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

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It is sickening to be compelled to recapitulate the constant result of
such events in that age of servility and moral degradation. The
favourite, who by a word could have liberated the first Prince of the
Blood from the Bastille before he was transferred to the fortress of
Vincennes, bowed his haughty head to the dust before him, and entreated
his protection; while Conde, in his turn, on being introduced into the
presence of the King, demanded pardon upon his knees for an offence of
which he did not even know the nature; and which he could only estimate
by the extent of the chastisement that had been inflicted on him. This
idle ceremony accomplished, M. de Conde immediately found himself a
member of the Privy Council; all the honours of his rank as first Prince
of the Blood were accorded to him; and the King issued a declaration by
which it was asserted that his recent captivity had been the act of
"certain ill-advised persons who abused the name and authority of the
sovereign." [43]

This declaration excited the indignation of the Queen-mother and
Richelieu, by whose advice the arrest of Conde had been determined; but
while Marie loudly expressed her displeasure, the more cautious prelate
endeavoured to disguise his annoyance. He looked farther into the future
than his impetuous mistress, and he saw that his hour of revenge had not
yet come. De Luynes, anxious to appease the Queen, declared that the
obnoxious declaration had not been submitted to him before its
publication, and threw the whole blame upon Du Vair, by whom it was
drawn up; conjuring her at the same time to return to the capital, where
alone she could convince herself of his earnest desire to serve her.

The close alliance formed between Conde and the favourite sufficed,
however, to deter Marie from making this concession; while many of those
about her did not hesitate to insinuate that the respect with which the
Prince affected to regard her person, and the desire that he expressed
to see her once more at Court, was a mere subterfuge; and that his real
anxiety, as well as that of De Luynes, was to separate her from the
nobles of Anjou, and the friends whom she possessed in her own
government, in order that she might be placed more thoroughly in their
power. The Queen-mother was the more inclined to adopt this belief from
the circumstance that, even while urging her return, Louis had given her
to understand the inexpediency of maintaining so numerous a bodyguard,
when she should be established in the capital, as that by which she had
surrounded herself since her arrival at Angers; and this evident desire
on the part of the King to diminish at once her dignity and her
security, coupled with her suspicions of Conde and De Luynes, rendered
her more than ever averse to abandon the safe position which she then
occupied, and to enter into a new struggle of which she might once more
become the victim.[44]

On his return to Paris, after his interview with the Queen-mother, Louis
bestowed the government of Picardy upon De Luynes, who resigned that of
the Isle of France, which he had previously held, to the Due de
Montbazon his father-in-law. The two brothers of the favourite were
created Marshals of France; Brantes by the title of Duc de
Piney-Luxembourg--the heiress of that princely house having, by command
of the King, bestowed her hand upon him, to the disgust of all the great
nobles, who considered this ill-assorted alliance an insult to
themselves and to their order--while Cadenet, in order that he might in
his turn be enabled to aspire to the promised union with the widowed
Princess of Orange, was created Duc de Chaulnes. The latter marriage was
not, however, destined to be accomplished, Eleonore de Bourbon
rejecting with disdain a proposition by which she felt herself
dishonoured; nor can any doubt exist that her resistance was tacitly
encouraged by Conde: who, once more free, could have little inclination
to ally himself so closely with a family of adventurers, whose
antecedents were at once obscure and equivocal. This mortification was,
however, lessened to the discomfited favourite by the servility of the
Archduke Albert, the sovereign of the Low Countries; who, being anxious
to secure the support of the French king, offered to De Luynes the
heiress of the ancient family of Piquigny in Picardy, who had been
brought up at the Court of Brussels, as a bride for his younger brother.
Despairing, despite all his arrogance, of effecting the alliance of
Cadenet with a Princess of the Blood, the favourite gladly accepted the
proffered alliance; and M. de Chaulnes was appointed Lieutenant-General
in Picardy, of which province De Luynes was the governor, and where he
possessed numerous fine estates.

FOOTNOTES:

[24] Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 449, 450. Mezeray, vol. xi. p. 172.
Matthieu, _Hist, des Derniers Troubles_, book iii. p. 626.

[25] Le Vassor, vol. ii. pp. 71, 72. Mezeray, vol. xi. pp. 172, 173.

[26] Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 451, 452. Mezeray, vol. xi. p. 174.
Bassompierre, _Mem_. p. 129. Matthieu, _Hist. des Derniers Troubles_,
book iii. p. 621.

[27] Pierre de Berulle, the descendant of an ancient and noble family of
Champagne, was born on the 14th of February 1575, and soon became
remarkable for his virtue and science. He was the friend of St. Francois
de Sales, the founder of the Congregation of the Oratory in France, and
was promoted to the conclave by Urban VIII in 1627. He did not, however,
long enjoy his new dignity, having died at the altar while saying mass
on the 2nd of October 1629, before he had attained his fifty-sixth year.
He was the author of several theological works. An ably-written life of
the Cardinal de Berulle is due to the pen of M. Hubert de Cerisy.

[28] Rohan, _Mem_. book i. pp. 116, 117. Richelieu, _Hist, de la Mere et
du Fils_, vol. ii. pp. 353, 354. Le Vassor, vol. ii. p. 77. _Mercure
Francais_, 1619.

[29] _Vie de Du Plessis-Mornay_, book iv.

[30] Matthieu, _Hist, des Derniers Troubles_, book iii. p. 636.

[31] Le Vassor, vol. ii. p. 102. Deageant, _Mem_. pp. 203, 204. _Vie du
Due d'Epernon_, book viii.

[32] Mezeray, vol. xi. pp. 179-181. Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 452, 453.
Bassompierre, _Mem_. p. 129. Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mere et du Fils_,
vol. ii. p. 356. Siri, _Mem. Rec_. vol. iv. pp. 626, 627.

[33] Siri, _Mem. Rec_. vol. iv. pp. 631, 632.

[34] _Vie du Duc d'Epernon_, book viii.

[35] Siri, _Mem. Rec_. vol. iv. pp. 632, 633. Le Vassor, vol. ii. p.
115. Sismondi, vol. xxii. p. 454. Bassompierre, _Mem_. p. 129.
Fontenay-Mareuil, _Mem_. pp. 436-450. Richelieu, _Hist, de la Mere et du
Fits_, vol. ii. p. 372.

[36] Francois Le Clerc du Tremblay, known as the Capuchin Father Joseph,
was the elder son of Jean Le Clerc, President of the Court of Requests
at Paris, and of Marie de la Fayette. His sponsors were the Due
d'Alencon (brother of Francis II) and the Duchesse d'Angouleme, the
natural sister of that Prince. He was a man of great learning and
talent, but cunning, ambitious, and unscrupulous, who had attached
himself to the fortunes of Richelieu, of whom he was the _ame damnee_,
and who endeavoured to cause him, in his turn, to be admitted to the
honours of the conclave. He died suddenly at Ruel on the 18th of
December 1638; and some years subsequently the Duchesse de Guise having,
at her own expense, repaved the choir of the Capuchin church, the tomb
of _la petite Eminence Grise_, as he was familiarly called by the
Parisians, was placed beneath that of Pere Ange (the Cardinal-Due de
Joyeuse), in front of the steps of the high altar. Richelieu had caused
an eulogistic and lengthy inscription on marble to be affixed to his
sepulchre; but the Parisians, who more truly estimated his merits, added
others considerably more pungent, among which the most successful was
the following:--

"Passant, n'est-ce pas chose etrange
Qu'un demon soit aupres d'un ange?"

[37] Le Vassor, vol. ii. pp. 118, 119. Siri, _Mem. Rec_. vol. v. pp.
49-51. Mezeray, vol. xi. pp. 184, 185.

[38] Henri de Gondy, Master of the King's Oratory, and subsequently
Archbishop of Paris, on the resignation of his uncle Pierre, Cardinal de
Gondy, who died in 1616.

[39] Matthieu, _Hist. des Derniers Troubles_, book iii. p. 639.

[40] Le Vassor, vol. ii. pp. 121, 122.

[41] Siri, _Mem. Rec_. vol. v. pp. 53-56.

[42] Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 453, 454. Mezeray, vol. xi. pp. 187, 188.
Bassompierre, _Mem_. p. 129. Brienne, _Mem_. vol. i. p. 339. Richelieu,
_Hist. de la Mere et du Fils_, vol. ii. pp. 306-309.

[43] _Mercure Francais_, 1619. Le Vassor, vol. ii. pp. 150, 151. Siri,
_Mem. Rec_. vol. v. pp. 59-63. Mezeray, vol. xi. pp. 188-191.

[44] Le Vassor, vol. ii. pp. 153, 154.

CHAPTER III

1620

Louis XIII creates numerous Knights of the Holy Ghost without reference
to the wishes of his mother--Indignation of Marie de Medicis--Policy of
De Luynes--Richelieu aspires to the cardinalate--A Court quarrel--The
Comtesse de Soissons conspires to strengthen the party of the
Queen-mother--Several of the great Princes proceed to Angers to urge
Marie to take up arms--Alarm of the favourite--He seeks to propitiate
the Duc de Guise--The double marriage--Caustic reply of the Duc de
Guise--Royal alliances--An ex-Regent and a new-made Duke--The
Queen-mother is threatened with hostilities should she refuse to return
immediately to the capital--She remains inflexible--Conde advises the
King to compel her obedience--De Luynes enters into a negotiation with
Marie--An unskilful envoy--Louis XIII heads his army in Normandy--Alarm
of the rebel Princes---They lay down their arms, and the King marches
upon the Loire--The Queen-mother prepares to oppose him--She garrisons
Angers--The Duc de Mayenne urges her to retire to Guienne--She
refuses--Treachery of Richelieu--League between Richelieu and De
Luynes--Marie de Medicis negotiates with the King--Louis declines her
conditions--The defeat at the Ponts de Ce--Submission of the
Queen-mother--A royal interview--Courtly duplicity--Marie retires to
Chinon--The Ducs de Mayenne and d'Epernon lay down their arms--The Court
assemble at Poitiers to meet the Queen-mother--Louis proceeds to
Guienne, and Marie de Medicis to Fontainebleau--The King compels the
resumption of the Romish faith in Bearn--The Court return to Paris.

As no Chevaliers of the Order of the Holy Ghost had been created since
the death of Henri IV, their number had so much decreased that only
twenty-eight remained; and De Luynes, aware that himself and his
brothers would necessarily be included in the next promotion, urged
Louis XIII to commence the year (1620) by conferring so coveted an
honour upon the principal nobles of the kingdom. The suggestion was
favourably received; and so profusely adopted, that no less than
fifty-five individuals were placed upon the list, at the head of which
stood the name of the Duc d'Anjou. But although some of the proudest
titles in France figured in this creation, it included several of minor
rank who would have been considered ineligible during the preceding
reigns; a fact which was attributed to the policy of the favourite, who
was anxious to render so signal a distinction less obnoxious in his own
case and that of his relatives; while others were omitted whose
indignation at this slight increased the ranks of the malcontents.[45]

Marie de Medicis, who had not yet forgiven the royal declaration in
favour of the Prince de Conde, was additionally irritated that these
honours should have been conceded without her participation; for she
immediately perceived that the intention of the favourite had been to
reserve to himself the credit of obtaining so signal a distinction for
the noblemen and gentlemen upon whom it was conferred, and to render her
own helplessness more apparent. As such an outrage required, however,
some palliation, and De Luynes was anxious not to drive the Queen-mother
to extremity, he induced the King to forward for her inspection the
names of those who were about to receive the blue ribbon, offering at
the same time to include one or two of her personal adherents should she
desire it; but when, in running her eye over the list, Marie perceived
that, in addition to the deliberate affront involved in a delay which
only enabled her to acquire the knowledge of an event of this importance
after all the preliminary arrangements were completed, it had been
carefully collated so as to exclude all those who had espoused her own
cause, and to admit several who were known to be obnoxious to her, she
coldly replied that she had no addition to make to the orders of the
King, and returned the document in the same state as she had
received it.[46]

The indignation expressed by the Queen-mother on this occasion was
skilfully increased by Richelieu, who began to apprehend that so long as
Marie remained inactively in her government he should find no
opportunity of furthering his own fortunes; while, at the same time, he
was anxious to revenge himself upon De Luynes, who had promised to
recompense his treachery to his royal mistress by a seat in the
Conclave; and it had been confided to him that the first vacant seat was
pledged to the Archbishop of Toulouse, the son of the Duc d'Epernon. In
order, therefore, at once to indulge his vengeance, and to render his
services more than ever essential to the favourite, and thus wring from
his fears what he could not anticipate from his good faith, he resolved
to exasperate the Queen-mother, and to incite her to open rebellion
against her son and his Government.

Circumstances favoured his project. The two first Princes of the Blood,
M. de Conde and the Comte de Soissons, had at this period a serious
quarrel as to who should present the finger-napkin to the King at the
dinner-table; Conde claiming that privilege as first Prince of the
Blood, and Soissons maintaining that it was his right as Grand Master of
the Royal Household. The two great nobles, heedless of the presence of
the sovereign, both seized a corner of the _serviette_, which either
refused to relinquish; and the quarrel became at length so loud and so
unseemly that Louis endeavoured to restore peace by commanding that it
should be presented by his brother the Duc d'Anjou. But although the two
angry Princes were compelled to yield the object of contention, he could
not reduce them to silence; and this absurd dissension immediately
split the Court into two factions; the Duc de Guise and the friends of
the favourite declaring themselves for Conde; while Mayenne,
Longueville, and several others espoused the cause of the Comte
de Soissons.

It is almost ludicrous to be compelled to record that out of a quarrel,
originating in a servile endeavour on the part of the two principal
nobles of a great nation to usurp the functions of a _maitre-d'hotel_,
grew an attempt at civil war, which, had not the treachery of Richelieu
nipped it in the bud, might have involved France in a sanguinary and
unnatural series of conflicts that would have rendered that country a
frightful spectacle to all Europe. Thus it was, however; for the
Comtesse de Soissons, the mother of the young Prince, who was then only
in his seventeenth year, eagerly seized so favourable an opportunity to
weaken the party of the Prince de Conde, whose sudden influence
threatened the future prospects of her son, by attaching to the cause of
Marie de Medicis all the nobles who were opposed to the favourite, and
consequently to the first Prince of the Blood by whom he was supported
in his pretensions.

The ambition of the Countess was to obtain for her young son the hand of
Madame Henriette de France, the third sister of the King; an alliance
which she was aware would be strenuously opposed by Conde, and which she
could only hope to accomplish through the good offices of the
Queen-mother; and it was consequently essential that, in order to carry
out her views, she should labour to augment the faction of Marie. Her
efforts were successful; between the 29th of March and the 30th of June
the Ducs de Mayenne and de Vendome, the Grand Prior (the brother of the
latter), the Comte de Candale, the Archbishop of Toulouse, and Henry of
Savoy, Duc de Nemours, all proceeded to Angers; an example which was
speedily followed by the Comte and Comtesse de Soissons, and the Ducs de
Longueville, de Tremouille, de Retz, and de Rohan; who, one and all,
urged Marie de Medicis once more to take up arms, and assert her
authority.[47]

These successive defections greatly alarmed the favourite, who became
more than ever urgent for the return of the Queen-mother to the capital;
but a consciousness of her increasing power, together with the insidious
advice of Richelieu, rendered her deaf alike to his representations and
to his promises. In this extremity De Luynes resolved to leave no means
untried to regain the Duc de Guise; and for this purpose the King was
easily persuaded to propose a double marriage in his family, by which it
was believed that his own allegiance and that of the Prince de Conde to
the royal cause, or rather to that of the favourite, would be alike
secured. M. de Conde was to give his daughter to the Prince de
Joinville, the elder son of M. de Guise; while the latter's third son,
the Duc de Joyeuse, was to become the husband of Mademoiselle de Luynes.
The marriage articles were accordingly drawn up, although the two
last-named personages were still infants at the breast; but when he took
the pen in his hand to sign the contract, De Guise hesitated, and
appeared to reflect.

"What are you thinking of, Monsieur le Duc?" inquired Louis, as he
remarked the hesitation of the Prince.

"I protest to you, Sire," was the reply, "that, while looking at the
name of the bride, I had forgotten my own, and that I was seeking to
recall it."

De Luynes bit his lips and turned away, while a general smile proved how
thoroughly the meaning of the haughty Duke had been appreciated by the
courtiers.[48]

In addition to these comparatively unimportant alliances, two others of
a more serious nature were also mooted at this period, namely, those of
Monsieur (the King's brother) with Mademoiselle de Montpensier, the
daughter of the Duchesse de Guise; and of Madame Henriette de France
with the Comte de Soissons; a double project which afforded to the
favourite an admirable pretext for despatching Brantes, the
newly-created Duc de Luxembourg, to Angers, to solicit the consent of
the Queen-mother, and to entreat her to reappear at Court and thus
sanction by her presence the decision of the sovereign.

"The King has determined wisely," was her reply; "and the affair can be
concluded when I am once more in the capital. I feel satisfied that his
Majesty will not decide upon either of the marriages during my absence;
but will remember not merely what is due to me as a Queen, but also as
a mother."

"Am I then authorized to state, Madame, that you will shortly arrive in
Paris?" demanded the envoy.

"I shall immediately return, Sir," coldly replied Marie, "when I can do
so with honour; but this can only be when the King shall have issued a
declaration which may repair the injury done to my administration by
that which he conceded to the Prince de Conde."

The Duke attempted to remonstrate, but he was haughtily silenced; and
thus saw himself compelled to retire from the presence of the irritated
Princess with the conviction that he had utterly failed to produce the
effect anticipated from his mission.[49]

As a last resource the Duc de Montbazon was once more despatched to the
Queen-mother, with full authority to satisfy all her demands, whatever
might be their nature; and also with instructions to warn her that,
should she still refuse to obey the commands of the King, she would be
compelled to do so; while, at the same time, he was commissioned to
announce that Louis was ready to receive her at Tours as he had formerly
done, in order to convince her of his anxiety to terminate their
misunderstanding. This portion of his mission was, however, strongly
combated alike by M. de Conde and the ministers, who saw in it a proof
of weakness unworthy of a great sovereign; but the apprehensions of the
favourite so far outweighed his sense of what was due to the dignity of
his royal master, that he refused to listen to their representations,
and Louis accordingly left the capital, and advanced slowly towards the
province of Angoumois, awaiting the result of this new negotiation.

Marie remained inflexible; Richelieu had not yet accomplished his
object; and the King, who had already reached Orleans, returned to
Paris, to the great triumph of the Queen-mother's faction. Months were
wasted in this puerile struggle, which contrasted strangely with the
important interests which at that period occupied the attention of all
other European sovereigns; and meanwhile the faction of Marie de Medicis
became more formidable from day to day; until, finally, the Prince de
Conde declared his conviction that stringent measures could alone secure
to the monarch any hope of averting the serious consequences with which
he was threatened by the disaffection of his most powerful nobles. De
Luynes was quite ready to adopt this reasoning in order to ensure his
own safety; but it met with earnest opposition from the Cardinal de
Retz, Arnoux, and many others of the favourite's confidential friends,
who dreaded that by the fall of Marie de Medicis, Conde, whose ambitious
views were evident to all, would attain to a degree of authority and
power against which they could not hope successfully to contend; and
they accordingly counselled their patron rather to effect his own
reconciliation with the exiled Queen, and by rendering himself necessary
alike to the mother and the son, at once strengthen his own influence
and weaken that of the first Prince of the Blood.

In accordance with this advice De Luynes entered into a negotiation with
Marie, during the course of which the Marquis de Blainville was
despatched several times to Angers, authorized to hold out the most
brilliant promises should she consent to resume her position at the
French Court. Unfortunately, however, the zealous envoy overacted his
part by assuring her that De Luynes was strongly attached to her person,
and anxious only to secure her interests; a declaration which instantly
startled her suspicious temper into additional caution; but his next
step proved even more fatal to the cause he had been deputed
to advocate.

"I can assure you, Madame," he went on to say, encouraged by the
attentive attitude of his royal auditor, "that M. le Duc has ever
entertained the most perfect respect towards your Majesty. More than
once, indeed, it has been suggested to him to secure your person, and
either to commit you to Vincennes, or to compel your return to
Florence; nay, more; a few of your most inveterate enemies, Madame, have
not hesitated to advise still more violent measures, and have
endeavoured to convince him that his own safety could only be secured by
your destruction; but M. de Luynes has universally rejected these
counsels with indignation and horror; and this fact must suffice to
prove to your Majesty that you can have nothing to apprehend from a man
so devoted to your cause that he has undeviatingly made his own
interests subservient to yours."

This argument, which, while it revolted her good sense, revealed to the
Queen-mother the whole extent of the risk that she must inevitably incur
by placing herself in the power of an individual who had suffered such
measures to be mooted in his presence, produced the very opposite effect
to that which it had been intended to elicit; and it was consequently
with a more fixed determination than ever that Marie clung to the
comparatively independent position she had secured, and thus rendered
the negotiation useless.[50]

The alarm of De Luynes increased after this failure, and having become
convinced of the impolicy of provoking a second civil war, he continued
his attempts at a reconciliation through other channels; but as each in
turn proved abortive, he began to tremble lest by affording more time
for the consolidation of the Queen's faction, he might ultimately work
his own overthrow; and it was consequently determined that the advice of
the Prince de Conde should be adopted. The delay which had already
taken place had, however, sufficed to permit of a coalition among the
Princes which rendered the party of the malcontents more formidable than
any which had yet been opposed to the royal authority; and it was not
without considerable misgivings that, early in July, De Luynes
accompanied the King to the frontier of Normandy, where it had been
decided that he should place himself at the head of his army.[51]

Before leaving the capital it was considered expedient that Louis should
attend a meeting of the Parliament, in order to justify the extreme step
which he was about to take; and he accordingly presented himself before
that body, to whom he declared the excessive repugnance with which he
found himself under the imperative necessity of taking up arms against
the Queen his mother, and excused himself upon the plea of her having
headed the malcontents, by whom the safety of the throne and kingdom was
endangered; and, this empty formality accomplished, little attention was
conceded to the recommendation of the President and Advocate-General,
who implored of his Majesty to adopt less offensive measures, and to
avoid so long as it might be in his power an open war with his august
parent.[52] Louis had complied with the ceremony required of him; and
while De Luynes was trembling for his tenure of power, the young
sovereign was equally anxious to commence a campaign which promised
some relief from the tedium of his everyday existence, and some prospect
of his definitive release from the thraldom of the adverse faction.

The success of the royal army exceeded the most sanguine expectations of
the young sovereign, and awakened in him that passion for war by which
he was subsequently distinguished throughout the whole of his reign. The
Ducs de Longueville and de Vendome, alarmed by a manifestation of energy
for which they were not prepared, and fearing the effects of further
resistance, scarcely made an effort to oppose him; and thus, in an
incredibly short space of time, he possessed himself of Rouen, Caen,
Alencon, and Vendome; and advanced upon the Loire at the head of his
whole army.

This unlooked-for celerity caused the greatest consternation in the
party of Marie, who had anticipated that the conquest of Normandy would
have occupied the royal forces during a considerable period, and relying
on this contingency, had not yet completed the defences of Angers. The
Queen herself, however, continued to refuse all overtures of
reconciliation, and after having vainly demanded a month's truce, she
turned her whole attention to the formation of such an army as might
enable her to compete with that by which she saw herself assailed. Her
forces already amounted to fifteen hundred horse and eight thousand
infantry, and she was anticipating a strong reinforcement, which was to
be supplied by the Duc de Rohan and the Comte de Saint-Aignan. Her first
care was to garrison the town and citadel of Angers, in order to secure
her personal safety; but this precaution did not satisfy the Duc de
Mayenne, who urged her to retire to Guienne, where he had collected a
force of ten thousand men, and thus to place herself beyond all
possibility of capture. The Duc d'Epernon, on the other hand, who was
jealous of the influence which such a step must necessarily give to his
rival, strongly dissuaded the Queen from condescending to retreat before
the royal army; and suggested that M. de Mayenne would more effectually
serve her cause and uphold her honour by marching his troops to Angers,
and thus strengthening her position. This suggestion, by whatever motive
it were prompted, was one of sound policy; nor can there be any doubt
that it would have been readily adopted by Marie de Medicis, had there
not been a traitor in the camp, whose covert schemes must have been
foiled by such an addition to the faction of his royal mistress.

That traitor was Richelieu, by whom every movement in the rebel army,
and every decision of the Queen-mother's Council, was immediately
revealed to De Luynes. The wily Bishop, faithful to his own interests,
and lured onward by the vision of a cardinal's hat, no sooner saw the
impression produced upon the mind of Marie by the proposal of Epernon
than he hastened to oppose a measure which threatened all his hopes, and
succeeded with some difficulty in persuading her that both these great
nobles could more effectually serve her in their own governments than by
adding a useless burthen to her dower-city, which was already gorged
with troops, and which, in the event of a siege, might suffer more from
internal scarcity than external violence.

Bewildered by the uncertainty of the struggle which was about to
supervene, Marie de Medicis was readily induced to believe in the wisdom
of securing two havens of refuge in case of defeat, and to renounce the
peril of hazarding all at one blow. The arguments of Richelieu were
specious; she had the most perfect faith in his attachment and fidelity;
and thus, despite the most earnest remonstrances of her other
counsellors, she decided upon following the suggestions of the man who
was seeking to build up his own fortunes upon the ruin of her hopes.[53]

Neither Richelieu nor De Luynes were deceived as to the feeling which
thus induced them to make common cause. There was no affectation of
regard or confidence on either side; their mutual hatred was matter of
notoriety, but they were essential to each other. Without the aid of the
favourite, the Bishop of Lucon could never hope to attain the seat in
the Conclave which was the paramount object of his ambition; while De
Luynes, on his side, was apprehensive that should the army of the King
be defeated, his own overthrow must necessarily result, or that, in the
event of success, the Prince de Conde would become all-powerful: an
alternative which presented the same danger to his own prospects. Thus
both the one and the other, convinced that by stratagem alone they could
carry out their personal views, eagerly entered into a secret
negotiation, which terminated in a pledge that Richelieu should succeed
to a cardinalate provided he delivered up his too confiding mistress to
the royal troops when they marched upon the Fonts de Ce.

This fortress, which protected the passage to Anjou, was only a league
distant from Angers, where the Queen-mother had taken up her residence;
and Richelieu, to whom its safety had been confided, no sooner effected
a final understanding with De Luynes than he removed all the ammunition
from the fortress, and placed his own relatives and friends in command
of the garrison, with full instructions as to the part which they were
to enact when confronted with the troops of the sovereign.

Although wholly unsuspicious of the treachery of which she was thus
destined to become the victim, the alarm of the Queen-mother was excited
by the rapid approach of her son, and she at length resolved to attempt
a tardy reconciliation; for which purpose she despatched the Duc de
Bellegarde, the Archbishop of Sens, and the Jesuit Berulle to the King
with an offer to that effect. Louis received her envoys with great
courtesy, and declared himself ready to make every concession as
regarded Marie personally, and even to extend his pardon to the Comte
and Comtesse de Soissons; but he peremptorily refused to include the
other disaffected nobles in the amnesty; when the Queen, on her side,
declined every arrangement which involved the abandonment of her
followers; and thus the negotiation failed in its object, while the
royal army continued to advance.[54]

On reaching La Fleche the King convened a council, at which it was
proposed to besiege the city of Angers; but Louis, who was aware of the
plot that had been formed between De Luynes and Richelieu, declared that
his respect for his mother would not permit him to attack a town in
which she had taken up her abode; while he even instructed the Duc de
Bellegarde to propose to her fresh conditions of peace, and to assure
her that his intention in approaching so near to her stronghold was
simply to secure an interview, and to induce her to return with him to
the capital.

This assurance produced the desired effect upon Marie de Medicis, who
was becoming alike wearied and disgusted by the perilous position in
which she had been placed by the unexpected energy of her son; and she
consequently hastened to sign the treaty. But the concession came too
late. On the previous day, Bassompierre, Crequy, and several other
officers of rank marched to Sorges, within a league of the Fonts de Ce,
at the head of their men, for the mere purpose of skirmishing; they,
however, met with no opposition, and they finally reached the bridge,
where five thousand troops of the Queen-mother were entrenched. These
they attacked; and at the third charge the whole body fled in such
confusion that the royal forces entered with them pell-mell into the
city. The command of the fort had been given to the Duc de Retz, who,
apprised by the Cardinal his uncle that the Queen-mother had been
betrayed, hastily effected his escape, and the castle was surrendered at
the first summons. In vain did the Duc de Bellegarde represent that the
town had been taken after the Queen had signed the treaty of
reconciliation, and complain that this outrage had been committed
subsequently to the conclusion of a peace proposed by the sovereign; the
Prince de Conde, desirous of mortifying Marie de Medicis, only replied
that the messenger should have made greater haste to deliver so
important a document, as the King's officers were not called upon to
divine the nature of the Queen's decision.[55]

On the following day Louis himself entered Ponts de Ce, where he was
surprised to find the shops open, and the inhabitants as quietly
pursuing their avocations as though no rumour of war had reached their
ears. The shouts of "Vive le Roi!" were as energetic as those of "Vive
la Reine!" had been only a few weeks previously; and thus, through the
selfish treason of two ambitious and unprincipled individuals, Marie de
Medicis, who at once felt that all further opposition must be
fruitless, saw the powerful faction which it had cost her so much
difficulty and so hard a struggle to combine, totally overthrown, and
herself reduced, even while she still possessed an army of thirty
thousand men in Poitou, Angoumois, and Guienne, to accept such
conditions as it might please the King to accord to her.

Bewildered by the defeat of her troops and the loss of Ponts de Ce, the
unhappy Queen resolved to effect her escape, and to throw herself on the
protection of the Ducs de Mayenne and d'Epernon; but this project was
defeated by Richelieu, who lost no time in communicating her intentions
to the favourite; and parties of cavalry were in consequence thrown out
in every direction to oppose her passage. Apprised of this precaution,
although unconscious of its origin, Marie perceived that she had no
alternative save submission; and she accordingly declared herself ready
to obey the will of the King, whatever might be its nature; an assurance
to which Louis replied that he was ready to receive her with open arms,
and to grant her requests in so far as they regarded herself personally,
although he was resolved to prove to the leaders of her faction that he
was the master of his own kingdom.[56]

On the conclusion of the treaty a meeting was appointed between the King
and his mother at the castle of Brissac, whither he repaired to await
her arrival; and she was no sooner made acquainted with this
arrangement than she hastened to the place of rendezvous, escorted by
five hundred horsemen of the royal army. She was met midway by the
Marechal de Praslin, and a short time afterwards by the Duc de
Luxembourg, at the head of a strong party of nobles, by whom she was
warmly welcomed; and finally, when she was within a few hundred yards of
the castle, Louis himself appeared, who, as her litter approached,
alighted in his turn, an example which she immediately followed, and in
the next instant they were clasped in each other's arms.

"I have you now, Madame," exclaimed the King with a somewhat equivocal
smile; "and you shall not escape me again."

"Sire," replied the Queen, "you will have little trouble in retaining
me, for I meet you with the firm determination never more to leave you,
and in perfect confidence that I shall be treated with all the kindness
and consideration which I can hope from so good a son."

These hollow compliments exchanged, Louis retired a pace or two in order
to enable the Prince de Conde and the Duc de Luynes to pay their
respects to the Queen-mother, by whom they were most graciously
received; while Richelieu was no less warmly greeted by the young King
and his favourite. No one, in fine, who had witnessed the scene, could
have imagined that heart-burning and hatred were concealed beneath the
smiles and blandishments which were to be encountered on all sides; or
that among those who then and there bandied honeyed words and gracious
greetings, were to be found individuals who had staked their whole
future fortunes upon a perilous venture, and many of whom had lost.

After a few days spent at Brissac the King departed for Poitou, while
Marie repaired to Chinon, whence she was to follow him in a few days;
and thus terminated the second exile of the widow of Henry the Great,
even as the first had done, in mortification and defeat.[57]

As a matter of course, the Ducs de Mayenne and d'Epernon no sooner saw
that the cause of the Queen-mother had become hopeless than they
hastened to make their submission to the King; although the former,
fearing that his known hostility to the favourite might militate against
his future interests, first endeavoured to induce M. d'Epernon to join
him in forming a new faction for their personal protection; but this
attempt met with no encouragement, Epernon declaring that as his royal
mistress had seen fit to trust to the clemency of the sovereign, he felt
bound to follow her example, and that he advised M. de Mayenne to adopt
the same course. Such a reply naturally sufficed to convince his
colleague that he had no other alternative; and after the professions
usual on such occasions both nobles prepared to lay down their
arms.[58]

Louis having learnt at Poitiers that the Queen was on her way to join
him, immediately proceeded to Tours to await her arrival, and to conduct
her to the former city, whither she accompanied him with all the great
ladies of the Court; and four days subsequently Marie de Medicis
followed with her slender retinue. She was welcomed by Anne of Austria
with haughty courtesy; and during the ensuing week all was revelry and
dissipation. The young Queen gave a splendid ball in honour of her
august mother-in-law; and on the morrow the Jesuits performed a comedy
at which all the Court were present.

It is probable, however, that Marie de Medicis did not enter with much
zest into these diversions, as she could not fail to perceive that the
courtesy evinced towards her was reluctant and constrained; and when, on
the arrival of the Duc de Mayenne, she witnessed the coldness of his
reception, her fears for her own future welfare must have been
considerably augmented. At his first audience Mayenne threw himself at
the feet of the King, protesting his sorrow for the past, and imploring
the royal pardon with all the humility of a criminal, but Louis alike
feared and hated the veteran leaguer, and he replied harshly: "Enough,
M. le Duc; I will forget the past should the future give me cause to do
so." And as he ceased speaking he turned away, leaving the mortified
noble to rise at his leisure from the lowly attitude which he had
assumed.[59]

Two days subsequently the King resumed his journey to Guienne, Marie de
Medicis proceeded to Fontainebleau, and Anne of Austria returned to
Paris. As Louis reached Chize he was met by the Duc d'Epernon, who, in
his turn, sued for forgiveness, which was accorded without difficulty;
and thus the Queen-mother found herself deprived of her two most
efficient protectors,[60] and clung more tenaciously than ever to the
support of the treacherous Richelieu.

The next care of Louis was to compel the resumption of the Roman
Catholic religion in Bearn; after which he followed the Court to the
capital, whither he had already been preceded by the Queen-mother.

FOOTNOTES:

[45] _Mercure Francais_, 1620. _Pieces Curieuses faites durant le Regne
du Connetable de Luynes_, pp. 1-3.

[46] Siri, _Mem. Rec_. vol. v. pp. 70-72. _Vie du Duc d'Epernon_, book
viii. Sismondi, vol. xxii. p. 458. Fontenay-Mareuil, _Mem_. p. 458. Le
Vassor, vol. ii. pp. 183, 184. Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mere et du Fils_,
vol. ii. pp. 397, 398.

[47] Le Vassor, vol. ii. pp. 183, 184. Fontenay-Mareuil, _Mem_. pp.
461-467.

[48] Siri, _Mem. Rec_. vol. v. pp. 106-108. Le Vassor, vol. ii. pp. 186,
187.

[49] Le Vassor, vol. ii. pp. 186, 187. Siri, _Mem. Rec_. vol. v. pp.
106-110.

[50] Siri, _Mem. Rec_. 1620, pp. 110-122.

[51] Le Vassor, vol. ii. p. 206. Pontchartrain, _Mem_. p. 313.
Fontenay-Mareuil, _Mem_. p. 462. Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 462, 463.
Matthieu, _Hist, des Derniers Troubles_, book iii. p. 650.

[52] Mezeray, vol. xi. p. 202. _Mercure Francais_, 1620-1621.

[53] Mezeray, vol. xi. pp. 206, 207. _Lumieres pour l'Hist. de France_.
Bernard, book iii.

[54] _Mercure Francais_, 1620. Siri, _Mem. Rec_, vol. v. pp. 135-137. Le
Vassor, vol. ii. pp. 212, 213.

[55] Le Vassor, vol. ii. p. 213. Mezeray, vol. xi. p. 210.

[56] Le Vassor, vol. ii. pp. 213, 214. _Mercure Francais_, 1620. Siri,
_Mem. Rec_. vol. v. pp. 139, 140. Mezeray, vol. xi. pp. 210, 211.

[57] _Mercure Francais_, 1620. Siri, _Mem. Rec_. vol. v. pp. 140, 141.
Brienne, _Mem_. vol. i. pp. 342, 343. Bassompierre, _Mem_. edit.
Petitot, vol. ii. pp. 193-199.

[58] _Vie du Duc d'Epernon_, book iii. Le Vassor, vol. ii. pp. 216, 217.

[59] _Mercure Francois_, 1620.

[60] Le Vassor, vol. ii. p. 217. Mezeray, vol. xi. pp. 212, 213.

CHAPTER IV

1621-24

Attempt to secure a cardinal's hat for Richelieu frustrated by De
Luynes--Death of Philip III of Spain--De Luynes is created Connetable de
France--Discontent of the great nobles--Disgust of the Marechal de
Lesdiguieres--The Protestants of Bearn rise against their
oppressors--The royal troops march against them--They are worsted, and
despoiled of their fortified places--The King becomes jealous of his
favourite--_Le Roi Luynes_--Domestic dissensions--The favourite is
threatened with disgrace--Cruelty of Louis XIII--Death of De
Luynes--Louis determines to exterminate the Protestants--A struggle for
power--Prudence of Bassompierre--Conde encourages the design of the
King--The old ministers are recalled--They join with the Queen-mother in
her attempt to conclude a peace with the reformed party--Marie de
Medicis solicits a share in the government--The King complies, but
refuses to sanction the admission of Richelieu to the Council--The
Duchesse de Luynes and Anne of Austria--Frustrated hopes--Conde aspires
to the French throne--Louis XIII leaves the capital by stealth in order
to join the army at Nantes--The Queen-mother prepares to follow him, but
is overtaken by illness--Ruthless persecution of the Protestants--Siege
of La Rochelle--Venality of the Protestant leaders--Indignation of the
Catholic nobles--Resistance of the citizens of Montpellier--Military
incapacity of Conde--The Duc de Rohan negotiates a peace, and Conde
retires to Rome--Montpellier opens its gates to the King--Bad faith of
Louis XIII--Triumphal entry of the King at Lyons--Marriage of the
Marquis de la Valette and Mademoiselle de Verneuil--Richelieu is created
a cardinal--Exultation of the Queen-mother--Death of the President
Jeannin--Prospects of Richelieu--His duplicity--Misplaced confidence of
Marie de Medicis--Louis XIII returns to Paris--Change in the
Ministry--Anne of Austria and the Prince of Wales--The Queen-mother and
her faction endeavour to accomplish the ruin of the Chancellor, and
succeed--Richelieu is admitted to the Council---Indignation of
Conde--Richelieu becomes all-powerful--His ingratitude to the
Queen-mother--The Queen-mother is anxious to effect a matrimonial
alliance with England--Richelieu seconds her views--The King of Spain
applies for the hand of the Princesse Henriette for Don Carlos--His
demand is negatived by the Cardinal-Minister--La Vieuville is dismissed
from the Ministry--Duplicity of Louis XIII--Arrest of La
Vieuville--Change of ministers--Petticoat intrigues--The Duc d'Anjou
solicits the hand of Mademoiselle de Montpensier--The alliance is
opposed by the Guises and forbidden by the King.

During the absence of the King from Paris, the Marechal d'Estrees, who
was at that period Ambassador at Rome, was engaged in soliciting two
seats in the Conclave, the first for the Archbishop of Toulouse, and the
second for the Bishop of Lucon; while Marie de Medicis lost no
opportunity of entreating Bentivoglio, the Papal Nuncio, to further the
interests of the latter, impressing upon him that no period could be
more favourable than the present, when Louis XIII had enforced upon a
whole refractory province the performance of the rites which it had so
long rejected. To this argument the Cardinal had nothing to object, and
he accordingly listened with complacency to her representations; but
they were rendered abortive by De Luynes, who privately informed him
that neither the sovereign nor himself sincerely desired the promotion
of Richelieu, and that their apparent anxiety for his advancement had
been merely assumed to gratify the Queen-mother; while, far from being
disposed to consider the dissent of the Pontiff to this application as a
slight, his Majesty would be gratified should he reject it, as he had
reason to feel dissatisfied with the Bishop of Lucon, whom he was
consequently not disposed to support in an ambition which he considered
to be at once inordinate and premature. Paul V needed no further hint;
he had been unwilling to countenance the elevation of two French
prelates, and accordingly he replied to all the urgent solicitations of
M. d'Estrees with evasive replies, until at length, wearied by his
pertinacity, he laid before him a letter from Louis himself wherein he
revoked all his former orders. The indignation of the Ambassador was
only exceeded by that of Richelieu when they severally discovered that
they had been duped; but the death of the Pope, and the election of
Gregory XV, which occurred in the following month (February), once more
renewed their hopes.

The demise of Paul V was followed by that of Philip III of Spain, and
negotiations were immediately commenced with his successor for the
restoration of the Valteline to the Grisons, which were happily
concluded for the moment; but, whatever satisfaction this event might
have elicited at the Court of France, it was counterbalanced by another,
in which the great nobles felt a more personal and intimate interest. On
the 2nd of April Charles Albert, Due de Luynes, was invested with the
sword of Connetable de France; and thus in the short space of four
years, without having distinguished himself either as a warrior or a
statesman, had risen from the obscure position of a Gentleman of the
Household, and of a petty provincial noble, to the highest dignity which
could be conferred upon a subject.

The ceremony of his investiture was conducted with extraordinary pomp;
and when he had taken the oath, De Luynes received from the hands of the
King a sword richly ornamented with diamonds, which was buckled on by
Gaston, Duc d'Anjou.[61] The murmurs elicited by this extraordinary
promotion were universal, and the rather as it had long been promised to
the Duc de Lesdiguieres, who was compelled to content himself with a
brevet of Marshal of France, and the title of colonel-general of the
royal army, which constituted the veteran soldier the lieutenant of De
Luynes, who had never been upon a field of battle.[62]

The remainder of the year was occupied in a campaign against the
Protestants, who, on the departure of the King from Bearn, had rallied
in the defence of their religion, and revolted against the outrages to
which they had been subjected by a lawless rabble. Their churches had
been desecrated and burnt down at Tours, Poitiers, and other cities,
themselves publicly insulted, and they began to apprehend that they were
about to be despoiled of all the privileges accorded to them by the
Edict of Nantes. Under these circumstances they had convoked a general
assembly at La Rochelle, in order to decide upon the measures necessary
for their preservation; and although warned immediately to dissolve the
meeting, they had refused compliance with the royal edict, even while
aware that they were not strong enough to contend with any prospect of
ultimate success.[63]

The new Connetable eagerly seized this opportunity of exerting his
authority, and an army of forty thousand infantry and eight thousand
horse was marched towards the Loire, at the head of which were the King
himself, De Luynes, and the Marechal de Lesdiguieres; while, as though
the projected expedition had been a mere party of pleasure, not only did
a crowd of the great nobles volunteer to swell the ranks of the already
enormous host, but the two Queens, the Duchesse de Luynes, and a
numerous suite of ladies also accompanied the troops to share in the
campaign. The result of this fearful contest is known. The unhappy
Protestants were driven from their strongholds, and with the exception
of Montauban, which was so gallantly defended that the King was
ultimately compelled to raise the siege, they found themselves utterly
despoiled, and exposed to every species of insult.

No event could have been more unfortunate for the ambitious Connetable
than the successful defence of Montauban. Louis loved war for its own
sake, but he was also jealous of success; and he felt with great
bitterness this first mortification. He had, moreover, become conscious
that he was a mere puppet in the hands of his ambitious favourite; and
he was already becoming weary of a moral vassalage of which he had been
unable to calculate the extent. As the brilliant Connetable flashed past
him, glittering with gold, the plumes of his helmet dancing in the wind,
and the housings of his charger sparkling with gems, he looked after him
with a contemptuous scowl, and bade the nobles among whom he stood
admire the regal bearing of _le Roi Luynes_; nor was he the less bitter
because he could not suppress a consciousness of his own disability to
dispense with the services of the man whom he thus criticized.

Upon one point Louis XIII greatly resembled his mother; with all his
arrogance and love of power, he possessed no innate strength of purpose,
and constantly required extraneous support; but it was already easy for
those about him to perceive that fear alone continued to link him with
the once all-powerful favourite. Rumour said, moreover, that superadded
to the jealousy which the King entertained of the daily increasing
assumption of the Connetable there existed another cause of discontent.
The Duchesse de Luynes was, as we have said, both beautiful and
fascinating, and Louis had not been proof against her attractions,
although his ideas of gallantry never overstepped the bounds of the most
scrupulous propriety. The lady had on her part welcomed his homage with
more warmth than discretion, and the favourite had not failed to
reproach her for a levity by which he considered himself dishonoured.
Madame de Luynes had retorted in no measured terms, and the young
sovereign, who detested finding himself involved in affairs of this
nature, and who had, moreover, reason to believe that he was not the
only individual favoured by the smiles of the coquettish beauty, soon
evinced an aversion towards both husband and wife, which encouraged the
enemies of De Luynes to hint that the reverse which his Majesty had
lately suffered at Montauban might be entirely attributed to the
incapacity and selfishness of the Connetable. This opinion soothed the
wounded vanity of the King, and he talked vehemently of his regret for
the brave men who had fallen, among whom was the Duc de Mayenne, and
bitterly complained of the dishonour to which he had been subjected;
while in order to revenge himself at once upon De Luynes and the
Duchess, he condescended to the meanness of informing the former that
the Prince de Joinville was enamoured of his wife, and subsequently
boasted to Bassompierre that he had done so. The Marquis listened in
astonishment to this extraordinary communication, and in reply ventured
to assure his Majesty that he had committed a serious error in seeking
to cause a misunderstanding between a married couple.

"God will forgive me for it should He see fit to do so," was the sullen
retort of Louis. "At all events it gave me great pleasure to be revenged
on him, and to cause him this annoyance; and before six months have
elapsed I will make him disgorge all his gains." [64]

The rumour of his projected disgrace soon reached the ears of the
bewildered favourite, who instantly resolved to redeem himself by some
more successful achievement. He accordingly ordered the troops to march
upon and besiege Monheur, an insignificant town on the Garonne, which
was feebly garrisoned by two hundred and sixty men, and which was in
consequence sure to fall into his hands. As he had foreseen, the place
soon capitulated, but the late reverse had rendered Louis less
accessible than ever to the claims of mercy; and although by the terms
of the treaty he found himself compelled to spare the lives of the
troops, numbers of the inhabitants were put to death, and the town was
sacked and burned.[65] This paltry triumph did not, however, suffice to
reinstate the Connetable in the good graces of his royal master, who
continued to indulge in the most puerile complaints against his former
favourite; and the latter's mortification at so sudden and unexpected a
reverse of fortune so seriously affected his health that, while the
ruins of the ill-fated town were still smouldering, he expired in an
adjacent village of a fever which had already caused considerable
ravages in the royal army.

When intelligence of the decease of De Luynes was communicated to the
King he did not even affect the slightest regret, and the courtiers at
once perceived that the demise of the man upon whom he had lavished so
many and such unmerited distinctions was regarded by Louis as a
well-timed release. So careless indeed did the resentful monarch show
himself of the common observances of decency that he gave no directions
for his burial; and, profiting by this omission, the enemies of the
unfortunate Connetable pillaged his residence, and carried off every
article of value, not leaving him even a sheet to supply his
grave-clothes. The Marechal de Chaulnes and the Due de Luxembourg, his
brothers, with whom at his first entrance into life he had shared his
slender income, and whom in his after days of prosperity he had alike
ennobled and enriched, looked on in silence at this desecration of his
remains, lest by resenting the outrage they should incur the displeasure
of the King; and it is on record that the Abbe Rucellai and one of his
friends alone had the courage and generosity to furnish the necessary
funds for embalming the body and effecting its transport to its last
resting-place.[66]

The resolute position still maintained by the Protestants chafed the
arrogant temper of Louis XIII, who, although personally incapable of
sustaining the royal authority, was yet jealous of its privileges.
Political and civil liberty was in his eyes a heresy to be exterminated
at whatever cost; and while he was as infirm in purpose as a child, he
grasped at absolute monarchy, and panted to acquire it. This, as he at
once felt, could never be achieved while there existed within his
kingdom a party which claimed to limit his prerogative, and to maintain
the rights which it had acquired under his predecessors, and thus he
eagerly resolved to rid himself of so dangerous an enemy; but although
his determination was formed, he found himself unequal to the
self-imposed task; he had no reliance on his own strength, and until he
had selected a new favourite upon whom he could lean for support, he
dared not venture upon so serious an undertaking.

There were, however, many candidates for the vacant honour, and De
Luynes was scarcely in his grave ere two separate parties began to
strive for pre-eminence. That of the ministers was headed by Henri de
Gondy, Cardinal de Retz, President of the Council, Schomberg, Grand
Master of the Artillery and Superintendent of Finance, and De Vic,
Keeper of the Seals, who exerted all their efforts to dissuade the King
from again placing himself in the power of a favourite; believing that
should he consent to retain the government in his own hands, they need
only flatter his foibles to secure to themselves the actual
administration of the kingdom; a policy which they commenced by urging
him to follow up his intention of pursuing the war against the
Protestants.

On the other hand, the courtiers who were anxious for peace, and who
desired to see Louis once more quietly established in his capital, were
earnest that he should advance Bassompierre to the coveted dignity; nor
were they without sanguine hope of success, as even before the death of
De Luynes, the wit, courage, and magnificence of the courtly soldier had
captivated the admiration of the King, who had evinced towards him a
greater portion of regard than he vouchsafed to any other noble of his
suite; while so conscious were the ministers of this preference, that in
order to rid themselves of so dangerous an adversary, and to effect his
removal from the Court, they offered to Bassompierre the lieutenancy of
Guienne and the _baton_ of a marshal. These honours were, however,
declined--not from ambition, for Bassompierre, although brave in the
field, was an ardent votary of pleasure, and the Court was his world;
but he was wise enough to feel that he did not possess the necessary
talent for so perilous a post as that which his friends would fain have
assigned to him; and he was the first to declare that the intrigues of
both parties would fail, since the King must ere long fall, as a natural
consequence, under the dominion of his mother, or that of the Prince de
Conde.[67]

On the 28th of January Louis re-entered Paris, where he was received
with enthusiasm; and the meeting between the mother and son was highly
satisfactory to both parties. In compliance with the advice of
Richelieu, Marie de Medicis exhibited towards the young sovereign a
deferential tenderness and a modest exultation, which flattered his
vanity, and disarmed his apprehensions. No allusion was made to the
past, save such as afforded opportunity for adulation and triumph; Louis
began to look upon himself as a conqueror, and the Queen-mother already
entertained visions of renewed power and authority.

So soon as the death of De Luynes had been made known to M. de Conde, he
had hastened to meet the King, in order to forestall the influence of
Marie. Aware that she anxiously desired a termination of the war, he
threw himself into the cabal of the ministers, and urged Louis to
complete the work which he had so ably commenced, by compelling the
Protestants to evacuate La Rochelle, Montauban, and Royan, the only
fortified towns of which they still remained in possession; conscious
that should he succeed in once more involving the country in civil war,
his royal kinsman would not be able to dispense with his own support.

Louis had, however, recalled Jeannin and Sillery to his councils, both
of whom were jealous of the Prince, and wounded by his arrogance, and
who did not, consequently, hesitate to advise the King to offer
conditions to the reformed party, and to endeavour to conclude a peace;
while Marie de Medicis earnestly seconded their views, expressing at the
same time her desire to become once more associated in the government.
To her extreme mortification Louis hesitated; he had resolved to share
his authority only with his favourites, and he was aware that Marie
would not enter into their views; while he was equally averse to permit
the interference of Richelieu, whose power over the mind of the
Queen-mother was matter of notoriety. In this dilemma he appealed to the
two ministers, who, eager to counteract the influence of Conde, urged
him to accede to her wishes, representing at the same time the danger
which he must incur by exciting her displeasure, and thus inducing her
to oppose his measures. When he urged the powerlessness to which she was
reduced by her late reverses, they respectfully reminded him that her
faction, although dispersed for the moment, was by no means annihilated;
nor did they fail to impress upon him that her adhesion would be
necessary in order to enable him to counteract the pretensions of the
Prince de Conde, who had already given evidence of his anxiety to place
himself at the head of affairs, and to govern the nation in his name.
This argument prevailed. The Queen-mother was admitted to the Council on
the understanding that the Bishop of Lucon should be excluded, and she
accepted the condition without comment, feeling convinced that when she
had succeeded in establishing her own position, she should find little
difficulty in accomplishing all minor measures.[68]

Madame de Luynes had no sooner ascertained that she had irretrievably
lost the favour of the King than she devoted herself to Anne of Austria,
who was soon induced to forget her previous jealousy, and to whom her
society ere long became indispensable. In many respects the tastes of
the girl-Queen and the brilliant widow of the Connetable were singularly
similar, although Anne was a mere tyro in gallantry beside her more
experienced friend. Both were young, handsome, and giddy; greedy of
admiration, and regardless of the comments of those about them; and
never perhaps did any Princess of Spain more thoroughly divest herself
of the _morgue_ peculiar to her nation than the wife of Louis XIII,
whose Court set at defiance all etiquette which interfered with the
amusement of the hour. In vain did the King and his mother expostulate;
Anne of Austria merely pouted and persisted; and even her panegyrist,
Madame de Motteville, has recorded that she did not hesitate in
after-years to admit that she had numbered among her adorers the Due de
Montmorency, who previously to the passion with which she inspired him
had been the devoted slave of the beautiful Marquise de Sable;[69] the
Duc de Bellegarde, of whose antiquated worship she made for a while the
jest of her circle, and her own pastime; and finally, George Villiers,
Duke of Buckingham, who, mistaking her levity for a more tender feeling,
was presumptuous and reckless enough to endanger her reputation;[70]
while her imprudent encouragement of the attentions of Richelieu, which
subsequently caused her so much and such bitter suffering, has also
become matter of history. In addition to Madame de Luynes, Anne of
Austria had adopted as her especial favourites the intriguing Princesse
de Conti and Mademoiselle de Verneuil, the natural sister of the King;
and while Louis was absorbed by visions of absolute empire, and
meditating the destruction of his Protestant subjects, the private
circle of the Queen was loud with revelry, and indulging in amusement to
the very verge of impropriety.

At the period of the sovereign's return to Paris hopes were entertained
that Anne would shortly give an heir to the French throne; and while
Marie de Medicis, whose policy it had been to maintain the coldness and
indifference of the royal couple, was trembling at the increase of
influence which could not fail to accrue to the young Queen should she
become the mother of a Dauphin, Louis was impatiently anticipating the
moment which would enable him to present to his good citizens of Paris a
successor to his regal honours. Great therefore was his consternation
when he was apprised that the Queen, while running across the great hall
of the Louvre with Madame de Luynes and Mademoiselle de Verneuil, had
fallen and injured herself so severely that all hopes of a Dauphin were
for the moment at an end.

In the first paroxysm of his anger he ordered the two ladies, whom he,
perhaps justly, regarded as the cause of the accident, to quit the
palace within three days on pain of his most serious displeasure; but
the Duchess, to whom exile from the Court was equivalent to a
death-warrant, lost no time in despatching a messenger to the Prince de
Joinville (who had recently assumed the title of Duc de Joyeuse),
entreating him to exert all his influence to save her from this
disgrace; nor did she make the appeal in vain. The Prince, who was
devotedly attached to her, at once declared himself her champion, and
despite the advice of his friends, not only induced Louis to rescind his
order, but offered his hand to the lady, who subsequently became
celebrated as Duchesse de Chevreuse; and together with her own pardon
also obtained that of Mademoiselle de Verneuil, with permission to both
parties to retain their position in the Queen's household.[71]

Meanwhile the Prince de Conde continued to urge upon the King the
expediency of following up his project of aggression against the
Protestants, and proposed to him that he should join the army with
Monsieur his brother, leaving Marie de Medicis in the capital; for which
advice many designing and unworthy motives were attributed to him by his
enemies. As an immediate consequence such an arrangement must naturally
have tended to increase the dependence of the young sovereign upon
himself, while the late accident of the Queen having removed all
prospect of a new heir to the throne, should the chances of war prove
fatal to the King and the Due d'Anjou, the crown of France became the
legitimate right of Conde himself. What tended to strengthen the belief
that the Prince actually contemplated such a result, was the fact that
it had been predicted to him by an astrologer that at the age of four
and thirty he would be King of France; and the superstition so common at
the time caused considerable faith to be placed in the prophecy, not
only by himself but by many of his friends. Conde had now attained to
within a year of the stated period; and as a few months previously Louis
had been seriously indisposed, while the Duc d'Anjou had barely escaped
with life from an illness which he had not yet thoroughly conquered, not
a doubt was entertained by the party opposed to him that his great
anxiety to see himself at the head of an army arose from his conviction
that in such a position he should be the more readily enabled to enforce
his pretensions.[72]

Be his motives what they might, however, the ministers, who were anxious
that Louis should absent himself from the capital before he fell under
the dominion of a new favourite who might thwart their own views,
zealously seconded the advice of M. de Conde; and although Marie de
Medicis strenuously opposed the renewal of civil warfare, and the Duc de
Lesdiguieres represented to the King the ardent desire of the
Protestants to conclude a peace, all their efforts were impotent to
counteract the pernicious counsels of the Prince, which were destined
to darken and desecrate all the after-reign of Louis XIII. Marie then
endeavoured to dissuade the King from heading his troops in person; or,
should he persist in this design, at least to forego that of leaving her
in the capital, and of exposing Monsieur to the dangers of the campaign.
All that she could obtain was a promise that the Duc d'Anjou should
remain in Paris, while as Louis had named no precise period for his own
departure it was believed that he would not leave the city before the
termination of the Easter festival, and that meanwhile circumstances
might occur to induce him to change his resolution. But while Marie de
Medicis indulged in this hope, the same anticipation had produced a
different effect upon the minds of Conde and his party, who secretly
urged upon the King that longer delay could only tend to afford
facilities to the Protestants for strengthening their faction, and
consequently their means of resistance, an argument which determined
Louis at once to carry out his project; and so alarmed was the Prince
lest some circumstance might supervene to impede the departure of the
monarch, that he finally induced him to have recourse to the undignified
expedient of quitting the Louvre by a back entrance at dusk on Palm
Sunday, and of proceeding to Orleans, where he remained until the close
of Easter, awaiting the arrival of the great officers of his household,
who had no sooner joined him than he embarked with the troops who had
been stationed there, and hastened with all possible speed to Nantes,
where he appointed the Prince de Conde lieutenant-general of
his army.[73]

The indignation of the Queen-mother was unbounded when she became
apprised of the departure of the King, which she at once attributed to
the anxiety of M. de Conde to remove him beyond her own influence, and
she consequently made immediate preparations for following the royal
fugitive; but although she exerted all her energy to accomplish this
object, her mental agitation overcame her physical strength; and when
she reached the town of Nantes, which Louis had already quitted, she was
unable to proceed farther, and was compelled by indisposition to remain
inactive, and to leave her adversaries in possession of the field.

The war which supervened was one of great triumph to the royal army, if
indeed the massacre of his own subjects can reflect glory upon a
sovereign; but the laurels gained by Louis and his troops were sullied
by a series of atrocious and bootless cruelties, which made them matter
of reproach rather than of praise. In vain did the Marechal de
Lesdiguieres, the Duc de Bouillon, and even Sully, who had once
controlled the destinies of France, make repeated offers of submission;
the Prince de Conde had sufficient influence over the infatuated King to
render every appeal useless, and to induce him to persist in the
wholesale slaughter of the unhappy Protestants.

In the affair of La Rochelle alone Bassompierre informs us that "there
died upon the field, killed in cold blood, and without resistance, more
than fifteen hundred men, while more than as many prisoners were taken
who were sent to the galleys: the rest were put to death by the
followers of M. de la Rochefoucauld and by the peasantry. So that M. de
Soubise re-entered La Rochelle with thirty horsemen out of the seven
hundred whom he had with him, and not four hundred infantry of the seven
thousand who comprised his army on the preceding day." [74]

The leaders of the Protestants, some alarmed for their personal safety,
and others gained over by the offers of the Court, began to desert the
cause for which they had so long contended, and to make terms with the
sovereign. The Due de la Force sold himself for two hundred thousand
crowns and the _baton_ of a marshal; the Duc de Sully, after repeated
delays, surrendered his fortress of Cadenac; the veteran De Lesdiguieres
abandoned not only his friends, but also his faith, for the sword of
Connetable de France; and finally the Marquis de Chatillon, the grandson
of the brave and murdered Coligni, delivered himself up together with
the stronghold of Aigues Mortes; thus leaving no men of mark among the
reformers, save the two brothers MM. de Soubise and de Rohan; the former
of whom was then in England soliciting the assistance of James I.,
while the latter was endeavouring to raise troops in the Cevennes for
the protection of Montpellier and Nimes, both which cities were
threatened with siege.[75]

The favours accorded to the renegade Protestant leaders having caused
great dissatisfaction among the Catholic nobles of Louis XIII, the King
found himself compelled to gratify these also by honours and emolument.
The Duc d'Epernon was made Governor of Guienne, a province which had
never hitherto been bestowed save on a Prince of the Blood; while
Bassompierre succeeded to the marshal's _baton_ vacated by Lesdiguieres
on his promotion; and M. de Schomberg was invested with the governments
of Angoumois and Limousin.

Towards the close of August the troops marched upon Montpellier, but the
arrival of the new Connetable excited the jealousy of Conde, who refused
to submit to his authority. Lesdiguieres, who, although he had abandoned
his faith, had not yet ceased to feel a lively interest in the cause of
his co-religionists, was eager to effect a peace, and for this purpose
had conferred with the Duc de Rohan, who was equally anxious to obtain
the same result; but for a considerable time the threatened cities
refused to listen to any compromise. At length, however, the
representations of Rohan prevailed, and the negotiation was nearly
completed when M. de Conde haughtily declared that whatever might be
the conditions conceded by the King and the Connetable, he would deliver
over the city to pillage so soon as he had entered the gates. The
citizens of Montpellier, who were aware that, despite the capitulations
made with other places, the most enormous atrocities had been committed
in the towns which had surrendered, persisted in their turn that they
would only admit Lesdiguieres within their walls provided he were
accompanied neither by Louis nor the Prince de Conde; a resolution which
excited the indignation of the King, and the negotiation consequently
failed. The Connetable returned to Guienne, and once more M. de Conde
found himself in undisputed command of the royal army.

The incapacity of the Prince, the casualties of war, and the sickness
which manifested itself among the troops, had, however, greatly tended
to weaken the military resources of the sovereign; the Cardinal de Retz
and De Vic, the Keeper of the Seals, had both fallen victims to disease;
while numbers of the nobility had been killed; and De Rohan, with his
usual perspicacity, decided that the moment had now arrived in which,
could he ever hope to do so, he might be enabled to effect the desired
treaty. Louis, who had become weary of the overweening pretensions and
haughty dictation of Conde, secretly encouraged him to persist in his
attempt; and the Duke immediately exerted himself to prevail upon the
inhabitants of Montpellier to receive his Majesty into their city.

While he was thus engaged, the Prince, who soon discovered from the
altered demeanour of the King that he should be unable to prevent the
conclusion of a peace, resolved to absent himself from the army. He had
been apprised by his emissaries of the recall of Lesdiguieres, and he at
once comprehended that the presence of the Connetable could be required
for no other purpose than that of weakening his own authority, and of
thwarting his own views; and acting upon this conviction, he did not
hesitate to inform Louis that he was aware of the projected return of
the veteran noble; adding that, as he could not bring himself to obey
the orders of an individual so greatly his inferior in birth, he
preferred retiring for a time to Italy, should his Majesty graciously
accord him permission to absent himself. Louis required no entreaties to
concede this favour to his arrogant kinsman; and, accordingly, to the
undisguised satisfaction of the harassed army, the Prince departed for
Rome; the Duc de Lesdiguieres replaced him in his command; and, finally,
the King having acceded to the conditions demanded by the citizens of
the beleaguered town, they consented to receive him within their walls,
provided that at his departure he withdrew the whole of his troops.

All the terms of the treaty were observed save this last demand. An
edict of pacification was duly signed and registered; and Louis, in the
month of November, quitted Montpellier with the bulk of his army, but
left two regiments in garrison within the very heart of the city. The
Protestants were, however, too weary of warfare, and too much exhausted
by suffering, to resent this infraction of their rights; and they
consequently saw the King set forth for Lyons without expostulation or
remonstrance.[76] Had they been enabled to make a final effort, it is
probable that they might have imposed still more favourable conditions,
as after the departure of Conde Louis relapsed into his usual
helplessness; for although perfectly competent to direct the manoeuvres
of a body of troops on a review-ground, he was totally unequal to the
command of an army; and with the littleness of a narrow mind, he was at
the same time jealous of his generals; neither was he able to comprehend
either the precise political position of his own kingdom, or that of
Europe; and thus, although he assumed an appearance of authority, so
soon as the controlling influence of the paramount favourite was
withdrawn, his powers were paralyzed, and he no longer possessed any
defined principle of action.

The entry of the King at Lyons was celebrated with the utmost
magnificence. Had he achieved the conquest of half Europe he could not
have been greeted with more enthusiasm than awaited him on this
occasion, when his hand still reeked with the blood of hundreds of his
own subjects, and the shrieks of injured women and slaughtered children
were still appealing to Heaven for vengeance. Triumphal arches,
ecclesiastical and municipal processions, salvos of artillery,
flourishes of trumpets, all the pomp and circumstance of war blent with
the splendour of triumph, awaited him on his arrival in that city. The
two Queens with their separate Courts, and the Duke and Duchess of Savoy
with a brilliant retinue, were assembled to give him welcome; and while
the houseless inhabitants of Montpellier and of the smouldering villages
of Guienne were wandering about the ruins of their once happy and
prosperous homes, the streets of Lyons swarmed with velvet-clad
courtiers and jewelled dames, hurrying from ball to banquet, and wholly
absorbed in frivolity and pleasure. Theatrical performances took place
every evening; and on the 12th of November the three Courts assisted at
the marriage of Mademoiselle de Verneuil and the Marquis de la Valette,
the second son of the Duc d'Epernon, which was celebrated with great
pomp. The King presented to his sister a dowry of two hundred thousand
crowns, to which the Marquise, her mother, added one hundred thousand
more. This union was followed by that of Madame de Luynes with the
Prince de Joinville; and the two marriages were followed by Italian
comedies, fireworks, and public illuminations.[77]

The most important event, however, which occurred during the sojourn of
the King at Lyons, was the admission of the Bishop of Lucon to the
Conclave. The long-coveted hat was forwarded to the French sovereign by
Gregory XV, from whose hands it was received by Richelieu. The
Queen-mother triumphed; but neither Louis nor his ministers felt the
same exultation as Marie and her favourite; for guardedly as the new
Cardinal had borne himself while awaiting this honour, his spirit of
intrigue had already become notorious, and his extraordinary talents
excited alarm rather than confidence. The death of the Cardinal de Retz,
which had occurred while the King was with the army in Languedoc, had
created two important vacancies; one in the Holy College, and the other
in the royal Council, to both of which the astute Richelieu aspired; but
Louis, urged by his ministers, decidedly refused to admit him to the
Privy Council, and he was fain to content himself for the moment with
the honours of the scarlet hat, while M. de la Rochefoucauld was
appointed to the vacant seat in the Council.

The President Jeannin had died in the month of October, at the ripe age
of eighty-two; a demise which was followed by those of De Vic, the
Keeper of the Seals, and the Duc de Bouillon; and thus three
stumbling-blocks had been removed from the path of Richelieu, whose
professions of attachment to Marie de Medicis became more fervent than
ever; while he was meanwhile carefully measuring the strength of those
to whom he was opposed, studying the foibles of the King, and gradually
forming a party at Court which might enable him to secure his own
ultimate elevation, and to render himself independent of Marie's
protection.

The ceremony of his admission to the Conclave had no sooner been
concluded in the chapel of the Archbishop's palace, than Richelieu
hastened to place the symbol of his new dignity at the feet of his
benefactress.

"Madame," he said, at the close of a harangue full of the most
exaggerated declarations of devotion to her person, "this honour, for
which I am indebted to the benevolence of your Majesty, will ever cause
me to bear in mind the solemn vow I have made to shed my blood in
your service."

Marie listened and believed; and in addition to the scarlet hat, and the
dignity of Minister of State which it involved, the deceived Princess in
the short space of a few months bestowed upon her future enemy the
enormous sum of nine hundred thousand crowns, besides sacerdotal plate
to an almost incredible amount. No timely presentiment warned her how
the "solemn vow" was to be observed; and the influence of the selfish
and unprincipled churchman became greater than ever.[78]

The King did not return to Paris until the 10th of January (1623), and
shortly after his arrival another change took place in the ministry.
Schomberg had excited the animosity of the Chancellor Sillery, his son
the Marquis de Puisieux (who, since the death of De Luynes, had risen
greatly in the favour of Louis), and the Marquis de Caumartin,[79] who,
on the demise of M. de Vic, had been appointed Keeper of the Seals. He
was also avowedly obnoxious to M. de la Vieuville,[80] the
adjutant-general of the royal army; and these nobles combined to effect
his ruin. As, however, M. de Schomberg was protected by the Prince de
Conde, the conspirators were for a time compelled to forego their
purpose, but the Prince had no sooner taken his departure for Italy than
they hastened to poison the mind of the King against his finance
minister; an attempt in which they so easily succeeded, that although
Schomberg undertook to prove the fallacy of every charge which was
brought against him, Louis refused to admit his justification, and he
was dismissed from his charge, which was conferred upon De la Vieuville;
while by the death of De Caumartin, which shortly afterwards occurred,
Sillery once more found himself in possession of the seals. His triumph
was, however, of short duration, the King having conceived an
extraordinary aversion to the Chancellor, although he was aware that he
could not safely dispense with his services; and accordingly, a short
time subsequently, the seals were again reclaimed, and bestowed upon M.
d'Aligre.[81]

On the return of Louis XIII to the capital Anne of Austria organized two
magnificent ballets, one of which was danced in the apartments of the
King, and the other in her own. It was hinted that these splendid
entertainments were given in order to impress Lord Holland with a high
idea of the splendour of the French Court, that nobleman having been
instructed by James I. to endeavour to effect a marriage between the
Prince of Wales and Madame Elisabeth; and great was the astonishment of
the royal party when they ascertained that the Prince himself, attended
by the Duke of Buckingham, had been present incognito, both personages
being disguised with false beards and enormously bushy wigs; and that,
after only remaining one day in Paris, they had pursued their journey to
Spain, where Charles was about to demand the hand of the Infanta. It
was, moreover, afterwards ascertained that having arrived in the French
capital on the evening before that of the royal ballet, the Prince and
his companions had gone disguised to the Louvre to see the Queen-mother
at table, and had introduced themselves as travelling nobles into a
gallery in which Louis was walking surrounded by his courtiers; after
which they had induced the Duc de Montbazon to allow them to enter the
hall in which the festival was to take place. There Charles saw for the
first time the young Queen of Louis XIII, with the portrait of whose
sister he had become enamoured, and also Madame Henriette, who was
subsequently destined to become his wife. But it would appear that the
French Princess whom he so tenderly loved in after-years made, on this
occasion, no impression upon his mind; as, still eager to convince
himself that the Spanish Infanta was as beautiful as the miniature in
his possession, he set forth on the following day for Madrid, as he had
originally intended.[82]

La Vieuville and his party (at the head of which figured the
Queen-mother, who could not brook that Louis should retain about his
person a minister whose influence counterbalanced her own) began in the
spring of 1624 to make new efforts to effect the disgrace of the veteran
Chancellor and his son M. de Puisieux; both of whom had, moreover,
incurred the hatred of Richelieu by their endeavours to oppose his
admission to the Conclave; and the continual representations of the
cabal soon produced so marked an alteration in the bearing of the King
towards Sillery, that the latter resolved not to await the dismissal
which he foresaw would not be long delayed. Pretexting, therefore, his
great age--for he had attained his eightieth year--and his serious
sufferings from gout, by which he was disabled from following his
Majesty in his perpetual journeys to the provinces, he entreated
permission to retire from the Government, an indulgence which was
conceded without difficulty; and the seals transferred, as we have
already stated, to M. d'Aligre; and although Louis continued to treat De
Puisieux with studied courtesy, the rival faction soon discovered that
his favour was at an end. On several occasions the King gave audiences
to the different foreign ambassadors without desiring his presence,
although as Secretary of State it had hitherto been considered
indispensable; and finally, both father and son were informed that they
were at liberty to quit the Court.

The exultation of Marie de Medicis at their dismissal was undisguised,
and she immediately took measures to secure the admission of Richelieu
to the ministry; for which purpose she endeavoured to secure the
interests of La Vieuville. For a time, however, the finance minister
declined to second her views, as neither he nor his colleagues were
desirous of the co-operation of a man whom they distrusted; but Marie,
who would suffer no repulse, at length succeeded in overcoming his
repugnance, and he was ultimately induced to urge upon the King the
expediency of compliance with the wishes of his mother; although under
certain restrictions which might tend to curb the intriguing and
ambitious spirit of the enterprising candidate.

At this period the Court was sojourning at Compiegne; and on one
occasion, as Louis, according to his custom, paid his morning visit to
the Queen-mother in her sleeping-apartment, he announced, to her extreme
delight, that he had appointed the Cardinal de Richelieu Councillor of
State; warning her, however, that he must rest satisfied with a
subordinate authority, and not permit himself to suggest measures which
had not previously been considered by the King himself.

That Louis nevertheless made this concession with reluctance is
evidenced by the fact that he forthwith wrote to M. de Conde, who was
then residing at Bourges, to invite him to return to Court in order to
counterbalance the influence of the Queen-mother, which the admission of
her favourite to the Privy Council could not fail greatly to augment.
The appeal was, however, fruitless; the Prince considering himself
aggrieved not only by the elevation of an individual to whom he justly
attributed his imprisonment in the Bastille, but also by the increased
power of Marie de Medicis, and he consequently coldly returned his
thanks for the desire evinced by his royal kinsman to see him once more
near his person, but declared his intention of remaining in his
government.[83]

From this period the prominent figure upon the canvas of the time is
Richelieu. He it was who negotiated the marriage of the Prince of Wales
with Madame Henriette, after the alliance with Spain had been abandoned
by James I. To him the Marquis de la Vieuville owed his disgrace, and by
his representations the Queen-mother enlisted the young Prince Gaston
d'Anjou in his interests. All bent, or was crushed, before him; he had
affected to accept office reluctantly; pleaded his physical weakness,
even while he admitted his mental strength, declaring that his bodily
infirmities incapacitated him from collision with the toil and turmoil
of state affairs; and coquetted with the honours for which he had
striven throughout long years until he almost succeeded in inducing
those about him to believe that he sacrificed his own inclinations to
the will of the sovereign and his mother.[84] But history has proved
that having once possessed himself of the supreme power, and moulded the
mind of his royal master to his own purposes, he flung off all
restraint, and governed the nation like a monarch, while its legitimate
sovereign obeyed his behests, and made peace or war, as the necessity of
either measure was dictated to him by his imperious minister.

And amid all this pomp of power and pride of place, how did the
purple-robed politician regard the generous benefactress who had
furthered his brilliant fortunes? It cannot be forgotten that the
wretched Concini had been his first patron, and that when one word of
warning from his lips might have saved the Marechal from assassination,
those lips had remained closed; that he had even affected to slumber
with the death-warrant of the victim beneath his pillow, and had striven
to rise upon his ruin. The after-career of Richelieu did not belie its
commencement. The glorious talents with which Heaven had gifted him
festered into a curse beneath his ambition; he became the marvel of the
whole civilized world, and the scourge of those who trusted in his
sincerity.

That Marie was as eager as Richelieu himself for the alliance with
England is undoubted; for while the latter, whose enlarged political
views led him to seek through this medium to curb the growing power of
Austria and Spain, looked only to the aggrandizement of the nation which
he served, the Queen-mother was equally anxious to secure for herself a
safe asylum in the event of any new reverse; and consequently on this
particular subject they acted in unison, the Cardinal openly striving to
attain his own object, and Marie de Medicis secretly negotiating at the
Court of St. James's to effect a marriage by which she believed that she
should ensure her future safety.

The difference of religion between the contracting parties necessarily
induced considerable difficulties, but as these were never, at that
period, suffered to interfere with any great question of national
policy, Richelieu unhesitatingly undertook to obtain the consent of the
Sovereign-Pontiff, who, as the minister had foreseen, finally accorded
the required dispensation. Nor was he deterred from his purpose by the
opposition of the Spanish monarch, who caused his ambassador to assure
Marie de Medicis that, in the event of her inducing the King to bestow
the hand of the Princesse Henriette upon the Infant Don Carlos, he would
secure to that Prince the sovereignty of the Catholic Low Countries on
the demise of the Archduchess Isabella, and meanwhile the royal couple
could take up their abode at Brussels under the guardianship of that
Princess.[85]

The Queen-mother, however, placed no faith in the sincerity of this
promise, while Richelieu met it by an instant negative, declaring that
"every one was aware that Spain was like a canker which gnawed and
devoured every substance to which it attached itself." [86] And
meanwhile Louis, glad to have once more found an individual alike able
and willing to take upon himself the responsibility of government,
suffered the Cardinal to pursue his negotiation with England. The dowry
demanded by James with the Princess was eight hundred thousand crowns,
half of which was to be paid down on the eve of the marriage, and the
remainder within eighteen months, while it was further stipulated that,
in the event of her dying before her husband, and without issue, a
moiety only of the entire sum was to be repaid by the Prince.

During the progress of this treaty, the Marquis de la Vieuville, whose
rapid elevation had created for him a host of virulent and active
enemies, was suddenly dismissed. Although not gifted with remarkable
talents, M. de la Vieuville was a man of uprightness and integrity, who
commenced his office as Superintendent of Finance by reducing the
exorbitant salaries and pensions of the great officers of state and
other nobles. This was not, however, his worst crime. Well aware of the
constitutional timidity of the monarch, he had assumed an authority
which rendered him odious to all those whose ambition prompted them to
essay their own powers of governing, and among these, as a natural
consequence, was the Cardinal de Richelieu, who, despising the abilities
of the finance minister, chafed under his own inferiority of place, and
did not fail to imbue the Queen-mother with the same feeling. La
Vieuville was accused of arrogating to himself an amount of authority
wholly incompatible with his office, and it is impossible to suppress a
smile while contemplating the fact that this accusation was brought
against him by the very individual who, only a few months subsequently,
ruled both the monarch and the nation with a rod of iron.

The desired end was, however, attained. Weak and vain, as well as
personally incompetent, Louis XIII was easily led to fear those upon
whom he had himself conferred the power of lessening his own authority;
and as so many interests were involved in the overthrow of De la
Vieuville, it was soon decided. Fearful of betraying his own personal
views, Richelieu took no active measures in this dismissal, nor were any
such needed; as, in addition to his other errors, the finance minister
had, by a singular want of judgment, excited against himself the
indignation of Monsieur by committing his governor, Colonel d'Ornano, to
the Bastille, upon the pretext that he had instigated the Prince to
demand admission to the Council in order that he might obtain a
knowledge of public affairs, but with the sole intention of procuring
his own access to the Government. The jealousy of Louis was at once
aroused by this assurance; and the arrest of his brother's friend and
confidant had, as a natural consequence, resulted from the minister's
ill-advised representation, an insult which Gaston so violently resented
that he forthwith entered into the cabal against De la Vieuville, and
thus seconded the views of the Queen-mother, who was anxious to replace
the obnoxious minister by the Cardinal de Richelieu.

True to his character, on being apprised of the powerful faction formed
against him, De la Vieuville resolved to tender his resignation, and
thus to deprive his enemies of the triumph of causing his disgrace, for
which purpose he proceeded to declare to the King his desire to withdraw
from the high office which had been conferred upon him. Louis XIII
simply replied: "Make yourself perfectly easy, and pay no attention to
what is going forward. When I have no longer occasion for your services,
I will tell you so myself; and you shall have my permission to come and
take leave of me before your departure."

On the following day De la Vieuville accordingly presented himself as
usual during the sitting of the Privy Council, when the King abruptly
exclaimed: "I redeem the promise which I made to tell you when I could
dispense with your services. I have resolved to do so; and you are at
liberty to take your leave." The ex-minister, bewildered by so
extraordinary a reception, attempted no rejoinder, but hastened to quit
the royal presence. He had, however, no sooner reached the gallery than
he was arrested by the Marquis de Thermes, and conveyed as a prisoner to
the citadel of Amboise, whence he made his escape a year afterwards.[87]

The result of this arrest was a total change in the aspect of the Court.
M. de Marillac[88] succeeded to the vacant superintendence of finance;
the Comte de Schomberg was recalled to the capital, and made a member of
the Privy Council; D'Ornano was liberated from the Bastille, restored to
his position in the household of the Duc d'Anjou, and honoured with a
marshal's _baton_; while, to complete the moral revolution, Richelieu
was appointed chief of the Council, and became, as the Queen-mother had
anticipated, all-powerful over the weak and timid mind of the King under
his new character of Minister of State.

Fully occupied as the Cardinal might have found himself by the foreign
wars into which his ambition ere long plunged his royal master, he was
nevertheless compelled to turn his attention to the intrigues of certain
great ladies of the Court, which threatened internal dissension, and in
which the two Queens ultimately became involved. The young Duc d'Anjou,
whose prepossessing manners and handsome person had rendered him
universally popular, began about this time to awaken the distrust and
jealousy of the King; a feeling which was heightened by the marked
preference evinced by Marie de Medicis for her younger son. The marriage
of the Prince with the wealthy heiress of Montpensier, whose mother had
espoused the Duc de Guise, had long been decided; but as Gaston had
hitherto evinced the utmost indifference towards his destined bride, the
subject had elicited little attention. Suddenly, however, this
indifference gave place to the most marked admiration; and it became
evident that he was seriously contemplating an alliance with the
Princess who had been designed for him by his father. In so trivial and
dissolute a Court as that of France at this period, it is needless to
remark to how many fears and regrets such a resolution immediately gave
birth; nor was it long ere two separate cabals were formed--the one
favouring, and the other seeking to impede, the marriage. Passion and
party-feeling overthrew every barrier of decency and dignity; and from
this moment may be traced that insurmountable aversion which Louis XIII
subsequently exhibited alike towards the Queen his wife and the Prince
his brother.

It no sooner became apparent to the Court circle that the Princesse de
Conti gave perpetual entertainments, in order to afford to Gaston
constant opportunity for conversing with Mademoiselle de Montpensier,
than the enemies of the Guises leagued together to inspire the King with
their own fears, declaring that such an accession of influence as must
accrue to that haughty house by an alliance with the heir-presumptive
threatened the stability of the throne; representations which were
rendered the more powerful by the extraordinary fact that the Duchesse
de Joyeuse, who was herself the wife of a younger brother of the Guises,
and the Marquise de la Valette, whose husband was a near relation of the
Princesse de Montpensier, were both loud in their entreaties that the
brother of the King should not be permitted to contract the alliance
which he contemplated. But while Louis was bewildered by this seeming
contradiction, Richelieu thoroughly appreciated its real motive, being
well aware of the enmity which existed between Mesdames de Joyeuse and
de la Valette and the Princesse de Conti, who had long ceased to
dissemble their dislike; and who were consequently overjoyed to oppose
any undertaking to which the adverse party was pledged.

The two former ladies, who were the most confidential friends of the
young Queen, found little difficulty in exciting her alarm, and in
inducing her to assist them in their endeavours to thwart a marriage by
which, as they asserted, her own personal interests were threatened; nor
did they scruple to remind her that in the event of the King's demise,
an occurrence which his feeble constitution and frequent indisposition
rendered far from improbable, it was necessary for her own future
welfare that the heir-presumptive to the Crown should remain unmarried
as long as possible.

"What must be your fate, Madame," they insidiously urged, "should his
Majesty die without issue? Should you be willing to retire to a cloister
while Mademoiselle de Montpensier took your place upon the throne? Or,
even supposing that the King survives, and that you continue childless
while the Prince becomes the father of a son, whom all France will
regard as its future sovereign, how will you be able to brook the
comparative insignificance to which you must be reduced? You will do
well to consider these things; and to remember that, in the event of
your widowhood, your interest requires that the successor of your
present consort should be in a position to secure to you the same
station as that which you now hold."

These artful representations produced the desired effect upon the mind
of Anne of Austria, who, alike haughty and vain, could not brook to
anticipate any diminution of her dignity; and she accordingly lost no
time in impressing upon Louis the danger to which he would expose
himself by allowing his brother to form an alliance that could not fail
to balance his own power in the kingdom. Naturally jealous and
distrustful, the King listened eagerly to her reasoning; and while the
young Prince continued to pay his court each day more assiduously to
the noble and wealthy heiress, the adverse faction, under the sanction
of the sovereign, were labouring no less zealously to contravene his
views. In conjunction with the Queen, there were not wanting several
individuals who, moreover, pointed out to the monarch that should Gaston
be permitted to accomplish the contemplated marriage, he would be thus
enabled to gain over the still existing leaders of the League, and the
party of the Prince de Conde, who, already disaffected towards his own
person, would not fail to embrace the interests of his brother. More and
more alarmed by each succeeding argument, Louis forthwith summoned M.
d'Ornano to his presence, and peremptorily commanded him to put an
immediate stop to the intrigues which were going on upon the subject of
the projected alliance; and to forbid the Prince, in his name, to form
any engagement with Mademoiselle de Montpensier.[89]

Few orders could have been more agreeable to the governor of Gaston,
who, aware that both Richelieu and the Queen-mother ardently desired the
accomplishment of a marriage which, while it must greatly enrich the
Prince and augment his influence, would nevertheless still render him
amenable to their authority, was on his side eager to effect his
alliance with a foreign princess, for the express purpose of
emancipating him from a dependence which interfered with his own
influence, and threatened his personal ambition. Meanwhile the Prince
himself was divided between his affection for the beautiful heiress and
his desire to shake off the yoke of the Cardinal-Minister, to which he
submitted with ill-disguised impatience; and thus, although less
ostensibly, each faction continued to intrigue as busily as ever.

FOOTNOTES:

[61] _Mercure Francais_, 1621. Bernard, book v.

[62] Mezeray, vol. xi. pp. 221, 222.

[63] Richelieu, _Mem_. book xii. pp. 118-128. Rohan, _Mem_. book ii. pp.
183-185. Bazin, vol. iii. pp. 132-138.

[64] Bassompierre, _Mem_. vol. ii. pp. 493, 494.

[65] Le Vassor, vol. ii. p. 421. Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 492, 493.
Bassompierre, _Mem_. vol. ii. p. 358.

[66] Le Vassor, vol. ii. p. 421. _Mercure Francais_, 1621.

[67] Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 497, 498.

[68] Mezeray, vol. xi. pp. 230-232.

[69] Marguerite de Souvre, Marquise de Sable, was the wife of Philippe
Emmanuel de Laval-Montmorency. She died in 1678, in her
seventy-sixth year.

[70] Motteville, _Mem_. vol. i. pp. 340-342.

[71] Bassompierre, _Mem_. vol. ii. p. 376. Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 499,
500.

[72] Mezeray, vol. xi. pp. 232, 233. Sismondi, _Hist. des Francais_,
vol. xxii. p. 501.

[73] Le Vassor, vol. ii. p. 457.

[74] Bassompierre, _Mem_. vol. ii. p. 389.

[75] Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 504-506.

[76] Sismondi, vol. xxii. pp. 510-512. Mezeray, vol. xi. pp. 238-240.

[77] Bassompierre, _Mem_. vol. ii. p. 492. Brienne, _Mem_. vol. i. p.
371. Mezeray, vol. xi. pp. 242, 243.

[78] Le Vassor, vol. ii. p. 525.

[79] Louis Le Febvre, Marquis de Caumartin, President of the Privy
Council, and Keeper of the Seals in 1622, died in the following year at
the age of seventy-two. He was a man of great talent, and an able
politician.

[80] Charles de la Vieuville, subsequently created duke.

[81] Etienne d'Aligre was a native of Chartres, and owed his advancement
in life solely to his great talents. He became successively steward of
the household to the Cardinal Charles de Bourbon, Councillor of State,
Keeper of the Seals, and subsequently, on the death of M. de Sillery,
Chancellor of France. Two years afterwards, having resigned the seals,
he retired to one of his estates, where he died on the 11th of December
1635, at the age of seventy-five years.

[82] Brienne, _Mem_. vol. i. pp. 373, 374. Bassompierre, _Mem_. vol.
iii. p. 6. Le Vassor, vol. ii. pp. 546, 547.

[83] Mezeray, vol. xi. pp. 260-263. Sismondi, vol. xxii. p. 534.

[84] Richelieu, _Mem_. book xv. pp. 284-286.

[85] Le Vassor, vol. ii. p. 615. Siri, _Mem. Rec_. vol. v. pp. 595, 596.

[86] Richelieu, _Mem_. book xv. p. 296.

[87] Mezeray, vol. xi. pp. 267-269. Le Vassor, vol. ii. p. 621.

[88] Michel de Marillac was born in 1563. He was successively Councillor
in the Parliament of Paris, Master of the Court of Requests, Councillor
of State, Superintendent of Finance, and Keeper of the Seals (1626).
Four years subsequently he was involved in the disgrace of his brother
the Marechal de Marillac, and was compelled to resign the seals (1630).
He was then conveyed to the fortress of Caen, whence he was finally
removed to that of Chateaudun, where he died of grief on the 7th of
August 1632. He was the author of the _Code Michau_, a translation of
the Psalms into French verse, and several other works.

[89] Le Vassor, edit. 1717, vol. v. pp. 110-112. Bassompierre, vol. iii.
pp. 13-15. Sismondi, vol. xxiii. p. 12. Fontenay-Mareuil, vol. ii. p. 4.

CHAPTER V

1625-28

Death of James I.--The Princesse Henriette is married by
proxy to Charles I.--The Duke of Buckingham arrives in France
to conduct his young sovereign to her new country--An arrogant
suitor--Departure of the English Queen--Indisposition of Marie
de Medicis--Arrival of Henriette in London--Growing power of
Richelieu--Suspicions of the Queen-mother--Influence of the
Jesuit Berulle over Marie de Medicis--Richelieu urges Monsieur
to conclude his marriage with Mademoiselle de Montpensier--Character
of Gaston--He refuses to accept the hand of the lady--Arrest of M.
d'Ornano--Vengeance of Richelieu--Indignation of Monsieur--Alarm of the
Queen-mother--Pusillanimity of Gaston--Arrest of the Vendome
Princes--Edicts issued against the great nobles--Sumptuary
laws--Execution of the Comte de Bouteville--The reign of
Richelieu--Policy of Marie and her minister--Distrust of the
King--Conspiracy against the Cardinal--Richelieu threatens to retire
from office--A diplomatic drama--Triumph of the Cardinal--Execution of
Chalais--Heartlessness of Gaston--Monsieur consents to an alliance with
Mademoiselle de Montpensier--A royal marriage--The victims of
Richelieu--Marie de Medicis and the Cardinal endeavour to increase
the dissension between Louis XIII and his Queen--Exile of the
Duchesse de Joyeuse--Accusation against Anne of Austria--She
becomes a state prisoner--Subtlety of Richelieu--Anticipated
rupture with England--Embassy of Bassompierre--Death of the Duc de
Lesdiguieres--Favour of Saint-Simon--Pregnancy of the Duchesse
d'Orleans--Dissolute conduct of Monsieur--Birth of Mademoiselle--Death
of Madame--Marie de Medicis seeks to effect a marriage between Monsieur
and a Florentine Princess--Buckingham lands in France, but is
repulsed--Illness of Louis XIII--Disgust of the Duc d'Orleans--Louis
wearies of the camp--He is incensed against the Cardinal--The King
returns to Paris--Monsieur affects a passion for the Princesse Marie de
Gonzaga, which alarms the sovereign--His distrust of the
Queen-mother--Marie de Medicis withdraws her confidence from the
Cardinal--Mother and son--Louis returns to La Rochelle--The city
capitulates--Triumphal entry of Louis XIII into Paris--Exhortation of
the Papal Nuncio.

The death of James I. and the succession of Charles, Prince of Wales, to
the English throne, at the commencement of the year 1625, excited the
greatest uneasiness at the Court of France, where all parties were alike
anxious for the arrival of the Papal dispensation. Nor was the new
monarch himself less desirous of completing the contemplated alliance,
as only three days were suffered to elapse after the demise of his royal
father ere he hastened to ratify the treaty, and to make preparations
for its immediate fulfilment.[90]

On the arrival of the long-expected courier from Rome the dispensation
was delivered into the hands of Marie de Medicis by Spada, the Papal
Nuncio; and on the 8th of May the Duc de Chevreuse, whom Charles had
appointed as his proxy, signed the contract of marriage, conjointly with
the Earl of Carlisle and Lord Holland, who officiated as Ambassadors
Extraordinary from the Court of St. James's. At the ceremonial of the
marriage, which took place on the 11th of May, the difference of
religion between the English monarch and the French Princess compelled
the observance of certain conventional details which were all
scrupulously fulfilled. The Cardinal de la Rochefoucauld, Grand Almoner
of France, pronounced the nuptial benediction on a platform erected
before the portal of Notre-Dame, after which the Duc de Chevreuse and
the English Ambassadors conducted the young Queen to the entrance of the
choir, and retired until the conclusion of the mass, when they rejoined
Louis XIII and their new sovereign at the same spot, and accompanied
them to the great hall of the archiepiscopal palace, where a sumptuous
banquet had been prepared.[91]

Some days subsequently, George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, arrived
unexpectedly in Paris, to urge the immediate departure of the Princess
for her new kingdom, and to express the impatience of the King his
master to welcome her to his dominions. The extraordinary magnificence
displayed by Buckingham on this occasion was the comment of the whole
Court, while the remarkable beauty of his person excited no less
admiration than the splendour of his apparel; nor was it long ere the
scandal-mongers of the royal circle whispered that it had not failed in
its effect upon the fancy, if not upon the heart, of Anne of Austria,
who received his homage with an evident delight which flattered the
vanity of the brilliant visitor. High in favour with his sovereign, and
anxious to profit by so favourable an opportunity of enhancing his own
personal attractions, Buckingham appeared at the Court festivals attired
in the Crown jewels, and indulged in a reckless profusion which enriched
all with whom he came into contact, and soon rendered him a general
favourite. Aware of the impression that he had produced, the English
Duke, whose ambition was as great as his gallantry, soon suffered
himself to be betrayed into an undisguised admiration of the French
Queen, which led him to commit a thousand unbecoming follies; while Anne
was on her side so imprudent that her most partial biographer deemed it
necessary to advance an apology for her levity by declaring that "it
should excite no astonishment if he had the happiness to make this
beautiful Queen acknowledge that if a virtuous woman had been able to
love another better than her husband, he would have been the only person
who could have pleased her." [92]

Fortunately, alike for the thoughtless Anne and the audacious favourite,
this dangerous intercourse was abruptly terminated by the departure of
Madame Henrietta, who left the capital in great pomp, accompanied by the
King her brother (who was to proceed only as far as Compiegne), and by
the two Queens, from whom she was not to separate until the moment of
her embarkation at Boulogne, where the vessels of Charles awaited her
arrival. On reaching Amiens, however, Marie de Medicis was attacked by
sudden indisposition; and as, after a delay of several days, it was
found impossible that she should continue her journey, the English Queen
was compelled to take leave of her august mother and sister-in-law in
that city, and to proceed to the coast under the escort of Monsieur, who
was attended by the Ducs de Luxembourg and de Bellegarde, the Marechal
de Bassompierre, the Marquis d'Alencourt, and the Vicomte de Brigueil.
On the 22nd of June the royal fleet set sail, and in twenty-four hours
Queen Henrietta reached Dover; where she was met by her impatient
consort, who, on the following day, conducted her to Canterbury; and in
the course of July she made her entry into London, whence, however, she
was immediately removed to Hampton Court, the prevalence of the plague
in the capital rendering her sojourn there unsafe.

Having witnessed the departure of the royal bride for her new kingdom,
Monsieur and his brilliant train returned to Amiens; and on the recovery
of the Queen-mother the whole of the august party retraced their steps
to Paris, whence they shortly afterwards proceeded to Fontainebleau.[93]

At this period Richelieu had become all-powerful He possessed the entire
confidence alike of the King and of the Queen-mother. He had been
appointed chief of the Council, and possessed such unlimited authority
that he opened the despatches, and issued orders without even asking the
sanction of Marie de Medicis, whose influence was rapidly becoming
merely nominal; and whose favour he treated so lightly that he never
appeared at Court during the absence of the King lest the jealousy of
Louis should be aroused, and he should be induced to believe that the
wily minister still acknowledged the supremacy of his ancient
benefactress;[94] while he flattered the ambition of the war-loving
monarch by attributing to him personally all the success which attended
his own measures alike in the foreign and civil contests which were at
that period writing the history of the French nation in characters
of blood.

[Illustration: THE CARDINAL DE RICHELIEU.]

Marie de Medicis was, however, slow to discover the falling-off of her
long-cherished favourite. She still dwelt upon the years in which he
had, as she fondly believed, devoted himself to her interests, when
others in whom she had equally trusted had shrunk from all participation
in her altered fortunes; and she was, moreover, conscious that to his
counsels she was indebted for much of the prudence and ability which she
had displayed on occasions of difficulty. It was, consequently, painful
and almost impossible to suspect that now, when she was once more
restored to the confidence of her son, and had resumed that position in
the government which she had so long coveted in vain, he could sacrifice
her to his own ambition. But Marie de Medicis, subtle politician as
she esteemed herself, was utterly incapable of appreciating the
character of Richelieu. She had now reached her fifty-third year; she
was no longer necessary to the fortunes of the man whose greatness had
been her own work, and she had ceased to interest him either as a woman
or as a Queen. She had, moreover, become devout; and her increasing
attachment for the Jesuit Berulle (for whom she subsequently obtained a
seat in the Conclave) rendered her less observant of the neglect to
which she was subjected by the minister; while her superstition,
together with the prejudices and jealousies in which she indulged,
occupied her mind, and blinded her to the efforts which the Cardinal was
hourly making to reduce her to absolute insignificance.

Perhaps no greater proof of the unbounded influence which Richelieu had
obtained over the mind of the King at this period can be adduced than is
afforded by the fact that although, as we have shown, Louis had
stringently forbidden all further mention of his brother's marriage with
Mademoiselle de Montpensier, and Gaston had at length consented to
relinquish his claim to her hand, the Cardinal found little difficulty
in inducing the sovereign to rescind this order, and to instruct M.
d'Ornano to determine the weak and timid Prince to renew his addresses
to the heiress, and to hasten the completion of the marriage ceremonies.

Gaston d'Anjou had attained his seventeenth year; and although of more
robust temperament than the King, he was constitutionally indolent and
undecided. His after-history proves him to have been alike an incapable
diplomatist, a timid leader, and a false and fickle friend; but as yet
no suspicion of his courage or good faith had been entertained by any
party, and he was consequently the centre around which rallied every
cabal in turn. He was moreover, as we have already stated, the favourite
son of the Queen-mother, who saw in him not only a cherished child but
also a political ally. By securing the support of Gaston, Marie believed
that she should be the more readily enabled to maintain her influence,
and to protect herself against any future aggression on the part of
Louis, with whom she felt her apparent reconciliation to be at once
hollow and unstable; and as the vain and vacillating character of the
Prince readily lent itself to the projects of each cabal in succession,
so long as it did not interfere with his pleasures, every party in turn
believed him to be devoted to its especial interests, and calculated
upon his support whenever the struggle should commence. Thus, while
himself jealous of Louis, whose crown he envied, Gaston d'Anjou was no
less an object of distrust and terror to the King; who, whatever may
have been his other defects, was never found deficient in personal
courage; and who could not consequently comprehend that with every
inclination to play the conspirator, the young Prince was utterly
incapable of guiding or even supporting any party powerful and honest

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