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A Popular History of France From The Earliest Times by Francois Pierre Guillaume Guizot

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reconciled with him. Meeting with no success, he made up his mind to
separate from the League, and go over to the king's service. He could do
so without treachery or shame; even as a Leaguer and a servant of
Mayenne's he had always been opposed to Spain, and devoted to a French,
but, at the same time, a faithfully Catholic policy. He imported into
the service of Henry IV. the same sentiments and the same bearing; he was
still a zealous Catholic, and a partisan, for king and country's sake, of
alliance with Catholic powers. He was a man of wits, experience, and
resource, who knew Europe well and had some influence at the court of
Rome. Henry IV. saw at once the advantage to be gained from him, and, in
spite of the Protestants' complaints, and his sister Princess Catherine's
prayers, made him, on the 25th of September, 1594, secretary of state for
foreign affairs. This acquisition did not cost him so dear as that of
Villars: still we read in the statement of sums paid by Henry IV. for
this sort of conquest, "Furthermore, to M. de Villeroi, for himself, his
son, the town of Pontoise, and other individuals, according to their
treaty, four hundred and seventy-six thousand five hundred and
ninety-four livres." It is quite true that this statement was drawn up
by Sully, the unwavering supporter of Protestant alliances in Europe,
and, as such, Villeroi's opponent in the council of Henry IV.; but the
other contemporary documents confirm Sully's assertion. Villeroi was
a faithful servant to Henry, who well repaid him by stanchness in
supporting him against the repeated attacks of violent Reformers. In
1594, when he became minister of foreign affairs, the following verse
was in vogue at the Louvre:--

"The king could never beat the League;
'Twas Villeroi who did the thing;
So well he managed his intrigue,
That now the League hath got the king."

It is quite certain, however, that Henry IV. was never of the opinion
expressed in that verse; for, ten years later, in 1604, Villeroi having
found himself much compromised by the treachery of a chief clerk in his
department, who had given up to the Spanish government some important
despatches, the king, though very vexed at this mishap, "the consequences
of which rankled in his heart far more than he allowed to appear openly,
nevertheless continued to look most kindly on Villeroi, taking the
trouble to call upon him, to console and comfort him under this
annoyance, and not showing him a suspicion of mistrust because of what
had happened, any more than formerly; nay, even less." [_Journal de
L'Estoile,_ t. iii. pp. 85-441.] Never had prince a better or nobler way
of employing confidence in his proceedings with his servants, old or new,
at the same time that he made clear-sighted and proper distinctions
between them.

Henry IV., with his mind full of his new character as a Catholic king,
perceived the necessity of getting the pope to confirm the absolution
which had been given him, at the time of his conversion, by the French
bishops. It was the condition of his credit amongst the numerous
Catholic population who were inclined to rally to him, but required to
know that he was at peace with the head of their church. He began by
sending to Rome non-official agents, instructed to quietly sound the
pope, amongst others Arnold d'Ossat, a learned professor in the
University of Paris, who became, at a later period, the celebrated
cardinal and diplomat of that name. Clement VIII. [Hippolytus
Aldobrandini] was a clever man, moderate and prudent to the verge of
timidity, and, one who was disinclined to take decisive steps as to
difficult questions or positions until after they had been decided by
events. He refused to have any communication with him whom he still
called the Prince of Bearn, and only received the agents of Henry IV.
privately in his closet. But whilst he was personally severe and
exacting in his behavior to then, he had a hint given them by one of his
confidants not to allow themselves to be rebuffed by any obstacle, for
the pope would, sooner or later, welcome back the lost child who returned
to him. At this report, and by the advice of the Grand Duke of Tuscany,
Ferdinand de' Medici, Henry IV. determined to send a solemn embassy to
Rome, and to put it under the charge of a prince of Italian origin, Peter
di Gonzaga, Duke of Nevers. But either through the pope's stubborn
resolve or the ambassador's somewhat impatient temper, devoted as he was,
however, to the Holy See, the embassy had no success. The Duke of Nevers
could not obtain an official reception as ambassador of the King of
France. It was in vain that he had five confidential audiences of the
pope; in vain that he represented energetically to him all the progress
Henry IV. had already made, all the chances he had of definitive success,
all the perils to which the papacy exposed itself by rejecting his
advances; Clement VIII. persisted in his determination. Philip II. and
Mayenne still reigned in his ideas, and he dismissed the Duke of Nevers
on the 13th of January, 1594, declaring once more that he refused to the
Navarrese absolution at the inner bar of conscience, absolution at the
outer bar, and confirmation in his kingship.

Henry IV. did not put himself out, did not give himself the pleasure of
testifying to Rome his discontent; he saw that he had not as yet
sufficiently succeeded--sufficiently vanquished his enemies, or won to
himself his kingdom with sufficient completeness and definitiveness--to
make the pope feel bound to recognize and sanction his triumph. He set
himself once more to work to grow still greater in France, and force the
gates of Rome without its being possible to reproach him with violence or
ill temper.

He had been absolved and crowned at St. Denis by the bishops of France;
he had not been anointed at Rheims, according to the religious traditions
of the French monarchy. At Rheims he could not be; for it was still in
the power of the League. Researches were made, to discover whether the
ceremony of anointment might take place elsewhere; numerous instances
were found, and in the case of famous kings: Pepin the Short had been
anointed first of all at Mayence, Charlemagne and Louis the Debonnair at
Rome, Charles the Bald at Mayence, several emperors at Aix-la-Chapelle
and at Cologne. The question of the holy phial (ampoule) was also
discussed; and it was proved that on several occasions other oils, held
to be of miraculous origin, had been employed instead. These
difficulties thus removed, the anointment of Henry IV. took place at
Chartres on the 27th of February, 1594; the Bishop of Chartres, Nicholas
de Thou, officiated, and drew up a detailed account of all the ceremonies
and all the rejoicings; thirteen medals, each weighing fifteen gold
crowns, were struck, according to custom; they bore the king's image, and
for legend, _Invia virtuti nulla est via_ (To manly worth no road is
inaccessible). Henry IV., on his knees before the grand altar, took the
usual oath, the form of which was presented to him by Chancellor de
Chiverny. With the exception of local accessories, which were
acknowledged to be impossible and unnecessary, there was nothing wanting
to this religious hallowing of his kingship.

But one other thing, more important than the anointment at Chartres, was
wanting. He did not possess the capital of his kingdom the League were
still masters of Paris. Uneasy masters of their situation; but not so
uneasy, however, as they ought to have been. The great leaders of the
party, the Duke of Mayenne, his mother the Duchess of Nemours, his sister
the Duchess of Montpensier, and the Duke of Feria, Spanish ambassador,
were within its walls, a prey to alarm and discouragement. "At
breakfast," said the Duchess of Montpensier, "they regale us with the
surrender of a hamlet, at dinner of a town, at supper of a whole
province." The Duchess of Nemours, who desired peace, exerted herself to
convince her son of all their danger. "Set your affairs in order," she
said;--if you do not begin to make your arrangements with the king before
leaving Paris, you will lose this capital. I know that projects are
already afoot for giving it up, and that those who can do it, and in whom
you have most confidence, are accomplices and even authors of the plot."
Mayenne himself did not hide from his confidants the gravity of the
mischief and his own disquietude. "Not a day," he wrote on the 4th of
February, 1594, to the Marquis of Montpezat, "but brings some trouble
because of the people's yearning for repose, and of the weakness which is
apparent on our side. I stem and stop this forment with as much courage
as I can; but the present mischief is overwhelming; the King of Navarre
will in a few days have an army of twenty thousand men, French as well as
foreigners. What will become of us, if we have not wherewithal not only
to oppose him, but to make him lose the campaign? I can tell you of a
verity that, save for my presence, Paris would have already been lost
because of the great factions there are in it, which I take all the pains
in the world to disperse and break up, and also because of the small aid,
or rather the gainsaying, I meet with from the ministers of the King of
Spain." Mayenne tried to restore amongst the Leaguers both zeal and
discipline; he convoked on the 2d of March, a meeting of all that
remained of the faction of the Sixteen; he calculated upon the presence
of some twelve hundred; scarcely three hundred came; he had an harangue
delivered to them by the Rev. John Boucher, charged them to be faithful
to the old spirit of the League, promised them that he would himself be
faithful even to death, and exhorted them to be obedient in everything to
Brissac, whom he had just appointed governor of the city, and to the
provost of tradesmen. On announcing to them his imminent departure for
Soissons, to meet some auxiliary troops which were to be sent to him by
the King of Spain, "I leave to you," he said, "what is dearest to me in
the world--my wife, my children, my mother, and my sister." But when he
did set out, four days afterwards, on the 6th of March, 1594, he took
away his wife and his children; his mother had already warned him that
Brissac was communicating secretly, by means of his cousin, Sieur de
Rochepot, with the royalists, and that the provost of tradesmen,
L'Huillier, and three of the four sheriffs were agreed to bring the city
back to obedience to the king. When the Sixteen and their adherents saw
Mayenne departing with his wife and children, great were their alarm and
wrath. A large band, with the incumbent of St. Cosmo (Hamilton) at their
head, rushed about the streets in arms, saying, "Look to your city; the
policists are brewing a terrible business for it." Others, more violent,
cried, "To arms! Down upon the policists! Begin! Let us make an end of
it!" The policists, that is, the burgesses inclined to peace, repaired
on their side to the provost of tradesmen to ask for his authority to
assemble at the Palace or the Hotel de Ville, and to provide for security
in case of any public calamity. The provost tried to elude their
entreaties by pleading that the Duke of Mayenne would think ill of their
assembling. "Then you are not the tradesmen's but M. de Mayenne's
provost?" said one of them. "I am no Spaniard," answered the provost;
"no more is M. de Mayenne; I am anxious to reconcile you to the Sixteen."
"We are honest folks, not branded and defamed like the Sixteen; we will
have no reconciliation with the wretches." The Parliament grew excited,
and exclaimed against the insolence and the menaces of the Sixteen. "We
must give place to these sedition-mongers, or put them down." A decree,
published by sound of trumpet on the 14th of March, 1594, throughout the
whole city, prohibited the Sixteen and their partisans from assembling on
pain of death. That same day, Count de Brissac, governor of Paris, had
an interview at the abbey of St. Anthony, with his brother-in-law,
Francis d'Epinay, Lord of St. Luc, Henry IV.'s grand-master of the
ordnance; they had disputes touching private interests, which they
wished, they said, to put right; and on this pretext advocates had
appeared at their interview. They spent three hours in personal
conference, their minds being directed solely to the means of putting the
king into possession of Paris. They separated in apparent dudgeon.
Brissac went to call upon the legate Gaetani, and begged him to excuse
the error he had committed in communicating with a heretic; his interest
in the private affairs in question was too great, he said, for him to
neglect it. The legate excused him graciously, whilst praising him for
his modest conduct, and related the incident to the Duke of Feria, the
Spanish ambassador. "He is a good fellow, M. de Brissac," said the
ambassador; "I have always found him so; you have only to employ the
Jesuits to make him do all you please. He takes little notice,
otherwise, of affairs; one day, when we were holding council in here,
whilst we were deliberating, he was amusing himself by catching flies."
For four days the population of Paris was occupied with a solemn
procession in honor of St. Genevieve, in which the Parliament and all the
municipal authorities took part. Brissac had agreed with his
brother-in-law D'Epinay that he would let the king in on the 22d of
March, and he had arranged, in concert with the provost of tradesmen, two
sheriffs, and several district captains, the course of procedure. On the
21st of March, in the evening, some Leaguers paid him a visit, and spoke
to him warmly about the rumors current on the subject in the city,
calling upon him to look to it. "I have received the same notice," said
Brissac, coolly; "and I have given all the necessary orders. Leave me to
act, and keep you quiet, so as not to wake up those who will have to be
secured. To-morrow morning you will see a fine to-do and the policists
much surprised." During all the first part of the night between the 21st
and 22d of March, Brissac went his rounds of the city and the guards he
had posted, "with an appearance of great care and solicitude." He had
some trouble to get rid of certain Spanish officers, "whom the Duke of
Feria had sent him to keep him company in his rounds, with orders to
throw themselves upon him and kill him at the first suspicious movement;
but they saw nothing to confirm their suspicions, and at two A. M.,
Brissac brought them back much fatigued to the duke's, where he left
them." Henry IV., having started on the 21st of March from Senlis, where
he had mustered his troops, and arrived about midnight at St. Denis,
immediately began his march to Paris. The night was dark and stormy;
thunder rumbled; rain fell heavily; the king was a little behind time.
At three A. M.. the policists inside Paris had taken arms and repaired to
the posts that had been assigned to them. Brissac had placed a guard
close to the quarters of the Spanish ambassador, and ordered the men to
fire on any who attempted to leave. He had then gone in person, with
L'Huillier, the provost of tradesmen, to the New Gate, which he had
caused to be unlocked and guarded. Sheriff Langlois had done the same at
the gate of St. Denis. On the 22d of March, at four A. M., the king had
not yet appeared before the ramparts, nor any one for him. Langlois
issued from the gate, went some little distance to look out, and came in
again, more and more impatient. At last, between four and five o'clock,
a detachment of the royal troops, commanded by Vitry, appeared before the
gate of St. Denis, which was instantly opened. Brissac's brother-in-law,
St. Luc, arrived about the same time at the New Gate, with a considerable
force. The king's troops entered Paris. They occupied the different
districts, and met with no show of resistance but at the quay of L'Ecole,
where an outpost of lanzknechts tried to stop them; but they were cut in
pieces or hurled into the river. Between five and six o'clock Henry IV.,
at the head of the last division, crossed the drawbridge of the New Gate.
Brissac, Provost L'Huillier, the sheriffs, and several companies of
burgesses advanced to meet him. The king embraced Brissac, throwing his
own white scarf round his neck, and addressing him as "Marshal." "Render
unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's," said Brissac, as he called
upon the provost of tradesmen to present to the king the keys of the
city. "Yes," said L'Huillier, "render them, not sell them." The king
went forward with his train, going along Rue St. Honore to the market of
the Innocents and the bridge of Notre-Dame; the crowd increased at every
step. "Let them come near," said Henry; "they hunger to see a king." At
every step, too, at sight of the smallest incident, the character of
Henry, his natural thoughtful and lovable kindliness, shone forth. He
asked if his entry had met with resistance anywhere; and he was told that
about fifty lanzknechts had been killed at the quay of L'Ecole. "I would
willingly give fifty thousand crowns," said he, "to be able to say that I
took Paris without costing the life of one single man." As he marched
along the Rue St. Honore, he saw a soldier taking some bread by force
from a baker's; he rushed at him, and would have struck him with his
sword. As he passed in front of the Innocents, he saw at a window a man
who was looking at him, and pointedly keeping his hat on; the man
perceived that the king' observed him, and withdrew, shutting down the
window. Henry said, "Let nobody enter this house to vex or molest any
one in it." He arrived in front of Notre-Dame, followed by five or six
hundred men-at-arms, who trailed their pikes "in token of a victory that
was voluntary on the people's part," it was said. There was no uproar,
or any hostile movement, save on the left bank of the Seine, in the
University quarter, where the Sixteen attempted to assemble their
partisans round the gate of St. Jacques; but they were promptly dispersed
by the people as well as by the royal troops. On leaving Notre-Dame,
Henry repaired to the Louvre, where he installed royalty once more.
At ten o'clock he was master of the whole city; the districts of
St. Martin, of the Temple, and St. Anthony alone remained still in the
power of three thousand Spanish soldiers under the orders of their
leaders, the Duke of Feria and Don Diego d'Ibarra. Nothing would have
been easier for Henry than to have had them driven out by his own troops
and the people of Paris, who wanted to finish the day's work by
exterminating the foreigners; but he was too judicious and too
far-sighted to embitter the general animosity by pushing his victory
beyond what was necessary. He sent word to the Spaniards that they must
not move from their quarters and must leave Paris during the day, at the
same time promising not to bear arms any more against him, in France.
They eagerly accepted these conditions. At three o'clock in the
afternoon, ambassador, officers, and soldiers all evacuated Paris, and
set out for the Low Countries. The king, posted at a window over the
gate of St. Denis, witnessed their departure. They, as they passed,
saluted him respectfully; and he returned their salute, saying, "Go,
gentlemen, and commend me to your master; but return no more."

After his conversion to Catholicism, the capture of Paris was the most
decisive of the issues which made Henry IV. really King of France. The
submission of Rouen followed almost immediately upon that of Paris; and
the year 1594 brought Henry a series of successes, military and civil,
which changed very much to his advantage the position of the kingship as
well as the general condition of the kingdom. In Normandy, in Picardy,
in Champagne, in Anjou, in Poitou, in Brittany, in Orleanness, in
Auvergne, a multitude of important towns, Havre, Honfleur, Abbeville,
Amiens, Peronue, Montdidier, Poitiers, Orleans, Rheims, Chateau-Thierry,
Beauvais, Sens, Riom, Morlaix, Laval, Laon, returned to the king's
authority, some after sieges and others by pacific and personal
arrangement, more or less burdensome for the public treasury, but very
effective in promoting the unity of the nation and of the monarchy. In
the table drawn up by Sully of expenses under that head, he estimated
them at thirty-two millions, one hundred and forty-two thousand, nine
hundred and eighty-one livres, equivalent at the present day, says M.
Poirson, to one hundred and eighteen millions of francs. The rendition
of Paris, "on account of M. de Brissac, the city itself and other
individuals employed on his treaty," figures in this sum total at one
million, six hundred and forty-five thousand, four hundred livres.
Territorial acquisitions were not the only political conquests of this
epoch; some of the great institutions which had been disjointed by the
religious wars, for instance, the Parliaments of Paris and Normandy,
recovered their unity and resumed their efficacy to the advantage of
order, of the monarchy, and of national independence; their decrees
against the League contributed powerfully to its downfall. Henry IV.
did his share in other ways besides warfare; he excelled in the art of
winning over or embarrassing his vanquished foes. After the submission
of Paris, the two princesses of the house of Lorraine who had remained
there, the Duchesses of Nemours and of Montpensier, one the mother and
the other the sister of the Duke of Mayenne, were preparing to go and
render homage to the conqueror; Henry anticipated them, and paid them the
first visit. As he was passing through a room where hung a portrait of
Henry de Guise, he halted and saluted it very courteously. The Duchess
of Montpensier, who had so often execrated him, did not hesitate to
express her regret that "her brother Mayenne had not been there to let
down for him the drawbridge of the gate by which he had entered Paris."
"Ventre-saint-gris," said the king, "he might have made me wait a long
while; I should not have arrived so early." He knew that the Duchess of
Nemours had desired peace, and when she allowed some signs of vexation to
peep out at her not having been able to bring her sons and grandsons to
that determination, "Madame," said he, a there is still time if they
please." At the close of 1594, he imported disorganization into the
household of Lorraine by offering the government of Provence to the young
Duke Charles of Guise, son of the Balafre; who eagerly accepted it; and
he from that moment paved the way, by the agency of President Jeannin,
for his reconciliation with Mayenne, which he brought to accomplishment
at the end of 1595.

The close of this happy and glorious year was at hand. On the 27th of
September, between six and seven P.M., a deplorable incident occurred,
for the second time, to call Henry IV.'s attention to the weak side of
his position. He was just back from Picardy, and holding a
court-reception at Schomberg House, at the back of the Louvre. John
Chastel, a young man of nineteen, son of a cloth-merchant in the city,
slipped in among the visitors, managed to approach the king, and dealt
him a blow with a knife just as he was stooping to raise and embrace
Francis de la Grange, Sieur de Montigny, who was kneeling before him.
The blow, aimed at the king's throat, merely slit his upper lip and broke
a tooth. "I am wounded!" said the king. John Chastel, having dropped
his knife, had remained on the spot, motionless and confused. Montigny,
according to some, but, according to others, the Count of Soissons, who
happened to be near him, laid hands upon him, saying, "Here is the
assassin, either he or I." Henry IV., always prone to pass things over,
pooh-poohed the suspicion, and was just giving orders to let the young
man go, when the knife, discovered on the ground close to Chastel, became
positive evidence. Chastel was questioned, searched, and then handed,
over to the grand provost of the household, who had him conveyed to
prison at For-l'Eveque. He first of all denied, but afterwards admitted
his deed, regretting that he had missed his aim, and saying he was ready
to try again for his own salvation's sake and that of religion. He
declared that he had been brought up amongst the Jesuits in Rue St.
Jacques, and he gave long details as to the education he had received
there and the maxims he had heard there. The rumor of his crime and of
the revelations he had made spread immediately over Paris and caused
passionate excitement. The people filled the churches and rendered
thanks to God for having preserved the king. The burgesses took up arms
and mustered at their guard-posts. The mob bore down on the college of
Jesuits in Rue St. Jacques with threats of violence. The king and the
Parliament sent a force thither; Brizard, councillor in the high chamber,
captain of the district, had the fathers removed, and put them in
security in his own house. The inquiry was prosecuted deliberately and
temperately. It brought out that John Chastel had often heard repeated
at his college "that it was allowable to kill kings, even the king
regnant, when they were not in the church or approved of by the pope."
The accused formally maintained this maxim, which was found written out
and dilated upon under his own hand in a note-book seized at his
father's. "Was it necessary, pray," said Henry IV., laughing, "that the
Jesuits should be convicted by my mouth?" John Chastel was sentenced to
the most cruel punishment; and he underwent it on the 20th of December,
1594, by torch-light, before the principal entrance of Notre-Dame,
without showing any symptom of regret. His mother and his sisters were
set at liberty. His father, an old Leaguer, had been cognizant of his
project, and had dissuaded him from it, but without doing anything to
hinder it; he was banished from the kingdom for nine years, and from
Paris forever. His house was razed to the ground; and on the site was
set up a pyramid with the decree of the Parliament inscribed upon it.

The proceedings did not stop there. At the beginning of this same year,
and on petition from the University of Paris, the Parliament had
commenced a general prosecution of the order of Jesuits, its maxims,
tendencies, and influence. Formal discussions had taken place; the
prosecution and the defence had been conducted with eloquence, and a
decree of the court had ordained that judgment should be deferred.
Several of the most respected functionaries, notably President Augustin
de Thou, had pronounced against this decree, considering the question so
grave and so urgent that the Parliament should make it their duty to
decide upon the point at issue. When sentence had to be pronounced upon
John Chastel, President de Thou took the opportunity of saying, "When I
lately gave my opinion in the matter of the University and the Jesuits, I
never hoped, at my age and with my infirmities, that I should live long
enough to take part in the judgment we are about to pass to-day. It was
that which led me, in the indignation caused me by the course at that
time adopted, to lay down an opinion to which I to-day recur with much
joy. God be praised for having brought about an occasion whereon we have
nothing to do but felicitate ourselves for that the enterprise which our
foes did meditate against the state and the life of the king hath been
without success, and which proves clearly at the same time how much the
then opinion of certain honest men was wiser than that of persons who,
from a miserable policy, were in favor of deferment!" The court,
animated by the same sentiments as President do Thou, "declared the
maxims maintained in the Jesuits' name to be rash, seditious, contrary to
the word of God, savoring of heresy and condemned by the holy canons; it
expressly forbade them to be taught publicly or privately, on pain, in
case of contraveners, of being treated as guilty of treason against God
and man. It decreed, further, that the priests of the college in Rue St.
Jacques, their pupils, and, generally, all members of that society,
should leave Paris and all the towns in which they had colleges three
days after this decree had been made known to them, and the kingdom
within a fortnight, as corrupters of youth, disturbers of the public
peace, and enemies of the king and of the state. In default of obedience
on their part, their property, real and personal, should be confiscated
and employed for pious purposes. The court, besides, prohibited all
subjects of the king from sending their children as students to any
Jesuits out of the kingdom, on pain of being declared enemies of the
state." This decree was issued on the 29th of December, 1594. And as if
to leave no doubt about the sense and bearing of this legislation, it was
immediately applied in the case of a Jesuit father, John Guignard, a
native of Chartres; his papers were examined, and there were found in his
handwriting many propositions and provocatives of sedition, such as,
"That a great mistake had been made at the St. Bartholomew in not having
opened the basilic vein, that is, in not having murdered Henry IV. and
the Prince of Conde, who were of the blood royal; 2. That the crown
might have been, and ought to have been, transferred to a family other
than that of the Bourbons; 3. That the Bearnese, in spite of his
pretended conversion, ought to consider himself only too lucky if it were
considered sufficient to shave his head and shut him up in a convent to
do penance there; that if the crown could not betaken from him without
war, then war must be made on him; and that if the state of things did
not admit of making war on him, he ought to be got rid of at any price
and in any way whatsoever." For having, not published, but thought and
with his own hand written out all this, and probably taught it to his
pupils, Father Guignard was obliged to retract, and was afterwards hanged
in the Place de Greve on the 7th of January, 1595.

The task of honest men and of right minds is greater and more difficult
in our day than it was in the sixteenth century, for we have to reconcile
the laws and the requirements of moral and social order with far broader
principles and sentiments, as regards right and liberty, than were those
of President Augustin de Thou and the worthy functionaries of his time.

It was one of Henry IV.'s conspicuous qualities that no event, auspicious
or inauspicious, affected the correctness of his judgment, and that he
was just as much a stranger to illusion or intoxication in the hour of
good fortune as to discouragement in the hour of ill. He had sense
enough to see, in any case, things as they really were, and to estimate
at the proper value the strength they brought or the obstacles they
formed to his government. He saw at a glance all the importance there
was for him in the submission of Paris, and what change in his conduct
was required by that in his position. Certain local successes of the
Spaniards at some points in his kingdom, the efforts of Mayenne to
resuscitate the dying League, and John Chastel's attempt at assassination
did not for a moment interfere with his confidence in his progress, or
cause him to hesitate as to the new bearing he had to assume. He wrote
on the 17th of December, 1594, to the estates of Artois and Hainault,
"I have hitherto lacked neither the courage nor the power to repel the
insults offered me, and to send recoiling upon the head of the King of
Spain and his subjects the evils of which he was the author. But just as
were the grounds I had for declaring war against him, motives more
powerful and concerning the interests of all Christendom restrained me.
At the present time, when the principal leaders of the factious have
returned to their duty and submitted to my laws, Philip still continues
his intrigues to foster troubles in the very heart of my kingdom. After
maturely reflecting, I have decided that it is time for me to act.
Nevertheless, as I cannot forget the friendship my ancestors always felt
for your country, I could not but see with pain that, though you have
taken no share in Philip's acts of injustice, on you will fall the first
blows of a war so terrible, and I thought it my duty to warn you of my
purpose before I proceed to execute it. If you can prevail upon the King
of Spain to withdraw the army which he is having levied on the frontier,
and to give no protection for the future to rebels of my kingdom, I will
not declare war against him, provided that I have certain proof of your
good intentions, and that you give me reasonable securities for them
before the 1st of January in the approaching year." [_Lettres missives
de Henri IV,_ p. 280--De Thou, _Histoire universelle,_ t. xii. pp. 328-

These letters, conveyed to Arras by one of the king's trumpeters,
received no answer. The estates of Flanders, in assembly at Brussels,
somewhat more bold than those of Artois and Hainault, in vain represented
to their Spanish governor their plaints and their desires for peace; for
two months Henry IV. heard not a word on the subject. Philip II.
persisted in his active hostility, and continued to give the King of
France no title but that of Prince of Bearn. On the 17th of January,
1595, Henry, in performance of what he had proclaimed, formally declared
war against the King of Spain, forbade his subjects to have any com merce
with him or his allies, and ordered them to make war on him for the
future just as he persisted in making it on France. This able and worthy
resolve was not approved of by Rosny, by this time the foremost of
Henry's IV.'s councillors, although he had not yet risen in the
government, or, probably, in the king's private confidence, to the
superior rank that he did attain by the eminence of his services and the
courageous sincerity of his devotion. In his _OEconomies royales_ it is
to interested influence, on the part of England and Holland, that he
attributes this declaration of war against Philip II., "into which," he
says, "the king allowed himself to be hurried against his own feelings."
It was assuredly in accordance with his own feelings and of his own free
will that Henry acted in this important decision; he had a political
order of mind greater, more inventive, and more sagacious than Rosny's
administrative order of mind, strong common sense and painstaking
financial abilities. To spontaneously declare war against Philip after
the capitulation of Paris and the conquest of three quarters of France
was to proclaim that the League was at death's door, that there was no
longer any civil war in France, and that her king had no more now than
foreign war to occupy him. To make alliance, in view of that foreign
war, with the Protestant sovereigns of England, Holland, and Germany,
against the exclusive and absolutist patron of Catholicism, was on the
part of a king but lately Protestant, and now become resolutely Catholic,
to separate openly politics from religion, and to subserve the temporal
interests of the realm of France whilst putting himself into the hands of
the spiritual head of the church as regarded matters of faith. Henry
IV., moreover, discovered another advantage in this line of conduct; it
rendered possible and natural the important act for which he was even
then preparing, and which will be spoken of directly, the edict of Nantes
in favor of the Protestants, which was the charter of religious tolerance
and the securities for it, pending the advent of religious liberty and
its rights, that fundamental principle, at this day, of moral and social
order in France. Such were Henry IV.'s grand and premonitory instincts
when, on the 17th of January, 1595, he officially declared against Philip
II. that war which Philip had not for a moment ceased to make on him.

The conflict thus solemnly begun between France and Spain lasted three
years and three months, from the 17th of January, 1595, to the 1st of
May, 1598, from Henry IV.'s declaration of war to the peace of Vervins,
which preceded by only four months and thirteen days the death of Philip
II. and the end of the preponderance of Spain in Europe. It is not worth
while to follow step by step the course of this monotonous conflict,
pregnant with facts which had their importance for contemporaries, but
are not worthy of an historical resurrection. Notice will be drawn only
to those incidents in which the history of France is concerned, and which
give a good idea of Henry IV.'s character, the effectiveness of his
government, and the rapid growth of his greatness in Europe, contrasted
with his rival's slow decay.

Four months and a half after the declaration of war, and during the
campaign begun in Burgundy between the French and the Spaniards, on the
5th of June, 1595, near Fontaine-Francaise, a large burgh a few leagues
from Dijon, there took place an encounter which, without ending in a
general battle, was an important event, and caused so much sensation that
it brought about political results more important than the immediate
cause of them. Henry IV. made up his mind to go and reconnoitre in
person the approaches of Dijon, towards which the enemy were marching.
He advanced, with about a hundred and fifty men-at-arms and as many
mounted arquebusiers, close up to the burgh of Saint-Seine; from there he
sent the Marquis of Mirebeau with fifty or sixty horse to "go," says
Sully, "and take stock of the enemy;" and he put himself on the track of
his lieutenant, marching as a simple captain of light-horse, with the
purpose of becoming better acquainted with the set of the country, so as
to turn it to advantage if the armies had to encounter. But he had not
gone more than a league when he saw Mirebeau returning at more than a
foot-pace and in some disorder; who informed him "that he had been
suddenly charged by as many as three or four hundred horse, who did not
give him leisure to extend his view as he could have desired, and that he
believed that the whole army of the Constable of Castille was marching in
a body to come and quarter themselves in the burgh of Saint-Seine."
Marshal de Biron, who joined the king at this moment, offered to go and
look at the enemy, and bring back news that could be depended upon; but
scarcely had he gone a thousand paces when he descried, on the top of a
little valley, some sixty horse halted there as if they were on guard; he
charged them, toppled them over, and taking their ground, discovered the
whole Spanish army marching in order of battle and driving before them a
hundred of the king's horse, who were flying in disorder. Biron halted
and showed a firm front to the enemy's approach; but he was himself hard
pressed at many points, and was charged with such impetuosity that he was
obliged to begin a retreat which changed before long to a sort of flight,
with a few sword-cuts about the ears. Thus he arrived within sight of
the king, who immediately detached a hundred horse to support Biron and
stop the fugitives; but the little re-enforcement met with the same fate
as those it went to support; it was overthrown and driven pell-mell right
up to the king, who suddenly found himself with seven or eight hundred
horse on his hands, without counting the enemy's main army, which could
already be discerned in the distance. Far from being dumbfounded, the
king, "borrowing," says Sully, "increase of judgment and courage from the
greatness of the peril," called all his men about him, formed them into
two squadrons of a hundred and fifty men each, gave one to M. de la
Tremoille with orders to go and charge the Spanish cavalry on one flank,
put himself at the head of the other squadron, and the two charges of the
French were "so furious and so determined," says Sully, the king mingling
in the thickest of the fight and setting an example to the boldest, "that
the Spanish squadrons in dismay tumbled one over another, and retired
half-routed to the main body of Mayenne's army; who, seeing a dash made
to the king's assistance by some of his bravest officers with seven or
eight hundred horse, thought all the royal army was there, and, fearing
to attack those gentry of whose determination he had just made proof, he
himself gave his troops the order to retreat, Henry going on in pursuit
until he had forced them to recross the Sane below Gray, leaving Burgundy
at his discretion."

A mere abridgment has been given of the story relating to this brilliant
affair as it appears in the (_OEconomies Royales_ of Sully [t. ii.
pp. 377-387], who was present and hotly engaged in the fight. We will
quote word for word, however, the account of Henry IV. himself, who sent
a report four days afterwards to his sister Catherine and to the
Constable Anne de Montmorency. To the latter he wrote on the 8th of
June, 1595, from Dijon, "I was informed that the Constable of Castile,
accompanied by the Duke of Mayenne, was crossing the River Sane with his
army to come and succor the castle of this town. I took horse the day
after, attended by my cousin Marshal de Biron and from seven to eight
hundred horse, to go and observe his plans on the spot. Whence it
happened that, intending to take the same quarters without having any
certain advices about one another, we met sooner than we had hoped, and
so closely that my cousin the marshal, who led the first troop, was
obliged to charge those who had advanced, and I to support him. But our
disadvantage was, that all our troops had not yet arrived and joined me,
for I had but from two to three hundred horse, whereas the enemy had all
his cavalry on the spot, making over a thousand or twelve hundred drawn
up by squadrons and in order of battle. However, my said cousin did not
haggle about them; and, seeing that they were worsting him, because the
game was too uneven, I determined to make one in it, and joined in it to
such a purpose and with such luck, thank God, together with the following
I had, that we put them to the rout. But I can assure you that it was
not at the first charge, for we made several; and if the rest of my
forces had been with me, I should no doubt have defeated all their
cavalry, and perhaps their foot who were in order of battle behind the
others, having at their head the said Constable of Castile. But our
forces were so unequal that I could do no more than put to flight those
who would not do battle, after having cut in pieces the rest, as we had
done; wherein I can tell you, my dear cousin, that my said cousin Marshal
de Biron and I did some good handiwork. He was wounded in the head by a
blow from a cutlass in the second charge, for he and I had nothing on but
our cuirasses, not having had time to arm ourselves further, so surprised
and hurried were we. However, my said cousin did not fail, after his
wound, to return again to the charge three or four times, as I too did on
my side. Finally we did so well that the field and their dead were left
to us to the number of a hundred or six score, and as many prisoners of
all ranks. Whereat the said Constable of Castile took such alarm that he
at once recrossed the Sane; and I have been told that it was not without
reproaching the Duke of Mayenne with having deceived him in not telling
him of my arrival in this country."

The day before, June 7, Henry had written to his sister Catherine de
Bourbon, "My dear sister, the more I go on, the more do I wonder at the
grace shown me by God in the fight of last Monday, wherein I thought to
have defeated but twelve hundred horse; but they must be set down at two
thousand. The Constable of Castile was there in person with the Duke of
Mayenne; and they both of them saw me and recognized me quite well; they
sent to demand of me a whole lot of Italian and Spanish captains of
theirs, the which were not prisoners. They must be amongst the dead who
have been buried, for I requested next day that they should be. Many of
our young noblemen, seeing me with them everywhere, were full of fire in
this engagement, and showed a great deal of courage; amongst whom I came
across Gramont, Termes, Boissy, La Curse, and the Marquis of Mirebeau,
who, as luck would have it, found themselves at it without any armor but
their neck-pieces and _gaillardets_ (front and back plates), and did
marvels. There were others who did not do so well, and many who did very
ill. Those who were not there ought to be sorry for it, seeing that I
had need of all my good friends, and I saw you very near becoming my
heiress." [_Lettres missives de Henri IV.,_ t. iv. pp. 363-369; in the
_Collection des Documents inedits sur l'Histoire de France_.]

This fight, so unpremeditated, at Fontaine-Francaise, and the presence of
mind, steady quicksightedness, and brilliant dash of Henry IV., led off
this long war gloriously. Its details were narrated and sought after
minutely; people were especially struck with the sympathetic attention
that in the very midst of the strife the king bestowed upon all his
companions in arms, either to give them directions or to warn them of
danger. "At the hottest of the fight," says the contemporary historian
Peter Matthieu, "Henry, seizing Mirebeau by the arm, said, 'Charge
yonder!' which he did: and that troop began to thin off and disappear."
A moment afterwards, seeing one of the enemy's men-at-arms darting down
upon the French, Henry concluded that the attack was intended for
Gilbert, de la Cure, a brave and pious Catholic lord, whom he called
familiarly _Monsieur le Cure,_ and shouted to him from afar, "Look out,
La Curee!" which warned him and saved his life. The roughest warriors
were touched by this fraternal solicitude of the king's, and clung to him
with passionate devotion.

It was at Rome, and in the case of an ecclesiastical question that Henry
IV.'s steady policy, his fame for ability as well as valor, and the
glorious affair of Fontaine-Francaise bore their first fruits. Mention
has already been made of the formal refusal the king had met with from
Pope Clement VIII. in January, 1594, when he had demanded of him, by the
embassy extraordinary of the Duke of Nevers, confirmation of the
absolution granted him by the French bishops after his conversation at
St. Denis and his anointment at Chartres. The pope, in spite of his
refusal, had indirectly given the royal agents to understand that they
were not to be discouraged; and the ablest of them, Arnold d'Ossat, had
remained at Rome to conduct this delicate and dark commission. When
Clement VIII. saw Henry IV.'s government growing stronger and more
extensive day by day, Paris returned to his power, the League beaten and
the Gallican church upheld in its maxims by the French magistracy, fear
of schism grew serious at Rome, and the pope had a hint given by Cardinal
de Gondi to Henry that, if he were to send fresh ambassadors, they might
be favorably listened to. Arnold d'Ossat had acquired veritable weight
at the court of Rome, and had paved the way with a great deal of art
towards turning to advantage any favorable chances that might offer
themselves. Villeroi, having broken with the League, had become Henry
IV.'s minister of foreign affairs, and obtained some confidence at Rome
in return for the good will he testified towards the papacy. By his
councillor's advice, no doubt, the king made no official stir, sent no
brilliant embassy; D'Ossat quietly resumed negotiations, and alone
conducted them from the end of 1594 to the spring of 1595; and when a new
envoy was chosen to bring them to a conclusion, it was not a great lord,
but a learned ecclesiastic, Abbot James du Perron, whose ability and
devotion Henry IV. had already, at the time of his conversion,
experienced, and whom he had lately appointed Bishop of Evreux. Even
when Du Perron had been fixed upon to go to Rome and ask for the
absolution which Clement VIII. had seven or eight months before refused,
he was in no hurry to repair thither, and D'Ossat's letters make it
appear that he was expected there with some impatience. He arrived there
on the 12th of July, 1595, and, in concert with D'Ossat, he presented to
the pope the request of the king, who solicited the papal benediction,
absolution from any censure, and complete reconciliation with the Roman
church. Clement VIII., on the 2d of August, assembled his consistory,
whither went all the cardinals, save two partisans of Spain who excused
themselves on the score of health. Parleys took place as to the form of
the decree which must precede the absolution. The pope would have liked
very much to insert two clauses, one revoking as null and void the
absolution already given to the king by the French bishops at the time of
his conversion, and the other causing the absolution granted by the pope
to be at the same time considered as re-establishing Henry IV. in his
rights to the crown, whereof it was contended that he was deprived by the
excommunication and censures of Sixtus V. and Gregory XIV., which this
absolution was to remove. The two French negotiators rejected these
attempts, and steadily maintained the complete independence of the king's
temporal sovereignty, as well as the power of intervention of the French
episcopate in his absolution. Clement VIII. was a judicious and prudent
pope; and he did not persist. The absolution was solemnly pronounced on
the 17th of September, 1595, by the pope himself, from a balcony erected
in St. Peter's Square, and in presence of the population. The gates of
the church were thrown open and a Te Deum was sung. A grand ceremony
took place immediately afterwards in the church of St. Louis of the
French. Rome was illuminated for three days, and, on the 7th of November
following, a pope's messenger left for Paris with the bull of absolution
drawn up in the terms agreed upon.

Another reconciliation, of less solemnity, but of great importance, that
between the Duke of Mayenne and Henry IV., took place a week after the
absolution pronounced by the pope. As soon as the civil war, continued
by the remnants of the dying League, was no more than a disgraceful
auxiliary to the foreign war between France and Spain, Mayenne was in his
soul both grieved and disgusted at it. The affair of Fontaine-Francaise
gave him an opportunity of bringing matters to a crisis; he next day
broke with the Constable of Castile, Don Ferdinand de Velasco, who
declined to follow his advice, and at once entered into secret
negotiations with the king. Henry wrote from Lyons to Du Plessis-Mornay,
on the 24th of August, 1595, "The Duke of Mayenne has asked me to allow
him three months for the purpose of informing the enemy of his
determination in order to induce them to join him in recognizing me and
serving me. So doing, he has also agreed to bind himself from this
present date to recognize me and serve me, whatever his friends may do."
On the 23d of September following, Henry IV., still at Lyons, sent to M.
de la Chatre:--

"I forward you the articles of a general truce which I have granted to
the Duke of Mayenne at his pressing instance, and on the assurance he has
given me that he will get it accepted and observed by all those who are
still making war within my kingdom, in his name or that of the League."
This truce was, in point of fact, concluded by a preliminary treaty
signed at Chalons, and by virtue of which Mayenne ordered his lieutenants
to give up to the king the citadel of Dijon. The negotiations continued,
and, in January, 1596, a royal edict, signed at Folembray, near Laon,
regulated, in thirty-one articles and some secret articles, the
conditions of peace between the king and Mayenne. The king granted him,
himself and his partisans, full and complete amnesty for the past,
besides three surety-places for six years, and divers sums, which, may be
for payment of his debts, and may be for his future provision, amounted
to three million five hundred and eighty thousand livres at that time
(twelve million eight hundred and eighty-eight thousand francs of the
present day). The Parliament of Paris considered these terms exorbitant,
and did not consent to enregister the edict until April 9, 1596, after
three letters jussory from the king. Henry IV. nobly expressed, in the
preamble of the edict, the motives of policy that led to his generous
arrangements; after alluding to his late reconciliation with the pope,
"Our work," he said, "would have been imperfect, and peace incomplete, if
our most dear and most beloved cousin, the Duke of Mayenne, chief of his
party, had not followed the same road, as he resolved to do so soon as he
saw that our holy father had approved of our reunion. This hath made us
to perceive better than heretofore the aim of his actions, to accept and
take in good part all that he hath exhibited against us of the zeal he
felt for religion, and to commend the anxiety he hath displayed to
preserve the kingdom in, its entirety, whereof he caused not and suffered
not the dismemberment when the prosperity of his affairs seemed to give
him some means of it; the which he was none the more inclined to do when
he became weakened, but preferred to throw himself into our arms rather
than betake himself to other remedies, which might have caused the war to
last a long while yet, to the great damage of our people. This it is
which hath made us desire to recognize his good intent, to love him and
treat him for the future as our good relative and faithful subject."
[_Memoires de la Ligue,_ t. vi. p. 349.]

[Illustration: The Castle of Monceaux----91]

To a profound and just appreciation of men's conduct Henry IV. knew how
to add a winning grace and the surprising charm of a familiar manner.
After having signed the edict of Folembray, he had gone to rest a while
at Monceaux. Mayenne went to visit him there on the 31st of January,
1596. There is nothing to be added to or taken from the account given by
Sully of their interview. "The king, stepping forward to meet Mayenne,
embraced him thrice, assuring him that he was welcome, and that he
embraced him as cordially as if there had never been anything between
them. M. de Mayenne put one knee on the ground, embraced the king's
thigh, and assured him that he was his very humble servant and subject,
saying that he considered himself greatly bounden to him, as well for
having with so much, of gentleness, kindness, and special largesses
restored him to his duty, as for having delivered him from Spanish
arrogance and Italian crafts and wiles. Then the king, having raised him
up and embraced him once more, told him that he had no doubt at all of
his honor and word, for a man of worth and of good courage held nothing
so dear as the observance thereof. Thereupon he took him by the hand and
began to walk him about at a very great pace, showing him the alleys and
telling all his plans and the beauties and conveniences of this mansion.
M. de Mayenne, who was incommoded by a sciatica, followed as best he
could, but some way behind, dragging his limbs after him very heavily.
Which the king observing, and that he was mighty red, heated, and was
puffing with thickness of breath, he turned to Rosny, whom he held, with
the other hand, and said in his ear, 'If I walk this fat carcass here
about much longer, then am I avenged without much difficulty for all the
evils he hath done us, for he is a dead man.' And thereupon pulling up,
the king said to him, 'Tell the truth, cousin, I go a little too fast for
you; and I have worked you too hard.' 'By my faith, sir,' said M. de
Mayenne, slapping his hand upon his stomach, 'it is true; I swear to you
that I am so tired and out of breath that I can no more. If you had
continued walking me about so fast, for honor and courtesy did not permit
me to say to you, "Hold! enough!" and still less to leave you, I believe
that you would have killed me without a thought of it.' Then the king
embraced him, clapped him on the shoulder, and said with a laughing face,
open glance, and holding out his hand, 'Come, take that, cousin, for, by
God, this is all the injury and displeasure you shall ever have from me;
of that I give you my honor and word with all my heart, the which I never
did and never will violate.' 'By God, sir,' answered M. de Mayenne,
kissing the king's hand and doing what he could to put one knee upon the
ground, 'I believe it and all other generous things that may be expected
from the best and bravest prince of our age. And you said it, too, in so
frank a spirit and with so kindly a grace that my feelings and my
obligations are half as deep again. However, I swear to you over again,
sir, by the living God, on my faith, my honor, and my salvation, that I
will be to you, all my life long, loyal subject and faithful servant; I
will never fail you nor desert you; I will have while I live no desires
or designs of importance which are not suggested by your Majesty himself;
nor will I ever be cognizant of them in the case of others, though they
were my own children, without expressly opposing them and giving you
notice of them at once.' 'There, there, cousin,' rejoined the kinm, 'I
quite believe it; and that you may be able to love me and serve me long,
go rest you, refresh you, and drink a draught at the castle. I have in
my cellars some Arbois wine, of which I will send you two bottles, for
well I know that you do not dislike it. And here is Rosny, whom I will
lend you to accompany you, to do the honors of the house and to conduct
you to your chamber: he is one of my oldest servants, and one of those
who have been most rejoiced to see that you would love me and serve me
cordially.'" [(OEconomies royales, t. iii. pp. 7-10.]

Mayenne was as good as his word. After the edict of Folembray, he lived
fourteen years at the court of Henry IV., whom he survived only about
sixteen months [for he died on the 4th of October, 1611, and Henry IV.
was assassinated by Ravaillac on the 13th of May, 1610], and during all
that time he was loyal and faithful to him, never giving him any but good
counsels and sometimes rendering him useful services. A rare example of
a party-chief completely awakened and tamed by experience: it made him
disgusted with fanaticism, faction, civil war, and complicity with the
foreigner. He was the least brilliant but the most sensible, the most
honest, and the most French of the Guises. Henry IV., when seriously ill
at Fontainebleau in 1608, recommended him to Queen Mary de' Medici as one
of the men whom it was most important to call to the councils of state;
and, at the approach of death, Mayenne, weary and weak in the lap of
repose, could conscientiously address those who were around him in such
grand and Christian language as this: "It is no new thing to know that I
must die; for twelve years past my lingering and painful life has been
for the most part an apprenticeship thereto. My sufferings have so
dulled the sting of death that I rather count upon it than dread it;
happy to have had so long a delay to teach me to make a good end, and to
rid me of the things which formerly kept me from that knowledge. Happy
to meet my end amongst mine own people and to terminate by a peaceful
death the sufferings and miseries of my life. I formerly sought death
amidst arms; but I am better pleased, for my soul's salvation, to meet it
and embrace it on my bed than if I had encountered it in battle, for the
sake of the glory of the world."

Let, us return to Henry IV. Since his declaration of war against Philip
II. he had gained much ground. He had fought gloriously, in his own
person, and beaten the Spaniards at Fontaine-Francaise. He had obtained
from Pope Clement VIII. the complete and solemn absolution which had been
refused to him the year before. Mayenne had submitted to him, and that
submission had been death to the League. Some military reverses were
intermingled with these political successes. Between the 25th of June,
1595, and the 10th of March, 1597, the Spanish armies took, in Picardy
and Artois, Le Catelet, Doullens, Cambrai, Ardres, Ham, Guines and two
towns of more importance, Calais, still the object of English ambition
and of offers on the part of Queen Elizabeth to any one who could hand it
over to her, and Amiens, one of the keys to France on the frontier of the
north. These checks were not without compensation. Henry invested and
took the strong place of La Fere; and he retook Amiens after a six
months' struggle. A Spanish plot for getting possession of Marseilles
failed; the young Duke of Guise, whom Henry had made governor of
Provence, entered the city amidst shouts of Hurrah for the king!
"Now I am king!" cried Henry, on receiving the news, so generally was
Marseilles even then regarded as the queen of the Mediterranean. The
Duke of Epernon, who had attempted to make of Provence an independent
principality for himself, was obliged to leave it and treat with the
king, ever ready to grant easy terms to those who could give up to him or
sell him any portion of his kingdom. France was thus being rapidly
reconstituted. "Since the month of January, 1596, Burgundy, parts of
Forez, Auvergne, and Velay, the whole of Provence, half Languedoc, and
the last town of Poitou had been brought back to their allegiance to the
king. French territory and national unity had nothing more to wait for,
to complete their re-establishment, than a portion of Brittany and four
towns of Picardy still occupied by the Spaniards." [Poirson, _Histoire
du Regne de Henri IV., t. ii. p. 159.]

But these results were only obtained at enormous expense and by means of
pecuniary sacrifices, loans, imposts, obligations of every sort, which
left the king in inextricable embarrassment, and France in a condition of
exhaustion still further aggravated by the deplorable administration of
the public finances. On the 15th of April, 1596, Henry IV. wrote from
Amiens to Rosny, "My friend, you know as well as any of my servants what
troubles, labors, and fatigues I have had to go through to secure my life
and my dignity against so many sorts of enemies and perils. Nevertheless
I swear to you that all these traverses have not caused me so much
affliction and bitterness of spirit as the sorrow and annoyance I now
feel at finding thyself in continual controversies with those most in
authority of my servants, officers, and councillors of state, when I
would fain set about restoring this kingdom to its highest splendor, and
relieving my poor people, whom I love as my dear children (God having at
present granted me no others), from so many talliages, subsidies,
vexations, and oppressions whereof they daily make complaints to me.
. . . Having written to them who are of my council of finance how that
I had a design of extreme importance in hand for which I had need of a
fund of eight hundred thousand crowns, and therefore I begged and
conjured them, by their loyalty and sincere affection towards me and
France, to labor diligently for the certain raising of that sum, all
their answers, after several delays, excuses, and reasons whereof one
destroyed another, had finally no other conclusion than representations
of difficulties and impossibilities. Nay, they feared not to send me
word that so far from being able to furnish me with so notable a sum,
they found great trouble in raising the funds to keep my household going.
. . . I am resolved to know truly whether the necessities which are
overwhelming me proceed from the malice, bad management, or ignorance of
those whom I employ, or, good sooth, from the diminution of my revenues
and the poverty of my people. And to that end, I mean to convoke the
three orders of my kingdom, for to have of them some advice and aid, and
meanwhile to establish among those people some loyal servant of mine,
whom I will put in authority little by little, in order that he may
inform me of what passes in my council, and enlighten me as to that which
I desire to know. I have, as I have already told you, cast my eyes upon
you to serve me in this commission, not doubting at all that I shall
receive contentment and advantage from your administration. And I wish
to tell you the state to which I am reduced, which is such that I am very
near the enemy, and have not, as you may say, a horse to fight on or a
whole suit of harness to my back. My shirts are all torn, my doublets
out at elbows; my cupboard is often bare, and for the last two days I
have been dining and supping with one and another; my purveyors say they
have no more means of supplying my table, especially as for more than six
months they have had no money. Judge whether I deserve to be so treated,
and fail not to come. I have on my mind, besides, two or three other
matters of consequence on which I wish to employ you the moment you
arrive. Do not speak of all this to anybody whatsoever, not even to your
wife. Adieu, my friend, whom well I love."

Henry IV. accomplished all that, when he wrote to Rosny, he had showed
himself resolved to undertake. External circumstances became favorable
to him. Since his conversion to Catholicism, England and her queen,
Elizabeth, had been colder in the cause of the French alliance. When,
after his declaration of war against Philip II., Henry demanded in London
the support on which he had believed that he might rely, Elizabeth
answered by demanding in her turn the cession of Calais as the price of
her services. Quite determined not to give up Calais to England, Henry,
without complaining of the demand, let the negotiation drag, confining
himself to saying that he was looking for friends, not for masters. When
in April, 1596, it was known in London that Calais had been taken by the
Spaniards, Elizabeth sent word to Henry, then at Boulogne, that she would
send him prompt assistance if he promised, when Calais was recovered from
the Spaniards, to place it in the hands of the English. "If I must be
despoiled," answered Henry, "I would rather it should be by my enemies
than by my friends. In the former case it will be a reverse of fortune,
in the latter I might be accused of poltroonery." Elizabeth assured the
French ambassador, Harlay de Sancy, "that it had never been her intention
to keep Calais, but simply to take care that, in any case, this important
place should not remain in the hands of the common enemy whilst the king
was engaged in other enterprises; anyhow," she added, "she had ordered
the Earl of Essex, admiral of the English fleet raised against Spain, to
arm promptly in order to go to the king's assistance." There was anxiety
at that time in England about the immense preparations being made by
Philip for the invasion he proposed to attempt against England, and for
the putting to sea of his fleet, the Grand Armada. In conversation with
the high treasurer, Lord Burleigh, Elizabeth's chief minister, Sancy
found him even colder than his queen; Burleigh laid great stress upon all
that the queen had already done for France, and on the one million five
hundred thousand gold crowns she had lent to the king. "It would be more
becoming," he said, "in the king's envoys to thank the queen for the aid
she had already furnished than to ask for more; by dint of drawing water
the well had gone dry; the queen could offer the king only three thousand
men, on condition that they were raised at his own expense." "If the
king," replied Sancy, "must expect neither alliance nor effectual aid on
your part, he will be much obliged to the queen to let him know what
course she takes, because he, on his side, will take that which will be
most expedient for his affairs." Some of the king's councillors regarded
it as possible that he should make peace with the King of Spain, and did
not refrain from letting as much be understood. Negotiations in London
seemed to be broken off; the French ambassadors had taken leave of
Elizabeth. The news that came from Spain altered the tone of the English
government; threats of Spanish invasion became day by day more distinct
and the Grand Armada more dreaded. Elizabeth sent word to the
ambassadors of France by some of her confidants, amongst others Sir
Robert Cecil, son of the high treasurer, that she was willing to give
them a last audience before their departure. The result of this audience
was the conclusion of a treaty of alliance offensive and defensive
between France and England against the King of Spain, with a mutual
promise not to make, one without the other, either peace or truce, with
precise stipulations as to the number and pay of the troops which the
Queen of England should put in the field for the service of the King of
France, and, further, with a proviso establishing freedom of trade
between the two states. The treaty was drawn up in London on the 24th of
May, 1596, ratified at Rouen by Henry IV. on the 19th of October
following, and on the 31st of October the States-General of Holland
acceded to it, whilst regulating, accordingly, the extent of their

Easy as to the part to be played by his allies in the war with Spain,
Henry IV. set to work upon the internal reforms and measures of which he
strongly felt the necessity. They were of two kinds; one administrative
and financial, the other political and religious; he wished at one and
the same time to consolidate the material forces of his government and to
give his Protestant subjects, lately his own brethren, the legal liberty
and security which they needed for their creed's sake, and to which they
had a right.

He began, about the middle of October, 1596, by bringing Rosny into the
council of finance, saying to him, "You promise me, you know, to be a
good manager, and that you and I shall lop arms and legs from _Madame
Grivelee,_ as you have so often told me could be done." _Madame Grivelee
(Mrs. Pickings)_ was, in the language of the day, she who presided over
illicit gains made in the administration of the public finances. Rosny
at once undertook to accomplish that which he had promised the king. He
made, in person, a minute examination of four receiver-generals' offices,
in order, with that to guide him, to get a correct idea of the amount
derived from imposts and the royal revenues, and of what became of this
amount in its passage from collection to employment for the defrayal of
the expenses of the state. "When he went on his inspection, the
treasurers of France, receivers, accountants, comptrollers, either
absented themselves or refused to produce him any register; he suspended
some, frightened others, surmounted the obstacles of every kind that were
put in his way, and he proved, from the principal items of receipt and
expenditure at these four general offices, so much and such fraudulence
that he collected five hundred thousand crowns (one million five hundred
thousand livres of those times, and about five million four hundred and
ninety thousand francs of the present date), had these sums placed in
seventy carts, and drove them to Rouen, where the king was and where the
Assembly of Notables had just met."

It was not the states-general properly so called that Henry IV. had
convoked; he had considered that his authority was still too feebly
constituted, and even too much disputed in a portion of the kingdom, to
allow him to put it to such a test; and honest and sensible patriots had
been of the same opinion D'Aubigne himself, the most independent and
fault-finding spirit amongst his contemporaries, expressly says, "The
troubles which were not yet extinguished in France did not admit of a
larger convocation; the hearts of the people were not yet subdued and
kneaded to obedience, as appeared from the excitement which supervened."
[_Histoire universelle,_ t. iii. p. 526.] Besides, Henry himself
acknowledged, in the circular which he published on the 25th of July,
1596, at this juncture, the superior agency of the states-general.
"We would gladly have brought them together in full assembly," he said,
"if the armed efforts of our enemies allowed of any longer delay in
finding a remedy for the plague which is racking us so violently; our
intent is, pending the coming of the said states, to put a stop to all
these disorders in the best and quickest way possible." "The king,
moreover," says Sully, "had no idea of imitating the kings his
predecessors in predilection for, and appointment of, certain deputies
for whom he had a particular fancy; but he referred the nomination
thereof to them of the church, of the noblesse, and of the people; and
when they were assembled, he prescribed to them no rules, forms, or
limits, but left them complete freedom of their opinions, utterances,
suffrages, and deliberations." [OEconomies royales, t. iii. p. 29.]
The notables met at Rouen to the number of eighty, nine of the clergy,
nineteen of the noblesse, fifty-two of the third estate. The king opened
the assembly on the 4th of November, 1596, with these words, full of
dignity, and powerful in their vivid simplicity: "If I desired to win the
title of orator, I would have learned by rote some fine, long speech, and
would deliver it to you with proper gravity. But, gentlemen, my desire
prompts me towards two more glorious titles, the names of deliverer and
restorer of this kingdom. In order to attain whereto I have gathered you
together. You know to your cost, as I to mine, that when it pleased God
to call me to this crown, I found France not only all but ruined, but
almost entirely lost to Frenchmen. By the divine favor, by the prayers
and the good counsels of my servants who are not in the profession of
arms, by the sword of my brave and generous noblesse, from whom I single
out not the princes, upon the honor of a gentleman, as the holders of our
proudest title, and by my own pains and labors, I have preserved her from
perdition. Let us now preserve her from ruin. Share, my dear subjects,
in this second triumph as you did in the first. I have not summoned you,
like my predecessors, to get your approbation of their own wills. I have
had you assembled in order to receive your counsels, put faith in them,
follow them, in short, place myself under guardianship in your hands; a
desire but little congenial to kings, graybeards, and conquerors. But
the violent love I feel towards my subjects, and the extreme desire I
have to add those two proud titles to that of king, make everything easy
and honorable to me."

L'Estoile relates that the king's favorite, Gabrielle d'Estrees, was at
the session behind some tapestry, and that, Henry IV. having asked what
she thought of his speech, she answered, "I never heard better spoken;
only I was astonished that you spoke of placing yourself under
guardianship." "Ventre saint-gris," replied the king, "that is true; but
I mean with my sword by my side." [_Journal de Pierre l'Estoile,_
t. iii. p. 185.]

The assembly of notables sat from November 4, 1596, to January 29, 1597,
without introducing into the financial regimen any really effective
reforms; the rating board (_conseil de raison_), the institution of which
they had demanded of the king, in connection with the fixing of imposts
and employment of public revenues, was tried without success, and was not
long before, of its own accord, resigning its power into the king's
hands; but the mere convocation of this assembly was a striking instance
of the homage paid by Henry IV. to that fundamental maxim of free
government, which, as early as under Louis XI., Philip de Commynes
expressed in these terms: "There is no king or lord on earth who hath
power, over and above his own property, to put a single penny on his
subjects without grant and consent of those who have to pay, unless by
tyranny and violence." The ideas expressed and the counsels given by the
assembly of notables were not, however, without good effect upon the
general administration of the state; but the principal and most salutary
result of its presence and influence was the personal authority which
Sully drew from it, and of which he did not hesitate to make full use.
Having become superintendent-general of finance and grand master of the
ordnance, he exerted all his power to put in practice, as regarded the
financial department, a system of receipts and expenses, and as regarded
materials for the service of war, the reforms and maxims of economy,
accountability, and supervision, which were suggested to him by his great
good sense, and in which Henry IV. supported him with the spirit of one
who well appreciated the strength they conferred upon his government,
civil and military.

His relations with the Protestants gave him embarrassments to surmount
and reforms to accomplish of quite a different sort, and more difficult
still. At his accession, their satisfaction had not been untinged by
disquietude; they foresaw the sacrifices the king would be obliged to
make to his new and powerful friends the Catholics. His conversion to
Catholicism threw into more or less open opposition the most zealous and
some of the ambitious members of his late church. It was not long before
their feelings burst forth in reproaches, alarms, and attacks. In 1597,
a pamphlet, entitled _The Plaints of the Reformed Churches of France_
[_Memoires de la Ligue,_ t. vi. pp. 428-486], was published and spread
prodigiously. "None can take it ill," said the anonymous author, "that
we who make profession of the Reformed religion should come forward to
get a hearing for our plaints touching so many deeds of outrage,
violence, and injustice which are daily done to us, and done not here or
there, but in all places of the realm; done at a time, under a reign in
which they seemed less likely, and which ought to have given us better
hopes. . . . We, sir, are neither Spaniards nor Leaguers; we have had
such happiness as to see you, almost born and cradled, at any rate
brought up, amongst us; we have employed our properties, our lives, in
order to prevent the effects of ill will on the part of those who, from
your cradle, sought your ruin; we have, with you and under your wise and
valiant leadership, made the chiefest efforts for the preservation of the
crown, which, thank God, is now upon your head. . . . We do beseech
you, sir, to give us permission to have the particulars of our grievances
heard both by your Majesty and all your French, for we do make plaint of
all the French. Not that in so great and populous a kingdom we should
imagine that there are not still to be found some whose hearts bleed to
see indignities so inhuman; but of what avail to us is all they may have
in them of what is good, humane, and French? A part of them are so soft,
so timorous, that they would not so much as dare to show a symptom of not
liking that which displeases them; and if, when they see us so
maltreated, they do summon up sufficient boldness to look another way,
and think that they have done but their duty, still do they tremble with
fear of being taken for favorers of heretics."

The writer then enters upon an exposition of all the persecutions, all
the acts of injustice, all the evils of every kind that the reformers
have to suffer. He lays the blame of them, as he has just said, upon the
whole French community, the noblesse, the commons, the magistracy, as
well as the Catholic priests and monks; he enumerates a multitude of
special facts in support of his plaints. "Good God!" he cries, "that
there should be no class, no estate in France, from which we can hope for
any relief! None from which we may not fear lest ruin come upon us!"
And he ends by saying, "Stem, then, sir, with your good will and your
authority, the tide of our troubles. Direct your counsels towards giving
us some security. Accustom your kingdom to at least endure us, if it
will not love us. We demand of your Majesty an edict which may give us
enjoyment of that which is common to all your subjects, that is to say,
of far less than you have granted to your enemies, your rebels of the

We will not stop to inquire whether the matters stated in these plaints
are authentic or disputable, accurate or exaggerated; it is probable that
they contain a great deal of truth, and that, even under Henry IV., the
Protestants had many sufferings to endure and disregarded rights to
recover. The mistake they made and the injustice they showed consisted
in not taking into, account all the good that Henry IV. had done them and
was daily doing them, and in calling upon him, at a moment's notice, to
secure to them by an edict all the good that it was not in his power to
do them. We purpose just to give a brief summary of the ameliorations
introduced into their position under him, even before the edict of
Nantes, and to transfer the responsibility for all they still lacked to
the cause indicated by themselves in their plaints, when they take to
task all the French on the Catholic side, who, in the sixteenth century,
disregarded in France the rights of creed and of religious life, just as
the Protestants themselves disregarded them in England so far as the
Catholics were concerned.

One fact immediately deserves to be pointed out; and that is the number
and the practical character of meetings officially held at this period by
the Protestants: an indisputable proof of the liberty they enjoyed.
These meetings were of two sorts; one, the synods, were for the purpose
of regulating their faith, their worship, their purely religious affairs.
Between 1594 and 1609, under the sway of Henry IV., Catholic king, seven
national synods of the Protestant church in France held their sessions in
seven different towns, and discussed with perfect freedom such questions
of religious doctrine and discipline as were interesting to them. At the
same epoch, between 1593 and 1608, the French Protestants met at eleven
assemblies, specially summoned to deliberate, not in these cases upon
questions of faith and religious discipline, but upon their temporal and
political interests, upon their relations towards the state, and upon the
conduct they were to adopt under the circumstances of their times. The
principle to which minds, and even matters, to a certain extent, have now
attained, the deep-seated separation between the civil and the religious
life, and their mutual independence, this higher principle was unknown to
the sixteenth century; the believer and the citizen were then but one,
and the efforts of laws and governments were directed towards bringing
the whole nation entire into the same state of unity. And as they did
not succeed therein, their attempts produced strife instead of unity, war
instead of peace. When the French Protestants of the sixteenth century
met in the assemblies which they themselves called political, they acted
as one nation confronting another nation, and labored to form a state
within state. We will borrow from the intelligent and learned _Histoire
d'Henri IV.,_ by M. Poirson, (t. ii. pp. 497-500), a picture of one of
those assemblies and its work. "After the king's abjuration, and at the
end of the year 1593, the French Huguenots renewed at Mantes their old
union, and swore to live and die united in their profession of faith.
Henry was in hopes that they would stop short at a religious
demonstration; but they made it a starting-point for a new political and
military organization on behalf of the Calvinistic party. They took
advantage of a general permission granted them by Henry, and met, not in
synod, but in general assembly, at the town of Sainte Foy, in the month
of June, 1594. Thereupon they divided all France into nine great
provinces or circles, composed each of several governments or provinces
of the realm. Each circle had a separate council, composed of from five
to seven members, and commissioned to fix and apportion the separate
imposts, to keep up a standing army, to collect the supplies necessary
for the maintenance and defence of the party. The Calvinistic republic
had its general assemblies, composed of nine deputies or representatives
from each of the nine circles. These assemblies were invested with
authority to order, on the general account, all that the juncture
required, that is to say, with a legislative power distinct from that of
the crown and nation. . . . If the king ceased to pay the sums
necessary to keep up the garrisons in the towns left to the Reformers,
the governors were to seize the talliages in the hands of the king's
receivers, and apply the money to the payment of the garrisons. And in
case the central power should attempt to repress these violent
procedures, or to substitute as commandant in those places a Catholic for
a Protestant, all the Calvinists of the locality and the neighboring
districts were to unite and rise in order to give the assistance of the
strong hand to the Protestant governors so attacked. Independently of
the ordinary imposts, a special impost was laid on the Calvinists, and
gave their leaders the disposal of a yearly sum of one hundred and twenty
thousand livres (four hundred and forty thousand francs of the present
day). The Calvinistic party had thus a territorial area, an
administration, finances, a legislative power and an executive power
independent of those of the countr;y; or, in other words, the means of
taking resolutions contrary to those of the mass of the nation, and of
upholding them by revolt. All they wanted was a Huguenot stadtholder to
oppose to the King of France, and they were looking out for one."

Henry IV. did not delude himself as to the tendency of such organization
amongst those of his late party. "He rebuffed very sternly (and
wisely)," says L'Estoile, "those who spoke to him of it. 'As for a
protector,' he told them, 'he would have them to understand that there
was no other protector in France but himself for one side or the other;
the first man who should be so daring as to assume the title would do so
at the risk of his life; he might be quite certain of that.'" Had Henry
IV. been permitted to read the secrets of a not so very distant future,
he might have told the Huguenots of his day that the time was not so far
off when their pretension to political organization and to the formation
of a state within the state, would compromise their religious liberty and
furnish the absolute government of Louis XIV. with excuses for abolishing
the protective edict which Henry IV.'s sympathy was on the point of
granting them, and which, so far as its purely religious provisions went,
was duly respected by the sagacity of Cardinal Richelieu.

After his conversion to Catholicism, and during the whole of his
reign, it was one of Henry IV.'s constant anxieties to show himself
well-disposed towards his old friends, and to do for them all he could do
without compromising the public peace in France, or abdicating in his own
person the authority he needed to maintain order and peace. Some of the
edicts published by his predecessors during the intervals of civil war,
notably the edict of Poitiers issued by Henry III., had granted the
Protestants free exercise of their worship in the castles of the
Calvinistic lords who had jurisdiction, to the number of thirty-five
hundred, and in the faubourgs of one town or borough of each bailiwick of
the realm, except the bailiwick of Paris. Further, the holding of
properties and heritages, union by marriage with Catholics, and the
admission of Protestants to the employments, offices, and dignities of
the realm, were recognized by this edict. These rights, in black and
white, had often been violated by the different authorities, or suspended
during the wars; Henry IV. maintained them or put them in force again,
and supported the application of them or decreed the extension of them.
It was calculated that there were in France eight hundred towns and three
hundred bailiwicks or seneschalties; the treaties concluded with the
League had expressly prohibited the exercise of Protestant worship in
forty towns and seventeen bailiwicks; Henry IV. tolerated it everywhere
else. The prohibition was strict as regarded Paris and ten leagues
round; but, as early as 1594, three months after his entry into Paris,
Henry aided the Reformers in the unostentatious celebration of their own
form in the Faubourg St. Germain; and he authorized the use of it at
court for religious ceremonies, especially for marriages. Three
successive edicts, two issued at Mantes in 1591 and 1593, and the third
at St. Germain in 1597, confirmed and developed these signs of progress
in the path of religious liberty.

[Illustration: The Castle of St. Germain in the Reign of Henry IV.--107]

The Parliaments had in general refused to enregister these decrees a fact
which gave them an incomplete and provisional character; but equitable
and persistent measures on the king's part prevailed upon the Parliament
of Paris to enregister the edict of St. Germain; and the Parliament of
Dijon and nearly all the other Parliaments of the kingdom followed this
example. One of the principal provisions of this last edict declared
Protestants competent to fill all the offices and dignities of the
kingdom. It had many times been inserted in preceding edicts, but always
rejected by the Parliaments or formally revoked. Henry IV. brought it
into force and credit by putting it extensively in practice, without
entering upon discussion of it and without adding any comment upon it.
In 1590 he had given Palleseuil the government of Neuchatel in Normandy;
he had introduced Hurault Dufay, Du Plessis-Mornay and Rosny into the
council of state; in 1594 he had appointed the last a member of the
council of finance; Soffray de Colignon, La Force, Lesdiguieres, and
Sancy were summoned to the most important functions; Turenne, in 1594,
was raised to the dignity of marshal of France; and in 1595 La Tremoille
was made duke and peer. They were all Protestants. Their number and
their rank put the matter beyond all dispute; it was a natural
consequence of the social condition of France; it became an habitual
practice with the government.

Nevertheless the complaints and requirements of the malcontent
Protestants continued, and became day by day more vehement; in 1596 and
1597 the assemblies of Saumur, Loudun, and Vendome became their organs of
expression; and messengers were sent with them to the camp before La
Fere, which Henry IV. was at that time besieging. He deferred his reply.
Two of the principal Protestant leaders, the Dukes of Bouillon and La
Tremoille, suddenly took extreme measures; they left the king and his
army, carrying off their troops with them, one to Auvergne and the other
to Poitou. The deputies from the assembly of Loudun started back again
at the same time, as if for the purpose of giving the word to arm in
their provinces. Du Plessis-Mornay and his wife, the most zealous of the
Protestants who were faithful at the same time to their cause and to the
king, bear witness to this threatening crisis. "The deputies," says
Madame du Mornay in her Memoires, "returned each to his own province,
with the intention of taking the cure of their evils into their own
hands, whence would infallibly have ensued trouble enough to complete the
ruin of this state had not the king, by the management of M. du Plessis,
been warned of this imminent danger, and by him persuaded to send off and
treat in good earnest with the said assembly." "These gentry, rebuffed
at court," says Du Plessis-Mornay himself in a letter to the Duke of
Bouillon, "have resolved to take the cure into their own hands; to that
end they have been authorized, and by actions which do not seem to lead
them directly thither they will find that they have passed the Rubicon
right merrily." It was as it were a new and a Protestant League just
coming to a head. Henry IV. was at that time engaged in the most
important negotiation of his reign. After a long and difficult siege he
had just retaken. Amiens. He thought it a favorable moment at which to
treat for peace with Spain, and put an end to an onerous war which he had
been for so long sustaining. He informed the Queen of England of his
intention, "begging her, if the position of her affairs did not permit
her to take part in the treaty he was meditating with Spain, to let him
know clearly what he must do to preserve amity and good understanding
between the two crowns, for he would always prefer an ally like her to
reconciled foes such as the Spaniards." He addressed the same
notification to the Dutch government. Elizabeth on one hand and the
states-general on the other tried to dissuade him from peace with Spain,
and to get him actively re-engaged in the strife from which they were not
disposed to emerge. He persisted in his purpose whilst setting before
them his reasons for it, and binding himself to second faithfully their
efforts by all pacific means. A congress was opened in January, 1598, at
Vervins in Picardy, through the mediation of Pope Clement VIII., anxious
to become the pacificator of Catholic Europe. The French
plenipotentiaries, Pomponne de Bellievre and Brulart de Silleri, had
instructions to obtain the restoration to the king of all towns and
places taken by the Spaniards from France since the treaty of peace of
Cateau-Cambresis, and to have the Queen of England and the United
Provinces, if they testified a desire for it, included in the treaty, or,
at any rate, to secure for them a truce. After three months' conferences
the treaty of peace was concluded at Vervins on the 2d of May, 1598, the
principal condition being, that King Philip II. should restore to France
the towns of Calais, Ardres, Doullens, Le Catelet, and Blavet; that he
should re-enter upon possession of the countship of Charolais; and that,
if either of the two sovereigns had any claims to make against one of the
states their allies in this treaty, "he should prosecute them only by way
of law, before competent judges, and not by force, in any manner
whatever." The Queen of England took no decisive resolution. When once
the treaty was concluded, Henry IV., on signing it, said to the Duke of
Epernon, "With this stroke of my pen I have just done more exploits than
I should have done in a long while with the best swords in my kingdom."

A month before the conclusion of the treaty of peace at Vervins with
Philip II., Henry IV. had signed and published at Paris on the 13th of
April, 1598, the edict of Nantes, his treaty of peace with the Protestant
malcontents. This treaty, drawn up in ninety-two open and fifty-six
secret articles, was a code of old and new laws regulating the civil and
religious position of Protestants in France, the conditions and
guarantees of their worship, their liberties, and their special
obligations in their relations whether with the crown or with their
Catholic fellow-countrymen. By this code Henry IV. added a great deal
to the rights of the Protestants and to the duties of the state towards
them. Their worship was authorized not only in the castles of the lords
high-justiciary, who numbered thirty-five hundred, but also in the
castles of simple noblemen who enjoyed no high-justiciary rights,
provided that the number of those present did not exceed thirty. Two
towns or two boroughs, instead of one, had the same religious rights in
each bailiwick or seneschalty of the kingdom. The state was charged with
the duty of providing for the salaries of the Protestant ministers and
rectors in their colleges or schools, and an annual sum of one hundred
and sixty-five thousand livres of those times (four hundred and
ninety-five thousand francs of the present day) was allowed for that
purpose. Donations and legacies to be so applied were authorized. The
children of Protestants were admitted into the universities, colleges,
schools, and hospitals, without distinction between them and Catholics.
There was great difficulty in securing for them, in all the Parliaments
of the kingdom, impartial justice; and a special chamber, called the
edict-chamber, was instituted for the trial of all causes in which they
were interested. Catholic judges could not sit in this chamber unless
with their consent and on their presentation. In the Parliaments of
Bordeaux, Toulouse, and Grenoble, the edict-chamber was composed of two
presidents, one a Catholic and the other a Reformer, and of twelve
councillors, of whom six were Reformers. The Parliaments had hitherto
refused to admit Reformers into their midst; in the end the Parliament
of Paris admitted six, one into the edict-chamber and five into the
appeal-chamber (enquetes). The edict of Nantes retained, at first for
eight years and then for four more, in the hands of the Protestants the
towns which war or treaties had put in their possession, and which
numbered, it is said, two hundred. The king was bound to bear the
burden of keeping up their fortifications and paying their garrisons;
and Henry IV. devoted to that object five hundred and forty thousand
livres of those times, or about two million francs of our day. When the
edict thus regulating the position and rights of Protestants was
published, it was no longer on their part, but on that of the Catholics,
that lively protests were raised. Many Catholics violently opposed the
execution of the new law; they got up processions at Tours to excite the
populace against the edict, and at Le Mans to induce the Parliament of
Normandy to reject it. The Parliament of Paris put in the way of its
registration retardations which seemed to forebode a refusal. Henry
summoned to the Louvre deputies from all the chambers. "What I have
done," he said to them, "is for the good of peace. I have made it
abroad; I wish to make it at home. Necessity forced me to this decree.
They who would prevent it from passing would have war. You see me in my
closet. I speak to you, not in royal robe, or with sword and cape, as
my predecessors did, nor as a prince receiving an embassy, but as a
father of a family in his doublet conversing familiarly with his
children. It is said that I am minded to favor them of the religion;
there is a mind to entertain some mistrust of me. . . . I know that
cabals have been got up in the Parliament, that seditious preachers have
been set on. . . . The preachers utter words by way of doctrine for
to build up rather than pull down sedition. That is the road formerly,
taken to the making of barricades, and to proceeding by degrees to the
parricide of the late king. I will cut the roots of all these factions;
I will make short work of those who foment them. I have scaled the
walls of cities; you may be sure I shall scale barricades. You must
consider that what I am doing is for a good purpose, and let my past
behavior go bail for it."

Parliaments and Protestants, all saw that they had to do not only with a
strong-willed king, but with a judicious and clearsighted man, a true
French patriot, who was sincerely concerned for the public interest, and
who had won his spurs in the art of governing parties by making for each
its own place in the state. It was scarcely five years ago that the king
who was now publishing the edict of Nantes had become a Catholic; the
Parliaments enregistered the decree. The Protestant malcontents resigned
themselves to the necessity of being content with it. Whatever their
imperfections and the objections that might be raised to them, the peace
of Vervins and the edict of Narrtes were, amidst the obstacles and perils
encountered at every step by the government of Henry IV., the two most
timely and most beneficial acts in the world for France.

Four months after the conclusion of the treaty of Vervins, on the 13th of
September, 1598, Philip II. died at the Escurial, "prison, cloister, and
tomb all in one," as M. Rosseeuw St. Hilaire very well remarks [_Histoire
d'Espagne,_ t. x. pp. 335-363], situated eight leagues from Madrid.
Philip was so ill, and so cruelly racked by gout and fever, that it was
doubted whether he could be removed thither; "but a collection of relics,
amassed by his orders in Germany, had just arrived at the Escurial, and
the festival of consecration was to take place within a few days. 'I
desire that I be borne alive thither where my tomb already is,' said
Philip." He was laid in a litter borne by men who walked at a snail's
pace, in order to avoid all shaking. Forced to halt every instant, he
took six days to do the eight leagues which separated him from his last
resting-place. There he died in atrocious agonies, and after a very
painful operation, endured with unalterable courage and calmness; he had
ordered to be placed in front of his bed the bier in which his body was
to lie and the crucifix which his father, Charles V., at his death in the
monastery of Yuste, had held in his hand. During a reign of forty-two
years Philip II. was, systematically and at any price, on the score of
what he regarded as the divine right of the Catholic church and of his
own kingship, the patron of absolute power in Europe. Earnest and
sincere in his faith, licentious without open scandal in his private
life, unscrupulous and pitiless in the service of the religious and
political cause he had embraced, he was capable of any lie, one might
almost say of any crime, without having his conscience troubled by it.
A wicked man and a frightful example of what a naturally cold and hard
spirit may become when it is a prey to all the temptations of despotism
and to two sole passions, egotism and fanaticism.

After the death of Philip II. and during the first years of the reign of
his son Philip III., war continued between Spain on one side, and
England, the United Provinces, and the German Protestants on the other,
but languidly and without any results to signify. Henry IV. held aloof
from the strife, all the while permitting his Huguenot subjects to take
part in it freely and at their own risks. On the 3d of April, 1603,
a second great royal personage, Queen Elizabeth, disappeared from the
scene. She had been, as regards the Protestantism of Europe, what Philip
II. had been, as regards Catholicism, a powerful and able patron; but,
what Philip II. did from fanatical conviction, Elizabeth did from
patriotic feeling; she had small faith in Calvinistic doctrines, and no
liking for Puritanic sects; the Catholic church, the power of the pope
excepted, was more to her mind than the Anglican church, and her private
preferences differed greatly from her public practices. Besides, she
combined with the exigencies of a king's position the instincts of a
woman; she had the vanities rather than the weaknesses of one; she would
fain have inspired and responded to the passions natural to one; but
policy always had the dominion over her sentiments without extinguishing
them, and the proud sovereign sent to the block the overweening and
almost rebel subject whom she afterwards grievously regretted. These
inconsistent resolutions and emotions caused Elizabeth's life to be one
of agitation, though without warmth, and devoid of serenity as of
sweetness. And so, when she grew old, she was disgusted with it and
weary of it; she took no pleasure any more in thing or person; she could
no longer bear herself, either in her court or in her bed or elsewhere;
she decked herself out to lie stretched upon cushions and there remain
motionless, casting about her vague glances which seemed to seek after
that for which she did not ask. She ended by repelling her physicians
and even refusing nourishment. When her ministers saw her thus, almost
insensible and dying, they were emboldened to remind her of what she had
said to them one day at White-Hall, "My throne must be a king's throne."
At this reminder she seemed to rouse herself, and repeated the same
words, adding, "I will not have a rascal (vaurien) to succeed me." Sir
Robert Cecil asked her what she meant by that expression. "I tell you
that I must have a king to succeed me; who can that be but my cousin of
Scotland?" After having indicated the King of Scotland, James Stuart,
son of the fair rival whom she had sent to the block, Elizabeth remained
speechless. The Archbishop of Canterbury commenced praying, breaking off
at intervals; twice the queen signed to him to go on. Her advisers
returned in the evening, and begged her to indicate to them by signs if
she were still of the same mind; she raised her arms and crossed them
above her head. Then she seemed to fall into a dreamy state. At three
o'clock, during the night, she quietly passed away. Some few hours
afterwards, her counsellors in assembly resolved to proclaim James
Stuart, King of Scotland, King of England, as the nearest of kin to the
late queen, and indicated by her on her death-bed.

At the beginning of the seventeenth century Henry IV. was the only one
remaining of the three great sovereigns who, during the sixteenth, had
disputed, as regarded religion and politics, the preponderance in Europe.
He had succeeded in all his kingly enterprises; he had become a Catholic
in France without ceasing to be the prop of the Protestants in Europe;
he had made peace with Spain without embroiling himself with England,
Holland, and Lutheran Germany. He had shot up, as regarded ability and
influence, in the eyes of all Europe. It was just then that he gave the
strongest proof of his great judgment and political sagacity; he was not
intoxicated with success; he did not abuse his power; he did not aspire
to distant conquests or brilliant achievements; he concerned himself
chiefly with the establishment of public order in his kingdom and with
his people's prosperity. His well-known saying, "I want all my peasantry
to have a fowl in the pot every Sunday," was a desire worthy of Louis
XII. Henry IV. had a sympathetic nature; his grandeur did not lead him
to forget the nameless multitudes whose fate depended upon his

He had, besides, the rich, productive, varied, inquiring mind of one who
took an interest not only in the welfare of the French peasantry, but in
the progress of the whole French community, progress agricultural,
industrial, commercial, scientific, and literary. The conversation of an
independent thinker like Montaigne had, at the least, as much attraction
for him as that of his comrades in arms. Long before Henry IV. was King
of France, on the 19th of December, 1584, Montaigne, wrote, "The King of
Navarre came to see me at Montaigne where he had never been before, and
was there two days, attended by my people without any of his own
officers; he permitted neither tasting (essai) nor state-banquet
(couvert), and slept in my bed." On the 24th of October, 1587, after
winning the battle of Contras, Henry stopped to dine at Montaigne's
house, though its possessor had remained faithful to Henry III., whose
troops had just lost the battle; and on the 18th of January, 1590, when
the King of Navarre, now become King of France, besieged and took the
town of Lisieux, Montaigne wrote to him, "All the time through, sir, I
have observed in you this same fortune that is now yours; and you may
remember that even when I had to make confession thereof to my
parish-priest I did not omit to regard your successes with a kindly eye.
Now, with more reason and freedom, I hug them to my heart. Yonder they
do you service by effects; but they do you no less service here by
reputation. The report goes as far as the shot. We could not derive
from the justice of your cause arguments so powerful in sustaining or
reducing your subjects as we do from the news of the prosperity of your

Abroad the policy of Henry IV. was as judicious and far sighted as it was
just and sympathetic at home. There has been much writing and
dissertation about what has been called his grand design. This name has
been given to a plan for the religious and political organization of
Christendom, consisting in the division of Europe amongst three
religions, the Catholic, the Calvinistic, and the Lutheran, and into
fifteen states, great and small, monarchical or republican, with equal
rights, alone recognized as members of the Christian confederation,
regulating in concert their common affairs, and pacifically making up
their differences, whilst all the while preserving their national
existence. This plan is lengthily and approvingly set forth, several
times over, in the _OEconomies royales,_ which Sully's secretaries wrote
at his suggestion, and probably sometimes at his dictation. Henry IV.
was a prince as expansive in ideas as he was inventive, who was a master
of the art of pleasing, and himself took great pleasure in the freedom
and unconstraint of conversation. No doubt the notions of the grand
design often came into his head, and he often talked about them to Sully,
his confidant in what he thought as well as in what he did. Sully, for
his part was a methodical spirit, a regular downright putter in practice,
evidently struck and charmed by the richness and grandeur of the
prospects placed before his eyes by his king, and feeling pleasure in
shedding light upon them whilst giving them a more positive and more
complete shape than belonged to their first and original appearance.
And thus came down to us the grand design, which, so far as Henry IV. was
concerned, was never a definite project. His true external policy was
much more real and practical. He had seen and experienced the evils of
religious hatred and persecution. He had been a great sufferer from the
supremacy of the house of Austria in Europe, and he had for a long while
opposed it. When he became the most puissant and most regarded of
European kings, he set his heart very strongly on two things--toleration
for the three religions which had succeeded in establishing themselves in
Europe and showing themselves capable of contending one against another,
and the abasement of the house of Austria, which, even after the death of
Charles V. and of Philip II., remained the real and the formidable rival
of France. The external policy of Henry from the treaty of Vervins to
his death, was religious peace in Europe and the alliance of Catholic
France with Protestant England and Germany against Spain and Austria. He
showed constant respect and deference towards the papacy, a power highly
regarded in both the rival camps, though much fallen from the substantial
importance it had possessed in Europe during the middle ages. French
policy striving against Spanish policy, such was the true and the only
serious characteristic of the grand design.

Four men, very unequal in influence as well as merit, Sully, Villeroi,
Du Plessis-Mornay, and D'Aubigne, did Henry IV. effective service, by
very different processes and in very different degrees, towards
establishing and rendering successful this internal and external policy.
Three were Protestants; Villeroi alone was a Catholic. Sully is beyond
comparison with the other three. He is the only one whom Henry IV.
called my friend; the only one who had participated in all the life and
all the government of Henry IV., his evil as well as his exalted
fortunes, his most painful embarrassments at home as well as his greatest
political acts; the only one whose name has remained inseparably
connected with that of a master whom he served without servility as well
as without any attempt to domineer. There is no idea of entering here
upon his personal history; we would only indicate his place in that of
his king. Maximilian de Bethune-Rosny, born in 1559, and six years
younger than Henry of Navarre, was barely seventeen when in 1576 he
attended Henry on his flight from the court of France to go and recover
in Navarre his independence of position and character. Rosny was content
at first to serve him as a volunteer, "in order," he said, "to learn the
profession of arms from its first rudiments." He speedily did himself
honor in several actions. In 1580 the King of Navarre took him as
chamberlain and counsellor. On becoming King of France, Henry IV., in
1594, made him secretary of state; in 1596, put him on the council of
finance; in 1597, appointed him grand surveyor of France, and, in 1599,
superintendent-general of finance and master of the ordnance. In 1602 he
was made Marquis de Rosny and councillor of honor in the Parliament; then
governor of the Bastille, superintendent of fortifications, and surveyor
of Paris; in 1603, governor of Poitou. Lastly, in 1606, his estate of
Sully-sur-Loire was raised to a duchy-peerage, and he was living under
this name, which has become his historical name, when, in 1610, the
assassination of Henry IV. sent into retirement, for thirty-one years,
the confidant of all his thoughts and the principal minister of a reign
which, independently of the sums usefully expended for the service of the
state and the advancement of public prosperity, had extinguished,
according to the most trustworthy evidence, two hundred and thirty-five
millions of debts, and which left in the coffers of the state, in ready
money or in safe securities, forty-three million, one hundred and
thirty-eight thousand, four hundred and ninety livres.

Nicholas de Neufville, Lord of Villeroi, who was born in 1543, and whose
grandfather had been secretary of state under Francis I., was, whilst
Henry III. was still reigning, member of a small secret council at which
all questions relating to Protestants were treated of. Though a strict
Catholic, and convinced that the King of France ought to be openly in the
ranks of the Catholics, and to govern with their support, he sometimes
gave Henry III. some free-spoken and wise counsels. When he saw him
spending his time with the brotherhoods of penitents whose head he had
declared himself, "Sir," said he, "debts and obligations are considered
according to dates, and therefore old debts ought to be paid before new
ones. You were King of France before you were head of the brotherhoods;
your conscience binds you to render to the kingship that which you owe it
rather than to the fraternity that which you have promised it. You can
excuse yourself from one, but not from the other. You only wear the
sackcloth when you please, but you have the crown always on your head."
When the wars of religion broke out, when the League took form and Henry
de Guise had been assassinated at Blois, Villeroi, naturally a Leaguer
and a moderate Leaguer, became the immediate adviser of the Duke of
Mayenne. After Henry III.'s death, as soon as he heard that Henry IV.
promised to have himself instructed in the Catholic religion, he
announced his intention of recognizing him if he held to this engagement;
and he held to his own, for he was during five years the intermediary
between Henry IV. and Mayenne, incessantly laboring to reconcile them,
and to prevent the estates of the League from giving the crown of France
to a Spanish princess. Villeroi was a Leaguer of the patriotically
French type. And so Henry IV., as soon as he was firm upon his throne,
summoned him to his councils, and confided to him the direction of
foreign affairs. The late Leaguer sat beside Sully, and exerted himself
to give the prevalence, in Henry IV.'s external policy, to Catholic
maxims and alliances, whilst Sully, remaining firmly Protestant in the
service of his king turned Catholic, continued to be in foreign matters
the champion of Protestant policy and alliances. There was thus seen,
during the sixteenth century, in the French monarchy, a phenomenon which
was to repeat itself during the eighteenth in the republic of the United
States of America, when, in 1789, its president, Washington, summoned to
his cabinet Hamilton and Jefferson together, one the stanchest of the
aristocratic federalists and the other the warm defender of democratic
principles and tendencies. Washington, in his lofty and calm
impartiality, considered that, to govern the nascent republic, he had
need of both; and he found a way, in fact, to make both of service to
him. Henry IV. had perceived himself to be in an analogous position with
France and Europe divided between Catholics and Protestants, whom he
aspired to pacificate.

He likewise succeeded. An incomplete success, however, as generally.
happens when the point attained is an adjournment of knotty questions
which war has vainly attempted to cut, and the course of ideas and events
has not yet had time to unravel.

Henry IV. made so great a case of Villeroi's co-operation and influence,
that, without loving him as he loved Sully, he upheld him and kept him as
secretary of state for foreign affairs to the end of his reign. He
precisely defined his peculiar merit when he said, "Princes have servants
of all values and all sorts; some do their own business before that of
their master; others do their master's and do not forget their own; but
Villeroi believes that his master's business is his own, and he bestows
thereon the same zeal that another does in pushing his own suit or
laboring at his own vine." Though short and frigidly written, the
Memoires of Villeroi give, in fact, the idea of a man absorbed in his
commission and regarding it as his own business as well as that of his
king and country.

Philip du Plessis-Mornay occupied a smaller place than Sully and Villeroi
in the government of Henry IV.; but he held and deserves to keep a great
one in the history of his times. He was the most eminent and also the
most moderate of the men of profound piety and conviction of whom the
Reformation had made a complete conquest, soul and body, and who placed
their public fidelity to their religious creed above every other interest
and every other affair in this world. He openly blamed and bitterly
deplored Henry IV.'s conversion to Catholicism, but he did not ignore the
weighty motives for it; his disapproval and his vexation did not make him
forget the great qualities of his king or the services he was rendering
France, or his own duty and his earlier feelings towards him. This
unbending Protestant, who had contributed as much as anybody to put
Henry IV. on the throne, who had been admitted further than anybody,
except Sully, to his intimacy, who ever regretted that his king had
abandoned his faith, who braved all perils and all disgraces to keep and
maintain his own, this Mornay, malcontent, saddened, all but banished
from court, assailed by his friends' irritation and touched by their
sufferings, never took part against the king whom he blamed, and of whom
he thought he had to complain, in any faction or any intrigue; on the
contrary, he remained unshakably faithful to him, incessantly striving to
maintain or re-establish in the Protestant church in France some little
order and peace, and between the Protestants and Henry IV. some little
mutual confidence and friendliness. Mornay had made up his mind to serve
forever a king who had saved his country. He remained steadfast and
active in his creed, but without falling beneath the yoke of any
narrow-minded idea, preserving his patriotic good sense in the midst of
his fervent piety, and bearing with sorrowful constancy his friends'
bursts of anger and his king's exhibitions of ingratitude. Between 1597
and 1605 three incidents supervened which put to the proof Henry IV.'s
feelings towards his old and faithful servant. In October, 1597, Mornay,
still governor of Saumur, had gone to Angers to concert plans with
Marshal de Brissac for an expedition which, by order of the king, they
were to make into Brittany against the Duke of Mercoeur, not yet reduced
to submission. As he was passing along the street with only three or
four of his men, he was unexpectedly attacked by one Sieur de Saint-Phal,
who, after calling upon him to give some explanation as to a disagreement
that had taken place between them five months before, brutally struck him
a blow on the head with a stick, knocked him down, immediately mounted a
horse that was held all ready on the spot, and fled in haste, leaving
Mornay in the hands of ten or a dozen accomplices, who dealt him several
sword-thrusts as he was rising to defend himself, and who, in their turn,
fled. Some passers-by hurried up; Mornay's wounds were found to be
slight; but the affair, which nobody hesitated to call murder, made a
great noise; there was general indignation; the king was at once informed
of it; and whilst the question was being discussed at Saumur whether
Mornay ought to seek reparation by way of arms or by that of law, Henry
IV. wrote to him in his own hand on the 8th of November, 1597:--

"M. du Plessis: I am extremely displeased at the outrage you have met
with, wherein I participate both as king and as your friend. As the
former I will do you justice and myself too. If I bore only the second
title, you have none whose sword would be more ready to leap from its
scabbard than mine, or who would put his life at your service more
cheerfully than I. Take this for granted, that, in effect, I will render
you the offices of king, master, and friend. And on this truthful
assurance, I conclude, praying God to have you in His holy keeping."

Saint-Phal remained for a long while concealed in the very district,
amongst his relatives; but on the 12th of January, 1599, he was arrested
and put in the Bastille; and, according to the desire of Mornay himself,
the king decided that he should be brought before him, unarmed, should
place one knee on the ground, should ask his pardon, and then, assuming
his arms, should accordingly receive that pardon, first of all from
Mornay, whom the king had not permitted to exact in another way the
reparation due to him, and afterwards from the mouth of the king himself,
together with a severe admonition to take heed to himself for the future.
The affair having thus terminated, there was no more heard of Saint-Phal,
and Mornay returned to Saumur with a striking mark of the king's
sympathy, who, in his own words, had felt pleasure "in avenging him as
king and as friend."

The second incident was of more political consequence, and neither the
king nor Mornay conducted themselves with sufficient discretion and
dignity. In July, 1598, Mornay published a treatise on the institution
of the eucharist in the Christian church, how and by what degrees the
mass was introduced in its place. It was not only an attack upon the
fundamental dogma and cult of the Catholic church; the pope was expressly
styled Antichrist in it. Clement VIII. wrote several times about it to
Henry IV., complaining that a man of such high standing in the government
and in the king's regard should treat so insultingly a sovereign in
alliance with the king, and head of the church to which the king
belonged. The pope's complaint came opportunely. Henry IV. was at this
time desirous of obtaining from the court of Rome annulment of his
marriage with Marguerite de Valois, that he might be enabled to contract
another; he did not as yet say with whom. Mornay's book was vigorously
attacked, not only in point of doctrine, but in point of fact; he was
charged with having built his foundation upon a large number of
misquotations; and the Bishop of Evreux, M. du Perron, a great friend of
the king's, whom he had always supported and served, said that he was
prepared to point out as such nearly five hundred. The dispute grew warm
between the two theologians; Mornay demanded leave to prove the falsehood
of the accusation; the bishop accepted the challenge. For all his
defence of his book and his erudition, Mornay did not show any great
hurry to enter upon the contest; and, on the other hand, the bishop
reduced the number of the quotations against which he objected. The sum
total of the quotations found fault with was fixed at sixty. A
conference was summoned to look into them, and six commissioners, three
Catholic and three Protestant, were appointed to give judgment; De Thou
and Pithou amongst the former, Dufresne la Canaye and Casaubon amongst
the latter. Erudition was worthily represented there, and there was
every probability of justice. The conference met on the 4th of May,
1600, at Fontainebleau, in presence of the king and many great lords,
magistrates, ecclesiastics, and distinguished spectators.

[Illustration: The Castle of Fontainbleau----124]

Mornay began by owning that "out of four thousand quotations made by him
it was unlikely that some would not be found wherein he might have erred,
as he was human, but he was quite sure that it was never in bad faith."
He then said that, being pressed for time, he had not yet been able to
collate more than nineteen out of the sixty quotations specially
attacked. Of these nineteen nine only were examined at this first
conference, and nearly all were found to be incorrect. Next day, Mornay
was taken "with a violent seizure and repeated attacks of vomiting, which
M. de la Riviere, the king's premier physician, came and deposed to."
The conference was broken off, and not resumed afterwards. The king
congratulated himself beyond measure at the result, and even on the part
which he had taken. "Tell the truth," said he to the Bishop of Evreux,
"the good right had good need of aid;" and he wrote, on the 6th of May to
the Duke of Epernon, "The diocese of Evreux has beaten that of Saumur.
The bearer was present, and will tell you that I did wonders. Assuredly
it is one of the greatest hits for the church of God that have been made
for some time." He evidently had it very much at heart that the pope
should be well informed of what had taken place, and feel obliged to him
for it. "Haven't you wits to see that the king, in order to gratify the
pope, has been pleased to sacrifice my father's honor at his feet?" said
young Philip de Mornay to some courtiers who were speaking to him about
this sad affair. This language was reported to the king, who showed
himself much hurt by it. "He is a young man beside himself with grief,"
they said, "and it is his own father's case." "Young he is not," replied
the king; "he is forty years old, twenty in age and twenty from his
father's teaching." The king's own circle and his most distinguished
servants gladly joined in his self-congratulation. "Well," he said to
Sully, "what think you of your pope?" "I think, sir," answered Sully,
"that he is more pope than you suppose; cannot you see that he gives a
red hat to M. d'Evreux? Really, I never saw a man so dumbfounded, or one
who defended himself so ill. If our religion had no better foundation
than his crosswise legs and arms (Mornay habitually kept them so), I
would abandon it rather to-day than to-morrow." [_OEconomies royales,_
t. iii. p. 346.]

Sully desired nothing better than to find Mornay at fault, and to see the
king fully convinced of it. Jealousy is nowhere more wide-awake and more
implacable than at courts. However, amongst the grandees present at the
conference of Fontainebleau there were some who did not share the general
impression. "I saw there," said the Duke of Mayenne as he went away from
it, "only a very old and very faithful servant very badly paid for so
many services;" and, in spite of the king's letter, the Duke of Epernon
sent word to Mornay that he still took him for a gentleman of honor, and
still remained his friend. Henry IV. himself, with his delicate and
ready tact, was not slow to perceive that he had gone too far and had
behaved badly. Being informed that Mornay was in deep suffering, he sent
to him M. de LomLnie, his cabinet-secretary, to fully assure him that the
king would ever be his good master and friend. "As for master," said
Mornay, "I am only too sensible of it; as for friend, he belongs not to
me: I have known men to make attempts upon the king's life, honor, and
state, nay, upon his very bed; against them, the whole of them, he never
displayed so much severity as against me alone, who have done him service
all my life." And he set out on his way back to Saumur without seeing
the king again.

He returned thither with all he had dearest in the world, his wife,
Charlotte Arbaleste de la Borde, his worthy partner in all his trials--
trials of prosperity as well as adversity. She has full right to a few
lines in this History, for it was she who preserved to us, in her
_Memoires,_ the picture, so salutary to contemplate, of the life and
character of Mornay, in the midst of his friends' outbursts of passion
and his adversaries' brutal exhibitions of hatred. As intelligent as she
was devoted, she gave him aid in his theological studies and labors as
well as in the confronting of public events. "During this expedition to
Fontainebleau, I had remained," she says, "at Paris, in extreme
apprehension, recently recovered from a severe illness, harassed by the
deadlock in our domestic affairs. And, as for all that, I felt it not in
comparison with the inevitable mishap of this expedition. I had found
for M. du Plessis all the books of which he might possibly have need,
hunted up, with great diligence considering the short time, in the
libraries of all our friends, and I got them into his hands, but somewhat
late in the day, because it was too late in the day when he gave me the
commission." The private correspondence of these two noble persons is a
fine example of conjugal and Christian union, virtue, and affection. In
1605, their only son, Philip de Mornay, a very distinguished young man,
then twenty-six years of age, obtained Henry IV.'s authority to go and
serve in the army of the Prince of Orange, Maurice of Nassau, at deadly
war with Spain. He was killed in it on the 23d of October, at the
assault upon the town of Gueldres. On receiving news of his death,
"I have now no son," said his father; "therefore I have now no wife."
His sorrowful prediction was no delusion; six mouths after her son's
death Madame de Mornay succumbed, unable any longer to bear the burden
she was supporting without a murmur. Her Memoires concludes with this
expression: "It is but reasonable that this my book should end with him,
as it was only undertaken to describe to him our pilgrimage in this life.
And, since it hath pleased God, he hath sooner gone through, and more
easily ended his own. Wherefore, indeed, if I feared not to cause
affliction to M. du Plessis, who, the more mine grows upon me, makes me
the more clearly perceive his affection, it would vex me extremely to
survive him."

On learning by letter from Prince Maurice that the young man was dead,
Henry IV. said, with emotion, to those present, "I have lost the fairest
hope of a gentleman in my kingdom. I am grieved for the father. I must
send and comfort him. No father but he could have such a loss." "He
despatched on the instant," says Madame de Mornay herself, "Sieur
Bruneau, one of his secretaries, with very gracious letters to comfort
us; with orders, nevertheless, not to present himself unless he were sure
that we already knew of it otherwise, not wishing to be the first to tell
us such sad news." [_Memoires,_ t. ii. p. 107.] This touching evidence
of a king's sympathy for a father's grief effaced, no doubt, to some
extent in Mornay's mind his reminiscences of the conference at
Fontainebleau; one thing is quite certain, that he continued to render
Henry IV., in the synods and political assemblies of the Protestants, his
usual good offices for the maintenance or re-establishment of peace and
good understanding between the Catholic king and his malcontent former

A third Protestant, Theodore Agrippa d'Aubigne, grandfather of Madame de
Maintenon, has been reckoned here amongst not the councillors, certainly,
but the familiar and still celebrated servants of Henry IV. He held no
great post, and had no great influence with the king; he was, on every
occasion, a valiant soldier, a zealous Protestant, an indefatigable lover
and seeker of adventure, sometimes an independent thinker, frequently an
eloquent and bold speaker, always a very sprightly companion. Henry IV.
at one time employed him, at another held aloof from him, or forgot him,
or considered him a mischief-maker, a faction-monger who must be put in
the Bastille, and against whom, if it seemed good, there would be enough
to put him on his trial. Madame de Chatillon, who took an interest in
D'Aubigne, warned him of the danger, and urged him to depart that very
evening. "I will think about it, madame," said he; "I will implore God's
assistance, and I will see what I have to do." . . . "The inspiration
that came to me," says he, "was to go next morning very early to see his
Majesty, and, after having briefly set before him my past services, to
ask him for a pension, which up to that time I had not felt inclined to
do. The king, surprised, and at the same time well pleased to observe a
something mercenary behind all my proud spirit, embraced me, and granted
on the spot what I asked of him." The next day D'Aubigne went to the
Arsenal; Sully invited him to dinner, and took him to see the Bastille,
assuring him that there was no longer any danger for him, but only since
the last twenty-four hours. [_La France Protestante,_ by MM. Haag,
t. i. p. 170.] If D'Aubigne had not been a writer, he would be
completely forgotten by this time, like so many other intriguing and
turbulent adventurers, who make a great deal of fuss themselves, and try
to bring everything about them into a fuss as long as they live, and who
die without leaving any trace of their career. But D'Aubigne wrote a
great deal both in prose and in verse; he wrote the _Histoire
universelle_ of his times, personal _Memoires,_ tales, tragedies, and
theological and satirical essays; and he wrote with sagacious,
penetrating, unpremeditated wit, rare vigor, and original and almost
profound talent for discerning and depicting situations and characters.
It is the writer which has caused the man to live, and has assigned him a
place in French literature even more than in French history. We purpose
to quote two fragments of his, which will make us properly understand and
appreciate both the writer and the man. During the civil war, in the
reign of Henry III., D'Aubigne had made himself master of the Island of
Oleron, had fortified it, and considered himself insufficiently rewarded
by the King of Navarre, to whom he had meant to render, and had, in fact,
rendered service. After the battle of Coutras, in 1587, he was sleeping
with a comrade named Jacques de Caumont la Force, in the wardrobe of the
chamber in which the King of Navarre slept. "La Force," said D'Aubigne
to his bed-fellow, "our master is a regular miser, and the most
ungrateful mortal on the face of the earth." "What dost say, D'Aubigne?"
asked La Force, half asleep. "He says," repeated the King of Navarre,
who had heard all, that I am a regular miser, and the most ungrateful
mortal on the face of the earth." D'Aubigne, somewhat disconcerted, was
mum. "But," he adds, "when daylight appeared, this prince, who liked
neither rewarding nor punishing, did not for all that look any the more
black at me, or give me a quarter-crown more." Thirty years later, in
1617, after the collapse of the League and after the reign of Henry IV.,
D'Aubigne, wishing to describe the two leaders of the two great parties,
sums them up in these terms: "The Duke of Mayenne had such probity as is
human, a good nature and a liberality which made him most pleasant to
those about him; his was a judicious mind, which made good use of

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