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The Life of Marie de Medicis, Vol. 1 (of 3) by Julia Pardoe

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far from feeling any inclination to share his throne with the daughter
of Charles IX's mistress; and that, despite the infatuation under which
he laboured, he already estimated at its true price the value of
Henrietta's affection. Nevertheless, the wily beauty remained for some
short time proof against the representations of the royal envoy; nor was
it until the equally wily courtier hinted that Mademoiselle d'Entragues
would do well to reflect ere she declined the overtures of which he was
the bearer, as there was reason to believe that the King had, on a
recent visit to the widowed Queen Louise[67] at Chenonceaux, become
enamoured of Mademoiselle la Bourdaisiere, one of her maids of
honour[68], that the startled beauty, who had deemed herself secure of
her royal conquest, was induced to affix a price to the concession which
she was called upon to make, and that M. de Lude returned bearing her
_ultimatum_ to the King.[69]

This _ultimatum_ amounted to no less than a hundred thousand crowns;[70]
and, setting aside the voluntary degradation of the lady--a degradation
which would appear to have been more than sufficient to disgust any man
of delicacy who sought to be loved for his own sake--it was a demand
which even startled the inconsiderate monarch himself, although he had
not sufficient self-command to meet it with the contempt that it was
calculated to excite. Well had it been, alike for himself and for the
nation generally, had he suffered his better judgment on this occasion
to assume the ascendant, and misdoubted, as he well might, the tears and
protestations of so interested a person; particularly, when he could not
fail to remember that he had been deceived even by Gabrielle d'Estrees,
whom he had overwhelmed with riches and honours, and who had voluntarily
given herself to him when he was young and handsome; whereas he was now
in the decline of life, and was suing for the love of one so much his
junior. Unfortunately, however, reason waged a most unequal warfare with
passion in the breast of the French sovereign; and voluntarily
overlooking alike the enormity of the demand, and the circumstances
under which it was made, he at once despatched an order to the
finance-minister to supply the required sum. Sully had no alternative
save obedience; he did not even venture upon expostulation; but he did
better. When admitted to the royal closet, he alluded in general terms
to the extreme difficulty which he anticipated in raising the required
amount of four millions for the renewal of the Swiss alliance; and then,
approaching the table beside which the King was seated, he proceeded
slowly and ostentatiously to count the hundred thousand crowns destined
to satisfy the cupidity of Mademoiselle d'Entragues. He had been careful
to cause the whole amount to be delivered in silver; and it was not,
therefore, without an emotion which he failed to conceal, that Henry saw
the numerous piles of money which gradually rose before him and
overspread the table.

Nevertheless, although he could not control an exclamation of
astonishment, he made no effort to retrieve his error; but, after the
departure of M. de Sully, placed the required amount in the hands of the
Comte de Lude, who hastened to transfer it to those of the frail beauty.
It was not until after the receipt of this enormous present that the
Marquis d'Entragues and his step-son[71] affected to suspect the design
of the King, and upbraided M. de Lude with the part which he had acted,
desiring him never again to enter a house which he sought only to
dishonour; an accusation which, from the lips of the husband of Marie
Touchet, was a mere epigram. He, however, followed up this demonstration
by removing his daughter from Malesherbes to Marcoussis, although with
what intention it is difficult to determine, as the King at once
proceeded thither, and at once obtained an interview.

Little accustomed to indulge in a prodigality so reckless, Henry had
flattered himself that the affair was concluded; but such was by no
means the intention of the young lady and her family. Henriette, indeed,
received her royal lover with the most exaggerated assurances of
affection and gratitude; but she nevertheless persisted in declaring
that she was so closely watched as to be no longer mistress of her own
actions, and so intimidated by the threats of her father that she dared
not act in opposition to his will. In vain did the King remonstrate,
argue, and upbraid; the lady remained firm, affecting to bewail the
state of coercion in which she was kept, and entreating Henry to exert
his influence to overcome the repugnance of her family to their mutual
happiness. To his anger she opposed her tears; to his resentment, her
fascinations; and when at length she discovered that the royal patience
was rapidly failing, although her power over his feelings remained
unshaken, she ventured upon the last bold effort of her ambition, by
protesting to the infatuated sovereign that her father had remained deaf
to all her entreaties, and that the only concession which she could
induce him to make was one which she had not courage to communicate to
his Majesty. As she had, of course, anticipated, Henry at once desired
her to inform him of the nature of the fresh demand which was to be made
upon his tenderness; when, with well-acted reluctance, Mademoiselle
d'Entragues repeated a conversation that she had held with the Marquis,
at the close of which he had assured her that he would never consent to
see her the mistress of the King until she had received a written
promise of marriage under the royal hand, provided she became, within a
year, the mother of a son.

"In vain, Sire," she pursued hurriedly, as she perceived a cloud gather
upon the brow of the monarch--"in vain did I seek to overcome the
scruples of my parents, and represent to them the utter inutility of
such a document; they declared that they sought only to preserve the
honour of their house. And you well know, Sire," she continued with an
appealing smile, "that, as I ventured to remind them, your word is of
equal value with your signature, as no mere subject could dare to summon
a great king like yourself to perform any promise--you, who have fifty
thousand men at your command to enforce your will! But all my reasoning
was vain. Upon this point they are firm. Thus then, since there is no
other hope, and that they insist upon this empty form, why should you
not indulge their whim, when it cannot involve the slightest
consequence? If you love as I do, can you hesitate to comply with their
desire? Name what conditions you please on your side, and I am ready to
accept them--too happy to obey your slightest wish."

Suffice it that the modern Delilah triumphed, and that the King was
induced to promise the required document;[72] a weakness rendered the
less excusable, if indeed, as Sully broadly asserts: "Henry was not so
blind but that he saw clearly how this woman sought to deceive him. I
say nothing of the reasons which he also had to believe her to be
anything rather than a vestal; nor of the state intrigues of which her
father, her mother, her brother, and herself had been convicted, and
which had drawn down upon all the family an order to leave Paris, which
I had quite recently signified to them in the name of his Majesty." [73]

As it is difficult to decide which of the two the Duke sought in his
_Memoirs_ to praise the most unsparingly, the sovereign or himself, the
epithet of "this weak Prince," which he applies to Henry on the present
occasion, proves the full force of his annoyance. He, moreover, gives a
very detailed account of an interview which took place between them upon
the subject of the document in question; even declaring that he tore it
up when his royal master placed it in his hands; and upon being asked by
the King if he were mad, had replied by saying: "Would to God that I
were the only madman in France!" [74] As, however, I do not find the
same anecdote recorded elsewhere by any contemporaneous authority, I
will not delay the narrative by inserting it at length; and the rather
as, although from the influence subsequently exercised over the fortunes
of Marie de Medicis by the frail favourite I have already been compelled
to dwell thus long upon her history, it is one which I am naturally
anxious to abridge as much as possible. I shall therefore only add that
the same biographer goes on to state that the contract which he had
destroyed was rewritten by the King himself, who within an hour
afterwards was on horseback and on his way to Malesherbes, where he
sojourned two days. It is, of course, impossible to decide whether Henry
had ever seriously contemplated the fulfilment of so degrading an
engagement; but it is certain that only a few months subsequently he
presented to Mademoiselle d'Entragues the estate of Verneuil, and that
thenceforward she assumed the title of Marquise, coupled with the name
of her new possession.[75]


[2] Henri de Lorraine, Duc de Guise, was the brother of Charles, Duc de
Mayenne, and of Louis, Cardinal de Guise. He was the chief of the
League, and excited a popular revolt on the day of the Barricades, in
the hope of possessing himself of the crown. Henri III caused him to be
assassinated at Blois, in the year 1588. He was distinguished as _le
Balafre_ by the people, in consequence of the deep scar of a wound
across the face by which he was disfigured.

[3] Catherine was the second daughter of Francois de Cleves, Duc de
Nevers, and of Marguerite de Bourbon-Vendome, the aunt of Henri IV. Her
dower consisted of the county of Eu, in Normandy. She was twice married;
first to Antoine de Croi, Prince de Portien, by whom she had no issue;
and secondly, to Henri de Lorraine, Duc de Guise. She died in 1633, at
the age of eighty-five years.

[4] She heard three masses every day, one high and two low ones, and
took the holy communion each week on the Thursdays, Fridays, and
Sundays.--_Letters of Etienne Pasquier_, book xxii. letter v. col. 666,
of the folio edition.

[5] By some extraordinary presentiment they always imagined that they
saw a King of France in the Prince of Navarre, even at a time when the
greatest obstacles were opposed to such an idea.--Dreux du Radier,
_Memoires des Reines et Regentes de France_, vol. v. p. 130. See also
_Memoires de Sully_, vol. i. pp. 60-67.

[6] Dreux du Radier, vol. v. p. 182.

[7] _Hist. des Reines et Regentes de France_, vol. ii. p. 4.

[8] Henri de Bourbon, Prince de Conde, first Prince of the Blood, and
Grand Master of France, was born in 1552, and succeeded his father, the
Comte Louis, who was killed at the battle of Jarnac, on the 13th of May
1569, in the command of the Protestant party, conjointly with the King
of Navarre (Henri IV). He made a levy of foreign troops in 1575,
distinguished himself at Coutras in 1587, and died by poison the
following year at St. Jean d'Angely.

[9] Ambroise Pare was born at Laval (Mayenne), in 1509. He commenced his
public career as surgeon of the infantry-general Rene de Montejean; and
on his return to France, having taken his degrees at the College of St.
Edme, he was elected Provost of the Corporation of Surgeons. In 1552,
Henri II gave him the appointment of body-surgeon to the King, a post
which he continued to fill under Francis II, Charles IX, and Henri III.
Charles IX, whose life he saved when he had nearly fallen a victim to
the want of skill of his physician Portail, who, in opening a vein, had
inflicted a deep and dangerous wound in his arm, repaid the benefit by
concealing him in his own chamber during the massacre of St.
Bartholomew. Pare was a zealous Calvinist. He died in 1590. His
published works consist of one folio volume, divided into
twenty-eight books.

[10] Gillone Goyon, dite de Matignon, demoiselle de Torigni, was the
daughter of Jacques de Matignon, Marshal of France, and of Francoise de
Daillon, who was subsequently married to Pierre de Harcourt, Seigneur
de Beuvron.

[11] Levi Alvares, _Hist. Clas. des Reines et Regentes de France_, p.

[12] Dupleix, _Hist. de Louis XIII_, p. 53.

[13] Sully, _Memoires_, vol. i. p. 45.

[14] Catherine de Bourbon, Princesse de Navarre, and sister of Henri IV,
was born at Paris in 1558. After his accession to the throne of France,
Henry gave her in marriage to Henri de Lorraine, Duc de Bar. She refused
to change her religion, even when her brother had done so, and died,
without issue, in 1604, at Nancy.

[15] _Memoires de Marguerite_, pp. 176, 177.

[16] Anne, Duc de Joyeuse, Admiral and Peer of France, first gentleman
of the bedchamber, and Governor of Normandy, was born in 1561. He was
one of the _mignons_ of Henri III, who, in 1582, gave him in marriage
Marguerite de Lorraine, the sister of the Queen Louise de Vaudemont. He
commanded the troops in Guienne against the Huguenots, where he
exercised the greatest cruelties; and having been defeated at the battle
of Coutras in 1587, he was put to death by the conquerors.

[17] This child, called by Bassompierre _le Pere Archange_, and by
Dupleix _le Pere Ange_, was the son of Jacques de Harlay de Chanvallon,
known at Court as "the handsome Chanvallon," and was the individual who,
as the confessor of the Marquise de Verneuil, became one of the most
active agents in the conspiracy which was formed against Henri IV and
the French Princes.

[18] Dreux du Radier, vol. v. p. 176.

[19] Mezeray, vol. iii. p. 546. Varillas, _Histoire de Henri III_, book

[20] D'Aubigny, _Hist_. vol. ii. book v. ch. iii. (1583). _Confession de
Sancy_, ch. vii. p. 447. Duplessis-Mornay.

[21] Duplessis-Mornay, _Mem_. p. 203.

[22] Jacques Govon de Matignon, Prince de Mortagne, was the
representative of a family of Brittany which traced its descent from the
thirteenth century, and had been established in Normandy towards the
middle of the fifteenth. Born at Lonray in 1526, he was appointed
Lieutenant-General of Normandy in 1559, where he made himself
conspicuous by his persecution of the Huguenots. Henri III recompensed
his services, in 1579, by the _baton_ of a marechal, and the collar of
his Order. He subsequently became Commander-in-Chief of the army in
Picardy, then Lieutenant-General of Guienne, and finally, Governor of
that province. He died in 1597.

[23] Levi Alvares, p. 187.

[24] Governor of Auvergne.

[25] The fortress of Usson, which had been a state prison under Louis
XI, was demolished by Louis XIII, in 1634.

[26] Brantome, _Dames Illustres, Marguerite de France, Reine de
Navarre_, Dis. v. p. 275.

[27] "There are three things," Henri IV was wont to say, "that the world
will not believe, and yet they are certainly true: that the Queen of
England (Elizabeth) died a maid; that the Archduke (Albert, Cardinal and
Archduke of Austria) is a great captain; and that the King of France is
a very good Catholic."--L'Etoile, _Journ. de Henri IV_, vol. i. p. 233.

[28] Diane d'Andouins, Vicomtesse de Louvigni, dame de l'Escun, was the
only daughter of Paul, Vicomte de Louvigni, Seigneur de l'Escun, and of
Marguerite de Cauna. While yet a mere girl, she became the wife of
Philibert de Grammont, Comte de Guiche, Governor of Bayonne, and
Seneschal of Bearn. The passion of Henri IV for this lady was so great
that he declared his intention of obtaining a divorce from Marguerite de
Valois, for the purpose of making her his wife; a project from which he
was dissuaded by D'Aubigny, who represented that the contempt which
could not fail to be felt by the French for a monarch who had degraded
himself by an alliance with his mistress, would inevitably deprive him
of the throne in the event of the death of Henri III and the Duc

[29] Gabrielle d'Estrees was the daughter of Antoine d'Estrees, fourth
of the name, Governor, Seneschal, and first Baron of Boulonnois, Vicomte
de Soissons and Bersy, Marquis de Coeuvres, Knight of the Orders of the
King, Governor of La Fere, Paris, and the Isle of France; and of
Francoise Babou, second daughter of Jean, Seigneur de la Bourdaisiere,
and of Francoise Robertet. She married at an early age, by the desire of
her father, who was anxious to protect her from the assiduities of the
King, Nicolas d'Armeval, Seigneur de Liancourt, who was, alike in birth,
in person, and in fortune, unworthy of her hand. This ill-assorted union
produced the very result which it was intended to avert, for Henry found
means to separate the young couple immediately after their marriage, and
to attach Gabrielle to the Court, where she soon became the declared
favourite. On the birth of her first child (Cesar, Duc de Vendome),
Madame de Liancourt abandoned the name of her husband, from whom she
obtained a divorce, and assumed that of Marquise de Monceaux, which she
derived from an estate presented to her on that occasion by the King;
and on the legitimation of her son in January 1595, she already aspired
to the throne, and formed a party, headed by M. de Sillery, by whom her
pretensions were encouraged. She was subsequently created Duchesse de
Beaufort, and became the mother of Catherine-Henriette, married to the
Duc d'Elboeuf, and of Alexandre de Vendome, Grand Prior of France, who
were likewise legitimated. She died in childbirth, but not without
suspicion of poison, on Easter Eve, in the year 1599.

[30] Henri de la Tour, Vicomte de Turenne, Duc de Bouillon, Peer and
Marshal of France.

[31] Theodore Agrippa d'Aubigny was the son of Jean d'Aubigny, Seigneur
de Brie, in Xaintonge, and of Catherine de Lestang, and was born on the
8th of February 1550. At the age of six years he read with equal
facility the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew languages; and eighteen months
afterwards translated the _Crito_ of Plato. The persecutions of the
Huguenots, which he witnessed in his early youth, and the solemn
injunctions of his father to revenge their wrongs, rendered him one of
the most zealous and uncompromising reformers under Henri IV. He died at
Geneva on the 20th of April 1630, aged eighty years, and was buried in
the cloisters of St. Pierre. D'Aubigny left behind him not only his own
memoirs, which are admirably and truthfully written, but also the biting
satire known as the _Aventures du Baron de Foeneste_, and the still more
celebrated _Confession de Sancy_.

[32] Isabella Clara Eugenia, Infanta of Spain, was the second daughter
of Philip II. She was the Gouvernante of the Low Countries; and although
no longer either young or handsome, she possessed an extraordinary
influence over her royal father, who was tenderly attached to her.

[33] Arabella Stuart, daughter of Charles, Earl of Lennox, the grandson
of Margaret of Scotland, sister to Henry VIII.

[34] Isabeau de Baviere, Queen of Charles VI.

[35] Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange, second son of William, and of
Anne, the daughter of Maurice, Elector of Saxony.

[36] Marie de Medicis was the daughter of Francis, Grand Duke of
Tuscany, and of Jane, Archduchess of Austria and Queen of Hungary,
daughter of the Emperor Ferdinand.

[37] Louise-Marguerite de Lorraine was the daughter of Henri, Duc de
Guise, surnamed _le Balafre_, and of Catherine of Cleves, subsequently
Duchesse de Nemours. She was celebrated alike for her extreme beauty,
her brilliant wit, and her great intellect. She wrote admirably for that
age, and was the author of the _Histoire des Amours du Grand Alcandre_,
and of some _Court Chronicles_, which she published under the patronymic
of Dupilaust. Mademoiselle de Guise married Francois, Prince de Conti,
son of the celebrated Louis, Prince de Conde, who was killed at Jarnac.

[38] Catherine de Lorraine, daughter of Charles, Duc de Mayenne, and of
Henriette de Savoie-Villars, who became in February 1599 the wife of
Charles de Gonzague, Duc de Nevers, and subsequently Duke of Mantua. She
died on the 8th of March 1618, at the age of thirty-three years; and was
consequently, at the period referred to in the text, only seventeen
years old.

[39] Anne, daughter and heiress of Charles, last Duc d'Aumale, by whom
the duchy was transferred to the house of Savoy.

[40] Mademoiselle de Longueville was the sister of Henri d'Orleans,
first Duc de Longueville.

[41] Catherine de Rohan, second daughter of Rene II, Vicomte de Rohan,
and of Catherine, the daughter and heiress of Jean de Parthenay,
Seigneur de Soubise. When she had subsequently become the wife of the
Duc de Deux-Ponts, Henry IV was so enamoured of her as to make
dishonourable proposals, to which she replied by the memorable answer:
"I am too poor, Sire, to be your wife, and too well-born to become your

[42] Diane de Luxembourg, who, in 1600-1, gave her hand to Louis de
Ploesqueler, Comte de Kerman, in Brittany.

[43] Mademoiselle de Guemenee was the daughter of Louis de Rohan, Prince
de Guemenee, first Duc de Montbazon.

[44] Sully, _Mem_. vol. iii. pp. 162-174.

[45] Denys de Marquemont, Archbishop of Lyons, and subsequently cardinal
(1626). He did not, however, long enjoy this dignity, to obtain which he
had exerted all his energies, as he died at the close of the same year.
He was a truckling politician, and an ambitious priest.

[46] Arnaud d'Ossat was born in 1536 at Cassagnaberre, a small village
of Armagnac, near Auch. His parents lived in great indigence during his
infancy, and at nine years of age he became an orphan, totally
destitute. He was placed as an attendant about the person of a young
gentleman of family, whose studies he shared with such success that,
from the fellow-student of his patron, he became his tutor. After some
time he accompanied his employer to Paris, where by persevering industry
he completed his education, and was enabled to give lessons in
philosophy and rhetoric. He then proceeded to Bourges, where he studied
legal jurisprudence under the famous Cujas. Paul de Foix, Archbishop of
Toulouse, when about to proceed as ambassador to Rome, engaged him as
his secretary; and while there, he embraced the ecclesiastical
profession, and rendered himself perfectly conversant with the whole
policy of the Papal Court. Henri III bestowed upon him the Abbey of
Notre-Dame de Varennes, but, as his claim was contested, he immediately
resigned it. Subsequently he was raised to the bishopric of Rennes, was
created a cardinal in 1598, and some time afterwards was appointed to
the see of Bayeux. His untiring devotion to the interests of France was
ultimately recognized by his elevation to the dignity of minister
under Henri IV.

[47] Jacques Davy Duperron was born at Berne in 1556, and being learned
in mathematics, Greek, Hebrew, and philosophy, he became a professor of
those sciences in Paris, where he obtained the appointment of reader to
Henri III. Having embraced the ecclesiastical profession, he received
from Henri IV (in 1591) the bishopric of Evreux, as a recompense for his
devotion to the interests of Gabrielle d'Estrees. It was Duperron who
obtained from the Pope the removal of the interdict fulminated against
France. He ultimately became a cardinal, and Archbishop of Sens, and
died in 1606.

[48] Henri de Luxembourg, Duc de Piney, was the descendant of the
celebrated Comte de Saint-Pol, and that branch of the family became
extinct in his person. He died in 1616.

[49] Nicolas Brulart, Seigneur de Sillery, was the elder son of Pierre
Brulart, president of the Court of Requests at Paris. He obtained the
office of court-councillor in 1573, and subsequently that of master of
the Court of Requests. Henry IV, after his accession to the throne of
France, appointed him ambassador to Switzerland; and on his return from
that country, made him sixth president, that dignity having become
vacant by the death of Jean Le Maitre. In 1598 he was one of the
deputies by whom the peace of Vervins was concluded; and from thence he
proceeded to Brussels with the Duc de Biron, to be present when the
Archduke swore to the observance of the treaty. He next visited Italy as
ambassador extraordinary to the Pope, where he negotiated the marriage
of the King with Marie de Medicis. In 1604 Henri IV created in his
favour the office of keeper of the seals of France; and finally, on the
death of the Chancelier de Bellievre, he became his successor.

[50] Sully, _Mem_. vol. iii. pp. 189, 190.

[51] "Comme s'il fut revenu d'extase," says Perefixe, vol. ii. p. 300.

[52] In April 1599.

[53] Bernard de Montfaucon. _Les Monumens de la Monarchie Francaise_,
Paris, 1733, in folio, vol. v. p. 396.

[54] Horace del-Monte.

[55] Mezeray, vol. x. p. 123.

[56] Maintenon, _Mem_., Amsterdam, 1756, vol. ii. p. 115.

[57] Roger de St. Larry, Duc de Bellegarde, was the favourite of three
successive sovereigns. Henri III appointed him master of his wardrobe,
and subsequently first gentleman of the chamber, and grand equerry.
Henri IV made him a knight of his Orders in 1595; and ultimately Louis
XIII continued to him an equal amount of favour. The preservation of
Quilleboeuf, which he defended with great gallantry during the space of
three weeks, with only forty-five soldiers and ten nobles, against the
army of the Duc de Mayenne, acquired for him a renown which he never
afterwards forfeited.

[58] Henri, Comte, and subsequently Duc, de Lude, was the last male
representative of his family. He was appointed grand-master of the
artillery in 1669, and died without issue in 1685.

[59] Jean de St. Larry de Thermes, brother of the Duc d'Aiguillon.

[60] Jacques, Marquis de Castelnau, subsequently Marshal of France, who,
in 1658, commanded the left wing of the army at the battle of the Dunes,
and died the same year, at the early age of thirty-eight.

[61] Francois de Paule de Clermont, Marquis de Montglat, first maitre
d'hotel to the King.

[62] M. de Frontenac was one of the officers of Henry IV who, before his
accession to the throne of France (in 1576), had a quarrel with M. de
Rosny, during which he told him that if he were to pull his nose, he
could only draw out milk; a taunt to which the future minister replied
by an assurance that he felt strong enough to draw blood out of that of
his adversary with his sword. The peculiarity of this quarrel existed in
the fact that, although De Rosny was a Protestant, and Frontenac a
Catholic, M. de Turenne nevertheless espoused the cause of the latter;
upon which M. de Lavardin, a Catholic, declared himself ready to second
the arms of the adverse party.

[63] Francois, Baron de Bassompierre, was the son of Christophe de
Bassompierre and Louise de Radeval, and was born on the 12th of April
1579, at the chateau of Harouel, in Lorraine. He became at an early age
the intimate companion and favourite of Henri IV, by whom he was
appointed colonel-general of the Swiss troops. In the year 1603 he was
made Marshal of France, and obtained great influence over both Marie de
Medicis and her son Louis XIII. Richelieu, who became jealous of his
favour, caused him to be imprisoned in the Bastille in 1631, where he
remained for twelve years. He was an able diplomatist, a distinguished
general, and a polished, though dissolute, courtier. He acquitted
himself with great distinction in several sieges, and at his death,
which occurred in 1646, he bequeathed to posterity his personal memoirs,
which are among the most curious in the rich collections possessed by
his countrymen.

[64] Rambure, unpublished _Mem_., 1599, vol. i. pp. 151, 152.

[65] Catherine Henriette de Balzac d'Entragues, subsequently known as
the Marquise de Verneuil, was the elder daughter of the celebrated Marie
Touchet, who, after having been the mistress of Charles IX, became the
wife of Francois de Balzac, Seigneur d'Entragues, de Marcoussis and de
Malesherbes, Governor of Orleans, who was, in 1573, elected a knight of
St. Michael by Henri III. Henriette, as her name implies, was, together
with her two sisters, the issue of this marriage; while her half-brother
the Comte d'Auvergne, subsequently Duc d'Angouleme, was the son of
Charles IX.

[66] Saint--Edme, _Amours et Galanteries des Rois de France_, Brussels,
vol. ii. pp. 199, 200.

[67] Louise Marguerite de Lorraine, the widow of Henri III, was the
elder daughter of Nicolas de Lorraine, Due de Mercoeur, Comte de
Vaudemont, and of the Marquise d'Egmont, his first wife. Henri III
having seen her at Rheims, during his temporary residence in that city,
became enamoured of her person, and their marriage took place on the 5th
of February 1575. Francois de Luxembourg, of the House of Brienne, had
for some time paid his addresses to Mademoiselle de Lorraine, with the
hope and intention of making her his wife; a fact which the licentious
and frivolous King no sooner ascertained than he declared his
inclination to effect an alliance between the disappointed suitor and
his own mistress, Mademoiselle de Chateauneuf, for whom he was anxious
to provide through this medium. He consequently proposed the arrangement
to M. de Luxembourg on the day of his coronation, but received the cold
and firm reply that the Count felt himself bound to congratulate
Mademoiselle de Lorraine on her good fortune, since by changing her
lover she had also been enabled to increase her dignity; but that, as
regarded himself, since he could derive no benefit whatever from
becoming the husband of Mademoiselle de Chateauneuf, he begged that his
Majesty would excuse him from contracting such an alliance. The King,
however, declared that he would admit of no refusal, and insisted upon
his instant obedience; whereupon M. de Luxembourg demanded eight days to
make the necessary preparations, to which Henry demurred, and it was
finally arranged that he should be allowed three days for that purpose,
after which he was to hold himself prepared to obey the royal command.
These three days sufficed to enable the intended victim to make his
escape, and he accordingly left the kingdom. His sarcasm against herself
had so deeply irritated Queen Louise that after the death of her husband
she entreated Henri IV to revenge her injured dignity upon her former
suitor, but the monarch declined to aid in any further persecution of
the unfortunate young noble. The married life of the Queen was a most
unhappy one, and appeared to have entirely disgusted her with the world,
as on becoming a widow she passed two years of seclusion and mourning at
Chenonceaux, whence she removed to the chateau of Moulins, where she
devoted herself to the most austere duties of religion. In her will, by
which she bequeathed nearly the whole of her property to the Church and
to charitable purposes, she left a large sum for the erection of a
Capuchin convent at Bourges, where she desired that she might be
ultimately interred; but by command of Henri IV the convent was built in
the Faubourg St. Honore, at Paris, and her body deposited in the chapel.

[68] Sully, _Mem_. vol. iii. p. 312.

[69] Saint-Edme, p. 200.

[70] Equal, in the present day, to nearly five hundred thousand livres.

[71] Charles de Valois, the son of Charles IX and Marie Touchet, Dame de
Belleville. He was subsequently Duc d'Angouleme and Grand Prior of
France. He died in 1639.

[72] Dreux du Radier, vol. vi. pp. 62, 63. Saint-Edme, pp. 201, 202.

[73] Sully, _Mem_. vol. iii. pp. 313, 314.

[74] Sully, _Mem_. vol. iii. p. 315.

[75] Mezeray, vol. x. p. 124.



Sully resolves to hasten the King's marriage--Ambassadors are sent to
Florence to demand the hand of Marie de Medicis--The marriage articles
are signed--Indignation of Madame de Verneuil--Revenge of her brother,
the Comte d'Auvergne--The Duke of Savoy visits Paris--His reception--His
profusion--His mission fails--Court poets--Marie de Medicis is married
to the French King by procuration at Florence--Hostile demonstrations of
the Duke of Savoy--Infatuation of the King for the favourite--Her
pretensions--A well-timed tempest--Diplomacy of Madame de Verneuil--Her
reception at Lyons--War in Savoy--Marie de Medicis lands at
Marseilles--Madame de Verneuil returns to Paris--The Due de Bellegarde
is proxy for the King at Florence--He escorts the new Queen to
France--Portrait of Marie de Medicis--Her state-galley--Her voyage--Her
reception--Henry reaches Lyons--The royal interview--Public
rejoicings--The royal marriage--Henry returns to Paris--The Queen's
jealousy is awakened--Profligate habits of the King--Marie's Italian
attendants embitter her mind against her husband--Marie reaches
Paris--She holds a court--Presentation of Madame de Verneuil to the
Queen--Indignation of Marie--Disgrace of the Duchesse de
Nemours--Self-possession of Madame de Verneuil--Marie takes possession
of the Louvre--She adopts the French costume--Splendour of the
Court--Festival given by Sully--A practical joke--Court
festivities--Excessive gambling--Royal play debts--The Queen's
favourite--A petticoat intrigue--Leonora Galigai appointed Mistress of
the Robes--Reconciliation between the Queen and Madame de Verneuil--The
King gives the Marquise a suite of apartments in the Louvre--Her rivalry
of the Queen--Indignation of Marie--Domestic dissensions--The Queen and
the favourite are again at war--Madame de Verneuil effects the marriage
of Concini and Leonora--Gratitude of the Queen--Birth of the
Dauphin--Joy of the King--Public rejoicings--Birth of Anne of
Austria--Superstitions of the period--Belief in astrology--A royal
anecdote--Horoscope of the Dauphin--The sovereign and the surgeon--Birth
of Gaston Henri, son of Madame de Verneuil--Public entry of the Dauphin
into Paris--Exultation of Marie de Medicis.

The infatuation of the King for his new favourite decided M. de Sully to
hasten by every means in his power the marriage of the sovereign with
some European princess worthy to share his throne, and he accordingly
instructed the royal agents at Rome to demand forthwith the hand of
Marie de Medicis for the French monarch; while Henry, absorbed in his
passion, permitted him to act as he saw fit, offering neither assistance
nor impediment to a negotiation on which his domestic happiness was in
future to depend. Nor was it until the Duke urged upon him the necessity
of selecting such of his nobility as it was his pleasure to entrust with
the management of the affair in conjunction with the ambassador whom the
Grand Duke, her uncle, was about to despatch to Paris, that, by dint of
importunity, he was induced to name M. de Sully himself, the Constable,
the Chancellor, and the Sieur de Villeroy,[76] whose son, M.
d'Alincourt, had previously been sent to Rome to offer the
acknowledgments of Henry to his Holiness for the dissolution of his
marriage with Queen Marguerite, and to apprise him of that which he was
desirous to contract with Marie de Medicis. This duty performed, M.
d'Alincourt solicited the permission of the Pope to accompany Sillery to
Florence to pay his respects to the Princess and to negotiate the
alliance; and having obtained the required sanction, the two nobles set
forth upon their embassy, quite unaware that the preliminaries were
already nearly concluded.[77] So determined, indeed, had been the
minister that no time should be afforded to the King to redeem the
pledge which he had given to the favourite that Joannini, the agent of
the Grand Duke, had not been many days in Paris before the articles were
drawn up and signed on both sides, and Sully was commissioned by the
other contracting parties to communicate the termination of their
labours to his royal master. The account given by the minister of this
interview is highly characteristic.

"He had not," says the chronicler, "anticipated such expedition; and
thus when I had answered his question of where I had come from by 'We
come, Sire, from marrying you,' the Prince remained for a quarter of an
hour as though he had been stricken by thunder; then he began to pace
the chamber with long strides, biting his nails, scratching his head,
and absorbed by reflections which agitated him so violently that he was
a considerable time before he was able to speak to me. I entertained no
doubt that all my previous representations were now producing their
effect; and so it proved, for ultimately recovering himself like a man
who has at length taken a decided resolution: 'Well,' said he, striking
his hands together, 'well, then, so be it; there is no alternative,
since for the good of my kingdom you say that I must marry.'" [78]

Such was the ungracious acceptance of the haughty Florentine Princess at
the hands of her future bridegroom.

The indignation of Madame de Verneuil was unbounded when she
ascertained that she had for ever lost all hope of ascending the throne
of France; but it is nevertheless certain that she was enabled to
dissimulate sufficiently to render her society indispensable to the
King, and to accept with a good grace the equivocal honours of her
position. Her brother, the Comte d'Auvergne, was, however, less
placable; he had always affected to believe in the validity of her claim
upon the King, and his naturally restless and dissatisfied character led
him, under the pretext of avenging her wrongs, to enter into a
conspiracy which had recently been formed against the person of the
King, whom certain malcontents sought to deprive alike of his throne and
of his liberty, and to supersede in his sovereignty by one of the
Princes of the Blood.[79] Among others, the Duke of Savoy,[80] who,
during the troubles of 1588, had taken possession of the marquisate of
Saluzzo, which he refused to restore, was said to be implicated in this
plot; and he was the more strongly suspected as it had been ascertained
that he had constant communication with several individuals at the
French Court, and that he had tampered with certain of the nobles;
among others, with the Duc de Biron.[81] He had also succeeded in
attaching to his interests the Duchesse de Beaufort; and had, during her
lifetime, proposed to the King to visit France in person in order to
effect a compromise, which he anticipated that, under her auspices, he
should be enabled to conclude with advantage to himself. Henry had
accepted the proposition; and although after the death of the Duchess,
M. de Savoie endeavoured to rescind his resolution, he found himself so
far compromised that he was compelled to carry out his original purpose;
and accordingly, on the 1st of December, he left Chambery with a train
of twelve hundred horse, accompanied by the greater part of his
ministers, his nobles, and the most magnificent members of his
Court.[82] As the French King had issued orders that he should, in every
city through which he passed, be received with regal honours, he did not
reach Fontainebleau until the 14th of the same month, where he arrived
just as his royal host was mounting his horse to meet him. As he
approached Henry he bent his knee, but the King immediately raised and
embraced him with great cordiality; and during the seven days which he
spent at Fontainebleau the Court was one scene of splendour and
dissipation. Balls, jousts, and hunting-parties succeeded each other
without intermission, but the Duke soon perceived that the monarch had
no intention of taking the initiative on the errand which had brought
him to France, a caution from which he justly augured no favourable
result to his expedition;[83] while on his side the subject was never
alluded to by Sully or any of the other ministers without his giving the
most unequivocal proofs of his determination to retain the

[Illustration: Marshal Biron. Paris, Richard Bentley and Son 1890.]

Meanwhile his conduct was governed by the most subtle policy; his
bearing towards the monarch was at once deferential and familiar; his
liberality was unbounded; and his courtesy towards the great nobles and
the officials of the Court untiring and dignified.

On the eighth day after the arrival of the Duke at Fontainebleau the
Court removed to Paris, where Henry had caused apartments to be prepared
for his royal guest in the Louvre; but M. de Savoie, after offering his
acknowledgments for the proffered honour, preferred to take up his abode
in the house of his relative the Duc de Nemours, near the Augustine
convent. The whole of the Christmas festival was spent in a succession
of amusements as splendid as those with which he had been originally
received; and on the 1st of January 1600, when it is customary in France
to exchange presents, the Duke repaid all this magnificence by a
profusion almost unprecedented. To the King, his offering was two large
bowls and vases of crystal so exquisitely worked as to be considered
unrivalled; while he tendered to Madame de Verneuil, who did the honours
of the royal circle, and whom he was anxious to attach to his interests,
a valuable collection of diamonds and other precious stones. Nor did his
liberality end here, for there was not a great noble of the Court who
was not enriched by his munificence save the Due de Biron; who, from
policy, declined to accept some magnificent horses which were sent to
him in the name of the Prince; and Sully, who, upon being presented by
M. des Alimes, one of the principal Savoyard lords, with a snuff-box
enriched with diamonds, and estimated at fifteen thousand crowns,
containing a portrait of M. de Savoie, at once perceived that the costly
offering was intended as a bribe, and declined to receive it, declaring
that he had made a vow never to accept any present of value except from
his own sovereign.[85]

The King responded to the liberality of his guest by the gift of a
diamond star, of which the centre brilliant covered a miniature of
Madame de Verneuil, together with other valuable jewels; but the
profusion of the Duke was so great that his whole outlay upon this
occasion was estimated at no less a sum than four hundred thousand
crowns; and when it was believed that he must have exhausted his
resources, he still further astonished the French nobles by appearing at
a ball which he gave to the Court in a dress entirely covered with
precious stones, and valued at a far higher sum than that which he had

That this profusion had been dictated by policy rather than by
generosity was sufficiently apparent; and whatever effect it might have
produced upon the minds of the courtiers, M. de Savoie was soon made
aware that it had been utterly powerless over the resolution of the
sovereign; for he no sooner ventured to allude to the subject of his
journey, than Henry with his accustomed frankness declared his
determination to enforce his right to the marquisate which his guest had
usurped; an assurance which determined the Duke to request that a
commission might be appointed to examine their conflicting claims.

His demand was conceded; commissioners were appointed on both sides, and
the question was rigidly discussed; propositions were mutually made and
mutually declined; until finally the King, by the advice of his council,
despatched Sebastian Zamet[87] to the Duke of Savoy, with full
authority to negotiate either a restitution or an exchange; giving him
at the same time three months in which to consult his nobility, and to
decide upon the one measure or the other.

So skilfully did the envoy perform his mission, that he ultimately
succeeded in inducing M. de Savoie to propose to the King, as
compensation for the contested marquisate, the cession of certain towns
and citadels named in a treaty which was signed by the two contracting
parties; and this arrangement had no sooner been concluded than the
court resumed its career of gaiety; nor was it until the 7th of March
that the Duke finally took leave of his royal entertainer, and commenced
his homeward journey.[88]

Meanwhile the Court poets had not been idle; and while the Duke of Savoy
had recognized the supremacy of the favourite by costly gifts, her
favour had been courted by the most popular of those time-serving bards
who were accustomed to make their talents subservient to their
interests; nor is it the least remarkable feature of the age that the
three most fashionable rhymesters in the circles of gallantry were all
ecclesiastics, and that the charms and _virtues_ of Henriette
d'Entragues were celebrated by a cardinal, a bishop, and an abbe![89]

Her most palmy days were, however, at an end, for hitherto she had
reigned undisputed mistress of the King's affections, and she was
henceforward to hold at best a divided sway. On the 5th of May, M.
d'Alincourt arrived at Fontainebleau from Florence, with the
intelligence that, on the 25th of the preceding month, the contract of
marriage between the French monarch and the Princesse Marie de Medicis
had been signed at the Palazzo Pitti, in the presence of Carlo-Antonio
Putei, Archbishop of Pisa, and the Duke of Bracciano; and that the bride
brought as her dowry six hundred thousand crowns, besides jewels and
other ornaments of value. He further stated that a "Te Deum" had been
chanted, both in the Palazzo Pitti and at the church of the Annunciation
at Florence; after which the Princesse Marie, declared Queen of France,
had dined in public, seated under a dais above her uncle; and at the
conclusion of the repast, the Duke of Bracciano had presented the water
to wash her hands, and the Marquis de Sillery, the French Ambassador,
the napkin upon which she wiped them. Having made his report, and
delivered his despatches, M. d'Alincourt placed in the hands of the King
a portrait of Marie richly set in brilliants, which had been entrusted
to him for that purpose; and the lover of Madame de Verneuil found
himself solemnly betrothed.[90]

This fact, however, produced little visible effect upon the Court
circle, and still less upon the King himself; and after having afforded
a subject of conversation for a brief interval, it soon appeared to be
entirely forgotten amid the more absorbing matters of interest by which
the minds of the different individuals were severally engrossed. From
policy, the betrothal was never mentioned by the courtiers in the
presence of Madame de Verneuil, a restraint which caused it to fall into
partial oblivion; and the rather as the month of June had arrived
without any demonstration on the part of the Duke of Savoy, who had
availed himself of every possible pretext to evade the fulfilment of the
treaty of Paris; and who had rendered it evident that force of arms
alone could compel him to resign the usurped marquisate. Even the
monarch himself became at length convinced of the impolicy of further
delay, and resolved forthwith to advance to Lyons, whither Sully had
already despatched both troops and artillery.[91] M. de Savoie had,
however, during his sojourn in France, made many partisans, who urged
upon their sovereign the expediency of still affording to the Duke an
opportunity of redeeming his pledge; and Henry, even against his better
reason, listened the more complacently to their counsels that Madame de
Verneuil was about to become a mother, and he shrank from the idea of
separation from her at such a moment. Thus he delayed his journey until
Sully, who was not long in discovering the cause of his inaction,
renewed his expostulations with still greater emphasis, and finally
induced him to make preparations for an immediate departure. As the hour
arrived, however, he again wavered, until at length he declared his
determination to be accompanied by the Marquise; but this arrangement
was, from her state of health, soon found to be impossible; and after
considerable difficulty he was persuaded to consent that she should
await his return at Monceaux, whither he himself conducted her, with
renewed protestations that he loved her well enough to resign even then
the alliance with Marie de Medicis, and to make her his wife.[92] This
was precisely what the favourite still hoped to accomplish. She was
aware of the extraordinary influence which she had obtained over the
mind of her royal lover, and she looked forward to the birth of a son as
the one thing necessary to her success. Accordingly, before she suffered
the King to depart, she compelled him to promise that he would be near
her during her illness; and then she reluctantly saw him set forth to
Moulins, where he was detained for a fortnight, his council not being
able to agree as to the expediency of the campaign.

There can be little doubt that under other circumstances Henry would
have found means to bring them to a decision; but as he was enabled
during their discussions to receive daily intelligence of the Marquise,
he submitted quietly to a detention which seconded his own wishes.

At length the period arrived in which Madame de Verneuil was about to
enforce her claim upon the tenderness of her royal lover, and already he
spoke of returning for a while to Monceaux; when a violent storm, and
the falling of a thunderbolt in the very chamber of the invalid, so
affected her nervous system, that she lost the infant upon which she had
based all her anticipations of greatness; and although the King hastened
to condole with her upon her disappointment, and even remained in
constant attendance upon her sick-bed until she was partially
convalescent, the great link between them was necessarily broken; a fact
of which she was so well aware that her temper gave way beneath the
trial, and she bitterly upbraided her royal lover for the treachery of
which she declared him to have been guilty in permitting his ministers
to effect his betrothal with Marie de Medicis, when she had herself, as
she affirmed, sacrificed everything for his sake. In order to pacify her
anger, the King loaded her with new gifts, and consoled her by new
protestations; nor did his weakness end there, for so soon as her health
was sufficiently re-established, he wrote to entreat of her to join him
at Lyons; although not before she had addressed to him a most submissive
letter, in which she assured him that her whole happiness depended upon
his affection, and that as she had too late become aware that his high
rank had placed an inseparable barrier between them, and that her own
insignificance precluded the possibility of her ever becoming his wife,
she at least implored of him to leave to her the happiness of still
remaining his mistress, and to continue to feel for her the same
tenderness, with so many demonstrations of which he had hitherto
honoured her.[93]

This was an appeal to which the enamoured monarch willingly responded,
and the nature of her reception at Lyons tended still further to restore
peace between them. What the Lyonnese had previously done in honour of
Diane de Poitiers, when, as the accredited and _official_ mistress of
Henri II, she visited their city, they repeated in honour of Madame de
Verneuil, whose entrance within their gates was rather that of a crowned
queen than a fallen woman; and this triumph was shortly afterwards
augmented by her reception of the standards taken by the King at
Charbonnieres, which he caused to be conveyed to her as a proof of his
devotion, and which she, with ostentatious pomp, transferred to the
church of St. Just.

From Lyons, Henry proceeded to Grenoble, still accompanied by Madame de
Verneuil, the Duke of Savoy having at length declared that rather than
submit to the conditions which had been proposed to him, he would incur
the hazard of a war. In consequence of this decision, immediate
measures were taken by the French generals to march upon Saluzzo; and
the Marechal de Biron, although already strongly suspected of
disaffection to his sovereign, having collected a body of troops,
possessed himself of the whole territory of Brescia. The town of Bourg
was stormed by Du Terrail,[94] and taken, with the exception of the
citadel; while M. de Crequy[95] entered Savoy, and made himself master
of the city of Montmelian, although the castle still held out.

Henry then resolved to enter Savoy in person; and having once more taken
leave of the Marquise, who returned to Lyons, he marched upon Chambery,
which immediately capitulated; and thence he proceeded to possess
himself of the citadels of Conflans and Charbonnieres, which had
hitherto been deemed impregnable. M. de Savoie, who had confided in the
strength of his fortresses of Montmelian and Bourg, and who had
continued to affect the most perfect indifference to the approach of the
French troops, now became seriously alarmed, and made instant
preparations to relieve the Marquis de Brandis, the governor of the
former fortress, for which purpose he applied to Spain for assistance.
This was, however, refused; and both places fell into the hands of the
French monarch, who then successively took Chablais and Faussigny; after
which he sat down before the fortress of St. Catherine, which the
Savoyards had erected to overawe the Genevese.[96]

During the siege of Fort St. Catherine, intelligence reached the King of
the arrival of the young Queen at Marseilles; and meanwhile the
gratification of the Pope at an alliance so flattering to his pride had
been of essential benefit to the French interest, as he had, in
consequence, made no demonstration in favour of the Duke of Savoy,
although it was not entirely without anxiety that he had seen the army
of Henry approach his own dominions; but, satisfied that at such a
conjuncture the French monarch would attempt no aggressive measures
against Italy, he had consented to remain passive.

Madame de Verneuil was no sooner apprised of the landing of Marie de
Medicis than, after having vehemently reproached the King for a haste
which she designated as insulting to herself, she made instant
preparations for her return to Paris, resolutely refusing to assist at
the ceremonious reception of the new Queen; nor could the expostulations
of Henry, even accompanied, as they were, by the most profuse proofs of
his continued affection, induce her to rescind her determination. To
every representation of the monarch she replied by reminding him that
out of all the high nobles of his Court, he had seen fit to select the
Duc de Bellegarde as the bearer of his marriage-procuration to the Grand
Duke of Florence--thus indemnifying him to the utmost of his power for
the mortification to which he had been subjected by the royal refusal to
permit him to act personally as his proxy; while she assured him that
she was not blind to the fact that this selection was meant as an
additional affront to herself, in order to avenge the preposterous
notion which his Majesty had adopted, that, after having previously paid
his court to the Duchesse de Beaufort during her period of power, the
Duke had since transferred his affections to the Marquise de Verneuil.

Under all circumstances, this accusation was most unfortunate and
ill-judged, and should in itself have sufficed to open the eyes of the
monarch, who had, assuredly, had sufficient experience in female tactics
to be quite aware that where a woman is compelled mentally to condemn
herself, she is the most anxious to transfer her fault to others, and to
blame where she is conscious of being open to censure. Madame de
Verneuil had not, however, in this instance at all miscalculated the
extent of her influence over the royal mind; as, instead of resenting an
impertinence which was well fitted to arouse his indignation, Henry
weakly condescended to justify himself, and by this unmanly concession
laid the foundation of all his subsequent domestic discomfort.

Madame de Verneuil returned to Paris, surrounded by adulation and
splendour, and the King was left at liberty to bestow some portion of
his thoughts upon his expected bride. It is probable, indeed, that the
portrait of Marie presented to him by the Grand Duchess had excited his
curiosity and flattered his self-love; for it was more than sufficiently
attractive to command the attention of a monarch even less susceptible
to female beauty than himself. Marie was still in the very bloom of
life, having only just attained her twenty-fourth year; nor could the
King have forgotten that when, some time previously, her portrait had
been forwarded to the French Court together with that of the Spanish
Infanta, Gabrielle d'Estrees, then in the full splendour of her own
surpassing loveliness, had exclaimed as she examined them: "I should
fear nothing from the Spaniard, but the Florentine is dangerous." From
whatever impulse he might act, however, it is certain that after the
departure of the favourite, Henry publicly expressed his perfect
satisfaction with the marriage which he had been induced to
contract,[97] and lost no time in issuing his commands for the reception
of his expected bride.

The Duc de Bellegarde, Grand Equerry of France, had reached Livorno on
the 20th of September, accompanied by forty French nobles, all alike
eager, by the magnificence of their appearance and the chivalry of their
deportment, to uphold the honour of their royal master. Seven days
subsequently, he entered Florence, where he delivered his credentials to
the Grand Duke, having been previously joined by Antonio de Medicis with
a great train of Florentine cavaliers who had been sent to meet him; and
the same evening he had an interview with his new sovereign, to whom he
presented the letters with which he had been entrusted by the King.[98]

On the 4th of October, the Cardinal Aldobrandini, the nephew and legate
of the Pope, who had already been preceded by the Duke of Mantua and the
Venetian Ambassador, arrived in his turn at Florence, in order to
perform the ceremony of the royal marriage. His Eminence was received at
the gate of the city by the Grand Duke in person, and made his entry on
horseback under a canopy supported by eight young Florentine nobles,
preceded by all the ecclesiastical and secular bodies; while
immediately behind him followed sixteen prelates, and fifty gentlemen of
the first families in the duchy bearing halberds. On reaching the
church, the Cardinal dismounted, and thence, after a brief prayer, he
proceeded to the ducal palace. At the conclusion of the magnificent
repast which awaited him, the legate, in the presence of his royal host,
of the Dukes of Mantua and Bracciano, the Princes Juan and Antonio de
Medicis, and the Sieur de Bellegarde, announced to the young Queen the
entire satisfaction of the Sovereign-Pontiff at the union upon which he
was about to pronounce a blessing: to which assurance she replied with
grace and dignity.

On the morrow a high mass was celebrated by the Cardinal in the presence
of the whole Court; and during its solemnization he was seated under a
canopy of cloth of gold at the right-hand side of the altar, where a
chair had been prepared for him upon a platform raised three steps above
the floor. He had no sooner taken his place, than the Duc de Bellegarde,
approaching the Princess (who occupied a similar seat of honour,
together with her uncle, at the opposite side of the shrine), led her to
the right hand of the legate; the Grand Duke at the same time placing
himself upon his left, and presenting to his Eminence the procuration by
which he was authorized to espouse his niece in the name of the King.
The document was then transferred to two of the attendant prelates, by
whom it was read aloud; and subsequently the authority given by the
Pope for the solemnization of the marriage was, in like manner, made
public. The remainder of the nuptial service was then performed amid
perpetual salvos of artillery. In the evening a splendid ball took place
at the palace, followed by a banquet, at which the new Queen occupied
the upper seat, having on her right the legate of his Holiness, the Duke
of Mantua, and the Grand Duke her uncle, who, in homage to her superior
rank, ceded to her the place of honour; and on her left, the Duchesses
of Mantua, Tuscany, and Bracciano; the Duke of Bracciano acting as
equerry, and Don Juan, the brother of the Grand Duke, as cup-bearer.

The four following days were passed in a succession of festivities:
hunting-parties, jousts, tiltings at the ring, racing, and every other
description of manly sport occupying the hours of daylight, while the
nights were devoted to balls and ballets, in which the Florentine
nobility vied with their foreign visitors in every species of profusion
and magnificence. Among other amusements, a comedy in five acts was
represented, on which the outlay was stated to have amounted to the
enormous sum of sixty thousand crowns.

At the close of the Court festivals, the Cardinal Aldobrandini took his
leave of the distinguished party, and proceeded to Chambery; but the
Queen lingered with her family until the 13th of the month, upon which
day, accompanied by the Grand-Duchess her aunt, the Duchess of Mantua
her sister, her brother Don Antonio, the Duke of Bracciano, and the
French Ambassador, she set forth upon her journey to her new

Without being strictly beautiful, Marie de Medicis possessed a person at
once pleasing and dignified. All the pride of her Italian blood flashed
from her large dark eye, while the consciousness of her exalted rank
lent a majesty to her deportment which occasionally, however, in moments
of irritation, degenerated into haughtiness. Her intellect was quick and
cultivated, but she was deficient alike in depth of judgment and in
strength of character. Amiable, and even submissive in her intercourse
with her favourites, she was vindictive and tyrannical towards those who
fell under the ban of her displeasure; and with all the unscrupulous
love of intrigue common to her race, she was nevertheless unguarded in
her confidences, unstable in her purposes, and short-sighted in her
policy. In temper she was hot, impatient, and irascible; in temperament,
jealous and exacting; while her vanity and love of power perpetually
made her the tool of those who sought to profit by her defects.

It is probable that throughout the whole of Europe no princess could
have been selected less constituted to make the happiness of a sovereign
who, like Henri IV, had not scrupled to avow to his minister that he
dreaded domestic dissension far more than foreign warfare; but who at
the same time did not hesitate, by his own irregularities, to arouse
all the worst passions in the bosom of an outraged wife.

On the 17th of October the royal bride reached Livorno, where she made
her entry in great pomp, and was received with the most enthusiastic
acclamations; and on the following day she embarked in the state-galley
of the Grand-Duke, one of the most magnificent vessels which had ever
floated upon the blue waters of the Mediterranean. Seventy feet in
length, it was impelled by fifty-four oars, and was richly gilded from
stem to stern; the borders of the poop being inlaid with a profusion of
lapis-lazuli, mother-of-pearl, ivory, and ebony. It was, moreover,
ornamented by twenty large circles of iron interlaced, and studded with
topaz, emeralds, pearls, and other precious stones; while the splendour
of the interior perfectly corresponded with this gorgeous framework. In
the principal cabin, which was hung and carpeted with cloth of gold, a
seat of state had been arranged for the Queen, opposite to which were
suspended the shields of France and of the house of Medicis side by
side; the fleurs-de-lis of the former being composed of large diamonds,
and the device of the latter represented by five immense rubies and a
sapphire, with an enormous pearl above, and a fine emerald in the
centre.[100] This fairy vessel was followed by five other galleys
furnished by the Pope, and six appertaining to the Grand Duke; and thus
escorted Marie de Medicis reached Malta, where she was joined by
another fleet which awaited her off that island; but, despite all this
magnificence, the voyage of the Queen was anything but propitious, for
after arriving at Esperies, where the authorities of Genoa profferred to
her, with great respect, the attendance of their own flotilla, she had
no sooner reached Portofino than she was compelled to anchor for several
days from stress of weather. Unaccustomed as she was, however, to this
mode of travelling, the high-spirited young Queen resisted all the
entreaties of those about her, who were anxious that she should land
until the wind had moderated, simply remarking that the King had given
no directions to that effect;[101] and retaining, amid all the dismay
and discomfort by which she was surrounded, not only her self-command,
but even her cheerfulness.[102]

Meanwhile, Henry had no sooner ascertained the approach of his royal
bride, than he forthwith despatched to welcome her, the Constable, the
Chancellor, and the Dues de Nemours, de Ventadour, and de Guise; and
these princes were followed on the ensuing day by the Cardinals de
Joyeuse, de Gondy, and de Sourdis; after which he intimated his
pleasure to all the several princesses and great ladies of the Court who
were then sojourning at Grenoble in order to be near the royal army,
that they should immediately set forth to pay their respects to their
new sovereign, and remain in attendance upon her person until her entry
into Paris; a command which was so literally obeyed, that three days
afterwards the city was utterly stripped of the aspect of gaiety and
splendour which had rendered it for a time an epitome of the
capital itself.

On the 28th of October the Queen once more put to sea, and two days
subsequently she entered the port of Toulon, where she landed under a
canopy of cloth of gold, with her fine hair flowing over her
shoulders.[103] There she remained for two days, in order to recover
from the effects of her voyage; after which she re-embarked and
proceeded to Marseilles, where she arrived on the evening of Friday the
3d of November. A gallery had been constructed from the port to the
grand entrance of the palace in which apartments had been prepared for
her; and on stepping from her galley, she was welcomed by the
Chancellor,[104] who announced to her the orders that he had received
from the King relative to her reception, and presented to her Majesty
the Connetable--Duc de Montmorency,[105] and the Ducs de Nemours[106]
and de Ventadour.[107] The consuls and citizens then tendered to her
upon their knees the keys of the city in gold, linked together by a
chain of the same precious metal; after which ceremony, the young Queen
was conducted to the palace under a rich canopy, preceded by the
Constable, surrounded by the Cardinals and prelates who had been sent to
welcome her, and followed by the wife of the Chancellor, and the other
great ladies of the Court. So long a delay having occurred between her
betrothal and her marriage, the Princess had been enabled to render
herself mistress of the language of her new country; and the
satisfaction of the courtiers was consequently undisguised when she
offered her acknowledgments for the courtesy of her reception in their
own tongue; a gratification which was enhanced by the fact that Marie
had made no effort to assimilate her costume to that of the French
Court, but appeared in a robe of cloth of gold on a blue ground,
fashioned in the Italian taste, and with her fine fair hair simply
braided and utterly destitute of powder;[108] a circumstance which had
already sufficed to awaken the jealousy of the French princesses.

On the following day the Queen held a reception in the great hall of the
palace, and graciously listened, surrounded by her august relatives, to
the eloquent and celebrated harangue of M. du Vair,[109] the president
of the Parliament of Provence; to which she had no sooner replied than
she hastened to examine from the balcony a sumptuous state-carriage
presented to her by the King, and then retired to her own apartments,
attended by her personal suite. Of the royal vehicle in question Cayet
gives a minute description, which we transcribe as affording an accurate
idea of the taste displayed in that age in the decoration of coaches:
"It was," he says, "covered with brown velvet and trimmed with silver
tinsel on the outside; and within it was lined with carnation-coloured
velvet, embroidered with gold and silver. The curtains were of carnation
damask, and it was drawn by four gray horses." [110] These royal
conveyances were, however, far less convenient than showy, being
cumbrous and ungraceful in form, rudely suspended upon leathern straps,
and devoid of windows, the use of glass not becoming known until the
succeeding reign.

On the morrow during her toilette the Queen received the principal
ladies of the city, who had the honour of accompanying her to the
temporary chapel which adjoined the principal saloon, where a high mass
was performed with all the magnificent accessories of which it was
susceptible; the numerous prelates and high dignitaries of the Church
then assembled at Marseilles assisting at its celebration. The
subsequent days were spent in courtly festivities and a survey of the
noble city, where the ponderous and gilded coach of the royal bride was
followed by the wondering acclamations of the dazzled and delighted
populace, probably little less dazzled and delighted than herself; for
Marie de Medicis, young and ambitious, could not but be forcibly struck
by the contrast of her present splendour with the comparative obscurity
of the Court to which she had been previously habituated.

On the 16th of the month, however, she experienced her first trial, in a
separation from the Grand Duchess her aunt, and the Duchess of Mantua
her sister, who then took their leave, and returned to Florence in the
galleys which were still awaiting them; and they had no sooner left the
port than the Queen, followed by the brilliant train by which she had
been surrounded since her arrival in France, proceeded to Aix, where she
remained two days; and on the morning of the third she made her entry
into Avignon escorted by two thousand horsemen, who met her before she
reached the city, and officiated as a guard of honour. Every street
through which she passed was richly decorated; tapestry and velvet
hangings were suspended from the windows, and draped the balconies;
triumphal arches and platforms, splendidly decorated and covered with
devices and emblems appropriate to the occasion, were to be seen on all
sides; and finally, in the great square of the city, her progress was
arrested by a stately procession of ecclesiastics, in whose name she was
harangued by Francois Suares;[111] who having in the course of his
address expressed his ardent hope that before the anniversary of her
entry into Avignon she might give a Dauphin to France, she momentarily
interrupted by exclaiming energetically: "I will pray to God to grant me
that grace!" [112]

The royal train then again moved forward, and Marie took possession of
the stately abode which had been prepared for her, amid the firing of
musketry, the pealing of bells, and the shouts of the excited people, in
whom the affability and beauty of their new Queen had aroused the most
ardent feelings of loyalty and hope.

On the following day the corporation of the city presented to their
young sovereign a hundred and fifty medals of gold, some of which bore
on their obverse her own profile, and others that of the King, their
reverse being in every case a representation of the town by which the
offering was made; and on the ensuing evening she attended a banquet
given in her honour by the Papal vice-legate at the palace of Rouvre,
where at the conclusion of the ball, as she was about to retire with her
suite, the tapestry hangings of the saloon were suddenly withdrawn, and
revealed a magnificent collation served upon three separate tables.
Among other costly delicacies, the guests were startled by the variety
and profusion of the ornamental sugar-work which glistened like
jewellery in the blaze of the surrounding tapers; for not only were
there representations of birds, beasts, and fishes, but also fifty
statues, each two palms in height, presenting in the same frail material
the effigies of pagan deities and celebrated emperors. So marvellous
indeed had been the outlay of the prelate on this one luxury, that at
the close of the repast three hundred baskets of the most delicate
confectionery, consisting chiefly of fruits skilfully imitated in
sugar, were distributed among the fair and astonished guests.[113]

During her sojourn at Avignon Marie received from the hands of M. de
Rambure, whom the King had despatched from Savoy for that purpose, not
only his renewed assurances of welcome, but also the costly gifts which
he had prepared for her. "After the departure of the princes and
cardinals," says the quaint old chronicler, "his Majesty desired my
attendance in his chamber, and I had no sooner entered than he
exclaimed: 'Friend Rambure, you must go and meet our future Queen, whom
you must overtake two days before her arrival at Lyons; welcome her in
my name, and present to her this letter and these two caskets of gems,
together with these chests containing all the materials necessary for
her first state-toilette; and having done this, bring me back her answer
without delay. You will find a relay of horses awaiting you at every
second league, both going and coming, in order that you may use all
speed, and give me time to reach Lyons so soon as I shall know that she
is to be there,'" This order could not, however, be implicitly obeyed,
as the courtier was only enabled on his return to the King's presence to
inform him that the Princess would enter Lyons that very day; upon which
Henry instantly ordered post-horses, and accompanied by Sully, Rambure,
and ten more of his favourite nobles, he commenced his journey, making,
as he rode along, a thousand inquiries relative to his young wife, her
deportment, and her retinue; asking with the utmost earnestness how she
had received the presents which he had sent, and finally demanding of M.
de Rambure if he were satisfied with the diamond ring that she had
presented to him, a question which his messenger was careful to answer
in the affirmative, at the same time assuring his Majesty that although
he valued the jewel itself at a hundred pistoles, he prized it still
more as the gift of so illustrious a Princess and Queen.[114]

On the 3d of December the Queen reached La Guillotiere, one of the
faubourgs of Lyons, where she passed the night; and on the following
morning she proceeded to Lamothe, where she assisted at the mass, and
subsequently dined. At the close of the repast, all the several civic
corporations paid their respects to their new sovereign, the Chancellor
replying to their harangue in the name of the Queen; who, immediately
that they had retired, ascended her carriage, and entered the city gates
in the same state, and amid the same acclamations which had accompanied
her entry into Avignon. The suave majesty of her demeanour, the
magnificence of her apparel, and the flush of health and happiness which
glowed upon her countenance, filled the people with enthusiasm.

As her ponderous coach with its heavy curtains drawn back crushed
beneath its ungainly wheels the flowers and branches that had been
strewn upon her path, she showed herself in all her imperial beauty,
dividing her smiles between the richly-attired groups who thronged the
windows and balconies and the tumultuous multitude who ran shouting and
gesticulating at her side; and the popular enthusiasm was as great as
though in her person each individual beheld an earnest of the future
prosperity and happiness of the nation over which she had been called to
reign. Triumphal arches, floating draperies, and emblematic devices were
scattered over the city; and thus welcomed and escorted, she reached the
cathedral, where an address was delivered by M. de Bellievre,[115] and a
"Te Deum" was solemnly performed.

In the course of the afternoon the young Queen received M. de
Roquelaure,[116] who had been despatched by the monarch to announce that
he was already on his way to Lyons;[117] and her interview with this
new messenger had no sooner terminated than she was invited to pass into
the great saloon, where several costly vases of gold and silver were
presented to her in the name of the citizens; after which she was
permitted to take the repose which she so greatly needed while awaiting
the arrival of the King.

Meanwhile Henry, who was not expected until the 10th of the month,
reached Lyons on the previous evening just as the Queen had taken her
seat at the supper-table; and being anxious to form his own judgment of
her person and deportment before he declared his identity, he entered
the apartment in an undress military uniform, trusting in this disguise
to pass unnoticed among the throng of attendants. The Chancellor had,
however, hurriedly seized an opportunity of intimating to Marie the
arrival of her royal consort; while the King had no sooner crossed the
threshold than he was recognized by several of the nobles; who, by
hastily stepping aside to enable him to pass, created a movement which
the quick eye of the Princess instantly detected, and of whose cause she
did not remain one instant in doubt. Nevertheless, she betrayed no sign
of her consciousness of the monarch's presence; while he, on his side,
aware that all further incognito had become impossible, hastily retired.

When he had withdrawn, the Queen instantly ceased eating; and, as each
succeeding dish was presented to her, silently motioned its removal.
Thus the remainder of the repast was rapidly terminated; and at its
close, she rose and retired to her private apartments, which she had
scarcely reached when a loud stroke upon the door of the ante-room, so
authoritatively given that she was at once made aware of the approach of
her royal consort, caused her to rise from the arm-chair in which she
was seated, and to advance to the centre of the floor. She had scarcely
done so when the tapestry hanging was drawn aside, and M. le Grand[118]
entered, followed by the impatient monarch. In an instant she was at his
feet, but in the next she found herself warmly and affectionately
welcomed; nor was it until he had spent half an hour in conversation
with her, that the King, weary and travel-worn as he was, withdrew to
partake of the refreshment which had been prepared for him. On the
following afternoon their Majesties, occupying the same carriage,
attended vespers with great pomp at the Abbey of Aisnay; after which
they passed the ensuing days in a succession of the most splendid
festivities, at which the whole of the Court were present (the cost of
those of the 13th being entirely at the expense of the monarch, in
celebration of his birthday), until the arrival of the Cardinal
Aldobrandini, whom the King had invited from Chambery to be present at
the public celebration of his nuptials, and who entered the city in
state, when preparations were immediately made for the august rite upon
which he was to confer his benediction.

At the close of a state dinner on the morrow (17th of December), the
royal couple proceeded, accompanied by all the princes and great nobles
of the Court, to the church of St. John; where the Papal legate,
surrounded by the Cardinals de Joyeuse,[119] de Gondy,[120] and de
Sourdis,[121] together with the prelates then residing in the city, were
already awaiting them. The royal bride retained her Tuscan costume,
which was overlaid with the splendid jewels that formed so considerable
a portion of her dowry; the most conspicuous among them being an
ornament serving as a stomacher, which immediately obtained the name of
"the Queen's Brilliant." This costly decoration consisted of an
octagonal framework of large diamonds, divided into sections by lesser
stones, each enclosing a portrait in enamel of one of the princes of her
house, beneath which hung three immense pear-shaped pearls. The King was
attired in a vest and haut-de-chausses of white satin, elaborately
embroidered with silk and gold, and a black cape;[122] and wore upon his
head the velvet _toque_ that had been introduced at the French Court by
Henri III, to which a string of costly pearls was attached by a star of
diamonds. Nor were the ladies and nobles of the royal retinue very
inferior in the splendour of their appearance even to the monarch and
his bride; feathers waved and jewels flashed on every side; silks and
velvets swept the marble floor; and the brilliant uniforms of the royal
guard were seen in startling contrast with the uncovered shoulders of
the Court dames, which were laden with gems; while, to complete the
gorgeousness of the picture, the high altar blazed with light, and
wrought gold, and precious stones; and the magnificent robes of the
prelates and priests who surrounded the shrine, formed a centre worthy
of the rich framework by which it was enclosed.

At the termination of the ceremony, gold and silver coins were thrown to
the crowd, and the procession returned to the palace in the same order
as it had reached the church.

Great, however, as was the satisfaction which Henri IV had publicly
expressed at his marriage, and lavish as were the encomiums that he had
passed upon the grace and beauty of his wife, it is, nevertheless,
certain that he by no means permitted this legitimate admiration to
interfere with his passion for Madame de Verneuil, to whom he constantly
despatched couriers, charged with both letters and presents; and whom he
even permitted to speak of the Queen in her replies in a disrespectful
manner. But the crowning proof of the inequality of the struggle which
was about to ensue between the wife and the mistress, was the departure
of the King from Lyons on the 18th of December, the second day after his
marriage;[123] when, announcing his intention of travelling post to
Paris, he left the Queen and her suite to follow at their leisure. That
the haughty spirit of Marie de Medicis was stung by this abrupt
abandonment, and that her woman-pride revolted, will admit of no doubt;
nor is it wonderful that her indignation and jealousy should have been
aroused when she discovered that, instead of pursuing his way to the
capital, where the public arrangements necessitated by the peace with
Savoy, which he had just concluded, required his presence, the King had
embarked at Roanne, and then proceeded from Briare, where he landed, to
Fontainebleau, whence on the morrow, after dining at Villeneuve, he had
travelled at once to Verneuil, and remained there three days before he
entered Paris. Nor even after his arrival in the capital was his conduct
such as to reassure her delicacy; for Bassompierre has left it upon
record that the newly-wedded sovereign took up his abode with M. de
Montglat, at the priory of St. Nicolas-du-Louvre, where he constantly
entertained ladies at supper, as well as several of his confidential

So singular and insulting a commencement of her married life was
assuredly well calculated to alarm the dignity of the Tuscan Princess;
and even brief as had been her residence in France, she had already
several individuals about her person who did not suffer her to remain in
ignorance of the movements of her royal consort; while, unhappily for
her own peace, her Italian followers--revolted by an indifference on the
part of the monarch which they considered as an insult to their
mistress--instead of endeavouring to allay the irritation which she did
not attempt to conceal, exasperated her feelings by the vehemence of
their indignation. It was indeed but too manifest that the favourite
retained all her influence; and the arrangements which had been formally
made for the progress of the Queen to the capital involved so much
delay, that it was not possible for her to remain blind to the fact that
they had been organised with the view of enabling the monarch to enjoy
uninterruptedly for a time the society of his mistress. In consequence
of these perpetual stoppages on the road, the harangues to which she was
constrained to listen, and the dreary ceremonies to which she was
condemned, it was not until the 1st of February 1601 that Marie de
Medicis reached Nemours, where she was met by the King, who conducted
her to Fontainebleau, at which palace the royal couple made a sojourn
of five or six days; and, finally, on the 9th of the month, the young
Queen entered Paris, where the civic authorities were anxious to afford
to her a magnificent state reception; a purpose which was, however,
negatived by the monarch, who alleged as his reason the enormous outlay
that they had previously made upon similar occasions, and who commanded
that the ceremony should be deferred.[125] Whatever may have been the
real motive of Henry for exhibiting this new slight towards his royal
bride, it is certain that the partisans of Marie did not fail to
attribute it to the malevolence of Madame de Verneuil; and thus another
subject of animosity was added to the list.

Under these circumstances, the Queen entered the metropolitan city of
her new kingdom without any of that pomp which had characterised her
progress through the provinces; and alighted at the residence of M. de
Gondy,[126] where the Princesses and the principal ladies of the Court
and city hastened to pay their respects to her Majesty on her arrival.

It was rumoured that one motive for the visit of the King to Verneuil
had been his anxiety to induce the insolent favourite (whom he resolved
to present to the Queen in order that she might be authorized to
maintain her place at Court) to treat her new sovereign with becoming
respect; and with a view to render her presentation as dignified as
possible, he commanded the Duchesse de Nemours[127] to officiate as her
sponsor. The pride of Anne de Savoie revolted, however, against the
function which was assigned to her, and she ventured respectfully to
intimate her reluctance to undertake so onerous an office, alleging as
her reason, that such a measure on her part must inevitably deprive her
of the confidence of her royal mistress. Nevertheless the King insisted
on her obedience;[128] and, accordingly, the mortified Duchess was
compelled to lead the mistress of the monarch into the circle, and to
name her to the agitated and outraged Queen. Marie de Medicis in this
trying emergency was sustained by her Italian blood; and although her
lip quivered, she vouchsafed no other token of displeasure; but after
coldly returning the curtsey of the favourite, who was blazing with
jewels and radiant with triumph, she turned abruptly aside to converse
with one of the Court ladies, leaving the Marquise still standing before
her, as though she had suddenly become unconscious of her existence. Nor
did the Duchesse de Nemours receive a more gracious welcome when, having
ventured to interpose in the conversation, she sought the eye of the
Queen; for that eye was instantly averted, and she became aware that she
had in truth incurred the displeasure which she had so justly

But although the high-born and exemplary Duchess shrank from the anger
of her young sovereign, the _parvenue_ Marquise was far from feeling
equally abashed. With a steady step, and a proud carriage she advanced a
pace nearer to Marie, and in her turn took up the thread of the
discourse; nor did the haughtiness of the Queen's deportment disturb her
serenity for a moment. The great fascination of Madame de Verneuil
existed, as we have already remarked, in her extraordinary wit, and the
vivacity of her conversation; while so ably did she on this occasion
profit by her advantage, that the disgust of Marie was gradually changed
into wonder; and when, at the close of one of her most brilliant
sallies, the insolent favourite even carried her audacity so far as to
address her royal mistress personally, the Queen was startled into a
reply.[129] She soon, however, recovered her self-possession; and
pleading fatigue, broke up the circle by retiring to her own apartments.

The mortification of Madame de Nemours, whose highest ambition had been
to secure the affection of her new sovereign, and whose pride had been
sorely wounded by the undignified office that she had been compelled to
fulfil, had not, however, yet reached its culminating point; for as on
the approach of the King, who was in his turn preparing to withdraw, she
awaited some acknowledgment of the submission with which she had obeyed
his commands, she was startled to see a frown gather upon his brow as
their eyes met; and still more so to hear herself rebuked for the
ungracious manner in which she had performed her task; an exhibition of
ill-will to which, as he averred, Madame de Verneuil was solely indebted
for the coldness of her reception.

The Duchess curtseyed in silence; and Henry, without any other
salutation, slowly pursued his way to the ante-room, followed by the
officers of his household.

On the 12th of the month the Queen changed her residence, and took up
her abode in the house of Zamet,[130] where she was to remain until the
Louvre was prepared for her reception, a precaution which Henry had
utterly neglected; and on the 15th she at length found herself
established in the palace which had been opened to her with so much
apparent reluctance. On the morrow Marie appeared in the costume of the
French Court,[131] with certain modifications which at once became
popular. Like those by whom she was now surrounded, she wore her bosom
considerably exposed, but her back and shoulders were veiled by a deep
ruff which immediately obtained the name of the "Medicis," and which
bore a considerable resemblance to a similar decoration much in vogue
during the sixteenth century. The "Medicis" was composed of rich lace,
stiffened and supported by wire, and rose behind the neck to the
enormous height of twelve inches.[132] The dress to which this ruff was
attached was of the most gorgeous description, the materials employed
being either cloth of gold or silver, or velvet trimmed with ermine;
while chains of jewels confined it across the breast, descending from
thence to the waist, where they formed a chatelaine reaching to the
feet. Nor did the young Queen even hesitate to sacrifice to the
prejudices of her new country the magnificent hair which had excited so
much astonishment on her arrival; but, in conformity with the taste of
the French Court, instead of suffering it, as she had previously done,
to flow loosely over her shoulders, or to display its luxuriant braids
like a succession of glossy diadems around her head, she caused it to be
closely cut, and arranged in stiff rows of thickly-powdered curls.

Hitherto, since the accession of Henri IV, the French Court had been
one of the least splendid in Europe; if, indeed, it could in reality
have been said to exist at all--a circumstance to which many causes had
conduced. During his separation from Marguerite, and before his second
marriage, Henry had cared little for the mere display of royalty. His
previous poverty had accustomed him to many privations as a sovereign,
which he had sought to compensate by self-indulgence as a man; and thus
he made a home in the houses of the most wealthy of his courtiers, such
as Zamet, Gondy, and other dissipated and convenient sycophants, with
whom he could fling off the trammels of rank, and indulge in the
ruinously high play or other still more objectionable amusements to
which he was addicted. On the arrival of the Tuscan Princess, however,
all was changed; and, as though he sought to compensate to her by
splendour and display for the mortifications which awaited her private
life, the King began forthwith to revive the traditional magnificence of
the Court.

Two days after their arrival at the Louvre, Henry conducted his Queen to
the royal palaces of Fontainebleau and St. Germain; and on the 18th of
the month, their Majesties, attended by the whole of their respective
households, and accompanied by all the princes and great nobles then
resident in the capital, partook of a superb banquet at the Arsenal,
given by Sully in honour of his appointment as Grand-Master of the
Artillery. At this festival the minister, casting aside the gravity of
his functions and the dignity of his rank, and even forgetful, as it
would appear, of the respect which he owed to his new sovereign, not
satisfied with pressing upon his guests the costly viands that had been
prepared for them, no sooner perceived that the Italian ladies of her
Majesty's suite were greatly attracted by the wine of Arbois, of which
they were partaking freely, quite unconscious of its potency, than he
caused the decanters containing the water that they mingled with it to
be refilled with another wine of equal strength, but so limpid as to be
utterly undistinguishable to the eye from the purer liquid for which it
had been substituted. The consequences of this cruel pleasantry may be
inferred; the heat, the movement, and the noise by which they were
surrounded, together with the increased thirst caused by the insidious
draughts that they were unconsciously imbibing, only induced the
unfortunate Florentines to recur the more perseveringly to their
refreshing libations; and at length the results became so apparent as to
attract the notice of the King, who, already prepossessed like Sully
himself against the Queen's foreign retinue, laughed heartily at a piece
of treachery which he appeared to consider as the most amusing feature
of the entertainment.[133]

During the succeeding days several ballets were danced by the young
nobles of the Court; and a tournament, open to all comers, and at which
the Queen presented the prizes to the victors, was held at the

At the close of Lent, the Duchesse de Bar, the King's sister, and her
father-in-law, the Duc de Lorraine, arrived in France to welcome the new
sovereign; who, together with her consort, met them at Monceaux, which
estate, lately the property of _la belle Gabrielle_> Henry had, after
her arrival in the capital, presented to his wife. Here the Court
festivals were renewed; and had the heart and mind of Marie been at
ease, her life must have seemed rather like a brilliant dream than a
sober reality. Such, however, was far from being the case; for already
the seeds of domestic discord which had been sown before her marriage
were beginning to germinate. Madame de Verneuil was absent from the
Court, and it was evident to every individual of whom it was composed,
that the King rather tolerated than shared in the gaieties by which he
was surrounded.

Bassompierre relates that during this sojourn at Monceaux, while Henry
was standing apart with himself, M. de Sully, and the Chancellor, he
suddenly informed them that the favourite had confided to him a proposal
of marriage which she had received from a prince, on condition that she
should be enabled to bring with her a dowry of a hundred thousand
crowns; and inquired if they would advise him to sacrifice so large a
sum for such a purpose. "Sire," replied M. de Bellievre, "I am of
opinion that you would do well to give the young lady the hundred
thousand crowns in order that she may secure the match." And when Sully,
with his usual prudence, remarked that it was more easy to talk of such
an amount than to procure it, the Chancellor continued, heedless of the
interruption: "Nay more, Sire; I am equally of opinion that you had
better give two or even three hundred thousand, if less will not
suffice. Such is my advice." [134]

It is needless to say that it was not followed.

The only amusement in which Henri IV indulged freely and earnestly was
play; and he was so reckless a gamester, that at no period has the Court
of France been so thoroughly demoralized by that frightful vice as
throughout his reign. Not only did his own example corrupt those
immediately about him, but the rage for gaming gradually pervaded all
classes. The nobility staked their estates where money failed; the
citizens trafficked in cards and dice when they should have been
employed in commerce or in science; the very valets gambled in the
halls, and the pages in the ante-chambers. Play became the one great
business of life throughout the capital; and enormous sums, which
changed the entire destiny of families, were won and lost. One or two
traits will suffice to prove this, and we will then dismiss the subject.
In the year 1607, M. de Bassompierre relates in his Memoirs, that being
unable from want of funds to purchase a new and befitting costume in
which to appear at the christening of the Dauphin, he nevertheless gave
an order to his tailor to prepare him a dress upon which the outlay was
to be fourteen thousand crowns; his actual resources amounting at that
moment only to seven hundred; and that he had no sooner done so, than he
proceeded with this trifling sum to the hotel of the Duc d'Epernon,
where he won five thousand; while before the completion of the costume,
he had not only gained a sufficient amount to discharge the debt thus
wantonly incurred, but, as he adds, with a self-gratulation worthy of a
better cause, "also a diamond-hilted sword of the value of five thousand
crowns, and five or six thousand more with which to amuse myself." [135]

In 1609, only one Year later, L'Etoile has left on record a still more
astounding and degrading fact. "In this month" (March), he says,
"several academies of play have been established, where citizens of all
ages risk considerable sums, a circumstance which proves not only an
abundance of means, but also the corruption of morals. The son of a
merchant has been seen at one sitting to lose sixty thousand crowns,
although he had only inherited twenty thousand from his father; and a
man named Jonas has hired a house in the Faubourg St. Germain, in order
to hold one of these academies for a fortnight during the fair, and for
this house he has given fourteen hundred francs." [136]

D'Aubigny and several other chroniclers bear similar testimony; and
while Bassompierre boasts of having won five hundred thousand pistoles
in one year (each pistole being little inferior in value to our own
sovereign), he nevertheless gives us plainly to understand that the King
was a more reckless gamester than himself, a fact corroborated moreover
by Sully, who tells us in his Memoirs, "The sums, at least the principal
ones, that I employed on the personal expenses of Henry, were twenty-two
thousand pistoles, for which he sent to me on the 18th of January 1609,
and which he had lost at play; a hundred thousand livres to one party,
and fifty-one thousand to another, likewise play debts, due to Edward
Fernandes, a Portuguese.... A thousand pistoles for future play; Henry
at first took only five hundred, but he subsequently sent Beringhen for
the remainder for a different purpose. I carried him a thousand more for
play when I went with the Chancellor to Fontainebleau." [137]

Only a short time subsequent to the establishment of the Court at the
Louvre, what neither the desire and authority of the King himself nor
the arts of his mistress had been able to accomplish, was achieved
through the agency of the Queen's favourite attendant, Leonora
Galigai,[138] who had accompanied her royal mistress and foster-sister
from Italy at the period of her marriage. On the formation of the
Queen's household, Henry had, among other appointments, honoured Madame
de Richelieu[139] with the post of Mistress of the Robes; but Marie de
Medicis having decided on bestowing this charge upon Leonora, refused to
permit the Countess to perform the duties of her office, and requested
the King to transfer it to her Italian _protegee_. This, however, was a
concession to which Henry would not consent; and while the Queen
persisted in not permitting the services of Madame de Richelieu, her
royal bridegroom as pertinaciously negatived the appointment of
_parvenue_ lady of honour. The high-born countess bore the affront thus
offered to her with the complacent dignity befitting her proud station;
but such was far from being the case with the ambitious and mortified
Leonora, who had not been a week at the French Court ere she became
aware that all the Italian followers of the Queen were peculiarly
obnoxious both to the King and his minister; and who felt that should
she fail to push her fortunes upon the instant, she might one day be
compelled to leave France as poor and as powerless as she had entered
it. Not contented, therefore, with urging her royal mistress to
persevere in her resolution of rejecting the attendance of Madame de
Richelieu, she began to speculate upon the most feasible measures to be
adopted in order to secure her own succession to the coveted dignity;
and after considerable reflection, she became convinced that this could
only be accomplished through the assistance of the Marquise de Verneuil.
Once assured of the fact, Leonora did not hesitate; but, instead of
avoiding, as she had hitherto done, the advances of the favourite--who,
aware of her unlimited power over the mind of the Queen, had on several
occasions treated her with a courtesy by no means warranted by her
position at the Court--she began to court the favour of the Marquise in
as marked a manner as she had previously slighted it; and ere long the
intrigue of the two favourites was brought to a successful issue. Each
stood in need of the other, and a compact was accordingly entered into
between them. Madame de Verneuil, whose pride was piqued by her
exclusion from the royal circle, was desirous to gain at any price the
countenance of Marie, and to be admitted to her private assemblies,
where alone she could carry out her more extended plan of ambition;
while the wily Italian, rendered only the more pertinacious by
difficulty, and anxious moreover to secure a post which would at all
times enable her to remain about the person of the Queen, thought no
price too great, even the dishonour of her royal foster-sister, to
obtain her object, and thus a mutual promise was made; the Marquise
pledging herself that, in the event of the Queen recognizing her right
to attend her receptions, and treating her with the courtesy and
consideration due to the rank conferred upon her by the King, she would
effect the appointment courted by Leonora; while the Signora Galigai,
with equal confidence, promised in her turn that she would without
delay cause Madame de Verneuil to receive a summons to the
Queen's presence.

Nor did either of these ladies over-estimate the amount of her
influence; for the monarch no sooner learnt that the reception of his
mistress by the haughty and indignant Princess could be purchased by a
mere slight to Madame la Grande Prevoste, than he consented to sanction
the appointment of the Italian _suivante_ of Marie to the post of
honour; while Leonora soon succeeded by her tears and entreaties in
wringing from her royal mistress a reluctant acquiescence to
her request.

Thus then, as before stated, a hollow peace was patched up between the
unequal rivals; and Madame de Verneuil at length found herself in
possession of a folding-seat in the Queen's reception room; while her
coadjutress triumphantly took her place among the noblest ladies of the
land; but scarcely had this result been accomplished, when Henry,
profiting by so unhoped-for an opportunity of gratifying the vanity of
the favourite, assigned to her a suite of apartments in the Louvre
immediately above those of the Queen, and little, if at all, inferior to
them in magnificence.

This, however, was an affront which Marie de Medicis could not brook;
and she accordingly, with her usual independence of spirit, expressed
herself in no measured terms upon the subject, particularly to such of
her ladies as were likely to repeat her comments to the Marquise. The
latter retorted by assuming all the airs of royalty, and by assembling
about her a little court, for which that of the Queen herself was
frequently forsaken, especially by the monarch, who found the brilliant
circle of the favourite, wherein he always met a warm and enthusiastic
welcome, infinitely more to his taste than the formal etiquette and
reproachful frowns by which his presence in that of his royal consort
was usually signalized.

Nor could the annoyance of the proud Florentine Princess be subject of
astonishment to any rightly-constituted mind. The position was a
monstrous and an unnatural one. Both the wife and the mistress were
about to become mothers; and the whole Court was degraded by so
unblushing an exhibition of the profligacy of the monarch. Still,
however, the French ladies of the household forebore to censure their
sovereign; and even sought to persuade the outraged Queen that when once
she had given a Dauphin to France the favourite would be compelled to
leave the palace; but Marie's Italian followers were far less
scrupulous, and expressed their indignation in no measured terms. The
Queen, wounded in her most sacred feelings, became gradually colder to
the Marquise, who, as though she had only awaited this relapse to sting
her still more deeply than she had yet done, retorted the slights which
she constantly received by declaring that "the Florentine," as she
insolently designated her royal mistress, was not the legal or lawful
wife of the King, whose written promise, still in her possession, he
was, as she asserted, bound to fulfil should she bear him a son. This
surpassing assurance no sooner reached the ears of Marie de Medicis than
she once more forbade Madame de Verneuil her presence; but the Marquise,
strong in her impunity, merely replied by an epigram, and consoled
herself for her exclusion from the Queen's private circle by assuming
more state and magnificence than before, and by collecting in her
saloons the prettiest women and the most reckless gamblers that the
capital could produce. Thus attracted, the infatuated monarch became her
constant guest; and his neglected wife, in weak health, and with an
agonised heart, saw herself abandoned for a wanton who had set a price
upon her virtue, and who made a glory of her shame.

Poor Marie! whatever were her faults as a woman, they were bitterly
expiated both as a wife and as a mother!

Vain were all the efforts of the King on the one hand and those of
Leonora on the other to terminate this new misunderstanding; the Queen
was coldly resolute, and the Marquise insolently indifferent; nor would
a reconciliation, in all probability, ever again have taken place, had
not the interests of the Mistress of the Robes once more required it,
when her influence over the mind of her royal foster-sister sufficed to
overcome every obstacle.

Among the numerous Florentines who composed the suite of Marie de
Medicis was Concino Concini,[140] a gentleman of her household, whose
extreme personal beauty had captivated the heart of Leonora; while she
saw, as she believed, in his far-reaching ambition and flexile character
the very elements calculated, in conjunction with her own firmer nature
and higher intellect, to lead her on to the most lofty fortunes. It is
probable, however, that had La Galigai continued to attend the Queen in
her original and obscure office of waiting-woman, Concini, who was of
better blood than herself, and who could not, moreover, be supposed to
find any attraction in the diminutive figure and sallow countenance of
his countrywoman, would never have been induced to consent to such an
alliance; but Leonora was now on the high road to wealth and honour,
while his own position was scarcely defined; and thus ere long the
consent of the Queen to their marriage was solicited by Concini himself.

Marie, who foresaw that by this arrangement she should keep both parties
in her service, and who, in the desolation of a disappointed spirit,
clung each day more closely to her foreign attendants, immediately
accorded the required permission; but it was far otherwise with the
King, who had no sooner been informed of the projected union than he
sternly forbade it, to the great indignation of his consort, who was
deeply mortified by this new interference with her personal household,
and saddened by the spectacle of her favourite's unaffected
wretchedness. In vain did the Queen expostulate, and, urged by Leonora
and her suitor, even entreat of Henry to relent; all her efforts to this
effect remained fruitless; and she was at length compelled to declare
to the sorrowing woman that she had no alternative save to submit to the
will of the King.

Such, however, was far from being the intention of the passionate
Italian. Too unattractive to entertain any hope from her own pleadings
with Henry himself, she once more turned in this new difficulty to
Madame de Verneuil, who, in order to display how little she had been
mortified or annoyed by the coldness of the Queen, and at the same time
to prove to her that where the earnest entreaties of the latter had
failed to produce any effect, her own expressed wish would suffice to
ensure success, immediately bade Leonora dry her eyes and prepare her
wedding-dress, as she would guarantee her prompt reception of the royal
consent upon one condition, and that one so easy of accomplishment that
she could not fail to fulfil it.

Marie de Medicis had been heard to declare that in the event of her
becoming the mother of a Dauphin, she would, at the earliest possible
period, dance a ballet in honour of the King, which should exceed in
magnificence every exhibition of the kind that had hitherto been
attempted; and the condition so lightly treated by the favourite was no
less than her own appearance in the royal ballet, should it indeed take
place. Even La Galigai herself was startled by so astounding a
proposition; but she soon discovered, from the resolute attitude assumed
by the Marquise, that her powerful intercession with the King was not
otherwise to be secured; and it was consequently with even less of hope
than apprehension that the agitated Mistress of the Robes kissed the
hand of Madame de Verneuil, and assured her that she would leave no
effort untried to obtain the consent of her royal mistress to her
wishes. But when she had withdrawn, and was traversing the gallery which
communicated with the apartments of Marie, she began to entertain
serious misgivings: the pretension of the Marquise was so monstrous,
that, even conscious as she was of the extent of her own influence over
her foster-sister, she almost dreaded to communicate the result of her
interview, and nearly despaired of success; but with the resolute
perseverance which formed so marked a feature in her character, she
resolved to brave the utmost displeasure of the Queen rather than forego
this last hope of a union with Concini. It was, nevertheless, drowned in
tears, and with a trembling heart, that she presented herself before
Marie as the voluntary bearer of this new and aggravated insult; while,
incomprehensible as it must appear in this age, whatever may have been
the arguments and entreaties of which she was clever enough to avail
herself, it is at least certain that they were ultimately successful;
and that she was authorized by the Queen to communicate to Madame de
Verneuil her Majesty's willingness to accede to her request, provided
that the Marquise pledged herself in return to perform her portion of
the contract.

That her partiality for her early friend induced Marie de Medicis to
make, in this instance, a most unbecoming concession, is certain; while
it is no less matter of record that, probably to prevent any opportunity
of retractation on the part of Madame de Verneuil, she lavished upon her
from that day the most flattering marks of friendship, and publicly
treated her with a distinction which was envied by many of the greatest
ladies at Court, even although it excited the censure of all.[141]

The comparative tranquillity which succeeded this new adjustment of the
differences between the Queen and the Marquise continued until the month
of September, on the 17th day of which Marie became the mother of a
Dauphin (subsequently Louis XIII), at the palace of Fontainebleau,
where, as had already been the case at the Louvre, the apartments of the
favourite adjoined her own. Nothing could exceed the delight of Henry IV
at the birth of his heir. He stood at the lower end of the Queen's
apartment, surrounded by the Princes of the Blood, to each of whom the
royal infant was successively presented; and this ceremony was no sooner
terminated than, bending over him with passionate fondness, he audibly
invoked a blessing upon his head; and then placing his sword in the tiny
hand as yet unable to grasp it, "May you use it, my son," he exclaimed,
"to the glory of God, and in defence of your crown and people." [142] He
next approached the bed of the Queen: "_M'amie_" he said tenderly,
"rejoice! God has given us what we asked." [143] Mezeray and Matthieu
both assert that the birth of the Dauphin was preceded by an earthquake,
which, with the usual superstition of the period, was afterwards
declared to have been a forewarning of the ceaseless wars by which
Europe was convulsed during his reign.[144]

Rejoicings were general throughout the whole country, and were augmented
by the fact that more than eighty years had elapsed since the birth of a
successor to the crown who had been eligible to bear the title of
Dauphin,--Francis II having come into the world before his father Henri
II was on the throne, who had himself only attained to that title after
the death of his elder brother Francis, who was born in 1517.[145] "Te
Deums" were chanted in all the churches; salvos of artillery were
discharged at the Arsenal; fireworks, bonfires, and illuminations made a
city of flame of Paris for several successive nights; while joyous
acclamations rent the air, and the gratified citizens congratulated each
other as they perambulated the streets as though each had experienced
some personal benefit. The fact that Anne of Austria, the daughter of
Philip III of Spain, was born only five days previous to the Dauphin,
was another source of delight to the French people, who regarded the
circumstance as an earnest of the future union of the two kingdoms, a
prophecy which was afterwards fulfilled by the marriage of the two
royal children.

We have already made more than one allusion to the belief in magic,
sorcery, and astrology which at this period had obtained in France, and
by which many, even of the most enlightened of her nobles and citizens,
suffered themselves to be trammelled and deluded; and however much we of
the present day may be inclined to pity or to despise so great a
weakness, we shall do well to remember that human progress during the
last sixty years has been more marked and certain than that which had
taken place in the lapse of the three previous centuries. It is true
that there were a few strong-minded individuals even at the period of
which we treat who refused to submit their reason to the wild and
illogical superstitions which were rife about them; but these formed a
very small portion of the aggregate population, and from the peasant in
his hovel to the monarch on his throne the plague-spot of credulity had
spread and festered, until it presented a formidable feature in the
history of the time. It is curious to remark that L'Etoile, the most
commonplace and unimaginative of chroniclers, who might well have been
expected in his realism to treat such phantasies as puerile and absurd,
seems to justify to his own mind the extreme penalties of the scaffold
and the stake as a fitting punishment for sorcerers and magicians:
declaring them, as he records in his usual terse and matter-of-fact
style, to be dictated by justice, and essential to the repression of an
intercourse between men and evil spirits.

Gabrielle d'Estrees was the dupe, if, indeed, not the victim, of her
firm faith in astrology. She had been assured that "a child would
prevent her from attaining the rank to which she aspired;" [146] and the
predisposition of an excited nervous system probably assisted the
verification of the prophecy. The old Cardinal de Bourbon,[147] whom the
Leaguers would fain have made their king, was seduced from his fidelity
to the illustrious race from which he sprang by his weak reliance upon
the predictions of soothsayers, who thus degraded him into the tool of
the wily Due de Guise;[148] while his nephew, Charles II, also a
Cardinal,[149] even more infatuated than himself, had been impelled to
believe that the disease which was rapidly sapping his existence was the
effect of the machinations of a Court lady by whom he had been
bewitched! Traitors found excuse for their treason in the assertion that
they had been deluded by false predictions or ensnared by magic;[150]
princes were governed in their political movements by astral
calculations;[151] a grave minister details with complacency, although
without comment, various anecdotes of the operation of the occult
sciences,[152] and even makes them a study; while a European monarch,
strong in the love of his people and his own bravery, suffers the
predictions of soothsayers and prophets to cloud his mind and to shake
his purposes, even while he declares his contempt for all such

That such was actually the case is proved by De Thou, who relates an
extraordinary speech made by the King at the Louvre, in 1599, on the
occasion of the promulgation of the Edict of Nantes, to the deputies of
the Parliament of Paris, in the course of which he declared that,
twenty-six years previously, when he was residing at the Court of
Charles IX, he was about to cast the dice with Henri de Lorraine, Duc de
Guise, his relative, amid a large circle of nobles, when at the instant
in which they were prepared to commence their game drops of blood
appeared upon the table, which were renewed without any apparent agency
as fast as they were wiped away. Each party carefully ascertained that
it could not proceed from any of the individuals present; and the
phenomenon was so frequently repeated that Henry, as he averred, at once
amazed and disturbed, declined to persevere in the pastime, considering
the circumstance as an evil omen.[154] Whatever may be the opinion of
the reader as to the actual cause of this apparent prodigy, it is at
least certain that it was verified by subsequent events, as well as the
extraordinary and multiplied prophecy that the King himself would meet
his death in a coach.

Under these circumstances, combined with the almost universal credulity
of the age and nation which he governed, it is scarcely matter of
surprise that Henri IV, on so momentous an occasion as the birth of his
son, should have sought, even while he feigned to disregard the result,
to learn the after-destiny of the royal infant; and accordingly, a few
days subsequently, he commanded M. de la Riviere,[155] who publicly
professed the science of judicial astrology, to draw the horoscope of
the Dauphin with all the accuracy of which the operation was
susceptible. The command was answered by an assurance from La Riviere
that the work was already in progress; but as another week passed by
without any communication from the seer, Henry became impatient, and
again summoned him to his presence in order to inquire the cause of
the delay.

"Sire," replied La Riviere, "I have abandoned the undertaking, as I am
reluctant to sport with a science whose secrets I have partially
forgotten, and which I have, moreover, frequently found defective."

"I am not to be deceived by so idle a pretext," said the King, who
readily detected that the alleged excuse was a mere subterfuge; "you
have no such scruples, but you have resolved not to reveal to me what
you have ascertained, lest I should discover the fallacy of your
pretended knowledge or be angered by your prediction. Whatever may be
the cause of your hesitation, however, I am resolved that you shall
speak; and I command you, upon pain of my displeasure, to do so

Still La Riviere excused himself, until perceiving that it would be
dangerous to persevere in his pertinacity, he at length reluctantly
replied: "Sire, your son will live to manhood, and will reign longer
than yourself; but he will resemble you in no one particular. He will
indulge his own opinions and caprices, and sometimes those of others.
During his rule it will be safer to think than to speak. Ruin threatens
your ancient institutions; all your measures will be overthrown. He will
accomplish great deeds; will be fortunate in his undertakings; and will
become the theme of all Christendom. He will have issue; and after his
death more heavy troubles will ensue. This is all that you shall know
from me, and even this is more than I had proposed to tell you."

The King remained for a time silent and thoughtful, after which he said
coldly: "You allude to the Huguenots, I see that well; but you only talk
thus because you have their interests at heart."

"Explain my meaning as you please," was the abrupt retort; "but you
shall learn nothing more from me." And so saying, the uncompromising
astrologer made a hurried salutation to the monarch and withdrew.[156]

A fortnight after this extraordinary scene another event took place at
the Louvre sufficiently interesting to Henry to wean his thoughts for a
time even from the foreshadowed future of his successor. In an apartment
immediately contiguous to that of the still convalescent Queen, Madame
de Verneuil became in her turn the mother of a son, who was baptized
with great ceremony, and received the names of Gaston Henri;[157] and
this birth, which should have covered the King with shame, and roused
the nation to indignation, when the circumstances already detailed are
considered, was but the pretext for new rejoicings.

On the 27th of October the Dauphin made his public entry into Paris. The
infant Prince occupied a sumptuous cradle presented to him by the Grand
Duchess of Florence; and beside him, in an open litter, sat Madame de
Montglat, his gouvernante, and the royal nurse. The provost of the
merchants and the metropolitan sheriffs met him at some distance from
the gates, and harangued him at considerable length; and Madame de
Montglat having replied in his name to the oration, the _cortege_
proceeded to the house of Zamet. Two days subsequently he was conveyed
in the same state to St. Germain-en-Laye, where, in order that the
people might see him with greater facility, the nurse carried him in her
arms. The enthusiasm of the crowd, by which his litter was constantly

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