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The Life of Marie de Medicis, Vol. 2 (of 3) by Julia Pardoe

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Queen of France








[Illustration: HENRI IV.]






Preparations for the coronation of Marie de Medicis--Wherefore
deferred--They are resumed--The Cathedral of St. Denis--Gorgeous _coup
d'oeil_--The procession--Indignation of the ex-Queen Marguerite--The
Comte and Comtesse de Soissons leave Paris--Magnificence of Marie de
Medicis and her Court--The coronation--The Queen is affectionately
received by the King on reaching the Palace--The banquet--The Court
returns to the Louvre--Last advice given by the King to the
Queen-Regent--Gloomy forebodings--The Queen's toilet--The Due de Vendome
and the Astrologer--The King's coach--Assassination of Henri IV--The
Queen and the Chancellor--The royal children are placed under the care
of M. de Vitry--Examination of the royal body--The King's heart--The
state bier--The royal funeral.





Self-possession of Marie de Medicis--The Ducs de Guise and d'Epernon
assemble the nobility--Precautions for the security of the
metropolis--The first audience of the widowed Queen--Impolicy of
Sully--The Duc d'Epernon announces to the Parliament the authorized
regency of Marie--By whom it is ratified--Precarious position of the
Queen-mother--The first night of widowhood--Injudicious apathy of Marie
de Medicis on the subject of her husband's murder--Her incautious
display of favour towards the Duc d'Epernon--The Duke is suspected of
having been an accessory to the assassination of Henri IV--He demands
the punishment of the authors of the rumour--A lawyer and a
courtier--Fearless reply of the President de Harlay to the rebuke of the
Regent--Suspicions against Philip of Spain--Louis XIII holds his first
Bed of Justice--The Queen requests the support of the Parliament--Return
of the Court to the Louvre--The Due de Sully visits the Queen--Effect of
his reception--The Princess-Dowager of Conde urges the return
of her son to Court--M. de Soissons is invited by Marie de Medicis
to the capital--His disappointment--His arrogance--A courtly
falsehood--Reception of M. de Soissons at the gates of Paris--His
numerous retinue--The recompense of obedience--Congratulatory
deputations--Trial of the regicide Ravaillac--His execution--Arrival
of the Duc de Bouillon in Paris--His quarrel with the Duc de
Sully--They are reconciled--The Court attend a funeral service at
Notre-Dame--Presumption of the Duc d'Epernon--Marie de Medicis devotes
herself to state affairs--Jealousy of the Princes of the Blood and great
nobles--Marie endeavours to conciliate them--The Spanish Minister
endeavours to prevent the return of the Prince de Conde--Without
success--The Regent forms a council--Pretensions of the nobles--The Duc
d'Epernon takes possession of apartments in the Louvre--He leagues with
the Comte de Soissons against the Prince de Conde--Speculations of the
Ministers--Their policy--Boyhood of Louis XIII--A delicate position--A
royal rebuke--Court favour--The visionary Government--Discontent of the
citizens of Paris--Unpopularity of the Regent--The ex-Queen's
entertainment--Imprudence of Marie de Medicis--Confirmation of the Edict
of Nantes--Return of the Prince de Conde--The Regent is alarmed by his
popularity--Double-dealing of the Duc d'Epernon--The Prince de Conde
declares his intention to uphold the interests of the Regent--His
reception at the Louvre--He rejoins his wife--The Court of the Hotel de
Conde--A cabal--Marie is advised to arrest the Prince de Conde--She
refuses--The secret council--Indignation of Sully--Mischievous advice of
the Duc de Bouillon---Munificence of the Regent to M. de Conde--The
royal treasury--Venality of the French Princes--The English
Ambassador--Royal pledges--Philip of Spain proposes a double alliance
with France--The Regent welcomes the offer--Policy of Philip--The secret
pledge--Madame de Verneuil urges her claim to the hand of the Duc de
Guise--The important document--A ducal dilemma--The Regent
discountenances the claim of the Marquise--Madame de Verneuil is induced
by Jeannin to withdraw her pretensions--Her subsequent obscurity.



A temporary calm--Louis XIII--Marie de Medicis purchases the Marquisate
of Ancre for Concini--Rapid rise of his fortunes--His profusion--He
intrigues to create dissension among the Princes of the Blood--His
personal endowments--The Duc de Bouillon endeavours to induce M. de
Conde to revolt--He fails--He disposes of his office at Court to the
Marquis d'Ancre--Marie de Medicis continues the public edifices
commenced and projected by Henri IV--Zeal of the Duc de
Mayenne--Cupidity of the Court--M. de Conde and his advisers--The Prince
and the Minister--Forebodings of Sully--He determines to resign
office--His unpopularity--The Regent refuses to accept his
resignation--The war in Germany--The Regent resolves to despatch an army
to Cleves--The Duc de Bouillon demands the command of the troops--Is
refused by the Council--Retires in disgust to Sedan--The command is
conferred on the Marechal de la Chatre--A bootless campaign--The French
troops return home--New dissensions at Court--The Duc d'Epernon becomes
the declared enemy of the Protestants--Apprehensions of the reformed
party--Quarrel of Sully and Villeroy--The Regent endeavours to effect a
reconciliation with the Prince de Conti--Princely wages--M. de Conti
returns to Court--The Princes of the Blood attend the Parliament--The
Marquis d'Ancre is admitted to the State Council--Sully and Bouillon
retire from the capital--Sully resolves to withdraw from the Government,
but is again induced to retain office--The King and Pere Cotton--The
Court leave Paris for Rheims--Coronation of Louis XIII--His public entry
into the capital--The Prince de Conde and the Comte de Soissons are
reconciled--Quarrel between the Marquis d'Ancre and the Duc de
Bellegarde--Cabal against Sully--The Huguenots petition for a General
Assembly--Reluctance of the Regent to concede their demand--She finds
herself compelled to comply--M. de Villeroy garrisons Lyons--Sully
retires from the Ministry--Demands of the Princes--Sully's last official
act--His parting interview with Louis XIII--The Minister and the



A cold correspondence--Increasing influence of the Marquis
d'Ancre--Animosity between the Duc d'Epernon and Concini--Disunion of
the Princes de. Guise and de Lorraine--Renewed dissensions between M. de
Bellegarde and the Marquis d'Ancre--They are reconciled by the Comte de
Soissons--Marriage of the Duc de Guise--Jealousy of M. de
Soissons--Quarrel between the Prince de Conti and the Comte de
Soissons--Mission of the Duc de Guise--A new rupture--Intervention of
the Duc de Mayenne--Alarm of the Regent--Sully leaves Paris--Madame de
Sully--Retirement of M. de Thou--Unpopularity of the Duc
d'Epernon--Marie de Medicis endeavours to reconcile the Princes--The
royal closet--The Protestants prepare for the General Assembly--The
Prince de Conde retires to Guienne--The Duc d'Epernon is charged to
watch his movements--Arrogance of Concini--Concini seeks to marry his
daughter to a son of the Comte de Soissons--Indignation of the
Prince--Cunning of Concini--Bouillon returns to Court--He offers his
services to the Regent at the General Assembly--He proceeds to
Saumur--He desires to be appointed President of the Assembly--He is
rejected in favour of M. du Plessis-Mornay--He attributes his defeat to
Sully--He resolves to conciliate the ex-Minister of Finance--Meeting of
the Assembly--The Court determines to dissolve the meeting--Prudence of
Du Plessis-Mornay--Death of M. de Crequy--The Marquis d'Ancre succeeds
to the government of Amiens--His insolent disregard of the royal
prerogative--Indignation of the ministers--The Regent resents his
impertinence--She refuses to receive Madame d'Ancre--Intrigues of the
Princesse de Conti--The favourites forgiven--Marie de Medicis issues
several salutary edicts--Court festivities--The Duchesse de Lorraine
arrives at Fontainebleau--Death of the Duc de Mayenne--Death of the
Queen of Spain---The Duchesse de Lorraine claims the hand of Louis XIII
for her daughter--Death of the Duc d'Orleans--Departure of the Duchesse
de Lorraine--Rival claims--M. de Breves appointed preceptor to the Duc
d'Anjou--The Comte de Soissons applies for the duchy of Alencon--Rebuke
of the Regent--A hunting-party--A new cabal--Recall of the Marechal de
Lesdiguieres--Marie de Medicis purchases the Hotel de Luxembourg.



The Princes of the Blood retire from the Court--Increased influence of
the Ducs de Guise and d'Epernon--Jealousy of Concini--The ministers
desire the recall of the Princes--The Lent ballets--The government of
Quilleboeuf is offered to the Comte de Soissons--The Princes are invited
to return to the capital--Arrival of the Princes--M. de Soissons
abandons Concini--An attempt is made to create dissension between M. de
Soissons and the Prince de Conde--They again withdraw from Paris--The
Regent resolves to announce publicly the approaching marriage of the
King--Disaffection of the Princes--Frankness of the Duc de Guise--The
Due d'Epernon is recalled--The Duc de Bouillon is despatched to
England--The Council discuss the alliance with Spain--The Princes return
to the capital--Undignified deportment of the Prince de Conde--Insolence
of M. de Soissons--Indignation of the Regent--The young Duc de Mayenne
is appointed ambassador extraordinary to Spain--An unpleasant
truth--Arrogance of the Spanish King--Concession of the Regent---Death
of the Duke of Mantua--The Chancellor announces the King's marriage--An
ambassador and a quasi-Queen--Disappointment of the Princes--They again
withdraw--Caution of the Duc de Montmorency to the Regent--She
disregards the warning--Love of Marie de Medicis for magnificence and
display--Courtly entertainments--The circle of Madame--The Marquise
d'Ancre--A carousal---Splendid festivities--Arrival of the Spanish
envoys--The Chevalier de Guise--Alarm of Concini--The Queen and her
foster-sister--Concini resolves to espouse the party of the Princes--The
Duc de Bouillon endeavours to injure the Duc de Rohan in the estimation
of James I.--Reply of the English monarch--Bouillon returns to
Paris--The Marechal de Lesdiguieres retires from the Court--The Duc de
Vendome solicits the royal permission to preside over the States of
Brittany--Is refused by the Regent--Challenges his substitute--And is
exiled to Anet--Concini augments the disaffection of the Princes--The
Duke of Savoy joins the cabal--Lesdiguieres prepares to march a body of
troops against the capital--Concini deters the Regent from giving the
government of Quilleboeuf to the Comte de Soissons--Indignation of the
Duc de Guise--He reveals the treachery of Concini to the Princes--All
the great nobles join the faction of M. de Conde with the exception of
the Duc d'Epernon--The Duc de Bellegarde is accused of sorcery--Quarrel
between the Comte de Soissons and the Marechal de Fervaques--Marie de
Medicis resolves to persecute the Protestants--Bouillon endeavours to
effect the disgrace of the Duc de Rohan--The Regent refuses to listen to
his justification--He takes possession of St. Jean-d'Angely--Anger of
the Queen--Conflicting manifestoes--M. de Rohan prepares to resist the
royal troops--The ministers advise a negotiation, which prove
successful--Departure of the Duc de Mayenne for Madrid--Arrival of the
Duque de Pastrano--His brilliant reception in France--His magnificent
retinue--His first audience of Louis XIII--The Cardinals--Puerility of
the Princes--Reception of the Spanish Ambassador by Madame--_The year of
magnificence_--Splendour of the Court of Spain--Signature of the
marriage articles--Honours shown to M. de Mayenne at Madrid--The Spanish
Princess and her Duenna--The Duke of Savoy demands the hand of Madame
Christine for his son--Marie desires to unite her to the Prince of
Wales--Death of Prince Henry of England--Death of the Comte de
Soissons--The Prince de Conti claims the government of Dauphiny--The
Comte d'Auvergne is released from the Bastille, and resigns his
government of Auvergne to M. de Conti--The Prince de Conde organizes a
new faction--The Regent espouses his views--Alarm of the Guises--Recall
of the Duc de Bellegarde--He refuses to appear at Court--The Baron de
Luz is restored to favour--The Guises prepare to revenge his defection
from their cause.



State of France at the commencement of 1613--Characteristics of the
Baron de Luz--His imprudence--He is challenged by the Chevalier de
Guise, and killed--The Regent summons a council--The nobles assemble at
the Hotel de Guise--The Duke is forbidden to enter the Louvre, and
ordered to disperse his friends--M. de la Rochefoucauld refuses to leave
the Hotel de Guise--He is exiled from the Court--Moderation of the Duc
de Guise--Inflexibility of Marie de Medicis--Her anger against the
Chancellor--She holds a secret council--The Prince de Conde is directed
to demand the seals from M. de Sillery, and to command him to retire
from the capital--Marie determines to arrest the Duc d'Epernon--Her
designs are thwarted by Concini--The Marquis d'Ancre introduces the son
of M. de Luz to the Regent--Marie promises him her protection--
Bassompierre endeavours to effect the recall of the Duc de Guise, and
succeeds--His reception by the Regent--Arrogance of the Duchesse de
Guise--The Prince de Conde forms an alliance with M. de Guise--
Influence of the Prince--He demands the captaincy of the Chateau
Trompette--Over-zealous friends--Alarm of the Queen--She resolves to
conciliate the Guises--The Marquis d'Ancre and his wife incur the
displeasure of the Queen-Marie purchases the loyalty of the Duc de
Guise--Dignified bearing of the Duc d'Epernon--A reconciliation--"Put
not your faith in princes"--Exultation of the ministers--A private
audience--Eavesdroppers--Mortification of the Prince de Conde--Concini
endeavours to conciliate the Queen--He is repulsed--The young Baron de
Luz challenges the Chevalier de Guise--Wounds his adversary, and is
killed--Royal solicitude--Death of the Chevalier de Guise--Banquet at
the Hotel de Conde--Affront to Bassompierre--Concini retires to
Amiens--The Duc de Vendome joins the faction of the Prince de Conde--A
new intrigue--Suspicions of the Regent--Midnight visitors--The Prince de
Conde and the Duc de Vendome leave the Court--The Regent refuses to
sanction the departure of M. de Guise--The Queen and her favourite--The
ministers pledge themselves to serve Concini--Peril of Bassompierre--He
determines to leave France--Is dissuaded from his purpose by the
Regent--Troubles in Mantua--Negotiation with the Duke of Savoy--James I.
offers the hand of Prince Charles of England to the Princesse
Christine--Satisfaction of Marie de Medicis--The Pope takes alarm--The
Regent and the Papal Nuncio--Death of the Marechal de Fervaques--Concini
is made Marechal de France--Ladies of Honour--The Queen and her
foster-sister--The Princesse de Conti--A well-timed visit--The new
Marechal--A sensation at Court.



New anxieties--Disaffection of the Princes--They demand a reformation in
the Government--Cunning of the Duc de Bouillon--Imprisonment of M. de
Vendome--He escapes--The Regent suspects the sincerity of
Bouillon--Conspiracy of the Ducs de Vendome and de Retz--The Duc de
Nevers seizes Mezieres--Recall of M. d'Epernon--Marie de Medicis
resolves to resign the Regency, but is dissuaded by her
Council--Treasonable reports--Precarious position of the Queen--Levy of
troops--Manifesto of the Prince de Conde--Reply of the Regent---Death of
the Connetable-Duc de Montmorency---Bassompierre is appointed
Colonel-General of the Swiss Guards--The march against M. de
Conde--Marie endeavours to temporize---The price of loyalty--The Prince
de Conde leaves Paris--Christening of the Duc d'Anjou and the Princesse
Henriette Marie--A temporary calm--The Ducs de Vendome and de Retz
excite the Burgundians to revolt--The Protestants refuse to join their
faction--They are compelled to lay down their arms--The Prince de Conde
marches upon Poitiers--The Church "military"--The prelate and the
populace--A governor superseded--The Prince is compelled to withdraw to
Chatellerault--He burns down the episcopal palace--The Court proceed to
Poitou--Their reception--The Duc de Vendome makes his submission--The
States assemble at Nantes--Enormities perpetrated by the troops of M. de
Vendome--Folly of that Prince--Death of the Prince de Conti--A
bachelor-Benedict--A _nom de guerre_--Majority of Louis XIII--The Bed of
Justice--The assembly of the States-General is deferred--The King
solicits his mother to retain her authority in the Government--Meeting
of the States--The early years of Louis XIII--Charles Albert de
Luynes--His antecedents--His ambition--His favour with the young
King--He is made Governor of Amboise.



Close of the States-General--The Bishop of Lucon--Declaration of the
royal marriages--Ballet of Madame--State of the Court--Cabal of
Concini--Death of Marguerite de Valois--Conde seeks to gain the
Parliament--Distrust of Marie de Medicis--Conde leaves Paris--He refuses
to accompany the King to Guienne--Perilous position of the Court
party--The Marechal de Bois-Dauphin is appointed Commander-in-Chief--The
Court proceed to Guienne--Illness of the Queen and Madame Elisabeth--The
Court at Tours--Enforced inertness of M. de Bois-Dauphin--Conde is
declared guilty of _lese-majeste_--He takes up arms--Murmurs of the
royal generals--The Comte de St. Pol makes his submission--The
Court reach Bordeaux--The royal marriages--Sufferings of the
troops--Disaffection of the nobility--Irritation of the
Protestants--Pasquinades--Negotiation with the Princes--The Duc de Guise
assumes the command of the royal army--Singular escape of Marie de
Medicis--Disgrace of the Duc d'Epernon--He retires to his
government--The Queen and the astrologer.



Conference of Loudun--Venality of the Princes--Mutual
concessions--Indisposition of M. de Conde--He signs the treaty--Concini
is insulted by a citizen of Paris--The Court return to the
capital--Schism in the cabal--The seals are transferred to M. du
Vair--Disgrace of the ministers--Triumph of Concini--Mangot is appointed
Secretary of State, and Barbin Minister of Finance--The young
sovereigns---Court costumes--Anne of Austria and Marie de
Medicis--Puerility of Louis XIII--The Marechal de Bouillon and the Duc
de Mayenne return to Court--They seek to ruin Concini--The Prince de
Conde effects a reconciliation with the Queen-mother--James I. sends an
embassy to Paris to negotiate a marriage between the Prince of Wales and
the Princesse Christine--Gorgeous reception at the Louvre--Court
festivities--Concini returns to Paris--He is abandoned by the Prince de
Conde--He is compelled to retire--His forebodings--He endeavours to
induce Leonora to leave France--She refuses--Increasing influence of De
Luynes--Death of Mademoiselle d'Ancre--Despair of Concini--Ambitious
projects of the Prince de Conde--Devotion of Sully--His advice is
disregarded--Popularity of Conde--Marie de Medicis resolves to arrest
him--He disbelieves the rumour--The other Princes withdraw from the
capital--The King is induced to sanction the arrest--Dissimulation of
Louis XIII--Arrest of Conde--Fearless reply of M. du Vair--The Prince is
conveyed to the Bastille--A batch of Marshals--Noble disinterestedness
of Bassompierre--The Dowager Princess of Conde endeavours to excite the
populace to rescue her son--The mob pillage the hotel of the Marechal
d'Ancre--The Queen-mother negotiates with the Guises--The council of
war--The seals are transferred from Du Vair to Mangot--Richelieu is
appointed Secretary of State--Concini returns to Court--The Marechale
d'Ancre becomes partially insane--Popular execration of the Italian
favourites--Subtle policy of Richelieu--Threatening attitude assumed by
the Princes.



The royal forces march against the insurgent Princes--Indignities
offered to the young sovereign--Louis XIII and his favourite--Arrogance
of the Marechal d'Ancre--Indignation of the King--Confiscation of the
property of the rebel Princes--Household of Louis XIII--Cabal of De
Luynes---Infatuation of the Marechal d'Ancre--An evil counsellor--Marie
de Medicis resolves to withdraw from the Government, but is
dissuaded from her purpose--Popular discontent--Precautions of
Concini--Alarm of Louis XIII--The Duc de Nevers is declared guilty of
_lese-majeste_--Firmness of the Queen-mother--Insolence of Concini and
Richelieu--Conde is refused permission to justify himself--Success of
the royal forces--Louis XIII consents to the arrest of the Marechal
d'Ancre--Bassompierre warns Marie de Medicis of her danger--She
disregards the warning--Concini and Leonora prepare to leave France--Old
grievances renewed--A diplomatic Janus--Blindness of Marie and her
ministers--A new conspirator--How to be made a marshal--Incaution of De
Luynes--Treachery of Richelieu--A narrow escape--A morning
mass--Singular position of the Court--Assassination of Concini--Public
rejoicings--Imprisonment of the Queen-mother--Barbin is sent to the
Bastille--The seals are restored to Du Vair--A royal reception--Anguish
of Marie de Medicis--She demands to see the King, and is refused--Her
isolation--A Queen and her favourite--A mother and her son--Arrest of
Madame d'Ancre--The Crown jewels--Political pillage--The Marechale in
the Bastille.



The Comte de la Pena--Anne of Austria and the orphan--Popular
atrocities--The wages of crime--Submission of the Duc de
Mayenne--Suspension of hostilities--The great nobles return to the
capital--Louis refuses to be reconciled with his mother--Insolence of De
Vitry--Generosity of the Duc de Rohan--Marie de Medicis resolves to
retire from the Court--Richelieu offers to share her exile--He becomes
the secret emissary of De Luynes--Gratitude of the deluded Queen--A
parting interview--Marie de Medicis proceeds to Blois--Destitution of
the Marechale d'Ancre--Her despair--Royal recreations--A fatal
parallel--Madame de Conde requests permission to share the captivity of
her husband--Trial of Madame d'Ancre--Her execution--Cupidity of De
Luynes--Justice of the Grand Duke of Tuscany--Death of the President de
Thou--Marriage of De Luynes with Mademoiselle de Montbazon--De Luynes is
created duke and peer--Death of M. de Villeroy--Recall of the old
ministers--Policy of De Luynes--His suspiciousness--His ambition--De
Luynes lodges his brothers in the Louvre--The sign of "the Three
Kings"--Louis resolves to re-establish the Roman Catholic religion in
Bearn, and to annex that principality to the Crown of France--Meeting of
the _Notables_ at Rouen--The French march to the support of the Duke
of Savoy.




Comte d'Anquien
Princess-Dowager of Conde
Duchesse de Mercoeur
Marquise de Guercheville
Due de Lesdiguieres
Comtesse de Fervaques
Comtesse du Fargis
Duchesse de Sully
Marechal de Brissac
Cardinal Bentivoglio
M. de Souvre
Stefano Galigai
M. de Thou
M. Arnaud
Pere Cotton
Henri II, Duc de Longueville
Duque de Feria
Marechal de la Chatre
Duc d'Elboeuf
M. de Chateauvieux
Marquis de Chateauneuf
Marquis de Rambouillet
Cardinal de Gonzaga
M. de Breves
M. de Brosse
Comte de Buquoy
Don Rodrigo Calderon
Chevalier de Guise
Duc de Luxembourg-Piney
Cardinal de Gondy
Cosmo, Grand Duke of Tuscany
Duc de la Rochefoucauld
Duc de Retz
Bishop of Saintes
M. de Verdun
M. de Servin
Comte de Brienne
Baron du Pont-Saint-Pierre
M. Miron
M. Le Fevre
M. de Rivault
Comte de Laval
Cardinal de Richelieu
M. Le Jay
Comte de Saint-Pol
Duque d'Usseda
M. Mangot
M. de Puisieux
M. Barbin
Madame de Motteville
Marquis de Themines
M. de Saint-Geran.
M. Deageant
Marechal de Schomberg
Marechal d'Ornano
Marquis de Bressieux
M. de Rouvray
Comte de Fiesque
Jean Goujon
Mlle. de Montbazon




Engraved by Freeman from the Original by Lestang in
the Versailles Gallery.

Engraved by Gouttiere from the Original by Alaux.

Engraved by Bourgeois.

Engraved by W. Greatbach from a Print by Masson, after
P. Mignard.

Engraved by Rouargue from the Original by Rouillard.









Preparations for the coronation of Marie de Medicis--Wherefore
deferred--They are resumed--The Cathedral of St. Denis---Gorgeous _coup
d'oeil_--The procession--Indignation of the ex-Queen Marguerite--The
Comte and Comtesse de Soissons leave Paris--Magnificence of Marie de
Medicis and her Court--The coronation--The Queen is affectionately
received by the King on reaching the Palace--The banquet--The Court
returns to the Louvre--Last advice given by the King to the
Queen-Regent--Gloomy forebodings--The Queen's toilet--The Duc de Vendome
and the Astrologer--The King's coach--Assassination of Henri IV--The
Queen and the Chancellor--The royal children are placed under the care
of M. de Vitry--Examination of the royal body--The King's heart--The
state bier--The royal funeral.

Having resolved that the coronation of the Queen should take place
before his departure for Germany, and being anxious to commence the
projected campaign with the least possible delay, Henry named the 5th of
May as the day on which the ceremony was to be performed; but having
learnt from a private despatch that the Archduke had resolved at the
eleventh hour not to incur the hazard of a war with France upon so
frivolous a pretext as the forcible retention of a Princess, who
moreover, remained under his charge against her own free will, and that
Madame de Conde was accordingly about to return to the French Court, he
resolved to defer the pageant until the advent of the fair fugitive who
would, as he felt, constitute its brightest ornament. The succeeding
courier from the Low Countries, however, dispelled this brilliant
vision. Whatever might have been the personal inclination of the
Archduke, Philip of Spain determined to retain his hostage; and the
return of the Princess to France was interdicted. Enraged by the deceit
which had been practised upon him, but unwilling to forfeit his word to
the Queen, Henry had no alternative save to order the instant renewal of
the preparations which he had himself suspended; and despite the
entreaties of the municipal authorities of Paris, who represented the
impossibility of completing their arrangements before the end of the
month, he persisted in his resolution of causing the Queen to be crowned
on the 13th, and commanded her public entry into Paris for the following

On the 11th (Tuesday) he said to those around him, "I shall sleep at St.
Denis to-morrow night, and return to Paris on Thursday; I shall arrange
all my private affairs on Friday; on Saturday I shall drive about the
city; Sunday will be the state entry of the Queen; on Monday my daughter
De Vendome will be married; on Tuesday the banquet will take place; and
on Wednesday I mount for Germany." [2]

The Court accordingly slept at St. Denis on the night of the 12th, in
order to be in readiness for the ceremony of the morrow; and the morning
of the eventful day which was to witness the crowning triumph of Marie
de Medicis at length dawned. A brilliant spring sun robed the earth in
brightness; but nowhere did it light up a scene of greater magnificence
than when, filtered through the windows of stained glass, it poured
itself in a living mosaic over the marble pavement of the cathedral, and
flashed upon the sumptuous hangings and golden draperies which were
distributed over the spacious area of the edifice. Immediately in front
of the high altar a platform had been erected eleven feet in height, and
upwards of twenty feet square, in the centre of which was a dais richly
carpeted, supporting the throne of the Queen, covered with crimson
velvet embroidered with _fleurs-de-lis_ in gold, and overshadowed by a
canopy of the same material. On either side of this throne two other
platforms were appropriated to the Princes of the Blood, the Knights of
the several Orders, the Gentlemen of the Bedchamber, the great nobles,
the foreign ambassadors, and the ladies of the Queen's household. Within
the altar-rail on the left hand, a bench draped with cloth of gold was
prepared for the cardinals; and behind this was a second bench reserved
for the archbishops, bishops, and other ecclesiastics who were to
assist at the ceremony; while on the same side of the shrine stood a
table overlaid by a costly drapery, upon which were to be deposited the
crown, the coronet, the sceptre, the hand of justice, and the ring
destined to be employed during the ceremony. On the right hand of the
altar was placed a _prie-dieu_ covered with violet velvet bordered and
fringed with gold, upon which were placed two cushions of the same
material for the use of the Cardinal de Joyeuse, who was to officiate;
and behind this was a table corresponding with that on the left, and
covered by a similar drapery, supporting the bread, wine, and waxen
tapers which the master of the ceremonies was instructed to deliver to
the ladies who were selected to make the offering for the Queen.

The floor of the choir extending from the principal platform to the high
altar was carpeted with crimson velvet edged with gold; and above this
was stretched a second drapery of cloth of gold for the passage of her
Majesty; myriads of lights were grouped about the lateral shrines, the
carved columns of the venerable edifice were veiled by magnificent
hangings, and the gorgeous vestments of the prelates cumbered the open
presses of the sacristy.

An hour after dawn a compact crowd peopled the vast interior of St.
Denis; persons of all ranks, from the artizan to the petty noble and his
family, rushed tumultuously towards the sacred edifice, in order to
secure a sight of the august solemnity; and great was the surprise of
all to find themselves already preceded by the King, who came and went
throughout the early part of the morning, superintending every
arrangement in person, and apparently overlooking his bodily ailments in
the extraordinary excitement under which he laboured.

The Dauphin, Madame the elder Princess, the ex-Queen Marguerite, the
Princes of the Blood, and great dignitaries who were summoned to assist
at the ceremony, accompanied by the Cardinals de Gondy and de Sourdis,
proceeded at an early hour to the Louvre to conduct the Queen to the
cathedral; and it was no sooner announced that her Majesty was prepared
to set forth than the procession formed.

The ceremonial had not, however, been definitively arranged without
considerable difficulty. Marguerite, who, whatever might be her errors,
could not contemplate her presence at this solemnity as a mere spectator
without considerable heart-burning, considered herself aggrieved by the
fact that instead of following immediately behind the Queen, she was to
be preceded by Madame Elisabeth, still a mere child; and so great was
her indignation at this discovery, that she was very reluctantly induced
to abandon her intention of pretexting illness, and absenting herself
entirely from the pageant. The earnest remonstrances of her friends, who
represented to her the certainty of the King's serious displeasure,
alone determined her to sacrifice her dignity; and although she
ultimately consented to submit to an arrangement which she considered
as an encroachment upon her rights as the daughter of a long line of
sovereigns, rather than draw down upon herself the resentment of the
monarch, she wept bitterly while she prepared to swell the retinue of
her successor.[3] The Comte de Soissons was less compliant; for it was
no sooner announced to him that the Duchesse de Vendome, the wife of the
King's natural son, was to appear in a mantle embroidered with
_fleurs-de-lis_ similar to those worn by the Princesses of the Blood,
than he loudly declared that he would not countenance so disgraceful an
innovation; and having ordered his household to prepare for an instant
departure from Paris, he left the capital with the Princess his wife,
and retired to one of his country seats.[4]

Despite this secession, however, the suite of Marie de Medicis was one
of supreme magnificence. The procession was opened by the Swiss Guards,
habited in velvet vests of her own colours, tawny, blue, crimson, and
white; then followed two companies, each composed of a hundred nobles,
the first wearing habiliments of tawny-coloured satin braided with gold,
and the second pourpoints of white satin and breeches of tawny colour;
these were succeeded by the Lords of the Bedchamber, chamberlains, and
other great officers of the royal household, superbly attired; who were,
in their turn, followed by the Knights of the Holy Ghost wearing the
collar of their Order. A body of trumpeters walked after them richly
dressed in blue velvet; and then came the heralds in full armour, and
the Ushers of the Chamber with their maces.

When these had passed the more important personages of the procession
issued from the gates of the Louvre; and the glorious spring sun flashed
upon the jewelled caps and capes of the Princes of the Blood, glistened
over their vests of cloth of gold, and toyed with the gemmed hilts of
their diamond-studded weapons. Preceding the Queen were the Prince de
Conti and the Comte d'Anquien;[5] while immediately before her walked
the Dauphin clad in a habit of cloth of silver, profusely ornamented
with precious stones; and then came Marie herself, in the full glory of
conscious dignity and triumph, wearing a coronet of jewels, a
richly-gemmed stomacher, a surcoat of ermine, and a royal mantle seven
French ells in length, composed of purple velvet embroidered with
_fleurs-de-lis_ in gold and diamonds, and bordered with ermine, which
was borne on either side of her by the two Cardinals, and at its
extremity by the Dowager Princess of Conde,[6] the Princesse de Conti,
the Dowager Duchess of Montpensier, and the Duchesse de Mercoeur;[7]
whose trains were in like manner supported by four nobles habited in
cloth of gold and silver, and covered with jewels.

Then followed Madame Elisabeth de France and the ex-Queen Marguerite,
wearing mantles covered with _fleurs-de-lis_ embroidered in gold,
carried by four nobles richly attired, with their capes and caps laced
with jewels; and the gorgeous train was finally closed by the Princesses
of the Blood and Duchesses, whose trains were in like manner borne by
some of the principal noblemen of the Court. All these ladies wore their
coronets enriched with pearls and diamonds, save such as were widows, to
whom the use of gems was interdicted by the fashion of the age.

To these succeeded the ladies of the Queen's household, among whom the
Marquise de Guercheville[8] and Madame de Concini excited the most
curiosity; the latter from the high favour which she enjoyed, and the
extraordinary elevation to which it had conduced; and the former from a
cause infinitely more honourable to her as a woman. While the widow of
her first husband, Henri de Silly, Comte de la Rochepot, her grace and
beauty attracted Henri IV, who pertinaciously endeavoured to win her
affections. His degrading suit was, however, so resolutely although
respectfully rejected, that the King, impressed by her merit, on one
occasion declared that the title which would be the most applicable to
her would be that of a lady of honour, and that such she should become
whenever another Queen ascended the throne of France. The Marquise
curtsied her thanks, without attaching any importance to so very
prospective a distinction; but six years subsequently, when the Court of
Marie de Medicis was formed, the promised appointment was conferred upon
her; and she fulfilled the duties of her office with a dignified and
unobtrusive zeal which secured to her the esteem and respect of her
royal mistress.[9]

Thus escorted, Marie de Medicis entered the cathedral; where, having
been conducted to the front of the high altar, she knelt upon a cushion
near which stood the Cardinal de Joyeuse in his pontifical robes,
surrounded by a group of high ecclesiastical dignitaries, and supported
by the Cardinal Duperron. When the Queen had concluded her prayer, and
kissed the reliquary which was presented to her by Mgr. de Joyeuse, she
was led to her throne in the same state as that with which she had
approached the altar; and she had no sooner taken her place than the
Dauphin seated himself in the chair which had been prepared for him;
and Madame and the ex-Queen, followed by the Princesses of the Blood and
the great ladies of the Court, after having successively made a profound
curtsey to the Queen, followed his example. This done, the Cardinals de
Gondy and de Sourdis descended from the platform, and took up their
position on the left of the altar, while the Princes were marshalled to
their places by the royal ushers; and meanwhile the musicians of her
Majesty performed divers melodies suited to the place and the occasion.

After the lapse of a few moments the two Cardinals again ascended the
platform to reconduct her Majesty to the altar, which she reached in the
same order as she had previously done, save that the Dauphin now walked
on her right hand and Madame Elisabeth upon her left. Having knelt as
before in silent prayer, she was ultimately raised by the Prince and
Princess, and stood with her head bowed upon her breast while the
Cardinal de Joyeuse commenced the appropriate orisons, and received from
the hand of two of the bishops the vase containing the holy oil, and the
platen. Having poured out a portion of the former, the prelate anointed
the Queen upon the head and chest; after which he received from a third
bishop the consecrated ring, which he placed upon her finger.

The sceptre and the hand of justice were then tendered to him, and
transferred to the august recipient; and finally the crown of state was
presented upon a cushion, and held above her head by the Dauphin and
Madame Elisabeth, by whom it was subsequently consigned to the keeping
of the Prince de Conti, while another of smaller size, enriched with a
profusion of diamonds, rubies, and pearls of immense value, was placed
upon her brow; and Marie de Medicis at length stood in the midst of her
assembled Court the crowned and anointed Queen of France.

A vigorous flourish of trumpets proclaimed the termination of the
ceremony. Marie resigned the sceptre and the hand of justice to the two
Princes who stood next to her, and once more ascended the throne; where
she was no sooner seated than M. de Conti placed before her the crown of
state which he had carried upon a stool covered with cloth of gold, and
knelt beside it. The Prince who bore the sceptre then assumed the same
attitude on the right hand of the Queen, and his companion carrying the
hand of justice upon her left. A solemn high mass was next performed,
and at its close the herald-at-arms cast, in the Queen's name, a shower
of gold and silver coin among the crowds who thronged the church; while
Marie herself, descending from the platform, and attended as before,
slowly left the sacred edifice and returned to the robing-room.

The King, who had witnessed the whole ceremony from his private tribune,
was more rapid in his movements, and hastened to regain his chamber;
whence he watched the brilliant procession as it advanced with an
undisguised delight that was inexplicable to those who were aware of
the reluctance with which he had yielded to the desire of the Queen, and
who had consequently anticipated no demonstration on his part save one
of irritation and annoyance. Greatly, therefore, were they surprised
when, as she passed beneath the window at which he had taken up his
station, they saw him scatter some perfumed water on her head in order
to induce her to look up; after which he hurriedly descended the great
staircase to receive and welcome her, and with every possible exhibition
of affection and respect conducted her to the hall in which the banquet
had been prepared.

Throughout this sumptuous repast the gaiety of the monarch excited the
comments of all by whom he was surrounded; and it was generally remarked
that he had not for many months yielded to such an effervescence of
spirits. At length, however, the festival drew to its close; lords and
ladies were alike overwhelmed by the fatigues of the past day; and their
Majesties, having taken a gracious leave of their illustrious guests,
entered one of the royal carriages and proceeded to the Louvre.[10]

The numerous foreigners who had assembled from every part of Europe in
order to witness the ceremony were lost in astonishment at the profusion
of jewels displayed upon the occasion, declaring that they had never
before witnessed such a spectacle; and that even at the world-famed
entry of the Spanish Queen into Madrid, where Italy and Spain had alike
exhibited all their riches, they could not be compared with those
possessed by the French Court alone; nor was their surprise diminished
when they learnt that on the following Sunday, when Marie de Medicis was
to enter Paris in state, they would be convinced that they had not as
yet seen a tithe of the splendour which the great nobles and ladies of
the kingdom were enabled to display upon such occasions.[11]

From the moment in which the King decided upon personally superseding
the Marechal de Lesdiguieres[12] in his command of the army in
Champagne, he had been unwearied in his advice to the Queen for the
efficient government of the country. He exhorted her to great caution in
changing her ministers, earnestly impressing upon her the danger of
entrusting state affairs to individuals whose probity and experience
were not well assured, or of displacing others without great and serious
cause. He, moreover, especially besought her never to permit the
interference of foreigners in the internal economy of the kingdom, as by
such ill-placed confidence she could not fail to alienate from herself
the affections of all true Frenchmen; to uphold the authority of the
Parliament, but on no account to countenance its dictation, confining
its operations to their legitimate sphere, and enforcing its submission
to her own delegated supremacy; never to suffer herself to be misled by
her passions or prejudices, but to weigh all her measures maturely
before she insisted upon their enforcement; to protect the Jesuits, but
at the same time to be careful not to allow them to increase their
numbers, or to form establishments upon the frontiers; to attach the
nobility by favours which could not endanger the interests of the
throne, but to be cautious in her concessions where they might tend to
any undue aggrandizement of their former power and influence; and, above
all, not rashly to undertake any war against the Huguenots until she had
received full assurance of being enabled to terminate it successfully.
As regarded the Dauphin, he declared that his greatest desire was to see
him the husband of Mademoiselle de Lorraine, provided the Duke should
not have other children; as, in such case, the French nation would be
aggrandized by the territories of a state from which it had received
much and grievous injury. He expressed, moreover, the greatest
repugnance to the proposed marriage between Madame Elisabeth and the
Infant of Spain, alleging as his reason the perpetual rivalry of the two
powers, and the circumstance that the prosperity of the one must
necessarily involve the abasement of the other; and finally he declared
that were he compelled to give the hand of his daughter to a Spanish
Prince, it should be to a younger brother who might be declared Duke of
Flanders, and not to the heir to the throne.[13]

The Queen, while listening to these counsels, did not cease her
entreaties that he would abandon his intention of quitting the kingdom,
and leave the conduct of the campaign to his generals. She represented
her own inexperience in state affairs, the extreme youth of the Dauphin,
and the long life which he himself might still enjoy if he did not
voluntarily place himself in situations of peril, which was the less
required of him as he had already established his fame as a soldier
throughout the whole of Europe. Henry answered only by a jest. Love and
ambition alike lured him on; and beneath their baneful influence
prudence and reason were silenced.[14]

On the morning succeeding the coronation of his royal consort, the King
attended mass at the church of the Feuillants, where he was accompanied
by the Duc de Guise and M. de Bassompierre; and as he was still in the
same exuberant spirits as on the preceding day, a great deal of light
and desultory conversation took place during their return to the palace;
which was, however, abruptly terminated by Henry, whose countenance
became suddenly overcast as he said in reply to a gay remark made by M.
de Guise--

"Even you do not understand me now; but one of these days, when I am
dead, you will learn my value."

"My God! Sire," exclaimed Bassompierre, "will you never cease to pain us
by these constant allusions to your approaching death? These are things
which should not be said. You will live, please God, long and happy
years. What fate can be more enviable than your own? You are now in the
prime of life, strong and healthy; surrounded by honour and respect; in
tranquil possession of the most flourishing kingdom upon earth; adored
by your subjects; rich in money, palaces, and lands; wooed by fair
women; loved by handsome favourites; with a host of noble children
growing up about you. What can you require beyond this, and what more do
you wish?"

"My friend," replied the King with a long-drawn sigh, "I must resign all
these things."

As he uttered these words, the usher on duty threw open the door of his
closet; and extending his hand to his two companions, which they
successively raised to their lips, he disappeared.[15]

As the Queen was to dance a _branle_ and to appear in a ballet that
evening at the Louvre, she was on the King's return closeted with the
Princesse de Conti, the Marechale de Fervaques,[16] the Comtesse du
Fargis,[17] and Madame Concini, her ladies of honour, busied in the
selection of the costume in which she purposed to appear. Having
ascertained this fact, Henry remained alone in his apartment, until it
was announced to him that the Duc de Vendome solicited the honour of a
private audience. He was instantly admitted; and after having excused
himself for thus intruding upon the privacy of the monarch at a moment
when, as he was well aware, the mind of the King was occupied by
subjects of importance both to himself and to the state, he informed his
royal father that La Brosse, a famous astrologer, had declared that the
constellation under which his Majesty was born threatened him with
imminent danger during that particular day; and that he consequently
implored of him to be more than usually cautious until its close.

"Pshaw!" exclaimed the King gaily; "La Brosse is an old sharper who is
anxious to obtain some of your money; and you are a young fool to
believe him. My days are numbered before God."

When he had dined Henry threw himself upon his bed, but he tried in vain
to sleep; he then rose and paced gloomily about the room for a
considerable time, after which he once more lay down; but the result
proving the same, he again sprang to his feet, and turning abruptly to
the _exempt_ of the guard, he demanded to know the time.

"It is just four o'clock, Sire," replied the officer; "and I would
venture to suggest to your Majesty to try the effect of the open air, as
you appear harassed and out of spirits."

"You are right," said the King; "cause my coach to be prepared, and I
will go to the Arsenal and visit the Duc de Sully, who is unwell, and
takes a bath to-day."

When the carriage was announced, the King stepped into it, followed by
the Ducs de Montbazon and d'Epernon, the Marechaux de Lavardin and de
Roquelaure, the Marquises de Mirabeau and de la Force, and M. de
Liancourt, his first equerry.

Being anxious to obtain a good view of the preparations which were
making for the entry of the Queen, Henry desired that the leathern
curtains, which were at that period the clumsy substitute for windows,
should be looped back; and during this operation M. de Vitry presented
himself, with the intention of escorting the royal equipage with his
company of the bodyguard.

"No, no," said the King impatiently; "remain in the palace, and see that
everything goes on as I have ordered, and with as much speed as

"At least, Sire, suffer my guards to attend you," urged De Vitry.

"I will neither take you nor your guards," was the abrupt reply; "I
want no one near me."

And upon this command the disappointed courtier was compelled to

"Drive from the palace," shouted the monarch in a tone of excitement;
"in the direction of the Hotel de Longueville." The carriage started at
a rapid pace, and it had no sooner reached the spot indicated, than he
again exclaimed, "And now to the Cross of Trahoir." [18] Arrived at this
wretched nook, he next desired to be driven to the Cemetery of the
Innocents, for which purpose it was necessary to pass from the Rue St.
Honore into that of La Ferronnerie, which was at that period extremely
narrow, and rendered still more so by the numerous shops built against
the cemetery wall. On reaching this point the progress of the royal
carriage was impeded by two heavily-laden waggons, and the footmen who
had hitherto run beside it pressed forward towards the end of the
thoroughfare in order to rejoin it at the other extremity of the street.
Two attendants only remained at their station, one of whom was employed
in hastening the movements of the embarrassed waggoners, while the other
was engaged in arranging some portion of his dress which had become
displaced. At this moment a man advanced towards the King's equipage,
wrapped in a wide mantle, and carefully picked his way between the
trading-booths and the carriage, which he had no sooner reached than,
placing one of his feet on a spoke of the wheel, and the other on a
doorstep, he plunged a knife into the side of the King, who was at that
moment engaged in reading a letter.

As he felt the blow Henry exclaimed, "I am stabbed!" While he uttered
the words, he flung up his arms, an action by which the assassin
profited to take a surer and more fatal aim; and before the
horror-stricken companions of the unfortunate monarch could make a
movement to prevent it, a second thrust pierced the lobe of his heart.
The blood gushed in torrents from his mouth, and from the wound itself,
when again the remorseless knife descended, but only to become entangled
in the sleeve of the Duc d'Epernon;[19] while with one thick and choking
sob Henri IV fell back a corpse.

No one had seen by what hand the King had fallen; and had the regicide
flung away his weapon, he might have stood unquestioned among the crowd
which instantly collected upon seeing the six nobles who had accompanied
the sovereign spring to the ground, with loud exclamations of dismay;
but Ravaillac[20] stood firm, with his reeking and two-edged knife still
in his hand, and avowed his crime with a boldness which in a better
cause would have savoured of heroism.[21]

Meanwhile one of the royal party, perceiving that Henry remained
perfectly motionless, while the carriage was inundated with his blood,
incautiously exclaimed, "The King is dead!" upon which a loud wail arose
from the assembled spectators; and the agitation of the crowd became so
excessive that the Duc d'Epernon called loudly for a draught of wine,
asserting that his Majesty was faint from a hurt, and required
refreshment. A number of the inhabitants of the adjacent houses
thereupon hastened to procure the desired beverage; while the companions
of the monarch, profiting by the movement, let fall the leathern
curtains of the coach, and informed the populace that they must
immediately convey his Majesty to the Louvre in order to secure proper
assistance.[22] This was done with all speed, while as they passed
through the city the attendants replied to the inquiries which were made
on every side that the King was merely wounded; and on arriving at the
palace the body was stretched upon a bed, without having been cleansed
or clothed, and in this state it remained for several hours, exposed to
the gaze of all who thought proper to visit the chamber of death.[23]

During this time the Queen, fatigued by her previous exertions, was
lying upon a sofa in her private cabinet, in order to recruit her
strength against the evening, which was, as we have shown, to have been
one of gaiety and gala, when her affrighted attendants hastened to
convey to her the fatal tidings of her widowhood. In a paroxysm of
uncontrollable anguish she rushed towards the door of the closet, and
was about to make her way to the chamber in which the royal body had
been deposited, when she was met by the Chancellor, to whom the fearful
news had already been communicated, and who obstructed her passage.

"Let me pass, Sir," she faltered out, "the King is dead."

"Pardon me, Madame," said Sillery, still impeding her purpose, "the
Kings of France never die. Return, I implore of you, to your apartment.
Restrain your tears until you have insured your own safety and that of
your children; and instead of indulging in a grief which can avail you
nothing, exert all your energies to counteract the possible effects of
this disastrous and lamentable event."

M. de Vitry was immediately instructed to assemble all the royal
children in the same apartment, and not to permit any one, whatever
might be his rank or authority, to have access to them; an order which
was implicitly obeyed; and meanwhile six-and-twenty physicians and
surgeons, who had been hastily summoned to the palace, commenced opening
the corpse, which was discovered to be so universally healthy as to
promise a long life. The intestines were, according to the prescribed
custom, at once forwarded to St. Denis; while the Jesuits demanded the
heart, in order to convey it to their church of La Fleche; and it was no
sooner removed from the body, and placed in a silver basin, than it was
eagerly pressed to the lips of all the nobles who assisted at the
operation; each of those who carried away traces of the blood which
issued from it upon his moustachios, esteeming himself highly honoured
by the vestiges of the contact.[24]

The royal remains were then embalmed, and placed in a sumptuous coffin
upon a bed of state, in one of the most spacious apartments of the
Louvre, which was hung with the richest tapestry appertaining to the
crown. A magnificent canopy of cloth of gold surmounted the bier, and on
either side of the catafalque were placed two temporary altars; ten
others having been erected in the state-gallery, at which the bishops
and the cures of the several metropolitan parishes daily performed six
high and one hundred low masses. Platforms covered with cloth of gold
had been prepared for the cardinals and prelates; and at the foot of the
royal body, cushions of black velvet were arranged for the Princes of
the Blood and the higher nobility. A golden crucifix and a silver vase
containing holy water were deposited on a table of carved oak; and at
the extremity of the room were grouped enormous tapers of wax, near
which stood two heralds-king-at-arms, in their splendid state costume,
leaning upon their swords. The face of the corpse was exposed, the head
covered by a cap of crimson velvet laced with gold, and the body attired
in a vest of white satin, over which was flung a drapery of cloth of
gold, having in the centre a cross elaborately embroidered in

On the day which succeeded the embalmment, while the clergy were praying
in suppressed voices at the several altars, a distant sound was heard,
which gradually approaching nearer and nearer to the death-chamber,
became ere long blent with their murmured orisons; and as they looked
towards the entrance of the apartment, they saw the young King standing
upon the threshold, attended by a numerous suite of Princes and nobles.
Louis XIII was wrapped in a mourning cloak of violet-coloured velvet;
his vest was of dark silk; and his pale and melancholy face was
half-hidden by the hood which had been drawn over his head. The high
dignitaries who composed his retinue wore mantles of black velvet, and
were entirely without arms. The two younger sons of France, the Ducs
d'Orleans and d'Anjou, walked on either side of the new-made sovereign,
each grasping a fold of his heavy cloak; and immediately behind them
came the Cardinals de Joyeuse and de Sourdis. The Prince de Conde, the
Comte de Soissons, the Duc de Guise, the Prince de Joinville, and the
Duc d'Elboeuf bore the royal train; and were in their turn succeeded by
the prelates who assisted at the ceremony, each wearing his mitre, and
carrying his crozier. In the rear followed a crowd of nobles and great
officers of the household, who, however, advanced only a few yards from
the doorway, while Louis and his immediate attendants slowly approached
the bier. The scene was an affecting one: the boy-King, timid and
trembling, surrounded by the flower of his nation's chivalry and
greatness, moved with a faltering step towards the resting-place of that
father who had so lately wielded like a toy the sceptre which he was
himself still too impotent to bear, and whose bold spirit had been
quenched while it was yet strong within him. On every side the vanity of
human pride, which will not learn a lesson even under the stern teaching
of death, was contrasted with the awe that sat upon the faces of the
assistants, and with the immobility of the livid countenance which
gleamed out pale and ghastly from amid its glittering drapery!

As the youthful mourner reached the death-couch, the kings-at-arms were
about to present to him the aspergillus, in order that he might sprinkle
the corpse with the consecrated water, when a movement among the nobles
who stood near the entrance of the apartment caused them to pause; and
in another moment a group of ladies, attired in deep mourning, appeared
beneath the portico; where, separating into two ranks, they left a
passage open for the widowed Queen; who, clad in violet velvet like her
son, with a high ruff, and her head uncovered, advanced with an unsteady
step and streaming eyes towards her children.

"Pray with me, my son," she murmured amid her sobs as she stood beneath
the mortuary canopy; "there lies your happiness and mine. May it please
God that our hopes may not also have expired with him who was but a few
short hours ago the glory and the greatness of his kingdom! The sturdy
tree has fallen, and the saplings are still weak and frail. The mission
of the great Henry is accomplished, and the weight of sovereignty is
transferred to your own brow. And you also, my beloved ones," she
continued, glancing towards her younger sons, "come nearer to me, and
let us kneel together beside the body of your august and
lamented father."

The two young Princes relaxed their hold of the royal mantle, and placed
themselves beside their mother. The illustrious widow and her orphans
then sank upon their knees, and continued for a considerable time
absorbed in silent and earnest prayer. At intervals a sob which could
not be controlled broke upon the stillness, but at length the mourners
rose; and Marie, taking the hand of the boy-King, drew him towards her,
and murmured in his ear a few hurried words which were inaudible to all
save himself. As she ceased speaking, Louis glanced up into her face for
an instant; and then, extending his right hand towards the corpse, he
said in a clear and steady voice--

"Mother, I swear to do so."

Even at that awful moment a strange light flashed from the eyes of the
Queen, and a smile, which was almost one of triumph, played about her
lips as she glanced at the assembled nobles; but the emotion, by
whatever cause produced, was only momentary; and after having cast
another long and agonized look upon the face of the dead monarch, and
aspersed the body with holy water, she bent her head reverentially to
the King, and withdrew, followed by her ladies.

When the whole of the royal party had paid this last mark of respect to
the remains of the deceased sovereign, the coffin was finally closed;
and the death-room, in which the corpse was to remain for the space of
eighteen days, was opened to the public from ten o'clock in the morning
until six in the evening. Then, indeed, as the vast crowds succeeded
each other like the ceaseless waves of an incoming sea, the bitter wail
of universal lamentation rang through the halls and galleries of the
palace. Henri IV had been essentially the King of the People; and, with
few and rare exceptions, it was by the people that he was truly mourned;
for his sudden decease had opened so many arenas to ambition, hatred,
jealousy, and hope, that the great nobles had no time to waste in tears,
but were already busily engaged in the furtherance of their
own fortunes.

During the exposition of the body the necessary preparations had been
completed for the interment of the deceased King, which exceeded in
magnificence all that had previously been attempted on a similar
occasion; and this pomp was rendered even more remarkable by the privacy
with which his predecessor Henri III had been conveyed to St. Denis only
a week previously, the remains of the latter sovereign having hitherto
been suffered to remain in the church of St. Camille at Compiegne,
whence they were removed under the guard of the Ducs d'Epernon and de
Bellegarde, his former favourites; the etiquette in such an emergency
not permitting the inhumation of the recently deceased King in the
vaults of the royal abbey until his predecessor should have occupied his
appointed place.

The first stage of the funeral procession was Notre-Dame; and as the
gorgeous _cortege_ approached the church, all its avenues, save that
which was kept clear by the Swiss Guards, were thronged by the citizens
and artizans of the capital; sounds of weeping and lamentation were to
be heard on every side; yet still, divided between grief and curiosity,
the crowd swept on; and as the last section of the melancholy procession
disappeared beneath the venerable portals of the cathedral, its vast
esplanade was alive with earnest and eager human beings, who, fearful of
exclusion from the interior of the building, pressed rudely against each
other, overthrowing the weak and battling with the strong in their
anxiety to assist at the awful and solemn ceremony which was about to
be enacted.

Only a few moments had consequently elapsed ere a dense mass of the
people choked almost to suffocation the gothic arches and the nave of
the sacred edifice, while the aisles were peopled by the more exalted
individuals who had composed the funeral procession. Upwards of three
thousand nobles, and a great number of ladies, all clad in mourning
dresses, and attended by their pages and equerries, blended their
melancholy voices with the responses of the canons of the cathedral; the
bishops of the adjacent sees, and the archbishops in their rich raiment
of velvet and cloth of silver, carried in their hands tapers of perfumed
wax; Oriental myrrh and aloes burned in golden censers, and veiled the
lofty dome with a light and diaphanous vapour which gave an unearthly
aspect to the building; the organ pealed forth its deep and thrilling
tones; and amid this scene of excitement, splendour, and suffering, the
Cardinal de Gondy celebrated the mass, and the Bishop of Aire delivered
the funeral oration. The coffin was then raised, and the crowd,
hurriedly escaping from the church, once more spread itself over the
neighbouring streets until the procession should again have formed;
after which all this immense concourse of people accompanied the body of
their beloved monarch to St. Lazare, where the clergy halted and
returned to Paris; while the nobles who were to escort the mortuary-car
to St. Denis, and who had hitherto followed it on foot, either mounted
on horseback, or entered their carriages, in order to reach the Leaning
Cross at the same time as the corpse.

There, the grand prior and the monks of the royal abbey, in their
mourning hoods, received the body of Henri IV from the hands of De
Gondy, the Archbishop of Paris; and on the following day the
Cardinal-Duc de Joyeuse celebrated a solemn mass and performed the
funeral service of his late sovereign.

At the close of the lugubrious ceremony the iron gates of the house of
death swung hoarsely upon their hinges. The "De Profundis" pealed from
the high altar, and Henry the Great was gathered to his ancestors.


[1] L'Etoile, vol. iv. pp.17, 18. Montfaucon, vol. v. p.429.

[2] Matthieu, vol. 9361 of the royal manuscripts, p. 804.

[3] Dupleix, p. 403.

[4] L'Etoile, vol. iv. p. 30.

[5] Charles de Bourbon-Conti, Comte d'Anquien, son of the Comte de

[6] Charlotte Catherine de la Tremouille, Princess Dowager of Conde, was
the daughter of Louis III, Seigneur de la Tremouille, and was born in
1568. The Prince de Conde, the chief of the Protestant party, enamoured
of her beauty, made her his wife in 1586; and having died by poison two
years subsequently, suspicion fell upon the Princess and some of her
confidential attendants, several of whom were put to death as
accessories to the crime. Madame de Conde herself was imprisoned, and,
despite her protestations of innocence, was not set at liberty for
upwards of seven years, when she was at length liberated by Henri IV
(1596). She died in 1629.

[7] Marie de Luxembourg, the daughter of Sebastien de Luxembourg, Duc de
Penthievre and Vicomte de Martigues, and wife of Philippe Emmanuel de
Lorraine, Duc de Mercoeur.

[8] Antoinette de Pons, Marquise de Guercheville, whose second husband
was Charles du Plessis, Seigneur de Liancourt, First Equerry, and
Governor of Paris.

[9] _Remarques sur l'Invention de la Bibliotheque_, de M. Guillaume,
art. 33.

[10] _Mercure Francais,_ 1610, pp. 419-423.

[11] _Mercure Francais_, 1610, p. 423.

[12] Francois de Bonne, Duc de Lesdiguieres, was born at St. Bonnet, in
Upper Dauphiny, in 1543. He became general of the Huguenots, and
obtained several victories over the Catholic troops. On the accession of
Henri IV to the French throne, that Prince appointed him
lieutenant-general of his armies in Piedmont, Savoy, and Dauphiny. His
success in Savoy was brilliant, and he was created Marshal of France in
1608. Four years subsequently he embraced the Romish faith; and died in
1626 with the title of Connetable.

[13] Richelieu, _La Mere et le Fils_, vol. i. pp. 27-32.

[14] _Idem_, pp. 24, 25.

[15] Bassompierre, _Mem_. p. 71.

[16] Andree d'Alegre, Comtesse and Marechale de Fervaques, was the widow
of Guy de Coligny, Comte de Laval, de Montfort, etc., and the wife of
Guillaume de Hautemer, Comte de Grancy, Seigneur de Fervaques, and
Marechal de France.

[17] Madeleine de Silly, Comtesse du Fargis, was the daughter of
Antoine, Comte de la Rochepot, and the wife of Charles d'Angennes,
Seigneur du Fargis, ambassador in Spain from 1620 to 1624. She became
the confidential friend and favourite of Anne of Austria, and in 1636
was entrusted with the keeping of the crown jewels. Madame du Fargis was
considered to be one of the most beautiful women at the French Court;
but her spirit of intrigue rendered her a dangerous companion for a
youthful and neglected Queen, and her morals were unfortunately not
above suspicion.

[18] The Cross of Trahoir was a small irregularly shaped space,
surrounded by miserable hovels, with high pointed roofs, most of which
were in a state of dangerous dilapidation; the broken casements in every
instance replaced by rags or straw; the doors ill-hung and swinging upon
their rusty hinges, and the whole of the buildings lost in dirt and
wretchedness. The inhabitants of this filthy nook were of the lowest and
most depraved description, and no other tenants could indeed have been
found to make their dwelling there; as in addition to the squalor of the
buildings themselves, the deeply-sunk and humid soil, which in fact
formed an open sewer that drained the adjacent streets, supported
several permanent gibbets arranged in the form of a cross; while the
thoroughfares by which it was approached were foul and fetid lanes,
breathing nothing save disease and infection.

[19] Mezeray, Perefixe, and Daniel say that it was the Due de Montbazon
whose arm warded off the blow.

[20] Francois Ravaillac was a native of Angouleme, the son of a lawyer,
and was about thirty-two years of age. He was a descendant through the
female line of Poltrot de Mere, the assassin of the Due de Guise. He had
been originally destined to follow the profession of his father, but the
loss of a lawsuit having reduced his parents to beggary, he took refuge
in the monastery of the Feuillants, where he entered upon his novitiate.
His weakness of intellect and extreme irritability caused him, however,
to be rejected by that community; and he returned to his native
province, where he was imprisoned for twelve months as an accomplice in
a case of manslaughter. During his confinement he had, as he affirmed,
visions connected with the conduct of the King which determined him to
take his life; and for three years he had persisted in this horrible
design, in furtherance of which he had thrice visited Paris. Upon the
last of these occasions he had reached the capital during the Easter
festivals, but he determined to delay his purpose until after the
coronation of the Queen.

[21] Perefixe, vol. ii. pp. 496-498. Mezeray, vol. x. p. 395. _Mercure
Francais_, p. 424. L'Etoile, vol. iv. pp. 36-40.

[22] _Mercure Francais_, pp. 424, 425. L'Etoile, vol. iv. pp. 40, 41.
Daniel, vol. vii. p. 507.

[23] Mezeray, vol. x. p. 397.

[24] _Mercure Francais_, pp. 440, 441.

[25] Perefixe, vol. ii. pp. 498, 499.





Self-possession of Marie de Medicis--The Ducs de Guise and d'Epernon
assemble the nobility--Precautions for the security of the
metropolis--The first audience of the widowed Queen--Impolicy of
Sully--The Duc d'Epernon announces to the Parliament the authorized
regency of Marie--By whom it is ratified--Precarious position of the
Queen-mother--The first night of widowhood--Injudicious apathy of Marie
de Medicis on the subject of her husband's murder--Her incautious
display of favour towards the Duc d'Epernon--The Duke is suspected of
having been an accessory to the assassination of Henri IV--He demands
the punishment of the authors of the rumour--A lawyer and a
courtier--Fearless reply of the President de Harlay to the rebuke of the
Regent--Suspicions against Philip of Spain--Louis XIII holds his first
Bed of Justice--The Queen requests the support of the Parliament--Return
of the Court to the Louvre--The Duc de Sully visits the Queen--Effect of
his reception--The Princess-Dowager of Conde urges the return of
her son to Court--M. de Soissons is invited by Marie de Medicis
to the capital--His disappointment--His arrogance--A courtly
falsehood--Reception of M. de Soissons at the gates of Paris--His
numerous retinue--The recompense of obedience--Congratulatory
deputations--Trial of the regicide Ravaillac--His execution--Arrival
of the Duc de Bouillon in Paris--His quarrel with the Duc de
Sully--They are reconciled--The Court attend a funeral service at
Notre-Dame--Presumption of the Duc d'Epernon--Marie de Medicis devotes
herself to state affairs--Jealousy of the Princes of the Blood and great
nobles--Marie endeavours to conciliate them--The Spanish Minister
endeavours to prevent the return of the Prince de Conde--Without
success--The Regent forms a council--Pretensions of the nobles--The Duc
d'Epernon takes possession of apartments in the Louvre--He leagues with
the Comte de Soissons against the Prince de Conde--Speculations of the
Ministers--Their policy--Boyhood of Louis XIII--A delicate position--A
royal rebuke--Court favour--The visionary Government--Discontent of the
citizens of Paris--Unpopularity of the Regent--The ex-Queen's
entertainment--Imprudence of Marie de Medicis--Confirmation of the Edict
of Nantes--Return of the Prince de Conde--The Regent is alarmed by his
popularity--Double-dealing of the Duc d'Epernon--The Prince de Conde
declares his intention to uphold the interests of the Regent--His
reception at the Louvre--He rejoins his wife--The Court of the Hotel de
Conde--A cabal--Marie is advised to arrest the Prince de Conde--She
refuses--The secret council--Indignation of Sully--Mischievous advice of
the Duc de Bouillon--Munificence of the Regent to M. de Conde--The royal
treasury--Venality of the French Princes--The English Ambassador--Royal
pledges--Philip of Spain proposes a double alliance with France--The
Regent welcomes the offer--Policy of Philip--The secret pledge--Madame
de Verneuil urges her claim to the hand of the Duc de Guise--The
important document--A ducal dilemma--The Regent discountenances the
claim of the Marquise--Madame de Verneuil is induced by Jeannin to
withdraw her pretensions--Her subsequent obscurity.

The news of the King's decease had no sooner been communicated to Marie
de Medicis than, profiting by the advice of the Chancellor, she made a
violent attempt at composure; and although still with streaming eyes and
ill-suppressed sobs, she gave her assent to the suggestions of her
councillors. The Ducs de Guise and d'Epernon were instructed to mount
upon the instant, and to assemble as many of the nobles as were within
reach, whom they were to accompany through the streets of the city,
declaring upon their way that the King was not dead, although grievously
wounded; the city gates were ordered to be closed, the keys delivered to
the lieutenant of police, and strict commands issued to prevent all
gatherings of the populace in the thoroughfares; while the guards who
were distributed through the faubourgs were hastily concentrated in the
environs of the Parliament, in order, should such a measure become
necessary, to enforce the recognition of the Queen as Regent of
the kingdom.

These arrangements made, MM. de Guise, d'Epernon, de Villeroy, and de
Lavardin demanded an audience of the august widow, at which, kneeling
before her, they kissed her hand, and assured her of their unalterable
devotion. Their example was imitated by all the great nobles of the
Court, with the sole exception of the Duc de Sully, who was encountered
by Bassompierre in the Rue St. Antoine, accompanied by about forty
mounted followers, and evidently in a state of intense agitation.
"Gentlemen," he exclaimed, as the two parties met, "if the loyalty which
you each vowed to the monarch whom we have just been unhappy enough to
lose is as deeply impressed upon your hearts as it should be upon those
of all faithful Frenchmen, swear at this precise moment to preserve the
same fidelity towards the King his son and successor, and that you will
employ your blood and your life to avenge him."

"Sir," haughtily replied Bassompierre, who had probably more deeply
mourned the death of his royal master and friend than any other
individual of the Court, and who was consequently revolted by the
imperious tone of this address, "it is we who have been enjoined to
enforce this oath upon others, and we do not need any exhortations to do
our duty."

Sully regarded the speaker gloomily for an instant, and then, as though
overcome by some sudden apprehension, he coldly saluted the group of
nobles, and retraced his steps to the Bastille, where he forthwith
closed the gates; having previously, on his way thither, caused his
attendants to carry off all the bread which they could collect either in
the shops or markets. He, moreover, no sooner thus found himself in
safety than he despatched a courier to his son-in-law, the Duc de
Rohan, who was with the army in Champagne at the head of six thousand
Switzers, desiring him to march straight upon Paris; an indiscretion
which he was subsequently destined to expiate, from the heavy suspicion
which it necessarily entailed upon him. Vainly did MM. de Praslin and de
Crequy, who were sent to summon him to the presence of the young King,
endeavour to induce him to lose no time in presenting himself at the
Louvre; the only concession which he could be prevailed upon to make,
was to desire the Duchess, his wife,[26] to hasten to the palace, and to
offer to the Regent and her son his sincere condolence upon their
irreparable misfortune.[27]

The Duc d'Epernon, after having stationed the guards at the palace, was
instructed by the Queen to proceed at once to the Parliament, which was
then assembled, and to inform its members that her Majesty had in her
possession a decree signed and sealed by the late King, conferring upon
herself the regency of the kingdom during the minority of her son;
entreating them at once to ratify the appointment in order to ensure the
public tranquillity. She also privately despatched a messenger to the
President de Harlay, whom she knew to be attached to her interests, and
to be at once able and zealous, to instruct him to assemble the Court
without delay, and to use all his influence to enforce her rights. De
Harlay, who on receipt of her message was confined to his bed by gout,
immediately caused himself to be dressed, and proceeded in a chair to
the Augustine monastery; where he had scarcely arrived when the Duc
d'Epernon entered the hall, and declared the will of the late King, and
the confidence felt by the Queen that the Parliament would, without
repugnance, recognize her right to the dignity thus conferred upon
her.[28] This they immediately did; and owing to the absence of the
Prince de Conde and the Comte de Soissons, both of whom aspired to the
high office about to be filled by Marie de Medicis, without the
slightest opposition or disturbance.

This happy intelligence was conveyed to the Queen by M. d'Epernon, who
returned to the palace accompanied by one of the members of the
Parliament, when the latter, after having been presented to his royal
mistress, on whose right hand sat the young King bewildered by what was
passing about him, bent his knee before their Majesties, and tendered
to Marie a scroll, which having been returned by her to the accredited
envoy of the supreme court, was read aloud as follows:--

"THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL, having represented to the Parliament in full
assembly that the King having just expired by the act of a most cruel,
most inhuman, and most detestable regicide committed upon his sacred
person, it became necessary to provide for the safety of the reigning
monarch and of his kingdom, required that an order should be promptly
issued concerning his safety and that of the state, which could only be
ruled and governed by the Queen during the minority of the said Lord her
son; and that it should please the said Court to proclaim her Regent, in
order that it might, through her, administer the affairs of the realm;
The subject having been duly considered, the said Court declared, and
still declares, the said Queen, the King's mother, Regent of France, to
be entrusted with the administration of all matters of state during the
minority of the said Lord her son, with all power and authority.

"Done in Parliament, this 14th of May, 1610.

"(Signed) DU TILLET." [29]

During the course of the day guards had been sent to the residence of
the several foreign ambassadors, in order to protect them from the
violence of the populace, and especially to that of the Spanish
minister, who was peculiarly obnoxious to the Parisians. The governors
of provinces and fortresses who chanced to be at that moment sojourning
in the capital were ordered to repair without delay to their several
commands, to maintain tranquillity within their separate jurisdictions;
and, save the audible lamentations which throughout the night broke the
silence of the mourning city, all was calm and quiet, except in the
immediate neighbourhood of the Augustine monastery, where the
Attorney-General had authorized the workmen to prepare the great hall
for the reception of the young King, and where the necessary
preparations for his presence on the following day were continued
until dawn.[30]

The parliamentary envoy having quitted the palace, and the crowd of
nobles, by whom its spacious halls and galleries had been filled, having
retired, Marie was at length left at liberty to indulge her grief,
rendered only the more poignant from the constraint to which she had
been so long subjected. Her first impulse was to command that the bed of
the young sovereign should be removed to her own chamber, and this done,
she abandoned herself to all the bitterness of her sorrow.

She had, indeed, legitimate cause for tears. With a son still almost a
child, ambitious nobles jealous of her power, and a great nation looking
towards herself for support and consolation, she might well shrink as
she contemplated the arduous task which had so suddenly devolved upon
her. Moreover, death is the moral crucible which cleanses from all dross
the memories of those who are submitted to its unerring test; and in
such an hour she could not but forget the faults of the husband in
dwelling upon the greatness of the monarch. Who, then, shall venture to
follow her through the reveries of that fatal night? Who shall dare,
unrebuked, to assert that the ambition of the woman quenched the
affection of the wife? or that Marie, in the excess of her
self-gratulation, forgot the price at which her delegated greatness had
been purchased? That some have been found bold enough to do this says
little for their innate knowledge of human nature. The presence of death
and the stillness of night are fearful chasteners of worldly pride, and
with these the daughter of the Medici was called upon to contend. Her
position demanded mercy at the hands of her historians, and should not
have sought it in vain.

From one reproach it is, however, impossible to exonerate her, and that
one was the repugnance which she evinced to encourage any investigation
into the real influence under which Ravaillac had committed the murder
of the King. In vain did she receive communications involving
individuals who were openly named; she discouraged every report; and
although among these the Duc d'Epernon made a conspicuous figure, she
treated the accusation with indifference, and continued to display
towards him an amount of confidence and favour to which he had never
previously attained.

Indignant at this extraordinary supineness, the President de Harlay only
increased his own efforts to unravel so painful a mystery; and refusing
all credence to the assertion of the regicide that he had been
self-prompted--an assertion to which he had perseveringly adhered amid
torture, and even unto death, with a firmness truly marvellous under the
circumstances--the zealous magistrate carefully examined every document
that was laid before him, and interrogated their authors with a
pertinacity which created great alarm among the accused parties, of whom
none were so prominent as Madame de Verneuil and the Duc d'Epernon.

The latter, indeed, considered it expedient to wait upon the
commissioners appointed by the Parliament to investigate these reports,
in order to urge the condemnation of their authors; these being, as he
asserted, not only guilty of defaming innocent persons, but also of
exciting a dangerous feeling among the people, at all times too anxious
to seek the disgrace and ruin of their superiors. He found, however,
little sympathy among those whom he sought to conciliate; and on
addressing himself to the President, whom he entreated to inform him of
the details of the accusation made against himself, that magistrate,
without any effort to disguise his feeling of repulsion towards the
applicant, coldly replied, "I am, Sir, not your prosecutor, but
your judge."

"I ask this of you as my friend," was the retort of the Duke.

"I have no friend," said the uncompromising minister. "I shall do you
justice, and with that you must content yourself."

So uncourteous a reception excited the indignation of M. d'Epernon, who
forthwith hastened to the Louvre to complain to the Regent of the insult
to which he had been subjected; and Marie had no sooner been apprised of
the affair than, with a want of caution highly detrimental to her own
reputation, she despatched a nobleman of her household to M. de Harlay,
to inform him that she had just learnt with extreme regret that he had
failed in respect to the Duke, and that she must request that in future
he would exhibit more deference towards a person of his quality and
merit. This somewhat abrupt injunction, addressed to the first
magistrate of the kingdom, and under circumstances so peculiar, only
tended, however, to arouse M. de Harlay to an assumption of the dignity
attached to his office, and he replied with haughty severity to the
individual who had been charged with the royal message:--

"During fifty years I have been a judge, and for the last thirty I have
had the honour to be the head of the sovereign Court of Peers of this
kingdom; and I never before have seen either duke, lord, or peer, or any
other man whatever might be his quality, accused of the crime of
_lese-majeste_ as M. d'Epernon now is, who came into the presence of his
judges booted and spurred, and wearing his sword at his side. Do not
fail to tell the Queen this." [31]

So marked an exhibition of the opinion entertained by the Parliament on
the subject of the complicity of the Duke in the crime then under
investigation, did not fail to produce a powerful effect upon all to
whom it became known, but it nevertheless failed to shake the confidence
of Marie de Medicis in the innocence of a courtier who had, in the short
space of a few days, by his energy and devotion, rendered himself
essential to her; while thus much must be admitted in extenuation of her
conduct, reprehensible as it appeared, that every rumour relative to the
death of her royal consort immediately reached her, and that two of
these especially appeared more credible than the guilt of a noble, who
could, apparently, reap no benefit from the commission of so foul and
dangerous a crime. In the first place, the Spanish Cabinet had been long
labouring to undermine the power of France, in which they had failed
through the energy and wisdom of the late King, whose opposition to the
alliance which they had proposed between the Dauphin and their own
Infanta had, moreover, wounded their pride, and disappointed their
projects; and there were not wanting many who accused the agents of
Philip of having instigated the assassination; while another rumour,
less generally disseminated, ascribed the act of Ravaillac to the
impulse of personal revenge, elicited by the circumstance that Henry
had first dishonoured and subsequently abandoned a sister to whom he was
devotedly attached.

That M. d'Epernon was politic enough to impress upon the mind of the
Queen the extreme probability of either or both of these facts, there
can be little doubt, as it would appear from the testimony of several
witnesses that the intention of the murderer was known for some time
before the act was committed; and nothing could be more rational than
the belief that if the agents of Spain were indeed seeking to secure a
trusty tool for the execution of so dark a deed, they would rather
entrust it to one who could by the same means satiate his own thirst for
private revenge, than to a mere bravo who perilled life and salvation
simply from the greed of gain.

Day by day, moreover, the ministers were overwhelmed by accusations
which pointed at different individuals. Those who had opposed the return
of the Jesuits to France openly declared that they were the actual
assassins; while even in the provinces several persons were arrested who
had predicted before its occurrence the death of the King, and the means
by which it was to be accomplished; and finally the affair became so
involved that, with the exception of the woman De Comans to whom
allusion has been elsewhere made, and who was condemned to imprisonment
for life, all the suspected persons were finally acquitted.[32]

At eight o'clock on the morning succeeding the assassination of the King
all the members of the different Chambers assembled in their scarlet
robes and capes, the presidents wearing their cloaks and mortar-shaped
caps; and half an hour afterwards the Chancellor, accompanied by several
masters of the Court of Requests, and dressed from head to foot in black
velvet, took his place below the First President in the great hall of
the Augustine monastery, where the young King was to hold his Bed of
Justice, the ordinary place of meeting being still encumbered with the
costly preparations which had been made for the state-reception of the
Queen. This ceremonial was essential to the legal tenure of the regency
by his mother, which required the ratification of the sovereign; and his
assent in the presence of his princes, dukes, peers, and officers of the
Crown, to her assumption of entire and complete control over his own
education, and the administration of the government during his minority,
as well as his approval of the decree delivered on the previous day by
the Parliament.[33]

Then arrived in rapid succession the Duc de Mayenne, the Connetable de
Montmorency, the cardinals, prelates, and other great dignitaries; who
were finally succeeded by the King himself, habited in a suit of violet
velvet, and surrounded and followed by a numerous retinue of princes,
dukes, nobles, and high officers of the Court. Louis himself was mounted
on a white palfrey, but all the members of his suite, whatever their
rank, were on foot. The Queen came next in her coach, attended by the
Princesses of the Blood and the other great ladies of her household; not
as she had anticipated only two days previously, blazing with jewels and
clad in royal robes, but covered with an ample mourning drapery of
black crape.

The necessary ceremonies having been observed, the King at length took
his place upon the Bed of Justice, having the Queen upon his right hand;
while below their Majesties were seated the Prince de Conti, the Comte
d'Enghien, who represented his father, M. de Soissons, the Duc de Guise,
the Duc de Montmorency, the Duc d'Epernon, the Duc de Sully, all peers
of France, and the Marechaux de Brissac,[34] de Lavardin, and de
Bois-Dauphin;[35] while the other dignitaries of the State and Church
were arranged upon either hand of the young monarch, and the body of the
hall was occupied by the members of the several Courts.

When all had taken their places, and silence was restored, the Queen,
rising from her seat, and throwing back her veil, proceeded to address
the assembly, but for a time her voice was inaudible, and choked with
sobs. At length, however, she mastered her emotion, and with a gesture
full of mournful dignity, she besought all present to continue to her
son and to herself the same loyalty and devotion which they had
exhibited towards the monarch of whom the state had been so cruelly
bereft; assuring them that it should be her study to induce the King to
be guided by their counsels in all things, and imploring of them to
afford him such advice as should on all occasions be compatible with his
own dignity and the welfare of the country over which he was called
upon to rule.

Short as was this harangue, it was not without considerable difficulty
that she accomplished its utterance. More than once, suffocated by her
grief, she was compelled to pause until she could regain her voice; and
when at its close she drew her veil once more over her head, and
prepared to leave the hall, the assembly rose simultaneously, and
implored of her to honour the meeting by her presence until it should be
dissolved. Exhausted and wretched, Marie strove to utter her thanks, and
to retire; but the opposition offered to this resolution was so great
and so unanimous that she was at length prevailed upon to resume her
seat; and she had no sooner done so than Louis, raising for a moment the
cap from his head, in his turn addressed the Court.

The reply of the Chancellor was pregnant with wisdom and loyalty; in it
he assured the King of the fidelity and devotion of all ranks of his
subjects, and confirmed the Queen in her regency; after which the
Attorney-General having spoken at great length to the same effect, the
royal and august personages rose and returned to the Louvre in the same
order as they had observed on their arrival, followed throughout the
whole distance by the acclamations of the citizens, and reiterated cries
of "Vive le Roi!" [36]

An hour or two subsequently Marie de Medicis accorded an audience to the
Duc de Sully, who had, with considerable difficulty, been induced by M.
de Guise to present himself at the palace, to offer his condolences to
the young sovereign and his august mother;[37] and he was accordingly
introduced into the private apartment of the Queen, where he found her
surrounded by the ladies of her household, and absorbed in grief. As he
was announced she burst into a passion of tears, and for a time was
unable to welcome him; but having at length succeeded in controlling her
emotion, she desired that the King should be brought to her; and he had
no sooner appeared than she pointed out to him the Duc de Sully, when
the young monarch threw himself into his arms, and loaded him with the
most affectionate caresses.

"You do well, my son," sobbed Marie, as she remarked the emotion of the
boy; "you must love M. de Sully, who was one of the best and most
faithful servants of the King your father, and who will, I trust,
continue to serve you with the same zeal." [38]

The interview was a lengthy one, and the urbanity of the Queen produced
so powerful an effect upon the mind of the finance minister that he
ceased to apprehend any diminution of his influence, and accordingly
sent to countermand the return of the Duc de Rohan, who had already
advanced a day's march towards the capital.[39]

Meanwhile the Dowager-Princesse de Conde had hastened to inform her son
of the assassination of the King, and to urge his instant return to the
capital; a summons to which he replied by forwarding letters of
condolence both to the King and the Regent, containing the most earnest
assurances of his loyalty and devotion alike to their personal interests
and to those of the nation; and declaring that he only awaited their
commands to return to Court, in order to serve them in any manner which
they might see fit to suggest.

The Comte de Soissons, who had left Paris only a few days before the
coronation of the Queen, for the reason elsewhere stated, and who had
retired to his estate near Chartres, was invited by a messenger
despatched by Marie to return without delay to the capital, where the
interests of the state required his presence. This command he prepared
to obey with alacrity; but his zeal was greatly damped when, on arriving
at St. Cloud, he ascertained that the Queen had been already recognized
by the Parliament as Regent of the kingdom, and that her dignity had
been publicly confirmed by the young sovereign. On first receiving this
intelligence his rage was without bounds; he even questioned the
legality of an arrangement of this description made without his
sanction, he being, during the absence of the Prince de Conde, the first
subject in France after the Queen herself; and then, moderating the
violence of his expressions, he complained that by the precipitation of
the Parliament, he had been deprived of the privilege of signifying his
assent to the nomination, as he had previously pledged himself to do. He
next questioned the right of the Parliament to interfere in so important
a measure; declaring that their fiat was null and void, as the Chambers
had no authority to organize a government, and still less to appoint a
regency, which could only be effectively done by a royal testament, a
declaration made before death, or by an assembly of the States-General.
He, moreover, insisted that the case was without precedent; that the
power of the Parliament was restricted to the administration of justice;
and that while it was desirable that the mothers of princes, heirs to
the throne, should be entrusted with the care of their education, the
government of the country belonged by right to the Princes of the Blood,
to the exclusion of all other claimants.[40]

Every effort was made to calm his anger; and it is probable that the
representations of his personal friends convinced him of the impolicy of
further opposition; although he so long delayed his arrival in the
capital that he could only explain his tardiness by declaring that the
sudden intelligence of the King's murder had so seriously affected his
health that he was unable to obey the summons of the Queen until the
16th of May, when he was met at the gate of the city by the Duc
d'Epernon, at the head of a large body of the nobility.

The pomp in which he reached Paris, however, sufficed to prove that he
was totally unprepared for the existing posture of affairs, and that he
had taken every precaution to enforce his claims, should he find the
public mind disposed to admit them. His retinue consisted of three
hundred horse, and he travelled with all the pretensions of royalty. A
few words, nevertheless, sufficed to dispel the illusion under which he
laboured, and once convinced that the supreme authority of the Queen had
been both recognized and ratified, he had no other alternative save to
offer his submission; which he did, moreover, with so good a grace that
Marie bestowed upon him, in token of welcome, the government of
Normandy, which had hitherto been held by the Dauphin; while a short
time subsequently, when he manifested fresh symptoms of discontent, the
Duc de Bouillon was instructed to inquire by what means he could be
conciliated; upon which he demanded a pension of fifty thousand livres,
the reversion of the government of Dauphiny for his son, who had not at
that time attained his fifth year, and the sum of two hundred thousand
crowns with which to pay a debt to the Duke of Savoy, contracted on the
duchy of Moncalieri belonging to his wife. These exorbitant claims were
at once admitted, and M. de Soissons forthwith declared himself the firm
ally of the Queen.[41]

All the cities and provinces of the kingdom hastened to despatch
deputations to the capital, to present their assurances of respectful
homage to the young sovereign, and to recognize the regency of his
mother; and these were shortly afterwards succeeded by the
plenipotentiaries and envoys of the different European states, whose
condolences and congratulations were graciously acknowledged by Marie
and her ministers in the name of the new monarch.

On the 18th of the month the regicide Ravaillac was put upon his trial,
during which he exhibited a stoical indifference, that filled his judges
with astonishment. Far from seeking to evade the penalty of his crime,
he admitted it with a calmness and composure perfectly unshaken; and on
the 27th his sentence was pronounced and executed with such barbarity
that we shall avoid the detail.

On the following day the Duc de Bouillon arrived in Paris, and proceeded
directly to the palace to kiss the hand of the Queen-Regent and take the
oath of fidelity to the King, by both of whom he was warmly welcomed;
Marie being anxious to rally about her all the high nobility, especially
such as had formerly exhibited symptoms of discontent. M. de Bouillon
had not, however, been long in the capital when a quarrel arose between
himself and the Duc de Sully, whom he accused of arrogance and
presumption, reminding him that he had not always been in the exalted
position which he then occupied, while as regarded himself, he was born
to higher fortunes than he had yet attained. The anger of both parties
was so much excited during the interview, that great apprehensions were
entertained of the result of so serious a misunderstanding; nor was it
until the Due de Guise had exerted all his influence with both parties
that a partial reconciliation took place, which was subsequently
completed through the good sense of the two nobles themselves, who in
their cooler moments reflected upon the injury which must accrue alike
to the national interests and to those of the reformed religion, of
which they both were adherents, should they permit their private
feelings to interfere with their public duties.

On the second day after the interment of the King the Regent proceeded
in state to Notre-Dame, in order to assist at a solemn service which she
had caused to be celebrated for the repose of his soul. The _cortege_
consisted of seven coaches, containing herself, the Princesses of the
Blood, the Duchesses, and other great ladies of her household, under a
strong escort of guards and harquebusiers, commanded by M. de la
Chataigneraie. All the principal nobility, with the exception of the
Comte de Soissons, attended by their several retainers, were already
mounted when she descended to the court of the palace, and were
awaiting her without the gates, when considerable excitement was created
by the Duc d'Epernon, who, detaching himself from his followers, rode to
the side of her carriage. As no Prince of the Blood had ever assumed
this privilege, not even the Guises, lofty as were their pretensions, a
general murmur arose among the assembled nobles; but M. d'Epernon,
regardless of this demonstration of displeasure, and aware that he had
already obtained considerable influence over the mind of the Queen,
retained his position, to the extreme indignation of the other

The Regent and her retinue first proceeded to the Archbishop's palace,
whence the procession was formed to the cathedral. At its head walked
the Princes of the Blood then present at the Court, and the principal
nobles, with the exception of the Prince de Conti and the Comte de
Soissons, who supported the Queen, whom they upheld by each placing a
hand beneath her arms. The Dowager Princess of Conde, the Princesse de
Conti, and the Comtesse de Soissons bore her mourning train, which was
seven French ells in length; and after them came Madame and the ex-Queen
Marguerite, both habited in the deepest black; who were in their turn
followed by all the great ladies of the Court and household.[43] At the
conclusion of the service, the Regent returned to the Louvre; and in the
afternoon, attended as she had been on the previous occasion, she
proceeded to perform her devotions in the church of St. Victor, amid
the respectful salutations of the assembled populace.

The grief of the citizens still continued unabated, but it was apparent
that a struggle for pre-eminence had already commenced among the higher
class. The Regent, whose affliction was as brief as it had been violent,
seemed suddenly endowed with a new nature. Her ambition grew with her
responsibility, and instead of participating in political questions as
she had previously done with undisguised reluctance, she entered eagerly
into public affairs, and sought earnestly to establish her authority; an
attempt in which she was seconded by the principal ministers of state,
who at once felt that by supporting her power they were consolidating
their own.

M. de Conde, the first Prince of the Blood, was still in Italy; his
brother the Prince de Conti, being totally deaf and partially dumb, was
incapable of government; the Comte de Soissons was at variance with
both; and the Duc de Nevers was commanding the army in Champagne, until
he should be superseded by the arrival of the King in person, according
to the arrangement made by that unhappy monarch before the departure of
the troops from France; while the Prince de Joinville, who, it may be
remembered, had been banished from the Court for his intrigue with
Madame de Verneuil, and who had been travelling in England and Germany,
and afterwards retired to Lorraine until his brother the Duc de Guise
should be enabled to procure his recall, was also absent. To each and
all of these Princes Marie, who at once felt the necessity of their
immediate presence in order to give dignity and stability to her
position, hastened to forward messengers to request their instant
return; a summons which was promptly obeyed by the Duc de Nevers and all
the principal officers under his command, as well as by M. de Joinville,
who also received a pressing letter from the Duc de Guise, enjoining him
to profit without delay by so admirable an opportunity of regaining his
forfeited favour. But whatever were the haste with which all endeavoured
to reach the Court, it still required time for them to do so;[44] and
meanwhile the other great nobles were anxious to shake off the control
to which they had been subjected during the previous reign. Individual
hatred came to the assistance of personal ambition, and those whose
talent enabled them to acquire influence at Court began to exercise it
no less zealously in the ruin of others than in their own

The Prince de Conde had no sooner forwarded to the Queen the letter to
which allusion has been already made, than he received a pressing
invitation to return to France, for which purpose he prepared to leave
Milan; a step so obnoxious to Spain that the Conde de Fuentes spared no
pains in dissuading him from its adoption. He represented in earnest
terms the exceptional position of the Prince, whose rank as the first
subject of the realm justified him in aspiring to a throne filled by a
mere boy, who could be considered only as a puppet in the hands of an
ambitious woman; following up his arguments by an offer of efficient aid
from his own monarch to enable M. de Conde to enforce his pretensions;
and while he was thus endeavouring to shake the loyalty of his guest,
the Spanish Ambassador at the Court of Rome was engaged with equal zeal
in seeking to impress the necessity of the same policy upon Paul V. Both
were, however, destined to fail in their efforts, the Sovereign-Pontiff
declining to interfere in so extreme a case, and the Prince resolutely
refusing to adopt the course thus treacherously suggested.

At Brussels the persecution was renewed by the Spanish minister,
seconded by the Papal Nuncio, Cardinal Bentivoglio,[46] whose zeal for
the interests of Spain caused him to overlook the wishes of the Pope.
All, however, proved unavailing; and the Prince, after a brief sojourn
in the Belgian capital, finally departed for Paris; whither his wife had
previously repaired, accompanied by her step-sister the Comtesse
d'Auvergne, and where she had been warmly and honourably welcomed by the

Meanwhile, it having been considered advisable that the King should
make a declaration on the Edicts of Pacification, it became previously
necessary to form a council, under whose advice the Queen-Regent might
proceed to act. When preparing to quit France, Henri IV had drawn up a
list of fifteen persons whom he had selected for this purpose, and had
decided that every question should be determined by a majority of votes,
the Queen herself commanding only one vote; the death of the King had,
however, unfortunately tended to render the execution of his purpose
impossible, all the Princes and great officers of the Crown asserting
their right to admission, and resolutely maintaining their claim.

The Comte de Soissons urged his privilege of birth, and haughtily
declined to advance any other plea; while the Connetable de Montmorency
loudly declared that no council could legally be formed from which he
was excluded; and the Cardinal de Joyeuse maintained the same argument.
As regarded the Guises, who affected at this juncture a perfect equality
with the house of Bourbon, their eagerness to hold office defeated its
own object, the Duc de Mayenne and the Duc de Guise equally declaring
their right to assist in the government of the kingdom; while it was
considered as incompatible with the interests of the Crown that two
members of the same family should be admitted into so important an
assembly. The Duc de Nevers, who disputed precedency with the Guises,
also came forward as a candidate; while the Ducs de Bouillon and
d'Epernon, who were at open feud, and each ambitious of power,
heightened the difficulty by arrogantly asserting their personal claims.
To receive both was impossible, as from their known enmity nothing but
opposition could be anticipated; and thus, upon the threshold of her
reign, Marie de Medicis found herself trammelled by the very individuals
from whom she had hoped for assistance and support.

To select between the two last-mentioned nobles was difficult as well as
dangerous; the position of M. d'Epernon as colonel-general of the
infantry, and his immense possessions, rendering him a formidable
adversary; while the Duc de Bouillon was still more powerful from his
occupation of Sedan, his intelligence with foreign states, and his
influence over his co-religionists. Moreover, Marie was no longer in a
position to oppose the pretensions of the Duc d'Epernon, even had she
felt it expedient to do so; the unlimited confidence which she had
reposed in him since the death of her royal consort having invested him
with a factitious importance, by which he was enabled to secure a strong
party in his favour upon every question in which he was personally
interested. She had assigned to his use a suite of apartments in the
Louvre, declaring that his continual presence and advice were essential
to her; and, in addition to this signal favour, she communicated to him
the contents of all the despatches which she received, and followed his
advice upon all matters of state as implicitly as though she considered
it to be unanswerable.

His credit at Court was also greatly increased by the Comte de Soissons,
who, having ascertained the extent of his favour with the Regent, spared
no pains to secure his friendship before the arrival of the Prince de

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