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

Part 4 out of 7

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Prince de Conde; and it was moreover composed of the Ducs de Nevers, de
Mayenne, and de Longueville, the Marechal de Bouillon, and the Marquis
d'Ancre. By this combination of rank, influence, and favour, the Guises,
the Duc d'Epernon, and their adherents saw themselves thrown into the
background, and threatened with utter annihilation as a political party.
The Connetable de Montmorency, who believed the power of the Guises to
be firmly established, and who had consequently allied himself to their
interests, was absent in Languedoc, of which province he was governor;
while the Grand Equerry, M. de Bellegarde, who was also their friend,
was sojourning in Burgundy; and thus they found themselves exposed,
almost without support, to the evil offices of the rival faction. The
Queen openly espoused the cause of M. de Conde and his party, while the
ministers soon saw themselves utterly deprived of both influence and
credit; and at length, seriously alarmed by the posture of affairs, the
Duc de Guise wrote to entreat M. de Bellegarde to return with all speed
to Paris, in order to assist him in his endeavour to overthrow the
rapidly-growing power of their mutual adversaries. M. le Grand was
preparing to comply with this request, when an order to the same effect
reached him from the Regent, which tended to hasten his departure; but
on arriving at Sens he was met by one of his friends, who warned him not
to trust himself in the capital, as he had only been recalled in order
that he might either be bribed or frightened into the resignation of
his government, of which the Marquis d'Ancre had undertaken to effect
the transfer to the Duc de Mayenne.

In consequence of this intimation M. le Grand, instead of appearing at
Court in compliance with the royal mandate, returned in all haste to
Languedoc, and the Duc de Guise found himself deprived of his
anticipated assistance.[157] Bellegarde himself, who attributed this
attempt to deprive him of his government to the Baron de Luz--who
through the influence of Bassompierre had been reinstated in the favour
of the Queen, and had consequently abandoned the faction of the Guises,
of whose projects and designs he was cognizant, in order to espouse the
interests and to serve the ambition of the Marquis d'Ancre--vowed
vengeance against the recreant baron, and complained bitterly to his
friends of the insult to which he had been subjected through this
unworthy agency.

The Guises, already apprehensive of the consequences which might accrue
to themselves from the defection of M. de Luz, were only too ready to
sympathize with the indignant Duke, and unfortunately for all parties
they did not confine their sympathy to mere words. Ever prompt and
reckless, they at once resolved to revenge themselves upon their common
enemy; nor was it long ere they carried their fatal determination
into effect.


[131] D'Estrees, _Mem_. p. 394.

[132] Bassompierre, _Mem_. p. 78.

[133] Rambure, MS. _Mem_. vol. vi. p. 81.

[134] Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mere et du Fils_, vol. i. pp. 175-177.

[135] Siri, _Mem. Rec_. vol. ii. pp. 607-612.

[136] Le Vassor, vol. i. p. 127.

[137] Henri de Lorraine, Due d'Aiguillon, who had succeeded to the title
of his late father.

[138] Siri, _Mem. Rec._ vol. ii. pp. 618-620.

[139] Mezeray, vol. xi. pp. 30, 31.

[140] Siri, _Mem. Rec_. vol. ii. pp. 640-642.

[141] Charles de Longueval, Comte de Buquoy, was so eminently
distinguished for his military talents that Philip III of Spain and the
Emperor Ferdinand II confided to him the command of their joint armies
in 1619. He completely defeated the forces of the malcontents in
Bohemia; and then marched upon Hungary, which had just elected
Bethlem-Gabor as its sovereign. In 1621 he overcame the troops of the
Magyar monarch, which were entirely routed; but was killed the same year
in a skirmish with a small party of the enemy.

[142] Don Rodrigo Calderon was a statesman rendered famous by his
extraordinary elevation and his equally remarkable reverses. Born at
Antwerp, the son of a Spanish trooper and a Flemish woman of low
extraction, his talents ultimately raised him to the rank of confidant
and favourite of the Duque de Lerma, prime minister of Philip III,
through whose influence he subsequently became Conde d'Oliva, Marques de
Siete-Iglesias, and secretary of state. In 1618 the disgrace of his
patron involved his own ruin. Accused of having poisoned the Queen
Marguerite, he was (in 1619) committed to a dungeon, and two years
afterwards was sacrificed by the Conde-Duque d'Olivares to the public
hatred against the Duque de Lerma. He perished upon the scaffold
in 1621.

[143] Bassompierre, _Mem_. pp. 78, 79.

[144] Francois Paris de Lorraine, Chevalier de Guise.

[145] Le Vassor, vol. i. p. 139.

[146] _Mem. du Duc de Rohan_, book i. _Vie de Du Plessis-Mornay_, book

[147] Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 142-152. Mezeray, vol. xi. pp. 36-38.
D'Estrees, _Mem_. pp. 294-298. Matthieu, _Hist. des Derniers Troubles_,
book iii. pp. 473, 474.

[148] Henri, Duc de Luxembourg-Piney, was a descendant of the celebrated
Comte de Saint-Pol, and the last male representative of his family. He
died in 1616, leaving one daughter, Marguerite Catherine de Luxembourg,
who married the Comte Charles Henri de Clermont-Tonnerre, and became the
mother of Madeleine, wife of Francois de Montmorency, commonly known in
history as the Marechal de Luxembourg.

[149] Pierre de Gondy, Bishop of Langres, and subsequently first
Archbishop of Paris, who was created a Cardinal by Sixtus V in 1587. He
died in the French capital in 1616, in his eighty-fourth year.

[150] Siri, _Mem. Rec_. vol. ii. pp. 697-700.

[151] Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 153, 154. _Mercure Francais_, 1612.

[152] Cosmo II, Grand Duke of Tuscany, succeeded his father Ferdinand in
1609. He was a Prince of liberal and peaceful sentiments, and greatly
endeared himself to his subjects. He married Marie Madeleine,
Archduchess of Austria, sister of the Queen of Spain and the Duchess of
Savoy; and died in 1621, leaving his duchy to his elder son,
Ferdinand II.

[153] Siri, _Mem. Rec_. vol. ii. pp. 647-654.

[154] Mezeray, vol. xi. pp. 39, 40. Le Vassor, vol. i. p. 160.
D'Estrees, _Mem_. p. 398.

[155] Matthieu, _Hist. des Derniers Troubles_, book iii. p. 474.

[156] Bassompierre, _Mem_. p. 80.

[157] Le Vassor, vol. i. p. 161. Bassompierre, _Mem_. p. 80.



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.

The state of France at the commencement of the year 1613 was precarious
in the extreme. As yet no intestine war had broken out, but there
existed a sullen undercurrent of discontent and disaffection which
threatened, like the sound of distant thunder, to herald an approaching
storm. The Court was, as we have shown, the focus of anarchy and
confusion; the power and resources of the great nobles had steadily
increased since the death of Henri IV, and had they only been united
among themselves, the authority of Marie de Medicis must have been set
at nought, and the throne of the boy-King have tottered to its base. The
provinces were, in many instances, in open opposition to the Government;
the ministers indignant at the disrespect shown alike to their persons
and to their functions; the Parliament jealous of the encroachments on
its privileges; the citizens outraged by the lavish magnificence, and
indignant at the insolent assumption of the nobility; and the people
irritated and impoverished by the constant exactions to which they were
subjected in order to supply the exigencies of the state.

Such was the condition of a kingdom dependent for its prosperity upon
the rule of a favourite-ridden woman, and a helpless child.

We have already stated the anxiety of the Guises to revenge themselves
upon M. de Luz; and we have now to relate the tragedy which supervened
upon this resolution. It appears to be the common fate of all favourites
to accelerate their own ruin by personal imprudence; nor was M. de Luz
destined to prove an exception. His life had been a varied one; but the
spirit of intrigue and enterprise with which he was endowed had enabled
him to bid defiance to adverse fortune, and to struggle successfully
against every reverse. Patient under disappointment because strong in
his confidence of future compensation, he was less cautious in his more
prosperous moments; and in one of these he was unhappy enough to afford
a pretext for the violence of the enemies who had vowed his ruin.

Disregarding the presence of the Chevalier de Guise, or perhaps
unconscious of his propinquity, De Luz, shortly after the return of the
Duc de Bellegarde to Languedoc, was relating to a group of nobles, who
were lounging away the time in the great gallery of the Louvre while
awaiting the appearance of the King, the circumstances which preceded
the assassination of the Duc de Guise at Blois; boasting that he was
present with the Marechal de Brissac when Henri III decided upon the
murder, and had even prevented the former from intimating his danger to
the intended victim. The Chevalier, who was young, impetuous, and, like
all the members of his house, utterly careless of the consequences of
his actions, would have felt himself justified in demanding satisfaction
of M. de Luz simply for the insult offered to his brothers and himself
by his abrupt and unscrupulous abandonment of their interests, and the
affront given to their friend and ally the Duc de Bellegarde; but when
to these real or imagined injuries was superadded the fact that he had
publicly boasted of the share which he had gratuitously and wantonly
taken in the murder of his father, no wonder that the fiery young man,
disregarding alike the royal edicts against duelling and the dictates of
humanity, at once resolved to silence the vauntings of the
quasi-assassin, or to perish in the attempt.

At the moment in which he volunteered the fatal communication De Luz was
protected by the roof that covered him. It was certain death to any
individual, whatever might be his rank, who drew a hostile weapon within
the precincts of the royal palace; and De Guise was aware that by such
an act of imprudence he might forfeit all hope of vengeance. He
affected, consequently, not to have overheard the imprudent admission of
the baron, and controlled the impulse which would have led him to fell
him as he stood; but his thirst of vengeance only became the more
unquenchable by delay, and he watched the movements of his destined
victim with an assiduity which soon enabled him to slake it.

On the 5th of January, at mid-day, his carriage encountered that of M.
de Luz in the Rue St. Honore, when he immediately summoned him to alight
and defend himself; and at the second pass stretched him lifeless at his

The Regent, who since she had pardoned M. de Luz had found him a most
zealous and efficient adherent, was angered beyond measure, not only at
the wilful disregard of the royal authority exhibited by the Chevalier,
but also at the loss of an active and useful agent; and the intelligence
had no sooner reached her than, rising from her dinner, which she had
just commenced when the news was brought, she burst into tears, and
retired to her closet. When she had become somewhat more calm she
assembled the Council, by which she was advised to refer the matter to
the Parliament; but while the subject was under deliberation tidings
reached the Louvre that a numerous body of nobles had assembled at the
hotel of the Duc de Guise, who was himself about to set forth for the
palace attended by a strong party of his friends. Alarmed at the
prospect of such a demonstration, which bore the semblance of an
enforcement of impunity rather than of a deprecation of justice, the
Queen was entreated by those around her to despatch M. de Chateauvieux
to the residence of the Duc de Guise, to forbid his approach to the
royal presence until formally summoned to appear; and to command in her
name that all the persons who had assembled under his roof should
immediately retire.

The Regent followed this advice, and on his return to the palace M. de
Chateauvieux reported that he had rigidly performed his duty; that the
Duke had abandoned his intention of demanding an audience of her
Majesty; and that although many of those by whom he was surrounded had
originally refused to obey her commands, they had ultimately been
induced to do so by the persuasions of M. de Guise himself, who
represented the propriety of their compliance with her will; with the
sole exception of M. de la Rochefoucauld[159] who had declined to quit
the hotel.

The Queen immediately issued an order for his exile from the Court,
which was communicated to him upon the instant; nor was her indignation
towards the Duc de Guise appeased, even upon learning that he had
evinced the greatest respect for her authority, and the most perfect
submission to her will; or that when, after his encounter with M. de
Luz, the Chevalier had presented himself at his hotel and claimed his
protection, he had refused to receive him, or in any way to countenance
the crime of which he had been guilty.

The displeasure of the Regent was, moreover, greatly excited by the
Chancellor, who had evinced no disposition to proceed against M. de
Guise; and she accordingly declared her determination to deprive him of
the seals, and to bestow them upon some individual who would perform his
duty more efficiently. For this purpose she secretly summoned the Prince
de Conde, the Duc de Bouillon, and the Marquis d'Ancre to the Louvre,
the whole of whom approved her intention; and it was arranged that M. de
Conde should demand the seals, and at the same time command the
Chancellor in the name of their Majesties to retire to one of his
estates. It was, moreover, resolved that Marie should name a day when
she would dine at the hotel of Zamet, and that on her way she should
enter the Bastille and cause the arrest of the Duc d'Epernon, who had
only a week previously returned to Court, after a serious illness. The
accomplishment of these hasty measures was, however, frustrated by the
ambition of the Marquis d'Ancre, who was desirous of replacing the
Chancellor by some creature of his own, while his wife was equally
anxious that the vacant dignity should be conferred upon a person who
was obnoxious to the Duc de Bouillon; and as it was necessary that in
order to effect their purpose they should each propose the same
individual, so much time was lost that Marie had leisure to reconsider
her intention, and to abandon it.[160]

The Marquis d'Ancre had, however, aggravated her displeasure against M.
de Guise by introducing to her presence the son of the murdered man, who
threw himself at her feet, weeping bitterly, and demanding justice.

The woman-heart of Marie de Medicis was deeply moved; and while her
anger increased against the Guises, her sympathy for the sufferer before
her melted her to tears. Bidding him take comfort, she promised all he
asked; and before he withdrew conferred upon him the offices and
pensions of his father, assuring him that he might thenceforward rely
upon her protection.

[Illustration: Marshal Bassompierre.]

At the close of a few days Bassompierre, who was First Gentleman of the
Chamber to the Regent, and greatly in her confidence; and who was
anxious to reinstate the Duc de Guise in her favour, on account of his
attachment to the Princesse de Conti,[161] ventured to impress upon his
royal mistress, not only the inexpediency of utterly estranging from her
interests so powerful a family, but also the policy of recognizing with
indulgence and pardon the ready obedience and loyalty of the Duke, who
had not scrupled to sacrifice the safety of a brother to whom he was
tenderly attached to his sense of duty towards herself. Marie suffered
him to proceed for some time in silence; but at length his zeal was
rewarded by her consent to receive M. de Guise, and to listen to his
offered justification, provided he came to the Louvre at nightfall,
and alone.

After expressing his deep sense of this concession Bassompierre hastened
to communicate his success to the Duke, who lost no time in presenting
himself before his offended mistress; and so ably did he plead his
cause, replacing his accustomed haughtiness and impetuosity by a
demeanour at once respectful and submissive, that Marie de Medicis,
whose attachment to his house had long been notorious, declared herself
satisfied, and assured him that thenceforward she should hold him
exonerated from any participation in the crime of his brother. Upon one
point, however, the Regent remained firm; and although the Duke
earnestly implored the recall of M. de la Rochefoucauld, he was met by
so decided a refusal that he was compelled to abandon all immediate hope
of success. He had, nevertheless, save in this respect, every reason to
congratulate himself upon his reception; and the affair would probably
have elicited no further consequences, had not the Duchess his mother,
whose pride of birth, and natural arrogance, led her to believe herself
inferior to no crowned head in Europe, and who ill-brooked the authority
of one whom she was accustomed to consider as a mere petty Princess,
indebted to circumstances for her temporary position of command,
resolved to demand an interview upon the same subject; which having been
accorded by the Regent, renewed with greater violence than ever the
anger of Marie, who, justly irritated at finding herself defied and
braved by one of her own subjects, dismissed the imprudent Duchess with
so much harshness that the position of the offending parties became more
onerous than before, and the interference of Bassompierre was rendered
worse than useless.

Disconcerted by this unexpected disappointment, M. de Guise, aware that
no influence less than that possessed by the Marquis d'Ancre could any
longer avail him, compelled himself to overcome his pride sufficiently
to entreat the good offices of the astute Italian; who, eager to seize
so favourable an opportunity of strengthening the faction of the Princes
of the Blood, referred him to M. de Conde as the only individual likely
to accomplish his reconciliation with the indignant Queen, and the
rather as the Duc d'Epernon declared himself ready to second the

This advice was eagerly adopted by M. de Guise; who found little
difficulty in effecting his object, the Princes having no sooner
discovered that he had lost the favour of the Queen than they became
anxious to attach him to their own interests; and so rapidly did this
new alliance ripen that, with his usual impetuous recklessness, the
young Duke ere long requested Bassompierre never again to mention the
recall of M. de la Rochefoucauld to the Regent, as he should shortly
accomplish it through the medium of the Prince de Conde; adding that
thenceforward their mutual understanding would be so perfect that on the
next occasion of the Queen's displeasure against himself, she would find
no rod with which to chastise him.[163]

The influence of M. de Conde at this precise period was indeed so great
as almost to justify the confidence of his new ally; but it was destined
to be rapidly undermined by his own imprudence. He had long coveted the
command of the Chateau Trompette, of which, although it was situated in
the principal city of his government, he was not in possession; and
believing that the Regent would not venture, under existing
circumstances, to refuse to him what he had taught himself to consider
as a right, he induced the Ducs de Mayenne and d'Epernon and the Marquis
d'Ancre to make the demand in his name. His friends zealously obeyed his
bidding, and urged the Queen to this, as they declared, unimportant
concession; reminding her that as M. de Conde had devoted himself to her
cause, he merited every favour which she could bestow upon him without
danger to the state.

Marie de Medicis was not, however, prepared to regard this new demand
upon her indulgence in so unimportant a light. She apprehended, and not
without reason, that the Princes were endeavouring to sap the
foundations of her authority, by possessing themselves of the fortresses
of the Crown; and it was consequently with a heightened colour that,
having heard the arguments addressed to her, she briefly replied that
she would give the subject her consideration. The three nobles, anxious
for the success of their mission, were not, however, to be so easily
discouraged; and they consequently proceeded to impress upon her Majesty
the impolicy of a delay which could not fail to wound the susceptibility
of the Prince; but the patience of Marie was not proof against this
pertinacity, and again declaring that she should take time to consider
the subject, she rose from her seat and withdrew to her private closet,
still closely followed by the applicants, her eyes flashing with anger
as she discovered that they were even yet resolved to persecute her with
their entreaties. Soon, however, she recovered her self-possession; and
turning with a smile towards her obnoxious guests, she said, as
playfully as though no cause of annoyance were coupled with their
presence: "I have just learnt a new gallantry of which Bassompierre has
been the hero; he did not know that it would reach my ears, nor will he
be well pleased to find that I have heard of it."

"I trust that your Majesty will inform him of the discovery," said the
Duc de Nevers, instantly adding: "Approach, M. de Bassompierre; the
Queen has something to confide to you."

"No, no," replied Marie, in the same tone of banter which she had so
suddenly assumed, "I shall not tell him one word of the matter."

At once surprised and alarmed, the Marquis immediately approached the
Regent, and entreated her to let him hear the intelligence which she had
to communicate; and he had no sooner done so than Marie, whose
subterfuge had succeeded, moved to a distant window, and motioned to him
to follow her. When she had reached the recess, she still continued to
stand with her back towards the two Dukes; and as Bassompierre gained
her side, she said in a hasty whisper: "I know nothing of your
intrigues; but tell me, has M. de Guise ceased to urge you to effect
the return of La Rochefoucauld?"

"Only three days ago, Madame, he bade me desist from importuning your
Majesty upon the subject, as the Prince de Conde had promised him that
it should be shortly accomplished through his own means; adding,
moreover, that he could scarcely be blamed for adopting the interests of
the Princes, since your own creature, M. d'Ancre, had done the same."

As Bassompierre spoke warm tears gushed from the eyes of the Queen.
"Yes," she exclaimed bitterly; "the very men who induced me to oppose
the Princes and to offend the ministers are now endeavouring to profit
by my unsupported position, to undermine my authority, and to ruin my
credit with the people. You heard how insolently they demanded a royal
fortress for their leader; and I am well aware that should I grant their
request it would only expose me to the necessity of making new

"Do not distress yourself, Madame," replied the skilful courtier, eager
to avail himself of so favourable an opportunity of serving his friends;
"you can always command the means of recalling them to their allegiance;
and, did I dare to proffer a counsel to your Majesty, I would suggest
that you should employ them."

"We will talk no more at present," said Marie; "return here when I have
risen from table, and by that time I shall have had leisure to reflect
upon your advice."

She then advanced once more to the centre of the apartment, and
commenced a trivial conversation, which she maintained until the
departure of the two Dukes, thus effectually preventing all recurrence
to the obnoxious subject; but she was not destined to escape so readily
as she had hoped from this new persecution. Concini and his wife had
alike pledged themselves to M. de Conde that they would support his
pretensions with all their influence, and their vanity was consequently
enlisted in the cause as much as their interests. The Queen-mother,
therefore, no sooner found herself alone with Leonora than the subject
was renewed; and that with so much pertinacious resolution that the
dignity of the Regent took alarm, and she expressed herself with
considerable bitterness to the presumptuous favourite. At this crisis
Concini entered the apartment; and with as little caution as his wife
had previously exhibited, persisted in urging upon his harassed mistress
the same unpalatable advice; until, utterly wearied, and deeply
indignant at an interference which exceeded all the bounds of courtesy
and respect, Marie commanded them both to quit her presence, and gave
instant orders that they should not again be admitted until she had
signified her pleasure to that effect.

As the officers of the household were about to marshal the Regent to the
mid-day meal, Bassompierre encountered the Duc de Guise, of whom he
immediately inquired if he had abandoned the cause of the unfortunate La
Rochefoucauld, who would inevitably die of _ennui_, should he be long
exiled from the gaieties of the Court.

"No, no," vehemently replied the Duke, "he shall return to share them;
nor will I be under an obligation to the Queen for his reappearance. I
have served her with zeal, and have been repaid by coldness and neglect.
I have therefore made new interests, and now recognize no leader but M.
de Conde, no coadjutors but his cabal; nor will I abandon them although
I adopted their policy with reluctance; a determination, Monsieur," he
added pointedly, "which you at least will not condemn, as you are a
member of the same party."

"Your Lordship is partially in error," said Bassompierre gaily. "I am,
it is true, the very humble servant of all such individuals as are
favoured by the Prince, but I do not recognize them as a political body.
I am the devoted adherent of their Majesties, and I know no other
masters. Pardon me, moreover, if I venture to say that you have
yourself, M. le Duc, been very ill-advised. You were formerly the leader
of your own faction, since it would appear that we are to talk of
factions; you were dependent upon no one, and responsible only to
yourself for your actions and opinions; and now you have allied your
fortunes to those of persons by whom you will be subjected to a thousand
indignities and annoyances when they no longer require your support.
How, then, do you imagine that you will be able to brook such treatment,
when you suffer yourself to be angered and alienated by a cold word from
the Regent? You should remember that your brother killed M. de Luz
almost under her eyes, and in defiance of a stringent edict; and that
you could scarcely anticipate the immediate recall of one of the
officers of the King's household who had peremptorily refused to obey
the royal command by which he was enjoined to leave your hotel."

"Well, well," exclaimed the Duke impatiently, "the Queen will one day
discover her error in having ventured to offer me a slight in order to
gratify those by whom she suffers herself to be governed. She will ere
long seek my friendship, but I shall either refuse to listen or compel
her to purchase it at a high price."

The Regent had no sooner returned to her closet than, in obedience to
her orders, Bassompierre again presented himself; and as soon as she had
dismissed her attendants she at once entered upon the subject that
occupied her thoughts. "Bestein," she said, addressing the Marquis by
the name which she usually applied to him during their confidential
interviews, "this wretched affair has totally unnerved me. I was unable
to swallow any food, and unless my mind is relieved at once I shall go
mad. You must reconcile me to the Duc de Guise at any price. Offer
him a hundred thousand crowns for himself, the commission of
Lieutenant-General of Provence for his brother, and the reversion of the
Abbey of St. Germain for the Princesse de Conti. In one word, promise
him what you please, and I will consent, provided you annihilate this
cabal and detach him from the interests of the Princes."

"Madame," replied Bassompierre with a gay smile, "you have filled my
hands so amply that I am sure of making a successful bargain. But have I
no similar commission with regard to M. d'Epernon?"

"Ah, would that I could hope so much," said Marie gloomily; "but I have
wounded his vanity, and he never forgives."

"Seldom, perhaps, Madame," was the ready rejoinder of the shrewd
courtier, "his enemies, but readily his rulers."

"Endeavour then," exclaimed the Queen eagerly, "to effect this also,
Bestein; remind him of all that I have already done, both for himself
and his children, and assure him that I have never lost the inclination
to serve him. If any one can accomplish so desirable an object, you are
the person."

Bassompierre lost no time in opening the important negotiation with
which he was entrusted; and the wiliness with which he first enlisted
the ambition and cupidity of the females of the family presents a
curious picture of the manners of the time. His success could not long
remain doubtful at a period when the allegiance of the highest nobles of
the land was bought and sold like the most common merchandise; and
accordingly, although, as he informs us, the Duc de Guise for a time
indulged in his ordinary extravagance of speech, he gradually yielded,
and--as a natural consequence--received the price of his venal

On this occasion, however, M. d'Epernon, whose birth was far inferior
to that of his friend, displayed a higher sense of what was due to
himself and to his rank. "In matters of this importance," he said
proudly, as Bassompierre urged him once more to espouse the interests of
the Regent, and hinted at the benefit likely to accrue to himself from
his compliance with her wishes, "I never condescend to bargain.
Decisions of real weight should be formed frankly and disinterestedly. I
have no wish to capitulate with my sovereign. Offer me no bribe, for I
should consider it only as an insult. Any service which I can render to
the Queen has been already amply recompensed, and I should be unworthy
alike of the name I bear and of the offices I hold did I place my
loyalty at a price. I have only one favour to request of her Majesty
before I again devote myself to her interests, and that is that she will
henceforward exhibit more firmness, and attach a greater value to those
who have served her with fidelity and zeal. This conceded, I am ready to
attend her pleasure whenever she may see fit to summon me to her

The exultation of Marie de Medicis at the happy termination of his
mission rendered her profuse in her expressions of gratitude to
Bassompierre, which she terminated by the assurance that he should be
appointed First Lord of the Bedchamber to the young King, even should
she, as she declared, be compelled to purchase the post from her own
private funds; and these preliminaries arranged, on the following
morning, at nine o'clock, the two Dukes proceeded to pay their respects
to her Majesty, by whom they were most graciously received, and who
commanded that a seat should be placed for M. d'Epernon, whose recovery
from a severe illness was, as we have already stated, only recent. The
interview was a long one, and no allusion was made on either side to the
late defection of the distinguished guests, who, on rising to retire,
were invited by the Queen to attend her to the theatre that evening; and
they had no sooner expressed their acknowledgments than she gave orders
to the captain of her guard to have benches prepared for both the Duc
d'Epernon and M. Zamet, by whom he was to be accompanied.

This extraordinary favour excited universal comment when the assembled
courtiers perceived that it was not even extended to the Duc de Mayenne,
who was also present at the performance; and Concini, in particular, was
so struck by the sudden change of affairs that he exclaimed
energetically to Bassompierre, beside whom he stood: "_Per Dio!_
Monsieur, I can but laugh over the mutations of this strange world; the
Queen has found a seat for Zamet, and there is none for the Duc de
Mayenne. Place your faith in princes after this!"

Great was the exultation of the courtiers when the disgrace of Concini
became known; but that of the ministers, as they learnt its cause, was
even more profound. One web of the complicated mesh which had been woven
about the spirit of the Queen had at length given way, while her
refusal to accede to the request of the Prince de Conde convinced them
that he was no longer likely to prove so formidable an enemy to
themselves as he had recently been. Acting upon this impression they
hastened to solicit a private audience of the Regent, declaring that
they had matters of great importance to treat with her, which they would
only communicate to herself; and their satisfaction was complete when an
answer was returned appointing an hour for their appearance at the
Louvre, and naming as the place of their reception the private closet of
the Queen.

"Messieurs," said Marie graciously, as they paused upon the threshold of
the apartment to make the accustomed obeisance, "your request shall be
strictly complied with." And then turning to the captain of her guard
she added: "M. de Senneterre, you will suffer no one to enter here, be
he whom he may."

Delighted by the manner of their reception, the ministers at once
entered upon the subject which had induced them to solicit the
interview, and respectfully represented to the Regent the alarm which
they had felt at the dangerous demand advanced by the Prince de Conde,
and the exertions which they had ascertained were to be made by the
Marquis d'Ancre to induce her Majesty's compliance; assuring her that
the surrender of a royal fortress of such importance as the Chateau
Trompette to the control of the first Prince of the Blood could not fail
to prove prejudicial to the interests of the King and the tranquillity
of the nation.

"I am fully aware of the importance of such a concession, Messieurs,"
replied Marie with dignity; "and my resolution is already formed. I have
not yet forgotten that my late lord your sovereign more than once
assured me that had he, while at war with Henri III, gained possession
of the Chateau Trompette, he could have made himself Duc de Guienne. A
fact like this is well calculated to rivet itself upon the memory."

At this moment the usher scratched upon the door, and entered to
announce that the Marquis d'Ancre desired admission to the presence of
the Queen; but the ministers had scarcely had time to exchange one
glance of alarm and annoyance before Marie, with considerable vehemence,
repeated her former order, and the mortified Marquis was compelled
to retire.

Cautiously as the audience had been accorded, the Italian had not failed
to ascertain through his spies the presence of the ministers in the
palace; and aware of his own danger should they regain their legitimate
influence over the mind of the Queen, he unhesitatingly resolved to
brave her interdict in order to counteract the effect of their
representations. He had, however, as we have shown, signally failed; and
with the most gloomy forebodings of impending evil he returned to the
apartments of his wife to report the ill-success of his attempt.

Nor was Concini the only visitor who sought admission to the Queen
during her conference with the ministers. M. de Conde, who was still
unaware of the moral revolution which had been effected, had, as was his
custom, proceeded to the Louvre in order to consult with her on state
affairs; and had been panic-struck when denied admission to her
presence, and informed that she was then closeted with his mortal
enemies. In his consternation he sought a solution of the mystery from
Bassompierre, who, after expressing his utter ignorance of its meaning,
cunningly insinuated that it was, in all probability, an intrigue of the
Marechal de Bouillon, who had effected a reconciliation with the Regent
and her ministers at his expense; a suggestion which appeared so
probable to the Prince that he immediately hurried to the apartments of
Concini to discuss with him the necessary measures for averting this
new danger.

Madame d'Ancre, who was well aware of the extent of her own power over
the spirit of her foster-sister, would not permit herself to regard her
present disgrace as more than a passing shadow, and urged her less
confident husband to persevere in his attempt to regain the good graces
of Marie, assuring him that the Queen would ere long be as anxious for a
reconciliation as himself. Somewhat encouraged by this declaration,
Concini, whose vanity was only rivalled by his ambition, and who,
despite daily experience, believed his own society to be as
indispensable to the Regent as that of his wife, took measures to
ascertain the precise moment at which the ministerial audience
terminated, when, profiting by the opportunity, he threw himself upon
his knees before the justly-offended Queen, and entreated her
forgiveness of his involuntary offence. Marie was, however, in no mood
for trifling, and she sternly bade him leave her; a command which he
obeyed only to wreak upon his wife the consequences of his own

The son of the Baron de Luz finding that, despite her promise, the
Regent had taken no measures to avenge the death of his father, but
that, on the contrary, she had stopped the proceedings which previously
to her reconciliation with the Duc de Guise had been commenced against
his brother, determined to demand satisfaction in his own person; and he
accordingly despatched a challenge to the Chevalier, which was
immediately accepted by the hot-headed young noble. Seconds were
appointed, and in compliance with the barbarous custom of the time the
four combatants fought on horseback at the Porte St. Antoine. At the
first pass Francois de Guise was wounded, but at the third his sword
pierced the body of his antagonist, who fell from his saddle and expired
a few minutes afterwards. Notwithstanding this tragical result, however,
the murderer alike of the father and the son boldly returned to Paris,
where he was visited and congratulated by numbers of the nobles, who,
instead of shrinking from all contact with a man who had desolated the
hearth and home of a sorrowing and now childless widow, were loud in
their encomiums on his bravery and skill. Nor was this the most
revolting feature of the case; for it is on record that Marie de Medicis
herself, in her eagerness to retain the alliance of his family, no
sooner learnt that the Chevalier had received a wound in the encounter
than she despatched an officer of her household to convey to him her
regret and to inquire into the extent of his hurt, overlooking, with
extraordinary inconsistency, or still more reprehensible recklessness,
the fact that only a few weeks previously she had instructed the
Parliament to put him upon his trial for the murder of his first victim.

The unslumbering eye of Heaven, however, and the unerring fiat of divine
justice, proved less oblivious of this monstrous crime. In the course of
the following year, while at the fortress of Baux near Arles, Francois
de Guise was in the act of firing off a cannon, which burst and wounded
him in so frightful a manner that he expired two hours subsequently in
extreme torture, thus partially expiating by a death of agony a youth of
misrule and bloodshed.[165]

The murder of the younger De Luz had no sooner reached the ears of M. de
Luynes than he resolved to avail himself of the circumstance to awaken
the ambition of Louis, and to induce him to fling off the shackles of
maternal authority. Eager as he had long been for an opportunity of
effecting this object, his attempts had hitherto been negatived by the
ceaseless energy with which Marie de Medicis had smothered in their germ
all attempts at sedition, thus rendering herself essential to the
well-being and security of the kingdom; and he accordingly felt all the
importance of the present crisis.

Under this impression, after listening attentively to the narrative of
his informant, he hastened to the apartment of the King, who was still
engaged in the cares of his morning toilet; and no contrast could have
been more striking than the simple costume of the young sovereign and
the elaborate dress of his favourite. The pourpoint of Louis was of deep
crimson velvet, slashed with satin of the same colour, and totally
without ornament, a simplicity which marked his own observance of the
sumptuary edict that he had lately issued; whereas De Luynes, with an
arrogant disregard of the royal proclamation, was attired in a vest of
pale blue, richly embroidered with gold and relieved by a short mantle
of amaranth, clasped by a rich jewel similar to that which attached the
snowy plume to his black velvet cap.

As the cap was doffed, however, and the long feather swept the
tapestried floor, Louis forgot to chide this ostentatious defiance of
his will, and with a smile motioned his splendid courtier to a seat.

"You come like a bridegroom from the wedding feast, Albert," he said
cheerfully; "and you surely bring me a message of good import, or your
garb belies you. Has De Brantes announced the speedy arrival of my

"Of one only, Sire; the smaller of the two died under his training."

"Ah!" exclaimed the King, with great petulance; "it is always so.
Whatever is destined to give me pleasure fails when I am the most eager
to possess it."

"And yet," interposed De Luynes gaily, "never, in so far as I can judge,
did fortune show herself more favourable to your Majesty."

"What mean you?" asked Louis, roused for an instant from his usual

"Oh! it is a long tale, and a strange one," said the favourite. "You may
remember, Sire, the quarrel that arose between the old Baron de Luz and
the Chevalier de Guise, and which grew out of the cabal against Concini.
You cannot have forgotten, moreover, that the Baron was killed. Well,
his son Antoine de Luz, impatient for a vengeance which was too tardy
according to the principle of his filial chivalry, took, as it seems,
the affair into his own hands, and flattered himself that where his
father had failed he should come forth victorious. Poor boy! he has paid
dearly for his mistake. His sword has proved duller than his hopes. He
has encountered the Chevalier in his turn, and in his turn has bit the
dust. Francois de Guise pierced him through and through one day last
week near the Porte St. Antoine."

"Holy Virgin!" exclaimed Louis in an agitated voice; "do you mean that
he is dead?"

"Dead, like his father," was the unmoved reply.

"And her Majesty the Queen-Regent was no sooner informed of the fact
than she commanded M. de Bassompierre to arrest the Chevalier."

"I will not permit it!" cried the young King vehemently. "I love
Francois de Guise; he is one of my firmest friends; he shall not be

"Calm yourself, Sire," said De Luynes with a significant smile; "Madame
la Regente was soon appeased, and so little does she resent the crime of
M. de Guise that she has this morning condescended to cause inquiries to
be made after his health."

"Right, right," murmured Louis; "and yet it is a bad precedent, and a
dangerous example to the lesser nobles. I hate this spilling of blood.
The Princes are too bold. Upon what will they next venture?"

"Nay, it requires no sphynx to solve that problem, my gracious master,"
said the favourite, toying with his plumed cap; "they will endeavour to
effect the exile of Concini and his dark-browed wife: your good subjects
have no love for foreigners, and believe that you, their sovereign,
would find no want of faithful and devoted servitors among themselves.
Then Jeannin, Sire, and Sillery are obnoxious to them; and they trust,
with your good help, to be ere long freed from all these incubi."

"Luynes," said Louis in a tone of weariness, "I hate to hear you talk
upon such subjects. I have more than enough of them from others. Is De
Guise recovering from his wound? for he must also have suffered in the
fray, or the Queen-mother would not have sought tidings of him."

"Fear not for him, Sire," said the favourite; "he will be quite able to
keep the saddle when M. de Conde heads an army to snatch the crown of
our fair France from your own brow."

"Stay, sir!" exclaimed the young King with sudden dignity. "Have _you_
also forgotten that I am the son of Henri IV?"

"May your Majesty never forget it more than I do," said De Luynes, with
an audacity before which the eye of Louis sank; "but believe me that the
fact will avail you little until you have purged the nation of the
foreign fungus which is corroding the root of your authority."

"Albert," murmured the weak young monarch, "in the name of Heaven, what
would you ask?"

"To see you in reality the King of France, Sire."

"And for this purpose--"

"You must appease the Princes. They are weary of the despotic rule of
the Queen-mother and of the influence of these Florentines."

"I dare not urge the Queen to banish them."

"Nor should you, Sire. It is for subjects to solicit, and for sovereigns
to command. There is, moreover, a safer cure than exile for such
an evil."

"Nay, now, De Luynes, you jest," said Louis, striving to force a sickly
smile; "you surely would not counsel--"

"Your Majesty mistakes me," interposed the favourite; "I would dare
anything to secure your safety. Justice holds her sword as firmly as her
balance, and wields the one as freely as she weighs the other."

"Enough, enough," gasped out Louis; "we will talk of this again--but
blood, blood, always blood! It is sickening. You will attend me to
Fontainebleau, Albert; I must have some sport to-day, and endeavour to
forget for a time all your moody arguments."

De Luynes bowed low as he glanced significantly towards Roger, the
favourite valet of the King, who replied to the meaning look by an
almost imperceptible shrug of the shoulders as he adjusted the mantle of
his royal master.

"Go, Monsieur le Grand Fauconnier," pursued the King, "and see that all
is prepared. I will follow on the instant."

Ten minutes subsequently the Court of the Louvre was thronged with
courtiers, equipages, and led horses; and within a quarter of an hour
the voice of the usher was heard at the foot of the great staircase
announcing "The King." Then Louis himself appeared, and taking his place
in the coach which was awaiting him, he motioned De Luynes to his side,
gave the signal of departure, and left the palace at a rapid pace. The
royal suite mounted in haste; and ere long nobles, pages, and equerries
had disappeared, and all was once more silent beneath the deep shadows
of the regal pile.

It is evident that, crafty as Bassompierre had shown himself when
conversing with M. de Conde on the subject of the extraordinary changes
which had taken place at Court, he was nevertheless suspected by the
Prince of having contributed to effect them, as a short time
subsequently a banquet was given at the Hotel de Conde, to which every
nobleman in office was invited save the handsome and popular Gentleman
of the Bedchamber, who was generally one of the most coveted guests at
entertainments of that description; but the exclusion, marked as it was,
failed to cause any mortification to Bassompierre, who had no sooner
communicated the circumstance to the Regent than she commanded his
attendance in her private _salon_, where he passed the afternoon at
cards with herself and her ladies.

Concini, finding that the Queen did not relax in her coldness towards
himself and his wife, withdrew in great displeasure to Amiens; and at
the same period Marie discovered that, despite his promise to the
contrary, the Duc de Vendome had joined the faction of Conde, and that
they were conjointly endeavouring to win back M. de Guise. Alarmed by
this new cabal, and made aware that the latter had betrayed symptoms of
irresolution which augured ill for his adhesion to her cause, she lost
no time in reminding him of the pledges which he had given, and in
entreating him not to abandon her interests. The Duke, flattered by the
importance that the Queen-mother attached to his allegiance, readily
promised all she wished; and she had reason to congratulate herself upon
her promptitude, as only a few days subsequently M. de Vendome and
Concini arrived at Fontainebleau, where the Court had recently
established its residence, when the former hastened to take leave of
their Majesties previously to his departure for Brittany, where he was
about to preside over the Assembly of the States, and the latter on the
pretext of bearing him company; but in reality to induce Zamet, who
possessed considerable authority in the palace, to assign rooms to them
in that portion of the building occupied by the Duc de Guise.

Such an arrangement could not, however, be effected without reaching the
ears of the Regent, whose suspicions of their motive were immediately
excited; and she desired Bassompierre not to lose sight of M. de Guise
until he had retired to rest, and to prevent his holding any
communication with the Duc de Vendome. Resolved, moreover, to ascertain
the correctness of those suspicions, she directed M. de Senneterre to
watch throughout the night upon the staircase of the Duc de Guise; a
vigilance which was rewarded by his discovery of the two nobles, who,
shortly after Bassompierre had withdrawn, paid a visit to the Duke which
lasted upwards of two hours. The astonishment of the Regent was
consequently by no means great when M. de Guise in his turn waited upon
her Majesty to take leave, upon the pretext that he had been chosen by
Madame d'Elboeuf, conjointly with the Duc de Mayenne, as her arbitrator
in a reconciliation which was about to be attempted between herself and
Madame de la Tremouille, who had on her side selected the Prince de
Conde and the Marechal de Bouillon. Marie, however, refused to consent
to his departure, and informed him that she would despatch Bassompierre
as his substitute; an arrangement with which he was compelled to comply,
but which greatly embarrassed his friends.

Meanwhile the anger of the Queen against Concini had been seriously
increased by this new instance of ingratitude; and even the pleadings of
his wife, who had been restored to favour, failed to appease her
displeasure. In imparting her commands to Bassompierre, Marie had
inveighed bitterly against the attitude assumed by a man who owed
everything to her indulgence; and as her listener endeavoured to excuse
him, she said vehemently:--

"Urge nothing in his behalf. He has thought proper to judge for himself,
and to join a cabal which he knows to be opposed to my authority. Tell
him from me that if he does not return here by Thursday evening, I will
teach him in future to obey me; and that had it not been from
consideration for his wife, I should already have provided him with a
lodging which he would have found it difficult to quit. Leonora is
indignant at his conduct; while he continues to act more disgracefully
from day to day. Inform him that he will do well not to neglect
my orders."

The arrogant Italian was, however, by no means inclined to obedience;
nor was it without considerable difficulty that Bassompierre succeeded
in impressing upon him the extent of the danger to which he exposed
himself by the line of conduct he had so recklessly adopted, and in
ultimately effecting his reconciliation with his justly offended

This was no sooner accomplished than the ministers, who thenceforward
despaired of ever permanently counterbalancing the influence of Concini
and his wife, determined, if possible, to unite their interests to his;
and for this purpose the President Jeannin, who had maintained a better
understanding with the Marquis than any of his colleagues, proposed to
the Queen that an effort should be made to reconcile the Chancellor and
Villeroy with her favourite, a suggestion which she eagerly adopted,
being anxious to strengthen her own party by weakening that of the
Princes. She had been apprised that the Marechal de Bouillon, who was
indignant that he could not attain to the degree of power which he had
anticipated under a regency, was perseveringly employed in endeavouring
to detach the Duc de Guise from her interests, and to fortify the cabal
of the Prince de Conde, in order to render his own allegiance
indispensable to the Crown; and she consequently welcomed any method of
circumventing a conspiracy which was becoming formidable. It was
therefore determined that a marriage should be proposed between the
daughter of Concini and the Marquis de Villeroy, the grandson of the
Secretary of State; and this overture was accompanied by the most lavish
promises on the part of the ministers that they would serve him by
every means in their power, and exert all their energies to advance
his fortunes.

This negotiation, which was undertaken without the knowledge of
Bassompierre, had nearly proved fatal to his prospects; as both parties,
dreading his influence with the Regent, determined to undermine him in
her regard; and for this purpose they so wilfully misrepresented his
actions, and contrived to invest them with so suspicious an appearance,
that Marie, who had begun to misdoubt every one about her, treated him
with a harshness which his proud spirit could not brook; and he
accordingly made preparations for quitting the Court of France, with the
intention of entering the service of some foreign Prince.

His design was no sooner ascertained, however, than his friends,
particularly the Duc de Guise and the Princesse de Conti, hastened to
represent to the Queen the impolicy of forfeiting the friendship and
assistance of one who had so faithfully espoused her cause; and their
representations prevailed. Bassompierre was permitted to justify
himself, and Marie frankly admitted her conviction that she had been
misled by his enemies.

In addition to these intestine intrigues, the Regent was occupied with
the troubles generated by the disputed succession of the duchy of
Mantua, regarding which she was reluctant to come to any resolution
without securing the advice of the Princes and great nobles; upon which
she was, moreover, the more anxious to insist, as it would afford an
opportunity of summoning to the capital not only M. de Conde himself,
but all the other leaders of the adverse faction; who had, as we have
shown, withdrawn from the Court, and were exasperated by the
reconciliation of the Regent with the Ducs de Guise and d'Epernon, and
the recall of the ministers. The Council accordingly met; and as the
Cardinal-Duke of Mantua was a near relative of the Queen, it was decided
that France should support him in his pretensions against the Duke of
Savoy. An army was consequently organized, which was to march on
Monferrat from three several points: one division under the Marechal de
Lesdiguieres, a second under the Duc de Guise, and the third under the
Grand Equerry M. de Bellegarde. The troops were not, however, destined
on this occasion to cross the frontier, the friends of the Duke of Savoy
having soon succeeded in convincing Marie de Medicis of the danger of
investing three great nobles with the command of an armed force of such
importance during the minority of the sovereign; while Ubaldini, the
Papal Nuncio, jealous of the presence of the French soldiery in Italy,
and apprehensive that Lesdiguieres would be accompanied by a large
number of Huguenots, was equally strenuous in dissuading her from her
purpose; assuring her that the King of Spain had resolved to oppose the
Duke of Savoy, and to compel him to restore to the House of Mantua the
territories which had been wrested from it in Monferrat. The Duke of
Savoy himself, moreover, alarmed at the demonstration about to be made
by France, and conscious that he was unable to compete with such an
adversary, resolved to open a negotiation; upon which the Marquis de
Coeuvres was despatched to Italy to arrange the terms of the

While the whole of the other European Princes were occupied with the
succession in Mantua, James of England was engrossed by his anxiety to
divert the minds of his subjects from the grief which was universally
felt at the untimely death of his eldest son; and so little did he
himself feel the bereavement that he entered with apparent enjoyment
into every kind of entertainment which presented itself. The unfortunate
Prince had expired on the 6th of November; and as his demise threatened
to prevent that close alliance with France which he had so eagerly
anticipated, James caused its announcement to the Regent to be
accompanied by an offer of the hand of his other son, Charles, who had
thus become Prince of Wales, to the Princesse Christine; a proposal
which reached the French Court only three days subsequently to the
decease of Henry, and which consequently created considerable
surprise.[168] Marie de Medicis, however, felt no inclination to quarrel
with this indecent haste, as she trusted that by giving her daughter to
the son of a Protestant sovereign, she should conciliate the Huguenots,
whom she had greatly alienated by concluding the double alliance with
Spain; but the Sovereign-Pontiff was no sooner apprised of the offer of
James, and of the gracious reception afforded to it by the Regent, than
he expressed his extreme displeasure, and refused to listen to any
arguments, declaring that no question of state policy should sanction a
contract the observance of which must prove detrimental to the interests
of the Church. Ubaldini, the Papal Nuncio at the French Court, seconded
these remonstrances with more zeal than judgment; and at length
proceeded so far as to reproach the Queen with the ill return which she
was about to make to God for the blessings He had vouchsafed to her. The
haughty spirit of Marie de Medicis could brook no more; and her reply is
worthy of record. "Monseigneur," she said with dignity, "I do nothing
more upon this occasion than several Princes of Italy have done before
me, and that too under the very eyes of the Pope. The Grand Duchess of
Tuscany, with all her devotion, did not refuse her consent when she was
formerly asked to give the hand of her daughter to the Prince of
Wales." [169]

Thus the proposal was accepted, and the heir to the British throne was
thenceforward considered as the future husband of the young Princess.

At this period the death of M. de Fervaques left a marshal's _baton_
disposable, which, to the extreme disgust of the nobility, was bestowed
by the Regent upon Concini, who had never throughout his life been
present at the firing of a hostile shot. The ill-judged manner in which
this dignity was conferred is so characteristic that it merits mention.
Her temporary estrangement from Madame d'Ancre had been a source of
great discomfort as well as sorrow to the Queen; and her ladies, hoping
still further to disgust her with the favourite, had unwittingly
compelled her to feel her dependence upon the disgraced mistress of the
robes. To every petty requirement she was answered that it was not
within their province, and that reference must be made to the Marquise.

"I desire to have the entrance to my closet draperied by a screen of
crimson velvet edged with gold," said the Regent on one occasion to
Madame de Guercheville; "be good enough to have it done immediately."

"Your Majesty has probably overlooked the fact that such orders must be
issued by the Marquise d'Ancre," was the formal reply of the stately
lady of honour.

"Madame du Fargis," resumed the Queen, a short time afterwards, "I have
mislaid a letter--a petition--bearing the name of the Comtesse de
Touraine; I wish it to be found and answered."

"Madame," responded the beautiful Countess meekly, "the Marquise d'Ancre
has charge of all the petitions addressed to your Majesty."

Marie de Medicis turned away in silence. She had striven to believe that
she could dispense with the services of Leonora; but every day, and
almost every hour, she became more convinced of her utter helplessness
without her. Madame d'Ancre had been the playmate of her infancy, the
friend of her girlhood; she was the confidante of her most hidden
thoughts, her counsellor in difficulty, and her consoler in her moments
of trial. The ill-advised bearing of those about her sufficed to remind
her of these facts, and her resolution was forthwith formed. Concini
might still be made to feel and to suffer for his fault, but she could
not dispense with the society and support of Leonora.

The Queen retired to her private closet, and the mistress of the robes
was summoned to her presence by a page. As she entered, Marie was
startled by the change which had taken place in her appearance; her eyes
were swollen with weeping, and her cheek was even more sallow than its
wont. Whatever might be her faults, there can be no doubt that Leonora
was deeply and tenderly attached to her royal foster-sister; and that
the disgrace into which she had fallen had consequently affected her to
an intense degree. She was no longer the proud and imperious favourite
who through the Regent sought to govern France, but a weak and sorrowing
woman, mourning over the ruin of all her hopes.

The apartment to which the Queen-mother had so unexpectedly summoned her
foster-sister was, as we have said, her private closet, in which she
passed several hours each day while residing at the Louvre. The walls
were covered to the height of ten feet from the floor by magnificent
hangings of crimson damask, surmounted by a dome of pale blue silk,
upon which were elaborately embroidered the arms of the Medici. From the
centre of this dome hung a silver lamp, chiselled by the hand of
Benvenuto Cellini, and suspended by a chain of the same metal; a table
of carved oak stood in the centre of the room, upon which were placed a
pair of globes, sundry astronomical instruments, an illuminated missal,
and a flask of Hungary water; while a low divan, heaped with cushions of
black velvet sprinkled with _fleurs-de-lis_ in gold, occupied two entire
sides of the apartment, and completed its furniture.

"Approach, Leonora," said the Queen. "Here, place yourself on this
cushion at my feet, and wipe the tears from your eyes. Even if we part,
we may do so without bitterness."

"Ha, Madame!" exclaimed the Florentine, "should such a feeling indeed
exist it can be only in the bosom of your Majesty, for no true subject
can do otherwise than love and venerate her sovereign."

"Would that it were so," said Marie; "but that is a delusion under which
I have long ceased to labour; for too often where I have sought to
excite affection I have only engendered hatred."

"I know not if your Majesty would address that reproach to me," said
Madame d'Ancre, raising her drooping head with the sudden energy of
honest pride; "but should it really be so, I can summon the past to
vindicate my good faith. I can call upon the Queen-Regent of France
herself to do me justice; I can invoke the two years of that regency,
so full of trial, of struggle, and of calamity, during which I have at
times perilled my head to ensure alike the tranquillity and the triumph
of my august mistress; I can quote the several cabals which I have
helped to crush; and, above all, I can prove the fidelity and submission
with which I have constantly obeyed the behests of my sovereign lady.
All this is, however, worse than idle; the servant only sins the more in
every attempt at self-justification. Monarchs are accustomed from their
cradles to punish upon suspicion, however strong may be the evidences of
the past. Gratitude, as the term is understood between man and man,
never drapes itself in purple; perfect confidence cannot steady its foot
upon the steps of a throne, for the royal canopy is a heaven of impunity
for those whom it overshadows. Yet think not, Madame," she continued, in
a more subdued voice, as she clasped her thin fingers together so
forcibly that they became ashy white beneath the pressure--"think not, I
beseech you, that I say this of myself. I have no such presumption. I
have not forgotten what I was, in feeling what I am. I yet remember,
deeply, thankfully, that I was poor, obscure, and insignificant, and
that it was your royal hand which raised me to rank and honour; and thus
it is with the most fervent gratitude that I now thank you for your past
bounties; and with the utmost humility that I prepare to take my leave
of you for ever."

Marie did not reply; the outburst of outraged feeling in which the
Marquise had indulged was so unexpected and so bold that she remained
speechless, and the tears which had risen to her eyes on the entrance of
her foster-sister congealed upon their lids. Leonora awaited for an
instant some token of relenting in her royal mistress, but as the
threatening silence continued, she became alarmed, and casting herself
upon her knees, she gasped out falteringly, "I am at your feet, Madame;
I kneel before you, wretched and repentant; I am here to bid you
farewell--a life-long farewell. Pardon, and forget me."

The heart of Marie was moved; and as her favourite knelt before her she
pressed her to her bosom, and bade her be of good cheer, for that all
was forgiven. Leonora, unprepared for such an admission, wept
abundantly; and it was long ere she could recover her composure, while
the Queen on her side was scarcely less distressed.

"I cannot part from you, _mia cara, mia dolce_" pursued Marie
passionately; "you are my good angel, the friend and sister of my happy
years--for we were happy then, _Leonora mia_, before a crown and a court
came between us. You have said truly that you have been my guardian
spirit, and we do not part with our best security in the hour of peril.
No, Leonora, no; I will listen no more to the evil accusations of those
who would fain separate us. You shall not quit the Louvre."

Madame d'Ancre pressed her hand forcibly upon her heart as if to control
its tumultuous throbbings; and then, fixing her large dark eyes
earnestly upon those of her royal mistress, she said in a low deep
accent of earnest emotion, "And thus you love me still--you, the proud
daughter of the Medici, the wife and the mother of kings--you love me
still, and I have not lived in vain! Did you hear those words,
Countess?" she asked, suddenly springing to her feet, and addressing
Madame du Fargis, who was standing in the recess of one of the tall
windows, with the tears falling fast over her fair cheeks; "the Regent
will not suffer me to leave France--the Regent will not allow me to
wither away my life an alien from her presence. Now I am once more calm
and strong--calm in the security of my happiness, strong in the
consciousness of my honesty. Let them accuse me now, I defy their
malice, for my royal mistress believes in me, and loves me."

"Compose yourself, Leonora," said the Queen-mother affectionately; "your
feeble frame is unequal to these bursts of passion. Come hither, child,
and pillow your aching head upon my knees, as you were wont to do long,
long ago, when we sang together the beloved songs of our fair Florence,
or indulged in day-dreams which were never destined to be realized. Let
Madame de Conti beware in her turn: higher heads than hers have been
brought low; and from this day I will teach a bitter lesson to her and
to her kinsmen. I have borne much, but I am still a Medicis; I can be as
firm as Catherine, although I shall endeavour to act with greater
justice, and to be in all things worthy of the name I bear."

"Ha, Madame!" exclaimed the favourite, "you have already proved that
however others may endeavour to forget that you are the widow of Henry
the Great the fact is ever present to yourself." And as she spoke,
Leonora buried her face in the lap of her royal foster-sister, while her
long black hair, which had become unfastened by the energy of her
movements, fell to the floor and covered her like a pall.

Little did either the Queen or the Marquise at that moment anticipate
how soon a deeper and a denser pall would replace those luxuriant and
gleaming tresses! Happy was it for both that no prophetic glance into
the future darkened the joy of that bright hour of reconciliation!

Meanwhile the Princesse de Conti, who dreaded the effect of this same
reconciliation upon herself and her family, privately despatched a
messenger to the Prince de Conde to inform him that Madame d'Ancre was
at that very time closeted with the Regent, and that he must forthwith
devise some method of terminating so dangerous a conference. M. de Conde
was for a moment aghast; and on reflection could adopt no better
expedient than that of prevailing upon M. de Breves, the governor of the
Duc d'Orleans, to suggest to the young Prince that he should proceed to
the apartments of his royal mother, in order to pay his respects to her
Majesty. Monsieur obeyed; and Leonora was still seated on a cushion at
the feet of her foster-sister, with her pale face pillowed upon her
knees, when Madame de Conti threw open the door of the royal closet, and
announced the Prince.

"Let Monseigneur await my pleasure without," exclaimed Marie angrily. "I
understand the motive of this breach of etiquette, and shall reward it
as it deserves. _Leonora cara_" she added, as the drapery again closed
over the portal, "dry your tears; I owe you some recompense for all that
you have suffered, and I will not be tardy in my requital."

At this instant some one scratched upon the door of the royal closet.

"Again!" cried the Queen indignantly. "See who waits, Madame du Fargis."

The Countess proceeded to draw aside the tapestry. "Madame," she said,
as she retired a pace or two with a profound curtsey, "his Majesty
the King."

"Ha!" exclaimed the Regent, starting from her seat, and advancing
towards the young sovereign, whom she tenderly embraced, "your visit
could not have been more welcome or better-timed, my son. The death of
M. de Fervaques has created a vacancy which must be at once filled, and
I have a marshal's commission for you to sign."

The wife of Concini gazed eagerly into the face of her royal mistress.
Marie smiled. "Go, Madame," she said affectionately, "and bid the
Marquis d'Ancre hasten here upon the instant to kiss the gracious hand
from which he is about to receive a marshal's _baton_."

Leonora knelt before the startled King, who suffered her in silence to
perform the same ceremony; and then radiant with happiness she pressed
the jewelled fingers of the Queen to her quivering lips. "And hark you,
Leonora," pursued Marie, "cause Concini to be announced by his new title
when he seeks admission here. This will at once put an end to a host of
rivalries which are now unavailing."

Madame d'Ancre hastily withdrew; but as she passed through the
apartments of the Queen she remarked that the antechamber was already
thronged with a crowd of courtiers, who had been attracted thither by
curiosity; while they, in their turn, did not fail to detect in the
flushed cheek and flashing eye of the Marquise the indications of some
new triumph. Little, however, were they prepared for its extent; and
when Concini, some minutes afterwards, appeared, with a sarcastic smile
upon his lips, and glanced a look of defiance around him, even while he
bowed right and left alike to his friends and to his enemies, every
pulse quickened with anxiety. The suspense was but momentary. The
Italian was preceded by one of the royal pages, who, as the captain of
the guard flung back the door of the cabinet in which Louis XIII was
still closeted with his mother, announced in a voice so audible that it
was heard throughout the apartment, "Monseigneur le Marechal d'Ancre."

"Concini a Marshal of France!" exclaimed simultaneously the Ducs de
Guise, d'Epernon, and de Bellegarde, who were standing together; and
then there was a dead silence as the draperied door closed upon the
exulting favourite.


[158] Siri, _Mem. Rec_. vol. iii. pp. 23, 24. D'Estrees, _Mem_. pp. 398,
399. Bassompierre, _Mem_. p. 80. Mezeray, vol. xi. pp. 40, 41.

[159] Francois, Comte (and subsequently Duc) de la Rochefoucauld, Master
of the Wardrobe to Louis XIII, was descended from one of the most
ancient and noble families of France. He died in 1650.

[160] Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mere et du Fils_ vol. i. pp. 204-206.
D'Estrees, _Mem_. p. 399.

[161] This lady, who had commenced her career at Court by the most
bitter enmity towards Bassompierre, was not long ere she became one of
his firmest friends; and it was even asserted that, after the death of
the Prince her husband, she privately bestowed her hand upon the
fascinating Gentleman of the Bedchamber.

[162] Mezeray, vol. xi. pp. 40-42. Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 172, 173.

[163] Bassompierre, _Mem_. p. 81.

[164] Bassompierre, _Mem_. pp. 81-87. Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 174-178.
Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mere et du Fils_, vol. i. pp. 207-209. Mezeray,
vol. xi. pp. 42, 43.

[165] _Mercure Francais_, 1614.

[166] Bassompierre, _Mem_. pp. 88, 89.

[167] Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 191, 192.

[168] Lingard, _Hist. of England_, vol. ix. p. 271.

[169] Siri, _Mem. Rec_. vol. iii. pp. 50-52.



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.

The commencement of the year 1614 was productive of new anxieties to the
Queen-Regent. The Marechal de Bouillon, whose restless ambition was ever
prompting him to some new enterprise, had warily, but not the less
surely, possessed himself of the confidence of the Princes and the other
dis-affected nobles, and had succeeded in aggravating their feelings
against the Court party to such an extent that he experienced little
difficulty in inducing them to abandon the capital and to retire to
their several governments. M. de Conde had never forgiven the refusal of
Marie to bestow upon him the command of the citadel of Chateau
Trompette, or the recall of the ministers; and he also deeply resented
the desertion of the Marechal d'Ancre from his interests, as well as the
wealth and honours to which he had attained; while the Ducs de Nevers,
de Mayenne, de Vendome, de Longueville, and de Piney-Luxembourg,
together with a host of others, considered themselves aggrieved by their
exclusion from power, and were consequently ready to espouse his cause.
Thus Bouillon found it easy to induce them to retire simultaneously from
the Court; and it was agreed that they should assemble in Champagne, and
collectively demand a reform in the Government.

Accordingly the Prince de Conde took his leave of their Majesties on the
6th of January, and retired for a time to Chateauroux, whence he
afterwards proceeded to Mezieres. This example was shortly followed by
the other chiefs of his faction. The Duc de Nevers retired at once to
Champagne, the Duc de Mayenne to the Isle of France, and M. de
Longueville to Picardy. In February the Duc de Vendome prepared in his
turn to join his friends; but as their purpose had by this time become
apparent to the Regent, she caused him to be confined in an apartment of
the Louvre; whence, however, he succeeded a short time afterwards in
escaping by a door that had long been unused, and which being covered by
the tapestried hanging of the chamber had been at length forgotten.

The Marechal de Bouillon, however, upon whom the cabal mainly relied, as
his sovereignty of Sedan gave them the assurance of a secure retreat
should they be menaced with reprisals, made no haste to imitate his
dupes. He had been far too crafty to compromise himself beyond
redemption with a party which might ultimately fail; and he had
consequently calculated with great care the probable chances of
furthering his own fortunes. After the departure of the Princes he
formed his decision; and his first act was to wait upon the ministers,
and to reveal to them the intentions of M. de Conde and his adherents; a
communication which excited more annoyance than surprise in those to
whom it was addressed. He then proceeded to the Louvre, where he
repeated to the Regent what he had previously declared to her ministers;
and although he tempered his information with assurances of the respect
and attachment of the self-exiled Princes towards her person, Marie
considered the mere fact of such a coalition so dangerous, that even
when Bouillon volunteered to exert all his influence to induce them to
abandon their design, and to return to the capital, although she
accepted his offer, and permitted him to follow them ostensibly for that
purpose, she was far from feeling reassured; and she soon had reason to
discover that her fears were only too well--grounded; as the Duke, after
an elaborate leave-taking at the palace, publicly declared that he was
about to proceed to Sedan in order to avoid arrest.

This fact, coupled with the escape of M. de Vendome, who lost no time in
reaching Brittany, where he was joined by the Duc de Retz[170] with an
armed force, and took the town of Lamballe, sufficed to convince Marie
that no faith must be placed in the professions of Bouillon; and she
accordingly forwarded orders to all the governors of the royal
fortresses to forbid the entrance of the Duc de Vendome within their
walls, and commanded the Parliament to issue an edict for the
suppression of levies of troops throughout Provence. This done, she next
despatched the Duc de Ventadour to Chateauroux with letters of recall to
M. de Conde; but before his arrival the Prince had left that city for
Mezieres; and as the letters, which were forwarded to him, remained
unanswered, the royal envoy was compelled to return to the capital
without accomplishing his mission.

The next intelligence which reached the capital was the seizure of the
citadel of Mezieres by the Duc de Nevers; and as matters daily assumed
a more serious aspect, the Queen resolved to recall M. d'Epernon from
Metz, whither he had withdrawn a few months previously, and to
conciliate him by reviving in the person of his son M. de Candale the
nominal office of First Lord of the Bedchamber, which he had himself
held under Henri III; while, at the same time, she held out to the Duc
de Guise the prospect of commanding the armies of the King, should it be
found expedient to march against the Prince de Conde.

These precautions were, however, far from sufficient to tranquillize the
mind of Marie de Medicis, who began to apprehend a renewal of the
intestine calamities which had overwhelmed the nation during the
preceding reigns; and satisfied that despite all her efforts at
conciliation she was personally obnoxious to the Princes, she expressed
her determination to resign the regency. Nor did either Concini or his
wife, although their own fortunes were involved in her retirement,
venture to dissuade her from her purpose, the threats of the disaffected
nobles against themselves having convinced them that they had little
mercy to expect at their hands should they still further urge the Queen
to aggressive measures. From this hasty resolution Marie was, however,
with some difficulty, dissuaded by her Council, who represented to her
the dangerous position in which she could not fail to place the young
King; who, utterly unaccustomed to public business, must prove
incompetent to maintain his interests at so perilous a crisis as that
which now excited her own fears.

The Regent readily admitted the validity of this argument; but in
support of her purpose she informed them that she had just been apprised
of a rumour which had spread in Brittany since the Duc de Vendome had
retired from the Court, by which she was accused of having attempted to
poison the King in order to lengthen her own period of power; and with
pardonable indignation she declared that she possessed no other means of
refuting so horrible a calumny than that which she had adopted, and that
she consequently owed this justice to herself. As she was, however,
still entreated to sacrifice her own feelings to the safety of the
sovereign and the welfare of the kingdom, she at length yielded; but
that she made the concession with reluctance was sufficiently evident.

"As regards the horrible crime imputed to me, Messieurs," she said, "I
can only swear that I would rather suffer death than continue to live on
under such an accusation. I am well aware, moreover, that this is not
the only calumny which has been circulated against my person and
reputation; nor is it the first time that the Marechal d'Ancre has been
designated as the instigator of my unpopular measures; every new cabal
inventing some fallacy to undermine my authority and to throw discredit
upon my government. Since, however, you give it as your opinion that I
shall better serve the King by retaining the regency until he shall be
of fitting age to act upon his own responsibility, I will continue to
exercise the power delegated to me by my late lord and husband; and to
maintain that good understanding with my son which has ever hitherto
existed between us."

The question was then discussed of whether it were more desirable to
levy such troops as still remained faithful to the Crown, and at once
endeavour to reduce the faction of the Princes by force, or to attempt a
reconciliation by pacific means. The Cardinal de Joyeuse, Villeroy, and
Jeannin were urgent that the former measure should be adopted; assigning
as their reason that after the tergiversation and deceit of which the
cabal had been convicted, they would profit by any delay on the part of
the Government to strengthen their army, and to effect other means of
defence, thus augmenting the difficulty of their suppression; the
Chancellor was, however, of a different opinion, and counselled the
Queen to avert, so long as it might be possible to do so, the horrors of
a civil war. He represented to her the fact that all the principal
nobles, with scarcely one exception, had leagued themselves with M. de
Conde, while she had on her side only the Ducs de Guise and d'Epernon,
who were, moreover, at variance; each coveting the dignity of
Connetable, and scarcely seeking to disguise his jealousy of the other;
and finally, he pointed out to her the dangerous attitude assumed by the
Huguenots, who would not fail to take advantage of any civil dissension
to advance their pretensions, which could only be done successfully
during the minority of the sovereign.

Between these conflicting opinions Marie at length resolved to steer a
middle course; and she consequently declared her intention of attempting
by negotiation to reconcile the Princes, while at the same time she made
a levy of six thousand Swiss troops.[171] She, moreover, by the advice
of her Council, addressed a circular-letter to all the Parliaments of
the kingdom, governors of provinces and fortresses, and mayors of towns,
exhorting them to remain faithful to the Crown, and not to suffer
themselves to be seduced by the Prince de Conde and his partisans; and
terminating by the declaration that her Majesty had determined to
convoke the States, in order to consult upon the measures necessary for
ensuring the welfare and prosperity of the nation.

Meanwhile M. de Conde had assembled the leaders of his party at
Mezieres, whence he forwarded a species of manifesto to the
Queen-Regent, in which he complained in the name of his faction of "the
waste of the public money; of the unworthiness of the individuals in
power; of the undue authority assumed by the ministers; of the want of
respect displayed towards the Princes of the Blood, the peers, and the
officers of the Crown; of the obstacles endured by the Parliaments in
the exercise of their jurisdiction; of the ruin of the great nobles;
the excessive charges of the law courts; the oppression suffered by the
people; the neglect exhibited in assembling the States-General; and the
precipitation shown in concluding the marriage of the sovereign before
he had attained his majority." Other objections followed, and then
succeeded the conditions upon which the cabal declared themselves
willing to return to their allegiance. The States-General were to be
convened within three months; the royal marriages were to be deferred
until the close of the Assembly; and the then-existing household of his
Majesty was to be replaced by individuals of acknowledged probity.

The Prince at the same time wrote to the two Parliaments, to the Prince
de Conti, to the dukes and peers, and to the great officers of the
Crown, soliciting their assistance in the work of reform which he was
about to undertake. Neither of the Parliaments, however, replied to his
letter; and that addressed to Paris was placed unopened in the hands of
the Regent, who forthwith forwarded it to the Chancellor.

The answer of Marie de Medicis to the manifesto addressed to herself was
calm and dignified. She declared her willingness to assemble the
States-General; but accompanied this concession by expressing her regret
that the Prince should not, during the last four years, have personally
made the representation, and assisted her in averting the evils of which
he now complained, instead of absenting himself from the Court on the
pretext of disapproving the proposed alliance with Spain, to which he
had previously affixed his consent and signature. To each of his other
objections he received an equally categorical reply; and the document
terminated by an expression of her conviction that his offer to effect a
reform in the state by pacific means rather than have recourse to force
was desirable indeed, but little to be anticipated, since the formation
of a cabal like that of which he had constituted himself the leader, and
which was opposed to the legitimate authority of the sovereign, could
only terminate in intestine broils, and compel the King to adopt the
most violent measures in order to suppress it.

Precisely at this period intelligence reached the Court of the death of
the veteran Connetable de Montmorency, one of the most gallant soldiers
of his day, whose judgment and strong sense had long been proverbial,
although he was utterly without education, and could scarcely sign
his own name.

While the negotiation with Conde was still pending, a new anxiety added
to the embarrassment of the Regent. The Swiss levies were about to be
raised; but suspicions of the loyalty of the Duc de Rohan, who was
colonel-general of this force, rendered her unwilling to confide so
important a body of troops to his control; and she ultimately resolved
to offer him a sum of money, and to induce him to resign his
appointment. M. de Rohan readily acceded to the proposal, his position
at that moment rendering him indifferent to its possession; and the
Queen next sought to find an individual whose popularity with the
Switzers, and devotion to her own interests, might render him an
eligible successor to the displaced Duke. After considerable reflection
she selected Bassompierre; but the suggestion was at once negatived by
M. de Villeroy, who reminded her Majesty that the office was one which
had never been filled by any person under the rank of a prince. So
brilliant a prospect, however, gave the favoured courtier courage to
plead his cause so successfully with his royal mistress, that she was at
length induced to consent that, if he were enabled to persuade the Swiss
themselves to solicit his appointment, the difficulty should be
overcome. Fortunately for the aspirant the officer to whom the levies
were entrusted was his personal friend, and so zealously did he advocate
his cause that the Thirteen Cantons united in consenting to receive him
as their leader; and Bassompierre, although only a petty noble of
Lorraine, found himself invested with a command which was coveted by all
the proudest subjects of France.

Two days subsequently the Court were informed that the Prince de Conde
and the Duc de Nevers had taken Mezieres and Sainte-Menehould, upon
which the newly-raised troops received orders to join M. de Praslin,
who, with the remainder of the army, was concentrating his forces at
Vitry. Their arrival so alarmed the insurgent party that they resolved
to evacuate the latter city, and demanded that even should the troops
remain in their vicinity, Bassompierre himself, who, from the share that
he had taken in the affair throughout, was peculiarly obnoxious to them,
should be recalled. The Duc de Ventadour and the President Jeannin,
through whom M. de Conde and his party carried on their negotiation with
the King, accordingly wrote to the young commander to apprise him that
the Regent required his services in the capital, for reasons which she
would explain on his arrival; and, greatly to his mortification,
Bassompierre found himself compelled to retrace his steps.[172]

Once more Marie de Medicis resolved to afford to the adverse faction the
opportunity of terminating their ill-advised struggle without bloodshed;
and she accordingly despatched a trustworthy messenger to M. de Conde,
volunteering to send deputies who should be authorized to effect a
reconciliation. The offer was accepted, the malcontents having become
paralyzed by the unexpected energy of their opponents; and after sundry
meetings between the agents of the Government and the chiefs of the
cabal, in which each made particular conditions for himself which were
veiled by three demands of a more public nature, a treaty of peace was
drawn up and signed by both parties, and amity was once more restored.
Situated as they were, the Princes had been careful not to insist on
more than they were aware would be readily conceded; and thus they asked
only that the States-General should be convoked with as little delay as
possible, that the double alliance with Spain should be delayed until
the termination of the King's minority, and that the royal troops should
be immediately disarmed.

To this last requisition the reply of the commissioners of the Crown was
positive; the rebel faction were in the first place to lay down their
own arms after which they pledged themselves that their example should
be followed by the troops of the sovereign; and to this arrangement M.
de Conde, after some hesitation, agreed.

Thus far all had progressed favourably; but the subsequent exactions of
the disaffected party caused considerable anxiety in the Council of the
Regent. The exorbitant pretensions of its leaders alarmed the ministers,
but the crisis was sufficiently critical to induce them ultimately to
satisfy the demands of their dearly-purchased allies. The Prince de
Conde was invested with the government of Amboise, and received four
hundred and fifty thousand livres in ready money. The Duc de Mayenne
three hundred thousand, and the survivorship of the government of Paris;
and all the other chiefs of the cabal the sums or governments that they
had seen fit to exact; after which they ceased to insist upon the public
grievances, and the Ducs de Longueville and de Mayenne returned to
Court; an example which was followed by the Prince de Conde as soon as
he had taken possession of his new government. The coldness with which
he was received, however, and the little desire evinced to pay him that
deference which he was ever anxious to exact, soon disgusted him with
the capital, and he once more withdrew, little less disaffected
than before.

On the 5th of June the Duc d'Anjou and the younger Princess were
baptized at the Louvre with great ceremony, by the Cardinal de Bonzy,
the almoner of the Queen. The sponsors of the Prince, who received the
names of Gaston Jean Baptiste, were the ex-Queen Marguerite and the
Cardinal de Joyeuse; while those given to his sister, who was held at
the font by Madame and the Cardinal de la Rochefoucauld, were Henriette
Marie; this being the Princess who subsequently became the wife of the
unhappy Charles I. of England.

The completion of the treaty with the Princes had restored the nation to
apparent tranquillity, and the government of the Regent bore a semblance
of stability to which it had not previously attained, when new troubles
broke out through the restlessness and jealousy of Cesar de Vendome;
who, having merely been reinstated in his government and other
dignities, considered himself to have been ill-treated by the Prince de
Conde, to whose care he had confided his interests, and who consequently
resolved to enforce more ample justice for himself. With a view of
effecting his purpose, he induced the Duc de Retz, who was equally
dissatisfied, to follow his example, and Brittany soon became ripe for
revolt. As, however, Vendome did not fail to perceive that without
extending his faction he could not hope to make head successfully
against the Court, he next endeavoured to engage M. de Rohan and the
Protestants in his interest, believing the Duke to be much more powerful
with the reformed party than he really was; and Rohan so far yielded as
to attempt a convocation of the General Assembly in Gascony; but the
prudence of Du Plessis-Mornay, who represented to the Huguenots the
impolicy of embroiling themselves with the Government in order to
gratify the ambition of an individual, decided them to refuse all
participation in a political movement of that nature.

Repulsed but not discouraged, Vendome still persevered, and as his
intrigues tended to unsettle the minds of the people, and to harass the
Regent, she resolved to despatch the Marquis de Coeuvres, then recently
returned from his embassy in Italy, to expostulate with him, and
endeavour to recall him to reason. This mission was peculiarly
distasteful to the Marquis, who, being nearly connected with M. de
Vendome through his mother (Gabrielle d'Estrees), was fearful, should he
fail to effect his purpose, that he must offend one or the other party;
but as the commands of the Queen-mother were stringent, he was compelled
to obey. His task proved an arduous one, the two Dukes warmly asserting
their right to share in the benefits which M. de Conde had secured for
himself and his immediate friends, and declaring their intention to
obtain by force what they had been denied by the ingratitude of the
Crown: nor was it until the envoy had been a second time instructed to
assure them that should they persist in their disloyalty the King was
prepared to march an army against them, that they were at length induced
to sign a treaty which had been drawn up for that purpose, and to lay
down their arms.

This desirable result had scarcely been accomplished when the Prince de
Conde, disappointed by his government of Amboise (which he soon
discovered to be of much less importance than he had imagined when he
insisted upon its possession), resolved to make himself master of the
city of Poitiers, where he had secured many and active allies, among
whom the most considerable was the Due de Roannois, the governor; while
in addition to this advantage he had also received from the Marquis de
Bonnivet a promise that he would furnish a body of troops to assist him
in his enterprise. The city was about to elect a mayor, and the friends
of Conde had exerted themselves to the utmost to cause the choice of the
citizens to fall upon an individual of their own party, but their design
was penetrated by the Bishop,[173] who hastened to apprise the Regent of
the cabal which had once more been commenced against her authority.

The communication of the prelate renewed all the apprehensions of Marie,
who, after expressing her acknowledgments for his zeal, commanded him to
adopt every means in his power to contravene the endeavours of the
Prince and his adherents; and so ably did he fulfil her directions that
he succeeded in winning over to the royal cause the greater number of
the inhabitants; which he had no sooner accomplished than he caused the
guards to be doubled, and thus rendered himself more powerful in the
city than M. de Roannois himself. This fact soon became apparent to
Conde, but he still trusted to the support of his friends, and
accordingly presented himself at the gates with a small retinue,
believing that the citizens would obey their governor, and refuse to
oppose his entrance. The Bishop had, however, by the promptitude of his
measures, effectually defeated the hopes of the Prince. He had loudly
proclaimed in the streets that there was a conspiracy on foot for
delivering up the city to the enemies of the King; and this announcement
had at once sufficed to arouse all the energy of the inhabitants. In a
short time the gates were closed, chains were stretched across the
thoroughfares, and numerous barricades were erected. The prelate,
gratified by these fearless evidences of his influence, became to the
full as excited as his adherents, and arming himself with a pike, he
placed himself at the head of the people, urging them to resist to the
utmost the dishonour by which they were threatened; while the Governor,
who was then inhabiting a suburban residence, no sooner became apprised
of the belligerent demonstrations of the Bishop, and the effects which
they had produced, than he galloped to the gates with the intention of
opposing his authority to that of his clerical antagonist. At his
command the gates were opened, and directing the immediate demolition of
the barricades, he proceeded to the episcopal palace; not, however,
without being subjected to the abuse of the irritated populace. The
Bishop, whose policy was not inferior to his courage, offered him an
asylum until the fury of the crowd should be appeased; and M. de
Roannois, alarmed by the rough reception he had already encountered, at
once accepted the offer, and thus became the prisoner of the prelate;
who, producing the letter of the Regent, issued the orders necessary to
ensure the safety of the city. Nor was this all; for with a sword by his
side, the Bishop personally posted the sentinels at nightfall, and
distributed money from his own private purse to the non-military
combatants who had formed themselves into a militia.

Enraged by his disappointment, M. de Conde, after vainly attempting to
obtain a hearing from the excited citizens, found himself compelled to
retire with his companions, having on his way burnt down the country
palace of the bishops of Poitiers; and he had no sooner reached that
city than he wrote to the Regent to complain of the insult to which he
had been subjected by the inhabitants of Poitiers, and to demand
justice. The sympathies of the Court were, however, with the adverse
party; but Marie de Medicis was so well aware of the consequences to be
apprehended from Conde's irritation that she resolved to proceed to
Poitou and Brittany in person, on the pretext of the weak health of the
King, by whom she was to be accompanied. She accordingly caused a
rumour to be spread that Louis had displayed symptoms of disease which
rendered it probable that he could not long survive; and having done
this, the troops were warned to hold themselves in readiness to leave
the capital with his Majesty. Meanwhile the Due de Mayenne was
despatched to M. de Conde to assure him on the part of the Regent that
every respect should be paid to his representations, and at the same
time letters of abolition were sent to all his adherents; although he
was requested to retire from Poitou during the sojourn of their
Majesties. To this demand Conde at first demurred; but finding that he
could not succeed in securing the assistance of the reformed party, he
at length consented to withdraw; and not venturing to return to Amboise,
he took up his temporary residence at Chateauroux in Berry.

The retreat of the Prince was a great triumph for the warlike Bishop,
who lost no time in proceeding to Tours (where the Court had already
arrived), at the head of two hundred of his supporters, to entreat of
their Majesties to proceed at once to Poitiers, in order to restore
public confidence. His reception by the Regent was gracious in
the extreme, nor did the young sovereign fail to express to the
exulting prelate his own sense of obligation. At Poitiers the Court
was met by the most enthusiastic acclamations: their Majesties
honoured the election of the new mayor with their presence; and the
lieutenant-generalship of the province was bestowed upon the Comte de
la Rochefoucauld, an adherent of the Due de Guise.

From Poitiers the Court proceeded to Angers, on its way to Brittany;
where, however, the Due de Vendome did not wait its arrival to make his
submission. The inertness of the Government upon previous occasions not
having prepared him for the energy now exhibited by the sovereign, his
alarm was correspondingly increased; and he hastened to meet their
Majesties accompanied by all the nobility of the province. On
approaching the King he laid his sword at his feet; and, as he knelt
beside it, entreated his forgiveness of his past errors, and expressed
his determination thenceforward to give him no further subject of
complaint; upon which Louis commanded him to rise, and granted him a
free pardon, which was ratified by the Regent. Letters patent were
despatched by which he was reinstated in his government, and made
irresponsible for all the excesses committed by his troops; and once
more the son of Gabrielle d'Estrees was restored to the favour, if not
to the confidence, of his sovereigns.

The assembly of the States then took place at Nantes, presided over by
the Duc de Rohan; and during its meetings the King was apprised by its
members of the enormities of which the followers of Vendome had been
guilty throughout the province, and respectfully solicited to exclude
from the letters of abolition the authors of the frightful crimes of
which the people had been made the victims. Among those of which they
complained were the ransom of wives by their husbands, of daughters and
young children by their parents, and of fields of grain by their owners.
They, moreover, demanded justice for still greater enormities; and
revealed to the Council the appalling fact that wealthy individuals had
been subjected to torture, and in many instances even put to death, in
order to obtain possession of their money; while others had been
compelled to pay a heavy sum to save their dwellings and their property
from the brand of the incendiary.

These frightful revelations excited the horror and indignation of Marie
and her Council; and, in reply to their requisition, the complainants
were assured that, although the King and his Government had preferred to
pardon the injuries which they had personally sustained from the faction
of M. de Vendome, rather than visit them with the vengeance that they
had legally merited, neither the sovereign nor those who held office
under him could permit crimes like those detailed in their remonstrance
to be exercised with impunity upon the people, and those crimes would
consequently be punished with the most extreme rigour.

The first independent act of the Duc de Vendome had thus greatly injured
him in the estimation of the young monarch and his mother; nor did his
afterlife tend to give them cause to alter the opinion which they then
formed either as regarded his stability or his capacity. Even the
marriage which his father, Henri IV, had with so much difficulty
contracted for him with the heiress of the House of Mercoeur,[174]
failed to produce the result that had been anticipated, as he squandered
her wealth, without increasing his own political importance.[175]

On her triumphant return to the capital Marie de Medicis was apprised of
the death of the Prince de Conti, which had taken place on the 13th of
August; but the void was little felt, the infirmities under which he
laboured, and the weakness of his intellect, having, despite his exalted
rank, rendered him a mere cipher at the Court. By the nation his loss
was totally unfelt; while this indifference was shared by his wife,
whose violent passion for Bassompierre had long been notorious, and who
shortly afterwards privately gave him her hand. Mademoiselle
d'Entragues, the sister of the Marquise de Verneuil, to whom he had
previously been betrothed, and who had made him the father of a
son,[176] had in vain endeavoured in the law courts to compel him to
fulfil his contract, and persisted in bearing his name; a fact which was
so well known as to induce many persons to believe that she was in
reality his wife. On one occasion, when he was in attendance upon the
Queen, the royal carriage was detained for a moment by the crowd near
that of Mademoiselle d'Entragues, whom Marie immediately recognized.
"See," she said with a malicious smile, as she pointed towards the lady
with her fan, "there is Madame de Bassompierre."

"That is merely a _nom de guerre_, Madame," was the ready reply, uttered
in a tone sufficiently loud to reach the ears of the person named, who
angrily exclaimed:

"You are a fool, Bassompierre!"

"If I be not," was the quiet rejoinder of the ungallant Lothario, "it
has at least, Madame, not been your fault." [177]

Thus, after his union with the Princesse de Conti, Bassompierre,
although claimed as a husband by two celebrated women, the one of a
family notorious for the profligacy of its members, and the other a
daughter of the proud house of Guise and, moreover, the widow of a
Prince of the Blood, still continued to assume the privileges of a
bachelor; resolutely disowning the one, while the other did not dare
publicly to declare her marriage.[178]

A fortnight after the return of the Court to Paris it was followed by
the Prince de Conde, who had been summoned to attend the sovereign to
Parliament on the termination of his minority, which ended when he
entered his thirteenth year. On the 1st of October, the day preceding
that on which the ceremony of his recognition as actual monarch of
France was to take place, Louis XIII issued a declaration confirmatory
of the edict of pacification previously published, and renewing his
prohibition against duelling and blasphemy. On the following morning the
King ascended his Bed of Justice; and both the procession and the
meeting were conducted with the greatest pomp. He was attended by the
Queen-mother, Monsieur, and the Princes de Conde and de Soissons, the
Ducs de Guise, d'Elboeuf, d'Epernon, de Ventadour, and de Montbazon, and
upwards of eight hundred mounted nobles, all attired in the most
sumptuous manner. On his arrival at the palace the King was received by
two presidents and four councillors, by whom he was conducted to the
great hall; and after all the persons present had taken their places,
his Majesty briefly declared the purpose for which he had convened the
meeting. Marie de Medicis then in her turn addressed the Assembly,
declaring that she had resigned the administration of public affairs
into the hands of the sovereign, who had some days previously attained
his majority; and when she had ceased speaking Louis expressed his
acknowledgments for the valuable services which she had rendered to the
kingdom, his resolution still to be guided by her advice, and entreated
her not to withhold from him her important assistance in the Government.
The Chancellor, the First President,[179] and the Advocate-General[180]
each delivered a harangue; after which the Chancellor pronounced the
decree which declared the majority of the sovereign; and the declaration
that he had forwarded to the Council on the previous day was duly
registered. This act terminated the ceremony, and Louis XIII returned to
the Louvre accompanied and attended as he had reached the Parliament,
amid the acclamations of the populace.

The assembly of the States-General at Sens had been fixed for the 10th
of September, and would consequently have been held before the King had
attained his majority, had not this arrangement been traversed by the
Regent, who apprehended that they would seize so favourable an
opportunity of thwarting all her views; and would not only demand the
dismissal of the ministers and the Marechal d'Ancre, but also, which was
still more important, dissuade the sovereign, whose minority would
terminate during their sitting, from permitting her to retain any share
in the Government. The Prince de Conde and his partisans, whose
interests undoubtedly demanded such a result, had, however, themselves
been instrumental in the delay so earnestly desired by Marie; the
hostile demonstrations of Vendome in Brittany, and the ill-judged
movements of Conde himself in Poitou, having furnished her with a
plausible pretext for deferring the opening of the States until the King
could preside over them in person; when the public declaration made
before the Parliament by the young sovereign of his intention still to
be guided by the counsels of his mother at once freed her from all her
apprehensions; and she accordingly lost no time in transferring the
Assembly from Sens to Paris, and proroguing it till the 10th of October.

Nevertheless much was to be feared should the clergy, the nobility, and
the people act unanimously; and in order to prevent such a coalition,
neither Marie de Medicis nor her ministers spared any exertion. As much
depended upon the presidents whom they might select, the first care of
the Queen-mother was to ensure the election of persons favourable to her
own interests; but as great caution was necessary with regard to the
agent to whom she could entrust so delicate a mission as that of causing
such individuals to be chosen, she hesitated for a time before she came
to a decision. Ultimately, however, she fixed upon the young Comte de
Brienne;[181] and so thoroughly did he justify her preference, that he
eventually succeeded, without any appearance of undue interposition, in
securing the election of three presidents, all of whom were favourable
to the Court party.[182]

This important point gained, the Government recovered its confidence;
and its next care was to awaken the jealousy of each order against its
coadjutors, and thus to paralyze the influence of the Assembly. In this
attempt it was perfectly successful; and the general welfare of the
country was overlooked in the anxiety of the several parties to carry
out their own individual views. The clergy demanded the publication of
the decrees of the Council of Trent, and their unrestricted admission
throughout the kingdom; the nobility asked that the privilege of the
_paulette_ should be abolished;[183] and the _tiers-etat_[184]
solicited either the suppression or diminution of the pensions by which
the public treasury was involved in debt.

The speaker elected by the clergy was the Archbishop of Lyons; the
nobility chose as their spokesman the Baron du Pont Saint-Pierre,[185]
while the _tiers-etat_ was presided over by M. Miron.[186] The two
first-named orators addressed the King standing and bareheaded; but this
privilege was considered too great for a body which could boast of
neither hereditary nor ecclesiastical nobility; and the able diplomatist
and rhetorician who upon that occasion pleaded before his sovereign the
rights and immunities of the class which he had been called upon to
represent, was compelled to address that sovereign upon his knees. Miron
had, previous to the meeting of the States, excited the indignation of
the more patrician orders by declaring that he regarded the three bodies
of which it was composed as one family, of which the nobility and clergy
represented the elder, and the _tiers-etat_ the junior branches; while
the Queen herself, even while she felt the importance of his support,
did not hesitate to treat the deputies of his order with the greatest
arrogance and discourtesy, although they distinguished themselves by a
loyalty and devotion to the interests of the Crown which met with no
response from the haughtier members of the Assembly. Ably, indeed,
through the agency of Miron, did they persist in defending the royal
prerogative, and demand that a principle should be established
forbidding the deposition of their sovereigns on accusations of heresy;
expressing their desire that the Crown should be recognized by law as
completely independent of spiritual power; and although the clergy,
through Cardinal Duperron, formally and strenuously opposed these
propositions, so little was Miron affected by the adverse circumstances
under which he appeared, that he replied with a logic and energy which
compelled the States to defer their decision until the following

Louis XIII, at this period, was in so delicate a state of health as to
require constant care and attention, while his sullen and self-centred
disposition demanded no less watchfulness. His first preceptor was M.
Vauquelin des Ivetaux, a man of great talent, and quite equal to the
task of forming the mind and intellect of a Prince, but of dissolute
principles and sensual habits.[188] He, however, did not long remain
about the person of the boy-King, having been replaced a year after the
death of Henri IV by Nicolas Le Fevre,[189] who was distinguished alike
for his learning and his piety. Unfortunately for the young Louis, this
excellent man only lived a year after his appointment, and was, in his
turn, replaced by M. de Rivault,[190] a celebrated mathematician, who
had been educated with Guy, Comte de Laval.[191] Thus, however competent
these several individuals might have been to conduct his education, it
will be at once evident that the perpetual changes of method and purpose
to which he was subjected greatly tended to impede the progress of the
illustrious pupil; and it consequently ceases to be matter of surprise
that at his majority he had by no means attained to the degree of
knowledge common to his age. Louis XIII knew little Latin; cared nothing
for literature; but although either irritable or inert when compelled to

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