François Pierre Guillaume Guizot.

A Popular History of France from the Earliest Times, Volume 5 online

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favorite's accession was a compromising act. Richelieu judged it more
prudent to remain Bishop of Lucon and to wear the appearance of defeat
by following Mary de' Medici to Blois, whither, since the fall of her
favorites, she had asked leave to retire. He would there, he said, be
more useful to the government of the young king; for, remaining at the
side of Mary de' Medici, he would be able to advise her and restrain
her. He so completely persuaded Louis XIII. and Albert de Luynes, that
he received orders to set out for Blois with the queen-mother, which he
did on the 4th of May, 1617. The Bishop of Lucon, though still young,
was already one of the ambitious sort who stake their dignity upon the
ultimate success of their fortunes, success gained no matter at what
price, by address or by hardihood, by complaisance or by opposition,
according to the requirements of facts and times. Dignity apart, the
young bishop had accurately measured the expediency of the step he was
taking in the interest of his future, high-soaring ambition.

On arriving at Blois with the queen-mother, he began by dividing his life
between that petty court in disgrace and his diocese of Lucon. He wished
to set Albert de Luynes at rest as to his presence at the court of Mary
de' Medici, the devotion he showed her, and the counsels he gave her. He
had but small success, however. The new favorite was suspicious and
anxious. Richelieu appeared to be occupied with nothing but the duties
of his office; he presided at conferences; and he published, against the
Protestants, a treatise entitled _The Complete Christian (De la
Perfection du Chretien)_. Luynes was not disposed to believe in these
exclusively religious preoccupations; he urged upon the king that
Richelieu should not live constantly in the queen-mother's neighborhood,
and in June, 1617, he had orders given him to retire to the courtship of
Avignon. Pope Paul V. complained that the Bishop of Lucon was exiled
from his diocese. "What is to be done about residence," said he, "which
is due to his bishopric? and what will the world say at seeing him
prohibited from going whither his duty binds him to go?" The king
answered that he was surprised at the pope's complaint. "An
ecclesiastic," said he, "could not possibly be in any better place than
Avignon, church territory; my lord the Bishop of Lucon is far from
finding time for nothing but the exercises of his profession; I have
discovered that he indulged in practices prejudicial to my service. He
is one of those spirits that are carried away far beyond their duty, and
are very dangerous in times of public disorder."

Richelieu obeyed without making any objection; he passed two years at
Avignon, protesting that he would never depart from it without the
consent of Luynes and without the hope of serving him. The favor and
fortune of the young falconer went on increasing every day. He had, in
1617, married the daughter of the Duke of Montbazon, and, in 1619,
prevailed upon the king to have the estate of Maille raised for him to a
duchy-peerage under the title of Luynes. In 1621 he procured for himself
the dignity of constable, to which he had no military claim. Louis XIII.
sometimes took a malicious pleasure in making fun of his favorite's
cupidity and that of his following. "I never saw," said he, "one person
with so many relatives; they come to court by ship-loads, and not a
single one of them with a silk dress." "See," said he one day to the
Count of Bassompierre, pointing to Luynes surrounded by a numerous
following: "he wants to play the king, but I shall know how to prevent
it; I will make him disgorge what he has taken from me." Friends at
court warned Luynes of this language; and Luynes replied with a somewhat
disdainful impertinence, "It is good for me to cause the king a little
vexation from time to time: it revives the affection he feels for me."
Richelieu kept himself well informed of court-rumors, and was cautious
not to treat them with indifference. He took great pains to make himself
pleasant to the young constable. "My lord," he wrote to him in August,
1621, "I am extremely pleased to have an opportunity of testifying to
you, that I shall never have any possession that I shall not be most
happy to employ for the satisfaction of the king and yourself. The queen
did me the honor of desiring that I should have the abbey of Redon; but
the moment I knew that the king and you, my lord, were desirous of
disposing of it otherwise, I gave it up with very good cheer, in order
that being in your hands you might gratify therewith whomsoever you
pleased; assuring you, my lord, that I have more contentment in
testifying to you thereby that which you will on every occasion recognize
in me, than I should have had by an augmentation of four thousand crowns'
income. The queen is very well, thank God. I think it will be very meet
that from time to time, by means of those who are passing, you should
send her news of the king and of you and yours, which will give her great
satisfaction " (Letters of Cardinal Richelieu, t. i. p. 690).

Whilst Richelieu was thus behaving towards the favorite with complaisance
and modesty, Mary de' Medici, whose mouthpiece he appeared to be, assumed
a different posture, and used different language; she complained bitterly
of the slavery and want of money to which she was reduced at Blois; a
plot, on the part of both aristocrats and domestics, were contrived by
those about her to extricate her; she entered into secret relations with
a great, a turbulent, and a malcontent lord, the Duke of Epernon; two
Florentine servants, Ruccellai and Vincenti Ludovici, were their
go-betweens; and it was agreed that she should escape from Blois and take
refuge at Angouleme, a lordship belonging to the Duke of Epernon. She at
the same time wrote to the king to plead for more liberty. He replied,
"Madame, having understood that you have a wish to visit certain places
of devotion, I am rejoiced thereat. I shall be still more pleased if you
take a resolution to move about and travel henceforward more than you
have done in the past; I consider that it will be of great service to
your health, which is extremely precious to me. If business permitted me
to be of the party, I would accompany you with all my heart." Mary
replied to him with formal assurances of fidelity and obedience; she
promised before God and His angels "to have no correspondence which could
be prejudicial to the king's service, to warn him of all intrigues, which
should come to her knowledge, that were opposed to his will, and to
entertain no design of returning to court save when it should please the
king to give her orders to do so." There was between the king, the
queen-mother, Albert de Luynes, the Duke of Epernon and their agents, an
exchange of letters and empty promises which deceived scarcely anybody,
and which destroyed all confidence as well as all truthfulness between
them. The Duke of Epernon protested that he had no idea of disobeying
the king's commands, but that he thought his presence was more necessary
for the king's service in Angoumois than at Metz. He complained at the
same time that for two years past he had received from the court only the
simple pay of a colonel at ten months for the year, which took it out of
his power to live suitably to his rank. He set out for Metz at the end
of January, 1619, saying, ii I am going to take the boldest step I ever
took in my life."

The queen-mother made her exit from Blois on the night between the 21st
and 22d of February, 1619, by her closet window, against which a ladder
had been placed for the desecnt to the terrace, whence a second ladder
was to enable her to descend right down. On arriving at the terrace she
found herself so fatigued and so agitated, that she declared it would be
impossible to avail herself of the second ladder; she preferred to have
herself let down upon a cloak to the bottom of the terrace, which had a
slight slant. Her two equerries escorted her along the faubourg to the
end of the bridge. Some officers of her household saw her pass without
recognizing her, and laughed at meeting a woman between two men, at night
and with a somewhat agitated air. "They take me for a bona roba," said
the queen. On arriving at the end of the faubourg of Blois, she did not
find her carriage, which was to hwe been waiting for her there. When she
had come up with it, there was a casket missing which contained her
jewels; there was a hundred thousand crowns' worth in it; the casket had
fallen out two hundred paces from the spot; it was recovered, and the
queen-mother got into her carriage and took the road to Loches, where the
Duke of Epernon had been waiting for her since the day before. He came
to meet her with a hundred and fifty horsemen. Nobody in the household
of Mary de'Medici had observed her departure.

Great was the rumors when her escape became known, and greater still when
it was learned in whose hands she had placed herself. It was civil war,
said everybody. At the commencement of the seventeenth century, there
were still two possible and even probable chances of civil war in France;
one between Catholics and Protestants, and the other between what
remained of the great feudal or quasi-feudal lords and the kingship.
Which of the two wars was about to commence? Nobody knew; on one side
there was hesitation; the most contradictory moves were made. Louis
XIII., when he heard of his mother's escape, tried first of all to
disconnect her from the Duke of Epernon. "I could never have imagined,"
said be, "that there was any man who, in time of perfect peace, would
have had the audacity, I do not say to carry out, but to conceive the
resolution of making an attempt upon the mother of his king . . . ; in
order to release you from the difficulty you are in, Madame, I have
determined to take up arms to put you in possession of the liberty of
which your enemies have deprived you." And he marched troops and cannon
to Angoumois. "Many men," says Duke Henry of Rohan, "envied the Duke of
Epernon his gallant deed, but few were willing to submit themselves to
his haughty temper, and everybody, having reason to believe that it would
all end in a peace, was careful not to embark in the affair merely to
incur the king's hatred, and leave to others the honors of the
enterprise." The king's troops were well received wherever they showed
themselves; the towns opened their gates to them. "It needs," said a
contemporary, "mighty strong citadels to make the towns of France obey
their governors when they see the latter disobedient to the king's.
will." Several great lords held themselves carefully aloof; others
determined to attempt an arrangement between the king and his mother; it
was known what influence over her continued to be preserved by the Bishop
of Lucon, still in exile at Avignon; he was pressed to return; his
confidant, Father Joseph du Tremblay, was of opinion that he should; and
Richelieu, accordingly, set out. The governor of Lyons had him arrested
at Vienne in Dauphiny, and was much surprised to find him armed with a
letter from the king, commanding that he should be allowed to pass freely
everywhere. Richelieu was prepared to advise a reconciliation between
king and queen-mother, and the king was as much disposed to exert himself
to that end as the queen-mother's friends. At Limoges the Bishop of
Lucon was obliged to carefully avoid Count Schomberg, commandant of the
royal troops, who was not at all in the secret of the negotiation. When
he arrived at Angers a fresh difficulty supervened. The most daring, of
the queen-mother's domestic advisers, Ruccellai, had conceived a hatred
of the bishop, and tried to exclude him from the privy council.
Richelieu let be, "Certain," as he said, "that they would soon fall back
upon him." He was one of the patient as well as ambitious, who can
calculate upon success, even afar off, and wait for it. The Duke of
Epernon supported him; Ruccellai, defeated, left the queen-mother, taking
with him some of her most warmly attached servants. When the
subordinates were gone, recourse was had, accordingly, to Richelieu. On
the 10th of August, 1619, he concluded at Angouleme between the king and
his mother a treaty, whereby the king promised to consign to oblivion all
that had passed since Blois; the queen-mother consented to exchange her
government of Touraine against that of Anjou; and the Duke of Epernon
received from the town of Boulogne fifty thousand crowns in recompense
for what he had done, and he wrote to the king to protest his fidelity.
The queen-mother still hesitated to see her son; but, at his entreaty,
she at last sent off the Bishop of Lucon from Angouleme to make
preparations for the interview, and, five days afterwards, she set out
herself, accompanied by the Duke of Epernon, who halted at the limits of
his own government, not caring to come to any closer quarters with so
recently reconciled a court. The king received his mother, according to
some, in the little town of Cousieres, and, according to others, at Tours
or Amboise. They embraced, with tears. "God bless me, my boy, how you
are grown!" said the queen. "In order to be of more service to you,
mother," answered the king. The cheers of the people hailed their
reconciliation; not without certain signs of disquietude on the part of
the favorite, Albert de Luynes, who was an eye-witness. After the
interview, the king set out for Paris again; and Mary de' Medici returned
to her government of Anjou to take possession of it, promising, she said,
to rejoin her son subsequently at Paris. Du Plessis-Mornay wrote to one
of his friends at court, "If you do not get the queen along with you, you
have done nothing at all; distrust will increase with absence; the
malcontents will multiply; and the honest servants of the king will have
no little difficulty in managing to live between them."

How to live between mother and son without being committed to one or the
other, was indeed the question. A difficult task. For three months the
courtiers were equal to it; from May to July, 1619, the court and the
government were split in two; the king at Paris or at Tours, the
queen-mother at Angers or at Blois. Two eminent men, Richelieu amongst
the Catholics and Du Plessis-Mornay amongst the Protestants, advised
them strongly and incessantly to unite again, to live and to govern
together. "Apply yourself to winning the king's good graces," said
Richelieu to the queen-mother: "support on every occasion the interests
of the public without speaking of your own; take the side of equity
against that of favor, without attacking the favorites and without
appearing to envy their influence." Mornay used the same language to
the Protestants. "Do not wear out the king's patience," he said to
them: "there is no patience without limits." Louis XIII. listened to
them without allowing himself to be persuaded by them; the warlike
spirit was striving within the young man; he was brave, and loved war as
war rather than for political reasons. The grand provost of Normandy
was advising him one day not to venture in person into his province,
saying, "You will find there nothing but revolt and disagreeables."
"Though the roads were all paved with arms," answered the king, "I would
march over the bellies of my foes, for they have no cause to declare
against me, who have offended nobody. You shall have the pleasure of
seeing it; you served the late king my father too well not to rejoice at
it." The queenmother, on her side, was delighted to see herself
surrounded at Angers by a brilliant court; and the Dukes of Longueville,
of La Tremoille, of Retz, of Rohan, of Mayenne, of Epernon, and of
Nemours, promised her numerous troops and effectual support. She might,
nevertheless, have found many reasons to doubt and wait for proofs. The
king moved upon Normandy; and his quartermasters came to assign quarters
at Rouen. "Where have you left the king?" asked the Duke of
Longueville. "At Pontoise, my lord; but he is by this time far
advanced, and is to sleep to-night at Magny." "Where do you mean to
quarter him here?" asked the duke. "In the house where you are, my
lord." "It is right that I yield him place," said the duke, and the
very same evening took the road back to the district of Caux. It was
under this aspect of public feeling that an embassy from the king and a
pacific mission from Rome came, without any success, to Rangers, and
that on the 4th of July, 1619, a fresh civil war between the king and
the partisans of the queen-mother was declared.

It was short and not very bloody, though pretty vigorously contested.
The two armies met at Ponts de Ce; they had not, either of them, any
orders or any desire to fight; and pacific negotiations were opened at La
Fleche. The queen-mother declared that she had made up her mind to live
henceforth at her son's court, and that all she desired was to leave
honorably the party with which she was engaged. That was precisely the
difficulty. The king also declared himself resolved to receive his
mother affectionately; but he required her to abandon the lords of her
party, and that was what she could not make up her mind to do. In the
unpremeditated conflict that took place at Ponts de Ce, the troops of the
queen-mother were beaten. "They had two hundred men killed or drowned,"
says Bassompierre, "and about as many taken prisoners." This reverse
silenced the queen's scruples; there was clearly no imperative cause for
war between her and the king, and the queen's partisans could not be
blind to the fact that, if the struggle were prolonged, they would be
beaten.

The kingship had the upper hand in the country, and a consent was given
to the desired arrangements. "Assure the king that I will go and see him
to-morrow at Brissac," said the queen-mother. "I am perfectly satisfied
with him, and all I think of is to please him, and pray God for him
personally, and for the prosperity of his kingdom." A treaty was
concluded at Angers on the 10th of August, 1620; the queen-mother
returned to Paris; and the civil war at court was evidently, not put an
end to never to recur, but stricken with feebleness and postponed.

Two men of mark, Albert de Luynes and Richelieu, came out of this crisis
well content. The favorite felicitated himself on the king's victory
over the queen-mother, for he might consider the triumph as his own; he
had advised and supported the king's steady resistance to his mother's
enterprises. Besides, he had gained by it the rank and power of
constable; it was at this period that he obtained them, thanks to the
retirement of Lesdiguieres, who gave them up to assume the title of
marshal-general of the king's camps and armies. The royal favor did not
stop there for Luynes; the keeper of the seals, Du Vair, died in 1621;
and the king handed over the seals to the new constable, who thus united
the military authority with that of justice, without being either a great
warrior or a great lawyer. All he had to do was to wait for an
opportunity of displaying his double power. The defaults of the French
Protestants soon supplied one. In July, 1567, Henry IV.'s mother, Jeanne
d'Albret, on becoming Queen of Navarre, had, at the demand of the Estates
of Bearn, proclaimed Calvinism as the sole religion of her petty kingdom;
all Catholic worship was expressly forbidden there; religious liberty,
which Protestants everywhere invoked, was proscribed in Bearn; moreover,
ecclesiastical property was confiscated there. The Catholics complained,
loudly; the Kings of France were supporters of their plaint; it had been
for a long time past repudiated or eluded; but on the 13th of August,
1620, Louis XIII. issued two edicts for the purpose of restoring in Bearn
free Catholic worship, and making restitution of their property to the
ecclesiastical establishments. The council of Pau, which had at first
repudiated them, hastened to enregister these edicts in the hope of
retarding at least their execution; but the king said, "In two days I
shall be at Pau; you want me there to assist your weakness." He was
asked how he would be received at Pau. "As sovereign of Warn," said he.
"I will dismount first of all at the church, if there be one; but, if
not, I want no canopy or ceremonial entry; it would not become me to
receive honors in a place where I have never been, before giving thanks
to God, from whom I hold all my dominions and all my power." Religious
liberty was thus reestablished at Pau. "It is the king's intention,"
said the Duke of Montmorency to the Protestants of Villeneuve-de-Berg,
who asked that they might enjoy the liberty promised them by the edicts,
"that all his subjects, Catholic or Protestant, be equally free in the
exercise of their religion; you shall not be hindered in yours, and I
will take good care that you do not hinder the Catholics in theirs." The
Duke of Montmorency did not foresee that the son and successor of the
king in whose name he was so energetically proclaiming religious liberty,
Louis XIV., would abolish the edict of Nantes whereby his grandfather,
Henry IV., had founded it. Justice and iniquity are often all but
contemporary.

It has just been said that not only Luynes, but Richelieu too, had come
well content out of the crisis brought about by the struggle between
Louis XIII. and the queen-mother. Richelieu's satisfaction was neither
so keen nor so speedy as the favorite's. Pope Paul V. had announced, for
the 11th of January, 1621, a promotion of ten cardinals. At the news of
this, the queen-mother sent an express courier to Rome with an urgent
demand that the Bishop of Lucon should be included in the promotion. The
Marquis of Coeuvres, ambassador of France at Rome, insisted rather
strongly, in the name of the queen-mother and of the Duke of Luynes, from
whom he showed the pope some very pressing letters. The pope, in
surprise, gave him a letter to read in the handwriting of King Louis
XIII., saying that he did not at all wish the Bishop of Lucon to become
cardinal, and begging that no notice might be taken of any
recommendations which should be forwarded on the subject. The
ambassador, greatly surprised in his turn, ceased to insist. It was
evidently the doing of the Duke of Luynes, who, jealous of the Bishop of
Lucon and dreading his influence, had demanded and obtained from the king
this secret measure. It was effectual; and, at the beginning of the year
1621, Richelieu had but a vague hope of the hat. He had no idea, when he
heard of this check, that at the end of a few months Luynes would undergo
one graver still, would die almost instantaneously after having practised
a policy analogous to that which Richelieu was himself projecting, and
would leave the road open for him to obtain the cardinal's hat, and once
more enter into the councils of the king, who, however, said to the
queen-mother, "I know him better than you, madame; he is a man of
unbounded ambition."

The two victories won in 1620 by the Duke of Luynes, one over the
Protestants by the re-establishment in Warn of free worship for the
Catholics, and the other over his secret rival Richelieu, by preventing
him from becoming cardinal, had inspired him with great confidence in his
good fortune. He resolved to push it with more boldness than he had yet
shown. He purposed to subdue the Protestants as a political party whilst
respecting their religious creed, and to reduce them to a condition of
subjection in the state whilst leaving them free, as Christians, in the
church. A fundamentally contradictory problem; for the different
liberties are closely connected, one with another, and have need to be
security one for another; but, at the commencement of the seventeenth
century, people were not so particular in point of consequence, and it
was thought possible to give religious liberty its guarantees whilst
refusing them to general political liberty. That is what the Duke of
Luynes attempted to do; to all the towns to which Henry IV. had bound
himself by the edict of Nantes, he made a promise of preserving to them
their religious liberties, and he called upon them at the same time to
remain submissive and faithful subjects of the sovereign kingship. La
Rochelle, Montauban, Saumur, Sancerre, Charite-sur-Loire, and St. Jean
d'Angely were in this category; and it was to Montauban, as one of the
most important of those towns, that Louis XIII. first addressed his
promise and his appeal, inconsistent one with the other.



Online LibraryFrançois Pierre Guillaume GuizotA Popular History of France from the Earliest Times, Volume 5 → online text (page 14 of 57)