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The court and reign of Francis the First, king of France, Volume 2 online

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king ; for, even while he promised his support to the Reformists,
and induced Henry YIH. to follow his example, he had already
entered into a correspondence with the pope, requesting that they

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might meet in order to confer on the affairs of Christendom; and
offering the hand of Henry, Duke d'Orleans, his second son, to
Catherine de' Medici, the daughter of Lorenzo IE, Duke d'Urhino,
the niece of the pontiff.

Startled hy the prospect of an alliance so infinitely above his
hopes, Clement hesitated how to reply, for he doubted its sincerity,
and suspected some covert treachery ; and while under the influence
of this distrust, he communicated the proposal of Francis to the em-
peror, who, equally convinced that it was intended only as a lure,
advised him to follow up the negotiation, and thus entangle the
French king in his own toils. But Charles was unaware of the
policy which had dictated the offer. Francis still coveted the pos-
session of Italy; and regarding the pope as the pivot of Italian
politics, he looked upon his friendship and alliance as the comer-
stone of success. To secure these he consequently considered no
sacrifice too great; and hence the proposal which had been received
with so much suspicion both by the pontiff and the emperor. As,
however, even while pursuing the negotiation, Clement VII. had
evinced no anxiety to bring it to a conclusion, Francis resolved to
maintain his friendly intelligence with the English king; and to
secure his assistance in extorting from the fears of the pope what he
could not obtain from his favour.

An opportunity soon presented itself of effecting this stroke of
policy ; for the two monarchs were still at Calais when intelligence
reached them, that Charles V, having terminated his campaign
against the Infidels, was about to leave Germany, and to repair to
Spain through Italy, where he was to be met at Bologna by the
pope. Alarmed at the consequences of such a meeting at that par-
ticular juncture, it was immediately proposed by Francis, and agreed
by Henry, that the cardinals of Toumon and Grammont should be
despatched to accompany the sovereign-pontiff, an attendance which
he could not refuse from two princes of the church; and that they
should be authorised to inform him that the Kings of England and
France were prepared to demand a general council, in default of
which they would convene distinct assemblies within their own king-
doms; when, in the event of this measure being forced upon them,
they should prohibit their subjects from forwarding money to Eome.

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That, moreover, should the pontiff persist in pursning with his cen-
sure the Most Christian king and his reahn, and his majesty find it
expedient to repair to Rome in order to ohtain his absolution, he
would do so with such a train of followers that His Holiness would
easily be induced to satisfy his demand ; and they were also instructed
to remind him of the religious anarchy which existed not only in
Germany and the Helvetic states, but throughout the whole of
Christian Europe, and to bid him reflect upon the diminished in-
fluence of the Eomish Church ^ as well as upon the &ct, that, should
two of the most powerful sovereigns of Christendom forsake his
interests because they had been denied the justice which they de-
manded, they would infallibly find so many other princes ready to
make common cause with them, that the result must be £a.tal to
his authority.

After this combined declaration the two kings took leave of each
other on the 30th of October, on the same spot where they had met^
and with every demonstration of cordiality and affection; M. de
Montpezat, the fortunate adventurer, who, after the battle of Pavia,
had officiated as valet-de<^ambre to Francis in his captivity, and
who had been appointed one of his chamberlains, accompanying
Henry YUI. to England as the ambassador of his sovereign.

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1538-34.] FRANCIS THE FIRST. 167



The two French cardinals did not reach Bologna, whither the
pope and the emperor had already preceded them, until the 4th of
January, 1533; and they soon became aware that all the menaces
with which they were charged might be left unuttered, as the pon-
tiff was avowedly anxious to secure the friendship of their royal
master, even declaring that he should scarcely consider any sacrifice
too great by which he might regain it. And there can be no doubt
that he was sincere when he made this assertion i for, infirm as he
might be in purpose, and timid in the maintenance of his privileges
and power, when he was required to support his pretensions by force,
he was by no means deficient in the more subtle science of diplo-
macy; and readily comprehended that, should Francis, in reality,
hold himself bound to fulfil the contract into which he had entered,
he could anticipate no equivalent advantage at the hands of the

Clement "VU, like his kinsman and predecessor in the papal dig-
nity, Leo X, was devoted to the interests of his family, and his
ruling passion was the aggrandizement of the house of Medicis. He
had seen, with an anguish which he could not always conceal, the
apparently rapid extinction of his line ; for in that light he regarded
only the elder branch, who were the direct descendants of Como ;
and of whom none remained save Catherine, the Duchess d'Urbino,
whose father was the great-grandson of Como ; and who, although
she bore the title of his niece, was in point of fact the grand-daugh-
ter of his own cousin-germain. The remainder, consisting of him-
self and his brothers, were illegitimate, and of these the pope was
the eldest ; Alessandro, upon whom he bad conferred the duchy of

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168 THE COUBT AND BEIGN OF [1533-34.

Florence, the second ; and HyppoHtO; whom he had created a cardi-
nal, the third. It will, therefore, readily be believed that Clement
reflected with exultation upon the alliance of his niece with a prince
of the blood royal of France; and the two cardinals were earnest in
their assurances of the good faith of their sovereign. It is true that
Charles V." had previously promised to Alessandro the hand of his
daughter Marguerite, but the same stain was affixed to her birth
which rested upon his own ; whereas, the Duke d^ Orleans was the
legitimate descendant of a line of princes.

The more, therefore, the pontiff reflected upon the proposal of
Francis, and the more closely and carefully he compared the advan-
tages which he should secure from his adhesion to either sovereign,
the more he became convinced that the period for hesitation was at
an end ; and having arrived at this conclusion, the French cardinals
had no sooner requested his decision with regard to the meeting
proposed by their monarch, than he declared his readiness, notwith-
standing his advanced age and failing strength, to undertake a jour-
ney to Savoy for the purpose of a personal conference. To this
place of meeting, Francis, however, instantly objected, as, since the
death of his mother, he had ceased to maintain any friendly inter-
course with her family, who had been enriched and protected by the
emperor. Clement then proposed Nice ; but from the same motive
the French king equally refused to enter that city, unless he were
permitted to garrison both the town and the citadel with his own
troops. From this concession the Duke de Savoic was dissuaded by
Charles V; who was anxious to prevent the meeting; and ultimately
the pope, who dreaded the failure of his brilliant hopes, declared his
willingness even to proceed to France, and selected Marseilles as the
place of rendezvous.

Two events had, however, occurred at Milan and Wirtemberg,
which were calculated to retard the good understanding between the
sovereign-pontiff and the French king, which each were so anxious
to establish. Francis, in utter disregard of the treaty of Cambray,
had never ceased his intrigues, either in Italy or in Germany. He
could not forego his desire to secure once more the possession of
Milan ; and even while in treaty with the pope to accomplish the

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invasion of the duchy, he had endeavoured to renew his alliance
with the duke himself.

Lorenzo Sforza, who had suffered severely from the enmity of the
Spaniards during the war, had for some time past found himself a
mere puj^t in their hands. He possessed nothing of sovereignty
save the name. He was a mere vassal to the emperor, by whose
exorbitant demands he was impoverished; and moreover subjected
to the surveillance of Antonio da Leyva, between whom and himself
there existed an enmity of long standing, and who took a savage
delight in exposing him to the most constant and bitter humiliations.

Under these circumstances, it will be readily understood that
Sforza did not reject the overtures of the French king 3 for he was
too well aware of his inability to protect himself against the exac-
tions of the emperor, to lose so favourable an opportunity of securing
the alliance of a powerful monarch; and it was consequently without
any hesitation that he consented to permit the return of a Milanese
emigrant, who, during the reign of Louis XII. had followed the
grand equerry Galeaz San Sev^rino, to Prance, where he had ac-
cumulated a large fortune; and even allowed him to act as the
secret agent of Francis at his court. His immense wealth enabled
Maraviglia, the individual in question, to entertain the nobles of
Milan with a profiise liberality, by which he soon attained great
popularity; and although many of the courtiers and foreigners who
were then sojourning in the duchy, were not without suspicion that
his favour with Sforza was not altogether unconnected with interests
beyond a mere personal regard, the precautions which had been
adopted on both sides proved so efficient as to baffle, for a time, the
curiosity of those who sought to elucidate the mystery.

Maraviglia had, on bis departure from France, been famished
with letters of credence, which were to be kept secret unless circum-
stances should imperatively demand their recognition on the part of
the French king; while a second document, which merely recom-
mended him to Sforza as a person worthy of his favour and protec-
tion, was also delivered to him, which he was instructed to present
to the duke, in the presence of his court.

Francis was, however, equally unfortunate in his selection of aa
agent and an ally; for the vanity of Maraviglia was so inflated by
VOL. II. — 15

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170 THE COURT AKD BEIGN 07 [1583-34.

the &ct of Us having become the accredited envoy of a crowned
heady that it was not long ere he aseumed an authority and im-
portance wholly incompatible with his station as a mere Milanese
citizen; and, adopting a custom which had been introduced into
Italy by the Spaniards, surrounded himself by a set of attendants
who recognised no law beyond his pleasure, and were ever ready to
seek and even to provoke quarrels, in which they a£Eected to uphold
the honour of their master, with which Maraviglia soon taught him-
self to believe that that of the French nation was involved.

The arrogance of ih.ejHirvenu gentleman ere long aroused the ever
watchful distrust of the emperor, who complained to Sforza of the
insults to which his subjects were exposed by the countenance he
had seen fit to afford to an individual who could advance no claim
to such a distinction, unless he were aware that he was supported by
a higher power; while it was equally evident that should such i^
power exist, it could only be derived from the King of France; in
which case he, the emperor, as the suzerain of the Duke of Milan,
demanded the immediate dismissal of Maraviglia from the court;
adding, that should Sforza hesitate to comply with his commands,
the projected marriage between himself and the Princess of Denmark
was thenceforward at an end.

The faitiiless ally, upon this threat, proved even a more dangerous
confidant than the ostentatious agent; for he did not scruple, while
forwarding to the emperor the letter of recommendation which had
been given to Maraviglia, to deckre that he simply recognised in
him a Milanese citizen to whom Francis had requested him to show
fisivour; and that, in acting as he had done, he had merely sought
to give a worthy welcome to a person presented to him by one of
the most powerful monarchs of Christendom. Charles Y. was not,
however, to be so deceived; he still urged the removal of the ob-
noxious and mysterious recipient of the ddke's fiivour; and, ulti-
mately, Sforza assured him that if he would only grant him the
respite of a few days, he would c(mvince him of the error of his

Precisely at this period, one of the lacqueys of Maraviglia, pre-
tending to consider that words had been uttered by the Count Cas-
tiglione, a Milanese nobleman, which affected the honour of his

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1583-84.J FRANCIS THE FIRST. 171

master, immediately resented tbe affront in very unmeasured tenns;
but the county probably considering the menial as too low in rank to
pennit him to reply to his intemperate address^ silently shrugged
his shoulders and passed on; when a second attendant of Maraviglia,
either more courageous or more insolent than his comrade, followed
up the defiance by pursuing the retiring noble, and declaring that
he could not suffer such assertions to be made against the master
whose livery he wore, and whom all the Milanese, whatever might
be their station, were bound to respect. Castiglione, who felt that
his dignity would be involved by a brawl with the lacquey of an
Adventurer, bade him put up his sword, which he had already un-
sheathed, asserting that it was not for him to measure weapons with
a hired dependent; and, with a haughtiness and self-possession
which only tended to aggravate the passion of his self-constituted
opponent, referred him to a couple of his own followers, to whom he
delegated the task of arranging the quarrel.

This richly merited but unpalatable check by no means tended to
diminish the rage of the bully by whom he had been defied ; while,
on the other hand, the individuals of the count's suit« were justly
indignant at the disrespect evinced towards their lord ; and accord-
ingly, the two whom, as he proceeded on his way, he left behind
him to discuss the merits of the affair, at once flung themselves upon
the offender, and would have sacrificed him on the spot had they not
been prevented by the bystanders.

When the circumstances of this outbreak were communicated to
the duke, he insisted that no further notice should be taken of an
affieur which had evidently originated in a mistake, and which could
profit neither party; a decision in which Maraviglia instantly ac-
quiesced, declaring that he was unconscious of having a single enemy
in Milan, where he had sought to conciliate all with whom he came
into contact. But it would appear that Castiglione had received
other and more secret instructions ; for it is certain that he after-
wards adopted a habit of constantly passing and repassing in front
of the residence of Maraviglia, attended by a dozen armed attendants,
and even attacked some of his people on one occasion without pro-
vocation of any sort. The unfortunate agent, becoming alarmed for
his personal safety, at once appealed to the magistrature for protect

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172 THE COUKT AND RBiaN OF [1688-84.

tion^ but the interference of the civic authoritiea produced no satig-
factory result. Castiglione persisted in his system of annoyance and
aggression ; and ultimately lost his life in an attack which he made
upon the retainers of Maraviglia^ who no sooner saw him fall than
they totally routed his followers. This murder, committed in open
daylight, and in a city where such enormities were unknown, excited
uniyersal indignation. Marayiglia was arrested on the following
morning, as well as the whole of his household } he was tried without
delay, and three days afterwards he was decapitated.

The indignation of Francis was unbounded when he was made
acquainted with the fate of his equerry and agent ; and he forthwith
wrote to the pope, the emperor, and the Duke of Milan, complaining
that he had suffered a ciying indignity in the person of his ambas-
sador, the sacred character of whose mission, hitherto respected
throughout Europe, had been grossly violated. He also addressed
letters of a similar tenor to Ferdinand, King of the Homans, to
^enry Viil, and to the Helvetic States, as well as to all the petty
European princes, representing the mischievous effect of such a pre-
cedent, should it be suffered to remain unchastised, and calling upon
them to avenge the insult offered to his kingly station and authority.

Sforza, in reply to this expostulation, at once despatched Fran-
cesco Tavema, his chancellor, to France, to offer his apologies for
what had occurred ; and even carried his audacity so far as to instruct
his envoy to declare to the king that he had never regarded Marar
viglia in any other light than that of a simple citizen, and that, con-
sequently, he was totally unprepared to expect that his majesty could
feel so great an interest in his fate. He also authorized him to state
that he was unaware of his holding official employment, which
rendered his person sacred, having always been led to believe that
Maraviglia had been induced to return to Milan, simply by a desire
to expend the money which he had amassed abroad among his own
countrymen, although he was cognisant of the fact that his majesty
had honoured him with the arrangement of some private business
totally unconnected with considerations of policy ; but that, had he
entertained the most remote idea that the unfortunate gentlemaii
had been officially employed by so great a prince, to whom he him*
self owed so deep a debt^of gratitude and respect, he would have

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1583*-34.] FRAKOIS THB PIItST< 178

watched oyer his days with a solicitude which must have averted a
catastrophe that he should jiow never cease to deplore; while, recog-
nising only in the accused gentleman a subject bf his own, he had
deemed it his duty to avenge upon him the blood of Oount Oastig-
lione, who was one of the officers of his household.

Francis indignantly refused to receive so hypocritical an explana-
tion ; and in the presence of the members of the privy council, at
which Tavema had delivered the exculpatory message of the duke^
he sternly asserted that he was able to produce letters Which would
suffice to show that^ the duke had individually recognised the official
character of the man whom he had, in defiance of ^e law of nations^
subjected to an ignominious death. This declaration, for which he
was wholly unprepared, startled the Milanese chancellor; and when
the king proceeded to inquire how it was, if the duke his master had
indeed recognised in Maraviglia only a simple subject, that he had
been led to violate in his case the usual forms of law; and, instead
of affi)rding him time and opportunity to refute the accusations
brought against him, or, in de&ult of his being able to do this, of
causing him publicly to suffer death under the eyes of the assembled
citizens of Milan, he had deprived him of all intercourse with the
friends by whom he might have been justified, extorted &lse aocttsa-
tions from his servants under the influence of torture, tudd finally
executed him during the ni^t within the precincts of his prison;
the emb^rassed envoy, although esteemed one of tiie most able
advocates of his day, replied lalteringly, that the arrangement had
originated in the deep respect entertained by the duke towards his
majesty, whom he was unwilling to expose to the indignity which
the public execution of one of his recognised agents would have
appeared to sanction.

" Enough," said Francis, with a stem gesture : " Your reply is a
sufficient admission that the official character of my murdered am-
bassador was fully recognised by the Duke of Milan. And now,
Sir, bear to your master the plain assurance that if he do not afford
to me the satisfaction which I shall not be slow in demanding, I shall
know how to render justice to myself."

As the reward of his unmanly and treacherous condescension, the
emperor fulfilled his promise to Sforza; and notwithstanding the


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174 THE OOUBT AND REIGN 07 [1633-84«

weak state of bis healthy and the premature decrepitude whieh com-
pelled him to lean upon a staff throughout the whole duration of the
nuptial ceremony, he bestowed on him, in April, 1534, the hand of
his niece Christina.'*' From the period of his marriage, however,
Sforza rapidly declined until he became totally infurm^ and on ihe
24th of October in the following year he died. As he was the last
representatiye of the Sforza feunily, Don Antonio da Leyva took
possession of the duchy in the name of the emperor, and the young
widow returned to Spain.

Meanwhile Ferdinand, King of the Romans, to whom his brother
Charles V. had entrusted the government of Grermany during his
own sojourn in Italy and Spain, had renewed a long-enduring quarrel
with the young Christophe, Duke of Wirtemberg; and this prince
applied to Francis for his support against the aggressions of the
emperor ; representing that for more than seventeen years the duke
XJlric, his father, had been dispossessed of his inheritance, and
reminding him that by his marriage with the dowager-queen of
Portugal, the sister of the emperor and the King of the Romans,
who had taken possession of his duchy, he had the honour to be allied
to his majesty through the Princess Sabine, his mother, who was
the niece of Maximilian.

Francis at first refased to interfere in a misunderstanding which
he declared to be more personal than political } but Martin du Bel-
lay, who felt a lively interest in the young and princely ap^cant,
suffering as he was from a spoliation entailed upon him by an ancient
feud, with which he had been totally unconnected, conceived an expe-
dient by which he was enabled to assist him without compromising
his sovereign; and accordingly agreed to lend him a hundred
thousand crowns on the security of the county of Montbelliard,
ostensibly as its purchaser, but in reality to enable him to pay his
troops, and to raise new levies. With this assistance, and the aid
of the Protestant princes, whose &ith he had openly embraced, the
duke was enabled to possess himself of Lauffen ; and ultimately,
with little delay, to make himself master of the duchy of Wirtem-

* The Princess Christina was the daughter of the Archduchess Elizabeth
of Austria, and of Christiern II, King of Denmark.

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1538-34.] FRANCIS THE FIBST. 175

berg; wh^re one of his &rst acts of soyereignty was to establish the
refonned religion.

Nevertheless, the war in Germany, which had been considered as
an ineyitable result of these events, was still delayed. Ferdinand,
instead of resenting a defeat which he must have keenly felt, availed
himself of the opportunity to enter into a fresh treaty with the
league of Smalkalden ; and on the 29th of June, 1534, the peace of
Nuremberg was confirmed.

This arrangement was not, however, yet concluded when the pope
commenced his journey to Marseilles; and had not his personal
ambition been involved in the interview to which he had so readily
acceded, the two events here detailed were calculated to render it of
a less pacific character than he had originally anticipated. But
Clement Vil. was already an old man, and still more aged by
infirmity than by years. His ambition had out-lasted his suscepti-
bility, and in the advancement of his family he forgot all more
politic considerations. He was aware of the support which had
been afforded to the Protestants of Germany by the monarch with
whom he was about to treat ; he had been apprised that he had
already threatened to invade Lombardy in order to avenge the death
of Maraviglia; nor was he ignorant of the close alliance which
Francis had formed with Henry YIII, and which threatened the
annihilation of the papal supremacy ; but he cast off these memories
to reflect only upon the brilliant alliai^ce which had been offered to
his niece. The evil effects likely to result , from the political mea-
sures of the French king failed to turn him from his purpose, they
regarded rather his successors than himself ; whereas the marriage

Online LibraryMiss Pardoe (Julia)The court and reign of Francis the First, king of France, Volume 2 → online text (page 17 of 45)