hand of two of the bishops the vase containing the holy oil, and the
platen. Having poured out a portion of the former, the prelate anointed
the Queen upon the head and chest; after which he received from a third
bishop the consecrated ring, which he placed upon her finger.

The sceptre and the hand of justice were then tendered to him, and
transferred to the august recipient; and finally the crown of state was
presented upon a cushion, and held above her head by the Dauphin and
Madame Elisabeth, by whom it was subsequently consigned to the keeping
of the Prince de Conti, while another of smaller size, enriched with a
profusion of diamonds, rubies, and pearls of immense value, was placed
upon her brow; and Marie de Medicis at length stood in the midst of her
assembled Court the crowned and anointed Queen of France.

A vigorous flourish of trumpets proclaimed the termination of the
ceremony. Marie resigned the sceptre and the hand of justice to the two
Princes who stood next to her, and once more ascended the throne; where
she was no sooner seated than M. de Conti placed before her the crown of
state which he had carried upon a stool covered with cloth of gold, and
knelt beside it. The Prince who bore the sceptre then assumed the same
attitude on the right hand of the Queen, and his companion carrying the
hand of justice upon her left. A solemn high mass was next performed,
and at its close the herald-at-arms cast, in the Queen's name, a shower
of gold and silver coin among the crowds who thronged the church; while
Marie herself, descending from the platform, and attended as before,
slowly left the sacred edifice and returned to the robing-room.

The King, who had witnessed the whole ceremony from his private tribune,
was more rapid in his movements, and hastened to regain his chamber;
whence he watched the brilliant procession as it advanced with an
undisguised delight that was inexplicable to those who were aware of
the reluctance with which he had yielded to the desire of the Queen, and
who had consequently anticipated no demonstration on his part save one
of irritation and annoyance. Greatly, therefore, were they surprised
when, as she passed beneath the window at which he had taken up his
station, they saw him scatter some perfumed water on her head in order
to induce her to look up; after which he hurriedly descended the great
staircase to receive and welcome her, and with every possible exhibition
of affection and respect conducted her to the hall in which the banquet
had been prepared.

Throughout this sumptuous repast the gaiety of the monarch excited the
comments of all by whom he was surrounded; and it was generally remarked
that he had not for many months yielded to such an effervescence of
spirits. At length, however, the festival drew to its close; lords and
ladies were alike overwhelmed by the fatigues of the past day; and their
Majesties, having taken a gracious leave of their illustrious guests,
entered one of the royal carriages and proceeded to the Louvre.[10]

The numerous foreigners who had assembled from every part of Europe in
order to witness the ceremony were lost in astonishment at the profusion
of jewels displayed upon the occasion, declaring that they had never
before witnessed such a spectacle; and that even at the world-famed
entry of the Spanish Queen into Madrid, where Italy and Spain had alike
exhibited all their riches, they could not be compared with those
possessed by the French Court alone; nor was their surprise diminished
when they learnt that on the following Sunday, when Marie de Medicis was
to enter Paris in state, they would be convinced that they had not as
yet seen a tithe of the splendour which the great nobles and ladies of
the kingdom were enabled to display upon such occasions.[11]

From the moment in which the King decided upon personally superseding
the Maréchal de Lesdiguières[12] in his command of the army in
Champagne, he had been unwearied in his advice to the Queen for the
efficient government of the country. He exhorted her to great caution in
changing her ministers, earnestly impressing upon her the danger of
entrusting state affairs to individuals whose probity and experience
were not well assured, or of displacing others without great and serious
cause. He, moreover, especially besought her never to permit the
interference of foreigners in the internal economy of the kingdom, as by
such ill-placed confidence she could not fail to alienate from herself
the affections of all true Frenchmen; to uphold the authority of the
Parliament, but on no account to countenance its dictation, confining
its operations to their legitimate sphere, and enforcing its submission
to her own delegated supremacy; never to suffer herself to be misled by
her passions or prejudices, but to weigh all her measures maturely
before she insisted upon their enforcement; to protect the Jesuits, but
at the same time to be careful not to allow them to increase their
numbers, or to form establishments upon the frontiers; to attach the
nobility by favours which could not endanger the interests of the
throne, but to be cautious in her concessions where they might tend to
any undue aggrandizement of their former power and influence; and, above
all, not rashly to undertake any war against the Huguenots until she had
received full assurance of being enabled to terminate it successfully.
As regarded the Dauphin, he declared that his greatest desire was to see
him the husband of Mademoiselle de Lorraine, provided the Duke should
not have other children; as, in such case, the French nation would be
aggrandized by the territories of a state from which it had received
much and grievous injury. He expressed, moreover, the greatest
repugnance to the proposed marriage between Madame Elisabeth and the
Infant of Spain, alleging as his reason the perpetual rivalry of the two
powers, and the circumstance that the prosperity of the one must
necessarily involve the abasement of the other; and finally he declared
that were he compelled to give the hand of his daughter to a Spanish
Prince, it should be to a younger brother who might be declared Duke of
Flanders, and not to the heir to the throne.[13]

The Queen, while listening to these counsels, did not cease her
entreaties that he would abandon his intention of quitting the kingdom,
and leave the conduct of the campaign to his generals. She represented
her own inexperience in state affairs, the extreme youth of the Dauphin,
and the long life which he himself might still enjoy if he did not
voluntarily place himself in situations of peril, which was the less
required of him as he had already established his fame as a soldier
throughout the whole of Europe. Henry answered only by a jest. Love and
ambition alike lured him on; and beneath their baneful influence
prudence and reason were silenced.[14]

On the morning succeeding the coronation of his royal consort, the King
attended mass at the church of the Feuillants, where he was accompanied
by the Duc de Guise and M. de Bassompierre; and as he was still in the
same exuberant spirits as on the preceding day, a great deal of light
and desultory conversation took place during their return to the palace;
which was, however, abruptly terminated by Henry, whose countenance
became suddenly overcast as he said in reply to a gay remark made by M.
de Guise--

"Even you do not understand me now; but one of these days, when I am
dead, you will learn my value."

"My God! Sire," exclaimed Bassompierre, "will you never cease to pain us
by these constant allusions to your approaching death? These are things
which should not be said. You will live, please God, long and happy
years. What fate can be more enviable than your own? You are now in the
prime of life, strong and healthy; surrounded by honour and respect; in
tranquil possession of the most flourishing kingdom upon earth; adored
by your subjects; rich in money, palaces, and lands; wooed by fair
women; loved by handsome favourites; with a host of noble children
growing up about you. What can you require beyond this, and what more do
you wish?"

"My friend," replied the King with a long-drawn sigh, "I must resign all
these things."

As he uttered these words, the usher on duty threw open the door of his
closet; and extending his hand to his two companions, which they
successively raised to their lips, he disappeared.[15]

As the Queen was to dance a _branle_ and to appear in a ballet that
evening at the Louvre, she was on the King's return closeted with the
Princesse de Conti, the Maréchale de Fervaques,[16] the Comtesse du
Fargis,[17] and Madame Concini, her ladies of honour, busied in the
selection of the costume in which she purposed to appear. Having
ascertained this fact, Henry remained alone in his apartment, until it
was announced to him that the Duc de Vendôme solicited the honour of a
private audience. He was instantly admitted; and after having excused
himself for thus intruding upon the privacy of the monarch at a moment
when, as he was well aware, the mind of the King was occupied by
subjects of importance both to himself and to the state, he informed his
royal father that La Brosse, a famous astrologer, had declared that the
constellation under which his Majesty was born threatened him with
imminent danger during that particular day; and that he consequently
implored of him to be more than usually cautious until its close.

"Pshaw!" exclaimed the King gaily; "La Brosse is an old sharper who is
anxious to obtain some of your money; and you are a young fool to
believe him. My days are numbered before God."

When he had dined Henry threw himself upon his bed, but he tried in vain
to sleep; he then rose and paced gloomily about the room for a
considerable time, after which he once more lay down; but the result
proving the same, he again sprang to his feet, and turning abruptly to
the _exempt_ of the guard, he demanded to know the time.

"It is just four o'clock, Sire," replied the officer; "and I would
venture to suggest to your Majesty to try the effect of the open air, as
you appear harassed and out of spirits."

"You are right," said the King; "cause my coach to be prepared, and I
will go to the Arsenal and visit the Duc de Sully, who is unwell, and
takes a bath to-day."

When the carriage was announced, the King stepped into it, followed by
the Ducs de Montbazon and d'Epernon, the Maréchaux de Lavardin and de
Roquelaure, the Marquises de Mirabeau and de la Force, and M. de
Liancourt, his first equerry.

Being anxious to obtain a good view of the preparations which were
making for the entry of the Queen, Henry desired that the leathern
curtains, which were at that period the clumsy substitute for windows,
should be looped back; and during this operation M. de Vitry presented
himself, with the intention of escorting the royal equipage with his
company of the bodyguard.

"No, no," said the King impatiently; "remain in the palace, and see that
everything goes on as I have ordered, and with as much speed as
possible."

"At least, Sire, suffer my guards to attend you," urged De Vitry.

"I will neither take you nor your guards," was the abrupt reply; "I
want no one near me."

And upon this command the disappointed courtier was compelled to
withdraw.

"Drive from the palace," shouted the monarch in a tone of excitement;
"in the direction of the Hôtel de Longueville." The carriage started at
a rapid pace, and it had no sooner reached the spot indicated, than he
again exclaimed, "And now to the Cross of Trahoir." [18] Arrived at this
wretched nook, he next desired to be driven to the Cemetery of the
Innocents, for which purpose it was necessary to pass from the Rue St.
Honoré into that of La Ferronnerie, which was at that period extremely
narrow, and rendered still more so by the numerous shops built against
the cemetery wall. On reaching this point the progress of the royal
carriage was impeded by two heavily-laden waggons, and the footmen who
had hitherto run beside it pressed forward towards the end of the
thoroughfare in order to rejoin it at the other extremity of the street.
Two attendants only remained at their station, one of whom was employed
in hastening the movements of the embarrassed waggoners, while the other
was engaged in arranging some portion of his dress which had become
displaced. At this moment a man advanced towards the King's equipage,
wrapped in a wide mantle, and carefully picked his way between the
trading-booths and the carriage, which he had no sooner reached than,
placing one of his feet on a spoke of the wheel, and the other on a
doorstep, he plunged a knife into the side of the King, who was at that
moment engaged in reading a letter.

As he felt the blow Henry exclaimed, "I am stabbed!" While he uttered
the words, he flung up his arms, an action by which the assassin
profited to take a surer and more fatal aim; and before the
horror-stricken companions of the unfortunate monarch could make a
movement to prevent it, a second thrust pierced the lobe of his heart.
The blood gushed in torrents from his mouth, and from the wound itself,
when again the remorseless knife descended, but only to become entangled
in the sleeve of the Duc d'Epernon;[19] while with one thick and choking
sob Henri IV fell back a corpse.

No one had seen by what hand the King had fallen; and had the regicide
flung away his weapon, he might have stood unquestioned among the crowd
which instantly collected upon seeing the six nobles who had accompanied
the sovereign spring to the ground, with loud exclamations of dismay;
but Ravaillac[20] stood firm, with his reeking and two-edged knife still
in his hand, and avowed his crime with a boldness which in a better
cause would have savoured of heroism.[21]

Meanwhile one of the royal party, perceiving that Henry remained
perfectly motionless, while the carriage was inundated with his blood,
incautiously exclaimed, "The King is dead!" upon which a loud wail arose
from the assembled spectators; and the agitation of the crowd became so
excessive that the Duc d'Epernon called loudly for a draught of wine,
asserting that his Majesty was faint from a hurt, and required
refreshment. A number of the inhabitants of the adjacent houses
thereupon hastened to procure the desired beverage; while the companions
of the monarch, profiting by the movement, let fall the leathern
curtains of the coach, and informed the populace that they must
immediately convey his Majesty to the Louvre in order to secure proper
assistance.[22] This was done with all speed, while as they passed
through the city the attendants replied to the inquiries which were made
on every side that the King was merely wounded; and on arriving at the
palace the body was stretched upon a bed, without having been cleansed
or clothed, and in this state it remained for several hours, exposed to
the gaze of all who thought proper to visit the chamber of death.[23]

During this time the Queen, fatigued by her previous exertions, was
lying upon a sofa in her private cabinet, in order to recruit her
strength against the evening, which was, as we have shown, to have been
one of gaiety and gala, when her affrighted attendants hastened to
convey to her the fatal tidings of her widowhood. In a paroxysm of
uncontrollable anguish she rushed towards the door of the closet, and
was about to make her way to the chamber in which the royal body had
been deposited, when she was met by the Chancellor, to whom the fearful
news had already been communicated, and who obstructed her passage.

"Let me pass, Sir," she faltered out, "the King is dead."

"Pardon me, Madame," said Sillery, still impeding her purpose, "the
Kings of France never die. Return, I implore of you, to your apartment.
Restrain your tears until you have insured your own safety and that of
your children; and instead of indulging in a grief which can avail you
nothing, exert all your energies to counteract the possible effects of
this disastrous and lamentable event."

M. de Vitry was immediately instructed to assemble all the royal
children in the same apartment, and not to permit any one, whatever
might be his rank or authority, to have access to them; an order which
was implicitly obeyed; and meanwhile six-and-twenty physicians and
surgeons, who had been hastily summoned to the palace, commenced opening
the corpse, which was discovered to be so universally healthy as to
promise a long life. The intestines were, according to the prescribed
custom, at once forwarded to St. Denis; while the Jesuits demanded the
heart, in order to convey it to their church of La Flèche; and it was no
sooner removed from the body, and placed in a silver basin, than it was
eagerly pressed to the lips of all the nobles who assisted at the
operation; each of those who carried away traces of the blood which
issued from it upon his moustachios, esteeming himself highly honoured
by the vestiges of the contact.[24]

The royal remains were then embalmed, and placed in a sumptuous coffin
upon a bed of state, in one of the most spacious apartments of the
Louvre, which was hung with the richest tapestry appertaining to the
crown. A magnificent canopy of cloth of gold surmounted the bier, and on
either side of the catafalque were placed two temporary altars; ten
others having been erected in the state-gallery, at which the bishops
and the curés of the several metropolitan parishes daily performed six
high and one hundred low masses. Platforms covered with cloth of gold
had been prepared for the cardinals and prelates; and at the foot of the
royal body, cushions of black velvet were arranged for the Princes of
the Blood and the higher nobility. A golden crucifix and a silver vase
containing holy water were deposited on a table of carved oak; and at
the extremity of the room were grouped enormous tapers of wax, near
which stood two heralds-king-at-arms, in their splendid state costume,
leaning upon their swords. The face of the corpse was exposed, the head
covered by a cap of crimson velvet laced with gold, and the body attired
in a vest of white satin, over which was flung a drapery of cloth of
gold, having in the centre a cross elaborately embroidered in
silver.[25]

On the day which succeeded the embalmment, while the clergy were praying
in suppressed voices at the several altars, a distant sound was heard,
which gradually approaching nearer and nearer to the death-chamber,
became ere long blent with their murmured orisons; and as they looked
towards the entrance of the apartment, they saw the young King standing
upon the threshold, attended by a numerous suite of Princes and nobles.
Louis XIII was wrapped in a mourning cloak of violet-coloured velvet;
his vest was of dark silk; and his pale and melancholy face was
half-hidden by the hood which had been drawn over his head. The high
dignitaries who composed his retinue wore mantles of black velvet, and
were entirely without arms. The two younger sons of France, the Ducs
d'Orléans and d'Anjou, walked on either side of the new-made sovereign,
each grasping a fold of his heavy cloak; and immediately behind them
came the Cardinals de Joyeuse and de Sourdis. The Prince de Condé, the
Comte de Soissons, the Duc de Guise, the Prince de Joinville, and the
Duc d'Elboeuf bore the royal train; and were in their turn succeeded by
the prelates who assisted at the ceremony, each wearing his mitre, and
carrying his crozier. In the rear followed a crowd of nobles and great
officers of the household, who, however, advanced only a few yards from
the doorway, while Louis and his immediate attendants slowly approached
the bier. The scene was an affecting one: the boy-King, timid and
trembling, surrounded by the flower of his nation's chivalry and
greatness, moved with a faltering step towards the resting-place of that
father who had so lately wielded like a toy the sceptre which he was
himself still too impotent to bear, and whose bold spirit had been
quenched while it was yet strong within him. On every side the vanity of
human pride, which will not learn a lesson even under the stern teaching
of death, was contrasted with the awe that sat upon the faces of the
assistants, and with the immobility of the livid countenance which
gleamed out pale and ghastly from amid its glittering drapery!

As the youthful mourner reached the death-couch, the kings-at-arms were
about to present to him the aspergillus, in order that he might sprinkle
the corpse with the consecrated water, when a movement among the nobles
who stood near the entrance of the apartment caused them to pause; and
in another moment a group of ladies, attired in deep mourning, appeared
beneath the portico; where, separating into two ranks, they left a
passage open for the widowed Queen; who, clad in violet velvet like her
son, with a high ruff, and her head uncovered, advanced with an unsteady
step and streaming eyes towards her children.

"Pray with me, my son," she murmured amid her sobs as she stood beneath
the mortuary canopy; "there lies your happiness and mine. May it please
God that our hopes may not also have expired with him who was but a few
short hours ago the glory and the greatness of his kingdom! The sturdy
tree has fallen, and the saplings are still weak and frail. The mission
of the great Henry is accomplished, and the weight of sovereignty is
transferred to your own brow. And you also, my beloved ones," she
continued, glancing towards her younger sons, "come nearer to me, and
let us kneel together beside the body of your august and
lamented father."

The two young Princes relaxed their hold of the royal mantle, and placed
themselves beside their mother. The illustrious widow and her orphans
then sank upon their knees, and continued for a considerable time
absorbed in silent and earnest prayer. At intervals a sob which could
not be controlled broke upon the stillness, but at length the mourners
rose; and Marie, taking the hand of the boy-King, drew him towards her,
and murmured in his ear a few hurried words which were inaudible to all
save himself. As she ceased speaking, Louis glanced up into her face for
an instant; and then, extending his right hand towards the corpse, he
said in a clear and steady voice--

"Mother, I swear to do so."

Even at that awful moment a strange light flashed from the eyes of the
Queen, and a smile, which was almost one of triumph, played about her
lips as she glanced at the assembled nobles; but the emotion, by
whatever cause produced, was only momentary; and after having cast
another long and agonized look upon the face of the dead monarch, and
aspersed the body with holy water, she bent her head reverentially to
the King, and withdrew, followed by her ladies.

When the whole of the royal party had paid this last mark of respect to
the remains of the deceased sovereign, the coffin was finally closed;
and the death-room, in which the corpse was to remain for the space of
eighteen days, was opened to the public from ten o'clock in the morning
until six in the evening. Then, indeed, as the vast crowds succeeded
each other like the ceaseless waves of an incoming sea, the bitter wail
of universal lamentation rang through the halls and galleries of the
palace. Henri IV had been essentially the King of the People; and, with
few and rare exceptions, it was by the people that he was truly mourned;
for his sudden decease had opened so many arenas to ambition, hatred,
jealousy, and hope, that the great nobles had no time to waste in tears,
but were already busily engaged in the furtherance of their
own fortunes.

During the exposition of the body the necessary preparations had been
completed for the interment of the deceased King, which exceeded in
magnificence all that had previously been attempted on a similar
occasion; and this pomp was rendered even more remarkable by the privacy
with which his predecessor Henri III had been conveyed to St. Denis only
a week previously, the remains of the latter sovereign having hitherto
been suffered to remain in the church of St. Camille at Compiègne,
whence they were removed under the guard of the Ducs d'Epernon and de
Bellegarde, his former favourites; the etiquette in such an emergency
not permitting the inhumation of the recently deceased King in the
vaults of the royal abbey until his predecessor should have occupied his
appointed place.

The first stage of the funeral procession was Notre-Dame; and as the
gorgeous _cortège_ approached the church, all its avenues, save that
which was kept clear by the Swiss Guards, were thronged by the citizens
and artizans of the capital; sounds of weeping and lamentation were to
be heard on every side; yet still, divided between grief and curiosity,
the crowd swept on; and as the last section of the melancholy procession
disappeared beneath the venerable portals of the cathedral, its vast
esplanade was alive with earnest and eager human beings, who, fearful of
exclusion from the interior of the building, pressed rudely against each
other, overthrowing the weak and battling with the strong in their
anxiety to assist at the awful and solemn ceremony which was about to
be enacted.

Only a few moments had consequently elapsed ere a dense mass of the
people choked almost to suffocation the gothic arches and the nave of
the sacred edifice, while the aisles were peopled by the more exalted
individuals who had composed the funeral procession. Upwards of three
thousand nobles, and a great number of ladies, all clad in mourning
dresses, and attended by their pages and equerries, blended their
melancholy voices with the responses of the canons of the cathedral; the
bishops of the adjacent sees, and the archbishops in their rich raiment
of velvet and cloth of silver, carried in their hands tapers of perfumed
wax; Oriental myrrh and aloes burned in golden censers, and veiled the
lofty dome with a light and diaphanous vapour which gave an unearthly
aspect to the building; the organ pealed forth its deep and thrilling
tones; and amid this scene of excitement, splendour, and suffering, the
Cardinal de Gondy celebrated the mass, and the Bishop of Aire delivered
the funeral oration. The coffin was then raised, and the crowd,
hurriedly escaping from the church, once more spread itself over the
neighbouring streets until the procession should again have formed;
after which all this immense concourse of people accompanied the body of
their beloved monarch to St. Lazare, where the clergy halted and
returned to Paris; while the nobles who were to escort the mortuary-car
to St. Denis, and who had hitherto followed it on foot, either mounted
on horseback, or entered their carriages, in order to reach the Leaning
Cross at the same time as the corpse.

There, the grand prior and the monks of the royal abbey, in their
mourning hoods, received the body of Henri IV from the hands of De
Gondy, the Archbishop of Paris; and on the following day the
Cardinal-Duc de Joyeuse celebrated a solemn mass and performed the
funeral service of his late sovereign.

At the close of the lugubrious ceremony the iron gates of the house of
death swung hoarsely upon their hinges. The "De Profundis" pealed from
the high altar, and Henry the Great was gathered to his ancestors.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] L'Etoile, vol. iv. pp.17, 18. Montfaucon, vol. v. p.429.

[2] Matthieu, vol. 9361 of the royal manuscripts, p. 804.

[3] Dupleix, p. 403.

[4] L'Etoile, vol. iv. p. 30.

[5] Charles de Bourbon-Conti, Comte d'Anquien, son of the Comte de
Soissons.

[6] Charlotte Catherine de la Trémouille, Princess Dowager of Condé, was
the daughter of Louis III, Seigneur de la Trémouille, and was born in
1568. The Prince de Condé, the chief of the Protestant party, enamoured
of her beauty, made her his wife in 1586; and having died by poison two
years subsequently, suspicion fell upon the Princess and some of her
confidential attendants, several of whom were put to death as
accessories to the crime. Madame de Condé herself was imprisoned, and,
despite her protestations of innocence, was not set at liberty for
upwards of seven years, when she was at length liberated by Henri IV
(1596). She died in 1629.

[7] Marie de Luxembourg, the daughter of Sébastien de Luxembourg, Duc de
Penthièvre and Vicomte de Martigues, and wife of Philippe Emmanuel de
Lorraine, Duc de Mercoeur.

[8] Antoinette de Pons, Marquise de Guercheville, whose second husband
was Charles du Plessis, Seigneur de Liancourt, First Equerry, and
Governor of Paris.

[9] _Remarques sur l'Invention de la Bibliothèque_, de M. Guillaume,
art. 33.

[10] _Mercure Français,_ 1610, pp. 419-423.

[11] _Mercure Français_, 1610, p. 423.

[12] François de Bonne, Duc de Lesdiguières, was born at St. Bonnet, in
Upper Dauphiny, in 1543. He became general of the Huguenots, and
obtained several victories over the Catholic troops. On the accession of
Henri IV to the French throne, that Prince appointed him
lieutenant-general of his armies in Piedmont, Savoy, and Dauphiny. His
success in Savoy was brilliant, and he was created Marshal of France in
1608. Four years subsequently he embraced the Romish faith; and died in
1626 with the title of Connétable.

[13] Richelieu, _La Mère et le Fils_, vol. i. pp. 27-32.

[14] _Idem_, pp. 24, 25.

[15] Bassompierre, _Mém_. p. 71.

[16] Andrée d'Alégre, Comtesse and Maréchale de Fervaques, was the widow
of Guy de Coligny, Comte de Laval, de Montfort, etc., and the wife of
Guillaume de Hautemer, Comte de Grancy, Seigneur de Fervaques, and
Maréchal de France.

[17] Madeleine de Silly, Comtesse du Fargis, was the daughter of
Antoine, Comte de la Rochepot, and the wife of Charles d'Angennes,
Seigneur du Fargis, ambassador in Spain from 1620 to 1624. She became
the confidential friend and favourite of Anne of Austria, and in 1636
was entrusted with the keeping of the crown jewels. Madame du Fargis was
considered to be one of the most beautiful women at the French Court;
but her spirit of intrigue rendered her a dangerous companion for a
youthful and neglected Queen, and her morals were unfortunately not
above suspicion.

[18] The Cross of Trahoir was a small irregularly shaped space,
surrounded by miserable hovels, with high pointed roofs, most of which
were in a state of dangerous dilapidation; the broken casements in every
instance replaced by rags or straw; the doors ill-hung and swinging upon
their rusty hinges, and the whole of the buildings lost in dirt and
wretchedness. The inhabitants of this filthy nook were of the lowest and
most depraved description, and no other tenants could indeed have been
found to make their dwelling there; as in addition to the squalor of the
buildings themselves, the deeply-sunk and humid soil, which in fact
formed an open sewer that drained the adjacent streets, supported
several permanent gibbets arranged in the form of a cross; while the
thoroughfares by which it was approached were foul and fetid lanes,
breathing nothing save disease and infection.

[19] Mézeray, Péréfixe, and Daniel say that it was the Due de Montbazon
whose arm warded off the blow.

[20] François Ravaillac was a native of Angoulême, the son of a lawyer,
and was about thirty-two years of age. He was a descendant through the
female line of Poltrot de Méré, the assassin of the Due de Guise. He had
been originally destined to follow the profession of his father, but the
loss of a lawsuit having reduced his parents to beggary, he took refuge
in the monastery of the Feuillants, where he entered upon his novitiate.
His weakness of intellect and extreme irritability caused him, however,
to be rejected by that community; and he returned to his native
province, where he was imprisoned for twelve months as an accomplice in
a case of manslaughter. During his confinement he had, as he affirmed,
visions connected with the conduct of the King which determined him to
take his life; and for three years he had persisted in this horrible
design, in furtherance of which he had thrice visited Paris. Upon the
last of these occasions he had reached the capital during the Easter
festivals, but he determined to delay his purpose until after the
coronation of the Queen.

[21] Péréfixe, vol. ii. pp. 496-498. Mézeray, vol. x. p. 395. _Mercure
Français_, p. 424. L'Etoile, vol. iv. pp. 36-40.

[22] _Mercure Français_, pp. 424, 425. L'Etoile, vol. iv. pp. 40, 41.
Daniel, vol. vii. p. 507.

[23] Mézeray, vol. x. p. 397.

[24] _Mercure Français_, pp. 440, 441.

[25] Péréfixe, vol. ii. pp. 498, 499.



BOOK II

MARIE DE MEDICIS AS REGENT

CHAPTER I

1610

Self-possession of Marie de Medicis--The Ducs de Guise and d'Epernon
assemble the nobility--Precautions for the security of the
metropolis--The first audience of the widowed Queen--Impolicy of
Sully--The Duc d'Epernon announces to the Parliament the authorized
regency of Marie--By whom it is ratified--Precarious position of the
Queen-mother--The first night of widowhood--Injudicious apathy of Marie
de Medicis on the subject of her husband's murder--Her incautious
display of favour towards the Duc d'Epernon--The Duke is suspected of
having been an accessory to the assassination of Henri IV--He demands
the punishment of the authors of the rumour--A lawyer and a
courtier--Fearless reply of the President de Harlay to the rebuke of the
Regent--Suspicions against Philip of Spain--Louis XIII holds his first
Bed of Justice--The Queen requests the support of the Parliament--Return
of the Court to the Louvre--The Duc de Sully visits the Queen--Effect of
his reception--The Princess-Dowager of Condé urges the return of
her son to Court--M. de Soissons is invited by Marie de Medicis
to the capital--His disappointment--His arrogance--A courtly
falsehood--Reception of M. de Soissons at the gates of Paris--His
numerous retinue--The recompense of obedience--Congratulatory
deputations--Trial of the regicide Ravaillac--His execution--Arrival
of the Duc de Bouillon in Paris--His quarrel with the Duc de
Sully--They are reconciled--The Court attend a funeral service at
Notre-Dame--Presumption of the Duc d'Epernon--Marie de Medicis devotes
herself to state affairs--Jealousy of the Princes of the Blood and great
nobles--Marie endeavours to conciliate them--The Spanish Minister
endeavours to prevent the return of the Prince de Condé--Without
success--The Regent forms a council--Pretensions of the nobles--The Duc
d'Epernon takes possession of apartments in the Louvre--He leagues with
the Comte de Soissons against the Prince de Condé--Speculations of the
Ministers--Their policy--Boyhood of Louis XIII--A delicate position--A
royal rebuke--Court favour--The visionary Government--Discontent of the
citizens of Paris--Unpopularity of the Regent--The ex-Queen's
entertainment--Imprudence of Marie de Medicis--Confirmation of the Edict
of Nantes--Return of the Prince de Condé--The Regent is alarmed by his
popularity--Double-dealing of the Duc d'Epernon--The Prince de Condé
declares his intention to uphold the interests of the Regent--His
reception at the Louvre--He rejoins his wife--The Court of the Hôtel de
Condé--A cabal--Marie is advised to arrest the Prince de Condé--She
refuses--The secret council--Indignation of Sully--Mischievous advice of
the Duc de Bouillon--Munificence of the Regent to M. de Condé--The royal
treasury--Venality of the French Princes--The English Ambassador--Royal
pledges--Philip of Spain proposes a double alliance with France--The
Regent welcomes the offer--Policy of Philip--The secret pledge--Madame
de Verneuil urges her claim to the hand of the Duc de Guise--The
important document--A ducal dilemma--The Regent discountenances the
claim of the Marquise--Madame de Verneuil is induced by Jeannin to
withdraw her pretensions--Her subsequent obscurity.

The news of the King's decease had no sooner been communicated to Marie
de Medicis than, profiting by the advice of the Chancellor, she made a
violent attempt at composure; and although still with streaming eyes and
ill-suppressed sobs, she gave her assent to the suggestions of her
councillors. The Ducs de Guise and d'Epernon were instructed to mount
upon the instant, and to assemble as many of the nobles as were within
reach, whom they were to accompany through the streets of the city,
declaring upon their way that the King was not dead, although grievously
wounded; the city gates were ordered to be closed, the keys delivered to
the lieutenant of police, and strict commands issued to prevent all
gatherings of the populace in the thoroughfares; while the guards who
were distributed through the faubourgs were hastily concentrated in the
environs of the Parliament, in order, should such a measure become
necessary, to enforce the recognition of the Queen as Regent of
the kingdom.

These arrangements made, MM. de Guise, d'Epernon, de Villeroy, and de
Lavardin demanded an audience of the august widow, at which, kneeling
before her, they kissed her hand, and assured her of their unalterable
devotion. Their example was imitated by all the great nobles of the
Court, with the sole exception of the Duc de Sully, who was encountered
by Bassompierre in the Rue St. Antoine, accompanied by about forty
mounted followers, and evidently in a state of intense agitation.
"Gentlemen," he exclaimed, as the two parties met, "if the loyalty which
you each vowed to the monarch whom we have just been unhappy enough to
lose is as deeply impressed upon your hearts as it should be upon those
of all faithful Frenchmen, swear at this precise moment to preserve the
same fidelity towards the King his son and successor, and that you will
employ your blood and your life to avenge him."

"Sir," haughtily replied Bassompierre, who had probably more deeply
mourned the death of his royal master and friend than any other
individual of the Court, and who was consequently revolted by the
imperious tone of this address, "it is we who have been enjoined to
enforce this oath upon others, and we do not need any exhortations to do
our duty."

Sully regarded the speaker gloomily for an instant, and then, as though
overcome by some sudden apprehension, he coldly saluted the group of
nobles, and retraced his steps to the Bastille, where he forthwith
closed the gates; having previously, on his way thither, caused his
attendants to carry off all the bread which they could collect either in
the shops or markets. He, moreover, no sooner thus found himself in
safety than he despatched a courier to his son-in-law, the Duc de
Rohan, who was with the army in Champagne at the head of six thousand
Switzers, desiring him to march straight upon Paris; an indiscretion
which he was subsequently destined to expiate, from the heavy suspicion
which it necessarily entailed upon him. Vainly did MM. de Praslin and de
Créquy, who were sent to summon him to the presence of the young King,
endeavour to induce him to lose no time in presenting himself at the
Louvre; the only concession which he could be prevailed upon to make,
was to desire the Duchess, his wife,[26] to hasten to the palace, and to
offer to the Regent and her son his sincere condolence upon their
irreparable misfortune.[27]

The Duc d'Epernon, after having stationed the guards at the palace, was
instructed by the Queen to proceed at once to the Parliament, which was
then assembled, and to inform its members that her Majesty had in her
possession a decree signed and sealed by the late King, conferring upon
herself the regency of the kingdom during the minority of her son;
entreating them at once to ratify the appointment in order to ensure the
public tranquillity. She also privately despatched a messenger to the
President de Harlay, whom she knew to be attached to her interests, and
to be at once able and zealous, to instruct him to assemble the Court
without delay, and to use all his influence to enforce her rights. De
Harlay, who on receipt of her message was confined to his bed by gout,
immediately caused himself to be dressed, and proceeded in a chair to
the Augustine monastery; where he had scarcely arrived when the Duc
d'Epernon entered the hall, and declared the will of the late King, and
the confidence felt by the Queen that the Parliament would, without
repugnance, recognize her right to the dignity thus conferred upon
her.[28] This they immediately did; and owing to the absence of the
Prince de Condé and the Comte de Soissons, both of whom aspired to the
high office about to be filled by Marie de Medicis, without the
slightest opposition or disturbance.

This happy intelligence was conveyed to the Queen by M. d'Epernon, who
returned to the palace accompanied by one of the members of the
Parliament, when the latter, after having been presented to his royal
mistress, on whose right hand sat the young King bewildered by what was
passing about him, bent his knee before their Majesties, and tendered
to Marie a scroll, which having been returned by her to the accredited
envoy of the supreme court, was read aloud as follows:--

"THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL, having represented to the Parliament in full
assembly that the King having just expired by the act of a most cruel,
most inhuman, and most detestable regicide committed upon his sacred
person, it became necessary to provide for the safety of the reigning
monarch and of his kingdom, required that an order should be promptly
issued concerning his safety and that of the state, which could only be
ruled and governed by the Queen during the minority of the said Lord her
son; and that it should please the said Court to proclaim her Regent, in
order that it might, through her, administer the affairs of the realm;
The subject having been duly considered, the said Court declared, and
still declares, the said Queen, the King's mother, Regent of France, to
be entrusted with the administration of all matters of state during the
minority of the said Lord her son, with all power and authority.

     "Done in Parliament, this 14th of May, 1610.

     "(Signed) DU TILLET." [29]

During the course of the day guards had been sent to the residence of
the several foreign ambassadors, in order to protect them from the
violence of the populace, and especially to that of the Spanish
minister, who was peculiarly obnoxious to the Parisians. The governors
of provinces and fortresses who chanced to be at that moment sojourning
in the capital were ordered to repair without delay to their several
commands, to maintain tranquillity within their separate jurisdictions;
and, save the audible lamentations which throughout the night broke the
silence of the mourning city, all was calm and quiet, except in the
immediate neighbourhood of the Augustine monastery, where the
Attorney-General had authorized the workmen to prepare the great hall
for the reception of the young King, and where the necessary
preparations for his presence on the following day were continued
until dawn.[30]

The parliamentary envoy having quitted the palace, and the crowd of
nobles, by whom its spacious halls and galleries had been filled, having
retired, Marie was at length left at liberty to indulge her grief,
rendered only the more poignant from the constraint to which she had
been so long subjected. Her first impulse was to command that the bed of
the young sovereign should be removed to her own chamber, and this done,
she abandoned herself to all the bitterness of her sorrow.

She had, indeed, legitimate cause for tears. With a son still almost a
child, ambitious nobles jealous of her power, and a great nation looking
towards herself for support and consolation, she might well shrink as
she contemplated the arduous task which had so suddenly devolved upon
her. Moreover, death is the moral crucible which cleanses from all dross
the memories of those who are submitted to its unerring test; and in
such an hour she could not but forget the faults of the husband in
dwelling upon the greatness of the monarch. Who, then, shall venture to
follow her through the reveries of that fatal night? Who shall dare,
unrebuked, to assert that the ambition of the woman quenched the
affection of the wife? or that Marie, in the excess of her
self-gratulation, forgot the price at which her delegated greatness had
been purchased? That some have been found bold enough to do this says
little for their innate knowledge of human nature. The presence of death
and the stillness of night are fearful chasteners of worldly pride, and
with these the daughter of the Medici was called upon to contend. Her
position demanded mercy at the hands of her historians, and should not
have sought it in vain.

From one reproach it is, however, impossible to exonerate her, and that
one was the repugnance which she evinced to encourage any investigation
into the real influence under which Ravaillac had committed the murder
of the King. In vain did she receive communications involving
individuals who were openly named; she discouraged every report; and
although among these the Duc d'Epernon made a conspicuous figure, she
treated the accusation with indifference, and continued to display
towards him an amount of confidence and favour to which he had never
previously attained.

Indignant at this extraordinary supineness, the President de Harlay only
increased his own efforts to unravel so painful a mystery; and refusing
all credence to the assertion of the regicide that he had been
self-prompted--an assertion to which he had perseveringly adhered amid
torture, and even unto death, with a firmness truly marvellous under the
circumstances--the zealous magistrate carefully examined every document
that was laid before him, and interrogated their authors with a
pertinacity which created great alarm among the accused parties, of whom
none were so prominent as Madame de Verneuil and the Duc d'Epernon.

The latter, indeed, considered it expedient to wait upon the
commissioners appointed by the Parliament to investigate these reports,
in order to urge the condemnation of their authors; these being, as he
asserted, not only guilty of defaming innocent persons, but also of
exciting a dangerous feeling among the people, at all times too anxious
to seek the disgrace and ruin of their superiors. He found, however,
little sympathy among those whom he sought to conciliate; and on
addressing himself to the President, whom he entreated to inform him of
the details of the accusation made against himself, that magistrate,
without any effort to disguise his feeling of repulsion towards the
applicant, coldly replied, "I am, Sir, not your prosecutor, but
your judge."

"I ask this of you as my friend," was the retort of the Duke.

"I have no friend," said the uncompromising minister. "I shall do you
justice, and with that you must content yourself."

So uncourteous a reception excited the indignation of M. d'Epernon, who
forthwith hastened to the Louvre to complain to the Regent of the insult
to which he had been subjected; and Marie had no sooner been apprised of
the affair than, with a want of caution highly detrimental to her own
reputation, she despatched a nobleman of her household to M. de Harlay,
to inform him that she had just learnt with extreme regret that he had
failed in respect to the Duke, and that she must request that in future
he would exhibit more deference towards a person of his quality and
merit. This somewhat abrupt injunction, addressed to the first
magistrate of the kingdom, and under circumstances so peculiar, only
tended, however, to arouse M. de Harlay to an assumption of the dignity
attached to his office, and he replied with haughty severity to the
individual who had been charged with the royal message:--

"During fifty years I have been a judge, and for the last thirty I have
had the honour to be the head of the sovereign Court of Peers of this
kingdom; and I never before have seen either duke, lord, or peer, or any
other man whatever might be his quality, accused of the crime of
_lèse-majesté_ as M. d'Epernon now is, who came into the presence of his
judges booted and spurred, and wearing his sword at his side. Do not
fail to tell the Queen this." [31]

So marked an exhibition of the opinion entertained by the Parliament on
the subject of the complicity of the Duke in the crime then under
investigation, did not fail to produce a powerful effect upon all to
whom it became known, but it nevertheless failed to shake the confidence
of Marie de Medicis in the innocence of a courtier who had, in the short
space of a few days, by his energy and devotion, rendered himself
essential to her; while thus much must be admitted in extenuation of her
conduct, reprehensible as it appeared, that every rumour relative to the
death of her royal consort immediately reached her, and that two of
these especially appeared more credible than the guilt of a noble, who
could, apparently, reap no benefit from the commission of so foul and
dangerous a crime. In the first place, the Spanish Cabinet had been long
labouring to undermine the power of France, in which they had failed
through the energy and wisdom of the late King, whose opposition to the
alliance which they had proposed between the Dauphin and their own
Infanta had, moreover, wounded their pride, and disappointed their
projects; and there were not wanting many who accused the agents of
Philip of having instigated the assassination; while another rumour,
less generally disseminated, ascribed the act of Ravaillac to the
impulse of personal revenge, elicited by the circumstance that Henry
had first dishonoured and subsequently abandoned a sister to whom he was
devotedly attached.

That M. d'Epernon was politic enough to impress upon the mind of the
Queen the extreme probability of either or both of these facts, there
can be little doubt, as it would appear from the testimony of several
witnesses that the intention of the murderer was known for some time
before the act was committed; and nothing could be more rational than
the belief that if the agents of Spain were indeed seeking to secure a
trusty tool for the execution of so dark a deed, they would rather
entrust it to one who could by the same means satiate his own thirst for
private revenge, than to a mere bravo who perilled life and salvation
simply from the greed of gain.

Day by day, moreover, the ministers were overwhelmed by accusations
which pointed at different individuals. Those who had opposed the return
of the Jesuits to France openly declared that they were the actual
assassins; while even in the provinces several persons were arrested who
had predicted before its occurrence the death of the King, and the means
by which it was to be accomplished; and finally the affair became so
involved that, with the exception of the woman De Comans to whom
allusion has been elsewhere made, and who was condemned to imprisonment
for life, all the suspected persons were finally acquitted.[32]

At eight o'clock on the morning succeeding the assassination of the King
all the members of the different Chambers assembled in their scarlet
robes and capes, the presidents wearing their cloaks and mortar-shaped
caps; and half an hour afterwards the Chancellor, accompanied by several
masters of the Court of Requests, and dressed from head to foot in black
velvet, took his place below the First President in the great hall of
the Augustine monastery, where the young King was to hold his Bed of
Justice, the ordinary place of meeting being still encumbered with the
costly preparations which had been made for the state-reception of the
Queen. This ceremonial was essential to the legal tenure of the regency
by his mother, which required the ratification of the sovereign; and his
assent in the presence of his princes, dukes, peers, and officers of the
Crown, to her assumption of entire and complete control over his own
education, and the administration of the government during his minority,
as well as his approval of the decree delivered on the previous day by
the Parliament.[33]

Then arrived in rapid succession the Duc de Mayenne, the Connétable de
Montmorency, the cardinals, prelates, and other great dignitaries; who
were finally succeeded by the King himself, habited in a suit of violet
velvet, and surrounded and followed by a numerous retinue of princes,
dukes, nobles, and high officers of the Court. Louis himself was mounted
on a white palfrey, but all the members of his suite, whatever their
rank, were on foot. The Queen came next in her coach, attended by the
Princesses of the Blood and the other great ladies of her household; not
as she had anticipated only two days previously, blazing with jewels and
clad in royal robes, but covered with an ample mourning drapery of
black crape.

The necessary ceremonies having been observed, the King at length took
his place upon the Bed of Justice, having the Queen upon his right hand;
while below their Majesties were seated the Prince de Conti, the Comte
d'Enghien, who represented his father, M. de Soissons, the Duc de Guise,
the Duc de Montmorency, the Duc d'Epernon, the Duc de Sully, all peers
of France, and the Maréchaux de Brissac,[34] de Lavardin, and de
Bois-Dauphin;[35] while the other dignitaries of the State and Church
were arranged upon either hand of the young monarch, and the body of the
hall was occupied by the members of the several Courts.

When all had taken their places, and silence was restored, the Queen,
rising from her seat, and throwing back her veil, proceeded to address
the assembly, but for a time her voice was inaudible, and choked with
sobs. At length, however, she mastered her emotion, and with a gesture
full of mournful dignity, she besought all present to continue to her
son and to herself the same loyalty and devotion which they had
exhibited towards the monarch of whom the state had been so cruelly
bereft; assuring them that it should be her study to induce the King to
be guided by their counsels in all things, and imploring of them to
afford him such advice as should on all occasions be compatible with his
own dignity and the welfare of the country over which he was called
upon to rule.

Short as was this harangue, it was not without considerable difficulty
that she accomplished its utterance. More than once, suffocated by her
grief, she was compelled to pause until she could regain her voice; and
when at its close she drew her veil once more over her head, and
prepared to leave the hall, the assembly rose simultaneously, and
implored of her to honour the meeting by her presence until it should be
dissolved. Exhausted and wretched, Marie strove to utter her thanks, and
to retire; but the opposition offered to this resolution was so great
and so unanimous that she was at length prevailed upon to resume her
seat; and she had no sooner done so than Louis, raising for a moment the
cap from his head, in his turn addressed the Court.

The reply of the Chancellor was pregnant with wisdom and loyalty; in it
he assured the King of the fidelity and devotion of all ranks of his
subjects, and confirmed the Queen in her regency; after which the
Attorney-General having spoken at great length to the same effect, the
royal and august personages rose and returned to the Louvre in the same
order as they had observed on their arrival, followed throughout the
whole distance by the acclamations of the citizens, and reiterated cries
of "Vive le Roi!" [36]

An hour or two subsequently Marie de Medicis accorded an audience to the
Duc de Sully, who had, with considerable difficulty, been induced by M.
de Guise to present himself at the palace, to offer his condolences to
the young sovereign and his august mother;[37] and he was accordingly
introduced into the private apartment of the Queen, where he found her
surrounded by the ladies of her household, and absorbed in grief. As he
was announced she burst into a passion of tears, and for a time was
unable to welcome him; but having at length succeeded in controlling her
emotion, she desired that the King should be brought to her; and he had
no sooner appeared than she pointed out to him the Duc de Sully, when
the young monarch threw himself into his arms, and loaded him with the
most affectionate caresses.

"You do well, my son," sobbed Marie, as she remarked the emotion of the
boy; "you must love M. de Sully, who was one of the best and most
faithful servants of the King your father, and who will, I trust,
continue to serve you with the same zeal." [38]

The interview was a lengthy one, and the urbanity of the Queen produced
so powerful an effect upon the mind of the finance minister that he
ceased to apprehend any diminution of his influence, and accordingly
sent to countermand the return of the Duc de Rohan, who had already
advanced a day's march towards the capital.[39]

Meanwhile the Dowager-Princesse de Condé had hastened to inform her son
of the assassination of the King, and to urge his instant return to the
capital; a summons to which he replied by forwarding letters of
condolence both to the King and the Regent, containing the most earnest
assurances of his loyalty and devotion alike to their personal interests
and to those of the nation; and declaring that he only awaited their
commands to return to Court, in order to serve them in any manner which
they might see fit to suggest.

The Comte de Soissons, who had left Paris only a few days before the
coronation of the Queen, for the reason elsewhere stated, and who had
retired to his estate near Chartres, was invited by a messenger
despatched by Marie to return without delay to the capital, where the
interests of the state required his presence. This command he prepared
to obey with alacrity; but his zeal was greatly damped when, on arriving
at St. Cloud, he ascertained that the Queen had been already recognized
by the Parliament as Regent of the kingdom, and that her dignity had
been publicly confirmed by the young sovereign. On first receiving this
intelligence his rage was without bounds; he even questioned the
legality of an arrangement of this description made without his
sanction, he being, during the absence of the Prince de Condé, the first
subject in France after the Queen herself; and then, moderating the
violence of his expressions, he complained that by the precipitation of
the Parliament, he had been deprived of the privilege of signifying his
assent to the nomination, as he had previously pledged himself to do. He
next questioned the right of the Parliament to interfere in so important
a measure; declaring that their fiat was null and void, as the Chambers
had no authority to organize a government, and still less to appoint a
regency, which could only be effectively done by a royal testament, a
declaration made before death, or by an assembly of the States-General.
He, moreover, insisted that the case was without precedent; that the
power of the Parliament was restricted to the administration of justice;
and that while it was desirable that the mothers of princes, heirs to
the throne, should be entrusted with the care of their education, the
government of the country belonged by right to the Princes of the Blood,
to the exclusion of all other claimants.[40]

Every effort was made to calm his anger; and it is probable that the
representations of his personal friends convinced him of the impolicy of
further opposition; although he so long delayed his arrival in the
capital that he could only explain his tardiness by declaring that the
sudden intelligence of the King's murder had so seriously affected his
health that he was unable to obey the summons of the Queen until the
16th of May, when he was met at the gate of the city by the Duc
d'Epernon, at the head of a large body of the nobility.

The pomp in which he reached Paris, however, sufficed to prove that he
was totally unprepared for the existing posture of affairs, and that he
had taken every precaution to enforce his claims, should he find the
public mind disposed to admit them. His retinue consisted of three
hundred horse, and he travelled with all the pretensions of royalty. A
few words, nevertheless, sufficed to dispel the illusion under which he
laboured, and once convinced that the supreme authority of the Queen had
been both recognized and ratified, he had no other alternative save to
offer his submission; which he did, moreover, with so good a grace that
Marie bestowed upon him, in token of welcome, the government of
Normandy, which had hitherto been held by the Dauphin; while a short
time subsequently, when he manifested fresh symptoms of discontent, the
Duc de Bouillon was instructed to inquire by what means he could be
conciliated; upon which he demanded a pension of fifty thousand livres,
the reversion of the government of Dauphiny for his son, who had not at
that time attained his fifth year, and the sum of two hundred thousand
crowns with which to pay a debt to the Duke of Savoy, contracted on the
duchy of Moncalieri belonging to his wife. These exorbitant claims were
at once admitted, and M. de Soissons forthwith declared himself the firm
ally of the Queen.[41]

All the cities and provinces of the kingdom hastened to despatch
deputations to the capital, to present their assurances of respectful
homage to the young sovereign, and to recognize the regency of his
mother; and these were shortly afterwards succeeded by the
plenipotentiaries and envoys of the different European states, whose
condolences and congratulations were graciously acknowledged by Marie
and her ministers in the name of the new monarch.

On the 18th of the month the regicide Ravaillac was put upon his trial,
during which he exhibited a stoical indifference, that filled his judges
with astonishment. Far from seeking to evade the penalty of his crime,
he admitted it with a calmness and composure perfectly unshaken; and on
the 27th his sentence was pronounced and executed with such barbarity
that we shall avoid the detail.

On the following day the Duc de Bouillon arrived in Paris, and proceeded
directly to the palace to kiss the hand of the Queen-Regent and take the
oath of fidelity to the King, by both of whom he was warmly welcomed;
Marie being anxious to rally about her all the high nobility, especially
such as had formerly exhibited symptoms of discontent. M. de Bouillon
had not, however, been long in the capital when a quarrel arose between
himself and the Duc de Sully, whom he accused of arrogance and
presumption, reminding him that he had not always been in the exalted
position which he then occupied, while as regarded himself, he was born
to higher fortunes than he had yet attained. The anger of both parties
was so much excited during the interview, that great apprehensions were
entertained of the result of so serious a misunderstanding; nor was it
until the Due de Guise had exerted all his influence with both parties
that a partial reconciliation took place, which was subsequently
completed through the good sense of the two nobles themselves, who in
their cooler moments reflected upon the injury which must accrue alike
to the national interests and to those of the reformed religion, of
which they both were adherents, should they permit their private
feelings to interfere with their public duties.

On the second day after the interment of the King the Regent proceeded
in state to Notre-Dame, in order to assist at a solemn service which she
had caused to be celebrated for the repose of his soul. The _cortège_
consisted of seven coaches, containing herself, the Princesses of the
Blood, the Duchesses, and other great ladies of her household, under a
strong escort of guards and harquebusiers, commanded by M. de la
Châtaigneraie. All the principal nobility, with the exception of the
Comte de Soissons, attended by their several retainers, were already
mounted when she descended to the court of the palace, and were
awaiting her without the gates, when considerable excitement was created
by the Duc d'Epernon, who, detaching himself from his followers, rode to
the side of her carriage. As no Prince of the Blood had ever assumed
this privilege, not even the Guises, lofty as were their pretensions, a
general murmur arose among the assembled nobles; but M. d'Epernon,
regardless of this demonstration of displeasure, and aware that he had
already obtained considerable influence over the mind of the Queen,
retained his position, to the extreme indignation of the other
Princes.[42]

The Regent and her retinue first proceeded to the Archbishop's palace,
whence the procession was formed to the cathedral. At its head walked
the Princes of the Blood then present at the Court, and the principal
nobles, with the exception of the Prince de Conti and the Comte de
Soissons, who supported the Queen, whom they upheld by each placing a
hand beneath her arms. The Dowager Princess of Condé, the Princesse de
Conti, and the Comtesse de Soissons bore her mourning train, which was
seven French ells in length; and after them came Madame and the ex-Queen
Marguerite, both habited in the deepest black; who were in their turn
followed by all the great ladies of the Court and household.[43] At the
conclusion of the service, the Regent returned to the Louvre; and in the
afternoon, attended as she had been on the previous occasion, she
proceeded to perform her devotions in the church of St. Victor, amid
the respectful salutations of the assembled populace.

The grief of the citizens still continued unabated, but it was apparent
that a struggle for pre-eminence had already commenced among the higher
class. The Regent, whose affliction was as brief as it had been violent,
seemed suddenly endowed with a new nature. Her ambition grew with her
responsibility, and instead of participating in political questions as
she had previously done with undisguised reluctance, she entered eagerly
into public affairs, and sought earnestly to establish her authority; an
attempt in which she was seconded by the principal ministers of state,
who at once felt that by supporting her power they were consolidating
their own.

M. de Condé, the first Prince of the Blood, was still in Italy; his
brother the Prince de Conti, being totally deaf and partially dumb, was
incapable of government; the Comte de Soissons was at variance with
both; and the Duc de Nevers was commanding the army in Champagne, until
he should be superseded by the arrival of the King in person, according
to the arrangement made by that unhappy monarch before the departure of
the troops from France; while the Prince de Joinville, who, it may be
remembered, had been banished from the Court for his intrigue with
Madame de Verneuil, and who had been travelling in England and Germany,
and afterwards retired to Lorraine until his brother the Duc de Guise
should be enabled to procure his recall, was also absent. To each and
all of these Princes Marie, who at once felt the necessity of their
immediate presence in order to give dignity and stability to her
position, hastened to forward messengers to request their instant
return; a summons which was promptly obeyed by the Duc de Nevers and all
the principal officers under his command, as well as by M. de Joinville,
who also received a pressing letter from the Duc de Guise, enjoining him
to profit without delay by so admirable an opportunity of regaining his
forfeited favour. But whatever were the haste with which all endeavoured
to reach the Court, it still required time for them to do so;[44] and
meanwhile the other great nobles were anxious to shake off the control
to which they had been subjected during the previous reign. Individual
hatred came to the assistance of personal ambition, and those whose
talent enabled them to acquire influence at Court began to exercise it
no less zealously in the ruin of others than in their own
aggrandizement.[45]

The Prince de Condé had no sooner forwarded to the Queen the letter to
which allusion has been already made, than he received a pressing
invitation to return to France, for which purpose he prepared to leave
Milan; a step so obnoxious to Spain that the Condé de Fuentes spared no
pains in dissuading him from its adoption. He represented in earnest
terms the exceptional position of the Prince, whose rank as the first
subject of the realm justified him in aspiring to a throne filled by a
mere boy, who could be considered only as a puppet in the hands of an
ambitious woman; following up his arguments by an offer of efficient aid
from his own monarch to enable M. de Condé to enforce his pretensions;
and while he was thus endeavouring to shake the loyalty of his guest,
the Spanish Ambassador at the Court of Rome was engaged with equal zeal
in seeking to impress the necessity of the same policy upon Paul V. Both
were, however, destined to fail in their efforts, the Sovereign-Pontiff
declining to interfere in so extreme a case, and the Prince resolutely
refusing to adopt the course thus treacherously suggested.

At Brussels the persecution was renewed by the Spanish minister,
seconded by the Papal Nuncio, Cardinal Bentivoglio,[46] whose zeal for
the interests of Spain caused him to overlook the wishes of the Pope.
All, however, proved unavailing; and the Prince, after a brief sojourn
in the Belgian capital, finally departed for Paris; whither his wife had
previously repaired, accompanied by her step-sister the Comtesse
d'Auvergne, and where she had been warmly and honourably welcomed by the
Queen.[47]

Meanwhile, it having been considered advisable that the King should
make a declaration on the Edicts of Pacification, it became previously
necessary to form a council, under whose advice the Queen-Regent might
proceed to act. When preparing to quit France, Henri IV had drawn up a
list of fifteen persons whom he had selected for this purpose, and had
decided that every question should be determined by a majority of votes,
the Queen herself commanding only one vote; the death of the King had,
however, unfortunately tended to render the execution of his purpose
impossible, all the Princes and great officers of the Crown asserting
their right to admission, and resolutely maintaining their claim.

The Comte de Soissons urged his privilege of birth, and haughtily
declined to advance any other plea; while the Connétable de Montmorency
loudly declared that no council could legally be formed from which he
was excluded; and the Cardinal de Joyeuse maintained the same argument.
As regarded the Guises, who affected at this juncture a perfect equality
with the house of Bourbon, their eagerness to hold office defeated its
own object, the Duc de Mayenne and the Duc de Guise equally declaring
their right to assist in the government of the kingdom; while it was
considered as incompatible with the interests of the Crown that two
members of the same family should be admitted into so important an
assembly. The Duc de Nevers, who disputed precedency with the Guises,
also came forward as a candidate; while the Ducs de Bouillon and
d'Epernon, who were at open feud, and each ambitious of power,
heightened the difficulty by arrogantly asserting their personal claims.
To receive both was impossible, as from their known enmity nothing but
opposition could be anticipated; and thus, upon the threshold of her
reign, Marie de Medicis found herself trammelled by the very individuals
from whom she had hoped for assistance and support.

To select between the two last-mentioned nobles was difficult as well as
dangerous; the position of M. d'Epernon as colonel-general of the
infantry, and his immense possessions, rendering him a formidable
adversary; while the Duc de Bouillon was still more powerful from his
occupation of Sedan, his intelligence with foreign states, and his
influence over his co-religionists. Moreover, Marie was no longer in a
position to oppose the pretensions of the Duc d'Epernon, even had she
felt it expedient to do so; the unlimited confidence which she had
reposed in him since the death of her royal consort having invested him
with a factitious importance, by which he was enabled to secure a strong
party in his favour upon every question in which he was personally
interested. She had assigned to his use a suite of apartments in the
Louvre, declaring that his continual presence and advice were essential
to her; and, in addition to this signal favour, she communicated to him
the contents of all the despatches which she received, and followed his
advice upon all matters of state as implicitly as though she considered
it to be unanswerable.

His credit at Court was also greatly increased by the Comte de Soissons,
who, having ascertained the extent of his favour with the Regent, spared
no pains to secure his friendship before the arrival of the Prince de
Condé, believing that the support of one who was all-powerful for the
moment might be of essential service in counteracting the ambitious
views of so formidable a rival; and, moreover, advantageous in assisting
him to accomplish the marriage of his son Louis de Bourbon with
Mademoiselle de Montpensier, an alliance which was the great object of
his ambition.[48]

Thus the Duc d'Epernon was not only powerful in himself, but found his
pretensions recognized and sanctioned by a Prince of the Blood, an
advantage of which he was not slow to appreciate the value; and he
consequently listened to the expostulations which were addressed to him
by those who dreaded the effects of his interference in state affairs
with a quiet indifference that satisfied them of their utter inutility.

But while the Queen was bewildered by these conflicting claims, her
ministers, who were anxious to retain the power in their own hands, were
not displeased to see the number of candidates for place daily increase.
They were aware that on the arrival of the Prince de Condé he must
necessarily take his seat in the council, while it would be equally
impossible to exclude the Comte de Soissons, the Duc de Montmorency, or
the Cardinal de Joyeuse; and they felt that nothing could more
effectually limit the power of these great dignitaries than the
admission of so large a number as must tend to diminish their influence
over the Queen, and to create a confusion in the management of public
affairs which would necessarily render her more dependent upon their own
wisdom and experience. Under this persuasion they consequently impressed
upon her the absolute necessity of satisfying every claimant; and a
council was accordingly formed which was more noisy than efficient; and
where, although each was free to deliver his opinion, the ministers were
careful, in their secret audiences of the Queen, during which they
exposed their own views and sentiments, to carry out their preconceived
measures.[49]

The struggle which the late King had foretold between the Regent and her
son had, meanwhile, already commenced. The character of Louis XIII was,
from his earliest boyhood, at once saturnine and obstinate; and thus,
aware of the importance which the Queen attached to the exercises of
religion, he commenced his predetermined opposition to her will by
refusing to observe them. Remonstrances and arguments were alike
unavailing; the boy-King declined to listen to either; and Marie
ultimately commanded that he should undergo the chastisement of the
rod. The order was given, but no one volunteered obedience; the
vengeance of the man might hereafter compensate for the mortification of
the child; and the son of Marie de Medicis, stolid and gloomy though he
was, had already imbibed a full sense of the respect due to his
sovereign rank.

"How now, M. de Souvré!" [50] exclaimed the Queen; "is the frown of a
wayward boy more dangerous than the displeasure of a mother? I insist
that the King shall undergo the chastisement which he has so
richly merited."

Thus urged, the unwilling governor was compelled not only to lay his
hands upon the sacred person of royalty, but also to prepare to execute
the peremptory command of his irritated mistress; and the young Louis no
sooner perceived the impossibility of escape than he coldly submitted to
the infliction, merely saying, "I suppose it must be so, M. de Souvré,
since it is the will of the Queen; but be careful not to strike
too hard."

An hour or two afterwards, when he paid his usual visit to the Regent,
her Majesty rose on his entrance, according to the established
etiquette, and made him a profound curtsey. "I should prefer, Madame,"
said the young Prince, "fewer curtseys and fewer floggings." [51]

At the commencement of June intelligence reached the Court of the death
of the Archbishop of Rouen, the natural brother of the late King, and
it was no sooner authenticated than the Regent hastened to bestow his
abbey of St. Florent upon M. de Souvré, and that of Marmoutier, one of
the most wealthy and beautiful in France, upon the brother of her
favourite Leonora,[52] an unhappy being who was not only deformed in
person, but so wholly deficient in intellect that every effort even to
teach him to read had proved ineffectual. So abject was he, indeed, that
Concini had been careful never to allow him to come into contact with
Henri IV lest he should be banished from the Court; and this ill-advised
donation consequently excited great disapprobation, and elicited fresh
murmurs against the Italian followers of the Queen.

These were, moreover, augmented by another circumstance which
immediately supervened. A report was spread of the decease of M. de
Boëce, the Governor of Bourg-en-Bresse, a brave and faithful soldier,
who had rendered good service to his country; and the Queen, urged by
her favourite, was imprudent enough, without awaiting proper
confirmation of the rumour, to confer the government upon Concini, whose
arrogance, fostered as it was by the indulgence of his royal mistress,
was already becoming intolerable to the native nobility. This fact was,
however, no sooner made known to M. de Boëce, who had not, as it
subsequently appeared, even laboured under indisposition, than he
addressed a letter of respectful expostulation to the Regent, in which
he expressed his concern at the necessity of interfering with the
pleasure of her Majesty in the rapid disposal of his government, and
assured her that he was still able and anxious to discharge the duties
of the trust confided to him by the late King; informing her, moreover,
that he had in his possession a grant from her royal husband, bestowing
the survivorship of his appointment upon his son, of which he solicited
the confirmation by herself, feeling convinced that she could never be
served by a more zealous or able subject.[53]

Concini was accordingly divested of his government as abruptly as he had
acquired it; reluctantly resigning the coveted dignity amid the laughter
and epigrams of the whole Court.

In addition to these extraordinary instances of imprudence, Marie de
Medicis had also compromised herself with the people by the reluctance
which she evinced to investigate the circumstances connected with the
murder of her husband. Ravaillac had suffered, as we have shown, and
that too in the most frightful manner, the consequences of his crime;
persisting to the last in his assertion that he had acted independently
and had no accomplices; but his testimony, although signed in blood and
torture, had failed to convince the nation which had been so suddenly
and cruelly bereft of its monarch; and among all classes sullen rumours
were rife which involved some of the highest and proudest in the
land.[54] Among these the Duc d'Epernon, as already stated, stood out so
prominently that he had been compelled to justify himself, while the
favour which he had so suddenly acquired turned the public attention
towards the Queen herself.

Suspicions of her complicity, however ill-founded, had, indeed, existed
even previously to this period, for Rambure, when speaking of the visit
of Sully to the Louvre on the day after the assassination, a visit in
which he professes to have accompanied him, says without any attempt at
disguise, "The Queen received us with great affability, and even mingled
her tears and sobs with ours, although we were both aware of the
satisfaction that she felt in being thus delivered from the King, _of
whose death she was not considered to be wholly guiltless_, and of
becoming her own absolute mistress.... She then addressed several other
observations to the Duke, during which time he wept bitterly, while she
occasionally shed a few tears of a very different description." [55]

These assertions, vague as they are, and utterly baseless as they must
be considered by all unprejudiced minds, nevertheless suffice to prove
that the finger of blame had already been pointed towards the
unfortunate Marie; an unhappy circumstance which doubled the
difficulties of her position, and should have tended to arouse her
caution; but the haughty and impetuous nature of the Tuscan Princess
could not bend to any compromise, and thus she recklessly augmented the
amount of dislike which was growing up against her.

On the 8th of July the ex-Queen Marguerite gave a magnificent
entertainment to the Court at her beautiful estate of Issy; on her
return from whence to the capital, the Regent mounted a Spanish jennet,
and, surrounded by her guards, galloped at full speed to the faubourg,
where she dismounted and entered her coach, still environed by armed
men. As she had her foot upon the step of the carriage, a poor woman who
stood among the crowd exclaimed with an earnestness which elicited
general attention, "Would to God, Madame, that as much care had been
taken of our poor King; we should not then be where we are!"

The Queen paused for a moment, and turned pale; but immediately
recovering her self-possession, she took her seat, and bowed affably to
the people. The greeting on their part was, however, cold and reluctant.
They were still weeping over the bier of their murdered sovereign, and
they could not brook the apparent levity with which his widow had
already entered into the idle gaieties of the Court.[56]

"Only five months after Henry's assassination," says Rambure, "such of
the nobles as were devoted to his memory expressed among themselves
their indignation at the bearing of the Queen; who, although compelled
at intervals to assume some semblance of grief, was more frequently to
be seen with a smiling countenance, and constantly followed the hunt on
horseback, attended by a suite of four or five hundred princes and
nobles." [57]

In order to avert all discontent among the people, the ministers had
induced the Regent not only to diminish the duty upon salt, a boon for
which they were always grateful, but also to delay the enforcement of
several obnoxious commissions, and to revoke no less than fifty-four
edicts which had been issued for the imposition of new taxes; while
presents in money were made to the most influential of the Protestant
party, and the Edict of Nantes was confirmed.

Such was the state of the French Court on the return of the Prince de
Condé, whose arrival had been anxiously anticipated by his personal
friends and adherents, and strongly urged by the Regent herself; but
when she ascertained that a large body of nobles had gone as far as
Senlis to receive him, and that among these were all the Princes of
Lorraine, the Maréchal de Bouillon, and the Duc de Sully, she became
apprehensive that a cabal was about to be formed against her authority;
a suspicion which was augmented by the regal state in which he entered
the capital, attended and followed by more than fifteen hundred
individuals of rank.

Her fears were, moreover, eagerly fostered by the Comte de Soissons, the
Duc d'Epernon, and the Cardinal de Joyeuse, who, desirous of retaining
the influence which they had already acquired, neglected no method of
arousing her jealousy against the first Prince of the Blood. In
pursuance of this purpose M. d'Epernon, to whom the safety of the city
had been confided during the first alarm created by the murder of the
King, no sooner learnt the approach of the Prince than he doubled the
guards at the different gates, and even proposed to form garrisons in
the avenues leading to them; a circumstance which was immediately made
known to M. de Condé, who expressed great indignation at such an
imputation upon his loyalty. This affront was, however, remedied by the
able courtier, who, being anxious to conciliate both parties, had no
sooner convinced the Queen of his zeal for her interests than he
proceeded, accompanied by a hundred mounted followers, to welcome the
Prince before he could reach the city.

M. de Condé dined at Le Bourget, where he expressed his acknowledgments
to the several nobles by whom he was surrounded, and declared his
intention of upholding by every means in his power the dignity and
authority of the Regent. At the close of the repast he once more ordered
his horses, and retraced his steps as far as St. Denis, where he caused
a mass to be said for the soul of the deceased King, and aspersed the
royal coffin; after which he proceeded direct to Paris, receiving upon
his way perpetual warnings not to trust himself within the gates of the
capital. He, however, destroyed these anonymous communications one
after the other, and was rewarded by a note hastily written by the
President de Thou,[58] in which he was entreated to disregard the
efforts which were made to dissuade him from entering Paris, where the
Queen was prepared to receive him with all possible honour and welcome.

Thus assured, M. de Condé, mounted upon a pied charger, which had been
presented to him by the Archduke, and habited in the deepest mourning,
continued his journey, having his brother-in-law the Prince of Orange on
his right hand and the Comte de Beaumont on his left, with whom he
occasionally conversed; but it was remarked that as he drew near the
capital he became absent and ill at ease; and his discomposure was
destined to be increased by the circumstance that on his arrival at the
Louvre the gates were closed upon the greater number of his followers,
and only a slender retinue permitted to enter with him. On ascending the
great staircase, in order to pay his respects to the King, he was
informed that his Majesty was in the Queen's apartment, towards which he
immediately proceeded. His reception was gracious and affectionate, and
he had no sooner knelt and kissed hands than the Regent assured him of
the joy that she felt at his return, and the confidence with which she
looked forward to his advice and assistance. On quitting the royal
presence, after a prolonged interview, the Prince warmly expressed his
gratification at the welcome which had been accorded to him, declaring
that he should for ever hold himself indebted to the Queen for an amount
of affability which he could not have anticipated.

From the palace M. de Condé proceeded to his residence at the Hôtel de
Lyon, accompanied by the Duc de Guise, and followed by the same suite
with which he had entered the capital; and thence he hastened to the
residence of the Comtesse d'Auvergne to greet the Princess. Their
meeting was warm and affectionate; both were anxious to forget the past,
and to profit by the future; while the sincerity of the reconciliation
on the part of Madame de Condé was fully proved by her subsequent
devotion to his interests and happiness. Their interview was a long and
affecting one, and the Prince spent the remainder of the day in her
society, returning, however, in the evening to the Louvre to be present
at the _coucher_ of the King, whom he assisted to undress; after which
he waited upon the Queen, with whom he remained until a late hour.[59]

During the ensuing week Condé was entirely occupied in receiving the
visits of the nobility, who unanimously hastened to pay their respects,
and to solicit his protection. He held, in fact, a species of court,
upon which the favourites of the Regent did not fail to comment with an
emphatic bitterness that once more awakened the suspicions of Marie;
who, aware of the popularity of the Prince, was easily persuaded to
believe that these demonstrations were pregnant with danger to the
interests of her son; and, aware of the instability of her own position,
the prejudices which were entertained against her person, and the
ambition of the great nobles, she listened with avidity to the
suggestions of MM. de Soissons, d'Epernon, and de Joyeuse, that she
should effect the arrest of Condé before he had time to organize a
faction in his favour. In addition to the public homage of which he was
the object, they pointed out to her that frequent councils were held,
which were attended by all the chiefs of his party, both at the Hôtel de
Mayenne and at the Arsenal, where the treasure amassed by the late King
still remained under the guardianship, and at the discretion of, the Duc
de Sully. They reminded her also of the manner in which the Prince had
quitted the capital, and the vehemence with which he had expressed his
indignation at the treatment he had received, not only to his personal
friends, but also at the foreign courts which he had visited during his
absence; and they besought her to take proper precautions before it
became too late.[60]

These arguments were also warmly advocated by Concini and his wife, the
Papal Nuncio, the Spanish Ambassador, the Chancellor Sillery, Villeroy,
Jeannin, Arnaud,[61] and the celebrated Père Cotton,[62] who had fully
possessed himself of the confidence of the Queen, and who was admitted
to all her private councils.[63] Fortunately, however, Marie hesitated
to hazard so extreme a step; and day after day went by without any
hostile manifestation on the part of the Prince, who openly declared
himself resolved to support her authority. As her alarm on this subject
diminished, the private friends of the Queen turned their attention to
other matters of political interest; and according to the testimony of
Sully, zealously employed themselves in contravening all the wishes, and
disappointing all the views, of Henri IV. "There can be no difficulty,"
he says with a bitterness which shows how deeply he felt his own
exclusion, "in deciding upon the subject of their deliberations. The
union of the crowns of France and Spain, the abolition of ancient
alliances with foreign powers, the abolition of all the edicts of
pacification, the destruction of the Protestants, the exclusion of those
of the reformed religion from places of trust, the disgrace of all who
will not submit to the yoke of the new favourites, the dissipation of
the treasures amassed by the late King, in order to secure the services
of the greedy and the ambitious, and to load with wealth and power such
as are destined to rise to the highest dignities in the realm--that is
to say, a thousand projects as pernicious to the King and to the state
as they were advantageous to our most mortal enemies,--such were the
great objects of the deliberations of these new counsellors." [64]

Be this as it may, it is certain that as regarded the Prince de Condé,
the Queen was better served by accident than she would have been by the
dangerous advice of her friends. The wise precaution which she had taken
of arming the citizens of Paris, and of placing them under the command
of individuals chosen by herself, and who had taken an oath of fidelity
to her service in the Hôtel de Ville, secured the loyalty of the
populace; while the jealousy of the Guises, who, even while professing
the most ardent attachment to M. de Condé, were gradually becoming
cooler in his cause and quarrelling among themselves, gave no
encouragement to an attempt at revolt on his part, even should he have
been inclined to hazard it.

The Duc de Bouillon alone laboured incessantly to undermine the power of
the Regent; and he at length suggested to the Prince that in order to
counterbalance the authority of the Court, and to maintain his own
rightful dignity, he would do well to return to his original religion,
and to place himself at the head of the Protestants, who would form a
very important and powerful party. M. de Condé, however, declined to
follow this advice, protesting that he had no desire to involve the
kingdom in intestine commotion, and was content to await the progress of
events.[65] It is probable that he was the more readily induced to exert
this forbearance from the extreme generosity of the Queen, who,
remembering the abruptness with which he had been deprived, on the
occasion of his marriage, of the many lucrative appointments bestowed
upon him, hastened to present him with a pension of two hundred thousand
livres; to which she added the Hôtel de Conti in the Faubourg St.
Germain, which she purchased for that purpose at a similar sum, the
county of Clermont, and other munificent donations.[66]

Nor was M. de Condé the only recipient of her uncalculating generosity,
as may be gathered from the following document from the pen of
Richelieu:

"The good management of the savings fund of the late King left us, when
he was taken away, five millions in the Bastille; and in the hands of
the treasurer of the fund from seven to eight millions more, with which
he had intended to pay the army that he had raised in order to extend
the limits of his glory, which would admit no others than those of the
universe itself. The uncertainty in which we were left by that fatal
event rendering it necessary that we should secure the safety of the
state by the counterpoise of a certain body of troops, we found
ourselves constrained to employ a portion of the finances in maintaining
during a few months a large military force which had already been
raised; so that this outlay, the funeral of the King, and the coronation
of the Queen, of which the expenses were not paid, reduced these savings
very considerably. After the death of that great Prince, who was the
actual ruler of the state, it was impossible to prevent a certain
disorder, which even went so far as to induce several individuals, who
measured their deserts by their ambition, shamefully to seek, and
pertinaciously to persist in demanding, benefits which they could never
have hoped to secure during his lifetime. They profit by the
difficulties of the period, offer to serve the state, declare how they
have it in their power to injure the national interests, and, in short,
make it clearly understood that they will only do their duty upon the
most advantageous terms; and so conduct themselves that even those who
had assisted the King in amassing his treasure advise the Queen to yield
to the exigences of the time, to open her hands, and to give largely to
every one.

"In accordance with these counsels she increases the pensions and
establishments of the Princes, the nobles, and the old servants of the
Crown; she grants new ones; she augments the garrisons of her
fortresses, as much to satisfy those who hold them as for the safety of
the country, and maintains a greater number of troops than formerly; the
increase of these pensions amounting on an average to three millions
annually. The expense of the light horse and infantry is at present
(1617) three millions three hundred thousand livres; while in 1610 it
amounted only to fifteen hundred thousand francs. She makes numerous
presents, and this under advice, without increasing her receipts, as
well as reducing them annually two millions five hundred thousand livres
by the diminution of the duty on salt; and so augments her expenses
that, upon mature consideration, we shall rather be applauded for being
in the state we still are after so many necessary outlays, than blamed
for having incurred them. M. le Prince (Condé) received during six years
three millions six hundred and sixty thousand livres; the Prince and
Princesse de Conti above one million four hundred thousand; the Duc de
Guise nearly one million seven hundred thousand; M. de Nevers one
million six hundred thousand; M. de Longueville[67] one million two
hundred thousand; MM. de Mayenne, father and son, two millions and
several thousands; M. de Vendôme near six hundred thousand; M. d'Epernon
and his children near seven hundred thousand; and M. de Bouillon near
a million.

"All the Marshals of France, of which the number was increased one half,
received four times as much as formerly, their pensions being augmented
twenty-four thousand livres, which, in six years, allowing to each one
hundred and forty-four thousand livres, and calculating them at eight in
number, as they have always been, make, one with the other, one million
one hundred and fifty-two thousand livres.

"Six other dukes, or officers of the Crown, received the same allowance,
augmenting the outlay in six years by eighty-six thousand four hundred
livres. Hence it is easy to see how the treasury of France was
exhausted, since eleven or twelve articles in favour of the great nobles
of the state carry off nearly seventeen millions, without including all
that was paid to them in the shape of salaries and appointments, the
_deniers du talion_[68] for their companies of men-at-arms, grants for
the maintenance of the garrisons of their fortresses, and finally,
without calculating the troubles occasioned by several among them;
troubles which, having compelled us on three several occasions to take
up arms, have cost us, upon a strict computation, more than twenty
millions of additional outlay." [69]

We have copied this document at full length, and in this place, in
order, in so far as we are enabled so to do, to exonerate Marie de
Medicis from the charge of reckless extravagance unsparingly brought
against her by the Duc de Sully. Richelieu himself, at the period at
which this report was furnished to the ministers, was little disposed to
extenuate the errors of the Regent; and cannot, consequently, be
supposed to have volunteered any palliative circumstances. Moreover, it
is worthy of notice that the enormous sums registered above were not
lavished upon the personal favourites of the Queen, but were literally
the price paid by the nation to purchase the loyalty of its Princes and
nobles; a frightful state of things, which exhibits more forcibly than
any argument the utter powerlessness of Marie to restrain the excessive
expenditure by which the kingdom was so soon reduced to the brink of
bankruptcy.

The Regent having renewed all the alliances of France with the several
European powers, they at this period accredited extraordinary
ambassadors to the French capital, to offer the condolences and
congratulations of their respective sovereigns to the young King and his
mother. Among these the most interesting to the personal feelings of
Marie was Lord Wharton; who, in addition to the merely verbal
compliments common on such occasions, presented to Louis XIII, in the
name of his royal master, James I, the Order of the Garter, accompanied
by his affectionate assurances that he had not forgotten the promise
exchanged between himself and the late monarch, that whichever of the
two survived would be as a father to the children of the other; a
pledge which he declared himself to be both ready and anxious to ratify.
Nor was this the first proof of sympathy which the English monarch had
evinced towards Marie and her son, the Court of London having
immediately put on mourning on learning the death of Henri IV, and a
suspension of all public amusements having taken place throughout the
capital. Gratified by so signal a demonstration of respect and regard,
the Regent accordingly no sooner ascertained that the British envoy was
approaching Paris than she despatched a party of four hundred mounted
nobles to meet him outside the gates, and herself took her station at a
window in order to see him pass; a condescension which was considered to
be a signal honour at that period.

The most important of these missions, politically considered, was,
however, that of the Duque de Feria,[70] who arrived in France with a
brilliant suite, charged with the most specious and high-sounding
professions and promises of Philip of Spain, who pledged himself to
support the Regency under all circumstances, and to place at the
disposal of the Queen whatever assistance she might require against both
external and internal enemies. These magnificent assurances were coldly
received by most of his hearers, who distrusted alike the Spanish
monarch and his envoy; and who had not yet forgotten that only a few
months had elapsed since Philip had himself endeavoured, not merely to
dispossess Marie of her authority, but also to incite M. de Condé to
dispute the throne itself with her young son. Upon the Queen and her
immediate friends they, however, produced a contrary effect; her leaning
towards the Court of Spain inducing her to welcome every symptom of a
desire on the part of that Cabinet to maintain a good understanding with
her own Government. Her reception of the Duque de Feria was consequently
so gracious that he immediately proceeded to renew the negotiation
already mooted for the double alliance between the two nations, which
must, should it ever be effected, render their interests, at least for a
time, inseparable. No proposition could be more acceptable to Marie de
Medicis, who, harassed and dispirited, gladly welcomed any prospect of
support by which she might hope to keep her turbulent nobility in check;
while Philip on his side was anxious to effect so desirable an alliance,
as it would enable him, irrespectively of its contingent advantages, to
gain time, and thus secure the means of settling the affairs of Germany,
which were embroiled by the misunderstanding between the Emperor and
his brothers.

The Spanish Cabinet was, moreover, desirous of widening the breach
between the Catholics and Protestants of France, an attempt in which it
was zealously seconded by the Pope, who was readily persuaded that no
measure could be so desirable for the accomplishment of such a purpose
as a union between the two crowns. Thus the objections which had
appeared insuperable to Henri IV lost all their weight in the mutual
anxiety of Marie and Philip to secure the advantages which each sought
to gain; and, as the youth of Louis XIII forbade the immediate
celebration of the marriage, a private pledge was exchanged between the
ministers of France and the Spanish envoy, that the Regent should not
interfere with the measures of the House of Austria in Germany, while
Spain should refuse all support to the malcontents in her own kingdom;
and this mutual understanding once established, the double alliance was
concluded.[71]

In the midst of the important interests by which the mind of Marie de
Medicis was at this period occupied, a fresh demand upon her attention
was made by Madame de Verneuil, who on the 15th of September laid before
the Comte de Soissons, the Cardinal de Joyeuse, and the Duc d'Epernon,
the written engagement which she had received from the Duc de Guise, and
urged its enforcement. Her claim was warmly espoused by M. de Soissons,
who at once declared the document to be valid and unanswerable; while it
was admitted by all by whom it was examined to be strictly legal in
form, and to authorize her in demanding its ratification. Unlike that
which she had previously extorted from Henri IV, the promise which the
Marquise now produced was not only signed by M. de Guise himself, but
also by two notaries, a priest, and several witnesses. Unfortunately,
however, whether by accident, or intention on the part of the Duke, both
the notaries by whom it had been attested were aged men, one of whom had
subsequently died; while the other had become so imbecile that when
interrogated upon the subject, he first doubted, and subsequently
denied, all knowledge of the transaction; but as these contingencies did
not affect the signature of M. de Guise himself, his position was
sufficiently embarrassing; and the rather that, his passion for the
Marquise having been long extinguished, he had become the acknowledged
suitor of the Dowager Duchess of Montpensier.

There can be little doubt that had Henri IV still lived Madame de
Verneuil would have been enabled to enforce her claim, as that monarch
would not have suffered so admirable an opportunity of mortifying the
Guises to have escaped him; and thus individual imprudence would have
afforded him a triumph which the fortune of arms had hitherto denied,
and the most jealous watchfulness failed to secure; but his death had
changed the position of all the parties interested in the affair, and
Marie de Medicis looked upon it with very different feelings. Her old
and still existing hatred of the Marquise was renewed by an exhibition
of arrogance which recalled to memory some of the most bitter moments of
her existence; and her pride as a sovereign was revolted at the prospect
of seeing the woman by whom her peace had been destroyed elevated to the
rank of a Princess of the Blood, and placed beside the very steps of
her throne.

She was, moreover, anxious to limit the power of the Comte de Soissons,
and to prevent the proposed marriage of his son Louis de Bourbon with
the heiress of Montpensier, which would have opened up a still wider
field for his ambition. She accordingly espoused the cause of the Duc de
Guise, who, having no other alternative by which to rid himself of the
Marquise, did not scruple to deny the authenticity of the signature
ascribed to him; and he had no sooner resolutely done this, than the
Regent placed the affair in the hands of the President Jeannin, who with
his usual ability at length succeeded in inducing Madame de Verneuil to
withdraw her claims. Aware that he could hope nothing either from her
generosity or her dread of ridicule, the astute lawyer represented to
her the inequality of the contest in which she was about to engage
without any ulterior support; whereas the Duc de Guise was not only
powerful in himself, but would necessarily be supported by all the
members of his family, as well as protected by the Queen.

The Marquise for a time affected to believe that the legality of the
document in her possession must enable her to triumph even over these
obstacles, formidable as they were; but Jeannin reminded her of the
death of one of her witnesses, the denial of another, and the solemn
declaration of the Duke that his own signature was feigned; assuring
her that these circumstances must prove more than sufficient to prevent
the recognition of the deed in any court of law. When he found that this
argument had produced the desired impression, he next proceeded to
expatiate upon the benefit which she could not fail to derive from the
gratitude of the Guises, should she voluntarily withdraw her claim
without subjecting the Duke to the annoyance of a public lawsuit; during
which, moreover, her former _liaison_ with his brother, the Prince de
Joinville, could not fail to be made matter of comment and curiosity. He
urged upon her the desirability of avoiding a publicity which must tend
to dishonour both herself and her children; and, finally, he pointed out
the propriety and policy of seizing so favourable an opportunity to
secure the goodwill of the Regent, who would as a natural consequence be
gratified by such a concession, and be thus induced to bury the past
in oblivion.

Madame de Verneuil wept and argued in vain. Jeannin was indeed too
subtle an antagonist to afford her one inch of vantage-ground; and he so
thoroughly undermined the reasonings which she advanced, that, wearied
and discouraged, she at length consented to forego her claim.

Deprived of the position which she had formerly held at the Court, she
never re-appeared there, but spent the remainder of her life either on
her estate at Verneuil, or in her hôtel at Paris, in such complete
retirement that nothing more is known of her save the period of her
death, which took place on the 9th of February 1633, when she had
reached her fifty-fourth year.[72]

FOOTNOTES:

[26] Madame de Sully, the second wife of the Duke, was Rachel de
Gochefilet, the daughter of Jacques, Seigneur de Vaucelas, and of Marie
d'Arbalète. She was first married to François Hurault, Sieur de
Châteaupers et du Marais, who died in 1590. She survived the Duc de
Sully, and died in 1659, at the age of ninety-three years. The arrogance
of this lady was so notorious that it became the subject of one of those
biting epigrams for which Henri IV had rendered himself famous; for it
is on record that upon an occasion when he was a guest at the table of
the finance minister, he drank her health, accompanied by the following
impromptu:--

       "Je bois à _toi_, Sully;
       Mais j'ai failli;
     Je devois dire à _vous_, adorable Duchesse,
       Pour boire à vos appas
       Faut mettre chapeau bas."

_Dictionnaire des Hommes Illustres_.

[27] Bassompierre, _Mém_. p. 72.

[28] Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mère et du Fils_, vol. i. p. 55.

[29] Extracted from the Parliamentary Registers in the Memoirs of
Phelipeaux de Pontchartrain, Secretary of the Orders of Marie
de Medicis.

[30] L'Etoile, vol. iv. p. 49.

[31] _Mém. pour l'Hist. de France_, vol. ii. p. 359.

[32] _Mercure Français_, 1611, p. 17.

[33] Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mère et du Fils_, vol. i. p. 56.

[34] Charles de Cossé, Comte de Brissac, Governor of Paris, in the year
1594 delivered up that city to Henri IV, by whom he was on that occasion
raised to the dignity of Marshal of France. In 1626 Louis XIII erected
his estate into a duchy-peerage, and in the following year he died Duc
de Brissac.

[35] Urbain de Laval, Marquis de Bois-Dauphin, was one of the four
Marshals of France created by the Duc de Mayenne whose rank was
subsequently confirmed by Henri IV. He was one of the original chiefs of
the League.

[36] Matthieu, _Hist. des Derniers Troubles_, 1610, pp. 446-453.

[37] Bassompierre, _Mém._ p. 72.

[38] Sully, _Mém._ vol. viii. p. 30.

[39] Bassompierre, _Mém._ p. 72.

[40] Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mère et du Fils_, vol. i. pp. 57-59.

[41] Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mère et du Fils_, vol. i. pp. 83, 84.

[42] L'Etoile, vol. iv. p. 155.

[43] _Mercure Français_, 1610, vol. i. p. 492.

[44] Matthieu, _Hist. des Derniers Troubles_, book iii. p. 454.

[45] _Mém. de Henri, Duc de Rohan_, edit. Petitot.

[46] The Cardinal Guido Bentivoglio, born in 1579, was descended from an
illustrious Bolognese family, who had formerly been the sovereigns of
that state, and had produced alike great warriors, renowned poets, and
celebrated prelates. He was himself a distinguished diplomatist and an
able writer. Literature is indebted to his pen for the _History of the
Civil Wars of Flanders_, sundry _Memoirs_, and a _Narrative of
Flanders_. He died in 1644.

[47] _Mém. de la Régence de Marie de Medicis_, pp. 5-14. D'Estrées,
_Mém_., édition Michaud, pp. 375, 376.

[48] _Hist. de la Vie du Duc d'Epernon_, pp. 248, 249.

[49] _Mém. de la Régence_, pp. 6-8. Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 7, 8.
D'Estrées, _Mém_. p. 376.

[50] M. de Souvré was the governor of Louis XIII.

[51] L'Etoile, vol. iv. pp. 97, 98.

[52] Stefano Galigaï, known from his extreme ugliness as "the baboon of
the Court." When he went to take possession of his abbey the monks
refused to receive him as their abbot, alleging that they had been
accustomed to be governed by princes, and not by carpenters like
himself, who had been seen to handle the plane and the saw. Stefano
Galigaï withdrew into Italy after the execution of his relatives.

[53] L'Etoile, vol. iv. pp. 143, 144.

[54] Mézeray, vol. xi. p. 5.

[55] Rambure, unpublished _Mém_. vol. vi. pp. 44, 45.

[56] L'Etoile, vol. iv. p. 157.

[57] Rambure, MS. _Mém_. vol. vi, p. 79.

[58] Jacques Auguste de Thou was the representative of an ancient family
of Champagne, celebrated alike in the magistracy and the Church. One of
his ancestors, Nicolas de Thou, clerk of the parliamentary council, and
Bishop of Chartres, performed the coronation service of Henri IV in
1594, and died in 1598. Christophe de Thou, the brother of Nicolas, was
first president of the Parliament of Paris, chancellor to the Ducs
d'Anjou and d'Alençon, and a faithful servant of Henri II, Charles IX,
and Henri III, whom he served with untiring zeal during the intestine
troubles of the kingdom. He died in 1582. His son, the subject of the
present note, embraced the legal profession, and became, from
parliamentary councillor, president _à mortier_. In 1586, after the day
of the Barricades, he left Paris, and entered the service of Henri III,
who confided to him several missions in England and Italy. On the
accession of Henri IV, De Thou eagerly embraced his interests, and by
this sovereign he was also employed in negotiations of importance. At
the death of Amyot he was appointed grand master of the King's library.
During the regency of Marie de Medicis he became director-general of
finance, and was deputed, in conjunction with Cardinal Duperron, to
reform the University of Paris, and to aid in the construction of the
Royal College. Posterity is indebted to De Thou for a _History_ of his
time, in one hundred and thirty-eight books, embracing sixty years, from
1545 to 1607. His style is terse, elevated, and elegant, and the work is
full of elaborate and most minute detail. De Thou died in 1617.

[59] L'Etoile, vol. iv. pp. 164-169.

[60] Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 9, 10.

[61] Antoine Arnaud was the elder son of Antoine Arnaud, captain of the
light horse, and subsequently attorney and advocate-general of Catherine
de Medicis. The younger Arnaud embraced the legal profession, and became
an advocate of the Parliament of Paris, where he distinguished himself
by his probity and eloquence. Henri IV rewarded his merit by the brevet
of councillor of state, and Marie de Medicis appointed him
advocate-general. When offered the dignity of secretary of state, he
resolutely refused to accept it, representing to the Regent that he
could more effectually serve her as advocate-general to the King than in
the secretaryship. His able and erudite speech in the celebrated Jesuit
cause tried at Paris in 1594, in the presence of Henri IV and the Duke
of Savoy, and his work entitled _The Plain and True Discourse against
the Recall of the Order to France_, are well known. At the conclusion of
the trial named above the University offered him a handsome present;
which, however, he declined, declaring that he required no recompense,
and had given his services gratuitously; whereupon that learned body
passed a solemn act pledging itself to eternal gratitude alike towards
him and his posterity; an obligation which it would, however, appear to
have forgotten in 1656, in the case of his son. His great talents and
high character procured for him an alliance with the first president,
who bestowed upon him the hand of his daughter Catherine, by whom he
became the father of twenty children. Although adverse to the League,
Arnaud was a member of the Romish Church.

[62] Pierre Cotton, subsequently so famous as the confessor of Henri IV,
was born at Néronde, in the department of the Loire, in 1564, and was
received into the Order of the Jesuits in 1585 at Arona, in the
Milanese, whence he was sent to Milan to study philosophy. Thence he was
removed to Rome, where he remained twelve months engaged in the same
pursuit; and finally he proceeded to Lyons, where he completed his
education, and began to preach. During a sojourn at Grenoble he was
presented to the Duc de Lesdiguières, in whom he inspired so much
confidence that it was to his good offices that he was indebted for his
selection as confessor to the King. The Duke having represented him as a
sound and eloquent preacher, he was instructed to proceed to Paris,
where his sermons having realized the report of his patron, Henri IV at
once adopted him as his director. After the death of that monarch, he
was for some time the confessor of Louis XIII. In 1617 he abandoned the
Court, and travelled through the southern provinces as a
missionary-apostle. He was the author of several controversial and
religious works, and died in 1626.

[63] Sully, _Mém_. vol. viii. pp. 36, 37.

[64] Sully, _Mém_. vol. viii. p. 37.

[65] Mézeray, vol. xi. p. 10.

[66] Sully, _Mém_. vol. viii. p. 81 _note_.

[67] Henri II, Duc de Longueville, was still a mere youth, having been
born in 1595. Appointed plenipotentiary at the Congress of Münster in
1648, as well as Governor of Normandy, he threw himself into the party
of the Fronde, on the pretext of mortification at being refused the
government of Havre, but in reality in compliance with the entreaties of
his wife. As the result of this concession he, in 1650, shared the
imprisonment of the Princes de Condé and de Conti; but having recovered
his liberty during the following year, he renounced all partisanship,
and died peaceably in 1663.

[68] Fines paid for the commutation of offences.

[69] Instruction de M. de Schomberg, Comte de Monteuil, conseillier du
Roi en son conseil d'état, lieutenant-général de sa Majesté ès pays de
Limosin, haute et basse Marche, pour son voyage d'Allemagne, 1617.
_Pièces Justificatives;_ signed by Richelieu.

[70] Lorenzo Balthazar de Figueroa y Cordova, Duque de Feria, who in
1618 was appointed Governor of the Milanese.

[71] Mézeray, vol. xi. p. 17. Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mère et du Fils_,
vol. xi. pp. 106, 107. D'Estrées, _Mém_. p. 379.

[72] Dreux du Radier, vol. vi. pp. 105-107.



CHAPTER II

1610

A temporary calm--Louis XIII--Marie de Medicis purchases the Marquisate
of Ancre for Concini--Rapid rise of his fortunes--His profusion--He
intrigues to create dissension among the Princes of the Blood--His
personal endowments--The Duc de Bouillon endeavours to induce M. de
Condé to revolt--He fails--He disposes of his office at Court to the
Marquis d'Ancre--Marie de Medicis continues the public edifices
commenced and projected by Henri IV--Zeal of the Duc de
Mayenne--Cupidity of the Court--M. de Condé and his advisers--The Prince
and the Minister--Forebodings of Sully--He determines to resign
office--His unpopularity--The Regent refuses to accept his
resignation--The war in Germany--The Regent resolves to despatch an army
to Clèves--The Duc de Bouillon demands the command of the troops--Is
refused by the Council--Retires in disgust to Sedan--The command is
conferred on the Maréchal de la Châtre--A bootless campaign--The French
troops return home--New dissensions at Court--The Duc d'Epernon becomes
the declared enemy of the Protestants--Apprehensions of the reformed
party--Quarrel of Sully and Villeroy--The Regent endeavours to effect a
reconciliation with the Prince de Conti--Princely wages--M. de Conti
returns to Court--The Princes of the Blood attend the Parliament--The
Marquis d'Ancre is admitted to the State Council--Sully and Bouillon
retire from the capital--Sully resolves to withdraw from the Government,
but is again induced to retain office--The King and Père Cotton--The
Court leave Paris for Rheims--Coronation of Louis XIII--His public entry
into the capital--The Prince de Condé and the Comte de Soissons are
reconciled--Quarrel between the Marquis d'Ancre and the Duc de
Bellegarde--Cabal against Sully--The Huguenots petition for a General
Assembly--Reluctance of the Regent to concede their demand--She finds
herself compelled to comply--M. de Villeroy garrisons Lyons--Sully
retires from the Ministry--Demands of the Princes--Sully's last official
act--His parting interview with Louis XIII--The Minister and the
Mountebanks.

For a short time Marie began to hope that the conciliatory measures she
had adopted would ensure the tranquillity of the country over which she
had been called to govern. All the cities and provinces had sworn
fidelity to the King, and obedience to herself; all the governors of
fortresses had followed their example; and the great nobles, whose plans
were not yet matured, and whose cupidity was for the moment satisfied,
testified no inclination to disturb, or to trammel the measures of the
Government. The relief afforded to the middle and lower classes by the
diminution of some of the national imposts, and the abolition of others,
began to produce its effect upon the popular mind; and the young King
was received whenever he appeared in public with warm and enthusiastic
greetings. All the members of the House of Guise, traditionally the most
dangerous enemies of the Crown, affected a respectful deference towards
the Regent, and an earnest desire to uphold her authority; while the Duc
d'Epernon, who had, in her first hour of trial, at once declared himself
her devoted adherent, appeared to exist only to fulfil her wishes. The
ministers deferred to her opinions with a respect which caused their
occasional opposition to be rather matter of argument than
mortification; and, finally, Concini and his wife seemed to have
forgotten their own interests in those of their royal mistress.[73]

Meanwhile, the bearing of the young sovereign, ably prompted by the
wisdom of M. de Souvré, was admirable. Gifted with an intellect beyond
his years, and with an agreeable person, he soon engaged the affections
of the people; who, eager to love the son of Henri IV, and to
anticipate under his rule the same glory and greatness which had
characterized the reign of his father, drew the happiest auguries from
his slightest actions; while the modesty of his demeanour towards the
princes and nobles equally tended to establish a feeling of interest and
sympathy towards his person which promised a favourable result. When he
received the homage of his Court on his accession he said sadly:
"Gentlemen, these honours have devolved upon me too soon; I am not yet
old enough to govern; be faithful, and obey the commands of the Queen my
mother." [74]

Unfortunately, the ambition of Concini was more powerful than his
devotion to his benefactress; and his influence continued unabated.
Moreover, his vanity was mortified, as he could not conceal from himself
that he was indebted for his position at Court, indefinite as it was, to
the affection of the Regent for his wife; and he consequently urged
Leonora to induce the Queen to purchase for him the town of Ancre in
Picardy, whose possession would invest him with the title of marquis,
and assure to him the consideration due to that rank. Madame de Concini
accordingly proffered her request, which was conceded without
difficulty; for Marie was at that moment, to adopt the expression of
Richelieu, keeping her hands open; and this purchase formed a
comparatively unimportant item in her lavish grants. Encouraged by so
facile a success, the Italian adventurer was, however, by no means
disposed to permit even this coveted dignity to satisfy his ambition,
and through the same agency he ere long became Governor of Péronne,
Roye, and Montdidier, which he purchased from M. de Créquy for the sum
of forty thousand crowns. The Queen had been induced to furnish an order
upon the royal treasury for this amount, which was presented without any
misgiving by the exulting favourite; but M. de Villeroy, who considered
himself to have been slighted on some occasion by her Majesty, refused
to countersign the document, an opposition which so enraged Concini that
he hastened to pour out his complaints to Marie; who, overcome by the
wrath of the husband and the tears of the wife, summoned the Duc de
Sully, of whom she inquired if it were not possible to procure the
requisite amount by having recourse to the money lodged at the Arsenal.
Sully replied in the negative, declaring that the sums therein deposited
were not available for such a purpose, and reminding her that seven
millions of livres had already been withdrawn since the death of the
King.[75] It was, consequently, necessary to raise the desired
purchase-money by other means, which having been at length effected,
Concini found himself not only placed by his court-appointment on a par
with the peers of the realm, but also enabled, by the munificence of the
Regent, and the revenues of his new government, to rival them in
magnificence.

Then it was that his talent for intrigue boldly developed itself. In
vain did his wife warn him of the danger of further forcing his
fortunes, and thus drawing down upon himself the hatred and envy of the
native nobility; in vain did she represent that by indulging his passion
for power and display he must eventually create enemies who were certain
to prove fatal to his prosperity; Concini, as weak and vain as he was
greedy and ambitious, disregarded her advice, and strenuously turned his
attention to fomenting a misunderstanding among the most influential of
the nobles, in order to prevent a coalition which threatened to diminish
his own importance. He was well aware of his unpopularity with the
Princes of the Blood, who could not without indignation see themselves
compelled to treat with him almost upon equal terms, protected as he was
by the favour of the Queen; and he consequently lived in perpetual
apprehension of their forming a cabal to effect his ruin. Skilfully,
therefore, with a smiling countenance, but an anxious heart, he availed
himself of every opportunity to foment the jealousies and hatreds which
policy had for a brief while laid to rest. To each and all he appeared
zealous in their several interests, but to each and all he was alike
a traitor.

Nature had been lavish to Concini; his person was well-formed and
graceful, while his countenance beamed with intelligence, and gave
promise of far greater intellect than he in reality possessed. It was
this handsomeness which had inspired Leonora Galigaï with a passion
that was destined to be her destruction, for no doubt can be entertained
that had she never become his wife her career might have been one of
happiness and honour; but while Concini, absorbed in his wild schemes of
self-aggrandizement, trampled upon every consideration of honour and
honesty in order to attain his object, Leonora, conscious of her own
want of personal attractions, and loving her husband with a devotion
made up of gratitude and admiration, suffered herself to be overruled by
his vanity and arrogance, and sacrificed her reason and her judgment to
her affection.

The Maréchal de Bouillon having failed in his attempt to induce M. de
Condé to revolt against the authority of the Regent, by one of those
sudden transitions of feeling which formed so strange a feature in his
character, next sought to reconcile that Prince and the Duc de Guise,
who were already at feud upon the prerogatives of their rank; and he
began to anticipate a successful issue to his enterprise, when the
ministers, being apprehensive that a good understanding among the
Princes of the Blood would tend to weaken their own influence over the
Regent, gave him to understand that should M. de Condé and the Due de
Guise become firm friends, his personal importance in the country would
be greatly lessened, if not entirely overthrown. This argument was
all-sufficient with the ambitious and intriguing Bouillon, who forthwith
began to slacken in his exertions to restore peace. But these had
already proceeded so far as to render his position extremely
embarrassing; and between his apprehension of sacrificing his own
interest on the one hand, and of incurring suspicion upon the other, he
was somewhat at a loss how to proceed, when the adroit interference of
Concini, who deprecated the coalition of the Princes as much as the
ministers themselves, furnished fresh fuel to the expiring flame, and
widened the chasm between them more hopelessly than ever; and that,
moreover, with such dexterity, that M. de Bouillon never suspected what
friendly hand had come to his aid; although the Italian favourite did
not fail to propitiate the haughty Duke by every means in his power, and
so thoroughly succeeded in flattering his vanity, and encouraging his
ambitious aspirations, that, anxious to secure the interest and
assistance of so influential a person as the husband of the Queen's
foster-sister and confidential friend, M. de Bouillon was induced to
sell to him his office of First Lord of the Bedchamber; a circumstance
which at once secured a permanent footing at Court to Concini, and
opened before him a long vista of prosperity.[76]

One of the first decisions arrived at by the Regent was the completion
of all the public edifices commenced by the late King, and the erection
of such as he had resolved upon, but had not lived to commence; an
admirable act of policy by which she at once evinced her respect for the
memory of her husband, and procured employment for hundreds of workmen,
who must otherwise have been severe sufferers from want of occupation.
Those which were originated under her auspices were the castle of
Vincennes and the Royal College, the latter of which she caused to be
built strictly according to the design executed by Henry himself; and
the first stone was laid on the 28th of August by the young King,
assisted by his whole Court. It bore the arms of France and Medicis, and
beneath them was inscribed in deeply-chiselled characters: "In the first
year of the reign of Louis XIII, King of France and Navarre, aged nine
years, and of the regency of the Queen Marie de Medicis his mother,
1610." Four medals, bearing the same inscription, two of gold, and two
of silver gilt, having been placed at the corners of the stone, which
was then lowered, the Due de Sully presented the silver trowel, while
two of the attendant nobles alternately offered the hammer and the
silver trough containing the mortar.

During the following month the Queen herself performed the same ceremony
at Vincennes, respecting the fortress, and the magnificent tower built
by Charles VII, but erecting beneath its shadow a commodious residence
on the space which had heretofore been cumbered with a mass of unsightly
buildings, totally unsuitable for the reception of a Court.[77]

The Due de Mayenne, although suffering from severe indisposition, had
hastened to offer his services to the Regent; who, recognizing his
ability, and grateful for the zeal which he evinced in her interests,
expressed all the gratification that she felt at his prompt and earnest
offers of aid; which he moreover followed up with such untiring
perseverance that he caused himself to be conveyed every day to the
Louvre in his chair, in order to discuss with her Majesty the various
measures necessary to the peace and welfare of the state. Above all he
exhorted her to restrain her munificence, by which not only the Treasury
fund, but also the revenues of the country could not fail ere long to be
dangerously affected; representing to her the indecency of those who,
profiting by the calamity with which France had so suddenly been
stricken, were endeavouring to build up their own fortunes upon the
misfortune of the nation, and who were aspiring to honours suited only
to such as by their high birth and princely rank were imperatively
called upon to uphold the dignity of the Crown. This argument was warmly
seconded by Sully, Villeroy, and Jeannin; but Marie had already suffered
so deeply from the arrogance and presumption of the nobles that she was
anxious to purchase their support, and her own consequent tranquillity,
however exorbitant might be the demands of those about her; and,
accordingly, scarcely a day passed in which fresh claimants did not
present themselves, while the original recipients remained still
unsatisfied.[78]

It was not long ere the parties most interested in these donations
became aware of the attempt made to limit the liberality of the Queen,
and they did not affect to disguise their indignation at what they
designated as an interference with their just claims. It appeared to
have grown into an admitted opinion that all who had not revolted
against her authority should be recompensed for their forbearance, as
though it had been some signal service rendered to the state; and
immediate deliberations were held as to the best measures to be adopted
in order to silence the prudent counsels to which she could not finally
fail to yield. As regarded the Duc de Mayenne, he was beyond the reach
of the cabal; while Jeannin and Villeroy could oppose nothing save
words; with Sully, however, the case was widely different; he was not
only finance minister, but also keeper of the royal treasury, and his
fearless and sturdy nature was so well understood and appreciated, that
none who knew him doubted for an instant that should the Regent
persevere in her generosity in opposition to his advice, he would not
hesitate to adopt the most extreme measures to limit her power in the
disposal of the public funds.

Sully, meanwhile, like a generous adversary, had not only endeavoured to
restrain the liberality of the Queen, but had even ventured to
expostulate with many of the applicants upon the ruinous extravagance of
their demands; a proceeding which was resented by several of the great
nobles, and by none more deeply than the Prince de Condé, who was upheld
in his pretensions by his adherents, all of whom alleged that as the
royal treasury was daily suffering diminution, and must soon become
entirely exhausted, he had a right to claim, as first Prince of the
Blood, the largest portion of its contents after their Majesties. They
also reminded him of the offices and honours of which he had been
despoiled by the late King, when he would not consent to retain them as
the price of his disgrace; and, finally, they bade him not to lose sight
of the fact that liberal as the Queen-Regent might have appeared on his
return to France, he did not yet possess the revenues necessary to
maintain his dignity as the first subject in the realm. M. de Condé was
haughty and ambitious, and he consequently lent a willing ear to these
representations; nor was it long ere he became equally convinced that
his power was balanced by that of Sully; that a Bourbon was measured
with a Béthune; a Prince of the Blood with a _parvenu_ minister; and
that such must continue to be the case so long as he permitted money to
be poised against influence.

The effect of these insidious counsels soon made itself apparent in the
altered manner of the Prince towards the man whom he had thus been
taught to consider as the enemy of his greatness; for although he
endeavoured to conceal his growing dislike, his nature was too frank,
and moreover too impetuous, to second his policy; and Sully, on his
side, was far too quick-sighted to be easily duped on so important a
matter. The resolution of the Duke was therefore instantly formed; eager
as he had been for office under the late King, he had, at the death of
that monarch, ceased to feel or to exhibit the same energy. He already
saw many of the favourite projects of Henry negatived; much of his
advice disregarded; and as he looked into the future he taught himself
to believe that he contemplated only a long vista of national decline
and personal disappointment. While he had preserved the confidence and
affection of his sovereign, he had held popularity lightly, too lightly
it may be, for he was conscious of his strength, and scorned to seek for
support where he believed that he ought only to afford it; but the knife
of Ravaillac had changed the whole tenor of his existence: he saw that
he was regarded with suspicion and distrust by those who envied the
greatness which he had achieved; that however the Queen might veil her
real feelings in the garb of esteem and kindness, she shrank from the
uncompromising frankness of his disapproval, and the resolute
straightforwardness of his remonstrances; that his desire to economize
the resources of the country rendered him obnoxious to the greedy
courtiers; and that his past favour tended to inspire jealousy and
misgiving in those with whom he was now called upon to act. He was,
moreover, no longer young; his children were honourably established;
and, whatever it may have accorded with the policy of his enemies to
assume, there can be no doubt that M. de Sully was perfectly sincere in
the desire which he at this period expressed to retire from the cares
and responsibilities of office to the comfort and tranquillity of
private life. That such a resolution was most unpalatable to the Duchess
is equally certain; but Sully nevertheless persisted in his intention,
and even announced his proposed resignation to the Regent, entreating at
the same time that she would not oppose the measure.

The moment was one of extreme difficulty for Marie. On all sides she was
pursued by complaints of the finance minister, whose want of deference
wounded the pride of the Princes, while the ministers reproached him
with an undue assertion of authority, and the nobles murmured at his
interference in matters unconnected with his official character. The
Marquis d'Ancre and his wife were, moreover, among the most bitter of
his enemies, and at this precise period their influence was
all-sufficient with the Queen, who had so accustomed herself to be
guided by their advice, and led by their prejudices, that they had
obtained a predominance over her mind which invested them with a
factitious power against which few ventured to contend. She endeavoured,
nevertheless, to temporize, for she was aware of the absolute necessity
of securing the services of Sully until he could be satisfactorily
replaced; and although there were not wanting many about her who would
readily have undertaken to supersede him in his ministry, Marie herself
doubted that, wherever her selection of a successor might be made, its
duties would be as efficiently fulfilled. She was, moreover, at that
particular time earnestly occupied with the preparations necessary for
the coronation of her son, and the retirement of Sully could not fail to
involve her in embarrassment and difficulty; she consequently sought to
conciliate the veteran minister, expressed her resentment at the
annoyances of which he complained, declared her perfect satisfaction
with everything that he had done since the recognition of her regency,
and finally entreated him to take time and to reflect calmly upon the
subject before he pressed her to accede to his request.

Sully complied with her wishes, but he did so without the slightest
feeling of exultation. He was convinced that his favour was undermined
and his removal from office already determined, and he accordingly
experienced no sensation of self-gratulation at the expressed reluctance
of the Queen to deprive herself of the oldest and ablest servant of her
late consort. He was, perhaps, proud of being so acknowledged, but he
was also aware that what he had been to the murdered King he could never
hope to become to the Regent, who had already suffered herself to be
governed by greedy sycophants and ambitious favourites.

The most important subject which occupied the Council at the
commencement of the Regency was the question of the expediency or
non-expediency of pursuing the design of the late King relative to the
duchies of Juliers and Clèves. During the time which had elapsed since
the levy of the French troops the several pretenders to the succession
had not been idle, and hostile measures had already been adopted. The
Catholic Princes of Germany were opposed to the claims of the Protestant
party, the Dutch and the Spaniards siding with the former and the
English with the latter; several towns had already been taken by each
faction, and the virulence displayed on both sides threatened the
infraction of the truce with Flanders, if not a universal war throughout
Christendom. Nevertheless, the general voice was against any
interference on the part of France, the ministers being anxious to avoid
an outlay which under the then circumstances of the kingdom they deemed
alike useless and impolitic, while the nobles, fearing to lose the
advantages which each promised himself by confining the attention of the
Queen to the internal economy of the state, came to the same decision.
Sillery alone combated this resolution, declaring that as the protection
of the Princes who had appealed to him for aid had been one of the last
projects of the late King, his will should be held sacred and his
intentions fully carried out.

To this declaration, which produced an evident effect upon the Regent,
Sully replied by asserting that in order to have done this effectually,
and with the dignity worthy of a great nation, the French troops should
long ago have taken the field; whereas they had been suffered to remain
so long inactive that their interference was no longer required, and
could only be regarded by all parties as superfluous, the Prince of
Orange having so skilfully invested the city of Juliers that it would be
impossible for the enemy to make any effectual resistance; while
Austria remained perfectly inactive, evidently considering the struggle
at an end.[79] The argument of the Chancellor had, however, decided the
Queen, who exclaimed vehemently: "Say no more; I will never abandon the
allies of the French Crown; and you have now, gentlemen, only to decide
upon what general it will be expedient to confer the command of the
campaign." [80]

The Duc de Bouillon, on ascertaining the decision of the Regent,
immediately advanced his claim. He had already become weary of the
Court, and he was, moreover, anxious to obtain some employment which
might form an honourable pretext for his departure before the
approaching coronation of the King, at which he could not assist owing
to his religious principles. This difference of faith, however,
determined the Council to decline his services, his ambition and spirit
of intrigue being so notorious as to render it inexpedient to entrust
him with a command of so much importance, and one which must, moreover,
bring him into constant contact with his co-religionists; a refusal by
which he was so much mortified that he made immediate preparations for
retiring to Sedan.[81] The choice of the Council ultimately fell upon
the Maréchal de la Châtre,[82] who was appointed chief and
lieutenant-general of the King's army, consisting of twelve thousand
infantry and two thousand horse.

The brave old soldier was not, however, fated on this occasion to add to
his well-earned laurels, the words of Sully having been verified to the
letter. Juliers was invested in the beginning of August, and on the 18th
of the same month, when the French troops arrived before the city, the
Prince of Orange had already made himself master of the fortress; and
although the Imperial general gallantly persisted in his defence, he
found himself at its close compelled to capitulate, being no longer able
to resist the cannonade of the enemy, who had effected an irreparable
breach in one of the walls, by which they poured an unceasing fire into
the streets of the town.

The capitulation was signed on the 1st of September, and executed on the
morrow, after which M. de la Châtre and his forces returned to France,
and the different Princes who had been engaged in the campaign retired
to their several states.[83]

Meanwhile the Court of Paris was rapidly becoming a scene of anarchy and
confusion. The Prince de Conti and the Comte de Soissons were alike
candidates for the government of Normandy, which the Regent, from its
importance and the physical disqualifications of the Prince, conferred,
despite the solicitations of Madame de Conti, upon M. de Soissons; and
she had no sooner come to this decision than the two Princes were at
open feud, supported by their several partisans, and the streets of the
capital were the theatre of constant violence and uproar. The Duc
d'Epernon, who was the open ally of the Count, on his side supported M.
de Soissons in order to counterbalance the influence of the Prince de
Conti and the Guises; an unfortunate circumstance for Marie, who had so
unguardedly betrayed her gratitude for his prompt and zealous services
at the first moment of her affliction, that the vain and ambitious Duke
had profited by the circumstance to influence her opinions and measures
so seriously as to draw down the most malicious suspicions of their
mutual position, suspicions to which the antecedents of M. d'Epernon
unhappily lent only too much probability.[84]

In addition to this open and threatening misunderstanding between two of
the first Princes of the Blood, a new danger was created by the
imprudence of the same noble, who, presuming upon his newly-acquired
importance, uttered the most violent and menacing expressions against
the Protestants, declaring that they had been tolerated too long, and
that it would soon become necessary to reduce them to a proper sense of
their insignificance; an opinion which he had no sooner uttered than the
Marquis d'Ancre in his turn assured the Regent that if she desired to
secure a happy and prosperous reign to her son, she had no alternative
but to forbid the exercise of the reformed religion, to whose adherents
the late King had owed his death.[85]

Conscious of the cabal which was organizing against them, and having
been apprised that M. d'Epernon had doubled the number of his guards,
the Ducs de Bouillon, de Guise, and de Sully adopted similar
precautions, and even kept horses ready saddled in their stables in
order to escape upon the instant should they be threatened with
violence. The minor nobility followed the example of their superiors,
and soon every hôtel inhabited by men of rank resembled a fortress,
while the streets resounded with the clashing of arms and the trampling
of horses, to the perpetual terror of the citizens.

Coupled with these purely personal feuds others were generated of an
official nature, no less subversive of public tranquillity. M. de
Villeroy had purchased the government of Lyons from the Duc de Vendôme,
for his son the Comte d'Alincourt, having at the same time disposed of
the appointment of Lieutenant of the King previously held by the Count,
and this arrangement was no sooner concluded than he resolved to solicit
from the Queen a force of three hundred Swiss Guards to garrison the
city; a demand in which he succeeded in interesting Concini, and to
which he consequently anticipated no opposition on her part. He was
correct in his conclusion, but the sole consent of the Regent did not
suffice upon so important a question, which it was necessary to submit
to the consideration of the Council, where it was accordingly mooted.
Sully, although previously solicited by the Queen to support the
proposal, resolutely refused to do so, alleging that he would never
consent to see the King subjected to an outlay of twelve hundred
thousand livres in order to enable M. d'Alincourt to pocket one hundred
thousand, and that Lyons, by the treaty concluded with the Duke of
Savoy, had ceased to be a frontier town, and consequently required no
garrison. This reply, which made considerable impression upon Marie, she
repeated to M. de Villeroy, who retorted, loud enough to be heard by a
friend of Sully, that he was aware the Spaniards and Savoyards were no
longer to be feared, and that it was consequently not against them that
he was anxious to secure the city of Lyons, but that the real enemies
whom she had to fear were the Huguenots, who were at that moment better
situated, more prepared, and probably also more inclined to oppose her
authority than they had ever before been. This intemperate and
ill-judged speech was instantly reported to Sully, who, rising
indignantly from his seat, approached the Queen and audibly informed her
that he considered it his duty to remark that, as in order to render her
favourable to the demand of his son, M. de Villeroy had not scrupled to
malign the Protestants, but had designated them as more dangerous
enemies to herself and to the state than those who were labouring to
further the interests of Spain, he only entreated her to afford to his
denial the same weight as that which she attached to the assertion of
the State Secretary, and by placing both upon the same footing exclude
them equally from the Council, to which neither could any longer advance
a claim for admittance. To this bold and public accusation M. de
Villeroy attempted no reply, but thenceforward the two ministers no
longer maintained even a semblance of amity.[86]

Hitherto M. de Condé had taken no part in the dissensions which were
going on about him, but on the night of the 10th of July he in his turn
received a warning to be upon his guard, and in consequence he caused a
strong patrol to keep watch on all sides of his palace. Not an hour
passed in which the gallop of a party of horsemen was not heard
clattering over the rough and ill-paved streets. At midnight the Marquis
d'Ancre waited upon the Prince to convey to him an invitation from the
Regent to take up his abode in the Louvre should he not consider himself
safe in his own house, but M. de Condé coldly declined to avail himself
of the offer, alleging that the manner in which her Majesty had replied
on the previous day, when he had informed her of his having been assured
of her intention to cause his arrest, had given him no encouragement to
become her guest; an answer which by no means tended to relieve the
increasing apprehensions of the Queen, who felt the necessity of
appeasing at any sacrifice the discontent of the Princes. She
accordingly desired the presence of M. de Condé at the Louvre, a summons
which he reluctantly obeyed; and it was long before the urbanity of her
welcome assured him of the sincerity with which she entreated him to
endeavour in her name to conciliate the Prince de Conti, who, on the
refusal of the coveted government, had quitted Paris in disgust, and to
induce his return to the Court.

It was not the fashion of that period even for Princes of the Blood to
make concessions whence they derived no personal benefit, and it was
accordingly without any compunction that M. de Condé declared the terms
upon which he would undertake the proposed mission. He was to receive as
recompense for his condescension the sum of fifty thousand crowns, with
the first government which should become vacant, and was authorized to
promise two hundred thousand crowns to the Duc de Guise for the payment
of his debts, as well as several lesser sums to others of the Princes,
on condition that they should return to their allegiance and forego
their personal animosities.

These preliminary arrangements concluded, M. de Condé hastened to
represent to his uncle the necessity of his immediate return to Paris
before the departure of the King for Rheims, whither he was about to
proceed for his coronation; and the Prince de Conti having with
considerable difficulty been induced to comply with his request, the
princely relatives entered the capital with so numerous a retinue of
nobles and gentlemen that it excited general remark.

On the following day the two Princes, similarly attended, and
accompanied by the Duc de Guise and M. de Joinville, proceeded to the
Parliament, where they took their accustomed seats; but neither M. de
Soissons nor the Duc d'Epernon were present, the first pretexting
indisposition and the second declining to adduce any reason for his
absence.[87]

On the 27th the Marquis d'Ancre was admitted into the Council of State,
and took the customary oaths at the Louvre; but he received few
congratulations on this new honour, the arrogance in which he indulged
tending to disgust the higher nobles, and to alarm those who had reason
to deprecate his daily-increasing influence.

Both M. de Bouillon and the Duc de Sully, professing the reformed
religion, were ineligible to officiate at the coronation of the
sovereign, and they accordingly received the royal permission to absent
themselves, by which both hastened to profit, but from very different
motives. Sully, who was well aware that he must either voluntarily
resign his governmental dignities or submit to see them wrenched from
him, proceeded to his estate at Montrond with the firm intention of
never returning to the capital; a resolve which he was, however,
subsequently induced to forego by the entreaty of the Queen that he
would continue to afford to her son the same good service as he had done
to the late King his father, coupled with assurances of her firm
confidence in his zeal and fidelity; while Bouillon prepared to resume
his attempts to reconcile the Princes, by which means he hoped to
overthrow the Regency and to secure to himself a prominent position in
the government of the kingdom. This effort was, however, destined to
fail, too many interests adverse to any such coalition being involved in
the question to enable him to carry out his project; and he accordingly
departed for Sedan, where he forthwith began to excite the Huguenots to
discontent, representing that they would never have a more favourable
opportunity for enforcing their rights than at a moment when the nation
was shaken to its centre by the assassination of the King, and during
the minority of his successor. This argument produced, as he had
anticipated, a powerful effect upon the minds of his co-religionists, to
whom he also expatiated on the repugnance with which the Regent
conferred place or power upon a Protestant, whatever might be his
personal merit. In conclusion he urged them to demand a general
assembly, a proposition to which they readily acceded, and with the
greater willingness that the time allowed to them for this purpose by
the edict of 1597 would expire at the close of the year.[88]

Thus the weight of government pressed heavily upon Marie both from
within and without; and meanwhile the young King began to betray
symptoms of that suspicious and saturnine temper by which he was
afterwards so unhappily distinguished. On one occasion when all the
efforts of Père Cotton, his confessor, had failed to overcome his gloom
and reserve, the priest inquired in a tone of interest the nature of the
annoyance by which he was thus oppressed. "I shall not tell you," was
the resolute reply; "for you will immediately write to Spain to
inform them."

The confessor, whose intimate connection with the ministers of Philip
had rendered him obnoxious to the French people, was startled by this
unexpected answer, and immediately complained to the Queen of the
affront that had been offered to him; upon which Marie summoned the
offender, and insisted upon his immediately informing her who had dared
to suggest such an idea, when with considerable reluctance the boy-King
stated that his nurse had warned him to be cautious because the reverend
father was in correspondence with that country.

"Since she permits herself to play the politician," said the Queen, "she
shall be dismissed."

"Be it so," retorted the young Prince; "but," turning towards the
Jesuit, "I shall remember that it was his work, and I shall not always
be a child."

A short time subsequently, while playing with a favourite fawn, he hid
himself among the shrubs in the gardens of the Tuileries, and remained
so long in his concealment that his attendants became alarmed and were
compelled to inform the Queen that although they had sought the King
everywhere, to entreat him to return, they could not ascertain where he
had gone. Marie in great alarm caused all around her to join in the
search, while she remained at one of the windows in a state of agonizing
anxiety. At length the retreat of the fugitive was found, and M. de
Souvré threatened him with the rod.

"As you please," he said sullenly; "but if, in order to satisfy the
Queen, you lay a hand upon me to-day, I will keep up appearances with
you, but I will never forget it." [89]

Only a few days subsequently (2nd of October) Louis XIII, attended by
his Court, proceeded to Rheims for his coronation, the royal ornaments
used upon such occasions having been removed from St. Denis to that
city. The Cardinal de Joyeuse performed the ceremony, the archiepiscopal
chair being vacant at the time; and the Princes de Condé and de Conti,
the Comte de Soissons, the Ducs de Nevers, d'Elboeuf,[90] and d'Epernon
represented the ancient Dukes of Burgundy, Normandy, and Aquitaine, and
the Counts of Toulouse, Flanders, and Champagne.

[Illustration: LOUIS XIII. KING OF FRANCE.]

On the morrow the young sovereign was invested with the Order of the
Holy Ghost, which he immediately afterwards conferred upon the Prince de
Condé, and on Tuesday the 19th he stood sponsor for the child of the
Baron de Tour; after which he proceeded to St. Marcou, where he touched
a number of persons suffering under the loathsome disease which it was
the superstition of the age to believe could be removed by contact with
the royal hand.

On the 30th of the month the Court returned to Paris, and was met at the
Porte St. Antoine by the civic authorities, at the head of two hundred
mounted citizens, amid a cannonade from the Bastille, and ceaseless
flourishes of trumpets and hautboys. The Regent had, however, preceded
her son to the city, and stood in a balcony at the house of Zamet to see
him pass, where he no sooner perceived her than he withdrew his plumed
cap, which he did not resume until having halted beneath the window he
had saluted her with a profound bow. He then proceeded by torchlight to
the Louvre, accompanied throughout his progress by the same acclamations
of loyalty and enthusiasm as had greeted the ears of his dead father
only a few months previously.

It had been a great relief to Marie de Medicis that before the departure
of the Court for Rheims a reconciliation had been effected between the
Prince de Condé and the Comte de Soissons; but her tranquillity was not
destined to last, the attendants of the Cardinal de Joyeuse and those of
the Marquis d'Ancre having had a violent altercation during the journey
on the subject of the accommodation provided for their respective
employers; and this quarrel was no sooner appeased than the new-made
Marquis originated another with the Duc de Bellegarde, alleging that as
First Lord of the Bedchamber he had a right to take precedence of the
Duke, who was Grand Equerry of France. M. de Bellegarde, irritated by
this presumption, complained loudly of the affront, and was supported in
his indignation by the Duc d'Epernon and by the Comte de Soissons, who
was becoming weary of the Italian adventurer.

Even the Queen herself could neither support nor justify such undue
pretensions; and M. d'Ancre, reluctantly convinced that he had on this
occasion swooped at too high a quarry, swallowed his mortification as
best he might, and endeavoured to redeem his error; an attempt in which
he was seconded by the Queen, in obedience to whose wishes M. le Grand
somewhat contemptuously consented to forego any further demonstration of
his resentment; while the Duc d'Epernon agreed, with even more facility,
to follow his example. The Comte de Soissons was not, however, so easily
to be appeased; and he accordingly, with the ever-wakeful policy for
which he was proverbial, made his reconciliation with the mortified
Marquis conditional upon his promise of assistance in his two darling
projects of obtaining the hand of the heiress of Montpensier for his son
the Comte d'Enghien, and of accomplishing the ruin of the Duc de Sully.

At this crisis the finance minister could ill afford to see a new
antagonist enter the lists against him, surrounded as he already was by
enemies eager for his overthrow. The Prince de Condé had neither
forgotten nor forgiven his advice to Henri IV to order his arrest when
he fled to Flanders to protect the honour of his wife; the Duc de
Bouillon was jealous of his interest with the Huguenot party; while the
Chancellor, Villeroy, and Jeannin were leagued against him, in order to
support their own authority. To Concini, moreover, his very name was
odious, and consequently the new adversary who had thus been evoked
against him was the most dangerous of all, inasmuch as he was the most
subtle and vindictive, and also because he possessed the ear of the
Queen, who had so long accustomed herself to support him against what he
saw fit to entitle the oppression of the French nobles, that she had
ceased to question the validity of his accusations. The religion of
Sully also tended to indispose the Queen towards him. Herself a firm
adherent of the Church of Rome, she looked with an eye of suspicion upon
a minister whose faith differed from her own; and this circumstance
operated powerfully in adding weight to the accusations of his enemies.
The Prince de Condé alone for a time refused to sanction the efforts
which were made to ensure his political ruin, but he was in his turn
eventually enlisted in the cause by the prospect which was held out to
him of sharing in the profits resulting from the confiscation of the
minister's public property; his retirement from office necessarily
involving his resignation of all the lucrative appointments which he
held under the Government.[91]

It was at this precise moment that the Huguenots petitioned the Regent
for the general assembly, as advised by the Due de Bouillon; a
circumstance which could not have failed to prove fatal to the interests
of Sully had he still desired to retain office, as the comments of the
anti-Protestant party by which she was surrounded, seconded by her own
personal feelings, tended to exasperate Marie against all who professed
the reformed faith. She consequently received the appeal with
considerable asperity, declaring that it was impossible to calculate the
demands which would be made upon the indulgence of the Crown, although
there was no doubt that they would prove both unjust and extravagant;
but being unable to refuse to confirm the provisions of the edict, she
finally instructed the ministers to suggest delay as the best means of
delivering herself for a time from the consequences of compliance.

In this attempt she, however, failed; the Duc de Bouillon being well
aware that should the prescribed period be suffered to elapse without
some pledge upon the part of the Government, the demand would be evaded
by a declaration that the allotted time was past; and accordingly the
Protestants persisted in their claim with so much pertinacity that the
Regent found herself compelled to authorize their meeting at Saumur in
the course of the ensuing year.

Under these circumstances it is scarcely matter of surprise that despite
the opposition of the finance minister, M. de Villeroy succeeded in
effecting the establishment of a garrison at Lyons; and the
misunderstanding was shortly afterwards renewed between the two
functionaries by a demand on the part of the State Secretary that the
maintenance of the troops should be defrayed from the general receipts
of the city. The Orientals have a proverb which says, "it is the last
fig that breaks the camel's back," and thus it was with Sully.
Exasperated by this new invasion of his authority, he lost his temper;
and after declaring that the citizens of Lyons were at that moment as
competent to protect themselves as they had ever been, and that it was
consequently unreasonable to inflict so useless an outlay upon the King,
he accused the Chancellor, who had favoured the pretensions of Villeroy,
of leaguing with him to ruin the Crown; a denunciation which, as it
equally affected all the other ministers who had espoused the same
cause, sealed his own overthrow.[92]

Satisfied of a fact so self-evident, Sully resolved no longer to breast
the torrent of jealousy and hatred against which he found himself called
upon to contend, but without further delay to resign at once the cares
and dignities of office; a design which was vehemently opposed not only
by his own family, but also by his co-religionists, the whole of whom,
save only such of their leaders as had private reasons for seeking his
dismissal, were keenly sensible of the loss which their cause must
necessarily sustain from the want of his support. The Duke, however,
firmly withstood all their expostulations; wearied and disgusted by the
inefficiency of his endeavours to protect the interests of the sovereign
against the encroachments of extortionate nobles, and the machinations
of interested ministers, he felt no inclination to afford a new triumph
to his enemies by awaiting a formal dismissal; and he accordingly took
the necessary measures for disposing of his superintendence of the
finances, and his government of the Bastille (the most coveted because
the most profitable of his public offices), in order that he might be
permitted in his retirement to retain the other dignities which he had
purchased by a long life of labour and loyalty.[93]

While this important affair was in progress, the Duke paid a visit to M.
de Rambure, during which he said with evident uneasiness: "The Bishop of
Fenouillet was with me yesterday, and assured me that in the morning a
secret council had been held at the residence of the Papal Nuncio, at
which were present the Chancellor, the Marquis d'Ancre, Villeroy, the
Bishop of Béziers, and the Duc d'Epernon; and that after a great deal
of unseemly discourse, in which the memory of the late King was treated
with disrespect and derision, it was decided that everything should be
changed, that new alliances should be formed, new friendships
encouraged, and new opinions promulgated. It was, moreover, arranged
that a letter should be forthwith sent to the Pope, informing him that
it was the intention of France to be guided in all things by his advice,
while every guarantee should be given to the Duke of Savoy until the
conclusion of a proposed alliance with Spain; and finally, that all
persons adverse to this line of policy should be compelled to resign
their places, especially those who professed the Protestant faith. Thus
then, my good De Rambure," he added bitterly, "if I am wise I shall
quietly dispose of my places under Government, making as much money of
them as I can, purchase a fine estate, and retain the surplus, in order
to meet such exigencies as may arise; for I foresee that all the
faithful servants of the late King who may refuse to defer to the
authority of the Marquis d'Ancre, will have enough upon their hands. As
for me," he pursued vehemently, "I would rather die than degrade myself
by the slightest concession to this wretched, low-born Italian, who is
the greatest rascal of all those concerned in the murder of the King."
"Which," adds Rambure for himself, "he truly is." [94]

Every circumstance, moreover, conspired to strengthen the Duc de Sully
in his resolution. He had, as we have shown, returned to the capital at
the express invitation of the Regent; but he had no sooner arrived there
than he discovered how little his tenure of office was really desired.
As, however, both his public and private interests required his presence
in Paris for a time, he considered it expedient to suppress his
indignation, and to hasten his arrangements, in order to be at liberty
to withdraw whenever he should be prepared to do so; and he had
accordingly no sooner recovered from the fatigue of his journey than he
proceeded to pay his respects to the King and his august mother.

On reaching the Louvre he was informed that Louis was at the Tuileries,
where he would spend the morning, and that the Regent dined at the Hôtel
de Zamet; upon which the Duke determined to proceed thither, where he
found her attended by the Duc de Villeroy, Bassompierre, M. and Madame
d'Ancre, and the principal members of her household. As Sully was
announced Marie uttered a gracious welcome, and ungloving her hand,
presented it to him to kiss; which he had no sooner done than she
assured him of her continued regard and requested that he would talk no
more of retiring from the service of the King, whose youth and
helplessness rendered the good offices of those who had enjoyed the
confidence of his royal father doubly necessary to himself; and finally,
despite all that had previously occurred, the Duke took his leave almost
shaken in his belief that Marie had been induced to sanction his
dismissal.

This illusion was, moreover, encouraged by the conduct of the
courtiers, who had no sooner ascertained the nature of his reception by
the Queen, than they flocked to the Arsenal to compliment him upon his
return to Court; and Zamet took an opportunity of impressing upon him
that he was indebted for the undisguised favour of Marie to the
influence of the Marquis d'Ancre; who subsequently visited him in his
turn, but so visibly with the intention of inducing him to uphold the
extravagant pretensions which he was about to advance, that Sully did
not disguise his disgust, and they separated mutually dissatisfied.

On the morrow the Duke proceeded, according to appointment, to the
Louvre, where he was immediately admitted to the private closet of
Marie; but he had scarcely crossed the threshold ere he became aware
that his contention with Concini had induced a coldness on the part of
the Regent, which she strove in vain to conceal. She, however, made no
allusion to their interview, confining her complaints to the
extortionate importunities of the great nobles, which she declared her
resolution to resist; and, by referring them to the Council, cause them
to be subjected to so rigorous an examination as must tend to their
diminution. She then placed in the hands of the finance minister a list
of the demands which had been made upon her, entreating him to assist
her in opposing claims that would end, if satisfied, by ruining the
interests alike of the King and of the nation; and she concluded by
pledging her royal word that she would uphold the Duke in his
opposition, as resolutely as ever he had been supported in his former
measures by the deceased monarch. More and more bewildered by this
apparent inconsistency, Sully respectfully took possession of the
document, declaring his perfect willingness to serve both her Majesty
and the state by every means in his power; and he then awaited her
pleasure upon other matters of more public importance; but on all else
Marie was silent, and the disappointed minister at length withdrew to
examine the paper which had been delivered to him, and of which we will
transcribe the principal contents as singularly illustrative of the
venal state of the Court at that period.

The Prince de Condé demanded the captaincy of the fortress of
Château-Trompette, the government of Blaye, and the principality of
Orange as far as the bank of the Rhône; the Comte de Soissons solicited
the captaincy of the old palace of Rouen, and the fortress of Caen, with
the tax upon cloth, flax, and hemp, which he had previously endeavoured,
as elsewhere stated, to obtain from Henri IV; the Duc de Lorraine
requested payment in full of the whole sum specified in his treaty,
although he had previously consented to accept two-thirds of the amount;
the Duc de Guise demanded the royal assent to his marriage with Madame
de Montpensier, the revocation of all the patent taxes in Provence and
the port of Marseilles, and the liquidation of his debts; the Duc de
Mayenne, who had warned the Regent to resist the extravagant
pretensions of the Princes, also came forward with a demand for large
sums independently of those insured to him by his treaty; the Duc
d'Aiguillon[95] sought to obtain a donation of thirty thousand crowns,
the governments of Bresse and the city of Bourg, together with the
embassy to Spain, and enormous emoluments; the Prince de Joinville, so
lately an exile from the Court, requested the government of Auvergne, or
failing this, that of the first province which should become vacant; the
Duc de Nevers asked for the entire proceeds of the tax upon salt
produced in the Réthelois, with the governments of Mézières and
Sainte-Menehould; the Duc d'Epernon demanded the command of a corps of
infantry, to be constantly kept in an efficient state, the survivorship
of his governments for his son, and that fortifications should be formed
at Angoulême and Saintes, with three or four other equally important
concessions; the Duc de Bouillon sought the liquidation of some alleged
debts, the proceeds of the excise, and salt duties, and all other
imposts levied in the viscounty of Turenne, the arrears of pay due to
his garrisons, the liquidation of all pensions which had been
discontinued during his exile, with the royal assent to a general
assembly of the Protestants; the Chancellor followed with a demand of
all the fees appertaining to the lesser seals, that the salary of his
office should be doubled, and that he should have letters of nobility
in Normandy. All the officers of the Crown sought an increase of
twenty-four thousand livres to their several pensions; members of the
Council, augmented emoluments; governors of provinces, the revenues of
these provinces which had hitherto reverted to the Crown; municipal
companies, exemptions and privileges previously unthought of; and
finally, Concini, who had arrived in the French capital only a few years
previously comparatively destitute, set forth his requirements to be
these--the _bâton_ of Marshal of France, the governments of Bourg,
Dieppe, and Pont-de-l'Arche, the proceeds of the salt duties of
Languedoc, and those of the reduction accorded at Moissets and Feydant.

Such, and much more of the same description, were the contents of the
documents upon which the wrath of Sully scarcely permitted him to dwell
with patience. It was a chaos whence he dreaded even to attempt to draw
the elements of order, feeling as he did that every concession made to
one of the parties must necessarily evoke the jealousy and indignation
of another, while it was utterly impossible, and would, moreover, be
dangerously impolitic in any case, to satisfy the pretensions of all.
The enormous sums produced by the imposts, whose transfer from the Crown
to individuals was thus unblushingly demanded, would have rendered the
Princes to whom they might be granted more wealthy than many of the
petty sovereigns of Europe; while the governments and provinces sought
to be obtained by others must inevitably make them independent of the
King, and thus place the subjects who should have been the support of
the throne in direct rivalry with their sovereign. The finance minister
was aghast; and the more earnestly he considered the subject, the more
he became convinced that there was no alternative save to negative all
these egregious claims _en masse_; a conviction which satisfied him that
by fearlessly adopting this course, his tenure of office would, had he
still desired to contend with the cabal which had already been formed
against him, become utterly impossible.

Nevertheless Sully did not shrink from what he considered an imperative
duty; and accordingly he resolved no longer to trust the lip-deep
assurances by which he had been beguiled since his return to Court, but
immediately to declare his resignation of office, and to follow it up by
the most resolute and determined opposition.[96]

He had no sooner, therefore, irrevocably arrived at this decision, than
he addressed a letter to the Regent, in which he requested her
permission to retire from the Government; and, satisfied that his suit
must prove successful, he calmly awaited her reply. Meanwhile, resolved
that no reproach should be cast upon him after his departure, he
demanded an audience of the King, in order to explain to him the exact
state of the royal treasury, and the manner in which its contents had
been diminished since the demise of his royal father; but as a private
interview with a mere child would not have satisfactorily sufficed to
accomplish this object, Sully produced his papers before all the members
of the royal household; and while engaged in the necessary explanation,
he remarked that the antiquated fashion of his costume, which he had not
changed for years, had excited the hilarity of the younger courtiers. He
suddenly paused, and after glancing coldly round the giddy circle,
looked fixedly at the young monarch, and said with a dignity which
chased in an instant every inclination to mirth in the bystanders:
"Sire, I am too old to change my habits with every passing wind. When
the late King, your father of glorious memory, did me the honour of
conferring with me upon state affairs, he was in the habit of previously
clearing the apartment of all buffoons and mountebanks." [97]

To the Princes of the Blood, the ministers of state, and the nobles of
the Court, Sully that day added to the list of his enemies the
boy-courtiers of the royal circle.

Thus in heart-burning and uncertainty closed the year which had
commenced with the assassination of the King. An arrogant and unruly
aristocracy, a divided and jealous ministry, and a harassed and
discontented population were its bitter fruits.

FOOTNOTES:

[73] Richelieu, _La Mère et le Fils_, vol. i. p. 91.

[74] _Mercure Français_, 1610, p. 505.

[75] L'Etoile, vol. iv. pp. 191, 192.

[76] Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 10, 11. D'Estrées, _Mém_. p. 379.

[77] _Mercure Français_, 1610, pp. 510, 511.

[78] Matthieu, _Hist, des Derniers Troubles_, book iii. p. 455.

[79] Sully, _Mém_. vol. viii. pp. 81-84.

[80] _Mercure Français_, 1610, p. 505.

[81] Mézeray, vol. xi. p. 11. L'Etoile, on the contrary (vol. iv. p.
132), asserts that the command was offered to Bouillon, but that he
wisely declined it.

[82] Claude de la Châtre was originally one of the pages of the Duc de
Montmorency, who continued to protect him throughout his whole career.
He distinguished himself in several battles and sieges, and having
embraced the party of the League possessed himself of Berry, which he
subsequently surrendered to Henri IV. At the period of his death, which
occurred on the 18th of December 1614, at the advanced age of
seventy-eight years, he was Marshal of France, Knight of the King's
Orders, and Governor of Berry and Orleans.

[83] Mézeray, vol. xi. p. 13.

[84] L'Etoile, vol. iv. p. 146.

[85] L'Etoile, vol. iv. p. 147.

[86] Sully, _Mém_. vol. viii. pp. 121-124.

[87] L'Etoile, vol. iv. pp. 183, 184.

[88] Richelieu, _Hist, de la Mère et du Fils_, vol. i. p. 109.

[89] L'Etoile, vol. iv. pp. 192, 193.

[90] Charles de Lorraine, Duc d'Elboeuf, was the grandson of Réné,
Marquis d'Elboeuf, the seventh son of Claude, Duc de Guise. He married
Catherine Henriette, the daughter of Henri IV and _La belle Gabrielle_,
and was involved in the intrigues of the Court during the ministries
both of Richelieu and Mazarin. His posterity terminated in his grandson,
Emmanuel-Maurice, who died in 1763, after having served the Emperor in
Naples. During his sojourn in Italy the Duc Emmanuel built a superb
palace at Portici; and it is worthy of remark that it was while
searching for ancient marbles to decorate that edifice that the ruins of
Herculaneum were discovered. The subject of the note died in 1657.

[91] It may not be uninteresting to our readers to learn the honours and
offices to which Sully had attained at the death of Henri IV. Here
follow his titles: Maximilien de Béthune, Knight, Duc de Henrichemont
and Boisbelle; Marquis de Rosny; Comte de Dourdan; Sire d'Orval,
Montrond, and St. Amand; Baron d'Espineuil, Bruyères, le Châtel,
Villebon, la Chapelle, Novion, Bagny, and Boutin; King's Counsel in all
the royal councils; Captain-Lieutenant of two hundred ordnance men-at
arms; Grand Master and Captain-General of the Artillery; Grand Overseer
of the highways of France; Superintendent of Finance, and of the royal
fortifications and buildings; Governor and Lieutenant-General of his
Majesty in Poitou, Châteleraudois, and Loudunois; Governor of Mantes and
Gergeau; and Captain of the Bastille.

[92] Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mère et du Fils_, vol. i. pp. 109-113.

[93] Sully, _Mém_, vol. viii. pp. 125-129.

[94] Rambure, MS. _Mémoires_, vol. vi. pp. 78, 79.

[95] Henri de Lorraine, Duc d'Aiguillon, peer of France, elder son of
the Duc de Mayenne.

[96] Sully, _Mém_, vol. viii. pp. 109-118.

[97] Bonnechose, vol. i. p. 450.



CHAPTER III

1611

A cold correspondence--Increasing influence of the Marquis d'Ancre--
Animosity between the Duc d'Epernon and Concini--Disunion of the Princes
de Guise and de Lorraine--Renewed dissensions between M. de Bellegarde
and the Marquis d'Ancre--They are reconciled by the Comte de
Soissons--Marriage of the Duc de Guise--Jealousy of M. de Soissons
--Quarrel between the Prince de Conti and the Comte de Soissons--
Mission of the Duc de Guise--A new rupture--Intervention of the Duc de
Mayenne--Alarm of the Regent--Sully leaves Paris--Madame de
Sully--Retirement of M. de Thou--Unpopularity of the Duc d'Epernon
--Marie de Medicis endeavours to reconcile the Princes--The royal
closet--The Protestants prepare for the General Assembly--The Prince de
Condé retires to Guienne--The Duc d'Epernon is charged to watch his
movements--Arrogance of Concini--Concini seeks to marry his daughter to
a son of the Comte de Soissons--Indignation of the Prince--Cunning of
Concini--Bouillon returns to Court--He offers his services to the Regent
at the General Assembly--He proceeds to Saumur--He desires to be
appointed President of the Assembly--He is rejected in favour of M. du
Plessis-Mornay--He attributes his defeat to Sully--He resolves to
conciliate the ex-Minister of Finance--Meeting of the Assembly--The
Court determines to dissolve the meeting--Prudence of Du Plessis-Mornay
--Death of M. de Créquy--The Marquis d'Ancre succeeds to the government
of Amiens--His insolent disregard of the royal prerogative--Indignation
of the ministers--The Regent resents his impertinence--She refuses to
receive Madame d'Ancre--Intrigues of the Princesse de Conti--The
favourites forgiven--Marie de Medicis issues several salutary
edicts--Court festivities--The Duchesse de Lorraine arrives at
Fontainebleau--Death of the Duc de Mayenne--Death of the Queen of
Spain--The Duchesse de Lorraine claims the hand of Louis XIII for her
daughter--Death of the Duc d'Orléans--Departure of the Duchesse de
Lorraine--Rival claims--M. de Brèves appointed preceptor to the Duc
d'Anjou--The Comte de Soissons applies for the duchy of Alençon--Rebuke
of the Regent--A hunting-party--A new cabal--Recall of the Maréchal de
Lesdiguières--Marie de Medicis purchases the Hôtel de Luxembourg.

The first political event worthy of record which occurred in France at
the commencement of the year 1611 was the retirement of the Duc de
Sully; who, on the 24th of January, received the reply of the Regent to
the letter in which he had solicited her permission to withdraw from the
Government. It contained a faintly-expressed regret at the resolution he
had taken; "but that," as he himself says, "was merely for form's sake;"
[98] and the accuracy of his judgment is evidenced by the fact that only
two days after he had again written to declare that his determination
was unalterable, the Duc de Bouillon delivered to him the official
warrants by which he was discharged from his duties of Superintendent of
Finance, and Captain of the Bastille. These were worded in the most
flattering terms; and he was guaranteed against all inquiry or annoyance
upon either subject from the day in which he resigned his tenure of
office. A third warrant was, moreover, added, by which, in consideration
of his past services, the Queen bestowed upon him the sum of three
hundred thousand livres; and a few days subsequently he received letters
from the King and the Regent authorizing him to transfer the command of
the Bastille to M. de Châteauvieux;[99] which he had no sooner done than
he turned all his attention to the final arrangement of his public
accounts, in order that he might, with as little delay as possible, be
enabled to quit the capital.[100]

The transfer of the Bastille was shortly afterwards followed by that
of the ministry of finance, which was placed under the joint
direction of M. de Châteauneuf[101] and the Presidents de Thou and
de Jeannin; the latter of whom was, however, invested with the rank of
Comptroller-General, which gave him the entire management of the public
funds, to the exclusion of his colleagues, who were in consequence only
eligible to assist in the official distribution of the public monies.
The charge of Grand Master of the Artillery, which was resigned with the
command of the Bastille by Sully, the Regent retained in her own
hands.[102]

From that time the Marquis d'Ancre became pre-eminent at Court; and not
only the ministers, but even the Princes of the Blood themselves, looked
with distrust upon his power over the Queen. Between the Italian
favourite and the Duc d'Epernon especially, a feeling of hatred had
grown up, which, although as yet veiled by the policy for which each was
so distinguished, only awaited a fitting opportunity to reveal itself on
both sides; and the struggle for power was not the less resolute because
it was carried on amid smiles and courtesies. Meanwhile, also, the
Princes de Guise and de Lorraine evinced symptoms of disunion, which
threatened the most serious consequences; and amid all this chaos of
conflicting interests and passions the royal authority was treated with
contempt, and Marie began to tremble for the stability of her
regency.[103]

Early in the month Concini entered upon his duties as First Lord of the
Bedchamber, and had a serious misunderstanding with the Duc de
Bellegarde, who refused to allow him to take possession of the
apartments in the Louvre set aside for the person holding that rank
during the year in which he was on duty, on the pretext that the
Marquise his wife being already lodged in the palace, he had no right to
claim any further accommodation. Concini insisted on the privilege of
his office, upon which M. le Grand, to whom he had become hateful from
his arrogance and pretension, retorted in a manner which excited his
temper; and high and bitter words were exchanged that threatened the
most serious results, when the Italian, suddenly recollecting that he
was exasperating by his violence an enemy too powerful for him to
contend against without support, declared that he would pursue the
quarrel no further in person, but would place his honour in the hands of
the Comte de Soissons, and abide by his decision. Against such a
determination M. de Bellegarde had, of course, nothing to urge; and the
Italian forthwith requested the Marquis de Coeuvres, in whom M. de
Soissons had great confidence, to represent the affair to that Prince,
and to assure him that he would be entirely governed by his advice.

The Duc d'Epernon, delighted to find that Concini had made a new enemy,
strenuously exerted himself to induce M. le Grand to maintain his
ground, a counsel which the latter was well disposed to follow; but the
Comte de Soissons, who was anxious to secure the influence of the
Italian Marquis that he might the more readily effect the marriage of
his son, eagerly embraced so favourable an opportunity of purchasing his
good offices; and consequently represented in stringent terms to his
opponent the utter impracticability of refusing to concede to M. d'Ancre
the same consideration and indulgence which had been enjoyed by his
predecessors in office, together with the danger that he personally
incurred by so gratuitously offending an individual protected by the
Regent. Whatever additional arguments he may have advanced, it is
impossible to decide; suffice it that the Duke yielded, the quarrel was
terminated, and Concini established in the coveted apartments; at which
his gratification was so unmeasured that he pledged himself to M. de
Soissons to induce the ministers to consent to the union of the Comte
d'Enghien with the heiress of Montpensier, as well as to exert himself
in preventing the marriage of the Duc de Guise and the Duchess her
mother.[104]

On the 5th of January the marriage of the Duc de Guise and the Duchesse
de Montpensier was, however, celebrated by the Cardinal de Joyeuse at
the early hour of four in the morning, in the chapel attached to the
hôtel of the lady; an arrangement which was in all probability caused by
the opposition made to this alliance by the Comte de Soissons, who,
still anticipating a union between his son and the daughter of the
Duchess, was apprehensive that Madame de Montpensier might be induced to
enrich the family of which she thus became a member with no
inconsiderable portion of the wealth which must otherwise form part of
the property of the young heiress.

Only three days subsequently, while the Court were still occupied with
the festivities which took place on the occasion, the Prince de Conti
and his brother M. de Soissons, who was on his way to the Louvre,
unfortunately met in a narrow street leading to the Cross of Trahoir,
when it had become so dark that it was impossible to distinguish the
appointments or liveries of either equipage; and the carriages were no
sooner entangled than the coachman of the Comte, ignorant of the rank of
his opponent, compelled the servants of the Prince to make way, an
insult which he resented with a bitterness that induced him to refuse
the apology subsequently proffered by his brother.[105]

Alarmed by this new feud, the Queen requested the Duc de Guise to see
the Prince de Conti, and to beseech him to effect a reconciliation with
his turbulent brother, a mission which the young Duke cheerfully
undertook; but it unfortunately happened that in order to reach the
Abbey of St. Germain, where M. de Conti was then residing, it was
necessary for him to pass beside the Hôtel de Soissons, which he
accordingly did, followed by a retinue of thirty horsemen. This
circumstance was construed into a premeditated insult by the Count, who
immediately assembled his friends, and informed them that he had been
braved in his own house by the Duc de Guise; whose adherents had no
sooner ascertained that there was an assemblage hostile to his interests
forming at the Hôtel de Soissons, than they in their turn flocked in
such numbers to afford him their support that in a short time more than
a thousand nobles were collected under his roof.

When this fact was communicated to M. de Soissons he sent to request
that the Prince de Condé would accompany him to the Louvre, to demand
from the Regent that she should afford them satisfaction for the
insolence of the Duc de Guise; who, when summoned to explain his motives
for inflicting an affront upon the Count, simply and calmly replied that
he had never sought to insult M. de Soissons; but had, in obedience to
the command of her Majesty, been compelled to pass an angle of his
hôtel, which he had moreover done without a demonstration of any
description, and accompanied only by the escort suitable to his rank.
That his sincere anxiety had been to second the wishes of her Majesty;
and that so far from seeking to envenom an unfortunate misunderstanding
which could only tend to involve the Court in new disorder, he had from
the first moment resolved not to offer an opinion upon the merits of the
feud; a determination to which he still meant to adhere.

This manly declaration in no degree softened the ire of the Count; who,
enchanted at having discovered an opportunity of annoying and harassing
M. de Guise during the first week of his marriage, retorted in a manner
which impelled the Queen to request that each would retire to his hôtel;
and to express at the same time her earnest hope that a little calm
reflection would induce the disputants to become reconciled.

The quarrel was nevertheless sustained throughout the whole of that and
the following day; and so great was the commotion which it excited in
the capital that the Regent, apprehending its result, considered it
necessary to order that chains should be in readiness to be stretched
across the streets, and that the citizens should be prepared to take up
arms at a moment's notice. On the morrow new efforts were made to pacify
the irritated parties, but all having alike failed, a detachment of the
royal guard was stationed near the person of each of the Princes in
order to ensure his safety.[106]

Meanwhile the Queen requested of M. de Guise, by a confidential
messenger, that he would wait upon the Comte de Soissons, and apologize
for having inadvertently given him offence; a proposition to which he
readily consented; feeling that such was in reality the case, and that
the rank of the Count as a Prince of the Blood demanded this concession.
Previously, however, to putting his design into execution, he informed
the Duc de Mayenne of the promise which he had made to comply with the
desire of the Regent, when he was instantly and vehemently dissuaded
from his purpose; M. de Mayenne representing that being himself the
party aggrieved by the groundless accusation brought against him, he
could not, without impairing the dignity due to his position, personally
declare his regret for an act which he had never committed. He then
counselled the Duke to place the affair in his hands, alleging with a
sophistry which it is difficult to reconcile with reason that an apology
made for him, instead of by him, would at once answer every purpose, and
spare his own pride.

M. de Guise, who throughout the whole transaction would appear to have
been impatient to rid himself of all trouble and annoyance, and
consequently careless by what means it was terminated, readily accepted
the offer; and the Duc de Mayenne accordingly repaired to the palace,
where he informed the Queen that he was authorized by his nephew to
offer his excuses for the displeasure which he had unconsciously given
to his Highness the Comte de Soissons; to which he begged to add the
assurance that the House of Guise, individually and collectively, were
desirous to live upon terms of friendship and courtesy with the Count,
if he would accept their advances in the same spirit.[107]

Delighted by the prospect of restored peace, Marie made no comment upon
the fact that the Duc de Guise had failed to fulfil the promise which he
had made of offering his own apology to the Prince. She was terrified by
the anarchy that had grown up about her, and by the facility with which
those who should have been the most earnest supporters of the dignity
and safety of the Crown found means to involve the Court in confusion
and cabals; a fact which moreover tended to place her more completely in
the power of Concini and his wife than would probably ever have been the
case under other circumstances.

On the 14th of January in the present year the Regent, through the
active agency of Concini, gave her solemn consent to the marriage of the
Comte d'Enghien with Mademoiselle de Montpensier, despite the opposition
of the Cardinal de Joyeuse, the Duc d'Epernon, and a number of the Court
nobles, who were alarmed at the prospect of so close an alliance between
M. de Soissons and the Duc de Guise.

The next event of interest was the final departure of M. de Sully from
the capital, who, previously to quitting Paris, returned to the Regent
the warrant for three hundred thousand livres with which she had, as she
declared, sought to repay his past services. The letter by which the
deed was accompanied was, although perfectly respectful, haughty, cold,
and resolute: nor did the Duke make an effort to disguise from her that
the onerous duties which he had performed to the late monarch, to the
nation, and to herself, could not be repaid by an order upon the royal
treasury; while his retirement was voluntary, and not intended to be
contingent on any such arrangement. The Court gossips made merry over an
altercation which they declared to have taken place between the Duke and
Duchess on the occasion of this transaction; Madame de Sully, whose
vanity was wounded by the loss of dignity and influence consequent on
the retirement of her husband, considering this additional pecuniary
sacrifice alike idle and uncalled-for, and reproaching him with undue
haughtiness in thus refusing the last favour which the Regent had
desired to confer upon him; and the ex-minister retorting by reminding
her that she, at least, had no cause for complaint, since from the
obscure condition of the daughter of a petty lawyer he had elevated her
to the rank of a Duchess, and made her the companion of Princes.[108]

When the dismissal of Sully had been decided, it will be remembered that
De Thou was one of those appointed to succeed him in his office as a
director of finance. The appointment was not, however, accepted; M. de
Harlay, fatigued and disgusted by the intrigues which daily grew up
about him, being anxious to resign his office of First President of the
Parliament, which had previously been held by Christophe de Thou, to a
son so worthy of inheriting his honours. The younger De Thou was,
moreover, his brother-in-law, and he anticipated no difficulty in
transferring his charge to that minister. Even to the last he was,
however, fated to disappointment; for not only was this nomination
opposed by the Pope, but Villeroy, who desired to see the place bestowed
upon one of his own adherents, had sufficient influence with the Regent
to induce her to confer it upon M. de Verdun, over whom he possessed an
unlimited control.[109]

This affront so deeply wounded M. de Thou that he resigned the office
which he had previously held, and even refused to obey the summons of
the Regent, conveyed to him through the Marquis d'Ancre; alleging that
she had treated him with so much disrespect, and had subjected him to
mortification so severe, that he must decline an interview. In vain did
Concini impress upon him that the Queen was willing to allow him to name
his own successor, and to indemnify himself as he considered just; he
would listen to no conditions. To every argument he coldly replied: "She
has treated me ill, and I will not go."

"You are a philosopher," said the Italian sarcastically.

"I had need be one," was the calm retort; "when I consider how I have
been used."

Concini reported the ill-success of his mission, but Marie,
unfortunately blinded by those about her to her real interests, was
indifferent to the just resentment of an able and faithful servant.
"_Non lo farò mai_," was her only remark; and one of the most efficient
and zealous of her ministers was carelessly cast off.[110]

Meanwhile the jealous dissensions of the nobles continued to increase,
and constant quarrels took place between the Cardinal de Joyeuse, the
Comte de Soissons, and the Duc d'Epernon. The latter was, at this
period, detested by all other aspirants to royal favour; his rapid
success at Court had made him insolent; and he advanced such
preposterous claims, and arrogated to himself such an indefeasible right
to the gratitude and indulgence of the Regent, that the Princes of the
Blood took the alarm, and the Prince de Condé and the Comte de Soissons
resolved to effect his disgrace. Concini, as we have already shown, had
long nourished the most bitter resentment against one whom he considered
as a formidable rival in the good graces of the Queen, and he was
consequently induced without difficulty to join in the conspiracy; his
vanity suffering bitterly from the contempt with which he was
ostentatiously treated by the Duke, who was, as the Italian asserted, a
mere gentleman of fortune like himself, until raised to his present rank
by the favour of Henri III, a favour as ill-gained as it was
unbecomingly exhibited. M. d'Epernon, with an absence of tact as
astonishing as it was lamentable in a man whose ambition was unbounded,
and who had no party to support his pretensions against the Princes of
the Blood, lent himself meanwhile by his puerile and headstrong folly to
their enmity, by affecting to brave it; and after a sharp altercation
with M. de Soissons, who did not conceal his intention of insulting him
whenever and wherever they might meet, the infatuated Duke, on the
pretext that he considered his personal safety endangered by the menaces
of the Prince, paraded the streets of Paris with a retinue of seven or
eight hundred mounted followers; and occasionally proceeded on foot to
the Louvre, with his guards ranged in order of battle, and in such force
that the van had frequently reached the gates of the palace before the
rear had quitted those of the Hôtel d'Epernon, a distance of two
thousand paces.[111]

This external affectation of almost regal state did not, however,
prevent him from experiencing the most bitter mortification at his
exclusion from all public affairs. He still considered that as he had
been the first to swear fealty, and to place his services at the command
of the Regent, he had a right to retain the supremacy which he had then
assumed; and this arrogant pretension enabled him for a time to support
the daily affronts to which he was subjected; but it soon became
apparent that his position must ere long prove untenable.

The Cardinal de Joyeuse, whose favour depended upon that of the Duc
d'Epernon, having perceived that his credit with the Regent was on the
decline, determined to proceed to Rome. He accordingly took leave of the
King and his mother, and left France; while M. d'Epernon endeavoured to
effect a reconciliation with the Comte de Soissons, an attempt which was
repulsed with resolute coldness on the part of the Prince, who was daily
attaching himself more and more to the interests of Concini.

Early in the spring the Court left Paris for Fontainebleau, accompanied
by all the Princes of the Blood; and during their sojourn in that palace
Marie de Medicis constantly caused M. de Soissons and the Ducs de Guise
and d'Epernon to form her party at _prime_, trusting that constant
companionship, and the equal favour which she was cautious to show to
all, might tend to a general reconciliation.[112]

These efforts on the part of the Regent, however, were of little avail;
individual jealousies and individual interests absorbed all the great
nobles of the Court; and every concession to which they were induced was
purchased at a price, and even then ungraciously yielded. Marie de
Medicis at times lost alike courage and temper under the difficulties by
which she was beset; and on one occasion, when she had retired to her
closet, after having occupied herself for a time with the transaction of
public business, she gave way to a train of thought so agitating and so
painful that she suddenly rose and summoned the ladies of her suite to
her presence. Mesdames de Conti, du Fargis, and de Fervaques hastened
to obey her commands; and as the tapestry fell behind them, the
Queen-mother silently, but with an imperious gesture, motioned them to
be seated. A deep spot of crimson burned on the cheek of Marie, and
there was a harsh glitter in her eye which betrayed the coming storm;
nor was it long ere it burst forth.

"I have asked your presence, Mesdames," she said, fixing a stern look
upon the Princesse de Conti, "when you were each, in all probability,
more pleasantly engaged than in sharing the disquiet and _ennui_ of your
harassed mistress; but, _per Dio!_ the present position of affairs
leaves me no alternative, my own thoughts having become--thanks to those
who should lend their assistance in bearing the grievous burthen which
has been thrust upon me--but sorry companions. The Princes are still
conspiring against my authority, and questioning my acts, as though I
were responsible to each and all of them for the measures which I
consider it expedient to adopt. According to the creed of these
gentlemen, the Regent of France should be but a mere puppet, of which
they, at their good pleasure, may pull the strings. Scarcely have I
recalled them to Court, scarcely have I restored them to favour, than
they organize new cabals excite the nobles to discontent, and breed
discord, alike in the Parliament and among the people. What more can
they require at my hands than what I have already bestowed? The national
treasury is well-nigh exhausted in meeting their demands. Look back an
instant: M. de Condé has, within the last two years, received more than
nine hundred thousand crowns--the Comte de Soissons six hundred
thousand--and MM. de Longueville, d'Epernon, and de Vendôme, two
millions among them! Nor is this all: in contenting them I have been
compelled to lavish enormous sums upon others, who would have considered
themselves aggrieved had they not also shared in my munificence. But let
these proud spirits--who, despite their noble blood and their princely
quality, do not disdain to barter their loyalty for gold--let them
beware lest they urge me beyond my patience. Your brothers and
brothers-in-law, Madame la Princesse, will do well to be warned in time.
They are playing a hazardous game. If they believe that by exhausting
the royal treasury they will succeed in rendering themselves masters of
the kingdom, they are deceived; the Queen-mother watches alike over the
life and the crown of her son. Once more I say, let them be warned in
time; not a plot, not a cabal shall escape my knowledge; and should they
disregard the caution which I now condescend to give them through
yourself, they will learn too late what it is to incur the vengeance of
Marie de Medicis."

The silence of a moment succeeded to this outbreak of impassioned
eloquence; for Madame de Conti, fearful of augmenting the anger of her
royal mistress, ventured no reply; and after a brief struggle with
herself the Queen-mother smoothed her ruffled brow, and forcing a smile
to her still quivering lips, she resumed in an altered tone: "Enough of
this, however; tell me now somewhat of your ballet of last night,
Princesse: you have as yet made no mention of its success."

"I awaited the commands of your Majesty ere I intruded the subject,"
replied Madame de Conti coldly; "its success was all that I
could desire."

"Did the Duc de Guise honour your festival with his presence? He seldom,
as I am aware, encourages our Court frivolities."

"MM. de Condé and de Guise were both among my guests, Madame; and I
could have ill brooked the absence of either."

"Ay, ever together, in feast and feud," murmured Marie bitterly to
herself. "And Bassompierre?" she pursued aloud--"the gallant courtier
who has as many mistresses as I have halberdiers in my bodyguard, and
who creates an atmosphere of gladness about him, be he where he may; was
he as gay and gorgeous as his wont?"

"Your Majesty is probably not aware," replied Madame de Conti with
increased formality, "that M. de Bassompierre has quarrelled with one of
my relatives; a circumstance which deprived me of the honour of his
presence."

"And the Marquis d'Ancre?" demanded the Queen-mother abruptly; "did he
at least partake of your splendid hospitality?"

The cheek of the Princess blanched, and her voice slightly trembled as
she said hurriedly: "M. d'Ancre was on duty, Madame, about the person
of your Majesty, and I did not presume to ask for his absence from
the palace."

"_Veramente, principessa_" exclaimed Marie de Medicis with sudden
vehemence, "you excel yourself to-day! But have a care! My faithful
servants were no meet guests, as it would seem, at a festival in honour
of the House of Guise. Truly your energetic kinsmen are goodly
diplomatists. Not content with conspiring in the Louvre--under the very
roof which shelters their sovereign--they conspire also in their own
palaces, by the glare of tapers as busily as in the shade. Even to the
measure of soft music they can adapt their treasonable practices; and
amid the murmurs of flattery can breathe the whispers of disaffection as
glibly as when closeted together secure from all intrusion. So be it
then; exclude from your glittering _salons_ all those who are the known
adherents of the sovereign and his mother; they will be careful for the
future to repay the courtesy in kind. I have as great a dread of spies
as yourself, Madame de Conti, and henceforward I will profit by the
lesson which you have taught me."

"I can assure your Majesty--" faltered the lady of honour.

"Nay, Princesse," interposed the Queen-mother bitterly, "do not wrong
yourself. Have at least the courage necessary for the personage which
you have seen fit to enact, and believe me that you will need it when
you venture to cope with a Medicis. Florence can also boast of her
diplomatists, and they may chance to prove even more subtle than those
of our good city of Paris. There is a stern and a profitable lesson in
the past should you read it aright."

So saying Marie de Medicis rose from her seat, and with a stately step
walked to a window overlooking the river, where she remained for a
considerable time apparently absorbed by the busy scene beneath her; but
at length she turned slowly towards the three ladies, who had also
risen, and said calmly: "His Majesty is about to visit me. Mesdames du
Fargis and de Fervaques will assist me to receive him. I excuse Madame
de Conti; after the manifold exertions of the past night she must
need repose."

The Princess made the three low curtsies customary on such occasions,
and disappeared behind the tapestried hangings which were held back by
the usher on duty; while the Queen-mother threw herself once more upon
her seat, and burying her face in her hand, again fell into a deep and
bitter reverie.

Meanwhile the Protestants were preparing for the General Assembly, and
the Maréchal de Bouillon proceeded to Sedan, in order to assist at their
deliberations. He had no sooner done this than the Prince de Condé
requested permission to go and take possession of his government of
Guienne, a project which at that particular moment created universal
suspicion, and excited the alarm of Marie, who was apprehensive that he
was about to solicit the support of the reformed party. Under this
impression she exerted all her ingenuity to invent pretexts for delaying
his purpose without awakening his distrust; but they ultimately proved
unavailing, and she found herself compelled to allow him to depart.

At this particular juncture the Duc d'Epernon, irritated by the
persevering avoidance of M. de Soissons, and the covert sarcasms of
Concini, resolved in his turn to absent himself, and to proceed to his
estate at Angoulême, flattering himself that the Regent would be but too
happy to recall him when she discovered how great a blank his departure
must cause at Court. It is moreover probable that he anticipated the
same gratifying impediments which had delayed the journey of the Prince
de Condé; and consequently his disappointment was extreme as he
perceived the pleasure which Marie could not conceal when he mentioned
his wish to retire for a brief interval from the capital. The wound thus
inflicted upon his vanity was, however, soon healed, when, with a
renewal of all her former confidence and condescension, she confessed to
him that no proposition could have been more agreeable to her at that
moment, from her anxiety to secure the services of a friend upon whom
she could rely to keep a zealous watch over the movements of the Prince
de Condé, whose departure had awakened her fears. She then explained the
suspicions she had formed, and gave M. d'Epernon full and ample
instructions for his future guidance, accompanying them with assurances
of her firm reliance upon his attachment and fidelity; thus enabling the
crestfallen courtier, who must otherwise have withdrawn in partial
disgrace, to leave the palace with every mark of favour and
distinction.[113]

The precaution thus taken with regard to M. de Condé proved, however,
supererogatory, the Prince having no further object in view in absenting
himself from the capital than the gratification of that love of personal
splendour and amusement in which he had always indulged whenever an
opportunity presented itself; and thus while the Duc d'Epernon was
watching all his movements with eager and anxious suspicion, M. de Condé
was simply enacting the quasi-sovereign at Bordeaux and the adjacent
cities where he was received with great ceremony, harangued by the
municipal bodies, and surrounded by a petty court composed of all the
nobles of the province.[114]

Concini had watched the departure of the exulting Duc d'Epernon with a
delight as great as his own; the only rival who threatened to
counterbalance his influence was now removed from the immediate sphere
in which he could prove obnoxious to his fortunes, and he soon felt the
effect of his absence in the increased dependence of the Regent upon
himself and his wife. Nor was the result less obvious to all the members
of the Court, who, as their several interests prompted, were either
overjoyed or dismayed at the unconcealed supremacy of the vainglorious
Marquis, whose bearing became more arrogant than ever, and who appeared
at each moment ready to dispute precedency even with the Princes of the
Blood themselves. All bowed before him. He was the only certain channel
of favour and preferment; and whenever, as frequently occurred, some act
of presumption more glaring than usual aroused against him the ire of
the great nobles, the tears and entreaties of his wife always sufficed
to induce the Regent to make new sacrifices for the purpose of ensuring
his impunity.

This imprudence on the part of Marie, although originating, as it
obviously did, in an inclination to maintain that peace at Court of
which she had now learned by bitter experience to appreciate all the
value, increased the evil which it was intended to obviate, the Italian
only seeing in her indulgence a new motive for continuing his moral
aggressions; and thus the evil increased slowly but surely, and the
hatred engendered by the preposterous pretensions of the Marquis
acquired new force, even when all around him appeared to admit his
supremacy, and to bend before his will.

One of the most striking proofs of the power to which he had at this
period attained is afforded by the fact that a nobleman known as a firm
adherent of M. de Soissons, while conversing with the Marquis de
Coeuvres on the subject of the increasing feud between the Princes of
the Blood, suggested that he could perceive no more certain method for
the Count to maintain himself in favour at Court than that he should
effect the marriage of one of his daughters with the son of the Italian
favourite. This project startled the Marquis, who never for an instant
suspected that the proposition could have originated with M. de Soissons
himself; and whose proud ancestral blood boiled within him at the idea
of so close an alliance between one of the first subjects of France and
an adventurer of obscure birth, whose very claim to respectability was
even yet disputed. He was, however, fated to feel even greater surprise
when, a short time subsequently, as both parties were conversing with
the Marquis in the Queen's gallery at Fontainebleau, he heard a third
person openly, and without the slightest hesitation, enter upon the
subject with Concini himself; who, with evident gratification but
affected humility, immediately replied that such an alliance was an
honour to which he could not pretend, but that were it ever to be
seriously proposed to him, he could only reply in the words of Cardinal
Farnese to an individual who suggested to him an arrangement which at
once flattered his self-love and appeared impossible of completion, "_Tu
m'aduli, ma tu mi piaci_." The subject was not pursued, but it was one
not readily to be forgotten by those who were aware that it had been
mooted; and there can be little doubt that the self-esteem of the
Marquis d'Ancre gained fresh force, even from a passing allusion to the
possibility of such an event.

Encouraged, as it would appear, by the brilliant prospect thus opened
up for his son, Concini soon began to think no aggrandizement beyond the
reach of his ambition; and readily overlooking both personal hatred and
political good-faith in the pursuance of his darling passion, it was not
long ere he argued that since a Prince of the Blood had seen fit to
solicit an alliance with himself, he might readily infer that a noble of
inferior rank could not but esteem it as an honour; and accordingly he
commenced a negotiation with the Duc d'Epernon, between whose second
son, the Marquis de la Valette, and his own daughter he desired to
effect a marriage. This proposal was, however, resented as an insult by
the Duke, who was not sparing in his comments upon the insolence of the
Italian adventurer; and so unmeasured were his expressions that his ruin
must have been ensured from that moment, had not a circumstance shortly
afterwards occurred which rendered his services necessary to the Regent.

Before the end of April the Duc de Bouillon returned from Sedan, and
manifested an earnest inclination to devote himself, in so far as his
honour and religious principles would permit him to do so, to the
interests of the Regent during the approaching assembly at Saumur;
adding, moreover, that should the Queen deem his absence from the
meeting desirable, he would remain at Court until it had terminated. So
unexpected a concession highly gratified Marie, who, with many
acknowledgments for his devotion to her cause, referred him to M. de
Villeroy, by whom, his proposal having been demurely considered, it was
declined; the minister being aware that the influence of M. de Bouillon
would be alone able to counteract that of Sully, who, having left the
Court disappointed and dissatisfied, would not fail to profit by so
favourable an opportunity of asserting his power over his
co-religionists. He, moreover, while thanking the Prince for a proof of
loyalty so welcome to the Government, and so important to the sovereign,
hinted that should he succeed in weakening the power of Sully, and in
inducing the Assembly to consent to such terms as could prudently be
conceded, he would confer upon him the government of Poitou, of which it
had been decided to deprive the ex-finance-minister.[115]

This new impulse added fresh energy to the sudden loyalty of M. de
Bouillon, who at once proceeded to Saumur in order to secure his
election as President of the Assembly, a distinction which he declared
to be due to his long services. The Protestant deputies were, however,
by no means inclined to admit his claim, and more than suspicious of his
intentions; and they consequently, despite his undisguised annoyance,
selected for that dignity M. du Plessis-Mornay, the governor of the
city; a circumstance which did not fail to increase the hatred felt by
the Maréchal towards Sully, to whom he immediately attributed the
mortification. Soon made conscious, by the coldness with which his
invectives and threats were received by the principal Huguenot nobles,
that he was only injuring by his unseemly violence the cause he sought
to serve, M. de Bouillon nevertheless resolved to restrain himself, and
to endeavour to effect a good understanding with Sully, whose personal
importance on this occasion was powerfully increased by the influence of
his son-in-law the Duc de Rohan. The Assembly met for the first time in
May, and continued their sittings until September, at which period their
demands and grievances were despatched to the Court, the dismissal of
Sully being indicated as one of the latter.

This fact alarmed the Council, who moreover could not contemplate
without great apprehension the union and perfect understanding which
had, throughout the whole proceedings, characterized the Protestant
leaders, who had taken their usual oath to uphold each other and the
faith which they professed; and who were, as the ministers well knew,
able to redeem their pledge so effectively should they see fit to exert
their power, that any demonstration on their part could not fail to
convulse the nation from one extremity to the other. After considerable
deliberation it was agreed that the only method by which the impending
evil could be averted was to dissolve the Assembly before it could
proceed from words to acts; and accordingly a pretext for this breach of
faith was at once found in the declaration that the King had permitted
the assembling of the reformed party to enable them to select six
individuals, from among whom he might himself nominate two as general
deputies; while at the same time the documents forwarded to the Court
were returned, with an emphatic refusal to make any reply to their
contents until such time as the required nomination had been made. All
opposition, save what must have assumed a decidedly hostile character,
was of course impossible on the part of the Protestants, whose
indignation, loud as it naturally became for a time, was finally
silenced, even if not extinguished, by the calm and dignified eloquence
of the Comte du Plessis-Mornay, who reminded the Assembly that their
first duty as Christians was obedience to the ruling powers.

"Let us separate," said this prudent and right-minded man, as
exclamations of anger and violence resounded on all sides. "Let each, on
leaving this spot, leave also all animosity behind him. We should only
heighten the evil by spreading it through the provinces. Each has
failed, yet each has done well. Let us now endeavour to obtain by
respectful silence and Christian patience what has been refused to our
remonstrances and requests." [116]

A short time subsequently, the death of M. de Créquy, governor of the
town and citadel of Amiens, having taken place, a great number of the
nobles were ambitious to succeed to the vacant dignity, among whom was
the Marquis d'Ancre, whose insatiable ambition grasped at every
opportunity of acquiring honour and advancement. Having confided his
wish upon this subject to M. de Soissons, he was encouraged in his
pretensions by that Prince; and having obtained the royal permission to
absent himself for a time from the Court, he hastened to Picardy,
attended by a hundred horsemen, in order to negotiate the affair with
the entire sanction of the Queen; where, although opposed by the
ministers who were anxious to curb his daily increasing power, he
ultimately succeeded in his attempt.

Nevertheless the objections raised by the Council, not only to his
acquirement of the government, but also to the marriage of his son with
the daughter of M. de Soissons, which had been communicated to them by
the Marquis de Rambouillet,[117] embittered his temper, and determined
him to discover some means of revenging what he considered as an undue
interference with his personal affairs. The extraordinary imprudence of
which he was soon afterwards guilty rendered him, however, for a time
unable to indulge his vindictiveness, and even threatened to involve him
in the disgrace which he was so anxious to see visited upon his
adversaries. In the first place, intoxicated by his newly acquired
dignities, he affected the utmost attachment for M. de Soissons, who had
exerted all his influence in his behalf; and remarked that the
proposition lately made to him by the Prince for an alliance between
their families was no longer so unequal as it had then appeared,
although he was still aware that it would be a great honour conferred
upon himself; but that as the Duc de Longueville was about to marry
another daughter of the Prince, and that their governments were
contiguous, the union of his own son with the sister of the bride might
prove a mutual advantage, and of considerable service to M. de Soissons
himself. This unseemly boast he followed up by a still more flagrant
proof of presumption; for, being anxious to assert his entire authority
over the citadel of Amiens, he entered into a financial treaty with M.
de Rouillac the lieutenant, and M. de Fleury the ensign of the fortress,
and replaced them by adherents of his own, without the sanction of the
Regent; after which he borrowed, on his own responsibility, twelve
thousand livres from the receiver-general of the province for the
payment of his garrison.

Such an unprecedented disregard of the royal prerogative had never
before occurred in France; and it no sooner became known to the
ministers than they hastened to represent it in its most heinous aspect
to the Queen, impressing upon her in no measured terms the danger of
such a precedent, which could not fail to bring contempt upon her
authority, and to introduce disorder into the finances of the nation;
and entreating her to remember that should she sanction an alliance
between the imprudent favourite and a Prince of the Blood, she could no
longer hope to restrain his extravagances. Marie de Medicis was jealous
of her dignity, and moreover fully conscious of the fault which had
been committed by Concini, and her anger was consequently unbounded. In
the first burst of her indignation she refused to see Madame d'Ancre,
whom she accused of having incited her husband to these demonstrations
of disrespect towards herself; and her wrath was skilfully increased by
the Princesse de Conti, who looked upon the favour of the low-born
Leonora with impatience and disgust, and could not desire a more ready
means of ensuring her discredit than that of following up the arguments
of the ministers, of dwelling upon the little respect which had been
shown to the person and privileges of her royal mistress, and of
expatiating on the ruinous effect of so pernicious an example upon the
discontented nobility.

The effect of these frequent and confidential conversations may be
imagined; the mind of the Queen became more and more excited against her
former favourites, while she clung with the tenacity of helplessness to
Madame de Conti, through whose medium the Princes began to hope that
they should at length triumph over the detested Italian. But the sun of
Concini was not destined to set so soon; and although he had fierce
enemies, he still possessed zealous friends; the more zealous, perhaps,
because they had accurately read the character of the Tuscan Princess,
and were well aware that she had so long leant upon others that she had
at last become incapable of perfect self-reliance. Through the medium of
those friends, but undoubtedly still more from the daily and hourly
_ennui_ experienced by Marie herself while thus deprived of the society
of her foster-sister, the pardon of Concini was finally obtained. He was
declared to have erred through ignorance; and a perfect reconciliation
took place which overthrew all the half-fledged projects of the
disappointed courtiers.

Two circumstances alone tended to mitigate the satisfaction of the
Marquis d'Ancre. The representations of the ministers had succeeded in
so thoroughly awakening the apprehensions of the Regent, that she had,
at their first interview, strictly forbidden him thenceforward to
attempt the accomplishment of his anticipated alliance with the House of
Bourbon; while he had found himself compelled to apologize to the Comte
de Soissons for the excesses in which he had indulged in Picardy, and
which had drawn down upon the Prince the resentment, not only of the
Queen herself, but of the whole Council, by whom he was accused of
having upheld the pretensions of the Italian in order to aggrandize his
own daughter.

In the month of July Marie de Medicis bestowed great happiness upon the
whole nation by remitting the arrears of taxes which had remained unpaid
from the year 1597, until that of 1603; while she also, at the same
period, decreed the abolition of the gaming academies to which allusion
was made in the preceding volume; and, finally, ascertaining that the
edict against duelling issued by the late King had been evaded by
certain sophistical observances, she published a declaration setting
forth that all hostile meetings, however arranged, would not only
entail the penalties already denounced against them, but henceforward be
regarded as acts of assassination. This wholesome and well-timed
declaration was verified by the Parliament on the 11th of July, and
great hopes were entertained that so stringent a measure would
effectually terminate an abuse which, during the reign of the late King,
had deprived France of several thousand of her best chivalry.[118]

Throughout the autumn, notwithstanding the gravity of the affairs then
pending, the Court at Fontainebleau was one ceaseless scene of
dissipation. High play still formed a prominent feature in the
amusements of the palace, and the extent to which it was carried may be
estimated by the fact that Concini, before his return to the capital,
had lost at cards and dice the enormous sum of twenty-six thousand
pistoles;[119] and while the _branle_ and the gaming-table occupied the
night, the day was devoted to hunting, a diversion in which the Queen
constantly participated, accompanied by the Princesses and ladies of the
Court, and attended by a suite of between four and five hundred of the
principal nobles. The arrival of the Duchesse de Lorraine and the
Cardinal de Gonzaga[120] gave a new impetus to the gaiety of the royal
circle, while their sumptuous reception at the palace induced new
outlay and new rivalry among the courtiers.[121]

It was in the midst of this splendid dissipation that the Regent
received tidings of the death of the Duc de Mayenne, a loss which, from
the good understanding recently established between herself and that
Prince, was of serious importance to her authority; while the event
produced a still more painful impression from the fact that his wife,
Henrietta of Savoy, had died of grief a few days subsequently, and that
they had been carried to the grave together.

The next news which reached the Court was that of the demise of
Marguerite of Austria, Queen of Spain; an event which, from the recent
treaty concluded between the two countries, had become doubly
interesting to France. This Princess, who was the daughter of Charles,
Archduke of Gratz, Duke of Styria and Carinthia, and of Marie of
Bavaria, had become the wife of Philip III in November 1599; and had
left four sons, viz. Philip, Charles, Ferdinand, and Alfonso; and two
daughters, Anne and Marguerite, the former of whom was promised to
Louis XIII.

Other and more personal interests sufficed, nevertheless, to dry the
tears of the Queen-mother, as at this period the Duchesse de Lorraine
explained the purport of her visit; which, it is asserted, was to induce
her royal niece to redeem the pledge given by her deceased husband that
the Dauphin should espouse the Princesse de Lorraine, who would bring
as her dowry to the young King the duchies of Lorraine and Bar. Marie
was, however, too deeply compromised with Spain as well as with the Pope
and the Grand Duke of Tuscany, both of whom were earnest to effect the
completion of that alliance, to follow up a policy which could not but
have proved much more beneficial to the French nation; while the Condé
de Fuentes, who immediately suspected the purpose of Madame de Lorraine,
loudly and arrogantly asserted that the French King could not have two
wives; that his marriage with the Infanta was concluded; and that his
sovereign was not to be cheated with impunity.[122]

Oppressed by this double weight of regret and anxiety, Marie and her
Court returned to the Louvre; but her grief was still fated to be
fearfully increased, for she had scarcely established herself in the
palace when her maternal terrors were suddenly awakened by intelligence
of the dangerous illness of her second son, the Duc d'Orléans, upon
which she hastened to St. Germain. The fiat had, however, gone forth,
and two days subsequently the little Prince, upon whose precocious
intellect and sweetness of disposition so many hopes had been built up,
was a corpse in his mother's arms; and within a few hours Madame de
Lorraine and her brother had taken leave of their illustrious relative,
while the Court of the Louvre, so lately giddy with gaiety, was once
more draped in sables.[123]

Devotedly attached to her children, the Queen was for a time
inconsolable; her greatness was embittered by private suffering, and her
authority was endangered by intestine broils; she looked around her, and
scarcely knew upon whom to depend, or upon what to lean. The constant
exactions of the Princes convinced her of the utter hopelessness of
satisfying their venality, and securing their allegiance, save by
sacrifices which gradually tended to diminish her own power, and to
compromise the interests of the Crown, while the people murmured at the
burthens inflicted upon them in order to gratify the greed of
the nobility.

To increase her anxiety, the death of her second son was destined to add
to the number of malcontents by whom the Queen was surrounded, all the
principal officers of his household advancing their claim to be
transferred to that of the infant Duc d'Anjou, who, on the demise of the
Duc d'Orléans, assumed the title of Monsieur, as only brother of the
King. It was, however, impossible to place all these candidates about
the person of the young Prince, and it was ultimately decided that M. de
Brèves,[124] a relative of M. de Villeroy, to whom the appointment had
already been promised by Henri IV, should be selected as the preceptor
of Monsieur, to the exclusion of M. de Béthune, who had held the same
post about the Duc d'Orléans, and who consequently demanded to be
transferred to the service of his brother. But the relative of Sully was
little likely to prove a successful candidate; he had owed his previous
appointment to the influence of the powerful kinsman whose counsels
swayed the actions of a great monarch; that monarch was now in his
grave, and that kinsman in honourable exile; and his claim was no longer
admitted. The Marquis de Coeuvres, who had been master of the wardrobe
to the deceased Prince, was fated to be equally disappointed. The
ministers had not forgotten that he had been an active agent in the
proposed alliance between the Comte de Soissons and Concini, and they
did not fail to impress upon the Queen the extreme danger of placing an
individual of so resolute and enterprising a character about the person
of the heir presumptive. As he could obtain no decided reply to his
application, M. de Coeuvres solicited the assistance of the Marquis
d'Ancre, who met his request with civil professions of regard, but
declined to oppose the will of the ministers; an exhibition of
ingratitude which so enraged the applicant that he forthwith declined
all further interference in the affairs or claim upon the friendship of
the fickle Italian, and attached himself exclusively to the interests of
M. de Soissons.[125]

This Prince was also destined, at this particular period, to augment the
difficulties of the Regent. The duchy of Alençon had been mortgaged by
the French Crown to the Duke of Würtemberg; and hopes had, some months
previously, been held out to the Prince that, should he ever be in a
position to redeem the debt, he might avail himself of the opportunity,
and become its possessor. This time had now come; the Princess his wife
had recovered from the Duke of Savoy a large amount for her estates in
Piedmont, which he resolved to devote to the acquisition of the coveted
duchy, and he accordingly applied for the sanction of the King, without
whose consent the transfer could not be legally executed.

It is probable that, having already received a partial consent to his
wishes, M. de Soissons was far from apprehending any serious impediment
to their realization; but the jealousy of Marie had been aroused, and
she did not fail to perceive that such a concession must be dangerous to
the interests of the younger Children of France. The Prince had
therefore no sooner made his request than she assumed an attitude of
offended dignity and cold rebuke; and while he awaited her reply with a
smile of anticipatory success, she said drily, "Do you wish, Monsieur,
to acquire a duchy which has constantly been set apart as the appanage
of one of the sons of the sovereign? I begin to perceive that your
designs are somewhat lofty."

Thus repulsed, M. de Soissons withdrew, but with a demeanour which
convinced the Regent that she had made a new enemy, whom she must
consequently prepare herself to resist; a conclusion at which she had no
sooner arrived than she summoned the Prince de Condé and the Duc
d'Epernon to her assistance.[126]

This measure was not, however, destined to prove entirely successful.
The Marquis de Coeuvres, who at once felt that M. de Soissons was in no
position to maintain single-handed any effectual opposition to the host
of adversaries about to be marshalled against him, lost not a moment in
seeking to convince him that he had but one prospect of avoiding the
disgrace by which he was threatened. The impetuous Count poured forth
all his wrath in invectives, and declared his readiness to endure any
mortification rather than not enforce what he persisted in designating
as his legitimate claims as a Prince of the Blood, but his zealous
adviser was not to be thus silenced.

"Remember, Sir," was the rejoinder of the Marquis, "that you are now
embroiled with both the Regent and her ministers; that the momentary
truce between yourself and Concini is merely lip-deep, and may be broken
by a breath; that you are the open and declared enemy of the Guises and
the Duc d'Epernon; and that each and all of these are interested in your
ruin. I do not attempt to deny that your quality as a Prince of the
Blood must, as a natural consequence, avail you much; and it is this
very conviction that encourages me to persist in counselling you to
place no reliance upon minor friendships, but at once to ally yourself
closely with your nephew the Prince de Condé, and thus strengthen the
very rights upon which you presume. During a minority the Princes of the
Blood have an influence in France, which once earnestly and truthfully
united and exerted, must eventually prove irresistible."

After some further difficulty M. de Soissons suffered himself to be
convinced by the arguments of the Marquis, and it was ultimately
resolved that overtures should be made to this effect on the part of the
Count through the medium of M. de Beaumont, the son of the President de
Harlay, who was at that period expected in the capital, and who was in
the confidence of the Prince de Condé. Beaumont had accordingly no
sooner arrived than the Marquis de Coeuvres made him acquainted with the
desire of the Count, and it was finally agreed that, upon the pretext of
a hunt, the two Princes should meet at the residence of the former. As,
however, it was immediately ascertained that the Regent had expressed
some suspicions of this interview, and declared the reconciliation which
had taken place to be too sudden not to involve some occult purpose, M.
de Soissons deemed it expedient to silence her fears by inviting Concini
to join the party.

The invitation was accepted; the hunt took place, and was succeeded by
high play, after which the different personages apparently separated
for the night; but within half an hour the two royal kinsmen and their
confidential friends were closeted together, and before dawn an alliance
offensive and defensive was concluded between the Princes, who each
pledged himself to receive no favour or benefit from the Government to
the exclusion or loss of the other; and that, moreover, in the event of
the disgrace or disgust of either, the other should withdraw from the
Court at the same time, whither neither was to be at liberty to return
alone; and this compact, which, as will immediately be seen, could not
fail to prove dangerous to the interests of Marie, was religiously
observed until the death of M. de Soissons.[127]

The credit of the ministers was greatly increased by this new cabal, as
the Regent instantly perceived the necessity of opposing their authority
to the probable pretensions of the Princes, neither of whom attempted to
disguise their discontent at the insignificant position to which they
had been reduced at Court. To Jeannin, in particular, the Queen
expressed in unmeasured terms the confidence which she placed in his
zeal and loyalty; she called him her _friend_, her _arm_, and her
_head_, and assured him that she would be guided entirely by
his counsels.

Anxious to respond to these flattering demonstrations, and to justify
the trust reposed in them, the ministers resolved, in order still
further to protect the Crown against any aggression on the part of the
Princes, to recall to Court the Maréchal de Lesdiguières, who was easily
induced to resign his command of the army in Champagne by the prospect
which they held out to him, of verifying and confirming the ducal patent
which he had obtained from Henri IV. They, however, subsequently failed
to keep this promise, and the disappointment so irritated the Maréchal
that he resolved to revenge himself by joining the party of the Princes,
and otherwise harassing the Council; a determination which was
unfortunately too easily realized at a period of such internal
convulsion.[128]

The last event worthy of record which took place in the present year was
the purchase towards the close of September of the Hôtel de Luxembourg
by the Queen-Regent, for the sum of thirty thousand crowns, in order to
erect upon its site the celebrated Palais d'Orléans, now once more known
by its original name of the Luxembourg. The construction of this
splendid edifice was entrusted to Jacques de Brosse,[129] who
immediately commenced removing the ruins of the dilapidated hôtel which
encumbered the space destined for the new elevation; and four years
subsequently the first stone was laid of the regal pile which
transmitted his own name to posterity, linked with those of Marie de
Medicis and Peter Paul Rubens.[130]

FOOTNOTES:

[98] Sully, _Mém_. vol. viii. p. 129.

[99] Joachim, Sire de Châteauvieux, had been captain of the bodyguard to
Henri IV.

[100] Sully, _Mém_. vol. viii. pp. 133, 134.

[101] Charles de l'Aubespine, Marquis de Châteauneuf-sur-Cher, was born
on the 22nd of February 1580. He was abbot and sub-dean of Preaux, and
was successively ambassador to Switzerland, Holland, Brussels, England
and Venice. On the 14th of November 1630 he was appointed Keeper of the
Seals of France; was deprived of his office on the 25th of February
1633, and recalled on the 2nd of March 1650. He, however, voluntarily
resigned the appointment on the 3rd of April 1651, and retired from the
Court. He died at Leuville on the 17th of September 1653.

[102] D'Héricourt, _Hist. de France_, vol. i. p. 524.

[103] Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 16, 17.

[104] Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mère et du Fils_, vol. i. pp. 121, 127.

[105] D'Estrées, _Mém_. p. 384, édit. Petitot, suite de Bassompierre.

[106] Bassompierre, _Mém_. p. 75.

[107] Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mère et du Fils_, vol. i. pp. 224, 225.

[108] L'Etoile, vol. iv. p. 206.

[109] D'Estrées, _Mém_. p. 385.

[110] L'Etoile, vol. iv. pp. 210, 211.

[111] Le Vassor, _Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. i. pp. 57, 58.

[112] Bassompierre, _Mém_. p. 77.

[113] Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mère et du Fils_, vol. i. p. 136.

[114] Le Vassor, vol. i. p. 58.

[115] Mézeray, vol. xi. p. 22.

[116] Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 22, 23. Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 72-79.

[117] Nicolas d'Angennes, Marquis de Rambouillet, and Vidame du Mans,
was captain of the bodyguard to Charles IX, and subsequently, under
Henri III, Knight of all the royal Orders, and ambassador to Germany and
Rome. M. de Thou asserts that to high birth M. de Rambouillet united
superior merit; and that, combined with an unusual taste for literature,
he possessed an extraordinary knowledge of public business.

[118] Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mère et du Fils_, vol. i. pp. 152, 153.

[119] L'Etoile, vol. iv. p. 223.

[120] Louis, Cardinal de Gonzaga, was the last member of the Novellare
branch of the illustrious Italian house of Gonzaga, Dukes of Mantua, and
was canonized in 1621 under the title of St. Louis de Gonzaga.

[121] Bassompierre, _Mém_. p. 78.

[122] Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. ii. pp. 577-586.

[123] Bassompierre, _Mém_. p. 78.

[124] François Savary, Seigneur de Brèves, had served as ambassador both
at Constantinople and Rome, and was a man of great erudition. Well
versed in history, an able diplomatist, and possessed of considerable
antiquarian lore, he had travelled in Greece, Asia Minor, and the Holy
Land. His pupil, at the period of his appointment, being still a mere
infant, he did not enter upon his official functions until 1615, when
the young Prince was placed under his care, on the departure of the
Court for Bordeaux to celebrate the marriage of Louis XIII with Anne
of Austria.

[125] Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mère et du Fils_, vol. i. pp. 163, 164.
D'Estrées, _Mém_. p. 392.

[126] Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 88, 89.

[127] Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 89, 90. Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mère et du
Fils_, vol. i. pp. 157, 158.

[128] Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mère et du Fils_, vol. i. pp. 160, 161.
D'Estrées, _Mém_. p. 393.

[129] Jacques de Brosse was the most renowned architect of his day, and
left behind him more than one work calculated to justify his celebrity.
In addition to the Luxembourg Palace, which was built entirely according
to his designs, he erected the magnificent portico of St. Gervais, the
aqueduct of Arcueil, and the famous Protestant church of Charenton
(destroyed in 1685).

[130] _Curiositéz de Paris_, édit. Sangrain, Paris 1742, vol. ii. p. 37.



CHAPTER IV

1612

The Princes of the Blood retire from the Court--Increased influence of
the Ducs de Guise and d'Epernon--Jealousy of Concini--The ministers
desire the recall of the Princes--The Lent ballets--The government of
Quilleboeuf is offered to the Comte de Soissons--The Princes are invited
to return to the capital--Arrival of the Princes--M. de Soissons
abandons Concini--An attempt is made to create dissension between M. de
Soissons and the Prince de Condé--They again withdraw from Paris--The
Regent resolves to announce publicly the approaching marriage of the
King--Disaffection of the Princes--Frankness of the Duc de Guise--The
Duc d'Epernon is recalled--The Duc de Bouillon is despatched to
England--The Council discuss the alliance with Spain--The Princes return
to the capital--Undignified deportment of the Prince de Condé--
Insolence of M. de Soissons--Indignation of the Regent--The young Duc de
Mayenne is appointed ambassador extraordinary to Spain--An unpleasant
truth--Arrogance of the Spanish King--Concession of the Regent--Death of
the Duke of Mantua--The Chancellor announces the King's marriage--An
ambassador and a quasi-Queen--Disappointment of the Princes--They again
withdraw--Caution of the Duc de Montmorency to the Regent--She
disregards the warning--Love of Marie de Medicis for magnificence and
display--Courtly entertainments--The circle of Madame--The Marquise
d'Ancre--A carousal--Splendid festivities--Arrival of the Spanish
envoys--The Chevalier de Guise--Alarm of Concini--The Queen and her
foster-sister--Concini resolves to espouse the party of the Princes--The
Duc de Bouillon endeavours to injure the Duc de Rohan in the estimation
of James I--Reply of the English monarch--Bouillon returns to Paris--The
Maréchal de Lesdiguières retires from the Court--The Duc de Vendôme
solicits the royal permission to preside over the States of Brittany--Is
refused by the Regent--Challenges his substitute--And is exiled to
Anet--Concini augments the disaffection of the Princes--The Duke of
Savoy joins the cabal--Lesdiguières prepares to march a body of troops
against the capital--Concini deters the Regent from giving the
government of Quilleboeuf to the Comte de Soissons--Indignation of the
Duc de Guise--He reveals the treachery of Concini to the Princes--All
the great nobles join the faction of M. de Condé with the exception of
the Duc d'Epernon--The Duc de Bellegarde is accused of sorcery--Quarrel
between the Comte de Soissons and the Maréchal de Fervaques--Marie de
Medicis resolves to persecute the Protestants--Bouillon endeavours to
effect the disgrace of the Duc de Rohan--The Regent refuses to listen to
his justification--He takes possession of St. Jean d'Angély--Anger of
the Queen--Conflicting manifestoes--M. de Rohan prepares to resist the
royal troops--The ministers advise a negotiation, which proves
successful--Departure of the Duc de Mayenne for Madrid--Arrival of the
Duque de Pastrano--His brilliant reception in France--His magnificent
retinue--His first audience of Louis XIII--The Cardinals--Puerility of
the Princes--Reception of the Spanish Ambassador by Madame--_The year of
magnificence_--Splendour of the Court of Spain--Signature of the
marriage articles--Honours shown to M. de Mayenne at Madrid--The Spanish
Princess and her Duenna--The Duke of Savoy demands the hand of Madame
Christine for his son--Marie desires to unite her to the Prince of
Wales--Death of Prince Henry of England--Death of the Comte de
Soissons--The Prince de Conti claims the government of Dauphiny--The
Comte d'Auvergne is released from the Bastille, and resigns his
government of Auvergne to M. de Conti--The Prince de Condé organizes a
new faction--The Regent espouses his views--Alarm of the Guises--Recall
of the Duc de Bellegarde--He refuses to appear at Court--The Baron de
Luz is restored to favour--The Guises prepare to revenge his defection
from their cause.

The Prince de Condé and the Comte de Soissons having withdrawn from the
capital, MM. de Guise and d'Epernon found themselves once more the
principal personages of the Court, but their triumph was nevertheless
greatly moderated by the jealousy of Concini, who began to apprehend
that their ceaseless efforts to gratify the wishes of the Queen, and to
flatter her love of splendour and dissipation, might ultimately tend to
weaken his own influence; while the ministers, on their side, aware that
the negotiations then pending with Spain for the marriage of the King
could not be readily concluded without their aid and concurrence,
however they might deprecate their return from other causes, also felt
the necessity of securing their co-operation, for which purpose it was
essential that such measures should be adopted as might render this
concession acceptable to the royal malcontents.[131]

While this subject was under consideration, and Lent rapidly
approaching, the Queen, who, being still in slight mourning, could not,
according to the established etiquette, hold any assemblies in her own
apartments, but who was unwilling to forego the customary amusements of
the Carnival, desired the Duc de Guise, the Prince de Joinville, and M.
de Bassompierre to perform a ballet every Sunday, which they accordingly
did, "dividing," says the latter, "the expense between us."

The first of these allegorical dances was executed in the apartments of
the Princesse de Conti, where a supper was prepared for her Majesty with
an exclusiveness uncommon at the time, and which created considerable
disappointment in the Court circle. None but the Princes then resident
in the capital, namely MM. de Guise, de Nevers, and de Reims, with a few
chosen courtiers, were permitted to attend, while the number of ladies
was equally limited.

The second took place in the apartments of the Duchesse de Vendôme, upon
which occasion the banquet was offered to the Queen by Madame de
Mercoeur; the third at the Hôtel de Guise, where the Regent was
entertained in the private _salon_ of the Duchess; and the fourth and
last in the suite of rooms appropriated to Madame de Guercheville in the
Louvre.[132]

"I took the liberty," says Rambure, with his usual quaintness, "of
representing to the Regent that the people would murmur on witnessing
balls at Court while she was still in mourning, but she only laughed at
me, and bade me dismiss such an idea from my thoughts; at which I was
not at all pleased, from the respect that I entertained for the memory
of his late Majesty." [133]

These gaieties did not, however, serve to divert the thoughts of the
ministers from their desire to recall the absent Princes of the Blood;
and it was finally arranged that as M. de Soissons had been the original
cause of their absence, owing to his indignation at the ill-success of
his attempt to purchase the duchy of Alençon, it would be expedient to
hold out to him a prospect of obtaining the government of Quilleboeuf.
It was accordingly decided that the Marquis d'Ancre, on the part of
their Majesties, and M. de Villeroy on that of the ministers, should
proceed to Nogent, where the Princes were then residing, and invite them
to return to Court, with a full assurance from all parties that they
would there occupy the station befitting their exalted rank, and be
received with the dignities and honours which were due to them as
Princes of the Blood.

The mission of the two envoys proved successful; and on their arrival at
Fontainebleau the uncle and nephew were welcomed with a warmth and
magnificence which alike flattered their self-love and tended to inspire
them with confidence. Nevertheless, M. de Soissons had no sooner
discovered that the Marquis d'Ancre, who, when he had himself retired
from the Court, had lost the favour of the Queen, was now the firm ally
of the ministers, through whose good offices he had regained his former
position, than he exhibited towards the Italian a haughtiness and
avoidance which ere long terminated in an open rupture.

Fearful of incurring through the means of the Count the additional
enmity of M. de Condé, Concini endeavoured to win over the Marquis de
Coeuvres, and to effect through his interposition a reconciliation with
the indignant Prince. To this solicitation M. de Coeuvres replied that
in order to establish a good understanding between two persons whom he
had already so strenuously sought to serve, he was willing and ready to
forget his private wrongs; but when it was suggested to him that he
should exert his influence to renew the proposed marriage without
reference to the Queen-Regent, he declined to make any effort to induce
M. de Soissons to adopt so onerous a course, alleging that he had
already suffered sufficiently by his interference in a matter which had
been productive of great annoyance and injury to the Prince, and that he
would not again lend his assistance to the project until the Marquis
d'Ancre and his wife pledged themselves to reconcile M. de Soissons with
the ministers, to restore him to the favour of the Regent, and to obtain
her sanction to the proposed alliance.

The firmness of this refusal staggered Concini, who, only recently
reinstated in the good graces of the Queen, was for once apprehensive
of the failure of his influence. He consequently confined his reply to a
simple acknowledgment of the courtesy with which his proposal had been
met by the Marquis, and then endeavoured personally to regain the
confidence of the Prince by assurances of the sincere inclination of the
Queen to meet his wishes upon every point within her power. As a natural
consequence M. de Soissons listened willingly to these flattering
declarations, uttered as they were by an individual well known to be in
the entire confidence of his royal mistress; but they soon became
blended with the regrets of the Marquis that his listener should have
formed so close an alliance with his nephew as to have drawn down upon
him the suspicion of the Court; and plausibly as these regrets were
expressed, M. de Soissons was soon enabled to discover that the wily
Italian had been instructed to detach him from Condé.

A similar endeavour was made with the Prince de Condé, but both were
ineffectual. The two royal kinsmen had become fully aware that mutual
support was their only safeguard against the party opposed to them; and
they had no sooner detected the symptoms of coldness which supervened
upon the ill-success of their advisers, than they resolved once more to
leave the Court; and accordingly having taken leave of their Majesties,
and resisted the pressing solicitations poured forth on all sides, they
again retired; the Prince to St. Valery, and the Count to Dreux. This
renewed opposition to her wishes roused the spirit of the Regent. She
saw, as she asserted, that there no longer remained a hope of
restraining the haughtiness, or of satisfying the pretensions, of the
great vassals of the Crown; and she accordingly declared that in order
to maintain her authority, and to secure the throne of her son, she
would not allow the absence of the two Princes of the Blood to delay the
publication of the King's marriage. Immediate measures were consequently
taken for concluding the necessary arrangements; and this was done with
the less hesitation that the Maréchal de Lesdiguières (who for some time
after his arrival at Court had continued to anticipate that the pledge
given to him by the ministers would shortly be redeemed) had induced
both the one and the other to state that they would offer no opposition
to the alliance which had been determined.[134]

But this concession, which they were destined subsequently to deplore,
was all that could be extorted from the Princes, who considered
themselves aggrieved by the fact that so important a negotiation should
have been carried on without their participation, when special couriers
had been despatched to acquaint both the Cardinal de Joyeuse and the Due
d'Epernon with the pending treaty. The Comte de Soissons, moreover,
complained loudly and bitterly of the undue power of the ministers, and
especially inveighed against the Chancellor Sillery, whom he
unhesitatingly accused of extortion and avarice, of publicly making a
trade of justice to the dishonour of the nation, and of ruining those
who were compelled to solicit his protection. On this point alone he was
in accord with Concini; and it was to this mutual hatred of the
ministers that their partial good understanding must be attributed. The
reasons which induced the Maréchal de Lesdiguières to approve the
alliance we have already stated: the ducal crown which he was so anxious
to secure must have been irretrievably lost by any opposition on his
part to the proposed alliance, and this vision was for ever before his
eyes. The approbation of the Connétable de Montmorency, who had
originally declared his objection to so close a union between the two
countries, was purchased by a promise that the hand of one of the
Princesses of Mantua, niece to the Regent, should be conferred upon his
son; and the brilliant promise of the one marriage caused him to
overlook the probable perils of the other; while the Duc de Bouillon,
although he occasionally declared in the Council that he seriously
apprehended the result of so intimate a connection with Spain, never
remonstrated with any energy against the measure, and was believed by
those who knew him best to have already made his conditions with Philip.
On the departure of the two Princes, Marie urged the Duc de Guise to
afford her his support, together with that of his house, which he did
with a frankness worthy of record, concluding, however, with these
emphatic words: "I have but one favour to request of you, Madame; and
that is, that after this important service your Majesty will not
abandon us, as you have already once done, to the resentment of the
Princes of the Blood." [135]

The Duc d'Epernon, who had left the Court, as elsewhere stated, if not
in actual disgrace, at least mortified and disappointed, was now
recalled; and as his failing was well known, he was received on his
arrival at Fontainebleau with such extraordinary distinction that all
his past grievances were at once forgotten. Sillery, Villeroy, and
Concini overwhelmed him with respect and adulation, and his adherence to
the party of the Regent was consequently purchased before the question
had been mooted in his presence.

Meanwhile the English Ambassador declaimed loudly against the
contemplated alliance, which he declared to be unequivocally
antagonistic to the interests of his sovereign; and his undisguised
indignation so alarmed the Council that it was immediately resolved to
despatch the Duc de Bouillon on an extraordinary embassy to the Court of
London in order to appease the displeasure of James. The minister of the
United Provinces was equally violent in his opposition, and exerted all
his energies to prevent the conclusion of a treaty which he regarded as
fatal to the interests of the republic that he represented, but his
expostulations were disregarded. An envoy was sent to the Hague with
assurances of amity to Prince Maurice and the States-General; and
finally, the Maréchal de Schomberg was instructed to visit the several
Protestant Princes of Germany in order to dispel any distrust which they
might feel at the probable results of an alliance so threatening to
their interests.[136]

These important measures concluded, the double marriage was proposed to
the Council, where the Prince de Condé and the Comte de Soissons, who
had recently returned to the capital, occupied their appointed seats;
and at the commencement of the proceedings, when the question of the
projected alliance had been submitted to the Assembly, M. de Condé
demanded that each should deliver his opinion according to his rank. The
Chancellor then opened the subject by a warm panegyric on the prudent
administration of the Queen-Regent, dwelling at great length upon the
extraordinary benefit which must accrue to the French nation from the
contemplated alliance with Spain; and he was followed by the Duc de
Guise, who, with more brevity but equal force, maintained the same
argument. "No deliberation," concluded the Duke, "can be required upon
so advantageous a proposal. We have only to thank God that her Majesty
has so happily accomplished the noble purpose with which heaven had
inspired her." As he resumed his seat the Connétable de Montmorency and
the Ducs de Nevers and d'Epernon warmly applauded his words; after which
the Maréchaux de Bouillon and de Lesdiguières declared their approval of
the alliance, simply expressing a hope that proper precautions would be
taken to prevent the treaty with Spain from proving prejudicial to the
interests of France in her more ancient alliances with other foreign
powers; and finally it became the turn of M. de Condé to declare his
sentiments. The young Prince had, however, been so astonished by the
fearless address of the Duc de Guise that he had entirely lost his
self-possession, and merely said with great coldness: "Since the affair
is decided, it was unnecessary to ask our advice."

The surprise was universal, as the general impression throughout the
Council had been that the two Princes had determined to attend the
meeting in order to oppose the projected marriages; a supposition which
the words immediately afterwards addressed to M. de Condé by his uncle
served to confirm. "You see, sir," said the Count, turning towards him
with an impatient gesture, "that we are treated here like valets."

The Regent, irritated by this remark, which was uttered so audibly as to
be generally overheard, was about to make some bitter rejoinder, when
Sillery, perceiving her intention, again possessed himself of the ear of
the Assembly; and it was ultimately concluded that the double marriage
should be proclaimed on the 25th of March, and that the young Duc de
Mayenne[137] should proceed to Spain as Ambassador-Extraordinary to
demand the hand of the Infanta.

At the close of the Council the general topic of discourse was the
extraordinary part played by the two Princes. It is well known that they
were both strongly opposed to the measure which had just been carried,
and their conduct was severally judged according to the particular
feeling of those by whom it was discussed; some asserting that it was
from a fear of the consequences of resistance, and others declaring that
they indulged a hope of profiting largely by so unexpected a neutrality.
The Duc de Montmorency was meanwhile furious at the contempt incurred by
the unmanly bearing of his son-in-law, M. de Condé. "Sir," he said, as
the Prince shortly afterwards approached him, "you neither know how to
resist with courage, or to yield with prudence." [138]

An unforeseen difficulty, however, now presented itself. The Spanish
Cabinet no longer entertained the same apprehensions of the power of
France that it had felt during the preceding year. The supremacy which
it had so reluctantly recognized had ceased to exist, and the arrogance
of Philip grew with this conviction; thus, where he had only a few
months previously condescended to solicit, he now prepared to impose
conditions, and the renewed negotiations were haughtily met by fresh
proposals. Upon the pretext that the Princesses of France brought with
them no right of succession to the crown, he declared his disinclination
to give the hand of the elder Infanta to the young King, upon which
Marie de Medicis replied that she was willing to accept his younger
daughter as the bride of Louis XIII, provided that he, in his turn,
were prepared to receive the Princesse Christine instead of Madame, as
by this arrangement she should be enabled to fulfil the pledge given by
the late King to the Duke of Savoy, that the eldest Daughter of France
should be united to the Prince of Piedmont.

This explicit declaration at once silenced Philip, who was by no means
desirous that Charles Emmanuel, whom he was anxious to crush, should by
so close a connexion with France secure an ally through whose support he
could not fail to protect himself against all aggression; and he
accordingly signified with somewhat less arrogance than before that he
was ready to ratify the original treaty, provided that Anne of Austria
were permitted to renounce, both for herself and her children, all claim
to the sovereignty of Spain.

This point having been conceded, immediate preparations were made for
the proclamation of the royal marriages; but the ceremony was
unavoidably delayed by the death of the Duke of Mantua, the
brother-in-law of the Regent, and did not take place until the 5th of
the following month,[139] on which day it was solemnly announced by the
Chancellor, in the presence of the Prince de Conti, the peers and
officers of the Crown, and the Spanish Ambassador, who gave his assent
to the duplicate alliance in the name of the King his master, and from
that period treated the little Princess with all the honours due to a
Queen of Spain; never addressing her save on his bended knee, and
observing many still more exaggerated ceremonies which excited at once
surprise and amusement at the French Court.

It will have been remarked that neither M. de Condé nor the Comte de
Soissons were present at the formal announcement, both having once more
withdrawn from the capital with the determination of continuing absent
until the majority of the King, in order to avoid signing the
marriage contract.

"The Queen," said M. de Soissons, when one of his friends would have
dissuaded him from so extreme a course, "is quite able to conclude
without our assistance the negotiation into which she has entered. God
grant that we at least may be spared all participation in the slight
offered to the memory of the late King, by refusing to falsify the
pledge which he gave to the Duke of Savoy, whose house has so long been
the firm ally of France."

Pity it is that this generous burst of high-mindedness and loyalty will
not bear analysis. Both the Princes had discovered that the professions
to which they had so complacently listened, and which had induced their
recent return to Court, had merely been intended to lure them thither at
a period when their presence was more than ever essential to the
interests of the Regency; and while M. de Condé found his position in
the Government as undefined and unsatisfactory as ever, and that his
vanity had been flattered at the expense of his interests, the Count on
his side saw the possession of Quilleboeuf more remote than ever, and
openly declared that they had both been duped.

This undisguised admission at once revealed the selfishness of the views
with which the malcontent Princes had lent themselves to the wishes of
Marie and her ministers; and assuredly no worse policy could have been
adopted than that by which they were again induced to exile themselves
from their proper sphere of action. Too many interests were, however,
served by their absence for either counsellor or courtier to point out
to the Queen the extreme danger of driving them to extremities, save in
the instance of the Connétable, who, more and more chagrined by the
pitiful and even precarious position occupied by his son-in-law,
remonstrated earnestly with the Regent upon the peril of the course
which she had been induced to pursue.

"Remember, Madame," he said, "that the civil wars and wretchedness of
which this nation has been the prey during the last few reigns all owed
their origin to the fatal advice given to Catherine de Medicis to
disregard the legitimate claims of the Princes of the Blood; and those
who would induce your Majesty to follow her example are more bent upon
the furtherance of their own fortunes, and the increase of their own
power, than anxious for the welfare of the state. Should your Majesty,
therefore, suffer yourself to be influenced by their counsels, I foresee
nothing in the future but anarchy and confusion."

Unfortunately, however, the close alliance of the veteran Duke with one
of those very Princes whose cause he thus warmly advocated, and his
enmity towards the Guises, deprived his remonstrances of the force which
they might otherwise have possessed, and Marie de Medicis consequently
disregarded the warning until after-events caused her to feel and
acknowledge its value. Supported by the House of Guise and the Duc
d'Epernon, assured of the good faith of the Connétable and the Maréchaux
de Bouillon and de Lesdiguières, as well as deeply incensed by the
bearing of the two Princes in the Council; and, moreover, urged by her
more immediate favourites to assert her dignity, and to display towards
the malcontents a coldness and indifference as marked as that which they
exhibited towards herself, she dismissed the subject from her thoughts
as one of slight importance, and turned all her attention to the
brilliant festivities by which the declaration of the royal marriages
was to be celebrated.[140]

The besetting sin of Marie de Medicis was a love of magnificence and
display, and one of her greatest errors a wilful disregard of the
financial exigencies which her profuse liberality had induced. Thus the
splendour of the preparations which were exciting the wonder and
curiosity of all Paris engrossed her so wholly that she had little time
for dwelling on contingent evils. The departure of the Princes had,
moreover, relieved her from the annoyance of encountering discontented
countenances and repellent frowns; and as she saw herself surrounded
only by beaming looks and complacent smiles, her spirits rose, and she
began to believe that her long-indulged vision of undisputed supremacy
was about to be realized.

It was a pleasant dream, and one in which the self-deceived Regent was
eagerly encouraged by those around her. The halls and galleries of the
Louvre were crowded with animated and obsequious courtiers, and the
apartments of Marie herself thronged by the greatest and proudest in the
land; all of whom appeared, upon so joyous an occasion, to have laid
aside their personal animosities and to live only to obey her behests.
Madame had also formed her separate Court, in the midst of which she
received, with the grace of a girl and the premature dignity of a Queen,
the elaborate homage of her future subjects; and meanwhile the young
Louis, delighted by a partial emancipation from ceremony and etiquette
for which he was indebted to the unusual movement about him, pursued his
favourite sport of bird-hunting in the gardens of the Tuileries, and
attached more importance to the feats of a well-trained sparrow-hawk
than to the probable qualities of the bride provided for him by the
policy of his royal mother.

And amid all this splendid excitement, gliding from one glittering group
to another with a quiet self-possession and a calm composure strangely
at variance with the scene around her, moved a lady whose remarkable
appearance must have challenged attention, even had her singular career
not already tended to make her an object of universal curiosity and
speculation. Short of stature and slender of form, with a step as light
and noiseless as that of an aerial being; her exquisitely-moulded
although diminutive figure draped in a robe of black velvet, made after
a fashion of which the severe propriety contrasted forcibly with the
somewhat too liberal exposure of the period; with a countenance pale
almost to sallowness; delicately chiselled features; and large eyes,
encircled by a dark ring, only a few shades less black than the long
lashes by which they were occasionally concealed; a mass of rich and
glossy hair, tightly banded upon her forehead, and gathered together in
a heavy knot, supported by long bodkins tipped with jewels, low in her
neck behind; and above all, with that peculiar expression spread over
her whole person which is occasionally to be remarked in individuals of
that exceptional organization which appears to be the lot of such as are
predestined to misery.

Not a Princess of the Blood, not a Duchess of the realm, but had a smile
and a courteous and eager word to bestow upon this apparently
insignificant personage, at whose signal even the door of the Queen's
private closet, closed against other intruders, opened upon the instant,
as though she alone of all that brilliant galaxy of rank and wealth were
to know no impediment, and to be subjected to no delay.

We have been somewhat prolix in our description of this extraordinary
woman, but we shall be pardoned when we explain that we here give the
portrait of Leonora Galigaï, Marquise d'Ancre, the friend, confidante,
and foster-sister of Marie de Medicis.

It is, however, time to return to the festivities to which allusion has
already been made. Among these the most remarkable was a splendid
carousal which took place in the Place Royale, and which is elaborately
described by Bassompierre. The French Kings had originally held their
tourneys, tilts, and passages-at-arms in the Rue St. Antoine, opposite
the palace of the Tournelles; but the unfortunate death of Henri II, who
was killed there by the lance of the Duc de Montgomery, caused the spot
to be abandoned, and they were subsequently transferred to the Place
Royale, which had been built in the ancient park of the same palace.

The lists on the present occasion were two hundred and forty feet in
length, and were surrounded by barriers and platforms arranged in tiers,
and reaching to the first stories of the houses. Facing the lists was
erected the magnificent pavilion destined for their Majesties, which was
richly draped with blue and gold, and surmounted by the great national
standard, upon which the eagles of Austria and the arms of the Medici
were proudly quartered with the _fleurs-de-lis_ of France.

By command of the Queen the lists were held by the Ducs de Guise and de
Nevers and the Marquis de Bassompierre, an honour which cost each of the
individuals thus favoured the enormous sum of fifty thousand crowns; a
fact which is easily understood when it is considered that their retinue
consisted of five hundred persons and two hundred horses, the whole of
whom, men and animals, were clad and caparisoned in scarlet velvet and
cloth of silver. The number of spectators, exclusive of the Court and
the armed guards, was estimated at ten thousand; and from nine in the
morning until six in the evening the lists were constantly occupied.
Salvos of artillery, fireworks, and allegorical processions succeeded;
and the populace, delighted by "the glorious three days" of revel and
relaxation thus provided for them, forgot for the time to murmur at an
outlay which threatened them with increased exactions.

At the termination of this carousal, which was followed by balls,
banquets, and tiltings at the ring, the Court removed to Fontainebleau;
where their Majesties shortly afterwards received the Marquis de
Spinola, the Comte de Buquoy,[141] and Don Rodrigo Calderon,[142] who
were entertained with great magnificence, and lodged in the house of
Bassompierre.[143] At this period, indeed, everything sufficed as a
pretext for splendour and display; as Marie de Medicis especially
delighted to exhibit the brilliancy of her Court to the subjects of the
nation with which she was about to become so intimately allied. In this
endeavour she was ably seconded by the Guises and the Duc d'Epernon,
who, since the departure of the two Princes, had shared her intimacy
with the Marquis d'Ancre and his wife; while a new candidate for her
favour had moreover presented himself in the person of the young and
handsome Chevalier de Guise, the brother of the Duke,[144] who at this
time first appeared at Court, where he had the honour of waiting upon
her Majesty at table whenever she was the guest of the Duchess his
mother, or the Princesse de Conti his sister. His youth, high spirit,
inexhaustible gaiety, and extraordinary personal beauty rendered him
peculiarly agreeable to Marie, who displayed towards him a condescending
kindness which was soon construed by the Court gossips into a
warmer feeling.

Concini immediately took the alarm, and hastened to confide his
apprehensions to the ministers, whom he knew to be as anxious as himself
to undermine the influence of the Duc d'Epernon and the formidable
family to which he had allied his interests. In ridding themselves, by
neglect and disrespect, of the Princes of the Blood, the discomfited
confederates had anticipated undivided sway over the mind and measures
of the Regent; and their mortification was consequently intense when
they discovered that she had unreservedly flung herself into the party
of their enemies.

The annoyance of the ministers was, however, based rather on public
grounds than on personal feeling; but the case was far different with
the Marquis, who had been reluctantly compelled to acknowledge to
himself that he was indebted for his extraordinary fortune entirely to
the influence of his wife, and that he was individually of small
importance in the eyes of her royal mistress. This conviction had soured
his temper; and instead of responding to the ardent affection of
Leonora, he had recently revenged his outraged vanity upon the woman to
whom he owed all the distinction he had acquired. The high spirit of the
Marquise revolted at this ingratitude, and scenes of violence had
consequently occurred between them which tended to increase the schism,
and to render his position still more precarious. The tears of Leonora
were universally all-powerful with the Queen, who did not hesitate to
express her indignation at the unbecoming deportment of the aggrandized
parvenu; upon which, unaccustomed to rebuke, he threatened to withdraw
entirely from the Court and to reside at Amiens, a design which he,
however, abandoned when he discovered that it met with no opposition.

The Duc de Guise and the other members of his family, rejoicing in these
domestic discords, which they trusted would ultimately tend to the
disgrace of the arrogant Italian whose undue elevation had inspired them
with jealousy and disgust, warmly espoused the cause of Leonora, and
exerted all their power to irritate the mind of the Queen against the
offending Marquis. Nor was it long ere the ministers adopted the same
line of policy; and finally, Concini found himself so harassed and
contemned that he resolved to attach himself to the party of the
Princes, and to aid them in their attempt to overturn the
Government.[145]

The Maréchal de Bouillon had, as already stated, been despatched to
England, in order to render James I. favourable to the alliance with
Spain; and at the same time with strict instructions to induce him,
should it be possible, to declare his displeasure at the recent conduct
of the Protestants at Saumur, and especially at that of the Duc de
Rohan. This was a mission which Bouillon joyfully undertook, his
personal hatred and jealousy of the young Duke warmly seconding the
instructions of the ministers. Rohan had, however, been warned in time
of the intention of his enemies; and being in constant correspondence
with Prince Henry, he hastened to entreat his interest with his royal
father to avert the impending danger.

Unaware of this fact, the Maréchal commenced his harangue by assuring
the English monarch of the respect and attachment felt for his person by
his own sovereign and his august mother, and their decided resolution
that the alliance with Spain should in no way interfere with the good
understanding which they were anxious to maintain with the Protestant
Princes. To this assurance James listened complacently; and encouraged
by his evident satisfaction, the envoy proceeded to inform him that he
was moreover authorized to state that the Pope had no intention of
exercising any severity against the reformed party in France, but would
confine himself to attempting their conversion by means of the pulpit
eloquence and good example of the Roman priesthood. The satisfaction of
James increased as he listened, and when he had warmly expressed his
gratification at the intelligence, Bouillon ventured to insinuate that
the Regent had been deeply wounded by the fact of his having entered
into the Protestant League of Germany; and besought him, in her name, to
be favourable to his Catholic subjects.

At this point of the discourse James cautiously replied that the League
involved no question of religion, but was purely a measure adopted for
the reciprocal security of the confederated states; and that, as
regarded the English Catholics, he would willingly permit the peaceable
exercise of their faith in his dominions, so soon as they should have
given pledges of their fidelity and obedience. Still undismayed,
Bouillon then exposed what was to himself personally the most important
feature of his mission, and urged his Britannic Majesty to express his
disapproval of the proceedings of the Assembly at Saumur, and especially
of the attitude assumed by the Duc de Rohan. Here, however, he was fated
to discover that James had not for a moment been the dupe of his
sophistical eloquence, ably as it had been exerted. A cloud gathered
upon the brow of the English monarch, and as the Maréchal paused for a
reply, he was startled by the coldness and decision with which it was
delivered.

"If the Queen your mistress," said James with marked emphasis, "sees fit
to infringe the edicts accorded to the Protestants of her kingdom, I
shall not consider that the alliance into which I have entered with
France ought to prevent me from assisting and protecting them. When my
neighbours are endangered from a cause in which I am personally
involved, I am naturally called upon to avert an evil that may extend to
myself. Believe me, moreover, Marshal, when I say that you will be wise
to effect a reconciliation with the Due de Rohan; and I shall cause him
to understand that such is my wish."

The ill-success of his mission was a bitter mortification to M. de
Bouillon, who, dispirited and crestfallen, returned to Paris to report
his failure. He, however, met with no sympathy, the ministers declaring
that he had failed through his neglect of their instructions, and of the
express orders of the Regent; while the Maréchal complained on his side
that he had been selected for this delicate embassy from the express
intention, on the part of those who inveighed against him, of
accomplishing his disgrace.

M. de Lesdiguières also, at this period, discovered that he had been the
dupe of his own ambition, and the tool of that of others. The ducal
brevet of which he had considered himself secure was refused to him upon
the plea that MM. de Brissac and de Fervaques were both senior marshals
to himself, and that such a favour could not be conferred upon him
without exciting their indignation. Vainly did he urge the promise made
to him by Henri IV; neither the Regent nor her ministers would yield;
when, irritated by the part which he had been made to play while his
co-operation was necessary to the accomplishment of their measures, and
the after-affront to which he was thus subjected, he retired from the
Court in disgust, and transferred his services to the Princes of
the Blood.

As we have already stated, Concini had, although less openly, followed
the same course; but, in the first instance, he had skilfully effected a
reconciliation with his wife, and induced her to assist him in his
endeavour to weaken the extraordinary influence which the Duc d'Epernon
and the Guises were rapidly acquiring over the Regent, who willingly
forgot, amid the constant amusement and adulation with which they
surrounded her, the cares and anxieties of government. The Duc de
Vendôme had also attached himself to the Court party, and this domestic
league had consequently become more formidable than ever in the eyes of
those who saw their interests compromised by its continuance.

Marie could not, however, conceal from herself the absolute necessity of
conciliating the disaffected Princes before the arrival of the
ambassador of Philip, who was shortly expected to claim the hand of
Madame for the Prince of Spain; and she accordingly determined to pave
the way towards a reconciliation by thwarting the ambition of the great
nobles who were obnoxious to the Princes. The first opportunity that
presented itself of adopting this somewhat ungenerous policy was
afforded by the Duc de Vendôme, who demanded the royal sanction to
preside over the States of Brittany, of which province he was governor;
but his intention having been discovered by the Comte de Soissons and M.
de Condé, they lost no time in warning their friends at Court against
such a concession, and in reminding them that he had allied himself with
the enemies of his royal father and the House of Bourbon; and that his
influence might prove fatal to the tranquillity of the nation should he
be permitted to exert it in a distant province, where his personal
consideration and the enormous wealth of his wife must conduce to render
him all-powerful. These arguments were impressed upon the Regent alike
by the ministers and by the Marquis d'Ancre, who no sooner saw himself
once more in favour than he exerted all his influence to undermine the
power of the rival faction; and as her private views warmly seconded
their representations, Marie instantly resolved to refuse the
coveted favour.

When, therefore, the Duc de Vendôme proffered his request, the Queen met
it with a cold denial, and instructed M. de Brissac to proceed at once
to Brittany as his substitute; an affront which so stung the Duke that
he immediately challenged De Brissac; but before the meeting could take
place it was betrayed to the Queen, who, irritated by this disregard of
her authority, would not be induced to wait until a reconciliation could
be effected between them, but issued a peremptory order that M. de
Vendôme should leave the Court on the instant, and retire to his estate
of Anet, and that the Maréchal de Brissac should forthwith proceed to
Brittany. In vain did the fiery young Prince explain and expostulate;
Marie was inexorable; and although the Ducs de Guise and d'Epernon
interceded in his behalf, they were equally unsuccessful; nor did they
discontinue their entreaties until the Queen bade them rather look to
the stability of their own favour than hasten its termination by
upholding the cause of those who rebelled against her pleasure.

This incident afforded unmitigated satisfaction to the absent Princes;
but to the Comte de Soissons it was nevertheless only the herald of more
important concessions on the part of the Regent. In his temporary
retirement he had dwelt at leisure on his imaginary wrongs; his hatred
of the ministers had increased; and, above all, he had vowed the ruin of
the Chancellor. In his nephew the Prince de Condé he found a willing
listener and an earnest coadjutor; but from a very different impulse. M.
de Soissons panted for power, and loathed every impediment to the
gratification of his ambition; while the young Prince, less firm of
purpose, and more greedy of pleasure and ostentation, was wearied by the
obscurity of his existence, and the tedium of his self-imposed exile.

Concini, with admirable tact, played upon the weaknesses of both
Princes, and augmented their discontent; while he was at the same time
careful to exonerate the Regent from all blame. Conscious that without
her support he could not sustain for an hour the factitious power to
which he had attained, he laboured incessantly to throw the whole odium
of the disunion upon the ministers, who were fully as obnoxious to
himself as to the Princes.

"They it is," he continually repeated, "who are the true cause of your
estrangement. The Queen is, as I know, well disposed towards all the
Princes of the Blood; but Sillery, Villeroy, and Jeannin are constantly
representing to her the danger of allowing you to become too powerful.
Your real enemies are the ministers who are fearful of affording you the
opportunity of overbalancing their influence."

This assurance was too flattering to the self-love of the Princes to be
repulsed; they forgot that Concini himself had been as eager as those
whom he now inculpated to destroy their importance, and to limit their
power; they saw the great nobles, whose ambition was disappointed, or
whose vanity was wounded, successively espouse their cause, and they
were easily induced to believe that the time was not far distant when
they should triumph over their opponents, and be repaid for all their
mortifications. This was precisely the frame of mind into which Concini
had endeavoured to bring them; and so ably did he avail himself of his
advantage that at length, when on one occasion he found himself in
company with the Prince de Condé, the Comte de Soissons, and the
Maréchaux de Bouillon and de Lesdiguières, he induced them to unite with
him in attempting the ruin of the ministers.

He was, moreover, powerfully abetted in his intrigue by the Duke of
Savoy; who, outraged at the insult which had been offered to him by the
Regent in bestowing the hand of Madame Elisabeth, which had been
solemnly promised to the Prince of Piedmont, upon the Infant of Spain;
and who, moreover, hoped to profit by the internal dissensions of
France, and to recover through the medium of the disaffected Princes the
provinces which Henri IV had compelled him to relinquish in exchange for
the marquisate of Saluzzo, omitted no opportunity of endeavouring to
foment a civil war; from which, while he had nothing to apprehend, he
had the prospect of reaping great personal advantage.

Thus supported, Concini, who was aware of the intimate relations
subsisting between Charles Emmanuel and the Comte de Soissons, did not
hesitate to urge the Princes to a resolute resistance; nor was this seed
of rebellion scattered upon sterile soil. M. de Soissons pledged
himself that on his return from Normandy, where he was about to sojourn
for a short time, he would publicly insult the Chancellor; while M. de
Lesdiguières, who was still furious at the disappointment to which he
had been subjected, and who was about to return to Dauphiny,
volunteered, should the Princes decide upon enforcing their claims, to
march ten thousand infantry and fifteen hundred horse to the gates
of Paris.

Nor did the vindictive Italian confine his efforts to thus tampering
with the disaffected Princes; he was equally indefatigable with the
Regent, who, even had she been disinclined to regard his own
representations, never neglected those of her beloved Leonora; and who
was, moreover, the better disposed to yield to his arguments because she
saw her foster-sister once more happy, and believed that the affection
of the Marquis had been restored to his wife through her own influence.

Success rendered Concini bold. He was aware that he had secured a strong
hold upon the confidence and regard of the malcontents; but when he
found the Queen inclined to make concessions in their favour which
threatened to invest them with a power as dangerous to his own interests
as that now wielded by the ministers, he did not hesitate to dissuade
her from her purpose. Anxious to conciliate the Comte de Soissons, Marie
declared her determination to effect this desirable result by bestowing
upon him the government of Ouilleboeuf, the refusal of which had been
the original cause of his estrangement; a resolve from which she was,
however, diverted by the representations of the Italian that such a
concession, thus tardily and reluctantly made, must be fatal to her
dignity, and would only lead to fresh demands on the part of the Prince,
whose insatiable ambition was no secret; while, fearful lest his own
representations should fail to change her purpose, he employed his
confidential friend and ally the Baron de Luz to entreat of the Due de
Guise to second his endeavour. In this attempt, however, the Marquis
failed through an excess of subtlety, as the Duke, outraged by this
double treason, not only refused to lend himself to so dishonourable an
act of treachery, but immediately informed M. de Soissons of the deceit
which was practised towards him; and feeling deeply aggrieved moreover
by the affront that had been offered to César de Vendôme, he declared
himself prepared to espouse the cause of the Princes against the
machinations of the Marquis d'Ancre. His example was followed by the
whole of his family, as well as by the Cardinal de Joyeuse and the Due
de Bellegarde; and thus the unfortunate Regent was suddenly deprived of
all her friends with the sole exception of the Duc d'Epernon, who,
either from an excess of pride which would not permit him to humble
himself so far as to induce him to pay his court to the Princes from
whom he had received so many and such bitter mortifications, or from the
state of indisposition under which he was at that period labouring,
refused to take any share in the intrigues of the Court.

Concini became alarmed; he had so long been the spoilt child of fortune
that every reverse overthrew his self-possession; and in the first
paroxysm of his terror he considered himself lost. Chance and his own
ready cunning still, however, stood his friends. The Grand Equerry
(Bellegarde) was, with the insane superstition of the time, accused of
having suborned witnesses to prove that the Marquis had endeavoured by
means of a magic mirror to inspire some of the highest ladies of the
Court with a passion for his person; and as Concini demanded reparation
for this injury, an investigation was instituted, to effect which it was
necessary that summonses should be issued to the witnesses. Sillery, to
whom the Italian was peculiarly obnoxious, and who was the friend of the
Duc de Bellegarde, made some difficulty when called upon to affix the
official seal to these documents; upon which Concini hastened to
complain to the Regent that the Chancellor was endeavouring to sacrifice
him to his enemies; and Marie, indignant no less at the apparent
injustice shown to her favourite than at the delay evinced in obeying
her commands, made no attempt to disguise her displeasure.

On the other hand, the Comte de Soissons, who still hoped to obtain from
the courtesy, or to wring from the fears, of the Regent the promised
government of Quilleboeuf, made a voyage into Normandy, which so alarmed
the Maréchal de Fervaques, who held the city, and who apprehended that
the Prince was about to possess himself of it by force, that he
privately reinforced the garrison; a fact which M. de Soissons no sooner
ascertained than he bitterly upbraided the Maréchal, and a quarrel
ensued between them that produced new difficulties.

Unfortunately Marie de Medicis was at this moment surrounded by evil and
interested advisers, by whom she was induced to embroil herself, not
only with the Princes of the Blood and great nobles, but also with the
Parliament, and eventually with the Protestants. The misunderstanding
which had arisen between the Duc de Rohan and the Maréchal de Bouillon
unhappily produced a disunion among the Huguenot party which laid them
open to the machinations of their enemies; and Marie, whose zeal for the
Romish communion always made her eager to harass and oppress the
Protestants, was readily persuaded to undertake the annullation of the
edicts by which their allegiance had hitherto been secured. Bouillon had
never forgiven the Duc de Rohan for the energetic part which he had
played at the Assembly of Saumur; and secure of his influence over the
mind of the Regent, who felt grateful for the offer of his services upon
that occasion, and the efforts which he had made to carry out her
wishes, he resolved to undermine the interests of the young Duke, and to
attempt to deprive him of his government of St. Jean-d'Angély which had
been bestowed upon him by Henri IV.

Apprised of his intention, M. de Rohan hastened to Court in order to
justify himself, but the mind of Marie had been poisoned against him,
and she treated his remonstrances with chilling indifference. Aware that
the mayor of the town had been bought by his enemies, and that should
that official be continued in his authority he must himself inevitably
lose his government, and thereby forfeit all his influence, the Duke no
sooner saw the period of the municipal election approach than,
pretexting the dangerous illness of his brother, he took his leave of
the Court and hastened back to St. Jean-d'Angély in order to compel the
retirement of the obnoxious functionary. As he had anticipated, on the
day of the canvass a letter was received from the ministers, ordaining
the re-election of the mayor without modification or explanation of any
kind; an affront which so exasperated M. de Rohan that he at once
resisted its enforcement; declaring that the Regent had been misinformed
with regard to the state of the town, which, according to the terms of
the letter, was inferred to be divided into parties; and that, as he
would undertake to convince her Majesty of the error under which she
laboured, they had only to proceed at once to a new election.

Bouillon had been prepared for this opposition; and found it easy to
induce Marie, whose jealousy of power always rendered her on such
occasions as the present a mere tool in the hands of her _soi-disant_
friends, to forward a second and more stringent order for the
continuance in office of the existing mayor. The Duke, however,
persisted in disregarding the mandate; and after having despatched his
secretary to the Louvre to explain the reasons of his resistance, he
proceeded to authorize the nomination of three persons, all eligible for
the office, in order that the Regent might make her own selection; and,
while awaiting her reply, the keys of the city were confided to the
senior sheriff; and he found himself complete master of the place.[146]

Nothing could exceed the indignation of Marie de Medicis on learning
this contempt of her authority. The messengers of M. de Rohan were
forthwith committed to the Bastille; orders were issued to the Duchess
his mother, to his wife, and to his sisters, not to leave the capital;
and preparations were even made to besiege the Duke in St. Jean-d'Angély
as a rebel. Manifestoes to the Protestants were next put forth by both
parties; that of the Queen-mother protesting that the aggressive
measures which she was about to adopt involved no question of faith, but
were destined to be directed simply against M. de Rohan as an
individual; and that consequently they would in no degree affect the
edicts of pacification, which would be rigidly observed; and calling
upon all faithful subjects of the King, whatever might be their
religious persuasion, to aid and abet the effort by which she trusted to
subdue the nascent rebellion threatened by so gross a disregard of the
constituted authorities of the realm. The Duke, on his side, threw
himself upon the justice and generosity of his co-religionists,
reminding them that it was through zeal for their common faith that he
had incurred the resentment of the Court; and having so done, he
hastened to place the city in such a state of defence as should enable
him to resist the attack of the royal troops.

The resolute position thus assumed by M. de Rohan alarmed the ministers;
who apprehensive that the neighbouring provinces, already disaffected by
the negative result of the Assembly of Saumur, would support the cause
of so bold a recusant, and thus renew the civil war by which the nation
had formerly been convulsed, became anxious to temporize. Negotiations
were accordingly commenced between the adverse factions; and it was
ultimately agreed that the keys of the city should be restored to the
mayor from whom they had been taken, and some subaltern officers
displaced by the Duke reinstated in their functions, and that so soon as
this arrangement had been completed a new election should take place, by
which M. de Rohan was to be at liberty to substitute others more
agreeable to himself. This absurd ceremony was accordingly performed;
the royal authority was supposed to have enforced its recognition; and
the Duke, by a merely visionary concession, preserved his
government.[147]

Meanwhile the young Duc de Mayenne had taken leave of the Court, and
departed with a brilliant suite for Madrid, to demand the hand of the
Infanta for the King of France; and on the same day the Duque de
Pastrano left the Spanish capital on his way to Paris to solicit that of
Madame Elisabeth for the Prince of Spain.

The ducal envoy reached the French capital early in the month of July,
accompanied by his brothers Don Francisco and Don Diego de Silva and a
number of Spanish grandees, having been received with extraordinary
honours in every town which he had traversed after passing the frontier.
The Ducs de Luxembourg[148] and de Nevers met him beyond the gate of the
city, accompanied by five hundred nobles on horseback, sumptuously
attired in velvet and cloth of gold and silver, with their horses
splendidly caparisoned. The retinue of the Iberian grandee was not,
however, as the French courtiers had fondly flattered themselves that it
would have been, eclipsed by the lavish magnificence of their own
appearance, his personal costume being of the most splendid description,
his horses and equipages costly and gorgeous, and his numerous train of
attendants habited in a livery of extreme richness.

On the 16th of the month the Spanish Duke had his first audience of the
young King, at which were assembled the Princes of the Blood, all the
high nobility of France, and the Cardinals de Sourdis and de Gondy.[149]
The two latter dignitaries endeavoured to excuse themselves, on the
pretext that their rank as Princes of the Church would not permit them
to seat themselves below the Princes of the Blood; but this pretension
on their part was considered so monstrous, even by the Regent herself,
that, anxious as she was to secure their attendance in order to render
the ceremony more imposing to the Spanish envoy, she did not venture to
support them in their arrogant assumption of equality with the first
subjects of the Crown; and she accordingly informed them in reply that
upon the present occasion there would be no regard paid to precedence,
but that each individual who was entitled to attend the audience would
be at liberty to seat himself as he saw fit.

Thus assured, the two prelates, attired in their rich robes of
violet-coloured velvet, entered the hall; and were about to take their
places near the royal daïs, when the Princes of the Blood, led by M. de
Condé, hastily passed them, and ranged themselves in a line on the right
hand of the King. The Cardinals then proceeded to adopt a similar
position beside the Queen-Regent, but they were immediately displaced by
the Dowager Princess of Condé, her daughter-in-law, and Madame de
Conti; and upon finding themselves thus excluded from the immediate
neighbourhood of the sovereign, they withdrew in great displeasure, no
effort being made to detain them.

Nor was this the only altercation which took place before the
commencement of the ceremony; and the one which we are about to relate
is so characteristic of the manners of that age among the great, that it
must not be omitted. The Duc de Nevers had taken his place upon the
bench appropriated to the Princes of the Blood, immediately below M. de
Soissons, who, being engaged in conversation with his brother, the
Prince de Conti, did not remark the intrusion. M. de Condé, however, who
was seated above his two uncles, at once discovered the enormity of
which the Duke had been guilty, and he forthwith commenced pushing the
Prince de Conti so violently that he excited his attention; and his
purpose was no sooner understood than his example was imitated with an
energy which was instantly communicated to the Comte de Soissons, who in
his turn so pressed upon M. de Nevers that he became extremely
irritated, and demanded why he was subjected to such ungracious
treatment.

"Because this is not a place for you," haughtily retorted the Prince de
Condé.

The Duc de Nevers made a bitter rejoinder, and high words ensued, which
were at length terminated by the Prince, who said significantly: "We can
explain ourselves better elsewhere, M. le Duc; follow me."

The conversation had, however, been overheard by the Maréchal de
Bouillon, who hastened to inform the King that the two Princes had
retired for a hostile purpose; upon which Louis ordered them to be
instantly recalled, and after having rebuked M. de Nevers for assuming a
place to which he was not entitled, insisted upon their immediate
reconciliation.[150]

The Duque de Pastrano was then introduced by M. de Guise and his two
brothers; and after the usual ceremony of welcome on the one side and
obeisance on the other, he presented to the King and his royal mother
the letters with which he had been entrusted by his sovereign. Thence he
proceeded to the apartments of Madame Elisabeth, where he delivered the
missives of the Prince of Spain; after which he was conducted to the
presence of the other Children of France; and finally, having paid his
respects to every member of the royal family, he was attended by a
brilliant retinue of nobles to the residence which had been appropriated
to his use during his sojourn in the capital.

So unparalleled was the splendour displayed upon this occasion, that the
year 1612 was long known in Europe as "the year of magnificence," the
festivities having been alike gorgeous throughout France, Spain, and
Naples; and considerable mortification was experienced in the former
kingdom when it was ascertained, on the return of the Duc de Mayenne,
that the display made in Paris, extraordinary as it was, could not
equal that exhibited at Lerma and Madrid. In the former city the
favourite of Philip had received the French envoy in his own palace, and
had lodged him in an apartment hung with tapestry of silk and gold,
intermingled with emeralds and rubies. In Madrid it is true that the
mourning still worn for the late Queen somewhat modified the brilliancy
of the spectacle; but as every effort had been made to counteract the
effect of this drawback, it became rather a singular feature than an
actual blot upon the gorgeousness of the spectacle presented by the
Spanish capital.[151]

On the 25th of August the marriage articles were signed between Madame
Elisabeth and the Prince of Spain, the dowry of the girl-bride being
five hundred thousand golden crowns; after which the Duque de Pastrano,
laden with magnificent presents, and satiated with pleasure and
festivity, took his leave of the French Court, and left Paris on his
return to Madrid.

The contract between Louis XIII and the Infanta was meanwhile completed
on the 22d of the month in the Spanish capital; and at the close of the
ceremony the Duc de Mayenne was conducted to an audience-chamber in
which Philip was seated with the betrothed Prince and Princess on his
right and left, awaiting his arrival. After having profoundly saluted
the King in perfect silence, the Duke approached the Infanta, to whom he
addressed himself as to the Queen of France. His compliment was
courteously received; and before the termination of this private
audience, when on taking leave he would have bent his knee and kissed
the hand of the sovereign and his son, each in succession saluted him
upon the cheek; an honour as great as it was unexpected, particularly in
a Court where the observances of strict etiquette were more rigidly
enforced than elsewhere in Europe.

The festivities consequent upon the double betrothal occupied several
days, and they no sooner came to a close than the French envoy demanded
a parting audience of his future sovereign, at which he entreated of her
to entrust him with some letter or message for the King his master.

"Tell him," said the Princess eagerly, "that I am very impatient to see
him."

"Oh, Madame!" exclaimed the Condesa d'Altamira, her _gouvernante_, "what
will his Majesty of France think of your Royal Highness when my Lord
Duke informs him that you are in such haste to become a wife?"

"You have always taught me to tell the truth," was the ready retort; and
charged with this sincere and singular communication, M. de Mayenne
returned to Fontainebleau.

The Duke of Savoy had no sooner ascertained that the hand of Madame
Elisabeth was definitely pledged to the Spanish Prince than he declared
to the Queen-Regent his readiness to receive that of the Princesse
Christine for his own son; and for awhile Marie had affected to favour
the alliance; but her great ambition was to see each of her daughters
upon a throne, and she had accordingly entered into a negotiation with
the English monarch for effecting a marriage between the younger
Princess and Henry, Prince of Wales, who was about to be betrothed to
the Princess of Savoy. She was the more encouraged to hope for the
success of this proposal as James had already been a candidate for the
hand of her elder daughter; nor was she deterred by the knowledge that
the Grand Duke of Tuscany[152] had offered one of his sisters, with an
enormous dowry, to the British Prince.[153]

So eager, indeed, was Marie de Medicis to effect this alliance for the
Princesse Christine, that the English Ambassador did not hesitate to
declare to his Government that from the manner in which the affair had
been urged upon him by M. de Villeroy, he felt a conviction that his
royal master might conclude the treaty of marriage whenever he
considered it expedient to do so, and might moreover make whatever
conditions he thought proper.

While the negotiations were still pending, however, the lamentable death
of the high-spirited and promising young Prince terminated at once the
struggle for his hand; and Marie de Medicis, to her undisguised regret,
found herself unable to realize one of her most cherished hopes.

On the 1st of November the Comte de Soissons, who was suddenly attacked
by scarlet fever while still engaged in projects of ambition and
revenge, also breathed his last; an event which was destined to effect a
complete change in the aspect of the Court. By his decease the
governments of Dauphiny and Normandy, as well as the appointment of
Grand Master of the King's Household, became vacant; and four-and-twenty
hours had not elapsed before as many claimants presented themselves,
eager to secure these coveted honours. The Prince had, however, left an
infant son, to whom the Queen-Regent immediately transferred both the
government of Dauphiny and the place at Court recently held by his
father. As regarded Normandy, she resolved to retain it in her own
hands, and to appoint a lieutenant-governor to whom she could confide
the command of the province; but she had no sooner declared her
intention than she was met by the expostulations of M. de Conti, who
reminded her that having formerly ceded the government of Dauphiny to
the Comte de Soissons at her request, he considered himself entitled to
succeed to that which had now become available by his death.

Determined to retain her possession of the province, and yet fearful of
exciting once more the resentment of the Princes of the Blood, the
Regent was compelled to propose a compromise, which, after some
hesitation, was accepted by M. de Conti. It will be remembered that the
Comte d'Auvergne, Charles de Valois, recently become Duc d'Angoulême,
had been committed to the Bastille by Henri IV for conspiring with his
father and sister against the person of the King and the tranquillity of
the realm; nor is it probable that Marie de Medicis would have felt the
slightest inclination to show any indulgence to the step-brother of
Madame de Verneuil, had it not on the present occasion been a matter of
policy to do so. The Marquis de Coeuvres was accordingly instructed to
visit him in his prison, and to offer him his liberty provided he would
resign to the Prince de Conti his government of Auvergne; and although
the Duke at first evinced extreme reluctance to comply with this
condition, he was ultimately induced to yield to the solicitations of
the royal envoy, who convinced him that the freedom for which he yearned
so eagerly could be purchased at no other price.[154]

The body of the Comte de Soissons was conveyed to the Chartreuse at
Gaillon, and there deposited in the tomb of his ancestors;[155] and
before the close of the month the Queen-Regent assisted, at the Hôtel de
Soissons in Paris, at the baptism of his son, which was celebrated in
the presence of all the most distinguished personages of the Court.[156]

At this period a new cabal was organized which effectually neutralized
all attempt at opposition. The chief of this formidable faction was the
Prince de Condé; and it was moreover composed of the Ducs de Nevers, de
Mayenne, and de Longueville, the Maréchal de Bouillon, and the Marquis
d'Ancre. By this combination of rank, influence, and favour, the Guises,
the Duc d'Epernon, and their adherents saw themselves thrown into the
background, and threatened with utter annihilation as a political party.
The Connétable de Montmorency, who believed the power of the Guises to
be firmly established, and who had consequently allied himself to their
interests, was absent in Languedoc, of which province he was governor;
while the Grand Equerry, M. de Bellegarde, who was also their friend,
was sojourning in Burgundy; and thus they found themselves exposed,
almost without support, to the evil offices of the rival faction. The
Queen openly espoused the cause of M. de Condé and his party, while the
ministers soon saw themselves utterly deprived of both influence and
credit; and at length, seriously alarmed by the posture of affairs, the
Duc de Guise wrote to entreat M. de Bellegarde to return with all speed
to Paris, in order to assist him in his endeavour to overthrow the
rapidly-growing power of their mutual adversaries. M. le Grand was
preparing to comply with this request, when an order to the same effect
reached him from the Regent, which tended to hasten his departure; but
on arriving at Sens he was met by one of his friends, who warned him not
to trust himself in the capital, as he had only been recalled in order
that he might either be bribed or frightened into the resignation of
his government, of which the Marquis d'Ancre had undertaken to effect
the transfer to the Duc de Mayenne.

In consequence of this intimation M. le Grand, instead of appearing at
Court in compliance with the royal mandate, returned in all haste to
Languedoc, and the Duc de Guise found himself deprived of his
anticipated assistance.[157] Bellegarde himself, who attributed this
attempt to deprive him of his government to the Baron de Luz--who
through the influence of Bassompierre had been reinstated in the favour
of the Queen, and had consequently abandoned the faction of the Guises,
of whose projects and designs he was cognizant, in order to espouse the
interests and to serve the ambition of the Marquis d'Ancre--vowed
vengeance against the recreant baron, and complained bitterly to his
friends of the insult to which he had been subjected through this
unworthy agency.

The Guises, already apprehensive of the consequences which might accrue
to themselves from the defection of M. de Luz, were only too ready to
sympathize with the indignant Duke, and unfortunately for all parties
they did not confine their sympathy to mere words. Ever prompt and
reckless, they at once resolved to revenge themselves upon their common
enemy; nor was it long ere they carried their fatal determination
into effect.

FOOTNOTES:

[131] D'Estrées, _Mém_. p. 394.

[132] Bassompierre, _Mém_. p. 78.

[133] Rambure, MS. _Mém_. vol. vi. p. 81.

[134] Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mère et du Fils_, vol. i. pp. 175-177.

[135] Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. ii. pp. 607-612.

[136] Le Vassor, vol. i. p. 127.

[137] Henri de Lorraine, Due d'Aiguillon, who had succeeded to the title
of his late father.

[138] Siri, _Mém. Rec._ vol. ii. pp. 618-620.

[139] Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 30, 31.

[140] Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. ii. pp. 640-642.

[141] Charles de Longueval, Comte de Buquoy, was so eminently
distinguished for his military talents that Philip III of Spain and the
Emperor Ferdinand II confided to him the command of their joint armies
in 1619. He completely defeated the forces of the malcontents in
Bohemia; and then marched upon Hungary, which had just elected
Bethlem-Gabor as its sovereign. In 1621 he overcame the troops of the
Magyar monarch, which were entirely routed; but was killed the same year
in a skirmish with a small party of the enemy.

[142] Don Rodrigo Calderon was a statesman rendered famous by his
extraordinary elevation and his equally remarkable reverses. Born at
Antwerp, the son of a Spanish trooper and a Flemish woman of low
extraction, his talents ultimately raised him to the rank of confidant
and favourite of the Duque de Lerma, prime minister of Philip III,
through whose influence he subsequently became Condé d'Oliva, Marques de
Siete-Iglesias, and secretary of state. In 1618 the disgrace of his
patron involved his own ruin. Accused of having poisoned the Queen
Marguerite, he was (in 1619) committed to a dungeon, and two years
afterwards was sacrificed by the Conde-Duque d'Olivarès to the public
hatred against the Duque de Lerma. He perished upon the scaffold
in 1621.

[143] Bassompierre, _Mém_. pp. 78, 79.

[144] François Paris de Lorraine, Chevalier de Guise.

[145] Le Vassor, vol. i. p. 139.

[146] _Mém. du Duc de Rohan_, book i. _Vie de Du Plessis-Mornay_, book
iii.

[147] Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 142-152. Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 36-38.
D'Estrées, _Mém_. pp. 294-298. Matthieu, _Hist. des Derniers Troubles_,
book iii. pp. 473, 474.

[148] Henri, Duc de Luxembourg-Piney, was a descendant of the celebrated
Comte de Saint-Pol, and the last male representative of his family. He
died in 1616, leaving one daughter, Marguerite Catherine de Luxembourg,
who married the Comte Charles Henri de Clermont-Tonnerre, and became the
mother of Madeleine, wife of François de Montmorency, commonly known in
history as the Maréchal de Luxembourg.

[149] Pierre de Gondy, Bishop of Langres, and subsequently first
Archbishop of Paris, who was created a Cardinal by Sixtus V in 1587. He
died in the French capital in 1616, in his eighty-fourth year.

[150] Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. ii. pp. 697-700.

[151] Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 153, 154. _Mercure Français_, 1612.

[152] Cosmo II, Grand Duke of Tuscany, succeeded his father Ferdinand in
1609. He was a Prince of liberal and peaceful sentiments, and greatly
endeared himself to his subjects. He married Marie Madeleine,
Archduchess of Austria, sister of the Queen of Spain and the Duchess of
Savoy; and died in 1621, leaving his duchy to his elder son,
Ferdinand II.

[153] Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. ii. pp. 647-654.

[154] Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 39, 40. Le Vassor, vol. i. p. 160.
D'Estrées, _Mém_. p. 398.

[155] Matthieu, _Hist. des Derniers Troubles_, book iii. p. 474.

[156] Bassompierre, _Mém_. p. 80.

[157] Le Vassor, vol. i. p. 161. Bassompierre, _Mém_. p. 80.



CHAPTER V

1613

State of France at the commencement of 1613--Characteristics of the
Baron de Luz--His imprudence--He is challenged by the Chevalier de
Guise, and killed--The Regent summons a council--The nobles assemble at
the Hôtel de Guise--The Duke is forbidden to enter the Louvre, and
ordered to disperse his friends--M. de la Rochefoucauld refuses to leave
the Hôtel de Guise--He is exiled from the Court--Moderation of the Duc
de Guise--Inflexibility of Marie de Medicis--Her anger against the
Chancellor--She holds a secret council--The Prince de Condé is directed
to demand the seals from M. de Sillery, and to command him to retire
from the capital--Marie determines to arrest the Duc d'Epernon--Her
designs are thwarted by Concini--The Marquis d'Ancre introduces the son
of M. de Luz to the Regent--Marie promises him her protection--
Bassompierre endeavours to effect the recall of the Duc de Guise, and
succeeds--His reception by the Regent--Arrogance of the Duchesse de
Guise--The Prince de Condé forms an alliance with M. de Guise--
Influence of the Prince--He demands the captaincy of the Château
Trompette--Over-zealous friends--Alarm of the Queen--She resolves to
conciliate the Guises--The Marquis d'Ancre and his wife incur the
displeasure of the Queen--Marie purchases the loyalty of the Duc de
Guise--Dignified bearing of the Duc d'Epernon--A reconciliation--"Put
not your faith in princes"--Exultation of the ministers--A private
audience--Eavesdroppers--Mortification of the Prince de Condé--Concini
endeavours to conciliate the Queen--He is repulsed--The young Baron de
Luz challenges the Chevalier de Guise--Wounds his adversary, and is
killed--Royal solicitude--Death of the Chevalier de Guise--Banquet at
the Hôtel de Condé--Affront to Bassompierre--Concini retires to
Amiens--The Duc de Vendôme joins the faction of the Prince de Condé--A
new intrigue--Suspicions of the Regent--Midnight visitors--The Prince de
Condé and the Duc de Vendôme leave the Court--The Regent refuses to
sanction the departure of M. de Guise--The Queen and her favourite--The
ministers pledge themselves to serve Concini--Peril of Bassompierre--He
determines to leave France--Is dissuaded from his purpose by the
Regent--Troubles in Mantua--Negotiation with the Duke of Savoy--James I.
offers the hand of Prince Charles of England to the Princesse
Christine--Satisfaction of Marie de Medicis--The Pope takes alarm--The
Regent and the Papal Nuncio--Death of the Maréchal de Fervaques--Concini
is made Maréchal de France--Ladies of Honour--The Queen and her
foster-sister--The Princesse de Conti--A well-timed visit--The new
Maréchal--A sensation at Court.

The state of France at the commencement of the year 1613 was precarious
in the extreme. As yet no intestine war had broken out, but there
existed a sullen undercurrent of discontent and disaffection which
threatened, like the sound of distant thunder, to herald an approaching
storm. The Court was, as we have shown, the focus of anarchy and
confusion; the power and resources of the great nobles had steadily
increased since the death of Henri IV, and had they only been united
among themselves, the authority of Marie de Medicis must have been set
at nought, and the throne of the boy-King have tottered to its base. The
provinces were, in many instances, in open opposition to the Government;
the ministers indignant at the disrespect shown alike to their persons
and to their functions; the Parliament jealous of the encroachments on
its privileges; the citizens outraged by the lavish magnificence, and
indignant at the insolent assumption of the nobility; and the people
irritated and impoverished by the constant exactions to which they were
subjected in order to supply the exigencies of the state.

Such was the condition of a kingdom dependent for its prosperity upon
the rule of a favourite-ridden woman, and a helpless child.

We have already stated the anxiety of the Guises to revenge themselves
upon M. de Luz; and we have now to relate the tragedy which supervened
upon this resolution. It appears to be the common fate of all favourites
to accelerate their own ruin by personal imprudence; nor was M. de Luz
destined to prove an exception. His life had been a varied one; but the
spirit of intrigue and enterprise with which he was endowed had enabled
him to bid defiance to adverse fortune, and to struggle successfully
against every reverse. Patient under disappointment because strong in
his confidence of future compensation, he was less cautious in his more
prosperous moments; and in one of these he was unhappy enough to afford
a pretext for the violence of the enemies who had vowed his ruin.

Disregarding the presence of the Chevalier de Guise, or perhaps
unconscious of his propinquity, De Luz, shortly after the return of the
Duc de Bellegarde to Languedoc, was relating to a group of nobles, who
were lounging away the time in the great gallery of the Louvre while
awaiting the appearance of the King, the circumstances which preceded
the assassination of the Duc de Guise at Blois; boasting that he was
present with the Maréchal de Brissac when Henri III decided upon the
murder, and had even prevented the former from intimating his danger to
the intended victim. The Chevalier, who was young, impetuous, and, like
all the members of his house, utterly careless of the consequences of
his actions, would have felt himself justified in demanding satisfaction
of M. de Luz simply for the insult offered to his brothers and himself
by his abrupt and unscrupulous abandonment of their interests, and the
affront given to their friend and ally the Duc de Bellegarde; but when
to these real or imagined injuries was superadded the fact that he had
publicly boasted of the share which he had gratuitously and wantonly
taken in the murder of his father, no wonder that the fiery young man,
disregarding alike the royal edicts against duelling and the dictates of
humanity, at once resolved to silence the vauntings of the
quasi-assassin, or to perish in the attempt.

At the moment in which he volunteered the fatal communication De Luz was
protected by the roof that covered him. It was certain death to any
individual, whatever might be his rank, who drew a hostile weapon within
the precincts of the royal palace; and De Guise was aware that by such
an act of imprudence he might forfeit all hope of vengeance. He
affected, consequently, not to have overheard the imprudent admission of
the baron, and controlled the impulse which would have led him to fell
him as he stood; but his thirst of vengeance only became the more
unquenchable by delay, and he watched the movements of his destined
victim with an assiduity which soon enabled him to slake it.

On the 5th of January, at mid-day, his carriage encountered that of M.
de Luz in the Rue St. Honoré, when he immediately summoned him to alight
and defend himself; and at the second pass stretched him lifeless at his
feet.[158]

The Regent, who since she had pardoned M. de Luz had found him a most
zealous and efficient adherent, was angered beyond measure, not only at
the wilful disregard of the royal authority exhibited by the Chevalier,
but also at the loss of an active and useful agent; and the intelligence
had no sooner reached her than, rising from her dinner, which she had
just commenced when the news was brought, she burst into tears, and
retired to her closet. When she had become somewhat more calm she
assembled the Council, by which she was advised to refer the matter to
the Parliament; but while the subject was under deliberation tidings
reached the Louvre that a numerous body of nobles had assembled at the
hôtel of the Duc de Guise, who was himself about to set forth for the
palace attended by a strong party of his friends. Alarmed at the
prospect of such a demonstration, which bore the semblance of an
enforcement of impunity rather than of a deprecation of justice, the
Queen was entreated by those around her to despatch M. de Châteauvieux
to the residence of the Duc de Guise, to forbid his approach to the
royal presence until formally summoned to appear; and to command in her
name that all the persons who had assembled under his roof should
immediately retire.

The Regent followed this advice, and on his return to the palace M. de
Châteauvieux reported that he had rigidly performed his duty; that the
Duke had abandoned his intention of demanding an audience of her
Majesty; and that although many of those by whom he was surrounded had
originally refused to obey her commands, they had ultimately been
induced to do so by the persuasions of M. de Guise himself, who
represented the propriety of their compliance with her will; with the
sole exception of M. de la Rochefoucauld[159] who had declined to quit
the hôtel.

The Queen immediately issued an order for his exile from the Court,
which was communicated to him upon the instant; nor was her indignation
towards the Duc de Guise appeased, even upon learning that he had
evinced the greatest respect for her authority, and the most perfect
submission to her will; or that when, after his encounter with M. de
Luz, the Chevalier had presented himself at his hôtel and claimed his
protection, he had refused to receive him, or in any way to countenance
the crime of which he had been guilty.

The displeasure of the Regent was, moreover, greatly excited by the
Chancellor, who had evinced no disposition to proceed against M. de
Guise; and she accordingly declared her determination to deprive him of
the seals, and to bestow them upon some individual who would perform his
duty more efficiently. For this purpose she secretly summoned the Prince
de Condé, the Duc de Bouillon, and the Marquis d'Ancre to the Louvre,
the whole of whom approved her intention; and it was arranged that M. de
Condé should demand the seals, and at the same time command the
Chancellor in the name of their Majesties to retire to one of his
estates. It was, moreover, resolved that Marie should name a day when
she would dine at the hôtel of Zamet, and that on her way she should
enter the Bastille and cause the arrest of the Duc d'Epernon, who had
only a week previously returned to Court, after a serious illness. The
accomplishment of these hasty measures was, however, frustrated by the
ambition of the Marquis d'Ancre, who was desirous of replacing the
Chancellor by some creature of his own, while his wife was equally
anxious that the vacant dignity should be conferred upon a person who
was obnoxious to the Duc de Bouillon; and as it was necessary that in
order to effect their purpose they should each propose the same
individual, so much time was lost that Marie had leisure to reconsider
her intention, and to abandon it.[160]

The Marquis d'Ancre had, however, aggravated her displeasure against M.
de Guise by introducing to her presence the son of the murdered man, who
threw himself at her feet, weeping bitterly, and demanding justice.

The woman-heart of Marie de Medicis was deeply moved; and while her
anger increased against the Guises, her sympathy for the sufferer before
her melted her to tears. Bidding him take comfort, she promised all he
asked; and before he withdrew conferred upon him the offices and
pensions of his father, assuring him that he might thenceforward rely
upon her protection.

[Illustration: Marshal Bassompierre.]

At the close of a few days Bassompierre, who was First Gentleman of the
Chamber to the Regent, and greatly in her confidence; and who was
anxious to reinstate the Duc de Guise in her favour, on account of his
attachment to the Princesse de Conti,[161] ventured to impress upon his
royal mistress, not only the inexpediency of utterly estranging from her
interests so powerful a family, but also the policy of recognizing with
indulgence and pardon the ready obedience and loyalty of the Duke, who
had not scrupled to sacrifice the safety of a brother to whom he was
tenderly attached to his sense of duty towards herself. Marie suffered
him to proceed for some time in silence; but at length his zeal was
rewarded by her consent to receive M. de Guise, and to listen to his
offered justification, provided he came to the Louvre at nightfall,
and alone.

After expressing his deep sense of this concession Bassompierre hastened
to communicate his success to the Duke, who lost no time in presenting
himself before his offended mistress; and so ably did he plead his
cause, replacing his accustomed haughtiness and impetuosity by a
demeanour at once respectful and submissive, that Marie de Medicis,
whose attachment to his house had long been notorious, declared herself
satisfied, and assured him that thenceforward she should hold him
exonerated from any participation in the crime of his brother. Upon one
point, however, the Regent remained firm; and although the Duke
earnestly implored the recall of M. de la Rochefoucauld, he was met by
so decided a refusal that he was compelled to abandon all immediate hope
of success. He had, nevertheless, save in this respect, every reason to
congratulate himself upon his reception; and the affair would probably
have elicited no further consequences, had not the Duchess his mother,
whose pride of birth, and natural arrogance, led her to believe herself
inferior to no crowned head in Europe, and who ill-brooked the authority
of one whom she was accustomed to consider as a mere petty Princess,
indebted to circumstances for her temporary position of command,
resolved to demand an interview upon the same subject; which having been
accorded by the Regent, renewed with greater violence than ever the
anger of Marie, who, justly irritated at finding herself defied and
braved by one of her own subjects, dismissed the imprudent Duchess with
so much harshness that the position of the offending parties became more
onerous than before, and the interference of Bassompierre was rendered
worse than useless.

Disconcerted by this unexpected disappointment, M. de Guise, aware that
no influence less than that possessed by the Marquis d'Ancre could any
longer avail him, compelled himself to overcome his pride sufficiently
to entreat the good offices of the astute Italian; who, eager to seize
so favourable an opportunity of strengthening the faction of the Princes
of the Blood, referred him to M. de Condé as the only individual likely
to accomplish his reconciliation with the indignant Queen, and the
rather as the Duc d'Epernon declared himself ready to second the
appeal.[162]

This advice was eagerly adopted by M. de Guise; who found little
difficulty in effecting his object, the Princes having no sooner
discovered that he had lost the favour of the Queen than they became
anxious to attach him to their own interests; and so rapidly did this
new alliance ripen that, with his usual impetuous recklessness, the
young Duke ere long requested Bassompierre never again to mention the
recall of M. de la Rochefoucauld to the Regent, as he should shortly
accomplish it through the medium of the Prince de Condé; adding that
thenceforward their mutual understanding would be so perfect that on the
next occasion of the Queen's displeasure against himself, she would find
no rod with which to chastise him.[163]

The influence of M. de Condé at this precise period was indeed so great
as almost to justify the confidence of his new ally; but it was destined
to be rapidly undermined by his own imprudence. He had long coveted the
command of the Château Trompette, of which, although it was situated in
the principal city of his government, he was not in possession; and
believing that the Regent would not venture, under existing
circumstances, to refuse to him what he had taught himself to consider
as a right, he induced the Ducs de Mayenne and d'Epernon and the Marquis
d'Ancre to make the demand in his name. His friends zealously obeyed his
bidding, and urged the Queen to this, as they declared, unimportant
concession; reminding her that as M. de Condé had devoted himself to her
cause, he merited every favour which she could bestow upon him without
danger to the state.

Marie de Medicis was not, however, prepared to regard this new demand
upon her indulgence in so unimportant a light. She apprehended, and not
without reason, that the Princes were endeavouring to sap the
foundations of her authority, by possessing themselves of the fortresses
of the Crown; and it was consequently with a heightened colour that,
having heard the arguments addressed to her, she briefly replied that
she would give the subject her consideration. The three nobles, anxious
for the success of their mission, were not, however, to be so easily
discouraged; and they consequently proceeded to impress upon her Majesty
the impolicy of a delay which could not fail to wound the susceptibility
of the Prince; but the patience of Marie was not proof against this
pertinacity, and again declaring that she should take time to consider
the subject, she rose from her seat and withdrew to her private closet,
still closely followed by the applicants, her eyes flashing with anger
as she discovered that they were even yet resolved to persecute her with
their entreaties. Soon, however, she recovered her self-possession; and
turning with a smile towards her obnoxious guests, she said, as
playfully as though no cause of annoyance were coupled with their
presence: "I have just learnt a new gallantry of which Bassompierre has
been the hero; he did not know that it would reach my ears, nor will he
be well pleased to find that I have heard of it."

"I trust that your Majesty will inform him of the discovery," said the
Duc de Nevers, instantly adding: "Approach, M. de Bassompierre; the
Queen has something to confide to you."

"No, no," replied Marie, in the same tone of banter which she had so
suddenly assumed, "I shall not tell him one word of the matter."

At once surprised and alarmed, the Marquis immediately approached the
Regent, and entreated her to let him hear the intelligence which she had
to communicate; and he had no sooner done so than Marie, whose
subterfuge had succeeded, moved to a distant window, and motioned to him
to follow her. When she had reached the recess, she still continued to
stand with her back towards the two Dukes; and as Bassompierre gained
her side, she said in a hasty whisper: "I know nothing of your
intrigues; but tell me, has M. de Guise ceased to urge you to effect
the return of La Rochefoucauld?"

"Only three days ago, Madame, he bade me desist from importuning your
Majesty upon the subject, as the Prince de Condé had promised him that
it should be shortly accomplished through his own means; adding,
moreover, that he could scarcely be blamed for adopting the interests of
the Princes, since your own creature, M. d'Ancre, had done the same."

As Bassompierre spoke warm tears gushed from the eyes of the Queen.
"Yes," she exclaimed bitterly; "the very men who induced me to oppose
the Princes and to offend the ministers are now endeavouring to profit
by my unsupported position, to undermine my authority, and to ruin my
credit with the people. You heard how insolently they demanded a royal
fortress for their leader; and I am well aware that should I grant their
request it would only expose me to the necessity of making new
concessions."

"Do not distress yourself, Madame," replied the skilful courtier, eager
to avail himself of so favourable an opportunity of serving his friends;
"you can always command the means of recalling them to their allegiance;
and, did I dare to proffer a counsel to your Majesty, I would suggest
that you should employ them."

"We will talk no more at present," said Marie; "return here when I have
risen from table, and by that time I shall have had leisure to reflect
upon your advice."

She then advanced once more to the centre of the apartment, and
commenced a trivial conversation, which she maintained until the
departure of the two Dukes, thus effectually preventing all recurrence
to the obnoxious subject; but she was not destined to escape so readily
as she had hoped from this new persecution. Concini and his wife had
alike pledged themselves to M. de Condé that they would support his
pretensions with all their influence, and their vanity was consequently
enlisted in the cause as much as their interests. The Queen-mother,
therefore, no sooner found herself alone with Leonora than the subject
was renewed; and that with so much pertinacious resolution that the
dignity of the Regent took alarm, and she expressed herself with
considerable bitterness to the presumptuous favourite. At this crisis
Concini entered the apartment; and with as little caution as his wife
had previously exhibited, persisted in urging upon his harassed mistress
the same unpalatable advice; until, utterly wearied, and deeply
indignant at an interference which exceeded all the bounds of courtesy
and respect, Marie commanded them both to quit her presence, and gave
instant orders that they should not again be admitted until she had
signified her pleasure to that effect.

As the officers of the household were about to marshal the Regent to the
mid-day meal, Bassompierre encountered the Duc de Guise, of whom he
immediately inquired if he had abandoned the cause of the unfortunate La
Rochefoucauld, who would inevitably die of _ennui_, should he be long
exiled from the gaieties of the Court.

"No, no," vehemently replied the Duke, "he shall return to share them;
nor will I be under an obligation to the Queen for his reappearance. I
have served her with zeal, and have been repaid by coldness and neglect.
I have therefore made new interests, and now recognize no leader but M.
de Condé, no coadjutors but his cabal; nor will I abandon them although
I adopted their policy with reluctance; a determination, Monsieur," he
added pointedly, "which you at least will not condemn, as you are a
member of the same party."

"Your Lordship is partially in error," said Bassompierre gaily. "I am,
it is true, the very humble servant of all such individuals as are
favoured by the Prince, but I do not recognize them as a political body.
I am the devoted adherent of their Majesties, and I know no other
masters. Pardon me, moreover, if I venture to say that you have
yourself, M. le Duc, been very ill-advised. You were formerly the leader
of your own faction, since it would appear that we are to talk of
factions; you were dependent upon no one, and responsible only to
yourself for your actions and opinions; and now you have allied your
fortunes to those of persons by whom you will be subjected to a thousand
indignities and annoyances when they no longer require your support.
How, then, do you imagine that you will be able to brook such treatment,
when you suffer yourself to be angered and alienated by a cold word from
the Regent? You should remember that your brother killed M. de Luz
almost under her eyes, and in defiance of a stringent edict; and that
you could scarcely anticipate the immediate recall of one of the
officers of the King's household who had peremptorily refused to obey
the royal command by which he was enjoined to leave your hôtel."

"Well, well," exclaimed the Duke impatiently, "the Queen will one day
discover her error in having ventured to offer me a slight in order to
gratify those by whom she suffers herself to be governed. She will ere
long seek my friendship, but I shall either refuse to listen or compel
her to purchase it at a high price."

The Regent had no sooner returned to her closet than, in obedience to
her orders, Bassompierre again presented himself; and as soon as she had
dismissed her attendants she at once entered upon the subject that
occupied her thoughts. "Bestein," she said, addressing the Marquis by
the name which she usually applied to him during their confidential
interviews, "this wretched affair has totally unnerved me. I was unable
to swallow any food, and unless my mind is relieved at once I shall go
mad. You must reconcile me to the Duc de Guise at any price. Offer
him a hundred thousand crowns for himself, the commission of
Lieutenant-General of Provence for his brother, and the reversion of the
Abbey of St. Germain for the Princesse de Conti. In one word, promise
him what you please, and I will consent, provided you annihilate this
cabal and detach him from the interests of the Princes."

"Madame," replied Bassompierre with a gay smile, "you have filled my
hands so amply that I am sure of making a successful bargain. But have I
no similar commission with regard to M. d'Epernon?"

"Ah, would that I could hope so much," said Marie gloomily; "but I have
wounded his vanity, and he never forgives."

"Seldom, perhaps, Madame," was the ready rejoinder of the shrewd
courtier, "his enemies, but readily his rulers."

"Endeavour then," exclaimed the Queen eagerly, "to effect this also,
Bestein; remind him of all that I have already done, both for himself
and his children, and assure him that I have never lost the inclination
to serve him. If any one can accomplish so desirable an object, you are
the person."

Bassompierre lost no time in opening the important negotiation with
which he was entrusted; and the wiliness with which he first enlisted
the ambition and cupidity of the females of the family presents a
curious picture of the manners of the time. His success could not long
remain doubtful at a period when the allegiance of the highest nobles of
the land was bought and sold like the most common merchandise; and
accordingly, although, as he informs us, the Duc de Guise for a time
indulged in his ordinary extravagance of speech, he gradually yielded,
and--as a natural consequence--received the price of his venal
concession!

On this occasion, however, M. d'Epernon, whose birth was far inferior
to that of his friend, displayed a higher sense of what was due to
himself and to his rank. "In matters of this importance," he said
proudly, as Bassompierre urged him once more to espouse the interests of
the Regent, and hinted at the benefit likely to accrue to himself from
his compliance with her wishes, "I never condescend to bargain.
Decisions of real weight should be formed frankly and disinterestedly. I
have no wish to capitulate with my sovereign. Offer me no bribe, for I
should consider it only as an insult. Any service which I can render to
the Queen has been already amply recompensed, and I should be unworthy
alike of the name I bear and of the offices I hold did I place my
loyalty at a price. I have only one favour to request of her Majesty
before I again devote myself to her interests, and that is that she will
henceforward exhibit more firmness, and attach a greater value to those
who have served her with fidelity and zeal. This conceded, I am ready to
attend her pleasure whenever she may see fit to summon me to her
presence."

The exultation of Marie de Medicis at the happy termination of his
mission rendered her profuse in her expressions of gratitude to
Bassompierre, which she terminated by the assurance that he should be
appointed First Lord of the Bedchamber to the young King, even should
she, as she declared, be compelled to purchase the post from her own
private funds; and these preliminaries arranged, on the following
morning, at nine o'clock, the two Dukes proceeded to pay their respects
to her Majesty, by whom they were most graciously received, and who
commanded that a seat should be placed for M. d'Epernon, whose recovery
from a severe illness was, as we have already stated, only recent. The
interview was a long one, and no allusion was made on either side to the
late defection of the distinguished guests, who, on rising to retire,
were invited by the Queen to attend her to the theatre that evening; and
they had no sooner expressed their acknowledgments than she gave orders
to the captain of her guard to have benches prepared for both the Duc
d'Epernon and M. Zamet, by whom he was to be accompanied.

This extraordinary favour excited universal comment when the assembled
courtiers perceived that it was not even extended to the Duc de Mayenne,
who was also present at the performance; and Concini, in particular, was
so struck by the sudden change of affairs that he exclaimed
energetically to Bassompierre, beside whom he stood: "_Per Dio!_
Monsieur, I can but laugh over the mutations of this strange world; the
Queen has found a seat for Zamet, and there is none for the Duc de
Mayenne. Place your faith in princes after this!"

Great was the exultation of the courtiers when the disgrace of Concini
became known; but that of the ministers, as they learnt its cause, was
even more profound. One web of the complicated mesh which had been woven
about the spirit of the Queen had at length given way, while her
refusal to accede to the request of the Prince de Condé convinced them
that he was no longer likely to prove so formidable an enemy to
themselves as he had recently been. Acting upon this impression they
hastened to solicit a private audience of the Regent, declaring that
they had matters of great importance to treat with her, which they would
only communicate to herself; and their satisfaction was complete when an
answer was returned appointing an hour for their appearance at the
Louvre, and naming as the place of their reception the private closet of
the Queen.

"Messieurs," said Marie graciously, as they paused upon the threshold of
the apartment to make the accustomed obeisance, "your request shall be
strictly complied with." And then turning to the captain of her guard
she added: "M. de Senneterre, you will suffer no one to enter here, be
he whom he may."

Delighted by the manner of their reception, the ministers at once
entered upon the subject which had induced them to solicit the
interview, and respectfully represented to the Regent the alarm which
they had felt at the dangerous demand advanced by the Prince de Condé,
and the exertions which they had ascertained were to be made by the
Marquis d'Ancre to induce her Majesty's compliance; assuring her that
the surrender of a royal fortress of such importance as the Château
Trompette to the control of the first Prince of the Blood could not fail
to prove prejudicial to the interests of the King and the tranquillity
of the nation.

"I am fully aware of the importance of such a concession, Messieurs,"
replied Marie with dignity; "and my resolution is already formed. I have
not yet forgotten that my late lord your sovereign more than once
assured me that had he, while at war with Henri III, gained possession
of the Château Trompette, he could have made himself Duc de Guienne. A
fact like this is well calculated to rivet itself upon the memory."

At this moment the usher scratched upon the door, and entered to
announce that the Marquis d'Ancre desired admission to the presence of
the Queen; but the ministers had scarcely had time to exchange one
glance of alarm and annoyance before Marie, with considerable vehemence,
repeated her former order, and the mortified Marquis was compelled
to retire.

Cautiously as the audience had been accorded, the Italian had not failed
to ascertain through his spies the presence of the ministers in the
palace; and aware of his own danger should they regain their legitimate
influence over the mind of the Queen, he unhesitatingly resolved to
brave her interdict in order to counteract the effect of their
representations. He had, however, as we have shown, signally failed; and
with the most gloomy forebodings of impending evil he returned to the
apartments of his wife to report the ill-success of his attempt.

Nor was Concini the only visitor who sought admission to the Queen
during her conference with the ministers. M. de Condé, who was still
unaware of the moral revolution which had been effected, had, as was his
custom, proceeded to the Louvre in order to consult with her on state
affairs; and had been panic-struck when denied admission to her
presence, and informed that she was then closeted with his mortal
enemies. In his consternation he sought a solution of the mystery from
Bassompierre, who, after expressing his utter ignorance of its meaning,
cunningly insinuated that it was, in all probability, an intrigue of the
Maréchal de Bouillon, who had effected a reconciliation with the Regent
and her ministers at his expense; a suggestion which appeared so
probable to the Prince that he immediately hurried to the apartments of
Concini to discuss with him the necessary measures for averting this
new danger.

Madame d'Ancre, who was well aware of the extent of her own power over
the spirit of her foster-sister, would not permit herself to regard her
present disgrace as more than a passing shadow, and urged her less
confident husband to persevere in his attempt to regain the good graces
of Marie, assuring him that the Queen would ere long be as anxious for a
reconciliation as himself. Somewhat encouraged by this declaration,
Concini, whose vanity was only rivalled by his ambition, and who,
despite daily experience, believed his own society to be as
indispensable to the Regent as that of his wife, took measures to
ascertain the precise moment at which the ministerial audience
terminated, when, profiting by the opportunity, he threw himself upon
his knees before the justly-offended Queen, and entreated her
forgiveness of his involuntary offence. Marie was, however, in no mood
for trifling, and she sternly bade him leave her; a command which he
obeyed only to wreak upon his wife the consequences of his own
mortification.[164]

The son of the Baron de Luz finding that, despite her promise, the
Regent had taken no measures to avenge the death of his father, but
that, on the contrary, she had stopped the proceedings which previously
to her reconciliation with the Duc de Guise had been commenced against
his brother, determined to demand satisfaction in his own person; and he
accordingly despatched a challenge to the Chevalier, which was
immediately accepted by the hot-headed young noble. Seconds were
appointed, and in compliance with the barbarous custom of the time the
four combatants fought on horseback at the Porte St. Antoine. At the
first pass François de Guise was wounded, but at the third his sword
pierced the body of his antagonist, who fell from his saddle and expired
a few minutes afterwards. Notwithstanding this tragical result, however,
the murderer alike of the father and the son boldly returned to Paris,
where he was visited and congratulated by numbers of the nobles, who,
instead of shrinking from all contact with a man who had desolated the
hearth and home of a sorrowing and now childless widow, were loud in
their encomiums on his bravery and skill. Nor was this the most
revolting feature of the case; for it is on record that Marie de Medicis
herself, in her eagerness to retain the alliance of his family, no
sooner learnt that the Chevalier had received a wound in the encounter
than she despatched an officer of her household to convey to him her
regret and to inquire into the extent of his hurt, overlooking, with
extraordinary inconsistency, or still more reprehensible recklessness,
the fact that only a few weeks previously she had instructed the
Parliament to put him upon his trial for the murder of his first victim.

The unslumbering eye of Heaven, however, and the unerring fiat of divine
justice, proved less oblivious of this monstrous crime. In the course of
the following year, while at the fortress of Baux near Arles, François
de Guise was in the act of firing off a cannon, which burst and wounded
him in so frightful a manner that he expired two hours subsequently in
extreme torture, thus partially expiating by a death of agony a youth of
misrule and bloodshed.[165]

The murder of the younger De Luz had no sooner reached the ears of M. de
Luynes than he resolved to avail himself of the circumstance to awaken
the ambition of Louis, and to induce him to fling off the shackles of
maternal authority. Eager as he had long been for an opportunity of
effecting this object, his attempts had hitherto been negatived by the
ceaseless energy with which Marie de Medicis had smothered in their germ
all attempts at sedition, thus rendering herself essential to the
well-being and security of the kingdom; and he accordingly felt all the
importance of the present crisis.

Under this impression, after listening attentively to the narrative of
his informant, he hastened to the apartment of the King, who was still
engaged in the cares of his morning toilet; and no contrast could have
been more striking than the simple costume of the young sovereign and
the elaborate dress of his favourite. The pourpoint of Louis was of deep
crimson velvet, slashed with satin of the same colour, and totally
without ornament, a simplicity which marked his own observance of the
sumptuary edict that he had lately issued; whereas De Luynes, with an
arrogant disregard of the royal proclamation, was attired in a vest of
pale blue, richly embroidered with gold and relieved by a short mantle
of amaranth, clasped by a rich jewel similar to that which attached the
snowy plume to his black velvet cap.

As the cap was doffed, however, and the long feather swept the
tapestried floor, Louis forgot to chide this ostentatious defiance of
his will, and with a smile motioned his splendid courtier to a seat.

"You come like a bridegroom from the wedding feast, Albert," he said
cheerfully; "and you surely bring me a message of good import, or your
garb belies you. Has De Brantès announced the speedy arrival of my
sparrow-hawks?"

"Of one only, Sire; the smaller of the two died under his training."

"Ah!" exclaimed the King, with great petulance; "it is always so.
Whatever is destined to give me pleasure fails when I am the most eager
to possess it."

"And yet," interposed De Luynes gaily, "never, in so far as I can judge,
did fortune show herself more favourable to your Majesty."

"What mean you?" asked Louis, roused for an instant from his usual
apathy.

"Oh! it is a long tale, and a strange one," said the favourite. "You may
remember, Sire, the quarrel that arose between the old Baron de Luz and
the Chevalier de Guise, and which grew out of the cabal against Concini.
You cannot have forgotten, moreover, that the Baron was killed. Well,
his son Antoine de Luz, impatient for a vengeance which was too tardy
according to the principle of his filial chivalry, took, as it seems,
the affair into his own hands, and flattered himself that where his
father had failed he should come forth victorious. Poor boy! he has paid
dearly for his mistake. His sword has proved duller than his hopes. He
has encountered the Chevalier in his turn, and in his turn has bit the
dust. François de Guise pierced him through and through one day last
week near the Porte St. Antoine."

"Holy Virgin!" exclaimed Louis in an agitated voice; "do you mean that
he is dead?"

"Dead, like his father," was the unmoved reply.

"And her Majesty the Queen-Regent was no sooner informed of the fact
than she commanded M. de Bassompierre to arrest the Chevalier."

"I will not permit it!" cried the young King vehemently. "I love
François de Guise; he is one of my firmest friends; he shall not be
imprisoned."

"Calm yourself, Sire," said De Luynes with a significant smile; "Madame
la Régente was soon appeased, and so little does she resent the crime of
M. de Guise that she has this morning condescended to cause inquiries to
be made after his health."

"Right, right," murmured Louis; "and yet it is a bad precedent, and a
dangerous example to the lesser nobles. I hate this spilling of blood.
The Princes are too bold. Upon what will they next venture?"

"Nay, it requires no sphynx to solve that problem, my gracious master,"
said the favourite, toying with his plumed cap; "they will endeavour to
effect the exile of Concini and his dark-browed wife: your good subjects
have no love for foreigners, and believe that you, their sovereign,
would find no want of faithful and devoted servitors among themselves.
Then Jeannin, Sire, and Sillery are obnoxious to them; and they trust,
with your good help, to be ere long freed from all these incubi."

"Luynes," said Louis in a tone of weariness, "I hate to hear you talk
upon such subjects. I have more than enough of them from others. Is De
Guise recovering from his wound? for he must also have suffered in the
fray, or the Queen-mother would not have sought tidings of him."

"Fear not for him, Sire," said the favourite; "he will be quite able to
keep the saddle when M. de Condé heads an army to snatch the crown of
our fair France from your own brow."

"Stay, sir!" exclaimed the young King with sudden dignity. "Have _you_
also forgotten that I am the son of Henri IV?"

"May your Majesty never forget it more than I do," said De Luynes, with
an audacity before which the eye of Louis sank; "but believe me that the
fact will avail you little until you have purged the nation of the
foreign fungus which is corroding the root of your authority."

"Albert," murmured the weak young monarch, "in the name of Heaven, what
would you ask?"

"To see you in reality the King of France, Sire."

"And for this purpose--"

"You must appease the Princes. They are weary of the despotic rule of
the Queen-mother and of the influence of these Florentines."

"I dare not urge the Queen to banish them."

"Nor should you, Sire. It is for subjects to solicit, and for sovereigns
to command. There is, moreover, a safer cure than exile for such
an evil."

"Nay, now, De Luynes, you jest," said Louis, striving to force a sickly
smile; "you surely would not counsel--"

"Your Majesty mistakes me," interposed the favourite; "I would dare
anything to secure your safety. Justice holds her sword as firmly as her
balance, and wields the one as freely as she weighs the other."

"Enough, enough," gasped out Louis; "we will talk of this again--but
blood, blood, always blood! It is sickening. You will attend me to
Fontainebleau, Albert; I must have some sport to-day, and endeavour to
forget for a time all your moody arguments."

De Luynes bowed low as he glanced significantly towards Roger, the
favourite valet of the King, who replied to the meaning look by an
almost imperceptible shrug of the shoulders as he adjusted the mantle of
his royal master.

"Go, Monsieur le Grand Fauconnier," pursued the King, "and see that all
is prepared. I will follow on the instant."

Ten minutes subsequently the Court of the Louvre was thronged with
courtiers, equipages, and led horses; and within a quarter of an hour
the voice of the usher was heard at the foot of the great staircase
announcing "The King." Then Louis himself appeared, and taking his place
in the coach which was awaiting him, he motioned De Luynes to his side,
gave the signal of departure, and left the palace at a rapid pace. The
royal suite mounted in haste; and ere long nobles, pages, and equerries
had disappeared, and all was once more silent beneath the deep shadows
of the regal pile.

It is evident that, crafty as Bassompierre had shown himself when
conversing with M. de Condé on the subject of the extraordinary changes
which had taken place at Court, he was nevertheless suspected by the
Prince of having contributed to effect them, as a short time
subsequently a banquet was given at the Hôtel de Condé, to which every
nobleman in office was invited save the handsome and popular Gentleman
of the Bedchamber, who was generally one of the most coveted guests at
entertainments of that description; but the exclusion, marked as it was,
failed to cause any mortification to Bassompierre, who had no sooner
communicated the circumstance to the Regent than she commanded his
attendance in her private _salon_, where he passed the afternoon at
cards with herself and her ladies.

Concini, finding that the Queen did not relax in her coldness towards
himself and his wife, withdrew in great displeasure to Amiens; and at
the same period Marie discovered that, despite his promise to the
contrary, the Duc de Vendôme had joined the faction of Condé, and that
they were conjointly endeavouring to win back M. de Guise. Alarmed by
this new cabal, and made aware that the latter had betrayed symptoms of
irresolution which augured ill for his adhesion to her cause, she lost
no time in reminding him of the pledges which he had given, and in
entreating him not to abandon her interests. The Duke, flattered by the
importance that the Queen-mother attached to his allegiance, readily
promised all she wished; and she had reason to congratulate herself upon
her promptitude, as only a few days subsequently M. de Vendôme and
Concini arrived at Fontainebleau, where the Court had recently
established its residence, when the former hastened to take leave of
their Majesties previously to his departure for Brittany, where he was
about to preside over the Assembly of the States, and the latter on the
pretext of bearing him company; but in reality to induce Zamet, who
possessed considerable authority in the palace, to assign rooms to them
in that portion of the building occupied by the Duc de Guise.

Such an arrangement could not, however, be effected without reaching the
ears of the Regent, whose suspicions of their motive were immediately
excited; and she desired Bassompierre not to lose sight of M. de Guise
until he had retired to rest, and to prevent his holding any
communication with the Duc de Vendôme. Resolved, moreover, to ascertain
the correctness of those suspicions, she directed M. de Senneterre to
watch throughout the night upon the staircase of the Duc de Guise; a
vigilance which was rewarded by his discovery of the two nobles, who,
shortly after Bassompierre had withdrawn, paid a visit to the Duke which
lasted upwards of two hours. The astonishment of the Regent was
consequently by no means great when M. de Guise in his turn waited upon
her Majesty to take leave, upon the pretext that he had been chosen by
Madame d'Elboeuf, conjointly with the Duc de Mayenne, as her arbitrator
in a reconciliation which was about to be attempted between herself and
Madame de la Trémouille, who had on her side selected the Prince de
Condé and the Maréchal de Bouillon. Marie, however, refused to consent
to his departure, and informed him that she would despatch Bassompierre
as his substitute; an arrangement with which he was compelled to comply,
but which greatly embarrassed his friends.

Meanwhile the anger of the Queen against Concini had been seriously
increased by this new instance of ingratitude; and even the pleadings of
his wife, who had been restored to favour, failed to appease her
displeasure. In imparting her commands to Bassompierre, Marie had
inveighed bitterly against the attitude assumed by a man who owed
everything to her indulgence; and as her listener endeavoured to excuse
him, she said vehemently:--

"Urge nothing in his behalf. He has thought proper to judge for himself,
and to join a cabal which he knows to be opposed to my authority. Tell
him from me that if he does not return here by Thursday evening, I will
teach him in future to obey me; and that had it not been from
consideration for his wife, I should already have provided him with a
lodging which he would have found it difficult to quit. Leonora is
indignant at his conduct; while he continues to act more disgracefully
from day to day. Inform him that he will do well not to neglect
my orders."

The arrogant Italian was, however, by no means inclined to obedience;
nor was it without considerable difficulty that Bassompierre succeeded
in impressing upon him the extent of the danger to which he exposed
himself by the line of conduct he had so recklessly adopted, and in
ultimately effecting his reconciliation with his justly offended
mistress.[166]

This was no sooner accomplished than the ministers, who thenceforward
despaired of ever permanently counterbalancing the influence of Concini
and his wife, determined, if possible, to unite their interests to his;
and for this purpose the President Jeannin, who had maintained a better
understanding with the Marquis than any of his colleagues, proposed to
the Queen that an effort should be made to reconcile the Chancellor and
Villeroy with her favourite, a suggestion which she eagerly adopted,
being anxious to strengthen her own party by weakening that of the
Princes. She had been apprised that the Maréchal de Bouillon, who was
indignant that he could not attain to the degree of power which he had
anticipated under a regency, was perseveringly employed in endeavouring
to detach the Duc de Guise from her interests, and to fortify the cabal
of the Prince de Condé, in order to render his own allegiance
indispensable to the Crown; and she consequently welcomed any method of
circumventing a conspiracy which was becoming formidable. It was
therefore determined that a marriage should be proposed between the
daughter of Concini and the Marquis de Villeroy, the grandson of the
Secretary of State; and this overture was accompanied by the most lavish
promises on the part of the ministers that they would serve him by
every means in their power, and exert all their energies to advance
his fortunes.

This negotiation, which was undertaken without the knowledge of
Bassompierre, had nearly proved fatal to his prospects; as both parties,
dreading his influence with the Regent, determined to undermine him in
her regard; and for this purpose they so wilfully misrepresented his
actions, and contrived to invest them with so suspicious an appearance,
that Marie, who had begun to misdoubt every one about her, treated him
with a harshness which his proud spirit could not brook; and he
accordingly made preparations for quitting the Court of France, with the
intention of entering the service of some foreign Prince.

His design was no sooner ascertained, however, than his friends,
particularly the Duc de Guise and the Princesse de Conti, hastened to
represent to the Queen the impolicy of forfeiting the friendship and
assistance of one who had so faithfully espoused her cause; and their
representations prevailed. Bassompierre was permitted to justify
himself, and Marie frankly admitted her conviction that she had been
misled by his enemies.

In addition to these intestine intrigues, the Regent was occupied with
the troubles generated by the disputed succession of the duchy of
Mantua, regarding which she was reluctant to come to any resolution
without securing the advice of the Princes and great nobles; upon which
she was, moreover, the more anxious to insist, as it would afford an
opportunity of summoning to the capital not only M. de Condé himself,
but all the other leaders of the adverse faction; who had, as we have
shown, withdrawn from the Court, and were exasperated by the
reconciliation of the Regent with the Ducs de Guise and d'Epernon, and
the recall of the ministers. The Council accordingly met; and as the
Cardinal-Duke of Mantua was a near relative of the Queen, it was decided
that France should support him in his pretensions against the Duke of
Savoy. An army was consequently organized, which was to march on
Monferrat from three several points: one division under the Maréchal de
Lesdiguières, a second under the Duc de Guise, and the third under the
Grand Equerry M. de Bellegarde. The troops were not, however, destined
on this occasion to cross the frontier, the friends of the Duke of Savoy
having soon succeeded in convincing Marie de Medicis of the danger of
investing three great nobles with the command of an armed force of such
importance during the minority of the sovereign; while Ubaldini, the
Papal Nuncio, jealous of the presence of the French soldiery in Italy,
and apprehensive that Lesdiguières would be accompanied by a large
number of Huguenots, was equally strenuous in dissuading her from her
purpose; assuring her that the King of Spain had resolved to oppose the
Duke of Savoy, and to compel him to restore to the House of Mantua the
territories which had been wrested from it in Monferrat. The Duke of
Savoy himself, moreover, alarmed at the demonstration about to be made
by France, and conscious that he was unable to compete with such an
adversary, resolved to open a negotiation; upon which the Marquis de
Coeuvres was despatched to Italy to arrange the terms of the
treaty.[167]

While the whole of the other European Princes were occupied with the
succession in Mantua, James of England was engrossed by his anxiety to
divert the minds of his subjects from the grief which was universally
felt at the untimely death of his eldest son; and so little did he
himself feel the bereavement that he entered with apparent enjoyment
into every kind of entertainment which presented itself. The unfortunate
Prince had expired on the 6th of November; and as his demise threatened
to prevent that close alliance with France which he had so eagerly
anticipated, James caused its announcement to the Regent to be
accompanied by an offer of the hand of his other son, Charles, who had
thus become Prince of Wales, to the Princesse Christine; a proposal
which reached the French Court only three days subsequently to the
decease of Henry, and which consequently created considerable
surprise.[168] Marie de Medicis, however, felt no inclination to quarrel
with this indecent haste, as she trusted that by giving her daughter to
the son of a Protestant sovereign, she should conciliate the Huguenots,
whom she had greatly alienated by concluding the double alliance with
Spain; but the Sovereign-Pontiff was no sooner apprised of the offer of
James, and of the gracious reception afforded to it by the Regent, than
he expressed his extreme displeasure, and refused to listen to any
arguments, declaring that no question of state policy should sanction a
contract the observance of which must prove detrimental to the interests
of the Church. Ubaldini, the Papal Nuncio at the French Court, seconded
these remonstrances with more zeal than judgment; and at length
proceeded so far as to reproach the Queen with the ill return which she
was about to make to God for the blessings He had vouchsafed to her. The
haughty spirit of Marie de Medicis could brook no more; and her reply is
worthy of record. "Monseigneur," she said with dignity, "I do nothing
more upon this occasion than several Princes of Italy have done before
me, and that too under the very eyes of the Pope. The Grand Duchess of
Tuscany, with all her devotion, did not refuse her consent when she was
formerly asked to give the hand of her daughter to the Prince of
Wales." [169]

Thus the proposal was accepted, and the heir to the British throne was
thenceforward considered as the future husband of the young Princess.

At this period the death of M. de Fervaques left a marshal's _bâton_
disposable, which, to the extreme disgust of the nobility, was bestowed
by the Regent upon Concini, who had never throughout his life been
present at the firing of a hostile shot. The ill-judged manner in which
this dignity was conferred is so characteristic that it merits mention.
Her temporary estrangement from Madame d'Ancre had been a source of
great discomfort as well as sorrow to the Queen; and her ladies, hoping
still further to disgust her with the favourite, had unwittingly
compelled her to feel her dependence upon the disgraced mistress of the
robes. To every petty requirement she was answered that it was not
within their province, and that reference must be made to the Marquise.

"I desire to have the entrance to my closet draperied by a screen of
crimson velvet edged with gold," said the Regent on one occasion to
Madame de Guercheville; "be good enough to have it done immediately."

"Your Majesty has probably overlooked the fact that such orders must be
issued by the Marquise d'Ancre," was the formal reply of the stately
lady of honour.

"Madame du Fargis," resumed the Queen, a short time afterwards, "I have
mislaid a letter--a petition--bearing the name of the Comtesse de
Touraine; I wish it to be found and answered."

"Madame," responded the beautiful Countess meekly, "the Marquise d'Ancre
has charge of all the petitions addressed to your Majesty."

Marie de Medicis turned away in silence. She had striven to believe that
she could dispense with the services of Leonora; but every day, and
almost every hour, she became more convinced of her utter helplessness
without her. Madame d'Ancre had been the playmate of her infancy, the
friend of her girlhood; she was the confidante of her most hidden
thoughts, her counsellor in difficulty, and her consoler in her moments
of trial. The ill-advised bearing of those about her sufficed to remind
her of these facts, and her resolution was forthwith formed. Concini
might still be made to feel and to suffer for his fault, but she could
not dispense with the society and support of Leonora.

The Queen retired to her private closet, and the mistress of the robes
was summoned to her presence by a page. As she entered, Marie was
startled by the change which had taken place in her appearance; her eyes
were swollen with weeping, and her cheek was even more sallow than its
wont. Whatever might be her faults, there can be no doubt that Leonora
was deeply and tenderly attached to her royal foster-sister; and that
the disgrace into which she had fallen had consequently affected her to
an intense degree. She was no longer the proud and imperious favourite
who through the Regent sought to govern France, but a weak and sorrowing
woman, mourning over the ruin of all her hopes.

The apartment to which the Queen-mother had so unexpectedly summoned her
foster-sister was, as we have said, her private closet, in which she
passed several hours each day while residing at the Louvre. The walls
were covered to the height of ten feet from the floor by magnificent
hangings of crimson damask, surmounted by a dome of pale blue silk,
upon which were elaborately embroidered the arms of the Medici. From the
centre of this dome hung a silver lamp, chiselled by the hand of
Benvenuto Cellini, and suspended by a chain of the same metal; a table
of carved oak stood in the centre of the room, upon which were placed a
pair of globes, sundry astronomical instruments, an illuminated missal,
and a flask of Hungary water; while a low divan, heaped with cushions of
black velvet sprinkled with _fleurs-de-lis_ in gold, occupied two entire
sides of the apartment, and completed its furniture.

"Approach, Leonora," said the Queen. "Here, place yourself on this
cushion at my feet, and wipe the tears from your eyes. Even if we part,
we may do so without bitterness."

"Ha, Madame!" exclaimed the Florentine, "should such a feeling indeed
exist it can be only in the bosom of your Majesty, for no true subject
can do otherwise than love and venerate her sovereign."

"Would that it were so," said Marie; "but that is a delusion under which
I have long ceased to labour; for too often where I have sought to
excite affection I have only engendered hatred."

"I know not if your Majesty would address that reproach to me," said
Madame d'Ancre, raising her drooping head with the sudden energy of
honest pride; "but should it really be so, I can summon the past to
vindicate my good faith. I can call upon the Queen-Regent of France
herself to do me justice; I can invoke the two years of that regency,
so full of trial, of struggle, and of calamity, during which I have at
times perilled my head to ensure alike the tranquillity and the triumph
of my august mistress; I can quote the several cabals which I have
helped to crush; and, above all, I can prove the fidelity and submission
with which I have constantly obeyed the behests of my sovereign lady.
All this is, however, worse than idle; the servant only sins the more in
every attempt at self-justification. Monarchs are accustomed from their
cradles to punish upon suspicion, however strong may be the evidences of
the past. Gratitude, as the term is understood between man and man,
never drapes itself in purple; perfect confidence cannot steady its foot
upon the steps of a throne, for the royal canopy is a heaven of impunity
for those whom it overshadows. Yet think not, Madame," she continued, in
a more subdued voice, as she clasped her thin fingers together so
forcibly that they became ashy white beneath the pressure--"think not, I
beseech you, that I say this of myself. I have no such presumption. I
have not forgotten what I was, in feeling what I am. I yet remember,
deeply, thankfully, that I was poor, obscure, and insignificant, and
that it was your royal hand which raised me to rank and honour; and thus
it is with the most fervent gratitude that I now thank you for your past
bounties; and with the utmost humility that I prepare to take my leave
of you for ever."

Marie did not reply; the outburst of outraged feeling in which the
Marquise had indulged was so unexpected and so bold that she remained
speechless, and the tears which had risen to her eyes on the entrance of
her foster-sister congealed upon their lids. Leonora awaited for an
instant some token of relenting in her royal mistress, but as the
threatening silence continued, she became alarmed, and casting herself
upon her knees, she gasped out falteringly, "I am at your feet, Madame;
I kneel before you, wretched and repentant; I am here to bid you
farewell--a life-long farewell. Pardon, and forget me."

The heart of Marie was moved; and as her favourite knelt before her she
pressed her to her bosom, and bade her be of good cheer, for that all
was forgiven. Leonora, unprepared for such an admission, wept
abundantly; and it was long ere she could recover her composure, while
the Queen on her side was scarcely less distressed.

"I cannot part from you, _mia cara, mia dolce_" pursued Marie
passionately; "you are my good angel, the friend and sister of my happy
years--for we were happy then, _Leonora mia_, before a crown and a court
came between us. You have said truly that you have been my guardian
spirit, and we do not part with our best security in the hour of peril.
No, Leonora, no; I will listen no more to the evil accusations of those
who would fain separate us. You shall not quit the Louvre."

Madame d'Ancre pressed her hand forcibly upon her heart as if to control
its tumultuous throbbings; and then, fixing her large dark eyes
earnestly upon those of her royal mistress, she said in a low deep
accent of earnest emotion, "And thus you love me still--you, the proud
daughter of the Medici, the wife and the mother of kings--you love me
still, and I have not lived in vain! Did you hear those words,
Countess?" she asked, suddenly springing to her feet, and addressing
Madame du Fargis, who was standing in the recess of one of the tall
windows, with the tears falling fast over her fair cheeks; "the Regent
will not suffer me to leave France--the Regent will not allow me to
wither away my life an alien from her presence. Now I am once more calm
and strong--calm in the security of my happiness, strong in the
consciousness of my honesty. Let them accuse me now, I defy their
malice, for my royal mistress believes in me, and loves me."

"Compose yourself, Leonora," said the Queen-mother affectionately; "your
feeble frame is unequal to these bursts of passion. Come hither, child,
and pillow your aching head upon my knees, as you were wont to do long,
long ago, when we sang together the beloved songs of our fair Florence,
or indulged in day-dreams which were never destined to be realized. Let
Madame de Conti beware in her turn: higher heads than hers have been
brought low; and from this day I will teach a bitter lesson to her and
to her kinsmen. I have borne much, but I am still a Medicis; I can be as
firm as Catherine, although I shall endeavour to act with greater
justice, and to be in all things worthy of the name I bear."

"Ha, Madame!" exclaimed the favourite, "you have already proved that
however others may endeavour to forget that you are the widow of Henry
the Great the fact is ever present to yourself." And as she spoke,
Leonora buried her face in the lap of her royal foster-sister, while her
long black hair, which had become unfastened by the energy of her
movements, fell to the floor and covered her like a pall.

Little did either the Queen or the Marquise at that moment anticipate
how soon a deeper and a denser pall would replace those luxuriant and
gleaming tresses! Happy was it for both that no prophetic glance into
the future darkened the joy of that bright hour of reconciliation!

Meanwhile the Princesse de Conti, who dreaded the effect of this same
reconciliation upon herself and her family, privately despatched a
messenger to the Prince de Condé to inform him that Madame d'Ancre was
at that very time closeted with the Regent, and that he must forthwith
devise some method of terminating so dangerous a conference. M. de Condé
was for a moment aghast; and on reflection could adopt no better
expedient than that of prevailing upon M. de Brèves, the governor of the
Duc d'Orléans, to suggest to the young Prince that he should proceed to
the apartments of his royal mother, in order to pay his respects to her
Majesty. Monsieur obeyed; and Leonora was still seated on a cushion at
the feet of her foster-sister, with her pale face pillowed upon her
knees, when Madame de Conti threw open the door of the royal closet, and
announced the Prince.

"Let Monseigneur await my pleasure without," exclaimed Marie angrily. "I
understand the motive of this breach of etiquette, and shall reward it
as it deserves. _Leonora cara_" she added, as the drapery again closed
over the portal, "dry your tears; I owe you some recompense for all that
you have suffered, and I will not be tardy in my requital."

At this instant some one scratched upon the door of the royal closet.

"Again!" cried the Queen indignantly. "See who waits, Madame du Fargis."

The Countess proceeded to draw aside the tapestry. "Madame," she said,
as she retired a pace or two with a profound curtsey, "his Majesty
the King."

"Ha!" exclaimed the Regent, starting from her seat, and advancing
towards the young sovereign, whom she tenderly embraced, "your visit
could not have been more welcome or better-timed, my son. The death of
M. de Fervaques has created a vacancy which must be at once filled, and
I have a marshal's commission for you to sign."

The wife of Concini gazed eagerly into the face of her royal mistress.
Marie smiled. "Go, Madame," she said affectionately, "and bid the
Marquis d'Ancre hasten here upon the instant to kiss the gracious hand
from which he is about to receive a marshal's _bâton_."

Leonora knelt before the startled King, who suffered her in silence to
perform the same ceremony; and then radiant with happiness she pressed
the jewelled fingers of the Queen to her quivering lips. "And hark you,
Leonora," pursued Marie, "cause Concini to be announced by his new title
when he seeks admission here. This will at once put an end to a host of
rivalries which are now unavailing."

Madame d'Ancre hastily withdrew; but as she passed through the
apartments of the Queen she remarked that the antechamber was already
thronged with a crowd of courtiers, who had been attracted thither by
curiosity; while they, in their turn, did not fail to detect in the
flushed cheek and flashing eye of the Marquise the indications of some
new triumph. Little, however, were they prepared for its extent; and
when Concini, some minutes afterwards, appeared, with a sarcastic smile
upon his lips, and glanced a look of defiance around him, even while he
bowed right and left alike to his friends and to his enemies, every
pulse quickened with anxiety. The suspense was but momentary. The
Italian was preceded by one of the royal pages, who, as the captain of
the guard flung back the door of the cabinet in which Louis XIII was
still closeted with his mother, announced in a voice so audible that it
was heard throughout the apartment, "Monseigneur le Maréchal d'Ancre."

"Concini a Marshal of France!" exclaimed simultaneously the Ducs de
Guise, d'Epernon, and de Bellegarde, who were standing together; and
then there was a dead silence as the draperied door closed upon the
exulting favourite.

FOOTNOTES:

[158] Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. iii. pp. 23, 24. D'Estrées, _Mém_. pp. 398,
399. Bassompierre, _Mém_. p. 80. Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 40, 41.

[159] François, Comte (and subsequently Duc) de la Rochefoucauld, Master
of the Wardrobe to Louis XIII, was descended from one of the most
ancient and noble families of France. He died in 1650.

[160] Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mère et du Fils_ vol. i. pp. 204-206.
D'Estrées, _Mém_. p. 399.

[161] This lady, who had commenced her career at Court by the most
bitter enmity towards Bassompierre, was not long ere she became one of
his firmest friends; and it was even asserted that, after the death of
the Prince her husband, she privately bestowed her hand upon the
fascinating Gentleman of the Bedchamber.

[162] Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 40-42. Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 172, 173.

[163] Bassompierre, _Mém_. p. 81.

[164] Bassompierre, _Mém_. pp. 81-87. Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 174-178.
Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mère et du Fils_, vol. i. pp. 207-209. Mézeray,
vol. xi. pp. 42, 43.

[165] _Mercure Français_, 1614.

[166] Bassompierre, _Mém_. pp. 88, 89.

[167] Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 191, 192.

[168] Lingard, _Hist. of England_, vol. ix. p. 271.

[169] Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. iii. pp. 50-52.



CHAPTER VI

1614

New anxieties--Disaffection of the Princes--They demand a Reformation in
the Government--Cunning of the Duc de Bouillon--Imprisonment of M. de
Vendôme--He escapes--The Regent suspects the sincerity of
Bouillon--Conspiracy of the Ducs de Vendôme and de Retz--The Duc de
Nevers seizes Mézières--Recall of M. d'Epernon--Marie de Medicis
resolves to resign the Regency, but is dissuaded by her
Council--Treasonable reports--Precarious position of the Queen--Levy of
troops--Manifesto of the Prince de Condé--Reply of the Regent--Death of
the Connétable--Duc de Montmorency--Bassompierre is appointed
Colonel-General of the Swiss Guards--The march against M. de
Condé--Marie endeavours to temporize--The price of loyalty--The Prince
de Condé leaves Paris--Christening of the Duc d'Anjou and the Princesse
Henriette Marie--A temporary calm--The Ducs de Vendôme and de Retz
excite the Burgundians to revolt--The Protestants refuse to join their
faction--They are compelled to lay down their arms--The Prince de Condé
marches upon Poitiers--The Church "military"--The prelate and the
populace--A governor superseded--The Prince is compelled to withdraw to
Châtellerault--He burns down the episcopal palace--The Court proceed to
Poitou--Their reception--The Duc de Vendôme makes his submission--The
States assemble at Nantes--Enormities perpetrated by the troops of M. de
Vendôme--Folly of that Prince--Death of the Prince de Conti--A
bachelor-Benedict--A _nom de guerre_--Majority of Louis XIII--The Bed of
Justice--The assembly of the States-General is deferred--The King
solicits his mother to retain her authority in the Government--Meeting
of the States--The early years of Louis XIII--Charles Albert de
Luynes--His antecedents--His ambition--His favour with the young
King--He is made Governor of Amboise.

The commencement of the year 1614 was productive of new anxieties to the
Queen-Regent. The Maréchal de Bouillon, whose restless ambition was ever
prompting him to some new enterprise, had warily, but not the less
surely, possessed himself of the confidence of the Princes and the other
dis-affected nobles, and had succeeded in aggravating their feelings
against the Court party to such an extent that he experienced little
difficulty in inducing them to abandon the capital and to retire to
their several governments. M. de Condé had never forgiven the refusal of
Marie to bestow upon him the command of the citadel of Château
Trompette, or the recall of the ministers; and he also deeply resented
the desertion of the Maréchal d'Ancre from his interests, as well as the
wealth and honours to which he had attained; while the Ducs de Nevers,
de Mayenne, de Vendôme, de Longueville, and de Piney-Luxembourg,
together with a host of others, considered themselves aggrieved by their
exclusion from power, and were consequently ready to espouse his cause.
Thus Bouillon found it easy to induce them to retire simultaneously from
the Court; and it was agreed that they should assemble in Champagne, and
collectively demand a reform in the Government.

Accordingly the Prince de Condé took his leave of their Majesties on the
6th of January, and retired for a time to Châteauroux, whence he
afterwards proceeded to Mézières. This example was shortly followed by
the other chiefs of his faction. The Duc de Nevers retired at once to
Champagne, the Duc de Mayenne to the Isle of France, and M. de
Longueville to Picardy. In February the Duc de Vendôme prepared in his
turn to join his friends; but as their purpose had by this time become
apparent to the Regent, she caused him to be confined in an apartment of
the Louvre; whence, however, he succeeded a short time afterwards in
escaping by a door that had long been unused, and which being covered by
the tapestried hanging of the chamber had been at length forgotten.

The Maréchal de Bouillon, however, upon whom the cabal mainly relied, as
his sovereignty of Sedan gave them the assurance of a secure retreat
should they be menaced with reprisals, made no haste to imitate his
dupes. He had been far too crafty to compromise himself beyond
redemption with a party which might ultimately fail; and he had
consequently calculated with great care the probable chances of
furthering his own fortunes. After the departure of the Princes he
formed his decision; and his first act was to wait upon the ministers,
and to reveal to them the intentions of M. de Condé and his adherents; a
communication which excited more annoyance than surprise in those to
whom it was addressed. He then proceeded to the Louvre, where he
repeated to the Regent what he had previously declared to her ministers;
and although he tempered his information with assurances of the respect
and attachment of the self-exiled Princes towards her person, Marie
considered the mere fact of such a coalition so dangerous, that even
when Bouillon volunteered to exert all his influence to induce them to
abandon their design, and to return to the capital, although she
accepted his offer, and permitted him to follow them ostensibly for that
purpose, she was far from feeling reassured; and she soon had reason to
discover that her fears were only too well--grounded; as the Duke, after
an elaborate leave-taking at the palace, publicly declared that he was
about to proceed to Sedan in order to avoid arrest.

This fact, coupled with the escape of M. de Vendôme, who lost no time in
reaching Brittany, where he was joined by the Duc de Retz[170] with an
armed force, and took the town of Lamballe, sufficed to convince Marie
that no faith must be placed in the professions of Bouillon; and she
accordingly forwarded orders to all the governors of the royal
fortresses to forbid the entrance of the Duc de Vendôme within their
walls, and commanded the Parliament to issue an edict for the
suppression of levies of troops throughout Provence. This done, she next
despatched the Duc de Ventadour to Châteauroux with letters of recall to
M. de Condé; but before his arrival the Prince had left that city for
Mézières; and as the letters, which were forwarded to him, remained
unanswered, the royal envoy was compelled to return to the capital
without accomplishing his mission.

The next intelligence which reached the capital was the seizure of the
citadel of Mézières by the Duc de Nevers; and as matters daily assumed
a more serious aspect, the Queen resolved to recall M. d'Epernon from
Metz, whither he had withdrawn a few months previously, and to
conciliate him by reviving in the person of his son M. de Candale the
nominal office of First Lord of the Bedchamber, which he had himself
held under Henri III; while, at the same time, she held out to the Duc
de Guise the prospect of commanding the armies of the King, should it be
found expedient to march against the Prince de Condé.

These precautions were, however, far from sufficient to tranquillize the
mind of Marie de Medicis, who began to apprehend a renewal of the
intestine calamities which had overwhelmed the nation during the
preceding reigns; and satisfied that despite all her efforts at
conciliation she was personally obnoxious to the Princes, she expressed
her determination to resign the regency. Nor did either Concini or his
wife, although their own fortunes were involved in her retirement,
venture to dissuade her from her purpose, the threats of the disaffected
nobles against themselves having convinced them that they had little
mercy to expect at their hands should they still further urge the Queen
to aggressive measures. From this hasty resolution Marie was, however,
with some difficulty, dissuaded by her Council, who represented to her
the dangerous position in which she could not fail to place the young
King; who, utterly unaccustomed to public business, must prove
incompetent to maintain his interests at so perilous a crisis as that
which now excited her own fears.

The Regent readily admitted the validity of this argument; but in
support of her purpose she informed them that she had just been apprised
of a rumour which had spread in Brittany since the Duc de Vendôme had
retired from the Court, by which she was accused of having attempted to
poison the King in order to lengthen her own period of power; and with
pardonable indignation she declared that she possessed no other means of
refuting so horrible a calumny than that which she had adopted, and that
she consequently owed this justice to herself. As she was, however,
still entreated to sacrifice her own feelings to the safety of the
sovereign and the welfare of the kingdom, she at length yielded; but
that she made the concession with reluctance was sufficiently evident.

"As regards the horrible crime imputed to me, Messieurs," she said, "I
can only swear that I would rather suffer death than continue to live on
under such an accusation. I am well aware, moreover, that this is not
the only calumny which has been circulated against my person and
reputation; nor is it the first time that the Maréchal d'Ancre has been
designated as the instigator of my unpopular measures; every new cabal
inventing some fallacy to undermine my authority and to throw discredit
upon my government. Since, however, you give it as your opinion that I
shall better serve the King by retaining the regency until he shall be
of fitting age to act upon his own responsibility, I will continue to
exercise the power delegated to me by my late lord and husband; and to
maintain that good understanding with my son which has ever hitherto
existed between us."

The question was then discussed of whether it were more desirable to
levy such troops as still remained faithful to the Crown, and at once
endeavour to reduce the faction of the Princes by force, or to attempt a
reconciliation by pacific means. The Cardinal de Joyeuse, Villeroy, and
Jeannin were urgent that the former measure should be adopted; assigning
as their reason that after the tergiversation and deceit of which the
cabal had been convicted, they would profit by any delay on the part of
the Government to strengthen their army, and to effect other means of
defence, thus augmenting the difficulty of their suppression; the
Chancellor was, however, of a different opinion, and counselled the
Queen to avert, so long as it might be possible to do so, the horrors of
a civil war. He represented to her the fact that all the principal
nobles, with scarcely one exception, had leagued themselves with M. de
Condé, while she had on her side only the Ducs de Guise and d'Epernon,
who were, moreover, at variance; each coveting the dignity of
Connétable, and scarcely seeking to disguise his jealousy of the other;
and finally, he pointed out to her the dangerous attitude assumed by the
Huguenots, who would not fail to take advantage of any civil dissension
to advance their pretensions, which could only be done successfully
during the minority of the sovereign.

Between these conflicting opinions Marie at length resolved to steer a
middle course; and she consequently declared her intention of attempting
by negotiation to reconcile the Princes, while at the same time she made
a levy of six thousand Swiss troops.[171] She, moreover, by the advice
of her Council, addressed a circular-letter to all the Parliaments of
the kingdom, governors of provinces and fortresses, and mayors of towns,
exhorting them to remain faithful to the Crown, and not to suffer
themselves to be seduced by the Prince de Condé and his partisans; and
terminating by the declaration that her Majesty had determined to
convoke the States, in order to consult upon the measures necessary for
ensuring the welfare and prosperity of the nation.

Meanwhile M. de Condé had assembled the leaders of his party at
Mézières, whence he forwarded a species of manifesto to the
Queen-Regent, in which he complained in the name of his faction of "the
waste of the public money; of the unworthiness of the individuals in
power; of the undue authority assumed by the ministers; of the want of
respect displayed towards the Princes of the Blood, the peers, and the
officers of the Crown; of the obstacles endured by the Parliaments in
the exercise of their jurisdiction; of the ruin of the great nobles;
the excessive charges of the law courts; the oppression suffered by the
people; the neglect exhibited in assembling the States-General; and the
precipitation shown in concluding the marriage of the sovereign before
he had attained his majority." Other objections followed, and then
succeeded the conditions upon which the cabal declared themselves
willing to return to their allegiance. The States-General were to be
convened within three months; the royal marriages were to be deferred
until the close of the Assembly; and the then-existing household of his
Majesty was to be replaced by individuals of acknowledged probity.

The Prince at the same time wrote to the two Parliaments, to the Prince
de Conti, to the dukes and peers, and to the great officers of the
Crown, soliciting their assistance in the work of reform which he was
about to undertake. Neither of the Parliaments, however, replied to his
letter; and that addressed to Paris was placed unopened in the hands of
the Regent, who forthwith forwarded it to the Chancellor.

The answer of Marie de Medicis to the manifesto addressed to herself was
calm and dignified. She declared her willingness to assemble the
States-General; but accompanied this concession by expressing her regret
that the Prince should not, during the last four years, have personally
made the representation, and assisted her in averting the evils of which
he now complained, instead of absenting himself from the Court on the
pretext of disapproving the proposed alliance with Spain, to which he
had previously affixed his consent and signature. To each of his other
objections he received an equally categorical reply; and the document
terminated by an expression of her conviction that his offer to effect a
reform in the state by pacific means rather than have recourse to force
was desirable indeed, but little to be anticipated, since the formation
of a cabal like that of which he had constituted himself the leader, and
which was opposed to the legitimate authority of the sovereign, could
only terminate in intestine broils, and compel the King to adopt the
most violent measures in order to suppress it.

Precisely at this period intelligence reached the Court of the death of
the veteran Connétable de Montmorency, one of the most gallant soldiers
of his day, whose judgment and strong sense had long been proverbial,
although he was utterly without education, and could scarcely sign
his own name.

While the negotiation with Condé was still pending, a new anxiety added
to the embarrassment of the Regent. The Swiss levies were about to be
raised; but suspicions of the loyalty of the Duc de Rohan, who was
colonel-general of this force, rendered her unwilling to confide so
important a body of troops to his control; and she ultimately resolved
to offer him a sum of money, and to induce him to resign his
appointment. M. de Rohan readily acceded to the proposal, his position
at that moment rendering him indifferent to its possession; and the
Queen next sought to find an individual whose popularity with the
Switzers, and devotion to her own interests, might render him an
eligible successor to the displaced Duke. After considerable reflection
she selected Bassompierre; but the suggestion was at once negatived by
M. de Villeroy, who reminded her Majesty that the office was one which
had never been filled by any person under the rank of a prince. So
brilliant a prospect, however, gave the favoured courtier courage to
plead his cause so successfully with his royal mistress, that she was at
length induced to consent that, if he were enabled to persuade the Swiss
themselves to solicit his appointment, the difficulty should be
overcome. Fortunately for the aspirant the officer to whom the levies
were entrusted was his personal friend, and so zealously did he advocate
his cause that the Thirteen Cantons united in consenting to receive him
as their leader; and Bassompierre, although only a petty noble of
Lorraine, found himself invested with a command which was coveted by all
the proudest subjects of France.

Two days subsequently the Court were informed that the Prince de Condé
and the Duc de Nevers had taken Mézières and Sainte-Menehould, upon
which the newly-raised troops received orders to join M. de Praslin,
who, with the remainder of the army, was concentrating his forces at
Vitry. Their arrival so alarmed the insurgent party that they resolved
to evacuate the latter city, and demanded that even should the troops
remain in their vicinity, Bassompierre himself, who, from the share that
he had taken in the affair throughout, was peculiarly obnoxious to them,
should be recalled. The Duc de Ventadour and the President Jeannin,
through whom M. de Condé and his party carried on their negotiation with
the King, accordingly wrote to the young commander to apprise him that
the Regent required his services in the capital, for reasons which she
would explain on his arrival; and, greatly to his mortification,
Bassompierre found himself compelled to retrace his steps.[172]

Once more Marie de Medicis resolved to afford to the adverse faction the
opportunity of terminating their ill-advised struggle without bloodshed;
and she accordingly despatched a trustworthy messenger to M. de Condé,
volunteering to send deputies who should be authorized to effect a
reconciliation. The offer was accepted, the malcontents having become
paralyzed by the unexpected energy of their opponents; and after sundry
meetings between the agents of the Government and the chiefs of the
cabal, in which each made particular conditions for himself which were
veiled by three demands of a more public nature, a treaty of peace was
drawn up and signed by both parties, and amity was once more restored.
Situated as they were, the Princes had been careful not to insist on
more than they were aware would be readily conceded; and thus they asked
only that the States-General should be convoked with as little delay as
possible, that the double alliance with Spain should be delayed until
the termination of the King's minority, and that the royal troops should
be immediately disarmed.

To this last requisition the reply of the commissioners of the Crown was
positive; the rebel faction were in the first place to lay down their
own arms after which they pledged themselves that their example should
be followed by the troops of the sovereign; and to this arrangement M.
de Condé, after some hesitation, agreed.

Thus far all had progressed favourably; but the subsequent exactions of
the disaffected party caused considerable anxiety in the Council of the
Regent. The exorbitant pretensions of its leaders alarmed the ministers,
but the crisis was sufficiently critical to induce them ultimately to
satisfy the demands of their dearly-purchased allies. The Prince de
Condé was invested with the government of Amboise, and received four
hundred and fifty thousand livres in ready money. The Duc de Mayenne
three hundred thousand, and the survivorship of the government of Paris;
and all the other chiefs of the cabal the sums or governments that they
had seen fit to exact; after which they ceased to insist upon the public
grievances, and the Ducs de Longueville and de Mayenne returned to
Court; an example which was followed by the Prince de Condé as soon as
he had taken possession of his new government. The coldness with which
he was received, however, and the little desire evinced to pay him that
deference which he was ever anxious to exact, soon disgusted him with
the capital, and he once more withdrew, little less disaffected
than before.

On the 5th of June the Duc d'Anjou and the younger Princess were
baptized at the Louvre with great ceremony, by the Cardinal de Bonzy,
the almoner of the Queen. The sponsors of the Prince, who received the
names of Gaston Jean Baptiste, were the ex-Queen Marguerite and the
Cardinal de Joyeuse; while those given to his sister, who was held at
the font by Madame and the Cardinal de la Rochefoucauld, were Henriette
Marie; this being the Princess who subsequently became the wife of the
unhappy Charles I. of England.

The completion of the treaty with the Princes had restored the nation to
apparent tranquillity, and the government of the Regent bore a semblance
of stability to which it had not previously attained, when new troubles
broke out through the restlessness and jealousy of César de Vendôme;
who, having merely been reinstated in his government and other
dignities, considered himself to have been ill-treated by the Prince de
Condé, to whose care he had confided his interests, and who consequently
resolved to enforce more ample justice for himself. With a view of
effecting his purpose, he induced the Duc de Retz, who was equally
dissatisfied, to follow his example, and Brittany soon became ripe for
revolt. As, however, Vendôme did not fail to perceive that without
extending his faction he could not hope to make head successfully
against the Court, he next endeavoured to engage M. de Rohan and the
Protestants in his interest, believing the Duke to be much more powerful
with the reformed party than he really was; and Rohan so far yielded as
to attempt a convocation of the General Assembly in Gascony; but the
prudence of Du Plessis-Mornay, who represented to the Huguenots the
impolicy of embroiling themselves with the Government in order to
gratify the ambition of an individual, decided them to refuse all
participation in a political movement of that nature.

Repulsed but not discouraged, Vendôme still persevered, and as his
intrigues tended to unsettle the minds of the people, and to harass the
Regent, she resolved to despatch the Marquis de Coeuvres, then recently
returned from his embassy in Italy, to expostulate with him, and
endeavour to recall him to reason. This mission was peculiarly
distasteful to the Marquis, who, being nearly connected with M. de
Vendôme through his mother (Gabrielle d'Estrées), was fearful, should he
fail to effect his purpose, that he must offend one or the other party;
but as the commands of the Queen-mother were stringent, he was compelled
to obey. His task proved an arduous one, the two Dukes warmly asserting
their right to share in the benefits which M. de Condé had secured for
himself and his immediate friends, and declaring their intention to
obtain by force what they had been denied by the ingratitude of the
Crown: nor was it until the envoy had been a second time instructed to
assure them that should they persist in their disloyalty the King was
prepared to march an army against them, that they were at length induced
to sign a treaty which had been drawn up for that purpose, and to lay
down their arms.

This desirable result had scarcely been accomplished when the Prince de
Condé, disappointed by his government of Amboise (which he soon
discovered to be of much less importance than he had imagined when he
insisted upon its possession), resolved to make himself master of the
city of Poitiers, where he had secured many and active allies, among
whom the most considerable was the Due de Roannois, the governor; while
in addition to this advantage he had also received from the Marquis de
Bonnivet a promise that he would furnish a body of troops to assist him
in his enterprise. The city was about to elect a mayor, and the friends
of Condé had exerted themselves to the utmost to cause the choice of the
citizens to fall upon an individual of their own party, but their design
was penetrated by the Bishop,[173] who hastened to apprise the Regent of
the cabal which had once more been commenced against her authority.

The communication of the prelate renewed all the apprehensions of Marie,
who, after expressing her acknowledgments for his zeal, commanded him to
adopt every means in his power to contravene the endeavours of the
Prince and his adherents; and so ably did he fulfil her directions that
he succeeded in winning over to the royal cause the greater number of
the inhabitants; which he had no sooner accomplished than he caused the
guards to be doubled, and thus rendered himself more powerful in the
city than M. de Roannois himself. This fact soon became apparent to
Condé, but he still trusted to the support of his friends, and
accordingly presented himself at the gates with a small retinue,
believing that the citizens would obey their governor, and refuse to
oppose his entrance. The Bishop had, however, by the promptitude of his
measures, effectually defeated the hopes of the Prince. He had loudly
proclaimed in the streets that there was a conspiracy on foot for
delivering up the city to the enemies of the King; and this announcement
had at once sufficed to arouse all the energy of the inhabitants. In a
short time the gates were closed, chains were stretched across the
thoroughfares, and numerous barricades were erected. The prelate,
gratified by these fearless evidences of his influence, became to the
full as excited as his adherents, and arming himself with a pike, he
placed himself at the head of the people, urging them to resist to the
utmost the dishonour by which they were threatened; while the Governor,
who was then inhabiting a suburban residence, no sooner became apprised
of the belligerent demonstrations of the Bishop, and the effects which
they had produced, than he galloped to the gates with the intention of
opposing his authority to that of his clerical antagonist. At his
command the gates were opened, and directing the immediate demolition of
the barricades, he proceeded to the episcopal palace; not, however,
without being subjected to the abuse of the irritated populace. The
Bishop, whose policy was not inferior to his courage, offered him an
asylum until the fury of the crowd should be appeased; and M. de
Roannois, alarmed by the rough reception he had already encountered, at
once accepted the offer, and thus became the prisoner of the prelate;
who, producing the letter of the Regent, issued the orders necessary to
ensure the safety of the city. Nor was this all; for with a sword by his
side, the Bishop personally posted the sentinels at nightfall, and
distributed money from his own private purse to the non-military
combatants who had formed themselves into a militia.

Enraged by his disappointment, M. de Condé, after vainly attempting to
obtain a hearing from the excited citizens, found himself compelled to
retire with his companions, having on his way burnt down the country
palace of the bishops of Poitiers; and he had no sooner reached that
city than he wrote to the Regent to complain of the insult to which he
had been subjected by the inhabitants of Poitiers, and to demand
justice. The sympathies of the Court were, however, with the adverse
party; but Marie de Medicis was so well aware of the consequences to be
apprehended from Condé's irritation that she resolved to proceed to
Poitou and Brittany in person, on the pretext of the weak health of the
King, by whom she was to be accompanied. She accordingly caused a
rumour to be spread that Louis had displayed symptoms of disease which
rendered it probable that he could not long survive; and having done
this, the troops were warned to hold themselves in readiness to leave
the capital with his Majesty. Meanwhile the Due de Mayenne was
despatched to M. de Condé to assure him on the part of the Regent that
every respect should be paid to his representations, and at the same
time letters of abolition were sent to all his adherents; although he
was requested to retire from Poitou during the sojourn of their
Majesties. To this demand Condé at first demurred; but finding that he
could not succeed in securing the assistance of the reformed party, he
at length consented to withdraw; and not venturing to return to Amboise,
he took up his temporary residence at Châteauroux in Berry.

The retreat of the Prince was a great triumph for the warlike Bishop,
who lost no time in proceeding to Tours (where the Court had already
arrived), at the head of two hundred of his supporters, to entreat of
their Majesties to proceed at once to Poitiers, in order to restore
public confidence. His reception by the Regent was gracious in
the extreme, nor did the young sovereign fail to express to the
exulting prelate his own sense of obligation. At Poitiers the Court
was met by the most enthusiastic acclamations: their Majesties
honoured the election of the new mayor with their presence; and the
lieutenant-generalship of the province was bestowed upon the Comte de
la Rochefoucauld, an adherent of the Due de Guise.

From Poitiers the Court proceeded to Angers, on its way to Brittany;
where, however, the Due de Vendôme did not wait its arrival to make his
submission. The inertness of the Government upon previous occasions not
having prepared him for the energy now exhibited by the sovereign, his
alarm was correspondingly increased; and he hastened to meet their
Majesties accompanied by all the nobility of the province. On
approaching the King he laid his sword at his feet; and, as he knelt
beside it, entreated his forgiveness of his past errors, and expressed
his determination thenceforward to give him no further subject of
complaint; upon which Louis commanded him to rise, and granted him a
free pardon, which was ratified by the Regent. Letters patent were
despatched by which he was reinstated in his government, and made
irresponsible for all the excesses committed by his troops; and once
more the son of Gabrielle d'Estrées was restored to the favour, if not
to the confidence, of his sovereigns.

The assembly of the States then took place at Nantes, presided over by
the Duc de Rohan; and during its meetings the King was apprised by its
members of the enormities of which the followers of Vendôme had been
guilty throughout the province, and respectfully solicited to exclude
from the letters of abolition the authors of the frightful crimes of
which the people had been made the victims. Among those of which they
complained were the ransom of wives by their husbands, of daughters and
young children by their parents, and of fields of grain by their owners.
They, moreover, demanded justice for still greater enormities; and
revealed to the Council the appalling fact that wealthy individuals had
been subjected to torture, and in many instances even put to death, in
order to obtain possession of their money; while others had been
compelled to pay a heavy sum to save their dwellings and their property
from the brand of the incendiary.

These frightful revelations excited the horror and indignation of Marie
and her Council; and, in reply to their requisition, the complainants
were assured that, although the King and his Government had preferred to
pardon the injuries which they had personally sustained from the faction
of M. de Vendôme, rather than visit them with the vengeance that they
had legally merited, neither the sovereign nor those who held office
under him could permit crimes like those detailed in their remonstrance
to be exercised with impunity upon the people, and those crimes would
consequently be punished with the most extreme rigour.

The first independent act of the Duc de Vendôme had thus greatly injured
him in the estimation of the young monarch and his mother; nor did his
afterlife tend to give them cause to alter the opinion which they then
formed either as regarded his stability or his capacity. Even the
marriage which his father, Henri IV, had with so much difficulty
contracted for him with the heiress of the House of Mercoeur,[174]
failed to produce the result that had been anticipated, as he squandered
her wealth, without increasing his own political importance.[175]

On her triumphant return to the capital Marie de Medicis was apprised of
the death of the Prince de Conti, which had taken place on the 13th of
August; but the void was little felt, the infirmities under which he
laboured, and the weakness of his intellect, having, despite his exalted
rank, rendered him a mere cipher at the Court. By the nation his loss
was totally unfelt; while this indifference was shared by his wife,
whose violent passion for Bassompierre had long been notorious, and who
shortly afterwards privately gave him her hand. Mademoiselle
d'Entragues, the sister of the Marquise de Verneuil, to whom he had
previously been betrothed, and who had made him the father of a
son,[176] had in vain endeavoured in the law courts to compel him to
fulfil his contract, and persisted in bearing his name; a fact which was
so well known as to induce many persons to believe that she was in
reality his wife. On one occasion, when he was in attendance upon the
Queen, the royal carriage was detained for a moment by the crowd near
that of Mademoiselle d'Entragues, whom Marie immediately recognized.
"See," she said with a malicious smile, as she pointed towards the lady
with her fan, "there is Madame de Bassompierre."

"That is merely a _nom de guerre_, Madame," was the ready reply, uttered
in a tone sufficiently loud to reach the ears of the person named, who
angrily exclaimed:

"You are a fool, Bassompierre!"

"If I be not," was the quiet rejoinder of the ungallant Lothario, "it
has at least, Madame, not been your fault." [177]

Thus, after his union with the Princesse de Conti, Bassompierre,
although claimed as a husband by two celebrated women, the one of a
family notorious for the profligacy of its members, and the other a
daughter of the proud house of Guise and, moreover, the widow of a
Prince of the Blood, still continued to assume the privileges of a
bachelor; resolutely disowning the one, while the other did not dare
publicly to declare her marriage.[178]

A fortnight after the return of the Court to Paris it was followed by
the Prince de Condé, who had been summoned to attend the sovereign to
Parliament on the termination of his minority, which ended when he
entered his thirteenth year. On the 1st of October, the day preceding
that on which the ceremony of his recognition as actual monarch of
France was to take place, Louis XIII issued a declaration confirmatory
of the edict of pacification previously published, and renewing his
prohibition against duelling and blasphemy. On the following morning the
King ascended his Bed of Justice; and both the procession and the
meeting were conducted with the greatest pomp. He was attended by the
Queen-mother, Monsieur, and the Princes de Condé and de Soissons, the
Ducs de Guise, d'Elboeuf, d'Epernon, de Ventadour, and de Montbazon, and
upwards of eight hundred mounted nobles, all attired in the most
sumptuous manner. On his arrival at the palace the King was received by
two presidents and four councillors, by whom he was conducted to the
great hall; and after all the persons present had taken their places,
his Majesty briefly declared the purpose for which he had convened the
meeting. Marie de Medicis then in her turn addressed the Assembly,
declaring that she had resigned the administration of public affairs
into the hands of the sovereign, who had some days previously attained
his majority; and when she had ceased speaking Louis expressed his
acknowledgments for the valuable services which she had rendered to the
kingdom, his resolution still to be guided by her advice, and entreated
her not to withhold from him her important assistance in the Government.
The Chancellor, the First President,[179] and the Advocate-General[180]
each delivered a harangue; after which the Chancellor pronounced the
decree which declared the majority of the sovereign; and the declaration
that he had forwarded to the Council on the previous day was duly
registered. This act terminated the ceremony, and Louis XIII returned to
the Louvre accompanied and attended as he had reached the Parliament,
amid the acclamations of the populace.

The assembly of the States-General at Sens had been fixed for the 10th
of September, and would consequently have been held before the King had
attained his majority, had not this arrangement been traversed by the
Regent, who apprehended that they would seize so favourable an
opportunity of thwarting all her views; and would not only demand the
dismissal of the ministers and the Maréchal d'Ancre, but also, which was
still more important, dissuade the sovereign, whose minority would
terminate during their sitting, from permitting her to retain any share
in the Government. The Prince de Condé and his partisans, whose
interests undoubtedly demanded such a result, had, however, themselves
been instrumental in the delay so earnestly desired by Marie; the
hostile demonstrations of Vendôme in Brittany, and the ill-judged
movements of Condé himself in Poitou, having furnished her with a
plausible pretext for deferring the opening of the States until the King
could preside over them in person; when the public declaration made
before the Parliament by the young sovereign of his intention still to
be guided by the counsels of his mother at once freed her from all her
apprehensions; and she accordingly lost no time in transferring the
Assembly from Sens to Paris, and proroguing it till the 10th of October.

Nevertheless much was to be feared should the clergy, the nobility, and
the people act unanimously; and in order to prevent such a coalition,
neither Marie de Medicis nor her ministers spared any exertion. As much
depended upon the presidents whom they might select, the first care of
the Queen-mother was to ensure the election of persons favourable to her
own interests; but as great caution was necessary with regard to the
agent to whom she could entrust so delicate a mission as that of causing
such individuals to be chosen, she hesitated for a time before she came
to a decision. Ultimately, however, she fixed upon the young Comte de
Brienne;[181] and so thoroughly did he justify her preference, that he
eventually succeeded, without any appearance of undue interposition, in
securing the election of three presidents, all of whom were favourable
to the Court party.[182]

This important point gained, the Government recovered its confidence;
and its next care was to awaken the jealousy of each order against its
coadjutors, and thus to paralyze the influence of the Assembly. In this
attempt it was perfectly successful; and the general welfare of the
country was overlooked in the anxiety of the several parties to carry
out their own individual views. The clergy demanded the publication of
the decrees of the Council of Trent, and their unrestricted admission
throughout the kingdom; the nobility asked that the privilege of the
_paulette_ should be abolished;[183] and the _tiers-état_[184]
solicited either the suppression or diminution of the pensions by which
the public treasury was involved in debt.

The speaker elected by the clergy was the Archbishop of Lyons; the
nobility chose as their spokesman the Baron du Pont Saint-Pierre,[185]
while the _tiers-état_ was presided over by M. Miron.[186] The two
first-named orators addressed the King standing and bareheaded; but this
privilege was considered too great for a body which could boast of
neither hereditary nor ecclesiastical nobility; and the able diplomatist
and rhetorician who upon that occasion pleaded before his sovereign the
rights and immunities of the class which he had been called upon to
represent, was compelled to address that sovereign upon his knees. Miron
had, previous to the meeting of the States, excited the indignation of
the more patrician orders by declaring that he regarded the three bodies
of which it was composed as one family, of which the nobility and clergy
represented the elder, and the _tiers-état_ the junior branches; while
the Queen herself, even while she felt the importance of his support,
did not hesitate to treat the deputies of his order with the greatest
arrogance and discourtesy, although they distinguished themselves by a
loyalty and devotion to the interests of the Crown which met with no
response from the haughtier members of the Assembly. Ably, indeed,
through the agency of Miron, did they persist in defending the royal
prerogative, and demand that a principle should be established
forbidding the deposition of their sovereigns on accusations of heresy;
expressing their desire that the Crown should be recognized by law as
completely independent of spiritual power; and although the clergy,
through Cardinal Duperron, formally and strenuously opposed these
propositions, so little was Miron affected by the adverse circumstances
under which he appeared, that he replied with a logic and energy which
compelled the States to defer their decision until the following
year.[187]

Louis XIII, at this period, was in so delicate a state of health as to
require constant care and attention, while his sullen and self-centred
disposition demanded no less watchfulness. His first preceptor was M.
Vauquelin des Ivetaux, a man of great talent, and quite equal to the
task of forming the mind and intellect of a Prince, but of dissolute
principles and sensual habits.[188] He, however, did not long remain
about the person of the boy-King, having been replaced a year after the
death of Henri IV by Nicolas Le Fèvre,[189] who was distinguished alike
for his learning and his piety. Unfortunately for the young Louis, this
excellent man only lived a year after his appointment, and was, in his
turn, replaced by M. de Rivault,[190] a celebrated mathematician, who
had been educated with Guy, Comte de Laval.[191] Thus, however competent
these several individuals might have been to conduct his education, it
will be at once evident that the perpetual changes of method and purpose
to which he was subjected greatly tended to impede the progress of the
illustrious pupil; and it consequently ceases to be matter of surprise
that at his majority he had by no means attained to the degree of
knowledge common to his age. Louis XIII knew little Latin; cared nothing
for literature; but although either irritable or inert when compelled to
study, could develop great energy when he was engaged in gunnery,
horsemanship, or falconry. The latter pursuit was his principal
amusement, His purity of heart and propriety of language were extreme,
and deserve the greater mention from the contrast which they afforded to
the morals and manners by which he was surrounded. He would neither
permit an oath nor an obscene expression to be uttered in his presence,
and never failed to rebuke any violation of his pleasure in this
respect. He was passionately attached to dogs, and conversed with them,
according to a contemporaneous historian, in a peculiar language;[192]
but as regarded his kingly duties he was utterly incompetent. With good
intentions, a love of justice, and a deep sense of religion, he was
vacillating and indolent; and cared little either to assert his
privileges, or to take upon himself the cares and fatigues of government
while he could transfer them to others, and thus secure time to abandon
himself to more congenial pursuits.

In this circumstance were comprised all the errors of his reign; as even
while deeply imbued with a sense of his dignity as the sovereign of a
great nation, he exhibited the feeling only in acts of petty and
obstinate opposition which tended to no result, and were productive only
of a want of attachment to his person, and of respect for his opinions,
which increased the arrogance of the great nobles, and fostered the
ambition of his ministers.

It is now time that we should introduce an individual whose subsequent
importance in the kingdom, humble as were his antecedents, was one
source of the bitter trials to which the unfortunate Marie de Medicis
was subjected during a long period of her life. The Comte de Lude had in
his service a page, who was subsequently transferred to that of the
young King; and it is the history of this apparently insignificant
person which we are now called upon to detail to the reader. Albert de
Luynes, his father, was the son of Guillaume Ségur, a canon of the
cathedral of Marseilles, and of the housekeeper of the said
ecclesiastic; and derived the name of Luynes from a small tenement upon
the bank of that river, between Aix and Marseilles, which was the
property of the canon, who preferred that his son should adopt the
appellation of his farm rather than his own. There was, however, an
elder brother, on whom the little property belonging to the priest was
exclusively bestowed, and Luynes accordingly discovered that he must
become the architect of his own fortunes. With all the fearless
confidence of youth he made his way, as he best could, to the capital,
where he enlisted as an archer of the bodyguard, displayed great
aptitude and courage, and finally obtained the governorship of
Pont-St.-Esprit. While thus prospering in the world he married, became
the father of seven children, of whom three were sons; and died without
suspecting that his name would be handed down to posterity through the
medium of one of these almost portionless boys, whose sole inheritance
was a small dairy-farm of the annual value of twelve hundred livres.

Charles de Luynes, the elder of this numerous family, became, as already
stated, the page of the Comte de Lude; and, as his brothers were totally
without resources, he induced his patron to receive them gratuitously
into his suite, in order that he might be enabled to share with them
the four hundred crowns a year which, together with his slender
patrimony, formed his own income. This favour had no sooner been
conceded than the three young men discarded the modest names of Charles,
Honoré, and Léon d'Albert, by which they had previously been known, and
assumed those of Luynes, Cadenet, and Brantès, from the field, the
vineyard, and a small sandy island beside them, which composed their
joint estate.[193] "Possessions," as Bassompierre facetiously observes,
"over which a hare leapt every day." On the miserable pittance of the
elder brother the three young adventurers, nevertheless, contrived with
considerable difficulty to exist, although it was notorious that they
had but one cloak, at that period an indispensable article of costume,
among them; a circumstance by which two were compelled to avoid
observation while the third fulfilled his duties; and so little,
moreover, were their services valued by M. de Lude that he was in the
habit of declaring that they were fit for nothing but "to catch green
jays," a reproach which they owed to their skill in training
sparrow-hawks to catch small birds; and to which he was far from
supposing when he gave it utterance that they would ultimately be
indebted for a prosperity almost fabulous.

Such, however, was fated to be the case. Charles de Luynes had not been
long at Court before he ascertained the passion of the young King for
falconry, and having carefully trained two of his miniature hawks, he
caused them to be offered in his name to his royal master. Louis was
delighted with their docility and skill, and desired that the donor
should be presented to him; when he found that the page was deeply
versed in all the mysteries of that sport to which he was himself so
much attached; and thenceforward he constantly commanded his attendance
whenever he pursued his favourite pastime in the gardens of the
Tuileries.

At this period M. de Luynes had already attained his thirtieth year;
and, with admirable self-government, he had so thoroughly controlled
himself as to disguise the salient features of his character. No one
consequently suspected either his latent ambition, or the violent
passions which he had craft enough to conceal; and thus the very
individuals who were the objects of his hatred regarded him merely as a
shallow and superficial young man, whose whole soul was in the puerile
sports to which he had addicted himself.

It was not, however, solely to take small birds that De Luynes aspired
when he thus found himself the chosen companion of the Dauphin; he had
other talents which he exerted so zealously that he ere long made
himself indispensable. Gifted with a magnificent person, insinuating
manners, and that ready tact by which an indolent nature is
unconsciously roused to excitement, he soon obtained an extraordinary
influence over his royal playmate by the power which he possessed of
overcoming his habitual apathy, and causing him to enter with zest and
enjoyment into the pleasures of his age. Henri IV, who perceived with
gratification the beneficial effect produced upon the saturnine nature
of his son, and who was, moreover, touched by the fraternal devotion of
the page, transferred him to the household of the Dauphin, and augmented
his income to twelve hundred crowns; and thenceforward he became at once
the companion, counsellor, and friend of the young Louis; and at the
desire of the Prince he was created Master of the Aviary.

Time passed on. The Dauphin succeeded to the throne of his murdered
father; the Regency tottered under the machinations of the great nobles;
faction grew out of faction; cabals and conspiracies kept the nation in
one perpetual state of anxiety and unrest; but the influence of De
Luynes continued undiminished; and neither Marie de Medicis nor her
ministers apprehended any danger from an association that was fated to
produce the most serious consequences; while the Princes were equally
disinclined to disturb the amusements in which the young monarch was so
entirely absorbed as to pay little attention to the important events
which succeeded each other around him.

As he grew older Louis became still more attached to his favourite. His
discontented spirit made him irritable under every disappointment, and
vindictive towards those by whom his wishes were opposed: he detested
alike explanation and remonstrance, and from De Luynes he never
encountered either the one or the other. Under the remonstrances of his
mother he became sullen; to the arrogant assumption of the Princes and
the Maréchal d'Ancre he opposed an apathetic silence which caused them
to believe that it was unfelt; and it was only to De Luynes that he
poured forth all his indignation, that he complained with bitterness of
the iron rule of Marie, the insolence of his nobles, and the
ostentatious profusion of the Italian: contrasting the first with his
own helplessness, the second with the insignificance to which he was
condemned, and the last with the almost penury to which he was compelled
to submit.

No Prince had ever a more attentive or a more interested auditor. The
enemies of the young Louis were also those of his favourite; for, as
before remarked, the grandson of the reverend canon of Marseilles was
alike vain and ambitious, and consequently inimical to all who occupied
the high places to which he himself aspired. Moreover, the powerlessness
and poverty of the young monarch necessarily involved those of his
follower; and thus both by inclination and by interest De Luynes was
bound to share the antipathies of his master.

Like all favourites, moreover, he soon made a host of personal
adversaries; while, as these were far from suspecting the height to
which he was ultimately destined to attain, they took little pains to
dissemble their dislike and contempt of the new minion; and thus, ere
long, De Luynes had amassed a weighty load of hatred in his heart. To
him it appeared that all the great dignitaries of the kingdom, although
born to the rank they held, were engrossing honours which, possessed as
he was of the favour of the sovereign, should have been conferred upon
himself; but the especial antipathy of the arrogant adventurer was
directed against the Queen, the Maréchal d'Ancre, and the President
Jeannin. To account for his bitter feeling towards Marie de Medicis, it
is only necessary to state that, blinded by his ambition, he had dared
to display for the haughty Princess a passion which was coldly and
disdainfully repulsed; and that he had vowed to revenge the overthrow of
his hopes.[194]

His hatred of Concini is as easily explained; it being merely the
jealousy of a rival favourite. The Italian was to the mother of the King
precisely what De Luynes was to the King himself; and as Marie possessed
more power than her son, so also was her follower more richly
recompensed. Still, however, the game was an unequal one, of which the
chances were all in his own favour; for the Maréchal was playing away
the present, while his adversary was staking upon the future. The
President Jeannin was also, as we have stated, especially distasteful to
De Luynes, as he made no secret of his dissatisfaction at the frivolous
existence of the young sovereign, and his desire that he should exchange
the boyish diversions to which he was addicted for pursuits more worthy
of his high station; while at the same time he exhibited towards the
favourite an undisguised disdain which excited all the worst passions of
its object.

Thus, insignificant as he appeared to those who were basking in favour,
and who esteemed themselves too highly to waste one thought upon the
obsequious dependent of a youthful and wayward sovereign, who suffered
himself to be guided by those about him as though reckless of the result
of their conflicting ambitions, it will be readily understood that De
Luynes was laying up a store of antipathies which required only time and
opportunity to develop themselves, and to bear the most bitter fruits;
and already did the active favourite begin to enjoy a foretaste of the
coming harvest. Ever earnest for right, Louis XIII never exhibited any
personal energy to secure it, and consequently could effect nothing of
himself; readily prejudiced, alike by his own caprices and by the
representations of others, his very anxiety to act as became a monarch
rendered him vulnerable to the intrigues of those whose interests tended
to mislead his judgment; and as De Luynes, while sharing in his
superstitious acts of overstrained devotion, or amusing his idleness by
the futilities of falconry and other even less dignified sports, did not
fail occasionally and cautiously to allude to more serious subjects, the
boy-King listened eagerly to the recitals and opinions of his chosen
friend, and finished by adopting all his views.

This fact soon became so obvious to Concini, that the wily Italian, who
dreaded lest the day might not be far distant when the son of Marie de
Medicis would shake off the yoke of her quasi-regency and assert his own
prerogative, resolved to secure the good offices of De Luynes, and for
this purpose he induced M. de Condé to restore to the King the
government of Amboise; representing to the Prince the slight importance
of such a possession to a person of his rank, and the conviction which
its voluntary surrender must impress upon the ministers of his desire to
strengthen the royal cause. Let it not be supposed, however, that, at
the period of which we write, such a surrender could for a moment be
effected gratuitously; and thus, when the first Prince of the Blood was
at length induced to yield to the representations of his insidious
adviser, the terms of the bargain were fully understood on both sides;
but even when he had succeeded in obtaining the consent of M. de Condé
himself to the arrangement, Concini had still to overcome the scruples
of the Queen-mother, to whom he hastened to suggest that the vacant
government should be bestowed upon Charles de Luynes.

As he had anticipated, Marie de Medicis was startled by so extraordinary
a proposition. De Luynes was a mere hanger-on of the Court; the
companion of the boyish pleasures of her son; and without one claim to
honour or advancement. But these very arguments strengthened the
position of the Maréchal. The poverty of the King's favourite secured,
as he averred, his fidelity to those who might lay the foundations of
his fortune; and if, as the astute Italian moreover cleverly remarked,
De Luynes were in truth merely the playmate of the monarch, he possessed
at least the merit of engrossing his thoughts, and of thus rendering him
less desirous to control or to criticize the measures of others. Marie
yielded to this argument; she had begun to love power for its own sake;
and she could not disguise from herself that her future tenure of
authority must depend solely upon the will of the young sovereign. In
order, therefore, to secure to herself the good offices of one so
influential with his royal master as De Luynes, she consented to follow
the advice of Concini, who forthwith, in her name, remunerated M. de
Condé for his secession by upwards of a hundred thousand crowns, and the
grandson of Guillaume Ségur became governor of the city and fortress of
Amboise.[195]

FOOTNOTES:

[170] Emmanuel de Gondy, Due de Retz, and General of the Galleys, was
the grandson of the celebrated Maréchal Gilles de Laval, Baron de Retz,
who, under Charles VII, greatly contributed to the expulsion of the
English from France, but who subsequently suffered strangulation by a
decree of the ecclesiastical tribunal of Nantes for his frightful
debaucheries. He was the father of the well-known Cardinal de Retz, the
enemy of Mazarin, and one of the heroes of the Fronde.

[171] Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mère et du Fils_, vol. i. pp. 247-254.
Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 53-55.

[172] Bassompierre, _Mém_. pp. 94, 95.

[173] Henri de Châtiegnier de la Rocheposay.

[174] In 1598 Henri IV had marched against the Duc de Mercoeur, who
still held part of Brittany; and as the Duke found himself, immediately
on the appearance of the King, deserted by the nobility of the duchy, he
gave himself up for lost. Opposition was of course useless; and he was
about to surrender to the royal troops upon the best terms which he
could obtain, when he saved himself by a lucky expedient. He was aware
of the violent passion still felt by Henry for Gabrielle d'Estrées, and
in order to escape the penalty of his rebellion he offered the hand of
his only daughter, with the duchies of Estampes, Penthièvre, and
Mercoeur as her dowry, to the King's natural son César de Vendôme; a
proposal which was at once accepted, as the monarch was aware that it
would gratify the ambition of his mistress. Subsequently, however, after
the death of her father, the family of Mademoiselle de Mercoeur had
objected to the alliance, and it had required all the authority of Henry
to compel its accomplishment.--Davila, _Hist. of Modern Europe_, London,
1794, book xv. vol. iii. p. 49.

[175] Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mère et du Fils_, vol. i. pp. 260-277.
Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 55-67. Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 253-261. Brienne,
_Mém_. vol. i. pp. 296, 297, édition Petitot.

[176] Louis de Bassompierre, who subsequently became Bishop of Saintes.

[177] Petitot, _Avertissement sur M. de Bassompierre_.

[178] Le Vassor, vol. i. p. 263.

[179] Nicolas de Verdun, First President of the Parliament of Paris, a
devoted adherent of M. de Villeroy.

[180] Louis Servin, Councillor of State, Advocate-General of the
Parliament of Paris, and one of the most able magistrates of his time,
served with zeal and fidelity under Henri III, Henri IV, and Louis XIII.
He died suddenly, at the feet of the latter monarch, on the 19th of
March 1626, while remonstrating with him in the name of the Parliament,
where he was holding his Bed of Justice, against certain financial
edicts. He was the author of several legal writings, orations, and
sundry other works.

[181] Henri Auguste de Loménie, Comte de Brienne, was the son of Antoine
de Loménie and of Anne d'Aubourg, and was born in 1594. In 1609 he
attracted the attention of Henri IV, who occasionally admitted him to
his councils, in order to familiarize him with public affairs; and Marie
de Medicis continued, after the death of that monarch, to honour him
with her regard. In 1617 he became Master of the Ceremonies and Provost
of the King's Orders. In 1621 he followed Louis XIII to Languedoc, where
he distinguished himself at the siege of Clérac; and in the following
campaign he served under the Prince de Condé with equal credit. After
struggling successfully throughout the long and stormy administration of
Richelieu, he incurred the displeasure of Louis XIII a short time after
the death of that minister, and disposed of his office as secretary of
state; but during the regency of Anne of Austria he was recalled; and
until Louis XIV undertook to govern the nation in his own person, he
retained great influence in the Council. Age was, however, creeping upon
him; and a short time subsequent to the marriage of that monarch, having
attained his sixty-seventh year, he retired from the Government. He
died in 1666.

[182] Petitot, _Notice sur le Comte de Brienne_, p. 278.

[183] This privilege rendered the financial and judicial offices
hereditary, on the payment of an annual tax of one-tenth of the sum at
which they had been originally purchased; and the nobility were jealous
of this hereditary tenure of the most lucrative civil appointments under
the Crown, all of which were thus, as a natural consequence, engrossed
by the _tiers-état._ The _paulette_ owed its name to Charles Paulet, who
was the inventor of this extraordinary source of revenue.

[184] _Tiers-état,_ or middle state, was the name given to that portion
of the French people who belonged neither to the aristocracy nor to
the Church.

[185] Pierre de Roncherolles, Baron du Pont Saint-Pierre.

[186] Robert Miron, Provost of the Merchants, an able politician, whose
zeal and talents were recompensed by the confidence and favour of Louis
XIII, by whom he was, in 1625, entrusted with the embassy to
Switzerland.

[187] Bonnechose, vol. i. pp. 451, 452. Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 73-78. Le
Vassor, vol. i. pp. 298-302.

[188] Marville, _Mélanges d'Histoire et de Littérature_.

[189] Nicolas Le Fèvre was born at Paris, in 1544, and devoted himself
to literature. Henri IV entrusted to him the education of the Prince de
Condé; and he subsequently became, under Marie de Medicis, the preceptor
of Louis XIII. He died in 1612.

[190] David de Rivault, Sieur de Flurance, was born at Laval in 1571,
and died at Tours in 1616. He was the author of several works, which
elicited the admiration of Malherbe and other distinguished writers.

[191] Guy, Comte de Laval, was the brother of the Duc de la Trémouille.

[192] Bernard, _Hist, de Louis XIII_, book i.

[193] Sismondi, _Hist. des Français_, vol. xxii. p. 296.

[194] Bernard, book iv. _Additions aux Mémoires de Castelnau_, book vi.
pp. 455-457. Richelieu, _Hist, de la Mère et du Fils_, vol. i. p. 284.

[195] Richelieu, _Hist, de la Mère et du Fils_, vol. i. pp. 284, 285.



CHAPTER VII

1615-16

Close of the States-General--The Bishop of Luçon--Declaration of the
royal marriages--Ballet of Madame--State of the Court--Cabal of
Concini--Death of Marguerite de Valois--Condé seeks to gain the
Parliament--Distrust of Marie de Medicis--Condé leaves Paris--He refuses
to accompany the King to Guienne--Perilous position of the Court
party--The Maréchal de Bois-Dauphin is appointed Commander-in-Chief--The
Court proceed to Guienne--Illness of the Queen and Madame Elisabeth--The
Court at Tours--Enforced inertness of M. de Bois-Dauphin--Condé is
declared guilty of _lèse-majesté_--He takes up arms--Murmurs of the
royal generals--The Comte de St. Pol makes his submission--The
Court reach Bordeaux--The royal marriages--Sufferings of the
troops--Disaffection of the nobility--Irritation of the
Protestants--Pasquinades--Negotiation with the Princes--The Duc de Guise
assumes the command of the royal army--Singular escape of Marie de
Medicis--Disgrace of the Duc d'Epernon--He retires to his
government--The Queen and the astrologer.

The assembly of the States-General occupied the commencement of the year
1615; and was closed on the 22nd of February, by their Majesties in
person, with extreme pomp. When the King and his august mother had taken
their seats, and the heralds had proclaimed silence, Armand Jean du
Plessis, Bishop of Luçon,[196] presented to the sovereign the
requisition of the clergy; and after a long harangue, in which he
detailed their several demands, he entered into an animated eulogium of
the administration of the Queen, exhorting his Majesty to continue to
her the power of which she had so ably availed herself during his
minority. He spoke fluently, but in a broken and uncertain voice, and
with an apparent apathy, which, according to contemporaneous authors,
gave no indication of the extraordinary talents that he subsequently
displayed.

The States-General had no sooner closed than Marie de Medicis resolved
to terminate the double alliance which had been concluded with Spain,
and in honour of this event she determined that Madame, the promised
bride of Philip, should appear in a ballet, which by the sumptuousness
of its decorations, the beauty of its machinery, and the magnificence of
its entire arrangements, should eclipse every entertainment of the kind
hitherto exhibited at the French Court.

"It is necessary," she said, "that my daughter should give a public
festival before her departure for Spain, and that the Parisians should
remember a Princess who is about to be lost to France."

That the worthy citizens were on their part most anxious so to do, is
evident from the testimony of Bassompierre, who states that the Court
officials, being unprepared for so great a crowd as that which
presented itself upon the occasion, had not taken proper precautions,
and it was subsequently found necessary to postpone the amusement for
some days, and to arrange that no one should enter the Salle de Bourbon
without a ticket; which the Duc d'Epernon and himself were entrusted to
receive.[197]

[Illustration: RICHELIEU.]

This entertainment was followed by another of a similar description at
the Hôtel de Condé; but although they affected to be equally engrossed
by the festivities in which they shared, neither the Queen nor the
Prince were so indifferent to their personal interests as they
endeavoured to appear. Marie de Medicis was striving to discover some
means of frustrating the cabals which were perpetually thwarting her
designs, and threatening her authority, while M. de Condé was as eager
as ever to undermine her power. The Maréchal d'Ancre was intriguing to
effect the disgrace of the ministers, particularly that of Villeroy,
whose alliance he no longer coveted; and the great nobles were busied in
searching for some pretext sufficiently plausible to cause the ruin of
the domineering favourite who presumed to treat them rather as inferiors
than as equals. Thus the gilded surface of the Court concealed a mass of
hatred, jealousy, and unrest, which threatened every instant to reveal
itself, and to dispel an illusion as false as it was flattering: and
while the foreign guests of the young monarch danced and feasted, and
the native nobility struggled to surpass them in magnificence and
frivolity, the more thoughtful spectators of the glittering scene
trembled at its instability, and every instant anticipated an outbreak.

The attempt of Concini proved successful, and the deportment of Marie
towards M. de Villeroy became so chilling that he withdrew from the
Court, without seeking to ascertain the cause of his disgrace.

On the 27th of March the ex-Queen Marguerite breathed her last, but for
some time previously she had appeared so seldom at Court that her death
did not tend to disturb the gaieties of the royal circle, who had almost
ceased to remember her existence. She had outlived even the reputation
of her vices.

When the Prince de Condé and his faction demanded a meeting of the
States they were far from anticipating its results; the unanimous
loyalty of the deputies having greatly subserved the interests of the
Queen, and thus weakened their own position. Aware too late of the error
which they had committed, they were consequently compelled to seek
elsewhere for support, and it was at length decided that they should
excite the disaffection of the Parliament, by representing that all the
services which its members had rendered to Marie on her assumption of
the regency had been repaid by ingratitude and neglect; and that they no
longer commanded that authority in the Government to which they were
justly entitled. Coupled with these insidious arguments were profuse
offers of assistance to enable them to enforce their rights, and the
object of the faction was at once gained; the ambition and the vanity of
the Parliament being alike engaged in a question which involved their
own influence and importance. Strong in the support of the Princes,
they, however, overacted the part assigned to them, and proceeded so
arrogantly to remonstrate with the sovereign upon what they termed the
abuses of the Government, that the King issued a decree in Council, by
which he abrogated both their own decree and their remonstrances,
declaring that they had exceeded the power accorded to them by the law;
and commanding that those documents should be cancelled, torn from the
registers, and delivered to his Majesty on the receipt of the royal
decree. The Parliament, however, expostulated, and although they were
again commanded to deliver up the obnoxious records, they failed to
obey; and thus, by their determination, overruled the will of the
sovereign.

During this struggle for power the Prince de Condé had absented himself
from Paris, in order to avert any suspicion of connivance; but previous
experience had rendered the Queen distrustful of his movements, and she
was consequently prepared to counteract his subsequent intrigues. The
Council had, accordingly, no sooner annulled the decree of the
Parliament, than she sent to forbid him, in the name of the King, from
assisting in their deliberations; upon which the Prince availed himself
of so specious a pretext for abandoning the Court, alleging that he no
longer considered it safe to remain in the capital.[198]

In accordance with this declaration he left Paris by the Porte St.
Antoine, followed by the acclamations of the populace, who, weary of the
rule of the Queen, and exasperated by the arrogance of her favourites,
regarded M. de Condé as a victim, and thus rendered his retreat a new
subject of anxiety to the Court party. Nor was their annoyance decreased
when they ascertained that throughout his journey to Creil, where he
possessed an estate on the banks of the Oise, he was met by numerous
bodies of armed citizens from Senlis, Mantes, Beaumont, and other towns,
and was accompanied by the Duc de Longueville and the nobles attached to
his cause. Within a league of Creil the harquebusiers were drawn up to
receive him, with drums beating and colours flying, and thus escorted he
finally entered the city.

On learning these circumstances Marie de Medicis became apprehensive
that he might avail himself of so favourable an opportunity to raise an
army, and enter into open rebellion against the Crown; and in order to
avert this contingency, she lost no time in despatching a messenger who
was instructed to invite him to return to Paris, and to accompany the
Court in their approaching journey to Guienne. M. de Condé was, however,
aware of the advantage which he had gained, and resolutely refused to
retrace his steps until the King reformed the Council, replied to the
remonstrances of the Parliament, and redressed the alleged wrongs of
himself and his friends; demanding in his own name the presidency of the
Council, and the ministry of finance which had been promised to him;
while the Maréchal de Bouillon, in his turn, asked as the price of his
obedience the office of Connétable de France vacant by the death of the
Duc de Montmorency.[199]

These demands not being conceded, the Prince de Condé refused to
accompany the King to Guienne, an example which was followed by many of
the high nobility; and the faction became ere long so formidable that a
civil war appeared inevitable.

Nevertheless, the Maréchal d'Ancre and his adherents affected to treat
the warlike demonstrations of the adverse party with contempt, and
assured Marie de Medicis that all the efforts of the Prince must prove
abortive while the King possessed a strong army and able generals to
oppose the forces of the malcontents; and, in support of his assertion,
the Ducs de Guise and d'Epernon alike offered their services to her
Majesty. In the former, however, Marie dared not confide; his near
relative, the Duc de Mayenne, being the ally of Condé, while De Guise
himself was the avowed enemy of Concini. Of M. d'Epernon's sincerity she
felt more assured; but she was aware that she could not bestow upon him
the command of the royal army without exciting the jealousy of Guise,
and thus opening up a newsource of difficulty. Desirous of proceeding to
Guienne without further delay, the Queen consequently urged her
advisers to suggest some other individual to whom so serious a
responsibility might be entrusted; and after considerable deliberation
the Duc d'Epernon, the Chancellor, and his son the Chevalier de Sillery
proposed to the Maréchal d'Ancre that he should become a candidate for
the command, offering at the same time to exert all their influence with
the Queen to ensure his success.[200]

Blinded by vanity, Concini, who was a soldier only in name, did not fail
to listen with greedy ears to this unexpected proposition; and while his
seeming friends were speculating upon his ruin, and calculating that
during his absence they should have time to impress upon Marie de
Medicis that, by the sacrifice of her favourite, she might reconcile the
disaffected Princes. Concini himself foresaw that the increase of
influence which so important a command could not fail to secure to him
must tend to diminish that of the Duc d'Epernon, whose overthrow had
been for some time his greatest wish. Moreover, by quartering his troops
in the neighbourhood of M. de Condé, an opportunity would present itself
of effecting his reconciliation with that Prince, which he ardently
desired; and this end accomplished, he flattered himself with the hope
that his vision of becoming first minister of France could not fail to
be realized.

Unfortunately, however, for the ambitious Italian, it was not long ere
D'Epernon and Sillery recognized the error into which they had been led
by their eagerness to injure him. They suddenly remembered that Concini
had already once joined the faction of the Princes, and they were aware
that the Duc de Bouillon had made more than one subsequent effort to
induce him to abandon the royal cause; and they were no sooner convinced
of the fault which they had committed, than they hastened to represent
to the Queen that the appointment of the Maréchal d'Ancre to the command
of the King's armies had caused great dissatisfaction throughout the
capital; the citizens affirming that the troops of a sovereign of France
ought not to be led against the enemy by a man who was ignorant of the
art of war, and who was, moreover, a foreigner, detested by the people
to an extent which rendered it probable that, should Concini be invested
with the command, they would open the gates of Paris to M. de Condé, in
the event of his marching upon the city. Marie de Medicis yielded to
these reasons, and simply replied by reminding Sillery that if she had
committed an error in accepting the proposal of the Maréchal d'Ancre,
she had done so at his own instigation; but that as he considered it
desirable to appoint some other individual to the command, she would
offer no opposition. Concini was accordingly superseded, and the veteran
Maréchal de Bois-Dauphin was selected as his successor, with the title
of lieutenant-general.[201] Indignant at the disappointment to which he
had been subjected, Concini left Paris, and proceeded to his government
at Amiens, vowing vengeance against the Duc d'Epernon and Sillery.

The impatience of the Queen to conclude the double alliance with Spain
was so great that she disregarded the advice of Jeannin and Villeroy;
who, in conjunction with Concini and his wife, had endeavoured to induce
her to delay her departure for Guienne, and to proceed either to Laon or
St. Quentin, in order to secure the Isle of France and Picardy, and to
prevent the Prince de Condé and his adherents from concentrating their
forces in the vicinity of the capital; while, on the contrary, she was
urged by the Chancellor and his brother, the Commandeur de Sillery, who
was her first-equerry and gentleman-usher, to carry out her original
design. The 17th of August had been already fixed for the commencement
of the royal journey; and Marie eagerly availed herself of their advice
to persist in her purpose; contenting herself with giving orders to the
Maréchal de Bois-Dauphin to cover Paris, to impede the approach of the
disaffected forces, and, at all risks, to avoid coming to an engagement.
She then withdrew from the Bastille eight hundred thousand crowns for
the purpose of defraying the expenses of the Court during its progress.

Despite the absence of the Princes, the royal retinue was magnificent
and numerous. The troops by whom the august travellers were attended
consisted of a thousand horsemen, and the royal bodyguard amounted to
three thousand men, who were placed under the command of the Duc de
Guise, who was also to accompany Madame Elisabeth to the frontier of the
kingdom, and to receive the Infanta, whom he was to conduct to the
capital of Guienne, where their Majesties were to await her. The King
left Paris soon after dawn; the Queen followed some hours subsequently,
having previously caused the arrest of M. Le Jay,[202] in order to
intimidate the Parliament; and finally, in the course of the afternoon,
Madame took leave of the municipal authorities, and departed in her
turn. The Marquise d'Ancre having in vain endeavoured to dissuade her
royal foster-sister from this journey, became so thoroughly dispirited
by the disappointment of her husband, and the evident decline of her own
influence, that she resolved to excuse herself from accompanying the
Court, and to remain in the capital; a project from which she was,
however, dissuaded by MM. de Villeroy and Jeannin, who represented to
her the impolicy of incurring the displeasure of her Majesty, and thus
insuring her own ruin. She was consequently induced to join the royal
suite, but she did so with a heavy heart, and without one hope of
resuming her original empire over the mind of Marie.

The Court reached Orleans on the 20th of August, and Tours on the 30th,
whence their Majesties proceeded to Poitiers, at which city they arrived
on the 9th of September; but the anxieties of Marie de Medicis were not
yet to terminate. Madame was attacked a day or two subsequently with
small-pox, while the Queen herself was confined to her bed by a severe
illness, which compelled the constant attendance of Madame d'Ancre in
her sick-room, where, by her affectionate assiduity, she soon succeeded
in recovering the good graces of her royal mistress. She had secured to
her interests a Jewish physician, in whose astrological talent Marie de
Medicis placed the most implicit confidence; and eager to revenge her
husband upon Sillery, who, as she was well aware, had been the cause of
his losing the coveted command, she instructed this man, whom the Queen
had hastened to consult, to persuade the credulous invalid that she had
been bewitched by the Chevalier de Sillery. Strange as it may appear,
Leonora was perfectly successful; and believing herself to have been the
victim of the Chancellor and his party, Marie entered earnestly into the
views of her favourite, consenting to withdraw her confidence from
Sillery, and to follow thenceforward the counsels of Villeroy and
Jeannin.[203]

The delay consequent upon the recovery of the Queen and her daughter
enabled the Prince de Condé to strengthen his party, and to advance
towards Paris, with an army of five thousand infantry and two thousand
horse. His troops were, however, badly armed, and might at once have
been beaten or dispersed by the Maréchal de Bois-Dauphin, had that
general marched against them; but, fettered by the stringent orders
which he had received not to give battle to the enemy, he remained
inactive; and the Duc de Bouillon profited by his inertness to seize
Château Thierry, whence he marched to Méré-sur-Seine.

Meanwhile M. de Condé ascertained that the King had issued on the 10th
of September a proclamation of _lèse-majesté_ against himself and his
adherents; to which he replied by another, wherein he affirmed that he
had taken up arms for the sole purpose of preventing a foreign invasion.
He then crossed the Seine, with the intention of possessing himself of
the town of Sens; a project in which he, however, failed, Bois-Dauphin
and his adjutant-general, the Marquis de Praslin, having already
garrisoned the place.[204]

The two armies were at this period in such close juxtaposition that an
engagement appeared inevitable; but whether it were that Bois-Dauphin
was deficient in ability, or that he had resolved, whatever might be the
result of his inaction, to obey implicitly the instructions of the
Queen, he vacated Sens after a few slight skirmishes. Be the real cause
of his supineness what it might, it excited the indignation of
Bassompierre, Praslin, the Marquis de Coeuvres, and the other leaders of
the royal army, who did not scruple to accuse him of incapacity;
declaring, moreover, that he had harassed the troops far more than if he
had led them into action.[205]

On the arrival of the Court at Angoulême the Queen was agreeably
surprised by the appearance of the Comte de Saint-Pol,[206] who, she had
been led to believe, had joined the faction of Condé with his nephew the
Duc de Longueville; and her exultation was increased when, with
assurances of his fidelity to the Crown, he placed under her orders the
two fortresses of Fronsac and Caumont.[207]

Profiting by the retreat of the Maréchal de Bois-Dauphin, the Duc de
Bouillon had made all haste to pass the Loire, and to reach the confines
of Touraine and Poitou; nor would it have been possible for their
Majesties to have reached Bordeaux in safety, had it not been for the
secession of the Comte de Saint-Pol from the faction of the Princes,
together with the impossibility of marching the rebel troops upon Poitou
in so short a space of time. Thanks to this combination of
circumstances, however, the Court arrived without accident in the
capital of Guienne on the 7th of October; where the King and his august
mother were received with great magnificence, and enthusiastically
welcomed by all classes of the citizens, whom the Maréchal de
Roquelaure, lieutenant-general for the King in Guienne, and Mayor of
Bordeaux, had adroitly gained, by his representations of the honour
conferred upon them by the sovereign in selecting their city as the
scene of his own marriage and that of his sister, the future Queen of
Spain.[208]

It had been arranged that the royal marriages should be celebrated on
the same day (the 18th of October), at Bordeaux and Burgos; and
accordingly the Duc de Guise, as proxy for the Prince of Spain, espoused
Madame Elisabeth, with whom, accompanied by the Duchesse de Nevers and
the ladies of her household, he immediately departed for the frontier,
after a painful leave-taking between the young Princess and her family;
while the Duque d'Usseda[209] performed the same ceremony for Louis
XIII, with the Infanta Anna Maria of Austria. The exchange of the two
Princesses took place on the 9th of November, in the middle of the
Bidassoa, with a host of petty and futile observances which excite mirth
rather than admiration; but at the same time with a magnificence
surpassing all that had ever previously been exhibited on such an
occasion; the two Courts of France and Spain vying with each other in
splendour and profusion. De Luynes, to whom such a mission appeared
peculiarly adapted, presented to the Infanta the letters of welcome with
which he had been entrusted by Louis XIII and his mother, and which were
received by the Princess with an undisguised delight that the favourite
did not fail to report to his royal master.

The guard with which the Duc de Guise had conducted Madame Elisabeth to
the frontier consisted of fifteen hundred horse, four thousand infantry,
and four pieces of ordnance; and it was with the same troops that he
escorted the newly made Queen of France to Bordeaux, who, previously to
her departure from Burgos, had signed a formal renunciation, written
entirely by her own hand, of all her claims to the Spanish
succession.[210] On her arrival at Bordeaux on the 21st of November, the
young Queen was received with all the splendour of which the
circumstances were susceptible, and the marriage ceremony was
immediately repeated by the Bishop of Saintes; after which, on the 17th
of December, the Court, under the escort of a strong body of troops,
left the capital of Guienne for Tours, which latter city they did not,
however, reach for five weeks, owing to the long halts that they were
compelled to make in the several towns through which they passed, where
every species of entertainment had been prepared for the reception of
the august travellers. Meanwhile the army suffered fearfully from
exposure to the cold, from sickness, and from want of provisions and
forage; numbers of the men died, and the progress of the royal party
consequently resembled a disastrous retreat rather than a triumphant
procession.

In addition to this misfortune the Queen-mother had other and still
more serious motives for anxiety. Although her personal ambition had
been gratified by the accomplishment of that close alliance with Spain
which she had so long and so earnestly desired, she could not conceal
from herself that as regarded the nation over which she had been called
to govern, the irretrievable step thus taken was one of extreme
impolicy. On every side she was surrounded by difficulties. The first
Prince of the Blood, and nearly the whole of the high nobility, were not
only disaffected, but actually in arms against the Crown. The
Protestants, to whom she had repeatedly promised that she would observe
the Edict of Nantes, incensed by her breach of faith, had revolted
against her authority; her troops had failed to offer any effective
resistance; and meanwhile foreign soldiers had traversed Champagne, and
advanced into Berry to join Condé, without any impediment from the royal
army. The intelligence that she received from Paris was equally
alarming; scarcely a day passed in which pamphlets and pasquinades of
the grossest description were not published and circulated among the
population, assigning the most foul and degrading motives for her
journey to Guienne under the protection of the Ducs d'Epernon and de
Guise; while her anxiety for the Spanish alliance was represented as
arising from her desire to conciliate those who were accused of being
the assassins of her husband.

Angered as she was by these insults, Marie de Medicis still pined to
return to the capital. She was wearied alike by the exacting and
arrogant temper of M. d'Epernon, and by the monotony of the provincial
cities, where she saw herself surrounded only by aldermen and citizens
with whom she had no feeling or habit in common; and as the several
individuals of her circle were equally ill at ease in so novel a
position, far from allaying her impatience, they aggravated the _ennui_
which she did not attempt to disguise, until she eventually brought
herself to attach all the blame of her own disappointment and
mortification upon those who had advised her to leave the capital; and
to evince the greatest eagerness to follow the counsels of their
adversaries.[211]

The Court left Bordeaux at the close of the year 1615; and in the month
of January following proceeded to take up its abode at Tours, there to
await the close of a negotiation into which the Queen-mother had entered
with the Princes; while at the same time her agents secretly
exerted all their efforts to induce the allies of M. de Condé to
abandon his cause. The command of the troops was taken from the Maréchal
de Bois-Dauphin and conferred upon the Duc de Guise, with the title of
lieutenant-general of the King's army; and an immediate attempt was made
to gain over the Duc de Mayenne and the Maréchal de Bouillon, as being
the most influential of the revolted nobles. James I offered to Marie de
Medicis his services as a mediator on the occasion; they were gratefully
accepted, and the English Ambassador was forthwith despatched to the
Prince de Condé at St. Jean-d'Angély, with instructions to avert, by
every argument in his power, the horrors of a civil war. Convinced that
no better opportunity could possibly occur for securing to himself and
his party the advantageous conditions which he coveted, Condé received
the royal envoy with great courtesy, declaring that he had acted
throughout the whole affair solely in the interests of his country, and
that he was ready to write respectfully to his Britannic Majesty, to
offer to him the same assurance.

His proposal was accepted; the letter was forthwith prepared; and the
Baron de Thianges was entrusted with its delivery into the hands of the
English monarch. A reply was returned by the same messenger; and finally
a conference was decided on, which was to take place at Loudun on the
10th of February.[212]

While preparations were making for this important event, the
Queen-mother, on the 29th of January, summoned the nobles of her Court
to her apartment, in order to discuss the necessary measures to be
adopted for securing the allegiance of the disaffected Princes; and on
this occasion she nearly lost her life by a singular accident. The young
Comte de Soissons, the Ducs de Guise and d'Epernon, Bassompierre,
Jeannin, and many others who held office about the Court or in the
Government were scarcely assembled when the flooring of the room gave
way, and twenty-eight persons were precipitated into the hall beneath.
The arm-chair of Marie herself had fortunately been placed above a beam
which held firm, and to which the President Jeannin resolutely clung,
thus breaking his fall; but MM. de Soissons, d'Epernon, de Bassompierre,
de Villeroy, and several others were less fortunate, and all were more
or less gravely injured. With great presence of mind the Queen retained
her seat; and with the help of the Duc de Guise ultimately contrived to
reach her bed, over which she passed, and thus escaped into an adjoining
apartment; and meanwhile the unfortunate victims of the accident were
conveyed to their respective residences, where her Majesty caused them
to be immediately visited by one of the officers of her household, who
was commissioned to inquire into their condition, and to express her
regret at the event.

There was one exception, however, to this royal act of sympathy and
consideration, and that one was the Duc d'Epernon; who, although the
greatest sufferer on the occasion, was entirely overlooked; a marked and
threatening want of courtesy on the part of the Queen-mother, which
convinced the arrogant courtier that his period of favour was past, and
that his enemies had triumphed. This conviction at once determined him
to retire voluntarily from the Court before he should be compelled to do
so by an order which he felt satisfied would not be long delayed; and he
was accordingly no sooner sufficiently recovered to leave his bed than
he waited upon their Majesties to take leave, alleging that his
shattered health having received so violent a shock, he felt it
necessary to withdraw for a time from all participation in public
affairs, and to endeavour by perfect repose to overcome the effects of
his accident.

His reasons were graciously accepted both by the King and Queen, who
assured him of their deep sorrow at his sufferings, and expressed the
most flattering wishes for his recovery; but the Queen-mother uttered no
word either of regret or sympathy. With the most chilling indifference
she returned his parting salutation; and M. d'Epernon quitted her
apartment with a demeanour almost as haughty as her own.[213]

Marie de Medicis, who possessed the most implicit confidence in the
so-called science of astrology, and who was always anxious to penetrate
the mystery of the future, having been informed on her return to Paris
that a certain Giorgio Luminelli, a native of Ragusa who was celebrated
as a soothsayer, had recently arrived in the capital, and taken up his
abode in the Place Royale, immediately expressed a wish to consult him;
for which purpose she despatched a messenger to his residence, by whom
he was invited to wait upon a person of high rank who, attracted by his
renown, was desirous of testing his skill. To this somewhat imperious
summons Luminelli, however, simply replied by declaring that he never
quitted his own apartments for any one, whatever might be the station of
the person who required his services; but that those, who sought his aid
were at liberty to visit him whenever they saw fit to do so. This answer
only increased the eagerness of the Queen-mother; nevertheless,
previously to seeking him in person, she requested M. de Créquy, the Duc
de la Force, Bassompierre, and Rambure to go to his house in disguise,
in order to ascertain whether he were indeed worthy of the reputation by
which he had been preceded.

While they were making the necessary arrangements, and deciding to
exchange dresses with their confidential valets in the hope of being
enabled to mystify the necromancer, to whom they were entirely unknown,
the Maréchal d'Ancre arrived to pay his respects to his royal mistress;
and, upon being made acquainted with the project, he determined to join
the party in the character of a Venetian noble, of whom there were at
that moment several residing in Paris. On the completion of their
preparations the merry masquers set forth, and soon reached the abode of
Luminelli; where, on their arrival, they found a servant stationed at
the door, as if awaiting the advent of expected guests, who no sooner
saw them pause beside him than, addressing Concini and the disguised
serving-men, he politely requested them to follow him; coupling the
invitation with an assurance that his master had desired him to watch
for the arrival of five great nobles who were about to consult his art.
Lavallée, the lackey of M. de Bassompierre, assuming an air of
importance, expressed both for himself and his companions their sense of
this attention; and then, somewhat startled by the coincidence, for as
such they simply considered it, the whole party followed their
guide upstairs.

On reaching the apartment of the astrologer the four disguised courtiers
remained respectfully upon the threshold, while their unliveried
representatives advanced to the middle of the room; and courteously
saluting their host, informed him that they had been induced by his
great renown to solicit a display of his skill, and to claim from him a
knowledge of their future fortunes. Lavallée was once more their
spokesman; and the eyes of Luminelli remained fixed upon him until the
conclusion of his address, when he turned away abruptly, without
vouchsafing any reply, and drew back a curtain behind which was placed a
large globe of polished steel. He looked earnestly upon this for a few
moments; and then rising, he put on a cap of dark velvet which lay
beside him, took Lavallée by the hand, and approaching Bassompierre
placed his valet a few paces behind him, saying as he did so:

"Monseigneur, why should you thus have assumed a disguise? You are
already a great noble, but your fortunes have not yet reached their
acme. You will one day be Maréchal de France, and the dignity will be
conferred upon you on the other side of the Rhône. Beauty has great
influence over you; but with those whom you seek to please your purse
has even more charms than your person. You will ere long have immense
success at the gaming-table, far beyond any which you have yet achieved.
You have been engaged in a lawsuit against an unmarried woman.[214] You
hold one of the highest offices in the kingdom.[215] You are not by
birth a Frenchman, but a German. One of the greatest ladies in the world
will cause you considerable misfortune,[216] through the medium of a red
animal.[217] You will, however, finally triumph over your troubles,
although the trial will be a long and a severe one."

Luminelli then consulted his magic globe a second time; led the lackey
of M. de Créquy to the rear of his master; made a profound salutation to
the latter; and addressing him in his turn, detailed, as he had
previously done in the case of Bassompierre, all the leading events of
his past and future life. He next went through the same ceremony with
the Duc de la Force and M. de Rambure; and ultimately he turned towards
the Maréchal d'Ancre, exclaiming:

"You, Sir, are no Venetian, although you have sought to appear such;
but it would be well for you if you were so. As it is, if you will
follow my advice, you will leave Paris to-morrow for Venice; for should
you long delay your departure, it will be too late to effect it. When
you arrived in France you were alike poor and obscure, although you are
now rich both in gold and honours. Leave the country, nevertheless, or
these advantages will avail you nothing. With few exceptions, you are
detested by all classes; and you will find your native air of Florence
more wholesome than that of the country which you have adopted. You
possess governments, and wield the _bâton_ of a Maréchal de France, but
your tenure of these dignities is unstable; and you will do well to save
yourself while you have yet the opportunity. You place your reliance on
the favour of a crowned head, but that very favour shadows forth
your ruin."

As Concini stood motionless before him, the astrologer took him by the
hand, and leading him towards the globe, by a slight touch caused it to
revolve. As he gazed upon the polished surface of the mysterious
instrument, the colour of the Italian came and went so rapidly that his
companions believed him to be attacked by sudden indisposition; and
depositing a heavy purse of gold upon the table, they urged him to
withdraw. Before they could effect their object, however, Luminelli
thrust the purse from him, having previously withdrawn from it a single
pistole which he flung to his attendant. He then cast himself back upon
his chair; the heavy curtain again fell before the globe; and he
appeared totally unconscious of the continued presence of his visitors,
whose departure was retarded for a few seconds by the utter incapacity
of Concini to leave the room. With a powerful effort the Italian,
however, suddenly suppressed his emotion, although he still trembled so
violently that he was compelled to lean upon Bassompierre for support;
nor did the attack, as had been anticipated, yield to the influence of
the external air, for the Maréchal continued throughout the entire space
of two hours wholly unable to control its violence; while not all the
eager questioning of his companions could induce him to reveal the cause
of his frightful agitation; a fact by which they were firmly persuaded
that the astrologer had revealed to him an intimate acquaintance with
past events which justified his warning, or had foreshadowed a future
well calculated to arouse alarm.[218] Be this as it might, it appears at
least certain that the five nobles were each and all deeply impressed by
the scene through which they had just passed, by whatever agency it
might have been effected; and that the report which they made on their
return to Marie de Medicis effectually indisposed her from seeking any
further knowledge of Giorgio Luminelli.



CHAPTER VIII

1616

Conference of Loudun--Venality of the Princes--Mutual
concessions--Indisposition of M. de Condé--He signs the treaty--Concini
is insulted by a citizen of Paris--The Court return to the
capital--Schism in the cabal--The seals are transferred to M. du
Vair--Disgrace of the ministers--Triumph of Concini--Mangot is appointed
Secretary of State, and Barbin Minister of Finance--The young
sovereigns--Court costumes--Anne of Austria and Marie de
Medicis--Puerility of Louis XIII--The Maréchal de Bouillon and the Duc
de Mayenne return to Court--They seek to ruin Concini--The Prince de
Condé effects a reconciliation with the Queen-mother--James I. sends an
embassy to Paris to negotiate a marriage between the Prince of Wales and
the Princesse Christine--Gorgeous reception at the Louvre--Court
festivities--Concini returns to Paris--He is abandoned by the Prince de
Condé--He is compelled to retire--His forebodings--He endeavours to
induce Leonora to leave France--She refuses--Increasing influence of De
Luynes--Death of Mademoiselle d'Ancre--Despair of Concini--Ambitious
projects of the Prince de Condé--Devotion of Sully--His advice is
disregarded--Popularity of Condé--Marie de Medicis resolves to arrest
him--He disbelieves the rumour--The other Princes withdraw from the
capital--The King is induced to sanction the arrest--Dissimulation of
Louis XIII--Arrest of Condé--Fearless reply of M. du Vair--The Prince is
conveyed to the Bastille--A batch of Marshals--Noble disinterestedness
of Bassompierre--The Dowager Princess of Condé endeavours to excite the
populace to rescue her son--The mob pillage the hôtel of the Maréchal
d'Ancre--The Queen-mother negotiates with the Guises--The council of
war--The seals are transferred from Du Vair to Mangot--Richelieu is
appointed Secretary of State--Concini returns to Court--The Maréchale
d'Ancre becomes partially insane--Popular execration of the Italian
favourites--Subtle policy of Richelieu--Threatening attitude assumed by
the Princes.

The famous Conference of Loudun assembled on the 13th of February 1616;
but as the Prince de Condé presented no less than thirty-one articles
for consideration, many of which required careful examination, it was
mutually agreed that the truce should be prolonged until the decision of
his Majesty might be formed. The position of the Court was, moreover,
rendered more difficult from the fact that several great nobles, who had
not hitherto openly espoused the faction of the rebels, hastened to
swell their ranks, not with the intention of caballing against the
Government, but simply of being included in the concessions to which it
was evident that the Council would be compelled in order to accomplish a
peace. Among others the Duc de Vendôme, who had so recently solicited
his pardon, and declared his intention of adhering to the royal cause,
was conspicuous in the ranks of the enemy; together with the young Duc
de Candale, the son of D'Epernon, who had embraced the reformed faith,
the Duc de Piney-Luxembourg, and the Dowager Countess of Soissons, who
withdrew from the Court at Tours, and joined her son at Loudun. This
example, contemptible as it was, proved contagious, and was followed by
two of the greatest Princesses of the Blood, the Dowager Princesses of
Condé and Longueville,[219] to the extreme annoyance of the
Queen-mother, who was aware of the extent of their influence, and quite
alive to its probable consequences.

Meanwhile both armies were suffering so severely from extreme cold and
scarcity of provisions, that more than ten thousand men fell victims to
exposure and famine; and the bodyguard of the King became at length so
much weakened that he found himself compelled to summon the Swiss under
Bassompierre for the protection of his person.

The demands with which Condé and his partisans opened the Conference
were such as required little deliberation; but as the proceedings
advanced they became more and more onerous; until, finally, as the
Council had foreseen, they all resolved themselves into questions of
individual interest. The Duc de Longueville claimed full authority over
all the fortresses in his government of Picardy which were held by the
Maréchal d'Ancre, and refused to accede to any terms with the Crown
until they were given up; while the other Princes and nobles asked
either gratuities for themselves, or vengeance upon their enemies; and
all agreed in claiming the payment of their troops by the royal treasury
before they would consent to lay down their arms.[220]

Finally, on the 5th of May, the Conference was closed; several of the
articles presented by M. de Condé having been conceded, others deferred,
and the remainder conditionally agreed to. In the meantime, however, the
Prince had been taken seriously ill, and the fear that he might not
survive so threatening an attack determined the leaders of his faction
to accept whatever terms the Court should decide to offer. While the
disease was at its height, the Princes and royal commissioners assembled
about his bed, where the English Ambassador also presented himself;
but, although he had taken so active a part in the reconciliation about
to be effected between the Crown and the rebel nobles, M. de Villeroy
vehemently refused to permit him to remain, declaring that upon such an
occasion it was impossible to allow a foreigner to interfere between a
sovereign and his subjects. This dispute was followed by a second, the
deputies of La Rochelle having demanded a continuance of their assembly;
a demand which was opposed with such warmth and violence that M. de
Condé, unable to support the disturbance, weakened as he was by the
fever which preyed upon him, commanded instant silence; and desiring
that a pen might be brought to him, together with the edict of
pacification which had been drawn up, he forthwith affixed his signature
to the document, declaring that those who loved him would do the same,
while such as refused to follow his example should be compelled to do
so. He then pronounced a short prayer, in which he thanked God for the
cessation of hostilities, after which he desired to be left alone; and
on the morrow preparations were commenced for disbanding the rebel
troops.[221]

This apparent precipitation did not, however, involve any sacrifice
either on the part of the Prince himself or on that of his principal
adherents, since Richelieu has recorded that the peace for which M. de
Condé so piously uttered his thanksgiving cost Louis XIII upwards of six
millions of livres;[222] every individual of mark having cause to feel
satisfied with the result of the Conference save the Protestants, who,
as a body, derived no benefit whatever from the treaty.[223]

Concini, who had remained in Paris during the absence of the Court, had
meanwhile been subjected to a mortification which, to his haughty
spirit, far exceeded a more important evil. The citizens who had
continued to keep watch and ward, despite the cessation of hostilities
that had taken place, persevered in requiring that all who entered or
quitted the capital should be provided with passports; a formality with
which the arrogant Italian considered it unnecessary to comply; and,
accordingly, when on one occasion he was about to proceed to his house
in the faubourg attended by some of the gentlemen of his suite, he had
no sooner reached the Porte de Bussy, where a shoemaker named Picard was
on guard, than this man compelled his carriage to stop, and demanded his
passport. Enraged by such a mark of disrespect, the Maréchal imperiously
ordered his coachman to proceed, but this was rendered impossible by the
threatening attitude of the well-armed guardian of the gate.

"Rascal!" shouted Concini, showing himself at the door of the carriage;
"do you know who I am?"

"Right well, Sir," was the unmoved reply; "and nevertheless you shall
not stir a step beyond the walls without a passport."

The Italian was pale with indignation, but he dared not resent the
insult, as a crowd was rapidly collecting from whom he was aware that he
could expect no mercy; and he accordingly restrained himself
sufficiently to despatch a messenger for an order of egress, which
promptly arrived. His southern blood, however, beat and burnt in his
veins, and he awaited only an opportunity of revenge. A few days
subsequently, unable any longer to control his rage, he desired his
equerry to proceed to the residence of Picard with two valets, and to
repay his insolence by a sound cudgelling; an order which was so
implicitly obeyed that the unfortunate shoemaker narrowly escaped with
his life; while a mob, attracted by the uproar, seized the two
serving-men--who, confiding in the power of their master, treated their
menaces with contempt--and hanged them before the door of the house in
which they had committed the outrage. The equerry, who had also fallen
into the hands of the populace, was put upon his trial, and it was only
by means of a heavy bribe that the discomfited Maréchal, alarmed by what
had taken place, was enabled to induce Picard to withdraw his accusation
against him.[224]

At the close of the Conference of Loudun the Court returned to Paris,
where the reception of their Majesties was enthusiastic, while that of
Marie de Medicis was cold and constrained, although it was well known
that M. de Condé had all but obtained the presidency of the Council, and
that the Queen-mother had made other concessions which she had
previously repelled with considerable haughtiness at Tours; such as
granting to the Duc de Longueville the exclusive authority in Picardy,
which deprived the Maréchal d'Ancre of his cherished fortresses; while
on the other hand, despite the advantages which they had reaped from the
weakness of the Government, the discontented nobles had separated in no
better spirit. The Ducs de Rohan and de Sully loudly complained that
they had been deceived by the Prince; M. de Longueville, who had vainly
sought to obtain the government of Normandy, and who was afraid to
return to Picardy until convinced that he had nothing to fear from the
resentment of the Maréchal d'Ancre, considered himself aggrieved; and
such, in short, was the general jealousy and distrust exhibited by the
lately coalesced nobles that, with the exception of the Duc de Mayenne
and the Maréchal de Bouillon, who found themselves involved in one
common interest--that of destroying the influence of the Ducs d'Epernon
and de Bellegarde--the whole of the late cabal appeared by mutual
consent to have become inimical to each other.[225]

On the arrival of the Court in Paris the seals were taken from the
Chancellor, and delivered into the keeping of Guillaume du Vair, who
was at that period in his sixtieth year, on the pretext that so
important a charge must be oppressive to M. de Sillery at his advanced
age; a subterfuge which could not have failed to excite the discontent
of the people had they not distrusted his cupidity as much as Marie was
wearied of his services. Certain it is, however, that his dismissal
occasioned no regret, and was speedily forgotten.[226] Villeroy and
Jeannin were the immediate agents of his dismissal from office, as they
ascribed to him their own previous discredit at Court, and had long been
secretly labouring to repay him in kind; but their triumph was destined
to be short-lived. Concini had effected the disgrace of his old and
hated rival the Duc d'Epernon; and that feat accomplished, he next
resolved to rid himself of the two veteran ministers who were the most
formidable stumbling-blocks upon his path of ambition. Aware of the
distrustful nature of the Queen-mother, whose experience had made her
suspicious of all by whom she was surrounded, he at once decided upon
his plan of action; and it was not long ere he induced her to believe
that they had acted in the interests of the Prince de Condé, rather than
her own, during the Conference of Loudun; while such plausible proofs
did he adduce of this assertion, that once more Marie de Medicis
consented to exclude them from the Council.

This was the moment for which the Italian favourite had so long sighed.
From the death of Henri IV he had exerted all his energies to overthrow
the Princes of the Blood, and to replace the old ministers by creatures
of his own; but so hopeless did the attempt appear that more than once
he had despaired of ultimate success. Now, however, he found himself
pre-eminent; the Queen-mother, harassed and worn-out by the cabals which
were incessantly warring against her authority, and threatening her
tenure of power, threw herself with eagerness into the hands of the
adventurer who owed all to her favour, and implicitly followed his
advice, in the hope that she might thus escape the machinations of her
enemies. Mangot,[227] whose devotion to the Maréchal d'Ancre was
notorious, was appointed Secretary of State, in which dignity he
replaced M. de Puisieux;[228] while the administration of finance was
conferred upon M. Barbin,[229] although Jeannin nominally retained
office.[230]

While these changes were convulsing the Cabinet, irritating the great
nobles, and exciting the apprehensions of all those who desired the
welfare of the nation, the young sovereigns, whom they more immediately
concerned, were either ignorant or careless of their consequences. The
girl-Queen, surrounded by her Spanish attendants, spent her time in the
enjoyment of the pleasures congenial to her age. According to Madame de
Motteville,[231] she was strikingly handsome, but rather Austrian than
Spanish in her style of beauty, with an abundance of fair hair which she
wore in ringlets about her face. On her arrival in France she retained
the national costume; and discarding the tapestried chests common at the
period, made use of a pile of cushions as her seat. The Marquise de
Morny (quoted by Madame de Motteville) described her on the occasion of
her own presentation as reclining upon this Moorish sofa in the midst of
her attendants, habited in a dress of green satin embroidered with gold
and silver, with large hanging sleeves looped together at intervals by
diamond buttons; a close ruff, and a small cap of green velvet with a
black heron-feather.[232]

[Illustration: ANNE OF AUSTRIA.]

At once regal and elegant as such a costume must have been, it is
deplorable to contrast it with those which she adopted in after-years,
when the most monstrous caprices were permitted at her Court; and when
it was by no means uncommon to see women of the highest rank, about to
ride on horseback, present themselves in the royal circle in dresses
reaching only to the knee, with their legs encased in tight pantaloons
of velvet, or even in complete _haut-de-chausses;_ while the habitual
attire of the sex was equally _bizarre_ and exaggerated. There were the
_vasquines_ or rollers which encircled the waist and extended the folds
of the petticoats, thus giving additional smallness to the waist; the
_brassards-à-chevrons_ or metallic braces for expanding the sleeves; and
the _affiquet_ of pearls or diamonds coquettishly attached to the left
breast, and entitled the _assassin_. Added to these absurdities there
were, moreover, bows of ribbon, each of which had its appropriate name
and position; the _galant_ was placed on the summit of the head; the
_mignon_ on the heart; the _favori_ under and near the _assassin_; and
the _badin_ on the handle of the fan. Short curls upon the temples were
designated _cavaliers_; ringlets were _garçons_; while a hundred other
inanities of the same description compelled the great ladies of the
period to adopt a slang which was perfectly unintelligible to all save
the initiated; and when we add to these details the well-authenticated
fact that the royal apartments were fumigated with powdered tobacco
(then a recent and costly importation into France), in lieu of the
perfumes which had previously been in use for the same purpose, it will
scarcely be denied that caprice rather than taste dictated the habits of
the Court under Louis XIII.

To revert, however, to the earlier years of Anne of Austria, it would
appear that the troubles of the royal bride did not await her womanhood.
Like Marie de Medicis, she clung to all which appeared to link her to
her distant home, and caused her to forget for a time that it was hers
no longer; and under this impulse it was by no means surprising that she
attached herself with girlish affection to the individuals by whom she
had been followed in her splendid exile; but even as her predecessor had
been compelled to forego the society of her native attendants, so was
Anne of Austria in her turn deprived of the solace of their presence.
With the exception of Doña Estefania, her first waiting-woman, to whom
she was tenderly attached, and who had been about her person from her
infancy, all were dismissed by Marie de Medicis, who, anxious to retain
her authority over the wife of her son, dreaded the influence of Anne's
Spanish followers.

Nor was this her only disappointment. We have already shown with what
eagerness she looked forward to her first meeting with her intended
bridegroom, whose grave but manly beauty so fully realized all her hopes
that, as she ingeniously confessed, she could have loved him tenderly
had he possessed a heart to bestow upon her in return. But she soon
discovered that such was not the case; and that Louis XIII saw in her
nothing more interesting than a Princess who was worthy by her rank and
quality to share with him the throne of France.

This was a sad discovery for a lovely girl of fifteen years of age, who
had anticipated nothing less than devotion on the part of a young
husband by whom she had been so eagerly met on her arrival; nor did she
fail to contrast his coldness with the ill-disguised admiration of many
of his great nobles, and to weep over the wreck of her fondest and
fairest visions. But, young and high-spirited, she struggled against the
isolation of soul to which she was condemned; and probably resented with
more bitterness the coercion to which she was subjected by the iron rule
of her royal mother-in-law than even the coldness of the husband to whom
she had been prepared to give up her whole heart.[233]

Louis, on his side, although the sovereign of a great nation, was also
exposed to privations; merely physical, it is true, but still
sufficiently irritating to increase his natural moroseness and
discontent. While the Maréchal d'Ancre displayed at Court a profusion
and splendour which amounted to insolence, the young King was frequently
without the means of indulging the mere caprices common to his age; but
although he murmured, and even at times appeared to resent the neglect
with which he was treated, he easily consoled himself amid the puerile
sports in which he frittered away his existence; and attended by De
Luynes and his brothers, found constant occupation in waging war against
small birds, and in training their captors. In such pursuits he was
moreover encouraged by the Queen-mother and her favourites; who, anxious
to retain their power, did not make any effort to awaken him to a sense
of what he owed to himself and to the kingdom over which he had been
called upon to rule. The only occasions upon which he appeared to feel
the slightest pleasure in the society of his beautiful young wife was
when he engaged her to share in his rides and hawking-parties, in order
to excite her admiration of his skill, an admiration of which Anne was
lavish, as she trusted by flattering his vanity to awaken his affection;
while she moreover enjoyed, with all the zest of girlhood, so agreeable
an escape from the etiquette and formalities of a Court life.

The treaty of Loudun was no sooner concluded than the revolted nobles
separated, each dissatisfied with the other, and all murmuring at the
insufficiency of the recompense by which their several concessions had
been met. The Prince de Condé, on his convalescence, withdrew to Berry,
which government had been given to him in exchange for that of Guienne;
Sully retired to Poitou, and the Duc de Rohan returned to La Rochelle;
while of all the lately disaffected leaders the Maréchal de Bouillon and
the Duc de Mayenne alone proceeded to Court, in order to claim the
immunities promised in requital of their secession from the interests of
the Prince de Condé. The King and the two Queens were residing at the
Louvre on their arrival, where they had every reason to be satisfied
with their reception; and the Maréchal d'Ancre, who, terrified by the
undisguised hostility of the Parisians, had not ventured to accompany
his royal mistress, no sooner ascertained the return of the two nobles
to the capital than he hastened to make them the most brilliant offers
in the event of their consenting to espouse his interests. Neither the
Maréchal nor the Duke were, however, disposed to second his views, and
only profited by his advances to swell the ranks of his enemies. This
was a task of comparatively slight difficulty, as all classes in the
kingdom considered themselves aggrieved by his unparalleled prosperity;
and thus, ere long, the Duc de Guise was prevailed upon to join the new
cabal, into which it was only further deemed necessary to enlist M. de
Condé. Bouillon, who possessed great influence over the Prince, exerted
himself strenuously to prevent his return to Court, in order to increase
his own consequence in the estimation of the Queen-mother; but his
efforts proved ineffectual, as M. de Condé believed it to be more
compatible with his own interests to effect a reconciliation with the
Crown; and, acting upon this impression, he pledged himself to support
Concini, on condition that he should be appointed chief of the Council
of Finance, and take a share in the government. His proposal was
accepted, and to the great annoyance of M. de Bouillon, the Prince once
more appeared at Court. His reception by the citizens was, however, so
enthusiastic that Marie de Medicis became alarmed, until she was assured
by Richelieu, then the open and zealous ally of the Maréchal d'Ancre,
that the King had nothing to fear from a popularity which would only
tend to render M. de Condé a more efficient ally; an assurance which
afforded so much gratification to the Queen-mother, that she repaid it
by appointing the Bishop of Luçon Almoner to the young Queen, and
shortly afterwards Councillor of State.[234]

Ten days subsequently to the return of M. de Condé to Paris a new
embassy arrived from James I., to renew the negotiation of marriage
between the Prince of Wales and Madame Christine de France, upon which
occasion the Court of Louis XIII displayed all its magnificence,
without, however, eclipsing that of the English nobles to whom the
embassy had been entrusted. The hôtel of the late Queen Marguerite was
prepared for their reception, where they were visited by all the great
nobles and foreign ministers; and finally, on the following Sunday, they
were received in state at the Louvre. Lord Hay (afterwards Earl of
Carlisle) was the accredited ambassador; while Mr. Rich (subsequently
Lord Holland), Goring, and other individuals of mark contributed to
increase the splendour and importance of his mission.

Nothing could be more sumptuous than the spectacle which was presented
by the Louvre upon this occasion. The halls and galleries were alike
thronged by all that was noble and beautiful at the Court of France.
Princes of the Blood, nobles, marshals, and prelates were mingled with
the great ladies of the household in their state dresses, rustling in
silks, velvets, and cloth of gold and silver, and glittering with
diamonds. Amid this galaxy of magnificence the Queen-mother shone
conspicuous. Still remarkable for her stately beauty and dignified
deportment, she had left no means untried to enhance their effect, and
she had been eminently successful. She was attired in a long robe of
amaranth velvet, of which the wide and open sleeves were slashed with
white satin, and looped together by large pearls, save at the wrists and
elbows, where they were fastened by immense brilliants. Her ruff of rich
Alençon lace rose half a foot in height at the back of her neck, whence
it decreased in breadth until it reached her bosom, which was
considerably exposed, according to the fashion of the period. A coronet
of diamonds surmounted her elaborately curled hair, which was drawn
back, so as to exhibit in its full dimensions her broad and lofty brow;
and the most costly jewels were scattered over her whole attire, which
gave back their many-coloured lights at every movement of her person.

The Prince de Joinville, the Ducs de Guise and d'Elboeuf, the Marquises
de Rosny and de Créquy, and M. de Bassompierre, accompanied by a
numerous train of nobles, escorted the English envoys to the palace;
while more than fifty thousand persons crowded the streets through which
the glittering train was compelled to pass.

During the following week Paris was the scene of perpetual gaiety and
splendour. All the Princes and great nobles vied with each other in the
magnificence of the balls, banquets, and other entertainments which were
given in honour of their distinguished guests.[235] Presents of
considerable value were exchanged; and the British Ambassador had every
reason to anticipate the favourable termination of his mission; but
subsequent circumstances compelled him to abstain from seeking a
definite reply.[236]

The arrival of M. de Condé in Paris, and the pledge given by that Prince
to support him with his influence, determined Concini once more to
hazard his own return to the capital under the escort of Bassompierre;
but he found the popular irritation still so great against him, that
when he visited the Prince he was accompanied by a suite of a hundred
horse. His reception by his new ally was, moreover, less cordial than he
had hoped; for Condé had already begun to regret his promise, and to
feel apprehensive that by upholding the interests of the Italian
favourite he should lose his own popularity. He also believed that the
amount of power which he had at length succeeded in securing must render
him independent of such a coalition; and he resolved to seize the
earliest opportunity of impressing upon Concini the unpalatable fact.

This opportunity soon presented itself. On the 14th of August the Prince
gave a banquet to the English envoy, which was attended by all the
principal nobility of the Court, but from which the Maréchal d'Ancre had
been excluded. While the guests were still at table, however, Concini,
on the pretext of paying his respects to Lord Hay, entered the
banqueting-hall, attended by thirty of those gentlemen of his household
whom he arrogantly called his _conios di mille franchi_.[237]

He had no sooner seated himself than Mayenne, Bouillon, and others of
the cabal which had been formed against him proposed that so favourable
an opportunity should not be lost of taking his life, and thus ridding
the country of the incubus by which it had so long been oppressed in the
person of an insolent foreigner; but the project was no sooner
communicated to M. de Condé than he imperatively forbade all violence
beneath his own roof. Meanwhile Concini, although he did not fail to
perceive by what was taking place about him that he had placed himself
in jeopardy by thus braving his enemies, nevertheless maintained the
most perfect self-possession, and was suffered to depart in safety. On
the following morning, however, he received a communication from the
Prince, who, after assuring him that he had experienced great difficulty
in restraining the Princes and nobles into whose presence he had forced
himself on the preceding day from executing summary justice upon him in
order to avenge their several wrongs; and that they had, moreover,
threatened to abandon his own cause should he persist in according his
protection to an individual whom they were resolved to pursue even to
the death, concluded by declaring that it would thenceforward be
impossible for him to maintain the pledge which he had given, and
advising him to lose no time in retiring to Normandy, of which province
he was lieutenant-general.[238]

Although exasperated by the bad faith of M. de Condé, Concini was
nevertheless compelled to follow this interested suggestion; but, before
he left the field open to his enemies, he resolved to strike a parting
blow; and he had accordingly no sooner dismissed the messenger of the
Prince than he proceeded to the Louvre, where, while taking leave of the
Queen-mother, he eagerly impressed upon her that she was alike deceived
by Condé and trifled with by Bouillon, and that all the members of their
faction were agreed to divest her of her authority; an attempt of which
the result could only be averted by the seizure of their persons.[239]

It is probable, however, that, even despite the avowed abandonment of
the Prince de Condé, Concini might have hesitated to quit his post had
not the affair of Picard convinced him that his prosperity had reached
its climax. Even the Queen-mother, indignant as she expressed herself at
the insult to which he had been subjected, betrayed no inclination to
resent it; and so entire was his conviction that his overthrow was at
hand, that there can be no doubt but that thenceforward he began
seriously to meditate a return to his own country.[240]

Nearly at the moment in which the Maréchal d'Ancre was thus unexpectedly
compelled to leave Paris, his untiring enemy the Duc de Longueville made
himself master of the three towns of Péronne, Roye, and Montdidier in
Picardy, which, by the Treaty of Loudun, had been secured to Concini.
Publicly the Princes blamed this violation of the treaty, and exhorted
the Duke to relinquish his conquests; but being in reality delighted
that places of this importance, and, moreover, so immediately in the
neighbourhood of the capital, should be in the possession of one of
their own allies, they privately sent him both men and money to enable
him to retain them.[241]

Meanwhile Marie de Medicis made no effort to compel the restitution of
the captured towns; the insult to which Concini had been subjected by
Picard remained unavenged, and the Italian could no longer conceal from
himself that he had outlived his fortunes. It is scarcely doubtful,
moreover, that, with the superstition common to the period, the
prediction of Luminelli had pressed heavily upon his mind; as from that
period he became anxious to abandon the French Court, and to retire with
his enormous wealth to his native city. It was in vain, however, that he
sought to inspire Leonora with the same desire; in vain that he
represented the prudence of taking the initiative while there was yet
time; the foster-sister of Marie de Medicis peremptorily refused to
leave Paris, alleging that it would be cowardly to abandon her royal
mistress at a period when she was threatened alike by the ambition of
the Prince de Condé and the enmity of De Luynes, whose power over the
mind of the young sovereign was rapidly making itself felt.

At this precise moment a new and grave misfortune tended to augment the
eagerness of the Maréchal d'Ancre to carry out his project. His
daughter, through whose medium he had looked to form an alliance with
some powerful family, and thus to fortify his own position, was taken
dangerously ill, and in a few days breathed her last. His anguish was
ungovernable; and while his wife wept in silence beside the body of her
dead child, he, on the contrary, abandoned himself to the most vehement
exclamations, strangely mingling his expressions of fear for his future
fate with regret for the loss which he had thus sustained.

"Signore," he replied vehemently to Bassompierre, who vainly attempted
to console him, "I am lost; Signore, I am ruined; Signore, I am
miserable. I regret my daughter, and shall do so while I live; but I
could support this affliction did I not see before me the utter ruin of
myself, my wife, my son, and my whole house, in the obstinacy of
Leonora. Were you not aware of my whole history I should perhaps be less
frank, but you know that when I arrived in France, far from owning a
single sou, my debts amounted to eight hundred crowns; now we possess
more than a million in money, with landed property and houses in France,
three hundred thousand crowns at Florence, and a similar sum in Rome. I
do not speak of the fortune accumulated by my wife; but surely we may be
satisfied to exist for the remainder of our lives upon the proceeds of
our past favour. Had you not been well informed as to my previous life I
might seek to disguise it from you, but you cannot have forgotten that
you saw me at Florence steeped in debauchery, frequently in prison, more
than once in exile, generally without resources, and continually lost in
disorder and excess. Here, on the contrary, I have acquired alike
honour, wealth, and favour, and I would fain disappoint my enemies by
leaving the country without disgrace; but the Maréchale is
impracticable; and were it not that I should be guilty of ingratitude in
separating my fortunes from those of a woman to whom I owe all that I
possess, I would forthwith leave the country and secure my own safety
and that of my son." [242]

The allusion made by Concini to the growing ambition of the Prince de
Condé was unfortunately not destitute of foundation; and suspicions were
rapidly gaining ground that he meditated nothing less than a transfer of
the crown of France to his own brow, on the pretext that the marriage of
Henri IV with the Tuscan Princess was invalid, his former wife being
still alive, and his hand, moreover, solemnly pledged to the Marquise de
Verneuil. On more than one occasion, when he had feasted his friends,
their glasses had been emptied amid cries of _Barre à bas_; a toast
which was interpreted as intended to signify the suppression of the
bar-sinister which the shield of Condé bore between its three
_fleurs-de-lis_.[243] Neither Sully, who had recently returned to Court,
nor the Duc de Guise could be induced to join in so criminal a faction;
and the former had no sooner been informed of the dangerous position of
the King than, dissatisfied as he was with the treatment which he had
personally received, he demanded an audience of the young sovereign and
his mother, in order to warn them of their peril. In vain, however, did
Marie, touched by this proof of loyal devotedness, urge him to suggest
a remedy.

"I am no longer in office, Madame," he replied proudly; "and you have
your chosen counsellors about you. I have done my duty, and leave it to
others to do theirs."

He then made his parting obeisance, and had already reached the door of
the apartment, leaving the Queen-mother in a state of agitation and
alarm which she made no effort to disguise, when, suddenly pausing upon
the threshold, he once more turned towards her, saying impressively:

"Sire, and you, Madame, I beg your Majesties to reflect upon what I have
said; my conscience is now at rest. Would to God that you were in the
midst of twelve hundred horse; I can see no other alternative." And
without awaiting any reply, he then withdrew.[244]

The advice of the veteran minister appeared, however, to the friends of
the Queen-mother too dangerous to be followed. France had so recently
been delivered from the horrors of a civil war that it was deemed
inexpedient to provoke its renewal by any hostile demonstration on the
part of the Crown; while, moreover, the popularity of Condé was so
notorious that no doubt could be entertained of his success should the
_ultima ratio regum_ be adopted. His influence was alike powerful with
all classes; the people were unanimous in his cause; the Princes and
great nobles were his zealous adherents; and since his entrance into the
Council as its president, not content with dividing his authority with
the Queen-mother, he had gradually absorbed it in his own person. His
hôtel was crowded by those who formerly thronged the apartments of the
Louvre; all who had demands to make, or remonstrances to offer,
addressed themselves to him only; and thus he had become too dangerous
an enemy to be lightly opposed.[245]

Under these circumstances it appeared impossible to proceed openly
against him, while it was equally essential to deliver the Crown from so
formidable an adversary; his arrest offered the only opportunity of
effecting so desirable a result, but even to accomplish this with safety
was by no means easy. In his own house he was surrounded by friends and
adherents who would have rendered such an attempt useless; and after
mature deliberation it was accordingly agreed that he must be made
prisoner in the Louvre.

Under a specious pretext the Swiss Guards were detained in the great
court of the palace; the Marquis de Thémines[246] undertook to demand
the sword of the Prince, and to secure his person, volunteering at the
same time to procure the assistance of his two sons, and seven or eight
nobles upon whose fidelity he could rely; arms were introduced into one
of the apartments of the Queen-mother in a large chest, which was
understood to contain costly stuffs from Italy; and a number of the
youngest and most distinguished noblemen of the Court, to whom Marie
appealed for support, took a solemn oath of obedience to her behests,
without inquiring into the nature of the service to which they were
thus pledged.

All being in readiness, Bassompierre was awakened at three o'clock in
the morning of the 1st of September by a gentleman of the Queen-mother's
household, and instructed to proceed immediately to the Louvre in
disguise. On his arrival he found Marie only half-dressed, seated
between Mangot and Barbin, and evidently in a state of extraordinary
agitation and excitement. As he entered the apartment she said
hurriedly:

"You are welcome, Bassompierre. You do not know why I have summoned you
so early; I will shortly explain my reason."

Then, rising from her seat, she paced to and fro across the floor for
nearly half an hour, no one venturing to break in upon her reverie.
Suddenly, however, she paused, and beckoning to her companions to follow
her, she entered her private closet; and the hangings no sooner fell
behind the party than, turning once more towards him, she continued with
bitter vehemence:

"I am about to arrest the Prince, together with the Ducs de Vendôme, de
Mayenne, and de Bouillon. Let the Swiss Guards be on the spot by eleven
o'clock as I proceed to the Tuileries, for should I be compelled by the
people to leave Paris, I wish them to accompany me to Nantes. I have
secured my jewels and forty thousand golden crowns, and I shall take my
children with me, if--which I pray God may not be the case, and as I do
not anticipate--I find myself under the necessity of leaving the
capital; for I am resolved to submit to every sort of peril and
inconvenience rather than lose my own authority or endanger that of the
King." [247]

The final arrangements were then discussed, and Marie de Medicis was
left to her own thoughts until the hour of eight, when M. de Thémines
was announced.

"Ha! you are come at length," she exclaimed joyfully; "I was awaiting
you with impatience. The Council is about to open, and it is time that
we were all prepared. Can you depend on those by whom you are
accompanied?"

"They are my sons, Madame."

"Bravely answered!" said Marie forcing a smile, as she extended her
hand, which the Marquis raised to his lips. "Go then, and remember that
the fate of France and of her monarch are in your keeping."

Although surrounded by devoted friends, the Queen-mother was agitated by
a thousand conflicting emotions. She was well aware that her own future
existence as a Queen hung upon the success or failure of her enterprise,
as should the slightest indiscretion on the part of any of her agents
arouse the suspicions of the Prince and induce him to leave the capital,
he had every prospect of obtaining the crown. Moreover, MM. de Créquy
and de Bassompierre, who were in command of the French and Swiss Guards,
and who had received orders to draw up their men in order of battle at
the great gate of the Louvre immediately that the Prince should have
entered, and to arrest him did he attempt to leave the palace, became
alarmed at the responsibility thus thrust upon them, and declined to
comply with these instructions until they had received a warranty to
that effect under the great seal; but this demand having been conceded,
they hesitated no longer.[248] All the precautions which had been taken
nevertheless failed in some degree in their effect, as the Duc de
Mayenne and the Maréchal de Bouillon were apprised by their emissaries
of the unusual movements of the Court, and at once adopted measures of
safety. Bouillon feigned an indisposition, and refused to leave his
hotel, where, after a long interview with the Duke, it was resolved that
Condé should be warned not to trust himself in the power of the
Queen-mother. The Prince, however, who had been lulled into false
security by the specious representations of Barbin, treated their
caution with contempt, being unable to believe that Marie would venture
to attempt any violence towards himself.

"If there be indeed any hostile intention on the part of the Crown," he
said disdainfully, "it probably regards M. de Bouillon, whose restless
spirit excites the alarm of the Queen-mother. Let him look to himself,
if he see fit to do so. Should he be committed to the Bastille my
interests will not suffer."

Angered by his presumption, the two friends made no further protest,
but contented themselves with redoubling their own precautions. Bouillon
retired to Charenton with a strong escort, while the Duc de Mayenne
remained quietly in his hôtel, having made the necessary preparations
for instant flight should such a step become essential to his
safety.[249]

Meanwhile at the Louvre nothing remained to be done but to communicate
to the young King the project which was about to be realized, and to
induce him to sanction it by his countenance; an attempt which offered
little difficulty, the jealousy of Louis having been excited by the
assumed authority of the Prince, and his dissimulating nature being
gratified by this first participation in a state intrigue.

At ten o'clock a great clamour upon the quay near the gate of the palace
attracted the attention of the Queen-mother, who commanded silence, and
in another moment distinct cries of "Long live the Prince!" "Long live
M. de Condé!" were heard in the apartment. Marie de Medicis rose from
her seat and approached an open window, followed by the
Maréchale d'Ancre.

"The Prince is about to open the Council," said Leonora with a bitter
smile.

"Rather say the King of France," replied Marie with a flushed cheek, as
she saw Condé graciously receiving the petitions which were tendered to
him on all sides. "But his royalty shall be like that of the bean;[250]
it shall not last long." [251]

When he alighted at the palace Condé proceeded to the hall of the
Council, which was on the ground-floor; and at the termination of the
sitting ascended, as was his custom, to the apartments of the
Queen-mother, where Louis, who had entered eagerly into the part that
had been assigned to him, and who had just distributed with his own
hands the arms which had been prepared for the followers of M. de
Thémines, met him in the gallery, entered into a cheerful conversation,
and, finally, invited him to join a hawking-party which was to take
place within an hour. Condé, however, whose thoughts were otherwise
engaged, declined to participate in the offered pastime, and the young
King, having accomplished all that had been required of him, accepted
his excuses, and returned to the apartment of his mother. At the same
moment Thémines and his two sons issued from a small passage, and,
approaching the Prince, announced that they had received an order to
arrest him.

"Arrest me!" exclaimed Condé in astonishment. "It is impossible!"

"Such are my instructions," said the Marquis, as he extended his hand to
receive the forfeited sword, while his two sons placed themselves on
each side of the prisoner.

"You are aware that I am the first Prince of the Blood."

"I know, Monseigneur, the respect which is your due," was the reply,
"but I must obey the King."

"I must see their Majesties," persisted the Prince.

"It is impossible. Come, sir, suffer me to conduct you to the apartment
to which I have been directed to escort you."

"How!" vehemently exclaimed Condé, looking round upon the nobles who
were collected in the hall of which he had just reached the entrance,
"is there no one here who has sufficient courage to spare me this
outrage? You, Monsieur," he continued, addressing himself to Du Vair,
"you at least I know to be a man of probity. Did you counsel this
violation of all the solemn promises which have been made to me?"

"I was not consulted upon the subject, Monseigneur," replied the Keeper
of the Seals; "nor shall it be my fault if so grievous an error be not
speedily redeemed. The more brief the folly the better the result."

This imprudent retort was destined to seal the disgrace of the upright
minister without serving the Prince, who, seeing that he had nothing to
anticipate from any demonstration on the part of the assembled nobles,
haughtily desired his captor to conduct him to his allotted prison.[252]
"And when you have done so," he added in a firm voice, as he swept the
apartment with an eye as bright and as steady as though he had not stood
there unarmed and a captive, "you may tell the Queen-mother that she has
anticipated me only by three days, for had she waited beyond that time,
the King would no longer have had a crown upon his head." [253]

The Prince was then conducted by a back staircase to an upper chamber
strongly barred, where he remained guarded by M. de Thémines until he
was conveyed to the Bastille.

The exultation of Marie de Medicis was at its height. She embraced her
son as fervently as though by the imprudence of which she had just been
guilty she had ensured the security of his throne, and received the
congratulations of the courtiers with undisguised delight. "See, Sire,"
she exclaimed, as with one hand resting upon the shoulder of the young
King she advanced to the centre of the great hall, "here is our brave M.
de Thémines, to whom we are so greatly indebted. Can you not offer him a
royal recompense? He is not yet a Marshal of France."

"I salute you, M. le Maréchal," said Louis with regal gravity. "In an
hour I will sign your brevet."

M. de Thémines bowed low, and kissed the hand of the King.

"And I," smiled Marie de Medicis, "present you with a hundred thousand
crowns. Your elder son the Marquis de Thémines is henceforth captain of
my bodyguard, and your younger the Baron de Lauzière equerry of
Monsieur."

Again the captor of M. de Condé bent low and uttered his
acknowledgments.

Low murmurs were heard among the nobles.

"Advance, M. de Montigny," continued Marie, turning graciously towards
an individual who had only just reached the capital, having on his way
provided the Duc de Vendôme with a relay of horses in order to
facilitate his escape. "Sire, the Comte de Montigny was a faithful and
devoted follower of your father. You owe him also some mark of favour."

"M. de Montigny shall be a marshal," said Louis XIII, delighted with his
new and unchecked exhibition of power.

"It would appear that to ask a _bâton_ is to have one on this occasion,"
said M. de Saint-Géran[254] in a low voice to the Marquis de Créquy;
"let us therefore put in our claim."

"With all my heart," replied the Marquis gaily. "The ladies do not
refuse us their smiles, nor the Queen-mother the festivities in her
honour by which we impoverish our estates; why, therefore, should the
King deprive us of our share of the easily-won distinctions of the day?"

So saying, the two courtiers moved a pace nearer to Marie de Medicis,
who did not fail to observe and to comprehend the action.

"Happy is the monarch who sees himself surrounded by loyal subjects and
by faithful friends," pursued the exulting Princess; "your Majesty has
not yet completed the good work so royally commenced?"

"M. de Créquy has already a _bâton_," said Louis, somewhat bewildered by
the new part he was called upon to enact on so large a scale.

"But you have forgotten, Sire, that he is neither duke nor peer."

"I salute you, M. le Duc et Pair," said the young King.

The Marquis acknowledged his new honours, and made way for his
companion.

"Our list of marshals is full, M. de Saint-Géran," said Louis coldly.

The disappointed courtier bowed, and was about to retire, when Marie de
Medicis met his eye, and its expression was far from satisfactory.

"MM. de Praslin and de Saint-Géran have both, nevertheless, merited high
distinction, Sire," she said anxiously. "Your pledge for the future will
suffice, however, as they are both young enough to wait."

"Be it so, Madame," rejoined her son, who was becoming weary of the
rapacity of his loyal subjects and faithful friends. "Gentlemen, your
services shall not be forgotten on the next vacancy."

And thus, as Bassompierre has recorded, did M. de Saint-Géran "extort
the promise" of a _bâton_.

"And you, M. de Bassompierre," exclaimed the Queen-mother, as in
advancing up the hall their Majesties found themselves beside him,
"unlike the others, you have put in no claim."

"Madame," was the dignified reply, "it is not at such a moment as this,
when we have merely done our duty, that we should seek for reward; but I
trust that when by some important service I may deserve to be
remembered, the King will grant me both wealth and honours without any
claim upon my own part."

Louis hesitated for a moment, and then, with a slight bow, passed on;
and he had no sooner entered his private closet, still accompanied by
his mother, than a herald announced in a loud voice that a great public
council would be held on the following day at the meeting of the
Parliament.

It might well be imagined that when she retired Marie de Medicis left
grateful hearts behind her, but such was not the case; lavish as she had
proved upon this occasion, she was far from having satisfied those who
had assisted in the arrest of the Prince, and who did not fail openly to
express their discontent.[255]

During this time the Dowager-Princess of Condé had been apprised of the
arrest of her son; and, maddened by the intelligence, she had
immediately rushed out of her house on foot, and hurried to the Pont
Neuf, crying as she went, "To arms! To arms!"

"It is Madame de Nemours!" shouted the crowd which gathered about her.
"Long live Madame de Nemours!"

"Long live Madame de Nemours!" echoed a voice, which was immediately
recognized as that of the shoemaker Picard, who had, since his insult to
the Maréchal d'Ancre, been the idol of the mob. "Concini has
assassinated the first Prince of the Blood in the Louvre!"

Even this announcement, however, failed in the effect which had been
anticipated by the Princess, whose object was to accomplish the rescue
of her son; for while the respectable citizens hastened to close their
shops and to place their families in safety, the lower orders rushed
towards the hôtel of the Maréchal d'Ancre in the Faubourg St. Germain.
The doors were driven in, furniture and valuables to the amount of two
hundred thousand crowns were destroyed, and lighted torches were applied
to the costly hangings of the apartments, which soon caused the carved
and gilded woodwork to ignite; while a portion of the mob at the same
time attacked the house of Corbinelli his secretary; and soon the two
residences presented only a mass of bare and blackened walls. M. de
Liancourt, the Governor of Paris, opposed his authority in vain; he was
hooted, driven back, and finally compelled to retire. Couriers were
despatched to the Louvre to inform the Queen-mother of the popular
tumult, but no orders were issued in consequence; the counsellors of
Marie de Medicis deeming it desirable that the populace should be
permitted to expend their violence upon the property of Concini, rather
than turn their attention to the rescue of the Prince, until the public
excitement had abated.

The arrest of M. de Condé had alarmed all the leaders of the late
faction, who hastened to secure their own safety. Bouillon, as we have
stated, had already reached Charenton; and the Duc de Vendôme had fled
in his turn on learning that all egress from the Louvre was forbidden,
and that the outlets of the palace were strongly guarded. M. de Mayenne,
who had hitherto remained in the capital, awaiting the progress of
events, followed his example attended by a strong party of his friends.
The Duc de Guise and the Prince de Joinville, alarmed lest they should
be involved in the ruin of Condé through the machinations of Concini,
with whom they were at open feud, hastened to Soissons, in order to join
M. de Mayenne, whither they were shortly followed by the young Count and
his mother; and, finally, the Duc de Nevers, who had indulged in a vain
dream of rendering himself master of the Turkish empire through the
medium of the Greeks, by declaring himself to be a descendant of the
Paleologi, suddenly halted on his way to Germany, and declared himself
determined to join the new faction of the Princes.[256]

These defections created a great void at the Louvre, but the
Queen-mother disdained to express her mortification; and, on the
contrary, affected the most entire confidence in the nobles who still
maintained their adherence to the Crown.

She was well aware that Condé had lost much of his popularity by
abandoning the interests of the people at the Treaty of Loudun, and that
the Protestants similarly resented the selfishness with which he had
sacrificed their cause to his ambition; while she had, moreover,
ascertained that the flight of the Duc de Guise and his brother had been
simply induced by misrepresentation, and that through the medium of the
females of their family they might readily be recalled. These
circumstances gave her courage; and when, on the morning of the 2nd of
September, she came to the council of war, which was held in the
Augustine Monastery and presided over by the Maréchal de Brissac,
accompanied by her two sons, she remarked with undisguised gratification
that more than two thousand nobles were already assembled. When the
King, the Queen-mother, Monsieur, the great dignitaries, and the
ministers had taken their seats, the doors were thrown open to all who
chose to enter; and in a few moments the vast hall was densely crowded.
Silence was then proclaimed; M. de Brissac declared that the session was
open, and the President Jeannin forthwith commenced reading, in the name
of the King, the celebrated declaration explaining the arrest of the
Prince de Condé; proclaiming him a traitor, and, finally, promising a
free pardon to all who had aided and abetted him in his disloyal
practices, on condition of their appearing within fifteen days to
solicit the mercy of his Majesty, in default of which concession they
would be involved in the same accusation of _lèse-majesté_[257]

More than once, during the delivery of this discourse, many of the
nobles who were attached to the faction of the Princes gave utterance to
a suppressed murmur; but it was not until its close that they openly and
vociferously expressed their dissatisfaction. Then, indeed, the hall
became a scene of confusion and uproar which baffles all description;
voice was heard above voice; the clang of weapons as they were struck
against the stone floor sounded ominously; and the terrified young King,
after glancing anxiously towards De Luynes, who returned his look by
another quite as helpless, fastened his gaze upon his mother as if from
her alone he could hope for protection. Nor was his mute appeal made in
vain, for although an expression of anxiety could be traced upon the
noble features of Marie de Medicis, they betrayed no feeling of alarm.
She was pale but calm, and her eyes glanced over the assembly as
steadily as though she herself played no part in the drama which was
enacting before her. For a few moments she remained motionless, as if
absorbed in this momentous scrutiny; but ultimately she turned and
uttered a few words in a low voice to Bassompierre, who was standing
immediately behind her; and she had no sooner done so than, accompanied
by M. de Saint-Géran, the captain of the King's Guard, he left the hall.
In an instant afterwards both officers re-appeared, followed by a
company of halberdiers, who silently took up their position in the rear
of the sovereign and his mother; and the Queen no sooner saw the gleam
of their lances than she caused it to be intimated to the President
Jeannin that she desired to address the meeting.

When her purpose was communicated to the assembly silence was by degrees
restored; and then the clear, full voice of Marie de Medicis was heard
to the furthest recesses of the vast apartment.

"Nobles and gentlemen," she said with a gesture of quiet dignity, "as
Regent of France I have also a right to speak on an occasion of this
importance; for since the death of Henry the Great, my lord and husband,
it is I who have constantly borne the burthen of the Crown. You know,
one and all, how many obstacles I have had to oppose, how many intrigues
to frustrate, how many dangers to overcome. An intestine war throughout
the kingdom; disaffection alike in Paris and in the provinces; and amid
all these struggles for the national welfare, I had to combat a still
more gnawing anxiety. I had to watch over the safety of the King my son,
and that of the other Children of France; and never, gentlemen, for one
hour, did my dignity as a Queen cause me to forget my tenderness as a
mother. I might have been sustained in this daily struggle--I might
have found strong arms and devoted hearts to share in my toils, and in
my endeavours--but that these have too often failed me, I need scarcely
say. Thus, then, if any among you complain of the past, they accuse me,
for the King my son having delegated his authority to myself can have
incurred no blame, nor do I wish to transfer it to another. Every
enterprise which I have undertaken has had the glory and prosperity of
France as its sole aim and object. If I have at times been mistaken in
my estimate of the measures calculated to ensure so desirable a result,
I have at least never persisted in my error; I have surrounded myself
with able and conscientious counsellors; MM. de Villeroy and de Jeannin
were chosen by the most ancient and noble families in the kingdom--the
Cardinal de la Valette and the Bishop of Luçon-Richelieu are my
advisers--the estimable Miron, Provost of Paris, in conjunction with
Barbin represent the _tiers-état_--while as regards the people, I have
ever been careful to mete out justice to them with an equal hand."

Marie paused for an instant, and she had no sooner done so than loud
shouts echoed through the cloistral arches, as the crowd vociferously
and almost unanimously responded, "You have--you have. Long live
the Queen!"

"Nor did I limit the sacred duties of my mission here," pursued the
Regent; "I had work to do without as well as within the kingdom; and it
has not been neglected. I undertook and accomplished a successful
negotiation for the marriage of the King my son with the Infanta of
Spain; our ancient rival England has become our ally; Germany has learnt
to fear us; and the Princes of Italy have bowed their heads before our
triumphant banners. Have I not then, gentlemen, consulted in all things
the honour of France, and increased her power? Have I not compelled
respect where I have failed to secure amity? Can you point to one act of
my authority by which the interests of the nation have been compromised,
or her character tarnished in the eyes of foreign states? I boldly await
your answer. Thus much for our external relations, and now I appeal to
your justice; I ask you with equal confidence if, when within the
kingdom faction after faction was detected and suppressed, I yielded to
any sentiment of undue vengeance? Has not every outbreak of unprovoked
disaffection rather tended to exhibit the forbearance of the King my son
and my own? Need I recall the concessions which we have made to those
who had sought to injure us? Need I ask you to remember that we have
bestowed upon them governments, titles, riches, high offices of state,
and every honour which it was in our power to confer? What more then
could you require or demand, gentlemen? And yet, when the King my son
has pardoned where he might have punished, you have responded by
seditious shouts, by wilful disrespect, and even by attempts against his
royal person! It was time for him to exert his prerogative,
gentlemen,--you have compelled him to assert his power, and yet you
murmur! Now, with God's help, we may hope for internal peace. France
must have lost her place among the European nations had she been longer
permitted to prey upon her own vitals. One individual alone could have
condemned her to this self-slaughter, and we have delivered her from the
peril by committing that individual to the Bastille."

As the Queen-mother uttered these words her voice was drowned in the
universal burst of fury and violence which assailed her on all sides;
nobles, citizens, and people alike yelled forth their discontent, but
the unquenchable spirit of Marie de Medicis did not fail her even at
this terrible moment. Rising with the emergency, she seemed rather to
ride upon the storm than to quail beneath it; her eyes flashed fire, a
red spot burned upon her cheek, and scorn and indignation might be read
upon every feature of her expressive countenance. When the tumult was at
its height she rose haughtily from her seat, and striking her clenched
hand violently upon the table before her, she exclaimed in a tone of
menace: "How now, Counts and Barons! Is it then a perpetual revolt upon
which you have determined? When pardon and peace are frankly offered to
you, and when both should be as welcome to all good Frenchmen as a calm
after a tempest, you reject it? Do you hold words less acceptable than
blows? Do you prefer the sword to the hand of friendship? Be it even as
you will then. If friendship does not content you we will try the sword,
for clemency exerted beyond a certain limit degenerates into weakness.
You shall have no reason to deem your rulers either feeble or cowardly.
You have here and now defied me, and I accept the defiance. Do you
desire to know how I respond? It is thus. In the name of the King my son
and in my own, in the name of my offended dignity and in the name of
France, I, in my turn, declare the most stringent and unsparing war
against rebellion, be it the work of whom it may. Neither high blood nor
ancient title shall suffice to screen a traitor; war, war to the death,
shall be henceforward my battle-cry against the malcontents who are
striving to decimate the nation; and do not delude yourselves with the
belief that I shall be single-handed in the struggle, for I will call
the people to my aid, and the people will maintain the cause of their
sovereigns. We will try our strength at last, and the strife will be a
memorable one; our sons shall relate it with awe and terror to their
descendants, and it will be a tale of shame which will cleave to your
names for centuries to come. Ah, gentlemen, the rule of a woman has
rendered you over-bold; and you have forgotten that there have been
women who have wielded a sceptre of iron. Look to England--is there no
sterner lesson to be learnt there? Or think you that Marie de Medicis
fears to emulate Elizabeth? You have mistaken both yourselves and me. My
forbearance has not hitherto grown out of fear; but the lion sometimes
disdains to struggle with the tiger, not because he misdoubts his own
strength, but because he cares not to lavish it idly. I also feel my
strength, and when the fitting moment comes, it shall be put forth. To
your war-cry I will answer with my war-cry; to your leaders I will
oppose my leaders; and when you shout Condé and Mayenne! I will answer
triumphantly Louis de France and Gaston d'Orléans! Draw the sword of
rebellion if it be too restless to remain in the scabbard; you will not
find me shrink from the flash of steel; and should you take the field I
will be there to meet you. Rally your chiefs; the array can have no
terrors for me, prepared as I am to confront you with some of the best
and the bravest in all France. Deny this if you can, you who seek to
undermine the throne, and to sacrifice the nation to your own ambitious
egotism, and I will confound you with the names of Guise, Montmorency,
Brissac, Sully, Bassompierre, Lesdiguières, Marillac, and Ornano; these,
and many more of the great captains of the age, will peal out my
war-cry, and rally round the threatened throne of their legitimate
sovereign. My son will be in the midst of them; and mark me well,
gentlemen, the struggle shall no sooner have commenced than every
pampered adventurer who has poisoned the ear of the monarch, and steeled
his heart against his mother, shall be crushed under her heel; and
should he dare to raise his head, I will assign to him as his
armour-bearer the executioner of Paris."

Never before had the Regent evinced such an amount of energy; never
before had she so laid bare the secret workings of her soul. The
adherents of the Princes trembled as they discovered with how formidable
an enemy they should be called thenceforward to contend; while the
majority of the nobles who were faithful to the royal cause, and above
all those whose names she had so proudly quoted, uttered loud
acclamations of delight and triumph.

Bewildered by the daring of his mother, Louis once more sought for
support from his favourite, but De Luynes was in no position to afford
it. The allusion to himself with which Marie de Medicis had concluded
her harangue was too palpable to be mistaken, and he felt that should
she maintain her purpose he was lost. Even Richelieu, as if crushed
beneath the impassioned eloquence of the Regent, sat with drooping head
and downcast eyes; and meanwhile Marie herself, after having glanced
defiantly over the assembly, calmly resumed her seat, and desired that
the business of the meeting might proceed.

Before the sitting closed it was determined that the army should be
placed upon the war footing, and that a levy of six thousand Swiss
should immediately be made; and this arrangement completed, the
Queen-mother proceeded to attempt by every means in her power a
reconciliation with the Guises.

For this purpose she despatched four nobles in whom she could confide to
Soissons, to negotiate with the Princes, nor was it long ere they
ascertained that individual jealousy had tended to create considerable
disunion among them; and that each appeared ready, should any plausible
pretext present itself, to abandon the others. Under these circumstances
it was not difficult to convince the Due de Guise and his brother that
no hostile design had ever been entertained against them, and to induce
them to admit their regret at the hasty step which they had taken,
together with their anxiety to redeem it. The Duc de Longueville was
equally ready to effect his reconciliation with the Court; and having
arranged with the royal envoys the terms upon which they consented to
return, they were severally declared innocent of all connivance with the
rebellious Princes. The Duc de Nevers, however, refused to listen to any
compromise with the Crown; and, in defiance of the royal command,
continued his endeavours to possess himself of the fortresses of
Champagne, which were not comprised in his government.[258]

The persevering disaffection of M. de Nevers occasioned the disgrace of
Du Vair, who betrayed an indisposition to proceed against him which so
irritated Marie de Medicis that she induced the King to deprive him of
the seals, and to bestow them upon Mangot, making Richelieu Secretary of
State in his place; that wily prelate having already, by his great
talent and ready expedients, rendered himself almost indispensable to
his royal patroness.

The arrest of the Prince de Condé had restored the self-confidence of
Concini, who shortly afterwards returned to Court and resumed his
position with an arrogance and pretension more undisguised than ever.
The Maréchale, however, had never recovered from the successive shocks
to which she had been subjected by the death of her child and the
destruction of her house; but had fallen into a state of discouragement
and melancholy which threatened her reason.[259] For days she shut
herself up in her apartments, refusing to receive the most intimate of
her friends, and complaining that she was bewitched by those who looked
at her.[260] Her domestic misery was, moreover, embittered by the public
hatred, of which, in conjunction with her husband, she had become more
than ever the object. It would appear that the injury already inflicted
upon the Italian favourites had stimulated rather than satiated the
detestation of the people for both of them. Every grievance under which
the lower orders groaned was attributed to the influence of Concini and
his wife; they were accused of inciting the Queen-mother to the acts of
profusion by which the nation was impoverished; while every
disappointment, misfortune, or act of oppression was traced to the same
cause. Many affected to believe that Marie was the victim of sorcery,
and that such was the real source of the influence of Leonora; and thus
the heart-broken mother and unhappy wife, whose morbid imagination had
caused her to consider her trials as the result of magical arts, was
herself accused of having employed them against her royal
benefactress.[261]

The nomination of Richelieu as Secretary of State had been effected
through the influence of Concini, who in vain endeavoured to persuade
him to resign the bishopric of Luçon, as incompatible with his new
duties. The astute prelate had more extended views than those of his
patron; nor was it long ere he succeeded in arousing the jealousy of the
Maréchal, and in convincing him, when too late, that he had, while
endeavouring to further his own fortunes, only raised up a more
dangerous and potent enemy than any to whom he had hitherto been
opposed. Richelieu had no sooner joined the ministry than he made
advances to the ancient allies of Henri IV, whom he regarded as the true
friends of France; and for the purpose of conciliating those whose
support he deemed most essential to the welfare of the kingdom, he
hastened to despatch ambassadors to the Courts of England, Holland, and
Germany, who were instructed to explain to the several monarchs to whom
they were accredited the reasons which had induced Louis XIII to arrest
the Prince de Condé, and to assure them that the measures adopted by the
French Court were not induced, as had been falsely represented, by any
desire to conciliate either Rome or Spain. To this assurance he
subjoined a rapid synopsis of the means employed by the Queen-mother to
ensure the peace of the kingdom, and the efforts made by the Prince to
disturb it; and, finally, he recapitulated the numerous alliances which
had taken place between the royal families of France and Spain during
several centuries as an explanation of the close friendship which
existed between the two countries.[262] Meanwhile considerable
difficulty was experienced in the equipment of the army which had been
raised. The royal treasury was exhausted, and in several provinces the
revolted nobles had possessed themselves of the public monies; financial
edicts were issued which created fresh murmurs among the citizens; the
Princes assumed an attitude of stern and steady defiance; and the year
1616 closed amid apprehension, disaffection, and mistrust.

FOOTNOTES:

[196] Armand Jean du Plessis, afterwards the celebrated Cardinal de
Richelieu, was the third son of François du Plessis, Seigneur de
Richelieu, Knight of the Orders of the King, and Grand Provost of
France. He was born in Paris, on the 5th of September 1585; and having
been educated with great care, became an accomplished scholar. At the
age of twenty-two years he was received as a member of the Sorbonne; and
having obtained a dispensation from Paul V for the bishopric of Luçon,
was consecrated at Rome by the Cardinal de Givry, in 1607. On his return
to France he was introduced to the notice of Marie de Medicis by the
Marquise de Guercheville and the Maréchal d'Ancre.

[197] Bassompierre, _Mém_. p. 96.

[198] Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mère et du Fils_, vol. i. p. 334.

[199] Continuation of Mézeray. _Hist. de France_.

[200] _Vie du Duc d'Epernon_, book iii.

[201] Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 439, 440. Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 98, 99.
D'Estrées, _Mém_. p. 408.

[202] Nicolas Le Jay, Baron de Tilly, etc., Keeper of the Seals, and
First President of the Parliament of Paris. He rendered important
services both to Henri IV and Louis XIII, and acquired great celebrity
as a learned scholar and an upright minister. He died in 1640.

[203] Richelieu, _Mém_. book vi. pp. 268-272.

[204] Matthieu, _Hist, des Derniers Troubles_, p. 550.

[205] Fontenay-Mareuil, _Mém_. pp. 290-298.

[206] Henri, Duc de la Ferté de Sénectère, Comte de Saint-Pol et de
Châteauneuf, Vicomte de Lestrange et de Cheylard, Baron de Boulogne et
de Privas, Seigneur de Saint-Marsal, de Ligny, de Dangu, de Précy, etc.

[207] Sismondi, vol. xxii. p. 348.

[208] Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 101, 102. Le Vassor, vol. i. p. 464.

[209] The Duque d'Usseda was the son of the Duque de Lerma.

[210] Sismondi, vol. xxii. p. 351.

[211] Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 352-354.

[212] _Mercure Français,_ 1615. De Rohan, _Mém_. book i. Mézeray, vol.
xi. pp. 105, 106.

[213] Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 498, 499. _Vie du Duc d'Epernon_, book vii.
_Mercure Français_, 1616. Bassompierre, _Mém_. p. 110.

[214] Mademoiselle d'Entragues, who had endeavoured to compel
Bassompierre to fulfil the promise of marriage which he had made to her.

[215] The colonel-generalship of the Swiss Guards.

[216] The Princesse de Conti, whom he privately married.

[217] The Cardinal de Richelieu, who was exasperated at his marriage,
and through whose agency Bassompierre incurred his subsequent disgrace
and long imprisonment in the Bastille.

[218] Rambure, MS. _Mém_. vol. vi. pp. 380-386.

[219] Conference of Loudun at the close of the _Mém_. of Philippeau de
Pontchartrain, vol. vii. p, 315.

[220] Richelieu, _Mém_. vol. vii. p. 287. Le Vassor, vol. i. p. 450.

[221] Le Vassor, vol. i. p. 509. Richelieu, _Mém_. book vii. p. 288.
Pontchartrain, _Conférence de Loudun,_ p. 406. Rohan, _Mém_. p. 134.
D'Estrées, _Mém_. p. 411.

[222] Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mère et du Fils_, vol. ii. p. 14.

[223] Sismondi, vol. xxii. p. 361.

[224] Le Vassor, vol. i. p. 514.

[225] D'Estrées, _Mém_. p. 411.

[226] Sismondi, vol. xxii. p. 363.

[227] Claude Mangot, President of the Parliament of Bordeaux, and
Assistant-Secretary of State.

[228] Pierre Brulart, Seigneur de Puisieux, son of Nicolas Brulart,
Seigneur de Sillery et de Puisieux en Champagne, Chancellor of France,
was Secretary of State. In 1622 he took Montpellier, and died in 1640.

[229] M. Barbin was Comptroller of the Household of the Queen-mother. "A
man of little consequence," says Philippeau de Pontchartrain; "but
upright, and well versed in business."

[230] Rohan, _Mém_. book i. _Mém. de la Régence de Marie de Medicis_.

[231] Françoise Bertaut, Dame de Motteville, was the daughter of Pierre
Bertaut, Gentleman in ordinary of the Bedchamber, and of Louise Bessin
de Mathonville, of the Spanish family of Saldaña. At the age of fifteen
she married Nicolas Langlois, Seigneur de Motteville, a man already
advanced in years, but with whom she lived happy until 1641, when she
was left a widow with a very slender jointure. Two years subsequently,
at the age of twenty-two, she entered the household of Anne of Austria,
rather as a personal friend than as an official attendant; a post which
she retained for many years with honour, her sweetness of disposition
and total absence of ambition causing her to be respected by all
parties. She was present at the death of her royal mistress, who, by a
bequest of ten thousand crowns, enabled her to quit the Court, and to
devote her whole attention to the revision of her well-known Memoirs.
Intimately acquainted with Mesdames de la Fayette and de Sévigné, she
for some time maintained a constant intercourse with both; but on the
termination of her self-imposed task she retired to the convent of Ste.
Marie de Chaillot, where she died on the 29th of December 1689.

[232] Motteville, _Mém_, édition Petitot, vol. i. pp. 336, 337.

[233] Motteville, _Mém_. vol. i. p. 337.

[234] Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. iii, 112. Sismondi, vol. xxii. p. 365.

[235] Matthieu, _Hist. des Derniers Troubles_, book iii. p. 577.

[236] Bassompierre, _Mém_. pp. 113, 114.

[237] The Maréchal d'Ancre had formed a large establishment by engaging
in his service a number of impoverished French nobles, whose necessities
had induced them to accept a thousand livres a year, and to submit to
the insults which were heaped upon them by their low-born patron.

[238] Bassompierre. _Mém_. p. 114. D'Estrées, _Mém_. p. 413. Richelieu,
_Hist. de la Mère et du Fils_, vol. ii. p. 57.

[239] Rohan, _Mém_. p. 141.

[240] Le Vassor, vol. i. p. 514.

[241] Sismondi, vol. xxii. p. 371, 372. D'Estrées, _Mém_. p. 412.
Bassompierre, _Mém_. p. 114. Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 113, 114.

[242] Bassompierre, _Mém_. pp. 121, 122.

[243] Richelieu, _Mém_. book vii. p. 333. Fontenay-Mareuil, pp.
338-358.

[244] Richelieu, _Mém_. book vii. p. 326.

[245] Sismondi, vol. xxii. p. 374.

[246] Ponce de Lauzière, Marquis de Thémines, Sénéchal de Quercy, and
subsequently Maréchal de France.

[247] Bassompierre, _Mém_. p. 117.

[248] Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 375, 376.

[249] Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 541, 542. _Mém. de la Régence de Marie de
Medicis_.

[250] On Twelfth-Night in France a bean is introduced into the cake, and
the person selecting the slice in which it has been concealed is elected
King for the evening.

[251] Bassompierre, _Mém_. p. 117.

[252] Rohan, _Mém_. p. 141. Fontenay-Mareuil, p. 350. D'Estrées, p. 414.
Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 542, 543. Brienne, _Mém_. vol. i. pp. 315, 316.

[253] Manuscript Memoirs of the Cardinal de Richelieu in the archives of
the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

[254] M. de Saint-Géran was an ensign of the gendarmes of the King's
bodyguard, and one of the nobles who were known by the soubriquet of
_The Seventeen_, among whom were the Marquis de Créquy and Bassompierre.
He was a devoted ally of the Duc de Sully.

[255] Bassompierre, _Mém_. p. 118. Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 378, 379.
Richelieu, _Mém_. book vii. p. 335.

[256] Richelieu, _Mém_. book vii. p. 335.

[257] Unpublished _Mém_. of Richelieu in the archives of the Foreign
Office.

[258] Richelieu, _Mém_. book vii. p. 359.

[259] Unpublished _Mém_. of Richelieu.

[260] Richelieu, _Mém_. book vii. p. 368. Fontenay-Mareuil, p. 361.

[261] Fontenay-Mareuil, book iii. p. 369.

[262] Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 387, 388.



CHAPTER IX

1617

The royal forces march against the insurgent Princes--Indignities
offered to the young sovereign--Louis XIII and his favourite--Arrogance
of the Maréchal d'Ancre--Indignation of the King--Confiscation of the
property of the rebel Princes--Household of Louis XIII--Cabal of De
Luynes--Infatuation of the Maréchal d'Ancre--An evil counsellor--Marie
de Medicis resolves to withdraw from the Government, but is
dissuaded from her purpose--Popular discontent--Precautions of
Concini--Alarm of Louis XIII--The Duc de Nevers is declared guilty of
_Use-majesté_--Firmness of the Queen-mother--Insolence of Concini and
Richelieu--Condé is refused permission to justify himself--Success of
the royal forces--Louis XIII consents to the arrest of the Maréchal
d'Ancre--Bassompierre warns Marie de Medicis of her danger--She
disregards the warning--Concini and Leonora prepare to leave France--Old
grievances renewed--A diplomatic Janus--Blindness of Marie and her
ministers--A new conspirator--How to be made a marshal--Incaution of De
Luynes--Treachery of Richelieu--A narrow escape--A morning
mass--Singular position of the Court--Assassination of Concini--Public
rejoicings--Imprisonment of the Queen-mother--Barbin is sent to the
Bastille--The seals are restored to Du Vair--A royal reception--Anguish
of Marie de Medicis--She demands to see the King, and is refused--Her
isolation--A Queen and her favourite--A mother and her son--Arrest of
Madame d'Ancre--The Crown jewels--Political pillage--The Maréchale in
the Bastille.

In the month of January the Comte d'Auvergne, who had recently been
liberated from the Bastille, was despatched at the head of fourteen
thousand men against the insurgent Princes; and his departure was made a
pretext for depriving the young King of the gentlemen of his household
and of his bodyguard, an insult which he deeply although silently
resented. He had been attacked in the November of the preceding year by
an indisposition which for a time had threatened the most serious
consequences, and from whose latent effects he had not yet recovered. As
time wore on, moreover, he was becoming more and more weary of the
insignificance to which he was reduced by the delegated authority of his
mother; and had easily suffered himself to be persuaded by De Luynes
that her repeated offers to resign it had merely been designed to make
him feel the necessity of her assistance. As we have already shown,
Louis XIII derived little pleasure from the society of his young and
lovely wife; he made no friends; and thus he was flung entirely into the
power of his wily favourite, who, aware that the King could hate,
although he could not love, was unremitting in his endeavours to excite
him against Marie de Medicis and her favourite. The infatuated Concini
seconded his efforts but too well; for, unable to bear his fortunes
meekly, he paraded his riches and his power with an insolence which
tended to justify the aversion of his enemies. On one occasion, shortly
after the dismemberment of his little Court, the monarch of France
having refused to join a hunting-party organized by the Queen-mother,
found himself entirely deserted save by De Luynes and a single valet;
and overcome by mortification and melancholy, he leant his head upon his
hand and wept bitterly. For some time not a sound was heard in the
Louvre save the soughing of the wind through the tall trees of the
palace-garden, and the measured tread of the sentinels, when suddenly a
tumult arose in the great court; the trampling of horses, the voices of
men, and the clashing of weapons were blent together; and dashing away
his tears, Louis desired his favourite to ascertain the cause of the
disturbance.

"It is the Maréchal d'Ancre, Sire, who has just alighted," said De
Luynes as he approached the window.

In a few minutes the Italian was announced, and entered the royal
apartment followed by a train of forty gentlemen all magnificently
attired. At this spectacle Louis started from his seat; and with a
bitter smile inquired of the arrogant Marquis his motive for thus
parading before his sovereign a state which could only be intended as a
satire upon his own privations.

To this question the vainglorious adventurer replied in a tone of
affected sympathy and patronage which festered in the heart of the young
King; assuring him that his followers were at his own cost, and not at
that of the state; and concluding his explanation by an offer of
pecuniary aid, and a company of his regiment of Bussy-Zamet, which he
had just brought from Normandy. Justly incensed by such an insult, Louis
commanded him instantly to quit his presence; and he had no sooner
withdrawn, followed by his glittering retinue, than the young monarch
sank back upon his seat, and uttered the most bitter complaints of the
affront to which he had been subjected.[263]

"And to this, Sire," said De Luynes, as he stood beside his royal
master--"to this insult, which is but the precursor of many others, you
have been subjected by the Queen-mother."

"I will revenge myself!" exclaimed Louis with a sudden assumption of
dignity.

"And how?" demanded the favourite emphatically. "You are called a King,
but where are your great nobles? where are the officers of your
household? where are your barons? So many princes, so many powers.
France has no longer a King."

"And my people?" shouted the excited youth.

"You have no people. You are a mere puppet in the hands of an ambitious
woman and an unprincipled adventurer."

"A puppet!" echoed Louis haughtily. "Do I not wear the crown of France?"

"So did Charles IX," was the unmoved reply; "yet he died to make way for
Henri III. Concini and his wife, Sire, come from the same country as
Catherine de Medicis. Isabeau de Bavière was a mother, yet she preferred
her lover to her son." [264]

"Enough, enough, Sir," said Louis, clutching the hilt of his sword; "I
will hear no more, lest it should make me mad!"

De Luynes bowed in silence; he knew that the poisonous seed was sown,
and he was content to wait until it should germinate.

The pecuniary difficulties of the kingdom exercised no influence over
the festivities of the Court; balls, banquets, and comedies took place
in rapid succession; and the young Queen danced in a ballet which was
the admiration of all the spectators; an example which was followed by
the nobles of the royal household.[265] Still, however, it was necessary
to recruit the national treasury; and, accordingly, on the 10th of March
a declaration was published by which the King confiscated all the
property of the disaffected Princes, and made it forfeit to the Crown;
while at the same time three separate bodies of troops attacked the
rebels with complete success, and the royal arms were everywhere
triumphant, when intelligence was forwarded to their leaders from the
capital which induced an immediate cessation of hostilities.[266]

We have seen the effect of the insolence of Concini, and the insidious
inferences of De Luynes, upon the mind of the young King, who had only
six months previously been taught a lesson of dissimulation on the
occasion of the arrest of Condé; and consequently it can scarcely be
subject of surprise that, wounded to the heart's core, he was easily
persuaded to exert in his own cause the subtlety which he had evinced at
the bidding of another. He was now between fifteen and sixteen years of
age, and was deeply imbued by the idea that he possessed an unlimited
control alike over the properties, the liberty, the honour, and the
lives of his subjects; but he was still utterly incapable of fulfilling
his duties as a sovereign. His conceptions of right and wrong were
confused and unstable; and he willingly listened to the advice of those
whose counsels flattered his selfishness and his resentment. De Luynes
had skilfully availed himself of this weakness; and as he was
all-powerful with his suspicious and saturnine master, who saw in every
one by whom he was approached either an enemy to be opposed, or a spy to
be deceived, he was careful to introduce to him none save individuals
whose insignificance rendered them incapable of interfering with his own
interests, and who might be dismissed without comment or danger whenever
he should deem their absence desirable. Against this arrangement neither
the Queen-mother nor her ministers entered any protest. Louis truly was,
as his favourite had so insolently asserted, a mere puppet in their
hands; and the consequence of this undignified neglect was fatal to the
intellectual progress of the young sovereign. On the pretext of
requiring assistance in training the royal falcons, De Luynes had
presented to Louis two young nobles, MM. du Tronçon and de Marcillac,
men of good birth, but who had become dishonoured by their own vices;
the former being accused of having betrayed his master, and the latter
his sisters in order to enrich himself;[267] facts of which the
favourite was, however, careful that the King should remain ignorant.

In addition to these disreputable adventurers, De Luynes also
introduced to the intimacy of his royal patron Déageant,[268] the
principal clerk of Barbin, whom he had won over by promises of
aggrandizement should he succeed in effecting the disgrace of Concini,
which, as a natural consequence, must also involve that of his master;
and, finally, a private soldier, and one of the gardeners of the palace.
All these persons were instructed to excite the suspicions of the King
against his mother and her ministers, a task in which it was by no means
difficult to succeed; particularly when the treacherous Déageant had
placed in his hands a number of forged letters, wherein Barbin, at the
pretended instigation of Concini, was supposed to entertain a design
against his life, in order not only to prolong the authority of the
Queen-mother, but also to ensure the crown to her second and favourite
son, Gaston d'Orléans.[269]

Skilfully as De Luynes conducted this affair, and despite the natural
dissimulation of Louis XIII, the reiterated assertions and cautions of
his familiar associates did not fail to produce an involuntary effect
upon his manner and deportment which aroused the suspicions of the
Italian; who, with an infatuation almost incredible, instead of
endeavouring to conciliate the young King, and to render himself less
obnoxious to the people, resolved to make all bow before him, and to
break the stubborn spirits that he failed to bend. In this desperate and
insane policy he was, moreover, seconded by the counsels of Barbin,
whose impetuous temper and anxiety to secure his own safety alike urged
him to support any measure which promised to maintain the government in
the hands of Marie de Medicis and her favourite, in whose ruin he could
not fail to be involved. So intemperately, indeed, did he pursue his
purpose, that even Marie herself became alarmed; her most faithful
adherents were absent with the army, while she had daily evidence of the
activity of her enemies; and more than once at this period she declared
her determination to withdraw from all participation in state affairs,
and to resign her delegated authority, in order that her son might rule
as he saw fit. From this purpose she was, however, constantly dissuaded
by Barbin. "Madame," he said on one occasion when the Queen-mother
appeared more than ever resolved to follow out her determination, "if
you once abandon the administration of government you will cut the
throats of your children. Should you cease to rule they will be utterly
lost." [270]

No wonder that her tenderness as a mother, joined to her ambition as a
Queen, induced Marie de Medicis to yield to the representations of one
of her most trusted counsellors, even while the cloud was deepening
around her. As the great nobles murmured at the insolence and tyranny
of the audacious Italian, their murmurs were echoed by the curses of the
people; and in every murmur and in every curse the name of the
Queen-mother was coupled with that of Concini and his wife. Even the
Maréchal himself at length betrayed tokens of alarm; he never ventured
to traverse the streets of Paris without a numerous retinue, and even so
attended he cowered beneath the menacing looks and gestures which he
encountered on all sides. Again and again he urged Leonora to leave
France; but he urged in vain; and finally he resolved to take measures
for securing a safe retreat in his government of Normandy, should he be
compelled to escape from the capital. As a preliminary and important
step towards the accomplishment of this purpose, he caused the
fortifications of Quilleboeuf to be put into a state of perfect repair,
and endeavoured to purchase the governments of several other places upon
the Loire and the Seine; which, had he been enabled to carry out his
object, could not have failed to render him independent of the royal
authority. He also lavished large sums on every side, in order to secure
partisans; and so excited the apprehensions of the citizens that bitter
complaints were made, and threats uttered against himself, his royal
mistress, and the new ministry.

All these, many of which had been fomented by themselves, were
faithfully reported by De Luynes and his agents to the young King, to
whom they pointed out the probability of a general insurrection.

"What is to be done?" exclaimed Louis on one occasion; "the Maréchal
d'Ancre has, as it would seem, undertaken the ruin of my kingdom, and
yet I dare not expostulate with my mother, for I cannot encounter
her rage."

This puerile avowal decided the measures of the confederates; and ere
long they succeeded in convincing the King that it would be quite
possible to accomplish the overthrow of Concini without exposing himself
to the anger which he dreaded.

On the 17th of January a royal declaration was confirmed by the
Parliament against the Duc de Nevers, who, although not yet in open
revolt, was condemned as guilty of rebellion and _lèse-majesté_; and
this premature act of severity caused general discontent throughout the
capital. In vain did his sister the Dowager Duchess of Longueville and
Bentivoglio the Papal Nuncio endeavour to effect his reconciliation with
the Court. At the instigation of Richelieu, Concini, and Barbin, Marie
de Medicis imperiously refused to revoke, the sentence.

"The period of forbearance is gone by," she said coldly in reply to the
persevering representations of the prelate. "Indulgence has proved
ineffectual hitherto; and it has consequently become imperative upon the
King to adopt more rigorous measures. These gentlemen are enacting the
petty sovereigns in their respective governments, but I shall take steps
to repress their insolence. Things have now been pushed to extremity;
and we must either crush these rebellious and restless spirits, or
permit the royal authority to be wrested from the sovereign."

Still, aware of the fatal consequences which must result from the
uncompromising condemnation of one of the first Princes in the land,
Bentivoglio would not be discouraged; and on retiring from the presence
of the Queen-mother he reiterated his expostulations to Concini and
Richelieu. With them, however, the zealous Nuncio achieved no
better success.

"His Majesty," said the Italian Marshal haughtily, "will ere long
possess an army of eighty thousand infantry and four thousand horse; the
Comte de Schomberg[271] has received an order to import experienced
troops from Germany; and I have determined to raise five thousand men at
my own cost; being resolved to teach the French people how all the
faithful servants of the Crown should feel it their duty to act on such
an emergency." [272]

[Illustration: MARSHAL SCHOMBERG]

The new Secretary of State followed in the track of his patron, and
with equal explicitness: "The King, Monseigneur," he replied to the
appeal of the Nuncio, "is resolved to be the ruler of his own nation;
and his Majesty trusts, moreover, that should the Duc de Nevers and the
other Princes openly take up arms, the Pope will excommunicate them as
rebels to their sovereign." [273]

In addition to the discontent created among the people by this
ill-judged pertinacity on the part of Marie and her Government, a new
cause of disaffection was elicited by the harshness with which the
Queen-mother refused to comply with the demand made by the two
Princesses of Condé, that the Prince should either be released from the
Bastille, or put upon his trial, in order that he might prove his
innocence of the crime of which he was accused. Compliance with this
request would have placed Marie and her ministers in a position of such
difficulty and danger that it was, moreover, refused with an abruptness
which not only betrayed their alarm, but which also tended still further
to aggravate the irritation of his friends; and thus at a moment when
the interests of the young King required that none but conciliatory
measures should be adopted, the reckless ambition of a few individuals
threatened to shake the very foundations of his throne, and to reduce
the nation to a state of anarchy and convulsion.

The time was ripe for the project of De Luynes. The royal forces were
everywhere victorious against the insurgent nobles; and Concini openly
attributed to his own counsels a success which promised to make him
all-powerful at Court.

"You see, Sire," said the favourite, "that this arrogant Italian, not
content with insulting your royal person, also claims the merit due to
your brave army, and to your faithful generals. Will you continue to
suffer this presumption to degrade you in the eyes of your people, and
to undermine your authority over your barons? Take the reins of
government into your own hands, and prove that you are a worthy
descendant of St. Louis. Reform the Government, and you will soon
restore tranquillity to France; but do not any longer submit to see a
base-born foreigner openly play the sovereign at your very Court."

"Show me the means of doing this," was the sullen reply; "I am as
anxious as yourself to escape my present state of slavery. Devise some
sure method of ridding me of the thrall to which I have been so long
condemned, and I will second your designs as earnestly as you can
decide them."

"You have but to assert yourself, Sire, and to exert your authority."

"Were I to do so," retorted Louis, "I should only incur the hatred and
ill-offices of my mother, for I should forthwith visit my vengeance upon
her favourite; but we have had brawls enough in France, and I am weary
of all these conflicting murmurs. Induce the Maréchal and his wife to
quit the country; let them carry away all their wealth, and even bribe
them, by new gifts should it be necessary. Impoverished as she is,
France will still be able to find a few thousand crowns with which to
purchase their departure."

Although this extraordinary leniency by no means fulfilled the wishes of
De Luynes, he dared not venture further at the moment; and he
accordingly induced the Bishop of Carcassonne to propose to the
Queen-mother that she should herself suggest the return of Concini and
Leonora to Italy. A year or two previously Marie de Medicis would have
repelled such a proposition with anger and impatience, but she had begun
to feel that her own authority had been invaded by the Maréchal; and she
consented to act upon the advice of the prelate.

Heart-stricken by misfortune, the Maréchale listened without one
expostulation to the order of her royal foster-sister; her ambition had
long been crushed, and she pined for rest. Aware, moreover, that by
obeying the wishes of the Queen-mother she should also fulfil those of
her husband, she promised immediate compliance with the will of Marie,
and forthwith commenced the necessary preparations.

This unqualified acquiescence in the pleasure of the Queen did not,
however, satisfy the views of De Luynes, who could not brook that the
immense wealth of the Maréchal d'Ancre should pass into other hands than
his own; and he consequently laboured to impress upon the King that the
apparent obedience of Concini was a mere subterfuge, as he publicly
boasted that France contained not a single individual who would dare to
attempt anything to his prejudice.

"Convince him to the contrary, Sire," said one of his confidential
friends to the young monarch. "Declare to the Queen-mother your
determination to be governed no longer in your own kingdom, although you
are still willing to be guided by her advice; and then command the
instant departure of her dissimulating favourites. Do this, and you will
not fail to be obeyed."

"Be not misled, Sire," said De Luynes in his turn, when this officious
but well-meaning counsellor had withdrawn; "your Majesty will not be
obeyed so readily as many would lead you to anticipate. Concini is too
rapacious willingly to leave the country while there remains one jewel
to be filched from your royal crown; and he is too ambitious to abandon
without a struggle the factitious power which he has been permitted to
exert." [274]

"What is to be done then, if the Italian refuses to quit France? I am in
no position to compel his obedience, nor am I inclined to issue an
order which I cannot enforce."

"Sire," said De Luynes approaching the monarch, the querulousness of
whose manner warned him that unless he caused him to fear for his
personal safety Louis would rather retire from the struggle than brave
the anger of his mother, of whom he even now stood as much in awe as he
had done during his childhood, "I see that the moment is at length come
in which I must peril my own security in order to ensure that of your
Majesty. You have no longer an alternative if you desire to escape the
machinations of the Maréchal d'Ancre. I have sure information that an
attempt is about to be made to seize your person, and to take you out of
the country."

"You rave, De Luynes!" exclaimed Louis, whose cheeks blanched at this
unexpected announcement.

"Would that I did, Sire," was the reply; "but should you not adopt
immediate measures for circumventing the traitor whom I have denounced
to you at the hazard of my own life, you will find that I have only too
much foundation for the assertion that I have made."

"In that case," vehemently retorted the young King, grasping the hilt of
his sword, "it is indeed time that France should recognize her
legitimate ruler, and that her monarch won his golden spurs. I will
leave Paris, and place myself at the head of my army."

"Concini will then remain in undisputed possession of the capital,"
remarked De Luynes coldly.

"What is my alternative, Albert?" demanded Louis, utterly discouraged.
"Name it, and I will no sooner have become in fact as well as name the
sovereign of France than you shall receive the _bâton_ of a marshal,"

"Commit M. d'Ancre to the Bastille, Sire. It is difficult to conspire
within the gates of that fortress."

"Where shall I find an individual hardy enough to undertake such an
enterprise?"

"I will present him to your Majesty within an hour, Sire."

"So be it, M. le Maréchal," said Louis as he turned away. "My mother had
the courage to provide a lodging for the first Prince of the Blood in
the same prison, and I do not see why I should shrink from compelling
him to share his dungeon with the husband of Leonora Galigaï."

While this plot was forming in the closet of the young King, Marie de
Medicis was warned on her side that should she not adopt the most
stringent measures to counteract the intrigues of De Luynes, she would
soon lose all her authority over the mind of her son, who had latterly
betrayed increased impatience of her control; and who was evidently
desirous to emancipate himself from the thraldom to which he had
hitherto so patiently submitted. Bassompierre among others, with his
usual frankness, replied to his royal mistress, when she urged him to
declare his sentiments upon the subject: "You have been well advised,
Madame; you do not sufficiently consider your own interests; and one of
these days the King will be taken from beneath your wing. His adherents
have commenced by exciting him against your friends, and ere long they
will excite him against yourself. Your authority is only precarious, and
must cease whenever such may be the will of the sovereign. He will be
easily persuaded to annul it, for we know how eagerly youth pants for
power; and should his Majesty see fit one day to remove to St. Germain,
and to command his principal officers, both Frenchmen and foreigners, no
longer to recognize your rule, what will be your position? Even I
myself, whose devotion to your Majesty is above suspicion, should be
compelled to take my leave, humbly entreating your permission to obey
the orders of the King. Judge therefore, Madame, if such must inevitably
be the case with those who are deeply attached to your royal person,
what may be the bearing of the rest. You would find yourself with your
hands empty after a long regency."

Marie, however, refused to be convinced. She had become so habituated to
the passive obedience of her son that she could not bring herself to
believe that he would ever venture to resist her will; and thus she
rejected the wholesome advice of those who really desired her own
welfare and that of the country; and increased the exasperation of Louis
and his followers by lavishing upon Concini and his wife the most costly
presents, in order to reconcile them to their enforced separation from
herself.[275]

The profuse liberality of the Queen-mother to her favourites sealed
their death-warrant, as every increase of their already almost fabulous
wealth only strengthened the determination of De Luynes to build up his
own fortunes upon the ruin of those of his detested enemy; but after the
first burst of resolution which we have recorded, Louis had once more
relapsed into vacillation and inertness. He still wept, but he no longer
threatened; and it became necessary yet further to excite his
indignation and hatred of Concini, in order to induce him to follow up
the design which he had so eagerly formed against his liberty.

Means were not wanting. The young King was reminded by those about him
of the niggardly spirit in which the Italian had supplied his wants
during his boyhood, after having obtained the sanction of the Regent to
regulate the expenses of his little Court. How often he had been
compelled to ask as a favour that which was his own by right, while
Concini was himself daily risking thousands of pistoles at the
gaming-table, all of which had been drawn from the royal treasury! How
insolently the Maréchal had, upon an occasion when he was engaged at
billiards with his Majesty, requested the royal permission to resume his
plumed cap, and had replaced it on his head before that permission was
expressed; with a hundred other trifling but mortifying incidents which
made the blood of Louis boil in his veins, and placed him wholly in the
power of his insidious associates.[276]

In order to hasten the resolution of the King De Luynes next resolved to
impress upon his mind that his former warning was about to be realized,
and that ere long he would find himself a prisoner in his own capital;
while, with a view to render this declaration plausible, he took means
to have it reported to Marie de Medicis that Louis was about to escape
from Paris, to cast off her authority, and to form a coalition with the
insurgent Princes. In consequence of this information the counsellors of
the Queen-mother induced her to double the guard at the Louvre, and to
prevent the King from passing the city gates, either for the purpose of
hunting, or of visiting, as he was frequently in the habit of doing, the
suburban palaces. This was a crowning triumph for the cunning favourite,
who thus saw his royal master reduced to seek all his recreation in the
gardens of the Tuileries; and he soon became convinced that his project
had succeeded. For a few days Louis was too indignant to make any
comment upon the treatment to which he was subjected, and he even
affected to derive amusement from constructing miniature fortresses,
bird-hunting, and other similar pursuits; but it was not long ere he
became disgusted with these compulsory pastimes, and wandered moodily
through the avenues of the gardens, communing with his own thoughts,
and nursing the bitter feelings which were rapidly sapping his
better impulses.

When he had thus convinced himself that the King's powers of endurance
had reached their extreme limit, De Luynes and his confederates on one
occasion entered his chamber in the evening, but instead of suggesting
to the young monarch, according to their usual habit, some method of
whiling away the time until he retired to rest, they approached him with
a melancholy and almost frightened deportment which at once aroused
alike his curiosity and his apprehension. "What is the meaning of your
manner, gentlemen?" asked Louis. "What has occurred?"

His attendants glanced at each other, as if trusting that some one of
their number would be bold enough to take the responsibility of a reply
upon himself; but no one spoke.

"I have asked a question, and I demand an answer," said Louis with a
threatening frown. "Do the very members of my household--those who call
themselves my friends--forget that, spite of all my trials, and all my
privations, I am still the King of France?"

"Sire," murmured the one upon whom his eye had rested as he spoke, "it
is because we are devoted heart and soul to your Majesty that you see us
in this mortal anxiety. In losing you we should lose everything; but
since it is your command that we should tell you all, it is our duty to
obey. The citizens of Paris are in a state of consternation. All your
loyal subjects fear for your life. Tears and sobs are to be heard on
every side. You are in the hands of Italians--of the countrymen and
countrywomen of Catherine de Medicis; and everything is to be
apprehended from people who know so well how to work out their ends
by poison."

"Is it come to this?" gasped the young King as he sank back upon his
chair. "Am I to die mocked as I have lived? A sovereign without a will,
a king without a throne, a monarch without a crown? The tool of needy
adventurers and intriguing women? the victim of treachery and murder?"
and the credulous boy leant his head upon his hands, and wept.

Before the chamber of Louis was closed that night upon his confidential
friends it was decided that the weapon of the assassin and the axe of
the executioner should rid him of Concini and his wife; and that his
mother should be banished from the Court.

When the King awoke on the following morning De Luynes was already at
his bedside, in order to counteract by his specious arguments and gloomy
prognostics any less violent and criminal decision at which his royal
master might have arrived during the solitude and silence of the night;
and ably did the tempter perform his task. An increase of devotion and
respect was skilfully blended with an apparent anxiety and alarm, which
flattered the self-esteem and vanity of Louis, at the same time that
they renewed all the terrors of the previous evening. His feeble
remonstrances were overruled; his filial misgivings were stifled; and
the favourite at length quitted his presence satisfied that he would not
seek to retract his orders.

The advice of De Luynes was not needed when he implored his Majesty to
observe the greatest circumspection until the important design was
carried out, for, naturally timid and suspicious, Louis was already an
adept in dissimulation; and the idea instantly occurred to him that
should Concini or Leonora once have cause to apprehend that he meditated
their destruction, his own life would pay the forfeit. De Luynes,
however, strange as it may appear, was less discreet, and admitted so
many persons to his confidence that rumours of their peril reached the
ears of the Queen-mother and her favourites; but, unhappily for
themselves, they despised both the King and his minion too much to
attach any importance to the idea of danger from such a quarter.
Satisfied that Louis still pursued his boyish sports, which as a measure
of precaution he had resumed apparently with greater enthusiasm than
ever, and that he could not leave the capital without the express
permission of Marie de Medicis herself, they considered themselves safe;
and thus lulled into a fatal security, took no measures to avert the
impending catastrophe.[277]

The mind is a species of moral daguerreotype; surround it with images of
order, virtue, and beauty, enlighten it by the sun of truth, and every
object will trace itself unerringly upon the surface, remaining
engraven there for ever; but, on the other hand, if the accessories be
evil, it will in like manner become invested with the attributes amid
which it exists, and the luminous spark will be darkened by the
pernicious atoms that have been suffered to collect about it.

Louis XIII of France was at this moment an illustration of the
principle. His boyhood and his youth had alike been familiar only with
intrigue, deception, jealousy, and falsehood. His habits were at once
saturnine and selfish; his temper gloomy and distrustful, and his
feelings cold and self-centred. His youth had already shadowed forth
his manhood.

De Luynes was aware that he should experience little difficulty in
finding the man he sought, when he assured his royal master that he knew
one bold enough to attempt the life of Concini; his selection was indeed
already made, and he had no misgiving of a refusal. The Baron de Vitry,
captain of the bodyguard then on duty at the Louvre, and who was
peculiarly obnoxious to the Italian favourite, returned his hate so
openly that he refused to salute him as he entered and quitted the
palace, and publicly declared that no command, come from whence it
might, should ever compel him to do so.[278] De Luynes no sooner felt
that a man of this determination might be useful than he sought his
friendship; and now that the conspiracy had become ripe, he sent to
invite him to an interview, during which he assured him that the King
had great confidence not only in his affection for his person, but also
in his inclination to serve him when the opportunity should present
itself; that he believed him capable of great deeds, and that he would
confide his life to him.

De Vitry was a soldier of fortune, dependent upon his sword, and the
little sentiment that he possessed was at once awakened by so unexpected
a communication. As a natural consequence, therefore, he protested his
readiness to risk life and limb at the pleasure of his Majesty; and
declared that, whatever might be the nature of the service required of
him, he would execute it without hesitation or remonstrance.

On receiving this pledge, De Luynes, after exacting an oath of secrecy
and obedience, beckoned to his companion to follow him; and throwing
open the door of the royal closet, which was never closed against him,
he introduced De Vitry without further preamble into the presence of
the King.

"M. de Vitry," said Louis, when the favourite had explained the errand
of the captain of the royal guard, "I thank you for your zeal, and I
have faith in its sincerity. The Maréchal d'Ancre has conspired against
my life. He must sleep to-morrow night in the Bastille."

"He shall be there, Sire, should the fortress still possess a bolt to
draw upon him, if it be your royal will that I accomplish his arrest."

"M. de Vitry, you will have earned a marshal's _bâton_."

"Sire!" exclaimed the soldier, dropping on his knee before the King, "I
will obey you to the death."

"I must never again be insulted by his presence," said Louis, fixing his
eyes, which flashed for an instant with a threatening light, full upon
the upturned countenance of De Vitry. "Rise, Sir," he added as he turned
suddenly away, "I have perfect confidence in your fidelity."

"But--should he resist, Sire?" asked the new conspirator, anxious not to
exceed his orders.

"Kill him!" replied De Luynes in a hoarse whisper. "Do you not yet
understand how you are to earn your _bâton_?"

The two friends exchanged glances; and after a profound bow, De Vitry
withdrew from the royal closet.

The indiscretion of De Luynes had been so great that a rumour of the
perilous position of Concini did not fail to reach the ears of
Richelieu. We have already stated that on his arrival at Court the
Bishop of Luçon had been warmly patronized by the Italian favourite, who
openly declared that he had found a man capable of giving a lesson _à
tutti barboni_,[279] thereby alluding to the ancient ministers of Henri
IV;[280] and that it was moreover through his agency that Marie de
Medicis had appointed the wily prelate Secretary of State; but Richelieu
was too subtle a diplomatist to allow a feeling of gratitude to
interfere with his advancement; and he consequently no sooner
ascertained beyond all possibility of mistake that his two patrons, the
Queen-mother and her favourite, were about to succumb to the insidious
attack of De Luynes, than, anxious to retain office, he hastened to
despatch his brother-in-law, M. de Pontcourlay, to the latter, with
instructions to offer his services, and to assure him that he had only
consented to accept the charge which he then held in order that he might
through this medium be enabled to devote himself to the interests of
the King.

Anxious to strengthen his party, De Luynes received the advances of
Richelieu with great courtesy, although he was far from desiring the
co-operation of so dangerous an ally; and a day or two subsequently the
treacherous prelate was introduced into the private closet of Louis;
where, in addition to his previous professions, he went so far as to
pledge himself to the young monarch that he would give him timely
intimation of the most hidden designs of the Queen-mother and the
Maréchal d'Ancre.

It was at length decided that Concini should die on Sunday the 23rd of
April; but as the day approached Louis became terrified at his own
audacity, and it required all the influence of De Luynes and his
brothers to prevent his retracting the fatal order which he had given.
He was too young coldly to contemplate treachery and murder, and withal
so helpless in the event of failure, that his conscience and his
timidity alike urged him to revoke the sentence of the unsuspecting
victim; nor was he ultimately induced to persevere, until reminded by
his insidious advisers that too many persons were now aware of his
intentions for them to remain secret, should their execution be
long delayed.

On this occasion, however, although every preparation had been made,
Concini was saved by a mere accident. He chanced to be delayed as he was
about to leave his house, and did not in consequence reach the Louvre
until the King had quitted the palace in order to attend mass at the
chapel of the Petit Bourbon. Instead, therefore, of proceeding in the
first place to the apartments of his Majesty, as had been anticipated,
the Maréchal no sooner ascertained that Louis was already gone than he
hastened to pay his respects to the Queen-mother, for which purpose he
took a different direction. This unexpected impediment greatly
embarrassed the conspirators, who, secure of success, had displayed an
extraordinary want of caution. In addition to his brother M. du Hallier,
Vitry had assembled a great number of his friends in the court of the
palace, who, although they all wore their cloaks, had nevertheless
allowed it to be perceived that they carried pistols in their belts,
contrary to the edict forbidding the use of such weapons within the
limits of the royal residence. In compliance with the commands of Louis
himself, moreover, the bodyguard were under arms; and the unwonted
movement in the immediate vicinity of his apartments was so evident,
and withal so threatening in its aspect, that a rumour soon spread
through the palace that some serious enterprise was in contemplation.

And meanwhile the young monarch was on his knees before the altar of his
God, praying, or seeming to pray; asking that his trespasses might be
forgiven as he forgave those who trespassed against him; although he
anticipated that before his return to his desecrated palace-home the
deed of blood would be accomplished. Suddenly, however, his devotions
were interrupted by the entrance of De Vitry into the chapel, who,
approaching De Luynes, whispered to him the tidings of his
disappointment. In another second the lips of the favourite touched the
ear of his royal master, to whom he hurriedly murmured--

"Sire, the man you wot of is now in the apartment of the Queen-mother.
What do you decide? All is in readiness."

"Touch him not in her presence as you value your lives," was the
agitated reply; "we shall find him at the Louvre on our return."

A brief interval of suspense succeeded. The prelate who had officiated
then uttered the final blessing; and as the carriage which contained the
King and his favourite entered the palace by one gate, that of Concini
quitted it by another. Inexperienced as he was, however, Louis at once
perceived that he was no longer in a position to recede; and hasty
orders were issued to Vitry and his friends to accomplish their fatal
project on the following day, while the King at the same time secretly
commanded that the light horse of his bodyguard, and the members of his
household, should be in attendance at an early hour in the morning, as
well as a coach and six, at the entrance of the grand gallery. The
pretext for this arrangement was a hunting-party; but its actual
intention was to ensure and protect the King's flight, should his
purpose prematurely transpire or prove abortive. And meanwhile Marie de
Medicis slept, wholly unsuspicious of the change which was about to be
effected in her fortunes!

There is something singularly appalling in all the circumstances which
formed the prelude to this contemplated tragedy. Hitherto the
Queen-mother had created dangers for herself--had started at
shadows--and distrusted even those who sought to serve her; while her
son, silent, saturnine, and inert, had patiently submitted to the
indignities and insults which had been heaped upon him, as though he
were either unconscious or reckless of their extent; and the Italian
adventurer had braved his enemies, and appeared to defy fate itself.
Now, however, when the blow was about to be struck, when the ball and
the blade were alike ready to do their deadly office, all the principal
personages in the bloody drama had suddenly assumed new characters.
Marie slept; the boy-King had become the head of a conspiracy; and the
Maréchal d'Ancre, enriched and ennobled beyond the wildest dreams of his
ambition, was preparing to quit the country of his adoption, and to
seek rest and peace in his own land. Another month, perhaps another
week, and he would have left France, probably for ever.

History presents few such anomalies; and it appears scarcely credible
that so ill-organized a plot, hatched, moreover, under the very eyes of
those who were to become its victims, and revealed to upwards of a score
of persons, many of whom were incited to join it from merely venal
motives, should ever have attained its accomplishment. The fiat had,
however, gone forth; and the unfortunate Concini, whose tragical fate
compels sympathy despite all his faults, entered the court of the Louvre
at ten o'clock in the morning of the 24th of April 1617, there to meet
his death.

An hour or two after dawn one of the gentlemen of the royal bedchamber
announced that the King having been indisposed throughout the night, the
great gates of the Louvre were to remain closed, and the public
excluded, in order that his Majesty might not be disturbed. This order
did not, however, affect the Maréchal d'Ancre, as he was no sooner seen
to approach, followed by a numerous retinue of gentlemen, and attended
by several of his friends, than the bolts were withdrawn, and he was
permitted to pass the barrier, which was instantly closed again, to the
exclusion of the greater number of his suite. A man who had been
stationed over the gate then waved his hat three times above his head,
upon which De Vitry, who had until that moment been seated in one of the
windows of the guard-room calmly conversing with the officers on duty,
immediately rose, and drawing his cloak closely about him, hurried down
the staircase, at the foot of which he was joined as if accidentally by
Du Hallier and others of the conspirators, who, apparently engaged in
conversation, slowly approached their intended victim. Among the persons
who surrounded Concini there chanced to be several who were acquainted
with De Vitry, and greatly to his annoyance he was compelled to allow
the Maréchal to pass on while he returned their greetings; in a few
moments, however, he again found himself at liberty, when he discovered
that amid the crowd he had lost sight of the Italian.

"Where is he?" he inquired hurriedly of one of his confederates.

"Yonder," was the reply; "he has stopped at the foot of the bridge to
read a letter."

De Vitry sprang towards his prey; and as Concini, absorbed in his
occupation, still read on, he felt the grasp of a strong hand upon his
arm, and on looking up he saw the Captain of the Guard standing at his
side. Before he had time to inquire the meaning of this affront, De
Vitry had already uttered the ominous words, "I arrest you in the
King's name."

"Arrest me!" exclaimed the Maréchal, with astonishment, as he clutched
the hilt of his sword.

"Yes, you," replied De Vitry haughtily; and while he spoke he made a
signal, which was instantly responded to by the simultaneous report of
three pistol-shots. As the sounds ceased Concini dropped upon his
knees, and fell against the parapet of the bridge. Several weapons were
then thrust into his body; and finally De Vitry, with wanton and
revolting cruelty, gave him so violent a kick that he extended his body
at full length upon the pavement, where it was immediately pilfered of
every article of value; among other things, diamonds of great price and
notes of hand to a large amount were abstracted from the pockets of his
vest.[281]

A few of his followers endeavoured to interpose; but in a second or two
all was over, and they were warned by the bystanders instantly to
sheathe their swords, and to beware of opposing the orders of the King.
They had scarcely had time to obey this bidding when Louis presented
himself at the window of a closet adjoining the guard-room, to which,
from its height, he was obliged to be lifted by M. d'Ornano;[282] there,
by the advice of those about him, the young King appeared with a smile
upon his face; and as the members of the cabal raised a cry of "Vive le
Roi!" he shouted to his Captain of the Guard, "I thank you, Vitry; now I
am really a King." Then showing himself, sword in hand, successively at
each window of the guard-room, he cried out to the soldiers who were
posted beneath, "To arms, comrades, to arms!"

Meanwhile De Vitry, by the direction of De Luynes, proceeded to the hall
occupied by the bodyguard of the Queen-mother, and demanded their
weapons, which they refused to deliver up without an express order to
that effect from their own officers; upon which the latter were
commanded in the name of the King to withdraw their men, and to remain
in the antechamber of their mistress. The royal guards then took
possession of all the approaches to the Louvre; and horsemen were
despatched with instructions to traverse the streets of the capital, and
to apprise the citizens of the death of Concini. A dense crowd soon
collected in the court of the Louvre, and cries of "Vive le Roi!"
resounded on all sides.

A murder had been committed, and the ovation was one which would only
have befitted a victory. Louis XIII had proclaimed himself a King, and
the hand with which he grasped his sceptre was steeped in blood. Louis
"the Just"--we append to his baptismal appellation that which was
gravely conferred upon him on this occasion by both clergy and
laity--stood an undisguised assassin and a moral matricide before the
people who were about to be subjected to his rule.[283]

Within an hour not only was the Queen-mother a prisoner in her own
apartments, but the seals were restored to M. du Vair, and Barbin was in
the Bastille _in the most rigorous confinement_.[284] These
precautionary measures taken, Louis proceeded to the grand gallery
leaning upon the arm of De Luynes; and on perceiving M. de Brienne, who
with many other nobles had hastened to present his respects and
congratulations (!) to the young monarch, he was so little able to
control his delight that, without awaiting the salutation of the Count,
he exclaimed triumphantly, "I am now a King, and no one can take
precedence of me." [285]

Shortly afterwards the King encountered the Bishop of Luçon-Richelieu,
whose confident deportment betokened his conviction of a gracious
reception, as he prepared to pay his court in his turn; but the
compliments of the prelate were abruptly broken in upon by an imperative
command to quit the palace, and the announcement of his discontinuance
in office. No wonder that Richelieu murmured under his breath at this
unlooked-for severity; for he had in truth that very morning striven to
merit the royal smile--striven against conscience, however, and all the
holiest and most sacred feelings of humanity. One of the friends of
Concini, alarmed by the ominous proceedings at the Louvre, and
instinctively persuaded that the life of the Italian was threatened, had
hurriedly despatched a letter to Richelieu, in which he stated his
reasons for the apprehensions he expressed; and urged the prelate, in
memory of the many services for which he was indebted to the intended
victim, to interpose his influence in his behalf, and to endeavour to
avert the blow. The Bishop, who had not yet left his bed, glanced over
the missive, thrust it beneath his pillow, desired the messenger to
withdraw, and remained quietly in his chamber until he was apprised by
the tumult without that all was over. Then, and not till then, he
hastened to the Louvre; where we have already stated the nature of his
reception.

As the throng of nobles increased, and crowded about the King so as
considerably to inconvenience him, he was lifted upon a billiard-table,
from which extraordinary eminence he received their compliments and
congratulations upon the murder to which he had been accessory only an
hour before; and which the First President of the Parliament of Paris
(whose extreme haste to pay his court to his new master was such that,
being unable immediately to procure a carriage, he proceeded to the
Louvre on foot) designated _his happy deliverance_.[286] Nothing, in
short, but plumed hats sweeping the marble floor, flexile forms bending
to the earth, and lips wreathed in smiles, was to be seen in the kingly
hall in which Henri IV had loved to discuss grave topics with his sturdy
minister, the Duc de Sully, and which Marie de Medicis, in her day of
pride and power, had enriched with the glorious productions of her
immortal _protégé_, Rubens the painter-prince, as she was wont to call
him. None cared to remember at that moment that Henry the Great was in
his grave, and that his royal widow had been sacrificed to the
insatiable ambition and the quenchless hate of a low-born minion.

But it is now time that we should return to the Queen-mother.

Alarmed by the report of firearms within the boundary of the palace,
Marie de Medicis, who had not yet completed her toilet, desired Caterina
Selvaggio to throw open one of the windows, and to demand the cause of
so singular and unpardonable an infraction of the law. She was obeyed;
and the Italian waiting-woman no sooner perceived De Vitry advancing
below the apartments of her royal mistress than she inquired of him what
had occurred.

"The Maréchal d'Ancre has been shot," was his abrupt reply.

"Shot!" echoed Caterina; "and by whom?"

"By myself," said De Vitry composedly; "and by the command of the King."

"Madame!" exclaimed the terrified attendant, as she rushed to the side
of the Queen-mother, "M. le Maréchal has been killed by order of
his Majesty."

Marie de Medicis started from her seat; her cheeks were blanched, her
lips quivered, and she wrung her hands convulsively, as she gasped out,
"I have reigned seven years. I must now think only of a crown
in heaven."

Her attendants, stupified with terror, rapidly gathered round her; and
ere long she learnt that her guards had been disarmed, and replaced by
those of the King. She listened vaguely to each successive report, and
paced the room with rapid but uncertain steps. At length she exclaimed
vehemently, "I do not regret that my son should have taken the life of
Concini, if he believed it necessary to the safety of his kingdom; but
his distrust of myself in concealing such a project from my knowledge is
more than I can bear."

When the first violence of her emotion had subsided she sank into a
seat, and with clasped hands and drooping head appeared to be absorbed
in deep and bitter thought; for at intervals the blood mounted to her
brow and burned there for a time, after which she again became pale as
ashes, and as motionless as a corpse. She was still in this attitude
when one of her confidential servants imprudently approached her, and
inquired how the melancholy event was to be communicated to the
Maréchale d'Ancre? "Perhaps," he incautiously suggested, "your Majesty
will condescend to acquaint her with it yourself."

Marie de Medicis suddenly raised her hand, swept back her dishevelled
hair from her face, and fixing her flashing eyes upon the officious
gentleman, passionately replied, "I have other things to attend to at
this moment. If no one can tell the Maréchale that her husband has been
killed, _let them sing it to her_. Let me never again hear the name of
those people. I told them long ago that they would do right to return to
Italy. Yes," she continued, more particularly addressing the Dowager
Duchess of Guise, the Princesse de Conti, and the other ladies who were
standing near her, "they have at last accomplished my ruin. I foresaw
it; I warned them, but they would not be convinced. I told Concini that
he had no time to lose, but with his habitual self-sufficiency he
declared repeatedly that the King became more courteous to him every
day. I was not deceived, however; I charged him not to trust to
appearances, for that Louis never said all he thought; he disregarded my
words, and he has now involved me in his own destruction." [287]

After this outburst of temper no one ventured to intrude even a remark
upon the Queen-mother, who once more fell into a deep reverie, from
which she, however, ultimately aroused herself to demand M. de
Bressieux.[288] The equerry immediately approached.

"Go, sir," she said, "to his Majesty, and request that he will grant me
an interview."

Her command was obeyed, and in a few moments De Bressieux found himself
in the presence of the King, to whom he delivered his message.

"I am occupied at present," was the cold reply; "and the visit of the
Queen must be delayed until a better opportunity. Tell her, however,
from me that I shall always honour her, and that I feel towards her all
the sentiments of a good son; but God willed that I should be born a
King, and I am resolved henceforth to govern for myself. It is desirable
that the Queen should have no other guards but mine. Let her know that
such is my will."

Marie de Medicis listened incredulously when, on his return to her
apartment, the equerry announced the failure of his mission. She would
not comprehend that the stripling who had until that day shrunk before
her frown could thus suddenly have acquired the necessary courage to
brave her authority; and once more M. de Bressieux was instructed to
urge her request upon the King. As he reached the royal anteroom her
envoy encountered De Luynes, who dreaded nothing so much as a meeting
between the mother and son, which could scarcely fail to prove fatal to
himself; and he accordingly reported the return of the applicant in a
manner which induced Louis to exclaim impatiently, "If he is here by
desire of the Queen his mistress, tell him that there is nothing to
apprehend, as I shall treat her well." [289]

Still Marie de Medicis would not be discouraged. She felt that in order
to avert the ruin which impended over her she must put every instant to
its use; and accordingly M. de Bressieux was a third time despatched to
solicit in still more urgent terms that she might be permitted to see
his Majesty, were it only for a few moments. But, unfortunately for the
agonized Queen, the triumphant favourite was as fully aware as herself
of the value of time at so critical a juncture; and he had accordingly
profited so well by the opportunities which he was enabled to command,
that on this last occasion the Marquis was rudely ordered to abstain
from all further intrusion upon his Majesty unless he wished to repent
his pertinacity within the walls of a prison.

Convinced at last that there was no hope through her own agency of
effecting her object, the Queen-mother next endeavoured to secure its
accomplishment through the medium of her daughter-in-law, the two
Princesses, and the Duc d'Anjou; but when she summoned them to her
apartment, she was informed that each and all had been forbidden to hold
any intercourse with herself until the pleasure of the King should be
made known.

The despair of the unhappy Marie was at its height; and as she paced her
apartment, and approached a window looking upon the gardens, she
discovered that a bridge which she had caused to be constructed for the
purpose of reaching them without being compelled to traverse the
galleries of the palace, was already in process of demolition; while she
was also made aware that every other avenue leading to her apartments
was strictly guarded, and thus she saw herself a prisoner in her own
palace and entirely at the mercy of her son's advisers. Even yet she
struggled against so cruel a conviction; and, eager to test its truth,
sent to desire the presence of one of her confidential friends. Her
messenger was not, however, permitted to accomplish his errand, but
returned with the heart-sickening intelligence that thenceforward her
Majesty would not be permitted to hold any communication, save with the
members of her own immediate household, without the express sanction of
the King.[290]

While the Queen-mother was still writhing under this new indignity, the
unfortunate Leonora, who had been apprised of the murder of her husband,
rushed into the apartment, and flinging herself at the feet of her royal
foster-sister, implored her protection for herself and her young son;
but sudden adversity had steeled the heart of Marie de Medicis, and
sternly upbraiding her former favourite as the cause of her own
overthrow, she refused to afford her any aid, and commanded her
instantly to retire. The wretched woman obeyed without comment or
remonstrance; and having regained her own apartment, which was
immediately contiguous to that of the Queen, she hastened to conceal the
Crown jewels which were in her keeping between the mattresses of her
bed, with the exception of the rings, which were of great value, and
which she habitually wore. This task accomplished, she threw herself
upon her miserable couch to await in trembling and in tears the next act
of the frightful tragedy in which she was called upon to play so
conspicuous a part. Her suspense was not of long duration, as only a few
minutes had elapsed when a tumult was heard without, amid which cries of
"Vive le Roi!" "Vive M. de Luynes!" and "Death to the Italian!" were
distinctly audible.

Leonora bounded from her recumbent position like a lioness at bay. Her
parted lips were bloodless, her breath came quick and hard, and her
heart heaved by its violent pulsations the rich velvet of the robe in
which she was attired.

"My child!" she at length gasped out, as her attendants gathered about
her--"save my child! He at least is guiltless."

The appeal was not made in vain. M. du Rouvray[291] took her little son,
the Comte de la Péna, by the hand, raised him in his arms that his lips
might once more touch those of his mother, and then, without uttering a
syllable, led him from the apartment. In another instant the Norman
noble was once more at her side. "The child is in sure hands," he said
hurriedly; "and now, Madame, to provide for your own safety. Follow
me--you have no time to spare."

It was, however, already too late; for as Du Rouvray ceased speaking, De
Vitry, still reeking with the blood of Concini, stood upon the threshold
of the chamber, attended by a troop of halberdiers.

"You are my prisoner, Madame," he exclaimed harshly: "prepare to
accompany me to the Bastille."

"I am ready, Sir," replied the Maréchale, with the composure of utter
despair, "All is as it should be. The murderer of the husband is well
fitted to be the gaoler of the wife."

The rings belonging to the Crown were then removed from the fingers of
the Marquise; and upon her refusal to reveal where the remainder of the
jewels were secreted, her apartments were strictly searched; and not
only were the royal ornaments carried off by De Vitry and his
companions, but also every other article of value which fell into their
hands. While this unmanly outrage was going on around her, the Maréchale
d'Ancre passively permitted her women to fasten her mantle, and to
adjust her mask and hood; her thoughts were evidently elsewhere. Within
a few yards of where she was then seated, and within hearing of the
tumult occasioned by the reckless insolence of the men-at-arms by whom
she was surrounded, her foster-sister, the playmate of her girlhood, the
friend of her youth, and the protectress of her latter years--whose
tears she had so often wiped away, whose sorrows she had so often
soothed, and whose hopes and fears she had equally shared throughout so
long a period--remained cold and unmoved by her misery. It was a bitter
pang: and drops of anguish, wrung from the deepest recesses of a
bursting heart, fell large and heavy upon the cheek of the new-made
widow and the abandoned favourite, and moistened her clasped hands.
None, however, heeded her agony; each of her attendants, whatever might
have been the previous attachment of all to her person, was absorbed by
her own terrors; while the strangers who had invaded her privacy were
eager, under the specious pretext of performing their duty to the King,
to avail themselves to the uttermost of so favourable an opportunity of
furthering their individual interests.

At length all was over: every cabinet and chest had been ransacked to
its deepest recesses; every article of use or ornament had been
displaced in search of plunder; and the wretched Leonora was warned that
it was time to depart. She rose silent and rigid; and as De Vitry
preceded her from the room, his guards closed up behind her. A carriage
was in waiting at the foot of the staircase by which she descended; the
twilight was rapidly deepening into night, and her melancholy path was
lighted at intervals by the torches of the numerous attendants who were
hurrying through the corridors in the service of their several
employers. The long dark shadows of the Louvre lay heavy on the dull
pavement of the court, save where they were broken at intervals by the
resinous flambeaux which glared and flickered against the walls of the
building. All looked wild, and sad, and strange; and not one kindly
accent fell upon the ear of the unhappy captive as she was hurried
onward. A few harsh words were uttered in a tone of authority: she was
lifted into the conveyance which had been prepared for her: the
cavalcade slowly traversed the enclosure; and then as the iron gates of
the palace were passed, the horses were lashed into a gallop; and in
less than an hour the life-long companion of Marie de Medicis,
husbandless, childless, and friendless, was an occupant of the gloomy
prison-chamber which had recently been vacated by the Prince de Condé.

The noise created by the entrance of the new prisoner, the clashing of
arms, the grating of the heavy portcullis, as it groaned and strained in
its ascent, the dull fall of the drawbridge, the voices of men, and the
rattling of wheels, awakened the Prince; who, with the natural weariness
of a captive, had already retired to rest. Summoning an attendant he
demanded to know the cause of the disturbance.

"It is M. de Vitry, Monseigneur," was the reply; "who has just
transferred the Maréchale d'Ancre to the safe keeping of the governor."

"Good!" said the Prince, as he once more settled himself to sleep; "I
have now one enemy the less." [292]

This rapid succession of misfortunes produced an extraordinary effect
upon the sensitive organization of Leonora Galigaï. As we have already
hinted, she had for a considerable period suffered under mental
hallucination; and the disease had latterly fastened so tenaciously upon
her system that she had even shunned the presence of the Queen,
believing that every eye which rested on her produced some baneful
result; while her very attendants were dismissed from her presence when
they had terminated their duties, and she thus remained hour after hour
in solitude, brooding over the sickly fancies of her disordered brain.
The sight of her husband's murderer had, however, instantly and for ever
restored the healthful tone of her mind. She did not weep, for she had
already exhausted all her tears; she asked no mercy, for she was aware
that, whatever might be her fate, she was alike prejudged and
pre-condemned; but she resigned herself passively into the hands of her
persecutors, with a Spartan firmness which she maintained to the last
hour of her existence.

Who shall venture to follow her to her prison-cell, and to trace the
tide of back-flowing thought which rolled like a receding wave from the
present to the past? Now, indeed, she left little behind her to regret.
From the husband to whom she had once been devoted with a love which
blinded her to all his errors and to all his egotism, she had, during
the last two years, been almost utterly estranged; her first-born and
idolized daughter was in her grave; the royal friend and almost
relative, to whom she had clung from her youth up, had refused even a
tear to her sufferings, or a shelter to her peril; her hoarded wealth
was in the hands of her enemies; and of all that she once boasted there
remained only her son. And what might be his fate?

But memory held wider stores than these; and who can doubt that
throughout that first long night of captivity they were probed to their
very depths! What palace-pageants--what closet-conspiracies--what
struggles for pre-eminence and power--what heart-burnings at defeat, and
exultation at success--must have swept hurricane-like across her
awakened soul, to be forgotten in their turn as she recalled the
childish sports of her early and hopeful years, under the sunny sky and
among the orange-groves of her native Florence, where, with her royal
playmate, she chased the hours along as though they were made only for
the happy!

Did she sleep the weary and outworn sleep of the wretched while those
sweet and soothing visions were still busy at her heart? And if so,
breathes there one who would have roused her, whatever may have been her
faults, from such a slumber?

FOOTNOTES:

[263] Richelieu, Unpublished MSS.

[264] Mézeray, vol. xi. p. 134.

[265] Bassompierre, _Mém_. p. 123.

[266] Bassompierre, _Mém_. p. 126. D'Estrées, _Mém_. p. 418.

[267] Richelieu, _Mém_. book viii. p. 411.

[268] Déageant was a man of considerable talent, but crafty and
ambitious; his whole career was one of deceit and truckling. After
numerous vicissitudes he was committed to the Bastille, where he
beguiled the weariness of captivity by composing his Memoirs.

[269] Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 391, 392. Le Vassor, vol. i. p. 583.
Richelieu, Unpublished MSS.

[270] Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. iv. pp. 29-31. _Mercure Français_, 1617.

[271] Henri de Schomberg was the representative of an ancient family of
Meissen established in France. He succeeded his father, Gaspard de
Schomberg, in the government of La Marche, and in 1617 served in
Piedmont. He was also one of the generals of Louis XIII, in 1621 and
1622, and in 1625 was created Marshal of France. He distinguished
himself by defeating the English in the battle of the Isle de Rhé in
1627, and in forcing the defile of Susa in 1629. In the following year
he took Pignerol. He was then despatched to Languedoc against the
rebels, and in 1632 gained the battle of Castelnaudary, at which the Duc
de Montmorency was made prisoner. For this victory he was invested with
the government of Languedoc. He died in 1633.

[272] In his _History of the Parliament of Paris_, Voltaire, whose
party-spirit was ever too ready to betray his judgment, and to obscure
his genius, has not hesitated, in allusion to the arrogant boast of the
Italian adventurer, to express himself thus:--"This Concini, at this
very time, performed an action which merited a statue. Enriched by the
liberality of Marie de Medicis, he raised at his own expense an army of
between five and six thousand men against the rebels; he supported
France as though she had been his native country." It is impossible to
dwell upon the career of Concini, and not be startled by so
extraordinary an encomium.

[273] _Mercure Français,_ 1617. Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. iv. pp. 27-35.

[274] Déageant, _Mém_. pp. 38-44.

[275] Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 614-617. Déageant, _Mém_. pp. 43-56.
Bassompierre, _Mém_. pp. 123, 124.

[276] Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. iv. pp. 26, 27. Relation de la mort du
Maréchal d'Ancre, at the end of the _Histoire des Favoris_.

[277] Déageant, _Mém_. pp. 56, 57.

[278] Richelieu, _Mém_. book viii. p. 416.

[279] Brienne, _Mém_. vol. i. p. 300 _note_.

[280] Déageant, _Mém_. p. 48. Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 625, 626.

[281] Brienne, _Mém_. vol. i. p. 329.

[282] Alphonse d'Ornano, colonel-general of the Corsican troops in the
French service, and himself a native of Corsica, was the son of San
Pietro di Bastelica, a man of low birth, who attained to the rank of
colonel of the Corsican infantry in France, and who married (in 1548)
Vanina d'Ornano, the daughter and heiress of one of the most wealthy
nobles in Corsica. The avowed enemy of the Genoese, by whom himself and
his family were proscribed and banished from their native island, San
Pietro strangled his wife with his own hands on discovering that she had
attempted to escape from Marseilles in order to obtain a revocation of
the edict issued by the Genoese in 1563. Alphonse, the son of San
Pietro, to whom his very name had become odious, adopted that of his
mother, under which he rendered important services to Henri IV during
the wars of the League, and by whom he was first appointed lieutenant of
the King in Dauphiny, and subsequently Marshal of France (1595). He died
in 1620, at the age of seventy-two. He was a man of probity, but had
inherited the violent character of his father.

[283] Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 625-632. Brienne, _Mém_. vol. i. p. 327.
Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 393-395. Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 134-136.
Matthieu, _Hist. des Derniers Troubles_, book iii. p. 603.

[284] Richelieu, Unpublished MSS. The words underlined in the text are
in the Cardinal's autograph on the margin of the manuscript.

[285] Brienne, _Mém_. vol. i. p. 327.

[286] Le Vassor, vol. i. p. 637. Sismondi, vol. xxii. p. 396.

[287] _Lumières pour l'Histoire de France_. Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 634,
635.

[288] The Marquis de Bressieux was first equerry to Marie de Medicis.

[289] Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. iv. pp. 61, 62.

[290] Rambure, MS. _Mém_. vol. vii. p. 66. Mézeray, vol. xi. p. 138.
Bassompierre, _Mém_. p. 126.

[291] Louis, Sieur du Rouvray, was a Norman noble, and a descendant of
the celebrated Louis du Rouvray, who was one of the hundred and eighty
devoted men who in 1421 shut themselves up in the Mont Saint-Michel, in
order to defend it against the English.

[292] Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mère et du Fils_, vol. i. p. 219.



CHAPTER X

1617

The Comte de la Péna--Anne of Austria and the orphan--Popular atrocities
--The wages of crime--Submission of the Duc de Mayenne--Suspension of
hostilities--The great nobles return to the capital--Louis refuses to
be reconciled with his mother--Insolence of De Vitry--Generosity of the
Duc de Rohan--Marie de Medicis resolves to retire from the
Court--Richelieu offers to share her exile--He becomes the secret
emissary of De Luynes--Gratitude of the deluded Queen--A parting
interview--Marie de Medicis proceeds to Blois--Destitution of the
Maréchale d'Ancre--Her despair--Royal recreations--A fatal
parallel--Madame de Condé requests permission to share the captivity of
her husband--Trial of Madame d'Ancre--Her execution--Cupidity of De
Luynes--Justice of the Grand Duke of Tuscany--Death of the President de
Thou--Marriage of De Luynes with Mademoiselle de Montbazon--De Luynes is
created duke and peer--Death of M. de Villeroy--Recall of the old
ministers--Policy of De Luynes--His suspiciousness--His ambition--De
Luynes lodges his brothers in the Louvre--The sign of "the Three
Kings"--Louis resolves to re-establish the Roman Catholic religion in
Béarn, and to annex that principality to the Crown of France--Meeting of
the _Notables_ at Rouen--The French march to the support of the Duke
of Savoy.

On the return of De Vitry from the Bastille he found the hôtel of the
Maréchal d'Ancre entirely pillaged, not even excepting the chamber of
the little Comte de la Péna, whose escape having been prevented, he was
also placed under arrest, and left until the following morning without
clothes, food, or bed. On the morrow, however, the Comte de
Fiesque,[293] touched by the extreme beauty and desolate condition of
the child, and probably anxious to secure one friend to him in his
necessity, became answerable for his safe keeping; and, wrapping him in
the cloak of one of his lackeys, he carried him to the Louvre, and
introduced him to the young Queen, informing her Majesty that no one at
Court could dance a _branle_ in such perfection. Anne of Austria was
enchanted with the beauty of the boy, who had just attained his twelfth
year, and whose intellect was as remarkable as his person; but giddy,
thoughtless, and ever eager for amusement, the girl-Queen, overlooking
the fatal circumstances in which he was placed, immediately commanded
that he should exhibit his talent; and the poor fatherless child, whose
whole career had been blighted only a few short hours before, was
compelled to this unseemly display; after which he was regaled with
sweetmeats, and returned to the custody of his gaolers, by whom he was
shortly afterwards imprisoned in the castle of Nantes.[294]

While this incredible scene was being enacted in an apartment of the
palace, another of a far more terrible nature was to be witnessed in the
streets of Paris; but before we describe this, we must explain all that
had passed since the murder of the Maréchal d'Ancre. As we have already
stated, the body was pillaged where it lay; and then, as no further
booty could be anticipated, it was carried into a small closet attached
to the common guard-room, where it remained until nightfall, when a
coarse sheet, for which fifty sous were given, was folded about it, and
it was buried without any religious ceremony under the organ of the
church of St. Germain l'Auxerrois near the Louvre. A priest who
attempted to chant a funeral-hymn as it was laid in the earth was
compelled to desist, in order that the place of burial might not be
known; and the flags which had been raised were so carefully replaced
that it was only by secret information that the spot could possibly have
been discovered. This information was however given; and early in the
morning the pavement was torn up, and a rope fastened round the neck of
the corpse, which was then dragged through the streets by the infuriated
mob; and the desecrated remains of the recently powerful favourite were
hung by the feet to a gibbet, dismembered in the most brutal manner, and
finally burned.[295]

At the close of this tragedy the Baron de Vitry received the wages of
his brutality, and found himself before sunset a Marshal of France:
while Du Hallier his brother became his successor as Captain of the
Royal Guard; and Persan, the husband of his sister, who had also
assisted in the massacre of Concini, was recompensed by the lieutenancy
of the Bastille, and entrusted with the safe keeping of the Prince de
Condé. On the same day it was publicly proclaimed in the streets of
Paris that all the relatives and adherents of the Maréchale d'Ancre were
forthwith to leave the capital, and that the Sieur de Vitry had acted
throughout the late execution by the express command of the King; the
ministers who had recently held office under the Queen-mother were
dismissed, and those whom she had displaced were restored to power; De
Luynes was formally invested with the confiscated property of Concini;
and a new Government was organized which had for its leading object the
subversion of all previously concerted measures.[296]

The death of Concini no sooner became known in the provinces than the
Duc de Mayenne resigned Soissons and all the other towns and fortresses
throughout his government into the hands of the King. Both parties
suspended hostilities; and the royal troops and those of the insurgents
drank and feasted together in a general rejoicing. This example was
followed by the army in Champagne; and on every side the rebel Princes
declared their readiness to offer their submission to the King. The
moment was a perilous one for De Luynes, but to Louis it afforded only
triumph and exultation; and ere long the self-exiled nobles reappeared
in the capital, where they were graciously received. On the 12th of May
a declaration was registered by the Parliament in which their past
offences were pardoned, and they were assured that thenceforward they
would be held as good and loyal subjects to the Crown; while no single
exception was made save in the person of the Prince de Condé, who was
still retained a prisoner in the Bastille, and who appeared to be
totally forgotten by his former adherents.

Rendered confident by this increase of strength, Louis remained
inflexible to the tears and prayers of his mother, and readily suffered
himself to be persuaded by those about him that she had, in conjunction
with Concini, determined to take his life by poison in order to place
the Duc d'Anjou upon the throne. In vain did the estimable Marquise de
Guercheville throw herself at his feet, and offer the most solemn
assurances of the innocence of her unhappy mistress: she was listened to
with impatience, and dismissed with an abruptness which left no room for
hope.[297] Meanwhile the captivity of Marie de Medicis became each day
more irksome, through the unrestrained insolence of De Vitry, who caused
her apartments to be searched by the officers under his command, her
chests to be emptied, and even her bed to be displaced. The Queen
devoured her mortification, and bore the insult in silence; but Madame
de Guercheville could not restrain her indignation, and insisted upon
learning the reason for such an outrage.

"I am ordered to ascertain, Madame," was the reply of the individual to
whom she addressed herself, "if there be not a cask of powder in these
apartments destined to destroy the King who sleeps above."

"Let them obey their orders," said Marie coldly; "their employers are
capable of even more than this." [298]

As she learnt each successive arrival at Court, the unfortunate Princess
trusted from day to day that her position would be ameliorated through
the influence of some of her former friends; but until the Duc de Rohan
reached the capital none of the great nobles appeared to remember her
existence. Well might the Duke exclaim when he learnt how utterly
friendless she had become in her adversity, "There are few generous and
bold enough to cleave to the misfortunes of those whom they honoured in
their prosperity." [299] He was himself, however, one of those noble
exceptions; and although he excited the undisguised displeasure of De
Luynes, he persisted in demanding the royal sanction to pay his respects
to the Queen-mother; an example which was subsequently followed by
Bassompierre, who, being unable to obtain the permission which he
sought, availed himself of the medium of the Queen's tailor to offer his
assurances of devotion and fidelity to her person, through the Duchesse
de Guise and the Princesse de Conti.[300]

Weary of her utter isolation in a palace of which she had so lately been
the undisputed mistress, and where she had received the homage of all by
whom she was approached; heart-sick and disgusted with the ingratitude
of those whose fortunes had been her own work; and pining for that rest
which she could never hope to find amid the persecutions to which she
was daily subjected, Marie de Medicis at length resolved to retire to
Moulins in the province of Bourbon, which was one of her dower-cities;
and she accordingly sent to request the consent of the King to her
departure.

This was precisely what De Luynes had hoped; and his exultation was
consequently great. Her exile by the command of her son might have
excited a murmur, and he had therefore forborne from advising such a
step; but when it could be publicly asserted that the Queen-mother was
about to leave the Court for a few months by her own express desire, not
even those who still remained faithful to her cause would be enabled to
resent her absence. Her demand under such circumstances could not fail
to prove successful; and it was conceded by Louis himself with the
greater alacrity that her presence as a prisoner in the Louvre was
irksome and painful to a youth whose conscience was not yet totally
seared; and who professed, even while exposing her from hour to hour to
the insults of his hirelings, to feel towards her "all the sentiments of
a good son."

The contemplated retirement of Marie de Medicis from the capital soon
became publicly known, and at once decided the measures of Richelieu. He
himself informs us that immediately after his cold reception by the King
he despatched his valet to assure the Queen-mother of his sympathy in
her sorrows, and of his anxiety to serve her;[301] nor could he fail to
believe that such an assurance at such a moment had produced the desired
effect, unconscious as the unfortunate Marie must necessarily have been
of the circumstances which had induced him to feel for her reverses when
all the other members of the Court were intent only upon winning the
good graces of the monarch and his favourite. The time was now come, as
he at once saw, to profit by so signal a proof of policy and
forethought; and Richelieu was prepared to use it with the craft and
cleverness which were destined to shape out his future fortunes. To his
active and ambitious spirit a residence in the capital in the character
of a deposed minister was impossible; while he equally deprecated the
idea of burying himself in his diocese among the marshes of Lower
Poitou. He resolved, therefore, to share the exile of the Queen-mother,
and by this display of devotion to gain her confidence; while, at the
same time, he communicated his intention to De Luynes in a manner which
ensured its sanction. Few words were needed. Ere the conference was at
an end the favourite was aware that no _safer_ person could be admitted
to the privacy of Marie de Medicis; while Richelieu had, on his side,
been careful to avoid any acknowledgment of the real motive by which he
was influenced.[302]

"You incur no risk by acceding to his request, Sire," said De Luynes in
a subsequent interview with the King; "M. de Luçon will understand how
to calm the mind of the Queen-mother, and to advise her as we could
wish. He may be the means of establishing a good understanding between
you; and even should he fail to do this, it will be easy to compel him
to reside in his diocese, or to banish him to a distant province, should
your Majesty not be satisfied with his conduct."

"It must not be expected," gravely observed Richelieu in his turn, while
negotiating the arrangement, "that I should act as a Court spy when I am
admitted to the confidence of the Queen; nor that I should report all
which may take place; but to this I will pledge myself--that I will
immediately retire to Luçon should she refuse to be guided by my advice,
or adopt any resolutions inimical to the interests of the King."

It would have been unreasonable to require more, and with a thrill of
pleasure to which she had been long a stranger, the beguiled Queen
learnt that the Bishop of Luçon-Richelieu had received the royal
permission to devote himself to her fallen fortunes. This was, indeed,
more than she had ever ventured to hope, for she was capable of
appreciating to the utmost the talents of the individual who thus, as
she fondly believed, sacrificed his own interests to her necessities;
and she consequently lost no time in making him the medium of her
communications with the King. Before her departure she was anxious to
secure such terms as might tend, in some degree, to diminish the
bitterness of her exile; and she accordingly availed herself of the
services of her new adherent to convey her wishes to Louis. These were
that she might be permitted to reside for some days at Blois, until the
castle of Moulins, which had been uninhabited for a considerable time,
could be prepared for her reception; that she might be informed of the
number and identity of those who would be allowed to follow her in her
retreat; that she might retain unlimited authority in the place of her
residence; that she should be immediately informed whether it were the
pleasure of the King that she should be left in possession of the whole
of her revenues, or restricted in her income, in order that she might be
prepared to regulate the expenses of her household accordingly; and,
finally, that her son would accord her an interview before her
departure.

In reply to these demands, Louis, after having conferred with his
favourite, replied that, had circumstances permitted such a measure, he
should not, during the last few days, have deprived himself of the
happiness of her society, of which he had deeply felt the privation; but
that since it was her wish to retire from the Court, she was at perfect
liberty to reside at Moulins, or in any other city which she thought
proper to select, and to include in her suite all the individuals whom
she might be desirous of retaining about her person: that she was fully
authorized to exert the most absolute authority, not only in the city,
but throughout the province in which it was situated; and that so far
from seeking to diminish her resources, although they greatly exceeded
those of any previous Queen-Dowager of France,[303] he would willingly
augment them should she deem it necessary, even to his own
inconvenience; while as regarded her desire for a parting interview, he
could not, on his side, suffer her to leave the capital without assuring
her in his own person of his anxiety for her happiness.[304]

Despite these professions, however, it was agreed on both sides that
each party should previously arrange, and submit to the other, the
substance of all that was to pass between them; and in consequence of
this extraordinary arrangement Richelieu was desired by the Queen-mother
to compose her address to the King, which having been submitted to the
Council and approved, the reply of Louis was in like manner prepared by
the ministers. A flight of stairs alone separated the mother and the
son: the footsteps of the stripling monarch could be heard in the
apartment of Marie as he passed from one room to the other; and were not
the subject too sad for ridicule, it would be difficult to suppress a
smile at these puerile and undignified formalities. No political
negotiation was ever conducted, however, with more circumspection and
mutual distrust; every detail of the interview was regulated
beforehand; the two principal actors pledged themselves to say no more
than was set down for them; and each committed to memory the harangue
which was to be pronounced. The Princesses were to pay their parting
respects to the Queen-mother so soon as she should have assumed her
travelling-dress, but the nobles and officers of the Court were only to
be permitted to salute her after she had taken leave of the King; a
privilege from which, at her express request, De Vitry and his brother
were, however, excluded.

On the 4th of May, the day fixed for her departure from the capital,
Marie caused her ladies to dress her with extraordinary care, but at the
same time with extreme simplicity; the slighted mother and the humbled
Queen yet entertained a hope that the sight of her mourning attire and
subdued deportment might produce their effect upon her son; and as, at
the appointed hour, she left her chamber, and with words of gratitude
and affection joined her attendants, there was a faint smile upon her
lips, and a tremulous light in her dark eyes which betrayed her secret
trust. The members of her household were assembled in one of those noble
halls which were enriched by the grand creations of Jean Goujon,[305]
and the magnificent tapestried hangings that were subsequently
destroyed during the Revolution; they were grouped together near the
door by which she entered, and, despite every effort which she made to
overcome her emotion, Marie de Medicis could not suppress a sigh as she
marked how small a space they occupied in that vast apartment which had
so lately been thronged with princes and nobles, all professedly devoted
to her cause. Suddenly, as she was exchanging a few words with the
Marquise de Guercheville, the royal bodyguards appeared upon the
threshold; and a page, advancing one step into the hall,
announced--"The King!"

At the same instant Louis XIII appeared, with the Duc d'Anjou on his
right hand, leaning upon his favourite, preceded by Cadenet and Brantès,
and followed by the Prince de Joinville and Bassompierre. As he entered
the Queen-mother rose and curtsied profoundly, while the ladies and
gentlemen of her household imitated her example, as they retired a pace
or two behind her. Hitherto the Queen-mother had exhibited the most
perfect composure, but she no sooner found herself once more in the
presence of her son than she burst into a passionate flood of tears,
which she attempted to conceal as she approached him by spreading her
fan before her face. Louis moved forward in his turn, still clinging to
De Luynes, but no trace of emotion was visible in his countenance, which
was cold, and almost careless in its expression.

"Sir," said the unhappy Queen so soon as she had recovered her
composure, "the tender care with which I watched over your youth, the
efforts which I made for the preservation of your kingdom, the dangers
which I braved, and which I might have avoided had I been induced to
hazard the safety of your crown, will justify me before God, and prove
that I have never had any other view than that of securing your welfare.
I have repeatedly entreated that you would be pleased to take the reins
of government into your own hands, and relieve me from so heavy a
responsibility, but you considered my services to be necessary, and
commanded their continuance. I have obeyed you, both because I was bound
to respect your will, and because I felt that it would have been
cowardly to abandon you when you were threatened with danger.[306] If I
have failed to meet your wishes, or have contravened them, I can only
entreat of you to pardon me; and to believe that had you explained your
pleasure it should have been fulfilled. I rejoice that you are now about
to govern your kingdom in your own person; and I pray God to grant you
every prosperity. I thank you for the concessions which you have made;
and I trust that you will henceforward act towards me like a good son
and a good sovereign; while I, on my side, pledge myself that I shall
ever continue to be your very humble and very obedient mother
and servant."

"Madame," replied Louis in a cold and constrained tone, while the Queen
was still struggling to suppress her tears, "I am convinced that you
have always acted with the greatest zeal and affection. I am perfectly
satisfied, and beg to thank you. You have expressed a wish to retire to
Blois, and I have consented to that wish. Had you remained near me you
should still have retained that share in the government which you have
so long held; and you are still at liberty to do so, whenever you may
desire it. Rest assured that I shall never fail to love, honour, and
obey you as my mother upon every occasion; and that I shall continue
throughout my life to be your very humble son."

This notable oration had been delivered by the young King with all the
monotonous intonations of a studied recital, and was terminated by a
sigh of relief as he saw himself near the conclusion of the comedy. It
had been arranged that so soon as he ceased speaking the Queen should
stoop forward to embrace him; but in the excess of her agitation the
outraged mother disregarded the instructions which she had previously
received, and in an accent of heart-broken anguish she exclaimed: "I am
about to leave you, Sir; do not deny my last prayer. Release my faithful
Barbin, and suffer him to share my exile."

Louis, unprepared for this request, was uncertain how he should reply,
and glanced uneasily from De Luynes to Richelieu.

"Do not refuse me this, Sir," urged Marie once more; "it is the only
boon I ask--perhaps," she added after a moment's pause, "the last I
shall ever ask of you,"

Still Louis remained silent, with his cold stern eyes riveted upon her
agitated countenance.

The unfortunate Queen could not mistake the meaning of that fixed and
passionless look: her lip quivered for an instant, and then she bent her
stately head and slightly touched the forehead of her son. Louis replied
to the embrace by a profound and silent bow, and turned away hurriedly,
as if weary of the scene in which he had played so undignified a part.
As he moved aside, De Luynes approached the Queen-mother; and having
bent his knee, and kissed the hem of her robe, he uttered a few words in
so low a voice that they were inaudible to those who stood behind her.
In reply she was overheard to say that she had solicited his Majesty to
allow Barbin to follow her to Blois, and to continue his duties as
superintendent of her household; and that she should consider herself
greatly indebted to the kindness of the favourite if he would exert his
influence to that effect. De Luynes was about once more to speak, when
the voice of the King was heard loudly calling for him; and putting
forward as an excuse the impossibility of compelling his Majesty to
wait, he once more bowed to the ground, and made his retreat.

When she saw him disappear in the crowd Marie de Medicis gave free vent
to the emotion which she had so long partially controlled; and as the
other great nobles of the Court successively bent before her, she
remained with her face buried in her handkerchief, sobbing audibly, and
apparently unconscious of their homage. Ten minutes afterwards she
descended the great staircase, and took her seat in the coach which was
to convey her to Blois, accompanied by the Princesses and all the
principal ladies of the Court, who were to attend her to the city gates.
An immense crowd had collected on the quay of the Louvre to see her
pass; but, contrary to the apprehensions of her friends, not a word of
insult or reproach was uttered. There was something so appalling even to
the most reckless in her sudden fall; something so sad in this gorgeous
procession which seemed rather to mock than to honour her misfortunes;
so sharp and bitter a lesson in the spectacle of a Princess lately
all-powerful thus driven from her palace-home to immure herself in a
fortress, and this too in broad daylight, under the eyes of her
subjects, and in the streets of the capital, that she excited the
involuntary sympathy even of her enemies.

This sympathy was, however, unfelt by her son; who no sooner became
aware that she was about to enter her carriage than he hurried to the
balcony of the Queen's apartment, whence he attentively watched the
departure of the _cortège_, manifesting the most lively interest in the
preliminary arrangements; and as the last equipage disappeared, he
returned to the room saying gaily: "Now then, gentlemen, we will start
for Vincennes."

Some minutes afterwards, the palace resounded with the voices of
ushers, pages, and men-at-arms; a dozen carriages rolled into the Court;
the King paid a farewell visit to his dogs, his birds, and his wife; and
then, desiring that the Queen and her ladies should follow him on the
morrow, he left orders that the Louvre should be minutely searched
throughout, in order to ascertain beyond all possibility of doubt that
no gunpowder had been concealed within the edifice for the purpose of
effecting his destruction; after which he sprang into his coach, with an
undisguised cheerfulness which left no doubt that his affected respect
and attachment for his mother were by no means incompatible with a
hearty sense of relief at his emancipation from her control.[307]

The Maréchale d'Ancre had been committed to the Bastille on the 29th of
April, lightly dressed, despoiled of all her ornaments, and without the
most trifling pecuniary resource; so thoroughly destitute, indeed, of
the common necessaries of life that she was indebted to Madame Persan,
the wife of the lieutenant of the fortress, for a couple of changes of
body-linen. Even the Prince de Condé, who was professedly her enemy, was
deeply moved when he ascertained her pitiable condition. "It was not to
Leonora that political crimes should be attributed," he said, with an
indignation which did honour to his heart; "but to the insatiable
ambition of her husband."

Her only attendants were an Italian maid and her apothecary, whose
constant care was required from the precarious state both of her bodily
and mental health; but she nevertheless maintained a self-command and
composure which astonished all by whom she was approached. She uttered
no complaint; exhibited no resentment; and in reply to the condolences
of her gaolers, simply replied: "I must have patience; my enemies are
powerful, the Queen-mother is absent, and no doubt I shall be compelled
to leave France. I will retire with my son to Florence; we have still
the means of subsistence, and I must endeavour to forget the past."

Some days subsequently her women succeeded in conveying to her a few
changes of apparel and two hundred crowns in money; but when, on the
11th of May, she was transferred to the prison of the Conciergerie,
these effects were in their turn stolen from her, and she once more
found herself totally penniless. In addition to this misfortune she was
apprised that she could no longer be permitted to retain her attendants,
as the regulations of a felon prison did not admit of such an
indulgence; and on hearing this, she said with a cry of agony: "I
am lost!"

The Court remained a fortnight at Vincennes, after which the King
returned to the Louvre. There, instead of endeavouring, according to the
sage advice of his ministers, to render the absence of his mother
unfelt by the adoption of measures calculated to prove that he was equal
to the responsibility which he had been so eager to assume, he soon
returned to the puerile amusements he had latterly affected to despise;
and spent the day in colouring prints, beating a drum, blowing a bugle,
or making _jets d'eau_ with quills.[308] On one occasion when
Bassompierre was complimenting him upon the facility with which he
acquired everything that he desired to learn, he replied with great
complacency: "I must begin again with my hunting-horn, which I blow very
well; and I will practise for a whole day."

"Be careful, Sire," was the reply of the courtier; "I would not advise
your Majesty to indulge too much in such a diversion, as it is injurious
to the chest; and I have even heard it asserted that the late King
Charles IX burst a blood-vessel on the lungs from his abuse of that
instrument; an accident which terminated his life."

"You are wrong, Sir," said Louis with one of his cold saturnine looks;
"it was his quarrel with Catherine de Medicis which caused his death. If
he had not followed the bad advice of the Maréchal de Retz, and resided
with her subsequently at Monceaux, he would not have died so young."

Bassompierre was silenced; and thenceforward resolved never again to
mention the name of the Queen-mother in the presence of his royal
master.[309]

Meanwhile it was universally anticipated that as all the other Princes
had been restored to favour, M. de Condé would be liberated; but such a
measure by no means accorded with the views of De Luynes, who, aware of
the influence of the noble prisoner, felt himself too weak to cope
openly with the first Prince of the Blood; and, consequently, the only
benefit which Condé derived from the death of the Maréchal d'Ancre was a
mitigation of the extreme vigilance with which he had hitherto been
guarded. The conduct of the Princess his wife was at this juncture above
all praise. She had, from the first period of his imprisonment, been
persevering in her efforts to accomplish his liberation; and having
failed to do this, had solicited the permission of the King to share his
captivity; but, by the advice of his favourite, Louis had hitherto
resolutely refused to accede to such an arrangement; although he might
justly have been struck by the heroism of a sacrifice which in her case
was heightened tenfold by the fact that, despite the jealousy which he
had constantly exhibited, M. de Condé had made no secret of his utter
indifference to his wife, and would never forgive her relations with
Henri IV. After the departure of the Queen-mother, however, De Luynes
judged it expedient to accept the offer of the Princess; and she was
accordingly informed that she might proceed to the Louvre, where the
King would grant her an audience. She had no sooner received this
permission than she hastened, accompanied by the Duchesse d'Angoulême
her sister, to throw herself at the feet of the young sovereign; where,
bathed in tears, she sobbed out her acknowledgment of the indulgence
extended to her, and implored him to extend his clemency to the Prince
her husband. "But should you unhappily consider it expedient to detain
him in the Bastille, Sire," she concluded with deep emotion, "I entreat
of your Majesty to allow me to share his prison."

"Madame," replied Louis, "it was already my intention so to do. I am
sincerely attached to M. de Condé, and to all his house; and every
attention shall be paid to him until my government is perfectly
established. I greatly regret that at the present moment I am prevented
by circumstances from restoring him to liberty; but assure him from me
that I will cause his liberation at the earliest opportunity."

Again and again did the delighted Princess utter her thanks; and after
having been graciously dismissed by the King, she lost not a moment in
proceeding, armed with the royal authority, to the Bastille, where,
having constituted herself a prisoner, she hastened to impart her
hopeful tidings to the Prince.

Despite the assurances which she had received, however, from the lips of
Louis himself, four more weary months were passed by M. and Madame de
Condé in the fortress, in that daily and hourly fever of expectation
which is more agonizing than utter despair; and even at the close of
that dreary time, instead of the liberty for which the husband and wife
alike panted, an order arrived at the Bastille for the transfer of the
deluded and unhappy couple to the Castle of Vincennes, which was
communicated to them as a signal mark of the royal clemency; and in that
citadel they were detained until the autumn of 1619.[310] The result of
Madame de Condé's admirable self-abnegation was, however, a source of
triumph for her woman-heart, as the Prince was not proof against so
unequivocal a demonstration of attachment, and thenceforward evinced
towards her a tenderness which amply repaid her sacrifice.

Shortly after the transfer of Madame d'Ancre to the Conciergerie she was
put upon her trial; but as her mental hallucination, together with her
estrangement from her husband, rendered it probable that sufficient
proof of political delinquency could not be adduced against her to
justify an extreme sentence, and as her escape from the scaffold must
necessarily tend to render his tenure of the confiscated property of
Concini (of which he had already obtained the reversion) difficult, if
not impossible, De Luynes did not hesitate to tamper with her judges,
and to induce them, alike by bribes and threats, to accomplish her
death. For this purpose a second charge was coupled with that of
_lèse-majesté_, which was brought conjointly against herself and her
murdered husband. She was accused of sorcery as well as of conspiring
against the state; of casting alike nativities to compass the
destruction of the King, and cannon for the service of the disaffected
Princes; together with a host of other crimes, none of which could be
proved against her. So palpable, indeed, was the motive of her
persecutors, that it excited the popular indignation; and the masses,
who had so recently execrated the name of the unfortunate woman, began,
ere the conclusion of her trial, to look upon her only as the victim of
De Luynes. "You will see," said some of the citizens, as they learnt
with what dignified calmness and logical precision she refuted the
several charges brought against her, "that here the case of the Duc de
Biron will be reversed--like her he was the victim of policy, but he
died like a woman, while she will meet her fate like a man."

And they were correct in their conclusion. Whatever might have been her
faults while she continued the favourite of fortune, Leonora Galigaï was
grand in her adversity; and one of her judges was so much overpowered by
his conviction of her innocence, that on recollecting the pledge which
he had given to De Luynes to decide upon her guilt, he fainted and was
carried from the Court. When accused of treason against the state, the
prisoner replied by reminding her accusers of her total estrangement
from her husband during the last two years, throughout which period he
had been all-powerful with the Queen-mother, and her own consequent
loss of influence; and when questioned as to the nature of the sorcery
by which she had so long governed her royal mistress, she answered that
it was simply the magic exercised by a strong mind over a weak one.[311]
To the other charges she responded with equal composure and
conclusiveness; and many among them were of so puerile a character that,
despite the fearful position in which she was placed, she could not
suppress a smile of mingled pity and amusement.

She was foredoomed, however; and on the 8th of July the sentence was
pronounced. It was in truth a frightful one! Both the husband and the
wife were declared guilty of _lèse-majesté_ divine and human; and she
herself was condemned to lose her head, and to be afterwards burned;
their house was to be levelled with the ground; their property, not only
in France, but also all that they possessed at Rome and Florence, was to
be confiscated to the Crown; and their son deprived of his rank, and
rendered incapable of holding any office in the kingdom.[312]

When this sentence was declared the wretched woman, who had never
anticipated a more severe fate than exile, exclaimed in a piteous voice:
"Oimè poveretta!" but shortly recovering herself, she resumed the same
calm courage which she had previously evinced.

Perhaps the most merciful portion of her sentence was that which
condemned her to suffer on the same day; and for this she was
undoubtedly indebted to the impatience of De Luynes, who did not feel
himself secure of the succession until she should have ceased to
breathe. The revelations which she had made of the extent of her wealth
during the preliminary examinations in the prison had sealed her fate,
as they so far exceeded all his anticipations that they silenced every
throb of compunction and negatived every other feeling; and they thus at
least spared her a night of agony during which she might have brooded
over the miserable prospects of her idolized son.

It is painful to reflect upon the position which the Marquise had
filled, and to see her thus shaken and withered both in mind and body;
abandoned by the protectress to whom she had clung so long and so
confidingly; widowed by violence; separated from her only surviving
child; and compelled to drain her cup of bitterness to the very dregs.
Not a pang was, however, voluntarily spared to her. She might, in
consideration of her rank as the wife of a Marshal of France, and out of
respect for the Queen-mother, of whom she had not only been the
foster-sister but also the familiar friend, have been conveyed to the
place of execution in a covered carriage, and thus have been in some
degree screened from the public gaze; but no such delicacy was observed.
The criminal's cart, with its ghastly faggot for a seat, was her
ordained conveyance; but her step did not falter as she stepped into the
vehicle which had been previously tenanted by the vilest and most
degraded culprits. Never had there been seen so dense a crowd in the
Place de Grève; and as she glanced hurriedly around, unaware of the
popular reaction of feeling, she cowered for an instant panic-struck,
and murmured helplessly: "Oh, what a multitude to gaze upon a
miserable woman!"

Not a word, not a gesture of vengeance or of hate, escaped, however,
from the populace. Her deportment had been so dignified, her courage so
great, her piety so perfect, that those who were once her bitterest
enemies looked on her through their tears. Her charities had been
unremitting and extensive; and those whom she had aided in their
necessities had thronged, through a morbid and mingled feeling of
gratitude and awe, to see her die.[313]

Her head fell--her body was burned--and her ashes were scattered to the
wind.

De Luynes had, as we have stated, constituted himself her heir; but it
was not without difficulty that he succeeded in appropriating the
principal portion of the coveted wealth of his victims. Du Vair, with a
firmness for which the favourite was not prepared, refused for a
considerable time to countersign the letters of consignment which had
been granted by the King to that effect; declaring that as the property
of Concini and his family had been confiscated to the Crown, it could
not be otherwise disposed of. This difficulty was, however, surmounted
after the fashion of the period, and the signature of the scrupulous
minister was purchased by the rich bishopric of Lisieux; after which De
Luynes himself negatived the destruction of the magnificent hôtel of the
Maréchal, to which he transferred his own establishment, and then
proceeded to enforce his claims upon the funded property in Rome. This
pretension was, however, opposed by the Pope, who declared that all
monies confiscated within the Roman states must necessarily revert to
himself; and Louis XIII, after having in vain endeavoured to induce the
Sovereign-Pontiff to rescind this declaration, found himself ultimately
compelled to make a donation of the five hundred thousand francs claimed
by his favourite to the cathedral of St. Peter's.

The Grand Duke of Tuscany, in his turn, refused to recognize the right
of De Luynes to the funds which had been entrusted to him by the
Maréchal d'Ancre, but from a higher and a holier motive; as the young
Comte de la Péna was no sooner set at liberty, with an injunction
immediately to leave France, than he received him with all the sympathy
due to his unmerited misfortunes, and put him in possession of this
remnant of his inheritance. Thenceforward the son of Concini remained in
Italy until the year 1631, when he fell a victim to the plague.[314]

Before we quit the Court to follow exclusively the fortunes of Marie de
Medicis, it is necessary that we should record three circumstances of
social interest which occurred during the year 1617. The first in order
is the death of the President de Thou, one of the most able and upright
ministers, and, perhaps, the most conscientious historian that France
had ever known. He expired on the 7th of May. The next, in point of
chronology, is the marriage of De Luynes, who--having obtained the most
absolute power, not only over the King personally, but also over all
state affairs--being anxious to strengthen his position yet more by a
great alliance, after having for a time contemplated an union with the
daughter of the Duc de Vendôme, ultimately entered into a negotiation
for the hand of Mademoiselle de Montbazon.[315] This negotiation proved
successful; and through her means he became closely connected with the
most ancient and powerful families in the kingdom. The marriage took
place on the 13th of September, and the bride was admitted to the
honours of the _tabouret_;[316] while in order to render him more
acceptable to the haughty houses into which the favour of his sovereign
had thus afforded him ingress, the exulting favourite was elevated to a
duchy-peerage, and took his seat in the Parliament. The last
circumstance to which allusion has been made is the death of M. de
Villeroy, who terminated his life at the ripe age of seventy-four years
on the 30th of December. As we have already stated, he was possessed of
little education, had no taste for either literature or art, but was
singularly upright and shrewd in the management of public business;
while he was, moreover, so thoroughly disinterested, that in the midst
of all the cupidity which at that period disgraced the Court of France,
after having been fifty-one years in office, he died with the mere
addition of two thousand livres _per annum_ to his patrimonial
income.[317]

In order to enlist popular opinion in his favour, De Luynes had, as we
have seen, induced the King to recall the old ministers to power; and
the people, still remembering the wisdom which they had displayed during
their administration, welcomed with joy the reappearance of Sillery,
Villeroy, and Jeannin in the Council; but although the favourite
ostensibly recognized their privileges, he was far from intending to
permit their interference with his own interests;[318] and so thoroughly
did he enslave the mind of the young King, that while Louis, like a
schoolboy who had played truant, and who was resolved to enjoy his
new-found liberty to the uttermost, was constantly changing his place of
abode, and visiting in turn St. Germain, Fontainebleau,
Villers-Cotterets, and Monceaux, without one care save the mere
amusement of the hour, De Luynes was multiplying his precautions to
prevent a reconciliation between the mother and the son; an event which
must, as he believed, whenever it should occur, prove the ruin of his
own fortunes. For this purpose, so soon as he saw a cloud upon the brow
of the royal stripling, he hastened to devise for him some new and
exciting pursuit, which might tend to deaden his remorse for the past,
and to render him more conscious of the value of that moral emancipation
which he had purchased at so fearful a price; but ere long even this
subtle policy failed to dissipate the apprehensions of the favourite.
Like all persons who occupy a false position of which they fully
appreciate the uncertain tenure, he became suspicious of all around him;
and would not allow any individual, whatever might be his rank, to
approach the King without his knowledge, nor to attempt to converse with
him in private. Thus, therefore, while Louis fondly believed that he had
indeed become a monarch in fact as well as name, he was in reality more
enslaved than ever.

Enriched by the spoils of Concini and his wife, De Luynes next caused
himself to be appointed lieutenant of the King in Normandy; and this was
no sooner done than he entered into a negotiation for one of the
principal governments in the kingdom. He appeared suddenly to have
forgotten that one of the most cogent reasons which he had so lately
given for the necessity of sacrificing the Maréchal d'Ancre and his
wife was the enormous wealth of which they had possessed themselves at
the expense of the state. His ambition as well as his avarice became
insatiable; and not contented with pushing his own fortunes to a height
never before attained by a mere petty noble, he procured great
advantages for his brothers, and lodged them in his apartments in the
Louvre. But while Louis remained unconscious or careless of the new
bondage into which he had thus fallen, the courtiers and the people were
alike less blind and less forbearing. With that light-heartedness which
has enabled the French in all ages to find cause for mirth even in their
misfortunes, some wag, less scrupulous than inventive, on one occasion,
under cover of the darkness, affixed above the door leading to the rooms
occupied by the brothers a painting which represented the adoration of
the Magi, beneath which was printed in bold letters, "At the sign of the
Three Kings"; a practical jest which afforded great amusement to the
Court.[319]

At this period Louis XIII, still a mere youth, and utterly inexperienced
in those great questions of public policy which determine the prosperity
or the peril of a nation, resolved upon a measure which Henri IV himself
had not ventured to undertake. The Roman Catholic religion had been
abolished in Béarn by Jeanne d'Albret, his grandmother, and the property
of that church seized in virtue of an Act passed at the assembly of the
States; and now, on the demand of his clergy, he determined to issue a
decree ordaining the restitution of all the ecclesiastical property, and
the re-establishment of the Roman faith. This was, of course, resisted
by the Protestants, as well as the annexation of the principality of
Béarn to the Crown of France; but the advisers of the young King
considered the opportunity to be a favourable one for effecting both
measures; and they easily persuaded him to persevere in his purpose. The
edict was consequently published; and its effects were destined to be
painfully felt by the reformed party throughout the remainder of
his reign.

The people, on their side, had not forgotten the promises which they had
received of a reform in the government, and De Luynes still continued to
give them hopes of their accomplishment; but as no measures to that
effect were taken, they, at this period, demanded a new assembly of the
States-General. They were, however, induced to modify this demand; and a
meeting of the _Notables_[320] was finally conceded, which was to take
place at Rouen on the 24th of November, in the presence of the
sovereign. This assembly was accordingly held, but thanks to the
influence of De Luynes produced none of the results which had been
anticipated.[321]

A few days before the departure of Marie de Medicis from Paris the King
of Spain declared war against the Duke of Savoy, who immediately
appealed to France for aid, which was in the first instance refused;
but, on the representations of the Maréchal de Lesdiguières, it was
finally accorded, and troops were raised which proceeded to Piedmont
under the command of that general.[322]

Such was the general aspect of the Court and kingdom of France at the
close of the year 1617; of which we have considered it necessary to
sketch the principal features, in order to remind the reader of the
exact position of the country at the period of the Queen-mother's exile.
Henceforward we shall principally confine ourselves to following her in
her banishment.

FOOTNOTES:

[293] The Comte de Fiesque was the equerry of Anne of Austria.

[294] Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 643, 644. Pontchartrain, _Mém_. p. 223.

[295] Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 396, 397. Richelieu, _Mém_. book viii.
pp. 420-428. Rohan, _Mém_. p. 144. Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 647-649.
Mézeray, vol. xi. p. 139. Richelieu, _Hist, de la Mère et du Fils_ vol.
i. pp. 200-202.

[296] Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mère et du Fils_, vol. i. pp. 202-204.

[297] Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. iv. p. 63.

[298] Le Vassor, vol. i. p. 643.

[299] Rohan, _Mém_. book i.

[300] Bassompierre, _Mém_. p. 126. Le Vassor, vol. i. p. 653.

[301] Richelieu, _Hist, de la Mère et du Fils_, vol. i. p. 200.

[302] Déageant, _Mém_. pp. 65, 66.

[303] The dower of the widowed Queens of France was twelve hundred
thousand annual livres.

[304] Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 140, 141. Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 655, 656.
Sismondi, vol. xxii. p. 403.

[305] Jean Goujon, a celebrated architect and sculptor, who was surnamed
the Correggio of sculpture from the grace and beauty of his productions.
The finest of his statues was the Hunting Diana, which long formed one
of the treasures of Malmaison. The Fountain of the Innocents, the
bas-reliefs of the Hôtel de Carnavalet, and those of the Louvre were
alike the monuments of his genius. He was occupied in completing the
latter when he was killed by the ball of a carbine during the massacre
of St. Bartholomew.

[306] Richelieu, Unpublished MSS.

[307] Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 398-404. Bassompierre, _Mém_. pp. 126,
127. Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 653-659. Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 137-142.
Brienne, _Mém_. vol. i. pp. 327-329.

[308] Rohan, _Mém_. book i. Le Vassor, vol. i. p. 659.

[309] Bassompierre, _Mém_. p. 128.

[310] Le Vassor, vol. i. p. 666. _Relation de la mort du Maréchal
d'Ancre_. Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 142, 143. Dreux du Radier, vol. vi. pp.
123, 124. Brienne, _Mém_. vol. i. p. 333.

[311] Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 407, 408. Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 667-672.
Richelieu, _Hist, de la Mère et du Fils_, vol. i. pp. 223-230.

[312] This incapacity to hold office under the French Government was,
moreover, on this occasion, declared thenceforward to extend to all
individuals who were natives of other countries; and an attempt was made
thirty years subsequently to render it applicable to Cardinal Mazarin.

[313] Bernard, book iii.

[314] Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 410, 411. Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 674,
675.

[315] Marie de Rohan-Montbazon was the daughter of Hercule de Rohan, Due
de Montbazon, and of his first wife, Madeleine de Lenoncourt. After the
death of the Connétable de Luynes she married Claude de Lorraine, Due de
Chevreuse, and became celebrated towards the close of the reign of Louis
XIII, and during the minority of his successor, for her wit, her beauty,
her profligacy, and her political intrigues. She died at a very advanced
age in the year 1679.

[316] Brienne, _Mm_. vol. i. p. 333.

[317] Le Vassor, vol. i. p. 675. Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 430, 431.

[318] D'Héricourt, vol. i. p. 529.

[319] Le Vassor, vol. i. p. 678.

[320] By the _Notables_ was understood a body of the most eminent
individuals among the nobles, the clergy, and the law-officers; and as
these were chosen by the ministers themselves, such an assembly could
excite no apprehension among the Court party.

[321] Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 144, 145.

[322] Sismondi, vol. xxii. p. 331.

END OF VOL. II





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