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Title: A Short History of France
Author: Parmele, Mary Platt, 1843-1911
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Short History of France" ***

[Frontispiece: Gambetta proclaiming the Republic of France.  From the
painting by Howard Pyle.]








Copyright, 1894, By


Copyright, 1898, 1905, 1906, By




  Early Conditions in Gaul


  Julius Caesar's Conquest of Gaul


  Birth of Christianity
  Its Dissemination
  Its Espousal by the Roman Empire
  Hunnish Invasion


  The Frank in Gaul
  Charles Martel
  Pepin Seizes the Crown


  Holy Roman Empire
  Treaty of Verdun


  Invasions by Northmen
  Normandy Given to Invaders
  Decline of Kingship
  Ascendancy of the Church
  Hugh Capet
  "Truce of God"
  William the Conqueror


  Social Structure of France
  Free Cities
  Their Creation and Enfranchisement
  The Crusades
  Philip Augustus
  War with King John of England
  Toulouse and the Albigensian War


  Louis IX.
  End of Crusades
  Philip III.
  Philip IV. and Papacy
  Creation of States-General
  Popes at Avignon
  Knights Templar Exterminated
  Change in Succession


  Edward III. Claims French Throne
  Treaty of Bretigny
  Charles V. and Bertrand du Guesclin
  Death of Black Prince
  Charles VI.
  A Mad King
  Feud Between Houses of Orleans and Burgundy
  Siege of Orleans
  Joan of Arc
  Charles VII.


  Standing Army Created
  Louis XI.
  The Passing of Mediaevalism
  Charles VIII.
  Invasion of Italy
  Louis XII.
  Francis I.
  Struggle for Throne of the German Empire
  The Reformation


  The House of Guise
  Marie Stuart
  Francis II.
  His Death
  Regency of Catharine de' Medici
  Her Designs
  Henry of Navarre
  His Marriage
  Charles IX.
  St. Bartholomew's Eve
  Henry III.
  His Death
  Henry of Navarre King


  Edict of Nantes
  Louis XIII.
  Regency of Maria de' Medici
  The Fronde


  Louis XIV.
  Four Great Wars
  Revocation of Edict of Nantes
  A Victorious Coalition
  Death of Louis XIV.
  Louis XV.


  John Law
  Life at Versailles
  Marriage of Dauphin
  Unseen Currents
  Approaching Crisis
  Death of Louis XV.


  Louis XVI.
  American Revolution
  States-General Summoned
  National Assembly
  Destruction of Bastille
  The Temple
  Triumphant Jacobins
  Execution of the King
  Charlotte Corday
  Execution of Queen
  Fate of the Dauphin
  Philippe Égalité
  Revolution Ended


  France a Republic
  Napoleon Bonaparte
  Breaking Chains in Italy
  Campo Formio
  Campaign in Egypt
  An Empire
  Rapid Steps from Toulon to Versailles
  A New Map of Europe
  Maria Louisa


  Louis XVIII.
  Return of Napoleon
  St. Helena
  Bourbon Restoration
  Charles X.
  Louis Philippe
  Second Republic
  Louis Napoleon


  Second French Republic
  The _Coup d'État_
  Napoleon III.
  A "Liberator" in Italy
  Peace of Villafranca
  Suez Canal
  An Empire in Mexico
  Franco-Prussian War


  Third French Republic
  The Commune
  The Germans in Paris
  Reconstruction from Thiers to Loubet
  Affaire Dreyfus
  Law of Associations
  Separation of Church and State
  Conference at Algeciras
  Election of M. Fallières

Sovereigns and Rulers of France



Gambetta, proclaiming the Republic of France . . . _Frontispiece_

Coronation of Charlemagne

Burning of Joan of Arc at Rouen, May 30, 1431

Napoleon at the Battle of Rivoli, January 14, 1797

Josephine crowned Empress, December 2, 1804,
  in Notre Dame Cathedral

The Revolution of July 28, 1830



One of the greatest achievements of modern research is the discovery of
a key by which we may determine the kinship of nations.  What we used
to conjecture, we now know.  An identity in the structural form of
language establishes with scientific certitude that however diverse
their character and civilizations, Russian, German, Englishman,
Frenchman, Spaniard, are all but branches from the same parent stem,
are all alike children of the Asiatic Aryan.

So skilful are modern methods of questioning the past, and so
determined the effort to find out its secrets, we may yet know the
origin and history of this wonderful Asiatic people, and when and why
they left their native continent and colonized upon the northern shores
of the Mediterranean.  Certain it is, however, that, more centuries
before the Christian era than there have been since, they had peopled
Western Europe.

This branch of the Aryan family is known as the Keltic, and was older
brother to the Teuton and Slav, which at a much later period followed
them from the ancestral home, and appropriated the middle and eastern
portions of the European Continent.

The name of Gaul was given to the territory lying between the Ocean and
the Mediterranean, and the Pyrenees and the Alps.  And at a later
period a portion of Northern Gaul, and the islands lying north of it,
received from an invading chieftain and his tribe the name _Brit_ or
_Britain_ (or Pryd or Prydain).

If the mind could be carried back on the track of time, and we could
see what we now call France as it existed twenty centuries before the
Christian era, we should behold the same natural features: the same
mountains rearing their heads; the same rivers flowing to the sea; the
same plains stretching out in the sunlight.  But instead of vines and
flowers and cultivated fields we should behold great herds of wild ox
and elk, and of swine as fierce as wolves, ranging in a climate as cold
as Norway; and vast, inaccessible forests, the home of beasts of prey,
which contended with man for food and shelter.

Let us read Guizot's description of life in Gaul five centuries before

"Here lived six or seven millions of men a bestial life, in dwellings
dark and low, built of wood and clay and covered with branches or
straw, open to daylight by the door alone and confusedly heaped
together behind a rampart of timber, earth, and stone, which enclosed
and protected what they were pleased to call--a _town_."

Such was the Paris and such the Frenchmen of the age of Pericles!  And
the same tides that washed the sands of Southern Gaul, a few hours
later ebbed and flowed upon the shores of Greece--rich in culture, with
refinements and subtleties in art which are the despair of the world
to-day--with an intellectual endowment never since attained by any

The same sun which rose upon temples and palaces and life serene and
beautiful in Greece, an hour later lighted sacrificial altars and
hideous orgies in the forests of Gaul.  While the Gaul was nailing the
heads of human victims to his door, or hanging them from the bridle of
his horse, or burning or flogging his prisoners to death, the Greek,
with a literature, an art, and a civilization in ripest perfection,
discussed with his friends the deepest problems of life and destiny,
which were then baffling human intelligence, even as they are with us
today.  Truly we of Keltic and Teuton descent are late-comers upon the
stage of national life.

There was no promise of greatness in ancient Gaul.  It was a great,
unregulated force, rushing hither and thither.  Impelled by insatiate
greed for the possessions of their neighbors, there was no permanence
in their loves or their hatreds.  The enemies of to-day were the allies
of to-morrow.  Guided entirely by the fleeting desires and passions of
the moment, with no far-reaching plans to restrain, the sixty or more
tribes composing the Gallic people were in perpetual state of feud and
anarchy, apparently insensible to the ties of brotherhood, which give
concert of action, and stability in form of national life.  If they
overran a neighboring country, it seemed not so much for permanent
acquisition, as to make it a camping-ground until its resources were

We read of one Massillia who came with a colony of Greeks long ages
ago, and after founding the city of Marseilles, created a narrow,
bright border of Greek civilization along the southern edge of the
benighted land.  It was a brief illumination, lasting only a century or
more, and leaving few traces; but it may account for the superior
intellectual quality which later distinguished Provence, the home of

It requires a vast extent of territory to sustain a people living by
the chase, and upon herds and flocks; hence the area which now amply
maintains forty millions of Frenchmen was all too small for six or
seven million Gauls; and they were in perpetual struggle with their
neighbors for land--more land.

"Give us land," they said to the Romans, and when land was denied them
and the gates of cities disdainfully closed upon their messengers, not
land, but vengeance, was their cry; and hordes of half-naked barbarians
trampled down the vineyards, and rushed, a tumultuous torrent, upon

The Romans could not stand before this new and strange kind of warfare.
The Gauls streamed over the vanquished legions into the Eternal City,
silent and deserted save only by the Senate and a few who remained
intrenched in the Citadel; and there the barbarians kept them besieged
for seven months, while they made themselves at home amid
uncomprehended luxuries.

Of course Roman skill and courage at last dislodged and drove them
back.  But the fact remained that the Gaul had been there--master of
Rome; that the iron-clad legions had been no match for his naked force,
and a new sensation thrilled through the length and breadth of Gaul.
It was the first throb of national life.  The sixty or more fragments
drew closer together into something like Gallic unity--with a common
danger to meet, a common foe to drive back.

Hereafter there was another hunger to be appeased besides that for food
and land; a hunger for conquest, for vengeance, and for glory for the
Gallic name.  National pride was born.

For years they hovered like wolves about Rome.  But skill and superior
intelligence tell in the centuries.  It took long--and cost no end of
blood and treasure; but two hundred years from the capture of Rome, the
Gauls were driven out of Italy, and the Alps pronounced a barrier set
by nature herself against barbarian encroachments.

Italy was not the only country suffering from the destroying footsteps
of the Western Kelts.  There had been long before an overflow of a
tribe in Northern Gaul (the Kymrians), which had hewed and plundered
its way south and eastward; until at the time of Alexander (B.C. 340)
it was knocking at the gates of Macedonia.

Stimulated by the success at Rome fifty years earlier, they were, with
fresh insolence, demanding "land," and during the centuries which
followed, the Gallic name acquired no fresh lustre in Greece.
Half-naked, gross, ferocious, and ignorant, sometimes allies, but
always a scourge, they finally crossed the Hellespont (B.C. 278), and
turned their attention to Asia Minor.  And there, at last, we find them
settled in a province called Gallicia, where they lived without
amalgamating with the people about them, and four hundred years after
Christ were speaking the language of their tribal home in what is now
Belgium.  And these were the Galatians--the "foolish Galatians," to
whom Paul addressed his epistle; and we have followed up this Gallic
thread simply because it mingles with the larger strand of ancient and
sacred history with which we are all so familiar.

It is not strange that Roman courage became a byword.  The fibre of
Rome was toughened by perpetual strain of conflict.  Even while she was
struggling with Gaul and with the memories of the Carthaginian wars
still fresh at Rome, the Goths were at her gates--their blows directed
with a solidity superior to that of the barbarians who had preceded
them.  Where the Gauls had knocked, the Goths thundered.

Again the city was invaded by barbarian feet, and again did superior
training and intelligence drive back the invading torrent and triumph
over native brute force.

Such, in brief outline, was the condition of the centuries just before
the Christian era.

It is easy now to read the meaning of these agitated centuries, and to
recognize the preparation for the passing of the old and the coming of
the new.


The making of a nation is not unlike bread or cake making.  One element
is used as the basis, to which are added other component parts, of
varying qualities, and the result we call England, or Germany, or
France.  The steps by which it is accomplished, the blending and fusing
of the elements, require centuries, and the process makes what we

It was written in the book of fate that Gaul should become a great
nation; but not until fused and interpenetrated with two other
nationalities.  She must first be humanized and civilized by the Roman,
and then energized and made free from the Roman by the Teuton.

The instrument chosen for the former was Julius Caesar, and for the
latter--five centuries later--Clovis, the Frankish leader.

It is safe to affirm that no man has ever so changed the course of
human events as did Julius Caesar.  Napoleon, who strove to imitate him
1800 years later, was a charlatan in comparison; a mere scene-shifter
on a great theatrical stage.  Few traces of his work remain upon
humanity to-day.

Caesar opened up a pathway for the old civilizations of the world to
flow into Western Europe, and the sodden mass of barbarism was infused
with a life-compelling current.  This was not accomplished by placing
before the inferior race a higher ideal of life for imitation, but by a
mingling of the blood of the nations--a transfusion into Gallic veins
of the germs of a higher living and thinking--thus making them heirs to
the great civilizations of antiquity.

Was any human event ever fraught with such consequences to the human
race as the conquest of Gaul by Julius Caesar?

The Gallic wars had for centuries drained the treasure and taxed the
resources of Rome.  Caesar conceived the audacious idea of stopping
them at their source--in fact, of making Gaul a Roman province.

It was a marvellous exhibition, not simply of force, but of force
wielded by supreme intelligence and craft.  He had lived many years
among this people and knew their sources of weakness, their internal
jealousies and rivalries, their incohesiveness.  When they hurled
themselves against Rome, it was as a mass of sharp fragments.  When the
Goths did the same, it was as one solid, indivisible body.  Caesar saw
that by adroit management he could disintegrate this people while
conquering them.

By forcibly maintaining in power those who submitted to him, being by
turns gentle and severe, ingratiating here, terrifying there, he
established a tremendous personal force; and during nine years carried
on eight campaigns, marvels in the art of war, as well as in the
subtler methods of negotiation and intrigue.  He had successively dealt
with all the Keltic tribes, even including Great Britain, subjugating
either through their own rivalries, or by his invincible arm.

Equally able to charm and to terrify, he had all the gifts, all the
means to success and empire, that can be possessed by man.  Great in
politics as in war, as full of resource in the forum as on the
battle-field, he was by nature called to dominion.

It was not as a patriot, simply intent upon freeing Rome of an
harassing enemy, that he endured those nine years in Gaul; not as a
great leader burning with military ardor that he conducted those eight
campaigns.  The conquest of Gaul meant the greater conquest of Rome.
The one was accomplished; he now turned his back upon the devastated
country, and prepared to complete his great project of human ascendency.

Rome was mistress of the world; he--would be master of Rome.

In the early days of the conquest of Gaul a small island lying in the
river Seine was chosen for the residence of the Roman Governors, and
called _Lutetia_.  The residence soon grew into the Palace of the
Caesars; and then bridges spanned the river, and roads and aqueducts
and faubourgs sprang into existence across the Seine, and _Lutetia_ was
swallowed up in Paris--so named for a Gallic tribe, the _Parisii_,
which had once encamped there.  Standing within the Palais de Justice
on this island to-day, one is in direct touch with Rome when she was
mistress of the world.  The feet of the Caesars have pressed those
stones.  Those vaulted ceilings have looked down upon Julian the
Apostate; he who upon his throne in the far East sighed for
"Lutetia"--his "dear Lutetia."

At Passy and Montmartre, and where stands the Palais Royal, rich Romans
had their suburban homes, and Roman legions were encamped where are now
the Palais de Luxembourg and the Sorbonne.  And with a mingling of
Keltic and Latin, there had commenced a new form of human speech.

Not Paris alone, but all of Gaul felt the awakening touch of a great
civilization, and with improved ideals in living there came another
great advance.  The human sacrifices and abhorrent practices of the
Druidical faith were abandoned, and Jupiter and Minerva and the gods of
Parnassus supplanted the grim deities of a more ancient mythology.  But
while Rome was a powerful teacher, she was a cruel mistress--and
shackles were galling to these free barbarians.  In the midst of
universal misery there came tidings of something better than the gods
of Parnassus, when in A.D. 160 Irenaeus came to Lyons and there
established the first Church of Christ; and here it was that Marcus
Aurelius ordered the persecution which was intended to stamp out the
new and fanatical heresy.


While the Star of Empire was thus moving toward the West, another and
brighter star had arisen in the East.  So accustomed are we to the
story, that we lose all sense of wonder at its recital.

Julius Caesar's brief triumph was over, Marc Antony had recited his
virtues over his bier, Rome had wept, and then forgotten him in the
absorbing splendors of his nephew Augustus.  In an obscure village of
an obscure country in Asia Minor the young wife of a peasant finds
shelter in a stable, and gives birth to a son, who is cradled in the
straw of a manger from which the cattle are feeding.

Can the mind conceive of human circumstances more lowly?  The child
grew to manhood, and in his thirty-three years of life was never lifted
above the obscure sphere into which he was born; never spoke from the
vantage-ground of worldly elevation; simply moving among people of his
own station in life, mechanics, fishermen, and peasants, he told of a
religion of love, a gospel of peace, for which he was willing to die.

Who would have dreamed that this was the germ of the most potent, the
most regenerative force the world had ever known?  That thrones,
empires, principalities, and powers would melt and crumble before His
name?  Of all miracles, is not this the greatest?

The passionate ardor with which this religion was propagated in the
first two centuries had no motive but the yearning to make others share
in its benefits and hopes; and to this end to accept the belief that
Jesus Christ had come in fulfilment of the promise of a Saviour--who
should be sent to this world clothed with divine authority to establish
a spiritual kingdom, in which he was King of kings, Lord of lords,
Meditator between us and the Father, of whom he was the "only begotten

The religion in its essence was absolutely simple.  Its founder summed
it up in two sentences: expressing the duty of man to man, and of man
to God.  That was all the theology he formulated.

For two centuries the religion of Christ was an elemental spiritual
force.  It appealed only to the highest attributes and longings of the
human soul, and under its sustaining influence frail women, men, and
even children were able to endure tortures, of which we cannot read
even now without shuddering horror.

Nature's method of gardening is very beautiful.  She carefully guards
the seed until it is ripe, then she bursts the imprisoning walls and
gives it to the winds to distribute.  Precisely such method was used in
disseminating Christianity.  It was not for one people--it was for the
healing of the nations, and its home was wherever man abides.

Nearly five decades after Christ's death upon the cross, Jerusalem was
destroyed by Titus.  The home of Christianity was effaced.  At just the
right moment the enclosing walls had broken, and freed to the winds the
germs in all their primitive purity.

Imperial favor had not tarnished it, human ambitions had not employed
and degraded it, nor had it been made into complex system by ingenious
casuists.  The pure spiritual truth, unsullied as it came from the hand
of its founder, was scattered broadcast, as the band of Christians
dispersed throughout the Roman Empire, naturally forming into
communities here and there, which became the centres of Christian
propagandism.  Lyons in Gaul was such a centre.

The fires of persecution had been lighted here and there throughout the
empire, and the Emperor Nero, under whom the Apostles Peter and Paul
are said to have suffered martyrdom, had amused himself by making
torches of the Christians at Rome.  But until A.D. 177 Gaul was exempt
from such horrors.

Marcus Aurelius--that peerless pagan--large in intelligence, exalted in
character, and guided by a conscientious rectitude which has made his
name shine like a star in the lurid light of Roman history, still
failed utterly to comprehend the significance of this spiritual kingdom
established by Christ on earth.  He it was who ordered the first
persecution in Gaul.  In pursuance of his command, horrible tortures
were inflicted at Lyons upon those who would not abjure the new faith.

A letter, written by an eye-witness, pictures with terrible vividness
the scenes which followed.  Many cases are described with harrowing
detail, and of one Blandina it is said: "From morn till eve they put
her to all manner of torture, marvelling that she still lived with her
body pierced through and through and torn piecemeal by so many
tortures, of which a single one should have sufficed to kill her; to
which she only replied, 'I am a Christian.'"

The recital goes on to tell how she was then cast into a dungeon--her
feet compressed and dragged out to the utmost tension of the
muscles--then left alone in darkness until new methods of torture could
be devised.

Finally she was brought, with other Christians, into the amphitheatre,
hanging from a Cross to which she was tied, and there thrown to the
beasts.  As the beasts refused to touch her she was taken back to the
dungeon to be reserved for another occasion, being brought out daily to
witness the fate and suffering of her friends and fellow-martyrs; still
answering the oft-repeated question, "I am a Christian."

The writer goes on to say, "After she had undergone fire, the talons of
beasts, and every agony which could be thought of, she was wrapped in a
network and thrown to a bull, who tossed her in the air"--and her
sufferings were ended.

Truly it cost something to say "I am a Christian" in those days.

Marcus Aurelius probably gave orders for the persecution at Lyons, with
little knowledge of what would be the nature of those persecutions, or
of the religion he was trying to exterminate.  Some of the hours spent
in writing introspective essays would have been well employed in
studying the period in which he lived, and the empire he ruled.

Paganism and Druidism, those twin monsters, receded before the
advancing light of Christianity.  Neither contained anything which
could nourish the soul of man, and both had become simply badges of

Druidism was the last stronghold of independent Gallic life.  It was a
mixture of northern myth and oriental dreams of metempsychosis, coarse,
mystical, and cruel.  The Roman paganism which was superimposed by the
conquering race was the mere shell of a once vital religion.  Educated
men had long ceased to believe in the gods and divinities of Greece,
and it is said that the Roman augurs, while giving their solemn
prophetic utterances, could not look at each other without laughing.

In the year 312--alas for Christianity!--it was espoused by imperial
power.  When the Emperor Constantine declared himself a Christian,
there was no doubt rejoicing among the saints; but it was the beginning
of the degeneracy of the religion of Christ.  The faith of the humble
was to be raised to a throne; its lowly garb to be exchanged for purple
and scarlet; the gospel of peace to be enforced by the sword.

The empire was crumbling, and upon its ruins the race of the future and
social conditions of modern times were forming.  Paganism and Druidism
would have been an impossibility.  Christianity, even with its lustre
dimmed, its purity tarnished, its simplicity overlaid with
scholasticism, was better than these.  The miracle had been
accomplished.  The great Roman Empire had said, "I am Christian."

A belief in the gods of Parnassus, which Rome had imposed upon Gaul,
had now become a heresy to be exterminated.  If fires were lighted at
Lyons or elsewhere, they were for the extermination not of Christians,
but of pagans, and of all who would depart from the religion of Christ
as interpreted by Rome.  It was a death-bed repentance for the cruel
old empire, a repentance which might delay, but could not avert a
calamitous ending, and an unexpected event was near at hand which would
hasten the coming of the end.

It was in the year A.D. 375 that the Huns, a terrible race of beings,
came out from that then mysterious but now historic region, lying
between China and Russia, and surged into Europe under the leadership
of Attila, sweeping before them as they came Goths, Vandals, and other
Teutonic races, as if with a predetermined purpose of forcing the
uncivilized Teuton into the lap of a perishing civilization in the
south.  Then having accomplished this, after the defeat of Attila at
Châlons in A.D. 453, they disappeared forever as a race from the stage
of human events.

This is the time when Paris was saved by Genevieve, the poor
sheperdess, who, like an early Joan of Arc, awoke the people from the
apathy of despair, and led them to victory--and is rewarded by an
immortality as "Saint Genevieve," the patron saint of Paris.  It would
seem that the vigilance of the gentle saint has either slept or been
unequal to the task of protecting her city at times!

It was the combined forces of the Goth and the Frank which drove this
scourge out of Europe.  Meroveus, or Meroveg, the leader of the Franks
in this great achievement, once the terror of the Gallic people, was
now their deliverer.  He had won the gratitude of all classes, from
bishops to slaves, throughout Gaul, and fate had thus opened wide a
door leading into the future of that land.


Gaul had been Latinized and Christianized.  Now one more thing was
needed to prepare her for a great future.  Her fibre was to be
toughened by the infusion of a stronger race.  Julius Caesar had shaken
her into submission, and Rome had chastised her into decency of
behavior and speech, but as her manners improved her native vigor
declined.  She took kindly to Roman luxury and effeminacy, and could no
longer have thundered at the gates of her neighbors demanding "land."

The despotism of a perishing Roman Empire had become intolerable; and
the thoughts of an overtaxed and enslaved people turned naturally to
the Franks.  They had rescued them from one terrible fate, might they
not deliver them from another?  And so it came about that the young
savage Chlodoveg, or _Clovis_, grandson of Meroveus, found himself
master of the fair land long coveted beyond the Rhine; and Gaul and
Roman alike were submerged beneath the Teuton flood, while Clovis,
sitting in the Palace of the Caesars, on the island in the Seine, was
wearing the kingly crown, and independent and dynastic life had
commenced in what was hereafter to be not Gaul, but _France_.

But the king of whom she had dreamed was of her own race; not this
terrible Frank.  Had she exchanged one servitude for another?  Had she
been, not set free, but simply annexed to the realm of the barbarian
across the Rhine?  Let us say rather that it was an espousal.  She had
brought her dowry of beauty and "land," that most coveted of
possessions, and had pledged obedience, for which she was to be
cherished, honored, and protected, and to bear the name of her lord.

It will be well not to examine too closely the conversion of Clovis to
Christianity, any more than that of Constantine to the religion of
Christ, or that of Henry VIII. to Protestantism.  The only thing Clovis
wanted of the gods was aid in destroying his enemies.  At a certain
dark moment, when the pagan deities failed him, and the tide of battle
was turning against him, in desperation he offered to become a
Christian, if the God of the Christians would save him.  He kept his
word.  His victory was followed by Christian baptism, and the Church
had won a great defender, whose ferocious instincts were thereafter to
be directed toward the extermination of unbelievers.  And while hewing
and consolidating and bringing his kingdom into form, whether by
treacheries or intrigues or assassination, this converted Frank was not
alone defender of the faith, but of the orthodox faith.  The Visigoth
kingdom in Spain was given over to that heresy known as _Arianism_!  So
in a crusade, like another of a later date, he swept them over beyond
the Pyrenees, thus establishing a frontier which always remained.

Such were the rough beginnings of France, geographically and

Ancient heroes are said to be seen through a shadowy lens, which
magnifies their stature.  Let us hope that the crimes of the three or
four generations immediately succeeding Clovis have been in like manner
expanded; for it is sickening to read of such monstrous prodigality of
wickedness; whole families butchered--husbands, wives, children,
anything obstructing the path to the throne--with an atrocity which
makes Richard III. seem a mere pigmy in the art of intrigue and
killing.  The chapter closes with the daughter and mother of kings
(Brunhilde or Brunhaut), naked, and tied by one arm, one leg, and her
hair to the tail of an unbroken horse, and amid jeers and shouts dashed
over the stones of Paris (A.D. 600).

Upon the death of Clovis his inheritance was divided among four sons,
who, with their wives and families and their tempestuous passions,
afforded material for a great epic.  Whether Fredegunde or Brunhilde
was the more terrible who can say?  But the story of these rival
queens, with their loves and their hatreds and their ambitious,
vengeful fury, is more like the story of demons than of women.  But
these conditions led to two results which played a great part in
subsequent events.  One was the exclusion of women from the succession
by the adoption of the Salic Law.  Then, in order to curb the
degeneracy or to reinforce the inefficiency of the hereditary ruler,
there was created the office of _Maire du Palais_, a modest title which
contained the germ of the future, not alone of France, but of the world.

To imperfect human vision it would have seemed at the time a fatal
mistake to bury out of sight the refinements which a Latin civilization
had been for nearly five centuries planting in Gaul.  But so often has
this been repeated in the history of the world, one is compelled to
recognize it as a part of the evolutionary method.  Again and again
have we seen old civilizations effaced by barbarians.  But these
barbarians with their coarseness and brutality have usually brought
something better than refinement; a spirit so transforming, so
vitalizing, that we are compelled to believe it was the end sought in
the catastrophe we deplore: that is, a spirit of liberty, a sense of
personal independence, without which the refinements of art, even
reinforced by genius, are unavailing.  Such was undoubtedly the
invigorating leaven brought into Gaul by the Frank, although for a time
he succumbed to the enervating Gallic influence, and, while conquering
and subduing, was himself conquered and subdued.

The cultivated Roman in his toga appealed to the imagination of the
fine barbarian; the habits of the Romanized cities were a tempting
model for imitation.  Bridges, aqueducts, palaces, with their splendid
mingling of strength and beauty, fragments of which still linger to
convince us of our inferiority, these were awe-inspiring to the Frank
and filled him with longings to drink deep at this fountain of
civilization.  The heroic strain brought by Clovis was quickly
enfeebled and debauched by luxury.  The court of the Merovingian king
became a miserable assemblage of half-Romanized barbarians covered with
the frayed and worn-out mantle of imperialism.  It is a strange picture
we have of this descendant of Clovis, this _Roi Fainéant_ (Do-nothing
King) in a royal procession on a state occasion.  Curled and perfumed,
he emerges from the _Palais des Thermes_, attended in great pomp by
Romans and Romanized Frankish warriors.  Then, in remembrance of the
primitive simplicity of his ancestral line, sitting alone in a wagon
drawn by bullocks, he leads the pageant through the narrow streets of
old Paris.

But while masquerading as a simple barbarian he was only a poor
imitator of the vices and dregs of a perishing civilization.  But in
proof that virility was still a characteristic of the Frank in Gaul, we
are told that while the Church and the offices of State were filled by
Romans or Gallo-Romans, the army at this time was composed entirely of

With the degeneracy of these _Rois Fainéants_ the kingdom of Clovis was
gradually shrinking, and men were already waiting to seize the power as
it fell from incompetent hands.  When Clovis made gifts of large
estates to reward, or to purchase, followers, Roman or Gallic, he laid
the foundations of a system which would prove fatal to his successors.
With these estates came titles and authority, multiplying and growing
with each succeeding reign.  A count, who was the chief officer of a
county, was in fact the sovereign of a small state, and so on a smaller
scale were a duke or a marquis.  And it was to these smaller bodies
that the power naturally gravitated as it vanished from the throne.

This meant disintegration into helpless fragments, and this meant the
end of a Frankish kingdom, unless some power should arise great enough
to compel the crumbling state to become homogeneous.

It was a Romanized-Frankish family dwelling in the Valley of the Rhine
which saved the kingdom of Clovis from this fate.  France had already
fallen apart into an eastern and a western kingdom, known respectively
as _Austrasia_ and _Neustria_.  A certain Duke of Austrasia, known as
Pepin the Elder, was the forerunner of the Carlovingian line of kings.
With him the centralizing force began to work with saving power.  The
one end kept in view was the restoration of the power of kingship--the
strengthening of the power at the centre.  To this end, from generation
to generation, these early Pepins steadily moved.  In 687 Pepin the
Younger, grandson of the Elder, by a victory at Testry over Neustria,
brought together these two sundered divisions under himself, with the
new title Duke of the Franks.  The Pepins had already succeeded in
making the office of Maire du Palais hereditary in their family, and in
the year A.D. 732, Charles, son and successor of Pepin the Younger,
made himself forever the hero not of France alone, but of Christendom,
by driving the Saracen invasion back over the Pyrenees, and was in turn
succeeded by his son, Pepin the Short, who seized the Merovingian crown
itself; this remarkable family, the appointed channel for the
centralizing forces, reaching its climax in his son Charlemagne;
creator of a Holy Roman Empire.

There had appeared an enemy to the true faith more to be feared than

Less than one hundred years after the death of Clovis, there had come
out of Asia, that birthplace of religions, a new faith, which was
destined to be for centuries the scourge of Christendom, and which
to-day rules one-third of the human family.  Zoroaster, Buddha, Christ,
had successively come with saving message to humanity, and now (A.D.
600) Mahomet believed himself divinely appointed to drive out of Arabia
the idolatry of ancient Magianism (the religion of Zoroaster).

Christianity had passed through strange vicissitudes.  Kings, emperors,
popes, and bishops had been terrible custodians of its truths; and
while many still held it in its primitive purity, ecclesiastics were
fiercely righting over the nature of the Trinity, the divinity of the
Virgin Mother, and the Church was shaken to its foundation by furious

In this hour of weakness the Persians (A.D. 590) had conquered Asia
Minor.  Bethlehem, Gethsemane, and Calvary were profaned; the Holy
Sepulchre had been burned, and the cross carried off amid shouts of
laughter.  Magianism had insulted Christianity, and no miracle had
interposed!  The heavens did not roll asunder, nor did the earth open
her abysses to swallow them up.  There was consternation and doubt in

Such was the state of the Church when Mahometanism came into existence.
"There is but one God, and Mahomet is his Prophet."  Such was its
battle-cry and its creed, and the moral precepts of the Koran were its
gospel.  There seems nothing in this to account for the mad enthusiasm
and the passion for worship in its followers.  But in less than a
hundred years this lion out of Arabia had subjugated Syria,
Mesopotamia, Egypt, Northern Africa, and the Spanish Peninsula.  Now,
sword in one hand and the Koran in the other, the Mahometan had crossed
the Pyrenees and was in Southern Gaul.

Under the strange magic of this faith the largest religious empire the
world had known had sprung into existence, stretching from the Chinese
Wall to the Atlantic; from the Caspian to the Indian Ocean; and
Jerusalem, the metropolis of Christianity--Jerusalem, the Mecca of the
Christian--was lost!  The Crescent floated over the birthplace of our
Lord, and, notwithstanding the temporary successes of the Crusades, it
does to this day.

If the Pyrenees were passed the very existence of Christendom was
threatened.  Charles Martel, the grandfather of Charlemagne, averted
this danger when he stayed the infidel flood at the battle of Tours,
A.D. 732.

The Merovingian kings, if not devout, were faithful sons of the Church,
and when the pope appealed to the last Merovingian king to protect him
from the Lombards, near the end of the eighth century, Pepin, then
Maire du Palais, but holding supreme power, twice crossed the Alps with
an army, wrested five cities and a large extent of territory from the
enemies of the pope, which, upon parting, he tossed as a gift into the
lap of the Church.  And this, known as the _Donation of Pepin_, was the
beginning of the temporal power of the popes in Italy.  So when Pepin
resolved to assume the crown, Pope Zacharias in gratitude sanctioned
the audacious act, by sending his representative to place the symbol of
power upon the head of this faithful son and usurper!  (A.D. 751.)

But this was only the stepping-stone for a greater elevation.  When
Pope Adrian I. again needed protection from the Lombard, a greater than
Pepin was wearing the crown his father had audaciously snatched.


Against the dark background of European history, and with the broad
level of obscurity stretching over the ages at its feet, there rises
one shining pinnacle.  Considered as man or sovereign, Charlemagne is
one of the most impressive figures in history.  His seven feet of
stature clad in shining steel, his masterful grasp of the forces of his
time, his splendid intelligence, instinct even then with the modern
spirit, all combine to elevate him in solitary grandeur.

Charlemagne found France in disorder measureless, and apparently
insurmountable.  Barbarian invasion without, and anarchy within; Saxon
paganism pressing in upon the north, and Asiatic Islamism upon the
south and west; a host of forces struggling for dominion in a nation
brutish, ignorant, and without cohesion.

It is the attribute of genius to discern opportunity where others see
nothing.  Charlemagne saw rising out of this chaos a great resuscitated
Roman Empire, which should be at the same time a spiritual and
Christian empire as well.  Saxons, Slavs, Huns, Lombards, Arabs, came
under his compelling grasp; these antagonistic races all held together
by the force of one terrible will, in unnatural combination with
France.  No political liberties, no popular assemblies discussing
public measures; it is Charlemagne alone who fills the picture; it is
absolutism--marked by prudence, ability, and grandeur, but still,

The pope looked approvingly upon this son of the Church, by whose order
4,500 pagan heads could be cut off in one day, and a whole army
compelled to baptism in an afternoon.  Here was a champion to be
propitiated.  Charlemagne, on the other hand, saw in the Church the
most compliant and effective means to empire.

His fertile mind was conceiving a vast design by which he might reign
over a resuscitated Roman Empire.  In the dual sovereignty of his
dream, the pope was to be the spiritual and he the temporal head.
Mutually dependent upon each other, the election of the pope would not
be valid without his consent.  Nor would the emperor be emperor until
crowned by the pope.  The Church might use him as a sword, but he would
wear the Church as a precious jewel in his crown.

It was a splendid dream, splendidly realized; the most imposing of
human successes, and the most impressive of human failures.  It seems
designed as a lesson for the human race in the transitory nature of
power applied from without.

A pyramid of such colossal proportions could only be kept from falling
in pieces by another Colossus like himself.  The vast fabric resting
upon one human will, passed with its creator; was gone like a shadow
when he was gone.

It will be remembered that the Roman Empire in its decay fell into two
parts, a Western and an Eastern empire.  The dying embers of the
Western empire, which had been fanned into a feeble flame in the sixth
century by Justinian, Emperor of the East, were threatened with
complete extinguishment by the Lombards in the eighth; from which
calamity they were saved, as we have seen, by Pepin.  So when the
Franks were again appealed to, Charlemagne saw his opportunity.  With
plans fully matured he responded, and with the consent and acquiescence
of the pope he took formal possession of the whole of Italy, annexing
to his own dominions the crumbling wreck of a magnificent past.  And
when Leo III. placed upon his head the crown, and pronounced
"Carolus-Magnus, by the grace of God Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire"
(A.D. 800), the authority of the pope was placed upon unassailable
heights, and France had become the centre of a world-wide dominion.

[Illustration: Coronation of Charlemagne.  From the painting by Levy.]

Little did pope or emperor dream of what was to happen; that after a
brief and dazzling interlude the imperial crown would never be worn in
France; and that the popes would for centuries be insulted and treated
as contumacious vassals by German emperors.  And France--France, the
centre of this dream of a magnificent unity--in less than fifty years,
with her native incohesiveness, and in the irony of fate, would have
broken into fifty-nine fragments, loosely held together by a feeble
Carlovingian king.

The plan of a dual sovereignty of pope and emperor might have been wise
had both been immortal!  But it was the triple division of the empire
brought about by Charlemagne's three grandsons which overthrew the
entire scheme of its founder.

Upon the death of Charlemagne, in A.D. 814, the crown and the sceptre
of the empire passed to his son Louis (the later form of Clovis).  This
feeble son of Charlemagne, known as Louis the Débonnaire, struggled
under the weight of the crumbling mass until his death in 840.  Then
Charlemagne's three ambitious grandsons fought for the great
inheritance.  Lothaire, who claimed the whole by right of
primogeniture, was defeated at the battle of Fontenay in Burgundy, and
by the treaty of Verdun in 843 the partition of the empire was
consummated; the title of emperor passing to Lothaire, the eldest,
along with Italy and a strip of territory extending to the North Sea,
all west of that being arbitrarily called France, and all east of it

So the European drama was unfolding upon lines entirely unexpected.
Not only had the empire fallen apart into three grand divisions, but
France itself was disintegrating, was in fact a mass of rival states,
with counts, princes, marquises, and a score of other petty potentates
struggling for supremacy.

The rough outlines of something greater than France--the outlines of a
future Europe--were being drawn.  It is easy to see now what was then
so incomprehensible: that from the chaos of barbarism left by the
Teuton flood, there were emerging in that ninth century a group of
states with definite outlines, and the larger organism of Europe was
coming into form.  The treaty of Verdun (843) had roughly separated
_Italy_, _France_, and _Germany_.  At the same time the Heptarchy in
Britain had been consolidated into _England_ under King Alfred; while
an obscure Scandinavian adventurer named Rurik, quite unobserved, was
bringing into political unity, and reigning at Kieff as Grand Duke over
what was to become _Russia_.  _Spain_, quite apart from all this
movement, had entered upon those seven centuries of struggle with
Saracen and Moor, that struggle of unmatched devotion and tenacity of
purpose which is really the great epic of history.

Those ambitious and too powerful vassals were not the greatest evils
menacing the Carlovingian kings.  It was the incessant invasions of a
race of barbarians coming out of the north, which was going to bury the
past under a ruin of a different sort.  There seemed no defence from
these Northmen, as they were called, who swarmed like destroying
insects upon the coast, up the rivers, and over the lands; three times
sacked Paris, the scars to-day being visible in that impressive Roman
ruin, the _Palais des Thermes_, the home of the Caesars, and of the
Merovingian kings, which they partially burned.

Fortified castles with towers and moats and drawbridges sprang up all
over the kingdom for the protection of the rich.  After seven invasions
all the old cities, Rouen, Nantes, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Orleans,
Beauvais, had been devastated, and France in coat of mail was hiding
behind stone walls.

In looking through the vista of centuries it is easy to read the
eternal purpose in the chain of cause and effect; and also to see that
events, no less than kings, have their pedigrees.  The terrible child
of the Northman was the _Feudal System_; which was again the father of
those romantic and picturesque children, the _Crusades_; and these, the
creators of a European civilization, whose children we are!

Who can imagine the course of history with any one of these
removed--each an apparently inevitable step in the unfolding of a
mighty design, utterly incomprehensible at the time?


Someone has said that "the Lord must like common people, because he
made so many of them."  The path for the common people in France at
this time led through heavy shadows.  But a darker time was
approaching.  A system of oppression was maturing which was soon to
envelop them in the obscurity of darkest night.

Those Scandinavian freebooters called Northmen, and later Normans, were
the scourge of the kingdom.  Nothing was safe from their insolent
courage and rapacity.

The rich could intrench themselves in stone fortresses, with moats and
drawbridges, and be in comparative security, but the poor were utterly
defenceless against this perennial destroyer.  The result was a compact
between the powerful and the weak, which was the beginning of the
feudal system.  It was in effect an exchange of protection for service
and fealty.

You give us absolute control of your persons--your military service
when required, and a portion of your substance and the fruit of your
toil--and we will in exchange give you our fortified castles as a
refuge from the Northmen.  Such was the offer.  It was a choice between
vassalage, serfdom, or destruction outright.

Simple enough in its beginnings, this became a ramified system of
oppression, a curious network of authority, ingeniously controlling an
entire people.  The conditions upon which was engrafted this compact
were of great antiquity, had indeed been brought across the Rhine by
the German conquerors; but the Northmen were the impelling cause of the
swift development of feudalism in France.

Charlemagne had felt grave apprehensions of evil from these robber
incursions, but could not have conceived of a result such as this, the
most oppressive system ever fastened upon a nation, and one which would
at the same time sap the foundations of royalty itself.

The theory was that the king was absolute owner of all the territory;
the great lords holding their titles from him on condition of military
service, their vassals pledging military service and obedience to them
again on similar terms, and sub-vassals again to them repeating the
pledge; and so on in descending chain, until at last the serf, that
wretched being whom none looks up to nor fears, is ground to powder
beneath the superimposed mass; no appeal from the authority, no escape
from the caprice or cruelty of his feudal lord.  Could any scales
weigh, could any words measure the suffering which must have been
endured?  Is it strange that, with every aspiration thwarted, hope
stifled, Europe sank into the long sleep of the Middle Ages?

It is easy to conceive that, under such a system, where all the affairs
of the realm were adjusted by individual rulers with unlimited power,
and where the great barons could make war upon each other without
authorization from the king, by the time this nominal head of the
entire system was reached there remained nothing for him to do.  In
fact, there was not left one vestige of kingly authority, and
Carlovingian rulers were almost as insignificant as their Merovingian
predecessors.  France had, instead of one great sovereign, one hundred
and fifty petty ones!

In A.D. 911 the Northmen were offered the province henceforth known as
Normandy, upon condition of their acceptance of the religion and
submission to the laws of the realm.  Rollo, the disreputable
robber-chief, took the oath of fealty to the King of France, his
suzerain, and Christian baptism transformed him into respectable,
law-abiding Robert, Duke of Normandy.

So, the enemy had become a vassal.  The pirate of the North Sea had
taken his place among the Christian chivalry of Europe, as one of the
twelve peers of France.  It was less than a century since the death of
Charlemagne, and the office of king had grown almost as helpless as in
the period of the _Rois Fainéants_.  Under the stress of the continuous
invasions, by perfectly natural process the central authority had
passed to the feudal magnates.  Many of the feudal states had actually
organized into independent governing bodies.  The struggle with the
Northmen ended, France, dismembered, exhausted, was lying prostrate.  A
king stripped of every kingly attribute at one extreme of the social
system, and a people trampled into the very dust by feudal oppression
at the other.  Owners of nothing, not even of themselves, they might
not fish in the streams, nor hunt in the forests, unless the privilege
was bestowed; and with their lives spent in fighting the incessant
private wars of their lords, there seemed no room for them in the
world, nor for hope in their hearts.  With the king effaced, and the
people effaced, there remained only bands of feudal barons trying to
efface each other!

As in the last days of the Merovingians, light came from an unexpected
quarter.  The tide turned toward centralization.  Robert the Strong, a
man of obscure family, who had laid down his life in a very heroic
resistance to the Northmen, had won the titles "Count of Paris" and
"Duke of France," which he bequeathed, with the estates attached to
them, to his successors.

Somewhat after the manner of the Pepins, this powerful and resourceful
family by sheer native ability grasped one after another the sources of
power in the state; and in the year 987 the dynasty established by
Pepin disappeared, and Hugh Capet, Count of Paris and Abbot, was
declared by the Pope of Rome to be "King of France, in virtue of his
great deeds."  It was the ecclesiastical office of this descendant of
Robert the Strong which gave the name to the dynasty that had come to
save France a second time from disintegration.  Because he was the
wearer of the _Chape_, or _Cope_, the name _Chapet_, or _Capet_, became
that of the line.

There now commenced a struggle between the antagonistic principles of
royalty and aristocracy; a conflict which was going to last nearly five
centuries, covering that dreary twilight known as the Dark Ages--a time
when, had it not been for the Christian Church and for the torch of the
Saracen in Spain, the light of civilization would really have been
extinguished, and the slender thread of connection with a great past
have been broken.

In the helpless misery existing in France at this time, the Church saw
its opportunity.  To that silent, humble, forgotten multitude without
life or hope in the world, she offered refuge, peace, consolation, and
thus forever bound to her the poor of Christendom; by this means
establishing in the end an ecclesiastical dominion to which kings and
peerage would be compelled to bow.

If one would know how kings submitted to the authority of the Church at
this time, let him read the story of the good King Robert, second in
the Capetian line, who for marrying the gentle Bertha, his cousin
fourth removed, suffered the punishment of excommunication; was treated
as a moral leper in his own palace; cut off from contact with human
kind and from sound of human voice; the dishes from which he ate, the
clothes he wore, destroyed, until repentant and heart-broken they
consented to part and to break the bond of their union forever.

It was the despair in the heart of the nation which gave intensity to
the religious instinct at this time.  And when pestilence came, and
neither rich nor poor could escape, conscience-stricken barons also
trembled.  A belief began to prevail that the end of the world was at
hand.  Did not the Book of Revelation say that one thousand years from
the birth of Christ the great dragon was to be let loose and the earth
was to be destroyed?

As the hour of doom approached, labor ceased, the fields were
untouched, and when to pestilence and despair was added famine, then
men's hearts failed them even under coats of mail.  The Church came to
the rescue with the "Truce of God," which, in the hope of appeasing an
avenging God, forbade private wars during certain periods in the
ecclesiastical year.  Repentant barons, with a similar hope, made peace
with their neighbors, and their swords rusted as they built monasteries
and chapels; or some not yet obtaining peace, and perhaps restless with
their occupation gone, made pilgrimages to Rome, to pray at the graves
of Peter and Paul, and still others even to Jerusalem, that the breath
from Calvary might whiten their sin-steeped souls.

It is interesting to note that among these penitent pilgrims, sixty
years before the first Crusade, was that Duke of Normandy known as
"Robert the Devil," whose pagan ancestor only a century before had been
the terror of European civilization, and whose son, thirty years later,
was to wear the crown of England.

In this way were the currents setting steadily toward the Holy
Sepulchre as the panacea for human woes which were sent by an avenging
God.  These were the first stirrings of the breath of the coming storm
which in eight successive waves was soon to sweep over Europe.  The way
was preparing for the great event of the Middle Ages.

Whatever its motives, the abstaining from slaughter, and the building
of cathedrals and monasteries and abbeys, was weaving a mantle of
beauty for France, which she still proudly wears.  And the greatest of
the builders was the Duke of Normandy; and it is to his dukedom the art
student turns for the most perfect blending of grace and grandeur,
characteristic of the early style.  The marvel to which this is
intended to draw attention is the preeminent position swiftly attained
in France by this brilliant race, in every department of living.  It
would seem that France did not adopt this terrible child from the
north, but that he adopted France, and changed and gave color to her
whole future.  It was a tempestuous element, but it was new life, and
it is impossible to conceive of what that country would have been
without this stimulating, brilliant infusion into its national life.

With such marvellous facility did this people adopt the speech and
manners of their neighbors, that in the year 1066 they were prepared to
instruct the Britons in the ways of a more polished civilization.  Only
a century before the birth of William the Conqueror, his ancestors had
lived by looting.  They were highwaymen and robbers by profession.  His
mother, a Norman peasant girl, daughter of a tanner, won the love of
that gay duke known as "Robert the Devil."  William, the child of this
unconsecrated union, upon the death of his father succeeded to the
dukedom.  One of the steps in the rapid climb of this family of Rollo
had been a marriage connecting them with the royal family of England.
King Edward, William's remote cousin, died without an heir.  Here was
an opportunity.  With sixty thousand Norman adventurers like himself,
William started with the desperate purpose of invading England and
wresting the crown from his cousin Harold.

It was not the first time the Northman had invaded England.  But never
before had he come bringing a higher civilization, and under the banner
of the Church!  In a few weeks Harold, last king of the Saxons, was
dead, and William, Duke of Normandy, was William I., King of England.

Philip, King of France, saw with dismay his richest province ruled by a
king of England, and his own vassal wearing a crown with power superior
to his own!  A door had thus opened through which would enter
entangling complications and countless woes in the future.

While William was trampling England into the dust, and with pitiless
hand rivetting a feudal chain upon the Saxons, another and greater
centre of power was developing at Rome, where the monk Hildebrand, who
had now become Pope Gregory VII., claimed a universal sovereignty from
which there was no appeal.  Christ was King of Kings.  So, as His
vicegerent upon earth, the authority of the pope was absolute in

The moment of this supreme elevation in the Church was reached at
Canossa, 1072, when Henry, the excommunicated Emperor of Germany, came
barefooted, in winter, and prostrated himself before Gregory VII.  If
Charlemagne had worn the Church as a precious jewel in his crown in the
ninth century, now in the eleventh the Church wore all the European
states as a tiara of jewels in her mitre.  With supreme wisdom, and
with a sure instinct for power, her supremacy had been rooted first in
the hearts of the people, then the mailed hand laid upon their rulers.


The corner-stone of the social structure in France was the dogma that
work was degrading; and not only manual labor, but anything done with
the object of producing wealth was a degradation.  The only honorable
occupation for a gentleman was either to pray or to fight.

Society in France was, therefore, divided into three classes: the
_Clergy_, called the "First Estate"; the _Nobility_, composing the
"Second Estate," and the working and trading classes, the "Third
Estate," or _Tiers État_.

Out of reverence for their spiritual office, precedence in rank was
given to the clergy.  But the actual ruling class was the nobility.
The business of the clergy was to minister to souls.  The business of
the nobility was warfare.  That of the third estate, the toiling class,
being to _support the other two_.  And whatever existed in the form of
property or wealth in feudal times was produced by the _Tiers État_.

The lowest stratum of the third estate was composed of "serfs."  A serf
belonged absolutely, with all that he possessed, to his lord.  He was
attached to his land, as are the trees which are rooted in it.  There
was, however, a class of serfs above this whom we should now call
slaves, but who were by French law then designated as _Freemen_.

A freeman might go and come under certain restrictions.  But this did
not by any means imply that he was freed from the proprietor to whom he
belonged, to whom he was inevitably bound for military service, or for
such contributions or claims as might be levied upon him.

As was to be expected, it was in the cities that this half-emancipated
class congregated; these cities as naturally becoming the centres of
the various industries required to supply the necessities and luxuries
of the two ruling classes.  In this way there were being created
various centres of wealth, which meant power, and which would have to
be reckoned with in the future.

The thin edge of the wedge was inserted when individual freemen offered
money to their hard-pressed feudal lords in exchange for certain
privileges, and then for charters.  And as more money was needed by
proprietors for their lavish expenditures, more freedom and more
charters were acquired, until, having purchased immunities and
privileges enough to make them to some extent self-governing, the town
became what was called a _commune_.

It was Louis VI., fifth king in the Capetian line, who completed this
work of emancipation by recognizing the communes as free cities, and
bestowing franchises clearly defining their rights.  By this act the
body of the manufacturing class, or _burgesses_, was recognized as a
part of the body politic, and was _enfranchised_.

A free city was a small republic.  The entire body of inhabitants must
take the communal oath, and when summoned by the tolling of the bell
must all appear at the meeting of the General Assembly for the purpose
of choosing their magistrates.  This done, the assembly dissolved, and
the magistrates were left with a free hand to rule or ruin, until
checked by popular outbreak or a new election.

As is always the case, time developed two classes: an inferior
population, with a furious spirit of democracy, and a superior class,
more conservative, and desirous of keeping peace with the great

In this simple, humble fashion were the people groping toward freedom,
and experimenting with the alphabet of self-government.

The acknowledgment of the free cities by Louis VI., was the first move
toward an alliance between the king and the people; an alliance which
would eventually wrest the power from the hands of the nobles.  But
that end was still far off.  Another accession to the kingly power came
in the succeeding reign when Louis VII. married Eleanor, daughter of
the Duke of Aquitaine; and her great inheritance, the largest of the
feudal states, was thereby annexed to the crown: a marriage which made
some troublesome chapters in the history of two kingdoms, of which we
shall hear later.  But, in the duel between king and peerage, the
balance of power was moving toward the throne.

At the time these things were happening that great event, the Crusades,
had already commenced.

It was in 1095 that Peter the Hermit, returning from a pilgrimage, by
command of the Pope went throughout Europe proclaiming the desecration
of the holy places.  At a council held at Clermont in France, 1095, the
first Crusade was proclaimed by Urban II.  Led by Peter the Hermit, a
vast undisciplined host, without preparation, rushed indiscriminately
toward Asia Minor, perishing by famine, disease, and the sword before
they reached their goal.  Undismayed by this, another Crusade was
immediately organized under the direction of the greatest nobles in
France; and in three years (1099) the Holy City had been captured, the
Cross floated over the Holy Sepulchre, and Godfrey of Boulogne, leader
of the expedition, was proclaimed King of Jerusalem.

France had inaugurated the most extraordinary movement in the history
of civilization.  Appealing as it did to the knightly and to the
romantic ideal, what an opportunity was here for idle adventurous
nobles, their occupation gone through changed conditions!  If the
Church, by "the Truce of God," had bid them sheathe their swords, now
she bade them to be drawn in the defence of all that was sacred.  The
entire body of nobility would have rushed if it could to the Holy Land.
Poor barons sold or mortgaged their lands and their castles, and the
Third Estate grew rich, and the free cities still freer, upon the
necessities of the hour.  But all classes, from king to serf, were for
the first time moved by a common sentiment; and not alone France, but
the choicest and best of Europe was poured in one great volume of
passionate zeal into those successive waves which eight times inundated
Palestine.  Private interests sacrificed or forgotten, life, treasure,
all eagerly given, for what?  That a small bit of territory a thousand
miles distant be torn from profaning infidels, because it was the
birthplace of a religion these champions failed to comprehend; a
religion worn upon their battle-flags but not in their hearts.

The second Crusade, 1147, was led by Conrad, Emperor of Germany, and
Louis VII. of France.  The profligate conduct of Queen Eleanor, who
accompanied her royal consort, led to serious political conditions.
Louis appealed to the pope, who consented to the divorce he desired.
This proved simply an exchange of thrones for the fascinating Eleanor.
Henry II. of England, already the possessor of immense estates in
France, inherited from his father, realized that with Aquitaine, Queen
Eleanor's dowry, added to his own, and these again to Normandy, a
marriage with the divorced wife of his rival would make him possessor
of more than three times the size of the domain controlled by the
French king.

The marriage was solemnized in 1152, and France saw her war with the
feudal barons overshadowed by the fight for her very life with England,
who had fastened this tremendous grasp upon her kingdom.

The first truly great Capetian king came with this emergency.  Philip
Augustus, son of Louis VII., in the year 1180, when only fifteen years
of age, seized the reins with the hand of a born ruler.  Before he was
twenty-one he had broken up a combination of feudal barons against him.
Then he turned to England.  Queen Eleanor and her sons were conspiring
against Henry II.  So he made friends with them.  The palace on the
island in the Seine was an asylum where John and Richard might plot
against their father.  And when a third Crusade was planned, 1189, it
had as leaders Philip Augustus of France, Richard I., who had just
succeeded his father, Henry II., as King of England, and Barbarossa
(Frederick I.), the great Emperor of Germany.  Before the Holy Land was
reached the wise and crafty Philip Augustus and the fiery Richard had

Philip had been carefully observing these two brothers who were
successively to wear the crown of England.  He knew the foibles of the
romantic and picturesque Richard; and he also knew that John, corrupt
to the core, was a traitor to whom no trust would be sacred.  In his
own cold-blooded fashion he intended to use them both.

John had conspired against his own father, now Philip would help him to
supplant his brother, while Richard was safely occupied in Palestine.
And when he had made John king, he, Philip Augustus, was to be rewarded
by the gift of Normandy!  With this in view, Philip returned to France.
It was an ingenious plot, but all was spoiled by Richard's safe return
from the thrilling adventures of the Crusade.  In 1199, however, the
crown passed naturally to John by the death of his brother, and this
vicious son of Eleanor was King of England.

There were other means of recovering his lost possessions.  Philip
espoused the cause of the young Arthur, John's nephew, a rival claimant
to the English throne.  And when that ill-fated Prince was murdered, as
is believed by the orders of his uncle, for this and other offences
King John, as Duke of Normandy--thence vassal to the King of
France--was summoned to be tried by his peers.

When after oft-repeated summons John refused to appear at Philip's
court, by feudal law the King of France had legal authority to take
possession of the dukedom.

In vain did King John strive to defend by arms his vanishing
possessions.  In the war which ensued, all north of the Loire was
seized by Philip, and at one stroke he had mastered his enemies at home
and abroad.

Not only were Normandy, Anjou, Touraine, and Poitou restored to France,
but they were hereafter to be held, not by dukes and counts, as before,
but by the king, as a part of the royal domain.  And kingship, towering
high above all the great barons of France, had for the first time
become a reality.

It was Philip's policy of expansion which gave color to his reign; not
an expansion which would bring extension into foreign lands, but
solidity and firmness of outline to France itself.  We have seen how
and why this policy was vigorously carried out in the north.  The
growth toward the south is a less pleasant story.

The province of Toulouse, nominally subject to France, was actually
ruled by Raymond VI., "by grace of God" Count of Toulouse.  Perhaps if
this province had not possessed and controlled several ports on the
Mediterranean, while France had none at all, it might not have been
discovered that this home of the "gay science," and of minstrelsy, and
of all that was gentle and refining, was in fact the nursery of a
dangerous heresy, and that the poetic, music-loving children of
Provence reviled the cross and worshipped the devil!

We can easily imagine that in this highly developed community there had
arisen a spirit of inquiry into prevailing conditions and beliefs in
the Church.  And we can also imagine that a crafty sovereign saw in
this an opportunity to serve his own ends.  And so, Pope Innocent III.
ordered a Crusade, and John de Montfort not only opened up the
Mediterranean ports for Philip, but brought Toulouse, the greatest of
the remaining feudal states, into subjection to the King of France; at
the same time forever silencing the voice of the heretic, of the
minstrel, and of the harp; even the speech, with its delicate
inflections and musical intonations, disappeared, to be heard
nevermore.  Such, in brief, is the story of the "Albigensian War," so
called on account of the heresy having been brought into Provence by
the Albigenses from Switzerland.

After a century and a half Normandy was restored.  Its reabsorption
into France marked the parting of the ways in two kingdoms.  _Kingship_
was reinforced in one, and _citizenship_ developed in the other.  In
England the nobles and the people drew closer together, resolved to
defend themselves from a vicious king, and this determined effort to
curtail the royal prerogative produced the _Magna Charta_, which
forever secured the liberties of Englishmen (1215).  In France, on the
contrary, the power was moved in one volume toward the king and
despotism.  Both nations were in the hands of fate--a fate, too, which
was using unscrupulous men to accomplish its great purposes for each.

But however we may disparage Philip's heart and aims, no one can deny
the breadth and superiority of his mind and his statesmanship.  He was
a Charlemagne made on a smaller scale, and without a conscience.  Not
one of the successors of Clovis or of Pepin had so intelligently
grasped the sources of permanent growth in a nation.  He may have been
false of tongue and unprincipled in deed, but he took the free cities
under his personal protection, opened up trade with foreign lands,
beautified Paris and France.  He may, under the cloak of religion, have
permitted unjustifiable cruelties against the most innocent, the most
gifted province in Europe, in order to secure access to the sea for
France.  But he left the _communes_ richer and happier, his kingdom
freer from local tyrannies, transformed from a pandemonium of
struggling knights and barons into the nearest approach yet realized to
a modern state.


If the Crusades had strengthened the power of the Church, they had at
the same time brought about an expansion of thought which was
undermining it.  Men were beginning to think, to inquire, and then to
doubt.  How could sensuality and vice at Rome be reconciled with a
divine infallibility?  If the ballad-poetry of Provence satirized the
lives and manners of the priests, was it not dealing with what was true?

During the reign of Philip's father, a pale studious youth was pacing
the cloisters on the banks of the Seine, by the side of Notre Dame.  He
was thinking upon these things.  And "as he mused the fire burned."
This was Abelard.  The intellectual awakening brought about by the
lectures of this most learned and accomplished man of his time produced
an epoch.  He spoke to his disciples in the open air, as no building
could hold the thousands who hung upon his lips.  This movement became
localized; a faubourg of students was created with their multiform
activities.  It became a quarter by itself--a noisy, turbulent,
agitated quarter--where the only luxury enjoyed was an expanding
thought, and where Latin was the spoken language.  And so it happened
that the _Quartier Latin_ came into existence.

But while the place remains, the man quickly passed off the scene.  He
was silenced, his teachings condemned by a Church council at Soissons,
and he immured for life in the Monastery of Cluny, to be treasured in
the heart of humanity as a martyr to truth, and as the lover of Eloise,
in that sad romance of the twelfth century.

After a brief reign of three years Louis VIII., son and successor of
Philip, was dead, and Louis IX., under the regency of his mother,
"Blanche of Castile," was proclaimed king.  The same family, which
later gave Isabella to Spain, also bestowed upon France this wise,
intrepid woman at a critical time.

With a boy of eleven and a woman of thirty-eight years upon the throne,
the time seemed propitious for the barons to recover the power Philip
had wrung from them, and to reduce kingship to its former humble

With this purpose a powerful coalition was formed, embracing the barons
north and south, chief among whom was Raymond of Toulouse.  By force of
arms, and by diplomacy, Blanche of Castile met this crisis with
astonishing courage and address.  The free cities sprang to her
assistance; and not only was the coalition broken, but there was formed
a bond between the crown and the people, leaving the throne stronger
than before.

Blanche showed great political wisdom in arranging for the marriage of
her son with the daughter of the Count of Provence; thus capturing and
securing the loyalty of this most powerful and disaffected state, which
was making common cause with Toulouse against the king.  And it is with
mingled pity and rejoicing that we hear of Raymond VII. of Toulouse,
once champion of the Albigenses--warrior, poet, troubadour, and
heretic--scourge in hand and barefooted, at the porch of Notre Dame,
doing penance for his sins against the Church.

With Louis IX. on the throne a new day had dawned for France.  Louis
was not a great soldier.  His reign was not one of territorial
expansion but of wise administration, giving permanence and solidity to
what already existed.  We are apt to think of Philip's heavenly minded
grandson chiefly as a saint.  But his service to the state was enduring
and of the first magnitude, because it dealt with the sources of
things.  When he established a King's Court, which was a court of
appeal from the rude justice, or injustice, of feudal counts, he
undermined the foundation of feudal power.  In bestowing the _right of
appeal_, his protecting hand reached down to the poorest man in the
realm.  And when bewildered barons heard the uncomprehended language of
the law-courts, and heard men not of their own order declaring private
wars punishable by death, they felt their power slipping from under
them, and that they were coming into a new sort of a world.

One of the greatest acts of this reign was the abolishing of the double
allegiance, which had wrought such trouble since the Duke of Normandy's
conquest of England.  Feudal proprietors were forbidden to hold
territory under a foreign king; and henceforth no conquered province
could acknowledge allegiance to an English king; nor would an English
king again be vassal to a king of France.

But in so fortifying his throne, this best of kings, and of men, would
have been surprised had he been told that he was preparing the way for
the greatest tragedy in history; that he was creating an absolute
despotism which five hundred years later would require a revolution of
unprecedented horror for its removal.  Such was the fact.  Every wise
act in this reign was prompted by the spirit of fairness and justice.
And if at the same time these acts were drawing all the forces in the
state to a central point, under the control of a single hand, it was
the best development for France under existing conditions.

Saint though he was, and almost fanatic in his devotion to the Church,
Louis resisted the pope or the bishop, if unjust, with as much energy
as one of his own barons; and, in the same spirit of fairness, would
punish his own too zealous defenders who had infringed upon the feudal
rights of the peerage.

This was Louis the king.  But it is Louis the saint who holds the eye
on the world's canvas.  The real life was to him the life of the soul.
Francis Assisi himself did not live in an atmosphere of greater
spiritual exaltation than this devout and heavenly grandson of Philip
Augustus!  No monk in the Dark Ages attached such sanctity to relics!
When a portion of the crown of thorns was sent to him from Jerusalem,
he built that exquisite _Sainte Chapelle_ for its reception; and
barefooted, bare-headed, carried it himself in solemn procession from
Vincennes to Paris, placing it with reverent hands in that shrine we
may visit to-day.

Christian knighthood had reached its one perfect flower in Louis; and
the Crusades fittingly closed with the life of the most saintly
crusader.  His first Crusade was disastrous, occupying years of his
life; his mother, Blanche of Castile, dying during his absence.  His
second and last was more costly still.  Near the ruins of Carthage,
where he was in conflict with a Mohometan band, he was stricken with
fever and died (1270).

Louis's brother, Charles of Anjou, is said to have led him into this
fatal attempt, for his own purposes.  Charles, of very different
memory, was at this time, by invitation of the pope, occupying the
double throne of Naples and Sicily.  And he it was who provoked by his
cruelties that frightful outbreak known as the "Sicilian Vespers," in

The Crusades had lasted from 1095 to 1270.  The purpose for which they
were undertaken had signally failed.  Jerusalem, captured in the first
Crusade, was lost in the second, and never recovered.  And so
ineffectual had been the expenditure of life, fortune, and enthusiasm
that the last Crusade was not even fought in Palestine, but on the
shores of North Africa.

But something had been accomplished which none had foreseen: a result
of greater magnitude than territorial possession of the Holy Land.
Through the broadening of men's views, and the common heritage of a
great experience, a group of isolated kingdoms had been drawn into
fraternal relations, and a European civilization had commenced.

There had been many surprises.  Close contact had softened prejudices.
The infidel had found that the crusader was something more than the
most brutal and stupid of barbarians, as he had supposed; and the
crusader, that the profaning infidel was not the monster he expected to
find.  In fact, the European discovered that in the Saracen and the
Greek they met a civilization much more advanced, more learned, and
more polished than their own.  More civilization was brought out of the
East than was carried into it by its Christian invaders.  And it was
through this strange and disastrous experience that the art and the
thought of Europe received its first impulse toward a great future.

During the fifteen years of the reign of Louis's son, Philip III.,
France moved on under the momentum received from his father.  But the
succeeding reign of Philip IV. was epoch-making.  That imperious,
strong-willed son of Saint Louis demanded that the clergy should share
the state's burden by contributing to its revenue.  Pope Boniface
VIII., imperious and strong-willed as he, immediately issued a bull,
forbidding the clergy to pay, or the officers to receive, such taxes.
The answer to this was a royal edict forbidding the exportation of
precious metals (of course including money) from France to Italy, thus
cutting off from the pope the large revenue from the Church in France.

The quarrel resolved itself at last into a question of the relative
authority of king and pope in the kingdom.  In order to fortify his
position, and perhaps to show his contempt for clergy and barons alike,
Philip took a step which profoundly affected the future of France.  At
a great council summoned to consider these papal claims, he commanded
the presence not only of the ecclesiastics and nobles, the two
governing estates, but also summoned the representatives of the towns
and cities--the _Tiers État_!  Prelate, baron, and bourgeois for the
first time met in a Council of State.

A king who was the impersonation of absolutism had created the
_States-General_ (1302); had forged the instrument which would
eventually effect for France a deliverance from monarchy itself!

The cause of the king was sustained by the council; the claims of the
pope were rejected.  Still not satisfied, Philip then audaciously
proposed a general ecclesiastical council to determine whether Boniface
legitimately wore the triple crown.  When the old man died, as is said
from the shock of this attempt, the king was master of the situation.
Gifts had already been distributed among corrupt cardinals in the
conclave.  The papacy was at his feet, and might be in his hand.  The
most dissolute of his own archbishops was selected as his tool, and, as
Clement V., succeeded to the chair of St. Peter.  The centre of the
ecclesiastical world was then removed from Rome to Avignon, where it
could be under Philip's immediate direction, and the astonishing period
in the history of the papacy, known as the _Babylonian Captivity_,
which was to last for seventy years, under seven popes, had commenced.

The Knights Templar, those appointed guardians of the Holy Sepulchre
and defenders of Jerusalem, it is to be supposed were not in sympathy
with these things.  Whatever the cause, their extermination was
decreed.  Accused of impossible crimes, the whole brotherhood was
arrested in one day, and, at a summary trial, condemned, Philip
himself, in that old palace on the island in the Seine, giving orders
for the fagots to be laid, and the immediate execution of the grand
master and many others.

Philip's death, occurring as it did soon after this sacrilege, was
popularly believed to be a manifestation of God's wrath; and the death
of his three sons, Louis, Philip, and Charles, who successively reigned
during a period of only fourteen years, leaving the family extinct,
seemed a further proof that a curse rested upon the house.

The question of the succession, for the first time since Hugh Capet,
was in doubt.  By the existing Salic Law only male descendants were
eligible to the throne of France.  The three sons of Philip IV. had
died, leaving each a daughter, so the son of Charles of Valois, only
brother of Philip IV., was the nearest in descent from Hugh Capet; and
thus the crown passed to the _Valois_ branch of the family in the
person of Philip VI. (1328).


In this break in the line of succession, England saw an opportunity.
The mother of Edward III., King of England, was Isabella, daughter of
Philip IV.  Edward claimed that he, as grandson of the French king, had
a claim superior to that of the nephew.  A strict interpretation of the
Salic Law certainly vitiated his claim of heirship through the female
line.  But Edward did not stand upon such a trifle as that.  The stake
was great, and so was the opportunity.  Now England might not alone
recover her lost possessions in France, but might establish a
legitimate claim to the whole.

So it was that an English army was once more upon French soil, and in
1346 Edward, with his toy cannon, had won the battle of Crécy, followed
by the siege and capture of Calais, which for two hundred years was to
remain an English port--a thorn in the side of France.

A part of the old kingdom of Burgundy, which was called Dauphiny,
dropped into the lap of Philip, this first Valois king, during his
reign.  The old duke, being without an heir, offered to sell this bit
of territory to the King of France upon the condition that it should be
kept as the personal possession of the eldest sons of the kings of
France.  Thenceforth the title of _Dauphin_ was worn by the heir to the
throne, until it became extinct with the son of Louis XVI.  And when
the feeble Philip VI. died in 1350, his son John, the first dauphin,
assumed the crown of France.

John, this second Valois king, was an anachronism.  A man intended for
the eleventh century had been set down in the fourteenth.  The
restoration of knightly ceremonial, tournaments at the Louvre, the
details of a new Crusade which he was planning, and the distribution of
new titles, these were the things occupying the mind of the king, while
his kingdom, rent by factions within, was in a death-struggle with foes
from without.

A fantastic Don Quixote, on a tottering throne, was fighting the most
practical statesman and the strongest-armed warrior Europe held at the

With this weakness at the centre, France was again falling into
fragments.  There was even a resumption of private wars between nobles;
and, most paralyzing of all, an empty treasury.  Such time as he could
spare from his main projects John gave to the affairs of the kingdom.
First of all, taxes must be levied; and when the first tax was upon
salt, King Edward condescended to make an historic witticism, saying
"he had at last discovered who was the author of the _Salic Law_!"

In the various plans for raising money, it was important that the taxes
should be levied so that the burden would fall upon those who could,
and who would, pay.  This meant the dwellers in the towns and cities;
the bourgeoisie.  They were the capitalists.  But what if they should
refuse?  In order to secure the success of the measure, it was
considered wise to obtain their consent in advance.

When King John asked permission of the States-General to tax them, a
critical line was passed.  That body for the first time realized its
power.  It might make its own terms.  It demanded that the moneys
collected, and their expenditure, should be under the direction of its
officers.  Then, growing bolder, it demanded reforms: Private wars must
cease; the meetings of the States-General must be at appointed
intervals, without being summoned by the king.

These meetings at Paris grew stormy.  Gradually re-enforced with a
vicious element, they were soon led by demagogues, became violent and
revolutionary, and finally red caps and barricades, characteristic of
Parisian mobs of a later period, brought the whole movement into the
hands of the agents of "Charles the Bad," evil genius of his time, who
saw his opportunity to use it in his own ambitious designs upon the
throne.  But France was to hear from the _Tiers État_ again!

In 1356, Edward's son, the Black Prince, won a still greater victory
than Crécy, at _Poitiers_, in which king John was captured and carried
to London.

But Edward found that, while victories were comparatively easy,
conquest was difficult.  A generation had passed since the war began.
So in 1360 both kingdoms were ready to consider terms of peace.  By the
treaty of Bretigny, Edward renounced the claim to the French throne,
and received in full sovereignty the great inheritance Queen Eleanor
had brought to Henry II.  King John was to be released and his son held
as hostage until the enormous ransom was paid.  Of course the money
could not be paid by impoverished France, for such a doubtful benefit,
at least; and so the son and hostage made his escape.  Then King John,
faithful to his chivalrous creed, returned to London and captivity,
dying in 1364.

The dauphin, who had now become Charles V., came to the throne with the
determination of restoring France to herself.  His attention had been
drawn to the military talents of a Breton youth--Bertrand du Guesclin.
Poor, diminutive in stature, deformed, he had raised himself to
military positions usually reserved as a reward for sons of nobles.  In
the reopening of a war with England, which Charles was planning, du
Guesclin was to be the sword and he the brain.

The Black Prince had gone to Spain to fight the battles of Peter the
Cruel, in a civil war in which the Prince was involved by inheritance,
and was levying taxes for this Castilian war upon his new subjects in
Aquitaine.  The people in this province turned to Charles to deliver
them from this oppression.  He immediately summoned Prince Edward
before the Court of Peers; to which the Black Prince replied that he
would accept the invitation, but would come with his helmet on his head
and sixty thousand men in his party.

So successfully did Charles and du Guesclin meet this renewal of the
war that Prince Edward and his sixty thousand men were gradually driven
north until the English possessions were reduced to a few towns upon
the coast.  The Black Prince, under the weight of responsibility and
defeat, succumbed to disease, and died, 1377.  The death of Edward III.
occurred soon after that of his son, and Richard II. was King of

The expulsion of the English was not the only benefit bestowed by
Charles V.  The revolting States-General were restrained and were
firmly held in the king's hand.  Still more important was the
reorganization of the military system, by placing it under the command
of officers appointed by the Crown, who might or might not belong to
the order of nobility.  No more effective blow could have been aimed at
feudalism, which was nothing if not militant.  Indeed, every act of
this brief reign was a protest against the purposes and ideals of his
father, King John, who was the embodiment of the ancient spirit.  It
was a needed breathing-spell between a half-century of disaster behind
and another half-century of still greater disaster before.

The death of Charles V. (1380) left the throne to a delicate boy of
twelve years, who was to reign under the successive regencies of three
uncles.  These brothers of Charles, and sons of the romantic King John,
seem to represent all the traits and passions which can degrade
humanity.  The oldest, the Duke of Anjou, was driven from the regency
after stealing everything which was movable in the king's palace and
vaults.  The Duke of Burgundy, who succeeded him, had nobler objects,
and needed a larger field for his ambitious soul.  He had an eye on the
throne itself.  And when he and the Duke Berri, at the instigation of
the archbishop, were compelled to resign the reins to the young King
Charles VI., they carried with them to their own castles all that Anjou
had left.  Of course the archbishop was mysteriously murdered, and then
the boy king was married to Isabella of Bavaria, said to be the most
beautiful and the wickedest woman in Europe.

Charles had always been a frail, delicate boy.  As he was riding one
evening, a strange, wild-looking being sprang out of the darkness and
seized the bridle of his horse, crying, "Fly, fly! you are betrayed."
The astonished youth after the shock, became melancholy; then was
suddenly seized with a fit of frenzy, in which he killed four of his
pages.  A mad king was on the throne of France, the worst woman in
Europe regent, and three uncles waiting like vultures around a dying
man, ready to seize anything from a golden candlestick to a throne!

In the chaos of misrule and villainy into which France was falling, the
determining factor was the deadly feud which existed between the house
of Burgundy and that of Orleans.  Upon the death of the first Duke of
Burgundy, his son John seized the regency for himself, snatching it
from the Duke of Orleans, the king's brother.  At this point started
the feud which was to tear France asunder from end to end.  While the
Orleanists were gathering their adherents to drive him out, John was
intrenching himself in Paris.  Like many another villain, this Duke of
Burgundy posed as the friend of the people.  He could doff his cap and
speak smilingly to starving men.  He knew how to work upon their
passions, and to please by torturing and executing those they believed
had wronged them.  He told them how he pitied them for the extortions
of the Duke of Orleans and Queen Isabella, kindly giving them pikes to
defend themselves, and iron chains to barricade their streets, if they
should be needed.  Then, extending his hand to his enemy of Orleans,
brother of the king, they were reconciled: the past was to be buried.

Then it is a pleasant picture we behold of the period: the two friends
partaking together of communion, and dining, and then embracing at
parting with effusive words and promises to meet at a dance on the
morrow, the unsuspecting Duke of Orleans going out into the dark, where
hired assassins were waiting to hack him in pieces.  Then a court of
justice trying and acquitting this confessed murderer of the king's
brother, upon the ground that tyrannicide is a duty; the sad, crazed
wraith of a king saying the words he had been taught: "Fair cousin, we
pardon you all."  And the tragedy and comedy were over!

There was now no check upon the Burgundian power.  In the worst days of
English occupation of her land, France had been in less danger from
Edward III. than she now was from the Duke of Burgundy, champion and
defender of the people!  The immediate object of the Burgundian or
people's party, and the Orleans and aristocratic party, was the
possession of the person of the king, and control of his acts during
his few lucid moments.

There was civil war in a land divested of every vestige of government.
England would have been blind had she not seen her opportunity; but,
too much occupied with her own revolution, she had to wait.  And when
Henry IV., the first Lancastrian, was king, he needed both hands to
hold his crown firmly on his head.  But when the young Henry V. came to
the throne, with the energy and ambition of youth, the time was ripe
for the recovery of the lost possessions in France.

The battle of Agincourt (1415) reopened the war with a great defeat for
the French chivalry, which represented the Orleanist party.  The
wholesale slaughter of princes, bishops, and knights on this fatal day
was clear gain for the traitor Burgundy, the champion of the people!
The climax of his villainy was at hand.

Henry V., at Rouen, was openly holding his court as King of France.
John, Duke of Burgundy, accompanied by Queen Isabella, presented
himself to the invading king, and formally pledged his support and that
of his followers to the cause of the English!

The infamous treaty of Troyes was signed, 1420.  It provided that Henry
should act as regent to Charles VI. while he lived; that upon the death
of that unhappy being he should be Henry V. of England and Henry II. of
France; and that the two kingdoms should thereafter exist under one
crown.  The romantic marriage of Henry with the Princess Katharine,
daughter of Charles and Isabella, which was part of the agreement, was
solemnized in that old palace on the island in the Seine.  And the same
vaulted ceilings which we may see to-day, looked down upon this
historic marriage, as they also did upon the condemnation of Marie
Antoinette, three and a half centuries later.  We know of this union of
Henry and the fair Katharine chiefly through the pen of Shakespeare, in
his play of Henry V.

But Henry was destined never to wear the crown of France, nor even to
see his own land again.  There were only two more years of life for
him.  His death occurred in his palace of the Louvre, a few weeks
before that of Charles VI., and the crown he expected to wear upon this
event passed to his infant son, who was by the Burgundian party
recognized as King of France.

A careless, pleasure-loving dauphin, just twenty, apparently
indifferent to the loss of a kingdom, was a frail support at such a
time.  Only a fragment of the country was held by his followers, the
Orleanists; Scotland had come to his aid with a few thousand men, but
what did this avail with the greater part of the kingdom held by the
Burgundians, while town after town was declaring its allegiance to the
English Duke of Bedford, whom his dying brother, Henry V., had named as
regent for his infant son.

The city of Orleans, held by the dauphin's adherents, was besieged.  It
was the key to the situation.  Its fall meant the fall of the kingdom,
the conquest of France.  When this happened, that infant at the Louvre
would really be the wearer of the crown.  So hopeless was the situation
that the spiritless Charles was only in doubt whether to take refuge in
Scotland or in Spain.

But although towns and cities had deserted him, the heart of the people
had not.  Patriotism, dead everywhere else, still lived in the heart of
that forgotten multitude lying silent and humble under the feet of its
masters.  The monarchy had been their friend, their only friend.  The
Church had deserted them, and joined their enemies the nobles.  But to
the people, the name King expressed gratitude and hope; and they loved

If a great spreading tree full of verdure had arisen in a day out of
the barren breast of Mother Earth, it would scarcely have been a
greater miracle that what really happened when a child of the soil, a
girl, rising triumphant over the disabilities of age, sex, birth, and
condition, saved France from destruction.  Summoned by celestial
voices, by angels whom she not only heard but saw, Joan of Arc started
upon her mission of rescue for France!

When this daughter of the people, this peasant from Domremy, was
admitted to the presence of the dauphin, it is said that in amusement
and in order to test the reality of her mission, Charles exchanged
dress with one of his courtiers.  But the maid going straight to him,
said: "Gentle dauphin, I come to restore to you the crown of France.
Orleans shall be saved by me.  And you, by the help of God and my Lady
St. Catharine, shall be crowned at Rheims."

On the 29th of April the maid did enter the fainting city.  And she did
lead the dauphin to Rheims for his coronation.  And then, kneeling at
his feet, asked the "Gentle King" to let her go back to her sheep at
Domremy.  "For," she said, "they love me more than these thousands of
people I have seen."

Unhappily, she did not return to her sheep, but remained among those
wolves, and was captured and a prisoner of the English.

What should they do with this strange being, claiming supernatural
powers?  The Regent Duke of Bedford denounced her as a rebel against
the infant king; and the Bishop of Beauvais as a blasphemer and child
of the devil.  Nothing could be clearer than her guilt upon both of
these charges!  And on the 13th of May, 1431, this mysteriously
inspired child was burnt by a slow fire in the market-place of Rouen.
And the "Gentle King," where was he while this was happening?

It must ever remain a mystery that a peasant girl, a child in years and
in experience, should have believed herself called to such a mission;
that conferring only with her heavenly guides, or "voices," she should
have sought the king, inspired him with faith in her, and in himself
and his cause, reanimated the courage of the army, and led it herself
to victory absolute and complete; and then, have compelled the
half-reluctant, half-doubting Charles to go with her to Rheims, there
to be anointed and consecrated; this simple child in that day bestowing
upon him a kingdom, and upon France a king!

Was there ever a stranger chapter in history!  Alas, if it could have
ended here, and she could have gone back to her mother and her spinning
and her simple pleasures, as she was always longing to do when her work
should be done.  But no! we see her falling into the hands of the
defeated and revengeful English--this child, who had wrested from them
a kingdom already in their grasp.  She was turned over to the French
ecclesiastical court to be tried.  A sorceress and a blasphemer they
pronounce her, and pass her on to the secular authorities, and her
sentence is--death.

We see the poor defenceless girl, bewildered, terrified, wringing her
hands and declaring her innocence as she rides to execution.  God and
man had abandoned her.  No heavenly voice spoke, no miracle intervened
as her young limbs were tied to the stake and the fagots and straw
piled up about her.  The torch was applied, and her pure soul mounted
heavenward in a column of flames.

Rugged men wept.  A Burgundian general said, as he turned gloomily
away, "We have murdered a saint."

[Illustration: Burning of Joan of Arc at Rouen, May 30, 1431.  From the
painting by Lenepveu.]

And Charles, sitting upon the throne she had rescued for him, what was
he doing to save her?  Nothing--to his everlasting shame be it said,
nothing.  He might not have succeeded; the effort at rescue, or to stay
the event, might have been unavailing.  But where was his knighthood,
where his manhood, that he did not try, or utter passionate protest
against her fate?

Twenty-five years later we see him erecting statues to her memory, and
"rehabilitating" her desecrated name.  And to-day, the Church which
condemned her for blasphemy is placing her upon the calendar of saints.


CHARLES VII. in creating a standing army struck feudalism a deadly
blow.  His son, Louis XI., with cold-blooded brutality finished the
work.  This man's powerful and crafty intelligence saw in an alliance
with the common people a means of absorbing to himself supreme power.
Not since Tiberius had there been a more blood-thirsty monster on a
throne.  But he demolished the political structure of mediaevalism in
his kingdom; and when his cruel reign was ended the Middle Ages had
passed away, and modern life had begun in France.

There was no longer even the pretence of knightly virtues in France.
It was time for the high-born robbers and ruffians in steel helmets to
give place to men with hearts and brains.  It is said that of those
thousands, that chivalric host, which was slaughtered at Agincourt, not
one in twenty could write his name.  All alike were cruel and had the
instincts of barbarians.  While the Duke of Burgundy, the richest
prince in Europe, was starving his enemies in secret dungeons in the
Bastille, his Orleans rival, Count of Armagnac, not having access to
the Bastille, was decapitating Burgundians till his executioners
fainted from fatigue.

It is almost with relief that we read of the slaughter of these
knightly savages at Agincourt.  If the shipwreck of a mighty kingdom
was to be averted, two things must be done.  The decaying corpse of
feudalism must be thrown overboard, and the Church must be purified.
Both had fallen from the ideals which created them; the ideal of truth,
justice, and spotless honor, and the ideal of divine love and mercy.
Even the semblance of truth and justice and honor had departed from the
one; and unspeakable corruption had crept into the other.  From the day
of the Albigensian cruelties, the heart of the Church had turned to
stone, and the spark of life divine within seemed extinguished.  Once
the guardian of the helpless, it had deserted the people and made
common cause with their oppressors.  One pope at Rome, and another at
Avignon, was a heavy burden to carry.  But when _three_ infallible
beings were hurling anathemas at each other, the University of Paris
led Christendom in rejecting them all.

So the two great classes for which the State existed were overweighting
the ship at a time when it was being torn and tossed by a storm of
gigantic proportions.

Well was it for France that Charles VII., as king, developed unexpected
firmness and ability.  The creation of a standing army, and the
disbanding of all military organizations existing without the king's
commission, at one sweeping blow completed the wreck of feudalism.  It
only remained for Charles's cold-blooded son, Louis XI., to finish the
work, and mediaevalism was a thing of the past in France.

The reign of Charles was imbittered by the conduct of this unnatural
son, whose undisguised impatience to assume the crown so alarmed him
that it is said he shortened his own life by abstaining from food in
the fear that the dauphin might lay the guilt of parricide upon his

This heart-broken, desolate old man died in 1461.  And Louis XI. was
King of France.

The son of Charles VII. was a composite of the wisest and the worst of
his predecessors.  Indeed, it is to the Roman emperors we must look for
a parallel to this monster on a throne.  And yet, to no other king does
France owe such a debt of gratitude.  His remorseless hand placed a
great gulf between the new and the old, in which were forever buried
the men and the system which had fed upon her life.

The antagonism between the son and the father aroused great hopes of a
reversal of policy and a rehabilitation of feudalism.  These hopes were
soon undeceived.  So inscrutable and so tortuous was the policy of this
strange being, so unexpected his changes of direction, so false and
inconsistent his words and acts, and so unspeakably cruel the means to
his ends, that a cowed and bewildered nation was soon crouching at his
feet, not knowing whither he was leading them.

Warfare played no part in this reign.  Invasion was met by diplomacy,
and slaughter and bloodshed were relegated to the executioner.
Incredible as it seems, it is said that from his windows this king
could look out upon an avenue of gibbets upon which hung the bodies of
his enemies.  The humorous spirit in which he disposed of obstructive
nobles is illustrated by a note to an unsuspecting victim.  "Fair
cousin, come and give us your advice.  We have need of so wise a head
as yours."  And in the morning the fair cousin's wise head was in a
basket filled with sawdust!

When all was done, a town council meant more than the "Order of the
Golden Fleece"; and, _pari passu_, with the humiliation of the noble
came the elevation of the bourgeois.  A nameless adventurer would be
admitted to confidential intimacy when a Montmorenci could not get
beyond his antechamber.

In fact, this levelling up and levelling down was the object of all
this king's odious crimes and the central purpose of his cold-blooded
reign.  If a patent of nobility was a pretty good passport to the
scaffold, good service in a town council was an open door to elevation.

So, judged by results, Louis XI. was a better king than many a better
man had been.  He buried the ideals of the past fathoms deep and then
stamped them down with remorseless feet.  He demolished the political
structure of mediaevalism in his kingdom, and when his terrible reign
was ended, in 1483, the Middle Ages had passed away and modern life had
begun in France.

Almost any reign would have seemed colorless after that of Louis XI.
But that of his son, Charles VIII., was made memorable by one event, an
invasion of Italy, which brought to France a long train of disastrous

It will be remembered that in the thirteenth century, Charles, Duke of
Anjou, of Sicilian fame, or infamy, and brother of Louis the Saint,
occupied the throne of Naples by invitation of the pope.

The family of Anjou having recently become extinct, Charles was now the
rightful heir to that throne.  So as there was nothing in especial for
him to do at home, and as his new army, created and equipped by his
father, was a very splendid affair for that day, and as Charles was
young and ambitious of a name, he determined to take forcible
possession of his inheritance in Italy.

The success of the enterprise was quite dazzling.  Milan, Florence,
Rome, were successively occupied, and finally Charles was actually
seated upon the throne in Naples (1495).

But the seat was not comfortable.  The Neapolitans did not want him;
and, what was more important, Spain, England, and Austria talked of
uniting to drive him out.  And so he and his army returned to France,
and all that had been gained by the enterprise was a wide-open door
between France and Italy at the very time when it might better have
been kept closed, and the discovery by Europe that the Italian
peninsula was an easy prey to any ambitious European power.  What
Charles had done might also, and more effectually, be done by England,
Spain, or Austria.  All of which bore bitter fruit in the next century.

But for France the fruit was of a more deadly kind.  The princely and
noble blood of Italy began to be mingled with hers, bringing a vicious
and corrupt strain at a critical period.

Old as she was in centuries, France was but a child in civilization.
An uncouth, untutored child, just emerging from barbarism, was suddenly
brought under the influence of a fascinating, highly developed
civilization, old in wickedness.  A nation in which the ruling class
had only recently learned to read and write was naturally dazzled by
this sister nation, saturated with the learning and culture of the
ages, mistress of every brilliant art and accomplishment; who after
having run the whole gamut of human experience, drunk at every known
fountain, had arrived at the code summed up by Machiavelli as the best
by which to live!  It was an easy task for the Medici to control the
policy, as they did for generations, of such simple barbarians.

Italy presents a strange spectacle in this closing fifteenth century:
All the concentrated splendor from the fall of Byzantium hanging over
her like a luminous cloud before dispersing as the Renaissance; Lorenzo
de' Medici, at Florence, directing the intellectual currents of Europe;
Angelo and Raphael creating the world's sublimest masterpieces in art;
her great Genoese son uncovering another hemisphere; Savonarola, like
an inspired prophet of old, calling upon men to "repent, repent, while
there is yet time"; Machiavelli instructing the nations of the earth in
villainy as a fine art; and Alexander VI., the basest man in Europe,
poisoner, father of every crime, claiming to be Vicegerent of Christ
upon earth!

But the currents were moving swiftly toward a crisis which was to
change all this.  One more pope, that magnificent patron of art, Julius
II., creator of the Vatican Museum, with the recently found Apollo
Belvedere, and the Laocoön as a splendid nucleus, and projector and
builder of St. Peter's.  And then Leo X. (Medicean Pope) and Luther!

The year 1492 contained three important events: the discovery of a new
world, the expulsion of the Moors from Spain, and the death of Lorenzo
de' Medici.  Spain's crusade of seven hundred years was over.  We must
search in vain for any struggle to match this in singleness and
persistence of purpose.  Commencing one hundred years before
Charlemagne created a Holy Roman Empire, it ended triumphantly under a
king and queen who were to play a leading part in the _Reformation_.

The stage was making ready, and the characters were assembling for the
great modern drama, in a century even more significant than the one
then closing.

The reign of Charles VIII. ended in 1498.  And as he left no son, the
succession once more passed to a collateral branch: Louis XII., of the
House of Orleans, wore the crown of France.  It is interesting to
recall that these two kings, Charles and Louis, were respectively
grandsons of those two ambitious dukes whose personal feud brought
France to the verge of ruin a few decades earlier: Louis XII. being the
descendant of that Duke of Orleans, brother of Charles VI., the
reigning king, who was murdered in the streets of Paris; while Charles
VIII. was the descendant of his slayer, the terrible Duke of Burgundy,
evil genius of France at that time.

The principal event in the reign of the new king was the reopening of
the Italian War by the combined and successful action of Spain and
France.  But this proved a barren triumph for Louis, who, when all was
done, found that he had been simply aiding that artful diplomatist,
Ferdinand, in securing the whole prize for Spain.  The disagreement
growing out of the distribution of the spoil resulted in a war between
the late allies; and it was in this wretched conflict that Bayard,
_chevalier sans peur et sans reproche_, was sacrificed.

Louis died in 1515, also without an heir; and so the crown passed to
still another collateral branch of the main Capetian line.  The Count
of Angoulême, cousin of the dead king, was proclaimed Francis I.

The fall of Constantinople in the East, and the discovery of a new
world in the West, were changing the whole aspect of Europe.  The art
of printing, coming almost simultaneously with these transforming
events, sent vitalizing currents reaching even to the humblest.  France
partook of the general awakening and was throwing off the torpor of
centuries.  New ambitions were aroused, and her slumbering genius began
to be stirred.  This was a propitious moment for an ambitious young
king who aimed not only at being the greatest of military heroes, but
also the splendid patron of art and letters, and wisest of men!  The
role he had set for himself being, in fact, a Charlemagne and a Lorenzo
de' Medici in one.  All that was needed for success in this large field
was ability.  Personal valor Francis certainly possessed.  His reign
opened brilliantly with a campaign in the Italian peninsula, which left
him after the battle of Marignano, master of the Milanese and of
northern Italy.  He need not trouble himself as had his predecessors
about recalcitrant and scheming nobles.  They had never been heard from
since Louis XI. took them in hand.  Neither were the States-General
going to annoy him by assertion of rights and demands for reforms.
They too had become almost non-existent; it having been well
established that only the direst emergency would ever call them into
being again.  So kingship held sole and undisputed sway, and Francis
was looking about to see where he might make it even stronger.

The residence of the popes, at Avignon, during the period of the Great
Schism, had led to the establishment by Charles VII. of an ordinance
called the _Pragmatic Sanction_; its object being the limitation of the
papal power in France.  The pope by this ordinance was cut off from
certain lucrative sources of income; to offset which the king was
deprived of the right of appointing officers for vacant bishoprics and

Francis I. and Leo X. came together, and, after conferring, determined
that the Pragmatic Sanction should be repudiated; Leo, because he must
increase his revenues, and Francis, because he desired to use
appointments to rich vacancies as rewards for his friends.  Leo's
tastes, as we know, were magnificent, and needed much more money than
he could command; a fact which led to grave results, and changed the
course of events in the world!

In 1516 Ferdinand I., King of Spain, died, leaving his enormous
possessions to his grandson, Charles, a youth not yet twenty.  The
mother of this boy was Joanna, the insane daughter of Ferdinand and
Isabella, who was married to the son and heir of Maxmilian I., Emperor
of Germany.

The young Charles, by the death of his father, had already inherited
the Netherlands and Flanders; to which by the death of his maternal
grandfather there was now added Spain, the kingdom of Naples, Mexico,
and Peru.  A heavy enough burden, one would think, for young shoulders.
But it was to become still heavier.  In 1519 his other grandfather,
Maximilian I., died, leaving the throne of the empire vacant.

This office by ancient custom, established by Charlemagne, was
elective, and theoretically was open to any prince in Europe.  But with
the seven princes known as electors, with whom rested choice of the
successor, hereditary claim had great weight.  Europe saw with dismay
the imminent creation of an empire greater than that of Charlemagne--an
empire which would cover a large part of the map of Europe and of
America.  For none was this so alarming as for France, which would in
fact be enveloped upon almost every side by this giant among the
nations.  A French king would indeed have been dull and spiritless not
to realize the magnitude of the danger, and Francis was neither.  There
was only a youth of nineteen standing between him and the greatest
dignity in Europe.  It was not alone an opportunity to save France from
this overshadowing power, but to reunite the crowns of France and the
empire as originally designed by Charlemagne.  No role could have
better pleased Francis I.  He announced himself a claimant for the
vacant throne (under the clause opening it to European princes),
claiming that his ownership of the adjacent territory of Northern Italy
made him the natural successor to the imperial throne.

Then another ambitious young king appeared as another rival claimant,
Henry VIII. of England, with his astute Minister Woolsey to fight the
diplomatic battles for his master.  It was a brilliant game, played by
great players for a great stake: Francis lavishly bribing and dazzling
by theatrical displays of splendor; Henry arrogant, ostentatious, vain,
and Charles silent, inscrutable, cold-blooded, and false, whispering to
Woolsey that he might make him pope at the next election.  From that
moment the powerful influence of the Cardinal was used for this sedate
youth, this wise youth, who saw that the fitting place for him
(Woolsey) was the chair of St. Peter!

The diplomacy of the boy of nineteen won the prize.  The electors gave
the crown to Charles V.  Leo X. died soon after.  Woolsey waited in
hourly expectation of the summons to Rome.  But it never came!

Then Francis resolved to win by force what he had lost by diplomacy.
Charles succeeded in winning the pope to his side of the contest with
the purpose of driving the French out of Italy.  The attempt quickly
ended in the defeat of the French, and for Francis capture, and a
year's imprisonment in Madrid; his release only obtained by abandoning
all claims upon Italy; and in 1547 the showy and ineffectual reign of
Francis I. was terminated by his death, which occurred almost
immediately after that of Henry VIII. in England.

While these events were taking place, a less conspicuous but vastly
more significant conflict had developed.  In 1517, Martin Luther, the
obscure monk, had hurled defiance at the Church of Rome, arraigning Leo
X. for corrupt practices; especially the enrichment of the Church by
the sale of indulgences.  Germany was shaken to its centre by
Protestantism, and the reign of Charles V. was to be spent in
ineffectual conflict with the Reformation, which would ultimately tear
the Empire asunder.

The new heresy had found congenial soil in France.  England was openly
and avowedly Protestant, while Spain and Italy remained unchangeably

For Francis, destined to spend his life in fruitless contest with the
more able, wily, and astute Charles V., the religious question upon
which Europe was divided meant nothing except at he could use it in his
duel with the emperor.  He was in turn the ally of Henry VIII. or the
willing tool of Charles V.  If he needed the English king's friendship,
the Protestants had protection.  If he desired to placate Charles V.,
the roastings and torturings commenced again.

In 1547 Francis and Henry VIII. each went to his reward, and a few
years later Charles V. had laid down his crown and carried his weary,
unsatisfied heart to St. Yuste.  The brilliant pageant was over; but
Protestantism was expanding.


The conversion of Henry VIII., because the pope refused to annul his
marriage with Catharine, aunt of Charles V., was not the proudest, but
one of the most important triumphs of the new faith.  Had Catharine's
charms been fresher, or Anne Boleyn less alluring, the course of
history would have been changed.  Henry VIII., as persecutor of
heretics, would have found congenial occupation for his ferocious
instincts, and the triumph of Protestantism would have been long
delayed.  But no such cause existed for the success of the Reformation
on French soil.  The slumbering germs of heresy, left perhaps by
Abelard, or by the heretics in Toulouse and Provence, were quickly
warmed into life.  It may be also that the memory of her desertion by
the Church, once her only friend and champion, gave such intensity to
the welcome of a "Reformation" by the people.  At all events, whatever
the explanation, a religious war was at hand which was going to stain
the fair name of France more even than the treacheries of her civil war.

The question at issue was deeper than any one knew.  Neither Luther nor
Leo X. understood the revolution they had precipitated.  Protestants
and Papists alike failed to comprehend the true nature of the struggle,
which was not for supremacy of Romanist or Protestant; not whether this
dogma or that was true, and should prevail; but an assertion of the
right of every human soul to choose its own faith and form of worship.
The great battle for human liberty had commenced; the struggle for
religious liberty was but the prelude to what was to follow.  There was
abundant proof later that Protestants no less than Papists needed only
opportunity and power to be as cruel and intolerant as their
persecutors had been.  Before the Reformation was fifty years old,
Servetus, one of the greatest men of his age, a scholar, philosopher,
and man of irreproachable character, was burned at Geneva for heretical
views concerning the nature of the Trinity; Calvin, the great organizer
of Protestant theology, giving, if not the order for this odious crime,
at least the nod of approval for its commission.

France had known many tragedies.  But when Francis, in pursuance of his
Italian policy, secured the hand of Catharine de' Medici for his son
and heir, Henry II., he prepared the way for the most tragic event in
her history.  Powerless to win the affection, or even confidence, of
Henry while he lived, Catharine remained unobserved; but, as the event
proved, not unobservant.  Her astute mind had been studying every
current in the kingdom.

Two families had come into prominence during this reign which were to
play leading parts in the immediate future: the family of Guise, of the
house of Lorraine, represented by Francis, Duke of Guise; and that of
Châtillon, of which Admiral Coligny was the head, both of whom
Catharine hated and had marked for destruction.

Mary, of the house of Guise, was the wife of James VI. of Scotland; and
through the powerful influence of the Guises, the brothers of the
Scottish queen, a marriage was arranged between her daughter--her most
serene little highness, Marie Stuart--and the dauphin, who would some
day be Francis II.

In order to be prepared for this high destiny, the little maid when
only five years old was brought to the Court of France to be trained
under the direct influence of the accomplished queen-mother,
Catharine--undoubtedly, although unsuspected then, the worst woman in
Europe!  Poor little Marie Stuart, predestined to sin and to tragedy!
What could be expected of a woman with the blood of the Guises in her
veins, and with Catharine de' Medici as her model and teacher?

In 1559 Henry II. was killed by an accident at a tournament.  The
marriage of the two children had taken place.  The sickly boy, with
only a modest portion of intelligence, was Francis II., King of France.
Marie, his beautiful and adored queen, controlled him utterly, and was
herself in turn controlled by her uncles of the house of Guise.  In
fact, the family of Guise, which was the head of the Catholic party in
the kingdom, ruled France, with the strange result that if Catharine
looked for any allies in her fight with this ambitious family, she must
make common cause with the Protestants, led by Admiral Coligny, whom
she hated only a little less than the uncles of Marie Stuart.

The princes of the house of Bourbon, a remote branch of the royal
family, which, next to Francis, were the nearest to the throne, had
been extremely jealous of the growing power of the Guises.  Now they
saw them, as the advisers of the young king, actually usurping the
position which was theirs by right of birth.

Two factions grew out of this feud in the court, and there developed a
Bourbon party, and the party of the Guises; one identified with the
Protestant and the other with the Catholic cause.

Antony de Bourbon, the head of the family of this name, whether from
conviction or from antagonism to the Guises, had openly espoused the
Protestant side.  It was the rich burghers of the towns, in combination
with the smaller nobles, which composed the Protestant party in France.
And although the impelling cause of the great movement was religious,
political wrongs had become a powerful contributing cause; as is always
the case, the discontented and aggrieved, for whatever reason, casting
in their lot with those who had a deeper grievance and a more sacred

Whether the conversion of the Bourbon prince was of that nature or not,
who can say?  But the movement swelled, and France was divided into two
hostile camps: one under the Protestant banner of Antony de Bourbon,
father of Henry of Navarre, and the other under that of the Catholic,
Francis, Duke of Guise; and two children were on the throne of France
while the ground was trembling beneath their feet with a coming

Francis I. had been too much occupied with his own plans to take in
hand systematically and seriously the prevailing heresy.  Henry II.,
son of Francis, had also temporized with the religious revolt, probably
not realizing the powerful element it contained.  Now, with the Guises
firmly in power, there would be no more half-way measures.

But a crisis was at hand which would change the whole situation.  The
discovery of a plot to seize the person of the young king and place a
Bourbon prince upon the throne, led to a general slaughter.  Fresh
relays of executioners in Paris stood ready to relieve each other when
exhausted, and the Seine was black with the bodies of the drowned.

During this preliminary storm the frail young king, Francis II.,
suddenly died.  Marie Stuart passed out of French history, and the
power of the Guises was at an end.  The fates were certainly fighting
on the side of Catharine.

There are hints that the fine Italian hand may be seen in this event
which at one stroke removed every obstacle from her path!  However this
may be, Catharine wasted no regrets upon the death of a son which made
her queen regent during the minority of her second son, Charles, now
ten years of age (1560).

There was no time to lose.  Her control over the feeble Charles IX.
before he reached his majority must be absolute.  Every impulse toward
mercy must be extinguished.

What can be said of a mother who seeks to exterminate every germ of
truth or virtue in her son; who immerses him in degrading vices in
order to deaden his too sensitive conscience and make him a willing
tool for her purposes?  Inheriting the splendid intelligence as well as
genius for statecraft of the Medici, nourished from her infancy upon
Machiavellian principles, cold and cruel by nature, this Florentine
woman has written her name in blood across the pages of French history.

There were two main ends to be kept in view: the destruction of the
Guises, and the extermination of the Huguenots, as the Protestants were
now called.  These were difficult to reconcile, but both must be

Coligny, the splendid old admiral and Huguenot, hero of the nation, he,
too, must go.  And Henry of Navarre, the adored young leader of the
Huguenots, of course was high on the list marked for destruction; but
there might be other uses for him before that time.

Never had the Huguenots received such gentle treatment.  Disabilities
were removed and privileges bestowed.  Never was the beautiful
queen-mother as smiling, gracious, and witty.  A letter to her uncle,
Pope Innocent III., written, it is said, between a dinner and a
masquerade, asked if men might not be good enough Christians even if
they did not believe in transubstantiation, and useful subjects even
though they could not accept the Apostolic succession!

Then this excellent woman declared her admiration for the intelligence
of the Huguenots, whom until now she had believed were mere fanatical
enthusiasts.  Then Henry of Navarre, the brave, generous, accomplished
Protestant leader, was urgently invited to the court, and finally even
offered the hand of Margaret of Valois, her daughter, as a compromise
which would heal the rivalry between the two faiths.

And so, on the 18th of August, 1572, Notre Dame, grim but splendid,
looked down upon the marriage of Margaret and Henry, in the presence of
all the leaders of Huguenot and Catholic in France.

The Protestants wept for joy at the reconciliation accomplished by this
union.  And all were to remain and partake of the week of festivities
which were to follow.

Then, the pageant over, a secret council was held in Catharine's
apartment in the Louvre, in which her remaining son, Henry,
participated, but from which his brother the king was excluded; some
wishing to include the Guises in the approaching massacre, some urging
that Henry of Navarre be spared, but all agreeing that Coligny must go;
it being, in fact, the influence of this magnetic man over the young
king which was the danger-point compelling haste and the uncertainty as
to what her son might do endangered the success of the whole plot.

Charles, who was now king, was impressible, easily influenced, yet
stubborn, intractable, incoherent, passionate, and unreliable;
sometimes inclining to the Guises, sometimes to Coligny and the
Huguenots, and always submitting at last, after vain struggle, to his
imperious mother's will, in her efforts to free him from both.  We see
in him a weak character, not naturally bad, torn to distraction by the
cruel forces about him, who when compelled to yield, as he always did
in the end, to that terrible woman, would give way to fits of impotent
rage against the fate which allowed him no peace.

The time had arrived when Catharine feared the influence of Coligny
more than that of the Guises.  Brave, patriotic, magnetic, he had
succeeded in winning Charles's consent to declare war against Spain.
Philip II. of Spain was Catharine's son-in-law and closest ally.  Her
entire policy was threatened.  At all hazards Coligny must be gotten
rid of.  The young King of Navarre, adored leader of the Protestants,
was a constant menace; he, too, must in some way be disposed of.

There were sinister conferences with Philip of Spain and with his
minister, that incarnation of cruelty and of the Inquisition, the Duke
of Alva.

To the honor of France it may be said that the initiative, the
inception of the horrid deed which was preparing was not French.  It
was conceived in the brain of either this Italian woman or her Spanish
adviser and co-conspirator, the Duke of Alva.  We shall never know the
inside history of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew.  It must ever remain
a matter of conjecture just how and when it was planned, but the
probabilities point strongly one way.

Charles was to be gradually prepared for it by his mother.  By working
upon his fears, his suspicions, by stories of plottings against his
life and his kingdom, she was to infuriate him; and then, while his
rage was at its height, the opportunity for action must be at hand.
The marriage of Charles's sister Margaret with the young Protestant
leader Henry of Navarre, with its promise of future protection to the
Huguenots, was part of the plot.  It would lure all the leaders of the
cause to Paris.  Coligny, Condé, all the heads of the party, were
urgently invited to attend the marriage feast which was to inaugurate
an era of peace.

Admiral Coligny was requested by Catharine, simply as a measure of
protection to the Protestants, to have an additional regiment of guards
in Paris, to act in case of any unforeseen violence.

Two days after the marriage, and while the festivities were at their
height, an attempt upon the life of the old admiral awoke suspicion and
alarm.  But Catharine and her son went immediately in person to see the
wounded old man, and to express their grief and horror at the event.
They commanded that a careful list of the names and abode of every
Protestant in Paris be made, in order, as they said, "to take them
under their own immediate protection."

"My dear father," said the king, "the hurt is yours, the grief is mine."

At that moment the knives were already sharpened, every man instructed
in his part in the hideous drama, and the signal for its commencement
determined upon.  Charles did not know it, but his mother did.  She
went to her son's room that night, artfully and eloquently pictured the
danger he was in, confessed to him that she had authorized the attempt
upon Coligny, but that it was done because of the admiral's plottings
against him, which she had discovered.  But the Guises--her enemies and
his--they knew it, and would denounce her and the king!  The only thing
now is to finish the work.  He must die.

Charles was in frightful agitation and stubbornly refused.  Finally,
with an air of offended dignity, she bowed coldly and said to her son,
"Sir, will you permit me to withdraw with my daughter from your
kingdom?"  The wretched Charles was conquered.  In a sort of insane
fury he exclaimed, "Well, let them kill him, and all the rest of the
Huguenots too.  See that not one remains to reproach me."

This was more than she had hoped.  All was easy now.  So eager was she
to give the order before a change of mood, that she flew herself to
give the signal, fully two hours earlier than was expected.  At
midnight the tocsin rang out upon the night, and the horror began.

Lulled to a feeling of security by artfully contrived circumstances,
husbands, wives, sons, daughters, peacefully sleeping, were awakened to
see each other hideously slaughtered.

The stars have looked down upon some terrible scenes in Paris; her
stones are not unacquainted with the taste of human blood; but never
had there been anything like this.  The carnage of battle is merciful
compared with it.  Shrieking women and children, half-clothed, fleeing
from knives already dripping with human blood; frantic mothers
shielding the bodies of their children, and wives pleading for the
lives of husbands; the living hiding beneath the bodies of the dead.

The cry that ascended to Heaven from Paris that night was the most
awful and despairing in the world's history.  It was centuries of
cruelty crowded into a few hours.

The number slain can never be accurately stated, but it was thousands.
Human blood is intoxicating.  An orgy set in which laughed at orders to
cease.  Seven days it continued, and then died out for lack of
material.  The provinces had caught the contagion, and orders to slay
were received and obeyed in all except two, the Governor of Bayonne, to
his honor be it told, writing to the king in reply: "Your Majesty has
many faithful subjects in Bayonne, but not one executioner."

And where was "his Majesty" while this work was being done?  How was it
with Catharine?  We hear of no regrets, no misgivings; that she was
calm, collected, suave, and unfathomable as ever; but that Charles, in
a strange, half-frenzied state, was amusing himself by firing from the
windows of the palace at the fleeing Huguenots.  Had he killed himself
in remorse, would it not have been better, instead of lingering two
wretched years, a prey to mental tortures and an inscrutable malady,
before he died?

Europe was shocked.  Christendom averted her face in horror.  But at
Madrid and Rome there was satisfaction.

Catharine and the Duke of Alva had done their work skilfully, but the
result surprised and disappointed them.  Tens of thousands of Huguenots
were slain, which was well; but many times that number remained, with
spirit unbroken, which was _not_ well.

They had been too merciful!  Why had Henry of Navarre been spared?  Had
not Alva said, "Take the big fish, and let the small fry go.  One
salmon is worth more than a thousand frogs."

But Charles considered the matter settled when he uttered those
swelling words to Henry of Navarre the day after the massacre: "I mean
in future to have one religion in my kingdom.  It is the Mass or death."

All the events leading up to that fateful night, August 24, 1572, may
never be known.  Near the Church of St. Germain d'Auxerrois, which rang
out the signal and was mute witness of the horror, has just been
erected the statue of the great Coligny, bearing the above date.

The miserable Charles was not quite base enough for the part he had
played.  Tormented with memories, haggard with remorse, he felt that he
was dying.  His suspicious eyes turned upon his mother, well versed in
poisons, as he knew; and, as he also knew, capable of anything.  Was
this wasting away the result of a drug?  Mind and body gave way under
the strain.  In 1574, less than two years from the hideous event,
Charles IX. was dead.

Catharine's third son now wore the crown of France.  In Henry III. she
had as pliant an instrument for her will as in the two brothers
preceding him; and, like them, his reign was spent in alternating
conflict with the Protestants and the Duke of Guise.  At last, wearied
and exasperated, this half-Italian and altogether conscienceless king
quite naturally thought of the stiletto.  The old duke, as he entered
the king's apartment by invitation, was stricken down by assassins
hidden for that purpose.

Henry had not counted on the rebound from that blow.  Catholic France
was excited to such popular fury against him that he threw himself into
the arms of the Protestants, imploring their aid in keeping his crown
and his kingdom; and when himself assassinated, a year later, the
Valois line had become extinct.

By the Salic Law, Henry of Navarre was King of France.  The Bourbon
branch had left the parent stem as long ago as the reign of Louis the
Saint.  But as all the other Capetian branches had disappeared, the
right of the plumed knight to the crown was beyond a question.  So a
Protestant and a Huguenot was King of France.


After long wandering in strange seas, we come in view of familiar
lights and headlands.  With the advent of the house of Bourbon, we have
grasped a thread which leads directly down to our own time.

The accession of a Protestant king was hailed with delirious joy by the
Huguenots, and with corresponding rage by Catholic France.  The one
looked forward to redressing of wrongs and avenging of injuries; and
the other flatly refused submission unless Henry should recant his
heresy and become a convert to the true faith.

The new king saw there was no bed of roses preparing for him.  After
four years of effort to reconcile the irreconcilable, he decided upon
his course.  He was not called to the throne to rule over Protestant
France, nor to be an instrument of vengeance for the Huguenots.

He saw that the highest good of the kingdom required not that he should
impose upon it either form of belief or worship, but give equal
opportunity and privilege to both.

To the consternation of the Huguenots, he announced himself ready to
listen to the arguments in favor of the religion of Rome; and it took
just five hours of deliberation to convince him of its truth.  He
declared himself ready to abjure his old faith.  Bitter reproaches on
the one side and rejoicings on the other greeted this decision.  It was
not heroic.  But many even among the Protestants acknowledged it to be
an act of supreme political wisdom.

Peace was restored, and the Edict of Nantes, which quickly followed,
proved to his old friends, the Huguenots, that they were not forgotten.
The Protestants, with disabilities removed, shared equal privileges
with the Catholics throughout the kingdom, and the first victory for
religious liberty was splendidly won.

An era of unexampled prosperity dawned.  Never had the kingdom been so
wisely and beneficently governed.  Sincerity, simplicity, and sympathy
had taken the place of dissimulation, craft, and cruelty.  Uplifting
agencies were everywhere at work, reaching even to the peasantry, that
forgotten element in the nation.

The formal abjuration of the Protestant faith was made by the King in
the Church of St. Denis in 1593.  This church also witnessed the
marriage of Henry with Marie de' Medici, after his release from her
debased relative, Margaret of Valois, daughter of Catharine de' Medici.
Henry IV., great although he was, was not above the ordinary weaknesses
of humanity, and, captivated by the beauty of Marie, was a willing
party to the Italian marriage which was urged upon him, which marriage
was the one mistake of a great reign.

It was not to be expected that any minister would rise to the full
stature of Henry IV. at this time.  But in the Duke of Sully he had a
wise and efficient instrument for his plan, which was out of the chaos
left by the devastation of thirty years of religious wars, to evolve
peace and prosperity; and to create economic conditions upon a
foundation insuring growth and permanence.

The royal authority, impaired by the successors of Francis, must first
be restored.  And to that end all political elements, including the
States General, must be held firmly down; and that body, representing
the _Tiers État_, was never summoned after France was well in hand by
the king who was _par excellence_ the friend of the people!

It is the Edict of Nantes which stands preeminent among the events of
this reign, and which is Henry's monument in the annals of France.  His
foreign policy was controlled by a desire to check the preponderance of
the Hapsburgs; that being, in fact, the dominant sentiment in Europe at
that time.  But a remarkable proof of the breadth of his treatment of
this subject is the plan he formulated of a European tribunal composed
of the five great powers, which should insist upon the maintenance of a
_balance of power_--a phrase common enough now, but heard then for the
first time; and which had for its immediate purpose the separating of
the crown of Spain and the empire, by forbidding their being held by
members of the same family, and of course designed as a check upon the

This was a pet theory with Henry, and the subject of much discussion
with Sully and of negotiation with Elizabeth, Queen of England, at the
very time when Philip II. of Spain, in pursuance of a precisely
opposite policy, had been moving heaven and earth to bring about a
marriage with that extraordinary sister of his dead wife Mary.  Henry
did not witness the realization of his dream.  But time has justified
its wisdom, and modern statesmanship has been able to devise no wiser
plan than that conceived in the mind of this enlightened king nearly
three centuries ago.

How much France lost by Ravaillac's dagger can only be surmised, and
when Henry, fatally stricken (1610), was carried dying into the Louvre,
a cry of grief arose from Catholic and Protestant alike throughout the
kingdom.  After a reign of twenty-one years, the sagacious ruler, who
had done more than any other to make the country great and happy, was
the victim of assassination.  And France once more was the sport of a
cruel fate which placed her in the hands of a woman and a Medici.
Marie, the widow of Henry IV., was appointed regent during the minority
of her son Louis aged ten years.

The regency of this woman is a story of cabals and the intrigues of
aspiring favorites.  If Marie had not the ability of her great
kinswoman Catharine, it must be confessed neither had she her darker
vices.  She was simply intriguing and vulgar, and the willing
instrument for designing people cleverer than herself.  So powerful was
the influence of Eleonora Galigai and her husband, Concini, both
Italians like herself, that in that superstitious age it was ascribed
to magic.  Marie became the mere secretary to record the wishes of
these parasites.  Concini was made marquis, then minister.  Whom he
commended was elevated, and whom he denounced was abased.  Public
indignation reached its climax when this adventurer was finally created
Marshal of France, before whom counts and dukes must bow.  So furious
was the storm raised by this, that Marie declared her willingness to
surrender the regency, and after summoning the States General she
presented her son, Louis XIII., thirteen years of age, declaring that
he was qualified to reign.

Only once again was this body to be called together.  That was in 1789,
by Louis XVI., when it was transformed into a National Assembly.

But when it was discovered that the power of the detested pair was as
great behind the boy king as it had been behind his mother, the storm
gathered again from all parts of the kingdom.  It was France in
struggle with Concini, the man who was audaciously sending princes of
the blood and dukes to the Bastille.

But a counter-influence was weaving about Louis.  He was made to
realize the indignity to himself in letting two vulgar Italians usurp
his authority.  Thus Albert de Luynes, his adored friend, procured his
signature to a paper ordering the immediate destruction of Concini and
his wife.  And when Louis had seen Concini despatched by his own agents
in the court of the Louvre, and the arrest, trial, and execution of
Eleonora (upon the charge of sorcery), he completed the work by
banishing his mother, only to fall immediately into the power of Albert
de Luynes, himself an intriguing parasite, who intended to play the
very same role as the pair he had overthrown.

The clever Eleonora, when arraigned on the charge of sorcery, replied,
"The only magic I have used is that of a strong mind over a weak one."
Albert de Luynes's head was never carried about Paris on a pike, as was
hers.  But he experimented with the same kind of magic.

This wretched period after the death of the great Henry had occupied
twelve years.  But in 1622 Cardinal Richelieu took his seat among the
advisers of the king.  The true man had been found.  King, nobles,
people of all ranks and religions, realized that a master had appeared
in the land; a master inscrutable in his purposes, and clothed with a
mysterious power.

The foundations of this man's policy lay deep, out of sight of all save
his own far-reaching intelligence.  Pitiless as an iceberg, he crushed
every obstacle to his purpose.  Impartial as fate, with no loves, no
hatreds, catholics, protestants, nobles, parliaments, one after another
were borne down before his determination to make the king, what he had
not been since Charlemagne, supreme in France.

The will of the great minister mowed down like a scythe.  The power of
the grandees, that last remnant of feudalism, and a perpetual menace to
monarchy, was swept away.  One great noble after another was humiliated
and shorn of his privileges, if not of his head.

The Huguenots, being first shaken into submission, saw their political
liberties torn from them by the stroke of a pen; and even while the
Catholics were making merry over this discomfiture the minister was
planning to send Henrietta, sister of the king, across the channel to
become queen of Protestant England, as wife of Charles I.  But the act
of supreme audacity was to come.  This high prelate of the Church, this
cardinal-minister, formed an alliance with Gustavus Adolphus, the great
leader of the Protestants in the war upon the emperor and the pope!

He allowed no religion, no class, to sway or to hold him.  He was for
France; and her greatness and glory augmented under his ruthless
dominion.  By his extraordinary genius he made the reign of a
commonplace king one of dazzling splendor; and while gratifying his own
colossal ambition, he so strengthened the foundations of the monarchy
that princes of the blood themselves could not shake it.

It was great, it was dazzling, but of all his work there is but one
thing which revolutions and time have not swept away: the "French
Academy" alone survives as his monument.  Out of a gathering of
literary friends he created a national institution, its object the
establishing a court of last appeal in all that makes for eloquence in
speaking or writing the French language.  In a country where few things
endure, this has remained unchanged for two hundred and thirty years.

But this master of statecraft, this creator of despotic monarchy, had
one unsatisfied ambition.  He would have exchanged all his honors for
the ability to write one play like those of Corneille.  Hungering for
literary distinction, he could not have gotten into his own Academy had
he not created it.  And jealous of his laurels, he hated Corneille as
much as he did the enemies of France.

The feeble King Louis XIII. manifested wisdom in at least one thing.
He permitted this greatest statesman of his time, and one of the
greatest perhaps of all time, to have a free hand in managing his
kingdom.  And whatever the pressure from the queen-mother, from cabals
and intriguing nobles, he never yielded the point, but kept his great
minister in his service as long as they both lived.  This was
especially commendable in Louis because they were personally
antagonistic, and also because the queen-mother constantly used her
powerful influence over her son for his downfall.

Marie had been permitted to return to Paris, where her son, perhaps to
console her for the loss of the Concinis, had built for her the Palais
de Luxembourg, intended as a reminiscence of her dear Italy, with its
Medicean architecture and Italian gardens and fountains.  Here she held
her little court in great splendor, and here she wove her ineffectual
webs for Richelieu's defeat and downfall.  It is said that at one time
Louis at her instigation had actually taken the pen in hand to sign the
order for his minister's disgrace, when that vigilant and omniscient
being, perfectly aware of what was occurring, appeared from behind the
curtains.  And Louis, quailing before the superior will of a master,
sent his vicious, intriguing mother into perpetual banishment.  And we
are told that Marie, the subject of those immortal canvases now at the
Louvre, was actually sheltered and fed by the great painter at his own
home in the day of her disgrace and poverty.

It is not strange that Peter the Great pronounced Richelieu the model
statesman!  Their ideals were the same.  The minister intended that
everything in France should lie helpless at the feet of royalty; that
kingship should absorb into itself every source of power.  While
Cromwell was tearing down a throne in England and leading a king to a
scaffold, Richelieu, facing every class, current, and force, was making
the throne impregnable in France, and preparing a magnificent
inheritance for the infant Louis XIV., then in his cradle.

Queen-mother, nobles, parliaments, and Protestants must be taught to
obey.  The Huguenots at the siege of La Rochelle, lasting fifteen
months, learned their lesson.  The punishment for their revolt was the
loss of every military and political privilege.  But although there
were to be no more political assemblies, the edict of Nantes was to be
rigidly enforced, and their rights and immunities under it made
inviolable.  Louis the King saw his most intimate friend, Cinq Mars,
sent to the scaffold; his brother Gaston, Duke of Orleans, thrown into
the Bastille like a common prisoner; his mother in exile and poverty.
But he also saw himself without the trouble of governing, surrounded by
homage and adulation, towering high above everything else in France,
and was content.

The growing power of Austria and the ascendency of the Hapsburgs was,
as we have seen, the nightmare of Europe at this period.  But the
Reformation was tearing the empire almost asunder.  A Protestant
Prussia was trying to struggle away from a Catholic Austria.  Richelieu
cared nothing for Catholics nor for Protestants.  His aim was to weaken
the hands of the Hapsburgs.  And if he joined the Protestant leader
Gustavus Adolphus in a religious crusade, it was with this end in view.

The marriage of Louis with the Infanta of Spain, known as Anne of
Austria, was doubtless a part of the same line of policy, and was the
beginning of many attempts to draw the Spanish peninsula under the
control of France.

When the end of all these schemings arrived, on the 4th day of
December, 1642, Richelieu calmly laid down to die in his princely
residence known at that time as the Palais Cardinal.  But as it was his
dying gift to the king, the name was changed to the Palais Royal.  Upon
the death of Louis XIII., which occurred in 1643, only a few months
after that of his minister, the widowed Queen Anne, with her infant
son, Louis XIV., removed from the Louvre to the Palais Royal, which
continued to be the residence of the Grand Monarch for some time after
his majority.

Anne was appointed regent for her son, not yet five years old, and, to
the surprise of everyone, immediately called to her aid as her adviser
not a Frenchman, as was expected, but an Italian, Cardinal Mazarin.  So
the fate of the kingdom was in the hands of two foreigners, a Spanish
queen-regent and an Italian minister.

Richelieu's and Mazarin's methods were the opposite of each other.  One
was direct, the other tortuous and indirect.  In true Italian fashion
Mazarin overcame by seeming to yield; and what he said was the thing he
did not mean.  Intrigue and bribery were his implements and weapons.

The situation awoke distrust.  It was a time to recover lost
privileges, and to struggle out of the chains riveted by Richelieu.  A
civil war known as the Fronde was the result.

As all classes had grievances, all were represented in this general
undoing of the last minister's great work.  But as no two classes
desired the same thing, the miserable war, without genius and without
system, miserably failed.  The royal cause triumphed; and Richelieu's
political structure was not even shaken.  Mazarin stood inflexibly by
the work of his great predecessor.  Turenne and Condé were the military
heroes of this, as well as of the subsequent foreign wars, resulting in
the acquisition of Alsace (1648) and other great territorial expansion.

When Cardinal Mazarin died in 1661, the young king was asked to whom
the ministers should bring their portfolios.  To which came the
unexpected reply, "_To me_."


The wily Italian was gone, and Louis XIV.  settled himself upon the
throne which Richelieu had rendered so exalted and immovable.

Cardinal Mazarin had said of the young Louis that "there was enough in
him to make four kings, and one honest man."  His greatness consisted
more in amplitude than in kind.  Nature made him in prodigal mood.  He
was an average man of colossal proportions.  His ability, courage,
dignity, industry, greed for power and possessions, were all on a
magnificent scale, and so were his vanity, his loves, his cruelties,
his pleasures, his triumphs, and his disappointments.

No king more wickedly oppressed France, and none made her more
glorious.  He made her feared abroad and magnificent at home, but he
desolated her, and drained her resources with ambitious wars.  He
crowned her with imperishable laurels in literature, art, and every
manifestation of genius, but he signed the Revocation of the Edict of
Nantes, and drove out of his kingdom 500,000 of the best of his

The marriage of the Dauphin with the Infanta of Spain had occurred
before he attained his majority.  It was planned by Mazarin, and was a
part of the policy left as a fatal bequest to Louis XIV. by that

The Salic Law was not recognized in Spain.  Hence, the crown might
descend to an heiress, and by her be transmitted to her husband.  Such
was the hope in the marriage of Louis with the Infanta; the hope of
some happy turn of fortune, some break in the line of succession
whereby the Spanish kingdom might be absorbed into a Bourbon empire, as
it had once been in the empire of the Hapsburgs.  This was the _ignis
fatuus_ which was to control the policy of this stormy reign, and which
was to envelop it at last in the clouds of defeat and disaster.

The secret of Louis' greatness was his instinctive recognition of
greatness in others.  His new minister, Colbert, to whom he owed so
much, was a man of the people, and a protestant.  He it was who
discovered the peculations of Fouquet, the magnificent Minister of
Finance, who was building a palace at Vaux greater than the king
himself could afford, and who was suddenly swept from this princely
residence into the Bastille, where he spent the remaining years of his
life with plenty of leisure in which to think upon the forty thousand
pounds he had expended upon that fête he gave in honor of his royal
master; and to recall the splendors of the supper and the size of the
banqueting-hall, which Mansart, Le Brun, and the best that Italy could
furnish at that time had made beautiful.

It is said that the unfortunate visit of the king to his minister's
abode resulted in the creation of Versailles as a suburban residence.
From the Palais de St. Germain, on the heights in the suburbs of Paris,
Louis could see the Cathedral of St. Denis, where were the royal vaults
and the ancestors he must some day join.  So depressing was this view
to him, and so charmed was he with the plan of Fouquet's palace and
gardens, that artists were immediately set to work to make one more
royal at Versailles, where his father, Louis XIII., used to have his
hunting-box; the place where that much-governed king used to go to hide
away from his scheming mother and his argus-eyed minister.  The genius
of Colbert was severely taxed to supply the means for Louis'
magnificent tastes and for his foreign wars, at the same time.  Even
Colbert could not create money out of nothing.  The burden must rest
somewhere, and just as surely must ultimately be borne by the people.

The choice of Louvois as Minister of War was no less happy than that of
Colbert in Finance.  And with Vauban to build his defences, Turenne and
Luxembourg and the great Condé to lead his armies, it is not strange
that there were victories.

The four great wars of Louis' reign were not for theatrical effect,
like that of the fanciful Charles VIII. in Italy.  They were all in
pursuance of a serious and definite purpose.  Just or unjust, wise or
unwise, they were planned in order to reach some boundary, or to secure
some strategic position essential to France.  These wars were:

First--The war upon the Spanish Netherlands, ending with the Treaty of
Aix-la-Chapelle, 1668.

Second--The invasion of the Dutch Republic, ending with the peace of
Nymwegen, 1678.

Third--War with the coalition of European States, closing with the
Treaty of Ryswick, 1697.

Fourth--War of the Spanish Succession, closed by the Treaty of Utrecht,

The first of these wars, undertaken because Louis believed and intended
that Flanders should belong to France, to which it was geographically
allied, was ostensibly undertaken in order to recover the unpaid dowry
which had been promised by Spain in exchange for Louis' renunciation of
any claim upon the throne of Spain which might result from his marriage
with the Infanta Maria Theresa.  His conquest of the Spanish
possessions in Flanders might have been supposed to set at rest forever
the question of a claim upon the Spanish throne.  But we shall hear of
that again.  The success of this war made Louis, at twenty-nine years
of age, the most heroic figure in Europe.  Every one bowed before him,
and everything seemed to be gravitating toward him as toward a central
sun.  Not alone nobility, but even genius put on his livery and became
sycophantish, Bossuet and even Molière, hungering for his smile, and in
despair if he frowned.

This was the time of the supremacy of the beautiful Louise la Vallière.
Her reign was brief, and, the king's infatuation being passed, she was
to spend the rest of her dreary life in a Carmelite convent, hearing
only the far-off echoes from the brilliant world in which she was once
the central and envied figure.

The Dutch Republic had come under Louis' displeasure and was marked for
his next foreign campaign.  This (to his mind) insignificant nation of
fishermen and small traders had presumed to stand in his path.  So the
most magnificent army since the Crusades in 1672 invaded the peaceful
little state of Holland.  As one after another of the cities helplessly
fell, someone asked why Louis came himself--why he did not send his
valet?  Louis insolently demanded as the price of peace the surrender
of all their fortified cities, the payment of twenty million francs,
and the renunciation of the Protestant faith.

The answer of William of Nassau was an unexpected one.  The history of
modern times has nothing more heroic than this little mercantile state
defying the greatest potentate in Europe.  William of Nassau knew
perfectly well that every battle meant defeat.  The thing to do was to
make battles impossible by inundating their fertile fields.  When he
saw the destruction of life and property in one scale and political
slavery in the other, he did not hesitate.  The dikes were quietly
opened.  Turenne and Luxembourg and Vauban were baffled as completely
as Napoleon in Russia.  And when the magnificent army had evacuated the
flooded country, the dikes were quietly closed again and time and
windmills restored their fields to fertility.

In the meantime William had been drawing to himself powerful allies.
Half of Europe was in league with him in the battles he now fought upon
the Rhine.  But the French were victorious.  And after the peace of
Nymwegen, 1678, Louis had reached the zenith of his power.

Human pretension and arrogance could go no farther.  He began to feel
that France was his own personal possession and that Europe might be.
It was the combination of a great king with a small man which produced
this composite being.  He had built Versailles, a palace unmatched
since the Caesars.  He not only commanded the presence, but the
obsequious presence of all that was illustrious and great at a time
when France was in the full flower of her splendid genius.  Corneille,
Racine, Molière, if permitted to be, must pay him an almost idolatrous
homage.  The beautiful Vallière was sent away, and de Montespan's reign
had commenced.

But when Colbert died in 1685, Louis fell under an influence which was
to be transforming.  He had been burning the illuminating oil of youth
at very high pressure.  Perhaps it was exhausted.  He grew serious.  De
Montespan was sent away--the orgies at Versailles ceased, the court
became decorous, almost austere, and with the awakening of conscience,
of course, the king became more sensitive to the heresies of the

He was drifting toward the fatal mistake of his life.  He revoked the
Edict of Nantes.  Two millions of people by the stroke of his pen, at
the bidding of de Maintenon, were disfranchised; prohibited under
severe penalties from any observance of their religion; their property
confiscated, an attempt to flee from the country punished by the

The prisons were full of Protestants and the scaffolds dyed with their
blood.  Two hundred thousand perished by imprisonment, by the galleys,
and the executioner; while two hundred thousand more managed to escape
to America and to the lands of the enemies of France, which they would
enrich with their skill.

Not a word of protest came from a person in France.  Not even from
Fénelon or Bossuet!  Madame de Maintenon told him it was the "glorious
climax of a glorious reign."  Madame de Sévigné said it was
"magnificent!"  And Bossuet, greatest of French divines, exclaimed, "It
is the miracle of the century!"

France at one stroke was impoverished.  The skill, the trained hand,
the element which was at the foundation of her excellence, and of that
which was to constitute her future supremacy in the world, had gone to
enrich her enemies.  And whether in Germany, in England, or America, no
foreign people have had such glad welcome as was given to the Huguenots.

Then came the rebound in a form not expected.  William of Orange was
now King of England.  James had been driven off his throne, and his
daughter Mary and her husband, William of Orange, wore the double
crown.  All the hostile European states, under William's leadership,
sprang together for the common defence of Europe from this detested foe.

The smothered hatred of Holland and every protestant state burst into
flame, and the great War of the Coalition commenced.  Beginning with
the League of Augsburg, in 1688, it continued until the peace of
Ryswick, 1697, with the defeat of France all along the line.

Humiliated and broken, there remained for the king an opportunity to
retrieve the past by attaching the Spanish peninsula to France.  There
was a vacant throne at Madrid which his grandson Philip, through the
neglected Queen Maria Theresa, might claim as his inheritance.  Such
were the conditions which might still change defeat into triumph.  The
fact that the right to the succession had been waived by the king was
easily disposed of.  Philip, Louis' grandson, presented his claim in
competition with that of the son of Leopold I., Emperor of Germany.
When the pope, with whom the decision lay, decided in favor of Philip,
grandson of the great Louis, all Europe sprang to the aid of the
Austrian archduke in the war of the Spanish succession.

It was a little side play in the opening of this great drama, which
brought the kingdom of Prussia into existence.  Frederick, elector of
Brandenburg, when called upon to arm by the emperor, refused to do so
except upon one condition: that he might wear the title of king instead
of elector; which condition was granted, with the stipulation that the
name of Prussia, a detached piece of territory the ancestors of
Frederick had cut out of the side of Russia, be substituted for
Brandenburg.  So out of this war of personal ambition there had sprung
a new kingdom, the kingdom of Prussia, of which France was to hear much
in the future.

England was not eager to join the new coalition in defence of the
Hapsburg, whom in common with the rest of Europe she had for years been
trying to pull down.  But when Louis insolently espoused the cause of
the exiled King James, and promised by force to place the pretender on
the throne, then she needed no urging, and sent Marlborough and the
flower of her army to join Prince Eugene in Germany.

It was Marlborough at Blenheim (1702) who drove the iron of defeat into
the soul of Louis XIV.  When the war was ended he had made every
concession demanded; had given up a vast extent of territory; banished
the English pretender from his kingdom; and acknowledged Anne as queen
of Great Britain.

By the provisions of the treaty (the Peace of Utrecht) Gibraltar passed
to England; Spain ceded the Netherlands and all her possessions in
Italy to the German empire.  And so the fine threads diplomacy had been
spinning over the Continent for two centuries were ruthlessly brushed
away as a spider's web.

An imbittered, broken old man, shorn of his omnipotence, who had
outlived his fame and his worshippers, was dying in his great palace at
Versailles; his only solace the austere woman who had inspired the
Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and who upon the death of his
unhappy queen he had privately made his wife.  Marie Therese had borne
his mad infatuation for Louise la Valliére; la Valliére had carried her
broken heart to a convent, and been superseded by de Montespan, and de
Montespan had invited her own destruction by bringing into her
household Madame de Maintenon, the pious widow of the poet Scarron, in
order that the austere virtues of that lady might be engrafted upon the
children of the royal household.  Grave, ambitious, talented, the
governess of de Montespan's children was not too much absorbed in her
duties to find ways of establishing an influence over the king.

This man, who had absorbed into himself all the functions of the
government, who was ministers, magistrates, parliaments, all in one,
this central sun of whom Corneille, Molière, Racine were but single
rays, was destined to be enslaved in his old age by a designing
adventuress; her will his law.  The hey-day of youth having passed, he
was beginning to be anxious about his soul.  She artfully pricked his
conscience, and de Montespan was sent away, but de Maintenon remained.

She next convinced him that the only fitting atonement for his sins was
to drive heresy out of his kingdom, and re-establish the true faith.
At her bidding he undid the glorious work of Henry IV., signed the
Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and brutally stamped out

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the stake in the great
game played in Europe was the headship, the pre-eminent position held
by the house of Hapsburg.  The entire reign of Louis XIV. had had this
for its ultimate object.  He seemed many times near it; but was never
to reach the goal.  The absorption of Spain was a last and desperate
attempt.  It had failed.  France had not won the leadership of European

In the coming reign, new forces, new conditions, were to widen the
field of national ambitions.  And it was the nation across the channel
which would grasp these forces and distance her rivals in an advance
along the untried paths of commerce and a world-wide expansion.

With a strange apathy France had seen herself mistress of a large part
of the American Continent, won for her by adventurous Frenchmen and
Catholic missionaries.  She did practically nothing to develop this
magnificent colonial empire.  Failing to comprehend changing
conditions, the same old problem, with a towering house of Hapsburg,
obscured her view, and remained the great unchanging fact about which
her policy revolved.

Louis XV. was five years old when, in 1715, he became heir to a throne
absolutely rigid.  The best work of Richelieu and Mazarin and Louis
XIV. had been expended upon it.  Absolutism could go no farther.  The
king was all; next below him a fawning, obsequious nobility, and then
that vague entity known as "the people," a remote invisible force,
sustaining the weight of the splendid pyramid, the apex of which was
this boy of five.

The young Louis was being prepared to sit upon this giddy elevation.
The Duke of Orleans, his accomplished cousin, a competent instructor in
vice, was chosen as regent, and the royal education began.  The best
and rarest of the world's culture was at his service.  Fénelon, the
polished ecclesiastic, fed him the classics in tempting form from his
own Télémaque, written for the purpose.  Although this work was later
suppressed by the boy's royal father under the suspicion of being a
covert satire upon his own reign, in which Madame de Montespan was
represented by Calypso; and other famous or infamous members of his
court also appeared in thin disguise.

The handsome boy was breathing the atmosphere of genius created by an
age which compares well with those of Pericles and Augustus and the
Medici, and nourished at the same time by the exhalations from a new
crop of vices growing out of the decaying remains of those left by the
old court.


Such was the preparation for a supreme crisis in the life of the

The enormous debt left by the last reign taxed the ingenuity of the
regent to its utmost.  Then it was that John Law, the Scotchman,
presented his great financial scheme of making unlimited wealth out of
paper, which was just what the regent needed.  The collapse came
quickly, in 1720, bringing ruin to thousands, and leaving the country
in more desperate need than before.

When declared of age, in 1723, a marriage was arranged for Louis with
Marie Leczinska, daughter of the exiled Polish King Stanislas.  Europe
at this time was agitated over the succession to the throne of Austria,
as the empire was now called.  The Salic Law excluded female heirs, and
the emperor, Charles VI., had died in 1718, leaving only a daughter,
Maria Theresa, one year old.  But a pragmatic sanction, once more
invoked, seems to have covered the necessities of the situation by
providing that the succession in the absence of a male heir might
descend to a female, and so there was a young and beautiful empress on
the throne at Vienna, who was going to make a great deal of history for
Europe; and who would open her brilliant reign by a valiant fight for
possession of Silesia, which the young king of Prussia intended to
seize as an addition to his own new kingdom.  This young King Frederick
was also making history very fast, and after a stormy career was going
to convert his Kingdom into a Power, and to be the one sovereign of his
age whom the world would call _Great_!  But at this particular period
of his youth, Frederick and his nobility, still blinded by the
splendors of the reign of Louis XIV., were mere servile imitators of
the court at Versailles, and the culture and the civilization for which
they hungered were French--only French; and for Frederick, an intimate
companionship with Voltaire was his supreme desire.  But a closer view
of the witty, cynical Frenchman wrought a wonderful change.  The finely
pointed shafts of ridicule when aimed at himself were not so
entertaining.  And his guest, no longer _persona grata_, was escorted
over the frontier to France.

A nearer view of Versailles at this time might also have disenchanted
these worshippers at the shrine of French civilization.  A king
absolutely indifferent to conditions in his kingdom, immersed in
debasing pleasures, while Madame de Pompadour actually ruled the
state--this is not the worst they would have seen!  Destitute of shame,
of pity, of patriotism, and of human affection, what did it mean to the
king that his people were growing desperate under the enormous taxation
made necessary by incessant wars and by the extravagant expenditures of
the court?  Louis simply turned his back upon the whole problem of
administration, and left his ministers, Fleury, and later de Choiseul,
to deal with the misery and the discontent and to make their way
through the financial morass as best they might.

The power of Madame de Pompadour may be imagined when we learn that
Maria Theresa, empress and proud daughter of the Caesars, when she
needed the friendship of Louis XIV., in her struggle with Frederick of
Prussia, in order to win him to her side, wrote a flattering letter to
this woman.

This friendship, so artfully sought by the empress, led to another very
different and very momentous alliance.  A marriage was arranged between
her little daughter, Marie Antoinette, and the boy Louis, who was to be
the future king of France.  The dauphin, the dauphiness, and their
eldest child were all dead.  So Louis, the second son of the dauphin,
was the heir to his grandfather, Louis XV.

How should the empress of Austria, born, nurtured, and fed in the very
centre of despotism, utterly misunderstanding as she must the past, the
present, and the future, how should she suspect that the throne of
France would be a scaffold for her child?  Hapsburg and Bourbon were to
her realities as enduring as the Alps.

In the meantime England and France had come into collision over their
boundaries in America, and the war opened by Braddock and his young
aide, Washington, had been a still further drain upon impoverished
France.  With the loss of Montreal and Quebec, those two strongholds in
the north, the French were virtually defeated.  And when the end came,
France had lost every inch of territory on the North American
Continent, and had ceded her vast possessions, extending from Canada to
the Gulf of Mexico, to England and Spain.

So while England was steadily building up a world-empire, penetrated
with the forces of a modern age, France, loaded with debt, was taxing a
people crying for bread--taxing a starving people for money to procure
unimaginable luxuries and pleasures for Madame du Barry, who had
succeeded to the place once, held by Madame de Pompadour.  Did she
desire a snowstorm and a sleighride in midsummer, these must be created
and made possible.  And one may see to-day at Versailles the sleigh in
which this mad caprice was realized.

The various instructors of Louis XV. had not taught him anything about
mind and soul processes.  They were quite unaware that there had
commenced a movement in the _brain_ of France, which was going to
liberate terrific forces--forces which would sweep before them the work
of the Richelieus and the Mazarins and the Colberts as if it were chaff.

The human mind was probing, questioning doubting, everything it had
once believed.  And as one after another cherished beliefs disappeared,
it grew still more daring.  The whole religious, social, and political
system was wrong.  The only remedy was to overthrow it all, and crown
reason as the sovereign of a new era.  Such was the ferment at work
beneath the surface as Louis was devising incredible extravagances for
du Barry.  And there was rage in men's hearts as they wrote insulting
lines upon his equestrian statue in the Place Louis Quinze.

The Place Louis Quinze was soon to be the Place de la Revolution.  The
bronze statue was to be melted into bullets by a maddened populace, and
standing on that very spot was to be the guillotine which would destroy
king, queen, the king's sister, and a great part of the nobility of

It is said that the three great events of modern times are the
Reformation, the American War of Independence, and the French
Revolution.  Events such as these have a lurid background, a long vista
of causes behind them!  A French Revolution is not the work of a day,
nor of a single man.  There had been a steady movement toward this
event for a thousand years--in fact, ever since the dogma that _labor
is degrading_ was placed at the foundation of the social structure of

The direct causes which were precipitating the crisis in the closing
eighteenth century were financial and economic, while the contributing
causes were a remarkable intellectual movement and the War of
Independence in America.  It is possible that a king with a heart and a
brain, and the moral sense which belongs to ordinary humanity, might
have averted this tragic outburst, and at least have delayed the event
by awakening hope.  The Revolution was born of hopeless misery.  With
the reign of Louis XV. hope died, and his successor fell heir to the

A heartless sybarite, depraved in tastes, without sense of
responsibility or comprehension of his times, a brutalized voluptuary
governed by a succession of designing women, regardless of national
poverty, indulging in wildest extravagance--such was the man in whom
was vested the authority rendered so absolute by Richelieu; such the
man who opened up a pathway for the storm.

As for the nobility, their degradation may be imagined when it is said
there was as bitter rivalry between titled and illustrious fathers to
secure for their daughters the coveted position held by Madame de
Pompadour, as for the highest offices of State.

Could the upper ranks fall lower than this?  Had not the kingdom
reached its lowest depths, where its foreign policy was determined by
the amount of consideration shown to Madame de Pompadour?  But this
woman, whose friendship was artfully sought by the great Empress Maria
Theresa, was superseded, and the fresher charms of Madame du Barry
enslaved the king.  The deposed favorite could not survive her fall,
and died of a broken heart.  It is said that as Louis, looking from an
upper window of his palace, saw the coffin borne out in a drenching
rain, he smiled, and said, "Ah, the marquise has a bad day for her
journey."  It may be imagined that the man who could be so pitiless to
the woman he had loved would feel little pity for the people whom he
had not loved, but whom he knew only as a remote, obscure something,
which held up the weight of his glory.

But this "obscure something" was undergoing strange transformation.
The greater light at the surface had sent some glimmering rays down
into the mass below, which began to awaken and to think.  Misery,
hopeless and abject, was changing into rage and thirst for vengeance.

A new class had come into existence which was not noble, but with
highly trained intelligence it looked with contempt and loathing upon
the frivolous, half-educated nobles, Scorn was added to the ferment of
human passions beneath the surface, and when Voltaire had spoken, and
the restraints of religion were loosened, no living hand, not that of a
Richelieu nor a Louis XIV., could have averted the coming doom.  But no
one seems to have suspected what was approaching.

A wonderful literature had come into existence, not stately and classic
as in the age preceding, but instinct with a new sort of life.  The
profoundest themes which can occupy the mind of man were handled with
marvellous lightness of touch and clothed with prismatic brilliancy of
speech; but all was negation.  None tried to build; all to demolish.
The black-winged angel of Destruction was hovering over the land.

Then Rousseau tossed his dreamy abstractions into the quivering air,
and the formula, "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity," was caught up by
the titled aristocracy as a charming idyllic toy, while princes, dukes,
and marquises amused themselves with a dream of Arcadian simplicity, to
be attained in some indefinite way, in some remote and equally
indefinite future.  It was all a masquerade.  No reality, no sincerity,
no convictions, good or evil.  The only thing that was real was that an
over-taxed, impoverished people was exasperated and--hungry.

Did the king need new supplies for his unimaginable luxuries, they were
taxed.  Was it necessary to have new accessions to French "glory," in
order to allay popular clamor or discontent, they must supply the men
to fight the glorious battles, and the means with which to pay them.
Every burden fell at last upon this lowest stratum of the State; the
nobility and clergy, while owning two-thirds of the land, being nearly
exempt from taxation.

And yet the king and nobility of France, in love with Rousseau's
theories, were airily discussing the "rights of man"--wolves and foxes
coming together to talk over the sacredness of the rights of property,
or the occupants of murderers' row growing eloquent over the sanctity
of human life!  How incomprehensible that among those quick-witted
Frenchmen there seems not one to have realized that the logical
sequence of the formula, "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity," must be,
"Down with the Aristocrats!"

And so the surface which Richelieu had converted into adamant grew
thinner and thinner each day, until king and court danced upon a mere
gilded crust, unconscious of the abysmal fires beneath.  Some of those
powdered heads fell into the executioner's basket twenty-five years
later.  Did they recall this time?  Did Madame du Barry think of it?
Did she exult at her triumph over de Pompadour, when she was dragged
shrieking and struggling to the guillotine?

Five years before the close of this miserable reign an event occurred
seemingly of small importance to Europe.  A child was born in an
obscure Italian household.  His name was Napoleon Bonaparte.  His
birthplace, the island of Corsica, had only two months before been
incorporated with France.  The fates even then were watching over this
child of destiny, who might, by a slight turn of events then imminent,
have been born a subject of Spain, or Germany, or of George III. of

The impoverished Republic of Genoa was in desperate need of money.  The
island could be had by the highest bidder, and in 1768 it was purchased
by France, just in time to make the great Corsican a French citizen.

Indeed, all the performers in the approaching drama were assembled.
Three young princes, grandsons of Louis XV., who were to be
successively upon the throne of France, were at Versailles: Louis the
Dauphin, now twenty, and his Austrian bride, Marie Antoinette, and his
two brothers, afterward successively Louis XVIII. and Charles X.  Still
another princeling, Louis Philippe, was at the Palais Royal, son of the
Duke of Orleans, late regent, also destined to wear the French crown;
and last of all that infant at Ajaccio, in whom the play was to reach
its splendid climax.

In 1744 Louis XV. was stricken with small-pox, and exchanged the
brilliant scenes at Versailles for the royal vault in the Church of St.
Denis, where he took his place among his ancestors.


Louis XV. was dead, and two children, with the light-heartedness of
youth and inexperience, stepped upon the throne which was to be a
scaffold--Louis XVI., only twenty, and Marie Antoinette, his wife,
nineteen.  He, amiable, kind, full of generous intentions; she,
beautiful, simple, child-like, and lovely.  Instead of a debauched old
king with depraved surroundings, here were a prince and princess out of
a fairy tale.  The air was filled with indefinite promise of a new era
for mankind to be inaugurated by this amiable young king, whose
kindness of heart shone forth in his first speech, "We will have no
more loans, no credit, no fresh burdens on the people;" then, leaving
his ministers to devise ways of paying the enormous salaries of
officials out of an empty treasury, and to arrange the financial
details of his benevolent scheme of government, he proceeded with his
gay and brilliant young wife to Rheims, there to be crowned with a
magnificence undreamed of by Louis XIV.

In the midst of these rejoicings over the new reign, and of speculative
dreams of universal freedom, there was wafted across the Atlantic news
of a handful of patriots arrayed against the tyranny of the British
Crown.  Here were the theories of the new philosophy translated into
the reality of actual experience.  "No taxation without
representation," "No privileged class," "No government without the
consent of the governed."  Was this not an embodiment of their dreams?
Nor did it detract from the interest in the conflict that
England--England, the hated rival of France--was defied by an indignant
people of her own race.  There was not a young noble in the land who
would not have rushed, if he could, to the defence of the outraged

The king, half doubting, and vaguely fearing, was swept into the
current, and the armies and the courage of the Americans were
splendidly reinforced by generous, enthusiastic France.

Why should the simple-hearted Louis see what no one else seemed to see:
that victory or failure was alike full of peril for France?  If the
colonies were conquered, France would feel the hostility of England; if
they were freed and self-governing, the principle of monarchy had a
staggering blow.

In the mean time, as the American Revolution moved on toward success,
there was talk in the cabin as well as the chateau of the "rights of
man."  In shops and barns, as well as in clubs and drawing-rooms, there
was a glimmering of the coming day.

"What is true upon one continent is true upon another," say they.  "If
it is cowardly to submit to tyranny in America, what is it in France?"
"If Englishmen may revolt against oppression, why may not Frenchmen?"
"No government without the consent of the governed?--When has our
consent been asked, the consent of twenty-five million people?  Are we
sheep, that we have let a few thousands govern us for a thousand years,
without our consent?"

Poverty and hunger gave force and urgency to these questions.  The
people began to clamor more boldly for the good time which had been
promised by the kind-hearted king.  The murmur swelled to an ominous
roar.  Thousands were at his very palace gates, telling him in no
unmistakable terms that they were tired of smooth words and fair
promises.  What they wanted was a new constitution and--bread.

Poor Louis! the one could be made with pen and paper; but by what
miracle could he produce the other?  How gladly would he have given
them anything.  But what could he do?  There was not enough money to
pay the salaries of his officials, nor for his gay young queen's fêtes
and balls!  The old way would have been to impose new taxes.  But how
could he tax a people crying at his gates for bread?  He made more
promises which he could not keep; yielded, one after another,
concessions of authority and dignity; then vacillated, and tried to
return over the slippery path, only to be dragged on again by an
irresistible fate.

Louis' Minister of Finance, Turgot, was a trained economist and a man
of very great ability.  When Louis assured the people, in the speech
after his coronation, that there were to be "no more loans, no fresh
burdens on the people," he did not know how Turgot was going to
accomplish this miracle.  He was unaware that it was to be done by
cutting off the cherished privileges of the nobility, and that the
proposed reforms were all aimed at the privileged classes.  When this
became apparent, indignation was great at Versailles.  The court would
not hear of economy.  Turgot was dismissed, and Necker, a Swiss banker
(father of Madame de Staël), called to fill his place.

Necker made another mistake.  He took the people into his confidence,
let them know the sources of revenue, the nature of expenditures, and
measures of relief.  This was very quieting to the public, but
exasperating to the privileged classes, who had never taken the people
into their confidence, and considered it an impertinence for them to
inquire how the moneys were spent.  And so Louis, again yielding to the
pressure at Versailles, dismissed Necker; then, in the outburst of rage
which followed, tried to retrace his steps and recall him.

But events were moving too swiftly for that now.  In the existing
temper of the people, small reforms and concessions were unavailing.
They were demanding that the States General be called.

The critical moment had come.  If Louis of his own initiative had
summoned that body to confer over the situation, it would have been a
very different thing; but a call of the States-General at the _demand
of the people_ was a virtual surrender of the very principle of
absolutism.  The work of Richelieu, Mazarin, and Louis XIV. would be
undone; for it would involve an acknowledgment of the right of the
people to dictate to the king, and to participate in the government of
the nation.  The whole revolutionary contention was vindicated in this

The call was issued; and when Louis, in 1789, convoked the States
General, he made his last concession to the demands of his subjects.

That almost-forgotten body had not been seen since Richelieu effaced
all the auxiliary functions of government.  Nobles, ecclesiastics, and
_Tiers État_ (or commons) found themselves face to face once more.  The
courtly contemptuous nobles, the princely ecclesiastics were unchanged,
but there was a new expression in the pale faces of the commons.  There
was a look of calm defiance as they met the disdainful gaze of the
aristocrats across the gulf of two centuries.

The two superior bodies absolutely refused to sit in the same room with
the commons.  They might under the same roof, but in the same

There was an historic precedent for this refusal.  The three estates
had always acted as three separate bodies.  So the demand in itself was
an encroachment upon the ancient dignity of the two superior bodies,
which they resented.  But they might better have yielded.  The _Tiers
État_ with dignity and firmness insisted that they should meet and vote
together as one body, or they would constitute themselves a separate
body, and act independently of the other two.  This was the Rubicon.
On one side compromise, and possible co-operation of the three
legislative bodies; on the other, revolution, in charge of the people.

Aristocratic France was offered its last chance, and committed its last
act of arrogance and folly.  The ultimatum was refused by the nobles
and clergy.  And the _Tiers État_ declared itself the National
Assembly, in which was vested all the legislative authority of the
kingdom.  The people had taken possession of the Government of France!

The predetermined destruction of the monarchy seems evident, when at
the most critical point, and at the moment calling for the most careful
retrenchment and reform, fate had placed Louis XV., acting like a
madman in the excesses of his profligacy; and, at the next stage, while
the last opportunity still existed by main force to drag the nation
back, and hold it from going over the brink, there stood the most
excellent, the kindest-hearted but weakest gentleman who ever wore the
name of king!  When the distracted Louis gave the impotent order for
the National Assembly to disperse, and for the three bodies to assemble
and vote separately, according to ancient custom; and then when he gave
still further proof of childish incompetency by telling the _Tiers
État_ they were "not to meddle with the privileges of the higher
orders," kingship had become a mockery.  It was a child telling the
tornado not to come in that direction.

When the king's herald read to the National Assembly this foolish
message, ending with the formula, "You hear, gentlemen, the orders of
the king," Mirabeau sprang to his feet, saying, "Go, tell your master
we are here by the will of the people, and will be only removed at the
point of the bayonet," the pitiful king then yielding to this defiance,
even begging the nobles and deputies of the clergy to join the National
Assembly--a revolutionary assembly, which was holding its meetings in
his own Palace of Versailles, and which was every day gravitating from
its original lofty purpose; its rallying cry for justice and reform of
abuses changing to "Down with the Aristocrats!"  It was becoming
alarming, so Louis ordered the body to disperse; and when soldiers
stood at the door to prevent its assembling, it took possession of the
queen's tennis court, and there each member took a solemn oath not to
dissolve until the object they sought had been secured.

There were some among the clergy and the nobles who realized the
necessity for reforms, and who would gladly have joined a movement
inaugurated in a different spirit.  Hence, partly from alarm, and
partly impelled by other reasons and purposes, more or less pure, there
was finally a secession from the two aristocratic bodies; the Duke of
Orleans, cousin of the king, leading the movement in one, and three
archbishops in the other.  These, with their followers, appeared among
the _Tiers État_ as converts to the popular cause, the Marquis de
Lafayette, hero of the late American War, sitting next to Mirabeau, the
powerful and eloquent leader of the whole movement in its first days.

Concerning the genius of Mirabeau there is no difference of opinion.
All are agreed that intellectually he towered far above every one about
him.  But whether he was the incarnation of good or of evil, the world
is still in doubt;-and also whether he could have guided the forces he
had invoked, if a premature death had not swept him off from the scene,
leaving Robespierre, a man concerning whom there is no disagreement of
opinion, to guide the storm.

Paris was becoming wild with excitement.  Clubs and associations were
in every quarter, and detachments of a Parisian mob marched and sang at
night, firing the hearts of the rabble.  But it was the Palais Royal,
the home of the Duke of Orleans, that friend of the people, which was
the heart of the whole movement.  There, patriots and lovers of France,
their hearts aflame with noble aspiration for their country, met with
schemers without heart, more or less wicked, the Camille Desmoulins and
the Marats all fused into one body under the leadership of the Duke of
Orleans, cousin of the king, who, rising superior to aristocratic
traditions, believed in _Equality_, and was the man of the
people--_Philippe Egalité_!  His young son Louis Philippe perhaps
listened with wonder to the sounds of strange revelry and the wild
shouts which greeted the eloquence of Camille Desmoulins and of Marat.

At last a rumor reached the Palais Royal, and from there ran through
the streets like an electric current, that the king's soldiers were
marching upon the Assembly to disperse it.  Mad with wine and
excitement, a common impulse seized the entire populace, to destroy the
Bastille, that old stronghold of despotism, that symbol of royal
tyranny.  This prison-fortress, with its eight great round towers, and
moat eighty-three feet wide, had stood since 1371, and represented more
tragic human experiences than any structure in France.  In an hour the
doors were burst open, and before the sun went down the heads of the
governor and his officials were being carried on pikes through the
streets of Paris.  The horrible drama had opened.  The tiger in the
slums had tasted blood, and would want it again.

Thus far it was only an insurgent mob, committing violence, and the
National Assembly at once created a body of militia, under the
direction of Lafayette, for the protection of Paris.

When the news of the fall of the Bastille reached Versailles, the king,
still failing to realize the gravity of the situation, exclaimed, "Then
it is a revolt!"  "Sire," said the Duke de Liancourt, "it is a

The king found himself deserted.  His terrified nobles almost in a body
were fleeing from the kingdom.  Bewildered, not knowing what to do, or
what not to do, and desiring to assure the people that he was their
friend, he appeared before the National Assembly and made the last
sacrifice--accepted the Tricolor; adopted the livery of the
revolutionary party!  The act was received with immense enthusiasm, and
the outlook became more reassuring.

Then the garrison at the palace was reenforced by a regiment from the
country, and a dinner was given to welcome the new officers.  The king
and queen were urged to enter the room for a few moments, simply as an
act of courtesy.  Marie Antoinette most reluctantly consented to pass
through the banqueting-hall.  The officers, when they saw the beautiful
daughter of Maria Theresa, sprang to their feet, and, flushed with
wine, and in a transport of enthusiasm, committed a fatal act.
Throwing their tricolors under the table, they drank to the toast,
"_The king forever_!"

When this was reported in Paris the storm burst anew.  A thousand
terrible women, led by one still more terrible than the rest, started
for Versailles.  This crowd of base and degraded beings, re-enforced on
the way by all that is worst, arrived at the palace, and the howling
mob encamped outside in the rain all night.  Entrance at last was found
by someone, and they were inside and at the queen's door; she barely
escaping by a hidden passageway leading to the king's room.

"The king to Paris!" was the cry; and in the morning the wretched Louis
appeared upon the balcony and indicated his willingness to go to Paris
as they desired.  And then the queen, hoping to touch their hearts,
also appeared upon the balcony, holding in her arms the dauphin, with
the tricolor on his breast.  And with this horrible escort they did go
back to Paris, leaving Versailles forever, and were virtually prisoners
at the Tuileries.

The position of Lafayette at this time is a singular one: an agent of
the National Assembly, protecting the king from the Jacobins, and
saying to Robespierre and Marat, "If you kill the king to-day, I will
place the dauphin on the throne to-morrow."

But the currents of a cataract nearing the fall are difficult to guide.
Three parties were forming in the National Assembly: the _Girondists_,
the party of genius and eloquence and of moderation; the _Jacobins_,
the party of the extremists and radicals; and a third party, undecided,
waiting to see what was safest and best.

All that was noble and true and fine in the French Revolution was in
the party of the Girondists.  Dreamers, idealists, their dream was of a
republic like the one in America, and their ideal an impossible
perfection of condition in which human reason was supreme.  The
excesses of the Revolution they did not approve, but were willing to
sacrifice the king and even the royal family, if necessary.  They did
not realize the forces with which they were airily playing, nor that
the time was at hand when the Girondists would vainly strive to
restrain the horrible excesses; that, after they had sacrificed the
royal family, the Jacobins would sacrifice them; the slayers would be

Lafayette, neither a Girondist nor a Jacobin, was a loyal Frenchman and
patriot, with the American ideal in his heart, vainly trying to mediate
between a feeble king and a people who had lost their reason.  The time
was near when he would give up the hopeless task and flee to escape
being himself engulfed.

A wretchedly planned attempt at the escape of the royal family
aggravated the situation.  They were recognized at Varennes, brought
back with great indignity, and placed under closer surveillance than
before.  On the 10th of August, 1792, the mob attacked the Tuileries.
The royal family fled to the National Assembly for protection, while
their Swiss guards vainly defended the palace with their lives.

This was the end of the monarchy.  Louis, the brave queen and her
children, and Princess Elizabeth, sister of the king, were removed from
the Assembly to the prison in "The Temple," and the National Convention
formally declared France a republic.

The grim prison to which they were taken, with its central square tower
flanked by four round towers, had stood since the time of Philip
Augustus.  It was built for the Knights Templar, and was chateau,
fortress, prison, all in one, and was the home of the grand master and
those others who were burned when Philip IV. ruthlessly destroyed the
order.  The central tower, one hundred and fifty feet high, had four
stories.  The king and the dauphin were imprisoned in the second story,
and the queen, her young daughter, and the Princess Elizabeth in the
story above.

The power swiftly passed from Girondists to Jacobins, and a
Revolutionary Tribunal was created in charge of the terrible
triumvirate--Robespierre, Marat, and Danton.

An awful travesty upon a court of justice was established in that
historic hall in the Palais de Justice.  Its walls, which had looked
down upon generations of Merovingian, Carlovingian, and Capetian kings,
now beheld the condemnation of the most innocent and well-intentioned
of all the kings of France.

The king was arraigned at this court upon the charge of treason,
convicted, and condemned to die on the 21st of January, 1793.  He was
allowed to embrace for the last time his adored wife and children.  At
the scaffold he tried to speak a last word to his people.  The drums
were ordered to drown his voice, and an attendant priest uttered the
words, "_Fils de Saint Louis, montez au ciel_!"--Son of Saint Louis,
ascend to heaven!--and all was over.  The kindest-hearted, most
inoffensive gentleman in Europe had expiated the crimes of his

More and more furious swept the torrent, gathering to itself all that
was vile and outcast.  Where were the pale-faced, determined patriots
who sat in the National Assembly?  Some of them riding with dukes and
marquises to the guillotine.  Was this the equality they expected when
they cried, "Down with the Aristocrats"?

Did they think they could guide the whirlwind after raising it?  As
well whisper to the cyclone to level only the tall trees, or to the
conflagration to burn only the temples and palaces.

With restraining agencies removed, religion, government, king, all
swept away, that hideous brood born of vice, poverty, hatred, and
despair came out from dark hiding-places; and what had commenced as a
patriotic revolt had become a wild orgy of bloodthirsty demons, led by
three master-demons, Robespierre, Marat, and Danton, vying with each
other in ferocity.

Then we see that simple girl thinking by one supreme act of heroism and
sacrifice, like Joan of Arc, to save her country.  Foolish child!  Did
she think to slay the monster devouring Paris by cutting off one of his
heads?  The death of Marat only added to the fury of the tempest, and
the falling of Charlotte Corday's head was not more noticed than the
falling of a leaf in the forest.

The slaughter of the people had been reduced to an admirable system.
The public prosecutor, Fouquier-Tinville, went every day to the
"Committee of Public Safety" to procure the list of the proscribed, who
were immediately placed in the Conciergerie to await trial.  This list
was then submitted to Robespierre, who with his pencil marked the names
of those who would be executed on the morrow.

The mockery of the trial of Charlotte Corday was not delayed.  This
girl belonged to a family of the smaller nobility.  In her secluded
life in the country, a mind of superior quality had fed upon the new
philosophy of the period.  An enthusiasm for liberty, and a horror of
tyranny, had taken possession of her.  In passionate sympathy with the
early purposes of the Revolution, Marat seemed to her a monster, the
incarnation of the spirit which would defeat the cause of Liberty.  It
was believed that his list of the proscribed was not confined to Paris,
but that the names of thousands of victims all over France were already
designated.  In that extraordinary scene at her trial, when questioned,
she impatiently said, "Yes, yes, I killed him.  I killed one man to
save a hundred thousand!"

Nothing was lacking to make this, with one exception, the most dramatic
incident of the Revolution.  Her eloquent address, to the French
people, found pinned to the waist of her dress after her execution, and
her splendid courage to the end, rounds out the picturesque story of
her useless martyrdom.  A Girondist waiting in the Conciergerie, when
he heard of her crime and end, exclaimed: "It will kill us!  But she
has taught us how to die!"

The end did not come so swiftly for the queen, who, after being removed
from the Temple, spent seventy-two days and nights in the dark cell in
that abode of horrors, the Conciergerie.  Then came the trial, the
inquisitorial trial, lasting all through the night in the gloom of that
dimly lighted hall.  And at half-past four in the morning she heard
without a tremor the terrible words, "Marie Antoinette, widow of Louis
Capet, the Tribunal condemns you to die."  Not for a moment did this
intrepid woman quail; and a small detail brings before us vividly her
wonderful calmness.  As she reached the stairs in her pitiful return to
her cell, she said simply to the lieutenant of the gendarmes, who was
at her side, "Monsieur, I can scarcely see (_Je vois à peine_); will
you lead me?"

In another half hour the drums were beating in every quarter in
preparation for the event; and at ten o'clock she started upon her last
ride.  And how bravely she met her awful fate!  We forget her follies,
her reckless extravagances, in admiration for her courage as she rides
to her death, with hands tied behind her, sitting in that hideous
tumbril, head erect, pale, proud, defiant, as if upon a throne (October
16, 1793).

The search-light of scrutiny has been turned upon this unfortunate
woman for more than a century, and all that has been discovered is that
she was pleasure-loving, indiscreet, and absolutely ignorant of the
gravity of her responsibility in the position she occupied.

In the days of her power and splendor she lived as the average woman of
her period would have done under the same circumstances--not better,
and not worse.  But when the time came to try her soul and test her
mettle, she evinced a strength and dignity and composure surpassing

If there had been any evidence of the truth of the story of the diamond
necklace--a story which no doubt hastened the revolutionary crisis--it
would certainly have been used at her trial; but it was not.  It will
be remembered that this necklace was one of the fatal legacies from the
reign of Louis XV., who had ordered for du Barry this gift which was to
cost a sum large enough for a king's ransom.  The king died before it
was completed, and the story became current that Marie Antoinette, the
hated Austrian woman who was ruining France by her extravagance, was
negotiating for the purchase of this necklace while the people were

A network of villainy is woven about the whole incident, in which the
names of a cardinal and ladies high in rank are involved.  The mystery
may never be uncovered, but every effort to connect the queen's name
with this historic scandal has failed.

Probably of all the cruelties inflicted upon this unhappy woman, none
caused her such anguish as the testimony of her son before the
Revolutionary Tribunal, that he had heard his mother say she "hated the
French people."  Placed under the care of the brutal Simon after his
father's removal from the Temple, the child had become a physical and
mental wreck.  The queen, in her last letter to her sister the Princess
Elizabeth, makes pitiful allusion to the incident, begging her to
remember what he must have suffered before he said this; also reminding
her how children may be taught to utter words they do not comprehend.
His lesson, no doubt, had been learned by cruel tortures; and, rendered
half imbecile, it was recited when the time came.  None but his keeper
was ever permitted to see the boy.  His condition, final illness, and
death are shrouded in mystery.  In June, 1794, eight months after his
mother's execution, it was announced that he was dead.  It would be
difficult to prove this event before a court of justice.  There were no
witnesses whose testimony would have any weight.  No one was permitted
to see the child who was put into that obscure grave; and many
circumstances give rise to a suspicion that the boy, who might have
been a source of political embarrassment in the rehabilitation of
France, was disposed of in another way--dropped into an obscurity which
would serve as well as death.

There was a surfeit of killing, and a waning Revolution.  We are far
from saying that such a thing happened.  But ambitious royalists might
have thought their money well expended in removing the son of the
murdered king from the scene.  The claim of the American dauphin,
Eleazer Williams, may have been fanciful, or even false; but what safer
and more effectual plan could be devised than to drop the half-imbecile
heir to a throne into the heart of a tribe of Indians in an American

When Louis XVIII. occupied his brother's throne, in 1814, and erected
over the dishonored graves of his family that beautiful Chapelle
Expiatoire, he also gave orders for masses to be said for the repose of
the souls of his murdered kindred, whom he designated by name: Louis
XVI., king; Marie Antoinette, queen, and the Princess Elizabeth, his
sister.  If it is true, as has been said, that the name of the dauphin
was not included in this list, it is a most suggestive omission.
Technically, this boy was king from the moment of his father's death
until his own, and on the lists of sovereigns is called Louis XVII.
Then why was there no mention of him as one of that martyred group?

Twenty-two of the Girondists who had helped to dethrone the king on
that 10th of August, and later consented to his death, were now facing
the same doom to which they had sent him only six months before, and by
a strange fatality were under the same roof with the queen.  Only a few
feet, and two thin partitions, separated them; and in her cell she must
have heard their impassioned voices during that dramatic banquet, the
last night of their lives.  And the next day this group of
extraordinary men--men singularly gifted and fascinating--were all
lying in one tomb, at the side of Louis XVI.

Philip Égalité, the Duke of Orleans, was to meet his Nemesis also.
Brought a prisoner to that grim resting-place, he occupied the
adjoining cell to that which had been the queen's, and, it is said, had
assigned to him the wretched cot she no longer needed.  His desperate
game had failed.  No elevation would come to him out of the chaos of
crime, and the reward for scheming and voting for the death of his
cousin, the king, would be a scaffold, not a throne.  His name had been
upon the list of the proscribed for some time; but the end was
precipitated by an act of his young son, Louis Philippe, then Duke de
Chartres, and aide-de-camp to Dumouriez, who was defending the frontier
from an invasion of Austrian troops.  After the execution of the queen,
Dumouriez refused longer to defend France from an invasion the purpose
of which was to make such horrors impossible.  He laid down his
command, and, with his aide, Louis Philippe, joined the colony of
exiles in Belgium, while the Austrian troops were in full march upon
Paris from Verdun.

This was treason--whether justifiable or not this is not the place to

Philip Égalité knew that he no longer had the confidence of the
leaders, and that they also knew that he was an aristocrat in disguise.
So when this defection of Dumouriez came, and was shared by his own
son, he tried to get out of the country.  He was arrested at
Marseilles, brought to the Conciergerie, that half-way house to the
scaffold, and was soon following in the footsteps of his king and
queen, through the Rue St. Honore, passing his own Palais Royal on his
way to the Place de la Revolution.

The Revolution, beginning with a patriotic assembly, in a measure sane,
had made a rapid descent, first falling apart into Girondist and
Jacobin, moderate and extremist, the Girondist with a shudder
consenting to the execution of the king.  Then, the power passing to a
so-called "Committee of Public Safety" and a Triumvirate, in order to
sweep away the obstructive Girondist; and then an untrammelled Terror,
in the hands of three, and, finally, one.  Such had been its mad
course.  But with the death of the king and queen, the madness had
reached its height, and a revulsion of feeling set in.  There was a
surfeit of blood, and an awakening sense of horror, which turned upon
the instigators.  Danton fell, and finally, when amid cries of "Death
to the tyrant!" Robespierre was dragged wounded and shivering to the
fate he had brought upon so many thousands, the drama which had opened
at the Bastille was fittingly closed.

The great battle for human liberty had been fought and won.  Religious
freedom and political freedom were identical in principle.  The right
of the human conscience, proclaimed by Luther in 1517, had in 1793 only
expanded into the large conception of all the inherent rights of the

It had taken centuries for English persistence to accomplish what
France, with such appalling violence, had done in as many years.  It
had been a furious outburst of pent-up force; but the work had been
thorough.  Not a germ of tyranny remained.  The incrustations of a
thousand years were not alone broken, but pulverized; the privileged
classes were swept away, and their vast estates, two-thirds of the
territory of France, ready to be distributed among the rightful owners
of the soil, those who by toil and industry could win them.  France was
as new as if she had no history.  There was ample opportunity for her
people now.  What would they do with it?

What would they build upon the ruins of their ancient despotism?  What
would be the starting-point for such a task--every connecting link with
an historic past broken, and the armies of an indignant Europe pressing
in upon every side?  Could they ever wipe out the stain which had made
them odious in the sight of Christendom?  Would they ever be forgiven
for disgracing the name of Liberty?

It was the power and genius of a single man which was going to make the
world forget her disgrace, and cover France with a mantle more glorious
than she had ever worn.


The Revolution over, France, sitting among the wreckage of the past,
found herself disgraced, discredited, and at war with all of Europe.
Austria, naturally the leader in an effort to stop the atrocities which
threatened a daughter of her own royal house, had been joined finally
by England, Holland, Spain, and even Portugal and Tuscany, these all
being impelled, not by the personal feeling which actuated Austria, but
by alarm for their own safety.  This revolutionary movement was a moral
and political plague spot which must be stamped out, or there would be
anarchy in every kingdom in Europe.

It was the difficulty in recruiting troops to fight this coalition
which had embarrassed and finally broken the power of the revolutionary
government.  If the states of Europe had really acted in concert, the
life of the new republic would have been brief.  But Austria was
jealous of Prussia, and Prussia afraid of the friendship which was
forming between Austria and England, and Catharine, the empress of
Russia, keeping all uncertain about her designs upon Poland--with the
result that the war upon France was conducted in a desultory and
ineffectual manner.

In the organization of the new French republic, the executive power was
vested in a Directory, composed of five members, chosen by two houses
of legislature.

A disagreement over some details of the new constitution led to a
heated quarrel, and this to an insurrection in Paris, October 5, 1795,
which Napoleon Bonaparte, a young officer who had acquired distinction
at Toulon, was summoned to quell.  The vigor and the success with which
the young leader used his cannon in the streets of Paris struck
precisely the right note at the right moment.  Law and order were
established.  A delighted Directory yielded at once to the suggestion
of a campaign against Austria which should be conducted in Italy, in
combination with an advance upon Vienna from the Rhine.

With the instinct of genius, Napoleon Bonaparte saw the path to power.
The air was vibrating with the word _Liberty_.  If he would capture
France--which was what he intended to do--he must move along the line
of political freedom.  The note to be struck was the liberation of the
oppressed.  Where would he find chains more galling, more unnatural,
than in Italy, held by the iron hand of Austria?  And was not Austria
the leader of the coalition against France?

Without money or supplies, and with an unclothed army, he obeyed the
inspiration, audaciously planning to make the invaded country pay the
expenses of the war waged against it.  Pointing to the Italian cities,
he said to his soldiers: "There is your reward.  It is rich and ample,
but you must conquer it!"  Like Caesar, he knew how, in words brief and
concise, to address his followers, and to inspire enthusiasm as few
have ever done before or since.  He also knew how to confound the enemy
with new and unexpected methods which made unavailing all which
military science and experience had taught them.

With the suddenness of a tornado he swept down upon the plains of
Lombardy.  The battles of _Lodi_, _Arcola_, _Rivoli_, were won, and in
ten months Napoleon was master of Italy.  By the treaty of Campo
Formio, October 17, 1797, northern Italy was divided into four
republics, with their capitals respectively at Milan, Genoa, Bologna,
and Rome.  And in return for her acquiescence in this redistribution of
her Italian territory, Austria received Venice.  After fourteen
centuries of independence, Venetia, the queen of the Adriatic, was in

[Illustration: Napoleon at the Battle of Rivoli, January 14, 1797.
From the painting by Philippoteaux.]

Not satisfied with this, Napoleon intended that Paris should wear the
jewels which had adorned the fair Italian cities.  The people whose
chains he had come to break were at once required to surrender money,
jewels, plate, horses, equipments, besides their choicest art
collections and rarest manuscripts.  In a private letter to a member of
the Directory he wrote: "I shall send you twenty pictures by some of
the first masters, including Correggio and Michael Angelo."  A later
letter said: "Join all these to what will be sent from Rome, and we
shall have all that is beautiful in Italy, except a small number of
objects in Turin and Naples."  Pius VI., without a protest, surrendered
his millions of francs, and ancient bronzes, costly pictures, and
priceless manuscripts.

Austria had lost fourteen battles, and all her Italian possessions were
grouped together into a Cisalpine republic!  Another Helvetic republic
was set up in Switzerland, and still another republic created in
Holland under a French protectorate.

In other words, this man had accomplished in Italy precisely what he
was going to accomplish later in Germany.  He had broken down the
lingering traces of mediaevalism, and prepared the soil for a new order
of things.

The peace of Campo Formio was the most glorious ever made for France.
The river Rhine was at last recognized as her frontier, thus placing
Belgium within the lines of the republic.  Napoleon had captured not
alone Italy, but France herself?  What might she not accomplish with
such a leader?  The delighted Directory discussed the invasion of
England.  Napoleon, knowing this would be premature, dramatically
conceived the idea of crippling England by threatening her Asiatic
possessions, and led an army into Egypt (1798).  Although Nelson
destroyed his fleet, he still maintained the arrogance of a conqueror.

No king, no military leader, had brought as much glory to France.  Du
Guesclin, Turenne, Condé, all were eclipsed.  And so were Marlborough
and Prince Eugene.  What would not France do at the bidding of this
magician, who by a single sweep of his wand had raised her from the
dust of humiliation and made her the leading power on the Continent!

The young officer, now so distinguished, had married in the early part
of his career the widow of M. de Beauharnais, one of the victims of the
Reign of Terror.  During his absence in Egypt, the Directorate, and the
Legislature, and the people had all become embroiled in dissensions.
Things were falling again into chaos, with no hand to hold them
together.  Discontent was rife, and men were asking why the one man,
the little dark man who knew how to do and to compel things, and to
maintain discipline, why he was sent to the Nile and the Pyramids!

Josephine, from Paris, kept Napoleon informed of these conditions.  So,
leaving his army in charge of Kleber, he unexpectedly returned.  He
knew what he was going to do; and he also knew he could depend upon the
army to sustain him.  By political moves as adroit and unexpected as
his tactics on the field, the Directorate was swept out of existence,
and Napoleon was first consul of France.

It was a long step backward.  The pendulum was returning once more
toward a strong executive, and to centralization.  From this moment,
until he was a prisoner in the hands of the English, Napoleon Bonaparte
was sole master of France.

The early simplicity of the republic was disappearing.  The receptions
of the first consul at the Tuileries began to recall the days at
Versailles.  Josephine, fascinating, and perfect in the art of dress,
knew well how to maintain the splendor of her new court; as also did
Bonaparte's sisters, with their beauty and their brilliant talents.
But outside of France, and across the channel, the consul was only a
usurper, and Louis XVIII. was king--an uncrowned but legitimate

Perhaps it is not too much to say that nothing in Napoleon's career has
left such enduring traces, and so permanently influenced civilization,
as two acts performed at this period: the creation of that monumental
work of genius the codification of the laws of France and the sale of
Louisiana to the United States.  Spain had ceded this large territory
to France in 1763, and Bonaparte realizing that he was not in a
position to hold it now, if attacked, sold it to the United States
(1803), in order to keep it out of the hands of England.

The goal to which things were tending was realized by some.  A
conspiracy against the life of the consul was discovered.  Napoleon
suspected it to have originated with the Bourbons; and the death of the
young Duke d'Enghien, a son of the Prince of Condé, without pity or
justice, was intended to strike with terror all who were plotting for
his downfall.  The swiftness with which it was done, the darkness under
the walls of Vincennes, the lantern on the breast of the victim, and
the file of soldiers at midnight, all conspired to warn conspirators of
the fate awaiting them.  It was the critical moment at hand which
turned Bonaparte's heart to steel.

Only a few days after this tragedy at Vincennes a proposition was made
in the Tribunate to bestow upon the first consul the title of
hereditary Emperor of the French!

This new Charlemagne did not go to the pope to be crowned, as that
other had done in the year 800; but at his bidding the pope came to
him.  And when on the 2d of December, 1804, the crown of France was
placed upon his head, the great drama commenced in 1789 had ended.
Rivers of blood had flowed to free her from despotism, and France was
held by a power more despotic than that of Richelieu or of Louis XIV.

At war with all of Europe, Napoleon swiftly unfolded his great plan not
only to conquer, but to demolish--not one state, but all.  He was going
to create an empire out of a federation of European kingdoms all held
in his own hand, and to tear in pieces the old map of Europe, precisely
as he had the map of Italy.  He was going to break down the old
historic divisions and landmarks, and create new, as he had created a
kingdom of Italy out of Italian republics.  So, while he was fighting a
combined Europe, Bavaria, Wurtemberg, and Saxony had become kingdoms,
and the West German States, seventeen in number, were all merged in a
Confederation of the Rhine, "the Rheinbund," under a French

Then Austria felt the weight of his hand.  Francis Joseph wore the
double crown created by Charlemagne a thousand years before, and was
Emperor of Rome as well as of Germany.  It had become an empty title;
but it was the sacred tradition of a Holy Roman Empire, the empire
which had dominated the world during the Middle Ages, and while Europe
was coming into form.  Napoleon was ploughing deep into the soil of the
past when he told Francis Joseph he must drop the title of Emperor of
Rome!  And it is a startling indication of his power that the emperor
unresistingly obeyed; the logical meaning, of course, being that he,
already King of Italy, was the successor to Charlemagne and the head of
a new Roman Empire.

England, never having felt the touch of this insolent conqueror upon
her own soil, was still the bitterest of all in the coalition, and was
more indignant over the humiliation of Germany than she seemed to be
herself.  Prussia, at last reluctantly opposing him, was defeated at
Jena, 1806, a time during which the beautiful Queen Louise was the
heroine, and the one brave enough to defy him; and then the peace of
Tilsit, 1807, completed the humiliation of the kingdom created by the
great elector.

It would seem that the people as well as the armies of Germany were
captured by this man, when we hear that ninety German authors dedicated
their books to him, a servile press praised him, and one of Beethoven's
greatest sonatas was inspired by him.  But a man so colossal and
dazzling could only be accurately measured at a distance.  Even yet we
are too near to him for that, and the world has not yet come to an
agreement concerning him, any more than as to the true analysis of the
character of Hamlet.

There was now scarcely an uncrowned head in Napoleon's family.  His
brother Louis, who had married his step-daughter, Hortense Beauharnais,
was king of Holland.  His brother-in-law Murat he made king of Naples;
Eugene Beauharnais, his step-son, viceroy of Italy; his brother Jerome,
King of Westphalia; and then his brother Joseph was placed upon the
throne of Spain, from which an indignant people drove him ingloriously

In an hour's interview with Alexander, Emperor of Russia, Napoleon had
by the magic of superiority secured that emperor's friendship and
co-operation in his plans against England.  All this excellent man was
fighting for was the peace of Europe!  And he disclosed to Alexander
his plan that they two should be the eternal custodians of that peace;
which was to be secured by restraining the arrogance of England, and
that was to be done by ruining the commercial prosperity of that nation
of shop-keepers.  There was to be organized a continental blockade
against England.  Europe was to be forbidden to trade with that country.

A plan was forming in the mind of Napoleon which was destined as the
turning-point in his astonishing career.  It was of vast importance to
him that he should have an heir to the great inheritance he was
creating.  By repudiating Josephine, and marrying the daughter of
Francis Joseph, there might be an heir who would also be the legitimate
descendant of the Caesars; thus immensely fortifying the empire after
his own death.

When this thought took possession of his mind, the psychological moment
had arrived.  The tide had turned toward disaster.  The marriage with
Maria Louisa took place at Paris in 1810.  The marriage of Napoleon
with a Hapsburg was not pleasing to the French people, who took pride
in the simple origin of their emperor and empress.  This hero of
Marengo, and Austerlitz, and Jena, and Wagram, the man before whom
Europe trembled, was he not, after all, only a crowned citizen?  And
was this not a triumph for the revolutionary principle which offset the
existence of an empire, as its final result?

[Illustration: Josephine crowned Empress, December 2, 1804, in Notre
Dame Cathedral.  From the painting by David.]

Alexander had broken away from his agreement and his friendship with
the emperor, and had joined the allies.  So in 1812 the
long-contemplated invasion of Russia began.  Of the 678,000 souls
recruited chiefly from conquered states, only 80,000 would ever return.
Never before had Napoleon fought the elements, and never before met
overwhelming defeat!  The flames at Moscow, followed by the arctic
cold, converted the campaign into a vast tragedy.

With indomitable courage another grand army had filled the vacant
places, and was putting down a great uprising in Germany.  But his star
was waning.  An overwhelming defeat at Leipsic was followed by a march
upon Paris.  And in the spring of 1814, Alexander, the young Russian
emperor, the friend who was to aid him in securing an eternal peace for
Europe, was dictating the terms of surrender in Paris.

Within a week Napoleon had abdicated.  The title of emperor he was
permitted to retain, but the empire which he was to leave to the infant
son of Maria Louisa, now two years old, had shrunk to the little island
of Elba, on the west coast of Italy!


The allied powers named Louis XVIII., the brother of Louis XVI., for
the vacant throne, who promised the people to reign under a
constitutional government.

The man who had deserted his brother in his extremity, a man who
represented nothing--not loyalty to the past, nor sympathy with a
single aspiration of the present--was king.  As he passed under
triumphal arches on the way to the Tuileries, there was sitting beside
him a sad, pale-faced woman; this was the Duchesse d'Angoulême, the
daughter of Louis XVI., the little girl who was prisoner in the Temple
twenty years before.  What must she have felt and thought as she passed
the very spot where had stood the scaffold in 1793!

Almost the first act of Louis XVIII. was the removal of the mutilated
remains of the king and queen and his sister Elizabeth to the royal
vault in the Church of St. Denis.  He then gave orders for a _Chapelle
Expiatoire_ to be erected over the grave where they had been lying for
two decades, and for masses to be said for the repose of the souls of
his murdered relatives.  Paris was full of returning royalists.
Banished exiles with grand old names, who had been earning a scanty
living by teaching French and dancing in Vienna, London, and even in
New York, were hastening to Paris for a joyful Restoration; and Louis
XVIII., while Russian and Austrian troops guarded him on the streets of
his own capital, was freely talking about ruling by divine right!

That king was reigning under a liberal charter (as the new constitution
was called)--a charter which guaranteed almost as much personal liberty
as the one obtained in England from King John in 1215; and the palpable
absurdity of supposing that he and his supporters might at the same
time revive and maintain Bourbon traditions, as if there had been no
Revolution, was at least not an indication of much sagacity.

But there was a very smooth surface.  The tricolor had disappeared.
Napoleon's generals had gone unresistingly over to the Bourbons.
Talleyrand adapted himself as quickly to the new regime as he had to
the Napoleonic; was witty at the expense of the empire and the emperor,
who, as he said, "was not even a Frenchman"; and was as crafty and as
useful an instrument for the new ruler as he had been for the
pre-existing one.

But something was happening under the surface.  While the
plenipotentiaries were busy over their task of restoring boundaries in
Europe, and the other restoration was going on pleasantly in Paris, a
rumor came that Napoleon was in Lyons.  A regiment was at once
despatched to drive him back; and Marshal Ney, "the bravest of the
brave," was sent with orders to arrest him.

The next news that came to Paris was that the troops were frantically
shouting "_Vive l'empereur_!" and Ney was embracing his beloved
commander and pledging his sword in his service.

At midnight the king left the Tuileries for the Flemish frontier, and
before the dawn Napoleon was in his Palace of Fontainebleau (March
20th), which he had left exactly eleven months before.  The night after
the departure of the king there suddenly appeared lights passing
swiftly over the Font de la Concorde; then came the tramp of horses'
feet, and a carriage attended on each side by cavalry with drawn
swords.  The carriage stopped at the first entrance to the garden of
the Tuileries, and a small man with a dark, determined face was borne
into the palace the Bourbon had just deserted.

There was consternation in the Council Chamber in London when the Duke
of Wellington entered and announced that Napoleon was in Paris, and all
must be done over again!

Immediate preparations were made for a renewal of the war.  It was easy
to find men to fight the emperor's battles.  All France was at his feet.

The decisive moment was at hand.  Napoleon had crossed into the
Netherlands, and Wellington was waiting to meet him.

The struggle at Waterloo had lasted many hours.  The result, so big
with fate, was trembling in the balance, when suddenly the booming of
Prussian guns was heard, and Wellington was re-enforced by Blücher.
This was the end.  The French were defeated (June 18, 1815).  Napoleon
was in the hands of the English, and was to be carried a life-prisoner
to the island of St. Helena.

Louis XVIII., who had been waiting at Ghent, immediately returned to
the Tuileries, and to his foolish task of posing as a liberal king to
his people, and as a reactionary one to his royalist adherents.  The
country was full of disappointed, imbittered imperialists, and of angry
and revengeful royalists.  The Chamber of Peers immediately issued a
decree for the perpetual banishment of the family of Bonaparte from
French soil; the extremists demanding that the families of the men who
had consented to the death of Louis XVI. be included in the decree.
Sentence of death was passed upon Marshal Ney, as a traitor to France.
Some might have said that a greater traitor was at the Tuileries; but
the most picturesque in that heroic group of Napoleon's marshals was
shot to death.

There was, in fact, a determined purpose to undo all the work of the
Revolution; to restore the supremacy and the property of the Church,
and the power of the nobility.  In the meantime, the people, perfectly
aware that the returned exiles were impoverished, were paying taxes to
maintain foreign troops which were in France for the sole purpose of
enabling the king's government to accomplish these things!

Here was material enough for discord in a troubled reign which lasted
nine years.  Louis XVIII. died September 16, 1824; and the Count of
Artois, the brother of two kings, was proclaimed Charles X. of France.

If there had been any doubt about the real sentiments of Louis XVIII.,
it must have been dispelled by the last act of his reign, when, at the
bidding of the Holy Alliance, he sent French soldiers to put down the
Spanish liberals in their fight for a constitution.

But Charles X. did not intend to assume the thin mask worn by his
brother.  He had marked out a different course.  All disguise was to be
thrown aside in a Bourbon reign of the ante-revolutionary sort.  The
press was strictly censored, the charter altered, the law of
primogeniture restored; and when saluted on the streets of Paris by
cries of "Give us back our charter!" the answer made to his people by
this infatuated man was, "I am here to receive homage, not counsel."

One wonders that a brother of Louis XVI., one who had been a fugitive
from a Paris mob in 1789--if he had a memory--dared to exasperate the
people of France.

On the 29th of July a revolt had become a Revolution, and once more the
Marquis de Lafayette was in charge of the municipal troops, which
assembled at St. Cloud and other defensive points.

[Illustration: The Revolution of July 28, 1830.  From the painting by

In vain did Charles protest that he would revoke every offensive
ordinance, and restore the charter.  It was too late.

Louis Philippe, Duke of Orleans, was appointed lieutenant-general of
the kingdom.  When he appeared at the Hôtel de Ville wearing the
tricolor, his future was already assured.

There was only one thing left now for Charles to do: he formally
abdicated, and signed the paper authorizing the appointment of his
cousin to the position of lieutenant-general; and ten days later, Louis
Philippe, son of Philippe Égalité, occupied the throne he left.

The note struck by this new king was the absolute surrender of the
principle of divine right.  He was a "citizen king"; his title being
bestowed not by a divine hand, but by the people, whose voice was the
voice of God!  The title itself bore witness to a new order of things.
Louis Philippe was not King of France, but "King of the French."  King
of France carried with it the old feudal idea of proprietorship and
sovereignty; while a King of the French was merely a leader of the
people, not the owner of their soil.  The charter and all existing
conditions were modified to conform to this ideal, and on the 9th of
August the reign of the constitutional king began.

It was the middle class in France which supported this reign; the class
below that would never forget that he was, after all, a Bourbon and a
king; while the two classes above, both royalists and imperialists,
were unfriendly, one regarding him as a usurper on the throne of the
legitimate king, and the other as a weakling unfit to occupy the throne
of Napoleon.

When Charles X. tried to secure the banishment of the families of the
men who had voted for the death of Louis XVI., he may have had in mind
his cousin, the son of Philippe Égalité, the wickedest and most
despicable of the regicides.  Whatever his father had been, Louis
Philippe was far from being a wicked man.  Whether teaching school in
Switzerland, or giving French lessons in America, he was the
kindest-hearted and most inoffensive of gentlemen.  The only trouble
with this reign was that it was not heroic.  The most emotional and
romantic people in Europe had a common-place king.  Only once was there
a throb of genuine enthusiasm during the eighteen years of his
occupancy of the throne, and that was when the remains of their adored
Napoleon were brought from St. Helena and placed in that magnificent
tomb in the Hôtel des Invalides by order of the king, who sent his son,
the Prince de Joinville, to bring this gift to the people.  The act was
gracious, but it was also hazardous.  Perhaps the king did not know how
slight was his hold upon this imaginative people, nor the possible
effect of contrast.

Under the new order of things in a constitutional monarchy the king
does not govern, he reigns.  He was chosen by the people as their
ornamental figure-head.  But what if he ceased to be ornamental?  What
was the use of a king who in eighteen years had added not a single ray
of glory to the national name, but who was using his high position to
increase his enormous private fortune, and incessantly begging an
impoverished country for benefits and emoluments for five sons?

An excellent father, truly, though a short-sighted one.  His power had
no roots.  The cutting from the Orleans tree had never taken hold upon
the soil, and toppled over at the sound of Lamartine's voice
proclaiming a republic from the balcony of the Hôtel de Ville.

When invited to step down from his royal throne, he did so on the
instant.  Never did king succumb with such alacrity, and never did
retiring royalty look less imposing than when Louis Philippe was in
hiding at Havre under the name of "William Smith," waiting for safe
convoy to England, without having struck one blow in defence of his

But three terrible words had floated into the open windows of the
Tuileries.  With the echoes of 1792 still sounding in his ears,
"Liberty," "Equality," and "Fraternity," shouted in the streets of
Paris, had not a pleasant sound!

Republicanism was an abiding sentiment in France, even while two dull
Bourbon kings were stupidly trying to turn back the hands on the dial
of time, and while an Orleans, with more supple neck, was posing as a
popular sovereign.  During all this tiresome interlude the real fact
was developing.  A Republican sentiment which had existed vaguely in
the air was materializing, consolidating, into a more and more tangible
reality in the minds of thinking men and patriots.

The ablest men in the country stood with plans matured, ready to meet
this crisis.  A republic was proclaimed; M. de Lamartine, Ledru-Rollin,
General Cavaignac, M. Raspail, and Louis Napoleon were rival candidates
for the office of President.

The nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, and son of Hortense, was only known
as the perpetrator of two very absurd attempts to overthrow the
monarchy under Louis Philippe.  But since the remains of the great
emperor had been returned to France by England, and the splendors of
the past placed in striking contrast with a dull, lustreless present,
there had been a revival of Napoleonic memories and enthusiasm.  Here
was an opportunity to unite two powerful sentiments in one man--a
Napoleon at the head of republican France would express the glory of
the past and the hope of the future.

The magic of the name was irresistible.  Louis Napoleon was elected
President of the second Republic, and history prepared to repeat itself.


A revolution scarcely deserving the name had made France a second time
a republic.  The Second French Republic was the creation of no
particular party.  In fact, it seemed to have sprung into being
spontaneously out of the soil of discontent.

Its immediate cause was the forbidding of a banquet which was arranged
to take place in Paris on Washington's birthday, February 22d, 1848.
M. Guizot, who had succeeded M. Thiers as head of the ministry, knowing
the political purpose for which it was intended, and that it was a part
of an impending demonstration in the hands of dangerous agitators,
would not permit the banquet to take place.

This was the signal for an insurrection by a Paris mob, which
immediately led to a change in the form of government--a crisis which
the nation had taken no part in inaugurating.  Revolution had been
written in French history in very large Roman capitals!  But when the
smoke from this smallest of revolutions had curled away, there stood
Louis Napoleon--son of the great Bonaparte's brother Louis and Hortense
de Beauharnais--who had been elected president by vote of the nation.

France did not know whether she was pleased or not.  Inexperienced in
the art of government, she only knew that she wanted prosperity, and
conditions which would give opportunity to the genius of her people.
Any form of government, or any ruler who could produce these, would be
accepted.  She had suffered much, and was bewildered by fears of
anarchy on one side and of tyranny on the other.  If she looked
doubtfully at this dark, mysterious, unmagnetic man, she remembered it
was only for four years, and was as safe as any other experiment; and
the author of those two ridiculous attempts at a restoration of the
empire, made at Strasbourg and at Boulogne, was not a man to be feared.

The overthrow of monarchy in France had, however, been taken more
seriously in other countries than at home.  It had kindled anew the
fires of republicanism all over Europe: Kossuth leading a revolution in
Hungary, and Garibaldi and Mazzini in Italy, where Victor Emmanuel, the
young King of Sardinia, was at the moment in deadly struggle with
Austria over the possession of Milan, and dreaming of the day when a
united Italy would be freed from the Austrian yoke.

The man at the head of the French Republic was surveying all these
conditions with an intelligence, strong and even subtle, of which no
one suspected him, and viewed with satisfaction the extinguishment of
the revolutionary fires in Europe, which had been kindled by the one in
France to which he owed his own elevation!

The Assembly soon realized that in this prince-president it had no
automaton to deal with.  A deep antagonism grew, and the cunningly
devised issue could not fail to secure popular support to Louis
Napoleon.  When an assembly is at war with the president because _it_
desires to restrict the suffrage, and _he_ to make it universal, can
anyone doubt the result?  He was safe in appealing to the people on
such an issue, and sure of being sustained in his proclamation
dissolving the Assembly.

The Assembly refused to be dissolved.  Then, on the morning of December
2, 1851, there occurred the famous _coup d'état_, when all the leading
members were arrested at their homes, and Louis Napoleon, relying
absolutely upon their suffrages, stood before the French nation, with a
constitution already prepared, which actually bestowed imperial powers
upon himself.  And the suddenness and the audacious spirit with which
it was done really pleased a people wearied by incompetency in their
rulers; and so, just one year later, in 1852, the nation ratified the
_coup d'état_ by voluntarily offering to Louis Napoleon the title,
Napoleon III., Emperor of the French.

His Mephistophelian face did not look as classic under the laurel
wreath as had his uncle's, nor had his work the blinding splendor nor
the fineness of texture of his great model.  But then, an imitation
never has.  It was a marble masterpiece, done in plaster!  But what a
clever reproduction it was!  And how, by sheer audacity, it compelled
recognition and homage, and at last even adulation in Europe!--and what
a clever stroke it was, for this heavy, unsympathetic man to bring up
to his throne from the people a radiant empress, who would capture
romantic and aesthetic France!

It was a far cry from cheap lodgings in New York to a seat upon the
imperial throne of France; but human ambition is not easily satisfied.
A Pelion always rises beyond an Ossa.  It was not enough to feel that
he had re-established the prosperity and prestige of France, that fresh
glory had been added to the Napoleonic name.  Was there not, after all,
a certain irritating reserve in the homage paid him? was there not a
touch of condescension in the friendship of his royal neighbors?  And
had he not always a Mordecai at his gate--while the _Faubourg St.
Germain_ stood aloof and disdainful, smiling at his brand-new

War is the thing to give solidity to empire and to reputation!  So,
when invited to join the allies in a war upon Russia in defence of
Turkey, Louis Napoleon accepted with alacrity.  France had no interests
to serve in the Crimean War (1854-56); but the newly made emperor did
not underestimate the value of this recognition by his royal neighbors,
and French soldiers and French gun-boats largely contributed to the
success of the allied forces in the East.

The little Kingdom of Sardinia, as the nucleus of the new Italy was
called, had also joined the allies in this war; and thus a slender tie
had been created between her and France at a time when Austria was
savagely attacking her possessions in the north of Italy.

When Napoleon was privately sounded by Count Cavour, he named as his
price for intervention in Italy two things: the cession to France of
the Duchy of Savoy, and the marriage of his cousin, Jerome Bonaparte,
with Clotilde, the young daughter of Victor Emmanuel.  Savoy was the
ancestral home of the king, and the only thing he loved more than Savoy
was his daughter Clotilde, just fifteen years old.  The terms were
hard, but they were accepted.

When Louis Napoleon entered Italy with his army in 1859, it was as a
liberator--dramatically declaring that he came to "give Italy to
herself"; that she was to be "free, from the Alps to the Adriatic"!
The victory at Magenta was the first step toward the realization of
this glorious promise; quickly followed by another at Solferino.  Milan
was restored, Lombardy was free, and as the news sped toward the south
the Austrian dukes of Tuscany, Modena, and Parma fled in dismay, and
these rejoicing states offered their allegiance, not to the King of
Sardinia, now, but to the King of Italy.  There were only two more
states to be freed, only Venetia and the papal state of Rome, and a
"United Italy" would indeed be "free from the Alps to the Adriatic."

Then the unexpected happened.  The dramatic pledge was not to be kept.
Venetia was not to be liberated.  The Peace of Villafranca was signed.
Austria relinquished Lombardy, but was permitted to retain Venice.
Cavour, white with rage, said, "Cut loose from the traitor!  Refuse
Lombardy!"  But Victor Emmanuel saw more clearly the path of wisdom;
and so, after only two months of warfare, Napoleon was taking back to
France Savoy and Nice as trophies of his brilliant expedition.

This liberator of an Italy which was _not_ liberated, would have liked
to restore the fleeing Austrian dukes to their respective thrones in
Florence, Modena, and Parma; but he did what was more effectual and
pleasing to the enemies of a united Italy: he garrisoned Rome with
French troops, and promised Pius IX. any needed protection for the
papal throne.

One can imagine how Garibaldi's heart was wrung when he exclaimed,
"That man has made me a foreigner in my own city!"  And so might have
said the king himself.

The emperor and the empire had been immensely strengthened by the
Italian campaign.  France was rejoicing in a phenomenal prosperity,
reaching every part of the land.  There was a new France and a new
Paris; new boulevards were made, gardens and walks and drives laid out,
and a renewed and magnificent city extended from the Bois de Vincennes
on one side to the Bois de Boulogne on the other.  With the building of
public works there was occupation for all, resulting in the repose for
which France had longed.

The Empress Eugénie was beautiful and gracious, and her court at
Versailles, Fontainebleau, and the Tuileries compared well in splendor
with the traditions of the past.

The emperor's ambitions began to take on a larger form.  Under the
auspices of the government, M. Lesseps commenced a transisthmian canal,
which would open communication between the Mediterranean Sea and the
Red Sea.  Then, in 1862, a less peaceful scheme developed.  An
expedition was planned to Mexico, against which country France had a
small grievance.

The United States was at this time fighting for its life in a civil war
of gigantic proportions.  The time was favorable for a plan conceived
by the emperor to convert Mexico into an empire under a French
protectorate.  The principle known as the Monroe Doctrine forbade the
establishment of any European power upon the Western hemisphere; but
the United States was powerless at the moment to defend it, and by the
time her hands were free, even if she were not disrupted, an Empire of
Mexico would be established, and French troops could defend it.

In a few months the French army was in the city of Mexico, and an
Austrian prince was proclaimed emperor of a Mexican empire.

This ill-conceived expedition came to a tragic and untimely end in
1867.  The civil war ended triumphantly for the Union.  Napoleon,
realizing that, with her hands free, the United States would fight for
the maintenance of the Monroe Doctrine, promptly withdrew the French
army from Mexico, leaving the emperor to his fate.  A republic was at
once established, and the unfortunate Maximilian was ordered to be shot.

The finances of France and the prestige of the emperor had both
suffered from this miserable attempt.  At the same time, something had
occurred which changed the entire European problem in a way most
distasteful to Louis Napoleon.  Prussia, in a seven weeks' war, had
wrenched herself free from Austria (1866).  Instead of a disrupted
United States, which he had expected, there was a disrupted German
Empire which he did not expect!

The triumph of Protestant Prussia was a triumph of liberalism.  It
meant a new political power, a rearrangement of the political problem
in Europe, with Austria and despotism deposed.  This was a distinct
blow to the Emperor's policy, and to the headship in Europe which was
its aim.  Then, too, the Crimea, Magenta, and Solferino looked less
brilliant since this transforming seven-weeks' war, behind which stood
Bismarck with his wide-reaching plans.

His own magnificent scheme of a Hapsburg empire in Mexico under a
French protectorate had failed, and now there had suddenly arisen, as
if out of the ground, a new political Germany which rivalled France in
strength.  The thing to do was to recover his waning prestige by a
victory over Prussia.

The Empress Eugénie, devoutly Catholic in her sympathies, saw, in the
ascendancy of Protestant Prussia and the humiliation of Catholic
Austria, an impious blow aimed at the Catholic faith in Europe.  So, as
the emperor wanted war, and the empress wanted it, it only remained to
make France want it too; for war it was to be.

Only one obstacle existed: there was nothing to fight about!  But that
was overcome.  In 1870 the heart of the people of France was fired by
the news that the French Ambassador had been publicly insulted by the
kindly old King William.  There had been some diplomatic friction over
the proposed occupancy of a vacant throne in Spain by a member of the
Hohenzollern (Prussian) family.

Whether true or false, the rumor served the desired purpose.  France
was in a blaze of indignation, and war was declared.

Not a shadow of doubt existed as to the result as the French army moved
away bearing with it the boy prince imperial, that he might witness the
triumph.  Not only would the French soldiers carry everything before
them, but the southern German States would welcome them as deliverers,
and the new confederation would fall in pieces in their hands.  The
birthday of Napoleon I., August 15th, must be celebrated in Berlin!

This was the way it looked in France.  How was it in Germany?  There
was no North and no South German.  Men and states sprang together as a
unit, under the command of Moltke and the Crown Prince Frederick

The French troops never got beyond their own frontier.  In less than
three weeks they were fighting for their existence on their own soil.
In less than a month the French emperor was a prisoner, and in seven
weeks his empire had ceased to exist.

The surrender of Metz, August 4th, and of Sedan, September 2d, were
monumental disasters.  With the news of the latter, and of the capture
of the emperor, the Assembly immediately declared the empire at an end,
and proclaimed a third republic in France.

Two hundred and fifty thousand German troops were marching on Paris.
Fortifications were rapidly thrown about the city, and the siege, which
was to last four months, had commenced.

The capitulation, which was inevitable from the first, took place in
January, 1871.  The terms of peace offered by the Germans were
accepted, including the loss of Alsace and Lorraine, and an enormous
war indemnity.

The Germans were in Paris, and King William, the Crown Prince (_Unser
Fritz_), Bismarck, and Von Moltke were quartered at Versailles; and in
that place, saturated with historic memories, there was enacted a
strange and unprecedented scene.  On January 18, 1871, in the Hall of
Mirrors, King William of Prussia was formally proclaimed Emperor of a
new German Empire.  Ludwig II., that picturesque young King of Bavaria,
in the name of the rest of the German states, laid their united
allegiance at his feet, and begged him to accept the crown of a united

Moved by his colossal misfortunes, and perhaps partly in displeasure at
having a French republic once more at her door, England offered asylum
to the deposed emperor.  There, from the seclusion of Chiselhurst, he
and his still beautiful Eugénie watched the republic weathering the
first days of storm and stress.


Immediately after the deposition of the emperor a third Republic of
France was proclaimed.  A temporary government was set up under the
direction of MM. Favre, Gambetta, Simon, Ferry, Rochefort, and others
of pronounced republican tendencies.

This was speedily superseded by a National Assembly elected by the
people, with M. Thiers acting as its executive head.

During the siege of Paris an internal enemy had appeared, more
dangerous, and proving in the end far more destructive to the city than
the German army which occupied it.

What is known as the Paris Commune was a mob of desperate men led by
Socialistic and Anarchistic agitators of the kind which at intervals
try to terrorize civilization to-day.

The ideas at the basis of this insurrection were the same as those
which converted a patriotic revolution into a "Reign of Terror" in
1789, and Paris into a slaughter-house in 1792-93.

Twice during the siege had there been violent and alarming outbreaks
from this vicious element; and now it was in desperate struggle with
the government of M. Thiers for control of that city, which they
succeeded in obtaining.  M. Thiers, his government, and his troops were
established at Versailles; while Paris, for two months, was in the
hands of these desperadoes, who were sending out their orders from the
Hôtel de Ville.

When finally routed by Marshal MacMahon's troops, after drenching some
of the principal buildings with petroleum they set them on fire.  The
Tuileries and the Hôtel de Ville were consumed, as were also portions
of the Louvre, the Palais Royal, and the Palais de Luxembourg, and the
city in many places defaced and devastated.

The insurrection was not subdued without a savage conflict, ten
thousand insurgents, it is said, being killed during the last week;
this being followed by severe military executions.  Then, with some of
her most dearly prized historic treasures in ashes, and monuments gone,
Paris, scarred and defaced, had quiet at last; and the organization of
the third republic proceeded.

The uncertain nature of the republican sentiment existing throughout
France at this critical moment is indicated by the character of the
Assembly elected by the people.  More than two-thirds of the members
chosen by France to organize her new republic were _monarchists_!

The name monarchist at that time comprehended three distinct parties,
each with a powerful following, namely:

The LEGITIMISTS, acting in the interest of the direct Bourbon line,
represented by the _Count of Chambord_, the grandson of Charles X.,
called by his party _Henry V_.

The ORLEANISTS, the party desiring the restoration of a limited
monarchy, in the person of the _Count of Paris_, grandson of Louis

The BONAPARTISTS, whose candidate, after the death of the Emperor Louis
Napoleon in 1873, was the young _Prince Imperial_, son of Napoleon III.
[Napoleon II., the Duke of Reichstadt, had died in 1832.]

M. Thiers had not an easy task in harmonizing these various despotic
types with each other, nor in harmonizing them all collectively with
the republic of which he was chief.  He abandoned the attempt in 1873,
and Marshal MacMahon, a more pronounced monarchist than he, succeeded
to the office of president, with the Duc de Broglie at the head of a
reactionary ministry.  It began to look as if there might be a
restoration under some one of the three types mentioned.  The Count of
Paris generously offered to relinquish his claim in favor of the Count
of Chambord (Henry V.), if he would accept the principles of a
constitutional monarchy, which that uncompromising Bourbon absolutely
refused to do.

In the meantime republican sentiment in France was not dead, nor
sleeping.  Calamitous experiences had made it cautious.  Freedom and
anarchy had so often been mistaken for each other, it was learning to
move slowly, not by leaps and bounds as heretofore.

Gambetta, the republican leader, once so fiery, had also grown
cautious.  A patriot and a statesman, he was the one man who seemed to
possess the genius required by the conditions and the time, and also
the kind of magnetism which would draw together and crystallize the
scattered elements of his party.

It was the stimulus imparted by Gambetta which made the government at
last republican in fact as well as in name; and as reactionary
sentiment increased on the surface, a republican sentiment was all the
time gathering in volume and strength below.

The death of the prince imperial, in 1879, in South Africa, was a
severe blow to the imperialists, as the Bonapartists were also called,
who were now represented by Prince Victor, the son of Prince Napoleon.

Although these rival princes occupied a large place upon the stage,
other matters had the attention of the government of France, which
moved calmly on.  The establishing of a formal protectorate over
Algeria belongs to this period.

Ever since the reign of Louis XIV. the hand of France had held Algeria
with more or less success.  The Grand Monarch determined to rid the
Mediterranean of the "Barbary pirates," with which it was infested, and
so they were pursued and traced to their lairs in Algiers and Tunis.
From this time on attempts were made at intervals to establish a French
control over this African colony.  During the reign of Louis Philippe
the French occupation became more assured, and under the Republic a
formal protectorate was declared.

In 1881 Tunis also became a dependency of France; a treaty to that
effect being signed bestowing authority upon a resident-general
throughout the so-called dominions of the bey.

The fact that in 1878 France participated in the negotiations of the
Congress at Berlin, shows how quickly national wounds heal at _the
top_!  And further proof that normal conditions were restored, is given
by the Universal Exposition, to which Paris bravely invited the world
in that same year.

In 1879 M. Grévy succeeded Marshal MacMahon.  It was during M. Grevy's
administration that England and France combined in a dual financial
control over Egypt, in behalf of the interests of the citizens of those
two countries who were holders of Egyptian bonds.

But the event of profoundest effect at this period was the death of
Gambetta in 1882.  The removal of the only man in France whom they
feared, was the signal for renewed activity among the monarchists,
which found expression in a violent manifesto, immediately issued by
Prince Napoleon.  This awoke the apparently dormant republican
sentiment.  After agitated scenes in the Chamber, Prince Napoleon was
arrested; and finally, after a prolonged struggle, a decree was issued
suspending all the Orleans princes from their military functions.

Almost immediately after this crisis the Count of Chambord (Henry V.)
died at Frohsdorf, August, 1883, by which event the Bourbon branch
became extinct; and the Legitimists, with their leader gone, united
with the Orleanists in supporting the Count of Paris.

A small war with Cochin-China was developed in 1884 out of a diplomatic
difficulty, which left France with virtual control over an area of
territory, including Annam and Tonquin, in the far East.

In 1885 M. Grévy was re-elected.  This was, of course, construed as a
vote of approval of the anti-monarchistic tone of the administration.
So republicanism grew bolder.

There had been an increased activity among the agents of the monarchist
party, which found expression in demonstrations of a very significant
character at the time of the marriage of the daughter of the Count of
Paris to the Crown Prince of Portugal.  The republicans were determined
to rid France of this unceasing source of agitation, and their power to
carry out so drastic a measure as the one intended is proof of the
growth which had been silently going on in their party.

The government was given discretionary power to expel from the country
all actual claimants to the throne of France, with their direct heirs.

The Count of Paris and his son, the Duke of Orleans, Prince Napoleon
and his son, Prince Victor, were accordingly banished by presidential
decree, in June, 1886.  And when the Duke of Aumale violently
protested, he too was sent into banishment.

In 1887 M. Grévy was compelled to resign, on account of an attempt to
shield his son-in-law, who was accused of selling decorations,
lucrative appointments, and contracts.  M. Sadi-Carnot, the grandson of
the Minister of War of the same name, who organized the armies at the
revolutionary period, was a republican of integrity and distinction,
and was elected by the combined votes of radicals and conservatives.

Another crisis was at hand--a crisis difficult to explain because of
the difficulty in understanding it.

The extraordinary popularity of General Boulanger, Minister of War, a
military hero who had never held an important command, nor been the
hero of a single military exploit, seems to present a subject for
students of psychological problems; but his name became the
rallying-point for all the malcontents in both parties.  A talent for
political intrigue in this popular hero made it appear at one time as
if he might really be moving on a path leading to a military

The firmness of the government in dealing with what seemed a serious
crisis, was followed by the swift collapse of the whole movement, and
when Boulanger was summoned before the High Court of Justice upon the
charge of inciting a revolution, he fled from the country, and the
incident was closed.

In one important respect the Third Republic differs from the two
preceding it.  A constitution had hitherto been supposed to be the
indispensable starting-point in the formation of a government.  No
country had been so prolific in constitutions as France, which, since
1790, is said to have had no less than seventeen; while England, since
her Magna Charta made her free in 1215, had had none at all.

An eloquent and definite statement of the rights of a people once
seemed as indispensable to a form of government as a creed to a
religious faith.  Perhaps the world, as it grows wiser, is less
inclined to definite statements upon many subjects!  Our own
Constitution, probably the most elastic and wisest instrument of the
kind ever created, has in a century required sixteen amendments to
adapt it to changing conditions.

What is known in France as the Constitution of 1875, is, in fact, a
series of legislative enactments passed within certain periods of time;
these, as in England, serving as a substitute for a Constitution framed
like our own.

The French may have done wisely in trying the English method of
substituting a body of laws, the growth of necessity, for a written
constitution.  But this system, reached in England through the slowly
moving centuries, was adopted in France, not with deliberate purpose at
first, but in order to avoid the clashing of opposing views among the
group of men in charge of the republic in its inception; men who, while
ruling under the name of a republic, really at heart disliked it, and
were, in fact, only enduring it as a temporary expedient on the road to
something better.  And so the republic drifted.  There are times when
it is well to drift; and in this case it has proved most satisfactory.

Not alone the rulers, but the nation itself, was in doubt as to the
sort of government it wanted, or how to attain it after it knew.  It
was experimenting with that most difficult of arts, the art of
governing.  An art which England had been centuries in learning, how
could France be expected to master in a decade?  And when we consider
the conditions and the elements with which this inexperience was
dealing, the dangerous element at the top and the other dangerous
element beneath the surface, the ambitions of the princes, and the
volcanic fires in the lowest class; and when we think of the waiting
nation, hoping, fearing, expecting so much, with a tremendous war
indemnity to be paid, while their hearts were heavy over the loss of
two provinces; when we recall all this, we wonder, not that they made
mistakes and accomplished so little, but that the government moved on,
day by day, step by step, calmly meeting crises from reactionaries or
from radicals, until the confidence of the world was won, and the
stability of republican France assured.

From 1893 to 1896 was a period of colonial expansion for France.  The
Kingdom of Dahomey in Africa was proclaimed a French protectorate.
Madagascar was subjugated, and in 1895 the Province of Hiang-Hung was
ceded by China.

In the year 1894 Sadi-Carnot was assassinated in the streets of Lyons
by an anarchist, and M. Faure succeeded to the presidency.

A political alliance between France and Russia was formed at this time.
It was also during the presidency of M. Faure that the agitation
commenced in consequence of what is known as the _Affaire Dreyfus_.

Captain Alfred Dreyfus, an Alsatian and an artillery officer upon the
general staff, was accused of betraying military secrets to a foreign
power (Germany).  He was tried by court-martial, convicted, sentenced
to be publicly degraded, having all the insignia of rank torn from him,
then to suffer perpetual solitary imprisonment on the Isle du Diable,
off the coast of French Guiana.

The life of the French Republic was threatened by the profound
agitation following this sentence, in which the entire civilized world
joined; the impression prevailing that a punishment of almost
unparalleled severity was being inflicted upon a man whose guilt had
not been proven.

It was the general belief that the bitter enmity of the French army
staff was on account of the Semitic origin of the accused officer, and
that his being an Alsatian opened an easy path to the accusation of
treasonable acts with Germany.

The trial of Captain Dreyfus was conducted with closed doors, and the
sentence was rigorously carried out.

As time passed, the agitation became so profound, and the public demand
for a revision of the case so imperative, that the French court of
appeal finally took the matter under consideration.

The ground upon which this revision was claimed related to an alleged
confession and to the authorship of the _bordereau_, the document which
had been instrumental in procuring a conviction.  Upon these grounds it
was claimed that the judgment pronounced in December, 1894, should be

The court was compelled to yield, and an order was issued for a second
trial--a trial which resulted in revelations so damaging to the heads
of the French army that a revolution seemed imminent.

The accused man, wrecked by the five years on the Isle du Diable, again
appeared before his accusers in the military court at Rennes.  His
leading counsel, Labori, was shot while conducting his case, but, as it
proved, not fatally.  The conduct of the trial was such that the dark
secrets of this sinister affair were never brought from their murky
depths.  And with neither the guilt nor the innocence of the victim
proven, the amazing verdict was rendered, "Guilty, with extenuating

Such was the verdict of the French military court.  That of public
opinion was different.  It was the unanimous belief among other nations
that the case against this unfortunate man had completely collapsed.
But in order to protect the French army from the disgrace which was
inseparable from a vindication of Dreyfus, he must be sacrificed.

The sentence pronounced at the conclusion of the second trial was
imprisonment in a French fortress for ten years.

This sentence was remitted by President Loubet; and, with the brand of
two convictions and the memory of his "degradation" and of Devil's
Island burned deep into his soul, a broken man was sent forth free.

Not the least dramatic incident in this affair was the impassioned
championship of M. Zola, the great novelist, who hurled defamatory
charges at the court, in the hope of being placed under arrest for
libel, and thus be given opportunity to establish facts repressed by
the military court.  By the French law, the accused must justify his
defamatory words, and this was the opportunity sought.

The heroic effort was not in vain.  Zola was found guilty and sentenced
to a year's imprisonment, which he avoided by going into exile.  But
light had been thrown upon the "_Affaire._" And he was content.

Upon the sudden death of M. Faure in 1899, Emile Loubet, a lawyer of
national reputation, was chosen to succeed him, and his administration
commenced while this storm was reaching its final culmination.

With the release of Captain Dreyfus the agitation subsided.  But before
very long another storm-cloud appeared.

A conflict between clericalism and the Government of France is not a
new thing.  Indeed, it was at its height as long ago as the thirteenth
century, when Philip IV. and Pope Boniface had their little
unpleasantness, resulting in Philip's taking the popes into his own
keeping at Avignon, and in the issuance of a "Pragmatic Sanction,"
which defended France from papal encroachments.

The old conflict is still going on, and will continue until the last
frail thread uniting Church and State is severed.

The particular contention which agitates France to-day, inaugurated by
the late Minister Waldeck-Rousseau, and continued by his successor, M.
Combes, had its origin in an act called the "Law of Associations," the
purpose of which was to restrict the political power of the Church by
means of the suppression of religious orders of men and women upon the
soil of France.

This was considered an act of extreme oppression and tyranny on the one
side, and as a measure essential to the safety of the republic on the

In support of their contention the republican party claimed that the
French clergy had always been in alliance with every reactionary
movement, and that every agitation and intrigue against the life of the
Third Republic had had clericalism as its origin and disturbing cause.
Hence, the expulsion of the religious orders was declared to be
essential to the safety of the republic.

But the Law of Associations was only preliminary to the real end in
view, which was accomplished in December, 1905, when a bill providing
for the actual separation of Church and State was passed by the French
Senate.  There was a time when a measure so revolutionary would have
opened the flood-gates of passion, and let loose torrents of invective;
and the calmness with which it was debated in the French Parliament
makes it manifest that the highest intelligence of the nation had
become convinced of its necessity.  The bill provides for the transfer
to the government of all church properties.  This change of ownership
necessitated the taking of inventories in the churches, which many
simple and devout people, incapable of understanding its political
meaning, believed was a religious persecution, and resisted by force.
The bill recently passed is aimed not at the Church, but at
"Clericalism," a powerful element within the Church, which has been
determined to make it a political as well as a spiritual power.  With
the passage of this bill there no longer exists the opportunity for
political and ecclesiastical intrigues, which have made the Church a
hatching-ground for aristocratic conspiracies.  The severance now
accomplished is not complete as with us.  Money will still be
appropriated from the public treasury for the maintenance of churches
in France.  But the power derived from the ownership of valuable
estates is no longer in the hands of men in sympathy with the enemies
of the existing form of government.

Another matter which for a time seemed to threaten the peace of France
has been happily adjusted.  At an international conference held at
Algeciras, for the purpose of considering the demoralized conditions
existing in the State of Morocco, France and Germany came so sharply in
collision that serious consequences seemed imminent, consequences which
might even involve all of Europe.

France, with her territory adjoining the disturbed state, and her long
Algerian coast-line to protect, naturally felt that she was entitled to
special recognition; while Germany, having invited the conference,
claimed a position of leadership.  It was over the special privileges
desired by each that the tension between these two states became so
acute; and finally the one question before the conference was whether
France or Germany should be the custodian of Morocco, insure the safety
of its foreign population, have charge of its finances, and be
responsible for the policing of its coast.  Of course the nation
assigned to this duty would hold the predominant influence in North
African affairs, and it was this large stake which gave such intensity
to the game.  The final award was given to France, and Germany, deeply
aggrieved but with commendable self-control, has accepted the decision.

The elections recently held in France have afforded an opportunity to
discover the sentiment of the nation concerning the policies, radical
and almost revolutionary, which have made the concluding days of M.
Loubet's incumbency an epoch in the life of France.  The result has
been an overwhelming vote of approval.  In M. Fallières, who has been
elected to the presidency, there is found a man even more
representative of a new France than was his predecessor.  A man of the
people, the grandson of a blacksmith, a lawyer by profession, M.
Fallières has been identified with every important movement since he
was first elected Deputy in 1876; has been eight times Minister; was
President of the Senate during the seven years of President Loubet's
term of office; and January 17, 1906, was elected to the highest
position in the state.  The appointment of M. Sarrien, with his
well-known sympathies, to the office of Prime Minister, sets at rest
any doubt as to the policy initiated by M. Waldeck-Rousseau, and
consummated by M. Combes.

With each succeeding administration France has gained in strength and
stability, and in the self-control and calmness which make for both.
The government and the people have learned that the spasmodic way is
not a wise and effectual way.

The monarchist party has disappeared as a serious political factor.
There is peace, external and internal.  And there is prosperity--that
surest guarantee of a continued peace.

One source of the phenomenal prosperity of France in this trying period
since 1871 has been her mastery in the art of beauty.  Leading the
world as she does in this, her art products are sought by every land
and every people.  The nations must and will have them; and so, with an
assured market, her industries prosper, and there is content in the
cottage and wealth in the country at large.

What a change from the time less than four decades ago, when, with
military pride humbled in the dust, with national pride wounded by the
loss of two provinces, and loaded down with an immense war indemnity,
the people set about the task of rehabilitation!  And in what an
incredibly short time the galling debt had been paid, financial
prosperity and political strength restored.

For thirty-four years the republic has existed.  Communistic fires,
always smouldering, have again and again burst forth--demagogues,
fanatics, and those creatures for whom there is no place in organized
society, whose element is chaos, standing ready to fan the flames of
revolt: with Orleanist, Bonapartist, Bourbon, ever on the alert,
watching for opportunity to slip in through the open door of revolution.

Phlegmatic Teutons and slow-moving Anglo-Saxons look in bewilderment at
a nation which has had seven political revolutions in a hundred years!

But France, complex, mobile, changeful as the sea, in riotous enjoyment
of her new-found liberties, casts off a form of government as she would
an ill-fitting garment.  She knows the value of tranquillity--she had
it for one thousand years!  The _people_, who have only breathed the
upper air for a century--the people, who were stifled under feudalism,
stamped upon by Valois kings, riveted down by Richelieu, then prodded,
outraged, and starved by Bourbons, have become a great nation.
Many-sided, resourceful, gifted, it matters not whether they have
called the head of their government consul, emperor, king, or
president.  They are a race of freemen, who can never again be enslaved
by tyrannous system.

There may be in store for France new revolutions and fresh
overturnings.  Not anchored, as is England, in an historic past which
she reveres, and with a singularly gifted and emotional people who are
the sport of the current of the hour, who can predict her future!  But
whatever that future may be, no American can be indifferent to the fate
of a nation to whom we owe so much.  Nor can we ever forget that in the
hour of our direst extremity, and regardless of cost to herself, she
helped us to establish our liberties, and to take our place among the
great nations of the earth.




  Clovis  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  496
  Thierry, Clodomir, Clothaire, Childebert   511
  Clothaire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  559
  Charibert, Gontran, Chilperic, Sigheben    561
  Childebert  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  584
  Theodebert, Thierry II., Clothaire III.    596
  Dagobert  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  628
  Clovis II., Sigheben II.  . . . . . . . .  638
  Clothaire III., Chilperic II.   . . . . .  656
  Thierry III., Dagobert II.  . . . . . . .  673
  Clovis III.   . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  690
  Childebert III.   . . . . . . . . . . . .  695
  Dagobert III.   . . . . . . . . . . . . .  711
  Chilperic III.  . . . . . . . . . . . . .  716
  Thierry IV.   . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  720
  Chilperic IV.   . . . . . . . . . . . . .  741


  Pepin   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  752
  Charlemagne   . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  768
  Louis (The Débonnaire)  . . . . . . . . .  814



  Charles (The Bald)  . . . . . . . . . . .  843
  Louis (The Stammerer) . . . . . . . . . .  877
  Louis III. and Carloman . . . . . . . . .  879
  Charles (The Fat) . . . . . . . . . . . .  884
  Hugh  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  887
  Charles (The Simple)  . . . . . . . . . .  898
  Raoul . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  923
  Louis IV.   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  936
  Lothaire  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  954
  Louis V.  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  986


  Hugh Capet  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  987
  Robert  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  996
  Henry I.  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1031
  Philip I.   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1060
  Louis VI. (The Fat) . . . . . . . . . . . 1108
  Louis VII. (The Young)  . . . . . . . . . 1137
  Philip II. (Philip Augustus)  . . . . . . 1180
  Louis VIII.   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1223
  Louis IX. (The Saint) . . . . . . . . . . 1226
  Philip III. (The Hardy) . . . . . . . . . 1270
  Philip IV. (The Handsome) . . . . . . . . 1285
  Louis X.  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1314
  Philip V.   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1316
  Charles IV. (The Handsome)  . . . . . . . 1322


  Philip VI. (de Valois)  . . . . . . . . . 1328
  John (The Pious)  . . . . . . . . . . . . 1350
  Charles V.  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1364
  Charles VI.   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1380
  Charles VII.  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1422
  Louis XI.   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1461
  Charles VIII.   . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1483


  Louis XII.  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1498


  Francis I.  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1515
  Henry II.   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1547
  Francis II.   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1559
  Charles IX.   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1560
  Henry III.  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1574


  Henry IV.   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1589
  Louis XIII.   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1610
  Louis XIV.  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1643
  Louis XV.   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1715
  Louis XVI.  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1774



  Napoleon Bonaparte  . . . . . . . . . . . 1804


  Louis XVIII.  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1814
  Charles X.  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1824


  Louis Philippe  . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1830



  Louis Napoleon  . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1852



  Adolphe Thiers  . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1871
  Marshal MacMahon  . . . . . . . . . . . . 1873
  Jules Grévy   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1879
  Sadi-Carnot   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1887
  François Felix Faure  . . . . . . . . . . 1894
  Emile Loubet  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1899
  Armand Fallières  . . . . . . . . . . . . 1906


  Abelard, 68, 69
  Academy, The French, 138
  African, 261
  Agincourt, Battle of, 89
  Albigensian War, 66
  Alexander, Emperor of Russia, 213, 215
  Algeria, 246
  Algeciras, 260
  Alsace, 144, 240
  America, 158, 164-167, 175, 176, 183, 196, 197, 209, 236
  Anglo-Saxons, 263
  Angoulême, Duchesse d', 216
  Anne of Austria, 142, 143
  Assembly, National, 181-185, 187-190, 230, 240, 242, 244
  Associations, Law of, 258
  Attila, 22
  Augsburg, League of, 154
  Aumale, Duke of, 249
  Aurelius, Marcus, 14, 18, 20
  Austrasia, 31
  Austria, 142, 162, 198, 199, 202, 203, 204, 206, 211, 230, 233,
   234, 237, 238

  _Babylonian Captivity_, 77
  Bastille, The, 97, 141, 146, 184, 185
  Bayard, Chevalier, 105
  Beauharnais, Eugene, 212
  Beauharnais, Hortense, 212, 226
  Beauharnais, Josephine, 207, 208, 213
  Bismarck, 238, 240
  Black Prince, 82-84
  Blanche of Castile, 69, 70, 73
  Blenheim, Battle of, 156
  Blücher, 219
  Bonaparte, Jerome, 212
  Bonaparte, Joseph, 212
  Bonaparte, Louis, 212, 229
  Bonaparte, Napoleon, 171, 172, 203-215, 218-220, 224
  Bonapartists, 244, 246, 263
  Boulanger, General, 250
  Bourbon, Antony de, 116-118
  Bourbons, 116-118, 129, 244, 263, 264
  Bourgeoisie, 81, 100
  Bretigny, Treaty of, 83
  Britain, 2
  _Burgesses_, 58
  Burgundy, Duke of, 85-89, 97, 105

  Caesar, Julius, 10-12, 15
  Calais, 79
  Campo Formio, Treaty of, 205, 206
  Capet, Hugh, 48
  Carlovingian Kings, 31-48
  Carnot, 249, 253
  Châlons, Battle of, 22
  Chambord, Count of, 244, 245, 248
  Charlemagne, 36, 45
  Charles Martel, 31, 34
  Charles V, 83-85
  Charles VI, 85-88
  Charles VII, 90-96, 98
  Charles VIII, 101-104
  Charles IX, 119, 128
  Charles X, 172, 221, 222, 223
  Christianity, 14-23, 32-34, 49-51
  Church and State, 258
  Cinq Mars, 141
  Clericalism, 258, 259
  Clovis, 10, 24-27, 29
  Cochin-China, War with, 248
  Colbert, 146, 148, 152
  Coligny, Admiral, 115-124
  Combes, 258, 262
  Committee of Public Safety, 191, 199
  Commune, The, 242, 243
  Conciergerie, 191, 193, 199
  Concini, 135, 136
  Condé, 144, 148
  Consulate, 208-210
  Corday, Charlotte, 191, 192
  Crécy, Battle of, 79
  Crimean War, 232
  Crusades, 42, 59-61, 63, 68, 73, 74, 75

  Dahomey, 253
  Danton, 191, 200
  Dauphin, 80
  Desmoulins, Camille, 184
  Directory, 203, 206-208
  _Donation of Pepin_, 34
  _Dreyfus, Affaire_, 253-258
  Dreyfus, Alfred, 253, 257
  Druidism, 14, 20
  Dumouriez, 198, 199

  Edward III of England, 79, 82
  Egypt, 206, 207, 247
  Elba, 215
  Elizabeth, Princess, 189, 195, 197
  Enghien, Duke d', 209
  England, 41, 53, 61-64, 79, 82, 110, 111, 154, 164, 165, 175,
   176, 202, 203, 206, 209, 213, 219, 220, 241, 247, 251
  Eugénie, Empress, 235, 238, 240

  Fallières, 261
  Faure, 253, 257
  Feudal System, 42, 44-46, 85, 98
  Flanders, 108, 149
  Fontenay, Battle of, 40
  Fouquet, 147
  Fouquier-Tinville, 191
  Francis I, 106-112
  Francis II, 116
  Francis Joseph, 211, 213
  Franks, 23
  _Freemen_, 57
  French Parliament, 269
  French Senate, 258
  Fronde, 143

  Galigai, Eleonora, 135-137
  Gallicia, 7
  Gambetta, 245-247
  Gaul, 2-4, 11, 24
  Gauls, 4
  Genevieve, 23
  Germany, 40, 41, 108, 111, 155, 156, 210, 211, 212, 214,
    238-241, 254, 260, 261
  Girondists, 187-189, 193, 197-200
  Godfrey of Boulogne, 60
  Goths, 8, 12, 22, 23
  Greece, 3, 7
  Grévy, 247-249
  Guesclin, Bertrand du, 83, 84
  Guise, Duke of, 115-129
  Gustavus Adolphus, 138, 142

  Hapsburgs, 133, 142, 146, 158, 214, 238
  Henry II, 115, 116
  Henry III, 128, 129
  Henry (IV) of Navarre, 120, 121, 123, 128-134
  Henry V of England, 89, 90
  Holland, 150, 151, 153, 212
  Holy Roman Empire, 39, 108, 133, 211
  Huguenots, 117, 118, 120-131, 137, 141, 152, 153
  Huns, 22

  Indemnity, 253
  Irenaeus, 14
  Italy, 41, 74, 101-103, 105, 106, 204-206, 212, 230, 233-235

  Jacobins, 187-189, 199
  Jena, Battle of, 211
  Joan of Arc, 91-95
  John, King, 80-83

  Kelts, 2-4, 12
  Knights Templar, 77, 189
  Kymrians, 7

  Lafayette, Marquis de, 183, 185, 187, 188, 222
  Lamartine, 225
  La Rochelle, Siege of, 141
  Latin Quarter, 69
  Law, John, 161
  Legitimists, 244, 248
  Leipsic, Battle of, 215
  Lombards, 34, 38
  Lorraine, 240
  Lothaire, 40
  Loubet, Emile, 256, 257, 261
  Louis the Débonnaire, 40
  Louis VI, 58, 59
  Louis VII, 57, 61, 62
  Louis VIII, 69
  Louis IX, 69-73
  Louis XI, 96, 98, 101
  Louis XII, 104, 105
  Louis XIII, 135, 136, 139-142, 148
  Louis XIV, 143, 145-159, 246
  Louis XV, 159-173, 181
  Louis XVI, 133, 172, 174, 175, 177-190, 197, 216
  Louis XVIII, 172, 197, 208, 216-218, 220, 221
  Louis Philippe, 172, 198, 199, 222-226, 247
  Louisiana, 209
  Louvois, 148
  Lutetia, 13
  Luynes, Albert de, 136

  MacMahon, Marshal, 243, 247
  Madagascar, 253
  Magenta, Battle of, 233
  Mahometanism, 32-34
  _Maire du Palais_, 27, 31
  Marat, 184, 191, 192
  Maria Louisa, 214, 215
  Maria Theresa, Empress of Austria, 161
  Marie Antoinette, 164, 172, 174, 186, 193-195, 197
  Marignano, Battle of, 106
  Massillia, 5
  Mazarin, Cardinal, 143, 144, 146
  Medici, Catharine de', 115-128
  Medici, Marie de', 134, 135, 140
  Meroveus, 23, 24
  Merovingian Kings, 23-34, 46, 48
  Metz, Surrender of, 239
  Mexico, 236, 237
  Mirabeau, 182, 183
  Moltke, 239, 240
  Monarchists, 262
  Monroe Doctrine, 236, 237
  Morocco, 260
  Murat, 212

  Nantes, Edict of, 131, 133, 141, 146, 152, 158
  Napoleon Bonaparte, 171, 172, 203-215, 218-220, 224
  Napoleon (III), Louis, 226, 227, 229-239, 241
  Napoleon, Prince, 246, 248, 249
  Necker, 178
  Neustria, 31
  Ney, Marshal, 218, 220
  Normandy, 47, 53, 54, 62, 64, 66
  Normans, 44, 47
  Northmen, 42, 44, 45, 47, 48, 53
  Nymwegen, Peace of, 149, 151

  Orleanists, 244, 248, 263
  Orleans, Duke of, 86-89, 105, 141, 159, 172, 182, 183, 222, 249

  Paris, Count of, 244, 245, 248, 249
  Paris, Siege of, 240, 242, 243
  Pepin, 31, 34, 35, 48
  Peter the Hermit, 59, 60
  Philip Augustus, 62-67
  Philip III, 75
  Philip IV, 75-78
  Philip VI, 78
  Philippe Egalité, 184, 198, 199, 222
  Poitiers, Battle of, 82
  Pope, The, 34, 35, 37-39, 49, 59, 60, 65, 75-77, 107, 113,
    155, 210, 235, 257
  _Pragmatic Sanction_, 107, 162
  Prince Imperial, 244, 246
  Protestantism, 111, 112-114, 138, 142, 153, 158, 238
  Provence, 5, 65, 66, 70
  Prussia, 142, 155, 203, 211, 237

  Ravaillac, 134
  Raymond VII of Toulouse, 65, 66, 70
  Reformation, The, 111, 113
  Republic, Second, 225-231
  Republic, Third, 242 et seq.
  Revolution, French, 166, 167, 179-201
  Revolutionary Tribunal, 189, 193
  Rheinbund, 211
  Richelieu, Cardinal, 137-143, 167, 263
  Robert the Strong, 48, 49
  Robespierre, 183, 191, 200
  _Rois Fainéants_, 29, 30, 47
  Romans, 5-7
  Rome, 5-8, 10-14
  Rousseau, 170, 171
  Russia, 41, 203, 213, 214, 232, 253
  Ryswick, Treaty of, 149

  Sadi-Carnot, 249, 253
  St. Bartholomew, Massacre of, 123-128
  St. Helena, 220
  Salic Law, 27, 78, 79, 129, 146, 161
  Sarrien, 261
  Sedan, Battle of, 240
  Serfs, 46, 57
  Simon, 195
  Solferino, Battle of, 234
  Spain, 41, 69, 105, 108, 122, 123, 133, 142, 146, 149, 158,
    165, 202, 209, 212, 221, 238
  Spanish Succession, War of the, 155
  States-General, 76, 81, 82, 84, 133, 135, 179
  Stuart, Marie, 115, 116, 118
  Sully, Duke of, 133, 133
  Swiss Guard, 188

  Talleyrand, 218
  Temple, The, 189, 195
  Teutons, 263
  Thiers, 228, 243, 243, 244
  Third Republic, 258
  _Tiers État_, 56, 76, 82, 133, 179, 181, 183
  Tilsit, Peace of, 212
  Toulouse, 65, 66, 70
  Tours, Battle of, 34
  Troyes, Treaty of, 89
  "Truce of God," 51, 60
  Turenne, 144, 148
  Turgot, 177, 178

  Utrecht, Treaty of, 149

  Valois, 264
  Varennes, 188
  Verdun, Treaty of, 40, 41
  Versailles, 147, 152, 156, 163, 165, 178, 182, 186, 187, 235,
    240, 243
  Villafranca, Peace of, 234
  Visigoths, 26
  Voltaire, 162, 169

  Waldeck-Rousseau, 258, 262
  Waterloo, Battle of, 219
  Wellington, Duke of, 219
  William, Duke of Normandy, 54
  Williams, Eleazer, 196

  Zola, 257

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Short History of France" ***

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