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

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unscrupulous duchess; but he was also conversant with her real
charactCT; and, accordingly, a few days afterwards, when he was
about to seat himself at table, and that Madame d'Etampes, who
assumed to herself the office which should by the rules of etiquette
have devolved upon a royal princess, presented a napkin, he adroitly
drew a magnificent brilliant from his finger, and sufiered it to fall to
the ground.

The duchess immediately stooped, picked up the jewel, and with
a low curtsey presented it on her open palm to its imperial owner.

" Nay, Madame," said Charles, with an obeisance as profound as

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272 THE COURT AND REIGN OF [1539-40.

her own^ ^Hhe bauble looks bo much more attractiye in your hands
than in mine that I dare not reclaim it/'

"Your Imperial Majesty surely jests," was the reply of the
fayourite; as she still tendered the ring; "I am unworthy of bo
precious a gift/'

" Of what are you not worthy, Madame f" said Charles in an ac-
cent of gallantry, as he possessed himself of her hand, and passed
the gem over one of her slender fingers ; " you, who have won the
heart of one monarch, need feel no compunction in wearing the jewel
of another/'

It is needless to explain that the offering was accepted ; or that
from that moment the avaricious favourite ceased to exhibit any
hostility towards the politic donor.

From Amboise the emperor was conducted to Blois, and thence
to Fontainebleau, where the f(§tes recommenced ; but the crowning
triumph was his entry into the capital, which took place on the 1st
of January, 1540.

The dauphin and the Duke d' Orleans, the princess of the blood,
the French cardinals, the parliament, and all the officials of the
government met him at the gates; where the two princes took their
places upon his right and left hand, while the conn^table preceded
him with his sword of office unsheathed, as though he were escort-
ing his own sovereign, and so accompanied him through the city.
The keys of the several prisons were delivered to him, as they had
previously been in the provinces ; and before he entered the palace
of the Toumelles, he declared the freedom of their occupants.
When he reached the H6tel de Ville he found all the sheriffs assem-
bled before the portal of the building to compliment him; and at
the close of their harangue they presented, as the offering of the
city of Paris to its august visitor, a Hercules in silver the size of
life, with the lion skin in which he was draped richly gilt and chased.
Thence he proceeded in the same state to Notre Dame, where a
solemn Te Deum was chanted ; after which he was conducted to the
palace and took possession of the magnificent suite of apartments
that had been newly decorated for his use; and throughout the
whole of the eight days during which he remained the guest of the
French king, the most splendid festivals were given in his honour.

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1539-40.] FRANCIS THE FIRST. 273

On his departure, when he had taken leave of the queen his sister,
the Queen of Navarre, the dauphiness, and their respective courts,
he left the city with the same pomp as he had entered it, accompanied
by his royal host and the two princes, and proceeded to Chantilly,
where he was entertained in the most costly manner by the conn4-

Tt is asserted by some historians, that the dauphin, the King of
Navarre, and the Duke de Venddme had entered into a conspiracy to
arrest him in the ch§.teau of Montmorend; and that the latter was
only enabled to dissuade them from their purpose by representing
the odium which he should personally incur throughout Europe, were
he to permit such an outrage to be committed beneath his roof. Be
this as it may, however, it is certain that, after having passed the
night at Chantilly, the emperor on the following day pursued his
journey to St. Quentin without molestation ; and having taken leave
of the king in that city, proceeded to Valenciennes, still attended
by the two princes and the conn^table.

On their arrival at Valenciennes, Montmorenci respectfully re-
minded the emperor of his promise relative to the duchy of Milan,
and requested him to appoint a given time for its fulfilment; upon
which Charles with some bitterness replied, that all the courtesy
displayed towards him by his royal brother had been counterbalanced
by the perpetual annoyance to which he had been subjected upon
that question ; and that he was at the moment so engrossed by the
afiairs of Ghent, that he could not afford time for the consideration of
any other and less pressing interest.

As the conn^table, however, persisted in urging him to a decision,
he at length declared that he should refer the matter to his council,
as he did not feel himself justified in alienating so important a por-
tion of his empire without previously obtaining the sanction of his
brother the King of the Romans; but that he should no sooner
have done so than he would be careful to make such an arrangement
as could not fail to prove agreeable to the French monarch.

With this equivocal assurance Montmorenci was coi^pelled to
content himself; and having taken his final leave of the imperial
dissembler, he returned to court with the two princes. The emperor
meanwhile proceeded to Ghent, where he succeeded in a few days

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274 THE couBi jjsm beigk of [1589-40.

in sappiesBmg the revolt, by an exhibitian of severity which effeetn-
ally terrified the rebek into sabmission^ and this was no sooner ao-
oompHshed than the Bishop of Lavanr again demanded the promised
inyestitare on the part ci his sovereign; when Charles, who had
seoined his own safety, and who had no longer anything to fear
from the enmity of his late lavish host, unblushingly asserted itoA
he had given no pledge, and had no intention of making so serious
a sacrifice.

This shameless tei^versation of the emperor prodnoed the most
banefdl effects upon the moral nature of Francis I. Hitherto, amid
all his fknlts, he had been unsuspicious of those about him, and frank
and open-hearted to all in whom he believed that he could confide ; but
the deceit practised by Charles was so monstrous, and his ingratitude
so glaring, that he lost confidence even in his best and truest friends;
and eagerly listened to ail the whispers which were mroulated against
those in whom he had hitherto reposed the greatest trust.

The first victim of this morbid feeling was the Marshal de Brion
Chabot, the playmate of his boyhood, the companion of his youth,
and, moreover, the near relative of Madame d'Etampes, who, in-
censed by the coldness of Montmorenci, exerted all her influence to
undermine his interests with the king, and to second those of her
cousin. For a considerable time Francis had confided the direction
of public affairs to the conn^ble,- whose power had become so no-
torious, that, with the exception of the monarch himself, and the
Cardinal de Lorraine, all who were in correspondence with him ad-
dressed him by the title of Manseignear, Between the Cardinal and
Montmorend an aversion had long existed which was no secret to
the court ; and it was, consequently, without any suspicion of their
new alliance, that they reconciled their differences in order to meet
a common danger, when they discovered the energy displayed by
Madame d'Etampes in the cause of Chabot.

In the life of a public man it is always easy to discover some
foundation for blame. Human nature is ever feUible; and where
great power has been entrusted to an individual, it is rare indeed to
find that it has never been abused. Nevertheless, Chabot felt so
convinced of his own general uprightness, that when he became
aware that through the machinations of some unexpected enemy he

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1589-40.] FEANCIS a?HB FIBST. 276

was aceosed of having mal-administered the affidrs of the king in
Piedmont; he merely smiled at what he considered as an abordve
attempt to injure him.

Such; however, it was not destined to prove ; for he had not only
excited the indignation of Montmorenci by his ostentatious display
of the wealth and power for which he was indebted to the partiality
of the monarch; but he had also aroused the jealousy of Francis
himself by the extreme interest which Madame d^Etampes undis-
gnisedly evinced in his advancement; and wounded his vanity by
presuming upon a fiuniliarity which had commenced in their boy-
hood; and which no after events had diminished in the manner of
the presumptuous favourite. ,

The train thus laid, it was easy for the king to discover an oppor-
tunity of offence ; and, accordingly; when upon some trivial occasion;
Chabot ventured as usual to dissent from his opinion; he turned
sternly toward the astonished marshal, declaring that he could no
longer tolerate his insolence ; and threatened that, should he persist
in so unbecoming a course as that which he had thus arrogantly
adopted; he would put him upon his trial.

Indignant at this menace; Chabot; instead of quailing before the
displeasure of his royal master; which the latter had anticipated that
he would dO; answered in as high a tonC; that his majesty was quite
at liberty to arrest him upon the instant; should such be his pleasure,
as he felt so secure that neither his life nor his honour could be
touched; that he should feel no uneasiness regarding the result of
the investigation.

This boldnesS; which appeared to Francis to be intended as an
open defiance of the authority of which he was so jealouS; at once
decided the &,ie of the imprudent Chabot; who with his usual
impetuosity; had not paused te remember that the friendship of a
sovereign cannot be enjoyed upon equal terms ; and that it must
always be received as a booU; rather than claimed as a right; what-
ever may have been the obligations incurred by that sovereign
towards his subject.

It is, however; evident from the result; that the old affection of
Francis for the marshal was still too powerftd to permit him to con-
template any ultimate injury to his favourite; and that all he sought
was to humble his vanity^ and to diminish his pretensions; but he.

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276 THE COtTRT AKD REIGN OF [1589-40.

nevertheless, gave an order to the chancellor Poyet to appoint com-
missaries firom the several parliaments of France, and to proceed at
once to the trial. Chabot was arrested, imprisoned m the castle of
Melun, and several times interrogated by the chancellor himself,
who presided over the proceedings, contrary to all precedent, as his
jurisdiction did not extend to the criminal courts. But Poyet, who
was at this period the creature of the king, as blindly and unscru-
pulously as he had formerly been that of Louise de Savoie, boldly
set all legal conventionalities at defiance; and pursued his under-
taking vdth such overweening zeal, that he ere long announced to
Francis that he had convicted the marshal of no less than five-and-
twenty crimes, any one of which merited the pain of death.

Such had not, however, been the opinion of the commissaries ;
who, upon acquainting themselves with the extreme puerility of the
several accusations, declared that they saw nothing in the conduct
of the prisoner which could subject him to any penalty beyond that
of a brief imprisonment; but, believing that Francis wished to rid
himself of an importunate courtier of whom he had become weary,
Poyet no sooner found that the other members of the court disre-
garded alike his arguments and his expostulations, than he proceeded
to threats, which proved more efficacious ; and thus sentence of death
was ultimately signed against the unfortunate noble by his venal
and profligate judges.

The result was, however, no sooner communicated to the king,
than he expressed his indignation at the absurdity of which both the
chancellor and his subordinates had been guilty, in thus condemning
a man to die for errors not one of which amounted to a crime; and
having so done, he desired that the marechal might immediately be
summoned to his presence. As Chabot entered the apartment,
already aware of the decision of the court, he met the eye of the
king respectfolly but firmly, and having made a deep obeisance,
stood silently before him awaiting the event.

" You see. Sir," commenced Francis sternly, " to what a pass your
arrogance has brought you ; and that it ill became you to chAllenge
your sovereign to so dangerous a proof as he has now given you of
his power."

^^I admit my error. Sire," said the marshal, ^<but at least

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1539-40.] FRANCIS THE FIRST. 277

your judges have been unable to conyict me of any want of zeal or
fidelity in your service/'

" Do you then still consider yourself irreproachable?" asked the
monarch hastily.

"By no means, Sire/' was the calm and pointed reply; "I
have learnt in my prison that before G-od and his sovereign no man
can call himself innocent/'

" It is well, Sir, that you have been awakened to a sense of your
indiscretion," said the king, but less sternly than before ; "we
will, however, spare your life. Whatever may have been your
faults, you have ere now done us good service which we care not
to forget. Let the remembrance of the latter cheer your exile, as
that of the former cannot fail to sadden it."

The mardchal attempted no remonstrance; and a sentence of
perpetual banishment was recorded against him, to which was
superadded a fine of a hundred and fifty thousand livres; but,
believing that he had now sufficiently humbled the vanity of his
old and faithful servant, whose presumption had been fostered by
the extreme familiarity to which he had been admitted by himself;
wearied by the remonstrances of Madame d'Etampes ; and aroused
once more to his old jealousy of the conn^table by her representa-
tions, Francis had no sooner thus cruelly suffered his victim to
experience all the bitterness of anticipated ruin and disgrace, than
he once more set aside the decree of the court, and restored him
unrestrictedly to his former property and honours.

The vanity of the sovereign had, however, miscalculated the
character of the subject. Chabot was a man of quick and sensitive
feelings, and he had been wounded to the very core. The pardon
which had been granted to him as a boon, failed to satisfy his self-
respect ; and he accordingly declined to resume his official functions
until he had undergone a second trial before the regular tribunal;
a favour which was at length reluctantly accorded to him. The
result of this second investigation was an unqualified acquittal;
and it was no sooner promulgated than he returned to court, where
he was welcomed by no one more warmly than by Marguerite of
Navarre; who, aware that Montmorenci had been the original
instigator of his disgrace, and remembering only too keenly the
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278 THE COURT AND REIGN OF [1539-40.

insolt whioh he had offered to herself on the subject of her reli-
gious tenets, hastened to assure him of her lively satis&ction at the
triumph which he had obtained over his enemies; a triumph in
which she was ere long destined to share.

To the marechal it was, however, of small avail ; for the morti-
fication to which he had been exposed, and the anxiety that he had
suffered during his imprisonment, had acted so injuriously upon his
health that he never recovered from their effects; and in little
more than a year Francis was deprived by death of one of the
most attached and devoted of his subjects.

The next arrest which took place was that of his persecutor
Poyet ; who, although his disgrace was well merited, nevertheless
owed it less to his crimes than to the vengeance of Madame
d'Etampes, and the wounded dignity of Marguerite de Navarre.

Jean de Bary la Eenaudie, a gentleman of Perigord, was engaged
in a lawsuit against M. du TiUet, the registrat-civil of the parliament
of Paris, which had already extended over several years; and being
anxious to see it terminated, he had applied for letters of evocation
which the chancellor upon sundry pretexts refused to sign, although
he had been expressly urged to do so by the favourite; who at length,
irritated by his opposition, obtained an order from the king by which
he was compelled to immediate obedience. It chanced that when
this order arrived he was closeted with the Queen of Navarre, who
was soliciting his interest in favour of an individual of her family
who had recently been convicted of eloping with an heiress; and he
had no sooner run his eye over the missive of the king, than taking
up the letters of La Kenaudie, he held them towards his royal pe-
titioner, exclaiming bitterly : —

" There, Madame, is a proof of the purposes to which the ladies
of the court apply their influence. Not satisfied with confining
themselves to their legitimate sphere of action, they undertake even
to violate the laws, and to give lessons to the most experienced

The sister of the king, who apprehended that this taunt, which
there can be little doubt simply applied to Madame d'Etampes, was
intended as an insult to herself, immediately rose, refusing to resume
with the minister the subject upon which she had been induced to

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1589-40.] FRANCIS THE FIRST. 279

visit him; and she had no sooner reached the palace than she hastened
to communicate to the fevourite the insolence of the fated Poyet.

On the 2d of Angust the French chancellor was a prisoner in the
Bastille^ where he remained until the conclusion of his trial on the
23d of April, 1545, which had been constantly prolonged by the
charges that poured in against him from all directions. Found:
guilty of malversation, peculation, and legal corruption, he was sen-
tenced " to be deprived of the dignity of chancellor, declared in-
capable of holding office under the crown, and condemned to a fine
of a hundred thousand livres, as well as five years' imprisonment in
whatsoever fortress the king might see fit to select." He was then
removed to the town of Bourges, where he was detained until he had
surrendered the whole of his property in payment of the fine ; and
he ultimately died in Paris in a state of the most squalid poverty,
without a home or a friend.

Despite the unworthy requital which had been made by Charles V.
to the impolitic hospitality of the French king, he was anxious to
avoid an open rupture between the two countries; and after his re-
turn to Spain he accordingly hastened to propose to Francis a double
alliance between their families which might ensure their lasting friend-
ship, and by such means invest them with a supremacy over the
whole of Europe. For this purpose he declared his readiness to
accept for his son Dom Philippe, the hand of Jeanne d'Albret, the
daughter of Henry of Navarre and Marguerite, the king's sister;
pledging himself to permit Francis to redeem the principalities of
Beam and Lower Navarre, both of which were situate within the
French territories, for two millions of livres ; and to give his own
daughter, the princess of Spain, in marriage to Charles, Duke d'Or-
leans, with either the duchy of Milan, or the Low Countries and the
counties of Burgundy and Charolois, as her dower, on condition that
the king should increase the appanage of his son.

To this proposition Francis, however, refused to accede, although
a more brilliant alliance could not have presented itself for the young
prince. He declared in reply, that he could not consent to receive
the duchy of Milan as the dowry of the Princess of Spain, inasmuch
as such a concession would tend to invalidate his just claims to that
sovereignty, to which he considered that he had an undisputed

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280 THE COUBT AHD BBIGN OF [1589-40,

light^ either in hid own person or in ihat of one of hm sons } while
he was equally indisposed to accept the Low Countries and the pro-
Tinces specified on the condition assigned, that should the prince die
before his wife these territories were to revert to the emperor him-
self ; while he moreover declined to give any definite reply as to the
marriage of Jeanne d^Albret with Dom Philippe.

Charles Y; who had anticipated a very different result, was ex-
tremely chagrined by this unexpected obstacle. He declared that
while Francis was exacting in his own demands, he avoided all per-
sonal sacrifice -, but he, nevertheless, abstained from any demonstra-
tion of hostility, believing that upon mature deliberation the French
king would accede to his proposals.

The policy of Francis upon this occasion meanwhile caused severe
disappointment to the King and Queen of Navarre, who saw their
wildest dreams of ambition realized in the alliance proposed for their
daughter ; but the idea of a union between this princess and the
son of the German emperor alarmed alike the king and his minis-
ters ', who foresaw, should it be efiected, the almost certain usurpa-
tion of the kingdom of Navarre by the Spaniards, as well as that of
a considerable portion of territory at the base of the Pjrrenees ; and,
consequently, not all the importunities of his much-loved sister
could induce Francis to yield. Either, as he asserted, both the mar-
riages must take place, or neither ; adding, moreover, that nothing
should induce him to dismember his kingdom in order to increase
the territories of Charles V.

The negotiation was, however, continued, but listlessly and indiflfer-
ently, until the arrival in France of the Duke de Cleves and Juliers,*^
who having been disappointed in his hope of obtaining the duchy of

* Guillaume de la Mark succeeded his father, Jean III, in the duchies of
Cleves, Berg, and Juliers. On the 27th of January, 1538, he was also sum-
moned by the States of Gueldres and Zutphen, then assembled at Nimeguen,
to inherit the sovereignty of their aged duke, Charles d'Egmont, who was at
that period seventy-one years of age, and childless ; and who died on the
30th of June following. An old and close friendship united the two fami-
lies ; and the Gueldrians refused to recognise a treaty into which their duke
had been compelled to enter, and by virtue of which his duchy passed, upon
his death, into the house of Austria.

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1539-40.] FRANCIS THE FIRST. 281

Gueldres (to which both Antoine de Lorraine and himself laid claim
as the near relatiyes of the deceased Duke William)^ at the hands
of Charles Y; who was anxious to retain its sovereignty and to
merge it in that of the Low Countries } at once proceeded to the
court of Francis to solicit his assistance and protection. It hap-
pened; unfortunately for the interests of the young princess^ that a
short time previously the Cardinal de Grammont^ Archbishop of
Bordeaux and Lieutenant-Governor of GuiennC; had succeeded in
intercepting a secret correspondence between the emperor and the
King of Navarre on the subject of the proposed marriage of their
children; and this letter having been forwarded to the king^ he
became so incensed by this daring opposition to his will, that he
forthwith offered to the Duke of Cleves, as an earnest of his friend-
ship, the hand of his niece ; an offer which was gratefully accepted.
Li vain did Henri de Navarre remonstrate, and his sister weep ;
Francis remained immovable, declaring that he would not retract a
pledge voluntarily given; and despite the opposition of both parents,
he accordingly made known to the duke that his marriage would be
solemnized at Ch^tellerault on the 15th of July.

On that day the ceremony accordingly took place, with a magni-
ficence which excited much murmuring among the people, upon
whom a new tax was levied in order to liquidate the outlay conse-
quent upon this demand on the treasury; and the only consolation
experienced by the disappointed mother was afforded by the fiwit,
that as the poor child, who had only just attained her eleventh year,
was so overloaded with jewels, and gold and silver damask, that she
had not strength to walk under their weight, the king conmianded
Montmorenci to take her in his arms, and carry her to the altar ; an
order which startled the whole court, such an office being derogatory
to the exalted rank of the connetable, and obviously intended aj9 an

Montmorenci, however, obeyed in silence; but as he lifted the
little princess, who was clinging to the side of her mother, his cheek
flushed upon hearing Marguerite remark scornfully to Madame
d'Etampes : " Is it not amusing ? Here is the man who would fain
have ruined me in the good graces of my royal brother, now playing


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Online LibraryMiss Pardoe (Julia)The court and reign of Francis the First, king of France, Volume 2 → online text (page 27 of 45)