Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

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

Part 6 out of 8

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.9 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

and difficulty resulting to the position of the crown and the Catholic
party from the death of the Duke of Guise; she considered peace
necessary; and, for reasons of a different nature, Chancellor de
l'Hospital was of the same opinion: he drew attention to "scruples of
conscience, the perils of foreign influence, and the impossibility of
curing by an application of brute force a malady concealed in the very
bowels and brains of the people." Negotiations were entered into with
the two captive generals, the Prince of Conde and the Constable de
Montmorency; they assented to that policy; and, on the 19th of March,
peace was concluded at Amboise in the form of an edict which granted to
the Protestants the concessions recognized as indispensable by the crown
itself, and regulated the relations of the two creeds, pending "the
remedy of time, the decisions of a holy council, and the king's
majority." Liberty of conscience and the practice of the religion
"called Reformed" were recognized "for all barons and lords
high-justiciary, in their houses, with their families and dependants;
for nobles having fiefs without vassals and living on the king's lands,
but for them and their families personally." The burgesses were treated
less favorably; the Reformed worship was maintained in the towns in
which it had been practised up to the 7th of March in the current year;
but, beyond that and noblemen's mansions, this worship might not be
celebrated save in the faubourgs of one single town in every bailiwick
or seneschalty. Paris and its district were to remain exempt from any
exercise of the said "Reformed religion."

During the negotiations and as to the very basis of the edict of March
19, 1563, the Protestants were greatly divided; the soldiers and the
politicians, with Conde at their head, desired peace, and thought that
the concessions made by the Catholics ought to be accepted. The majority
of the Reformed pastors and theologians cried out against the
insufficiency of the concessions, and were astonished that there should
be so much hurry to make peace when the Catholics had just lost their
most formidable captain. Coligny, moderate in his principles, but always
faithful to his church when she made her voice heard, showed
dissatisfaction at the selfishness of the nobles. "To confine the
religion to one town in every bailiwick," he said, "is to ruin more
churches by a stroke of the pen than our enemies could have pulled down
in ten years; the nobles ought to have recollected that example had been
set by the towns to them, and by the poor to the rich." Calvin, in his
correspondence with the Reformed churches of France, severely handled
Conde on this occasion. At the moment when peace was made, the pacific
were in the right; the death of the Duke of Guise had not prevented the
battle of Dreux from being a defeat for the Reformers; and, when war had
to be supported for long, it was especially the provincial nobles and the
people on their estates who bore the burden of it. But when the edict of
Amboise had put an end to the first religious war, when the question was
no longer as to who won or lost battles, but whether the conditions of
that peace to which the Catholics had sworn were loyally observed, and
whether their concessions were effective in insuring the modest amount of
liberty and security promised to the Protestants, the question changed
front, and it was not long before facts put the malcontents in the right.
Between 1563 and 1567 murders of distinguished Protestants increased
strangely, and excited amongst their families anxiety accompanied by a
thirst for vengeance. The Guises and their party, on their side,
persisted in their outcries for proceedings against the instigators,
known or presumed, of the murder of Duke Francis. It was plainly against
Admiral de Coligny that these cries were directed; and he met them by a
second declaration, very frank as a denial of the deed which it was
intended to impute to him, but more hostile than ever to the Guises and
their party. "The late duke," said he, "was of the whole army the man I
had most looked out for on the day of the last battle; if I could have
brought a gun to bear upon him to kill him, I would have done it; I would
have ordered ten thousand arquebusiers, had so many been under my
command, to single him out amongst all the others, whether in the field,
or from over a wall, or from behind a hedge. In short, I would not have
spared any of the means permitted by the laws of war in time of hostility
to get rid of so great an enemy as he was for me and for so many other
good subjects of the king."

After three years of such deadly animosity between the two parties and
the two houses, the king and the queen-mother could find no other way
of stopping an explosion than to call the matter on before the privy
council, and cause to be there drawn up, on the 29th of January, 1566,
a solemn decree, "declaring the admiral's innocence on his own
affirmation, given in the presence of the king and the council as before
God himself, that he had not had anything to do with or approved of the
said homicide. Silence for all time to come was consequently imposed
upon the attorney-general and everybody else; inhibition and prohibition
were issued against the continuance of any investigation or prosecution.
The king took the parties under his safeguard, and enjoined upon them
that they should live amicably in obedience to him." By virtue of this
injunction, the Guises, the Colignies, and the Montmorencies ended by
embracing, the first-named accommodating themselves with a pretty good
grace to this demonstration: "but God knows what embraces!" [Words used
in La Harenga, a satire of the day in burlesque verse upon the Cardinal
of Lorraine.] Six years later the St. Bartholomew brought the true
sentiments out into broad daylight.

At the same time that the war was proceeding amongst the provinces with
this passionate doggedness, royal decrees were alternately confirming and
suppressing or weakening the securities for liberty and safety which the
decree of Amboise, on the 19th of March, 1563, had given to the
Protestants by way of re-establishing peace. It was a series of
contradictory measures which were sufficient to show the party-strife
still raging in the heart of the government. On the 14th of June, 1563,
Protestants were forbidden to work, with shops open, on the days of
Catholic festivals. On the 14th of December, 1563, it was proclaimed
that Protestants might not gather alms for the poor of their religion,
unless in places where that religion was practised, and nowhere else.
On the 24th of June, 1564, a proclamation from the king interdicted the
exercise of the Reformed religion within the precincts of any royal
residence. On the 4th of August, 1564, the Reformed churches were
forbidden to hold synods and make collections of money, and their
ministers to quit their places of residence and to open schools. On the
12th of November, 1567, a king's ordinance interdicted the conferring of
judiciary offices on non-Catholics. In vain did Conde and Coligny cry
out loudly against these violations of the peace of Amboise; in vain, on
the 16th of August, 1563, at the moment of proclaiming the king's
majority, was an edict issued giving full and entire confirmation to the
edict of the 19th of March preceding, with the addition of prescriptions
favorable to the royal authority, as well as, at the same time, to the
maintenance of the public peace; scarcely any portion of these
prescriptions was observed; the credit of Chancellor de l'Hospital was
clearly very much on the decline; and, whilst the legal government was
thus falling to pieces or languishing away, Gaspard de Tavannes, a proved
soldier and royalist, who, however, was not yet marshal of France, was
beginning to organize, under the name of Brotherhood of the Holy Spirit,
a secret society intended to renew the civil war "if it happened that
occasion should offer for repressing and chastising them of the religion
called Reformed." It was the League in its cradle. At the same time,
the king had orders given for a speedy levy of six thousand Swiss, and
an army-corps was being formed on the frontiers of Champagne. The
queen-mother neglected no pains, no caresses, to hide from Conde the true
moving cause at the bottom of all these measures; and as "he was," says
the historian Davila, "by nature very ready to receive all sorts of
impressions," he easily suffered himself to be lulled to sleep. One day,
however, in June, 1567, he thought it about time to claim the fulfilment
of a promise that had been made him at the time of the peace of
Amboise of a post which would give him the rank and authority of
lieutenant-general of the kingdom, as his late brother, the King of
Navarre, had been; and he asked for the sword of constable which
Montmorency, in consequence of his great age, seemed disposed to resign
to the king. Catherine avoided giving any answer; but her favorite son,
Henry, Duke of Anjou, who was as yet only sixteen, repudiated this idea
with so much haughtiness that Conde felt called upon to ask some
explanations; there was no longer any question of war with Spain or of
an army to be got together. "What, pray, will you do," he asked, "with
the Swiss you are raising?" The answer was, "We shall find good
employment for them."

It is the failing of a hypocritical and lying policy, however able, that,
if it do not succeed promptly, a moment arrives when it becomes
transparent and lets in daylight. Even Conde could not delude himself
any longer; the preparations were for war against the Reformers. He
quitted the court to take his stand again with his own party. Coligny,
D'Andelot, La Rochefoucauld, La Noue, and all the accredited leaders
amongst the Protestants, whom his behavior, too full of confidence or of
complaisance towards the court, had shocked or disquieted, went and
joined him. In September, 1567, the second religious war broke out.

It was short, and not decisive for either party. At the outset of the
campaign, success was with the Protestants; forty towns, Orleans,
Montereau, Lagny, Montauban, Castres, Montpellier, Uzes, &c., opened
their gates to them or fell into their hands.

They were within an ace of surprising the king at Monceaux, and he never
forgot, says Montluc, that "the Protestants had made him do the stretch
from Meaux to Paris at something more than a walk." It was around Paris
that Conde concentrated all the efforts of the campaign. He had posted
himself at St. Denis with a small army of four thousand foot and two
thousand horse. The Constable de Montmorency commanded the royal army,
having a strength of sixteen thousand foot and three thousand horse.
Attempts were made to open negotiations; but the constable broke them off
brusquely, roaring out that the king would never tolerate two religions.
On the 10th of November, 1567, the battle began at St. Denis, and was
fought with alternations of partial success and reverse, which spread joy
and sadness through the two hosts in turn; but in resisting a charge of
cavalry, led to victory by Conde, the constable fell with and under his
horse; a Scot called out to him to surrender; for sole response, the aged
warrior, "abandoned by his men, but not by his manhood," says D'Aubigne,
smashed the Scot's jaw with the pommel of his broken sword; and at the
same moment he fell mortally wounded by a shot through the body. His
death left the victory uncertain and the royal army disorganized. The
campaign lasted still four months, thanks to the energetic perseverance
of Coligny and the inexhaustible spirits of Conde, both of whom excelled
in the art of keeping up the courage of their men. "Where are you taking
us now?" asked an ill-tempered officer one day. "To meet our German
allies," said Conde. "And suppose we don't find them?" "Then we will
breathe on our fingers, for it is mighty cold." They did at last, at
Pont-a-Mousson, meet the German re-enforcements, which were being brought
up by Prince John Casimir, son of the elector-palatine, and which made
Conde's army strong enough for him to continue the war in earnest. But
these new comers declared that they would not march any farther unless
they were paid the hundred thousand crowns due to them. Conde had but
two thousand. "Thereupon," says La Noue, "was there nothing for it but
to make a virtue of necessity; and he as well as the admiral employed all
their art, influence, and eloquence to persuade every man to divest
himself of such means as he possessed for to furnish this contribution,
which was so necessary. They themselves were the first to set an
example, giving up their own silver plate. . . . Half from love and
half from fear, this liberality was so general, that, down to the very
soldiers' varlets, every one gave; so that at last it was considered a
disgrace to have contributed little. When the whole was collected, it
was found to amount, in what was coined as well as in plate and gold
chains, to more than eighty thousand livres, which came in so timely,
that without it there would have been a difficulty in satisfying the
reiters. . . . Was it not a thing worthy of astonishment to see an
army, itself unpaid, despoiling itself of the little means it had of
relieving its own necessities and sparing that little for the
accommodation of others, who, peradventure, scarcely gave them a thankee
for it?" [_Memoires de La Noue, in the Petitot collection,_ 1st Series,
t. xxxiv. p. 207.]

So much generosity and devotion, amongst the humblest as well as the most
exalted ranks of the army, deserved not to be useless: but it turned out
quite differently. Conde and Coligny led back to Paris their new army,
which, it is said, was from eighteen to twenty thousand strong, and
seemed to be in a condition either to take Paris itself, or to force the
royal army to enter the field and accept a decisive battle. To bring
that about, Conde thought the best thing was to besiege Chartres, "the
key to the granary of Paris," as it was called, and "a big thorn,"
according to La Noue, "to run into the foot of the Parisians." But
Catherine de' Medici had quietly entered once more into negotiations with
some of the Protestant chiefs, even with Conde himself. Charles IX.
published an edict in which he distinguished between heretics and rebels,
and assured of his protection all Huguenots who should lay down arms.
Chartres seemed to be on the point of capitulating, when news came that
peace had just been signed at Longjumeau, on the 23d of March. The king
put again in force the edict of Amboise of 1563, suppressing all the
restrictions which had been tacked on to it successively. The Prince of
Conde and his adherents were reinstated in all their possessions,
offices, and honors; and Conde was "held and reputed good relative,
faithful subject, and servant of the king." The Reformers had to
disband, restore the new places they had occupied, and send away their
German allies, to whom the king undertook to advance the hundred thousand
gold crowns which were due to them. He further promised, by a secret
article, that he too would at a later date dismiss his foreign troops and
a portion of the French.

This news caused very various impressions amongst the Protestant camp and
people. The majority of the men of family engaged in the war, who most
frequently had to bear the expense of it, desired peace. The personal
advantages accruing to Conde himself--made it very acceptable to him.
But the ardent Reformers, with Coligny at their head, complained bitterly
of others being lured away by fine words and exceptional favors, and not
prosecuting the war when, to maintain it, there was so good an army and
the chances were so favorable. A serious dispute took place between the
pacific negotiators and the malcontents. Chancellor de l'Hospital wrote,
in favor of peace, a discourse on the pacific settlement of the troubles
of the year 1567, containing the necessary causes and reasons of the
treaty, together with the means of reconciling the two parties to one
another, and keeping them in perpetual concord; composed by a high
personage, true subject, and faithful servant of the French crown. But,
if the chancellor's reasons were sound, the hopes he hung upon them were
extravagant; the parties were at that pitch of passion at which reasoning
is in vain against impressions, and promises are powerless against
suspicions. Concluded "through the vehemence of the desire to get home
again," as La Noue says, the peace of Longjumeau was none the less known
as the little peace, the patched-up peace, the lame and rickety peace;
and neither they who wished for it nor they who spurned it prophesied its
long continuance.

Scarcely six months having elapsed, in August, 1568, the third religious
war broke out. The written guarantees given in the treaty of Longjumeau
for security and liberty on behalf of the Protestants were misinterpreted
or violated. Massacres and murders of Protestants became more numerous,
and were committed with more impunity than ever: in 1568 and 1569, at
Amiens, at Auxerre, at Orleans, at Rouen, at Bourges, at Troyes, and at
Blois, Protestants, at one time to the number of one hundred and forty or
one hundred and twenty, or fifty-three, or forty, and at another singly,
with just their wives and children, were massacred, burned, and hunted by
the excited populace, without any intervention on the part of the
magistrates to protect them or to punish their murderers. The
contemporary Protestant chroniclers set down at ten thousand the number
of victims who perished in the course of these six months, which were
called a time of peace: we may, with De Thou, believe this estimate to be
exaggerated; but, without doubt, the peace of Longjumeau was a lie, even
before the war began again.

During this interval Conde was living in Burgundy, at Noyers, a little
fortress he possessed through his wife, Frances of Orleans, and Coligny
was living not far from Noyers, at Tanlay, which belonged to his brother
D'Andelot. They soon discovered, both of them, not only what their party
had to suffer, but what measures were in preparation against themselves.
Agents went and sounded the depth of the moats of Noyers, so as to report
upon the means of taking the place. The queen-mother had orders given to
Gaspard de Tavannes to surround the Prince of Conde at Noyers. "The
queen is counselled by passion rather than by reason," answered the old
warrior; "I am not the sort of man to succeed in this ill-planned
enterprise of distaff and pen; if her Majesty will be pleased to declare
open war, I will show how I understand my duty." Shocked at the
dishonorable commands given him, Tavannes resolved to indirectly raise
Conde's apprehensions, in order to get him out of Burgundy, of which he,
Tavannes, held the governorship; and he sent close past the walls of
Noyers bearers of letters containing these words: "The stag is in the
toils; the hunt is ready." Conde had the bearers arrested, understood
the warning, and communicated it to Coligny, who went and joined him at
Noyers, and they decided, both of them, upon quitting Burgundy without
delay, to go and seek over the Loire at La Rochelle, which they knew to
be devoted to their cause, a sure asylum and a place suitable for their
purposes as a centre of warlike operations. They set out together on the
24th of August, 1568. Conde took with him his wife and his four
children, two of tender age. Coligny followed him in deep mourning; he
had just lost his wife, Charlotte de Laval, that worthy mate of his, who,
six years previously, in a grievous crisis for his soul as well as his
cause, had given him such energetic counsels: she had left him one young
daughter and three little children, the two youngest still in the nurse's
arms. His sister-in-law, Anne do Salm, wife of his brother D'Andelot,
was also there with a child of two years, whilst her husband was scouring
Anjou and Brittany to rally the friends of his cause and his house. A
hundred and fifty men, soldiers and faithful servants, escorted these
three noble and pious families, who were leaving their castles to go and
seek liberties and perils in a new war. When they arrived at the bank of
the Loire, they found all points in the neighborhood guarded; the river
was low; and a boatman pointed out to them, near Sancerre, a possible
ford. Conde went over first, with one of his children in his arms.

[Illustration: Conde at the Ford---328]

They all went over singing the psalm, _When Israel went out of Egypt,_
and on the 16th of September, 1568, Conde entered La Rochelle. "I fled
as far as I could," he wrote the next day, "but when I got here I found
the sea; and, inasmuch as I don't know how to swim, I was constrained to
turn my head round and gain the land, not with feet, but with hands." He
assembled the burgesses of La Rochelle, and laid before them the pitiable
condition of the kingdom, the wicked designs of people who were their
enemies as well as his own: he called upon them to come and help; he
promised to be aidful to them in all their affairs, and, "as a pledge of
my good faith," said he, "I will leave you my wife and children, the
dearest and most precious jewels I have in this world." The mayor of La
Rochelle, La Haise, responded by offering him "lives and property in the
name of all the citizens," who confirmed this offer with an outburst of
popular enthusiasm. The Protestant nobles of Saintonge and Poitou
flocked in. A royal ally was announced; the Queen of Navarre, Jeanne
d'Albret, was bringing her son Henry, fifteen years of age, whom she was
training up to be Henry IV. Conde went to meet them, and, on the 28th of
September, 1568, all this flower of French Protestantism was assembled at
La Rochelle, ready and resolved to commence the third religious war.

It was the longest and most serious of the four wars of this kind which
so profoundly agitated France in the reign of Charles IX. This one
lasted from the 24th of August, 1568, to the 8th of August, 1570, between
the departure of Conde and Coligny for La Rochelle and the treaty of
peace of St. Germain-en-Laye: a hollow peace, like the rest, and only two
years before the St. Bartholomew. On starting from Noyers with Coligny,
Conde had addressed to the king, on the 23d of August, a letter and a
request, wherein, "after having set forth the grievances of the
Reformers, he attributed all the mischief to the Cardinal of Lorraine,
and declared that the Protestant nobles felt themselves constrained, for
the safety of the realm, to take up arms against that infamous priest,
that tiger of France, and against his accomplices." He bitterly
reproached the Guises "with treating as mere policists, that is, men who
sacrifice religion to temporal interests, the Catholics inclined to make
concessions to the Reformers, especially the Chancellor de l'Hospital and
the sons of the late Constable de Montmorency." The Guises, indeed, and
their friends did not conceal their distrust of De l'Hospital, any more
than he concealed his opposition to their deeds and their designs.
Whilst the peace of Longjumeau was still in force, Charles IX. issued a
decree interdicting all Reformers from the chairs of the University and
the offices of the judicature; L'Hospital refused to seal it: "God save
us from the chancellor's mass!" was the remark at court. L'Hospital,
convinced that he would not succeed in preserving France from a fresh
civil war, made up his mind to withdraw, and go and live for some time at
his estate of Vignay [a little hamlet in the commune of Gironville, near
Etampes, Seine-et-Oise]. The queen-mother eagerly took advantage of his
withdrawal to demand of him the seals, of which, she said, she might have
need daily. L'Hospital gave them up at once, at the same time retaining
his title of chancellor, and letting the queen know "that he would take
pains to recover his strength in order to return to his post, if and when
it should be the king's and the queen's pleasure." From his rural home
he wrote to his friends, "I am not downhearted because the violence of
the wicked has snatched from me the seals of the kingdom. I have not
done as sluggards and cowards do, who hide themselves at the first show
of danger, and obey the first impulses of fear. As long as I was strong
enough, I held my own. Deprived of all support, even that of the king
and the queen, who dared no longer defend me, I retired, deploring the
unhappy condition of France. Now I have other cares; I return to my
interrupted studies and to my children, the props of my old age and my
sweetest delight. I cultivate my fields. The estate of Vignay seems to
me a little kingdom, if any man may consider himself master of anything
here below. . . . I will tell you more; this retreat, which satisfies
my heart, also flatters my vanity; I like to imagine myself in the wake
of those famous exiles of Athens or Rome whom their virtues rendered
formidable to their fellow-citizens. Not that I dare compare myself with
those great men, but I say to myself that our fortunes are similar. I
live in the midst of a numerous family whom I love; I have books; I read,
write, and meditate; I take pleasure in the games of my children; the
most frivolous occupations interest me. In fine, all my time is filled
up, and nothing would be wanting to my happiness if it were not for the
awful apparition hard by which sometimes comes, bringing trouble and
desolation to my heart."

This "apparition hard by" was war, everywhere present or imminent in the
centre and south-west of France, accompanied by all those passions of
personal hatred and vengeance which are characteristic of religious wars,
and which add so much of the moral sufferings to the physical calamities
of life. L'Hospital, when sending the seals to the queen-mother, who
demanded them of him, considered it his bounden duty to give her without
any mincing, and the king whom she governed, a piece of patriotic advice.
"At my departure," he says in his will and testament, "I prayed of the
king and queen this thing, that, as they had determined to break the
peace, and proceed by war against those with whom they had previously
made peace, and as they were driving me from the court because they had
heard it said that I was opposed to and ill content with their
enterprise, I prayed them, I say, that if they did not acquiesce in my
counsel, they would, at the very least, some time after they had glutted
and satiated their hearts and their thirst with the blood of their
subjects, embrace the first opportunity that offered itself for making
peace, before that things were reduced to utter ruin; for, whatever there
might be at the bottom of this war, it could not but be very pernicious
to the king and the kingdom." During the two years that it lasted, from
August, 1568, to August, 1570, the third religious war under Charles IX.
entailed two important battles and many deadly faction-fights, which
spread and inflamed to the highest pitch the passions of the two parties.
On the 13th of March, 1569, the two armies, both about twenty thousand
strong, and appearing both of them anxious to come to blows, met near
Jarnac, on the banks of the Charente; the royal army had for its chief
Catherine de' Medici's third son, Henry, Duke of Anjou, advised by the
veteran warrior Gaspard de Tavannes, and supported by the young Duke
Henry of Guise, who had his father to avenge and his own spurs to win.

[Illustration: HENRY OF LORRAINE (DUKE OF GUISE)----332]

The Prince of Conde, with Admiral de Coligny for second, commanded the
Protestant army. We make no pretension to explain and discuss here the
military movements of that day, and the merits or demerits of the two
generals confronted; the Duke of Aumale has given an account of them and
criticised them in his _Histoire des Princes de Conde,_ with a complete
knowledge of the facts and with the authority that belongs to him. "The
encounter on the 13th of March, 1569, scarcely deserves," he says, "to be
called a battle; it was nothing but a series of fights, maintained by
troops separated and surprised, against an enemy which, more numerous to
begin with, was attacking with its whole force united.". A tragic
incident at the same time gave this encounter an importance which it has
preserved in history. Admiral de Coligny, forced to make a retrograde
movement, had sent to ask the Prince of Conde for aid; by a second
message he urged the prince not to make a fruitless effort, and to fall
back himself in all haste. "God forbid," answered Conde, "that Louis de
Bourbon should turn his back to the enemy!" and he continued his march,
saying to his brother-in-law, Francis de la Rochefoucauld, who was
marching beside him, "My uncle has made a 'clerical error' (_pas de
clerc,_ a slip); but the wine is drawn, and it must be drunk." On
arriving at the battle-field, whither he had brought with him but three
hundred horse, at the very moment when, with this weak escort, he was
preparing to charge the deep column of the Duke of Anjou, he received
from La Rochefoucauld's horse a kick which broke one of the bones of his
leg; and he had already crushed an arm by a fall. We will borrow from
the Duke of Aumale the glorious and piteous tale of this incident.
"Conde turned round to his men-at-arms, and showing first his injured
limbs and then the device, 'Sweet is danger for Christ and for
fatherland!' which fluttered upon his banner in the breeze, 'Nobles of
France,' he cried, 'this is the desired moment Remember in what plight
Louis de Bourbon enters the battle for Christ and fatherland!' Then,
lowering his head, he charges with his three hundred horse upon the eight
hundred lances of the Duke of Anjou. The first shock of this charge was
irresistible; such for a moment was the disorder amongst the Catholics
that many of them believed the day was lost; but fresh bodies of
royalists arrive one after another. The prince has his horse killed
under him; and, in the midst of the confusion, hampered by his wounds, he
cannot mount another. In spite of all, his brave comrades do not desert
him; Soubise and a dozen of them, covered with wounds, are taken; an old
man, named La Vergne, who had brought with him twenty-five sons or
nephews, is left upon the field with fifteen of them, 'all in a heap,'
says D'Aubigne. Left almost alone, with his back against a tree, one
knee upon the ground, and deprived of the use of one leg, Conde still
defends himself; but his strength is failing him; he sees two Catholic
gentlemen to whom he had rendered service, Saint-Jean and D'Argence; he
calls to them, raises the vizor of his helmet, and holds out to them his
gauntlets. The two horsemen dismount, and swear to risk their lives to
save his. Others join them, and are eager to assist the glorious
captive. Meanwhile the royal cavalry continues the pursuit; the
squadrons successively pass close by the group which has formed round
Conde. Soon he spies the red cloaks of the Duke of Anjou's guards. He
points to them with his finger. D'Argence understands him, and, 'Hide
your face!' he cries. 'Ah D'Argence, D'Argence, you will not save me,'
replies the prince. Then, like Caesar, covering up his face, he awaited
death the poor soul knew only too well the perfidious character of the
Duke of Anjou, the hatred with which he was hunting him down, and the
sanguinary orders he would give. The guards had gone by when their
captain, Montesquion, learned the name of this prisoner. 'Slay, slay,
mordioux!' he shouted; then suddenly wheeling his horse round, he returns
at a gallop, and with a pistol-shot, fired from behind, shatters the
hero's skull." [_Histoire des Princes de Conde,_ by M. le Duc d'Aumale,
t. ii. pp. 65-72.]

The death of Conde gave to the battle of Jarnac an importance not its
own. A popular ditty of the day called that prince "the great enemy of
the mass." "His end," says the Duke of Aumale, "was celebrated by the
Catholics as a deliverance; a solemn Te Deum was chanted at court and in
all the churches of France. The flags taken were sent to Rome, where
Pope Pius IV. went with them in state to St. Peter's. As for the Duke of
Anjou, he showed his joy and his baseness together by the ignoble
treatment he caused to be inflicted upon the remains of his vanquished
relative, a prince of the blood who had fallen sword in hand. At the
first rumor of Conde's death, the Duke of Montpensier's secretary,
Coustureau, had been despatched from headquarters with Baron de Magnac to
learn the truth of the matter. 'We found him there,' he relates, 'laid
upon an ass; the said sir baron took him by the hair of the head for to
lift up his face, which he had turned towards the ground, and asked me if
I recognized him. But as he had lost an eye from his head, he was
mightily disfigured; and I could say no more than it was certainly his
figure and his hair, and further than that I was unable to speak.'
Meanwhile," continues the Duke of Aumale, "the accounts of those present
removed all doubt; and the corpse, thus thrown across an ass, with arms
and legs dangling, was carried to Jarnac, where the Duke of Anjou lodged
on the evening of the battle. There the body of Conde was taken down
amidst the sobs of some Protestant prisoners, who kissed, as they wept,
the remains of their gallant chief. This touching spectacle did not stop
the coarse ribaldry of the Duke of Anjou and his favorites; and for two
days the prince's remains were left in a ground-floor room, there exposed
to the injurious action of the air and, to the gross insults of the
courtiers. The Duke of Anjou at last consented to give up the body of
Conde to the Duke of Longueville, his brother-in-law, who had it interred
with due respect at Vendome in the burial-place of his ancestors."

When in 1569 he thus testified, from a mixture of hatred and fear, an
ignoble joy at the death of Louis de Conde, the valiant chief of
Protestantism, the Duke of Anjou did not foresee that, nearly twenty
years later, in 1588, when he had become Henry III., King of France, he
would also testify, still from a mixture of hatred and fear, the same
ignoble joy at sight of the corpse of Henry de Guise, the valiant chief
of Catholicism, murdered by his order and in his palace.

As soon as Conde's death was known at La Rochelle, the Queen of Navarre,
Jeanne d'Albret, hurried to Tonnay-Charente, whither the Protestant army
had fallen back; she took with her her own son Henry, fifteen years old,
and Henry de Bourbon, the late Prince of Conde's son, who was seventeen;
and she presented both of them to the army. The younger, the future
Henry IV., stepped forward briskly. "Your cause," said he, "is mine;
your interests are mine; I swear on my soul, honor, and life, to be
wholly yours." The young Conde took the same oath. The two princes were
associated in the command, under the authority of Coligny, who was
immediately appointed lieutenant-general of the army. For two years
their double signature figured at the bottom of the principal official
acts of the Reformed party; and they were called "the admiral's pages."
On both of them Jeanne passionately enjoined union between themselves,
and equal submission on their part to Coligny, their model and their
master in war and in devotion to the common cause. Queen, princes,
admiral, and military leaders of all ranks stripped themselves of all the
diamonds, jewels, and precious stones which they possessed, and which
Elizabeth, the Queen of England, took in pledge for the twenty thousand
pounds sterling she lent him. The Queen of Navarre reviewed the army,
which received her with bursts of pious and warlike enthusiasm; and
leaving to Coligny her two sons, as she called them, she returned alone
to La Rochelle, where she received a like reception from the inhabitants,
"rough and loyal people," says La Noue, "and as warlike as mercantile."
After her departure, a body of German horse, commanded by Count Mansfeld,
joined Coligny in the neighborhood of Limoges. Their arrival was an
unhoped-for aid. Coligny distributed amongst them a medal bearing the
effigy of Queen Jeanne of Navarre with this legend: "Alone, and with the
rest, for God, the king, the laws, and peace."

With such dispositions on one side and the other, war was resumed and
pushed forward eagerly from June, 1569, to June, 1570, with alternations
of reverse and success. On the 23d of June, 1569, a fight took place at
Roche l'Abeille, near St. Yrieix in Limousin, wherein the Protestants had
the advantage. The young Catholic noblemen, with Henry de Guise at their
head, began it rashly, against the desire of their general, Gaspard de
Tavannes, to show off their bravery before the eyes of the queen-mother
and the Cardinal of Lorraine, both of whom considered the operations of
the army too slow and its successes too rare. They lost five hundred men
and many prisoners, amongst others Philip Strozzi, whom Charles IX. had
just made colonel-general of the infantry. They took their revenge on
the 7th of September, 1569, by forcing Coligny to raise the siege of
Poitiers, which he had been pushing forward for more than two months, and
on the 3d of October following, at the battle of Moncontour in Poitou,
the most important of the campaign, which they won brilliantly, and in
which the Protestant army lost five or six thousand men and a great part
of their baggage. Before the action began, "two gentlemen on the side of
the Catholics, being in an out-of-the-way spot, came to speech," says La
Noue, "with some of the (Protestant) religion, there being certain
ditches between them.

[Illustration: Parley before the Battle of Moncontour----337]

'Sirs,' said they, 'we bear the marks of enemies, but we do not hate you
in any wise, or your party. Warn the admiral to be very careful not to
fight, for our army is marvellously strong by reason of re-enforcements
that have come in to it, and it is very determined withal. Let the
admiral temporize for a month only, for all the nobles have sworn and
said to Monseigneur that they will not wait any longer, that he must
employ them within that time, and they will then do their duty. Let the
admiral remember that it is dangerous to stem the fury of Frenchmen, the
which, however, will suddenly ooze away; if they have not victory
speedily, they will be constrained to make peace, and will offer it you
on advantageous terms. Tell him that we know this from a good source,
and greatly desired to advertise him of it.' Afterwards they retired.
The others," continues La Noue, "went incontinently to the admiral for to
make their report, which was to his taste. They told it also to others
of the principals; and some there were who desired that it should be
acted upon; but the majority opined that this notice came from suspected
persons, who had been accustomed to practise fraud and deceit, and that
no account should be made of it." The latter opinion prevailed; and the
battle of Moncontour was fought with extreme acrimony, especially on the
part of the Catholics, who were irritated by the cruelties, as La Noue
himself says, which the Protestants had but lately practised at the fight
of La Roche l'Abeille. Coligny was wounded in the action, after having
killed with his own hand the Marquis Philibert of Baden; and the melley
had been so hot that the admiral's friends found great difficulty in
extricating him and carrying him off the field to get his wound attended
to. Three weeks before the battle, on the 13th of September, Coligny had
been sentenced to death by the Parliament of Paris, and hanged in effigy
on the Place de Greve; and a reward of fifty thousand gold crowns had
been offered to whosoever should give him up to the king's justice dead
or alive, words added, it is said, to the decree at the desire of Charles
IX. himself. Family sorrows were in Coligny's case added to political
reverses; on the 27th of May, in this same year 1569, he had lost his
brother D'Andelot, his faithful comrade in his religious as well as his
warlike career. "He found himself," says D'Aubigne, "saddled with the
blame due to accident, his own merits being passed over in silence; with
the remnant of an army which, when it was whole, was in despair even
before the late disaster; with weak towns, dismayed garrisons, and
foreigners without baggage; himself moneyless, his enemies very powerful,
and pitiless towards all, especially towards him; abandoned by all the
great, except one woman, the Queen of Navarre, who, having nothing but
the title, had advanced to Niort in order to lend a hand to the afflicted
and to affairs in general. This old man, worn down by fever, endured all
these causes of anguish and many others that came to rack him more
painfully than his grievous wound. As he was being borne along in a
litter, Lestrange, an old nobleman, and one of his principal counsellors,
travelling in similar fashion, and wounded likewise, had his own litter,
where the road was broad, moved forward in front of the admiral's, and
putting his head out at the door, he looked steadily at his chief,
saying, with tears in his eyes, 'Yet God is very merciful.' Thereupon
they bade one another farewell, perfectly at one in thought, without
being able to say more. This great captain confessed to his intimates
that these few friendly words restored him, and set him up again in the
way of good thoughts and firm resolutions for the future." He was so
much restored, that, between the end of 1569 and the middle of 1570, he
marched through the south and the centre of France the army which he had
reorganized, and with which, wherever he went, he restored, if not
security, at any rate confidence and zeal, to his party.

On arriving at Arnay-le-Duc, in Burgundy, he found himself confronted by
Marshal de Cosse with thirteen thousand men of the king's troops.
Coligny had barely half as many; but he did not hesitate to attack, and
on the 13th of June, 1570, he was so near victory that the road was left
open before him. On the 7th of July he arrived at Charite-sur-Loire.
Alarm prevailed at Paris. A truce for ten days was signed, and
negotiations were reopened for a fresh attempt at peace.

"If any one, in these lamentable wars, worked hard, both with body and
mind," says La Noue, "it may be said to have been the admiral, for, as
regards the greatest part of the burden of military affairs and
hardships, it was he who supported them with much constancy and buoyancy;
and he was as respectful in his bearing towards the princes his superiors
as he was modest towards his inferiors. He always had piety in singular
esteem, and a love of justice, which made him valued and honored by them
of the party which he had embraced. He did not seek ambitiously for
commands and honors; they were thrust upon him because of his competence
and his expertness. When he handled arms and armies, he showed that he
was very conversant with them, as much so as any captain of his day, and
he always exposed himself courageously to danger. In difficulties, he
was observed to be full of magnanimity and resource in getting out of
them, always showing himself quite free from swagger and parade. In
short, he was a personage worthy to re-establish an enfeebled and a
corrupted state. I was fain to say these few words about him in passing,
for, having known him and been much with him, and having profited by his
teaching, I should have been wrong if I had not made truthful and
honorable mention of him." [_Memoires de La Noue, in the Petitot
collection,_ 1st series, t. xxxiv. p. 288.]

The negotiations were short. The war had been going on for two years.
The two parties, victorious and vanquished by turns, were both equally
sick of it. In vain did Philip II., King of Spain, offer Charles IX. an
aid of nine thousand men to continue it. In vain did Pope Pius V. write
to Catherine de' Medici, "As there can be no communion between Satan and
the children of the light, it ought to be taken for certain that there
can be no compact between Catholics and heretics, save one full of fraud
and feint." "We have beaten our enemies," says Montluc, "over and over
again; but notwithstanding that, they had so much influence in the king's
council that the decrees were always to their advantage. We won by arms,
but they won by those devils of documents." Peace was concluded at St.
Germain-en-Laye on the 8th of August, 1570, and it was more equitable and
better for the Reformers than the preceding treaties; for, besides a
pretty large extension as regarded free exercise of their worship and
their civil rights in the state, it granted "for two years, to the
princes of Navarre and Conde and twenty noblemen of the religion, who
were appointed by the king, the wardenship of the towns of La Rochelle,
Cognac, Montauban, and La Charite, whither those of the religion who
dared not return so soon to their own homes might retire." All the
members of the Parliament, all the royal and municipal officers, and the
principal inhabitants of the towns where the two religions existed were
further bound over on oath "to maintenance of the edict."

Peace was made; but it was the third in seven years, and very shortly
after each new treaty civil war had recommenced. No more was expected
from the treaty of St. Germain-en-Laye than had been effected by those of
Amboise and Longjumeau, and on both sides men sighed for something more
stable and definitive. By what means to be obtained and with what
pledges of durability? A singular fact is apparent between 1570 and
1572; there is a season, as it were, of marriages and matrimonial
rejoicings. Charles IX. went to receive at the frontier of his kingdom
his affianced bride, Archduchess Elizabeth of Austria, daughter of the
emperor, Maximilian II., who was escorted by the Archbishop of Treves,
chancellor of the empire; the nuptials were celebrated at Mezieres, on
the 26th of November, 1570; the princes and great lords of the Protestant
party were invited; they did not think it advisable to withdraw
themselves from their asylum at La Rochelle; but Coligny wrote to the
queen-mother to excuse himself, whilst protesting his forgetfulness of
the past and his personal devotion. Four months afterwards, Coligny
himself married again; it was three years since he had lost his noble
wife, Charlotte de Laval, and he had not contemplated anything of the
kind, when, in the concluding weeks of 1570, he received from the castle
of St. Andre de Briord, in Le Bugey, a letter from a great lady, thirty
years of age, Jacqueline de Montbel, daughter of Count d'Entremont,
herself a widow, who wrote to him "that she would fain marry a saint and
a hero, and that he was that hero." "I am but a tomb," replied Coligny.
But Jacqueline persisted, in spite of the opposition shown by her
sovereign, Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy, who did not like his fair
subjects to marry foreigners; and in February, 1571, she furtively
quitted her castle, dropped down the Rhone in a boat as far as Lyons,
mounted on horseback, and, escorted by five devoted friends, arrived at
La Rochelle. All Coligny's friends were urgent for him to accept this
passionate devotion proffered by a lady who would bring him territorial
possessions valuable to the Protestants, "for they were an open door to
Geneva." Coligny accepted; and the marriage took place at La Rochelle on
the 24th of March, 1571. "Madame Jacqueline wore, on this occasion,"
says a contemporary chronicler, "a skirt in the Spanish fashion, of black
gold-tissue, with bands of embroidery in gold and silver twist, and,
above, a doublet of white silver-tissue embroidered in gold, with large
diamond-buttons." She was, nevertheless, at that moment almost as poor as
the German arquebusiers who escorted her litter; for an edict issued by
the Duke of Savoy on the 31st of January, 1569, caused her the loss of
all her possessions in her own country. She was received in France with
the respect due to her; and when, five months after the marriage,
Charles; IX. summoned Coligny to Paris, "to serve him in his most
important affairs, as a worthy minister, whose virtues were sufficiently
known and tried," he sent at the same time to Madame l'Amirale a
safe-conduct in which he called her my fair cousin. Was there any one
belonging to that august and illustrious household who had, at that time,
a presentiment of their impending and tragic destiny?

At the same period, the Queen of Navarre, Jeanne d'Albret, obtained for
her young nephew, Henry de Bourbon, Prince of Conde, son of the hero of
Jarnac, and companion of Henry of Navarre, the hand of his cousin, Mary
of Cleves; and there was still going on in London, on behalf of one of
Charles IX.'s brothers,--at one time the Duke of Anjou and at another the
Duke of Alencon,--the negotiation which was a vain attempt to make Queen
Elizabeth espouse a French prince.

Coincidently with all these marriages or projects of marriage amongst
princes and great lords came the most important of all, that which was to
unite Henry of Navarre and Charles IX.'s sister, Marguerite de Valois.
There had already, thirteen or fourteen years previously, been some talk
about it, in the reign of King Henry II., when Henry of Navarre and
Margaret de Valois, each born in 1553, were both of them mere babies.
This union between the two branches of the royal house, one Catholic and
the other Protestant, ought to have been the most striking sign and the
surest pledge of peace between Catholicism and Protestantism. The
political expediency of such a step appeared the more evident and the
more urgent in proportion as the religious war had become more direful
and the desire for peace more general. Charles IX. embraced the idea
passionately. At the outset he encountered an obstacle. The young Duke
of Guise had already paid court to Marguerite, and had obtained such
marked favor with her that the ambassador of Spain wrote to the king,
"There is no public topic in France just now save the marriage of my Lady
Marguerite with the Duke of Guise." People even talked of a tender
correspondence between the princess and the duke, which was carried on
through one of the queen's ladies, the Countess of Mirandola, who was
devoted to the Guises and a favorite with Marguerite. "If it be so,"
said Charles IX., savagely, "we will kill him;" and he gave such
peremptory orders on this subject, that Henry de Guise, somewhat
disquieted, avoided for a while taking part in the royal hunts, and
thought it well that there should be resumed on his behalf a project of
marriage with Catherine of Cleves, widow of the Prince of Portien (Le
Porcien) and the wealthy heiress to some great domains, especially the
countship of Eu. So long as he had some hope of marrying Marguerite de
Valois, the Duke of Guise had repudiated, not without offensiveness, all
idea of union with Catherine of Cleves. "Anybody who can make me marry
the Princess of Portien," said he, "could make me marry a negress." He,
nevertheless, contracted this marriage, so greatly disdained, on the 4th
of October, 1570; and at this price recovered the good graces of Charles
IX. The queen-mother charged the Cardinal Louis de Lorraine, him whom
the people called Cardinal Bottles (from his conviviality), to publicly
give the lie to any rumor of a possible engagement between her daughter
Marguerite and Henry de Guise; and a grand council of the kings, after
three holdings, adopted in principle the marriage of Marguerite de Valois
with "the little Prince of Bearn."

Charles IX. at once set his hand to the work to turn this resolution to
good account, being the only means, he said, of putting a stop at last to
this incessantly renewed civil war, which was the plague of his life as
well as of his kingdom. He first of all sent Marshal de Cosse to La
Rochelle, to sound Coligny as to his feelings upon this subject, and to
urge him to thus cut short public woes and the Reformers' grievances.
"The king has always desired peace," said the marshal; "he wishes it to
be lasting; he has proved only too well, to his own misery and that of
his people, that of all the evils which can afflict a state, the most
direful is civil war. But what means this withdrawal, since the signing
of peace at St. Germain, of the Queen of Navarre and her children, of the
Prince of Conde, and so many lords and distinguished nobles, still
separated from their houses and their families, and collected together in
a town like Rochelle, which has great advantages by land and sea for all
those who would fain begin the troubles again? Why have they not
returned home? During the hottest part of the war, they ardently desired
to see once more their houses, their wives, and their children; and now,
when peace leaves them free to do so, they prefer to remain in a land
which is in some sort foreign, and where, in addition to great expenses,
they are deprived of the conveniences they would find at home. The king
cannot make out such absurdity; or, rather, he is very apprehensive that
this long stay means the hatching of some evil design." The Protestants
defended themselves warmly against this supposition; they alleged, in
explanation of their persistent disquietude, the very imperfect execution
of the conditions granted by the peace of St. Germain, and the insults,
the attacks which they had still to suffer in many parts of the kingdom,
and quite recently at Rouen and at Orange. The king attempted, without
any great success, to repress these disorders amongst the populace. The
Queen of Navarre, the two princes, Coligny, and many Protestant lords
remained still at La Rochelle, where was being held at this time a
general synod of the Reformed churches. Charles IX. sent thither Marshal
de Biron, with formal orders to negotiate the marriage of Marguerite de
Valois and the Prince of Navarre, and to induce that prince, his mother
the Queen of Navarre, and Coligny to repair to the court in order to
conclude the matter. The young prince was at that time in Warn. The
queen, his mother, answered, "That she would consult her spiritual
advisers, and, as soon as her conscience was at rest, there were no
conditions she would not accept with a view of giving satisfaction to the
king and the queen, of marking her obedience and respect towards them,
and of securing the tranquillity of the state, an object for which she
would willingly sacrifice her own life. . . . But," she added, "I
would rather sink to the condition of the humblest damoisel in France
than sacrifice to the aggrandizement of my family my own soul and my

In September, 1571, Charles IX. and the queen-mother repaired to Blois;
and at their urgent request Coligny went thither to talk over the
projected marriage and the affairs of Europe. The king received him with
emotional satisfaction, calling him my father, and saying to him, "Now we
have you, and you shall not escape us when you wish to." Jeanne
d'Albret, more distrustful, or, one ought rather to say, more
clear-sighted, refused to leave La Rochelle, and continued to negotiate
vaguely and from a distance. Catherine de' Medici insisted. "Satisfy,"
she wrote to her, "the extreme desire we have to see you in this company;
you will be loved and honored therein as accords with reason and with
what you are." Jeanne still waited. It was only in the following year,
at the end of January, that, having earnestly exhorted her son "to remain
Bearn-wards whilst she was at the court of France," she set out for
Blois, where Charles IX. received her most affectionately, calling her my
good aunt, my dear aunt, and lavishing upon her promises as well as
endearments. Jeanne was a strict and a judicious person; and the manners
and proceedings of the court at Blois displeased her. On the 8th of
March, 1572, she wrote to her son, "I find it necessary to negotiate
quite contrariwise to what I had expected and what had been promised me;
I have no liberty to speak to the king or my Lady Marguerite, only to the
queen-mother, who treats me as if I were dirt. . . . Seeing, then,
that no advance is made, and that the desire is to make me hurry matters,
and not conduct them orderly, I have thrice spoken thereof to the queen,
who does nothing but make a fool of me, and tell everybody the opposite
of what I told her; in such sort that my friends find fault with me, and
I know not how to bring her to book, for when I say to her, 'Madame, it
is reported that I said so-and-so to you,' though it was she herself who
reported it, she denies it flatly, and laughs in my face, and uses me in
such wise that you might really say that my patience passes that of
Griselda. . . . Thenceforward I have a troop of Huguenots, who come
to converse with me, rather for the purpose of being spies upon me than
of assisting me. Then I have some of another humor, who hamper me no
less, and who are religious hermaphrodites. I defend myself as best I
may. . . I am sure that if you only knew the trouble I am in, you
would have pity upon me, for they give me empty speeches and raillery
instead of treating with me gravely, as the matter deserves; in such sort
that I am bursting, because I am so resolved not to lose my temper that
my patience is a miracle to see. . . . I found your letter very much
to my taste; I will show, it to my Lady Marguerite if I can. She is
beautiful, and discreet, and of good demeanor, but brought up in the most
accursed and most corrupt society that ever was. I would not, for
anything in the world, have you here to remain here. That is why I
desire to get you married, and you and your wife withdraw from this
corruption; for though I believed it to be very great, I find it still
more so. Here it is not the men who solicit the women; it is the women
who solicit the men. If you were here, you would never escape without a
great deal of God's grace."

[Illustration: Admiral Gaspard de Coligny----346]

Side by side with this motherly and Christianly scrupulous negotiation,
Coligny set on foot another, noble and dignified also, but even less in
harmony with the habits and bent of the government which it concerned.
The puritan warrior was at the same time an ardent patriot: he had at
heart the greatness of France as much as he had his personal creed; the
reverses of Francis I. and the preponderance of Spain in Europe oppressed
his spirit with a sense of national decadence, from which he wanted
France to lift herself up again. The moment appeared to him propitious;
let the king ally himself with Queen Elizabeth of England, the Prince of
Orange in the Low Countries, and the Protestant princes of Germany; here
was for France a certain guarantee of power in Europe, and at the same
time a natural opportunity for conquering Flanders, a possession so
necessary to her strength and her security. But high above this policy,
so thoroughly French, towered a question still more important than that
of even the security and the grandeur of France; that was the partition
of Europe between Catholicism and Protestantism; and it was in a country
Catholic in respect of the great majority, and governed by a kingship
with which Catholicism was hereditary, that, in order to put a stop to
civil war between French Catholics and Protestants, Coligny pressed the
king to put himself at the head of an essentially Protestant coalition,
and make it triumphant in Europe. This was, in the sixteenth century, a
policy wholly chimerical, however patriotic its intention may have been;
and the French Protestant hero who recommended it to Charles IX. did not
know that Protestantism was on the eve of the greatest disaster it would
have to endure in France.

A fact of a personal character tended to mislead Coligny. By his renown,
by the loftiness of his views, by the earnest gravity of his character
and his language he had produced a great effect upon Charles IX., a young
king of warm imagination and impressible and sympathetic temperament,
but, at the same time, of weak judgment. He readily gave way, in
Coligny's company, to outpourings which had all the appearance of perfect
and involuntary frankness. "Speaking one day to the admiral about the
course of conduct to be adopted as to the enterprise against Flanders,
and well knowing that the queen-mother lay under his suspicion, 'My dear
father,' said he, 'there is one thing herein of which we must take good
heed; and that is, that the queen, my mother, who likes to poke her nose
everywhere, as you know, learn nothing of this enterprise, at any rate as
regards the main spring of it, for she would spoil all for us.' 'As you
please, sir; but I take her to be so good a mother, and so devoted to the
welfare of your kingdom, that when she knows of it she will do nothing to
spoil it.' 'You are mistaken, my dear father,' said the king; 'leave it
to me only; I see quite well that you do not know my mother; she is the
greatest meddler in all the world.'" Another time, when he was speaking
likewise to Teligny, Coligny's son-in-law, about this enterprise against
Flanders, the king said, "Wouldst have me speak to thee freely, Teligny?
I distrust all these gentry; I am suspicious of Tavannes' ambition;
Vieilleville loves nothing but good wine; Cosse is too covetous;
Montmorency cares only for his hunting and hawking; the Count de Retz is
a Spaniard; the other lords of my court and those of my council are mere
blockheads; my Secretaries of State, to hide nothing of what I think, are
not faithful to me; insomuch that, to tell the truth, I know not at what
end to begin." This tone of freedom and confidence had inspired Coligny
with reciprocal confidence; he believed himself to have a decisive
influence over the king's ideas and conduct; and when the Protestants
testified their distrust upon this subject, he reproached them vehemently
for it; he affirmed the king's good intentions and sincerity; and he
considered himself in fact, said Catherine de' Medici with temper,
"a second king of France."

How much sincerity was there about these outpourings of Charles IX. in
his intercourse with Coligny, and how much reality in the admiral's
influence over the king? We are touching upon that great historical
question which has been so much disputed: was the St. Bartholomew a
design, long ago determined upon and prepared for, of Charles IX. and his
government, or an almost sudden resolution, brought about by events and
the situation of the moment, to which Charles IX. was egged on, not
without difficulty, by his mother Catherine and his advisers?

We recall to mind here what was but lately said in this very chapter as
to the condition of minds and morals in the sixteenth century, and as to
the tragic consequences of it. Massacre, we add no qualifying term to
the word, was an idea, a habit, we might say almost a practice, familiar
to that age, and one which excited neither the surprise nor the horror
which are inseparable from it in our day. So little respect for human
life and for truth was shown in the relations between man and man! Not
that those natural sentiments, which do honor to the human race, were
completely extinguished in the hearts of men; they reappeared here and
there as a protest against the vices and the crimes of the period; but
they were too feeble and too rare to struggle effectually against the
sway of personal passions and interests, against atrocious hatreds and
hopes, against intellectual aberrations and moral corruption. To betray
and to kill were deeds so common that they caused scarcely any
astonishment, and that people were almost resigned to them beforehand.
We have cited fifteen or twenty cases of the massacres which in the reign
of Charles IX., from 1562 to 1572, grievously troubled and steeped in
blood such and such a part of France, without leaving any lasting traces
in history. Previously to the massacre called the St. Bartholomew, the
massacre of Vassy is almost the only one which received and kept its true
name. The massacre of Vassy was, undoubtedly, an accident, a deed not at
all forecast or prepared for. The St. Bartholomew massacre was an event
for a long time forecast and announced, promised to the Catholics and
thrown out as a threat to the Protestants, written beforehand, so to
speak, in the history of the religious wars of France, but, nevertheless,
at the moment at which it was accomplished, and in the mode of its
accomplishment, a deed unexpected so far as the majority of the victims
were concerned, and a cause of contest even amongst its originators.
Accordingly it was, from the very first, a subject of surprise and
horror, throughout Europe as well as in France; not only because of the
torrents of blood that were shed, but also because of the extraordinary
degree in which it was characterized by falsehood and ferocious hatred.

We will bring forward in support of this double assertion only such facts
and quotations as appear to us decisive.

In 1565, Charles IX. and Catherine de' Medici had an interview at Bayonne
with the Duke of Alba, representative of Philip II., to consult as to the
means of delivering France from heretics. "They agreed at last," says
the contemporary historian Adriani [continuer of Guicciardini; he had
drawn his information from the _Journal of Cosmo de' Medici,_ Grand Duke
of Tuscany, who died in 1574], "in the opinion of the Catholic king, who
thought that this great blessing could not have accomplishment save by
the death of all the chiefs of the Huguenots, and by a new edition, as
the saying was, of the Sicilian Vespers. 'Take the big fish,' said the
Duke of Alba, 'and let the small fry go; one salmon is worth more than a
thousand frogs.' They decided that the deed should be done at Moulins in
Bourbonness, whither the king was to return. The execution of it was
afterwards deferred to the date of the St. Bartholomew, in 1572, at
Paris, because of certain suspicions which had been manifested by the
Huguenots, and because it was considered easier and more certain to get
them all together at Paris than at Moulins."

Catherine de' Medici charged Cardinal Santa Croce to assure Pope Pius V.
"that she and her son had nothing more at heart than to get the admiral
and all his confidants together some day and make a massacre (_un
macello_) of them; but the matter," she said, "was so difficult that
there was no possibility of promising to do it at one time more than at

La Noue bears witness in his _Memoires_ to "the resolution taken at
Bayonne, with the Duke of Alba aiding, to exterminate the Huguenots of
France and the beggars (_gueux_) of Flanders; whereof warning had been
given by those about whom there was no doubt. All these things, and many
others as to which I am silent, mightily waked up those," he adds, "who
had no desire to be caught napping. And I remember that the chiefs of
the religion held, within a short time, three meetings, as well at Valeri
as at Chatillon, to deliberate upon present occurrences, and to seek out
legitimate and honorable expedients for securing themselves against so
much alarm, without having recourse to extreme remedies."

De Thou regards these facts as certain, and, after having added some
details, he sums them all up in the words, "This is what passed at
Bayonne in 1565."

In 1571, after the third religious war and the peace of
St. Germain-en-Laye, Marshal de Tavaunes wrote to Charles IX., "Peace
has a chance of lasting, because neither of the two parties is willing
or able to renew open war; but, if one of the two sees quite a safe
opportunity for putting a complete end to what is at the root of the
question, this it will take; for to remain forever in the state now
existing is what nobody can or ought to hope for. And there is no such
near approximation to a complete victory as to take the persons. For to
surprise what they (the Reformers) hold, to put down their religion, and
to break off all at once the alliances which support them--this is
impossible. Thus there is no way but to take the chiefs all together
for to make an end of it."

Next year, on the 24th of August, 1572, when the St. Bartholomew broke
out, Tavannes took care to himself explain what he meant in 1571 by those
words, to take the chiefs all together for to make an end of it. Being
invested with the command in Paris, "he went about the city all day,"
says Brantome, "and, seeing so much blood spilt, he said and shouted to
the people, 'Bleed, bleed; the doctors say that bleeding is as good all
through this month of August as in May.'"

In the year which preceded the outbreak of the massacre, when the
marriage of Marguerite de Valois with the Prince of Navarre was agreed
upon, and Coligny was often present at court, sometimes at Blois and
sometimes at Paris, there arose between the king and the queen-mother a
difference which there had been up to that time nothing to foreshadow.
It was plain that the union between the two branches, Catholic and
Protestant, of the royal house and the patriotic policy of Coligny were
far more pleasing to Charles IX. than to his mother.

On the matrimonial question the king's feeling was so strong that he
expressed it roughly. Jeanne d'Albret having said to him one day that
the pope would make them wait a long while for the dispensation requested
for the marriage, "No, no, my clear aunt," said the king; "I honor you
more than I do the pope, and I love my sister more than I fear him. I am
not a Huguenot, but no more am I an ass. If the pope has too much of his
nonsense, I will myself take Margot by the hand and carry her off to be
married in open conventicle." Toligny, for his part, was so pleased with
the measures that Charles IX. had taken in favor of the Low Countries in
their quarrels with Philip II., and so confident himself of his influence
over the king, that when Tavannes was complaining in his presence "that
the vanquished should make laws for the victors," Coligny said to his
face, "Whoever is not for war with Spain is not a good Frenchman, and has
the red cross inside him." The Catholics were getting alarmed and
irritated. The Guises and their partisans left the court. It was near
the time fixed for the marriage of Henry of Navarre and Marguerite de
Valois; the new pope, Gregory XIII., who had at first shown more pliancy
than his predecessor Pius V., attached to the dispensation conditions to
which neither the intended husband nor King Charles IX. himself was
inclined to consent. The Queen of Navarre, Jeanne d'Albret, who had gone
to Paris in preparation for the marriage, had died there on the 8th of
June, 1572; a death which had given rise to very likely ill-founded
accusations of poisoning. "A princess," says D'Aubigne, "with nothing of
a woman but the sex, with a soul full of everything manly, a mind fit to
cope with affairs of moment, and a heart invincible in adversity." It
was in deep mourning that her son, become King of Navarre, arrived at
court, attended by eight hundred gentlemen, all likewise in mourning.
"But," says Marguerite de Valois herself, "the nuptials took place a few
days afterwards with such triumph and magnificence as none others of my
quality; the King of Navarre and his troop having changed their mourning
for very rich and fine clothes, and I being dressed royally, with crown
and corset of tufted ermine, all blazing with crown-jewels, and the grand
blue mantle with a train four ells long borne by three princesses, the
people choking one another down below to see us pass." The marriage was
celebrated on the 18th of August, by the Cardinal of Bourbon, in front of
the principal entrance of Notre-Dame. When the Princess Marguerite was
asked if she consented, she appeared to hesitate a moment; but King
Charles IX. put his hand a little roughly on her head, and made her lower
it in token of assent. Accompanied by the king, the queen-mother, and
all the Catholics present, Marguerite went to hear mass in the choir;
Henry and his Protestant friends walked about the cloister and the nave;
Marshal de Damville pointed out to Coligny the flags, hanging from the
vaulted roof of Notre-Dame, which had been taken from the vanquished at
the battle of Moncontour. "I hope," said the admiral, "that they will
soon have others better suited for lodgement in this place." He was
already dreaming of victories over the Spaniards.

Meanwhile Charles IX. was beginning to hesitate. He was quite willing
to disconnect himself from the King of Spain, and even to incur his
displeasure, but not to be actively embroiled with him and make war upon
him; he could not conceal from himself that this policy, thoroughly
French though it was, was considered in France too Protestant for a
Catholic king. Coligny urged him vehemently. "If you want men," he
said, "I have ten thousand at your service;" whereupon Tavannes said to
the king, "Sir, whoever of your subjects uses such words to you, you
ought to have his head struck off. How is it that he offers you that
which is your own? It is that he has won over and corrupted them, and
that he is a party-leader to your prejudice." Tavannes, a rough and
faithful soldier, did not admit that there could be amongst men moral
ties of a higher kind than political ties. Charles IX., too weak in mind
and character to think and act with independence and consistency in the
great questions of the day, only sought how to elude them, and to leave
time, that inscrutable master, to settle them in his place. His
indecision brought him to a state of impotence, and he ended by inability
to do anything but dodge and lie, like his mother, and even with his
mother. Whilst he was getting his sister married to the King of Navarre
and concerting his policy with Coligny, he was adopting towards the three
principal personages who came to talk over those affairs with him three
different sorts of language; to Cardinal Alessandrino, whom Pope Pius V.
had sent to him to oppose the marriage, he said, "My lord cardinal, all
that you say to me is sound; I acknowledge it, and I thank the pope and
you for it; if I had any other means of taking vengeance on my enemies,
I would not make this marriage; but I have no other." With Jeanne
d'Albret, he lauded himself for the marriage as the best policy he could
pursue. "I give my sister," he said, "not to the Prince of Navarre, but
to all the Huguenots, to marry them as it were, and take from them all
doubt as to the unchangeable fixity of my edicts." And to humor his
mother Catherine, he said to her, on the very evening of his interview
with Jeanne d'Albret, "What think you, madam? Do I not play my partlet
well?" "Yes, very well; but it is nothing if it is not continued." And
Charles continued to play his part, even after the Bartholomew was over,
for he was fond of saying with a laugh, "My big sister Margot caught all
those Huguenot rebels in the bird-catching style. What has grieved me
most is being obliged to dissimulate so long."

His contemporary Catholic biographer, Papirius Masson, who was
twenty-eight years old at the time of the St. Bartholomew, says of him,
"He is impatient in waiting, ferocious in his fits of anger, skilfully
masked when he wishes, and ready to break faith as soon as that appears
to his advantage."

[Illustration: Charles IX. and Catherine de' Medici----354]

Such was the prince, fiery and flighty, inconsistent and artful,
accessible to the most opposite sympathies as well as hatreds, of whom
Catherine de' Medici and Admiral Coligny were disputing the possession.

In the spring of 1572 Coligny might have considered himself the victor in
this struggle; at his instance Charles IX. had written on the 27th of
April to Count Louis of Nassau, leader of the Protestant insurrection in
Hainault, "that he was determined, so far as opportunities and the
arrangements of his affairs permitted him, to employ the powers which God
had put into his hands for the deliverance of the Low Countries from the
oppression under which they were groaning." Fortified by this promise of
the king's, Coligny had raised a body of French Protestants, and had sent
it under the command of La Noue to join the army of Louis of Nassau. The
Reformers had at first had some successes; they had taken Valenciennes
and Mons; but the Duke of Alba restored the fortunes of the King of
Spain; he re-entered Valenciennes and he was besieging Mons. Coligny
sent to the aid of that place a fresh body of French under the orders of
Senlis, one of his comrades in faith and arms. Before setting out,
Senlis saw Charles IX., received from him money together with
encouragement, and, in the corps he led, some Catholics were mixed with
the Protestants. But from the very court of France there came to the
Duke of Alba warnings which put him in a position to surprise the French
corps; and Senlis was beaten and made prisoner on the 10th of July.
"I have in my hands," the Duke of Alba sent word to his king, "a letter
from the King of France which would strike you dumb if you were to see
it; for the moment, it is expedient to say nothing about it." "News of
the defeat of Senlis," says Tavannes, "comes flying to court, and changes
hearts and counsels. Disdain, despite, is engendered in the admiral, who
hurls this defeat upon the heads of those who have prevented the king
from declaring himself; he raises a new levy of three thousand foot, and,
not regarding who he is and where he is, he declares, in the presumption
of his audacity, that he can no longer hold his partisans, and that it
must be one of two wars, Spanish or civil. It is all thunder-storm at
court; everyone remains on the watch at the highest pitch of resolution."
A grand council was assembled. Coligny did not care. He had already, at
the king's request, set forth in a long memorial all the reasons for his
policy of a war with Spain; the king had appeared struck with them; but,
"as he only sought," says De Thou, "to gain time without its being
perceived," he handed the admiral's memorial to the keeper of the seals,
John de Morvilliers, requesting him to set forth also all the reasons for
a pacific policy. Coligny, a man of resolution and of action, did not
take any pleasure in thus prolonging the discussion; nevertheless he
again brought forward and warmly advocated, at the grand council, the
views he had so often expressed. They were almost unanimously rejected.
Coligny did not consider himself bound to give them up. "I have
promised," said he, "on my own account, my assistance to the Prince of
Orange; I hope the king will not take it ill if by means of my friends,
and perhaps in person, I fulfil my promise." This reservation excited
great surprise. "Madam," said Coligny to the queen-mother, "the king is
to-day shunning a war which would promise him great advantages; God
forbid that there should break out another which he cannot shun!" The
council broke up in great agitation. "Let the queen beware," said
Tavannes, "of the king her son's secret councils, designs, and sayings;
if she do not look out, the Huguenots will have him. At any rate, before
thinking of anything else, let her exert herself to regain the mother's
authority which the admiral has caused her to lose."

The king was hunting at Brie. The queen-mother went and joined him; she
shut herself up with him in a cabinet, and, bursting into tears, she
said, "I should never have thought that, in return for having taken so
much pains to bring you up and preserve to you the crown, you would have
had heart to make me so miserable a recompense. You hide yourself from
me, me who am your mother, in order to take counsel of your enemies. I
know that you hold secret counsels with the admiral; you desire to plunge
rashly into war with Spain, in order to give your kingdom, yourself, and
the persons that are yours, over as a prey to them of the religion. If I
am so miserable a creature, yet before I see that, give me leave to
withdraw to the place of my birth; remove from you your brother, who may
call himself unfortunate in having employed his own life to preserve
yours; give him at least time to withdraw out of danger and from the
presence of enemies made in doing you service; Huguenots who desire not
war with Spain, but with France, and the subversion of all the Estates in
order to set up themselves."

Tavannes himself terms these expressions "an artful harangue;" but he
says, "it moved, astounded, and dismayed the king, not so much on the
score of the Huguenots as of his mother and brother, whose subtlety,
ambition, and power in the state he knew; he marvelled to see his
counsels thus revealed; he avowed them, asked pardon, promised obedience.
Having sown this distrust, having shot this first bolt, the queen-mother,
still in displeasure, withdrew to Monceaux. The trembling king followed
her; he found her with his brother and Sieurs de Tavannes, de Retz, and
the Secretary of State de Sauve, the last of whom threw himself upon his
knees and received his Majesty's pardon for having revealed his counsels
to his mother. The infidelity, the bravado, the audacity, the menaces,
and the enterprises of the Huguenots were magnified with so much of truth
and art that from friends behold them converted into enemies of the king,
who, nevertheless, wavering as ever, could not yet give up the desire he
had conceived of winning glory and reputation by war with Spain."

A fresh incident increased the agitation in the royal circle. In July,
1572, the throne of Poland had become vacant. A Polish embassy came to
offer it to the Duke of Anjou. On his part and his mother's, there was
at first great eagerness to accept it; Catherine was charmed to see her
favorite son becoming a king. "If we had required," says a Polish
historian, "that the French should build a bridge of solid gold over the
Vistula, they would have agreed." Hesitation soon took the place of
eagerness; Henry demanded information, and took time to reply. He had
shown similar hesitation at the time of the negotiations entered upon in
London, in 1571, with a view of making him the husband of Elizabeth,
Queen of England: Coligny, who was very anxious to have him away, pressed
Charles IX. to insist upon a speedy solution. "If Monsieur," said he,
"who would not have England by marriage, will not have Poland either by
election, let him declare once for all that he will not leave France."
The relations between the two brothers became day by day more
uncomfortable: two years later, Henry, for a brief period King of Poland,
himself told the story of them to his physician Miron. "When, by any
chance," he said, "the queen-mother and I, after the admiral's departure,
approached the king to speak to him of any matters, even those which
concerned merely his pleasure, we found him marvellously quick-tempered
and cross-grained, with rough looks and bearing, and his answers still
more so. One day, a very short time before the St. Bartholomew, setting
out expressly from my quarters to go and see the king, somebody told me
on inquiry that he was in his cabinet, whence the admiral, who had been
alone with him a very long while, had just that instant gone out. I
entered at once, as I had been accustomed to do. But as soon as the king
my brother perceived me, he, without saying anything to me, began walking
about furiously and with long steps, often looking towards me askance and
with a very evil eye, sometimes laying his hand upon his dagger, and in
so excited a fashion that I expected nothing else but that he would come
and take me by the collar to poniard me. I was very vexed that I had
gone in, reflecting upon the peril I was in, but still more upon how to
get out of it; which I did so dexterously, that, whilst he was walking
with his back turned to me, I retreated quickly towards the door, which I
opened, and, with a shorter obeisance than at my entry, I made my exit,
which was scarcely perceived by him until I was outside. And straightway
I went to look for the queen my mother; and, putting together all
reports, notifications, and suspicions, the time, and past circumstances,
in conjunction with this last meeting, we remained both of us easily
persuaded, and as it were certain, that it was the admiral who had
impressed the king with some bad and sinister opinion of us, and we
resolved from that moment to rid ourselves of him."

One idea immediately occurred to Catherine and her son. Two persons felt
a passionate hatred towards Coligny; they were the widow of Duke Francis
of Guise, Anne d'Este, become Duchess of Nemours by a second marriage,
and her son Henry de Guise, a young man of twenty-two. They were both
convinced that Coligny had egged on Poltrot to murder Duke Francis, and
they had sworn to exact vengeance. Being informed of the queen-mother's
and the Duke of Anjou's intention, they entered into it eagerly; the
young Duke of Guise believed his mother quite capable of striking down
the admiral in the very midst of one of the great assemblies at court;
the fair ladies of the sixteenth century were adepts in handling dagger
and pistol. In default of the Duchess of Nemours, her son was thought of
for getting rid of Coligny. "It was at one time decided," says the Duke
de Bouillon in his Memoires, "that M. de Guise should kill the admiral
during a tilt-at-the-ring which the king gave in the garden of the
Louvre, and in which all Messieurs were to lead sides. I was on that of
the duke, who was believed to have an understanding with the admiral. On
this occasion, it was so managed that our dresses were not ready, and the
late duke and his side did not tilt at all. The resolution against the
admiral was changed prudently; inasmuch as it was very perilous, for the
person of the king and of Messieurs, to have determined to kill him in
that place, there being present more than four hundred gentlemen of the
religion, who might have gone very far in case of an assault upon that
lord, who was so much beloved by them." Everything considered, it was
thought more expedient to employ for the purpose an inferior agent;
Catherine and the Duke of Anjou sent for a Gascon captain, a dependant of
the house of Lorraine, whom they knew to be resolute and devoted.
"We had him shown the means he should adopt," says the Duke of Anjou,
"in attacking him whom we had in our eye; but, having well scanned him,
himself and his movements, and his speech and his looks, which had made
us laugh and afforded us good pastime, we considered him too hare-brained
and too much of a wind-bag to deal the blow well." They then applied to
an officer "of practice and experience in murder," Charles de Louviers,
Sieur de Maurevert, who was called the king's slaughterman (_le tueur du
roi_), because he had already rendered such a service, and they agreed
with him as to all the circumstances of place, time, and procedure most
likely to secure the success of the deed, whilst giving the murderer
chances of escape.

In such situations there is scarcely any project the secret of which is
so well kept that there does not get abroad some rumor to warn an
observant mind; and when it is the fate of a religious or a popular hero
that is in question, there is never any want of devoted friends or
servants about him, ready to take alarm for him. When Coligny mounted
his horse to go from Chatillon to Paris, a poor countrywoman on his
estates threw herself before him, sobbing, "Ah! sir, ah! our good master,
you are going to destruction; I shall never see you again if once you go
to Paris; you will die there, you and all those who go with-you." At
Paris, on the approach of the St. Bartholomew, the admiral heard that
some of his gentlemen were going away. "They treat you too well here,"
said one of them, Langoiran, to him; "better to be saved with the fools
than lost for the sake of being thought over-wise." "The admiral was
beset by letters which reminded him of the queen-mother's crooked ways,
and the detestable education of the king, trained to every sort of
violence and horrible sin; his Bible is Macchiavelli; he has been
prepared by the blood of beasts for the shedding of human blood; he has
been persuaded that a prince is not bound to observe an edict extorted by
his subjects." To all these warnings Coligny replied at one time by
affirming the king's good faith, and at another by saying, "I would
rather be dragged dead through the muck-heaps of Paris than go back to
civil war." This great soul had his seasons, not of doubt as to his
faith or discouragement as to his cause, but of profound sorrow at the
atrocious or shameful spectacles and the public or private woes which had
to be gone through.

Charles IX. himself felt some disquietude as to the meeting of the Guises
and Coligny at his court. The Guises had quitted it before the 18th of
August, the day fixed for the marriage of King Henry of Navarre with
Marguerite de Valois. When the marriage was over, they were to return,
and they did. At the moment of their returning, the king said to
Coligny, with demonstrations of the most sincere friendship, "You know,
my dear father, the promise you made me not to insult any of the Guises
as long as you remained at court. On their side, they have given me
their word that they will have for you, and all the gentry of your
following, the consideration you deserve. I rely entirely upon your
word, but I have not so much confidence in theirs; I know that they are
only looking for an opportunity of letting their vengeance burst forth; I
know their bold and haughty character; as they have the people of Paris
devoted to them, and as, on coming hither, under pretext of the
rejoicings at my sister's marriage, they have brought a numerous body of
well-armed soldiers, I should be inconsolable if they were to take
anything in hand against you; such an outrage would recoil upon me. That
being so, if you think as I do, I believe the best thing for me is to
order into the city the regiment of guards, with such and such captains
(he mentioned none but those who were not objects of suspicion to
Coligny); this re-enforcement," added the king, "will secure public
tranquillity, and, if the factious make any disturbance, there will be
men to oppose to them." The admiral assented to the king's proposal. He
added that he was ready to declare "that never had he been guilty or
approving of the death of Duke Francis of Guise, and that he set down as
a calumniator and a scoundrel whoever said, that he had authorized it."
Though frequently going to the palace, both he and the Guises, they had
not spoken when they met. Charles had promised the Lorraine princes "not
to force them to make friends with Coligny more than was agreeable to
them." He believed that he had taken every precaution necessary to
maintain in his court, for some time at least, the peace he desired.

On Friday, the 22d of August, 1572, Coligny was returning on foot from
the Louvre to the Rue des Fosses--St.-Germain-l'Auxerrois, where he
lived; he was occupied in reading a letter which he had just received;
a shot, fired from the window of a house in the cloister of
St. Germain-l'Auxerrois, smashed two fingers of his right hand and
lodged a ball in his left arm; he raised his eyes, pointed out with his
injured hand the house whence the shot had come, and reached his
quarters on foot. Two gentlemen who were in attendance upon him rushed
to seize the murderer; it was too late; Maurevert had been lodging there
and on the watch for three days at the house of a canon, an old tutor to
the Duke of Guise; a horse from the duke's stable was waiting for him at
the back of the house; and, having done his job, he departed at a
gallop. He was pursued for several leagues without being overtaken.

Coligny sent to apprise the king of what had just happened to him.
"There," said he, "was a fine proof of fidelity to the agreement between
him and the Duke of Guise." "I shall never have rest, then!" cried
Charles, breaking the stick with which he was playing tennis with the
Duke of Guise and Teligny, the admiral's son-in-law; and he immediately
returned to his room. The Duke of Guise took himself off without a word.
Teligny speedily joined his father-in-law. Ambrose Pare had already
attended to him, cutting off the two broken fingers; somebody expressed a
fear that the balls might have been poisoned. "It will be as God pleases
as to that," said Coligny; and, turning towards the minister, Merlin, who
had hurried to him, he added, "pray that He may grant me the gift of
perseverance." Towards midday, Marshals de Damville, De Cosse, and De
Villars went to see him "out of pure friendship," they told him, "and not
to exhort him to endure his mishap with patience: we know that you will
not lack patience." "I do protest to you," said Coligny, "that death
affrights me not; it is of God that I hold my life; when He requires it
back from me, I am quite ready to give it up. But I should very much
like to see the king before I die; I have to speak to him of things which
concern his person and the welfare of his state, and which I feel sure
none of you would dare to tell him of." "I will go and inform his
Majesty, . . ." rejoined Damville; and he went out with Villars and
Teligny, leaving Marshal de Cosse in the room. "Do you remember," said
Coligny to him, "the warnings I gave you a few hours ago? You will do
well to take your precautions."

About two P. M., the king, the queen-mother, and the Dukes of Anjou and
Alencon, her two other sons, with many of their high officers, repaired
to the admiral's. "My dear father," said the king, as he went in, "the
hurt is yours; the grief and the outrage mine; but I will take such
vengeance that it shall never be forgotten;" to which he added his usual
imprecations. "Then the admiral, who lay in bed sorely wounded," says
the Duke of Anjou himself, in his account of this interview, "requested
that he might speak privately to the king, which the king granted
readily, making a sign to the queen my mother, and to me, to withdraw,
which we did incontinently into the middle of the room, where we remained
standing during this secret colloquy, which caused us great misgiving.
We saw ourselves surrounded by more than two hundred gentlemen and
captains of the admiral's party, who were in the room and another
adjoining, and, besides, in a ball below, the which, with sad faces and
the gestures and bearing of malcontents, were whispering in one another's
ears, frequently passing and repasssing before and behind us, not with so
much honor and respect as they ought to have done, and as if they had
some suspicion that we had somewhat to do with the admiral's hurt. We
were seized with astonishment and fear at seeing ourselves shut in there,
as my mother has since many times confessed to me, saying that she had
never been in any place where there was so much cause for fright, and
whence she had gone away with more relief and pleasure. This
apprehension caused us to speedily break in upon the conversation the
admiral was having with the king, under a polite excuse invented by the
queen my mother, who, approaching the king, said out loud that she had no
idea he would make the admiral talk so much, and that she saw quite well
that his physicians and surgeons considered it bad for him, as it
certainly was very dangerous, and enough to throw him into a fever, which
was, above everything, to be guarded against. She begged the king to put
off the rest of their conversation to another time, when the admiral was
better. This vexed the king mightily, for he was very anxious to hear
the remainder of what the admiral had to say to him. However, he being
unable to gainsay so specious an argument, we got the king away. And
incontinently the queen-mother (and I too) begged the king to let us know
the secret conversation which the admiral had held with him, and in which
he had been unwilling that we should be participators; which the king
refused several times to do. But finding himself importuned and hard
pressed by us, he told us abruptly and with displeasure, swearing by
God's death that what the admiral said was true, that kings realized
themselves as such in France only in so far as they had the 'power of
doing harm or good to their subjects and servants, and that this power
and management of affairs had slipped imperceptibly into the hands of the
queen my mother and mine.' 'This superintendent domination, the admiral
told me, might some day be very prejudicial to me and to all my kingdom,
and that I should hold it in suspicion and beware of it; of which he was
anxious to warn me, as one of my best and most faithful subjects, before
he died. There, God's death, as you wish to know, is what the admiral
said to me.' This, said as it was with passion and fury, went straight
home to our hearts, which we concealed as best we might, both of us,
however, defending ourselves in the matter. We continued this
conversation all the way from the admiral's quarters to the Louvre,
where, having left the king in his room, we retired to that of the queen
my mother, who was piqued and hurt to the utmost degree at this language
used by the admiral to the king, as well as at the credence which the
king seemed to accord to it, and was fearful lest it should bring about
some change and alteration in our affairs and in the management of the
state. Being unable to resolve upon any course at the moment, we
retired, putting off the question till the morrow, when I went to see my
mother, who was already up. I had a fine racket in my head, and so had
she, and for the time there was no decision come to save to have the
admiral despatched by some means or other. It being impossible any
longer to employ stratagems and artifices, it would have to be done
openly, and the king brought round to that way of thinking. We agreed
that, in the afternoon, we would go and pay him a visit in his closet,
whither we would get the Sieur de Nevers, Marshals de Tavannes and de
Retz, and Chancellor de Birague to come, merely to have their opinion as
to the means to be adopted for the execution, which we had already
determined upon, my mother and I."

On Saturday, the 23d of August, in the afternoon, the queen-mother, the
Duke of Anjou, Marshals do Tavannes and de Retz, the Duke of Nevers, and
the Chancellor de Birague met in the king's closet, who was irresolute
and still talking of exacting from the Guises heavy vengeance for the
murderous attack upon Coligny. Catherine "represented to him that the
party of the Huguenots had already seized this occasion for taking up
arms against him; they had sent," she said, "several despatches to
Germany to procure a levy of ten thousand reiters, and to the cantons of
the Swiss for another levy of ten thousand foot; the French captains,
partisans of the Huguenots, had already, most of them, set out to raise
levies within the kingdom time and place of meeting had already been
assigned and determined. All the Catholics, on their side," added
Catherine, "disgusted with so long a war and harassed by so many kinds of
calamities, have resolved to put a stop to them; they have decided
amongst them to elect a captain-general, to form a league offensive and
defensive against the Huguenots. The whole of France would thus be seen
armed and divided into two great parties, between which the king would
remain isolated, without any command and with about as much obedience.
For so much ruin and calamity in anticipation and already within a
finger's reach, and for the slaughter of so many thousands of men, a
preventive may be found in a single sword-thrust; all that is necessary
is to kill the admiral, the head and front of all the civil wars; the
designs and the enterprises of the Huguenots will die with him, and the
Catholics, satisfied with the sacrifice of two or three men, will remain
forever in obedience to the king. . . ." "At the beginning," continues
the Duke of Anjou, in his account, "the king would not by any means
consent to have the admiral touched; feeling, however, some fear of the
danger which we had so well depicted and represented, to him, he desired
that, in a case of such importance, every one should at once state his
opinion." When each of those present had spoken, the king appeared still
undecided. The queen-mother then resolved "to let him hear the truth in
toto from Marshal de Retz, from whom she knew that he would take it
better than from any other," says his sister Marguerite de Valois in her
Memoires, "as one who was more in his confidence and favor than any
other. The which came to see him in the evening, about nine or ten, and
told him that, as his faithful servant, he could not conceal from him the
danger he was in if he were to abide by his resolution to do justice on
M. de Guise, because it was necessary that he should know that the attack
upon the admiral was not M. de Guise's doing alone, but that my brother
Henry, the King of Poland, afterwards King of France, and the queen my
mother, had been concerned in it; which M. de Guise and his friends would
not fail to reveal, and which would place his Majesty in a position of
great danger and embarrassment." Towards midnight, the queen-mother went
down to the king, followed by her son Henry and four other councillors.
They found the king more put out than ever. The conversation began
again, and resolved itself into a regular attack upon the king. "The
Guises," he was told, "will denounce the king himself, together with his
mother and brother; the Huguenots will believe that the king was in
concert with the party, and they will take the whole royal family to
task. War is inevitable. Better to win a battle in Paris, where we hold
all the chiefs in our clutches, than put it to hazard in the field.
After a struggle of an hour and a half, Charles, in a violent state of
agitation, still hesitated; when the queen-mother, fearing lest, if there
were further delay, all would be discovered, said to him, 'Permit me and
your brother, sir, to retire to some other part of the kingdom.' Charles
rose from his seat. 'By God's death,' said he, 'since you think proper
to kill the admiral, I consent; but all the Huguenots in Paris as well,
in order that there remain not one to reproach me afterwards. Give the
orders at once.'" And he went back into his room.

In order to relieve and satisfy her own passions and those of her
favorite son, which were fear and love of power, the queen-mother had
succeeded in working her king-son into a fit of weakness and mad anger.
Anxious to profit by it, "she gave orders on the instant for the signal,
which was not to have been given until an hour before daybreak," says De
Thou, "and, instead of the bell at the Palace of Justice, the tocsin was
sounded by the bell of St.-Germain-Auxerrois, which was nearer."

Even before the king had given his formal consent, the projectors of the
outrage had carefully prepared for its execution; they had apportioned
out amongst themselves or to their agents the different quarters of the
city. The Guises had reserved for themselves that in which they
considered they had personal vengeance as well as religious enmity to
satisfy, the neighborhood of St.-Germain-l'Auxerrois, and especially Rue
de Bethisy and Rue des Fosses-St.-Germain. Awakened by the noise around
his house, and, before long, by arquebuse-shots fired in his court-yard,
Coligny understood what was going to happen; he jumped out of bed, put on
his dressing-gown, and, as he stood leaning against the wall, he said to
the clergyman, Merlin, who was sitting up with him, "M. Merlin, say me a
prayer; I commit my soul to my Saviour." One of his gentlemen, Cornaton,
entered the room. "What is the meaning of this riot?" asked Ambrose
Pare, who had also remained with the admiral.

"My lord," said Cornaton to Coligny, "it is God calling us." "I have
long been ready to die," said the admiral; "but you, my friends, save
yourselves, if it is still possible." All ran up stairs and escaped, the
majority by the roof; a German servant, Nicholas Muss, alone remained
with the admiral, "as little concerned," says Cornaton, "as if there were
nothing going on around him." The door of his room was forced. Two men,
servants of the Guises, entered first. One of them, Behme, attached to
the Duke of Guise's own person, came forward, saying, "Art thou not the
admiral?" "Young man," said Coligny, "thou comest against a wounded and
an aged man. Thou'lt not shorten my life by much." Behme plunged into
his stomach a huge pointed boar-spear which he had in his hand, and then
struck him on the head with it. Coligny fell, saying, "If it were but a
man! But 'tis a horse-boy." Others came in and struck him in their
turn. "Behme!" shouted the Duke of Guise from the court-yard, "hast
done?" "'Tis all over, my lord," was the answer; and the murderers threw
the body out of the window, where it stuck for an instant, either
accidentally or voluntarily, and as if to defend a last remnant of life.
Then it fell. The two great lords, who were waiting for it, turned over
the corpse, wiped the blood off the face, and said, "Faith, 'tis he, sure

[Illustration: Henry de Guise and the Corpse of Coligny----369]

Some have said that Guise gave him a kick in the face. A servant of the
Duke of Nevers cut off the head, and took it to the queen-mother, the
king, and the Duke of Anjou. It was embalmed with care, to be sent, it
is said, to Rome. What is certain is that, a few days afterwards,
Mandelot, governor of Lyons, wrote to the king, "I have received, sir,
the letter your Majesty was pleased to write to me, whereby you tell me
that you have been advertised that there is a man who has set out from
over yonder with the head he took from the admiral after killing him, for
to convey it to Rome, and to take care, when the said man arrives in this
city, to have him arrested, and to take from him the said head.
Whereupon I incontinently gave such strict orders, that, if he presents
himself, the command which it pleases your Majesty to lay upon me will be
acted upon. There hath not passed, for these last few days, by way of
this city, any person going Romewards save a squire of the Duke of
Guise's, named Paule, the which had departed four hours previously on the
same day on which I received the said letter from your Majesty."

We do not find anywhere, in reference to this incident, any information
going further than this reply of the governor of Lyons to Charles IX.
However it may be, the remains of Coligny's body, after having been hung
and exposed for some days on the gibbet of Montfaucon, were removed by
Duke Francis de Montmorency, the admiral's relative and friend, who had
them transferred to Chantilly and interred in the chapel of the castle.
After having been subjected, in the course of three centuries, at one
time to oblivion and at others to divers transferences, these sad relics
of a great man, a great Christian, and a great patriot, have been
resting, for the last two and twenty years, in the very castle of
Chatillon-sur-Loing, his ancestors' own domain having once more become
the property of a relative of his family, the Duke of Luxembourg, to whom
Count Anatole de Montesquiou transferred them, and who, in 1851, had them
sealed up in a bit of wall in ruins, at the foot of an old tower, under
the site of the bed-chamber of the Duchesses of Chatillon, where, in all
probability, Coligny was born. The more tardy the homage, the greater.

The actual murderers of Coligny, the real projectors of the
St. Bartholomew, Catherine de' Medici and her son the Duke of Anjou, at
the very moment when they had just ordered the massacre, were seized with
affright at the first sound of their crime. The Duke of Anjou finishes
his story with this page "After but two hours' rest during the night,
just as the day was beginning to break, the king, the queen my mother,
and I went to the frontal of the Louvre, adjoining the tennis-court, into
a room which looks upon the area of the stable-yard, to see the
commencement of the work. We had not been there long when, as we were
weighing the issues and the consequence of so great an enterprise, on
which, sooth to say, we had up to that time scarcely bestowed a thought,
we heard a pistol-shot fired. I could not say in what spot, or whether
it knocked over anybody; but well know I that the sound wounded all three
of us so deeply in spirit that it knocked over our senses and judgment,
stricken with terror and apprehension at the great troubles which were
then about to set in. To prevent them, we sent a gentleman at once and
with all haste to M. de Guise, to tell him and command him expressly from
us to retire into his quarters, and be very careful to take no steps
against the admiral, this single command putting a stop to everything
else, because it had been determined that in no spot in the city should
any steps be taken until, as a preliminary, the admiral had been killed.
But soon afterwards the gentleman returning told us that M. de Guise had
answered him that the command came too late, that the admiral was dead,
and the work was begun throughout the rest of the city. So we went back
to our original determination, and let ourselves follow the thread and
the course of the enterprise."

The enterprise, in fact, followed its thread and natural course without
its being in the power of anybody to arrest or direct it. It had been
absolutely necessary to give information of it the evening before to the
provost of tradesmen of Paris, Le Charron, president in the court of
taxation (Board of Excise), and to the chief men of the city. According
to Brantome, "they made great difficulties and imported conscience into
the matter; but M. de Tavannes, in the king's presence, rebuked them
strongly, and threatened them that, if they did not make themselves busy,
the king would have them hanged. The poor devils, unable to do aught
else, thereupon answered, 'Ha! is that the way you take it, sir, and you,
monsieur? We swear to you that you shall hear news thereof, for we will
ply our hands so well right and left that the memory shall abide forever
of a right well kept St. Bartholomew.'" "Wherein they did not fail,"
continues Brantome, "but they did not like it at first." According to
other reports, the first opposition of the provost of tradesmen, Le
Charron, was not without effect; it was not till the next day that he let
the orders he had received take their course; and it was necessary to
apply to his predecessor in his office, the ex-provost Marcel, a creature
of the queen-mother's, to set in motion the turbulent and the fanatical
amongst the populace, "which it never does to 'blood,' for it is
afterwards more savage than is desirable." Once let loose upon the
St. Bartholomew, the Parisian populace was eager indeed, but not alone in
its eagerness, for the work of massacre; the gentlemen of the court took
part in it passionately, from a spirit of vengeance, from religious
hatred, from the effect of smelling blood, from covetousness at the
prospect of confiscations at hand. Teligny, the admiral's son-in-law,
had taken refuge on a roof; the Duke of Anjou's guards make him a mark
for their arquebuses. La Rochefoucauld, with whom the king had been
laughing and joking up to eleven o'clock the evening before, heard a
knocking at his door, in the king's name; it is opened; enter six men in
masks and poniard him. The new Queen of Navarre, Marguerite de Valois,
had gone to bed by express order of her mother Catherine. "Just as I was
asleep," says she, "behold a man knocking with feet and hands at the door
and shouting, Navarre! Navarre! My nurse, thinking it was the king my
husband, runs quickly to the door and opens it. It was a gentleman named
M. de Leran, who had a sword-cut on the elbow, a gash from a halberd on
the arm, and was still pursued by four archers, who all came after him
into my bedroom. He, wishing to save himself, threw himself on to my
bed; as for me, feeling this man who had hold of me, I threw myself out
of bed towards the wall, and he after me, still holding me round the
body. I did not know this man, and I could not tell whether he had come
thither to offer me violence, or whether the archers were after him in
particular, or after me. We both screamed, and each of us was as much
frightened as the other. At last it pleased God that M. de Nanqay,
captain of the guards, came in, who, finding me in this plight, though he
felt compassion, could not help laughing; and, flying into a great rage
with the archers for this indiscretion, he made them begone, and gave me
the life of that poor man who had hold of me, whom I had put to bed and
attended to in my closet, until he was well."

[Illustration: The Queen of Navarre and the Huguenot----372]

We might multiply indefinitely these anecdotical scenes of the massacre,
most of them brutally ferocious, others painfully pathetic, some generous
and calculated to preserve the credit of humanity amidst one of its most
direful aberrations. History must show no pity for the vices and crimes
of men, whether princes or people; and it is her duty as well as her
right to depict them so truthfully that men's souls and imaginations may
be sufficiently impressed by them to conceive disgust and horror at them;
but it is not by dwelling upon them and by describing them minutely, as
if she had to exhibit a gallery of monsters and madmen, that history can
lead men's minds to sound judgments and salutary impressions; it is
necessary to have moral sense and good sense always in view, and set high
above great social troubles, just as sailors, to struggle courageously
against the tempest, need to see a luminous corner where the sky is
visible, and a star which reveals to them the port. We take no pleasure,
and we see no use, in setting forth in detail the works of evil; we
should be inclined to fear that, by familiarity with such a spectacle,
men would lose the perception of good, and cease to put hope in its
legitimate and ultimate superiority. Nor will we pause either to discuss
the secondary questions which meet us at the period of which we are
telling the story; for example, the question whether Charles IX. fired
with his own hand on his Protestant subjects whom he had delivered over
to the evil passions of the aristocracy and of the populace, or whether
the balcony from which he is said to have indulged in this ferocious
pastime existed at that time, in the sixteenth century, at the palace of
the Louvre, and overlooking the Seine. These questions are not without
historic interest, and it is well for learned men to study them; but we
consider them incapable of being resolved with certainty; and, even were
they resolved, they would not give the key to the character of Charles
IX. and to the portion which appertains to him in the deed of cruelty
with which his name remains connected. The great historic fact of the
St. Bartholomew is what we confine ourselves to; and we have attempted to
depict it accurately as regards Charles IX.'s hesitations and equally
feverish resolutions, his intermixture of open-heartedness and
double-dealing in his treatment of Coliguy, towards whom he felt himself
drawn without quite understanding him, and his puerile weakness in
presence of his mother, whom he feared far more than he trusted. When he
had plunged into the orgies of the massacre, when, after having said,
"Kill them all!" he had seen the slaughter of his companions in his royal
amusements, Teligny and La Rochefoucauld, Charles IX. abandoned himself
to a fit of mad passion. He was asked whether the two young Huguenot
princes, Henry of Navarre and Henry de Conde, were to be killed also;
Marshal de Retz had been in favor of it; Marshal de Tavannes had been
opposed to it; and it was decided to spare them. On the very night of
the St. Bartholomew, the king sent for them both. "I mean for the
future," said he, "to have but one religion in my kingdom; the mass or
death; make your choice." Henry of Navarre reminded the king of his
promises, and asked for time to consider; Henry de Conde "answered that
he would remain firm in the true religion though he should have to give
up his life for it." "Seditious madman, rebel, and son of a rebel," said
Charles, "if within three days you do not change your language, I will
have you strangled." At this first juncture, the king saved from the
massacre none but his surgeon, Ambrose Pare, and his nurse, both
Huguenots; on the very night after the murder of Coligny, he sent for
Ambrose Pare into his chamber, and made him go into his wardrobe, says
Brantome, "ordering him not to stir, and saying that it was not
reasonable that one who was able to be of service to a whole little world
should be thus massacred." A few days afterwards, "Now," said the king
to Pare, "you really must be a Catholic." "By God's light," answered
Pars, "I think you must surely remember, sir, to have promised me, in
order that I might never disobey you, never, on the other hand, to bid me
do four things--find my way back into my mother's womb, catch myself
fighting in a battle, leave your service, or go to mass." After a
moment's silence Charles rejoined, "Ambrose, I don't know what has come
over me for the last two or three days, but I feel my mind and my body
greatly excited, in fact, just as if I had a fever; meseems every moment,
just as much waking as sleeping, that those massacred corpses keep
appearing to me with their faces all hideous and covered with blood. I
wish the helpless and the innocent had not been included." "And in
consequence of the reply made to him," adds Sully in his (_Economies
royales_ t. i. p. 244, in the Petitot collection), "he next day issued
his orders, prohibiting, on pain of death, any slaying or plundering; the
which were, nevertheless, very ill observed, the animosities and fury of
the populace being too much inflamed to defer to them."

The historians, Catholic or Protestant, contemporary or researchful,
differ widely as to the number of the victims in this cruel massacre;
according to De Thou, there were about two thousand persons killed in
Paris the first day; D'Aubigne says three thousand; Brantome speaks of
four thousand bodies that Charles IX. might have seen floating down the
Seine; La Popeliniere reduces them to one thousand. There is to be
found, in the account-books of the city of Paris, a payment to the
grave-diggers of the cemetery of the Innocents for having interred eleven
hundred dead bodies stranded at the turns of the Seine near Chaillot,
Auteuil, and St. Cloud; it is probable that many corpses were carried
still farther, and the corpses were not all thrown into the river. The
uncertainty is still greater when one comes to speak of the number of
victims throughout the whole of France; De Thou estimates it at thirty
thousand, Sully at seventy thousand, Perefixe, Archbishop of Paris in the
seventeenth century, raises it to one hundred thousand; Papirius Masson
and Davila reduce it to ten thousand, without clearly distinguishing
between the massacre of Paris and those of the provinces; other
historians fix upon forty thousand. Great uncertainty also prevails as
to the execution of the orders issued from Paris to the governors at the
provinces; the names of the Viscount d'Orte, governor of Bayonne, and of
John le Hennuyer, Bishop of Lisieux, have become famous from their having
refused to take part in the massacre; but the authenticity of the letter
from the Viscount d'Orte to Charles IX. is disputed, though the fact of
his resistance appears certain; and as for the bishop, John le Hennuyer,
M. de Formeville seems to us to have demonstrated in his _Histoire de
l'ancien Eveche-comte de Lisieux_ (t. ii. pp. 299-314), "that there was
no occasion to save the Protestants of Lisieux, in 1572, because they did
not find themselves in any danger of being massacred, and that the merit
of it cannot be attributed to anybody, to the bishop, Le Hennuyer, any
more than to Captain Fumichon, governor of the town. It was only the
general course of events and the discretion of the municipal officers of
Lisieux that did it all." One thing which is quite true, and which it is
good to call to mind in the midst of so great a general criminality, is
that, at many spots in France, it met with a refusal to be associated in
it; President Jeannin at Dijon, the Count de Tende in Provence, Philibert
de la Guiche at Macon, Tanneguy le Veneur de Carrouge at Rouen, the Count
de Gordes in Dauphiny, and many other chiefs, military or civil, openly
repudiated the example set by the murderers of Paris; and the municipal
body of Nantes, a very Catholic town, took upon this subject, as has been
proved from authentic documents by M. Vaurigaud, pastor of the Reformed
Church at Nantes [in his _Essai sur l'Histoire des Eglises reformees de
Bretagne,_ t. i. pp. 190-194], a resolution which does honor to its
patriotic firmness as well as to its Christian loyalty.

[Illustration: Chancellor Michael de l'Hospital----376]

A great, good man, a great functionary, and a great scholar, in disgrace
for six years past, the Chancellor Michael de l'Hospital, received about
this time, in his retreat at Vignay, a visit from a great philosopher,
Michael de Montaigne, "anxious," said the visitor, "to come and testify
to you the honor and reverence with which I regard your competence and
the special qualities which are in you; for, as to the extraneous and the
fortuitous, it is not to my taste to put them down in the account."
Montaigne chose a happy moment for disregarding all but the personal, and
special qualities of the chancellor; shortly after his departure,
L'Hospital was warned that some sinister-looking horsemen were coming,
and that he would do well to take care of himself. "No matter, no
matter," he answered; "it will be as God pleases when my hour has come."
Next day he was told that those men were approaching his house, and he
was asked whether he would not have the gates shut against them, and have
them fired upon, in case they attempted to force an entrance. "No," said
he, "if the small gate will not do for them to enter by, let the big one
be opened." A few hours afterwards, L'Hospital was informed that the
king and the queen-mother were sending other horsemen to protect him.
"I didn't know," said the old man, "that I had deserved either death or
pardon." A rumor of his death flew abroad amongst his enemies, who
rejoiced at it. "We are told," wrote Cardinal Granvelle to his agent at
Brussels (October 8, 1572), "that the king has had Chancellor de
l'Hospital and his wife despatched, which would be a great blessing."
The agent, more enlightened than his chief, denied the fact, adding,
"They are a fine bit of rubbish left, L'Hospital and his wife." Charles
IX. wrote to his old adviser to reassure him, "loving you as I do." Some
time after, however, he demanded of him his resignation of the title of
chancellor, wishing to confer it upon La Birague, to reward him for his
co-operation in the St. Bartholomew. L'Hospital gave in his resignation
on the 1st of February, 1573, and died six weeks afterwards, on the 18th
of March. "I am just at the end of my long journey, and shall have no
more business but with God," he wrote to the king and the queen-mother.
"I implore Him to give you His grace, and to lead you with His hand in
all your affairs, and in the government of this great and beautiful
kingdom which He hath committed to your keeping, with all gentleness and
clemency towards your good subjects, in imitation of Himself, who is good
and, patient in bearing our burdens, and prompt to forgive you and pardon
you everything."

From the 24th to the 31st of August, 1572, the bearing and conduct of
Charles IX. and the queen-mother produced nothing but a confused mass of
orders and counter-orders, affirmations and denials, words and actions
incoherent and contradictory, all caused by a habit of lying and the
desire of escaping from the peril or embarrassment of the moment. On the
very first day of the massacre, about midday, the provost of tradesmen
and the sheriffs, who had not taken part in the "Paris matins," came
complaining to the king "of the pillage, sack, and murder which were
being committed by many belonging to the suite of his Majesty, as well as
to those of the princes, princesses, and lords of the court, by noblemen,
archers, and soldiers of the guard, as well as by all sorts of gentry and
people mixed with them and under their wing." Charles ordered them "to
get on horseback, take with them all the forces in the city, and keep
their eyes open day and night to put a stop to the said murder, pillage,
and sedition arising," he said, "because of the rivalry between the
houses of Guise and Chatillon, and because they of Guise had been
threatened by the admiral's friends, who suspected them of being at the
bottom of the hurt inflicted upon him." He, the same day, addressed to
the governors of the provinces a letter in which he invested the
disturbance with the same character, and gave the same explanation of it.
The Guises complained violently at being thus disavowed by the king, who
had the face to throw upon them alone the odium of the massacre which he
had ordered. Next day, August 25, the king wrote to all his agents, at
home and abroad, another letter, affirming that "what had happened at
Paris had been done solely to prevent the execution of an accursed
conspiracy which the admiral and his allies had concocted against him,
his mother, and his brothers;" and, on the 26th of August, he went with
his two brothers to hold in state a bed of justice, and make to the
Parliament the same declaration against Coligny and his party. "He could
not," he said, "have parried so fearful a blow but by another very
violent one; and he wished all the world to know that what had happened
at Paris had been done not only with his consent, but by his express
command." Whereupon it was enjoined upon the court, says De Thou, "to
cause investigations to be made as to the conspiracy of Coligny, and to
decree what it should consider proper, conformably with the laws and with
justice." The next day but one, August 28, appeared a royal manifesto
running, "The king willeth and intendeth that all noblemen and others
whosoever of the religion styled Reformed be empowered to live and abide
in all security and liberty, with their wives, children, and families, in
their houses, as they have heretofore done and were empowered to do by
benefit of the edicts of pacification. And nevertheless, for to obviate
the troubles, scandals, suspicion, and distrust, which might arise by
reason of the services and assemblies that might take place both in the
houses of the said noblemen and elsewhere, as is permitted by the
aforesaid edicts of pacification, his Majesty doth lay very express
inhibitions and prohibitions upon all the said noblemen and others of the
said religion against holding assemblies, on any account whatsoever,
until that, by the said lord the king, after having provided for the
tranquillity of his kingdom, it be otherwise ordained. And that, on pain
of confiscation of body and goods in case of disobedience."

These tardy and lying accusations officially brought against Coligny and
his friends; these promises of liberty and security for the Protestants,
renewed in the terms of the edicts of pacification, and, in point of
fact, annulled at the very moment at which they were being renewed; the
massacre continuing here and there in France, at one time with the secret
connivance and at another notwithstanding the publicly-given word of the
king and the queen-mother; all this policy, at one and the same time
violent and timorous, incoherent and stubborn, produced amongst the
Protestants two contrary effects: some grew frightened, others angry.
At court, under the direct influence of the king and his surroundings,
"submission to the powers that be" prevailed; many fled; others, without
abjuring their religion, abjured their party. The two Reformer-princes,
Henry of Navarre and Henry de Conde, attended mass on the 29th of
September, and, on the 3d of October, wrote to the pope, deploring their
errors and giving hopes of their conversion. Far away from Paris, in the
mountains of the Pyrenees and of Languedoc, in the towns where the
Reformers were numerous and confident, at Sancerre, at Montauban, at
Nimes, at La Rochelle, the spirit of resistance carried the day. An
assembly, meeting at Milhau, drew up a provisional ordinance for the
government of the Reformed church, "until it please God, who has the
hearts of kings in His keeping, to change that of King Charles IX. and
restore the state of France to good order, or to raise up such
neighboring prince as is manifestly marked out, by his virtue and by
distinguishing signs, for to be the liberator of this poor afflicted
people." In November, 1572, the fourth religious war broke out. The
siege of La Rochelle was its only important event. Charles IX. and his
councillors exerted themselves in vain to avoid it. There was everything
to disquiet them in this enterprise: so sudden a revival of the religious
war after the grand blow they had just struck, the passionate energy
manifested by the Protestants in asylum at La Rochelle, and the help they
had been led to hope for from Queen Elizabeth, whom England would never
have forgiven for indifference in this cause. Marshal de Biron, who was
known to favor the Reformers, was appointed governor of La Rochelle; but
he could not succeed in gaining admittance within the walls, even alone
and for the purpose of parleying with the inhabitants. The king heard
that one of the bravest Protestant chiefs, La Noue _Ironarm,_ had retired
to Mons with Prince Louis of Nassau. The Duke of Longueville, his old
enemy, induced him to go to Paris. The king received him with great
favor, gave up to him the property of Teligny, whose sister La Noue had
married, and pressed him to go to La Rochelle and prevail upon the
inhabitants to keep the peace. La Noue refused, saying that he was not
at all fitted for this commission. The king promised that he would ask
nothing of him which could wound his honor. La Noue at last consented,
and repaired, about the end of November, 1572, to a village close by La
Rochelle, whither it was arranged that deputies from the town would come
and confer with him. And they came, in fact, but at their first meeting,
"We are come," they said, "to confer with M. de La Noue, but we do not
see him here." La Noue got angry. "I am astonished," he said, "that you
have so soon forgotten one who has received so many wounds and lost an
arm fighting for you." "Yes, there is a M. de La Noue, who was one of
us, and who bravely defended our cause; but he never flattered us with
vain hopes, he never invited us to conferences to betray us." La Noue
got more fiercely angry. "All I ask of you is, to report to the senate
what I have to say to them." They complied, and came back with
permission for him to enter the town. The people looked at him, as he
passed, with a mixture of distrust and interest. After hearing him, the
senate rejected the pacific overtures made to them by La Noue. "We have
no mind to treat specially and for ourselves alone; our cause is that of
God and of all the churches of France; we will accept nothing but what
shall seem proper to all our brethren. For yourself, we give you your
choice between three propositions: remain in our town as a simple
burgess, and we will give you quarters; if you like better to be our
commandant, all the nobility and the people will gladly have you for
their head, and will fight with confidence under your orders; if neither
of these propositions suits you, you shall be welcome to go aboard one of
our vessels and cross over to England, where you will find many of your
friends." La Noue did not hesitate; he became, under the authority of
the mayor Jacques Henri, the military head of La Rochelle, whither
Charles IX. had sent him to make peace. The king authorized him to
accept this singular position. La Noue conducted himself so honorably in
it, and everybody was so convinced of his good faith as well as bravery,
that for three months he commanded inside La Rochelle, and superintended
the preparations for defence, all the while trying to make the chances of
peace prevail. At the end of February, 1573, he recognized the
impossibility of his double commission, and he went away from La
Rochelle, leaving the place in better condition than that in which he had
found it, without either king or Rochellese considering that they had any
right to complain of him.

Biron first and then the Duke of Anjou in person took the command of the
siege. They brought up, it is said, forty thousand men and sixty pieces
of artillery. The Rochellese, for defensive strength, had but twenty-two
companies of refugees or inhabitants, making in all thirty-one hundred
men. The siege lasted from the 26th of February to the 13th of June,
1573; six assaults were made on the place; in the last, the ladders had
been set at night against the wall of what was called Gospel bastion; the
Duke of Guise, at the head of the assailants, had escaladed the breach,
but there he discovered a new ditch and a new rampart erected inside;
and, confronted by these unforeseen obstacles, the men recoiled and fell
back. La Rochelle was saved. Charles IX. was more and more desirous of
peace; his brother, the Duke of Anjou, had just been elected King of
Poland; Charles IX. was anxious for him to leave France and go to take
possession of his new kingdom. Thanks to these complications, the peace
of La Rochelle was signed on the 6th of July, 1573. Liberty of creed and
worship was recognized in the three towns of La Rochelle, Montauban, and
Nimes. They were not obliged to receive any royal garrison, on condition
of giving hostages to be kept by the king for two years. Liberty of
worship throughout the extent of their jurisdiction continued to be
recognized in the case of lords high-justiciary. Everywhere else the
Reformers had promises of not being persecuted for their creed, under the
obligation of never holding an assembly of more than ten persons at a

Book of the day: