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The Life of Marie de Medicis — Volume 2 online

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Don Rodrigo Calderon
Chevalier de Guise
Duc de Luxembourg-Piney
Cardinal de Gondy
Cosmo, Grand Duke of Tuscany
Duc de la Rochefoucauld
Duc de Retz
Bishop of Saintes
M. de Verdun
M. de Servin
Comte de Brienne
Baron du Pont-Saint-Pierre
M. Miron
M. Le Fèvre
M. de Rivault
Comte de Laval
Cardinal de Richelieu
M. Le Jay
Comte de Saint-Pol
Duque d'Usseda
M. Mangot
M. de Puisieux
M. Barbin
Madame de Motteville
Marquis de Thémines
M. de Saint-Géran.
M. Déageant
Maréchal de Schomberg
Maréchal d'Ornano
Marquis de Bressieux
M. de Rouvray
Comte de Fiesque
Jean Goujon
Mlle. de Montbazon




Engraved by Freeman from the Original by Lestang in
the Versailles Gallery.

Engraved by Gouttière from the Original by Alaux.

Engraved by Bourgeois.

Engraved by W. Greatbach from a Print by Masson, after
P. Mignard.

Engraved by Rouargue from the Original by Rouillard.









Preparations for the coronation of Marie de Medicis - Wherefore
deferred - They are resumed - The Cathedral of St. Denis - -Gorgeous _coup
d'oeil_ - The procession - Indignation of the ex-Queen Marguerite - The
Comte and Comtesse de Soissons leave Paris - Magnificence of Marie de
Medicis and her Court - The coronation - The Queen is affectionately
received by the King on reaching the Palace - The banquet - The Court
returns to the Louvre - Last advice given by the King to the
Queen-Regent - Gloomy forebodings - The Queen's toilet - The Duc de Vendôme
and the Astrologer - The King's coach - Assassination of Henri IV - The
Queen and the Chancellor - The royal children are placed under the care
of M. de Vitry - Examination of the royal body - The King's heart - The
state bier - The royal funeral.

Having resolved that the coronation of the Queen should take place
before his departure for Germany, and being anxious to commence the
projected campaign with the least possible delay, Henry named the 5th of
May as the day on which the ceremony was to be performed; but having
learnt from a private despatch that the Archduke had resolved at the
eleventh hour not to incur the hazard of a war with France upon so
frivolous a pretext as the forcible retention of a Princess, who
moreover, remained under his charge against her own free will, and that
Madame de Condé was accordingly about to return to the French Court, he
resolved to defer the pageant until the advent of the fair fugitive who
would, as he felt, constitute its brightest ornament. The succeeding
courier from the Low Countries, however, dispelled this brilliant
vision. Whatever might have been the personal inclination of the
Archduke, Philip of Spain determined to retain his hostage; and the
return of the Princess to France was interdicted. Enraged by the deceit
which had been practised upon him, but unwilling to forfeit his word to
the Queen, Henry had no alternative save to order the instant renewal of
the preparations which he had himself suspended; and despite the
entreaties of the municipal authorities of Paris, who represented the
impossibility of completing their arrangements before the end of the
month, he persisted in his resolution of causing the Queen to be crowned
on the 13th, and commanded her public entry into Paris for the following

On the 11th (Tuesday) he said to those around him, "I shall sleep at St.
Denis to-morrow night, and return to Paris on Thursday; I shall arrange
all my private affairs on Friday; on Saturday I shall drive about the
city; Sunday will be the state entry of the Queen; on Monday my daughter
De Vendôme will be married; on Tuesday the banquet will take place; and
on Wednesday I mount for Germany." [2]

The Court accordingly slept at St. Denis on the night of the 12th, in
order to be in readiness for the ceremony of the morrow; and the morning
of the eventful day which was to witness the crowning triumph of Marie
de Medicis at length dawned. A brilliant spring sun robed the earth in
brightness; but nowhere did it light up a scene of greater magnificence
than when, filtered through the windows of stained glass, it poured
itself in a living mosaic over the marble pavement of the cathedral, and
flashed upon the sumptuous hangings and golden draperies which were
distributed over the spacious area of the edifice. Immediately in front
of the high altar a platform had been erected eleven feet in height, and
upwards of twenty feet square, in the centre of which was a daïs richly
carpeted, supporting the throne of the Queen, covered with crimson
velvet embroidered with _fleurs-de-lis_ in gold, and overshadowed by a
canopy of the same material. On either side of this throne two other
platforms were appropriated to the Princes of the Blood, the Knights of
the several Orders, the Gentlemen of the Bedchamber, the great nobles,
the foreign ambassadors, and the ladies of the Queen's household. Within
the altar-rail on the left hand, a bench draped with cloth of gold was
prepared for the cardinals; and behind this was a second bench reserved
for the archbishops, bishops, and other ecclesiastics who were to
assist at the ceremony; while on the same side of the shrine stood a
table overlaid by a costly drapery, upon which were to be deposited the
crown, the coronet, the sceptre, the hand of justice, and the ring
destined to be employed during the ceremony. On the right hand of the
altar was placed a _prie-dieu_ covered with violet velvet bordered and
fringed with gold, upon which were placed two cushions of the same
material for the use of the Cardinal de Joyeuse, who was to officiate;
and behind this was a table corresponding with that on the left, and
covered by a similar drapery, supporting the bread, wine, and waxen
tapers which the master of the ceremonies was instructed to deliver to
the ladies who were selected to make the offering for the Queen.

The floor of the choir extending from the principal platform to the high
altar was carpeted with crimson velvet edged with gold; and above this
was stretched a second drapery of cloth of gold for the passage of her
Majesty; myriads of lights were grouped about the lateral shrines, the
carved columns of the venerable edifice were veiled by magnificent
hangings, and the gorgeous vestments of the prelates cumbered the open
presses of the sacristy.

An hour after dawn a compact crowd peopled the vast interior of St.
Denis; persons of all ranks, from the artizan to the petty noble and his
family, rushed tumultuously towards the sacred edifice, in order to
secure a sight of the august solemnity; and great was the surprise of
all to find themselves already preceded by the King, who came and went
throughout the early part of the morning, superintending every
arrangement in person, and apparently overlooking his bodily ailments in
the extraordinary excitement under which he laboured.

The Dauphin, Madame the elder Princess, the ex-Queen Marguerite, the
Princes of the Blood, and great dignitaries who were summoned to assist
at the ceremony, accompanied by the Cardinals de Gondy and de Sourdis,
proceeded at an early hour to the Louvre to conduct the Queen to the
cathedral; and it was no sooner announced that her Majesty was prepared
to set forth than the procession formed.

The ceremonial had not, however, been definitively arranged without
considerable difficulty. Marguerite, who, whatever might be her errors,
could not contemplate her presence at this solemnity as a mere spectator
without considerable heart-burning, considered herself aggrieved by the
fact that instead of following immediately behind the Queen, she was to
be preceded by Madame Elisabeth, still a mere child; and so great was
her indignation at this discovery, that she was very reluctantly induced
to abandon her intention of pretexting illness, and absenting herself
entirely from the pageant. The earnest remonstrances of her friends, who
represented to her the certainty of the King's serious displeasure,
alone determined her to sacrifice her dignity; and although she
ultimately consented to submit to an arrangement which she considered
as an encroachment upon her rights as the daughter of a long line of
sovereigns, rather than draw down upon herself the resentment of the
monarch, she wept bitterly while she prepared to swell the retinue of
her successor.[3] The Comte de Soissons was less compliant; for it was
no sooner announced to him that the Duchesse de Vendôme, the wife of the
King's natural son, was to appear in a mantle embroidered with
_fleurs-de-lis_ similar to those worn by the Princesses of the Blood,
than he loudly declared that he would not countenance so disgraceful an
innovation; and having ordered his household to prepare for an instant
departure from Paris, he left the capital with the Princess his wife,
and retired to one of his country seats.[4]

Despite this secession, however, the suite of Marie de Medicis was one
of supreme magnificence. The procession was opened by the Swiss Guards,
habited in velvet vests of her own colours, tawny, blue, crimson, and
white; then followed two companies, each composed of a hundred nobles,
the first wearing habiliments of tawny-coloured satin braided with gold,
and the second pourpoints of white satin and breeches of tawny colour;
these were succeeded by the Lords of the Bedchamber, chamberlains, and
other great officers of the royal household, superbly attired; who were,
in their turn, followed by the Knights of the Holy Ghost wearing the
collar of their Order. A body of trumpeters walked after them richly
dressed in blue velvet; and then came the heralds in full armour, and
the Ushers of the Chamber with their maces.

When these had passed the more important personages of the procession
issued from the gates of the Louvre; and the glorious spring sun flashed
upon the jewelled caps and capes of the Princes of the Blood, glistened
over their vests of cloth of gold, and toyed with the gemmed hilts of
their diamond-studded weapons. Preceding the Queen were the Prince de
Conti and the Comte d'Anquien;[5] while immediately before her walked
the Dauphin clad in a habit of cloth of silver, profusely ornamented
with precious stones; and then came Marie herself, in the full glory of
conscious dignity and triumph, wearing a coronet of jewels, a
richly-gemmed stomacher, a surcoat of ermine, and a royal mantle seven
French ells in length, composed of purple velvet embroidered with
_fleurs-de-lis_ in gold and diamonds, and bordered with ermine, which
was borne on either side of her by the two Cardinals, and at its
extremity by the Dowager Princess of Condé,[6] the Princesse de Conti,
the Dowager Duchess of Montpensier, and the Duchesse de Mercoeur;[7]
whose trains were in like manner supported by four nobles habited in
cloth of gold and silver, and covered with jewels.

Then followed Madame Elisabeth de France and the ex-Queen Marguerite,
wearing mantles covered with _fleurs-de-lis_ embroidered in gold,
carried by four nobles richly attired, with their capes and caps laced
with jewels; and the gorgeous train was finally closed by the Princesses
of the Blood and Duchesses, whose trains were in like manner borne by
some of the principal noblemen of the Court. All these ladies wore their
coronets enriched with pearls and diamonds, save such as were widows, to
whom the use of gems was interdicted by the fashion of the age.

To these succeeded the ladies of the Queen's household, among whom the
Marquise de Guercheville[8] and Madame de Concini excited the most
curiosity; the latter from the high favour which she enjoyed, and the
extraordinary elevation to which it had conduced; and the former from a
cause infinitely more honourable to her as a woman. While the widow of
her first husband, Henri de Silly, Comte de la Rochepot, her grace and
beauty attracted Henri IV, who pertinaciously endeavoured to win her
affections. His degrading suit was, however, so resolutely although
respectfully rejected, that the King, impressed by her merit, on one
occasion declared that the title which would be the most applicable to
her would be that of a lady of honour, and that such she should become
whenever another Queen ascended the throne of France. The Marquise
curtsied her thanks, without attaching any importance to so very
prospective a distinction; but six years subsequently, when the Court of
Marie de Medicis was formed, the promised appointment was conferred upon
her; and she fulfilled the duties of her office with a dignified and
unobtrusive zeal which secured to her the esteem and respect of her
royal mistress.[9]

Thus escorted, Marie de Medicis entered the cathedral; where, having
been conducted to the front of the high altar, she knelt upon a cushion
near which stood the Cardinal de Joyeuse in his pontifical robes,
surrounded by a group of high ecclesiastical dignitaries, and supported
by the Cardinal Duperron. When the Queen had concluded her prayer, and
kissed the reliquary which was presented to her by Mgr. de Joyeuse, she
was led to her throne in the same state as that with which she had
approached the altar; and she had no sooner taken her place than the
Dauphin seated himself in the chair which had been prepared for him;
and Madame and the ex-Queen, followed by the Princesses of the Blood and
the great ladies of the Court, after having successively made a profound
curtsey to the Queen, followed his example. This done, the Cardinals de
Gondy and de Sourdis descended from the platform, and took up their
position on the left of the altar, while the Princes were marshalled to
their places by the royal ushers; and meanwhile the musicians of her
Majesty performed divers melodies suited to the place and the occasion.

After the lapse of a few moments the two Cardinals again ascended the
platform to reconduct her Majesty to the altar, which she reached in the
same order as she had previously done, save that the Dauphin now walked
on her right hand and Madame Elisabeth upon her left. Having knelt as
before in silent prayer, she was ultimately raised by the Prince and
Princess, and stood with her head bowed upon her breast while the
Cardinal de Joyeuse commenced the appropriate orisons, and received from
the hand of two of the bishops the vase containing the holy oil, and the
platen. Having poured out a portion of the former, the prelate anointed
the Queen upon the head and chest; after which he received from a third
bishop the consecrated ring, which he placed upon her finger.

The sceptre and the hand of justice were then tendered to him, and
transferred to the august recipient; and finally the crown of state was
presented upon a cushion, and held above her head by the Dauphin and
Madame Elisabeth, by whom it was subsequently consigned to the keeping
of the Prince de Conti, while another of smaller size, enriched with a
profusion of diamonds, rubies, and pearls of immense value, was placed
upon her brow; and Marie de Medicis at length stood in the midst of her
assembled Court the crowned and anointed Queen of France.

A vigorous flourish of trumpets proclaimed the termination of the
ceremony. Marie resigned the sceptre and the hand of justice to the two
Princes who stood next to her, and once more ascended the throne; where
she was no sooner seated than M. de Conti placed before her the crown of
state which he had carried upon a stool covered with cloth of gold, and
knelt beside it. The Prince who bore the sceptre then assumed the same
attitude on the right hand of the Queen, and his companion carrying the
hand of justice upon her left. A solemn high mass was next performed,
and at its close the herald-at-arms cast, in the Queen's name, a shower
of gold and silver coin among the crowds who thronged the church; while
Marie herself, descending from the platform, and attended as before,
slowly left the sacred edifice and returned to the robing-room.

The King, who had witnessed the whole ceremony from his private tribune,
was more rapid in his movements, and hastened to regain his chamber;
whence he watched the brilliant procession as it advanced with an
undisguised delight that was inexplicable to those who were aware of
the reluctance with which he had yielded to the desire of the Queen, and
who had consequently anticipated no demonstration on his part save one
of irritation and annoyance. Greatly, therefore, were they surprised
when, as she passed beneath the window at which he had taken up his
station, they saw him scatter some perfumed water on her head in order
to induce her to look up; after which he hurriedly descended the great
staircase to receive and welcome her, and with every possible exhibition
of affection and respect conducted her to the hall in which the banquet
had been prepared.

Throughout this sumptuous repast the gaiety of the monarch excited the
comments of all by whom he was surrounded; and it was generally remarked
that he had not for many months yielded to such an effervescence of
spirits. At length, however, the festival drew to its close; lords and
ladies were alike overwhelmed by the fatigues of the past day; and their
Majesties, having taken a gracious leave of their illustrious guests,
entered one of the royal carriages and proceeded to the Louvre.[10]

The numerous foreigners who had assembled from every part of Europe in
order to witness the ceremony were lost in astonishment at the profusion
of jewels displayed upon the occasion, declaring that they had never
before witnessed such a spectacle; and that even at the world-famed
entry of the Spanish Queen into Madrid, where Italy and Spain had alike
exhibited all their riches, they could not be compared with those
possessed by the French Court alone; nor was their surprise diminished
when they learnt that on the following Sunday, when Marie de Medicis was
to enter Paris in state, they would be convinced that they had not as
yet seen a tithe of the splendour which the great nobles and ladies of
the kingdom were enabled to display upon such occasions.[11]

From the moment in which the King decided upon personally superseding
the Maréchal de Lesdiguières[12] in his command of the army in
Champagne, he had been unwearied in his advice to the Queen for the
efficient government of the country. He exhorted her to great caution in
changing her ministers, earnestly impressing upon her the danger of
entrusting state affairs to individuals whose probity and experience
were not well assured, or of displacing others without great and serious
cause. He, moreover, especially besought her never to permit the
interference of foreigners in the internal economy of the kingdom, as by
such ill-placed confidence she could not fail to alienate from herself
the affections of all true Frenchmen; to uphold the authority of the
Parliament, but on no account to countenance its dictation, confining
its operations to their legitimate sphere, and enforcing its submission
to her own delegated supremacy; never to suffer herself to be misled by
her passions or prejudices, but to weigh all her measures maturely
before she insisted upon their enforcement; to protect the Jesuits, but
at the same time to be careful not to allow them to increase their
numbers, or to form establishments upon the frontiers; to attach the
nobility by favours which could not endanger the interests of the
throne, but to be cautious in her concessions where they might tend to
any undue aggrandizement of their former power and influence; and, above
all, not rashly to undertake any war against the Huguenots until she had
received full assurance of being enabled to terminate it successfully.
As regarded the Dauphin, he declared that his greatest desire was to see
him the husband of Mademoiselle de Lorraine, provided the Duke should
not have other children; as, in such case, the French nation would be
aggrandized by the territories of a state from which it had received
much and grievous injury. He expressed, moreover, the greatest
repugnance to the proposed marriage between Madame Elisabeth and the
Infant of Spain, alleging as his reason the perpetual rivalry of the two
powers, and the circumstance that the prosperity of the one must
necessarily involve the abasement of the other; and finally he declared
that were he compelled to give the hand of his daughter to a Spanish
Prince, it should be to a younger brother who might be declared Duke of
Flanders, and not to the heir to the throne.[13]

The Queen, while listening to these counsels, did not cease her
entreaties that he would abandon his intention of quitting the kingdom,
and leave the conduct of the campaign to his generals. She represented
her own inexperience in state affairs, the extreme youth of the Dauphin,
and the long life which he himself might still enjoy if he did not
voluntarily place himself in situations of peril, which was the less
required of him as he had already established his fame as a soldier
throughout the whole of Europe. Henry answered only by a jest. Love and
ambition alike lured him on; and beneath their baneful influence
prudence and reason were silenced.[14]

On the morning succeeding the coronation of his royal consort, the King
attended mass at the church of the Feuillants, where he was accompanied
by the Duc de Guise and M. de Bassompierre; and as he was still in the
same exuberant spirits as on the preceding day, a great deal of light
and desultory conversation took place during their return to the palace;
which was, however, abruptly terminated by Henry, whose countenance
became suddenly overcast as he said in reply to a gay remark made by M.
de Guise -

"Even you do not understand me now; but one of these days, when I am
dead, you will learn my value."

"My God! Sire," exclaimed Bassompierre, "will you never cease to pain us
by these constant allusions to your approaching death? These are things
which should not be said. You will live, please God, long and happy
years. What fate can be more enviable than your own? You are now in the
prime of life, strong and healthy; surrounded by honour and respect; in
tranquil possession of the most flourishing kingdom upon earth; adored
by your subjects; rich in money, palaces, and lands; wooed by fair
women; loved by handsome favourites; with a host of noble children
growing up about you. What can you require beyond this, and what more do
you wish?"

"My friend," replied the King with a long-drawn sigh, "I must resign all
these things."

As he uttered these words, the usher on duty threw open the door of his
closet; and extending his hand to his two companions, which they
successively raised to their lips, he disappeared.[15]

As the Queen was to dance a _branle_ and to appear in a ballet that
evening at the Louvre, she was on the King's return closeted with the
Princesse de Conti, the Maréchale de Fervaques,[16] the Comtesse du
Fargis,[17] and Madame Concini, her ladies of honour, busied in the
selection of the costume in which she purposed to appear. Having
ascertained this fact, Henry remained alone in his apartment, until it
was announced to him that the Duc de Vendôme solicited the honour of a
private audience. He was instantly admitted; and after having excused
himself for thus intruding upon the privacy of the monarch at a moment
when, as he was well aware, the mind of the King was occupied by
subjects of importance both to himself and to the state, he informed his
royal father that La Brosse, a famous astrologer, had declared that the
constellation under which his Majesty was born threatened him with
imminent danger during that particular day; and that he consequently
implored of him to be more than usually cautious until its close.

"Pshaw!" exclaimed the King gaily; "La Brosse is an old sharper who is
anxious to obtain some of your money; and you are a young fool to
believe him. My days are numbered before God."

When he had dined Henry threw himself upon his bed, but he tried in vain
to sleep; he then rose and paced gloomily about the room for a
considerable time, after which he once more lay down; but the result
proving the same, he again sprang to his feet, and turning abruptly to
the _exempt_ of the guard, he demanded to know the time.

"It is just four o'clock, Sire," replied the officer; "and I would
venture to suggest to your Majesty to try the effect of the open air, as
you appear harassed and out of spirits."

Online LibraryJulia PardoeThe Life of Marie de Medicis — Volume 2 → online text (page 2 of 30)