John S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) Abbott.

History of Henry the Fourth, king of France and Navarre online

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was grievously wounded, and was lying upon a
couch in great anguish. Under these circum-
stances, thirteen days after receiving his wound,
he thus wrote to his children :

" We should not repose on earthly posses-
sions. Let us place our hope beyond the earth.



1569.] The Maeriage. 73

The third army. The tide of victoiy changed.

and acquire other treasures than those which we
see with our eyes and touch with our hands.
We must follow Jesus our leader, who has gone
before us. Men have ravished us of what they
could. If such is the will of God, we shall be
happy and our condition good, since we endure
this loss from no wrong you have done those
who have brought it to you, but solely for the
hate they have borne me because God was
pleased to direct me to assist his Church. For
the present, it is enough to admonish and con-
jure you, in the name of God, to persevere cour-
ageously in the study of virtue."

In the course of a few weeks Coligni rose
from his bed, and the Catholics were amazed to
find him at the head of a third army. The in-
domitable Queen of Navarre, with the calm en-
ergy which ever signalized her character, had
rallied the fugitives around her, and had reani-
mated their waning courage by her own invinci-
ble spirit. N'obles and peasants from all the
mountains of Beam, and from every province in
France, thronged to the Protestant camp. Con-
flict after conflict ensued. The tide of victory
now turned in favor of the Reformers. Henry,
absolutely refusing any longer to retire from the
perils of the field, engaged with the utmost cool-



74 KiNa Henry IV. [1570.

The treaty of St. Germaine-en-Laye.

ness, judgment, and yet impetuosity in all the
toils and dangers of the battle. The Protest-
ant cause gained strength. The Catholics were
disheartened. Even Catharine became con-
vinced that the extermination of the Protest-
ants by force was no longer possible. So once
more they offered conditions of peace, which
were promptly accepted. These terms, which
were signed at St. Germaine-en-Laye the 8th
of August, 1570, were more favorable than the
preceding. The Protestants were allowed lib-
erty of worship in all the places then in their
possession. They were also allowed public wor-
ship in two towns in each province of the king-
dom. They were permitted to reside any where
without molestation, and were declared eligible
to any public office.

Coligni, mourning over the untold evils and
miseries of war, wdth alacrity accepted these con-
ditions. " Sooner than fall back into these dis-
turbances," said he, " I would choose to die a
thousand deaths, and be dragged through the
streets of Paris."

The queen, however, and her advisers were
guilty of the most extreme perfidy in this truce.
It was merely their object to induce the foreign
troops who had come to the aid of the allies to



1570.J The Maeeiage. 75

Perfidy of Catharine. The court at Eochelle.

leave the kingdom, that they might then ex-
terminate the Protestants by a general massa-
cre. Catharine decided to accomplish bj the
dagger of the assassin that which she had in
vain attempted to accomplish on the field of bat-
tle. This peace was but the first act in the
awful tragedy of St. Bartholomew.

Peace being thus apparently restored, the
young Prince of Navarre now returned to his
hereditary domains and visited its various prov-
inces, where he was received with the most live-
ly demonstrations of affection. Various circum-
stances, however, indicated to the Protestant
leaders that some mysterious and treacherous
plot was forming for their destruction. The
Protestant gentlemen absented themselves, con-
sequently, from the court of Charles IX. The
Idng and his mother were mortified by these ev-
idences that their perfidy was suspected.

Jeanne, with her son, after visiting her sub-
jects in all parts of her own dominions, went to
Rochelle, where they were joined by many of
the most illustrious of their friends. Large
numbers gathered around them, and the court
of the Queen of Navarre was virtually transfer-
red to that place. Thus there were two rival
courts, side by side, in the same kingdom. Cath-



76 King Henry IV. [1570.

The two courts. Marriage of Elizabeth.

arine, with her courtiers, exhibited boundless
luxury and voluptuousness at Paris. Jeanne
d'Albret, at Kochelle, embellished her court with
all that was noble in intellect, elegant in man-
ners, and pure in morals. Catharine - and her
submissive son Charles IX. left nothing untried
to lure the Protestants into a false security.
Jeanne scrupulously requited the courtesies she
received from Catharine, though she regarded
with much suspicion the adulation and the syco-
phancy of her proud hostess.

The young King of France, Charles IX., who
was of about the same age with Henry, and who
had been his companion and playmate in child-
hood, was now married to Elizabeth, the daugh-
ter of the Emperor Maximilian II. of Austria.
Their nuptials were celebrated with all the os-
tentatious pomp which the luxury of the times
and the opulence of the French monarchy could
furnish. In these rejoicings the courts of France
and Navarre participated with the semblance of
the most heartfelt cordiality. Protestants and
Catholics, pretending to forget that they had
recently encountered each other with fiendlike
fury in fields of blood, mingled gayly in these
festivities, and vied with each other in the ex-
change of courtly greetings and polished flatter-



1571.] The Marriage. 77

The Princess Marguerite. Effects of the connection.

ies. Catharine and Charles IX. lavished, with
the utmost profusion, their commendations and
attentions upon the young Prince of Navarre,
and left no arts of dissimulation unessayed
which might disarm the fears and win the con-
fidence of tlieir victims.

The queen mother, with caressing fondness,
declared that Henry must be her son. She
would confer upon him Marguerite, her youngest
daughter. This princess had now become a
young lady, beautiful in the extreme, and high-
ly accomplished in all those graces which can
kindle the fires and feed the flames of passion ;
but she was also as devoid of principle as any
male libertine who contaminated by his pres-
ence a court whose very atmosphere was cor-
ruption. Many persons of royal blood had most
earnestly sought the hand of this princess, for
an alliance with the royal family of France was
an honor which the proudest sovereigns might
covet. Such a connection, in its political as-
pects, was every thing Henry could desire. It
would vastly augment the consideration and the
power of the young prince, and would bring him
a long step nearer to the throne of France. The
Protestants were all intensely interested in this
match, as it would invest one, destined soon to



78 King Henky IV. [1571.

A royal match. Eepugnance of Jeanne d'Albret.

become their most prominent leader, with new
ability to defend their rights and to advocate
their cause. It is a singular illustration of the
hopeless corruption of the times, that the noto-
rious profligacy of Marguerite seems to have
been considered, even by Henry himself, as no
obstacle to the union.

A royal marriage is ordinarily but a matter
of state policy. Upon the cold and icy emi-
nence of kingly life the flowers of sympathy and
affection rarely bloom. Henry, without hesita-
tion, acquiesced in the expediency of this nup-
tial alliance. He regarded it as manifestly a
very politic partnership, and did not concern
himself in the least about the agreeable or dis-
agreeable qualities of his contemplated spouse.
He had no idea of making her his companion,
much less his friend. She was to be merely
his loife,

Jeanne d'Albret, however, a woman of sincere
piety, and in whose bosom all noble thoughts
were nurtured, cherished many misgivings. Her
Protestant principles caused her to shrink from
tlie espousals of her son with a Eoman Catho-
lic. Her religious scruples, and the spotless
purity of her character, aroused the most lively
emotions of repugnance in view of her son's



1571.] The Markiage. 79

Objections overcome. Perjury of Charles IX.

connection with one who had not even the mod-
esty to conceal her vices. State considerations,
however, finally prevailed, and Jeanne, waving
her objections, consented to the marriage. She
yielded, however, with the greatest reluctance,
to the unceasing importunities of her friends.
They urged that this marriage would unite the
two parties in a solid peace, and thus protect
the Protestants from persecution, and rescue
France from unutterable woe. Even the Ad-
miral Coligni was deceived. But the result
proved, in this case as in every other, that it is
never safe to do evil that good may come. If
any fact is established under the government of
God, it is this.

The Queen of Navarre, in her extreme re-
pugnance to this match, remarked,

" I would choose to descend to the condition
of the poorest damsel in France rather than sac-
rifice to the grandeur of my family my own soul
and that of my son." ^

With consummate perjury, Charles IX. de-
clared, " I give my sister in marriage, not only
to the Prince of Navarre, but, as it were, to the
whole Protestant party. This will be the stron-
gest and closest bond for the maintenance of
peace between my subjects, and a sure evidence
of my good- will toward the Protestants."



80 KiNa Henry IV. [1571.

Displays of friendship. Indifference of Marguerite.

Thus influenced, this noWe woman consent-
ed to the union. She then went to Blois to
meet Catharine and the king. They received
her with exuberant displays of love. The fool-
ish king quite overacted his part, calling her
" his great aunt, his all, his best beloved." As
the Queen of Navarre retired for the night,
Charles said to Catharine, laughing,

"Well, mother, what do you think of it?
Do I play m.y little part well ?"

" Yes," said Catharine, encouragingly, " very
well; but it is of no use unless it continues."

"Allow me to go on," said the king, "and
you will see that I shall ensnare them."

The young Princess Marguerite, heartless,
proud, and petulant, received the cold addresses
of Henry with still more chilling indifference.
She refused to make even the slightest conces-
sions to his religious views, and, though she
made no objection to the decidedly politic part-
nership, she very ostentatiously displayed her
utter disregard for Henry and his friends. The
haughty and dissolute beauty w^as piqued by
the reluctance which Jeanne had manifested to
an alliance which Marguerite thought should
have been regarded as the very highest of all
earthly honors. Preparations were, however,



1571.] The Marriage. 81

Preparations for the wedding. Death of Jeanne.

made for the marriage ceremony, wliich was to
be performed in the French capital with unex-
ampled splendor. The most distinguished gen-
tlemen of the Protestant party, nobles, states-
men, warriors, from all parts of the realm, w^ere
invited to the metropolis, to add lustre to the
festivities by their presence. Many, however,
of the wisest counselors of the Queen of Na-
varre, deeply impressed with the conviction of
the utter perfidy of Catharine, and apprehend-
ing some deep-laid plot, remonstrated against
the acceptance of the invitations, presaging that,
"if the wedding were celebrated in Paris, the
liveries would be very crimson."

Jeanne, solicited by the most pressing letters
from Catharine and her son Charles IX., and
urged by her courtiers, who were eager to share
the renowned pleasures of the French metropo-
lis, proceeded to Paris. She had hardly enter-
ed the sumptuous lodgings provided for her in
the court of Catharine, when she was seized
with a violent fever, which raged in her veins
nine days, and then she died. In death she
manifested the same faith and fortitude which
had embellished her life. Not a murmur or a
groan escaped her lips in the most violent par-
oxysms of pain. She had no desire to live ex-
F



82 King Heney IV. [1572.

Demonstrations of grief. Different reports.

cept from maternal solicitude for her children,
Hemy and Catharine.

"But God," said she, "will be their father
and protector, as he has been mine in mj great-
est afflictions. I confide them to his provi-
dence."

She died in June, 1572, in the forty-fourth
year of her age. Catharine exhibited the most
ostentatious and extravagant demonstrations of
grief. Charles gave utterance to loud and
poignant lamentations, and ordered a surgeon to
examine the body, that the cause of her death
might be ascertained. Notwithstanding these
efforts to allay suspicion, the report spread like
wiklfire through all the departments of France,
and all the Protestant countries of Europe, that
the queen had been perfidiously poisoned by
Catharine. The Protestant writers of the time
assert that she fell a victim to poison communi-
cated by a pair of perfumed gloves. The Cath-
olics as confidently affirm that she died of a
natural disease. The truth can now never be
known till the secrets of all hearts shall be re-
vealed at the judgment day.

Henry, with his retinue, was slowly travel-
ing toward Paris, unconscious of his mother's
sickness, when the unexpected tidings arrived



1572.] The Marriage. 83

The King of Navarre. Indifference.

of her deatli. It is difficult to imagine what
must have been the precise nature of the emo-
tions of an ambitious young man in such an
event, who ardently loved both his mother and
the crown which she wore, as by the loss of the
one he gained the other. The cloud of his grief
was embellished with the gilded edgings of joy.
The Prince of Beam now assumed the title and
the style of the King of Navarre, and honored
the memory of his noble mother with every man-
ifestation of regret and veneration. This mel-
ancholy event caused the postponement of the
marriage ceremony for a short time, as it was
not deemed decorous that epithalamiums should
be shouted and requiems chanted from the
same lips in the same hour. The knell tolling
the burial of the dead would not blend harmo-
niously with the joyous peals of the marriage
bell. Henry was not at all annoyed by this de-
lay, for no impatient ardor urged him to his
nuptials. Marguerite, annoyed by the opposi-
tion which Henry's mother had expressed in
regard to the alliance, and vexed by the utter
indifference which her betrothed manifested to-
ward her person, indulged in all the wayward
humors of a worse than spoiled child. She stu-
diously displayed her utter disregard for Hen-



84 KiNa Henry IV. [1572.

Coligni lured to Paris. He is remonstrated with.

ry, which manifestations, with the most provok-
ing indifference, he did not seem even to notice.

During this short interval the Protestant no-
bles continued to flock to Paris, that they might
honor with their presence the marriage of the
young chief. The Admiral Coligni was, by
very special exertions on the part of Catharine
and Charles, lured to the metropolis. He had
received anonymous letters warning him of his
danger. Many of his more prudent friends
openly remonstrated against his placing himself
in the power of the perfidious queen. Coligni,
however, was strongly attached to Henry, and,
in defiance of all these warnings, he resolved to
attend his nuptials. " I confide," said he, "in
the sacred word of his majesty."

Upon his arrival in the metropolis, Catharine
and Charles lavished upon him the most un-
bounded manifestations of regard. The king,
embracing the admiral, exclaimed, " This is the
happiest day of my life." Very soon one of
the admiral's friends called upon him to take
leave, saying that he was immediately about to
retire into the country. When asked by the
admiral the cause of his unexpected departure,
he replied, "I go because they caress you too
much, and I would rather save myself with fools
than perish with sages."



1572.J The Maheiage. 85

The nuptial day. The scene.

At length the nuptial day arrived. It was
the seventeenth of August, 1572. Paris had laid
aside its mourning weeds, and a gay and brill-
iant carnival succeeded its dismal days of
gloom. Protestants a-nd Catholics, of highest
name and note, from every part of Europe, who
had met in the dreadful encounters of a hund-
red fields of blood, now mingled in apparent
fraternity with the glittering throng, all inter-
changing smiles and congratulations. The un-
impassioned bridegroom led his scornful bride
to the church of Notre Dame. Before the mass-
ive portals of this renowned edifice, and under
the shadow of its venerable towers, a magnifi-
cent platform had been reared, canopied with
the most gorgeous tapestry. Hundreds of
thousands thronged the surrounding amphithe-
atre, swarming at the windows, crowding the
balconies, and clustered upon the house-tops, to
witness the imposing ceremony. The gentle
breeze breathing over the multitude was laden
with the perfume of flowers. Banners, and pen-
nants, and ribbons of every varied hue waved
in the air, or hung in gay festoons from window
to window, and from roof to roof. Upon that
conspicuous platform, in the presence of all the
highest nobility of France, and of the most il-



86 King Heney IV. [1572.



Small favors gratefully received.



lustrious representatives of every court of Eu-
rope, Henry received the hand of the haughty
princess, and the nuptial oath was administered.
Marguerite, however, even in that hour, and
in the presence of all those spectators, gave a
ludicrous exhibition of her girlish petulance and
ungoverned willfulness. When, in the progress
of the ceremony, she was asked if she willingly
received Henry of Bourbon for her husband, she
pouted, coquettishly tossed her proud head, and
was silent. The question was repeated. The
spirit of Marguerite was now roused, and all the
powers of Europe could not tame the shrew.
She fixed her eyes defiantly upon the officia-
ting bishop, and refusing, by look, or word, or
gesture, to express the slightest assent, remain-
ed as immovable as a statue. Embarrassment
and delay ensued. Her royal brother, Charles
IX., fully aware of his sister's indomitable res-
olution, coolly walked up to the termagant at
bay, and placing one hand upon her chest and
the other upon the back of her head, compelled
an involuntary nod. The bishop smiled and
bowed, and acting upon the principle that small
favors were gratefully received, proceeded with
the ceremony. Such were the vows with which
Henry and Marguerite were united. Such is
too often love in the palace.



1572.] The Marriage. 89

Mass. National festivities,

Tlie Koman Catholic wife, unaccompanied by
her Protestant husband, who waited at the door
with his retinue, now entered the church of No-
tre Dame to participate in the solemnities of the
mass. The young King of Navarre then sub-
missivelj received his bride and conducted her
to a very magnificent dinner. Catharine and
Charles IX., at this entertainment, were very
specially attentive to the Protestant nobles.
The weak and despicable king leaned affection-
ately upon the arm of the Admiral Coligni, and
for a long time conversed with him with every
appearance of friendship and esteem. Balls, il-
luminations, and pageants ensued in the even-
ing. For many days these unnatural and chill-
ing nuptials were celebrated with all the splen-
dor of national festivities. Among these enter-
tainments there was a tournament, singularly
characteristic of the times, and which certainly
sheds peculiar lustre either upon the humility
or upon the good-nature of the Protestants.

A large area was prepared for the display of
one of those barbaric passes of arms in which
the rude chivalry of that day delighted. The
inclosure was surrounded by all the polished in-
tellect, rank, and beauty of France. Charles
IX., with his two brothers and several of ths



90 King Henry IV. [1572.

The tournament. Strange representations.

Catholic nobility, then appeared upon one side
of the arena on noble war-horses gorgeously ca-
parisoned, and threw down the gauntlet of de-
fiance to Henry of Navarre and his Protestant
retinue, who, similarly mounted and accoutred,
awaited the challenge upon the opposite side.

The portion of the inclosure in which the
Catholics appeared was decorated to represent
heaven. Birds of Paradise displayed their gor-
geous plumage, and the air was vocal with the
melody of trilling songsters. Beauty displayed
its charms arrayed in celestial robes, and am-
brosial odors lulled the senses in luxurious in-
dulgence. All the resources of wealth and art
were lavished to create a vision of the home of
the blessed.

The Protestants, in the opposite extreme of
the arena, were seen emerging from the desola-
tion, the gloom, and the sulphurous canopy of
hell. The two parties, from their antagonistic
realms, rushed to the encounter, the fiends of
darkness battling with the angels of light.
Gradually the Catholics, in accordance with pre-
vious arrangements, drove back the Protestants
toward their grim abodes, when suddenly nu-
merous demons appeared rushing from the dun-
geons of the infernal regions, who, with cloven



1572.] The Marriage. 91

Kegal courtesy. Impediments to departure.

hoofs, and satanic weapons, and chains forged
in penal fires, seized upon the Protestants and
dragged them to the blackness of darkness from
whence they had emerged. Plaudits loud and
long greeted this discomfiture of the Protestants
by the infernal powers.

But suddenly the scene is changed. A wing-
ed Cupid appears, the representative of the pi-
ous and amiable bride Marguerite. The demons
fly in dismay before the irresistible boy. Fear-
lessly this emissary of love penetrates the realms
of despair. The Protestants, by this agency,
are liberated from their thralldom, and conduct-,
ed in triumph to the Elysium of the Catholics.
A more curious display of regal courtesy histo-
ry has not recorded. And this was in Paris I

Immediately after the marriage, the Admiral
Coligni was anxious to obtain permission to
leave the city. His devout spirit found no en-
joyment in the gayeties of the metropolis, and
he was deeply disgusted with the unveiled li-
centiousness which he witnessed every where
around him. Day after day, however, impedi-
ments were placed in the way of his departure,
and it was not until three days after the mar-
riage festivities that he succeeded in obtaining
an audience with Charles. He accompanied



92 King Heney IV. [1572.

Mission from the Pope. The reply.

Charles to the racket-court, where the young
monarch was accustomed to spend much of his
time, and there bidding him adieu, left him to
his amusements, and took his way on foot to-
ward his lodgings.

The Pope, not aware of the treachery which
was contemplated, was much displeased in view
of the apparently friendly relations which had
thus suddenly sprung up between the Catholics
and the Protestants. He was exceedingly per-
plexed by the marriage, and at last sent a legate
to expostulate with the French king. Charles
IX. was exceedingly embarrassed how to frame
a reply. He wished to convince the legate of
his entire devotion to the Papal Church, and,
at the same time, he did not dare to betray his
intentions ; for the detection of the conspiracy
would not only frustrate all his plans, but would
load him with ignominy, and vastly augment
the power of his enemies.

"I do devoutly wish," Charles replied, "that
I could tell you all ; but you and the Pope
shall soon know how beneficial this marriage
shall prove to the interests of religion. Take
my word for it, in a little time the holy father
shall have reason to praise my designs, my pi-
ety, and my zeal in behalf of the faith."



1572.] Peeparations. 93

The attempted assassination of Coligni. Escape of the



Chaptee IV.
Peepaeations foe Massacee.

As the Admiral Coligni was quietly passing
through the streets from his interview
with Charles at the Louvre to his residence, in
preparation for his departure, accompanied by
twelve or fifteen of his personal friends, a letter
was placed in his hands. He opened it, and
began to read as he walked slowly along. Just
as he was turning a corner of the street, a mus-
ket was discharged from the window of an ad-
joining house, and two balls struck him. One
cut-off a finger of his right hand, and the other
entered his left arm. The admiral, inured to
scenes of danger, manifested not the slightest
agitation or alarm. He calmly pointed out to
his friends the house from which the gun had


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