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Title: The Life of Marie de Medicis — Volume 3
Author: Pardoe, Julia, 1804-1862
Language: English
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THE LIFE OF MARIE DE MEDICIS, VOL. III

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: Louis XIII]



CONTENTS


BOOK III

MARIE DE MEDICIS AS EXILE


CHAPTER I

1618

De Luynes resolves to compel the Queen-mother to remain at
Blois--Treachery of Richelieu--The suspicions of Marie are aroused--Her
apprehensions--She demands permission to remove to Monceaux, and is
refused--She affects to resign herself to her fate--A royal
correspondence--Vanity of the Due d'Epernon--A Court broil--The Abbé
Rucellaï offers his services to Marie de Medicis--He attempts to win
over the great nobles to her cause--He is compelled to quit the Court,
and retires to Sedan--The Due de Bouillon refuses to join the cabal--The
Duc d'Epernon consents to aid the escape of the Queen-mother--The
ministers become suspicious of the designs of Richelieu--He is ordered
to retire to Coussay, and subsequently to Avignon--Tyranny of M. de
Roissy--The Queen-mother resolves to demand a public trial--De Luynes
affects to seek a reconciliation with the Prince de Condé--Firmness of
the Queen-mother--The three Jesuits--Marie pledges herself not to leave
Blois without the sanction of the King--False confidence of De
Luynes--The malcontents are brought to trial--Weakness of the
ministers--Political executions--Indignation of the people--The Princes
resolve to liberate the Queen-mother.


CHAPTER II

1619

The Due d'Epernon leaves Metz--A traitor--A minister at fault--The Duc
de Bellegarde offers an asylum to the Queen-mother--Marie de Medicis
escapes from Blois--She is conducted by M. d'Epernon to
Angoulême--Gaieties of the capital--Marriages of the Princesse Christine
and Mademoiselle de Vendôme--Louis XIII is apprised of the escape of the
Queen--Alarm of the King--Advice of De Luynes--The Council resolve to
despatch a body of troops under M. de Mayenne to remove Marie de Medicis
from the keeping of the Duc d'Epernon-Discontent of the citizens--Louis
XIII enters into a negotiation with his mother--She rejects his
conditions--Richelieu offers himself as a mediator, and is accepted--The
royal forces march on Angoulême--Marie prepares for resistance--The
Princes withdraw from her cause--Schomberg proposes to blow up the
powder-magazine at Angoulême--Critical position of the Queen-mother--She
appeals to the Protestants, but is repulsed--Schomberg takes up arms
against the Duc d'Epernon--Alarm of Marie de Medicis--Richelieu proceeds
to Angoulême--He regains the confidence of the Queen--Successful
intrigue of Richelieu--Marie is deserted by several of her friends--A
treaty of peace is concluded between the King and his mother--The envoy
of Marie incurs the displeasure of Louis XIII--The malcontents rally
round the Queen-mother--The Princes of Piedmont visit Marie at
Angoulême--Their reception--Magnificence of the Duc d'Epernon--The
Queen-mother refuses to quit Angoulême--Ambition of Richelieu--Weakness
of Marie de Medicis--Father Joseph endeavours to induce the Queen-mother
to return to the Court--She is encouraged in her refusal by
Richelieu--The rival Queens--Marie leave Angoulême--Her parting with the
Duc d'Epernon--She is received at Poitiers by the Cardinal de Retz and
the Duc de Luynes--The Prince de Condé offers the hand of his sister
Eléonore de Bourbon to the brother of De Luynes as the price of his
liberation--The sword of the Prince is restored to him--Duplicity of the
favourite--Marie resolves to return to Angoulême, but is dissuaded by
her friends--The Duc de Mayenne espouses the cause of the
Queen-mother--A royal meeting--Return of the Court to Tours--Marie
proceeds to Chinon, and thence to Angers--The Protestants welcome the
Queen-mother to Anjou--Alarm of De Luynes--Liberation of the Prince de
Condé--Indignation of Marie de Medicis--Policy of Richelieu--De Luynes
solicits the return of the Queen-mother to the capital--She refuses to
comply--De Luynes is made Governor of Picardy--His brothers
are ennobled.


CHAPTER III

1620

Louis XIII creates numerous Knights of the Holy Ghost without reference
to the wishes of his mother--Indignation of Marie de Medicis--Policy of
De Luynes--Richelieu aspires to the cardinalate--A Court quarrel--The
Comtesse de Soissons conspires to strengthen the party of the
Queen-mother--Several of the great Princes proceed to Angers to urge
Marie to take up arms--Alarm of the favourite--He seeks to propitiate
the Duc de Guise--The double marriage--Caustic reply of the Duc de
Guise--Royal alliances--An ex-Regent and a new-made Duke--The
Queen-mother is threatened with hostilities should she refuse to return
immediately to the capital--She remains inflexible--Condé advises the
King to compel her obedience--De Luynes enters into a negotiation with
Marie--An unskilful envoy--Louis XIII heads his army in Normandy--Alarm
of the rebel Princes--They lay down their arms, and the King marches
upon the Loire--The Queen-mother prepares to oppose him--She garrisons
Angers--The Duc de Mayenne urges her to retire to Guienne--She
refuses--Treachery of Richelieu--League between Richelieu and De
Luynes--Marie de Medicis negotiates with the King--Louis declines her
conditions--The defeat at the Fonts de Cé--Submission of the
Queen-mother--A royal interview--Courtly duplicity--Marie retires to
Chinon--The Ducs de Mayenne and d'Epernon lay down their arms--The Court
assemble at Poitiers to meet the Queen-mother--Louis proceeds to
Guienne, and Marie de Medicis to Fontainebleau--The King compels the
resumption of the Romish faith in Béarn--The Court return to Paris.


CHAPTER IV

1621-24

Attempt to secure a cardinal's hat for Richelieu frustrated by De
Luynes--Death of Philip III of Spain--De Luynes is created Connétable de
France--Discontent of the great nobles--Disgust of the Maréchal de
Lesdiguières--The Protestants of Béarn rise against their
oppressors--The royal troops march against them--They are worsted, and
despoiled of their fortified places--The King becomes jealous of his
favourite--_Le Roi Luynes_--Domestic dissensions--The favourite is
threatened with disgrace--Cruelty of Louis XIII--Death of De
Luynes--Louis determines to exterminate the Protestants--A struggle for
power--Prudence of Bassompierre--Condé encourages the design of the
King--The old ministers are recalled--They join with the Queen-mother in
her attempt to conclude a peace with the reformed party--Marie de
Medicis solicits a share in the government--The King complies, but
refuses to sanction the admission of Richelieu to the Council--The
Duchesse de Luynes and Anne of Austria--Frustrated hopes--Condé aspires
to the French throne--Louis XIII leaves the capital by stealth in order
to join the army at Nantes--The Queen-mother prepares to follow him, but
is overtaken by illness--Ruthless persecution of the Protestants--Siege
of La Rochelle--Venality of the Protestant leaders--Indignation of the
Catholic nobles--Resistance of the citizens of Montpellier--Military
incapacity of Condé--The Duc de Rohan negotiates a peace, and Condé
retires to Rome--Montpellier opens its gates to the King--Bad faith of
Louis XIII--Triumphal entry of the King at Lyons--Marriage of the
Marquis de la Valette and Mademoiselle de Verneuil--Richelieu is created
a cardinal--Exultation of the Queen-mother--Death of the President
Jeannin--Prospects of Richelieu--His duplicity--Misplaced confidence of
Marie de Medicis--Louis XIII returns to Paris--Change in the
Ministry--Anne of Austria and the Prince of Wales--The Queen-mother and
her faction endeavour to accomplish the ruin of the Chancellor, and
succeed--Richelieu is admitted to the Council--Indignation of
Condé--Richelieu becomes all-powerful--His ingratitude to the
Queen-mother--The Queen-mother is anxious to effect a matrimonial
alliance with England--Richelieu seconds her views--The King of Spain
applies for the hand of the Princesse Henriette for Don Carlos--His
demand is negatived by the Cardinal-Minister--La Vieuville is dismissed
from the Ministry--Duplicity of Louis XIII--Arrest of La
Vieuville--Change of ministers--Petticoat intrigues--The Duc d'Anjou
solicits the hand of Mademoiselle de Montpensier--The alliance is
opposed by the Guises and forbidden by the King.


CHAPTER V

1625-28

Death of James I.--The Princesse Henriette is married by
proxy to Charles I--The Duke of Buckingham arrives in France
to conduct his young sovereign to her new country--An arrogant
suitor--Departure of the English Queen--Indisposition of Marie
de Medicis--Arrival of Henriette in London--Growing power of
Richelieu--Suspicions of the Queen-mother--Influence of the
Jesuit Bérulle over Marie de Medicis--Richelieu urges Monsieur
to conclude his marriage with Mademoiselle de Montpensier--Character
of Gaston--He refuses to accept the hand of the lady--Arrest of M.
d'Ornano--Vengeance of Richelieu--Indignation of Monsieur--Alarm of the
Queen-mother--Pusillanimity of Gaston--Arrest of the Vendôme
Princes--Edicts issued against the great nobles--Sumptuary
laws--Execution of the Comte de Bouteville--The reign of
Richelieu--Policy of Marie and her minister--Distrust of the
King--Conspiracy against the Cardinal--Richelieu threatens to retire
from office--A diplomatic drama--Triumph of the Cardinal--Execution
of Chalais--Heartlessness of Gaston--Monsieur consents to an alliance
with Mademoiselle de Montpensier--A royal marriage--The victims
of Richelieu--Marie de Medicis and the Cardinal endeavour to
increase the dissension between Louis XIII and his Queen--Exile
of the Duchesse de Joyeuse-Accusation against Anne of Austria--She
becomes a state prisoner--Subtlety of Richelieu--Anticipated
rupture with England--Embassy of Bassompierre--Death of the Duc de
Lesdiguières--Favour of Saint-Simon--Pregnancy of the Duchesse
d'Orléans--Dissolute conduct of Monsieur--Birth of Mademoiselle--Death
of Madame--Marie de Medicis seeks to effect a marriage between Monsieur
and a Florentine Princess--Buckingham lands in France, but is
repulsed--Illness of Louis XIII--Disgust of the Duc d'Orléans--Louis
wearies of the camp--He is incensed against the Cardinal--The King
returns to Paris--Monsieur affects a passion for the Princesse Marie de
Gonzaga, which alarms the sovereign--His distrust of the
Queen-mother--Marie de Medicis withdraws her confidence from the
Cardinal--Mother and son--Louis returns to La Rochelle--The city
capitulates--Triumphal entry of Louis XIII into Paris--Exhortation of
the Papal Nuncio.


CHAPTER VI

1629

Richelieu resolves to undermine the power of Austria--State of
Europe--Opposition of the Queen-mother to a new war--Perseverance of the
Cardinal--Anne of Austria joins the faction of Marie de Medicis-Gaston
is appointed General of the royal army--Richelieu retires from the
Court--Alarm of Louis XIII--A King and his minister--Louis leaves Paris
for the seat of war--Monsieur is deprived of his command, and
retires to Dauphiny--Marie de Gonzaga is sent to the fortress of
Vincennes--Monsieur consents to forego his marriage until it shall
receive the royal sanction, and the Princess returns to the
Louvre--Marie is invested with a partial regency--Forebodings of the
Cardinal--Termination of the campaign--Renewed discord--Richelieu
becomes jealous of Bassompierre--Louis abandons his army, and is
followed by the minister--Counterplots--An offended mistress and an
ex-favourite--A hollow peace--Gaston retires to the Court of Lorraine,
where he becomes enamoured of the Princesse Marguerite--The Cardinal
invites him to return to Paris--Monsieur accepts the proposed
conditions--The French troops march upon Piedmont--Richelieu is
appointed Lieutenant-General of the royal forces in Italy--The King
resolves to follow him--Anxiety of Marie de Medicis to avoid a rupture
with Spain--Dissensions between the two Queens--Mademoiselle de
Hautefort--Failing influence of Marie de Medicis--Self-distrust of the
King--The Queen-mother endeavours to effect a reconciliation between
her sons.


CHAPTER VII

1630

Gaston returns to France--Precarious position of the French armies--Death
of the Duke of Savoy--The French besiege Pignerol--Richelieu urges the
King to possess himself of the Duchy of Savoy--Marie de Medicis opposes
the measure--Louis XIII overruns Savoy--The French lose Mantua--Jules
Mazarin--The King is attacked by fever at Lyons--Moral effects
of his indisposition--He consents to dismiss the Cardinal from
office--Reconciliation of the royal family--The Court return
to the capital--Richelieu endeavours to regain the favour of
the Queen-mother--Policy of Marie--Richelieu seeks to effect
the disgrace of Marillac--The two Queens unite their interests--Meeting
of the royal brothers--Gaston inveighs bitterly against the Cardinal--The
Queen-mother takes up her abode at the Luxembourg--Louis proceeds
in state to bid her welcome--Monsieur publicly affronts Richelieu--A
treaty is concluded with Italy--Public rejoicings in Paris--Marie
dismisses the Cardinal and his relations from her household--A
drama at Court--Richelieu prepares to leave Paris; but is dissuaded,
and follows the King to Versailles--Exultation of the citizens
at the anticipated overthrow of the Cardinal-Minister--The
courtiers crowd the Luxembourg--Bassompierre at fault--Triumph
of Richelieu--Hypocrisy of the Cardinal--"The Day of Dupes"--A
regal minister--The Marillacs are disgraced--Anne of Austria is
suspected of maintaining a secret correspondence with Spain--Gaston
conspires with the two Queens against Richelieu--Divided state of
the French Court--A _fête_ at the Louvre.


CHAPTER VIII

1631

Richelieu interdicts all correspondence between Anne of Austria and the
King of Spain--The Queen asks permission to retire to the Val de
Grâce--Her persecution by the Cardinal--Marie de Medicis protects her
interests--Monsieur pledges himself to support her cause--Gaston defies
the minister--Alarm of Richelieu--He resolves to effect the exile of the
Queen-mother--Monsieur quits the capital--Superstition of Marie de
Medicis--An unequal struggle--Father Joseph and his patron--The
Queen-mother resolves to accompany her son to Italy--Richelieu assures
the King that Marie and Gaston have organized a conspiracy against his
life--The Court proceed to Compiègne--The Queen-mother refuses to retain
her seat in the Council--Richelieu regains all his influence over the
King--Revenge of the Cardinal upon his enemies--Desperate position of
Marie de Medicis--Her arrest is determined upon by the Council--Louis
leaves her a prisoner at Compiègne--Parting interview of the
two Queens--Indignity offered to Anne of Austria--Death of the
Princesse de Conti--Indignation of the royal prisoner--A diplomatic
correspondence--Two noble gaolers--The royal troops pursue Monsieur--The
adherents of Gaston are declared guilty of _lèse-majesté_--Gaston
addresses a declaration to the Parliament--The Queen-mother forwards a
similar protest, and then appeals to the people--A paper war--The
garrison is withdrawn from Compiègne--Marie resolves to effect her
escape to the Low Countries--She is assured of the protection of Spain
and Germany--The Queen-mother secretly leaves the fortress--She is
betrayed by the Marquis de Vardes, and proceeds with all speed to
Hainault, pursued by the royal troops--She is received at Mons by the
Archduchess Isabella--Whence she addresses a letter to the King to
explain the motives of her flight--Reply of Louis XIII--Sympathy of
Isabella--The two Princesses proceed to Brussels--Triumphal entry of
Marie de Medicis into the capital of Flanders--Renewed hopes of the
exiled Queen--The Belgian Ambassador at the French Court--Vindictive
counsels of the Cardinal--The property of the Queen-mother and Monsieur
is confiscated--They are abandoned by many of their adherents--Richelieu
is created a duke--A King and his minister--Marie consents to the
marriage of Monsieur with Marguerite de Lorraine--The followers of the
Queen-mother and the Duc d'Orléans are tried and condemned--Louis XIII
proceeds to Lorraine to prevent the projected alliance of his
brother--Intrigues of Gaston--Philip of Spain refuses to adopt the cause
of Marie de Medicis--Marriage of Monsieur and the Princesse de
Lorraine--The Queen-mother endeavours to negotiate her return to
France--Richelieu determines the King not to consent--Charles de
Lorraine makes his submission to the French monarch--And signs a
compulsory treaty.


CHAPTER IX

1632

Gaston d'Orléans proceeds to Brussels--His reception--Vanity of
Monsieur--Exultation of the Spanish Cabinet--Montmorency abandons the
interests of Richelieu--Marie de Medicis solicits his support--He
consents to second the projects of Monsieur--The Queen-mother and the
Duc d'Orléans sell their jewels in order to raise troops for the
invasion of France--Trial of the Maréchal de Marillac--Marie and Gaston
exert themselves to save his life--He is executed--The adherents of the
two royal exiles create dissensions between the mother and son--Gaston
joins the Spanish army--Munificence of Isabella--Gaston marches upon
Burgundy--Remonstrance of Montmorency--An ill-planned campaign--Battle
of Castelnaudary--Slaughter of the rebel leaders--Cowardice of
Monsieur--Montmorency is made prisoner--Gaston endeavours to make terms
with the King--He abandons the cause of his mother, and that of his
allies--He stipulates for the pardon of Montmorency--Richelieu refuses
the condition--The treaty is signed by Monsieur--Jealousy of Louis
XIII--The miniature--Montmorency is conveyed to Toulouse, and put upon
his trial--Double-dealing of the Cardinal--Obduracy of the
King--Execution of Montmorency--Despair of the Queen-mother--Death of
the Comtesse du Fargis--The Jesuit Chanteloupe and Madame de
Comballet--A new conspiracy--The Archduchess Isabella refuses to deliver
up the servants of Marie de Medicis--Gaston retires to Burgundy.


CHAPTER X

1633

Monsieur returns to Flanders--The Queen-mother retires in displeasure to
Malines--Influence of Chanteloupe--Selfishness of Monsieur--Death of
Gustavus Adolphus--Richelieu seeks to withdraw the Queen-mother and her
son from the protection of Spain--Marie is urged to retire to
Florence--The Tuscan envoy--Two diplomatists--Mortification of the
Queen-mother--She desires to seek an asylum in England--Charles I.
hesitates to grant her request--Helpless position of Marie de
Medicis-The iron rule of Richelieu--The Cardinal-dramatist--Gaston avows
his marriage to the King--Louis enters Lorraine, and takes Nancy-Madame
escapes to the Low Countries--Her reception at the Court of
Brussels--Marie de Medicis takes up her residence at Ghent--Serious
indisposition of the Queen-mother--She solicits the attendance
of her physician Vautier, and is refused--Hypocrisy of the
Cardinal--Indignation of the dying Queen--She rejects the
terms of reconciliation offered by the King--Attachment of her
adherents--Richelieu negotiates the return of Gaston to France--The
favourite of Monsieur--Gaston refuses to annul his marriage--Alfeston is
broken on the wheel for attempting the life of the Cardinal--The
Queen-mother is accused of instigating the murder--The bodyguard
of the Cardinal-Minister is increased--Estrangement of Monsieur
and his mother--Madame endeavours to effect the dismissal of
Puylaurens--Insolence of the favourite--Heartlessness of Monsieur--Marie
solicits permission to return to France--She is commanded as a condition
to abandon her followers, and refuses--Death of the Archduchess
Isabella--Gaston negotiates, and consents to the most humiliating
concessions.


CHAPTER XI

1634

Increasing trials of the exiled Queen--Her property is seized on the
frontier--She determines to conciliate the Cardinal--Richelieu remains
implacable--Far-reaching ambition of the minister--Weakness of Louis
XIII--Insidious arguments of Richelieu--Marie de Medicis is again
urged to abandon her adherents--Cowardly policy of Monsieur--He
signs a treaty with Spain--The Queen-mother refuses to join in the
conspiracy--Puylaurens induces Monsieur to accept the proffered terms of
Richelieu--He escapes secretly from Brussels---Gaston pledges himself to
the King to "love the Cardinal "--Gaston again refuses to repudiate his
wife--Puylaurens obtains the hand of a relative of the minister and
becomes Duc de Puylaurens--Monsieur retires to Blois.


CHAPTER XII

1635-38

Richelieu resolves to accomplish the disgrace of Puylaurens--Gaston
proceeds to Paris during the Carnival, and his favourite is arrested in
the Louvre-He is conveyed to Vincennes, where he dies--The Queen-mother
and Madame take up their abode at Antwerp--Marie de Medicis solicits the
protection of the Pope--Her letter is coldly received--She is accused by
Richelieu of favouring the Spanish cause--She endeavours to dissuade
Louis XIII from a war with Spain, and her arguments are haughtily
repulsed--Her envoy is ordered to quit the capital--The Queen-mother
once more appeals to the Sovereign-Pontiff, who declines to excite
against himself the enmity of the Cardinal-Minister--Louis XIII pursues
the war with Spain--Monsieur and the Comte de Soissons enter into a
conspiracy to assassinate Richelieu--The Queen-mother joins the
faction--The plot is betrayed--Gaston returns to his allegiance--Marie
de Medicis induces the Comte de Soissons to enter into a treaty with
Spain--The intrigue is discovered by the Cardinal--The Queen-mother once
more solicits an asylum in England--Charles I. accedes to her request,
and endeavours to effect her reconciliation with the French
King--Richelieu determines Louis to reply by a refusal--Monsieur
abandons his wife, who becomes dependent for her support upon the
Spanish Government--Insignificance of Gaston--The Duchess of Savoy
endeavours to effect the recall of her royal mother to France--The three
Churchmen--Pregnancy of Anne of Austria--Renewed hopes of the
Queen-mother--She is again urged to reside in Tuscany--She proceeds to
Holland, and is magnificently received--The Prince of Orange intercedes
in her behalf with the French King--Richelieu reiterates his wish that
she should retire to Florence--The Dutch request her to leave the
country--Marie de Medicis embarks for England--She is received at
Gravesend by Charles I.--Takes up her abode in St. James's
Palace--Meeting between the two Queens--Precarious position of the
English King--The Court of the Queen-mother--The French Ambassador is
instructed to abstain from all intercourse with the royal exile--A last
appeal---Obduracy of the Cardinal--Richelieu, his sovereign, and his
benefactress.


CHAPTER XIII

1639-42

Charles I. despatches an envoy to Louis XIII to negotiate the recall of
the Queen-mother--Richelieu aspires to the regency--The embassy
fails-Queen Henrietta resolves to proceed in person to Paris--Her visit
is declined by the French King--Charles I. recalls his ambassador from
the Court of France--The increasing animosity of the English people
against the Queen-mother compels her to seek another retreat--She is
requested by Parliament to leave the country--Philip of Spain refuses to
afford her an asylum--She proceeds to Holland, and thence to
Antwerp--The painter-prince--A voluntary envoy--The last letter--Marie
de Medicis is commanded to quit the Low Countries--She takes refuge at
Cologne-The last home of fallen royalty--Waning health of Richelieu--His
intellectual energy--Trial of the Duc de la Valette--Trial of the
Duc de Vendôme--Affected magnanimity of the Cardinal--Senatorial
sycophancy--Exile of the Duc and Duchesse de Vendôme--Execution
of M. de Saint-Preuil--Conspiracy against Richelieu--The stolen
meetings--The titled beggar--Secret service--Complicity of Cinq-Mars
discovered--Execution of Cinq-Mars and De Thou--Cowardice of
the Duc d'Orléans--Lingering hopes of Marie de Medicis--Rubens
and Richelieu--The abortive mission--Rubens proceeds to Madrid--The
Kings of England and Spain withhold all pecuniary aid from
the Queen-mother--Despair of Marie de Medicis--Her utter
destitution--Death-bed of a crowned head--Tardy honours--Filial
affection and priestly piety--The vaults of St. Denis.



BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES

OF

THE THIRD VOLUME

M. de Roissy.
Cardinal de Bérulle.
Père Joseph.
Cardinal de Retz.
Marquise de Sablé.
Marquis de Caumartin.
M. de la Vieuville.
M. d'Aligre.
M. de Marillac.
Prince de Chalais.
Maréchal de Marillac.
Duc de Nevers.
Marquise de Seneçay.
Madame de Comballet.
M. de Thoiras.
Marquis de Spinola.
Cardinal Mazarin.
Père Chanteloupe.
M. de Puylaurens.
Henri II, Duc de Montmorency.
Marquis de Brézé.
Abbé de St. Germain.
M. Séguier.
Marquis d'Ayetona.
M. de Bouthillier.
Vicomte de Fabbroni.
Don Francisco de Mello.
Duc de Saint-Simon.
Marquis de Cinq-Mars.



ILLUSTRATIONS

VOL. III

1. LOUIS XIII........._Frontispiece_

2. FACSIMILE OF A LETTER TO M. DE BASSOMPIERRE,
DICTATED AND SIGNED BY MARIE DE MEDICIS ON
HER ESCAPE FROM BLOIS

3. THE CARDINAL DE RICHELIEU

Engraved by Geoffroy from the Original by Philippe de
Champagne.

4. FACSIMILE OF AN AUTOGRAPH LETTER OF THE CARDINAL
DE RICHELIEU TO M. DE BASSOMPIERRE
DURING HIS EMBASSY IN ENGLAND

5. FACSIMILE OF A LETTER TO THE MARECHAL DE BASSOMPIERRE,
SIGNED BY LOUIS XIII

6. CARDINAL MAZARIN

Engraved by Hopwood.

7. GEORGE VILLIERS, FIRST DUKE OF BUCKINGHAM

Engraved by W. Greatbach. Painted by G. P. Harding
from the Original by C. Jansens, in the Collection of
the Earl of Clarendon.

8. MARQUIS DE CINQ-MARS

Engraved by Langlois.



BOOK III


CHAPTER I

1618

De Luynes resolves to compel the Queen-mother to remain at
Blois--Treachery of Richelieu--The suspicions of Marie are aroused--Her
apprehensions--She demands permission to remove to Monceaux, and is
refused--She affects to resign herself to her fate--A royal
correspondence--Vanity of the Duc d'Epernon--A Court broil--The Abbé
Rucellaï offers his services to Marie de Medicis--He attempts to win
over the great nobles to her cause--He is compelled to quit the Court,
and retires to Sedan--The Duc de Bouillon refuses to join the cabal--The
Duc d'Epernon consents to aid the escape of the Queen-mother--The
ministers become suspicious of the designs of Richelieu--He is ordered
to retire to Coussay, and subsequently to Avignon--Tyranny of M. de
Roissy--The Queen-mother resolves to demand a public trial--De Luynes
affects to seek a reconciliation with the Prince de Condé--Firmness of
the Queen-mother--The three Jesuits--Marie pledges herself not to leave
Blois without the sanction of the King--False confidence of De
Luynes--The malcontents are brought to trial--Weakness of the
ministers--Political executions--Indignation of the people--The Princes
resolve to liberate the Queen-mother.


It will be remembered that Marie de Medicis left the capital under a
pledge from her son himself that she was at perfect liberty to change
her place of abode whenever she should deem it expedient to do so; and
that her sojourn at Blois was merely provisional, and intended as a
temporary measure, to enable her to establish herself more commodiously
in her own castle of Monceaux. Anxious for her absence, De Luynes had
induced the King to consent to her wishes; but she had no sooner reached
Blois than he determined that she should be compelled to remain there,
as he dreaded her influence in a province of which she was the absolute
mistress; and, accordingly, she had no sooner arrived in the
fortress-palace on the Loire than he began to adopt the necessary
measures for her detention. Within a week she was surrounded by spies; a
precaution which would appear to have been supererogatory so long as
Richelieu remained about her person, as his first care on reaching Blois
was to write to the favourite to repeat his offers of service; and he
himself informs us that "from time to time he sent him an exact account
of the Queen's proceedings;" while so much anxiety did he evince to
retain the confidence of the Court party that when Marie, desirous of
repaying the sacrifice which she believed him to have made in following
her fortunes, appointed him chief of her Council, he refused to accept
this office until he had written to obtain the sanction of the King; and
publicly declared that he would not occupy any official situation
whatever in her service until he ascertained the pleasure of
his Majesty.

These servile scruples did not, however, as he himself admits, suffice
to set at rest the suspicions of De Luynes, whose knowledge of the
Bishop's character by no means tended to inspire him with any confidence
in his professions;[1] while the Queen-mother, on her side, had soon
cause to apprehend that the motives of Richelieu for his self-banishment
were far less honourable than those which she had been so eager to
attribute to him. Certain projects which she was anxious to keep
profoundly secret became known to the favourite; and her natural
distrust, coupled with this fact, induced her to be gradually less
communicative to the intriguing prelate. Her spirits, moreover, gave way
under the successive mortifications to which she was subjected; and
combined with her somewhat tardy but deep regret at the fate of the
Maréchal d'Ancre were fears for her own safety, which appeared to be
daily threatened.

Her residence at Monceaux was soon in readiness for her reception; but
when she apprised the King of her intention of removing thither, she
received an evasive reply, and was courteously but peremptorily advised
to defer her journey. Marie de Medicis from that moment fully
comprehended her real position; but with a tact and dissimulation equal
to that of Louis himself, she professed the most perfect indifference on
the subject, and submitted without any remonstrance to the expressed
wish of her son. This resignation to his will flattered the vanity of
Louis, and quieted the fears of his favourite; but it by no means
deceived the subtle Richelieu, who, aware of the inherent ambition of
Marie de Medicis, at once felt convinced that she was preoccupied with
some important design, and consequently indisposed to waste her energies
upon questions of minor moment. At short intervals she addressed the
most submissive letters to the King, assuring him of her devoted
attachment to his interests, and her desire to obey his wishes in all
things; but these assurances produced no effect upon the mind of Louis,
whose ear was perpetually poisoned by the reports which reached him
through the creatures of De Luynes, who never failed to attribute to the
cabals of the Queen-mother all the Court intrigues, whatever might be
their origin or character. Like herself, however, he was profuse in his
professions of regard and confidence in her affection for his person and
zeal for his interests, at the very time when she could not stir a yard
from the fortress, or even walk upon the ramparts, without being
accompanied by a number of armed men, denominated by De Luynes, with
melancholy facetiousness, a guard of honour. Nevertheless Marie retained
the most perfect self-command; but she was fated to undergo a still more
bitter trial than she had yet anticipated; for so little real respect
did her son evince towards her that he entered into a negotiation for
the marriage of his sister the Princesse Christine with the Prince of
Piedmont without condescending to consult her wishes upon the subject;
thus at once disregarding her privileges as a mother and as a Queen.[2]

Superadded to this mortification was a second little less poignant. As
the great nobles whom she had helped to enrich during her period of
power resumed their position at Court, she anticipated from day to day
that they would espouse her cause, and advocate her recall to the
capital; but with the single exception of the Due de Rohan, not one of
the Princes had made an effort in her behalf; and the generous
interference of the latter had, as she was aware, excited against him
the animosity of De Luynes; while, on the contrary, the favourite showed
undisguised favour to all who abandoned her cause.

At the close of the year 1617 the Duc de Rohan had proceeded to Savoy,
and the Duc de Bouillon to Sedan; but the Ducs de Sully and d'Epernon
still remained in the capital, where the latter again displayed as much
pomp and pretension as he had done under the Regency; and at the
commencement of 1618 he had a serious misunderstanding with Du Vair, the
Keeper of the Seals, upon a point of precedence. Irascible and haughty,
he resented the fact of that magistrate taking his place on all
occasions of public ceremonial immediately after the Chancellor Sillery,
and consequently before the dukes and peers; and on Easter Sunday, when
the Court attended mass at the Church of St. Germain l'Auxerrois in
state, he seized him roughly by the arm, and compelled him to give way.
The King, indignant at so ill-timed a burst of passion, hastened to
interfere, and spoke sharply to the Duke, who did not condescend to
justify himself, but assumed an attitude of defiance, never subsequently
leaving his hôtel without the attendance of a numerous suite of
gentlemen ready to defend him in case of attack; while in addition to
this breach of etiquette, M. d'Epernon loudly complained of the bad
faith of De Luynes, who had promised, in order to induce his return to
Court, to obtain a cardinal's hat for his third son the Archbishop of
Toulouse, without, however, having subsequently made a single effort to
redeem his pledge. So bitterly, indeed, did he inveigh against the
favourite that he began to apprehend the possibility of an arrest; yet
still he lingered in the capital, as if unwilling to retreat before an
enemy whom he despised.[3]

Among the individuals who had followed the Queen-mother into exile was a
certain Abbé Rucellaï, a Florentine, who having failed to obtain
advancement at the Court of Rome, had passed over to France in the hope
of furthering his fortunes in that kingdom. His anticipations appeared
for a time likely to be realized, as he was warmly welcomed on his
arrival by his countryman Concini; but the assassination of the
favourite having blighted all his prospects, he resolved upon revenge,
and as a first step offered his services to Marie de Medicis, by whom
they were accepted. The Queen-mother had no sooner formed her little
Court than the Abbé proceeded to lay the foundations of his plot, which
was based upon her return to power, and which he was well aware must
involve the ruin of De Luynes; while at the same time he felt satisfied
that he should be amply recompensed by Marie herself for his
services.[4] No opposition had been made to the self-banishment of
Rucellaï by the Court party, as he was well known to be in infirm health
and of effeminate habits; and to exhibit in every phase of his character
the very reverse of a conspirator. He had, moreover, made friends during
his residence in Paris; and, through the interest of Zamet, had obtained
the Abbey of Signy in Champagne, which, together with his family
inheritance, secured to him an annual income of twenty thousand crowns.
This revenue he spent in the most liberal manner, and soon became very
popular from the suavity and refinement of his manners, and his extreme
generosity. An affair of gallantry had, however, involved him in a
quarrel with the nephew of the Duc d'Epernon; who, espousing the cause
of his relative, in his turn excited the hatred of the Abbé.[5]

Rucellaï had been but a short time at Blois before he felt that he could
carry out his plans with greater facility in the capital than while
subjected to the constant surveillance of the Court spies by whom Marie
de Medicis was surrounded; and he accordingly obtained permission to
return to Court, De Luynes being easily induced to believe that his
application was caused by his weariness of the monotony of Blois, and
his desire to participate once more in the gaieties of Paris. The fact,
however, was far otherwise. The thirst for vengeance had produced a
singular effect upon the Florentine; and although he still affected to
enact the sybarite, in order to mislead those whom he sought to ruin, he
became suddenly endued with a moral energy as well as a physical
strength of which no one had believed him to be possessed. Neither
fatigue, danger, nor difficulty sufficed to paralyze his exertions; and
if he was one hour at the feet of a Court beauty, he was busied the next
in the most subtle and well-devised attempts to win over one or other of
the great nobles to the cause of the exiled Queen.[6]

He experienced little difficulty in his undertaking; all the Princes
desiring the ruin of De Luynes and the return of the Queen-mother; but
when he urged that an endeavour should be made to effect her escape, to
secure her safety in a fortified town, and then to take up arms against
the favourite, he failed in finding one individual bold enough to
venture on so extreme a step, although all were ready to volunteer their
support when her flight should have been accomplished. In this extremity
Rucellaï cast his eyes upon the Duc de Bouillon, whose courage was
undoubted, and upon whose spirit of intrigue he calculated with
confidence;[7] but in order to win over the Marshal it was necessary
that he should communicate with him personally, and he accordingly
caused rumours to be spread which excited the apprehensions of the
ministers, and totally misled them as to his real designs, while at the
same time they induced De Luynes to issue an order for his immediate
departure from the capital. The Abbé complied with apparent reluctance;
and then lost no time in hastening to Signy, whence he proceeded with
all speed to Sedan.[8]

Here, however, contrary to his expectations, he was doomed to
disappointment; for while Bouillon expressed the greatest devotion for
Marie de Medicis, and asserted his wish for her restoration to power,
which he coupled with the remark that "the Court was still the same
wine-shop as ever, although they had changed the stamp of their cork,"
he pleaded his age and his infirmities as a pretext for declining to
enter into the conspiracy which was about to be organized for her
release; while, at the same time, he suggested that no individual could
be found more eligible to secure the success of such an enterprise than
M. d'Epernon. "He is both proud and daring," he said in conclusion;
"address yourself to him. This is the best advice which I can offer to
the Queen-mother." [9]

Of this fact the Abbé was himself persuaded; but two circumstances
appeared to present insurmountable obstacles to his success with the
haughty Duke. In the first place he had withdrawn from the Court greatly
incensed against Marie de Medicis, who had sacrificed his interests to
those of the Prince de Condé and the Maréchal d'Ancre; and in the next
he was the declared enemy of Rucellaï himself. The position of the Abbé
was perplexing, as he well knew that M. d'Epernon never forgave an
injury inflicted upon him by an inferior; but the crisis was one of such
importance that the Florentine resolved to make any concession rather
than abandon his design. He was aware that, however hostile the Duke
might be to himself personally, his hatred of De Luynes far exceeded any
feeling of animosity which he could possibly entertain towards a man
whom he considered as a mere adventurer; and the ambition of the Abbé
determined him to sacrifice his pride to the necessities of the cause in
which he laboured. Having therefore decided upon making his own feelings
subservient to the success of his enterprise, he returned without
hesitation to Paris, but he had still a great difficulty to overcome;
as, until the Duke should be made fully aware of the nature of his
mission, he could not venture to intrude upon his privacy, although the
moment was singularly favourable. M. d'Epernon had incurred the
displeasure of the Court by his quarrel with Du Vair, and his open
defiance of the favourite; his sons were equally incensed by the
disappointment to which the Archbishop of Toulouse had been latterly
subjected, and had been as unguarded as himself in their expressions of
disgust; but still Rucellaï was aware that he must exert the utmost
precaution in order not to excite the resentment of the man upon whose
co-operation he founded all his hopes of ultimate success; and after
having carefully considered the best method of effecting his purpose, he
decided upon inducing the Queen-mother to cause a letter to be forwarded
to the Archbishop of Toulouse, wherein he was requested to negotiate an
interview between his father and the Abbé. The young prelate willingly
undertook the task assigned to him; but whether it were that the Duke
still resented the conduct of Marie de Medicis, or that he feared to
compromise himself still further with the Court, he merely answered with
some impatience, "I am about to retire to Metz: I will not listen to any
propositions from the Queen until I am in my own government;" a reply
which did not, however, tend to discourage the persevering Florentine.

When the details of this attempt were communicated to her Marie hastened
to forward to M. d'Epernon a watch superbly ornamented with diamonds,
requesting him at the same time to confide to her the nature of his
intentions; but he again refused to give any explanations until he
should have left the capital.[10]

The journey of the Duke was not long delayed. His position became daily
more untenable; and on the 6th of May he quitted Paris, without even
venturing to take leave of the King.[11]

Rucellaï no sooner learnt that M. d'Epernon had reached Metz than he
prepared to follow up the negotiation. He had afforded an asylum at
Signy to Vincenzio Ludovici, the secretary of the Maréchal d'Ancre, who
had been sent to the Bastille at the period of his master's murder,
where he had remained until after the execution of Leonora Galigaï, when
an order was forwarded for his release. This man, who was an able
diplomatist, and had great experience in Court intrigue, possessed the
entire confidence of his new patron, who hastened to despatch him to the
Duc d'Epernon with a letter of recommendation from the Queen-mother, and
full instructions for treating with the haughty noble in her name.
Ludovici acquitted himself creditably of his mission; and although M.
d'Epernon at first replied to his representations by an indignant
recapitulation of the several instances of ingratitude which he had
experienced from the late Regent, he nevertheless admitted that he still
felt a sincere interest in her cause. This concession sufficed to
encourage the envoy; and after a time the negotiation was opened.
Vincenzio promised, in the name of the Queen, money, troops, and
fortresses; and, moreover, such advantageous conditions that the Duke
finally consented to return a decisive answer after he should have had
time to consider the proposals which had been made to him.[12]

Had M. d'Epernon followed the advice of his sons, the Marquis de la
Valette and the Archbishop of Toulouse, the enterprise might at once
have been accomplished. His vanity was flattered by the consciousness
that his services were not only essential but even indispensable to the
Queen-mother; but he had outlived the age of enthusiasm, and past
experience had made him cautious. He therefore declined giving any
definitive answer until he had ascertained who were the great nobles
pledged to the faction of the Queen-mother, and the amount of money
which she was prepared to disburse for the expenses of a civil war.

The agent of Rucellaï was ready with his reply. He informed the Duke
that the House of Guise, M. de Montmorency, the Maréchal de Bouillon,
and several others were prepared to join him so soon as he should have
declared openly in her favour; while Marie de Medicis was prepared to
advance considerable sums whenever they should be required.

Upon receiving this assurance M. d'Epernon hesitated no longer. He had
utterly forfeited his position at Court, while he had reason to
apprehend that De Luynes contemplated the confiscation of all his
offices under the Crown, and the seizure of his numerous governments; a
circumstance which determined him openly to brave the displeasure of the
King, and to espouse the interests of his mother.[13]

Throughout the whole of this negotiation Ludovici had been careful not
to betray to the Duke the fact that Rucellaï had organized the faction
of which he was about to become the leader; but he had no sooner pledged
himself to the cause than it became necessary to inform him of the
circumstance. His anger and indignation were for a time unbounded; he
was, however, ultimately induced to consent to an interview with the
Abbé, who on his arrival at Metz soon succeeded in overcoming the
prejudices of the offended noble, and in effecting his reconciliation
with the Maréchal de Bouillon. A common interest induced both to bury
past injuries in oblivion; and it was not long ere the Florentine was
enabled to communicate to Marie de Medicis the cheering intelligence
that the Cardinal de Guise, M. de Bouillon, and the Duc d'Epernon had
agreed to levy an army of twelve thousand infantry and three thousand
horse in the province of Champagne, in order to create a diversion in
case the King should march troops towards Angoulême, whither it was
resolved that she should be finally conveyed after her escape from
Blois; as well as to defend the Marquis de la Valette if an endeavour
were made to drive him out of Metz, while his father was absent with the
Queen-mother.

On receiving this intelligence Marie forwarded to Rucellaï the sum of
two hundred thousand crowns, of which he transferred a portion to the
Cardinal de Guise and the Maréchal de Bouillon; and every precaution was
taken to ensure the success of the enterprise.[14]

Despite all the caution which had been observed, however, these
transactions had not taken place without exciting the attention and
suspicions of the Court; and notwithstanding all his anxiety to secure
the confidence and goodwill of the favourite, Richelieu had been one of
the first to feel the effects of the hatred conceived against those who
under any pretext adhered to the interests of the Queen-mother. It is
true that on leaving Paris he had pledged himself to watch all her
proceedings, and immediately to report every equivocal circumstance
which might fall under his observation, but his antecedents were
notorious, and no faith was placed in his promise. De Luynes and the
ministers were alike distrustful of his sincerity; and only a few weeks
after his arrival at Blois an order reached him by which he was directed
to retire forthwith to his priory at Coussay near Mirabeau, and to
remain there until he should receive further instructions. In vain did
Marie de Medicis--who, whatever might be her misgivings as to his good
faith, was nevertheless acutely conscious of the value of Richelieu's
adhesion--entreat of the King to permit his return to Blois; her request
was denied, and the Bishop had no alternative save obedience; nor was it
long ere De Luynes induced Louis to banish him to Avignon.[15]

The annoyance of the Queen-mother upon this occasion was increased by
the fact that Richelieu was replaced at her little Court by M. de
Roissy,[16] who was peculiarly obnoxious to her. Her representations to
this effect were, however, disregarded; and she was compelled to receive
him into her household. If the statement of his predecessor be a correct
one, the unfortunate Marie had only too much cause to deprecate his
admission to her circle, as thenceforward her captivity became more
rigorous than ever, no person being permitted to approach her without
his sanction; while her favourite attendants were dismissed by his
orders (among others Caterina Selvaggio, who had accompanied her from
Florence and to whom she was much attached), and replaced by others who
were devoted to the interests of De Luynes.[17] It is, however,
difficult to believe that this account was not exaggerated, from the
extremely bitter spirit evinced by the writer; who probably endeavoured
to minimize in so far as he was able his own false behaviour towards his
royal mistress and benefactor, by an overwrought account of the
increased insults to which she was subjected after his departure.

This much is nevertheless certain, that the unfortunate Queen was
treated with a severity and disrespect which determined her to proceed
to any extremity rather than submit to a continuance of such unmitigated
mortification. Indignant at the prolonged imprisonment of Barbin, and
the harsh treatment endured by the few who still adhered to her cause,
she at length openly resisted the tyranny of her gaolers; upon which De
Luynes, perceiving that the mission of De Roissy had failed, despatched
the Maréchal d'Ornano to Blois, with express orders to leave untried no
means of intimidating her into submission; a task which he performed
with such extreme rudeness, that in the course of the interview he so
far forgot himself as to menace her with his hand, and to tell her that
should she undertake anything inimical to the interests of the
favourite, she should be exhausted "until she was as dry as wood." [18]
This insult, however, only tended to arouse the proud spirit of the
outraged Princess, who indignantly exclaimed: "I am weary of being daily
accused of some new crime. This state of things must be put an end to;
and it shall be so, even if I am compelled, like a mere private
individual, to submit myself to the judgment of the Parliament of
Paris." [19]

The new attitude thus assumed by the Queen-mother alarmed De Luynes,
whose increasing unpopularity induced him to fear that the Princes, who
did not seek to disguise their disgust at his unbridled arrogance, would
be easily persuaded to espouse her cause. He therefore endeavoured to
excite her apprehensions by affecting to accomplish a reconciliation
with M. de Condé, for which purpose he repeatedly despatched Déageant to
Vincennes in order that she might suppose the negotiation to have
commenced; but all these artifices failed to shake the resolution of
Marie de Medicis.

This display of firmness augmented the dismay of De Luynes and the
ministers, who then conjointly endeavoured to compel her to ask the
royal permission to retire to Florence; for which purpose they treated
her with greater rigour than before. Several troops of cavalry were
garrisoned in the immediate environs of Blois; she was not permitted to
leave the fortress; and orders were given that she should not, under any
pretext, be allowed to receive visitors without the previous sanction of
the favourite.[20] Still the spirit of Marie remained unbroken; and it
was ascertained that, despite all precautions, she pursued her purpose
with untiring perseverance. It thus became necessary to adopt other
measures. Cadenet, the brother of De Luynes, was accordingly instructed
to proceed to her prison, and to inform her that the King was about to
visit her, in order to make arrangements for her liberation; but the
Queen had been already apprised of his intended arrival, as well as of
the motive of his journey, and the fallacy of the promises which he had
been directed to hold out; and consequently, after coldly expressing her
sense of the intended clemency, and the gratification which she should
derive from the presence of her son, she dismissed the messenger as
calmly and as haughtily as though she had still been Regent of
the kingdom.

De Luynes and his adherents felt that hitherto nothing had been gained;
and they next determined to enlist the services of her confessor, the
Jesuit Suffren, who had, as they were aware, great influence over her
mind. Suffren declared himself ready to do all in his power to meet the
wishes of the King and his ministers, and to induce his royal penitent
to submit patiently to her captivity, should he be convinced that in so
acting he was fulfilling his duty towards both parties; and for the
purpose of a thorough understanding on this point, he suggested that an
accredited person should be named with whom he might enter into a
negotiation. De Luynes immediately appointed for this office another
Jesuit called Séguerand, and the two ecclesiastics accordingly met to
discuss the terms upon which Suffren was to offer the desired advice to
the Queen-mother; but he had no sooner ascertained that an unqualified
concession was demanded on her part without any reciprocal pledge upon
that of her enemies, than he conscientiously declined to give her any
such counsel, and the parties separated without coming to an
understanding.

This failure no sooner reached the ears of Arnoux, the King's confessor,
than he volunteered to renew the negotiation, under the impression that
he should be more successful than his colleague; an offer which was
eagerly accepted by De Luynes, who procured for him an autograph letter
from Louis XIII, which he was instructed to deliver personally into the
hands of Marie. In this letter the King stated that having been informed
of the wish of the Queen-mother to make a pilgrimage to some holy
places, he hastened to express his gratification at the intelligence;
and to assure her that he should rejoice to learn that she took more
exercise than she had lately done for the benefit of her health, which
was to him a subject of great interest; adding, moreover, that should
circumstances permit, he would willingly bear her company; but that, in
any case, he would not fail to do so in writing, as he desired that
wherever she went she should be received, respected, and honoured
like himself.

Habituated as she was to these wordy and equivocal communications, the
Queen-mother, aware that her every word and gesture would be closely
scrutinized by the reverend envoy, concealed her indignation, and
affected to experience unalloyed gratification from this display of
affection on the part of her son; a circumstance of which Arnoux availed
himself to impress upon her mind the certainty of an approaching and
complete reconciliation with the King, provided she should express her
willingness to comply with his pleasure in all things, and pledge
herself not to form any cabal against his authority, or to make any
attempt to leave Blois until he should sanction her departure; and it
would, moreover, appear that the Jesuit was eloquent, as he ultimately
succeeded in overcoming the distrust of his listener. If Suffren, who
had become weary of the monotony of Blois, and of the insignificance to
which his royal penitent was reduced by her enforced exile, was desirous
to see her once more resume her position at Court, Arnoux was no less
anxious on his part to secure her continued absence, as he apprehended
that her return to the capital would involve his own dismissal, from the
fact of his having owed his appointment to De Luynes; while whatever may
have been the arguments which he advanced, under cover of a sincere and
earnest wish to see the mother and the son once more united by those
natural bonds which had been for some time riven asunder, it is certain
that he finally effected his object, and induced the unfortunate
Princess to give full credence to his assurances of attachment towards
herself, and his pious wish to accomplish a reconciliation which was the
ardent desire of her own heart; and accordingly, before the termination
of the interview, Marie de Medicis pledged herself to all that
he required.

"I do not, Madame," said the subtle Jesuit, on receiving this assurance,
"doubt for a single instant the sincerity of your Majesty; but others
may prove less confiding than myself. I would therefore respectfully
urge you to furnish me with some document which will bear testimony to
the success of my mission, and demonstrate the excellent decision at
which you have arrived. Do this, and I will guarantee that you shall
obtain from the King your son all that you may desire."

Marie yielded; and her insidious adviser lost no time in drawing up an
act by which the imprudent Queen bound herself by a solemn oath to
submit in all things to the will and pleasure of the sovereign; to hold
no intelligence with any individual either within or without the kingdom
contrary to his interests; to denounce all those who were adverse to his
authority; to assist in their punishment; and finally, to remain
tranquilly at Blois till such time as Louis should see fit to recall her
to the capital. She was, moreover, induced to consent to the publication
of this document; and thus armed the astute Jesuit returned to Court,
where he received the acknowledgments of De Luynes, coupled with
renewed promises of favour and support.[21]

Aware of the deep devotional feelings of the Queen-mother, De Luynes
never for an instant apprehended that she would be induced to infringe
an oath by which she had invoked "God and the holy angels";[22] and he
consequently regarded her captivity as perpetual; but he forgot, when
arriving at this conclusion, that although he had, through the medium of
one Jesuit, succeeded in persuading her to consent to her own ruin,
there still remained about her person a second, whose individual
interests were involved with her own, and who would, in all probability,
prove equally unscrupulous. Such was, in fact, the case; Suffren, to
whose empire over the mind of Marie we have already alluded, did not
hesitate (when as days and weeks passed away, and no effort was made
towards her release, she began to evince symptoms of impatience, and of
regret at the act into which she had been betrayed) to assure her that
an extorted oath, however solemn, was not valid; and to impress upon her
that she was not justified before her Maker in depriving herself of that
liberty of action which had been His gift; a pious sophism which could
not but prove palatable to his persecuted mistress. Together with this
consoling conviction, she soon perceived, moreover, that she had at
least derived one benefit from her imprudence, as the Court party,
confiding in her word, made no attempt to prevent the realization of the
design which she had affected of a devotional pilgrimage; and which was
sanctioned by the letter of the King.

Anxious, however, to destroy any latent hope in which she might still
indulge of a return to power, De Luynes resolved to effect the ruin of
all who had evinced any anxiety for her restoration; and there was
suddenly a commission given to the Council, "to bring to trial the
authors of the cabals and factions, having for their object the recall
of the Queen-mother, the deliverance of the Prince de Condé, and the
overthrow of the State." The first victims of this sweeping accusation
were the Baron de Persan, the brother-in-law of De Vitry, and De
Bournonville his brother, who were entrusted with the safe keeping of
Barbin in the Bastille, and by whom he had been indirectly permitted to
maintain a correspondence with his exiled mistress; together with the
brothers Siti, of Florence, and Durand, the composer of the King's
ballets. The result of the trial proved the virulence of the
prosecutors, but at the same time revealed their actual weakness, as
they feared to execute the sentence pronounced against the three
principal offenders; and were compelled to satiate their vengeance upon
the more insignificant and less guilty of the accused parties.

M. de Persan was simply exiled from the Court; De Bournonville was
sentenced to death, but not executed; while Barbin only escaped the
scaffold by a single vote, and was condemned to banishment; a sentence
which the King subsequently aggravated by changing it to perpetual
imprisonment. The three pamphleteers, for such were in reality the
brothers Siti and Marie Durand, whose only crime appeared to have been
that they had written a diatribe against De Luynes,[23] did not,
however, escape so easily, as the two former were broken on the wheel
and burned in the Place de Grève, while the third was hanged.

Such a wholesale execution upon so slight a pretext aroused the
indignation of the citizens, and excited the murmurs of the people, who
could not brook that the person of an ennobled adventurer should thus be
held sacred, while the widow of Henry the Great was exposed to the
insults of every time-serving courtier. Nor were the nobles less
disgusted with this display of heartless vanity and measureless
pretension. The Ducs de Rohan and de Montbazon, despite their family
connexion with the arrogant favourite, had already openly endeavoured to
effect a reconciliation between Louis and the Queen-mother; and the
other disaffected Princes no sooner witnessed the effect produced upon
the populace by the cruel tyranny of De Luynes, than they resolved to
profit by this manifestation, and to lose no time in attempting the
deliverance of the royal prisoner.

Instant measures were taken for this purpose; and meanwhile the
favourite, lulled into false security, was wholly unconscious of this
new conspiracy, believing that by his late deed of blood he had awed
all his adversaries into submission.


FOOTNOTES:

[1] Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mère et du Fils_, vol. i. pp. 248, 249.

[2] Sismondi, vol. xxii. p. 434.

[3] Mézeray, vol. xi. p. 148. Le Vassor, vol ii. p. 7. Rohan, _Mém_. p.
153. Bassompierre, _Mém_. pp. 127, 128. Brienne, _Mém_. vol. i. pp.
334, 335.

[4] _Vie du Duc d'Epernon_, book vii.

[5] Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. iv. p. 567.

[6] Bassompierre, _Mém_. p. 128.

[7] Rohan, _Mém_. book i. _Vie du Duc d'Epernon_, book vii.

[8] Bassompierre, _Mém_. p. 129.

[9] Le Vassor, vol. ii. p. 36. Richelieu, _Hist, de la Mère et du Fils_,
vol. i. p. 324. Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 159, 160. Sismondi, vol. xxii.
p. 450.

[10] Le Vassor, vol. ii, pp. 37, 38.

[11] Mézeray, vol. xi. p. 148.

[12] _Relation du Cardinal de la Valette. Vie du Due d'Epernon_, book
vii. Le Vassor, vol. ii. pp. 38, 39. Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 148, 149.
Richelieu, _Mém_. book ix. p. 490.

[13] Le Vassor, vol. ii. pp. 39, 40. Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 149, 150.

[14] Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 161, 162. Le Vassor, vol. ii. p. 41.

[15] Le Vassor vol. i. p. 736. Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mère et du Fils_,
vol. i. pp. 252-293.

[16] Jean Jacques de Mesmes, Seigneur de Roissy, was the descendant of
an ancient and illustrious family, which had produced several eminent
men. He was a pupil of the learned Passerat, who resided for thirty
years in his father's house. He died in 1642, senior Councillor
of State.

[17] Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mère et du Fils_, vol. i. p. 261.

[18] Brienne, _Mém_. vol. i. p. 337.

[19] Déageant, _Mém_. pp. 129-131.

[20] Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. iv. pp. 555, 556. Lumières pour l'Hist. de
France dans les Defenses de la Reine-mère.

[21] Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. iv. pp. 557-561. Mézeray, vol. xi. pp.
168-170.

[22] Mézeray, vol. xi. p. 169.

[23] Fontenay-Mareuil, _Mém_. p. 418.



CHAPTER II

1619

The Duc d'Epernon leaves Metz--A traitor--A minister at fault--The Duc
de Bellegarde offers an asylum to the Queen-mother--Marie de Medicis
escapes from Blois--She is conducted by M. d'Epernon to
Angoulême--Gaieties of the capital--Marriages of the Princesse Christine
and Mademoiselle de Vendôme--Louis XIII is apprised of the escape of the
Queen--Alarm of the King--Advice of De Luynes--The Council resolve to
despatch a body of troops under M. de Mayenne to remove Marie de Medicis
from the keeping of the Due d'Epernon--Discontent of the citizens--Louis
XIII enters into a negotiation with his mother--She rejects his
conditions--Richelieu offers himself as a mediator, and is accepted--The
royal forces march on Angoulême--Marie prepares for resistance--The
Princes withdraw from her cause--Schomberg proposes to blow up the
powder-magazine at Angoulême--Critical position of the Queen-mother--She
appeals to the Protestants, but is repulsed--Schomberg takes up arms
against the Due d'Epernon--Alarm of Marie de Medicis--Richelieu proceeds
to Angoulême--He regains the confidence of the Queen--Successful
intrigue of Richelieu--Marie is deserted by several of her friends--A
treaty of peace is concluded between the King and his mother--The envoy
of Marie incurs the displeasure of Louis XIII--The malcontents rally
round the Queen-mother--The Princes of Piedmont visit Marie at
Angoulême--Their reception--Magnificence of the Due d'Epernon--The
Queen-mother refuses to quit Angoulême--Ambition of Richelieu--Weakness
of Marie de Medicis--Father Joseph endeavours to induce the Queen-mother
to return to the Court--She is encouraged in her refusal by
Richelieu--The rival Queens--Marie leaves Angoulême--Her parting with
the Due d'Epernon--She is received at Poitiers by the Cardinal de Retz
and the Due de Luynes--The Prince de Condé offers the hand of his sister
Eléonore de Bourbon to the brother of De Luynes as the price of his
liberation---The sword of the Prince is restored to him--Duplicity of
the favourite--Marie resolves to return to Angoulême, but is dissuaded
by her friends--The Duc de Mayenne espouses the cause of the
Queen-mother--A royal meeting--Return of the Court to Tours--Marie
proceeds to Chinon, and thence to Angers--The Protestants welcome the
Queen-mother to Anjou--Alarm of De Luynes--Liberation of the Prince de
Condé--Indignation of Marie de Medicis--Policy of Richelieu--De Luynes
solicits the return of the Queen-mother to the capital--She refuses to
comply--De Luynes is made Governor of Picardy--His brothers
are ennobled.


The Duc d'Epernon, to whom had been confided the important task of
effecting the escape of the Queen-mother from her fortress-prison, had
discussed all the necessary measures with the Abbé Rucellaï, who had, as
we have stated, acquired his entire confidence; and his first step was
to request permission of the King to leave Metz (where he had been
ordered to remain for the purpose of watching the movements in Germany),
and to proceed to Angoulême. But as he was aware that this permission
would be refused, he did not await a reply, and commenced his journey on
the 22nd of January (1619), accompanied by a hundred gentlemen well
armed, forty guards, and his personal attendants; taking with him the
sum of eight thousand pistoles together with the whole of his jewels. In
consequence of the amount of his baggage he was not enabled to travel
more than ten leagues each day; but as no impediment presented itself,
he arrived safely at Confolens in Poitou, where he was joined by his son
the Archbishop of Toulouse, who was awaiting him in that city with the
principal nobles of his several governments.[24]

Meanwhile Rucellaï had entrusted one of his lackeys with letters for the
Queen-mother, in which he informed her of the day of the Duke's intended
departure from Metz; but this man, convinced by the earnest manner in
which his master enjoined him to take the greatest precautions in the
delivery of his despatches, that the packet in his possession was one of
importance, instead of proceeding to Blois, hastened to the capital, and
offered to some of the followers of De Luynes to put a secret into the
possession of their master, provided he were well recompensed for his
treachery. The favourite was duly informed of the circumstance, but
prosperity had rendered him incautious, and he neglected to avail
himself of the intelligence; suffering several days to elapse before he
made any inquiry as to the nature of the communication which had thus
been volunteered. Fortunately for the Queen-mother, one of her own
adherents was less dilatory; and having ascertained that the
confidential lackey of Rucellaï had arrived in Paris, he caused him to
be found, and took possession of the letters before they could be
transferred to the hands of her enemy. As, however, he in his turn
delayed to forward them to Marie de Medicis, she became alarmed by the
silence of the Duc d'Epernon, and believed that her friends had
abandoned her to her fate; a conviction which reduced her to despair.
Her hopes had latterly been excited; the representations and arguments
of Suffren, seconded by her own desires, had quieted the scruples of her
conscience; and this new check was bitter in the extreme. A thousand
fears assailed her; treachery and hatred enveloped her on all sides; and
superadded to her own ruin, she was forced to contemplate that of all
who had adhered to her fallen fortunes; when, precisely as she was about
to abandon all hope, Du Plessis, the confidant of M. d'Epernon, arrived
at Blois with the welcome intelligence that the Duke was awaiting her at
Loches, very uneasy on his side at the non-receipt of her reply to
his letters.

The appearance of the messenger quieted the apprehensions of Marie, but
she still remained in a position of considerable perplexity from the
fact that all her most devoted adherents were absent negotiating with
the great nobles on her behalf, having found their mission one of far
greater difficulty than the profuse professions of the latter had led
her to anticipate. The Duc de Bellegarde, her relative, had written to
dissuade her from placing herself in the hands of a noble whose
arrogance could not fail to disgust those who desired to serve her. "As
for myself, Madame," he concluded, "I am quite ready to receive your
Majesty in my government of Burgundy, but I cannot offer my services in
any part of the kingdom which is subject to the authority of M.
d'Epernon."  Such an assurance alarmed the Queen-mother, who had great
reason to fear that the same objection would be even more stringently
urged by others less interested in her safety; but she had now gone too
far to recede. The Duke had already incurred the risk of the King's
displeasure by leaving Metz without the royal permission; he was at that
moment anticipating her arrival at Loches, whence he was to conduct her
to the château of Angoulême; and finally, she felt all the force of the
arguments of Du Plessis, who reminded her that every moment was
precious, as from hour to hour the enterprise might become known to the
favourite, and consequently rendered abortive.[25]

Hasty preparations were made; and during the night of the 21st of
February she escaped by a ladder from the window of her closet, attended
only by the Comte de Brienne, a single waiting-woman, and two
individuals of her household. It was not, however, without considerable
difficulty that she accomplished this portion of her undertaking, as at
the last moment it was discovered that, from her great bulk, the
casement would scarcely admit the passage of her person. Despair
nevertheless made her desperate; and after several painful efforts she
succeeded in forcing herself through the aperture; but her nerves were
so much shaken by this unlucky circumstance, that when she had reached
the platform, whence a second ladder was to conduct her to the ditch of
the fortress, she declared her utter inability to descend it; and she
was ultimately folded in a thick cloak, and cautiously lowered down by
the joint exertions of her attendants. The Comte de Brienne and M. du
Plessis then supported her to the carriage which was in waiting at the
bridge; and Marie de Medicis found herself a fugitive in her son's
kingdom, surrounded only by half a dozen individuals, and possessed of
no other resources than her jewels.

The fugitives travelled at a rapid pace until they reached Montrichard,
where the Archbishop of Toulouse, the Abbé Rucellaï, and several other
persons of note had assembled to offer their congratulations to the
Queen. Relays of horses were also awaiting her; and after a brief halt
the journey was resumed. At a short distance from Loches she was met by
the Duc d'Epernon at the head of a hundred and fifty horsemen; hurried
greetings were exchanged, and without further delay the whole party
entered the town; where the first act of Marie de Medicis, after she had
offered her acknowledgments to her liberators, was to address a letter
to the King, wherein she set forth her reasons for leaving Blois without
his permission, in terms as submissive as though he had not broken his
faith towards herself; coupled with assurances of her affection for his
person, and her zeal for his welfare.

Nothing, perhaps, is more painfully striking than the mutual deception
practised by mother and son throughout the whole correspondence
consequent on their separation. The abuse of terms was so open and so
palpable, and the covert rancour so easily perceptible in both, that it
is impossible to suppress a feeling of disgust as the eye rests upon the
elaborately-rounded periods and hollow professions with which their
several letters abound.

Marie remained two days at Loches, in order to await those of her
attendants who were to rejoin her upon the instant; and then proceeded,
still under the escort of the Duc d'Epernon, to Angoulême; where she was
shortly afterwards joined by several disaffected nobles who had retired
from the Court, unable to brook the authority of the favourite; while,
anxious to retain the confidence of those who were personally attached
to her, although they had declined to join her faction, she despatched a
confidential messenger to the capital with numerous letters, and among
others one to the Maréchal de Bassompierre, in which she explained the
motives of her flight.

Paris had, meanwhile, been a scene of constant festivity. The
dissipations of the Carnival, and the Fair of St. Germain, had occupied
the time and thoughts of the whole Court; while the Louvre had put forth
all its magnificence in honour of the nuptials of the Princesse
Christine and the Prince de Piedmont; as well as those of Mademoiselle
de Vendôme, the natural sister of the King, and the Duc d'Elboeuf.
Ballets, balls, and banquets were given by all the great nobles;
fireworks and illuminations amused the populace; and finally, the young
sovereign became so thoroughly weary of the tumult about him that he
retired to St. Germain-en-Laye, in order to escape from it, and to
obtain the rest which he was not, however, destined to find even there;
for he had no sooner arrived than he was followed by a courier charged
with despatches announcing the escape of the Queen-mother.

Alarmed by the intelligence, Louis immediately returned to the capital
and summoned his Council, before whom he laid the letter written by
Marie at Loches, and a second also addressed to himself by M. d'Epernon,
in which, with consummate sophistry, the Duke endeavoured to justify his
share in her flight. Nor was De Luynes less terrified than his royal
master by this sudden transition of affairs; and he consequently
laboured to impress upon the King and his ministers the absolute
necessity of refusing to hold any intercourse with the Queen-mother
until Louis should be in a position to compel her obedience to his will,
and to reduce the insurgent nobles who had openly declared in her favour
to complete submission. The letters which were laid before the Council
containing, moreover, a demand for the reform of the government, every
individual holding office under the Crown had a personal interest in
supporting this advice; and it was consequently resolved that Louis
should affect to believe that his mother had been forcibly removed from
Blois by the Duc d'Epernon, and that a large body of troops should be
forthwith assembled for her deliverance, under the command of the Duc de
Mayenne, from whom it was known that she had parted on bad terms.[26]
So extreme a resolution no sooner became known, however, than it created
general dissatisfaction. The unnatural spectacle of a son in arms
against his mother inspired all right-minded people with horror; and
when the King a few days subsequently proceeded to the Parliament to
verify some financial edicts (the enormous recent outlay of the Court
having exhausted the royal treasury) he was coldly received, and instead
of the loyal acclamations with which he had hitherto been greeted, he
heard on all sides murmured expressions of discontent and impatience.
These manifestations of popular disaffection alarmed the ministers, and
a new council was held, at which it was determined that before
proceeding to the _ultima ratio regum_ a negotiation should be attempted
with the emancipated Princess; and for this purpose the Comte de Béthune
and the Abbé Bérulle[27] were despatched to Marie de Medicis with full
powers to conclude a treaty between herself and the King.

The first suggestion offered to the Queen-mother by the royal envoys was
her abandonment of M. d'Epernon; but she indignantly refused to adopt so
treacherous a line of policy, declaring that she would listen to no
compromise which involved a disavowal of her obligations to one whom she
justly considered as her liberator.  "Moreover, Messieurs," she said
proudly, "even were I capable of such an act of treachery, I am unable
so to misrepresent the conduct of the gallant Duke, who holds in his
possession not only the letter of the King, wherein he gives me full
authority to leave Blois, and to proceed whithersoever I may see fit in
the interest of my health, but also one which I myself addressed to him
from Blois entreating his assistance in my escape from that fortress,
and his escort to Angoulême. I request, therefore, that as loyal
gentlemen you will refrain from accusing M. d'Epernon of an act of
violence which the respect due to the mother of his sovereign would have
rendered impossible on his part. I am here because I was weary of the
constraint and insult of which I had been so long the victim; and I am
ready to accept the whole responsibility of the step which I have seen
fit to take."

As the determined attitude of the Queen-mother rendered all further
discussion upon this point at once idle and impolitic, De Luynes
resolved to induce her to come to terms with the King without any
allusion to M. d'Epernon; and for this purpose the Archbishop of Sens
was directed to act in concert with the two original envoys, and to
endeavour to convince her that a prolonged opposition to the will of
the sovereign could only terminate in her own destruction. Still,
however, Marie remained firm, rejecting the conditions which were
proposed to her as unworthy alike of her rank and of the position she
had hitherto held in the kingdom; and the month of March went by without
the attainment of any result. De Luynes, irritated by a pertinacity
which threatened his tenure of authority, renewed his entreaties for the
formation of a strong army with which he could secure the overthrow of
the Due d'Epernon; and at the same time he suggested to Louis the recall
of the Bishop of Luçon, who had once more offered his services as a
negotiator between the contending parties.

The young King, who saw only through the eyes of his favourite, was
induced to comply with both proposals; and Marie de Medicis no sooner
ascertained that the royal troops were about to march upon Angoulême,
than she made preparations for defence. In order to do this more
effectually she addressed autograph letters to the Ducs de Mayenne and
de Rohan, to the Maréchal de Lesdiguières, and to several other great
nobles, soliciting their support in the impending struggle; but with the
sole exception of M. de Rohan, they all returned cold and negative
replies, informing her that the duty which they owed to the King would
not permit them to comply with her request; after which they forwarded
her letters to the Court, together with the answers which they had made,
thus purchasing their safety at the expense of their honour. The Due de
Rohan, on receiving her application, also declined to assist her, it is
true; but he did so loyally and respectfully, assuring her Majesty that
he greatly regretted she should so long have delayed requesting his
co-operation, as he would have served her zealously and faithfully,
whereas he was now no longer in a position to espouse her interests, the
King having commanded him to remain in his government of Poitou in order
to maintain peace in that province, a duty which his honour consequently
enforced upon him; but declaring at the same time that even while
obeying the commands of her son, he would not undertake anything
inimical to her own interests, and entreating her to effect an
understanding with the sovereign in order to avert the evils of a civil
war, and to ensure to herself the liberty and safety which could alone
enable her to rally about her person all those who were sincerely
desirous of serving her.

Although touched by the manliness and dignity of this reply, the
Queen-mother bitterly felt the loss of such an ally; nor were her
disappointment and mortification lessened when she discovered that the
Maréchal de Schomberg, anxious to convince Louis of the extent of his
zeal, and so to possess himself of the royal favour, had formed the
design of blowing up the powder-magazine of Angoulême, and thus
terminating the negotiation by a _coup de main_ of which she and her
adherents were destined to be the victims. The project was indeed
discovered and defeated, but the impression which it left upon her mind
was one of gloom and discouragement.[28]

We have already seen that the Due de Mayenne had protested to Rucellaï
his attachment to the cause and person of Marie; yet he did not hesitate
to accept the command of the army which was organized against her, and
to march upon the province of Angoumois at the head of twelve thousand
men. The position of the Queen--mother was critical. She issued
continual commissions for the levy of troops, but she was unable to
furnish the necessary funds for their support, and in this difficulty
she resolved to appeal to the Protestants who were at that time holding
their General Assembly at La Rochelle. She was aware that they were
inimical to De Luynes, and she trusted that they might consequently be
induced to join her own faction. Once more, however, she was doomed to
disappointment. They were dissuaded from such a project by Du
Plessis;[29] and M. d'Epernon, after the most strenuous efforts, could
not succeed in raising more than six thousand foot and one thousand
horse with which to make head against the royal army.

Moreover, Schomberg, Lieutenant of the King in Limousin under M.
d'Epernon, who was the governor of the province, declared against him,
and took the town of Uzerche which was feebly garrisoned,[30] while the
Duke was engaged in checking the advance of Mayenne; nor was it long
ere intelligence arrived at Angoulême that Boulogne-sur-Mer had opened
its gates to the royal forces, and thus revolted against the authority
of Epernon, who was also governor of Picardy.[31]

These disasters were a source of great anxiety to Marie de Medicis, who
began to apprehend that should the Duke be in like manner despoiled of
his other fortified cities he would no longer be in a position to afford
her any protection; but fortunately De Luynes had also taken alarm. The
citizens made no attempt to conceal their dissatisfaction, the populace
openly murmured in the streets, and the favourite had not yet had time
to forget the popular vengeance which had been wreaked upon the wretched
Concini; no wonder therefore that he trembled for himself. Richelieu had
been, as already stated, recalled from his exile at Avignon, and the
moment was now arrived in which his services were essential to De
Luynes, by whom he was forthwith despatched to Angoulême, on the
understanding that the King had perfect confidence in his fidelity, and
placed implicit reliance on his desire to prove his affection to his
person. The astute prelate required no further explanation as to what
was required of him; he was aware that his compulsory absence had caused
his services to be more than ever coveted by the Queen-mother, and he
lost no time in setting forth upon his treacherous errand, furnished
with a letter to Marie, below which Louis wrote with his own hand: "I
beg you to believe that this document explains my will, and that you
cannot afford me greater pleasure than by conforming to it."

The effect of Richelieu's presence at the Court of the Queen-mother soon
became apparent. He had so thoroughly possessed himself of her
confidence that she suffered him to penetrate even to the inmost
recesses of her heart; and great and dignified as she could be under
excitement, we have already shown that Marie de Medicis never had
sufficient strength of character to rely on herself for any lengthened
period. Exhausted by the violence of the sudden emotions to which she
was often a prey, all her energy deserted her after the impulse had
passed away, and she gladly clung to the extraneous support of those who
professed to espouse her interests. Richelieu had studied her
temperament, and understood it. Before he had been many days at
Angoulême the Duc d'Epernon and his son became aware that they no longer
possessed the same influence as heretofore, while the Abbé Rucellaï,
indignant at the coldness with which his advice was received and his
services were requited, withdrew in disgust, accompanied by several of
her most attached servants; among others the Marquis de Thémines, who,
shortly afterwards, irritated by a reverse of fortune which he had not
foreseen, sought a pretext of quarrel with Henri de Richelieu, the elder
brother of the Bishop of Luçon, whom he challenged and left dead upon
the field. Thus the unhappy Queen now lay wholly at the mercy of her
insidious counsellor; while he, on his part, acted with so subtle a
policy that his services were alike essential to both parties, and he
saw himself in a position to profit by the projected reconciliation, in
whatever manner it might be ultimately accomplished.

Meanwhile the Archbishop of Sens, the Comte de Béthune, and the Abbé de
Bérulle, in conjunction and with the assistance of Richelieu, were still
proceeding with the negotiation; and, finally, the King, anxious to
terminate the affair, gave a commission to the Cardinal de la
Rochefoucauld to conclude the treaty. The conditions were easily agreed
upon, as Marie was enslaved by the influence of Richelieu, and
disheartened by the lukewarmness of her former friends, while Louis was
weary of a contention which made him hateful in the eyes of all Europe,
and which fettered his movements without adding to his renown.

On the 30th of April the necessary documents were accordingly signed,
and by these the Queen-mother was authorized to constitute her household
as she should deem fitting, to reside wherever she thought proper, and
to preserve all her revenues intact; while, in consideration of these
privileges, she consented to exchange her government of Normandy for
that of Anjou. She was, moreover, to receive six hundred thousand livres
for the liquidation of her debts; and M. d'Epernon fifty thousand
crowns to indemnify him for the loss of the town of Boulogne, and with
his adherents to be declared exonerated from all blame, and permitted to
retain possession of their offices under the Crown; and, finally, to the
demand made by the Queen-mother that she should be placed in possession
of the city and castle of Amboise, or, failing that, of those of Nantes,
the Abbé de Bérulle was authorized to inform her on the part of the King
that "in addition to the government of Anjou, the town and fortress of
Angers, and the Ponts de Cé, he was willing to give her, in lieu of what
she asked, the city and castle of Tours, together with four hundred men
for the protection of those places, a company of gendarmes, and a troop
of light-horse, in addition to her bodyguards; the whole to be
maintained at his own expense." [32]

This treaty was no sooner completed than Marie de Medicis wrote to her
son to express the joy which she experienced at their reconciliation;
and she entrusted her letter to the Comte de Brienne, with instructions
to deliver it into the hands of the King, who had removed with his Court
to Tours, ostensibly for the purpose of a more speedy meeting with the
Queen-mother. The result proved, however, that Marie could not have
selected a worse messenger, as De Brienne, who was young and arrogant,
soon gave offence both to Louis and his favourite. Having declared that
he would not, under any circumstances, show the most simple courtesy to
De Luynes, he did not remove his hat when he met him in the royal
ante-room; a want of respect which excited the displeasure of the
monarch, who was easily led to believe that he had been instructed by
his mistress to affect this contempt towards an individual with whom he
himself condescended to live on the most familiar terms; and,
consequently, when De Brienne next presented himself to receive the
reply of his Majesty to his despatches, he was desired not to thrust
himself into the presence of the King, who would select an envoy less
wanting in reverence to his sovereign when he should deem it advisable
to forward his own missive to Angoulême. The ill-advised equerry of
Marie was therefore compelled to retire without his credentials, and the
Queen-mother was subjected to the mortification of offering an ample
apology to Louis, through the medium of the messenger whom he in his
turn despatched to her, for the arrogance and discourtesy of her
follower.[33]

Meanwhile Marie de Medicis once more saw herself at the head of a Court
nearly equal in numbers and magnificence to that of the King himself,
and daily presided over festivities which satisfied even her thirst for
splendour and display. It sufficed that any noble felt himself aggrieved
by the presumption, or disappointed by the want of generosity of the
favourite, to induce him to offer his services to the Queen--mother, who
welcomed every accession of strength with a suavity and condescension
rendered doubly acceptable from the contrast which it exhibited with the
morose indifference of the King, and the insolent haughtiness of De
Luynes. Thus constant arrivals afforded a pretext for perpetual
gaieties; and the Due d'Epernon received the new allies of his royal
mistress with a profusion and recklessness of expenditure which excited
universal astonishment.

De Luynes had considered it expedient to offer his congratulations to
the Queen-mother and M. d'Epernon upon the reconciliation which had
taken place, and in order to evince his respect for Marie had caused M.
de Brantès his brother to accompany the Cardinal de la Rochefoucauld to
Angoulême for this purpose, where both were received with a splendour,
and feasted with a pomp and elegance, to which they had been long
unaccustomed at the Court of Paris.

All these entertainments were, however, surpassed by those given by the
Duke on the occasion of a visit paid to her Majesty by Victor Amédée de
Piedmont, her new son-in-law, and his brother Prince Thomas of Savoy,
who had obtained the sanction of the King to proceed to Angoulême to
offer their respects to their illustrious relative. The two Princes were
met beyond the gates of the city by M. d'Epernon at the head of a party
of mounted nobles attired in their state dresses, and apartments
furnished in the most costly manner were prepared for them in the
episcopal palace, to which they were conducted amid the firing of
cannon, the sounds of martial music, and the acclamations of the
citizens; rushes and green boughs were strewn along their path, the
balconies of the houses were draped with tapestry and coloured cloths,
and a banquet had been prepared which was presided over by the
Queen-mother. The town of Angoulême was meanwhile alive with excitement
and delight until nightfall, when the streets were brilliantly
illuminated, and the joyous multitude were entertained by the
munificence of the Duc d'Epernon with a brilliant display of fireworks
which continued until midnight. Nothing, in short, evinced to the august
visitors any symptom of a reverse of fortune, such as they had been led
to expect, in the position and circumstances of Marie de Medicis. They
had merely exchanged one scene of royal display for another; and when,
upon the morrow, they were invited to attend a hunt which had been
organized in their honour, their surprise and gratification were too
evident for concealment.[34]

That the Queen-mother deeply felt the extent of the sacrifice made by M.
d'Epernon in her cause can admit of no doubt, for she was aware that he
was rapidly exhausting his resources in order to uphold her dignity; and
it is equally certain that she, on her side, was unwearied in her
efforts to ensure to him the gratitude and respect of her royal guests;
an attempt in which she so fully succeeded that on the return of the two
young Princes to the capital, the admiration which they expressed both
of the Queen and her deliverer excited the displeasure of De Luynes, who
could ill brook the rivalry of a man whom he at once feared and hated.
It was rumoured that this visit of the royal brothers to Angoulême had
been authorized by Louis at the suggestion of the favourite, who had
laboured to convince them of his anxiety for the return of Marie to the
Court, and had solicited their assistance in impressing upon her the
sincerity of his professions. Be this as it may, however, it is at least
certain that if the Princes lent themselves to his views, they failed in
producing the desired effect upon her mind; as, despite the invitation
of the King that she should approach nearer to Tours in order to
facilitate their projected interview, she constantly excused herself
upon the most frivolous pretexts, and continued to reside at Angoulême
without making the slightest preparation to obey his summons.[35]

This reluctance on her part to conclude a reconciliation, of which she
had hitherto expressed herself so desirous, excited the surprise and
apprehension of the Court, who sought a solution of the mystery from the
Bishop of Luçon; but the wily Richelieu was careful not to betray that
they were his own counsels which regulated the conduct of the
Queen-mother. He had well weighed his position, and he felt that it was
not yet sufficiently assured to enable him to oppose his influence to
that of De Luynes. He aspired to a seat in the Council, and in order to
attain it he must render himself more necessary to the favourite than he
had hitherto been enabled to do; a fact to which he was keenly alive.
Should the mother and the son meet at that moment, he was aware that the
excitable temperament of Marie could not fail to betray her into the
power of De Luynes, and with her would fall his own fortunes; whereas
time must necessarily calm her first exultation and render her more
tenacious of her power. Thus, then, Richelieu jealously watched every
change in her mood, excited her distrust, aggravated her animosities,
and, finally, convinced her that her strength existed only in opposition
to the King's will. Marie, naturally suspicious, lent herself readily to
this specious reasoning; she had sufficient knowledge of the character
of her son to feel that his eager desire to obliterate the past was
produced by no feeling of affection towards herself, but might simply be
attributed to his anxiety to weaken a faction which had become
formidable, and by depriving her adherents of a pretext for opposing his
authority, to rid himself of a danger which augmented from day to day.
Too readily the prey of her passions, Marie de Medicis exulted in this
conviction; and had Louis and his ministers been wise enough to accept
her reluctance as a refusal to return to Court, and abandoned all
attempts to change her determination, it is probable that this simulated
indifference, and the powerlessness to which it must ere long have
reduced both herself and her followers, would have caused her immediate
compliance; but, bent upon compelling her obedience, they, by successive
endeavours to overcome her disinclination to resign the comparative
independence to which she had attained, only played into the hands of
the astute Bishop, by strengthening her resolution to resist.

Shortly after the departure of the Princes of Savoy, the Capuchin Father
Joseph du Tremblay,[36] the confidential friend of Richelieu, was
ordered to proceed in his turn to Angoulême, and to endeavour to induce
Marie de Medicis, with whom the courtly monk was known to be a
favourite, to resume the position to which she was entitled as the widow
of one sovereign and the mother of another; and as a preliminary step,
to meet the King according to his expressed wish, before his return to
the capital. This was, however, only another false step on the part of
De Luynes, as the reverend father felt by no means disposed to thwart
the measures of the man to whom he looked for his own future
advancement; and his mission, in consequence, so signally failed that
the suspicions of the Court party were once more aroused against
Richelieu, although they were unable wholly to fathom the depth of his
subtle policy. These suspicions were, moreover, strengthened by the fact
that a new letter, addressed by the King to his mother, full of the most
pressing entreaties that she would divest herself of her distrust, and
confide in his affection (which letter was delivered to her by the Duc
de Montbazon, the father-in-law of De Luynes), produced no better
result. In vain did the Duke represent the earnest desire of Louis to
terminate a state of things so subversive of order, and so opposed to
all natural feeling, and assure her of the sincerity with which his
Majesty invited her to share his power; Marie, prompted by the astute
prelate, refused to yield.

"I am not invited to return to Court," she said bitterly; "I am to be
constrained to do so; but I will consent only upon one condition. Let
the Duc de Mayenne be my surety that I shall be treated as becomes my
dignity, both by the King and his favourite, and I will again enter the
capital. Without this safeguard I will not place myself in the power of
an adventurer."

Mayenne refused, however, to offer any such pledge, declaring that it
would not become him to interfere in any misunderstanding between the
sovereign and his mother; and Marie de Medicis thus saw herself under
the necessity of seeking some other method of evading compliance. A
pretext was soon found, however; and when next urged upon the subject,
she declared that her disinclination to involve the Court in new
difficulties must prevent her reappearance in the royal circle until the
question of precedence was clearly established between herself and the
Queen-consort.

Anne of Austria had not failed, from her first arrival in France, girl
as she was, to express great contempt for the House of Medicis, and to
assert the superiority of her own descent over that of her
mother-in-law; an assumption which had aroused all the indignation of
Marie, who had revenged herself by constantly speaking of Anne as "the
little Queen"; an insult which was immediately retorted by her
daughter-in-law in a manner that was keenly felt by the haughty Italian,
puerile and insignificant as it was. On every occasion Louis terminated
the letters that he addressed to her by subscribing himself "your very
humble and obedient son," and Marie insisted that his wife should follow
his example; but Anne refused to make such a concession, declaring that
as the Queen-mother merely signed herself "your very affectionate
mother," she would, on her side, do no more than subscribe herself
"your very affectionate daughter." Nor was this the only subject of
dispute, for Anne of Austria also insisted that as reigning Queen she
had a right to precedence over a Princess, who, although she had
formerly occupied the throne, had, by the death of her husband,
degenerated into a subject; nor could she be convinced to the contrary
even by past examples. In vain did Louis insist that his young wife
should yield, and rebuke her when she was wanting in respect to the
widowed Queen; the Spanish pride of Anne was proof against his
displeasure, and it was found impossible to reconcile their conflicting
claims.[37]

In the month of August the King conferred the promised _bâton_ of
Maréchal de France upon Charles de Choiseul, Marquis de Praslin, and
Jean François de la Guiche, Sieur de Saint-Géran.

The contention between Anne of Austria and her royal mother-in-law
remained undecided; and the position which the latter was to occupy at
the Court was consequently not clearly defined. She had obtained no
single advantage for which she had striven; no guarantee upon which she
had insisted; and, nevertheless, on the 19th of August, she left
Angoulême for the capital with a suite of ten coaches, each drawn by six
horses, and an escort of five hundred horsemen. The Duc d'Epernon bore
her company to the extreme frontier of his government, where they parted
with mutual manifestations of affection and goodwill. As the Duke, who
had alighted from the carriage where he had hitherto occupied a place
beside her Majesty, stood near the door expressing his last wishes for
her prosperity, and was about to raise her hand to his lips, Marie, who
was drowned in tears, drew a costly diamond from her finger, which she
entreated him to wear as a mark of her gratitude for the signal services
that he had rendered to her in her need; and then throwing herself back
upon her cushions she wept bitterly.

Well might she weep! She left behind her those who had rallied about her
in her misfortunes; and she was going forth into an uncertain future, of
which no human eye could penetrate the mysteries. The die was, however,
cast; and as a last demonstration of his respect and regard for her
person M. d'Epernon had instructed his son the Archbishop of Toulouse to
follow his royal mistress to Court; while he himself saw the brilliant
train depart, impoverished it is true by his uncalculating devotion to
her cause, but proud and happy in the conviction that without his aid
she would still have been a captive.

The retinue of the Queen-mother comprised the ladies of honour, the Duc
de Montbazon, the Bishop of Luçon, and several other individuals of
note; and thus attended she reached Poitiers, where the carriages of the
King were awaiting her arrival, and relays of horses were provided to
expedite her journey to Tours. From Poitiers she despatched Richelieu
in advance to announce her approach to Louis; and on his return to
report the completion of his mission, he was eloquent on the subject of
the graciousness of his reception both by the King and the favourite.

As she drew near the city Marie was met by the Cardinal de Retz[38] and
the Père Arnoux, accompanied by a numerous train of gentlemen, by whom
she was conducted to the Château de Montbazon, where she was to pass the
night; and on the following morning the newly-made Duc de Luynes arrived
to pay his respects to the mother of his sovereign. The Queen devoured
her mortification, and received her unwelcome guest with great
affability; but he had not been long in her presence ere he renewed all
her suspicions of his duplicity.

The Prince de Condé, who feared that a reconciliation between Louis and
the Queen-mother would militate against his release, had exerted himself
to the utmost to procure his liberty before they should have time to
meet; and aware that it was only through the influence of De Luynes that
he could accomplish his object, he did not hesitate to bribe the
favourite by an offer of the hand of his sister Eléonore de Bourbon, the
widow of Philip, Prince of Orange, for his brother Cadenet. De Luynes
was dazzled: an alliance with the first Prince of the Blood exceeded all
his hopes; while the liberation of M. de Condé, was, moreover,
essential to his own interests; as should he secure the friendship of so
powerful a noble, he would be better able to oppose not only the Duc
d'Epernon, but also all the leaders of the Queen-mother's faction. It
was, however, no part of his policy to betray his consciousness of this
necessity to the illustrious captive; whose imprisonment he nevertheless
rendered less irksome by according to him sundry relaxations from which
he had hitherto been debarred. A serious indisposition by which M. de
Condé was at this period attacked, moreover, greatly assisted his
projects; and the medical attendants of the Prince having declared that
they entertained but slight hopes of his recovery, De Luynes hastened to
entreat of the King that he would hold out to the invalid a prospect of
deliverance, which could not fail to produce a beneficial effect upon
his health. Nor did he experience any difficulty in inducing Louis to
comply with his request, as personally the King bore no animosity to the
Prince, whose arrest had not been caused by himself. The royal
physicians were forthwith despatched to Vincennes, with orders to exert
all their skill in alleviating his sufferings; and a few days
subsequently the Marquis de Cadenet followed with the sword of the
Prince, which he was commissioned to restore to its owner, accompanied
by the assurance that so soon as his Majesty should have restored order
in the kingdom, he would hasten to set him at liberty; but that,
meanwhile, he begged him to take courage, and to be careful of his
health.[39]

Cadenet was welcomed as his brother had anticipated; and was profuse in
his expressions of his own respect and regard for the illustrious
prisoner, and in his protestations of the untiring perseverance with
which the favourite was labouring to effect his release; while Condé was
equally energetic in his acknowledgments, declaring that should he owe
his liberty to De Luynes, he would prove not only to the latter, but to
every member of his family, his deep sense of so important a service.

Relying on this assurance, the favourite, whose greatest anxiety was to
prevent a good understanding between the King and his mother, had no
sooner concluded the compliments and promises to which Marie had
compelled herself to listen with apparent gratification, than he
hastened to inform her of the pledge given by Louis to terminate the
captivity of M. de Condé; craftily adding that his Majesty had hitherto
failed to fulfil it, as he desired to accord this signal grace to the
Prince conjointly with herself. Marie de Medicis, however, instantly
comprehended the motive of her visitor; and was at no loss to understand
that the liberation of a man whom she had herself committed to the
Bastille, and whom she had thus converted into an enemy, was intended as
a counterpoise to her own power. This conviction immediately destroyed
all her trust in the sincerity of her son and his ministers; and, unable
to control her emotion, she shortly afterwards dismissed De Luynes, and
retired to her closet, where she summoned her confidential friends, and
declared to them that she was resolved to return with all speed to
Angoulême without seeing the King.

From this dangerous determination she was, however, with some difficulty
dissuaded. They, one and all, represented that she had now gone too far
to recede; and reminded her that she was surrounded on every side by the
royal troops, while she was herself accompanied only by the members of
her household, who would be unable to offer any resistance should an
attempt be made to impede her retreat; and that, consequently, her only
safe plan of action was passively to incur the danger which she dreaded,
to dissimulate her apprehensions, and to watch carefully the progress
of events.

Marie could not, in fact, adopt a wiser course. The Duc de Mayenne, who
had espoused the royal cause against Epernon, was indignant at the
ingratitude and coldness with which his services had been requited, and
did not seek to disguise his discontent; while the nobles of Guienne, by
whom he had been followed, were in an equal state of irritation. This
circumstance was favourable to the Queen-mother, who lost no time in
persuading the Duke to make common cause with her against the favourite;
a proposition to which, excited by his annoyance, he at once acceded;
convinced that the projected reconciliation could not, under existing
circumstances, be of long duration.[40]  On the 5th of September Marie
de Medicis accordingly left Montbazon for Consières, where she was to
have her first interview with the King; and having ascertained upon her
arrival that he was walking in the park of the château, she hastily
alighted and went to seek him there, followed by the Ducs de Guise, de
Montbazon, and de Luynes, the Cardinal de Retz, and the Archbishop of
Toulouse, by whom she had been received, as well as by a dense crowd of
spectators who had assembled to witness the meeting. The crowd was so
great that it became necessary to clear a passage before the King could
approach his mother, to whom he extended his arms, and for a few moments
both parties wept without uttering a syllable. This silence was,
however, ultimately broken by Louis, who exclaimed in a voice of deep
emotion: "You are welcome, Madame. I thank God with all my heart that He
has fulfilled my most ardent wish."

"And I have henceforth nothing more to desire," replied Marie; "I shall
now die happy since I have had the consolation of once more seeing you,
Sire, and of embracing my other children. I have always loved you
tenderly; and I entreat of you to do me the justice to believe that I
have the most sincere attachment to your person, and every anxiety to
promote the welfare of your kingdom." [41]

It is painful to reflect that these expressions, so natural from the
lips of two individuals thus closely allied, who had been long at
variance, and had at length met in amity, should have been the mere
outpourings of policy; and yet, it is equally impossible not to be
struck by their hollowness and falsehood; Louis being, at that very
moment, endeavouring to undermine the influence of his mother by
estranging from her cause all those who still clung to her waning
fortunes; while Marie was labouring with equal zeal to strengthen her
position, by attracting to her faction all the discontented nobles whose
individual vengeance could be gratified by opposing in her name, and
apparently in her interests, the projects of those who had blighted
their own prospects, or wounded their own pride.

When both parties had become more calm, Louis gave his hand to his
mother and conducted her to the château, where they remained together
for the space of three hours awaiting the arrival of the young Queen,
the Princess of Piedmont, and Madame Henriette, who ultimately reached
Consières, accompanied by all the Princesses, and great ladies of the
Court, occupying a train of upwards of fifty coaches; and the ceremonial
of reception had no sooner terminated than the king proceeded on
horseback to Tours, followed by the whole of this splendid retinue. The
two Queens occupied the same carriage, and were lavish in their
expressions of mutual regard and goodwill; but the comedy was
imperfectly acted on both sides, although neither affected to doubt the
sincerity of the other. It was necessary that the piece should be played
out, and the performers were skilful enough to bring it to a close
without openly betraying the distastefulness of their task.

At the supper which followed the arrival of the Court at Tours every
mark of respect was shown to the Queen-mother. She was seated at the
right hand of Louis, while Anne of Austria occupied a place upon his
left. The Prince of Piedmont presented the _serviette_, and persisted in
remaining standing, and bareheaded, although Marie desired a stool to be
placed near her, and entreated him to seat himself. It is consequently
needless to add that she was overwhelmed with adulation; and that the
courtiers vied with each other in demonstrations of delight.

The twelve succeeding days were passed in a series of _fêtes_, of which
Marie de Medicis was the heroine; but it nevertheless became evident ere
the close of that period that all parties were fatigued by the efforts
which they were making to conceal their real sentiments; and a return to
the capital was no sooner mooted than the Queen-mother openly declared
that she would not be carried to Paris in triumph, but would defer her
entrance into that city until after her visit to Angers. This resolution
deeply offended the King, who, on taking leave of her, at once proceeded
to Compiègne, while the Prince and Princess of Piedmont departed for
Turin, and Marie removed to Chinon, where she remained for a few days in
order to give the magistrates of Angers time to complete the
preparations for her reception. At the Ponts de Cé she was met by the
Maréchal de Bois-Dauphin at the head of fifteen hundred horsemen; and
thus escorted she reached the gates of the city, where she was
magnificently received, and welcomed with acclamations.[42]

De Luynes, alarmed by the protracted sojourn of the Queen-mother at
Angers, and her resolute refusal to return to the capital, became more
than ever anxious to effect the liberation of M. de Condé; an anxiety
that was moreover heightened by intelligence which reached the Court
that a deputation from the Protestants, who were then holding their
Assembly at Loudun, had waited upon her Majesty, for the purpose of
expressing their joy at her arrival and sojourn in Anjou, and of
communicating to her the demands which they were about to make to
the King.

It is true that Marie, although she did not disguise her gratification
at this mark of respect, was prudent enough not to advance any opinion
upon the claims which they set forth, and restricted herself to offering
her acknowledgments for their courtesy, coupled with the assurance that
they should find her a good neighbour; but even this reply, guarded as
it was, did not satisfy the Court, who pretended to discover a hidden
meaning in her words, and decided that she should have referred the
deputation to the King, in order to place herself beyond suspicion. Nor
were they less disconcerted on learning that all the nobility of the
province were constant visitors at her Court; and that she had
established herself in her government so thoroughly that she evidently
entertained no intention of abandoning her post.

As each succeeding day rendered the position of the Queen-mother more
threatening towards himself, the favourite resolved towards the middle
of October to effect the instant release of the Prince de Condé; and he
accordingly obtained the authority of the King to proceed to Vincennes,
with full power to open the gates of the fortress, and to liberate the
prisoner; while Louis himself proceeded to Chantilly, the château of the
Duc de Montmorency, who had married the sister of the Prince, to which
residence De Luynes was instructed to conduct the emancipated noble.

It is sickening to be compelled to recapitulate the constant result of
such events in that age of servility and moral degradation. The
favourite, who by a word could have liberated the first Prince of the
Blood from the Bastille before he was transferred to the fortress of
Vincennes, bowed his haughty head to the dust before him, and entreated
his protection; while Condé, in his turn, on being introduced into the
presence of the King, demanded pardon upon his knees for an offence of
which he did not even know the nature; and which he could only estimate
by the extent of the chastisement that had been inflicted on him. This
idle ceremony accomplished, M. de Condé immediately found himself a
member of the Privy Council; all the honours of his rank as first Prince
of the Blood were accorded to him; and the King issued a declaration by
which it was asserted that his recent captivity had been the act of
"certain ill-advised persons who abused the name and authority of the
sovereign." [43]

This declaration excited the indignation of the Queen-mother and
Richelieu, by whose advice the arrest of Condé had been determined; but
while Marie loudly expressed her displeasure, the more cautious prelate
endeavoured to disguise his annoyance. He looked farther into the future
than his impetuous mistress, and he saw that his hour of revenge had not
yet come. De Luynes, anxious to appease the Queen, declared that the
obnoxious declaration had not been submitted to him before its
publication, and threw the whole blame upon Du Vair, by whom it was
drawn up; conjuring her at the same time to return to the capital, where
alone she could convince herself of his earnest desire to serve her.

The close alliance formed between Condé and the favourite sufficed,
however, to deter Marie from making this concession; while many of those
about her did not hesitate to insinuate that the respect with which the
Prince affected to regard her person, and the desire that he expressed
to see her once more at Court, was a mere subterfuge; and that his real
anxiety, as well as that of De Luynes, was to separate her from the
nobles of Anjou, and the friends whom she possessed in her own
government, in order that she might be placed more thoroughly in their
power. The Queen-mother was the more inclined to adopt this belief from
the circumstance that, even while urging her return, Louis had given her
to understand the inexpediency of maintaining so numerous a bodyguard,
when she should be established in the capital, as that by which she had
surrounded herself since her arrival at Angers; and this evident desire
on the part of the King to diminish at once her dignity and her
security, coupled with her suspicions of Condé and De Luynes, rendered
her more than ever averse to abandon the safe position which she then
occupied, and to enter into a new struggle of which she might once more
become the victim.[44]

On his return to Paris, after his interview with the Queen-mother, Louis
bestowed the government of Picardy upon De Luynes, who resigned that of
the Isle of France, which he had previously held, to the Due de
Montbazon his father-in-law. The two brothers of the favourite were
created Marshals of France; Brantès by the title of Duc de
Piney-Luxembourg--the heiress of that princely house having, by command
of the King, bestowed her hand upon him, to the disgust of all the great
nobles, who considered this ill-assorted alliance an insult to
themselves and to their order--while Cadenet, in order that he might in
his turn be enabled to aspire to the promised union with the widowed
Princess of Orange, was created Duc de Chaulnes. The latter marriage was
not, however, destined to be accomplished, Eléonore de Bourbon
rejecting with disdain a proposition by which she felt herself
dishonoured; nor can any doubt exist that her resistance was tacitly
encouraged by Condé: who, once more free, could have little inclination
to ally himself so closely with a family of adventurers, whose
antecedents were at once obscure and equivocal. This mortification was,
however, lessened to the discomfited favourite by the servility of the
Archduke Albert, the sovereign of the Low Countries; who, being anxious
to secure the support of the French king, offered to De Luynes the
heiress of the ancient family of Piquigny in Picardy, who had been
brought up at the Court of Brussels, as a bride for his younger brother.
Despairing, despite all his arrogance, of effecting the alliance of
Cadenet with a Princess of the Blood, the favourite gladly accepted the
proffered alliance; and M. de Chaulnes was appointed Lieutenant-General
in Picardy, of which province De Luynes was the governor, and where he
possessed numerous fine estates.


FOOTNOTES:

[24] Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 449, 450. Mézeray, vol. xi. p. 172.
Matthieu, _Hist, des Derniers Troubles_, book iii. p. 626.

[25] Le Vassor, vol. ii. pp. 71, 72. Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 172, 173.

[26] Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 451, 452. Mézeray, vol. xi. p. 174.
Bassompierre, _Mém_. p. 129. Matthieu, _Hist. des Derniers Troubles_,
book iii. p. 621.

[27] Pierre de Bérulle, the descendant of an ancient and noble family of
Champagne, was born on the 14th of February 1575, and soon became
remarkable for his virtue and science. He was the friend of St. François
de Sales, the founder of the Congregation of the Oratory in France, and
was promoted to the conclave by Urban VIII in 1627. He did not, however,
long enjoy his new dignity, having died at the altar while saying mass
on the 2nd of October 1629, before he had attained his fifty-sixth year.
He was the author of several theological works. An ably-written life of
the Cardinal de Bérulle is due to the pen of M. Hubert de Cérisy.

[28] Rohan, _Mém_. book i. pp. 116, 117. Richelieu, _Hist, de la Mère et
du Fils_, vol. ii. pp. 353, 354. Le Vassor, vol. ii. p. 77. _Mercure
Français_, 1619.

[29] _Vie de Du Plessis-Mornay_, book iv.

[30] Matthieu, _Hist, des Derniers Troubles_, book iii. p. 636.

[31] Le Vassor, vol. ii. p. 102. Déageant, _Mém_. pp. 203, 204. _Vie du
Due d'Epernon_, book viii.

[32] Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 179-181. Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 452, 453.
Bassompierre, _Mém_. p. 129. Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mère et du Fils_,
vol. ii. p. 356. Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. iv. pp. 626, 627.

[33] Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. iv. pp. 631, 632.

[34] _Vie du Duc d'Epernon_, book viii.

[35] Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. iv. pp. 632, 633. Le Vassor, vol. ii. p.
115. Sismondi, vol. xxii. p. 454. Bassompierre, _Mém_. p. 129.
Fontenay-Mareuil, _Mém_. pp. 436-450. Richelieu, _Hist, de la Mère et du
Fits_, vol. ii. p. 372.

[36] François Le Clerc du Tremblay, known as the Capuchin Father Joseph,
was the elder son of Jean Le Clerc, President of the Court of Requests
at Paris, and of Marie de la Fayette. His sponsors were the Due
d'Alençon (brother of Francis II) and the Duchesse d'Angoulême, the
natural sister of that Prince. He was a man of great learning and
talent, but cunning, ambitious, and unscrupulous, who had attached
himself to the fortunes of Richelieu, of whom he was the _âme damnée_,
and who endeavoured to cause him, in his turn, to be admitted to the
honours of the conclave. He died suddenly at Ruel on the 18th of
December 1638; and some years subsequently the Duchesse de Guise having,
at her own expense, repaved the choir of the Capuchin church, the tomb
of _la petite Eminence Grise_, as he was familiarly called by the
Parisians, was placed beneath that of Père Ange (the Cardinal-Due de
Joyeuse), in front of the steps of the high altar. Richelieu had caused
an eulogistic and lengthy inscription on marble to be affixed to his
sepulchre; but the Parisians, who more truly estimated his merits, added
others considerably more pungent, among which the most successful was
the following:--

     "Passant, n'est-ce pas chose étrange
      Qu'un démon soit auprès d'un ange?"


[37] Le Vassor, vol. ii. pp. 118, 119. Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. v. pp.
49-51. Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 184, 185.

[38] Henri de Gondy, Master of the King's Oratory, and subsequently
Archbishop of Paris, on the resignation of his uncle Pierre, Cardinal de
Gondy, who died in 1616.

[39] Matthieu, _Hist. des Derniers Troubles_, book iii. p. 639.

[40] Le Vassor, vol. ii. pp. 121, 122.

[41] Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. v. pp. 53-56.

[42] Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 453, 454. Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 187, 188.
Bassompierre, _Mém_. p. 129. Brienne, _Mém_. vol. i. p. 339. Richelieu,
_Hist. de la Mère et du Fils_, vol. ii. pp. 306-309.

[43] _Mercure Français_, 1619. Le Vassor, vol. ii. pp. 150, 151. Siri,
_Mém. Rec_. vol. v. pp. 59-63. Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 188-191.

[44] Le Vassor, vol. ii. pp. 153, 154.



CHAPTER III

1620

Louis XIII creates numerous Knights of the Holy Ghost without reference
to the wishes of his mother--Indignation of Marie de Medicis--Policy of
De Luynes--Richelieu aspires to the cardinalate--A Court quarrel--The
Comtesse de Soissons conspires to strengthen the party of the
Queen-mother--Several of the great Princes proceed to Angers to urge
Marie to take up arms--Alarm of the favourite--He seeks to propitiate
the Duc de Guise--The double marriage--Caustic reply of the Duc de
Guise--Royal alliances--An ex-Regent and a new-made Duke--The
Queen-mother is threatened with hostilities should she refuse to return
immediately to the capital--She remains inflexible--Condé advises the
King to compel her obedience--De Luynes enters into a negotiation with
Marie--An unskilful envoy--Louis XIII heads his army in Normandy--Alarm
of the rebel Princes---They lay down their arms, and the King marches
upon the Loire--The Queen-mother prepares to oppose him--She garrisons
Angers--The Duc de Mayenne urges her to retire to Guienne--She
refuses--Treachery of Richelieu--League between Richelieu and De
Luynes--Marie de Medicis negotiates with the King--Louis declines her
conditions--The defeat at the Ponts de Cé--Submission of the
Queen-mother--A royal interview--Courtly duplicity--Marie retires to
Chinon--The Ducs de Mayenne and d'Epernon lay down their arms--The Court
assemble at Poitiers to meet the Queen-mother--Louis proceeds to
Guienne, and Marie de Medicis to Fontainebleau--The King compels the
resumption of the Romish faith in Béarn--The Court return to Paris.


As no Chevaliers of the Order of the Holy Ghost had been created since
the death of Henri IV, their number had so much decreased that only
twenty-eight remained; and De Luynes, aware that himself and his
brothers would necessarily be included in the next promotion, urged
Louis XIII to commence the year (1620) by conferring so coveted an
honour upon the principal nobles of the kingdom. The suggestion was
favourably received; and so profusely adopted, that no less than
fifty-five individuals were placed upon the list, at the head of which
stood the name of the Duc d'Anjou. But although some of the proudest
titles in France figured in this creation, it included several of minor
rank who would have been considered ineligible during the preceding
reigns; a fact which was attributed to the policy of the favourite, who
was anxious to render so signal a distinction less obnoxious in his own
case and that of his relatives; while others were omitted whose
indignation at this slight increased the ranks of the malcontents.[45]

Marie de Medicis, who had not yet forgiven the royal declaration in
favour of the Prince de Condé, was additionally irritated that these
honours should have been conceded without her participation; for she
immediately perceived that the intention of the favourite had been to
reserve to himself the credit of obtaining so signal a distinction for
the noblemen and gentlemen upon whom it was conferred, and to render her
own helplessness more apparent. As such an outrage required, however,
some palliation, and De Luynes was anxious not to drive the Queen-mother
to extremity, he induced the King to forward for her inspection the
names of those who were about to receive the blue ribbon, offering at
the same time to include one or two of her personal adherents should she
desire it; but when, in running her eye over the list, Marie perceived
that, in addition to the deliberate affront involved in a delay which
only enabled her to acquire the knowledge of an event of this importance
after all the preliminary arrangements were completed, it had been
carefully collated so as to exclude all those who had espoused her own
cause, and to admit several who were known to be obnoxious to her, she
coldly replied that she had no addition to make to the orders of the
King, and returned the document in the same state as she had
received it.[46]

The indignation expressed by the Queen-mother on this occasion was
skilfully increased by Richelieu, who began to apprehend that so long as
Marie remained inactively in her government he should find no
opportunity of furthering his own fortunes; while, at the same time, he
was anxious to revenge himself upon De Luynes, who had promised to
recompense his treachery to his royal mistress by a seat in the
Conclave; and it had been confided to him that the first vacant seat was
pledged to the Archbishop of Toulouse, the son of the Duc d'Epernon. In
order, therefore, at once to indulge his vengeance, and to render his
services more than ever essential to the favourite, and thus wring from
his fears what he could not anticipate from his good faith, he resolved
to exasperate the Queen-mother, and to incite her to open rebellion
against her son and his Government.

Circumstances favoured his project. The two first Princes of the Blood,
M. de Condé and the Comte de Soissons, had at this period a serious
quarrel as to who should present the finger-napkin to the King at the
dinner-table; Condé claiming that privilege as first Prince of the
Blood, and Soissons maintaining that it was his right as Grand Master of
the Royal Household. The two great nobles, heedless of the presence of
the sovereign, both seized a corner of the _serviette_, which either
refused to relinquish; and the quarrel became at length so loud and so
unseemly that Louis endeavoured to restore peace by commanding that it
should be presented by his brother the Duc d'Anjou. But although the two
angry Princes were compelled to yield the object of contention, he could
not reduce them to silence; and this absurd dissension immediately
split the Court into two factions; the Duc de Guise and the friends of
the favourite declaring themselves for Condé; while Mayenne,
Longueville, and several others espoused the cause of the Comte
de Soissons.

It is almost ludicrous to be compelled to record that out of a quarrel,
originating in a servile endeavour on the part of the two principal
nobles of a great nation to usurp the functions of a _maître-d'hôtel_,
grew an attempt at civil war, which, had not the treachery of Richelieu
nipped it in the bud, might have involved France in a sanguinary and
unnatural series of conflicts that would have rendered that country a
frightful spectacle to all Europe. Thus it was, however; for the
Comtesse de Soissons, the mother of the young Prince, who was then only
in his seventeenth year, eagerly seized so favourable an opportunity to
weaken the party of the Prince de Condé, whose sudden influence
threatened the future prospects of her son, by attaching to the cause of
Marie de Medicis all the nobles who were opposed to the favourite, and
consequently to the first Prince of the Blood by whom he was supported
in his pretensions.

The ambition of the Countess was to obtain for her young son the hand of
Madame Henriette de France, the third sister of the King; an alliance
which she was aware would be strenuously opposed by Condé, and which she
could only hope to accomplish through the good offices of the
Queen-mother; and it was consequently essential that, in order to carry
out her views, she should labour to augment the faction of Marie. Her
efforts were successful; between the 29th of March and the 30th of June
the Ducs de Mayenne and de Vendôme, the Grand Prior (the brother of the
latter), the Comte de Candale, the Archbishop of Toulouse, and Henry of
Savoy, Duc de Nemours, all proceeded to Angers; an example which was
speedily followed by the Comte and Comtesse de Soissons, and the Ducs de
Longueville, de Trémouille, de Retz, and de Rohan; who, one and all,
urged Marie de Medicis once more to take up arms, and assert her
authority.[47]

These successive defections greatly alarmed the favourite, who became
more than ever urgent for the return of the Queen-mother to the capital;
but a consciousness of her increasing power, together with the insidious
advice of Richelieu, rendered her deaf alike to his representations and
to his promises. In this extremity De Luynes resolved to leave no means
untried to regain the Duc de Guise; and for this purpose the King was
easily persuaded to propose a double marriage in his family, by which it
was believed that his own allegiance and that of the Prince de Condé to
the royal cause, or rather to that of the favourite, would be alike
secured. M. de Condé was to give his daughter to the Prince de
Joinville, the elder son of M. de Guise; while the latter's third son,
the Duc de Joyeuse, was to become the husband of Mademoiselle de Luynes.
The marriage articles were accordingly drawn up, although the two
last-named personages were still infants at the breast; but when he took
the pen in his hand to sign the contract, De Guise hesitated, and
appeared to reflect.

"What are you thinking of, Monsieur le Duc?" inquired Louis, as he
remarked the hesitation of the Prince.

"I protest to you, Sire," was the reply, "that, while looking at the
name of the bride, I had forgotten my own, and that I was seeking to
recall it."

De Luynes bit his lips and turned away, while a general smile proved how
thoroughly the meaning of the haughty Duke had been appreciated by the
courtiers.[48]

In addition to these comparatively unimportant alliances, two others of
a more serious nature were also mooted at this period, namely, those of
Monsieur (the King's brother) with Mademoiselle de Montpensier, the
daughter of the Duchesse de Guise; and of Madame Henriette de France
with the Comte de Soissons; a double project which afforded to the
favourite an admirable pretext for despatching Brantès, the
newly-created Duc de Luxembourg, to Angers, to solicit the consent of
the Queen-mother, and to entreat her to reappear at Court and thus
sanction by her presence the decision of the sovereign.

"The King has determined wisely," was her reply; "and the affair can be
concluded when I am once more in the capital. I feel satisfied that his
Majesty will not decide upon either of the marriages during my absence;
but will remember not merely what is due to me as a Queen, but also as
a mother."

"Am I then authorized to state, Madame, that you will shortly arrive in
Paris?" demanded the envoy.

"I shall immediately return, Sir," coldly replied Marie, "when I can do
so with honour; but this can only be when the King shall have issued a
declaration which may repair the injury done to my administration by
that which he conceded to the Prince de Condé."

The Duke attempted to remonstrate, but he was haughtily silenced; and
thus saw himself compelled to retire from the presence of the irritated
Princess with the conviction that he had utterly failed to produce the
effect anticipated from his mission.[49]

As a last resource the Duc de Montbazon was once more despatched to the
Queen-mother, with full authority to satisfy all her demands, whatever
might be their nature; and also with instructions to warn her that,
should she still refuse to obey the commands of the King, she would be
compelled to do so; while, at the same time, he was commissioned to
announce that Louis was ready to receive her at Tours as he had formerly
done, in order to convince her of his anxiety to terminate their
misunderstanding. This portion of his mission was, however, strongly
combated alike by M. de Condé and the ministers, who saw in it a proof
of weakness unworthy of a great sovereign; but the apprehensions of the
favourite so far outweighed his sense of what was due to the dignity of
his royal master, that he refused to listen to their representations,
and Louis accordingly left the capital, and advanced slowly towards the
province of Angoumois, awaiting the result of this new negotiation.

Marie remained inflexible; Richelieu had not yet accomplished his
object; and the King, who had already reached Orleans, returned to
Paris, to the great triumph of the Queen-mother's faction. Months were
wasted in this puerile struggle, which contrasted strangely with the
important interests which at that period occupied the attention of all
other European sovereigns; and meanwhile the faction of Marie de Medicis
became more formidable from day to day; until, finally, the Prince de
Condé declared his conviction that stringent measures could alone secure
to the monarch any hope of averting the serious consequences with which
he was threatened by the disaffection of his most powerful nobles. De
Luynes was quite ready to adopt this reasoning in order to ensure his
own safety; but it met with earnest opposition from the Cardinal de
Retz, Arnoux, and many others of the favourite's confidential friends,
who dreaded that by the fall of Marie de Medicis, Condé, whose ambitious
views were evident to all, would attain to a degree of authority and
power against which they could not hope successfully to contend; and
they accordingly counselled their patron rather to effect his own
reconciliation with the exiled Queen, and by rendering himself necessary
alike to the mother and the son, at once strengthen his own influence
and weaken that of the first Prince of the Blood.

In accordance with this advice De Luynes entered into a negotiation with
Marie, during the course of which the Marquis de Blainville was
despatched several times to Angers, authorized to hold out the most
brilliant promises should she consent to resume her position at the
French Court. Unfortunately, however, the zealous envoy overacted his
part by assuring her that De Luynes was strongly attached to her person,
and anxious only to secure her interests; a declaration which instantly
startled her suspicious temper into additional caution; but his next
step proved even more fatal to the cause he had been deputed
to advocate.

"I can assure you, Madame," he went on to say, encouraged by the
attentive attitude of his royal auditor, "that M. le Duc has ever
entertained the most perfect respect towards your Majesty. More than
once, indeed, it has been suggested to him to secure your person, and
either to commit you to Vincennes, or to compel your return to
Florence; nay, more; a few of your most inveterate enemies, Madame, have
not hesitated to advise still more violent measures, and have
endeavoured to convince him that his own safety could only be secured by
your destruction; but M. de Luynes has universally rejected these
counsels with indignation and horror; and this fact must suffice to
prove to your Majesty that you can have nothing to apprehend from a man
so devoted to your cause that he has undeviatingly made his own
interests subservient to yours."

This argument, which, while it revolted her good sense, revealed to the
Queen-mother the whole extent of the risk that she must inevitably incur
by placing herself in the power of an individual who had suffered such
measures to be mooted in his presence, produced the very opposite effect
to that which it had been intended to elicit; and it was consequently
with a more fixed determination than ever that Marie clung to the
comparatively independent position she had secured, and thus rendered
the negotiation useless.[50]

The alarm of De Luynes increased after this failure, and having become
convinced of the impolicy of provoking a second civil war, he continued
his attempts at a reconciliation through other channels; but as each in
turn proved abortive, he began to tremble lest by affording more time
for the consolidation of the Queen's faction, he might ultimately work
his own overthrow; and it was consequently determined that the advice of
the Prince de Condé should be adopted. The delay which had already
taken place had, however, sufficed to permit of a coalition among the
Princes which rendered the party of the malcontents more formidable than
any which had yet been opposed to the royal authority; and it was not
without considerable misgivings that, early in July, De Luynes
accompanied the King to the frontier of Normandy, where it had been
decided that he should place himself at the head of his army.[51]

Before leaving the capital it was considered expedient that Louis should
attend a meeting of the Parliament, in order to justify the extreme step
which he was about to take; and he accordingly presented himself before
that body, to whom he declared the excessive repugnance with which he
found himself under the imperative necessity of taking up arms against
the Queen his mother, and excused himself upon the plea of her having
headed the malcontents, by whom the safety of the throne and kingdom was
endangered; and, this empty formality accomplished, little attention was
conceded to the recommendation of the President and Advocate-General,
who implored of his Majesty to adopt less offensive measures, and to
avoid so long as it might be in his power an open war with his august
parent.[52] Louis had complied with the ceremony required of him; and
while De Luynes was trembling for his tenure of power, the young
sovereign was equally anxious to commence a campaign which promised
some relief from the tedium of his everyday existence, and some prospect
of his definitive release from the thraldom of the adverse faction.

The success of the royal army exceeded the most sanguine expectations of
the young sovereign, and awakened in him that passion for war by which
he was subsequently distinguished throughout the whole of his reign. The
Ducs de Longueville and de Vendôme, alarmed by a manifestation of energy
for which they were not prepared, and fearing the effects of further
resistance, scarcely made an effort to oppose him; and thus, in an
incredibly short space of time, he possessed himself of Rouen, Caen,
Alençon, and Vendôme; and advanced upon the Loire at the head of his
whole army.

This unlooked-for celerity caused the greatest consternation in the
party of Marie, who had anticipated that the conquest of Normandy would
have occupied the royal forces during a considerable period, and relying
on this contingency, had not yet completed the defences of Angers. The
Queen herself, however, continued to refuse all overtures of
reconciliation, and after having vainly demanded a month's truce, she
turned her whole attention to the formation of such an army as might
enable her to compete with that by which she saw herself assailed. Her
forces already amounted to fifteen hundred horse and eight thousand
infantry, and she was anticipating a strong reinforcement, which was to
be supplied by the Duc de Rohan and the Comte de Saint-Aignan. Her first
care was to garrison the town and citadel of Angers, in order to secure
her personal safety; but this precaution did not satisfy the Duc de
Mayenne, who urged her to retire to Guienne, where he had collected a
force of ten thousand men, and thus to place herself beyond all
possibility of capture. The Duc d'Epernon, on the other hand, who was
jealous of the influence which such a step must necessarily give to his
rival, strongly dissuaded the Queen from condescending to retreat before
the royal army; and suggested that M. de Mayenne would more effectually
serve her cause and uphold her honour by marching his troops to Angers,
and thus strengthening her position. This suggestion, by whatever motive
it were prompted, was one of sound policy; nor can there be any doubt
that it would have been readily adopted by Marie de Medicis, had there
not been a traitor in the camp, whose covert schemes must have been
foiled by such an addition to the faction of his royal mistress.

That traitor was Richelieu, by whom every movement in the rebel army,
and every decision of the Queen-mother's Council, was immediately
revealed to De Luynes. The wily Bishop, faithful to his own interests,
and lured onward by the vision of a cardinal's hat, no sooner saw the
impression produced upon the mind of Marie by the proposal of Epernon
than he hastened to oppose a measure which threatened all his hopes, and
succeeded with some difficulty in persuading her that both these great
nobles could more effectually serve her in their own governments than by
adding a useless burthen to her dower-city, which was already gorged
with troops, and which, in the event of a siege, might suffer more from
internal scarcity than external violence.

Bewildered by the uncertainty of the struggle which was about to
supervene, Marie de Medicis was readily induced to believe in the wisdom
of securing two havens of refuge in case of defeat, and to renounce the
peril of hazarding all at one blow. The arguments of Richelieu were
specious; she had the most perfect faith in his attachment and fidelity;
and thus, despite the most earnest remonstrances of her other
counsellors, she decided upon following the suggestions of the man who
was seeking to build up his own fortunes upon the ruin of her hopes.[53]

Neither Richelieu nor De Luynes were deceived as to the feeling which
thus induced them to make common cause. There was no affectation of
regard or confidence on either side; their mutual hatred was matter of
notoriety, but they were essential to each other. Without the aid of the
favourite, the Bishop of Luçon could never hope to attain the seat in
the Conclave which was the paramount object of his ambition; while De
Luynes, on his side, was apprehensive that should the army of the King
be defeated, his own overthrow must necessarily result, or that, in the
event of success, the Prince de Condé would become all-powerful: an
alternative which presented the same danger to his own prospects. Thus
both the one and the other, convinced that by stratagem alone they could
carry out their personal views, eagerly entered into a secret
negotiation, which terminated in a pledge that Richelieu should succeed
to a cardinalate provided he delivered up his too confiding mistress to
the royal troops when they marched upon the Fonts de Cé.

This fortress, which protected the passage to Anjou, was only a league
distant from Angers, where the Queen-mother had taken up her residence;
and Richelieu, to whom its safety had been confided, no sooner effected
a final understanding with De Luynes than he removed all the ammunition
from the fortress, and placed his own relatives and friends in command
of the garrison, with full instructions as to the part which they were
to enact when confronted with the troops of the sovereign.

Although wholly unsuspicious of the treachery of which she was thus
destined to become the victim, the alarm of the Queen-mother was excited
by the rapid approach of her son, and she at length resolved to attempt
a tardy reconciliation; for which purpose she despatched the Duc de
Bellegarde, the Archbishop of Sens, and the Jesuit Bérulle to the King
with an offer to that effect. Louis received her envoys with great
courtesy, and declared himself ready to make every concession as
regarded Marie personally, and even to extend his pardon to the Comte
and Comtesse de Soissons; but he peremptorily refused to include the
other disaffected nobles in the amnesty; when the Queen, on her side,
declined every arrangement which involved the abandonment of her
followers; and thus the negotiation failed in its object, while the
royal army continued to advance.[54]

On reaching La Flèche the King convened a council, at which it was
proposed to besiege the city of Angers; but Louis, who was aware of the
plot that had been formed between De Luynes and Richelieu, declared that
his respect for his mother would not permit him to attack a town in
which she had taken up her abode; while he even instructed the Duc de
Bellegarde to propose to her fresh conditions of peace, and to assure
her that his intention in approaching so near to her stronghold was
simply to secure an interview, and to induce her to return with him to
the capital.

This assurance produced the desired effect upon Marie de Medicis, who
was becoming alike wearied and disgusted by the perilous position in
which she had been placed by the unexpected energy of her son; and she
consequently hastened to sign the treaty. But the concession came too
late. On the previous day, Bassompierre, Créquy, and several other
officers of rank marched to Sorges, within a league of the Fonts de Cé,
at the head of their men, for the mere purpose of skirmishing; they,
however, met with no opposition, and they finally reached the bridge,
where five thousand troops of the Queen-mother were entrenched. These
they attacked; and at the third charge the whole body fled in such
confusion that the royal forces entered with them pell-mell into the
city. The command of the fort had been given to the Duc de Retz, who,
apprised by the Cardinal his uncle that the Queen-mother had been
betrayed, hastily effected his escape, and the castle was surrendered at
the first summons. In vain did the Duc de Bellegarde represent that the
town had been taken after the Queen had signed the treaty of
reconciliation, and complain that this outrage had been committed
subsequently to the conclusion of a peace proposed by the sovereign; the
Prince de Condé, desirous of mortifying Marie de Medicis, only replied
that the messenger should have made greater haste to deliver so
important a document, as the King's officers were not called upon to
divine the nature of the Queen's decision.[55]

On the following day Louis himself entered Ponts de Cé, where he was
surprised to find the shops open, and the inhabitants as quietly
pursuing their avocations as though no rumour of war had reached their
ears. The shouts of "Vive le Roi!" were as energetic as those of "Vive
la Reine!" had been only a few weeks previously; and thus, through the
selfish treason of two ambitious and unprincipled individuals, Marie de
Medicis, who at once felt that all further opposition must be
fruitless, saw the powerful faction which it had cost her so much
difficulty and so hard a struggle to combine, totally overthrown, and
herself reduced, even while she still possessed an army of thirty
thousand men in Poitou, Angoumois, and Guienne, to accept such
conditions as it might please the King to accord to her.

Bewildered by the defeat of her troops and the loss of Ponts de Cé, the
unhappy Queen resolved to effect her escape, and to throw herself on the
protection of the Ducs de Mayenne and d'Epernon; but this project was
defeated by Richelieu, who lost no time in communicating her intentions
to the favourite; and parties of cavalry were in consequence thrown out
in every direction to oppose her passage. Apprised of this precaution,
although unconscious of its origin, Marie perceived that she had no
alternative save submission; and she accordingly declared herself ready
to obey the will of the King, whatever might be its nature; an assurance
to which Louis replied that he was ready to receive her with open arms,
and to grant her requests in so far as they regarded herself personally,
although he was resolved to prove to the leaders of her faction that he
was the master of his own kingdom.[56]

On the conclusion of the treaty a meeting was appointed between the King
and his mother at the castle of Brissac, whither he repaired to await
her arrival; and she was no sooner made acquainted with this
arrangement than she hastened to the place of rendezvous, escorted by
five hundred horsemen of the royal army. She was met midway by the
Maréchal de Praslin, and a short time afterwards by the Duc de
Luxembourg, at the head of a strong party of nobles, by whom she was
warmly welcomed; and finally, when she was within a few hundred yards of
the castle, Louis himself appeared, who, as her litter approached,
alighted in his turn, an example which she immediately followed, and in
the next instant they were clasped in each other's arms.

"I have you now, Madame," exclaimed the King with a somewhat equivocal
smile; "and you shall not escape me again."

"Sire," replied the Queen, "you will have little trouble in retaining
me, for I meet you with the firm determination never more to leave you,
and in perfect confidence that I shall be treated with all the kindness
and consideration which I can hope from so good a son."

These hollow compliments exchanged, Louis retired a pace or two in order
to enable the Prince de Condé and the Duc de Luynes to pay their
respects to the Queen-mother, by whom they were most graciously
received; while Richelieu was no less warmly greeted by the young King
and his favourite. No one, in fine, who had witnessed the scene, could
have imagined that heart-burning and hatred were concealed beneath the
smiles and blandishments which were to be encountered on all sides; or
that among those who then and there bandied honeyed words and gracious
greetings, were to be found individuals who had staked their whole
future fortunes upon a perilous venture, and many of whom had lost.

After a few days spent at Brissac the King departed for Poitou, while
Marie repaired to Chinon, whence she was to follow him in a few days;
and thus terminated the second exile of the widow of Henry the Great,
even as the first had done, in mortification and defeat.[57]

As a matter of course, the Ducs de Mayenne and d'Epernon no sooner saw
that the cause of the Queen-mother had become hopeless than they
hastened to make their submission to the King; although the former,
fearing that his known hostility to the favourite might militate against
his future interests, first endeavoured to induce M. d'Epernon to join
him in forming a new faction for their personal protection; but this
attempt met with no encouragement, Epernon declaring that as his royal
mistress had seen fit to trust to the clemency of the sovereign, he felt
bound to follow her example, and that he advised M. de Mayenne to adopt
the same course. Such a reply naturally sufficed to convince his
colleague that he had no other alternative; and after the professions
usual on such occasions both nobles prepared to lay down their
arms.[58]

Louis having learnt at Poitiers that the Queen was on her way to join
him, immediately proceeded to Tours to await her arrival, and to conduct
her to the former city, whither she accompanied him with all the great
ladies of the Court; and four days subsequently Marie de Medicis
followed with her slender retinue. She was welcomed by Anne of Austria
with haughty courtesy; and during the ensuing week all was revelry and
dissipation. The young Queen gave a splendid ball in honour of her
august mother-in-law; and on the morrow the Jesuits performed a comedy
at which all the Court were present.

It is probable, however, that Marie de Medicis did not enter with much
zest into these diversions, as she could not fail to perceive that the
courtesy evinced towards her was reluctant and constrained; and when, on
the arrival of the Duc de Mayenne, she witnessed the coldness of his
reception, her fears for her own future welfare must have been
considerably augmented. At his first audience Mayenne threw himself at
the feet of the King, protesting his sorrow for the past, and imploring
the royal pardon with all the humility of a criminal, but Louis alike
feared and hated the veteran leaguer, and he replied harshly: "Enough,
M. le Duc; I will forget the past should the future give me cause to do
so." And as he ceased speaking he turned away, leaving the mortified
noble to rise at his leisure from the lowly attitude which he had
assumed.[59]

Two days subsequently the King resumed his journey to Guienne, Marie de
Medicis proceeded to Fontainebleau, and Anne of Austria returned to
Paris. As Louis reached Chizé he was met by the Duc d'Epernon, who, in
his turn, sued for forgiveness, which was accorded without difficulty;
and thus the Queen-mother found herself deprived of her two most
efficient protectors,[60] and clung more tenaciously than ever to the
support of the treacherous Richelieu.

The next care of Louis was to compel the resumption of the Roman
Catholic religion in Béarn; after which he followed the Court to the
capital, whither he had already been preceded by the Queen-mother.


FOOTNOTES:

[45] _Mercure Français_, 1620. _Pièces Curieuses faites durant le Règne
du Connétable de Luynes_, pp. 1-3.

[46] Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. v. pp. 70-72. _Vie du Duc d'Epernon_, book
viii. Sismondi, vol. xxii. p. 458. Fontenay-Mareuil, _Mém_. p. 458. Le
Vassor, vol. ii. pp. 183, 184. Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mère et du Fils_,
vol. ii. pp. 397, 398.

[47] Le Vassor, vol. ii. pp. 183, 184. Fontenay-Mareuil, _Mém_. pp.
461-467.

[48] Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. v. pp. 106-108. Le Vassor, vol. ii. pp. 186,
187.

[49] Le Vassor, vol. ii. pp. 186, 187. Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. v. pp.
106-110.

[50] Siri, _Mém. Rec_. 1620, pp. 110-122.

[51] Le Vassor, vol. ii. p. 206. Pontchartrain, _Mém_. p. 313.
Fontenay-Mareuil, _Mém_. p. 462. Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 462, 463.
Matthieu, _Hist, des Derniers Troubles_, book iii. p. 650.

[52] Mézeray, vol. xi. p. 202. _Mercure Français_, 1620-1621.

[53] Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 206, 207. _Lumières pour l'Hist. de France_.
Bernard, book iii.

[54] _Mercure Français_, 1620. Siri, _Mém. Rec_, vol. v. pp. 135-137. Le
Vassor, vol. ii. pp. 212, 213.

[55] Le Vassor, vol. ii. p. 213. Mézeray, vol. xi. p. 210.

[56] Le Vassor, vol. ii. pp. 213, 214. _Mercure Français_, 1620. Siri,
_Mém. Rec_. vol. v. pp. 139, 140. Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 210, 211.

[57] _Mercure Français_, 1620. Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. v. pp. 140, 141.
Brienne, _Mém_. vol. i. pp. 342, 343. Bassompierre, _Mém_. édit.
Petitot, vol. ii. pp. 193-199.

[58] _Vie du Duc d'Epernon_, book iii. Le Vassor, vol. ii. pp. 216, 217.

[59] _Mercure François_, 1620.

[60] Le Vassor, vol. ii. p. 217. Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 212, 213.



CHAPTER IV

1621-24

Attempt to secure a cardinal's hat for Richelieu frustrated by De
Luynes--Death of Philip III of Spain--De Luynes is created Connétable de
France--Discontent of the great nobles--Disgust of the Maréchal de
Lesdiguières--The Protestants of Béarn rise against their
oppressors--The royal troops march against them--They are worsted, and
despoiled of their fortified places--The King becomes jealous of his
favourite--_Le Roi Luynes_--Domestic dissensions--The favourite is
threatened with disgrace--Cruelty of Louis XIII--Death of De
Luynes--Louis determines to exterminate the Protestants--A struggle for
power--Prudence of Bassompierre--Condé encourages the design of the
King--The old ministers are recalled--They join with the Queen-mother in
her attempt to conclude a peace with the reformed party--Marie de
Medicis solicits a share in the government--The King complies, but
refuses to sanction the admission of Richelieu to the Council--The
Duchesse de Luynes and Anne of Austria--Frustrated hopes--Condé aspires
to the French throne--Louis XIII leaves the capital by stealth in order
to join the army at Nantes--The Queen-mother prepares to follow him, but
is overtaken by illness--Ruthless persecution of the Protestants--Siege
of La Rochelle--Venality of the Protestant leaders--Indignation of the
Catholic nobles--Resistance of the citizens of Montpellier--Military
incapacity of Condé--The Duc de Rohan negotiates a peace, and Condé
retires to Rome--Montpellier opens its gates to the King--Bad faith of
Louis XIII--Triumphal entry of the King at Lyons--Marriage of the
Marquis de la Valette and Mademoiselle de Verneuil--Richelieu is created
a cardinal--Exultation of the Queen-mother--Death of the President
Jeannin--Prospects of Richelieu--His duplicity--Misplaced confidence of
Marie de Medicis--Louis XIII returns to Paris--Change in the
Ministry--Anne of Austria and the Prince of Wales--The Queen-mother and
her faction endeavour to accomplish the ruin of the Chancellor, and
succeed--Richelieu is admitted to the Council---Indignation of
Condé--Richelieu becomes all-powerful--His ingratitude to the
Queen-mother--The Queen-mother is anxious to effect a matrimonial
alliance with England--Richelieu seconds her views--The King of Spain
applies for the hand of the Princesse Henriette for Don Carlos--His
demand is negatived by the Cardinal-Minister--La Vieuville is dismissed
from the Ministry--Duplicity of Louis XIII--Arrest of La
Vieuville--Change of ministers--Petticoat intrigues--The Duc d'Anjou
solicits the hand of Mademoiselle de Montpensier--The alliance is
opposed by the Guises and forbidden by the King.


During the absence of the King from Paris, the Maréchal d'Estrées, who
was at that period Ambassador at Rome, was engaged in soliciting two
seats in the Conclave, the first for the Archbishop of Toulouse, and the
second for the Bishop of Luçon; while Marie de Medicis lost no
opportunity of entreating Bentivoglio, the Papal Nuncio, to further the
interests of the latter, impressing upon him that no period could be
more favourable than the present, when Louis XIII had enforced upon a
whole refractory province the performance of the rites which it had so
long rejected. To this argument the Cardinal had nothing to object, and
he accordingly listened with complacency to her representations; but
they were rendered abortive by De Luynes, who privately informed him
that neither the sovereign nor himself sincerely desired the promotion
of Richelieu, and that their apparent anxiety for his advancement had
been merely assumed to gratify the Queen-mother; while, far from being
disposed to consider the dissent of the Pontiff to this application as a
slight, his Majesty would be gratified should he reject it, as he had
reason to feel dissatisfied with the Bishop of Luçon, whom he was
consequently not disposed to support in an ambition which he considered
to be at once inordinate and premature. Paul V needed no further hint;
he had been unwilling to countenance the elevation of two French
prelates, and accordingly he replied to all the urgent solicitations of
M. d'Estrées with evasive replies, until at length, wearied by his
pertinacity, he laid before him a letter from Louis himself wherein he
revoked all his former orders. The indignation of the Ambassador was
only exceeded by that of Richelieu when they severally discovered that
they had been duped; but the death of the Pope, and the election of
Gregory XV, which occurred in the following month (February), once more
renewed their hopes.

The demise of Paul V was followed by that of Philip III of Spain, and
negotiations were immediately commenced with his successor for the
restoration of the Valteline to the Grisons, which were happily
concluded for the moment; but, whatever satisfaction this event might
have elicited at the Court of France, it was counterbalanced by another,
in which the great nobles felt a more personal and intimate interest. On
the 2nd of April Charles Albert, Due de Luynes, was invested with the
sword of Connétable de France; and thus in the short space of four
years, without having distinguished himself either as a warrior or a
statesman, had risen from the obscure position of a Gentleman of the
Household, and of a petty provincial noble, to the highest dignity which
could be conferred upon a subject.

The ceremony of his investiture was conducted with extraordinary pomp;
and when he had taken the oath, De Luynes received from the hands of the
King a sword richly ornamented with diamonds, which was buckled on by
Gaston, Duc d'Anjou.[61] The murmurs elicited by this extraordinary
promotion were universal, and the rather as it had long been promised to
the Duc de Lesdiguières, who was compelled to content himself with a
brevet of Marshal of France, and the title of colonel-general of the
royal army, which constituted the veteran soldier the lieutenant of De
Luynes, who had never been upon a field of battle.[62]

The remainder of the year was occupied in a campaign against the
Protestants, who, on the departure of the King from Béarn, had rallied
in the defence of their religion, and revolted against the outrages to
which they had been subjected by a lawless rabble. Their churches had
been desecrated and burnt down at Tours, Poitiers, and other cities,
themselves publicly insulted, and they began to apprehend that they were
about to be despoiled of all the privileges accorded to them by the
Edict of Nantes. Under these circumstances they had convoked a general
assembly at La Rochelle, in order to decide upon the measures necessary
for their preservation; and although warned immediately to dissolve the
meeting, they had refused compliance with the royal edict, even while
aware that they were not strong enough to contend with any prospect of
ultimate success.[63]

The new Connétable eagerly seized this opportunity of exerting his
authority, and an army of forty thousand infantry and eight thousand
horse was marched towards the Loire, at the head of which were the King
himself, De Luynes, and the Maréchal de Lesdiguières; while, as though
the projected expedition had been a mere party of pleasure, not only did
a crowd of the great nobles volunteer to swell the ranks of the already
enormous host, but the two Queens, the Duchesse de Luynes, and a
numerous suite of ladies also accompanied the troops to share in the
campaign. The result of this fearful contest is known. The unhappy
Protestants were driven from their strongholds, and with the exception
of Montauban, which was so gallantly defended that the King was
ultimately compelled to raise the siege, they found themselves utterly
despoiled, and exposed to every species of insult.

No event could have been more unfortunate for the ambitious Connétable
than the successful defence of Montauban. Louis loved war for its own
sake, but he was also jealous of success; and he felt with great
bitterness this first mortification. He had, moreover, become conscious
that he was a mere puppet in the hands of his ambitious favourite; and
he was already becoming weary of a moral vassalage of which he had been
unable to calculate the extent. As the brilliant Connétable flashed past
him, glittering with gold, the plumes of his helmet dancing in the wind,
and the housings of his charger sparkling with gems, he looked after him
with a contemptuous scowl, and bade the nobles among whom he stood
admire the regal bearing of _le Roi Luynes_; nor was he the less bitter
because he could not suppress a consciousness of his own disability to
dispense with the services of the man whom he thus criticized.

Upon one point Louis XIII greatly resembled his mother; with all his
arrogance and love of power, he possessed no innate strength of purpose,
and constantly required extraneous support; but it was already easy for
those about him to perceive that fear alone continued to link him with
the once all-powerful favourite. Rumour said, moreover, that superadded
to the jealousy which the King entertained of the daily increasing
assumption of the Connétable there existed another cause of discontent.
The Duchesse de Luynes was, as we have said, both beautiful and
fascinating, and Louis had not been proof against her attractions,
although his ideas of gallantry never overstepped the bounds of the most
scrupulous propriety. The lady had on her part welcomed his homage with
more warmth than discretion, and the favourite had not failed to
reproach her for a levity by which he considered himself dishonoured.
Madame de Luynes had retorted in no measured terms, and the young
sovereign, who detested finding himself involved in affairs of this
nature, and who had, moreover, reason to believe that he was not the
only individual favoured by the smiles of the coquettish beauty, soon
evinced an aversion towards both husband and wife, which encouraged the
enemies of De Luynes to hint that the reverse which his Majesty had
lately suffered at Montauban might be entirely attributed to the
incapacity and selfishness of the Connétable. This opinion soothed the
wounded vanity of the King, and he talked vehemently of his regret for
the brave men who had fallen, among whom was the Duc de Mayenne, and
bitterly complained of the dishonour to which he had been subjected;
while in order to revenge himself at once upon De Luynes and the
Duchess, he condescended to the meanness of informing the former that
the Prince de Joinville was enamoured of his wife, and subsequently
boasted to Bassompierre that he had done so. The Marquis listened in
astonishment to this extraordinary communication, and in reply ventured
to assure his Majesty that he had committed a serious error in seeking
to cause a misunderstanding between a married couple.

"God will forgive me for it should He see fit to do so," was the sullen
retort of Louis. "At all events it gave me great pleasure to be revenged
on him, and to cause him this annoyance; and before six months have
elapsed I will make him disgorge all his gains." [64]

The rumour of his projected disgrace soon reached the ears of the
bewildered favourite, who instantly resolved to redeem himself by some
more successful achievement. He accordingly ordered the troops to march
upon and besiege Monheur, an insignificant town on the Garonne, which
was feebly garrisoned by two hundred and sixty men, and which was in
consequence sure to fall into his hands. As he had foreseen, the place
soon capitulated, but the late reverse had rendered Louis less
accessible than ever to the claims of mercy; and although by the terms
of the treaty he found himself compelled to spare the lives of the
troops, numbers of the inhabitants were put to death, and the town was
sacked and burned.[65] This paltry triumph did not, however, suffice to
reinstate the Connétable in the good graces of his royal master, who
continued to indulge in the most puerile complaints against his former
favourite; and the latter's mortification at so sudden and unexpected a
reverse of fortune so seriously affected his health that, while the
ruins of the ill-fated town were still smouldering, he expired in an
adjacent village of a fever which had already caused considerable
ravages in the royal army.

When intelligence of the decease of De Luynes was communicated to the
King he did not even affect the slightest regret, and the courtiers at
once perceived that the demise of the man upon whom he had lavished so
many and such unmerited distinctions was regarded by Louis as a
well-timed release. So careless indeed did the resentful monarch show
himself of the common observances of decency that he gave no directions
for his burial; and, profiting by this omission, the enemies of the
unfortunate Connétable pillaged his residence, and carried off every
article of value, not leaving him even a sheet to supply his
grave-clothes. The Maréchal de Chaulnes and the Due de Luxembourg, his
brothers, with whom at his first entrance into life he had shared his
slender income, and whom in his after days of prosperity he had alike
ennobled and enriched, looked on in silence at this desecration of his
remains, lest by resenting the outrage they should incur the displeasure
of the King; and it is on record that the Abbé Rucellaï and one of his
friends alone had the courage and generosity to furnish the necessary
funds for embalming the body and effecting its transport to its last
resting-place.[66]

The resolute position still maintained by the Protestants chafed the
arrogant temper of Louis XIII, who, although personally incapable of
sustaining the royal authority, was yet jealous of its privileges.
Political and civil liberty was in his eyes a heresy to be exterminated
at whatever cost; and while he was as infirm in purpose as a child, he
grasped at absolute monarchy, and panted to acquire it. This, as he at
once felt, could never be achieved while there existed within his
kingdom a party which claimed to limit his prerogative, and to maintain
the rights which it had acquired under his predecessors, and thus he
eagerly resolved to rid himself of so dangerous an enemy; but although
his determination was formed, he found himself unequal to the
self-imposed task; he had no reliance on his own strength, and until he
had selected a new favourite upon whom he could lean for support, he
dared not venture upon so serious an undertaking.

There were, however, many candidates for the vacant honour, and De
Luynes was scarcely in his grave ere two separate parties began to
strive for pre-eminence. That of the ministers was headed by Henri de
Gondy, Cardinal de Retz, President of the Council, Schomberg, Grand
Master of the Artillery and Superintendent of Finance, and De Vic,
Keeper of the Seals, who exerted all their efforts to dissuade the King
from again placing himself in the power of a favourite; believing that
should he consent to retain the government in his own hands, they need
only flatter his foibles to secure to themselves the actual
administration of the kingdom; a policy which they commenced by urging
him to follow up his intention of pursuing the war against the
Protestants.

On the other hand, the courtiers who were anxious for peace, and who
desired to see Louis once more quietly established in his capital, were
earnest that he should advance Bassompierre to the coveted dignity; nor
were they without sanguine hope of success, as even before the death of
De Luynes, the wit, courage, and magnificence of the courtly soldier had
captivated the admiration of the King, who had evinced towards him a
greater portion of regard than he vouchsafed to any other noble of his
suite; while so conscious were the ministers of this preference, that in
order to rid themselves of so dangerous an adversary, and to effect his
removal from the Court, they offered to Bassompierre the lieutenancy of
Guienne and the _bâton_ of a marshal. These honours were, however,
declined--not from ambition, for Bassompierre, although brave in the
field, was an ardent votary of pleasure, and the Court was his world;
but he was wise enough to feel that he did not possess the necessary
talent for so perilous a post as that which his friends would fain have
assigned to him; and he was the first to declare that the intrigues of
both parties would fail, since the King must ere long fall, as a natural
consequence, under the dominion of his mother, or that of the Prince de
Condé.[67]

On the 28th of January Louis re-entered Paris, where he was received
with enthusiasm; and the meeting between the mother and son was highly
satisfactory to both parties. In compliance with the advice of
Richelieu, Marie de Medicis exhibited towards the young sovereign a
deferential tenderness and a modest exultation, which flattered his
vanity, and disarmed his apprehensions. No allusion was made to the
past, save such as afforded opportunity for adulation and triumph; Louis
began to look upon himself as a conqueror, and the Queen-mother already
entertained visions of renewed power and authority.

So soon as the death of De Luynes had been made known to M. de Condé, he
had hastened to meet the King, in order to forestall the influence of
Marie. Aware that she anxiously desired a termination of the war, he
threw himself into the cabal of the ministers, and urged Louis to
complete the work which he had so ably commenced, by compelling the
Protestants to evacuate La Rochelle, Montauban, and Royan, the only
fortified towns of which they still remained in possession; conscious
that should he succeed in once more involving the country in civil war,
his royal kinsman would not be able to dispense with his own support.

Louis had, however, recalled Jeannin and Sillery to his councils, both
of whom were jealous of the Prince, and wounded by his arrogance, and
who did not, consequently, hesitate to advise the King to offer
conditions to the reformed party, and to endeavour to conclude a peace;
while Marie de Medicis earnestly seconded their views, expressing at the
same time her desire to become once more associated in the government.
To her extreme mortification Louis hesitated; he had resolved to share
his authority only with his favourites, and he was aware that Marie
would not enter into their views; while he was equally averse to permit
the interference of Richelieu, whose power over the mind of the
Queen-mother was matter of notoriety. In this dilemma he appealed to the
two ministers, who, eager to counteract the influence of Condé, urged
him to accede to her wishes, representing at the same time the danger
which he must incur by exciting her displeasure, and thus inducing her
to oppose his measures. When he urged the powerlessness to which she was
reduced by her late reverses, they respectfully reminded him that her
faction, although dispersed for the moment, was by no means annihilated;
nor did they fail to impress upon him that her adhesion would be
necessary in order to enable him to counteract the pretensions of the
Prince de Condé, who had already given evidence of his anxiety to place
himself at the head of affairs, and to govern the nation in his name.
This argument prevailed. The Queen-mother was admitted to the Council on
the understanding that the Bishop of Luçon should be excluded, and she
accepted the condition without comment, feeling convinced that when she
had succeeded in establishing her own position, she should find little
difficulty in accomplishing all minor measures.[68]

Madame de Luynes had no sooner ascertained that she had irretrievably
lost the favour of the King than she devoted herself to Anne of Austria,
who was soon induced to forget her previous jealousy, and to whom her
society ere long became indispensable. In many respects the tastes of
the girl-Queen and the brilliant widow of the Connétable were singularly
similar, although Anne was a mere tyro in gallantry beside her more
experienced friend. Both were young, handsome, and giddy; greedy of
admiration, and regardless of the comments of those about them; and
never perhaps did any Princess of Spain more thoroughly divest herself
of the _morgue_ peculiar to her nation than the wife of Louis XIII,
whose Court set at defiance all etiquette which interfered with the
amusement of the hour. In vain did the King and his mother expostulate;
Anne of Austria merely pouted and persisted; and even her panegyrist,
Madame de Motteville, has recorded that she did not hesitate in
after-years to admit that she had numbered among her adorers the Due de
Montmorency, who previously to the passion with which she inspired him
had been the devoted slave of the beautiful Marquise de Sablé;[69] the
Duc de Bellegarde, of whose antiquated worship she made for a while the
jest of her circle, and her own pastime; and finally, George Villiers,
Duke of Buckingham, who, mistaking her levity for a more tender feeling,
was presumptuous and reckless enough to endanger her reputation;[70]
while her imprudent encouragement of the attentions of Richelieu, which
subsequently caused her so much and such bitter suffering, has also
become matter of history. In addition to Madame de Luynes, Anne of
Austria had adopted as her especial favourites the intriguing Princesse
de Conti and Mademoiselle de Verneuil, the natural sister of the King;
and while Louis was absorbed by visions of absolute empire, and
meditating the destruction of his Protestant subjects, the private
circle of the Queen was loud with revelry, and indulging in amusement to
the very verge of impropriety.

At the period of the sovereign's return to Paris hopes were entertained
that Anne would shortly give an heir to the French throne; and while
Marie de Medicis, whose policy it had been to maintain the coldness and
indifference of the royal couple, was trembling at the increase of
influence which could not fail to accrue to the young Queen should she
become the mother of a Dauphin, Louis was impatiently anticipating the
moment which would enable him to present to his good citizens of Paris a
successor to his regal honours. Great therefore was his consternation
when he was apprised that the Queen, while running across the great hall
of the Louvre with Madame de Luynes and Mademoiselle de Verneuil, had
fallen and injured herself so severely that all hopes of a Dauphin were
for the moment at an end.

In the first paroxysm of his anger he ordered the two ladies, whom he,
perhaps justly, regarded as the cause of the accident, to quit the
palace within three days on pain of his most serious displeasure; but
the Duchess, to whom exile from the Court was equivalent to a
death-warrant, lost no time in despatching a messenger to the Prince de
Joinville (who had recently assumed the title of Duc de Joyeuse),
entreating him to exert all his influence to save her from this
disgrace; nor did she make the appeal in vain. The Prince, who was
devotedly attached to her, at once declared himself her champion, and
despite the advice of his friends, not only induced Louis to rescind his
order, but offered his hand to the lady, who subsequently became
celebrated as Duchesse de Chevreuse; and together with her own pardon
also obtained that of Mademoiselle de Verneuil, with permission to both
parties to retain their position in the Queen's household.[71]

Meanwhile the Prince de Condé continued to urge upon the King the
expediency of following up his project of aggression against the
Protestants, and proposed to him that he should join the army with
Monsieur his brother, leaving Marie de Medicis in the capital; for which
advice many designing and unworthy motives were attributed to him by his
enemies. As an immediate consequence such an arrangement must naturally
have tended to increase the dependence of the young sovereign upon
himself, while the late accident of the Queen having removed all
prospect of a new heir to the throne, should the chances of war prove
fatal to the King and the Due d'Anjou, the crown of France became the
legitimate right of Condé himself. What tended to strengthen the belief
that the Prince actually contemplated such a result, was the fact that
it had been predicted to him by an astrologer that at the age of four
and thirty he would be King of France; and the superstition so common at
the time caused considerable faith to be placed in the prophecy, not
only by himself but by many of his friends. Condé had now attained to
within a year of the stated period; and as a few months previously Louis
had been seriously indisposed, while the Duc d'Anjou had barely escaped
with life from an illness which he had not yet thoroughly conquered, not
a doubt was entertained by the party opposed to him that his great
anxiety to see himself at the head of an army arose from his conviction
that in such a position he should be the more readily enabled to enforce
his pretensions.[72]

Be his motives what they might, however, the ministers, who were anxious
that Louis should absent himself from the capital before he fell under
the dominion of a new favourite who might thwart their own views,
zealously seconded the advice of M. de Condé; and although Marie de
Medicis strenuously opposed the renewal of civil warfare, and the Duc de
Lesdiguières represented to the King the ardent desire of the
Protestants to conclude a peace, all their efforts were impotent to
counteract the pernicious counsels of the Prince, which were destined
to darken and desecrate all the after-reign of Louis XIII. Marie then
endeavoured to dissuade the King from heading his troops in person; or,
should he persist in this design, at least to forego that of leaving her
in the capital, and of exposing Monsieur to the dangers of the campaign.
All that she could obtain was a promise that the Duc d'Anjou should
remain in Paris, while as Louis had named no precise period for his own
departure it was believed that he would not leave the city before the
termination of the Easter festival, and that meanwhile circumstances
might occur to induce him to change his resolution. But while Marie de
Medicis indulged in this hope, the same anticipation had produced a
different effect upon the minds of Condé and his party, who secretly
urged upon the King that longer delay could only tend to afford
facilities to the Protestants for strengthening their faction, and
consequently their means of resistance, an argument which determined
Louis at once to carry out his project; and so alarmed was the Prince
lest some circumstance might supervene to impede the departure of the
monarch, that he finally induced him to have recourse to the undignified
expedient of quitting the Louvre by a back entrance at dusk on Palm
Sunday, and of proceeding to Orleans, where he remained until the close
of Easter, awaiting the arrival of the great officers of his household,
who had no sooner joined him than he embarked with the troops who had
been stationed there, and hastened with all possible speed to Nantes,
where he appointed the Prince de Condé lieutenant-general of
his army.[73]

The indignation of the Queen-mother was unbounded when she became
apprised of the departure of the King, which she at once attributed to
the anxiety of M. de Condé to remove him beyond her own influence, and
she consequently made immediate preparations for following the royal
fugitive; but although she exerted all her energy to accomplish this
object, her mental agitation overcame her physical strength; and when
she reached the town of Nantes, which Louis had already quitted, she was
unable to proceed farther, and was compelled by indisposition to remain
inactive, and to leave her adversaries in possession of the field.

The war which supervened was one of great triumph to the royal army, if
indeed the massacre of his own subjects can reflect glory upon a
sovereign; but the laurels gained by Louis and his troops were sullied
by a series of atrocious and bootless cruelties, which made them matter
of reproach rather than of praise. In vain did the Maréchal de
Lesdiguières, the Duc de Bouillon, and even Sully, who had once
controlled the destinies of France, make repeated offers of submission;
the Prince de Condé had sufficient influence over the infatuated King to
render every appeal useless, and to induce him to persist in the
wholesale slaughter of the unhappy Protestants.

In the affair of La Rochelle alone Bassompierre informs us that "there
died upon the field, killed in cold blood, and without resistance, more
than fifteen hundred men, while more than as many prisoners were taken
who were sent to the galleys: the rest were put to death by the
followers of M. de la Rochefoucauld and by the peasantry. So that M. de
Soubise re-entered La Rochelle with thirty horsemen out of the seven
hundred whom he had with him, and not four hundred infantry of the seven
thousand who comprised his army on the preceding day." [74]

The leaders of the Protestants, some alarmed for their personal safety,
and others gained over by the offers of the Court, began to desert the
cause for which they had so long contended, and to make terms with the
sovereign. The Due de la Force sold himself for two hundred thousand
crowns and the _bâton_ of a marshal; the Duc de Sully, after repeated
delays, surrendered his fortress of Cadenac; the veteran De Lesdiguières
abandoned not only his friends, but also his faith, for the sword of
Connétable de France; and finally the Marquis de Châtillon, the grandson
of the brave and murdered Coligni, delivered himself up together with
the stronghold of Aigues Mortes; thus leaving no men of mark among the
reformers, save the two brothers MM. de Soubise and de Rohan; the former
of whom was then in England soliciting the assistance of James I.,
while the latter was endeavouring to raise troops in the Cévennes for
the protection of Montpellier and Nîmes, both which cities were
threatened with siege.[75]

The favours accorded to the renegade Protestant leaders having caused
great dissatisfaction among the Catholic nobles of Louis XIII, the King
found himself compelled to gratify these also by honours and emolument.
The Duc d'Epernon was made Governor of Guienne, a province which had
never hitherto been bestowed save on a Prince of the Blood; while
Bassompierre succeeded to the marshal's _bâton_ vacated by Lesdiguières
on his promotion; and M. de Schomberg was invested with the governments
of Angoumois and Limousin.

Towards the close of August the troops marched upon Montpellier, but the
arrival of the new Connétable excited the jealousy of Condé, who refused
to submit to his authority. Lesdiguières, who, although he had abandoned
his faith, had not yet ceased to feel a lively interest in the cause of
his co-religionists, was eager to effect a peace, and for this purpose
had conferred with the Duc de Rohan, who was equally anxious to obtain
the same result; but for a considerable time the threatened cities
refused to listen to any compromise. At length, however, the
representations of Rohan prevailed, and the negotiation was nearly
completed when M. de Condé haughtily declared that whatever might be
the conditions conceded by the King and the Connétable, he would deliver
over the city to pillage so soon as he had entered the gates. The
citizens of Montpellier, who were aware that, despite the capitulations
made with other places, the most enormous atrocities had been committed
in the towns which had surrendered, persisted in their turn that they
would only admit Lesdiguières within their walls provided he were
accompanied neither by Louis nor the Prince de Condé; a resolution which
excited the indignation of the King, and the negotiation consequently
failed. The Connétable returned to Guienne, and once more M. de Condé
found himself in undisputed command of the royal army.

The incapacity of the Prince, the casualties of war, and the sickness
which manifested itself among the troops, had, however, greatly tended
to weaken the military resources of the sovereign; the Cardinal de Retz
and De Vic, the Keeper of the Seals, had both fallen victims to disease;
while numbers of the nobility had been killed; and De Rohan, with his
usual perspicacity, decided that the moment had now arrived in which,
could he ever hope to do so, he might be enabled to effect the desired
treaty. Louis, who had become weary of the overweening pretensions and
haughty dictation of Condé, secretly encouraged him to persist in his
attempt; and the Duke immediately exerted himself to prevail upon the
inhabitants of Montpellier to receive his Majesty into their city.

While he was thus engaged, the Prince, who soon discovered from the
altered demeanour of the King that he should be unable to prevent the
conclusion of a peace, resolved to absent himself from the army. He had
been apprised by his emissaries of the recall of Lesdiguières, and he at
once comprehended that the presence of the Connétable could be required
for no other purpose than that of weakening his own authority, and of
thwarting his own views; and acting upon this conviction, he did not
hesitate to inform Louis that he was aware of the projected return of
the veteran noble; adding that, as he could not bring himself to obey
the orders of an individual so greatly his inferior in birth, he
preferred retiring for a time to Italy, should his Majesty graciously
accord him permission to absent himself. Louis required no entreaties to
concede this favour to his arrogant kinsman; and, accordingly, to the
undisguised satisfaction of the harassed army, the Prince departed for
Rome; the Duc de Lesdiguières replaced him in his command; and, finally,
the King having acceded to the conditions demanded by the citizens of
the beleaguered town, they consented to receive him within their walls,
provided that at his departure he withdrew the whole of his troops.

All the terms of the treaty were observed save this last demand. An
edict of pacification was duly signed and registered; and Louis, in the
month of November, quitted Montpellier with the bulk of his army, but
left two regiments in garrison within the very heart of the city. The
Protestants were, however, too weary of warfare, and too much exhausted
by suffering, to resent this infraction of their rights; and they
consequently saw the King set forth for Lyons without expostulation or
remonstrance.[76] Had they been enabled to make a final effort, it is
probable that they might have imposed still more favourable conditions,
as after the departure of Condé Louis relapsed into his usual
helplessness; for although perfectly competent to direct the manoeuvres
of a body of troops on a review-ground, he was totally unequal to the
command of an army; and with the littleness of a narrow mind, he was at
the same time jealous of his generals; neither was he able to comprehend
either the precise political position of his own kingdom, or that of
Europe; and thus, although he assumed an appearance of authority, so
soon as the controlling influence of the paramount favourite was
withdrawn, his powers were paralyzed, and he no longer possessed any
defined principle of action.

The entry of the King at Lyons was celebrated with the utmost
magnificence. Had he achieved the conquest of half Europe he could not
have been greeted with more enthusiasm than awaited him on this
occasion, when his hand still reeked with the blood of hundreds of his
own subjects, and the shrieks of injured women and slaughtered children
were still appealing to Heaven for vengeance. Triumphal arches,
ecclesiastical and municipal processions, salvos of artillery,
flourishes of trumpets, all the pomp and circumstance of war blent with
the splendour of triumph, awaited him on his arrival in that city. The
two Queens with their separate Courts, and the Duke and Duchess of Savoy
with a brilliant retinue, were assembled to give him welcome; and while
the houseless inhabitants of Montpellier and of the smouldering villages
of Guienne were wandering about the ruins of their once happy and
prosperous homes, the streets of Lyons swarmed with velvet-clad
courtiers and jewelled dames, hurrying from ball to banquet, and wholly
absorbed in frivolity and pleasure. Theatrical performances took place
every evening; and on the 12th of November the three Courts assisted at
the marriage of Mademoiselle de Verneuil and the Marquis de la Valette,
the second son of the Duc d'Epernon, which was celebrated with great
pomp. The King presented to his sister a dowry of two hundred thousand
crowns, to which the Marquise, her mother, added one hundred thousand
more. This union was followed by that of Madame de Luynes with the
Prince de Joinville; and the two marriages were followed by Italian
comedies, fireworks, and public illuminations.[77]

The most important event, however, which occurred during the sojourn of
the King at Lyons, was the admission of the Bishop of Luçon to the
Conclave. The long-coveted hat was forwarded to the French sovereign by
Gregory XV, from whose hands it was received by Richelieu. The
Queen-mother triumphed; but neither Louis nor his ministers felt the
same exultation as Marie and her favourite; for guardedly as the new
Cardinal had borne himself while awaiting this honour, his spirit of
intrigue had already become notorious, and his extraordinary talents
excited alarm rather than confidence. The death of the Cardinal de Retz,
which had occurred while the King was with the army in Languedoc, had
created two important vacancies; one in the Holy College, and the other
in the royal Council, to both of which the astute Richelieu aspired; but
Louis, urged by his ministers, decidedly refused to admit him to the
Privy Council, and he was fain to content himself for the moment with
the honours of the scarlet hat, while M. de la Rochefoucauld was
appointed to the vacant seat in the Council.

The President Jeannin had died in the month of October, at the ripe age
of eighty-two; a demise which was followed by those of De Vic, the
Keeper of the Seals, and the Duc de Bouillon; and thus three
stumbling-blocks had been removed from the path of Richelieu, whose
professions of attachment to Marie de Medicis became more fervent than
ever; while he was meanwhile carefully measuring the strength of those
to whom he was opposed, studying the foibles of the King, and gradually
forming a party at Court which might enable him to secure his own
ultimate elevation, and to render himself independent of Marie's
protection.

The ceremony of his admission to the Conclave had no sooner been
concluded in the chapel of the Archbishop's palace, than Richelieu
hastened to place the symbol of his new dignity at the feet of his
benefactress.

"Madame," he said, at the close of a harangue full of the most
exaggerated declarations of devotion to her person, "this honour, for
which I am indebted to the benevolence of your Majesty, will ever cause
me to bear in mind the solemn vow I have made to shed my blood in
your service."

Marie listened and believed; and in addition to the scarlet hat, and the
dignity of Minister of State which it involved, the deceived Princess in
the short space of a few months bestowed upon her future enemy the
enormous sum of nine hundred thousand crowns, besides sacerdotal plate
to an almost incredible amount. No timely presentiment warned her how
the "solemn vow" was to be observed; and the influence of the selfish
and unprincipled churchman became greater than ever.[78]

The King did not return to Paris until the 10th of January (1623), and
shortly after his arrival another change took place in the ministry.
Schomberg had excited the animosity of the Chancellor Sillery, his son
the Marquis de Puisieux (who, since the death of De Luynes, had risen
greatly in the favour of Louis), and the Marquis de Caumartin,[79] who,
on the demise of M. de Vic, had been appointed Keeper of the Seals. He
was also avowedly obnoxious to M. de la Vieuville,[80] the
adjutant-general of the royal army; and these nobles combined to effect
his ruin. As, however, M. de Schomberg was protected by the Prince de
Condé, the conspirators were for a time compelled to forego their
purpose, but the Prince had no sooner taken his departure for Italy than
they hastened to poison the mind of the King against his finance
minister; an attempt in which they so easily succeeded, that although
Schomberg undertook to prove the fallacy of every charge which was
brought against him, Louis refused to admit his justification, and he
was dismissed from his charge, which was conferred upon De la Vieuville;
while by the death of De Caumartin, which shortly afterwards occurred,
Sillery once more found himself in possession of the seals. His triumph
was, however, of short duration, the King having conceived an
extraordinary aversion to the Chancellor, although he was aware that he
could not safely dispense with his services; and accordingly, a short
time subsequently, the seals were again reclaimed, and bestowed upon M.
d'Aligre.[81]

On the return of Louis XIII to the capital Anne of Austria organized two
magnificent ballets, one of which was danced in the apartments of the
King, and the other in her own. It was hinted that these splendid
entertainments were given in order to impress Lord Holland with a high
idea of the splendour of the French Court, that nobleman having been
instructed by James I. to endeavour to effect a marriage between the
Prince of Wales and Madame Elisabeth; and great was the astonishment of
the royal party when they ascertained that the Prince himself, attended
by the Duke of Buckingham, had been present incognito, both personages
being disguised with false beards and enormously bushy wigs; and that,
after only remaining one day in Paris, they had pursued their journey to
Spain, where Charles was about to demand the hand of the Infanta. It
was, moreover, afterwards ascertained that having arrived in the French
capital on the evening before that of the royal ballet, the Prince and
his companions had gone disguised to the Louvre to see the Queen-mother
at table, and had introduced themselves as travelling nobles into a
gallery in which Louis was walking surrounded by his courtiers; after
which they had induced the Duc de Montbazon to allow them to enter the
hall in which the festival was to take place. There Charles saw for the
first time the young Queen of Louis XIII, with the portrait of whose
sister he had become enamoured, and also Madame Henriette, who was
subsequently destined to become his wife. But it would appear that the
French Princess whom he so tenderly loved in after-years made, on this
occasion, no impression upon his mind; as, still eager to convince
himself that the Spanish Infanta was as beautiful as the miniature in
his possession, he set forth on the following day for Madrid, as he had
originally intended.[82]

La Vieuville and his party (at the head of which figured the
Queen-mother, who could not brook that Louis should retain about his
person a minister whose influence counterbalanced her own) began in the
spring of 1624 to make new efforts to effect the disgrace of the veteran
Chancellor and his son M. de Puisieux; both of whom had, moreover,
incurred the hatred of Richelieu by their endeavours to oppose his
admission to the Conclave; and the continual representations of the
cabal soon produced so marked an alteration in the bearing of the King
towards Sillery, that the latter resolved not to await the dismissal
which he foresaw would not be long delayed. Pretexting, therefore, his
great age--for he had attained his eightieth year--and his serious
sufferings from gout, by which he was disabled from following his
Majesty in his perpetual journeys to the provinces, he entreated
permission to retire from the Government, an indulgence which was
conceded without difficulty; and the seals transferred, as we have
already stated, to M. d'Aligre; and although Louis continued to treat De
Puisieux with studied courtesy, the rival faction soon discovered that
his favour was at an end. On several occasions the King gave audiences
to the different foreign ambassadors without desiring his presence,
although as Secretary of State it had hitherto been considered
indispensable; and finally, both father and son were informed that they
were at liberty to quit the Court.

The exultation of Marie de Medicis at their dismissal was undisguised,
and she immediately took measures to secure the admission of Richelieu
to the ministry; for which purpose she endeavoured to secure the
interests of La Vieuville. For a time, however, the finance minister
declined to second her views, as neither he nor his colleagues were
desirous of the co-operation of a man whom they distrusted; but Marie,
who would suffer no repulse, at length succeeded in overcoming his
repugnance, and he was ultimately induced to urge upon the King the
expediency of compliance with the wishes of his mother; although under
certain restrictions which might tend to curb the intriguing and
ambitious spirit of the enterprising candidate.

At this period the Court was sojourning at Compiègne; and on one
occasion, as Louis, according to his custom, paid his morning visit to
the Queen-mother in her sleeping-apartment, he announced, to her extreme
delight, that he had appointed the Cardinal de Richelieu Councillor of
State; warning her, however, that he must rest satisfied with a
subordinate authority, and not permit himself to suggest measures which
had not previously been considered by the King himself.

That Louis nevertheless made this concession with reluctance is
evidenced by the fact that he forthwith wrote to M. de Condé, who was
then residing at Bourges, to invite him to return to Court in order to
counterbalance the influence of the Queen-mother, which the admission of
her favourite to the Privy Council could not fail greatly to augment.
The appeal was, however, fruitless; the Prince considering himself
aggrieved not only by the elevation of an individual to whom he justly
attributed his imprisonment in the Bastille, but also by the increased
power of Marie de Medicis, and he consequently coldly returned his
thanks for the desire evinced by his royal kinsman to see him once more
near his person, but declared his intention of remaining in his
government.[83]

From this period the prominent figure upon the canvas of the time is
Richelieu. He it was who negotiated the marriage of the Prince of Wales
with Madame Henriette, after the alliance with Spain had been abandoned
by James I. To him the Marquis de la Vieuville owed his disgrace, and by
his representations the Queen-mother enlisted the young Prince Gaston
d'Anjou in his interests. All bent, or was crushed, before him; he had
affected to accept office reluctantly; pleaded his physical weakness,
even while he admitted his mental strength, declaring that his bodily
infirmities incapacitated him from collision with the toil and turmoil
of state affairs; and coquetted with the honours for which he had
striven throughout long years until he almost succeeded in inducing
those about him to believe that he sacrificed his own inclinations to
the will of the sovereign and his mother.[84] But history has proved
that having once possessed himself of the supreme power, and moulded the
mind of his royal master to his own purposes, he flung off all
restraint, and governed the nation like a monarch, while its legitimate
sovereign obeyed his behests, and made peace or war, as the necessity of
either measure was dictated to him by his imperious minister.

And amid all this pomp of power and pride of place, how did the
purple-robed politician regard the generous benefactress who had
furthered his brilliant fortunes? It cannot be forgotten that the
wretched Concini had been his first patron, and that when one word of
warning from his lips might have saved the Maréchal from assassination,
those lips had remained closed; that he had even affected to slumber
with the death-warrant of the victim beneath his pillow, and had striven
to rise upon his ruin. The after-career of Richelieu did not belie its
commencement. The glorious talents with which Heaven had gifted him
festered into a curse beneath his ambition; he became the marvel of the
whole civilized world, and the scourge of those who trusted in his
sincerity.

That Marie was as eager as Richelieu himself for the alliance with
England is undoubted; for while the latter, whose enlarged political
views led him to seek through this medium to curb the growing power of
Austria and Spain, looked only to the aggrandizement of the nation which
he served, the Queen-mother was equally anxious to secure for herself a
safe asylum in the event of any new reverse; and consequently on this
particular subject they acted in unison, the Cardinal openly striving to
attain his own object, and Marie de Medicis secretly negotiating at the
Court of St. James's to effect a marriage by which she believed that she
should ensure her future safety.

The difference of religion between the contracting parties necessarily
induced considerable difficulties, but as these were never, at that
period, suffered to interfere with any great question of national
policy, Richelieu unhesitatingly undertook to obtain the consent of the
Sovereign-Pontiff, who, as the minister had foreseen, finally accorded
the required dispensation. Nor was he deterred from his purpose by the
opposition of the Spanish monarch, who caused his ambassador to assure
Marie de Medicis that, in the event of her inducing the King to bestow
the hand of the Princesse Henriette upon the Infant Don Carlos, he would
secure to that Prince the sovereignty of the Catholic Low Countries on
the demise of the Archduchess Isabella, and meanwhile the royal couple
could take up their abode at Brussels under the guardianship of that
Princess.[85]

The Queen-mother, however, placed no faith in the sincerity of this
promise, while Richelieu met it by an instant negative, declaring that
"every one was aware that Spain was like a canker which gnawed and
devoured every substance to which it attached itself." [86] And
meanwhile Louis, glad to have once more found an individual alike able
and willing to take upon himself the responsibility of government,
suffered the Cardinal to pursue his negotiation with England. The dowry
demanded by James with the Princess was eight hundred thousand crowns,
half of which was to be paid down on the eve of the marriage, and the
remainder within eighteen months, while it was further stipulated that,
in the event of her dying before her husband, and without issue, a
moiety only of the entire sum was to be repaid by the Prince.

During the progress of this treaty, the Marquis de la Vieuville, whose
rapid elevation had created for him a host of virulent and active
enemies, was suddenly dismissed. Although not gifted with remarkable
talents, M. de la Vieuville was a man of uprightness and integrity, who
commenced his office as Superintendent of Finance by reducing the
exorbitant salaries and pensions of the great officers of state and
other nobles. This was not, however, his worst crime. Well aware of the
constitutional timidity of the monarch, he had assumed an authority
which rendered him odious to all those whose ambition prompted them to
essay their own powers of governing, and among these, as a natural
consequence, was the Cardinal de Richelieu, who, despising the abilities
of the finance minister, chafed under his own inferiority of place, and
did not fail to imbue the Queen-mother with the same feeling. La
Vieuville was accused of arrogating to himself an amount of authority
wholly incompatible with his office, and it is impossible to suppress a
smile while contemplating the fact that this accusation was brought
against him by the very individual who, only a few months subsequently,
ruled both the monarch and the nation with a rod of iron.

The desired end was, however, attained. Weak and vain, as well as
personally incompetent, Louis XIII was easily led to fear those upon
whom he had himself conferred the power of lessening his own authority;
and as so many interests were involved in the overthrow of De la
Vieuville, it was soon decided. Fearful of betraying his own personal
views, Richelieu took no active measures in this dismissal, nor were any
such needed; as, in addition to his other errors, the finance minister
had, by a singular want of judgment, excited against himself the
indignation of Monsieur by committing his governor, Colonel d'Ornano, to
the Bastille, upon the pretext that he had instigated the Prince to
demand admission to the Council in order that he might obtain a
knowledge of public affairs, but with the sole intention of procuring
his own access to the Government. The jealousy of Louis was at once
aroused by this assurance; and the arrest of his brother's friend and
confidant had, as a natural consequence, resulted from the minister's
ill-advised representation, an insult which Gaston so violently resented
that he forthwith entered into the cabal against De la Vieuville, and
thus seconded the views of the Queen-mother, who was anxious to replace
the obnoxious minister by the Cardinal de Richelieu.

True to his character, on being apprised of the powerful faction formed
against him, De la Vieuville resolved to tender his resignation, and
thus to deprive his enemies of the triumph of causing his disgrace, for
which purpose he proceeded to declare to the King his desire to withdraw
from the high office which had been conferred upon him. Louis XIII
simply replied: "Make yourself perfectly easy, and pay no attention to
what is going forward. When I have no longer occasion for your services,
I will tell you so myself; and you shall have my permission to come and
take leave of me before your departure."

On the following day De la Vieuville accordingly presented himself as
usual during the sitting of the Privy Council, when the King abruptly
exclaimed: "I redeem the promise which I made to tell you when I could
dispense with your services. I have resolved to do so; and you are at
liberty to take your leave." The ex-minister, bewildered by so
extraordinary a reception, attempted no rejoinder, but hastened to quit
the royal presence. He had, however, no sooner reached the gallery than
he was arrested by the Marquis de Thermes, and conveyed as a prisoner to
the citadel of Amboise, whence he made his escape a year afterwards.[87]

The result of this arrest was a total change in the aspect of the Court.
M. de Marillac[88] succeeded to the vacant superintendence of finance;
the Comte de Schomberg was recalled to the capital, and made a member of
the Privy Council; D'Ornano was liberated from the Bastille, restored to
his position in the household of the Duc d'Anjou, and honoured with a
marshal's _bâton_; while, to complete the moral revolution, Richelieu
was appointed chief of the Council, and became, as the Queen-mother had
anticipated, all-powerful over the weak and timid mind of the King under
his new character of Minister of State.

Fully occupied as the Cardinal might have found himself by the foreign
wars into which his ambition ere long plunged his royal master, he was
nevertheless compelled to turn his attention to the intrigues of certain
great ladies of the Court, which threatened internal dissension, and in
which the two Queens ultimately became involved. The young Duc d'Anjou,
whose prepossessing manners and handsome person had rendered him
universally popular, began about this time to awaken the distrust and
jealousy of the King; a feeling which was heightened by the marked
preference evinced by Marie de Medicis for her younger son. The marriage
of the Prince with the wealthy heiress of Montpensier, whose mother had
espoused the Duc de Guise, had long been decided; but as Gaston had
hitherto evinced the utmost indifference towards his destined bride, the
subject had elicited little attention. Suddenly, however, this
indifference gave place to the most marked admiration; and it became
evident that he was seriously contemplating an alliance with the
Princess who had been designed for him by his father. In so trivial and
dissolute a Court as that of France at this period, it is needless to
remark to how many fears and regrets such a resolution immediately gave
birth; nor was it long ere two separate cabals were formed--the one
favouring, and the other seeking to impede, the marriage. Passion and
party-feeling overthrew every barrier of decency and dignity; and from
this moment may be traced that insurmountable aversion which Louis XIII
subsequently exhibited alike towards the Queen his wife and the Prince
his brother.

It no sooner became apparent to the Court circle that the Princesse de
Conti gave perpetual entertainments, in order to afford to Gaston
constant opportunity for conversing with Mademoiselle de Montpensier,
than the enemies of the Guises leagued together to inspire the King with
their own fears, declaring that such an accession of influence as must
accrue to that haughty house by an alliance with the heir-presumptive
threatened the stability of the throne; representations which were
rendered the more powerful by the extraordinary fact that the Duchesse
de Joyeuse, who was herself the wife of a younger brother of the Guises,
and the Marquise de la Valette, whose husband was a near relation of the
Princesse de Montpensier, were both loud in their entreaties that the
brother of the King should not be permitted to contract the alliance
which he contemplated. But while Louis was bewildered by this seeming
contradiction, Richelieu thoroughly appreciated its real motive, being
well aware of the enmity which existed between Mesdames de Joyeuse and
de la Valette and the Princesse de Conti, who had long ceased to
dissemble their dislike; and who were consequently overjoyed to oppose
any undertaking to which the adverse party was pledged.

The two former ladies, who were the most confidential friends of the
young Queen, found little difficulty in exciting her alarm, and in
inducing her to assist them in their endeavours to thwart a marriage by
which, as they asserted, her own personal interests were threatened; nor
did they scruple to remind her that in the event of the King's demise,
an occurrence which his feeble constitution and frequent indisposition
rendered far from improbable, it was necessary for her own future
welfare that the heir-presumptive to the Crown should remain unmarried
as long as possible.

"What must be your fate, Madame," they insidiously urged, "should his
Majesty die without issue? Should you be willing to retire to a cloister
while Mademoiselle de Montpensier took your place upon the throne? Or,
even supposing that the King survives, and that you continue childless
while the Prince becomes the father of a son, whom all France will
regard as its future sovereign, how will you be able to brook the
comparative insignificance to which you must be reduced? You will do
well to consider these things; and to remember that, in the event of
your widowhood, your interest requires that the successor of your
present consort should be in a position to secure to you the same
station as that which you now hold."

These artful representations produced the desired effect upon the mind
of Anne of Austria, who, alike haughty and vain, could not brook to
anticipate any diminution of her dignity; and she accordingly lost no
time in impressing upon Louis the danger to which he would expose
himself by allowing his brother to form an alliance that could not fail
to balance his own power in the kingdom. Naturally jealous and
distrustful, the King listened eagerly to her reasoning; and while the
young Prince continued to pay his court each day more assiduously to
the noble and wealthy heiress, the adverse faction, under the sanction
of the sovereign, were labouring no less zealously to contravene his
views. In conjunction with the Queen, there were not wanting several
individuals who, moreover, pointed out to the monarch that should Gaston
be permitted to accomplish the contemplated marriage, he would be thus
enabled to gain over the still existing leaders of the League, and the
party of the Prince de Condé, who, already disaffected towards his own
person, would not fail to embrace the interests of his brother. More and
more alarmed by each succeeding argument, Louis forthwith summoned M.
d'Ornano to his presence, and peremptorily commanded him to put an
immediate stop to the intrigues which were going on upon the subject of
the projected alliance; and to forbid the Prince, in his name, to form
any engagement with Mademoiselle de Montpensier.[89]

Few orders could have been more agreeable to the governor of Gaston,
who, aware that both Richelieu and the Queen-mother ardently desired the
accomplishment of a marriage which, while it must greatly enrich the
Prince and augment his influence, would nevertheless still render him
amenable to their authority, was on his side eager to effect his
alliance with a foreign princess, for the express purpose of
emancipating him from a dependence which interfered with his own
influence, and threatened his personal ambition. Meanwhile the Prince
himself was divided between his affection for the beautiful heiress and
his desire to shake off the yoke of the Cardinal-Minister, to which he
submitted with ill-disguised impatience; and thus, although less
ostensibly, each faction continued to intrigue as busily as ever.


FOOTNOTES:

[61] _Mercure Français_, 1621. Bernard, book v.

[62] Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 221, 222.

[63] Richelieu, _Mém_. book xii. pp. 118-128. Rohan, _Mém_. book ii. pp.
183-185. Bazin, vol. iii. pp. 132-138.

[64] Bassompierre, _Mém_. vol. ii. pp. 493, 494.

[65] Le Vassor, vol. ii. p. 421. Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 492, 493.
Bassompierre, _Mém_. vol. ii. p. 358.

[66] Le Vassor, vol. ii. p. 421. _Mercure Français_, 1621.

[67] Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 497, 498.

[68] Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 230-232.

[69] Marguerite de Souvré, Marquise de Sablé, was the wife of Philippe
Emmanuel de Laval-Montmorency. She died in 1678, in her
seventy-sixth year.

[70] Motteville, _Mém_. vol. i. pp. 340-342.

[71] Bassompierre, _Mém_. vol. ii. p. 376. Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 499,
500.

[72] Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 232, 233. Sismondi, _Hist. des Français_,
vol. xxii. p. 501.

[73] Le Vassor, vol. ii. p. 457.

[74] Bassompierre, _Mém_. vol. ii. p. 389.

[75] Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 504-506.

[76] Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 510-512. Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 238-240.

[77] Bassompierre, _Mém_. vol. ii. p. 492. Brienne, _Mém_. vol. i. p.
371. Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 242, 243.

[78] Le Vassor, vol. ii. p. 525.

[79] Louis Le Febvre, Marquis de Caumartin, President of the Privy
Council, and Keeper of the Seals in 1622, died in the following year at
the age of seventy-two. He was a man of great talent, and an able
politician.

[80] Charles de la Vieuville, subsequently created duke.

[81] Etienne d'Aligre was a native of Chartres, and owed his advancement
in life solely to his great talents. He became successively steward of
the household to the Cardinal Charles de Bourbon, Councillor of State,
Keeper of the Seals, and subsequently, on the death of M. de Sillery,
Chancellor of France. Two years afterwards, having resigned the seals,
he retired to one of his estates, where he died on the 11th of December
1635, at the age of seventy-five years.

[82] Brienne, _Mém_. vol. i. pp. 373, 374. Bassompierre, _Mém_. vol.
iii. p. 6. Le Vassor, vol. ii. pp. 546, 547.

[83] Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 260-263. Sismondi, vol. xxii. p. 534.

[84] Richelieu, _Mém_. book xv. pp. 284-286.

[85] Le Vassor, vol. ii. p. 615. Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. v. pp. 595, 596.

[86] Richelieu, _Mém_. book xv. p. 296.

[87] Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 267-269. Le Vassor, vol. ii. p. 621.

[88] Michel de Marillac was born in 1563. He was successively Councillor
in the Parliament of Paris, Master of the Court of Requests, Councillor
of State, Superintendent of Finance, and Keeper of the Seals (1626).
Four years subsequently he was involved in the disgrace of his brother
the Maréchal de Marillac, and was compelled to resign the seals (1630).
He was then conveyed to the fortress of Caen, whence he was finally
removed to that of Châteaudun, where he died of grief on the 7th of
August 1632. He was the author of the _Code Michau_, a translation of
the Psalms into French verse, and several other works.

[89] Le Vassor, édit. 1717, vol. v. pp. 110-112. Bassompierre, vol. iii.
pp. 13-15. Sismondi, vol. xxiii. p. 12. Fontenay-Mareuil, vol. ii. p. 4.



CHAPTER V

1625-28

Death of James I.--The Princesse Henriette is married by
proxy to Charles I.--The Duke of Buckingham arrives in France
to conduct his young sovereign to her new country--An arrogant
suitor--Departure of the English Queen--Indisposition of Marie
de Medicis--Arrival of Henriette in London--Growing power of
Richelieu--Suspicions of the Queen-mother--Influence of the
Jesuit Bérulle over Marie de Medicis--Richelieu urges Monsieur
to conclude his marriage with Mademoiselle de Montpensier--Character
of Gaston--He refuses to accept the hand of the lady--Arrest of M.
d'Ornano--Vengeance of Richelieu--Indignation of Monsieur--Alarm of the
Queen-mother--Pusillanimity of Gaston--Arrest of the Vendôme
Princes--Edicts issued against the great nobles--Sumptuary
laws--Execution of the Comte de Bouteville--The reign of
Richelieu--Policy of Marie and her minister--Distrust of the
King--Conspiracy against the Cardinal--Richelieu threatens to retire
from office--A diplomatic drama--Triumph of the Cardinal--Execution of
Chalais--Heartlessness of Gaston--Monsieur consents to an alliance with
Mademoiselle de Montpensier--A royal marriage--The victims of
Richelieu--Marie de Medicis and the Cardinal endeavour to increase
the dissension between Louis XIII and his Queen--Exile of the
Duchesse de Joyeuse--Accusation against Anne of Austria--She
becomes a state prisoner--Subtlety of Richelieu--Anticipated
rupture with England--Embassy of Bassompierre--Death of the Duc de
Lesdiguières--Favour of Saint-Simon--Pregnancy of the Duchesse
d'Orléans--Dissolute conduct of Monsieur--Birth of Mademoiselle--Death
of Madame--Marie de Medicis seeks to effect a marriage between Monsieur
and a Florentine Princess--Buckingham lands in France, but is
repulsed--Illness of Louis XIII--Disgust of the Duc d'Orléans--Louis
wearies of the camp--He is incensed against the Cardinal--The King
returns to Paris--Monsieur affects a passion for the Princesse Marie de
Gonzaga, which alarms the sovereign--His distrust of the
Queen-mother--Marie de Medicis withdraws her confidence from the
Cardinal--Mother and son--Louis returns to La Rochelle--The city
capitulates--Triumphal entry of Louis XIII into Paris--Exhortation of
the Papal Nuncio.


The death of James I. and the succession of Charles, Prince of Wales, to
the English throne, at the commencement of the year 1625, excited the
greatest uneasiness at the Court of France, where all parties were alike
anxious for the arrival of the Papal dispensation. Nor was the new
monarch himself less desirous of completing the contemplated alliance,
as only three days were suffered to elapse after the demise of his royal
father ere he hastened to ratify the treaty, and to make preparations
for its immediate fulfilment.[90]

On the arrival of the long-expected courier from Rome the dispensation
was delivered into the hands of Marie de Medicis by Spada, the Papal
Nuncio; and on the 8th of May the Duc de Chevreuse, whom Charles had
appointed as his proxy, signed the contract of marriage, conjointly with
the Earl of Carlisle and Lord Holland, who officiated as Ambassadors
Extraordinary from the Court of St. James's. At the ceremonial of the
marriage, which took place on the 11th of May, the difference of
religion between the English monarch and the French Princess compelled
the observance of certain conventional details which were all
scrupulously fulfilled. The Cardinal de la Rochefoucauld, Grand Almoner
of France, pronounced the nuptial benediction on a platform erected
before the portal of Notre-Dame, after which the Duc de Chevreuse and
the English Ambassadors conducted the young Queen to the entrance of the
choir, and retired until the conclusion of the mass, when they rejoined
Louis XIII and their new sovereign at the same spot, and accompanied
them to the great hall of the archiepiscopal palace, where a sumptuous
banquet had been prepared.[91]

Some days subsequently, George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, arrived
unexpectedly in Paris, to urge the immediate departure of the Princess
for her new kingdom, and to express the impatience of the King his
master to welcome her to his dominions. The extraordinary magnificence
displayed by Buckingham on this occasion was the comment of the whole
Court, while the remarkable beauty of his person excited no less
admiration than the splendour of his apparel; nor was it long ere the
scandal-mongers of the royal circle whispered that it had not failed in
its effect upon the fancy, if not upon the heart, of Anne of Austria,
who received his homage with an evident delight which flattered the
vanity of the brilliant visitor. High in favour with his sovereign, and
anxious to profit by so favourable an opportunity of enhancing his own
personal attractions, Buckingham appeared at the Court festivals attired
in the Crown jewels, and indulged in a reckless profusion which enriched
all with whom he came into contact, and soon rendered him a general
favourite. Aware of the impression that he had produced, the English
Duke, whose ambition was as great as his gallantry, soon suffered
himself to be betrayed into an undisguised admiration of the French
Queen, which led him to commit a thousand unbecoming follies; while Anne
was on her side so imprudent that her most partial biographer deemed it
necessary to advance an apology for her levity by declaring that "it
should excite no astonishment if he had the happiness to make this
beautiful Queen acknowledge that if a virtuous woman had been able to
love another better than her husband, he would have been the only person
who could have pleased her." [92]

Fortunately, alike for the thoughtless Anne and the audacious favourite,
this dangerous intercourse was abruptly terminated by the departure of
Madame Henrietta, who left the capital in great pomp, accompanied by the
King her brother (who was to proceed only as far as Compiègne), and by
the two Queens, from whom she was not to separate until the moment of
her embarkation at Boulogne, where the vessels of Charles awaited her
arrival. On reaching Amiens, however, Marie de Medicis was attacked by
sudden indisposition; and as, after a delay of several days, it was
found impossible that she should continue her journey, the English Queen
was compelled to take leave of her august mother and sister-in-law in
that city, and to proceed to the coast under the escort of Monsieur, who
was attended by the Ducs de Luxembourg and de Bellegarde, the Maréchal
de Bassompierre, the Marquis d'Alencourt, and the Vicomte de Brigueil.
On the 22nd of June the royal fleet set sail, and in twenty-four hours
Queen Henrietta reached Dover; where she was met by her impatient
consort, who, on the following day, conducted her to Canterbury; and in
the course of July she made her entry into London, whence, however, she
was immediately removed to Hampton Court, the prevalence of the plague
in the capital rendering her sojourn there unsafe.

Having witnessed the departure of the royal bride for her new kingdom,
Monsieur and his brilliant train returned to Amiens; and on the recovery
of the Queen-mother the whole of the august party retraced their steps
to Paris, whence they shortly afterwards proceeded to Fontainebleau.[93]

At this period Richelieu had become all-powerful He possessed the entire
confidence alike of the King and of the Queen-mother. He had been
appointed chief of the Council, and possessed such unlimited authority
that he opened the despatches, and issued orders without even asking the
sanction of Marie de Medicis, whose influence was rapidly becoming
merely nominal; and whose favour he treated so lightly that he never
appeared at Court during the absence of the King lest the jealousy of
Louis should be aroused, and he should be induced to believe that the
wily minister still acknowledged the supremacy of his ancient
benefactress;[94] while he flattered the ambition of the war-loving
monarch by attributing to him personally all the success which attended
his own measures alike in the foreign and civil contests which were at
that period writing the history of the French nation in characters
of blood.

[Illustration: THE CARDINAL DE RICHELIEU.]

Marie de Medicis was, however, slow to discover the falling-off of her
long-cherished favourite. She still dwelt upon the years in which he
had, as she fondly believed, devoted himself to her interests, when
others in whom she had equally trusted had shrunk from all participation
in her altered fortunes; and she was, moreover, conscious that to his
counsels she was indebted for much of the prudence and ability which she
had displayed on occasions of difficulty. It was, consequently, painful
and almost impossible to suspect that now, when she was once more
restored to the confidence of her son, and had resumed that position in
the government which she had so long coveted in vain, he could sacrifice
her to his own ambition. But Marie de Medicis, subtle politician as
she esteemed herself, was utterly incapable of appreciating the
character of Richelieu. She had now reached her fifty-third year; she
was no longer necessary to the fortunes of the man whose greatness had
been her own work, and she had ceased to interest him either as a woman
or as a Queen. She had, moreover, become devout; and her increasing
attachment for the Jesuit Bérulle (for whom she subsequently obtained a
seat in the Conclave) rendered her less observant of the neglect to
which she was subjected by the minister; while her superstition,
together with the prejudices and jealousies in which she indulged,
occupied her mind, and blinded her to the efforts which the Cardinal was
hourly making to reduce her to absolute insignificance.

Perhaps no greater proof of the unbounded influence which Richelieu had
obtained over the mind of the King at this period can be adduced than is
afforded by the fact that although, as we have shown, Louis had
stringently forbidden all further mention of his brother's marriage with
Mademoiselle de Montpensier, and Gaston had at length consented to
relinquish his claim to her hand, the Cardinal found little difficulty
in inducing the sovereign to rescind this order, and to instruct M.
d'Ornano to determine the weak and timid Prince to renew his addresses
to the heiress, and to hasten the completion of the marriage ceremonies.

Gaston d'Anjou had attained his seventeenth year; and although of more
robust temperament than the King, he was constitutionally indolent and
undecided. His after-history proves him to have been alike an incapable
diplomatist, a timid leader, and a false and fickle friend; but as yet
no suspicion of his courage or good faith had been entertained by any
party, and he was consequently the centre around which rallied every
cabal in turn. He was moreover, as we have already stated, the favourite
son of the Queen-mother, who saw in him not only a cherished child but
also a political ally. By securing the support of Gaston, Marie believed
that she should be the more readily enabled to maintain her influence,
and to protect herself against any future aggression on the part of
Louis, with whom she felt her apparent reconciliation to be at once
hollow and unstable; and as the vain and vacillating character of the
Prince readily lent itself to the projects of each cabal in succession,
so long as it did not interfere with his pleasures, every party in turn
believed him to be devoted to its especial interests, and calculated
upon his support whenever the struggle should commence. Thus, while
himself jealous of Louis, whose crown he envied, Gaston d'Anjou was no
less an object of distrust and terror to the King; who, whatever may
have been his other defects, was never found deficient in personal
courage; and who could not consequently comprehend that with every
inclination to play the conspirator, the young Prince was utterly
incapable of guiding or even supporting any party powerful and honest
enough openly to declare itself.

Under these circumstances, however, it is not surprising that the
marriage of the heir-apparent should have excited the most absorbing
interest not only at the French Court, but throughout all Europe. The
health of Louis XIII continued feeble and uncertain; he rallied slowly
and painfully after each successive attack; and since the visit of the
Duke of Buckingham to Paris his repugnance to Anne of Austria had become
more marked than ever; while the young Queen in her turn resented his
neglect with augmented bitterness, and loudly complained of the
injustice to which she should be subjected were the children of Gaston
d'Anjou to inherit the throne of France. The Princes of the Blood
supported Anne in this objection; for neither Condé nor the Comte de
Soissons could, as a natural consequence, regard with favour any measure
which must tend to diminish the chances of their own succession; while
the latter, moreover, desired to become himself the husband of
Mademoiselle de Montpensier, and the Princesse de Condé aspired to unite
her own daughter, still a mere infant, to the brother of the King. The
other great nobles were also disinclined to see the young Prince form so
close an alliance with the Duc de Guise; and the Duke of Savoy was eager
to bestow on him the hand of Marie de Gonzaga, the heiress of
Montferrat, and thus to secure to himself a powerful ally against the
perpetual aggressions of his numerous enemies.

D'Ornano, as we have seen, had been commanded to renew the negotiation
of marriage between Gaston and the bride destined for him by Henri IV,
but private reasons decided him against the measure; and, in
consequence of his representations, the Prince formally refused to obey
the expressed wishes of the King. The moment was a favourable one for
Richelieu, who had long sought a pretext for ridding himself of
Monsieur's favourite friend and counsellor; and he accordingly lost no
time in impressing upon Louis that, as the young Prince was entirely
governed by M. d'Ornano, no concession could be expected from him until
that individual had been removed from about his person. Nor was the
Maréchal alone an object of suspicion and uneasiness to the minister,
for it was not long ere he ascertained that the party of the Prince was
hourly becoming more formidable, and that were the cabal not crushed in
its infancy, it might very soon tend to endanger at once the safety of
the sovereign and the tranquillity of the kingdom; while he also learned
through his emissaries that his own security was no less involved in the
issue than that of Louis himself.

Under these circumstances Richelieu at once felt that the only method by
which he could hope to control Gaston was by proceeding with the utmost
severity against all such persons as should be convicted of endeavouring
to excite the mind of the Prince against his royal brother; a policy
which Louis eagerly adopted. In accordance with this resolution, during
the sojourn of the Court at Fontainebleau in the month of May, the King
on his return from a hunting-party, after having retired to rest,
suddenly rose again, dressed himself, and at ten o'clock at night
summoned M. d'Ornano to his presence, whom he entertained for a time
with an account of the day's sport, and other inconsequent conversation,
until Du Hallier, the captain of the bodyguard, made his appearance at
the head of his archers, and approaching the Maréchal, announced to him
that he was his prisoner; requesting him to withdraw from the royal
apartment, whence he conducted him to the chamber in which the Duc de
Biron had been confined twenty-four years previously,[95] while Madame
d'Ornano at the same time received an order to quit Paris upon the
instant, and the two brothers of the disgraced courtier, together with
MM. Déageant, Modéna, and other partisans of the Maréchal, were
also arrested.

By this bold stroke of policy the Cardinal effectually paralyzed the
power of Monsieur; although this conviction was far from allaying his
personal apprehensions. Among the favourites of the Prince he had
equally marked for destruction the young Prince de Chalais,[96] the Duc
de Vendôme, and his brother the Grand Prior; but Richelieu feared by
venturing too much to lose all, for his authority had not at that period
reached its acme; and he felt all the danger which he must incur by
adopting measures of such violence against two Princes of the Blood.

The indignation of Monsieur was, moreover, thoroughly excited, and he
did not scruple either to reproach his royal brother, or to utter
threats against those who had aided in the arrest of the Maréchal, whose
restoration to liberty he vehemently demanded; and as his
representations failed to produce the desired effect, he indulged in a
thousand extravagances which only tended to strengthen the hands and to
forward the views of Richelieu, who found no difficulty in widening the
breach between Louis and the imprudent Prince by whom his authority was
openly questioned. In vain did Marie de Medicis endeavour to impress
upon him the danger of such ill-advised violence, Gaston persisted in
upholding his favourite; until the King, irritated beyond endurance,
exhibited such marked displeasure towards his brother that the weak and
timid Prince began to entertain fears for his own safety, and became
suddenly as abject as he had previously been haughty; abandoned D'Ornano
to his fate; and after signing an act, in which he promised all honour
and obedience to the sovereign, carried his condescension so far as to
visit the Cardinal at his residence at Limours, whither he had retired
on the pretext of indisposition.

Richelieu triumphed: and ere long the Duc de Vendôme and his brother
were arrested in their turn, and conveyed to the citadel of Amboise. The
Comte de Soissons, the second Prince of the Blood, fled the Court in
alarm, and took refuge in Savoy; while edict after edict was fulminated
against the nobles, which threatened all their old and long-cherished
privileges. The costume of each separate class was determined with a
minuteness of detail which exasperated the magnificent courtiers, who
had been accustomed to attire themselves in embroidery and cloth of
gold, in rich laces, and plumed and jewelled hats, and who suddenly
found themselves reduced to a sobriety of costume repugnant to their
habits; the Comte de Bouteville, of the haughty house of Montmorency,
who had dared to disregard the revived law against duelling, lost his
head upon the scaffold; and all castles, to whomsoever belonging, which
could not aid in the protection of the frontiers, or of the towns near
which they were situated, were ordered to be demolished.

The reign of Richelieu had commenced.

Meanwhile the Court had taken up its residence at Fontainebleau; where
Louis, deaf to the murmurs of his great nobles, passed his time in
hunting, a sport of which he was passionately fond; while Marie de
Medicis and the Cardinal endeavoured, by every species of dissipation,
to lull him into acquiescence with the perilous measures they
were adopting.

Always sickly and querulous, Louis was a prey to dark thoughts and
fearful anticipations of early dissolution; and even while he suffered
himself to be amused by the hawking, dancing, and feasting so lavishly
provided for his entertainment, he was never at fault, during his
frequent fits of moroseness and ill-humour, for subjects of complaint.
His brother, Gaston d'Anjou, whom he at once feared and hated, was a
constant theme of distrust; while the Comte de Soissons, the Duc de
Montmorency, and the Prince de Chalais, his sworn adherents, were at
times equally obnoxious to the suspicious and gloomy young sovereign.
Then he bewailed the treachery of the Queen, whom he believed, through
the agency of Richelieu, to be engaged in an intrigue with Spain
dangerous to his own interests; mourned over himself because he had
weakly suffered his authority to be usurped by a subject, and had not
moral courage to redeem the error; and in his most confidential moments
even inveighed against Richelieu with the bitterness of a sullen
schoolboy, declaring that it was he who had poisoned the mind of his
brother, estranged him from his wife, and deprived him of the support of
the Princes of the Blood; forgetting, or wilfully overlooking the fact,
that a single effort on his own part must have sufficed for his
emancipation from this rule of iron.

On the departure of the Court for Fontainebleau, the Cardinal, according
to his usual custom, had excused himself on the plea of ill-health from
following the King; while Gaston d'Anjou, who, despite the concession
that he had made, still deeply resented the affront to which he had been
subjected by the arrest of his favourite, had remained in Paris.
Richelieu, was, however, far from inactive in his retreat; but, while he
was occupied in further schemes of self-aggrandizement, the partisans
of the Prince were equally busy in devising the means of ridding
themselves of a thrall so obnoxious to their pride; and after mooting
several measures which were successively abandoned from their apparent
impracticability, it was at length decided that, under the pretext of a
hunting-party, nine of the conspirators should proceed to Fleury, and
there assassinate their common enemy. Of this number was the unfortunate
Chalais; who, however, before the execution of the project, confided it
to a friend, by whom he was warned against any participation in so
dangerous an attempt, and advised immediately to apprise the Cardinal of
his danger. As the young Prince hesitated to follow this counsel, the
Commandeur de Valence, who was anxious to save him from, as he believed,
inevitable destruction, assured him that should he fail to communicate
the conspiracy to the minister, he would himself instantly reveal it;
upon which Chalais, intimidated by the threat, consented to accompany
him to Richelieu, and to confess the whole.

Having listened attentively to all the details of the plot, the Cardinal
courteously thanked his informants, and requested them to proceed to
Fontainebleau, and to repeat what they had told him to the King. He was
obeyed; and an hour before midnight Louis despatched a body of troops to
Fleury, with instructions to obey the orders of the minister whatever
might be their nature; while Marie de Medicis at the same time commanded
the officers of her household and a number of the nobility to accompany
the royal guards.

As Chalais had asserted, at three o'clock on the following morning the
clerks of the kitchen to the Duc d'Anjou arrived at Fleury, and
immediately commenced their preparations for the dinner of the Prince;
upon which Richelieu caused them to be informed that he should leave the
house at the entire disposal of Monsieur; and, escorted by the armed
party that had been sent for his protection, he set out at once for
Fontainebleau, where he had no sooner arrived than he went without the
delay of a moment to the apartment of the King's brother. Gaston was in
the act of leaving his bed, and was evidently alarmed by the sudden
appearance of so unexpected a visitor; but the Cardinal, affecting not
to perceive his embarrassment, merely reproached him in the most courtly
terms for the precaution which he had taken, assuring him that he should
have felt honoured had he relied upon his hospitality; but adding that,
since his Highness had shown himself desirous of avoiding all restraint,
he was happy to be at least enabled to offer him the use of his
residence. The Prince, taken by surprise, and utterly disconcerted at
the failure of so well organized a plot, could only stammer out his
acknowledgments; and the Cardinal had no sooner heard them to an end
than he requested admission to the King, where, having briefly
expatiated upon his escape, he requested permission with ably-acted
earnestness to retire from the Court.

As we have shown, Louis was by no means slow in deprecating the
self-constituted authority of Richelieu; but he was nevertheless so well
aware of his own incapacity, that the idea of being thus abandoned by a
minister whose grasp of intellect and subtle policy had complicated the
affairs of government until he was compelled to admit his own utter
powerlessness to disentangle the involved and intricate mesh, terrified
him beyond expression; nor was Marie de Medicis, whom he hastened to
summon on perceiving the apparently resolute position assumed by
Richelieu, less alarmed than himself.

Had the scene been enacted by three individuals of mean station, it
would have been merely a painful and a degrading one, for each was alike
deceiving and deceived; but as they stood there, a crowned King, a
Princess born "under the purple," and a powerful minister, it presented
another and a more extraordinary aspect. Stolid and resolute as were
alike the mother and the son, they were totally unable to cope with the
superior talent and astuteness of the man whom they had themselves
raised to power; and before the termination of the interview Richelieu
had convinced both that his counsels and services were essential to
their own safety.

This point conceded, the wily Cardinal was enabled to make his own
terms. He received the most solemn assurances of support, not only
against the brother of the sovereign, but also against the Princes of
the Blood and all the great nobles; while a promise was moreover made,
and ratified, that he should have immediate information of every
attempt to injure him in the estimation of the King; and, finally, he
was offered a bodyguard, over which he was to possess the most
absolute control.

This exhibition of royal weakness strengthened the hands of the haughty
minister, who thus became regal in all save name and blood; and
encouraged him to pursue his system of dissimulation. As mother and son
vied with each other in opening before him the most brilliant
perspective ever conceded to a subject, he feigned a reluctance and a
humility which only tended to render their entreaties the more earnest
and the more pressing; until at length, although with apparent
unwillingness, he was prevailed upon to retain his post, and to crush
his enemies by the exhibition of a splendour and authority hitherto
without parallel in the annals of ministerial life.[97]

It was not to be anticipated that under such circumstances as these the
imprudent Chalais could retain one chance of escape. Aware of his favour
with the King, his fall at once relieved Richelieu of a rival, and
taught the weak and capricious monarch to quail before the power of the
man whom he had thus invested with almost unlimited authority; and the
natural result ensued. Unwilling to admit that he sought to revenge an
attempt against his own person, the Cardinal caused the unfortunate
young noble to be accused of a conspiracy against the life of the King
himself, and a design to effect a marriage between Anne of Austria and
the Duc d'Anjou. Judges were suborned; a court was assembled; the gay
and gallant Chalais, whose whole existence had hitherto been one round
of pleasure and splendour, and who was, as we have fully shown, too
timid and too inexperienced to enact, even with the faintest chance of
success, the character of a conspirator, was put upon his trial for
treason, and condemned to die upon the scaffold; nor did the efforts of
his numerous friends avail to avert his fate.

Louis forgot his former affection for his brilliant favourite in his
fear of the minister who sought his destruction; while the heartless and
ungrateful Gaston, wilfully overlooking the fact that it was in his
service that the miserable young man had become compromised, actually
appeared as one of his accusers; his relatives were forbidden to
intercede in his behalf; and finally, when some zealous friends
succeeded in hiding away not only the royal executioner, but also the
city functionary, in the hope of delaying his execution, the emissaries
of the Cardinal secured the services of a condemned felon, who, on a
promise of unconditional pardon, consented to fill the office of
headsman; and who, between his inexperience and his horror at his
unwonted task, performed his hideous functions so imperfectly that it
was only on the thirty-fourth stroke that the head of the martyred young
man was severed from his body.[98]

During the progress of this iniquitous trial (which took place in the
city of Nantes, whither Louis had proceeded to convoke the States of
that province) both Marie de Medicis and Richelieu were assiduously
labouring to accomplish the marriage of Gaston with Mademoiselle de
Montpensier; nor does there remain the slightest doubt that it was to
the splendid promises held out by his mother and her minister on this
occasion, that the cowardly and treacherous conduct of the Prince
towards his unfortunate adherent must be ascribed. A brilliant appanage
was allotted to him; he was to assume the title of Duc d'Orléans; to
occupy a post in the Government; and to enjoy a revenue of a million
of francs.

Prospects far less flattering than these would have sufficed to purchase
Gaston, whose besetting sin throughout his whole life was the most
disgusting and inordinate selfishness; but when his consent had been
obtained, a new difficulty supervened on the part of the King, whose
distrustful character would not permit him to perceive the eagerness
with which the Cardinal urged forward the alliance without misgivings
which were fostered by his immediate friends. Richelieu, however, soon
succeeded by his representations in convincing the suspicious monarch of
the policy of thus compelling his brother to a thorough subjection to
his own authority, which could not have been enforced had Monsieur
allied himself to a Princess of Austria or Spain; an argument which was
instantly appreciated, and a royal command was accordingly despatched to
the elected bride to join the Court at Nantes, under the escort of the
Duc de Bellegarde, the Maréchal de Bassompierre, and the
Marquis d'Effiat.

In accordance with this invitation, Mademoiselle de Montpensier arrived
at Nantes on the 1st of August; and on the 5th of the same month, while
the wretched and deserted Chalais was exposed to the most frightful
torture, the marriage took place. "There was little pomp or display,"
says Mézeray, "either at the betrothal or at the nuptial ceremony."
_Feux de joie_ and salvos of artillery alone announced its completion.
The mass was, however, performed by Richelieu himself; and so thoroughly
had he succeeded in convincing Louis of the expediency of the measure,
that the delight of the young King was infinitely more conspicuous than
that of the bridegroom. The satisfaction of Marie de Medicis, although
sufficiently evident, was calm and dignified; but the King embraced the
bride on three several occasions; and no one could have imagined from
his deportment that he had for a single instant opposed a marriage which
now appeared to have fulfilled his most sanguine wishes.[99]

The reign of blood had nevertheless commenced. The head of Chalais fell
on the 19th of August; and on the 2nd of September the Maréchal d'Ornano
expired in his prison; a fate which was shared on the 28th of February
1629 by the Grand Prieur de Vendôme, both of these deaths being
attributed to poison. Be the fact as it may, thus much is at least,
certain, that the Cardinal, not daring to drag two legitimated Princes
of the Blood to the scaffold, had gradually rendered their captivity
more and more rigorous, as if to prove to the nation over which he had
stretched his iron arm that no rank, however elevated, and no name,
however ancient, could protect its possessor.

Having accomplished the marriage of the Duc d'Orléans, Richelieu and the
Queen-mother next laboured to widen the breach between Louis XIII and
his wife; for which purpose they represented that she had taken an
active part in the lately detected conspiracy, and was secretly
intriguing with Spain against the interests of her royal husband; an
attempt in which she had been aided and abetted by her confidential
friends.

The first consequence of this accusation was the arrest of Madame de
Chevreuse, who, after having undergone a formal examination, was exiled
from the Court; and this order had no sooner been obeyed than Anne of
Austria was summoned to the presence of the King, whom she found seated
between the Queen-mother and the Cardinal, and there solemnly accused,
on the pretended revelations of Chalais while under torture, of having
intrigued to procure the death of her husband, and her own marriage with
his brother.  To this accusation the Spanish Princess disdainfully
replied that "she should have gained so little by the exchange, that the
absurdity of the charge must suffice for its refutation;" but her
haughty and indignant retort produced no effect upon her judges. She was
commanded thenceforward to reside exclusively at the palaces of the
Louvre and St. Germain; without the privilege of receiving a single
guest, not even excepting the ambassador of the King her brother, or the
Spanish attendants who had accompanied her to France, and, moreover,
forbidden all correspondence beyond the limits of the kingdom; while, at
the same time, as if to complete her humiliation, she was strictly
prohibited from receiving any male visitor in her apartments during the
absence of the King.[100]

Although, as we have stated, Richelieu was present at this degrading
scene, he nevertheless professed to be perfectly independent of what he
thought proper to designate as mere family dissensions, entirely beyond
the functions of a minister; and thus the whole odium of the proceedings
fell upon Louis XIII and the Queen-mother, while the Cardinal himself
remained ostensibly absorbed in public business. Neither the great
nobles nor the people were, however, deceived by this assumed
disinterestedness; but all felt alike convinced that the total
alienation which supervened between the royal couple was simply a part
of the system by which Richelieu sought one day exclusively to govern
France.  Henriette Marie had left Paris after her betrothal,
accompanied by a numerous retinue of French attendants of both sexes,
and by several of the priests of the Oratory, attired in their black
gowns; and on her arrival at Whitehall she had been permitted to have
the services of her religion performed in one of the apartments of that
palace; but this concession did not, unhappily, serve to satisfy the
exactions of the girl-Queen, who, even during the first days of her
residence in England, suffered herself to betray all her antipathy to
the heretical country which was hereafter to be her home. At the public
ceremonial of her marriage, when the venerable Abbey of Westminster was
crowded with princes, bishops, and barons, she refused to receive her
crown from the hands of a Protestant prelate, or to bend her knee before
the Lord Primate; while at the same time, relying on her youth and the
effect which her extreme beauty had produced upon her royal consort, she
endeavoured to obtain an ascendency over him that excited the jealousy
and distrust of the English Court; a feeling which was not lessened by
the fact that she succeeded in extorting from the King his sanction to
erect a chapel for the more solemn observance of the rites and
ceremonies of her faith. Acting under the influence of Richelieu, who at
frequent intervals despatched missionaries to London upon futile
errands, with instructions that she should retain them about her person,
she moreover soon taught herself to believe that she had a great
mission to accomplish; and under this impression she carried her
imprudence so far as to authorize a public procession through the
streets of London, in which she herself appeared mounted upon a mule,
surrounded and followed by all her household, and a crowd of Roman
Catholic ecclesiastics.

So wanton a disregard for the feelings of her new subjects excited the
indignation of the Parliament, and made them distrustful of the Duke of
Buckingham, through whose agency and influence the alliance with France
had been formed; while it laid the foundation of those accusations
against him which were so warmly refuted by the sovereign. The
Parliament was dissolved, and the necessity of raising subsidies engaged
the minister in measures which became hostile to the French interests.
An anti-Catholic reaction was declaring itself; and Buckingham at once
felt that he could not more effectually satisfy both the Parliament and
the people than by suppressing without delay that spirit of religious
defiance which was arising in the very palace of the King.

With this conviction he accordingly declared to the young Queen, a few
days after the public pilgrimage which she had made, that she must
immediately send back to France, not only the members of her household,
but also all the ecclesiastics who had induced her so ostentatiously to
insult the faith of the nation by which she had been received and
welcomed with a warmth that merited more consideration on her part.
Indignant at so peremptory an order, Henriette exhibited an amount of
violence which in a mere girl failed to produce the effect that she had
anticipated. The Duke continued calm and resolute, while she, on her
side, vehemently refused to comply with his directions; and after having
reproached the sovereign in the most bitter terms for what she
designated both as a breach of faith and as an act of tyranny, she
summoned the Bishop of Mende, the French Ambassador, to the palace, and
instructed him to apprise the King her brother of the insult with which
she was threatened.

The prelate approved her resistance: and loudly declared that neither
the individuals composing her household, nor the ecclesiastics who were
attached to it, should leave England without an order to that effect
from their own sovereign; and he forthwith despatched couriers to Paris,
to inform the Court of the position of the English Queen; to which Louis
replied by insisting that the persons who had accompanied his royal
sister to her new kingdom should be permitted to remain about her; in
default of which concession he should thenceforward hold himself
aggrieved, and become the irreconcilable enemy of the British
Government.

The Duke of Buckingham nevertheless persisted in his resolution, and the
foreign attendants of Henriette were compelled to return to France, to
the excessive indignation of Marie de Medicis, who refused to see in the
extreme munificence of Charles towards the exiled household any
extenuation of the affront which had been put upon her favourite
daughter; while Henriette on her part, far from endeavouring to adapt
herself to circumstances, and to yield with dignified submission to a
privation which it was no longer in her power to avert, gave way to all
the petulance of a spoiled girl, and overwhelmed the minister with
reproaches and even threats. So unmeasured, indeed, were her invectives
that at length, when she had on one occasion exhausted alike the temper
and the endurance of Buckingham, he so far forgot the respect due to her
rank and to her sex, as well as his own chivalry as a noble, as to
retort with an impetuosity little inferior to her own that she had
better not proceed too far, "for that in England queens had sometimes
lost their heads;" a display of insolence which Henriette never forgot
nor forgave, and which was immediately communicated to the French Court.

Time, far from lessening the animosity of the young Queen towards the
favourite, or the consequent schism between herself and the King,
appeared rather to increase both; and Richelieu, after having for a
while contemplated a war with England conjointly with Philip of Spain,
ultimately abandoned the idea as dangerous and doubtful to the interests
of France. M. de Blainville and the Marquis d'Effiat were despatched to
the Court of London with orders to attempt a compromise; but both
signally failed; and Louis had no sooner returned to Paris than the
Cardinal, who was aware that Buckingham was as anxious to commence
hostilities as he was himself desirous to maintain peace, induced the
King to despatch Bassompierre as ambassador-extraordinary to the Court
of Whitehall with stringent instructions to effect, if possible, a good
understanding between the two countries.

On his arrival in England, however, Bassompierre discovered to his great
consternation that the coldness existing between the English monarch and
his Queen was even more serious than had been apprehended at his own
Court; and he was met on the very threshold of his task by a declaration
from the Duke of Buckingham that Charles would only consent to give him
a public audience on condition that he should not touch upon the subject
which had brought him to England; as he felt that it was one which must
necessarily make him lose his temper, which would be undignified in the
presence of his Court and with the Queen at his side; who, angered by
the dismissal of her French retinue, would not, as he felt convinced,
fail in her turn to be guilty of some extravagance, but would probably
shed tears before everybody; and that consequently, without this pledge
on the part of the French envoy, he would accord him merely a private
interview. Bassompierre hesitated for a time before he could bring
himself to consent to such a compromise of his own dignity and that of
his royal master; but, aware of the importance attached by Richelieu to
the result of his mission, he at length declared that after having
delivered the letters with which he was entrusted, he would leave it to
his Majesty to determine the length of the audience, which might be
easily abridged by a declaration that the subjects upon which they had
to treat would require more time than his Majesty could then command,
and that he would consequently appoint an earlier hour for seeing him
in private.

This delicate affair having been thus satisfactorily arranged, the
public audience took place at Hampton Court. Bassompierre was introduced
into the royal presence by the Duke of Buckingham and the Earl of
Carlisle, and on entering he found the King and Queen seated upon a
raised dais, surrounded by a brilliant Court, but both sovereigns rose
as he bent before them. Having presented his letters, together with the
royal message, Charles, as had been previously arranged, pleaded want of
leisure to enter upon public business; upon which the envoy proceeded to
pay his respects to the Queen, who briefly replied that his Majesty
having given her his permission to return to the capital, she should be
able when there to discourse with him at greater length. Bassompierre
then withdrew, and was escorted by all the great nobles to his carriage.

This commencement, as will be at once apparent, was sufficiently
unpromising, but the French envoy was in a position of such
responsibility that he dared not suffer himself to be discouraged; nor
had he been long in England ere he became painfully convinced that the
petulance and want of self-control in which Henriette wilfully indulged,
daily tended to widen a schism that was already too threatening.
Nevertheless, Bassompierre remained firmly at his post. Matrimonial
feuds in high places were no novelty to the brilliant courtier of Henri
IV and the confidant of Marie de Medicis; and he at once felt that he
must enact at St. James's the same rôle as Sully had formerly
represented at Fontainebleau and the Louvre; nor did his experience of
the past fail, moreover, to convince him of the policy of endeavouring
in the first instance to effect a reconciliation between the Queen and
the favourite. This was, however, no easy task; but at length the
zealous Marquis succeeded in the attempt, as he informs us in his usual
naïve style.

"On Sunday the 25th," he says, "I went to fetch the Duke and took him
with me to the Queen, where he made his peace with her, which I had
accomplished after a thousand difficulties. The King afterwards came in,
who also made it up with her and caressed her a great deal, thanking me
for having restored a good understanding between the Duke and his wife;
and then he took me to his chamber, where he showed me his jewels, which
are very fine."

On the morrow, however, when Bassompierre went to pay his respects to
Henriette at Somerset House, he discovered that he had personally lost
considerably in her favour, as she vehemently complained that he
sacrificed her dignity as a Princess of France to expediency; and had
espoused the cause of her adversary instead of upholding her own. To
these reproaches the French envoy replied by explaining the difficulty
of his position, and the earnest desire of his sovereign to maintain
peace; but this reasoning did not avail to satisfy the wounded vanity of
the girl-Queen; who finally, by her violence, compelled Bassompierre to
remind her that her headstrong egotism was endangering the interests of
her royal brother. Incensed at this accusation, Henriette at once wept
and recriminated; and finally the French courtier retired from her
presence, and hastened to forward a courier to Paris to solicit the
interference of the King and his minister, and to request further
instructions for his guidance.

A few days subsequently, after he had received urgent letters from the
King, by which he was commanded to avoid in every emergency a rupture
between the two countries, Bassompierre again waited upon the Queen, and
explained to her the stringent orders of her royal brother; but
Henriette persisted in declaring that her actual position was not
appreciated at the French Court; and while she was maintaining this
argument, despite all the asseverations of the bewildered envoy, the
arrival of the King was announced. Charles had no sooner entered the
apartment than a violent quarrel arose, which threatened such serious
consequences that Bassompierre interposed, assuring the imprudent
Princess that should she not control her temper, and acknowledge her
error, he would on the following day take leave of his Britannic
Majesty, and on his return to Paris explain to the sovereign and the
Queen-mother that he had been compelled to abandon his mission entirely
through her obstinate and uncompromising violence.

As this threat produced an evident effect upon Henriette, the King had
no sooner retired than the Maréchal, with admirable tact and temper,
represented to the young Queen that at the age of sixteen she was
incompetent to appreciate the measures of her royal consort; while by
her intemperate language and strong prejudices she was seriously
injuring her own cause. Henriette, during her paroxysms of petulance,
was deaf to all his remonstrances; but on this occasion she listened
with greater patience, and even admitted that she had gone too far; a
concession which once more restored the hopes of Bassompierre.

Meanwhile he continued to receive constant letters of encouragement,
both from Louis XIII and Richelieu, urging him to persevere until he
should have succeeded in effecting a perfect reconciliation not only
between the King and Queen, but also between the Queen and the Duke of
Buckingham; and assuring him of their perfect satisfaction with the
measures which he had already adopted. Marie de Medicis was, however,
less placable; and much as she deprecated the idea of hostilities with
England, she nevertheless openly applauded the resistance of her
daughter to what she designated as the tyrannical presumption of
Buckingham, and the blind weakness of Charles, who sacrificed the
domestic happiness of a young and lovely bride to the arrogant intrigues
of an overbearing favourite. The English Duke himself was peculiarly
obnoxious to the Queen-mother, who could not forgive his insolent
admiration of Anne of Austria, and the ostentatious manner in which he
had made the wife of her son a subject of Court scandal; while, at the
same time, she deeply resented the fact that Henriette had not even been
permitted to retain her confessor, but was compelled to accept one
chosen for her by the minister.

While, therefore, Bassompierre constantly received directions from both
the King and the Cardinal to ensure peace at any price, and to prevail
upon the young Queen to make the concessions necessary for producing
this result, Marie de Medicis as continually wrote to entreat of the
Maréchal to uphold the interests of the French Princess, and to assure
her of her perfect satisfaction at the spirit which she had evinced;
though it is doubtful if, when these messages were entrusted to the
royal envoy, they were ever communicated to the excitable Henriette.

Finally, to his great satisfaction, Bassompierre succeeded in carrying
out the wishes of his sovereign; and he at length took his leave of the
English Court, laden with rich presents, after having received the warm
acknowledgments of all parties for the patience and impartiality with
which he had acted throughout; and the gratification of feeling that a
better, and as he hoped a lasting, understanding existed between the
royal pair. The household of Henriette had been re-organized, and
although upon a more reduced scale than that by which she had been
accompanied from France, it was still sufficiently numerous to satisfy
even the exigencies of royalty; and thus, estimated by its consequences,
this embassy was probably the most brilliant event of Bassompierre's
whole career; as from the period of his residence at the Court of
England, the young Queen possessed both the heart and the confidence of
her royal husband, whose affection for his beautiful and accomplished
consort thenceforward endured to the last day of his existence.[101]

In the month of November France lost another of her marshals in the
person of M. de Lesdiguières, who had passed his eightieth year; while
the subsequently celebrated court _roué_, the Duc de Saint-Simon, became
the accredited favourite of the changeful and capricious Louis, without,
however, attaining any influence in the government, which had at this
period become entirely concentrated in the hands of Richelieu and the
Queen-mother.

The pregnancy of the Duchesse d'Orléans, which was formally announced at
the close of this year, was a source of great exultation to her
husband, who received with undisguised delight the congratulations which
were poured out upon him from every side; nor did he seek to disguise
his conviction that, should the Queen continue childless, there was
nothing to which he might see fit to aspire, which, with the assistance
of the Guises and their faction, he would find it impossible to attain.
A general hatred of Richelieu was the ruling sentiment of the great
nobles, who were anxious to effect his overthrow, but the Cardinal was
too prudent to be taken at a disadvantage; and he at once felt that in
addition to the blow which he had aimed at the power of the barons by
depriving them of their fortified places, he still possessed the means
of maintaining his position, and even of increasing his authority, by
labouring to accomplish the destruction of the Protestants; a policy
which was eagerly adopted by Louis, whose morbid superstition, coupled
with his love of war for its own sake, led him to believe that the work
of slaughter which must necessarily supervene could not but prove
agreeable to Heaven; counselled as it was, moreover, by a dignitary of
the Church.

While Richelieu was thus seeking to involve the nation in a renewal of
that intestine warfare by which it had already been so fearfully
visited, simply to further his own ambitious views, the princes and
nobles whom he had irritated into a thirst for vengeance were no less
eager to attain the same object in order to effect his ruin; and for
this purpose they endeavoured to secure the co-operation of Gaston,
deluding themselves with the belief that the heir-apparent to the
throne, who had encouraged their disaffection, and for the maintenance
of whose interests Ornano and Chalais had already suffered, would not
refuse to them at so critical a moment the support of his name, his
wealth, and his influence. But these sanguine malcontents had not yet
learned to appreciate the egotistical and ungrateful nature of the young
Prince, who kept no mental record of services conferred, and retained no
feeling of compunction for sufferings endured in his cause; but who ever
sought to avail himself of both, while he continued utterly unable to
appreciate either.

The appeal was consequently made in vain. Enriched by the careful policy
of the Cardinal, Gaston sought only to profit by his suddenly-attained
wealth; and despite the entreaties of his wife, whose youth, beauty, and
accomplishments might well, for a time at least, have commanded his
respect, he plunged into the most puerile and degrading pleasures, and
abandoned himself to a life of alternate indolence and dissipation. The
immense fortune of the Duchess, which had moreover been greatly
increased by the accumulated interest of a long minority, was wasted in
the most shameful orgies, amid dissolute and unseemly associates; and
even while he was awaiting with undisguised anxiety the birth of a son
who, as he fondly trusted, would one day fill the throne of France, no
sentiment of forbearance towards the expectant mother could induce him
to sacrifice his own selfish passions.[102]

On the 29th of May the desired event took place, but to the extreme
mortification of the Duc d'Orléans it was announced that the Duchess had
given birth to a daughter--the Princess who subsequently became famous
during the reign of Louis XIV under the title of La Grande Mademoiselle.
Nor was this the greatest trial which Gaston was destined to endure, as
four days subsequently the unfortunate Duchess breathed her last, to the
regret of the whole Court, to whom she had become endeared by her
gentleness and urbanity; and to the deep grief of the Queen-mother, who
saw in this deplorable event the overthrow of her most cherished
prospects. Louis XIII was, however, far from participating in the
general feeling of sorrow, nor did he seek to conceal his exultation.

"You weep, Madame," he said coldly to Marie de Medicis, whom he found
absorbed in grief; "leave tears to your son, who will soon be enabled to
drown them in dissipation. You will do well also not to expose him for
some time to come to the chance of a second disappointment of the same
nature; he is scarcely fitted for a married life, and has signally
failed in his first attempt at domestic happiness."  The Queen-mother
offered no reply to this injunction; but while the King and Richelieu
were absorbed by the invasion of Buckingham, and the persecution of the
Protestants, she commenced a negotiation with the Grand Duke of Florence
which had for its object an alliance between the widowed Gaston and one
of the daughters of that Prince.

Buckingham had been repulsed by the French troops before the Island of
Rhé, but had ultimately effected a landing; and on the 28th of June the
King left Paris in order to join the army at La Rochelle, and to prevent
a junction between the English general and the reformed party. He had
already been threatened by symptoms of fever, but his anxiety to oppose
the enemy was so great that he disregarded the representations and
entreaties of those about him, and proceeded to Beaulieu, where he
slept. Shortly after his arrival in that town his malady increased, but
he still refused to follow the advice of his physicians, and on the
morrow advanced as far as Villeroy, where, however, he was compelled to
remain, being utterly incapable of further exertion.

This intelligence no sooner reached the Queen-mother than she hastened
to rejoin the royal invalid; an example which was followed a few days
subsequently by Anne of Austria, the Keeper of the Seals, and the whole
Court. The indisposition of the King, which for some days threatened the
most fatal results, was, however, ultimately conquered by his
physicians; and on the 15th of August the royal patient was declared
convalescent.[103]

During the illness of the sovereign the entire control of public affairs
had, by his command, been formally confided to Marie de Medicis and the
Cardinal; and he was no sooner in a state to resume his journey than he
hastened to La Rochelle, which was blockaded by his forces under the
orders of Monsieur; while the troops destined to succour the Island of
Rhé were placed under the command of the Maréchal de Schomberg, and
Louis de Marillac,[104] the brother of Michel de Marillac, the Keeper of
the Seals (who, through the influence of Richelieu, had succeeded M.
d'Aligre in that dignity), by whom Buckingham was compelled, after a
siege of three months, to evacuate the island, and to retreat in
confusion, and not without severe loss, to the vessels which
awaited him.

This victory created immense exultation in France; the Duc de
Saint-Simon was instructed to convey the colours and cannon taken from
the English with great pomp to the capital, and public rejoicings
testified the delight with which the citizens of Paris received the
welcome trophies. One individual alone took no share in the general
triumph, and that one was the Duc d'Orléans, who had been deprived of
his command by the King, in order that it might be conferred upon the
Cardinal de Richelieu, and who had so deeply resented the indignity that
he instantly retired from the army and returned to Paris, leaving Louis
and his minister to continue the siege[105].

The vigorous defence of the Rochelais, however, and the extreme severity
of the winter, did not fail to produce their effect upon the King, who
became weary of a campaign which exacted more mental energy than
physical courage, and who was anxious to return to the capital. He
declared his constitution to be undermined, and asserted that he should
die if he remained in the camp; but as he feared that his reputation
might suffer should he appear to abandon the army at his own
instigation, he was desirous that Richelieu should suggest his
departure, and thus afford him an opportunity of seeming resistance;
while the minister, who was unsuspicious of the truth, did not hesitate
to assure him that his absence at so important a juncture might prove
fatal to his interests, and could not fail to tarnish his fame as a
general. Incensed by this opposition to his secret wishes, Louis
retorted so bitterly that the Cardinal at once perceived his error, and
hastened to repair it; nor did he do this an hour too soon, as the
exasperation of the King was so great that he even talked of dispensing
with his services; but the able policy of Richelieu once more saved him,
and he so skilfully convinced the King only a few hours subsequently
that his presence was necessary in the capital in order to counteract
the intrigues of the Queen-mother and the Duc d'Orléans, that the
ruffled pride of the weak monarch was soothed, while a plausible pretext
for his departure was supplied of which he hastened to avail himself;
and having taken leave of the troops, he at length set forth for Paris
on the 10th of February.

Louis was rendered, moreover, the more earnest to regain the capital by
the constant information which he received of the gaieties in which the
two Queens and Monsieur were constantly indulging while he was devoured
by melancholy under the walls of the beleaguered city; nor had he been
indifferent to a rumour which had reached him of the marked inclination
evinced by the Prince his brother for the beautiful and accomplished
Marie de Gonzaga, the daughter of the Duc de Nevers, who shortly
afterwards became Duke of Mantua.[106]

Coupled with his disinclination to see Gaston again placed in a position
to give an heir to the French throne, Louis had sufficiently profited by
the lessons of Richelieu to feel the whole extent of the danger by which
he would be threatened should Gaston succeed in acquiring allies beyond
the frontiers; and he accordingly hastened to express to the
Queen-mother his displeasure at the intelligence of this new passion,
with a coldness which immediately tended to convince her that a great
change had taken place in his feelings towards herself. Alarmed by this
conviction, and anxious to discover the cause of so marked a falling-off
in his confidence, Marie de Medicis exerted all her energies to
ascertain through whose agency her influence had thus been undermined;
nor was it long ere she became assured that Richelieu had availed
himself of her absence to renew all the old misgivings of the King, and
by rendering her motives and affection questionable, to make himself
entirely master of the mind of the jealous and suspicious monarch.

Once satisfied of this fact, the Queen-mother resolved to profit in her
turn by the absence of the Cardinal, whose ingratitude was so flagrant
as thenceforward to sever every link between them; and the opportunity
afforded by the open demonstrations of affection which Gaston lavished
upon the Mantuan Princess was consequently eagerly seized upon in order
to counteract the evil offices of the minister. Marie had watched the
growing passion of the Duc d'Orléans with an annoyance as great as that
of the King himself, for she had never forgotten the animosity displayed
towards her by the Duc de Nevers; and she was, moreover, anxious, as we
have already stated, to effect an alliance between her second son and a
Princess of Tuscany; but aware of the capricious and unstable character
of Gaston, she had hitherto confined herself to expostulations, which
had produced little effect. Now, however, she resolved to derive the
desired benefit from a circumstance which she had previously deprecated,
and, summoning Monsieur, she readily persuaded him to affect the most
violent indignation at her opposition, while she, on her side, would
evince an equal degree of displeasure against himself. To this
arrangement Gaston readily consented, as he delighted in intrigue, and
was aware that by pursuing Marie de Gonzaga with his addresses he should
alarm Richelieu as well as annoy the King. An open rupture accordingly
appeared to take place between the mother and son; and while the Duke
continued to visit the young Princess, and to enact the impassioned
lover, Marie de Medicis expressed her indignation in the most unmeasured
terms, and threatened him with her unrelenting anger should he persist
in his suit. So well indeed did she perform her self-imposed part, that
not only Louis himself, but the whole Court were thoroughly deceived by
the stratagem; and meanwhile the unsuspecting Princess became the victim
of the dissembling Queen and her capricious and heartless suitor.[107]

As the Cardinal had laboured to impress upon the King that Marie de
Medicis was anxious to effect the second marriage of her younger son in
order to secure the succession to his children, Louis had arrived in the
capital fully possessed by this idea; and his surprise was consequently
great when he perceived that the Queen-mother resented the projected
alliance as an insult to her own dignity; nor did he hesitate to express
his satisfaction at the misunderstanding which it had caused between
them. His moody brow relaxed; his suspicions were for awhile laid at
rest; and after having devoted some time to the pleasures of the chase,
he once more left the capital and returned to La Rochelle.

On the 16th of October the city, exhausted by famine, and decimated by
the artillery of the royal army, was compelled to capitulate; and on the
30th of the same month it was garrisoned by its conquerors. So soon as a
fitting residence could be prepared for him, Richelieu took up his abode
within its walls; and on the 1st of November the King made a triumphal
entry into the late stronghold of Protestantism in France, whose
subjugation had cost the lives of upwards of forty thousand of his
subjects.[108]

La Rochelle was no sooner in possession of the royal forces than the
Cardinal determined to protect Mantua against the aggression of Austria,
a measure which he proposed in the Council, where it met with
considerable opposition. Richelieu, however, persisted in his purpose,
alleging that he had pledged himself to the Italian states to come to
their support immediately that the campaign against the reformed party
should have been successfully concluded; and he even urged the King to
head the army in person. Louis, who was naturally brave, and who,
moreover, prided himself upon his prowess in the field, and loved to
contrast it with the pusillanimity of Philip IV of Spain, whose person
was scarcely known to his troops, listened eagerly to the suggestion;
but it was peculiarly obnoxious to Marie de Medicis, who did not fail to
declare that the sole object of the Cardinal was to separate her from
the King, and thus to weaken her influence. She consequently opposed the
project with all the energy of her naturally impetuous character,
asserting that her tenderness as a mother would not permit of her
consenting thus constantly to see her son exposed to the vicissitudes of
war, or his feeble health overtaxed by exertions and fatigues to which
he was unequal.

The Cardinal listened to her representations with an impassibility as
respectful as it was unbending. He had no faith in the reasons which she
advanced, although he verbally accepted them, for the time had not yet
arrived when he could openly brave her power; but it was at this period
that the moral struggle commenced between them of which the unfortunate
Queen was destined to become the victim.[109]

The exultation of Louis XIII at the fall of La Rochelle was considerably
lessened by a violent attack of gout which immediately succeeded, and by
which he was detained a prisoner within its gates until the 19th of
November, when he departed for Limours, where he was met by the two
Queens and Monsieur. Thence the Court proceeded to St. Germain in order
to enjoy the diversion of hunting, and subsequently to Versailles, to
await the completion of the ceremonial of the solemn and triumphal entry
of the King into his capital, which took place on the 23rd of December
with great pomp and magnificence. All the approaches to the city were
crowded by dense masses of the population of the adjacent country, while
the streets were thronged with the citizens who rent the air with
acclamations. Triumphal arches were erected at intervals along the road
by which the royal procession was to travel; the balconies of the houses
were draped with silks and tapestry; and nearly eight thousand men,
splendidly armed and clothed, awaited the King a league beyond the gates
in order to escort him to his capital. The Parliament, and all the
municipal bodies, harangued him as he reached the walls, and exhausted
themselves in the most fulsome and servile flatteries; and finally, he
received the congratulations of all the foreign ambassadors, as well as
the compliments of the Papal Nuncio, by whom he was exhorted in the name
of the Pope to persist in the great work which he had so gloriously
commenced, until he had accomplished the entire extermination of the
Protestants of France.[110]


FOOTNOTES:

[90] Lingard, vol. ix. p. 326.

[91] Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 283, 286.

[92] Motteville, _Mém_. vol. i. p. 342 _note_.

[93] _Mercure Français_, 1625. Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. v, pp. 849, 850.

[94] Brienne, _Mém_. vol. i. p. 422.

[95] Sismondi, vol. xxiii. pp. 14, 15. Capefigue (Richelieu, Mazarin,
etc.), vol. iv. p. 8.

[96] Henri de Talleyrand, Prince de Chalais, was a younger son of the
illustrious house of Talleyrand, whose personal attractions had secured
to him the favour of Louis XIII, by whom he was appointed Grand Master
of the Wardrobe.

[97] Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 317-319.

[98] Sismondi, vol. xxiii. pp. 21, 22. Bassompierre, _Mém_. vol. iii. p.
56. Brienne, _Mém_. vol. i. p. 432. Gaston, Duc d'Orléans, _Mém_. vol.
i. p. 56. Le Vassor, vol. v. pp. 471-500.

[99] Capefigue, vol. iv. p. 34.

[100] Sismondi, vol. xxiii. p. 22. Capefigue, vol. iv. p. 35.
Bassompierre, _Mém_. vol. iii. p. 57.

[101] Capefigue, vol. i. pp. 324-327. Bassompierre, _Mém_. vol. iii. pp.
60-76.

[102] Mézeray, vol. xi. p. 334.

[103] _Mercure Français_, 1627.

[104] Louis de Marillac was Gentleman in ordinary of the Bedchamber to
Henri IV, and greatly distinguished himself by his valour alike under
that sovereign and his successor Louis XIII. He was created Marshal of
France in 1629; and was arrested in the camp of Felizzo, in Piedmont, in
1632, for having, as was asserted, volunteered to assassinate Richelieu
with his own hand, when he voted against him in the assembly known as
the "Day of Dupes." On the 8th of May in the same year he was condemned
to lose his head; a sentence which was carried into execution in the
Place de Grève; but his character was subsequently vindicated by a
decree of the Parliament after the death of the Cardinal.

[105] Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 338, 339.

[106] Charles, Duc de Nevers, succeeded Vincent II, Duke of Mantua, who,
dying without issue on the 24th of December 1628, solemnly appointed
him his heir.

[107] Le Vassor, vol. v. p. 736. Mézeray, vol. xi. p. 339. Gaston
d'Orléans, _Mém_. édit. Petitot, vol. xxxi. p. 86. Sismondi, vol. xxiii.
pp. 60, 61.

[108] Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 355-357.

[109] Sismondi, vol. xxiii. p. 94.

[110] Le Vassor, vol. v. pp. 907, 908.



CHAPTER VI

1629

Richelieu resolves to undermine the power of Austria--State of
Europe--Opposition of the Queen-mother to a new war--Perseverance of the
Cardinal--Anne of Austria joins the faction of Marie de Medicis--Gaston
is appointed General of the royal army--Richelieu retires from the
Court--Alarm of Louis XIII--A King and his minister--Louis leaves Paris
for the seat of war--Monsieur is deprived of his command, and
retires to Dauphiny--Marie de Gonzaga is sent to the fortress of
Vincennes--Monsieur consents to forego his marriage until it shall
receive the royal sanction, and the Princess returns to the
Louvre--Marie is invested with a partial regency--Forebodings of the
Cardinal--Termination of the campaign--Renewed discord--Richelieu
becomes jealous of Bassompierre--Louis abandons his army, and is
followed by the minister--Counterplots--An offended mistress and an
ex-favourite--A hollow peace--Gaston retires to the Court of Lorraine,
where he becomes enamoured of the Princesse Marguerite--The Cardinal
invites him to return to Paris--Monsieur accepts the proposed
conditions--The French troops march upon Piedmont--Richelieu is
appointed Lieutenant-General of the royal forces in Italy--The King
resolves to follow him--Anxiety of Marie de Medicis to avoid a rupture
with Spain--Dissensions between the two Queens---Mademoiselle de
Hautefort--Failing influence of Marie de Medicis--Self-distrust of the
King--The Queen-mother endeavours to effect a reconciliation between
her sons.


La Rochelle had no sooner surrendered than, as already stated, Richelieu
determined to make an attempt to undermine the power of Austria, greatly
to the dissatisfaction of the Cardinal de Bérulle, Marillac the Keeper
of the Seals, and all the other members of the secret council of Marie
de Medicis. The position of Philip was at that moment a formidable one;
Germany, which was almost entirely subjugated, was prepared to supply
him with an immense number of troops, while the treasures which had
poured in upon him from the New World made him equally independent as
regarded the outlay required to support his armies. Moreover, religious
prejudices strengthened their antagonism to the meditated war. The
Emperor was anxious to exterminate the Protestants, and the Council
consequently looked upon all opposition to that potentate as a crime
against their own faith. M. de Bérulle was eloquent and enthusiastic;
Marillac aspired to build up his fortunes on the ruins of those of
Richelieu, and to succeed him in his office as prime minister; and Marie
de Medicis clung with tenacious anxiety both to the Emperor of Germany
and the King of Spain, who had alike approved of her determination to
effect the overthrow of the man whom she had herself raised to power,
and by whom she had been so ungratefully betrayed.  Marie and her
counsellors were, however, by no means a match for the astute and
far-reaching Richelieu, who had, by encouraging the belligerent tastes
of the King, and still more by so complicating the affairs of the
kingdom as to render them beyond the comprehension and grasp of the weak
monarch, and to reduce him to utter helplessness, succeeded in making
himself altogether independent of his benefactress, none of whose
counsellors were capable of competing for an hour with his superior
energy and talent. Aware of his advantage, Richelieu consequently
despised the opposition by which he was harassed and impeded in his
projects; and while he affected to pay the greatest deference to the
representations of the Queen-mother, he persisted in his enterprises
with an imperturbability which ensured their success.

One circumstance, however, tended greatly to embarrass the
Cardinal-minister. Anne of Austria, indignant at the protracted neglect
of the King, and the utter insignificance to which she was consequently
condemned, openly espoused the party of the Queen-mother, and, in her
turn, loudly complained that the King should be induced by the egotism
of the Cardinal to expose his health to the chances of warfare and the
dangers of unwholesome climates; declaring that Richelieu, not satisfied
with retaining his royal master for several months amid the marshes of
Aunis, was now seeking to destroy him by exposure to the snows and
storms of the Alps during the depth of winter.

Irritated by these open accusations, and still more alarmed lest the
egotism of the monarch should lead him to adopt the same opinion, the
Cardinal urged the necessity of placing at the head of so considerable
an army as that which was about to march into Italy, a general whose
name alone must suffice to awe the enemy against whom it was directed;
but even this subterfuge, welcome as it was to the vanity of Louis, did
not produce the effect which he had hoped; for the Queen-mother,
profiting by a private interview with the King, earnestly represented
that a more favourable opportunity than the present could never again
present itself to effect a separation between Monsieur and Marie
de Gonzaga.

"You know, Sire," she said in conclusion, "how tenaciously I have
striven to prevent a marriage so obnoxious alike to your Majesty and to
myself, and how signally I have hitherto failed. Now, however, Gaston
may be induced to forego his intention, for he has assured me that
should you consent to confer upon him the command of the expedition to
Italy, he will resign all claim to the hand of Marie de Gonzaga, and
even permit her to return to Mantua. It remains, therefore, with
yourself to terminate an affair which has already created much annoyance
both to your Majesty and to the Queen, who is equally desirous that this
ill-judged and premature alliance should not be suffered to take place."

The tears and entreaties of the two Queens at length produced their
effect; and with some reluctance Louis consented that his brother
should be appointed to the command of the army, desiring at the same
time that he should receive fifty thousand crowns to defray the expenses
of his equipment; and, although the spendthrift Prince lost the whole
sum at the gaming-table during the course of a single evening, Richelieu
did not venture upon further expostulation, the union of the two Queens,
and the undisguised satisfaction of the great nobles, rendering a more
sustained opposition alike doubtful and dangerous. Affecting, therefore,
to withdraw from the struggle, he retired to Chaillot, while he left to
his friends the task of reawakening the jealousy which Louis had long
evinced of the military talents of his brother.[111] This project could
not, as Richelieu was well aware, fail to prove successful; and,
accordingly, the King ere long manifested great uneasiness and
irritation; refused to join in the amusements which Marie de Medicis was
careful to provide for him; lost his rest; and, finally, set forth for
Chaillot in order to have an interview with the minister.

When the Cardinal saw the moody King arrive, he at once felt that he had
triumphed; the brow of Louis was as black as night, and he clutched the
hilt of his sword with so tight a grasp that his fingers became
bloodless.

"You are ill, Sire; you are suffering," said the wily churchman, with
well-acted anxiety. "Can my poor services avail to restore you to peace
of mind?"  "I cannot allow my brother," was the abrupt reply, "to
command my army beyond the Alps. You must enable me to retract
my promise."

"I know only one method of doing so," said Richelieu, after appearing to
reflect, "and that is that your Majesty should repair thither in person.
But should you adopt this resolution, you must carry it into effect
within eight days; there is no time to be lost."

"Be it so," exclaimed Louis; "I will leave the capital and place myself
at the head of my troops;" and beckoning to Bassompierre, by whom he had
been accompanied, and who stood near the door of the Apartment, he
added, with something approaching to a smile: "Here is a man who will
willingly bear me company, and who will serve me zealously."

"Whither does your Majesty purpose to proceed?" inquired the Maréchal,
as he bowed his acknowledgments.

"To Italy," said the King, "and that not later than a week hence, in
order to raise the siege of Casal. Make your preparations and follow me
without delay. I shall appoint you my lieutenant-general under my
brother, should he consent to share in the campaign; and I shall also
take the Maréchal de Créquy with me; he knows the country; and I trust
that we shall cause ourselves to be talked of throughout Europe." [112]

Thus in a single hour were all the projects of Marie de Medicis
overthrown; and the King had no sooner, on his return to Paris, informed
her of his change of purpose than she felt that Richelieu had at length
thrown down the gauntlet, and that thenceforward there must be war
between them. Nor was the Duc d'Orléans less mortified and alarmed than
the Queen-mother; but neither the one nor the other ventured to
expostulate; and, although with less precipitation than the King,
Monsieur commenced his preparations. Louis XIII left Paris on the 4th of
January; but it was not until the 29th that his brother took leave of
the Court, and reluctantly proceeded to rejoin him. The Cardinal had
already set forth, although the extreme severity of the weather, and the
deep fall of snow by which the roads were obstructed, might have
sufficed to furnish him with a pretext for delay; but it was no part of
Richelieu's policy to suffer the two brothers to remain together beyond
his surveillance; and accordingly, as was his usual habit on such
emergencies, he threw off his indisposition, and boldly defied alike
wintry weather and fatigue.

He might, however, as the event proved, have been more deliberate in his
movements; for Monsieur, already annoyed by the disappointment to which
he had been subjected, evinced no disposition to profit by the brief
opportunity thus afforded to him, but proceeded leisurely to Dauphiny;
where he had no sooner arrived than he received information that the
most strenuous efforts had been made immediately after he had left Paris
to hasten the departure of Marie de Gonzaga. Delighted at any pretext
for abandoning the journey to which he had been compelled, he forthwith
retraced his steps; but great as was the haste which he displayed to
reach the capital, the first news by which he was greeted was that the
Queen-mother had caused the Princess of Mantua to be imprisoned in the
fortress of Vincennes.

This extraordinary intelligence was communicated to him by the Maréchal
de Marillac, who had succeeded Richelieu in the confidence of Marie de
Medicis; and who endeavoured to palliate the outrage by explaining the
motives which induced her Majesty to take so singular a step. She had
been as M. de Marillac asserted, assured that his Highness had resolved
to carry off Mademoiselle de Gonzaga, and then to leave the kingdom; a
determination by which she was so much alarmed that she had adopted the
only measure which had appeared to her to offer a certain preventive to
so dangerous and unprecedented a proceeding; but Monsieur would listen
to no arguments upon the subject, and withdrew in violent displeasure to
Orleans, whence he despatched one of the officers of his household to
protest against the imprisonment of the Princess, and to demand not only
that she should immediately be set at liberty, but also that she should
not be permitted to leave the country.

The Queen-mother, who was aware that she could not justify a proceeding
which violated all the rights of hospitality, and who was, moreover,
alarmed lest she should incur the lasting animosity of her favourite
son, and thus render herself still more helpless than she had already
become through the defection of Richelieu, found herself compelled to
accede to a request which had in fact assumed the character of a
command; but she, nevertheless, only accorded her consent to the release
of the captive on condition that Monsieur should desist, for a time at
least, in pressing his marriage either with Marie de Gonzaga or any
other Princess until he had received the consent of the King to that
effect; and Gaston having, after some hesitation, agreed to the proposed
terms, the unfortunate girl was removed from Vincennes to the Louvre,
whither the Prince immediately hastened to congratulate her on her
liberation, and to express to the Queen-mother his indignation at what
had occurred.[113]

Before the departure of the King for Italy he had, at the instigation of
Richelieu, declared Marie de Medicis Regent of all the provinces on the
west bank of the Loire; a concession to which, extraordinary as it must
appear, the Cardinal had been compelled, in order to appease the
Queen-mother, whose exasperation at this renewed separation from the
King had exceeded any which she had previously exhibited; and who had
been supported in her complaints and expostulations by Anne of Austria,
with whom she had begun to make common cause. That Richelieu, however,
did so with great and anxious reluctance there can be little doubt, as
he was well aware that he had excited her suspicion and dislike, and
that he should, moreover, leave her surrounded by individuals who would
not fail to embitter her animosity against him.

Moreover, the haughty minister could not disguise from himself that he
was labouring to build up his own fortunes upon the ruin of those of his
benefactress--of the confiding and generous mistress to whom he was
indebted for all the honours which he then enjoyed--nor could he fail to
feel that reprisals on her part would be at once legitimate and
justifiable; and accordingly he caused the commission of her regency to
be prefaced by the most elaborate encomiums. Not content with asserting
that her "able government and her wise measures had proved her to be
alike the mother of the sovereign and of the state." Louis, acting under
the advice of the wily minister, lavished upon her every epithet of
honour and respect; apparently forgetting that he had previously exiled
her from the Court, taken up arms against her, and that he even then
believed her to be in secret correspondence with his enemies; while at
the same period Richelieu records in his Memoirs that the Pope had
declared to his nuncio, during his audience of leavetaking on his
departure for the French Court: "You will see the Queen-mother. She is
favourable to Spain; and her attachment to the King her son does not
extend beyond her own interests. She is, moreover, one of the most
obstinate persons in the world." [114]

And yet, even while dwelling with complacency on the Papal strictures,
the Cardinal did not hesitate to put into the mouth of the King the
most unmeasured panegyrics of the same Princess, in order to shelter
himself from her vengeance. This concession was the result of an able
calculation, for Richelieu could not remain blind to his personal
unpopularity; and was, moreover, conscious that both Marie de Medicis
and Monsieur were beloved by the populace. It was not perhaps that
either the one or the other was individually the object of popular
affection, but each represented the interests of an irritated
opposition; and both sought to undermine the existing Government, or
rather the authority of Richelieu, who was rapidly absorbing all power,
and striving to bend the necks of nobles, citizens, and people under his
iron yoke.[115]

The campaign having terminated favourably for the royal cause, and the
taking of La Rochelle, coupled with the deliverance of Casal, having
greatly increased the influence of Richelieu over the mind of the King,
the former began more openly to defy the power of the Queen-mother; and
anxious, if possible, to regain the favour of Gaston, he no longer
scrupled to declare that she had been actuated solely by her own
interests in the violent repugnance which she had evinced to the union
of the Prince with Marie de Gonzaga; and to impress upon the weak
monarch the danger of irritating his brother by further opposition to a
union which would meet with the approval of the whole kingdom. Louis,
however, as we have already shown, was himself averse to the marriage of
Monsieur, who had refused to see him until he consented to his wishes;
but, angered by this apparent defiance, he nevertheless bitterly
reproached his mother for her harshness towards both parties, and
refused to listen to her proffered justification.

Marie de Medicis at once perceived whence the factitious strength of her
son was derived; and all her previous affection for the Cardinal became
changed into a hatred which was destined to continue undiminished to the
close of her existence.

Nor was Richelieu, on his side, less ill at ease. He was aware that his
ingratitude to his benefactress was the theme of general remark and
reproach; and he apprehended, should the King fall a victim to one of
those attacks of indisposition to which he was continually subject--an
event which had been foretold by the astrologers, and which was
anticipated by his physicians--that he should be unable to contend
against the animosity of the irritated Princess, and the undisguised
aversion of the Duc d'Orléans, who made no effort to conceal his dislike
to the haughty minister, against whom he published during his sojourn at
Nancy a manifesto, in which he accused him of having usurped the
authority of the sovereign.

Louis, however, who felt his own utter inability to dispense with so
able and fearless a counsellor, paid no regard to the discontent of the
Prince; and increased his indignation by issuing letters patent, in
which, after eulogizing the Cardinal, and expressing his sense of the
services which he had rendered alike to himself and to his kingdom, he
officially appointed him Prime Minister. It is true that from his first
admission to the Council Richelieu had performed all the functions
appertaining to that rank, but he had nevertheless hitherto been
preceded by the other ministers, whereas this public declaration enabled
him to take his place immediately below the Princes of the Blood;[116]
while, in addition to this new dignity, he found himself _de facto_
generalissimo of the King's armies in Piedmont.

Bassompierre had meanwhile greatly distinguished himself at the Pass of
Susa, which had been forced by the French troops; and his vigour,
activity, and courage had rendered him the idol of the soldiers, who
justly attributed to his able exertions no small portion of the success
which had attended the royal arms. The military renown of the brilliant
courtier, whom he had hitherto affected to regard merely as a spoilt
child of fortune, was, however, highly distasteful to the Cardinal,
whose flatterers did not fail to persuade him that the victory was due
to his own admirable arrangements, rather than to the valour of any of
the generals who had braved the dangers of the hazardous expedition; and
he consequently sought to excite the jealousy and suspicion of Louis
against the zealous Maréchal, who little imagined that his prowess in
the field was fated to involve his personal safety.

The sojourn at Susa, a wretched locality in which, while awaiting the
ratification of the treaties consequent upon its capture, Louis could
not even enjoy the diversion of hunting, soon exhausted the patience of
the monarch, who declared his intention of returning to France previous
to the conclusion of the necessary arrangements; and although he was
earnestly entreated by Soranzo, the Venetian Ambassador, to forego his
purpose, he resolutely refused to listen to his representations; and on
the 28th of April he accordingly commenced his homeward journey, simply
taking the precaution, in order to satisfy his several allies, of
leaving Richelieu with a strong body of troops, and full authority to
terminate as he should see fit the pending negotiations. The Cardinal,
however, felt as little inclination as his royal master to waste his
time and to exhaust his energies at such a distance from the Court; and
thus to enable his enemies to gain the unoccupied ear of the King, who
was, as he had already experienced, easily swayed by those about him.
During his absence from the capital his emissaries had been careful to
report to him every movement of the Queen-mother and the Duc d'Orléans;
and he felt that he was lost should they again succeed in acquiring the
confidence of the weak and wavering Louis. Within a fortnight after the
departure of the monarch, he consequently made his own hasty
preparations for a similar retreat; and having placed six thousand
infantry and five hundred horse under the command of the Maréchal de
Créquy, with orders that he should vigilantly guard the several passes
and rigidly enforce the orders of the King, he set forth in his turn
for Paris, in order to counteract the designs of the rival faction.

Meanwhile Marie de Medicis and Gaston d'Orléans had been consistent in
their policy; and on the arrival of Louis in Paris he was assured that
time had only tended to embitter their misunderstanding on the subject
of the Princesse de Gonzaga; a fact which was no sooner ascertained by
Richelieu than he resolved to profit by so promising an opportunity of
regaining the good graces of the royal Duke. This was precisely the
result which both the mother and son had desired; for while the former
sought to secure a pretext for complaint against the ingratitude and
treachery of the individual whose fortunes had been her own work, and
who now evinced a disposition to build up his prosperity upon the
disobedience of her best-beloved child, the latter had many and forcible
reasons for being equally delighted to see the ordinarily-astute
Cardinal taken in his own toils, and readily consented to second the
irritated Queen-mother in her attempt to effect his overthrow. During
the first few days which succeeded the arrival of the King in Paris,
every circumstance tended to increase the hopes of Marie de Medicis.
Louis made no secret of his satisfaction at the firmness which she had
evinced, and displayed towards her a confidence and respect by which she
was assured that his prejudices were shaken;[117] but the sudden
apparition of the Cardinal reawakened all her anxiety.

His advent was no sooner announced than a swarm of velvet-clad and
bejewelled nobles hastened to Nemours to bid him welcome; and thence
they served as his escort to Fontainebleau, where the Court was then
sojourning, and whither he travelled in a covered litter, followed by
the Maréchaux de Bassompierre, de Schomberg, and de Marillac. On
reaching the palace Richelieu at once proceeded to the apartments of the
Queen-mother, accompanied by the Cardinals de La Valette and de Bérulle,
and the other nobles who had joined him on the road; where he found
himself in the presence not only of Marie de Medicis, but also in that
of the young Queen, the Princesses, and all the great ladies of the
Court, by the whole of whom he was very coldly received; and the blood
mounted to his brow as Marie de Medicis replied to his lowly salutation
by a slight curtsey, and a formal inquiry after his health.

"I am well, Madame," he answered petulantly; "better than many of those
whom I see in your company may have desired."

The Tuscan Princess turned haughtily away; but as her eyes fell upon the
Cardinal de Bérulle, her confessor, her features relaxed into a smile,
which was not unobserved by the irritated minister.

"Ah, Madame," he said, striving to rally alike his temper and his hopes,
and addressing his royal mistress with the familiarity of old times,
"would that I were possessed of the same amount of favour as M.
de Bérulle."

"Oh, Monseigneur," replied the Queen drily, "I was laughing at the
extraordinary breeches of the reverend Cardinal."

This retort turned the gaze of the whole circle upon her confessor, who,
on taking the road, had discarded his flowing purple robes, and attired
himself in a short vest, a pair of _haut-de-chausses_, and white boots;
and the smile immediately became general.[118]

Richelieu bit his lips with an impatient gesture; and then, in order to
divert the attention of the courtiers from the discomfited Jesuit, he
hastened to present to their Majesties the three marshals who were in
his suite. Marie de Medicis bowed to each in succession, but addressed
herself only to M. de Marillac; and the scene was becoming each instant
more embarrassing when the usher on duty threw back the tapestried
hangings of the door, and announced "The King."

The face of Louis beamed with delight as he extended his hand to the
minister, and welcomed him once more to the capital; but the brow of
Richelieu remained clouded until he was led away by the monarch, with
whom he continued in conversation for a considerable time, complaining
bitterly of the reception which he had met with from the Queen-mother,
and requesting permission to retire from office and to leave the Court.
To this proposition Louis, however, refused to accede, declaring that
whatever might be the cause of the Queen's displeasure, he would soon
find some means of effecting their reconciliation.

As, however, after the lapse of several days, Marie de Medicis evinced
no disposition to display greater cordiality towards her late favourite,
Richelieu deemed it expedient to adopt more stringent measures; and he
accordingly sent for his niece Madame de Comballet, who was lady of
honour to the young Queen, M. de la Meilleraye his kinsman, who was also
a member of her household, and several other persons who were devoted to
his interests, and who held places about the Court, and desired them to
tender their resignations, as he was about to withdraw from office.
Intelligence of this order soon reached the ears of the King, by whom it
was violently opposed; and at his earnest entreaty the Queen-mother was
at length induced to pardon the Cardinal, who with the utmost humility
professed his utter unconsciousness of all offence, and his deep regret
at the displeasure exhibited by her Majesty. But neither Richelieu nor
Marie was the dupe of this hollow peace, although both were willing for
the moment to pacify the monarch, who was also anxious for the return of
his brother; Gaston having, on the first intimation of the expected
arrival of Louis in the capital, withdrawn to Lorraine,[119] and placed
himself under the protection of the ducal sovereign, who received his
royal guest with the greatest magnificence.

Worthless as he was individually, Gaston was destined throughout his
whole career to serve as a rallying-point for the ambition of all the
princes and nobles who sought to aggrandize themselves and their
families; while, as presumptive heir to the French throne, he was
welcomed by the Duc de Lorraine with every demonstration of respect and
regard. Aware of the puerile vanity of the princely fugitive, the Duke
stood bareheaded in his presence, and never presumed to seat himself
until he had received an invitation to do so. Moreover, he had been
instructed by the Spanish Cabinet to exert all his best energies to win
over the Prince to his interests;[120] a suggestion upon which he acted
so skilfully that the little Court of Lorraine became a perpetual scene
of festivity and amusement, of which the frivolous and fickle Gaston was
at once the object and the centre. Nor was there wanting in the ducal
circle an attraction even greater than the splendid _fêtes_ and
brilliant assemblies at which Monsieur fluttered and feasted in all the
triumph of his weak and selfish nature. The Princesse Marguerite, the
younger sister of M. de Lorraine, soon weaned the changeful fancy of
Gaston from the persecuted Marie de Gonzaga; nor had he long resided at
Nancy before his marked attentions to the beautiful and accomplished
Princess became the subject of general comment.[121]

This state of things seriously alarmed the Cardinal, who, in addition to
his hatred of the Guises, apprehended the worst consequences should the
Prince be permitted thus to emancipate himself from the royal authority,
and to play the quasi-sovereign with impunity; and, accordingly, only a
few weeks after the establishment of Gaston in Lorraine, he sent the
Cardinal de Bérulle and the Duc de Bellegarde to Nancy to negotiate his
return. Aware of his advantage, however, the Prince showed no
inclination to yield to the solicitations of the minister; and demanded
in the event of his compliance a provincial government in appanage.
Rendered more and more anxious by this pertinacity, Richelieu, even
while refusing to concede the required boon, heaped offer upon offer
without effect, until the Maréchal de Marillac, more successful than the
two previous envoys, induced Gaston to accept as a substitute for the
government which he demanded the fortresses of Orleans and Amboise, with
a hundred thousand livres a year, and fifty thousand crowns in ready
money. An agreement to this effect was drawn up; after which Monsieur
pledged himself to return to Court, and to submit in all things to the
pleasure of the King and the Queen-mother; an idle promise, where his
hostility to the minister constantly urged him to opposition; but which
served to tranquillize the mind of Louis, who, being about once more to
renew the war in Italy, was desirous of securing peace within his
own capital.

Immediately after the departure of the Cardinal from Susa, the armies of
Austria and Spain had advanced to the centre of Italy, and the power of
France beyond the Alps was consequently threatened with annihilation. In
this extremity Richelieu instantly directed the concentration of all the
frontier forces upon Piedmont, and declared war against the Duke of
Savoy; but as the whole responsibility of this campaign would
necessarily devolve upon himself, he demanded of the King that an
unlimited authority should be granted to him, in the event of his
Majesty declining to head the army in person. With this demand Louis
unhesitatingly complied; and on the 29th of December the Cardinal left
Paris as lieutenant-general of the royal forces, escorted by ten
companies of the King's bodyguard, and surrounded by upwards of a
hundred nobles.[122]

Previously to his departure, however, he entertained the King, the two
Queens, and the principal nobility at one of those elaborate _fêtes_
which have now become merely legendary; and which combined a comedy, a
concert, and a ballet, with other incidental amusements, sufficient, as
it would appear in these days, to have afforded occupation for a week
even to the most dissipated pleasure-seekers; but which during the reign
of Louis XIII excited emulation rather than surprise.

Richelieu had scarcely commenced his march, when the King resolved in
his turn to proceed to Italy with a force of forty thousand men; a
determination which was no sooner made known to the Queen-mother than
she expressed her intention of bearing him company in this new
expedition; as, superadded to her anxiety to counterbalance by her
presence the influence of the Cardinal, she was moreover desirous of
preventing a rupture with Spain, and of protecting the Duke of Savoy,
whom she secretly favoured.[123]

The never-ceasing intrigues of the Court had once more sowed dissension
between the two Queens; and it is here necessary to state that on the
death of the Comtesse de Lannoy, which had occurred towards the close of
the preceding year, her post of lady of honour to Anne of Austria had
been conferred upon the Marquise de Seneçay,[124] while that previously
held by Madame de Seneçay was bestowed upon Madame du Fargis. As these
arrangements had been made without any reference to the wishes of the
Queen herself, she expressed great indignation at an interference with
the internal economy of her household which was generally attributed to
Marie de Medicis; but her anger reached its climax when she ascertained
that the Comtesse du Fargis was the fast friend of Madame de
Comballet,[125] the niece of Richelieu. Apprehensive of the consequences
likely to accrue to herself from such an intimacy, Anne of Austria for
some time refused to admit the new Mistress of the Robes into her
private circle, alleging that her apartments were not sufficiently
spacious to accommodate the relatives and spies of a minister who had
already succeeded in embittering her existence. All opposition on her
part was, however, disregarded; the ladies were officially installed;
and although the Queen made no secret of her annoyance, and loudly
inveighed against both Richelieu and her royal mother-in-law for the
indignity to which she was thus subjected, they retained their places,
and endeavoured, by every demonstration of respect and devotion, to gain
the good graces of their irritated mistress. In this endeavour one of
them only was destined to succeed, and that one, contrary to all
expectation, was the beautiful and witty Comtesse du Fargis, whose
fascinations soon won the heart of the young Queen, and who was
fortunate enough to secure alike her confidence and her esteem; nor was
it long ere she profited by her advantage to attempt a reconciliation
between Marie de Medicis and her offended daughter-in-law; urged
thereto, as some historians assert, by the advice of the Cardinal de
Bérulle, but more probably by her own affection for the Queen-mother, in
whose household she had formerly held the same office which she now
filled in that of Anne of Austria.

Her project, however, presented considerable difficulty. The King had
suddenly become more assiduous than he had ever yet shown himself in his
attendance upon the Court of Marie de Medicis, constantly joining her
evening circle, and absenting himself entirely from the apartments of
his royal consort; a circumstance which Anne did not fail to attribute
to the evil offices of the Tuscan Princess, who, as she asserted, was
perpetually labouring to undermine her dignity, and to usurp her
position, Soon, however, it became rumoured that it was to no effort on
her own part that the Queen-mother was indebted for the constant society
of the monarch, but rather to the attractions of one of her maids of
honour; and that for the first time in his life Louis XIII evinced
symptoms of a passion to which he had hitherto been supposed
invulnerable. Mademoiselle de Hautefort, the object of this apparent
preference, was remarkable rather for intellect than beauty; her
conversational powers were considerable, her mind well cultivated, and
her judgment sound. She was, moreover, totally without ambition,
virtuous from principle, and an enemy to all intrigue.

On first being made acquainted with the presumed infidelity of her royal
consort, Anne of Austria exhibited the most unmeasured anger, and was
unsparing in her menaces of vengeance; but it was not long ere Madame du
Fargis succeeded in convincing her that she had nothing to fear from
such a rival, and that she would act prudently in affecting not to
perceive the momentary fancy of the King for the modest and unassuming
maid of honour.

"You have only to consult your mirror, Madame," she said with an accent
of conviction which at once produced its effect upon the wounded vanity
of the Queen, "to feel that you are beyond an apprehension of this
nature. Believe me when I assert that, were his Majesty capable of such
a passion as that which is now attributed to him, he could not remain
insensible to your own attractions. Mademoiselle de Hautefort is
amiable, and amuses the indolence of the King; but did he seek more than
mere amusement, it is in yourself alone that he could find the qualities
calculated to awaken the feeling which you deprecate."

Anne of Austria listened with complacency to a species of consolation
which she could not but acknowledge to be based on probability, as she
was conscious that even in the midst of the most brilliant Court in
Europe her own beauty was remarkable; and although she still indulged in
a sentiment of irritation against the Queen-mother, through whose agency
the King had formed so dangerous an intimacy,[126] she nevertheless
consented to conceal her discontent, and to maintain at least a
semblance of cordiality with her illustrious relative; a policy which
the approaching departure of the monarch rendered imperative.

The influence of Marie de Medicis over the mind of the King had, as we
have shown, seriously diminished after the return of Richelieu to the
capital; while the necessity of pursuing the campaign in Italy had
rendered the services of his able minister more than ever essential to
Louis, who was aware of his personal inefficiency to overcome the perils
by which he was menaced on all sides; and who had so long ceased to sway
the sceptre of his own kingdom, that he was compelled to acknowledge to
himself that the master-spirit which had evoked the tempest was alone
able to avert its effects. This conviction sufficed to render him deaf
to all remonstrances, and at length induced him sullenly to command
their discontinuance. He declared that every one about him felt a
delight in calumniating the Cardinal, and on all occasions he
ostentatiously displayed towards the triumphant minister the utmost
confidence and affection.

As the Queen-mother became convinced that all her efforts to undermine
the influence of Richelieu must for the present prove abortive, she
ceased to expostulate, and turned her whole attention towards the
reconciliation of the royal brothers. Aware that the Dukes of Lorraine
and Savoy were seeking by every means in their power to increase the
discontent of Gaston,[127] and that Charles Emmanuel had offered him a
safe retreat in Turin, and an army to support him should he desire to
overthrow the power of the Cardinal by whom he had been reduced to the
position of a mere subject without authority or influence,[128] she
wrote in earnest terms to caution him against such insidious advice; and
urged upon the King the expediency of recalling him to Paris, and
investing him with the command both of the city itself and of the
surrounding provinces during his own absence from the kingdom.

In reply to the entreaties of his mother, Gaston declared his
willingness to become reconciled to the King, and to serve him to the
best of his ability; but he at the same time requested that she would
not exact from him any similar condescension as regarded Richelieu,
whom he looked upon as his most dangerous enemy, and on whom he was
resolved one day to revenge himself. Against this determination Marie de
Medicis felt no disposition to offer any expostulations, as it accorded
with her own feelings; and she consequently merely represented to the
Prince the necessity of concealing his sentiments from the King (whom
she had induced to comply with her request), and to make immediate
preparations for his return to France.[129]


FOOTNOTES:

[111] Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. vi. pp. 511-558.

[112] Bassompierre, _Mém_. vol. iii. p. 186.

[113] Gaston d'Orléans, _Mém_. pp. 86, 87. Mézeray, vol. xi. p. 367.

[114] Le Vassor, vol. vi. pp. 21-23.

[115] Capefigue, vol. iv. pp. 278, 279.

[116] Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 368, 369.

[117] Le Vassor, vol. vi. pp. 111-114.

[118] Capefigue, vol. iv. pp. 280-282.

[119] Bassompierre, _Mém_. vol. iii. pp. 235, 236.

[120] Capefigue, vol. iv. pp. 287, 288.

[121] Gaston d'Orléans, _Mém_. pp. 88, 89. Mesdames de Lorraine were
related to Charles I., through Mary Queen of Scots, his grandmother, who
was the daughter of a Princess of that House.

[122] Capefigue, vol. iv. pp. 288-298. Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 370, 371.

[123] Le Vassor, vol. vi. pp. 252, 253.

[124] Marie Catherine de la Rochefoucauld, the widow of Henri de
Beaufremont, Marquis de Seneçay. She died in 1677, at the age of
eighty-nine years.

[125] Marie Madeline de Vignerot, Dame de Comballet, afterwards Duchesse
d'Aiguillon.

[126] Brienne, _Mém_. vol. ii. pp. 2-4.

[127] _Mercure Français_, 1629.

[128] Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. vi. pp. 789, 790.

[129] Le Vassor, vol. vi. pp. 254, 255.



CHAPTER VII

1630

Gaston returns to France--Precarious position of the Frencharmies--Death
of the Duke of Savoy--The French besiege Pignerol--Richelieu urges
the King to possess himself of the Duchy of Savoy--Marie de Medicis opposes
the measure--Louis XIII overruns Savoy--The French lose Mantua--Jules
Mazarin--The King is attacked by fever at Lyons--Moral effects
of his indisposition--He consents to dismiss the Cardinal from
office--Reconciliation of the royal family--The Court return
to the capital--Richelieu endeavours to regain the favour of
the Queen-mother--Policy of Marie--Richelieu seeks to effect
the disgrace of Marillac--The two Queens unite their interests--Meeting
of the royal brothers--Gaston inveighs bitterly against the Cardinal--The
Queen-mother takes up her abode at the Luxembourg--Louis proceeds
in state to bid her welcome--Monsieur publicly affronts Richelieu--A
treaty is concluded with Italy--Public rejoicings in Paris--Marie
dismisses the Cardinal and his relations from her household--A
drama at Court--Richelieu prepares to leave Paris; but is dissuaded,
and follows the King to Versailles--Exultation of the citizens
at the anticipated overthrow of the Cardinal-minister--The
courtiers crowd the Luxembourg--Bassompierre at fault--Triumph
of Richelieu--Hypocrisy of the Cardinal--"The Day of Dupes"--A
regal minister--The Marillacs are disgraced--Anne of Austria is
suspected of maintaining a secret correspondence with Spain--Gaston
conspires with the two Queens against Richelieu--Divided state of
the French Court--A _fête_ at the Louvre.


At the close of January 1630 the Duc d'Orléans, in compliance with his
promise, took leave of the Court of Lorraine; and early in February he
crossed the French frontier, and had an interview with the King, who had
already reached Troyes, accompanied by the two Queens and their several
households. At this meeting the royal brothers displayed towards each
other an amount of confidence which gladdened the heart of the
Queen-mother, to whom their long estrangement had been a subject of
perpetual grief and anxiety; nor was their good understanding lessened
for an instant until their separation upon the departure of Louis for
Lyons, when Monsieur in his turn proceeded to Orleans, where he remained
until the middle of March; and thence he finally returned to Paris
towards the close of April, to assume his command.[130]

As the Cardinal had foreseen, there was little time to be lost in
retrieving the fortunes of the French armies. Casal in Montferrat, which
was held by M. de Thoiras,[131] was besieged by the Marquis de
Spinola,[132] with an immense force, and he earnestly demanded the sum
of fifty thousand crowns for defraying the arrears due to his troops,
who had begun to murmur, and threatened to surrender. The Germans had
once more attacked Mantua, which they ultimately took; and the armies of
MM. de la Force and de Schomberg were suffering from sickness, famine,
and desertions, and, moreover, harassed by the troops of the Duke of
Savoy. Charles Emmanuel meanwhile was advancing in person upon Savillan,
in order to provoke an engagement with the French forces; and on every
side difficulty and danger loomed over the banners of Louis, when the
Duke of Savoy was suddenly attacked by apoplexy and expired towards the
close of January. He was succeeded by Victor Amédée his elder son, who
was the husband of Madame Christine de France, the sister of the French
King; and it was anticipated that the closeness of this alliance would
at once terminate all aggressive measures on the part of France, and
that the new Duke would be suffered to take peaceful possession of his
inheritance. Such, however, was not the policy of the Cardinal, and
accordingly the operations already directed against the Duchy were
suffered to proceed.

Shortly after the arrival of the King at Lyons he received a despatch
from the minister stating that he had taken Pignerol, and thus secured a
safe passage for his Majesty into Italy; and that he was about to join
him at Lyons, in order to receive his further commands.

On his arrival he was warmly welcomed by Louis, whom he easily induced
to accompany him on his return to the seat of war; for although in his
despatches Richelieu had affected to attach an immense importance to the
conquest of Pignerol, he was aware that the honour of the French nation
must be compromised should her armies be thus checked at the very
commencement of the expedition, and he consequently urged the King at
once to possess himself of the Duchy of Savoy; an undertaking which
presented so little difficulty that its success was certain. In vain did
Marie de Medicis represent the injury which Louis must, by such an
enterprise, inflict upon his sister; the project flattered the vanity of
the King, and accordingly on the 14th of May the vanguard of the French
army entered the Duchy, and before the middle of the ensuing month the
whole of Savoy, with the exception of Montmelian, was in the possession
of his troops. This puny triumph was, however, counterbalanced and
outweighed by the disasters at Casal and Mantua, the former of which,
from the failure of provisions and reinforcements, fell into the hands
of Spinola; while the latter, after having had twenty-five thousand of
its inhabitants carried off by the plague, was ultimately lost through
treason, and delivered over to pillage by the Imperialist generals.

From Savoy the Cardinal endeavoured to induce Louis to advance into the
district of Maurienne, but from this project he was strongly dissuaded
by the Queen-mother, who had, during the campaign in Savoy, remained at
Lyons with Anne of Austria, Marillac the Keeper of the Seals, and other
discontented nobles who were opposed to the war in Italy, and were
anxious for peace at any price. Negotiations to that effect were,
moreover, pending; and Urban VIII had offered himself as arbitrator
through the medium of Jules Mazarin,[133] a young man of twenty-eight
years of age, whom he had appointed internuncio for that purpose. The
talent and energy displayed by the Papal envoy in a position of so much
difficulty enchanted Richelieu, who at once recognized in the juvenile
diplomatist a congenial spirit, and he determined to attach him to the
interests of France. But even while he did full justice to the
precocious ability of Mazarin, the minister nevertheless bitterly
complained that the violent measures adopted by the Queen-mother and her
party rendered the prospect of a peace impossible; and that they
attached too great an importance to the pending negotiations, and
overacted their uneasiness on the subject of the King's health, and
their terrors of the plague.[134] These arguments sufficed to reassure
Louis XIII, who, delighted at his success in Savoy, and intoxicated by
the plaudits of his courtiers, was eager to pursue a war from which he
hoped to acquire fresh reputation; and accordingly, disregarding the
expostulations of the peace party, he advanced to St. Jean-de-Maurienne;
and the aggressive measures so earnestly deprecated by Marie de Medicis
were continued.

[Illustration: MAZARIN.]

The King had, however, scarcely joined the camp when he was attacked by
fever; and his condition soon became so dangerous that it was deemed
expedient to remove him in a litter to Lyons, while his armies were
still engaged in the sieges of Pignerol and Casal. For several days he
continued hovering between life and death; and his strength was at
length so utterly exhausted that his physicians believed him to be
beyond all further hope.  Monarchs are mere mortals on a bed of
sickness; and Louis XIII was far from being an exception to the rule.
Stubborn and wilful when in health, he no sooner became the prey of
disease, and pondered over the prophecies of the astrologers who had
foretold his early demise, than he suffered himself to be governed
without resistance by those about him; the ties of kindred, and the
claims of family affection, resumed their rights; duties long neglected
were admitted and recognized; he bewailed the past, and despaired of the
future. It was therefore not possible that such an opportunity should be
neglected by Marie de Medicis, who, even while watching over his
sick-bed with an assiduity and care which were emulated by her royal
daughter-in-law, eagerly availed herself of her advantage to shake the
power of Richelieu. In this attempt she was zealously seconded by Anne
of Austria; and the combined tears and entreaties of the two Queens at
length so far prevailed over the inclinations of Louis as to wring from
him a promise that, should he survive, he would dismiss his minister so
soon as he should have once more reached the capital.

"I cannot, Madame," he replied to the earnest solicitation of Marie de
Medicis that he would act upon the instant, "comply with your request at
an earlier period than that which I have named. The Cardinal is now
fully occupied with the affairs of Italy, and his services are essential
to their success. Let us not be precipitate. Suffer him to conclude the
pending negotiations; and I pledge myself, on my return to Paris, both
to exclude him from the Council and to dismiss him from the government
of the state."

With this assurance the Queen-mother was compelled to appear satisfied,
although she panted for more immediate vengeance; and so grateful did
the King express himself for the unceasing tenderness and vigilance of
the two Queens, that he listened without remonstrance to their
complaints. As, contrary to the anticipations of the faculty, he rallied
from the attack, he became even more indulgent; an extent of confidence
and affection hitherto unknown reigned in the royal circle; and
when he heard Marie and her daughter-in-law attribute all their
humiliations and sufferings to the Cardinal alone, while they
entirely exonerated himself, he did not scruple to deplore the
misstatements of others by which he had been induced to disregard
their previous expostulations.[135]

The convalescence of Louis was no sooner assured than he resolved to
return to Paris, believing that his native air would hasten his complete
recovery; and accordingly, after having entreated Marie de Medicis to
dissemble her displeasure against Richelieu until he should be prepared
to dismiss him from office, the Court commenced its homeward journey.
The Cardinal meanwhile, although necessarily ignorant of the pledge
given by the King, had learnt enough to convince him that the faction of
the Queen-mother had been actively seeking to undermine his influence
during the sojourn of the monarch at Lyons, and he consequently resolved
to accompany the royal party to the capital; his weak health forming a
sufficient pretext for this determination. Having made his final
arrangements, he accordingly proceeded to Roanne in order to join the
Queen-mother, and to endeavour during the journey to reinstate himself
in her favour.

In compliance with the request of the King, Marie de Medicis met the
astute minister with a dissimulation equal to his own; and even affected
to feel flattered when he demanded her permission for his litter to
travel immediately behind her own. It was not, however, until the royal
barge had received its august freight, and begun to descend the Loire,
that the Cardinal had an opportunity of fully enacting the courtly
character which he had assigned to himself in this serious emergency. As
the Queen-mother lay upon her couch the minister stood obsequiously
beside her, beneath the crimson canopy by which she was overshadowed,
occasionally dropping upon his knee in an attitude of profound and
affectionate respect; a voluntary homage to which Marie replied by
conversing with him in the most endearing terms; addressing him more
than once as _mio caro! amico del cuore mio!_ and other soft and
flattering appellations.

To Richelieu it seemed for the time as though the past had come back
upon him, but he deceived himself; the Florentine Princess had but drawn
a glove over a hand of iron, a fact which he ascertained before the
termination of the journey, as well as the whole extent of the intrigue
at Lyons; but this knowledge did not for a moment affect his deportment
towards the Queen-mother, for whom he continued to evince the deepest
veneration, while he carefully noted the bearing of those by whom she
was surrounded, in order that he might one day be enabled to wreak his
vengeance upon such as had participated in the cabal.

The most zealous partisans of Marie de Medicis were at this period the
two Marillacs and the Ducs de Guise and de Bellegarde; while her
confidential friends of her own sex were the Duchesse d'Elboeuf and the
Princesse de Conti. Of these the most obnoxious to Richelieu was the
elder Marillac, the Keeper of the Seals. This minister was indebted to
the Cardinal for the office which he held; and even while Richelieu was
plotting the ruin of his own benefactress, he could not brook that a man
whom he had himself raised to power should dare to oppose his will, or
to succeed him in the good graces of the Queen-mother. He had, moreover,
ascertained that Marillac, who had, in the first instance, attached
himself to Marie de Medicis at the suggestion of his brother the
Maréchal, had rendered her such good service that she had pledged
herself to make him Prime Minister on his own dismissal. Nor was this
the only cause of anxiety to which Richelieu was at this moment exposed;
as during the indisposition of the King a strong affection had grown up
between the two Queens, while the Duc d'Orléans no longer made any
effort to conceal his animosity; and thus the Cardinal found himself
placed in opposition to the whole of the royal family with the
exception of the sovereign.

Gaston d'Orléans was no sooner apprised of the approach of Louis to the
capital than he hastened to Montargis to receive him, and the meeting
was one of great cordiality on both sides; but the King had scarcely
urged upon his brother the expediency of a reconciliation with the
Cardinal, ere the Prince violently complained of the indignities to
which he had been subjected by Richelieu, and insisted that he had just
reason to hate him. Alarmed by the unmeasured vehemence of Gaston, the
King entreated him to be more calm, and to accede to his request; but
Monsieur, after bowing profoundly, remained silent; and shortly
afterwards withdrew.

On her arrival in Paris, Marie de Medicis at once proceeded to the
palace of the Luxembourg, which she had recently built, and embellished
with those treasures of art which had rendered it one of the most regal
residences in the kingdom. During the first three days of her sojourn
there, the gates were closed, and no visitors were admitted; but on the
fourth, the King, who had taken up his abode at Versailles, arrived,
accompanied by the Cardinal, and followed by all the great nobles, to
welcome her back to Paris. Louis had no sooner saluted his mother than
he remarked the absence of the Duc d'Orléans, and on expressing his
surprise that the Prince had not hastened to meet him, he was informed
that his Highness was indisposed. As he was about to despatch one of
his retinue with a message of condolence, Gaston was suddenly announced;
who, after having paid his respects to their Majesties, stepped back to
receive the compliments of the courtiers. At this moment he was accosted
by the Cardinal, but before the latter had time to utter a syllable,
Monsieur abruptly turned his back upon him, and entered into
conversation with the nobles who stood near. Enraged by this public
affront, Richelieu immediately approached the Queen-mother, and bitterly
complained of the insult to which he had been subjected; but Marie, in
her turn, answered coldly: "Monsieur has merely treated you as you
deserve." A retort which only served to embitter the indignation of the
minister, who at once perceived that, in order to save himself from
ruin, he must forthwith possess himself of the ear of the King, and
strike a decisive blow.

The moment was a favourable one, as intelligence shortly afterwards
reached the Court that a treaty of peace with Italy on the most
advantageous terms for France had been concluded, and all was
consequently joy and gratulation throughout the capital. Showers of
rockets ascended from the palaces of the Louvre, the Luxembourg, and St.
Germain, which to the faction of Richelieu celebrated the triumph of his
exploits beyond the Alps, while to that of the Queen-mother they
indicated the downfall of the Cardinal, which it was anticipated would
succeed the cessation of hostilities. So convinced indeed was Marie de
Medicis that her time of trial was at length over that she disdained to
conceal her exultation; and as the first-fruits of her presumed victory
she determined to dismiss from her service alike Richelieu himself, who
had been appointed superintendent of her household, and every member of
his family who was about her person.

In pursuance of this resolution she hastened to inform the Cardinal that
she declined his further offices; and before he could recover from the
surprise occasioned by so abrupt an announcement, she turned towards the
Marquis de la Meilleraye, the captain of her bodyguard, adding in the
same cold and haughty tone in which she had just addressed his kinsman:
"Nor will I longer retain you here, sir; you must also retire." Finally,
as Madame de Comballet entered the apartment, unconscious of the scene
which was then being enacted, she applied to her the most humiliating
epithets, and commanded her immediately to quit the palace. In vain did
the niece of Richelieu throw herself upon her knees, weeping bitterly,
and entreating the pardon of her royal mistress, without even inquiring
into the nature of her offence; Marie de Medicis remained inflexible,
and sternly ordered her to withdraw. The command was obeyed; and as she
left the apartment Madame de Comballet was followed by the Cardinal,
who, bewildered by this sudden and astonishing change of attitude, did
not even attempt to expostulate.  After this first exhibition of her
recovered power the Queen-mother stepped into her private closet, where
she was shortly joined by the King; and he had no sooner entered than
she desired the usher on duty to leave the room, and to refuse ingress
to all comers, be they whom they might; after which, with her own hand,
she drew the heavy bolts across the doors that he had closed behind him,
and returned to the King, whose gesture of surprise and annoyance she
affected not to remark. She had passed the Rubicon, and she felt that
she had no time to lose if she did not desire to become herself the
victim of the struggle in which she was engaged; and thus having
announced to her son the dismissal of Richelieu and his relatives from
her personal service, she continued the conversation by reminding him of
the pledge which he had given at Lyons, and urging the immediate removal
of the obnoxious minister from office. Louis, weak and wavering as was
his wont, endeavoured to temporize, declaring that the crisis was one of
too much difficulty to admit of so extreme a measure at that moment, and
entreating her to sanction his delaying for a few weeks the fulfilment
of his promise; but Marie was aware that she stood upon the brink of a
precipice, and she became only the more importunate in her demands, and
the more bitter in her sarcasms.

"Are you indeed the sovereign of France, and the son of Henry the
Great?" she asked passionately; "and do you quail before a subject, and
place your sceptre in other hands, when you were born to wield it in
the eyes of Europe?"

"I cannot dispense with the services of the Cardinal," was the sullen
reply; "and you would do well, Madame, to become reconciled to a man who
is essential to the welfare of the kingdom."

"_Per Dio_! never!" exclaimed the Queen resolutely, while tears of rage
burst from her eyes, and the blood mounted to her brow. "France, and the
widow of her former monarch, can alike dispense with the good services
of Armand de Richelieu, the false friend, the treacherous servant, and
the ambitious statesman. It is time that both were delivered from his
thrall. Do not fear, Sir, that our noble nation can produce no other
minister as able as, and at the same time more trustworthy than, the man
who, when he bends his knee before you, is in heart clutching at
your crown."

"What mean you, Madame?" asked the suspicious King, starting from his
seat.

"Ask your good citizens, Sire, by whom they are governed," was the
impetuous answer of the excited Queen; "ask your nobles and barons by
whom they are oppressed and thwarted, when they would feign recognize
their sovereign alone as their ruler; ask your brave armies who has
reaped the glory for which you have imperilled your health, and gone
near to sacrifice your life. Do you shrink from the exertion necessary
to the measure that I propose?" she continued as she remarked the
effect of her words upon the King, whose wounded vanity revolted against
the idea of being considered what he really was, a puppet in the hands
of his minister. "Dismiss the apprehension. Trusting to your royal
word--and the word of an anointed monarch, Sire, is as sacred as the
oath of the first subject in his realm--I have been careful to spare you
all unnecessary fatigue. Here," and as she spoke she drew a parchment
from her bosom--"here your Majesty will find, duly drawn up, an order
for the instant retirement of the Cardinal, which requires only your
royal signature to become valid; M. de Marillac is prepared, with your
sanction, to replace him, and to serve you with equal zeal, and far more
loyalty than he has done. Subscribe your name at the bottom of this
document; and then ride forth into the streets of your good city of
Paris, and as the news spreads among your people, see if one single
voice will be raised for the recall of _Maître Gonin_." [136]

As Marie de Medicis uttered these words a slight noise caused her to
glance from the King towards the direction whence it proceeded; and
there, standing in the opening of a door which communicated with her
oratory, she saw before her the Cardinal de Richelieu.

Aware that the monarch was closeted with his mother, and apprehending
the worst consequences to himself should the interview be suffered to
proceed without interruption, the minister had instantly resolved to
terminate it by his own presence; and for this purpose, disregarding
the affront to which he had so lately been subjected by Marie de
Medicis, he hastened to her apartments; where, having found the door of
the antechamber fastened from within, he entered a gallery which
communicated with the royal closet, at the door of which he tapped to
obtain admittance. As no answer was elicited, his alarm increased; the
heavy drapery by which the door was veiled deadened the voices within;
and after waiting for a few instants to convince himself that no ingress
could be obtained save by stratagem, he proceeded along the corridor
until he reached the oratory, where he found one of the waiting-women of
the Queen, who, unable to withstand a heavy bribe, permitted him to
penetrate into the royal closet.

At the moment of his appearance Louis was seated in a huge chair of
crimson velvet with a scroll of parchment before him, and a pen already
in his hand; while Marie de Medicis stood beside him, the tears chasing
each other down her cheeks, and her whole frame trembling with
excitement.

"_Per Dio!_" was the first exclamation of the Queen, as she hurriedly
snatched the scroll from the table, and forming it into a roll, thrust
it into her girdle; "are you here, _Cardinale_?"

"I am here, Madame," replied Richelieu with perfect composure; "and I am
here because your Majesties were speaking of me."

"You are wrong, Monseigneur," murmured the King.

"Nay, Sire," persisted the minister, turning towards Marie de Medicis;
"your august mother will, I am convinced, own that such was the case."

"You are right, Sir," admitted the Tuscan Princess, no longer able or
anxious to restrain her resentment; "we were speaking of you, and you
had just cause to dread the results of such a conversation. We were
expatiating upon your treachery, your ingratitude, and your vices; and
the subject was a copious one."

"Ah, Madame!" expostulated Richelieu, as he fell upon his knees before
his irritated mistress. "What have I done to forfeit your favour? How
have I sacrificed your esteem?"

"_Miserabile! miserabile_!" cried the Queen-mother; "dare you ask _how_?
But it is idle to bandy words with such as you; _teme mia vendetta_!"

"At least, Madame, suffer M. le Ministre to justify himself," stammered
out Louis; "he may perhaps convince you that you have wronged him."

"Wronged him!" echoed Marie with a contemptuous gesture. "Even his ready
eloquence must prove powerless beside the experience of the past.
Henceforward there can be no trust or fellowship between the widow of
Henry the Great and her discarded servant."

"In that case, Sire," said the Cardinal, rising from his abject posture
at the feet of the Queen-mother, and throwing himself at those of the
King, "I can no longer offer my unworthy services to your Majesty, as it
is not for me to contend against the will of my royal mistress."

Terrified by this threat, which renewed his sense of utter helplessness,
Louis faintly endeavoured to intercede in behalf of the man upon whom he
had so long leant for support; but Marie impetuously interposed.

"You have heard my decision, Sir," she said haughtily; "and it is now
for you to choose between your mother and your valet." [137]

Finding that all interference on his part must prove ineffectual, the
King suddenly rose, remarking that it was late, and that as he had
resolved to return to Versailles he had no time to lose. Richelieu, who
had not yet recovered sufficient self-possession to entreat a
continuance of his intercession, remained motionless as he left the
room; while the indignation of the Queen-mother at so undignified a
retreat rendered her equally unable to expostulate; and meanwhile Louis,
delighted to escape from all participation in so dangerous a contention,
sprang into the carriage which was awaiting him, and beckoning his new
favourite M. de Saint-Simon to take his place beside him, set off at
full speed for the suburban palace where he had taken up his
temporary abode.

After the departure of the King, Richelieu made a fresh effort to
overcome the anger of Marie de Medicis; he still knelt humbly before
her, he supplicated, he even wept, for the Cardinal was never at a loss
for tears when they were likely to produce an effect upon his hearers;
but all was vain. The Queen-mother turned from him with a contemptuous
gesture; and gathering her heavy drapery about her, walked haughtily
from the room.

The eyes of the prostrate minister followed her as she withdrew with a
glance in which all the evil passions of his soul were revealed as if in
a mirror. He believed himself to be utterly lost; and when he reached
the Petit Luxembourg, where he had lodged since his arrival in the
capital, he gave orders that his carriages should be packed, and
immediately proceed to Pontoise, on their way to Havre de Grâce, where
he had hastily determined to seek an asylum.[138] In a few hours all was
in movement in the vicinity of his residence. A long train of mules
laden with what many asserted to be chests of treasure, first took the
road under the escort of a body of military, with strict orders not to
halt in any village lest they should be pillaged; and meanwhile the
Cardinal hurriedly terminated his more important arrangements and
prepared to follow.

In this occupation he was interrupted by his fast friend the Cardinal de
la Valette, by whom he was earnestly urged to forego his resolution, and
instead of flying from the capital, and thus ensuring the triumph of
his enemies, to hasten without loss of time to Versailles, in order to
plead his cause with the King. This advice, coupled as it was with the
judicious representations of his brother-prelate, once more awakened the
hopes of Richelieu, who stepped into a carriage which was in waiting,
and with renewed energy set off at all speed from Paris. This day had
been one of intense suffering for the Cardinal; who, in addition to the
personal humiliation to which he had been exposed, had ascertained
before his intrusion into the royal closet that Louis had, at the
entreaty of the Queen-mother, already signed a letter in which he
conferred upon the Maréchal de Marillac the command of his army and the
direction of public affairs in Italy; and that a courier had moreover
left Paris with the despatch. Nevertheless, yielding to the arguments of
MM. de la Valette and de Châteauneuf, Richelieu readily consoled himself
by recalling the timid and unstable character of Louis, and the
recollection of the eminent services which he had rendered to France.
Siri even asserts that before the Court left Lyons an understanding had
been come to between the King and his minister, and that the exile of
Marie was then and there decided.

Be this as it may, however, it is certain that all parties believed in
the utter overthrow of Richelieu; and while he was yet on his way to
Versailles, the ballad-singers of the Pont Neuf were publicly
distributing the songs and pamphlets which they had hitherto only vended
by stealth; and the dwarf of the Samaritaine was delighting the crowd by
his mimicry of _Maître Gonin_. At the corners of the different streets
groups of citizens were exchanging congratulations; and within the
palace all the courtiers were commenting upon the approaching triumph of
M. de Marillac, whose attachment to the interests of the Queen-mother
and the Duc d'Orléans had rendered him popular not only with the bulk of
the people, but also with the Parliament. Already were the presidents
and councillors of the law-courts discussing the charges to be brought
against the fallen minister in order to justify his dismissal; while the
foreign ambassadors were equally alert in writing to acquaint their
several courts with the overthrow of Richelieu and the supremacy of the
Queen-mother.

The _salons_ of Marie de Medicis were crowded. All the great nobles who
had hitherto haunted the antechambers of the Cardinal, and awaited his
pleasure as humbly as that of the sovereign himself, now swarmed in the
gilded galleries and stately halls of the Luxembourg; feathers waved and
jewels flashed on every side; the wand of an enchanter had passed over
the Court, and the metamorphosis was complete. In the centre of this
brilliant throng stood Marie de Medicis, radiant with joy, and holding
the young Queen by the hand; while Monsieur took up his station a few
paces from them, laughing and jesting with his favourites.

Heaven only knows what hopes and projects were formed that day--how many
air-built castles were erected which in a few brief hours were fated to
vanish into nothingness. Even Bassompierre, whose courtly tact had never
hitherto deserted him, was blinded like the rest; and he, who had
hitherto so assiduously paid his court to the Cardinal that he appeared
to have forgotten the time when he was devoted heart and soul to the
fortunes of the Queen-mother, suffered five days to elapse before he
found leisure to bend his steps towards the Petit Luxembourg; an
omission which he was subsequently destined to expiate in the dungeons
of the Bastille.

Louis, meanwhile, had reached Versailles with his equerry and favourite,
M. de Saint-Simon, to whom he bitterly inveighed against the violence of
his mother; declaring that he could not dispense with the services of
Richelieu, and that he should again have to contend against the same
humiliations and difficulties which he had endured throughout the
Regency. As the ill-humour of the King augmented, Saint-Simon privately
sent to inform the Cardinal de la Valette of the undisguised annoyance
of his Majesty, who was evidently prepared to revoke the dismissal of
Richelieu should he be urged to do so; and that prelate, acting upon the
suggestion, lost no time in presenting himself before the monarch.
"Cousin," said Louis with a smile, as M. de la Valette entered the
apartment, "you must be surprised at what has taken place."

"More so, Sire, than your Majesty can possibly imagine," was the reply.

"Well then," pursued the King, "return to the Cardinal de Richelieu, and
tell him from me to come here upon the instant. He will find me an
indulgent master."

M. de la Valette required no second bidding. Richelieu had concealed
himself in a cottage near the palace, awaiting a favourable moment to
retrieve his tottering fortunes, and he hastened to obey the welcome
summons. The results of this interview even exceeded the hopes of the
minister; and before he left the royal closet he was once more Prime
Minister of France, generalissimo of the armies beyond the Alps, and
carried in his hand an order signed by Louis for the transfer of the
seals from M. de Marillac to his own friend and adherent Châteauneuf;
together with a second for the recall of the Maréchal de Marillac, who
had only on the previous day been appointed to the command of the army
in Italy.[139]

One obstacle alone remained to the full and unlimited power of the
exulting minister, who had not failed to perceive that henceforward his
influence over the sovereign could never again be shaken; and that
obstacle was Marie de Medicis. Louis, even while he persecuted and
thwarted his mother, had never ceased to fear her; and the wily minister
resolved, in order the more surely to compass her ultimate disgrace, to
temporize until he should have succeeded in thoroughly compromising her
in the mind of the King; an attempt which her own impetuosity and want
of caution would, as he justly imagined, prove one of little difficulty
after the occurrences of the day.

Thus his first care on returning to his residence at Ruel was to address
a letter to the Queen-mother, couched in the following terms:

"Madame--I am aware that my enemies, or rather those of the state, not
satisfied with blaming me to your Majesty, are anxious to render you
suspicious of my presence at the Court, as though I only approached the
King for the purpose of separating him from yourself, and of dividing
those whom God has united. I trust, however, through the divine
goodness, that the world will soon learn their malice; that my
proceedings will be fully justified; and that innocence will triumph
over calumny. It is not, Madame, that I do not esteem myself unfortunate
and culpable since I have lost the favour of your Majesty; life will be
odious to me so long as I am deprived of the honour of your good graces,
and of that esteem which is more dear and precious to me than the
grandeurs of this earth. As I owe them all to your liberal hand, I bring
them and place them voluntarily at the feet of your Majesty. Pardon,
Madame, your work and your creature.  RICHELIEU." [140]

Such was the policy of the astute and heartless minister. Only a few
hours had elapsed since he had overthrown all the most cherished
projects of Marie de Medicis, sown dissension between herself and her
son, proved to her that her efforts to struggle against his superior
influence were worse than idle; and now he artfully sought to excite her
indignation at his duplicity, and to compel her to reprisals which would
draw down upon herself all the odium of their future estrangement. He
well knew that by such a measure as that which he adopted, he must
render her position untenable; for while on the one hand he overwhelmed
her with professions of deference and respect, on the other he wrenched
from her all hope of power, wounded her in her affections, and deprived
her of the confidence of her adherents.[141] Bassompierre attempted to
disguise his mortification at the mistake of which he had himself been
guilty by designating the 11th of November on which these extraordinary
events took place as the "Day of Dupes," while the Queen-mother--whose
great error had been that, instead of accompanying Louis to Versailles,
and thus preventing all private intercourse with the minister, she had
yielded to her vanity and remained to listen to the congratulations of
the courtiers--when she learned the ruin of all her hopes, passionately
exclaimed that she had only one regret, and that one was that she had
not drawn the bolt across the door leading to her oratory, in which case
Richelieu would have been lost without resource.

Aware of his unpopularity with both nobles and people, the Cardinal
considered it expedient to signalize his restoration to power by
conferring certain favours upon individuals towards whom he had hitherto
only manifested neglect and dislike. On the 19th of November he
accordingly conferred the dignity of Marshal of France upon the Duc de
Montmorency and the Comte de Thoiras; and on the 30th of the succeeding
month he restored the Duc de Vendôme to liberty, although upon
conditions degrading to a great noble and the son of Henri IV; while he
purchased the favourites of Monsieur by large sums of money, and still
more important promises. The latter concession at once restored the good
humour of Gaston d'Orléans, who forthwith proceeded to Versailles to pay
his respects to the King, by whom he was graciously received, after
which he paid a visit to the Cardinal; but Marie de Medicis and her
royal daughter-in-law remained inflexible, and Louis so deeply resented
their coldness towards his minister that even in public he scarcely
exchanged a word with either.[142] For this mortification they found,
however, full compensation in the perfect understanding which had grown
up between them, based on their mutual hatred of Richelieu; for while
the Queen-mother dwelt upon his ingratitude and treachery, Anne of
Austria was no less vehement in her complaints of his presumption in
having dared to aspire to the affection of the wife of his sovereign.

As day succeeded day the two royal ladies had increased subject for
discontent. The disgrace of the Marillacs had deeply wounded Marie de
Medicis, who at once perceived that the blow had been aimed at herself
rather than at the two brothers; and that the real motive of the
Cardinal had been to weaken her party: a conviction which she openly
expressed. Still she remained, to all appearance, mistress of her own
actions, and retained her seat in the Council; but it was far otherwise
with the young Queen, whose affection for her brother having been
construed by the minister into a treasonable correspondence with the
Spanish Cabinet, she was banished to her private apartments; while she
had the annoyance of seeing Mademoiselle de Hautefort exercise the most
unlimited influence over the mind of the King, and perpetually accompany
him on his excursions to St. Germain and Fontainebleau, not only as an
invited but also as an honoured guest. Meanwhile Gaston, who was aware
of the empire which he exercised over his mother, and who sought to
harass the Cardinal, was assiduous in his attentions to the two Queens;
a persistence which so alarmed Richelieu that he did not hesitate to
insinuate to his royal master that the Prince was more devoted to Anne
of Austria than was consistent with their relative positions; and thus
he succeeded in arousing within the breast of Louis a jealousy as
unseemly as it was unprovoked. The continued sterility of the Spanish
Princess and the utter estrangement of the august couple, while it
irritated and mortified the young Queen, served, however, to sustain the
hopes of Marie de Medicis, who looked upon her younger son as the
assured heir to the crown, and supported both him and Anne in their
animosity to Richelieu.

Two powerful factions consequently divided the French Court at the close
of the year 1630; Louis XIII, falsifying the pledge which he had given
to the Queen-mother and Monsieur, had abandoned his sceptre to the grasp
of an ambitious and unscrupulous minister, whose adherents, emulating
the example of their sovereign, made no attempt to limit his power, or
to contend against his will; while, with the sole exception of the King
himself, all the royal family were leagued against an usurpation as
monstrous as it was dishonouring. The sky of the courtly horizon was big
with clouds, and all awaited with anxiety the outburst of the
impending tempest.

At this ungenial period Louis XIII gave a splendid entertainment at the
Louvre, to which he personally bade the Cardinal, who eagerly availed
himself of so favourable an opportunity of mortifying the Queen-mother,
by dividing with his sovereign the homage and adulation of the great
nobles. Already had many of the guests arrived, and amid the flourish of
trumpets, the melody of the royal musicians, the glare of torches, and
the rustling of silks and cloth of gold, the great staircase and the
grand gallery were rapidly becoming crowded; while groups might be seen
scattered through the state apartments conversing in suppressed tones,
some anxiously expecting the entrance of the King, and others as
impatiently awaiting the arrival of the all-powerful minister. One of
these groups, and that perhaps the most inimical of all that brilliant
assemblage to the Cardinal, was composed of the two MM. de Marillac, the
Duc de Guise, and the Marquis de Bassompierre. As they conversed
earnestly with one another, the three first-named nobles remained grave
and stern, as though they had met together to discuss some subject of
vital and absorbing interest rather than to participate in the
festivities of a monarch, while even Bassompierre himself seemed ill at
ease, and strove in vain to assume his usual light and frivolous
demeanour.

"His Eminence moves tardily to night," he said in reply to a remark of
the Duke. "Can it be that we shall not have the honour of seeing him
exhibit his crimson robes on this magnificent occasion?"

"It would seem so," was the moody rejoinder, "for time wears, and the
King himself cannot delay his entrance much longer. Be wary, gentlemen,
for should Richelieu indeed arrive, he will be dangerous to-night. I
watched him narrowly at noon, and I remarked that he smiled more than
once when there was no visible cause for mirth, and you well known what
his smiles portend."

"Too well," said the Maréchal de Marillac; "death, or at best disgrace
to some new victim. Shame to our brave France that she should submit
even for a day to be thus priest-ridden!"

By an excess of caution the four nobles had gradually retreated to an
obscure recess, half concealed by some heavy drapery; and Bassompierre,
in an attitude of easy indifference, stood leaning against the
tapestried panels that divided the sumptuous apartment which they
occupied from an inner closet that had not been thrown open to the
guests. Unfortunately, however, the peculiar construction of this closet
was unknown even to the brilliant Gentleman of the Bedchamber, or he
would have been at once aware that they could not have chosen a more
dangerous position in which to discuss any forbidden topic. The trite
proverb that "walls have ears" was perhaps never more fully exemplified
than when applied to those of the Louvre at that period; many of them,
and those all connected with the more public apartments, being composed
of double panelling, between which a sufficient space had been left to
admit of the passage of an eavesdropper, and the closet in question
chanced to be one of these convenient lurking-places. A slight stir in
the courtly crowd had for a moment interrupted the conversation, but as
it almost immediately subsided, the subject by which the imprudent
courtiers were engrossed was resumed; and meanwhile the
Cardinal-Minister had arrived at the palace. He was not, however,
attended by his train of gentlemen and guards; his name had not been
announced by the royal ushers, nor had he yet joined the gorgeous
company who were all prepared to do him honour. Since his interview with
the King at Versailles he had apprehended treachery, and had
consequently resolved to leave no means untried for discovering the
truth of his suspicions. Various circumstances had tended to point those
suspicions towards Bassompierre, and anxious, if possible, to test their
validity, he determined to make an effort to surprise the incautious
noble during a moment of frivolity and recklessness. Acting upon this
impulse, he threw aside his ecclesiastical dress, and assuming that of a
private citizen, as he was frequently in the habit of doing when he
desired to escape observation,[143] he alighted from his carriage near
the Tuileries, and gained the Louvre on foot, entirely unattended.

On reaching the palace he inquired of the officer on duty if M. de
Bassompierre had yet arrived.

"He has, Monseigneur," replied the captain of the royal guard; "the
Maréchal and several of his friends were conversing when I last
traversed the blue hall, near the book-closet of his Majesty."

Richelieu nodded his thanks, and hastily turning into a side-gallery, he
made his way to the treacherous closet by a private staircase, followed
by Père Joseph who had been awaiting him, and in a few minutes they
found themselves in the immediate neighbourhood of their
intended victim.

During this time the King, the two Queens, and the Duc d'Orléans had
made their entrance, and were slowly passing round the several _salons_
uttering courteous welcomes to the assembled guests, and the royal party
had no sooner swept by the group to which we have alluded, than the Duc
de Guise exclaimed disdainfully, "Richelieu has learnt to fear at last!
Here is the King, and he has not yet ventured to trust his sacred person
within the grasp of his enemies."

"He does well," said the younger Marillac, "for he is perhaps aware that
although the wolf may prowl for awhile in safety, he is not always able
to regain his lair with equal security. Is there no man bold enough to
deliver the kingdom from this monster? Has he not yet shed blood enough?
Let his fate be once placed in my hands and it shall soon be decided by
the headsman."

"Heard you that?" whispered the Cardinal to his companion, as he wiped
away the cold perspiration from his forehead, and again applied his ear
to the wainscotted partition.

"Nay, nay, Maréchal," interposed De Guise with a bitter laugh, "you are
inexorable! Let the man live, and do not seek to emulate his
bloodthirstiness. His exile will content me, provided that it be
accompanied by the confiscation of his ill-gotten wealth."  "So, so;
you are indulgent, Monsieur le Duc," again murmured Richelieu.

"For my part," said Bassompierre with affected clemency, "I do not
advocate such extreme measures; there is no lack of accommodation in the
Bastille; why send him on his travels either in this world or the next
when he can be so snugly housed, and at so small an outlay to the state,
until his Satanic Majesty sees fit to fetch him home?"

"Do not seek to pollute the ancient edifice by such a tenant," said the
elder Marillac; "good men and gallant soldiers are at times housed in
the fortress, who would ill brook the companionship of such a
room-fellow. Have you forgotten our galleys, M. de Bassompierre? His
Eminence would there bask in a southern sun as clear as his own
conscience."

These words had scarcely escaped the lips of the speaker, when close
beside, and even as it seemed in the very midst of the incautious group,
was heard the hard dry cough of the subject of their discourse. It was a
sound not to be mistaken, and as it fell upon their ears the four nobles
started, gazed upon each other, and grew pale with a terror which they
were unable to control. They at once felt that they had been overheard,
and that their fate was sealed. In another instant, and without
exchanging a word, they separated; but the die was cast, and the
precaution came too late.

The Cardinal had no sooner assured himself that the conference was at an
end, than he emerged from his hiding-place, and advancing to the centre
of the closet, he cast himself heavily upon a seat, exclaiming with
bitter irony, "What think you, my reverend Father, are not these wily
conspirators? Are not these prudent and proper counsellors for an
ambitious and headstrong woman? But they have done me good service, and
I thank them. Let me see; I love justice, and I must not wrong even
those who have the will to be less forbearing to myself. A pen, Joseph,
a pen, lest my memory prove treacherous and I disappoint their tastes."

The Capuchin hastened to obey; writing implements stood upon the table
near which the Cardinal was seated; and in another moment he was
scribbling, in the ill-formed and straggling characters peculiar to him,
upon the back of a despatch.

"So, so," he muttered between his set teeth, "the gallant Maréchal de
Marillac has an affection for the block: so be it; a scaffold is easily
constructed. And M. de Guise is an amateur of exile and of beggary:
truly it were a pity to thwart his fancy; and France can well spare a
prince or two without making bankrupt of her dignity. Bassompierre, the
volatile and restless Bassompierre, the hero of the Court dames, and the
idol of the Court ballets, favours the seclusion of a prison; there is
space enough for him in the one which he has selected, and his gorgeous
habiliments will produce the happiest effect when contrasted with the
gloomy walls of the good old fortress. And my colleague, my destined
successor, did he not talk of the galleys? I had never given him credit
for sufficient energy to prefer the oar to the pen, and the chain of a
felon to the seals of a minister of state; but since he will have it so,
by the soul of Jean du Plessis, so shall it be!"

And as he terminated this envenomed monologue the Cardinal thrust the
fatal paper into his breast, and clasped his hands convulsively
together; his dim eyes flashed fire, his thin lips quivered, his pale
countenance became livid, and the storm of concentrated passion shook
his frail form as with an ague-fit.

"The day is your own," said the Capuchin calmly; "you are now face to
face with your enemies, and you know all the joints in their armour.
Every blow may be rendered a mortal one."

Richelieu smiled. The paroxysm of fury had subsided, and he was once
more cold, and stern, and self-possessed. "We lose time," he said, "and
I have yet to play the courtier. Are my robes ready?"

"All is prepared," quietly replied his companion, as he withdrew from
the closet, where he shortly reappeared laden with the sumptuous costume
of his friend and patron. A few minutes sufficed for the necessary
metamorphosis; the citizen-raiment was cast aside, the crimson drapery
flung over the shoulders of its owner, the jewelled cross adjusted on
his breast; and before the detected nobles had recovered from their
consternation, the Cardinal was solemnly traversing the crowded halls
surrounded by the adulation of the assembled Court. As he advanced to
pay his respects to the sovereigns, he encountered Bassompierre, whom he
greeted with a smile of more than usual cordiality; and the Duc de
Guise, to whom he addressed a few words of courteous recognition; but
the one felt that the smile was a stab, and the other that the greeting
was a menace.

History has taught us the justice of those forebodings.

And still the festival went on; the fairest women of the Court fluttered
and glittered like gilded butterflies from place to place; princes and
nobles, attired in all the gorgeous magnificence of the time, formed a
living mosaic of splendour on the marble floors; floating perfumes
escaped from jewelled _cassolettes_; light laughter was blent with music
and with song; the dance sped merrily; and heaps of gold rapidly
exchanged owners at the play tables. Nor was the scene less dazzling
without; the environs of the Louvre were brilliantly illuminated;
fireworks ascended from floating rafts anchored in the centre of the
river; and troops of comedians, conjurers, and soothsayers thronged all
the approaches to the palace. It was truly a regal _fête_; and when the
dawn began to gleam, pale and calm through the open casements, a hundred
voices echoed the parting salutation of the Cardinal-Minister to his
royal host, as he said, bowing profoundly, "None save yourself, Sire,
could have afforded to his guests so vivid a glimpse of fairy-land as we
have had to-night. Not a shade of gloom, nor a care for the future, can
have intruded itself in such a scene of enchantment. I appeal to those
around me. How say you, M. de Guise? and you, M. de Bassompierre? Shall
we not depart hence with light hearts and tranquil spirits, grateful for
so many hours of unalloyed and almost unequalled happiness?"

The silence of the two nobles to whom his Eminence had thus addressed
himself fortunately passed unobserved amid the chorus of assenting
admiration which burst forth on all sides; and with this final strain of
the moral rack the Cardinal took his leave of the two foredoomed victims
of his vengeance.


FOOTNOTES:

[130] Gaston d'Orléans, _Mém_. pp. 89, 90.

[131] Jean de Saint-Bonnet, Seigneur de Thoiras. He was created Marshal
of France in 1630, and was killed in Italy, in 1636.

[132] Ambroise, Marquis de Spinola, one of the most famous generals of
the seventeenth century, was the representative of an illustrious house
which was subsequently divided into several branches, some of whom
established themselves in Italy, and others in Spain. The subject of our
note placed himself at the head of nine thousand Italians, and commenced
his military career in the Low Countries, where he distinguished himself
by his extraordinary courage. The siege of Ostend having lasted so long
as to weary the patience of the Archduke of Austria, he transferred the
command of his troops to Spinola, by whom the place was carried in 1604.
He was then appointed general of the Spanish armies in the Low
Countries, and maintained his ground, although opposed to Maurice of
Nassau, the most able general of his time. He rendered several other
important services to the Emperor in the Palatinate, and took Breda in
1625. In 1630 he made himself master of the city and fortress of Casal;
and shortly afterwards died from mortification at the ill requital of
his services.

[133] Jules Mazarin, better known as Cardinal Mazarin, Prime Minister of
France, was born at Piscina in the Abruzzi on the 14th of July 1602, and
was of a noble Sicilian family. Having completed his studies in Italy
and Spain, he attached himself to Cardinal Sacchetti, whom he followed
to Lombardy, and was of great assistance to Cardinal Antonio Barbarini
in concluding the peace of Quiérasqua in 1631. The reputation which he
acquired through this negotiation secured to him the friendship of
Richelieu and the protection of Louis XIII; and in 1639 the former
obtained for him the title of Papal Vice-Legate at Avignon, and
subsequently a seat in the Conclave. Nor did his good offices end even
here, as he entreated Louis to appoint him Councillor of State after his
own demise, a request with which the King complied; and on the death of
Louis XIII the Queen-Regent Anne of Austria confided to him the
government of the kingdom. Mazarin died in 1661, leaving a fortune of
200,000,000 of francs to Armand Charles de la Porte de la Meilleraye,
the husband of his niece Hortense Mancini.

[134] Sismondi, vol. xxiii. pp. 142, 143.

[135] Capefigue, vol. iv. pp. 301-314. Sismondi, vol. xxiii. pp. 152,
153.

[136] "Maître Gonin" was a _sobriquet_ applied by the Parisians to the
Cardinal de Richelieu.

[137] Motteville, _Mém_. vol. i. pp. 372, 373. Brienne, _Mém_. vol. ii.
p. 12. Sismondi, vol. xxiii. pp. 154, 155. Bassompierre, _Mém_. vol. in.
pp. 275, 276. Gaston d'Orléans, _Mém_. pp. 91, 92. Le Vassor, vol. vi.
pp. 538, 539. Capefigue, vol. iv. pp. 320-323.

[138] Bassompierre, _Mém_. vol. iii. p. 12. Le Vassor, vol. vi. p. 542.
Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. vii. p. 285.

[139] Capefigue, vol. iv. pp. 326-331. Sismondi, vol. xxiii. pp. 156,
157.

[140] _MSS. de Béthune_, v. cot. 9319.

[141] Le Vassor, vol. vi. pp. 539-541. Capefigue, vol. iv. pp. 324-332.
Sismondi, vol. xxiii. pp. 157, 158.

[142] Bassompierre, _Mém_. vol. iii. pp. 280, 281.

[143] "C'était son habitude. Il sortait souvent les nuits, quand il
allait en aventures amoureuses, ou pour surveiller lui-même les menées
de ses nombreux ennemis."--Blaisot, _Manuscript Memoirs of a
Benedictine Monk_.



CHAPTER VIII

1631

Richelieu interdicts all correspondence between Anne of Austria and the
King of Spain--The Queen asks permission to retire to the Val de
Grâce--Her persecution by the Cardinal--Marie de Medicis protects her
interests--Monsieur pledges himself to support her cause--Gaston defies
the minister--Alarm of Richelieu--He resolves to effect the exile of the
Queen-mother--Monsieur quits the capital--Superstition of Marie de
Medicis--An unequal struggle--Father Joseph and his patron--The
Queen-mother resolves to accompany her son to Italy--Richelieu assures
the King that Marie and Gaston have organized a conspiracy against his
life--The Court proceed to Compiègne--The Queen-mother refuses to retain
her seat in the Council--Richelieu regains all his influence over the
King--Revenge of the Cardinal upon his enemies--Desperate position of
Marie de Medicis--Her arrest is determined upon by the Council--Louis
leaves her a prisoner at Compiègne--Parting interview of the
two Queens--Indignity offered to Anne of Austria--Death of the
Princesse de Conti--Indignation of the royal prisoner--A diplomatic
correspondence--Two noble gaolers--The royal troops pursue Monsieur--The
adherents of Gaston are declared guilty of _lèse-majesté_--Gaston
addresses a declaration to the Parliament--The Queen-mother forwards a
similar protest, and then appeals to the people--A paper war--The
garrison is withdrawn from Compiègne--Marie resolves to effect her
escape to the Low Countries--She is assured of the protection of Spain
and Germany--The Queen-mother secretly leaves the fortress--She is
betrayed by the Marquis de Vardes, and proceeds with all speed to
Hainault, pursued by the royal troops--She is received at Mons by the
Archduchess Isabella--Whence she addresses a letter to the King to
explain the motives of her flight--Reply of Louis XIII--Sympathy of
Isabella--The two Princesses proceed to Brussels--Triumphal entry of
Marie de Medicis into the capital of Flanders--Renewed hopes of the
exiled Queen--The Belgian Ambassador at the French Court--Vindictive
counsels of the Cardinal--The property of the Queen-mother and Monsieur
is confiscated--They are abandoned by many of their adherents--Richelieu
is created a duke--A King and his minister--Marie consents to the
marriage of Monsieur with Marguerite de Lorraine--The followers of the
Queen-mother and the Duc d'Orléans are tried and condemned--Louis XIII
proceeds to Lorraine to prevent the projected alliance of his
brother--Intrigues of Gaston--Philip of Spain refuses to adopt the cause
of Marie de Medicis--Marriage of Monsieur and the Princesse de
Lorraine--The Queen-mother endeavours to negotiate her return to
France--Richelieu determines the King not to consent--Charles de
Lorraine makes his submission to the French monarch--And signs a
compulsory treaty.


In order, as he asserted, to protect the interests of France, Richelieu
had strictly forbidden all further correspondence between Anne of
Austria and her royal brother Philip of Spain; and had further informed
her that she would no longer be permitted to receive the Marquis de
Mirabel, the Spanish Ambassador, who had hitherto been her constant
visitor and the medium of her intercourse with her family. Indignant at
such an interference with her most private feelings, Anne revolted
against a tyranny which aroused her southern pride; and complaining that
the close confinement to which she was subjected at the Louvre had
affected her health, she demanded permission to retire to the Val de
Grâce; a proposal which was eminently grateful to the Cardinal, who
desired above all things to separate her from the Queen-mother. She had,
however, no sooner left the palace than she caused M. de Mirabel to be
apprised of the place of her retreat; at the same time informing him
that she should continue to expect his visits, although he must
thenceforward make them as privately as possible. In compliance with
these instructions, the Ambassador alighted from his carriage at some
distance from the Val de Grâce, and proceeded on foot to the convent
generally towards the dusk of the evening, believing that by these
precautions he should be enabled to baffle the vigilance of the watchful
minister. He was, however, soon destined to be undeceived, as Richelieu,
having ascertained the fact, openly denounced these meetings in the
Council, expatiating upon the fatal effects of which they might be
productive to France; while Marie de Medicis boldly supported her
daughter-in-law, declaring that any minister who presumed to give laws
to the wife of his sovereign exceeded his privilege, and must be
prepared to encounter her legitimate and authorized opposition.

In this assertion she was, moreover, supported by the Duc d'Orléans, who
considered himself aggrieved by the non-performance of the promises made
by Richelieu to his favourites. He had, it is true, in his turn pledged
himself to the King that he would no longer oppose the measures of the
minister; but the pledges of Monsieur were known to be as unstable as
water; and his chivalrous spirit was, moreover, aroused by the harsh
treatment of his young and beautiful sister-in-law, with whom he passed
a great portion of his time. More than once he had surprised her bathed
in tears, had listened to the detail of her wrongs, and soothed her
sorrows; and, finally, he had vowed to revenge them.

It would appear that on this occasion at least he was in earnest, as on
the 1st of January 1631, when the intense cold rendered the outward air
almost unendurable, and the Cardinal had remained throughout the whole
morning in his easy chair, rolled up in furs, beside a blazing fire,
Monsieur was suddenly announced, and immediately entered the apartment,
followed by a numerous train of nobles. Richelieu rose in alarm to
receive him, for he remembered a previous visit of Monsieur which was as
unexpected as the present one, and probably not more threatening.

"To what, Sir," he asked with a slight tremor in his voice, as he
advanced towards the Prince with a profound bow, "am I to attribute the
honour of this unexpected favour?"

"To my anxiety to apprise you," said Gaston without returning his
salutation, "that it was contrary to my own inclination that I lately
promised you my friendship. I recall that promise, for I cannot keep it
to a man of your description, who, moreover, insults my mother."

As the Prince ceased speaking the nobles by whom he was accompanied laid
their hands upon their swords, and the petrified Cardinal stood
speechless and motionless before them, unable to articulate a syllable.

"As for myself," pursued Gaston, "I have too long submitted to your
insolence, and you deserve that I should chastise you as I would a
lackey. Your priestly robe alone protects you from my vengeance; but
beware! You are now warned; and henceforward nothing shall form your
security against the chastisement reserved for those who outrage persons
of my quality. For the present I shall retire to Orleans, but you will
soon hear of me again at the head of an armed force; and then, Monsieur
le Cardinal, we will decide who shall hold precedence in France, a
Prince of the Blood Royal, or a nameless adventurer."

With this threat, Monsieur turned and left the room, closely followed by
the Cardinal, whom he overwhelmed with insult until he had descended the
stairs; and even while the pale and agitated minister obsequiously held
the stirrup to assist him to mount, he continued his vituperations;
then, snatching at the bridle, he dashed through the gates, and
disappeared at full speed with his retinue.[144]

Alarmed at the menacing attitude assumed by the Duc d'Orléans, Richelieu
renewed his attempts to conciliate the Queen-mother, not only
personally, but also through the medium of those about her. All these
efforts, however, proved abortive; and although the King himself deeply
and openly resented her resolute estrangement from the Cardinal, by whom
he was at this period entirely governed, nothing could induce her to
listen to such a proposal; and she was further strengthened in her
resolve by the representations of her partisans, who constantly assured
her of her popularity with the people, and asserted that they were loud
in their denunciations of the weakness of the sovereign, and the tyranny
of his minister; while they anticipated from their experience of the
past that she would, by maintaining her own dignity, place some curb
upon the encroaching ambition of a man who was rapidly undermining the
monarchy, and sapping the foundations of the throne.

Having failed in this endeavour, Richelieu resolved no longer to delay
his cherished project of effecting the exile of his former benefactress;
and as a preliminary measure, he no sooner ascertained that the Duc
d'Orléans had indeed retired to his government than he insinuated to
Louis that Monsieur had been instigated to this overt act of opposition
by the counsels of Marie de Medicis. When reproached with this new
offence, the Queen-mother denied that she had encouraged the Prince to
leave the capital; bitterly remarking that she was not so rich in
friends as to desire the absence of any who still remembered that she
was the mother and mother-in-law of the two greatest monarchs in Europe;
that she had given one Queen to England, another to Spain, and a female
sovereign to Savoy; and that she was moreover the widow of Henry
the Great.

Little credence was, however, vouchsafed to these disclaimers; the
Cardinal coldly remarking that Gaston never acted save in conformity
with her will; and Louis loudly declaring that his brother had been
urged to his disobedience entirely by herself, in order to gratify her
hatred of his minister.[145]

The struggle continued. Encouraged by her adherents, and calculating on
the feeble health of the King, who had never rallied from the severe
attack by which he had been prostrated at Lyons, Marie de Medicis still
flattered herself that she should ultimately triumph; an opinion in
which she was confirmed by the astrologers, in whom, as we have already
shown, she placed the most unbounded faith. One of these charlatans had
assured her that at the close of the year 1631 she would be more
powerful and fortunate than she had ever before been; and she had such
perfect confidence in the prophecy that when it was uttered, although at
that period surrounded by difficulty and danger, she had replied with a
calm and satisfied smile: "That is sufficient. I have therefore now only
to be careful of my health."

The retirement of Monsieur to Orleans tended to strengthen these idle
and baseless hopes; and the flatterers of the Queen-mother consequently
found little difficulty in persuading her that ere long half the nation
would rise to avenge her wrongs; that all the great nobles would rally
round the Duc d'Orléans; and that the principal cities, weary of the
despotism of Richelieu, would declare in favour of the heir-presumptive,
in the event of the King still seeking to support his obnoxious
minister.

Misled by these assurances, and consulting only her own passions, Marie
de Medicis no longer hesitated. She refused to acknowledge the authority
of the Cardinal, not only as regarded her own personal affairs, but also
in matters of state; and absented herself from the Council, loudly
declaring that her only aim in life hereafter would be to accomplish his
ruin. The infatuated Princess had ceased to remember that she was
braving no common adversary, and that she was heaping up coals of fire
which could not fail one day to fall back upon her own head; for
resolute, fearless, and vehement as she was, she had to contend against
the first diplomatist of the age, whose whole career had already
sufficiently demonstrated that he was utterly uninfluenced by those
finer feelings which have so frequently prevented a good man from
becoming great. What were to Richelieu the memories of the past? Mere
incentives to the ambition of the future. Concini had been his first
friend, and he had abandoned him to the steel of the assassin so soon as
his patronage had become oppressive. Marie herself had overwhelmed him
with benefits, but she had now lost her power, and he, who had won, was
resolved to keep it. He had dared to talk of passion to the wife of his
sovereign, by whom he had been repulsed, and fearfully had he resented
the affront. Such a man was no meet antagonist for the impulsive and
imprudent Princess who had now entered the lists against him; and the
issue of the conflict was certain.

Richelieu meekly bent his head before the storm of words by which he was
assailed, but he did not remain inactive. Having resolved to terminate a
rivalry for power which disorganized all his measures and fettered all
his movements; and, moreover, to retain the influence which he had
acquired over the mind of the weak and indolent monarch; he held long
and frequent conferences with the Capuchin Father Joseph, in which it
was finally decided that the Cardinal should induce his royal master to
exile his mother to Moulins or some other fortified city at a distance
from the capital, under a strong guard; and afterwards to surprise
Monsieur and take him prisoner, before he should have time to fortify
himself in Orleans, or to establish his residence in a frontier province
where he could be assisted by the Emperor of Germany or the King of
Spain; both of whom were at that moment earnestly endeavouring to foment
discord in the French Court, and would not fail to embrace so favourable
an opportunity, should time be allowed for the Prince to solicit
their aid.

Had Marie de Medicis possessed more caution, Richelieu might well have
doubted his power to induce her to leave the capital, where her
popularity would have ensured her safety; but he had not forgotten that
when he sought to dissuade her from following her son in his Italian
campaign, she had resolutely replied: "I will accompany the King
wherever he may see fit to go; and I will never cease to demand justice
upon the author of the dissensions which now embitter the existence of
the royal family."

Convinced that she would keep her word, and anxious to see her safely
beyond the walls of Paris, the Cardinal accordingly began to impress
more urgently than ever upon Louis his conviction that a conspiracy had
been formed against his authority, if not against his life; and that not
only were the Queen-mother and Monsieur involved in this nefarious plot,
but also some of the greatest nobles and ladies of the Court. As he had
anticipated, the King at once took alarm, and entreated him to devise
some method by which he might evade so great a danger.

"Your Majesty may rest assured that I have not neglected so imperative a
duty," replied Richelieu with a calm smile which at once tended to
reassure his royal dupe. "If the peril be great, the means of escape are
easy. You have only, Sire, to leave Paris, and organize a hunt at
Compiègne. The Queen-mother will no doubt follow you thither; in which
case we will profit by the opportunity to make her such advantageous
offers as may induce her to accede to your wishes, and to separate
herself from the cabal; and even in the event of her declining the
journey, and remaining in Paris during your absence, we may equally
succeed in removing from about her person the individuals who are now
labouring to excite her discontent; and this object once attained, there
can be little doubt that she will become more yielding and submissive.
Monsieur is, as I am informed, about to levy troops in the different
provinces, and to provoke a civil war; but he will, as a natural
consequence, abandon this project when deprived of the support of the
Queen, and will be ready to make his submission when he is no longer in
correspondence with her Majesty."

Louis eagerly acceded to the suggestion of the crafty Cardinal, and
desired that preparations might be made for his departure in the course
of the ensuing month; expressing at the same time his sense of the
service rendered to him by the minister.[146] Richelieu felt the whole
extent of his triumph. Once beyond the walls of Paris, Marie de Medicis
was in the toils, and her overthrow was assured; while, as he had
anticipated, on being informed of the projected journey, she at once
declared her determination to accompany the King, and resolutely refused
to listen to the exhortations of her friends, by whom she was earnestly
dissuaded from leaving the capital.

"You argue in vain," she said firmly. "If I had only followed the King
to Versailles, the Cardinal would now be out of France, or in a prison.
May it please God that I never again commit the same error!"  In
accordance with this decision the Queen-mother accordingly made the
necessary preparations; and on the 17th of February the Court set forth
for Compiègne, to the great satisfaction of the minister; who, well
aware of the impossibility of accomplishing any reconciliation with his
indignant mistress, lost no time in entreating Louis to endeavour once
more to effect this object. Richelieu desired to appear in the _rôle_ of
a victim, while he was in fact the tyrant of this great domestic drama;
but the weak sovereign was incompetent to unravel the tangled mesh of
his wily policy; and it was therefore with eagerness that he lent
himself to this new subterfuge.

Vautier was, as we have stated, not only the physician but also the
confidential friend of Marie de Medicis; and the King consequently
resolved to avail himself of his influence. He was accordingly summoned
to the royal presence, and there Louis expressed to him his earnest
desire that the past should be forgotten, and that henceforward his
mother and himself might live in peace and amity; to which end he
declared it to be absolutely essential that the Queen should forego her
animosity to the Cardinal.

"I have faith in your fidelity, Sir," he said graciously, "and I request
of you to urge this upon her Majesty, for I am weary of these perpetual
broils. Assure her in my name that if she will consent to my wishes in
this respect, and assist as she formerly did at the Council, she will
secure alike my affection and my respect. She must, moreover, give a
written pledge not to compromise the safety of the state by any
political intrigue, and to abandon to my just resentment all such
persons as may hereafter incur my displeasure, with the exception only
of the members of her immediate household. On these conditions I am
ready to forgive and to forget the events of the last few months."

To this proposition Marie de Medicis replied that her most anxious
desire was to live in good understanding with her son and sovereign, but
that she could not consent to occupy a seat in the Council with
Richelieu, nor to give in writing a pledge for which her royal word
should be a sufficient guarantee, as she considered that both the one
concession and the other would be unworthy of her dignity as a Queen,
and her self-respect as a woman.

Such was precisely the result which had been anticipated by the astute
Cardinal, who, as he cast himself at the feet of the King, bitterly
inveighed against the inflexibility of Marie, and renewed his entreaties
that he might be permitted to resign office, and to withdraw for ever
from a Court where he had been so unhappy as to cause dissension between
the two persons whom he most loved and honoured upon earth. This was the
favourite expedient of Richelieu, who always saw the pale cheek of Louis
become yet paler under the threat; and on the present occasion it was
even more successful than usual. Ever ready to credit the most
extravagant reports when they involved his personal safety, the King
looked upon the Cardinal as the only barrier between himself and
assassination; and impressed with this conviction, he raised him up,
embraced him fervently, and assured him that no consideration should
ever induce him to dispense with his services; that the enemies of
Richelieu were his enemies; the friends of Richelieu his friends; and
that he held himself indebted to his devotion not only for his throne,
but for his life. The minister received his acknowledgments with
well-acted humility; and encouraged by the success of his first attempt,
resolved to profit by the opportunity thus afforded him for completing
the work of vengeance which he had so skilfully commenced. He
consequently declared that it was with reluctance he was compelled to
admit that although by the gracious consent of his Majesty to adopt the
measures which he had formerly proposed, the peril at which he had
hinted had been greatly lessened, it was nevertheless essential to
prevent the reorganization of so dangerous a cabal; and that in order to
do this effectually it became imperative upon the King to arrest, and
even to exile, certain individuals who had been involved in
the intrigue.

At that moment Louis, who considered that he had been delivered from
almost certain destruction through the perspicacity and zeal of his
minister, felt no disposition to dissent from any of his views, and he
unhesitatingly expressed his readiness to sanction whatever measures he
might deem necessary; upon which Richelieu, without further preamble,
laid before him the list of his intended victims. At the head of these
figured Bassompierre, whose recent abandonment the vindictive Cardinal
had not forgotten, and the two Marillacs. The Abbé de Foix and the
physician Vautier, both of whom were in the confidence of the
Queen-mother, were also destined to expiate their fidelity to her cause
in the Bastille; while the Princesse de Conti and the Duchesses
d'Elboeuf, d'Ornano, de Lesdiguières, and de Roannois, all of whom were
her fast friends, were sentenced to banishment; and it was further
decided that, on his departure from Compiègne, the King should leave his
mother in that city under the guard of the Maréchal d'Estrées, at the
head of nearly a thousand men, exclusive of fifty gendarmes and as many
light-horse; and that he should be accompanied to the capital by Anne of
Austria, in order to separate her from the Queen-mother.[147]

The situation of Marie de Medicis was desperate. Day after day she
solicited a private interview with the monarch, and on every occasion of
their meeting she found Richelieu in the royal closet, invulnerable
alike to her disdain and to her sarcasm. One word from the King would of
course have compelled him to withdraw, but that word was never uttered;
for with the timidity inherent to a weak mind, Louis dreaded to be left
alone with his destined victim. Bigoted and superstitious, he had his
moments of remorse, in which his conscience reproached him for the
crime of which he was about to render himself guilty towards the author
of his existence; but these qualms assailed him only during the absence
of his minister, and thus he overcame them by the constant companionship
of the stronger spirit by whom he was ruled. Unable to act of himself,
the purple robes of the Cardinal were his safeguard and his refuge; nor
was Richelieu unwilling to accept the responsibility thus thrust upon
him. His Eminence had no scruples, no weaknesses, no misgivings; he knew
his power, and he exercised it without shrinking. Had the unhappy Queen
been permitted only a few hours of undisturbed communion with her son,
it is probable that she might have awakened even in his selfish bosom
other and better feelings; she might have taught him to listen to the
voice of nature and of conscience; the mother's heart might have
triumphed over the statesman's head; but no such opportunity was
afforded to her; and while she was still making fruitless efforts to
attain her object, the King, at the instigation of the Cardinal,
summoned a privy council, at which Châteauneuf, the new Keeper of the
Seals and the tool of Richelieu, openly accused her not only of
ingratitude to the monarch, but also of conducting a secret
correspondence with the Spanish Cabinet, and of having induced Monsieur
to leave the country; and concluded by declaring that stringent measures
should be adopted against her.

When desired to declare his opinion on this difficult question,
Richelieu at first affected great unwillingness to interfere, alleging
that he was personally interested in the result; but the King having
commanded him to speak, he threw off all restraint, and represented the
Queen-mother as the focus of all the intrigues both foreign and domestic
by which the nation was convulsed; together with the utter impossibility
of ensuring the safety of the King so long as she remained at liberty to
pursue the policy which she had seen fit to adopt, alike against the
sovereign and the state. In conclusion, he emphatically reminded his
hearers that weak remedies only tended to aggravate great evils, which
latter on the contrary were overcome by those proportioned to their
magnitude; and that consequently, at such a crisis as that under
consideration, there was but one alternative: either to effect a peace
with foreign powers on sure and honourable terms, or to conciliate the
Queen-mother and the Duc d'Orléans; either to dismiss himself from
office, or to remove from about the person of the Queen the individuals
by whom she was instigated to opposition against the will of the King
and the welfare of the state; and to beg of her to absent herself for
some time from the Court, lest, without desiring to do so, she should by
her presence induce a continuance of the disorder which it was the
object of all loyal subjects to suppress. He then craftily insisted upon
the peculiar character of Marie herself, whom he painted in the most
odious colours. He declared her to be false and revengeful; qualities
which he attributed to her Italian origin, and to her descent from the
Medici, who never forgave an injury; and, finally, he stated that all
which they had to decide was whether it would be most advantageous for
the King to dismiss from office a minister who had unfortunately become
obnoxious to the whole of the royal family, in order to secure peace in
his domestic circle, or to exile the Queen-mother and those who
encouraged her in her animosity against him. As regarded himself, he
said proudly, that could his absence from the Court tend to heal the
existing dissensions, he was ready to depart upon the instant, and
should do so without hesitation or remonstrance; but that it remained to
be seen if his retirement would suffice to satisfy the malcontents; or
whether they would not, by involving others in his overthrow, endeavour
to possess themselves of the supreme authority.

This insinuation, insolent as it was (for it intimated no less than the
utter incapacity of Louis to uphold his own prerogative, and the
probability that Richelieu once removed, Marie de Medicis would resume
all her former power), produced a visible effect upon the King.

"My conviction is therefore," concluded the Cardinal, "that his Majesty
should annihilate the faction sanctioned by the Queen-mother, by
requesting her to retire to a distance from the capital, and by removing
from about her person the evil counsellors who have instigated her to
rebellion; but that this should be done with great consideration, and
with all possible respect. And as by these means the cabal would be
dispersed, and my colleagues in the ministry be thus enabled once more
to serve the sovereign and the state in perfect security, I humbly
solicit of his Majesty the royal permission to tender my resignation."

This climax, as usual, instantly decided Louis XIII, although as a
necessary form he demanded the collective opinion of the Council; who,
one and all, represented the retirement of the Cardinal from office as
an expedient at once dangerous and impracticable. The die was cast; and
after a few vague and puerile expressions of regret at the necessity
thus forced upon him of once more separating himself from his mother,
Louis pronounced the banishment of Marie de Medicis from the Court, and
then retired from the hall leaning upon the arm of Richelieu, who found
little difficulty in convincing him of the expediency of taking his
departure before his intention became known to the ill-fated Queen.[148]

This advice was peculiarly welcome to the cowardly King, who dreaded
above all things the reproaches and tears of his widowed and outraged
mother; and accordingly, on the 23rd of February, he was on foot at
three in the morning; and had no sooner completed his toilet than he
sent to desire the presence of the Jesuit Suffren, his confessor.

"When the Queen my mother shall have awoke," he said hurriedly, "do not
fail to inform her that I regret to take my departure without seeing
her; and that in a few days I will acquaint her with my wishes."

Such was his last greeting to the unhappy Princess, who had gone to rest
without one suspicion that on the morrow she should find herself a
prisoner, abandoned by her son, and bereft of her dearest friends; and
meanwhile another scene was taking place in a distant wing of the
palace, which has been so graphically described by Madame de Motteville
that we shall transcribe it in her own words:

"At daybreak some one knocked loudly at the door of the Queen's chamber.
On hearing this noise, Anne of Austria, whom it had awakened, called her
women, and inquired whether it was the King who demanded admittance, as
he was the only individual who was entitled to take so great a liberty.
While giving this order she drew back the curtain of her bed, and
perceiving with alarm that it was scarcely light, a vague sentiment of
terror took possession of her mind. As she was always doubtful, and with
great reason, of the King's feeling towards her, she persuaded herself
that she was about to receive some fatal intelligence, and felt assured
that the least evil which she had to apprehend was her exile from
France. Regarding this moment, therefore, as one which must decide the
whole of her future destiny, she endeavoured to recall her
self-possession in order to meet the blow with becoming courage ... and
when the first shock of her terror had passed by, she determined to
receive submissively whatever trial Heaven might see fit to inflict upon
her. She consequently commanded that the door of her apartment should be
opened; and as her first _femme de chambre_ announced that the person
who demanded admittance was the Keeper of the Seals, who had been
entrusted with a message to her Majesty from the King, she became
convinced that her fears had not deceived her. This apprehension was,
however, dispelled by the address of the envoy, who merely informed the
Queen that her royal consort desired to make known to her that, for
certain reasons of state, he found himself compelled to leave his mother
at Compiègne under the guard of the Maréchal d'Estrées; that he begged
her instantly to rise; to abstain from again seeing the ex-Regent; and
to join him without loss of time at the Capuchin Convent, whither he had
already proceeded, and where he should await her coming.

"Anne of Austria, although alike distressed and amazed by this
intelligence, made no comment upon so extraordinary a communication; but
after having briefly expressed her readiness to obey the command of the
King, she left her bed; and while doing so, despatched the Marquise de
Seneçay, her lady of honour, to tell the unfortunate Marie de Medicis
that she was anxious to see her, as she had an affair of importance to
reveal; while for certain reasons she could not venture to her apartment
until she had herself sent to request her to do so. The Queen-mother,
who knew nothing of the resolution which had been taken, but who was in
hourly apprehension of a renewal of her former sufferings, did not lose
a moment in profiting by the suggestion; and Anne of Austria had no
sooner received the expected summons than she threw on a dressing-gown
and hurried to the chamber of her royal relative, whom she found seated
in her bed, and clasping her knees with her hands in a state of
bewildered agitation. On the entrance of her daughter-in-law, the
unhappy Princess exclaimed in a tone of anguish:

"Ah! my daughter, I am then to die or be made a prisoner. Is the King
about to leave me here? What does he intend to do with me?'

"Anne of Austria, bathed in tears, could only reply by throwing herself
into the arms of the helpless victim; and for a while they wept together
in silence.

"The wife of Louis had, however, little time to spend in speechless
sympathy, and ere long she communicated to Marie de Medicis the cruel
resolution of the King, and conjured her to bear her banishment with
patience until they should be revenged upon their common enemy, the
Cardinal. They then parted with mutual expressions of sympathy and
affection; and, as it ultimately proved, they never met again." [149]

During the course of this brief and melancholy interview, the young
Queen, with the assistance of her royal mother-in-law, completed her
toilet; and then after their hurried leavetaking hastened to rejoin the
King, who had already evinced great impatience at her delay. But however
consoled she might have been by her own escape on this occasion, Anne of
Austria was nevertheless condemned to suffer her share of humiliation,
for she had no sooner reached the Convent than Louis formally presented
to her Madame de la Flotte as her First Lady of Honour, and her
grand-daughter Mademoiselle de Hautefort as her next attendant; while
upon her expressing her astonishment at such an arrangement, she was
informed that the Comtesse du Fargis, who was replaced by Madame de la
Flotte, had been banished from the Court, and that other great ladies
had shared the same fate.[150]

The will of Richelieu had indeed proved omnipotent. Not one of those
whom he had doomed to disgrace was suffered to escape without submitting
to humiliations degrading to their rank. The unfortunate Princesse de
Conti, the sister of the Duc de Guise, whose only crime was her
attachment to her royal mistress, and her love for Bassompierre, was
exiled to Eu; where her separation from the Queen, and the imprisonment
of the Maréchal, so preyed upon her mind that she died within two months
of a broken heart; while all was alarm and consternation in the capital,
where the greatest and the proudest in the land trembled alike for their
lives and for their liberties.

Of all the victims of the Cardinal the Queen-mother was, however, the
most wretched and the most hopeless. So soon as Anne of Austria had
quitted her apartment, feeling herself overcome by the suddenness of the
shock to which she had been subjected, she caused her physician M.
Vautier to be summoned, and was abruptly informed that he had been
arrested, and conveyed a prisoner to Senlis.

"Another!" she murmured piteously. "Another in whom I might have found
help and comfort. But all who love me are condemned; and Richelieu
triumphs! My history is written in tears and blood. Heaven grant me
patience, for I am indeed an uncrowned Queen, and a childless mother."

Her lamentations were interrupted by the announcement of the Maréchal
d'Estrées, who having been admitted, communicated to her the will of the
King that she should await his further orders at Compiègne.

"Say rather, M. le Maréchal," she exclaimed with a burst of her habitual
impetuosity, "that I am henceforth a prisoner, and that you have been
promoted to the proud office of a woman's gaoler. What are the next
commands which I am to be called on to obey? What is to be my ultimate
fate? Speak boldly. There is some new misfortune in reserve, but I shall
not shrink. 'While others suffer for me, I shall find courage to suffer
for myself."  "His Majesty, Madame, will doubtless inform you--"
commenced the mortified noble.

"So be it then, M. le Maréchal," said Marie haughtily, as she motioned
him to retire; "I will await the orders of the King."

Those orders were not long delayed, for on the ensuing morning the Comte
de Brienne presented to the imprisoned Princess an autograph letter from
Louis XIII, of which the following were the contents:

       *       *       *       *       *

"I left Compiègne, Madame, without taking leave of you in order to avoid
the annoyance of making a personal request which might have caused you
some displeasure. I desired to entreat you to retire for a time to the
fortress of Moulins, which you had yourself selected as your residence
after the death of the late King. Conformably to your marriage contract,
you would there, Madame and mother, be at perfect liberty; both yourself
and your household. Your absence causes me sincere regret, but the
welfare of my kingdom compels me to separate myself from you.

"LOUIS." [151]

       *       *       *       *       *

As M. de Brienne had received orders to hold no intercourse with the
royal captive save in the presence of the Maréchal d'Estrées, it was to
the latter noble that Marie de Medicis addressed herself when she had
read the cold and heartless letter of her son.

"So, Sir," she exclaimed vehemently, "the King commands me to remove to
Moulins! How have I been so unfortunate as to incur his displeasure
without having done anything to excite it? Why am I deprived of my
physician and the gentlemen of my household? If the King desires to
shorten my days he has only to keep me in captivity. It is strange that
being the mother of the sovereign I am subjected to the will of his
servants; but God will grant me justice. These are not the wishes of my
son, but I am the victim of the hatred and persecution of the Cardinal.
I know," she pursued, weeping bitterly, "why I am sent to Moulins; it is
because it would be easy from that city to compel my departure for
Italy; but rest assured, Maréchal d'Estrées, that _I will sooner be
dragged naked from my bed_ than give my consent to such a measure."

"Madame," interposed the Comte de Brienne, "had there been any intention
to treat you with disrespect, it could have been done with as much
facility at Compiègne as at Moulins. I entreat of your Majesty to
reflect before you give us your final answer."

Marie profited by this advice; and the result of her deliberations was a
determination to make a final effort towards a reconciliation with the
King. In the letter which she addressed to him she declared that it was
her most anxious desire to merit his favour, and to conform to his
wishes. She besought him to remember that she was his mother; to recall
all the exertions which she had made for the welfare and preservation of
his kingdom; and finally she urged him to disregard the counsels of the
Cardinal-Minister in so far as they affected herself, since she knew,
from personal experience, that where he once hated he never forgave, and
that his ambition and his ingratitude were alike boundless.[152]

The only effect produced by this appeal was an offer to change her place
of exile to Angers, should she prefer a residence in that city to
Moulins; and in either case to confer upon her the government of
whichever of those two provinces she might select. The proposal was
indignantly rejected. It was evident that the sole aim of Richelieu was
to remove her to a distance from the capital which might impede her
communication with the few friends who remained faithful to her; and the
anxiety of the Cardinal to effect his object only rendered the
Queen-mother the more resolute not to yield.[153]

Meanwhile the position of the Maréchal d'Estrées and M. de Brienne was
onerous in the extreme. They had received stringent commands to treat
their royal captive with every demonstration of respect and deference,
while at the same time they were instructed to prevent her
correspondence with the Duc d'Orléans, who had already reached Besançon
in Franche-Comté on his way to the duchy of Lorraine, pursued by the
royal troops, but nevertheless persisting in his purpose. They were,
moreover, to use every argument to induce her consent to leave Compiègne
for Moulins; a proposition that never failed to excite her anger, which
it was frequently difficult to appease; and the unfortunate Maréchal
soon became so weary of the perpetual mortifications to which he was
subjected, that he daily wrote to the Cardinal representing the utter
impossibility of success. Richelieu, however, would not be discouraged;
and he merely replied by the assurance: "I know her well; continue to
exert yourself, persist without cessation, and you will at last effect
your object." [154]

Meanwhile the King, by the advice of his minister, declared all the
nobles by whom Monsieur was accompanied guilty of _lèse-majesté_; a
sentence which was considered so extreme by the Parliament that when
called upon to register it on their minutes they ventured to
remonstrate. This act of justice, however, so exasperated the Cardinal
that he forthwith induced Louis to proceed to the capital, and to summon
the members to his presence, with an express order that they should
approach the Louvre _on foot_. This offensive command was no sooner
obeyed than the Keeper of the Seals severely reprimanded them for their
disloyalty and disobedience; and before time was afforded for a reply,
the King demanded that the official register should be delivered up to
him, which was no sooner done than he passionately tore out the leaf
upon which the decree had been inscribed, and substituted that of his
own Council, by which the Court of Parliament was forbidden all
deliberation on declarations of state, at the risk of the suspension of
its Councillors, and even of greater penalties, should such be deemed
advisable.[155]

This proceeding so much incensed the Duc d'Orléans that he in his turn
forwarded a declaration to the Parliament, in which he affirmed that he
had quitted the kingdom in consequence of the persecution of the
Cardinal de Richelieu, whom he accused of an attempt upon his own life,
and upon that of the Queen-mother; which was, as he affirmed, to have
been succeeded by a third against the sovereign, in order that the
minister might ultimately make himself master of the state; and Monsieur
had scarcely taken this step when Marie de Medicis adopted the same
policy. The Parliament had in past times warmly seconded her interests;
and she still hoped that it would afford her its protection. In the
appeal which she made, she dilated in the first place upon her own
wrongs; and complained that, without having in anywise intrigued against
either the sovereign or the nation, she was kept a close prisoner at
Compiègne; while she, moreover, followed up this representation by
accusing Richelieu of all the anarchy which existed in the kingdom, and
by demanding to be permitted to appear publicly as his accuser.

The appeal was, however, vain. The Parliament, indignant at the insult
which had been offered to them, and alarmed at the violence exhibited by
Louis in the affair of Monsieur, would not even consent to open her
despatch, but sent it with the seal still unbroken to the King;[156]
and thus the unfortunate Princess found herself compelled to abandon a
hope by which she had hitherto been sustained. She then sought to
interest the people in her favour; and for this purpose she did not
scruple to exaggerate the sufferings to which she was subjected by a
captivity which she represented as infinitely more rigorous than it
was in fact.

Her example was imitated alike by the Duc d'Orléans and the
Cardinal-Minister; and ere long the whole nation was deluged with
pamphlets, in which each accused the other without measure or decency.
Richelieu was, throughout his whole career, partial to this species of
warfare, and had able writers constantly in his employ for the express
purpose of writing down his enemies when he could not compass their ruin
by more speedy means; but on this occasion the violence of Monsieur was
so great that the Cardinal began to apprehend the issue of the struggle,
and deemed it expedient to terminate all further open aggression against
Marie de Medicis. In consequence of this conviction, therefore, he
forwarded an order to the Maréchal d'Estrées to withdraw from Compiègne
with the troops under his command, and to leave the Queen-mother at
perfect liberty, provided she were willing to pledge herself to remain
in that town until she should receive the royal permission to select
another residence.  It is probable that when the minister exacted this
promise he was as little prepared for its observance as was Marie when
she conceded it; for she had no sooner become convinced that her star
had waned before that of Richelieu, than she determined to effect her
escape so soon as she should have secured a place of refuge, whence she
could, should she see fit to do so, retire to the Spanish Low Countries,
and throw herself upon the protection of the Archduchess Isabella.
Having once arrived at this decision, the Queen-mother resolved, if
possible, to seek an asylum at La Capelle, which, being a frontier town,
offered all the necessary facilities for her project; and for this
purpose she despatched a trusty messenger to Madame de Vardes, whose
husband was governor of the place during the temporary absence of his
father, and who was herself a former mistress of Henri IV, and the
mother of the Comte de Moret. Flattered by the confidence reposed in
her, Madame de Vardes lost no time in exerting her influence over the
ambitious spirit of her husband, whom the Duc d'Orléans promised to
recompense by the rank of Gentleman of Honour to the Princess to whom he
was about to be united; and ere long M. de Vardes, who saw before him a
career of greatness and favour should the faction of Monsieur finally
triumph, suffered himself to be seduced from his duty to the King, and
consented to deliver up the town which had been confided to his keeping
to the Queen-mother and her adherents. This important object achieved,
Marie, who was aware that should the royal troops march upon La Capelle
it would be impossible to withstand their attack, hastened to entreat
the help of the Archduchess in case of need, and also her permission to
retire to the Low Countries should the persecution of the Cardinal
ultimately compel her to fly from France.

The rapid successes of the King of Sweden in Germany, and the
extraordinary strength of the States-General in the United Provinces,
had greatly alarmed both the Emperor and the King of Spain; who were
consequently well pleased to encourage any internal agitation which
might so fully tend to occupy the attention of Louis as to prevent him
from rendering effective aid either to Gustavus, the United Provinces,
or the Protestant Princes of Germany, nearly the whole of whom were in
arms against the Emperor; and thus the request of Marie was eagerly
welcomed alike by Ferdinand, Philip, and Isabella, who pledged
themselves to assist her to the full extent of their power. The Court of
Brussels especially made her the most unqualified promises; and the
Archduchess, while assuring her that on her arrival she should be
received with all the honour due to her distinguished rank, was profuse
in her expressions of sympathy.

Thus, as we have shown, when Richelieu demanded and received the promise
of Marie de Medicis that she would not seek to leave Compiègne, she was
only awaiting a favourable opportunity to effect her escape, and this
was afforded by the evacuation of the garrison. Fearful, however, that
this new order might only be a snare laid for her by the Cardinal, and
aware that although the troops had left the town they were still
quartered in the environs, she affected to discredit the assurance of
the Maréchal that thenceforth he exercised no control over her
movements.

"I am not to be thus duped, Monsieur," was her cold reply. "Your men are
not far off; and I believe myself to be so thoroughly a prisoner that
henceforward I shall never leave the castle; even my walks shall be
restricted to the terrace."

When this determination on the part of his mother was communicated to
the King, he hastened to inform her that the troops should be withdrawn
to a distance from Compiègne; and to entreat that, in consideration for
her health, she would occasionally take the exercise by which alone it
could be preserved.

To this request she replied that she should obey his pleasure in all
things; and having thus, as she believed, removed all suspicion of her
purpose, she only awaited the conclusion of the necessary preparations
to carry it into execution.

On the 18th of July, at ten o'clock at night, the widow of Henri IV,
attended only by Madame du Fargis, who had secretly reached Compiègne in
order to bear her company during her flight, and by M. de la Mazure the
lieutenant of her guard, stepped into a carriage which had been prepared
for her, rapidly crossed the ferry, and took the road to La Capelle; but
before she could reach her destined haven, she was met by M. de Vardes,
who, with every demonstration of regret, informed her that her design
having by some extraordinary chance been suspected by Richelieu, the
Marquis his father, who was devoted to the minister, had been hurriedly
ordered to return to La Capelle, where he had arrived on the previous
evening; had shown himself to the garrison and magistrates; and had
commanded his son to leave the town upon the instant.

Agitated as she was, the Queen-mother did not fail even at that moment,
and, as some historians state, most justly, to suspect that she had been
betrayed either by the fears or the venality of the very individual
before her; but hastily offering her acknowledgments for his timely
warning, she repressed her resentment, and gave instant directions to
her attendants to proceed with all speed to Avesnes in Hainault. So well
was she obeyed that on the first day of her journey she travelled a
distance of twenty leagues, disregarding the entreaties of Madame du
Fargis, who represented to her the necessity of some temporary repose;
and persisting in her purpose so resolutely that on the 20th of July she
reached her destination, and placed herself beyond the reach of her
pursuers, who had, however, so languidly performed their duty that it
was openly declared that they had rather been despatched by Richelieu to
drive her from the kingdom than to compel her to remain within it.

On her arrival at Avesnes the royal fugitive was received with all
imaginable honour by the Marquis de Crèvecoeur, the Governor of the
fortress; the troops were under arms; and she was escorted by the
dignitaries of the city to the Hôtel-de-Ville, where she took up her
temporary residence. The Baron de Guépé was instantly despatched to
Brussels to announce her arrival to the Archduchess; and the Prince
d'Epinoy, the Governor of the county, waited upon her Majesty, to
entreat that she would remove to Mons, where Isabella was preparing to
welcome her. During her sojourn at Avesnes, Marie despatched three
letters to Paris, in which she respectively informed the King, the
Parliament, and the municipality of her reasons for leaving the country.

"Perceiving," she wrote in that which she addressed to her son, "that my
health was failing from day to day, and that it was the Cardinal's
intention to cause me to die between four walls, I considered that in
order to save my life and my reputation, I ought to accept the offer
which was made to me by the Marquis de Vardes, to receive me in La
Capelle, a town of which he is the Governor, and where you possess
absolute power. I therefore determined to go there. When I was within
three leagues of La Capelle the Marquis de Vardes informed me that I
could not enter that place, because he had given it into the hands of
his father. I leave you to imagine what was my affliction when I saw
myself so deceived, and pursued by a body of cavalry in order to hasten
me more speedily out of your kingdom. God has granted that the artifices
of the Cardinal should be discovered. The very individuals who
negotiated the affair have confessed that it was a plot of the
Cardinal's, in order to compel me to leave the country; an extreme
measure which I dreaded above all things, and which he passionately
desired." [157]

In reply to this letter Louis XIII wrote thus: "You will allow me, if
you please, Madame, to say that the act which you have just committed,
together with what has occurred for some time past, clearly discovers to
me the nature of your intentions, and that which I may in future expect
from them. The respect which I bear towards you prevents me from being
more explicit." [158]

The other letters of the Queen-mother, although calculated to excite
upon their publication a general hatred of the Cardinal, availed her
personal cause as little as that which she had addressed to the monarch.
Her flight was blamed by all classes throughout the country; and not the
slightest movement was made in her favour either by the Parliament or
the people. Richelieu was triumphant. He had at length succeeded in
throwing suspicion upon her movements, and in compelling her to share
the odium which he had hitherto borne alone; and although she saw
herself the honoured guest of the Princes with whom she had taken
refuge, the unfortunate Marie de Medicis soon became bitterly conscious
that she had lost her former hold on the affections of that France over
which she had once so proudly ruled. It is true that with the populace
the ill-fated Princess yet retained her popularity, but she owed a great
portion of this still-lingering affection to the general aversion of the
masses towards the Cardinal; and while they mourned and even wept over
her wrongs, they made no effort to enforce her justification.

On the invitation of the Prince d'Epinoy, Marie de Medicis, after a
short sojourn at Avesnes, proceeded to Mons, where she was welcomed with
salvos of artillery, and found all the citizens under arms in honour of
her arrival; and it was in the midst of the rejoicing consequent upon
her entry into that city, that she received the cold and stern reply of
Louis, of which we have quoted a portion above, and to which she
hastened to respond by a second letter, wherein she bitterly complained
of the harshness with which she had been treated; and refused to return
to France until the Cardinal should have been put upon his trial for
"his crimes and projects against the state." The letter thus concludes:
"I am your subject and your mother; do me justice as a King, love me as
a son. I entreat this of you with clasped hands."

The reception of the self-exiled Queen by the Archduchess Isabella,
whose noble and generous qualities have been extolled by all the
contemporary historians, was as warm and as sincere as though she had
welcomed a sister. The two Princesses wept together over the trials and
sufferings of the ill-fated Marie; nor was the sympathy of the
Archduchess confined to mere words. Every attention which the most
fastidious delicacy could suggest was paid to the wants and wishes of
the royal fugitive; and after a few days spent in the most perfect
harmony in the capital of Hainault, the Court removed to the summer
palace of Marimont, whence they ultimately proceeded to Brussels, where
the French Queen made her entry with great pomp, and was
enthusiastically received by all classes of the population.

From Brussels the illustrious ladies visited Antwerp, on the occasion of
the annual _kermesse_, or fair, where the inhabitants vied with each
other in doing honour to their distinguished guests. Six thousand
citizens, magnificently apparelled, were under arms during their stay;
and from the galleries of the quaint and picturesque old houses hung
draperies of damask, tapestry, and velvet, which blended their rich
tints with those of the banners that waved above the summits of the
public buildings, and from the masts of the shipping in the harbour.

Little could the unfortunate Marie de Medicis anticipate, when she thus
saw herself surrounded by the most unequivocal exhibition of respect and
deference ever displayed towards greatness in misfortune, that she
should but a few short years subsequently enter the city in which she
was now feasted and flattered, a penniless wanderer, only to be driven
out in terror and sickness, to seek a new shelter, and to die in
abject despair!

Ever sanguine, the Queen-mother even yet hoped for a propitious change
of fortune. She would not believe that Richelieu could ultimately
triumph over the natural affection of a son, evil as her experience had
hitherto proved; and when Isabella, in order to comply with the
necessary observances of courtesy, wrote to assure Louis XIII that so
far from intending any disrespect towards him by the reception which she
had given to his mother, she begged him rather to regard it as a
demonstration of her deference for himself; and at the same time offered
to assist by every means in her power in effecting a reconciliation
between them, Marie de Medicis deceived herself into the belief that
such a proposition coming from such a source would never be rejected;
while it is probable that had Louis been left to follow the promptings
of his own nature, which was rather weak than wicked, her anticipations
might at this period have been realized; but the inevitable Richelieu
was constantly beside him, to insinuate the foulest suspicions, and to
keep alive his easily-excited distrust of the motives of the
Queen-mother.

The despatches of Isabella were, moreover, entrusted to the Abbé
Carondelet, Deacon of the Cathedral of Cambrai, who, as the Cardinal was
well aware, considered himself aggrieved by the refusal to which he had
been subjected on his application for the bishopric of Namur; and who
would in consequence, as he did not fail to infer, be readily prevailed
upon to abandon the interests of the fugitive Queen. The event proved
the justice of his previsions. Carondelet was not proof against the
extraordinary honours which he received at the French Court, nor the
splendid presents of the King and his minister; and the man to whose
zeal and eloquence Isabella had confidently entrusted the cause of her
royal guest was, after the lapse of a few short days, heart and soul the
creature of Richelieu.[159]

The Cardinal found little difficulty in persuading the monarch that
Marie de Medicis must have had a full and perfect understanding with the
Spanish Cabinet before she would have ventured to seek an asylum within
their territories; an assertion which was so faintly combated by the
treacherous envoy of the Archduchess, that thenceforward the
protestations of the Queen-mother were totally disregarded, and the
triumph of Richelieu was complete. In consequence of this conviction,
Louis XIII published, in the month of August, a declaration which was
most injurious alike towards Marie de Medicis and Gaston d'Orléans.
Among other accusations, it asserted that "the evil counsellors of his
brother had driven him, contrary to the duty imposed by his birth, and
the respect which he owed to the person of his sovereign, to address to
him letters full of calumnies and impostures against the Government;
that he had accused, against all truth and reason, his very dear and
well-beloved cousin the Cardinal de Richelieu of infidelity and
enterprise against the person of his Majesty, that of the Queen-mother,
and his own; that for some time past the Queen-mother had also suffered
herself to be guided by bad advice; and that on his having entreated of
her to assist him by her counsels as she had formerly done, she had
replied that she was weary of public business; by which he had
discovered that she was resolved to second the designs of the Due
d'Orléans, and had consequently determined to separate from her, and to
request her to remove to Moulins, to which request she had refused to
accede; that having subsequently left Compiègne, she had taken refuge
with the Spaniards, and was unceasingly disseminating documents tending
to the subversion of the royal authority and of the kingdom itself; that
for all these reasons, confirming his previous declarations, he declared
guilty of _lèse-majesté_ and disturbers of the public peace all those
who should be proved to have aided the Queen-mother and the Duc
d'Orléans in resisting his authority, and of having induced them to
leave the kingdom, as well as those who had followed and still remained
with them; and that it was his will that proceedings should be taken
against them by the seizure of their property, and the abolition of all
their public offices, appointments, and revenues."

By this arbitrary act not only were the adherents of Marie de Medicis
and Gaston d'Orléans deprived of their property, but their own revenues
were confiscated to the Crown, and they at once found themselves without
pecuniary resources.[160] The calculations of Richelieu had been able,
for the faction of the fugitives was instantly weakened by so
unexpected an act of severity. Crippled in means, they could no longer
recompense the devotion of those individuals who had followed their
fortunes, many of whom had done so from a hope of future aggrandizement,
and who immediately retired without even an attempt at apology, in order
to secure themselves from ruin. When the unfortunate Queen would have
sacrificed her jewels to liquidate the claims which pressed the most
heavily upon her, she found the measure impossible, lest the King should
redemand them as the property of the Crown; and she consequently soon
saw herself reduced to the undignified expedient of subsisting upon the
generosity of the powers from whom she had sought protection.

While Louis was, to use the words of Mézeray, thus "dishonouring his
mother and his brother," and depriving them of the very means of
subsistence, he was overwhelming the Cardinal de Richelieu alike with
honours and with riches. The estate whence he derived his name was
erected into a duchy-peerage, and he was thenceforward distinguished by
the title of the Cardinal-Duke; while the government of Brittany having
become vacant by the death of the Maréchal de Thémines, it was also
conferred upon the omnipotent minister.[161]

At this period, indeed, it appeared as if Richelieu had overcome all
obstacles to his personal greatness; and although the crown of France
was worn by the son of Henri IV, the foot of the Cardinal was on the
neck of the nation. That he was envied and hated is most true, but he
was still more feared than either. No one could dispute his genius;
while all alike uttered "curses not loud but deep" upon his tyranny
and ambition.

The King had long become a mere puppet in his hands, leaving all state
affairs to his guidance, while he himself passed his time in hunting,
polishing muskets, writing military memoirs, or wandering from one
palace to another in search of amusement. Perpetually surrounded by
favourites, he valued them only as they contributed to his selfish
gratification, and abandoned them without a murmur so soon as they
incurred the displeasure of the Cardinal, to whom in his turn he clung
from a sense of helplessness rather than from any real feeling
of regard.

Bitterly, indeed, had Marie de Medicis deluded herself when she imagined
that anything was to be hoped from the affection of Louis XIII, who was
utterly incapable of such a sentiment; but who, in all the relations of
life, whether as son, as husband, as friend, or as sovereign, was ever
the slave of his own self-love.

On her arrival at Brussels, the Queen-mother had despatched M. de la
Mazure to inform the Duc d'Orléans of her flight from France, and of the
gracious reception which she had met from the Archduchess Isabella;
assuring him at the same time that having been apprised of his
intention to espouse the Princesse Marguerite, she not only gave her
free consent to the alliance, but was of opinion that it should be
completed without delay.

The Oratorian Chanteloupe[162], in whom she reposed the most unlimited
confidence, had followed Monsieur to Lorraine, and was empowered to
declare in her name to the Duke Charles that the contemplated marriage
met with her entire approval, upon certain conditions which were
immediately accepted, although it was considered expedient to defer
their execution until Gaston should, with the aid of his ally, have
placed himself at the head of a powerful army, which was to march upon
the French frontier in order to compel the King to withdraw his
opposition.

The marriage portion of the Princess had been fixed at a hundred
thousand pistoles, the greater portion of which sum was expended in
levying troops for the proposed campaign; and in less than six weeks an
army of ten or twelve thousand foot-soldiers and five thousand horse was
raised; while Gaston, full of the most extravagant hopes, prepared to
commence his expedition.

Meanwhile commissaries had been appointed by Richelieu to proceed with
the trial of the adherents of the Queen-mother and the Duc d'Orléans,
and the first victims of his virulence were two physicians and
astrologers accused of having, at the request of the royal exiles, drawn
the horoscope of the King, and predicted the period of his death. These
unfortunate men were condemned to the galleys for life. The Duc de
Roannois, the Marquis de la Vieuville, and the Comtesse du Fargis were
executed in effigy; while the property of the Comte de Moret, the
Comtesse his mother, the Ducs de Roannois, d'Elboeuf, and de Bellegarde,
the Marquises de Boissy, de la Vieuville, and de Sourdeac, and the
President Le Coigneux, was confiscated to the Crown.

The government of Picardy was transferred from the Duc d'Elboeuf to the
Duc de Chevreuse, and that of Burgundy from the Duc de Bellegarde to the
Prince de Condé; and thus the faction of the mal contents found itself
crippled alike in pecuniary resources and in moral power.

Towards the close of the year, intelligence of the designs of the Duc
d'Orléans having reached Paris, the King proceeded to Lorraine, in order
to arrest his movements; and despatched a messenger to Charles,
demanding to be informed of his motive for raising so strong an army;
and also if it were true that Monsieur contemplated a marriage with the
Princesse Marguerite, as he had been informed. In reply, the Lorraine
Prince assured the royal envoy that the troops had been levied with a
view to assist the Emperor against the King of Sweden; and that the
rumour which had spread in the French capital of an intended alliance
between his august guest and the Princess his sister was altogether
erroneous. No credence was, however, vouchsafed to this explanation, the
Cardinal already possessing sufficient evidence to the contrary; and
being, moreover, quite as anxious to deprive the Emperor of all
extraneous help as he was to circumvent the projects of Monsieur. A
second express was consequently forwarded a few days subsequently,
summoning Charles de Lorraine immediately to march his army beyond the
Rhine; and threatening in the event of his disobedience that the King
would forthwith attend the nuptials of his brother at the head of the
best troops in his kingdom.

This intimation sufficed to convince the Lorraine Prince that his only
safety was to be found in compliance, all the hopes which Gaston had
indulged of succour from France having failed him; and it was
accordingly resolved that the little army should proceed at once to
Germany under the command of Charles himself. Montsigot, the private
secretary of Monsieur, was at that period at Brussels, whither he had
been sent to inform the Queen-mother and the Archduchess Isabella of the
progress of affairs in Lorraine, and to solicit assistance in the
projected irruption into France which had been concerted with the
Spanish Cabinet. His application proved successful, and on different
occasions the Prince received from the sovereigns of the Low Countries
upwards of five hundred thousand florins. The threat of the King,
however, rendered a change of measures imperative; Puylaurens,[163] one
of the favourites of the Prince, was despatched in all haste to acquaint
the Court of Brussels with the failure of the contemplated campaign, and
to concert measures for a similar attempt during the ensuing year with
the ministers of Philip and Isabella; as well as to secure a retreat
for Monsieur in Flanders, should he find himself compelled to quit the
duchy of Lorraine.[164]

At the same time Marie de Medicis despatched the Chevalier de Valençay
to Madrid, with orders to explain to Philip of Spain the precise nature
of her position, and to solicit his interference in her behalf; but
after long deliberation the Spanish ministers induced his Majesty not to
compromise himself with France by affording any direct assistance to the
Queen-mother, and to excuse himself upon the plea of the numerous wars
in which he was engaged, especially that against the Dutch which had
been fomented by the French Cabinet, and which had for some time cruelly
harassed his kingdom. He, however, assured the royal exile of his deep
sympathy, and of his intention to urge upon the Infanta Isabella the
expediency of alleviating to the utmost extent of her power the
sufferings of her august guest.

Philip and his Cabinet could afford to be lavish of their words, but
they did not dare to brave the French cannon on the Pyrenees.[165]  At
the close of the year Charles de Lorraine led back his decimated army
from Germany; and the marriage of Gaston with the Princesse Marguerite
shortly afterwards took place. There was, however, nothing regal in the
ceremony, the presence of Louis XIII at Metz rendering the contracting
parties apprehensive that should their intention transpire, they would
be troubled by a host of unwelcome guests. Thus the Cardinal de
Lorraine, Bishop of Toul, and brother to the reigning Duke, dispensed
with the publication of the banns, and permitted the ceremony to take
place in one of the convents of Nancy, where a monk of Cîteaux performed
the service at seven o'clock in the evening; the only witnesses being
the Duc de Vaudemont, the father of the bride, the Abbesse de Remiremont
by whom she had been brought up, Madame de la Neuvillette her governess,
and the Comte de Moret.[166]

It is asserted that the old Duc de Vaudemont was so apprehensive of the
unhappy results of a marriage contracted under such circumstances, that
on receiving the congratulations of those around him, he replied calmly:
"Should my daughter not be one day eligible to become Queen of France,
she will at least make a fitting Abbess of Remiremont." [167]

While Gaston d'Orléans was engrossed by his personal affairs, his
unhappy mother was engaged in making a fresh appeal to the justice and
affection of the King. Powerless and penniless in a foreign land, she
pined for a reconciliation with her son, and a return to her adopted
country. But the hatred and jealousy of Richelieu were still unappeased.
He had already robbed her of her revenues, caused an inventory of her
furniture, pictures, and equipages to be made, as though she were
already dead; imprisoned or banished the members of her household; and
had bribed the pens of a number of miserable hirelings to deluge France
with libellous pamphlets to her dishonour. There was no indignity to
which she had not been subjected through his influence; and on this last
occasion she was fated to discover that even the poor gratification of
justifying herself to her son and sovereign was to be henceforth denied
to her; as at the instigation of the Cardinal, instead of vouchsafing
any reply to the long and affecting letter which she had addressed to
him, Louis coldly informed the bearer of the despatch that should the
Queen again permit herself to write disparagingly of his prime minister,
he would arrest and imprison her messenger.

A short time subsequently, having learnt that the King had once more
offended the Parliament, Marie de Medicis. who had received information
that Richelieu was desirous of declaring war against Spain, and who was
naturally anxious to prevent hostilities between her son and the husband
of her daughter, resolved once more to forward a letter to the
Parliament, and to entreat of them to remonstrate with the King against
so lamentable a design. Yielding to a natural impulse she bitterly
inveighed in her despatch against the Cardinal-Duke, who, in order to
further his own aggrandizement, was about, should he succeed, to plunge
the nation into bloodshed, and to sever the dearest ties of kindred.
This letter was communicated to Richelieu, whose exasperation exceeded
all bounds; and it is consequently almost needless to add that it only
served to embitter the position of the persecuted exile.

On the 26th of December Charles de Lorraine, anxious to appease the
anger of the French King, proceeded to Metz, where he was well received
by Richelieu, who trusted, through his influence, to secure the
neutrality of the Duke of Bavaria. He, however, warned the Prince that
Louis would never consent to the marriage of Monsieur with the Princesse
Marguerite, nor permit him to make his duchy a place of refuge for the
French malcontents; and, finally, despite the banquets and festivals
which were celebrated in his honour, Charles became convinced that
unless he complied with the conditions of a treaty which was proposed to
him, he would not be allowed to return to his own territories.

Under this well-grounded impression the unfortunate young Prince had no
other alternative than to submit to the humiliation inflicted on him,
and on the 31st of December he signed a document by which he abjured for
the future every alliance save that with France; accorded a free passage
to the French armies through his duchy at all times; and pledged himself
not to harbour any individuals hostile to Louis, particularly the
Queen-mother or Monsieur; and, as a pledge of his promised obedience, he
delivered up his fortress of Marsal. Such was the result of his trust in
the clemency of the French King and his minister; but, far from having
been gained over to their cause, the Duc de Lorraine returned to Nancy
with a deep and abiding wrath at the indignity which had been forced
upon him; and an equally firm resolve to break through the compulsory
treaty on the first favourable opportunity.[168]


FOOTNOTES:

[144] Capefigue, vol. v. pp. 23-25. Sismondi, vol. xxiii. pp. 159, 160.
Bassompierre, _Mém_. vol. iii. p. 281. Brienne, _Mém_. vol. ii. pp.
23, 24.

[145] Capefigue, vol. v. pp. 31, 32. Bassompierre, _Mém_. vol. iii. p.
282.

[146] Le Vassor, vol. vi. pp. 628-632. Brienne, _Mém_. vol. ii. p. 24.
Mézeray, vol. xi. p. 384.

[147] Capefigue, vol. v. pp. 34, 35.

[148] Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 384-388. Capefigue, vol. v. pp. 32-34.

[149] Motteville, _Mém_. vol. i. pp. 375-377.

[150] Capefigue, vol. v. pp. 35-37. Brienne, _Mém_. vol. ii. pp. 25, 26.

[151] Capefigue, vol. v. pp. 37, 38.

[152] Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 388, 389.

[153] Brienne, _Mém_. vol. ii. pp. 26-28

[154] Capefigue, vol. v. p. 40

[155] Decrees of the Parliament.

[156] Jean Le Clerc, _Vie du Cardinal-Duc de Richelieu_, Cologne, 1695,
vol ii. pp. 7, 8.

[157] Le Vassor, vol. vi. pp. 735-741. _Mercure Français_, 1631. Siri,
_Mém. Rec. vol_. vii. pp. 332-336. Mézeray, vol. xi. p. 392. Sismondi,
vol. xxv. pp. 165, 166.

[158] Le Vassor, vol. vi. pp. 735, 736.

[159] Le Vassor, vol. vi. pp. 759-764.

[160] Le Clerc, vol. ii. p. 11.

[161] Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 392-395. Le Clerc, vol. ii. pp. 9-12

[162] Chanteloupe was the confessor, adviser, and secret agent of Marie
de Medicis.

[163] Antoine de l'Âge, Seigneur de Puylaurens, had possessed himself of
the entire confidence of Gaston d'Orléans, who, like his royal mother
and brother, was always the tool of his favourites; and his influence
over the weak and vacillating Prince at length became all-powerful,
although it was exercised more than once to the prejudice of his
confiding master. Puylaurens was elevated to the peerage after having in
some degree sold his patron to Richelieu, who in 1634 bestowed upon him,
from policy, the hand of his cousin Mademoiselle de Pont-Château; but by
whom he was immediately imprisoned, the Cardinal having long indulged a
hatred toward his person which he had determined to gratify. Puylaurens
died in captivity in the following year.

[164] Le Vassor, vol. vii. pp. 17-22.

[165] Capefigue, vol. v. pp. 121-129.

[166] Gaston d'Orléans, _Mém_. p. 123.

[167] Le Vassor, vol. vii. p. 25.

[168] Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. vii. p. 447. Sismondi, vol. xxiii. pp. 182,
183.



CHAPTER IX

1632

Gaston d'Orléans proceeds to Brussels--His reception--Vanity of
Monsieur--Exultation of the Spanish Cabinet--Montmorency abandons the
interests of Richelieu--Marie de Medicis solicits his support--He
consents to second the projects of Monsieur--The Queen-mother and the
Duc d'Orléans sell their jewels in order to raise troops for the
invasion of France--Trial of the Maréchal de Marillac--Marie and Gaston
exert themselves to save his life--He is executed--The adherents of the
two royal exiles create dissensions between the mother and son--Gaston
joins the Spanish army--Munificence of Isabella--Gaston marches upon
Burgundy--Remonstrance of Montmorency--An ill-planned campaign--Battle
of Castelnaudary--Slaughter of the rebel leaders--Cowardice of
Monsieur--Montmorency is made prisoner--Gaston endeavours to make terms
with the King--He abandons the cause of his mother, and that of his
allies--He stipulates for the pardon of Montmorency--Richelieu refuses
the condition--The treaty is signed by Monsieur--Jealousy of Louis
XIII--The miniature--Montmorency is conveyed to Toulouse, and put upon
his trial--Double-dealing of the Cardinal--Obduracy of the
King--Execution of Montmorency--Despair of the Queen-mother--Death of
the Comtesse du Fargis--The Jesuit Chanteloupe and Madame de
Comballet--A new conspiracy--The Archduchess Isabella refuses to deliver
up the servants of Marie de Medicis--Gaston retires to Burgundy.


By the Treaty of Vic, Charles de Lorraine was, as we have shown,
compelled to refuse all further hospitality to his royal brother-in-law;
while Gaston found himself necessitated to submit to a separation from
his young wife, and to proceed to the Spanish Low Countries, where
Isabella had offered him an asylum. The amiable Archduchess nobly
redeemed her pledge; and the reception which she accorded to the errant
Duke was as honourable as that already bestowed upon his mother.

The Marquis de Santa-Cruz, who had recently arrived from Italy to
command the Spanish forces in Flanders, was instructed to place himself
at the head of all the nobility of the Court, and to advance a league
beyond the city to meet the French Prince; while the municipal bodies of
Brussels awaited him at the gates. He was lodged in the State apartments
of the Palace, and all the expenses of his somewhat elaborate household
were defrayed by his magnificent hostess.

"I am sorry, Sir," said Isabella gracefully, as Gaston hastened to offer
his acknowledgments on his arrival, "that I am compelled to quarrel with
you on our first interview. You should have deferred your visit to me
until you had seen the Queen your mother."

"Madame," replied the Prince, "it will be infinitely more easy for me to
justify myself for having previously paid my respects to yourself, than
to recognize in an efficient manner the debt of obligation which I have
incurred towards you."

After the compliments incident to such a meeting had been exchanged
between Isabella and her new guest, Gaston received those of the Spanish
grandees and the Knights of the Golden Fleece; and at the close of this
ceremony he proceeded to the residence of Marie de Medicis, who embraced
him tenderly, and bade him remember that all her hopes of vengeance
against Richelieu, and a triumphant return to France, were centred in
himself. The vain and shallow nature of the Prince was flattered by the
position which he had thus suddenly assumed. Thwarted and humbled at the
Court of his brother by the intrigues of the Cardinal; distrusted by
those who had formerly espoused his cause, and who had suffered the
penalty of their misplaced confidence; and impoverished by the evil
issue of his previous cabals, he had long writhed beneath his enforced
insignificance; whereas he had now, in his new retreat, suddenly grown
into authority, and been the object of general homage; his wishes had
become laws, and his very follies met with applause and imitation. The
little Court of Brussels awoke into sudden animation; and pleasure
succeeded pleasure with a rapidity which afforded constant occupation to
his frivolous and sensual nature.

His arrival had filled the Spanish Cabinet with joy, as they foresaw
that the war which he contemplated against his brother promised to
weaken the power of the French King, who, while occupied in reducing
this new enemy, would for the time be rendered unable to continue the
powerful aid which he had hitherto afforded to the opponents of the
House of Austria; a circumstance whence their own prospects in Flanders
could not fail to profit largely.

The project of this contemplated war was based upon two conditions: in
the first place, on the help promised by Philip of Spain himself; and in
the second, upon the pledge given by the Duc de Montmorency[169] to
embrace the cause of Monsieur, and to receive him in Languedoc, of which
province he was the Governor, and which afforded immense facilities for
carrying out his purpose.

Of the defection of the Duc de Montmorency from his interests,
Richelieu, generally so well informed upon such subjects, did not
entertain the most remote suspicion, as during all the factions of the
Court, Montmorency had hitherto acted as a mediator, and had
consequently upon several occasions done good service to the minister;
but, proud as he was, alike of his illustrious descent and of his
personal reputation, the Duke, like all the other nobles about him,
still sought to aggrandize himself. The descendant of a long line of
ancestors who had successively wielded the sword of Connétable de
France, he desired, in his turn, to possess it; and disregarding the
fact that Richelieu, whose policy led him to oppose all increase of
power among the great nobles, had definitely abolished so dangerous a
dignity, he suffered himself to be induced, by his representations, to
resign the rank which he already held of Admiral of the French fleet, in
order that it might prove no impediment to his appointment to the
coveted Connétablie. The result of this imprudence had been that while
the Cardinal possessed himself of the vacated post under another title,
Montmorency found that he had resigned the substance to grasp a shadow;
as, on his application for the sword so long wielded by the heads of his
family, he was met by an assurance that thenceforward no such function
would be recognized at the Court of France. The mortified noble then
applied for the post of Marshal-General of the King's camps and armies,
which, save in name, would not have differed from the rank to which he
had previously aspired; and again he was subjected to a resolute
refusal. Indignant at the rejection of his claim, the Duke had, at the
close of the preceding year, retired to his government of Languedoc; and
his anger against the Court was heightened by a third repulse which he
experienced when soliciting the government of the city and fortress of
Montpellier.

The irritation which he felt under this complicated disappointment,
combined with the consciousness that he had been duped by the Cardinal,
and compelled to act as the subordinate of an individual so inferior to
himself in rank, created a disgust which, carefully as he endeavoured to
conceal it, soon became evident to those about him; nor was it long ere
Marie de Medicis and Monsieur were informed of his disaffection.
Confidential messengers were immediately despatched to invite the Duke
to espouse their cause, and they found a powerful ally in the Duchess,
Maria Felicia d'Ursini, who was a near relative of the Queen-mother.

Weary of inaction, anxious for revenge, and, perhaps, desirous of
emulating the generous example of the Duc d'Epernon, who had previously
declared himself the champion of Marie, Montmorency was at length
prevailed upon to consent to their solicitations, and even to pledge
himself to receive Gaston in Languedoc; although at the same time he
urged him not to quit Brussels until the end of August, in order that he
might have time to complete the necessary preparations.

The prospect of possessing so powerful an ally strengthened the hopes of
the royal exiles; and immediately upon the arrival of Monsieur in the
Low Countries, the mother and son began to concert measures for the
success of their difficult and dangerous undertaking. The first
impediment which they were called upon to surmount was their total
inability to defray the expenses of a powerful army, and to secure the
necessary funds for maintaining a secret correspondence with their
French adherents. The munificence of Isabella supplied all their
personal wants, but even her truly regal profusion could not be expected
to extend beyond this point; and it was ultimately agreed that both
parties should forward at all risks their jewels by a trusty messenger
to Amsterdam for sale.

This had scarcely been accomplished when intelligence reached the
Archducal Court of the trial of the Maréchal de Marillac, ostensibly for
peculation, but, as the Queen-mother and her son were only too well
aware, simply for his adherence to their own cause. In vain did they
protest against so iniquitous a measure; in vain did they entreat the
interference of their friends in his behalf, and even menace his judges
with their personal vengeance, individually and collectively, should
they be induced to pronounce his condemnation; Richelieu in his
plenitude of present power overruled all their efforts; and the
unfortunate Maréchal, who had incurred the hatred of the Cardinal from
his favour with Marie de Medicis, was sentenced to lose his head by the
majority of a single voice, and was executed on the following day; while
his unhappy brother expired a short time subsequently in the fortress of
Châteaudun.[170]

Meanwhile the Court of Brussels became a scene of dissension and
violence. The favourites of the Queen-mother and those of the Duc
d'Orléans were engaged in constant struggles for supremacy; the Duc de
Bellegarde and the President Le Coigneux had refused to accompany
Monsieur, who was consequently entirely under the influence of
Puylaurens, with whom he passed his nights in the most sensual and
degrading pleasures; while Marie de Medicis, under the direction of her
constant companion and confidant Chanteloupe, spent her time in
devotional duties, and in dictating to the hired writers by whom she had
surrounded herself, either pamphlets against the Cardinal, or petitions
to the Parliament of Paris.

Alarmed by the execution of Marillac, Monsieur, however, roused himself
from his trance of dissipation; and disregarding the entreaties of the
Duc de Montmorency, resolved to join the army which Gonzalez de Cordova,
the Spanish Ambassador, was concentrating at Trèves, at the instigation
of Charles de Lorraine, who was anxious to delay the threatened invasion
of his own duchy by the French troops.

On the 18th of May Gaston d'Orléans accordingly took leave of the Court
of Brussels; when the Infanta, not satisfied with having during the
space of four months defrayed all the outlay of his household,
accompanied her parting compliments with the most costly and munificent
gifts, not only to the Prince himself, but also to every nobleman and
officer in his service. About the neck of Monsieur she threw a brilliant
chain of carbuncles and emeralds, from which was suspended a miniature
portrait of the King of Spain. Numerous chests of wearing apparel,
linen, and other requisites for the forthcoming campaign, swelled his
slender baggage to a thoroughly regal extent; while her treasurer was
instructed to deliver into his hands the sum of one hundred thousand
_patagons_,[171] with which to defray the expenses of the journey.[172]

Having spent a fortnight at Trèves, and received the troops promised by
Philip of Spain, the Prince resolved at once to prosecute his intention
of entering France; a resolution which was earnestly combated by
Montmorency, who represented that he was yet unprovided with the
necessary funds for the maintenance of the troops, and with the means of
defence essential to the success of the enterprise. Urged, however, as
we have stated, by the Duc de Lorraine, and presuming upon the prestige
of his name, Gaston refused to listen to this remonstrance; and after
having traversed the territories of his brother-in-law, he hurriedly
pursued his march through Burgundy at the head of his slender body of
Spanish cavalry. Contrary, however, to his expectations, he was not
joined by a single reinforcement upon the way, although his position as
heir-presumptive to the Crown secured him from any demonstration of
resistance. Langres and Dijon closed their gates against him, the
magistrates excusing themselves upon the plea that they held those
cities for the King; and on his arrival in the Bourbonnais, after
devastating all the villages upon his route, the imprudent Prince was
met by a request from M. de Montmorency that he would march his troops
through some other province, as no sufficient preparations had yet been
completed for his security in Languedoc. Once embarked in his rash
attempt, however, Gaston disdained to comply with this suggestion; and
pursued his way towards the government of the Duke, closely followed by
ten thousand men, who had been despatched against him by Richelieu,
under the command of the Maréchal de la Force.

Our limits will not permit us to do more than glance at the progress of
this rash and ill-planned campaign, which, in its result, cost some of
the best and noblest blood in France. Suffice it that the Cardinal,
alarmed by the rapidity with which Monsieur advanced towards Languedoc,
and rendered still more apprehensive by the defection of the
Maréchal-Duc de Montmorency, lost no time in inducing the sovereign to
place himself at the head of his army, in order to intimidate the rebels
by his presence; while, on the other hand, the States of Languedoc had
been induced through the persuasions of their Governor to register (on
the 22nd of July) a resolution by which they invited the Duc d'Orléans
to enter their province, and to afford them his protection; they
pledging themselves to supply him with money, and to continue faithful
to his interests.[173]

Montmorency, on his side, had received from Spain a promise that he
should be forthwith reinforced by six thousand men, and a considerable
amount of treasure for the payment of the troops; but Philip and his
ministers, satisfied with having kindled the embers of intestine war in
the rival kingdom, suddenly abated in their zeal; no troops were
furnished, and the whole extent of their pecuniary aid did not exceed
the sum of fifty thousand crowns, which did not, moreover, reach their
destination until the struggle was decided.

Thus Montmorency found himself crippled on all sides; and when the
rashness of Gaston had directed the march of the royal army upon
Languedoc, he was in no position to make head against them. Nevertheless
the brave spirit of the Duke revolted at the idea of submission, and he
accordingly prepared to protect himself as best he might by the seizure
of a few fortresses; and, finally, he received Monsieur at Lunel, on the
30th of July. Their combined forces amounted only to two thousand
foot-soldiers, three thousand horse, and a number of volunteers,
together with three pieces of ordnance; while, being totally destitute
of funds, there could remain but little doubt as to the issue of the
expedition.

One faint hope of success, however, still animated the insurgents. The
King, although upon his march, had not yet joined the little army of the
Maréchal de Schomberg, which consisted only of a thousand infantry and
twelve hundred horse, while he was totally destitute of artillery; and
Montmorency at once perceived that hostilities must be commenced before
the junction of the royal forces could take place. Schomberg had taken
up his position near Castelnaudary, in order of battle, on the 1st of
September; and, acting upon the conviction we have named, Montmorency
determined on an attack, which, should it prove successful, could not
fail to be of essential service to the interests of Monsieur. It was
accordingly resolved that the Maréchal-Duc should assume the command of
the vanguard, while Gaston placed himself at the head of the main body.
Montmorency was accompanied by the Comtes de Moret, de Rieux, and de la
Feuillade, who, after some slight skirmishes, abandoning the
comparatively safe position which they occupied, recklessly pushed
forward to support a forlorn hope which had received orders to take
possession of an advantageous post. M. de Moret, whose impetuosity
always carried him into the heart of the _mêlée_, was the first to
charge the royal cavalry, among whom he created a panic which threw them
into the utmost disorder; and this circumstance was no sooner
ascertained by Montmorency than, abdicating his duties as a general, he
dashed forward at the head of a small party to second the efforts of his
friend. The error was a fatal one, however, for he had scarcely cut his
way through the discomfited horsemen when some companies of Schomberg's
infantry, who had been placed in ambush in the ditches, suddenly rose
and fired a volley with such precision upon the rebel troop, that De
Moret, De Rieux, and La Feuillade, together with a number of inferior
officers, were killed upon the spot, while Montmorency himself fell to
the ground covered with wounds, his horse having been shot under him.
And meanwhile Gaston looked on without making one effort to avenge the
fate of those who had fallen in his cause; and he no sooner became
convinced that his best generals were lost to him than, abandoning the
wounded to the tender mercies of the enemy, he retreated from the scene
of action without striking a blow.[174]

As, faint from loss of blood, Montmorency lay crushed beneath the weight
of his heavy armour, he gasped out: "Montmorency! I am dying; I ask only
for a confessor." His cries having attracted the attention of M. de St.
Preuil, a Captain of the Guards, who endeavoured to extricate him, he
murmured, as he drew an enamelled ring from his finger: "Take this,
young man, and deliver it to the Duchesse de Montmorency." He then
fainted from exhaustion, and his captors hastened to relieve him of his
cuirass and his cape of buff leather, which was pierced all over by
musket balls. While they were thus engaged, the Marquis de Brézé,[175]
who had been informed of his capture, hastened to the spot, and, taking
his hand, bade him be of good cheer; after which he caused him to be
placed upon a ladder covered with cloaks and straw, and thus conveyed
him to Castelnaudary.[176]

The retreat of Gaston from this ill-fated field was accomplished in the
greatest disorder; on every side whole troops of his cavalry were to be
seen galloping madly along without order or combination; and it was
consequently evident to Schomberg that nothing could prevent Monsieur
and the whole of his staff from falling into his hands, should he see
fit to make them prisoners. The Maréchal possessed too much tact,
however, to make such an attempt, as in the one case he must incur the
everlasting enmity of the heir-presumptive to the Crown, or, in the
other, Gaston, roused by a feeling of self-preservation, might attempt
to renew the conflict, and finally retrieve the fortunes of the day. By
the fall of Montmorency, moreover, sufficient had been accomplished to
annihilate the faction of Monsieur; and thus the royal general offered
no impediment to the retreat of the Prince, whom he permitted to retire
in safety to Béziers with the remnant of his army.[177]

The subsequent bearing of Gaston d'Orléans was worthy of his conduct at
Castelnaudary; as, only three days after the battle, he suffered himself
to be persuaded that his best policy would be to throw himself upon the
clemency of the King. His infantry disbanded themselves in disgust, and
he was compelled to pawn his plate in order to defray the arrears of his
foreign allies; while the province of Languedoc, which regarded him as
the destroyer of its idolized Governor, returned to its allegiance, and
refused to recognize his authority.

Yet, notwithstanding these circumstances, there was a romance and an
interest attached to the position of the Prince, combating and
struggling as he affected to be, not merely for a recognition of his own
rights, but also for those of a widowed and outraged mother, which, had
he proved himself worthy of his exalted station, must have ensured to
him the regard and co-operation of a brave and generous nation; but
Gaston d'Orléans had been weighed in the balance, and had been found
wanting in all the attributes of his rank and birth, and a deep disgust
had replaced among the people the enthusiasm which his misfortunes had
previously excited. He sacrificed his friends without a pang, save in so
far as their fall involved his own success; he was ever as ready to
submit as he had been to revolt, when his personal interests demanded
the concession; and thus, satisfied that in every case he was wholly
governed by a principle of self-preservation, all save those whose
individual fortunes were hinged upon his own fell from him without
hesitation and without remorse.

Convinced that by the capture of the Duc de Montmorency he was rendered
powerless, the weak and selfish Prince, as we have said, sought only to
protect himself from the effects of his revolt; and, accordingly, when
he became aware that he could no longer contend, he expressed an
earnest desire to effect a reconciliation with his royal brother;
although, still infatuated by vanity, he proposed conditions as
exaggerated as though his position enabled him to enforce them in the
event of their rejection. It was, however, an easy task for the
negotiators to convince him that he overestimated his power, and to
induce him in a few days to make concessions as dishonourable as they
were humiliating. Not only did he consent to discontinue all intercourse
with the Courts of Spain and Lorraine, but also to forsake the interests
of the unhappy Queen-mother, who had fondly hoped to find in him a
protector and an avenger, and to abandon to the justice of the King all
those of his adherents who had incurred the royal displeasure, with the
sole exception of his personal household; in whose joint names M. de
Puylaurens pledged himself to reveal "all the particulars of such of
their past transactions as might prove injurious to the state or to the
interests of the sovereign, and to those who had the honour of being in
his service."

Even Richelieu himself could demand no more; and, accordingly, upon
these degrading terms, Monsieur received a written assurance from the
King that thenceforward he would receive him once more into favour,
re-establish him in his possessions, and permit him to reside upon that
one of his estates which should be selected by the royal pleasure,
together with the members of his household who were included in the
amnesty.  This treaty was signed on the 29th of September, and the
residence assigned to Gaston was Champigny, a château which had
originally belonged to the ducal family of Montpensier.

Justice must, however, be rendered to the Duc d'Orléans in so far that
before he could be induced to put his hand to this degrading document he
made a vigorous effort to procure the pardon of the Maréchal de
Montmorency; but the attempt was frustrated by Richelieu, who, feeling
that the Prince was in the toils, would admit of no such concession.

The agents of the Cardinal were instructed to assure Monsieur that he
had no hope of escape for himself save in an entire submission to the
will of the sovereign; and this argument proved, as he was aware that it
would do, all powerful with the individual to whom it was addressed;
while he was, moreover, assured that his own pertinacity upon this point
could only tend to injure the interests of Montmorency, which might be
safely confided to the clemency of his royal master, and that his
personal submission and obedience must exercise the most favourable
influence upon the fortunes of both.

Easily persuaded where his own interests were involved, Gaston
accordingly ceased to persist, and the young and gallant Duke was
abandoned to the vengeance of the Cardinal. Louis XIII was at Lyons when
he received intelligence of the defeat of Monsieur; and he was no sooner
assured that the rebels had not taken a single prisoner, than he
determined to make an example of every leader who had espoused their
cause whom he might encounter on his journey. Ere he reached his
destination three noble heads fell by the hand of the executioner; but
still his vengeance was not sated; nor did the exalted rank and
brilliant reputation of Montmorency serve for an instant to turn him
from his purpose. Private animosity closed all the avenues of mercy; and
the indiscretion of one meddling spirit sealed the death-warrant of the
gallant prisoner. It is asserted that when he was captured Montmorency
wore upon his arm a costly diamond bracelet, containing the portrait of
Anne of Austria, which having been perceived by Bellièvre, the
commissary of Schomberg's army, who was greatly attached to the noble
captive, he affected, in order to conceal the circumstance from less
friendly eyes, to consider it expedient to subject the prisoner to a
judicial interrogatory preparatory to his trial; and when he had seated
himself beside him, ostensibly for this purpose, he succeeded with some
difficulty in wrenching the miniature from its setting. But,
notwithstanding all his precaution, the desired object was not
accomplished without exciting the attention of some individual who
hastened to apprise the Cardinal of what he had discovered, who at once
communicated the fact to Louis, embittering his intelligence by comments
which did not fail to arouse the indignation of the King, and to revive
his jealousy of his wife, while they at the same time increased his
exasperation against the rebel Duke.[178]

Montmorency was removed from Castelnaudary to Lectoure, and thence,
still suffering cruelly from his wounds, to Toulouse, reaching the
gates at the very moment when the bells of the city were ringing a
joyous peal in honour of the arrival of the King, who had hastened
thither in order to counteract by his presence any efforts which might
be made by the judges to save his life. The Duke had been escorted
throughout his journey by eight troops of cavalry well armed, his great
popularity in the province having rendered the Cardinal apprehensive
that an attempt would be made to effect his rescue; and while the
glittering train of the sovereign was pouring into the streets amid the
flourish of trumpets and the acclamations of the populace, the
unfortunate prisoner was conveyed to the Hôtel-de-Ville, where he was
confined in a small chamber on the summit of the belfry-tower, "so
that," says a quaint old historian, "the ravens came about him to sport
among the stone-crop. A hundred of the Swiss Guards were on duty near
his person night and day to prevent his holding any communication with
the _capitouls_,[179] the citizens, and the public companies of the
great city of Toulouse." [180]

Immediate preparations were made for the trial of the illustrious
captive; Richelieu, who could ill brook delay when he sought to rid
himself of an enemy, having prevailed upon the King to summon a
Parliament upon the spot, instead of referring the case to the
Parliament of Paris, by whom it should fitly have been tried. Nor was
this the only precaution adopted by the vindictive Cardinal, who also
succeeded in inducing Louis to nominate the members of the Court, which
was presided over by Châteauneuf, the Keeper of the Seals, who had
commenced his career as a page of the Connétable de Montmorency, the
father of the prisoner.

As the Marshal-Duke had been taken in arms against the sovereign, and
frankly avowed his crime, his fate was soon decided. He was declared
guilty of high treason, and condemned to lose his head, his property to
be confiscated, and his estates to be divested of their prerogative
of peerage.

Not only during his trial, however, but even after his sentence had been
pronounced, the most persevering efforts were made by all his friends to
obtain its revocation. But Louis, as one of his historians has aptly
remarked, was never so thoroughly a King as when he was called upon to
punish,[181] a fact of which Richelieu was so well aware that he did not
hesitate to affect the deepest commiseration for the unhappy Duke, and
even to urge some of the principal nobles of the Court to intercede in
his behalf.

The Princesse de Condé--to win whose love Henri IV had been about to
provoke a European war--deceived by the treacherous policy of the
Cardinal, threw herself at his feet to implore him to exert his
influence over the monarch, and to induce him to spare the life of her
beloved brother; but Richelieu, instead of responding to this appeal, in
his turn cast himself on his knees beside her, and mingled his tears
with hers, protesting his utter inability to appease the anger of his
royal master.[182]

The Duc d'Epernon, who, notwithstanding his affection for Montmorency,
had declined to join the faction of Monsieur, despite his age and
infirmities also hastened to Toulouse, and in the name of all the
relatives and friends of the criminal, implored his pardon as a boon.
Nothing, however, could shake the inflexible nature of Louis, and
although he did not attempt to interrupt the appeal of the Duke further
than to command him to rise from his kneeling posture, it was
immediately evident to all about him, from his downcast eyes, and the
firm compression of his lips, that there was no hope for the culprit.

The resolute silence of the King ere long impressed M. d'Epernon with
the same conviction; and, accordingly, having waited a few moments for a
reply which was not vouchsafed, he requested the royal permission to
leave the city.

"You are at liberty to do so at your pleasure, M. le Duc," said Louis
coldly; "and I grant your request the more readily that I shall shortly
follow your example."

Nor were the citizens less eager to obtain the release of their beloved
Duke; and the house in which the King had taken up his temporary
residence was besieged by anxious crowds who rent the air with cries of
"Mercy! Mercy! Pardon! Pardon!" On one occasion their clamour became so
loud that Louis angrily demanded the meaning of so unseemly an uproar,
when the individual to whom he had addressed himself ventured to reply
that what he heard was a general appeal to his clemency, and that should
his Majesty be induced to approach the window, he would perhaps take
pity upon the people.

"Sir," replied Louis haughtily, "were I to be governed by the
inclinations of my people, I should cease to be a King!" [183]

From any other sovereign than Louis XIII a revocation of the sentence
just pronounced against one so universally beloved as Montmorency might
well have been anticipated, but the son of Henri IV was inaccessible to
mercy where his private feelings were involved; and not only did he
resist the entreaties and remonstrances by which he was overwhelmed, but
he even refused to suffer the Duchesse de Montmorency, the Princesse de
Condé, and the Duc d'Angoulême--the wife, sister, and brother-in-law of
the prisoner--to approach him. He was weary of the contest, and eager
for the termination of the tragic drama in which he played so
unenviable a part.

While all was lamentation and despair about him, and the several
churches were thronged with persons offering up prayers for the
preservation of the condemned noble, the King coldly issued his orders
for the execution, only conceding, as a special favour, that it should
take place in the court of the Hôtel-de-Ville, and that the hands of the
prisoner should not be tied.[184]

Thus, on the 30th of October, the very day of his trial, perished Henri
de Montmorency, who died as he had lived, worthy of the great name which
had been bequeathed to him by a long line of ancestry, and mourned by
all classes in the kingdom.

The unfortunate Marie de Medicis, who received constant intelligence of
the movements of the rebel army, had wept bitter tears over the reverses
of her errant son; but she had no sooner ascertained that by the Treaty
of Béziers he had pledged himself to abandon her interests, than her
grief was replaced by indignation, and she complained vehemently of the
treachery to which she had been subjected. With her usual amiability,
the Archduchess Isabella sought by every means in her power to
tranquillize her mind, representing with some reason that the apparent
want of affection and respect exhibited by Gaston on that occasion had
probably been forced upon him by the danger of his own position, and
entreating that she would at least suffer the Prince to justify himself
before she condemned him for an act to which he was in all probability
compelled by circumstances. But the iron had entered into the mother's
soul, and the death of the Comtesse du Fargis, which shortly afterwards
took place, added another pang to those which she had already endured.

The beautiful lady of honour had never been seen to smile since she was
made acquainted with the fact of her mock trial and her execution in
effigy in one of the public thoroughfares of Paris. The disgrace which,
as she believed, would thenceforward attach to her name, not only
wounded her sense of womanly dignity, but also broke her heart, and a
rapid consumption deprived the unhappy Queen-mother of one of the most
devoted of her friends.

It can scarcely be matter of surprise that, rendered desperate by her
accumulated disappointments and misfortunes, Marie de Medicis at this
moment welcomed with avidity the suggestions of Chanteloupe, who urged
her to revenge upon the Cardinal the daily and hourly mortifications to
which she was exposed. At first she hearkened listlessly to his
counsels, for she was utterly discouraged; but ere long, as he unfolded
his project, she awoke from her lethargy of sorrow, and entered with
renewed vigour into the plan of vengeance which he had concerted.
Whether it were that she hoped to save the life of Montmorency, of whose
capture she had been informed, or that she trusted to effect her own
return to France by placing herself in a position to make conditions
with Richelieu, it is at least certain that she did not hesitate to
subscribe to his views, and to lend herself to the extraordinary plot of
the reverend Oratorian.

"Your Majesty is aware," said Chanteloupe, "that Monsieur has not dared
to avow his marriage with the Princesse Marguerite; and I have sure
information that the minister who endeavoured to effect a union between
his favourite niece and the Cardinal de Lorraine without success, has
now the audacity to lift his eyes to your own august son. The Queen is
childless, and Richelieu aspires to nothing less than a crown for La
Comballet."

"_Per Dio!_" exclaimed Marie, trembling with indignation.

"The lady is at present residing in the Petit Luxembourg," pursued the
monk calmly; "in the very hôtel given by your Majesty to his Eminence
during the period when he possessed your favour--"

"Given!" echoed the Queen-mother vehemently. "Yes, given as you say, but
on condition that whenever I sought to reclaim it, I was at liberty to
do so on the payment of thirty thousand livres; and have you never heard
what was the result of this donation? When he proved unworthy of my
confidence I demanded the restoration of the hôtel upon the terms of the
contract, but when the document was delivered into my hands, I
discovered that for livres he had substituted crowns, and that in lieu
of 'whenever she shall desire it,' he had inserted 'when the King shall
desire it.' I remonstrated against this treachery, but I remonstrated in
vain; Louis pronounced against me, and the Cardinal established his
wanton niece in my desecrated mansion, where she has held a Court more
brilliant than that of the mother of her sovereign. Nay," continued the
Queen, with increasing agitation, "the lingering atmosphere of royalty
which yet clings to the old halls has so increased the greatness of the
low-born relative of Jean Armand du-Plessis, that she has deemed it
necessary to destroy one of the walls of my own palace in order to
enlarge the limits of that which she inhabits." [185]

"It were well," said Chanteloupe, with a meaning smile, "to prove to the
lady that it is possible to exist in a more narrow lodging. The King is
absent from Paris. The Luxembourg is thinly peopled; and La Comballet
would serve admirably as a hostage."

"_Veramente, padre mio_," exclaimed Marie de Medicis, bounding from her
seat; "the thing is well imagined, and cannot fail to do us good
service. Richelieu loves his niece--too well, if we are to credit the
scandal-mongers of the Court--and with La Comballet in our hands we may
dictate whatever terms we will. To work, _padre_, to work; there is
little time to lose."

Such was the plot to which the Queen-mother imprudently accorded her
consent; and for a time everything appeared to promise success. The
nephew of Chanteloupe and a confidential valet of Marie herself were
entrusted with the secret, and instructed to make the necessary
arrangements. Relays were prepared between Paris and Brussels, and nine
or ten individuals were engaged to assist in the undertaking.
Carefully, however, as these had been selected, two of their number,
alarmed by the probable consequences of detection, had no sooner arrived
in the French capital than they revealed the plot, and the whole of the
conspirators were committed to the Bastille, while information of the
intended abduction was immediately forwarded to the King. Irritated by
such an attempt, Louis commanded that they should instantly be put upon
their trial; and at the same time he wrote with his own hand to
congratulate Madame de Comballet on her escape, and to assure her that
had she been conveyed to the Low Countries, he would have gone to
reclaim her at the head of fifty thousand men. In return for this
condescension the niece of Richelieu entreated the King to pardon the
culprits, a request with which he complied the more readily as the names
of several nobles of the Court were involved in the attempt, as well as
that of the Queen-mother.[186]

The Cardinal, however, proved less forgiving than the destined victim of
this ill-advised and undignified conspiracy. Enraged against Marie de
Medicis, and anxious to make her feel the weight of his vengeance, he
found little difficulty in inducing Louis to request Isabella to deliver
up to him Chanteloupe and the Abbé de St. Germain;[187] but the
Archduchess excused herself, declaring that as the two ecclesiastics in
question were members of the Queen-mother's household, she could not
consent to be guilty of an act of discourtesy towards her Majesty by
which she should violate the duties of hospitality; and the only
immediate result of the notable plot of the reverend Oratorian was the
increased enmity of Richelieu towards his former benefactress.

Monsieur had no sooner ascertained the fate of Montmorency, whose life
he had been privately assured would be spared in the event of his
acknowledging his fault, than he at once felt that should he remain
longer in France, not only his own safety might be compromised, but that
he must also sacrifice the confidence of his few remaining adherents; as
no one would be rash enough to brave the vengeance of the minister in
his cause, should he not openly testify his indignation at so signal an
offence. A rumour, moreover, reached him that several of the officers of
his household were to be withdrawn from his service; and Puylaurens soon
succeeded in convincing him that should he not leave the kingdom, he
must be satisfied to live thenceforward in complete subjection to
Richelieu; who, when he should ultimately ascertain the fact of his
marriage with the Princesse Marguerite, would not fail to have it
dissolved.

Already predisposed to the measure, the Prince yielded at once to the
arguments of his favourite, and secretly left Tours on the 6th of
November, accompanied only by fifteen or twenty of his friends. On his
way to Burgundy, at Montereau-faut-Yonne, he wrote a long letter to the
King, declaring that should his Majesty feel any displeasure at his thus
leaving the country, he must attribute his having done so to his
indignation against those who had caused him to take the life of the Duc
de Montmorency, to save which he would willingly have smothered his just
resentment, and sacrificed all his personal interests. He also
complained bitterly that he had received a pledge to that effect which
had been violated; and declared that he had been assured in the name of
the King that should he march towards Roussillon it would seal the fate
of the Duke, from which declaration he had inferred that by obeying the
will of his Majesty he should ensure his safety; whereas, after having
condescended to the most degrading proofs of submission, no regard had
been shown to his feelings, and no respect paid to his honour. Finally,
he announced his intention of seeking a safe retreat in a foreign
country, alleging that from the treatment to which he had been subjected
in France, he had every reason to dread the consequences of the
insignificance into which he had fallen there.

In reply to this communication Louis coldly observed: "The conditions
which I accorded to you are so far above your pretensions, that their
perusal alone will serve as an answer to what you have advanced. I will
not reply to your statement that the prospect which was held out to you
of Montmorency's life caused you to submit to those terms. Every one was
aware of your position. Had you another alternative?" [188]

Had Gaston been other than he was, the King would have been spared the
question; for it is certain that had Monsieur only possessed sufficient
courage to make the attempt, nothing could have prevented him after his
retreat from Castelnaudary from retiring into Roussillon; but to the
very close of his life, the faction-loving Prince always withdrew after
the first check, and sought to secure his own safety, rather than to
justify the expectations which his high-sounding professions were so
well calculated to create.


FOOTNOTES:

[169] Henri II, Due de Montmorency, Governor of Languedoc, etc., was the
son of Henri I, Due de Montmorency, Connétable de France. He was born on
the 30th of April 1595, and was created Admiral of France when only
eighteen years of age. His personal attractions, combined with his high
moral qualities and singular accomplishments, secured to him great and
deserved popularity. After having rendered the most brilliant services
to his country, he was induced to espouse the cause of Gaston d'Orléans,
and having imprudently exposed himself at the battle of Castelnaudary,
he was made prisoner, put upon his trial for high treason at the
instigation of the Cardinal de Richelieu, and executed at Toulouse on
the 30th of October 1632.

[170] Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 401-405. Capefigue, vol. v. pp. 90-105.
Sismondi, vol. xxiii. pp. 188-190. Le Vassor, vol. vii. pp. 192-217.

[171] A Spanish coin, equal in value to a French crown.

[172] Gaston d'Orléans, _Mém_. p. 131. Capefigue, vol. v. p. 129.

[173] Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. vii. p. 552.

[174] Le Clerc, vol. ii. pp. 58-60.

[175] Urbain de Maillé, Marquis de Brézé, the brother-in-law of the
Cardinal de Richelieu.

[176] Capefigue, vol. v. p. 142.

[177] Mézeray, vol. xi. p. 411.

[178] Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 415, 416.

[179] Principal magistrates of Toulouse.

[180] Histoire véritable de tout ce qui s'est fait et passé en la ville
de Tholoze, en la mort de M. de Montmorency, 1632.

[181] Sismondi, vol. xxiii. p. 212.

[182] Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. vii. p. 565.

[183] Pontis, _Mém_. vol. ii. p. 37.

[184] Le Vassor, vol. vii. p. 216.

[185] Le Clerc, vol. ii. pp. 83, 84.

[186] Le Vassor, vol. vii. pp. 412, 413. Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. vii. p.
575. Le Clerc, vol. ii. pp. 82-84.

[187] The Abbé de St. Germain was the author of a multitude of satirical
pamphlets, powerfully written, and directed against the administration
of Richelieu.

[188] Sismondi, vol. xxiii. pp. 212, 213. Le Clerc, vol. ii. pp. 84-86.
Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 417, 418. Le Vassor, vol. vii. pp. 421-427. Siri,
_Mém. Rec_. vol. vii. p. 578. Capefigue, vol. v. pp. 195-201.



CHAPTER X

1633

Monsieur returns to Flanders--The Queen-mother retires in displeasure to
Malines--Influence of Chanteloupe--Selfishness of Monsieur--Death of
Gustavus Adolphus--Richelieu seeks to withdraw the Queen-mother and her
son from the protection of Spain--Marie is urged to retire to
Florence--The Tuscan envoy--Two diplomatists--Mortification of the
Queen-mother--She desires to seek an asylum in England--Charles I.
hesitates to grant her request--Helpless position of Marie de
Medicis--The iron rule of Richelieu--The Cardinal-dramatist--Gaston
avows his marriage to the King--Louis enters Lorraine, and takes
Nancy--Madame escapes to the Low Countries--Her reception at the
Court of Brussels--Marie de Medicis takes up her residence at
Ghent--Serious indisposition of the Queen-mother--She solicits
the attendance of her physician Vautier, and is refused--Hypocrisy
of the Cardinal--Indignation of the dying Queen--She rejects the
terms of reconciliation offered by the King--Attachment of her
adherents--Richelieu negotiates the return of Gaston to France--The
favourite of Monsieur--Gaston refuses to annul his marriage--Alfeston is
broken on the wheel for attempting the life of the Cardinal--The
Queen-mother is accused of instigating the murder--The bodyguard
of the Cardinal-Minister is increased--Estrangement of Monsieur
and his mother--Madame endeavours to effect the dismissal of
Puylaurens--Insolence of the favourite--Heartlessness of Monsieur--Marie
solicits permission to return to France--She is commanded as a condition
to abandon her followers, and refuses--Death of the Archduchess
Isabella--Gaston negotiates, and consents to the most humiliating
concessions.


After having forwarded his manifesto to the King, Gaston d'Orléans
proceeded without further delay to the Low Countries, and once more
arrived in Brussels at the close of January 1633, where he was received
by the Spaniards (who had borne all the expenses of his campaign, whence
they had not derived the slightest advantage) with as warm a welcome as
though he had realized all their hopes. The principal nobles of the
Court and the great officers of the Infanta's household were commanded
to show towards him the same respect and deference as towards herself;
he was reinstated in the gorgeous apartments which he had formerly
occupied; and the sum of thirty thousand florins monthly was assigned
for the maintenance of his little Court.[189] One mortification,
however, awaited him on his arrival; as the Queen-mother, unable to
suppress her indignation at his abandonment of her interests, had, on
the pretext of requiring change of air, quitted Brussels on the previous
day, and retired to Malines, whither he hastened to follow her. But,
although Marie consented to receive him, and even expressed her
satisfaction on seeing him once more beyond the power of his enemies,
the wound caused by his selfishness was not yet closed; and she
peremptorily refused to accompany him back to the capital, or to change
her intention of thenceforth residing at Ghent. In vain did Monsieur
represent that he was compelled to make every concession in order to
escape the malice of the Cardinal, and to secure an opportunity of
rejoining her in Flanders; whenever the softened manner of the
Queen-mother betrayed any symptom of relenting, a word or a gesture from
Chanteloupe sufficed to render her brow once more rigid, and her
accents cold.

As the unhappy exile had formerly been ruled by Richelieu, so was she
now governed by the Oratorian, whose jealousy of Puylaurens led him to
deprecate the prospect of a reconciliation between the mother and son
which must, by uniting them in one common interest, involve himself in a
perpetual struggle with the favourite of the Prince. The monk affected
to treat the haughty _parvenu_ as an inferior; while Puylaurens, who had
refused to acknowledge the supremacy of individuals of far higher rank
than the reverend father, on his side exhibited a similar feeling; and
meanwhile Marie de Medicis and Gaston, equally weak where their
favourites were concerned, made the quarrel a personal one, and by their
constant dissensions weakened their own cause, wearied the patience of
their hosts, and enabled the Cardinal to counteract all their
projects.[190]

Unable to prevail upon the Queen to rescind her resolution, Monsieur
reluctantly returned alone to Brussels, where he was soon wholly
absorbed by pleasure and dissipation. All his past trials were
forgotten. He evinced no mortification at his defeat, or at the state of
pauperism to which it had reduced him; he had no sigh to spare for all
the generous blood that had been shed in his service; nor did he mourn
over the ruined fortunes by which his own partial impunity had been
purchased. It was enough that he was once more surrounded with splendour
and adulation; and although he applied to the Emperor and the sovereigns
of Spain and England for their assistance, he betrayed little anxiety as
to the result of his appeal.

Meanwhile the unfortunate Queen-mother, who had successively witnessed
the failure of all her hopes, was bitterly alive to the reality of her
position. She was indebted for sustenance and shelter to the enemies of
France; and even while she saw herself the object of respect and
deference, as she looked back upon her past greatness and contrasted it
with her present state of helplessness and isolation, her heart sank
within her, and she dreaded to dwell upon the future.

The death of Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, who was killed at the
battle of Lutzen at the close of the previous year, had produced a great
change in the affairs of Europe; and, fearing that the Austrian Cabinet
might profit by that event, Richelieu represented to the Council the
necessity of raising money at whatever cost, and of using every
endeavour to effect a continuance of the hostilities in Germany and
Flanders, without, however, declaring war against Austria. For this
purpose he stated that more troops must necessarily be raised, but that
the forfeited dowry of the Queen-mother and the appanage of the Duc
d'Orléans would furnish sufficient funds for their maintenance; an
expedient which was at once adopted by the Council.[191]

In the event of either war or peace, however, the Cardinal was equally
uneasy to see the mother of the King and the heir-presumptive to the
Crown in the hands of the Spaniards, as their influence might tend to
excite an insurrection on the first check experienced by the French
army; while, should a general peace be negotiated during their residence
in the Low Countries, the Emperor and the King of Spain would not fail
to stipulate such conditions for them both as he was by no means
inclined to concede; and he was therefore anxious to effect, if
possible, their voluntary departure from the Spanish territories. That
he should succeed as regarded Gaston, Richelieu had little doubt, that
weak Prince being completely subjugated by his favourites, who, as the
minister was well aware, were at all times ready to sacrifice the
interests of their master to their own; but as regarded Marie de Medicis
the case was widely different, for he could not conceal from himself
that should she entertain the most remote suspicion of his own desire
to cause her removal from her present place of refuge, she would remain
rooted to the soil, although her heart broke in the effort. Nor was he
ignorant that all her counsellors perpetually urged her never to return
to France until she could do so without incurring any obligation to
himself; and this she could only hope to effect by the assistance of the
Emperor and Philip of Spain.

One circumstance, however, seemed to lend itself to his project, and
this existed in the fact that the Queen--mother had, during the
preceding year, requested her son-in-law the King of England to furnish
her with vessels for conveying her to a Spanish port; and this request,
coupled with her departure from Brussels, led him to believe that she
was becoming weary of the Low Countries. He accordingly resolved to
ascertain whether there were any hopes of inducing her to retire for a
time to Florence; but the difficulty which presented itself was how to
renew a proposition which had been already more than once
indignantly rejected.

After considerable reflection the Cardinal at length believed that he
had discovered a sure method of effecting his object; and with this
conviction he one day sent to request the presence of M. de Gondi, the
envoy of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, when after having greatly extolled
the prudence of the Grand Duke throughout the misunderstanding between
Louis XIII and his mother, and made elaborate protestations of the
sense which that monarch entertained of his moderation and equity, he
conversed for a time on the affairs of Italy, and then, as if casually,
he reverted to the subject of the Queen-mother.

"_À-propos_;" he said, "speaking of _the poor woman_, certain persons
are endeavouring, I understand, to induce her to visit Florence. What do
you think of the project?"

"Your Eminence," replied Gondi, "is the first person by whom I have been
informed of this intention on the part of her Majesty; I never heard
that she had adopted such a resolution."

"Then I must initiate you into the mystery," pursued Richelieu. "The bad
advice of that madman Chanteloupe has been the cause of all the errors
of which she has been guilty. The King had requested the Infanta to
deliver the man up to him; a demand by which he was so incensed that he
forthwith urged the Queen to leave the Low Countries, declaring that she
would no longer be safe there, should Isabella, whose health is failing
fast, chance to die. The poor woman, listening to this interested
counsel, accordingly resolved to go to England, but Charles would not
receive her without the consent of her son. Thereupon she asked for some
vessels to convey her to Spain, to which the English monarch replied
that he would furnish her with a fleet, provided that his brother-in-law
approved of her intention, and that Philip would consent to her
remaining in his dominions. His Catholic Majesty has already given the
required pledge, but I am not yet aware of the determination of my own
sovereign. You see to what a pitiable state she is reduced; she does not
know which way to turn; and I really feel for her. I wish with all my
heart that I could help her; but so far from seeing her position in its
right light, she continues so headstrong that she feels no regret for
the past, and declares that she never shall do so."

M. de Gondi remained silent; and after pausing an instant Richelieu
resumed: "As the Queen-mother really wishes to change her place of
abode, would to God that she would select some country where the King
could prove to her the extent of his affection without endangering the
interests of the state; and where nothing might prevent me from
testifying towards her my own gratitude and respect. Charles of England
cannot well refuse the use of his ships after her request, but I cannot
bring myself to believe that she actually desires to reside in Spain.
Should she ultimately incline towards Florence, and anticipate a good
reception from the Grand Duke, do you apprehend that she would be
disappointed in her hope?"

"Monseigneur," cautiously replied the envoy, who was not without a
suspicion of the motive which urged the Cardinal to hazard this inquiry,
and who had received no instructions upon the subject, "I know nothing
of the projects of her Majesty, nor do I believe that the Grand Duke is
better informed than myself. The Court of Florence entertains such
perfect confidence in the affection of the King of France for his
mother, that it leaves all such arrangements to the good feeling of
his Majesty."

"The aspect of affairs has greatly changed within the last few months,"
observed Richelieu, "and I am of opinion that the King would be
gratified should the Grand Duke consent to receive his niece, in the
event of her desiring to pass a short time under his protection, until a
perfect reconciliation is effected between them; but you will see that
should she once set foot in England, she will never leave it again, and
will by her intrigues inevitably embroil us with that country."

Again did M. de Gondi protest his entire ignorance alike of the
movements of the exiled Queen and of the wishes of his sovereign, with a
calm pertinacity which warned the Cardinal that further persistence
would be impolitic, as it could not fail to betray his eagerness to
effect the object of which he professed only to discuss the expediency;
and, accordingly, the interview terminated without having produced the
desired result.[192]

Richelieu had, however, said enough to convince the Tuscan envoy that
should the Grand Duke succeed in persuading the Queen-mother to reside
at his Court, he would gratify both Louis and his minister; but neither
he himself nor Marie de Medicis had ever contemplated such an
arrangement. It was true, as the Cardinal had stated, that she had
applied to Charles of England for shipping, but she had done so with a
view of proceeding by Spain to join the Duc d'Orléans in Languedoc,
little imagining that his cause would so soon be ruined. Mortified to
find herself left for so long a period in a state of dependence upon
Philip and Isabella, and deprived of any other alternative, she had next
sought to secure an asylum in the adopted country of her daughter, where
her near relationship to the Queen gave her a claim to sympathy and
kindness which she was aware that she had no right to exact from
strangers; and she consequently felt that the obligation which she
should there incur would prove less irksome to support than that which
was merely based on political interests; and, which, however gracefully
conferred, could not be divested of its galling weight.

Henriette, who had always been strongly attached to her royal mother,
and who, in her brilliant exile, pined for the ties of kindred and the
renewal of old associations, welcomed the proposal with eagerness; but
Charles I., who was apprehensive that by yielding to the wishes of the
Queen, he should involve himself in a misunderstanding with the French
Court; and who, moreover, disliked and dreaded the restless and
intriguing spirit of Marie de Medicis, as much as he deprecated the
outlay which her residence in the kingdom must occasion, hesitated to
grant her request.

Such was the extremity to which the ingratitude and ambition of a single
individual, whose fortunes she had herself founded, had, in the short
space of eighteen months, reduced the once-powerful Queen-Regent of
France; whose son and sons-in-law were the most powerful sovereigns
in Europe.

Since the execution of the Duc de Montmorency all the nobility of France
had bowed the head before the power of Richelieu; the greatest and the
proudest alike felt their danger, for they had learnt the terrible truth
that neither rank, nor birth, nor personal popularity could shield them
from his resentment; and while Louis XIII hunted at Fontainebleau,
feasted at the Louvre, and attended with as much patience as he could
assume at the constant performances of the vapid and tedious dramas with
which the Cardinal-Duke, who aspired to be esteemed a poet, incessantly
taxed the forbearance of the monarch and his Court, the active and
versatile pen of the minister was at the same time spreading desolation
and death on every side.

One unfortunate noble, whose only crime had been his adhesion to the
cause of Gaston d'Orléans, was condemned to the galleys for life; while
the Duc d'Elboeuf, MM. de Puylaurens, du Coudrai-Montpensier, and de
Goulas were tried and executed in effigy; the figures by which they were
represented being clothed in costly dresses, richly decorated with lace,
and glittering with tinsel ornaments.[193]

Other individuals who had taken part in the revolt, but who were also
beyond the present power of the Cardinal, were condemned _par
contumace_, some to be quartered, and others to lose their heads. The
Chevalier de Jars, accused of having endeavoured to assist in the escape
of the Queen-mother and Monsieur to England, although no proof could be
adduced of the fact, perished upon the scaffold; Châteauneuf, whose
assiduities to the Duchesse de Chevreuse had aroused the jealousy of the
Cardinal, who had long entertained a passion for that lady, was deprived
of the seals, which were transferred to M. Séguier;[194] while Madame de
Chevreuse was banished from the Court, and the Marquis de Leuville, the
nephew of Châteauneuf, and several others of his friends were committed
to the Bastille.[195]

Meanwhile Monsieur had considered it expedient to apprise the King of
his marriage with the Princesse Marguerite, by which Louis was so
greatly incensed that he forthwith resolved to punish the bad faith of
Charles de Lorraine by proceeding to his duchy, and laying siege to
the capital.

Aware that resistance was impossible, the Prince immediately despatched
his brother the Cardinal to solicit the pardon of the King; but Louis
remained inexorable, although the unhappy Charles, who foresaw the ruin
of his entire family should the hostile army of France invade his
territories, even proposed to abdicate in favour of the Cardinal-Duke
Francis. Still Louis continued his onward march, and finally, rendered
desperate by his fears, the sovereign of Lorraine consented to deliver
up the city upon such terms as his Majesty should see fit to propose,
provided that he received no help from without during the next ten days;
and, moreover, to place his sister the Princesse Marguerite in
his hands.

These conditions having been accepted, the Cardinal de Lorraine
solicited a passport for himself and his equipage, in order that he
might leave Nancy; and his retreat involved so romantic an incident,
that it produces the effect of fiction rather than that of sober
history. The unfortunate bride of Gaston had no sooner ascertained that
she was destined to become the prisoner of the King than she resolved,
with a courage which her weak and timid husband would have been unable
to emulate, to effect her escape. In a few words she explained her
project to the Cardinal Francis, whose ambition and brotherly love were
alike interested in her success; and within an hour she had assumed the
attire of one of the pages of his household. Having covered her own hair
with a black wig, and stained her face and hands with a dark dye, she
hastened to the convent in which she had been married to Monsieur, in
order to take leave of the Abbesse de Remiremont, and created great
alarm among the nuns, who, while engaged in their devotions, suddenly
saw an armed man standing in the midst of them; but the Princess had no
sooner made herself known than they crowded about her to weep over her
trials, and to utter earnest prayers for her preservation.

On reaching the advanced guard of the French army she incurred the
greatest danger, as her person was well known to the officer in command;
but fortunately for the Princess he had retired to rest, and the
carriage which she occupied was searched by a subordinate to whom she
was a stranger. After having traversed the royal camp, the courageous
fugitive mounted on horseback, and, accompanied by two trusty
attendants, rode without once making a halt as far as Thionville, a town
which belonged to the Spaniards; but on arriving at the gates she did
not venture to enter until she had apprised the Comte de Wilthy, the
governor, of the step which she had taken; and her fatigue was so
excessive that, during the absence of her messenger, she dismounted with
considerable difficulty and flung herself down upon the grass that
fringed the ditch; a circumstance which attracted the attention of the
sentinel at the gate, who pointed her out to a comrade, exclaiming at
the same time:

"Yon is a stripling who is new to hard work, or I am mistaken."

Meanwhile the errant Princess was faint from exhaustion, and sick with
suspense; but she was soon relieved from her apprehensions by the
appearance of the Governor and his wife, by whom she was welcomed with
respect and cordiality; apartments were assigned to her in their own
residence; and under their protection she remained for several days at
Thionville, in order to recruit her strength, as well as to inform
Monsieur of her approach, and to request an escort to Brussels. Both
Gaston and the Queen-mother were overjoyed at her escape; for although
estranged by the jealousies and intrigues of those about them, Marie
fully participated in the delight of her son, as she trusted that the
presence of a daughter-in-law, who shared her enmity towards the
Cardinal, would tend to ameliorate her own position. Carriages and
attendants were immediately despatched to Thionville, while Monsieur
proceeded to Namur to meet the Princess, and to conduct her to Brussels,
where she was impatiently expected. On alighting at the palace Madame
was received with open arms by her mother-in-law, who had returned to
the capital in order to congratulate her on the happy result of her
enterprise, and was greeted by the Archduchess with equal warmth. The
Spanish Cabinet accorded an augmentation of fifteen thousand crowns
monthly to the pension of Monsieur for the maintenance of her household,
and this liberality was emulated by Isabella, who overwhelmed her with
the most costly presents.[196]

The Duchesse d'Orléans had no sooner received the compliments of the
Court of Brussels than the Queen-mother returned to Ghent, where she was
shortly afterwards attacked by so violent a fever that her life was
endangered. In this extremity Gaston fulfilled all the duties of an
affectionate and anxious son, and urged her to quit the noxious air of
the marshes and to return to the capital; but his entreaties were
powerless, Chanteloupe on his side advising her to remain in the retreat
which she had chosen. Louis XIII was soon informed of the illness of his
mother, and whether it were that he really felt a renewal of tenderness
towards her person, or that he merely deemed it expedient to keep up
appearances, it is certain that after some time he despatched two of the
physicians of his household to Flanders, with instructions to use their
utmost endeavours to overcome the malady of the Queen; while they were,
moreover, accompanied by a gentleman of the Court charged with a cold
and brief letter, and authorized not only to express the regrets common
on such occasions, but also to make proposals of reconciliation to the
royal exiles.

The Infanta, who, despite her age and infirmities, was a frequent
visitor in the sick room of her illustrious guest, and who saw with
alarm the rapid progress of the disease under which the unhappy Marie de
Medicis had laboured for upwards of forty days, encouraged by the
arrival of the French envoy, at length wrote to inform the King that his
mother, who placed the greatest confidence in the skill of her own
physician Vautier, had expressed the most earnest desire for his
attendance; and it is probable that at so extreme a crisis Louis would
not have hesitated to comply with her wishes had not Richelieu opposed
his liberation from the Bastille, asserting that Marie de Medicis had
induced Isabella to make the request for the sole purpose of once more
having about her person a man who had formerly given her the most
pernicious advice, and who encouraged her in her rebellion. All,
therefore, that the King would concede under this impression was his
permission to Vautier to prescribe in writing for the royal invalid; but
the physician, who trusted that the circumstance might tend to his
liberation, excused himself, alleging that as he had not seen the
Queen-mother for upwards of two years, he could not judge of the changes
which increased age, change of air, and moral suffering had produced
upon her system; and that consequently he dared not venture to propose
remedies which might produce a totally opposite result to that which
he intended.

But, at the same time that the Cardinal refused to gratify the wishes of
the apparently dying Queen, he was profuse in his expressions of respect
and affection towards her. "His Majesty is about to despatch you to
Ghent," he had said to the envoy when he went to receive his parting
instructions. "Assure the Queen-mother from me that although I am aware
my name is odious to her, and conscious of the whole extent of the
ill-will which she bears towards me, those circumstances do not prevent
my feeling the most profound attachment to her person, and the deepest
grief at her indisposition. Do not fail to assure her that I told you
this with tears in my eyes. God grant that I may never impute to so good
a Princess all the injury which I have suffered from her friends, nor
the calumnies which those about her incessantly propagate against me;
although it is certain that so long as she listens to these envenomed
tongues I cannot hope that she will be undeceived, nor that she will
recognize the uprightness of my intentions." [197]

It appears marvellous that a man gifted with surpassing genius, and
holding in his hand the destinies of Europe, should condescend to such
pitiful and puerile hypocrisy; but throughout the whole of the Memoirs
attributed to Richelieu himself, the reader is startled by the mass of
petty manoeuvres upon which he dilates; as though the dispersion of an
insignificant cabal, or the destruction of some obscure individual who
had become obnoxious to him, were the most important occupations of his
existence.

Not content with insulting his royal victim by words which belied the
whole tenor of his conduct, the Cardinal, before he dismissed the envoy,
seized the opportunity of adding one more affront to those of which he
had already been so lavish, by instructing the royal messenger not to
hold the slightest intercourse with any member of her household, and
even to turn his back upon them whenever they should address him; a
command which he so punctiliously obeyed that when, in the very chamber
of Marie de Medicis, one of her gentlemen offered him the usual
courtesies of welcome, he retorted by the most contemptuous silence, to
the extreme indignation of the Queen, who, in reply to the message of
Richelieu, haughtily exclaimed, "Tell the Cardinal that I prefer his
persecution to his civility."

Silenced by this unanswerable assurance, the envoy next proceeded to
deliver the despatch with which he had been entrusted by the King. "I am
consoled for my sufferings," said the unhappy mother, as she extended
her trembling and withered hand to receive it, "since I am indebted to
them for this remembrance on the part of his Majesty. I will on this
occasion be careful to return my acknowledgments by a person who will
not be displeasing to him."

Such, however, was far from her intention; as, convinced that the insult
offered to her attendants had been suggested by the Cardinal, she
selected for her messenger the same individual who had formerly
delivered to the Parliament of Paris her petition against Richelieu, in
order to convince him that should she effect her reconciliation with the
monarch on this occasion, she had no inclination to include his minister
in the amnesty. Even past experience, bitter as it was, had not yet
taught her that the contest was hopeless.

Her reply to the letter of her son ran thus:

"Monsieur mon fils, I do not doubt that had you been sooner apprised of
my illness, you would not have failed to give me proofs of your good
disposition. Those which I formerly received have so confirmed this
belief, that even my present misfortunes cannot weaken it. I am
extremely obliged by your having sent to visit me when the rumour of my
indisposition reached you. If your goodness has led you to regret that
you were not sooner made acquainted with so public a circumstance, my
affection induces me willingly to receive the intelligence which you
send me, at any time. Your envoy will inform you that he reached me on
the fortieth day of a continuous fever, which augments throughout the
night. I was anxious that he should see me out of my bed, in order that
he might assure you that the attack was not so violent, and that my
strength is not so much exhausted, as to deprive me, with God's help, of
all hope of recovery. Having been out of health for the last year, and
the fever from which I formerly suffered every third week having changed
and become continuous, the physicians apprehend that it may become more
dangerous. I am resigned to the will of God, and I shall not regret life
if I am assured of your favour before my death; and if you love me as
much as I love you, and shall always love you."

As regarded the proposals of reconciliation brought by the royal envoy,
the best-judging among the friends of the Queen-mother were of opinion
that she should accept them; but Chanteloupe earnestly opposed
the measure.

"Many of your attendants, Madame," he said coldly, "desire to see you
once more in France, even should you be shut up in the fortress of
Vincennes. They only seek to enjoy their own property in peace."  The
reverend father made no mention of his own enjoyment of a pension of a
thousand livres a month, paid to him by Spain during his residence in
the Low Countries, and which must necessarily cease should Marie de
Medicis withdraw from the protection of that power.

Before the departure of the King's messenger, he informed the
Queen-mother that he was authorized by his sovereign to offer her
pecuniary aid should she require it; insinuating at the same time that,
in the event of her consenting to dismiss certain of her attendants who
were displeasing to the monarch, their misunderstanding might be at once
happily terminated.

"I am perfectly satisfied with the liberality of my son-in-law, the King
of Spain," was her brief and cold reply. "He is careful that I shall
feel no want."

The Abbé de St. Germain, on ascertaining the terms offered to his royal
protectress, earnestly urged her not to reject them. "It is not just,
Madame," he said frankly and disinterestedly, "that you should suffer
for us. When your Majesty is once more established in France, you will
find sufficient opportunities of serving us, and of enabling us to
reside either here or elsewhere. Extricate yourself, Madame, from your
painful situation, and spend the remainder of your life in your adopted
country, where you will be independent of the aid of foreigners."

Unhappily for herself, however, Marie de Medicis disregarded this
wholesome and generous advice; and although Richelieu, in order to save
appearances, from time to time repeated the proposal, she continued to
persist in an exile which could only be terminated at his pleasure.[198]

Having succeeded by this crafty policy in inducing a general impression
that the unfortunate Queen persisted from a spirit of obstinacy in
remaining out of the kingdom, when she could at any moment return on
advantageous conditions, the Cardinal next exerted himself to create a
misunderstanding between Marie de Medicis and Monsieur, for which
purpose he secretly caused it to be asserted to the Prince and
Puylaurens that the Queen-mother, anxious to make her own terms to the
exclusion of Gaston, had despatched several messengers to the French
Court with that object. Monsieur affected to discredit the report, but
Puylaurens, who was weary of an exile which thwarted his ambition,
eagerly welcomed the intelligence, and soon succeeded in inducing Gaston
to give it entire credence. Thenceforward all confidence was necessarily
at an end between the mother and the son; and the favourite,
apprehensive that should Marie de Medicis conclude a treaty with the
sovereign before his master had made his own terms, she might, in order
to advance her own interests, sacrifice those of the Prince, hastened to
despatch a trusty messenger to ascertain the conditions which Louis was
willing to accord to his brother. The reply which Puylaurens received
from the Cardinal was most encouraging; Richelieu being anxious that
Monsieur should act independently of the Queen-mother, and thus weaken
the cause of both parties, while his gratification was increased by the
arrival of a second envoy accredited by Gaston himself, who offered in
his name, not only to make every concession required of him should he be
restored to the favour of the King, but even to allow the minister to
decide upon his future place of abode; while Puylaurens, on his side,
offered to resign his claim to the hand of the Princesse de Phalsbourg,
the sister of the Duc de Lorraine, which had been pledged to him, if he
could induce his Eminence to bestow upon him that of one of his own
relatives.

In reply to the last proposition the Cardinal declared himself ready to
secure to the favourite of Monsieur, should he succeed in making his
royal patron fulfil the promises which he had volunteered, a large sum
of money, and his elevation to a dukedom; but Puylaurens demanded still
better security. He could not forget that if he still existed, it was
simply from the circumstance that the minister had been unable to
execute upon his person the violence which had been visited upon his
effigy, and he accordingly replied:

"Of what avail is a dukedom, since his Eminence is ever more ready to
cut off the head of a peer than that of a citizen?"

"If you are still distrustful," said the negotiator, "the Cardinal,
moreover, offers you an alliance with himself as you propose; and will
give you in marriage the younger daughter of his kinsman the Baron de
Pontchâteau."

"That alters the case," replied the young noble, "as I am aware that his
Eminence has too much regard for his family to behead one of his
cousins." [199]

One impediment, however, presented itself to the completion of this
treaty, which proved insurmountable. Monsieur refused to consent to the
annulment of his marriage with the Princesse Marguerite; while the King,
who had just marched an army into Lorraine, and taken the town of Nancy,
on his side declined all reconciliation with his brother until he
consented to place her in his hands.

On his return from Lorraine Louis XIII halted for a time at Metz, and
during his sojourn in that city an adventurer named Alfeston was put
upon his trial, and broken on the wheel, for having attempted to
assassinate the Cardinal. The culprit had only a short time previously
arrived in Metz from Brussels, accompanied by two other individuals who
had been members of the bodyguard of the Queen-mother, while he himself
actually rode a horse belonging to her stud. As he was stretched upon
the hideous instrument of torture, he accused Chanteloupe as an
accessory in the contemplated crime; and the Jesuit, together with
several others, were cited to appear and defend themselves; while, at
the same time, the horse ridden by the principal conspirator was
restored to its royal owner, with a request from the King that she
would not in future permit such nefarious plots to be organized in her
household, as "not only was the person of the Cardinal infinitely dear
to him," but rascals of that description were capable of making other
attempts of the same nature; and, not contented with thus insulting his
unhappy and exiled mother, Louis, in order to show his anxiety for the
safety of the minister, added to the bodyguard which had already been
conceded to him an additional company of a hundred musketeers, the whole
of whom he himself selected.[200]

The constant indignities to which Marie de Medicis was subjected by
Monsieur and his haughty favourite at length crushed her bruised and
wearied spirit. Outraged in every feeling, and disappointed in every
hope, she became in her turn anxious to effect a reconciliation with the
King, even upon terms less favourable than those to which she had
hitherto aspired. Gaston seldom entered her apartments, nor was his
presence ever the harbinger of anything but discord; while Puylaurens
and Chanteloupe openly braved and defied each other, and the two little
Courts were a scene of constant broils and violence. Monsieur, moreover,
forbade his wife to see her royal mother-in-law so frequently, or to
evince towards her that degree of respect to which she was entitled both
from her exalted rank and her misfortunes. The gentle Marguerite,
however, refused to comply with a command which revolted her better
nature; and even consented, at the instigation of Marie de Medicis and
Isabella--whose dignity and virtue were alike outraged by the dissolute
excesses of the favourite--to entreat her husband to dismiss Puylaurens
from his service.

"Should you succeed, Madame," said the Queen-mother, "you will save
yourself from ruin. He is sold to the Cardinal; who, in addition to
other benefits, has promised to give him his own cousin in marriage. But
on what conditions do you imagine that he conceded this demand? Simply
that Monsieur should unreservedly comply upon all points, and
particularly on that which regards his marriage, with the will of
Richelieu; that he should place you in the hands of the King, or leave
you here, if it be not possible to convey you to France; that he should
authorize an inquiry into the legitimacy of your marriage; and, finally,
that Monsieur should abandon both myself and the King of Spain. Such are
the terms of the treaty; and were they once accepted, who would be able
to sustain your claims?"

The unfortunate Princess understood only too well the dangers of her
position, and she accordingly exerted all her influence to obtain the
dismissal of Puylaurens, but the brilliant favourite had become
necessary to the existence of his frivolous master, far more so, indeed,
than the wife who was no longer rendered irresistible by novelty; and
the only result of her entreaties was a peevish order not to listen to
any complaints against those who were attached to his person.

With a weakness worthy of his character, Gaston moreover repeated to his
favourite all that had taken place; and the fury of Puylaurens reached
so extreme a point that, in order to prove his contempt for the unhappy
Queen--about to be deprived of the support and affection of her
best-loved son, who had, like his elder brother, suffered himself to be
made the tool of an ambitious follower--he had on one occasion the
audacity to enter her presence, followed by a train of twenty-five
gentlemen, all fully armed, as though while approaching her he dreaded
assassination.

Marie de Medicis looked for an instant upon him with an expression of
scorn in her bright and steady eye beneath which his own sank; and then,
rising from her seat, she walked haughtily from the apartment. Once
arrived in her closet, however, her indignant pride gave way; and
throwing herself upon the neck of one of her attendants, she wept the
bitter tears of humiliation and despair.

Nor was this the only, or the heaviest, insult to which the widow of
Henri IV was subjected by the arrogant _protégé_ of Monsieur, for
anxious to secure his own advancement, and to aggrandize himself by
means of Richelieu, since he had become convinced that his only hope of
future greatness depended on the favour of the Cardinal, Puylaurens once
more urged upon Gaston the expediency of accepting the conditions
offered to him by the King. Weary of the petty Court of Brussels, the
Prince listened with evident pleasure to the arguments advanced by his
favourite; the fair palaces of St. Germain and the Tuileries rose
before his mental vision; his faction in Languedoc existed no longer;
with his usual careless ingratitude he had already ceased to resent the
death of Montmorency; his beautiful and heroic wife retained but a
feeble hold upon his heart; and he pined for change.

Under such circumstances it was, consequently, not long ere Puylaurens
induced him to consent to a renewal of the negotiations; but, with that
inability to keep a secret by which he was distinguished throughout his
whole career, although urged to silence by his interested counsellor, it
was not long ere Monsieur declared his intention alike to his mother and
his wife, and terminated this extraordinary confidence by requesting
that Marie de Medicis would give him her opinion as to the judiciousness
of his determination.

"My opinion!" exclaimed the indignant Queen. "You should blush even to
have listened to such a proposition. Have you forgotten your birth and
your rank? What will be thought of such a treaty by the world? Simply
that it was the work of a favourite, and not the genuine reconciliation
of a Prince of the Blood Royal of France, the heir-presumptive to the
Crown, with the King his brother. Your own honour and the interests of
your wife are alike sacrificed; and should you ever be guilty of the
injustice and cowardice of taking another wife before the death of
Marguerite, who will guarantee that the children who may be born to you
by the last will be regarded as legitimate? I do not speak of what
concerns myself. When such conditions shall be offered to you as you may
accept without dishonour, even although I may not be included in the
amnesty, I shall be the first to advise you to accept them."

Gaston attempted no reply to this impassioned address, but it did not
fail to produce its effect; and on returning to his own apartments he
withdrew the consent which Puylaurens had extorted from him. The
favourite, convinced that the answer of the Queen-mother had been
dictated by Chanteloupe, hurried to her residence, insulted and menaced
the Jesuit whom he encountered in an ante-room, and forcing himself into
the chamber of Marie de Medicis, accused her in the most disrespectful
terms of endeavouring to perpetuate the dissension of the King and his
brother, in order to gratify her emnity towards Richelieu.

"Never," exclaimed the Queen-mother, quivering with indignation, "did
even my enemy the Cardinal thus fail in respect towards me! He was far
from daring to address me with such an amount of insolence as this.
Learn that should I see fit to say a single word, and to receive him
again into favour, I could overthrow all your projects. Leave the room,
young madman, or I will have you flung from the windows. It is easy to
perceive that your nature is as mean as your birth." [201]

Puylaurens retired; but thenceforward the existence of the Queen-mother
became one unbroken tissue of mortification and suffering; and so
bitterly did she feel the degradations to which she was hourly exposed,
that she at length resolved to despatch one of the gentlemen of her
household to the King, to ascertain if she could obtain the royal
permission to return to France upon such terms as she should be enabled
to concede. In the letter which she addressed to her son she touchingly
complained of the indignities to which she was subjected by Monsieur and
his favourite, and implored his Majesty to extricate her from a position
against which she was unable to contend.

In his reply Louis assured her that he much regretted to learn that the
Duc d'Orléans had been wanting in respect towards her person, but
reminded her that such could never have been the case had she followed
his own advice and that of his faithful servants; and terminated his
missive by an intimation that in the event of her placing in his power
all her evil counsellors, in order that he might punish them as they
deserved, and of her also pledging herself to love, as she ought to do,
the good servants of the Crown, he might then believe that she was no
longer so ill-disposed as she had been when she left France.

The disappointed Queen-mother at once recognized the hand of the
Cardinal in this cold and constrained despatch, which was merely a
renewal of her sentence of banishment; as Richelieu well knew that the
high heart and generous spirit of the Tuscan Princess would revolt at
the enormity of sacrificing those who had clung to her throughout her
evil fortunes, in order to secure her own impunity.

Unfortunately, alike for Marie de Medicis and Gaston d'Orléans, the
amiable Infanta, who had proved so patient as well as so munificent a
host--and who had, without murmur or reproach, seen her previously
tranquil and pious Court changed by the dissipation and cabals of her
foreign guests into a perpetual arena of strife and even bloodshed--the
Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia, whose very name was reverenced
throughout the whole of the Low Countries, expired on the 1st of
December at the age of sixty-eight, after having governed Flanders
during thirty-five years.

This event was a source of alarm as well as of sorrow to the royal
exiles, who could not anticipate an equal amount of forbearance from the
Marquis d'Ayetona,[202] by whom she was provisionally replaced in the
government; and who had long and loudly expressed his disgust at the
perpetual feuds which convulsed the circles of the Queen-mother and her
son, and declared that they had caused him more annoyance than all the
subjects of the King his master in the Low Countries.[203] In this
extremity both Marie and Monsieur became more than ever anxious to
procure their recall to France; and Gaston soon succeeded in
ascertaining the conditions upon which his pardon was to be accorded.
Letters of abolition were to be granted for his past revolt: his several
appanages were to be restored to him: the sum of seven hundred thousand
crowns were to be paid over to meet his immediate exigences: he was to
be invested with the government of Auvergne, and to have, as a
bodyguard, a troop of gendarmes and light-horse, of which the command
was to be conferred upon Puylaurens, to whom the offer of a dukedom was
renewed; and, in the event of Monsieur declining to reside at Court, he
was to be at liberty to fix his abode either in Auvergne or in
Bourbonnais, as he saw fit; while, in any and every case, he was to live
according to his own pleasure alike in Paris or the provinces.

And--in return for this indulgence--Monsieur was simply required to
abandon his brother-in-law Charles de Lorraine to the vengeance of the
King, without attempting any interference in his behalf; to detach
himself wholly and unreservedly from all his late friends and adherents
both within and without the kingdom of France; to resign all alliance
either personal or political with the Queen-mother; to be guided in
every circumstance by the counsels of the Cardinal-Minister; and to give
the most stringent securities for his future loyalty.

Such were the conditions to which the heir-presumptive to the Crown of
France ultimately consented to affix his name, although for a time he
affected to consider them as unworthy of his dignity; and meanwhile as
the year drew to a close, a mutual jealousy had grown up between the
mother and son which seconded all the views of Richelieu, whose
principal aim was to prevent the return of either to France for as long
a period as he could succeed in so doing.


FOOTNOTES:

[189] Gaston d'Orléans, _Mém_. p. 148.

[190] Le Clerc, vol. ii. pp. 86, 87. Le Vassor, vol. vii. pp. 249, 250.

[191] Mézeray, vol. xi. p. 418.

[192] Le Vassor, vol. vii. pp. 442-445. Le Clerc, vol. ii. pp. 92-94.
Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 422, 423.

[193] _Extrait des Registres du Parlement de Bourgogne_, Année 1633.
MSS. de la Bibliothèque Royale.

[194] Pierre Séguier, a nephew of Pierre Séguier (the president _à
mortier_ of the Parliament of Paris), born in 1588, made Keeper of the
Seals in 1633, and died in 1672. [By a clerical oversight in the first
edition this honour was conferred upon his uncle fifty-three years after
his death!]

[195] Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 423-425.

[196] Gaston d'Orléans, _Mém_. pp. 149-152.

[197] Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. vii. pp. 685-687. Le Vassor, vol. vii. pp.
1-4.

[198] Le Vassor, vol. vii. pp. 6-9. Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 428, 429. Le
Clerc, vol. ii. pp. 122, 123.

[199] Capefigue, vol. v. pp. 223, 224.

[200] Le Clerc, vol. ii. pp. 123, 124.

[201] Le Vassor, vol. vii. book xxxv. pp. 248-251.

[202] Francisco de Moncade, Marqués d'Ayetona, Condé d'Osuna, was born
at Valencia in 1586; he was successively Councillor of State, Governor
of the Low Countries, and generalissimo of the Spanish armies. He
died in 1635.

[203] Sismondi, vol. xxiii. p. 240.



CHAPTER XI

1634

Increasing trials of the exiled Queen--Her property is seized on the
frontier--She determines to conciliate the Cardinal--Richelieu remains
implacable--Far-reaching ambition of the minister--Weakness of Louis
XIII--Insidious arguments of Richelieu--Marie de Medicis is again urged
to abandon her adherents--Cowardly policy of Monsieur--He signs
a treaty with Spain--The Queen-mother refuses to join in the
conspiracy--Puylaurens induces Monsieur to accept the proffered terms of
Richelieu--He escapes secretly from Brussels---Gaston pledges himself to
the King to "love the Cardinal"--Gaston again refuses to repudiate his
wife--Puylaurens obtains the hand of a relative of the minister and
becomes Duc de Puylaurens--Monsieur retires to Blois.


The early months of the year 1634 were passed by Marie de Medicis in
perpetual mortification and anxiety. The passport which she had obtained
for the free transport of such articles of necessity as she might deem
it expedient to procure from France was disregarded, and her packages
were subjected to a rigorous examination on the frontier; an insult of
which she complained bitterly to Louis, declaring that if the Cardinal
sought by such means to reduce her to a more pitiable condition than
that in which she had already found herself, and thus to bend her to his
will, the attempt would prove fruitless; as no amount of indignity
should induce her to humble herself before him.

The unhappy Princess little imagined that in a few short weeks she
should become a suppliant for his favour! Meanwhile[204] the struggle
for pre-eminence continued unabated between Puylaurens and Chanteloupe;
and the life of the former having been on one occasion attempted, the
faction of Monsieur did not hesitate to attribute the contemplated
assassination to the adherents of the Queen-mother; whence arose
continual conflicts between the two pigmy Courts, which rendered
unavailing all the efforts of the Marquis d'Ayetona to reconcile the
royal relatives. Moreover, Marie was indignant that the Marquis
constantly evinced towards her son a consideration in which he sometimes
failed towards herself; and, finding her position becoming daily more
onerous, she at length resolved to accomplish a reconciliation, not only
with the King, but even with the minister, on any terms which she could
obtain. In pursuance of this determination she gave instructions to M.
Le Rebours de Laleu, her equerry, to proceed to Paris with her
despatches, which consisted of three letters, one addressed to the
sovereign, another to the Cardinal, and the third to M. de
Bouthillier,[205] all of which severally contained earnest assurances of
her intention to comply with the will and pleasure of the King in all
things, and to obey his commands by foregoing for the future all emnity
towards Richelieu. In that which she wrote to the minister himself she
carefully eschewed every vestige of her former haughtiness, and threw
herself completely on his generosity. "Cousin"--thus ran the letter of
the once-powerful widow of Henri IV to her implacable enemy--"the Sieur
Bouthillier having assured me in your name that my sorrows have deeply
affected you, and that, regretting you should for so long a time have
deprived me of the honour of seeing the King, your greatest satisfaction
would now be to use your influence to obtain for me this happiness, I
have considered myself bound to express to you through the Sieur Laleu,
whom I despatch to the King, how agreeable your goodwill has been to me.
Place confidence in him, and believe, Cousin, that I will ever truly be,
etc. etc."

In addition to this humiliation, the heart-broken Queen at the same time
gave instructions to her messenger to declare to the King that, "having
learned that his Majesty could not be persuaded of her affection for his
own person so long as she refused to extend it to the Cardinal, he was
empowered to assure his Majesty that the Queen-mother, from
consideration for the King her son, would thenceforward bestow her
regard upon his minister, and dismiss all resentment for the past."

Both the verbal and written declarations addressed to Louis on this
occasion were, as will at once be evident, a mere matter of form, and
observance of the necessary etiquette. It was not the monarch of France
whom Marie de Medicis sought to conciliate, but the Cardinal-Duke, who,
as she was conscious, held her fate in his hands. It was before him,
consequently, that she bowed down; it was to his sovereign pleasure that
she thus humbly deferred; for she felt that the long-enduring struggle
which she had hitherto sustained against him was at once impotent and
hopeless. Alas! she had, as she was fated ere long to experience, as
little to anticipate from the abject concession which she now made,
bitter as were the tears that it had cost her. The most annoying
impediments were thrown in the way of her messenger when he solicited an
audience of the sovereign, nor was he slow in arriving at the conviction
that his mission would prove abortive. Nevertheless, as the command of
Marie de Medicis had been that he should also deliver the letter to
Richelieu in person, and, as he had already done in the case of the
King, add to its written assurances his own corroborative declarations
in her name, and even communicate to him the offer of Chanteloupe to
retire to a monastery for the remainder of his life in the event of his
exclusion from the treaty, he was bound to pursue his task to its
termination, hopeless as it might be.[206]

When the envoy of the Queen-mother had delivered his despatches, and
fulfilled the duty with which he had been entrusted, the embarrassment
of the Cardinal became extreme. That the haughty Marie de Medicis should
ever have compelled herself to such humiliation was an event so totally
unexpected on his part that he had made no arrangements to meet it; and
it appeared impossible even to him that, under the circumstances, the
King could venture to refuse her immediate return to France. The crisis
was a formidable one to Richelieu, who, judging both his injured
benefactress and himself from the past, placed no faith in her
professions of forgiveness; for, on his side, he felt that he should
resent even to his dying hour much that had passed before she fled the
kingdom, as well as the libels against him which she had sanctioned
during her residence in Flanders. He had, moreover, as he asserted, on
several occasions received information that Chanteloupe meditated some
design upon his life; and that the Jesuit had stated in writing that he
could never induce the Queen-mother to consent to separate herself from
him, although he had entreated of her to leave him in the Low Countries
when she returned to France.[207] Despicable, indeed, were such alleged
terrors from the lips of the Cardinal-Duc de Richelieu--the first
minister of one of the first sovereigns of Europe. What had he to fear
from a powerless and impoverished Princess, whose misfortunes had
already endured a sufficient time to outweary her foreign protectors; to
subdue the hopes, and to exhaust the energies of her former adherents;
and to reduce her to an insignificance of which, as her present measures
sufficiently evinced, she had herself become despairingly conscious?
Even had Louis XIII at this moment been possessed of sufficient right
feeling and moral energy to remember that it was the dignity of a mother
which he had so long sacrificed to the ambition of a minister--that it
was the widow of the great monarch who had bequeathed to him a crown
whom he ruthlesssly persecuted in order to further the fortunes of an
ambitious ingrate--all these trivial hindrances might have been thrust
aside at once; but the egotistical and timid temperament of the French
King deadened the finer impulses of honour and of nature; and he still
suffered himself to be governed, where he should have asserted his
highest and his holiest prerogative.

It is impossible to contemplate without astonishment so extraordinary an
anomaly as that which was presented by the King, the Queen-mother, and
the Cardinal de Richelieu at this particular period. An obscure priest,
elevated by the favour of a powerful Princess to the highest offices in
the realm, after having reduced his benefactress to the necessity of
humbling herself before him, and so unreservedly acknowledging his
supremacy as to ask, as the only condition of his forgiveness, that he
would do her the favour to believe in the sincerity of her
professions.--The widow of Henry the Great, the mother of the King of
France, and of the Queens of Spain and England, in danger of wearing out
her age in exile, because Armand Jean du Plessis, the younger son of a
petty noble of Poitou, who once considered himself the most fortunate of
mortals in obtaining the bishopric of Luçon, feared that his
unprecedented power might be shaken should his first friend and
patroness be once more united to her son, and restored to the privileges
of her rank.--And, finally, a sovereign, who, while in his better
moments he felt all the enormity of his conduct towards the author of
his being, now fast sinking under the combined weight of years and
suffering, was yet deficient in the energy necessary to do justice alike
to her and to himself.

Such, however, was the actual position of the several individuals; and
the fate of Marie de Medicis was decided.

A desire of repose, consequent upon his failing health, self-gratulation
at his triumph over an inimical and powerful faction, and a desire to
exculpate himself from the charge of ingratitude, would have led the
Cardinal to accede to a reconciliation with his long-estranged
benefactress; but he soon silenced these natural impulses to dwell only
upon the dangers of her reappearance in France, which could not, as he
believed, fail to circumscribe his own absolute power--a power to which
he had laboriously attained not more by genius than by crime--which had
been cemented by blood, and heralded by groans. Nor was this the only
consideration by which Richelieu was swayed when he resolved that the
Queen-mother should never again, so long as he had life, set foot upon
the soil of France. His high-soaring ambition had, within the last few
weeks, grasped at a greatness to which even she had not yet attained.
For a time, as is asserted by contemporary historians, he indulged
visions of royalty in his own person, and had in imagination already
fitted the crown of one of the first nations in Europe to his own brow;
but the dream had been brief, and he had latterly resolved to transfer
to one of his relatives the ermined purple in which he was not permitted
to enfold himself. That relative was his niece and favourite, Madame de
Comballet, whose hand he had offered to the Cardinal-Duc François de
Lorraine, when that Prince succeeded to the sovereignty of the duchy on
the abdication of his unfortunate brother Charles; but to avoid this
alliance the new Duke had contracted a secret marriage with his cousin
the Princesse Claude; a disappointment which the minister of Louis XIII
was desirous of repairing by causing the dissolution of the marriage of
Gaston d'Orléans with Marguerite de Lorraine, and making Monsieur's
union with his own beautiful and unprincipled niece the condition of
his restoration to favour.

Aware that the Queen-mother would resent such an indignity even to the
death, Richelieu was consequently resolved to put at once a stop to a
negotiation of which the result could not be otherwise than fatal to his
project, should the King in some moment of piety and contrition suffer
himself to remember that it was a mother as well as a Queen who appealed
to his indulgence; and who, however she might have erred, had bitterly
expiated her faults. Thus then, the Cardinal no sooner saw the agitation
of Louis on reading the letter of the exiled Princess, and marked the
flashing of his eyes as he became aware that she promised, as he had
required of her, to restore the Cardinal to her affection, than the
latter hastened to remind him that he must not overlook the fact that he
was a sovereign as well as a son; and that the safety of the state
required his attention no less than the gratification of his
natural feelings.

This was a point upon which Richelieu knew his royal master to be
peculiarly susceptible; for the more thoroughly the weak monarch
suffered himself to be stripped of his actual authority, the more
anxiety did he evince to retain its semblance, and the argument thus
advanced instantly sufficed, as the minister had anticipated, to change
the whole current of his feelings. It was, moreover, easy to convince
Louis that the professions of Marie de Medicis were hollow and unmeaning
words so long as she refused to deliver up to his Majesty the obnoxious
members of her household; for, in truth, as the Cardinal did not fail to
remark, had not Monsieur abandoned his adherents when required to do so
as a pledge of his sincerity? And as he asked the insidious question,
the distrustful Louis, trembling for his tranquillity, forgot, or did
not care to remember, that the egotism and cowardice of his brother in
thus building up his own fortunes on the ruin of those who had confided
in him, had deeply wounded the dignity of the Queen-mother.

The result of the conference between the King and his minister was an
order to the envoy of Marie de Medicis to repair to the residence of the
Cardinal at Ruel, where he was informed that he would have an audience,
at which both Louis XIII and Richelieu would personally deliver to him
their despatches for his royal mistress. On his arrival at the château,
however, he was surprised to find the Cardinal alone, and to learn that
his Majesty was not expected. To counteract this disappointment, De
Laleu was received with such extraordinary distinction that he could not
avoid expressing his astonishment at the honours which were lavished
upon him, when Richelieu, with one of those bland smiles which were ever
at his command, declared that the respect due to the illustrious
Princess whom he served demanded still greater demonstrations on his
part had it been in his power to afford them on such an occasion. He
then proceeded to inform the envoy that the Queen-mother could never be
otherwise than welcome, whenever she might see fit to return to France,
but that, in order to be convinced that she would never again suffer
herself to be misled by those who had so long induced her to oppose his
wishes, the King desired that she would previously deliver up to him the
Jesuit Chanteloupe, the Abbé de St. Germain, and the Vicomte de
Fabbroni,[208] as his Majesty could not place any confidence in the
stability of her affection so long as those individuals were still
alive. On his own part, the Cardinal declared his extreme gratification
at the proof afforded by the letter of the Queen-mother to himself that
his enemies had been unable to undermine her regard for him, and
earnestly urged her to comply with the pleasure of the King on the
subject of her above-named servants, by which means she could not fail
to convince every one that she had disapproved of their disloyalty and
evil designs.

"Nor can I forbear reminding her Majesty," he concluded, "with the same
frankness as I formerly used towards her, that, after what has passed,
it would be impossible for the King not to feel great distrust, which it
will be expedient to exert all her energies to overcome, in order to
build up the desired reconciliation on a solid foundation. This once
effected, she will soon receive sufficient evidence that she possesses
one of the most affectionate sons on earth, and she will become aware
of the sincere attachment of one of her servants, although he is unable
under the present circumstances to urge her cause more zealously than he
has already done without incurring the serious displeasure of his
sovereign. The difficulties which I have now explained, however, are
mere clouds which her Majesty can readily disperse, and the King will
further declare to you to-morrow at St. Germain-en-Laye, where you will
be admitted to an audience, whatever he may deem it expedient to
communicate to his august mother."

On the following day the equerry of Marie de Medicis accordingly
proceeded to the Palace of St. Germain, where he found Louis with a brow
so moody, and an eye so stern, that he was at no loss to discover the
utter futility of all hope of success. The promised communication proved
indeed to be a mere repetition of what had already been stated by the
Cardinal; but, contrary to custom (his difficulty of articulation
rendering the King unwilling on ordinary occasions to indulge in much
speaking, diffuse as he was on paper), he enlarged at greater length,
and with infinitely more violence than Richelieu had done, upon the
misdemeanours of the three individuals whom he claimed at the hands of
the Queen-mother, as well as on the necessity of her prompt obedience,
which alone could, as he declared, tend to convince him that she had
been guiltless of all participation in their crimes.

As the mission of the envoy was accomplished, he commenced his
preparations for leaving France; but before they were completed he
received fresh despatches from Marie de Medicis, in which she confirmed
her former promises both to her son and his minister, in terms still
more submissive than those of her previous letters, and requested a
passport for Suffren, her confessor, in order that he might plead
her cause.

Richelieu was, however, too well aware of the timid and scrupulous
nature of the King's conscience, and of the eagerness with which the
able Jesuit would avail himself of a similar knowledge, to suffer him to
approach the person of Louis; and he consequently replied that "it would
be useless for the Queen-mother to send her confessor, or any other
individual, to the French Court, unless they brought with them her
consent to the condition upon which his Majesty had insisted; as the
King had come to an irrevocable determination never to yield upon that
point, and to refuse to listen to any other envoy whom she might
despatch to him, until she had afforded by her obedience a proof of
submission which was indispensable alike to her own reputation, the
tranquillity of the royal family, and the welfare of the kingdom."

While awaiting the reappearance of De Laleu, all the household of Marie
de Medicis, with the exception of Chanteloupe and one or two others,
began to anticipate a speedy return to France. The concessions which she
had made were indeed so important and so unforeseen, that it seemed idle
to apprehend any further opposition on the part either of the King
himself, or of his still more obdurate minister. Great, therefore, was
their dismay when they discovered that their unhappy mistress had
sacrificed her pride in vain, and that she still remained the victim of
her arch-enemy the Cardinal. But among the murmurs by which she was
surrounded not one proceeded from the lips of the persecuted exile
herself. Never had she so nobly asserted herself as on this occasion.
Her resignation was dignified and tearless. In a few earnest words she
declared her determination never to abandon those who had clung to her
in her reverses; and, as a pledge of her sincerity, she appointed the
Abbé de St. Germain to the long-vacant office of her almoner.[209]

From Monsieur she experienced no sympathy; while Puylaurens openly
expressed his gratification at a failure which could but tend to render
the negotiations then pending between the Prince his master and the King
more favourable to the former. One serious impediment presented itself,
however, in the fact that Gaston had, at the entreaty of the Princesse
de Phalsbourg (in order to counteract the attempt of Richelieu, who
sought to contest its legitimacy), consented to celebrate his marriage a
second time, in the presence of the Duc d'Elboeuf, and all the principal
officers of his household. He had also solicited the Queen-mother to
confirm the approval which she had given to the alliance when it had
been originally celebrated at Nancy, and to affix her seal to the
written contract; but Marie de Medicis, who was aware that the King
would deeply resent this open and formal defiance, declined to comply
with his request, having, as she assured him, resolved to abide by the
pleasure of the sovereign in all things, and to avoid every cause
of offence.

As the Prince still continued to urge her upon the subject, she said
coldly, "You persist in vain. You have evinced so little regard for me,
and you reject with so much obstinacy the good advice which I give you,
that I have at length determined never again to interfere in your
affairs. My decision is formed, and henceforward I shall implicitly obey
the will of the King."

This circumstance was immediately reported to Richelieu, who, delighted
to maintain the coldness which had grown up between the mother and son,
hastened to insinuate to Marie de Medicis that Louis had expressed his
gratification at her refusal, and to assure her that should she suffer
the Prince to extort her consent to such an act of wilful revolt against
the royal command she would inevitably ruin her own cause.

Having publicly ratified his marriage by this second solemnization,
Monsieur next proceeded to have it confirmed and approved by the doctors
of the Faculty of Louvain; to write to the Sovereign-Pontiff, declaring
that the alliance which he had formed was valid; and to entreat of his
Holiness to disregard all assurances to the contrary, from whatever
quarter they might proceed.

In order to give additional weight to these declarations, Gaston sent
them by an express to the Papal Court; but his messenger, having been
arrested on the frontier, was conveyed to Paris, and committed to the
Bastille; upon which a second envoy was despatched, who succeeded in
accomplishing his mission.[210] This obstacle to the coveted
establishment of his niece enraged the almost omnipotent minister, while
Gaston, in his turn, encouraged by the representations of his favourite,
communicated to the Marquis d'Ayetona the conditions of the treaty which
had been proposed to him, and declared that he would enter into no
engagement without the sanction of the Spanish sovereign. The past
career of Monsieur had by no means tended to induce an unreserved
confidence in those whom he affected to regard, and the able Governor
accordingly replied, with an equal degree of sincerity, that he strongly
advised the Prince to terminate a struggle which could only tend to
distract the kingdom over which he would, in all probability, soon be
called upon to rule; but at the same time to insist upon the royal
recognition of his marriage, as well as upon holding a fortified town as
a place of refuge, should he thereafter require such protection. He,
moreover, pointed out Chalon-sur-Saône as an eligible stronghold; and
having thus indicated conditions which he was well aware would never be
conceded, the Marquis flattered himself that he had, for a time at
least, rendered a reconciliation between the royal brothers
impracticable.[211]

He was greatly encouraged in this belief when Monsieur, who affected to
regard his return to France as a mere chimera, subsequently consented to
sign a treaty with Spain, by which he pledged himself not to enter into
any agreement with Louis XIII, be the conditions what they might; and,
in the event of a war between the two nations, to attach himself to the
cause of Philip, who was to place under his orders an army of fifteen
thousand men.[212]

This treaty was signed by the Duc d'Orléans and the Marquis d'Ayetona,
and countersigned by the Duque de Lerma and Puylaurens; and the
Spaniards had no sooner succeeded in obtaining it, than both the Marquis
and the Prince of Savoy, who had recently entered the Spanish service,
urged the Queen-mother to join the faction. Marie, however, rejected the
proposition without the hesitation of a moment, declaring that she could
not permit herself to form any alliance so prejudicial to the interests
of the King her son; an act of prudence and good feeling on which she
had soon additional cause to congratulate herself, as the Marquis
d'Ayetona, immediately on its completion, forwarded the treaty to
Madrid, where it was ratified and returned without delay; but the vessel
by which it was sent having been driven on shore near Calais, the
despatches fell into the hands of the French authorities, by whom they
were forwarded to the minister, whose alarm on discovering the nature of
their contents determined him to lose no time in effecting the recall of
the false and faction-loving Prince.

A second attempt which was made upon the life of Puylaurens at this
precise period admirably seconded his views, as the favourite, who
persisted in attributing the act to the friends of the Queen-mother,
declared that he would no longer remain at Brussels, where his safety
was constantly compromised; and Gaston, who was equally unwilling to
consent to a separation, accordingly resolved to waive the conditions
upon which he had previously insisted--namely, the recognition of his
marriage, and the possession of a fortified place--and to submit to the
degrading terms which had been offered by Richelieu.

On this occasion, however, Monsieur was careful not to seek advice
either from his mother or his wife. For once he had self-control enough
to keep his secret, although the constant passage of the couriers
between the two Courts of Paris and Brussels did not fail to alarm the
Spaniards; but as the anxiety of the Cardinal to secure the person of
the Prince had induced him to insist that the prescribed conditions
should be accepted within a fortnight, and that Gaston must return to
France within three weeks, little time was afforded to Ayetona for
elucidating the apparent mystery; and on the 1st of October the treaty
of reconciliation was signed by the King at Écouen.

[Illustration: GEORGE VILLIERS 1ST DUKE OF BUCKINGHAM.]

It would appear, moreover, that the Prince and his favourite were as
little desirous of delay as the Cardinal himself, for on the 8th of the
same month, profiting by the temporary absence of the Marquis, Monsieur,
pretexting a fox-hunt, left Brussels early in the morning, accompanied
only by a few confidential friends; and so soon as they were fairly
beyond the city, they set spurs to their horses, and never drew bridle
until after sunset, when they reached La Capelle, the frontier town of
France, not having taken the slightest refreshment throughout the
day.[213] For some time previous to his flight Gaston had estranged
himself not only from the Queen-mother, but also from Madame; and their
astonishment was not unmingled with indignation when they became aware
that he had thus heartlessly abandoned both in order to secure his own
safety. A hurried and brief letter in which he solicited the protection
of Marie de Medicis for his ill-requited wife was the only proof which
he vouchsafed of his continued interest in their welfare; and this
despatched, he pursued his rapid journey to St. Germain-en-Laye, having
previously apprised the King of his approach to the capital.

Louis was at table when the arrival of his brother was announced, but he
instantly rose, and hastened to meet him at the door of the palace.

When he alighted and recognized the King, Gaston bowed low, but did not
attempt to bend his knee. "Sir," he said reverently, "I know not if it
be joy or fear which renders me speechless, but I have at least words
enough left to solicit your pardon for the past."

"Brother," replied the King, "we will not speak of the past. God has
given us the happiness of meeting once more, and the moment is a joyful
one to me."

The two Princes then embraced each other with every appearance of
sincerity and goodwill, after which Louis led Monsieur to his private
closet, where they were shortly joined by the Cardinal.

As the latter was announced Louis XIII exclaimed earnestly: "Brother, I
entreat of you to love M. le Cardinal."

"I will love him," was the reply of the Prince, "as I love myself, and I
will follow his advice in all things."

Richelieu fell on his knees, and kissed the hands of Monsieur.

Gaston d'Orléans was, for the moment, gained.[214]

The first few days of this royal reunion were entirely devoted to
festivity, after which the minister endeavoured to induce the Prince to
consent to the annulment of his marriage with the Princesse de Lorraine;
but upon this point Gaston evinced a firmness which astonished all those
who were able to appreciate the recklessness and instability of his
general character, and, finding himself pressed beyond his power of
endurance, he retired, accompanied by Puylaurens, to Blois, whence he
wrote to remonstrate against the delay which had taken place in the
fulfilment of the promises made to his favourite. Uneasy lest the
restless spirit of the Prince should induce him once more to revolt if
his claims remained disregarded, Richelieu caused him to be informed
that M. de Puylaurens was awaited in Paris in order that his marriage
might be concluded with the younger daughter of the Baron de
Pontchâteau, on the same day that the Duc de la Valette was to espouse
the elder; while the Comte de Guiche, son of the Comte de Grammont, was
also to give his hand to Mademoiselle du Plessis-Chivray, another
relative of the Cardinal-Minister. This intelligence caused the greatest
satisfaction to Monsieur, who forthwith proceeded to the capital with
Puylaurens; and on the 19th of November both the Prince and his
favourite were magnificently entertained at Ruel, whence they
subsequently departed for St. Germain, in order to sign the contract in
the presence of the King.

On the 26th of the same month the triple ceremony of betrothal took
place at the Louvre. A full and unreserved pardon was publicly declared
in favour of all the adherents of Monsieur, and two days subsequently
the several marriages were celebrated with great pomp at the Arsenal.
The lordship of Aiguillon, which had been purchased from the Princesse
Marie de Gonzaga for six hundred thousand livres, was erected into a
duchy-peerage under the name of Puylaurens, upon whom it was conferred,
and who took his seat in the Parliament on the 7th of December as Duc de
Puylaurens; after which Gaston once more returned to Blois, in order to
avoid the persevering persecutions of the minister on the subject of
his marriage.


FOOTNOTES:

[204] Le Clerc, vol. ii. pp. 143, 144.

[205] Léon Bouthillier, Comte de Chavigny, the son of Claude
Bouthillier, Superintendent of Finance, was in 1634 Secretary of State.
Louis XIII, in his will, appointed him Minister of State, and Member of
the Council of Regency, but he was some time afterwards dismissed from
office, together with his father. Léon Bouthillier died in 1652.

[206] Le Clerc, vol. ii. pp. 159, 160.

[207] Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. vii. p. 761.

[208] Luc, Vicomte de Fabbroni, was a celebrated astrologer, who
attached himself to the fortunes of Marie de Medicis, to whom he had, on
several occasions, predicted the early death of Louis XIII, the
accession of Gaston d'Orléans, and her own restoration to regal power.

[209] Le Clerc, vol. ii. pp. 158-163. Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. vii. pp.
763, 764. Le Vassor, vol. vii. p. 360.

[210] Gaston d'Orléans, _Mém_. pp. 155, 156.

[211] Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. vii. p. 756.

[212] Capefigue, vol. v. p. 216. Sismondi, vol. xxiii. p. 241. Le Clerc,
vol. ii. pp. 166, 167. Mézeray, vol. xi. p. 443.

[213] Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. viii. pp. 101, 102. Gaston d'Orléans,
_Mém_. p. 169. Le Vassor, vol. viii. p. 307.

[214] Capefigue, vol. v. pp. 228, 229.



CHAPTER XII

1635-38

Richelieu resolves to accomplish the disgrace of Puylaurens--Gaston
proceeds to Paris during the Carnival, and his favourite is arrested in
the Louvre--He is conveyed to Vincennes, where he dies--The Queen-mother
and Madame take up their abode at Antwerp--Marie de Medicis solicits the
protection of the Pope--Her letter is coldly received--She is accused by
Richelieu of favouring the Spanish cause--She endeavours to dissuade
Louis XIII from a war with Spain, and her arguments are haughtily
repulsed--Her envoy is ordered to quit the capital--The Queen-mother
once more appeals to the Sovereign-Pontiff, who declines to excite
against himself the enmity of the Cardinal-Minister--Louis XIII pursues
the war with Spain--Monsieur and the Comte de Soissons enter into a
conspiracy to assassinate Richelieu--The Queen-mother joins the
faction--The plot is betrayed---Gaston returns to his allegiance--Marie
de Medicis induces the Comte de Soissons to enter into a treaty with
Spain--The intrigue is discovered by the Cardinal--The Queen-mother once
more solicits an asylum in England--Charles I accedes to her request,
and endeavours to effect her reconciliation with the French
King--Richelieu determines Louis to reply by a refusal--Monsieur
abandons his wife, who becomes dependent for her support upon the
Spanish Government--Insignificance of Gaston--The Duchess of Savoy
endeavours to effect the recall of her royal mother to France--The three
Churchmen--Pregnancy of Anne of Austria--Renewed hopes of the
Queen-mother--She is again urged to reside in Tuscany--She proceeds to
Holland, and is magnificently received--The Prince of Orange intercedes
in her behalf with the French King--Richelieu reiterates his wish that
she should retire to Florence--The Dutch request her to leave the
country--Marie de Medicis embarks for England--She is received at
Gravesend by Charles I--Takes up her abode in St. James's
Palace--Meeting between the two Queens--Precarious position of the
English King--The Court of the Queen-mother--The French Ambassador is
instructed to abstain from all intercourse with the royal exile--A last
appeal--Obduracy of the Cardinal--Richelieu, his sovereign, and his
benefactress.


Richelieu, however, was far from intending that the Duc d'Orléans should
remain unmolested in his retreat. Puylaurens was the first individual
who had dared to dictate his own terms, and to enforce their observance;
and although his Eminence had a great affection for his niece, he was by
no means inclined to pardon the arrogance of her husband. An opportunity
of revenge soon presented itself. The attractions of the Carnival proved
too great for the prudence of Gaston, who accordingly proceeded to the
capital, in order to share in its delights; and when, on the 14th of
February 1635, he reached the Louvre, where he was expected to attend
the rehearsal of a ballet, his favourite, by whom he was accompanied,
was arrested in the royal closet by the captain of the guard, and
conveyed to Vincennes. This act of severity was as unexpected at the
moment as it remained unexplained in the sequel. Suffice it that
Monsieur did not permit the disgrace of his chosen and trusted friend to
interfere with his own amusement and gratification at so exciting a
season, although he could not fail to feel that, once in the grasp of
the Cardinal, the unhappy Puylaurens was doomed.

The result proved the truth of this apprehension; nobler and prouder
lives than that of the spoiled favourite of Gaston had been sacrificed
to the enmity of Richelieu. The tears and supplications of the
heart-broken bride were disregarded; and four months after his arrest
Puylaurens expired in his prison of, as it was asserted, typhus
fever--the same disease to which, by an extraordinary coincidence, two
former enemies of the Cardinal, the Maréchal d'Ornano and the
Grand-Prieur de Vendôme, had both fallen victims when confined at
Vincennes.[215]

During this time the unhappy Queen-mother, who found herself abandoned
on every side, had retired to Antwerp with the Princesse Marguerite, in
order to escape the mortifications to which she was constantly subjected
by the increasing coldness of her Spanish allies; and thence she wrote
earnestly to the Sovereign-Pontiff entreating his interference to effect
her reconciliation with the King, and begging him to exert his influence
to avert the war with Spain which the Cardinal was labouring to provoke.
The answer which she received to this despatch was cold and
discouraging, but she still persevered; and in a second letter upon the
same subjects she apprised his Holiness that she had appointed the Abbé
de Fabbroni (one of her almoners) her resident at the Court of Rome; and
had despatched another gentleman of her household to the Emperor of
Germany to enforce a similar request. She, moreover, wrote to inform
Mazarin, who was at that period nuncio-extraordinary in France, that she
had addressed her son-in-law Philip of Spain for the like purpose, and
requested him to deliver into the hands of Louis XIII a despatch by
which his own was accompanied. Her selection of an agent on this
occasion was, however, an unfortunate one, as Mazarin was devoted to the
interests of the Cardinal-Minister, to whom he immediately transferred
the packet, when the first impulse of Richelieu was to suppress it; but
having ascertained that the Queen-mother had caused several copies to be
made, and that she could not ultimately fail to secure its transmission,
he endeavoured to weaken the effect of her remonstrances by accusing her
of an attempt to corrupt the loyalty of the Duc de Rohan, and to induce
him to adopt the interests of Spain.

This accusation sufficed to render Louis insensible alike to the
entreaties and the arguments of his mother; and when Mazarin, in order
to maintain appearances, requested a reply to the letter with which he
had been entrusted, the King declined to furnish one, asserting that
should he concede any answer to so seditious, so Spanish, and so
hypocritical a missive, while the Queen was engaged in endeavouring to
alienate one of his great nobles, he should be compelled to represent to
her the crime of which she was guilty towards the state; and that the
affectation with which she had dwelt upon the desire of the late King to
maintain a good understanding with Spain was merely an expedient for
vilifying his own government, indulging her hatred of the Cardinal, and
seeking to create a rebellion among his subjects. He added, moreover,
that when the Queen should see fit to act as became his mother, he would
honour her as such; and that it was in order not to fail in his respect
towards her that he forbore to reply to her communication, although the
Nuncio was at liberty to do so in his name should he consider it
expedient.[216]

Nor was this the only mortification to which Marie de Medicis was
subjected by her attempt to preserve the peace of Europe; for Richelieu,
irritated by her interference, no sooner became aware that she had
despatched the Abbé de Fabbroni to Rome, than he instructed the French
Ambassador at that Court to complain to his Holiness of so unprecedented
an innovation; and to remind him that the Queen-mother was not a
sovereign, but a subject, and consequently did not possess the privilege
of appointing a resident at any foreign Court; but must, on every
occasion when treating with his Holiness, avail herself of the services
of the accredited envoy of the King her son.

To this expostulation, however, Urban replied that the circumstance was
not without precedent, as bishops had agents at the Papal Court; but,
notwithstanding the apparent firmness with which he withstood the
arguments of the Cardinal, it is asserted that he privately intimated
to M. de Fabbroni the expediency of his immediate departure; a
suggestion which was obeyed upon the instant.[217]

The indignation of Marie de Medicis at this new insult was unbounded.
Again she addressed the Sovereign-Pontiff, and inveighed bitterly on the
persecution of which she was the victim; but beyond the mere expression
of his sympathy the Pope declined all interference between herself and
the minister, whose gigantic power rendered his enmity formidable even
to the head of the Church. Once more the widow of one of the most
vaunted sovereigns of France was compelled to bow in silence to the
enmity of an individual whom she had herself elevated to influence and
dignity; and while France was engaged in a war which not only riveted
the attention but also involved the interests of the whole of Europe,
history is silent as to her sufferings. All that can be gathered
concerning her is the fact that the Spaniards, resenting the reverses to
which they were subjected by the armies of Louis XIII, became less than
ever inclined to sympathize in her sufferings when they discovered her
utter helplessness; nor was it until the Duc d'Orléans and the Comte de
Soissons entered into a conspiracy (in 1636) to overthrow the Cardinal,
that she was once more involved in public affairs.

Meanwhile the piety of the Queen-mother had degenerated into
superstition; she had applied to the Pope to authorize the canonization
of an obscure nun of Antwerp; and, in accordance with the directions of
Suffren her confessor, and Chanteloupe her confidant, she had abandoned
herself to the most rigorous observances of her faith. But ambition was
"scotched, not killed," in the soul of Marie de Medicis; and she no
sooner saw the Princes in open rebellion against the power of Richelieu
than her hopes once more revived, and she made instant preparations to
join their faction. The design was, however, betrayed, and thus rendered
abortive; upon which Gaston, according to his wont, soon submitted to
the terms dictated by the minister, and returned to his allegiance,
abandoning M. de Soissons, who proved less complying, to the displeasure
of the King; when (in 1637) the Queen-mother, whose hopes had been
nearly extinguished by the defeat of the Spaniards at Corbie, and their
retreat beyond the frontiers of Picardy, wrote to the Count, tendering
to him the most advantageous offers, both from the Spanish monarch and
Prince Thomas of Savoy, and offering personally to enter into the
treaty. This proposition was eagerly accepted by M. de Soissons, and
reciprocal promises of assistance and good faith were exchanged; while
the Cardinal Infant, on his side, made a solemn compact with the exiled
Queen that the Catholic King should conclude neither peace nor truce
with France until Marie de Medicis and the Comte de Soissons were
re-established in their rights; that the Queen-mother should reject all
conditions of reconciliation until after the death or disgrace of
Richelieu; that, should either one or the other event occur before the
existing dissension between France and the House of Austria was
adjusted, the Queen-mother, the Comte de Soissons, and all their French
adherents should remain neutral during the space of four months, which
were to be employed by all parties in endeavours to secure a general
peace; that, in the event of its not being concluded at the expiration
of that period, Marie de Medicis and Soissons should be free to effect
their reconciliation with the French King, without incurring the blame
of forfeiting their faith to Philip of Spain; that the last-named
monarch should furnish two hundred and fifty thousand livres in ready
money, and an equal sum a month later in property equivalent to specie;
and that if the Comte de Soissons were compelled to retire from France,
the King of Spain should afford him his protection, and furnish him with
sufficient means to live according to his birth and rank.

A treaty of this nature, so formidable in its conception, and so
threatening in its results, could not long remain a secret to the
Cardinal-Minister; and accordingly he did not fail to be apprised of the
intrigue before it had time to produce its effect, and resolved to
conciliate the Comte de Soissons, even were it only for the present
moment. Of Marie de Medicis he had long ceased to feel any apprehension,
and he consequently made no effort to include her in the amnesty; a
demonstration of contempt which so deeply wounded the exiled Princess
that she resolved to despatch a messenger to the Court of London to
solicit the interposition of Charles I. and Henriette in her behalf; but
despite all her disappointments the Queen-mother still sought to obtain
conditions which past experience should have sufficed to prove that
Richelieu never would accord.

The English monarch had, indeed, yielded to the entreaties of a wife to
whom he was at that period devotedly attached, and had consented to
exert all his influence in favour of the unhappy Princess, who now saw
herself abandoned by both her sons; but the state of his own kingdom was
too unsettled to permit of his enforcing terms which he consequently
perceived to be hopeless. Nevertheless he acceded to her request, and
forwarded to the Court of France the document which was delivered to him
by her envoy, but it produced no effect; and while every other
state-criminal was reinstated in the favour of the King, on tendering
the required submission, and conforming to the stipulated conditions,
the Queen-mother found herself excluded from all hope of recall and all
prospect of reconciliation.

Richelieu was aware that necessity alone had induced her to pronounce
his pardon, and that her wrongs were too great ever to be forgotten. No
wonder, therefore, that he shrank from a struggle which, should the
voice of popular favour once more be raised in her behalf, might tend to
his overthrow; and that struggle, as he well knew, could take place only
on the soil of France. Her exile was his safety; and the astute Cardinal
had long determined that it should end only with her life.[218]

On every side the unfortunate Marie de Medicis saw herself surrounded by
misfortune. Gaston, at the instigation of the Cardinal, had ceased to
supply his neglected wife with the means of supporting, not merely her
rank, but even her existence, and had left her dependent upon the
generosity of the Spanish Government which he had so unblushingly
betrayed. He had himself become a mere cypher in the kingdom over which
he hoped one day to rule. He seldom appeared at Court; and when he was
prevailed upon to do so, he was the obsequious admirer of Richelieu, and
the submissive subject of the King. The Spaniards, since the departure
of the heir-apparent to the French Crown, had ceased to evince the same
respect towards the mother whom he had abandoned; and although they
still accorded to her a pension that placed her above want, the
munificence with which they had greeted her arrival had long ceased to
call forth her gratitude. Her position was consequently desperate; and
her only prospect of escaping from so miserable a fate as that by which
she was ultimately threatened existed in the hope that should she
voluntarily retire from Flanders, and place herself under the protection
of England, she might yet succeed in enforcing her claims.

While she was still meditating this project, Christine, the widowed
Duchess of Savoy, resolved to make a last effort to effect the recall of
her persecuted mother to France; and for this purpose she despatched to
Paris a Jesuit named Monod, who succeeded in establishing a friendship
with Caussin, the King's confessor, whom he induced to second the
attempt. As both one and the other, however, believed success to be
impossible so long as Richelieu retained his influence over the mind of
the sovereign, they resolved to undermine his favour. Caussin, like all
his predecessors, had great power over the timid conscience and
religious scruples of his royal penitent, and the two Jesuits were well
aware that through these alone could Louis be rendered vulnerable to
their entreaties; while they were, moreover, encouraged in their hopes
by the circumstance that the Cardinal-Minister had never evinced the
slightest distrust of Caussin, whom he believed to be devoted to his
interests, and that the latter consequently possessed ample
opportunities for prosecuting his object.

At the close of the year, therefore, the attempt was made; and, as the
Jesuit had anticipated, Louis listened with submission and even respect
to his expostulations. "Your minister misleads you, Sire," said his
confessor, "where your better nature would guide you in the right path.
He it is who has induced your Majesty to abandon your mother, who is not
only condemned to exile, but reduced to the greatest necessity, and
indebted to strangers for the very means of existence."

The King was visibly moved by this assertion, but he remained silent,
and suffered the ecclesiastic to proceed. Emboldened by this attention,
Caussin did not scruple to declare that the Cardinal had usurped an
amount of power which tended to degrade the royal authority; that the
subjects of France were reduced to misery by the exorbitant taxation to
which they were subjected; and that the interests of religion itself
were threatened by Richelieu, who was affording help to the Swedes and
the Protestants of Germany.

"Shake off this yoke, Sire," concluded the Jesuit; "exert your royal
prerogative, and dismiss the Cardinal-Duke from office. Be the sovereign
of your own nation, and the master of your own actions. You will have a
more tranquil conscience, and a more prosperous reign."

"You are perhaps right, Father," replied the King with emotion; "but you
must give me time for reflection."

Caussin obeyed, auguring well of his mission; but his self-gratulation
was premature, for he had scarcely left the closet of his penitent when
he was succeeded by the Cardinal, who, perceiving the agitation of the
King, experienced little difficulty in extorting from him the subject of
the conversation in which he had just been engaged; and a few moments
sufficed to restore alike the complacency of Louis and his confidence in
his minister.

There is sufficient evidence to prove that the French King never
bestowed his regard upon Richelieu; as a boy he had evinced towards him
an undisguised aversion which he never overcame, but he had learnt to
fear him; the feeble mind of the monarch had bowed before the strong
intellect of the minister; the sovereign could not contend against the
statesman; the crown of France rested upon the brows of the one, but her
destinies were poised in the hand of the other; and the strength of
Richelieu grew out of the weakness of his master.

As a natural consequence of his imprudence Caussin was shortly
afterwards arrested, and banished to Brittany; and the Cardinal no
sooner ascertained the complicity of Monod than, despite the reluctance
of the Duchess of Savoy to abandon a man who had hazarded his life in
her cause, he was, in his turn, condemned to expiate his error by a
rigorous captivity.[219]

The unhoped-for pregnancy of Anne of Austria at this period once more
revived the hopes of Marie de Medicis, who trusted that on such an
occasion a general amnesty would necessarily supervene. She deceived
herself, however; for although Richelieu professed the greatest desire
to see her once more in France, he was in reality as earnest as ever in
creating obstacles to a reconciliation so inimical to his own interests.
In vain did the unhappy Queen-mother remind him of her advancing age and
her increasing necessities; and plead that, whatever might have been her
former errors, they must now be considered as expiated by seven weary
years of exile; the minister only replied by expressions of his profound
regret that the internal politics of the kingdom did not permit him to
urge her recall upon the sovereign; and his extreme desire to see her
select a residence elsewhere than within the territory of his enemies,
where she was subjected to perpetual suspicion; while, should she
determine to fix her abode at Florence, his Majesty was prepared to
restore all her forfeited revenues, and to confer upon her an
establishment suited to her rank and dignity.

As Richelieu was well aware, no proposal could be more unpalatable than
this to the haughty Princess. Eight-and-thirty years had elapsed since
Marie de Medicis, then in the full pride of youth and beauty, had
quitted her uncle's court in regal splendour to ascend the throne of
France; and now--how did the heartless minister urge her to return?
Hopeless, friendless, and powerless; with a name which had become a
mockery, to a family wherein she would be a stranger. At Florence her
existence was a mere tradition. All who had once loved her were
dispersed or dead; no personal interest bound her to their survivors;
and where long years previously she might have claimed affection, she
could now only anticipate pity or dread contempt. The perpetual
illnesses of the King, moreover, rendered her averse to such a measure;
every succeeding attack had produced a more marked effect upon the
naturally feeble constitution of Louis; the astrologers by whom she was
surrounded continued to foretell his approaching death; and she yet
indulged visions of a second regency, during which she might once more
become all-powerful.

Nevertheless, she could not conceal from herself that by persistently
remaining in a country at open war with France, she strengthened the
hands of Richelieu without advancing her own interests; and although
she felt that she could ill dispense with the generosity of her
son-in-law Philip of Spain, who, even at a period when he frequently
found himself unable to meet the demands of his army, still continued to
treat her with a munificence truly royal, she resolved to withdraw from
the Low Countries; and, accordingly, on the 10th of August, alleging
that she was about to remove to Spa for the restoration of her health,
she took her leave of the Court of Brussels; and, suddenly changing her
route, proceeded to Bois-le-Duc, where she placed herself under the
protection of the Prince of Orange.[220]

The arrival of the Queen-mother in Holland excited universal
gratulation, as the Dutch did not for an instant doubt that it was a
preliminary to a reconciliation with her son; and once more she found
herself the object of universal homage. Municipal processions and civic
banquets were hastily arranged in her honour; every hôtel-de-ville was
given up for her accommodation; burgomasters harangued her, and citizens
formed her bodyguard; while so enthusiastic were the self-deceived
Hollanders that even Art was enlisted in her welcome, and engravings
still exist wherein her reception is commemorated under the most
extravagant allegories; one of which represents the aged and
broken-hearted Queen as the goddess Ceres, drawn by two lions in a
gilded car.  But her advent in Holland was, unhappily, not destined to
ensure to her either the power or the abundance with which she was thus
gratuitously invested by the pencil of the painter; for on her arrival
at the Hague, when, in compliance with her entreaty, the Prince of
Orange personally solicited her restoration to favour and her return to
France, pledging himself in her name that she would never again
interfere in the public affairs of the kingdom, nor enter into any cabal
either against the state or the Cardinal-Minister, his application was
totally disregarded by Louis XIII; and only elicited an official reply
from Richelieu to the effect "that his Majesty could not receive the
said lady and Queen into his realm, inasmuch as he had just reason to
fear that she would continue under his name, and perhaps unknown to him,
to create factions and cabals, not only in his own kingdom, but in those
of his allies; but that should it please the said lady and Queen to
retire to Florence, where the malcontents could not exert their
influence over her mind, or injure either himself or his allies, his
Majesty again offered her, as he had already done, a position at once
more honourable and inure opulent than that with which she had contented
herself in Flanders." [221]

This answer was, as Richelieu had intended that it should be, perfectly
decisive to the Prince, who was aware that Marie de Medicis would have
preferred death to a return to the banks of the Arno under her present
circumstances; while the so-lately enthusiastic Hollanders, on
ascertaining that the French Ambassador at the Hague had received
orders not to wait upon or recognize their new guest, began to apprehend
that her presence in their country might injure their interests with
France; while, at the same time, the great outlay necessary for the
maintenance of her establishment alarmed their economy; and it was
consequently not long ere they respectfully intimated to her Majesty
their trust that she would not prolong her sojourn among them.

This was a new outrage upon her dignity which struck to the very soul of
the royal exile, who resolved no longer to defer her departure for
England; and, accordingly, on the 19th of November she embarked for that
country. Still, however, misfortune appeared to pursue her, for the
winter proved one of great severity, and she narrowly escaped shipwreck,
after having been tempest-tossed for several days. Her reception,
nevertheless, compensated for this temporary suffering, as Charles
himself travelled in state to Gravesend to escort her to London, where
the most magnificent preparations had been made for her accommodation
and that of her retinue in St. James's Palace. The fifty apartments
which were appropriated to her use had been arranged under the personal
superintendence of her daughter Henrietta of England, and were replete
with every luxury which could conduce to the well-being of the
illustrious exile; while, as if to compensate alike to her persecuted
mother and to herself for the tardiness of their meeting (the advanced
pregnancy of the English queen having rendered it inexpedient that she
should be exposed to the fatigue of travelling), she no sooner
ascertained, by the trumpet-blast which announced its appearance, that
the carriage containing her royal consort and his illustrious guest had
entered the principal court of the palace, than she hastened, surrounded
by her children, to bid them welcome; and as her unhappy parent
descended from the coach supported on the arm of the King, Henriette
threw herself upon her knees before her, and seizing her hands, pressed
them convulsively to her heart, and bathed them with her tears. Marie de
Medicis, tutored as she had been in suffering, was scarcely less moved;
and thus the meeting between the august mother and daughter was most
affecting: Henriette had so long yearned for the companionship of her
kindred, while Marie de Medicis had, on her side, been for so great a
period cut off from all the ties of family affection, that as they wept
in each other's arms, the one was unable to articulate a welcome, and
the other to express her acknowledgments for the warm greeting which she
had experienced.

Immediately on her arrival in England, Charles I. awarded to the exiled
Queen a pension of a hundred pounds a day on the civil list; but her
advent had, nevertheless, occurred at an inauspicious moment for the
English sovereign, whose resources were crippled, and who abstained
from levying subsidies upon his subjects in order not to assemble a
Parliament; while he moreover dreaded that the presence of his royal
mother-in-law, with her numerous train of priests, would tend to
exasperate the spirit of the people, who were already greatly excited
against the Roman Catholics.

Nor were these his only causes of anxiety, as many of the French
malcontents who had fled their country in order to escape the enmity of
Richelieu had selected London as their place of refuge, relying upon the
friendship of Henriette (a circumstance which had increased the coldness
that already existed between the two Courts); and these at once rallied
round Marie de Medicis as their common centre. Among these illustrious
emigrants the most distinguished were the Duchesse de Chevreuse and the
Ducs de Soubise and de la Valette, all of whom were surrounded by a
considerable number of exiles of inferior rank; and as the Queen-mother
saw them gathered about her, she easily persuaded herself that their
voluntary absence from France was a convincing proof of the general
unpopularity of her own arch--enemy Richelieu. Her personal suite,
moreover, included no less than two hundred individuals; and thus the
palace of the Stuarts presented the anomalous spectacle of a French
Court, where the nobles of a hostile land, and the priests of a hostile
faith, held undisturbed authority, to the open dissatisfaction of the
sturdy citizens of London.  Murmurs were rife on all sides; and the
Queen-mother was regarded as a harbinger of misfortune. Henriette
herself was obnoxious to the Puritans, but they had been to a certain
degree disarmed by her gentleness of demeanour, and the prudence and
policy of her conduct; she was, moreover, the wife of the sovereign, and
about to become the mother of a prince; but Marie de Medicis possessed
no claims on their forbearance, and they did not hesitate to attribute
to her views and designs which she was too powerless to entertain.

At this period the Queen-mother was subjected to the mortification of
learning that M. de Bellièvre, the ambassador-extraordinary of her son
at the Court of England, had received stringent instructions to abstain
from all demonstration of courtesy towards her person; and even to avoid
finding himself in her presence, whenever the etiquette of his position
would permit of his absenting himself from the royal circle; a command
which he so scrupulously obeyed, that although, in her anxiety to enlist
him in her cause, she had more than once endeavoured to address him, she
had constantly failed; until Lord Holland, at her entreaty, on one
occasion contrived to detain him in the great gallery at Whitehall,
where Marie de Medicis entered accompanied by the King and Queen.

As the royal party passed near him, Bellièvre bowed low, without looking
towards the mother of his sovereign. Escape was impossible; and he
consequently remained silent and motionless.

"Monsieur l'Ambassadeur," said a well-remembered voice, "I wish to
exchange a few words with you."

Charles and Henriette moved on; Lord Holland withdrew; and the
Queen-mother at length found herself face to face with the French envoy,
who had no alternative but to assume an attitude of profound respect,
and to extricate himself from this unexpected difficulty as best
he might.

Marie de Medicis was painfully agitated. Her future fate in all
probability hinged upon this long-coveted interview, and some seconds
elapsed before she could utter a syllable. She continued standing,
although her emotion compelled her to lean for support upon a table; and
Bellièvre, courtier though he was, could scarcely have looked unmoved
upon the wreck of pride and power thus placed before him. Years and
sorrows had furrowed the lofty brow, and dimmed the flashing eyes, of
the once beautiful Tuscan Princess, but she still retained all that
dignity of deportment for which she was celebrated on her arrival in her
adopted country. She was a fugitive and an exile, but she was yet every
inch a Queen; and her very misfortunes invested her with an interest
which no true and honest heart could fail to feel.

"Sir," she said at length, "I have for some time past endeavoured by
every means in my power to impress upon the Cardinal de Richelieu my
earnest desire to return to France by his interposition; but all my
attempts have been useless. I have received no reply."

"Madame," interposed Bellièvre, "I humbly entreat of your Majesty to
permit me to explain that although I have the honour to be the
representative of my sovereign at this Court, I am not authorized to
appear in that character towards yourself. It is possible that your
Majesty has the intention of entrusting me with some message, in which
case I entreat of you to excuse me when I decline to undertake its
transmission. I have express orders not to interfere in anything
connected either with the person or with the concerns of your Majesty."

"You have probably not been forbidden to hear what I desire to say,"
exclaimed the Queen, with a burst of her former spirit.

"I confess it, Madame," conceded the ambassador; "but since I was not
commanded to do so, I beg that I may be forgiven should I decline to
obey you in the event of your requiring me to make any written
communication from yourself to the King my master."

"Enough!" said Marie de Medicis, with a gesture of impatience. "Listen.
The afflictions which I have undergone since I took refuge in the Low
Countries have inspired me with very different feelings from those with
which I left Compiègne. I beg you to inform the Cardinal that I entreat
of him to deliver me from the miserable position in which I now find
myself, and from the bitter necessity of soliciting my bread from my
sons-in-law. I desire to be once more near the King. I do not ask for
either power or authority; all that I require is to pass the remainder
of my days in peace, and in preparing myself for death. If the Cardinal
cannot obtain the permission of the King for my return to Court, let him
at least request that I may be allowed to reside in some city within the
kingdom, and be restored to the possession of my revenues. I offer to
dismiss from my household all such individuals as may be obnoxious to
his Majesty, and to obey him in all things without comment. His orders
and the advice of the Cardinal shall regulate my conduct. This is all
that I require you to communicate to the latter; as I fear that those to
whom I have hitherto addressed myself have been deficient either in
courage or in will to perform the errand entrusted to them."

Bellièvre hesitated for a moment. There was a tearful tremor in the
voice of the persecuted Princess which it required all his diplomacy to
resist; but he soon rallied. "Madame," he replied calmly, "your Majesty
shall have no reason to visit the same reproach on me, for it is with
extreme regret that I protest my utter inability to serve you on this
occasion."

"I fully comprehend the value of your frankness, M. de Bellièvre," said
the Queen-mother, as she raised herself to her full height, and fixed
upon him her dark and searching eyes. "Such is the usual style of
ambassadors. They decline to undertake certain commissions, but they
nevertheless report all that has taken place. I had experience of that
fact more than once during my regency."

Having uttered these biting words, Marie de Medicis turned from the
discomfited courtier, and approached the window to which Charles I. and
his Queen had retired; followed, however, by Bellièvre.

"Your Majesties must permit me," he said firmly, "to repeat in your
presence what I have already declared to the mother of my sovereign. I
dare not undertake the mission with which she desires to honour me. You
will, without doubt, remember, Madame," he added, turning towards
Henriette, whose emotion was uncontrollable, "that you have on several
occasions commanded me to write in your name in behalf of the
Queen-mother; and that I have always entreated of your Majesty not to
insist on my obedience, in consequence of the stringent orders which I
have received to avoid all interference in an affair of which the King
my master desires to reserve the exclusive management."

"I do not deny it, sir," said Henriette with dignity; "but since my
royal brother will not consent to listen to any solicitations in favour
of the Queen my mother, my husband and myself have conceived that the
only alternative which remains to her is to compel an explanation with
his ministers, with the participation of the several European Courts in
which she may see fit to reside."

Again M. de Bellièvre declared his utter inability to meet the wishes of
the persecuted Marie; upon which Charles, coldly bending his head to the
French envoy, offered a hand to each of the agitated Queens, and led
them from the gallery.

Despite all his professions of neutrality, however, Bellièvre, as Marie
de Medicis had predicted, lost no time in communicating all the details
of the interview to Richelieu,[222] who forthwith dictated a private
despatch, to which he obtained the signature of Louis, to repulse the
demand of the Queen-mother. The Cardinal had passed the Rubicon. He
could no longer hope that his persecuted benefactress would ever again
place confidence in his protestations, or quietly permit him to exert
the authority which he had so arrogantly assumed; and thus he readily
persuaded the weak monarch--who had, moreover, long ceased to reason
upon the will of his all-powerful minister--that the return of the
ill-fated Marie to France would be the signal of intestine broil and
foreign aggression. In vain did Henrietta of England address letter
after letter to her royal brother, representing the evil impression
which so prolonged a persecution of their common parent had produced
upon the minds of all the European princes; the fiat of Richelieu had
gone forth; and the only result obtained by the filial anxiety of the
English Queen was a series of plausible replies, in which she was
complimented upon her good intentions, but at the same time requested
not to interfere in the private arrangements of the King her brother.

Desirous, nevertheless, of escaping the odium of so unnatural and
revolting an abandonment of his royal benefactress, the Cardinal caused
a council to be assembled to consider her demand, and to deliberate upon
the measures to be adopted in consequence; declaring his own intention
to maintain a strict neutrality, and instructing the several members to
deliver to him their opinions in writing. All had, however, been
previously concerted; before the meeting assembled Richelieu informed
his coadjutors that the King had voluntarily declared that no reliance
was to be placed upon the professions of the Queen-mother, as she had on
many previous occasions acted with great dissimulation, and that it was
not in her nature long to remain satisfied with any place in which she
might take up her abode; that she could not make herself happy in
France, where she was both powerful and honoured; that she had been
constantly discontented in Flanders, although she had adopted that
country as her own; that she had lived in perpetual hostility with the
Duc d'Orléans after having induced him to quit the kingdom; and that she
was even then at variance with the Princesse Marguerite, although she
had countenanced her marriage with Monsieur in opposition to the will of
the sovereign; that she had not gone to Holland without some hostile
motive to himself and his kingdom; and that she was already becoming
weary of England.

Moreover, as the Cardinal further informed them, Louis XIII had himself
asserted that since her Majesty had failed to content herself with the
exalted position which she had at one time filled in France, it was not
to be anticipated that she would rest satisfied with that which, should
she return, she must hereafter occupy; but would once more become a
rallying point for all the malcontents who were formerly her
adherents.[223]

Thus prompted, the members of the council readily came to the conclusion
"that the King could not with safety decide upon the proposition of the
Queen-mother until the establishment of a solid peace had placed the
intentions of that Princess beyond suspicion, being aware of her
intelligence with the enemies of his kingdom; and that, from the same
motive, as well as from the apprehension that she might be induced to
make an ill use of her revenues, they were of opinion that they should
only be restored to her on the condition that she should fix her future
residence at Florence." [224]

This was, as we have already shown, the invariable expedient of
Richelieu, who was aware that the prospect of the Queen-mother's return
to France was not more repugnant to himself than the idea of retiring in
disgrace and dishonour to her birthplace had ever been to his unhappy
victim; and the proposal was accordingly repeated at every opportunity,
because the minister was aware that it would never be accepted; while it
afforded, from its apparent liberality, a pretext for casting the whole
odium of her prolonged exile upon Marie de Medicis herself.

In order to carry out the vast schemes of his ambition, the Cardinal
had, at this period, reduced the monarch to a mere cypher in his own
kingdom; but he could not, nevertheless, blind himself to the fact that
Louis XIII, who was weak rather than wicked, had frequent scruples of
conscience, and that during those moments of reflection and remorse he
was easily influenced by those about him; while, whenever this occurred,
he evinced a disposition to revolt against the ministerial authority
which alarmed the Cardinal, and compelled him to be constantly upon his
guard. After having throughout fifteen years successfully struggled
against the spread of Calvinism, and that remnant of feudal anarchy
which still lingered in France; humbled the House of Austria, his most
dreaded rival; and, in order to aggrandize the state he served, sowed
the seeds of revolution in every other European nation, and thus
compelled their rulers to concentrate all their energies upon
themselves, he was now constrained to descend to meaner measures, and to
enact the spy upon his sovereign; lest in some unlucky moment the
edifice, which it had cost him so mighty an amount of time and talent
to erect, should be overthrown by a breath.

True, Marie de Medicis was an exile and a wanderer; the royal brothers,
through his means, alienated in heart; discord and suspicion rife
between the monarch and his neglected wife; while even the first passion
of the King's youth had been quenched by Richelieu's iron will. The
affection of Louis XIII for Mademoiselle de la Fayette--an affection
which did equal honour to both parties from its notorious and
unquestioned propriety, but which has been too frequently recorded to
require more than a passing allusion--had been crossed and thwarted; the
fair maid of honour loved and respected Anne of Austria as much as she
feared and loathed the Cardinal-Minister; and she was accordingly an
obstacle and a stumbling-block to be removed from his path. She also was
immured in a cloister, and was consequently no longer dangerous as a
rival in the good graces of the King; yet still Richelieu was far from
tranquil; and the _petit coucher_ of the King was to him a subject of
unceasing apprehension. He was well aware that Louis was as unstable as
he was distrustful; and thus a new mistress, a new favourite, or even a
passing caprice, might, when he was totally unprepared for such an
event, suffice to annihilate his best-considered projects.

Poor Marie! Under such circumstances as these all her efforts at
conciliation were vain; and it is probable that she would have sunk
under the conviction, had not her failing courage been sustained by the
affectionate and earnest representations of her daughter, Henrietta
of England.


FOOTNOTES:

[215] Le Clerc, vol. ii. pp. 197, 198. Sismondi, vol. xxiii. pp. 253,
254. Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. viii. p. 354.

[216] Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. viii. p. 272. Le Clerc, vol. ii. pp.
202-207.

[217] Le Vassor, vol. viii. pp. 516, 517.

[218] Le Vassor, vol. ix. pp. 154-160.

[219] Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 489, 490.

[220] Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. viii. p. 639. Sismondi, vol. xxiii. pp.
362, 363.

[221] Bibliothèque Royale. MSS. de Colbert, entitled _Affaires de
France_, No. 2, 1638.

[222] Despatch of Bellièvre of the 29th of December. MSS. de Colbert,
No. 26.

[223] _MSS. de Béthune_, quoted by Capefigue.

[224] Bazin, vol. iv. p. 130. Le Vassor, vol. ix. pp. 35-40. Capefigue,
vol. v. pp. 342-346. Sismondi, vol. xxiii. pp. 367-369. Mézeray, vol.
xi. pp. 499-501. Le Clerc, vol. ii. pp. 352-354.



CHAPTER XIII

1639-42

Charles I. despatches an envoy to Louis XIII to negotiate the recall of
the Queen-mother--Richelieu aspires to the regency--The embassy
fails--Queen Henrietta resolves to proceed in person to Paris--Her visit
is declined by the French King--Charles I. recalls his ambassador from
the Court of France--The increasing animosity of the English people
against the Queen-mother compels her to seek another retreat--She is
requested by Parliament to leave the country--Philip of Spain refuses to
afford her an asylum--She proceeds to Holland, and thence to
Antwerp--The painter-prince--A voluntary envoy--The last letter--Marie
de Medicis is commanded to quit the Low Countries--She takes refuge at
Cologne--The last home of fallen royalty--Waning health of
Richelieu--His intellectual energy--Trial of the Duc de la
Valette--Trial of the Duc de Vendôme--Affected magnanimity of the
Cardinal--Senatorial sycophancy--Exile of the Duc and Duchesse de
Vendôme--Execution of M. de Saint-Preuil--Conspiracy against
Richelieu--The stolen meetings--The titled beggar--Secret
service--Complicity of Cinq-Mars discovered--Execution of Cinq-Mars and
De Thou--Cowardice of the Duc d'Orléans--Lingering hopes of Marie de
Medicis--Rubens and Richelieu--The abortive mission--Rubens proceeds to
Madrid--The Kings of England and Spain withhold all pecuniary aid from
the Queen-mother--Despair of Marie de Medicis--Her utter
destitution--Death-bed of a crowned head--Tardy honours--Filial
affection and priestly piety--The vaults of St. Denis.


Indignant at the prolonged sufferings of her helpless mother, the gentle
wife of Charles I. found little difficulty in inducing her royal husband
to despatch the Earl of Jermyn to the Court of France, with instructions
to use his utmost endeavours to effect a reconciliation; while, in order
to render his exertions less onerous, he was enjoined to observe the
greatest consideration towards the Cardinal, and to assure him that
Marie de Medicis was anxious to owe her success to his good offices
alone; and thus to place herself under an obligation which must tend to
convince him of her sincere desire to cultivate his regard, and to
withdraw herself entirely from all public affairs. Richelieu, however,
was, as we have shown, little disposed to incur so great a risk; while
the birth of a Dauphin had only tended to strengthen his determination
to keep her out of the country, as the declining health of the King had
opened up a new channel to his ambition; and he had secretly resolved,
should Louis succumb to one of the constantly recurring attacks of his
besetting disease, to cause himself to be proclaimed Regent of the
kingdom. This idea, calmly considered, appears monstrous; not only
because the monarch had not at this period attained his fortieth year,
but also because there existed three individuals who had a more
legitimate claim to the coveted dignity than the Cardinal--Marie de
Medicis, who had already been Regent of France during the minority of
her son; Anne of Austria, who was the mother of the future sovereign;
and Gaston d'Orléans, who, should the infant Prince fail to survive,
would become his successor. Two of these claimants were, however, as
Richelieu well knew, both suspected by and odious to Louis--the
Queen-consort and Monsieur; and he was resolved not to permit the third
to return to France while such a casualty was in abeyance, feeling
convinced that, in order to avenge her long and bitter sufferings, she
would either league with her daughter-in-law and son to traverse his
projects, or perhaps, by grasping at the reins of government, and openly
opposing his power, not only remove him from office, but even dispossess
him of the immense wealth which he had accumulated during his ministry,
and make him amenable for the crimes of which he had been guilty.

On his arrival at the Court of France, Lord Jermyn hastened to wait upon
Richelieu, to whom he delivered a letter from his royal mistress; but
even this demonstration of respect failed in its object, as the
minister, after having assured himself of the contents of the despatch,
referred the envoy to the King himself, declaring that he could not take
the initiative in an affair of so much importance to the welfare and
tranquillity of the kingdom. The English peer accordingly requested an
audience of the monarch; but, as may easily be conceived, he did not
obtain it until all had been previously concerted between Louis and his
minister; while, to the letter addressed to him by his sister, the
Cardinal-ridden King returned the following cold and inexorable reply:--

"I have never been wanting in good feeling towards the Queen my mother,
but she has so often intrigued against the state, and entered into
engagements with my declared enemies, that I cannot come to any
determination concerning her until a solid peace with the rest of Europe
shall render me less suspicious of her intentions than I am at
present." [225]

In order, however, to render the humiliation of the unfortunate Marie de
Medicis still more complete, Richelieu subjoined a note to the British
envoy, of which these were the contents:--

"If Lord Jermyn should state that the prospect of peace offers no
impediment to granting a supply of money to the Queen-mother, his
Majesty may safely reply that he has duly considered the subject, and
can do nothing more, as he has no assurance that so long as the war
continues, the servants of the Queen his mother, by whom she is guided,
may not make an evil use of the generosity of his Majesty against his
own interests, and in favour of those of Spain."

Despite the unpromising commencement of his mission, Lord Jermyn
nevertheless persisted, in obedience to the orders which he had
received, in urging the cause of the exiled Queen; but the result of
his exertions was a mere repetition of the original objections, coupled
moreover with an intimation that until Marie de Medicis had dismissed
every member of her household who was obnoxious to the King her son, and
had lived for a time out of the country in complete obedience to his
will, whatever it might please him to ordain concerning her, he declined
all further negotiation; with the assurance, however, that when she had
submitted to this ordeal, she was at liberty to solicit his renewed
commands, and to enjoy her revenues in whatever place of residence he
might see fit to allot to her for the future.

The total want of justice and generosity evinced by this reply revolted
Henriette; who was aware that, in order to conciliate Richelieu, the
Queen-mother had deprived herself of the services of Chanteloupe and the
Abbé de St. Germain, both of whom she had left at Brussels, although,
unlike Gaston d'Orléans, she was incapable of sacrificing them to her
own interests; and, satisfied that no envoy, however zealous, could cope
with the influence of the Cardinal, she accordingly resolved to plead
the cause of her persecuted mother in person. In pursuance of this
determination the English Queen, whose health had suffered from her
recent confinement, availed herself of the circumstance to solicit the
permission of her brother to pass a short time at his Court, in order to
test the influence of her native air; but Richelieu, who suspected her
real motive, induced his sovereign to delay any reply until the summer
was considerably advanced, and finally to inform her that he was about
to proceed to the frontier, and could not consequently have the
happiness of bidding her welcome.

Indignant at so marked a want of respect, Charles I. immediately
recalled the Earl of Leicester and Lord Scudamore, who were at that
period his representatives at the Court of France, with stringent orders
not to receive any present from Louis XIII on their departure; while
Richelieu, as he returned their parting compliments, secretly resolved
that in order to prevent a league between the English sovereign and
Philip of Spain in favour of the Queen-mother, he would leave no measure
untried to foment the intestine troubles of England, and to increase
those of Scotland, and so compel Charles to confine his attention to his
own immediate dominions.[226]

The refusal of Louis XIII to permit the return of his mother to France
created great excitement throughout England; but, unhappily, both
herself and her daughter were obnoxious to the Puritan party, who were
in open revolt against the royal authority; and meanwhile Charles I., in
arms against his subjects, crippled in his resources, and deprived of
the support of his Parliament, was totally unable to enforce his rights.
Day by day his own position became more precarious; he was accused of a
tendency towards Romanism, and upbraided with an undue submission to the
principles and feelings of a wife to whom he was tenderly attached, but
who was regarded by the sectarians with loathing; while, on the other
hand, the Court of France considered itself aggrieved, not only by his
refusal to enter into an aggressive alliance against Spain, but also by
the hospitality which he had accorded to the unfortunate Marie de
Medicis; and by his refusal to accede to the dismemberment of the Low
Countries.

It is, however, beyond our purpose to dwell upon the intestine troubles
of England at this period; and it must consequently suffice that the
Queen-mother--painfully aware how greatly her presence in London added
to the difficulties of her royal son-in-law, and excited the animosity
of the Cardinal, whose agents were actively exasperating the spirit of
the people against their sovereign--was unwearied in her efforts at
conciliation, all of which, as they had previously done, proved
ineffectual; and thus month succeeded month; and as the disaffection
grew stronger throughout the realm of Great Britain, and the animosity
of the populace against herself, her daughter, and all who professed
their faith, became more undisguised, she was compelled to admit to
herself that not even the affection of Henriette could longer afford
her a refuge.

The decapitation of the Duc de la Valette, and the death of the Comte de
Soissons, had rendered the Cardinal-Minister more powerful than ever;
while Gaston d'Orléans had, since the birth of the Dauphin, withdrawn
himself from the Court; and although he still conspired, he did so
timidly, as though prematurely assured of defeat; and thus no hope
remained to Marie of a return to France, while she felt that her longer
residence in England was impossible.

Yet still she lingered on, endeavouring by the inoffensiveness of her
deportment to disarm the animosity of the people, and enduring not only
menaces but even insult;[227] being ignorant in what direction to turn
her steps, lest she should throw herself into the power of her
arch-enemy. Her proud heart was bruised; her great name had become a
byword and a scorn; the wife and the mother of kings, before whose frown
the high-born and the powerful had once shrunk, sat shivering in the
vast halls of a foreign palace, shrinking beneath the hoarse cries of a
hostile multitude, and quailing in terror at their brutal threats.

During the popular commotion induced by the impeachment of the Earl of
Strafford, in 1640, the mob, equally incensed against the Romanists,
collected about St. James's Palace, and vociferated the most formidable
menaces against the priests who had accompanied the Queen-mother from
Flanders; while in a short time the crowd augmented so considerably in
number as to create great alarm for her personal safety. The Earl of
Holland, Lord Lieutenant of Middlesex, to whose vigilance she had been
confided, together with her household, immediately ordered out a hundred
musketeers to guard her; but many of these obeyed the command
reluctantly, declaring that they could find better employment than
watching over foreigners. Startled by this demonstration, Lord Holland
laid the case before the House of Peers (the royal authority being no
longer recognized), and generously represented the indignity of such an
insult to so great a Princess, who had, moreover, thrown herself upon
the hospitality of the nation to which she was so nearly allied; urging
them to avert the reproach which must inevitably fall upon the country
should the misguided zeal of the people be permitted to subject the
exiled Queen to violence, when her rank, her misfortunes, and her age
should alike render her person sacred.

The Peers referred the remonstrance to the Commons, who at once agreed
to the necessity of affording protection to the Queen-mother; but, urged
by the agents of Richelieu, they at the same time suggested that she
should be desired to depart the kingdom; "for the quieting those
jealousies in the hearts of his Majesty's well-affected subjects,
occasioned by some ill instruments about the Queen's person, by the
flowing of priests and Papists to her house, and by the use and practice
of the idolatry of the mass, and exercise of other superstitious
services of the Romish Church, to the great scandal of true
religion." [228]

Incapable of opposing the will of his Parliament, Charles I. had no
alternative save to request his unhappy mother-in-law to pardon him if
he entreated her to seek another asylum, while Marie de Medicis on her
side, compelled to obey this intimation, promised immediate compliance;
only imploring him to exert his influence with Philip of Spain to
receive her once more in his dominions; or, failing that concession, to
permit her passage through the Low Countries into Holland. Philip,
however, affecting great displeasure at the manner in which she had left
Brussels, refused to concede either favour; upon which the persecuted
Princess applied to the States-General of the United Provinces to afford
her an asylum; and solicited the Prince of Orange (whose son had
recently married her grand-daughter) to second her request. Both the
States-General and Frederic Henry, however, stood too much in awe of
Richelieu to venture thus to brave his displeasure; and, accordingly,
they also, in their turn, requested the Queen-mother to select
another retreat.

The iron hand of the Cardinal still pressed upon his victim. Abandoned
by her children, and by the ancient allies of the King her husband;
forsaken by her friends, and almost despised by her enemies, the
wretched Marie de Medicis found herself literally bereft of all support,
and at length, hopeless and heart-stricken, she took leave of her
afflicted daughter, who was fated only a few years later to become like
herself dependent upon the reluctant hospitality of her relatives; and
of her son-in-law, so soon to expiate the errors of his government upon
a scaffold; and in the month of August 1641 she quitted the Court of
London, under the escort of the Marquis of Arundel, and proceeded to
Holland, where the States-General informed her on her landing that the
country was so much impoverished by the long war which it had
sustained, that they were unable to provide funds for her maintenance.

The English Parliament had not, however, suffered her to leave their
shores entirely destitute, but had voted the sum of three thousand
pounds for her immediate expenses, pledging themselves, moreover, to
supply twice that amount at given periods.[229] On her arrival in
Holland Lord Arundel received her final commands, and returned to report
her safe passage to her daughter Henriette; while she herself, attended
only by a few attached followers, painfully pursued her way to Antwerp,
where she resolved, despite the prohibition of the Government, to take
up her temporary abode in the house of Rubens, and to remain in perfect
seclusion. The unfortunate and desolate Queen felt that she should not
experience such utter isolation while she could hold communion with one
true and loyal heart; and the past zeal of the artist-prince in her
service convinced her that from him she should still receive a welcome.

How does destiny at times mock human greatness, and reverse all social
rules! Here was a sovereign Princess, the wife and the mother of kings,
who, after eighteen weary years of struggle and suffering, was about to
solicit a shelter for her gray hairs from the man whom, in 1622, she had
invited to Paris, and upon whom she had lavished both riches and
honour, in order that he might perpetuate with his brilliant pencil the
short-lived triumphs of her regency. Nor was she, in this instance,
fated to disappointment, as her reception by the great painter was as
earnest and as respectful as though she still swayed the destinies
of France.

As Rubens knelt before her, and pressed her thin hand reverently to his
lips, the eyes of Marie de Medicis brightened, and a faint colour rose
to her wasted cheeks. For a time she forgot all her sufferings; and they
talked together of the proud period of her power, when she had laboured
to embellish her beloved city of Paris, and summoned Rubens to the
Luxembourg to execute the magnificent series of pictures which formed
its noblest ornament; but this happy oblivion could not long endure, and
scarcely an hour had elapsed ere they were engaged in concerting new
measures to effect her recall to France.

For several weeks the presence of the Queen-mother in Antwerp was not
suspected, and during that brief interval of comparative repose not a
day passed in which the subject was not earnestly discussed; until at
length Rubens, who was aware that the retreat of his royal guest must be
ultimately discovered, resolved to undertake in person the mission of
peace in which so many others had previously failed.

"Suffer me, Madame," said the painter, "to proceed without delay to
Paris charged with a letter from your Majesty to the King your son. The
pretext for my journey shall be my desire to execute a portrait of my
friend, the Baron de Vicq, our Ambassador at the French Court; and as I
do not doubt that his Christian Majesty will honour me with a summons to
his presence, I will then deliver your despatch into his own hands. The
happy results of my former missions render me sanguine of success on
this occasion; while I pledge myself that should I unfortunately fail in
my attempt to awaken the affection of the King towards your Majesty, it
shall be from no want of zeal or perseverance in your cause."

"My noble Maestro!" exclaimed Marie de Medicis; "I would with confidence
trust my life in your hands. My sorrows have at least not alienated your
generous heart: and there still remains one being upon earth who can be
faithful when my gratitude is all that I can offer in return. Listen to
me, Rubens. Even yet I am convinced that Louis loves me; a conviction
which is shared by Richelieu; and therefore it is that he condemns me to
exile. He fears my influence over the mind of the King my son, and has
injured me too deeply to place any faith in my forgiveness. Our mutual
struggle has extended over long years, and I have become its victim. Yet
would I fain make another effort. I am old and heart-broken, and I pine
to terminate my wretched existence on the soil of France. Surely this is
not too much to ask, and more I will not seek to obtain. You were born
under a fortunate constellation, Pietro Paolo; and I have confidence in
your success. Go then, and may God guide and prosper you: but--beware
of the Cardinal!"

"Fear not, Madame," said the painter, as he rose from his knee, and
placed writing materials before the agitated Queen. "In so righteous a
cause I shall be protected; but as further delay might prove fatal to
our hopes, I would venture to implore your Majesty to lose no time in
preparing the despatch of which I am to be the bearer."

"It shall be done," replied Marie, forcing a painful smile. "It will in
all probability be my last appeal; for should you fail, Rubens, I shall
feel that all is indeed lost!"

The artist bowed profoundly, and left the room in order to give the
necessary orders for his immediate departure; while his royal guest
seized a pen, and with a trembling hand, and in almost illegible
characters, wrote the following affecting letter:--

"Sire--During many years I have been deprived of your dear presence, and
have implored your clemency without any reply. God and the Holy Virgin
are my witnesses that my greatest suffering throughout that period has
proceeded less from exile, poverty, and humiliation, than from the
estrangement of a son, and the loss of his dear presence. Meanwhile I am
becoming aged, and feel that each succeeding hour is bringing me more
rapidly to the grave. Thus, Sire, would it not be a cruel and an
unnatural thing that a mother should expire without having once more
seen her beloved son, without having heard one word of consolation from
his lips, without having obtained his pardon for the involuntary wrongs
of which she may have been guilty towards him? I do not ask of you,
Sire, to return to France as a powerful Queen; should such be your good
pleasure, I will not even appear again at Court, and will finish my life
in any obscure town which you may see fit to select as my residence;
but, in the name of God and all the Saints, I adjure you not to allow me
to die out of the kingdom of France; or to suffer me any longer to drag
my sorrows and my misery from one foreign city to another; for you are
not aware, Sire, that the widow of Henri IV, and the mother of the
reigning monarch of France and Navarre, Louis XIII, will soon be without
a roof to shelter her head, and a little bread for her support! You are
not aware, Sire, that if the hour of my death were now to strike, no one
would be beside me to close my eyes, and to say, 'This is the body of
Marie de Medicis.' Take then compassion on my very humble request, Sire;
and receive, whatever may be your decision, the blessings of
your mother.

"In the city of Antwerp, the ninth day of October of the year of our
salvation MDCXLI.--I, the Queen-mother, MARIE."

As the painter-prince returned to the apartment, the Queen placed this
letter in his hands; and glancing at his travelling-garb, said in a
faltering voice: "So soon, Maestro? But you are right, and I may the
earlier look for your return."

Alas! once more the persecuted Princess suffered her sanguine
temperament to delude her into hope; but by one of those singular
coincidences which appear almost fabulous, Rubens had scarcely taken
leave of his family, and was about to enter the carriage that awaited
him, when a courier in the livery of the Governor of the Low Countries
galloped into the yard, and demanded to be ushered into the presence of
the Queen. Startled and alarmed by so unexpected an apparition, Rubens
had no alternative but to obey; and the messenger no sooner found
himself standing before Marie de Medicis, than, with a profound
reverence, he placed a letter in her hands, and with a second
salutation retired.

The Queen-mother hastily tore open the packet, of which these were the
contents:--

"Madame la Reine--We hereby inform you that the city of Antwerp cannot
afford you a befitting asylum, and that you would do better to take up
your residence at Cologne.

"Upon which, we pray God to keep you under His holy and efficient
guard.--I, the Governor of the Low Countries,

"DON FRANCISCO DE MELLO." [230]

Marie de Medicis sank back upon her seat, and silently held the
insulting letter towards Rubens.

"There is indeed no time to lose, Madame," exclaimed the artist, as he
glanced rapidly over its contents. "The spies of the Cardinal have
tracked you hither, and you must quit Flanders without delay. Dare I
hope that, in this emergency, your Majesty will deign to occupy a house
which I possess at Cologne, until my return from Paris?"

"Rubens, you are my preserver!" faltered the wretched Queen. "Do with me
as you will. You will meet your recompense in Heaven."

A few hours subsequently two carriages drove from the courtyard of
Rubens; the first contained Marie de Medicis and two of her ladies, and
took the way to Cologne; while the second, which was occupied by Rubens,
drove towards Paris.

On the 12th of October the Queen-mother reached her final resting-place,
and received permission to reside within the city; but this was the only
concession accorded to her; and in one of the most ancient and gloomy
streets in the immediate vicinity of the Cloth-market and the Church of
Saint Margaret, she took possession of a Gothic house in which the
greatest genius of the Flemish school had first seen the light. The room
in which Rubens was born had been reverently preserved in all its
original comfort by his family, and this apartment became the private
chamber of the Queen; who, for a time, sanguine as to the result of the
painter's mission, and rendered doubly hopeful by the constant reports
which reached her of the rapidly-declining health of Richelieu,
supported her new misfortunes with courage.

Unfortunately, however, for his victim, it was only physical suffering
by which the Cardinal was prostrated, for never had his mental powers
appeared more clear or more acute, or his iron will more indomitable,
than at this period, when a slow but painful disease was gradually
wearing away his existence; while superadded to this marvellous strength
and freshness of intellect--marvellous inasmuch as it triumphantly
resisted both physical agony and the conception of all those
rapidly-recurring and conflicting political combinations by which he had
excited alike the wonder and mistrust of every European state--his
irritation and impatience under the restraint enforced upon him by his
bodily ailments rendered him a more formidable enemy than ever.
Prematurely old, ruined in constitution, ever dreading the knife of the
assassin and the pen of the satirist, greedy of gold and power, wrapping
himself lovingly in the purple and fine linen of earth, while conscious
that ere long the sumptuous draperies of pride must be exchanged for a
winding-sheet, Richelieu looked with a jaundiced eye on all about him,
and appeared to derive solace and gratification only from the
sufferings of others. He had pursued the unfortunate Duc de la Valette
with his hatred until the Parliament, composed almost entirely of the
creatures of his will and the slaves of his passions, had condemned to
death the representative of the proud race of Epernon; and he had no
sooner accomplished this object than, emboldened by his fatal success,
he next ventured to fly his falcon at a still nobler quarry; and he
accordingly accused one of the natural sons of Henri IV, the Duc de
Vendôme, of conspiring against his life. As, however, the Prince was not
within his grasp, so that his condemnation could not consequently
involve the loss of life, he contented himself with causing him to be
declared guilty _par contumace_, and with subsequently making a display
of affected generosity, and soliciting his pardon.

"Had he," said the Cardinal, in his wiry and peculiar tone, which was
broken at intervals by a hoarse and hollow cough--"had he conspired
against the sovereign or against the state, my duty as a minister, and
my devotion as a subject, would have compelled me on this occasion to
remain silent; but it was against my person alone that M. de Vendôme
threatened violence, and I can forgive a crime which extended
no further."

Great was the wonder, and still greater the admiration, expressed by the
time-serving sycophants to whom he addressed himself. The several
members of the Council argued and remonstrated, assuring his Eminence
that he owed it to himself to let justice take its course; and
entreating that he would not endeavour to influence the sovereign on so
serious an occasion, where his generous self-abnegation might involve
his future safety; but Richelieu only replied with one of his ambiguous
smiles that he could not, in order to save his own life, consent to
sacrifice that of a Prince of the Blood; while at the same time he
induced the King to exile the Duchesse de Vendôme and her two sons, MM.
de Mercoeur and de Besançon, from the capital. The members of the Court
by which the Duke had been tried and condemned were then commanded to
meet at an early hour in the morning on the 22nd of March at St.
Germain-en-Laye, where Louis XIII presided over the assembly in person;
and they had scarcely taken their seats when it was announced to the
King that Le Clerc, the secretary of the Cardinal-Minister, awaited in
the ante-room the royal permission to deliver to the Chancellor a letter
of which he was the bearer. His entrance having been sanctioned by the
sovereign, Le Clerc placed his despatches in the hands of Séguier, who
hastily cut the silk by which they were secured, and he had no sooner
made himself acquainted with their contents than he addressed a few
words in a low voice to the King.

"Gentlemen," said Louis, as the Chancellor fell back into his seat, "his
Eminence the Cardinal de Richelieu is desirous that I should pardon M.
de Vendôme; but such is not my own opinion; I owe my protection to those
who, like M. le Cardinal, have served me with affection and fidelity;
and were I not to punish all attempts against his life, I should
experience great difficulty in finding ministers who would transact
public business with the same courage and devotion as my cousin of
Richelieu has done. M. le Cardinal eagerly demands a free pardon for the
Duc de Vendôme; but no, no; I will not concede that pardon at present; I
will merely suspend the trial; and that measure will, believe me, prove
the most efficient one to hold in check so impetuous a character as his.
Nevertheless, read the letter aloud," he added, "that the Court may have
full cognizance of every circumstance connected with this
unhappy affair."

Séguier, after a profound obeisance to the sovereign, once more unfolded
the packet, of which these were the contents:

"Monsieur le Chancelier, the interests of the state having ever been the
sole object of my attention and anxiety, I consider that the public will
not be in any way benefited by a knowledge of the evil design of M. le
Duc de Vendôme; and thus I have thought that I might, without any
prejudice to the royal service, implore of his Majesty to pardon M.
de Vendôme."

Once more did the well-acted generosity and self-abnegation of the wily
Cardinal excite a universal and enthusiastic murmur of admiration;
while one of the Council, anxious to exhibit his attachment to the
person of Richelieu in the presence of the King, even carried his
sycophancy so far as to exclaim: "What a noble spirit! I propose that
the letter to which we have just listened should be inscribed on the
parliamentary register in order that it may descend to posterity." No
answering voice, however, seconded the proposition; for few who were
present at this extraordinary scene, and who remembered that the
relatives of the accused Prince had been driven from Paris at the
instigation of the Cardinal, doubted for an instant that they were
actors in a preconcerted drama, and they consequently remained silent,
until the King, after having glanced rapidly over the assembly, rose
from his seat, and said somewhat impatiently: "Gentlemen, you
may retire."

Such was the abrupt and indefinite termination of a trial which had, as
Richelieu intended that it should do, convulsed the whole aristocracy of
France. The son of Henri IV could not again set his foot upon the soil
of that kingdom which counted him among its Princes save at the risk of
his life; while his unoffending wife and sons were banished to a
distance from the capital which was their legitimate sphere of action,
and branded as the relatives of a conspirator.

The next victim of the inexorable Cardinal was M. de Saint-Preuil, the
Governor of Arras, who had fought valiantly against the Spaniards, and
in whom the King had evinced the greatest confidence. Accused upon some
frivolous pretext--although M. de Saint-Preuil had been assured by Louis
himself that he was at perfect liberty to exercise his authority within
the limits of his government as he should see fit, without being
amenable to any other individual--he was arrested, tried, and executed,
despite the desire of the weak monarch to turn aside the iron hand by
which he had been clutched. In this instance the vindictive minister
could afford to satiate his hatred, and even to give to his merciless
vengeance a semblance of patriotism, for here at least his own safety or
interests were not involved; and thus to all the representations of his
royal master he replied by lamenting that he dare not overlook the
commission of crime, while the welfare of a great nation and the safety
of its sovereign were confided to his care. It was no part of
Richelieu's policy to tolerate any individual, however inferior to
himself in rank and station, who ventured to place himself beyond the
pale of his own jealous authority; and thus the overstrained indulgence
of the King to a brave and successful soldier had signed his
death-warrant.

Still did the fatal disease which was preying upon the vitals of the
Cardinal silently work its insidious way, and reveal its baneful power
by sleepless nights, burning fever, and sharp bodily pain; but his
powerful mind and insatiable ambition enabled him to strive successfully
against these enervating influences; and Saint-Preuil was scarcely laid
in his dishonoured grave ere the remorseless minister sought around him
for more victims. The Comte de Soissons, who had been exiled from the
Court for resenting the arrogance of the Cardinal, had found an asylum
with the Duc de Bouillon at Sedan,[231] where it had, after considerable
difficulty, been conceded that he should be permitted to remain
unmolested for the space of four years, after which time he was to
remove to some other residence selected by the King, or in point of
fact, by Richelieu himself. The period named had now expired; and the
Cardinal, anxious still further to humiliate the great nobles, to whom,
as he was bitterly aware, his own obscure extraction was continually
matter of contemptuous comment, exacted from the timid and yielding
monarch that he should forthwith issue his commands to M. de Bouillon to
deliver up his cousin De Soissons to the keeping of his Majesty; or that
both Princes should humbly ask forgiveness of the Cardinal-Minister for
the affronts which they had put upon him.

The receipt of this offensive order at once determined the conduct of
the two friends. That the Comte de Soissons, a member of the haughty
house of Condé, and the Duc de Bouillon, the independent sovereign of
Sedan, both Princes of the Blood, should condescend to bend the knee,
and to entreat the clemency of Armand du Plessis, was an extent of
humiliation which neither the one nor the other could be brought to
contemplate for an instant; and thus it was instantly decided between
them that they would resist the mandate of the King even to the death;
while their opposition was strengthened by the impetuous vituperations
of the young Duc de Guise, who had, after a misunderstanding with the
minister, also claimed the hospitality of M. de Bouillon, and who
welcomed with enthusiasm so favourable an opportunity of revenging
himself upon his adversary.

The animosity of M. de Guise had grown out of his jealousy, which had
been excited by the ostentatious attentions paid by Richelieu to the
Princesse Gonzaga de Nevers, to whom he was himself tenderly attached,
and who was, moreover, the idol of the whole Court. Eagerly, therefore,
did he enter into the views of his aggrieved associates; and, as their
determination to resist the presumption of the haughty minister
necessarily involved precautionary measures of no ordinary character,
they lost no time in despatching a secret messenger to solicit the
support of the Archduke and the Spanish agents. With Don Miguel of
Salamanca they found little difficulty in concluding a treaty; and this
desirable object attained, they effected a second with the Court of
Vienna; while Jean François Paul de Gondy, who subsequently became
celebrated during the Fronde as the Cardinal de Retz, was instructed to
apprise their friends in Paris of the contemplated revolt, and to urge
their co-operation. The Duc de Guise meanwhile proceeded to Liége, in
order to levy troops for the reinforcement of the rebel army; the
several envoys having been instructed to declare that the Princes were
still devoted to their sovereign, and that they merely took up arms to
protect themselves against the violence and perfidy of the
Cardinal-Minister. Anxious to strengthen their faction at home,
Soissons, confiding in the frequent professions of attachment which had
been lavished upon him by Gaston d'Orléans, wrote to that Prince to
explain their motives and purposes, and to induce him to join in the
conspiracy. For once, however, Monsieur, much as he delighted in feuds
and factions, declined to take any part in their meditated resistance to
the ministerial authority, his own position having been rendered so
brilliant through the policy of the Cardinal that he feared to sacrifice
the advantages thus tardily secured; while, moreover, not satisfied with
returning evasive answers to M. de Soissons, which induced that Prince
to pursue the correspondence under the belief that his arguments would
ultimately induce Monsieur to join their party, he had the baseness, in
order to further his personal interests with the all-powerful minister,
to communicate to him the several letters of the Count immediately that
they reached him.

Irritated by the contemptuous epithets applied to him in these unguarded
epistles, and anxious to avert a danger which the delay of every
succeeding hour tended to render still more threatening, Richelieu
determined at once to attack the stronghold of his enemies; and an army
under the command of the Maréchal de Châtillon was accordingly
despatched against Sedan. The result of the expedition proved, however,
inimical to the interests of the Cardinal, as the royal general was
utterly defeated, and more than two thousand of the King's troops,
together with the artillery and the treasure-chest, fell into the hands
of the rebels. The battle, fatal as it was in the aggregate,
nevertheless afforded one signal triumph to Richelieu in the death of
the Comte de Soissons, who was killed by the pistol-ball of a gendarme,
to whom, as a recompense for the murder of his kinsman, Louis XIII
accorded both a government and a pension. Dispirited by the fate of the
young Prince, to whom he was tenderly attached, Bouillon attempted no
further resistance, but tendered without delay his submission to the
sovereign, and received in return a free pardon, together with all those
individuals who had joined his banner, save the Duc de Guise, who, not
having been included in the treaty, was condemned _par contumace_.[232]

This result, so strongly opposed to the ordinarily severe policy of
Richelieu, was not, as must at once be apparent, obtained through his
influence. Powerful as he was through the King's sense of his own
helplessness, he had been throughout the whole of his ministerial career
thwarted at times by the ruling favourites of Louis, whose puerile
tastes rendered him as dependent upon others for mere amusement as he
was for assistance and support in the government of his kingdom. We have
already seen the projects of the haughty Cardinal at times traversed by
the equally arrogant and ambitious De Luynes, who was succeeded in the
favour and intimacy of the sovereign by M. de Saint-Simon,[233] from
whom the minister experienced equal annoyance; while the platonic
attachment of the King for Mademoiselle de Hautefort, whose energetic
habits and far-seeing judgment had involved him in still greater
difficulties, determined him to select such a companion for Louis as,
while he ministered to the idleness and _ennui_ of his royal master,
should at the same time subserve his own interests. To this end,
Richelieu, after mature deliberation, selected as the new favourite a
page named Cinq-Mars,[234] whose extraordinarily handsome person and
exuberant spirits could not fail, as he rightly imagined, to attract the
fancy and enliven the leisure of the moody sovereign.

This young noble, who was the son of an old and tried friend of the
Cardinal, had appeared at Court under his auspices, and consequently
regarded him as the patron of his future fortunes; a conviction which
tended to give to the relative position of the parties a peculiar and
confidential character well suited to the views of the astute minister.
Cinq-Mars, like all youths of his age, was dazzled by the brilliancy of
the Court, and eager for advancement; while he was at the same time
reckless, unscrupulous, and even morbidly ambitious; but these defects
were concealed beneath an exterior so prepossessing, manners so
specious, and acquirements so fascinating; there was such a glow and
glitter in his scintillating writ and uncontrollable gaiety, that few
cared to look beyond the surface, and all were loud in their admiration
of the handsome and accomplished page.

[Illustration: CINQ-MARS.]

Such was the tool selected by Richelieu to fashion out his purposes, and
he found a ready and a willing listener in the son of his friend, when,
with warm protestations of his esteem for his father and his attachment
to himself, he declared his intention of placing the ardent youth about
the person of his sovereign under certain conditions, which were at once
accepted by Cinq-Mars. These conditions, divested of the courtly shape
in which they were presented to _protégé_, were simply that while the
page devoted himself to the amusement of his royal master, he should
carefully report to the Cardinal, not only the actions of the King, but
also the private conversations which might take place in his presence,
and the share maintained by the sovereign in each.

Had Cinq-Mars been less aspiring than he was, it is probable that
although yet a mere youth he would have shrunk with disgust from so
humiliating a proposition; but he remembered the career of De Luynes,
and he disregarded in the greatness of the end the unworthiness of the
means by which it was to be obtained. The brilliant page was accordingly
presented to the unsuspicious monarch by the minister, and, as the
latter had anticipated, at once captivated the fancy of Louis, who
having satisfied himself that Cinq-Mars possessed a sufficient knowledge
of those sports in which he himself delighted, at once consented to
receive him into his household.

For a time the page served with equal assiduity both the King and the
Cardinal, to the former of whom he so soon rendered himself essential
that although the confidential friends of Louis were occasionally
startled to find their most secret words known to the minister, and did
not scruple to express their suspicion that they were betrayed by
Cinq-Mars, Louis, too indolent and too selfish to risk the displeasure
of Richelieu, or to deprive himself of an agreeable associate, merely
laughed at the absurdity of such a supposition, and continued to treat
the page with the same confidence and condescension as heretofore.

Gradually did Cinq-Mars meanwhile weary of the complicated _rôle_ which
he was called upon to perform. He saw the health of the Cardinal failing
day by day; and he detected, from the querulous complaints in which
Louis constantly indulged against his imperious minister, that although
he was feared by his sovereign there was no tie of affection between
them. At this period the young courtier began for the first time to
reflect; and the result of his reflections was to free himself
unostentatiously and gradually, but nevertheless surely, from the thrall
of his first patron. This resolution, however, was one which it required
more tact and self-government than he yet possessed to reduce to
practice, and accordingly the quick eye of Richelieu soon detected in
the decreased respect of his bearing, and the scantiness of his
communications, the nature of the feelings by which he was actuated.

Nevertheless, the minister was conscious of one advantage over the
self-centred monarch of which he resolved to avail himself in order to
fix the wavering fidelity of the page. Louis, while jealous of the
devotion of those about him, was careless in recompensing their
services; while Richelieu, with a more intimate knowledge of human
nature, and, above all, of the nature of courts, deemed no sacrifice too
great which ensured the stability of his influence, and the fidelity of
his adherents. Thus, affecting not to remark the falling-off of
affection in his agent, he intermingled his discourse to the ambitious
young man with regrets that the monarch had not rewarded his zeal by
some appointment in the royal household which would give him a more
definite position than that which he then held. This was a subject which
never wearied the attention of Cinq-Mars, who with flashing eyes and a
heightened colour listened eagerly; and the Cardinal no sooner perceived
that by his quasi-condolences he had regained in a great degree his
former influence, than he bade the page serve him faithfully, and he
would himself atone for the negligence of the King. Nor was the promise
an idle one, as within the short space of two years he caused the new
favourite to be appointed both Master of the Wardrobe and Grand Equerry.

This promotion proved, however, too rapid for the vanity of Cinq-Mars:
who no sooner saw himself in a position so brilliant as to excite the
envy of half the Court than, with a self-confidence fatal to the
interests of Richelieu, he once more sought deliverance from the yoke of
his priest-patron, and devoted himself so earnestly to the service of
Louis that ere long the King found his companionship indispensable. When
by chance he absented himself for a few hours from Fontainebleau, in
order to exchange the monotony of that palace for the dissipation of the
capital, the King no sooner became aware of the fact than after having
impatiently reiterated more than once, "Cinq-Mars! Where is Cinq-Mars?"
he despatched a courier to Paris to recall him: and the pleasure-loving
young man was compelled to return upon the instant to attend his royal
master in a stag-hunt, or to parade his satins and velvets among the
hounds whom Louis delighted to feed and fondle; until he began to be
weary of the honours which he had so lately coveted, and to sigh for
unrestrained intercourse with his former associates.

With still less patience, however, did he endure the imperious chidings
of the Cardinal, who could not brook that one who owed his advancement
to his favour should seek to emancipate himself from his control; and
the spoiled child of fortune, when he occasionally passed from the
perfumed boudoir of some haughty Court beauty by whom he had been
flattered and caressed to the closet of the minister where he was
greeted by a stern brow and the exclamation of "Cinq-Mars, Cinq-Mars,
you are forgetting yourself!" found considerable difficulty in
controlling his impetuosity; but it was even worse when to this rebuke
Richelieu at times added in a contemptuous tone: "Remember to whom you
owe your fortune, and that it will be quite as easy for me to divest you
of the high-sounding titles which have turned your brain as it was to
procure them for you. Be warned, therefore; for if you do not conduct
yourself with more propriety, and evince more respect for my authority,
I will have you turned out of the palace like a lackey."

The constant repetition of these taunts made the impetuous blood of the
haughty youth boil in his veins; while the lingering remnant of
affection which he had hitherto retained for the friend of his father
and his own benefactor became gradually changed to hate, and impelled
him to redouble his zeal about the person of the sovereign, in order
that he might one day secure sufficient influence over the latter's mind
to enable him to revenge the insults offered to his pride.

At this precise period Cinq-Mars--who, had he not been brought into
close contact with a more matured and stronger mind than his own, would
in all probability have frittered away his vengeance in petty and
puerile annoyances which would rather have worried than alarmed the
Cardinal--formed a fast friendship with François Auguste de Thou, who
had long ceased to conceal his hatred of the minister. In the study of
his father, the celebrated historian, M. de Thou had learned to feel an
innate contempt for all constituted authorities, even while he professed
to be at once a Catholic, a royalist, and a patriot; but, unlike his
father, the young scholar was not satisfied with theories; he required
active employment for the extraordinary energies with which he was
gifted; and abandoning the literary leisure in which the elder De Thou
so much delighted, he became in early manhood commissary of the army of
the Cardinal de la Valette during his Italian campaign, and subsequently
he was appointed Councillor of State, and principal librarian to the
King. With his peculiar principles, De Thou could not do otherwise than
deprecate and detest the overwhelming power of Richelieu; and long ere
he crossed the path of Cinq-Mars, he had entered into several cabals
against the minister, a fact which had no sooner been ascertained by the
Cardinal than he deprived him of his public offices, and thus rendered
his animosity more resolute than ever. It was in this temper of mind
that De Thou met the Grand Equerry; nor was it long ere the wild visions
of Cinq-Mars's passion were fashioned into probability by the logical
arguments of his new acquaintance; a circumstance of which he no sooner
became convinced than he forthwith resolved not to suffer his
indignation to vent itself in mere annoyance, but to seek some more
noble and enduring vengeance.

Thenceforward the two friends became inseparable; and when De Thou at
length hinted that Cinq-Mars would in all probability, from his great
favour with the sovereign, become the successor of Richelieu in the
event of his dismissal, the Equerry sprang at once from a peevish and
mortified boy into a resolute and daring conspirator, and his first care
was to secure the co-operation of his kinsman the Duc de Bouillon; who,
while auguring favourably of the plot, and pledging himself to
strengthen it by his own participation, represented to his young
relative the absolute necessity of obtaining the support of Monsieur.

Gaston had withdrawn from the Court after the birth of the two Princes;
and although he had, with his usual pusillanimity, continued to preserve
an apparently good understanding with the Cardinal, few were deceived
into the belief that this ostensible oblivion of the past was genuine.
Monsieur was, when the subject of the new cabal against Richelieu was
mooted to him by Cinq-Mars, residing in the Luxembourg (known at that
period as the Palais d'Orléans), whither the Grand Equerry was
accustomed to repair in disguise, and generally during the night, to
concert with the Prince all the preliminaries of the conspiracy. Gaston,
as had been anticipated, evinced no indisposition to lend himself to the
views of Cinq-Mars and his friends,[235] when they eventually assured
him that they had certain information of the efforts which the Cardinal
was at that very period making to secure his own nomination to the
regency of the kingdom, in the event of the then-pending journey to
Catalonia, whither Louis was about to proceed early in the ensuing
spring, to swear to the inviolate preservation of the ancient laws and
privileges of the Catalans; and at the same time to endeavour to possess
himself of the province of Roussillon, although the infirm state of his
health would have appeared to render such an expedition too hazardous to
be contemplated at such a season.

Like his successor Louis XIV, the son of Marie de Medicis was one of the
most "unamusable" of monarchs; and like Cinq-Mars himself, he was weary
of the unvaried routine of pleasures which made up the sum of his
existence while confined to his own capital; and thus he welcomed every
prospect of change without caring to investigate the motives of those by
whom it was proposed. He did not, therefore, for an instant suspect that
the motive of his ambitious minister in urging him to undertake upon the
instant, and in a state of excessive bodily suffering, an expedition
which might with safety have been deferred until a more genial season,
was in reality to remove him to a distance from the Parliament and the
citizens of Paris, and to place him between two armies, both of which
were commanded by Richelieu's own near relatives and devoted friends,
in order that should the already exhausted strength of the invalid
sovereign fail him under the fatigue and privation of so severe an
exertion, the Cardinal might cause himself to be declared Regent of the
kingdom after his death.

Others were, however, less blind to the real views of the Cardinal,
which were freely canvassed by the courtiers, who looked upon the
expedition with distrust as they studied the plan of the campaign, and
reflected on the measures which were to be adopted for the government of
the country during the absence of the monarch. These were, indeed,
undeniably calculated to awaken their apprehensions; as, acting under
the advice of his minister, Louis had determined that he would be
accompanied on his journey by the Queen and the Duc d'Orléans; that the
Dauphin and the Duc d'Anjou should take up their abode until his return
in the Castle of Vincennes, of which the governor was devoted to the
interests of Richelieu; while the Prince de Condé, who was also his
sworn friend, was appointed to the command of Paris, and authorized, in
conjunction with the Council, whose members were the mere creatures of
his will, to regulate the internal administration of the kingdom.

All these circumstances, amplified, moreover, by ingenious conjectures
and envenomed deductions, Cinq-Mars poured into the willing ear of
Monsieur; and while agents were despatched to Spain and Flanders to
invite the co-operation of those sovereigns, the Grand Equerry continued
his secret visits to the Luxembourg with an impunity that augured well
for the success of the perilous undertaking in which he was embarked;
and which at length emboldened Monsieur to receive in like manner the
emissaries of Ferdinand and Philip. These nocturnal movements were not,
however, so unobserved as the conspirators had believed; and the result
of the suspicions which they engendered is so quaintly narrated by
Rambure that we shall give it in the identical words of the garrulous
old chronicler himself:

"One evening," he says, "when I was in the buttery of the Cardinal,
where I was eating some sweetmeats, his Eminence entered and asked for a
draught of strawberry syrup. While he was drinking it the Comte de
Rochefort arrived in his turn, and informed him that during the
preceding night, as he was passing the Palace of the Luxembourg, he saw
a man come out whom he instantly recognized as a certain Florent Radbod
whom he had formerly met at Brussels, and whom he knew to have been
frequently employed in secret matters of state. The lateness of the
hour, which was, as he further stated, two in the morning, led him to
believe that an individual of this description would not be there save
for some important reason.

"'You were very wrong not to follow him,' said his Eminence.

"'I did so,' replied M. de Rochefort; 'but he was on his guard, and soon
perceived that he was dogged. Therefore, thinking it better not to
excite his suspicions, I turned aside and left him.'

"'You did well,' said Richelieu; 'but what description of person is this
Radbod? What is his age? his complexion? his height? Tell me every
particular by which he may be recognized. M. de Rambure, have you your
pencil about you?'

"'I have my tablets, Monseigneur.'

"'Write down then without loss of time,' said the Cardinal, 'the
portrait of this man.'

"I immediately obeyed, and my task was no sooner completed than his
Eminence gave orders that at every post-house where carriages could be
hired notice should be instantly given to himself if a person answering
the description should endeavour to secure the means of leaving Paris.
He also stationed men at every avenue leading from the city, who were to
watch night and day, lest he might escape in the coach of an
acquaintance. On the following morning his Eminence sent to summon me an
hour before dawn, and I was surprised on my arrival to find him pacing
his chamber in his dressing-gown.

"'Rambure,' he said as I entered, 'I confess to you that I suspect some
conspiracy is on foot against the King, the state, and myself; and,
moreover, if I am not deceived, it is organizing at the Luxembourg with
the consent and connivance of the Duc d'Orléans; but as this is mere
suspicion, I am anxious, in order to see my way more clearly, to place
some confidential person as a sentinel near the palace to watch who goes
in and out.'

"After having hesitated for a time, I told his Eminence that I was
willing to undertake the adventure, and quite ready to obey
his commands.

"'I have faith in you, M. de Rambure,' said the Cardinal; 'I am
perfectly convinced of the affection which you bear, not only towards
the King and the state, but also towards myself; but I have determined
to desire M. de Rochefort to disguise himself as a cripple, and to take
up his position in front of the Luxembourg, where he must remain day and
night until he has discovered whether it were really the Fleming that
he saw.'

"Then, summoning a page who was waiting in the antechamber, his Eminence
sent for M. de Rochefort, who was not long in coming; and told him what
he proposed. Rochefort, who was always ready to comply with every wish
of the Cardinal, immediately declared his willingness to play the part
assigned to him; and a trusty person who had attended him to the
apartment of Monseigneur was instructed to procure without loss of time,
and with the greatest secrecy, a pair of crutches, a suit of rags, and
all the articles necessary to complete the metamorphosis.

"His Eminence having, on the return of the lackey, expressed his desire
to witness the effect of the disguise, M. de Rochefort retired to
another chamber, where, with the assistance of his servant, he exchanged
his velvet vest and satin haut-de-chausses for the foul garb of a
mendicant; this done, he smeared his face with dirt, and crouching down
in a corner, he requested me to announce to Monseigneur that he was
ready to receive him. His Eminence was astonished at his appearance, as
well as to see him act the character he had assumed as if he had studied
and practised it all his life. He told him to set forth, and that if he
succeeded in his attempt he would render him the greatest service which
he had ever received.

"As soon as the Cardinal had taken leave of Rochefort, he said to me:
'In the disguise the Count has on, and when he is crouched upon his
dunghill like a miserable cripple, it will be easy for him to look every
one in the face; and I hope he will make some discovery of that which
troubles me.' His Eminence then told me that he wanted my valet, to
place him in disguise in another direction. I therefore called him. He
was a very sharp fellow at everything that was required of him; and the
Cardinal made him put on a shabby cassock, with a false beard of
grizzled hair and eyebrows to match, which were all fastened on with a
certain liquid so firmly to the skin that it was necessary to apply
vinegar in which the ashes of vine-twigs had been steeped, when they
instantly fell off. My Basque was at length dressed in a torn,
threadbare cassock, masked by his false beard, with an old hat upon his
head, a breviary under his arm, and a tolerably thick stick in his hand,
and received an order to post himself near the little gate of the
Luxembourg stables. The Cardinal then desired me not to leave him, as he
had certain orders to give me which he could not entrust to every one on
such an occasion.

"M. de Rochefort took up his station at the corner of the Rue de
Tournon, laid himself down on a heap of manure, and began, with his face
covered with mud and filth, to cry out continually and dolefully as if
he had been in agony and want; and he played his part so naturally that
several charitable folks were touched by his misery and gave him alms.
From his dunghill he saw numbers of carriages pass and repass, and he
began to be afraid that his prey would escape him. He consequently
resolved to approach nearer to the gates of the palace, where his
intolerable groans so harassed the Swiss guards of Monsieur that they
threatened to drive him away, but upon his promise to be more quiet they
permitted him to remain. He continued patiently at his post for three
days and three nights without seeing anything to justify the suspicions
of the Cardinal, and I was careful to visit him at intervals in order to
receive his report; but when I found that so much time had been lost, I
began to think that the Fleming would not, in all probability, enter the
palace by the gate facing the Carmelite Convent, and Rochefort agreeing
with me on this point, he resolved to change his station. The very same
night he saw him arrive, and let himself in with a key that he carried
about him; and an hour afterwards he observed another man stop at the
same door, and enter by the same means. He was wrapped in a cloak so
that the Count could not recognize him; but he desired my valet, who was
not far off at the time, to follow him when he came out, by which means
we ascertained that the individual who was thus tracked to his own
residence was the Grand Equerry of France, M. de Cinq-Mars; while
before the end of another week we discovered Radbod in the same
manner." [236]

Were not this incident recorded by one of the actors in the adventure,
it would have been impossible to have related it with any faith in its
veracity; as, assuredly, never was the meaning of "secret service"
defined more broadly or more unblushingly than in the instance of the
sycophantic courtier who divested himself of his brilliant attire to don
the tatters of a beggar, and exchanged his velvet-covered couch for the
manure-heap of a city street; while as little would it be credited that
any man in power would venture to suggest so revolting an expedient to
an individual of high birth and position, the companion of princes, and
the associate of Court ladies. Nor is it the least singular feature of
the tale that the chronicler by whom it is told indulges in no
expression of disgust, either at the indelicate selfishness of
Richelieu, or the undignified complaisance of his adherent; although he
evidently seeks to infer that the Cardinal did not venture to request so
monstrous a concession from himself; and dwells with such palpable
enjoyment upon all the details of Rochefort's overweening condescension,
that it is easy to detect his dread of being suspected by his readers of
an equal amount of disgraceful self-abnegation.

The arrest and subsequent execution of the ill-fated Cinq-Mars and his
friend M. de Thou, together with the cowardly policy of Monsieur, who
no sooner found his treason discovered than he once more wrote to demand
his pardon from the King, and to renew his promises of future loyalty
and devotion,[237] are circumstances of such universal notoriety that we
shall not permit ourselves to enlarge upon them. It must suffice,
therefore, to say that this new peril had merely served to increase
alike the bodily suffering and the irascibility of Richelieu, who, even
on the very brink of the grave, was indulging in schemes of vengeance.
He saw on all sides only enemies armed against his life; and by a
supreme effort, to which a less vigorous intellect than his own must
have proved unequal, he rallied all the failing energies of nature to
pay back the universal debt of hatred which he was conscious that he
had incurred.

Such was the temper of his mind while the unfortunate Queen-mother was
yet dreaming of a reconciliation with her son, and an old age of honour
in her adopted country, through the agency of Rubens; but her still
sanguine spirit had betrayed her into forgetting the fact that the dying
tiger tears and rends its victim the most pitilessly in its death-agony;
and this was the case with the rapidly sinking minister, who was no
sooner apprised of the arrival of the painter-prince in the capital than
he despatched a letter to Philip of Spain to urge him to demand the
presence of Rubens on the instant at Madrid, and to detain him in that
city until he should hear further from himself. The request of so
dangerous an adversary as Richelieu was a command to Philip, who
hastened to invite the illustrious Fleming to his Court with all speed,
upon an affair of the most pressing nature; and when Rubens would have
lingered in order to fulfil a mission which he considered as sacred, he
was met by the declaration that Louis desired to defer the audience
which he had already conceded until after the return of the Maestro from
the Spanish capital. With a heavy heart Rubens accordingly left Paris,
aware that this temporary banishment was the work of the vindictive
Cardinal, who was thus depriving his unhappy benefactress of the last
friend on earth who had the courage to defend her cause; but as he drove
through the city gates he was far from anticipating that his freedom of
action was to be trammelled for an indefinite period, and that he was in
fact about to become the temporary prisoner of Philip IV.

Nor was the persevering cruelty of Richelieu yet satiated; he knew by
his emissaries that the end of Marie de Medicis was rapidly approaching,
but he was also aware that through the generous sympathy of Charles of
England and the King of Spain she was still in the receipt of a
sufficient income to ensure her comparative comfort; and even this was
too much for him to concede to the mistress whom he had betrayed; thus,
only a few months elapsed ere the pensions hitherto accorded to the
persecuted Princess were withheld by both monarchs[238]; who, in their
terror of the formidable Cardinal, suffered themselves to overlook their
duty and their loyalty to a woman and a Queen, and their affection
towards the mother of their respective consorts.

Overwhelmed by this new misfortune, Marie de Medicis found herself
reduced to the greatest extremity. Unable to liquidate the salaries of
those members of her household who had accompanied her into exile, she
was abandoned by many among them; while the few jewels which she had
hitherto retained were gradually disposed of in order to support those
who still clung with fidelity to her fallen fortunes; but even this
resource at length failed; and during the winter months, unable any
longer to purchase fuel, she was compelled to permit her attendants to
break up all such articles of furniture as could be made available for
that purpose.[239]

This extreme of wretchedness, however, which would have sufficed to
exhaust the most robust health and the most vigorous youth, was rapidly
sapping the toil-worn and tortured existence of Marie de Medicis; and,
aware that she had nearly reached the term of her sufferings, on the 2nd
of July 1642 she executed a will which is still preserved in the royal
library of Paris,[240] wherein she expressed her confidence that Louis
XIII would cause the mortuary ceremonies consequent upon her decease to
be solemnized in a manner befitting her dignity as Queen of France; and
bequeathed certain legacies to her servants, and to the several
charitable institutions of Cologne. This duty performed, she consented
at the entreaty of her attendants to undergo a painful operation, and to
submit to such remedies as were likely to prove most efficient, although
she herself expressed a conviction of their utter uselessness. She then
received the last sacraments of the church; tenderly embraced those who
stood about her; and after a violent accession of fever, expired at
mid-day on the morrow, with the breath of prayer upon her lips.[241]
Once or twice, blent with the pious outpourings of her departing spirit,
her attendants had distinguished the name of her son--of that son by
whom she had been abandoned to penury; and on each occasion a shade of
pain passed across her wasted features. Her maternal love did not yield
even to bodily agony; but the struggle was brief. Her eyes closed, her
breath suddenly failed: and all was over.

Thus perished, in a squalid chamber, between four bare walls--her utter
destitution having, as we have already stated, driven her to the
frightful alternative of denuding the very apartment which was destined
to witness her death-agony of every combustible article that it
contained, in order by such means to prepare the scanty meal that she
could still command--and on a wretched bed which one of her own lackeys
would, in her period of power, have disdained to occupy; childless, or
worse than childless; homeless, hopeless, and heart-wrung, the haughty
daughter of the Medici--the brilliant Regent of France; the patroness of
art; the dispenser of honours; and the mother of a long line of princes.

Surely history presents but few such catastrophes as this. The soul
sickens as it traces to its close the career of this unhappy and
persecuted Princess. Whatever were her faults, they were indeed bitterly
expiated. As a wife she was outraged and neglected; as a Queen she was
subjected to the insults of the arrogant favourites of a dissolute
Court; as a Regent she was trammelled and betrayed; the whole of her
public life was one long chain of disappointment, heart-burning, and
unrest; while as a woman, she was fated to endure such misery as can
fall to the lot of few in this world.

The remains of the ill-fated Marie de Medicis were, in a few hours after
her decease, transported to the Cathedral of Cologne, where they lay in
state an entire week, during which period Rosetti, the Papal Nuncio,
whose dread of Richelieu had caused him to absent himself from the dying
bed, as he had previously done from the wretched home, of the persecuted
Princess, each day performed a funeral service for the repose of her
soul. Her heart was, by her express desire, conveyed to the Convent of
La Flèche; while her body was ultimately transported to France and
deposited in the royal vaults of St. Denis.

The widow of Henri IV had at last found peace in the bosom of her God;
and she had been so long an exile from her adopted country that the
circumstances of her death were matter rather of curiosity than of
regret throughout the kingdom.

The King was apprised of her demise as he was returning from Tarascon,
where he had been visiting the Cardinal, who was then labouring under
the severe indisposition which, five months subsequently, terminated in
his own dissolution. For the space of four days Louis XIII abandoned
himself to the most violent grief, but at the expiration of that period
he suffered himself to be consoled; while Richelieu, who, even when
persecuting the Queen-mother to the death, had always asserted his
reverence for, and gratitude towards, his benefactress, caused a
magnificent service to be performed in her behalf in the
collegiate church.

Tardy were the lamentations, and tardy the orisons, which reached not
the dull ear of the dead in the gloomy depths of the regal Abbey.


FOOTNOTES:

[225] MSS. de Colbert, Bibliothèque du Roi.

[226] Le Vassor, vol. ix. pp. 121-125. Le Clerc, vol. ii. pp. 352-357,
Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 500, 501.

[227] Hume, vol. v. p. 25.

[228] Rushworth, vol. v. p. 267.

[229] Le Vassor, vol. x. pp. 591, 592. Sismondi, vol. xxiii. pp. 457,
458. Le Clerc, vol. ii. pp. 495, 496. Rambure, MS. _Mém_. vol. xix.
p. 518.

[230] In 1634, after the demise of the Marquis d'Ayetona, Philip of
Spain conferred upon his brother Ferdinand, Cardinal-Archbishop of
Toledo, the appointment of Governor-General of the Netherlands, which he
held until his death, which took place at Brussels on the 9th of
November 1641, when he was succeeded by Don Francisco de Mello, a
nobleman who had rendered himself conspicuous by defeating the Maréchal
de Guiche at Hannecourt. Subsequently, however, De Mello tarnished his
military reputation at the famous battle of Rocroy, where he was utterly
worsted by the young Duc d'Enghien, who had only just attained his
twenty-first year, and who was afterwards known as the Great Condé.

[231] Mézeray, vol. xi. p. 540.

[232] Mézeray, vol. xi. pp. 541, 542. Le Clerc, vol. ii. pp. 496-519.
Aubery, vol. ii. p. 736. Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. ii. p. 15.

[233] Claude de Rouvroy, Sieur de Saint-Simon, was the descendant of a
family of Vermandois in Picardy. His relative Isaac de Rouvroy resigned
in his favour (in 1635) the paternal estate, which, when he became the
favourite of Louis XIII, that monarch erected into a duchy in
his favour.

[234] Henri Coiffier Ruzé-d'Effiat, Marquis de Cinq-Mars, was the second
son of Antoine Coiffier, Marquis d'Effiat, Maréchal de France.

[235] Siri, _Mém. Rec_. vol. ii. p. 571.

[236] Rambure, Unpublished MS. vol. xx. pp. 6-13.

[237] Montresor, _Mém_. p. 162. Le Clerc, vol. ii. pp. 543-562. Mézeray,
vol. xi. pp. 544-552. Capefigue, vol. ii. pp. 99-125.

[238] Sismondi, vol. xxiii. p. 510.

[239] Dreux du Radier, vol. v. pp. 258, 259.

[240] MS. Dupuy, vol. 590.

[241] Le Vassor, vol. x. book 1. p. 589. Capefigue, vol. vi. pp. 121,
122. Sismondi, vol. xxiii. pp. 509, 510. Le Clerc, vol. ii. p. 558.
Mézeray, vol. xi. p. 542.


END OF VOLUME III





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