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

Louis XIV online

. (page 1 of 18)
Online LibraryJohn S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) AbbottLouis XIV → online text (page 1 of 18)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Produced by D. Alexander and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net (This file was
produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)









Makers of History

Louis XIV.

BY JOHN S. C. ABBOTT

WITH ENGRAVINGS

NEW YORK AND LONDON
HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS
1904




Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1870, by

HARPER & BROTHERS,

in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington

Copyright, 1898, by LAURA A. BUCK.




[Illustration: LOUIS XIV.]




PREFACE


We all live a double life: the external life which the world sees, and
the internal life of hopes and fears, joys and griefs, temptations and
sins, which the world sees not, and of which it knows but little. None
lead this double life more emphatically than those who are seated upon
thrones.

Though this historic sketch contains allusions to all the most
important events in the reign of Louis XIV., it has been the main
object of the writer to develop the inner life of the palace; to lead
the reader into the interior of the Louvre, the Tuileries, Versailles,
and Marly, and to exhibit the monarch as a man, in the details of
domestic privacy.

This can more easily be done in reference to Louis XIV. than any other
king. Very many of the prominent members of his household left their
autobiographies, filled with the minutest incidents of every-day life.

It is impossible to give any correct idea of the life of this proud
monarch without allusion to the corruption in the midst of which he
spent his days. Still, the writer, while faithful to fact, has
endeavored so to describe these scenes that any father can safely read
the narrative aloud to his family.

There are few chapters in history more replete with horrors than that
which records the "Revocation of the Edict of Nantes." The facts given
are beyond all possibility of contradiction. In the contemplation of
these scenes the mind pauses, bewildered by the reflection forced upon
it, that many of the actors in these fiend-like outrages were inspired
by motives akin to sincerity and conscientiousness.

The thoughtful reader will perceive that in this long and wicked reign
Louis XIV. was sowing the wind from which his descendants reaped the
whirlwind. It was the despotism of Louis XIV. and of Louis XV. which
ushered in that most sublime of all earthly dramas, the French
Revolution.

JOHN S. C. ABBOTT.

New Haven, Conn., 1870.




CONTENTS.


Chapter Page

I. BIRTH AND CHILDHOOD 13

II. THE BOY-KING 49

III. MATRIMONIAL PROJECTS 86

IV. THE MARRIAGE OF THE KING 121

V. FESTIVITIES OF THE COURT 159

VI. DEATH IN THE PALACE 194

VII. THE WAR IN HOLLAND 234

VIII. MADAME DE MAINTENON 268

IX. THE REVOCATION OF THE EDICT OF NANTES 302

X. THE SECRET MARRIAGE 330

XI. INTRIGUES AND WARS 359

XII. LAST DAYS OF LOUIS XIV. 384




ENGRAVINGS.


Page

LOUIS XIV. _Frontispiece._

THE CASTLE OF BLOIS 18

PALACE OF ST. GERMAIN-EN-LAYE 23

THE PALAIS ROYAL 31

PALACE OF THE LUXEMBOURG 52

THE TUILERIES 74

THE CASTLE OF VINCENNES 79

PALACE OF CHANTILLY 98

VIEW OF FONTAINEBLEAU 103

ISLE OF PHEASANTS 129

THE LOUVRE AND THE TUILERIES 139

PALACE OF FONTAINEBLEAU 145

CHATEAU MAZARIN 157

CHATEAU DE VAUX 176

CONVENT OF VAL DE GRACE 198

THE PALACE OF ST. CLOUD 201

INTERIOR OF ST. DENIS 208

ST. DENIS 236

PORTE ST. DENIS 254

MADAME DE MAINTENON 273

PALACE OF VERSAILLES 297

PARTERRE OF VERSAILLES 324

RACINE AND BOILEAU 339

THE TRIANON 351

MARLY 354

LOUIS XIV. DIRECTING THE SIEGE 362

FRONT VIEW OF ST. GERMAIN 376

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE DEATH OF LOUIS XIV. 409




LOUIS XIV.




CHAPTER I.

BIRTH AND CHILDHOOD.

1615-1650

Marriage of Louis XIII. - Character of Louis XIII. - Character of
Anne of Austria. - Cardinal Richelieu. - The Duke of Buckingham. - His
death. - Estrangement of the king and queen. - Joy of the nation. - Birth
of Louis XIV. - Gift of the Pope. - Condition of Paris. - Reconciliation
of the king and queen. - Orders of Louis XIII. respecting the
dauphin. - Ill health of Louis XIII. - The dauphin declared King Louis
XIV. - Last hours of Louis XIII. - Death of Louis XIII. - Louis
XIV. recognized king. - Palais Royal. - Apartments of the queen
regent. - Educational arrangements for Louis XIV. - Speech of Louis
at five years old. - Dislikes the change of teachers. - Interest in
history. - Mazarin's wicked policy. - Henrietta, queen of Charles
I. - Figure and bearing of the king. - His first campaign. - The
cardinal's nieces. - Anecdote. - Feud between Mazarin and the
Parliament. - Alarm of Mazarin. - Escape of the royal family from
Paris. - Flight of the court. - Discomfort of the court at St.
Germain. - Excitement in Paris. - Issue of a parliamentary
decree. - Origin of the names Fronde and Mazarins. - Two rival
courts. - Straw scarce. - Character of Mazarin. - Termination of the
war. - Society reversed.


Louis XIII. of France married Anne of Austria on the 25th of November,
1615. The marriage ceremony was performed with great splendor in the
Cathedral of Bordeaux. The bride was exceedingly beautiful, tall, and
of exquisite proportions. She possessed the whitest and most delicate
hand that ever made an imperious gesture. Her eyes were of matchless
beauty, easily dilated, and of extraordinary transparency. Her small
and ruddy mouth looked like an opening rose-bud. Long and silky hair,
of a lovely shade of auburn, gave to the face it surrounded the
sparkling complexion of a blonde, and the animation of a brunette.[A]

[Footnote A: Louis XIV. et son Siècle.]

The marriage was not a happy one. Louis XIII. was not a man of any
mental or physical attractions. He was cruel, petulant, and jealous.
The king had a younger brother, Gaston, duke of Anjou. He was a young
man of joyous spirits, social, frank, a universal favorite. His moody,
taciturn brother did not love him. Anne did. She could not but enjoy
his society. Wounded by the coldness and neglect of her husband, it is
said that she was not unwilling, by rather a free exhibition of the
fascinations of her person and her mind, to win the admiration of
Gaston. She hoped thus to inspire the king with a more just
appreciation of her merits.

Louis XIII., at the time of his marriage, was a mere boy fourteen
years of age. His father had died when he was nine years old. He was
left under the care of his mother, Mary de Medicis, as regent. Anne of
Austria was a maturely developed and precocious child of eleven years
when she gave her hand to the boy-king of France. Not much discretion
could have been expected of two such children, exposed to the
idleness, the splendors, and the corruption of a court.

Anne was vain of her beauty, naturally coquettish, and very romantic
in her views of life. It is said that the queen dowager, wishing to
prevent Anne from gaining much influence over the mind of the king,
did all she could to lure her into flirtations and gallantries, which
alienated her from her husband. For this purpose she placed near her
person Madame Chevreuse, an intriguing woman, alike renowned for wit,
beauty, and unscrupulousness.

Quite a desperate flirtation arose between Anne and little Gaston, who
was but nine years of age. Gaston, whom the folly of the times
entitled Duke of Anjou, hated Louis, and delighted to excite his
jealousy and anger by his open and secret manifestation of love for
the beautiful Anne. The king's health failed. He became increasingly
languid, morose, emaciate. Anne, young as she was, was physically a
fully developed woman of voluptuous beauty. The undisguised alienation
which existed between her and the king encouraged other courtiers of
eminent rank to court her smiles.

Cardinal Richelieu, notwithstanding his ecclesiastical vows, became
not only the admirer, but the lover of the queen, addressing her in
the most impassioned words of endearment. Thus years of intrigue and
domestic wretchedness passed away until 1624. The queen had then been
married nine years, and was twenty years of age. She had no children.

The reckless, hot-headed George Villiers, duke of Buckingham, visited
the French court to arrange terms of marriage between Henrietta Maria,
sister of Louis XIII., and the Prince of Wales, son of James I. of
England. He was what is called a splendid man, of noble bearing, and
of chivalric devotion to the fair. The duke, boundlessly rich,
displayed great magnificence in Paris. He danced with the queen,
fascinated her by his openly avowed admiration, and won such smiles in
return as to induce the king and Cardinal Richelieu almost to gnash
their teeth with rage.

This flirtation, if we may not express it by a more emphatic phrase,
created much heart-burning and wretchedness, criminations and
recriminations, in the regal palace. In August, 1628, the Duke of
Buckingham, then in England, terminated his wretched and guilty life.
He fell beneath the dagger of an assassin. Anne, disdaining all
dissimulation, wept openly, and, secluding herself from the gayeties
of the court, surrendered herself to grief.

A mutual spirit of defiance existed between the king and queen. Both
were wretched. Such are always the wages of sin. Ten more joyless
years passed away. The rupture between the royal pair was such that
they could scarcely endure each other. Louis himself was the first to
inform the queen of the news so satisfactory to him, so heart-rending
to her, that a dagger had pierced the heart of Buckingham. After this
they met only at unfrequent intervals. All confidence and sympathy
were at an end. It was a bitter disappointment to the queen that she
had no children. Upon the death of the king, who was in very feeble
health, her own position and influence would depend almost entirely
upon her having a son to whom the crown would descend. Louis resided
generally at the Castle of Blois. Anne held her court at the Louvre.

A married life of twenty-two years had passed away, and still the
queen had no child. Both she and her husband had relinquished all hope
of offspring. On the evening of the 5th of December, 1637, the king,
having made a visit to the Convent of the Visitation, being overtaken
by a storm, drove to the Louvre instead of Blois. He immediately
proceeded to the apartments of the queen. Anne was astonished, and did
not disguise her astonishment at seeing him. He, however, remained
until the morrow.

[Illustration: THE CASTLE OF BLOIS.]

Soon after this, to the inexpressible joy of the queen, it appeared
that she was to become a mother. The public announcement of the fact
created surprise and joy throughout the nation. The king was equally
astonished and delighted. He immediately hastened to the Louvre to
offer the queen his congratulations.

The queen repaired to St. Germain-en-Laye, about six miles from
Versailles, to await the birth of her child. Here she occupied, in
the royal palace, the gorgeous apartments in which Henry IV. had
formerly dwelt. The king himself also took up his abode in the palace.
The excitement was so great that St. Germain was crowded with the
nobility, who had flocked to the place in anxious expectancy of the
great event. Others, who could not be accommodated at St. Germain,
stationed couriers on the road to obtain the earliest intelligence of
the result.

On the 5th of September, 1638, the king was greeted with the joyful
tidings of the birth of a son. A vast crowd had assembled in front of
the palace. The king, in the exuberance of his delight, took the child
from the nurse, and, stepping out upon a balcony, exhibited him to the
crowd, exclaiming, "A son! gentlemen, a son!"

The announcement was received with a universal shout of joy. The happy
father then took the babe into an adjoining apartment, where the
bishops were assembled to perform the ordinance of baptism. These
dignitaries of the Church had been kneeling around a temporary altar
praying for the queen. The Bishop of Meaux performed the ceremony. A
Te Deum was then chanted in the chapel of the castle. Immediately
after this, the king wrote an autograph letter to the corporation of
Paris, announcing the joyful tidings. A courier was dispatched with
the document at his highest possible speed.

The enthusiasm excited in the capital surpassed any thing which had
ever before been witnessed. The common people, the nobles, the
ecclesiastics, and the foreign embassadors, vied with each other in
their demonstrations of joy. A few months after, in July, an
extraordinary messenger arrived from the pope, to convey to the august
mother and her child the blessing of the holy father. He also
presented the queen, for her babe, swaddling-clothes which had been
blessed by his holiness. These garments were exceedingly rich with
gold and silver embroidery. They were inclosed in a couple of chests
of red velvet, and elicited the admiration of the royal pair.

The France of that day was very different from that magnificent empire
which now stands in intellectual culture, arts, and arms, prominent
among the nations of the globe. The country was split up into hostile
factions, over which haughty nobles ruled. The roads in the rural
districts were almost impassable. Paris itself was a small and dirty
city, with scarcely any police regulations, and infested with robbers.
There were no lamps to light the city by night. The streets were
narrow, ill paved, and choked with mud and refuse. Immediately after
nightfall these dark and crooked thoroughfares were thronged with
robbers and assassins, whose depredations were of the most audacious
kind.

Socially, morally, and intellectually, France was at the lowest ebb.
The masses of the people were in a degraded condition of squalid
poverty and debasement. Still the king, by enormous taxation,
succeeded in wresting from his wretched subjects an income to meet the
expenses of his court, amounting to about four millions of our money.
But the outlays were so enormous that even this income was quite
unavailing, and innumerable measures of extortion were adopted to meet
the deficit.

The king was so much gratified by the birth of a dauphin that for a
time he became quite reconciled to his beautiful and haughty queen.
Two years after the birth of the dauphin, on the 21st of September,
1640, Anne gave birth to a second son, who took the title of Philip,
duke of Anjou. The queen and her two children resided in the
beautiful palace of Saint Germain-en-Laye, where the princes were
born.

A company of French Guards, commanded by Captain Montigni, protected
the castle. Madame de Lausac was the governess of the two children.
The title by which the king's brother was usually designated was
simply Monsieur. But for these children of the king, the crown, upon
the death of the monarch, would descend immediately to Monsieur, the
king's brother. The morals of the times were such that the king was
ever apprehensive that some harm might come to the children through
the intrigues of his brother. Monsieur lived in Paris. The king left
orders with Madame de Lausac that, should his brother visit the queen,
the officers of the household should immediately surround the dauphin
for his protection, and that Monsieur should not be permitted to enter
the palace should he be accompanied by more than three persons.

[Illustration: PALACE OF SAINT GERMAIN-EN-LAYE.]

To Montigni, the captain of the guard, the king gave half of a gold
coin, of which he retained the other half. Montigni was commanded to
watch over the persons of the princes with the utmost vigilance.
Should he receive an order to remove them, or to transfer them to
other hands, he was enjoined not to obey that order, even should it be
in the handwriting of his majesty himself, unless he at the same time
received the other half of the broken coin.

The king, as we have mentioned, had been for some time in feeble
health. Early in the spring of 1643 he became seriously ill. The
symptoms were so alarming as to lead the king, as well as his friends,
to think that death could not be far distant. There are few men so
hardened as to be able to contemplate without some degree of anxiety
death and the final judgment. The king was alarmed. He betook himself
to prayer and to the scrupulous discharge of his religious duties.

In preparation for the great change, he repaired to Saint Germain to
invest the queen with the regency when he should die. His brother,
Monsieur, who had taken the title of the Duke of Orleans, and all the
leading nobles of the court, were present. The king, pale, emaciate,
and with death staring him in the face, was bolstered in his bed. Anne
of Austria stood weeping by his side. She did not love her
husband - she did love power; but the scene was so solemn and so
affecting as to force tears into all eyes. The dauphin was then four
and a half years old. He was declared king, with the title of Louis
XIV., under the regency of his mother until he should attain his
majority.

The next day, April 21st, the christening of the dauphin with his new
title took place with great state in the chapel of the palace. After
the celebration of the rite, the dauphin was carried into the chamber
of his dying father, and seated upon the bed by his side. The poor
king, dying in the prime of life, was oppressed with the profoundest
melancholy. There was nothing in the memory of the past to give him
pleasure; nothing in the future to inspire him with well-grounded
hope. Turning to the little prince, who had just been christened with
the royal title, he inquired,

"What is your name, my child?"

"Louis XIV.," the dauphin promptly replied.

"Not yet," said the king, sadly, shaking his head; "but pray God that
it may soon be so."

A few more days of sickness and suffering passed away, during which it
was almost hourly expected that the king would die. Death often comes
to the palace invested with terrors unknown in the cottage. Beneath
his sceptre all gradations and conditions of rank disappear. The
sufferings of the king were such that he longed for release.

On the 13th of May, as the shades of evening were gathering around his
dying bed, he anxiously inquired of his physicians if it were possible
that he could live until morning. They consulted together, and then
informed him that they did not think it possible.

"God be praised!" the king replied. "I think it is now time that I
should take leave of all whom I love."

The royal household was immediately assembled around the couch of the
dying monarch. He had sufficient strength to throw his arms around the
neck of the queen, and to press her tenderly to his heart. In such an
hour past differences are forgotten. In low and broken tones of voice,
the king addressed the queen in a few parting words of endearment.

The dauphin was then placed in his arms. Silently, but with tearful
eyes, he pressed his thin and parched lips to both cheeks and to the
brow of the child, who was too young to comprehend the solemn import
of the scene.

His brother, Monsieur, the duke of Orleans, the king had never loved.
In these later years he had regarded him with implacable hostility.
But, subdued by the influences of death, he bade that brother an
eternal adieu, with even fond caresses. Indeed, he had become so far
reconciled to Monsieur that he had appointed him lieutenant general of
the kingdom, under the regency of Anne of Austria, during the minority
of the dauphin.

Several of the higher ecclesiastics were present, who had assisted in
preparing him to die. He affectionately embraced them all, and then
requested the Bishop of Meaux to read the service for the dying. While
it was being read he sank into a lethargy, and never spoke again. He
died in the forty-second year of his age, after a reign of
thirty-three years, having ascended the throne when but nine years
old.

Immediately after the death of the king, Anne of Austria held a
private interview with Monsieur, in which they agreed to co-operate in
the maintenance of each other's authority. The Parliament promptly
recognized the queen as regent, and the Duke of Orleans as lieutenant
general, during the minority of the dauphin.

The Duke de Grammont, one of the highest nobles of France, and a
distinguished member of the court of Louis XIII., had a son, the Count
de Guiche, a few months older than the dauphin. This child was
educated as the play-fellow and the companion in study of the young
king. One of the first acts of Anne of Austria was to assemble the
leading bodies of the realm to take the oath of allegiance to her son.
The little fellow, four and a half years old, arrayed in imperial
robes, was seated upon the throne. The Count de Guiche, a very sedate,
thoughtful, precocious child, was placed upon the steps, that his
undoubted propriety of behavior might be a pattern to the infant king.
Both of the children behaved remarkably well.

Soon after this, at the close of the year 1643, the queen, with her
household, who had resided during the summer in the palace of the
Louvre, took up her residence in what was then called the Cardinal
Palace. This magnificent building, which had been reared at an
enormous expense, had been bequeathed by the Cardinal Richelieu to the
young king. But it was suggested that it was not decorous that the
king should inhabit a mansion which bore the name of the residence of
a subject. Therefore the inscription of _Cardinal Palace_ was effaced
from above the doorway, and that of _Palais Royal_ placed in its
stead. The palace had cost the cardinal a sum nearly equal to a
million of dollars. This ungrateful disregard of the memory of the
cardinal greatly displeased his surviving friends, and called forth
earnest remonstrance. But all expostulations were in vain. From that
day to this the renowned mansion has been known only as the "Palais
Royal." The opposite engraving shows the palace as left by the
cardinal. Since his day the building has been greatly enlarged by
extending the wings for shops around the whole inclosure of the
garden.

Louis XIV. was at this time five years old. The apartments which had
been occupied by Richelieu were assigned to the dauphin. His mother,
the queen regent, selected for herself rooms far more spacious and
elegant. Though they were furnished and embellished with apparently
every appliance of luxury, Anne, fond of power and display, expended
enormous sums in adapting them to her taste. The cabinet of the
regent, in the gorgeousness of its adornments, was considered the
wonder of Paris.

[Illustration: THE PALAIS ROYAL.]

Cardinal Mazarin had also a suite of rooms assigned him in the palace
which looked out upon the Rue des bons Enfans. These households
were quite distinct, and they were all surrounded with much of the
pageantry of royalty. The superintendence of the education of the
young prince was intrusted to the cardinal. He had also his governor,
his sub-governor, his preceptor, and his valet de chambre, each of


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Online LibraryJohn S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) AbbottLouis XIV → online text (page 1 of 18)