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

Part 6 out of 7

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having exhibited his dexterity in the _manege_ and his skill in arms,
the whole of the four bands joined in the _melee_, shivering their
lances, their arrows, and their shields, and then each of the combatants
seized a torch which had been prepared for him, and after having ridden
round and round each other, making the wandering lights assume the
appearance of meteors, the entire company formed once more into order
and returned to the Hotel de Bourbon like a long line of fire.[322]

These were precisely the entertainments that Henri IV was eager to
encourage, as they involved an expenditure which frequently crippled the
means of those by whom they were exhibited for several years; and he was
accustomed to declare that it was frequently to the poverty of his
nobles that he was indebted for their fidelity, as they no sooner found
themselves in a position to arm a few retainers and assume the
offensive, than they forthwith began to organize a cabal.

The King having, in the month of March of this year, determined upon
proceeding in person to quell the disturbances in the provinces, and to
compel the Duc de Bouillon, who was known as the instigator of these
disorders, to obedience, made preparations on an extensive scale for
this purpose, and raised a powerful army in order to prove his
resolution to terminate all similar attempts. In this project he was
warmly encouraged by the Queen, who was to accompany him in his journey,
the Duc de Sully having urged her with the most earnest arguments to
suggest to his Majesty that although he was able personally, from his
prowess and authority, to resist the insidious aggressions of M. de
Bouillon, the case would be widely different were the infant Prince, by
any sudden dispensation of Providence, to be called upon to supply his
place. "The rebel Duke, Madame," said the prudent and upright minister,
"would prove a formidable enemy to a woman and a child; and this should
be looked to while your royal consort is still in the plenitude of
health and strength."

Marie de Medicis at once felt the force of this reasoning; and although
the caution might probably appear to her as somewhat premature, she
nevertheless lost no time in entreating the King to make such an example
of the restless and ambitious Bouillon as might deter others from
following in his track.

"You are at once right and wrong, _ma mie_" replied Henry with his usual
promptitude. "There can be no doubt that the temper and projects of this
man tend to disturb the peace of the kingdom, and that were he to lose
his head a great peril would be escaped; but we must not forget that he
is a Prince of the Blood, and that he may be severely punished through
his pride. I have resolved to take Sedan out of his hands, and to humble
him upon the very threshold of his power; and this vengeance upon his
rebellion will be ample, as he has taught himself to believe that I dare
not attack him in his stronghold. Once subdued he will be undeceived,
and I shall then be enabled to pardon him without having my clemency
mistaken for fear, and I will take such measures as shall ensure his
future submission." [323]

On the 15th of the month, the Court of Parliament, on a summons from the
sovereign, proceeded to the Louvre, where Henry explained to them his
reasons for besieging the Marechal de Bouillon in Sedan, and possessing
himself of the town and citadel. "A failure," he concluded, "is
impossible; and as an earnest of success the Queen will accompany me.
To-morrow we commence our journey; but do not conceive that I set forth
against the Duke with any preconceived design of vengeance. My arms will
be open to him should he acknowledge his error, for I have been his
benefactor, and have made him what he is. But should he decline to offer
his submission and to recognize my authority, I trust that God will
favour my arms. Above all things, during my absence, I entreat of you to
administer the strictest justice; and I leave in your hands the Dauphin,
my son, whom I have caused to be removed from St. Germain to Paris, in
order to place him under your protection; and I do so with the most
entire confidence, as next to myself he should be to you the most sacred
trust on earth." [324]

On the morrow, accordingly; the King and Queen set forth, accompanied
by a brilliant retinue, and closely followed by the Duc de Sully with
fifty pieces of ordnance and twenty-five thousand men; a fact which was
no sooner ascertained than the rebel Marshal despatched messengers to
Torcy, the frontier village of France, who were authorized to pledge
themselves that the Duke was willing to deliver up the citadel of Sedan
for the space of ten years, if at the termination of that period his
Majesty would consent to restore it, should he, in the interim, have
become satisfied of his loyalty and devotion. He, however, annexed
another condition to his surrender, which was that an act of oblivion
should be passed, and that he should never thenceforward be subjected to
any injury, either of property or person, for whatever acts of
disobedience to the royal authority he might have previously been
considered responsible, and should be left in untroubled possession of
all his honours, estates, and offices under the Crown.

Having carefully perused this treaty, the King at once consented to the
proposed terms, on the understanding that the Marshal should on the
following morning present himself at Donchery, where the Court were to
halt that night, before their Majesties should have risen. This he
accordingly did on the 21st, when upon his knees beside the royal couch
he repeated and ratified the pledges of fidelity contained in his appeal
for pardon, and had the honour of kissing hands with both sovereigns;
the King assuring him as he did so that he valued the citadel of Sedan
far less than the recovery of so valued a friend and subject.

Their Majesties then made a solemn entry into the city, attended by a
train of princes and nobles, and were received with loud and
long-continued shouts of "Long live the King!" "Long live the Queen and
the Dauphin!" Salvos of artillery were fired from the ramparts of the
town and the citadel, and the whole progress of the royal _cortege_
through the streets resembled a triumphal procession. In the evening the
entire city was illuminated; and the vociferous cheering of the excited
people testified their delight at the bloodless and peaceful termination
of an expedition from which they had anticipated for themselves only
danger and distress.

The whole population was in a state of delirium; the royal equipages as
they traversed the streets were followed by admiring crowds; the gay and
gaudy nobles were watched by bright eyes, and welcomed by rosy lips; the
civic authorities dreamt only of balls and banquets; and, in short, the
rock-seated city, bristling as it was with cannon, and frowning with
fortifications, appeared to have become suddenly transformed into the
chosen abode of the Loves and Graces.

Having remained five days at Sedan, the King appointed a new governor
and returned to Paris, whither he was accompanied by the whole of the
royal party, which was moreover augmented by the presence of the Duc de
Bouillon, who, according to Bassompierre, was as much at his ease, and
as arrogant in his deportment, as though he had never incurred the risk
of the headsman as a rebel and a traitor. The Court dined at La
Roquette, and it was near dusk when they reached the Barriere St.
Antoine, where they were met by the corporate bodies. Henry himself rode
on horseback, preceded by eight hundred nobles in full dress, and
followed by four Princes of the Blood, in whose train came other
princes, dukes, and officers of the Court, among whom were the Marechal
de Bouillon and Prince Juan de Medicis. The Queen occupied her state
coach, having beside her the Duchesses de Guise and de Nevers, and the
Princesse de Conti. As the royal party halted at the barrier, the Civil
Lieutenant, M. de Miron, provost of the merchants, delivered a
congratulatory address to the King in the name of the city; but this
loyal effusion was rendered inaudible by the booming of the cannon from
the Bastille, and the crashing and whizzing of the rockets and other
fireworks, which, by order of the Due de Sully, were let off immediately
that the monarch had passed the gates.[325] So soon as the address was
terminated, the gorgeous procession resumed its march, Sully riding on
the left hand of the King, by whom this enthusiastic reception had been
deeply felt; nor did his gratification suffer any decrease on observing
as he passed on that every window upon his way was crowded with fair and
animated faces. As he glanced towards the Bastille, the minister
attracted his attention to the Comtesse d'Auvergne, who had latterly
been permitted to visit her husband, and who was gazing wistfully from
one of the narrow casements. As Henry recognized her, he withdrew his
plumed cap, and bent his head with a courtesy and kindness which was
remarked and commented upon by those around him; but his most gracious
recognition was vouchsafed to the Comtesse de Moret, who was seated at a
window in the Rue St. Antoine, surrounded by a bevy of beauties, who
only served to render her own loveliness the more conspicuous.[326]

Thus, amid the deafening report of the artillery and the enthusiastic
plaudits of the people, Henry and his Queen at length reached the
Louvre, and terminated their bloodless campaign.

On the 30th of May the law courts, after three long and patient
sittings, declared the ex-Queen Marguerite to be the lawful heir to the
counties of Auvergne and Clermont, the barony of La Tour, and other
estates which had appertained to the late Queen Catherine de Medicis;
asserting that they had hitherto been unjustly possessed by Charles de
Valois, who had also wrongfully derived his title of Comte d'Auvergne
from one of them; and directed that the said territories should
forthwith be transferred to the ex-Queen Marguerite, to whom they
rightfully belonged. When this decision was pronounced, the Princess was
assisting at the celebration of mass in the church of St. Saviour,
whither M. Drieux, her chancellor, at once proceeded with the glad
tidings, which he had no sooner imparted, than, overjoyed by the
intelligence, she rose from her knees before the service was concluded,
and leaving the church, hastened to the monastery of the Cordeliers,
where she caused a "Te Deum" to be chanted in gratitude for her success.

A few days subsequently, while at the Louvre, the ex-Queen, in the
presence of Marie de Medicis, made a donation of the recovered estates
to the Dauphin, on condition that they should be annexed to the Crown,
and never under any consideration, or upon any pretext, alienated.
Marguerite, however, reserved to herself the income derivable from these
possessions during her life; and she no sooner found her means adequate
to the undertaking than she commenced the enlargement of the hotel which
she had previously purchased in the Faubourg St. Germain, near the Pre
aux Clercs, and the embellishment of the spacious gardens which swept
down to the bank of the river opposite the Louvre.

Here it was, under the very shadow of the palace which should have been
her home, that Marguerite held her little court; passing from her
oratory to scenes of vice and voluptuousness which, happily, are
unparalleled in these times; one day doing penance with bare feet and a
robe of serge, and the next reposing upon velvet cushions and pillowed
on down--now fasting like an anchorite, and now feasting like a
bacchante; one hour dispensing charity so lavishly as to call down the
blessings of hundreds on her head, and the next causing her lacqueys to
chase with ignominious words and blows from beneath her roof the honest
creditors who claimed their hard-earned gains. Extreme in everything,
she gave a tithe of all that she possessed to the monks, although she
did not shrink from confessing that her favourites cost her a still
larger annual sum; and while she encouraged and appreciated the society
of men of letters, and profited largely by their companionship, she
condescended to the most frivolous follies, and abandoned herself to the
most licentious pleasures.[327]

The insipidity of Madame de Moret soon counteracted the spell of her
beauty; and although on his return from Sedan the King had appeared to
be more fascinated by her extraordinary loveliness than even at the
first period of their acquaintance, it was not long ere he listened with
a patience very unusual to him to the indignant remonstrances of the
Queen on this new infidelity, and even assured her that her reproaches
were misplaced. Marie, who perceived the prodigality with which the King
lavished upon the frail fair one the most costly gifts, and who saw her,
through the mock marriage which she had contracted, assume a place at
Court which occasionally even brought her into contact with herself,
could not so readily lay aside her suspicions; and although she had at
first rejoiced to find that the fancy of the monarch could be diverted
from Madame de Verneuil, she had never anticipated that the _liaison_
would have endured so long. Henry, however, profited by this mistake;
and while the Queen was still jealously watching the proceedings of
Madame de Moret, he renewed with less secrecy his commerce with the
witty and seductive Marquise, unconscious that she was at that period
encouraging the addresses of the Due de Guise. Nor did this partial
desertion tend to wound the vanity of Madame de Moret, or to excite her
ire against her rival; for once more the Prince de Joinville, who
appeared to take a reckless pleasure in braving the anger of the
monarch, had found favour in the eyes of one of his mistresses, and was
established as the admitted lover of the facile Countess. Thus deceived
on both sides, Henry had no annoyance to apprehend from either of the
frail rivals; but such could not long remain the case with the Queen.
There were too many eyes and ears about her ever open to discover and to
retain the gossipry of the Court, and too many tongues ready to reveal
all which might at the moment appear acceptable to her wounded feelings
and insatiable desire to dwell upon the details of her unhappiness.

Princes should pause before they err, for they are a world's beacon.
Every eye turns towards them for example and for support; and thus,
where the one is evil, and the other wanting, the results of the failure
may prove incalculable. The flaw in the diamond, the alloy in the gold,
the stain in the purple, the blot upon the ermine--all these are
detected upon the instant; the value of the jewel is decreased, the
price of the metal is deteriorated, the glory of the hue is tarnished,
the purity of the mantle is sullied; and where minor imperfections may
pass unperceived, a mighty social lens is for ever bearing upon
the great.

Angered and disappointed, the Queen, who had passed a short time in
comparative tranquillity, once more found herself a prey to
mortification and neglect; and so greatly did she resent the renewed
intercourse between Henry and his favourite, that for upwards of a
fortnight not a word was exchanged between the royal pair.[328] At
length, however, through the intervention of Sully, Sillery, and the
other ministers, a sort of hollow peace was effected, and the Court
removed to St. Germain, where the royal children constantly resided.
Here they remained until the 9th of June, on which day, notwithstanding
the unfavourable state of the weather, they set forth on their return to
the capital. Their Majesties occupied a coach, in which, together with
themselves, were the Princesse de Conti and the Dues de Vendome and de
Montpensier;[329] other carriages followed with the ladies of the
Queen's retinue; and a numerous train of nobles and attendants on
horseback preceded the bodyguard. At that period no bridge existed at
Neuilly, where the river was crossed in a ferry-boat which was waiting
to receive the royal party, who, in consequence of the heavy rain, were
driven on board; but unfortunately the beating of the water against the
side of the frail bark, occasioned by the swollen state of the stream
and the violence of the wind, so terrified the leaders of the royal
coach, that it had no sooner left the land than they swerved so
violently as to destroy the equilibrium of the boat, which instantly
capsized, when the carriage was upset into the water, and immediately
filled. The King, who was an excellent swimmer, was soon rescued by the
attendants, a score of whom threw themselves from their horses into the
river to afford assistance; but he no sooner reached the bank than he
once more swam back to the rescue of the Queen and her companions.
Marie, however, was already in safety, having been with considerable
difficulty carried to land by the Baron de la Chataigneraie,[330] who
was compelled to seize her by her hair, to prevent her from being
carried down by the current, and who, having placed her under the care
of her ladies, returned to the assistance of the Duc de Vendome, whom he
also succeeded in saving. The Princesse de Conti and M. de Montpensier,
having been immersed on the landward side of the carriage, were rescued
with comparative ease; but the peril had nevertheless been great, and
the consternation general. Marie de Medicis, when brought on shore, was
in a state of insensibility, and it was a considerable time before she
recovered consciousness; nor had she yet opened her eyes when she
gasped out an agitated inquiry for the King.[331] Finally, however, all
the party were enabled to take possession of one of the carriages of the
suite, and to pursue their journey; but not before the Queen had desired
that the person by whom she had been saved should be requested to attend
her; upon which M. de la Chataigneraie presented himself, with the water
pouring from his embroidered mantle; and it was with no little surprise
and gratification that their Majesties ascertained that not only the
gallant La Chataigneraie, but also several other members of the royal
escort, had flung themselves into the river without waiting to throw off
either their cloaks or swords.[332] Marie made her acknowledgments to
the gallant young noble with an earnest courtesy which would in itself
have been a sufficient recompense for his exertions; but while speaking,
she also detached from her dress a magnificent diamond cluster, valued
at four thousand crowns, which she tendered to him with the intelligence
that he was from that moment the captain of her bodyguard, and that she
should thenceforward further his fortunes.

"And now, gentlemen," said the King gaily, as the agitated and grateful
young courtier knelt to kiss the hand which was extended towards him,
"let us resume our journey. When we left St. Germain I was, as you all
know, suffering agonies from toothache, which is now cured; this bath
has been the best remedy I have ever applied; and if any of us dined too
heartily upon salt provisions, we have at least the satisfaction of
feeling that we have been enabled to drink freely since." [333]

A few hours after his arrival in the capital, the King paid a visit to
the Marquise de Verneuil, to whom he related the escape of himself and
his companions;[334] but even on so serious an occasion as this, and one
which had threatened such tragical consequences to the Queen, the
insolent favourite could not comment without indulging in the sarcastic
and bitter pleasantry which she always affected in making any allusion
to her royal mistress. After feeling or feigning great anxiety on the
subject of Henry's own escape, she said with malicious gaiety: "Had I
been there, when once I had seen you safe, I should have exclaimed with
great composure, 'The Queen drinks.'" [335]

Unfortunately the King, taken by surprise, laughed heartily at this
sally, a circumstance which was duly reported to Marie de Medicis, and
which greatly increased her irritation. This new cause of offence was so
grave that she could not forgive the levity of the King more readily
than the heartless insolence of his mistress; and she carried her
resentment to so extreme a pitch that she refused to receive him in her
apartments. Such a determination was naturally productive of serious
confusion in the palace, as it infringed upon all the accustomed
etiquette of the Court, and created great perplexity among the officers
of state; but remonstrances were vain. Marie, stung to the soul by the
insult to which she had been subjected, and which her royal consort had
not only suffered to pass unrebuked, but to which he had in some degree
contributed, would not rescind her resolution; while the King was, in
his turn, equally violent. In vain did the Due de Villeroy, Sully, and
others of the great nobles, endeavour to mediate between them: reason
was lost in passion on both sides; and once more Henry declared his
determination to exile the Queen to one of his palaces. From this
extreme measure he was, however, dissuaded by his ministers; and at
length, after the estrangement between the royal couple had lasted
nearly three weeks, a partial reconciliation was effected; but Marie,
although she was induced by the representations of her advisers to
restrain her indignation, was from that hour alienated in heart from her
husband, by whom she felt that her dignity had been compromised both as
a Queen and as a wife.

Profiting, however, by this partial calm, several of the nobility
proposed to add to the amusements of the Carnival, in commemoration of
the recent escape of their Majesties, a ballet in which the Queen
consented to appear; and the preparations were already far advanced when
the King solicited her permission to include Madame de Moret among the
performers, but Marie, who had previously condescended to associate
herself in a similar exhibition with the Marquise de Verneuil, had been
rendered less amenable by recent circumstances, and she peremptorily
refused to appear in such intimate association with another of her
husband's mistresses. The concession was not one upon which Henry could
insist with any propriety, a fact of which the Queen was so well aware,
that in order to terminate the affair as gracefully as possible she
declined altogether either to assist in the entertainment or even to
witness it, a decision which caused it to be abandoned altogether.[336]
This mortification was, however, compensated to the Countess by a
donation from the King of eighty-five thousand five hundred

At the commencement of July the King had accredited the Marechal de
Bassompierre as his ambassador-extraordinary to Lorraine, to be present
at the marriage of the Duc de Bar, his brother-in-law, with the daughter
of the Duke of Mantua, the Queen's niece; and had also furnished him
with instructions to invite the Duchess of Mantua[338] to become the
godmother of the Dauphin, and the Duc de Lorraine to act as sponsor to
the younger Princess. The marriage took place at Nancy, where M. de
Bassompierre, as the representative of his sovereign, was magnificently
and gratuitously entertained.[339] Numerous balls were given, and a
joust concluded the festivities; which were no sooner terminated than
the courtly envoy communicated the royal invitation, which was received
"with proper respect and honour"; and he then hastened his return to
Paris in order to prepare the gorgeous dress already alluded to
elsewhere as having been defrayed by his gains at play.

Towards the close of the month, the two illustrious sponsors reached
Villers-Cotterets, where they were met by the King and Queen, with the
whole Court, and thence conducted to Paris. The Duchess arrived in a
state coach of such extreme magnificence as to attract immediate notice,
but with so slender a retinue as to provoke the sarcasms of the
courtiers, who declared that they recognized her rank only by the
carriage in which she rode; and _the Mantuan suite_ accordingly became a
favourite topic with the idle and the censorious. Great preparations
were made at Notre-Dame for the ceremony, which was to take place on the
14th of September, and meanwhile nothing was thought of save pleasure
and preparation. Bassompierre gives an amusing account of the distress
of the tailors and embroiderers of the capital, who were unable to
comply with the demands of their employers, and many of whom were
kidnapped and carried off by persons of the highest rank in order to
secure themselves against disappointment. All Paris was in turmoil; the
great were busy in devising costumes which were to transcend all that
had previously been seen at the French Court, and the operatives were
equally occupied in executing the orders which they received.

In the midst of this excitement, however, the plague, which had long
existed in the capital, declared itself more fatally; several officers
of Queen Marguerite's household died under her roof, and the alarm
became so great that the King removed his Court to Fontainebleau, where
the baptismal ceremonies were performed with great magnificence on the
day previously appointed.

These ceremonies were so curious and characteristic that we shall offer
no apology to our readers for giving them in detail.

Each of the royal children had been privately baptized a few days after
its birth, but the public christening had been hitherto deferred in
order that it might be celebrated with becoming splendour. The desire of
the King had always been that the Sovereign-Pontiff should act as
sponsor to the Dauphin, the eldest son of France being, as he declared,
the eldest son of the Church, and the successive deaths of Clement
VIII[340] and Leo XI[341] had accordingly delayed the celebration of the
ceremony. Paul V was, however, no sooner apprised of the wishes of the
French monarch than he despatched a brief to the Cardinal de Joyeuse for
registration in the Court of Parliament, by which that prelate was
constituted Papal Legate and representative, and instructed in all
things to support the holiness and dignity of the Apostolical See.

The turret-court at Fontainebleau was selected as the most appropriate
spot for the construction of the temporary chapel, the great hall of the
palace being totally inadequate to contain the thousands who had
collected from every part of the country to witness the ceremony.

This immense area was completely enclosed by the costly gold-woven
tapestry of which the manufacture had been, as we have stated,
introduced and encouraged by the King, and had in its centre a square
space, thirty feet in extent, surrounded by barriers, and similarly hung
and carpeted with tapestry. In the front of this enclosure stood an
altar magnificently ornamented with the symbols of the Order of the Holy
Ghost, and a table gorgeously draped, both being surmounted by canopies.
Behind the table stood a platform raised three steps from the floor, and
in the midst of this was placed a column covered with cloth of silver,
upon which rested the font, protected by a superb christening-cloth and
a lofty canopy. On each side of the altar a gallery had been erected
which was filled with musicians, and beneath that upon the right hand
was a tapestried bench for the archbishops, bishops, and members of the
Council, while immediately in front of the shrine were placed the seats
of the Cardinal de Gondy, who was to perform the baptismal ceremonies,
and the almoners and chaplains of his suite. The whole of the court was
lined by the Swiss Guards, each holding a lighted torch, whose rays were
reflected by the myriad jewels that adorned the persons of the courtly
spectators. All the Princes of the Blood and great nobles wore their
mantles clasped and embroidered with precious stones, their plumed caps
looped with diamonds, and their sword-hilts encrusted with gems. That of
the Due d'Epernon was estimated at more than thirty thousand crowns, and
several others were of almost equal value. The attire of the Princesses
and ladies of the Court was, however, still more splendid, many of them
standing with difficulty under the weight of the closely-jewelled
brocade of which their dresses were composed, and wearing upon their
heads masses of brilliants which might have ransomed a province. The
Queen, whose dowry, as we have elsewhere shown, in a great measure
consisted of costly ornaments, appeared on this occasion with a
magnificence almost fabulous, her robe of cloth of gold and velvet being
studded with no less than thirty-two thousand pearls and three
thousand diamonds.

While their Majesties and their illustrious guests took possession of
their respective seats, the prescribed ceremonial of preparation was in
progress with the royal children, who had all been placed in state beds
covered with ermined draperies under canopies of crimson velvet. Madame
Elisabeth, the elder Princess, being surrounded by the ladies who were
privileged to assist at her levee, the outer coverlet of her bed was
withdrawn by the Comtesse de Sault and the Comtesse de Guissen; she was
then lifted from it by Madame de Lavardin, undressed by Madame de
Randan, and robed in her state costume by the Marquise de Montlor.

Madame Christine, the younger Princess, was meanwhile uncovered by the
Duchesse de Guise and Mademoiselle de Mayenne, lifted in the arms of
Mademoiselle de Vendome, undressed by the Duchesse de Rohan, and robed
by the Duchesse de Sully.

The Dauphin underwent the same ceremonies, but he was attended only by
Princesses of the Blood. It was the Princesses de Conti and de Soissons
who drew off the ermined quilt, the Princesse de Conde and the Duchesse
de Montpensier by whom he was undressed, and Mademoiselle de Bourbon who
adjusted his state robes.

When all the royal children were attired, the procession was formed. The
Swiss Guards moved first, each carrying a lighted torch, and on arriving
within the court they defiled, and, as before mentioned, lined the
walls; the hundred gentlemen on duty in the palace followed, and these
were succeeded by the ordinary members of the household and the
gentlemen of the bedchamber all carrying tapers of white wax. After them
came the drums, fifes, hautboys, and trumpets, together with nine
heralds, behind whom walked the Grand Provost of the palace, the Knights
of the Holy Ghost, and finally, the Children of France with their
respective retinues. The first group consisted of the train of the
younger Princess, in which the Baron de la Chatre[342] bore the vase, M.
de Montigny[343] the basin, the Comte de la Rochepot the cushion, M. de
Chemerault the taper, M. de Liancourt[344] the christening-cap, and the
Marechal de Fervaques[345] the salt-cellar. The Marquis de
Bois-Dauphin[346] carried the infant in his arms, and Madame de
Chemerault bore her train. She was followed by a suite of twelve nobles,
each bearing a flambeau in his hand; and after these came the Due de
Lorraine as godfather, with Don Juan de Medicis, son of the Grand Duke
Ferdinand of Tuscany, as proxy for the Grand Duchess of Florence, the
other sponsor, the ladies who had assisted at the Princess's levee
closing the train.

This party had no sooner taken possession of the place assigned to them
than the second group began to enter the enclosure. First came the
Marechal de Lavardin[347] with the ewer, then the Duc de Sully with the
cushion, next the Duc de Montbazon[348] with the taper, then the Duc
d'Epernon with the christening-cap, and finally, the Duc d'Aiguillon
with the salt-cellar. The Prince de Joinville carried the Princess,
whose ermine train was borne by Mademoiselle de Rohan. There was no
godfather, and the Duchesse d'Angouleme[349] walked alone as the proxy
of the Archduchess Elisabeth of Flanders, immediately behind _Madame_,
followed by Mademoiselle de Montmorency as her train-bearer, and the
ladies who had assisted at the levee.

Finally appeared the third and last division of the procession, headed
by the Prince de Vaudemont,[350] carrying the taper; and then followed
in succession the Chevalier de Vendome with the christening-cap, the Duc
de Vendome with the salt-cellar, the Duc de Montpensier with the ewer,
the Comte de Soissons with the basin, and the Prince de Conti with the
cushion; the Sieur Gilles de Souvry carried the Dauphin, whose right
hand was held by the Prince de Conti, while the train of his velvet
mantle, edged with ermine, was borne by the Duc de Guise, behind whom
followed twenty great nobles holding lighted flambeaux. These were
succeeded by the Cardinal-Legate de Joyeuse, who represented Paul V as
sponsor, and the Duchess of Mantua, the godmother, the Princesses of the
Blood who had assisted at the levee closing the procession.

The Dauphin having been placed upon the table, the Cardinal approached
him and demanded: "Sir, what do you ask?"

"The sacramental ceremonies of baptism," replied the little Prince,
according to the instructions which he had received from the Almoner
of Boulogne.

"Have you already been baptized?" again inquired the prelate.

"Yes, thank God," said the Dauphin firmly. To all the other
interrogations of the Cardinal he simply answered, "_Ab renuncio_"

After the unction, when questioned on his belief according to the
ordinary form, the little Prince responded audibly, "_Credo_"; and
finally, he recited without error or hesitation the Lord's Prayer, the
Hail Mary, and the Creed.

The Princesses were then successively placed upon the table, when the
elder was named Elisabeth, after her illustrious godmother the
Archduchess of Flanders, and the younger Christine.

The baptismal ceremonies were followed by a grand banquet served upon
four different tables. The attendants at that of the King were the
Princes de Conde, de Conti, and de Montpensier; while the Queen was
waited on by the Dues de Vendome, de Guise, and de Vaudemont; the Legate
by the Comte de Candale and the Marquis de Rosny;[351] and the Duchess
of Mantua by the Baron de Bassompierre and the Comte de Sault.

On the following day the morning was occupied by the courtiers in
tilting at the ring, the prizes being distributed by the Queen and the
Duchess of Mantua; and at dusk the whole of the royal party proceeded to
the wide plain which lies to the east of Fontainebleau, in the centre of
which the Due de Sully had caused a castellated building to be erected,
which was filled with rockets and other artificial fireworks, and which
was besieged, stormed, and taken by an army of satyrs and savages. This
spectacle greatly delighted the Court, while not the least interesting
feature of the exhibition was presented by the immense concourse of
people (estimated at upwards of twelve thousand) who had collected to
witness the magnificent pyrotechnic display, and who rent the air with
their acclamations of loyalty.[352]

All further rejoicings were, however, rendered unseasonable by the rapid
increase of the plague, which having declared itself with great
virulence at Fontainebleau, induced the hasty departure of the Court;
and the illustrious guests having taken leave of the King and Queen
laden with rich presents, their Majesties, with a limited retinue,
repaired for a time to Montargis.

These baptismal festivities had not, meanwhile, been without alloy to
the dissipated monarch. Despite the fascination of the wily Marquise,
and the charms of the Comtesse de Moret, Henry was by no means
insensible to the attractions of the many beautiful women who followed
in the suite of the Queen at the august ceremony just described; and,
among others, he especially honoured with his notice the Duchesses de
Montpensier[353] and de Nevers.

In neither case, however, was he destined to be successful, both these
ladies possessing too much self-respect to accord any attention to his
illicit gallantries; and this failure, especially with the latter, of
whom he had become seriously enamoured, only tended to re-engage him
with Madame de Verneuil. Throughout all the period occupied by the
christening festivities, Madame de Nevers[354] had been the object of
his special pursuit; but so carefully did she avoid all occasions of
private conversation, that the King, unaccustomed to so decided a
resistance, became irritated to a degree which induced her to escape
from the Court as soon as the found it practicable; and accordingly, on
the very day after the festivities, she left Fontainebleau without any
previous intimation of such a design, resisting all the efforts made by
the sovereign to detain her. Nor did she yield to his subsequent
endeavours for her recall, but on the appointment of her husband during
the following year to the embassy at Rome, she accompanied him thither;
and several months elapsed ere she reappeared in France, where her duty
having compelled her to pay her respects to the Queen on her return,
Henry was so little master of himself as to display his mortification
by inquiring who she was, and on her name being announced, to exclaim
loud enough for her to hear his reply: "Ha! Madame la Duchesse de
Nevers! She is terribly altered."

The shaft fell harmless. The lady evinced the most perfect composure
under the royal criticism, and having fulfilled her duties as a subject
towards her sovereigns, she once more withdrew from the Court, and
terminated her life as she had commenced it, without scandal or


[312] Mamanga was the name given in playfulness by the Dauphin to Madame
de Montglat.

[313] Madame de Drou was the governess of the infant Princess.

[314] Mademoiselle de Piolant, femme-de-chambre to the royal children.

[315] Sully, _Mem_. vol. vi. pp. 151-161.

[316] Bassompierre, _Mem_. p. 45.

[317] Madame Christine de France, who subsequently became Duchess of

[318] L'Etoile, vol. iii. p. 36;

[319] _Memoires_, p. 46.

[320] Charles Emmanuel de Lorraine, Comte de Sommerive, second son of
the Duc de Mayenne, who restored the city of Laon to the King in 1594,
and died at Naples in 1609.

[321] Charles de Gonzaga de Cleves, Duc de Nevers, was the son of Louis
de Gonzaga, Prince of Mantua, Duc de Nevers, and Governor of Champagne
(who died in 1601, and to whose title he succeeded), and of Henriette de
Cleves, Duchesse de Nevers et de Rethel.

[322] _Mercure Francais_, 1606, pp. 100, 101.

[323] Richelieu, _La Mere et le Fils_, vol. i. p. 14.

[324] _Mercure Francais_, 1606, p. 102.

[325] _Mercure Francais,_ 1606, p. 106.

[326] L'Etoile, vol. iii. p. 358.

[327] Mezeray, vol. x. p. 282.

[328] Dreux du Radier, vol. vi. pp. 102, 103.

[329] Henri de Bourbon, Due de Montpensier, Governor of Normandy, peer
of France, Prince of La Roche-sur-Yon, Dauphin d'Auvergne, etc., was
born in Touraine in 1573. During the lifetime of his father he bore the
title of Prince de Dombes. The King confided to him the command of the
army which he despatched to Brittany against the Due de Mercoeur. He
subsequently became Governor of Normandy, and reduced that revolted
province, which still held out for the League, to obedience. He was
present at the memorable siege of Amiens in 1597, where he led the
vanguard of the army, and accompanied Henry on his expedition against
Savoy and Brescia. He was a knight of all the King's Orders, and
presided at the assembly of the nobles of Rouen. He died in Paris, of
lingering consumption, in 1608.

[330] The Baron de la Chataigneraie was an officer of the Queen's guard.

[331] Richelieu, _La Mere et le Fils_ vol. i. p. 18. _Mercure Francais_
1606, p. 107. L'Etoile, vol. iii. p. 370 _note_.

[332] _Mercure Francais_, 1606, p. 107.

[333] L'Etoile, vol. iii. p. 370.

[334] It had frequently been foretold to the King that he would die in a
carriage, and the prophecy had made so great an impression upon his
mind, that he always endeavoured to conceal it under a show of gaiety,
particularly when any accident occurred by which it appeared likely to
be verified. In the year 1597, while he was travelling near Mouy, in
Picardy, the coach in which he rode was tumbled down a precipice; while
the danger incurred at Neuilly was scarcely less great; and the
prediction was fatally accomplished in 1610.--_Lettres de Nicolas
Pasquier_, book i. letter i.

[335] In order to render this impertinence intelligible, it is necessary
to explain that anciently, when the sovereigns of France were about to
swallow their first draught at table, the cup-bearer announced in a loud
voice, "The King drinks"; upon which a flourish of trumpets, at a given
signal, announced the important fact to those who were not present.

[336] Saint-Edme, vol. ii. pp. 237, 238.

[337] Sully, _Mem_. vol. vi. p. 233.

[338] Eleonora de Medicis, wife of Vincent I, Duke of Mantua, and sister
to the French Queen.

[339] Bassompierre, _Mem_. p. 50.

[340] Ippolito Aldobrandini, subsequently Pope Clement VIII, was born at
Fano. He was created a cardinal in 1585, and in 1592 succeeded Innocent
IX. He reconciled Henri IV to the Church of Rome, attached the duchy of
Ferrara to the Holy See, organized the famous congregations _de
auxiliis_ on grace and free-will, and contributed to the Peace of
Vervins. He died in 1605.

[341] Alessandro de Medicis, who succeeded Clement VIII in 1605, and
died the same year.

[342] Claude de la Chatre, Marshal of France, was the son of Claude de
la Chatre, Baron de Nancy, Besigny, and Baune de la Maisonfort. He was
created Knight of St. Michael and of the Holy Ghost by Henri III in
1588, and was Governor of Berry and Orleans. He distinguished himself in
several engagements; and his own valour, combined with the protection of
the Connetable de Montmorency, of whom he had been a page in his youth,
rapidly acquired for him both fortune and renown. After the death of
Henri III, M. de la Chatre embraced the cause of the League, when the
Duc de Mayenne, at the solicitation of M. de Guise, created him Marshal
of France, in which character he assisted at what were called by the
Leaguers the States of Paris.

[343] Francois de la Grange, Seigneur de Montigny and de Sery, was a
member of the Court of Henri III, and was one of his _mignons_. He was,
under that monarch, successively gentleman of the bedchamber, captain of
the palace-guard, head-steward of the household, and Governor of Berry,
Blois, etc. He acquired great distinction by his bravery at the battle
of Coutras, and at the sieges of Aubigny, Rouen, and Fontaine-Francaise,
and was admitted a knight of the King's Orders the same year (1595).
Finally, in 1616, he was created Marshal of France.

[344] Nicolas du Plessis, Comte de Liancourt, Comte de Beaumont, first
equerry to the King, and Governor of Paris. He married Antoinette de
Pons, Marquise de Guercheville, the widow of Henri de Silly, Comte de la
Rocheguyon, a lady of extraordinary beauty who had been reared in the
Court of Henri III.

[345] Guillaume de Hautemer, Comte de Grancy, Seigneur de Fervaques,
knight of the King's Orders, and Marshal of France.

[346] Urbain de Laval, Marquis de Bois-Dauphin, Comte de Bresteau,
Seigneur de Persigny, etc., was the son of Rene de Laval, second of the
name, Seigneur de Bois-Dauphin, and of Jeanne de Lenoncourt-Monteuil,
his second wife. He was taken prisoner at the battle of Ivry, and was
created Marshal of France by the Due de Mayenne. Henri IV confirmed him
in this dignity, and restored to him his estates of Sably and

[347] Jean de Beaumanoir, Marquis de Lavardin, was the son of Charles de
Beaumanoir, who was killed at the massacre of St. Bartholomew. He had
been brought up a Protestant at the Court of Henri IV, when that monarch
was King of Navarre; but after the death of his father he embraced the
Catholic religion, and at the age of eighteen commenced the career of
arms, in which profession he acquired so much celebrity that he
commanded the armies of the King during the absence of the Duc de
Joyeuse. In 1595 he was honoured with the cordon of St. Michael, was
created a Marshal of France, and his estate of Lavardin was erected into
a marquisate. At the coronation of Louis XIII he officiated as Grand
Master, was subsequently ambassador-extraordinary in England, and died
at Paris in 1614.

[348] Hercule de Rohan, Duc de Montbazon, and Prince de Guemenee, was
born in 1568, and was the father, by his first marriage, of Marie de
Rohan, who married Louis Charles d'Albert, Duc de Luynes, from whom she
was divorced in 1621, and who subsequently became the wife of Claude de
Lorraine, Duc de Chevreuse. The Duc de Montbazon had issue by his second
marriage with Marie d'Avaugour of Brittany in 1628, Francois, a branch
of the house of Soubise, which became extinct in 1787; Marie Eleonore,
abbess of the convent of the Trinity at Caen; and Anne, who became the
second wife of Louis Charles d'Albert, Duc de Luynes. M. de Montbazon
died in 1654.

[349] Diane de France, Duchesse d'Angouleme, born in 1538, was the
legitimated daughter of Henri II and Philippa Duco, a Piedmontese lady.
She was first married (in 1553)to Horatio Farnese, Duc de Castro, who
only survived their union six months; and subsequently to the Marechal
de Montmorency, the son of the Connetable, in 1557, of whom she became
the widow in 1579. Her firmness and prudence were conspicuous during the
civil wars, and it was through her exertions that the reconciliation was
effected between Henri III and Henri IV, when the latter was King of
Navarre. She died in 1619.

[350] The Prince de Vaudemont was the brother of the Duc de Lorraine.

[351] Maximilien de Bethune, Marquis de Rosny, was the elder son of the
Due de Sully and of Anne de Courtenay, his first wife. He was
Superintendent of Fortifications, Governor of Mantes and Gergeau, and
was destined to succeed his father as Grand Master had he survived him.
He died in 1634.

[352] _Mercure Francais_, 1606, pp. 110-113.

[353] Henriette Catherine, Duchesse de Joyeuse, daughter and heiress of
Henri de Joyeuse, Comte de Bouchage, Marshal of France, who died a
Capuchin under the name of Pere Ange, and of Catherine de la Valette.
She had, in 1597, become the wife of Henri de Bourbon, Due de
Montpensier, etc., the last Prince of his line, who dying in 1608 left
her a widow. After the death of Henri IV (1611), she re-married with
Charles de Lorraine, Due de Guise, and died in 1656, at the age of
seventy-one years.

[354] Catherine de Lorraine, daughter of Charles, Duc de Mayenne, and
niece of Guise _le Balafre_. She married (in 1599) Charles de Gonzaga,
Duc de Nevers, who subsequently became, by the death of Vincent I, Duke
of Mantua. She died on the 8th of March 1618, at the early age of
thirty-three years.

[355] _Amours du Grand Alcandre_, p. 48. Dreux du Radier, vol. vi. pp.



Profuse expenditure of the French nobles--Prevalence of duelling under
Henri IV--Meeting of the Prince de Conde and the Duc de Nevers--They are
arrested by the King's guard--Reconciliation of the two nobles--The Duc
de Soubise is wounded in a duel--Profligacy of Madame de Moret--The King
insists upon her marriage with the Prince de Joinville--Indignation of
the Duchesse de Guise--A dialogue with Majesty--The Prince de Joinville
is exiled--Madame de Moret intrigues with the Comte de Sommerive--He
promises her marriage--He attempts to assassinate M. de Balagny--He is
exiled to Lorraine--Mademoiselle des Essarts--Birth of the Duc
d'Orleans--Peace between the Pope and the Venetians--The Queen and her
confidants--Death of the Chancellor of France--Death of the Cardinal de
Lorraine--Royal rejoicings--The last ballet of a dying Prince--Betrothal
of Mademoiselle de Montpensier to the infant Duc d'Orleans--Sully as a
theatrical manager--The Court gamester--Death of the Duc de
Montpensier--The ex-Queen Marguerite founds a monastery--Influence of
Concini and Leonora over the Queen--Arrogance of Concini--Indignation of
the King--A royal rupture--The King leaves Paris for Chantilly--Sully
and the Queen--The letter--Anger of the King--Sully reconciles the King
and Queen--Madame de Verneuil and the Duc de Guise---Court
gambling--Birth of the Duc d'Anjou--Betrothal of the Duc de Vendome and
Mademoiselle de Mercoeur--Reluctance of the lady's family--Celebration
of the marriage--Munificence of Henry--Arrival of Don Pedro de
Toledo--His arrogance--Admirable rejoinder of the King--Object of the
embassy--Passion of Henry for hunting--Embellishment of Paris--Eduardo
Fernandez--The King's debts of honour--Despair of Madame de
Verneuil--Defective policy--A bold stroke for a coronet--The fallen

Despite the presence of the pestilence the gaieties of the past winter
had surpassed, alike in the Court and in the capital, all that had
hitherto been witnessed in France. The profusion of the nobles, whom no
foreign war compelled to disburse their revenues in arming their
retainers, and in preparing themselves to maintain their dignity and
rank in the eyes of a hostile nation, was unchecked and excessive;
while, as we have already shown, the monarch felt no inclination to
control an outlay by which they thus voluntarily crippled their

The year 1607 commenced, with the exception of the fatal scourge which
still existed in and about Paris, in the greatest abundance, and the
most perfect peace. The Court celebrated the New Year at St.
Germain-en-Laye, and on the following day proceeded to Fontainebleau,
where during the _careme-prenant_[356] a ballet was danced, and several
magnificent entertainments were given to their Majesties by the great
nobles of the household. These festivities were, however, unfortunately
interrupted by an event which created universal consternation and
anxiety. The most glaring evil of the reign of Henri IV had long been
the prevalence of duelling, which he had in the first instance neglected
to discountenance; and which had, in consequence, reached an extreme
that threatened the most serious results, not only to the principal
personages of the kingdom, but even to those whose comparative
insignificance in society should have shielded them from all
participation in so iniquitous and senseless a practice. L'Etoile
computes the number of individuals who lost their lives in these illicit
encounters at several thousands; nor did the tardy edicts issued by the
King produce a cessation of the custom. On the 4th of February, the
Prince de Conde, conceiving himself aggrieved by some expression used by
the Due de Nevers, sent him a challenge, to which the Duke instantly
responded; and he was already on the ground watching the approach of his
antagonist, when a company of the King's bodyguard arrived, who, in the
name of his Majesty, forbade the conflict, and escorted the two
quasi-combatants to the royal presence, where, "more in sorrow than in
anger," Henry reprimanded both Princes; reminding them of their
disobedience to his expressed commands, of the fatal example which their
want of self-government would afford to their inferiors, and of the loss
which the death of either party would have inflicted upon himself. He
then more particularly addressed M. de Nevers, and reproached him
severely for having evinced so little respect for the Blood Royal of
France as to accept, under any circumstances, a challenge from a
relative of his sovereign, who should have been sacred in his eyes.[357]

Whether the arguments of the King convinced the two nobles, or their
loyalty sufficed to render them conscious of their error, is
unimportant. Henry had the satisfaction of removing the misunderstanding
between them, and from the royal closet they proceeded to the apartments
of the Queen, in order to allay an anxiety which, from her friendship
and affection for Madame de Nevers who was then absent on one of her
estates, had been painfully great.

The expressed displeasure of the King at these encounters did not,
however, as we have already stated, suffice to prevent their frequent
occurrence; and on the 22d of the same month another hostile meeting
took place between the Duc de Soubise[358] and M. de Boccal, which had
nearly proved fatal to the former; but it having been explained to the
monarch that the antagonist of M. de Soubise had long withstood the
provocation of the Duke, declaring that he dare not raise his hand
against one so nearly connected with the throne, and that he had not
yielded until the impetuous and intemperate violence of his antagonist
had left him no other resource, Henry, with his usual clemency, forgave
the crime.[359]

In addition to these occurrences, which were moreover succeeded by
others of the same description during the month, the anger of the King
was excited by a discovery which he made of the infidelity of Madame de
Moret. Indulgent to his own profligacy to a degree which rendered him
insensible to his self-abasement, Henry was peculiarly alive to the
degradation of sharing with a rival the affections, or perhaps it were
more fitting to say the favours, of his mistresses. He readily forgot
the fact that he had himself been the first to initiate them into the
rudiments of vice--to induce them to abnegate their self-respect, and to
brave the opinion of the world and their own reproaches--while he could
not brook that they should reduce him to a level with one of his own
subjects, and that they should so far emancipate themselves as to feel a
preference for younger and more attractive men when they had been
honoured by his notice. The dissolute monarch did not pause to reflect
that with women the national proverb, _il n'y a que le premier pas qui
coute_, is but too often realized, and that he was, in fact, the
architect of his own mortification.

Madame de Moret had long been attached to the Prince de Joinville; who,
young, reckless, and impetuous, returned her passion, and scarcely made
any effort to conceal his rivalry with the monarch. Courtiers have,
moreover, sharp eyes, and it was not long ere the King was apprised of
the intrigue. Bassompierre relates that he hastened to warn the
imprudent lovers of their danger, but that believing him to have some
personal motive for his interference, they disregarded the caution;[360]
and the fact of their mutual passion at length became so well
authenticated, that Henry, whose pride rather than his heart was wounded
by the levity of the Countess, reproached her in the most insulting
terms with her misconduct.[361] Madame de Moret did not attempt to deny
her attachment to the Prince, but excused herself by reminding the
monarch that, honoured as she was by his preference, she could not
forget that she was merely his mistress, and could anticipate no higher
destiny, while M. de Joinville was prepared to make her his wife.

"In that case, Madame," said the King, "you are forgiven. I can permit
my subjects to espouse my mistresses, but I cannot allow them to play
the gallants to those ladies whom I have distinguished by my own favour.
You shall not be disappointed in your expectations, and this marriage
shall have my sanction without delay."

It can scarcely be doubted that this ready assent must have been no
slight mortification to the vanity of Madame de Moret, while it is
equally certain that it was perfectly sincere on the part of the King,
although from a cause altogether independent of the Countess herself. In
fact, the Prince de Joinville having previously rendered himself
obnoxious to the monarch by his marked attentions to the Marquise de
Verneuil, the latter was anxious to see him married, and thus to rid
himself of a dangerous rival. Such an alliance must, moreover, as he at
once felt, deeply wound the pride of the Guises, whom it was his
interest to humble by every means in his power; and accordingly he
hastened upon leaving Madame de Moret to summon the young Prince to his
presence, and to insist upon the fulfilment of his promise.

Startled by so unexpected an order, M. de Joinville feigned a ready
compliance, but on his dismissal from the royal closet he expressed his
indignation in no measured terms, declaring that had any other than the
sovereign proposed to him so disgraceful an alliance, whatever might
have been his rank, he would have resented the insult upon the instant;
while no sooner did the Duchess his mother become apprised of the
circumstance, than she hastened to throw herself at the feet of the
King, beseeching him rather to take her life than to subject her son to
such dishonour.

"Rise, Madame," said Henry gravely; "yours is a petition which I cannot
grant, as I never yet took the life of any woman, and have still to
learn the possibility of doing so."

"A Guise, Sire," pursued the haughty Duchess, as she once more stood
erect before him, "cannot marry the mistress of any man, even although
that man should chance to be his monarch."

"Every man, Madame," retorted the King, "must pay the penalty of seeking
to humiliate his sovereign, even although that man be a Guise."

"M. de Joinville, Sire, shall never become the husband of Jacqueline de

"Neither, Madame," said the King angrily, "shall he ever become her
gallant. This is not the first occasion upon which he has had the
insolence to interpose between me and my favourites. I have not yet
forgotten his intrigue with Madame de Verneuil; and if I pardoned him
upon that occasion, it was not on his own account, but from respect for
the relationship which exists between us. Neither, Madame, has it
escaped my memory that the House of Guise endeavoured to wrest from me
the crown of France; and, in short, finding myself so ill-requited for
my indulgence, I am weary of exercising a lenity which has degenerated
into weakness. Your son is at perfect liberty to marry my mistress,
since he has seen fit to desire it, and he shall do so, or repent his
obduracy in the Bastille, where he will have time and leisure to learn
the respect which he owes to his sovereign."

"It is your Majesty who is wanting in respect to yourself," said the
Duchess haughtily.

"Madame!" exclaimed the King; "do not give me cause to forget that you
are my aunt. I can hear no more until you assume a tone better suited to
our relative positions. You have heard my resolve, and may retire."

Thus abruptly dismissed, Madame de Guise withdrew, and hastened to
apprise her son of the impending peril, upon which he escaped from the
capital before the order issued for his arrest could be put into
execution; while his relatives endeavoured by humility and submission to
obtain his forgiveness. Henry, however, had been too deeply wounded,
alike by the levity of the son and the overbearing haughtiness of the
mother, to yield to their entreaties, and the only concession which he
could be induced to make was a conditional pardon involving the
perpetual exile of the culprit.[362]

Nor was the King, who at once discovered that he had been duped, less
inclined to visit upon Madame de Moret the consequences of her
falsehood, and he openly declared that she should also have been
compelled to quit the country had she not been on the eve of becoming a

This event shortly afterwards took place, but, although during the
following year Henry legitimated her son,[364] he ever afterwards
treated her with the greatest coldness; nor did the birth of the child
in any way affect her position, as had been the case with the Duchesse
de Beaufort and the Marquise de Verneuil, the King contenting himself by
sending to her a present of money and jewels, but evincing no
disposition to raise her rank.

It would appear, moreover, that the indifference was mutual, as only a
short time subsequently she encouraged the assiduities of the Comte de
Sommerive, from whom, according to Sully, there could be no doubt that
she did actually obtain a written promise of marriage; and the King was
no sooner apprised of the circumstance than he expressed, as he had
previously done in the case of the Prince de Joinville, his perfect
willingness to consent to the alliance, merely desiring M. de
Balagny,[365] a gentleman of his household upon whom he could rely, to
watch the proceedings of the lovers, and to acquaint him with every
particular, should he have cause to suspect that the intentions of the
Count were equivocal. M. de Sommerive, however, who soon discovered that
he was an object of _espionnage_, became so much exasperated that,
having on one occasion encountered the royal confidant at a convenient
moment for the purpose, he drew his sword and attacked him so vigorously
that his intended victim was compelled to save himself by flight.

In this instance Henry, who had ceased to feel any interest in Madame de
Moret, contented himself by reprimanding the culprit, branding him with
the name of assassin, and finally exiling him to Lorraine, with strict
orders not to leave that province without his express permission.

We will here terminate the history of the ex-favourite, who has already
occupied only too much space. After this last adventure she ceased to
make any figure at Court, her influence over the monarch having entirely
ceased; and seven years subsequent to his death she became the wife of
Rene du Bec, Marquis de Vardes, and the mother of two sons, the elder of
whom, Francois Rene, Comte de Moret, was afterwards famous during the
reign of Louis XIV under the title of Marquis de Vardes.[366]

The estrangement of the monarch from Madame de Moret, coupled with his
increasing coldness towards the Marquise de Verneuil, once more at this
period restored the unhappy Queen to a comparative peace of mind, which
she was not, however, long fated to enjoy; as at the close of the year a
new candidate for the royal favour presented herself in the person of
Mademoiselle des Essarts.[367] This lady, who was a member of the
household of the Comtesse de Beaumont-Harlay, had accompanied her
mistress to England, whither M. de Beaumont-Harlay[368] had been
accredited as ambassador; and on the return of her patroness to France
she appeared in her suite at Court, where she instantly attracted the
attention of the dissolute King. Her reign was happily a short one, and
at the close of two years she retired with the title of Comtesse de
Romorantin, having previously been privately married to the Archbishop
of Rheims.[369]

We shall pass over in silence the other _liaisons_ of the monarch, as
they were too transitory greatly to affect the tranquillity of the
Queen, until we are once more compelled to return to them in order to
record his unhappy passion for the beautiful Princesse de Conde--a
passion which at one period threatened to involve a European war.

On the 6th of April Marie de Medicis gave birth to her second son, who
received the title of Duc d'Orleans, that duchy having always since the
time of Philip VI been the appanage of a Prince of the Blood, or one of
the first nobles of the kingdom. The public rejoicings were universal,
and the satisfaction of the King without bounds. The little Prince was
privately baptized by the Cardinal de Gondy, until the state ceremonies
of his christening could take place; and on the 22d of the month he was
invested by the sovereign with the insignia of St. Michael and the Holy
Ghost, in the presence of the Cardinals, and the Commanders and Knights
of those Orders, with great pomp; after which a banquet was given by the
King in the great hall at Fontainebleau, and at nightfall the park was
illuminated in all directions by immense bonfires, and a pyrotechnic
display, which was witnessed by admiring and exulting thousands.

The intelligence which reached Paris on the following day that peace had
been restored between the Pope and the Venetians, through the
intervention of the French monarch; that the Papal excommunication which
had been fulminated against that republic had been repealed, and a
general absolution accorded, excited the enthusiasm of the French people
to its greatest height. They augured from this fact a brilliant future
for the little Prince, who had come into the world at the very moment
when the great work had been achieved; and this feeling was shared by
the august parents of the royal infant. So little can human foresight
fathom the designs of the Almighty Disposer of all things! Men
congratulated each other in the public street; and, forgetting the
Huguenot origin of Henry, considered him only as the champion of the
Romish faith; while they coupled his name and that of the Queen with
every endearing epithet of which they were susceptible.

The remainder of the summer was occupied by the monarch in the
embellishment of the capital, in high play,[370] and in his
rapidly-waning passion for Madame de Verneuil; while the Court resided
alternately at Fontainebleau and St. Germain; the Queen confining
herself more and more to the society of her children and her immediate
favourites, listening with jealous avidity to every rumour of infidelity
on the part of her royal consort, and occasionally renewing those
unhappy differences by which the whole of their married life had been

The kingdom was at peace, but anarchy still reigned within the walls of
the palace. It is true that the advancing age of the monarch appeared to
offer a sufficient guarantee for his moral reformation, but the daily
experience of the Queen sufficed to convince her that she must never
hope for domestic happiness; and this conviction doubtless tended to
place her more thoroughly in the power of those treacherous advisers
who, in order to strengthen their own influence, did not hesitate to
exaggerate (where exaggeration was possible) the painful errors of her
husband. She saw herself idolized by the people, who regarded her with
earnest affection as the mother of two Princes whom they looked upon as
pledges for the safety and prosperity of France, while she found herself
at the same time an object of indifference to the monarch whom they were
destined to succeed; and who, while he lavished upon his children
incessant tokens of tenderness, sacrificed her personal happiness to
every passing fancy, even at the time when he affected to reproach her
with a coldness of which he was himself the cause.

Again we fearlessly repeat that the historians of the time have not done
Marie de Medicis justice. They expatiate upon her faults, they enlarge
upon her weaknesses, they descant upon her errors; but they touch
lightly and carelessly upon the primary influences which governed her
after-life. She arrived in her new kingdom young, hopeful, and
happy--young, and her youth was blighted by neglect; hopeful, and her
hopes were crushed by unkindness; happy, and her happiness was marred by
inconstancy and insult. Her woman-nature, plastic as it might have been
under more fortunate circumstances, became indurated to harshness; and
it is not they who strive to work upon the most solid marble who should
complain if the chisel with which they pursue their purpose become
blunted in the process.

On the 5th of September of this year died M. de Bellievre, the
Chancellor of France, whose probity and justice had rendered him dear to
the people, in whose eyes the withdrawal of his Court favour only tended
to enhance his valuable qualities. He was, as a natural consequence,
succeeded by Brulart de Sillery, who had already superseded him as
Keeper of the Seals; and his body was attended to the church of St.
Germain-l'Auxerrois by a vast concourse of the citizens.

His demise was, in November, followed by that of the Cardinal de
Lorraine,[371] who, with the usual superstition of the age, was declared
to have been bewitched because his malady had baffled the skill of his
physicians; while that which renders the circumstance the more
melancholy, is the fact that the individual accused of his destruction
was burned alive at Nancy, after having been previously subjected to a
course of lingering torture.[372]

The Court meanwhile, according to Sully,[373] was more dissipated than
it had been during any previous winter since the arrival of Marie de
Medicis in France; while the account given of the state of morals
throughout the capital by L'Etoile, is one which will not bear
transcription. The new year (1608) commenced in the same manner. Ballets
were danced both at the Louvre and at the residences of the great
nobles. The ex-Queen Marguerite gave an entertainment in honour of the
birth of the young Prince, which terminated with a running at the ring,
where the prizes were distributed by herself and her successor; and,
finally, the King commanded that an especial ballet for the amusement of
the Due de Montpensier, to whose daughter he was about to affiance the
infant Duc d'Orleans, should be executed by the Duc de Vendome, the
Marquis de Bassompierre, the Baron de Thermes, and M. de Carmail, the
four nobles of the Court who were distinguished by the appellation of
"les Dangereux." The august party accordingly proceeded to the hotel of
that Prince, who was then nearly at the point of death, having
languished throughout two years in a low decline which had gradually
sapped his existence; but notwithstanding the state of debility to which
he was reduced, the Duke left his bed, and received his royal and noble
guests in the hall wherein the ballet was performed.[374] It may be
doubted, however, whether M. de Montpensier did not make this supreme
effort in consequence of the proposed alliance, and his anxiety to
evince to their Majesties his sense of the honour which was about to be
conferred upon himself and his family, rather than from any amusement
which he could hope to derive from such an exhibition. Be that, however,
as it may, the most magnificent preparations had been made for the
reception of Henry and his Queen, who were met at the foot of the great
staircase by the Duchess, followed by her women, and escorted by a score
of pages bearing lighted tapers, and thus conducted to the canopied dais
beneath which their ponderous chairs, covered with cloth of gold, had
been placed, with low stools behind and on either side of the throne,
for the use of such of the other guests as were privileged to seat
themselves in the presence of the sovereign.

The ballet, save as regarded the dying condition of the ducal host, was
executed under the happiest auspices. The King, to whom the proposed
marriage of the two children was agreeable under every aspect, was in
one of his most condescending and complacent moods; while Marie de
Medicis, whose affection for all her offspring amounted to passion, was
radiant with delight as she remembered that by the will of the Duke all
his property and estates devolved upon the young Prince, even should his
betrothed bride[375] not live to become his wife.[376]

On the following day the affiancing, of which this entertainment had
been the prelude, took place with great solemnity. The most costly
presents were exchanged, not only by the betrothed children, but also by
their royal and noble relatives. This ceremony, owing to the failing
health of the Duke, was also performed at the Hotel Montpensier, and was
succeeded by amusements of every description; among which those prepared
for the occasion at the Arsenal by Sully afforded the most marked
gratification to their Majesties. The minister had caused a spacious
theatre to be constructed, in which the Italian actors who had been
summoned to France by the Queen gave their representations. This pit or
_salle de spectacle_ was, as he himself informs us, arranged
amphitheatrically, while above were galleries divided into separate
boxes, each approached by a different staircase and entered by a
different door. Two of these galleries were reserved entirely for the
ladies who were admitted to the performance, and no man, upon any
pretext whatever, was permitted to enter them; an arrangement which
appears to be strikingly at variance with the lax morality of the time.
So resolved, nevertheless, was Sully to enforce this restriction, that
he adds with a gravity curious enough upon such a subject: "This was one
of my regulations which I would not suffer to be violated, and of which
I did not consider it beneath me personally to compel the
observance." [377]

To impress, moreover, upon his readers the strength of this
determination, he relates an anecdote of which we cannot resist the

"One day," he says, "when a very fine ballet was represented in this
hall, I perceived a man leading a lady by the hand, with whom he was
about to enter the women's gallery. He was a foreigner, and I moreover
easily recognized by his sallow complexion to what country he belonged.
'Monsieur,' I said to him, 'you will be good enough to look for another
door; for I do not think that with your skin you can hope to pass for a
lady.' 'My lord,' replied he in very bad French, 'when you ascertain who
I am, you will not, I can assure you, refuse to have the politeness of
permitting me to enter with these fair and lovely ladies, however dark I
may be. My name is Pimentello; I am well received by his Majesty, and
have frequently the honour of playing with him.' This was true, and too
true. This foreigner, of whom I had frequently heard, had won immense
sums from the King. 'How, _ventre de ma vie!_ I exclaimed, affecting
extreme anger; 'you are then, I perceive, that great glutton of a
Portuguese who daily wins the money of the King. _Pardieu_, you are by
no means welcome here, as I neither affect nor will receive such
guests.' He was about to reply, but I thrust him back, saying at the
same time, 'Go, go; find another entrance, for your jargon will fail to
make any impression upon me.' The King having subsequently inquired of
him if he had not thought the ballet magnificent and admirably executed,
Pimentello replied that he was anxious to have witnessed it, but that
he had been encountered at the door by his finance minister, who had met
him with a negative and shut him out; an adventure which so much amused
the monarch that he not only laughed heartily himself, but made the
whole Court participators in his amusement." [378]

Banquets, running at the ring, and balls in which the Queen occasionally
condescended to join, varied the entertainments; which were, however,
suddenly terminated by the death of the Duc de Montpensier, which
occurred on the 28th of the month; and so much was the King affected by
his demise, that he forbade all the customary diversions during the
ensuing Carnival.

Nothing could exceed, save in the case of a sovereign, the splendour of
the funeral ceremonies observed after the Duke's decease. He had no
sooner expired than his body was carried into a hall richly hung with
tapestry, and surrounded by seats and benches covered with cloth of
gold, elaborately embroidered with _fleurs-de-lis,_ intended for the
accommodation of the prelates, nobles, knights, and gentlemen of the
Duke's household who were appointed to watch beside the corpse. The body
lay upon a state bed covered with cloth of gold which swept the floor,
and was bordered with ermine. He wore his ducal robes, with a coronet,
and the great collar of St. Michael; and had his white-gloved hands
crossed upon his breast. At the foot of the bier stood a small table
upon which was a massive silver crucifix; and near it a second
supporting a vase of holy water. In this state the deceased Duke
remained during eight days; the officers of his household waiting upon
him in the same manner, and with the same ceremonies as when he was
alive. A prelate said the grace; the water, in which while in existence
the Prince had been accustomed to lave his hands previously to
commencing a meal, was presented to his vacant chair; the different
courses were placed upon the table by the proper officers; a silver
goblet was prepared at the same moment in which he had formerly been in
the habit of taking his first draught; and, finally, the same prelate
uttered a thanksgiving, to which he added a "De profundis," and the
prayer for the dead; when the food that had been served up was
distributed to the poor.

At the termination of the eight days the funeral service was performed
at Notre Dame, in the presence of the Knights of the Holy Ghost, all
wearing their collars. The chief mourners were the Prince de Conde and
the Comte de Soissons, the cousins of the deceased Duke; and his funeral
oration was delivered by M. de Fenouillet, Bishop of Montpellier. The
body was then conveyed to Champigny in Poitou, where the Duke was laid
to rest with his ancestors.[379]

Having strictly forbidden all public festivities, Henry removed the
Court to Fontainebleau; and Marguerite, whose unblushing libertinism was
a byword in Paris, seized the moment to erect an almshouse and convent
upon a portion of the grounds of her hotel. It was stated that the
ex-Queen during her residence at Usson, where, as we have already seen,
her career was one of the most degrading profligacy, had made a vow that
should she ever be permitted to revisit Paris, she would support a
certain number of monks who should daily sing the praises of the Deity;
and she accordingly gave to the chapel attached to the convent the name
of the Chapel of Praise, while the house itself was designated the
Monastery of the Holy Trinity. It was no sooner built than it was given
by the foundress to the reformed and bare-footed Fathers of St.
Augustine; but after having solicited in their favour various privileges
which were accorded by the Sovereign-Pontiff, she dispossessed them in
the year 1613, and established in their place the Augustine Fathers of
the Congregation of Bourges.

Meanwhile the influence of Concini and his wife over the mind of the
Queen unhappily increased with time, until the arrogance of the former
became so great that he had the insolence to enter the lists at a grand
tilting at the ring which was publicly held in the Rue St. Antoine in
the presence of the monarch and his Court; a piece of presumption which
was rendered still more unpalatable to Henry by the fact that the
Italian, who was well skilled in such exercises, bore away the prize
for which the whole of his own nobility had contended.

So arrogant, indeed, had he become, and so inflated with the
consciousness of wealth--Marie de Medicis having been lavish even beyond
her means both to his wife and himself--that he entered into a
negotiation for the purchase of La Ferte, a property estimated at
between two and three hundred thousand crowns; and he no sooner
ascertained that the Duchesse de Sully had waited upon the Queen to
entreat of her Majesty to forbid the transfer, as such an acquisition
made by an individual who was generally known to be penniless only a few
years previously would necessarily excite the public disaffection
towards herself, than he had the audacity to proceed to the Arsenal and
to upbraid that lady for her interference in the most unmeasured and
insulting terms, declaring that he was independent both of the King of
France and of his subjects, whatever might be their sex and rank; and
that whoever thwarted him in his projects might live to rue the day in
which they braved his anger.

This intemperance having come to the ears of the King, his indignation
was excessive; but, as on previous occasions, he lacked the moral
courage to assert his dignity; and satisfied himself by bitter
complaints to Sully of the fatal hold which her two Italian attendants
had secured upon the affections of the Queen, and by replying to the
reproaches of Marie upon the subject of his new attachment for Charlotte
des Essarts, and the continued insolence of Madame de Verneuil, with
vehement upbraidings on the vassalage in which she lived to the indecent
caprices and shameless extortions of a waiting-woman and her husband.

Marie de Medicis, who had hoped that the rank in her household which had
been conceded to Leonora would protect her for the future against
allusions to the obscurity of her origin, was greatly incensed by the
tone of contempt still maintained by the King whenever he made any
allusion either to Leonora or Concini; and eventually these
recriminations attained to such a height that Henry abruptly quitted the
Louvre (where the delicate health of his royal consort had induced him
to establish his temporary residence), and proceeded to Chantilly,
without taking leave of her. On his way, however, he alighted at the
Arsenal, where he informed Sully of the reason of his sudden departure;
and the minister became so much alarmed at this unequivocal
demonstration of displeasure on the part of the monarch, that he
resolved not to lose a moment in advising the Queen to some concession
which might cause the King to return to the capital. After the mid-day
meal he accordingly repaired to the Louvre, accompanied only by a
secretary who was to await him in an antechamber, and made his way to
the apartments of Marie. On reaching the saloon adjoining the private
closet of the Queen, he found Madame Concini seated at the door with her
head buried in her hands, evidently absorbed in thought. She started up,
however, when he addressed her; and in reply to his request that she
would announce him to her royal mistress, she replied that she would do
so willingly, although she apprehended that her Majesty would not
receive him, as she had refused entrance to herself. She had, however,
no sooner raised the tapestry, and scratched upon the door, than Marie,
on learning who was without, desired that M. de Sully should be
instantly admitted. When the Duke entered he found the Queen seated at a
table, busily engaged in writing; and as he approached her with the
customary obeisance, she hastily motioned to him to place himself upon a
stool immediately in front of her.

"You are right welcome, M. le Ministre," she said in a tone that was not
altogether steady, although she struggled to suppress all outward
emotion. "You are doubtless already apprised that the King has withdrawn
from the capital in anger, but you have yet to learn that he has left me
no whit more satisfied than himself. I was unprepared for so abrupt a
departure; and as I had still much to say to him on the subject of our
disagreement, I find myself compelled to the exercise of my clerkly
skill, and am now occupied in telling him in writing all that I had left
unsaid. There is the letter," she continued with a bitter smile, as she
threw the ample scroll across the table; "read it, and tell me if I have
not more than sufficient cause to consider myself both aggrieved and

"Madame," said the incorruptible minister, when he had perused the
document thus submitted to him, "you must pardon me if I venture to
declare that you must never suffer that letter to meet the eye of your
royal consort: it contains matter to induce your eternal separation."

"Can you deny one assertion which I have made?" demanded the Queen

"I sympathize in all the trials and troubles of your Majesty," was the
evasive reply. "I would leave no effort untried to terminate them; a
fact of which you have long, I trust, Madame, felt convinced; and thus I
cannot see you about to wilfully destroy every chance of happiness,
without imploring of you to reflect deeply and calmly before you take so
extreme a measure as that which you now contemplate. The King is already
incensed against you; and if spoken words have thus angered him, I dare
not contemplate the consequences of such as these before me, written
hours after your contention. I therefore beseech you to suppress this
letter; and both for your own sake, and for that of the French nation,
rather to seek a reconciliation with His Grace your husband than to
increase the ill-feeling which so unhappily exists."

"You make no allowance for me, Monsieur, as a woman and a wife; you only
argue with the Queen."

"Madame," persisted Sully, "in this instance it is rather to the woman
and the wife that I address myself than to the Queen. As a woman, the
bitterness and invective of this missive," and he laid his spread hand
emphatically upon the paper, "would suffice to cover you with blame and
to deprive you of sympathy, while as a mother it would authorize your
separation from your children. Let me entreat of you therefore to forego
your purpose."

Marie de Medicis sat silent for a few moments, and then making a violent
effort over herself, she said slowly: "I will in so far follow your
counsel, M. le Duc, that I will destroy this letter, although the saints
bear witness that it has cost me both time and care to prepare it, but I
will yield no further. I am weary of being made the puppet of an
unfaithful husband and his band of unblushing favourites, who receive,
each in succession, some high-sounding title by which they are enabled
to thrust themselves and their shame upon me in the very halls of the
palace. I must and will tell the King this."

"Then, Madame, if such be unfortunately your decision," said her
listener, "at least let me urge you to do it in gentler terms."

"I am in no humour to temporize."

Sully made no reply.

"Do not wrap yourself up in silence, Monsieur," exclaimed the Queen
after waiting in vain for his reply. "I believe that you wish to serve
me, and you cannot better do so than by putting these unpalatable truths
into a less repulsive form. Here are the means at hand, but, mark me, I
will not suffer one particular to be omitted."

Under this somewhat difficult restriction the minister proceeded to obey
her command, but she argued upon every sentence, and cavilled at every
paragraph, which tended to soften the harsher features of the letter. At
length, however, the task was completed, and nothing remained to be
effected save its transcription by the Queen. The letter was long and
elaborate, as Sully had skilfully contrived to terminate every reproach
by some reasoning which could not fail to touch the feelings of the
King. Thus, after upbraiding her husband with his perpetual
infidelities, Marie was made to say that if she complained, it was less
for herself, than because, in addition to her anxiety to be the sole
possessor of his heart, she could not coldly contemplate the injury
which he inflicted upon his person and dignity by becoming the rival of
his own subjects, and thus compromising his kingly character; and that
if she insisted with vehemence upon the exile of Madame de Verneuil, her
excuse must be found in the fact that in no other way could her peace
and honour be secured, or the welfare of her children be rendered
sure--those children of whom he was the father as well as the sovereign,
and whom she would cause to fall at his feet to implore compassion for
their mother. She then reminded him of the numerous promises which he
had made to her that he would cease to give her cause of complaint, and
terminated the missive by calling God to witness that should he still be
willing to fulfil them, she would, on her side, renounce all desire for
vengeance upon those by whom she had been so deeply, wronged.

Certain, however, it is that, even with these modifications, the letter
gave serious offence to Henry, who, shortly after its receipt, wrote to
apprise Sully of what he denominated the _impertinence_ of his wife, but
declared that he was less incensed against her than against the
individual by whom the epistle had been dictated, as the style was not
hers, and that he had consequently discovered the agency of a third
person, whose identity he left it to Sully to ascertain, as he had
resolved never again either to serve or even to see him, be he whom he
might, so long as he had life.

With a truth and frankness which did him honour, the finance minister,
despite this threat, did not hesitate when subsequently urged upon the
subject by the King to admit the authorship of the obnoxious document,
and in support of his assertion to place in the hands of Henry the
original draft which he had retained. On comparing this with the
autograph letter of the Queen, however, Sully at once perceived that she
had been unable to repress her anger sufficiently to adhere to his
advice, and that the interpolations were by no means calculated to
advance her interests.[380] It was evident, nevertheless, that much of
the King's indignation had subsided, and that the delicate health of his
royal consort was not without its influence over his mind. Sully
adroitly profited by this circumstance to impress upon Henry the danger
of any agitation to the Queen, whose impressionable nature occasioned
constant solicitude to her physicians, and reminded him that her late
violence had been principally induced by the rumours which had reached
her of a _liaison_ between Madame de Verneuil and the Due de Guise, an
indignity to his own person which she had declared herself unable to
brook with patience. In short, so zealously and so successfully did
Sully exert himself, that he at length induced the monarch to return to
the Louvre, and the Queen to disclaim all intention of exciting his
displeasure, in which latter attempt he was greatly aided by being
enabled to confide to her that instant measures were to be taken for the
disgrace of the Marquise, could it be proved that her friendship with
the Duc de Guise had exceeded the limits of propriety.

In the beginning of March the Court removed to Fontainebleau, where,
while awaiting the accouchement of the Queen, Henry indulged in the most
reckless gaming; nor did he pursue this vice in a kingly spirit, for
even his devoted panegyrist Perefixe informs us that at this period he
knew not how to answer those who reproached his royal pupil with too
great a love for cards and dice, of itself a taste little suited to a
great and powerful sovereign; and that, moreover, he was an unpleasant
player, eager for gain, timid when the stake was a high one, and
ill-tempered when he was a loser.[381] In support of this reluctant
testimony, Bassompierre relates that, being anxious to assist at the
opening of the States of Lorraine in compliance with the invitation of
the Duke, he solicited the permission of Henry to that effect on two or
three different occasions, but as he always played on the side of the
King, and universally with great success, he was constantly refused.

Resolved to carry his point, however, the spoiled courtier at length set
forth without any leave-taking; a fact which was no sooner ascertained
by the monarch than he despatched two of the _exempts_ of his guard to
arrest him and bring him back. This they did without difficulty, as
Bassompierre did not travel at night; but as the gallant Marquis had no
ambition to be conveyed to Fontainebleau in the guise of a prisoner, he
despatched a letter to M. de Villeroy requesting to be liberated from
the presence of his captors, and pledging himself to return instantly to
Court. On his arrival the King laughed heartily at the idea of his
disappointment, which he, however, lightened by pledging himself that in
ten days he should be left at liberty to depart.[382]

On the 25th of April Marie de Medicis became the mother of a third son,
upon whom, after some contestation between his illustrious parents, was
bestowed the title of Duc d'Anjou. The Queen was desirous that he should
be called Prince of Navarre, but Henry preferred the former designation,
from the fact that it had been that of many of the French Princes who
had been sovereigns of Jerusalem and Sicily.[383] The birth of another
Prince to their beloved sovereign filled up the measure of joy in
France; the citizens of Paris made costly gifts to the Queen, and the
circumstance of the infant having come into the world on the anniversary
of St. Louis increased the general enthusiasm.[384] As the convalescence
of the royal invalid was less rapid upon this than on previous
occasions, the Court remained during the spring and a portion of the
summer at Fontainebleau, where every species of amusement was exhausted
by the courtiers. Once only, at the beginning of May, the King resided
for a few days in the capital, and on his return Marie manifested such
undisguised satisfaction that he accorded to her the sum of twelve
thousand crowns for the embellishment of her chateau at Monceaux.

So early as the year 1598, during the journey of the sovereign to
Brittany, a marriage had been arranged between his' son, the Duc de
Vendome, and Mademoiselle de Mercoeur,[385] but the mother and
grandmother of the young lady had succeeded in inspiring her with such a
hatred of the legitimated Prince, that she would not allow his name to
be mentioned in her presence; and when she ascertained that the monarch
had resolved upon the fulfilment of the contract, she withdrew to the
Capuchin Convent, declaring that sooner than become the wife of M. de
Vendome she would take the veil. The Duchesse de Mercoeur and her mother
had been anxious to marry the young heiress to the Prince de Conde, or
failing in this project, to some relative of their own, in order to
retain her large possessions in the family; but the King had resolved
upon securing them to his son by enforcing the promise made by the
deceased Duke. He accordingly adopted conciliatory measures by which he
succeeded in effecting his object, and before the conclusion of the
rejoicings on the birth of the infant Prince, the marriage was finally
celebrated in the chapel of Fontainebleau with all the pomp and
magnificence of which the ceremony was susceptible, while the King
appeared beside his son at the altar blazing with jewels of inestimable
price, and joined in the festivities consequent upon the alliance with a
zest and enjoyment which were the theme of general comment.

The arrival of Don Pedro de Toledo,[386] the ambassador of Philip III
of Spain, at this precise juncture gave further occasion for that
display of splendour in which Henry had latterly delighted, and after
his public reception at Fontainebleau the Court removed to Paris, where
the ambassador had been sumptuously lodged at the Hotel de Gondy. His
arrogance, however, soon disgusted the French King; nor did he hesitate
to exhibit the same unbecoming hauteur towards his kinswoman the Queen,
who having despatched a nobleman of her household to welcome him to
France in that character, was informed by her envoy that the only answer
which he returned to the compliment was conveyed in the remark that
crowned heads had no relatives; they had only subjects.

The sole occasion upon which he laid aside his _morgue_, and then to all
appearance involuntarily, was while driving through the streets of the
capital in the carriage of the King. He had previously visited Paris,
and as he contrasted its present magnificence with the squalor, filth,
and disorder which it had formerly exhibited, he could not suppress an
exclamation of astonishment. "Why should you be surprised, Monsieur?"
demanded Henry; "when you last saw my good city of Paris, the father of
the family did not inhabit it; and now that he is here to watch over his
children, they prosper as you see." [387]

The object of this embassy was kept a profound secret; some historians
assert that it was undertaken with a view to effect a marriage between
the Dauphin and the Infanta of Spain, while others lean to the belief
that Philip had instructed Don Pedro to endeavour to prevail upon Henry
to abandon his alliance with the Dutch. Whatever were its motive, the
ambassador, who had reached Paris on the 7th of July, quitted the
capital on the 22nd of the same month, having only succeeded in
irritating the King by his overbearing and supercilious demeanour.[388]

It would appear that during the present year Henri IV indulged his
passion for field sports to such an excess as tended seriously to alarm
those who were anxious for his preservation; and it indeed seems as
though, at this period, his leisure hours were nearly divided between
his two favourite diversions of hunting and high play. Sully informs us,
however, that the King busied himself with the embellishments of
Fontainebleau, and in erecting the Place Dauphine at Paris; but adds
that these great works, which were necessary to the convenience of the
people, might have been carried much further if the monarch would have
followed his advice and been less profuse in his personal expenditure,
particularly as regarded his gambling transactions. He advances, as a
proof of this assertion, that he was called upon on one occasion to
deliver to Eduardo Fernandez, a Portuguese banker (who, according to
Bassompierre, had made a visit of speculation to the French Court, and
who unhesitatingly provided the nobles with large sums, either on
security or at immense interest), the enormous amount of thirty-four
thousand pistoles, for which the reckless monarch had become his debtor.
"I frequently received similar orders," he proceeds to say, "for two or
three thousand pistoles, and a great many others for less considerable
sums." [389]

It is scarcely doubtful that the _ennui_ occasioned by the waning
passion of Henri IV for Madame de Verneuil at this period induced him,
even more than formerly, to seek amusement and occupation at the
gaming-table, where he was emulated by his profuse and licentious
nobles, while even his Queen and the ladies of the Court entered with
avidity into the exciting pastime. We have frequent record of the
habitual high play of Marie de Medicis, who found in it a solace for her
sick-room and a diversion from her domestic annoyances, and thus the
dangerous propensity of the monarch was heightened by the presence of
the loveliest women of the land and the charm and fascination of wit and

Madame de Verneuil was in despair; the coveted sceptre was sliding from
within her grasp, and with the ill-judged hope of regaining the
affections of her royal lover by exciting his jealousy, she encouraged
the attention of the Due de Guise, who, undismayed by the previous
attempt of his brother to divert the affections of another of the royal
favourites and its unfortunate result, at length openly avowed himself
the suitor of the brilliant Marquise, and even promised to make her his
wife; while the scandalous chroniclers of the time do not hesitate to
affirm that the Prince de Joinville himself had previously done the
same, but that his proverbial fickleness had protected him from so gross
a _mesalliance_.

In the case of the Duke, however, the affair wore a more serious aspect;
and so earnest did he appear in his professions that Madame de Verneuil,
anxious at once to secure an illustrious alliance and to revenge herself
upon the monarch, caused the banns of marriage between the Prince and
herself to be published with some slight alteration in their respective
names, which did not, however, suffice to deceive those who had an
interest in subverting her project; and the fact was accordingly
communicated to the King, upon whom it produced an effect entirely
opposite to that which had been contemplated by the vanity of the lady,
who had been clever enough to procure from M. de Guise a written promise
similar to that which she had formerly extorted from the monarch. Four
years previously the knowledge of such a perfidy on her part would have
overwhelmed Henry with anxiety, jealousy, and grief, but his passion for
the Marquise had, as we have seen, long been on the decline, and his
only feeling was one of indignation and displeasure. To the Marquise
herself he simply expressed his determined and unalterable opposition to
the alliance, but to the Duke he was far less lenient, reminding him of
the former offences of himself and his family, and forbidding him to
pursue a purpose so distasteful to all those who had his honour at
heart This was a fatal blow to Madame de Verneuil, and one which she was
never destined to overcome. Clever as she was, she had suffered herself
to forget that youth is not eternal, and that passion is even more
evanescent than time; and thus, by a last impotent effort to assert a
supremacy to which she could no longer advance any claim, she only
succeeded in extinguishing in the heart of the King the last embers of a
latent and expiring attachment.[390]


[356] The _careme-prenant_ includes the three days which precede

[357] L'Etoile, vol. iii. pp. 411, 412.

[358] Benjamin de Rohan, Duc de Soubise, was the grandson of Jean de
Parthenay-Soubise, and the son of Rene-Rohan. He was a zealous supporter
of the reformed faith, and was present at several sieges; but becoming
dissatisfied with the citizens of La Rochelle, with whom he took refuge
in 1622, he passed over to England, to solicit assistance; a proceeding
which compelled the French Court to declare him guilty of
_lese-majeste_, and he subsequently refused to return to his own country
when a general amnesty was proclaimed.

[359] L'Etoile, vol. iii. pp. 414, 415.

[360] _Memoires_, p. 57.

[361] Saint-Edme, vol. ii. p. 238.

[362] Saint-Edme, vol. ii. pp. 239, 240. L'Etoile, vol. iii. p. 360.
_Amours du Grand Alcandre_, p. 49.

[363] Bassompierre, _Mem_. p. 51.

[364] Antoine de Bourbon, Comte de Moret, the son of Henri IV and Madame
de Moret, was legitimated in 1608, and was killed during the subsequent
reign at the battle of Castelnaudary, while serving under the Duc de

[365] Damin de Montluc, Seigneur de Balagny, son of Jean, Prince de
Cambray, and of Renee de Clermont de Bussy d'Amboise. He was one of the
most confidential friends of the King.

[366] Saint-Edme, vol. ii. pp. 241, 242.

[367] Charlotte, daughter of Francois des Essarts, Seigneur de Sautour,
Equerry of the King's Stable, and of his second wife, Charlotte de
Harlay de Chanvallon.

[368] The Comte Christophe de Beaumont-Harlay, Governor of Orleans. He
died in 1615.

[369] Louis de Lorraine, Cardinal de Guise, son of Henri, Due de Guise,
who was killed at the States of Blois. He obtained a dispensation from
the Pope to effect his marriage with Mademoiselle des Essarts. He was a
warlike prelate; and his death, which took place at Saintes in 1621, was
caused by the extreme fatigue that he underwent during the campaign of
Guienne, and at the siege of Saint-Jean-d'Angely, whither he accompanied
Louis XIII.

[370] Bassompierre, _Mem_. p. 50.

[371] Charles, Cardinal de Lorraine, Bishop of Metz and Strasbourg, and
Abbot of St. Victor-les-Paris. The Cardinal de Givry succeeded him in
the see of Metz, having the Marquis de Verneuil as his coadjutor, and
Leopold of Austria replaced him as Bishop of Strasbourg, having been
elected to that dignity by the chapter; while the Protestants named
George, Margrave of Brandenburg, administrator to that see, which caused
great dissension between the two concurrents, until a conciliation was
effected through the good offices of Duke Frederic of Wuertemberg, who
induced them to enter into a truce for fifteen years, during which
period they divided between them the revenues of the benefice, Leopold
of Austria retaining the title of bishop.

[372] _Mercure Francais,_ 1607, P-228. L'Etoile, vol. iii. pp. 437,

[373] _Memoires,_ vol. vii. p. 7. L'Etoile, vol. iii. pp. 417, 418.

[374] Bassompierre, _Mem_. p. 51.

[375] Marie de Bourbon, Mademoiselle de Montpensier, who, after the
decease of the Duc d'Orleans, married (in 1626) Gaston Jean Baptiste
de France.

[376] Bassompierre, _Mem_. p. 51.

[377] Sully, _Mem_. vol. vii. p. 8.

[378] Sully, _Mem_. vol. vii. pp. 8, 9.

[379] _Mercure Francais_, 1608, p. 231. L'Etoile, vol. iii. pp. 444,

[380] Sully, _Mem_. vol. vii. pp. 25-28.

[381] Perefixe, vol. ii. pp. 463, 464.

[382] Bassompierre, _Mem_. pp. 50, 51.

[383] Gaston Jean Baptiste de France, originally named Duc d'Anjou, and
subsequently Duc d'Orleans, died in 1660. Before his birth, Henri IV
declared his intention of making him a churchman, and causing him to be
entitled Cardinal de France.

[384] _Mercure Francais,_ 1608, p. 231. Sully, _Mem_. vol. vii. p. 37.
L'Etoile, vol. iii. p. 471.

[385] Mademoiselle de Mercocur was the only daughter and heiress of
Philippe Emmanuel de Lorraine, Duc de Mercocur, the brother of Louise de
Lorraine, Queen of Henri III. By that monarch he was appointed Governor
of Brittany, but in 1589 he revolted against him, and persisted in his
rebellion until 1598, when he entered into a treaty with Henri IV, by
which he bound himself to bestow the hand of his daughter, and the
reversion of his government, upon Cesar de Vendome, a condescension by
which he subsequently felt himself so much disgraced that he withdrew
from the Court and engaged in the war of Hungary. Pining, however, to
see once more his wife and daughter, he was on his way to France for
that purpose, when he was attacked by fever at Nuremberg, where he
expired in March 1602, at the age of forty-three years.

[386] Don Pedro de Toledo, Constable of Castile, and general of the
galleys of Naples, was a relative of Marie de Medicis, whose
grandfather, the Comte de Medicis, had married Eleonora de Toledo, the
daughter of the Viceroy of Naples. He was, moreover, a grandee of Spain,
and one of the most confidential friends of Philip III.

[387] Bonnechose, vol. i. p. 445. Perefixe, vol. ii. p. 564.

[388] L'Etoile, vol. iii. pp. 474-477. _Mercure Francais,_ 1608, p. 232.
Daniel, vol. vii. p. 488.

[389] _Memoires,_ vol. vii. pp. 72-74.

[390] Dreux du Radier, vol. vi, p. 104.



Death of the Grand Duke of Tuscany--The Queen's ballet--Mademoiselle de
Montmorency--Description of her person--She is betrothed to
Bassompierre--Indignation of the Duc de Bouillon--Contrast between the
rivals--The Duc de Bellegarde excites the curiosity of the King--The
nymph of Diana--The rehearsal--Passion of the King for Mademoiselle de
Montmorency--The royal gout--Interposition of the Duc de
Roquelaure--Firmness of the Connetable--The ducal gout--Postponement of
the marriage--Diplomacy of Henry--The sick-room--An obedient
daughter--Henry resolves to prevent the marriage--The King and the
courtier--Lip-deep loyalty--Henry offers the hand of Mademoiselle de
Montmorency to the Prince de Conde--The regal pledge--The Prince de
Conde consents to espouse Mademoiselle de Montmorency--Invites
Bassompierre to his betrothal--Royal tyranny--A cruel pleasantry--The
betrothal--Court festivities--Happiness of the Queen--Royal presents to
the bride--The ex-Queen's ball--Jealousy of the Prince de
Conde--Indignation of the Queen--Henry revenges himself upon M. de
Conde--Madame de Conde retires from the Court--The King insists on her
return--The Prince de Conde feigns compliance--The Prince and Princess
escape to the Low Countries--The news of their evasion reaches
Fontainebleau--Birth of a Princess--Unpleasant surprise--Henry betrays
his annoyance to the Queen--He assembles his ministers--He resolves to
compel the return of the Princess to France--Conflicting counsels--M. de
Praslin is despatched to Brussels--Embarrassment of the Archduke
Albert--He refuses an asylum to M. de Conde, who proceeds to
Milan--The Princess remains at Brussels--She is honourably
entertained--Interference of the Queen--Philip of Spain promises his
protection to the Prince de Conde--He is invited to return to
Brussels--The Marquis de Coeuvres endeavours to effect the return of the
Prince to France--His negotiation fails--Madame de Conde is placed under
surveillance--Her weariness of the Court of Brussels--The Duc de
Montmorency desires her return to Paris--M. de Coeuvres is authorized to
effect her escape from Brussels--The plot prospers--Indiscretion of the
King--The Queen informs the Spanish minister of the conspiracy--Madame
de Conde is removed to the Archducal palace--Mortification of the
King--The French envoys expostulate with the Archduke, who remains
firm--Henry resolves to declare war against Spain and Flanders--Fresh
negotiations--The King determines to head the army in person--Marie de
Medicis becomes Regent of France--She is counselled by Concini to urge
her coronation--Reluctance of the King to accede to her request--He
finally consents--"The best husband in the world"--Fatal
prognostics--Signs in the heavens--The Cure of Montargis--The Papal
warning--The Cardinal Barberino--The Sultan's message--Suspicious
circumstances--Supineness of the Austrian Cabinet--Prophecy of Anne de
Comans--Her miserable fate--The astrologer Thomassin--The Bearnais
noble--The Queen's dream--Royal presentiments--The hawthorn of the
Louvre--Distress of Bassompierre--Expostulation of the King--Melancholy

In the year upon which we are now about to enter the subject of our
biography occupies, unfortunately, but a small space, destined as it was
to give birth to the most violent and the most dangerous passion of the
whole life of Henri IV, and that which left the most indelible stain
upon his memory, both as a man and as a monarch.

On the 7th of February the Court went into mourning for the Grand Duke
of Tuscany, the uncle of the Queen, to whom she was ardently attached,
and all the Carnival amusements were consequently suspended, but not
before the Queen had resolved upon the performance of the ballet which
she had previously refused to sanction, when her royal consort had
proposed as one of its performers the Comtesse de Moret, his late
favourite. The rehearsal of this entertainment took place on the 16th of
January, and the nymphs of Diana were represented by the twelve reigning
beauties of the Court, among whom the most lovely was Charlotte
Marguerite de Montmorency[391]. So extraordinary, indeed, were her
personal attractions, combined with a modesty of demeanour more than
unusual at the Court in that age, that even the most experienced of the
great nobles were compelled to confess that they had never heretofore
seen any person who could compete with her. "The purity of her
complexion," says Dreux du Radier, quoting from one of the old
chroniclers, "was admirable; her eyes, lively and full of tenderness,
inspired passion in the most careless hearts; she had not a feature in
her face which was not gracefully moulded. The tones of her voice, her
bearing, her slightest movements, had a charm which compelled
admiration, and it was yielded the more willingly that it was elicited
by no artifice on her part, but was a tribute to her natural merits.
Nature had, indeed, done everything for her, and she had no occasion to
resort to any adventitious aid however innocent." [392]

This lady, thus richly gifted with youth, beauty, and high birth, had
been, even before her appearance at Court, promised in marriage by her
father to the Marechal de Bassompierre, to whom indeed he had himself
offered her hand,[393] but she was no sooner seen by Henry in the circle
of the Queen than he became violently enamoured of her person, and
resolved to prevent the alliance; a determination in which he found
himself strengthened by the remonstrances of the Duc de Bouillon, the
nephew of the Connetable, and consequently the cousin of the young
beauty, whose favour Bassompierre had, in the excess of his happiness,
neglected to conciliate, and who represented to the King that he could
not conceal his astonishment on ascertaining that his Majesty was about
to permit the union of Mademoiselle de Montmorency with a mere noble,
however deserving of such distinction, when the Prince de Conde had
attained to a marriageable age, and that it would be imprudent to
countenance his alliance with a foreign princess; while as regards
himself, he could not discover another eligible match save his cousin or
Mademoiselle du Maine; and he was inclined to believe that none of the
advisers of his Majesty would counsel him to authorize his own marriage
with the latter, while the remnant of the League continued so formidable
as to threaten a still more forcible and dangerous demonstration should
they once find themselves under a leader with the power which he
possessed to further their cause. He then represented that his alliance
with Mademoiselle de Montmorency would involve no such results, as the
allies and interests of the Connetable were his own, and concluded by
entreating that his Majesty, before he sanctioned the marriage of
Bassompierre with his cousin, would give the matter ample

This contention, there can be no doubt, piqued the curiosity of the
King, who in the course of the day mentioned the circumstance to the Duc
de Bellegarde. The chance of the rivals in the favour of the lady
herself could scarcely be doubtful, as the Duc de Bouillon, Prince of
the Blood though he was, possessed few personal attractions, while the
gay, the gallant, the magnificent Bassompierre was the cynosure of all
eyes; superb in person, he was moreover of high birth, great wealth
(although his profusion occasionally fettered his means), in high favour
with the monarch, and celebrated alike for his wit and his attainments.
Unfortunately, however, for his interests, M. le Grand had already seen
Mademoiselle de Montmorency, and the animated description which he
volunteered to the King of the coveted beauty was far from proving
favourable to the views of Bassompierre, as Henry, before he came to any
decision upon so important a question, resolved to decide for himself
the value of the prize which he was about to adjudge to one or other of
the contending parties. For this purpose he therefore joined the evening
circle of the Queen, where he first saw the daughter of the Connetable,
but apparently without the effect which had been anticipated by the Duc
de Bellegarde.

On the morrow, however, he proved less insensible to the surpassing
loveliness of the young maid of honour; her modest dignity in a private
_salon_ offering, in all probability, little attraction to the
licentious monarch who was accustomed to see every eye turned towards
himself, and every art exerted to fascinate his notice; but on the day
of the rehearsal, when the graceful and blushing nymph of Diana was
presented to him in her classic garb, her quiver at her back and her
spear in her hand, he at once acknowledged the potency of the spell by
which others had been previously subjugated. The rehearsal took place in
the great hall of the Louvre, where Henry was attended only by the Due
de Bellegarde, and Montespan,[395] the captain of his bodyguard.

The extraordinary loveliness of the young Princess, combined with her
exquisite grace and dignified bearing, at once fascinated the King, who
declared to the Duc de Bellegarde that he had never before beheld so
faultless a face and form; to which assurance M. le Grand replied, says
Bassompierre, "according to his usual manner of extolling everything
that was novel, and particularly Mademoiselle de Montmorency, who was
indeed worthy of all admiration; and thus infused into the mind of the
King, always ready to yield to a new fancy, the passion which
subsequently caused him to commit so many extravagances." [396]

For the moment, however, Henry was unable to pursue his unworthy
purpose, being attacked the same evening by a violent fit of the gout,
to which he had been occasionally subject for the last four years, and
which declared itself on this occasion with so much acuteness that
during fifteen days he was compelled to keep his bed. Meanwhile, the Duc
de Bouillon was not idle. Considering himself aggrieved by the
Connetable in not having been selected as the husband of his daughter,
he complained loudly and bitterly of the slight, and even induced the
Duc de Roquelaure to exert his influence with M. de Montmorency to
withdraw his promise from Bassompierre, and to bestow the hand of the
Princess upon himself. The Connetable, however, remained firm, declaring
that he had already the honour to be the great-uncle of M. de Bouillon,
a degree of kindred which quite satisfied his ambition; and that his
daughter, being pledged to Bassompierre, could no longer be an object of
pursuit with any prospect of success to any other noble, however great
might be his rank; while, in pursuance of this resolution, the Duke
caused preparations to be made for the celebration of the marriage in
the chapel of his palace at Chantilly. Bassompierre was consequently at
the summit of happiness; his ambition and his heart were alike
satisfied, and he received the congratulations of those around him with
an undisguised delight, which, in so proverbially gay and gallant a
cavalier, could not fail to prove highly flattering to the object of his

Unfortunately, before the ceremony could be performed, M. de Montmorency
was in his turn attacked by gout, and, greatly to the mortification of
the expectant bridegroom, the marriage was necessarily deferred. Still,
relying on the assurance of the Connetable that nothing should induce
him to rescind his resolution, Bassompierre endeavoured to await with
what patience he might the termination of the inopportune illness of the
generous Prince; and in the interim he shared with M. le Grand and the
Duc de Grammont the honour of passing the night in the royal chamber,
where the three nobles alternately read or conversed with the King
during his sleepless hours. Throughout the day the monarch received the
visits of the Queen and the Princesses of the Blood, among whom the most
welcome was the Duchesse d'Angouleme, who was on every occasion
accompanied by her niece Mademoiselle de Montmorency, whom Henry did not
fail to engross whenever the Duchess was engaged in conversation with
the members of the Court circle. Still, however, the King was careful
not to betray to the young lady herself the peculiar feeling with which
she had inspired him, but treated her with a kindness which was almost
paternal, alluding without any apparent reluctance to her betrothal to
Bassompierre, and assuring her that she should be as dear to him as a
daughter, and that during the tour of duty of her husband, as First Lord
of the Bedchamber, she should have a suite of apartments appropriated to
her use in the Louvre; but in a few days, when he had accustomed her to
converse freely with him upon the subject, Henry put a leading question

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