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

Part 4 out of 6

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penetrate into the royal closet.

At the moment of his appearance Louis was seated in a huge chair of
crimson velvet with a scroll of parchment before him, and a pen already
in his hand; while Marie de Medicis stood beside him, the tears chasing
each other down her cheeks, and her whole frame trembling with
excitement.

"_Per Dio!_" was the first exclamation of the Queen, as she hurriedly
snatched the scroll from the table, and forming it into a roll, thrust
it into her girdle; "are you here, _Cardinale_?"

"I am here, Madame," replied Richelieu with perfect composure; "and I am
here because your Majesties were speaking of me."

"You are wrong, Monseigneur," murmured the King.

"Nay, Sire," persisted the minister, turning towards Marie de Medicis;
"your august mother will, I am convinced, own that such was the case."

"You are right, Sir," admitted the Tuscan Princess, no longer able or
anxious to restrain her resentment; "we were speaking of you, and you
had just cause to dread the results of such a conversation. We were
expatiating upon your treachery, your ingratitude, and your vices; and
the subject was a copious one."

"Ah, Madame!" expostulated Richelieu, as he fell upon his knees before
his irritated mistress. "What have I done to forfeit your favour? How
have I sacrificed your esteem?"

"_Miserabile! miserabile_!" cried the Queen-mother; "dare you ask _how_?
But it is idle to bandy words with such as you; _teme mia vendetta_!"

"At least, Madame, suffer M. le Ministre to justify himself," stammered
out Louis; "he may perhaps convince you that you have wronged him."

"Wronged him!" echoed Marie with a contemptuous gesture. "Even his ready
eloquence must prove powerless beside the experience of the past.
Henceforward there can be no trust or fellowship between the widow of
Henry the Great and her discarded servant."

"In that case, Sire," said the Cardinal, rising from his abject posture
at the feet of the Queen-mother, and throwing himself at those of the
King, "I can no longer offer my unworthy services to your Majesty, as it
is not for me to contend against the will of my royal mistress."

Terrified by this threat, which renewed his sense of utter helplessness,
Louis faintly endeavoured to intercede in behalf of the man upon whom he
had so long leant for support; but Marie impetuously interposed.

"You have heard my decision, Sir," she said haughtily; "and it is now
for you to choose between your mother and your valet." [137]

Finding that all interference on his part must prove ineffectual, the
King suddenly rose, remarking that it was late, and that as he had
resolved to return to Versailles he had no time to lose. Richelieu, who
had not yet recovered sufficient self-possession to entreat a
continuance of his intercession, remained motionless as he left the
room; while the indignation of the Queen-mother at so undignified a
retreat rendered her equally unable to expostulate; and meanwhile Louis,
delighted to escape from all participation in so dangerous a contention,
sprang into the carriage which was awaiting him, and beckoning his new
favourite M. de Saint-Simon to take his place beside him, set off at
full speed for the suburban palace where he had taken up his
temporary abode.

After the departure of the King, Richelieu made a fresh effort to
overcome the anger of Marie de Medicis; he still knelt humbly before
her, he supplicated, he even wept, for the Cardinal was never at a loss
for tears when they were likely to produce an effect upon his hearers;
but all was vain. The Queen-mother turned from him with a contemptuous
gesture; and gathering her heavy drapery about her, walked haughtily
from the room.

The eyes of the prostrate minister followed her as she withdrew with a
glance in which all the evil passions of his soul were revealed as if in
a mirror. He believed himself to be utterly lost; and when he reached
the Petit Luxembourg, where he had lodged since his arrival in the
capital, he gave orders that his carriages should be packed, and
immediately proceed to Pontoise, on their way to Havre de Grace, where
he had hastily determined to seek an asylum.[138] In a few hours all was
in movement in the vicinity of his residence. A long train of mules
laden with what many asserted to be chests of treasure, first took the
road under the escort of a body of military, with strict orders not to
halt in any village lest they should be pillaged; and meanwhile the
Cardinal hurriedly terminated his more important arrangements and
prepared to follow.

In this occupation he was interrupted by his fast friend the Cardinal de
la Valette, by whom he was earnestly urged to forego his resolution, and
instead of flying from the capital, and thus ensuring the triumph of
his enemies, to hasten without loss of time to Versailles, in order to
plead his cause with the King. This advice, coupled as it was with the
judicious representations of his brother-prelate, once more awakened the
hopes of Richelieu, who stepped into a carriage which was in waiting,
and with renewed energy set off at all speed from Paris. This day had
been one of intense suffering for the Cardinal; who, in addition to the
personal humiliation to which he had been exposed, had ascertained
before his intrusion into the royal closet that Louis had, at the
entreaty of the Queen-mother, already signed a letter in which he
conferred upon the Marechal de Marillac the command of his army and the
direction of public affairs in Italy; and that a courier had moreover
left Paris with the despatch. Nevertheless, yielding to the arguments of
MM. de la Valette and de Chateauneuf, Richelieu readily consoled himself
by recalling the timid and unstable character of Louis, and the
recollection of the eminent services which he had rendered to France.
Siri even asserts that before the Court left Lyons an understanding had
been come to between the King and his minister, and that the exile of
Marie was then and there decided.

Be this as it may, however, it is certain that all parties believed in
the utter overthrow of Richelieu; and while he was yet on his way to
Versailles, the ballad-singers of the Pont Neuf were publicly
distributing the songs and pamphlets which they had hitherto only vended
by stealth; and the dwarf of the Samaritaine was delighting the crowd by
his mimicry of _Maitre Gonin_. At the corners of the different streets
groups of citizens were exchanging congratulations; and within the
palace all the courtiers were commenting upon the approaching triumph of
M. de Marillac, whose attachment to the interests of the Queen-mother
and the Duc d'Orleans had rendered him popular not only with the bulk of
the people, but also with the Parliament. Already were the presidents
and councillors of the law-courts discussing the charges to be brought
against the fallen minister in order to justify his dismissal; while the
foreign ambassadors were equally alert in writing to acquaint their
several courts with the overthrow of Richelieu and the supremacy of the
Queen-mother.

The _salons_ of Marie de Medicis were crowded. All the great nobles who
had hitherto haunted the antechambers of the Cardinal, and awaited his
pleasure as humbly as that of the sovereign himself, now swarmed in the
gilded galleries and stately halls of the Luxembourg; feathers waved and
jewels flashed on every side; the wand of an enchanter had passed over
the Court, and the metamorphosis was complete. In the centre of this
brilliant throng stood Marie de Medicis, radiant with joy, and holding
the young Queen by the hand; while Monsieur took up his station a few
paces from them, laughing and jesting with his favourites.

Heaven only knows what hopes and projects were formed that day--how many
air-built castles were erected which in a few brief hours were fated to
vanish into nothingness. Even Bassompierre, whose courtly tact had never
hitherto deserted him, was blinded like the rest; and he, who had
hitherto so assiduously paid his court to the Cardinal that he appeared
to have forgotten the time when he was devoted heart and soul to the
fortunes of the Queen-mother, suffered five days to elapse before he
found leisure to bend his steps towards the Petit Luxembourg; an
omission which he was subsequently destined to expiate in the dungeons
of the Bastille.

Louis, meanwhile, had reached Versailles with his equerry and favourite,
M. de Saint-Simon, to whom he bitterly inveighed against the violence of
his mother; declaring that he could not dispense with the services of
Richelieu, and that he should again have to contend against the same
humiliations and difficulties which he had endured throughout the
Regency. As the ill-humour of the King augmented, Saint-Simon privately
sent to inform the Cardinal de la Valette of the undisguised annoyance
of his Majesty, who was evidently prepared to revoke the dismissal of
Richelieu should he be urged to do so; and that prelate, acting upon the
suggestion, lost no time in presenting himself before the monarch.
"Cousin," said Louis with a smile, as M. de la Valette entered the
apartment, "you must be surprised at what has taken place."

"More so, Sire, than your Majesty can possibly imagine," was the reply.

"Well then," pursued the King, "return to the Cardinal de Richelieu, and
tell him from me to come here upon the instant. He will find me an
indulgent master."

M. de la Valette required no second bidding. Richelieu had concealed
himself in a cottage near the palace, awaiting a favourable moment to
retrieve his tottering fortunes, and he hastened to obey the welcome
summons. The results of this interview even exceeded the hopes of the
minister; and before he left the royal closet he was once more Prime
Minister of France, generalissimo of the armies beyond the Alps, and
carried in his hand an order signed by Louis for the transfer of the
seals from M. de Marillac to his own friend and adherent Chateauneuf;
together with a second for the recall of the Marechal de Marillac, who
had only on the previous day been appointed to the command of the army
in Italy.[139]

One obstacle alone remained to the full and unlimited power of the
exulting minister, who had not failed to perceive that henceforward his
influence over the sovereign could never again be shaken; and that
obstacle was Marie de Medicis. Louis, even while he persecuted and
thwarted his mother, had never ceased to fear her; and the wily minister
resolved, in order the more surely to compass her ultimate disgrace, to
temporize until he should have succeeded in thoroughly compromising her
in the mind of the King; an attempt which her own impetuosity and want
of caution would, as he justly imagined, prove one of little difficulty
after the occurrences of the day.

Thus his first care on returning to his residence at Ruel was to address
a letter to the Queen-mother, couched in the following terms:

"Madame--I am aware that my enemies, or rather those of the state, not
satisfied with blaming me to your Majesty, are anxious to render you
suspicious of my presence at the Court, as though I only approached the
King for the purpose of separating him from yourself, and of dividing
those whom God has united. I trust, however, through the divine
goodness, that the world will soon learn their malice; that my
proceedings will be fully justified; and that innocence will triumph
over calumny. It is not, Madame, that I do not esteem myself unfortunate
and culpable since I have lost the favour of your Majesty; life will be
odious to me so long as I am deprived of the honour of your good graces,
and of that esteem which is more dear and precious to me than the
grandeurs of this earth. As I owe them all to your liberal hand, I bring
them and place them voluntarily at the feet of your Majesty. Pardon,
Madame, your work and your creature. RICHELIEU." [140]

Such was the policy of the astute and heartless minister. Only a few
hours had elapsed since he had overthrown all the most cherished
projects of Marie de Medicis, sown dissension between herself and her
son, proved to her that her efforts to struggle against his superior
influence were worse than idle; and now he artfully sought to excite her
indignation at his duplicity, and to compel her to reprisals which would
draw down upon herself all the odium of their future estrangement. He
well knew that by such a measure as that which he adopted, he must
render her position untenable; for while on the one hand he overwhelmed
her with professions of deference and respect, on the other he wrenched
from her all hope of power, wounded her in her affections, and deprived
her of the confidence of her adherents.[141] Bassompierre attempted to
disguise his mortification at the mistake of which he had himself been
guilty by designating the 11th of November on which these extraordinary
events took place as the "Day of Dupes," while the Queen-mother--whose
great error had been that, instead of accompanying Louis to Versailles,
and thus preventing all private intercourse with the minister, she had
yielded to her vanity and remained to listen to the congratulations of
the courtiers--when she learned the ruin of all her hopes, passionately
exclaimed that she had only one regret, and that one was that she had
not drawn the bolt across the door leading to her oratory, in which case
Richelieu would have been lost without resource.

Aware of his unpopularity with both nobles and people, the Cardinal
considered it expedient to signalize his restoration to power by
conferring certain favours upon individuals towards whom he had hitherto
only manifested neglect and dislike. On the 19th of November he
accordingly conferred the dignity of Marshal of France upon the Duc de
Montmorency and the Comte de Thoiras; and on the 30th of the succeeding
month he restored the Duc de Vendome to liberty, although upon
conditions degrading to a great noble and the son of Henri IV; while he
purchased the favourites of Monsieur by large sums of money, and still
more important promises. The latter concession at once restored the good
humour of Gaston d'Orleans, who forthwith proceeded to Versailles to pay
his respects to the King, by whom he was graciously received, after
which he paid a visit to the Cardinal; but Marie de Medicis and her
royal daughter-in-law remained inflexible, and Louis so deeply resented
their coldness towards his minister that even in public he scarcely
exchanged a word with either.[142] For this mortification they found,
however, full compensation in the perfect understanding which had grown
up between them, based on their mutual hatred of Richelieu; for while
the Queen-mother dwelt upon his ingratitude and treachery, Anne of
Austria was no less vehement in her complaints of his presumption in
having dared to aspire to the affection of the wife of his sovereign.

As day succeeded day the two royal ladies had increased subject for
discontent. The disgrace of the Marillacs had deeply wounded Marie de
Medicis, who at once perceived that the blow had been aimed at herself
rather than at the two brothers; and that the real motive of the
Cardinal had been to weaken her party: a conviction which she openly
expressed. Still she remained, to all appearance, mistress of her own
actions, and retained her seat in the Council; but it was far otherwise
with the young Queen, whose affection for her brother having been
construed by the minister into a treasonable correspondence with the
Spanish Cabinet, she was banished to her private apartments; while she
had the annoyance of seeing Mademoiselle de Hautefort exercise the most
unlimited influence over the mind of the King, and perpetually accompany
him on his excursions to St. Germain and Fontainebleau, not only as an
invited but also as an honoured guest. Meanwhile Gaston, who was aware
of the empire which he exercised over his mother, and who sought to
harass the Cardinal, was assiduous in his attentions to the two Queens;
a persistence which so alarmed Richelieu that he did not hesitate to
insinuate to his royal master that the Prince was more devoted to Anne
of Austria than was consistent with their relative positions; and thus
he succeeded in arousing within the breast of Louis a jealousy as
unseemly as it was unprovoked. The continued sterility of the Spanish
Princess and the utter estrangement of the august couple, while it
irritated and mortified the young Queen, served, however, to sustain the
hopes of Marie de Medicis, who looked upon her younger son as the
assured heir to the crown, and supported both him and Anne in their
animosity to Richelieu.

Two powerful factions consequently divided the French Court at the close
of the year 1630; Louis XIII, falsifying the pledge which he had given
to the Queen-mother and Monsieur, had abandoned his sceptre to the grasp
of an ambitious and unscrupulous minister, whose adherents, emulating
the example of their sovereign, made no attempt to limit his power, or
to contend against his will; while, with the sole exception of the King
himself, all the royal family were leagued against an usurpation as
monstrous as it was dishonouring. The sky of the courtly horizon was big
with clouds, and all awaited with anxiety the outburst of the
impending tempest.

At this ungenial period Louis XIII gave a splendid entertainment at the
Louvre, to which he personally bade the Cardinal, who eagerly availed
himself of so favourable an opportunity of mortifying the Queen-mother,
by dividing with his sovereign the homage and adulation of the great
nobles. Already had many of the guests arrived, and amid the flourish of
trumpets, the melody of the royal musicians, the glare of torches, and
the rustling of silks and cloth of gold, the great staircase and the
grand gallery were rapidly becoming crowded; while groups might be seen
scattered through the state apartments conversing in suppressed tones,
some anxiously expecting the entrance of the King, and others as
impatiently awaiting the arrival of the all-powerful minister. One of
these groups, and that perhaps the most inimical of all that brilliant
assemblage to the Cardinal, was composed of the two MM. de Marillac, the
Duc de Guise, and the Marquis de Bassompierre. As they conversed
earnestly with one another, the three first-named nobles remained grave
and stern, as though they had met together to discuss some subject of
vital and absorbing interest rather than to participate in the
festivities of a monarch, while even Bassompierre himself seemed ill at
ease, and strove in vain to assume his usual light and frivolous
demeanour.

"His Eminence moves tardily to night," he said in reply to a remark of
the Duke. "Can it be that we shall not have the honour of seeing him
exhibit his crimson robes on this magnificent occasion?"

"It would seem so," was the moody rejoinder, "for time wears, and the
King himself cannot delay his entrance much longer. Be wary, gentlemen,
for should Richelieu indeed arrive, he will be dangerous to-night. I
watched him narrowly at noon, and I remarked that he smiled more than
once when there was no visible cause for mirth, and you well known what
his smiles portend."

"Too well," said the Marechal de Marillac; "death, or at best disgrace
to some new victim. Shame to our brave France that she should submit
even for a day to be thus priest-ridden!"

By an excess of caution the four nobles had gradually retreated to an
obscure recess, half concealed by some heavy drapery; and Bassompierre,
in an attitude of easy indifference, stood leaning against the
tapestried panels that divided the sumptuous apartment which they
occupied from an inner closet that had not been thrown open to the
guests. Unfortunately, however, the peculiar construction of this closet
was unknown even to the brilliant Gentleman of the Bedchamber, or he
would have been at once aware that they could not have chosen a more
dangerous position in which to discuss any forbidden topic. The trite
proverb that "walls have ears" was perhaps never more fully exemplified
than when applied to those of the Louvre at that period; many of them,
and those all connected with the more public apartments, being composed
of double panelling, between which a sufficient space had been left to
admit of the passage of an eavesdropper, and the closet in question
chanced to be one of these convenient lurking-places. A slight stir in
the courtly crowd had for a moment interrupted the conversation, but as
it almost immediately subsided, the subject by which the imprudent
courtiers were engrossed was resumed; and meanwhile the
Cardinal-Minister had arrived at the palace. He was not, however,
attended by his train of gentlemen and guards; his name had not been
announced by the royal ushers, nor had he yet joined the gorgeous
company who were all prepared to do him honour. Since his interview with
the King at Versailles he had apprehended treachery, and had
consequently resolved to leave no means untried for discovering the
truth of his suspicions. Various circumstances had tended to point those
suspicions towards Bassompierre, and anxious, if possible, to test their
validity, he determined to make an effort to surprise the incautious
noble during a moment of frivolity and recklessness. Acting upon this
impulse, he threw aside his ecclesiastical dress, and assuming that of a
private citizen, as he was frequently in the habit of doing when he
desired to escape observation,[143] he alighted from his carriage near
the Tuileries, and gained the Louvre on foot, entirely unattended.

On reaching the palace he inquired of the officer on duty if M. de
Bassompierre had yet arrived.

"He has, Monseigneur," replied the captain of the royal guard; "the
Marechal and several of his friends were conversing when I last
traversed the blue hall, near the book-closet of his Majesty."

Richelieu nodded his thanks, and hastily turning into a side-gallery, he
made his way to the treacherous closet by a private staircase, followed
by Pere Joseph who had been awaiting him, and in a few minutes they
found themselves in the immediate neighbourhood of their
intended victim.

During this time the King, the two Queens, and the Duc d'Orleans had
made their entrance, and were slowly passing round the several _salons_
uttering courteous welcomes to the assembled guests, and the royal party
had no sooner swept by the group to which we have alluded, than the Duc
de Guise exclaimed disdainfully, "Richelieu has learnt to fear at last!
Here is the King, and he has not yet ventured to trust his sacred person
within the grasp of his enemies."

"He does well," said the younger Marillac, "for he is perhaps aware that
although the wolf may prowl for awhile in safety, he is not always able
to regain his lair with equal security. Is there no man bold enough to
deliver the kingdom from this monster? Has he not yet shed blood enough?
Let his fate be once placed in my hands and it shall soon be decided by
the headsman."

"Heard you that?" whispered the Cardinal to his companion, as he wiped
away the cold perspiration from his forehead, and again applied his ear
to the wainscotted partition.

"Nay, nay, Marechal," interposed De Guise with a bitter laugh, "you are
inexorable! Let the man live, and do not seek to emulate his
bloodthirstiness. His exile will content me, provided that it be
accompanied by the confiscation of his ill-gotten wealth." "So, so;
you are indulgent, Monsieur le Duc," again murmured Richelieu.

"For my part," said Bassompierre with affected clemency, "I do not
advocate such extreme measures; there is no lack of accommodation in the
Bastille; why send him on his travels either in this world or the next
when he can be so snugly housed, and at so small an outlay to the state,
until his Satanic Majesty sees fit to fetch him home?"

"Do not seek to pollute the ancient edifice by such a tenant," said the
elder Marillac; "good men and gallant soldiers are at times housed in
the fortress, who would ill brook the companionship of such a
room-fellow. Have you forgotten our galleys, M. de Bassompierre? His
Eminence would there bask in a southern sun as clear as his own
conscience."

These words had scarcely escaped the lips of the speaker, when close
beside, and even as it seemed in the very midst of the incautious group,
was heard the hard dry cough of the subject of their discourse. It was a
sound not to be mistaken, and as it fell upon their ears the four nobles
started, gazed upon each other, and grew pale with a terror which they
were unable to control. They at once felt that they had been overheard,
and that their fate was sealed. In another instant, and without
exchanging a word, they separated; but the die was cast, and the
precaution came too late.

The Cardinal had no sooner assured himself that the conference was at an
end, than he emerged from his hiding-place, and advancing to the centre
of the closet, he cast himself heavily upon a seat, exclaiming with
bitter irony, "What think you, my reverend Father, are not these wily
conspirators? Are not these prudent and proper counsellors for an
ambitious and headstrong woman? But they have done me good service, and
I thank them. Let me see; I love justice, and I must not wrong even
those who have the will to be less forbearing to myself. A pen, Joseph,
a pen, lest my memory prove treacherous and I disappoint their tastes."

The Capuchin hastened to obey; writing implements stood upon the table
near which the Cardinal was seated; and in another moment he was
scribbling, in the ill-formed and straggling characters peculiar to him,
upon the back of a despatch.

"So, so," he muttered between his set teeth, "the gallant Marechal de
Marillac has an affection for the block: so be it; a scaffold is easily
constructed. And M. de Guise is an amateur of exile and of beggary:
truly it were a pity to thwart his fancy; and France can well spare a
prince or two without making bankrupt of her dignity. Bassompierre, the
volatile and restless Bassompierre, the hero of the Court dames, and the
idol of the Court ballets, favours the seclusion of a prison; there is
space enough for him in the one which he has selected, and his gorgeous
habiliments will produce the happiest effect when contrasted with the
gloomy walls of the good old fortress. And my colleague, my destined
successor, did he not talk of the galleys? I had never given him credit
for sufficient energy to prefer the oar to the pen, and the chain of a
felon to the seals of a minister of state; but since he will have it so,
by the soul of Jean du Plessis, so shall it be!"

And as he terminated this envenomed monologue the Cardinal thrust the
fatal paper into his breast, and clasped his hands convulsively
together; his dim eyes flashed fire, his thin lips quivered, his pale
countenance became livid, and the storm of concentrated passion shook
his frail form as with an ague-fit.

"The day is your own," said the Capuchin calmly; "you are now face to
face with your enemies, and you know all the joints in their armour.
Every blow may be rendered a mortal one."

Richelieu smiled. The paroxysm of fury had subsided, and he was once
more cold, and stern, and self-possessed. "We lose time," he said, "and
I have yet to play the courtier. Are my robes ready?"

"All is prepared," quietly replied his companion, as he withdrew from
the closet, where he shortly reappeared laden with the sumptuous costume
of his friend and patron. A few minutes sufficed for the necessary
metamorphosis; the citizen-raiment was cast aside, the crimson drapery
flung over the shoulders of its owner, the jewelled cross adjusted on
his breast; and before the detected nobles had recovered from their
consternation, the Cardinal was solemnly traversing the crowded halls
surrounded by the adulation of the assembled Court. As he advanced to
pay his respects to the sovereigns, he encountered Bassompierre, whom he
greeted with a smile of more than usual cordiality; and the Duc de
Guise, to whom he addressed a few words of courteous recognition; but
the one felt that the smile was a stab, and the other that the greeting
was a menace.

History has taught us the justice of those forebodings.

And still the festival went on; the fairest women of the Court fluttered
and glittered like gilded butterflies from place to place; princes and
nobles, attired in all the gorgeous magnificence of the time, formed a
living mosaic of splendour on the marble floors; floating perfumes
escaped from jewelled _cassolettes_; light laughter was blent with music
and with song; the dance sped merrily; and heaps of gold rapidly
exchanged owners at the play tables. Nor was the scene less dazzling
without; the environs of the Louvre were brilliantly illuminated;
fireworks ascended from floating rafts anchored in the centre of the
river; and troops of comedians, conjurers, and soothsayers thronged all
the approaches to the palace. It was truly a regal _fete_; and when the
dawn began to gleam, pale and calm through the open casements, a hundred
voices echoed the parting salutation of the Cardinal-Minister to his
royal host, as he said, bowing profoundly, "None save yourself, Sire,
could have afforded to his guests so vivid a glimpse of fairy-land as we
have had to-night. Not a shade of gloom, nor a care for the future, can
have intruded itself in such a scene of enchantment. I appeal to those
around me. How say you, M. de Guise? and you, M. de Bassompierre? Shall
we not depart hence with light hearts and tranquil spirits, grateful for
so many hours of unalloyed and almost unequalled happiness?"

The silence of the two nobles to whom his Eminence had thus addressed
himself fortunately passed unobserved amid the chorus of assenting
admiration which burst forth on all sides; and with this final strain of
the moral rack the Cardinal took his leave of the two foredoomed victims
of his vengeance.

FOOTNOTES:

[130] Gaston d'Orleans, _Mem_. pp. 89, 90.

[131] Jean de Saint-Bonnet, Seigneur de Thoiras. He was created Marshal
of France in 1630, and was killed in Italy, in 1636.

[132] Ambroise, Marquis de Spinola, one of the most famous generals of
the seventeenth century, was the representative of an illustrious house
which was subsequently divided into several branches, some of whom
established themselves in Italy, and others in Spain. The subject of our
note placed himself at the head of nine thousand Italians, and commenced
his military career in the Low Countries, where he distinguished himself
by his extraordinary courage. The siege of Ostend having lasted so long
as to weary the patience of the Archduke of Austria, he transferred the
command of his troops to Spinola, by whom the place was carried in 1604.
He was then appointed general of the Spanish armies in the Low
Countries, and maintained his ground, although opposed to Maurice of
Nassau, the most able general of his time. He rendered several other
important services to the Emperor in the Palatinate, and took Breda in
1625. In 1630 he made himself master of the city and fortress of Casal;
and shortly afterwards died from mortification at the ill requital of
his services.

[133] Jules Mazarin, better known as Cardinal Mazarin, Prime Minister of
France, was born at Piscina in the Abruzzi on the 14th of July 1602, and
was of a noble Sicilian family. Having completed his studies in Italy
and Spain, he attached himself to Cardinal Sacchetti, whom he followed
to Lombardy, and was of great assistance to Cardinal Antonio Barbarini
in concluding the peace of Quierasqua in 1631. The reputation which he
acquired through this negotiation secured to him the friendship of
Richelieu and the protection of Louis XIII; and in 1639 the former
obtained for him the title of Papal Vice-Legate at Avignon, and
subsequently a seat in the Conclave. Nor did his good offices end even
here, as he entreated Louis to appoint him Councillor of State after his
own demise, a request with which the King complied; and on the death of
Louis XIII the Queen-Regent Anne of Austria confided to him the
government of the kingdom. Mazarin died in 1661, leaving a fortune of
200,000,000 of francs to Armand Charles de la Porte de la Meilleraye,
the husband of his niece Hortense Mancini.

[134] Sismondi, vol. xxiii. pp. 142, 143.

[135] Capefigue, vol. iv. pp. 301-314. Sismondi, vol. xxiii. pp. 152,
153.

[136] "Maitre Gonin" was a _sobriquet_ applied by the Parisians to the
Cardinal de Richelieu.

[137] Motteville, _Mem_. vol. i. pp. 372, 373. Brienne, _Mem_. vol. ii.
p. 12. Sismondi, vol. xxiii. pp. 154, 155. Bassompierre, _Mem_. vol. in.
pp. 275, 276. Gaston d'Orleans, _Mem_. pp. 91, 92. Le Vassor, vol. vi.
pp. 538, 539. Capefigue, vol. iv. pp. 320-323.

[138] Bassompierre, _Mem_. vol. iii. p. 12. Le Vassor, vol. vi. p. 542.
Siri, _Mem. Rec_. vol. vii. p. 285.

[139] Capefigue, vol. iv. pp. 326-331. Sismondi, vol. xxiii. pp. 156,
157.

[140] _MSS. de Bethune_, v. cot. 9319.

[141] Le Vassor, vol. vi. pp. 539-541. Capefigue, vol. iv. pp. 324-332.
Sismondi, vol. xxiii. pp. 157, 158.

[142] Bassompierre, _Mem_. vol. iii. pp. 280, 281.

[143] "C'etait son habitude. Il sortait souvent les nuits, quand il
allait en aventures amoureuses, ou pour surveiller lui-meme les menees
de ses nombreux ennemis."--Blaisot, _Manuscript Memoirs of a
Benedictine Monk_.

CHAPTER VIII

1631

Richelieu interdicts all correspondence between Anne of Austria and the
King of Spain--The Queen asks permission to retire to the Val de
Grace--Her persecution by the Cardinal--Marie de Medicis protects her
interests--Monsieur pledges himself to support her cause--Gaston defies
the minister--Alarm of Richelieu--He resolves to effect the exile of the
Queen-mother--Monsieur quits the capital--Superstition of Marie de
Medicis--An unequal struggle--Father Joseph and his patron--The
Queen-mother resolves to accompany her son to Italy--Richelieu assures
the King that Marie and Gaston have organized a conspiracy against his
life--The Court proceed to Compiegne--The Queen-mother refuses to retain
her seat in the Council--Richelieu regains all his influence over the
King--Revenge of the Cardinal upon his enemies--Desperate position of
Marie de Medicis--Her arrest is determined upon by the Council--Louis
leaves her a prisoner at Compiegne--Parting interview of the
two Queens--Indignity offered to Anne of Austria--Death of the
Princesse de Conti--Indignation of the royal prisoner--A diplomatic
correspondence--Two noble gaolers--The royal troops pursue Monsieur--The
adherents of Gaston are declared guilty of _lese-majeste_--Gaston
addresses a declaration to the Parliament--The Queen-mother forwards a
similar protest, and then appeals to the people--A paper war--The
garrison is withdrawn from Compiegne--Marie resolves to effect her
escape to the Low Countries--She is assured of the protection of Spain
and Germany--The Queen-mother secretly leaves the fortress--She is
betrayed by the Marquis de Vardes, and proceeds with all speed to
Hainault, pursued by the royal troops--She is received at Mons by the
Archduchess Isabella--Whence she addresses a letter to the King to
explain the motives of her flight--Reply of Louis XIII--Sympathy of
Isabella--The two Princesses proceed to Brussels--Triumphal entry of
Marie de Medicis into the capital of Flanders--Renewed hopes of the
exiled Queen--The Belgian Ambassador at the French Court--Vindictive
counsels of the Cardinal--The property of the Queen-mother and Monsieur
is confiscated--They are abandoned by many of their adherents--Richelieu
is created a duke--A King and his minister--Marie consents to the
marriage of Monsieur with Marguerite de Lorraine--The followers of the
Queen-mother and the Duc d'Orleans are tried and condemned--Louis XIII
proceeds to Lorraine to prevent the projected alliance of his
brother--Intrigues of Gaston--Philip of Spain refuses to adopt the cause
of Marie de Medicis--Marriage of Monsieur and the Princesse de
Lorraine--The Queen-mother endeavours to negotiate her return to
France--Richelieu determines the King not to consent--Charles de
Lorraine makes his submission to the French monarch--And signs a
compulsory treaty.

In order, as he asserted, to protect the interests of France, Richelieu
had strictly forbidden all further correspondence between Anne of
Austria and her royal brother Philip of Spain; and had further informed
her that she would no longer be permitted to receive the Marquis de
Mirabel, the Spanish Ambassador, who had hitherto been her constant
visitor and the medium of her intercourse with her family. Indignant at
such an interference with her most private feelings, Anne revolted
against a tyranny which aroused her southern pride; and complaining that
the close confinement to which she was subjected at the Louvre had
affected her health, she demanded permission to retire to the Val de
Grace; a proposal which was eminently grateful to the Cardinal, who
desired above all things to separate her from the Queen-mother. She had,
however, no sooner left the palace than she caused M. de Mirabel to be
apprised of the place of her retreat; at the same time informing him
that she should continue to expect his visits, although he must
thenceforward make them as privately as possible. In compliance with
these instructions, the Ambassador alighted from his carriage at some
distance from the Val de Grace, and proceeded on foot to the convent
generally towards the dusk of the evening, believing that by these
precautions he should be enabled to baffle the vigilance of the watchful
minister. He was, however, soon destined to be undeceived, as Richelieu,
having ascertained the fact, openly denounced these meetings in the
Council, expatiating upon the fatal effects of which they might be
productive to France; while Marie de Medicis boldly supported her
daughter-in-law, declaring that any minister who presumed to give laws
to the wife of his sovereign exceeded his privilege, and must be
prepared to encounter her legitimate and authorized opposition.

In this assertion she was, moreover, supported by the Duc d'Orleans, who
considered himself aggrieved by the non-performance of the promises made
by Richelieu to his favourites. He had, it is true, in his turn pledged
himself to the King that he would no longer oppose the measures of the
minister; but the pledges of Monsieur were known to be as unstable as
water; and his chivalrous spirit was, moreover, aroused by the harsh
treatment of his young and beautiful sister-in-law, with whom he passed
a great portion of his time. More than once he had surprised her bathed
in tears, had listened to the detail of her wrongs, and soothed her
sorrows; and, finally, he had vowed to revenge them.

It would appear that on this occasion at least he was in earnest, as on
the 1st of January 1631, when the intense cold rendered the outward air
almost unendurable, and the Cardinal had remained throughout the whole
morning in his easy chair, rolled up in furs, beside a blazing fire,
Monsieur was suddenly announced, and immediately entered the apartment,
followed by a numerous train of nobles. Richelieu rose in alarm to
receive him, for he remembered a previous visit of Monsieur which was as
unexpected as the present one, and probably not more threatening.

"To what, Sir," he asked with a slight tremor in his voice, as he
advanced towards the Prince with a profound bow, "am I to attribute the
honour of this unexpected favour?"

"To my anxiety to apprise you," said Gaston without returning his
salutation, "that it was contrary to my own inclination that I lately
promised you my friendship. I recall that promise, for I cannot keep it
to a man of your description, who, moreover, insults my mother."

As the Prince ceased speaking the nobles by whom he was accompanied laid
their hands upon their swords, and the petrified Cardinal stood
speechless and motionless before them, unable to articulate a syllable.

"As for myself," pursued Gaston, "I have too long submitted to your
insolence, and you deserve that I should chastise you as I would a
lackey. Your priestly robe alone protects you from my vengeance; but
beware! You are now warned; and henceforward nothing shall form your
security against the chastisement reserved for those who outrage persons
of my quality. For the present I shall retire to Orleans, but you will
soon hear of me again at the head of an armed force; and then, Monsieur
le Cardinal, we will decide who shall hold precedence in France, a
Prince of the Blood Royal, or a nameless adventurer."

With this threat, Monsieur turned and left the room, closely followed by
the Cardinal, whom he overwhelmed with insult until he had descended the
stairs; and even while the pale and agitated minister obsequiously held
the stirrup to assist him to mount, he continued his vituperations;
then, snatching at the bridle, he dashed through the gates, and
disappeared at full speed with his retinue.[144]

Alarmed at the menacing attitude assumed by the Duc d'Orleans, Richelieu
renewed his attempts to conciliate the Queen-mother, not only
personally, but also through the medium of those about her. All these
efforts, however, proved abortive; and although the King himself deeply
and openly resented her resolute estrangement from the Cardinal, by whom
he was at this period entirely governed, nothing could induce her to
listen to such a proposal; and she was further strengthened in her
resolve by the representations of her partisans, who constantly assured
her of her popularity with the people, and asserted that they were loud
in their denunciations of the weakness of the sovereign, and the tyranny
of his minister; while they anticipated from their experience of the
past that she would, by maintaining her own dignity, place some curb
upon the encroaching ambition of a man who was rapidly undermining the
monarchy, and sapping the foundations of the throne.

Having failed in this endeavour, Richelieu resolved no longer to delay
his cherished project of effecting the exile of his former benefactress;
and as a preliminary measure, he no sooner ascertained that the Duc
d'Orleans had indeed retired to his government than he insinuated to
Louis that Monsieur had been instigated to this overt act of opposition
by the counsels of Marie de Medicis. When reproached with this new
offence, the Queen-mother denied that she had encouraged the Prince to
leave the capital; bitterly remarking that she was not so rich in
friends as to desire the absence of any who still remembered that she
was the mother and mother-in-law of the two greatest monarchs in Europe;
that she had given one Queen to England, another to Spain, and a female
sovereign to Savoy; and that she was moreover the widow of Henry
the Great.

Little credence was, however, vouchsafed to these disclaimers; the
Cardinal coldly remarking that Gaston never acted save in conformity
with her will; and Louis loudly declaring that his brother had been
urged to his disobedience entirely by herself, in order to gratify her
hatred of his minister.[145]

The struggle continued. Encouraged by her adherents, and calculating on
the feeble health of the King, who had never rallied from the severe
attack by which he had been prostrated at Lyons, Marie de Medicis still
flattered herself that she should ultimately triumph; an opinion in
which she was confirmed by the astrologers, in whom, as we have already
shown, she placed the most unbounded faith. One of these charlatans had
assured her that at the close of the year 1631 she would be more
powerful and fortunate than she had ever before been; and she had such
perfect confidence in the prophecy that when it was uttered, although at
that period surrounded by difficulty and danger, she had replied with a
calm and satisfied smile: "That is sufficient. I have therefore now only
to be careful of my health."

The retirement of Monsieur to Orleans tended to strengthen these idle
and baseless hopes; and the flatterers of the Queen-mother consequently
found little difficulty in persuading her that ere long half the nation
would rise to avenge her wrongs; that all the great nobles would rally
round the Duc d'Orleans; and that the principal cities, weary of the
despotism of Richelieu, would declare in favour of the heir-presumptive,
in the event of the King still seeking to support his obnoxious
minister.

Misled by these assurances, and consulting only her own passions, Marie
de Medicis no longer hesitated. She refused to acknowledge the authority
of the Cardinal, not only as regarded her own personal affairs, but also
in matters of state; and absented herself from the Council, loudly
declaring that her only aim in life hereafter would be to accomplish his
ruin. The infatuated Princess had ceased to remember that she was
braving no common adversary, and that she was heaping up coals of fire
which could not fail one day to fall back upon her own head; for
resolute, fearless, and vehement as she was, she had to contend against
the first diplomatist of the age, whose whole career had already
sufficiently demonstrated that he was utterly uninfluenced by those
finer feelings which have so frequently prevented a good man from
becoming great. What were to Richelieu the memories of the past? Mere
incentives to the ambition of the future. Concini had been his first
friend, and he had abandoned him to the steel of the assassin so soon as
his patronage had become oppressive. Marie herself had overwhelmed him
with benefits, but she had now lost her power, and he, who had won, was
resolved to keep it. He had dared to talk of passion to the wife of his
sovereign, by whom he had been repulsed, and fearfully had he resented
the affront. Such a man was no meet antagonist for the impulsive and
imprudent Princess who had now entered the lists against him; and the
issue of the conflict was certain.

Richelieu meekly bent his head before the storm of words by which he was
assailed, but he did not remain inactive. Having resolved to terminate a
rivalry for power which disorganized all his measures and fettered all
his movements; and, moreover, to retain the influence which he had
acquired over the mind of the weak and indolent monarch; he held long
and frequent conferences with the Capuchin Father Joseph, in which it
was finally decided that the Cardinal should induce his royal master to
exile his mother to Moulins or some other fortified city at a distance
from the capital, under a strong guard; and afterwards to surprise
Monsieur and take him prisoner, before he should have time to fortify
himself in Orleans, or to establish his residence in a frontier province
where he could be assisted by the Emperor of Germany or the King of
Spain; both of whom were at that moment earnestly endeavouring to foment
discord in the French Court, and would not fail to embrace so favourable
an opportunity, should time be allowed for the Prince to solicit
their aid.

Had Marie de Medicis possessed more caution, Richelieu might well have
doubted his power to induce her to leave the capital, where her
popularity would have ensured her safety; but he had not forgotten that
when he sought to dissuade her from following her son in his Italian
campaign, she had resolutely replied: "I will accompany the King
wherever he may see fit to go; and I will never cease to demand justice
upon the author of the dissensions which now embitter the existence of
the royal family."

Convinced that she would keep her word, and anxious to see her safely
beyond the walls of Paris, the Cardinal accordingly began to impress
more urgently than ever upon Louis his conviction that a conspiracy had
been formed against his authority, if not against his life; and that not
only were the Queen-mother and Monsieur involved in this nefarious plot,
but also some of the greatest nobles and ladies of the Court. As he had
anticipated, the King at once took alarm, and entreated him to devise
some method by which he might evade so great a danger.

"Your Majesty may rest assured that I have not neglected so imperative a
duty," replied Richelieu with a calm smile which at once tended to
reassure his royal dupe. "If the peril be great, the means of escape are
easy. You have only, Sire, to leave Paris, and organize a hunt at
Compiegne. The Queen-mother will no doubt follow you thither; in which
case we will profit by the opportunity to make her such advantageous
offers as may induce her to accede to your wishes, and to separate
herself from the cabal; and even in the event of her declining the
journey, and remaining in Paris during your absence, we may equally
succeed in removing from about her person the individuals who are now
labouring to excite her discontent; and this object once attained, there
can be little doubt that she will become more yielding and submissive.
Monsieur is, as I am informed, about to levy troops in the different
provinces, and to provoke a civil war; but he will, as a natural
consequence, abandon this project when deprived of the support of the
Queen, and will be ready to make his submission when he is no longer in
correspondence with her Majesty."

Louis eagerly acceded to the suggestion of the crafty Cardinal, and
desired that preparations might be made for his departure in the course
of the ensuing month; expressing at the same time his sense of the
service rendered to him by the minister.[146] Richelieu felt the whole
extent of his triumph. Once beyond the walls of Paris, Marie de Medicis
was in the toils, and her overthrow was assured; while, as he had
anticipated, on being informed of the projected journey, she at once
declared her determination to accompany the King, and resolutely refused
to listen to the exhortations of her friends, by whom she was earnestly
dissuaded from leaving the capital.

"You argue in vain," she said firmly. "If I had only followed the King
to Versailles, the Cardinal would now be out of France, or in a prison.
May it please God that I never again commit the same error!" In
accordance with this decision the Queen-mother accordingly made the
necessary preparations; and on the 17th of February the Court set forth
for Compiegne, to the great satisfaction of the minister; who, well
aware of the impossibility of accomplishing any reconciliation with his
indignant mistress, lost no time in entreating Louis to endeavour once
more to effect this object. Richelieu desired to appear in the _role_ of
a victim, while he was in fact the tyrant of this great domestic drama;
but the weak sovereign was incompetent to unravel the tangled mesh of
his wily policy; and it was therefore with eagerness that he lent
himself to this new subterfuge.

Vautier was, as we have stated, not only the physician but also the
confidential friend of Marie de Medicis; and the King consequently
resolved to avail himself of his influence. He was accordingly summoned
to the royal presence, and there Louis expressed to him his earnest
desire that the past should be forgotten, and that henceforward his
mother and himself might live in peace and amity; to which end he
declared it to be absolutely essential that the Queen should forego her
animosity to the Cardinal.

"I have faith in your fidelity, Sir," he said graciously, "and I request
of you to urge this upon her Majesty, for I am weary of these perpetual
broils. Assure her in my name that if she will consent to my wishes in
this respect, and assist as she formerly did at the Council, she will
secure alike my affection and my respect. She must, moreover, give a
written pledge not to compromise the safety of the state by any
political intrigue, and to abandon to my just resentment all such
persons as may hereafter incur my displeasure, with the exception only
of the members of her immediate household. On these conditions I am
ready to forgive and to forget the events of the last few months."

To this proposition Marie de Medicis replied that her most anxious
desire was to live in good understanding with her son and sovereign, but
that she could not consent to occupy a seat in the Council with
Richelieu, nor to give in writing a pledge for which her royal word
should be a sufficient guarantee, as she considered that both the one
concession and the other would be unworthy of her dignity as a Queen,
and her self-respect as a woman.

Such was precisely the result which had been anticipated by the astute
Cardinal, who, as he cast himself at the feet of the King, bitterly
inveighed against the inflexibility of Marie, and renewed his entreaties
that he might be permitted to resign office, and to withdraw for ever
from a Court where he had been so unhappy as to cause dissension between
the two persons whom he most loved and honoured upon earth. This was the
favourite expedient of Richelieu, who always saw the pale cheek of Louis
become yet paler under the threat; and on the present occasion it was
even more successful than usual. Ever ready to credit the most
extravagant reports when they involved his personal safety, the King
looked upon the Cardinal as the only barrier between himself and
assassination; and impressed with this conviction, he raised him up,
embraced him fervently, and assured him that no consideration should
ever induce him to dispense with his services; that the enemies of
Richelieu were his enemies; the friends of Richelieu his friends; and
that he held himself indebted to his devotion not only for his throne,
but for his life. The minister received his acknowledgments with
well-acted humility; and encouraged by the success of his first attempt,
resolved to profit by the opportunity thus afforded him for completing
the work of vengeance which he had so skilfully commenced. He
consequently declared that it was with reluctance he was compelled to
admit that although by the gracious consent of his Majesty to adopt the
measures which he had formerly proposed, the peril at which he had
hinted had been greatly lessened, it was nevertheless essential to
prevent the reorganization of so dangerous a cabal; and that in order to
do this effectually it became imperative upon the King to arrest, and
even to exile, certain individuals who had been involved in
the intrigue.

At that moment Louis, who considered that he had been delivered from
almost certain destruction through the perspicacity and zeal of his
minister, felt no disposition to dissent from any of his views, and he
unhesitatingly expressed his readiness to sanction whatever measures he
might deem necessary; upon which Richelieu, without further preamble,
laid before him the list of his intended victims. At the head of these
figured Bassompierre, whose recent abandonment the vindictive Cardinal
had not forgotten, and the two Marillacs. The Abbe de Foix and the
physician Vautier, both of whom were in the confidence of the
Queen-mother, were also destined to expiate their fidelity to her cause
in the Bastille; while the Princesse de Conti and the Duchesses
d'Elboeuf, d'Ornano, de Lesdiguieres, and de Roannois, all of whom were
her fast friends, were sentenced to banishment; and it was further
decided that, on his departure from Compiegne, the King should leave his
mother in that city under the guard of the Marechal d'Estrees, at the
head of nearly a thousand men, exclusive of fifty gendarmes and as many
light-horse; and that he should be accompanied to the capital by Anne of
Austria, in order to separate her from the Queen-mother.[147]

The situation of Marie de Medicis was desperate. Day after day she
solicited a private interview with the monarch, and on every occasion of
their meeting she found Richelieu in the royal closet, invulnerable
alike to her disdain and to her sarcasm. One word from the King would of
course have compelled him to withdraw, but that word was never uttered;
for with the timidity inherent to a weak mind, Louis dreaded to be left
alone with his destined victim. Bigoted and superstitious, he had his
moments of remorse, in which his conscience reproached him for the
crime of which he was about to render himself guilty towards the author
of his existence; but these qualms assailed him only during the absence
of his minister, and thus he overcame them by the constant companionship
of the stronger spirit by whom he was ruled. Unable to act of himself,
the purple robes of the Cardinal were his safeguard and his refuge; nor
was Richelieu unwilling to accept the responsibility thus thrust upon
him. His Eminence had no scruples, no weaknesses, no misgivings; he knew
his power, and he exercised it without shrinking. Had the unhappy Queen
been permitted only a few hours of undisturbed communion with her son,
it is probable that she might have awakened even in his selfish bosom
other and better feelings; she might have taught him to listen to the
voice of nature and of conscience; the mother's heart might have
triumphed over the statesman's head; but no such opportunity was
afforded to her; and while she was still making fruitless efforts to
attain her object, the King, at the instigation of the Cardinal,
summoned a privy council, at which Chateauneuf, the new Keeper of the
Seals and the tool of Richelieu, openly accused her not only of
ingratitude to the monarch, but also of conducting a secret
correspondence with the Spanish Cabinet, and of having induced Monsieur
to leave the country; and concluded by declaring that stringent measures
should be adopted against her.

When desired to declare his opinion on this difficult question,
Richelieu at first affected great unwillingness to interfere, alleging
that he was personally interested in the result; but the King having
commanded him to speak, he threw off all restraint, and represented the
Queen-mother as the focus of all the intrigues both foreign and domestic
by which the nation was convulsed; together with the utter impossibility
of ensuring the safety of the King so long as she remained at liberty to
pursue the policy which she had seen fit to adopt, alike against the
sovereign and the state. In conclusion, he emphatically reminded his
hearers that weak remedies only tended to aggravate great evils, which
latter on the contrary were overcome by those proportioned to their
magnitude; and that consequently, at such a crisis as that under
consideration, there was but one alternative: either to effect a peace
with foreign powers on sure and honourable terms, or to conciliate the
Queen-mother and the Duc d'Orleans; either to dismiss himself from
office, or to remove from about the person of the Queen the individuals
by whom she was instigated to opposition against the will of the King
and the welfare of the state; and to beg of her to absent herself for
some time from the Court, lest, without desiring to do so, she should by
her presence induce a continuance of the disorder which it was the
object of all loyal subjects to suppress. He then craftily insisted upon
the peculiar character of Marie herself, whom he painted in the most
odious colours. He declared her to be false and revengeful; qualities
which he attributed to her Italian origin, and to her descent from the
Medici, who never forgave an injury; and, finally, he stated that all
which they had to decide was whether it would be most advantageous for
the King to dismiss from office a minister who had unfortunately become
obnoxious to the whole of the royal family, in order to secure peace in
his domestic circle, or to exile the Queen-mother and those who
encouraged her in her animosity against him. As regarded himself, he
said proudly, that could his absence from the Court tend to heal the
existing dissensions, he was ready to depart upon the instant, and
should do so without hesitation or remonstrance; but that it remained to
be seen if his retirement would suffice to satisfy the malcontents; or
whether they would not, by involving others in his overthrow, endeavour
to possess themselves of the supreme authority.

This insinuation, insolent as it was (for it intimated no less than the
utter incapacity of Louis to uphold his own prerogative, and the
probability that Richelieu once removed, Marie de Medicis would resume
all her former power), produced a visible effect upon the King.

"My conviction is therefore," concluded the Cardinal, "that his Majesty
should annihilate the faction sanctioned by the Queen-mother, by
requesting her to retire to a distance from the capital, and by removing
from about her person the evil counsellors who have instigated her to
rebellion; but that this should be done with great consideration, and
with all possible respect. And as by these means the cabal would be
dispersed, and my colleagues in the ministry be thus enabled once more
to serve the sovereign and the state in perfect security, I humbly
solicit of his Majesty the royal permission to tender my resignation."

This climax, as usual, instantly decided Louis XIII, although as a
necessary form he demanded the collective opinion of the Council; who,
one and all, represented the retirement of the Cardinal from office as
an expedient at once dangerous and impracticable. The die was cast; and
after a few vague and puerile expressions of regret at the necessity
thus forced upon him of once more separating himself from his mother,
Louis pronounced the banishment of Marie de Medicis from the Court, and
then retired from the hall leaning upon the arm of Richelieu, who found
little difficulty in convincing him of the expediency of taking his
departure before his intention became known to the ill-fated Queen.[148]

This advice was peculiarly welcome to the cowardly King, who dreaded
above all things the reproaches and tears of his widowed and outraged
mother; and accordingly, on the 23rd of February, he was on foot at
three in the morning; and had no sooner completed his toilet than he
sent to desire the presence of the Jesuit Suffren, his confessor.

"When the Queen my mother shall have awoke," he said hurriedly, "do not
fail to inform her that I regret to take my departure without seeing
her; and that in a few days I will acquaint her with my wishes."

Such was his last greeting to the unhappy Princess, who had gone to rest
without one suspicion that on the morrow she should find herself a
prisoner, abandoned by her son, and bereft of her dearest friends; and
meanwhile another scene was taking place in a distant wing of the
palace, which has been so graphically described by Madame de Motteville
that we shall transcribe it in her own words:

"At daybreak some one knocked loudly at the door of the Queen's chamber.
On hearing this noise, Anne of Austria, whom it had awakened, called her
women, and inquired whether it was the King who demanded admittance, as
he was the only individual who was entitled to take so great a liberty.
While giving this order she drew back the curtain of her bed, and
perceiving with alarm that it was scarcely light, a vague sentiment of
terror took possession of her mind. As she was always doubtful, and with
great reason, of the King's feeling towards her, she persuaded herself
that she was about to receive some fatal intelligence, and felt assured
that the least evil which she had to apprehend was her exile from
France. Regarding this moment, therefore, as one which must decide the
whole of her future destiny, she endeavoured to recall her
self-possession in order to meet the blow with becoming courage ... and
when the first shock of her terror had passed by, she determined to
receive submissively whatever trial Heaven might see fit to inflict upon
her. She consequently commanded that the door of her apartment should be
opened; and as her first _femme de chambre_ announced that the person
who demanded admittance was the Keeper of the Seals, who had been
entrusted with a message to her Majesty from the King, she became
convinced that her fears had not deceived her. This apprehension was,
however, dispelled by the address of the envoy, who merely informed the
Queen that her royal consort desired to make known to her that, for
certain reasons of state, he found himself compelled to leave his mother
at Compiegne under the guard of the Marechal d'Estrees; that he begged
her instantly to rise; to abstain from again seeing the ex-Regent; and
to join him without loss of time at the Capuchin Convent, whither he had
already proceeded, and where he should await her coming.

"Anne of Austria, although alike distressed and amazed by this
intelligence, made no comment upon so extraordinary a communication; but
after having briefly expressed her readiness to obey the command of the
King, she left her bed; and while doing so, despatched the Marquise de
Senecay, her lady of honour, to tell the unfortunate Marie de Medicis
that she was anxious to see her, as she had an affair of importance to
reveal; while for certain reasons she could not venture to her apartment
until she had herself sent to request her to do so. The Queen-mother,
who knew nothing of the resolution which had been taken, but who was in
hourly apprehension of a renewal of her former sufferings, did not lose
a moment in profiting by the suggestion; and Anne of Austria had no
sooner received the expected summons than she threw on a dressing-gown
and hurried to the chamber of her royal relative, whom she found seated
in her bed, and clasping her knees with her hands in a state of
bewildered agitation. On the entrance of her daughter-in-law, the
unhappy Princess exclaimed in a tone of anguish:

"Ah! my daughter, I am then to die or be made a prisoner. Is the King
about to leave me here? What does he intend to do with me?'

"Anne of Austria, bathed in tears, could only reply by throwing herself
into the arms of the helpless victim; and for a while they wept together
in silence.

"The wife of Louis had, however, little time to spend in speechless
sympathy, and ere long she communicated to Marie de Medicis the cruel
resolution of the King, and conjured her to bear her banishment with
patience until they should be revenged upon their common enemy, the
Cardinal. They then parted with mutual expressions of sympathy and
affection; and, as it ultimately proved, they never met again." [149]

During the course of this brief and melancholy interview, the young
Queen, with the assistance of her royal mother-in-law, completed her
toilet; and then after their hurried leavetaking hastened to rejoin the
King, who had already evinced great impatience at her delay. But however
consoled she might have been by her own escape on this occasion, Anne of
Austria was nevertheless condemned to suffer her share of humiliation,
for she had no sooner reached the Convent than Louis formally presented
to her Madame de la Flotte as her First Lady of Honour, and her
grand-daughter Mademoiselle de Hautefort as her next attendant; while
upon her expressing her astonishment at such an arrangement, she was
informed that the Comtesse du Fargis, who was replaced by Madame de la
Flotte, had been banished from the Court, and that other great ladies
had shared the same fate.[150]

The will of Richelieu had indeed proved omnipotent. Not one of those
whom he had doomed to disgrace was suffered to escape without submitting
to humiliations degrading to their rank. The unfortunate Princesse de
Conti, the sister of the Duc de Guise, whose only crime was her
attachment to her royal mistress, and her love for Bassompierre, was
exiled to Eu; where her separation from the Queen, and the imprisonment
of the Marechal, so preyed upon her mind that she died within two months
of a broken heart; while all was alarm and consternation in the capital,
where the greatest and the proudest in the land trembled alike for their
lives and for their liberties.

Of all the victims of the Cardinal the Queen-mother was, however, the
most wretched and the most hopeless. So soon as Anne of Austria had
quitted her apartment, feeling herself overcome by the suddenness of the
shock to which she had been subjected, she caused her physician M.
Vautier to be summoned, and was abruptly informed that he had been
arrested, and conveyed a prisoner to Senlis.

"Another!" she murmured piteously. "Another in whom I might have found
help and comfort. But all who love me are condemned; and Richelieu
triumphs! My history is written in tears and blood. Heaven grant me
patience, for I am indeed an uncrowned Queen, and a childless mother."

Her lamentations were interrupted by the announcement of the Marechal
d'Estrees, who having been admitted, communicated to her the will of the
King that she should await his further orders at Compiegne.

"Say rather, M. le Marechal," she exclaimed with a burst of her habitual
impetuosity, "that I am henceforth a prisoner, and that you have been
promoted to the proud office of a woman's gaoler. What are the next
commands which I am to be called on to obey? What is to be my ultimate
fate? Speak boldly. There is some new misfortune in reserve, but I shall
not shrink. 'While others suffer for me, I shall find courage to suffer
for myself." "His Majesty, Madame, will doubtless inform you--"
commenced the mortified noble.

"So be it then, M. le Marechal," said Marie haughtily, as she motioned
him to retire; "I will await the orders of the King."

Those orders were not long delayed, for on the ensuing morning the Comte
de Brienne presented to the imprisoned Princess an autograph letter from
Louis XIII, of which the following were the contents:

* * * * *

"I left Compiegne, Madame, without taking leave of you in order to avoid
the annoyance of making a personal request which might have caused you
some displeasure. I desired to entreat you to retire for a time to the
fortress of Moulins, which you had yourself selected as your residence
after the death of the late King. Conformably to your marriage contract,
you would there, Madame and mother, be at perfect liberty; both yourself
and your household. Your absence causes me sincere regret, but the
welfare of my kingdom compels me to separate myself from you.

"LOUIS." [151]

* * * * *

As M. de Brienne had received orders to hold no intercourse with the
royal captive save in the presence of the Marechal d'Estrees, it was to
the latter noble that Marie de Medicis addressed herself when she had
read the cold and heartless letter of her son.

"So, Sir," she exclaimed vehemently, "the King commands me to remove to
Moulins! How have I been so unfortunate as to incur his displeasure
without having done anything to excite it? Why am I deprived of my
physician and the gentlemen of my household? If the King desires to
shorten my days he has only to keep me in captivity. It is strange that
being the mother of the sovereign I am subjected to the will of his
servants; but God will grant me justice. These are not the wishes of my
son, but I am the victim of the hatred and persecution of the Cardinal.
I know," she pursued, weeping bitterly, "why I am sent to Moulins; it is
because it would be easy from that city to compel my departure for
Italy; but rest assured, Marechal d'Estrees, that _I will sooner be
dragged naked from my bed_ than give my consent to such a measure."

"Madame," interposed the Comte de Brienne, "had there been any intention
to treat you with disrespect, it could have been done with as much
facility at Compiegne as at Moulins. I entreat of your Majesty to
reflect before you give us your final answer."

Marie profited by this advice; and the result of her deliberations was a
determination to make a final effort towards a reconciliation with the
King. In the letter which she addressed to him she declared that it was
her most anxious desire to merit his favour, and to conform to his
wishes. She besought him to remember that she was his mother; to recall
all the exertions which she had made for the welfare and preservation of
his kingdom; and finally she urged him to disregard the counsels of the
Cardinal-Minister in so far as they affected herself, since she knew,
from personal experience, that where he once hated he never forgave, and
that his ambition and his ingratitude were alike boundless.[152]

The only effect produced by this appeal was an offer to change her place
of exile to Angers, should she prefer a residence in that city to
Moulins; and in either case to confer upon her the government of
whichever of those two provinces she might select. The proposal was
indignantly rejected. It was evident that the sole aim of Richelieu was
to remove her to a distance from the capital which might impede her
communication with the few friends who remained faithful to her; and the
anxiety of the Cardinal to effect his object only rendered the
Queen-mother the more resolute not to yield.[153]

Meanwhile the position of the Marechal d'Estrees and M. de Brienne was
onerous in the extreme. They had received stringent commands to treat
their royal captive with every demonstration of respect and deference,
while at the same time they were instructed to prevent her
correspondence with the Duc d'Orleans, who had already reached Besancon
in Franche-Comte on his way to the duchy of Lorraine, pursued by the
royal troops, but nevertheless persisting in his purpose. They were,
moreover, to use every argument to induce her consent to leave Compiegne
for Moulins; a proposition that never failed to excite her anger, which
it was frequently difficult to appease; and the unfortunate Marechal
soon became so weary of the perpetual mortifications to which he was
subjected, that he daily wrote to the Cardinal representing the utter
impossibility of success. Richelieu, however, would not be discouraged;
and he merely replied by the assurance: "I know her well; continue to
exert yourself, persist without cessation, and you will at last effect
your object." [154]

Meanwhile the King, by the advice of his minister, declared all the
nobles by whom Monsieur was accompanied guilty of _lese-majeste_; a
sentence which was considered so extreme by the Parliament that when
called upon to register it on their minutes they ventured to
remonstrate. This act of justice, however, so exasperated the Cardinal
that he forthwith induced Louis to proceed to the capital, and to summon
the members to his presence, with an express order that they should
approach the Louvre _on foot_. This offensive command was no sooner
obeyed than the Keeper of the Seals severely reprimanded them for their
disloyalty and disobedience; and before time was afforded for a reply,
the King demanded that the official register should be delivered up to
him, which was no sooner done than he passionately tore out the leaf
upon which the decree had been inscribed, and substituted that of his
own Council, by which the Court of Parliament was forbidden all
deliberation on declarations of state, at the risk of the suspension of
its Councillors, and even of greater penalties, should such be deemed
advisable.[155]

This proceeding so much incensed the Duc d'Orleans that he in his turn
forwarded a declaration to the Parliament, in which he affirmed that he
had quitted the kingdom in consequence of the persecution of the
Cardinal de Richelieu, whom he accused of an attempt upon his own life,
and upon that of the Queen-mother; which was, as he affirmed, to have
been succeeded by a third against the sovereign, in order that the
minister might ultimately make himself master of the state; and Monsieur
had scarcely taken this step when Marie de Medicis adopted the same
policy. The Parliament had in past times warmly seconded her interests;
and she still hoped that it would afford her its protection. In the
appeal which she made, she dilated in the first place upon her own
wrongs; and complained that, without having in anywise intrigued against
either the sovereign or the nation, she was kept a close prisoner at
Compiegne; while she, moreover, followed up this representation by
accusing Richelieu of all the anarchy which existed in the kingdom, and
by demanding to be permitted to appear publicly as his accuser.

The appeal was, however, vain. The Parliament, indignant at the insult
which had been offered to them, and alarmed at the violence exhibited by
Louis in the affair of Monsieur, would not even consent to open her
despatch, but sent it with the seal still unbroken to the King;[156]
and thus the unfortunate Princess found herself compelled to abandon a
hope by which she had hitherto been sustained. She then sought to
interest the people in her favour; and for this purpose she did not
scruple to exaggerate the sufferings to which she was subjected by a
captivity which she represented as infinitely more rigorous than it
was in fact.

Her example was imitated alike by the Duc d'Orleans and the
Cardinal-Minister; and ere long the whole nation was deluged with
pamphlets, in which each accused the other without measure or decency.
Richelieu was, throughout his whole career, partial to this species of
warfare, and had able writers constantly in his employ for the express
purpose of writing down his enemies when he could not compass their ruin
by more speedy means; but on this occasion the violence of Monsieur was
so great that the Cardinal began to apprehend the issue of the struggle,
and deemed it expedient to terminate all further open aggression against
Marie de Medicis. In consequence of this conviction, therefore, he
forwarded an order to the Marechal d'Estrees to withdraw from Compiegne
with the troops under his command, and to leave the Queen-mother at
perfect liberty, provided she were willing to pledge herself to remain
in that town until she should receive the royal permission to select
another residence. It is probable that when the minister exacted this
promise he was as little prepared for its observance as was Marie when
she conceded it; for she had no sooner become convinced that her star
had waned before that of Richelieu, than she determined to effect her
escape so soon as she should have secured a place of refuge, whence she
could, should she see fit to do so, retire to the Spanish Low Countries,
and throw herself upon the protection of the Archduchess Isabella.
Having once arrived at this decision, the Queen-mother resolved, if
possible, to seek an asylum at La Capelle, which, being a frontier town,
offered all the necessary facilities for her project; and for this
purpose she despatched a trusty messenger to Madame de Vardes, whose
husband was governor of the place during the temporary absence of his
father, and who was herself a former mistress of Henri IV, and the
mother of the Comte de Moret. Flattered by the confidence reposed in
her, Madame de Vardes lost no time in exerting her influence over the
ambitious spirit of her husband, whom the Duc d'Orleans promised to
recompense by the rank of Gentleman of Honour to the Princess to whom he
was about to be united; and ere long M. de Vardes, who saw before him a
career of greatness and favour should the faction of Monsieur finally
triumph, suffered himself to be seduced from his duty to the King, and
consented to deliver up the town which had been confided to his keeping
to the Queen-mother and her adherents. This important object achieved,
Marie, who was aware that should the royal troops march upon La Capelle
it would be impossible to withstand their attack, hastened to entreat
the help of the Archduchess in case of need, and also her permission to
retire to the Low Countries should the persecution of the Cardinal
ultimately compel her to fly from France.

The rapid successes of the King of Sweden in Germany, and the
extraordinary strength of the States-General in the United Provinces,
had greatly alarmed both the Emperor and the King of Spain; who were
consequently well pleased to encourage any internal agitation which
might so fully tend to occupy the attention of Louis as to prevent him
from rendering effective aid either to Gustavus, the United Provinces,
or the Protestant Princes of Germany, nearly the whole of whom were in
arms against the Emperor; and thus the request of Marie was eagerly
welcomed alike by Ferdinand, Philip, and Isabella, who pledged
themselves to assist her to the full extent of their power. The Court of
Brussels especially made her the most unqualified promises; and the
Archduchess, while assuring her that on her arrival she should be
received with all the honour due to her distinguished rank, was profuse
in her expressions of sympathy.

Thus, as we have shown, when Richelieu demanded and received the promise
of Marie de Medicis that she would not seek to leave Compiegne, she was
only awaiting a favourable opportunity to effect her escape, and this
was afforded by the evacuation of the garrison. Fearful, however, that
this new order might only be a snare laid for her by the Cardinal, and
aware that although the troops had left the town they were still
quartered in the environs, she affected to discredit the assurance of
the Marechal that thenceforth he exercised no control over her
movements.

"I am not to be thus duped, Monsieur," was her cold reply. "Your men are
not far off; and I believe myself to be so thoroughly a prisoner that
henceforward I shall never leave the castle; even my walks shall be
restricted to the terrace."

When this determination on the part of his mother was communicated to
the King, he hastened to inform her that the troops should be withdrawn
to a distance from Compiegne; and to entreat that, in consideration for
her health, she would occasionally take the exercise by which alone it
could be preserved.

To this request she replied that she should obey his pleasure in all
things; and having thus, as she believed, removed all suspicion of her
purpose, she only awaited the conclusion of the necessary preparations
to carry it into execution.

On the 18th of July, at ten o'clock at night, the widow of Henri IV,
attended only by Madame du Fargis, who had secretly reached Compiegne in
order to bear her company during her flight, and by M. de la Mazure the
lieutenant of her guard, stepped into a carriage which had been prepared
for her, rapidly crossed the ferry, and took the road to La Capelle; but
before she could reach her destined haven, she was met by M. de Vardes,
who, with every demonstration of regret, informed her that her design
having by some extraordinary chance been suspected by Richelieu, the
Marquis his father, who was devoted to the minister, had been hurriedly
ordered to return to La Capelle, where he had arrived on the previous
evening; had shown himself to the garrison and magistrates; and had
commanded his son to leave the town upon the instant.

Agitated as she was, the Queen-mother did not fail even at that moment,
and, as some historians state, most justly, to suspect that she had been
betrayed either by the fears or the venality of the very individual
before her; but hastily offering her acknowledgments for his timely
warning, she repressed her resentment, and gave instant directions to
her attendants to proceed with all speed to Avesnes in Hainault. So well
was she obeyed that on the first day of her journey she travelled a
distance of twenty leagues, disregarding the entreaties of Madame du
Fargis, who represented to her the necessity of some temporary repose;
and persisting in her purpose so resolutely that on the 20th of July she
reached her destination, and placed herself beyond the reach of her
pursuers, who had, however, so languidly performed their duty that it
was openly declared that they had rather been despatched by Richelieu to
drive her from the kingdom than to compel her to remain within it.

On her arrival at Avesnes the royal fugitive was received with all
imaginable honour by the Marquis de Crevecoeur, the Governor of the
fortress; the troops were under arms; and she was escorted by the
dignitaries of the city to the Hotel-de-Ville, where she took up her
temporary residence. The Baron de Guepe was instantly despatched to
Brussels to announce her arrival to the Archduchess; and the Prince
d'Epinoy, the Governor of the county, waited upon her Majesty, to
entreat that she would remove to Mons, where Isabella was preparing to
welcome her. During her sojourn at Avesnes, Marie despatched three
letters to Paris, in which she respectively informed the King, the
Parliament, and the municipality of her reasons for leaving the country.

"Perceiving," she wrote in that which she addressed to her son, "that my
health was failing from day to day, and that it was the Cardinal's
intention to cause me to die between four walls, I considered that in
order to save my life and my reputation, I ought to accept the offer
which was made to me by the Marquis de Vardes, to receive me in La
Capelle, a town of which he is the Governor, and where you possess
absolute power. I therefore determined to go there. When I was within
three leagues of La Capelle the Marquis de Vardes informed me that I
could not enter that place, because he had given it into the hands of
his father. I leave you to imagine what was my affliction when I saw
myself so deceived, and pursued by a body of cavalry in order to hasten
me more speedily out of your kingdom. God has granted that the artifices
of the Cardinal should be discovered. The very individuals who
negotiated the affair have confessed that it was a plot of the
Cardinal's, in order to compel me to leave the country; an extreme
measure which I dreaded above all things, and which he passionately
desired." [157]

In reply to this letter Louis XIII wrote thus: "You will allow me, if
you please, Madame, to say that the act which you have just committed,
together with what has occurred for some time past, clearly discovers to
me the nature of your intentions, and that which I may in future expect
from them. The respect which I bear towards you prevents me from being
more explicit." [158]

The other letters of the Queen-mother, although calculated to excite
upon their publication a general hatred of the Cardinal, availed her
personal cause as little as that which she had addressed to the monarch.
Her flight was blamed by all classes throughout the country; and not the
slightest movement was made in her favour either by the Parliament or
the people. Richelieu was triumphant. He had at length succeeded in
throwing suspicion upon her movements, and in compelling her to share
the odium which he had hitherto borne alone; and although she saw
herself the honoured guest of the Princes with whom she had taken
refuge, the unfortunate Marie de Medicis soon became bitterly conscious
that she had lost her former hold on the affections of that France over
which she had once so proudly ruled. It is true that with the populace
the ill-fated Princess yet retained her popularity, but she owed a great
portion of this still-lingering affection to the general aversion of the
masses towards the Cardinal; and while they mourned and even wept over
her wrongs, they made no effort to enforce her justification.

On the invitation of the Prince d'Epinoy, Marie de Medicis, after a
short sojourn at Avesnes, proceeded to Mons, where she was welcomed with
salvos of artillery, and found all the citizens under arms in honour of
her arrival; and it was in the midst of the rejoicing consequent upon
her entry into that city, that she received the cold and stern reply of
Louis, of which we have quoted a portion above, and to which she
hastened to respond by a second letter, wherein she bitterly complained
of the harshness with which she had been treated; and refused to return
to France until the Cardinal should have been put upon his trial for
"his crimes and projects against the state." The letter thus concludes:
"I am your subject and your mother; do me justice as a King, love me as
a son. I entreat this of you with clasped hands."

The reception of the self-exiled Queen by the Archduchess Isabella,
whose noble and generous qualities have been extolled by all the
contemporary historians, was as warm and as sincere as though she had
welcomed a sister. The two Princesses wept together over the trials and
sufferings of the ill-fated Marie; nor was the sympathy of the
Archduchess confined to mere words. Every attention which the most
fastidious delicacy could suggest was paid to the wants and wishes of
the royal fugitive; and after a few days spent in the most perfect
harmony in the capital of Hainault, the Court removed to the summer
palace of Marimont, whence they ultimately proceeded to Brussels, where
the French Queen made her entry with great pomp, and was
enthusiastically received by all classes of the population.

From Brussels the illustrious ladies visited Antwerp, on the occasion of
the annual _kermesse_, or fair, where the inhabitants vied with each
other in doing honour to their distinguished guests. Six thousand
citizens, magnificently apparelled, were under arms during their stay;
and from the galleries of the quaint and picturesque old houses hung
draperies of damask, tapestry, and velvet, which blended their rich
tints with those of the banners that waved above the summits of the
public buildings, and from the masts of the shipping in the harbour.

Little could the unfortunate Marie de Medicis anticipate, when she thus
saw herself surrounded by the most unequivocal exhibition of respect and
deference ever displayed towards greatness in misfortune, that she
should but a few short years subsequently enter the city in which she
was now feasted and flattered, a penniless wanderer, only to be driven
out in terror and sickness, to seek a new shelter, and to die in
abject despair!

Ever sanguine, the Queen-mother even yet hoped for a propitious change
of fortune. She would not believe that Richelieu could ultimately
triumph over the natural affection of a son, evil as her experience had
hitherto proved; and when Isabella, in order to comply with the
necessary observances of courtesy, wrote to assure Louis XIII that so
far from intending any disrespect towards him by the reception which she
had given to his mother, she begged him rather to regard it as a
demonstration of her deference for himself; and at the same time offered
to assist by every means in her power in effecting a reconciliation
between them, Marie de Medicis deceived herself into the belief that
such a proposition coming from such a source would never be rejected;
while it is probable that had Louis been left to follow the promptings
of his own nature, which was rather weak than wicked, her anticipations
might at this period have been realized; but the inevitable Richelieu
was constantly beside him, to insinuate the foulest suspicions, and to
keep alive his easily-excited distrust of the motives of the
Queen-mother.

The despatches of Isabella were, moreover, entrusted to the Abbe
Carondelet, Deacon of the Cathedral of Cambrai, who, as the Cardinal was
well aware, considered himself aggrieved by the refusal to which he had
been subjected on his application for the bishopric of Namur; and who
would in consequence, as he did not fail to infer, be readily prevailed
upon to abandon the interests of the fugitive Queen. The event proved
the justice of his previsions. Carondelet was not proof against the
extraordinary honours which he received at the French Court, nor the
splendid presents of the King and his minister; and the man to whose
zeal and eloquence Isabella had confidently entrusted the cause of her
royal guest was, after the lapse of a few short days, heart and soul the
creature of Richelieu.[159]

The Cardinal found little difficulty in persuading the monarch that
Marie de Medicis must have had a full and perfect understanding with the
Spanish Cabinet before she would have ventured to seek an asylum within
their territories; an assertion which was so faintly combated by the
treacherous envoy of the Archduchess, that thenceforward the
protestations of the Queen-mother were totally disregarded, and the
triumph of Richelieu was complete. In consequence of this conviction,
Louis XIII published, in the month of August, a declaration which was
most injurious alike towards Marie de Medicis and Gaston d'Orleans.
Among other accusations, it asserted that "the evil counsellors of his
brother had driven him, contrary to the duty imposed by his birth, and
the respect which he owed to the person of his sovereign, to address to
him letters full of calumnies and impostures against the Government;
that he had accused, against all truth and reason, his very dear and
well-beloved cousin the Cardinal de Richelieu of infidelity and
enterprise against the person of his Majesty, that of the Queen-mother,
and his own; that for some time past the Queen-mother had also suffered
herself to be guided by bad advice; and that on his having entreated of
her to assist him by her counsels as she had formerly done, she had
replied that she was weary of public business; by which he had
discovered that she was resolved to second the designs of the Due
d'Orleans, and had consequently determined to separate from her, and to
request her to remove to Moulins, to which request she had refused to
accede; that having subsequently left Compiegne, she had taken refuge
with the Spaniards, and was unceasingly disseminating documents tending
to the subversion of the royal authority and of the kingdom itself; that
for all these reasons, confirming his previous declarations, he declared
guilty of _lese-majeste_ and disturbers of the public peace all those
who should be proved to have aided the Queen-mother and the Duc
d'Orleans in resisting his authority, and of having induced them to
leave the kingdom, as well as those who had followed and still remained
with them; and that it was his will that proceedings should be taken
against them by the seizure of their property, and the abolition of all
their public offices, appointments, and revenues."

By this arbitrary act not only were the adherents of Marie de Medicis
and Gaston d'Orleans deprived of their property, but their own revenues
were confiscated to the Crown, and they at once found themselves without
pecuniary resources.[160] The calculations of Richelieu had been able,
for the faction of the fugitives was instantly weakened by so
unexpected an act of severity. Crippled in means, they could no longer
recompense the devotion of those individuals who had followed their
fortunes, many of whom had done so from a hope of future aggrandizement,
and who immediately retired without even an attempt at apology, in order
to secure themselves from ruin. When the unfortunate Queen would have
sacrificed her jewels to liquidate the claims which pressed the most
heavily upon her, she found the measure impossible, lest the King should
redemand them as the property of the Crown; and she consequently soon
saw herself reduced to the undignified expedient of subsisting upon the
generosity of the powers from whom she had sought protection.

While Louis was, to use the words of Mezeray, thus "dishonouring his
mother and his brother," and depriving them of the very means of
subsistence, he was overwhelming the Cardinal de Richelieu alike with
honours and with riches. The estate whence he derived his name was
erected into a duchy-peerage, and he was thenceforward distinguished by
the title of the Cardinal-Duke; while the government of Brittany having
become vacant by the death of the Marechal de Themines, it was also
conferred upon the omnipotent minister.[161]

At this period, indeed, it appeared as if Richelieu had overcome all
obstacles to his personal greatness; and although the crown of France
was worn by the son of Henri IV, the foot of the Cardinal was on the
neck of the nation. That he was envied and hated is most true, but he
was still more feared than either. No one could dispute his genius;
while all alike uttered "curses not loud but deep" upon his tyranny
and ambition.

The King had long become a mere puppet in his hands, leaving all state
affairs to his guidance, while he himself passed his time in hunting,
polishing muskets, writing military memoirs, or wandering from one
palace to another in search of amusement. Perpetually surrounded by
favourites, he valued them only as they contributed to his selfish
gratification, and abandoned them without a murmur so soon as they
incurred the displeasure of the Cardinal, to whom in his turn he clung
from a sense of helplessness rather than from any real feeling
of regard.

Bitterly, indeed, had Marie de Medicis deluded herself when she imagined
that anything was to be hoped from the affection of Louis XIII, who was
utterly incapable of such a sentiment; but who, in all the relations of
life, whether as son, as husband, as friend, or as sovereign, was ever
the slave of his own self-love.

On her arrival at Brussels, the Queen-mother had despatched M. de la
Mazure to inform the Duc d'Orleans of her flight from France, and of the
gracious reception which she had met from the Archduchess Isabella;
assuring him at the same time that having been apprised of his
intention to espouse the Princesse Marguerite, she not only gave her
free consent to the alliance, but was of opinion that it should be
completed without delay.

The Oratorian Chanteloupe[162], in whom she reposed the most unlimited
confidence, had followed Monsieur to Lorraine, and was empowered to
declare in her name to the Duke Charles that the contemplated marriage
met with her entire approval, upon certain conditions which were
immediately accepted, although it was considered expedient to defer
their execution until Gaston should, with the aid of his ally, have
placed himself at the head of a powerful army, which was to march upon
the French frontier in order to compel the King to withdraw his
opposition.

The marriage portion of the Princess had been fixed at a hundred
thousand pistoles, the greater portion of which sum was expended in
levying troops for the proposed campaign; and in less than six weeks an
army of ten or twelve thousand foot-soldiers and five thousand horse was
raised; while Gaston, full of the most extravagant hopes, prepared to
commence his expedition.

Meanwhile commissaries had been appointed by Richelieu to proceed with
the trial of the adherents of the Queen-mother and the Duc d'Orleans,
and the first victims of his virulence were two physicians and
astrologers accused of having, at the request of the royal exiles, drawn
the horoscope of the King, and predicted the period of his death. These
unfortunate men were condemned to the galleys for life. The Duc de
Roannois, the Marquis de la Vieuville, and the Comtesse du Fargis were
executed in effigy; while the property of the Comte de Moret, the
Comtesse his mother, the Ducs de Roannois, d'Elboeuf, and de Bellegarde,
the Marquises de Boissy, de la Vieuville, and de Sourdeac, and the
President Le Coigneux, was confiscated to the Crown.

The government of Picardy was transferred from the Duc d'Elboeuf to the
Duc de Chevreuse, and that of Burgundy from the Duc de Bellegarde to the
Prince de Conde; and thus the faction of the mal contents found itself
crippled alike in pecuniary resources and in moral power.

Towards the close of the year, intelligence of the designs of the Duc
d'Orleans having reached Paris, the King proceeded to Lorraine, in order
to arrest his movements; and despatched a messenger to Charles,
demanding to be informed of his motive for raising so strong an army;
and also if it were true that Monsieur contemplated a marriage with the
Princesse Marguerite, as he had been informed. In reply, the Lorraine
Prince assured the royal envoy that the troops had been levied with a
view to assist the Emperor against the King of Sweden; and that the
rumour which had spread in the French capital of an intended alliance
between his august guest and the Princess his sister was altogether
erroneous. No credence was, however, vouchsafed to this explanation, the
Cardinal already possessing sufficient evidence to the contrary; and
being, moreover, quite as anxious to deprive the Emperor of all
extraneous help as he was to circumvent the projects of Monsieur. A
second express was consequently forwarded a few days subsequently,
summoning Charles de Lorraine immediately to march his army beyond the
Rhine; and threatening in the event of his disobedience that the King
would forthwith attend the nuptials of his brother at the head of the
best troops in his kingdom.

This intimation sufficed to convince the Lorraine Prince that his only
safety was to be found in compliance, all the hopes which Gaston had
indulged of succour from France having failed him; and it was
accordingly resolved that the little army should proceed at once to
Germany under the command of Charles himself. Montsigot, the private
secretary of Monsieur, was at that period at Brussels, whither he had
been sent to inform the Queen-mother and the Archduchess Isabella of the
progress of affairs in Lorraine, and to solicit assistance in the
projected irruption into France which had been concerted with the
Spanish Cabinet. His application proved successful, and on different
occasions the Prince received from the sovereigns of the Low Countries
upwards of five hundred thousand florins. The threat of the King,
however, rendered a change of measures imperative; Puylaurens,[163] one
of the favourites of the Prince, was despatched in all haste to acquaint
the Court of Brussels with the failure of the contemplated campaign, and
to concert measures for a similar attempt during the ensuing year with
the ministers of Philip and Isabella; as well as to secure a retreat
for Monsieur in Flanders, should he find himself compelled to quit the
duchy of Lorraine.[164]

At the same time Marie de Medicis despatched the Chevalier de Valencay
to Madrid, with orders to explain to Philip of Spain the precise nature
of her position, and to solicit his interference in her behalf; but
after long deliberation the Spanish ministers induced his Majesty not to
compromise himself with France by affording any direct assistance to the
Queen-mother, and to excuse himself upon the plea of the numerous wars
in which he was engaged, especially that against the Dutch which had
been fomented by the French Cabinet, and which had for some time cruelly
harassed his kingdom. He, however, assured the royal exile of his deep
sympathy, and of his intention to urge upon the Infanta Isabella the
expediency of alleviating to the utmost extent of her power the
sufferings of her august guest.

Philip and his Cabinet could afford to be lavish of their words, but
they did not dare to brave the French cannon on the Pyrenees.[165] At
the close of the year Charles de Lorraine led back his decimated army
from Germany; and the marriage of Gaston with the Princesse Marguerite
shortly afterwards took place. There was, however, nothing regal in the
ceremony, the presence of Louis XIII at Metz rendering the contracting
parties apprehensive that should their intention transpire, they would
be troubled by a host of unwelcome guests. Thus the Cardinal de
Lorraine, Bishop of Toul, and brother to the reigning Duke, dispensed
with the publication of the banns, and permitted the ceremony to take
place in one of the convents of Nancy, where a monk of Citeaux performed
the service at seven o'clock in the evening; the only witnesses being
the Duc de Vaudemont, the father of the bride, the Abbesse de Remiremont
by whom she had been brought up, Madame de la Neuvillette her governess,
and the Comte de Moret.[166]

It is asserted that the old Duc de Vaudemont was so apprehensive of the
unhappy results of a marriage contracted under such circumstances, that
on receiving the congratulations of those around him, he replied calmly:
"Should my daughter not be one day eligible to become Queen of France,
she will at least make a fitting Abbess of Remiremont." [167]

While Gaston d'Orleans was engrossed by his personal affairs, his
unhappy mother was engaged in making a fresh appeal to the justice and
affection of the King. Powerless and penniless in a foreign land, she
pined for a reconciliation with her son, and a return to her adopted
country. But the hatred and jealousy of Richelieu were still unappeased.
He had already robbed her of her revenues, caused an inventory of her
furniture, pictures, and equipages to be made, as though she were
already dead; imprisoned or banished the members of her household; and
had bribed the pens of a number of miserable hirelings to deluge France
with libellous pamphlets to her dishonour. There was no indignity to
which she had not been subjected through his influence; and on this last
occasion she was fated to discover that even the poor gratification of
justifying herself to her son and sovereign was to be henceforth denied
to her; as at the instigation of the Cardinal, instead of vouchsafing
any reply to the long and affecting letter which she had addressed to
him, Louis coldly informed the bearer of the despatch that should the
Queen again permit herself to write disparagingly of his prime minister,
he would arrest and imprison her messenger.

A short time subsequently, having learnt that the King had once more
offended the Parliament, Marie de Medicis. who had received information
that Richelieu was desirous of declaring war against Spain, and who was
naturally anxious to prevent hostilities between her son and the husband
of her daughter, resolved once more to forward a letter to the
Parliament, and to entreat of them to remonstrate with the King against
so lamentable a design. Yielding to a natural impulse she bitterly
inveighed in her despatch against the Cardinal-Duke, who, in order to
further his own aggrandizement, was about, should he succeed, to plunge
the nation into bloodshed, and to sever the dearest ties of kindred.
This letter was communicated to Richelieu, whose exasperation exceeded
all bounds; and it is consequently almost needless to add that it only
served to embitter the position of the persecuted exile.

On the 26th of December Charles de Lorraine, anxious to appease the
anger of the French King, proceeded to Metz, where he was well received
by Richelieu, who trusted, through his influence, to secure the
neutrality of the Duke of Bavaria. He, however, warned the Prince that
Louis would never consent to the marriage of Monsieur with the Princesse
Marguerite, nor permit him to make his duchy a place of refuge for the
French malcontents; and, finally, despite the banquets and festivals
which were celebrated in his honour, Charles became convinced that
unless he complied with the conditions of a treaty which was proposed to
him, he would not be allowed to return to his own territories.

Under this well-grounded impression the unfortunate young Prince had no
other alternative than to submit to the humiliation inflicted on him,
and on the 31st of December he signed a document by which he abjured for
the future every alliance save that with France; accorded a free passage
to the French armies through his duchy at all times; and pledged himself
not to harbour any individuals hostile to Louis, particularly the
Queen-mother or Monsieur; and, as a pledge of his promised obedience, he
delivered up his fortress of Marsal. Such was the result of his trust in
the clemency of the French King and his minister; but, far from having
been gained over to their cause, the Duc de Lorraine returned to Nancy
with a deep and abiding wrath at the indignity which had been forced
upon him; and an equally firm resolve to break through the compulsory
treaty on the first favourable opportunity.[168]

FOOTNOTES:

[144] Capefigue, vol. v. pp. 23-25. Sismondi, vol. xxiii. pp. 159, 160.
Bassompierre, _Mem_. vol. iii. p. 281. Brienne, _Mem_. vol. ii. pp.
23, 24.

[145] Capefigue, vol. v. pp. 31, 32. Bassompierre, _Mem_. vol. iii. p.
282.

[146] Le Vassor, vol. vi. pp. 628-632. Brienne, _Mem_. vol. ii. p. 24.
Mezeray, vol. xi. p. 384.

[147] Capefigue, vol. v. pp. 34, 35.

[148] Mezeray, vol. xi. pp. 384-388. Capefigue, vol. v. pp. 32-34.

[149] Motteville, _Mem_. vol. i. pp. 375-377.

[150] Capefigue, vol. v. pp. 35-37. Brienne, _Mem_. vol. ii. pp. 25, 26.

[151] Capefigue, vol. v. pp. 37, 38.

[152] Mezeray, vol. xi. pp. 388, 389.

[153] Brienne, _Mem_. vol. ii. pp. 26-28

[154] Capefigue, vol. v. p. 40

[155] Decrees of the Parliament.

[156] Jean Le Clerc, _Vie du Cardinal-Duc de Richelieu_, Cologne, 1695,
vol ii. pp. 7, 8.

[157] Le Vassor, vol. vi. pp. 735-741. _Mercure Francais_, 1631. Siri,
_Mem. Rec. vol_. vii. pp. 332-336. Mezeray, vol. xi. p. 392. Sismondi,
vol. xxv. pp. 165, 166.

[158] Le Vassor, vol. vi. pp. 735, 736.

[159] Le Vassor, vol. vi. pp. 759-764.

[160] Le Clerc, vol. ii. p. 11.

[161] Mezeray, vol. xi. pp. 392-395. Le Clerc, vol. ii. pp. 9-12

[162] Chanteloupe was the confessor, adviser, and secret agent of Marie
de Medicis.

[163] Antoine de l'Age, Seigneur de Puylaurens, had possessed himself of
the entire confidence of Gaston d'Orleans, who, like his royal mother
and brother, was always the tool of his favourites; and his influence
over the weak and vacillating Prince at length became all-powerful,
although it was exercised more than once to the prejudice of his
confiding master. Puylaurens was elevated to the peerage after having in
some degree sold his patron to Richelieu, who in 1634 bestowed upon him,
from policy, the hand of his cousin Mademoiselle de Pont-Chateau; but by
whom he was immediately imprisoned, the Cardinal having long indulged a
hatred toward his person which he had determined to gratify. Puylaurens
died in captivity in the following year.

[164] Le Vassor, vol. vii. pp. 17-22.

[165] Capefigue, vol. v. pp. 121-129.

[166] Gaston d'Orleans, _Mem_. p. 123.

[167] Le Vassor, vol. vii. p. 25.

[168] Siri, _Mem. Rec_. vol. vii. p. 447. Sismondi, vol. xxiii. pp. 182,
183.

CHAPTER IX

1632

Gaston d'Orleans proceeds to Brussels--His reception--Vanity of
Monsieur--Exultation of the Spanish Cabinet--Montmorency abandons the
interests of Richelieu--Marie de Medicis solicits his support--He
consents to second the projects of Monsieur--The Queen-mother and the
Duc d'Orleans sell their jewels in order to raise troops for the
invasion of France--Trial of the Marechal de Marillac--Marie and Gaston
exert themselves to save his life--He is executed--The adherents of the
two royal exiles create dissensions between the mother and son--Gaston
joins the Spanish army--Munificence of Isabella--Gaston marches upon
Burgundy--Remonstrance of Montmorency--An ill-planned campaign--Battle
of Castelnaudary--Slaughter of the rebel leaders--Cowardice of
Monsieur--Montmorency is made prisoner--Gaston endeavours to make terms
with the King--He abandons the cause of his mother, and that of his
allies--He stipulates for the pardon of Montmorency--Richelieu refuses
the condition--The treaty is signed by Monsieur--Jealousy of Louis
XIII--The miniature--Montmorency is conveyed to Toulouse, and put upon
his trial--Double-dealing of the Cardinal--Obduracy of the
King--Execution of Montmorency--Despair of the Queen-mother--Death of
the Comtesse du Fargis--The Jesuit Chanteloupe and Madame de
Comballet--A new conspiracy--The Archduchess Isabella refuses to deliver
up the servants of Marie de Medicis--Gaston retires to Burgundy.

By the Treaty of Vic, Charles de Lorraine was, as we have shown,
compelled to refuse all further hospitality to his royal brother-in-law;
while Gaston found himself necessitated to submit to a separation from
his young wife, and to proceed to the Spanish Low Countries, where
Isabella had offered him an asylum. The amiable Archduchess nobly
redeemed her pledge; and the reception which she accorded to the errant
Duke was as honourable as that already bestowed upon his mother.

The Marquis de Santa-Cruz, who had recently arrived from Italy to
command the Spanish forces in Flanders, was instructed to place himself
at the head of all the nobility of the Court, and to advance a league
beyond the city to meet the French Prince; while the municipal bodies of
Brussels awaited him at the gates. He was lodged in the State apartments
of the Palace, and all the expenses of his somewhat elaborate household
were defrayed by his magnificent hostess.

"I am sorry, Sir," said Isabella gracefully, as Gaston hastened to offer
his acknowledgments on his arrival, "that I am compelled to quarrel with
you on our first interview. You should have deferred your visit to me
until you had seen the Queen your mother."

"Madame," replied the Prince, "it will be infinitely more easy for me to
justify myself for having previously paid my respects to yourself, than
to recognize in an efficient manner the debt of obligation which I have
incurred towards you."

After the compliments incident to such a meeting had been exchanged
between Isabella and her new guest, Gaston received those of the Spanish
grandees and the Knights of the Golden Fleece; and at the close of this
ceremony he proceeded to the residence of Marie de Medicis, who embraced
him tenderly, and bade him remember that all her hopes of vengeance
against Richelieu, and a triumphant return to France, were centred in
himself. The vain and shallow nature of the Prince was flattered by the
position which he had thus suddenly assumed. Thwarted and humbled at the
Court of his brother by the intrigues of the Cardinal; distrusted by
those who had formerly espoused his cause, and who had suffered the
penalty of their misplaced confidence; and impoverished by the evil
issue of his previous cabals, he had long writhed beneath his enforced
insignificance; whereas he had now, in his new retreat, suddenly grown
into authority, and been the object of general homage; his wishes had
become laws, and his very follies met with applause and imitation. The
little Court of Brussels awoke into sudden animation; and pleasure
succeeded pleasure with a rapidity which afforded constant occupation to
his frivolous and sensual nature.

His arrival had filled the Spanish Cabinet with joy, as they foresaw
that the war which he contemplated against his brother promised to
weaken the power of the French King, who, while occupied in reducing
this new enemy, would for the time be rendered unable to continue the
powerful aid which he had hitherto afforded to the opponents of the
House of Austria; a circumstance whence their own prospects in Flanders
could not fail to profit largely.

The project of this contemplated war was based upon two conditions: in
the first place, on the help promised by Philip of Spain himself; and in
the second, upon the pledge given by the Duc de Montmorency[169] to
embrace the cause of Monsieur, and to receive him in Languedoc, of which
province he was the Governor, and which afforded immense facilities for
carrying out his purpose.

Of the defection of the Duc de Montmorency from his interests,
Richelieu, generally so well informed upon such subjects, did not
entertain the most remote suspicion, as during all the factions of the
Court, Montmorency had hitherto acted as a mediator, and had
consequently upon several occasions done good service to the minister;
but, proud as he was, alike of his illustrious descent and of his
personal reputation, the Duke, like all the other nobles about him,
still sought to aggrandize himself. The descendant of a long line of
ancestors who had successively wielded the sword of Connetable de
France, he desired, in his turn, to possess it; and disregarding the
fact that Richelieu, whose policy led him to oppose all increase of
power among the great nobles, had definitely abolished so dangerous a
dignity, he suffered himself to be induced, by his representations, to
resign the rank which he already held of Admiral of the French fleet, in
order that it might prove no impediment to his appointment to the
coveted Connetablie. The result of this imprudence had been that while
the Cardinal possessed himself of the vacated post under another title,
Montmorency found that he had resigned the substance to grasp a shadow;
as, on his application for the sword so long wielded by the heads of his
family, he was met by an assurance that thenceforward no such function
would be recognized at the Court of France. The mortified noble then
applied for the post of Marshal-General of the King's camps and armies,
which, save in name, would not have differed from the rank to which he
had previously aspired; and again he was subjected to a resolute
refusal. Indignant at the rejection of his claim, the Duke had, at the
close of the preceding year, retired to his government of Languedoc; and
his anger against the Court was heightened by a third repulse which he
experienced when soliciting the government of the city and fortress of
Montpellier.

The irritation which he felt under this complicated disappointment,
combined with the consciousness that he had been duped by the Cardinal,
and compelled to act as the subordinate of an individual so inferior to
himself in rank, created a disgust which, carefully as he endeavoured to
conceal it, soon became evident to those about him; nor was it long ere
Marie de Medicis and Monsieur were informed of his disaffection.
Confidential messengers were immediately despatched to invite the Duke
to espouse their cause, and they found a powerful ally in the Duchess,
Maria Felicia d'Ursini, who was a near relative of the Queen-mother.

Weary of inaction, anxious for revenge, and, perhaps, desirous of
emulating the generous example of the Duc d'Epernon, who had previously
declared himself the champion of Marie, Montmorency was at length
prevailed upon to consent to their solicitations, and even to pledge
himself to receive Gaston in Languedoc; although at the same time he
urged him not to quit Brussels until the end of August, in order that he
might have time to complete the necessary preparations.

The prospect of possessing so powerful an ally strengthened the hopes of

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