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A Popular History of France From The Earliest Times by Francois Pierre Guillaume Guizot

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Produced by David Widger

HISTORY OF FRANCE

BY M. GUIZOT

VOLUME IV.

CONTENTS:

XXVIII. FRANCIS I. AND CHARLES V. 9

XXIX. FRANCIS I. AND THE RENAISSANCE. 137

XXX. FRANCIS I. AND THE REFORMATION. 179

XXXI. HENRY II. (1547-1559.) 230

XXXII. FRANCIS II. JULY 10, 1559--DECEMBER 5, 1560 269

XXXIII. CHARLES IX. AND THE RELIGIOUS WARS. (1560-1574.) 296

XXXIV. HENRY III. AND THE RELIGIOUS WARS. (1574-1589.) 388

LIST OF STEEL ENGRAVINGS:

THE CASTLE OF CHAIIIBORD. FRONTISPIECE.

FRANCIS I 137

GALLERY HENRY II 230

DIANA DE POITIERS 243

MARY STUART 270

HENRY OF LORRAINE (DUKE OF GUISE) 332

LIST OF WOOD-CUT ILLUSTRATIONS:

Cardinal Ximenes 14

All Night a-horseback 19

Bayard Knighting Francis I 19

Leo X. 21

Anthony Duprat 24

Charles V. 39

Francis I. surprises Henry VIII 44

The Field of the Cloth of Gold 45

The Constable de Bourbon 53

The Death of Bayard 76

Capture of Francis I. 91

Louise of Savoy and Marguerite de Valois 102

Francis I. 115

The Duke of Orleans and Charles V 128

Claude de Lorraine, Duke of Guise 130

St. Thomas Aquinas and Abelard 140

Clement Marot 162

Francis I. waits for Robert Estienne 168

Rabelais 171

The First Protestants 178

William Farel 181

The Castle of Pau 183

Burning of Reformers at Meaux 188

Erasmus 194

Berquin released by John de la Barre 198

Heretic Iconoclasts 201

Massacre of the Vaudians 218

Calvin 222

Henry II. 235

Anne de Montmorency 235

Guise at Metz 244

Francis II. and Mary Stuart love making. 251

Catherine de' Medici (in her young days) 255

Joust between Henri II. and Count de Montgomery 268

Archers of the Body-guard 268

Francis II. 269

Death of La Renaudie 283

After-dinner Diversions 284

Mary Stuart 284

Louis de Bourbon, Prince of Condo 285

Coligny at the Death-bed of Francis II. 295

Francis de Lorraine, Duke of Aumale and of Guise 302

Massacre of Protestants 305

The Duke of Guise waylaid 315

Conde at the Ford 328

Parley before the Battle of Moncontour 337

Admiral Gaspard de Coligny 346

Charles IX. and Catherine de' Medici 354

Henry de Guise and the Corpse of Coligny 369

The Queen of Navarre and the Huguenot 372

Chancellor Michael de l'Hospital 376

The St. Bartholomew 383

Henry III. 388

Indolence of Henry III. 390

Henry le Balafre 400

The Castle of Blois 428

Henry III. and the Murder of Guise 437

Henry of Navarre and the Scotch Guard 448

A POPULAR HISTORY OF FRANCE FROM THE EARLIEST TIMES.

CHAPTER XXVIII.----FRANCIS I. AND CHARLES V.

The closer the study and the wider the contemplation a Frenchman bestows
upon his country's history, the deeper will be his feelings of patriotic
pride, dashed with a tinge of sadness. France, in respect of her
national unity, is the most ancient amongst the states of Christian
Europe. During her long existence she has passed through very different
regimens, the chaos of barbarism, the feudal system, absolute monarchy,
constitutional monarchy, and republicanism. Under all these regimens she
has had no lack of greatness and glory, material power and intellectual
lustre, moral virtues and the charms of social life. Her barbarism had
its Charlemagne; her feudal system St. Louis, Joan of Arc, and Bayard;
her absolute monarchy Henry IV. and Louis XIV. Of our own times we say
nothing. France has shone in war and in peace, through the sword and
through the intellect: she has by turns conquered and beguiled,
enlightened and troubled Europe; she has always offered to the foreigner
a spectacle or an abode full of the curious and the attractive, of noble
pleasures and of mundane amusements. And still, after so many centuries
of such a grand and brilliant career, France has not yet attained the end
to which she ever aspired, to which all civilized communities aspire, and
that is, order in the midst of movement, security and liberty united and
lasting. She has had shortcomings which have prevented her from reaping
the full advantage of her merits; she has committed faults which have
involved her in reverses. Two things, essential to political prosperity
amongst communities of men, have hitherto been to seek in her;
predominance of public spirit over the spirit of caste or of profession,
and moderation and fixity in respect of national ambition both at home
and abroad. France has been a victim to the personal passions of her
chiefs and to her own reckless changeability.

We are entering upon the history of a period and a reign during which
this intermixture of merits and demerits, of virtues and vices, of
progress and backsliding, was powerfully and attractively exhibited
amongst the French. Francis I., his government and his times commence
the era of modern France, and bring clearly to view the causes of her
greatnesses and her weaknesses.

Francis I. had received from God all the gifts that can adorn a man: he
was handsome and tall and strong; his armor, preserved in the Louvre, is
that of a man six feet high; his eyes were brilliant and soft, his smile
was gracious, his manners were winning. From his very childhood he
showed that he had wits, enterprise, skill, and boldness. He was but
seven years old when, "on the day of the conversion of St. Paul, January
25, 1501, about two P. M., my king, my lord, my Caesar, and my son, was
run away with, near Amboise, by a hackney which had been given him by
Marshal de Gye; and so great was the danger that those who were present
thought it was all over; howbeit God, the protector of widowed women and
the defender of orphans, foreseeing things to come, was pleased not to
forsake me, knowing that, if accident had so suddenly deprived me of my
love, I should have been too utter a wretch." Such is the account given
of this little incident by his mother, Louise of Savoy, who was at that
time habitually kept, by Anne of Brittany's jealousy, at a distance from
Paris and the court. [_Journal de Louise de Savoie_ in the Petitot
collection of _Memoires sur l'Histoire de France,_ Series I. t. xvi.
p. 390.] Some years later the young prince, who had become an ardent
huntsman, took the fancy into his head one day to let loose in the
courtyard of the castle of Amboise a wild boar which he had just caught
in the forest. The animal came to a door, burst it open with a blow of
his snout, and walked up into the apartments. Those who were there took
to their heels; but Francis went after the boar, came up with him, killed
him with a swordthrust, and sent him rolling down the staircase into the
courtyard. When, in 1513, Louis XII. sent for the young Duke of
Angouleme and bade him go and defend Picardy against the English, Francis
had scarcely done anything beyond so employing his natural gifts as to
delight the little court of which he was the centre; an estimable trait,
but very insufficient for the government of a people.

When, two years afterwards, on the 1st of January, 1515, he ascended the
throne before he had attained his one and twentieth year, it was a
brilliant and brave but spoiled child that became king. He had been
under the governance of Artus Gouffier, Sire de Boisy, a nobleman of
Poitou, who had exerted himself to make his royal pupil a loyal knight,
well trained in the moral code and all the graces of knighthood, but
without drawing his attention to more serious studies or preparing him
for the task of government. The young Francis d'Angouleme lived and was
moulded under the influence of two women, his mother, Louise of Savoy,
and his eldest sister, Marguerite, who both of them loved and adored him
with passionate idolatry. It has just been shown in what terms Louise of
Savoy, in her daily collection of private memoranda, used to speak to
herself of her son, "My king, my lord, my Caesar, and my son!" She was
proud, ambitious, audacious, or pliant at need, able and steadfast in
mind, violent and dissolute in her habits, greedy of pleasure and of
money as well as of power, so that she gave her son neither moral
principles nor a moral example: for him the supreme kingship, for herself
the rank, influence, and wealth of a queen-mother, and, for both,
greatness that might subserve the gratification of their passions--this
was all her dream and all her aim as a mother. Of quite another sort
were the character and sentiments of Marguerite de Valois. She was born
on the 11th of April, 1492, and was, therefore, only two years older than
her brother Francis; but her more delicate nature was sooner and more
richly cultivated and developed. She was brought up with strictness by
a most excellent and most venerable dame, in whom all the virtues, at
rivalry one with another, existed together. [Madame de Chatillon, whose
deceased husband had been governor to King Charles VIII.] As she was
discovered to have rare intellectual gifts and a very keen relish for
learning, she was provided with every kind of preceptors, who made her
proficient in profane letters, as they were then called. Marguerite
learned Latin, Greek, philosophy, and especially theology. "At fifteen
years of age," says a contemporary, "the spirit of God began to manifest
itself in her eyes, in her face, in her walk, in her speech, and.
generally in all her actions." "She had a heart," says Brantome,
"mighty devoted to God, and she loved mightily to compose spiritual
songs. . . . She also devoted herself to letters in her young days,
and continued them as long as she lived, loving and conversing with, in
the time of her greatness, the most learned folks of her brother's
kingdom, who honored her so that they called her their Maecenas."
Learning, however, was far from absorbing the whole of this young soul.
"She," says a contemporary, "had an agreeable voice of touching tone,
which roused the tender inclinations that there are in the heart."
Tenderness, a passionate tenderness, very early assumed the chief place
in Marguerite's soul, and the first object of it was her brother Francis.
When mother, son, and sister were spoken of, they were called a Trinity,
and to this Marguerite herself bore witness when she said, with charming
modesty,--

"Such boon is mine, to feel the amity
That God hath putten in our trinity,
Wherein to make a third, I, all unfitted
To be that number's shadow, am admitted."

Marguerite it was for whom this close communion of three persons had the
most dolorous consequences: we shall fall in with her more than once in
the course of this history; but, whether or no, she was assuredly the
best of this princely trio, and Francis I. was the most spoiled by it.
There is nothing more demoralizing than to be an idol.

The first acts of his government were sensible and of good omen. He
confirmed or renewed the treaties or truces which Louis XII., at the
close of his reign, had concluded with the Venetians, the Swiss, the
pope, the King of England, the Archduke Charles, and the Emperor
Maximilian, in order to restore peace to his kingdom. At home Francis I.
maintained at his council the principal and most tried servants of his
predecessor, amongst others the finance-minister, Florimond Robertet; and
he raised to four the number of the marshals of France, in order to
confer that dignity on Bayard's valiant friend, James of Chabannes, Lord
of La Palice, who even under Louis XII. had been entitled by the
Spaniards "the great marshal of France." At the same time he exalted to
the highest offices in the state two new men, Charles, Duke of Bourbon,
who was still a mere youth, but already a warrior of renown, and Anthony
Duprat, the able premier president of the Parliament of Paris; the former
he made constable, and the latter chancellor of France. His mother,
Louise of Savoy, was not unconcerned, it is said, in both promotions;
she was supposed to feel for the young constable something more than
friendship, and she regarded the veteran magistrate, not without reason,
as the man most calculated to unreservedly subserve the interests of the
kingly power and her own.

These measures, together with the language and the behavior of Francis
I., and the care he took to conciliate all who approached him, made a
favorable impression on France and on Europe. In Italy, especially,
princes as well as people, and Pope Leo X. before all, flattered
themselves, or were pleased to appear as if they flattered themselves,
that war would not come near them again, and that the young king had his
heart set only on making Burgundy secure against sudden and outrageous
attacks from the Swiss. The aged King of Spain, Ferdinand the Catholic,
adopting the views of his able minister, Cardinal Ximenes, alone showed
distrust and anxiety. "Go not to sleep," said he to his former allies;
"a single instant is enough to bring the French in the wake of their
master whithersoever he pleases to lead them; is it merely to defend
Burgundy that the King of France is adding fifteen hundred lances to his
men-at-arms, and that a huge train of artillery is defiling into
Lyonness, and little by little approaching the mountains?"

[Illustration: Cardinal Ximenes----14]

Ferdinand urged the pope, the Emperor Maximilian, the Swiss, and
Maximilian Sforza, Duke of Milan, to form a league for the defence of
Italy; but Leo X. persisted in his desire of remaining or appearing
neutral, as the common father of the faithful. Meanwhile the French
ambassador at Rome, William Bude, "a man," says Guicciardini, "of
probably unique erudition amongst the men of our day," and, besides, a
man of keen and sagacious intellect, was unfolding the secret working of
Italian diplomacy, and sending to Paris demands for his recall, saying,
"Withdraw me from this court full of falsehoods; this is a residence too
much out of my element." The answer was, that he should have patience,
and still negotiate; for France, meeting ruse by ruse, was willing to be
considered hoodwinked, whilst the eyes of the pope, diverted by a hollow
negotiation, were prevented from seeing the peril which was gathering
round the Italian league and its declared or secret champions.
[Gaillard, _Histoire de Francois 1er,_ t. i. p. 208.]

Neither the king nor the pope had for long to take the trouble of
practising mutual deception. It was announced at Rome that Francis I.,
having arrived at Lyons in July, 1515, had just committed to his mother,
Louise, the regency of the kingdom, and was pushing forward towards the
Alps an army of sixty thousand men and a powerful artillery. He had won
over to his service Octavian Fregoso, Doge of Genoa; and Barthelemy
d'Alviano, the veteran general of his allies the Venetians, was encamped
with his troops within hail of Verona, ready to support the French in the
struggle he foresaw. Francis I., on his side, was informed that twenty
thousand Swiss, commanded by the Roman, Prosper Colonna, were guarding
the passes of the Alps in order to shut him out from Milaness. At the
same time he received the news that the Cardinal of Sion, his most
zealous enemy in connection with the Roman Church, was devotedly
employing, with the secret support of the Emperor Maximilian, his
influence and his preaching for the purpose of raising in Switzerland
a second army of from twenty to five and twenty thousand men, to be
launched against him, if necessary, in Italy. A Spanish and Roman army,
under the orders of Don Raymond of Cardone, rested motionless at some
distance from the Po, waiting for events and for orders prescribing the
part they were to take. It was clear that Francis I., though he had been
but six months king, was resolved and impatient to resume in Italy, and
first of all in Milaness, the war of invasion and conquest which had been
engaged in by Charles VIII. and Louis XII.; and the league of all the
states of Italy save Venice and Genoa, with the pope for their
half-hearted patron, and the Swiss for their fighting men, were
collecting their forces to repel the invader.

It was the month of August; the snow was diminishing and melting away
among the Alps; and the king, with the main body of the army, joined at
Embrun the Constable de Bourbon, who commanded the advance-guard. But
the two passes of Mount Cenis and Mount Ginevra were strongly guarded by
the Swiss, and others were sought for a little more to the south. A
shepherd, a chamois-hunter, pointed out one whereby, he said, the
mountains might be crossed, and a descent made upon the plains of the
marquisate of Saluzzo. The young constable went in person to examine the
spots pointed out by the shepherd; and, the statement having been
verified, it did not seem impossible to get the whole army over, even the
heavy artillery; and they essayed this unknown road. At several points,
abysses had to be filled up, temporary bridges built, and enormous rocks
pierced; the men-at-arms marched on foot, with great difficulty dragging
their horses; with still greater difficulty the infantry hauled the
cannon over holes incompletely stopped and fragments of yawning rock.
Captains and soldiers set to work together; no labor seems too hard to
eager hope; and in five days the mountain was overcome, and the army
caught sight of the plain where the enemy might be encountered. A small
body of four hundred men-at-arms, led by Marshal de Chabannes, were the
first to descend into it; and among them was Bayard. "Marshal," said he
to Chabannes, "we are told that over the Po yonder is Sir Prosper Colonna,
with two thousand horse, in a town called Villafranca, apprehending
nought and thinking of nought but gaudies. We must wake up his wits a
little, and this moment get into the saddle with all our troops, that he
be not warned by any." "Sir Bayard," said the marshal, "it is right well
said; but how shall we cross the River Po, which is so impetuous and
broad?" "Sir," said Bayard, "here is my Lord de Morette's brother, who
knows the ford; he shall cross first, and I after him." So they mounted
their horses, crossed the Po, and "were soon there, where Sir Prosper
Colonna was at table and was dining, as likewise were all his folk."
Bayard, who marched first, found the archers on guard in front of the
Italian leader's quarters. "Yield you and utter no sound," cried he,
"else you are dead men." Some set about defending themselves; the rest
ran to warn Colonna, saying, "Up, sir; for, here are the French in a
great troop already at this door." "Lads," said Colonna to them, "keep
this door a little till we get some armor on to defend ourselves." But
whilst the fight was going on at the door Bayard had the windows scaled,
and, entering first, cried out, "Where are you, Sir Prosper? Yield you;
else you are a dead man." "Sir Frenchman, who is your captain?" asked
Colonna. "I am, sir." "Your name, captain?" "Sir, I am one Bayard of
France, and here are the Lord of La Palice, and the Lords d'Aubigny and
d'Himbercourt, the flower of the captains of France." Colonna
surrendered, cursing Fortune, "the mother of all sorrow and affliction,
who had taken away his wits, and because he had not been warned of their
coming, for he would at least have made his capture a dear one;" and he
added, "It seems a thing divinely done; four noble knights at once, with
their comrades at their backs, to take one Roman noble!"

Francis I. and the main body of his army had also arrived at the eastern
foot of the Alps, and were advancing into the plains of the country of
Saluzzo and Piedmont. The Swiss, dumbfounded at so unexpected an
apparition, fell back to Novara, the scene of that victory which two
years previously had made them so proud. A rumor spread that negotiation
was possible, and that the question of Milaness might be settled without
fighting. The majority of the French captains repudiated the idea, but
the king entertained it. His first impulses were sympathetic and
generous. "I would not purchase," said he to Marshal de Lautrec, "with
the blood of my subjects, or even with that of my enemies, what I can pay
for with money." Parleys were commenced; and an agreement was hit upon
with conditions on which the Swiss would withdraw from Italy and resume
alliance with the French. A sum of seven hundred thousand crowns, it was
said, was the chief condition; and the king and the captains of his army
gave all they had, even to their plate, for the first instalment which
Lautrec was ordered to convey to Bufalora, where the Swiss were to
receive it. But it was suddenly announced that the second army of twenty
thousand Swiss, which the Cardinal of Sion had succeeded in raising, had
entered Italy by the valley of the Ticino. They formed a junction with
their countrymen; the cardinal recommenced his zealous preaching against
the French; the newcomers rejected the stipulated arrangements; and,
confident in their united strength, all the Swiss made common accord.
Lautrec, warned in time, took with all speed his way back to the French
army, carrying away with him the money he had been charged to pay over;
the Venetian general, D'Alviano, went to the French camp to concert with
the king measures for the movements of his troops; and on both sides
nothing was thought of but the delivery of a battle.

On the 13th of September, 1515, about midday, the Constable de Bourbon
gave notice to the king, encamped at Melegnano (a town about three
leagues from Milan), that the Swiss, sallying in large masses from Milan,
at the noisy summons of the bull of Uri and the cow of Unterwalden, were
advancing to attack. "The king, who was purposing to sit down to supper,
left it on the spot, and went off straight towards the enemy, who were
already engaged in skirmishing, which lasted a long while before they
were at the great game. The king had great numbers of lanzknechts, the
which would fain have done a bold deed in crossing a ditch to go after
the Swiss; but these latter let seven or eight ranks cross, and then
thrust you them back in such sort that all that had crossed got hurled
into the ditch. The said lanzknechts were mighty frightened; and but for
the aid of a troop of men-at-arms, amongst the which was the good knight
Bayard, who bore down right through the Swiss, there had been a sad
disaster there, for it was now night, and night knows no shame. A band
of Swiss came passing in front of the king, who charged them gallantly.
There was heavy fighting there and much danger to the king's person, for
his great buffe [the top of the visor of his helmet] was pierced, so as
to let in daylight, by the thrust of a pike. It was now so late that
they could not see one another; and the Swiss were, for this evening,
forced to retire on the one side, and the French on the other. They
lodged as they could; but well I trow that none did rest at ease. The
King of France put as good a face on matters as the least of all his
soldiers did, for he remained all night a-horseback like the rest
(according to other accounts he had a little sleep, lying on a
gun-carriage).

[Illustration: All Night a-horseback----19]

On the morrow at daybreak the Swiss were for beginning again, and they
came straight towards the French artillery, from which they had a good
peppering. Howbeit, never did men fight better, and the affair lasted
three or four good hours. At last they were broken and beaten, and there
were left on the field ten or twelve thousand of them. The remainder, in
pretty good order along a high road, withdrew to Milan, whither they were
pursued sword-in-hand." [_Histoire du bon Chevalier sans Peur et sans
Reproehe,_ t. ii. pp. 99-102.]

The very day after the battle Francis I. wrote to his mother the regent a
long account, alternately ingenuous and eloquent, in which the details
are set forth with all the complacency of a brave young man who is
speaking of the first great affair in which he has been engaged and in
which he did himself honor. The victory of Melegnano was the most
brilliant day in the annals of this reign. Old Marshal Trivulzio, who
had taken part in seventeen battles, said that this was a strife of
giants, beside which all the rest were but child's play. On the very
battle-field, "before making and creating knights of those who had done
him good service, Francis I. was pleased to have himself made knight by
the hand of Bayard. 'Sir,' said Bayard, 'the king of so noble a realm,
he who has been crowned, consecrated and anointed with oil sent down from
heaven, he who is the eldest son of the church, is knight over all other
knights.' 'Bayard, my friend,' said the king, 'make haste; we must have
no laws or canons quoted here; do my bidding.' 'Assuredly, sir,' said
Bayard, 'I will do it, since it is your pleasure;' and, taking his sword,
'Avail it as much,' said he, 'as if I were Roland or Oliver, Godfrey or
his brother Baldwin; please God, sir, that in war you may never take
flight!' and, holding up his sword in the air, he cried, 'Assuredly, my
good sword, thou shalt be well guarded as a relic and honored above all
others for having this day conferred upon so handsome and puissant a king
the order of chivalry; and never will I wear thee more if it be not
against Turks, Moors, and Saracens!' Whereupon he gave two bounds and
thrust his sword into the sheath." [_Les testes et la Vie du Chevalier
Bayard, by Champier,_ in the _Archives curieuses de l'Histoire de
France,_ Series I. t. ii. p. 160.]

[Illustration: Bayard Knighting Francis I----19]

The effect of the victory of Melegnano was great, in Italy primarily, but
also throughout Europe. It was, at the commencement of a new reign and
under the impulse communicated by a young king, an event which seemed to
be decisive and likely to remain so for a long while. Of all the
sovereigns engaged in the Italian league against Francis I., he who was
most anxious to appear temperate and almost neutral, namely, Leo X., was
precisely he who was most surprised and most troubled by it. When he
knew that a battle was on the eve of being fought between the French and
the Swiss, he could not conceal his anxiety and his desire that the Swiss
might be victorious. The Venetian ambassador at Rome, Marino Giorgi,
whose feelings were quite the other way, took, in his diplomatic
capacity, a malicious pleasure in disquieting him. "Holy father," said
he, "the Most Christian King is there in person with the most warlike and
best appointed of armies; the Swiss are afoot and ill armed, and I am
doubtful of their gaining the day." "But the Swiss are valiant soldiers,
are they not?" said the pope. "Were it not better, holy father,"
rejoined the ambassador, "that they should show their valor against the
infidel?" When the news of the battle arrived, the ambassador, in grand
array, repaired to the pope's; and the people who saw him passing by in
such state said, "The news is certainly true." On reaching the pope's
apartment the ambassador met the chamberlain, who told him that the holy
father was still asleep. "Wake him," said he; but the other refused.
"Do as I tell you," insisted the ambassador. The chamberlain went in;
and the pope, only half dressed, soon sallied from his room. "Holy
father," said the Venetian, "your Holiness yesterday gave me some bad
news which was false; to-day I have to give you some good news which is
true: the Swiss are beaten." The pope read the letters brought by the
ambassador, and some other letters also. "What will come of it for us
and for you?" asked the pope. "For us," was the answer, "nothing but
good, since we are with the Most Christian king; and your Holiness will
not have aught of evil to suffer." "Sir Ambassador," rejoined the pope,
"we will see what the Most Christian king will do; we will place
ourselves in his hands, demanding mercy of him." "Holy father, your
Holiness will not come to the least harm, any more than the holy See: is
not the Most Christian king the church's own son?" And in the account
given of this interview to the Senate of Venice the ambassador added,
"The holy father is a good sort of man, a man of great liberality and of
a happy disposition; but he would not like the idea of having to give
himself much trouble."

[Illustration: Leo X.----21]

Leo X. made up his mind without much trouble to accept accomplished
facts. When he had been elected pope, he had said to his brother, Julian
de' Medici, "Enjoy we the papacy, since God hath given it us" [_Godiamoci
il papato, poiche Dio ci l' ha dato_]. He appeared to have no further
thought than how to pluck from the event the advantages he could discover
in it. His allies all set him an example of resignation. On the 15th of
September, the day after the battle, the Swiss took the road back to
their mountains. Francis I. entered Milan in triumph. Maximilian Sforza
took refuge in the castle, and twenty days afterwards, on the 4th of
October, surrendered, consenting to retire to France with a pension of
thirty thousand crowns, and the promise of being recommended for a
cardinal's hat, and almost consoled for his downfall "by the pleasure of
being delivered from the insolence of the Swiss, the exactions of the
Emperor Maximilian, and the rascalities of the Spaniards." Fifteen years
afterwards, in June, 1530, he died in oblivion at Paris. Francis I.
regained possession of all Milaness, adding thereto, with the pope's
consent, the duchies of Parma and Piacenza, which had been detached from
it in 1512. Two treaties, one of November 7, 1515, and the other of
November 29, 1516, re-established not only peace, but perpetual alliance,
between the King of France and the thirteen Swiss cantons, with
stipulated conditions in detail. Whilst these negotiations were in
progress, Francis I. and Leo X., by a treaty published at Viterbo on the
13th of October, proclaimed their hearty reconciliation. The pope
guaranteed to Francis I. the duchy of Milan, restored to him those of
Parma and Piacenza, and recalled his troops which were still serving
against the Venetians; being careful, however, to cover his concessions
by means of forms and pretexts which gave them the character of a
necessity submitted to rather than that of an independent and definite
engagement. Francis I., on his side, guaranteed to the pope all the
possessions of the church, renounced the patronage of the petty princes
of the ecclesiastical estate, and promised to uphold the family of the
Medici in the position it had held at Florence since, with the King of
Spain's aid, in 1512, it had recovered the dominion there at the expense
of the party of republicans and friends of France.

The King of France and the pope had to discuss together questions far
more important on both sides than those which had just been thus settled
by their accredited agents. When they signed the treaty of Viterbo, it
was agreed that the two sovereigns should have a personal interview, at
which they should come to an arrangement upon points of which they had as
yet said nothing. Rome seemed the place most naturally adapted for this
interview; but the pope did not wish that Francis I. should go and
display his triumph there. Besides, he foresaw that the king would speak
to him about the kingdom of Naples, the conquest of which was evidently
premeditated by the king; and when Francis I., having arrived at Rome,
had already done half the journey, Leo X. feared that it would be more
difficult to divert him. He resolved to make to the king a show of
deference to conceal his own disquietude; and offered to go and meet him
at Bologna, the town in the Roman States which was nearest to Milaness.
Francis accepted the offer. The pope arrived at Bologna on the 8th of
December, 1515, and the king the next day. After the public ceremonies,
at which the king showed eagerness to tender to the pope acts of homage
which the pope was equally eager to curtail without repelling them, the
two sovereigns conversed about the two questions which were uppermost in
their minds. Francis did not attempt to hide his design of reconquering
the kingdom of Naples, which Ferdinand the Catholic had wrongfully
usurped, and he demanded the pope's countenance. The pope did not care
to refuse, but he pointed out to the king that everything foretold the
very near death of King Ferdinand; and "Your majesty," said he, "will
then have a natural opportunity for claiming your rights; and as for me,
free, as I shall then be, from my engagements with the King of Arragon in
respect of the crown of Naples, I shall find it easier to respond to your
majesty's wish." The pope merely wanted to gain time. Francis, setting
aside for the moment the kingdom of Naples, spoke of Charles VII.'s
Pragmatic Sanction, and the necessity of putting an end to the
difficulties which had arisen on this subject between the court of Rome
and the Kings of France, his predecessors. "As to that," said the pope,
"I could not grant what your predecessors demanded; but be not uneasy;
I have a compensation to propose to you which will prove to you how dear
your interests are to me." The two sovereigns had, without doubt,
already come to an understanding on this point, when, after a three days'
interview with Leo X., Francis I. returned to Milan, leaving at Bologna,
for the purpose of treating in detail the affair of the Pragmatic
Sanction, his chancellor, Duprat, who had accompanied him during all this
campaign as his adviser and negotiator.

In him the king had, under the name and guise of premier magistrate of
the realm, a servant whose bold and complacent abilities he was not slow
to recognize and to put in use. Being irritated "for that many, not
having the privilege of sportsmen, do take beasts, both red and black, as
hares, pheasants, partridges, and other game, thus frustrating us of our
diversion and pastime that we take in the chase," Francis I. issued, in
March, 1516, an ordinance which decreed against poachers the most severe
penalties, and even death, and which "granted to all princes, lords, and
gentlemen possessing forests or warrens in the realm, the right of
upholding therein by equally severe punishments the exclusive privileges
of their preserves." The Parliament made remonstrances against such
excessive rigor, and refused to register the ordinance. The chancellor,
Duprat, insisted, and even threatened. "To the king alone," said he,
"belongs the right of regulating the administration of his state obey, or
the king will see in you only rebels, whom he will know how to chastise."
For a year the Parliament held out; but the chancellor persisted more
obstinately in having his way, and, on the 11th of February, 1517, the
ordinance was registered under a formal order from the king, to which the
name was given of "letters of command."

[Illustration: Anthony Duprat----24]

At the commencement of the war for the conquest of Milaness there was a
want of money, and Francis I. hesitated to so soon impose new taxes.
Duprat gave a scandalous extension to a practice which had been for a
long while in use, but had always been reprobated and sometimes formally
prohibited, namely, the sale of public appointments or offices: not only
did he create a multitude of financial and administrative offices, the
sale of which brought considerable sums into the treasury, but he
introduced the abuse into the very heart of the judicial body; the
tribunals were encumbered by newly-created magistrates. The estates of
Languedoc complained in vain. The Parliament of Paris was in its turn
attacked. In 1521, three councillors, recently nominated, were convicted
of having paid, one three thousand eight hundred livres, and the two
others six thousand livres. The Parliament refused to admit them.
Duprat protested. The necessities of the state, he said, made borrowing
obligatory; and the king was free to prefer in his selections those of
his subjects who showed most zeal for his service. Parliament persisted
in its refusal. Duprat resolved to strike a great blow. An edict of
January 31, 1522, created within the Parliament a fourth chamber,
composed of eighteen councillors and two presidents, all of fresh, and,
no doubt, venal appointment, though the edict dared not avow as much.
Two great personages, the Archbishop of Aix and Marshal de Montmorenci,
were charged to present the edict to Parliament and require its
registration. The Parliament demanded time for deliberation. It kept an
absolute silence for six weeks, and at last presented an address to the
queen-mother, trying to make her comprehend the harm such acts did to the
importance of the magistracy and to her son's government. Louise
appeared touched by these representations, and promised to represent
their full weight to the king, "if the Parliament will consent to point
out to me of itself any other means of readily raising the sum of one
hundred and twenty thousand livres, which the king absolutely cannot do
without." The struggle was prolonged until the Parliament declared "that
it could not, without offending God and betraying its own conscience,
proceed to the registration; but that if it were the king's pleasure to
be obeyed at any price, he had only to depute his chancellor or some
other great personage, in whose presence and on whose requirement the
registration should take place." Chancellor Duprat did not care to
undertake this commission in person. Count de St. Pol, governor of
Paris, was charged with it, and the court caused to be written at the
bottom of the letters of command, "Read and published in presence of
Count de St. Pol, specially deputed for this purpose, who ordered viva
voce, in the king's name, that they be executed."

Thus began to be implanted in that which should be the most respected and
the most independent amongst the functions of government, namely, the
administration of justice, not only the practice, but the fundamental
maxim, of absolute government. "I am going to the court, and I will
speak the truth; after which the king will have to be obeyed," was said
in the middle of the seventeenth century by the premier president Mold to
Cardinal de Retz. Chancellor Duprat, if we are not mistaken, was, in the
sixteenth century, the first chief of the French magistracy to make use
of language despotic not only in fact, but also in principle. President
Mole was but the head of a body invested, so far as the king was
concerned, with the right of remonstrance and resistance; when once that
right was exercised, he might, without servility, give himself up to
resignation. Chancellor Duprat was the delegate, the organ, the
representative of the king; it was in the name of the king himself that
he affirmed the absolute power of the kingship and the absolute duty of
submission. Francis I. could not have committed the negotiation with Leo
X. in respect of Charles VII.'s Pragmatic Sanction to a man with more
inclination and better adapted for the work to be accomplished.

The Pragmatic Sanction had three principal objects:--

1. To uphold the liberties and the influence of the faithful in the
government of the church, by sanctioning their right to elect
ministers of the Christian faith, especially parish priests and
bishops;

2. To guarantee the liberties and rights of the church herself in
her relations with her head, the pope, by proclaiming the necessity
for the regular intervention of councils and their superiority in
regard to the pope;

3. To prevent or reform abuses in the relations of the papacy with
the state and church of France in the matter of ecclesiastical
tribute, especially as to the receipt by the pope, under the name of
annates, of the first year's revenue of the different ecclesiastical
offices and benefices.

In the fifteenth century it was the general opinion in France, in state
and in church, that there was in these dispositions nothing more than the
primitive and traditional liberties and rights of the Christian church.
There was no thought of imposing upon the papacy any new regimen, but
only of defending the old and legitimate regimen, recognized and upheld
by St. Louis in the thirteenth century as well as by Charles VII. in the
fifteenth.

The popes, nevertheless, had all of them protested since the days of
Charles VII. against the Pragmatic Sanction as an attack upon their
rights, and had demanded its abolition. In 1461, Louis XI., as has
already been shown, had yielded for a moment to the demand of Pope Pius
II., whose countenance he desired to gain, and had abrogated the
Pragmatic; but, not having obtained what he wanted thereby, and having
met with strong opposition in the Parliament of Paris to his concession,
he had let it drop without formally retracting it, and, instead of
engaging in a conflict with Parliament upon the point, he thought it no
bad plan for the magistracy to uphold in principle and enforce in fact
the regulations of the Pragmatic Sanction. This important edict, then,
was still vigorous in 1515, when Francis I., after his victory at
Melegnano and his reconciliation with the pope, left Chancellor Duprat
at Bologna to pursue the negotiation reopened on that subject. The
compensation, of which Leo X., on redemanding the abolition of the
Pragmatic Sanction, had given a peep to Francis I., could not fail to
have charms for a prince so little scrupulous, and for his still less
scrupulous chancellor. The pope proposed that the Pragmatic, once for
all abolished, should be replaced by a Concordat between the two
sovereigns, and that this Concordat, whilst putting a stop to the
election of the clergy by the faithful, should transfer to the king the
right of nomination to bishoprics and other great ecclesiastical offices
and benefices, reserving to the pope the right of presentation of
prelates nominated by the king. This, considering the condition of
society and government in the sixteenth century, in the absence of
political and religious liberty, was to take away from the church her own
existence, and divide her between two masters, without giving her, as
regarded either of them, any other guarantee of independence than the
mere chance of their dissensions and quarrels.

Egotism, even in kings, has often narrow and short-sighted views. It was
calculated that there were in France at this period ten archbishoprics,
eighty-three bishoprics, and five hundred and twenty-seven abbeys.
Francis I. and his chancellor saw in the proposed Concordat nothing but
the great increment of influence it secured to them, by making all the
dignitaries of the church suppliants at first and then clients of the
kingship. After some difficulties as to points of detail, the Concordat
was concluded and signed on the 18th of August, 1516. Five months
afterwards, on the 5th of February, 1517, the king repaired in person to
Parliament, to which he had summoned many prelates and doctors of the
University. The chancellor explained the points of the Concordat, and
recapitulated all the facts which, according to him, had made it
necessary. The king ordered its registration, "for the good of his
kingdom and for quittance of the promise he had given the pope."
Parliament on one side, and the prelates and doctors of the University
on the other, deliberated upon this demand. Their first answer was that,
as the matter concerned the interest of the whole Gallican church, they
could not themselves decide about it, and that the church, assembled in
national council, alone had the right of pronouncing judgment. "Oho! so
you cannot," said the king; "I will soon let you see that you can, or I
will send you all to Rome to give the pope your reasons." To the
question of conscience the Parliament found thenceforth added the
question of dignity. The magistrates raised difficulties in point of
form, and asked for time to discuss the matter fundamentally; and
deputies went to carry their request to the king. He admitted the
propriety of delay, but with this comment: "I know that there are in my
Parliament good sort of men, wise men; but I also know that there are
turbulent and rash fools; I have my eye upon them; and I am informed of
the language they dare to hold about my conduct. I am king as my
predecessors were; and I mean to be obeyed as they were. You are
constantly vaporing to me about Louis XII. and his love of justice; know
ye that justice is as dear to me as it was to him; but that king, just as
he was, often drove out from the kingdom rebels, though they were members
of Parliament; do not force me to imitate him in his severity."
Parliament entered upon a fundamental examination of the question; their
deliberations lasted from the 13th to the 24th of July, 1517; and the
conclusion they came to was, that Parliament could not and ought not to
register the Concordat; that, if the king persisted in his intention of
making it a law of the realm, he must employ the same means as Charles
VII. had employed for establishing the Pragmatic Sanction, and that,
therefore, he must summon a general council. On the 14th of January,
1518, two councillors arrived at Amboise, bringing to the king the
representations of the Parliament. When their arrival was announced to
the king, "Before I receive them," said he, "I will drag them about at my
heels as long as they have made me wait." He received them, however, and
handed their representations over to the chancellor, bidding him reply to
them. Duprat made a learned and specious reply, but one which left
intact the question of right, and, at bottom, merely defended the
Concordat on the ground of the king's good pleasure and requirements of
policy. On the last day of February, 1518, the king gave audience to the
deputies, and handed them the chancellor's reply. They asked to examine
it. "You shall not examine it," said the king; "this would degenerate
into an endless process. A hundred of your heads, in Parliament, have
been seven months and more painfully getting up these representations,
which my chancellor has blown to the winds in a few days. There is but
one king in France; I have done all I could to restore peace to my
kingdom; and I will not allow nullification here of that which I brought
about with so much difficulty in Italy. My Parliament would set up for a
Venetian Senate; let it confine its meddling to the cause of justice,
which is worse administered than it has been for a hundred years; I
ought, perhaps, to drag it about at my heels, like the Grand Council, and
watch more closely over its conduct." The two deputies made an attempt
to prolong their stay at Amboise: but, "If before six to-morrow morning,"
said the king, "they be not gone, I will send some archers to take them
and cast them into a dungeon for six months; and woe to whoever dares to
speak to me for them!"

On returning to Paris the deputies were beginning to give their fellows
an account of how harsh a reception they met with, when Louis de la
Tremoille, the most respected amongst the chiefs of the army, entered the
hall. He came by order of the king to affirm to the Parliament that to
dismiss the Concordat was to renew the war, and that it must obey on the
instant or profess open rebellion. Parliament upheld its decision of
July 24, 1517, against the Concordat, at the same time begging La
Tremoille to write to the king to persuade him, if he insisted upon
registration, to send some person of note or to commission La Tremoille
himself to be present at the act, and to see indorsed upon the Concordat,
"Read, published, and registered at the king's most express command
several times repeated, in presence of . . . , specially deputed by
him for that purpose." Tremoille hesitated to write, and exhibited the
letters whereby the king urged him to execute the strict orders laid upon
him. "What are those orders, then?" asked the premier president. "That
is the king's secret," answered La Tremoille: "I may not reveal it; all
that I can tell you is, that I should never have peace of mind if you
forced me to carry them out." The Parliament in its excitement begged La
Tremoille to withdraw, and sent for him back almost immediately.
"Choose," said the premier president to him, "between Saturday or Monday
next to be present at the registration." La Tremoille chose Monday,
wishing to allow himself time for an answer even yet from the king. But
no new instructions came to him; and on the 22d of March, 1518,
Parliament proceeded to registration of the Concordat, with the forms and
reservations which they had announced, and which were evidence of
compulsion. The other Parliaments of France followed with more or less
zeal, according to their own particular dispositions, the example shown
by that of Paris. The University was heartily disposed to push
resistance farther than had been done by Parliament: its rector caused to
be placarded on the 27th of March, 1518, in the streets of Paris, an
order forbidding all printers and booksellers to print the Concordat on
pain of losing their connection with the University. The king commanded
informations to be filed against the authors and placarders of the order,
and, on the 27th of April, sent to the Parliament an edict, which forbade
the University to meddle in any matter of public police, or to hold any
assembly touching such matters, under pain, as to the whole body, of
having its privileges revoked, and, as to individuals, of banishment and
confiscation. The king's party demanded of Parliament registration of
this edict. Parliament confined itself to writing to the king, agreeing
that the University had no right to meddle in affairs of government, but
adding that there were strong reasons, of which it would give an account
whenever the king should please to order, why it, the Parliament, should
refuse registration of the edict. It does not appear that the king ever
asked for such account, or that his wrath against the University was more
obstinately manifested. The Concordat was registered, and Francis I.,
after having achieved an official victory over the magistrates, had small
stomach for pursuing extreme measures against the men of letters.

We have seen that in the course of the fifteenth century, there were made
in France two able and patriotic attempts; the Pragmatic Sanction, in
1458, under Charles VII., and the States General of 1484, under Charles
VIII. We do not care to discuss here all the dispositions of those acts;
some of them were, indeed, questionable; but they both of them, one in
respect of the church and the other of the state, aimed at causing France
to make a great stride towards a national, free and legalized regimen, to
which French feudal society had never known how or been willing to adjust
itself. These two attempts failed. It would be unjust to lay the blame
on the contemporary governments. Charles VII. was in earnest about the
Pragmatic Sanction which he submitted to the deliberations and votes of a
national council; and Louis XI., after having for a while given it up to
the pope, retraced his steps and left it in force. As to the States
General of 1484, neither the regent, Anne de Beaujeu, nor Charles VIII.,
offered the slightest hinderance to their deliberations and their votes;
and if Louis XII. did not convoke the States afresh, he constantly strove
in the government of his kingdom to render them homage and give them
satisfaction. We may feel convinced that, considering the social and
intellectual condition of France at this time, these two patriotic
attempts were premature; but a good policy, being premature, is not on
that account alone condemned to failure; what it wants is time to get
itself comprehended, appreciated, and practised gradually and
consistently. If the successors of Louis XII. had acted in the same
spirit and with the same view as their predecessor, France would probably
have made progress in this salutary path. But exactly the contrary took
place. Instead of continuing a more and more free and legal regimen,
Francis I. and his chancellor, Duprat, loudly proclaimed and practised
the maxims of absolute power; in the church, the Pragmatic Sanction was
abolished; and in the state, Francis I., during a reign of thirty-two
years, did not once convoke the States General, and labored only to set
up the sovereign right of his own sole will. The church was despoiled
of her electoral autonomy; and the magistracy, treated with haughty and
silly impertinence, was vanquished and humiliated in the exercise of its
right of remonstrance. The Concordat of 1516 was not the only, but it
was the gravest pact of alliance concluded between the papacy and the
French kingship for the promotion mutually of absolute power.

Whilst this question formed the subject of disputes in France between the
great public authorities, there was springing up, outside of France,
between the great European powers another not more grave in regard to a
distant future, but more threatening in regard to the present peace of
nations. King Ferdinand the Catholic had died on the 23d of January,
1516; and his grandson and successor, Archduke Charles, anxious to go and
take possession of the throne of Spain, had hastily concluded with
Francis I., on the 13th of August, 1516, at Noyon, a treaty intended to
settle differences between the two crowns as to the kingdoms of Naples
and Navarre. The French and Spanish plenipotentiaries, Sires de Boisy
and de Chievres, were still holding meetings at Montpellier, trying to
come to an understanding about the execution of this treaty, when the
death of Emperor Maximilian at Wels, in Austria, on the 12th of January,
1519, occurred to add the vacant throne of a great power to the two
second-rate thrones already in dispute between two powerful princes.
Three claimants, Charles of Austria, who was the new King of Spain,
Francis I., and Henry VIII., King of England, aspired to this splendid
heritage. In 1517, Maximilian himself, in one of his fits of temper and
impecuniosity, had offered to abdicate and give up the imperial dignity
to Henry VIII. for a good round sum; but the King of England's envoy, Dr.
Cuthbert Tunstall, a stanch and clearsighted servant, who had been sent
to Germany to deal with this singular proposal, opened his master's eyes
to its hollowness and falsehood, and Henry VIII. held himself aloof.
Francis I. remained the only rival of Charles of Austria; Maximilian
labored eagerly to pave the way for his grandson's success; and at his
death the struggle between the two claimants had already become so keen
that Francis I., on hearing the news, exclaimed, "I will spend three
millions to be elected emperor, and I swear that, three years after the
election, I will be either at Constantinople or dead."

The Turks, who had been since 1453 settled at Constantinople, were the
terror of Christian Europe; and Germany especially had need of a puissant
and valiant defender against them. Francis I. calculated that the
Christians of Germany and Hungary would see in him, the King of France
and the victor of Melegnano, their most imposing and most effectual
champion.

Having a superficial mind and being full of vain confidence, Francis I.
was mistaken about the forces and chances on his side, as well as about
the real and natural interests of France, and also his own. There was no
call for him to compromise himself in this electoral struggle of kings,
and in a distant war against triumphant Islamry. He miscalculated the
strong position and personal valor of the rival with whom he would have
to measure swords. Charles of Austria was but nineteen, and Francis I.
was twenty-three, when they entered, as antagonists, into the arena of
European politics. Charles had as yet gained no battle and won no
renown; while Francis I. was already a victorious king and a famous
knight. But the young archduke's able governor, William de Croy, Lord of
Chievres, "had early trained him," says M. Mignet, "to the understanding
and management of his various interests; from the time that he was
fifteen, Charles presided every day at his council; there he himself read
out the contents of despatches which were delivered to him the moment
they arrived, were it even in the dead of night; his council had become
his school, and business served him for books. . . . Being naturally
endowed with superior parts, a penetrating intellect and rare firmness of
character, he schooled himself to look Fortune in the face without being
intoxicated by her smiles or troubled at her frowns, to be astonished by
nothing that happened, and to make up his mind in any danger. He had
even now the will of an emperor and an overawing manner. 'His dignity and
loftiness of soul are such,' says a contemporary writer, 'that he seems
to hold the universe under his feet.'" Charles's position in Germany was
as strong as the man himself; he was a German, a duke of Austria, of the
imperial line, as natural a successor of his grandfather Maximilian at
Frankfort as of his grandfather Ferdinand at Madrid. Such was the
adversary, with such advantages of nationality and of person, against
whom Francis I., without any political necessity, and for the sole
purpose of indulging an ambitious vision and his own kingly self-esteem,
was about to engage in a struggle which was to entail a heavy burden on
his whole life, and bring him not in triumph to Constantinople, but in
captivity to Madrid.

Before the death of Maximilian, and when neither party had done more than
foresee the struggle and get ready for it, Francis I. was for some time
able to hope for some success. Seven German princes, three
ecclesiastical and four laic, the Archbishops of Mayence, Cologne, and
Troves, and the Duke of Saxony, the Margrave of Brandenburg, the Count
Palatine of the Rhine, and the King of Bohemia, had the sole power of
electing the emperor. Four of them, the Archbishops of Troves and of
Cologne, the Count Palatine of the Rhine and the Margrave of Brandenburg,
had favorably received the overtures of Francis I., and had promised him
their suffrages. His devoted servant, Robert de la Marck, Lord of
Fleuranges, had brought to him at Amboise a German gentleman from the
Palatinate, Franz von Sickingen, "of very petty family, but a very gentle
companion," says Fleuranges, "the most beautiful talker that I think I
ever saw in my life, and in so much that there was no gentleman in
Germany, prince or man of war, who would not have been glad to do him
pleasure." Francis I. had received him with very chivalrous grace, and
had given him a pension of three thousand livres and handsome presents
for his comrades in adventure; and Sickingen was so charmed that he said
to Fleuranges on leaving Amboise, "The king did not open his heart to me
on the subject of the empire; however, I know all about it, and I beg you
to tell him that I will do his service and keep the oath I gave him."
A more important personage than Sickingen, Leo X., would have been very
glad to have for emperor in Germany neither the King of France nor the
King of Spain, both of them being far too powerful in Europe and far too
emulous in Italy not to be dangerous enemies or inconvenient allies for
him; and he tried to dissuade Francis I. from making any claim to the
empire, and to induce him to employ his influence in bringing about the
election of a second-rate German prince, Frederick the Wise, Duke of
Saxony, who was justly popular in Germany, and who would never be in a
condition to do France any harm. It was judicious advice and a policy
good for France as well as for Europe in general; but Francis I.,
infatuated by his desire and his hope, did not relish it at all; and Leo
X., being obliged to choose between the two great claimants, declared for
Francis I., without any pleasure or confidence, but also without any
great perplexity, for he had but little faith in the success which he
made a show of desiring. Francis, deceived by these appearances and
promises, on the part both of ecclesiastics and laics, held language
breathing a gallant and almost careless confidence. "We are not enemies,
your master and I," he said to the ambassadors of Spain; "we are two
lovers courting the same mistress: whichever of the two she may prefer,
the other will have to submit, and harbor no resentment." But when,
shortly after Maximilian's death, the struggle became closer and the
issue nearer, the inequality between the forces and chances of the two
rivals became quite manifest, and Francis I. could no longer affect the
same serenity. He had intrusted the management of his affairs in Germany
to a favorite comrade of his early youth, Admiral de Bonnivet, a soldier
and a courtier, witty, rash, sumptuous, eager to display his master's
power and magnificence. Charles of Austria's agents, and at their head
his aunt Margaret, who had the government of the Low Countries in his
absence, were experienced, deliberate, discreet, more eager to succeed in
their purpose than to make a brilliant appearance, and resolved to do
quietly whatever was necessary for success. And to do so they were
before long as fully authorized as they were resolved. They discovered
that Francis I. had given Bonnivet four hundred thousand crowns in gold
that he might endeavor to bribe the electors; it was, according to
report, double the sum Charles of Austria had promised for the same
object; and his agents sent him information of it, and received this
answer: "We are wholly determined to spare nothing and to stake all for
all upon it, as the matter we most desire and have most at heart in this
world. . . . The election must be secured, whatever it may cost me."
The question before the seven elective princes who were to dispose of the
empire was thenceforth merely which of the two claimants would be the
higher and the safer bidder. Francis I. engaged in a tussle of wealth
and liberality with Charles of Austria. One of his agents wrote to him,
"All will go well if we can fill the maw of the Margrave Joachim of
Brandenburg; he and his brother the elector from Mayence fall every day
into deeper depths of avarice; we must hasten to satisfy them with
_speed, speed, speed_." Francis I. replied, "I will have Marquis Joachim
_gorged_ at any price;" and he accordingly made over to him in ready
money and bills of short dates all that was asked for by the margrave,
who on the 8th of April, 1519, gave a written undertaking to support the
candidature "of the most invincible and Most Christian prince, Francis,
by the grace of God King of the French, Duke of Milan, and Lord of Genoa,
who, what with his vigorous age, his ability, his justice, his military
experience, the brilliant fortune of his arms, and all other qualities
required for war and the management of the commonwealth, surpasses, in
the judgment of every one, all other Christian princes." But Charles of
Austria did not consider himself beaten because two of the seven electors
displayed avarice and venality. His aunt Margaret and his principal
agent in Germany, the Chamberlain Armerstoff, resumed financial
negotiations with the Archbishop of Mayence, for his brother the margrave
as well as for himself, and the archbishop, without any formal
engagement, accepted the Austrian over-bid. "I am ashamed at his
shamelessness," wrote Armerstorff to Charles. Alternate and antagonistic
bargaining went on thus for more than two months. The Archbishop of
Cologne, Hermann von Wied, kept wavering between the two claimants; but
he was careful to tell John d'Albret, Francis I.'s agent, that "he
sincerely hoped that his Majesty would follow the doctrine of God, who
gave as much to those who went to work in His vineyard towards the middle
of the day as to those who had been at it all the morning." Duke
Frederick of Saxony was the only one of the seven electors who absolutely
refused to make any promise, as well as to accept any offer, and
preserved his independence, as well as his dignity. The rumor of all
these traffickings and these uncertainties rekindled in Henry VIII., King
of England, a fancy for placing himself once more in the ranks; but his
agent, Richard Pace, found the negotiations too far advanced and the
prices too high for him to back up this vain whim of his master's; and
Henry VIII. abandoned it. The diet had been convoked for the 17th of
June at Frankfort. The day was drawing near; and which of the two
parties had the majority was still regarded as, uncertain. Franz von
Sickingen appeared in the outskirts of Frankfort with more than twenty
thousand men of the German army, "whereat marvellously astonished," says
Fleuranges, "were they who wished well to the King of France and very
mightily rejoiced they who wished well to the Catholic king."
The gentleman-adventurer had not been less accessible than the
prince-electors to bribery. The diet opened on the 18th of June. The
Archbishop of Mayence made a great speech in favor of Charles of Austria;
and the Archbishop of Troves spoke in favor of Francis I., to whom he had
remained faithful. Rival intrigues were kept up; Sickingen and his
troops were a clog upon deliberation; the electors were embarrassed and
weary of their dissensions; and the Archbishop of Troves proposed by way
of compromise the election of the Duke of Saxony, Frederick the Wise,
who, at this crisis so shameful for his peers, had just given fresh
proofs of his sound judgment, his honesty, and his patriotic
independence. But Frederick declined the honor it was intended to do
him, and which he considered beyond his powers to support; and he voted
for Archduke Charles, "a real German prince," said he, "the choice of
whom seemed to him most natural in point of right and most suitable in
point of fact under the present circumstances of Europe." The six other
electors gave in to his opinion, and that same day, June 18, 1519,
unanimously elected the King of Spain, Charles, King of the Romans and
Emperor of Germany, with the title of Charles V.

[Illustration: Charles V----39]

Whatever pains were taken by Francis I. to keep up a good appearance
after this heavy reverse, his mortification was profound, and he thought
of nothing but getting his revenge. He flattered himself he would find
something of the sort in a solemn interview and an appearance of alliance
with Henry VIII., King of England, who had, like himself, just undergone
in the election to the empire a less flagrant but an analogous reverse.
It had already, in the previous year and on the occasion of a treaty
concluded between the two kings for the restitution of Tournai to France,
been settled that they should meet before long in token of
reconciliation. Allusion had even been made, at that period, to a much
more important restitution, of Calais in fact, for which Francis I., at
what price we know not, had obtained the advocacy of Cardinal Wolsey, who
was then all-powerful with Henry VIII. "Of what use to Us," Wolsey had
said, "is this town of Calais, where in time of peace as well as of war
we have to keep up such numerous garrisons, which costs us so much money,
and which so often forces us to measures contrary to the real interests
of England?" But this idea was vehemently scouted by the English, and
the coming interview between the two kings remained the sole accessory of
the treaty of 1518. After Charles V.'s election to the empire, Francis
I. was eager to claim this interview, which was sure to cause in Europe
the impression of a close understanding between the two kings before the
very eyes of their common rival. A convention, signed on the 26th of
March, 1520, regulated its details. It was stipulated that the two kings
should meet in Picardy between Guines, an English possession in the
neighborhood of Calais, and Ardres, which belonged to France. But, so
soon as Charles V., at that time in Spain, was informed of this design,
he used all his efforts to make it abortive. Henry, however, stood firm;
not that he had resolved to knit himself closely with Francis I. against
the new emperor, whom, a few months previously, he had shown alacrity in
felicitating upon his accession to the empire, but he was unwilling to
fail in his promise to the King of France, and he liked to assume in
respect of the two rivals the part of an arbiter equally courted by both.
Charles V., still actively working against the interview, entered into
secret negotiation with Cardinal Wolsey to obtain for himself also an
interview with Henry VIII., which would destroy the effect of that in
course of arrangement between the Kings of France and England. In
writing to Wolsey he called him his "very dear friend," and guaranteed
him a pension of seven thousand ducats, secured upon two Spanish
bishoprics; and on the 26th of May, 1520, Henry VIII. received at
Canterbury, as he was passing by on his way to embark at Dover for the
interview in France, the as it were unexpected information that Charles
V. had just arrived with his fleet at the port of Hythe. The king
immediately sent Wolsey to meet the emperor, who disembarked at Dover,
whither Henry went to visit him; and the two sovereigns repaired together
to Canterbury, where they went in state to the cathedral, "resplendent,"
says Erasmus, "with all the precious gifts it had received for so many
centuries, especially with the most precious of all, the chest containing
the remains of Thomas a-Becket, so magnificent that gold was the least of
its ornaments." There they passed three days, treating of their affairs
in the midst of galas, during which Charles V. completely won over Wolsey
by promising to help him to become pope. On the 31st of May, 1520,
Charles, quite easy about the interview in France, embarked at Sandwich
for his Flemish possessions, and Henry VIII. made sail for Calais, his
point of departure to the place agreed upon for Francis to meet him, and
where they had made up their minds, both of them, to display all the
splendors of their two courts.

This meeting has remained celebrated in history far more for its royal
pomp, and for the personal incidents which were connected with it, than
for its political results. It was called _The Field of Cloth of Gold;_
and the courtiers who attended the two sovereigns felt bound to almost
rival them in sumptuousness, "insomuch," says the contemporary Martin du
Bellay, "that many bore thither their mills, their forests, and their
meadows on their backs." Henry VIII. had employed eleven hundred
workmen, the most skilful of Flanders and Holland, in building a
quadrangular palace of wood, one hundred and twenty-eight feet long every
way; on one side of the entrance-gate was a fountain, covered with
gilding, and surmounted by a statue of Bacchus, round which there flowed
through subterranean pipes all sorts of wines, and which bore in letters
of gold the inscription, "Make good cheer, who will;" and on the other
side a column, supported by four lions, was surmounted by a statue of
Cupid armed with bow and arrows. Opposite the palace was erected a huge
figure of a savage wearing the arms of his race, with this inscription,
chosen by Henry VIII.: "He whom I back wins." The frontage was covered
outside with canvas painted to represent freestone; and the inside was
hung with rich tapestries. Francis I., emulous of equalling his royal
neighbor in magnificence, had ordered to be erected close to Ardres an
immense tent, upheld in the middle by a colossal pole firmly fixed in the
ground and with pegs and cordage all around it. Outside, the tent, in
the shape of a dome, was covered with cloth of gold; and, inside, it
represented a sphere with a ground of blue velvet and studded with stars,
like the firmament. At each angle of the large tent there was a small
one equally richly decorated. But before the two sovereigns exchanged
visits, in the midst of all these magnificent preparations, there arose
a violent hurricane, which tore up the pegs and split the cordage of the
French tent, scattered them over the ground, and forced Francis I. to
take up his quarters in an old castle near Ardres. When the two kings'
two chief councillors, Cardinal Wolsey on one side and Admiral Bonnivet
on the other, had regulated the formalities, on the 7th of June, 1520,
Francis I. and Henry VIII. set out on their way, at the same hour and the
same pace, for their meeting in the valley of Ardres, where a tent had
been prepared for them. As they drew near, some slight anxiety was
manifested by the escort of the King of England, amongst whom a belief
prevailed that that of the King of France was more numerous; but it was
soon perceived to be nothing of the sort. The two kings, mounted upon
fine horses and superbly dressed, advanced towards one another; and Henry
VIII.'s horse stumbled, which his servants did not like. The two kings
saluted each other with easy grace, exchanged embraces without getting
off their horses, dismounted, and proceeded arm-in-arm to the tent where
Wolsey and De Bonnivet were awaiting them. "My dear brother and cousin,"
immediately said Francis with his easy grace, "I am come a long way, and
not without trouble, to see you in person. I hope that you hold me for
such as I am, ready to give you aid with the kingdoms and lordships that
are in my power." Henry, with a somewhat cold reserve, replied, "It is
not your kingdoms or your divers possessions that I regard, but the
soundness and loyal observance of the promises set down in the treaties
between you and me. My eyes never beheld a prince who could be dearer to
my heart, and I have crossed the seas at the extreme boundary of my
kingdom to come and see you." The two kings entered the tent and signed
a treaty whereby the Dauphin of France was to marry Princess Mary, only
daughter at that time of Henry VIII., to whom Francis I. undertook to pay
annually a sum of one hundred thousand livres [two million eight hundred
thousand francs, or one hundred and twelve thousand pounds in the money
of our day], until the marriage was celebrated, which would not be for
some time yet, as the English princess was only four years old. The two
kings took wine together, according to custom, and reciprocally presented
the members of their courts. "King Francis," says Henry VIII.'s favorite
chronicler, Edward Hall, who was there, "is an amiable prince, proud in
bearing and gay in manner, with a brown complexion, large eyes, long
nose, thick lips, broad chest and shoulders, short legs, and big feet."
Titian's portrait gives a loftier and more agreeable idea of Francis I.

When the two kings proceeded to sign, in their tent, the treaty they had
just concluded, "the King of England," according to Fleuranges'
_Memoires,_ "himself took up the articles and began to read them. When
he had read those relating to the King of France, who was to have the
priority, and came to speak of himself, he got as far as, 'I, Henry,
King' . . . (he would have said of _France and England_), but he left
out the title as far as France was concerned, and said to King Francis,
'I will not put it in as you are here, for I should lie;' and he said
only, 'I Henry, King of _England_.'" But, as M. Mignet very properly
says, "if he omitted the title in his reading, he left it in the treaty
itself, and, shortly afterwards, was ambitious to render it a reality,
when he invaded France and wished to reign over it."

After the diplomatic stipulations were concluded, the royal meeting was
prolonged for sixteen days, which were employed in tourneys, jousts, and
all manner of festivals. The personal communication of the two kings was
regulated with all the precautions of official mistrust and restraint;
and when the King of England went to Ardres to see the Queen of France,
the King of France had to go to Guines to see the Queen of England, for
the two kings were hostages for one another. "The King of France, who
was not a suspicious man," says Fleuranges, "was mighty vexed at there
being so little confidence in one another. He got up one morning very
early, which is not his habit, took two gentlemen and a page, the first
three he could find, mounted his horse, and went to visit the King of
England at the castle of Guines. When he came on to the castle-bridge,
all the English were mighty astonished. As he rode amongst them, the
king gayly called upon them to surrender to him, and asked them the way
to the chamber of the king his brother, the which was pointed out to him
by the governor of Guines, who said to him, 'Sir, he is not awake.' But
King Francis passed on all the same, went up to the said chamber, knocked
at the door, awoke the King of England, and walked in.

[Illustration: Francis I. surprises Henry VIII.----44]

Never was man more dumbfounded than King Henry, who said to King Francis,
'Brother, you have done me a better turn than ever man did to another,
and you show me the great trust I ought to have in you. I yield myself
your prisoner from this moment, and I proffer you my parole.' He undid
from his neck a collar worth fifteen thousand angels, and begged the King
of France to take it and wear it that very day for his prisoner's sake.
And, lo, the king, who wished to do him the same turn, had brought with
him a bracelet which was worth more than thirty thousand angels, and
begged him to wear it for his sake, which thing he did, and the King of
France put what had been given him on his neck. Thereupon the King of
England was minded to get up, and the King of France said that he should
have no other chamber-attendant but himself, and he warmed his shirt and
handed it to him when he was up. The King of France made up his mind to
go back, notwithstanding that the King of England would have kept him to
dinner; but, inasmuch as there was to be jousting after dinner, he
mounted his horse and went back to Ardres. He met a many good folk who
were coming to meet him, amongst the rest l'Aventureux [a name given to
Fleuranges himself], who said to him, 'My dear master, you are mad to
have done what you have done; I am very glad to see you back here, and
devil take him who counselled you.' Whereupon the king said that never a
soul had counselled him, and that he knew well that there was not a soul
in his kingdom who would have so counselled him; and then he began to
tell what he had done at the said Guines, and so returned, conversing, to
Ardres, for it was not far."

"Then began the jousts, which lasted a week, and were wondrous fine, both
a-foot and a-horseback. After all these pastimes the King of France and
the King of England retired to a pavilion, where they drank together.
And there the King of England took the King of France by the collar, and
said to him, 'Brother, I should like to wrestle with you,' and gave him a
feint or two; and the King of France, who is a mighty good wrestler, gave
him a turn and threw him on the ground. And the King of England would
have had yet another trial; but all that was broken off, and it was time
to go to supper. After this they had yet three or four jousts and
banquets, and then they took leave of one another [on the 24th of June,
1520], with the greatest possible peace between the princes and
princesses. That done, the King of England returned to Guines, and the
King of France to France; and it was not without giving great gifts at
parting, one to another." [_Memoires de Fleuranges,_ pp. 349-363.]

[Illustration: The Field of the Cloth of Gold----45]

Having left the Field of Cloth of Gold for Amboise, his favorite
residence, Francis I. discovered that Henry VIII., instead of returning
direct to England, had gone, on the 10th of July, to Gravelines, in
Flanders, to pay a visit to Charles V., who had afterwards accompanied
him to Calais. The two sovereigns had spent three days there, and
Charles V., on separating from the King of England, had commissioned him
to regulate, as arbiter, all difficulties that might arise between
himself and the King of France. Assuredly nothing was less calculated to
inspire Francis I. with confidence in the results of his meeting with
Henry VIII. and of their mutual courtesies. Though he desired to avoid
the appearance of taking the initiative in war, he sought every occasion
and pretext for recommencing it; and it was not long before he found them
in the Low Countries, in Navarre, and in Italy. A trial was made of
Henry VIII.'s mediation and of a conference at Calais; and a discussion
was raised touching the legitimate nature of the protection afforded by
the two rival sovereigns to their petty allies. But the real fact was,
that Francis I. had a reverse to make up for and a passion to gratify;
and the struggle recommenced in April, 1521, in the Low Countries.
Charles V., when he heard that the French had crossed his frontier,
exclaimed, "God be praised that I am not the first to commence the war,
and that the King of France is pleased to make me greater than I am, for,
in a little while, either I shall be a very poor emperor or he will be a
poor King of France." The campaign opened in the north, to the advantage
of France, by the capture of Hesdin; Admiral Bonnivet, who had the
command on the frontier of Spain, reduced some small forts of Biscay and
the fortress of Fontarabia; and Marshal de Lautrec, governor of Milaness,
had orders to set out at once to go and defend it against the Spaniards
and Imperialists, who were concentrating for its invasion.

Lautrec was but little adapted for this important commission. He had
been made governor of Milaness in August, 1516, to replace the Constable
de Bourbon, whose recall to France the queen-mother, Louise of Savoy, had
desired and stimulated. Lautrec had succeeded ill in his government. He
was active and brave, but he was harsh, haughty, jealous, imperious, and
grasping; and he had embroiled himself with most of the Milanese lords,
amongst others with the veteran J. J. Trivulzio, who, under Charles VIII.
and Louis XII., had done France such great service in Italy. Trivulzio,
offensively treated at Milan, and subjected to accusations at Paris,
went, at eighty-two years of age, to France to justify himself before the
king; but Francis I. gave him a cold reception, barely spoke to him, and
declined his explanations. One day, at Arpajon, Trivulzio heard that the
king was to pass on horseback through the town; and, being unable to
walk, had himself carried, ill as he was, in his chair to the middle of
the street. The king passed with averted head, and without replying to
Trivulzio, who cried, "Sir, ah! sir, just one moment's audience!"
Trivulzio, on reaching home, took to his bed, and died there a month
afterwards, on the 5th of December, 1518, having himself dictated this
epitaph, which was inscribed on his tomb, at Milan, "J. J. Trivulzio, son
of Anthony: he who never rested, rests. Hush!" [_J. J. Trivultius,
Antonii filius, qui nunquam quievit, quiescit. Tace!_]

Francis I., when informed that Trivulzio was near his end, regretted, it
is said, his harsh indifference, and sent to express to him his regret;
but, "It is too late," answered the dying man. In the king's harshness
there was something more than ungrateful forgetfulness of a veteran's
ancient services. While Francis was bringing about a renewal of war in
Italy, in the Low Countries, and on the frontier of Spain, he was
abandoning himself at Paris, Tours, Amboise, and wherever he resided, to
all the diversions and all the enticements of the brilliant court which
was gathered around him. Extravagance and pleasure were a passion with
him. "There has been talk," says Brantome, "of the great outlay,
magnificence, sumptuousness and halls of Lucullus; but in nought of that
kind did he ever come near our king . . . and what is most rare is,
that in a village, in the forest, at the meet, there was the same service
as there would have been in Paris. . . . One day, when the king was
expecting the Emperor Charles to dinner, word came that he had slipped
away, and had gone to give a sudden surprise to the constable, just as he
was sitting down to table, and to dine with him and all his comrades
comradewise. He found this table as well furnished and supplied, and
laden with victuals as well cooked and flavored, as if they had been in
Paris or some other good city of France; whereat the emperor was so
mightily astonished that he said that there was no such grandeur in the
world as that of such a King of France. . . . In respect of ladies,
of a surety it must be confessed that before the time of King Francis
they set foot in and frequented the court but little and in but small
numbers. It is true that Queen Anne (of Brittany) began to make her
ladies' court larger than it had been under former queens; and, without
her, the king her husband (Louis XII.) would have taken no trouble about
it. But Francis I., coming to reign, and considering that the whole
grace of the court was the ladies, was pleased to fill it up with them
more than had been the ancient custom. Since, in truth, a court without
ladies is a garden without any pretty flowers, and more resembles a
Satrap's or a Turk's court than that of a great Christian king. . . .
As for me, I hold that there was never anything better introduced than
the ladies' court. Full often have I seen our kings go to camp, or town,
or elsewhither, remain there and divert themselves for some days, and yet
take thither no ladies. But we were so bewildered, so lost, so moped,
that for the week we spent away from them and their pretty eyes it
appeared to us a year; and always a-wishing, 'When shall we be at the
court?' Not, full often, calling that the court where the king was, but
that where the queen and ladies were." [_OEuvres de Brantome, edition of
the Societe de l'Histoire de France,_ t. iii. pp. 120-129.]

Now, when so many fair ladies are met together in a life of sumptuousness
and gayety, a king is pretty sure to find favorites, and royal favorites
rarely content themselves with pleasing the king; they desire to make
their favor serviceable their family and their friends. Francis I. had
made choice one, Frances de Foix, countess of Chateaubriant, beautiful
ambitious, dexterous, haughty, readily venturing upon rivalry with even
the powerful queen-mother. She had three brothers; Lautrec was one of
the three, and she supported him in all his pretensions and all his
trials of fortune. When he set out to go and take the command in Italy,
he found himself at the head of an army numerous indeed, but badly
equipped, badly paid, and at grips with Prosper Colonna, the most able
amongst the chiefs of the coalition formed at this juncture between
Charles V. and Pope Leo X. against the French. Lautrec did not succeed
in preventing Milan from falling into the hands of the Imperialists, and,
after an uncertain campaign of some months' duration, he lost at La
Bicocca, near Monza, on the 27th of April, 1522, a battle, which left in
the power of Francis I., in Lombardy, only the citadels of Milan,
Cremona, and Novara. At the news of these reverses, Francis I. repaired
to Lyons, to consult as to the means of applying a remedy. Lautrec also
arrived there. "The king," says Martin du Bellay, "gave him a bad
reception, as the man by whose fault he considered he had lost his duchy
of Milan, and would not speak to him." Lautrec found an occasion for
addressing the king, and complained vehemently of "the black looks he
gave him." "And good reason," said the king, "when you have lost me such
a heritage as the duchy of Milan." "'Twas not I who lost it," answered
Lautrec; "'twas your Majesty yourself: I several times warned you that,
if I were not helped with money, there was no means of retaining the
men-at-arms, who had served for eighteen months without a penny, and
likewise the Swiss, who forced me to fight at a disadvantage, which they
would never have done if they had received their pay." "I sent you four
hundred thousand crowns when you asked for them." "I received the
letters in which your Majesty notified me of this money, but the money
never." The king sent at once for the superintendent-general of finance,
James de Beaune, Baron of Semblancay, who acknowledged having received
orders on the subject from the king, but added that at the very moment
when he was about to send this sum to the army, the queen-mother had come
and asked him for it, and had received it from him, whereof he was ready
to make oath. Francis I. entered his mother's room in a rage,
reproaching her with having been the cause of losing him his duchy of
Milan. "I should never have believed it of you," he said, "that you would
have kept money ordered for the service of my army." The queen-mother,
somewhat confused at first, excused herself by saying, that "those were
moneys proceeding from the savings which she had made out of her
revenues, and had given to the superintendent to take care of."
Semblancay stuck to what he had said. The question became a personal one
between the queen-mother and the minister; and commissioners were
appointed to decide the difference. Chancellor Duprat was the docile
servant of Louise of Savoy and the enemy of Semblancay, whose authority
in financial matters he envied; and he chose the commissioners from
amongst the mushroom councillors he had lately brought into Parliament.
The question between the queen-mother and the superintendent led to
nothing less than the trial of Semblancay. The trial lasted five years,
and, on the 9th of April, 1527, a decree of Parliament condemned
Semblancay to the punishment of death and confiscation of all his
property; not for the particular matter which had been the origin of the
quarrel, but "as attained and convicted of larcenies, falsifications,
abuses, malversations, and maladministration of the king's finances,
without prejudice as to the debt claimed by the said my lady, the mother
of the king." Semblancay, accordingly, was hanged on the gibbet of
Montfaucon, on the 12th of August. In spite of certain ambiguities which
arose touching some acts of his administration and some details of his
trial, public feeling was generally and very strongly in his favor. He
was an old and faithful servant of the crown; and Francis I. had for a
long time called him "his father." He was evidently the victim of the
queen-mother's greed and vengeance. The firmness of his behavior, at the
time of his execution, became a popular theme in the verses of Clement
Marot:--

When Maillart, officer of hell, escorted
To Montfaucon Semblancay, doomed to die,
Which, to your thinking, of the twain supported
The better havior? I will make reply:
Maillart was like the man to death proceeding;
And Semblancay so stout an ancient looked,
It seemed, forsooth, as if himself were leading
Lieutenant Maillard--to the gallows booked!

It is said that, at the very moment of execution, Semblancay, waiting on
the scaffold for at least a commutation of the penalty, said, "Had I
served God as I have served the king, He would not have made me wait so
long." Nearly two centuries later, in 1683, a more celebrated minister
than Semblancay, Colbert, in fact, as he was dying tranquilly in his bed,
after having for twenty years served Louis XIV., and in that service made
the fortune of his family as well as his own, said also, "Had I done for
God what I have done for yonder man, I had been twice saved; and now I
know not what will become of me." A striking similarity in language and
sentiment, in spite of such different ends, between two great councillors
of kings, both devoted during their lives to the affairs of the world,
and both passing, at their last hour, this severe judgment, as
Christians, upon the masters of the world and upon themselves.

About the same time the government of Francis I. was involved, through
his mother's evil passions, not in an act more morally shameful, but in
an event more politically serious, than the execution of Semblancay.
There remained in France one puissant prince, the last of the feudal
semi-sovereigns, and the head of that only one of the provincial
dynasties sprung from the dynasty of the Capetians which still held its
own against the kingly house. There were no more Dukes of Burgundy,
Dukes of Anjou, Counts of Provence, and Dukes of Brittany; by good
fortune or by dexterous management the French kingship had absorbed all
those kindred and rival states. Charles II., Duke of Bourbon, alone was
invested with such power and independence as could lead to rivalry. He
was in possession of Bourbonness, of Auvergne, of Le Forez, of La Marche,
of Beaujolais, and a large number of domains and castles in different
parts of France. Throughout all these possessions he levied taxes and
troops, convoked the local estates, appointed the officers of justice,
and regulated almost the whole social organism. He was born on the 10th
of February, 1490, four years before Francis I.; he was the head of the
younger branch of the Bourbons-Montpensier; and he had married, in 1515,
his cousin, Suzanne of Bourbon, only daughter of Peter II., head of the
elder branch, and Anne of France, the able and for a long while puissant
daughter of Louis XI. Louis XII. had taken great interest in this
marriage, and it had been stipulated in the contract "that the pair
should make a mutual and general settlement of all their possessions in
favor of the survivor." Thus the young duke, Charles, had united all the
possessions of the house of Bourbon; and he held at Moulins a brilliant
princely court, of which he was himself the most brilliant ornament.
Having been trained from his boyhood in all chivalrous qualities, he was
an accomplished knight before becoming a tried warrior; and he no sooner
appeared upon the field of battle than he won renown not only as a
valiant prince, but as an eminent soldier. In 1509, at the battle of
Agnadello, under the eye of Louis XII. himself, he showed that he was a
worthy pupil of La Tremoille, of La Palice, and of Bayard; and in 1512,
at that of Ravenna, his reputation was already so well established in the
army that, when Gaston de Foix was killed, they clamored for Duke Charles
of Bourbon, then twenty-two years old, as his successor. Louis XII.
gave him full credit for his bravery and his warlike abilities; but the
young prince's unexpansive character, haughty independence, and momentary
flashes of audacity, caused the veteran king some disquietude. "I wish,"
said he, "he had a more open, more gay, less taciturn spirit; stagnant
water affrights me." In 1516, the year after Louis XII.'s death, Andrew
Trevisani, Venetian ambassador at Milan, wrote to the Venetian council,
"This Duke of Bourbon handles a sword most gallantly and successfully; he
fears God, he is devout, humane, and very generous; he has a revenue of
one hundred and twenty thousand crowns, twenty thousand from his
mother-in-law, Anne of France, and two thousand a month as constable of
France; and, according to what is said by M. de Longueville, governor of
Paris, he might dispose of half the king's army for any enterprise he
pleased, even if the king did not please."

Scarcely had Francis I. ascended the throne, on the 12th of January,
1515, when he made the Duke of Bourbon's great position still greater by
creating him constable of France. Was it solely to attach to himself the
greatest lord and one of the most distinguished soldiers of the kingdom,
or had, perhaps, as has already been hinted, the favor of the
queen-mother something to do with the duke's speedy elevation? The whole
history of Charles of Bourbon tends to a belief that the feelings of
Louise of Savoy towards him, her love or her hate, had great influence
upon the decisive incidents of his life. However that may be, the young
constable, from the moment of entering upon his office, fully justified
the king's choice.

[Illustration: The Constable de Bourbon----53]

He it was who, during the first campaign in Italy, examined in person,
with the shepherd who had pointed it out, an unknown passage across the
Alps; and, on the 13th and 14th of September, he contributed greatly to
the victory of Melegnano. "I can assure you," wrote Francis I. to his
mother, the regent, "that my brother the constable and M. de St. Pol
splintered as many lances as any gentlemen of the company whosoever; and
I speak of this as one who saw; they spared themselves as little as if
they had been wild boars at bay." On returning to France the king
appointed the constable governor of conquered Milaness; and to give him a
further mark of favor, "he granted him the noble privilege of founding
trades in all the towns of the kingdom. This, when the Parliament
enregistered the king's letters patent, was expressly stated to be in
consideration of Bourbon's extraordinary worth, combined with his quality
as a prince of the blood, and not because of his office of constable."
[_Histoire de la Maison de Bourbon,_ by M. Desormeaux, t. ii. p. 437.]
The constable showed that he was as capable of governing as of
conquering. He foiled all Emperor Maximilian's attempts to recover
Milaness; and, not receiving from the king money for the maintenance and
pay of his troops, he himself advanced one hundred thousand livres,
opened a loan-account in his own name, raised an army-working-corps of
six thousand men to repair the fortifications of Milan, and obtained from
the Swiss cantons permission to enlist twelve thousand recruits amongst
them. His exercise of authority over the Lombard population was
sometimes harsh, but always judicious and efficient. Nevertheless, in
the spring of 1516, eight months after the victory of Melegnano and but
two months after he had driven Emperor Maximilian from Milaness, the Duke
of Bourbon was suddenly recalled, and Marshal de Lautrec was appointed
governor in his place. When the constable arrived at Lyons, where the
court then happened to be, "the king," says Fleuranges in his Memoires,
"gave him marvellously good welcome;" but kings are too ready to imagine
that their gracious words suffice to hide or make up for their acts of
real disfavor; and the Duke of Bourbon was too proud to delude himself.
If he had any desire to do so, the way in which the king's government
treated him soon revealed to him his real position: the advances he had
made and the debts he had contracted for the service of the crown in
Milaness, nay, his salary as constable and his personal pensions, were
unpaid. Was this the effect of secret wrath on the part of the
queen-mother, hurt because he seemed to disdain her good graces, or an
act arising may be from mistrust and may be from carelessness on the
king's part, or merely a result of the financial disorder into which the
affairs of Francis I. were always falling? These questions cannot be
solved with certainty. Anyhow the constable, though thus maltreated,
did not cry out; but his royal patroness and mother-in-law, Anne of
France, daughter of Louis XI., dowager-duchess of the house of Bourbon,
complained of these proceedings to the king's mother, and uttered the
word ingratitude. The dispute between the two princesses grew rancorous;
the king intervened to reconcile them; speedy payment was promised of
all that was due to the constable, but the promise was not kept. The
constable did not consider it seemly to wait about; so he quitted the
court and withdrew into his own duchy, to Moulins, not openly disgraced,
but resolved to set himself, by his proud independence, above the reach
of ill-will, whether on the king's part or his mother's.

Moulins was an almost kingly residence. "The dukes," said the Venetian
traveller Andrew Navagero, in 1528, "have built there fortress-wise a
magnificent palace, with beautiful gardens, groves, fountains, and all
the sumptuous appliances of a prince's dwelling." No sooner did the
constable go to reside there than numbers of the nobility flocked thither
around him. The feudal splendor of this abode was shortly afterwards
enhanced by an auspicious domestic incident. In 1517 the Duchess of
Bourbon was confined there of a son, a blessing for some time past
unhoped for. The delighted constable determined to make of the child's
baptism a great and striking event; and he begged the king to come and be
godfather, with the dowager Duchess of Bourbon as godmother. Francis I.
consented and repaired to Moulins with his mother and nearly all his
court. The constable's magnificence astonished even the magnificent king
"five hundred gentlemen, all clad in velvet, and all wearing a chain of
gold going three times round the neck," were in habitual attendance upon
the duke; "the throng of the invited was so great that neither the castle
of Moulins nor the town itself sufficed to lodge them; tents had to be
pitched in the public places, in the streets, in the park." Francis I.
could not refrain from saying that a King of France would have much
difficulty in making such a show; the queen-mother did not hide her
jealousy; regal temper came into collision with feudal pride. Admiral
Bonnivet, a vassal of the constable and a favorite of the king, was
having built, hard by Chatellerault, a castle so vast and so magnificent,
"that he seemed," says Brantome, "to be minded to ride the high horse
over the house of M. de Bourbon, in such wise that it should appear only
a nest beside his own." Francis I., during a royal promenade, took the
constable one day to see the edifice the admiral was building, and asked
him what he thought of it. "I think," said Bourbon, "that the cage is
too big and too fine for the bird." "Ah!" said the king, "do you not
speak with somewhat of envy?" "I!" cried the constable; "I feel envy of
a gentleman whose ancestors thought themselves right happy to be squires
to mine!" In their casual and familiar conversations the least pretext
would lead to sharp words between the Duke of Bourbon and his kingly
guest. The king was rallying him one day on the attachment he was
suspected of having felt for a lady of the court. "Sir," said the
constable, "what you have just said has no point for me, but a good deal
for those who were not so forward as I was in the lady's good graces."
[At this period princes of the blood, when speaking to the king, said
Monsieur; when they wrote to him, they called him Monseigneur.] Francis
I., to whom this scarcely veiled allusion referred, was content to reply,
"Ah! my dear cousin, you fly out at everything, and you are mighty
short-tempered." The nickname of short-tempered stuck to the constable
from that day, and not without reason. With anybody but the king the
constable was a good deal more than short-tempered the chancellor,
Duprat, who happened to be at Moulins, and who had a wish to become
possessed of two estates belonging to the constable, tried to worm
himself into his good graces; but Bourbon gave him sternly to understand
with what contempt he regarded him, and Duprat, who had hitherto been
merely the instrument of Louise of Savoy's passions, so far as the duke
was concerned, became henceforth his personal enemy, and did not wait
long for an opportunity of making the full weight of his enmity felt.
The king's visit to Moulins came to an end without any settlement of
the debts due from the royal treasury to the constable. Three years
afterwards, in 1520, he appeared with not a whit the less magnificence
at the Field of Cloth of Gold, where he was one of the two great lords
chosen by Francis I. to accompany him at his interview with Henry VIII.;
but the constable had to put up with the disagreeableness of having for
his associate upon that state occasion Admiral Bonnivet, whom he had but
lately treated with so much hauteur, and his relations towards the court
were by no means improved by the honor which the king conferred upon him
in summoning him to his side that day. Henry VIII., who was struck by
this vassal's haughty bearing and looks, said to Francis I., "If I had a
subject like that in my kingdom, I would not leave his head very long on
his shoulders."

More serious causes of resentment came to aggravate a situation already
so uncomfortable. The war, which had been a-hatching ever since the
imperial election at Frankfort, burst out in 1521, between Francis I.
and Charles V. Francis raised four armies in order to face it on all his
frontiers, in Guienne, in Burgundy, in Champagne, and in Picardy, "where
there was no army," says Du Bellai, "however small." None of these great
commands was given to the Duke of Bourbon; and when the king summoned him
to the army of Picardy, whither he repaired in all haste with six
thousand foot and three hundred men-at-arms raised in his own states,
the command of the advance-guard, which belonged to him by right of his
constableship, was given to the Duke of Alencon, who had nothing to
recommend him beyond the fact that he was the husband of Marguerite de
Valois and brother-in-law of the king. Bourbon deeply resented this
slight; and it was remarked that he frequently quoted with peculiar
meaning a reply made by a Gascon gentleman to King Charles VII., who had
asked him if anything could shake his fidelity, "Nothing, sir, nothing;
not even an offer of three such kingdoms as yours; but an affront might."
The constable did not serve a whit the less valiantly and brilliantly in
this campaign of Picardy; he surprised and carried the town of Hesdin,
which was defended by a strong garrison; but after the victory he treated
with a generosity which was not perhaps free from calculation the
imperialist nobility shut up in the castle; he set all his prisoners at
large, and paid particular attention to the Countess de Roeux, of the
house of Croy, whom he knew to have influence with Charles V. He was
certainly not preparing just then to abandon the King of France and go
over to the camp of the emperor; but he was sufficiently irritated
against Francis I. to gladly seize an opportunity of making new friends
on the rival side.

Meanwhile there occurred the event which was to decide his conduct and
his destiny. His wife, Suzanne of Bourbon, died at Chatellerault, in
April, 1521, after having lost the son whose birth had been celebrated
with such brilliancy at Moulins, and having confirmed by her will the
settlement upon her husband of all her possessions, which had already
been conferred upon him by their marriage contract. From whom came the
first idea of the proposal to which this death was ere long to lead? Was
it the chancellor, Duprat, who told the mother of Francis I. that the
will and the settlement might be disputed at law, and that she would then
enter into possession of a great part of what belonged to the House of
Bourbon? Was it Louise of Savoy herself who conceived the hope of
satisfying at one and the same time her cupidity and the passion she felt
for the constable, by having an offer made to him of her hand, with the
retention secured to him of those great possessions which, otherwise,
would be disputed, and which a decree of Parliament might take away from
him? Between these two explanations of what occurred at that time, there
is no certain choice afforded by historical documents; but the more
reasonable conviction is, that the passion of Louise of Savoy was the
first and the decisive cause of the proposal made to the constable. He
was then thirty years old; Louise of Savoy was forty-five, but she was
still beautiful, attractive, and puissant; she had given the constable
unmistakable proofs of her inclination for him and of the influence which
his inclinations exercised over her: she might well flatter herself that
he would be attracted by the prospect of becoming the king's step-father
and almost a sharer in the kingly power, whilst retaining that of the
great feudal lord. The chancellor, Duprat, full of ability and
servility, put all his knowledge, all his subtlety in argument, and all
his influence in the Parliament at the disposal of Madame Louise, who, as
a nearer relative than the constable, claimed the possessions left by his
wife, Suzanne of Bourbon. Francis I., in the name of the crown, and in
respect of the constable's other possessions, joined his claims to those
of his mother. Thus the lawsuit with which the duke was threatened
affected him in every part of his fortune. It was in vain that more or
less direct overtures, on behalf of Madame Louise and of the king
himself, were made to induce him to accept the bargain offered: his
refusal was expressed and given with an open contempt that verged upon
coarseness. "I will never," said he, "marry a woman devoid of modesty."

The lawsuit was begun and prosecuted with all the hatred of a great lady
treated with contempt, and with all the knowingness of an unscrupulous
lawyer eager to serve, in point of fact, his patroness, and to
demonstrate, in point of law, the thesis he had advanced. Francis I.,
volatile, reckless, and ever helpless as he was against the passions of
his mother, who whilst she adored, beguiled him, readily lent himself to
the humiliation of a vassal who was almost his rival in puissance, and
certainly was in glory. Three lawyers of renown entered upon the
struggle. Poyet maintained the pretensions of the queen-mother; Lizet
developed Duprat's argument in favor of the king's claims; Montholon
defended the constable. The Parliament granted several adjournments,
and the question was in suspense for eleven months. At last, in August,
1523, the court interest was triumphant; Parliament, to get rid of direct
responsibility, referred the parties, as to the basis of the question, to
the king's council; but it placed all the constable's possessions under
sequestration, withdrawing the enjoyment of them wholly from him. A few
years afterwards Poyet became chancellor, and Lizet premier-president of
Parliament. "Worth alone," say the historians, "carved out for Montholon
at a later period the road to the office of keeper of the seals."

The constable's fall and ruin were complete. He at an early stage had a
presentiment that such would be the issue of his lawsuit, and sought for
safeguards away from France. The affair was causing great stir in
Europe. Was it, however, Charles V. who made the first overtures as the
most efficient supporter the constable could have? Or was it the
constable himself who, profiting by the relations he had established
after the capture of Hesdin with the Croys, persons of influence with the
emperor, made use of them for getting into direct communication with
Charles V., and made offer of his services in exchange for protection
against his own king and his own country? In such circumstances and in
the case of such men the sources of crime are always surrounded with
obscurity. One is inclined to believe that Charles V., vigilant and
active as he was, put out the first feelers. As soon as he heard that
Bourbon was a widower, he gave instructions to Philibert Naturelli, his
ambassador in France, who said, "Sir, you are now in a position to marry,
and the emperor, my master, who is very fond of you, has a sister
touching whom I have orders to speak to you if you will be pleased to
hearken." It was to Charles V.'s eldest sister, Eleanor, widow of Manuel
the Fortunate, King of Portugal, that allusion was made. This overture
led to nothing at the time; but the next year, in 1522, war was declared
between Francis I. and Charles V.; the rupture between Francis I. and the
Duke of Bourbon took place; the Bourbon lawsuit was begun; and the duke's
mother-in-law, Anne of France, daughter of Louis XI., more concerned for
the fate of her House than for that of her country, and feeling herself
near her end, said one day to her son-in-law, "My son, reflect that the
House of Bourbon made alliance with the House of Burgundy, and that
during that alliance it always prospered. You see at the present moment
what is the state of our affairs, and the lawsuit in which you are
involved is proceeded with only for want of alliances. I do beg and
command you to accept the emperor's alliance. Promise me to use thereto
all the diligence you can, and I shall die more easy." She died on the
14th of November, 1522, bequeathing all her possessions to the constable,
who was day by day more disposed to follow her counsels. In the summer
of 1522, he had, through the agency of Adrian de Croy, Lord of Beaurain,
entered into negotiations not only with Charles V., but also with Henry
VIII., King of England, deploring the ill behavior of Francis I. and the
enormity of existing abuses, and proposing to set on foot in his own
possessions a powerful movement for the reformation of the kingdom and
the relief of the poor people, if the two sovereigns would send "persons
of trust and authority into the vicinity of his principality of Dombes,
to Bourg-en-Bresse, whither he on his side would send his chancellor to
come to an agreement with them and act in common." In the month of
March, 1523, whilst the foreign negotiations thus commenced and the
home-process against the constable were pursuing a parallel course,
Bourbon one day paid a visit to Queen Claude of France at the hour when
she was dining alone. She was favorably disposed towards him, and would
have liked to get him married to her sister Renee, who subsequently
became Duchess of Ferrara. She made him sit down. Francis I., who was
at dinner in an adjacent room, came in. Bourbon rose to take leave.
"Nay, keep your seat," said the king; "and so it is true that you are
going to be married?" "Not at all, sir." "O, but I know it; I am sure
of it; I know of your dealings with the emperor. And bear well in mind
what I have to say to you on the subject." "Sir! is this a threat, pray?
I have not deserved such treatment." After dinner he departed and went
back to his hotel hard by the Louvre; and many gentlemen who happened to
be at court accompanied him by way of escort. He was as yet a powerful
vassal, who was considered to be unjustly persecuted.

Charles V. accepted eagerly the overtures made to him by Bourbon in
response to his own; but, before engaging in action, he wished to be
certified about the disposition of Henry VIII., King of England, and he
sent Beaurain to England to take accurate soundings. Henry at first
showed hesitation. When, Beaurain set before him all the advantages that
would accrue to their coalition from the Duke of Bourbon's alliance: "And
I," said the king, brusquely, "what, pray, shall I get?" "Sir," answered
Beaurain, "you will be King of France." "Ah!" rejoined Henry, "it will
take a great deal to make M. de Bourbon obey me." Henry remembered the
cold and proud bearing which the constable had maintained towards him at
the Field of Cloth of Gold. He, nevertheless, engaged to supply half the
expenses and a body of troops for the projected invasion of France.
Charles V. immediately despatched Beaurain to the Duke of Bourbon, who
had removed to Montbrison, in the most mountainous part of his domains,
on pretext of a pilgrimage to Notre-Dame du Puy. Beaurain was conducted
thither, in great secrecy, on the 17th July, 1523, by two of the duke's
gentlemen, and passed two days there shut up in a room adjoining the
constable's apartment, never emerging save at night to transact business
with him. On the 18th of July, in the evening, he put into Bourbon's
hands his letters of credit, running thus: "My dear cousin, I send to you
Sieur de Beaurain, my second chamberlain. I pray you to consider him as
myself, and, so doing, you will find me ever your good cousin and
friend." The negotiation was speedy. Many historians have said that it
was confined to verbal conventions, and that there was nothing in writing
between the two contracting parties. That is a mistake. A treaty was
drawn up in brief terms by Beaurain's secretary, and two copies were
made, of which one was to be taken to Charles V. and the other to be
left with the Duke of Bourbon. It stipulated the mutual obligations of
the three contracting parties in their offensive and defensive league.
Bourbon engaged to attack Francis I. but he would not promise to
acknowledge Henry VIII. as King of France. "I am quite willing to be his
ally," he said, "but his subject, his vassal, no! All I can do is to
leave myself, as to my relations towards him, in the emperor's hands."
A strange and noble relic of patriotism in that violent and haughty soul,
more concerned for its rights than its duties, and driven to extremity by
the acts of ungrateful and unthoughtful injustice, to which the great
lord and the valiant warrior had been subjected. The treaty having been
signed with this reservation, Bourbon sent, about midnight, for
Saint-Bonnet, Lord of Branon, whom he intended to despatch to Charles
V., and, after having sworn him, "I send you," said he, "to the emperor,
to whom you will say that I commend myself humbly to his good graces,
that I beg him to give me his sister in marriage, and that, doing me
this honor, he will find me his servant, his good brother, and friend."

The fatal step was taken. Bourbon was now engaged in revolt against his
king and his country, as well as in falsehood and treason--preliminary
conditions of such a course. He needed tools and accomplices; and though
he had a numerous and devoted following, he could not feel sure of them
all for such a purpose. The very day after the conclusion of his treaty
with Charles V., one of his most intimate and important confidants, John
of Poitiers, Lord of St. Vallier, who was present at Montbrison during
the negotiation of the treaty, said to him in the morning, "Sir, it was
your wish; I heard all; and I spent the whole night thinking about it;
tell me, I pray you, do you feel sure of your friend?" "I was not more
fond of the brother I lost at Melegnano," said the constable; "I should
not have felt more sure of him." "Well, then," rejoined St. Vallier,
"fancy that it is that brother who is speaking to you, and take in good
part what he is about to say to you. This alliance which is offered to
you will bring upon France the Germans, the Spaniards, and the English;
think of the great mischief which will ensue--human bloodshed,
destruction of towns, of good families and of churches, violation of
women, and other calamities that come of war. Reflect also on the great
treason you are committing; when the king has started for Italy and left
you in France, putting his trust in you, you will go and stab him in the
back, and destroy him as well as his kingdom. You belong to the House of
France, and are one of the chief princes of the country, so beloved and
esteemed by all that everybody is gladdened at the very sight of you. If
you should come to be the cause of so great ruin, you will be the most
accursed creature that ever was, accursed for a thousand years after your
death. For the love of God consider all this; and if you have no regard
for the king and Madame his mother, who, you say, are treating you
wrongfully, at least have some regard for the queen and the princes her
children, and do not wilfully cause the perdition of this kingdom, whose
enemies, when you have let them into it, will drive you out of it
yourself." "But, cousin," said the constable, quite overcome, "what
would you have me to do? The king and Madame mean to destroy me; they
have already taken away a part of my possessions." "Sir," replied
Saint-Vallier, "give up, I pray you, all these wicked enterprises; commend
yourself to God, and speak frankly to the king." If we are to believe
Saint-Vallier's deposition, when, six months afterwards, he was put on
his trial and convicted for his participation in the plot and treason,
the constable was sufficiently affected by his representations to promise
that he would abandon his design and make his peace with the king: but
facts refute this assertion. In the latter months of 1523, the
stipulations of the treaty concluded at Montbrison on the 18th of July
were put into execution by all the contracting parties; letters of
exchange from Henry VIII. were sent to Bale for the German lanzknechts he
was to pay; the lanzknechts crossed the Rhine on the 26th of August, and
marched through Franche-Comte in spite of its neutrality; the English
landed at Calais between the 23d and 30th of August, to co-operate with
the Flemings; the Spaniards began the campaign, on the 6th of September,
in the direction of the Pyrenees; and the Duke, of Bourbon on his side
took all the necessary measures for forming a junction with his allies,
and playing that part in the coalition which had been assigned to him.

According to what appears, he had harbored a design of commencing his
enterprise with a very bold stroke. Being informed that Francis I. was
preparing to go in person and wage war upon Italy, he had resolved to
carry him off on the road to Lyons, and, when once he had the king in his
hands, he flattered himself he would do as he pleased with the kingdom.
If his attempt were unsuccessful, be would bide his time until Francis I.
was engaged in Milaness, Charles V. had entered Guienne, and Henry VIII.
was in Picardy: he would then assemble a thousand men-at-arms, six
thousand foot and twelve thousand lanzknechts, and would make for the
Alps to cut the king off from any communication with France. This plan
rested upon the assumption that the king would, as he had announced,
leave the constable in France with an honorable title and an apparent
share in the government of the kingdom, though really isolated and
debarred from action. But Francis had full cognizance of the details of
the conspiracy through two Norman gentlemen whom the constable had
imprudently tried to get to join in it, and who, not content with
refusing, had revealed the matter at confession to the Bishop of Lisieux,
who had lost no time in giving information to Sire de Breze, grand
seneschal of Normandy. Breze at once reported it to the king, and his
letter ran: "Sir, there is need also to take care of yourself, for there
has been talk of an attempt to carry you off between here and Lyons, and
conduct you to a strong place in the Bourbon district or on the borders
of Auvergne." Being at last seriously disquieted for the consequences of
his behavior towards the constable, Francis took two resolutions: one
was, not to leave him in France during his own absence; the other was,
to go and see him at Moulins, at the same time taking all necessary
precautions for his own safety, and win him over once more by announcing
an intention of taking him off to Italy and sharing with him the command
of the army. On approaching Moulins the king recalled the lanzknechts
who had already passed the town, entered it himself surrounded by his
guards, and took up his quarters in the castle, of which he seized the
keys. At his first interview with the constable, who was slightly
indisposed and pretended to be very much so, "I know," said he, "that you
are keeping up a connection with the emperor, and that he is trying to
turn your discontent to advantage, so as to beguile you; but I have faith
in you; you are of the House of France and of the line of Bourbon, which
has never produced a traitor." "It is true, sir," said the constable,
without any confusion; "the emperor, informed by public rumor of the
position to which I am reduced, sent Beaurain to offer me an asylum in
his dominions and a fortune suitable to my birth and my rank; but I know
the value of empty compliments. Hearing that your Majesty was to pass by
Moulins, I thought it my duty to wait and disclose this secret to you
myself rather than intrust it to a letter." The king showed signs of
being touched. "I have an idea of taking you away with me to Italy,"
said he: "would you come with me willingly?" "Not only to Italy," was
the answer, "but to the end of the world. The doctors assure me that I
shall soon be in a condition to bear the motion of a litter; I already
feel better; your Majesty's kindnesses will soon complete my cure."
Francis testified his satisfaction. Some of his advisers, with more
distrust and more prevision, pressed him to order the arrest of so
dangerous a man, notwithstanding his protestations; but Francis refused.
According to what some historians say, if he had taken off the
sequestration laid upon the constable's possessions, actually restored
them to him, as well as discharged the debts due to him and paid his
pensions, and carried him off to Italy, if, in a word, he had shown a
bold confidence and given back to him at once and forever the whole of
his position, he would, perhaps, have weaned him from his plot, and would
have won back to himself and to France that brave and powerful servant.
But Francis wavered between distrust and hope; he confined himself to
promising the constable restitution of his possessions if the decree of

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