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

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desire to know how I respond? It is thus. In the name of the King my son
and in my own, in the name of my offended dignity and in the name of
France, I, in my turn, declare the most stringent and unsparing war
against rebellion, be it the work of whom it may. Neither high blood nor
ancient title shall suffice to screen a traitor; war, war to the death,
shall be henceforward my battle-cry against the malcontents who are
striving to decimate the nation; and do not delude yourselves with the
belief that I shall be single-handed in the struggle, for I will call
the people to my aid, and the people will maintain the cause of their
sovereigns. We will try our strength at last, and the strife will be a
memorable one; our sons shall relate it with awe and terror to their
descendants, and it will be a tale of shame which will cleave to your
names for centuries to come. Ah, gentlemen, the rule of a woman has
rendered you over-bold; and you have forgotten that there have been
women who have wielded a sceptre of iron. Look to England--is there no
sterner lesson to be learnt there? Or think you that Marie de Medicis
fears to emulate Elizabeth? You have mistaken both yourselves and me. My
forbearance has not hitherto grown out of fear; but the lion sometimes
disdains to struggle with the tiger, not because he misdoubts his own
strength, but because he cares not to lavish it idly. I also feel my
strength, and when the fitting moment comes, it shall be put forth. To
your war-cry I will answer with my war-cry; to your leaders I will
oppose my leaders; and when you shout Conde and Mayenne! I will answer
triumphantly Louis de France and Gaston d'Orleans! Draw the sword of
rebellion if it be too restless to remain in the scabbard; you will not
find me shrink from the flash of steel; and should you take the field I
will be there to meet you. Rally your chiefs; the array can have no
terrors for me, prepared as I am to confront you with some of the best
and the bravest in all France. Deny this if you can, you who seek to
undermine the throne, and to sacrifice the nation to your own ambitious
egotism, and I will confound you with the names of Guise, Montmorency,
Brissac, Sully, Bassompierre, Lesdiguieres, Marillac, and Ornano; these,
and many more of the great captains of the age, will peal out my
war-cry, and rally round the threatened throne of their legitimate
sovereign. My son will be in the midst of them; and mark me well,
gentlemen, the struggle shall no sooner have commenced than every
pampered adventurer who has poisoned the ear of the monarch, and steeled
his heart against his mother, shall be crushed under her heel; and
should he dare to raise his head, I will assign to him as his
armour-bearer the executioner of Paris."

Never before had the Regent evinced such an amount of energy; never
before had she so laid bare the secret workings of her soul. The
adherents of the Princes trembled as they discovered with how formidable
an enemy they should be called thenceforward to contend; while the
majority of the nobles who were faithful to the royal cause, and above
all those whose names she had so proudly quoted, uttered loud
acclamations of delight and triumph.

Bewildered by the daring of his mother, Louis once more sought for
support from his favourite, but De Luynes was in no position to afford
it. The allusion to himself with which Marie de Medicis had concluded
her harangue was too palpable to be mistaken, and he felt that should
she maintain her purpose he was lost. Even Richelieu, as if crushed
beneath the impassioned eloquence of the Regent, sat with drooping head
and downcast eyes; and meanwhile Marie herself, after having glanced
defiantly over the assembly, calmly resumed her seat, and desired that
the business of the meeting might proceed.

Before the sitting closed it was determined that the army should be
placed upon the war footing, and that a levy of six thousand Swiss
should immediately be made; and this arrangement completed, the
Queen-mother proceeded to attempt by every means in her power a
reconciliation with the Guises.

For this purpose she despatched four nobles in whom she could confide to
Soissons, to negotiate with the Princes, nor was it long ere they
ascertained that individual jealousy had tended to create considerable
disunion among them; and that each appeared ready, should any plausible
pretext present itself, to abandon the others. Under these circumstances
it was not difficult to convince the Due de Guise and his brother that
no hostile design had ever been entertained against them, and to induce
them to admit their regret at the hasty step which they had taken,
together with their anxiety to redeem it. The Duc de Longueville was
equally ready to effect his reconciliation with the Court; and having
arranged with the royal envoys the terms upon which they consented to
return, they were severally declared innocent of all connivance with the
rebellious Princes. The Duc de Nevers, however, refused to listen to any
compromise with the Crown; and, in defiance of the royal command,
continued his endeavours to possess himself of the fortresses of
Champagne, which were not comprised in his government.[258]

The persevering disaffection of M. de Nevers occasioned the disgrace of
Du Vair, who betrayed an indisposition to proceed against him which so
irritated Marie de Medicis that she induced the King to deprive him of
the seals, and to bestow them upon Mangot, making Richelieu Secretary of
State in his place; that wily prelate having already, by his great
talent and ready expedients, rendered himself almost indispensable to
his royal patroness.

The arrest of the Prince de Conde had restored the self-confidence of
Concini, who shortly afterwards returned to Court and resumed his
position with an arrogance and pretension more undisguised than ever.
The Marechale, however, had never recovered from the successive shocks
to which she had been subjected by the death of her child and the
destruction of her house; but had fallen into a state of discouragement
and melancholy which threatened her reason.[259] For days she shut
herself up in her apartments, refusing to receive the most intimate of
her friends, and complaining that she was bewitched by those who looked
at her.[260] Her domestic misery was, moreover, embittered by the public
hatred, of which, in conjunction with her husband, she had become more
than ever the object. It would appear that the injury already inflicted
upon the Italian favourites had stimulated rather than satiated the
detestation of the people for both of them. Every grievance under which
the lower orders groaned was attributed to the influence of Concini and
his wife; they were accused of inciting the Queen-mother to the acts of
profusion by which the nation was impoverished; while every
disappointment, misfortune, or act of oppression was traced to the same
cause. Many affected to believe that Marie was the victim of sorcery,
and that such was the real source of the influence of Leonora; and thus
the heart-broken mother and unhappy wife, whose morbid imagination had
caused her to consider her trials as the result of magical arts, was
herself accused of having employed them against her royal

The nomination of Richelieu as Secretary of State had been effected
through the influence of Concini, who in vain endeavoured to persuade
him to resign the bishopric of Lucon, as incompatible with his new
duties. The astute prelate had more extended views than those of his
patron; nor was it long ere he succeeded in arousing the jealousy of the
Marechal, and in convincing him, when too late, that he had, while
endeavouring to further his own fortunes, only raised up a more
dangerous and potent enemy than any to whom he had hitherto been
opposed. Richelieu had no sooner joined the ministry than he made
advances to the ancient allies of Henri IV, whom he regarded as the true
friends of France; and for the purpose of conciliating those whose
support he deemed most essential to the welfare of the kingdom, he
hastened to despatch ambassadors to the Courts of England, Holland, and
Germany, who were instructed to explain to the several monarchs to whom
they were accredited the reasons which had induced Louis XIII to arrest
the Prince de Conde, and to assure them that the measures adopted by the
French Court were not induced, as had been falsely represented, by any
desire to conciliate either Rome or Spain. To this assurance he
subjoined a rapid synopsis of the means employed by the Queen-mother to
ensure the peace of the kingdom, and the efforts made by the Prince to
disturb it; and, finally, he recapitulated the numerous alliances which
had taken place between the royal families of France and Spain during
several centuries as an explanation of the close friendship which
existed between the two countries.[262] Meanwhile considerable
difficulty was experienced in the equipment of the army which had been
raised. The royal treasury was exhausted, and in several provinces the
revolted nobles had possessed themselves of the public monies; financial
edicts were issued which created fresh murmurs among the citizens; the
Princes assumed an attitude of stern and steady defiance; and the year
1616 closed amid apprehension, disaffection, and mistrust.


[196] Armand Jean du Plessis, afterwards the celebrated Cardinal de
Richelieu, was the third son of Francois du Plessis, Seigneur de
Richelieu, Knight of the Orders of the King, and Grand Provost of
France. He was born in Paris, on the 5th of September 1585; and having
been educated with great care, became an accomplished scholar. At the
age of twenty-two years he was received as a member of the Sorbonne; and
having obtained a dispensation from Paul V for the bishopric of Lucon,
was consecrated at Rome by the Cardinal de Givry, in 1607. On his return
to France he was introduced to the notice of Marie de Medicis by the
Marquise de Guercheville and the Marechal d'Ancre.

[197] Bassompierre, _Mem_. p. 96.

[198] Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mere et du Fils_, vol. i. p. 334.

[199] Continuation of Mezeray. _Hist. de France_.

[200] _Vie du Duc d'Epernon_, book iii.

[201] Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 439, 440. Mezeray, vol. xi. pp. 98, 99.
D'Estrees, _Mem_. p. 408.

[202] Nicolas Le Jay, Baron de Tilly, etc., Keeper of the Seals, and
First President of the Parliament of Paris. He rendered important
services both to Henri IV and Louis XIII, and acquired great celebrity
as a learned scholar and an upright minister. He died in 1640.

[203] Richelieu, _Mem_. book vi. pp. 268-272.

[204] Matthieu, _Hist, des Derniers Troubles_, p. 550.

[205] Fontenay-Mareuil, _Mem_. pp. 290-298.

[206] Henri, Duc de la Ferte de Senectere, Comte de Saint-Pol et de
Chateauneuf, Vicomte de Lestrange et de Cheylard, Baron de Boulogne et
de Privas, Seigneur de Saint-Marsal, de Ligny, de Dangu, de Precy, etc.

[207] Sismondi, vol. xxii. p. 348.

[208] Mezeray, vol. xi. pp. 101, 102. Le Vassor, vol. i. p. 464.

[209] The Duque d'Usseda was the son of the Duque de Lerma.

[210] Sismondi, vol. xxii. p. 351.

[211] Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 352-354.

[212] _Mercure Francais,_ 1615. De Rohan, _Mem_. book i. Mezeray, vol.
xi. pp. 105, 106.

[213] Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 498, 499. _Vie du Duc d'Epernon_, book vii.
_Mercure Francais_, 1616. Bassompierre, _Mem_. p. 110.

[214] Mademoiselle d'Entragues, who had endeavoured to compel
Bassompierre to fulfil the promise of marriage which he had made to her.

[215] The colonel-generalship of the Swiss Guards.

[216] The Princesse de Conti, whom he privately married.

[217] The Cardinal de Richelieu, who was exasperated at his marriage,
and through whose agency Bassompierre incurred his subsequent disgrace
and long imprisonment in the Bastille.

[218] Rambure, MS. _Mem_. vol. vi. pp. 380-386.

[219] Conference of Loudun at the close of the _Mem_. of Philippeau de
Pontchartrain, vol. vii. p, 315.

[220] Richelieu, _Mem_. vol. vii. p. 287. Le Vassor, vol. i. p. 450.

[221] Le Vassor, vol. i. p. 509. Richelieu, _Mem_. book vii. p. 288.
Pontchartrain, _Conference de Loudun,_ p. 406. Rohan, _Mem_. p. 134.
D'Estrees, _Mem_. p. 411.

[222] Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mere et du Fils_, vol. ii. p. 14.

[223] Sismondi, vol. xxii. p. 361.

[224] Le Vassor, vol. i. p. 514.

[225] D'Estrees, _Mem_. p. 411.

[226] Sismondi, vol. xxii. p. 363.

[227] Claude Mangot, President of the Parliament of Bordeaux, and
Assistant-Secretary of State.

[228] Pierre Brulart, Seigneur de Puisieux, son of Nicolas Brulart,
Seigneur de Sillery et de Puisieux en Champagne, Chancellor of France,
was Secretary of State. In 1622 he took Montpellier, and died in 1640.

[229] M. Barbin was Comptroller of the Household of the Queen-mother. "A
man of little consequence," says Philippeau de Pontchartrain; "but
upright, and well versed in business."

[230] Rohan, _Mem_. book i. _Mem. de la Regence de Marie de Medicis_.

[231] Francoise Bertaut, Dame de Motteville, was the daughter of Pierre
Bertaut, Gentleman in ordinary of the Bedchamber, and of Louise Bessin
de Mathonville, of the Spanish family of Saldana. At the age of fifteen
she married Nicolas Langlois, Seigneur de Motteville, a man already
advanced in years, but with whom she lived happy until 1641, when she
was left a widow with a very slender jointure. Two years subsequently,
at the age of twenty-two, she entered the household of Anne of Austria,
rather as a personal friend than as an official attendant; a post which
she retained for many years with honour, her sweetness of disposition
and total absence of ambition causing her to be respected by all
parties. She was present at the death of her royal mistress, who, by a
bequest of ten thousand crowns, enabled her to quit the Court, and to
devote her whole attention to the revision of her well-known Memoirs.
Intimately acquainted with Mesdames de la Fayette and de Sevigne, she
for some time maintained a constant intercourse with both; but on the
termination of her self-imposed task she retired to the convent of Ste.
Marie de Chaillot, where she died on the 29th of December 1689.

[232] Motteville, _Mem_, edition Petitot, vol. i. pp. 336, 337.

[233] Motteville, _Mem_. vol. i. p. 337.

[234] Mezeray, vol. xi. pp. iii, 112. Sismondi, vol. xxii. p. 365.

[235] Matthieu, _Hist. des Derniers Troubles_, book iii. p. 577.

[236] Bassompierre, _Mem_. pp. 113, 114.

[237] The Marechal d'Ancre had formed a large establishment by engaging
in his service a number of impoverished French nobles, whose necessities
had induced them to accept a thousand livres a year, and to submit to
the insults which were heaped upon them by their low-born patron.

[238] Bassompierre. _Mem_. p. 114. D'Estrees, _Mem_. p. 413. Richelieu,
_Hist. de la Mere et du Fils_, vol. ii. p. 57.

[239] Rohan, _Mem_. p. 141.

[240] Le Vassor, vol. i. p. 514.

[241] Sismondi, vol. xxii. p. 371, 372. D'Estrees, _Mem_. p. 412.
Bassompierre, _Mem_. p. 114. Mezeray, vol. xi. pp. 113, 114.

[242] Bassompierre, _Mem_. pp. 121, 122.

[243] Richelieu, _Mem_. book vii. p. 333. Fontenay-Mareuil, pp.

[244] Richelieu, _Mem_. book vii. p. 326.

[245] Sismondi, vol. xxii. p. 374.

[246] Ponce de Lauziere, Marquis de Themines, Senechal de Quercy, and
subsequently Marechal de France.

[247] Bassompierre, _Mem_. p. 117.

[248] Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 375, 376.

[249] Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 541, 542. _Mem. de la Regence de Marie de

[250] On Twelfth-Night in France a bean is introduced into the cake, and
the person selecting the slice in which it has been concealed is elected
King for the evening.

[251] Bassompierre, _Mem_. p. 117.

[252] Rohan, _Mem_. p. 141. Fontenay-Mareuil, p. 350. D'Estrees, p. 414.
Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 542, 543. Brienne, _Mem_. vol. i. pp. 315, 316.

[253] Manuscript Memoirs of the Cardinal de Richelieu in the archives of
the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

[254] M. de Saint-Geran was an ensign of the gendarmes of the King's
bodyguard, and one of the nobles who were known by the soubriquet of
_The Seventeen_, among whom were the Marquis de Crequy and Bassompierre.
He was a devoted ally of the Duc de Sully.

[255] Bassompierre, _Mem_. p. 118. Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 378, 379.
Richelieu, _Mem_. book vii. p. 335.

[256] Richelieu, _Mem_. book vii. p. 335.

[257] Unpublished _Mem_. of Richelieu in the archives of the Foreign

[258] Richelieu, _Mem_. book vii. p. 359.

[259] Unpublished _Mem_. of Richelieu.

[260] Richelieu, _Mem_. book vii. p. 368. Fontenay-Mareuil, p. 361.

[261] Fontenay-Mareuil, book iii. p. 369.

[262] Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 387, 388.



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

In the month of January the Comte d'Auvergne, who had recently been
liberated from the Bastille, was despatched at the head of fourteen
thousand men against the insurgent Princes; and his departure was made a
pretext for depriving the young King of the gentlemen of his household
and of his bodyguard, an insult which he deeply although silently
resented. He had been attacked in the November of the preceding year by
an indisposition which for a time had threatened the most serious
consequences, and from whose latent effects he had not yet recovered. As
time wore on, moreover, he was becoming more and more weary of the
insignificance to which he was reduced by the delegated authority of his
mother; and had easily suffered himself to be persuaded by De Luynes
that her repeated offers to resign it had merely been designed to make
him feel the necessity of her assistance. As we have already shown,
Louis XIII derived little pleasure from the society of his young and
lovely wife; he made no friends; and thus he was flung entirely into the
power of his wily favourite, who, aware that the King could hate,
although he could not love, was unremitting in his endeavours to excite
him against Marie de Medicis and her favourite. The infatuated Concini
seconded his efforts but too well; for, unable to bear his fortunes
meekly, he paraded his riches and his power with an insolence which
tended to justify the aversion of his enemies. On one occasion, shortly
after the dismemberment of his little Court, the monarch of France
having refused to join a hunting-party organized by the Queen-mother,
found himself entirely deserted save by De Luynes and a single valet;
and overcome by mortification and melancholy, he leant his head upon his
hand and wept bitterly. For some time not a sound was heard in the
Louvre save the soughing of the wind through the tall trees of the
palace-garden, and the measured tread of the sentinels, when suddenly a
tumult arose in the great court; the trampling of horses, the voices of
men, and the clashing of weapons were blent together; and dashing away
his tears, Louis desired his favourite to ascertain the cause of the

"It is the Marechal d'Ancre, Sire, who has just alighted," said De
Luynes as he approached the window.

In a few minutes the Italian was announced, and entered the royal
apartment followed by a train of forty gentlemen all magnificently
attired. At this spectacle Louis started from his seat; and with a
bitter smile inquired of the arrogant Marquis his motive for thus
parading before his sovereign a state which could only be intended as a
satire upon his own privations.

To this question the vainglorious adventurer replied in a tone of
affected sympathy and patronage which festered in the heart of the young
King; assuring him that his followers were at his own cost, and not at
that of the state; and concluding his explanation by an offer of
pecuniary aid, and a company of his regiment of Bussy-Zamet, which he
had just brought from Normandy. Justly incensed by such an insult, Louis
commanded him instantly to quit his presence; and he had no sooner
withdrawn, followed by his glittering retinue, than the young monarch
sank back upon his seat, and uttered the most bitter complaints of the
affront to which he had been subjected.[263]

"And to this, Sire," said De Luynes, as he stood beside his royal
master--"to this insult, which is but the precursor of many others, you
have been subjected by the Queen-mother."

"I will revenge myself!" exclaimed Louis with a sudden assumption of

"And how?" demanded the favourite emphatically. "You are called a King,
but where are your great nobles? where are the officers of your
household? where are your barons? So many princes, so many powers.
France has no longer a King."

"And my people?" shouted the excited youth.

"You have no people. You are a mere puppet in the hands of an ambitious
woman and an unprincipled adventurer."

"A puppet!" echoed Louis haughtily. "Do I not wear the crown of France?"

"So did Charles IX," was the unmoved reply; "yet he died to make way for
Henri III. Concini and his wife, Sire, come from the same country as
Catherine de Medicis. Isabeau de Baviere was a mother, yet she preferred
her lover to her son." [264]

"Enough, enough, Sir," said Louis, clutching the hilt of his sword; "I
will hear no more, lest it should make me mad!"

De Luynes bowed in silence; he knew that the poisonous seed was sown,
and he was content to wait until it should germinate.

The pecuniary difficulties of the kingdom exercised no influence over
the festivities of the Court; balls, banquets, and comedies took place
in rapid succession; and the young Queen danced in a ballet which was
the admiration of all the spectators; an example which was followed by
the nobles of the royal household.[265] Still, however, it was necessary
to recruit the national treasury; and, accordingly, on the 10th of March
a declaration was published by which the King confiscated all the
property of the disaffected Princes, and made it forfeit to the Crown;
while at the same time three separate bodies of troops attacked the
rebels with complete success, and the royal arms were everywhere
triumphant, when intelligence was forwarded to their leaders from the
capital which induced an immediate cessation of hostilities.[266]

We have seen the effect of the insolence of Concini, and the insidious
inferences of De Luynes, upon the mind of the young King, who had only
six months previously been taught a lesson of dissimulation on the
occasion of the arrest of Conde; and consequently it can scarcely be
subject of surprise that, wounded to the heart's core, he was easily
persuaded to exert in his own cause the subtlety which he had evinced at
the bidding of another. He was now between fifteen and sixteen years of
age, and was deeply imbued by the idea that he possessed an unlimited
control alike over the properties, the liberty, the honour, and the
lives of his subjects; but he was still utterly incapable of fulfilling
his duties as a sovereign. His conceptions of right and wrong were
confused and unstable; and he willingly listened to the advice of those
whose counsels flattered his selfishness and his resentment. De Luynes
had skilfully availed himself of this weakness; and as he was
all-powerful with his suspicious and saturnine master, who saw in every
one by whom he was approached either an enemy to be opposed, or a spy to
be deceived, he was careful to introduce to him none save individuals
whose insignificance rendered them incapable of interfering with his own
interests, and who might be dismissed without comment or danger whenever
he should deem their absence desirable. Against this arrangement neither
the Queen-mother nor her ministers entered any protest. Louis truly was,
as his favourite had so insolently asserted, a mere puppet in their
hands; and the consequence of this undignified neglect was fatal to the
intellectual progress of the young sovereign. On the pretext of
requiring assistance in training the royal falcons, De Luynes had
presented to Louis two young nobles, MM. du Troncon and de Marcillac,
men of good birth, but who had become dishonoured by their own vices;
the former being accused of having betrayed his master, and the latter
his sisters in order to enrich himself;[267] facts of which the
favourite was, however, careful that the King should remain ignorant.

In addition to these disreputable adventurers, De Luynes also
introduced to the intimacy of his royal patron Deageant,[268] the
principal clerk of Barbin, whom he had won over by promises of
aggrandizement should he succeed in effecting the disgrace of Concini,
which, as a natural consequence, must also involve that of his master;
and, finally, a private soldier, and one of the gardeners of the palace.
All these persons were instructed to excite the suspicions of the King
against his mother and her ministers, a task in which it was by no means
difficult to succeed; particularly when the treacherous Deageant had
placed in his hands a number of forged letters, wherein Barbin, at the
pretended instigation of Concini, was supposed to entertain a design
against his life, in order not only to prolong the authority of the
Queen-mother, but also to ensure the crown to her second and favourite
son, Gaston d'Orleans.[269]

Skilfully as De Luynes conducted this affair, and despite the natural
dissimulation of Louis XIII, the reiterated assertions and cautions of
his familiar associates did not fail to produce an involuntary effect
upon his manner and deportment which aroused the suspicions of the
Italian; who, with an infatuation almost incredible, instead of
endeavouring to conciliate the young King, and to render himself less
obnoxious to the people, resolved to make all bow before him, and to
break the stubborn spirits that he failed to bend. In this desperate and
insane policy he was, moreover, seconded by the counsels of Barbin,
whose impetuous temper and anxiety to secure his own safety alike urged
him to support any measure which promised to maintain the government in
the hands of Marie de Medicis and her favourite, in whose ruin he could
not fail to be involved. So intemperately, indeed, did he pursue his
purpose, that even Marie herself became alarmed; her most faithful
adherents were absent with the army, while she had daily evidence of the
activity of her enemies; and more than once at this period she declared
her determination to withdraw from all participation in state affairs,
and to resign her delegated authority, in order that her son might rule
as he saw fit. From this purpose she was, however, constantly dissuaded
by Barbin. "Madame," he said on one occasion when the Queen-mother
appeared more than ever resolved to follow out her determination, "if
you once abandon the administration of government you will cut the
throats of your children. Should you cease to rule they will be utterly
lost." [270]

No wonder that her tenderness as a mother, joined to her ambition as a
Queen, induced Marie de Medicis to yield to the representations of one
of her most trusted counsellors, even while the cloud was deepening
around her. As the great nobles murmured at the insolence and tyranny
of the audacious Italian, their murmurs were echoed by the curses of the
people; and in every murmur and in every curse the name of the
Queen-mother was coupled with that of Concini and his wife. Even the
Marechal himself at length betrayed tokens of alarm; he never ventured
to traverse the streets of Paris without a numerous retinue, and even so
attended he cowered beneath the menacing looks and gestures which he
encountered on all sides. Again and again he urged Leonora to leave
France; but he urged in vain; and finally he resolved to take measures
for securing a safe retreat in his government of Normandy, should he be
compelled to escape from the capital. As a preliminary and important
step towards the accomplishment of this purpose, he caused the
fortifications of Quilleboeuf to be put into a state of perfect repair,
and endeavoured to purchase the governments of several other places upon
the Loire and the Seine; which, had he been enabled to carry out his
object, could not have failed to render him independent of the royal
authority. He also lavished large sums on every side, in order to secure
partisans; and so excited the apprehensions of the citizens that bitter
complaints were made, and threats uttered against himself, his royal
mistress, and the new ministry.

All these, many of which had been fomented by themselves, were
faithfully reported by De Luynes and his agents to the young King, to
whom they pointed out the probability of a general insurrection.

"What is to be done?" exclaimed Louis on one occasion; "the Marechal
d'Ancre has, as it would seem, undertaken the ruin of my kingdom, and
yet I dare not expostulate with my mother, for I cannot encounter
her rage."

This puerile avowal decided the measures of the confederates; and ere
long they succeeded in convincing the King that it would be quite
possible to accomplish the overthrow of Concini without exposing himself
to the anger which he dreaded.

On the 17th of January a royal declaration was confirmed by the
Parliament against the Duc de Nevers, who, although not yet in open
revolt, was condemned as guilty of rebellion and _lese-majeste_; and
this premature act of severity caused general discontent throughout the
capital. In vain did his sister the Dowager Duchess of Longueville and
Bentivoglio the Papal Nuncio endeavour to effect his reconciliation with
the Court. At the instigation of Richelieu, Concini, and Barbin, Marie
de Medicis imperiously refused to revoke, the sentence.

"The period of forbearance is gone by," she said coldly in reply to the
persevering representations of the prelate. "Indulgence has proved
ineffectual hitherto; and it has consequently become imperative upon the
King to adopt more rigorous measures. These gentlemen are enacting the
petty sovereigns in their respective governments, but I shall take steps
to repress their insolence. Things have now been pushed to extremity;
and we must either crush these rebellious and restless spirits, or
permit the royal authority to be wrested from the sovereign."

Still, aware of the fatal consequences which must result from the
uncompromising condemnation of one of the first Princes in the land,
Bentivoglio would not be discouraged; and on retiring from the presence
of the Queen-mother he reiterated his expostulations to Concini and
Richelieu. With them, however, the zealous Nuncio achieved no
better success.

"His Majesty," said the Italian Marshal haughtily, "will ere long
possess an army of eighty thousand infantry and four thousand horse; the
Comte de Schomberg[271] has received an order to import experienced
troops from Germany; and I have determined to raise five thousand men at
my own cost; being resolved to teach the French people how all the
faithful servants of the Crown should feel it their duty to act on such
an emergency." [272]


The new Secretary of State followed in the track of his patron, and
with equal explicitness: "The King, Monseigneur," he replied to the
appeal of the Nuncio, "is resolved to be the ruler of his own nation;
and his Majesty trusts, moreover, that should the Duc de Nevers and the
other Princes openly take up arms, the Pope will excommunicate them as
rebels to their sovereign." [273]

In addition to the discontent created among the people by this
ill-judged pertinacity on the part of Marie and her Government, a new
cause of disaffection was elicited by the harshness with which the
Queen-mother refused to comply with the demand made by the two
Princesses of Conde, that the Prince should either be released from the
Bastille, or put upon his trial, in order that he might prove his
innocence of the crime of which he was accused. Compliance with this
request would have placed Marie and her ministers in a position of such
difficulty and danger that it was, moreover, refused with an abruptness
which not only betrayed their alarm, but which also tended still further
to aggravate the irritation of his friends; and thus at a moment when
the interests of the young King required that none but conciliatory
measures should be adopted, the reckless ambition of a few individuals
threatened to shake the very foundations of his throne, and to reduce
the nation to a state of anarchy and convulsion.

The time was ripe for the project of De Luynes. The royal forces were
everywhere victorious against the insurgent nobles; and Concini openly
attributed to his own counsels a success which promised to make him
all-powerful at Court.

"You see, Sire," said the favourite, "that this arrogant Italian, not
content with insulting your royal person, also claims the merit due to
your brave army, and to your faithful generals. Will you continue to
suffer this presumption to degrade you in the eyes of your people, and
to undermine your authority over your barons? Take the reins of
government into your own hands, and prove that you are a worthy
descendant of St. Louis. Reform the Government, and you will soon
restore tranquillity to France; but do not any longer submit to see a
base-born foreigner openly play the sovereign at your very Court."

"Show me the means of doing this," was the sullen reply; "I am as
anxious as yourself to escape my present state of slavery. Devise some
sure method of ridding me of the thrall to which I have been so long
condemned, and I will second your designs as earnestly as you can
decide them."

"You have but to assert yourself, Sire, and to exert your authority."

"Were I to do so," retorted Louis, "I should only incur the hatred and
ill-offices of my mother, for I should forthwith visit my vengeance upon
her favourite; but we have had brawls enough in France, and I am weary
of all these conflicting murmurs. Induce the Marechal and his wife to
quit the country; let them carry away all their wealth, and even bribe
them, by new gifts should it be necessary. Impoverished as she is,
France will still be able to find a few thousand crowns with which to
purchase their departure."

Although this extraordinary leniency by no means fulfilled the wishes of
De Luynes, he dared not venture further at the moment; and he
accordingly induced the Bishop of Carcassonne to propose to the
Queen-mother that she should herself suggest the return of Concini and
Leonora to Italy. A year or two previously Marie de Medicis would have
repelled such a proposition with anger and impatience, but she had begun
to feel that her own authority had been invaded by the Marechal; and she
consented to act upon the advice of the prelate.

Heart-stricken by misfortune, the Marechale listened without one
expostulation to the order of her royal foster-sister; her ambition had
long been crushed, and she pined for rest. Aware, moreover, that by
obeying the wishes of the Queen-mother she should also fulfil those of
her husband, she promised immediate compliance with the will of Marie,
and forthwith commenced the necessary preparations.

This unqualified acquiescence in the pleasure of the Queen did not,
however, satisfy the views of De Luynes, who could not brook that the
immense wealth of the Marechal d'Ancre should pass into other hands than
his own; and he consequently laboured to impress upon the King that the
apparent obedience of Concini was a mere subterfuge, as he publicly
boasted that France contained not a single individual who would dare to
attempt anything to his prejudice.

"Convince him to the contrary, Sire," said one of his confidential
friends to the young monarch. "Declare to the Queen-mother your
determination to be governed no longer in your own kingdom, although you
are still willing to be guided by her advice; and then command the
instant departure of her dissimulating favourites. Do this, and you will
not fail to be obeyed."

"Be not misled, Sire," said De Luynes in his turn, when this officious
but well-meaning counsellor had withdrawn; "your Majesty will not be
obeyed so readily as many would lead you to anticipate. Concini is too
rapacious willingly to leave the country while there remains one jewel
to be filched from your royal crown; and he is too ambitious to abandon
without a struggle the factitious power which he has been permitted to
exert." [274]

"What is to be done then, if the Italian refuses to quit France? I am in
no position to compel his obedience, nor am I inclined to issue an
order which I cannot enforce."

"Sire," said De Luynes approaching the monarch, the querulousness of
whose manner warned him that unless he caused him to fear for his
personal safety Louis would rather retire from the struggle than brave
the anger of his mother, of whom he even now stood as much in awe as he
had done during his childhood, "I see that the moment is at length come
in which I must peril my own security in order to ensure that of your
Majesty. You have no longer an alternative if you desire to escape the
machinations of the Marechal d'Ancre. I have sure information that an
attempt is about to be made to seize your person, and to take you out of
the country."

"You rave, De Luynes!" exclaimed Louis, whose cheeks blanched at this
unexpected announcement.

"Would that I did, Sire," was the reply; "but should you not adopt
immediate measures for circumventing the traitor whom I have denounced
to you at the hazard of my own life, you will find that I have only too
much foundation for the assertion that I have made."

"In that case," vehemently retorted the young King, grasping the hilt of
his sword, "it is indeed time that France should recognize her
legitimate ruler, and that her monarch won his golden spurs. I will
leave Paris, and place myself at the head of my army."

"Concini will then remain in undisputed possession of the capital,"
remarked De Luynes coldly.

"What is my alternative, Albert?" demanded Louis, utterly discouraged.
"Name it, and I will no sooner have become in fact as well as name the
sovereign of France than you shall receive the _baton_ of a marshal,"

"Commit M. d'Ancre to the Bastille, Sire. It is difficult to conspire
within the gates of that fortress."

"Where shall I find an individual hardy enough to undertake such an

"I will present him to your Majesty within an hour, Sire."

"So be it, M. le Marechal," said Louis as he turned away. "My mother had
the courage to provide a lodging for the first Prince of the Blood in
the same prison, and I do not see why I should shrink from compelling
him to share his dungeon with the husband of Leonora Galigai."

While this plot was forming in the closet of the young King, Marie de
Medicis was warned on her side that should she not adopt the most
stringent measures to counteract the intrigues of De Luynes, she would
soon lose all her authority over the mind of her son, who had latterly
betrayed increased impatience of her control; and who was evidently
desirous to emancipate himself from the thraldom to which he had
hitherto so patiently submitted. Bassompierre among others, with his
usual frankness, replied to his royal mistress, when she urged him to
declare his sentiments upon the subject: "You have been well advised,
Madame; you do not sufficiently consider your own interests; and one of
these days the King will be taken from beneath your wing. His adherents
have commenced by exciting him against your friends, and ere long they
will excite him against yourself. Your authority is only precarious, and
must cease whenever such may be the will of the sovereign. He will be
easily persuaded to annul it, for we know how eagerly youth pants for
power; and should his Majesty see fit one day to remove to St. Germain,
and to command his principal officers, both Frenchmen and foreigners, no
longer to recognize your rule, what will be your position? Even I
myself, whose devotion to your Majesty is above suspicion, should be
compelled to take my leave, humbly entreating your permission to obey
the orders of the King. Judge therefore, Madame, if such must inevitably
be the case with those who are deeply attached to your royal person,
what may be the bearing of the rest. You would find yourself with your
hands empty after a long regency."

Marie, however, refused to be convinced. She had become so habituated to
the passive obedience of her son that she could not bring herself to
believe that he would ever venture to resist her will; and thus she
rejected the wholesome advice of those who really desired her own
welfare and that of the country; and increased the exasperation of Louis
and his followers by lavishing upon Concini and his wife the most costly
presents, in order to reconcile them to their enforced separation from

The profuse liberality of the Queen-mother to her favourites sealed
their death-warrant, as every increase of their already almost fabulous
wealth only strengthened the determination of De Luynes to build up his
own fortunes upon the ruin of those of his detested enemy; but after the
first burst of resolution which we have recorded, Louis had once more
relapsed into vacillation and inertness. He still wept, but he no longer
threatened; and it became necessary yet further to excite his
indignation and hatred of Concini, in order to induce him to follow up
the design which he had so eagerly formed against his liberty.

Means were not wanting. The young King was reminded by those about him
of the niggardly spirit in which the Italian had supplied his wants
during his boyhood, after having obtained the sanction of the Regent to
regulate the expenses of his little Court. How often he had been
compelled to ask as a favour that which was his own by right, while
Concini was himself daily risking thousands of pistoles at the
gaming-table, all of which had been drawn from the royal treasury! How
insolently the Marechal had, upon an occasion when he was engaged at
billiards with his Majesty, requested the royal permission to resume his
plumed cap, and had replaced it on his head before that permission was
expressed; with a hundred other trifling but mortifying incidents which
made the blood of Louis boil in his veins, and placed him wholly in the
power of his insidious associates.[276]

In order to hasten the resolution of the King De Luynes next resolved to
impress upon his mind that his former warning was about to be realized,
and that ere long he would find himself a prisoner in his own capital;
while, with a view to render this declaration plausible, he took means
to have it reported to Marie de Medicis that Louis was about to escape
from Paris, to cast off her authority, and to form a coalition with the
insurgent Princes. In consequence of this information the counsellors of
the Queen-mother induced her to double the guard at the Louvre, and to
prevent the King from passing the city gates, either for the purpose of
hunting, or of visiting, as he was frequently in the habit of doing, the
suburban palaces. This was a crowning triumph for the cunning favourite,
who thus saw his royal master reduced to seek all his recreation in the
gardens of the Tuileries; and he soon became convinced that his project
had succeeded. For a few days Louis was too indignant to make any
comment upon the treatment to which he was subjected, and he even
affected to derive amusement from constructing miniature fortresses,
bird-hunting, and other similar pursuits; but it was not long ere he
became disgusted with these compulsory pastimes, and wandered moodily
through the avenues of the gardens, communing with his own thoughts,
and nursing the bitter feelings which were rapidly sapping his
better impulses.

When he had thus convinced himself that the King's powers of endurance
had reached their extreme limit, De Luynes and his confederates on one
occasion entered his chamber in the evening, but instead of suggesting
to the young monarch, according to their usual habit, some method of
whiling away the time until he retired to rest, they approached him with
a melancholy and almost frightened deportment which at once aroused
alike his curiosity and his apprehension. "What is the meaning of your
manner, gentlemen?" asked Louis. "What has occurred?"

His attendants glanced at each other, as if trusting that some one of
their number would be bold enough to take the responsibility of a reply
upon himself; but no one spoke.

"I have asked a question, and I demand an answer," said Louis with a
threatening frown. "Do the very members of my household--those who call
themselves my friends--forget that, spite of all my trials, and all my
privations, I am still the King of France?"

"Sire," murmured the one upon whom his eye had rested as he spoke, "it
is because we are devoted heart and soul to your Majesty that you see us
in this mortal anxiety. In losing you we should lose everything; but
since it is your command that we should tell you all, it is our duty to
obey. The citizens of Paris are in a state of consternation. All your
loyal subjects fear for your life. Tears and sobs are to be heard on
every side. You are in the hands of Italians--of the countrymen and
countrywomen of Catherine de Medicis; and everything is to be
apprehended from people who know so well how to work out their ends
by poison."

"Is it come to this?" gasped the young King as he sank back upon his
chair. "Am I to die mocked as I have lived? A sovereign without a will,
a king without a throne, a monarch without a crown? The tool of needy
adventurers and intriguing women? the victim of treachery and murder?"
and the credulous boy leant his head upon his hands, and wept.

Before the chamber of Louis was closed that night upon his confidential
friends it was decided that the weapon of the assassin and the axe of
the executioner should rid him of Concini and his wife; and that his
mother should be banished from the Court.

When the King awoke on the following morning De Luynes was already at
his bedside, in order to counteract by his specious arguments and gloomy
prognostics any less violent and criminal decision at which his royal
master might have arrived during the solitude and silence of the night;
and ably did the tempter perform his task. An increase of devotion and
respect was skilfully blended with an apparent anxiety and alarm, which
flattered the self-esteem and vanity of Louis, at the same time that
they renewed all the terrors of the previous evening. His feeble
remonstrances were overruled; his filial misgivings were stifled; and
the favourite at length quitted his presence satisfied that he would not
seek to retract his orders.

The advice of De Luynes was not needed when he implored his Majesty to
observe the greatest circumspection until the important design was
carried out, for, naturally timid and suspicious, Louis was already an
adept in dissimulation; and the idea instantly occurred to him that
should Concini or Leonora once have cause to apprehend that he meditated
their destruction, his own life would pay the forfeit. De Luynes,
however, strange as it may appear, was less discreet, and admitted so
many persons to his confidence that rumours of their peril reached the
ears of the Queen-mother and her favourites; but, unhappily for
themselves, they despised both the King and his minion too much to
attach any importance to the idea of danger from such a quarter.
Satisfied that Louis still pursued his boyish sports, which as a measure
of precaution he had resumed apparently with greater enthusiasm than
ever, and that he could not leave the capital without the express
permission of Marie de Medicis herself, they considered themselves safe;
and thus lulled into a fatal security, took no measures to avert the
impending catastrophe.[277]

The mind is a species of moral daguerreotype; surround it with images of
order, virtue, and beauty, enlighten it by the sun of truth, and every
object will trace itself unerringly upon the surface, remaining
engraven there for ever; but, on the other hand, if the accessories be
evil, it will in like manner become invested with the attributes amid
which it exists, and the luminous spark will be darkened by the
pernicious atoms that have been suffered to collect about it.

Louis XIII of France was at this moment an illustration of the
principle. His boyhood and his youth had alike been familiar only with
intrigue, deception, jealousy, and falsehood. His habits were at once
saturnine and selfish; his temper gloomy and distrustful, and his
feelings cold and self-centred. His youth had already shadowed forth
his manhood.

De Luynes was aware that he should experience little difficulty in
finding the man he sought, when he assured his royal master that he knew
one bold enough to attempt the life of Concini; his selection was indeed
already made, and he had no misgiving of a refusal. The Baron de Vitry,
captain of the bodyguard then on duty at the Louvre, and who was
peculiarly obnoxious to the Italian favourite, returned his hate so
openly that he refused to salute him as he entered and quitted the
palace, and publicly declared that no command, come from whence it
might, should ever compel him to do so.[278] De Luynes no sooner felt
that a man of this determination might be useful than he sought his
friendship; and now that the conspiracy had become ripe, he sent to
invite him to an interview, during which he assured him that the King
had great confidence not only in his affection for his person, but also
in his inclination to serve him when the opportunity should present
itself; that he believed him capable of great deeds, and that he would
confide his life to him.

De Vitry was a soldier of fortune, dependent upon his sword, and the
little sentiment that he possessed was at once awakened by so unexpected
a communication. As a natural consequence, therefore, he protested his
readiness to risk life and limb at the pleasure of his Majesty; and
declared that, whatever might be the nature of the service required of
him, he would execute it without hesitation or remonstrance.

On receiving this pledge, De Luynes, after exacting an oath of secrecy
and obedience, beckoned to his companion to follow him; and throwing
open the door of the royal closet, which was never closed against him,
he introduced De Vitry without further preamble into the presence of
the King.

"M. de Vitry," said Louis, when the favourite had explained the errand
of the captain of the royal guard, "I thank you for your zeal, and I
have faith in its sincerity. The Marechal d'Ancre has conspired against
my life. He must sleep to-morrow night in the Bastille."

"He shall be there, Sire, should the fortress still possess a bolt to
draw upon him, if it be your royal will that I accomplish his arrest."

"M. de Vitry, you will have earned a marshal's _baton_."

"Sire!" exclaimed the soldier, dropping on his knee before the King, "I
will obey you to the death."

"I must never again be insulted by his presence," said Louis, fixing his
eyes, which flashed for an instant with a threatening light, full upon
the upturned countenance of De Vitry. "Rise, Sir," he added as he turned
suddenly away, "I have perfect confidence in your fidelity."

"But--should he resist, Sire?" asked the new conspirator, anxious not to
exceed his orders.

"Kill him!" replied De Luynes in a hoarse whisper. "Do you not yet
understand how you are to earn your _baton_?"

The two friends exchanged glances; and after a profound bow, De Vitry
withdrew from the royal closet.

The indiscretion of De Luynes had been so great that a rumour of the
perilous position of Concini did not fail to reach the ears of
Richelieu. We have already stated that on his arrival at Court the
Bishop of Lucon had been warmly patronized by the Italian favourite, who
openly declared that he had found a man capable of giving a lesson _a
tutti barboni_,[279] thereby alluding to the ancient ministers of Henri
IV;[280] and that it was moreover through his agency that Marie de
Medicis had appointed the wily prelate Secretary of State; but Richelieu
was too subtle a diplomatist to allow a feeling of gratitude to
interfere with his advancement; and he consequently no sooner
ascertained beyond all possibility of mistake that his two patrons, the
Queen-mother and her favourite, were about to succumb to the insidious
attack of De Luynes, than, anxious to retain office, he hastened to
despatch his brother-in-law, M. de Pontcourlay, to the latter, with
instructions to offer his services, and to assure him that he had only
consented to accept the charge which he then held in order that he might
through this medium be enabled to devote himself to the interests of
the King.

Anxious to strengthen his party, De Luynes received the advances of
Richelieu with great courtesy, although he was far from desiring the
co-operation of so dangerous an ally; and a day or two subsequently the
treacherous prelate was introduced into the private closet of Louis;
where, in addition to his previous professions, he went so far as to
pledge himself to the young monarch that he would give him timely
intimation of the most hidden designs of the Queen-mother and the
Marechal d'Ancre.

It was at length decided that Concini should die on Sunday the 23rd of
April; but as the day approached Louis became terrified at his own
audacity, and it required all the influence of De Luynes and his
brothers to prevent his retracting the fatal order which he had given.
He was too young coldly to contemplate treachery and murder, and withal
so helpless in the event of failure, that his conscience and his
timidity alike urged him to revoke the sentence of the unsuspecting
victim; nor was he ultimately induced to persevere, until reminded by
his insidious advisers that too many persons were now aware of his
intentions for them to remain secret, should their execution be
long delayed.

On this occasion, however, although every preparation had been made,
Concini was saved by a mere accident. He chanced to be delayed as he was
about to leave his house, and did not in consequence reach the Louvre
until the King had quitted the palace in order to attend mass at the
chapel of the Petit Bourbon. Instead, therefore, of proceeding in the
first place to the apartments of his Majesty, as had been anticipated,
the Marechal no sooner ascertained that Louis was already gone than he
hastened to pay his respects to the Queen-mother, for which purpose he
took a different direction. This unexpected impediment greatly
embarrassed the conspirators, who, secure of success, had displayed an
extraordinary want of caution. In addition to his brother M. du Hallier,
Vitry had assembled a great number of his friends in the court of the
palace, who, although they all wore their cloaks, had nevertheless
allowed it to be perceived that they carried pistols in their belts,
contrary to the edict forbidding the use of such weapons within the
limits of the royal residence. In compliance with the commands of Louis
himself, moreover, the bodyguard were under arms; and the unwonted
movement in the immediate vicinity of his apartments was so evident,
and withal so threatening in its aspect, that a rumour soon spread
through the palace that some serious enterprise was in contemplation.

And meanwhile the young monarch was on his knees before the altar of his
God, praying, or seeming to pray; asking that his trespasses might be
forgiven as he forgave those who trespassed against him; although he
anticipated that before his return to his desecrated palace-home the
deed of blood would be accomplished. Suddenly, however, his devotions
were interrupted by the entrance of De Vitry into the chapel, who,
approaching De Luynes, whispered to him the tidings of his
disappointment. In another second the lips of the favourite touched the
ear of his royal master, to whom he hurriedly murmured--

"Sire, the man you wot of is now in the apartment of the Queen-mother.
What do you decide? All is in readiness."

"Touch him not in her presence as you value your lives," was the
agitated reply; "we shall find him at the Louvre on our return."

A brief interval of suspense succeeded. The prelate who had officiated
then uttered the final blessing; and as the carriage which contained the
King and his favourite entered the palace by one gate, that of Concini
quitted it by another. Inexperienced as he was, however, Louis at once
perceived that he was no longer in a position to recede; and hasty
orders were issued to Vitry and his friends to accomplish their fatal
project on the following day, while the King at the same time secretly
commanded that the light horse of his bodyguard, and the members of his
household, should be in attendance at an early hour in the morning, as
well as a coach and six, at the entrance of the grand gallery. The
pretext for this arrangement was a hunting-party; but its actual
intention was to ensure and protect the King's flight, should his
purpose prematurely transpire or prove abortive. And meanwhile Marie de
Medicis slept, wholly unsuspicious of the change which was about to be
effected in her fortunes!

There is something singularly appalling in all the circumstances which
formed the prelude to this contemplated tragedy. Hitherto the
Queen-mother had created dangers for herself--had started at
shadows--and distrusted even those who sought to serve her; while her
son, silent, saturnine, and inert, had patiently submitted to the
indignities and insults which had been heaped upon him, as though he
were either unconscious or reckless of their extent; and the Italian
adventurer had braved his enemies, and appeared to defy fate itself.
Now, however, when the blow was about to be struck, when the ball and
the blade were alike ready to do their deadly office, all the principal
personages in the bloody drama had suddenly assumed new characters.
Marie slept; the boy-King had become the head of a conspiracy; and the
Marechal d'Ancre, enriched and ennobled beyond the wildest dreams of his
ambition, was preparing to quit the country of his adoption, and to
seek rest and peace in his own land. Another month, perhaps another
week, and he would have left France, probably for ever.

History presents few such anomalies; and it appears scarcely credible
that so ill-organized a plot, hatched, moreover, under the very eyes of
those who were to become its victims, and revealed to upwards of a score
of persons, many of whom were incited to join it from merely venal
motives, should ever have attained its accomplishment. The fiat had,
however, gone forth; and the unfortunate Concini, whose tragical fate
compels sympathy despite all his faults, entered the court of the Louvre
at ten o'clock in the morning of the 24th of April 1617, there to meet
his death.

An hour or two after dawn one of the gentlemen of the royal bedchamber
announced that the King having been indisposed throughout the night, the
great gates of the Louvre were to remain closed, and the public
excluded, in order that his Majesty might not be disturbed. This order
did not, however, affect the Marechal d'Ancre, as he was no sooner seen
to approach, followed by a numerous retinue of gentlemen, and attended
by several of his friends, than the bolts were withdrawn, and he was
permitted to pass the barrier, which was instantly closed again, to the
exclusion of the greater number of his suite. A man who had been
stationed over the gate then waved his hat three times above his head,
upon which De Vitry, who had until that moment been seated in one of the
windows of the guard-room calmly conversing with the officers on duty,
immediately rose, and drawing his cloak closely about him, hurried down
the staircase, at the foot of which he was joined as if accidentally by
Du Hallier and others of the conspirators, who, apparently engaged in
conversation, slowly approached their intended victim. Among the persons
who surrounded Concini there chanced to be several who were acquainted
with De Vitry, and greatly to his annoyance he was compelled to allow
the Marechal to pass on while he returned their greetings; in a few
moments, however, he again found himself at liberty, when he discovered
that amid the crowd he had lost sight of the Italian.

"Where is he?" he inquired hurriedly of one of his confederates.

"Yonder," was the reply; "he has stopped at the foot of the bridge to
read a letter."

De Vitry sprang towards his prey; and as Concini, absorbed in his
occupation, still read on, he felt the grasp of a strong hand upon his
arm, and on looking up he saw the Captain of the Guard standing at his
side. Before he had time to inquire the meaning of this affront, De
Vitry had already uttered the ominous words, "I arrest you in the
King's name."

"Arrest me!" exclaimed the Marechal, with astonishment, as he clutched
the hilt of his sword.

"Yes, you," replied De Vitry haughtily; and while he spoke he made a
signal, which was instantly responded to by the simultaneous report of
three pistol-shots. As the sounds ceased Concini dropped upon his
knees, and fell against the parapet of the bridge. Several weapons were
then thrust into his body; and finally De Vitry, with wanton and
revolting cruelty, gave him so violent a kick that he extended his body
at full length upon the pavement, where it was immediately pilfered of
every article of value; among other things, diamonds of great price and
notes of hand to a large amount were abstracted from the pockets of his

A few of his followers endeavoured to interpose; but in a second or two
all was over, and they were warned by the bystanders instantly to
sheathe their swords, and to beware of opposing the orders of the King.
They had scarcely had time to obey this bidding when Louis presented
himself at the window of a closet adjoining the guard-room, to which,
from its height, he was obliged to be lifted by M. d'Ornano;[282] there,
by the advice of those about him, the young King appeared with a smile
upon his face; and as the members of the cabal raised a cry of "Vive le
Roi!" he shouted to his Captain of the Guard, "I thank you, Vitry; now I
am really a King." Then showing himself, sword in hand, successively at
each window of the guard-room, he cried out to the soldiers who were
posted beneath, "To arms, comrades, to arms!"

Meanwhile De Vitry, by the direction of De Luynes, proceeded to the hall
occupied by the bodyguard of the Queen-mother, and demanded their
weapons, which they refused to deliver up without an express order to
that effect from their own officers; upon which the latter were
commanded in the name of the King to withdraw their men, and to remain
in the antechamber of their mistress. The royal guards then took
possession of all the approaches to the Louvre; and horsemen were
despatched with instructions to traverse the streets of the capital, and
to apprise the citizens of the death of Concini. A dense crowd soon
collected in the court of the Louvre, and cries of "Vive le Roi!"
resounded on all sides.

A murder had been committed, and the ovation was one which would only
have befitted a victory. Louis XIII had proclaimed himself a King, and
the hand with which he grasped his sceptre was steeped in blood. Louis
"the Just"--we append to his baptismal appellation that which was
gravely conferred upon him on this occasion by both clergy and
laity--stood an undisguised assassin and a moral matricide before the
people who were about to be subjected to his rule.[283]

Within an hour not only was the Queen-mother a prisoner in her own
apartments, but the seals were restored to M. du Vair, and Barbin was in
the Bastille _in the most rigorous confinement_.[284] These
precautionary measures taken, Louis proceeded to the grand gallery
leaning upon the arm of De Luynes; and on perceiving M. de Brienne, who
with many other nobles had hastened to present his respects and
congratulations (!) to the young monarch, he was so little able to
control his delight that, without awaiting the salutation of the Count,
he exclaimed triumphantly, "I am now a King, and no one can take
precedence of me." [285]

Shortly afterwards the King encountered the Bishop of Lucon-Richelieu,
whose confident deportment betokened his conviction of a gracious
reception, as he prepared to pay his court in his turn; but the
compliments of the prelate were abruptly broken in upon by an imperative
command to quit the palace, and the announcement of his discontinuance
in office. No wonder that Richelieu murmured under his breath at this
unlooked-for severity; for he had in truth that very morning striven to
merit the royal smile--striven against conscience, however, and all the
holiest and most sacred feelings of humanity. One of the friends of
Concini, alarmed by the ominous proceedings at the Louvre, and
instinctively persuaded that the life of the Italian was threatened, had
hurriedly despatched a letter to Richelieu, in which he stated his
reasons for the apprehensions he expressed; and urged the prelate, in
memory of the many services for which he was indebted to the intended
victim, to interpose his influence in his behalf, and to endeavour to
avert the blow. The Bishop, who had not yet left his bed, glanced over
the missive, thrust it beneath his pillow, desired the messenger to
withdraw, and remained quietly in his chamber until he was apprised by
the tumult without that all was over. Then, and not till then, he
hastened to the Louvre; where we have already stated the nature of his

As the throng of nobles increased, and crowded about the King so as
considerably to inconvenience him, he was lifted upon a billiard-table,
from which extraordinary eminence he received their compliments and
congratulations upon the murder to which he had been accessory only an
hour before; and which the First President of the Parliament of Paris
(whose extreme haste to pay his court to his new master was such that,
being unable immediately to procure a carriage, he proceeded to the
Louvre on foot) designated _his happy deliverance_.[286] Nothing, in
short, but plumed hats sweeping the marble floor, flexile forms bending
to the earth, and lips wreathed in smiles, was to be seen in the kingly
hall in which Henri IV had loved to discuss grave topics with his sturdy
minister, the Duc de Sully, and which Marie de Medicis, in her day of
pride and power, had enriched with the glorious productions of her
immortal _protege_, Rubens the painter-prince, as she was wont to call
him. None cared to remember at that moment that Henry the Great was in
his grave, and that his royal widow had been sacrificed to the
insatiable ambition and the quenchless hate of a low-born minion.

But it is now time that we should return to the Queen-mother.

Alarmed by the report of firearms within the boundary of the palace,
Marie de Medicis, who had not yet completed her toilet, desired Caterina
Selvaggio to throw open one of the windows, and to demand the cause of
so singular and unpardonable an infraction of the law. She was obeyed;
and the Italian waiting-woman no sooner perceived De Vitry advancing
below the apartments of her royal mistress than she inquired of him what
had occurred.

"The Marechal d'Ancre has been shot," was his abrupt reply.

"Shot!" echoed Caterina; "and by whom?"

"By myself," said De Vitry composedly; "and by the command of the King."

"Madame!" exclaimed the terrified attendant, as she rushed to the side
of the Queen-mother, "M. le Marechal has been killed by order of
his Majesty."

Marie de Medicis started from her seat; her cheeks were blanched, her
lips quivered, and she wrung her hands convulsively, as she gasped out,
"I have reigned seven years. I must now think only of a crown
in heaven."

Her attendants, stupified with terror, rapidly gathered round her; and
ere long she learnt that her guards had been disarmed, and replaced by
those of the King. She listened vaguely to each successive report, and
paced the room with rapid but uncertain steps. At length she exclaimed
vehemently, "I do not regret that my son should have taken the life of
Concini, if he believed it necessary to the safety of his kingdom; but
his distrust of myself in concealing such a project from my knowledge is
more than I can bear."

When the first violence of her emotion had subsided she sank into a
seat, and with clasped hands and drooping head appeared to be absorbed
in deep and bitter thought; for at intervals the blood mounted to her
brow and burned there for a time, after which she again became pale as
ashes, and as motionless as a corpse. She was still in this attitude
when one of her confidential servants imprudently approached her, and
inquired how the melancholy event was to be communicated to the
Marechale d'Ancre? "Perhaps," he incautiously suggested, "your Majesty
will condescend to acquaint her with it yourself."

Marie de Medicis suddenly raised her hand, swept back her dishevelled
hair from her face, and fixing her flashing eyes upon the officious
gentleman, passionately replied, "I have other things to attend to at
this moment. If no one can tell the Marechale that her husband has been
killed, _let them sing it to her_. Let me never again hear the name of
those people. I told them long ago that they would do right to return to
Italy. Yes," she continued, more particularly addressing the Dowager
Duchess of Guise, the Princesse de Conti, and the other ladies who were
standing near her, "they have at last accomplished my ruin. I foresaw
it; I warned them, but they would not be convinced. I told Concini that
he had no time to lose, but with his habitual self-sufficiency he
declared repeatedly that the King became more courteous to him every
day. I was not deceived, however; I charged him not to trust to
appearances, for that Louis never said all he thought; he disregarded my
words, and he has now involved me in his own destruction." [287]

After this outburst of temper no one ventured to intrude even a remark
upon the Queen-mother, who once more fell into a deep reverie, from
which she, however, ultimately aroused herself to demand M. de
Bressieux.[288] The equerry immediately approached.

"Go, sir," she said, "to his Majesty, and request that he will grant me
an interview."

Her command was obeyed, and in a few moments De Bressieux found himself
in the presence of the King, to whom he delivered his message.

"I am occupied at present," was the cold reply; "and the visit of the
Queen must be delayed until a better opportunity. Tell her, however,
from me that I shall always honour her, and that I feel towards her all
the sentiments of a good son; but God willed that I should be born a
King, and I am resolved henceforth to govern for myself. It is desirable
that the Queen should have no other guards but mine. Let her know that
such is my will."

Marie de Medicis listened incredulously when, on his return to her
apartment, the equerry announced the failure of his mission. She would
not comprehend that the stripling who had until that day shrunk before
her frown could thus suddenly have acquired the necessary courage to
brave her authority; and once more M. de Bressieux was instructed to
urge her request upon the King. As he reached the royal anteroom her
envoy encountered De Luynes, who dreaded nothing so much as a meeting
between the mother and son, which could scarcely fail to prove fatal to
himself; and he accordingly reported the return of the applicant in a
manner which induced Louis to exclaim impatiently, "If he is here by
desire of the Queen his mistress, tell him that there is nothing to
apprehend, as I shall treat her well." [289]

Still Marie de Medicis would not be discouraged. She felt that in order
to avert the ruin which impended over her she must put every instant to
its use; and accordingly M. de Bressieux was a third time despatched to
solicit in still more urgent terms that she might be permitted to see
his Majesty, were it only for a few moments. But, unfortunately for the
agonized Queen, the triumphant favourite was as fully aware as herself
of the value of time at so critical a juncture; and he had accordingly
profited so well by the opportunities which he was enabled to command,
that on this last occasion the Marquis was rudely ordered to abstain
from all further intrusion upon his Majesty unless he wished to repent
his pertinacity within the walls of a prison.

Convinced at last that there was no hope through her own agency of
effecting her object, the Queen-mother next endeavoured to secure its
accomplishment through the medium of her daughter-in-law, the two
Princesses, and the Duc d'Anjou; but when she summoned them to her
apartment, she was informed that each and all had been forbidden to hold
any intercourse with herself until the pleasure of the King should be
made known.

The despair of the unhappy Marie was at its height; and as she paced her
apartment, and approached a window looking upon the gardens, she
discovered that a bridge which she had caused to be constructed for the
purpose of reaching them without being compelled to traverse the
galleries of the palace, was already in process of demolition; while she
was also made aware that every other avenue leading to her apartments
was strictly guarded, and thus she saw herself a prisoner in her own
palace and entirely at the mercy of her son's advisers. Even yet she
struggled against so cruel a conviction; and, eager to test its truth,
sent to desire the presence of one of her confidential friends. Her
messenger was not, however, permitted to accomplish his errand, but
returned with the heart-sickening intelligence that thenceforward her
Majesty would not be permitted to hold any communication, save with the
members of her own immediate household, without the express sanction of
the King.[290]

While the Queen-mother was still writhing under this new indignity, the
unfortunate Leonora, who had been apprised of the murder of her husband,
rushed into the apartment, and flinging herself at the feet of her royal
foster-sister, implored her protection for herself and her young son;
but sudden adversity had steeled the heart of Marie de Medicis, and
sternly upbraiding her former favourite as the cause of her own
overthrow, she refused to afford her any aid, and commanded her
instantly to retire. The wretched woman obeyed without comment or
remonstrance; and having regained her own apartment, which was
immediately contiguous to that of the Queen, she hastened to conceal the
Crown jewels which were in her keeping between the mattresses of her
bed, with the exception of the rings, which were of great value, and
which she habitually wore. This task accomplished, she threw herself
upon her miserable couch to await in trembling and in tears the next act
of the frightful tragedy in which she was called upon to play so
conspicuous a part. Her suspense was not of long duration, as only a few
minutes had elapsed when a tumult was heard without, amid which cries of
"Vive le Roi!" "Vive M. de Luynes!" and "Death to the Italian!" were
distinctly audible.

Leonora bounded from her recumbent position like a lioness at bay. Her
parted lips were bloodless, her breath came quick and hard, and her
heart heaved by its violent pulsations the rich velvet of the robe in
which she was attired.

"My child!" she at length gasped out, as her attendants gathered about
her--"save my child! He at least is guiltless."

The appeal was not made in vain. M. du Rouvray[291] took her little son,
the Comte de la Pena, by the hand, raised him in his arms that his lips
might once more touch those of his mother, and then, without uttering a
syllable, led him from the apartment. In another instant the Norman
noble was once more at her side. "The child is in sure hands," he said
hurriedly; "and now, Madame, to provide for your own safety. Follow
me--you have no time to spare."

It was, however, already too late; for as Du Rouvray ceased speaking, De
Vitry, still reeking with the blood of Concini, stood upon the threshold
of the chamber, attended by a troop of halberdiers.

"You are my prisoner, Madame," he exclaimed harshly: "prepare to
accompany me to the Bastille."

"I am ready, Sir," replied the Marechale, with the composure of utter
despair, "All is as it should be. The murderer of the husband is well
fitted to be the gaoler of the wife."

The rings belonging to the Crown were then removed from the fingers of
the Marquise; and upon her refusal to reveal where the remainder of the
jewels were secreted, her apartments were strictly searched; and not
only were the royal ornaments carried off by De Vitry and his
companions, but also every other article of value which fell into their
hands. While this unmanly outrage was going on around her, the Marechale
d'Ancre passively permitted her women to fasten her mantle, and to
adjust her mask and hood; her thoughts were evidently elsewhere. Within
a few yards of where she was then seated, and within hearing of the
tumult occasioned by the reckless insolence of the men-at-arms by whom
she was surrounded, her foster-sister, the playmate of her girlhood, the
friend of her youth, and the protectress of her latter years--whose
tears she had so often wiped away, whose sorrows she had so often
soothed, and whose hopes and fears she had equally shared throughout so
long a period--remained cold and unmoved by her misery. It was a bitter
pang: and drops of anguish, wrung from the deepest recesses of a
bursting heart, fell large and heavy upon the cheek of the new-made
widow and the abandoned favourite, and moistened her clasped hands.
None, however, heeded her agony; each of her attendants, whatever might
have been the previous attachment of all to her person, was absorbed by
her own terrors; while the strangers who had invaded her privacy were
eager, under the specious pretext of performing their duty to the King,
to avail themselves to the uttermost of so favourable an opportunity of
furthering their individual interests.

At length all was over: every cabinet and chest had been ransacked to
its deepest recesses; every article of use or ornament had been
displaced in search of plunder; and the wretched Leonora was warned that
it was time to depart. She rose silent and rigid; and as De Vitry
preceded her from the room, his guards closed up behind her. A carriage
was in waiting at the foot of the staircase by which she descended; the
twilight was rapidly deepening into night, and her melancholy path was
lighted at intervals by the torches of the numerous attendants who were
hurrying through the corridors in the service of their several
employers. The long dark shadows of the Louvre lay heavy on the dull
pavement of the court, save where they were broken at intervals by the
resinous flambeaux which glared and flickered against the walls of the
building. All looked wild, and sad, and strange; and not one kindly
accent fell upon the ear of the unhappy captive as she was hurried
onward. A few harsh words were uttered in a tone of authority: she was
lifted into the conveyance which had been prepared for her: the
cavalcade slowly traversed the enclosure; and then as the iron gates of
the palace were passed, the horses were lashed into a gallop; and in
less than an hour the life-long companion of Marie de Medicis,
husbandless, childless, and friendless, was an occupant of the gloomy
prison-chamber which had recently been vacated by the Prince de Conde.

The noise created by the entrance of the new prisoner, the clashing of
arms, the grating of the heavy portcullis, as it groaned and strained in
its ascent, the dull fall of the drawbridge, the voices of men, and the
rattling of wheels, awakened the Prince; who, with the natural weariness
of a captive, had already retired to rest. Summoning an attendant he
demanded to know the cause of the disturbance.

"It is M. de Vitry, Monseigneur," was the reply; "who has just
transferred the Marechale d'Ancre to the safe keeping of the governor."

"Good!" said the Prince, as he once more settled himself to sleep; "I
have now one enemy the less." [292]

This rapid succession of misfortunes produced an extraordinary effect
upon the sensitive organization of Leonora Galigai. As we have already
hinted, she had for a considerable period suffered under mental
hallucination; and the disease had latterly fastened so tenaciously upon
her system that she had even shunned the presence of the Queen,
believing that every eye which rested on her produced some baneful
result; while her very attendants were dismissed from her presence when
they had terminated their duties, and she thus remained hour after hour
in solitude, brooding over the sickly fancies of her disordered brain.
The sight of her husband's murderer had, however, instantly and for ever
restored the healthful tone of her mind. She did not weep, for she had
already exhausted all her tears; she asked no mercy, for she was aware
that, whatever might be her fate, she was alike prejudged and
pre-condemned; but she resigned herself passively into the hands of her
persecutors, with a Spartan firmness which she maintained to the last
hour of her existence.

Who shall venture to follow her to her prison-cell, and to trace the
tide of back-flowing thought which rolled like a receding wave from the
present to the past? Now, indeed, she left little behind her to regret.
From the husband to whom she had once been devoted with a love which
blinded her to all his errors and to all his egotism, she had, during
the last two years, been almost utterly estranged; her first-born and
idolized daughter was in her grave; the royal friend and almost
relative, to whom she had clung from her youth up, had refused even a
tear to her sufferings, or a shelter to her peril; her hoarded wealth
was in the hands of her enemies; and of all that she once boasted there
remained only her son. And what might be his fate?

But memory held wider stores than these; and who can doubt that
throughout that first long night of captivity they were probed to their
very depths! What palace-pageants--what closet-conspiracies--what
struggles for pre-eminence and power--what heart-burnings at defeat, and
exultation at success--must have swept hurricane-like across her
awakened soul, to be forgotten in their turn as she recalled the
childish sports of her early and hopeful years, under the sunny sky and
among the orange-groves of her native Florence, where, with her royal
playmate, she chased the hours along as though they were made only for
the happy!

Did she sleep the weary and outworn sleep of the wretched while those
sweet and soothing visions were still busy at her heart? And if so,
breathes there one who would have roused her, whatever may have been her
faults, from such a slumber?


[263] Richelieu, Unpublished MSS.

[264] Mezeray, vol. xi. p. 134.

[265] Bassompierre, _Mem_. p. 123.

[266] Bassompierre, _Mem_. p. 126. D'Estrees, _Mem_. p. 418.

[267] Richelieu, _Mem_. book viii. p. 411.

[268] Deageant was a man of considerable talent, but crafty and
ambitious; his whole career was one of deceit and truckling. After
numerous vicissitudes he was committed to the Bastille, where he
beguiled the weariness of captivity by composing his Memoirs.

[269] Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 391, 392. Le Vassor, vol. i. p. 583.
Richelieu, Unpublished MSS.

[270] Siri, _Mem. Rec_. vol. iv. pp. 29-31. _Mercure Francais_, 1617.

[271] Henri de Schomberg was the representative of an ancient family of
Meissen established in France. He succeeded his father, Gaspard de
Schomberg, in the government of La Marche, and in 1617 served in
Piedmont. He was also one of the generals of Louis XIII, in 1621 and
1622, and in 1625 was created Marshal of France. He distinguished
himself by defeating the English in the battle of the Isle de Rhe in
1627, and in forcing the defile of Susa in 1629. In the following year
he took Pignerol. He was then despatched to Languedoc against the
rebels, and in 1632 gained the battle of Castelnaudary, at which the Duc
de Montmorency was made prisoner. For this victory he was invested with
the government of Languedoc. He died in 1633.

[272] In his _History of the Parliament of Paris_, Voltaire, whose
party-spirit was ever too ready to betray his judgment, and to obscure
his genius, has not hesitated, in allusion to the arrogant boast of the
Italian adventurer, to express himself thus:--"This Concini, at this
very time, performed an action which merited a statue. Enriched by the
liberality of Marie de Medicis, he raised at his own expense an army of
between five and six thousand men against the rebels; he supported
France as though she had been his native country." It is impossible to
dwell upon the career of Concini, and not be startled by so
extraordinary an encomium.

[273] _Mercure Francais,_ 1617. Siri, _Mem. Rec_. vol. iv. pp. 27-35.

[274] Deageant, _Mem_. pp. 38-44.

[275] Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 614-617. Deageant, _Mem_. pp. 43-56.
Bassompierre, _Mem_. pp. 123, 124.

[276] Siri, _Mem. Rec_. vol. iv. pp. 26, 27. Relation de la mort du
Marechal d'Ancre, at the end of the _Histoire des Favoris_.

[277] Deageant, _Mem_. pp. 56, 57.

[278] Richelieu, _Mem_. book viii. p. 416.

[279] Brienne, _Mem_. vol. i. p. 300 _note_.

[280] Deageant, _Mem_. p. 48. Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 625, 626.

[281] Brienne, _Mem_. vol. i. p. 329.

[282] Alphonse d'Ornano, colonel-general of the Corsican troops in the
French service, and himself a native of Corsica, was the son of San
Pietro di Bastelica, a man of low birth, who attained to the rank of
colonel of the Corsican infantry in France, and who married (in 1548)
Vanina d'Ornano, the daughter and heiress of one of the most wealthy
nobles in Corsica. The avowed enemy of the Genoese, by whom himself and
his family were proscribed and banished from their native island, San
Pietro strangled his wife with his own hands on discovering that she had
attempted to escape from Marseilles in order to obtain a revocation of
the edict issued by the Genoese in 1563. Alphonse, the son of San
Pietro, to whom his very name had become odious, adopted that of his
mother, under which he rendered important services to Henri IV during
the wars of the League, and by whom he was first appointed lieutenant of
the King in Dauphiny, and subsequently Marshal of France (1595). He died
in 1620, at the age of seventy-two. He was a man of probity, but had
inherited the violent character of his father.

[283] Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 625-632. Brienne, _Mem_. vol. i. p. 327.
Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 393-395. Mezeray, vol. xi. pp. 134-136.
Matthieu, _Hist. des Derniers Troubles_, book iii. p. 603.

[284] Richelieu, Unpublished MSS. The words underlined in the text are
in the Cardinal's autograph on the margin of the manuscript.

[285] Brienne, _Mem_. vol. i. p. 327.

[286] Le Vassor, vol. i. p. 637. Sismondi, vol. xxii. p. 396.

[287] _Lumieres pour l'Histoire de France_. Le Vassor, vol. i. pp. 634,

[288] The Marquis de Bressieux was first equerry to Marie de Medicis.

[289] Siri, _Mem. Rec_. vol. iv. pp. 61, 62.

[290] Rambure, MS. _Mem_. vol. vii. p. 66. Mezeray, vol. xi. p. 138.
Bassompierre, _Mem_. p. 126.

[291] Louis, Sieur du Rouvray, was a Norman noble, and a descendant of
the celebrated Louis du Rouvray, who was one of the hundred and eighty
devoted men who in 1421 shut themselves up in the Mont Saint-Michel, in
order to defend it against the English.

[292] Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mere et du Fils_, vol. i. p. 219.



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

On the return of De Vitry from the Bastille he found the hotel of the
Marechal d'Ancre entirely pillaged, not even excepting the chamber of
the little Comte de la Pena, whose escape having been prevented, he was
also placed under arrest, and left until the following morning without
clothes, food, or bed. On the morrow, however, the Comte de
Fiesque,[293] touched by the extreme beauty and desolate condition of
the child, and probably anxious to secure one friend to him in his
necessity, became answerable for his safe keeping; and, wrapping him in
the cloak of one of his lackeys, he carried him to the Louvre, and
introduced him to the young Queen, informing her Majesty that no one at
Court could dance a _branle_ in such perfection. Anne of Austria was
enchanted with the beauty of the boy, who had just attained his twelfth
year, and whose intellect was as remarkable as his person; but giddy,
thoughtless, and ever eager for amusement, the girl-Queen, overlooking
the fatal circumstances in which he was placed, immediately commanded
that he should exhibit his talent; and the poor fatherless child, whose
whole career had been blighted only a few short hours before, was
compelled to this unseemly display; after which he was regaled with
sweetmeats, and returned to the custody of his gaolers, by whom he was
shortly afterwards imprisoned in the castle of Nantes.[294]

While this incredible scene was being enacted in an apartment of the
palace, another of a far more terrible nature was to be witnessed in the
streets of Paris; but before we describe this, we must explain all that
had passed since the murder of the Marechal d'Ancre. As we have already
stated, the body was pillaged where it lay; and then, as no further
booty could be anticipated, it was carried into a small closet attached
to the common guard-room, where it remained until nightfall, when a
coarse sheet, for which fifty sous were given, was folded about it, and
it was buried without any religious ceremony under the organ of the
church of St. Germain l'Auxerrois near the Louvre. A priest who
attempted to chant a funeral-hymn as it was laid in the earth was
compelled to desist, in order that the place of burial might not be
known; and the flags which had been raised were so carefully replaced
that it was only by secret information that the spot could possibly have
been discovered. This information was however given; and early in the
morning the pavement was torn up, and a rope fastened round the neck of
the corpse, which was then dragged through the streets by the infuriated
mob; and the desecrated remains of the recently powerful favourite were
hung by the feet to a gibbet, dismembered in the most brutal manner, and
finally burned.[295]

At the close of this tragedy the Baron de Vitry received the wages of
his brutality, and found himself before sunset a Marshal of France:
while Du Hallier his brother became his successor as Captain of the
Royal Guard; and Persan, the husband of his sister, who had also
assisted in the massacre of Concini, was recompensed by the lieutenancy
of the Bastille, and entrusted with the safe keeping of the Prince de
Conde. On the same day it was publicly proclaimed in the streets of
Paris that all the relatives and adherents of the Marechale d'Ancre were
forthwith to leave the capital, and that the Sieur de Vitry had acted
throughout the late execution by the express command of the King; the
ministers who had recently held office under the Queen-mother were
dismissed, and those whom she had displaced were restored to power; De
Luynes was formally invested with the confiscated property of Concini;
and a new Government was organized which had for its leading object the
subversion of all previously concerted measures.[296]

The death of Concini no sooner became known in the provinces than the
Duc de Mayenne resigned Soissons and all the other towns and fortresses
throughout his government into the hands of the King. Both parties
suspended hostilities; and the royal troops and those of the insurgents
drank and feasted together in a general rejoicing. This example was
followed by the army in Champagne; and on every side the rebel Princes
declared their readiness to offer their submission to the King. The
moment was a perilous one for De Luynes, but to Louis it afforded only
triumph and exultation; and ere long the self-exiled nobles reappeared
in the capital, where they were graciously received. On the 12th of May
a declaration was registered by the Parliament in which their past
offences were pardoned, and they were assured that thenceforward they
would be held as good and loyal subjects to the Crown; while no single
exception was made save in the person of the Prince de Conde, who was
still retained a prisoner in the Bastille, and who appeared to be
totally forgotten by his former adherents.

Rendered confident by this increase of strength, Louis remained
inflexible to the tears and prayers of his mother, and readily suffered
himself to be persuaded by those about him that she had, in conjunction
with Concini, determined to take his life by poison in order to place
the Duc d'Anjou upon the throne. In vain did the estimable Marquise de
Guercheville throw herself at his feet, and offer the most solemn
assurances of the innocence of her unhappy mistress: she was listened to
with impatience, and dismissed with an abruptness which left no room for
hope.[297] Meanwhile the captivity of Marie de Medicis became each day
more irksome, through the unrestrained insolence of De Vitry, who caused
her apartments to be searched by the officers under his command, her
chests to be emptied, and even her bed to be displaced. The Queen
devoured her mortification, and bore the insult in silence; but Madame
de Guercheville could not restrain her indignation, and insisted upon
learning the reason for such an outrage.

"I am ordered to ascertain, Madame," was the reply of the individual to
whom she addressed herself, "if there be not a cask of powder in these
apartments destined to destroy the King who sleeps above."

"Let them obey their orders," said Marie coldly; "their employers are
capable of even more than this." [298]

As she learnt each successive arrival at Court, the unfortunate Princess
trusted from day to day that her position would be ameliorated through
the influence of some of her former friends; but until the Duc de Rohan
reached the capital none of the great nobles appeared to remember her
existence. Well might the Duke exclaim when he learnt how utterly
friendless she had become in her adversity, "There are few generous and
bold enough to cleave to the misfortunes of those whom they honoured in
their prosperity." [299] He was himself, however, one of those noble
exceptions; and although he excited the undisguised displeasure of De
Luynes, he persisted in demanding the royal sanction to pay his respects
to the Queen-mother; an example which was subsequently followed by
Bassompierre, who, being unable to obtain the permission which he
sought, availed himself of the medium of the Queen's tailor to offer his
assurances of devotion and fidelity to her person, through the Duchesse
de Guise and the Princesse de Conti.[300]

Weary of her utter isolation in a palace of which she had so lately been
the undisputed mistress, and where she had received the homage of all by
whom she was approached; heart-sick and disgusted with the ingratitude
of those whose fortunes had been her own work; and pining for that rest
which she could never hope to find amid the persecutions to which she
was daily subjected, Marie de Medicis at length resolved to retire to
Moulins in the province of Bourbon, which was one of her dower-cities;
and she accordingly sent to request the consent of the King to her

This was precisely what De Luynes had hoped; and his exultation was
consequently great. Her exile by the command of her son might have
excited a murmur, and he had therefore forborne from advising such a
step; but when it could be publicly asserted that the Queen-mother was
about to leave the Court for a few months by her own express desire, not
even those who still remained faithful to her cause would be enabled to
resent her absence. Her demand under such circumstances could not fail
to prove successful; and it was conceded by Louis himself with the
greater alacrity that her presence as a prisoner in the Louvre was
irksome and painful to a youth whose conscience was not yet totally
seared; and who professed, even while exposing her from hour to hour to
the insults of his hirelings, to feel towards her "all the sentiments of
a good son."

The contemplated retirement of Marie de Medicis from the capital soon
became publicly known, and at once decided the measures of Richelieu. He
himself informs us that immediately after his cold reception by the King
he despatched his valet to assure the Queen-mother of his sympathy in
her sorrows, and of his anxiety to serve her;[301] nor could he fail to
believe that such an assurance at such a moment had produced the desired
effect, unconscious as the unfortunate Marie must necessarily have been
of the circumstances which had induced him to feel for her reverses when
all the other members of the Court were intent only upon winning the
good graces of the monarch and his favourite. The time was now come, as
he at once saw, to profit by so signal a proof of policy and
forethought; and Richelieu was prepared to use it with the craft and
cleverness which were destined to shape out his future fortunes. To his
active and ambitious spirit a residence in the capital in the character
of a deposed minister was impossible; while he equally deprecated the
idea of burying himself in his diocese among the marshes of Lower
Poitou. He resolved, therefore, to share the exile of the Queen-mother,
and by this display of devotion to gain her confidence; while, at the
same time, he communicated his intention to De Luynes in a manner which
ensured its sanction. Few words were needed. Ere the conference was at
an end the favourite was aware that no _safer_ person could be admitted
to the privacy of Marie de Medicis; while Richelieu had, on his side,
been careful to avoid any acknowledgment of the real motive by which he
was influenced.[302]

"You incur no risk by acceding to his request, Sire," said De Luynes in
a subsequent interview with the King; "M. de Lucon will understand how
to calm the mind of the Queen-mother, and to advise her as we could
wish. He may be the means of establishing a good understanding between
you; and even should he fail to do this, it will be easy to compel him
to reside in his diocese, or to banish him to a distant province, should
your Majesty not be satisfied with his conduct."

"It must not be expected," gravely observed Richelieu in his turn, while
negotiating the arrangement, "that I should act as a Court spy when I am
admitted to the confidence of the Queen; nor that I should report all
which may take place; but to this I will pledge myself--that I will
immediately retire to Lucon should she refuse to be guided by my advice,
or adopt any resolutions inimical to the interests of the King."

It would have been unreasonable to require more, and with a thrill of
pleasure to which she had been long a stranger, the beguiled Queen
learnt that the Bishop of Lucon-Richelieu had received the royal
permission to devote himself to her fallen fortunes. This was, indeed,
more than she had ever ventured to hope, for she was capable of
appreciating to the utmost the talents of the individual who thus, as
she fondly believed, sacrificed his own interests to her necessities;
and she consequently lost no time in making him the medium of her
communications with the King. Before her departure she was anxious to
secure such terms as might tend, in some degree, to diminish the
bitterness of her exile; and she accordingly availed herself of the
services of her new adherent to convey her wishes to Louis. These were
that she might be permitted to reside for some days at Blois, until the
castle of Moulins, which had been uninhabited for a considerable time,
could be prepared for her reception; that she might be informed of the
number and identity of those who would be allowed to follow her in her
retreat; that she might retain unlimited authority in the place of her
residence; that she should be immediately informed whether it were the
pleasure of the King that she should be left in possession of the whole
of her revenues, or restricted in her income, in order that she might be
prepared to regulate the expenses of her household accordingly; and,
finally, that her son would accord her an interview before her

In reply to these demands, Louis, after having conferred with his
favourite, replied that, had circumstances permitted such a measure, he
should not, during the last few days, have deprived himself of the
happiness of her society, of which he had deeply felt the privation; but
that since it was her wish to retire from the Court, she was at perfect
liberty to reside at Moulins, or in any other city which she thought
proper to select, and to include in her suite all the individuals whom
she might be desirous of retaining about her person: that she was fully
authorized to exert the most absolute authority, not only in the city,
but throughout the province in which it was situated; and that so far
from seeking to diminish her resources, although they greatly exceeded
those of any previous Queen-Dowager of France,[303] he would willingly
augment them should she deem it necessary, even to his own
inconvenience; while as regarded her desire for a parting interview, he
could not, on his side, suffer her to leave the capital without assuring
her in his own person of his anxiety for her happiness.[304]

Despite these professions, however, it was agreed on both sides that
each party should previously arrange, and submit to the other, the
substance of all that was to pass between them; and in consequence of
this extraordinary arrangement Richelieu was desired by the Queen-mother
to compose her address to the King, which having been submitted to the
Council and approved, the reply of Louis was in like manner prepared by
the ministers. A flight of stairs alone separated the mother and the
son: the footsteps of the stripling monarch could be heard in the
apartment of Marie as he passed from one room to the other; and were not
the subject too sad for ridicule, it would be difficult to suppress a
smile at these puerile and undignified formalities. No political
negotiation was ever conducted, however, with more circumspection and
mutual distrust; every detail of the interview was regulated
beforehand; the two principal actors pledged themselves to say no more
than was set down for them; and each committed to memory the harangue
which was to be pronounced. The Princesses were to pay their parting
respects to the Queen-mother so soon as she should have assumed her
travelling-dress, but the nobles and officers of the Court were only to
be permitted to salute her after she had taken leave of the King; a
privilege from which, at her express request, De Vitry and his brother
were, however, excluded.

On the 4th of May, the day fixed for her departure from the capital,
Marie caused her ladies to dress her with extraordinary care, but at the
same time with extreme simplicity; the slighted mother and the humbled
Queen yet entertained a hope that the sight of her mourning attire and
subdued deportment might produce their effect upon her son; and as, at
the appointed hour, she left her chamber, and with words of gratitude
and affection joined her attendants, there was a faint smile upon her
lips, and a tremulous light in her dark eyes which betrayed her secret
trust. The members of her household were assembled in one of those noble
halls which were enriched by the grand creations of Jean Goujon,[305]
and the magnificent tapestried hangings that were subsequently
destroyed during the Revolution; they were grouped together near the
door by which she entered, and, despite every effort which she made to
overcome her emotion, Marie de Medicis could not suppress a sigh as she
marked how small a space they occupied in that vast apartment which had
so lately been thronged with princes and nobles, all professedly devoted
to her cause. Suddenly, as she was exchanging a few words with the
Marquise de Guercheville, the royal bodyguards appeared upon the
threshold; and a page, advancing one step into the hall,
announced--"The King!"

At the same instant Louis XIII appeared, with the Duc d'Anjou on his
right hand, leaning upon his favourite, preceded by Cadenet and Brantes,
and followed by the Prince de Joinville and Bassompierre. As he entered
the Queen-mother rose and curtsied profoundly, while the ladies and
gentlemen of her household imitated her example, as they retired a pace
or two behind her. Hitherto the Queen-mother had exhibited the most
perfect composure, but she no sooner found herself once more in the
presence of her son than she burst into a passionate flood of tears,
which she attempted to conceal as she approached him by spreading her
fan before her face. Louis moved forward in his turn, still clinging to
De Luynes, but no trace of emotion was visible in his countenance, which
was cold, and almost careless in its expression.

"Sir," said the unhappy Queen so soon as she had recovered her
composure, "the tender care with which I watched over your youth, the
efforts which I made for the preservation of your kingdom, the dangers
which I braved, and which I might have avoided had I been induced to
hazard the safety of your crown, will justify me before God, and prove
that I have never had any other view than that of securing your welfare.
I have repeatedly entreated that you would be pleased to take the reins
of government into your own hands, and relieve me from so heavy a
responsibility, but you considered my services to be necessary, and
commanded their continuance. I have obeyed you, both because I was bound
to respect your will, and because I felt that it would have been
cowardly to abandon you when you were threatened with danger.[306] If I
have failed to meet your wishes, or have contravened them, I can only
entreat of you to pardon me; and to believe that had you explained your
pleasure it should have been fulfilled. I rejoice that you are now about
to govern your kingdom in your own person; and I pray God to grant you
every prosperity. I thank you for the concessions which you have made;
and I trust that you will henceforward act towards me like a good son
and a good sovereign; while I, on my side, pledge myself that I shall
ever continue to be your very humble and very obedient mother
and servant."

"Madame," replied Louis in a cold and constrained tone, while the Queen
was still struggling to suppress her tears, "I am convinced that you
have always acted with the greatest zeal and affection. I am perfectly
satisfied, and beg to thank you. You have expressed a wish to retire to
Blois, and I have consented to that wish. Had you remained near me you
should still have retained that share in the government which you have
so long held; and you are still at liberty to do so, whenever you may
desire it. Rest assured that I shall never fail to love, honour, and
obey you as my mother upon every occasion; and that I shall continue
throughout my life to be your very humble son."

This notable oration had been delivered by the young King with all the
monotonous intonations of a studied recital, and was terminated by a
sigh of relief as he saw himself near the conclusion of the comedy. It
had been arranged that so soon as he ceased speaking the Queen should
stoop forward to embrace him; but in the excess of her agitation the
outraged mother disregarded the instructions which she had previously
received, and in an accent of heart-broken anguish she exclaimed: "I am
about to leave you, Sir; do not deny my last prayer. Release my faithful
Barbin, and suffer him to share my exile."

Louis, unprepared for this request, was uncertain how he should reply,
and glanced uneasily from De Luynes to Richelieu.

"Do not refuse me this, Sir," urged Marie once more; "it is the only
boon I ask--perhaps," she added after a moment's pause, "the last I
shall ever ask of you,"

Still Louis remained silent, with his cold stern eyes riveted upon her
agitated countenance.

The unfortunate Queen could not mistake the meaning of that fixed and
passionless look: her lip quivered for an instant, and then she bent her
stately head and slightly touched the forehead of her son. Louis replied
to the embrace by a profound and silent bow, and turned away hurriedly,
as if weary of the scene in which he had played so undignified a part.
As he moved aside, De Luynes approached the Queen-mother; and having
bent his knee, and kissed the hem of her robe, he uttered a few words in
so low a voice that they were inaudible to those who stood behind her.
In reply she was overheard to say that she had solicited his Majesty to
allow Barbin to follow her to Blois, and to continue his duties as
superintendent of her household; and that she should consider herself
greatly indebted to the kindness of the favourite if he would exert his
influence to that effect. De Luynes was about once more to speak, when
the voice of the King was heard loudly calling for him; and putting
forward as an excuse the impossibility of compelling his Majesty to
wait, he once more bowed to the ground, and made his retreat.

When she saw him disappear in the crowd Marie de Medicis gave free vent
to the emotion which she had so long partially controlled; and as the
other great nobles of the Court successively bent before her, she
remained with her face buried in her handkerchief, sobbing audibly, and
apparently unconscious of their homage. Ten minutes afterwards she
descended the great staircase, and took her seat in the coach which was
to convey her to Blois, accompanied by the Princesses and all the
principal ladies of the Court, who were to attend her to the city gates.

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