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Title: Louis XIV. - Makers of History Series
Author: Abbott, John S. C. (John Stevens Cabot), 1805-1877
Language: English
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 Makers of History

 Louis XIV.




Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1870, by


in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington

Copyright, 1898, by LAURA A. BUCK.

[Illustration: LOUIS XIV.]


We all live a double life: the external life which the world sees, and
the internal life of hopes and fears, joys and griefs, temptations and
sins, which the world sees not, and of which it knows but little. None
lead this double life more emphatically than those who are seated upon

Though this historic sketch contains allusions to all the most
important events in the reign of Louis XIV., it has been the main
object of the writer to develop the inner life of the palace; to lead
the reader into the interior of the Louvre, the Tuileries, Versailles,
and Marly, and to exhibit the monarch as a man, in the details of
domestic privacy.

This can more easily be done in reference to Louis XIV. than any other
king. Very many of the prominent members of his household left their
autobiographies, filled with the minutest incidents of every-day life.

It is impossible to give any correct idea of the life of this proud
monarch without allusion to the corruption in the midst of which he
spent his days. Still, the writer, while faithful to fact, has
endeavored so to describe these scenes that any father can safely read
the narrative aloud to his family.

There are few chapters in history more replete with horrors than that
which records the "Revocation of the Edict of Nantes." The facts given
are beyond all possibility of contradiction. In the contemplation of
these scenes the mind pauses, bewildered by the reflection forced upon
it, that many of the actors in these fiend-like outrages were inspired
by motives akin to sincerity and conscientiousness.

The thoughtful reader will perceive that in this long and wicked reign
Louis XIV. was sowing the wind from which his descendants reaped the
whirlwind. It was the despotism of Louis XIV. and of Louis XV. which
ushered in that most sublime of all earthly dramas, the French

          JOHN S. C. ABBOTT.

New Haven, Conn., 1870.


 Chapter                                                    Page

    I. BIRTH AND CHILDHOOD                                   13

   II. THE BOY-KING                                          49

  III. MATRIMONIAL PROJECTS                                  86

   IV. THE MARRIAGE OF THE KING                             121

    V. FESTIVITIES OF THE COURT                             159

   VI. DEATH IN THE PALACE                                  194

  VII. THE WAR IN HOLLAND                                   234

 VIII. MADAME DE MAINTENON                                  268


    X. THE SECRET MARRIAGE                                  330

   XI. INTRIGUES AND WARS                                   359

  XII. LAST DAYS OF LOUIS XIV.                              384



 LOUIS XIV.                                     _Frontispiece._

 THE CASTLE OF BLOIS                                         18

 PALACE OF ST. GERMAIN-EN-LAYE                               23

 THE PALAIS ROYAL                                            31

 PALACE OF THE LUXEMBOURG                                    52

 THE TUILERIES                                               74

 THE CASTLE OF VINCENNES                                     79

 PALACE OF CHANTILLY                                         98

 VIEW OF FONTAINEBLEAU                                      103

 ISLE OF PHEASANTS                                          129

 THE LOUVRE AND THE TUILERIES                               139

 PALACE OF FONTAINEBLEAU                                    145

 CHATEAU MAZARIN                                            157

 CHATEAU DE VAUX                                            176

 CONVENT OF VAL DE GRACE                                    198

 THE PALACE OF ST. CLOUD                                    201

 INTERIOR OF ST. DENIS                                      208

 ST. DENIS                                                  236

 PORTE ST. DENIS                                            254

 MADAME DE MAINTENON                                        273

 PALACE OF VERSAILLES                                       297

 PARTERRE OF VERSAILLES                                     324

 RACINE AND BOILEAU                                         339

 THE TRIANON                                                351

 MARLY                                                      354

 LOUIS XIV. DIRECTING THE SIEGE                             362

 FRONT VIEW OF ST. GERMAIN                                  376






Marriage of Louis XIII.--Character of Louis XIII.--Character of
Anne of Austria.--Cardinal Richelieu.--The Duke of Buckingham.--His
death.--Estrangement of the king and queen.--Joy of the nation.--Birth
of Louis XIV.--Gift of the Pope.--Condition of Paris.--Reconciliation
of the king and queen.--Orders of Louis XIII. respecting the
dauphin.--Ill health of Louis XIII.--The dauphin declared King Louis
XIV.--Last hours of Louis XIII.--Death of Louis XIII.--Louis
XIV. recognized king.--Palais Royal.--Apartments of the queen
regent.--Educational arrangements for Louis XIV.--Speech of Louis
at five years old.--Dislikes the change of teachers.--Interest in
history.--Mazarin's wicked policy.--Henrietta, queen of Charles
I.--Figure and bearing of the king.--His first campaign.--The
cardinal's nieces.--Anecdote.--Feud between Mazarin and the
Parliament.--Alarm of Mazarin.--Escape of the royal family from
Paris.--Flight of the court.--Discomfort of the court at St.
Germain.--Excitement in Paris.--Issue of a parliamentary
decree.--Origin of the names Fronde and Mazarins.--Two rival
courts.--Straw scarce.--Character of Mazarin.--Termination of the
war.--Society reversed.

Louis XIII. of France married Anne of Austria on the 25th of November,
1615. The marriage ceremony was performed with great splendor in the
Cathedral of Bordeaux. The bride was exceedingly beautiful, tall, and
of exquisite proportions. She possessed the whitest and most delicate
hand that ever made an imperious gesture. Her eyes were of matchless
beauty, easily dilated, and of extraordinary transparency. Her small
and ruddy mouth looked like an opening rose-bud. Long and silky hair,
of a lovely shade of auburn, gave to the face it surrounded the
sparkling complexion of a blonde, and the animation of a brunette.[A]

[Footnote A: Louis XIV. et son Siècle.]

The marriage was not a happy one. Louis XIII. was not a man of any
mental or physical attractions. He was cruel, petulant, and jealous.
The king had a younger brother, Gaston, duke of Anjou. He was a young
man of joyous spirits, social, frank, a universal favorite. His moody,
taciturn brother did not love him. Anne did. She could not but enjoy
his society. Wounded by the coldness and neglect of her husband, it is
said that she was not unwilling, by rather a free exhibition of the
fascinations of her person and her mind, to win the admiration of
Gaston. She hoped thus to inspire the king with a more just
appreciation of her merits.

Louis XIII., at the time of his marriage, was a mere boy fourteen
years of age. His father had died when he was nine years old. He was
left under the care of his mother, Mary de Medicis, as regent. Anne of
Austria was a maturely developed and precocious child of eleven years
when she gave her hand to the boy-king of France. Not much discretion
could have been expected of two such children, exposed to the
idleness, the splendors, and the corruption of a court.

Anne was vain of her beauty, naturally coquettish, and very romantic
in her views of life. It is said that the queen dowager, wishing to
prevent Anne from gaining much influence over the mind of the king,
did all she could to lure her into flirtations and gallantries, which
alienated her from her husband. For this purpose she placed near her
person Madame Chevreuse, an intriguing woman, alike renowned for wit,
beauty, and unscrupulousness.

Quite a desperate flirtation arose between Anne and little Gaston, who
was but nine years of age. Gaston, whom the folly of the times
entitled Duke of Anjou, hated Louis, and delighted to excite his
jealousy and anger by his open and secret manifestation of love for
the beautiful Anne. The king's health failed. He became increasingly
languid, morose, emaciate. Anne, young as she was, was physically a
fully developed woman of voluptuous beauty. The undisguised alienation
which existed between her and the king encouraged other courtiers of
eminent rank to court her smiles.

Cardinal Richelieu, notwithstanding his ecclesiastical vows, became
not only the admirer, but the lover of the queen, addressing her in
the most impassioned words of endearment. Thus years of intrigue and
domestic wretchedness passed away until 1624. The queen had then been
married nine years, and was twenty years of age. She had no children.

The reckless, hot-headed George Villiers, duke of Buckingham, visited
the French court to arrange terms of marriage between Henrietta Maria,
sister of Louis XIII., and the Prince of Wales, son of James I. of
England. He was what is called a splendid man, of noble bearing, and
of chivalric devotion to the fair. The duke, boundlessly rich,
displayed great magnificence in Paris. He danced with the queen,
fascinated her by his openly avowed admiration, and won such smiles in
return as to induce the king and Cardinal Richelieu almost to gnash
their teeth with rage.

This flirtation, if we may not express it by a more emphatic phrase,
created much heart-burning and wretchedness, criminations and
recriminations, in the regal palace. In August, 1628, the Duke of
Buckingham, then in England, terminated his wretched and guilty life.
He fell beneath the dagger of an assassin. Anne, disdaining all
dissimulation, wept openly, and, secluding herself from the gayeties
of the court, surrendered herself to grief.

A mutual spirit of defiance existed between the king and queen. Both
were wretched. Such are always the wages of sin. Ten more joyless
years passed away. The rupture between the royal pair was such that
they could scarcely endure each other. Louis himself was the first to
inform the queen of the news so satisfactory to him, so heart-rending
to her, that a dagger had pierced the heart of Buckingham. After this
they met only at unfrequent intervals. All confidence and sympathy
were at an end. It was a bitter disappointment to the queen that she
had no children. Upon the death of the king, who was in very feeble
health, her own position and influence would depend almost entirely
upon her having a son to whom the crown would descend. Louis resided
generally at the Castle of Blois. Anne held her court at the Louvre.

A married life of twenty-two years had passed away, and still the
queen had no child. Both she and her husband had relinquished all hope
of offspring. On the evening of the 5th of December, 1637, the king,
having made a visit to the Convent of the Visitation, being overtaken
by a storm, drove to the Louvre instead of Blois. He immediately
proceeded to the apartments of the queen. Anne was astonished, and did
not disguise her astonishment at seeing him. He, however, remained
until the morrow.

[Illustration: THE CASTLE OF BLOIS.]

Soon after this, to the inexpressible joy of the queen, it appeared
that she was to become a mother. The public announcement of the fact
created surprise and joy throughout the nation. The king was equally
astonished and delighted. He immediately hastened to the Louvre to
offer the queen his congratulations.

The queen repaired to St. Germain-en-Laye, about six miles from
Versailles, to await the birth of her child. Here she occupied, in
the royal palace, the gorgeous apartments in which Henry IV. had
formerly dwelt. The king himself also took up his abode in the palace.
The excitement was so great that St. Germain was crowded with the
nobility, who had flocked to the place in anxious expectancy of the
great event. Others, who could not be accommodated at St. Germain,
stationed couriers on the road to obtain the earliest intelligence of
the result.

On the 5th of September, 1638, the king was greeted with the joyful
tidings of the birth of a son. A vast crowd had assembled in front of
the palace. The king, in the exuberance of his delight, took the child
from the nurse, and, stepping out upon a balcony, exhibited him to the
crowd, exclaiming, "A son! gentlemen, a son!"

The announcement was received with a universal shout of joy. The happy
father then took the babe into an adjoining apartment, where the
bishops were assembled to perform the ordinance of baptism. These
dignitaries of the Church had been kneeling around a temporary altar
praying for the queen. The Bishop of Meaux performed the ceremony. A
Te Deum was then chanted in the chapel of the castle. Immediately
after this, the king wrote an autograph letter to the corporation of
Paris, announcing the joyful tidings. A courier was dispatched with
the document at his highest possible speed.

The enthusiasm excited in the capital surpassed any thing which had
ever before been witnessed. The common people, the nobles, the
ecclesiastics, and the foreign embassadors, vied with each other in
their demonstrations of joy. A few months after, in July, an
extraordinary messenger arrived from the pope, to convey to the august
mother and her child the blessing of the holy father. He also
presented the queen, for her babe, swaddling-clothes which had been
blessed by his holiness. These garments were exceedingly rich with
gold and silver embroidery. They were inclosed in a couple of chests
of red velvet, and elicited the admiration of the royal pair.

The France of that day was very different from that magnificent empire
which now stands in intellectual culture, arts, and arms, prominent
among the nations of the globe. The country was split up into hostile
factions, over which haughty nobles ruled. The roads in the rural
districts were almost impassable. Paris itself was a small and dirty
city, with scarcely any police regulations, and infested with robbers.
There were no lamps to light the city by night. The streets were
narrow, ill paved, and choked with mud and refuse. Immediately after
nightfall these dark and crooked thoroughfares were thronged with
robbers and assassins, whose depredations were of the most audacious

Socially, morally, and intellectually, France was at the lowest ebb.
The masses of the people were in a degraded condition of squalid
poverty and debasement. Still the king, by enormous taxation,
succeeded in wresting from his wretched subjects an income to meet the
expenses of his court, amounting to about four millions of our money.
But the outlays were so enormous that even this income was quite
unavailing, and innumerable measures of extortion were adopted to meet
the deficit.

The king was so much gratified by the birth of a dauphin that for a
time he became quite reconciled to his beautiful and haughty queen.
Two years after the birth of the dauphin, on the 21st of September,
1640, Anne gave birth to a second son, who took the title of Philip,
duke of Anjou. The queen and her two children resided in the
beautiful palace of Saint Germain-en-Laye, where the princes were

A company of French Guards, commanded by Captain Montigni, protected
the castle. Madame de Lausac was the governess of the two children.
The title by which the king's brother was usually designated was
simply Monsieur. But for these children of the king, the crown, upon
the death of the monarch, would descend immediately to Monsieur, the
king's brother. The morals of the times were such that the king was
ever apprehensive that some harm might come to the children through
the intrigues of his brother. Monsieur lived in Paris. The king left
orders with Madame de Lausac that, should his brother visit the queen,
the officers of the household should immediately surround the dauphin
for his protection, and that Monsieur should not be permitted to enter
the palace should he be accompanied by more than three persons.


To Montigni, the captain of the guard, the king gave half of a gold
coin, of which he retained the other half. Montigni was commanded to
watch over the persons of the princes with the utmost vigilance.
Should he receive an order to remove them, or to transfer them to
other hands, he was enjoined not to obey that order, even should it be
in the handwriting of his majesty himself, unless he at the same time
received the other half of the broken coin.

The king, as we have mentioned, had been for some time in feeble
health. Early in the spring of 1643 he became seriously ill. The
symptoms were so alarming as to lead the king, as well as his friends,
to think that death could not be far distant. There are few men so
hardened as to be able to contemplate without some degree of anxiety
death and the final judgment. The king was alarmed. He betook himself
to prayer and to the scrupulous discharge of his religious duties.

In preparation for the great change, he repaired to Saint Germain to
invest the queen with the regency when he should die. His brother,
Monsieur, who had taken the title of the Duke of Orleans, and all the
leading nobles of the court, were present. The king, pale, emaciate,
and with death staring him in the face, was bolstered in his bed. Anne
of Austria stood weeping by his side. She did not love her
husband--she did love power; but the scene was so solemn and so
affecting as to force tears into all eyes. The dauphin was then four
and a half years old. He was declared king, with the title of Louis
XIV., under the regency of his mother until he should attain his

The next day, April 21st, the christening of the dauphin with his new
title took place with great state in the chapel of the palace. After
the celebration of the rite, the dauphin was carried into the chamber
of his dying father, and seated upon the bed by his side. The poor
king, dying in the prime of life, was oppressed with the profoundest
melancholy. There was nothing in the memory of the past to give him
pleasure; nothing in the future to inspire him with well-grounded
hope. Turning to the little prince, who had just been christened with
the royal title, he inquired,

"What is your name, my child?"

"Louis XIV.," the dauphin promptly replied.

"Not yet," said the king, sadly, shaking his head; "but pray God that
it may soon be so."

A few more days of sickness and suffering passed away, during which it
was almost hourly expected that the king would die. Death often comes
to the palace invested with terrors unknown in the cottage. Beneath
his sceptre all gradations and conditions of rank disappear. The
sufferings of the king were such that he longed for release.

On the 13th of May, as the shades of evening were gathering around his
dying bed, he anxiously inquired of his physicians if it were possible
that he could live until morning. They consulted together, and then
informed him that they did not think it possible.

"God be praised!" the king replied. "I think it is now time that I
should take leave of all whom I love."

The royal household was immediately assembled around the couch of the
dying monarch. He had sufficient strength to throw his arms around the
neck of the queen, and to press her tenderly to his heart. In such an
hour past differences are forgotten. In low and broken tones of voice,
the king addressed the queen in a few parting words of endearment.

The dauphin was then placed in his arms. Silently, but with tearful
eyes, he pressed his thin and parched lips to both cheeks and to the
brow of the child, who was too young to comprehend the solemn import
of the scene.

His brother, Monsieur, the duke of Orleans, the king had never loved.
In these later years he had regarded him with implacable hostility.
But, subdued by the influences of death, he bade that brother an
eternal adieu, with even fond caresses. Indeed, he had become so far
reconciled to Monsieur that he had appointed him lieutenant general of
the kingdom, under the regency of Anne of Austria, during the minority
of the dauphin.

Several of the higher ecclesiastics were present, who had assisted in
preparing him to die. He affectionately embraced them all, and then
requested the Bishop of Meaux to read the service for the dying. While
it was being read he sank into a lethargy, and never spoke again. He
died in the forty-second year of his age, after a reign of
thirty-three years, having ascended the throne when but nine years

Immediately after the death of the king, Anne of Austria held a
private interview with Monsieur, in which they agreed to co-operate in
the maintenance of each other's authority. The Parliament promptly
recognized the queen as regent, and the Duke of Orleans as lieutenant
general, during the minority of the dauphin.

The Duke de Grammont, one of the highest nobles of France, and a
distinguished member of the court of Louis XIII., had a son, the Count
de Guiche, a few months older than the dauphin. This child was
educated as the play-fellow and the companion in study of the young
king. One of the first acts of Anne of Austria was to assemble the
leading bodies of the realm to take the oath of allegiance to her son.
The little fellow, four and a half years old, arrayed in imperial
robes, was seated upon the throne. The Count de Guiche, a very sedate,
thoughtful, precocious child, was placed upon the steps, that his
undoubted propriety of behavior might be a pattern to the infant king.
Both of the children behaved remarkably well.

Soon after this, at the close of the year 1643, the queen, with her
household, who had resided during the summer in the palace of the
Louvre, took up her residence in what was then called the Cardinal
Palace. This magnificent building, which had been reared at an
enormous expense, had been bequeathed by the Cardinal Richelieu to the
young king. But it was suggested that it was not decorous that the
king should inhabit a mansion which bore the name of the residence of
a subject. Therefore the inscription of _Cardinal Palace_ was effaced
from above the doorway, and that of _Palais Royal_ placed in its
stead. The palace had cost the cardinal a sum nearly equal to a
million of dollars. This ungrateful disregard of the memory of the
cardinal greatly displeased his surviving friends, and called forth
earnest remonstrance. But all expostulations were in vain. From that
day to this the renowned mansion has been known only as the "Palais
Royal." The opposite engraving shows the palace as left by the
cardinal. Since his day the building has been greatly enlarged by
extending the wings for shops around the whole inclosure of the

Louis XIV. was at this time five years old. The apartments which had
been occupied by Richelieu were assigned to the dauphin. His mother,
the queen regent, selected for herself rooms far more spacious and
elegant. Though they were furnished and embellished with apparently
every appliance of luxury, Anne, fond of power and display, expended
enormous sums in adapting them to her taste. The cabinet of the
regent, in the gorgeousness of its adornments, was considered the
wonder of Paris.

[Illustration: THE PALAIS ROYAL.]

Cardinal Mazarin had also a suite of rooms assigned him in the palace
which looked out upon the Rue des bons Enfans. These households
were quite distinct, and they were all surrounded with much of the
pageantry of royalty. The superintendence of the education of the
young prince was intrusted to the cardinal. He had also his governor,
his sub-governor, his preceptor, and his valet de chambre, each of
whom must have occupied posts of honor rather than of responsibility.
The Marchioness de Senecey, and other ladies of high rank, were
intrusted with the special care of the dauphin until he should attain
the age of seven years.

Thus the court of the baby-king was quite imposing. From his earliest
years he was accustomed to the profoundest homage, and was trained to
the most rigid rules of etiquette. The dauphin early developed a
fondness for military exercises. Very eagerly he shouldered the
musket, brandished the sword, and beat the drum. The temperament of
his brother Philip, the duke of Anjou, was very different: he was
remarkably gentle, quiet, and affectionate. Gradually the baby-court
of the dauphin was increased by the addition of other lads. The young
king was the central luminary around whom they all revolved. By them
all the dauphin was regarded with a certain kind of awe, as if he
were a being of a superior, almost of a celestial race. These lads
were termed "children of honor." They always addressed the king, and
were addressed in return, with the formality of full-grown men. One
day a little fellow named Lomenie delighted the king with a gift. The
king was amusing himself with a cross-bow, which for the time being
happened to be in special favor. He loaned the bow for a few moments
to Lomenie. Soon, however, anxious to regain the valued plaything, he
held out his hand to take it back. His governess, the Marchioness de
Senecey, said to him, aside,

"Sire, kings give what they lend."

Louis, immediately approaching his companion, said, calmly, "Monsieur
de Lomenie, keep the cross-bow. I wish that it were something of more
importance; but, such as it is, I give it to you with all my heart."

This was a speech of a boy of five years old to a companion of the
same age. When the dauphin reached his seventh birthday, a great
change took place in his household. All his female attendants were
withdrawn, and he was placed exclusively under the charge of men. It
is said that this change was at first the occasion of much grief to
him. He had become much attached to many of the ladies, who had
devoted themselves to the promotion of his happiness. We are told that
he was greatly chagrined to find that none of the gentlemen of his
court could tell him any of those beautiful fairy tales with which the
ladies had often lulled him to sleep. In conference with the queen
upon the subject, it was decided that M. Laporte, his first valet de
chambre, should read to him every night a chapter of a very popular
history of France. The dauphin soon became greatly interested in the
narrative. He declared that he, when he grew up, would be a
Charlemagne, a St. Louis, a Francis First, and expressed great
abhorrence of the tyrannical and slothful kings.

The pleasure which the little king took in these historical readings
daily increased. Cardinal Mazarin accidentally found out what was
going on, and was greatly displeased. He was anxious that the
intellectual powers of the king should not be developed, for the
cardinal desired to grasp the reins of government with his own hands.
To do this, it was necessary that the king should be kept ignorant,
and should be incited only to enervating indulgence.

Scornfully the cardinal remarked, "I presume the governor of the king
must put on his shoes and stockings, as I perceive his valet de
chambre is teaching him history."

The young king entertained an instinctive aversion to the proud
cardinal, who assumed imperial airs, and who was living in splendor
far surpassing that of the regent or of the child-king. Those who
surrounded the prince were equally inimical to the cardinal-minister,
who, in that age of superstition and fanaticism, had attained such
power that the regent herself stood in awe of him.

Henrietta, queen of England, wife of the unfortunate Charles I., was a
daughter of Henry IV., and sister of Louis XIII. She was consequently
aunt to the dauphin. The troubles in England, which soon led to the
beheading of the king her husband, rendered it necessary for her to
escape to France. Her brother, Monsieur, duke of Orleans, went to the
coast to receive his unhappy and royal sister. As they approached
Paris, the queen regent and her son the king rode out to meet them.
Henrietta took a seat in the same carriage with their majesties, and
returned with them to the Louvre. The pallid cheeks and saddened
features of the English queen proclaimed so loudly the woes with
which she was stricken as to exert universal sympathy.

The young king at seven years of age was tall, muscular, and excelled
in all physical exercises; but the villainous cardinal had endeavored
in every way to dwarf his intellect, so that his mind remained almost
a blank. Both the young king and his brother at this early age had
acquired a very remarkable degree of courtly grace. A chronicler of
the times, speaking of the bearing of Louis at a court wedding, says,

"The king, with the gracefulness which shines in all his actions, took
the hand of the Queen of Poland, and conducted her to the platform,
where his majesty opened the dance, and was followed by nearly all the
princes, princesses, great nobles, and ladies of the court. At its
termination, the king, with the same grace and majestic deportment,
conducted the young queen to her place. The king then danced a second
time, and led out the Duke of Anjou with such skill that every one was
charmed with the polite bearing of these two young princes."

Early in the year 1646, the king, not yet quite eight years old, was
conducted upon what was singularly called his first campaign. The
queen and her son repaired to Amiens, where they sojourned for a short
time with the army, and established a very brilliant court. When the
army left Amiens for Flanders, the regent and her son returned from
their campaign.

The infant court of the monarch was now established at Paris. The
ambitious cardinal had brought from Italy several little children, his
relatives, the eldest of whom had attained but her twelfth year. They
were immediately introduced to the court of Louis XIV. The wealth of
the cardinal was such, and his influence so great, that, young as
these his nieces were, they were instantly surrounded by admirers. The
Duke of Orleans, who hated the cardinal and all that belonged to him,
bitterly remarked,

"There is such a throng about those little girls that I doubt if their
lives are safe, and if they will not be suffocated."

The boy-king, however, notwithstanding his dislike for the cardinal,
received the little girls with that gallantry for which throughout
life he was distinguished.

Very early he began to develop quite a positive character. On one
occasion the courtiers were speaking in his presence of the absolute
power exercised by the sultans of Turkey. Several very striking
examples were given. The young prince, who had listened attentively,

"That is as it should be; that is really reigning."

"Yes, sire," pertinently replied Marshal d'Estrées, "but two or three
of those sultans have, within my memory, been strangled."

The Prince de Condé inquired of Laporte, the first valet of the king,
respecting the character his young majesty was developing. Upon being
told that he was conscientious and intelligent, he replied, "So much
the better. There would be no pleasure in obeying a fool, and no honor
in being commanded by a bad man."

Cardinal Mazarin, the prime minister, who looked with jealousy upon
any development of superior intelligence in the dauphin, said to
Marshal de Grammont, "Ah! sir, you do not know his majesty. There is
enough stuff in him to make four kings and an honest man."

There had gradually sprung up a deadly feud between the court, headed
by the tyrannical minister Mazarin on the one side, and by the
Parliament on the other. The populace of Paris were in sympathy with
the Parliament. Many of the prominent nobles, some even of royal
blood, detesting the haughty prime minister, espoused the
Parliamentary cause. There were riots in Paris. Affairs looked very
threatening. Mazarin was alarmed, and decided to escape from Paris
with the court to the palace of St. Germain. There he could protect
the court with an ample military force. He thought, also, that he
should be able to cut off the supply of provisions from the capital,
and thus starve the city into subjection.

It was necessary to move with much caution, as the people were greatly
agitated, were filling the streets with surging crowds, and would
certainly prevent the removal of the king should they suspect the
design. The night of the 5th of January was selected as a time in
which to attempt the escape. The matter was kept profoundly secret
from most of the members of the royal household.

At three o'clock in the morning a carriage was drawn up in the gate of
the royal garden. The queen regent, who, to avoid suspicion, had
retired to bed at the usual hour, had in the mean time risen and was
prepared for her flight. The young king and his brother were awoke
from their sleep, hurriedly dressed, and conveyed to the carriage in
waiting. The queen regent, with several other prominent members of the
court, descended the back stairs which led from the queen's apartment
and joined the children. Immediately one or two other carriages drove
up, and the whole party entered them, and by different routes, through
the dark and narrow streets, left the city. It was a short ride of
about twelve miles.

Other prominent members of the court, residing in different parts of
the city, had been apprised of the movement, so that at five o'clock
in the morning twenty carriages, containing one hundred and fifty
persons, drove into the court-yard of the palace. One of the ladies
who accompanied the expedition, Mademoiselle Montpensier, gives the
following graphic description of the scene:

"When we arrived at St. Germain we went straight to the chapel to hear
mass. All the rest of the day was spent in questioning those who
arrived as to what they were doing in Paris. The drums were beating
all over the city, and the citizens had taken up arms. The Countess
de Fiesque sent me a coach, and a mattress, and a little linen. As I
was in so sorry a condition, I went to seek help at the Chateau Neuf,
where _Monsieur and Madame_ were lodged; but Madame had not her
clothes any more than myself. Nothing could be more laughable than
this disorder. I lodged in a large room, well painted and gilded, with
but little fire, which is not agreeable in the month of January. My
mattress was laid upon the floor, and my sister, who had no bed, slept
with me. Judge if I were agreeably situated for a person who had slept
but little the previous night, with sore throat and violent cold.

"Fortunately for me, the beds of Monsieur and Madame arrived. Monsieur
had the kindness to give me the room which he vacated. As I was in the
apartment of Monsieur, where no one knew that I was lodged, I was
awoke by a noise. I drew back my curtain, and was much astonished to
find my chamber quite filled by men in large buff skin collars, who
appeared surprised to see me, and who knew me as little as I knew

"I had no change of linen, and my day chemise was washed during the
night. I had no women to arrange my hair and dress me, which is very
inconvenient. I ate with Monsieur, who keeps a very bad table. Still I
did not lose my gayety, and Monsieur was in admiration at my making no
complaint. It is true I am a creature who can make the best of every
thing, and am greatly above trifles. I remained in this state ten
days, at the end of which time my equipage arrived, and I was very
glad to have all my comforts. I then went to lodge in the chateau
Vieux, where the queen was residing."[B]

[Footnote B: There were at that time two palaces at St. Germain. The
old palace, originally built by Charles V., and in the alteration of
which Louis XIV. spent over a million of dollars, still remains. The
new palace, constructed by Henry IV. about a quarter of a mile from
the other, is now in ruins.]

At a very early hour in the morning the news was circulated through
the streets of Paris that the court had fled from the city, taking
with it the young king. The excitement was terrible, creating
universal shouts and tumults. All who were in any way connected with
the court attempted to escape in various disguises to join the royal
party. The populace, on the other hand, closed the gates, and
barricaded the streets, to prevent their flight. In the midst of this
confusion, a letter was received by the municipal magistrates, over
the signature of the boy-king, stating that he had been compelled to
leave the capital to prevent the seizure of his person by the
Parliament, and urging the magistrates to do all in their power for
the preservation of order and for the protection of property. The king
also ordered the Parliament immediately to retire from the city to

The Parliament refused to recognize the order, declaring "that it did
not emanate from the monarch himself, but from the evil counselors by
whom he was held in captivity." Upon the reception of this reply, the
queen regent, who had surrounded her palace at St. Germain with a
thousand royal troops, acting under the guidance of Mazarin, issued a
decree forbidding the villages around Paris sending into the capital
either bread, wine, or cattle. Troops were also stationed to cut off
such supplies. This attempt to subdue the people by the terrors of
famine excited intense exasperation. A decree was promptly issued by
the Parliament stating,

"Since Cardinal Mazarin is notoriously the author of the present
troubles, the Parliament declares him to be the disturber of the
public peace, the enemy of the king and the state, and orders him to
retire from the court in the course of this day, and in eight days
more from the kingdom. Should he neglect to do this, at the expiration
of the appointed time all the subjects of the king are called upon to
hunt him down."

At the same time, men-at-arms were levied in sufficient numbers to
escort safely into the city all those who would bring in provisions.
The Parliament, from the populace of Paris, could bring sixty thousand
bayonets upon any field of battle. Thus very serious civil war was

As we have mentioned, many of the nobles, some of whom were allied to
the royal family, assuming that they were not contending against their
legitimate sovereign, the young king, but against the detested
Mazarin, were in cordial co-operation with the Parliament. The people
in the rural districts were also in sympathy with the party in Paris.

The court party was now called "The _Mazarins_," and those of the
Parliament "The _Fronde_." The literal meaning of the word fronde is
sling. It is a boy's plaything, and when skillfully used, an
important weapon of war. It was with the sling that David slew
Goliath. During the Middle Ages this was the usual weapon of the foot
soldiers. Mazarin had contemptuously remarked that the Parliament were
like school boys, _fronding in the ditches_, and who ran away at the
approach of a policeman. The Parliament accepted the title, and
adopted the _fronde_ or _sling_ as the emblem of their party.

There were now two rival courts in France. The one at St. Germain was
in a state of great destitution. The palace was but partially
furnished, and not at all capable of affording comfortable
accommodations for the crowd which thronged its apartments. Nothing
could be obtained from Paris. Their purses were empty. The rural
population was hostile, and, while eager to carry their products to
Paris, were unwilling to bring them to St. Germain. Madame de
Motteville states in her memoirs "that the king, queen, and cardinal
were sleeping upon straw, which soon became so scarce that it could
not be obtained for money."

The court of the Fronde was assembled at the Hotel de Ville in Paris.
There all was splendor, abundance, festive enjoyment. The high rank
of the leaders and the beauty of the ladies gave éclat to the

Cardinal Mazarin was not only extortionate, but miserly. He had
accumulated an enormous property. All this was seized and appropriated
by the Fronde. Though there were occasional skirmishes between the
forces of the two factions, neither of them seemed disposed to plunge
into the horrors of civil war.

The king sent a herald, clad in complete armor and accompanied by two
trumpeters, to the Parliament. The Fronde refused to receive the
herald, but decided to send a deputation to the king to ascertain what
overtures he was willing to make. After a lengthy conference a not
very satisfactory compromise was agreed upon, and the royal fugitives
returned to Paris. It was the 5th of April, 1650. A Te Deum was
chanted with great pomp at the cathedral of Notre Dame.

"Thus terminated the first act of the most singular, bootless, and, we
are almost tempted to add, burlesque war which, in all probability,
Europe ever witnessed. Throughout its whole duration society appeared
to have been smitten with some moral hallucination. Kings and
cardinals slept on mattresses, princesses and duchesses on straw.
Market-women embraced princes, prelates governed armies, court ladies
led the mob, and the mob, in its turn, ruled the city."[C]

[Footnote C: Louis XIV. and the Court of France, vol. i., p, 262.]




M. de Retz.--Fears of Mazarin.--Escape of the cardinal.--Dangers
of civil war.--Alarm and energy of De Retz.--The populace
aroused.--Palace of the Luxembourg.--Discovery of the attempted flight
of the royal family.--Haughty reply of Anne of Austria.--Courage of
the queen mother.--Respectful conduct of the populace.--Fortitude of
the regent.--The queen regent dissembles.--Vigilance of
Monsieur.--Cardinal Mazarin in exile.--Majority of the dauphin
attained.--Imposing ceremony.--Appearance of Louis XIV.--Address of
Louis.--Address of the queen regent.--Reply of Louis.--Power of the
King of France.--Gallantry of Louis.--Influence of Anne and Mazarin
upon Louis.--Conflict between the court and Parliament.--Mazarin
arrives in France.--Civil war inaugurated.--Mazarin's army
defeated.--Depression of the regent.--_Monsieur._--Ludicrous quarrel
of Louis and his brother.--Embarrassment of the court.--Conflict at
Etampes.--Destitution of Louis XIV.--Scenes of the conflict at
Etampes.--Retreat of Condé.--Battle at St. Antoine.--Cardinal Mazarin
forced to retire.--The king invited to return.--The Duke of Orleans
retires to Blois.--Doom of the leaders of the Fronde.--Respectful
refusal of De Retz.--Orders for his arrest.--Treachery of Anne of
Austria.--Arrest of De Retz.--Return of Mazarin.--First care of
Mazarin.--Festivities at court.--Approaching coronation.--Paucity of
notabilities at the coronation.--The king repairs to Stenay.--Louis in
the trenches.--Defeat of Condé.

The reconciliation between the court and the Fronde was very
superficial. The old antagonism soon reappeared, and daily grew more
rancorous. To add to the embarrassment of the court, _Monsieur_, the
duke of Orleans, became alienated from Mazarin, and seemed inclined to
join the Fronde. The most formidable antagonist of the cardinal in the
Parliament was M. de Retz. He was coadjutor of the Archbishop of
Paris, a man of consummate address and great powers of eloquence.

The struggle between De Retz and Mazarin soon became one of life and
death. The coadjutor was at length imboldened to offer a decree in
Parliament urging the king to banish from his presence and his
councils Cardinal Mazarin. This measure threw the court into
consternation. The cardinal was apprehensive of arrest. Some of his
friends urged him to retire immediately to a fortress. Others
proposed to garrison the Palais Royal and its neighborhood with an
efficient guard.

From the saloons of the palace the shouts were heard of the excited
populace swarming through the streets. No one could tell to what
extremes of violence they might proceed. Warned by these hostile
demonstrations, the cardinal decided to escape from Paris. At ten
o'clock at night he took leave of the queen regent, hastened to his
apartments, exchanged his ecclesiastical costume for a dress in which
he was entirely disguised, and on foot threaded the dark streets to
escape from the city. Two of his friends accompanied him. At the
Richelieu Gate they took horses, which were awaiting them there, and
in two hours alighted at the palace of St. Germain.

M. de Retz, through his spies, was immediately informed of the flight
of the cardinal. He at once hastened to communicate the intelligence
to _Monsieur_. The duke at first could not credit the statement, as he
felt assured that Mazarin would not have left without taking the young
king with him. Should the cardinal, in his retreat, gain possession of
the king, in whose name he would issue all his orders, it would be
hardly possible to avoid the horrors of a desolating civil war. All
minds in Paris, from the highest to the lowest, were thrown into a
state of the most intense excitement.

On the night of the second day after the cardinal's flight, M. de Retz
was awakened by a messenger, who informed him that the Duke of Orleans
was anxious to see him immediately at the palace of the Luxembourg.
The coadjutor rose, hastily dressed, and in great anxiety repaired to
the palace. The duke, though lieutenant general of the kingdom, was a
very timid man, and exceedingly inefficient in action. As they entered
the chamber of the duke, he listlessly said to M. de Retz,

"It is just as you said. The king is about to leave Paris; what shall
we do? I do not see what can be done to prevent it."

The resolute coadjutor replied, "We must immediately take possession
of the city gates."

But the inert and weak duke brought forward sundry silly excuses. He
had not sufficient force of character or moral courage to commit
himself to any decisive course of action. The only measure he could be
induced to adopt was to send a message to the queen regent, imploring
her to reflect upon the consequences which would inevitably result
from the removal of the king from Paris. In the mean time, the
resolute and fearless coadjutor sent his emissaries in all directions.
The populace were aroused with the cry that Mazarin was about to carry
off the king. The gates of the city were seized. Mounted patrols
traversed the streets urging the citizens to arms. An enormous crowd
of excited men and women rushed toward the Palais Royal.


The carriages were, in fact, at that hour, at the appointed rendezvous
for the midnight flight of the king and his attendants. The young
monarch was already in his traveling dress, just about to descend the
stairs of the palace, when the queen was apprised, by the tumult in
the streets, that the design was discovered, and that consequently its
execution was impracticable.

With the utmost precipitancy, the traveling dress of the king was
removed, and he was robed in his night garments, replaced in bed, and
urged to feign that he was asleep. Scarcely was this accomplished ere
one of the officers of the household entered and announced to the
queen that the exasperated mob was threatening the palace, insisting
upon seeing the king, that they might satisfy themselves that he had
not been carried away. While he was speaking, another messenger
entered with the announcement that the mob had already proceeded to
violence, and were tearing down the palisades of the palace. While he
was yet speaking, a messenger from the Duke of Orleans arrived,
imploring the queen regent not to attempt the removal of the king, and
assuring her that it was impossible to do so, since the citizens were
resolved to prevent it.

The queen, with dignity, listened to all. To the messenger of the Duke
of Orleans she haughtily replied,

"Say to the duke that he, instigated by the coadjutor, has caused this
tumult, and that he has power to allay it. That nothing can be more
unfounded than the idea that there has been any design to remove the
king. That both his majesty and his brother, the Duke of Anjou, are
asleep in their beds, as I myself had been until the uproar in the
streets had caused me to rise." To satisfy the messenger, M. de
Souches, she led him into the chamber of the king, and showed him his
majesty apparently soundly asleep.

As they were softly retiring from the room, the outcry of the populace
filling the court-yard was heard shouting "The king! the king! we must
see the king." The queen regent hesitated for a moment, and then, with
wonderful presence of mind, and with moral and physical courage rarely
equaled, turning to the envoy of _Monsieur_, said,

"Say to the people that the doors of the palace shall be immediately
thrown open, and that every one who wishes may enter the chamber of
the king. But inform them that his majesty is asleep, and request them
to be as quiet as is possible."

M. Souches obeyed. The doors were opened. The mob rushed in.
Nevertheless, contrary to all expectation, they had no sooner reached
the royal apartment than their leaders, remembering that their king
was sleeping, desired the untimely visitors to proceed in perfect
quiet. As the human tide moved onward, their very breathing was
suppressed. They trod the floor with softest footsteps. The same
tumultuous multitude that had howled, and yelled, and threatened
outside the gates, now, in the chamber of the sovereign, became calm,
respectful, and silent. They approached the royal bed with a feeling
of affectionate deference, which restrained every intruder from
drawing back the curtains.

The queen herself performed this office. She stood at the pillow of
her son, beautiful in features, of queenly grace in form and stature.
Pale, calm, and dignified as though she were performing some ordinary
court ceremonial, she gathered back the folds of the velvet drapery,
and revealed to the gaze of the people their young sovereign in all
the beauty of youth, and apparently in profound slumber.

This living stream of men and women from the streets of Paris
continued to flow through the chamber until three o'clock in the
morning, entering at one door and passing out at its opposite.
Through this trying scene the queen never faltered.

"Like a marble statue," writes Miss Pardoe, "she retained her
position, firm and motionless, her majestic figure drawn haughtily to
its full height, and her magnificent arm resting in broad relief upon
the crimson draperies. And still the boy-king, emulating the example
of his royal parent, remained immobile, with closed eyes and steady
breathing, as though his rest had remained unbroken by the incursion
of his rebellious subjects. It was a singular and marked passage in
the life of both mother and son."[D]

[Footnote D: Louis XIV. and the Court of France, vol. i., page 351.]

In those days and at that court falsehood was deemed an indispensable
part of diplomacy. In the afternoon of the same day in which the scene
we have described occurred, the queen assembled in her saloon in the
palace the prominent magistrates of the city. With firm voice and
undaunted eye, she assured them that she had never entertained the
slightest idea of removing his majesty from the city. She enjoined it
upon them vigilantly to continue to guard the gates, that the populace
might be convinced that no design of escape was cherished. Her words
were not believed; her directions were obeyed. The gates were rigidly
closed. Thus the king was a prisoner.

The apprehensions of the Fronde, that by some stratagem the king might
be removed, were so great that _Monsieur_ dispatched a gentleman of
his household every night to ascertain if the king were quietly in his
bed. The messenger, M. Desbuches, carried a nightly greeting to the
queen, with orders not to leave the Palais Royal without seeing the
young sovereign. The excuse for this intrusion was, that _Monsieur_
could not, without this evidence, satisfy the excited citizens that
the king was safe. This was a terrible humiliation to the queen

Cardinal Mazarin, having passed the night at St. Germain, commenced
traveling by slow stages toward Havre. He was expecting every hour to
be joined by the queen regent and other members of the royal
household. He was, however, overtaken by a courier, who announced to
him what had transpired in Paris, and that the escape of the royal
family was impossible. The cardinal thus found himself really in
exile, and earnest endeavors were made by the Fronde to induce the
queen regent to secure a cardinal's hat for M. de Retz, and make him
her prime minister. The last act of the queen regent was the issuing
of a decree that Mazarin was banished forever from the kingdom.

Such was the posture of affairs when, on the 5th of September, 1651,
the minority of the dauphin ceased. He now entered upon his fourteenth
year, and, immature boy as he was, was declared to be the absolute
monarch of France.

It was immediately announced to the Parliament by the grand master of
ceremonies that on the seventh day of the month the king would hold
his bed of justice. This name was given to the throne which the king
took at extraordinary meetings of Parliament. The bed, or couch, was
furnished with five cushions, and stood under a gorgeous canopy. Upon
this couch the king extended himself, leaning upon the cushions.

The ceremony was attended with all the pomp which the wealth and taste
of the empire could create. As, in the morning, the court left the
Palais Royal, a band of trumpeters led the van, causing the air to
resound with their bugle peals. These were followed by a troop of
light-horse, succeeded by two hundred of the highest nobility of
France, splendidly mounted and in dazzling array. But it is vain to
attempt to describe the gorgeous procession of dignitaries, mounted on
tall war-horses, caparisoned with housings embroidered with silver and
gold, and accompanied by numerous retainers. The attire of these
attendants, from the most haughty man of arms to the humblest page,
was as varied, picturesque, and glittering as human ingenuity could

The young king himself rode upon a magnificent cream-colored charger.
He was a beautiful boy, well formed and tall for his age. Apparently
deeply impressed with the grandeur of the occasion, he appeared calm
and dignified to a degree which attracted the admiration of every
beholder. As he sat gracefully upon his horse, he appeared almost like
a golden statue, for his dress was so elaborately embroidered with
gold that neither its material or its color could be distinguished.
His high-mettled charger became frightened by the shouts of "Long live
the king" which burst so enthusiastically from the lips of the crowd.
But Louis managed the animal with so much skill and self-possession
as to increase the admiration with which all seemed to regard him.
After attending mass, the young monarch took his seat in the
Parliament. Here the boy of thirteen, covering his head, while all the
notabilities of France stood before him with heads uncovered, repeated
the following words:

"GENTLEMEN,--I have attended my Parliament in order to inform you
that, according to the law of my kingdom, I shall myself assume its
government. I trust that, by the goodness of God, it will be with
piety and justice. My chancellor will inform you more particularly of
my intentions."

The chancellor then made a long address. At its conclusion the queen
mother rose and said to her son:

"SIRE,--This is the ninth year in which, by the last will of the
deceased king, my much honored lord, I have been intrusted with the
care of your education and the government of the state. God having by
his will blessed my endeavors, and preserved your person, which is so
precious to your subjects, now that the law of the kingdom calls you
to the rule of this monarchy, I transfer to you, with great
satisfaction, the power which had been granted me to govern. I trust
that God will aid you with his strength and wisdom, that your reign
may be prosperous."

To this the king replied, "I thank you, madame, for the care which it
has pleased you to take of my education and the administration of my
kingdom. I pray you to continue to me your good advice, and desire
that, after myself, you should be the head of my council."

The mother and the son embraced each other, and then resumed their
conspicuous seats on the platform. The king's brother, Philip, duke of
Anjou, next rose, and, sinking upon his knee, took the oath of
allegiance to his royal brother. He was followed in this act by all
the civil and ecclesiastical notabilities. The royal procession
returned to the gates of the Palais Royal, greeted apparently by the
unanimous acclamations of the people.

Thus a stripling, who had just completed his thirteenth year, was
accepted by the nobles and by the populace as the absolute and
untrammeled sovereign of France. He held in his hands, virtually
unrestrained by constitution or court, their liberties, their
fortunes, and their lives. It is often said that every nation has as
good a government as it deserves. In republican America, it seems
incredible that a nation of twenty millions of people could have been
guilty of the folly of surrendering themselves to the sway of a pert,
weak, immature boy of thirteen years.

The young king, in those early years, was celebrated for his
gallantry. A bevy of young beauties, from the most illustrious
families in the realm, crowded his court. The matter of the marriage
of the king was deemed of very great moment. According to the
etiquette of the times, it was thought necessary that he should marry
a lady of royal blood. It would have been esteemed a degradation for
him to select the daughter of the highest noble, unless that noble
were of the royal family. But these pretty girls were not unconscious
of the power of their charms. The haughty Anne of Austria was
constantly harassed by the flirtations in which the young king was
continually engaging with these lovely maidens of the court.

Louis by nature, and still more by education, was egotistical,
haughty, and overbearing. His brother Philip, on the contrary, was
gentle, retiring, and effeminate. The young king wished to be the
handsomest man of his court, the most brilliant in wit, and the most
fascinating in the graces of social life. He was very jealous of any
one of his companions who might be regarded as his rival in personal
beauty, or in any intellectual or courtly accomplishment. His mother
encouraged this feeling. She desired that her son should stand in his
court without a peer.

Still Anne of Austria, in conjunction with Cardinal Mazarin, had done
what she could to check the intellectual growth of her son. Wishing to
retain power as long as possible, they had manifested no disposition
to withdraw young Louis from the frivolities of childhood. His
education had been grossly neglected. Though entirely familiar with
the routine of his devotional exercises, and all the punctilios of
court etiquette, he was in mental culture and general intelligence far
below ordinary school-boys of his age.

Though the king was nominally the absolute ruler of France, still
there were outside influences which exerted over him a great control.
There is no such thing as independent power. All are creatures of
circumstances. There were two antagonistic forces brought to bear upon
the young king. Anne of Austria for nine years had been regent. With
the aid of her prime minister, Cardinal Mazarin, she had governed the
realm. This power could not at once and entirely pass from their hands
to the ignorant boy who was dallying with the little beauties in the
saloons of the Palais Royal. Though Mazarin was in exile--an exile to
which the queen regent had been compelled to assent--still he retained
her confidence, and an influence over her mind.

On the other hand, there was the Parliament, composed mainly of proud,
haughty, powerful nobles, the highest dignitaries of Church and State.
This body was under the leadership of the coadjutor, M. de Retz. The
antagonism between the Parliament and the court was by no means
appeased. The great conflict now rose, which continued through months
and years, between them, as to which should obtain the control of the
king. Impelled by the action of the Parliament, the king had applied
to the pope for a cardinal's hat to be conferred upon M. de Retz. This
dignity attained would immeasurably increase the power of the

In the mean time, Cardinal Mazarin, who had fled to Spain, had
re-entered France with an army of six thousand men. Paris was thrown
into a state of great agitation. Parliament was immediately assembled.
The king sent them a message requesting the Parliament not to regard
the movements of the cardinal with any anxiety, "since the intentions
of his eminence were well known by the court." This, of course,
increased rather than diminished the fears of the nobles.
Notwithstanding the message of the king, a decree was immediately
passed declaring the cardinal and his adherents disturbers of the
public peace. The cardinal was outlawed. A sum equal to thirty
thousand dollars, the proceeds of the sale of some property of the
cardinal, was offered to any one who should deliver him either dead or
alive. Unintimidated, Mazarin continued his march toward Paris,
arriving at Poictiers at the end of January, one month after having
re-entered France. The king, the queen regent, and the whole court
advanced there to meet him. They received him with the greatest
demonstrations of joy.

When the news reached the capital that Mazarin had thus triumphantly
returned, Parliament and the populace were thrown into a state of
great excitement. The Duke of Orleans was roused as never before. The
hostile demonstrations in Paris became so alarming, that the royal
family adopted the bold resolve to return immediately to the capital.
The king commenced his march at the head of the troops of the
cardinal. When he reached Blois, he tarried there for a couple of days
to concentrate his forces. Civil war was now inaugurated, though on
rather a petty scale, between the hostile forces in various parts of
the kingdom. The Prince of Condé was the prominent leader of the
Parliamentary troops.

The city of Blois is situated on the right bank of the River Loire,
about forty-five miles below the city of Orleans, which is also on the
northern side of the same stream. At Blois, the court learned to its
consternation that the Mazarin army had been attacked at Orleans by
the Prince de Condé and utterly routed, with the loss of many
prisoners, nearly three thousand horses, and a large part of its
ordnance stores. The royal party, which was at this time in a state of
great destitution, was quite overwhelmed by the disaster. The queen
ordered all the equipages and baggage to be transported to the south
side of the Loire, and the bridge to be broken down. At midnight, in
the midst of a scene of great terror and confusion, this movement was
accomplished. As the morning dawned, the carriages, crowded with the
ladies of the court, were seen on the left bank of the stream, ready
for flight. The queen was, for the only time in her life, so dejected
as to seem utterly in despair. She feared that the triumph of the
Fronde at Orleans would induce every city in the kingdom to close its
gates against the court.

The royal fugitives retreated to Montereau. In the disorder of the
flight they were exposed to great privation. Even the young king lost
several of his best horses. Thence they proceeded to Corbeil, on the
right bank of the Seine, about twelve leagues from Versailles. Here a
scene occurred which is graphically described by M. Laporte, an
eye-witness, who was a prominent attendant of his majesty.

"The king," writes Laporte, "insisted that _Monsieur_[E] should sleep
in his room, which was so small that but one person could pass at a
time. In the morning, as they lay awake, the king inadvertently spat
upon the bed of _Monsieur_, who immediately spat upon the king's bed
in return. Thereupon Louis, getting angry, spat in his brother's face.
When they could spit no longer, they proceeded to drag each other's
sheets upon the floor, after which they prepared to fight. During this
quarrel I did what I could to restrain the king. As I could not
succeed, I sent for M. de Villeroi, who re-established peace.
_Monsieur_ lost his temper sooner than the king, but the king was much
more difficult to appease."

[Footnote E: As Louis XIV. was now king, his brother Philip, eleven
years of age, according to usage, took the title of _Monsieur_. The
title for a time adhered still to the Duke of Orleans, brother of
Louis XIII.]

It is very evident that aristocratic titles, and all the formalities
of court etiquette, do not change the nature of boyhood. Though one of
these little belligerents bore the title of Louis XIV., king of
France, and the other was called Monsieur, the duke of Anjou, they
were in character like all other ungoverned and ungovernable boys.

The court, not venturing to enter Paris, pursued its way by a
circuitous route to St. Germain, leaving the city on the left. Here an
additional gloom was cast over their spirits by the intelligence of
very decided acts of hostility manifested against them by the
inhabitants of the metropolis. The court was in a state of great
embarrassment, without any money, and without possibility of obtaining
stores from the capital. It was supposed that Cardinal Mazarin, noted
for his selfishness, had taken good care of himself. But he declared
that he was as poor as the meanest soldier in the ranks.

While at St. Germain, there was another petty conflict between the
Parliamentary forces and those of the court in the vicinity of
Etampes, about forty miles from Versailles. The Fronde was routed with
loss. The glad tidings was brought by a courier at night to St.
Germain. The news was too good to be kept till morning. M. Villeroi,
to whom it was at first communicated, hastened to the chamber of the
king and the Duke of Anjou, to awake them from sleep and inform them
of the victory. They both, Laporte informs us, sprang from their beds,
and rushed, in their slippers, night caps, and dressing-gowns, to the
chamber of the cardinal, whom they awakened with the joyful tidings.
He hurried in his turn with them, and in the same unsophisticated
costume, to the chamber of the queen, to announce the intelligence to

The destitution of Louis XIV. while at St. Germain was such that he
borrowed one hundred and ten francs from Moreau, one of his valets,
for some replenishment of his wardrobe. Subsequently the valet,
learning that the king had obtained possession of one hundred _louis
d'or_, applied for payment of the debt; but the king had already
expended the coin.

The routed troops of Condé took refuge within the walls of Etampes.
The court, in its elation, immediately proceeded from St. Germain to
the scene of conflict, to take part in the siege. This was the first
serious campaign of the young king. As, attended by his suite, he
examined the works, he was at one time under fire, and several bullets
passed near him. Still young as he was, he had sufficient regard for
his reputation and control over himself not to manifest the slightest

The scenes of war which here presented themselves to the young monarch
were painful in the extreme. He was every where surrounded by sick and
dying soldiers. But he had no money with which to relieve their
misery, and when finally the city of Etampes was taken, the spectacle
of starvation, woe, and death was more awful than words can express.

As the king was entering the city, he passed a group lying upon the
ground, consisting or a mother and three children, huddled closely
together. The mother had died of starvation. Two of the skeleton
children were also dead by her side, and the third, a babe, was
straining at the exhausted breast, which could no longer afford it any

The Prince de Condé retreated to Paris with about three thousand men.
The royal troops, eight thousand in number, pursued. Each party
gathered re-enforcements, so that the Prince de Condé, with about five
thousand men, held at bay the royal troops, then numbering about ten
thousand. The citizens, as we have mentioned, were in sympathy with
the Parliament. They hated Cardinal Mazarin, and with good reason
regarded the king as a prisoner in his hands. The king also detested
Mazarin personally, while the force of circumstances compelled him to
regard the cardinal as the advocate of the royal cause.

A very severe battle was fought between the two parties in the
Faubourg St. Antoine. The ranks of the Fronde, shattered by
overpowering numbers, were, in a disordered retreat, hotly pursued by
their foes under Marshal Turenne. The carnage was dreadful. Suddenly
the cannon of the Bastile flamed out in rapid succession, hurling
their deadly shot through the compact masses of the Royalists. They
recoiled and fled in confusion. Paris was in the hands of the Fronde.
The populace surged through the streets, shouting "Long live the king!
Death to Mazarin!"

The cardinal, taking the king with him, retired to St. Denis. Turenne
re-collected his scattered forces at Pontoise, about twenty miles
north from Versailles. The cardinal, with the king, took refuge at
that place in the centre of Turenne's army. Here the king issued an
ordinance, transferring the Parliament from Paris to Pontoise; but the
Parliament replied "that they could not obey the royal command so long
as Cardinal Mazarin, whom they had outlawed, remained in France." They
also issued an ordinance of their own, forbidding any member of the
Parliament to leave Paris. The king, we know not under what
influences, acquiesced in both of these decrees. This led the cardinal
immediately to tender his resignation and retire. This important step
changed the whole aspect of affairs. After the removal of the
cardinal, all opposition to the court became rebellion against the
king, to whom the Fronde professed entire allegiance.

[Illustration: THE TUILERIES.]

Parliament immediately issued a decree, thanking the king for
banishing the cardinal, and imploring him to return to his good city
of Paris. After some negotiation the king acceded to their wishes, and
on the 17th of October arrived at St. Germain. Here a numerous civic
guard and deputation hastened to greet him, and to conduct him to the
metropolis. On the 20th he proceeded to Ruel, where he passed the

The king decided to enter the city at the head of his army. In order
to render the scene more imposing, it was to take place at night, by
the light of thousands of torches. The spectacle was such as Paris had
rarely witnessed. The fickle people, ever ready to vibrate between the
cry of hosanna and crucify, pealed forth their most enthusiastic
rejoicings. The triumphant boy-king took possession of the Tuileries.
Cardinal de Retz, who had now gained his long-coveted ecclesiastical
distinction, hastened to congratulate the king and his mother upon
their return to the city, from which they had so long been banished.
The Duke of Orleans, chagrined and humiliated, retired to Blois.

The king soon held what was called a bed of justice, in which,
instead of granting a general amnesty, he denounced the princes Condé
and Conti, and other of the prominent leaders of the Fronde, as
traitors to their king, to be punished by death. These doomed ones
were nobles of high rank, vast wealth, with thousands of retainers.
Many throughout the kingdom were in sympathy with them. They would not
die without a struggle. Hence the war, which had hitherto raged
between Mazarin and the Fronde, was renewed between the king and the
Fronde. All over the provinces the hostile forces were rallying
themselves for the conflict.

It was necessary that the Parliament should register this decree of
the king. It did so, but Cardinal de Retz refused to give his vote. He
very respectfully declared to the king that he, having been on
friendly terms and in co-operation with the Prince de Condé, it would
be neither courteous nor just for him to vote his condemnation.

This enraged both the king and his mother. They said it proved that he
was in sympathy with their enemies. The court did not venture at once
to strike down one so formidable. A mission was assigned the cardinal
at Rome, to remove him from the country. He refused to accept it. The
boy-king was growing reckless, passionate, self-willed. He began to
feel the power that was in his hand. The cardinal was warned of his
danger. He smiled, and said "that, sustained by his ecclesiastical
rank, he had nothing to fear."

The court issued an order for the arrest of the cardinal. It was
placed in the hands of Pradelle for execution. But the king was told
that the cardinal would never suffer himself to be arrested without
resistance; that, to secure his seizure, it might be necessary to take
his life. The king seized a pen and wrote at the bottom of the order,

"I have commanded Pradelle to execute the present order on the person
of De Retz, and even to arrest him, dead or alive, in the event of
resistance on his part.


It was deemed very important to arrest the cardinal, if possible,
without exciting a popular tumult. The palace of the cardinal was well
guarded. He never went out without a numerous retinue. Should the
populace of Paris see him endangered, they would spring to his rescue.

At length De Retz was earnestly invited to visit the queen at the
Louvre, in token that he was not hostile to the court. It was one of
the most dishonorable of stratagems. The cardinal was caught in the
trap. As he was entering the antechamber of the queen upon this visit
of friendship, all unsuspicious of treachery, the captain of the
guard, who had been stationed there for the purpose with several
gendarmes, seized him, hurried him through the great gallery of the
Louvre, and down the stairs to the door. Here a royal carriage was
awaiting him. He was thrust into the carriage, and five or six
officers took seats by his side. To guard against any possibility of
rescue, a numerous military escort was at hand. The horses were driven
rapidly through the streets, and out through the Porte St. Antoine.

At nine o'clock the cardinal found himself a prisoner at the castle of
Vincennes. The apartment assigned him was cold and dreary, without
furniture and without a bed. Here the prisoner remained a fortnight,
in the middle of December, with no fire.

The arrest of the cardinal created a great sensation throughout Paris.
But the chateau was too strong, and too vigilantly guarded by the
royal troops, to encourage any attempt at a rescue.


In the mean time, Mazarin had placed himself at the head of the royal
troops in one of the provinces, where he gained several unimportant
victories over the bands of the Fronde. These successes were trumpeted
abroad as great achievements, so as to invest the cardinal with the
renown of a great conqueror. Mazarin was well aware of the influence
of military glory upon the populace in Paris. The king also began to
feel the need of his dominant mind. He was invited to return to Paris.
Louis himself rode out six miles beyond the walls to receive him. The
cardinal entered the city in triumph, in the same carriage with his
sovereign, and seated by his side. All the old idols were forgotten,
and the once detested Mazarin was received as though he were an angel
from heaven. Bonfires and illuminations blazed through the streets;
the whole city resounded with demonstrations of rejoicing. Thus
terminated the year 1652.

The first care of Cardinal Mazarin, after his return to Paris, was to
restore the finances, which were in a deplorable condition. Louis was
fond of pleasure. It was one great object of the cardinal to gratify
him in this respect, in every possible way. Notwithstanding the
penury of the court, the cardinal contrived to supply the king with
money. Thus, during the winter, the royal palaces resounded with
festivity and dissipation. The young king became very fond of private
theatricals, in which he, his brother Philip, and the young ladies of
the court took prominent parts. Louis often appeared upon the stage in
the character of a ballet-dancer. He was proud of the grace with which
he could perform the most difficult pirouettes. He had plays written,
with parts expressly composed for his aristocratic troop.

The scene of these masqueradings was the theatre of the Hotel du Petit
Bourbon, which was contiguous to the Louvre. When royalty plays and
courtiers fill pit and gallery, applause is without stint. The
boy-king was much elated with his theatric triumphs. The queen and
Cardinal Mazarin were well pleased to see the king expending his
energies in that direction.

These entertainments cost money, which Mazarin was greatly embarrassed
in obtaining. The hour was approaching for the coronation of Louis.
The pageant would require large sums of money to invest the occasion
with the desirable splendor. But gold was not all that was wanted.
Rank, brilliance, beauty were requisite suitably to impress the
masses of the people. But the civil war had robbed the court of many
of its most attractive ornaments.

Monsieur, the duke of Orleans, was sullenly residing at Blois. Here he
held a somewhat rival court to the king. He refused to attend the
coronation unless certain concessions were granted, to which Mazarin
could not give his consent. Mademoiselle, the duchess of Montpensier,
daughter of Monsieur by his first wife, a young lady of wonderful
heroism and attractions, who possessed an enormous property in her own
right, and who was surrounded by a brilliant court of her own, could
not consistently share in festivities at which her father refused to

The Prince of Condé, one of the highest nobles of the realm, and who
had many adherents of the most illustrious rank, was in arms against
his king at the head of the Spanish forces, and sentence of death had
been pronounced upon him.

Cardinal de Retz was a prisoner at Vincennes. His numerous followers
in Church and State refused to sanction by their presence any
movements of a court thus persecuting their beloved cardinal.

It was thus impossible to invest the coronation with the splendor
which the occasion seemed to demand.

The coronation took place, however, at Rheims. Cardinal Mazarin
exerted all his ingenuity to render the pageant imposing; but the
absence of so many of the most illustrious of the realm cast an
atmosphere of gloom around the ceremonies.

France was at the time at war with Spain. The Fronde co-operated with
the Spanish troops in the civil war. Immediately after the coronation,
the king, then sixteen years of age, left Rheims to place himself at
the head of the army. He repaired to Stenay, on the Meuse, in the
extreme northeastern frontier of France. This ancient city, protected
by strong fortifications, was held by Condé. The royal troops were
besieging it. The poverty of the treasury was such that Mazarin could
not furnish Louis even with the luxury of a carriage. He traveled on
horseback. He had no table of his own, but shared in that of the
Marquis de Fabert, the general in command.

It seems difficult to account for the fact that the young king was
permitted to enter the trenches, and to engage in skirmishes, where
he was so exposed to the fire of the enemy that the wounded and the
dead were continually falling around him. He displayed much courage on
these occasions.

The Prince of Condé left a garrison in one of the strong fortresses,
and marched with the main body of his troops to Arras. The movements
of the two petty armies, their skirmishes and battles, are no longer
of any interest. The battles were fought and the victories gained by
the direction of the generals Turenne and Fabert. Though the boy-king
displayed intrepidity which secured for him the respect of the
soldiers, he could exert but little influence either in council or on
the field. Both Stenay and Arras were soon taken. The army of the
Prince of Condé was driven from all its positions.

The king returned to Paris to enjoy the gratulation of the populace,
and to offer public thanksgiving in the cathedral of Notre Dame.




Gayeties in Paris.--Poverty of the court.--Death of the Archbishop of
Paris.--Murmurings.--Escape of Cardinal de Retz.--Manoeuvres of Anne
of Austria.--Olympia de Mancini.--Henrietta of England.--Embarrassment
of Henrietta.--Rudeness of Louis XIV.--Royal quarrel.--Independence
of the king.--Order of the king.--Audacity of Louis.--Submission of
Parliament.--A tournament.--Christina of Sweden.--Reception of
Christina.--Her eccentric character.--Astonishment of Anne of
Austria.--Varied information of Christina.--Rudeness of the
ex-queen.--She visits Mademoiselle.--Christina returns to
Sweden.--Outbreak of Christina.--Letter to Cardinal Mazarin.--Count
de Soissons.--Marriage of Olympia Mancini.--Mademoiselle
d'Argencourt.--The Pope's choir.--Mary Mancini.--Description of Mary
Mancini.--Mary Mancini becomes a member of the court.--Her influence
over Louis.--Ambitious views of Mazarin.--Projects for the marriage
of Louis XIV.--Diplomatic efforts with Spain.--The Princess of
Orange.--Power of Mary Mancini.--The Princess Marguerite.--Anger of
the queen regent.--Decision of the cabinet.--New negotiations.--The
two courts arrange to meet at Lyons.--Fickleness of Louis.--The
royal parties meet.--The Princess Marguerite.--Sorrows of Mary.

"There is nothing so successful as success." The young king returned
to Paris from his coronation and his brief campaign a hero and a
conqueror. The courage he had displayed won universal admiration. The
excitable populace were half frenzied with enthusiasm. The city
resounded with shouts of gladness, and the streets were resplendent
with the display of gorgeous pageants.

The few nobles who still rallied around the court endeavored to
compensate by the magnificence of their equipages, the elegance of
their attire, and the splendor of their festivities, for their
diminished numbers. There were balls and tournaments, where the dress
and customs of the by-gone ages of chivalry were revived. Ladies of
illustrious birth, glittering in jewels, and proud in conscious
beauty, contributed to the gorgeousness of the spectacle. Still, in
the midst of all this splendor, the impoverished court was greatly
embarrassed by straitened circumstances.

Cardinal Mazarin, eager to retain his hold upon the king, did
everything he could to gratify the love of pleasure which his royal
master developed, and strove to multiply seductive amusements to
engross his time and thoughts.

But a few days after Cardinal de Retz had been conducted a prisoner to
Vincennes, his uncle, the Archbishop of Paris, died. The cardinal
could legally claim the succession. The metropolitan clergy, who had
been almost roused to rebellion by his arrest, were now still more
deeply moved, since he had become their archbishop. They regarded his
captivity as political martyrdom, and their murmurs were deep and
prolonged. The pope also addressed several letters to the court,
soliciting the liberation of his cardinal. The excitement daily
increased. Nearly all the pulpits more or less openly denounced his
captivity. At length a pamphlet appeared urging the clergy to close
all their churches till their archbishop should be released.

Mazarin was frightened. He sent an envoy to the captive cardinal
presenting terms of compromise. We have not space to describe the
diplomacy which ensued, but the conference was unavailing. The
cardinal was soon after removed, under an escort of dragoons, to the
fortress of Nantes. From this place he almost miraculously escaped to
his own territory of Retz, where he was regarded as sovereign, and
where he was surrounded by retainers who, in impregnable castles,
would fight to the death for their lord. These scenes took place early
in the summer of 1653.

In the mean time, the young king was amusing himself in his various
palaces with the many beautiful young ladies who embellished his
court. Like other lads of fifteen, he was in the habit of falling in
love with one and another, though the transient passion did not seem
very deeply to affect his heart. Some of these maidens were
exceedingly beautiful. In others, vivacity and intellectual brilliance
quite eclipsed the charms of the highest physical loveliness.

Anne of Austria, forgetting that the all-dominant passion of love had
led her to regret that she was the wife of the king, that she might
marry the Duke of Buckingham, did not deem it possible that her son
could stoop so low as to marry any one who was not of royal blood. She
therefore regarded without much uneasiness his desperate flirtations,
while she was scanning the courts of Europe in search of an alliance
which would add to the power and the renown of her son.

One of the nieces of Cardinal Mazarin, an Italian girl by the name of
Olympia Mancini, was among the first to whom the boy-king of fifteen
became specially attached. Olympia was very beautiful, and her
personal fascinations were rivaled by her mental brilliance, wit, and
tact. She was by nature and education a thorough coquette, amiable and
endearing to an unusual degree. She had a sister a little older than
herself, who was also extremely beautiful, who had recently become the
Duchess of Mercoeur. Etiquette required that in the balls which the
king attended every evening he should recognize the rank of the
duchess by leading her out first in the dance. After this, he devoted
himself exclusively, for the remainder of the evening, to Olympia.

It will be remembered that Henrietta, the widowed queen of Charles
II., who was daughter of Henry IV. and sister of Louis XIII., was then
residing in France. She had no pecuniary means of her own, and,
chagrined and humiliated, was a pensioner upon the bounty of the
impoverished French court. Henrietta had with her a very pretty
daughter, eleven years of age. Being the granddaughter of Henry IV.
and daughter of Charles II., she was entitled, through the purity of
her royal blood, to the highest consideration in the etiquette of the
court. But the mother and the daughter, from their poverty and their
misfortunes, were precluded from any general participation in the
festivities of the palace.

The queen, Anne of Austria, on one occasion, gave a private ball in
honor of these unfortunate guests in her own apartments. None were
invited but a few of her most intimate friends. Henrietta attended
with her daughter, who bore her mother's name. There are few
situations more painful than that of poor relatives visiting their
more prosperous friends, who in charity condescend to pay them some
little attention. The young Henrietta was a fragile and timid girl,
who keenly felt the embarrassment of her situation. As, with her face
suffused with blushes, and her eyes moistened with the conflicting
emotions of joyousness and fear, she entered the brilliant saloon of
Anne of Austria, crowded with those below her in rank, but above her
in prosperity and all worldly aggrandizement, she was received
coldly, with no marks of sympathy or attention. As the music summoned
the dancers to the floor, the king, neglecting his young and royal
cousin, advanced, according to his custom, to the Duchess of
Mercoeur, to lead her out. The queen, shocked at so gross a breach
of etiquette, and even of kindly feeling, rose from her seat, and,
advancing, withdrew the hand of the duchess from her son, and said to
him, in a low voice, "You should dance first with the English
princess." The boy-king sulkily replied, "I am not fond of little
girls." Both Henrietta and her daughter overheard this uncourteous and
cruel remark.

Henrietta, the mother, hastened to the queen, and entreated her not to
attempt to constrain the wishes of his majesty. It was an exceedingly
awkward position for all the parties. The spirit of Anne of Austria
was aroused. Resuming her maternal authority, she declared that if her
niece, the Princess of England, were to remain a spectator at the
ball, her son should do the same. Thus constrained, Louis very
ungraciously led out Henrietta upon the floor. The young princess,
tender in years, sensitive through sorrow, wounded and heart-crushed,
danced with tears streaming down her cheeks.

Upon the departure of the guests, the mother and the son had their
first serious quarrel. Anne rebuked Louis severely for his shameful
conduct. The king rebelled. Haughtily facing his mother, he said, "I
have long enough been guided by your leading-strings. I shall submit
to it no longer." It was a final declaration of independence. Though
there were tears shed on both sides, and the queen made strenuous
efforts at conciliation, she felt, and justly felt, that the control
of her son had passed from her forever. It was a crisis in the life of
the king. From that hour he seemed disposed on all occasions to assert
his manhood.

A remarkable indication of this soon occurred. It was customary, when
the king, through his ministers, issued any decrees, that they should
be registered by the Parliament, to give them full authority. Some
very oppressive decrees had been issued to raise funds for the court.
It was deemed very important that they should be registered. The king
in person attended Parliament, that the influence of his presence
might carry the measure. No one dared to oppose in the presence of the

Louis had now established his summer residence at the castle of
Vincennes. Arrangements had been made for a magnificent hunt in the
forest the next day, to be attended by all the ladies and gentlemen of
the court. The king, after leaving the Parliament, returned to
Vincennes, which is about three miles from Paris. He had scarcely
arrived at the castle when he received information that, immediately
upon his leaving the Parliament, a motion had been made to reconsider
the approval of the decrees.

The king dispatched a courier ordering the Chamber to reassemble the
next morning. The pleasure-loving courtiers were dismayed by this
order, as they thought it would interfere with the hunt. But the king
assured them that business should not be allowed to interfere with his

At half past nine o'clock the next morning the king entered the
chamber of deputies in his hunting-dress. It consisted of a scarlet
coat, a gray beaver hat, and high military boots. He was followed by a
large retinue of the nobles of his court in a similar costume.

"In this unusual attire," writes the Marquis de Montglat, "the king
heard mass, took his place with the accustomed ceremonies, and, with
a whip in his hand, declared to the Parliament that in future it was
his will that his edicts should be registered, and not discussed. He
threatened them that, should the contrary occur, he would return and
enforce obedience."

How potent must have been the circumstances which the feudalism of
ages had created. These assembled nobles yielded without a murmur to
this insolence from a boy of eighteen. Parliament had ventured to try
its strength against Cardinal Mazarin, but did not dare to disobey its

Soon after this, Louis, having learned that Turenne had gained some
important victories over the Fronde, decided to join the army to
witness the siege of the city of Condé and of St. Quilain. Both of
these places soon fell into the hands of the Royalist troops. The king
had looked on. Rapidly he returned to Paris to enjoy almost a Roman
triumph for his great achievement.

As one of the festivities of the city, the king arranged a tournament
in honor of his avowed lady-love, Olympia Mancini. She occupied a
conspicuous seat among the ladies of the court, her lovely person
decorated with a dress of exquisite taste and beauty. The king was
prominent in his attire among all the knights assembled to contest the
palm of chivalry. He was dressed in robes of brilliant scarlet. A
white scarf encircled his waist, and snow-white plumes waved
gracefully from his hat.

The scene was as gorgeous as the wealth and decorative art of the
court could create. There were retainers surrounding the high lords,
and heralds, and pages, and trumpeters, all arrayed in the most
picturesque costume. No one could be so discourteous or impolitic as
to vanquish the king. He consequently bore away all the laurels. This
magnificent tournament gave the name of "The Carousal" to the space
where it was held, between the Louvre and the Tuileries.

Early in the summer the court removed to Compiègne, to spend the
season in rural amusements there. Christina, the young queen of
Sweden, who had just abdicated the throne, and whose eccentricities
had attracted the attention of Europe, came to the frontiers of France
with an imposing retinue, and, announcing her arrival, awaited the
invitation of the king to visit his court. She was one of the most
extraordinary personages of that or any age. Good looking, "strong
minded" to the highest degree, masculine in dress and address, always
self-possessed, absolutely fearing nothing, proud, haughty, speaking
fluently eight languages, familiar with art, and a consummate
_intriguante_, she excited astonishment and a certain degree of
admiration wherever she appeared.

The curiosity of Louis was so greatly excited and so freely expressed
to see this extraordinary personage as to arouse the jealousy of
Olympia. The king perceived this. It is one of the most detestable
traits in our fallen nature that one can take pleasure in making
another unhappy. The unamiable king amused himself in torturing the
feelings of Olympia.

[Illustration: PALACE OF CHANTILLY.]

Christina proceeded at first to Paris. Here she was received with the
greatest honor. For a distance of nearly six miles from the Louvre the
streets were lined with armed citizens, who greeted her with almost
unintermitted applause. The crowd was so great that, though she
reached the suburbs of Paris at two o'clock in the afternoon, she did
not alight at the Louvre until nine o'clock in the evening. This
eccentric princess was then thirty years of age, and, though youthful
in appearance, in dress and manners she affected the Amazon. She
had great powers of pleasing, and her wit, her entire self-reliance,
and extensive information, enabled her to render herself very
attractive whenever she wished to do so.

After spending a few days in Paris, she proceeded to Compiègne to
visit the king and queen. Louis and his brother, with Mazarin and a
crowd of courtiers, rode out as far as Chantilly, a distance of nearly
twenty miles, to meet her. Christina also traveled in state,
accompanied by an imposing retinue. Here there was, at that time, one
of the largest and finest structures in France. The castle belonged to
the family of Condé. The opposite cut presents it to the reader as it
then appeared.

The king and his brother, from some freak, presented themselves to her
at first _incognito_. They were introduced by Mazarin as two of the
most nobly born gentlemen in France. Christina smiled, and promptly

"Yes, I have no doubt of it, since their birthright is a crown."

She had seen their portraits in the Louvre the day before, and
immediately recognized them.

Christina was to be honored with quite a triumphal entrance to
Compiègne. The king accordingly returned to Compiègne, and the next
day, with the whole court in carriages, rode out a few leagues to a
very splendid mansion belonging to one of the nobles at Fayet. It was
a lovely day, warm and cloudless. Anne of Austria decided to receive
her illustrious guest upon the spacious terrace. There she assembled
her numerous court, resplendent with gorgeous dresses, and blazing
with diamonds. Soon the carriage of the Swedish queen drove up, with
the loud clatter of outriders and the flourish of trumpets. Cardinal
Mazarin and the Duke de Guise assisted her to alight. As she ascended
the terrace the queen advanced to meet her.

Though Anne was at first struck with amazement at the ludicrous
appearance of the attire of Christina, she was immediately fascinated
by her conversational tact and brilliance. Some allusion having been
made to the portrait of the king in the Louvre, the queen held out her
arm to show a still more faithful miniature in the clasp of her
bracelet. Anne of Austria had a very beautiful arm, and was very proud
of it. Christina, instead of looking at the bracelet, surveyed the
undraped arm and hand with admiration.

"How beautiful! how beautiful!" she exclaimed. "Never did I see an arm
and hand of such lovely hue and such exquisite symmetry. I would
willingly have made the journey from Rome to Paris to see this arm."

The queen's heart was won, Christina knew it. The next achievement was
to win the king.

Christina was apparently as familiar with the French court, and all
the intrigues there, from the information which she had obtained, as
if she had always been a resident at that court. She immediately
turned with very marked attention to Olympia Mancini, and seemed
dazzled by her beauty. The heart of the boy-king was won in seeing his
own good taste thus highly appreciated and sanctioned. Having thus
secured the queen and the king, Christina was well aware that she had
captivated the whole court.

An elegant collation was prepared. The plump little queen ate like a
hungry dragoon. The royal cortège, enveloping the Swedish princess,
returned to the palace of Compiègne. Several days were spent at
Compiègne, during which she astonished every one by the remarkable
self-poise of her character, her varied information, and the
versatility of her talents. She conversed upon theology with the
ecclesiastics, upon politics with the ministers, upon all branches of
science and art with philosophers and the _virtuosi_, and eclipsed the
most brilliant of the courtiers in the small-talk of gallantry.

She attended the theatre with the queen. During the tragedy she wept
like a child, heartily and unaffectedly. During the farce, which was
one of those coarse and pungent compositions by the poet Scarron,
which would now be scarcely tolerated, her shouts of laughter echoed
through the theatre. She astonished the court by clapping her hands
and throwing her feet upon the top of the royal box, like a rowdy in a


From Compiègne, Christina, by invitation, went to Fontainebleau to
visit Mademoiselle de Montpensier. The piquant pen of Mademoiselle has
described this interview. Some allowance must perhaps be made for the
vein of satire which pervaded nearly all the utterances of this
haughty princess. The dress of Christina consisted of a skirt of gray
silk, trimmed with gold and silver lace, with a bodice of gold-colored
camlet trimmed like the skirt. She wore a kerchief of Genoa point
about her neck, fastened with a knot of white ribbon. A light wig
concealed her natural hair. Her hat was profusely decorated with white
plumes. She looked, upon the whole, Mademoiselle thought, like a
handsome boy.

Mademoiselle, accustomed to the rigid propriety of the French court,
was not a little surprised to hear Christina, during the comedy,
interlard her conversation with hearty oaths, with all the volubility
of an old guardsman. She flung about her legs in the most astonishing
manner, throwing them over the arms of her chair, and placing herself
in attitudes quite unprecedented in Parisian circles.

Soon after this, this Amazonian princess returned by a circuitous
route to her Northern home. Before taking leave of her, it may be well
to remark that subsequently Christina made a second visit to France
uninvited--not only uninvited, but very unwelcome. She took possession
of the palace of Fontainebleau with her attendants, where with cold
courtesy she was tolerated. In a freak of passion, she accused her
grand equerry, M. Monaldeschi, of high treason, and actually put him
to death. So high-handed an outrage, even in those days of feudal
barbarism, excited throughout France a universal feeling of disgust
and indignation. The sentiment was so strong and general that the king
deemed it necessary to send her a letter through his minister,
Mazarin, expressive of his extreme displeasure.

Christina, much exasperated, sent a reply containing the following

"MR. MAZARIN,--Those who acquainted you with the details regarding
Monaldeschi, my equerry, were very ill informed. Your proceeding ought
not, however, to astonish me, silly as it is. But I should never have
believed that either you or your haughty young master would have dared
to exhibit the least resentment toward me. Learn all of you, valets
and masters, little and great, that it was my pleasure to act as I
did; that I need not, and I will not account for my actions to any one
in the world, and particularly to bullies of your description. I wish
you to know, and to say to all who will hear it, that Christina cares
very little about your court, and still less about yourself; and that,
in order to revenge my wrongs, I do not require to have recourse to
your formidable power. Believe me, therefore, Jules,[F] you had better
conduct yourself in a manner to deserve my favor, which you can not
study too much to secure. God preserve you from ever risking the least
indiscreet remark upon my person. Although at the end of the earth, I
shall be informed of your plots. I have friends and courtiers in my
service who are as clever and far-sighted as yours, although they are
not so well paid.


[Footnote F: Jules, the Christian name of Mazarin.]

Soon after this her Swedish majesty disappeared from France, to the
great relief of the court, and was seen there no more.

Olympia Mancini had ever increasing evidence that the love of the king
for her was but a frivolous and heartless passion. The Count de
Soissons, of Savoy, a young prince who had just become the head of his
house, visited the court of Louis XIV. The marvelous beauty of
Olympia, at first glance, won his heart. He was young, handsome,
chivalric, high-born, and was just entering upon a magnificent
inheritance. Olympia had recently lost by death a mother whom she
greatly revered, and a beloved sister. She was overwhelmed with grief.
The entire want of sympathy manifested by the king shocked her. He
thought of nothing but his own personal pleasure. Regardless of the
grief of Olympia, he exhibited himself, evening after evening, in
court theatricals, emulating the agility of an opera-dancer, and
attired in spangled robes.

Wounded and irritated by such conduct, Olympia accepted the proffered
hand of the Count de Soissons, who was grandson of Charles V. The
marriage was attended with great splendor at the palace of the Louvre.
All the court was present. The king himself seemed not at all
discomposed that another should marry the beautiful maiden whom he had
professed so ardently to love. Indeed, he was already beginning to
transfer his attentions to Mademoiselle d'Argencourt, a queenly beauty
of the high family of Conti. Her figure was perfect, her manners were
courtly in the highest degree, and all who approached her were charmed
with her conversational vivacity and tact.

But Mademoiselle's affections were already engaged, and, being fully
aware that the king flitted from beauty to beauty, like the butterfly
from flower to flower, she very frankly intimated to the king that she
could not receive his attentions. Louis was heart-broken; for such
fragile hearts are easily broken and as easily repaired. He hastened
to his mother, and told her that he must leave Paris to conquer his
passion. The love-sick monarch retired to Vincennes, spent ten days
there, and returned quite cured.

The marriage of Olympia, as we have mentioned, was celebrated with
very great brilliance. The ambitious cardinal, in heart disappointed
that he had not been able to confer the hand of Olympia on the king,
was increasingly desirous of investing the members of his family with
all possible éclat. He had imported for the occasion the principal
members of the Pope's choir. These wonderful vocalists from the
Sistine Chapel astonished the French court with melody and harmony
such as had never been heard in the Louvre before.

Olympia had a younger sister, Mary, fifteen years of age. She had come
from her school in a convent to witness the marriage festivities. The
music and the impressive scene affected the artless child deeply, and
her tears flowed freely. The king, surrounded by the brilliant
beauties of his court, accidentally caught sight of this child. Though
not beautiful, there was something in her unaffected attitude, her
tears, her entire absorption in the scene, which arrested his

Mary had early developed so bold, independent, and self-reliant a
spirit as to induce her father, on his death-bed, to entreat Madame de
Mancini to compel her to take the veil. In compliance with this
injunction, Mary had been placed in a convent until she should attain
the fitting age to assume the irrevocable vows. Thus trained in
seclusion, and with no ambitious aspirations, she had acquired a
character of perfect simplicity, and her countenance bore an
expression of intelligence and sensibility far more attractive than
ordinary beauty. A contemporaneous writer says,

"Her movements, her manners, and all the bearing of her person were
the result of a nature guided by grace. Her look was tender, the
accents of her voice were enchanting. Her genius was great,
substantial, and extensive, and capable of the grandest conceptions.
She wrote both good prose and pleasing poetry; and Mary Mancini, who
shone in a courtly letter, was equally capable of producing a
political or state dispatch. She would not have been unworthy of the
throne if among us great merit had been entitled to obtain it."

The king inquired her name. Upon learning that she was a niece of the
cardinal, and a sister of Olympia, he desired that she might be
presented to him.

Mary was an enthusiast. The young king was very handsome, very
courtly, and a perfect master of all the phrases of gallantry. Mary
fell in love with him, without knowing it, at first sight. It was not
the _monarch_ which had won her, but the _man_, of exquisitely
symmetrical proportions, so princely in his bearing, so fascinating in
his address. The young schoolgirl returned to her convent with the
image of the king indelibly engraven on her heart. The few words which
passed between them interested the king, for every word she said bore
the impress of her genius. Ere long she was added to the ladies of the
queen's household.

The king, having closed his flirtation with Mademoiselle d'Argencourt,
found himself almost insensibly drawn to Mary Mancini. Though there
were many in his court more beautiful in person, there were none who
could rival her in intellect and wit. Though naturally timid, her
reserve disappeared when in his presence. Though ever approaching him
with the utmost possible deference and respect, she conversed with him
with a frankness to which he was entirely unaccustomed, and which, at
the same time, surprised and charmed him.

His vanity was gratified with the almost religious devotion with which
she unaffectedly regarded her sovereign, while at the same time she
addressed him with a bold simplicity of utterance which astounded the
courtiers and enthralled the king. He was amazed and bewildered by the
grandeur of a character such as he had never encountered before. She
reproved him for his faults, instructed him in his ignorance,
conversed with him upon themes beyond the ordinary range of his
intellect, and endeavored to enkindle within him noble impulses and a
lofty ambition. The king found himself quite unable to compete with
her strength of intellect. His weaker nature became more and more
subject to one endowed with gifts far superior to his own. In every
hour of perplexity, in every serious moment, when the better nature of
the king gained a transient ascendency, he turned from the frivolity
of the gay and thoughtless beings fluttering around him to Mary
Mancini for guidance and strength.

The ambition of Cardinal Mazarin was again excited with the hope that
he might yet place a niece upon the throne of France. But there was
no end to the intrigues of ambitious aspirants, directly or
indirectly, for the hand of the young king. Mademoiselle de
Montpensier had enormous wealth, was of high birth, and was endowed
with marvelous force of character. She had long aspired to share the
throne with her young cousin. When it was evident that this plan had
failed, the Duke of Orleans brought forward a younger daughter by a
second wife. But Mazarin succeeded in thwarting this arrangement. The
Princess Henrietta of England, whom the young king had treated so
cruelly at the ball, was urged upon him. She was lovely in person,
amiable in character, but in poverty and exile. Cromwell was in the
plenitude of his power. There was no probability that her family would
be restored to the throne. The king turned coldly from her.

Portugal was then one of the most wealthy and powerful courts of
Europe. The Queen of Portugal was exceedingly anxious to unite her
daughter with the King of France. Through her embassadors she
endeavored to effect an alliance. A portrait of the princess was sent
to Louis. It was very beautiful. The king made private inquiries. She
was very plain. This settled the question. The Portuguese princess was
thought of no more.

The King of Spain had a very beautiful daughter, Maria Theresa. The
Spanish monarchy then, perhaps, stood second to none other on the
globe. Spain and France were engaged in petty and vexatious
hostilities. A matrimonial alliance would secure friendship. The
matter was much talked of. The proud queen-mother, Anne of Austria,
was very solicitous to secure that alliance, as it would gratify her
highest ambition. Mazarin professed warmly to favor it. He probably
saw insuperable obstacles in the way, but hoped, by co-operating
cordially with the wishes of the queen, to be able finally to secure
the marriage of the king with Mary Mancini.

Maria Theresa was heiress to the throne of Spain. Should she marry
Louis XIV., it would be necessary for her to leave Spain and reside in
Paris. Thus the Queen of France would be the Queen of Spain. In fact,
Spain would be annexed to France as a sort of tributary nation, the
court being at Paris, and all the offices being at the disposal of the
Queen of France, residing there. The pride of the Spaniards revolted
from this, and still the diplomatists were conferring upon the matter.

Henrietta, the unfortunate widow of Charles I. of England, had an
elder daughter, who had married the Prince of Orange, the head of the
illustrious house of Nassau. This Princess of Orange was very
beautiful, young, in the enjoyment of vast possessions, and a widow.
She aspired to the hand, and to share the crown of the King of France.
Surrounded by great magnificence and blazing with jewels, she visited
the court of Louis XIV. Her mission was signally unsuccessful. The
king took a strong dislike to her, and repelled her advances with
marked discourtesy.

While matters were in this state, Charles II. offered his hand to Mary
Mancini. But the proud cardinal would not allow his niece to marry a
crownless and impoverished king. In the mean time, Mary Mancini, by
her increasing beauty and her mental superiority, was gaining daily
more influence over the mind of the king. With a voice of singular
melody, a brilliant eye, a figure as graceful and elastic as that of a
fairy, and with words of wonderful wisdom flowing, as it were,
instinctively from her lips, she seemed effectually and almost
unconsciously to have enthralled the king. All his previous passions
were boyish and ephemeral. But Mary was very different from any other
lady of the court. Her depth of feeling, her pensive yet cheerful
temperament, and her full-souled sympathy in all that was truly noble
in conduct and character, astonished and engrossed the susceptible

The Duchess of Savoy had a daughter, Marguerite, whom she wished to
have become the wife of the French king. The princess was by birth of
the highest rank, being a descendant of Henry IV. The duchess sent as
an envoy a young Piedmontese count to treat secretly with the cardinal
for the marriage of the king with the Princess Marguerite. The count
was unsuccessful. It was quite evident that Mazarin was intending to
secure the marriage of the king with his niece.

The proud queen, Anne of Austria, became greatly alarmed. She mortally
offended the cardinal by declaring to him that nothing should induce
her to consent to such a degradation of her son as to permit his
marriage with the niece of the cardinal. She declared that in such an
event she herself would head an insurrection against the king, and
that the whole of France would revolt both against him and his
minister. These bitter words ever after rankled in the bosom of the

The queen summoned a secret assembly of the cabinet, and put to them
the question whether the marriage of her son without her consent would
be a valid one. The unanimous decision was in the negative. She then
had this decision carefully drawn up, and made effectual arrangements
to have it registered by the Parliament, should the king secretly
marry Mary Mancini.

The cardinal now found himself compelled to abandon his ambitious
hopes for his niece, and opened again negotiations with Spain for the
hand of the Infanta Maria Theresa, and with the court of Savoy for the
Princess Marguerite. The Spanish marriage would terminate the war. The
union with Savoy would invest France with new powers for its vigorous

Every day the attachment of the king to Mary Mancini became more
undisguised. She guided his reading; she taught him the Italian
language; she introduced to him the names of great men in the works of
literature and art, and labored heroically to elevate his tastes, and
to inspire him with the ambition of performing glorious deeds.

The queen, in her anxiety, made arrangements for the king to meet the
Princess Marguerite at Lyons, that they might be betrothed. She
greatly preferred the alliance with Spain; but as there seemed to be
insuperable objections to that, she turned her attention to Savoy. The
king continued his marked and almost exclusive attentions to Mary, and
she loved him with the full flow of her ardent affections.

The whole court was to proceed in great magnificence to Lyons, to meet
the court of Savoy. Mary was compelled to accompany the court. She
knew full well the errand upon which Louis was bound. Though her heart
was heavy, and tears dimmed her eyes, she was obliged to appear
cheerful. She had made an earnest effort to avoid the journey, but
Anne of Austria was obdurate and cruel. She assured Mary that she
could not spare her presence when she wished to impress the Princess
Marguerite with the magnificence and beauty of the French court.

The court of Savoy left Turin at the same time that the French court
left Paris. The pledge had been given that, should the king be
pleased with the appearance of Marguerite, the marriage should take
place without delay. During the journey, the heartless and fickle
king, ever charmed by novelty, was in buoyant spirits. Though he still
clung to the side of Mary, giving her a seat in his own carriage, and,
when the weather was fine, riding by her side on horseback, he
tortured her heart by the joyousness with which he spoke of the
anticipated charms of Marguerite and of his approaching marriage.

At Lyons the royal party was received with great magnificence. The
next day it was announced that the court of Savoy was approaching. The
queen-mother and her son, with two ladies in the royal coach,
preceded, and, followed by a considerable retinue, advanced to meet
their guests. The king mounted his horse and galloped forward to get a
sight of Marguerite without being known by her. She was riding in an
open barouche. He soon returned in great glee, and, springing from the
saddle, re-entered the carriage, and informed his mother that the
Princess Marguerite was very beautiful. Scarcely had he said this ere
the two royal coaches met. Both parties alighted. The princess was
introduced to Louis. Then the queen-mother and her son, the Duchess
of Savoy and the Princess Marguerite, and an elder daughter, who was a
widow, entered the royal coach and returned to Lyons. The king was in
exuberant spirits. He at once entered into the most animated and
familiar conversation with the princess.

The Princess Marguerite fully appreciated the embarrassment of her own
situation. She was going to Lyons to present herself to Louis XIV. to
see if he would take her for his wife. The humiliation of being
rejected would be dreadful. In vain she implored her mother to spare
her from such a possibility. But the question seemed to be at once
settled favorably. The king was manifestly much pleased with
Marguerite, and the princess could see nothing but attractions in the
young, handsome, and courtly sovereign of France.

Poor Mary, who was informed of every thing that transpired, was
suffering martyrdom. She was immediately forsaken and forgotten. In
public, all her force of character was called into requisition to
dress her face in smiles. In her secret apartment she wept bitterly.




Marguerite of Savoy.--Sudden change of prospects.--An heir to the
Spanish throne.--Rejection of Marguerite.--Mazarin communicates
with the Duchess of Savoy.--Private interview of Mazarin and the
Duchess of Savoy.--Conduct of the king.--Movements of Mazarin.--Power
of the cardinal.--Mary exiled from the court.--Mary's parting with
the king.--The Isle of Pheasants.--Interview of Louis with
Mary.--Negotiations with Spain.--Marriage preparations according to
Spanish etiquette.--Appearance of the Infanta.--Interview of Anne of
Austria and her brother.--Meeting of Louis XIV. and his bride.--Tedious
ceremonies.--Gorgeous entrance into the capital.--Cruelty of the
queen-mother.--The Prince Colonna.--Mary is presented to the young
Queen of France.--Misery of Mary Mancini.--Mary concludes to accept
the hand of Prince Colonna.--Marriage of Mary Mancini.--Character of
Louis XIV. and Maria Theresa.--Magnificent ceremonies.--Festivities
continued.--Revolting state of society.--Mazarin guilty of great
extortion.--Fatal accident.--Sufferings of the cardinal.--Oppressive
measures of the cardinal.--Confession of Mazarin.--Advice of M.
Colbert.--Suspense of the cardinal.--His property restored.--Death
of Mazarin.--His immense wealth.--Legacies of Mazarin.--Views of
Louis XIV.

The Princess Marguerite of Savoy was very beautiful. She was a
brunette, with large, lustrous eyes, fairy-like proportions, queenly
bearing, and so graceful in every movement that she scarcely seemed to
touch the ground as she walked. Her reception by the king, the queen,
and the whole court was every thing that could be desired. The duchess
and her daughter that night placed their heads upon their pillows with
the undoubting conviction that Marguerite was to be the Queen of
France. The king ordered his suite to be ready, in their gala dresses,
to attend him on the morrow to the apartments of the princess.

The morning came. To the surprise and bewilderment of the court, every
thing was changed. The king was thoughtful, distant, reserved. With
great formality of etiquette, he called upon the princess. His
countenance and manner indicated an entire change of feeling. With the
coldest phrases of court etiquette he addressed her. He was civil,
and civil only. The warmth of the lover had disappeared entirely. The
Duchess of Savoy was astounded. Even the French court seemed stupefied
by so unexpected and decisive an alteration in the aspect of affairs.

The explanation which gradually came to light was very simple. During
the night a courier had arrived, in breathless haste, with the
announcement that the Queen of Spain had given birth to a son. Maria
Theresa was no longer heir to the throne. The way was consequently
open to the Spanish marriage. This alliance would secure peace with
Spain, and was altogether a more powerful and wealthy connection than
that with the court of Savoy. The cardinal immediately communicated
the intelligence to the queen-mother and the king. They alone knew it.
Marguerite was to be rejected, and the hand of Maria Theresa to be

Mary Mancini was utterly bewildered by the change, so inexplicable to
her, in the posture of affairs. The face of the queen was radiant with
joy. The king seemed a little embarrassed, but very triumphant. The
Duchess of Savoy betrayed alternately surprise, indignation, and
despair. The eagle eye and painful experience of Mary taught her that
the Princess Marguerite was struggling to retain her self-possession,
and to maintain a cheerful spirit, while some terrible blow had fallen
upon her.

The news from Spain was such that Mazarin, upon receiving it after
midnight, hastened to the bedchamber of the queen with the
announcement. As he entered, the queen rose upon her pillow, and the
cardinal said:

"I have come to tell you, madame, a piece of news which your majesty
never anticipated."

"Is peace proclaimed?" inquired the queen, earnestly.

"More than peace," the cardinal exultantly replied; "for the Infanta
brings peace in her hand as but a portion of her dower."

This extraordinary scene took place on the night of the 29th of
November, 1658. It was the task of the wily cardinal to break the
humiliating intelligence to the Duchess of Savoy. He assured her that
he felt bound to seek, above all things else, the interests of France;
that an opportunity had unexpectedly occurred for an alliance with
Spain; that this alliance was far more desirable than any other; but
that, should any thing occur to interrupt these negotiations, he
would do every thing in his power to promote the marriage of the king
with the Princess Marguerite.

Notwithstanding the intense irritation which this communication
excited, there was too much self-respect and too much good breeding in
the court of Savoy to allow of a sudden rupture, which would provoke
the sarcastic remarks of the world. Still the duchess, in a private
interview with Mazarin, could not restrain her feelings, but broke out
into passionate upbraidings. The thought that she had been lured to
expose herself and her daughter to the derision of all Europe stung
her to the quick. The Princess Marguerite, however, by her graceful
composure, by her courtesy to all around her, and by the skill with
which she concealed her wounded feelings, won the admiration of all in
both courts.

For several days the two courts remained together, engaged in a round
of festivities. This seemed necessary to avoid the appearance of an
open rupture. The fickle king, in these assemblies, treated Marguerite
with his customary courtesy; but he immediately turned to Mary Mancini
with his marked attentions and devotion, dancing with her repeatedly
on the same evening, and keeping her constantly by his side. Indeed,
his attentions were so very marked as to lead the courtiers to think
that the king rejoiced at his escape from his marriage with Marguerite
from the hope that it might yet lead to his securing Mary for his
bride. But it is more probable that the king, utterly selfish,
reckless of the feelings of others, and devoted to his own enjoyment,
sought the society of Mary because it so happened that she was the
one, more than any other then within his reach, who, by her personal
beauty and her mental attractions, could best beguile his weary hours.
He was ready at any moment, without a pang, to lay her aside for
another who could better minister to his pleasure or to the aspirings
of his ambition.

The king, with his court, returned to Paris. The secret communicated
by the mysterious visitor from Spain was still undivulged. The mystery
was so great, and its apparent bearing upon the destiny of Mary so
direct, that she resolved to interrogate one of the most influential
ministers of the court upon the subject. He, thinking in some degree
to evade the question, replied that the courier had come simply to
inform Anne of Austria that the Queen of Spain had given birth to a
son. This revealed the whole to Mary.

In the mean time, arrangements were made for Cardinal Mazarin to meet
the Spanish minister on the frontiers of the two kingdoms to negotiate
for the Spanish marriage. The cardinal, fully convinced that now it
would be impossible to secure the hand of the king for his niece Mary,
and anxious to convince the queen that he was heartily engaged in
promoting the Spanish alliance, ordered Mary immediately to withdraw
from the court, and retire to Brouage. This was a fortified town on
the sea-coast many leagues from Paris. The king heard of the
arrangement, and, forbidding the departure of Mary from the court,
hastened to the cardinal demanding an explanation. Mazarin informed
him that the Infanta of Spain would be very indignant should she learn
that, while he was making application for her hand, he was retaining
near him one whom he had long treated with the most devoted and
affectionate attentions; that her father, Philip IV., would be
disgusted; that there would be a probable rupture of the negotiations;
and that the desolating war between France and Spain would continue.

Louis declared that he should not allow his pleasure to be disturbed
by such considerations. Roused by opposition, he went so far as to say
that he was quite ready to carry on the war with Spain if that power
so wished; that the war would afford him an opportunity to acquire
glory in the eyes of his countrymen, and in that case he would marry
Mary Mancini.

But the cardinal was fully conscious that neither the queen nor France
would now submit to such an arrangement. He had with great skill
retained his attitude of command over the young monarch, holding his
purse and governing the realm, while the boy-king amused himself as a
ballet-dancer and a play-actor. The cardinal remained inexorable. It
is said that the king wept in the excess of his chagrin as he felt
compelled to yield to the representations of his domineering minister.
As he unfolded to him the miseries which would be inflicted, not only
upon the kingdom, but upon the court, should the desolating and
expensive war be protracted, the king threw himself upon a sofa, and
buried his face in his hands in silent despair. It was decided that
Mary should be exiled from the court.

The king, thwarted, vexed, wretched, repaired to the cabinet of his
mother. They conversed for an hour together. As they retired from the
cabinet, Madame de Motteville says, "the eyes of both were red with
weeping. The orders were immediately issued for Mary's departure. She
was to go with an elder sister and her governess. The morrow came; the
carriage was at the door. Mary, having taken leave of the queen,
repaired to the apartment of Louis to bid him adieu. She found him
deluged in tears. Summoning all her resolution to maintain
self-control, she held out her trembling hand, and said to him
reproachfully, 'Sire, you are a king; you weep; and yet I go.'"

The king uttered not a word, but, burying his face in his hands upon
the table, sobbed aloud. Mary saw that it was all over with her; that
there was no longer any hope. Without speaking a word, she descended
the stairs to her carriage. The king silently followed her, and stood
by the coach door. She took her seat with her companions, and, without
the interchange of a word or a sign, the carriage drove away. Louis
remained upon the spot until it disappeared from sight.

[Illustration: ISLE OF PHEASANTS.]

The Isle of Pheasants, a small Spanish island in the Bidassoa, a
boundary river between France and Spain, was fixed upon as the
rendezvous for the contracting parties for the royal marriage. Four
days after the exile of Mary, the king and court, with a magnificent
civil and ecclesiastical retinue, set out for the island. The king
insisted, notwithstanding the vehement remonstrances of the queen,
upon visiting Mary Mancini on the journey. As the splendid cortège
passed through the streets of Paris, the whole population was on the
pavement, shouting a thousand blessings on the head of their young

Mary Mancini had received orders from the queen to proceed with her
sister to Saint Jean d'Angély, where, upon the passage of the court,
she was to have an interview with the king. "Her interview," writes
Miss Pardoe, "was, however, a bitter one. Divided between vanity and
affection, Louis was at once less firm and less self-possessed than
Mary. He wept bitterly, and bewailed the fetters by which he was
shackled. But as he remarked the change which nights of watching and
of tears had made in her appearance, he felt half consoled. The only
result of this meeting was to harrow the heart of the poor victim of
political expediency, and to prove to her upon how unstable a
foundation she had built her superstructure of hope."[G]

[Footnote G: Louis XIV. and the Court of France, vol. ii., p. 23, 24.]

From Saint Jean d'Angély the court proceeded, by way of Bordeaux, to
Toulouse. Here they awaited the conclusion of the treaty. The
negotiation was tedious, as each party was anxious to gain all that
was possible from the other. Many questions of national moment and
pride were involved. At length the conference was amicably concluded.
The king agreed to pardon the Prince of Condé, and restore to him all
his honors; and the Infanta Maria Theresa renounced for herself and
her descendants all claim to the inheritance of her parents. She was
to receive as a dowry five hundred thousand golden crowns. There were
several other articles included in the treaty which have now ceased to
be of any interest.

Much surprise was soon excited in the court of Louis XIV. by the
intimation that the marriage ceremony must be postponed until the
spring. Philip IV. stated that his infirm health would not allow him
to take so long a journey in the inclement weather of winter. Louis
XIV. had never yet seen his affianced bride. We do not learn that he
was at all annoyed by the delay. The intervening weeks were passed in
journeyings and a round of amusements. Early in May, 1660, the king
returned to the vicinity of the Isle of Pheasants, where he was to
meet the King of Spain and Maria Theresa.

The most magnificent preparations had been made at the Isle of
Pheasants for the interview between the two courts and the royal
nuptials. Bridges were constructed to the island from both the French
and Spanish sides of the river. These bridges were covered, and so
decorated as to present the aspect of beautiful galleries. Upon the
island a palace was erected, consisting of one immense and gorgeous
apartment, with lateral chambers and dressing-rooms. This apartment
was carpeted, and furnished with all the splendor which the combined
monarchies of France and Spain could command.

Two doors, directly opposite each other, enabled the two courts to
enter simultaneously. A straight line across the centre of the room
divided it into two portions, one half of which was regarded as
French, and the other as Spanish territory. The Spanish court took up
its residence at Fontarabia, on the eastern or Spanish bank of the
river. Louis and his court occupied Saint Jean de Luz, on the French
or western side of the stream.

There are many exactions of court etiquette which to republican eyes
seem extremely irrational and foolish. Louis could not cross the river
to take his Spanish bride, neither could Maria Theresa cross the
stream to be married on French soil; therefore Don Luis de Haro, as
the proxy of Louis XIV., having the French Bishop of Frejus as his
witness, was married to Maria Theresa in the church at Fontarabia. The
ceremony was conducted with the most punctilious observance of the
stately forms of Spanish etiquette.

Madame de Motteville gives the following account of the appearance of
the bride:

"The Infanta is short, but well made. We admired the extreme fairness
of her complexion. The blue eyes appeared to us to be fine, and
charmed us by their softness and brilliancy. We celebrated the beauty
of her mouth, and of her somewhat full and roseate lips. The outline
of her face is long, but, being rounded at the chin, pleased us. Her
cheeks, rather large, but handsome, had their share of our praise. Her
hair, of a very light auburn, accorded admirably with her fine

The Infanta was dressed in white satin, ornamented with small bows of
silver serge. She wore a large number of brilliant gems, and her head
was decorated with a mass of false hair. The first lady of her
household bore her train.

During the ceremony Philip IV. stood between his daughter and the
proxy of Louis. The princess did not present her hand to Don Luis, nor
did he present to her the nuptial ring. At the close of the ceremony
the father embraced his child, and silently the gorgeous train swept
from the church.

The next day Anne of Austria, accompanied by her second son, then Duke
of Orleans, repaired to the Isle of Pheasants to meet her brother,
Philip IV., and the royal bride. Court etiquette did not yet allow
Louis XIV. to have an interview with the lady to whom he was already
married by proxy. He, however, sent to his young queen, by one of his
nobles, a present of some very fine jewels.

Though Philip IV. was the brother of Anne of Austria, and though they
had not met for many years, Spanish etiquette would not allow any
demonstrations of tenderness. The interview was chillingly stately and
dignified. Anne, for a moment forgetting the icy restraints of the
court, in sisterly love endeavored to salute her brother on the cheek.
The Spanish king held back his head, rejecting the proffered fondness.
The young bride threw herself upon her knees, requesting permission to
kiss the hand of Anne of Austria. The queen-mother lifted her from the
floor, and tenderly embraced her.

After some time had elapsed, Cardinal Mazarin entered, of course from
the French side, and, advancing to their majesties, informed them that
there was a distinguished stranger at the door who begged permission
to enter. Anne and Philip affected to hold a brief conference upon the
subject, when they gave their consent for his admission.

Louis XIV. entered in regal attire to see for the first time, and to
be seen for the first time by, his bride. As he approached, Maria
Theresa fixed her eyes upon him, and blushed deeply. Philip IV. smiled
graciously, and said audibly to Anne of Austria, "I have a very
handsome son-in-law."

As we have mentioned, there was a line separating the Spanish half of
the room from the French half. Louis advanced to the centre of the
apartment, and kneeled upon a cushion which had been provided for him
there. The King of Spain kneeled also upon a similar cushion. Cardinal
Mazarin then brought in a Bible, with a cross upon the volume. One of
the high Spanish church officials did the same on his side. The treaty
of peace was then read simultaneously to Philip IV. in Spanish, to
Louis XIV. in French. At its conclusion, they each placed their hands
upon the Bible, and took a solemn oath to observe its stipulations.
During this scene one sovereign was ceremonially in France, and the
other in Spain. Having taken the oath, they rose, and in stately
strides advanced to the frontier line. Here they cordially embraced
each other.

At the conclusion of sundry other ceremonies, some tedious, some
imposing, the two courts returned each to its own side of the river.
Maria Theresa accompanied her father. The next morning the
queen-mother, with a suitable retinue, returned to the island palace,
where she met again the bride of her son, and conducted her to her own
apartments at Saint Jean de Luz. Two days elapsed, while preparations
were made again to solemnize the marriage beneath the skies of France.

A platform was constructed, richly carpeted, from the residence of
Anne of Austria to the church. The young maiden-queen was robed in
French attire for this repetition of the nuptial ceremony. She wore a
royal mantle of violet-colored velvet, sprinkled with fleur de lis,
over a white dress. A queenly crown was upon her brow. Her gorgeous
train was borne by three of the most distinguished ladies of France.
At the conclusion of this ceremony Louis XIV. received his bride. The
king was then in the twenty-second year of his age.

Until within a week of the royal marriage, the king wrote frequently
to Mary Mancini. Then the correspondence was suddenly dropped. The
king never after seemed to manifest any interest in her fate.

After a few days of festivity, the court commenced, on the 15th of
June, its leisurely return toward Paris. Having reached Vincennes, the
illustrious cortège tarried for several days in the royal chateau
there, until preparations could be completed for a magnificent
entrance into the capital. The gorgeous spectacle took place on the
26th of August, 1660. For many weeks the saloons of the Louvre and the
Tuileries resounded with unintermitted revelry.


Very cruelly the queen-mother sent a message to Mary Mancini,
expressing her regret that she could not be present at the royal
nuptials, and requiring her to come immediately to be present at the
entrée of the king and queen into the metropolis, and to share in the
festivities of the palace. The order came to the crushed and bleeding
heart of Mary like a death-summons. Accompanied by her two sisters,
and with suitable attendants, she set forth on her sad journey. All
France was rejoicing over the royal marriage, and as her carriage
rapidly approached Paris, every hour pierced her heart with a new
pang. With all the fortitude she could summon, she could not retain
the roseate glow of health and happiness. Her cheeks were pale and
emaciate, and her forced smile only proclaimed more loudly the grief
which was consuming her heart. She alighted at the new palace of her
uncle, Cardinal Mazarin, and hastily retired to her apartment.

She had scarcely entered her room ere a letter from the cardinal was
presented to her, soliciting her hand for Prince Colonna, one of the
most illustrious nobles in wealth and rank in Europe. This marriage
would give her position scarcely second to that of any lady not seated
on a throne. The ambitious cardinal, not fully understanding the
delicate mechanism of a young lady's heart, had negotiated this
matter, hoping thus to rescue his niece from the humiliating sympathy
of the courtiers. But the noble nature of Mary recoiled from such a
rescue. She had instinctively resolved that in her own person, and by
her own individual force of character, however great might be her
sufferings, she would maintain her womanly dignity. Consequently, to
the surprise of the cardinal, she returned a cold and positive refusal
to the proposition.

Soon after this she received a communication to repair to the palace
of Fontainebleau, there to be presented to the young queen, with her
two sisters, and many others of the notabilities of the realm. The
presentation was to take place on the ensuing Sunday, immediately
after high mass. Her elder sister, the Countess de Soissons, assisted
by the Princess de Conti, was to preside at the ceremony.

Mary had just entered the audience-hall, and was approaching the queen
to be presented, when Louis XIV. entered the apartment to invite Maria
Theresa to accompany him in a walk in the park. Just at that moment
Madame de Soissons was presenting Mademoiselle _Mancini_. The king
heard the name which had once been apparently so dear to him. Without
the slightest emotion or the least sign of recognition, he bowed, as
if in the presence of a perfect stranger, and inquired of Mary
respecting her uncle the cardinal. He then exchanged a few courteous
words with the other ladies in the room with the same assumed or real
indifference, and invited all the ladies of the circle to attend the
queen in a hunt in which she was about to engage.

It seemed as if the fates had combined to expose poor Mary to every
species of mental torture. Her brain reeled, and, scarcely able to
retain her footing, she withdrew a little apart to rally her
disordered senses. Unable any longer to endure these sufferings, she
begged to be excused from attending the hunt, alleging that the feeble
health of her uncle the cardinal rendered it necessary for her to
return to Paris. Her carriage was ordered for her departure, but, at a
short distance from the chateau, she encountered the whole
hunting-party, filling the road with its splendor. Her carriage was
compelled to stop, that the king and queen and royal train might pass.

"And thus again she saw Louis, who preceded the cavalcade on
horseback, surrounded by the nobles of his court. The heart of Mary
throbbed almost to bursting. It was impossible that the king should
not recognize the livery of her uncle--the carriage in which he had so
often been seated by her side; he would not, he _could_ not pass her
by without one word. She deceived herself. His majesty was laughing at
some merry tale, by which he was so much engrossed that he rode on
without even bestowing a look upon the gilded coach and its
heart-broken occupant."[H]

[Footnote H: Louis XIV. and the Court of France, vol. ii., p. 48.]

Mary returned to Paris pondering deeply her awful destiny. She saw
that she was fated to meet continually the king and queen in their
festivities; that with a broken heart she must feign gayety and
smiles; that by lingering torture she must sink into the grave. There
was no refuge for her but to escape from Paris and from the court.
Apparently the only way to accomplish this was to accept the proffered
hand of the Prince Colonna, who would remove her from Paris to Rome.


The next morning, pale and tearless, Mary drove to Vincennes, where
Cardinal Mazarin then was, and informed him that she was ready to
marry Prince Colonna, provided the marriage could take place
immediately, and that the cardinal would, without an hour's delay,
write to the king to obtain his consent. The cardinal was rejoiced,
and proceeded with energy. The king, without one kind word, gave his
cold and indifferent consent. In accordance with the claims of
etiquette, he sent her some valuable gifts, which she did not dare to

"Mary walked to the altar," says Miss Pardoe, to whom we are indebted
for many of these details, "as she would have walked to the scaffold,
carrying with her an annual dower of one hundred thousand livres, and
perjuring herself by vows which she could not fulfill. Her after
career we dare not trace. Suffice it that the ardent and enthusiastic
spirit which would, had she been fated to happiness, have made her
memory a triumph for her sex, embittered by falsehood, wrong, and
treachery, involved her in errors over which both charity and
propriety oblige us to draw a veil; and if all Europe rang with the
enormity of her excesses, much of their origin may safely be traced to
those who, after wringing her heart, trampled it in the dust beneath
their feet."

A few days after the scenes of presentation at Fontainebleau, the
royal pair made their triumphal entry into Paris. In those days of
feudal oppression and ignorance, the masses looked up to kings and
queens with a degree of superstitious reverence which, in our
enlightened land, seems almost inconceivable. Louis XIV. was a
heartless, selfish, pleasure-loving young man of twenty-one, who had
never in his life done any thing to merit the especial esteem of any
one. Maria Theresa was an amiable and pretty girl, who never dreamed
that she had any other function than to indulge in luxuries at the
expense of others. Millions were to be impoverished that she and her
husband might pass through life reveling in luxury and charioted in
splendor. One can not contemplate such a state of things without being
agitated by the conflicting emotions of pity for such folly and
indignation for such outrages. Louis and Maria Theresa were received
by the populace of Paris with as much reverence and enthusiasm as if
they had been angels descending from heaven, fraught with every

Scarcely had the morning dawned ere the whole city was in commotion.
The streets were thronged with countless thousands in the most
brilliant gala dresses. Triumphal arches spanned the thoroughfares
through which the royal procession was to pass. Garlands of flowers
and hangings of brilliantly colored tapestry concealed the fronts of
the houses from view. The pavements were strewn with flowers and
sweet-scented herbs, over which the wheels of the carriages and the
hoofs of the horses would pass without noise. At the barrier a
gorgeous throne was erected. Here the young queen was seated in royal
state, to receive the homage of the several distinguished officers of
the city and of the realm. At the close of these ceremonies, which
were rendered as imposing as civil and ecclesiastical pomp could
create, the apparently interminable procession of carriages, and
horsemen, and footmen, with the most dazzling adornments of
caparisons, and uniforms, and banners, with resounding music, and
shouts of acclaim which seemed to rend the skies, commenced its
entrance into the city.

An antique car had been constructed, of massive and picturesque
proportions, emblazoned with gold. Upon this car the young queen was
seated. She was, in reality, very beautiful, but in this hour of
triumph, with flushed cheek and sparkling eye, robed in the richest
attire, brilliant with gems, and so conspicuously enthroned as to be
visible to every eye, she presented an aspect of almost celestial

The young king rode by her side, magnificently mounted. His garments
of velvet, richly embroidered with gold and jewels, had been prepared
for the occasion at an expense of considerably more than a million of
dollars. The splendors of this gala-day were never forgotten by those
who witnessed them.

For succeeding weeks and months the court luxuriated in one continued
round of gayety and extravagance. Night after night the magnificent
saloons of the Louvre and the Tuileries resounded with music, while
proud lords and high-born dames trod the floors in the mazy dance, and
inflamed their passions with the most costly wines. It can not be
denied that a man who is trained from infancy amidst such scenes could
acquire elegance of manner which those engrossed in the useful and
ennobling employments of life rarely attain. Neither can it be denied
that this is as poor a school as can possibly be imagined to prepare
one wisely to administer the affairs of a nation of twenty millions of
people. In fact, Louis XIV. never dreamed of consulting the interests
of the people. It was his sole object to aggrandize himself by
promoting the splendor, the power, and the glory of the monarchy.

One does well to be angry when he reflects that, to maintain this
reckless and utterly useless extravagance of the king and the court,
the millions of the peasantry of France were compelled to live in mud
hovels, to wear the coarsest garb, to eat the plainest food, while
their wives and their daughters toiled barefooted in the fields. One
would think that guilty consciences would often be appalled by the
announcement, "Know thou that for all these things God will bring thee
into judgment?"

Though this revolting state of society was the slow growth of time,
and though no one there could have regarded this aristocratic
oppression as it is now estimated in the clearer light of the present
day, still these outrages, inflicted by the strong upon the weak, by
the rich upon the poor, merit the unmitigated condemnation of men, as
they have ever incurred the denunciations of God.

Cardinal Mazarin, more than any other man in France, was accountable
for the enormous luxury of the court, and the squalid misery of the
people. He knew better. He was professedly a disciple of Jesus Christ,
and yet a more thorough worldling could hardly have been in Christian
or in pagan lands. He was one of the most gigantic robbers of the poor
of which history gives any mention.

In the midst of these festivities, Mazarin decided to invite the court
to a grand ballet, which should transcend in splendor every thing
which Paris had witnessed before. To decorate the saloons, a large
amount of costly draperies were manufactured at Milan. In arranging
these tapestries, by some accident they took fire. The flames spread
rapidly, utterly destroying the room, with its paintings and its
magnificently frescoed roof. The fire was eventually extinguished, but
the shock was a death-blow to the cardinal. He was then in feeble
health. His attendants conveyed him from the blazing room to the
Chateau Mazarin.

The terror of the scene so aggravated the maladies from which the
cardinal had for a long time suffered, that he was prostrated upon his
bed, and it soon became evident that his dying hour was near at hand.
There are many indications that the haughty cardinal was tortured by
the pangs of remorse. He was generally silent, though extremely
dejected. His body was subjected to the most extraordinary
convulsions, while inaudible murmurs escaped his lips.

Count de Brienne, in his memoirs, states that, on one occasion, he
entered the chamber of the cardinal on tiptoe, his valet informing him
that his eminence was asleep. He found Mazarin bolstered in an
arm-chair before the fire, apparently in a profound slumber, "and
yet," writes the count, "his body rocked to and fro with the greatest
rapidity, from the back of his chair to his knees, now swinging to the
right, and again to the left. These movements of the sufferer were as
regular and rapid as the vibrations of the pendulum of a clock. At the
same time inarticulate murmurs escaped his lips."

The count, much moved by the wretched spectacle, summoned the
attendant, and awoke the cardinal. Mazarin, in awaking, betrayed that
troubled state of soul which had thus agitated his body. In most
melancholy tones, he said,

"My physician, M. Guénaud, has informed me that I can live but a few

Count de Brienne, wishing to console him, said, "But M. Guénaud is
not omniscient. He may be deceived."

The cardinal, uttering a heavy sigh, exclaimed, "Ah! M. Guénaud well
understands his trade."

Mazarin, as we have mentioned, had acquired enormous wealth. The
resources of the kingdom had been in his hands. The poor had been
oppressed by as terrible a system of taxation as human nature could
endure and live. With the sums thus extorted, he had not only
maintained the army, and supported the voluptuousness of the court,
but he had also appropriated vast sums, without the slightest right to
do so, to his own private enrichment. He was now dying. The thought of
going to the bar of God with his hands full of this stolen gold
tortured him. Constrained by the anguish of a death-bed, he sent for a
Theatine monk to act as his confessor, and to administer, in his last
hours, the services of the Church.

The virtuous monk was quite startled when the cardinal, with pale and
trembling lips, informed him that he had accumulated a fortune of over
forty millions of francs--$8,000,000. Mazarin allowed that he
considered it a sin that he had by such means accumulated such vast
wealth. His pious confessor boldly declared that the cardinal would
peril his eternal salvation if he did not, before his death, make
restitution of all his ill-gotten gains, reserving only that for which
he was indebted to the bounty of the king.

The dying sinner, trembling in view of the judgment, replied in
faltering accents, "In that case I must relinquish all. I have
received nothing from the king. My family must be left in utter

The confessor was deeply moved by the aspect of despair presented by
the cardinal. Embarrassed by the difficulties of the position, he sent
for a distinguished member of the court, M. Colbert, to confer with
upon the situation.

The shrewd courtier, after a little deliberation, suggested that, as
it would be manifestly impossible to restore the money to the
different individuals, scattered all over the realm, from whom it had
been gathered in the ordinary collection of the taxes, the cardinal
should make a transfer of it, as a donation, to the sovereign. "The
king," added M. Colbert, "will, without any question, annul so
generous an act, and restore the property to you. It will then be
yours by royal grant."

The cardinal, who had lived, and moved, and had his being in the midst
of trickery and intrigue, highly approved of the suggestion. The
papers were immediately made out, transferring the property to the
king. It was the 3d of March, 1661. Three days passed, and there was
no response of rejection--no recognition of the gift. The cardinal was
terror-stricken. As he sat bolstered in his chair, he wrung his hands
in agony, often exclaiming, "My poor family! my poor family! they will
be left without bread."

At the close of the third day M. Colbert entered the dying chamber
with a document in his hand, announcing that the king had restored to
the cardinal all his property, authorizing him to dispose of it as he
judged to be best.

It is scarcely possible that this trickery could have satisfied the
conscience of the cardinal. His confessor professed to be satisfied,
and granted the dying man that absolution which he had previously
withheld. Still Mazarin was extremely reluctant to die. He dressed
with the utmost care; painted his wrinkled brow and emaciate cheeks,
and resorted to all the appliances of art to maintain the aspect of
youth and vigor. But death could not thus be deceived. The destroying
angel on the 9th of March bore his spirit away to the judgment seat of
Christ. He died in the Chateau Mazarin, at the age of fifty-two,
having been virtually monarch of France for eighteen years.

[Illustration: CHATEAU MAZARIN.]

It appeared by the will of Mazarin that his property was vastly
greater even than the enormous sum which he had reluctantly admitted.
That portion of it which might be included under the term real estate,
consisting of houses, lands, etc., amounted to over fifty millions of
francs, while his personal effects, embracing the most costly
furniture, diamonds, and other jewels, of which he strictly forbade
any inventory to be taken, amounted to many millions more. The
legacies to his nieces and to other aristocratic friends were truly
princely. To the _poor_ he left a miserable pittance amounting to
about twelve hundred dollars.

The cardinal was a heartless, avaricious man, of but little ability,
and yet endowed with a very considerable degree of that cunning which
sometimes proves to be temporarily so successful in diplomatic
intrigues. The king was probably glad to be rid of him, for he could
not easily throw off a yoke to which he had been habituated from
childhood. During most of the cardinal's illness Louis continued his
usual round of feasting and dancing. Upon his death he manifested no
grief. It seems that he had previously made up his mind no longer to
be troubled by a prime minister, but to rule absolutely by his own

Two days before the death of Mazarin, when he was no longer capable of
transacting any business, the president of the ecclesiastical assembly
inquired of the king "to whom he must hereafter address himself on
questions of public business." The emphatic and laconic response was,
"_To myself_."




Influence and reputation of Mazarin.--Character of M.
Fouquet.--Information given by M. Colbert.--Appearance of Louis
XIV.--Charles II., King of England, and family.--The Princess
Henrietta.--Marriage of Philip.--Fascinations of Henrietta.--Grief
of Maria Theresa.--The queen-mother appealed to.--Mademoiselle de
la Vallière.--Visit to the palace of Blois.--Fascination
of Louis.--Louise captivated.--Festivities at
Fontainebleau.--Discussion of the court ladies.--Vexation of
Louise.--Discovery by Louis.--Louis and Mademoiselle de
Vallière.--Sudden interruption of festivities.--Attentions of
Louis.--Anecdote.--The lottery and the bracelets.--The palace of
Vaux.--Splendor of the palace.--Rebuke of Louis.--Magnificent
scenes.--Continued festivities.--Significant motto.--Fouquet
in danger.--Intervention of Louise.--M. Fouquet
imprisoned.--Continued gayety at court.--Important
dispatches.--The king's orders.--Relationship of the French and
Spanish courts.--The apology of Philip IV.--Conduct of M.
Créqui.--The Pope humbled.--Remorse of de la Vallière.--Illness
of Anne of Austria.--Trials of Mademoiselle de la
Vallière.--Disappointment.--Flight of Mademoiselle de la
Vallière.--Seeks admission to the convent, and is
denied.--Reproaches of the queen-mother.--Fury of Louis.--Power
of Louis over Mademoiselle de la Vallière.--Return of Mademoiselle
de la Vallière to the court.--Reinstated.--Resolve of
Louis.--Versailles.--Extravagance of the king.--Magnificent fêtes.

Cardinal Mazarin was exceedingly unpopular both with the court and the
masses of the people. Haughty, domineering, avaricious, there was
nothing in his character to win the kindly regards of any one. His
death gave occasion to almost universal rejoicing. Indeed, it was with
some difficulty that the king repressed the unseemly exhibition of
this joy on the part of the court. The cardinal, as we have mentioned,
had been for many years virtually monarch of France. He, in the name
of the king, imposed the taxes, appointed the ministry, issued all
orders, and received all reports. The accountability was so entire to
him that the monarch, immersed in pleasure, had but little to do with
reference to the affairs of the realm.

Immediately upon the death of Mazarin, the king summoned to his
presence Tellier, minister of War, Lionne, minister of State, and
Fouquet, minister of the Treasury. He informed them that he should
continue them in office, but that henceforth he should dispense with
the services of a prime minister, and that they would be responsible
to him alone. The young king was then twenty-two years of age. He was
very poorly educated, had hitherto developed no force of character,
and appeared to all to be simply a frivolous, pompous, self-conceited
young man of pleasure.

Fouquet had held the keys of the treasury. When the king needed money
he applied to him for a supply. The almost invariable reply he
received was,

"Sire, the treasury is empty, but his eminence will undoubtedly
advance to your majesty a loan."

The money came, the king little cared where from while reveling in
luxury, and dancing and flirting with the beauties who crowded his

Fouquet was an able but thoroughly unprincipled man. He had grown
enormously rich by robbing the treasury. The king disliked him. But
Fouquet knew that the king could not dispense with his services. He
was a marvelously efficient financier, and well knew how to wrench
gold from the hands of the starving millions. The property he had
acquired by fraud was so great that he often outvied the king in the
splendor of his establishments. Conscious of his power, he doubted not
that he should still be able to hold the king, in a measure, subject
to his control.

Scarcely had Louis returned from his brief conference with his
ministers to his cabinet at the Louvre, ere the secretary of the
deceased cardinal, M. Colbert, entered, and requested a private
audience. He informed the king, to his astonishment and inexpressible
delight, that the cardinal had concealed fifteen millions of money
(three millions of dollars) in addition to the sums mentioned in his
will; that it was doubtless his intention that this money should
immediately replenish the utterly exhausted treasury of his majesty.

The king was overjoyed. He could scarcely believe the intelligence.
Concealing the tidings from Fouquet, he speedily and secretly
recovered the money from the several places in which it had been
deposited. Fifteen millions of francs would be a large sum at any
time, but two hundred years ago it was worth three or four times as
much as now. Fouquet was utterly bewildered in attempting to imagine
where the king had obtained the sums he was so lavishly expending.

Louis XIV. by nature and by education was excessively fond of the pomp
and the punctilios of court etiquette. As this new era of independence
dawned upon him, it was his first and most anxious object to regulate
even to the minutest details the ceremonies of the court. He was of
middling stature. High-heeled shoes added between two and three inches
to his height. His hair was very fine and abundant, and he wore it
long, in masses of ringlets upon his shoulders. Deep blue eyes, a fair
complexion, and well moulded features formed an unusually handsome
countenance. He was stately in his movements, pompous in his
utterance, and every word of every sentence was pronounced slowly and
with distinct enunciation, as if an oracle were giving out its

There was no resemblance morally, intellectually, or physically
between the king and his only brother Philip. They did not love each
other. During their whole lives there had been one perpetual struggle
on the part of the king to domineer over his brother, and on the part
of Philip to resist that domination. Philip was gentle in
disposition, effeminate in manners, and, though a voluptuary in his
tastes, a man of chivalric courage. As Duke of Orleans he had large
wealth, many retainers, and feudal privileges, which invested him with
power which even the king was compelled to respect.

Charles II. was now King of England. The whole nation had apparently
received him with exultation. Suddenly, from being a penniless and
crownless wanderer, he had become a sovereign, second in rank and
power to no other sovereign in Europe. His mother Henrietta, his
widowed sister the Princess of Orange, and his younger sister
Henrietta, of course, shared in the prosperity and elevation of
Charles. They were no longer pensioners upon the charity of their
French relatives, but composed the royal family of the British court.

It will be remembered how cruelly Louis treated his young cousin in
the ball-room in the days of her adversity. Charles in those days had
solicited of Mazarin the hand of his niece, Mary Mancini. But the
proud cardinal promptly rejected the offer of a wandering prince,
without purse or crown. Very soon after Charles II. ascended the
throne of England, Mazarin hastened to inform him that he was ready
to confer upon him his niece. Charles, a profligate fellow, declined
the proffered alliance, to the great chagrin of the haughty cardinal.

Prosperity is sometimes a great beautifier. The young Princess
Henrietta, upon whom the sun of prosperity was now shining in all its
effulgence, seemed like a new being, radiantly lovely and self
reliant. Philip fell desperately in love with her. With a form of
exquisite symmetry, with the fairest complexion and lovely features,
she suddenly found herself the sister of a monarch, transformed into
the principal ornament, almost the central attraction, of the court.
She went to England to attend the coronation of her brother. She then
returned to Paris. On the 31st of March, 1661, she was married to
Philip in the Palais Royal, in the presence of the royal family and
the prominent members of the court.

A few weeks after this the whole court removed to Fontainebleau. Here
a month was spent in an incessant round of festivities. The fickle
king, as soon as his brother had married Henrietta, saw in her new
personal beauty and mental charms. It is not improbable that she
almost unconsciously, in order to avenge the past neglect of the
king, had studied all courtly graces, all endearments of manner, all
conversational charms, that she might compel the king to do justice to
the fascinations of person and character with which she was conscious
of being richly endowed. Unhappily, she was triumphantly successful;
perhaps far more so than she had intended. The changeful and
susceptible king became completely entranced. He was continually by
her side, exasperating Philip by his gallantry, and keenly wounding
the feelings of his young queen.

The marriage of the king with Maria Theresa had been merely a matter
of state policy. The connection had not been inspired by any ardent
affection on either side. Though the king treated her with great
politeness as the Queen of France, her enthusiastic nature claimed a
warmer sentiment from her young husband. When she saw the attentions
to which she was entitled lavished upon Henrietta, the wife of his
brother, her affectionate heart was chilled. She became reserved,
wept, sought retirement, withdrawing from all those gayeties in which
her husband attracted the attention of the whole court by his
undisguised admiration for Henrietta. At last her secret anguish so
far overcame her that she threw herself, trembling and in tears, at
the feet of Anne of Austria, and confided to her the grief of her

The queen-mother could not have been surprised at this avowal. Her
eyes were open to that which all the court beheld; and, besides,
Philip had already complained to his mother that Louis was endeavoring
to rob him of the love of his bride. The remonstrances of the
queen-mother were of no avail. The selfish king, ever seeking only his
own pleasure, cared little for the wreck of the happiness of others.
He devoted himself with increasing assiduity to the society of
Henrietta, frequently held his court in her apartments, and instituted
a series of magnificent fêtes in her honor.

Philip, then Duke of Orleans, and in the enjoyment of magnificent
revenues and of much independent feudal power as brother of the king,
was designated in the court as _Monsieur_. There was at that time in
the court a young lady, one of Henrietta's maids of honor,
Mademoiselle de la Vallière. Her romantic career, which subsequently
rendered her famous throughout Europe, merits a brief digression.

Louise Françoise, daughter of the Marquis de la Vallière, was born at
Tours in the year 1644. She was, consequently, seventeen years of age
at the time of which we write. Her father died in her infancy. Her
mother, left with an illustrious name and a small income, took for a
second husband a member of the court, Gaston, duke of Orleans, to whom
we have previously alluded, who was brother of Louis XIII. and uncle
of the king. He resided at Blois.

As the king and court were on their way to the frontiers of Spain for
the marriage of Louis with Maria Theresa, it will be remembered that
he stopped for a short visit to his uncle at his magnificent palace of
Blois. This grand castle, with its gorgeous architectural
magnificence, its shaded parks and blooming gardens, was to Louise and
her many companions an earthly paradise. Here, in an incessant round
of pleasures, she had passed her girlhood.

The sight of the young monarch, so graceful in figure, so handsome in
features, so marvelously courteous in bearing, aroused all the
enthusiasm of the susceptible young maiden of sixteen. He was her
sovereign, as well as to her eyes the most fascinating specimen of a
man. She felt as though she were gazing upon a superior, almost a
celestial being. She dreamed not of having fallen in love with him.
The feeling of admiration, and almost of adoration, was altogether too
elevated for earthly passion. In the presence of the king she was but
an obscure child. In the crowded assemblage of wealth, and rank, and
beauty which greeted the king at Blois, Louise was unnoticed. The king
went on his way, leaving an impression on the heart of the young girl
which could never be effaced. She thought it would be heaven to live
in his presence, to watch his movements, to listen to his words, even
though no word were addressed to her.

Soon after this the Duke of Orleans died. His court was broken up.
Louise was appointed to a place as one of the maids of honor of the
Princess Henrietta. She joined the court of _Madame_ in Paris just
before their departure for Fontainebleau, to which place, of course,
she accompanied them.

Here, in the midst of scenes of most brilliant festivities, Louise
feasted her eyes with the sight of the king. Louis was exceedingly
fond of exhibiting his grace as a dancer. Among these entertainments,
the king took part in a ballet with Henrietta, he, in very
picturesque dress, representing the goddess Ceres. At the close of the
ballet, Louise, bewildered by the scene, and oppressed by inexplicable
emotions, proposed to three of her lady companions that they should
take a short walk into the dim recesses of the forest. It was a
brilliant night, and the cool breeze fanned their fevered cheeks. As
the four young ladies retired, one of the companions of the king
laughingly suggested to him that they should follow them, and learn
the secret of their hearts.

The ladies seated themselves at the foot of a large tree, where they
began to discuss the scenes and actors of the evening. The king and
his companion, concealed at a short distance, heard every word they
uttered. Louise was for a time silent, but, being appealed to upon
some subject, with very emphatic utterance remarked that she wondered
that they could see any body, or think of any body but the king, when
he was present. Upon her companions rallying her for being so much
carried away by the splendors of royalty, she declared "that it was
not the king, as a _king_, who excited her admiration, but it was
Louis, as the most perfect of men; that his crown added nothing to
his splendor of person or mind."

The king could not see the speaker; he could only hear her
enthusiastic and impassioned voice. The parties returned to the
chateau. Louise was very much chagrined that she should have allowed
herself so imprudently to express her feelings. She knew that the
conversation would be repeated, and feared that she should become a
subject of ridicule for the whole court. In the interesting account
which she gives of these events in her autobiography, she says that
she retired to her room and wept bitterly.

The next morning Louise repaired to the apartments of Henrietta. She
was surrounded by her suite of ladies. The king was already there. As,
with his accustomed gallantry, he passed down the room addressing a
few words to each, he approached Louise. Her heart throbbed violently.
He had never spoken to her before.

In response to his question, "And what did you think of the ballet
last night?" she, greatly agitated, attempted an answer. The king
observed her confusion, and instantly recognized her voice. It was the
same which he had heard the evening before in the forest expressing
such enthusiastic admiration for his person. The king started, and
fixed his eyes so intently upon her as to increase her embarrassment
and attract the observation of all around. With a profound bow the
king passed on, but again and again was seen to turn his eyes to the
blushing girl. From that time Mademoiselle de la Vallière became the
object of the marked and flattering attention of the king.

The unaffected timidity and modesty of her demeanor, her brilliant
complexion, large and languishing blue eyes, and profusion of flaxen
hair, were enough of themselves to excite the admiration of one so
enamored of beauty as was Louis XIV. But, in addition to this, the
self-love of Louis was gratified by the assurance that Louise admired
him for his personal qualities, and not merely for his kingly crown.
As the king was well aware of the gossip with which the court was
filled in view of his devotion to Madame Henrietta, he perhaps deemed
it expedient, by special attention to Louise, to divert the current of
thought and conversation.

A few days after this a great hunt took place in the park. It was a
hot summer's day. At the close of the hunt a table was spread loaded
with delicacies. As the king and the courtiers, in the keenest
enjoyment of the merry scene, were partaking of the sumptuous repast,
almost unobserved a thunder-cloud arose, and there descended upon them
a flood of rain so deluging that the company scattered in all
directions for shelter. Louise running, she knew not where, soon found
the king by her side. Politely taking her by the hand, he hurried her
to a large tree, whose dense canopy of leaves promised some protection
from the shower. There they stood, the young and handsome king, the
beautiful maiden, the rain falling upon them in floods. It is
interesting to record that the homage which rank paid to beauty was
such that the king stood bareheaded, with his plumed hat in his hand,
engaged during the hour the rain descended in animated conversation.
After this it was observed that in the evening drives in the park he
would ride on horseback for a short time by the carriage of the queen,
or of the Princess Henrietta, and would then gallop to the coach of

He soon commenced a daily correspondence with her. Louis was by no
means a well-educated man. In fact, he might be almost regarded as
illiterate; but his letters were written with so much delicacy of
sentiment and elegance of expression, that Louise was embarrassed in
knowing how to return suitable replies. She was mortified at the
thought of having her awkward letters compared with the elegant
epistles which she received. In her embarrassment, she applied to the
Marquis of Dangeau, a man of superior talents and culture, to write
her responses for her.

Louise was a very noble girl, frank, sincere, confiding. On one
occasion, when the king was complimenting her upon the rare beauty of
her letters, the artless child confessed that she was not the author
of them, but that they were written by the Marquis of Dangeau. The
king smiled, and had the grace to admit that his letters to her were
written by the same individual!

It had become a common entertainment of the court to put up in a
lottery some beautiful article of jewelry. On one occasion the king
drew a very costly pair of bracelets. All were looking with some
curiosity to see to whom he would present them. Pausing for a moment,
the king admiringly contemplated the sparkling gems, and then,
threading his way through the throng of ladies, advanced to
Mademoiselle de la Vallière, who stood a little apart, and placed them
in her hands. Henrietta turned pale, and bit her lip with vexation.
The queen, Maria Theresa, looked on with a marble smile, which
revealed nothing of her feelings. Louise was embarrassed, but with
admirable tact she assumed that the king had merely presented them to
her for inspection. After carefully examining them, she handed them
back to him, saying, with a courtesy, "They are indeed very
beautiful." Louis, instead of receiving them, said, with a stately
bow, "In that case, mademoiselle, they are in hands too fair to resign
them," and returned to his seat.

As we have mentioned, the minister of the treasury was rolling in
ill-gotten wealth. His palace of Vaux,[I] upon which he had expended
fifteen millions of francs, eclipsed in splendor the royal palaces of
Fontainebleau and Saint Germain. The king disliked him as a man. He
knew very well that he was robbing the treasury, and it was annoying
to have a subject live in state surpassing that of the sovereign. M.
Fouquet very imprudently invited Louis and all his court to a
magnificent fête at his chateau. All the notabilities of France were
bidden to this princely festival, which the minister resolved should
surpass, in splendor, any thing that France had hitherto witnessed.

[Footnote I: The chateau of Vaux was a spacious and magnificent palace
in the small village of Maincy, about three miles from Melun. M.
Fouquet purchased it, and expended enormous sums in enlarging the
buildings, ornamenting the gardens, and decorating the walls with
paintings. His expenditures were so lavish that the chateau exceeded
in magnificence any of the royal palaces.]

The king, with an imposing escort, reached the gates of the chateau.
Fouquet met him there, and conducted him and all the court, first, to
the park. Here a spectacle of splendor presented itself which
astonished the king. Notwithstanding all he had heard of the
gorgeousness of his minister's palace, he was still not prepared for
such a scene of luxury and enchantment. Instead of being gratified, he
turned to Fouquet, and said to him bitterly,

"I shall never again, sir, venture to invite you to visit me. You
would find yourself inconvenienced."

Fouquet felt the keen rebuke. For a moment he turned pale. He soon,
however, rallied, and did all in his power to gratify his guests by
the gorgeous spectacles and sumptuous entertainments of his more than
regal home. The king, led by his host, passed through all the
apartments of the chateau, and acknowledged that in its interior
adornings there was not probably another edifice in Europe which could
equal it in magnificence.

[Illustration: CHATEAU DE VAUX.]

In the evening there was a ball in the grand saloon of the castle. The
king having danced several times with Louise, she became fatigued, and
expressed the desire to leave, for a short time, the heated room.
Louis drew her arm through his own, and, conducting her through the
magnificent suite of apartments, which had already excited his
displeasure, pointed out to her the armorial bearings of the proud
minister, which were conspicuous in every room. The shield represented
a squirrel ascending the topmost branches of a tree, with the motto
"_quo non ascendam_."

Neither the king nor his fair companion understood Latin. Just then
the king's secretary, M. Colbert, entered. He hated Fouquet. He had
already detected the minister in many falsifications of the treasury
accounts, and had explained the robbery to the king. Louis had been
for some time contemplating the arrest of Fouquet, but hardly dared,
as yet, to strike one so powerful.

As M. Colbert entered, Louise inquired of him the significance of the

"It signifies," he replied, "_to what height may I not attain_, and
this significance is well understood by those who know the boldness of
the squirrel or that of his master."

Just at that moment another courtier came up, who remarked, "Your
majesty has probably not observed that in every instance the squirrel
is pursued by a serpent."

The king turned pale with anger, and ordered the captain of his
musketeers to attend him. Louise understood full well what this meant.
She threw herself at his feet, and entreated him not to sully his
reputation by arresting a man whose guest he was, and who was
entertaining him and his court with the highest honors. With the
greatest difficulty, the king was dissuaded from immediate action. For
a time he smothered his vengeance, and the court returned to

The king's displeasure not only remained unabated, but increased with
added evidence of the pride, display, and fraudulent transactions of
his minister. At length he ordered him to be secretly arrested,
conveyed in close confinement to Angers, while a seal was placed on
all his property. But for the interposition of the kind-hearted
Louise, the degraded minister would have lost his life. It was easy
for the king, immersed in pleasure, to forget the miserable. M.
Fouquet was left in his imprisonment, almost as entirely lost to the
world as if he had been consigned to the _oubliettes_ of the Bastile.

Soon after this, the 1st of November, 1661, Maria Theresa gave birth
to a dauphin. Louis was greatly elated. Still, the pride which he
took in the child as the heir to the throne did not secure for his
neglected wife any more tenderness of regard. He treated her with
great courtesy, while his affections were vibrating between Henrietta
and Louise. Every thing seemed to combine to magnify the power of the
king. Still, the pleasure-loving monarch, while apparently wholly
resigning himself to the career of a voluptuary, was with instinctive
sagacity striving to undermine the resources of the haughty nobility,
and to render his own court the most magnificent in Europe.

For several months the court continued immersed in gayety. Dancing, in
all variety of costumes, was the great amusement of the king. There
were balls every evening. Mademoiselle de la Vallière became more and
more the object of the marked attentions of Louis. All his energies
seemed absorbed in the small-talk of gallantry; still there were
occasional indications that there were latent forces in the mind of
the king which events might yet develop.

One evening the king was attending a brilliant ball in the apartments
of Henrietta. As he was earnestly engaged in conversation with the
beautiful Louise, some important dispatches were placed in his hands.
He seated himself at a table to examine them. Many eyes watched his
countenance as he silently perused the documents. It was observed at
one moment that he turned deadly pale, and bit his lip with vexation.
Having read the dispatches to the end, he angrily crushed them in his
hand, and said to several of the officers of the court who were around

"Our embassador in London has been publicly insulted by the Spanish
embassador." Then turning to M. Tellier, the Minister of War, he said,
"Let my embassador at Madrid leave that city immediately. Order the
Spanish envoy to quit Paris within twenty-four hours. The conferences
at Flanders are at an end. Unless Spain publicly recognizes the
superiority of our crown, she may prepare for a renewal of the war."

These orders of the king created general consternation. It was
virtually inaugurating another war, with all its untold horrors. M.
Tellier seemed thunderstruck. The king, perceiving his hesitation,
said to him imperiously,

"Do you not understand my orders? I wish you immediately to assemble
the council. I will meet them in an hour."

The king then returned to the ladies, and entered into trifling
small-talk with them, as if nothing of moment had occurred.

It seems that a dispute had arisen in London between the French and
Spanish embassadors upon the point of precedence. This had led to a
bloody encounter in the streets between the retinues of the two
ministers. The French were worsted. The Spaniards gained the contested

The King of Spain was the brother of Anne of Austria. His first wife,
the mother of Maria Theresa, was sister of Louis XIII., and
consequently aunt of Louis XIV. Thus there was a peculiar bond of
relationship between the French and Spanish courts. Still Louis was
unrelenting in the vigorous action upon which he had entered. In
addition to the hostile measures already adopted, a special messenger
was sent to Philip IV. to inform him that, unless he immediately
recognized the supremacy of the French court, and made a formal
apology for the insult offered the French minister, war would ensue.
The Spanish king, unwilling, for so trivial a cause, to involve the
two nations in a bloody conflict, very magnanimously yielded to the
requirements demanded by the hot blood and wounded pride of his
son-in-law. In the presence of all the foreign ministers and the
assembled court at Fontainebleau, the Spanish embassador made a humble
apology, and declared that never again should the precedence of the
embassador of France be denied.

A very similar difficulty occurred a short time after at Rome. The
French embassador there, the Duke of Créqui, an old feudal noble,
accompanied by troops of retainers armed to the teeth, had, by his
haughty bearing, become extremely unpopular both with the court and
the people of Rome. The myrmidons of the duke were continually engaged
in night-brawls with the police. On one occasion they even attacked,
sword in hand, the Pope's guard, and put them to flight. The brother
of Pope Alexander VII., who hated Créqui, instigated the guard to take
revenge. In an infuriated mob, they surrounded the palace of the
embassador, and fired upon his carriage as it entered his court-yard.
A page was killed, and several other attendants wounded. Créqui
immediately left the city, accusing the Pope of instigating the

Louis XIV. demanded reparation, and the most humble apology. The
proud Pope was not disposed to yield to his insolent demands. Affairs
assumed so threatening an aspect, that the Pope ordered two of the
guard, one an officer, to be hung, and the Mayor of Rome, who was
accused of having instigated the outrage, to be banished. This
concession, however, by no means satisfied the irascible Louis. He
commenced landing troops in Italy, threatening to besiege Rome. The
Pope appealed to the Roman Catholic princes of Germany for aid. They
could not come to his rescue, for they were threatened with war by the
Turks. The unhappy Pope was thus brought upon his knees. He was
compelled to banish from Rome his own brother, Don Mario Chigi, and to
send an embassador to Paris with the most humble apology.

These events were but slight episodes in the gay life of the
pleasure-loving king. He was still reveling in an incessant round of
feasting and dancing, flitting with his gay court from one to another
of his metropolitan and rural palaces.

There are few so stern as not to feel emotions of sympathy rather than
of condemnation for Louise de la Vallière. She was a child of
seventeen, exposed to all the fascinations and temptations of the most
luxurious court then upon the globe. But God has implanted in every
bosom a sense of right and wrong. She wept bitterly over her fall. Her
remorse was so great that she withdrew as far as possible from
society, and the anguish of her repentance greatly embarrassed her
royal lover.

Henrietta was greatly annoyed at the preference which the king had
shown for Louise over herself. She determined to drive the unfortunate
favorite from the court. Anne of Austria, with increasing years, was
growing oblivious of her own youthful indiscretions, and was daily
becoming more stern in her judgments. A cancer had commenced its
secret ravages upon her person. Its progress no medical skill could
arrest. She tried to conceal the terrible secret which was threatening
her with the most loathsome and distressing of deaths. In this mood of
mind the haughty queen sent for the weeping Louise to her room.
Trembling in every nerve, the affrighted child attended the summons.
She found Anne of Austria with Henrietta by her side. The queen,
without assigning any cause, sternly informed her that she was
banished from the court of France, and that suitable attendants would
immediately convey her to a distant castle. Upon Louise attempting to
make some inquiry why she was thus punished, the haughty queen sternly
interrupted her with the reply "that France could not have two

Louise staggered back to her room overwhelmed with despair. Both God
and man will declare that, whatever fault there might have been in the
relations then existing between the king and this unprotected girl,
the censure should have rested a thousand fold more heavily upon the
king than upon his victim. And yet Louise was to be driven in ignominy
from the court, to enter into a desolated world utterly ruined.
Through the remainder of the day no one entered her apartment. She
spent the hours in tears and in the fever of despair. In the evening
Louis himself came to her room and found her exhausted with weeping.
He endeavored to ascertain the cause of her overwhelming distress.
She, unwilling to be the occasion of an irreconcilable feud between
the mother and the son, evaded all his inquiries. He resorted to
entreaties, reproaches, threats, but in vain. Irritated by her
pertinacious refusal, he suddenly left her without speaking a word of

Louise seemed now truly to be alone in the world, without a single
friend left her. But she then recalled to mind that she had formerly
entered into an agreement with the king that, in case of any
misunderstanding arising between them, a night should not pass without
an attempt at reconciliation. A new hope arose in her mind that the
king would either return, or send her a note to inform her that his
anger no longer continued.

"And so she waited and watched, and counted every hour as it was
proclaimed from the belfry of the palace. But she waited and watched
in vain. When at length, after this long and weary night, the daylight
streamed through the silken curtains of her chamber, she threw herself
upon her knees, and praying that God would not cast away the victim
who was thus rejected by the world, she hastened, with a burning cheek
and a tearless eye, to collect a few necessary articles of clothing,
and throwing on her veil and mantle, rushed down a private staircase
and escaped into the street. In this distracted state of mind she
pursued her way to Chaillot,[J] and reached the convent of the
Sisters of St. Mary, where she was detained some time in the parlor.
At length the grating was opened and a portress appeared. On her
request to be admitted to the abbess, she informed her that the
community were all at their devotions, and could not see any one.

[Footnote J: Chaillot was a village on the banks of the Seine, about a
mile and a half from the Tuileries, near the present bridge of Jena.
The nuns of the order of St. Mary had a celebrated convent here, where
persecuted grandeur often sought an asylum. Within the walls of this
convent the widowed queen of Charles I. and daughter of Henry IV. died
in the year 1669.]

"It was in vain that the poor fugitive entreated and asserted her
intention of taking the vows. She could extort no other answer, and
the portress withdrew, leaving her sitting on a wooden bench desolate,
heart-sick. For two hours she remained motionless, with her eyes fixed
upon the grating, but it continued closed. Even the dreary refuge of
this poor and obscure convent was denied her. Even the house of
religion had barred its doors against her. She could bear up no
longer. From the previous evening she had not tasted food, and the
fatigue of body and anguish of mind which she had undergone, combined
with this unaccustomed fast, had exhausted her slight remains of
strength. A sullen torpor gradually overcame her faculties, and
eventually she fell upon the paved floor cold and insensible."[K]

[Footnote K: Louis XIV. and the Court of France, vol. ii., p. 125.]

The king had probably passed a very uncomfortable night. Early in the
morning he learned that Louise had disappeared. Much alarmed, he
hastened to the apartments of Madame Henrietta in the Tuileries. She
unfeelingly expressed entire ignorance of the movements of
Mademoiselle de la Vallière. He immediately repaired to the rooms of
his mother. She was unable to give him any information respecting the
lost favorite. Bitterly, however, she reproached her son with his want
of self-control in allowing himself to cherish so strong an attachment
to Mademoiselle de la Vallière. She accused him of having no mastery
over himself.

The king's eyes flashed with indignation. He was fully convinced that
his mother was in some way the cause of the departure of Louise.
Angrily he replied,

"It may be so that I do not know how to control myself, but I will at
least prove that I know how to control those who offend me."

Turning upon his heel, he left the apartment. By some means he
obtained a clew to the retreat of Louise. Mounting his horse,
accompanied by a single page, he galloped to the convent of Chaillot.
As there had been no warning of his approach, the grating still
remained closed. He arrived just after the poor girl had fallen from
the wooden bench upon the tesselated floor of the cold and cheerless
anteroom. Her beautiful form lay apparently lifeless before him. Tears
fell profusely from his eyes. He chafed her hands and temples. In
endearing terms he entreated her to awake. Gradually she revived.
Frankly she related the cause of her departure, and entreated him to
permit her to spend the remainder of her saddened life buried in the
cloisters of the convent.

The king insisted, with all his authority as a monarch, and with all
his persuasive influence as a man, that Louise should return with him
to the Louvre. He was inspired with the double passion of love for
her, and anger against those who had driven her from his court.
Louise, saddened in heart and crushed in spirit, with great reluctance
at last yielded to his pleadings. The page was dispatched for a
carriage. Seated by the side of the king, Mademoiselle de la Vallière
returned to the palace, from which she supposed a few hours before she
had departed forever. Louis immediately repaired to the apartment of
Madame Henrietta, and so imperiously insisted that Louise should be
restored to her place as one of her maids of honor, that his
sister-in-law dared not refuse. The influence of Anne of Austria was
now nearly at an end. She was dying of slow disease, and,
notwithstanding all her efforts to conceal the loathsome malady which
was devouring her, she was compelled to spend most of her time in the
seclusion of her own chamber.

Louis XIV., in the exercise of absolute power, with all the court
bowing before him in the most abject homage, had gradually begun to
regard himself almost as a God. He had never recovered from the
mortification which he had experienced at the palace of Vaux, in
finding a subject living in splendor which outvied that of the crown.
He determined to rear a palace of such extraordinary magnificence that
no subject, whatever might be his resources, could equal it. For some
time he had been looking around for the site of the building, which
he had resolved should, like the Pyramids, be a monument of his reign,
and excite the wonder and admiration of future ages.

About twelve miles from Paris there was a little village of
Versailles, surrounded by an immense forest, whose solemn depths
frequently resounded with the baying of the hounds of hunting-parties,
as the gayly dressed court swept through the glades.

On one occasion, Louis XIV., in the eagerness of the chase, became
separated from most of the rest of the party. Night coming on, he was
compelled, and the few companions with him, to take refuge in a
windmill, where they remained till morning. The mill was erected upon
the highest point of ground. The king caused a small pavilion to be
erected there for his accommodation, should he again chance to be
overtaken by night or a storm. Pleased with the position, the king ere
long removed the pavilion, and ordered his architect, Lemercier, to
erect upon the spot an elegant chateau according to his own taste. A
landscape gardener was also employed to ornament the grounds. The
region soon was embellished with such loveliness as to charm every
beholder. It became the favorite rural resort of the king.

The chateau and its grounds soon witnessed a series of festivities,
the fame of which resounded through all Europe. Republican America
will ponder the fact, which the aristocratic courts of Europe ignored,
that these entertainments of boundless extravagance were at the
expense of the overtaxed and starving people. That king and courtiers
might riot in luxury, the wives and daughters of peasants were
harnessed by the side of donkeys to drag the plow.

Early in the spring of 1664, the king, accompanied by his court of six
hundred individuals, gentlemen and ladies, with a throng of servants,
repaired to Versailles. The personal expenses of all the guests were
defrayed by the king with the money which he wrested from the people.
With almost magical rapidity, the artificers reared cottages, stages,
porticoes, for the exhibition of games, and the display of splendor
scarcely equaled in the visions of Oriental romances.

The first entertainment was a tournament. The cavaliers were
gorgeously dressed in the most glittering garb of the palmiest days of
feudalism, magnificently mounted with wondrous trappings, with their
shields and devices, with their attendant pages, equerries, heralds
at arms. Among them all the king shone pre-eminent. His dress, and the
housings of his charger, embellished with the crown jewels, glittered
with a profusion of costly gems which no one else could equal.

The queen, with three hundred ladies of the court, brilliant in
beauty, and in the most attractive dress, sat upon a platform, beneath
triumphal arches, to view the procession as it passed. The gleaming
armor of the cavaliers, their prancing steeds, the waving of silken
banners, and the flourish of trumpets, presented a spectacle such as
no one present had ever conceived of before.

The tilting did not cease till evening. Suddenly the blaze of four
thousand torches illumined the scene with new brilliance. Tables were
spread for a banquet, loaded with every delicacy.

"The tables were served by two hundred attendants, habited as dryads,
wood deities, and fawns. Behind the tables, which were in the form of
a vast crescent, an orchestra arose as if by magic. The tables were
illuminated by five hundred girandoles. A gilt balustrade inclosed the
whole of the immense area."




Continued festivities.--Molière.--Cost of
Versailles.--Lenôtre.--Mansard.--Large sum squandered.--Magnificent
room at Versailles.--Ill feeling toward La Vallière.--Anne of Austria
becomes more ill.--Illness of Maria Theresa.--The king sick.--Abode of
Madame Henrietta.--Sufferings of the queen-mother.--Death of Philip
IV. of Spain.--Increasing ambition of Louis XIV.--Festivities at St.
Cloud.--Dying scene.--Death of the queen-mother.--Funeral
ceremonies.--The Abbey of St. Denis.--Duchess of Vaujours.--Madame de
Montespan.--Daily developments.--Duke de Mazarin--his cynicism.--He
is silenced by the king.--Sale of Dunkirk.--Inconsistencies in
the character of Louis.--Treachery of Montespan.--Sorrows of
Louise.--Letters of the Marquis de Montespan.--Alarm of the
marchioness.--Cowardice of the Pope.--Sorrow of the marquis.--Vexation
of Louis.--Petty jealousies.--Employments of the king.--Remarks of
Louis upon court etiquette.--They are unanswerable.--Conquest of
Holland determined on.--Henrietta embassadress to England.--Louise
Rénée.--The bribe.--Constant bickerings.--Alliance between France
and England.--Festivities thereon.--Maria Theresa.--Vivacity of
Henrietta.--Henrietta poisoned.--Intense suffering.--Arrival of the
king.--Death scene of Henrietta.--Suspicion of Louis.--Development of
facts.--Statements of M. Pernon.--Testimony of M. Pernon.--Return of
Chevalier de Lorraine.--Marriage of Monsieur.--Portrait of Charlotte
Elizabeth.--Her power of sarcasm.--Sharp reproof of Madame de Fienne.

The festivities to which we have alluded in the last chapter, the
expenses of which were sufficient almost to exhaust the revenues of a
kingdom, lasted seven days. The prizes awarded to the victors in the
lists were very costly and magnificent. The renowned dramatist Molière
accompanied the court on this occasion, to contribute to its amusement
by the exhibition of his mirth-moving farces on the stage.

It was during these scenes that Louis XIV. selected Versailles as the
site of the stupendous pile of buildings which was to eclipse all
other palaces that had ever been reared on this globe. This
magnificent structure, alike the monument of munificence in its
appointments, and of infamy in the distress it imposed upon the
overtaxed people, eventually swallowed up the sum of one hundred and
sixty-six million of francs--thirty-three million dollars. It is to be
remembered that at that day money was far more valuable, and far more
difficult of acquisition than at the present time.

For seven years an army of workmen was employed on the palace, parks,
and gardens. No expense was spared to carry into effect the king's
designs. The park and gardens were laid out by the celebrated
landscape gardener Lenôtre. The plans for the palace were furnished by
the distinguished architect Mansard. Over thirty thousand soldiers
were called from their garrisons to assist the swarms of ordinary
workmen in digging the vast excavations and constructing the immense
terraces. "It is estimated that not less than forty millions
sterling--two hundred million dollars--were exhausted upon the laying
out of these vast domains and the erection of this superb chateau.
Such was the extraordinary vigor with which the works were pushed,
that in 1685, hardly twenty-five years after its commencement, the
whole was in readiness to receive its royal occupants. Here the royal
family and the court resided until the Revolution of 1789. Every part
of the interior as well as the exterior was ornamented with the works
of the most eminent masters of the times."[L]

[Footnote L: Bradshaw's Guide through Paris and its Environs.]

The most magnificent room in the palace, called the grand gallery of
Louis XIV., was two hundred and forty-two feet long, thirty-five feet
broad, and forty-three feet high. The splendors of the court of Louis
XIV. may be inferred from the fact that this vast apartment was daily
crowded with courtiers. The characteristic vanity of the king is
conspicuously developed in that he instituted an order of nobility as
a reward for personal services. The one great and only privilege of
its members was that they were permitted to wear a blue coat
embroidered with gold and silver precisely like that worn by the king,
and to follow the king in his hunting-parties and drives.

The position of Mademoiselle de la Vallière was a very painful one.
Though the austere queen-mother was so ill in her chamber that she
could do but little to harass Louise, Madame Henrietta, who had been
constrained to receive her as one of her maids of honor, did every
thing in her power to keep her in a state of perpetual anxiety. The
courtiers generally were hostile to her, from the partiality with
which she was openly regarded by the king. The poor child was alone
and desolate in the court, and scarcely knew an hour of joy.

[Illustration: CONVENT OF VAL DE GRACE.]

The queen-mother was rapidly sinking, devoured by a malady which not
only caused her extreme bodily suffering, but, from its loathsome
character, affected her sensitive nature with the most acute mental
pangs. She retired to the convent of Val de Grace, where, with
ever-increasing devotion as death drew near, she consecrated herself
to works of piety and prayer.

This vast structure is situated upon the left bank of the Seine, and
is now in the limits of the city of Paris.

"Anne of Austria had enjoyed the rare privilege, so seldom accorded to
her sex, of growing old without in any very eminent degree losing her
personal advantages. Her hands and arms, which had always been
singularly beautiful, remained smooth and round, and delicately white.
Not a wrinkle marred the dignity of her noble forehead. Her eyes,
which were remarkably fine, lost neither their brightness nor their
expression; and yet for years she had been suffering physical pangs
only the more poignant from the resolution with which she concealed

[Footnote M: Louis XIV. and the Court of France, vol. ii., p. 145.]

The queen-mother had made the most heroic exertions to assume in
public the appearance of health and gayety. None but her physicians
were made acquainted with the nature of her malady.

The young queen, Maria Theresa, who appears to have been an amiable,
pensive woman, endowed with many quiet virtues, was devotedly attached
to the queen-mother. She clung to her and followed her, while
virtually abandoned by her royal spouse. She had no heart for those
courtly festivities where she saw others with higher fascinations
command the admiration and devotion of her husband. The queen was
taken very ill with the measles. It speaks well for Louis XIV., and
should be recorded to his honor, that he devoted himself to his sick
wife, by day and by night, with the most unremitting attention. The
disease was malignant in its form, and the king himself was soon
stricken down by it. For several days it was feared that he would not
live. As he began to recover, he was removed to the palace of St.
Cloud. The annexed view represents the rear of the palace. The
magnificent saloons in front open upon the city, and from the elevated
site of the palace command a splendid view of the region for many
leagues around.

[Illustration: THE PALACE OF ST. CLOUD.]

This truly splendid chateau, but a few miles from the Tuileries, had
been assigned to Madame Henrietta. Here she resided with her court,
and here the king again found himself under the same roof with
Mademoiselle de la Vallière.

In the mean time the health of the queen-mother rapidly declined. She
was fast sinking into the arms of death. The young queen, Maria
Theresa, having recovered, was unwilling to leave her suffering
mother-in-law even for an hour.

"The sufferings of Anne of Austria," writes Miss Pardoe, "must indeed
have been extreme, when, superadded to the physical agony of which she
was so long the victim, her peculiar fastidiousness of scent and touch
are remembered. Throughout the whole of her illness she had adopted
every measure to conceal, even from herself, the effects of her
infirmity. She constantly held in her hand a large fan of Spanish
leather, and saturated her linen with the most powerful perfumes. Her
sense of contact was so acute and irritable that it was with the
utmost difficulty that cambric could be found sufficiently fine for
her use. Upon one occasion, when Cardinal Mazarin was jesting with
her upon this defect, he told her 'that if she were damned, her
eternal punishment would be sleeping in linen sheets.'"

Louis XIV. was too much engrossed with his private pleasures, his
buildings, and rapidly multiplying diplomatic intrigues to pay much
attention to his dying mother. It was not pleasant to him to
contemplate the scenes of suffering in a sick-chamber. The gloom which
was gathering around Anne of Austria was somewhat deepened by the
intelligence she received of the death of her brother, Philip IV. of
Spain. It was another admonition to her that she too must die. Though
Philip IV. was a reserved and stately man, allowing himself in but few
expressions of tenderness toward his family, Maria Theresa, in her
isolation, wept bitterly over her father's death.

The ties of relationship are feeble in courts. Louis XIV. was growing
increasingly ambitious of enlarging his domains and aggrandizing his
power. The news of the death of the King of Spain was but a source of
exultation to him. Though scrupulous in the discharge of the
ceremonies of the Church, he was a stranger to any high sense of
integrity or honor. In the treaty upon his marriage with Maria
Theresa he had agreed to resign every claim to any portion of the
Spanish kingdom. The death of Philip IV. left Spain in the hands of a
feeble woman. Louis XIV., upon the plea that the five hundred thousand
crowns promised as the dower of his wife had not yet been paid,
resolved immediately to seize upon the provinces of Flanders and
Franche-Comté, which then belonged to the Spanish crown.

Notwithstanding the queen-mother had become so exhausted, from
long-continued and agonizing bodily sufferings, that she could not be
moved from one bed to another without fainting, still the festivities
of the palace continued unintermitted. The moans of the dying queen in
the darkened chamber could not be heard amidst the music and the
revelry of the Louvre and the Tuileries. On the 5th of January, 1666,
Philip, the Duke of Orleans, gave a magnificent ball in the palace of
St. Cloud. Louis XIV. was then in deep mourning for his father-in-law.
Decorously he wore the mourning dress of violet-colored velvet adopted
by the court; he, however, took care so effectually to cover his
mourning garments with glittering and costly gems that the color of
the material could not be discerned.

While her children were engaged in these revels, the queen-mother
passed a sleepless night of terrible suffering. It was apparent to her
that her dying hour was near at hand. She was informed by her
physician that her life could be continued but a few hours longer. She
called for her confessor, and requested every one else to leave the
room. What sins she confessed of heart or life are known only to him
and to God. Having obtained such absolution as the priest could give,
she prepared to partake of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. Her son
Philip, with Madame his wife, were admitted to her chamber, where the
king soon joined them. The Archbishop of Auch, accompanied by quite a
retinue of ecclesiastics, approached with the holy viaticum. The most
scrupulous regard was paid to all the punctilious ceremonials of
courtly etiquette.

When the bishop was about to administer the oil of extreme unction,
the dying queen requested an attendant very carefully to raise the
borders of her cap, lest the oil should touch them, and give them an
unpleasant odor. It was one of the most melancholy and impressive of
earthly scenes. The king, young, sensitive, and easily overcome by
momentary emotion, could not refrain from seeing in that sad
spectacle, as in a mirror, his own inevitable lot. He fainted entirely
away, and was borne senseless from the apartment.

On the morning of the 7th or 8th of January, 1666, Anne of Austria
died. Her will was immediately brought from the cabinet and read. She
bequeathed her _heart_ to the convent of Val de Grace. It was taken
from her body, cased in a costly urn, and conveyed to the convent in a
carriage. The Archbishop of Auch seated himself beside the senseless
relic, while the Duchess of Montpensier occupied another seat in the

At 7 o'clock of the next evening the remains of the queen left the
Louvre for the royal sepulchre at St. Denis. It was a gloomy winter's
night. Many torches illumined the path of the procession, exhibiting
to the thousands of spectators the solemn pageant of the burial. The
ecclesiastics and the monks, in their gorgeous or picturesque robes,
the royal sarcophagus, the sombre light of the torches, the royal
coaches in funereal drapery, and the wailing requiems, now swelling
upon the breeze, and now dying away, blending with the voices of
tolling bells, presented one of the most mournful and instructive of
earthly spectacles. The queen had passed to that tribunal where no
aristocratic privileges are recognized, and where all earthly wealth
and rank are disregarded.

The funeral services were prolonged and imposing. It was not until two
hours after midnight that the remains were deposited in the vaults of
the venerable abbey, the oldest Christian church in France.

[Illustration: INTERIOR OF ST. DENIS.]

The death of the queen-mother does not seem to have produced much
effect upon the conduct of her ambitious and pleasure-loving son. He
had cruelly betrayed the young and guileless Mademoiselle de la
Vallière, and she never ceased to weep over her sad fate. The king,
however, conferred upon her the duchy of Vaujours, and the title of
Madame. Her beauty began to fade. Younger and happier faces attracted
the king. He became more and more arrogant and domineering.

There was at that time rising into notice in this voluptuous court a
young lady who was not only magnificently beautiful, but extremely
brilliant in her intellectual endowments. She was of illustrious
birth, and was lady of the palace to the young queen. She deliberately
fixed her affections upon Louis, and resolved to employ all the arts
of personal loveliness and the fascinations of wit to win his
exclusive favor. She had given her hand, constrained by her family, to
the young Marquis de Montespan. She had, however, stated at the time
that with her hand she did not give her heart.

The young marquis seems to have been a very worthy man. Disgusted with
the folly and the dissipation of the court, he was anxious to
withdraw with his beautiful bride to his ample estates in Provence.
She, however, entirely devoted to pleasure, and absorbed in her
ambitious designs, refused to accompany him, pleading the duty she
owed her royal mistress. He went alone. Madame de Montespan was thus
relieved of the embarrassment of his presence.

Louis XIV., while apparently immersed in frivolous and guilty
pleasures, was developing very considerable ability as a sovereign. It
daily became more clearly manifest that he was not a man of pleasure
merely; that he had an imperial will, and that he was endowed with
unusual administrative energies.

The Duke de Mazarin, a relative and rich heir of the deceased
cardinal, and who assumed an austere and cynical character, ventured
on one occasion, when displeased with some act of the king, to
approach him in the presence of several persons and say,

"Sire, Saint Genéviève appeared to me last night. She is much offended
by the conduct of your majesty, and has foretold to me that if you do
not reform your morals the greatest misfortunes will fall upon your

The whole circle stood aghast at his effrontery. But the king,
without exhibiting the slightest emotion, in slow and measured
accents, replied,

"And I, Monsieur de Mazarin, have recently had several visions, by
which I have been warned that the late cardinal, your uncle, plundered
my people, and that it is time to make his heirs disgorge the booty.
Remember this, and be persuaded that the very next time you permit
yourself to offer me unsolicited advice, I shall act upon the
mysterious information I have received."

The duke attempted no reply. Such developments of character
effectually warded off all approaches of familiarity.

The fugitive and needy Charles II. had sold to Louis XIV., for about
one million of dollars, the important commercial town of Dunkirk, in
French Flanders. The king, well aware of the importance of the
position, had employed thirty thousand men to fortify the place.

Louis now sent an army of thirty-five thousand men, in the highest
state of military discipline, to seize the coveted Spanish provinces
of Flanders and Franche-Comté. At the same time, he sent a reserve of
eight thousand troops to Dunkirk. The widowed Queen of Spain, acting
as regent for her infant son, could make no effectual resistance. She
had but eight thousand troops, in small garrisons, scattered over
those provinces. The march of the French army was but as a holiday
excursion. Fortress after fortress fell into their hands. Soon the
banners of Louis floated proudly over the whole territory. The king
displayed his sagacity by granting promotion for services rendered
rather than to birth. This inspired the army with great ardor. He also
boldly entered the trenches under fire, and exposed himself to the
most imminent peril.

The opposite side of the king's character is displayed in the fact
that he accompanied the camp with all the ladies of his court,
eighteen in number. In each captured city, the king and court, in
magnificent banqueting-halls and gorgeous saloons, indulged in the
gayest revelry. Amidst the turmoil of the camp, these haughty men and
high-born dames surrounded themselves with the magnificence of the
Louvre and the Tuileries, and were served with every delicacy from
gold and silver plate.

The king, by the advice of his renowned minister of war, Marshal
Louvois, placed strong garrisons in the cities he had captured, while
the celebrated engineer, M. Vauban, was intrusted with enlarging and
strengthening the fortifications. From this victorious campaign Louis
XIV. returned to Paris, receiving adulation from the courtiers as if
he were more than mortal.

Madame de Montespan accompanied the court on this military pleasure
tour. She availed herself of every opportunity to attract the
attention of the king and ingratiate herself in his favor. She so far
succeeded in exciting the jealousy of the queen against Madame de la
Vallière, upon whom she was at the same time lavishing her most tender
caresses, that her majesty treated the sensitive and desponding
favorite with such rudeness that, with a crushed spirit, she decided
to leave the court and retire to Versailles, there to await the
conclusion of the campaign. The king, however, interposed to prevent
her departure, while at the same time he was daily treating her with
more marked neglect, as he turned his attention to the rival, now
rapidly gaining the ascendency. The unfortunate Louise was doomed to
daily martyrdom. She could not be blind to the fact that the king's
love was fast waning. Conscience tortured her, and she wept bitterly.
Before her there was opened only the vista of weary years of neglect
and remorse.

But the Marchioness of Montespan was mingling for herself a cup of
bitterness which she, in her turn, was to drain to its dregs. Her
noble husband wrote most imploring letters, beseeching her to return
to him with their infant child.

"Come," he wrote in one of his letters, "and take a near view, my dear
Athenaïs, of these stupendous Pyrenees, whose every ravine is a
landscape, and every valley an Eden. To all these beauties yours alone
is wanting. You will be here like Diana, the divinity of these noble

The excuses which the marchioness offered did by no means satisfy her
husband. His heart was wounded and his suspicions aroused. At last he
was apprised of her manifest endeavors to attract the attention of the
king. He wrote severely; informed her of the extent of his knowledge.
He threatened to expose her conduct to her own family, and to shut her
up in a convent. At the same time, he commanded her to send to him, by
the messenger who bore his letter, their little son, that he might not
be contaminated by association with so unworthy a mother.

It was too late. The marchioness was involved in such guilty relations
with the king that she could not easily be extricated. Still she was
much alarmed by the angry letter of her husband. The king perceived
her anxiety, and inquired the cause. She placed the letter in his
hands. He read it, changing color as he read. He then coolly remarked,

"Our position is a difficult one. It requires much precaution. I will,
however, take care that no violence shall be offered you. You had
better, however, send him your son. The child is useless here, and
perhaps inconvenient. The marquis, deprived of the child, may be
driven to acts of severity."

A mother's love was strong in the bosom of the marchioness. She wept
aloud, and declared that she would sooner die than part with her son.
Her husband soon after came to Paris. He addressed the king in a very
firm and reproachful letter, and for three months made earnest
applications to the pope for a divorce. But the pope, afraid of
offending Louis XIV., turned a deaf ear to his supplications. It was
in vain for a noble, however exalted his rank, to contend against the

The injured marquis, finding all his efforts vain, returned wifeless
and childless to his chateau. Announcing that to him his wife was
dead, he assumed the deepest mourning, draped his house and the
liveries of his servants in crape, and ordered a funeral service to
take place in the parish church. A numerous concourse attended, and
all the sad ceremonies of burial were solemnized.

The king was greatly annoyed. The scandal, which spread throughout the
kingdom, placed him in a very unenviable position. The marquis would
probably have passed the rest of his life in one of the _oubliettes_
of the Bastile had he not escaped from France. Madame de Montespan, in
her wonderfully frank Memoirs, records all these facts without any
apparent consciousness of the infamy to which they consign her memory.
She even claims the merit of protecting her injured husband from the
dungeon, saying,

"Not being naturally of a bad disposition, I never would allow of his
being sent to the Bastile."

There were continual antagonisms arising between Madame de la Vallière
and Madame de Montespan. They were both ladies of honor in the
household of the queen, who, silent and sad, and ever seeking
retirement, endeavored to close her eyes to the guilty scenes
transpiring around her. Sin invariably brings sorrow. The king,
supremely selfish as he was, must have been a stranger to any peace of
mind. He professed full faith in Christianity. Even lost spirits may
believe and tremble. The precepts of Jesus were often faithfully
proclaimed from the pulpit in his hearing. Remorse must have
frequently tortured his soul.

From these domestic tribulations he sought relief in the vigorous
prosecution of his plans for national aggrandizement. He plunged into
diplomatic intrigues, marshaled armies, built ships, multiplied and
enlarged his sea-ports, established colonies, reared magnificent
edifices, encouraged letters, and with great sagacity pushed all
enterprises which could add to the glory and power of France.

The king had never been on good terms with his brother Philip. Louis
was arrogant and domineering. Philip was jealous, and not disposed
obsequiously to bow the knee to his imperious brother. The king was
unrelenting in the exactions of etiquette. There were three seats used
in the presence of royalty: the arm-chair, for members of the royal
family; the folded chair, something like a camp-stool, for the highest
of the nobility; and the bench, for other dignitaries who were honored
with a residence at court. Philip demanded of his brother that his
wife, Henrietta, the daughter of Charles I. of England, and the sister
of Louis XIII., being of royal blood, should be allowed the privilege
of taking an arm-chair in the saloons of the queen. The king made the
following remarkable reply:

"That can not be permitted. I beg of you not to persist in such a
request. It was not I who established these distinctions. They existed
long before you and I were born. It is for your interest that the
dignity of the crown should neither be weakened or encroached upon. If
from Duke of Orleans you should one day become King of France, I know
you well enough to believe that this is a point on which you would be

"In the presence of God, you and I are two beings precisely similar to
our fellow-men; but in the eyes of men we appear as something
extraordinary, superior, greater, and more perfect than others. The
day on which the people cast off this respect and this voluntary
veneration, by which alone monarchy is upheld, they will see us only
their equals, suffering from the same evils, and subject to the same
weaknesses as themselves. This once accomplished, all illusion will be
over. The laws, no longer sustained by a controlling power, will
become black lines upon white paper. Your chair without arms and my
arm-chair will be simply two pieces of furniture of equal importance."

To these forcible remarks, indicating deep reflection, the Duke of
Orleans, a nobleman rioting in boundless wealth, and enjoying amazing
feudal privileges, could make no reply. The coronet of the noble and
the crown of the absolute king would both fall to the ground so soon
as the masses of the people should escape from the thrall of ignorance
and deception. Philip left his brother silenced, yet exasperated. A
petty warfare was carried on between them, by which they daily became
more alienated from each other.

The king, elated by his easy conquest of Flanders, resolved to seize
upon Holland, and then proceed to annex to France the whole of the Low
Countries. The Dutch, a maritime people, though powerful at sea, had
but a feeble land force. Holland was in alliance with England. The
first object of Louis was to dissolve this alliance.

There were two influences, money and beauty, which were omnipotent
with the contemptible Charles II. Henrietta, the wife of Philip, was
sent as embassadress to the court of her brother. The whole French
court escorted her to the coast. The pomp displayed on this occasion
surpassed any thing which had heretofore been witnessed in France. The
escort consisted of thirty thousand men in the van and the rear of the
royal cortège. The most beautiful women of the court accompanied the
queen. Maria Theresa, the queen, and Henrietta, occupied the same
coach. The ladies of their households followed in their carriages.

The king's two favorites--Madame de la Vallière, whose beauty and
power were on the wane, and Madame de Montespan, who was then in the
zenith of her triumph--were often invited by the king to take a seat
in the royal carriage by the side of the queen and Madame. The most
beautiful woman then in the French court was Louise Rénée,
subsequently known in English annals as the Duchess of Portsmouth. She
was to accompany her royal mistress to the court of Charles II., and
had received secret instructions from the king in reference to the
influence she was to exert. Louise Rénée was to be the bribe and the
motive power to control the king.

Brilliant as was this royal cortège, the journey, to its prominent
actors, was a very sad one. The queen, pliant and submissive as she
usually was, could not refrain from some expressions of bitterness in
being forced to such intimate companionship with her rivals in the
king's favor. There were also constant heart-burnings and bickerings,
which etiquette could not restrain, between Philip and his spouse
Henrietta. _Madame_ was going to London as the confidential messenger
of the king, and she refused to divulge to her husband the purpose of
her visit. Louis XIV. was embarrassed by three ladies, each of whom
claimed his exclusive attention, and each of whom was angry if he
smiled upon either of the others. In such a party there could be no

As this gorgeous procession, crowding leagues of the road, swept
along, few of the amazed peasants who gazed upon the glittering
spectacle could have suspected the misery which was gnawing at the
heart of these high-born men and proud dames. Upon arriving at the
coast, Henrietta, with her magnificent suite, embarked for England.
The negotiation was perfectly successful. The fascinating Louise Rénée
immediately made the entire conquest of the king. Her consent to
remain a member of his court, and the offer of several millions of
money to Charles II., secured his assent to whatever the French king
desired. It is said that he the more readily abandoned his alliance
with Holland, since he hated the Protestants there, whose religion so
severely condemned his worthless character and wretched life. A treaty
of alliance was speedily drawn up between Charles II. and Louis XIV.

His Britannic majesty then, with a splendid retinue, accompanied his
sister Henrietta to the coast, where she embarked for Calais. The
French court met her there with all honors. The return to Paris was
slow. At every important town the court tarried for a season of
festivities. Henrietta, or _Madame_, as the French invariably entitled
her, established her court at St. Cloud. Her husband, Monsieur, was
very much irritated against her. Neither of them took any pains to
conceal from others their alienation.

Madame was in the ripeness of her rare beauty, and enjoyed great
influence in the court. The poor queen, Maria Theresa, was but a
cipher. She was heart-crushed, and devoted herself to the education of
her children, and to the society of a few Spanish ladies whom she had
assembled around her. The king, grateful for the services which
Henrietta had rendered him in England, and alike fascinated by her
loveliness and her vivacity, was lavishing upon her his constant and
most marked attentions, not a little to the chagrin of her irritated
and jealous husband.

On the 27th of June, 1669, Henrietta rose at an early hour, and, after
some conversation with Madame de Lafayette, to whom she declared she
was in admirable health, she attended mass, and then went to the room
of her daughter, Mademoiselle d'Orleans. She was in glowing spirits,
and enlivened the whole company by her vivacious conversation. After
calling for a glass of succory water, which she drank, she dined. The
party then repaired to the saloon of _Monsieur_. He was sitting for
his portrait. Henrietta, reclining upon a lounge, apparently fell into
a doze. Her friends were struck with the haggard and deathly
expression which her countenance suddenly assumed, when she sprang up
with cries of agony. All were greatly alarmed. Her husband appeared as
much so as the rest. She called for another draught of succory water.
It was brought to her in an enameled cup from which she was accustomed
to drink.

She took the cup in one hand, and then, pressing her hand to her side
in a spasm of pain, exclaimed, "I can scarcely breathe. Take me
away--take me away! I can support myself no longer." With much
difficulty she was led to her chamber by her terrified attendants.
There she threw herself upon her bed in convulsions of agony, crying
out that she was dying, and praying that her confessor might
immediately be sent for. Three physicians were speedily in attendance.
Her husband entered her chamber and kneeled at her bedside. She threw
her arms around his neck, exclaiming,

"Alas! you have long ceased to love me; but you are unjust, for I have
never wronged you." Suddenly she raised herself upon her elbow, and
said to those weeping around her, "I have been poisoned by the succory
water which I have drank. Probably there has been some mistake. I am
sure, however, that I have been poisoned. Unless you wish to see me
die, you must immediately administer some antidote."

Her husband did not seem at all agitated by this statement, but
directed that some of the succory water should be given to a dog to
ascertain its effects. Madame Desbordes, the first _femme de chambre_,
who had prepared the beverage, declared that the experiment should be
made upon herself. She immediately poured out a glass, and drank it.

Various antidotes for poisons were administered. They created the most
deadly sickness, without changing the symptoms or alleviating the
pain. It soon became evident that the princess was dying. The livid
complexion, glassy eyes, and shrunken nose and lips, showed that some
agent of terrific power was consuming her life. A chill perspiration
oozed from her forehead, her pulse was imperceptible, and her
extremities icy cold.

The king soon arrived, accompanied by the queen. Louis XIV. was
greatly affected by the changed appearance and manifestly dying
condition of Henrietta. He sat upon one side of the bed and _Monsieur_
upon the other, both weeping bitterly. The agony of the princess was
dreadful. In most imploring tones she begged that something might be
done to mitigate her sufferings. The attendant physicians announced
that she was dying. Extreme unction was administered, the crucifix
fell from her hand, a convulsive shuddering shook her frame, and
Henrietta was dead.

"Only nine hours previously, Henrietta of England had been full of
life, and loveliness, and hope, the idol of a court, and the centre of
the most brilliant circle in Europe. And now, as the tearful priest
arose from his knees, the costly curtains of embroidered velvet were
drawn around a cold, pale, motionless, and livid corpse."

A post-mortem examination revealed the presence of poison so virulent
in its action that a portion of the stomach was destroyed. Dreadful
suspicion rested upon her husband. The king, in a state of intense
agitation, summoned his brother to his presence, and demanded that he
should confess his share in the murder. Monsieur clasped in his hand
the insignia of the Holy Ghost, which he wore about his neck, and took
the most solemn oath that he was both directly and indirectly innocent
of the death of his wife. Still the circumstantial evidence was so
strong against him that he could not escape the terrible suspicion.

Notwithstanding the absolute proof that the death of the princess was
caused by poison, still an official statement was soon made out,
addressed to the British court, and widely promulgated, in which it
was declared that the princess died of a malignant attack of bilious
fever. Several physicians were bribed to sign this declaration.

Notwithstanding this statement, the king made vigorous exertions to
discover the perpetrators of the crime. The following facts were soon
brought to light. The king, some time before, much displeased with the
Chevalier de Lorraine, a favorite and adviser of Monsieur, angrily
arrested him, and imprisoned him in the Chateau d'If, a strong and
renowned fortress on Marguerite Island, opposite Cannes. Here he was
treated with great rigor. He was not allowed to correspond, or even to
speak with any persons but those on duty within the fortress.
_Monsieur_ was exceedingly irritated by this despotic act. He ventured
loudly to upbraid his brother, and bitterly accused _Madame_ of having
caused the arrest of his bosom friend, the chevalier.

Circumstances directed the very strong suspicions of the king to M.
Pernon, controller of the household of the princess, as being
implicated in the murder. The king ordered him to be secretly
arrested, and brought by a back staircase to the royal cabinet. Every
attendant was dismissed, and his majesty remained alone with the
prisoner. Fixing his eyes sternly upon the countenance of M. Pernon,
Louis said, "If you reveal every circumstance relative to the death of
_Madame_, I promise you full pardon. If you are guilty of the
slightest concealment or prevarication, your life shall be the

The controller then confessed that the Chevalier de Lorraine had,
through the hands of a country gentleman, M. Morel, who was not at all
conscious of the nature of the commission he was fulfilling, sent the
poison to two confederates at St. Cloud. This package was delivered to
the Marquis d'Effiat and Count de Beuvron, intimate friends of the
chevalier, and who had no hope that he would be permitted to return to
Paris so long as _Madame_ lived. The Marquis d'Effiat contrived to
enter the closet of the princess, and rubbed the poison on the inside
of the enameled cup from which Henrietta was invariably accustomed to
drink her favorite beverage.

The king listened intently to this statement, pressed his forehead
with his hand, and then inquired, in tones which indicated that he was
almost afraid to put the question, "And _Monsieur_--was he aware of
this foul plot?"

"No, sire," was the prompt reply. "_Monsieur_ can not keep a secret;
we did not venture to confide in him."

Louis appeared much relieved. After a moment's pause, he asked, with
evident anxiety, "Will you swear to this?"

"On my soul, sire," was the reply.

The king asked no more. Summoning an officer of the household, he
said, "Conduct M. Pernon to the gate of the palace, and set him at

Such events were so common in the courts of feudal despotism in those
days of crime, that this atrocious murder seems to have produced but a
momentary impression. Poor Henrietta was soon forgotten. The tides of
gayety and fashion ebbed and flowed as ever through the saloons of the
royal palaces. No one was punished. It would hardly have been decorous
for the king to hang men for the murder of the princess, when he had
solemnly announced that she had died of a bilious fever. The Chevalier
de Lorraine was ere long recalled to court. There he lived in
unbridled profligacy, enjoying an annual income of one hundred
thousand crowns, till death summoned him to a tribunal where neither
wealth nor rank can purchase exemption from crime.

Henrietta, who was but twenty-six years of age at the time of her
death, left two daughters, but no son. _Monsieur_ soon dried his
tears. He sought a new marriage with his rich, renowned cousin, the
Duchess of Montpensier. But she declined his offered hand. With
inconceivable caprice, she was fixing her affections upon a worthless
adventurer, a miserable coxcomb, the Duke de Lauzun, who was then
disgracing by his presence the court of the Louvre. This singular
freak, an additional evidence that there is no accounting for the
vagaries of love, astonished all the courts of Europe. _Monsieur_ then
turned to the Princess Charlotte Elizabeth of Bavaria. The alliance
was one dictated by state policy. _Monsieur_ reluctantly assented to
it under the moral compulsion of the king. The advent of this most
eccentric of women at the French court created general astonishment
and almost consternation. She despised etiquette, and dressed in the
most _outré_ fashion, while she displayed energies of mind and
sharpness of tongue which brought all in awe of her. The following is
the portrait which this princess, eighteen years of age, has drawn of

"I was born in Heidelberg in 1652. I must necessarily be ugly, for I
have no features, small eyes, a short, thick nose, and long, flat
lips. Such a combination as this can not produce a physiognomy. I have
heavy hanging cheeks and a large face, and nevertheless am short and
thick. To sum up all, I am an ugly little object. If I had not a good
heart, I should not be bearable any where. To ascertain if my eyes
have any expression, it would be necessary to examine them with a
microscope. There could not probably be found on earth hands more
hideous than mine. The king has often remarked it to me, and made me
laugh heartily. Not being able with any conscience to flatter myself
that I possessed any thing good looking, I have made up my mind to
laugh at my own ugliness. I have found the plan very successful, and
frequently discover plenty to laugh at."

Notwithstanding the princess was ready to speak of herself in these
terms of ridicule, she was by no means disposed to grant the same
privilege to others. She was a woman of keen observation, and was ever
ready to resent any offense with the most sarcastic retaliation. She
perceived very clearly the sensation which her presence, and the
manners which she had very deliberately chosen to adopt, had excited.
Madame de Fienne was one of the most brilliant wits of the court. She
ventured to make herself and others merry over the oddities of the
newly-arrived Duchess of Orleans, in whose court both herself and her
husband were pensioners. The duchess took her by the hand, led her
aside, and, riveting upon her her unquailing eye, said, in slow and
emphatic tones,

"Madame, you are very amiable and very witty. You possess a style of
conversation which is endured by the king and by _Monsieur_ because
they are accustomed to it; but I, who am only a recent arrival at the
court, am less familiar with its spirit. I forewarn you that I become
incensed when I am made a subject of ridicule. For this reason, I was
anxious to give you a slight warning. If you spare me, we shall get on
very well together; but if, on the contrary, you treat me as you do
others, I shall say nothing to yourself, but I shall complain to your
husband, and if he does not correct you, I shall dismiss him."

The hint was sufficient. Neither Madame de Fienne nor any other lady
of the court ventured after this to utter a word of witticism on the
subject of the Duchess of Orleans.




Louis's fondness for jewels.--Anecdote.--Superstitions of Louis.--His
dread of the towers of St. Denis.--Ambition of Louis.--He abandons St.
Germain.--Severity of Louis to Madame de la Vallière.--A second flitting
to Chaillot.--Night in the convent.--Disappointment.--Return of Louise
to the palace.--Madame de Montespan.--Louis reproved by the
clergy.--Power of France.--Alarm in Holland.--Humble inquiry of the
Dutch.--Haughty reply of Louis.--Body-guard of the king.--Reply of
the Dutch merchant.--Forces of William, prince of Orange.--Louis's
march unresisted.--The French cross the Rhine.--Death of the Duke
of Longueville.--Passage of the Rhine.--Louis a bigoted
Catholic.--Consternation.--Reception of the Dutch deputies.--Terms
of Louis XIV.--Heroic conduct of the Dutch.--The dikes pierced.--Naval
battle.--Efforts of the Prince of Orange.--Louis returns to Paris.--His
extraordinary energy.--Arch of triumph.--Skill and strategy of
Turenne.--Barbarities of Turenne.--Opinion of Voltaire.--Death of
Turenne.--Peace of Nimeguen.--Penitence and anguish of Louise de la
Vallière.--Takes leave of her children and the queen.--Again at the
convent.--Faithfulness to duty.--Marriage of the Duchess of Orleans
with the King of Spain.--The Countess de Soissons.--Character of the
dauphin.--Monseigneur's indifference.--Françoise d'Aubigné.--Her
apparent death and recovery.--Françoise a Protestant.--Persecutions
in consequence.--Sufferings of Françoise.--Death of her mother.

Madame de Montespan was now the reigning favorite. The
conscience-stricken king could not endure to think of death. He
studiedly excluded from observation every thing which could remind him
of that doom of mortals. All the badges of mourning were speedily laid
aside, and efforts were made to banish from the court the memory of
the young and beautiful Princess Henrietta, whose poisoned body was
mouldering to dust in the tomb.

The king had a childish fondness for brilliant gems. In his cabinet he
had a massive and costly secretary of elaborately carved rosewood.
Upon its shelves he had arrayed the crown jewels, which he often
handled and examined with the same delight with which a miser counts
his gold.

Mademoiselle de Montpensier, in her interesting Memoirs, relates the
following anecdote, which throws interesting light upon the character
of the king at this time. It will be remembered that Louis XIV. was
born in one of the palaces at St. Germain, about fifteen miles from
Paris. The magnificent terrace on the left bank of the winding Seine
commands perhaps as enchanting a view as can be found any where in
this world. The domes and towers of Paris appear far away in the
north. The wide, luxuriant valley of the Seine, studded with villages
and imposing castles, lies spread out in beautiful panorama before the
eye. The king had expended between one and two millions of dollars in
embellishing the royal residences here. But as the conscience of the
king became more sensitive, and repeated deaths forced upon him the
conviction that he too must eventually die, St. Germain not only lost
all its charms, but became a place obnoxious to him. From the terrace
there could be distinctly seen, a few leagues to the east, the tower
and spire of St. Denis, the burial-place of the kings of France. To
Louis it suddenly became as torturing a sight as to have had his
coffin ostentatiously displayed in his banqueting-hall.

When Anne of Austria was lying on her bed of suffering, the king was
one day pacing alone the terrace of St. Germain. Dark clouds were
drifting through the sky. One of these clouds seemed to gather over
the towers of St. Denis. To the excited imagination of the king, the
vapor wreathed itself into the form of a hearse, surmounted by the
arms of Austria. In a few days the king followed the remains of his
mother to the dark vaults of this their last resting-place. Just
before the death of the hapless Henrietta, the same gloomy towers
appeared to the king in a dream enveloped in flames, and in the midst
of the fire there was a skeleton holding in his hand a lady's rich
jewelry. But a few days after this the king was constrained to follow
the remains of the beautiful Henrietta to this sepulchre. God seems to
have sent warning upon warning upon this wicked king. Absorbed in
ambitious plans and guilty passions, Louis had but little time or
thought to give to his neglected wife or her children. In the same
year his two daughters died, and with all the pageantry of royal woe
they were also entombed at St. Denis.

[Illustration: ST. DENIS.]

It is not strange that, under these circumstances, the king, to whom
the Gospel of Christ was often faithfully preached, and who was living
in the most gross violation of the principles of the religion of
Jesus, should have recoiled from a view of those towers, which were
ever a reminder to him of death and the grave. He could no longer
endure the palace at St. Germain. The magnificent panorama of the
city, the winding Seine, the flowery meadows, the forest, the
villages, and the battlemented chateaux lost all their charms, since
the towers of St. Denis would resistlessly arrest his eye, forcing
upon his soul reflections from which he instinctively recoiled. He
therefore abandoned St. Germain entirely, and determined that the
palace he was constructing at Versailles should be so magnificent as
to throw every other abode of royalty into the shade.

Madame de la Vallière was daily becoming more wretched. Fully
conscious of her sin and shame, deserted by the king, supplanted by a
new favorite, and still passionately attached to her royal betrayer,
she could not restrain that grief which rapidly marred her beauty. The
waning of her charms, and the reproaches of her silent woe,
increasingly repelled the king from seeking her society. One day Louis
entered the apartment of Louise, and found her weeping bitterly. In
cold, reproachful tones, he demanded the cause of her uncontrollable
grief. The poor victim, upon the impulse of the moment, gave vent to
all the gushing anguish of her soul--her sense of guilt in the sight
of God--her misery in view of her ignominious position, and her
brokenness of heart in the consciousness that she had lost the love of
one for whom she had periled her very soul.

The king listened impatiently, and then haughtily replied, "Let there
be an end to this. I love you, and you know it. But I am not to be
constrained." He reproached her for her obstinacy in refusing the
friendship of her rival, Madame de Montespan, and added the cutting
words, "You have needed, as well as Madame de Montespan, the
forbearance and countenance of your sex."

Poor Louise was utterly crushed. She had long been thinking of
retiring to a convent. Her decision was now formed. She devoted a few
sad days to the necessary arrangements, took an agonizing leave, as
she supposed forever, of her children, to whom she was tenderly
attached, and for whom the king had made ample provision, and,
addressing a parting letter to him, entered her carriage, to seek, for
a second time, a final retreat in the convent of Chaillot.

It was late in the evening when she entered those gloomy cells where
broken hearts find a living burial. To the abbess she said, "I have no
longer a home in the palace; may I hope to find one in the cloister?"
The abbess received her with true Christian sympathy. After listening
with a tearful eye to the recital of her sorrows, she conducted her to
the cell in which she was to pass the night.

"She could not pray, although she cast herself upon her knees beside
the narrow pallet, and strove to rejoice that she had at length
escaped from the trials of a world which had wearied her, and of which
she herself was weary. There was no peace, no joy in her rebel heart.
She thought of the first days of her happiness; of her children, who
on the morrow would ask for her in vain; and then, as memory swept
over her throbbing brain, she remembered her former flight to
Chaillot, and that it was the king himself who had led her back again
into the world. Her brow burned as the question forced itself upon
her, Would he do so a second time? would he once more hasten, as he
had then done, to rescue her from the living death to which she had
consigned herself as an atonement for her past errors?

"But hour after hour went by, and all was silent. Hope died within
her. Daylight streamed dimly into the narrow casement of her cell.
Soon the measured step of the abbess fell upon her ear as she advanced
up the long gallery, striking upon the door of each cell as she
approached, and uttering in a solemn voice, 'Let us bless the Lord.'
To which appeal each of the sisters replied in turn, 'I give him

The deceptive heart of Louise led her to hope, notwithstanding she had
voluntarily sought the cloister, that the king, yearning for her
presence, would come himself, as soon as he heard of her departure,
and affectionately force her back to the Louvre. Early in the morning
she heard the sound of carriage-wheels entering the court-yard of the
convent. Her heart throbbed with excitement. Soon she was summoned
from her cell to the parlor. Much to her disappointment, the king was
not there, but his minister, M. Colbert, presented to her a very
affectionate letter from his majesty urging her return. As she
hesitated, M. Colbert pleaded earnestly in behalf of his sovereign.

The feeble will of Louise yielded, while yet she blushed at her own
weakness. Tears filled her eyes as she took leave of the abbess,
grasping her hand, and saying, "This is not a farewell; I shall
assuredly return, and perhaps very soon." The king was much moved in
receiving her, and, with great apparent cordiality, thanked her for
having complied with his entreaties. Even the heart of Madame de
Montespan was touched. She received with words of love and sympathy
the returned fugitive, whose rivalry she no longer feared, and in
whose sad career she perhaps saw mirrored her own future doom.

Madame de Montespan was then in the zenith of her power. The king had
assigned her the beautiful chateau of Clagny, but a short distance
from Versailles. Here she lived in great splendor, entertaining
foreign embassadors, receiving from them costly gifts, and introducing
them to her children as if they were really princes of the blood.

Notwithstanding the corruptions of the papal Church, there were in
that Church many faithful ministers of Jesus Christ. Some of them, in
their preaching, inveighed very severely against the sinful practices
in the court. Not only Madame de Montespan, but the king, often knew
that they were directly referred to. But the guilty yet sagacious
monarch carefully avoided any appropriation of the denunciations to
himself. Still, he was so much annoyed that he seriously contemplated
urging Madame de Montespan to retire to a convent. He even authorized
the venerable Bossuet, then Bishop of Condom, to call upon Madame de
Montespan, and suggest in his name that she should withdraw from the
court and retire to the seclusion of the cloister. But the haughty
favorite, conscious of the power of her charms, and knowing full well
that the king had only submitted to the suggestion, peremptorily
refused. She judged correctly. The king was well pleased to have her

The preparations which the king was making for the invasion of Holland
greatly alarmed the Dutch government. France had become powerful far
beyond any other Continental kingdom. The king had the finest army in
Europe. Turenne, Condé, Vauban, ranked among the ablest generals and
engineers of any age. While Louis XIV. was apparently absorbed in his
pleasures, Europe was surprised to see vast trains of artillery and
ammunition wagons crowding the roads of his northern provinces. In his
previous campaign, Louis had taken Flanders in three months, and
Franche-Comté in three weeks. These rapid conquests had alarmed
neighboring nations, and Holland, Switzerland, and England had entered
into an alliance to resist farther encroachments, should they be

Louis affected to be very angry that such a feeble state as Holland
should have the impudence to think of limiting his conquests. Having,
as we have mentioned, detached England from the alliance by bribing
with gold and female charms the miserable Charles II., Louis was
ready, without any declaration of war, even without any _openly
avowed_ cause of grievance, to invade Holland, and annex the territory
to his realms. The States-General, alarmed in view of the magnitude of
the military operations which were being made upon their borders, sent
embassadors to the French court humbly to inquire if these
preparations were designed against Holland, the ancient and faithful
ally of France, and, if so, in what respect Holland had offended.

Louis XIV. haughtily and insolently replied, "I shall make use of my
troops as my own dignity renders advisable. I am not responsible for
my conduct to any power whatever."

The real ability of the king was shown in the effectual measures he
adopted to secure, without the chance of failure, the triumphant
execution of his plans. Twenty millions of people had been robbed of
their hard earnings to fill his army chests with gold. An army of a
hundred and thirty thousand men, in the highest state of discipline,
and abundantly supplied with all the munitions of war, were on the
march for the northern frontiers of France. These troops were
supported by a combined English and French fleet of one hundred and
thirty vessels of war. It was the most resistless force, all things
considered, Europe had then ever witnessed. We shall not enter into
the details of this campaign, which are interesting only to military
men. Twelve hundred of the sons of the nobles were organized into a
body-guard, ever to surround the king. They were decorated with the
most brilliant uniforms, glittering with embroideries of gold and
silver, and were magnificently mounted. The terrible bayonet was then,
for the first time, attached to the musket. Light pontoons of brass
for crossing the rivers were carried on wagons. A celebrated writer,
M. Pelisson, accompanied the king, to give a glowing narrative of his

As there had been no declaration of war and no commencement of
hostilities, the king purchased a large amount of military stores even
in the states of Holland, which, no one could doubt, he was preparing
to invade. A Dutch merchant, being censured by Prince Maurice for
entering into a traffic so unpatriotic, replied,

"My lord, if there could be opened to me by sea any advantageous
commerce with the infernal regions, I should certainly go there, even
at the risk of burning my sails."

Louis made arrangements that money should be liberally expended to
bribe the commandants of the Dutch fortresses. To oppose all these
moral and physical forces, Holland had but twenty-five thousand
soldiers, poorly armed and disciplined. They were under the command of
the Prince of Orange, who was in feeble health, and but twenty-two
years of age. But this young prince proved to be one of the most
extraordinary men of whom history gives any account; yet it was
manifestly impossible for him now to arrest the torrent about to
invade his courts.

Louis rapidly pushed his troops forward into the unprotected states of
Holland which bordered the left banks of the Rhine. His march was
unresisted. Liberally he paid for whatever he took, distributed
presents to the nobles, and, preparing to cross the river, placed his
troops in strong detachments in villages scattered along the banks of
the stream. The king himself was at the head of a choice body of
thirty thousand troops. Marshal Turenne commanded under him.

The whole country on the left bank of the Rhine was soon in
possession of the French, as village after village fell into their
hands. The main object of the Prince of Orange was to prevent the
French from crossing the river. Louis intended to have crossed by his
pontoons, suddenly moving upon some unexpected point. But there came
just then a very severe drouth. The water fell so low that there was a
portion of the stream which could be nearly forded. It would be
necessary to swim the horses but about twenty feet. The current was
slow, and the passage could be easily effected. By moving rapidly, the
Prince of Orange would not be able to collect at that point sufficient
troops seriously to embarrass the operation.

Fifteen thousand horsemen were here sent across, defended by artillery
on the banks, and aided by boats of brass. But one man in the French
army, the young Duke de Longueville, was killed. He lost his life
through inebriation, and its consequent folly and crime. Half crazed
with wine, he refused quarter to a Dutch officer who had thrown down
his arms and surrendered. Reeling in his saddle, he shot down the
officer, exclaiming, "No quarter for these rascals." Some of the Dutch
infantry, who were just surrendering, in despair opened fire, and the
drunken duke received the death-blow he merited.

This passage of the Rhine was considered a very brilliant achievement,
and added much to the military reputation of Louis XIV., though it
appears to have been exclusively the feat of the Prince of Condé. The
cities of Holland fell in such rapid succession into the power of the
French, that scarcely an hour of the day passed in which the king did
not receive the news of some conquest. An officer named Mazel sent an
aid to Marshal Turenne to say,

"If you will be kind enough to send me fifty horsemen, I shall with
them be able to take two or three places."

It was on the 12th of June, 1672, that the passage of the Rhine was
effected. On the 20th the French king made his triumphal entrance into
the city of Utrecht. The king was a Catholic--a bigoted Catholic.
Corrupt as he was in life, regardless as he was in his private conduct
of the precepts of Jesus, he was extremely zealous to invest the
Catholic Church with power and splendor. It was with him a prominent
object to give the Catholic religion the supremacy.

Amsterdam was the capital of the republic. The capture of that city
would complete the conquest. Not only the republic would perish, but
Holland would, as it were, disappear from the earth, her territory
being absorbed in that of France. The consternation in the metropolis
was great. The most noble and wealthy families were preparing for a
rapid flight to the north. Amsterdam was then the most opulent and
influential commercial town in Europe. It contained a population of
two hundred thousand sagacious, energetic, thrifty people. As is
invariably the case in days of disaster, there were discordant
counsels and angry divisions among the bewildered defenders of the
imperiled realm. Some were for fiercely pressing the war, others for
humbly imploring peace.

At length four deputies were sent to the French camp to intercede for
the clemency of the conqueror. They were received with raillery and
insult. After contemptuously compelling the deputation several times
to come and go without any result, the king at last condescended to
present the following as his terms:

He demanded that the States of Holland should surrender to him the
whole of the territory on the left bank of the Rhine; that they
should place in his hands, to be garrisoned by French troops, the most
important forts and fortified towns of the republic; that they should
pay him twenty millions of francs, a sum equal to several times that
amount at the present day; that the French should be placed in command
of all the important entrances to Holland, both by sea and land, and
should be exempted from paying any duty upon the goods they should
enter; that the Catholic religion should be established every where
through the realm; and that every year the republic should send to
Louis XIV. an embassador, with a golden medal, upon which there should
be impressed the declaration that the republic held all its privileges
through the favor of Louis XIV. To these conditions were to be added
such as the States-General should be compelled to make with the other
allies engaged in the war.

The nations of Europe have been guilty of many outrages, but perhaps
it would be difficult to find one more atrocious than this. In
reference to the cause of the war, Voltaire very truly remarks, "It is
a singular fact, and worthy of record, that of all the enemies, there
was not one that could allege any pretext whatever for the war." It
was an enterprise very similar to that of the coalition of Louis XII.,
the Emperor Maximilian, and Spain, who conspired for the overthrow of
the Venetian republic simply because that republic was rich and

These terms, dictated by the insolence of the conqueror, were quite
intolerable. They inspired the courage of despair. The resolution was
at once formed to perish, if perish they must, with their arms in
their hands. The Prince of Orange had always urged the vigorous
prosecution of the war. Guided by his energetic counsel, they pierced
the dikes, which alone protected their country from the waters of the
sea. The flood rushed in through the opened barriers, converting
hundreds of leagues of fertile fields into an ocean. The inundation
flooded the houses, swept away the roads, destroyed the harvest,
drowned the flocks; and yet no one uttered a murmur. Louis XIV., by
his infamous demands, had united all hearts in the most determined
resistance. Amsterdam appeared like a large fortress rising in the
midst of the ocean, surrounded by ships of war, which found depth of
water to float where ships had never floated before. The distress was
dreadful. It was the briny ocean whose waves were now sweeping over
the land. It was so difficult to obtain any fresh water that it was
sold for six cents a pint.

Maritime Holland, though weak upon the land, was still powerful on the
sea. The united fleet of the allies did not exceed that of the
republic. The Dutch Admiral Ruyter, with a hundred vessels of war and
fifty fire-ships, repaired to the coasts of England in search of his
foes. He met the allied fleet on the 7th of June, 1672, and in the
heroic naval battle of Solbaie disabled and dispersed it. This gave
Holland the entire supremacy on the sea. Thus suddenly Louis XIV.
found himself checked, and no farther progress was possible.

The Prince of Orange gave all his private revenues to the state, and
entered into negotiations with other powers, who were already alarmed
by the encroachments of the French king. The Emperor of Germany, the
Spanish court, and Flanders, entered into an alliance with the heroic
prince. He even compelled Charles II. to withdraw from that union with
Louis XIV. which was opposed to the interests of England, and into
which his court had been reluctantly dragged. Troops from all quarters
were hurrying forward for the protection of Holland.

The villainy of Louis XIV. was thwarted. Chagrined at seeing his
conquest at an end, but probably with no compunctions of conscience
for the vast amount of misery his crime had caused, he left his
discomfited army under the command of Turenne and the other generals,
and returned to his palaces in France.

The troops which remained in Holland committed outrages which rendered
the very name of the French detested. Louis, from the midst of the
pomp and pleasure of his palaces, still displayed extraordinary
energies. Agents were dispatched to all the courts of Europe with
large sums of money for purposes of bribery. By his diplomatic
cunning, Hungary was roused against Austria. Gold was lavished upon
the King of England to induce him, notwithstanding the opposition of
the British Parliament, to continue in alliance with France. Several
of the petty states of Germany were bought over. Louis greatly
increased his naval force. He soon had forty ships of war afloat,
besides a large number of fire-ships.

But Europe had been so alarmed by his encroachments and his menaces
that, notwithstanding his efforts at diplomacy and intrigue, he was
compelled to abandon his enterprise, and withdraw his troops from the
provinces he had overrun.

[Illustration: PORTE ST. DENIS.]

In the early part of his campaign, Louis, flushed with victory and
assured of entire success, had commenced building, as a monument of
his great achievement, the arch of triumph at the gate of St. Denis.
The structure was scarcely completed ere he was compelled to withdraw
his troops from Holland, to meet the foes who were crowding upon him
from all directions.

Louis XIV. now found nearly all Europe against him. He sent twenty
thousand men, under Marshal Turenne, to encounter the forces of the
Emperor of Germany. The Prince de Condé was sent with forty thousand
troops to assail the redoubtable Prince of Orange. Another strong
detachment was dispatched to the frontiers of Spain, to arrest the
advance of the Spanish troops. A fleet was also sent, conveying a
large land force, to make a diversion by attacking the Spanish

Turenne, in defending the frontiers of the Rhine, acquired reputation
which has made his name one of the most renowned in military annals.
The emperor sent seventy thousand men against him. Turenne had but
twenty thousand to meet them. By wonderful combinations, he defeated
and dispersed the whole imperial army. It added not a little to the
celebrity of Turenne that he had achieved his victory by following his
own judgment, in direct opposition to reiterated orders from the
minister of war, given in the name of the king.

Turenne, a merciless warrior, allowed no considerations of humanity to
interfere with his military operations. The Palatinate, a country on
both sides the Rhine, embracing a territory of about sixteen hundred
square miles, and a population of over three hundred thousand, was
laid in ashes by his command. It was a beautiful region, very fertile,
and covered with villages and opulent cities. The Elector Palatine saw
from the towers of his castle at Manheim two cities and twenty-five
villages at the same time in flames. This awful destruction was
perpetrated upon the defenseless inhabitants, that the armies of the
emperor, encountering entire desolation, might be deprived of
subsistence. It was nothing to Turenne that thousands of women and
children should be cast houseless into the fields to starve.

Alsace, with nearly a million of inhabitants, encountered the same
doom. Another province, Lorraine, which covered an area of about ten
thousand square miles, and contained a population of one and a half
millions, was swept of all its provisions by the cavalry of the French
commander. In reference to these military operations, Voltaire writes,

"All the injuries he inflicted seemed to be necessary. Besides, the
army of seventy thousand Germans, whom he thus prevented from
entering France, would have inflicted much more injury than Turenne
inflicted upon Lorraine, Alsace, and the Palatinate."

On the 27th of June, 1675, a cannon ball struck Turenne, and closed in
an instant his earthly career. His renown filled Europe. He was a
successful warrior, a dissolute man; and few who have ever lived have
caused more wide-spread misery than could be charged to his account.
Such is not the character which best prepares one to stand before the
judgment seat of Christ.

The war continued for two years with somewhat varying fortune, but
with unvarying blood and misery. At last peace was made on the 14th of
August, 1678--the peace of Nimeguen, as it is styled. Louis XIV.
dictated the terms. He was now at the height of his grandeur. He had
enlarged his domains by the addition of Franche-Comté, Dunkirk, and
half of Flanders. His courtiers worshiped him as a demigod. The French
court conferred upon him, with imposing solemnities, the title of
_Louis le Grand_. The ambition of Louis was by no means satiated. He
availed himself of the short peace which ensued to form plans and
gather resources for new conquests.

Let us now return from fields of blood to life in the palace. Madame
de la Vallière, upon her return from the convent, soon found herself
utterly miserable. She had hoped that reviving affection had been the
inducement which led Louis to recall her. Instead of this, his
attentions daily diminished. Madame de Montespan had accompanied the
king in his brief trip to Holland, and returned with him to Paris. She
was all-powerful at court, and seemed to delight, by word and deed, to
add to the anguish of her vanquished rival. After a dreary year of
wretchedness, Louise could endure no longer a residence in the palace.
Her mother, who had been exceedingly distressed in view of the
ignominious position occupied by her daughter, entreated her to retire
to the Duchy of Vaujours with her children. Her mother promised to
accompany her to that quiet yet beautiful retreat. But the spirit of
Louise was broken. She longed only to sever herself entirely from the
world, and to seek a living burial in the glooms of the cloister. In
those days of sorrow, penitence and the spirit of devotion sprang up
in her weary heart.

Louise was still young and beautiful. Her passionate love for the
king still held strong dominion over her. Grief brought on a long and
dangerous illness. For many days her life was in danger. In view of
the approaching judgment, where she felt that she soon must stand, the
greatness of her transgression harrowed her soul, and increased her
desire to spend the rest of her life in works of piety and in prayer.
When convalescent, the king consented to her retirement to the
Carmelite convent. Like one in a dream, she took leave of her children
without a tear. Then, entering the apartment of the queen, she threw
herself upon her knees, and with the sobbings of a remorseful and
despairing heart implored her pardon for all the sorrow she had caused
her. The generous Maria Theresa raised her up, embraced her, and
declared her entirely forgiven.

The morning of her departure arrived. The king, who was that day to
leave Paris to visit the army in Flanders, attended high mass. Louise
also attended. Absorbed in prayer, she did not raise her eyes during
the service. She then, pale as death, and leaning upon the arm of her
mother, but for whose support she must have fallen, advanced to take
leave of the king. The selfish monarch, with a dry eye and a firm
voice, bade her adieu, coldly expressing the hope that she would be
happy in her retreat. Without the slightest apparent emotion, he saw
Louise, with her earthly happiness utterly wrecked, enter her carriage
and drive away, to pass the remainder of her joyless years in the
gloomy cell of the convent. He then turned and conversed with his
companions with as much composure as if nothing unusual had happened.

Louise, upon her arrival at the convent, cast herself upon her knees
before the abbess, saying that hitherto she had made so ill a use of
her free will that she came to resign it to the abbess forever. For
thirty-six years the heart-broken penitent endured the hardships of
her convent life--its narrow pallet, its hard fare, its prolonged
devotions, its silence, and its rigid fastings. Under the name of
Louisa of Mercy she with the most exemplary fidelity performed all her
dreary duties, until, in her sixty-sixth year, she fell asleep, and
passed away, we trust, to the bosom of that Savior who is ever ready
to receive the returning penitent.

The hapless Henrietta, duchess of Orleans, left a very beautiful
daughter, Maria Louisa. Her charms of countenance, person, and
manners attracted the admiration of the whole court, where she was a
universal favorite. She was compelled by the king, as a matter of
state policy, to marry Charles II., the young King of Spain, for whom
she felt no affection. Bitterly she wept in view of the terrible
sacrifice she was compelled to make. But the will of the king was
inexorable. Her melancholy marriage was solemnized with much splendor
in the great chapel at St. Germain. She then left, with undisguised
reluctance, for Madrid. The King of Spain, feeble in body, more feeble
in mind, moody and melancholy, was charmed by her youth and beauty.
Her mental endowments were such that she soon acquired entire
ascendency over him. He became pliant as wax in her hands.

The cabinet at Vienna were alarmed lest Maria Louisa should influence
her husband to unite with France against Germany. The Countess de
Soissons was sent as a secret agent to the Spanish court. Beautiful
and fascinating, she soon became exceedingly intimate with the queen.
One day Maria Louisa, oppressed by the heat, expressed regret at the
scarcity of milk in Madrid, saying how much she should enjoy a good
draught. The countess assured her that she knew where to obtain some
of excellent quality, and that, with her majesty's permission, she
would have it iced and present it with her own hands. The queen
received the cup with a smile, and drank it at once. In half an hour
she was taken ill. After a few hours of horrible agony, such as her
unhappy mother had previously endured from the same cause, she died.
In the confusion, the countess escaped from the capital. She was
pursued, but her arrangements for escape had been so skillfully made
that she could not be overtaken.

Maria Theresa, the neglected queen of France, had borne six children;
but of these, at this period, there was but one surviving son, the
dauphin. In his character there appeared a combination of most
singular anomalies and contradictions. Though exceedingly impulsive
and obstinate in obeying every freak of his fancy, he seemed incapable
of any affection, and alike incapable of any hostility, except that
which flashed up for the moment.

"The example of his guardians had inspired him with a few amiable
qualities, but his natural vices defied eradication. His
constitutional tendencies were all evil. His greatest pleasure
consisted in annoying those about him. Those who were most conversant
with his humor could never guess the temper of his mind. He laughed
the loudest and affected the greatest amiability when he was most
exasperated, and scowled defiance when he was perfectly unruffled. His
only talent was a keen sense of the ridiculous. Nothing escaped him
that could be tortured into sarcasm, although no one could have
guessed, from his abstracted and careless demeanor, that he was
conscious of any thing that was taking place in his presence. His
indolence was extreme, and his favorite amusement was lying stretched
upon a sofa tapping the points of his shoes with a cane. Never, to the
day of his death, had even his most intimate associates heard him
express an opinion upon any subject relating to art, literature, or

[Footnote N: Louis XIV. and the Court of France, vol. ii., p. 268.]

Such was the imbecile young man who, by the absurd law of hereditary
descent, was the destined heir to the throne of more than twenty
millions of people. The king was anxious to obtain for his son a bride
whose alliance would strengthen him against his enemies. With that
policy alone influencing him, he applied for the hand of the Princess
Mary Ann of Bavaria. It so chanced that she was in personal appearance
exceedingly unattractive. The king said that, "though she was not
handsome, he still hoped that Monseigneur would be able to live
happily with her."

The dauphin, or Monseigneur as he was called, seemed to be perfectly
indifferent to the whole matter. He at one time inquired if the
princess were free from any deformity. Upon being told that she was,
he seemed quite contented, and asked no farther questions. In
anticipation of the marriage, a lady, Madame de Maintenon, whose name
henceforth became inseparably connected with that of Louis XIV., was
appointed to the distinguished post of "mistress of the robes" to the
dauphiness. We must now introduce this distinguished lady to our

The Marchioness Françoise d'Aubigné was born of a noble Protestant
family, in the year 1635, in the prison of Niort. Her mother, with her
little boy, had been permitted to join her imprisoned husband in his
captivity. Here Françoise was born, amidst scenes of the most extreme
poverty and misery. The emaciate mother was unable to afford
sustenance to her infant. A sister of Baron d'Aubigné, Madame de
Vilette, took Françoise to her home at the Chateau de Marcey, where
she passed her infancy. After an imprisonment of four years, the baron
was released; but, as he refused to abjure Calvinism, Cardinal
Richelieu would not permit him to remain in France. He consequently,
with his family, embarked for Martinique. During the passage,
Françoise was taken ill and apparently died. As one of the crew was
about to consign the body to its ocean burial, the grief-stricken
mother implored the privilege of one parting embrace. As she pressed
the child to her heart, she perceived indications of life. The babe
recovered, to occupy a position which filled the world with her

Upon the island of Martinique prosperity smiled upon them. Madame
d'Aubigné was a Catholic, though her husband was a Protestant. She at
length took ship for France, hoping to save some portion of her
husband's sequestered estates, but was unsuccessful. Upon her return
to Martinique, she found that Baron d'Aubigné, during her absence,
deprived of her restraining influence, had utterly ruined himself by
gambling. Overwhelmed by regret and misery, he almost immediately
sank into the grave. Madame d'Aubigné and her two children, in the
extreme of poverty, returned to France. Madame de Vilette again took
the little Françoise to the chateau of Marcey. As her mother was a
Catholic, Françoise had been baptized by a Romish priest, and reared
in the faith of her mother. The Countess de Neuillant, who was
attached to the household of Anne of Austria, was her godmother, and a
very intense Catholic; but Madame de Vilette, the sister of the
child's father, was a Protestant. The susceptible child was soon led
to adopt the faith of her protectress. Catholic zeal was such in those
days that Madame de Neuillant obtained an order from the court to
remove the little girl from the Protestant family, and to place her
under her own guardianship. Here every effort was made to induce
Françoise to return to the Catholic faith, but neither threats nor
entreaties were of any avail. She remained firm in her Protestant
principles. The persecution she endured amounted almost to martyrdom.
Madame de Neuillant, in her rage, imposed upon her the most
humiliating and onerous domestic services. She was the servant of the
servants. She fed the horses. She suffered from cold and hunger. Thus
she, who subsequently caused the revocation of the Edict of Nantes,
and thus exposed the Protestants to the most dreadful sufferings, was
a martyr of the religion of which she later became so terrible a

The mother, witnessing the distress of her child, succeeded in
withdrawing her from Madame de Neuillant, and placing her in a
convent. Here the Ursuline nuns won her over to the Catholic faith.
Proud of their convert, who was remarkably intelligent and attractive,
they kept her for a year. But as neither Madame de Neuillant, from
whom she had been removed, nor Madame de Vilette, who dreaded her
return to Romanism, would pay her board, they refused to give her any
longer a shelter. Françoise left the convent, and joined her mother
only in time to see her sink in sorrow to the grave. She was thus
left, at fourteen years of age, in utter destitution, dependent upon
charity for support.




Beauty and intelligence of Françoise--Françoise d'Aubigné and
the poet Scarron.--Scarron's proposal of marriage.--Marriage of
Françoise d'Aubigné.--Becomes a governess.--Elevation of Madame
Scarron.--Personal appearance of Madame de Maintenon.--Portrait
of Ann of Austria.--The Princess of Tuscany.--Unhappiness of the
dauphiness.--Louis's providence for his children.--Mademoiselle de
Blois.--Marriage of Mademoiselle de Blois.--The man with the iron
mask.--Measures adopted to prevent discovery.--Madame de Montespan
and her son.--Mary Angelica Roussille.--Intrigue of Madame
de Montespan.--Display of the Duchess de Fontanges.--A
quarrel.--Virtuous endeavors of Madame de Maintenon.--Madame de
Maintenon's efforts unsuccessful.--Sickness and distress of the
Duchess de Fontanges.--Death of the Duchess de Fontanges.--Madame
de Montespan rejoices.--Supremacy of Madame de Maintenon.--Père la
Chaise.--Remorse of Louis.--Degradation of the people.--Birth of
the Duke of Burgoyne.--Louis taken ill.--Dismissal of Madame de
Montespan.--Resolves to build a convent.--Her great wealth.--The
convent of St. Joseph completed.--The king recovers, and goes to
Flanders.--Return to Versailles.--Political ambition of Louis
XIV.--Sickness and death of the queen, Maria Theresa.--Tribute to
her worth.--Masses.--Versailles.--Heartlessness of the king
and of the courtiers.--Accident.--Death of the minister of
finance.--Ingratitude.--Remarkable condescension on the part
of Louis.--Genoa assailed.--Capture.--The Doge humbled.

The extreme distress and destitution of Françoise touched the heart of
Madame de Neuillant. She again took the orphan child under her charge
and returned her to school in the convent. Françoise gradually
developed remarkable beauty and intelligence. Her quiet, unobtrusive,
instinctive tact gave her fascinating power over most who approached
her. She often visited the countess, where she attracted much
admiration from the fashionable guests who were ever assembled in her
saloons. The dissolute courtiers were lavish in their attentions to
the highly-endowed child. Established principles of virtue alone saved
her from ruin. Misfortune and sorrow had rendered her precocious
beyond her years. It was her only and her earnest desire to take the
veil, and join the sisters in the convent. But money was needed for
that purpose, and she had none.

There was residing very near Madame de Neuillant, a very remarkable
man, Paul Scarron. He was born of a good family, and had traveled
extensively. Having run through the disgraceful round of fashionable
dissipation, he had become crippled by the paralysis of his lower
limbs, and was living a literary life in the enjoyment of a
competence. He was still young. Imperturbable gayety, wonderful
conversational powers, and celebrity as a poet, caused his saloons to
be crowded with distinguished and admiring friends. Some one mentioned
to him the situation of Françoise d'Aubigné, and her desire to enter
the convent. His kindly heart was touched, and, heading a
subscription-list, he soon obtained sufficient funds from among his
friends to enable her to secure the retreat she desired.

Quite overjoyed, the maiden hastened to the apartments of the poet to
express her gratitude. Scarron was astonished when the apparition of a
beautiful girl of fifteen, full of life, and with a figure whose
symmetric grace the sculptor could with difficulty rival, appeared
before him. Her heart was glowing with gratitude which her lips could
hardly express, that he was furnishing her with means for a life-long
burial in the glooms of the cloister. The poet gazed upon her for a
moment quite bewildered, and then said, with one of those beaming
smiles which irradiated his pale, intellectual face with rare beauty,

"I must recall my promise; I can not procure you admission into a
religious community. You are not fitted for a nun. You can not
understand the nature of the sacrifice which you are so eager to make.
Will you become my wife? My servants anger and neglect me. I am unable
to enforce obedience. Were they under the control of a mistress, they
would do their duty. My friends neglect me; I can not pursue them to
reproach them for their abandonment. If they saw a pretty woman at the
head of my household, they would make my home cheerful. I give you a
week to decide."

Françoise returned to the convent bewildered, almost stunned. She was
alone in the world, living upon reluctant charity. There was no one to
whom she could confidingly look for advice. The future was all dark
before her. Scarron, though crippled, was still young, witty, and
distinguished as one of the most popular poets of the day. His saloon
was the intellectual centre of the capital, where the most
distinguished men were wont to meet. At the close of the week
Françoise returned an affirmative answer. They were soon married. She
found apparently a happy home with her crippled but amiable husband.
The brilliant circle in the midst of which she moved strengthened her
intellect, enlarged her intelligence, and added to that wonderful ease
and gracefulness of manner with which she was by nature endowed.

In the year 1660 Monsieur Scarron died. He had lived expensively, and,
as his income was derived from a life annuity which ceased at his
death, his wife found herself again in utter destitution. She was then
forty-five years of age. Madame de Montespan, who had frequently met
her in those brilliant circles, which had been rendered additionally
attractive by her personal loveliness and mental charms, persuaded the
king to appoint Madame Scarron governess for her children. A residence
was accordingly assigned her near the palace of the Luxembourg, where
she was installed in her responsible office. She enjoyed a princely
residence, horses, a carriage, and a suite of servants. The many
attractions of Madame Scarron were not lost upon the king. He often
visited her, loved to converse with her, and soon the jealousy of
Madame de Montespan was intensely excited by the manifest fondness
with which he was regarding the new favorite.

Greatly to the disgust of Madame de Montespan, whose influence was
rapidly waning, the king appointed Madame Scarron to the responsible
office of _Mistress of the Robes_ to the dauphiness, Mary Ann of
Bavaria, who was soon to arrive. He also conferred upon her the fine
estate of Maintenon, with the title of Marchioness of Maintenon. It
was now the turn of Madame de Montespan to experience the same neglect
and humiliation through which she had seen, almost exultingly, the
unhappy Madame de la Valliére pass.

[Illustration: MADAME DE MAINTENON.]

The haughty favorite had reached her thirty-ninth year. The charms of
youth were fast leaving her. Louis had attained his forty-second year.
Bitter reproaches often rose between them. The king was weary of her
exactions. He made several efforts, but in vain, to induce her to
retire to one of the estates which he had conferred upon her. The
daily increasing alienation led the king more frequently to seek the
soothing society of the calm, gentle, serious Madame de Maintenon.
Her fascinations of person and mind won his admiration, while her
virtues commanded his respect.

Such was the posture of affairs when preparations were made for the
reception of the dauphiness with the utmost magnificence. The costumes
of Madame de Maintenon were particularly remarked for their splendor,
being covered with jewels and embroidered with gold.

"Madame de Maintenon, although in her forty-fifth year, had lost no
charm save that of youth, which had been replaced by a stately grace,
and a dignified self-possession that rendered it almost impossible to
regret the lighter and less finished attractions of buoyancy and
display. Her hands and arms were singularly beautiful; her eyes had
lost nothing of their fire; her voice was harmoniously modulated, and
there was in the whole of her demeanor unstudied ease, which was as
far removed from presumption as from servility."[O]

[Footnote O: Louis XIV. and the Court of France, vol. ii., p. 274.]

Madame de Montespan was so annoyed by the honors conferred upon Madame
de Maintenon that she was betrayed into saying, "I pity the young
foreigner, who can not fail to be eclipsed in every way by her
_Mistress of the Robes_."

Early in the year 1680 Madame de Maintenon and M. Bossuet, bishop of
Meaux, who had educated the dauphin, accompanied by a suitable
retinue, proceeded to Schelestadt to receive the dauphiness. Here the
ceremony of marriage by proxy was to be solemnized. The king and the
dauphin proceeded as far as Vitry le Français to receive the bride.
She was not beautiful, "but she was," writes Madame de Sévigné, "very
graceful; her hands and arms were exquisitely moulded. She had so fine
a figure, so admirable a carriage, such handsome teeth, such
magnificent hair, and so much amiability of manner, that she was
courteous without being insipid, familiar without losing her dignity,
and had so charming a deportment that she might be pardoned for not
pleasing at first sight."

Louis seemed quite delighted with his new daughter-in-law, and devoted
himself much to her entertainment. She was accompanied by her sister,
the Princess of Tuscany, who was extremely beautiful. The king, in
conversation with Mary Ann, remarked, "You never mentioned to me the
fact that the Princess of Tuscany was so singularly lovely." With tact
which gave evidence of her self-possession and ready wit, the
dauphiness replied, "How can I remember, sire, that my sister
monopolized all the beauty of the family, when I, on my part, have
monopolized all its happiness."

The young dauphiness had sufficient penetration soon to perceive that
the attentions which the king was apparently devoting to her were due
mainly to his desire to enjoy the society of the beautiful and
agreeable _Mistress of the Robes_. The dauphiness was annoyed.
Naturally of a retiring disposition, very fond of books and of music,
she soon wearied of the perpetual whirl of fashion and frivolity, and
gradually withdrew as much as possible from the society of the court.
She imbibed a strong dislike to Madame de Maintenon, which dislike
Madame de Montespan did every thing in her power to increase. The
dauphiness became very unhappy. She soon found that her husband was a
mere cipher, whom she could neither regard with respect nor affection.
Louis XIV. allowed the dauphiness to pursue her own course. While ever
treating her with the most punctilious politeness, he continued, much
to her chagrin, and especially to that of Madame de Montespan, to
manifest his admiration for Madame de Maintenon, and constantly to
seek her society. Thus the clouds of discontent, jealousy, and bitter
hostility shed their gloom throughout the court. There was splendor
there, but no happiness.

It was a good trait in the character of the king that he was
affectionately attached to _all_ of his children. He provided for them
sumptuously, and did every thing in his power to provide abundantly
for those of dishonorable birth. Royal decrees pronounced them
legitimate, and they were honored and courted as princes of the blood.

Mademoiselle de Blois, a daughter of Madame de la Vallière, was one of
the most beautiful and highly accomplished women ever seen at the
French court. Her mother had transmitted to her all her many virtues
and none of her frailties. Tall and slender, her figure was the
perfection of grace. A slightly pensive air enhanced the charms of a
countenance remarkably lovely, and of a bearing in which were combined
the highest attractions of self-respect and courtly breeding. Her
voice was music. Her hands and feet were finely modeled. Several
foreign princes had solicited her hand. But the king, her father, had
invariably declined these offers. He declared that the presence of
his daughter was essential to his happiness--that he could not be
separated from her.

In 1680 Mademoiselle de Blois was married to the Prince de Conti,
nephew of the great Condé. It was as brilliant a marriage as exalted
rank, gorgeous dresses, superb diamonds, and courtly etiquette could
create. The king could not have honored the nuptials more had he been
giving a daughter of the queen to the proudest monarch in Europe. Her
princely dowry was the same as would have been conferred on such an
occasion. It amounted to five hundred thousand golden crowns. This was
the same sum which the Spanish monarchy assigned Maria Theresa upon
her marriage with the King of France.

It is difficult to imagine what must have been the emotions of Madame
de la Vallière when she heard, in her narrow cell, the details of the
brilliant nuptials of her child. Her loving heart must have
experienced conflicting sensations of joy and of anguish. Madame de la
Vallière had also a son, Count Vermandois. He became exceedingly
dissipated, so much so as to excite the severe displeasure of the
king. Rumor says that on one occasion he had the audacity to strike
the dauphin. The council condemned him to death. Louis XIV., through
paternal affection, commuted the punishment to imprisonment for life.
The report was spread that he had died of a contagious disease, while
he was privately conveyed to the prison of St. Marguerite, and
subsequently to the Bastile, his face being ever concealed under an
iron mask. Here he died, it is said, on the 19th of November, 1703,
after an imprisonment of between thirty and forty years. The true
explanation of this great historical mystery will probably now never
be ascertained.

The story of the "Man with the Iron Mask" is one of the most
remarkable in the annals of the past. Probably no information will
ever be obtained upon this subject more full than that which Voltaire
has given. He says that a prisoner was sent in great secrecy to the
chateau in the island of St. Marguerite; that he was young, tall, and
of remarkably graceful figure. His face was concealed by an iron mask,
with coils of steel so arranged that he could eat without its removal.
Orders were given to kill him instantly if he should announce who he
was. He remained at the chateau many years in close imprisonment.

In 1690, M. St. Mars, governor of the prison at St. Marguerite, was
transferred to the charge of the Bastile in Paris. The prisoner, ever
masked, was taken with him, and was treated on the journey with the
highest respect. A well-furnished chamber was provided for him in that
immense chateau. The governor himself brought him his food, and stood
respectfully like a servile attendant while he ate. The captive was
extremely fond of fine linen and lace, and was very attentive to his
personal appearance. Upon his death the walls of his chamber were
rubbed down and whitewashed. Even the tiles of the floor were removed,
lest he might have concealed a note beneath them.

It is very remarkable that, while it can not be doubted that the
prisoner was a person of some great importance, no such personage
disappeared from Europe at that time. It is a plausible supposition
that the king, unwilling to consign his own son to death, sent him to
life-long imprisonment; and that the report of his death by a
contagious disease was circulated that the mother might be saved the
anguish of knowing the dreadful fate of her child. Still there are
many difficulties connected with this explanation, and there is none
other which has ever satisfied public curiosity.

Madame de Montespan had eight children, who were placed under the care
of Madame de Maintenon. Her eldest son, Count de Vixen, died in his
eleventh year. Her second son, the Duke de Maine, was a lad of
remarkable character and attainments. He loved Madame de Maintenon. He
did not love his mother. Unfeelingly he reproached her with his
ignoble birth. Madame de Montespan, though still a fine-looking woman,
brilliant, witty, and always conspicuous for the splendor of her
equipage and her attire, felt every hour embittered by the
consciousness that her power over the king had passed away. She
regarded the serious, thoughtful Madame de Maintenon as her successful
rival, though her social relations with the king were entirely above

The character of the discarded favorite is developed by the measure
she adopted to lure the susceptible and unprincipled monarch from the
very agreeable society of Madame de Maintenon. In the department of
Provence there was a young lady but eighteen years of age, Mary
Angelica Roussille. She was of such wonderful beauty that its fame had
reached Paris. Her parents had educated her with the one sole object
of rendering her as fascinating as possible. They wished to secure for
her the position of a maid of honor to the queen, hoping that by so
doing she would attract the favor of the king. Madame de Montespan
heard of her. She plotted to bring this young and extraordinary beauty
to the court, that, by her personal charms, she might outrival the
mental and social attractions of Madame de Maintenon. She described
her intended protegé to the king in such enthusiastic strains that his
curiosity was roused. She was brought to court. The monarch, satiated
by indulgence, oppressed by ennui, ever seeking some new excitement,
was at once won by the charms of the beautiful Mary Angelica. She
became an acknowledged favorite. He lavished upon her gifts of jewels
and of gold, and dignified her with the title of the _Duchesse de
Fontanges_. The court blazed again with splendor to greet the new
favorite; and, let it not be forgotten, to meet this royal splendor,
millions of peasants were consigned to hovels, and life-long penury
and want.

There was a constant succession of theatric shows, ballets, and
concerts. Mary Angelica was a gay, frivolous, conceited, heartless
girl, who recklessly squandered the gold so profusely poured into her
lap. The insolent favorite even ventured to treat the queen with
disdain, assuming the priority. In the streets she made a truly regal
display in a gorgeous carriage drawn by eight cream-colored horses,
while the clustering ringlets, the floating plumes, and the truly
radiant beauty of the _parvenue_ duchess attracted all eyes. If she
had ever heard, she refused to heed the warning voice of the prophet,
saying, "Know thou that for all these things God will bring thee into

The scheme of Madame de Montespan had succeeded far more fully than
she had expected or desired. The absorption of the king in the
new-comer was so entire that the discarded favorite was tortured with
new pangs of jealousy and remorse. Implacably she hated the Duchess of
Fontanges. With her sharp tongue she mercilessly cut the luxurious
beauty, who had intelligence enough to feel the sarcasms keenly, but
had no ability to retort. A disgraceful quarrel ensued, in which the
most vulgar epithets and the grossest witticisms were bandied between
them. The king himself at length found it necessary to interpose. He
applied to Madame de Maintenon for counsel and aid. She had quietly
attended to her duties, observing all that was passing, but taking no
part in these shameful intrigues. Conscious that any attempt to
influence Madame de Montespan, hardened as she was in her career,
would be futile, she ventured to address herself to the young and
inexperienced Duchess de Fontanges. Gently she endeavored to lead her
to some conception of the enormity of the life she was leading, and of
the indecency of compromising the king and the court by undignified

The vain and heartless beauty received her counsels with bitter
derision and passionate insult, and attributed every annoyance to
which, as she averred, she was continually subjected, to the jealous
envy of those with whose ambitious views she had interfered; more than
hinting that Madame de Maintenon herself was among the number. She
was, however, only answered by a placid smile, and instructed to
remember that those who sought to share her triumphs and her splendor
must be content at the same time to partake her sin. It was a price
too heavy to pay even for the smiles of a monarch. In vain did the
flushed and furious beauty plead the example of others, higher born
and more noble than herself. The calm and unmoved monitress instantly
availed herself of this hollow argument to bid her, in her turn, to
set an example which the noblest and the best-born might be proud to

"And how can I do this?" was the sullen inquiry.

"By renouncing the society of the king," firmly replied Madame de
Maintenon. "Either you love him, or you love him not. If you love him,
you should make an effort to save both his honor and your own. If you
do not love him, it will cost you no effort to withdraw from the
court. In either case you will act wisely and nobly."

"Would not any one believe who heard you," passionately exclaimed the
duchess, "that it was as easy to leave a king as to throw off a

[Footnote P: Louis XIV and the Court of France.]

This was the only reply. The mission of Madame de Maintenon had
entirely failed. The proud, unblushing beauty, whose effrontery passed
all bounds, was greatly enraged against Madame de Maintenon; and when
she perceived that the king was again beginning to take refuge in her
virtuous society and conversation, she vowed the most signal

But the day of retribution soon came--far sooner than could have been
expected. The guilty and pampered duchess was taken ill--hopelessly
so, with a sickness that destroyed all her beauty. She became sallow,
pallid, gaunt, emaciate, haggard. The selfish, heartless king wished
to see her no more. He did not conceal his repugnance, and quite
forsook her. The humiliation, distress, and abandonment of the guilty
duchess was more than she could bear. She begged permission, either
sincerely or insincerely, to retire to the convent of Port Royal.
Louis, whose crime was far greater than that of his wrecked and ruined
victim, was glad to be rid of her. But she was too far gone, in her
rapid illness, to be removed. It was soon manifest that her life was
drawing near to its close. She begged to see the king once more before
she died.

Louis XIV. dreaded every thing which could remind him of that tomb
toward which all are hastening, and especially did he recoil from
every death-bed scene. The wretched man would not have listened to the
plea of the dying girl had not the remonstrances of his confessor
constrained him. Thus, reluctantly, he entered the dying chamber. He
found Mary Angelica faded, withered, and ghastly--all unlike the
radiant beauty whom for a few brief months he had almost worshiped.
Egotist as he was, he could not restrain his tears. Her glassy eyes
were riveted upon his countenance. Her clammy hand almost convulsively
clasped his own. Her livid lips quivered in their last effort as she
besought him to pay her debts, and sometimes to remember her. Louis
promised all she asked. As she sank back upon her pillow, she gasped
out the declaration that she should die happy, as she saw that the
king could weep for her. Immediately after she fell into a swoon and

The exultation of Madame de Montespan at her death was so indecent and
undisguised as to excite the disgust of the king. Her very name became
hateful to him. Wicked man as he was, Louis XIV. believed in
Christianity, and in its revelations of responsibility at the bar of
God. He was shocked, and experienced much remorse in view of this
death-bed without repentance. He could not conceal from himself that
he was in no inconsiderable degree responsible for the guilt which
burdened the soul of the departed. His aversion to Madame de Montespan
was increased by the report, then generally circulated, that the
duchess had died from poison, administered through her agency. The
poor victim of sin and shame was soon forgotten in the grave. The
court whirled on in its usual round of frivolous and guilty pleasures,
such as Babylon could scarcely have rivaled.

The supremacy of Madame de Maintenon over Louis XIV. was that of a
strong mind over a feeble one. The king had many very weak points in
his character. He was utterly selfish, and the slave of his vices.
Madame de Maintenon, with much address, strove to recall him to a
better life. In these efforts she was much aided by the king's
confessor, Père la Chaise. This truly good man reminded the king that
he had already passed the fortieth year of his age, that his youth had
gone forever, that he would soon enter upon the evening of his days,
and that, as yet, he had done nothing to secure his eternal salvation.
He had already received many warnings as he had followed one after
another to the grave. The king was naturally thoughtful, and perhaps
even religiously inclined. Not a few events had already occurred
calculated to harrow his soul with remorse. He had seen his mother
die, one of the saddest of deaths. He had seen his sister Henrietta,
his brother's bride, whom he had loved with more than a brother's
love, writhing in death's agonies, the victim of poison. He had
followed several of his children to the grave. Madame de la Vallière,
whom he had loved as ardently as he was capable of loving any one, now
a ruined, heart-broken victim of his selfishness and sin, was
consigned to living burial in the glooms of the cloister. He could not
banish from his mind the dreadful scenes of the death of the Duchess
of Fontanges.

Just at this time the dauphiness gave birth to a son. This advent of
an heir to the throne caused universal rejoicing throughout the court
and the nation. It is melancholy to reflect that the people, crushed
and impoverished as they were by the most atrocious despotism, were so
unintelligent that they regarded their oppressors with something of
the idolatrous homage with which the heathen bow before their hideous

The king himself, at times, manifested a kind of tender interest in
the people, who were so mercilessly robbed to maintain the splendor of
his court and the grandeur of his armies. Upon the birth of the young
prince, who received the title of the Duke of Burgoyne, the populace
of Paris crowded to Versailles with their rude congratulations. Every
avenue was thronged with the immense multitude. They even flooded the
palace and poured into the saloons. The king, whose heart was softened
by the birth of a grandson to whom the crown might be transmitted,
received all very graciously.

The birth of an heir to the crown added much to the personal
importance of the dauphiness. But, neglected by her husband and
annoyed by the scenes transpiring around her, she was a very unhappy
woman. No efforts on the part of the court could draw her from the
silence and gloom of her retirement. Madame de Maintenon and the
king's confessor, Père la Chaise, were co-operating in the endeavor to
lure the king from his life of guilty indulgence into the paths of
virtue. Fortunately, at this time the monarch was attacked by severe
and painful illness. Death was to him truly the king of terrors. He
was easily influenced to withdraw from his criminal relations with
one whom he had for some time been regarding with repugnance. Madame
de Maintenon was deputed to inform Madame de Montespan of the king's
determination never again to regard her in any other light than that
of a friend.

It was a very painful and embarrassing commission for Madame de
Maintenon to fulfill. But the will of the king was law. She discharged
the duty with great delicacy and kindness. Deeply mortified as was the
discarded favorite, she was not entirely unprepared for the
announcement. She had for some time been painfully aware of her waning
influence, and had been preparing for herself a retreat where she
could still enjoy opulence, rank, and power.

In pursuit of this object, she had determined to erect and endow a
convent. The sisterhood, appointed by her and entirely dependent upon
her liberality, would treat her with the deference due to a queen. The
king had lavished such enormous sums upon her that she had large
wealth at her disposal. She had already selected a spot for the
convent in the Faubourg St. Germain, and had commenced rearing the
edifice. It so happened that the corner-stone was laid at the very
moment in which the unhappy Duchess de Fontanges was breathing her
last. Madame de Montespan had no idea of taking the veil herself. The
glooms of the cloister had for her no attractions. Her only object was
to rear a miniature kingdom, where she, having lost the potent charms
of youth and beauty, could still enjoy an undisputed reign.

The marchioness already owned a dwelling, luxuriously furnished, which
the king had presented her, in the Rue St. Andre des Arcs. Her wealth
was so great that, in addition to the convent, she also planned
erecting for herself a magnificent hotel, in imitation of the palace
of the Tuileries. The estimated expense was equal to the sum of one
million five hundred thousand dollars at the present day.

The workmen upon the convent were urged to the most energetic labor,
and the building was soon completed. The marchioness gave it the name
of St. Joseph. One room was sumptuously furnished for her private
accommodation. She appointed the abbess. The great bell of the convent
was to ring twenty minutes whenever she visited the sisterhood. As the
founder of the community, she was to receive the honors of the incense
at high mass and vespers. The marchioness richly enjoyed this
adulation, and was a frequent visitor at the convent.

The king, having recovered from his illness, decided upon a journey to
Flanders. Oppressed with ennui, he sought amusement for himself and
his court. He wished also to impress his neighbors by an exhibition of
his splendor and power. The queen, with the dauphin and dauphiness,
attended by their several suites, accompanied him on this expedition.
Madame de Montespan was excessively chagrined in finding her name
omitted in the list of those who were to make up the party. But the
name of Madame de Maintenon headed the list of the attendants of the

The gorgeous procession, charioted in the highest appliances of regal
splendor, swept along through cities and villages, every where
received with triumphal arches, the ringing of bells, the explosions
of artillery, and the blaze of illuminations till the sea-port of
Dunkirk was reached. Here there was a sham-fight between two frigates.
It was a serene and lovely day. The members of the royal suite, from
the deck of a bark sumptuously prepared for their accommodation,
witnessed with much delight the novel spectacle. At the close, the
king repaired to one of the men-of-war, upon whose deck a lofty throne
was erected, draped with a costly awning. Here the splendor-loving
monarch, surrounded by that ceremonial and pageantry which were so
dear to him, received the congratulations of the dignitaries of his
own and other lands upon his recent recovery from illness. At the end
of a month the party returned to Versailles.

Devoted as Louis XIV. was to his own selfish gratification, he was
fully aware of the dependence of that gratification upon the
aggrandizement of the realm, which he regarded as his private
property. Upon this tour of pleasure he invested the city of
Luxembourg with an army of thirty thousand men, and took it after a
siege of eight days. He then overrun the Electorate of Treves,
demolished all its fine fortifications, and by the energies of
pillage, fire, and ruin, rendered it impossible for the territory
hereafter to render any opposition to his arms. The destructive genius
of Louvois had suggested that these unnecessary spoliations would tend
to increase the authority of his royal master by inspiring a greater
terror of his power.

Soon after this, the queen, Maria Theresa, was suddenly taken sick.
Her indisposition, at first slight, rapidly increased in severity, and
an abscess developed itself under her arm. The pain became
excruciating. Her physician opened a vein and administered an emetic
at 11 o'clock in the morning. It was a fatal prescription. At 3
o'clock in the afternoon she died. As this unhappy queen, so gentle,
so loving, so forgiving, was sinking away in death, she still, with
woman's deathless love, cherished tenderly in her heart the memory of
the king. Just as she was breathing her last, she drew from her finger
a superb ring, which she presented to Madame de Maintenon saying,

"Adieu, my very dear marchioness. To you I confide the happiness of
the king."

Maria Theresa was one of the most lovely of women. Her conduct was
ever irreproachable. Amiable, unselfish, warm-hearted, from the time
of her marriage she devoted herself to the promotion of the happiness
of her husband. His neglect and unfaithfulness caused her, in secret,
to shed many tears. Naturally diffident, and rendered timid by his
undisguised indifference, she trembled whenever the king approached
her. A casual smile from him filled her with delight. The king could
not be insensible to her many virtues. Perhaps remorse was mingled
with the emotions which compelled him to weep bitterly over her death.
As he gazed upon her lifeless remains, he exclaimed,

"Kind and forbearing friend, this is the first sorrow that you have
caused me throughout twenty years."


The royal corpse lay in state at Versailles for ten days. During this
time perpetual masses were performed for the soul of the departed from
7 o'clock in the morning until dark. The king had reared the gorgeous
palace of Versailles that he might not be annoyed, in his Babylonian
revelry, by the sight of the towers of St. Denis. But God did not
allow the guilty monarch to forget that kings as well as peasants were
doomed to die. The king was compelled to accompany the remains of
Maria Theresa from the sumptuous palace, where she had found so
splendid and so unhappy a home, to the gloomy vaults of the abbey,
where, in darkness and silence, those remains were to moulder to dust.

The queen was forgotten even before she was buried. The gay courtiers,
anxious to banish as speedily as possible from their minds all
thoughts of death and judgment, sought, in songs, and mirth, and wine,
to bury even the grave in oblivion. The funeral car was decorated with
the most imposing emblems of mourning. A numerous train of carriages
followed, filled with the great officers of the crown and with the
ladies of the royal household. The procession was escorted by a
brilliant and numerous body of mounted troops.

"But nothing could exceed the indecency with which the journey was
performed. From all the carriages issued the sounds of heartless jest
and still more heartless laughter. The troops had no sooner reached
the plain of St. Denis than they dispersed in every direction, some
galloping right and left, and others firing at the birds that were
flying over their heads."[Q]

[Footnote Q: Memoirs of Mademoiselle de Montpensier.]

The king, on the day of the funeral, in the insane endeavor to
obliterate from his mind thoughts of death and burial, ordered out the
hounds and plunged into the excitement of the chase. His horse pitched
the monarch over his head into a ditch of stagnant water, dislocating
one of his shoulders.

About this time, Jean Baptiste Colbert, the king's minister of
finance, and probably the most extraordinary man of the age, died,
worn out with toil, anxiety, and grief. Few men have ever passed
through this world leaving behind them such solid results of their
labors. As minister of finance, he furnished the king with all the
money he needed for his expensive wars and luxurious indulgence. As
superintendent of buildings, arts, and manufactures, he enlarged the
Tuileries, completed the gorgeous palace of Versailles, reared the
magnificent edifices of the Invalides, Vincennes, and Marly, and
founded the Gobelins. These and many other works of a similar nature
he performed, though constantly struggling against the jealousy and
intrigues of powerful opponents.

The king seldom, if ever, manifested any gratitude to those who served
him. Colbert, in the 64th year of his age, exhausted by incessant
labor, and harassed by innumerable annoyances, was on a dying bed. Sad
reflections seemed to overwhelm him. Not a gleam of joy lighted up his
fading eye. The heavy taxes he had imposed upon the people rendered
him unpopular. He could not be insensible to imprecations which
threatened to break up his funeral and to drag his remains
ignominiously through the streets. The king condescended, as his only
act of courtesy, to send a messenger to ask tidings of the condition
of his minister. As the messenger approached the bed, the dying
sufferer turned away his face, saying,

"I will not hear that man spoken of again. If I had done for God what
I have done for him, I should have been saved ten times over. Now I
know not what may be my fate."

The day after his death, without any marks of honor, his remains were
conveyed, in an ordinary hearse, to the church of St. Eustache. A few
of the police alone followed the coffin.

Genoa had offended the king by selling powder to the Algerines, and
some ships to Spain. Louis seized, by secret warrant, _lettre de
cachet_, the Genoese embassador, and plunged him into one of the
dungeons of the Bastile. He then sent a fleet of over fifty vessels of
war to chastise, with terrible severity, those who had offended him.
The ships sailed from Toulon on the 6th of May, 1684, and entered the
harbor of Genoa on the 19th. Immediately there was opened upon the
city a terrific fire. In a few hours fourteen thousand bombs were
hurled into its dwellings and its streets. A large portion of those
marble edifices, which had given the city the name of _Genoa the
Superb_, were crumbled to powder. Fourteen thousand soldiers were then
disembarked. They advanced through the suburbs, burning the buildings
before them. The whole city was threatened with total destruction. The
authorities, in terror, sent to the conqueror imploring his clemency.
The haughty King of France demanded that the Doge of Genoa, with four
of his principal ministers, should repair to the palace of Versailles
and humbly implore his pardon. The doge, utterly powerless, was
compelled to submit to the humiliating terms.




Character of Madame de Maintenon.--Depression of the
dauphiness.--Père la Chaise.--The Edict of Nantes.--The Catholic
clergy indignant.--Ravaillac.--Confirmation of the Edict of
Nantes.--La Rochelle.--Sufferings of the Huguenots.--Policy of
Louis.--Influence of Madame de Maintenon.--Religious zeal of the
king.--False-hearted.--Persecution of the Protestants.--Severe
measures to force proselytism.--The _dragonnades_.--Moral suasion
of the dragoons.--Brutality of the soldiery.--Enactments of
intolerance.--Zeal of the king.--The revocation of the Edict of
Nantes.--Severe enactments against the Protestants.--Flight of the
Protestants.--Numbers of the emigrants.--Scenes of suffering.--Louis
alarmed.--Historical accounts of the emigration.--Multiplied
outrages.--Reactions.--Secret assemblies.--Rage of the Jesuits.--New
measures of the court.--Remonstrances of honorable
Catholics.--Intrigues of the king.--Madame de Montespan to be
removed.--Banishment of Madame de Montespan.--Parterre of
Versailles.--A successful mission.--Egotism and heartlessness of the
king.--Singular interview.--The king defends Madame de Maintenon's
character.--Scene of frenzy and despair.--Madame de Maintenon and
Madame de Montespan.

It is the undisputed testimony of all the contemporaries of Madame de
Maintenon that she possessed a character of rare excellence. Her
personal attractions, sound judgment, instinctive delicacy of
perception, and conversational brilliance, gave her a certain
supremacy wherever she appeared. The fidelity with which she fulfilled
her duties, her high religious principles, and the bold, yet tender
remonstrances with which she endeavored to reclaim the king from his
unworthy life, excited first his astonishment, and then his profound

Every day the king, at three o'clock, proceeded to the apartments of
Madame de Maintenon, and, taking a seat in an arm-chair, sat in a
reclining posture, sometimes silently watching the progress of her
tapestry-work, and again engaged in quiet conversation. Occasionally
some of Racine's tragedies were read. The king took a listless
pleasure in drawing out Madame de Maintenon to remark upon the merits
or defects of the production.

"In truth, a weariness of existence was rapidly growing upon Louis
XIV. He had outlived his loves, his griefs, and almost his ambition.
All he wanted was repose. And this he found in the society of an
accomplished, judicious, and unassuming woman, who, although he
occasionally transacted business in her presence with Louvois, never
presumed to proffer an opinion save when he appealed to her judgment,
and even then tendered it with reluctance and reserve."[R]

[Footnote R: Louis XIV. and the Court of France, by Miss Pardoe, vol.
ii., p. 339.]

Upon the death of the queen the dauphiness was raised to the first
rank at court. Still she was gloomy and reserved. No allurements could
draw her from her retirement. Madame de Maintenon was a very decided
Roman Catholic, and was very much influenced by the king's confessor,
Père la Chaise, who seems to have been a man of integrity and of
conscientiousness, though fanatically devoted to what he deemed to be
the interests of the Church. In former reigns the Protestants had
endured from the Catholics the most dreadful persecutions. After
scenes of woe, the recital of which causes the blood to curdle in
one's veins, Henry IV., the grandfather of Louis XIV., feeling the
need of the support of the Protestants to protect the kingdom from the
perils by which it was surrounded, and having himself been educated a
Protestant, granted the Protestants the world-renowned Edict of

By this edict, which took its name from the place in which it was
published, and which was issued in April, 1598, certain privileges
were granted to the Protestants, which, in that dark age, were
regarded as extraordinarily liberal.

Protestants were allowed liberty of conscience; that is, they were not
to be punished for their religious faith. In certain designated places
they were permitted to hold public worship. The highest lords of the
Protestant faith could celebrate divine service in their castles.
Nobles of the second rank could have private worship, provided but
thirty persons attended. Protestants were declared to be eligible to
offices of state, their children were to be admitted to the public
schools, their sick to the hospitals, and their poor to the public
charities. In certain places they could publish books; they were
allowed four academies for scientific and theological instruction, and
were permitted to convoke synods for Church discipline.

The Catholic clergy were very indignant in view of these concessions.
Pope Clement VIII. declared that the ordinance which permitted liberty
of conscience to every one was the most execrable which was ever

[Footnote S: History of the Protestants of France, by Professor G. de
Félice, p. 275.]

There were then seven hundred and sixty churches in France of the
Protestant communion. No such church was allowed in Paris. Protestants
from the city, rich and poor, were compelled to repair, for public
worship, to the little village of Ablon, fifteen miles from the city.
The Edict of Nantes probably cost Henry IV. his life. The assassin
Ravaillac, who plunged his dagger twice into the bosom of the king,
said, in his examination,

"I killed the king because, in making war upon the pope, he made war
upon God, since the pope is God."

The Protestants were thrown into the utmost consternation by the death
of Henry IV. They apprehended the immediate repeal of the edict, and
a renewal of the massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day. But the regent,
Mary de Medici, and the court immediately issued a decree confirming
the ordinance. Louis XIII. was then a child but eight and a half years
of age. As he came into power, he was urged by the Jesuits to
exterminate the Protestants. But they were too powerful to be wantonly
assailed. They held two hundred fortified places. Many of the highest
lords were among their leaders. Their soldiers were renowned for
valor, and their churches numbered four hundred thousand men capable
of bearing arms. It was not deemed safe to rouse such a people to the
energies of despair. Still, during the reign of Louis XIII., there
were many bloody conflicts between the royal troops and the

In this religious war, the Protestants, or Huguenots, as they were
then called, defended themselves so valiantly, that the king felt
constrained, in October, 1622, to relinquish his attempt to subjugate
the Protestants by force of arms, and to confirm the Edict of Nantes.
The sword was scarcely sheathed ere it was drawn again. All over
France the Catholics and Protestants faced each other upon fields of
blood. The battle raged for seven years with every conceivable
concomitant of cruelty and horror. The eyes of all Europe were
directed to the siege of La Rochelle, in 1627, where the Huguenots
made their most decisive stand. All that human nature could suffer was
endured. When two thirds of the population of the city had perished,
and the streets and dwellings were encumbered with the unburied dead,
and the remaining soldiers, reduced to skeletons, could no longer lift
their weapons, the city surrendered on the 28th of October, 1628.

By this war and the fall of La Rochelle, the Protestants were
hopelessly weakened. Though they were deprived of many of their
privileges, and were greatly diminished in numbers and influence,
still the general provisions of the Edict of Nantes were not repealed.

In the year 1662, Louis XIV., then upon the throne, in recognition of
some support which he had received from the Protestants, issued a
decree in which he said,

"Inasmuch as our subjects of the pretended Reformed religion have
given us proofs of their affection and fidelity, be it known that,
for these reasons, they shall be supported and guarded, as in fact we
do support and guard them, in the full enjoyment of the Edict of

The king had even appointed, the year before, two commissaries, the
one a Catholic, the other a Protestant, to visit every province, and
see that the requisitions of the Edict of Nantes were faithfully
observed. This seemed very fair. But, in appointing these
commissioners, a Catholic was always appointed who was a high
dignitary of the state, a man of wealth and rank, distinguished for
his devotion to the interests of the Catholic Church. On the other
hand, the Protestant was always some poor country gentleman, timid and
irresolute, and often one who had been secretly sold to the court to
betray his duties.

The Protestants had hoped much from the influence of Madame de
Maintenon over the king, as she was the granddaughter of Agrippa
d'Aubigné, one of the most illustrious defenders of the Calvinistic
faith, and as she herself had been a Protestant until she had attained
the age of sixteen years.

But the king was fanatically Catholic, hoping, in some measure, to
atone for his sins by his supreme devotion to the interests of the
Church. Madame de Maintenon found it necessary, in promotion of her
ambitious plans, to do all in her power to conceal her Protestant
origin. She was fully aware of the king's great dislike to the
Protestants, and of the necessity of cordially co-operating with him
in these views. Still she could not refrain from manifesting some
compassion at times for the sufferings of the friends of her earlier

Louis XIV., while assuring the Protestant powers of Europe that he
would continue to respect the Edict of Nantes, commenced issuing a
series of ordinances in direct opposition to that contract. First he
excluded Protestants from all public offices whatever. A Protestant
could not be employed as a physician, lawyer, apothecary, bookseller,
printer, or even as a nurse. This decree was issued in 1680. In some
portions of the kingdom the Protestants composed nearly the entire
population. Here it was impossible to enforce the atrocious decree. In
other places it led to riots and bloodshed.

This ordinance was followed by one forbidding marriages between
Catholics and Protestants. Catholic servants were forbidden to serve
in Protestant families, and Protestant servants could not be employed
by Catholics.

Rapidly blow followed blow. On the 17th of June, 1680, the king issued
the following ordinance: "We wish that our subjects of the pretended
Reformed religion, both male and female, having attained the age of
seven years, may, and it is hereby made lawful for them to embrace the
Catholic Apostolic and Roman religion, and that to this effect they be
allowed to abjure the pretended Reformed religion, without their
fathers and mothers and other kinsmen being allowed to offer them the
least hinderance, under any pretext whatever."

The effect of this law was terrible. Any malignant person, even a
servant, could go into a court of justice and testify that a certain
child had made the sign of the cross, or kissed an image of the
Virgin, or had expressed a desire to enter the Catholic Church, and
that child was immediately taken from its parents, shut up in a
convent, and the parents were compelled to pay the expenses of its
education. Even Madame de Maintenon availed herself of this law in
wresting from her relative, the Marquis de Vilette, his children.

A decree was then issued that all Protestants who should become
Catholics might defer the payment of their debts for three years, and
for two years be exempt from taxation, and from the burden of having
soldiers quartered upon them. To save the treasury from loss, a double
burden of taxation and a double quartering of soldiers was imposed
upon those Protestants who refused to abjure their faith.

If any Protestant was sick, officers were appointed whose duty it was
to visit the sick-bed, and strive to convert the sufferer to the
Catholic faith. Any physician who should neglect to give notice of
such sickness was punished by a severe fine. The pastors were
forbidden to make any allusions whatever in their sermons to these
decrees of the court. Following this decree came the announcement that
if any convert from Catholicism should be received into a Protestant
Church, his property should be confiscated, he should be banished, and
the privilege of public worship should no longer be enjoyed by that
Church. Under this law several church edifices were utterly

One of the severest measures adopted against the Protestants was
quartering brutal and ferocious soldiers in their families. In March,
1681, Louvois wrote to the governor of Poitou that he intended to send
a regiment of cavalry into that province.

"His majesty," he said, "has learned with much satisfaction the great
number of persons who are becoming converts in your province. He
desires that you continue to give great care to this matter. He thinks
it best that the chief part of the cavalry and officers should be
lodged in the houses of the Protestants. If, after a just
distribution, the Calvinists would have to provide for ten soldiers,
you can make them take twenty."

The governor, Marillac, lodged from four to ten dragoons in the house
of every Protestant. The soldiers were directed not to kill the people
with whom they lodged, but to do every thing in their power to
constrain them to abjure Protestantism. Thus originated that system of
_dragonnades_ which has left an indelible stain upon the character of
Louis XIV., and the recital of which has inspired every reader with

"The cavalry attached crosses to the muzzles of their muskets to force
the Protestants to kiss them. When any one resisted, they thrust
these crosses against the face and breasts of the unfortunate people.
They spared children no more than persons advanced in years. Without
compassion for their age, they fell upon them with blows, and beat
them with the flat side of their swords and the butt of their muskets.
They did this so cruelly that some were crippled for life."[T]

[Footnote T: Histoire de l'Edit de Nantes, t. iv., p. 479.]

It does not reflect credit upon Madame de Maintenon that she was eager
to enrich her friends from the spoils of these persecuted Christians.
Her brother was to receive a present of one hundred and eight thousand
francs ($21,600). This sum was then three or four times as much as the
same amount of money now.

A law was now passed prohibiting the Protestants from leaving the
kingdom, and condemning to perpetual imprisonment in the galleys all
who should attempt to escape. France was ransacked to find every book
written in support of Protestantism, that it might be burned. A
representation having been made to the king of the sufferings of more
than two millions of Protestant Frenchmen, he sternly replied,

"To bring back all my subjects to Catholic unity, I would readily,
with one hand, cut off the other."

In some places the Protestants were goaded to an appeal to arms. With
the most merciless butchery they were cut down, their houses razed,
while some were put to death by lingering torture. In September, 1685,
Louvois wrote,

"Sixty thousand conversions have taken place in the district of
Bordeaux, and twenty thousand in that of Montauban. The rapidity with
which they go on is such that, before the end of the month, there will
not remain ten thousand Protestants in all the district of Bordeaux,
where there were one hundred and fifty thousand the 15th of last

The Duke of Noailles wrote to Louvois, "The number of Protestants in
the district of Nismes is about one hundred and forty thousand. I
believe that at the end of the month there will be none left."

On the 18th of October, 1685, the king, acceding to the wishes of his
confessor and other high dignitaries of the Church, signed the
_Revocation of the Edict of Nantes_.

In the preamble to this fatal act, it was stated,

"We see now, with the just acknowledgment we owe to God, that our
measures have secured the end which we ourselves proposed, since the
better and greater part of our subjects of the pretended Reformed
religion have embraced the Catholic faith, and the maintenance of the
Edict of Nantes remains therefore superfluous."

In this act of revocation it was declared that the exercise of the
Protestant worship should nowhere be tolerated in the realm of France.
All Protestant pastors were ordered to leave the kingdom within
fifteen days, under pain of being sent to the galleys. Those
Protestant ministers who would abjure their faith and return to
Catholicism were promised a salary one third more than they had
previously enjoyed. Parents were forbidden to instruct their children
in the Protestant religion. Every child in the kingdom was to be
baptized and educated by a Catholic priest. All Protestants who had
left France were ordered to return within four months, under penalty
of the confiscation of their possessions. Any Protestant layman, man
or woman, who should attempt to emigrate, incurred the penalty of
imprisonment for life.

This infamous ordinance caused an amount of misery which can never be
gauged, and inflicted upon the prosperity of France the most terrible
blow it had ever received. Hundreds of thousands persevered in their
faith, notwithstanding all the menaces of poverty, of the dungeon, and
of utter temporal ruin. Only one year after the revocation, Marshal
Vauban wrote,

"France has lost one hundred thousand inhabitants, sixty millions of
coined money, nine thousand sailors, twelve thousand disciplined
soldiers, six hundred officers, and her most nourishing manufactures."

From this hour the fortunes of Louis XIV. began manifestly to decline.
The Protestant population of France at that time was between two and
three millions. The edict of revocation was enforced with the utmost
severity. Many noble-hearted Catholics sympathized with the
Protestants in their dreadful sufferings, and aided them to escape.
The tide of emigration flowed steadily from all the provinces. The
arrival of the pastors and their flocks upon foreign soil created an
indescribable sensation. From all the courts in Protestant Christendom
a cry of indignation rose against such cruelty. Though royal guards
were posted at the gates of the towns, on the bridges, at the fords
of the rivers, and upon all the by-ways which led to the frontiers,
and though many thousands were arrested, still many thousands escaped.
Some heroic bands fought their way to the frontiers with drawn swords.
Some obtained passports from kind-hearted Catholic governors. Some
bribed their guards. Some traveled by night, from cavern to cavern, in
the garb of merchants, pilgrims, venders of rosaries and chaplets,
servants, mendicants.

Thousands perished of cold, hunger, and exhaustion. Thousands were
shot by the soldiers. Thousands were seized and condemned to the
dungeon or the galleys. The galleys of Marseilles were crowded with
these victims of fanatical despotism. Among them were many of the most
illustrious men in France, magistrates, nobles, scholars of the
highest name and note.

The agitation and emigration were so immense that Louis XIV. became
alarmed. Protestant England, Switzerland, Holland, Prussia, Denmark,
Sweden, hospitably received the sufferers and contributed generously
to the supply of their wants. "Charity," it is said, "draws from an
exhaustless fountain. The more it gives the more it has to give."

It is now not possible to estimate the precise number who emigrated.
Voltaire says that nearly fifty thousand families left the kingdom,
and that they were followed by a great many others. One of the
Protestant pastors, Antoine Court, placed the number as high as eight
hundred thousand. A Catholic writer, inimical to the Protestants,
after carefully consulting the records, states the emigration at two
hundred and thirty thousand souls. Of these, 1580 were pastors, 2300
elders, and 15,000 nobles. It is also equally difficult to estimate
the numbers who perished in the attempt to escape. M. de Sismondi
thinks that as many died as emigrated. He places the number at between
three and four hundred thousand.

As we have mentioned, the Protestants were compelled to place their
children in Catholic schools, to be taught the Catechism by the
priests. A new ordinance was soon issued, which required that the
children, between five and sixteen, of all _suspected_ of
Protestantism, should be taken from their parents and placed in
Catholic families. A general search was made throughout the kingdom
for all books which could be deemed favorable to the Protestant
faith. These were destroyed to the last copy. Thus perished many very
valuable works. "The Bible itself, the Bible above all, was
confiscated and burned with persevering animosity."[U]

[Footnote U: History of the Protestants of France, by Prof. G. De

But there is no power of persecution which can utterly crush out two
or three millions of people. There were occasional reactions. Louis
XIV. himself became, at times, appalled by the atrocities his dragoons
were perpetrating, and he commanded more moderation. In some of the
provinces where the Protestants had been greatly in the majority, the
king found it very difficult to enforce his despotic and sanguinary
code. The persecuted people who could not fly from the kingdom, some
having given a compulsory and nominal assent to Catholicism, held
secret assemblies in forests, on mountain summits, and in wild
ravines. Some of the pastors ventured to return to France, and to
assist in these scenes of perilous worship.

"On hearing this, the king, his ministers, and the Jesuits were
transported with uncontrollable rage. Sentence of death was
pronounced in the month of July, 1686, against the pastors who had
returned to France. Those who lent them an asylum, or any assistance
whatever, were condemned to the galleys for life. A reward of five
thousand five hundred livres was promised to any one who seized or
secured the seizure of a minister. The sentence of death was
pronounced against all who should be taken in any of these religious

[Footnote V: M. G. De Félice.]

Soldiers were sent in all directions to hunt the Protestants. "It
was," writes Voltaire, "a chase in a grand cover." If the voice of
prayer or of a psalm were heard in any wild retreat, the soldiers
opened fire upon the assembly of men, women, and children, and hewed
them down without mercy with their blood-stained swords. In several of
these encounters, three or four hundred men, women, and young children
were left dead and unburied upon the spot.

If any sick persons, apparently near death, refused to receive the
sacraments of the Catholic Church from the hands of a Catholic priest,
should they recover, they were punished with confiscation of property
and consignment to the galleys for life. If they did not recover,
their bodies were refused respectful burial, and were dragged on a
hurdle and thrown into a ditch, to be devoured by carrion crows.

Many honorable Catholics cried out with horror against these
enormities. All humane hearts revolted against such cruelty. The voice
of indignant remonstrance rose from every Protestant nation. The
French court became embarrassed. Two millions of people could not be
put to death. The prisons were filled to suffocation. The galleys were
crowded, and could receive no more. Many were transported to America.

The Jansenists remonstrated. The good Catholic bishops of Grenoble and
St. Poins boldly addressed the curates of their dioceses, directing
them not to force communion upon the Protestants, and forbidding all
violence. Many pious curates refused to act the part of accusers, or
to torment the dying with their importunities. But the Jesuits and the
great mass of the clergy urged on the persecution.

Madame de Maintenon became greatly troubled by these atrocities,
against which she did not dare to remonstrate. Louis XIV. was somewhat
alarmed by the outcry which these measures aroused from Protestant
Europe, but his pride revolted against making the admission, before
his subjects and foreign courts, that he could have been guilty of a
mistake. He could not endure the thought of humbling himself by a
retraction, thus confessing that he had failed in an enterprise upon
which he had entered with such determination. Thus influenced, the
king, on the 13th of April, 1662, issued a decree solemnly confirming
the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. "Not one law of torture and
blood was abolished."

The king, meanwhile, urged by his growing passion for Madame de
Maintenon, determined to remove from court Madame de Montespan, whom
he had come to thoroughly dislike. But he had not the courage to
announce his determination in person. He therefore commissioned Madame
de Maintenon to make the painful communication. She, shrinking from so
unwelcome a task, persuaded the Marquis de Vivonne, brother of the
marchioness, to break the tidings to his sister. He invited her to
take a ride with him in his carriage, gradually introduced the
subject, and at last plainly informed her that she must either, of her
own accord, immediately and forever retire from Versailles, or submit
to the indignity of being arrested by the police and removed by them.

Madame de Montespan was in a fearful rage. Though fully aware of her
waning power over the king, the menace of arrest and banishment was an
indignity the thought of which had never entered her mind. But the
calm firmness of her brother soon convinced her of the impotence of
all exhibitions of indignation. The splendor-loving marchioness was,
as we have mentioned already, wealthy. She was, however, informed that
the king had decided to settle upon her an annual pension of six
hundred thousand livres. When we consider the comparative value of
money then and now, it is estimated that this amount was equivalent to
about four hundred and eighty thousand dollars at the present day.

"Madame de Montespan," writes Miss Pardoe, "buried her face in her
hands, and remained for a considerable time lost in thought. When, at
length, she looked up, her lips were pale and her voice trembled. She
had not shed a tear, but her breast heaved, and she had evidently come
to a decision. Folding her shawl about her, she requested the marquis
immediately to drive her to Versailles, it being necessary, as she
asserted, that she should collect her money, her jewels, and her
papers, after which she declared that she was ready, for the sake of
her family, to follow his advice."


They returned to the palace. Madame de Maintenon hastened to her
apartments. The Marquis de Vivonne informed her of the success of his
mission, and she communicated the intelligence to the king.

The marchioness had been in her apartments but about twenty minutes,
when, to her surprise, the door opened, and the king entered
unannounced. The marchioness, with her own graphic pen, has given an
account of the singular and characteristic interview which ensued.

The king came forward smiling very complacently at the thought that
with so little embarrassment he was to get rid of a companion whose
presence had become an annoyance to him--that he could discard her as
easily as he could lay aside a pair of soiled gloves. He congratulated
the marchioness upon the great good sense she had shown in thus
readily sundering ties which, after existing for eighteen years, had
become embarrassing. He spoke of their children as his property, and
assured her that he should do all in his power to promote their
welfare; that he had already, by act of Parliament, conferred upon
them statute legitimacy, and had thus effaced the dishonor of their
birth. He apologized for not having her name mentioned in Parliament
as their mother, this being impracticable, since she was the wife of
another man.

With smiling complacency, as if he were communicating very gratifying
intelligence, he informed this crushed and discarded mother that,
since her children were now princes, they would, of course, reside at
court, and that she, their dishonored mother, might occasionally be
permitted to visit them--that he would issue an order to that effect.
And, finally, he coolly advised her to write to her husband, whom she
had abandoned eighteen years ago, soliciting a renewal of their
relationship, with the assurance that it was her intention to return
to the paths of virtue.

Almost gasping with indignation, the haughty marchioness succeeded in
restraining herself until the king had finished his harangue. She then
burst forth in a reply which astonished and even alarmed the king.

"I am amazed," said she, "at the indifference with which a monarch,
who boasts of his magnanimity, can throw from him a woman who has
sacrificed every thing to his pleasure. For two years your majesty, in
devotion to others, has been estranged from me, and yet never have I
publicly offered one word of expostulation. Why is it, then, that I am
now, after silently submitting for two years to this estrangement, to
be ignominiously banished from the court? Still, my position here has
become so hateful, through the perfidy and treachery of those by whom
I am compelled to associate, that I will willingly consent never again
to approach the person of the king upon condition that the odious
woman who has supplanted me[W] shall also be exiled."

[Footnote W: Madame de Maintenon.]

The proud monarch was enraged. Pale with anger, he replied, "The kings
of Europe have never yet ventured to dictate laws in my palace, nor
shall you, madame, subject me to yours. The lady whom I have too long
suffered you to offend is as nobly born as yourself. If you were
instrumental in opening the gates of the palace to her, you thus
introduced there gentleness, talent, and virtue. This lady, whom you
have upon every occasion slandered, has lost no opportunity to excuse
and justify you. She will remain near the court which her fathers
defended, and which her wise councils now strengthen. In seeking to
remove you from the court, where your presence and pretensions have
long since been misplaced, I wished to spare you the evidence of an
_event_ calculated to irritate your already exasperated nature. But
stay you here, madame," he added, sarcastically, "stay you here, since
you love great catastrophes and are amused by them. Day after
to-morrow you will be more than ever a _supernumerary_ in the palace."

This heartless announcement, that Madame de Maintenon was to take the
place of Madame de Montespan in the affections of the king, and
probably as his wedded wife, pierced, as with a dagger's point, the
heart of the discarded favorite. She fell senseless to the floor. The
king, without the slightest exhibition of sympathy, looked on
impatiently, while her women, who were immediately summoned,
endeavored to restore consciousness. As the unhappy marchioness
revived, the first words which fell upon her ears were from the king,
as he said,

"All this wearies me beyond endurance. She must leave the palace this
very day."

In a frenzy of rage and despair, the marchioness seized a
dessert-knife which chanced to lay upon the table, and, springing from
the arms of her attendants, rushed upon her youngest child, the little
Count de Toulouse, whom the king held by the hand, and from whom she
was to be cruelly severed, and endeavored to plunge the knife into his
bosom, exclaiming,

"Yes, I will leave this palace, but first--"

At that moment, before the sentence was finished, the door opened, and
Madame de Maintenon, who had probably anticipated some tragic scene,
sprang upon the wretched woman, seizing the knife with one hand, and
with the other thrusting the child away. The maniacal marchioness was
seized by her attendants. The king tottered to the chimney-piece,
buried his face in his hands, and, from a complicity of emotions not
easily disentangled, wept convulsively.

Madame de Maintenon's hand was cut by the knife. As she was binding up
the bleeding wound with her handkerchief, the half-delirious
marchioness said to her, referring to the fact that the king had at
first been unwilling to receive her as the guardian of the children,

"Ah! madame, had I believed what the king told me fourteen years ago,
my life would not have been in your power to-day."

Madame de Maintenon, her eyes suffused with tears, looked sadly upon
her, then taking her hand, pressed it feelingly, and, without uttering
a word, left the apartment. The king followed her. The heart-broken
marchioness, in most imploring tones, entreated the king not thus to
leave her. He paid no heed to her supplications. The agitation of this
scene threw Madame de Montespan into such a burning fever that for
several days she could not be removed from her bed of pain and woe.




Temptation resisted.--Rumors of marriage.--Preparations for
the marriage.--The archbishop summoned.--An extraordinary
scene.--Ceremonies.--The _Widow Scarron_.--Etiquette.--Humiliation
of Madame de Montespan.--Routine of a day at Versailles.--The _First
Entrée_.--The ceremony of dressing.--The _Grand Entrée_.--Dressing
the king.--The royal breakfast.--Formalities.--The dressing
completed.--The king prays.--The king attends mass.--Etiquette at
the royal dinner.--Visits the kennel.--The morning drive.--The royal
supper.--Tasting and trying.--"Drink for the king!"--He feeds his
dogs at midnight.--Madame de Maintenon's apartments.--Her
tact.--Sickness of the king.--A surgical operation
necessary.--World-weariness of the king.--Dissatisfied with
Versailles.--The royal palaces unsatisfactory.--The "hermitage"
at Marly.--War with Germany.--The dauphin in command.--Devastation
of the Palatinate.--Designs upon England.--Civil war in
France.--Complications of the royal family.

The king exerted all his powers of persuasion to induce Madame de
Maintenon to enter into the same relations with him which Madame de
Montespan had occupied. At last she declared, in reply to some
passionate reproaches on his part, that she should be under the
necessity of withdrawing from the court and retiring to the cloister,
rather than continue to expose herself to a temptation which was
destroying her peace of mind and undermining her health. Under these
circumstances the king had been led to think of a private marriage. At
first his pride revolted from the thought. But in no other way could
he secure Madame de Maintenon.

Rumors of the approaching marriage were circulated through the court.
The dauphin expostulated with his father most earnestly against it,
and succeeded in inducing the king to consult the Abbé Fenelon and
Louvois. They both protested against the measure as compromising the
dignity of the monarch and the interests of the nation. Bossuet,
however, urged the marriage. Boldly he warned the king against
entering again into such connections as those which had hitherto
sullied his life, wounded his reputation, and endangered his eternal

Pure as Madame de Maintenon was, the devotion of the king to her was
so marked that her reputation began to suffer. She felt the unjust
imputations cast upon her very keenly. The king at last resolved that
it should be so no longer. Having come to a decision, he acted very
promptly. It was a cold night in January, 1686. A smothering
snow-storm swept the streets of Paris. At half past ten o'clock a
court messenger entered the archiepiscopal palace with a sealed
packet, requesting the archbishop to repair immediately to Versailles
to perform the marriage ceremony. The great clock of the Cathedral was
tolling the hour of eleven as the prelate entered his carriage in the
darkness and the storm. At half past twelve he reached the gate of the
chateau. Here Bontems, the first valet de chambre of the king,
conducted the archbishop to the private closet of his majesty. Madame
de Maintenon was there in full dress. Louis XIV. stood by her side.
In the same apartment were the Marquis de Montechevreuil and the
king's confessor, Père la Chaise.

Miss Pardoe thus describes the scene that ensued:

"As the eye of the king rested upon the archbishop, he exclaimed, 'Let
us go.' Taking the hand of the lady, he led her forward through the
long suite of rooms, followed by the other actors in this
extraordinary scene, who moved on in profound silence, thrown for an
instant into broad light by the torch carried by Bontems, and then
suddenly lost in the deep darkness beyond its influence. Nothing was
to be heard as the bridal party proceeded save the muffled sound of
their footsteps, deadened by the costly carpets over which they trod.
But it was remarked that as the light flashed for an instant across
the portraits of his family which clothed the walls, Louis XIV.
glanced eagerly and somewhat nervously upon them, as though he dreaded
the rebuke of some stern eye or haughty lip for the weakness of which
he was about to become guilty."

The marriage ceremony was performed by the Archbishop of Paris. There
were eight persons present as witnesses, most of them of high
distinction. The king was in the forty-eighth year of his age, and
Madame de Maintenon in her fifty-second. The marriage was celebrated
with all the established ceremonies of the Church, the solemnization
of the mass, the exchange of marriage rings, and the pronouncing of
the benediction by the archbishop. A magnificent suite of apartments
was prepared for Madame de Maintenon at Versailles. She retained her
own liveries, but thenceforward appeared in public only in the
carriage of the king. Though by her own private attendants she was
addressed as "your majesty," she was never publicly recognized as the
queen. The king addressed her simply as _Madame_.

Though the morning after the nuptials the astounding rumor spread
through the court that the king had actually married the _Widow
Scarron_, still there were no positive vouchers found for the fact. As
she was never recognized as the queen, for a long time many doubts
rested upon the reality of the marriage.

It was a matter of necessity that Madame de Montespan should call upon
Madame de Maintenon, and pay her respects to her as the real though
unrecognized wife of the monarch. Dressed in her richest robes, and
glittering with jewels, the discarded favorite entered the apartment
of her hated rival. The king was seated by her side. His majesty rose,
bowed formally, and took his seat. Madame de Maintenon did not rise,
but, with a slight flush upon her cheek, motioned to Madame de
Montespan to take a seat upon a _tabouret_ which stood near by. The
king scarcely noticed her. Madame de Maintenon addressed her in a few
words of condescension. The unhappy visitor, after a short struggle to
regain her composure, rose from the humble stool upon which she had
been seated, and, repeating the stately reverences which etiquette
required, withdrew from the room.

With crushed heart she retired to her apartment, and, weeping
bitterly, threw herself upon a sofa. She soon sent for her son, the
Duke du Maine, hoping to hear, from his lips at least, words of
sympathy. But the duke, who had reproached his mother with his
dishonorable birth, and who, by a royal decree, had been recognized as
a prince, was not at all disposed to cultivate intimate relations with
that mother, now that the memory of disgrace only would be perpetuated
by that recognition. Without the exhibition of the slightest emotion,
the duke addressed his mother in a few cold, formal words, and left
her. The marchioness summoned her carriage, and left Versailles and
the court forever. As she cast a last look upon the palace, she saw
the king standing at the balcony of a window watching her departure.

The reader will be interested in learning the routine of a day as
passed by this most sumptuous of earthly kings amidst the splendors of
Versailles. At eight o'clock in the morning the under valets carefully
entered the bedchamber, opened the shutters, replenished the wood
fire, if cold, and removed the ample refreshments which were always
placed by the royal bedside in case the king should need food during
the night.

The first valet then entered, carefully dressed, and took his stand
respectfully by the side of the bed-curtains. At half past eight
precisely he drew the curtains and awoke the king, assuming always
that he was asleep. The valet then immediately retired to an adjoining
room, where several distinguished members of the court were in
waiting, and communicated to them the important intelligence that the
king no longer slept.

The folding doors were thrown open, and the dauphin, attended by his
two sons, the eldest of whom was entitled _Monsieur_, and the youngest
the Duke of Chartres, entered, and inquired of the king how he had
passed the night. They were immediately followed by the Duke du Maine
and the Count de Toulouse, sons of Madame de Montespan, and by the
first lord of the bedchamber and the grand master of the robes. They
were succeeded by the first valet of the wardrobe, and by several
officers, each bearing a portion of the royal vestments. The two
medical attendants of the king, the physician and surgeon, also
entered at the same time.

The king, still remaining pillowed in his gorgeous bed, held out his
hands, and his first valet de chambre poured upon them a few drops of
spirits of wine, holding beneath them a basin of silver. The first
lord of the bedchamber presented a vase of holy water, with which the
king made the sign of the cross upon his brow and breast. His majesty
then repeated a short prayer. A collection of wigs was presented to
him. He selected the one which he wished to wear. As the king rose
from his couch, the first lord of the bedchamber drew upon him his
dressing-gown, which was always a richly embroidered and costly robe.

The king then sat down, and, holding out one sacred foot after the
other, his valet, Bontems, drew on his stockings and his slippers of
embroidered velvet. The monarch condescended to place upon his head,
with his own hand, the wig which he had selected. Again the devout
monarch crossed himself with holy water, and, emerging from the
balustrade which inclosed the bed, seated himself in a large
arm-chair. He was now prepared for what was called _The First Entrée_.

The chief lord of the bedchamber, with a loud voice, announced _The
First Entrée_. A number of courtiers, who were peculiarly favored,
were then admitted to the distinguished honor of seeing his majesty
washed and shaved. The barber of the king removed his beard and gently
washed his face with a sponge saturated with spirits of wine and
water. The king himself wiped his face with a soft towel, while
Bontems held the glass before him.

And now the master of the robes approached to dress the king. Those
who had been present at what was called the _petit lever_ retired. A
new set of dignitaries, of higher name and note, crowded the anteroom
to enjoy the signal honor of being present at the _Grand Entrée_, that
is, of witnessing the sublime ceremony of seeing shirt, trowsers, and
frock placed upon his sacred majesty.

Three of the highest officers of the court stood at the door, attended
by several valets and door-keepers of the cabinet. Admission to the
_Grand Entrée_ was considered so great an honor that even princes
sought it, and often in vain.

As each individual presented himself, his name was whispered to the
first lord of the bedchamber, who repeated it to the king. When the
monarch made no reply the visitor was admitted, and the duke walked
back to his station near the fireplace, where he marshaled the
new-comers to their several places in order to prevent their pressing
too closely about his majesty. Princes and governors, marshals and
peers, were alike subjected to this tedious and somewhat humiliating
ceremony, from which three individuals alone were excepted, Racine,
Boileau, and Mansard. On their arrival at the guarded door they simply
scratched against the panel, when the usher threw open the folding
door, and they stood in the presence of the monarch.

[Illustration: RACINE AND BOILEAU.]

In the mean time, a valet of the wardrobe delivered to a gentleman of
the chamber the socks and garters, which the _gentleman_ presented to
the monarch, and which socks his majesty deigned to draw on himself.
Even with his own hand he clasped the garters with their diamond
buckles. Etiquette did not allow the king to unclasp them at night.
The head valet de chambre enjoyed the privilege of unclasping the
garter of the right leg, while a more humble attendant performed the
same office for the left leg.

A distinguished officer of the household presented the monarch with
his _haut de chausses_ (breeches), to which silk stockings were
attached; the king drew them on; another gentleman put on his shoes;
another gentleman buckled them. Two pages, richly dressed in crimson
velvet embroidered with gold, removed the slippers which the king had
laid aside.

And now came the royal breakfast. Two officers of the household
entered, in picturesque attire, one bearing a loaf of bread on an
enameled salver, and another a folded napkin between two enameled
plates. The royal cup-bearer handed a golden vase, richly decorated,
to one of the lords. He poured into it a small quantity of wine and
water. Another lord tasted of it, to prove that it contained no
poison. The vase was then carefully rinsed, and being again filled
with the wine and water, was presented to the king on a gold salver.

His majesty drank. Then the dauphin, who was always present at these
solemnities, handed his hat and gloves to the first lord in waiting,
and presented the monarch with a napkin with which to wipe his lips.
Breakfast was a very frugal repast. Having partaken of these slight
refreshments, the king laid aside his dressing-gown. One of his lordly
attendants then assisted him in removing his night-shirt by the left
sleeve. It was Bontems's peculiar privilege to draw it off by the
right sleeve.

The royal shirt, which had been carefully warmed, was then given to
the first lord. He presented it to the dauphin, who approached and
presented it to the king. Some one of the higher lords, previously
designated for the honor, assisted the king in the arrangement of his
shirt and breeches. A duke enjoyed the honor of putting on his inner
waistcoat. Two valets presented the king with his sword, vest, and
blue ribbon. A nobleman then stepped forward and buckled on the sword,
assisted in putting on the vest, and placed over his shoulders a
scarf bearing the cross of the Holy Ghost in diamonds, and the cross
of St. Louis.

The king then drew on his under coat, with the assistance of the grand
master of the robes, adjusted his cravat of rich lace, which was
folded round his neck by a favorite courtier, and finally emptied into
the pockets of the loose outer coat, which was presented to him for
that purpose, the contents of those which he had worn the previous
day. He then received two handkerchiefs of costly point from another
attendant, by whom they were carried on an enameled saucer of oval
shape called salve. His toilet once completed, Louis XIV. returned to
the _ruelle_ of his bed, where he knelt down upon two cushions already
prepared for him, and said his prayers; all the bishops and cardinals
entering within the balustrade in his suite, and reciting their
devotional exercises in a suppressed voice.

The king, being thus dressed, retired from his chamber to his cabinet.
He was followed, in solemn procession, by all those dignitaries of
Church and State who had enjoyed the privilege of the _Grand Entrée_.
He then issued the orders of the day, after which all withdrew
excepting some of his children, whom a royal decree had legitimatized
and raised to the rank of princes, with their former tutors or

In the mean time a crowd of courtiers were assembled in the great
gallery of Versailles, to accompany the king to mass. The captain of
the royal guard awaited orders at the door of the cabinet. At 12
o'clock the door was thrown open, and the king, followed by a splendid
retinue, proceeded to the chapel.

The service was short. At one o'clock the king returned to his room,
and dined sumptuously and alone. He was waited upon, at the table, by
the first gentleman of the chamber. Sometimes the dauphin or other
lords of highest rank were present, but they stood respectfully at a
distance. No one was permitted to be seated in the royal presence. The
brother of the king stood at times by the chair of his majesty,
holding his napkin for him. Upon the king's twice requesting him to be
seated, he was permitted to take a seat upon a stool, behind the king,
still holding his napkin.

Upon rising from the table the king repaired to the grand saloon,
where he tarried for a few moments, that persons of high distinction,
who enjoyed the privilege of addressing him, might have an
opportunity to do so. He then returned to his cabinet. The door was
closed, and the king had a brief interview with his children, of whom
he was very fond. He then repaired to the kennel of his dogs, of whom
he was also fond, and amused himself, for a time, in feeding them and
playing with them.

He now made some slight change in his dress. A small number of
persons, of high rank, enjoyed the distinguished honor of being
present in his chamber as the monarch, with all suitable stateliness
of ceremony, exchanged one royal garment for another. The carriage
awaited the king in the marble court. He descended by a private
staircase. His craving for fresh air was such that he took a drive
whatever the weather. Scarcely any degree of heat or cold, or floods
of rain, could prevent him from his drive, or his stag-hunt, or his
overlooking the workmen. Sometimes the ladies of his court rode out
with him on picnic excursions to the forests of Fontainebleau or

Upon returning from the drive, the king again changed his dress and
repaired to his cabinet. He then proceeded to the apartments of Madame
de Maintenon, where he remained conversing with her, or reading, and
sometimes transacting business with his minister, until ten o'clock.
The hour for supper had now arrived. The house-steward, with his badge
of office in hand, gave the information to the captain of the guard.
He, entering the royal presence from the antechamber, announced the
fact to the king, and opened wide the door. After the delay of a
quarter of an hour, which etiquette required, his majesty advanced to
the supper-room. During the quarter of an hour which had elapsed, the
officers of the household had made preparations for the royal repast
by tasting the bread and the salt, and by testing the plates, the
fork, the spoon, the knife, and the tooth-pick of the king, so as to
be assured that no poison could be thus conveyed.

As the king, preceded by the house-steward and two ushers with
flambeaux, entered the supper-room, he found there awaiting him the
princes and princesses of France, with a numerous assemblage of
courtiers, gentlemen, and ladies. The king, having taken his seat,
requested the others to be seated also. Six noblemen immediately
stationed themselves at each end of the table, to wait upon the king.
Each one, as he presented a dish to the king, first tasted of it
himself. When the king wished for a drink, his cup-bearer exclaimed
aloud, "Drink for the king." Two of the principal officers, making a
profound obeisance, approached his majesty, one bearing an enameled
cup and two decanters upon a salver. The other poured out the wine,
tasted it, and presented the goblet to the king. With another low
salutation, the two officers replaced the decanters upon the

The repast being finished, the king rose, and, preceded by two guards
and an usher, and followed by all the company, proceeded to the
bedchamber. He there bowed adieu to the company, and, entering the
cabinet, took a seat in a large arm-chair. The members of the royal
family were introduced. His brother, Monsieur, was permitted to take
an arm-chair. All the rest remained standing except the princesses,
who were indulged with stools. After an hour or so of such converse as
these stately forms would admit, the king, about midnight, went again
to feed his dogs. He then retired to his chamber, with great pomp said
his prayers, and was undressed and put to bed with ceremonies similar
to those with which he had been dressed in the morning.

Such was the ordinary routine of the life of the king at Versailles.
Its dreary monotony was broken by occasional fêtes, balls, and
theatric shows. Madame de Maintenon testifies to the almost
insupportable tedium of such a life. "If you could only," she
exclaims, "form an idea of what it is!"

Magnificent apartments were prepared for Madame de Maintenon at
Versailles, opposite the suite of rooms occupied by the king. Similar
arrangements were made for her in all the royal palaces. Royalty alone
could occupy arm-chairs in the presence of the sovereign. In each of
her apartments there were two such, one for the king and the other for
herself. The king often transacted business with his minister,
Louvois, in her room. She had sufficient tact never to express an
opinion, or to take a part in the conversation except when appealed

Madame de Maintenon was exceedingly anxious that the king should
publicly recognize her as his wife. It is said that the king,
tormented by the embarrassments which the secret marriage had brought
upon him, seriously contemplated this. His minister, Louvois,
remonstrated even passionately against such a recognition. At the
close of a painful interview upon this subject, he threw himself upon
his knees before his majesty, and, presenting to him the hilt of a
small sword which the minister usually wore, exclaimed,

"Take my life, sire, that I may not become the witness of a disgrace
which will dishonor your majesty in the eyes of all Europe."

Others of the most influential members of the court joined in the
opposition, and so strenuously that the king commanded Madame de
Maintenon never again to allude to the subject.

Premature old age was fast advancing upon the king, though he had as
yet attained only his forty-ninth year. He was tortured by the gout.
He was also attacked by a very painful and dangerous internal malady.
His sufferings were dreadful. It became necessary for him to submit to
a perilous surgical operation. The king met the crisis with much
heroism. Four persons only, including Madame de Maintenon, were
present during the operation. Indeed, the greatest precautions had
been adopted to keep the fact that an operation was to be performed a
profound secret. During the operation the king uttered not a groan. It
was successful. In gratitude he conferred upon the skillful operator
who had relieved him from anguish and saved his life an estate valued
at more than fifty thousand crowns.

Weary of every thing else, the king now sought to find some little
interest in building. The renowned architect, Mansard, whose genius
still embellishes our most beautiful edifices, was commissioned to
erect a pavilion on the grounds of Versailles in imitation of an
Italian villa. Thus rose, within a year, the _Grand Trianon_, which
subsequently became so celebrated as the favorite rural residence of
Maria Antoinette.

[Illustration: THE TRIANON.]

[Illustration: MARLY.]

Most men who, with vast wealth, attempt to build a mansion which shall
eclipse that of all their neighbors, and which shall be perfect in all
the appliances of comfort and luxury, find themselves, in the end,
bitterly disappointed. This was pre-eminently the case with Louis XIV.
The palace of Versailles, still unfinished, had already cost him
countless millions. But it did not please the king. It had cold and
cheerless grandeur, but no attractions as a home. The king looked with
weary eyes upon the mountain pile of marble which had risen at his
bidding, and found it about as uncongenial for a home as would be
the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Disgusted with the etiquette which
enslaved him, satiated with sensual indulgence, and having exhausted
all the fountains of worldly pleasure, with waning powers of body and
of mind, it is not possible that any thing could have satisfied the
world-weary king.

He had other palaces. None suited him. The Tuileries and the Louvre
were in the heart of the noisy city. The banqueting hall at St.
Germain overlooked the sepulchre of St. Denis, where the grave-worm
held its banquet. Fontainebleau was at too great a distance from the
capital. To reach it required a carriage drive of four or five hours.
Vincennes, notwithstanding the grandeur of the antique, time-worn
castle, was gloomy in its surroundings, inconvenient in its internal
arrangements--a prison rather than a palace.

About nine miles from Paris, upon the left bank of the Seine, there
reposed the silent village of Marly. The king selected that as the
spot upon which he would rear a snug "hermitage" to which he could
retire "from noise and tumult far." The passion for building is a
fearful passion, which often involves its victim in ruin. The plans of
the king expanded under his eye. The little hermitage became a
spacious palace, where a court could be entertained with all the
appliances of regal elegance.

But dark and stormy days were rapidly gathering around the path of the
king. He became involved in war with Germany. The complicated reasons
can scarcely be unraveled. The king sent his son, the dauphin, at the
head of one hundred thousand men, to invade Holland. Situated upon
both sides of the Rhine there was a territory called the Palatinate.
It embraced one thousand five hundred and ninety square miles, being
not quite so large as the State of Delaware. It contained an
intelligent, industrious, and prosperous population of a little over
three hundred thousand. The beautiful city of Manheim was the capital
of the province.

Though the dauphin was nominally at the head of the invading army,
that the glory of its victories might redound to his name, the ablest
of the French generals were associated with him, and they, in reality,
took the direction of affairs. One city after another speedily fell
into the hands of the French. The king mercilessly resolved, and
without any justification whatever, to convert the whole province into
a desert. An order was issued by the king that every city, village,
castle, and hut should be laid in ashes.

It was midwinter--the month of February, 1689. There were many
beautiful cities in the province, such as Manheim, Philipsbourg,
Franckendal, Spire, Treves, Worms, and Oppendeim. There were more than
fifty feudal castles in the territory, the ancestral homes of noble
families. The citizens had but short warning. Houses, furniture, food,
all were consumed. The flames rose to heaven, calling upon God for
vengeance. Smouldering ruins every where met the eye. Men, women, and
children wandered starving through the fields.

Nearly all Europe soon became banded against this haughty monarch, and
he found it necessary to raise an army of four hundred thousand men to
meet the exigencies.

Intoxicated by the pride of past success, he thought that he should be
able to force upon England a Roman Catholic king, and the Roman
Catholic faith, and thus expel _heresy_ from England, as he dreamed
that he had expelled it from France. He equipped a fleet, and manned
it with twenty thousand soldiers, to force upon the British people
King James II., whom they had indignantly discarded.

Civil war was now also desolating unhappy France. The Protestants,
bereft of their children, robbed of their property, driven from their
homes, dragged to the galleys, plunged into dungeons, broken upon the
wheel, hanged upon scaffolds, rose in several places in the most
desperate insurrectionary bands. And the man who was thus crushing
beneath the heel of his armies the quivering hearts of the Palatinate,
and who was drenching his own realms with tears and blood, was clothed
in purple, and faring sumptuously, and reclining upon the silken sofas
of Marly and Versailles. It is not strange that Faith, with uplifted
hands and gushing eyes, should have exclaimed, "O Lord, how long!"

The singular complication of the royal family, with the various
mothers and the various children, some of which children were
recognized by royal decree as princes, and some of whom were not,
filled the palaces with bickerings, envyings, and discontent in every
form. The unhappy dauphiness, who had long been immersed in the
profoundest gloom, at last found a welcome retreat in the grave.
Neither her husband nor the king shed a single tear over her remains,
which were hurried to the vaults of St. Denis.




Exhaustion of the treasury.--The royal plate sacrificed.--Assumptions
of Louvois.--Disgrace, sickness, and death of Louvois.--Louis
suspicious of Madame de Maintenon.--Letters.--Court life.--The
dauphin.--His sons.--Graces of the Duchess of Burgoyne.--Misery of
the people.--Extravagance of the court.--Brilliant assembly.--Death
of Charles II.--The Duke of Anjou proclaimed King of Spain.--Anecdote
of the princes.--Preparations for the coronation.--Exultation of Louis
XIV.--Final meeting of the royal family.--Last interview between
Madame de Montespan and the king.--Penance of Madame de
Montespan.--Her death.--Heartless conduct of the king.--His health
failing.--Quarrel with Philip.--He is stricken with apoplexy.--Death
of the king's brother.--The king dispels his gloom.--The Princess des
Ursins.--Civil war.--Insurrection of the Protestants.--Enthusiasm of
the Camisards.--Cruelty of the persecutors.--Distress in France.--The
dauphin taken sick.--Death and burial of the dauphin.

The treasury of the king was empty. Extravagant building, a voluptuous
court, and all the enormous expenses of civil and foreign wars, had
quite exhausted the finances of the realm. It became necessary to call
upon the cities for contributions. New offices were invented, which
were imposed upon the wealthy citizens, and for which they were
compelled to pay large sums. Even the massive silver plate and
furniture, which had attracted the admiration of all visitors to
Versailles, were sent to the Mint and coined. Most of the value of
these articles of ornament consisted of the skill with which the
materials had been wrought into forms of beauty. In melting them down,
all this was sacrificed, and nothing remained but the mere value of
the metal. Large as were the sums attained by these means, they were
but trifling compared with the necessities of the state.

Louvois, the minister of Louis, had for a long time held the reins of
government. It was through his influence that the king had been
instigated to revoke the Edict of Nantes, to order the dragonnades,
and to authorize those atrocities of persecution which must ever
expose the name of Louis XIV. to the execrations of humanity. It was
Louvois who, from merely contemptible caprice, plunged France into war
with Germany. It was through his persuasions that the king was induced
to order the utter devastation of the Palatinate.

But the influence of Louvois was now on the wane. The jealous king
became weary of his increasingly haughty assumptions. The
conflagration of the Palatinate raised a cry of indignation which the
king could not but hear. The city of Treves had escaped the flames.
Louvois solicited an order to burn it. The king refused to give his
consent. Louvois insolently gave the order himself. He then informed
the king that he had done so that he might spare the conscience of the
king the pain of issuing such an edict.


Louis was furious. In his rage he forgot all the restraints of
etiquette. He seized from the fireplace the tongs, and would have
broken the head of the minister had not Madame de Maintenon rushed
between them. The king ordered a messenger immediately to be
dispatched to countermand the order. He declared that if a single
house were burned, the head of the minister should be the forfeit.
The city was saved.

In 1691 the French army was besieging Mons. The king visited the
works. The haughty minister, unintimidated even by the menace of the
tongs, ventured to countermand an order which the king had issued. The
lowering brow of the monarch convinced him that his ministerial reign
was soon to close.

The health of the minister began rapidly to fail. He became emaciate,
languid, and deeply depressed. A few subsequent interviews with the
king satisfied him that his disgrace and ruin were decided upon.
Indeed, the king had already drawn up the _lettre de cachet_ which was
to consign him to the Bastile. About the middle of June, 1691, Louvois
met the king in his council chamber, and, though the monarch was
unusually complaisant, Louvois so thoroughly understood him that he
retired to his residence in utter despair. Scarcely had he entered his
apartment ere he dropped dead upon the floor. Whether his death were
caused by apoplexy, or by poison administered by his own hand or that
of others, can never be known. The king forbade all investigation of
the case.

Immediately after the death of Louvois, the king began to devote
himself to business with an energy which he had never before
manifested. Madame de Maintenon made some farther efforts to induce
him to proclaim their marriage, but she soon perceived that nothing
would induce him to change his resolution, and she accepted the
situation. Louis now yielded more than ever to her influence; but he
was always apprehensive that she might be engaged in some secret
intrigue, and kept a vigilant watch over her. In letters to a friend,
she gives some account of her splendid misery.

"The king is perpetually on guard over me. I see no one. He never
leaves my room. I am compelled to rise at five in the morning in order
to write to you. I experience more than ever that there is no
compensation for the loss of liberty."

Again she writes, in reference to the weary routine of court life:
"The princesses who have not attended the hunt will come in, followed
by their cabal, and wait the return of the king in my apartment in
order to go to dinner. The hunters will come in a crowd, and will
relate the whole history of their day's sport, without sparing us a
single detail. They will then go to dinner. Madame de Dangeau will
challenge me, with a yawn, to a game of backgammon. Such is the way in
which people live at court."

It will be remembered that the king and queen had an only son, the
dauphin. He was a man of ignoble character and of feeble mind. Still,
as heir to the throne, he was, next to the king, the most important
personage in the realm. The dauphin had three sons, who were in the
direct line of succession to the crown. These were Louis, duke of
Burgoyne, Philip, duke of Anjou, and Charles, duke of Berri.

The eldest, the Duke of Burgoyne, who, of course, next to the dauphin,
was heir to the throne, was thirteen years of age. The king selected
for his wife Adelaide, the daughter of the Duke of Savoy, a remarkably
graceful, beautiful, and intelligent child of eleven years. The pretty
little girl was brought to France to spend a few months in the court
previous to her marriage, which was to take place as soon as she
should attain her twelfth year. She came in great splendor, with her
retinue, her court, and her ladies of honor. Both the king and Madame
de Maintenon were charmed with the princess. Sumptuous apartments were
assigned her in the palace of Versailles. Madame de Maintenon wrote to
the Duchess of Savoy,

"The king is enchanted with her. He expatiates on her deportment, her
grace, her courtesy, her reserve, and her modesty. She has all the
graces of girlhood, with the perfections of a more mature age. Her
temper appears as perfect as her figure promises one day to become.
She only requires to speak to display the extent of her intellect. I
can not resist thanking your royal highness for giving us a child who,
according to all appearance, will be the delight of the court, and the
glory of the century."

The king resolved that the festivities at the marriage of these two
children should be the most splendid which France had ever witnessed.
He announced the intention of appearing himself, upon the occasion, in
the most sumptuous apparel which the taste and art of the times could
furnish. This intimation was sufficient for the courtiers.
Preparations were made for such a display of folly and extravagance
as even alarmed the king. All ordinary richness of dress, of satin,
and velvet, and embroidery of gold, was discarded for fabrics of
unprecedented costliness, for bouquets of diamonds, and wreaths of the
most precious gems.

"I can not understand," exclaimed the king, "how husbands are mad
enough to suffer themselves to be ruined by the folly of their wives."

The marriage took place between the bride of twelve years and the
bridegroom of fourteen at six o'clock in the evening of the 7th of
December, 1697. The ceremony was performed in the chapel of the palace
at Versailles. The ensuing festivals exceeded in magnificence all that
Versailles had previously witnessed. But there was no rejoicing among
the people. They listened, some silently, some sullenly, some
murmuringly, to the chiming bells and the booming cannon. The elements
of discontent and wrath were slowly beginning to collect for bursting
forth one hundred years later, in that most sublime of moral tempests,
the French Revolution.

The grand avenue to Versailles day after day was crowded with gorgeous
equipages. At night it blazed with illuminations. The highest
ingenuity was taxed to devise new scenes of splendor and amusement,
which followed each other in rapid succession. Three days after the
marriage, the king gave a special assembly which was to eclipse all
the rest. All the ladies were directed to appear in dresses of black
velvet, that the precious gems, which were almost literally to cover
those dresses, might sparkle more brilliantly. The great gallery of
Versailles was illuminated by four thousand wax-lights. The young
bride wore upon her apron alone jewels estimated at a sum equal to
fifty thousand dollars.

On the 1st of November, 1700, Charles II., the half crazed King of
Spain, died, leaving no heir. The pope, Innocent XII., bribed by Louis
XIV., sent a nuncio to the dying king, enjoining upon him to transmit
his crown to the children of the Dauphin of France, as the legitimate
heirs to the monarchy. As the Duke of Burgoyne was the direct heir to
the throne of France, the second son of the dauphin, the Duke of
Anjou, still a mere boy, was proclaimed King of Spain, with the title
of Philip V.

On the 14th of the month the Spanish embassador was summoned to an
audience with Louis XIV. at Versailles. The king presented his
grandson to the minister, saying, "This, sir, is the Duke of Anjou,
whom you may salute as your king."

A large crowd of courtiers was soon assembled. The Spanish minister
threw himself upon his knees before the boy with expressions of
profound homage. There was a scene of great excitement. The king,
embracing with his left arm the neck of the young prince, pointed to
him with his right hand, and said to those present,

"Gentlemen, this is the King of Spain. His birth calls him to the
crown.[X] The late king has recognized his right by his will. All the
nation desires his succession, and has entreated it at my hands. It is
the will of Heaven, to which I conform with satisfaction."

[Footnote X: The claim of the young prince was founded upon the fact
that his grandmother, Maria Theresa, was the eldest daughter of Philip
IV. of Spain. She had, however, upon her marriage, renounced all claim
to the succession. Her younger sister, Margarita, had married the
Emperor Leopold of Austria without this renunciation. The emperor
claimed the crown for her daughter, who had married the Elector of
Bavaria. Hence the war of _The Spanish Succession_.]

The Duke of Anjou was quite delighted in finding himself thus
liberated from all the restraints of tutors and governors, and of
being, in his boyhood, elevated to the dignity of a crowned king. As
soon as these stately forms of etiquette were concluded, and he was
alone with his brothers, he kicked up his heels and snapped his
fingers, exclaiming with delight,

"So I am King of Spain. You, Burgoyne, will be King of France. And
you, my poor Berri, are the only one who must live and die a subject."

The little prince replied, perhaps upon the principle that "the grapes
were sour," perhaps because he had observed how little real happiness
regal state had brought to his grandfather,

"That fact will not grieve me. I shall have less trouble and more
pleasure than either of you. I shall enjoy the right of hunting both
in France and Spain, and can follow a wolf from Paris to Madrid."

Preparations were immediately made for the departure of the boy-king
to take possession of his Spanish throne and crown. The pomp-loving
French king had decided to invest the occasion with great splendor. He
regarded it as a signal stroke of policy, and a great victory on his
part, that he had been enabled, notwithstanding the remonstrances of
other nations, to place a French Bourbon prince upon the throne of
Spain, thus virtually uniting the two nations. He thought he had thus
extended the domain of France to the Straits of Gibraltar.
"Henceforth," exclaimed Louis XIV., exultingly, "there are no more

To his grandson, the new king, he said, "Be a good Spaniard, but never
forget that you were born a Frenchman. Carefully maintain the union of
the two nations. Thus only can you render them both happy."

There was a final meeting of the royal family to take leave of the
young monarch as he was departing for his realm. All the young
nobility of France, with a numerous military escort, were to compose
his brilliant retinue. The Duchess du Maine, the legitimatized
daughter of Madame de Montespan, and thus the half brother of the
dauphin, persuaded the dauphin to invite her mother to the palace on
this occasion. Here occurred the last interview between the heartless
king and his discarded favorite.

As the king made the tour of the room, he found himself opposite
Madame de Montespan. She was greatly overcome by her emotions, and,
pale and trembling, was near fainting. The king coldly and
searchingly, for a moment, fixed his eye upon her, and then said,

"Madame, I congratulate you. You are still as handsome and attractive
as ever. I hope that you are also happy."

The marchioness replied, "At this moment, sire, I am very happy, since
I have the honor of presenting my respectful homage to your majesty."

The king, with his studied grace of courtesy, kissed her hand, and
continued his progress around the circle. The monarch and his perhaps
equally guilty victim never met again. She lived twenty-two years
after her expulsion from the palace. They were twenty-two years of
joylessness. Her confessor, who seems to have been a man of sincere
piety, refused her absolution until she had written to her husband,
the Marquis de Montespan, whom she had abandoned for the guilty love
of the king, affirming her heartfelt repentance, imploring his
forgiveness, and entreating him either to receive her back, or to
order her to any place of residence which he should think proper. The
indignant marquis replied that he would neither admit her to his
house, nor prescribe for her any future rules of conduct, nor suffer
her name ever again to be mentioned in his presence.

The reverend father compelled her, in atonement for her sins, to sit
at a frugal table; to consecrate her vast wealth to objects of
benevolence; to wear haircloth next her skin, and around her waist a
girdle with sharp points, which lacerated her body at every movement.
She was also daily employed in making garments of the coarsest
materials with her own hands for the sick in the hospitals, and for
the poor in their squalid homes.

The guilty marchioness was dreadfully afraid of death. Every night a
careful guard of women watched her bedside. In a thunder-storm she
would take an infant in her lap, that the child's innocence might be
her protection. In the night of the 26th of May, 1707, she was
attacked in her bed by very distressing suffocation. One of her sons,
the Marquis of Antin, was immediately sent for. He found his mother
insensible. Seizing a casket which contained her jewels, he demanded
of an attendant the key. It was suspended around the neck of his dying
mother, where she ever wore it. The young man went to the bedside,
tore away the lace which veiled his mother's bosom, seized the key,
unlocked the casket, emptied its contents into his pockets, descended
to his carriage, and hurried away with the treasure, leaving his
mother to die without a relative to close her eyes. An hour after she
breathed her last.

The king was informed of the death of Madame de Montespan just as he
was setting out on a shooting excursion. "Ah! indeed," he said, "and
so the marchioness is dead. I should have thought that she would have
lasted longer. Are you ready, M. de la Rochefoucald? I have no doubt
that after this last shower the scent will lie well for the dogs.
Come, let us be off at once."

We have slightly anticipated the chronological sequence of events in
this narrative of the death of Madame de Montespan, which took place
in the year 1707. James II. of England died in exile at St. Germain in
September, 1701. The Prince of Orange then occupied the British throne
with the title of William III. He formed what was called the "Grand
Alliance" against the encroachments of France. For several years the
war of the "Spanish Succession" raged with almost unprecedented fury
throughout all Europe.

[Illustration: FRONT VIEW OF ST. GERMAIN.]

The king's health was now failing, and troubles in rapid succession
came crowding upon him. His armies encountered terrible defeats. The
king had thus far lived on friendly terms with his only brother
Philip, duke of Orleans, the playmate of his childhood, and the
submissive subject of maturer years. They were now both soured by
misfortune. In a chance meeting at Marly they fell into a violent
altercation respecting the conduct of one of the sons of the duke. It
was their first quarrel since childhood. The duke was so excited by
the event that he hastened to his palace at St. Cloud with flushed
cheeks and trembling nerves, where he was stricken down by apoplexy. A
courier was immediately dispatched to the king. He hastened to the
bedside of his brother, and found him insensible.

Philip was two years younger than Louis. To see him die was a louder
appeal to the conscience of the king than the view of St. Denis from
the terrace at St. Germain. Death was, to this monarch, truly the king
of terrors. He could not endure the spectacle of his brother's dying
convulsions. Burying his face in his hands, he wept and sobbed
bitterly. It was a midnight scene, or rather it was the sombre hour of
three o'clock in the morning.

At 8 o'clock in the morning the king took his carriage and returned to
Marly, and repaired immediately to the apartment of Madame de
Maintenon. At 11 o'clock his physician arrived with the intelligence
that the duke was dead. Again the king was overcome with emotion, and
wept almost convulsively; but, soon recovering himself, he apparently
resolved to make every effort to throw off these painful thoughts.

Notwithstanding the remonstrances of Madame de Maintenon, he persisted
in his determination to dine, as usual, with the ladies of the court.
Much to the astonishment of the ladies, he was heard, in his own room,
singing an air from a recent opera which was far from funereal in its

In the month of May of this same year, 1701, the Duke of Anjou, the
young King of Spain, who was uneasily seated upon his beleaguered
throne, entered into a matrimonial alliance with Maria Louisa of
Savoy, younger sister of Adelaide, the duchess of Burgoyne. She was of
fairy-like stature, but singularly graceful and beautiful, with the
finest complexion, and eyes of dazzling brilliance. Her mental
endowments were also equal to her physical charms. Louis XIV., ever
anxious to retain the control over the court of Spain, appointed the
Princess des Ursins to be the companion and adviser of the young
queen. This lady was alike remarkable for her intelligence, her
sagacity, her tact, and her thorough acquaintance with high and
courtly breeding. The young King of Spain was perfectly enamored of
his lovely bride. She held the entire control over him. The
worldly-wise and experienced Princess des Ursins guided, in obedience
to the dictates of Louis XIV., almost every thought and volition of
the young queen. Thus the monarch at Marly ruled the court at Madrid.

While foreign war was introducing bankruptcy to the treasury of
France, civil war was also desolating the kingdom. The sufferings of
the Protestants equaled any thing which had been witnessed in the days
of pagan persecution. The most ferocious of all these men, who were
breathing out threatenings and slaughter, was the Abbé de Chayla. This
wretch had captured a party of Protestants, and, with them, two young
ladies from families of distinction. They were all brutally thrust
into a dungeon, and were fettered in a way which caused extreme
anguish, and crushed some of their bones. It was the 24th of July,
1702. At ten o'clock in the evening, a party of about fifty resolute
Protestants, thoroughly armed, and chanting a psalm, broke into the
palace of the infamous ecclesiastic, released the prisoners from the
dungeon vaults, seized the abbé, and, after compelling him to look
upon the mangled bodies and broken bones of his victims, put him to
death by a dagger-stroke from each one of his assailants. The torch
was then applied, and the palace laid in ashes.

Hence commenced the terrible civil war called _The War of the
Camisards_. The Protestants were poor, dispersed, without arms, and
without leaders. Despair nerved them. They fled to rocks, to the
swamps, the forests. In their unutterable anguish they were led to
frenzies of enthusiasm. They believed that God chose their leaders,
and inspired them to action. Thus roused and impelled, they set at
defiance an army of twenty thousand men sent against them.

The terrible war lasted two years. Fiends could not have perpetrated
greater cruelties than were perpetrated by the troops of the king. It
is one of the mysteries of divine providence that _one man_ should
have been permitted to create such wide-spread and unutterable woe.
Louis XIV. wished to exterminate Protestantism from his realms.
Millions were made wretched to an intensity which no pen can describe.
Louis XIV. wished to place his grandson, without any legal title, upon
the throne of Spain. In consequence, Europe was deluged in blood.
Cities were sacked and burned. Provinces were devastated. Hundreds of
thousands perished in the blood of the battle-field. The book of final
judgment alone can tell how many widows and orphans went weeping to
their graves.

The Pope Clement IX. fulminated a bull against the Camisards, and
promised the absolute remission of sins to those engaged in their
extermination. Protestant England and Holland sent words of cheer to
their fellow-religionists. We can not enter into the details of this
conflict. The result was that the king found it impossible to
exterminate the Protestants, or to blot out their faith. A policy of
semi-tolerance was gradually introduced, though in various parts of
the kingdom the persecuting spirit remained for several years
unbroken. The king, chagrined by the failure of his plans, would not
allow the word Protestant or Huguenot to be pronounced in his

The distress in France was dreadful. A winter of unprecedented
severity had even frozen the impetuous waters of the Rhone. Provisions
commanded famine prices. The fields were barren, the store-houses
exhausted, the merchant ships were captured by the enemy, and the
army, humiliated by frequent defeats, was perishing with hunger. The
people became desperate. The king was ignominiously lampooned and
placarded. He dared not appear in public, for starving crowds gathered
around his carriage clamoring for bread. Even the king and the
nobility sent their plate to the Mint. The exhaustion of the realm had
become so complete that the haggard features of want seemed to be
staring in even at the windows of the palace. Madame de Maintenon
practiced so much self-denial as to eat only oaten bread.

In April of 1711 the dauphin was taken sick with apparently an attack
of fever. It proved to be malignant smallpox. After a brief sickness,
which terrified and dispersed the court, he died, almost alone, in a
burning fever, with a frightfully swollen face, and in delirium. Even
the king could not visit the dying chamber of his son. He fainted upon
his sofa when he heard that the dauphin was in his last agonies.

The terror-stricken courtiers fled from the palace of Meudon, where
the loathsome remains of the heir to the throne of France awaited
burial. The corpse was hurried into a plain coffin, which was not even
covered by the royal pall. Not a single mourning coach followed the
only legitimate son of Louis XIV. to the grave. He had two sisters,
the Princess of Conti and the Duchess of Bourbon Condé. Neither of
them ventured to join the funeral procession of their only brother. He
had three sons, Louis, Philip, and Charles. Philip was king of Spain.
Louis and Charles were at home. But they kept at a safe distance, as
did the king his father, from the meagre funeral procession which
bore, with indecent haste, the remains of the prince to the vaults of
St. Denis.




The Duke of Burgoyne.--His character.--The dauphiness poisoned by
means of snuff.--Anguish of the king.--Death.--The dauphin taken
ill.--Death of the dauphin.--Death of the child-dauphin.--The Duke
of Orleans.--He is suspected as the poisoner.--A quarrel and its
result.--Death of the Duke de Berri.--Anguish of the Duke of
Orleans.--Feelings of the king.--The regency.--Intrigues and
plots.--Louis harassed.--The Duke of Orleans removes to St.
Cloud.--Policy.--Wretchedness of the king.--The Duchess de
Berri.--Plottings.--The council of regency.--The last testament of
the king.--Unsatisfactory.--Sickness of the king.--The last
review.--Struggles against death.--Affects youthfulness.--Summons
a band.--Scene in the death-chamber.--The last offices of the
Church.--The king resigned.--Remorse of the king.--Energy of
fanaticism.--Deplorable condition of France.--Testimony of Thomas
Jefferson.--Napoleon.--Devotion of Madame de Maintenon.--Last
messages.--Melancholy spectacle.--The young heir to the throne.--Dying
advice.--The king blesses the dauphin.--Dying confession.--Scenes
of suffering.--Last words.--The death of the king.--Louis XV.
proclaimed.--Ignominious burial of Louis XIV.--Louis XV.--Louis
XVI.--The Revolution.

Upon the death of the king's son, the Duke of Burgoyne assumed the
title of Dauphin, which his father had previously borne, and became
direct heir to the crown. He was a retiring, formal man, very much
devoted to study, and somewhat pedantic. He was also religiously
inclined. In his study, where he passed most of his time, he divided
his hours between works of devotion and books of science. His sudden
advent to the direct heirship to the French throne surrounded him with
courtiers and flatterers. The palace at Meudon, where he generally
resided, was now crowded with noble guests.

He became affable, frequently showed himself in public, entered into
amusements, and was soon regarded as a general favorite. Taught by
Madame de Maintenon, he succeeded, by his marked respect for the king
and his submission to his slightest wishes, in gaining the good will
of the homage-loving monarch. The years had rolled rapidly along, and
the young dauphin was thirty years of age. He had three children,
and, being irreproachable in his domestic relations, was developing a
very noble character. The dauphiness had attained her twenty-seventh
year. She was an extremely beautiful and fascinating woman.

The dauphiness was fond of snuff. On the 3d of February, 1712, the
Duke de Noailles, a true friend, presented her with a box of Spanish
snuff, with which she was delighted. She left the box upon the table
in her boudoir. It was there for a couple of days, she frequently
indulging in the luxury of a pinch. On the 5th she was attacked with
sudden sickness, accompanied by shivering fits, burning fever, and
intense pain in the head. The attack was so sudden and extraordinary
that all the attendants thought of poison, though none ventured to
give utterance to the surmise. For four days she grew worse, with
frequent seasons of delirium. The dauphin was almost frantic. The king
sat in anguish, hour after hour, at her bedside.

No remedies were of any avail. Her sufferings were so great that the
dauphin could not remain in her dying chamber to witness her agony.
She was greatly surprised when informed that she must die. All the
offices of the Church were attended to. She received the rite of
extreme unction, and, in the wildness of delirium, lost all
recognition of those who were around her. The king, bowed down with
anguish, was with difficulty prevailed upon to retire. He had but
reached the door of the palace when she expired.

The king was now a world-weary, heart-stricken old man, who had
numbered more than his threescore years and ten. He seemed crushed
with grief, and his eyes were flooded with tears as he returned, with
Madame de Maintenon, to Marly. The apartment which the dauphin paced
in agony was immediately above the dying chamber. As soon as the
death-struggle was over, he was induced to retire to Marly, that he
might be spared the anguish of witnessing the preparations for the

As the dauphin entered the chamber of the king, the monarch was
startled in witnessing the change which had taken place in his
appearance. His face was flushed with fever; his eyes were dilated and
inflamed, and livid stains covered his face. It was manifest that the
same disease, whatever it was, which had stricken down the
dauphiness, had also attacked the dauphin. The malady made rapid
progress. In the intensity of his anguish, the sufferer declared his
entrails were on fire. Conscious that his dying hour had come, he, on
the night of the 17th, partook of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper,
and almost immediately expired.

The dreadful tidings were conveyed to the king as he sat in the
apartment of Madame de Maintenon, with the younger brother of the
dauphin, Charles, the duke de Berri, by his side. The king,
anticipating the announcement, sat with his head bent down upon his
breast, and clasping almost convulsively the hand of the prince who
sat at his feet. Throwing his arms around the neck of the Duke de
Berri, the king exclaimed, in accents of despair, "Alas! my son, you
alone are now left to me."

The Duke of Burgoyne had buried three children. There were two then
living. The eldest, the Duke of Bretagne, was five years of age. The
youngest, the Duke of Anjou, had just attained his second year. By the
death of the Duke of Burgoyne, his eldest child became the dauphin and
the immediate heir to the crown. The next day both of these children
were taken sick, evidently with the same malady, whether of natural
disease or the effect of poison, which had proved so fatal to their
parents. The eldest immediately died. The same funeral car conveyed
the remains of the father, the mother, and the child to the gloomy
vaults of St. Denis.

The youngest child, the Duke of Anjou, by the most careful nursing
recovered to ascend the throne with the title of Louis XV., and to
present to the world, in his character, one of the most infamous kings
who had ever worn an earthly crown.

We have previously mentioned the death of the king's only brother,
Philip, duke of Orleans. He left a son, the Duke of Chartres. Upon the
death of the Duke of Orleans his son inherited the title and the
estate of his father. He was an exceedingly dissolute man. Should all
the legitimate descendants of the king die, he would be heir to the
throne. With the exception of Philip, who was King of Spain, and thus
precluded from inheriting the throne of France, all were now dead
except the infant Duke of Anjou. The death of that child would place
the crown upon the brow of Philip, duke of Orleans.

As it was evident that all these victims had died of poison, suspicion
was so directed against the Duke of Orleans that the accusation was
often hooted at him in the streets. There is, however, no convincing
evidence that he was guilty. One of the daughters of the Duke of
Orleans had married the Duke de Berri. She was as wicked as she was
beautiful, and scarcely condescended to disguise her profligacy. The
duke intercepted some letters which proved her guilty intimacy with an
officer of her household. A violent quarrel took place in the royal
presence. The husband kicked his wife with his heavy boot, and the
king lifted his cane to strike the duke.

A sort of reconciliation was effected. The duchess, who, beyond all
doubt, was a guilty woman, professed to be satisfied with the
apologies which her husband made. Soon after they went on a wolf-hunt
in the forest of Marly. Both appeared in high spirits. The run was
long. Heated by the race and thirsty, the duke asked the duchess if
she had any thing with her with which he could quench his thirst. She
drew from the pocket of her carriage a small bottle, which contained,
she said, an exquisite cordial with which she was always provided in
case of over-fatigue. The duke drained it, and returned the empty
bottle to the duchess. As she took it she said, with a smile, "I am
very glad to have met you so opportunely."

Thus they parted. In a few hours the duke was a corpse. It was so
manifestly for the interest of the dissolute and unprincipled Duke of
Orleans that the princes which stood between him and the throne should
be removed, that all these cases of poisoning were attributed to him.
Indeed, one of the motives which might have influenced his daughter,
the Duchess de Berri, to poison her husband, whom she loathed, may
have been the hope of seeing her father upon the throne. When the
funeral procession passed near the Palais Royal, the residence of the
duke, the tumult was so great that it was feared that the palace might
be sacked.

The anguish of the duke, thus clamorously assailed with the crime of
the most atrocious series of assassinations, was great. A friend, the
Marquis de Canillac, calling upon him one day, found him prostrate
upon the floor of his apartment in utter despair. He knew that he was
suspected by his uncle the king, and by the court as well as by the
populace. At last he went boldly to the king, and demanded that he
should be arrested, sent to the Bastile, and put upon trial. The king
sternly, and without any manifestation of sympathy, refused, saying
that such a scandal should not, with his consent, be made any more
public than it already was. The king also recoiled from the idea of
having a prince of the blood royal tried for murder.

As it was known that the king could not live long, and a babe of but
two years was to be his successor--a feeble babe, who had already
narrowly escaped death by poison, the question of the regency, during
the minority of this babe, and of heirship to the throne in case the
babe should die, became a matter of vast moment. The court was filled
with intrigues and plots. The Duke of Orleans had his numerous
partisans, men of opulence and rank. He was but a nephew of the
king--son of the king's brother.

On the other hand was the Duke du Maine, an acknowledged _son_ of the
king--the legitimated son of Madame de Montespan. But no royal
decree, no act of Parliament could obliterate the stain of his birth.
He had many and powerful supporters, who, by his accession to power,
would be placed in all the offices of honor and emolument. Madame de
Maintenon, in herself a host, was one of the most devoted of his
friends. She had been his tutor. She had ever loved him ardently. He
had also pledged her, in case of his success, that she should be
recognized as Queen of France.

The monarch was harassed and bewildered by these contending factions.
The populace took sides. The Duke of Orleans could not leave his
palace without being exposed to the hootings of the rabble. He
withdrew from his city residence, the Palais Royal, to the splendid
palace of St. Cloud. He was accompanied by a magnificent train of
nobles, and, being a man of almost boundless wealth, he established
his court here in regal splendor.

There was no _proof_ that the Duke of Orleans was implicated in the
poisonings. The king was unwilling to receive evidence that his
brother's son could be guilty of such a crime. Being superstitiously a
religionist, the king recoiled from the attempt to place upon the
throne a son of Madame de Montespan, who was the acknowledged wife of
another man. He therefore favored the claims of the Duke of Orleans,
and sent him word at St. Cloud that he recognized his innocence of
the crime of which public rumor accused him.

It is, however, very evident that this was a measure of policy and not
of sincere conviction. He entered into no friendly relations with the
duke, and kept him at a respectful distance. The disastrous war of the
Spanish Succession was now closed, through the curious complications
of state policy. Philip VI. retained his throne, but France was
exhausted and impoverished. The king often sat for hours, with his
head leaning upon his hand, in a state of profound listlessness and
melancholy. Famine was ravaging the land. A wail of woe came from
millions whom his wars and extravagance had reduced to starvation.

The Duchess de Berri, the unblushing profligate, the undoubted
murderess, was, as the daughter of the king's brother, the only
legitimate princess left to preside over the royal court. She was
fascinating in person and manners, with scarcely a redeeming virtue to
atone for her undisguised vices.

"Thus the stately court of Anne of Austria, the punctilious circle of
Maria Theresa, and the elegant society of the Duchess of Burgoyne
were--at the very period of his life when Louis XIV., at length
disenchanted of the greatness, and disgusted with the vices of the
world, was seeking to purify his heart and to exalt his thoughts that
they might become more meet for heaven--superseded by the orgies of a
wanton, who, with unabashed brow and unshrinking eye, carried her
intrigues into the very saloons of Marly."[Y]

[Footnote Y: Louis XIV. and the Court of France, vol. ii., p. 588.]

Madame de Maintenon resorted to every measure she could devise to
induce the king to appoint her favorite pupil, the Duke du Maine,
regent during the minority of the infant Duke of Anjou. The king was
greatly harassed. Old, infirm, world-weary, heart-stricken, and pulled
in opposite directions, by powers so strong, he knew not what to do.
At last he adopted a sort of compromise, which gave satisfaction to
neither party.

The king appointed a council of regency, of which the Duke of Orleans
was president. But the Duke du Maine was a member of the council, and
was also intrusted with the guardianship and education of the young
heir to the throne. This will was carefully concealed in a cavity
opened in the wall of a tower of the state apartment. The iron door of
this closet was protected by three keys, one of which was held by the
president of the chambers, one by the attorney general, and one by the
public registrar.

A royal edict forbade the closet to be opened until after the death of
the king, and then only in the presence of the assembled Parliament,
the princes, and the peers. The document had been extorted from the
king. It was not in accordance with his wishes. Indeed, it satisfied
no one. As he placed the papers in the hands of the president of the
chambers, he said to him, gloomily,

"Here is my will. The experience of my predecessors has taught me that
it may not be respected. But I have been tormented to frame it. I have
been allowed neither peace nor rest until I complied. Take it away.
Whatever may happen to it, I hope that I shall now be left in

[Footnote Z: Memoires de St. Simon.]

The advanced age of the king and his many infirmities rendered even a
slight indisposition alarming. On the evening of the 3d of May, 1715,
the king, having supped with the Duchess de Berri, retired to bed
early, complaining of weariness and exhaustion. The rumor spread
rapidly that the king was dangerously sick. The foreign embassadors
promptly dispatched the news to their several courts.

The jealous king, who kept himself minutely informed of every thing
which transpired, was very indignant in view of this apparent
eagerness to hurry him to the tomb. To prove, not only to the court,
but to all Europe, that he was still every inch a king, he ordered a
magnificent review of the royal troops at Marly. The trumpet of
preparation was blown loudly. Many came, not only from different parts
of the kingdom, but from the other states of Europe, to witness the
spectacle. It took place on the 20th of June, 1715. As the troops, in
their gorgeous uniforms, defiled before the terrace of Marly, quite a
spruce-looking man, surrounded by obsequious attendants, emerged from
the principal entrance of the palace, descended the marble steps and
mounted his horse. It was the poor old king. Inspired by vanity, which
even dying convulsions could not quell, he had rouged his pale and
haggard cheeks, wigged his thin locks, padded his skeleton limbs, and
dressed himself in the almost juvenile costume of earlier years.
Sustained by artificial stimulants, this poor old man kept his
tottering seat upon his saddle for four long hours. He then, having
proved that he was still young and vigorous, returned to his chamber.
The wig was thrown aside, the pads removed, the paint washed off, and
the infirm septuagenarian sought rest from his exhaustion upon the
royal couch.

Day after day the king grew more feeble, with the usual alternations
of nervous strength and debility, but with no abatement of his chronic
gloom. The struggles which he endured to conceal the approaches of
decay did but accelerate that decay. He was restless, and again
lethargic. Dropsical symptoms appeared in his discolored feet and
swollen ankles. Still he insisted every day upon seeing his ministers,
and exhibited himself padded, and rouged, and costumed in the highest
style of art. He even affected, in his gait and gesture, the
elasticity of youth. In his restlessness, the king repaired, with his
court, from Marly to Versailles.

Here the king was again taken seriously sick with an attack of fever.
With unabated resolution, he continued his struggles against the
approaches of the angel of death. While the fevered blood was
throbbing in his veins, he declared that he was but slightly
indisposed, and summoned a musical band to his presence, with orders
that the musicians should perform only the most animating and cheerful

But the fever and other alarming symptoms increased so rapidly that
scarcely had the band been assembled when the court physicians became
apprehensive that the king's dissolution was immediately to take
place. The king's confessor and the Cardinal de Rohan were promptly
summoned to attend to the last services of the Catholic Church for the
dying. There was a scene of confusion in the palace. The confessor, Le
Tellier, communicated to the king the intelligence that he was
probably near his end. While he was receiving the _confession_ of the
royal penitent, the cardinal was hurrying to the chapel to get the
viaticum for administering the communion, and the holy oil for the
rite of extreme unction.

It was customary that the _pyx_, as the box was called in which the
host was kept, should be conveyed to the bedside of expiring royalty
in formal procession. The cardinal, in his robes of office, led the
way. Several attendants of the royal household followed, bearing
torches. Then came Madame de Maintenon. They all gathered in the
magnificent chamber, and around the massive, sumptuous couch of the
monarch. The cardinal, after speaking a few words in reference to the
solemnity of a dying hour, administered the sacrament and the holy
oils. The king listened reverently and in silence, and then sank back
upon his pillow, apparently resigned to die.

To the surprise of all, he revived. Patiently he bore his sufferings,
which at times were severe. His legs began to swell badly and
painfully. Mortification took place. He was informed that the
amputation of the leg was necessary to save him from speedy death.

"Will the operation prolong my life?" inquired the king.

"Yes, sire," the surgeon replied; "certainly for some days, perhaps
for several weeks."

"If that be all," said the king, "it is not worth the suffering. God's
will be done."

The king could not conceal the anguish with which he was agitated in
view of his wicked life. He fully believed in the religion of the New
Testament, and that after death came the judgment. He tried to believe
that the priest had power to grant him absolution from his sins. How
far he succeeded in this no one can know.

Openly he expressed his anguish in view of the profligacy of his
youth, and wept bitterly in the retrospect of those excesses. We know
not what compunctions of conscience visited him as he reflected upon
the misery he had caused by the persecution of the Protestants. But he
had been urged to this by his highest ecclesiastics, and even by the
holy father himself.

It would not be strange, under these circumstances, if a man of his
superstitious and fanatical spirit should, even in a dying hour,
reflect with some complacency upon these crimes, believing that thus
he had been doing God service. It is this which gives to papal
_fanaticism_ its terrible and demoniac energy. The _sincere_ papist
believes "_heresy_" to be poison for the soul infinitely more dreadful
than any poison for the body. Such poison must be banished from the
world at whatever cost of suffering. Many an ecclesiastic has gone
from his closet of prayer to kindle the flames which consumed his
victim. The more _sincere_ the papist is in his belief, the more
mercilessly will he swing the scourge and fire the fagot.

Loudly, however, he deplored the madness of his ambition which had
involved Europe in such desolating wars. Bitterly he expressed his
regret that he left France in a state of such exhaustion,
impoverished, burdened with taxation, and hopelessly crushed by debt.

The condition of the realm was indeed deplorable. A boy of five years
of age was to inherit the throne. A man so profligate that he was
infamous even in a court which rivaled Sodom in its corruption was to
be invested with the regency of the kingdom--a man who was accused, by
the general voice of the nation, of having poisoned those who stood
between him and the throne. That man's sister, an unblushing wanton,
who had poisoned her own husband, presided over the festivities of the
palace. The nobles, abandoned to sensual indulgence, were diligent and
ingenious only in their endeavors to wrench money from the poor. The
masses of the people were wretched beyond description, and almost
beyond imagination in our land of liberty and competence. The
execrations of the starving millions were rising in a long wail around
the throne.

Thomas Jefferson, subsequently President of the United States, who,
not many years after this, was the American embassador at Paris,
wrote, in 1785, to Mrs. Trist, of Philadelphia,

"Of twenty millions of people supposed to be in France, I am of the
opinion that there are nineteen millions more wretched, more accursed
in every circumstance of human existence than the most conspicuously
wretched individual of the whole United States."

Even the Duke of Orleans, the appointed regent, said, "If I were a
subject I would certainly revolt. The people are good-natured fools to
suffer so long."

These sufferings and these corruptions were the origin and cause of
the French Revolution.[AA] Napoleon, the great advocate of the rights
of the people in antagonism to this aristocratic privilege, said, at
St. Helena,

[Footnote AA: Abbott's French Revolution, as viewed in the Light of
Republican Institutions.]

"Our Revolution was a national convulsion as irresistible in its
effects as an eruption of Vesuvius. When the mysterious fusion which
takes place in the entrails of the earth is at such a crisis that an
explosion follows, the eruption bursts forth. The unperceived workings
of the discontent of the people follow exactly the same course. In
France, the sufferings of the people, the moral combinations which
produce a revolution, had arrived at maturity, and the explosion took

[Footnote AB: Napoleon at St. Helena, p. 374]

Such was the condition in which unhappy France was left by Louis XIV.,
after a reign of seventy years. He was now seventy-seven years of age.
Madame de Maintenon, two years his senior, was entering her eightieth
year. With unwearied devotion she watched at the bedside of that
selfish husband whose pride would never allow him to acknowledge her
publicly as his wife.

Feeling that his end was drawing near, the king summoned the Duke of
Orleans to his bedside, and informed him minutely of the measures he
wished to have adopted after his death. The duke listened
respectfully, but paid no more regard to the wishes of the now
powerless and dying king than to the wailing of the wind. The king had
penetration enough to see that his day was over. He sank back upon his
pillow in despair.

On the 26th of August several prominent members of his court were
invited to the dying chamber of the king. His voice was almost gone.
He beckoned them to gather near around his bed. Then, in feeble tones,
tremulous with emotion, the pitiable old man, conscious of his summons
to the tribunal of God, said,

"Gentlemen, I ask your pardon for the bad example I have set you. I
thank you for your fidelity to me, and beg you to be equally faithful
to my grandson. Farewell, gentlemen. Forgive me. I hope you will
sometimes think of me when I am gone."

          "By many a death-bed I have been,
          By many a sinner's parting scene,
          But never aught like this."

It was, indeed, a spectacle mournfully sublime. The dying chamber was
one of the most magnificent apartments in the palace of Versailles.
The royal couch, massive in its architecture, richly curtained in its
embroidered upholstery of satin and gold, presented a bed whose
pillowed luxury exhibited haggard death in the strongest possible

Upon this gorgeous bed the gray-haired king reclined, wrinkled and
wan, and with a countenance which bore the traces both of physical
suffering and of keen remorse. The velvet hangings of the bed were
looped back with heavy tassels of gold. A group of nobles in gorgeous
court costumes were kneeling around the bed. Dispersed over the vast
apartment were other groups of courtiers and ladies, in picturesque
attitudes of real or affected grief. The gilded cornices, the
richly-painted ceilings, the soft carpet, yielding to the pressure of
the foot, the lavish display of the most costly and luxurious
furniture, all conspired to render the dimmed eye, and wasted cheek,
and palsied frame of the dying more impressive.

At a gesture from the king nearly all retired. For a few moments there
was unbroken silence. The king then requested his great grandchild,
who was to be his successor, to be brought to him. A cushion was
placed by the side of the bed, and the half-frightened child, clinging
to the hand of his governess, kneeled upon it. Louis XIV. gazed for a
few moments with almost pitying tenderness upon the infant prince, and
then said,

"My child, you are about to become a great king. Do not imitate me
either in my taste for building or in my love of war. Live in peace
with the nations. Render to God all that you owe him. Teach your
subjects to honor His name. Strive to relieve the burdens of your
people, in which I have been so unfortunate as to fail. Never forget
the gratitude you owe to the Duchess de Ventadour."[AC]

[Footnote AC: The Duchess de Ventadour, by the most careful nursing,
to which she entirely devoted herself, had rescued the infant Duke of
Anjou from the effect of the poison to which his father, mother, and
brother had fallen victims.]

"Madame," said the king, addressing Madame de Ventadour, "permit me to
embrace the prince."

The dauphin was placed upon the bed. The king encircled him in his
arms, pressed him fondly to his breast, and said, in a voice broken by

"I bless you, my dear child, with all my heart." He then raised his
eyes to heaven, and uttered a short prayer for God's blessing upon the

The next day, after another night of languor and suffering, the
restless, conscience-stricken king again summoned the dignitaries of
the court to his bedside, and said to them, in the presence of Madame
de Maintenon and of his _confessor_, who had mainly instigated him in
the persecution of the Protestants,

"Gentlemen, I die in the faith and obedience of the Church. I know
nothing of the dogmas by which it is divided. I have followed the
advice which I have received, and have done only what I was desired to
do. If I have erred, my guides alone must answer before God, whom I
call upon to witness this assertion."

The succeeding night the king was restless and greatly agitated. He
could not sleep, and seemed to pass the whole night in agonizing
prayer. In the morning he said to Madame de Maintenon,

"At this moment I only regret yourself. I have not made you happy. But
I have ever felt for you all the regard and affection which you
deserved. My only consolation in leaving you exists in the hope that
we shall, ere long, meet again in eternity."

Hours of agony, bodily and mental, were still allotted to the king.
His limbs were badly swollen. Upon one of them mortification was
rapidly advancing. He was often delirious, with but brief intervals of
consciousness. The service for the dying was performed. The ceremony
seemed slightly to arouse him from his lethargy. His voice was heard
occasionally blending with the prayers of the ecclesiastics as he
repeated several times,

"Now, in the hour of death, O my God, come to my aid."

These were his last words. He sank back insensible upon his pillow. A
few hours of painful breathing passed away, and at eight o'clock in
the morning of the 1st of September, 1715, he expired, in the
seventy-seventh year of his age and the seventy-second of his reign.
It was the longest reign in the annals of France. Had he been governed
through this period by enlightened Christian principle, how many
millions might have been made happy whom his crimes doomed to
life-long woe!

An immense concourse was assembled in the court-yard at Versailles,
anticipating the announcement of his death. The moment he breathed his
last sigh, the captain of the body-guard approached the great balcony,
threw open the massive windows, and, looking down upon the multitude
below, raised his truncheon above his head, broke it in the centre,
threw the fragments down into the court-yard, and cried sadly, "The
king is dead!"

Then, instantly seizing another staff from the hands of an attendant,
he waved it joyfully above his head, and shouted triumphantly, "Long
live the king, Louis XV.!" A huzza burst from the lips of the
assembled thousands almost loud enough to pierce the ear of the king,
now palsied in death.


There were few to mourn the departed monarch. As his remains were
hurried to the vaults of St. Denis, those vaults which he had so much
dreaded, the populace shouted execrations and pelted his coffin with
mud. Not the slightest regard was paid to his will. The Duke of
Orleans assumed the regency with absolute power. His reign was
execrable, followed by the still more infamous reign of Louis XV. Then
came the Revolution, as the sceptre of utterly despotic sway passed
into the hands of the feeble Louis XVI. The storm, which had been
gathering for ages, burst with fury which appalled the world. A more
tremendous event has not occurred in the history of our race. The
story has too often been told by those who were in sympathy with the
kings and the nobles. The time will come when the _people's_ side of
the story will be received, and the terrible drama will be better

                    THE END.


1. Minor changes have been made to correct typesetters' errors, and to
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