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Beacon Lights of History, Volume VIII by John Lord

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But all these things we lose sight of in the undoubted virtues,
abilities, and services of this great Queen. Historians have other work
than to pick out spots on the sun. The dark spot, if there is one upon
Elizabeth's character, was her coquetry in private life. It is
impossible to tell whether or not she exceeded the bounds of womanly
virtue. She was probably slandered and vilified by treacherous,
gossiping ambassadors, who were foes to her person and her kingdom, and
who made as ugly reports of her as possible to their royal masters. I am
sorry that these malicious accusations have been raked out of the ashes
of the past by modern historians, whose literary fame rests on bringing
to light what is _new_ rather than what is _true_. The character of a
woman and a queen so admired and honored in her day, should be sacred
from the stings of sensational writers who poison their darts from the
archives of bitter foreign enemies.

The gallant men of genius whom Elizabeth admired and honored--as a
bright and intellectual woman naturally would, especially when deprived
of the felicities of wedded life--never presumed, I have charity to
believe, beyond an undignified partiality and an admiring friendship.
When Essex stood highest in her favor, she was nearly seventy years of
age. There are no undoubted facts which criminate her,--nothing but
gossip and the malice of foreign spies. What a contrast her private life
was to that of her mother Anne Boleyn, or to that of Mary, Queen of
Scots, or even to that of the great Catherine of Russia! She had,
indeed, great foibles and weaknesses. She was inordinately fond of
dress; she was sensitive to her own good looks; she was jealous of
pretty women; she was vain, and susceptible to flattery; she was
irritable when crossed; she gave way to sallies of petulance and anger;
she occasionally used language unbecoming her station and authority; she
could dissimulate and hide her thoughts: but her nature was not
hypocritical, or false, or mean. She was just, honest, and
straightforward in her ordinary dealings; she was patriotic,
enlightened, and magnanimous; she loved learning and learned men; she
had at heart the best interests of her subjects; she was true to her
cause. Surely these great virtues, which it is universally admitted she
possessed, should more than balance her defects and weaknesses. See how
tender-hearted she was when required to sign death-warrants, and what
grief she manifested when Essex proved unworthy of her friendship! See
her love of children, her readiness of sympathy, her fondness for
society,--all feminine qualities in a woman who is stigmatized as
masculine, as she perhaps was in her mental structure, in her habits of
command, and aptitude for business: a strong-minded woman at the worst,
yet such a woman as was needed on a throne, especially in stormy times
and in a rude state of society.

And when we pass from her private character to her public services, by
which the great are judged, how exalted her claims to the world's
regard! Where do we find a greater or a better queen? Contrast her with
other female sovereigns,--with Isabella, who with all her virtues
favored the Inquisition; with her sister Mary, who kindled the fires of
Smithfield; with Catherine de Medicis, who sounded the tocsin of St.
Bartholomew; with Mary of Scotland, who was a partner in the murder of
her husband; with Anne of Austria, who ruled through Italian favorites;
with Christiana of Sweden, who scandalized Europe by her indecent
eccentricities; with Anne of Great Britain, ruled by the Duchess of
Marlborough. There are only two great sovereigns with whom she can be
compared,--Catherine II. of Russia, and Maria Theresa of Germany,
illustrious, like Elizabeth, for courage and ability. But Catherine was
the slave of infamous passions, and Maria Theresa was a party to the
partition of Poland. Compared with these even, the English queen appears
immeasurably superior; they may have wielded more power, but their moral
influence was less. It is not the greatness of a country which gives
greatness to its exalted characters. Washington ruled our empire in its
infancy; and Buchanan, with all its majestic resources,--yet who is
dearest to the heart of the world? No countries ever produced greater
benefactors than Palestine and Greece, when their limits were scarcely
equal to one of our States. The fame of Burleigh burns brighter than
that of the most powerful of modern statesmen. The names of Alexander
Hamilton and Daniel Webster may outshine the glories of any statesmen
who shall arise in this great country for a hundred years to come.
Elizabeth ruled a little island; but her memory and deeds are as
immortal as the fame of Pericles or Marcus Aurelius.

And the fame of England's great queen rests on the influence which
radiated from her character, as well as upon the power she wielded with
so much wisdom and ability. Influence is greater than power in the lapse
of ages. Politicians may wield power for a time; but the great
statesmen, like Burke and Canning, live in their ideas. Warriors and
kings, and ministers of kings, have power; but poets and philosophers
have influence, for their ideas go coursing round the world until they
have changed governments and institutions for better or for worse,--like
those of Paul, of Socrates, of Augustine, of Dante, of Shakspeare, of
Bacon, yea, of Rousseau. Some few favored rulers and leaders of men have
had both power and influence, like Moses, Alfred, and Washington; and
Elizabeth belongs to this class. Her influence was for good, and it
permeated English life and society, like that of Victoria, whose power
was small.

As a queen, however, more than a woman, Elizabeth is one of the great
names of history. I have some respect for the critical verdict of
Francis Bacon, the greatest man of his age,--if we except
Shakspeare,--and one of the greatest men in the history of all nations.
What does he say? He knew her well, perhaps as well as any modern
historian. He says:--

"She was a princess, that, if Plutarch were now alive to write by
parables, it would puzzle him to find her equal among women. She was
endowed with learning most singular and rare; and as for her government,
I do affirm that England never had forty-five years of better times, and
this, not through the calmness of the season, but the wisdom of her
regimes. When we consider the establishment of religion, and the
constant peace of the country, the good administration of justice, the
flourishing state of learning, the increase of wealth, and the general
prosperity, amid differences in religion, the troubles of neighboring
nations, the ambition of Spain, and the opposition of Home, I could not
have chosen a more remarkable combination of learning in the prince with
felicity of the people."

I can add nothing to this comprehensive verdict: it covers the whole
ground. So that for virtues and abilities, in spite of all defects, I
challenge attention to this virgin queen. I love to dwell on her
courage, her fortitude, her prudence, her wisdom, her patriotism, her
magnanimity, her executive ability, and, more, on the exalted services
she rendered to her country and to civilization. These invest her name
with a halo of glory which shall blaze through all the ages, even as the
great men who surrounded her throne have made her name illustrious.

The Elizabethan era is justly regarded as the brightest in English
history; not for the number of its great men, or the magnificence of its
great enterprises, or the triumphs of its great discoveries and
inventions, but because there were then born the great ideas which
constitute the strength and beauty of our proud civilization, and
because then the grandest questions which pertain to religion,
government, literature, and social life were first agitated, with the
freshness and earnestness of a revolutionary age. The men of that period
were a constellation of original thinkers. We still point with
admiration to the political wisdom of Cecil, to the sagacity of
Walsingham, to the varied accomplishments of Raleigh, to the chivalrous
graces of Sidney, to the bravery of Hawkins and Nottingham, to the bold
enterprises of Drake and Frobisher, to the mercantile integrity and
financial skill of Gresham, to the comprehensive intellect of Parker, to
the scholarship of Ascham, to the eloquence of Jewel, to the profundity
of Hooker, to the vast attainments and original genius of Bacon, to the
rich fancy of Spenser, to the almost inspired insight of Shakspeare,
towering above all the poets of ancient and of modern times, as fresh
to-day as he was three hundred years ago, the greatest miracle of
intellect that perhaps has ever adorned the world. By all these
illustrious men Queen Elizabeth was honored and beloved. All received no
small share of their renown from her glorious appreciation; all were
proud to revolve around her as a central sun, giving life and growth to
every great enterprise in her day, and shedding a light which shall
gladden unborn generations.

It is something that a woman has earned such a fame, and in a sphere
which has been supposed to belong to man alone. And if men shall here
and there be found to decry her greatness, let no woman be found who
shall seek to dethrone her from her lofty pedestal; for in so doing she
unwittingly becomes a detractor from that womanly greatness in which we
should all rejoice, and which thus far has so seldom been seen in
exalted stations. For my part, the more I study history the more I
reverence this great sovereign; and I am proud that such a woman has
lived and reigned and died in honor.


Fronde's History of England; Hume's History of England; Agnes
Strickland's Queens of England; Mrs. Jameson's Memoirs of Queen
Elizabeth; E. Lodge's Sketch of Elizabeth; G.P.R. James's Memoir of
Elizabeth; Encyclopaedia Britannica, article on England: Hallam's
Constitutional History of England; "Age of Elizabeth," in Dublin Review,
lxxxi.; British Quarterly Review, v. 412; Aikin's Court of Elizabeth;
Bentley's Elizabeth and her Times; "Court of Elizabeth," in Westminster
Review, xxix. 281; "Character of Elizabeth," in Dublin University
Review, xl. 216; "England of Elizabeth," in Edinburgh Review, cxlvi.
199; "Favorites of Queen Elizabeth," in Quarterly Review, xcv. 207;
Reign of Elizabeth, in London Quarterly Review, xxii. 158; "Youth of
Elizabeth," in Temple Bar Magazine, lix. 451, and "Elizabeth and Mary
Stuart," x. 190; Blackwood's Magazine, ci. 389.


A. D. 1553-1610.


In this lecture I shall confine myself principally to the connection of
Henry IV. with that memorable movement which came near making France a
Protestant country. He is identified with the Huguenots, and it is the
struggles of the Huguenots which I wish chiefly to present. I know he
was also a great king, the first of the Bourbon dynasty, whose heroism
in war was equalled only by his enlightened zeal in the civilization of
France,--a king who more deeply impressed himself upon the affections of
the nation than any monarch since Saint Louis, and who, had he lived to
execute his schemes, would have raised France to the highest pitch of
glory. Nor do I forget, that, although he fought for a great cause, and
reigned with great wisdom and ability, and thus rendered important
services to his country, he was a man of great defects of character,
stained with those peculiar vices which disgraced most of the Bourbon
kings, especially Louis XIV. and Louis XV.; that his court was the
scene of female gallantries and intrigues, and that he was more under
the influence of women than was good for the welfare of his country or
his own reputation. But the limits of this lecture will not permit me to
dwell on his acts as a monarch, or on his statesmanship, his services,
or his personal defects of character. I am obliged, from the magnitude
of my subject, and from the necessity of giving it unity and interest,
to confine myself to him as a leader of the Huguenots alone. It is not
Henry himself that I would consider, so much as the struggles of the
brave men associated with him, more or less intimately, in their attempt
to secure religious liberty in the sixteenth century.

The sixteenth century! What a great era that was In comparison with the
preceding centuries since Christianity was declared! From a religious
and heroic point of view it was immeasurably a greater period than the
nineteenth century, which has been marked chiefly for the triumphs of
science, material progress, and social and political reforms. But in
earnestness, in moral grandeur, and in discussions which pertain to the
health and life of nations, the sixteenth century was greater than our
own. Then began all sorts of inquiries about Nature and about mind,
about revelation and Providence, about liberty of worship and freedom of
thought; all of which were discussed with an enthusiasm and patience
and boldness and originality to which our own times furnish no parallel.
And united with this fresh and original agitation of great ideas was a
heroism in action which no age of the world has equalled. Men risked
their fortunes and their lives in defence of those principles which have
made the enjoyment of them in our times the greatest blessing we
possess. It was a new spirit that had arisen in our world to break the
fetters which centuries of fraud and superstition and injustice had
forged,--a spirit scornful of old authorities, yet not sceptical, with
disgust of the past and hope for the future, penetrating even the
hamlets of the poor, and kindling the enthusiasm of princes and nobles,
producing learned men in every country of Europe, whose original
investigations should put to the blush the commentators and compilers of
this age of religious mediocrity and disguised infidelity. Such
intellectual giants in the field of religious inquiry had not appeared
since the Fathers of the Church combated the paganism of the Roman
world, and will not probably appear again until the cycle of changes is
completed in the domain of theological thought, and men are forced to
meet the enemies of divine revelation marshalled in such overwhelming
array that there will be a necessity for reformers, called out by a
special Providence to fight battles,--as I regard Luther and Calvin and
Knox. The great difference between the sixteenth and nineteenth
centuries, outside of material aspects, is that the former recognized
the majesty of God, and the latter the majesty of man. Both centuries
believed in progress; but the sixteenth century traced this progress to
first, and the nineteenth to second, causes. The sixteenth believed that
human improvement was owing directly to special divine grace, and the
nineteenth believes in the necessary development of mankind. The school
of the sixteenth century was spiritual, that of the nineteenth is
material; the former looked to heaven, the latter looks to earth. The
sixteenth regarded this world as a mere preparation for the next, and
the nineteenth looks upon this world as the future scene of indefinite
and completed bliss. The sixteenth century attacked the ancient, the
nineteenth attacks the eternal. The sixteenth destroyed, but
reconstructed; the nineteenth also destroys, but would substitute
nothing instead. The sixteenth reminds us of audacious youth, still
clinging to parental authority; the nineteenth reminds us of cynical and
irreverent old age, believing in nothing but the triumphs of science and
art, and shaking off the doctrines of the ages as exploded

The sixteenth century was marked not only by intensely earnest religious
inquiries, but by great civil and social disorders,--showing a
transition period of society from the slaveries and discomforts of the
feudal ages to the liberty and comforts of highly civilized life. In
the midst of religious enthusiasm we see tumults, insurrections,
terrible animosities, and cruel intolerance. War was associated with
inhuman atrocities, and the acceptance of the reformed faith was
followed by bitter and heartless persecution. The feudal system had
received a shock from standing armies and the invention of gunpowder and
the central authority of kings, but it was not demolished. The nobles
still continued to enjoy their social and political distinctions, the
peasantry were ground down by unequal laws, and the nobles were as
arrogant and quarrelsome as the people were oppressed by unjust
distinctions. They were still followed by their armed retainers, and had
almost unlimited jurisdiction in their respective governments. Even the
higher clergy gloried in feudal inequalities, and were selected from the
noble classes. The people were not powerful enough to make combinations
and extort their rights, unless they followed the standards of military
chieftains, arrayed perhaps against the crown and against the
parliaments. We see no popular, independent political movements; even
the people, like all classes above them, were firm and enthusiastic in
their religious convictions.

The commanding intellect at that time in Europe was John Calvin (a
Frenchman, but a citizen of Geneva), whom we have already seen to be a
man of marvellous precocity of genius and astonishing logical powers,
combined with the most exhaustive erudition on all theological subjects.
His admirers claim a distinct and logical connection between his
theology and civil liberty itself. I confess I cannot see this. There
was nothing democratic about Calvin. He ruled indeed at Geneva as
Savonarola did in Florence, but he did not have as liberal ideas as the
Florentine reformer about the political liberties of the people. He made
his faith the dearest thing a man could have, to be defended unto death
in the face of the most unrelenting persecution. It was the tenacity to
defend the reformed doctrines, of which, next to Luther, Calvin was the
greatest champion, which kindled opposition to civil rulers. And it was
opposition to civil rulers who proved themselves tyrants which led to
the struggle for civil liberty; not democratic ideas of right. These may
have been the sequence of agitations and wars, but not their animating
cause,--like the ideas of Rousseau on the French revolutionists. The
original Puritans were not democratic; the Presbyterians of Scotland
were not, even when Cromwell led the armies, but not the people, of
England. The Huguenots had no aspirations for civil rights; they only
aspired for the right of worshipping God according to the dictates of
conscience. There was nothing popular in their notions of government
when Henry IV. headed the forces of the Huguenots; he only aimed at the
recognition of religious rights. The Huguenots never rallied around
popular leaders, but rather under the standards of princes and nobles
fighting for the right of worshipping God according to the dictation or
ideas of Calvin. They would preserve their schools, their churches,
their consistories, and their synods; they would be unmolested in their
religious worship.

Now, at the time when Henry IV. was born, in the year 1553, when Henry
II. was King of France and Edward VI. was King of England, the ideas of
the Reformation, and especially the doctrines of Calvin, had taken a
deep and wide hold of the French people. The Calvinists, as they were
called, were a powerful party; in some parts of France they were in a
majority. More than a third of the whole population had enthusiastically
accepted the reformed doctrines. They were in a fair way toward triumph;
they had great leaders among the highest of the nobility. But they were
bitterly hated by the king and the princes of the house of Valois, and
especially by the Duke of Guise and the Cardinal of Lorraine,--the most
powerful famlies in France,--because they meditated to overturn, not the
throne, but the old established religion. The Pope instigated the most
violent proceedings; so did the King of Spain. It was resolved to
suppress the hated doctrines. The enemies of the Calvinists resorted to
intrigues and assassinations; they began a furious persecution, as they
held in their hands the chief political power. Injustice succeeded
injustice, and outrage followed outrage. During the whole reigns of the
Valois Princes, treachery, assassinations, and bloody executions marked
the history of France. Royal edicts forbid even the private assemblies
of the Huguenots, on pain of death. They were not merely persecuted but
calumniated. There was no crime which was not imputed to them, even that
of sacrificing little children; so that the passions of the people were
aroused against them, and they were so maltreated that all security was
at an end. From a condition of hopeful progress, they were forced back
and beaten down. Their condition became insupportable. There was no
alternative but desperate resistance or martyrdom, for the complete
suppression of Protestantism was resolved upon, on the part of the
government. The higher clergy, the parliaments, the University of Paris,
and the greater part of the old nobility supported the court, and each
successive Prince of the house of Valois adopted more rigorous measures
than his predecessor. Henry II. was more severe than Francis I.; and
Francis II. was more implacable than Henry II., who was killed at a
tournament in 1559. Francis II., a feeble prince, was completely ruled
by his mother, Catherine de Medicis, an incarnated fiend of cruelty and
treachery, though a woman of pleasing manners and graceful
accomplishments,--like Mary of Scotland, but without her levities. Under
her influence persecution assumed a form which was truly diabolical. The
Huguenots, although supported by the King of Navarre, the Prince of
Conde, Coligny (Admiral of France), his brother the Seigneur d' Andelot,
the Count of Montgomery, the Duke of Bouillon, the Duke of Soubise, all
of whom were nobles of high rank, were in danger of being absolutely
crushed, and were on the brink of despair. What if a third part of the
people belonged to their ranks, when the whole power of the crown and a
great majority of the nobles were against them; and these supported by
the Pope and clergy, and stimulated to ferocity by the Jesuits, then
becoming formidable?

At last the Huguenots resolved to organize and arm in their own defence,
for there is a time when submission ceases to be a virtue. If ever a
people had cause for resistance it was this persecuted people. They did
not rise up against their persecutors with the hope of overturning the
throne, or producing a change of dynasties, or gaining constitutional
liberty, or becoming a political power hostile to the crown, like the
Puritans under Cromwell or Hampden, but simply to preserve what to them
was more precious than life. All that they demanded was a toleration of
their religion; and as their religion was dearer to them than life, they
were ready to undergo any sacrifices. Their resistance was more
formidable than was anticipated; they got possession of cities and
fortresses, and were able to defy the whole power of the crown. It was
found impossible to suppress a people who fought with so much heroism,
and who defied every combination. So truces and treaties were made with
them, by which their religious rights were guaranteed. But these
treaties were perpetually broken, for treachery is no sin with religious
persecutors, since "the end justified the means."

This Huguenotic contest, attended with so much vicissitude, alternate
defeat and victory, and stained by horrid atrocities, was at its height
when Henry IV. was a boy, and had no thought of ever being King of
France. His father, Antoine de Bourbon, although King of Navarre and a
prince of the blood, being a lineal descendant from Saint Louis, was
really only a great noble, not so powerful as the Duke of Guise or the
Duke of Montmorency; and even he, a leader of the rebellion, was finally
won over to the court party by the seductions brought to bear on him by
Roman priests. He was either bribed or intimidated, and disgracefully
abjured the cause for which he at first gallantly fought. He died from a
wound he received at the siege of Rouen, while commanding one of the
armies of Charles IX., who succeeded his brother Francis II., in 1560.

The mother of the young prince, destined afterwards to be so famous,
was one of the most celebrated women of history,--Jeanne D'Albret, niece
of Francis L; a woman who was equally extolled by men of letters and
Calvinistic divines. She was as beautiful as she was good; at her castle
in Pau, the capital of her hereditary kingdom of Navarre, she diffused a
magnificent hospitality, especially to scholars and the lights of the
reformed doctrines. Her kingdom was small, and was politically
unimportant; but she was a sovereign princess nevertheless. The
management of the young prince, her son, was most admirable, but
unusual. He was delicate and sickly as an infant, and reared with
difficulty; but, though a prince, he was fed on the simplest food, and
exposed to hardships like the sons of peasants; he was allowed to run
bareheaded and barefooted, exposed to heat and rain, in order to
strengthen his constitution. Amid the hills at the base of the Pyrenees,
in the company of peasants' children, he thus acquired simple and
natural manners, and accustomed himself to fatigues and dangers. He was
educated in the reformed doctrines, but was more distinguished as a boy
for his chivalric graces, physical beauty, and manly sports than for
seriousness of character or a religious life. He grew up a Protestant,
from education rather than conviction. At twelve, in the year 1565, he
was intrusted by his mother, the Queen of Navarre, to the care of his
uncle, the Prince of Conde, and, on his death, to Admiral Coligny, the
acknowledged leader of the Protestants. He thus witnessed many bloody
battles before he was old enough to be intrusted with command. At
eighteen he was affianced to Marguerite de Valois, sister of Charles
IX., in spite of differences of religion.

It was amid the nuptial festivities of the young King of Navarre,--his
mother had died the year before,--when all the prominent leaders of the
Protestants were enticed to Paris, that preparations were made for the
blackest crime in the annals of civilized nations,--even the treacherous
and hideous massacre of St. Bartholomew, perpetrated by Charles IX., who
was incited to it by his mother, the ever-infamous Catherine de Medicis,
and the Duke of Guise.

The Protestants, under the Prince of Conde and Admiral Coligny, had
fought so bravely and so successfully in defence of their cause that all
hope of subduing them in the field was given up. The bloody battles of
Montcontour, of St. Denis, and of Jarnac had proved how stubbornly the
Huguenots would fight; while their possession of such strong fortresses
as Montauban and La Rochelle, deemed impregnable, showed that they could
not easily be subdued. Although the Prince of Conde had been slain at
the battle of Jarnac, this great misfortune to the Protestants was more
than balanced by the assassination of the great Duke of Guise, the
ablest general and leader of the Catholics. So when all hope had
vanished of exterminating the Huguenots in open warfare, a deceitful
peace was made; and their leaders were decoyed to Paris, in order to
accomplish, in one foul sweep, by wholesale murder, the
diabolical design.

The Huguenot leaders were completely deceived. Old Admiral Coligny, with
his deeper insight, hesitated to put himself into the power of a bigoted
and persecuting monarch; but Charles IX. pledged his word for his
safety, and in an age when chivalry was not extinguished, his promise
was accepted. Who could believe that his word of honor would be broken,
or that he, a king, could commit such an outrageous and unprecedented
crime? But what oath, what promise, what law can bind a man who is a
slave of religious bigotry, when his church requires a bloody and a
cruel act? The end seemed to justify any means. I would not fix the
stain of that infamous crime exclusively on the Jesuits, or on the Pope,
or on the councillors of the King, or on his mother. I will not say that
it was even exclusively a Church movement: it may have been equally an
apparent State necessity. A Protestant prince might mount the throne of
France, and with him, perhaps, the ascendency of Protestantism, or at
least its protection. Such a catastrophe, as it seemed to the
councillors of Charles IX., must somehow be averted. How could it be
averted otherwise than by the assassination of Henry himself, and his
cousin Conde, and the brave old admiral, as powerful as Guise, as
courageous as Du Gueslin, and as pious as Godfrey? And then, when these
leaders were removed, and all the Protestants in Paris were murdered,
who would remain to continue the contest, and what Protestant prince
could hope to mount the throne? But whoever was directly responsible for
the crime, and whatever may have been the motives for it, still it was
committed. The first victim was Coligny himself, and the slaughter of
sixty thousand persons followed in Paris and the provinces. The Admiral
Coligny, Marquis of Chatillon, was one of the finest characters in all
history,--brave, honest, truthful, sincere, with deep religious
convictions, and great ability as a general. No Englishman in the
sixteenth century can be compared with him for influence, heroism, and
virtue combined. It was deemed necessary to remove this illustrious man,
not because he was personally obnoxious, but because he was the leader
of the Protestant party.

It is said that as the fatal hour approached to give the signal for the
meditated massacre, Aug. 24, 1572, the King appeared irresolute and
disheartened. Though cruel, perfidious, and weak, he shrank from
committing such a gigantic crime, and this too in the face of his royal
promises. But there was one person whom no dangers appalled, and whose
icy soul could be moved by no compassion and no voice of conscience. At
midnight, Catherine entered the chamber of her irresolute son, in the
Louvre, on whose brow horror was already stamped, and whose frame
quivered with troubled chills. Coloring the crime with the usual
sophistries of all religious and political persecution, that the end
justifies the means, and stigmatizing him as a coward, she at last
extorted from his quivering lips the fatal order; and immediately the
tocsin of death sounded from the great bell of the church of St. Germain
de Auxerrois. At once the slaughter commenced in every corner of Paris,
so well were the horrid measures concerted. Screams of despair were
mingled with shouts of vengeance; the cries of the murdered were added
to the imprecations of the murderers; the streets flowed with blood, the
dead rained from the windows, the Seine became purple. Men, women, and
children were seen flying in every direction, pursued by soldiers, who
were told that an insurrection of Protestants had broken out. No sex or
age or dignity was spared, no retreat afforded a shelter, not even the
churches of the Catholics. Neither Alaric nor Attila ever inflicted such
barbarities. No besieged city taken by assault ever saw such wanton
butcheries, except possibly Jerusalem when taken by Titus or Godfrey,
or Magdeburg when taken by Tilly. And as the bright summer sun
illuminated the city on a Sunday morning the massacre had but just
begun; nor for three days and three nights did the slaughter abate. A
vulgar butcher appeared before the King and boasted he had slain one
hundred and fifty persons with his own hand in a single night. For seven
days was Paris the scene of disgraceful murder and pillage and violence.
Men might be seen stabbing little infants, and even children were known
to slaughter their companions. Nor was there any escape from these
atrocities; the very altars which had once protected Christians from
pagans were polluted by Catholic executioners. Ladies jested with
unfeeling mirth over the dead bodies of murdered Protestants. The very
worst horrors of which the mind could conceive were perpetrated in the
name of religion. And then, when no more victims remained, the King and
his court and his clergy proceeded in solemn procession to the cathedral
church of Notre Dame, amidst hymns of praise, to return thanks to God
for the deliverance of France from men who had sought only the privilege
of worshipping Him according to their consciences!

Nor did the bloody work stop here; orders were sent by the Government to
every city and town of France to execute the like barbarities. The utter
extermination of the Protestants was resolved upon throughout the
country. The slaughter was begun in treachery and was continued in the
most heartless cruelty. When the news of it reached Borne, the Holy
Father the Pope caused a medal to be struck in commemoration of the
event, illuminated his capital, ordained general rejoicings, as if for
some signal victory over the Turks; and, assisted by his cardinals and
clergy, marched in glad procession to St. Peter's Church, and offered up
a solemn Te Deum for this vile and treacherous slaughter of sixty
thousand Protestants.

In former lectures I have passed rapidly and imperfectly over this awful
crime, not wishing to stimulate passions which should be buried, and
thinking it was more the fault of the age than of Catholic bigots; but I
now present it in its naked deformity, to be true to history, and to
show how cruel is religious intolerance, confirmed by the history of
other inhumanities in the Catholic Church,--by the persecution of
Dominican monks, by the slaughter of the Albigenses, by inquisitions,
gunpowder plots, the cruelties of Alva, and that trail of blood which
has marked the fairest portions of Europe by the hostilities of the
Church of Borne in its struggles to suppress Protestant opinions. I
mention it to recall the fact that Protestantism has never been stained
by such a crime. I mention it to invoke gratitude that such a misguided
zeal has passed away and is never likely to return. Catholic historians
do not pretend to deny the horrid facts, but ascribe the massacre to
political animosities rather than religious,--a lame and impotent
defence of their persecuting Church in the sixteenth century.

But this atrocity had such a demoniacal blackness and perfidy about it
that it filled the whole Protestant world with grief and indignation,
especially England, and had only the effect of binding together the
Huguenots in a solid phalanx of warriors, resolved on making no peace
with their perfidious enemies until their religious liberties were
guaranteed Though decimated, they were not destroyed; for the provincial
governors and rural magistrates generally refused to execute the royal
decrees,--their hearts were moved with pity. The slaughter was not
universal, and Henry himself had escaped, his life being spared on
condition of his becoming a Catholic, which as a matter of form he did.

Nevertheless, all Protestant eyes were now directed to him as their
leader, since Coligny had perished by daggers, and Conde on the field of
battle. Henry was still a young man, only twenty years of age, but able,
intrepid, and wise. He and his cousin, the younger Conde, were still
held as hostages, while the Huguenots again rallied and retired to their
strong fortress of La Rochelle. Their last hopes centred in this
fortress, defended by only fifteen thousand men, under the brave La
None, while the royal army embraced the flower of the French nobility,
commanded by the Dukes of Anjou and Alencon. But these royal dukes were
compelled to raise the siege, 1573, with a loss of forty thousand men. I
regard the successful defence of this fortress, at this crisis, as the
most fortunate event in the whole Huguenot contest, since it enabled the
Huguenots to make a stand against the whole power of the monarchs. It
did not give them victory, but gave them a place to rally; and it
proclaimed the fact that the contest would not end until the Protestants
had achieved their liberties or were utterly annihilated.

Soon after this successful and glorious defence of La Rochelle, Charles
IX. died, at the age of twenty-four, in awful agonies,--the victim of
remorse and partial insanity, in the hours of which the horrors of St.
Bartholomew were ever present to his excited imagination, and when he
beheld wild faces of demons and murdered Huguenots rejoicing in his
torments, and heard strange voices consigning his name to infamy and his
body to those never-ending physical torments in which both Catholics and
Protestants equally believed. His mother however remained cold,
inflexible, and unmoved,--for when a woman falls under the grip of the
Devil, then no man can equal her in shamelessness and reckless sin.

Charles IX. was succeeded, in 1574, by his brother the King of Poland,
under the name of Henry III., who was equally under the control of his
mother Catherine.

Two years afterward the King of Navarre succeeded in making his escape,
and joined the Huguenot army at Tours. He was now twenty-three. He
astonished the whole kingdom by his courage and intrepidity,--winning
the hearts of the soldiers, and uniting them by strict military
discipline. His friend and counsellor was Rosny, afterwards Duke of
Sully, to whose wise counsels his future success may be in a great
measure traced. Fortunate is the prince who will listen to frank and
disagreeable advice; and that was one of the virtues of Henry,--a
magnanimity which has seldom been equalled by generals.

The Huguenots were now able to make a stand in the open country, partly
from additions to their numbers and partly from the mistakes and
frivolities of Henry III., who alienated stern Catholics and his best
friends. It was then that Bouillon, father of the illustrious Turenne,
joined the standard of Henry of Navarre. Soon after this, Henry became
heir-apparent of the French throne, by the death of the Duke of Alencon,
1584. Only the King, Henry III., a man without children, and the last of
the male line of the house of Valois, stood between Henry of Navarre and
the throne. The possibility that he, a Protestant, might wield the
sceptre of Saint Louis, his ancestor, increased the bitterness and
animosity of the Catholics. All the forces which the Government could
raise were now arrayed against him and his party. The Pope, Sixtus V.,
in a papal bull, took away his hereditary rights; but fortune favored
him. The Duke of Guise, who aspired to the throne, was himself
assassinated, as his father had been; and now, by the orders of his
jealous sovereign, his brother, the Cardinal of Guise, nephew of the
Cardinal of Lorraine,--a man who held three archbishoprics, six
bishoprics, and five abbeys, and these the richest in the
kingdom,--shared the same fate. And Providence removed also, soon after,
the most guilty and wicked of all the perpetrators of the massacre of
St. Bartholomew, even Catherine de Medicis,--who would be regarded as a
female monster, an incarnate fiend, a Messalina, or a Fredegunda, had
she not been beautiful, with pleasing and gracious manners, a great
fondness for society and music and poetry and art,--the most
accomplished woman of her day, and so attractive as to be compared by
the poets of her court to Aurora and Venus. Her life only shows how much
heartlessness, cruelty, malignity, envy, and selfishness may be
concealed by the mask of beauty and agreeable manners and artistic

The bloody battle of Coutras enabled Henry of Navarre to take a stand
against the Catholics; but after the death of Henry III. by
assassination, in 1589, his struggles for the next five years were more
to secure his hereditary rights as King of France than to lead the
Huguenots to victory as a religious body. It might have been better for
them had Henry remained the head of their party rather than become King
of France, since he might not have afterwards deserted them. But there
was really no hope of the Huguenots gaining a political ascendency at
any time; they composed but a third part of the nation; their only hope
was to secure their religious liberties.

The most brilliant part of the military career of Henry IV. was when he
struggled for his throne, supported of course by the Huguenots, and
opposed by the whole Catholic party, the King of Spain, and the Pope of
Rome. The Catholics, or the "Leaguers" as they were called, were led by
the Duke of Mayenne. I need not describe the successes of Henry, until
the battle of Ivry, March 14, 1590, made him really the monarch of
France. On that eventful day both armies, having performed their
devotions, were drawn out for action. Both armies knew that this battle
would be decisive; and when all the arrangements were completed, Henry,
completely covered with mail except his hands and head, mounted upon a
great bay charger, galloped up and down the ranks, giving words of
encouragement to his soldiers, and assuring them that he would either
conquer or die. "If my standard fail you," said he, "keep my plume in
sight: you will always see it in the face of glory and honor." So
saying, he put on his helmet, adorned with three white plumes, gave the
order of battle, and, sword in hand, led the charge against the enemy.
For some time the issue of the conflict was doubtful, for the forces
were about equal; but at length victory inclined to the Protestants, who
broke forth in shouts as Henry, covered with dust and blood, appeared at
the head of the pursuing squadrons.

"Now, God be praised, the day is ours! Mayenne hath turned
his rein,
D'Aumale hath cried for quarter, the Flemish count is slain.
Their ranks are breaking like thin clouds before a Biscay gale;
The field is heaped with bleeding steeds, and flags, and cloven
And then we thought on vengeance, and all along our van
'Remember St. Bartholomew' was passed from man to man.
But out spake gentle Henry then: 'No Frenchman is my foe;
Down, down with every foreigner, but let your brethren go!'
Oh, was there ever such a knight, in friendship or in war,
As our sovereign lord, King Henry, the soldier of Navarre?"

The battle of Ivry, in which the forces of the League met with a
complete overthrow, was followed by the siege of Paris, its memorable
defence, and the arrival of the Duke of Parma, which compelled Henry to
retire. Though he had gained a great victory, and received great
accessions, he had to struggle four years longer, so determined were the
Catholics; and he might have had to fight a still longer time for his
throne had he not taken the extraordinary resolution of abjuring his
religion and cause. His final success was not doubtful, even as a
Protestant king, since his title was undisputed; but he wearied of war.
The peace of the kingdom and the security of the throne seemed to him a
greater good than the triumph of the Huguenots. In that age great power
was given to princes; he doubtless could have reigned as a Protestant
prince had he persevered for a few years longer, and Protestantism would
have been the established religion of France, as it was of England under
Elizabeth. Henry as a Protestant king would have had no more enemies, or
difficulties, or embarrassments than had the Virgin Queen, who on her
accession found only one bishop willing to crown her. He had all the
prestige of a conqueror, and was personally beloved, besides being a man
of ability. His prime minister, Sully, was as able a man as Burleigh,
and as good a Protestant; and the nation was enthusiastic. The Huguenots
had deeper convictions, and were more logical in their creed, than the
English Episcopalians. Leagued with England and Holland and Germany,
France could have defied other Catholic powers,--could have been more
powerful politically. Protestantism would have had the ascendency
in Europe.

But it was not to be. To the mind of the King he had nothing before him
but protracted war, unless he became a Catholic; and as all the
Huguenots ever struggled for was religious toleration, he would, as
king, grant this toleration, and satisfy all parties. He either had no
deep religious convictions, like Coligny and Dandelot, or he preferred
an undisturbed crown to the ascendency of the religion for which he had
so bravely fought. What matter, the tempter said, whether he reigned as
a Catholic or Protestant monarch, so long as religious liberty was given
to his subjects? Could he have reigned forever, could he have been
assured of the toleration of his successors, this plea might have had
some force; but it was the dictate of expediency, and no man can predict
its ultimate results. He was not a religious man, although he was the
leader of the Protestant party. He was far from being even moral in his
social relations; still less had he the austerity of manners and habits
that then characterized the Huguenots, for they were Calvinists and
Presbyterians. He was gallant, brave, generous, magnanimous, and
patriotic,--the model of a gentleman, the impersonation of chivalry, the
charm of his friends, the idol of his army, the glory of his country;
but there his virtues stopped. He was more of a statesman than the
leader of a party. He wanted to see France united and happy and
prosperous more than he wanted to see the ascendency of the Huguenots.
He was now not the King of Navarre,--a small country, scarcely thirty
miles long,--but the King of France, ruling, as he aspired, from the
Pyrenees to the Rhine. So it is not strange that he was governed by the
principles of expediency, as most monarchs are. He wished to aggrandize
his monarchy; that aim was dearer to him than the reformed faith.
Coligny would have fought to the bitter end to secure the triumph of the
Protestant cause; but Henry was not so lofty a man as the Admiral,--he
had not his religious convictions, or stern virtues, or incorruptible
life. He was a gallant monarch, an able general, a far-reaching
statesman, yet fond of pleasure and of the glories of a court.

So Henry made up his mind to abjure his faith. On Sunday the 25th of
July, 1593, clad not in helmet and cuirass and burnished steel, as at
Ivry, but in a doublet of white satin, and a velvet coat ornamented with
jewels and orders and golden fleurs de lis, and followed by cardinals
and bishops and nobles, he entered the venerable Abbey of St. Denis,
where reposed the ashes of all his predecessors, from Dagobert to Henry
III, and was received into the bosom of the Catholic Church. A solemn Te
Deum was then chanted by unnumbered priests; and the lofty pillars, the
marble altars, the storied effigies, the purple windows, and the vaulted
roof of that mediaeval monument re-echoed to the music of those glorious
anthems which were sung ages before the most sainted of the kings of
France was buried in the crypt. The partisans of the Catholic faith
rejoiced that a heretic had returned to the fold of true believers;
while the saddened, disappointed, humiliated members of the reformed
religion felt, and confessed with shame, that their lauded protector had
committed the most lamentable act of apostasy since the Emperor Julian
abjured Christianity. It is true they palliated his conduct and remained
faithful to his standard; but they felt he had committed a great
blunder, if it were not a great crime. They knew that their cause was
lost,--lost by him who had been their leader. Truly could they say, "Put
not your trust in princes." To the irreligious, but worldly-wise, Henry
had made a grand stroke of policy; had gained a kingdom well worth a
Mass, had settled the disorders of forty years, had united both
Catholics and Protestants in fealty to his crown, and was left at
leisure to develop the resources of the nation, and lay a foundation for
its future greatness.

I cannot here enumerate Henry IV.'s services to France, after the long
civil war had closed; they were very great, and endeared him to the
nation. He proved himself a wise and beneficent ruler; with the aid of
the transcendent abilities of Sully, whose counsels he respected, he
reduced taxation, founded schools and libraries, built hospitals, dug
canals, repaired fortifications, restrained military license, punished
turbulence and crime, introduced useful manufactures, encouraged
industry, patronized learning, and sought to perpetuate peace. He aimed
to be the father of his people, and he was the protector of the poor.
His memorable saying is still dear to the hearts of Frenchmen: "I hope
so to manage my kingdom that the poorest subject of it may eat meat
every day in the week, and moreover be enabled to put a fowl into the
pot every Sunday." I should like to point out his great acts and his
enlightened policy, especially his effort to create a balance of power
in Europe. The settlement of the finances and the establishment of
various industries were his most beneficial acts. The taxes were reduced
one half, and at his death he had fifty millions in the treasury,--a
great sum in those days,--having paid off a debt of three hundred
millions in eight years.

These and other public services showed his humane nature and his
enlightened mind, until, after a glorious reign of twenty-one years, he
was cut off, in the prime of his life and in the midst of his
usefulness, by the assassin's dagger, May, 1610, in the fifty-eighth
year of his age,--the greatest of all the French kings,--leaving five
children by his second wife, Marie de Medicis, four of whom became kings
or queens.

But to consider particularly Henry's connection with the Huguenots. If
he deserted their ranks, he did not forget them. He gave them religious
toleration,--all they originally claimed. In 1598 was signed the
memorable edict of Nantes, by which the Protestants preserved their
churches, their schools, their consistories, and their synods; and they
retained as a guarantee several important cities and fortresses,--a sort
of _imperium in imperio_. They were made eligible to all offices. They
were not subjected to any grievous test-act. They enjoyed social and
political equality, as well as unrestricted religious liberty, except in
certain cities. They gained more than the Puritans did in the reign of
Charles II. They were not excluded from universities, nor degraded in
their social rank, nor annoyed by unjust burial laws. The two religions
were placed equally under the protection of the government. By this
edict the Huguenots gained all that they had struggled for.

Still, the abjuration of Henry IV. was a great calamity to them. They
lost their prestige; they were in a minority; they could count no longer
on the leadership of princes. They were deprived gradually of the
countenance of powerful nobles and all the potent influences of fashion;
and when a reaction against Calvinism took place in the seventeenth
century, the Huguenots had dwindled to a comparatively humble body of
unimportant people. They lost heart and men of rank to defend them when
the persecution of Richelieu overtook them in the next reign. They were
then unfit to contend successfully with that centralized monarchy of
which Henry IV. had laid the foundation, and which Richelieu cemented by
fraud and force. Louis XIV., educated by the Jesuits and always under
their influence, repealed the charter which Henry IV. had given them.
The persecution they suffered under Louis XIV. was more dreadful than
that they suffered under Charles IX., since they had neither arms, nor
organization, nor leaders, nor fortresses. Under the persecution of the
Valois princes they had Conde and the King of Navarre and Coligny for
leaders; they were strong enough to fight for their liberties,--they had
enthusiasm and prestige and hope. Under the iron and centralized
government of Louis XIV. they were completely defenceless, like lambs
before wolves; they had no hopes, they could make no defence; they were
an obnoxious, slandered, unimportant, unfashionable people, and their
light had gone out. They had no religious enthusiasm even; they were
small farmers and tradesmen and servants, and worshipped God in dingy
chapels. No great men arose among them, as among the Puritans of
England. They were still evangelical in their creed, but not earnest in
defending it; so persecution wiped them out--was terribly successful.
Eight hundred thousand of them perished in prisons and galleys or on
scaffolds, and there was no help.

Henry IV., when he gave toleration to the Huguenots, never dreamed that
his successors would undo his work. Had he foreseen that concession to
the unchanged and unchangeable enemies of human freedom would have ended
as it did, I believe his noble heart would have revolted from any peace
until he could have reigned as a Protestant king. Oh, had he struggled a
little longer for his crown, how different might have been the
subsequent history of France, and even Europe itself! How much greater
would have been his own fame! Even had he died as the defender of
Protestant liberties, a greater glory than that of Gustavus would have
been his forever. The immediate results of his abjuration were doubtless
beneficial to himself, to the Huguenots, and to his country. Expediency
gives great rewards; but expediency cannot control future events,--it is
short-sighted, and only for the time successful. Ask you for the
ultimate results of the abjuration of Henry IV., I point to the
demolition of La Rochelle, under Richelieu, and the systematic
humiliation of the Huguenots; I point to the revocation of the Edict of
Nantes, by Louis XIV., and the bitter and cruel and wholesale
persecution which followed; I point to the atrocities of the dragonnades
and the exile of the Huguenots to England and America and Holland; I
point to the extinction of civil and religions liberty in France,--to
the restoration of the Jesuits,--to the prevalence of religious
indifference under the guise of Roman Catholicism, until at last it
threw off the mask and defied all authority, both human and divine, and
invoked all the maddening passions of Revolution itself.


Histoire de Thou; L'Estoile; Memoires de la Reine Marguerite; Histoire
de Henri le Grand, par Madame de Genlis; Memoires de Sully; D'Aubigne;
Matthien; Brantome's Vie de Charles IX.; Henri Martin's History of
France; Mezerai; Perefixe; Sismondi.



THE THIRTY YEARS' WAR (1618-1648).

The Thirty Years' War, of which Gustavus Adolphus was the greatest hero,
was the result of those religious agitations which the ideas of Luther
produced. It was the struggle to secure religious liberty,--a warfare
between Catholic and Protestant Germany. It differed from the Huguenot
contest in this,--that the Protestants of France took up arms against
their king to extort religious privileges; whereas the Protestants of
Germany were marshalled by independent princes against other independent
princes of a different religion, who sought to suppress Protestantism.
In this warfare between Catholic and Protestant States, there were great
political entanglements and issues that affected the balance of power in
Europe. Hence the Thirty Years' War was political as well as religious.
It was not purely a religious war like the crusades, although religious
ideas gave rise to it. Nor was it an insurrection of the people against
their rulers to secure religious rights, so much as a contest between
Catholic and Protestant princes to secure the recognition of their
religious opinions in their respective States.

The Emperor of Germany in the time of Luther was Charles V.,--the most
powerful potentate of Europe, and, moreover, a bigoted Catholic. On his
abdication,--one of the most extraordinary events in history,--the
German dominions were given to his brother Ferdinand; Spain and the Low
Countries were bestowed on his son Philip. Ferdinand had already been
elected King of the Romans. There was a close alliance between these
princes of the House of Austria to suppress Protestantism in Europe. The
new Austrian emperor was not, indeed, so formidable as his father had
been, but was still one of the greatest monarchs of Europe; and so
powerful was the House of Austria that it excited the jealousy of the
other European powers. It was to prevent the dangerous ascendency of
Austria that Henry IV. of France raised a great army with a view of
invading Germany, but was assassinated before he could carry his scheme
into execution. He had armed France to secure what is called the
"balance of power;" and it was with the view of securing this balance of
power that Cardinal Richelieu, though a prince of the Church, took the
side of the Protestants in the Thirty Years' War. This famous contest
may therefore be regarded as a civil war, dividing the German nations;
as a religious war, to establish freedom of belief; and as a war to
prevent the ascendency of Austria, in which a great part of Europe
was involved.

The beginning of the contest, however, was the result of religious
agitation. The ideas of Luther created universal discussion. Discussion
led to animosities. All Germany was in a ferment; and the agitation was
not confined to those States which accepted the Reformation, but to
Catholic States also. The Catholic princes resolved to crush the
Reformation, first in their own dominions, and afterwards in the other
States of Germany. Hence, a bloody persecution of the Protestants took
place in all Catholic States. Their sufferings were unendurable. For a
while they submitted to the cruel lash, but at last they resolved to
defend the right of worshipping God according to their consciences. They
armed themselves, for death seemed preferable to religious despotism.
For more than fifty years after the death of Luther, Germany was the
scene of commotions ending in a fiery persecution. At that time Germany
was in advance of the rest of Europe in wealth and intelligence; the
Protestants especially were kindled to an enthusiasm, pertaining to
theological questions, which we in these times can but feebly realize;
and the Germans were doubtless the most earnest and religious people in
Europe. In those days there was neither religious indifference nor
scepticism nor rationalism. The faith of the people was simple, and they
were resolved to maintain it at any cost. But there were religious
parties and asperities, even among the Protestants. The Lutherans would
not unite with the Calvinists, and the Calvinists would not accede to
the demands of the Lutherans.

After a series of struggles with the Catholics, the Lutherans succeeded,
by the treaty of Augsburg (1555), in securing toleration; and this
toleration lasted during the reigns of Ferdinand I. and Maximilian II.
Indeed, Germany enjoyed tranquillity until the reign of Matthias, in
1612. This usurping emperor, who had delivered Germany from the Turks,
abolished in his dominions the Protestant religion, so far as edicts and
persecution could deprive the Protestants of their religious liberties.
Matthias died in 1619, and was succeeded by Ferdinand II., a bigoted
prince, who had been educated by the Jesuits. This emperor was an
inveterate enemy of the Protestants. He forbade their meetings, deprived
them even of civil privileges, pulled down their churches and schools,
erected scaffolds in every village, appointed only Catholic magistrates,
and inflicted unsparing cruelties on all who seceded from the
Catholic church.

It was under this Austrian emperor, seventy-three years from the death
of Luther, that the first act of the bloody tragedy which I am to
describe was opened by an insurrection in Bohemia, one of the hereditary
possessions of the House of Austria.

In this kingdom, isolated from the rest of Germany, separated on every
side from adjoining States by high mountains of volcanic origin, peopled
with the descendants of the ancient Sclavonians, who were characterized
by impulse and impetuosity, the reformed doctrines had taken a powerful
hold of the affections and convictions of the people. The followers of
John Huss and Jerome of Prague were something like the Lollards of
England, in their spirit and sincerity. But they were persecuted by
their Catholic rulers with a rigor and cruelty never seen among the
Lollards; for Ferdinand II. was the hereditary king of Bohemia as well
as emperor of Germany.

At last his tyranny and cruelties became unendurable, and in a violent
burst of passionate indignation his deputies were thrown out of the
windows of the chamber of the Council of Regency at Prague. This act of
violence was the signal of a general revolt, not in Bohemia merely, but
in Silesia, Moravia, Hungary, and Austria. The celebrated Count
Mansfeld, a soldier of fortune, with only four thousand troops, dared to
defy the whole imperial power; and for a while he was successful. The
Bohemians renounced their allegiance to Ferdinand, and chose for their
king Frederick V.,--Elector Palatine of the Rhine, son-in-law of James
I. of England, and head of the Protestant party in Germany. He unwisely
abandoned his electoral palace at Heidelberg, to grasp the royal sceptre
at Prague. But he was no match for the Austrian emperor, who, summoning
from every quarter the allies and adherents of imperial power, and
making peace with other enemies, poured into Bohemia such overwhelming
forces under Maximilian, Duke of Bavaria, that his authority was
established more firmly than before. The battle of Prague (1620) decided
the fate of Bohemia, and the Elector Palatine became a fugitive, and his
possessions were given to the Duke of Bavaria.

Then followed a persecution which has had no parallel since the
slaughter of the Albigenses and the massacre of St. Bartholomew. The
unhappy kingdom of Bohemia was abandoned to inquisitions and executions;
all liberties were suppressed, the nobles were decimated, ministers and
teachers were burned or beheaded, and Protestants of every rank, age,
and condition were prohibited from acting as guardians to children, or
making wills, or contracting marriages with Catholics, or holding any
office of trust and emolument. They were outlawed as felons, and
disfranchised as infidels. The halls of justice were deserted, the Muses
accompanied the learned in their melancholy flight, and all that
remained of Bohemian gallantry and heroism forsook the land. Strange to
say, the land of Huss and Jerome became henceforth the strongest hold of
Austrian despotism and papal superstition.

This is one of those instances where persecution proved successful. It
is a hackneyed saying that "the blood of martyrs is the seed of the
Church;" and it is true that lofty virtues have been generally developed
by self-sacrifice and martyrdom, and that only through great tribulation
have permanent blessings been secured. The Hollanders, by inundating
their fields and fighting literally to the "last ditch," preserved their
liberties and secured ultimate prosperity. The fires of Smithfield did
not destroy the reformed religion in England in the time of Mary, and
the jails and judicial murders of later and better times did not prevent
the progress of popular rights, or the extension of Puritanism in the
wilds of the American continent. But in the history of society the
instances are unfortunately numerous when bigotry and despotism have
kindled their infernal fires and erected their bloody scaffolds, not to
purify the Church and nourish the principles of Christian progress, but
to destroy what is good as well as what is evil. What availed the
struggles of the Waldenses in the Middle Ages? Who came to the rescue of
Savonarola when he attempted to reform the lives of degenerate
Florentines? What beneficial effects resulted ultimately from the
Inquisition in Spain? How was the revocation of the edict of Nantes
overruled for the good of the Huguenots of France?

And yet the unfortunate suppression of religious liberty in Bohemia, and
the sufferings of those who came to her rescue, especially the
misfortunes of the Elector Palatine, arrayed the Protestant princes of
Germany against the Emperor, and created general indignation throughout
Europe. Austria became more than ever a hated and dreaded power, not
merely to the States of Sweden, Denmark, Holland, and England, but to
Catholic France herself, then ruled by that able and ambitious statesman
Cardinal Richelieu, before whose tomb in an after age the czar Peter
bowed in earnest homage from the recollection and admiration of his
transcendent labors in behalf of absolutism. Even Richelieu, a prince of
the Church and the persecutor of the Huguenots, was alarmed at the
encroachments of Austria, and intrigued with Protestant princes to
undermine her dangerous ascendency.

Then opened the second act of the bloody drama of the seventeenth
century, when the allied Protestant princes of Germany, assisted by the
English and the Dutch, rallied under the leadership of Christian, King
of Denmark, and resolved to recover what they had lost; while Bethlen
Gabor, a Transylvanian prince, at the head of an army of robbers,
invaded Hungary and Austria. The Emperor, straitened in his finances,
was in no condition to meet this powerful confederacy, although the
illustrious Tilly was the commander of his forces.

But the demon of despotism, who never sleeps, raised up to his
assistance a great military genius. This was Wallenstein, Duke of
Friedland, the richest noble in Bohemia. The person whom he most
resembled, in that age of struggle and contending forces, when despotism
sought unscrupulous agents, was Thomas Wentworth, Earl of
Strafford,--the right hand of Charles I., in his warfare against the
liberties of England. Like Stratford, he was an apostate from the
principles in which he had been educated; like him, he had arisen from a
comparatively humble station; like him, his talents were as commanding
as his ambition,--devoted first to his own exaltation; and, secondly, to
the cause of absolutism, with which he sympathized with all the
intensity that a proud and domineering spirit may be supposed to feel
for the struggles of inexperienced democracy. Like the English
statesman, the German general was a Jesuit in the use of tools, jealous
of his authority, liberal in his rewards, and fearful in his vengeance.
Though greedy of admiration and fond of display, he surrounded himself
with mystery and gloom. Like Strafford, he was commanding in his person,
dignified, reserved, and sullen; with an eye piercing and melancholy, a
brow lowering with thought and care, and a lip compressed into
determination and twisted into a smile of ironical disdain.

This nobleman had fought with distinction as a colonel at the battle of
Prague, when Bohemian liberties had been prostrated, and had signally
distinguished himself in his infamous crusade against his own
countrymen. He offered, at his own expense, to raise and equip an army
of fifty thousand men in the service of the Emperor; but demanded as a
condition, that he should have the appointment of all his officers, and
the privilege of enriching himself and army from the spoils and
confiscations of conquered territories. These terms were extraordinary
and humiliating to an absolute sovereign, yet, at the crisis in which
Ferdinand was placed, they were too tempting to be refused.

Wallenstein fulfilled his promises, and raised in an incredibly short
time an immense army, composed of outlaws and robbers and adventurers
from all nations. He advanced rapidly against the allied Protestant
forces, levying enormous contributions wherever he appeared; as
imperious to friends as to foes, mistrusted and feared by both, yet
supremely indifferent to praise or censure; resting on the power of
brute force and his ability to enrich his soldiers. Possessing a fine
military genius, unbounded means, and unscrupulous rapacity, and
assisted by such generals as Tilly, Pappenheim, and Piccolomini,
seconded by Maximilian, Duke of Bavaria, he soon reduced his enemies to
despair. The King of Denmark was unequal to the contest, and sued for
peace. The Elector Frederic again became a fugitive, the Duke of
Brunswick was killed, and the intrepid Mansfeld died. The Electors of
Saxony and Brandenburg, the natural defenders of Protestantism and the
leading princes of the league, were awed into an abject neutrality. The
old protectors of Lutheranism were timid and despairing. The monarchs of
Europe trembled. Germany lay prostrate and bleeding. Christendom stood
aghast at the greatness of the calamities which afflicted Germany and
threatened neighboring nations.

But the Emperor at Vienna was overjoyed, and swelled with arrogance and
triumph. He divided among the members of his imperial house the rich
benefices of the Church, and bestowed upon his victorious general the
revenues of provinces. He now resolved to pursue the King of Denmark
into his remotest territories, to dethrone the King of Sweden, to give
away the crown of Poland, to aid the Spaniards in the recovery of the
United Provinces, to exterminate the Protestant religion, to subvert the
liberties of the German nations, and reign as a terrible incarnation of
imperial tyranny. He would even revive the dreams of Charlemagne and
Charles V., and make Vienna the centre of that power which once emanated
from Borne. He would ally himself more strongly with the Pope, and
extend the double tyranny of priests and kings over the whole continent
of Europe. Fines, imprisonments, tortures, banishments, and executions
were now added to the desolations which one hundred and fifty thousand
soldiers inflicted on villages and cities that had been for generations
increasing in wealth and prosperity.

In that dark hour of calamity and fears, Providence raised up a greater
hero than Wallenstein, a noble protector and intrepid deliverer, even
Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden; and the third act of the political
tragedy opens with his brilliant career.

Carlyle has somewhere said: "Is not every genius an impossibility until
he appear?" This is singularly true of Gustavus Adolphus. It was the
last thing for contemporaries to conjecture that the deliverer of
Germany, and the great hero of the Thirty Years' War, would have arisen
in the ice-bound regions of northern Europe. No great character had
arisen in Sweden of exalted fame, neither king nor poet, nor
philosopher, nor even singer. The little kingdom, to all appearance, was
rich only in mines of iron and hills of snow. It was not till the middle
of the sixteenth century that Sweden was even delivered from base
dependence on Denmark.

But Gustavus before he was thirty-five years of age had made his
countrymen a nation of soldiers; had freed his kingdom from Danish,
Russian, and Polish enemies; had made great improvements in the art of
war, having introduced a new system of tactics never materially improved
except by Frederic II.; had reduced strategy to a science; had raised
the importance of the infantry, had increased the strictness of military
discipline, had trained up a band of able generals, and inspired his
soldiers with unbounded enthusiasm.

And he had raised in the camp a new tone of moral feeling. Not even
Cromwell equalled him in divesting war of its customary atrocities, and
keeping alive the spirit of religion. The worship of God formed one of
the most important duties of the Swedish army wherever located. "Twice
every day the roll of the drum assembled the soldiers to prayer. The
usual vices of soldiers, like profanity and drunkenness and gambling,
were uniformly punished. Death was inflicted on any soldier who
assaulted a citizen in his house. Even a certificate was required of the
chief citizens of any place where troops were quartered, that their
conduct had been orderly. He never allowed, under any provocation, a
city to be taken by assault,--a striking contrast to the imperial

Nor amid the toils and dangers of war was Gustavus unmindful of his
duties as a king. He was one of the most enlightened statesmen that had
appeared since Charlemagne and Alfred. He established schools and
colleges, founded libraries, reformed the codes of law, introduced wise
mercantile regulations, rewarded eminent merit, respected the voice of
experience, and developed the industries of the country. What Richelieu
and Colbert did for France, what Burleigh and Cromwell did for England,
Gustavus did for Sweden. His prime minister is illustrious for wisdom
and ability, the celebrated Oxenstiern, through whose labors and genius
the country felt no impoverishment from war. He laid the foundation of
that prosperity which made a little kingdom great.

But all his excellences as a general, a statesman, and a ruler paled
before the exalted virtues of his private life. His urbanity, his
gentleness, his modesty, his meekness, his simplicity, and his love won
all hearts, and have never been exceeded except by Alfred the Great. He
was a Saint Louis on a throne, in marked contrast with the suspicion,
duplicity, roughness, and egotism of Oliver Cromwell,--the only other
great man of the century who equalled Gustavus in the value of public
services and enlightened mind. It is not often that Christian graces and
virtues are developed amid the tumults of war. David lost nothing of his
pious fervor and reliance on God when pursuing the Philistines, nor
Marcus Aurelius when fighting barbarians on the frozen Danube. The
perils and vicissitudes of war, with the momentous interests involved,
made Lincoln shine, amid all his jokes, a firm believer in the
overruling power that Napoleon failed to see. And so of Washington: he
was a better man and firmer Christian from the responsibilities that
were thrust upon him. Not so with Frederic the Great, and the marshals
of Louis XIV., with the exception of Turenne: war seemed rather to
develop their worst qualities. It usually makes a man unscrupulous,
hard, and arrogant. Military life is anything but interesting in the
usual bearing of Prussian officers. In our own Revolutionary war,
generals developed pride and avarice and jealousy. War turned Tilly into
a fiend. How cold and sullen and selfish it made Napoleon! How grasping
and greedy it made Marlborough! How unscrupulous it made Clive and
Hastings! How stubborn and proud it made Wellington! How vain and
pompous it made Scott! How overbearing it made Belle-Isle and Villars!
How reckless and hard it made Ney and Murat! The dangers and miseries of
war develop sternness, hardness, and indifference to suffering. It is
violence; and violence does not naturally produce the peaceful virtues.
It produces courage, indeed, but physical rather than moral,--least of
all, that spiritual courage which makes martyrs and saints. It makes
boon companions, not friends. It gives exaggerated ideas of
self-importance. It exalts the outward and material, not the spiritual
and the real. The very tread of a military veteran is stately, proud,
and conscious,--like that of a procession of cardinals, or of
railway kings.

So that when a man inured to camps and battles shines in the modest
unconsciousness of a Christian gentleman or meditative sage, we feel
unusual reverence for him. We feel that his soul is unpolluted, and that
he is superior to ordinary temptations.

And nothing in war develops the greatness of the higher qualities of
heart and soul but the sacredness of a great cause. This takes a man out
of himself, and binds his soul to God. He learns to feel that he is
merely an instrument of Almighty power. It was the sacredness of a great
cause that shed such a lustre on the character of Washington. How
unimpressible the victories of Charlemagne, disconnected with that work
of civilization which he was sent into the world to reconstruct! How
devoid of interest and grandeur were the battles of Marston Moor and
Worcester, without reference to those principles of religious liberty
which warmed the soul of Cromwell! The conflicts of Bunker Hill and
Princeton were insignificant when compared with the mighty array of
forces at Blenheim or Austerlitz; but when associated with ideas of
American independence, and the extension of American greatness from the
Atlantic to the Pacific, their sublime results are impressed upon the
mind with ever-increasing power. Even French soldiers have seldom been
victorious unless inspired by ideas of liberty or patriotism. It is ever
the majesty of a cause which makes not only great generals but good men.
And it was the greatness of the cause with which Gustavus Adolphus was
identified that gave to his character such moral beauty,--that same
beauty which exalted William the Silent and William of Orange amid the
disasters of their country, and made them eternally popular. After all,
the permanent idols of popular idolatry are not the intellectually
great, but the morally beautiful,--and all the more attractive when
their moral excellence is in strong contrast with the prevailing vices
of contemporaries. It was the moral greatness of Gustavus which has
given to him his truest fame. Great was he as a military genius, but
greater still as a benefactor of oppressed peoples.

Surely it was no common hero who armed himself for the deliverance of
Germany, which prostrate and bleeding held out her arms to be rescued
from political degradation, and for the preservation of liberties dearer
to good men than life itself. All Protestant Europe responded to the
cry; for great interests were now at stake, not in Germany merely, but
in the neighboring nations. It was to deliver his Lutheran brethren in
danger of extermination, and to raise a barrier against the overwhelming
power of Austria, that Gustavus Adolphus lent his armies to the
Protestant princes of Germany. Other motives may have entered into his
mind; his pride had been piqued by the refusal of the Emperor Ferdinand
to acknowledge his title as King; his dignity was wounded by the
contemptuous insolence shown to this ambassadors; his fears were excited
that Austria might seek to deprive him of his throne. The imperial
armies had already conquered Holstein and Jutland,--provinces that
belonged to Sweden. Unless Austria were humbled, Sweden would be ruined.
Gustavus embarked in the war against Austria, as William III. afterwards
did against Louis XIV. Wars to preserve the "balance of power" have not
generally been deemed offensive, when any power has become inordinately
aggrandized. Pitt opposed Napoleon, to rescue Europe from
universal monarchy.

So Gustavus, deeply persuaded of the duties laid upon him, assembled
together the deputies of his kingdom,--the representatives of the three
estates,--and explained to them his intentions and motives. "I know,"
said he, "the dangers I am about to encounter; I know that it is
probable I shall never return; I feel convinced that my life will
terminate on the field of battle. Let no one imagine that I am actuated
by private feelings or fondness for war. My object is to set bounds to
the increasing power of a dangerous empire before all resistance becomes
impossible. Your children will not bless your memory if, instead of
civil and religious freedom, you bequeath to them the superstitions of
monks and the double tyranny of popes and emperors. We must prevent the
subjugation of the Continent before we are reduced to depend upon a
narrow sea as the only safeguard of our liberties; for it is delusion to
suppose that a mighty empire will not be able to raise fleets, if once
firmly established on the shores of the ocean." Then taking his infant
daughter Christiana in his arms, he recommended her to the protection of
the nation, and bade adieu to the several orders of the State. Amid
their tears and sobs, he invoked upon them and his enterprise the
blessing of Almighty God. Then, hastening his preparations, he embarked
his forces for the deliverance of Germany. It was on the 24th of June,
1630, just one hundred years after the confession of Augsburg, that
Gustavus Adolphus landed on the German soil.

If ever the ruler of a nation is to be justified for going to war when
his country is not actually invaded, it was doubtless Gustavus Adolphus.
Had he withheld his aid, the probability is that all Germany would have
succumbed to the Austrian emperor, and have been incorporated with his
empire; and not only Germany, but Denmark and Sweden. The Protestant
religion would have been suppressed in northern Germany, as it was in
France by Louis XIV. There would have been no Protestant country in
Europe, but England, and perhaps Holland. A united German Empire, with
the restoration of the Catholic religion, would have been a most
dangerous power,--much more so than at the present day. Some there are,
doubtless, who would condemn Gustavus for the invasion of Germany, and
think he ought to have stayed at home and let his unfortunate neighbors
take care of themselves the best way they could. Perhaps the peace
societies would take this ground, and the apostles of thrift and
material prosperity. But I confess, when I see a man like the King of
Sweden, with all the temptations of luxury and ease, encountering all
sorts of perils and fatigues,--yea, offering up his life in battle in
order to emancipate suffering humanity,--then every generous impulse and
every dictate of enlightened reason urge me to add my praises with those
of past generations in honor of such exalted heroism.

According to the authors of those times, signs and prodigies appeared,
to warn mankind of the sanguinary struggle which was now to take place.
"In the dead of night, on wild heaths, in solitary valleys, the clang of
arms was heard. Armies were seen encountering each other in the heavens,
marshalled by aerial leaders, while monstrous births, mock suns, and
showers of fire filled the minds of the superstitious with fear and
dread. It would be puerile to believe these statements, yet if the
stupendous framework of external nature ever could exhibit sympathy with
the brief calamities of man, it may well be supposed to have been
displayed when one of the fairest portions of the earth was again to be
ravaged with fire and sword; and when the melancholy lesson, so often
exemplified before, was to receive still further confirmation,--that of
all the evils with which Divine wisdom permits this world to be visited,
none can be compared to those which the wrath of man is so often eager
to inflict upon his fellows."

I need not detail the various campaigns of the Swedish hero, his
marchings and counter-marchings, his sieges and battles and victories,
until the power of Austria was humbled and northern Germany was
delivered. The history of all war is the same. There is no variety
except to the eye of a military man. Military history is a dreary record
of dangers, sufferings, mistakes, and crimes; occasionally it is
relieved by brilliant feats of courage and genius, which create
enthusiastic admiration, but generally it is monotonous. It has but
little interest except to contemporaries. Who now reads the details of
our last great war? Who has not almost forgotten the names of its
ordinary generals? How sickening the description of the Crusades! The
mind cannot dwell on the conflagrations, the massacres, the starvations,
the desolations, of an invaded country. Few even read a description of
the famous battles of the world, which decided the fate of nations. When
battles and marches are actually taking place, and all is uncertainty,
then there is a vivid curiosity to learn immediate results; but when
wars are ended, we forget the intense excitements which we may have felt
when they were taking place. We gaze with eager interest on a game of
football, but when it is ended we care but little for the victors. It is
only when the remote consequences of great wars are traced by
philosophical historians, revealing the ways of Providence, retribution,
and eternal justice, that interest is enkindled. No book to me is more
dreary and uninteresting than the campaigns of Frederic II., though
painted by the hand of one of the greatest masters of modern times. Even
interest in the details of the battles of Napoleon is absorbed in the
interest we feel in the man,--how he was driven hither and thither by
the Providence he ignored, and made to point a moral to an immortal
tale. All we care about the histories of wars is the general results,
and the principles to be deduced as they bear on the cause of

It was fortunate for the fame and the cause of Gustavus that at the very
outset of his career, when he landed in Pomerania, with his small army
of twenty thousand men, the Emperor had been prevailed upon by a
pressure he could not resist, and the intrigues of all the German
princes, to dispense with the services of Wallenstein. Spain, France,
Bavaria,--the whole Electoral College, Catholic as well as
Protestant,--clamored for the discharge of the most unscrupulous general
of modern times. He was detested and feared by everybody. Humanity shed
tears over his exactions and cruelties, while general fears were aroused
that his influence was dangerous to the public peace. Most people
supposed that the war was virtually ended, and that he was therefore no
longer needed.

Loath was Ferdinand to part with the man to whom he was indebted for the
establishment of his throne; and it seems he was also personally
attached to him. Long did he resist expostulations and threats. He felt
as poor Ganganelli felt when called upon by the Bourbon courts of Europe
to annul the charter of the Jesuits. Wallenstein would probably have
been retained by Ferdinand, had this been possible; but the Emperor was
forced to yield to overwhelming importunities. So the dismissal of the
general was decreed at the diet of Worms, and a messenger of the Emperor
delivered to the haughty victor the decree of his sovereign.

Wallenstein was then at the head of one hundred thousand men. Would he
obey the order? Would he retire to private life? Ambitious and
unscrupulous as he was, he knew that no one, however powerful, could
resist an authority universally conceded to be supreme and legitimate.
It was like the recall of a proconsul by the Roman Emperor and Senate:
he could resist for a time, but resistance meant ultimate ruin. He also
knew that he would be recalled, for he was necessary to the Emperor. He
anticipated the successes of Gustavus. He was not prepared to be a
traitor. He would wait his time.

So he resigned his command without a moment's hesitation, and with
apparent cheerfulness. He even loaded the messenger with costly gifts.
He appeared happy to be relieved from labor and responsibility, and
retired at once to his vast Bohemian estates to pursue his favorite
studies in the science of the stars, to enshroud himself in mystery and
gloom, and dazzle his countrymen by the splendor of his life. "His table
was never furnished with less than one hundred covers; none but a noble
of ancient family was intrusted with the office of superintending his
household; an armed guard of fifty men waited in his antechamber; the
ramparts of his castle were lined with sentinels; six barons and as many
knights constantly attended on his person; sixty pages were trained and
supported in his palace, which was decorated with all the wonders of
art, and almost realized the fictions of Eastern luxury." In this
splendid retirement Wallenstein brooded on his wrongs, and waited for
the future.

The dismissal of this able general was a great mistake on the part of
the Emperor. There were left no generals capable of opposing Gustavus.
The supreme command had devolved on Tilly, able but bigoted, and best
known for his remorseless cruelty when Magdeburg was taken by
assault,--the direst tragedy of the war. This city was one of the first
to welcome the invasion of the King of Sweden, and also to adopt the
Protestant religion. It was the most prosperous city in northern
Germany; one of the richest and most populous. Against this mercantile
fortress Tilly directed all his energies, for he detested the spirit of
its people. It was closely invested by the imperial troops, and fell
before Gustavus could advance to relieve it. It was neglected by the
electors of Saxony and Brandenburg, who were timid and pusillanimous,
and it was lulled into false security by its strong position and
defences. Not sufficient preparation for defence had been made by the
citizens, who trusted to its strong walls, and knew that Gustavus was
advancing to relieve it. But unexpectedly it was assaulted in the most
daring and desperate manner, and all was lost. On a Sabbath morning, the
sudden toll of alarm bells, the roar of artillery, the roll of drums
beating to quarter, and the piercing cries of women and children,
mingled with the shouts and execrations of brutal and victorious
soldiers, announced the fate of Magdeburg. Forty thousand people--men,
women, and children--were inhumanly butchered, without necessity,
quarter, compassion, or remorse. So cold and hard is war! This was the
saddest massacre in the history of Germany, and one of the greatest
crimes that a successful general ever committed. History has no
language, and painting no colors to depict the horrors of that dreadful
scene; and the interval of more than two hundred years has not weakened
the impression of its horrors. The sack of Magdeburg stands out in the
annals of war like the siege of Tyre and the fall of Jerusalem.

But it roused the Protestants as from a trance. It united them, as the
massacre of St. Bartholomew united the Huguenots. They marched under the
standard of Gustavus with the same enthusiasm that the Huguenots showed
under Henry IV. at the battle of Ivry. There was now no limit to the
successes of the heroic Swede. The decisive battle of Leipsic, the
passage of the Lech, the defence of Nuremberg, and the great final
victory at Lutzen raised the military fame of Gustavus to a height
unknown since Hannibal led his armies over the Alps, or Caesar
encountered the patrician hosts at the battle of Pharsalia. No victories
were ever more brilliant than his; and they not only gave him a
deathless fame, but broke forever the Austrian fetters. His reputation
as a general was fairly earned. He ranks with Conde, Henry IV., Frederic
the Great, Marlborough, and Wellington; not, perhaps, with Alexander,
Caesar, and Napoleon,--those phenomena of military genius, the exalted
trio who shine amid the glories of the battlefield, as Homer, Dante, and
Shakspeare loom up in fame above other immortal poets.

In two years from the landing of Gustavus Adolphus on the island of
Ruden, near the southern extremity of the Baltic, he expelled a
triumphant enemy from Pomerania, traversed the banks of the Oder,
overran the Duchy of Mecklenburg, ascended the Elbe, delivered Saxony
from the armies of Tilly, crossed the Thuringian forest, entered
Frankfort in triumph, restored the Palatinate to its lawful sovereign,
took possession of some of the strongest fortresses on the Rhine,
overran Bavaria, occupied its capital, crossed the Danube, and then
returned to Saxony, to offer up his life on the plains of Lutzen. There,
on that memorable battlefield, where the descending sun of victory in
later times shed a delusive gleam on the eagles of Napoleon before his
irremediable ruin, did Gustavus encounter the great antagonist of German
liberties, whom the necessities of the Emperor had summoned from
retirement. Wallenstein once more commanded the imperial armies, but
only on conditions which made him virtually independent of his master.
He was generalissimo, with almost unlimited authority, so long as the
war should last; and the Emperor agreed to remove neither the general
himself nor his officers, and gave him principalities and spoils
indefinitely. He was the most powerful subject in Europe, and the
greatest general next to Gustavus. I read of no French or English
general who has been armed with such authority. Cromwell and Napoleon
took it; it was not conferred by legitimate and supreme power. Had
Wallenstein been successful to the end, he might have grasped the
imperial sceptre. Had Gustavus lived, he might have been the dictator
of Germany.

Impatient were both commanders to engage in the contest which each knew
would be decisive. Long did they wait for opportunities. At last, on the
16th of November, 1632, the defenders and the foes of German liberties
arrayed themselves for the great final encounter. The Protestants gained
the day, but Gustavus fell, exclaiming to the murderous soldiers who
demanded his name and quality, "I am the King of Sweden! And I seal this
day, with my blood, the liberties and religion of the German nation."

The death of Gustavus Adolphus in the hour of victory was a shock which
came upon the allies like the loss of the dearest friend. The victory
seemed too dearly purchased. The greatest protector which Protestantism
ever knew had perished, as he himself predicted. Pappenheim, the bravest
of the Austrian generals, also perished; and with him, the flower of
Wallenstein's army. Schiller thinks that Gustavus died fortunately for
his fame; that had he survived the decisive battle of Lutzen, he not
only could have dictated terms to the Emperor, but might have yielded to
the almost irresistible temptation of giving laws to the countries he
had emancipated. But he did not live to be tried. That rarest of all
trials was reserved alone for our Washington to pass through
triumphantly,--to set an example to all countries and ages of the
superiority of moral to intellectual excellence. Gustavus might have
triumphed like Washington, and he might have yielded like Cromwell. We
do not know. This only we know,--that he was not merely the great hero
of the Thirty Years' War, but one of the best men who ever wore a crown;
that he conferred on the Protestants and on civilization an immortal and
inestimable service, and that he is to be regarded as one of the great
benefactors of the world.

The Thirty Years' War loses its dramatic interest after the battle of
Lutzen. The final issue was settled, although the war was carried on
sixteen years longer. It was not till 1648 that the peace of Westphalia
was signed, which guaranteed the liberties of Germany, and established
the balance of power. That famous treaty has also been made the
foundation of all subsequent treaties between the European nations, and
created an era in modern history. It took place after the death of
Richelieu, when Mazarin ruled France in the name of Louis XIV., and
when Charles I. was in the hands of Cromwell.

With the death of Gustavus we also partially lose sight of Wallenstein.
He never afterwards gained victories commensurate with his reputation.
He remained, after the battle of Lutzen, unaccountably inactive in
Bohemia. But if his military fame was tarnished, his pride and power
remained. His military exactions became unendurable, and it is probable
he was a traitor. So unpopular did he become, and so suspicious was the
Emperor, who lost confidence in him, that he was assassinated by the
order of his sovereign. He was too formidable to be removed in any other
way. He probably deserved his fate. Although it was difficult to bring
this great culprit to justice, yet his death is a lesson to traitors.
"There are many ways," said Cicero, "in which a man may die,"--referring
to the august usurper of the Roman world.

I will not dwell on the sixteen remaining years of the Thirty Years'
War. It is too horrible a picture to paint. The desolation and misery
which overwhelmed Germany were most frightful and revolting. The war was
carried on without system or genius. "Expeditions were undertaken
apparently with no other view than to desolate hostile provinces, till
in the end provisions and winter quarters formed the principal object of
the summer campaigns." "Disease, famine, and want of discipline swept
away whole armies before they had seen an enemy." Soldiers deserted the
ranks, and became roving banditti. Law and justice entirely vanished
from the land. Germany, it is asserted by Mitchell, lost probably twelve
millions of people. Before the war, the population was sixteen millions;
at the close of the war, it had dwindled to four millions. The city of
Augsburg at one time had eighty thousand inhabitants; at the close of
the war, it had only eighteen thousand. "No less than thirty thousand
villages and hamlets were destroyed. Peaceful peasants were hunted for
mere sport, like the beasts of the forest. Citizens were nailed up and
fired at like targets. Women were collected into bands, driven like
slaves into camp, and exposed to indignities worse than death. The
fields were allowed to run waste, and forests sprung up and covered
entire districts which before the war had been under full cultivation."
Amid these scenes of misery and ruin, vices were more marked than
calamities. They were carried to the utmost pitch of vulgarity. Both
Austrian and Swedish generals were often so much intoxicated, for days
together, as to be incapable of service. Never was a war attended by so
many horrors. Never was crime more general and disgusting. So terrible
were the desolations, that it took Germany one hundred years to recover
from her losses. It never recovered the morality and religion which
existed in the time of Luther. That war retarded civilization in all the
countries where it raged. It was a moral and physical conflagration.

But there is a God in this world, and the evils were overruled. It is
certain that Protestantism was rescued from extermination on the
continent of Europe. It is clear also that a barrier was erected against
the aggressions of Austria. The Catholic and the Protestant religions
were left unmolested in the countries where they prevailed, and all
religious sects were tolerated. Religious toleration, since the Thirty
Years' War, has been the boast and glory of Germany.

We should feel a sickening melancholy if something for the ultimate good
of the world were not to come from such disasters as filled Germany with
grief and indignation for a whole generation; for the immediate effects
of the Thirty Years' War were more disastrous than those of any war I
have read of in the history of Europe since the fall of the Roman
Empire. In the civil wars of France and England, cities and villages
were generally spared. Civilization in those countries has scarcely ever
been retarded for more than a generation; but it was put back in Germany
for a century. Yet the enormous sacrifice of life and property would
seem to show the high value which Providence places on the great rights
of mankind, in comparison with material prosperity or the lives of men.
What is spiritual is permanent; what is material is transient. The
early history of Christianity is the history of martyrdom. Five millions
of Crusaders perished, that Europe might learn liberality of mind. It
took one hundred years of contention and two revolutions to secure
religious toleration in England. France passed through awful political
hurricanes, in order that feudal injustice might be removed. In like
manner, twelve millions of people perished in Germany, that despotism
might be rebuked.

Fain would we believe that what little was gained proved a savor of life
unto life; that seeds of progress were planted in that unhappy country
which after a lapse of one hundred years would germinate and develop a
higher civilization. What a great Protestant power has arisen in
northern Germany to awe and keep in check not Catholicism merely, but
such a hyperborean giant as Russia in its daring encroachments. But for
Prussia, Russia might have extended her conquests to the south as well
as to the west. But for the Thirty Years' War, no such empire as Prussia
would have been probable, or perhaps possible. But for that dreadful
contest, there might have been to-day only the Catholic religion among
the descendants of the Teutonic barbarians on the continent of Europe.
But for that war, the Austrian Empire might have retained a political
ascendency in Europe until the French Revolution; and such countries as
Sweden and Denmark might have been absorbed in it, as well as Saxony,
Brandenburg, and Hanover. What a terrible thing for Germany would have
been the unbroken and iron despotism of Austria, extending its Briarean
arms into every corner of Europe where the German language is spoken!
What a blow such a despotism would have been to science, literature, and
philosophy! Would Catholic Austria, supreme in Germany, have established
schools, or rewarded literary men? The Jesuits would have flourished and
triumphed from Pomerania to Wallachia; from the Baltic to the Danube.

It may have taken one hundred years for Germany to rally after such
miseries and disasters as I have had time only to allude to, and not
fully to describe; but see how gloriously that country has at last
arisen above all misfortunes! Why may we not predict a noble future for
so brave and honest a people,--the true descendants of those Teutonic
conquerers to whom God gave, nearly two thousand years ago, the
possessions and the lands of the ancient races who had not what the
Germans had,--a soul; the soul which hopes, and the soul which conquers?
The Thirty Years' War proved that liberty is not a dream, nor truth a
defeated power. Liberty cannot be extinguished among such peoples,
though "oceans may overwhelm it and mountains may press it down." It is
the boon of one hundred generations, the water of life distilled from
the tears of unnumbered millions,--the precious legacy of heroes and
martyrs, who in different nations and in different ages, inspired by the
contemplation of its sublime reality, counted not their lives dear unto
them, if by the sacrifice of life this priceless blessing could be
transmitted to posterity.


Hallenberg's History of Gustavus Adolphus; Fryxell's History of Sweden,
translated by Mary Howitt; Dreysen's Life of Gustavus Adolphus; S.R.
Gardiner's Thirty Years' War; Schiller's Thirty Years' War; Schiller's
Wallenstein, translated by Coleridge; Dr. Foster's Life of Wallenstein;
Colonel Mitchell's Life of Gustavus Adolphus; Lord F. Egerton's Life and
Letters of Wallenstein; Chapman's History of Gustavus Adolphus;
Biographie Universelle; Article in Encyclopaedia Britannica on Sweden;
R.C. Trench's Social Aspects of the Thirty Years' War; Heydenreich's
Life of Gustavus Adolphus.


A. D. 1585-1642.


Cardinal de Richelieu is an illustration of what can be done for the
prosperity and elevation of a country by a man whom we personally abhor,
and whose character is stained by glaring defects and vices. If there
was a statesman in French history who was pre-eminently unscrupulous,
selfish, tyrannical, and cruel, that statesman was the able and wily
priest who ruled France during the latter years of Louis XIII. And yet
it would be difficult to find a ruler who has rendered more signal
services to the state or to the monarch whom he served. He extricated
France from the perils of anarchy, and laid the foundation for the
grandeur of the monarchy under Louis XIV. It was his mission to create a
strong government, when only a strong government could save the kingdom
from disintegration; so that absolutism, much as we detest it, seems to
have been one of the needed forces of the seventeenth century. It was
needed in France, to restrain the rapacity and curtail the overgrown
power of feudal nobles, whose cabals and treasons were fatal to the
interests of law and order.

The assassination of Henry IV. was a great calamity. The government fell
into the hands of his widow, Marie de Medicis, a weak and frivolous
woman. Under her regency all kinds of evils accumulated. So many
conflicting interests and animosities existed that there was little
short of anarchy. There were not popular insurrections and rebellions,
for the people were ignorant, and were in bondage to their feudal
masters; but the kingdom was rent by the rivalries and intrigues of the
great nobles, who, no longer living in their isolated castles but in the
precincts of the court, fought duels in the streets, plundered the royal
treasury, robbed jewellers and coachmakers, paid no debts, and treated
the people as if they were dogs or cattle. They claimed all the
great offices of state, and all high commands in the army and
navy; sold justice, tampered with the law, quarrelled with the
parliaments,--indeed, were a turbulent, haughty, and powerful
aristocracy, who felt that they were above all law and all restraint.
They were not only engaged in perpetual intrigues, but even in
treasonable correspondence with the enemies of their country. They
disregarded the honor of the kingdom, and attempted to divide it into
principalities for their children. "The Guises wished to establish
themselves in Provence, the Montmorencies in Languedoc, the Longuevilles
in Picardy. The Duke of Epernon sought to retain the sovereignty of
Guienne, and the Duke of Vendome to secure the sovereignty of Brittany."
One wanted to be constable, another admiral, a third to be governor of a
province, in order to tyrannize and enrich themselves like Roman
proconsuls. Every outrage was shamelessly perpetrated by them with
impunity, because they were too powerful to be punished. They
assassinated their enemies, filled the cities with their armed
retainers, and made war even on the government; so that all central
power was a mockery. The Queen-regent was humiliated and made
contemptible, and was forced, in her turn and in self-defence, to
intrigues and cabals, and sought protection by setting the nobles up
against each other, and thus dividing their forces. Even the
parliaments, which were courts of law, were full of antiquated
prejudices, and sought only to secure their own privileges,--at one time
siding with the Queen-regent, and then with the factious nobles. The
Huguenots were the best people of the land; but they were troublesome,
since they possessed cities and fortresses, and erected an _imperium in
imperio._ In their synods and assemblies they usurped the attributes of
secular rulers, and discussed questions of peace and war. They entered
into formidable conspiracies, and fomented the troubles and
embarrassments of the government The abjuration of Henry IV. had thinned
their ranks and deprived them of court influence. No great leaders
remained, since they had been seduced by fashion. The Huguenots were a
disappointed and embittered party, hard to please, and hard to be
governed; full of fierce resentments, and soured by old recollections.
They had obtained religious liberty, but with this they were not
contented. Their spirit was not unlike that of the Jacobins in England
after the Stuarts were expelled from the throne. So all things combined
to produce a state of anarchy and discontent. Feudalism had done its
work. It was a good thing on the dissolution of the Roman Empire, when
society was resolved into its original elements,--when barbarism on the
one hand, and superstition on the other, made the Middle Ages funereal,
dismal, violent, despairing. But commerce, arts, and literature had
introduced a new era,--still unformed, a vast chaos of conflicting
forces, and yet redeemed by reviving intelligence and restless daring.
The one thing which society needed in that transition period was a
strong government in the hands of kings, to restore law and develop
national resources.

Now amid all these evils Richelieu grew up. Under the guise of levity
and pleasure and good-nature, he studied and comprehended all these
parties and factions, and hated them all. All alike were hostile to the
central power, which he saw was necessary to the preservation of law and
to the development of the resources of the country.

Moreover, he was ambitious of power himself, which he loved as Michael
Angelo loved art, and Palestrina loved music. Power was his
master-passion, and consumed all other passions; and he resolved to gain
it in any way he could,--unscrupulously, by flatteries, by duplicities,
by sycophancies, by tricks, by lies, even by services. That was his end.
He cared nothing for means. He was a politician.

The progress of his elevation is interesting, but hideous. Armand Jean
Duplessis was born in 1585, of a noble family of high rank. He was
designed for the army, but a bishopric falling to the gift of his
family, he was made a priest. He early distinguished himself in his
studies, for he was precocious and had great abilities. At twenty he was
doctor of the Sorbonne, and before he was twenty-one he received from
the Pope, Paul V., the emblems of spiritual power as a prelate of the
Church. But he was too young to be made a bishop, according to the
canons,--a difficulty, however, which he easily surmounted: he told a
lie to the Pope, and then begged for an absolution. He then attached
himself to the worthless favorite of the Queen-regent, Concini, one of
her countrymen; and through him to the Queen herself, Marie de Medicis,
who told him her secrets, which he betrayed when it suited his
interests. When Louis XIII. attained his majority, Richelieu paid his
court to De Luynes, who was then all-powerful with the King, and who
secured him a cardinal's hat; and when this miserable favorite
died,--this falconer, this keeper of birds, yet duke, peer, governor,
and minister,--Richelieu wound himself around the King, Louis XIII., the
most impotent of all the Bourbons, made himself necessary, and became
minister of foreign affairs; and his great rule began (1624).

During all these seventeen years of office-climbing, Richelieu was to
all appearance the most amiable man in France; everybody liked him, and
everybody trusted him. He was full of amenities, promises, bows, smiles,
and flatteries. He always advocated the popular side with reigning
favorites; courted all the great ladies; was seen in all the fashionable
salons; had no offensive opinions; was polite to everybody; was
non-committal; fond of games and spectacles; frivolous among fools,
learned among scholars; grave among functionaries, devout among
prelates; cunning as a fox, brave as a lion, supple as a dog; all things
to all men; an Alcibiades, a Jesuit; with no apparent animosities;
handsome, witty, brilliant; preacher, courtier, student; as full of
hypocrisy as an egg is of meat; with eyes wide open, and thoughts
disguised; all eyes and no heart; reserved or communicative as it suited
his purpose. This was that arch-intriguer who was seeking all the while,
not the sceptre of the King, but the power of the King. Should you say
that this non-committal, agreeable, and amiable politician--who
quarrelled with nobody, and revealed nothing to anybody; who had cheated
all parties by turns--was the man to save France, to extricate his
country from all the evils to which I have alluded, to build up a great
throne (even while he who sat upon it was utterly contemptible) and make
that throne the first in Europe, and to establish absolutism as one of
the needed forces of the seventeenth century?

Yet so it was; and his work was all the more difficult when the
character of the King is considered. Louis XIII. was a different kind of
man from his father Henry IV. and his grandson Louis XIV. He had no
striking characteristics but feebleness and timidity and love of ignoble
pleasures. He had no ambitions or powerful passions; was feeble and
sickly from a child,--ruled at one time by his mother, and then by a
falconer; and apparently taking but little interest in affairs of state.

But if it was difficult to gain ascendency over such a frivolous and
inglorious Sardanapalus, it was easy to retain it when this ascendency
was once acquired. For Richelieu made him comprehend the dangers which
menaced his life and his throne; that some very able man must be
intrusted with supreme delegated power, who would rule for the benefit
of him he served,--a servant, and yet a master; like Metternich in
Austria, after the wars of Napoleon,--a man whose business and aim were
to exalt absolutism on a throne. Moreover, he so complicated public
affairs that his services were indispensable. Nobody could fill
his place.

Also, it must be remembered that the King was isolated, and without
counsellors whom he could trust. After the death of De Luynes he had no
bosom friend. He was surrounded with perplexities and secret enemies.
His mother, who had been regent, defied his authority; his brothers
sought to wear his crown; the nobles conspired against his throne; the
Protestants threatened another civil war; the parliaments thought only
of retaining their privileges; the finances were disordered; the
treasures which Henry IV. had accumulated had been squandered in bribing
the great nobles; foreign enemies had invaded the soil of France; evils
and dangers were accumulating on every side, with such terrific force as
to jeopardize the very existence of the monarchy; and one necessity
became apparent, even to the weak mind of the King,--that he must
delegate his power to some able man, who, though he might rule
unscrupulously and tyrannically, would yet be faithful to the crown, and
establish the central power for the benefit of his heirs and the welfare
of the state.

Now Richelieu was just the man he needed, just such a man as the times
required,--a man raised up to do important work, like Cromwell in
England, like Bismarck in Prussia, like Cavour in Italy: doubtless a
great hypocrite, yet sincere in the conviction that a strong government
was the great necessity of his country; a great scoundrel, yet a
patriotic and wise statesman, who loved his country with the ardor of a
Mirabeau, while nobody loved him. Besides, he loved absolutism, both
because he was by nature a tyrant, and because he was a member of the
Roman Catholic hierarchy. He called to mind old Rome under the Caesars,
and mediaeval Rome under the popes, and what a central authority had
effected for civilization in times of anarchy, and in times of darkness
and superstition; and the King to him was a sort of vicegerent of divine
power, clothed in authority based on divine right,--the idea of kings in
the Middle Ages. The state was his, to be managed as a man manages his
farm,--as a South Carolinian once managed his slaves. The idea that
political power properly emanates from the people,--the idea of Rousseau
and Jefferson,--never once occurred to him; nor even political power in
the hands of aristocrats, fettered by a constitution and amenable to the
nation. A constitutional monarchy existed nowhere, except perhaps in
England. Unrestricted and absolute power in the hands of a king was the
only government he believed in. The king might be feeble, in which case
he could delegate his power to ministers; or he might be imbecile, in
which case he might be virtually dethroned; but his royal rights were
sacred, his authority incontestable, and consecrated by all usage and

Yet while Richelieu would uphold the authority of the crown as supreme
and absolute, he would not destroy the prestige of the aristocracy; for
he was a nobleman himself,--he belonged to their class. He believed in
caste, in privileges, in monopolies; therefore he would not annul either
rank or honor. The nobles were welcome to retain their stars and orders
and ribbons and heraldic distinctions, even their parks and palaces and
falcons and hounds. They were a favored class, that feudalism had
introduced and ages had indorsed; but even they must be subservient to
the crown, from which their honors emanated, and hence to order and law,
of which the king was the keeper. They must be subjects of the
government, as well as allies and supporters. The government was royal,
not aristocratic. The privileges of the nobility were social rather
than political, although the great offices of state were intrusted to
them as a favor, not as a right,--as simply servants of a royal master,
whose interests they were required to defend. Some of them were allied
by blood with the sovereign, and received marks of his special favor;
but their authority was derived from him.

Richelieu was not unpatriotic. He wished to see France powerful, united,
and prosperous; but powerful as a monarchy, united under a king, and
prosperous for the benefit of the privileged orders,--not for the
plebeian people, who toiled for supercilious masters. The people were of
no account politically; were as unimportant as slaves,--to be protected
in life and property, that they might thrive for the benefit of those
who ruled them.

So when Richelieu became prime minister, and felt secure in his
seat,--knowing how necessary to the King his services were,--he laid
aside his amiable manners as a politician, and determined as a statesman
to carry out remorselessly and rigidly his plans for the exaltation of
the monarchy. And the moment he spoke at the council-board his genius
predominated; all saw that a great power had arisen, that he was a
master, and would be obeyed, and would execute his plans with no
sentimentalities, but coldly, fixedly, like a man of blood and iron,
indifferent to all obstacles. He was a man who could rule, and
therefore, on Carlyle's theory, a man who ought to rule, because he
was strong.

There is something imposing, I grant, in this executive strength; it
does not make a man interesting, but it makes him feared. Every
ruler,--in fact every man intrusted with executive power, especially in
stormy times,--should be resolute, unflinching, with a will dominating
over everything, with courage, pluck, backbone, be he king or prime
minister, or the superintendent of a railway, or director of a lunatic
asylum, or president of a college. No matter whether the sphere be large
or small, the administration of power requires energy, will, promptness
of action, without favor and without fear. And if such a person rules
well he will be respected; but if he rules unwisely,--if capricious,
unjust, cruel, vindictive,--he may be borne for a while, until patience
is exhausted and indignation becomes terrible: a passion of vengeance,
like that which overthrew Strafford. Wise tyrants, like Peter and
Frederic the Great, will be endured, from their devotion to public
interests; but unwise tyrants, ruling for self-interest or pleasure,
will be hurled from power, or assassinated like Nero or Commodus, as the
only way to get rid of the miseries they inflict.

Now of the class of wise and enlightened tyrants was Richelieu. His
greatness was in his will, sagacity, watchfulness, and devotion to
public affairs. Factions could not oust him, because he was strong; the
King would not part with him, because he was faithful; posterity will
not curse him, because he laid the foundation of the political greatness
of his country.

I do not praise his system of government. On abstract principles I feel
that it is against the liberties of mankind; nor is it in accordance
with the progress of government in our modern times. All the successive
changes which reforms and revolutions have wrought have been towards
representative and constitutional governments,--as in England and France
in the nineteenth century. Absolutism or Caesarism is only adapted to
people in primitive or anarchical states of society,--as in old Rome, or
Rome under the popes. It is at the best a necessary tyranny, made so by
the disorders and evils of life. It can be commended only when men are
worse than governments; when they are to be coerced like wild beasts, or
lunatics, or scoundrels. When there is universal plunder, lying,
cheating, and murdering; when laws are a mockery, and when demagogues
reign; when all public interests are scandalously sacrificed for private
emolument,--then absolutism may for a time be necessary; but only for a
time, unless we assume that men can never govern themselves.

In that state of society into which France was plunged during the
regency of Marie de Medicis, and at which I have glanced, absolutism
was perhaps a needed force. Then Richelieu, its great modern
representative, arose,--a model statesman in the eyes of Peter
the Great.

But he was not to reign, and trample all other powers beneath his feet,
without a memorable struggle. Three great forces were arrayed against
him. These were the Huguenots, the nobles, and the parliaments,--the
Protestant, the feudal, and the legal elements of society in France. The
people,--at least the peasantry,--did not rise up against him; they were
powerless and too unenlightened. The priests sustained him, and the
common people acquiesced in his rigid rule, for he established law
and order.

He began his labors in behalf of absolutism by suppressing the
Huguenots. That was the only political party which was urgent for its
rights. They were an intelligent party of tradesmen and small farmers;
they were plebeian, but conscientious and aspiring. They were not
contented alone to worship God according to the charter which Henry IV.
had granted, but they sought political power; and they were so
unfortunate as to be guilty of cabals and intrigues inconsistent with a
central power. They were factious, and were not disposed to submit to
legitimate authority. They had declined in numbers and influence; they
had even degenerated in religious life; but they were still powerful
and dangerous foes. They had retreated to their strong fortress of La
Rochelle, resolved, if attacked, to fight once again the whole power of
the monarchy. They put themselves in a false position; they wanted more
than the Edict of Nantes had guaranteed.

Unfortunately for them they had no leaders worthy to marshal their
forces. Fashion and the influence of the court had seduced their men of
rank; nor had they the enthusiasm which had secured victory at Ivry. Nor
could they contend openly in the field; they were obliged to intrench
themselves in an impregnable fortress: there they deemed they could defy
their enemy. They even invoked the aid of England, and thus introduced
foreign enemies on the soil of France, which was high-treason. They put
themselves in the attitude of rebels against the government; and so long
as English ships, with supplies, could go in and out of their harbor,
they could not be conquered. Richelieu, clad in mail, a warrior-priest,
surveyed with disgust their strong defences and their open harbor. His
artillery was of no use, nor his lines of circumvallation. So he put his
brain in motion, and studied Quintus Curtius. He remembered what
Alexander did at the siege of Tyre; he constructed a vast dyke of stone
and timber and iron across the harbor, in some places twelve hundred
feet deep, and thus cut off all egress and ingress. The English under
Buckingham departed, unable to render further assistance. The capture
then was only a work of time; genius had hemmed the city in, and famine
soon did the rest. Cats, dogs, and vermin became luxuries. The starving
women beseeched the inexorable enemy for permission to retire: they
remembered the mercy that Henry IV. had shown at the siege of Paris. But
war in the hands of masters has no favors to grant; conquerors have no
tears. The Huguenots, as rebels, had no hope but in unconditional
submission. They yielded it reluctantly, but not until famine had done
its work. And they never raised their heads again; their spirit was
broken. They were conquered, and at the mercy of the crown; destined in
the next reign to be cruelly and most wantonly persecuted; hunted as
heretics by dragonnades and executioners, at the bidding of Louis XIV.,
until four hundred thousand were executed or driven from the kingdom.

But Richelieu was not such a bigot as Louis XIV.; he was a statesman,
and took enlightened views of the welfare of the country. Therefore he
contented himself with destroying the fortifications of La Rochelle,
filling up its ditches, and changing its government. He continued, in a
modified form, the religious privileges conceded by the Edict of Nantes;
but he kept a strict watch, humiliated the body by withholding civil
equalities and offices in the army and navy, treating with disdain their
ministers, and taking away their social rank, so that they became
plebeian and unimportant. He pursued the same course that the English
government adopted in reference to Dissenters in the eighteenth century,
when they were excluded from Oxford and Cambridge and church
burial-grounds. So that Protestantism in France, after the fall of La
Rochelle, never asserted its dignity, in spite of Bibles, consistories,
and schools. Degraded at court, deprived of the great offices of the
state, despised, rejected, and persecuted, it languished and declined.

Having subdued the Huguenots, Richelieu turned his attention to the
nobles,--the most worthless, arrogant, and powerful of all the nobility
of Europe; men who made royalty a mockery and law a name. I have alluded
to their intrigues, ambition, and insolence. It was necessary that they
should be humiliated, decimated, and punished, if central power was to
be respected. So he cut off their towering heads, exiled and imprisoned
them whenever they violated the laws, or threatened the security of the
throne or the peace of the realm. As individuals they hated him, and
conspired against his rule. Had they combined, they would have been more
powerful than he; but they were too quarrelsome, envious, and
short-sighted to combine.

The person who hated Richelieu most fiercely and bitterly was the
Queen-mother,--widow of Henry IV., regent during the minority of Louis
XIII. And no wonder, for he had cheated her and betrayed her. She was a
very formidable enemy, having a great ascendency over the mind of her
son the King; and once, it is said, she had so powerfully wrought upon
him by her envenomed sarcasms, in the palace of the Luxembourg where she
lived in royal state, that the King had actually taken the parchment in
his hand to sign the disgrace of his minister. But he was watched by an
eye that never slept; Richelieu suddenly appearing, at the critical
moment, from behind the tapestries where he had concealed himself,
fronted and defied his enemy. The King, bewildered, had not nerve enough

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