Hugh Noel Williams.

A princess of intrigue, Anne Geneviève de Bourbon, Duchesse de Longueville, and her times. [Microform] online

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to been distinguished from the nobles of his Court
by the simplicity and even negligence of his attire,
might now be seen dressing and adorning himself with
as much care as the youngest and most dandified of
his courtiers, and, on one occasion, he appeared at a
tilting-match wearing " a scented ruff; a doublet with
sleeves of Chinese satin, and the colours of the Princesse
de Conde, who called him * her knight.* '* ^ " The King
is well and grows younger every day," wrote Malherbe
to his friend Peiresc.

The unfortunate husband began " to play the devil "
again, and, though Henri, in the hope of bending
him to his will, had the meanness to give orders that
the quarter of his pension due at Midsummer should
not be paid him, and to threaten him with even
more severe measures unless he mended his ways,
his complaints grew louder than ever. Violent scenes
took place between him and the King, in one of
* Tallemant des R6auz, Historiettes.

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A Princess of Intrig^ue n

which Conde allowed the word " tyranny *' to escape
him, and his Majesty, losing all control of himself,
replied that the only occasion on which he had merited
such a reproach was when he had recognised the
prince for what he was not — that is to say, a legitimate

Finally, Conde took his wife back to Valery, and
though Henri used every means in his power to induce
him to return, it was to no purpose. "Beaumont,"
writes the King to the Constable, on September 23,
" returned yesterday and says that he found our friend
more unmanageable than ever. He leaves Valery this
morning for Muret."*

Muret was a ch&teau belonging to Cond£ in Picardy,
not far from the Flemish frontier, and the princess
pretext for removing thither was the excellent hunting
which the neighbourhood afforded. Early in Novem-
ber, he and his wife went to join a hunting party at
the Abbey of Verteuil, and, while they were there,
M. de Traigny, Governor of Amiens, invited the
Princesse de Conde and the princess-dowager, who
was with her, to dine at his country-house, which
was situated some three leagues from the abbey.
We will allow Lenet, the faithful servant of the
Cond6s, who had the story from the princess's own
lips, to relate what followed :

"It would seem very much as though this party
had been concerted with the King, but he was at
any rate informed of it by the Sieur de Traigny,
* Cited by the Due d'Aumale, Histoire des Princes de Condi,

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12 A Princess of Intrigfue

who always abetted him in his pleasures, so that the
princesses, while on their way thither, saw a carriage
pass with the King's liveries and a great number of
hounds. The princess-mother, who was passionately
attached to her son, and watched the actions of the
young princess very narrowly, feared that, under the
pretext of some hunting excursion, the King had
prepared for them a rendezvous. She summoned
the huntsmen, whom she saw at a distance ; but one
of them, advancing before the others, came to the
door of the coach to answer the princess's questions,
and disarmed her fears, by telling her that a captain
of the hunt, who was in the neighbourhood to cele-
brate the feast of St. Hubert, had placed the relays
where she saw them, because he was hunting a stag
with some of his friends. Whilst the princess-dowager
was speaking to the huntsman, the young princess,
who was at the coach-door, glanced at the others,
who stood some little distance off, and perceived that
one of them was the King, who, the better to disguise
himself under the livery he wore, had put a large
black patch over his left eye and held two greyhounds
in a leash. The princess told us that she had never
been more astonished in her life, and that she did not
dare to mention what she had seen to her mother-in-
law, for fear that she should inform her husband.
At the same time, she confessed to us that this
gallantry had not displeased her, and, continuing her
story, she told us that, having arrived at Traigny and
entered the salon, she remarked upon the extreme

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A Princess of Intrigtse 13

beauty of the view, whereupon Madame de Traigny
said to her that, if she cared to put her head out of
a window which she would show her, she would see
one still more agreeable. Advancing to it, she per-
ceived that the King was placed at the window of
a pavilion opposite, he having preceded her after
having had the pleasure of seeing her on the road,
and that he held all the time one hand to his lips,
as though to send her a kiss, and the other to his heart,
to show her that he had been wounded.

" The surprise of this rencontre did not allow the
princess time to reflect what she should do, and she
retired abruptly from the window, exclaiming, * del !
what is this ? Madame, the King is here I * On
which the princess-dowager, greatly incensed, divided
her words between giving directions for the horses to
be immediately harnessed to her coach and loading
Traigny and his wife with reproaches. Even the
King, who hastened to the spot on hearing the com-
motion, did not escape her anger. The enamoured
prince employed all the entreaties which his passion
could dictate and all the promises possible to induce
her to remain, but to no purpose ; for the princesses
re-entered their coach and returned forthwith to
Verteuil, where that same night the princess-mother
broke the promise which the King had extracted from
her, and related the whole story to her son."*

A few days later, Cond6 received a letter from the
King, written in a strain half-coaxing and half-
' Mimoires de Lenet

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14 A Princess of Intrigfue

menacing, summoning him to Court, to be present at
the approaching accouchement of the Queen. Etiquette
required that the first Prince of the Blood should
be in attendance on these auspicious occasions, and it
was impossible for him to refuse. But he came alone.
Henri was furious, and his anger rendered him so
insupportable to all about him, that Marie de* Medici
herself begged Cond£ to send for his wife, promising
to keep the strictest watch over her. Such was the
King's wrath that he apparently could not trust himself
to interview his cousin personally, but sent for the
prince's secretary, Virey, and bade him tell his master
that, if he declined to yield to his will or attempted
the slightest violence against the princess, he would
give him cause to rue it. He added that, had he
been still only King of Navarre, he would at once
have challenged the prince to a duel.

After receiving the King's message, Condi decided
to feigp submission, and accordingly begged his
Majesty's leave to return to Muret to fetch his wife.
His request, as we may suppose, was readily granted,
and on November 25 — the day on which the ill-fated
Henrietta Maria was born — he set out for Picardy.

On the evening of the 29th, while Henri was at

the card-table, word was brought him that a messenger

had arrived from Picardy, with intelligence that Monsieur

le Prince ^ had early that morning left Muret, in a coach

" At the French Court, the first Prince of the Blood was always
called Monsieur le Prince^ his wife, Madame la Princesse^ and their
eldest son, Monsieur le Due; the King's eldest brother, Monsieur, his
wife, Madamet and their eldest daughter, Mademoiselle, Of the Kind's

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A Princess of Intrigtse 15

with his wife, accompanied by his chamberlain, the
Baron de Rochefort, Virey, and two of the princess's
ladies. Condi had given out that they were bound on
a hunting expedition ; but the messenger — an archer
of the Guard named Laperrifere — had learned from his
father, who was in the prince's service, that the party
had taken the road to Flanders.

The consternation of the King knew no bounds. He
at once summoned his most trusted counsellors, and as
each arrived, hurried up to him, to inform him of what
had occurred, and to ask for his advice. Sully advised
his master to let the matter rest, pointing out that, in
that case, the prince, being unable to draw his pension,
would soon be reduced to sue for terms, whereas, if
Henri showed anxiety to get him back, the enemies of
France would be only too ready to assist him, in order
to spite the King.

The infatuated monarch, however, was in no mood
to follow such counsel, and forthwith wrote to the
Governors of Marie and Guise, directing them to send
the whole strength of their garrisons to capture Condi,
"wherever he might be," and despatched La Chaussie,
an officer of his Guards, with orders to pursue the
prince, even over the frontier. La Chaussie came up
with the fugitives at Landrecies, the first Spanish fortress
in Flanders, which they had reached in the early morn-
ing of the 30th. Since leaving Muret, they had only

daughters, the eldest was known as Madame Royale ; the others were
refened to by their Christian names prefixed by *' Madame" — Madame
Elisabeth, Madame Margu^te, and so forth.

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1 6 A Princess of Intrig:ue

rested for a few minutes at a village inn ; the almost
impassable state of the roads had compelled them to
abandon their coach before crossing the Somme, and
the unfortunate princess had passed fifteen hours on
the crupper of Rochefort*s saddle, under a continuous
downpour of rain.

La Chaussie produced the royal warrant for the
arrest of Condi, but the authorities of Landrecies
refused to allow it to be executed until they had
referred the matter to the Archdukes.* Rochefort, at
the prince's request, was permitted to proceed to
Brussels, to beg the Archdukes to grant his master a
safe-conduct through their dominions, in order that he
might visit his sister, the Princess of Orange,^ at
Breda, An envoy from Henri IV. arrived almost
simultaneously, to denounce the prince as a traitor and
an enemy to the public peace, and to request their
Highnesses to permit his arrest or at least not to grant
him an asylum in Flanders.

The Archdukes found themselves in a very em-
barrassing position, and took refuge in a compromise.
They declined to allow the rights of nations to be
violated by the arrest of Cond6, and granted his wife

^ In May, 1598, Philip II. had ceded the Netherlands, Franche-Comt6,
and the Charolais to his daughter Isabella. The Archduke Albert,
brother of the Emperor Rudolph, at that time Governor of the
Netherlands, renounced Holy Orders in order to marry the princess ;
and the pair had since exercised a sort of vice-regal authority, vrith
very extensive powers. Their contemporaries always called them
" The Archdukes."

* £leonore de Bourbon, bom April 30, 1 587 ; married to Philip
William of Nassau, eldest son of William the Silent, Prince of

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A Princess of Intrigfue 17

permission to continue her journey, but ordered the
prince to quit the Netherlands within three days.

Condi at once set out for Cologne, leaving the
princess to proceed to Brussels, in charge of the faithful
Virey. She took up her quarters at the Hotel de
Nassau, the residence of the Princess of Orange, who,
warned by a letter from her brother, had hastened from
Breda to receive her.

Towards the end of December, the Archdukes, at
Henri IV. 's request, summoned Condi to Brussels and
used every endeavour to persuade him to return to
France. This the prince expressed himself willing to
do, if guaranteed a place of surety in his government
of Guienne. The King, however, refused even to con-
sider such a proposal, and insisted on his immediate and
unconditional return, promising him only a free pardon.
At the instance of Spinola,^ who had gained consider-
able ascendency over him, and perceived that he might
be utilized as a very valuable instrument against
Prance, Cond6 thereupon decided to appeal to the
King of Spain for protection. The Council of State at
Madrid was unanimously of opinion that his request
should be acceded to, and Philip III., accordingly,
charged his Ambassador at the French Court, Don
Inigo de Cardenas, to inform Henri IV. that he had
taken the Prince de Cond6 under his protection, " with
the object of acting as a mediator in the matter, and

' Spinola, who had come to the Netheriands, in 1602, at the head of
a force maintained, like the old condottiiri^ at his own expense, had,
after his reduction of Ostend, been given the conmiand of all the Spanish
and Italian troops in Flanders.

VOL. I. 2

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1 8 A Princess of Intrigut

contributing everything in his power towards the repose
and happiness of the Most Christian King." The
remainder of the despatch, however, leaves no doubt
that his Catholic Majesty was animated by very different
sentiments towards Henri IV. from those which Don
Inigo was instructed to express.* At the same time,
Philip wrote to Conde to assure him of his sympathy,
and despatched one of his Council, the Count de
Anovar, to Brussels, with instructions to watch over the
interests of the prince, who, on his side, engaged to
make no terms with Henri IV. without the consent of

In the meanwhile, the old Connitable de Mont-
morency, either because he really believed the reports
which were being industriously circulated by the
French agents in Brussels that Condi was ill-treating
his wife, or, more probably, out of dishonourable
servility to the King, had intervened in the affair, and
despatched to Flanders one of his relatives, Louis de
Montmorency-Boutteville, father of the unfortunate
gentleman whose execution for duelling caused such a
sensation seventeen years later. Boutteville was the
bearer of a letter to the Archdukes, in which the
Constable complained bitterly of the alleged sufferings
of his daughter, and besought their Highnesses to
restore his beloved child to him. His request was
refused, and the reports as to Condi's ill-treatment of
his wife would appear to have been altogether devoid

* Papiers de Simancas, cited by the Due d'Aumalc, Histoire des
Princes de Condi,

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A Princess of Intris^ie 19

of foundation. Nevertheless, the young princess, who
had little love for her husband and naturally resented
the strict surveillance to which she was subjected, was
becoming more and more dissatisfied with her life at
Brussels. Moreover, intrigues of all kinds were at
work to further Henri's odious designs. The wife of
the French Ambassador at Brussels, Brulart de Berny,
visited Madame la Princesse constantly and enlarged on
the glories of which she was deprived by her husband's
jealousy ; two of her waiting-women had been bribed,
and added their persuasion to those of the Ambassa-
dress ; while Girard, a secretary of the Constable,
was continually travelling to and fro between Paris,
Chantilly, and Brussels, bearing letters and instructions.
Towards the end of January, 16 10, Henri IV.
despatched an envoy extraordinary to Brussels in the
person of Annibal d'Estries, Marquis de Coeuvres,
brother of the beautiful and ill-fated Gabrielle.
Coeuvres very speedily perceived that there was small
likelihood of being able to persuade the Archdukes to
surrender the princess to her relatives, or rather to the
King, and, on February 9, wrote to his Majesty to
obtain his consent to a plan which he had formed for
the abduction of the young lady. Henri immediately
sent the required authorization, but, unfortunately for
the success of the enterprise, the near prospect of once
more beholding the object of his passion transported
him to such a degree, that he was quite unable to
conceal his joyous anticipations, either from his en-
tourage or even from his long-suffering consort. The

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20 A Princess cit Ii^trisfue

jealous Queen took advantage of this indiscretion to
acquaint the Nuncio Ubaldini, a devoted friend of
the Medici family, with what was in the wind ; the
Nuncio, in his turn, communicated the news to the
Spanish Ambassador, who lost no time in sending off
a courier to Brussels to put Spinola on his guard.

Spinola, fearing lest Cond^, if informed of the
proposed abduction of his wife, might create a scan-
dal, contented himself with arousing his suspicions
sufficiently to induce him to beg the Archdukes to
receive the princess into their own palace. To this
their Highnesses readily consented, and February 14
was fixed for the departure of Madame la Princesse
and her attendants from the Hotel de Nassau.

CoBuvres was naturally much disconcerted on learn-
ing of this change of residence, and recognising that,
were the lady once within the walls of the archducai
palace, any such measures as he was contemplating
would be foredoomed to fsulure, determined to make
his attempt on the night of the 13th. His plan was
a bold one. The Princesse de Condi's apartments
abutted on the garden of the Hotel de Nassau, which
was separated from the ramparts only by a narrow
street. Under cover of the confusion and bustle
which the preparations for her removal on the morrow
would be sure to entdl, she was to descend, or be
carried, into the garden, pass through it, and gain the
street. A breach sufficient to admit of her egress was
to be made in the ramparts, and on the far side of
the moat, which was empty at this time, a body of

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A Princess of Inttigat 21

horse, under the command of Longueval de Manicamp,
Governor of La Fire, would be waiting to escort her
to the frontier, while another troop would cover their
flight. Some difference of opinion seems to exist as
to whether the lady herself was privy to this scheme ;
but the fact that one of her waiting-women had carried
that afternoon to the French Embassy a quantity of
her mistress's clothes would certainly seem to point
to her complicity.

It was only a few hours before the moment fixed for
the execution of Gsuvres's design that Spinola learned
of his intentions, through the treachery of a French
adventurer in the marquis's pay. This time he felt
obliged to inform G>nde, who hastened to the Arch-
dukes to demand a guard, after which, beside himself
with anger and excitement, he hurried hither and
thither, calling upon every one he met to assist him
to protect his wife. Soon the Hotel de Nassau was
surrounded by soldiers, reinforced by five hundred
armed citizens^ whom the Prince of Orange had pro-
cured from the Burgomaster, while cavalry, preceded
by torch-bearers, patrolled the neighbouring streets.
These warlike preparations brought almost the whole
city to the spot, and " bred one of the greatest tumults
ever known in Brussels ; and it was commonly re-
ported and believed that the King of France was
himself in person at the gates to carry away the
princess by force." ^

That same day, about three o'clock in the afternoon,
^ Cardinal Bentivoglio, RtloMwm,

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22 A Princess of Intrigfue

Henri IV. had left Paris "very jovial and much
bedecked, contrary to his usual custom/* accompanied
by four coaches, " to go to meet his nymph," ^ and
proceeded to Sjunt-Germain-en-Laye. But the nymph
did not arrive, and, in her stead, came a mud-bespattered
courier with the news of the failure of the attempt.
The discomfited monarch returned to Paris, in a very
ill humour, and wrote a most unkind letter to Coeuvres,
whom he stigmatized as '^ a blockhead and a fool."

That enterprising nobleman had, it would appear,
very narrowly escaped capture, having actually entered
the Hotel de Nassau before he learned that he had
been betrayed. However, being possessed of a large
fund of assurance, he determined to brave the matter
out, and early the following morning presented himself
at the palace of the Archdukes, to complain of the
insult put upon the King his master by the precautionary
measures adopted the previous evening, and of the
calumnious reports that were being circulated concerning
himself. The Archduke Albert replied that he
himself had given no credit to these reports, but that,
as the Prince de Cond£ had insisted on the necessity
for a guard, he had felt obliged to accede to his

On leaving the palace, Coeuvres, accompanied by
the French Ambassador, the Sieur de Priaulx,
counsellor to the Parlcment of Paris, and Manicamp,

* Letter of Jehan Simon, secretary to the Flemish Ambassador
in Paris, to Pretorius, Secretary of State at Brussels, February 20, 1610,
published by Henrard, Henri IV, et la Frincesse de Condi,

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A Princess of Intrigfue 23

Governor of La Fire, proceeded to the Hotel de
Nassau, where, with much solemnity, he presented to
Conde a formal indictment, declaring him guilty of
high treason, unless he forthwith made his submission
to the King. To this indictment the prince im-
mediately drew up a reply, wherein he affirmed that
" he had left France to save his life and his honour ;
that he was prepared to return, if any offer should
be made him which would enable him to reside there
in security ; that he would live and die faithful to the
King ; but that, when the King should stray from
the ways of justice and should proceed against him
by the ways of violence, he held all such acts as
should be done against him null and invalid." This
dociunent he sent to Coeuvres, who, however, refused
to receive it.^

After this, Conde, fearing or feigning to fear, that it
was now no longer safe for him to remain in the
Netherlands, determined, on the advice of Spinola
and the Spanish Ambassador at Brussels, to seek an
asylum at Milan. Accordingly, having exacted a
solemn promise from the Archdukes that his wife
should not quit their palace without his consent, on
February 21 he left Brussels secretly, in disguise,
accompanied by Rochefort, Virey, and one of Spinola*s
officers named Fritima, who was to act as guide and
interpreter. The season was an unusually severe
one, and the travellers suffered many hardships, but

* Due d'Aumalc, HisUnre des Princes de Condi, Cardinal Beoti-
Toglio, Relaxioni.

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24 A Princess of Intrig:ue

on the last day of March they reached Milan in

The Spaniards attached great importance to the
possession of G>nd6*s person, for, as first Prince of
the Blood and next in succession to the King's children,
he might prove of the highest value to them in
exciting troubles in France, should Henri IV. persist in
his hostile projects against Spain, while, in the event
of negotiations, his extradition might be dearly sold.
In accordance with instructions from Madrid, the
prince was received by the Spanish Governor, Fuentes,
with every possible honour, lodged in the ducal
palace, and a numerous household appointed to wait
upon him.

Henri IV. and his Ministers, finding persuasion of
no avail with the Archdukes, had recourse to threats,
and represented to them that, unless the fair Charlotte
were surrendered, war would follow. ** The repose of
Europe rests in your masters* hands,*' said the President
Jeannin to Pecquius, the Ambassador of the Arch-
dukes in Paris ; " peace and war depend on whether
the princess is or is not given up." And the King
himself reminded him that Troy fell because Priam
would not surrender Helen.

The gravity of these speeches was enhanced by the
warlike preparations which were going on all over France
for the execution of the "Great Enterprise : " the
scheme of liberating Europe from the domination of
the House of Austria, and giving France her rightful
place in the world, which Henri IV. had cherished

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A Princess of Inttigae 25

ever since his accession to the throne. It was, however,
believed hy many that these formidable preparations
had no other object than the forcible recovery of the
Princesse de G>nd6, and Malherbe wrote :

Deux beaux yeux sont rempire
Pour qui je soupire.

Such, undoubtedly, was the opinion of the Spanish
Ambassador. ^^ The King is so blinded and infatuated
by his passion/' he writes to Philip III., " that I
know not what to say to your Majesty concerning it,
and, if I find many reasons for holding peace to be
secure, in r^^arding aflairs from a political standpoint,
I find many more for holding war to be certain on the
ground of love." He goes on to say that he is
informed that the King's infatuation has reached such
a point that he is ready to sacrifice everything to it.
His health is much afFected by it ; he has lost his
sleep, and some persons believe that he is losing his
reason. And he adds that he is in daily expectation
of seeing Henri IV. marching on Brussels at the head

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Online LibraryHugh Noel WilliamsA princess of intrigue, Anne Geneviève de Bourbon, Duchesse de Longueville, and her times. [Microform] → online text (page 2 of 23)