Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

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

Part 7 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.

time. These were the most favorable conditions they had yet obtained.

Certainly this was not what Charles IX. had calculated upon when he
consented to the massacre of the Protestants. "Provided," he had said,
"that not a single one is left to reproach me." The massacre had been
accomplished almost without any resistance but that offered by certain
governors of provinces or towns, who had refused to take part in it. The
chief leader of French Protestantism, Coligny, had been the first victim.
Far more than that, the Parliament of Paris had accepted the royal lie
which accused Coligny of conspiring for the downfall of the king and the
royal house; a decree, on that very ground, sentenced to condemnation the
memory, the family, and the property of Coligny, with all sorts of
rigorous, we should rather say atrocious, circumstances. And after
having succeeded so well against the Protestants, Charles IX. saw them
recovering again, renewing the struggle with him, and wresting from him
such concessions as he had never yet made to them. More than ever might
he exclaim, "Then I shall never have rest!" The news that came to him
from abroad was not more calculated to satisfy him.

[Illustration: The St. Bartholomew----383]

The St. Bartholomew had struck Europe with surprise and horror; not only
amongst the princes and in the countries that were Protestant, in
England, Scotland, and Northern Europe, but in Catholic Germany itself,
there was a very strong feeling of reprobation; the Emperor Maximilian
II. and the Elector Palatine Frederic III., called the Pious, showed it
openly; when the Duke of Anjou, elected King of Poland, went through
Germany to go and take possession of his kingdom, he was received at
Heidelberg with premeditated coolness. When he arrived at the gate of
the castle, not a soul went to meet him; alone he ascended the steps, and
found in the hall a picture representing the massacre of St. Bartholomew;
the elector called his attention to the portraits of the principal
victims, amongst others that of Coligny, and at table he was waited upon
solely by French Protestant refugees. At Rome itself, in the midst of
official satisfaction and public demonstrations of it exhibited by the
pontifical court, the truth came out, and Pope Gregory XIII. was touched
by it when certain of my lords the cardinals who were beside him "asked
wherefore he wept and was sad at so goodly a despatch of those wretched
folk, enemies of God and of his Holiness: 'I weep,' said the pope, 'at
the means the king used, exceeding unlawful and forbidden of God, for to
inflict such punishment; I fear that one will fall upon him, and that he
will not have a very long bout of it (will not live very long). I fear,
too, that amongst so many dead folk there died as many innocent as
guilty.'" [_Brantome,_ t. iv. p. 306. He attributes this language to
Pope Pius V., who died four months before the St. Bartholomew. Gregory
XIII., elected May 15, 1572, was pope when the massacre took place.] Only
the King of Spain, Philip II., a fanatical despot, and pitiless
persecutor, showed complete satisfaction at the event; and he offered
Charles IX. the assistance of his army, if he had need of it, against
what there was remaining of heretics in his kingdom.

Charles IX. had not mind or character sufficiently sound or sufficiently
strong to support, without great perturbation, the effect of so many
violent, repeated, and often contradictory impressions. Catherine de
Medici had brought up her three sons solely with a view of having their
confidence and implicit obedience. "All the actions of the
queen-mother," said the Venetian ambassador Sigismund Cavalli, who had
for a long while resided at her court, "have always been prompted and
regulated by one single passion, the passion of ruling." Her son Charles
had yielded to it without an effort in his youth. "He was accustomed to
say that, until he was five and twenty, he meant to play the fool; that
is to say, to think of nothing but of enjoying his heyday; accordingly he
showed aversion for speaking and treating of business, putting himself
altogether in his mother's hands. Now, he no longer thinks and acts in
the same way. I have been told that, since the late events, he requires
to have the same thing said more than three times over by the queen,
before obeying her." It was not with regard to his mother only that
Charles had changed. "His looks," says Cavalli, "have become melancholy
and sombre; in his conversations and audiences he does not look the
speaker in the face; he droops his head, closes his eyes, opens them all
at once, and, as if he found the movement painful, closes them again with
no less suddenness. It is feared that the demon of vengeance has
possessed him; he used to be merely severe; it is feared that he is
becoming cruel. He is temperate in his diet; drinks nothing but water.
To tire himself at any price, is his object. He remains on horseback for
twelve or fourteen consecutive hours; and so he goes hunting and coursing
through the woods the same animal, the stag, for two or three days, never
stopping but to eat, and never resting but for an instant during the
night." He was passionately fond of all bodily exercises, the practice
of arms, and the game of tennis. "He had a forge set up for himself,"
says Brantome, "and I have seen him forging cannon, and horseshoes, and
other things as stoutly as the most robust farriers and forgemen." He,
at the same time, showed a keen and intelligent interest in intellectual
works and pleasures. He often had a meeting, in the evening, of poets,
men of letters, and artists--Ronsard, Amadis Jamin, Jodelle, Daurat,
Baif; in 1570 he gave them letters patent for the establishment of an
Academy of poetry and music, the first literary society founded in France
by a king; but it disappeared amidst the civil wars. Charles IX.
himself sang in the choir, and he composed a few hunting-airs. Ronsard
was a favorite, almost a friend, with him; he used to take him with him
on his trips, and give him quarters in his palace, and there was many an
interchange of verse between them, in which Ronsard did not always have
the advantage. Charles gave a literary outlet to his passion for
hunting; he wrote a little treatise entitled La Chasse royale, which was
not published until 1625, and of which M. Henry Chevreul brought out, in
1857, a charming and very correct edition. Charles IX. dedicated it to
his lieutenant of the hunt, Mesnil, in terms of such modest and
affectionate simplicity that they deserve to be kept in remembrance.
"Mesnil," said the king, "I should feel myself far too ungrateful, and
expect to be chidden for presumption, if, in this little treatise that I
am minded to make upon stag hunting, I did not, before any one begins to
read it, avow and confess that I learnt from you what little I know.
. . . I beg you, also, Mesnil, to be pleased to correct and erase what
there is wrong in the said treatise, the which, if peradventure it is so
done that there is nothing more required than to re-word and alter, the
credit will be firstly yours for having so well taught me, and then mine
for having so well remembered. Well, then, having been taught by so good
a master, I will be bold enough to essay it, begging you to accept it as
heartily as I present it and dedicate it to you."

These details and this quotation are allowable in order to shed full
light upon the private and incoherent character of this king, who bears
the responsibility of one of the most tragic events in French history.
In the spring of 1574, at the age of twenty-three years and eleven
months, and after a reign of eleven years and six months, Charles IX.
was attacked by an inflammatory malady, which brought on violent
hemorrhage; he was revisited, in his troubled sleep, by the same bloody
visions about which, a few days after the St. Bartholomew, he had spoken
to Ambrose Pare. He no longer retained in his room anybody but two of
his servants and his nurse, "of whom he was very fond, although she was a
Huguenot," says the contemporary chronicler Peter de l'Estoile. "When
she had lain down upon a chest, and was just beginning to doze, hearing
the king moaning, weeping, and sighing, she went full gently up to the
bed. 'Ah, nurse, nurse,' said the king, 'what bloodshed and what
murders! Ah! what evil counsel have I followed! O, my God! forgive me
them and have mercy upon me, if it may please Thee! I know not what hath
come to me, so bewildered and agitated do they make me. What will be the
end of it all? What shall I do? I am lost; I see it well.' Then said
the nurse to him, 'Sir, the murders be on the heads of those who made you
do them! Of yourself, sir, you never could; and since you are not
consenting thereto, and are sorry therefor, believe that God will not put
them down to your account, and will hide them with the cloak of justice
of His Son, to whom alone you must have recourse. But for God's sake,
let your Majesty cease weeping!' And thereupon, having been to fetch him
a pocket-handkerchief, because his own was soaked with tears, after that
the king had taken it from her hand, he signed to her to go away and
leave him to his rest."

On Sunday, May 30, 1574, Whitsunday, about three in the afternoon,
Charles IX. expired, after having signed an ordinance conferring the
regency upon his mother Catherine, "who accepted it," was the expression
in the letters patent, "at the request of the Duke of Alencon, the King
of Navarre, and other princes and peers of France." According to
D'Aubigne, Charles used often to say of his brother Henry, that, "when he
had a kingdom on his hands, the administration would find him out, and
that he would disappoint those who had hopes of him." The last words he
said were, "that he was glad not to have left any young child to succeed
him, very well knowing that France needs a man, and that, with a child,
the king and the reign are unhappy."

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

[Illustration: Henry III----388]

Though elected King of Poland on the 9th of May, 1573, Henry, Duke of
Anjou, had not yet left Paris at the end of the summer. Impatient at his
slowness to depart, Charles IX. said, with his usual oath, "By God's
death! my brother or I must at once leave the kingdom: my mother shall
not succeed in preventing it." "Go," said Catherine to Henry; "you will
not be away long." She foresaw, with no great sorrow one would say, the
death of Charles IX., and her favorite son's accession to the throne of
France. Having arrived in Poland on the 25th of January, 1574, and been
crowned at Cracow on the 24th of February, Henry had been scarcely four
months King of Poland when he was apprised, about the middle of June,
that his brother Charles had lately died, on the 30th of May, and that he
was King of France. "Do not waste your time in deliberating," said his
French advisers; "you must go and take possession of the throne of France
without abdicating that of Poland: go at once and without fuss." Henry
followed this counsel. He left Cracow, on the 18th of June, with a very
few attendants. Some Poles were apprehensive of his design, but said
nothing about it. He went a quarter of a league on foot to reach the
horses which were awaiting him, set off at a gallop, rode all night, and
arrived next day early on the frontier of Moravia, an Austrian province.
The royal flight created a great uproar at Cracow; the noblemen, and even
the peasants, armed with stakes and scythes, set out in pursuit of their
king. They did not come up with him; they fell in with his chancellor
only, Guy du Faur, Sieur de Pibrac, who had missed him at the appointed
meeting-place, and who, whilst seeking to rejoin him, had lost himself in
the forests and marshes, concealed himself in the osiers and reeds, and
been obliged now and then to dip his head, in the mud to avoid the arrows
discharged on all sides by the peasants in pursuit of the king. Being
arrested by some people who were for taking him back to Cracow and paying
him out for his complicity in his master's flight, he with great
difficulty obtained his release and permission to continue his road.
Destined to become more celebrated by his writings and by his Quatrains
moraux than by his courtly adventures, Pibrac rejoined King Henry at
Vienna, where the Emperor Maximilian II. received him with great
splendor. Delivered from fatigue and danger, Henry appeared to think of
nothing but resting and diverting himself; he tarried to his heart's
content at Vienna, Venice, Ferrara, Mantua, and Turin. He was everywhere
welcomed with brilliant entertainments, which the Emperor Maximilian and
the senators of Venice accompanied with good advice touching the
government of France in her religious troubles; and the nominal sovereign
of two kingdoms took nearly three months in going from that whence he had
fled to that of which he was about to take possession. Having started
from Cracow on the 18th of June, 1574, he did not arrive until the 5th of
September at Lyons, whither the queen-mother had sent his brother, the
Duke of Alencon, and his brother-in-law, the King of Navarre, to receive
him, going herself as far as Bourgoin in Dauphiny, in order to be the
first to see her darling son again.

The king's entry into France caused, says De Thou, a strange revulsion in
all minds. "During the lifetime of Charles IX., none had seemed more
worthy of the throne than Henry, and everybody desired to have him for
master. But scarcely had he arrived when disgust set in to the extent of
auguring very ill of his reign. There was no longer any trace in this
prince, who had been nursed, so to speak, in the lap of war, of that
manly and warlike courage which had been so much admired. He no longer
rode on horseback; he did not show himself amongst his people, as his
predecessors had been wont to do; he was only to be seen shut up with a
few favorites in a little painted boat which went up and down the Saone
he no longer took his meals without a balustrade, which did not allow him
to be approached any Hearer; and if anybody had any petitions to present
to him, they had to wait for him as he came out from dinner, when he took
them as he hurried by. For the greater part of the day he remained
closeted with some young folks, who alone had the prince's ear, without
any body's knowing how they had arrived at this distinction, whilst the
great, and those whose services were known, could scarcely get speech of
him. Showiness and effeminacy had taken the place of the grandeur and
majesty which had formerly distinguished our kings." [De Thou, _Histoire
universelle,_ t. vii. p. 134.]

[Illustration: Indolence of Henry III---390]

"The time was ill chosen by Henry III. for this change of habits and for
becoming an indolent and voluptuous king, set upon taking his pleasure in
his court and isolating himself from his people. The condition and ideas
of France were also changing, but to issue in the assumption of quite a
different character and to receive development in quite a different
direction. Catholics or Protestants, agents of the king's government or
malcontents, all were getting a taste for and adopting the practice of
independence and a vigorous and spontaneous activity. The bonds of the
feudal system were losing their hold, and were not yet replaced by those
of a hierarchically organized administration. Religious creeds and
political ideas were becoming, for thoughtful and straightforward
spirits, rules of conduct, powerful motives of action, and they furnished
the ambitious with effective weapons. The theologians of the Catholic
church and of the Reformed churches--on one side the Cardinal of
Lorraine, Cardinals Campeggi and Sadolet, and other learned priests or
prelates, and on the other side Calvin, who had been nursed, so to speak,
in the lap of war, of that manly and warlike courage which had been so
much admired. He no longer rode on horseback; he did not show himself
amongst his people, as his predecessors had been wont to do; he was only
to be seen shut up with a few favorites in a little painted boat which
went up and down the Saone he no longer took his meals without a
balustrade, which did not allow him to be approached any nearer; and if
anybody had any petitions to present to him, they had to wait for him as
he came out from dinner, when he took them as he hurried by. For the
greater part of the day he remained closeted with some young folks, who
alone had the prince's ear, without anybody's knowing how they had
arrived at this distinction, whilst the great, and those whose services
were known, could scarcely get speech of him. Showiness and effeminacy
had taken the place of the grandeur and majesty which had formerly
distinguished our kings." [De Thou, Histoire universelle, t. vii.
p. 134.]

The time was ill chosen by Henry III. for this change of habits and for
becoming an indolent and voluptuous king, set upon taking his pleasure in
his court and isolating himself from his people. The condition and
ideas of France were also changing, but to issue in the assumption of
quite a different character and to receive development in quite a
different direction. Catholics or Protestants, agents of the king's
government or malcontents, all were getting a taste for and adopting the
practice of independence and a vigorous and spontaneous activity. The
bonds of the feudal system were losing their hold, and were not yet
replaced by those of a hierarchically organized administration.
Religious creeds and political ideas were becoming, for thoughtful and
straightforward spirits, rules of conduct, powerful motives of action,
and they furnished the ambitious with effective weapons. The theologians
of the Catholic church and of the Reformed churches--on one side the
Cardinal of Lorraine, Cardinals Campeggi and Sadolet, and other learned
priests or prelates, and on the other side Calvin, Theodore de Beze,
Melancthon, and Bucer--were working with zeal to build up into systems of
dogma their interpretations of the great facts of Christianity, and they
succeeded in implanting a passionate attachment to them in their flocks.
Independently of these religious controversies, superior minds, profound
lawyers, learned scholars were applying their energies to founding, on a
philosophical basis and historic principles, the organization of
governments and the reciprocal rights of princes and peoples. Ramus,
one of the last and of the most to be lamented victims of the
St. Bartholomew; Francis Hotman, who, in his Franco-Gallia, aspired to
graft the new national liberties upon the primitive institutions of the
Franks; Hubert Languet, the eloquent author of the _Vindicice contra
tyrannos, or de la Puissance legitime du Prince cur le Peuple et du
Peuple sur le Prince;_ John Bodin, the first, in original merit, amongst
the publicists of the sixteenth century, in his _six livres de LA
REPUBLIQUE;_ all these eminent men boldly tackled the great questions of
political liberty or of legislative reforms. _Le Contre-un,_ that
republican treatise by De la Boetie, written in 1546, and circulated, at
first, in manuscript only, was inserted, between 1576 and 1578, in the
_Memoires de l'Etat de France,_ and passionately extolled by the
independent thinker Michael de Montaigne in his Essais, of which nine
editions were published between 1580 and 1598, and evidently very much
read in the world of letters. An intellectual movement so active and
powerful could not fail to have a potent effect upon political life.
Before the St. Bartholomew, the great religious and political parties,
the Catholic and the Protestant, were formed and at grips; the house of
Lorraine at the head of the Catholics, and the house of Bourbon, Conde,
and Coligny at the head of the Protestants, with royalty trying feebly
and vainly to maintain between them a hollow peace. To this stormy
and precarious, but organized and clearly defined condition, the
St. Bartholomew had caused anarchy to succeed. Protestantism,
vanquished but not destroyed, broke up into provincial and municipal
associations without recognized and dominant heads, without discipline
or combination in respect of either their present management or their
ultimate end. Catholicism, though victorious, likewise underwent a
break-up; men of mark, towns and provinces, would not accept the
St. Bartholomew and its consequences; a new party, the party of the
policists, sprang up, opposed to the principle and abjuring the practice
of persecution, having no mind to follow either the Catholics in their
outrages or royalty in its tergiversations, and striving to maintain in
the provinces and the towns, where it had the upper hand, enough of order
and of justice to at least keep at a distance the civil war which was
elsewhere raging. Languedoc owed to Marshal de Damville, second son of
the Constable Anne de Montmorency, this comparatively bearable position.
But the degree of security and of local peace which it offered the people
was so imperfect, so uncertain, that the break-up of the country and of
the state went still farther. In a part of Languedoc, in the Vivarais,
the inhabitants, in order to put their habitations and their property in
safety, resolved to make a league amongst themselves, without consulting
any authority, not even Marshal de Damville, the peace-seeking governor
of their province. Their treaty of alliance ran, that arms should be
laid down throughout the whole of the Vivarais; that none, foreigner or
native, should be liable to trouble for the past; that tillers of the
soil and traders should suffer no detriment in person or property; that
all hostilities should cease in the towns and all forays in the country;
that there should everywhere be entire freedom for commerce; that cattle
which had been lifted should be immediately restored gratis; that
concerted action should be taken to get rid of the garrisons out of the
country and to raze the fortresses, according as the public weal might
require; and finally that whosoever should dare to violate these
regulations should be regarded as a traitor and punished as a disturber
of the public peace. "As soon as the different authorities in the state,
Marshal de Damville as well as the rest, were informed of this novelty,"
says De Thou, "they made every effort to prevent it from taking effect.
'Nothing could be of more dangerous example,' they said, 'than to suffer
the people to make treaties in this way and on their own authority,
without waiting for the consent of his Majesty or of those who
represented him in the provinces.' The folks of the Vivarais, on the
contrary, presumed to justify themselves by saying that the step they had
taken did not in any way infringe the king's authority; that it was
rather an opening given by them for securely establishing tranquillity in
the kingdom; that nothing was more advantageous or could contribute more
towards peace than to raze all those fortresses set up in the heart of
the state, which were like so many depots of revolt; that by a diminution
of the garrisons the revenues of his Majesty would be proportionately
augmented; that, at any rate, there would result this advantage, that the
lands, which formed almost the whole wealth of the kingdom, would be
cultivated, that commerce would flourish, and that the people, delivered
from fear of the many scoundrels who, found a retreat in those places,
would at last be able to draw breath after the many misfortunes they had
experienced."

It was in this condition of disorganization and red-hot anarchy that
Henry III., on his return from Poland, and after the St. Bartholomew,
found France; it was in the face of all these forces, full of life, but
scattered and excited one against another, that, with the aid of his
mother, Catherine, he had to re-establish unity in the state, the
effectiveness of the government, and the public peace. It was not a task
for which the tact of an utterly corrupted woman and an irresolute prince
sufficed. What could the artful manoeuvrings of Catherine and the
waverings of Henry III. do towards taming both Catholics and Protestants
at the same time, and obliging them to live at peace with one another,
under one equitable and effective power? Henry IV. was as yet unformed,
nor was his hour yet come for this great work. Henry III. and Catherine
de' Medici failed in it completely; their government of fifteen years
served only to make them lose their reputation for ability, and to
aggravate for France the evils which it was their business to heal. In
1575, a year only after Henry III.'s accession, revolt penetrated to the
royal household. The Duke of Alencon, the king's younger brother, who,
since his brother's coronation, took the title of Duke of Anjou, escaped
on the 15th of September from the Louvre by a window, and from Paris by a
hole made in the wall of circumvallation. He fled to Dreux, a town in
his appanage, and put himself at the head of a large number of
malcontents, nobles and burgesses, Catholic and Reformed, mustered around
him under this name of no religious significance between the two old
parties. On the 17th of September, in his manifesto, he gave as reasons
for his revolt, excessive taxation, waste of the public revenues, the
feebleness of the royal authority, incapable as it was of putting a stop
to the religious troubles, and the disgrace which had been inflicted upon
himself "by pernicious ministers who desire to have the government in
their sole patronage, excluding from it the foremost and the most
illustrious of the court, and devouring all that there is remaining to
the poor people." He protested his devotion to the king his brother, at
the same time declaring war against the Guises.

King Henry of Navarre, testifying little sympathy with the Duke of Anjou,
remained at court, abandoning himself apparently to his pleasures alone.
Two of his faithful servants (the poet-historian D'Aubigne was one of
them) heard him one night sighing as he lay in bed, and humming half
aloud this versicle from the eighty-eighth Psalm:--

"Removed from friends, I sigh alone,
In a loathed dungeon laid, where none
A visit will vouchsafe to me,
Confined past hope of liberty."

"Sir," said D'Aubigne eagerly, "it is true, then, that the Sprit of God
worketh and dwelleth in you still? You sigh unto God because of the
absence of your friends and faithful servants; and all the while they are
together, sighing because of yours and laboring for your freedom. But
you have only tears in your eyes, and they, arms in hand, are fighting
your enemies. As for us two, we were talking of taking to flight
tomorrow, when your voice made us draw the curtain. Bethink you, sir,
that, after us, the hands that will serve you would not dare refuse to
employ poison and the knife." Henry, much moved, resolved to follow the
example of the Duke of Anjou. His departure was fixed for the 3d of
February, 1576. He went and slept at Senlis; hunted next day very early,
and, on his return from hunting, finding his horses baited and ready,
"What news?" he asked. "Sir," said D'Aubigne, "we are betrayed; the king
knows all; the road to death and shame is Paris; that to life and glory
is anywhere else." "That is more than enough; away!" replied Henry.
They rode all night, and arrived without misadventure at Alencon. Two
hundred and fifty gentlemen, having been apprised in time, went thither
to join the King of Navarre. He pursued his road in their company. From
Senlis to the Loire he was silent but when he had crossed the river,
"Praised be God, who has delivered me!" he cried; "at Paris they were the
death of my mother; there they killed the admiral and my best servants;
and they had no mind to do any better by me, if God had not had me in his
keeping. I return thither no more unless I am dragged. I regret only
two things that I have left behind at Paris--mass and my wife. As for
mass, I will try to do without it; but as for my wife, I cannot; I mean
to see her again." He disavowed the appearances of Catholicism he had
assumed, again made open profession of Protestantism by holding at the
baptismal font, in the conventicle, the daughter of a physician amongst
his friends. Then he reached Bearn, declaring that he meant to remain
there independent and free. A few days before his departure he had
written to one of his Bearnese friends, "The court is the strangest you
ever saw. We are almost always ready to cut one another's throats. We
wear daggers, shirts of mail, and very often the whole cuirass under the
cape. I am only waiting for the opportunity to deliver a little battle,
for they tell me they will kill me, and I want to be beforehand."
Mesdames de Carnavalet and de Sauve, two of his fair friends, had warned
him that, far from giving him the lieutenant-generalship, which had been
so often promised him, it had been decided to confer this office on the
king's brother, in order to get him back to court and seize his person as
soon as he arrived.

It was the increasing preponderance of the Guises, at court as well as in
the country, which caused the two princes to take this sudden resolution.
Since Henry III.'s coming to the throne, war had gone on between the
Catholics and the Protestants, but languidly and with frequent
suspensions through local and shortlived truces. The king and the
queen-mother would have been very glad that the St. Bartholomew should be
short-lived also, as a necessary but transitory crisis; it had rid them
of their most formidable adversaries, Coligny and the Reformers of note
who were about him. Henry and Catherine aspired to no more than resuming
their policy of manoeuvring and wavering between the two parties engaged
in the struggle; but it was not for so poor a result that the ardent
Catholics had committed the crime of the St. Bartholomew; they promised
themselves from it the decisive victory of their church and of their
supremacy. Henry de Guise came forward as their leader in this grand
design; there are to be read, beneath a portrait of him done in the
sixteenth century, these verses, also of that date:--

"The virtue, greatness, wisdom from on high,
Of yonder duke, triumphant far and near,
Do make bad men to shrink with coward fear,
And God's own Catholic church to fructify.
In armor clad, like maddened Mars he moves;
The trembling Huguenot cowers at his glance;
A prop for holy church is his good lance;
His eye is ever mild to those he loves."

Guise cultivated very carefully this ardent confidence on the part of
Catholic France; he recommended to his partisans attention to little
pious and popular practices. "I send you some paternosters [meaning, in
the plural, the beads of a chaplet, or the chaplet entire]," he wrote to
his wife, Catherine of Cleves; "you will have strings made for them and
string them together. I don't know whether you dare offer some of them
to the queens and to my lady mother. Ask advice of Mesdames de Retz and
de Villeroy about it." The flight and insurrection of the Duke of Anjou
and the King of Navarre furnished the Duke of Guise with a very natural
occasion for re-engaging in the great struggle between Catholicism and
Protestantism, wherein the chief part belonged to him. Let us recur, for
a moment, to the origin of that struggle and the part taken in it, at the
outset, by the princes of the house of Lorraine. "As early as the year
1562, twenty-six years before the affair of the barricades," says M.
Vitet in the excellent introduction which he has put at the head of his
beautiful historic dramas from the last half of the sixteenth century,
"Cardinal Charles of Lorraine, being at the Council of Trent, conceived
the plan of a Holy League, or association of Catholics, which was to have
the triple object of defending, by armed force, the Romish church in
France, of obtaining for the cardinal's brother, Duke Francis de Guise,
the lieutenant-generalship of the kingdom, and of helping him to ascend
the throne, in case the line of the Valois should become extinct. The
death of Duke Francis, murdered in front of Orleans by Poltrot, did not
permit the cardinal to carry out his plan. Five years afterwards, Henry
de Guise, eldest son of Francis, and then eighteen years of age, caused
to be drawn up, for the first time, a form of oath whereby the
dignitaries bound themselves to sacrifice their goods and lives in
defence of the Catholic religion in the face of and against all, except
the king, the royal family, and the princes of their connection. This
form was signed by the nobility of Champagne and Brie, a province of
which Henry de Guise was governor, and on the 25th of July, 1568, the
bishop and clergy of Troyes signed it likewise. The association is
named, in the form, _Holy League, Christian and royal_. Up to the year
1576 it remained secret, and did not cross the boundaries of Champagne."
To this summary of M. Vitet's may be added that independently of the
Champagnese league of 1568 and in the interval between 1568 and 1575
there had been formed, in some provinces and towns, other local
associations for the defence of the Catholic church against the heretics.
When, in 1575, first the Duke of Anjou and after him the King of Navarre
were seen flying from the court of Henry III. and commencing an
insurrection with the aid of a considerable body of German auxiliaries
and French refugees, already on French soil and on their way across
Champagne, the peril of the Catholic church appeared so grave and so
urgent that, in the threatened provinces, the Catholics devoted
themselves with ardor to the formation of a grand association for the
defence of their cause. Then and thus was really born the League, secret
at first, but, before long, publicly and openly proclaimed, which held so
important a place in the history of the sixteenth century. Picardy and
Champagne were the first scene of its formation; but in the neighboring
provinces the same travail took place and brought forth fruits. At
Paris, a burgess named La Roche-Blond, and devoted to the Guises, a
perfumer named Peter de la Bruyere and his son Matthew de la Bruyere,
councillor at the Chatelet, were, says De Thou, the first and most
zealous preachers of the Union. "At their solicitation," continues the
austere magistrate, "all the debauchees there were in this great city,
all folks whose only hope was in civil war for the indulgence of their
libertinism or for a safe means of satisfying their avarice or their
ambition, enrolled themselves emulously in this force. Many, even of the
richest burgesses, whose hatred for Protestants blinded them so far as
not to see the dangers to which such associations expose public
tranquillity in a well-regulated state, had the weakness to join the
seditious."

Many asked for time to consider, and, before making any engagement, they
went to see President de Thou [Christopher, premier president of the
Parliament of Paris since 1562, and father of the historian James
Augustus de Thou], informed him of these secret assemblies and all that
went on there, and begged him to tell them whether he approved of them,
and whether it was true that the court authorized them. M. de Thou
answered them at once, with that straightforwardness which was innate in
him, that these kinds of proceedings had not yet come to his knowledge,
that he doubted whether they had the approbation of his Majesty, and that
they would do wisely to hold aloof from all such associations. The
authority of this great man began to throw suspicion upon the designs of
the Unionists, and his reply prevented many persons from casting in their
lot with the party; but they who found themselves at the head of this
faction were not the folks to so easily give up their projects, for they
felt themselves too well supported at court and amongst the people. They
advised the Lorraine princes to have the Union promulgated in the
provinces, and to labor to make the nobility of the kingdom enter it.

Henry de Guise did not hesitate. At the same time that he avowed the
League and labored to propagate it, he did what was far more effectual
for its success: he entered the field and gained a victory. The German
allies and French refugees who had come to support Prince Henry de Conde
and the Duke of Anjou in their insurrection advanced into Champagne.
Guise had nothing ready, neither army nor money; he mustered in haste
three thousand horse, who were to be followed by a body of foot and a
moiety of the king's guards. "I haven't a son," he wrote to his wife;
"take something out of the king's chest, if there is anything there;
provided you know that there is something there, don't be afraid; take it
and send it me at once. As for the _reitres,_ they are more afraid of us
than we of them; don't be frightened about them on my account; the
greatest danger I shall run will be that a glass of wine may break in my
hand." He set out in pursuit of the Germans, came up with them on the
10th of October, 1575, at Port-a-Binson, on the Marne, and ordered them
to be attacked by his brother the Duke of Mayenne, whom he supported
vigorously. They were broken and routed. The hunt, according to the
expression at the time, lasted all the rest of the day and during the
night. "A world of dead covers the field of battle," wrote Guise. He
had himself been wounded: he went in obstinate pursuit of a mounted foe
whom he had twice touched with his sword, and who, in return, had fired
two pistol-shots, of which one took effect in the leg, and the other
carried away part of his cheek and his left ear. Thence came his name of
Henry the Scarred (_le Balafre_), which has clung to him in history.

[Illustration: Henry le Balafre----400]

Scarcely four years had rolled away since the St. Bartholomew. In vain
had been the massacre of ten thousand Protestants, according to the
lowest, and of one hundred thousand, according to the highest estimates,
besides nearly all the renowned chiefs of the party. Charles IX.'s
earnest prayer, "That none remain to reproach me!" was so far from
accomplishment that the war between Catholicism and Protestantism
recommenced in almost every part of France with redoubled passion, with a
new importance of character, and with symptoms of much longer duration
than at its first outbreak. Both parties had found leaders made, both
from their position and their capacity, to command them. Admiral Coligny
was succeeded by the King of Navarre, who was destined to become Henry
IV.; and Duke Francis of Guise by his son Henry, if not as able, at any
rate as brave a soldier, and a more determined Catholic than he. Amongst
the Protestants, Sully and Da Plessis-Mornay were assuming shape and
importance by the side of the King of Navarre. Catherine de' Medici
placed at her son's service her Italian adroitness, her maternal
devotion, and an energy rare for a woman between sixty and seventy years
of age, for forty-three years a queen, and worn out by intrigue, and
business, and pleasure. Finally, to the question of religion, the
primary cause of the struggle, was added a question of kingship, kept in
the background, but ever present in thought and deed: which of the three
houses of Valois, Bourbon, and Lorraine should remain in or enter upon
possession of the throne of France. The interests and the ambition of
families and of individuals were playing their part simultaneously with
the controversies and the passions of creed.

This state of things continued for twelve years, from 1576 to 1588, with
constant alternations of war, truce, and precarious peace, and in the
midst of constant hesitation, on the part of Henry III., between alliance
with the League, commanded by the Duke of Guise, and adjustment with the
Protestants, of whom the King of Navarre was every day becoming the more
and more avowed leader. Between 1576 and 1580, four treaties of peace
were concluded; in 1576, the peace called Monsieur's, signed at Chastenay
in Orleanness; in 1577, the peace of Bergerac or of Poitiers; in 1579,
the peace of Nerac; in 1580, the peace of Fleix in Perigord. In
November, 1576, the states-general were convoked and assembled at Blois,
where they sat and deliberated up to March, 1577, without any important
result. Neither these diplomatic conventions nor these national
assemblies had force enough to establish a real and lasting peace between
the two parties, for the parties themselves would not have it; in vain
did Henry III. make concessions and promises of liberty to the
Protestants; he was not in a condition to guarantee their execution and
make it respected by their adversaries. At heart neither Protestants nor
Catholics were for accepting mutual liberty; not only did they both
consider themselves in possession of all religious truth, but they also
considered themselves entitled to impose it by force upon their
adversaries. The discovery (and the term is used advisedly, so slow to
come and so long awaited has been the fact which it expresses), the
discovery of the legitimate separation between the intellectual world and
the political world, and of the necessity, also, of having the
intellectual world free in order that it may not make upon the political
world a war which, in the inevitable contact between them, the latter
could not support for long, this grand and salutary discovery, be it
repeated, and its practical influence in the government of people cannot
be realized save in communities already highly enlightened and
politically well ordered. Good order, politically, is indispensable
if liberty, intellectually, is to develop itself regularly and do the
community more good than it causes of trouble and embarrassment. They
only who have confidence in human intelligence sincerely admit its right
to freedom; and confidence in human intelligence is possible only in the
midst of a political regimen which likewise gives the human community the
guarantees whereof its interests and its lasting security have absolute
need. The sixteenth century was a long way from these conditions of
harmony between the intellectual world and the political world, the
necessity of which is beginning to be understood and admitted by only the
most civilized and best governed amongst modern communities. It is one
of the most tardy and difficult advances that people have to accomplish
in their life of labor. The sixteenth century helped France to make
considerable strides in civilization and intellectual development; but
the eighteenth and nineteenth have taught her how great still, in the art
of governing and being governed as a free people, are her children's want
of foresight and inexperience, and, to what extent they require a strong
and sound organization of political freedom in order that they may
without danger enjoy intellectual freedom, its pleasures and its glories.

From 1576 to 1588, Henry III. had seen the difficulties of his government
continuing and increasing. His attempt to maintain his own independence
and the mastery of the situation between Catholics and Protestants, by
making concessions and promises at one time to the former and at another
to the latter, had not succeeded; and in 1584 it became still more
difficult to practise. On the 10th of June in that year Henry III.'s
brother, the Duke of Anjou, died at Chateau-Thierry. By this death the
leader of the Protestants, Henry, King of Navarre, became lawful heir to
the throne of France. The Leaguers could not stomach that prospect. The
Guises turned it to formidable account. They did not hesitate to make
the future of France a subject of negotiation with Philip II. of Spain,
at that time her most dangerous enemy in Europe. By a secret convention
concluded at Joinville on the 31st of December, 1584, between Philip and
the Guises, it was stipulated that at the death of Henry III. the crown
should pass to Charles, Cardinal of Bourbon, sixty-four years of age, the
King of Navarre's uncle, who, in order to make himself king, undertook to
set aside his nephew's hereditary right, and forbid, absolutely,
heretical worship in France. He published on the 31st of March, 1585,
a declaration wherein he styled himself premier prince of the blood, and
conferred upon the Duke of Guise the title of lieutenant-general of the
League. By a bull of September 10, 1585, Sixtus V., but lately elected
pope, excommunicated the King of Navarre as a heretic and relapsed,
denying him any right of succession to the crown of France, and releasing
his Narvarrese subjects from their oath of fidelity. Sixtus V. did not
yet know what manner of man he was thus attacking. The King of Navarre
did not confine himself to protesting in France, on the 10th of June,
1585, against this act of the pope's: he had his protest placarded at
Rome itself upon the statues of Pasquin and Marforio, and at the very
doors of the Vatican, referring the pope, as to the question of heresy,
to a council which he claimed at an early date, and at the same time
appealing against this alleged abuse of power to the court of peers of
France, "of whom," said he, "I have the honor to be the premier." The
whole of Italy, including Sixtus V. himself, a pope of independent mind
and proud heart, was struck with this energetic resistance on the part of
a petty king. "It would be a good thing," said the pope to Marquis
Pasani, Henry III.'s ambassador, "if the king your master showed as much
resolution against his enemies as the King of Navarre shows against those
who attack him." At the first moment Henry III. had appeared to unravel
the intentions of the League and to be disposed to resist it; by an edict
of March 28, 1585, he had ordered that its adherents should be
prosecuted; but Catherine de' Medici frightened him with the war which
would infallibly be kindled, and in which he would have for enemies all
the Catholics, more irritated than ever. And Henry III. very easily took
fright. Catherine undertook to manage the recoil for him. "I care not
who likes it and who doesn't," she was wont to say in such cases. She
asked the Duke of Guise for an interview, which took place, first of all
at Epernay, and afterwards at Rheims. The hard demands of the Lorrainers
did not deter the queen-mother, and, on the 7th of July, 1585, a treaty
was concluded at Nemours between Henry III. and the League, to the effect
"that by an irrevocable edict the practice of the new religion should be
forbidden, and that there should henceforth be no other practice of
religion, throughout the realm of France, save that of the Catholic,
Apostolic, and Roman; that all the ministers should depart from the
kingdom within a month; that all the subjects of his Majesty should be
bound to live according to the Catholic religion and make profession
thereof within six months, on pain of confiscation both of person and
goods; that heretics, of whatsoever quality they might be, should be
declared incapable of holding benefices, public offices, positions, and
dignities; that the places which had been given in guardianship to them
for their security should be taken back again forthwith; and, lastly,
that the princes designated in the treaty, amongst whom were all the
Guises at the top, should receive as guarantee certain places to be held
by them for five years."

This treaty was signed by all the negotiators, and specially by the
queen-mother, the Cardinals of Bourbon and Guise, and the Dukes of Guise
and Mayenne. It was the decisive act which made the war a war of
religion.

On the 18th of July following, Henry III., on his way to the Palace of
Justice to be present at the publication of the edict he had just issued
in virtue of this treaty with the League, said to the Cardinal of
Bourbon, "My dear uncle, against my conscience, but very willingly, I
published the edicts of pacification, because they were successful in
giving relief to my people; and now I am going to publish the revocation
of those edicts in accordance with my conscience, but very unwillingly,
because on its publication hangs the ruin of my kingdom and of my
people." When he issued from the palace, cries of "Long live the king!"
were heard; "at which astonishment was expressed," says Peter de
l'Estoile (t. i. p. 294), "because for a long time past no such favor
had been shown him. But it was discovered that these acclamations were
the doing of persons posted about by the Leaguers, and that, for doing
it, money had been given to idlers and sweetmeats to children." Some
days afterwards, the King of Navarre received news of the treaty of
Nemours. He was staying near Bergerac, at the castle of the Lord of La
Force, with whom he was so intimate that he took with him none of his
household, as he preferred to be waited upon by M. de la Force's own
staff. "I was so grievously affected by it," said he himself at a later
period to M. de la Force, "that, as I pondered deeply upon it and held my
head supported upon my hand, my apprehensions of the woes I foresaw for
my country were such as to whiten one half of my mustache." [_Memoires
du Due de la Force,_ t. i. p. 50.] Henry III., for his part, was but
little touched by the shouts of Long live the king! that he heard as he
left the palace; he was too much disquieted to be rejoiced at them. He
did not return the greeting of the municipal functionaries or of the mob
that blocked his way. "You see how reluctant he is to embroil himself
with the Huguenots," said the partisans of the Guises to the people.

It was the recommencement of religious civil war, with more deadliness
than ever. The King of Navarre left no stone unturned to convince
everybody, friends and enemies, great lords and commonalty, Frenchmen and
foreigners, that this recurrence of war was not his doing, and that the
Leaguers forced it upon him against his wish and despite of the justice
of his cause. He wrote to Henry III., "Monseigneur, as soon as the
originators of these fresh disturbances had let the effects appear of
their ill-will towards your Majesty and your kingdom, you were pleased to
write to me the opinion you had formed, with very good title, of their
intentions; you told me that you knew, no matter what pretext they
assumed, that they had designs against your person and your crown, and
that they desired their own augmentation and aggrandizement at your
expense and to your detriment. Such were the words of your letters, Mon
seigneur, and you did me the honor, whilst recognizing the connection
between my fortunes and those of your Majesty, to add expressly that they
were compassing my ruin together with your own. . . . And now,
Monseigneur, when I hear it suddenly reported that your Majesty has made
a treaty of peace with those who have risen up against your service,
providing that your edict be broken, your loyal subjects banished, and
the conspirators armed, and armed with your power and your authority
against me, who have the honor of belonging to you, I leave your Majesty
to judge in what a labyrinth I find myself. . . . If it is I whom
they seek, or if under my shadow (on my account) they trouble this realm,
I have begged that, without henceforth causing the orders and estates of
this realm to suffer for it, and without the intervention of any army,
home or foreign, this quarrel be decided in the Duke of Guise's person
and my own, one to one, two to two, ten to ten, twenty to twenty, in any
number that the said Lord of Guise shall think proper, with the arms
customary amongst gentlemen of honor. ... It will be a happiness for
us, my cousin [Henry de Conde] and myself, to deliver, at the price of
our blood, the king our sovereign lord from the travails and trials that
are a-brewing for him, his kingdom from trouble and confusion, his
noblesse from ruin, and all his people from extreme misery and calamity."

The Duke of Guise respectfully declined, at the same time that he thanked
the King of Navarre for the honor done him, saying that he could not
accept the offer, as he was maintaining the cause of religion, and not a
private quarrel. On his refusal, war appeared to everybody, and in fact
became, inevitable. At his re-engagement in it, the King of Navarre lost
no time about informing his friends at home and his allies abroad, the
noblesse, the clergy, and the third estate of France, the city of Paris,
the Queen of England. the Protestant princes of Germany, and the Swiss
cantons, of all he had done to avoid it; he evidently laid great store
upon making his conduct public and his motives understood. He had for
his close confidant and his mouth-piece Philip du Plessis-Mornay, at
that time thirty-six years of age, one of the most learned and most
hard-working as well as most zealous and most sterling amongst the
royalist Protestants of France. It was his duty to draw up the
documents, manifestoes, and letters published by the King of Navarre,
when Henry did not himself stamp upon them the seal of his own language,
vivid, eloquent, and captivating in its brevity.

Henry III. and the queen-mother were very much struck with this
intelligent energy on the part of the King of Navarre, and with the
influence he acquired over all that portion of the French noblesse and
burgesses which had not fanatically enlisted beneath the banner of the
League. Catherine, accustomed to count upon her skill in the art of
seductive conversation, was for putting it to fresh proof in the case of
the King of Navarre. Louis di Gonzaga, Duke of Nevers, an Italian, like
herself, and one of her confidants, was sent in advance to sound Henry of
Navarre. He wrote to Henry III., "Such, sir, as you have known this
prince, such is he even now; nor years nor difficulties change him; he is
still agreeable, still merry, still devoted, as he has sworn to me a
hundred times, to peace and your Majesty's service." Catherine proposed
to him an interview. Henry hesitated to comply. From Jarnac, where he
was, he sent Viscount de Turenne to Catherine to make an agreement with
her for a few days' truce. "Catherine gave Turenne to understand that,
in order to have peace, the King of Navarre must turn Catholic, and put a
stop to the exercise of the Reformed religion in the towns he held."
When this was reported by his envoy, Henry, who had set out for the
interview, was on the point of retracing his steps; he went on, however,
as he was curious to see Catherine, to satisfy his mind upon the point
and to answer her." They met on the 14th of December, 1586, at the
castle of St. Brice, near Cognac, both of them with gloomy looks.
Catherine asked Henry whether Turenne had spoken to him about what, she
said, was her son's most express desire.

"I am astounded," said Henry, "that your Majesty should have taken so
much pains to tell me what my ears are split with hearing; and likewise
that you, whose judgment is so sound, should delude yourself with the
idea of solving the difficulty by means of the difficulty itself. You
propose to me a thing that I cannot do without forfeiture of conscience
and honor, and without injury to the king's service. I should not carry
with me all those of the religion; and they of the League would be so
much the more irritated in that they would lose their hope of depriving
me of the right which I have to the throne. They do not want me with
you, madame, for they would then be in sorry plight, you better served,
and all your good subjects more happy." The queen-mother did not dispute
the point. She dwelt "upon the inconveniences Henry suffered during the
war." "I bear them patiently, madame," said Henry, "since you burden me
with them in order to unburden yourself of them." She reproached him
with not doing as he pleased in Rochelle. "Pardon me, madame," said he,
"I please only as I ought." The Duke of Nevers, who was present at the
interview, was bold enough to tell him that he could not impose a tax
upon Rochelle. "That is true," said Henry: "and so we have no Italian
amongst us." He took leave of the queen-mother, who repeated what she
had said to Viscount de Turenne, "charging him to make it known to the
noblesse who were of his following." "It is just eighteen months,
madame," said he, "since I ceased to obey the king. He has made war upon
me like a wolf, you like a lioness." "The king and I seek nothing but
your welfare." "Excuse me, madame; I think it would be the contrary."
"My son, would you have the pains I have taken for the last six months
remain without fruit?" "Madame, it is not I who prevent you from resting
in your bed; it is you who prevent me from lying down in mine." "Shall I
be always at pains, I who ask for nothing but rest?" "Madame, the pains
please you and agree with you; if you were at rest you could not live
long." Catherine had brought with her what was called her flying
squadron of fair creatures of her court: but, "Madame," said Henry, as he
withdrew, "there is nothing here for me."

Before taking part in the war which was day by day becoming more and more
clearly and explicitly a war of religion, the Protestant princes of
Germany and the four great free cities of Strasbourg, Ulm, Nuremberg, and
Frankfort resolved to make, as the King of Navarre had made, a striking
move on behalf of peace and religious liberty. They sent to Henry III.
ambassadors, who, on the 11th of October, 1586, treated him to some frank
and bold speaking. "Our princes and masters," they said to him, "have
been moved with surprise and Christian compassion towards you, as
faithful friends and good neighbors of yours, on hearing that you, not
being pleased to suffer in your kingdom any person not of the Roman
religion, have broken the edict of peace which was so solemnly done and
based upon your Majesty's faith and promise, and which is the firm prop
of the tranquillity of your Majesty and your dominions; the which changes
have appeared to them strange, seeing that your royal person, your
dominions, your conscience, your honor, your reputation and good fame
happened to be very much concerned therewith." Shocked at so rude an
admonition, Henry III. answered, "It is God who made me king; and as I
bear the title of Most Christian King, I have ever been very zealous for
the preservation of the Catholic religion. . . . It appertains to me
alone to decide, according to my discernment, what may contribute to the
public weal, to make laws for to procure it, to interpret those laws, to
change them, and to abolish them, just as I find it expedient. I have
done so hitherto, and I shall still do so for the future;" and he
dismissed the ambassadors. That very evening, on reflecting upon his
words, and considering that his answer had not met the requirements of
the case, he wrote with his own hand on a small piece of paper, "that
whoever said that in revoking the edict of pacification he had violated
his faith or put a blot upon his honor, had lied;" and he ordered one of
his officers, though the night was far advanced, to carry that paper to
the ambassadors, and read it to them textually. They asked for a copy;
but Henry III., always careful not to have to answer for his words, had
bidden his officer to suppress the document after having read it; and the
Germans departed, determined upon war as well as quite convinced of the
king's arrogant pusillanimity.

Except some local and short-lived truces, war was already lazing
throughout nearly the whole of France, in Provence, in Dauphiny, in
Nivernais, in Guienne, in Anjou, in Normandy, in Picardy, in Champagne.
We do not care to follow the two parties through the manifold but
monotonous incidents of their tumultuous and passionate strife; we desire
to review only those events that were of a general and a decisive
character. They occurred, naturally, in those places which were the
arena, and in those armies which were under the command, of the two
leaders, Duke Henry of Guise and King Henry of Navarre. The former took
upon himself the duty of repulsing, in the north-west of France, the
German and Swiss corps which were coming to the assistance of the French
Reformers; the latter put himself at the head of the French Protestant
forces summoned to face, in the provinces of the centre and south-west,
the royalist armies. Guise was successful in his campaign against the
foreigners: on the 26th of October, 1587, his scouts came and told him
that the Germans were at Vimory, near Montargis, dispersed throughout the
country, without vedettes or any of the precautions of warfare; he was at
table with his principal officers at Courtenay, almost seven leagues away
from the enemy; he remained buried in thought for a few minutes, and then
suddenly gave the order to sound boot-and-saddle [_boute-selle,_
i.e., put-on saddle]. "What for, pray?" said his brother, the Duke of
Mayenne. "To go and fight." "Pray reflect upon, what you are going to
do." "Reflections that I haven't made in a quarter of an hour I
shouldn't make in a year." Mounting at once, the leader and his
squadrons arrived at midnight at the gates of Vimory; they found,
it is said, the Germans drunk, asleep, and scattered; according to the
reporters on the side of the League, the victory of Guise was complete;
he took from the Germans twenty-eight hundred horses: the Protestants
said that the body he charged were nothing but a lot of horse-boys, and
that the two flags he took had for device nothing but a sponge and a
currycomb. But fifteen days later, on the 11th of November, at Auneau,
near Chartres, Guise gained an indisputable and undisputed victory over
the Germans; and their general, Baron Dohna, and some of his officers
only saved themselves by cutting their way through sword in hand. The
Swiss, being discouraged, and seeing in the army of Henry III. eight
thousand of their countrymen, who were serving in it not, like
themselves, as adventurers, but under the flags and with the
authorization of their cantons, separated from the Germans and withdrew,
after receiving from Henry III. four hundred thousand crowns as the
price of their withdrawal. In Burgundy, in Champagne, and in Orleanness,
the campaign terminated to the honor of Guise, which Henry III. was far
from regarding as a victory for himself.

But almost at the same time at which the League obtained this success in
the provinces of the east and centre, it experienced in those of the
south-west a reverse more serious for the Leaguers than the Duke of
Guise's victory had been fortunate for them. Henry III. had given the
command of his army south of the Loire to one of his favorites, Anne,
Duke of Joyeuse, a brilliant, brave, and agreeable young man, whose
fortunes he had advanced beyond measure, to the extent of marrying him to
Marguerite de Lorraine, the queen's sister, and raising for him the
viscountship of Joyeuse to a duchy-peerage, giving him rank, too, after
the princes of the blood and before the dukes of old creation. Joyeuse
was at the head of six thousand foot, two thousand horse, and six pieces
of cannon. He entered Poitou and marched towards the Dordogne, whilst
the King of Navarre was at La Rochelle, engaged in putting into order two
pieces of cannon, which formed the whole of his artillery, and in
assembling round him his three cousins, the Prince of Conde, the Count of
Soissons, and the Prince of Conti, that he might head the whole house of
Bourbon at the moment when he was engaging seriously in the struggle with
the house of Valois and the house of Lorraine. A small town, Coutras,
situated at the confluence of the two rivers of L'Isle and La Dronne, in
the Gironde, offered the two parties an important position to occupy.
"According to his wont," says the Duke of Aumale in his _Histoire des
Princes de Conde,_ "the Bearnese was on horseback whilst his adversary
was banqueting." He outstripped Joyeuse; and when the latter drew near
to Contras, he found the town occupied by the Protestant advance-guard,
and had barely time to fall back upon La Roche-Chalais. The battle began
on the 20th of October, 1587, shortly after sunrise. We will here borrow
the equally dramatic and accurate account of it given by the Duke of
Aumale: "At this solemn moment the King of Navarre calls to his side his
cousins and his principal officers; then, in his manly and sonorous
voice, he addresses his men-at-arms: 'My friends, here is a quarry for
you very different from your past prizes. It is a brand-new bridegroom,
with his marriage-money still in his coffers; and all the cream of the
courtiers are with him. Will you let yourselves go down before this
handsome dancing-master and his minions? No, they are ours; I see it by
your eagerness to fight. Still we must all of us understand that the
event is in the hands of God. Pray we Him to aid us. This deed will be
the greatest that we ever did; the glory will be to God, the service to
our sovereign lord the king, the honor to ourselves, and the benefit to
the state.' Henry uncovers; the clergymen Chandieu and Damours intone
the army's prayer, and the men-at-arms repeat in chorus the twenty-fourth
versicle of the hundred and eighteenth Psalm: 'This is the day which the
Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.' As they were
hastening each to his post, the king detains his cousins a moment.
'Gentlemen,' he shouts, 'I have just one thing to say: remember that you
are of the house of Bourbon; and, as God liveth, I will let you see that
I am your senior.' 'And we will show you some good juniors,' answered
Conde."

Before midday the battle was won and the royalist army routed, but
not without having made a valiant stand. During the action, D'Epinay
Saint-Luc, one of the bravest royalist soldiers, met the Duke of Joyeuse
already wounded. "What's to be done?" he asked. "Die," answered
Joyeuse; and a few moments afterwards, as he was moving away some paces
to the rear in order to get near to his artillery, says D'Aubigne, he was
surrounded by several Huguenots, who recognized him. "There are a
hundred-thousand crowns to be gained," he shouted; but rage was more
powerful than cupidity, and one of them shattered his skull with a
pistol-shot. "His body was taken to the king's quarters: there it lay,
in the evening, upon a table in the very room where the conqueror's
supper had been prepared: but the King of Navarre ordered all who were in
the chamber to go out, had his supper things removed else-whither, and,
with every mark of respect, committed the remains of the vanquished to
the care of Viscount de Turenne, his near relative. Henry showed a
simple and modest joy at his splendid triumph. It was five and twenty
years since the civil war commenced, and he was the first Protestant
general who had won a pitched battle; he had to regret only
twenty-five killed, whereas the enemy had lost more than three thousand,
and had abandoned to him their cannon, together with twenty-nine flags or
standards. The victory was so much the more glorious in that it was
gained over an army superior in numbers and almost equal in quality.
It was owing to the king's valor, decision, vigilance, quick eye,
comprehension of tactics, and that creative instinct which he brought
into application in politics as well as in war, and which was destined to
render him so happily inspired in the beautiful defensive actions of
Arques, at the affair of Ivry, and on so many other occasions."
[_Histoire des Princes de Conde, &c.,_ by M. le Due D'Aumale, t. ii.
pp. 164-177.]

And what was Henry III., King of France, doing whilst two great parties
and two great men were thus carrying on, around his throne and in his
name, so passionate a war, on the one side to maintain the despotic unity
of Catholic Christianism, and on the other to win religious liberty for
Christian Protestantism? We will borrow here the words of the most
enlightened and most impartial historian of the sixteenth century, M. de
Thou; if we acted upon our own personal impressions alone, there would be
danger of appearing too severe towards a king whom we profoundly despise.

"After having staid some time in Bourbonness, Henry III. went to Lyons in
order to be within hail of his two favorites, Joyeuse and Epernon, who
were each on the march with an army. Whilst he was at Lyons as
unconcerned as if all the realm were enjoying perfect peace, he took to
collecting those little dogs which are thought so much of in that town.
Everybody was greatly surprised to see a King of France, in the midst of
so terrible a war and in extreme want of money, expending upon such
pleasures all the time he had at disposal and all the sums he could
scrape together. How lavish soever this prince may have been, yet, if
comparison be made between the expenditure upon the royal household and
that incurred at Lyons for dogs, the latter will be found infinitely
higher than the former; without counting expenses for hunting-dogs and
birds, which always come to a considerable sum in the households of
kings, it cost him, every year, more than a hundred thousand gold crowns
for little Lyonnese dogs; and he maintained at his court, with large
salaries, a multitude of men and women who had nothing to do but to feed
them. He also spent large sums in monkeys, parrots, and other creatures
from foreign countries, of which he always kept a great number.
Sometimes he got tired of them, and gave them all away then his passion
for such creatures returned, and they had to be found for him at no
matter what cost. Since I am upon the subject of this prince's
attachment to matters anything but worthy of the kingly majesty, I will
say a word about his passion for those miniatures which were to be found
in manuscript prayer-books, and which, before the practice of printing,
were done by the most skilful painters. Henry III. seemed to buy such
works, intended for princes and laid by in cabinets of curiosities, only
to spoil them; as soon as he had them, he cut them out, and then pasted
them upon the walls of his chapels, as children do. An incomprehensible
character of mind: in certain things, capable of upholding his rank; in
some, rising above his position; in others, sinking below childishness."
[_Histoire universelle de F. A. de Thou,_ t. ix. p. 599.]

A mind and character incomprehensible indeed, if corruption, lassitude,
listlessness, and fear would not explain the existence of everything that
is abnormal and pitiable about human nature in a feeble, cold, and
selfish creature, excited, and at the same time worn out, by the business
and the pleasures of kingship, which Henry III. could neither do without
nor bear the burden of. His perplexity was extreme in his relations with
the other two Henries, who gave, like himself, their name to this war,
which was called by contemporaries the war of the three Henries. The
successes of Henry de Guise and of Henry de Bourbon were almost equally
disagreeable to Henry de Valois. It is probable that, if he could have
chosen, he would have preferred those of Henry de Bourbon; if they caused
him like jealousy, they did not raise in him the same distrust; he knew
the King of Navarre's loyalty, and did not suspect him of aiming to
become, whilst he himself was living, King of France. Besides, he
considered the Protestants less powerful and less formidable than the
Leaguers. Henry de Guise, on the contrary, was evidently, in his eyes,
an ambitious conspirator, determined to push his own fortunes on to the
very crown of France if the chances were favorable to him, and not only
armed with all the power of Catholicism, but urged forward by the
passions of the League, perhaps further and certainly more quickly than
his own intentions travelled. Since 1584, the Leaguers had, at Paris,
acquired strong organization amongst the populace; the city had been
partitioned out into five districts under five heads, who, shortly
afterwards, added to themselves eleven others, in order that, in the
secret council of the association, each amongst the sixteen quarters of
Paris might have its representative and director. Thence the famous
Committee of Sixteen, which played so great and so formidable a part in
the history of that period. It was religious fanaticism and democratic
fanaticism closely united, and in a position to impose their wills upon
their most eminent leaders, upon the Duke of Guise himself.

In vain did Henry III. attempt to resume some sort of authority in Paris;
his government, his public and private life, and his person were daily
attacked, insulted, and menaced from the elevation of the pulpit and in
the public thoroughfares by qualified preachers or mob-orators. On the
16th of December, 1587, the Sorbonne voted, after a deliberation which,
it was said, was to be kept secret, "that the government might be taken
away from princes who were found not what they ought to be, just as the
administration of a property from a guardian open to suspicion." On the
30th of December, the king summoned to the Louvre his court of Parliament
and the faculty of theology. "I know of your precious resolution of the
16th of this month," said he to the Sorbonne; "I have been requested to
take no notice of it, seeing that it was passed after dinner. I have no
mind to avenge myself for these outrages, as I might, and as Pope Sixtus
V. did when he sent to the galleys certain Cordeliers for having dared to
slander him in their sermons. There is not one of you who has not
deserved as much, and more; but it is my good pleasure to forget all, and
to pardon you, on condition of its not occurring again. If it should, I
beg my court of Parliament, here present, to exact exemplary justice, and
such as the seditious, like you, may take warning by, so as to mind their
own business." At their exit after this address, the Parliament and the
Sorbonne, being quite sure that the king would not carry the matter
further, withdrew smiling, and saying, "He certainly has spirit, but not
enough of it" (_habet quidem animum, sed non satis animi_). The Duke of
Guise's sister, the Duchess of Montpensier, took to getting up and
spreading about all sorts of pamphlets against the king and his
government. "The king commanded her to quit his city of Paris; she did
nothing of the kind; and three days after she was even brazen enough to
say that she carried at her waist the scissors which would give a third
crown to brother Henry de Valois." At the close of 1587, the Duke of
Guise made a trip to Rome, "with a suite of five; and he only remained
three days, so disguised that he was not recognized there, and discovered
himself to nobody but Cardinal Pelleve, with whom he was in communication
day and night." [_Journal de L'Estoile,_ t. i. p. 345.] Eighteen months
previously, the cardinal had given a very favorable reception to a case
drawn up by an advocate in the Parliament of Paris, named David, who
maintained that, "although the line of the Capets had succeeded to the
temporal administration of the kingdom of Charlemagne, it had not
succeeded to the apostolic benediction, which appertained to none but the
posterity of the said Charlemagne, and that, the line of Capet being some
of them possessed by a spirit of giddiness and stupidity, and others
heretic and excommunicated, the time had come for restoring the crown to
the true heirs," that is to say, to the house of Lorraine, which claimed
to be issue of Charlemagne. This case was passed on, it is said, from
Rome to Philip II., King of Spain, and M. de Saint-Goard, ambassador of
France at Madrid, sent Henry III. a copy of it. [_Memoires de la Ligue,_
t. i. pp. 1-7.]

Whatever may have been the truth about this trip to Rome on the part of
the Duke of Guise, and its influence upon what followed, the chiefs of
the Leaguers resolved to deal a great blow. The Lorraine princes and
their intimate associates met at Nancy in January, 1588, and decided that
a petition should be presented to the king; that he should be called upon
to join himself more openly and in good earnest to the League, and to
remove from offices of consequence all the persons that should be pointed
out to him; that the Holy Inquisition should be established, at any rate
in the good towns; that important places should be put into the hands of
specified chiefs, who should have the power of constructing
fortifications there; that heretics should be taxed a third, or at the
least, a fourth of their property as long as the war lasted; and, lastly,
that the life should be spared of no enemy taken prisoner, unless upon
his swearing and finding good surety to live as a Catholic, and upon
paying in ready money the worth of his property if it had not already
been sold. These monstrous proposals, drawn up in eleven articles, were
immediately carried to the king. He did not reject them, but he demanded
and took time to discuss them with the authors. The negotiation was
prolonged; the ferment in Paris was redoubled; the king, it was said,
meant to withdraw; his person must be secured; the Committee of Sixteen
took measures to that end; one of its members got into his hands the keys
of the gate of St. Denis. From Soissons, where he was staying, the Duke
of Guise sent to Paris the Count of Brissac, with four other captains of
the League, to hold themselves in readiness for any event, and he ordered
his brother the Duke of Aumale to stoutly maintain his garrisons in the
places of Picardy, which the king, it was said, meant to take from him.
"If the king leaves Paris," the duke wrote to Bernard de Mendoza, Philip
II.'s ambassador in France, "I will make him think about returning
thither before he has gone a day's march towards the Picards." Philip
II. made Guise an offer of three hundred thousand crowns, six thousand
lanzknechts, and twelve hundred lances, as soon as he should have broken
with Henry III. "The abscess will soon burst," wrote the ambassador to
the king his master.

On the 8th of May, 1588, at eleven P. M., the Duke of Guise set out from
Soissons, after having commended himself to the prayers of the convents
in the town. He arrived the next morning before Paris, which he entered
about midday by the gate of St. Martin. The Leaguers had been expecting
him for several days. Though he had covered his head with his cloak, he
was readily recognized and eagerly cheered; the burgesses left their
houses and the tradesmen their shops to see him and follow him, shouting,
"Hurrah! for Guise; hurrah! for the pillar of the church!" The crowd
increased at every step. He arrived in front of the palace of Catherine
de' Medici, who had not expected him, and grew pale at sight of him.
"My dear cousin," said she to him, "I am very glad to see you, but I
should have been better pleased at another time." "Madame, I am come to
clear myself from all the calumnies of my enemies; do me the honor to
conduct me to the king yourself." Catherine lost no time in giving the
king warning by one of her secretaries. On receipt of this notice, Henry
III., who had at first been stolid--and silent, rose abruptly from his
chair. "Tell my lady mother that, as she wishes to present the Duke of
Guise to me, I will receive him in the chamber of the queen my wife."
The envoy departed. The king, turning to one of his officers, Colonel
Alphonso Corso, said to him, "M. de Guise has just arrived at Paris,
contrary to my orders. What would you do in my place?" "Sir, do you
hold the Duke of Guise for friend or enemy?" The king, without speaking,
replied by a significant gesture. "If it please your, Majesty to give me
the order, I will this very day lay the duke's head at your feet." The
three councillors who happened to be there cried out. The king held his
peace. During this conversation at the Louvre, the Duke of Guise was
advancing along the streets, dressed in a doublet of white damask, a
cloak of black cloth, and boots of buffalo-hide; he walked on foot,
bareheaded, at the side of the queen-mother in a sedan-chair. He was
tall, with fair clustering hair and piercing eyes; and his scar added to
his martial air. The mob pressed upon his steps; flowers were thrown to
him from the windows; some, adoring him as a saint, touched him with
chaplets which they afterwards kissed; a young girl darted towards him,
and, removing her mask, kissed him, saying, "Brave prince, since you are
here, we are all saved." Guise, with a dignified air, "saluted and
delighted everybody," says a witness, "with eye, and gesture, and
speech." "By his side," said Madame de Retz, "the other princes are
commoners." "The Huguenots," said another, "become Leaguers at the very
sight of him." On arriving at the Louvre, he traversed the court between
two rows of soldiers, the archers on duty in the hall, and the forty-five
gentlemen of the king's chamber at the top of the staircase. "What
brings you hither?" said the king, with difficulty restraining his anger.
"I entreat your Majesty to believe in my fidelity, and not allow yourself
to go by the reports of my enemies." "Did I not command you not to come
at this season so full of suspicions, but to wait yet a while?"

"Sir, I was not given to understand that my coming would be disagreeable
to you." Catherine drew near, and, in a low tone, told her son of the
demonstrations of which the duke had been the object on his way. Guise
was received in the chamber of the queen, Louise de Vaudemont, who was
confined to her bed by indisposition; he chatted with her a moment, and,
saluting the king, retired without being attended by any one of the
officers of the court. Henry III. confined himself to telling him that
results should speak for the sincerity of his words.

Guise returned to his house in the Faubourg St. Antoine, still
accompanied by an eager and noisy crowd, but somewhat disquieted at heart
both by the king's angry reception and the people's enthusiastic welcome.
Brave as he was, he was more ambitious in conception than bold in
execution, and he had not made up his mind to do all that was necessary
to attain the end he was pursuing. The committee of Sixteen, his
confidants, and all the staff of the League, met at his house during the
evening and night between the 9th and 10th of May, preparing for the
morrow's action without well knowing what it was to be, proposing various
plans, collecting arms, and giving instructions to their agents amongst
the populace. An agitation of the same sort prevailed at the Louvre; the
king, too, was deliberating with his advisers as to what he should do on
the morrow: Guise would undoubtedly present himself at his morning levee;
should he at once rid himself of him by the poniards of the five and
forty bravoes which the Duke of Epernon had enrolled in Gascony for his
service? Or would it be best to summon to Paris some troops, French and
Swiss, to crush the Parisian rebels and the adventurers that had hurried
up from all parts to their aid? But on the 10th of May, Guise went to
the Louvre with four hundred gentlemen well armed with breastplates and
weapons under their cloaks. The king did nothing; no more did Guise.
The two had a long conversation in the queen-mother's garden; but it led
to no result. On the 11th of May, in the evening, the provost of
tradesmen, Hector de Perreuse, assembled the town-council and those of
the district-colonels on whom he had reliance to receive the king's
orders. Orders came to muster the burgher companies of certain
districts, and send them to occupy certain positions that had been
determined upon. They mustered slowly and incompletely, and some not at
all; and scarcely had they arrived when several left the posts which had
been assigned to them. The king, being informed of this sluggishness,
sent for the regiment of the French Guards, and for four thousand Swiss
cantoned in the outskirts of Paris; and he himself mounted his horse, on
the 12th of May, in the morning, to go and receive them at the gate of
St. Honord. These troops "filed along, without fife or drum, towards the
cemetery of the Innocents." The populace regarded them as they passed
with a feeling of angry curiosity and uneasy amazement. When all the
corps had arrived at the appointed spot, "they put themselves in motion
towards different points, now making a great noise with their drums and
fifes, which marvellously astonished the inhabitants of the quarter."
Noise provokes noise. "In continently," says L'Estoile, "everybody
seizes his arms, goes out on guard in the streets and cantons; in less
than no time chains are stretched across and barricades made at the
corners of the streets; the mechanic leaves his tools, the tradesman his
business, the University their books, the attorneys their bags, the
advocates their bands; the presidents and councillors themselves take
halberds in hand; nothing is heard but shouts, murmurs, and the seditious
speeches that heat and alarm a people." The tocsin sounded everywhere;
barricades sprang up in the twinkling of an eye; they were made within
thirty paces of the Louvre. The royal troops were hemmed in where they
stood, and deprived of the possibility of moving; the Swiss, being
attacked, lost fifty men, and surrendered, holding up their chaplets and
exclaiming that they were good Catholics. It was thought sufficient to
disarm the French Guards. The king, remaining stationary at the Louvre,
sent his marshals to parley with the people massed in the thoroughfares;
the queen-mother had herself carried over the barricades in order to go
to Guise's house and attempt some negotiation with him. He received her
coldly, demanding that the king should appoint him lieutenant-general of
the kingdom, declare the Huguenot princes incapacitated from succeeding
to the throne, and assemble the states-general. At the approach of
evening, Guise determined to go himself and assume the conqueror's air by
putting a stop to the insurrection. He issued from his house on
horseback, unarmed, with a white wand in his hand; he rode through the
different districts, exhorting the inhabitants to keep up their
barricades, whilst remaining on the defensive and leaving him to complete
their work. He was greeted on all sides with shouts of "Hurrah! for
Guise!" "You wrong me, my friends," said he; "you should shout, 'Hurrah!
for the king!'" He had the French Guards and the Swiss set at liberty;
and they defiled before him, arms lowered and bareheaded, as before their
preserver. Next morning, May 13, he wrote to D'Entragues, governor of
Orleans, "Notify our friends to come to us in the greatest haste
possible, with horses and arms, but without baggage, which they will
easily be able to do, for I believe that the roads are open hence to you.
I have defeated the Swiss, and cut in pieces a part of the king's guards,
and I hold the Louvre invested so closely that I will render good account
of whatsoever there is in it. This is so great a victory that it will be
remembered forever." That same day, the provost of tradesmen and the
royalist sheriffs repaired to the Louvre, and told the king that, without
great and immediate concessions, they could not answer for anything; the
Louvre was not in a condition of defence; there were no troops to be
depended upon for resistance, no provisions, no munitions; the investment
was growing closer and closer every hour, and the assault might commence
at any instant. Henry III. sent his mother once more to the Duke of
Guise, and himself went out about four o'clock, dressed in a country suit
and scantily attended, as if for a walk in the Tuileries. Catherine
found the duke as inflexible as he had been the day before. He
peremptorily insisted upon all the conditions he had laid down already,
the lieutenant-generalship of the kingdom for himself, the unity of the
Catholic faith, forfeiture on the part of the King of Navarre and every
other Huguenot prince as heir to the throne, perpetual banishment of the
king's favorites, and convocation of the states-general. "The king," he
said, "purposes to destroy all the grandees of the kingdom and to harry
all those who oppose his wishes and the elevation of his minions; it is
my duty and my interest to take all the measures necessary for my own
preservation and that of the people." Catherine yielded on nearly every
point, at the same time, however, continually resuming and prolonging the
discussion. One of the duke's most trusty confidants, Francis de
Mainville, entered and whispered in his ear. "Madame," cried the duke,
"whilst your Majesty has been amusing me here, the king is off from Paris
to harry me and destroy me!" Henry III., indeed, had taken horse at the
Tuileries, and, attended by his principal councillors, unbooted and
cloakless, had issued from the New gate, and set out on the road to St.
Cloud. Equipping him in haste, his squire, Du Halde, had put his spur on
wrong, and would have set it right, but, "That will do," said the king;
"I am not going to see my mistress; I have a longer journey to make." It
is said that the corps on guard at the Nesle gate fired from a distance a
salute of arquebuses after the fugitive king, and that a crowd assembled
on the other bank of the river shouted insults after him. At the height
of Chaillot Henry pulled up, and turning round towards Paris, "Ungrateful
city," he cried, "I have loved thee more than my own wife; I will not
enter thy walls again but by the breach."

It is said that on hearing of the Duke of Guise's sudden arrival at
Paris, Pope Sixtus V. exclaimed, "Ah! what rashness! To thus go and put
himself in the hands of a prince he has so outraged!" And some days
afterwards, on the news that the king had received the Duke of Guise and
nothing had come of it, "Ah, dastard prince! poor creature of a prince,
to have let such a chance escape him of getting rid of a man who seems
born to be his destruction!" [_De Thou,_ t. x. p. 266.]

When the king was gone, Guise acted the master in Paris. He ordered the
immediate delivery into his hands of the Bastille, the arsenal, and the
castle of Vincennes. Ornano, governor of the Bastille, sent an offer to
the king, who had arrived at Chartres, to defend it to the last
extremity. "I will not expose to so certain a peril a brave man who may
be necessary to me elsewhere," replied the king. Guise caused to be
elected at Paris a new town-council and a new provost of tradesmen, all
taken from amongst the most ardent Leaguers. He at the same time exerted
himself to restore order; he allowed all royalists who wished to depart
to withdraw to Chartres; he went in person and pressed the premier
president of Parliament, Achille de Harlay, to resume the course of
justice. "It is great pity, sir," said Harlay, "when the servant drives
out the master; this assembly is founded (seated) on the fleur-de-lis;
being established by the king, it can act only for his service. We will
all lose our lives to a man rather than give way a whit to the contrary."
"I have been in many battles," said Guise, as he went out, "in assaults
and encounters the most dangerous in the world; and I have never been so
overcome as at my reception by this personage." At the same time that he
was trying to exercise authority and restore order, unbridled violence
and anarchy were making head around him; the Sixteen and their friends
discharged from the smallest offices, civil or religious, whoever was not
devoted to them; they changed all the captains and district-officers of
the city militia; they deposed all the incumbents, all the ecclesiastics
whom they termed Huguenots and policists; the pulpits of Christians
became the platforms of demagogues; the preachers Guiticestre, Boucher,
Rose, John Prevost, Aubry, Pigenat, Cueilly, Pelletier, and a host of
others whose names have fallen into complete obscurity, were the popular
apostles, the real firebrands of the troubles of the League, says
Pasquier; there was scarcely a chapel where there were not several
sermons a day. "You know not your strength," they kept repeating to
their auditors: "Paris knows not what she is worth; she has wealth enough
to make war upon four kings. France is sick, and she will never recover
from that sickness till she has a draught of French blood given her.
. . . If you receive Henry de Valois into your towns, make up your
minds to see your preachers massacred, your sheriffs hanged, your women
violated, and the gibbets garnished with your members." One of these
raving orators, Claude Trahy, provincial of the Cordeliers, devoted
himself to hounding on the populace of Auxerre against their bishop,
James Amyot, the translator of Plutarch, whom he reproached with "having
communicated with Henry III. and administered to him the eucharist;"
brother John Moresin, one of Trahy's subalterns, went about brandishing a
halberd in the public place at Auxerre, and shouting, "Courage, lads!
messire Amyot is a wicked man, worse than Henry de Valois; he has
threatened to have our master Trahy hanged, but he will repent it;" and,
"at the voice of this madman, there hurried up vine-dressers, boatmen,
and marchandeaux (costermongers), a whole angry mob, who were for having
Amyot's throat cut, and Trahy made bishop in his stead."

Whilst the blind passions of fanatics and demagogues were thus let loose,
the sensible and clear-sighted spirits, the earnest and moderate
royalists, did not all of them remain silent and motionless. After the
appearance of the letters written in 1588 by the Duke of Guise to explain
and justify his conduct in this crisis, a grandson of Chancellor de
l'Hospital, Michael Hurault, Sieur du Fay, published a document, entitled
Frank and Free Discourse upon the Condition of France, one of the most
judicious and most eloquent pamphlets of the sixteenth century, a
profound criticism upon the acts of the Duke of Guise, their causes and
consequences, and a true picture of the falsehoods and servitude into
which an eminent man may fall when he makes himself the tool of a popular
faction in the hope of making that faction the tool of his personal
ambition. But even the men who were sufficiently enlightened and
sufficiently courageous to tell the League and its leader plain truths
spoke only rather late in the day, and at first without giving their
names; the document written by L'Hospital's grandson did not appear until
1591, after the death of Henry III. and Henry de Guise, and it remained
anonymous for some time. One cannot be astonished at such timidity;
Guise himself was timid before the Leaguers, and he always ended by
yielding to them in essentials, after having attempted to resist them
upon such and such an incidental point. His own people accused him of
lacking boldness; and his sister, the Duchess of Montpensier, openly
patronized the most violent preachers, whilst boasting that she wielded
more influence through them than her brother by his armies. Henry III.,
under stress of his enemies' zeal and his own servants' weakness,
Catherine de' Medici included, after having fled from Paris and taken
refuge at Chartres to escape the triumph of the Barricades, once more
began to negotiate, that is, to capitulate with the League; he issued at
Rouen, on the 19th of July, 1588, an edict in eleven articles, whereby he
granted more than had been demanded, and more than he had promised in
1585 by the treaty of Nemours; over and above the measures contained in
that treaty against the Huguenots, in respect of the present and the
future, he added four fresh surety-towns, amongst others Bourges and
Orleans, to those of which the Leaguers were to remain in possession.
He declared, moreover, "that no investigation should be made into any
understandings, associations, and other matters into which our Catholic
subjects might have entered together; inasmuch as they have given us to
understand and have informed us that what they did was but owing to the
zeal they felt for the preservation and maintenance of the Catholic
religion." By thus releasing the League from all responsibility for the
past, and by giving this new treaty the name of edict of union, Henry
III. flattered himself, it is said, that he was thus putting himself at
the head of a new grand Catholic League which would become royalist
again, inasmuch as the king was granting it all it had desired. The
edict of union was enregistered at the Parliament of Paris on the 21st of
July. The states-general were convoked for the 15th of October
following. "On Tuesday, August 2, his Majesty," says L'Estoile, "being
entertained by the Duke of Guise during his dinner, asked him for drink,
and then said to him, 'To whom shall we drink?' 'To whom you please,
sir,' answered the duke; 'it is for your Majesty to command.' 'Cousin,'
said the king, 'drink we to our good friends the Huguenots.' 'It is well
said, sir,' answered the duke. 'And to our good barricaders,' said the
king; 'let us not forget them.' Whereupon the duke began to laugh a
little," adds L'Estoile, "but a sort of laugh that did not go beyond the
knot of the throat, being dissatisfied at the novel union the king was
pleased to make of the Huguenots with the barricaders." What must have
to some extent reassured the Duke of Guise was, that a Te Deum was
celebrated at Notre-Dame for the King of Navarre's exclusion from all
right to the crown, and that, on the 14th of August Henry de Guise was
appointed generalissimo of the royal armies.

[Illustration: The Castle of Blois----428]

The states-general met at Blois on the 16th of October, 1588. They
numbered five hundred and five deputies; one hundred and ninety-one of
the third estate, one hundred and eighty of the noblesse, one hundred and
thirty-four of the clergy. The king had given orders "to conduct each
deputy as they arrived to his cabinet, that he might see, hear, and know
them all personally." When the five hundred and five deputies had taken
their places in the hall, the Duke of Guise went to fetch the king, who
made his entry attended by the princes of the blood, and opened the
session with the dignity and easy grace which all the Valois seemed to
have inherited from Francis I. The Duke of Guise, in a coat of white
satin, was seated at the king's feet, as high steward of his household,
scanning the whole assembly with his piercing glance, as if to keep watch
over those who were in his service. "He seemed," says a contemporary,
"by a single flash of his eye to fortify them in the hope of the
advancement of his designs; his fortunes, and his greatness, and to say
to them, without speaking, I see you." The king's speech was long, able,
well delivered, and very much applauded, save by Guise himself and his
particular friends; the firmness of tone had displeased them, and one
sentence excited in them a discontent which they had found difficulty in
restraining: certain grandees of my kingdom have formed such leagues and
associations as, in every well-ordered monarchy, are crimes of high
treason, without the sovereign's permission. But, showing my wonted
indulgence, I am quite willing to let bygones be bygones in this respect.
Guise grew pale at these words. On leaving the royal session, he got his
private committee to decide that the Cardinal of Guise and the Archbishop
of Lyons should go to see the king, and beg him to abandon the printing
of his speech, and meanwhile Guise himself sent to the printer's to stop
the immediate publication. Discussion took place next day in the king's
cabinet; and a threat was held out to him that a portion of the deputies
would quit the meeting of states. The queen-mother advised her son to
compromise. The king yielded, according to his custom, and gave
authority for cutting out the strongest expressions, amongst others those
just quoted. "The correction was accordingly made," says M. Picot, the
latest and most able historian of the states-general, "and Henry III.
had to add this new insult to all that were rankling at the bottom of his
heart since the affair of the Barricades."

This was, for the Duke of Guise, a first trial of his power, and great
was his satisfaction at this first success. On leaving the opening
session of the states-general, he wrote to the Spanish ambassador
Mendoza, "I handled our states so well that I made them resolve to
require confirmation of the edict of union (of July 21 preceding) as
fundamental law of the state. The king refused to do so, in rather sharp
terms, to the deputies who brought the representation before him, and
from that it is presumed that he inclines towards a peace with the
heretics. But, at last, he was so pressed by the states, the which were
otherwise on the point of breaking up, that he promised to swear the
edict and have it sworn before entering upon consideration of any
matter."

The next day but one, in fact, on the 18th of October, at the second
session of the states-general, "the edict of July 21 was read and
published with the greatest solemnity; the king swore to maintain it in
terms calculated to dissipate all anxieties on the part of the Catholics.
The deputies swore after him. The Archbishop of Bourges delivered an
address on the sanctity of oaths, and those present began to think the
session over, when the king rose a second time to recommend the deputies
not to leave Blois before the papers were drawn up and the ordinances
made. He reminded them that at the last assembly of the states the
suggestions and counsels of the three estates had been so ill carried out
that, instead of a reformation and an establishment of good laws,
everything had been thrown into confusion. Accordingly the king added to
this suggestion a solemn oath that he would not budge from the city until
he had made an edict, sacred and inviolable. The enthusiasm of the
deputies was at its height; a rush took place to the church of St.
Sauveur to chant a Te Deum. All the princes were there to give thanks to
God. Never were king, court, and people so joyous." The Duke of Guise
wrote to the Spanish ambassador, "At length we have, in full assembly of
the states, had our edict of union solemnly sworn and established as
fundamental law of this realm, having surmounted all the difficulties and
hinderances which the king was pleased to throw in the way; I found
myself four or five times on the point of rupture: but I was verily
assisted by so many good men."

After as well as before the opening of the states-general, the friends of
the Duke of Guise were far from having, all of them, the same confidence
that he had in his position and in his success. "Stupid owl of a
Lorrainer!" said Sieur de Vins, commanding, on behalf of the League, in
Dauphiny, on reading the duke's despatches, "has he so little sense as to
believe that a king whose crown he, by dissimulating, has been wanting to
take away, is not dissimulating in turn to take away his life?" "As they
are so thick together," said M. de Vins' sister, when she knew that the
Duke of Guise was at Blois with the king, "you will hear, at the very
first opportunity, that one or the other has killed his fellow." Guise
himself was no stranger to this idea. "We are not without warnings from
all quarters that there is a design of attempting my life," he wrote on
the 21st of September, 1588: "but I have, thank God, so provided against
it, both by the gathering I have made of a good number of my friends, and
in having, by presents and money, secured a portion of those whose
services are relied upon for the execution of it, that, if once things
begin, I shall finish more roughly than I did at Paris."

After the opening of the states-general and the success he obtained
thereat, Guise appeared, if not more anxious, at any rate more attentive
to the warnings he received. On the 10th of December, 1588, he wrote to
Commander Moreo, confidential agent from the King of Spain to him, "You
cannot imagine what alarms have been given me since your departure. I
have so well provided against them that my enemies have not seen their
way to attempting anything. . . . But expenses have grown upon me to
such an extent that I have great need of your prompt assistance. . . .
I have now so much credit with this assembly that I have hitherto made it
dance to my tune, and I hope that as to what remains to be decreed I
shall be quite able to maintain the same authority." Some of his
partisans advised him to go away for a while to Orleans; but he
absolutely refused, repeating, with the Archbishop of Lyons, "He who
leaves the game loses it." One evening, in a little circle of intimates,
on the 21st of December, a question arose whether it would not be
advisable to prevent the king's designs by striking at his person. The
Cardinal of Guise begged his brother to go away, assuring him that his
own presence would suffice for the direction of affairs: but, "They are
in such case, my friend," said the Balafre, "that, if I saw death coming
in at the window, I would not consent to go out by the door to avoid it."
His cousin, the Duke of Elbeuf, paid him a visit at night to urge him to
withdraw himself from the plot hatched against him. "If it were
necessary to lose my life in order to reap the proximate fruits of the
states' good resolution," said Guise, "that is what I have quite made up
my mind to. Though I had a hundred lives, I would devote them all to the
service of God and His church, and to the relief of the poor people for
whom I feel the greatest pity;" then, touching the Duke of Elbeuf upon
the shoulder, he said, "Go to bed, cousin;" and, taking away his hand and
laying it upon his own heart, he added, "Here is the doublet of
innocence." On the evening of the 22d of December, 1588, when Charlotte
de Semblancay, Marchioness of Noirmoutiers, to whom he was tenderly
attached, pressed him to depart, or at any rate not to be present at the
council next day, the only answer he made her was to hum the following
ditty, by Desportes, a poet of the day:--

"My little Rose, a little spell
Of absence changed that heart of thine;
And I, who know the change full well,
Have found another place for mine.
No more such fair but fickle she
Shall find me her obedient;
And, flighty shepherdess, we'll see
Which of the twain will first repent."

Henry III. was scarcely less disturbed, but in quite a different way,
than the Duke of Guise. For a long time past he had been thinking about
getting rid of the latter, just as he had thought for a long time, twenty
years before, about getting rid of Admiral de Coligny; but since the date
of his escape from the popular rising on the day of the Barricades, he
had hoped that, thanks to the adoption of the edict of union and to the
convocation of the states-general, he would escape the yoke of the Duke
of Guise. He saw every day that he had been mistaken; the League, and
consequently the Duke of Guise, had more power than he with the
states-general; in vain had the king changed nearly all his ministers; in
vain had he removed his principal favorite, the Duke of Epernon, from the
government of Normandy to that of Provence; he did not obtain from the
states-general what he demanded, that is, the money he wanted; and the
states required of him administrative reforms, sound enough at bottom,
but suggested by the Duke of Guise with an interested object, and
calculated to shackle the kingly authority even more than could be done
by Guise himself directly. At the same time that Guise was urging on the
states-general in this path, he demanded to be made constable, not by the
king any longer, but by the states themselves. The kingship was thus
being squeezed between the haughty supremacy of the great lords,
substitutes for the feudal regimen, and the first essays of that free
government which is nowadays called the parliamentary regimen. Henry
III. determined with fear and trembling to disembarrass himself of his
two rivals, of the Duke of Guise by assassination, and of the
states-general by packing them off home. He did not know how intimately
the two great questions of which the sixteenth century was the great
cradle, the question of religious liberty and that of political liberty,
were connected one with the other, and would be prosecuted jointly or
successively in the natural progress of Christian civilization, or
through what trials kings and people would have to pass before
succeeding in any effectual solution of them.

On the 18th of December, 1588, during an entertainment given by Catherine
de' Medici on the marriage of her niece, Christine de Lorraine, with
Ferdinand de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, Henry III. summoned to his
cabinet three of his most intimate and safest confidants, Marshal
d'Aumont, Nicholas d'Angennes, Lord of Rambouillet, and Sieur de Beauvais
Nangis. After having laid before them all the Duke of Guise's intrigues
against him and the perils of the position in which they placed him,
"What ought I to do?" he said; "help me to save myself by some speedy
means." They asked the king to give them twenty-four hours to answer in.
Next day, the 19th, Sieur de Maintenon, brother of Rambouillet, and
Alphonso Corso d'Ornano Were added to the party; only one of them was of
opinion that the Duke of Guise should at once be arrested and put upon
his trial; the four others were for a shorter and a surer process, that
of putting the duke to death by a sudden blow. He is evidently making
war upon the king, they said; and the king has a right to defend himself.
Henry III., who had his mind made up, asked Crillon, commandant of the
regiment of guards, "Think you that the Duke of Guise deserves death?"
"Yes, sir." "Very well; then I choose you to give it him." "I am ready
to challenge him." "That is not what is wanted; as leader of the
League, he is guilty of high treason." "Very well, sir; then let him be
tried and executed." "But, Crillon, nothing is less certain than his
conviction in a court of law; he must be struck down unexpectedly."
"Sir, I am a soldier, not an assassin." The king did not persist, but
merely charged Crillon, who promised, to keep the proposal secret. At
this very time Guise was requesting the king to give him a constable's
grand provost and archers to form his guard in his quality of
lieutenant-general of the kingdom. The king deferred his reply.
Catherine de' Medici supported the Lorrainer prince's request. "In two
or three days it shall be settled," said Henry. He had ordered twelve
poniards from an armorer's in the city; on the 21st of December he told
his project to Loignac, an officer of his guards, who was less
scrupulous than Crillon, and undertook to strike the blow, in concert
with the forty-five trusty guards. At the council on the 22d of
December, the king announced his intention of passing Christmas in
retreat at Notre-Dame de Cleri, and he warned the members of the council
that next day the session would take place very early in order to
dispose of business before his departure. On the evening of the 22d, the
Duke of Guise, on sitting down at table, found under his napkin a note
to this effect: "The king means to kill you." Guise asked for a pen,
wrote at the bottom of the note, "He dare not," and threw it under the
table. Next day, December 23, Henry III., rising at four A. M., after a
night of great agitation, admitted into his cabinet by a secret
staircase the nine guards he had chosen, handed them the poniards he had
ordered, placed them at the post where they were to wait for the meeting
of the council, and bade Charles d'Entragues to go and request one of
the royal chaplains "to say mass, that God might give the king grace to
be able to carry out an enterprise which he hoped would come to an issue
within an hour, and on which the safety of France depended." Then the
king retired into his closet. The members of the council arrived in
succession; it is said that one of the archers on duty, when he saw the
Duke of Guise mounting the staircase, trod on his foot, as if to give
him warning; but, if he observed it, Guise made no account of it, any
more than of all the other hints he had already received. Before
entering the council-chamber, he stopped at a small oratory connected
with the chapel, said his prayer, and as he passed the door of the
queen-mother's apartments, signified his desire to pay his respects and
have a few words with her. Catherine was indisposed, and could not
receive him. Some vexation, it is said, appeared in Guise's face, but
he said not a word. On entering the council-chamber he felt cold, asked
to have some fire lighted, and gave orders to his secretary, Pericard,
the only attendant admitted with him, to go and fetch the silver-gilt
shell he was in the habit of carrying about him with damsons or other
preserves to eat of a morning. Pericard was some time gone; Guise was
in a hurry, and, "Be kind enough," he said to M. de Morfontaines, "to
send word to M. de Saint-Prix [first groom of the chamber to Henry
III.], that I beg him to let me have a few damsons or a little preserve
of roses, or some trifle of the king's." Four Brignolles plums were
brought him; and he ate one. His uneasiness continued; the eye close to
his scar became moist; according to M. de Thou, he bled at the nose. He
felt in his pocket for a handkerchief to use, but could not find one.
"My people," said he, "have not given me my necessaries this morning:
there is great excuse for them; they were too much hurried." At his
request, Saint-Prix had a handkerchief brought to him. Pericard passed
his bonbon-box to him, as the guards would not let him enter again. The
duke took a few plums from it, threw the rest on the table, saying,
"Gentlemen, who will have any?" and rose up hurriedly upon seeing the
secretary of state Revol, who came in and said to him, "Sir, the king
wants you; he is in his old cabinet."

As soon as he knew that the Duke of Guise had arrived, and whilst these
little incidents were occurring in the council-chamber, Henry III. had in
fact given orders to his secretary Revol to go on his behalf and summon
the duke. But Nambu, usher to the council, faithful to his instructions,
had refused to let anybody, even the king's secretary, enter the hall.
Revol, of a timid disposition, and impressed, it is said, with the
sinister importance of his commission, returned to the cabinet with a
very troubled air. The king, in his turn, was troubled, fearing lest his
project had been discovered. "What is the matter, Revol?" said he; "what
is it? How pale you are! You will spoil all. Rub your cheeks; rub your
cheeks." "There is nothing wrong, sir: only M. de Nambu would not let
me in without your Majesty's express command." Revol entered the
council-chamber and discharged his commission. The Duke of Guise pulled
up his cloak as if to wrap himself well in it, took his hat, gloves, and
his sweetmeat-box, and went out of the room, saying, "Adieu, gentlemen,"
with a gravity free from any appearance of mistrust. He crossed the
king's chamber contiguous to the council-hall, courteously saluted, as he
passed, Loignac and his comrades, whom he found drawn up, and who,
returning him a frigid obeisance, followed him as if to show him respect.
On arriving at the door of the old cabinet, and just as he leaned down to
raise the tapestry that covered it, Guise was struck five poniard blows
in the chest, neck, and reins. "God ha' mercy!" he cried, and, though
his sword was entangled in his cloak, and he was himself pinned by the
arms and legs and choked by the blood that spurted from his throat, he
dragged his murderers, by a supreme effort of energy, to the other end of
the room, where he fell down backwards and lifeless before the bed of
Henry III., who, coming to the door of his room and asking "if it was
done," contemplated with mingled satisfaction and terror the inanimate
body of his mighty rival, "who seemed to be merely sleeping, so little
was he changed." "My God! how tall he is!" cried the king; "he looks
even taller than when he was alive."

[Illustration: Henry III. and the Murder of Guise----437]

"They are killing my brother!" cried the Cardinal of Guise, when he heard
the noise that was being made in the next room; and he rose up to run
thither. The Archbishop of Lyons, Peter d'Espinac, did the same. The
Duke of Aumont held them both back, saying, "Gentlemen, we must wait for
the king's orders." Orders came to arrest them both, and confine them in
a small room over the council-chamber. They had "eggs, bread, wine from
the king's cellar, their breviaries, their night-gowns, a palliasse, and
a mattress," brought to them there; and they were kept under ocular
supervision for four and twenty hours. The Cardinal of Guise was
released the next morning, but only to be put to death like his brother.
The king spared the Archbishop of Lyons.

"I am sole king," said Henry III. to his ministers, as he entered the
council-chamber; and shortly afterwards, going to see the queen-mother,
who was ill of the gout, "How do you feel?" he asked. "Better," she
answered. "So do I," replied the king: "I feel much better; this morning
I have become King of France again; the King of Paris is dead." "You
have had the Duke of Guise killed?" asked Catherine "have you reflected
well? God grant that you become not king of nothing at all. I hope the
cutting is right; now for the sewing." According to the majority of the
historians, Catherine had neither been in the secret nor had anything to
do with the preparations for the measure. Granted that she took no
active part in it, and that she avoided even the appearance of having any
previous knowledge of it; she was not fond of responsibility, and she
liked better to negotiate between the different parties than to make her
decisive choice between them; prudent tendencies grow with years, and in
1588 she was sixty-nine. It is difficult, however, to believe that,
being the habitual confidant of her favorite son, she was ignorant of a
design long meditated, and known to many persons many days before its
execution. The event once accomplished, ill as she was, and contrary to
the advice of her physicians, she had herself carried to the Cardinal of
Bourbon's, who was still under arrest by the king's orders, to promise
him speedy release. "Ah! madame," said the cardinal, as he saw her
enter, "these are some of your tricks; you are death to us all." However
it may be, thirteen days after the murder of the Duke of Guise, on the
5th of January, 1589, Catherine de' Medici herself died. Nor was her
death, so far as affairs and the public were concerned, an event: her
ability was of the sort which is worn out by the frequent use made
of it, and which, when old age comes on, leaves no long or grateful
reminiscence. Time has restored Catherine de' Medici to her proper place
in history; she was quickly forgotten by her contemporaries.

She had good reason to say to her son, as her last advice, "Now for the
sewing." It was not long before Henry III. perceived that to be king, it
was not sufficient to have murdered his rival. He survived the Duke of
Guise only seven months, and during that short period he was not really
king, all by himself, for a single day; never had his kingship been so
embarrassed and impotent; the violent death of the Duke of Guise had
exasperated much more than enfeebled the League; the feeling against his
murderer was passionate and contagious; the Catholic cause had lost its
great leader; it found and accepted another in his brother the Duke of
Mayenne, far inferior to his elder brother in political talent and prompt
energy of character, but a brave and determined soldier, a much better
man of party and action than the sceptical, undecided, and indolent Henry
III. The majority of the great towns of France--Paris, Rouen, Orleans,
Toulouse, Lyons, Amiens--and whole provinces declared eagerly against the
royal murderer. He demanded support from the states-general, who refused
it; and he was obliged to dismiss them. The Parliament of Paris,
dismembered on the 16th of January, 1589, by the council of Sixteen,
became the instrument of the Leaguers. The majority of the other
Parliaments followed the example set by that of Paris. The Sorbonne,
consulted by a petition presented in the name of all Catholics, decided
that Frenchmen were released from their oath of allegiance to Henry III.,
and might with a good conscience turn their arms against him. Henry made
some obscure attempts to come to an arrangement with certain chiefs of
the Leaguers; but they were rejected with violence. The Duke of Mayenne,
having come to Paris on the 15th of February, was solemnly received at
Notre-Dame, amidst shouts of "Hurrah for the Catholic princes! hurrah for
the house of Lorraine!" He was declared lieutenant-general of the crown
and state of France. He organized a council-general of the League,
composed of forty members and charged with the duty of providing for all
matters of war, the finance and the police of the realm, pending a fresh
convocation of states-general. To counterbalance in some degree the
popular element, Mayenne introduced into it fourteen personages of his
own choice and a certain number of magistrates and bishops; the delegates
of the united towns were to have seats at the council whenever they
happened to be at Paris. "Never," says M. Henry Martin [_Histoire de
France,_ t. i. p. 134] very truly, "could the League have supposed
itself to be so near becoming a government of confederated municipalities
under the directorate of Paris."

There was clearly for Henry III. but one possible ally who had a chance
of doing effectual service, and that was Henry of Navarre and the
Protestants. It cost Henry III. a great deal to have recourse to that
party; his conscience and his pusillanimity both revolted at it equally;
in spite of his moral corruption, he was a sincere Catholic, and the
prospect of excommunication troubled him deeply. Catholicism, besides,
was in a large majority in France: how, then, was he to treat with its
foes without embroiling himself utterly with it? Meanwhile the case was
urgent. Henry was apprised by one of his confidants, Nicholas de
Rambouillet, that one of the King of Navarre's confidants, Sully, who was
then only Sieur de Rosny, was passing by Blois on his way to his master;
he saw him and expressed to him his "desire for a reconciliation with the
King of Navarre, and to employ him on confidential service;" the
difficulty was to secure to the Protestant king and his army, then
engaged in the siege of Chatellerault, a passage across the Loire. Rosny
undertook Henry III.'s commission. He at the same time received another
from Sieur de Brigueux, governor of the little town of Beaugency, who
said to him, "I see well, sir, that the king is going the right way to
ruin himself by timidity, irresolution, and bad advice, and that
necessity will throw us into the hands of the League: for my part, I will
never belong to it, and I would rather serve the King of Navarre. Tell
him that I hold, at Beaugency, a passage over the Loire, and that if he
will be pleased to send to me you or M. de Rebours, I will admit into the
town him whom he sends to me." Upon receiving these overtures, the King
of Navarre thought a while, scratching his head; then he said to Rosny,
"Do you think that the king has good intentions towards me, and means to
treat with me in good faith?" "Yes, sir, for the present; and you need
have no doubt about it, for his straits constrain him thereto, having
nothing to look to in his perils but your assistance." He had some
dinner brought into his own cabinet for Rosny, and then made him post off
at once. On arriving in the evening at Tours, whither Henry III. had
fallen back, Rosny was taken to him, about midnight, at the top of the
castle; the king sent him off that very night; he consented to everything
that the King of Navarre proposed; promised him a town on the Loire, and
said he was ready to make with him not a downright peace just at first,
but "a good long truce, which, in their two hearts, would at once be an
eternal peace and a sincere reconciliation."

When Rosny got back to Chatellerault, "there was nothing but rejoicing;
everybody ran to meet him; he was called 'god Rosny,' and one of his
friends said to the rest, 'Do you see yon man? By God, we shall all
worship him, and he alone will restore France; I said so six years ago,
and Villandry was of my opinion.'"

Thus was the way paved and the beginning made, between the two kings, of
an alliance demanded by their mutual interests, and still more strongly
by the interests of France, ravaged and desolated, for nearly thirty
years past, by religious civil wars. Henry of Navarre had profound
sympathy for his country's sufferings, an ardent desire to put a stop to
them, and at the same time the instinct to see clearly that the day had
come when the re-establishment of harmony and common action between
himself and Henry de Valois was the necessary and at the same time
possible means of attaining that great result. On the 4th of March,
1589, soon after the states of Blois had been dismissed, he set before
France, in an eloquent manifesto, the expression of his anxieties and his
counsels: "I will speak freely," said he, "to myself first and then to
others, that we may be all of us without excuse. Let us not be puffed up
with pride on one side or another. As for me, although I have received
more favors from God in this than in all past wars, and, whilst the two
other parties (how sad that they must be so called!) are enfeebled, mine,
to all appearance, has been strengthened, nevertheless I well know that,
whenever I go beyond my duty, God will no longer bless me; and I shall do
so whenever, without reason and in sheer lightness of heart, I attack my
king and trouble the repose of his kingdom. . . . I declare, then,
first of all to those who belong to the party of the king my lord, that
if they do not counsel him to make use of me, and of the means which God
hath given me, for to make war, not on them of Lorraine, not on Paris,
Orleans, or Toulouse, but on those who shall hinder the peace and the
obedience owed to this crown, they alone will be answerable for the woes
which will come upon the king and the kingdom. . . . And as to those
who still adhere to the name and party of the League, I, as a Frenchman,
conjure them to put up with their losses as I do with mine, and to
sacrifice their quarrels, vengeance, and ambition to the welfare of
France, their mother, to the service of their king, to their own repose
and ours. If they do otherwise, I hope that God will not abandon the
king, and will put it into his heart to call around him his servants,
myself the first, who wish for no other title, and who shall have
sufficient might and good right to help him wipe out their memory from
the world and their party from France. . . . I wish these written
words to go proclaiming for me throughout the world that I am ready to
ask my lord the king for peace, for the repose of his kingdom and for my
own. . . . And finally, if I find one or another so sleepy-headed or
so ill-disposed that none is moved thereby, I will call God to my aid,
and, true servant of my king, worthy of the honor that belongs to me as
premier prince of this realm, though all the world should have conspired
for its ruin, I protest, before God and before man, that, at the risk of
ten thousand lives, I will essay--all alone--to prevent it."

It is pleasing to think that this patriotic step and these powerful words
were not without influence over the result which was attained. The King
of Navarre set to work, at the same time with Rosny, one, of the most
eminent, and with Philip du Plessis-Mornay, the most sterling of his
servants; and a month after the publication of his manifesto, on the 3d
of April, 1589, a truce for a year was concluded between the two kings.
It set forth that the King of Navarre should serve the King of France
with all his might and main; that he should have, for the movements of
his troops on both banks of the Loire, the place of Saumur; that the
places of which he made himself master should be handed over to Henry
III., and that he might not anywhere do anything to the prejudice of the
Catholic religion; that the Protestants should be no more disquieted
throughout the whole of France, and that, before the expiration of the
truce, King Henry III. should give them assurance of peace. This
negotiation was not concluded without difficulty, especially as regarded
the town of Saumur; there was a general desire to cede to the King of
Navarre only some place of less importance on the Loire; and when, on the
15th of April, Du Plessis-Mornay, who had been appointed governor of it,
presented himself for admittance at the head of his garrison, the
royalist commandant, who had to deliver the keys to him, limited himself
to letting them drop at his feet. Mornay showed alacrity in picking them
up.

On the 29th of April, the two kings had, each on his own behalf, made
their treaty public. Henry III. sent word to the King of Navarre that he
wished to see him and have some conversation with him. Many of the King
of Navarre's friends dissuaded him from this interview, saying, "They
are traitors; do not put yourself in their power; remember the
St. Bartholomew." This counsel was repeated to him on the 30th of April,
at the very moment when he was stepping aboard the boat to cross the
Loire and go to pay Henry III. a visit at the castle of Plessis-les-
Tours. The King of Navarre made no account of it. "God hath bidden me
to cross and see him," he answered: "it is not in the power of man to
keep me back, for God is guiding me and crossing with me. Of that I am
certain;" and he crossed the river. "It is incredible," says L'Estoile,
"what joy everybody felt at this interview; there was such a throng of
people that, notwithstanding all efforts to preserve order, the two kings
were a full quarter of an hour in the roadway of Plessis park holding out
their hands to one another without being able to join them; people
climbed trees to see them; all shouted with great vigor and exultation,
Hurrah for the king! hurrah for the King of Navarre! hurrah for the
kings! At last, having joined hands, they embraced very lovingly, even
to tears. The King of Navarre, on retiring in the evening, said, 'I
shall now die happy, since God hath given me grace to look upon the face
of my king and make him an offer of my services.' I know not if those
were his own words; but what is certain is, that everybody at this time,
both kings and people, except fanatical Leaguers, regarded peace as a
great public blessing, and were rejoiced to have a prospect of it before
their eyes. The very day of the interview, the King of Navarre wrote to
Du Plessis-Mornay, 'M. du Plessis, the ice is broken; not without numbers
of warnings that if I went I was a dead man. I crossed the water,
commending myself to God, who, by His goodness, not only preserved me,
but caused extreme joy to appear on the king's countenance, and the
people to cheer so that never was the like, even shouting, Hurrah for the
kings! whereat I was much vexed.'"

Some days afterwards, during the night of May 8, the Duke of Mayenne made
an attack upon Tours, and carried for the moment the Faubourg St.
Symphorien, which gave Henry III. such a fright that he was on the point
of leaving the city and betaking himself to a distance. But the King of
Navarre, warned in time, entered Tours; and at his approach the Leaguers
fell back. "When the white scarfs appeared, coming to the king's rescue,
the Duke of Mayenne and his troops began shouting to them, 'Back! white
scarfs; back! Chatillon: we are not set against you, but against the
murderers of your father!' meaning thereby that they were set against
King Henry de Valois only, and not against the Huguenots. But Chatillon,
amongst the rest, answered them, 'You are all of you traitors to your
country: I trample under foot all vengeance and all private interests
when the service of my prince and of the state is concerned; 'which he
said so loudly that even his Majesty heard it, and praised him for it,
and loved him for it." The two kings determined to move on Paris and
besiege it; and towards the end of July their camp was pitched before the
walls.

Great was the excitement throughout Europe as well as France, at the
courts of Madrid and Rome as well as in the park of Plessis-les-Tours.
A very serious blow for Philip II., and a very bad omen for the future
of his policy, was this alliance between Henry de Valois and Henry of
Navarre, between a great portion of the Catholics of France and the
Protestants. Philip II. had plumed himself upon being the patron of
absolute power in religious as well as political matters, and the
dominant power throughout Europe in the name of Catholicism and Spain.
In both these respects he ran great risk of being beaten by a King of
France who was a Protestant or an ally of Protestants and supported by
the Protestant influence of England, Holland, and Germany. In Italy
itself and in Catholic Europe Philip did not find the harmony and support
for which he looked. The republic of Venice was quietly but certainly
well disposed towards France, and determined to live on good terms with a
King of France, a friend of Protestants or even himself Protestant. And
what hurt Philip II. still more was, that Pope Sixtus V. himself, though
all the while upholding the unity and authority of the Roman church,
was bent upon not submitting to the yoke of Spain, and upon showing a
favorable disposition towards France. "France is a very noble kingdom,"
he said to the Venetian ambassador Gritti; "the church has always
obtained great advantages from her. We love her beyond measure, and we
are pleased to find that the Signiory shares our affection." Another day
he expressed to him his disapprobation of the League. "We cannot praise,
indeed we must blame, the first act committed by the Duke of Guise, which

Book of the day: