Julia Pardoe.

The Life of Marie de Medicis — Volume 1 online

. (page 21 of 32)
Online LibraryJulia PardoeThe Life of Marie de Medicis — Volume 1 → online text (page 21 of 32)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

God, desired to withdraw from the Court, you would at once have obtained
permission to do so with honour to yourself; but you have simply acted a
part, and that so unskilfully as to have deceived no one."

At this period of the interview Madame de Verneuil could not wholly
suppress her emotion, but she controlled it sufficiently to reply only
by a condescending bow, and the exclamation of, "Proceed, M. le

"I will do so, Madame," said M. de Sully, "by a transition from
remonstrance to inquiry. Have you any legitimate subject of complaint
which you conceive to warrant your failure of respect towards their

"If this question was dictated to you by the King, Monsieur," was the
proud reply, "he was wrong to put it, as he, better than any other
person, could himself have decided; and if it be your own suggestion you
are no less so, since whatever may be its nature, it is beyond your
power to apply the remedy."

"Then, Madame, it only remains for me to be informed of what you desire
from his Majesty."

"That which I am aware will prove less acceptable to the King than to
myself, M. le Ministre; but which I nevertheless persist in demanding,
since I am authorized by your inquiry to repeat my request. I desire
immediate permission to leave France with my parents, my brother, and my
children, and to take up my permanent residence in some other country,
where I shall have excited less jealousy and less malevolence than in
this; and I include my brother in this voluntary expatriation because I
now have reason to believe that he is suffering entirely for my sake."

Sully was startled: he could not place faith in her sincerity, and he
consequently induced her to repeat her request more than once; until she
at length added a condition which convinced him that she was indeed
perfectly serious in the desire that she expressed.

"Do not, however, imagine, Monsieur," she said, with a significant
smile, "that I have any intention of leaving the kingdom, and taking up
my abode with strangers, with the slightest prospect of dying by hunger.
I am by no means inclined to afford such a gratification to the Queen,
who would doubtlessly rejoice to learn that this had been the close of
my career. I must have an income of a hundred thousand francs, fully and
satisfactorily secured to me in land, before I leave France; and this is
a mere trifle compared with what I have a legal right to demand from
the King."

"I shall submit your proposition to his Majesty, Madame," said the
minister as he rose to take his leave; "and will shortly acquaint you
with the result."

Greatly to the disappointment of M. de Sully, however, he found Henry
decidedly averse to the departure of Madame de Verneuil; nor could all
the arguments by which he endeavoured to convince the infatuated monarch
that the self-exile of the Marquise was calculated to ensure his own
future tranquillity, avail to overcome his distaste to the
proposal.[278] He was weary of his purely sensual intercourse with
Madame de Moret, whose extreme facility had caused him from the first to
attach but little value to her possession; while her total want of
intellect and knowledge of the world continually caused him to remember
with regret the dazzling although dangerous qualities of her
predecessor. Marie de Medicis, moreover, who had originally looked with
complacency upon his _liaison_ with Mademoiselle de Bueil, rejoicing in
any event which tended to estrange his affections from the Marquise,
had, since her melodramatic marriage and her accession of rank, begun to
entertain apprehensions that another formidable rival was about to
embitter her future life; while the reproaches which she constantly
addressed to the monarch, and to which he was compelled to submit, on
the subject of a woman who had merely pleased his fancy without touching
his heart, were another cause of irritation, and only tended to make him
look back upon the past with an ardent longing to repair it. Thus he
continued to employ all his most intimate associates in an attempt to
urge the Marquise to make such concessions as would enable him to pardon
her, with the earnestness of a repentant lover rather than the clemency
of an indulgent sovereign; and when the stern minister so signally
failed to convince her reason by his representations, the King
endeavoured to arouse her vanity and self-interest by the flatteries and
inferences of the more courtly Bassompierre, La Varenne,[279] Sigogne,
and others in whom he placed confidence; but all this ill-disguised
anxiety only served to convince the wily favourite that she should prove
victorious in the struggle, for since Henry could not bring himself to
consent to her expatriation, there was no probability that he would ever
be induced to take her life.

And the astute Marquise judged rightly: for she was not only safe
herself, but the palladium of her family. The King was no longer young;
he had become satiated with the tame and facile pleasures for which he
was indebted to his sovereign rank; and although opposition and
haughtiness in a wife angered and disgusted him, there was a piquancy
and novelty in the defiance of a mistress by which he was alike amused
and interested. He could calculate upon the extent to which the Queen
would venture to indulge her displeasure; but he found himself quite
unable to adjudge the limits of Madame de Verneuil's daring; and thus
his passion was constantly stimulated by curiosity. In her hours of
fascination she delighted his fancy, and in those of irritation she
excited his astonishment. Like the ocean, she assumed a new aspect every
hour; and to this "infinite variety" she was in all probability indebted
for the duration of her empire over the sensual and selfish affections
of her royal lover.

Conscious of her power, the Marquise continued inexorable; and finally,
Henry found himself compelled to include her in the public accusation
brought against the other conspirators, and to issue an order to the
Parliament, as the supreme criminal tribunal of the kingdom, to commence
without further delay the prosecution of the delinquents.

A new anxiety at this time divided the attention of the King with that
which he felt for the vindication of the favourite. His permission had
been asked by the Huguenots to hold a meeting at Châtellerault, and this
he had at once conceded; but circumstances having arisen which induced
the Council to apprehend that the intrigues of the Duc de Bouillon,
supported by MM. de la Trémouille, and du Plessis-Mornay,[280] were
about to involve the kingdom in new troubles, M. de Sully proceeded to
Poitou under pretext of taking possession of his new government, and by
his unexpected appearance on the scene of action counteracted the
project of the conspirators; while a short time subsequently the Duc de
la Trémouille fell into a rapid decline which terminated his existence
at the early age of thirty-four years, and deprived the reform party of
one of their most able and zealous leaders.

Meanwhile, amid all the dissensions, both political and domestic, by
which Henri IV had latterly been harassed, his earnest desire to improve
and embellish his good city of Paris and its adjacent palaces had
continued unabated. Henri III, during whose reign the Pont Neuf had been
commenced, had only lived long enough to see two of its arches
constructed, and the piles destined to support the remainder raised
above the river; this undertaking was now completed, and numerous
workmen were also constantly employed on the galleries of the Louvre,
and at the châteaux of St. Germain-en-Laye, Fontainebleau, and Monceaux;
the latter of which, as we have already stated, the monarch had
presented to the Queen on her arrival in Paris; while, emulating the
royal example, the great nobles and capitalists of the city were
building on all sides, and increasing alike the extent and splendour of
the metropolis.[281] It was at this period that Henry joined the
Faubourg St. Germain to the city, and caused it to be paved; constructed
the Place Royale; repaired the Hôtel de St. Louis for the purpose of
converting it into a plague-hospital; and commenced building the Temple

Other great works were also undertaken throughout the kingdom; the
junction of the Garonne with the Aude, an attempt which presented
considerable difficulty and which was only terminated during the reign
of Louis XIV, was vigorously commenced; other rivers, hitherto
comparatively useless, were rendered navigable; and the canal of Briare,
with its two-and-thirty locks, although not more than half completed at
the death of Henry, had already cost the enormous sum of three hundred
thousand crowns. Numerous means of communication were established by
highways which had not previously existed; bridges were built, and roads
repaired; taxes which paralyzed the manufactures of the country were
remitted; the fabrication of tapestried hangings wrought in worsted,
silk, and gold, was earnestly encouraged; mulberry plantations were
formed, and the foundation laid for the production of the costly silks
and velvets for which Lyons has ever since been so famous. An imitation
of the celebrated Venetian glass was also introduced with great success;
and, above all, even in the midst of these expensive undertakings, a tax
of four annual millions of francs, hitherto raised by the customs upon
the different classes of citizens, was altogether abolished. Hope and
energy were alike aroused by so vigorous a measure; and thus the people
ceased to murmur, and were ready to acknowledge that the King had indeed
begun to verify his celebrated declaration that "if he were spared,
there should not exist a workman within his realm who was not enabled to
cook a fowl upon the Sunday." [283]


[210] Gabrielle-Angélique de Bourbon, who was declared legitimate as her
brother had previously been, married in 1622 Bernard de la Valette et de
Foix, Duc d'Epernon, and died in childbed in April 1627.

[211] Matthieu, _Hist. de Henri IV_, vol. ii. book vi. p. 446.

[212] Raimond de Comminge, Sieur de Sobole, and his brother, noblemen of

[213] Antoine, Seigneur d'Arquien, was Governor of Calais, Sancerre,

[214] Jean Henri, Duc de Deux-Ponts, who married Catherine de Rohan, was
descended from a branch of the royal house of Bavaria.

[215] Christophe de Harlai, Comte de Beaumont, Governor of Orleans. He
died in 1615.

[216] L'Etoile, vol. iii. p. 94.

[217] Capefigue, vol. viii. p. 163.

[218] Sully, _Mém_. vol. iv. pp. 197-199.

[219] L'Etoile, vol. iii. pp. 88, 89.

[220] Sully, _Mém_. vol. v. pp. 45-50.

[221] Sully, _Mém_. vol. v. pp. 49-53. Dreux du Radier, vol. vi. pp.
90-92. Saint-Edmé, pp. 222, 223

[222] Capefigue, vol. viii. p. 130.

[223] Richelieu, _La Mère et le Fils_, vol. i. p. 17.

[224] Sully, _Mém_. vol. v. pp. 54, 55.

[225] Bernardin Gigault de Bellefonds.

[226] Hercule de Rohan, Duc de Montbazon.

[227] François d'Orléans-Longueville, Comte de St. Pol, Governor of

[228] Arnaud de Sorbin, Bishop of Nevers, was justly celebrated both for
his piety and his learning. He was originally curate of the parish of
Ste. Foy, where he had been placed by Georges, Cardinal d'Armagnac,
Bishop of Toulouse, who afterwards removed him from that parish, in
order to keep him near his person. The Cardinal d'Este, aware of his
great worth and extraordinary talents, conferred upon him the rank of
doctor of divinity of the cathedral of Auch, the capital of his
archbishopric; but he did not retain it long, having been recalled by
his first patron to assume the same position in his church at Toulouse,
where he was universally loved and respected. He was successively
lecturer to Charles IX, Henri III, and Henri IV, and was consecrated, on
his elevation to the see of Nevers, by the Cardinal de Gondy, Bishop of
Paris. Monseigneur de Sorbin died in Nevers, on the 1st of May 1606.

[229] L'Etoile, vol. iii. pp. 152-154.

[230] Cayet, _Chron. Septen_., 1604.

[231] Emeric Gobier, Sieur de Barrault, ambassador at the Court of

[232] Antoine de Silly, Damoiseau de Commercy, Comte de Rochepot, knight
of the Order of the Holy Ghost.

[233] Antoine de Brienne de Loménie, Seigneur de la Ville-aux-Clercs,
ambassador-extraordinary to England in 1595, and secretary of state, was
the representative of a distinguished family of Berry, whose father,
Maréchal de Brienne, registrar of the council, fell a victim to the
massacre of St. Bartholomew. He himself died in 1628, bequeathing to the
royal library three hundred and forty manuscript volumes, known as the
_Manuscripts of Brienne_.

[234] The Prévôts des Maréchaux were magistrates whose duties consisted
in trying vagrants and persons who could not prove their identity,
culprits previously sentenced to corporal punishment, banishment, or
fine, soldiers, highway robbers, and the members of illicit societies.
The Prévôts des Maréchaux took the title of Equerry-Councillors of the
King, and their place on the bench of the criminal court was immediately
after that of the presiding judge.

[235] L'Etoile, vol. iii. pp. 185-193. Matthieu, _Hist, des Derniers
Troubles,_ book ii. pp. 435-437. Sully, _Mém._ vol. v. pp. 109-121.
Mézeray, vol. x. pp. 254-257.

[236] Sully, _Mém_. vol. v. p. 137.

[237] Sully, _Mém_. vol. v. pp. 139-142.

[238] The French term which I have ventured thus freely to translate is
_pot-de-vin_, and literally signifies a sum of money given to a third
party who is able to ensure the success of a bargain or negotiation of
whatever nature. Thus, for example, in the granting and acceptance of a
lease which has been effected by such means, the contracting parties
jointly pay down the stipulated amount, irrespective of the value of the
lease, for the benefit of the person through whose agency it has been
concluded; while so general is the system throughout the country, even
to this day, that domestic servants give a _pot-de-vin_ to the
individual, to whom they are indebted for their situation, in which
instance, however, the bribe or recompense is also called a _denier
à Dieu_.

[239] Florent d'Argouges, Treasurer of the Queen's Household. His son
was first president of the Parliament of Brittany, and subsequently
councillor of state and member of the Privy Council.

[240] Sully, _Mém_. vol. v. pp. 144-146.

[241] Sully, _Mém_. vol. v. pp. 147-149.

[242] Sully, _Mém_. vol. v. p. 155.

[243] Saint-Edmé, vol. ii. p. 223.

[244] In order to convey some idea of the effect produced by the
ostensible devotion of Madame de Verneuil upon those who gave her credit
for sincerity, we need only quote a passage in the dedication of
D'Hemery d'Amboise to his translation of the works of Grégoire de Tours,
in which, addressing himself to the Marquise, he gravely says "that she
had deduced from the inspired writings of the fathers their salutary
doctrine; and that she practised it so faithfully, that her firmness had
triumphed over her adversities, and her merit exceeded her happiness."
"Your life," he adds, with the same unblushing sycophancy, "serves as a
mirror for the most pious, and compels the admiration of all who see so
holy and resolute a determination exerted at an age that has scarcely
attained its prime; and at which, despising mere personal beauty, and
the other precious advantages with which you have been richly endowed by
Heaven, you have devoted the course of your best years to the
contemplation of the marvels of God, joining spiritual meditation to
good works." - Dreux du Radier, vol. vi. pp. 94, 95.

[245] Richelieu, _Hist. de la Mère et du Fils_, vol. i. pp. 8-11.

[246] MSS. Dupuy, vol. 407.

[247] André Hurault, Seigneur de Maisse, had been ambassador to Venice
under both Henri III and Henri IV, and in his official capacity had
frequent disputes with the nuncios of Sixtus V and Clement VIII, in
consequence of which those prelates exerted all their influence to
injure his interests at the Court of Rome. André Morosin mentions M. de
Maisse as an able and far-seeing man, _sagaci admodum ingenio_. In 1595
Henri IV again sent him to Venice to offer his thanks to the Senate for
the extraordinary embassy which they had forwarded to him during the
previous year; and as M. de Maisse travelled on this occasion with
Cardinal Duperron, who was instructed to pass by that city on his way to
Rome, great alarm was created in the mind of the Pope that the French
ambassador was about to visit the Papal Court in his company, an event
which he deprecated from the distrust which he felt of the designs of an
individual who had already frustrated the measures of his accredited
agents. His Holiness was, however, _quitte pour la peur_, the
instructions of M. de Maisse having restricted him to his
Venetian mission.

[248] Louis Potier de Gêvres, Secretary of State. It is from him that
the branch of his family still bearing the name of Gêvres is descended,
while that of Novion owes its origin to his elder brother, Nicolas
Potier de Blancménil.

[249] Mézeray, vol. x. p. 261.

[250] _Le Laboureur sur Castelnau_.

[251] Jacqueline de Bueil, subsequently Comtesse de Moret, was the
daughter of Claude de Bueil, Seigneur de Courcillon and La Machère, and
of Catherine de Monteclu, who both died in 1596. The family of Bueil
traced their descent from Jean, the first of the name, Sieur de Bueil in
Touraine, who was equerry of honour to Charles-le-Bel in 1321.

[252] Dreux du Radier, vol. vi. p. 97.

[253] Wraxall, vol. v. pp. 356, 357.

[254] Abraham-Nicolas Amelot de la Houssaye, was born at Orleans in the
year 1634, and passed nearly all his life in composing works of history
and in translating the historians by whom he had been preceded. His
principal productions are _A History of the Government of Venice;
Historical, Political, Critical, and Literary Memoirs_; and translations
of the _History of the Council of Trent_, by Fra Paolo; of the _Prince_
by Machiavelli; and of the _Annals of Tacitus_. He died in 1706.

[255] Mézeray, vol. x. pp. 261, 262.

[256] Sully, _Mém_. vol. iv. p. 125.

[257] Pierre Fougeuse, Sieur d'Escures.

[258] Daniel, vol. vii. pp. 453, 454.

[259] Treasurer of the war department, and lieutenant-general at Riom.

[260] Philibert de Nérestan, knight of Malta, and captain of the
bodyguard of Henri IV, was as celebrated for his admirable qualities of
mind and heart as for the antiquity of his birth. He was grand master of
the Orders of St. Lazarus and Notre-Dame du Mont Carmel, the latter of
which was instituted by the sovereign at his intercession.

[261] Matthieu, _Hist, des Derniers Troubles_, book ii. p. 438.
Péréfixe, vol. ii. pp. 406, 407.

[262] L'Etoile, vol. iii. p. 242.

[263] _Mémoires,_ vol. v. p. 185.

[264] L'Etoile, vol. iii. p. 243.

[265] Charlotte, eldest daughter of Henri, Duc de Montmorency, High
Constable of France.

[266] L'Etoile, vol. iii. pp. 247-249.

[267] Jean Defunctis, Lieutenant criminal of the Provost of
Paris. - _Hist. Chron. de la Chancell. de France_, p. 316.

[268] Wraxall, Note quoted from _Le Laboureur sur Castelnau_, vol. v. p.

[269] Pedro Henriques Azevedo, Condé de Fuentes, succeeded to the
command of the Spanish army on the demise of the Archduke Ernest.

[270] Ambroise Spinola, Marques de los Balbazez, one of the most
distinguished generals of the seventeenth century, was the descendant of
an illustrious family of Geneva, whose branches spread alike over Italy
and Spain. He was born in 1569, and first bore arms in Flanders. In
1604, being in command of the army, he took Ostend, and in consequence
of his important services was appointed General of the Spanish troops in
the Low Countries. When opposed to Prince Maurice of Nassau, he
counterbalanced alike his renown and his success; and in 1629, when
serving in Piedmont, he took the town of Casal, but died in the
following year of vexation at having failed to reduce the fortress of
that city.

[271] Marie Touchet, Comtesse d'Entragues, was the daughter of an
apothecary at Orleans; who, on the occasion of a visit of Charles IX to
that city, obtained permission to see his Majesty dine in public, where
her extreme beauty so impressed the Monarch that he inquired her name,
and at the close of the repast despatched M. de Latour, the master of
his wardrobe, to desire her attendance in his closet. The negotiation
did not prove a difficult one; as the lady, although at the moment
strongly attached to M. de Monluc, the brother of the Bishop of Valence,
could not resist the prestige of royalty. Charles, anxious to retain her
near him, requested Madame Marguerite, his sister, to receive her into
her household as a waiting-woman; but as she shortly afterwards became
pregnant, he removed her from the Court and established her in Paris,
where she gave birth to Charles, Comte d'Auvergne. Although tenderly
beloved by the King, Marie Touchet still retained her attachment to
Monluc, with whom she carried on an active correspondence, which was at
length discovered by Charles; who, having on one occasion been apprised
that she had at the moment a letter from her former lover in her pocket,
instantly caused a number of the Court ladies to be invited to supper;
and they were no sooner assembled than he sent to desire a man named
Chambre, the chief of a band of gipsies, to disperse a dozen of his most
expert followers about the apartment, with orders to cut away the
pockets of all the guests and to bring them carefully to his closet when
he retired for the night. He then caused the faithless favourite to be
seated beside himself, in order that she might not have an opportunity
of disposing of the letter elsewhere; and the Bohemians having adroitly
obeyed his instructions, the King found himself a few hours afterwards
in possession of the booty. In the pocket of Marie Touchet he
discovered, as he had anticipated, the letter of M. de Monluc; which, on
the following morning, he placed, with the most bitter reproaches, in
the hands of its owner; who, on finding herself detected, declared that
the pocket in which the King had discovered it was not hers, a
subterfuge by which, as the letter bore no address, she hoped to escape
the anger and indignation of her royal lover. Unfortunately, however,
Charles recognized several of the trinkets by which it had been
accompanied; and she had, consequently, no alternative save to
acknowledge her fault and to entreat for pardon. Charles, who could not
resist her tears, was soon induced to promise this, provided she pledged
herself to relinquish all intercourse with Monluc; and in order to
render her performance of this pledge more sure, he shortly afterwards
married her to the Comte d'Entragues, whose complaisance he rewarded by
the government of Orleans. - L'Etoile, _Hist, de Henri IV,_ vol. iii.
pp. 247-249.

[272] Dreux du Radier, vol. vi. p. 98. Saint-Edmé, vol. ii. p. 227.
L'Etoile, vol. iii. p. 247.

[273] Antoine Eugène Chevillard, general treasurer of the gendarmerie of

[274] Sully, _Mém_. vol. v. p. 161, quoted from Amelot de la Houssaye.

[275] Dreux du Radier, vol. vi. p. 99.

[276] Mademoiselle de Bueil became Comtesse de Chésy on the 5th of
October 1604, and two months later she obtained a divorce. M. de Chésy
died in 1652.

[277] Péréfixe, vol. ii. p. 401.

[278] Sully, _Mém_. vol. v. pp. 193-197.

[279] Guillaume Fouquet, Sieur de la Varenne, was one of those
singularly-gifted individuals who by the unaided power of intellect are
raised from obscurity to fortune. On his first introduction to the Court
of France, his position was merely that of cloak-bearer to the King; but
his excessive acuteness and his genius for intrigue soon drew upon him
the attention of the Cabinet. The event that originally procured for him
the favour by which he so largely profited in the sequel was a voyage to
Spain, voluntarily undertaken under unusual difficulties. The courier
who was conveying to Philip the despatches of the Duc de Mayenne and the
other chiefs of the League, having been taken by the emissaries of Henri
IV, and the despatches opened by his ministers, it was decided that
copies should be made, and the originals resealed and forwarded to their
destination by some confidential person who might bring back the
replies, in order that a more perfect judgment might be formed by the
Council of their probable result. For such an undertaking as this,
however, it was obvious that a messenger must be found at once faithful,

Online LibraryJulia PardoeThe Life of Marie de Medicis — Volume 1 → online text (page 21 of 32)