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

Part 5 out of 7

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letters, by which he instantly became convinced of the treason meditated
against his royal master. Indignant at the discovery which supervened,
he suffered his displeasure to reach the ears of the culprit, who
forthwith quitted the capital, and hastened to secure himself from
arrest in Auvergne, of which province he was the governor, and where he
made instant preparations to leave the kingdom should such a step become

It was consequently in vain that the King, when informed of the
circumstance, despatched the Sieur d'Escures[257] to summon the Count
to his presence in order that he might justify himself. D'Auvergne
resolutely refused to quit his retreat until he had received a formal
promise from the sovereign that he should be absolved from all blame of
whatever description, and received by his Majesty with his accustomed
favour, alleging as a pretext for making this demand, that he was on bad
terms with all the Princes of the Blood, with the Grand Equerry, and
even with his sister, Madame de Verneuil, and that he could not make
head against such a host of enemies except he were supported by
the King.

The expostulations of the royal messenger were fruitless, the Count
being more fully alive to the danger of his position than M. d'Escures
himself; and to every argument and denegation of the anxious envoy he
consequently replied by saying that it was useless to urge him to
compromise his safety while he felt certain that his ruin had been
decided upon, a fact of which he was convinced from the circumstance of
his having received no letter from any of the intimate friends of the
King since he had withdrawn from the Court, while he was sufficiently
acquainted with the bad disposition of Madame de Verneuil to be assured
that in the event of her being enabled to effect a reconciliation with
the monarch at his expense, she would not scruple to sacrifice his
interests to her own.

The embassy of M. d'Escures thus signally failed, and instead of
furthering the purpose for which it was intended, it produced a totally
opposite effect, as, warned by this attempt to regain possession of his
person, it induced M. d'Auvergne to adopt the most extraordinary
precautions. He from that moment not only refused to enter any town or
village where he might be surprised, but he also declined to hold any
intercourse even with his most familiar friends save on a highway, or in
some plain or forest where the means of escape were easy; and when
hunting, a sport to which he was passionately attached, and which was at
that period the only relaxation he could enjoy with safety, he caused
videttes to be stationed upon the surrounding heights, who were
instructed to apprise him by a concerted signal of the approach of

All his caution was, however, vain, his capture being an object of too
much importance to the King, at the present conjuncture, to be readily
relinquished, and accordingly it was at length effected by a stratagem.
By the advice of the Duc de Sully, this enterprise was entrusted to M.
Murat,[259] who associated with himself M. de Nerestan[260] and the
Vicomte de Pont-Chateau, who, by his instructions, paid several visits
to the Count at his chateau of Borderon near Clermont, without,
however, inducing him to quit its walls.

These gentlemen, nevertheless, made themselves so agreeable to the
self-exiled conspirator, and listened so patiently to his complaints,
that their society became at last necessary to him, and so thoroughly
did they succeed in gaining his confidence that they finally experienced
little difficulty in persuading him to be present at a review of the
light cavalry of the Duc de Vendome, of which he was the
colonel-general, and which was about to take place in a little plain
between Clermont and Nonant. He accordingly proceeded to the spot with
only two attendants, and he was no sooner seen approaching than M. de
Nerestan and the Vicomte de Pont-Chateau advanced from the ranks,
apparently to welcome him, but on reaching his side, the latter seized
the bridle of his horse, while his companion arrested him in the name of
the King.[261] Resistance was of course impossible, and thus the Comte
d'Auvergne, despite all his precautions, found himself a prisoner.

L'Etoile,[262] with a _naivete_ well calculated to provoke a smile of
pity, calls this a "brave" and subtle stratagem; on its subtlety we may
be silent, but we leave alike its courage and its honesty to the
judgment of our readers. Sully admits[263] that not only the two
captors, but even Murat himself, who had an ancient grudge against
D'Auvergne, spared no pains or deceit to insinuate themselves into his
confidence, while it is equally certain that it was to his perfect faith
in their professions that he owed his capture.

Having secured their prisoner, M. Murat and his coadjutors caused him to
deliver up his sword, and to exchange the powerful charger upon which he
was mounted for a road-hack that had been prepared for him, upon which
he proceeded under a strong guard to Briare, whence he was conducted in
a carriage to Montargis, and, finally, conveyed in a boat to Paris.
During this enforced journey his gaiety never deserted him, nor did he
appear to entertain the slightest apprehension as to the result of his
imprisonment; throughout the whole of the way he jested, drank, and
laughed, as though his return to the capital had been voluntary; and
when he was finally met at the gates of the city by M. de la Chevalerie,
the lieutenant-governor of the Bastille, he was in such exuberant
spirits that the astounded official deemed it expedient to remind him
that they had not come together to dance a ballet, but for a totally
different purpose.[264]

It was only when he found himself conducted to the very chamber which
had been occupied by the Marechal de Biron previous to his execution,
that a shade of anguish passed over the features of the Count. He could
not but remember that the traitor-Duke, who had rendered great and good
service to his sovereign, had suffered for the same crime of which he
was in his turn accused without any such plea for mercy, and it is
therefore scarcely surprising that he should have been startled upon
finding himself installed as the successor of the condemned marshal.

M. d'Auvergne was not, however, of a temperament long to yield to gloomy
ideas, and consequently, while his unhappy wife[265] was lost in tears,
and endeavouring by every exertion in her power to save him from a fate
which appeared inevitable, he availed himself to the utmost of the
leniency of his jailors, and indulged in every luxury and amusement
which he was enabled to command. Agonised by her apprehensions, the
unhappy Countess at length resolved to throw herself at the feet of the
King, where, with a humility which contrasted strangely with the
unbending arrogance of her sister-in-law, Madame de Verneuil, she
besought in the most touching terms that Henry would spare the life of
her husband, and once more pardon his crime. Her earnest supplications
evidently affected the King, while Marie de Medicis, who was present,
wept with the heart-broken wife, and warmly seconded her petition, but
the monarch, who probably feared the result of such an act of mercy,
having raised her from her knees with a gentle kindness which made her
tears flow afresh, led her to the side of the Queen, upon whose arm he
placed his hand as he said firmly: "Deeply, Madame, do I pity you, and
sympathize in your suffering, but were I to grant what you ask, I must
necessarily admit my wife to be impure, my son a bastard, and my kingdom
the prey of my enemies."

All, therefore, that the Countess could obtain was the royal permission
to communicate with her husband, a concession of which she hastened to
take advantage; when, in reply to her anxious inquiry as to what he
desired of her, she received by her messenger the heartless reply that
she might send him a good stock of cheese and mustard, and that she need
not trouble herself about anything else.[266]

The intercepted letters of the Comte d'Auvergne having also implicated
his stepfather M. d'Entragues, and his sister Madame de Verneuil, both
were subsequently arrested; the former by the Provost Defunctis[267] in
his castle of Marcoussis, and the latter at her residence in the
Faubourg St. Germain; while her children were taken from her, and sent,
under a proper escort, to the palace of St. Germain-en-Laye. So
important did it, moreover, appear to the French ministers to ascertain
the exact extent of the conspiracy, that the Provost was accompanied to
Marcoussis by M. de Lomenie, in order that a search might be instituted
upon the premises; the result of which tended to prove, beyond all
possibility of doubt, that the original engagement delivered by the
father of the Marquise to the sovereign had, in fact, not been restored,
but had been skilfully copied by some able pen; while the importance
which was still attached to the real document by the family of Madame de
Verneuil may be gathered from the fact that it was discovered by the
Secretary of State in a glass bottle, carefully sealed and enclosed
within a second, which was laid upon a heap of cotton and built up in a
wall of one of the apartments. Nor was this the only object of
importance found in the possession of M. d'Entragues; as, together with
the promise of marriage which he had professed to restore to the King,
M. de Lomenie likewise discovered, secreted with equal care, sundry
letters, the treaty between Philip of Spain and the conspirators, and
the cypher which had been employed in their correspondence.[268]

From these documents it was ascertained that the King of Spain had
stipulated on oath that, on the condition of Madame de Verneuil
confiding her son to his guardianship, he should be immediately
recognized as Dauphin of France, and heir to the throne of that kingdom;
while five fortresses in the territory of Portugal should be placed at
his disposal, and subjected to his authority, as places of refuge should
such a precaution become necessary. A similar provision was, moreover,
made for the Marquise herself; and an income amounting to twenty
thousand pounds English was also promised to the quasi-Prince for the
support of his household.

Nor was this domestic arrangement by any means the most important
feature of the conspiracy, as appointments, both civil and military,
involving considerable pecuniary advantages, were also promised to the
Comte d'Auvergne and his stepfather; and a simultaneous invasion was
arranged by the Duke of Savoy in Provence, the Conde de Fuentes[269] in
Burgundy, and Spinola[270] in Champagne.

On the 11th of December M. d'Entragues was conveyed in a close carriage
to the prison of the Conciergerie at Paris, accompanied by his son M. de
Marcoussis on horseback, but without a single attendant; and he was in
confinement for a considerable time before he was allowed either fire or
light; while on the same day, Madame de Verneuil was placed under the
charge of M. d'Arques, the Lieutenant of Police, who was informed that
he must answer with his life for her safe-keeping, and who accordingly
garrisoned her residence with a strong body of his guards and archers.

The Comte d'Entragues was no sooner incarcerated, than his wife,[271]
following the example of her daughter-in-law, obtained an audience of
Henry, in order to implore the pardon of her husband; but it was
remarked that, earnest as she was in his behalf, she never once, during
the whole of the interview, made the slightest allusion either to the
Comte d'Auvergne or Madame de Verneuil; doubtless feeling that in the
one case the well-known respect of the King for the blood of the Valois,
and in the other his passion for the Marquise, would plead more
powerfully in their behalf than the most emphatic entreaties. Like that
of the Comtesse d'Auvergne, her attempt, however, proved abortive, save
that Henry accorded to her prayers a mitigation of the rigour with which
her husband had hitherto been treated.

Meanwhile Madame de Verneuil, far from imitating the humility of her
relatives, openly declared that, whatever might be the result to
herself, she should never regret the measures which she had adopted to
obtain justice for herself and her children; and when on one occasion
she was urged to make the concessions by which alone she could hope for
pardon, she answered haughtily: "I have no fear of death; on the
contrary, I shall welcome it. If the King takes my life, it will at
least be allowed that he sacrificed his own wife, for I was Queen before
the Italian woman. I ask but three favours from his Majesty: pardon for
my father, a rope for my brother, and justice for myself." [272]

Her reason for this expression may be found in the fact that during
three examinations which he underwent the Comte d'Auvergne finally
acknowledged everything, and threw the whole blame upon the Marquise;
feeling convinced that, under every circumstance, her life was safe;
although he had previously (placing the most entire reliance on the
good-faith and secrecy of M. de Chevillard,[273] to whom he had, in
conjunction with his sister, confided the original treaty with Spain,
and never apprehending the discovery of the documents deposited at
Marcoussis), declared his innocence in the most solemn manner; and he
even concluded his address to the commissioners by saying: "Gentlemen,
show me one line of writing by which I can be convicted of having
entered into any treaty, either with the King of Spain or his
ambassador, and I will immediately sign beneath it my own sentence of
death, and condemn myself to be quartered alive."

Nor was the confidence placed by M. d'Auvergne in his friend misplaced;
for when Chevillard was in his turn taken to the Bastille as his
accomplice, he so carefully concealed the treaty in the skirt of his
doublet that it escaped the search of the officials; and on seeing
himself treated as a prisoner of state, he contrived by degrees to
swallow it in his soup, in order that it should not afterwards fall
into their hands in the event of his condemnation.[274]

The indignation of the Marquise may consequently be imagined, when,
after such a declaration as that which he had originally made, she
ascertained that the Count had not only confessed his guilt, but that he
had, moreover, revealed the most minute details of the plot; and in
order to convince the King that he placed himself entirely at his mercy,
had even given up to him the mutual promise made between himself and the
Dues de Bouillon and de Biron on the occasion of the previous
conspiracy. Her arrogance was also encouraged by the fact that Henry,
anxious to find some pretext for pardoning her treachery, sent secretly
to inform her that if she would confess her fault and ask his
forgiveness, it should be granted in consideration of the past, and from
regard for their children; to which message the Marquise vouchsafed no
further reply than that those who had committed no crime required no
pardon; and in addition to this impertinence, on being informed that
some of her friends, anxious to save her in spite of her own obstinacy,
had asserted that she had solicited the clemency of the monarch, she
bitterly reproached them for their interference, declaring that they
were liars and traitors, and that she would die rather than submit to
such a humiliation.[275]

During the exile of the Marquise, the King, whose passion for
Mademoiselle de Bueil had begun to decrease, and who discovered that
mere personal beauty offered no equivalent for the wit and fascinations
of his old favourite, resolved to provide for her, as he had previously
done for Mademoiselle de la Bourdaisiere, by bestowing her upon a
husband; and he accordingly effected her marriage with Henri de Harlay,
Comte de Chesy, a young noble whose poverty, as well as his want of
Court influence, gave every security for his ready submission to all the
exactions of his royal master.[276]

The monarch, whom absence had thus only sufficed to render more devoted
than ever to the Marquise, and who had resolved under all circumstances
to pardon her, continued to employ every method in his power to induce
her to avow her error, although in searching her papers numerous letters
had been discovered which revealed an amount of infidelity on her part
that should have awakened his pride, and induced him to abandon her to
her fate; and at length, despairing that any minor influence would
suffice to alter her resolution, and to lower her pride, he instructed
M. de Sully to see her, and if possible to convince her of the injury
which she was doing to her own cause by the obstinacy with which she
rejected the suggestions of the King.

The minister had no alternative save obedience; and he consequently
presented himself at the residence of Madame de Verneuil, whom he found
as self-possessed and as self-confident as in the palmiest days of her
prosperity. Instead of concessions she made conditions, and complained
loudly and arrogantly of the proceedings of the sovereign; by whom she
declared that she had been outraged in her honour, and from whom she
sought redress rather than indulgence. This tirade was seasoned by
professions of piety and repentance which were appreciated at their real
value by her listener; who, having suffered her to exhaust herself by
her own vehemence, instead of temporizing with her vanity as her friends
had previously done, took up the subject in his turn, and told her that
she would do well to remember that she was at that moment a prisoner
under suspicion of treason, and that she might consider herself very
fortunate if she were permitted to expiate her crime by self-exile to
any country except Spain; bidding her remark, moreover, that this lenity
could not now be exhibited towards her until she had undergone a
criminal examination, and demanded the pardon of the King for her

M. de Sully next proceeded to upbraid her with her unbecoming conduct
towards the Queen; assuring her that every word or act of disrespect of
which any were guilty towards the wife of the sovereign was an offence
against his own person, and was likely to entail upon the culprit a very
severe penalty. He then reproached her for her indecent expressions; and
especially for her having more than once declared that had she not been
treated with injustice, she should have been in the place occupied by
"the fat banker's daughter;" [277] and finally, he reprimanded her very
severely for the impertinent and absurd affectation with which she had
presumed to place herself upon a level with her royal mistress, and her
children upon a par with the Dauphin of France; reminding her, moreover,
that the perpetual disunion of their Majesties was to be solely
attributed to her malignant and malicious insinuations, and advising her
to lose no time in requesting permission to throw herself at the feet of
the Queen, to entreat her pardon for the past and her indulgence for
the future.

To this harangue, so different from the conciliatory and obsequious
discourse of her partisans, Madame de Verneuil listened without any
display of impatience, but with an ostentatious weariness which was
intended to impress upon the minister the utter inutility of his
interference; and when he paused to take breath, she assured him with a
placid smile that she was obliged by his advice, but that she must have
time to reflect before she could decide upon such a measure. M. de
Sully, however, was not to be deceived by this well-acted composure; he
had not carefully studied the character of the Marquise without
perceiving how ill she brooked control or remonstrance; and,
accordingly, she had no sooner ceased speaking than he resumed the
conversation by expatiating upon the enormity of her conduct in
affecting the sudden devotion behind which she had seen fit to entrench
herself, while she was daily indulging alike her jealousy and her hatred
by endeavouring not only to ruin the domestic happiness of the monarch,
but even the interests of his kingdom; and when his offended listener
remarked, with chilling haughtiness, that he was in no position to
impugn her sincerity, he only answered the intended rebuke by persisting
that her assumed piety was a mere grimace, which could not impose upon
any man of sense; a fact which he forthwith proved by detailing all her
past career, and thus convincing her that no one incident of her
licentious life had remained a mystery to him.

"Can you now tell me," he asked, "that these adventures existed only in
the jealous imagination of the King, as you have so often assured his
Majesty himself? And will you persist in denying that you have deceived
him in the most unblushing manner? Believe me, Madame, if you had indeed
become penitent for your past errors, and had, from a sincere return to
God, desired to withdraw from the Court, you would at once have obtained
permission to do so with honour to yourself; but you have simply acted a
part, and that so unskilfully as to have deceived no one."

At this period of the interview Madame de Verneuil could not wholly
suppress her emotion, but she controlled it sufficiently to reply only
by a condescending bow, and the exclamation of, "Proceed, M. le

"I will do so, Madame," said M. de Sully, "by a transition from
remonstrance to inquiry. Have you any legitimate subject of complaint
which you conceive to warrant your failure of respect towards their

"If this question was dictated to you by the King, Monsieur," was the
proud reply, "he was wrong to put it, as he, better than any other
person, could himself have decided; and if it be your own suggestion you
are no less so, since whatever may be its nature, it is beyond your
power to apply the remedy."

"Then, Madame, it only remains for me to be informed of what you desire
from his Majesty."

"That which I am aware will prove less acceptable to the King than to
myself, M. le Ministre; but which I nevertheless persist in demanding,
since I am authorized by your inquiry to repeat my request. I desire
immediate permission to leave France with my parents, my brother, and my
children, and to take up my permanent residence in some other country,
where I shall have excited less jealousy and less malevolence than in
this; and I include my brother in this voluntary expatriation because I
now have reason to believe that he is suffering entirely for my sake."

Sully was startled: he could not place faith in her sincerity, and he
consequently induced her to repeat her request more than once; until she
at length added a condition which convinced him that she was indeed
perfectly serious in the desire that she expressed.

"Do not, however, imagine, Monsieur," she said, with a significant
smile, "that I have any intention of leaving the kingdom, and taking up
my abode with strangers, with the slightest prospect of dying by hunger.
I am by no means inclined to afford such a gratification to the Queen,
who would doubtlessly rejoice to learn that this had been the close of
my career. I must have an income of a hundred thousand francs, fully and
satisfactorily secured to me in land, before I leave France; and this is
a mere trifle compared with what I have a legal right to demand from
the King."

"I shall submit your proposition to his Majesty, Madame," said the
minister as he rose to take his leave; "and will shortly acquaint you
with the result."

Greatly to the disappointment of M. de Sully, however, he found Henry
decidedly averse to the departure of Madame de Verneuil; nor could all
the arguments by which he endeavoured to convince the infatuated monarch
that the self-exile of the Marquise was calculated to ensure his own
future tranquillity, avail to overcome his distaste to the
proposal.[278] He was weary of his purely sensual intercourse with
Madame de Moret, whose extreme facility had caused him from the first to
attach but little value to her possession; while her total want of
intellect and knowledge of the world continually caused him to remember
with regret the dazzling although dangerous qualities of her
predecessor. Marie de Medicis, moreover, who had originally looked with
complacency upon his _liaison_ with Mademoiselle de Bueil, rejoicing in
any event which tended to estrange his affections from the Marquise,
had, since her melodramatic marriage and her accession of rank, begun to
entertain apprehensions that another formidable rival was about to
embitter her future life; while the reproaches which she constantly
addressed to the monarch, and to which he was compelled to submit, on
the subject of a woman who had merely pleased his fancy without touching
his heart, were another cause of irritation, and only tended to make him
look back upon the past with an ardent longing to repair it. Thus he
continued to employ all his most intimate associates in an attempt to
urge the Marquise to make such concessions as would enable him to pardon
her, with the earnestness of a repentant lover rather than the clemency
of an indulgent sovereign; and when the stern minister so signally
failed to convince her reason by his representations, the King
endeavoured to arouse her vanity and self-interest by the flatteries and
inferences of the more courtly Bassompierre, La Varenne,[279] Sigogne,
and others in whom he placed confidence; but all this ill-disguised
anxiety only served to convince the wily favourite that she should prove
victorious in the struggle, for since Henry could not bring himself to
consent to her expatriation, there was no probability that he would ever
be induced to take her life.

And the astute Marquise judged rightly: for she was not only safe
herself, but the palladium of her family. The King was no longer young;
he had become satiated with the tame and facile pleasures for which he
was indebted to his sovereign rank; and although opposition and
haughtiness in a wife angered and disgusted him, there was a piquancy
and novelty in the defiance of a mistress by which he was alike amused
and interested. He could calculate upon the extent to which the Queen
would venture to indulge her displeasure; but he found himself quite
unable to adjudge the limits of Madame de Verneuil's daring; and thus
his passion was constantly stimulated by curiosity. In her hours of
fascination she delighted his fancy, and in those of irritation she
excited his astonishment. Like the ocean, she assumed a new aspect every
hour; and to this "infinite variety" she was in all probability indebted
for the duration of her empire over the sensual and selfish affections
of her royal lover.

Conscious of her power, the Marquise continued inexorable; and finally,
Henry found himself compelled to include her in the public accusation
brought against the other conspirators, and to issue an order to the
Parliament, as the supreme criminal tribunal of the kingdom, to commence
without further delay the prosecution of the delinquents.

A new anxiety at this time divided the attention of the King with that
which he felt for the vindication of the favourite. His permission had
been asked by the Huguenots to hold a meeting at Chatellerault, and this
he had at once conceded; but circumstances having arisen which induced
the Council to apprehend that the intrigues of the Duc de Bouillon,
supported by MM. de la Tremouille, and du Plessis-Mornay,[280] were
about to involve the kingdom in new troubles, M. de Sully proceeded to
Poitou under pretext of taking possession of his new government, and by
his unexpected appearance on the scene of action counteracted the
project of the conspirators; while a short time subsequently the Due de
la Tremouille fell into a rapid decline which terminated his existence
at the early age of thirty-four years, and deprived the reform party of
one of their most able and zealous leaders.

Meanwhile, amid all the dissensions, both political and domestic, by
which Henri IV had latterly been harassed, his earnest desire to improve
and embellish his good city of Paris and its adjacent palaces had
continued unabated. Henri III, during whose reign the Pont Neuf had been
commenced, had only lived long enough to see two of its arches
constructed, and the piles destined to support the remainder raised
above the river; this undertaking was now completed, and numerous
workmen were also constantly employed on the galleries of the Louvre,
and at the chateaux of St. Germain-en-Laye, Fontainebleau, and Monceaux;
the latter of which, as we have already stated, the monarch had
presented to the Queen on her arrival in Paris; while, emulating the
royal example, the great nobles and capitalists of the city were
building on all sides, and increasing alike the extent and splendour of
the metropolis.[281] It was at this period that Henry joined the
Faubourg St. Germain to the city, and caused it to be paved; constructed
the Place Royale; repaired the Hotel de St. Louis for the purpose of
converting it into a plague-hospital; and commenced building the Temple

Other great works were also undertaken throughout the kingdom; the
junction of the Garonne with the Aude, an attempt which presented
considerable difficulty and which was only terminated during the reign
of Louis XIV, was vigorously commenced; other rivers, hitherto
comparatively useless, were rendered navigable; and the canal of Briare,
with its two-and-thirty locks, although not more than half completed at
the death of Henry, had already cost the enormous sum of three hundred
thousand crowns. Numerous means of communication were established by
highways which had not previously existed; bridges were built, and roads
repaired; taxes which paralyzed the manufactures of the country were
remitted; the fabrication of tapestried hangings wrought in worsted,
silk, and gold, was earnestly encouraged; mulberry plantations were
formed, and the foundation laid for the production of the costly silks
and velvets for which Lyons has ever since been so famous. An imitation
of the celebrated Venetian glass was also introduced with great success;
and, above all, even in the midst of these expensive undertakings, a tax
of four annual millions of francs, hitherto raised by the customs upon
the different classes of citizens, was altogether abolished. Hope and
energy were alike aroused by so vigorous a measure; and thus the people
ceased to murmur, and were ready to acknowledge that the King had indeed
begun to verify his celebrated declaration that "if he were spared,
there should not exist a workman within his realm who was not enabled to
cook a fowl upon the Sunday." [283]


[210] Gabrielle-Angelique de Bourbon, who was declared legitimate as her
brother had previously been, married in 1622 Bernard de la Valette et de
Foix, Duc d'Epernon, and died in childbed in April 1627.

[211] Matthieu, _Hist. de Henri IV_, vol. ii. book vi. p. 446.

[212] Raimond de Comminge, Sieur de Sobole, and his brother, noblemen of

[213] Antoine, Seigneur d'Arquien, was Governor of Calais, Sancerre,

[214] Jean Henri, Duc de Deux-Ponts, who married Catherine de Rohan, was
descended from a branch of the royal house of Bavaria.

[215] Christophe de Harlai, Comte de Beaumont, Governor of Orleans. He
died in 1615.

[216] L'Etoile, vol. iii. p. 94.

[217] Capefigue, vol. viii. p. 163.

[218] Sully, _Mem_. vol. iv. pp. 197-199.

[219] L'Etoile, vol. iii. pp. 88, 89.

[220] Sully, _Mem_. vol. v. pp. 45-50.

[221] Sully, _Mem_. vol. v. pp. 49-53. Dreux du Radier, vol. vi. pp.
90-92. Saint-Edme, pp. 222, 223

[222] Capefigue, vol. viii. p. 130.

[223] Richelieu, _La Mere et le Fils_, vol. i. p. 17.

[224] Sully, _Mem_. vol. v. pp. 54, 55.

[225] Bernardin Gigault de Bellefonds.

[226] Hercule de Rohan, Duc de Montbazon.

[227] Francois d'Orleans-Longueville, Comte de St. Pol, Governor of

[228] Arnaud de Sorbin, Bishop of Nevers, was justly celebrated both for
his piety and his learning. He was originally curate of the parish of
Ste. Foy, where he had been placed by Georges, Cardinal d'Armagnac,
Bishop of Toulouse, who afterwards removed him from that parish, in
order to keep him near his person. The Cardinal d'Este, aware of his
great worth and extraordinary talents, conferred upon him the rank of
doctor of divinity of the cathedral of Auch, the capital of his
archbishopric; but he did not retain it long, having been recalled by
his first patron to assume the same position in his church at Toulouse,
where he was universally loved and respected. He was successively
lecturer to Charles IX, Henri III, and Henri IV, and was consecrated, on
his elevation to the see of Nevers, by the Cardinal de Gondy, Bishop of
Paris. Monseigneur de Sorbin died in Nevers, on the 1st of May 1606.

[229] L'Etoile, vol. iii. pp. 152-154.

[230] Cayet, _Chron. Septen_., 1604.

[231] Emeric Gobier, Sieur de Barrault, ambassador at the Court of

[232] Antoine de Silly, Damoiseau de Commercy, Comte de Rochepot, knight
of the Order of the Holy Ghost.

[233] Antoine de Brienne de Lomenie, Seigneur de la Ville-aux-Clercs,
ambassador-extraordinary to England in 1595, and secretary of state, was
the representative of a distinguished family of Berry, whose father,
Marechal de Brienne, registrar of the council, fell a victim to the
massacre of St. Bartholomew. He himself died in 1628, bequeathing to the
royal library three hundred and forty manuscript volumes, known as the
_Manuscripts of Brienne_.

[234] The Prevots des Marechaux were magistrates whose duties consisted
in trying vagrants and persons who could not prove their identity,
culprits previously sentenced to corporal punishment, banishment, or
fine, soldiers, highway robbers, and the members of illicit societies.
The Prevots des Marechaux took the title of Equerry-Councillors of the
King, and their place on the bench of the criminal court was immediately
after that of the presiding judge.

[235] L'Etoile, vol. iii. pp. 185-193. Matthieu, _Hist, des Derniers
Troubles,_ book ii. pp. 435-437. Sully, _Mem._ vol. v. pp. 109-121.
Mezeray, vol. x. pp. 254-257.

[236] Sully, _Mem_. vol. v. p. 137.

[237] Sully, _Mem_. vol. v. pp. 139-142.

[238] The French term which I have ventured thus freely to translate is
_pot-de-vin_, and literally signifies a sum of money given to a third
party who is able to ensure the success of a bargain or negotiation of
whatever nature. Thus, for example, in the granting and acceptance of a
lease which has been effected by such means, the contracting parties
jointly pay down the stipulated amount, irrespective of the value of the
lease, for the benefit of the person through whose agency it has been
concluded; while so general is the system throughout the country, even
to this day, that domestic servants give a _pot-de-vin_ to the
individual, to whom they are indebted for their situation, in which
instance, however, the bribe or recompense is also called a _denier
a Dieu_.

[239] Florent d'Argouges, Treasurer of the Queen's Household. His son
was first president of the Parliament of Brittany, and subsequently
councillor of state and member of the Privy Council.

[240] Sully, _Mem_. vol. v. pp. 144-146.

[241] Sully, _Mem_. vol. v. pp. 147-149.

[242] Sully, _Mem_. vol. v. p. 155.

[243] Saint-Edme, vol. ii. p. 223.

[244] In order to convey some idea of the effect produced by the
ostensible devotion of Madame de Verneuil upon those who gave her credit
for sincerity, we need only quote a passage in the dedication of
D'Hemery d'Amboise to his translation of the works of Gregoire de Tours,
in which, addressing himself to the Marquise, he gravely says "that she
had deduced from the inspired writings of the fathers their salutary
doctrine; and that she practised it so faithfully, that her firmness had
triumphed over her adversities, and her merit exceeded her happiness."
"Your life," he adds, with the same unblushing sycophancy, "serves as a
mirror for the most pious, and compels the admiration of all who see so
holy and resolute a determination exerted at an age that has scarcely
attained its prime; and at which, despising mere personal beauty, and
the other precious advantages with which you have been richly endowed by
Heaven, you have devoted the course of your best years to the
contemplation of the marvels of God, joining spiritual meditation to
good works."--Dreux du Radier, vol. vi. pp. 94, 95.

[245] Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mere et du Fils_, vol. i. pp. 8-11.

[246] MSS. Dupuy, vol. 407.

[247] Andre Hurault, Seigneur de Maisse, had been ambassador to Venice
under both Henri III and Henri IV, and in his official capacity had
frequent disputes with the nuncios of Sixtus V and Clement VIII, in
consequence of which those prelates exerted all their influence to
injure his interests at the Court of Rome. Andre Morosin mentions M. de
Maisse as an able and far-seeing man, _sagaci admodum ingenio_. In 1595
Henri IV again sent him to Venice to offer his thanks to the Senate for
the extraordinary embassy which they had forwarded to him during the
previous year; and as M. de Maisse travelled on this occasion with
Cardinal Duperron, who was instructed to pass by that city on his way to
Rome, great alarm was created in the mind of the Pope that the French
ambassador was about to visit the Papal Court in his company, an event
which he deprecated from the distrust which he felt of the designs of an
individual who had already frustrated the measures of his accredited
agents. His Holiness was, however, _quitte pour la peur_, the
instructions of M. de Maisse having restricted him to his
Venetian mission.

[248] Louis Potier de Gevres, Secretary of State. It is from him that
the branch of his family still bearing the name of Gevres is descended,
while that of Novion owes its origin to his elder brother, Nicolas
Potier de Blancmenil.

[249] Mezeray, vol. x. p. 261.

[250] _Le Laboureur sur Castelnau_.

[251] Jacqueline de Bueil, subsequently Comtesse de Moret, was the
daughter of Claude de Bueil, Seigneur de Courcillon and La Machere, and
of Catherine de Monteclu, who both died in 1596. The family of Bueil
traced their descent from Jean, the first of the name, Sieur de Bueil in
Touraine, who was equerry of honour to Charles-le-Bel in 1321.

[252] Dreux du Radier, vol. vi. p. 97.

[253] Wraxall, vol. v. pp. 356, 357.

[254] Abraham-Nicolas Amelot de la Houssaye, was born at Orleans in the
year 1634, and passed nearly all his life in composing works of history
and in translating the historians by whom he had been preceded. His
principal productions are _A History of the Government of Venice;
Historical, Political, Critical, and Literary Memoirs_; and translations
of the _History of the Council of Trent_, by Fra Paolo; of the _Prince_
by Machiavelli; and of the _Annals of Tacitus_. He died in 1706.

[255] Mezeray, vol. x. pp. 261, 262.

[256] Sully, _Mem_. vol. iv. p. 125.

[257] Pierre Fougeuse, Sieur d'Escures.

[258] Daniel, vol. vii. pp. 453, 454.

[259] Treasurer of the war department, and lieutenant-general at Riom.

[260] Philibert de Nerestan, knight of Malta, and captain of the
bodyguard of Henri IV, was as celebrated for his admirable qualities of
mind and heart as for the antiquity of his birth. He was grand master of
the Orders of St. Lazarus and Notre-Dame du Mont Carmel, the latter of
which was instituted by the sovereign at his intercession.

[261] Matthieu, _Hist, des Derniers Troubles_, book ii. p. 438.
Perefixe, vol. ii. pp. 406, 407.

[262] L'Etoile, vol. iii. p. 242.

[263] _Memoires,_ vol. v. p. 185.

[264] L'Etoile, vol. iii. p. 243.

[265] Charlotte, eldest daughter of Henri, Duc de Montmorency, High
Constable of France.

[266] L'Etoile, vol. iii. pp. 247-249.

[267] Jean Defunctis, Lieutenant criminal of the Provost of
Paris.--_Hist. Chron. de la Chancell. de France_, p. 316.

[268] Wraxall, Note quoted from _Le Laboureur sur Castelnau_, vol. v. p.

[269] Pedro Henriques Azevedo, Conde de Fuentes, succeeded to the
command of the Spanish army on the demise of the Archduke Ernest.

[270] Ambroise Spinola, Marques de los Balbazez, one of the most
distinguished generals of the seventeenth century, was the descendant of
an illustrious family of Geneva, whose branches spread alike over Italy
and Spain. He was born in 1569, and first bore arms in Flanders. In
1604, being in command of the army, he took Ostend, and in consequence
of his important services was appointed General of the Spanish troops in
the Low Countries. When opposed to Prince Maurice of Nassau, he
counterbalanced alike his renown and his success; and in 1629, when
serving in Piedmont, he took the town of Casal, but died in the
following year of vexation at having failed to reduce the fortress of
that city.

[271] Marie Touchet, Comtesse d'Entragues, was the daughter of an
apothecary at Orleans; who, on the occasion of a visit of Charles IX to
that city, obtained permission to see his Majesty dine in public, where
her extreme beauty so impressed the Monarch that he inquired her name,
and at the close of the repast despatched M. de Latour, the master of
his wardrobe, to desire her attendance in his closet. The negotiation
did not prove a difficult one; as the lady, although at the moment
strongly attached to M. de Monluc, the brother of the Bishop of Valence,
could not resist the prestige of royalty. Charles, anxious to retain her
near him, requested Madame Marguerite, his sister, to receive her into
her household as a waiting-woman; but as she shortly afterwards became
pregnant, he removed her from the Court and established her in Paris,
where she gave birth to Charles, Comte d'Auvergne. Although tenderly
beloved by the King, Marie Touchet still retained her attachment to
Monluc, with whom she carried on an active correspondence, which was at
length discovered by Charles; who, having on one occasion been apprised
that she had at the moment a letter from her former lover in her pocket,
instantly caused a number of the Court ladies to be invited to supper;
and they were no sooner assembled than he sent to desire a man named
Chambre, the chief of a band of gipsies, to disperse a dozen of his most
expert followers about the apartment, with orders to cut away the
pockets of all the guests and to bring them carefully to his closet when
he retired for the night. He then caused the faithless favourite to be
seated beside himself, in order that she might not have an opportunity
of disposing of the letter elsewhere; and the Bohemians having adroitly
obeyed his instructions, the King found himself a few hours afterwards
in possession of the booty. In the pocket of Marie Touchet he
discovered, as he had anticipated, the letter of M. de Monluc; which, on
the following morning, he placed, with the most bitter reproaches, in
the hands of its owner; who, on finding herself detected, declared that
the pocket in which the King had discovered it was not hers, a
subterfuge by which, as the letter bore no address, she hoped to escape
the anger and indignation of her royal lover. Unfortunately, however,
Charles recognized several of the trinkets by which it had been
accompanied; and she had, consequently, no alternative save to
acknowledge her fault and to entreat for pardon. Charles, who could not
resist her tears, was soon induced to promise this, provided she pledged
herself to relinquish all intercourse with Monluc; and in order to
render her performance of this pledge more sure, he shortly afterwards
married her to the Comte d'Entragues, whose complaisance he rewarded by
the government of Orleans.--L'Etoile, _Hist, de Henri IV,_ vol. iii.
pp. 247-249.

[272] Dreux du Radier, vol. vi. p. 98. Saint-Edme, vol. ii. p. 227.
L'Etoile, vol. iii. p. 247.

[273] Antoine Eugene Chevillard, general treasurer of the gendarmerie of

[274] Sully, _Mem_. vol. v. p. 161, quoted from Amelot de la Houssaye.

[275] Dreux du Radier, vol. vi. p. 99.

[276] Mademoiselle de Bueil became Comtesse de Chesy on the 5th of
October 1604, and two months later she obtained a divorce. M. de Chesy
died in 1652.

[277] Perefixe, vol. ii. p. 401.

[278] Sully, _Mem_. vol. v. pp. 193-197.

[279] Guillaume Fouquet, Sieur de la Varenne, was one of those
singularly-gifted individuals who by the unaided power of intellect are
raised from obscurity to fortune. On his first introduction to the Court
of France, his position was merely that of cloak-bearer to the King; but
his excessive acuteness and his genius for intrigue soon drew upon him
the attention of the Cabinet. The event that originally procured for him
the favour by which he so largely profited in the sequel was a voyage to
Spain, voluntarily undertaken under unusual difficulties. The courier
who was conveying to Philip the despatches of the Duc de Mayenne and the
other chiefs of the League, having been taken by the emissaries of Henri
IV, and the despatches opened by his ministers, it was decided that
copies should be made, and the originals resealed and forwarded to their
destination by some confidential person who might bring back the
replies, in order that a more perfect judgment might be formed by the
Council of their probable result. For such an undertaking as this,
however, it was obvious that a messenger must be found at once faithful,
expert, and courageous; and such an one offered himself in the person of
La Varenne, who without a moment's hesitation offered his services to
the King, and acquitted himself so dexterously of his self-imposed task
that he succeeded, not only in procuring two interviews with the Spanish
Council, but even an audience of Philip, without once exciting
suspicion; and his arrival at Madrid had been so well timed that
although a second courier was despatched in all haste by the League, to
announce the capture of his predecessor, he was enabled to effect his
return to France with the reply of the Spanish monarch, by which Henry
and his ministers were apprised of the plans and pretensions of that
potentate (Amelot de la Houssaye, _Lettres du Cardinal d'Ossat_, vol.
ii. p. 17 _note_.) La Varenne was subsequently Master-General of the
Post Office.

[280] Philippe de Mornay, Seigneur de Plessis-Marly, Governor of Saumur,
was born in the year 1549, at Bussy, in the department of the Oise, of a
Catholic father and a Protestant mother (Francoise du Bec), the latter
of whom educated him in the reformed faith. Having escaped the massacre
of St. Bartholomew, he visited Germany, Italy, and England, and finally
entered the service of Henri IV, while he was still King of Navarre, who
sent him on a mission to Queen Elizabeth. His science, his valour, and
his high sense of honour, rendered him after the abjuration of the
monarch the chief of the Protestant party, and caused him to be called
_the Huguenot Pope_. He sustained against Duperron, Bishop of Evreux,
the famous conference of Fontainebleau, at whose close each of the two
parties claimed the victory. Louis XIII deprived him of his government
of Saumur; and he died in 1623. He had issue by his wife, Charlotte de
l'Arbalete, widow of the Marquis de Feuquieres, one son (Plessis-Mornay,
Sieur de Bauves), who was killed in 1605 while serving under Prince
Maurice in the Low Countries, and three daughters, the younger of whom
married the Duc de la Force.

[281] Mezeray, vol. x. pp. 254, 255.

[282] Bonnechose, _Hist. de France_, vol. i. p. 438, seventh edition.

[283] Bonnechose, vol. i. p. 438.



Trial of the conspirators--Pusillanimity of the Comte
d'Auvergne--Arrogant attitude assumed by Madame de Verneuil--She refuses
to offer any defence--Defence of the Comte d'Entragues--The two nobles
are condemned to death--Madame de Verneuil is sentenced to imprisonment
for life in a convent--A mother's intercession--The King commutes the
sentence of death passed on the two nobles to exile from the Court and
imprisonment for life--Expostulations of the Privy Council--Madame de
Verneuil is permitted to retire to her estate--Disappointment of the
Queen--Marriage of the Due de Rohan--Singular ceremony--A tilt at the
Louvre--Bassompierre is dangerously wounded--His convalescence--Death of
Clement VIII--Election of Leo XI--His sudden death--Election of Paul
V--The Comte d'Entragues is authorised to return to Marcoussis--Madame
de Verneuil is pardoned and recalled--Marriage of the Prince de
Conti--Mademoiselle de Guise--Marriage of the Prince of Orange--The
ex-Queen Marguerite--She arrives in Paris--Gratitude of the King--Her
reception--Murder at the Hotel de Sens--Execution of the
criminal--Marguerite removes to the Faubourg St. Germain--The King
condoles with her on the loss of her favourite--Her dissolute
career--Her able policy--Death of M. de la Riviere--Execution of M. de
Merargues--Attempt to assassinate Henri IV--Magnanimity of the
monarch--Henry seeks to initiate the Queen into the mysteries of
government--_Madame la Regente_--A timely warning.

The year 1605 commenced, as had been the case each year since the peace,
with a succession of Court-festivals; tilts and tournaments, balls and
masquerades, occupied the attention of the privileged; presents of value
were exchanged by the sovereigns and princes; and during all this
incessant dissipation the Parliament was diligently employed upon the
trial of the conspirators.

On Saturday, the 29th of January, the Comte d'Auvergne was placed out
the sellette,[284] where L'Etoile[285] asserts that he communicated much
more than was required of him; while the Queen, anxious to secure the
condemnation of Madame de Verneuil, and at the same time to intimidate
the favourites by whom she might be succeeded, appeared in person as one
of the accusing witnesses. Nor did Henry, who had already decided upon
the pardon of the Marquise, attempt to dissuade her from this
extraordinary measure; and it is even probable that as the design of the
King was merely to humble the pride of the haughty Marquise, in order to
render her more submissive to his authority, he was by no means
disinclined to suffer Marie to give free vent to her indignation
and contempt.

The Parliament had nominated as its commissaries Achille de Harlay, the
first president,[286] and MM. Etienne Dufour and Philibert Turin,
councillors, to whose interrogatories, however, the Comte d'Auvergne at
first refused to reply, alleging as his reason the pardon which had been
accorded to him by Henry during the past year. In this emergency M.
Louis Servin,[287] the King's Advocate, was deputed to offer to his
Majesty the remonstrance of the commissaries, and to represent that as
the accused had already been convicted of conspiring, first with Maturin
Carterie, and subsequently with the Duc de Biron, he was unworthy of
pardon on this third occasion; while the most imperious necessity
existed that an example should be made, in order to secure the safety of
their Majesties and the Dauphin, which, moreover, as a natural
consequence, involved the tranquillity and welfare of the state.

To this appeal the King replied that the abolition accorded to the
accused on the two former occasions had been granted with a view of
inducing him to return to his allegiance, but that since it had failed
to produce the desired result it could form no pretext for his escape
from the penalties of this new crime, and that should he persist in
refusing to reply to the questions put to him by his judges his silence
must be construed into an acknowledgment of treason; upon which M.
d'Auvergne immediately endeavoured to redeem his error by revealing all
the details of the past plots, as well as those of the one in which he
was now implicated.

Madame de Verneuil, who had been summoned to appear at the same time,
excused herself upon the plea of indisposition; and it was asserted that
she had caused herself to be bled in order that the temporary delay in
her examination thus secured might enable her, ere she appeared before
the commissaries, to ascertain to what extent she had been implicated by
the revelations of her step-brother. She no sooner learnt, however, that
the Count had thrown all the odium of the conspiracy upon herself than
she hastened to obey a second summons, and presented herself with her
arm in a sling to undergo in her turn the necessary interrogatories. Her
manner was firm, and her delivery at once haughty and energetic. She
insisted upon the innocence of her father, declared that the whole cabal
had been organized by D'Auvergne, and admitted that feeling herself
wronged she had willingly entered into his views; but at the same time
she coupled with this admission the assurance that having nothing with
which to reproach herself she asked for no indulgence, and was quite
prepared to abide by the consequences of her attempt to do justice alike
to herself and to her children.

When the Comte d'Entragues was in his turn examined, he did not seek to
deny his participation in the plot, but placed in the hands of his
judges a written document, setting forth the services which he had
rendered to the King since his accession, and which had merely been
recompensed by the government of Orleans, a dignity of which he was
moreover shortly afterwards deprived in order that it might be conferred
upon another, although in his zeal for the monarch he had not only
exhausted his own resources but had even raised considerable loans which
still remained unliquidated. Yet, as he stated, he had uttered no
complaint, although he was reduced to poverty and deprived of the means
of suitably establishing his children, for he still had faith in the
justice and generosity of his sovereign; and with this assurance he had
retired to his paternal home, old, sick, and poor, to await as best he
might the happy moment in which his claims should be remembered. And
then it was, as he emphatically declared, that the last and crowning
misfortune of a long life had overtaken him. Then it was that the King
conceived that unfortunate attachment for his younger daughter, which
deprived him of the greatest solace of his old age and exposed him to
the raillery and contempt of his fellow-nobles, coupled with sarcastic
congratulations upon the advantages which he was supposed to have
derived from the dishonour of his child; an event which had clouded his
remnant of existence with shame and despair. He had, as he asserted,
several times requested of his Majesty that he might be permitted to
withdraw entirely from the Court and finish his days in retirement and
in the bosom of his family, but this favour had constantly been denied.
As a last effort he had then represented the deplorable state of his
health, and entreated that he might be permitted to travel in order to
regain his strength, leaving his wife and children at Marcoussis; a
favour which also was not only refused, but the refusal rendered doubly
bitter by a prohibition either to see or correspond with his daughter,
whose safety was at that moment endangered by the menaces of the Queen.
He then entered briefly into the circumstances of the conspiracy, and
concluded by declaring that no attempt upon the life either of the
sovereign or the Dauphin had ever been contemplated by himself or by any
of his accomplices.[288]

Such was the defence of the dishonoured old man who had placed himself
beyond the pale of sympathy by his own degrading marriage. Yet he was
still a father; and who shall decide that the shame which in his own
case had been silenced by the voice of passion, did not crush him with
double violence when it involved the reputation of his child? Who shall
say that he had not, in the throbbing recesses of his wrung heart,
mourned with an undying remorse the fault of which he had himself been
guilty, and felt that it was visited in vengeance upon the dearest
object of his paternal love? Contemporary historians waste not a word
upon the ruined noble, the disappointed partisan, and the disgraced
father; yet the scene must have been a pitiable one in the midst of
which he stood an attainted criminal, blighted in every affection and
in every hope, the creditor of his King, and the victim of his
paternal ambition.

The sentence of the Parliament was pronounced on the 2nd of February.
The Comtes d'Auvergne and d'Entragues were condemned to death for the
crime of _lese-majeste_, and Madame de Verneuil to imprisonment in the
convent of Beaumont, near Tours, until more ample information could be
obtained of the exact extent of her participation; and meanwhile she was
to be prohibited from holding any communication save with the

On the same day, the sentence having been instantly communicated to
Madame d'Entragues, with the information that the King was about to
repair to the chapel of the palace to attend mass, she hastened,
accompanied by her daughter Marie de Balzac,[289] to the Tuileries,
where the two unfortunate women threw themselves on their knees before
Henry as he entered the grand gallery, and with tears and sobs entreated
mercy, the one for her husband, and the other for her father. The
monarch burst into tears as he saw them at his feet. He could not forget
that the mourners thus prostrate before him were the mother and the
sister of the woman whom he still loved, and as he raised them from the
ground he said soothingly: "You shall see that I am indulgent--I will
convene a council this very day. Go, and pray to God to inspire me with
right resolutions, while I proceed in my turn to mass with the same
intention." [290]

The King kept his word. In the afternoon the Council again met, when he
charged them upon their consciences to deliberate seriously before they
condemned two of their fellow-creatures to an ignominious death; but
they remained firm in their decision, declaring that by extending pardon
to crimes of so serious a nature as those upon which judgment had just
been passed, nothing but danger and disorder could ensue; and that after
the execution of the Duc de Biron, individuals convicted of the same
offence could not be suffered to escape with impunity without
endangering by such misplaced clemency the safety of the kingdom, while
a revocation of the sentence now pronounced would moreover tend to bring
contempt upon the judicial authority.

Henry listened, but he would not yield; and before the close of the
meeting, contrary to the advice of all his Council, he announced that he
commuted the pain of death in both instances to perpetual imprisonment,
and revoked the sentence that condemned the Marquise to the cloister,
which he superseded by an order of exile to her own estate of Verneuil.

To express the disappointment and mortification of the Queen when this
decision was announced to her would be impossible, as she instantly felt
that any further attempt to destroy the influence of the favourite must
prove ineffectual. She no longer exhibited any violence, but became a
prey to the deepest melancholy, weeping where she had formerly
reproached, and seeking her only consolation in prayer and in the
society of her chosen friends. Upon Henry, however, the effect of his
extraordinary and ill-judged leniency was far different. Although mercy,
and even indulgence, had been extended towards the Marquise without
eliciting one word either of entreaty or of acknowledgment, he felt
convinced that so marked an exhibition of his favour must be recompensed
by a return of affection on her part; and thus he continued to
participate in the gaieties of the Court with a zest which was strangely
contrasted by the gloom and sadness of his royal consort, and even
derived amusement from the epigrams and satires which were circulated at
his expense among the people.

On the 13th of the month M. de Rohan[291] was married at Ablon[292] to
Marguerite de Bethune, the daughter of the Duc de Sully, whom Henry had
previously determined to bestow upon the Comte de Laval,[293] and not
only did he confer the honour of his presence upon the well-dowered
bride, but he also signed her marriage contract and presented to her ten
thousand crowns for the purchase of her _trousseau_, with a similar sum
to her bridegroom to defray the expenses of the wedding-feast. A
singular ceremony followed upon the nuptial blessing, for M. de Rohan
had no sooner led his newly-made wife from the altar than his ducal
coronet was placed upon his brow, his ducal mantle flung upon his
shoulders, and in this pompous costume he was, at the close of the
banquet, escorted to Paris by the princes and nobles who had been the
guests of M. de Sully.

Seldom had the King evinced more gaiety of heart than at this particular
period, or appeared to derive greater amusement from the gossipry of the
Court and the gallantries of the courtiers; and he no sooner ascertained
that Mademoiselle d'Entragues had become the mistress of Bassompierre
than he said laughingly to the Duc de Guise: "D'Entragues despises us
all in her idolatry of Bassompierre. I have good grounds for what
I state."

"Well, Sire," was the reply, "you can be at no loss to revenge the
affront; while for myself I know of no means so fitting as those of
knight-errantry, and I am consequently ready to break three lances with
him this afternoon at any hour and place which your Majesty may be
pleased to ordain."

The preparations for this combat are so graphically described by
Bassompierre himself, and so characteristic of the manners of the time,
that we shall offer no apology for giving them in his own words.

"The King acceded to our wishes, as such encounters were by no means
unusual, and told us that the tilting should take place in the great
court of the Louvre, which he would cause to be covered with sand. M. de
Guise selected as his seconds his brother the Prince de Joinville and M.
de Thermes;[294] while I chose M. de Saint-Luc[295] and the Comte de
Sault.[296] We all six dressed and armed ourselves at the house of
Saint-Luc, and as we had armour and liveries ready for every occasion,
my party wore silver-mail, with plumes of red and white, as were our
silk stockings; while M. de Guise and his troop, on account of the
imprisonment of Madame de Verneuil, of whom he was secretly the lover,
were dressed and armed in black and gold. In this equipage we arrived
at the Louvre, myself and my friends being the first upon the
ground." [297]

Henry, with his whole Court, both male and female, was present on the
occasion, and the lists were placed immediately beneath the windows of
the Queen's apartments; but the diversion was not fated to be of long
duration, for at the first encounter the lance of M. de Guise entered
the body of his antagonist and inflicted so formidable a wound that he
was carried from the spot and laid upon the bed of the Duc de Vendome,
apparently in a dying state. After his hurt had been dressed, the Queen
sent her sedan chair to convey him to his residence.

Although Bassompierre, in the preceding column, assures his readers that
"such encounters were by no means unusual," he goes on to state that
directly he fell the King not only forbade the continuance of the
tourney, but would never permit another to take place, and that this was
the only one which had been held in France for the preceding

"No one can imagine," says the wounded hero in continuation, "the
multitude of visits that I received, especially from the ladies. All the
Princesses came to see me, and the Queen on three occasions sent her
maids of honour, who were brought to me by Mademoiselle de Guise, and
stayed during the whole afternoon."

These courtly diversions were abruptly terminated by the intelligence
which reached Paris of the death, on the 3rd of March, of Pope Clement
VIII.[299] The piety of this distinguished Pontiff, and the eminent
services which he had rendered to the French King, caused his loss to be
deeply felt by Henry; but when, on the 1st day of April, Alessandro de
Medicis, the cousin of the Queen, was unanimously elected as his
successor under the title of Leo XI, nothing could exceed the joy which
was manifested throughout the country. Paris was illuminated, bonfires
were lighted on the surrounding heights, and salvos of artillery rang
from the dark walls of the Bastille. This demonstration proved, however,
to be premature, as the next courier who arrived in the French capital
from Rome brought the fatal tidings of his death. On the day succeeding
his elevation he had made his solemn entry into St. Peter's; on Easter
Sunday the triple tiara was placed upon his brow, and the public
procession to St. John de Lateran took place on the 17th; but on
returning from this ceremony the new Pontiff complained of
indisposition, and on the 27th he breathed his last; and was in his turn
succeeded, on the Day of Pentecost (29th of May), by Paul V.[300]

About this time the King, wearied of the perpetual coldness of Madame
de Verneuil, which not even his excessive clemency had sufficed to
overcome, made a last attempt to compel her gratitude by forwarding
letters under the great seal, authorizing the Comte d'Entragues to
retire to his estate of Marcoussis, and re-establishing both himself and
his son-in-law in all their wealth and honours, save the posts which
they had held under the crown, and their respective governments.
D'Auvergne, however, was still a prisoner in the Bastille, where, after
lashing himself into fury for a few months, he adopted the more prudent
and manly alternative of study, and thus contrived to educe enjoyment
even from his privations.

Yet still the haughty spirit of the Marquise scorned to yield. She was
indeed living in her own house, the gift of the monarch against whom she
exhibited this firm and calm defiance, and surrounded by luxuries, the
whole of which she owed to his uncalculating generosity; but she could
not, and would not, forget that she was, nevertheless, an exile from the
Court, and a prisoner within the boundary of her estate, while the
Queen, whom she had affected to despise, was triumphing in her
disgrace. Nor was it until the month of September, when Henry, who was
pining for her return, finally declared that no proof of culpability
having been brought against her, she must be forthwith duly and fully
acquitted of the crime with which she had been charged, that the icy
barrier was at last broken down, and the haughty Marquise condescended
to acknowledge herself indebted to her sovereign. The King did not
satisfy himself with this mere declaration, though he had caused it to
be legally registered by the Parliament; but, fearful lest some further
revelations might be made, by which she might become once more involved,
he moreover strictly forbade his Attorney-general to take any new steps
whatever relating to the conspiracy, or tending further to incriminate
any of its presumed members.[301]

The jealousy which existed between the two houses of Bourbon and
Lorraine, and which Henry was anxious if possible to terminate, coupled
perhaps with no small feeling of wounded vanity, determined him to
bestow the hand of Louise Marguerite de Lorraine, Demoiselle de Guise
(who, since she had been in the household of the Queen, had lent a less
willing ear than formerly to his renewed gallantries), upon Francois,
Prince de Conti; and accordingly the marriage was celebrated with great
pomp in the month of July, in the presence of their Majesties and the
whole Court. Madame de Conti herself asserts that the Queen first
suggested this union, and did everything in her power to effect it;[302]
for which it is highly probable that Marie had a double motive, as the
antecedents of Mademoiselle de Guise might well excuse her jealousy.

While besieging Paris, and before his public _liaison_ with Gabrielle
d'Estrees, Henry had sent to demand the portrait of Mademoiselle de
Guise, giving her reason to believe that so soon as the war should be
terminated he was desirous of making her his wife; a prospect which, as
she very naively acknowledges, led her to despise the addresses of the
Comte de Giury,[303] who was her declared suitor, as well as those of
the other nobles who sought her favour. One day, however, during a brief
truce of six hours, the Duchesse de Guise and herself, accompanied by
several other ladies, having ascended the rampart to converse with such
of their friends as were in the besieging army, all the young gallants
crowded to the foot of the walls to pay their respects to the fair being
whose presence offered so graceful a contrast to the objects by which
they were more immediately surrounded; and among the rest came Roger,
Duc de Bellegarde, at that period the handsomest man in France.

It was the first occasion upon which Mademoiselle de Guise and the Duke
had met; and we have the authority of the lady for stating that the
attraction was mutual. M. de Bellegarde had long been the avowed lover
of _la belle Gabrielle_; but, inconstant as the fair D'Estrees herself,
he at once surrendered his previously-occupied heart to this new
goddess. His prior attachment was not, however, the only reason which
should have deterred Mademoiselle de Guise from thus suffering her fancy
to overcome her better feelings, as M. de Bellegarde was accused of
having been accessory to the assassination of her father; but neither of
these considerations appears to have had any weight with the young
Princess. According to her own version of the circumstance, Gabrielle
conceived so violent a jealousy that the Duke was compelled to
condescend to every imaginable subterfuge in order to conceal the truth;
while the King, who soon became aware of the secret intelligence which
subsisted between the lovers, ceased to feel any inclination to raise
Mademoiselle de Guise to the throne of France; although, as we have
seen, he was by no means insensible either to the charm of her wit or
the attraction of her beauty.

In order to follow up his great design of pacification, Henry, after
having re-established Philip of Nassau in his principality of Orange,
also effected his marriage with Eleonore de Bourbon,[304] by which union
he secured another desirable ally.[305]

During the development of the late conspiracy the monarch had been
indebted for much of the information which he had received relative to
the intrigues of the Comte d'Auvergne to the intelligence afforded by
the ex-Queen Marguerite, who, having come into possession of many facts
which could not otherwise have been known to the King, had assiduously
imparted to him every circumstance that she conceived to be of
importance; a service for which he had not failed to express his
gratitude. That Marguerite had, however, been in no small degree
actuated in this matter by feelings of self-interest, there can be no
doubt, D'Auvergne having long enjoyed the proprietorship of the county
from whence he derived his title, and which had been bestowed on him by
Henri III, as well as several other estates which that monarch had
inherited from his mother, Catherine de Medicis, the said territories
having formed a portion of her dowry on her union with Henri II.
Marguerite's memories of her brother, as the reader will readily
comprehend, were not sufficiently attaching to induce her to submit
patiently to such a substitution, as she was aware that, by the marriage
contract, the property in question was settled upon the female offspring
of Catherine in default of male issue; and her lavish expenditure and
errant adventures having exhausted her means, she resolved to exert
every effort to establish her claim. She had already upon several
occasions solicited permission to return to the French capital; and,
although it had never been distinctly refused, it was so coldly
conceded that her pride had hitherto prevented her from availing herself
of an indulgence thus reluctantly accorded; but aware at the present
moment that she could so materially serve the King as to ensure a more
gracious reception than she might previously have anticipated, she
resolved to seize the opportunity; and accordingly, greatly to the
surprise, not only of the whole Court, but of the monarch himself, she
arrived in Paris without having intimated her intention, lest the
permission should be revoked.

For five-and-twenty years the last survivor of the illustrious house of
Valois had existed in obscurity and poverty among the mountains and
precipices of the inhospitable province of Auvergne, apparently
forgetting for a time that world by which she had been so readily
forgotten; but Marguerite began at length to yearn for a restoration of
her privileges as a member of the great human family. She could not have
chosen a more judicious moment in which to hazard so extreme a step; as
in addition to the respect which, despite all her vices, she could still
command as the descendant of a long line of sovereigns, she had latterly
established many claims upon the gratitude of the King. It was
impossible for him not to feel, and that deeply, the generous
self-abnegation with which she had lent herself to the dissolution of
their ill-omened marriage, when not only his own happiness, but that of
the whole nation, required the sacrifice; nor could he fail to remember
that while those upon whom he lavished alike his affection and his
treasure, had constantly laboured to embitter his domestic life, and to
undermine the dignity of his Queen, the repudiated wife had never once
evinced the slightest disposition to withhold from her the deference and
respect to which she was entitled.

Thus then, when her near approach to the capital was suddenly announced
to him, Henry lost not a moment in hastening, with his royal consort and
a brilliant retinue, to receive her before she could reach the gates;
and gave orders that the palace of Madrid in the Bois de Boulogne should
immediately be prepared in a befitting manner for her residence. Nor was
Marie de Medicis less willing than himself to welcome the truant
Princess, to whom she was aware that she owed many obligations; and the
meeting was consequently a cordial one on both sides. After the usual
ceremonies had been observed, Marguerite, abandoning the litter in which
she had hitherto travelled, took her place in the state coach beside
their Majesties, by whom she was conducted to her appointed abode; nor
was it until repeated expressions of regard had been exchanged between
the ex-Queen and her successor, that the royal party returned to the

After a sojourn of six weeks in the palace of Madrid, during which time
Marguerite not only revealed to the monarch all the details of the
Verneuil conspiracy, but also the particulars of another still more
serious, as it involved the cession of Marseilles, Toulon, and other
cities to the Spaniards, she became wearied of the forest villa, and
established herself in the archiepiscopal Hotel de Sens[306]; an
arrangement to which the King consented on condition that she should
make him two promises, one of which was that she would be more careful
of her health, "and not turn night into day, and day into night," as she
was accustomed to do; and the other, that she would restrain her
liberality, and endeavour to economize. To these requests the Princess
cheerfully answered that she would make an effort to obey his Majesty
upon the first point, although it would be a privation almost beyond
endurance, from the habit in which she had so long indulged of enjoying
the sunrise before she retired to rest; but with regard to the other
she must decline to give a pledge which she was certain to falsify, no
Valois having ever succeeded in such an attempt. It is probable that
Henry, from a consciousness of his own peculiar prodigalities, did not
feel himself authorized to insist upon a rigid observance of his
expressed wish, as although Marguerite had so frankly refused to
regulate her expenditure with more prudence, she was nevertheless
permitted to remain in the asylum which she had chosen; and this she
continued to do until the 5th of April 1606, when she was driven from it
by a tragedy that rendered it hateful to her.

Slender as was her retinue, it unfortunately included a young favourite
named Saint-Julien,[307] who, from some private pique, had induced her
to discharge from her service two attendants who had from their earliest
youth been members of her household, the one as page, and the other as
maid of honour; and who had ultimately married with her consent and
approbation, but upon being thus cast off, had found themselves ruined,
no noble house being willing to receive the dismissed attendants of the
dishonoured Queen. Of this union a son had been born, possessed,
however, of less patience and self-control than his unhappy parents,
who, after having clung to Marguerite through good and evil fortune, now
found themselves abandoned to all the miseries of poverty and neglect.
This youth, called by L'Etoile Vermond, and by Bassompierre Charmond,
made his way to Paris as best he might, and arrived in the capital after
Marguerite had taken up her residence as already stated in the Faubourg
St. Antoine. There can be no doubt that the utter destitution of his
parents had made him desperate, for he could not rationally indulge the
slightest hope of impunity; suffice it, that as the Princess was
alighting from her coach on her return from attending mass at the abbey
of the Celestines, between mid-day and one o'clock on the 5th of April,
while her favourite stood beside the steps to assist her to descend, the
unhappy Vermond shot him through the head, and then, turning his horse
towards the gate of St. Denis, endeavoured to make his escape. He was,
however, too ill-mounted to succeed in this attempt, the carriage of the
ex-Queen having been followed by many of the nobles who were anxious to
propitiate the favour of the King by so easy a display of respect to the
dethroned Marguerite; and ere he reached the barrier the wretched young
man found himself a prisoner.

The body of his victim had, meanwhile, been conveyed to an apartment on
the ground floor of the hotel, where on his arrival he was immediately
confronted with it; but no sign of remorse or regret was visible as he
gazed upon the corpse. "Turn it over," he said huskily, after he had
gazed for awhile upon the glazed eyes and the parted lips. "Let me see
if he be really dead." His request was complied with; and as he became
convinced that life had indeed departed from the already stiffening
form, he exclaimed joyfully: "It is well--I have not failed--my task is
accomplished. Had it been otherwise I could yet have repaired
the error."

When this scene was reported to Marguerite, who, absorbed in the most
passionate grief, had retired to her appartment, she vowed that she
would not touch food until she had vengeance on the murderer; and she
kept her word, as she persisted in her resolution till, on the third day
after he had committed the crime, the unhappy young man was decapitated
in front of the house, and almost upon the very spot still reeking with
the blood of his victim. But the nerves of the ex-Queen could endure no
further tension; and on the morrow she removed to a new residence in the
Faubourg St. Germain, where she was shortly afterwards visited by
Bassompierre, who was charged with the condolences of the King on her
late loss.[308]

This fact alone tends more fully to develop the manners and morals (?)
of the age than a thousand comments; and thus we have considered it our
duty to place it upon record.

Meanwhile M. de Saint-Julien was far from having been the only favourite
of the profligate Marguerite, who divided her time between devotional
exercises and the indulgence of those guilty pleasures to which she was
so unhappily addicted; but while the citizens were not slow to remark
her excesses, she gained the love of the poor by a profuse alms-giving,
and enjoyed a perfect impunity of action from the real or feigned
ignorance of the King relative to the private arrangements of her
household. She was, moreover, the avowed patroness of men of letters, by
whom her table was constantly surrounded; and in whose society she took
so much delight that she acquired, by this constant intercourse with the
most learned individuals of the capital, a facility not only of
expression, but also of composition, very remarkable in one of her sex
at that period.[309] Carefully avoiding all political intrigue, she made
no distinction of persons beyond that due to their rank; and thus, while
her intercourse with the Queen was marked by an affectionate respect
peculiarly gratifying to its object, she was no less urbane and
condescending to the Marquise de Verneuil; who had, as may have been
anticipated, already regained all her former influence over the mind of
the monarch, his passion even appearing to have derived new strength
from their temporary estrangement.

The peculiar situation of the Queen, however, who was about once more to
become a mother, and whose tranquillity of mind he feared to disturb at
such a moment, rendered the monarch unusually anxious to conceal this
fact; and it was consequently not until some weeks afterwards that Marie
de Medicis was apprised of the new triumph of her rival.

The month of December accordingly passed away without the domestic
discord which must have arisen had the Queen been less happily ignorant
of her real position; but it was nevertheless fated to be an eventful
one. The death of M. de la Riviere, the King's body-surgeon, a loss
which was severely felt by Henry, was succeeded by the execution of M.
de Merargues[310], whose conspiracy to deliver up Marseilles to the
Spaniards was revealed to the monarch by Marguerite; and who, tried and
convicted of _lese-majeste_, was decapitated in the Place de Greve, his
body quartered and exposed at the four gates of the capital, and his
head carried to Marseilles, and stuck upon a pike over the principal
entrance to the city; while, on the very day of his execution, as the
King was returning from a hunt and riding slowly across the Pont Neuf,
at about five in the afternoon, a man suddenly sprang up behind him and
threw him backwards upon his horse, attempting at the same time to
plunge a dagger which he held into the body of his Majesty. Fortunately,
however, Henry was so closely muffled in a thick cloak that before the
assassin could effect his purpose the attendants were enabled to seize
him and liberate their royal master, who was perfectly uninjured. The
consternation was nevertheless universal; nor was it lessened by the
calmness with which, when interrogated, the assassin declared that his
intention had been to take the life of the sovereign. It was soon
discovered, however, by the incoherency of his language that he was a
maniac; and although many of the nobles urged that he should be put to
death as an example to others, the King resolutely resisted their
advice, declaring that the man's family, who had long been aware of his
infirmity, were more to blame than himself; and commanding that he
should be placed in security, and thus rendered unable to repeat any act
of violence. He was accordingly conveyed to prison, where he shortly
afterwards died.

At this period, whether it were that the King hoped, by occupying her
attention with subjects of more moment, to be enabled to pursue his
_liaison_ with Madame de Verneuil with less difficulty, or that his
advancing age rendered him in reality anxious to initiate her into the
mysteries of government, it is certain that he endeavoured to induce the
Queen to take more interest than she had hitherto done in questions of
national importance; and revealed to her many state secrets, not one of
which, as he afterwards declared to Sully, did she ever communicate,
even to her most confidential friends. But Marie de Medicis was far from
evincing the delight which he had anticipated at his avowed wish that
she should share with him in the hopes and disappointments of royalty;
her ambition had not then been thoroughly awakened; she still felt as a
wife and as a woman rather than as a Queen; and an insolence from Madame
de Verneuil occupied her feelings more nearly than a threatened
conspiracy. So great, indeed, was her distaste to the new character in
which she was summoned to appear, that when the King occasionally
addressed her with a gay smile as _Madame la Regente_, a cloud
invariably gathered upon her brow. Upon one occasion, when the royal
couple were walking in the park at Fontainebleau, attended by all the
Court, and that the monarch, who led the Dauphin by the hand, vainly
endeavoured to induce him to jump across a little stream which ran
beside their path, Henry became so enraged by his cowardice and
obstinacy that he raised him in his arms to dip him into the pigmy
current, a punishment which was, however, averted by the entreaties of
his mother; and the King reluctantly consented that he should suffer
nothing more than the mortification of being compelled to exchange her
care for that of his governess, Madame de Montglat. As the child was led
away the King sighed audibly, but in a few seconds he resumed the
conversation which had been thus unpleasantly interrupted, and once more
he addressed the Queen as _Madame la Regente_.

"I entreat of you, Sire, not to call me by that name," said Marie; "it
is full of associations which cannot fail to be painful to me."

[Illustration: MARIE DE MEDICIS. Paris: Richard Bentley and Son 1890.]

The King looked earnestly and even sadly upon her for a moment ere he
replied, and then it was in a tone as grave as that in which she uttered
her expostulation. "You are right," he said, "quite right not to wish
to survive me, for the close of my life will be the commencement of your
own troubles. You have occasionally shed tears when I have flogged your
son, but one day you will weep still more bitterly either over him or
yourself. My favourites have often excited your displeasure, but you
will find yourself some time hence more ill-used by those who obtain an
influence over the actions of Louis. Of one thing I can assure you, and
that is, knowing your temper so well as I do, and foreseeing that which
his will prove in after years--you, Madame, self-opinionated, not to say
headstrong, and he obstinate--you will assuredly break more than one
lance together." [311]

Poor Marie! She was little aware at that moment how soon so mournful a
prophecy was to become a still more mournful reality.


[284] A very low wooden stool upon which accused persons were formerly
seated during their trial; an arrangement deemed so great a degradation
by persons of condition that many attainted nobles indignantly appealed
against it.

[285] L'Etoile, vol. iii. p. 256.

[286] Achille de Harlay was the representative of a distinguished
family, many of whose members were celebrated during four centuries both
as magistrates and ecclesiastics. He was born on the 7th of May 1536,
and was the son of Christophe de Harlay, President _de Mortier_ of the
Parliament of Paris, one of the most learned and upright magistrates of
his time. Achille was a parliamentary councillor at the age of
twenty-two years, president of the Parliament of Paris at thirty-six,
and succeeded his father-in-law, Christophe de Thou, as first president
in 1582. During the time of the League under Henri III he made to the
Duc de Guise the celebrated answer which covered him with glory and
paralyzed the strength of the malcontents: "My soul belongs to my God
and my heart to my King, although my body is in the power of rebels." He
was imprisoned for a time by the chiefs of the League, after which he
returned to the service of the King. He resigned his office in favour of
Nicolas de Verdun, and died on the 23rd of October 1616 at the age of
eighty years.

[287] Louis Servin distinguished himself from an early age by his
extraordinary learning and his extreme attachment to his sovereign. He
was indebted for the rank of King's Advocate to the Cardinal de Vendome,
and acquitted himself so admirably of the duties of his office as to
justify the confidence of his patron.

[288] L'Etoile, vol. iii. pp. 255-257. Mezeray, vol. x. pp. 277-279.
Daniel, vol. vii. p. 456.

[289] Marie de Balzac d'Entragues, in pursuit of whom the King incurred
the risk of assassination.

[290] Richer, _Mercure Francais,_ Paris, 1611, year 1605, pp. 9-11.

[291] Henri, Duc de Rohan, Prince de Leon, was the eldest son of Rene,
second Vicomte de Rohan, and was born at Blein, in Brittany, in 1579. He
made his first campaign under Henri IV, by whom he had been adopted, and
who had declared his intention of making him his successor on the French
throne should Marie de Medicis fail to give him a son. Henry created him
duke and peer in 1603, and Colonel-general of the Swiss Guards in 1605;
but after the death of the King he entered into a struggle with the
Court, declared himself the head of the Protestant party, and sustained
three campaigns against Louis XIII, the last of which was terminated by
his compelling that monarch (in 1629) to sign for the second time a
confirmation and re-establishment of the Edict of Nantes. He next
entered into a negotiation with the Porte for the purchase of the island
of Cyprus, and subsequently became Generalissimo of the Venetians
against the Imperialists, then General of the Grisons, and finally,
displeased and disgusted with the French Court, he withdrew to the
territories of the Duke of Saxe Weimar, in whose service he was killed
in 1638. He left an only child, Marguerite, who married Henri de Chabot,
and whose descendants took the name of Rohan-Chabot.

[292] Ablon was a small village upon the Seine, distant about three
leagues from the capital, where the Protestants celebrated their worship
before they built the church at Charenton, which was subsequently

[293] Guy, Comte de Laval, was one of the richest and most accomplished
noblemen of his time. He not only inherited all the wealth of his
father, but also that of his grandfather Francois de Coligny, a fact
which, after his death, caused a lawsuit between the family of La
Tremouille and the Duc d'Elboeuf. His qualities, both physical and
mental, were worthy of his extraordinary fortune, and his devotion to
literature and the fine arts was unwearied. M. de Laval had been reared
in the Protestant faith, but to the great regret of the reformed party,
who had hoped to find in him as zealous a defender as they had found in
his ancestors, he embraced the Romish religion. His valour as a soldier
was as remarkable as his attainments, and he had scarcely reached his
twentieth year when he asked and obtained from the King the royal
permission to serve under the Archduke Matthias in Hungary against the
Turks. Accompanied by fifteen or sixteen gentlemen, and attended by a
retinue befitting his rank and wealth, he eminently distinguished
himself by the manner in which he effected the retreat after the siege
of Strigonia; but his first triumph was fated to be his last, as during
the struggle he received a gunshot wound of which he died a few days
subsequently, deeply regretted by the Prince in whose cause he had
fallen and by the troops, to whom he had already endeared himself by his
noble qualities.

[294] Cesar Auguste de St. Larry, Baron de Thermes, was the son of Jean
de St. Larry and of Anne de Villemur, and was the younger brother of
Roger de St. Larry, Duc de Bellegarde, Grand Equerry of France. He was
first created Knight of Malta and Grand Prior of Auvergne, and
subsequently, on the dismissal of the Duc de Bellegarde, Grand Equerry
in his stead. Having incurred the displeasure of Marie de Medicis he was
compelled to leave the Court, when he proceeded to Holland, where he was
warmly welcomed by Prince Maurice, a welcome which was not lessened by
the fact of his being accompanied by forty gentlemen. The anger of the
Queen having subsided he returned to France, where, as previously
stated, he succeeded to the honours of his brother, was made Knight of
St. Michael and the Holy Ghost, and died of a wound which he had
received at the siege of Clerac in July 1621.

[295] Francois d'Espinay, second of the name, was the son of Francois
d'Espinay, Seigneur de Saint-Luc, Knight of St. Michael and of the Holy
Ghost, and Grand Master of Artillery, who was killed at the siege of
Amiens in 1597. In the preceding year, at the early age of fourteen, the
young Saint-Luc had a quarrel with Emmanuel-Monsieur, the son of the Duc
de Mayenne, by whom he conceived that he had been insulted, and who,
upon his demanding whether the affront were intended as a jest or
designed as an insult, replied that he might interpret it as he pleased,
inquiring at the same time if he were not aware who he was. "Yes, I know
you," was the reply of the high-spirited boy; "you are the son of the
Duc de Mayenne, and you are in your turn aware that I am the son of
Saint-Luc, a loyal gentleman who has always served his country with
fidelity and never borne arms against his lawful sovereign." This
quarrel between two mere youths having reached the ears of the King, he
forbade the disputants to proceed further; but the young Saint-Luc had
thus already, alike by his courage and his ready wit, given ample
promise of his future loyalty and prowess.

[296] Guillaume de Sault (or Saulx) was the son of the celebrated
Gaspard de Saulx, Marechal de Travannes. He married Chretienne
d'Aguirre, the daughter of Michel d'Aguirre, a celebrated jurisconsult
of the diocese of Pampeluna, was created Lieutenant-Governor of
Burgundy, and died in 1633.

[297] Bassompierre, _Mem_. p. 43.

[298] _Idem_.

[299] Ippolito Aldobrandini, subsequently Clement VIII, was a Florentine
by birth, who, in the year 1585, was made Grand Penitentiary and
Cardinal by Pope Sixtus V. His diplomatic talents caused him to be sent
as legate to Poland to arrange the difficulties between Sigismund of
Sweden and the Archduke Maximilian, who had both been elected King of
Poland by their several partisans. On the death of Innocent IX,
Aldobrandini was raised to the pontifical chair (1592), which he
occupied during thirteen years.

[300] Camillo Borghese was a native of Rome, whose family were
originally from Sienna. Clement VIII called him to a seat in the
conclave in 1598. After his elevation to the pontifical chair he
quarrelled with the republic of Venice, the result of the difference
between the two states being the expulsion of the Jesuits from the
Venetian territories. He succeeded in effecting the union of the
Nestorians of Chaldea with the Church of Rome, and in appeasing for a
time several controversial differences between members of his own
communion. Paul V greatly embellished the city of Rome; and also
completed the facade of St. Peter's, and the palace of the Quirinal. He
died in 1621, at the age of sixty-nine years.

[301] Mezeray, vol. x. p. 280.

[302] _Amours du Grand Alcandre_, p. 47.

[303] Anne d'Anglure, Seigneur de Giury, who subsequently married
Marguerite Hurault, daughter of Philippe Hurault, Comte de Chiverny,
Chancellor of France under Henri III and Henri IV.

[304] Eleonore de Bourbon was the daughter of Henri I. de Bourbon,
Prince de Conde, who succeeded his father in the command of the
Calvinist party, conjointly with the King of Navarre, afterwards Henri
IV. This prince raised a body of foreign troops in 1575, and
distinguished himself greatly at Coutras in 1587. He died in the
following year, having, as was asserted, been poisoned by his wife,
Charlotte de la Tremouille, at St-Jean-d'Angely.

[305] Montfaucon, vol. v. p. 418.

[306] This hotel was the property of the Bishop of Bourges, known as M.
de Sens, who died in September 1606 at the age of seventy-nine years,
and who was interred at Notre-Dame, at his own request, without pomp or
ceremony of any description. This prelate had been involved in so many
delicate, but withal conspicuous affairs, that he had become the object
of very general curiosity and slander. At the commencement of the reign
of Henri IV a satire made its appearance, entitled, "Library of Madame
de Montpensier, brought to light by the advice of Cornac, and with the
consent of the Sieur de Beaulieu, her equerry," in which mention was
made of a supposititious work called, "The Art of not Believing in God,"
by M. de Bourges, in which an attempt was made to convict the prelate of
atheism. This book was attributed to the reformed party; while the libel
was strengthened by the indignation felt by the Court of Rome at the
circumstance of M. de Bourges having taken upon himself to absolve Henri
IV without the Papal authority, on his conversion to the Roman Catholic
faith. The manner of his death, however, gainsayed the calumny; although
so slight had been the respect felt for his sacred office, that the
ex-Queen Marguerite had no sooner taken possession of his hotel, than
the following placard was found affixed to the entrance-gate:

"Comme Reine, tu devais etre
En ta royale maison;
Comme ----, c'est bien raison
Que tu loge an logis d'un pretre."

[307] Bassompierre calls him Saint-Sulliendat, _Mem_. p. 46.

[308] L'Etoile, vol. iii. pp. 353, 354. Bassompierre, _Mem_. p. 46.

[309] Richelieu, _La Mere et le Fils_, vol. i. p. 326.

[310] Louis de Lagon de Merargues was a nobleman of Provence, who
claimed to descend from the Princes of Catalonia or Aragon. His position
of procureur-syndic of the province, and the importance of the relatives
of his wife, who was closely connected with the Duc de Montpensier,
together with the command of two galleys which he held from the King,
enabled him at any moment to possess himself of the port; while his
office of _Viguier_, or royal provost, gave him great authority over
the citizens.

[311] Richelieu, _La Mere et le Fils_, vol. i. pp. 19, 20.



New Year's Day at Court--The royal tokens--A singular audience--A
proposition--Birth of the Princess Christine--Public festivities--A
ballet on horseback--The King resolves to humble the Duc de
Bouillon--Arguments of the Queen--Policy of Henry--The Court proceeds to
Torcy--Surrender of Bouillon--The sovereigns enter Sedan--Rejoicings of
the citizens--State entry into Paris--The High Court of Justice assigns
to the ex-Queen Marguerite the county of Auvergne--The "Te
Deum"--Marguerite makes a donation of her recovered estates to the
Dauphin--Inconsistencies of Marguerite--Jealousy of the Queen of Madame
de Moret--Increasing coldness of the King towards that lady--The frail
rivals--Princely beacons---Indignation of the Queen--Narrow escape of
the King and Queen--Gratitude of the Queen to her preserver--Insolent
pleasantry of the Marquise de Verneuil--A disappointment
compensated--Marriage of the Duc de Bar--The King invites the Duchess of
Mantua to become sponsor to the Dauphin, and the Duc de Lorraine to the
younger Princess--_The Mantuan suite_--Preparations at Notre-Dame--The
plague in Paris--The Court removes to Fontainebleau--The royal
christenings--Increase of the plague--Royal disappointments--The
Duchesse de Nevers--Discourtesy of the King--Dignity of the Duchess.

The description given by M. de Sully of his interview with their
Majesties on the morning of the 1st of January 1606 is so characteristic
of the time that we cannot conscientiously pass it over, although the
feeling of the present day compels us to exclude many of its details.
Early in the forenoon the Duke proceeded to the Louvre to pay his
respects to the august couple, and to present the customary offerings;
but on reaching the apartment of the King, he was informed by MM.
d'Armagnac and l'Oserai, the two valets-de-chambre on duty, that his
Majesty was in the chamber of the Queen, who had been seriously
indisposed during the night. He consequently proceeded to the ante-room
of his royal mistress, and as he found it vacant, advanced to the door
of the chamber itself, against which he scratched gently, in order to
attract the attention of Caterina Selvaggio or Mademoiselle de la
Renouillere, her favourite attendants, and to ascertain the state of her
health without awakening her. He had no sooner done so, however, than
several voices loudly inquired who was there, and among them the Duke
recognized those of Roquelaure, Frontenac, and Beringhen.

Having declared his identity, and been announced to the King, he was
immediately summoned in a cheerful voice by Henry himself: "Come in,
come in, Sully," cried the monarch; "you will think us very idle until
you learn what has kept us in bed so late. My wife has been ill all
night; but I will tell you all about it when there are not so many
people present, and meanwhile let us see what you have brought for us as
New Year's gifts, for I observe that your three secretaries are with you
laden each with a velvet bag."

"It is true, Sire," answered the Duke. "I remembered that the last
occasion upon which I had seen your Majesties together you were both in
excellent spirits, and trusting to find it the case today, when we are
all anticipating the birth of a second Prince, I have brought you some
offerings which are sure to please you, as they cannot fail to gratify
those to whom they are distributed in your name, a distribution which I
trust may take place this evening in your presence and that of
the Queen."

"Although she says nothing to you," laughed the King, "according to her
custom of pretending to be asleep, she is as thoroughly awake as myself,
but she is very angry with both of us. However, we will talk of that
some other time. And now let us see your presents."

"They are not perhaps, Sire," said the Grand Master, "such as might be
expected from the treasurer of a wealthy and powerful monarch; but such
as they are, I feel convinced that they will afford more real
gratification to those for whom they are intended, and excite more
gratitude towards your own person, than all the costly gifts which you
lavish upon individuals who, as I well know, only repay your profuse
liberality by ingratitude and murmurs."

"I understand you," exclaimed the King; "it is useless to explain
yourself further; rather show us what you have brought."

The Duke made a signal to his secretaries to approach the bed. "Here,
Sire," he said, "in my despatch-bag, are three purses filled with gold
tokens, with a device expressive of the love borne towards your Majesty
by your people. One of these I offer to yourself, another to the Queen,
and the third to Monseigneur le Dauphin, or rather I ought to say to
Mamanga,[312] if her Majesty does not retain it, as she has always done
on similar occasions. In the same bag are eight purses of silver tokens
with the same device--two for yourself, two for the Queen, and four for
La Renouillere, Caterina Selvaggio, and any other of the ladies who
sleep in the chamber of her Majesty. The second bag contains twenty-five
purses of tokens in silver, to be distributed among Monseigneur le
Dauphin, Madame de Montglat, Madame de Drou,[313] Mademoiselle de
Piolant,[314] the nurses and other attendants of Monseigneur and his
sister, and the waiting-maids of the Queen. In the third bag there are
thirty sacks, each containing a hundred crowns in half-franc pieces,
coined expressly for the purpose, and so large that they appear to be of
twice the value. These are intended for all the attendants of
subordinate rank attached to the household of her Majesty and the royal
children, according to your orders. I have left, moreover, in my
carriage below, in the charge of my people, two great bags, each
containing a hundred crowns in twelve sous pieces, making the sum of
twelve thousand sous, for division among the poor and sick upon the
quays of the river near the Louvre, which are, as I am told, already
crowded; and I have in consequence sent twelve citizens upon whom I can
rely to distribute the money conscientiously according to the
necessities of each applicant. All these poor people, and even the
waiting-women of her Majesty, exhibit more delight on receiving these
trifling coins, Sire, than you can well believe. They all say that it is
not so much for the value of the gift, as because it proves that you
remember and regard them; and, moreover, the attendants of the Queen
prize them in consequence of their being free to appropriate them as
they think fit, while they are compelled to employ their respective
salaries according to the instructions which they receive, as they thus
have a hundred crowns to expend in any finery for which they may take
a fancy."

"And do you bestow all this happiness upon them without being rewarded
even by a kiss?" asked Henry gaily.

"Truly, Sire," answered the Duke, "since the day when your Majesty
commanded them to recognize their obligation in that manner, I have
never found it necessary to remind them of your royal pleasure, for they
come voluntarily to tender their acknowledgments according to order;
while Madame de Drou, devout as she is, only laughs during the
performance of the ceremony."

"Come now, M. le Grand Maitre," persisted the King, "tell me the truth;
which do you consider to be the handsomest, and consequently the most
welcome among them?"

"On my word, Sire," replied M. de Sully, "that is a question which I am
unable to answer, for I have other things to think of besides love and
beauty, and I firmly believe that they, each and all, pay as little
attention to my handsome nose as I do to theirs. I kiss them as we do
relics, when I am making my offering."

Henry laughed heartily. "How say you, gentlemen," he exclaimed,
addressing the courtiers who thronged the chamber; "have we not here a
prodigal treasurer, who makes such presents as these at the expense of
his master, and all for a kiss?"

Of course the royal hilarity found a general and an immediate echo,
which had no sooner subsided than the King exclaimed: "And now,
gentlemen, to your breakfasts, and leave us to discuss affairs of
greater importance."

In a few minutes all had left the room save Sully himself and the two
waiting-women of the Queen, and he had no sooner ascertained that such
was the case than Henry said affectionately: "And now, sleeper, awake,
and do not scold any longer, for I have, on my part, resolved not to
think any more of what has passed, particularly at such a time as this.
You fancy that Sully blames you whenever we have a difference, but you
are quite wrong, as you would be aware could you only know how freely he
gives me his opinion on my own faults, and although I am occasionally
angry with him, I like him none the less; on the contrary, I believe
that if he ceased to love me, he would be more indifferent to all that
touches my welfare and honour, as well as the good of my people; for do
you see, _ma mie_, the best-intentioned among us require at times to be
supported by the wise advice of faithful and prudent friends, and he is
constantly reminding me of the expediency of indulgence towards
yourself, and of the necessity of keeping your mind at peace, in order
that neither you nor the Prince whom you are about to give to
France--for the Duke feels satisfied that it will be a Prince--may
suffer from contradiction, or annoyance of any kind."

"I thank M. le Grand Maitre," said the Queen at length, in a voice of
great exhaustion; "but it is impossible for me to feel either calm or
happy while you persist in preferring the society of persons who are
obnoxious to me, to my own. My very dreams are embittered by this
consciousness, and doubly so because I have reason to know that while I
am their victim, they are false even to yourself and, moreover, detest
you in their hearts. You may doubt this," she added with greater energy,
"but I appeal to the Duke himself, and he will tell you if this is not
the case."

M. de Sully, however, felt no inclination to offer his testimony to the
truth of an assertion of this nature--the position involved too great a
responsibility to be agreeable even to the experienced statesman
himself; and he accordingly, with his accustomed prudence, generalized
the subject by declaring that he experienced a heartfelt satisfaction in
perceiving that their Majesties had at length yielded to a feeling of
mutual confidence, which could not fail to put an end to all their
domestic discomfort; adding that if he might presume to offer his
advice, he would suggest that should any new subject of difference arise
between them, they should immediately refer it to the arbitration of a
third person, upon whose probity and attachment they could severally
rely, and resolve to leave the whole affair totally in his hands,
without aggravating the evil by any personal interference, or even
considering themselves aggrieved by the remedy which he might suggest.

He then offered, should they place sufficient confidence in his own
judgment and affection, to become himself the arbitrator whom he
recommended; and he had no sooner done so than the King eagerly declared
himself ready to comply with his advice, and to sign a pledge to that
effect, but Marie de Medicis, who was as well aware as her royal consort
that the first step adopted by Sully would be the exile of her Italian
followers, was less willing to bind herself by such an engagement, and
she therefore merely remarked that the proposition had come upon her so
suddenly that she must have time to reflect before she thus placed
herself entirely in the hands of a third party. She then, as if anxious
to terminate the discussion, summoned her women, and the Duke, by no
means reluctantly, withdrew.[315]

At this period the King made a journey into Limousin, at the head of a
body of troops, in order to overawe the malcontents in that province;
and while at Orleans he withdrew the seals from Pomponne de Bellievre,
in order to bestow them upon Sillery, the former, however, retaining the
empty title of Chief of the Privy Council. The pretext for this
substitution was the failing health of the Chancellor, but it was
generally attributed to the influence of Madame de Verneuil, in whose
fortunes M. de Sillery had always exhibited as lively an interest as he
had previously done in those of the Duchesse de Beaufort. Let it,
however, have arisen from whatever cause it might, it is certain that
the veteran statesman deeply felt the indignity which had been offered
to him. Thus Bassompierre asserts that when he shortly afterwards
visited M. de Bellievre at Artenay, and that the indignant minister
commented with considerable bitterness upon his recent deprivation, he
vainly endeavoured to reconcile him to the affront by reminding him that
he was still in office, and would preside at all the councils as
chancellor, but Bellievre immediately replied with emphasis: "My friend,
a chancellor without seals is an apothecary without sugar." [316]

On the 10th of February the Queen gave birth to a second daughter[317]
in the palace of the Louvre, to her extreme mortification, the
astrologers whom she had consulted having assured her that she was about
to become the mother of a Prince. The citizens of Paris were, however,
delighted, as no royal child had been born in the capital for a great
length of time;[318] while the princes and nobles, throughout the whole
of the following month, vied with each other in their efforts to
entertain their Majesties, and to cause them to forget their
disappointment. It would appear, indeed, that Marie herself soon became
reconciled to the sex of the infant Princess, as Bassompierre has left
it upon record that even before she was sufficiently recovered to leave
her room she used to send for him to play cards with her, an invitation
which was always welcome to the handsome and dissipated courtier.[319]
She no sooner appeared in public, however, than other and more brilliant
amusements were provided for her, consisting of jousts and banquets,
Italian comedies and Court balls; but all these were exceeded in
interest by a ballet that was performed on horseback in the great court
of the Louvre, which had been thickly strewn with sand and surrounded by
barriers, save at one opening opposite the seats prepared for their
Majesties, through which the four nobles by whom the entertainment had
been devised were to enter with their respective trains from the Hotel
de Bourbon.

The balconies and windows of the palace were crowded with splendidly
dressed nobles and courtiers of both sexes, while a dense mass of people
occupied every available spot of ground beyond the enclosure, where
platforms had also been erected for the more respectable of the citizens
and their families. The King and Queen were seated in the balcony of
the centre window, which was draped with crimson velvet, having on their
right and left several of the Princes of the Blood and ladies of the
highest rank, while immediately behind them were placed the great
officers of the Crown and the captains of the bodyguard. The hour
selected for this novel and extraordinary exhibition was ten at night,
and hundreds of lamps and double the number of torches were affixed to
the _facade_ of the palace, towards which every eye was upturned from
the compact crowd below. The ballet was designed to represent the four
primary Elements, and the appointed moment had no sooner arrived than a
flourish of trumpets announced the approach of the Due de Bellegarde,
who with his party were to personate Water. The procession was opened by
twenty-four pages habited in cloth of silver, each attended by two
torch-bearers; these were followed by twelve Syrens playing on hautboys,
who were in their turn succeeded by a pyramid whose summit was crowned
by a gigantic figure of Neptune, surrounded by water-gods and marine
divinities and insignia of every description. This stupendous machine
paused for a moment beneath the window of their Majesties, and the
aquatic deities having made their obeisance, it passed on, and gave
place to twenty-four other pages, habited and attended like the former
ones. These preceded the Duke himself at the head of twelve young and
brilliant nobles, all clad in cloth of silver, with plumes of white
feathers in their jewelled caps, and their horses richly caparisoned in
white and silver. Having made the tour of the court, the whole party
drew closely together in one angle of the enclosure, in order to make
way for the second troop, but not before they had exhibited their
equestrian skill, and elicited not only the approving comments of the
courtly groups who contemplated them from above, but also the vociferous
acclamations of the admiring thousands by whom they were hemmed in. The
Due de Bellegarde and his train had no sooner taken up their station
than a second _fanfare_ greeted the approach of the powers of Fire, who
were ushered in by twenty-four pages dressed in scarlet, closely
followed by four blacksmiths dragging an anvil, upon which, when they
reached the centre of the court, they began to strike with great
violence, and at every blow discharged such a shower of rockets into the
air that many a fair dame crouched behind her neighbour for protection
from the falling sparks; while the lamps and torches which lit up the
palace walls were momentarily eclipsed. As the last rush of rockets
burst, and fell back in a Danaean shower, a train of salamanders,
phoenix, and other anti-inflammable creatures appeared in their turn,
and were followed by the Duc de Rohan, attired as Vulcan, with his
twelve companions in the garb of Parthians, all similarly dressed, and
armed with lances, swords, and shields, on which their arms were
splendidly emblazoned. Renewed feats of dexterous horsemanship were
exhibited by this brilliant band, after which, as their predecessors
had previously done, they established themselves in an angle of the
lists, and made way for the representatives of Air. First came the
pages, forming an escort to the goddess Juno, with her attendant eagle
and a multitude of other birds, all skilfully imitated and grouped; and
when the feathered pageant had passed on, appeared the Comte de
Sommerive[320] and his noble band, all wearing the same costume and
bearing the same arms. Lastly came Earth, in which the pages were
succeeded by two enormous elephants, artistically constructed, and
bearing upon their backs small towers filled with musicians, who, as
they advanced, poured out a volume of sweet sound, to which several
horses, draped with cloth of gold and led by Moors, moved in cadence
like the grooms by whom they were conducted. Then followed more pages,
and a band of trumpeters whose occasional flourishes overpowered the
softer instruments of those who marched in front; and finally, twelve
Moorish knights, led by the Duc de Nevers,[321] all resplendent with
gold and jewels, closed the procession, and fell back to the remaining
extremity of the enclosure. A combat then commenced between the knights
of Earth and those of Water, first single-handed, then in couples, and
finally troop against troop, and so soon as this had terminated, the
cavaliers of Air and Fire went through the same evolutions; when each

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