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to feel a little uneasy, but their suspicions were lulled,
and the Polish ambassadors made their appearance in
Paris to offer him the crown. We have full narra-
tives of this event from De Thou and other writers,
and the accounts given contain so many interesting
details, that we believe our readers will be glad to
have some of them. It was on the 19th of August,
1573, that the Polish ambassadors charged to offer
the crown to the brother of Charles IX., reached
Paris. They were twelve in number, and in their
suite might be reckoned more than 150 young noble-


men of the greatest families of the country. The
king sent to meet them Francois de Bourbon, the
eldest son of the Due de Montpensier, the Dues de
Guise, de Mayenne, and d'Aumale, and the Marquises
du Maine and d'Elboeuf. Paul de Foix, member of
the Privy Council, was the speaker, and complimented
the ambassadors. They entered by the Porte St.
Martin and filled with their suite fifty carriages, some
drawn by four horses, others by six. The crowds on
the way were very great ; the pavement, the windows,
even the roofs, were filled with spectators who saw
with admiration these men of fine stature and with a
haughty expression on their faces. Their caps were
trimmed with valuable furs, and their scimitars were
studded with precious stones. To the astonishment
of the Parisians they carried bows and arrows, and
when their heads were bared, it was seen that, more
Polonico^ they were closely shaven with the exception
of a tuft. There was something very Oriental in their
loose flowing robes. Such was the garb in which the
Polish sovereigns were in the habit of appearing
before their subjects ; and they are said to have been
indignant with Stanislaus Poniatowski, their last
sovereign, for appearing in French costume. In
addition to the robes of the ambassadors, the splen-
dour of their equipages, and the rich harness of their
horses, combined to form a strange and dazzling

On conversing with the Poles, the French were
struck with their facility in speaking Latin, French,
German, and Italian. Some of them even spoke the
French language with such facility that, according to


a contemporary writer, they might have been taken
for inhabitants of the banks of the Seine or the Loire,
rather than men born in countries watered by the
Vistula and Dnieper. The nobility of the Court of
Charles IX. were obliged to blush at their own
ignorance, for there were only two, the Baron de
Millan and the Marquis de Castellanau Mauvissiere,
who could answer them in Latin, and they had been
expressly sent to maintain the honour of their order.
The other nobles, when the new-comers spoke to them
in that language, could only reply by signs or by

Two days after their arrival the ambassadors had
an audience of Charles IX. After kissing hands, the
Bishop of Posen pronounced a discourse in the name
of all of them, to which the king replied that he
should remember all his life the magnificent offer
which the Poles had come to make, at his recommend-
ation, to a brother whom he tenderly loved ; and
added that he would never lose any occasion of tes-
tifying his gratitude to them, so that not only Poland,
but that all the universe and all ages should know
that never prince had more friendship for any nation
than he would always feel for the Poles.

On quitting the king, the ambassadors went to the
queen-mother, Catherine de Medici, and other royal
ladies. They deferred till the morrow seeing their
new sovereign, wishing to set a day apart to do him
more complete honour. On Saturday the 22nd, in
the afternoon, they mounted their horses, clad in long
robes of cloth of gold. The cor-tege of each envoy
went before him, composed of young gentlemen all


dressed in silk, and preceded by bearers of huge iron
maces. The lords of the French Court conducted
them in this style to Henri de Valois, wha received
them in the great hall of the Louvre.

After the letters of credit had been read, Konarski,
the Bishop of Posen, made an address to Henry, and
finished to the following effect — that the king owed the
crown, which they had come to offer him, to his merit
alone, and they did not doubt that he would add to
his original virtues all those which honour and duty
would soon render necessary to him. As to the
diploma of his election, they could not part with it till
the king his brother and he had confirmed by their
oaths all the articles which had been agreed upon
between the French ambassadors and the Senate and
Republic. Henry replied in Latin, thanking them
heartily for the choice they had made, and then gave
the ambassadors his hand to kiss, whereupon they
departed. Long debates then took place about the
promises made and signed before the election by the
French diplomatists. Henry began to be somewhat
disgusted with his foreign crown, when he saw with
what energy the ambassadors supported the conven-
tion. This was carried to such a pitch that when one
of them, Zborowski, was interpellated by Henry with
reference to the article which assured liberty of con-
science, he cried out : " I affirm, sire, that if your
ambassador had not stipulated that you would consent
to this article you would never have been elected king
of Poland. I even say more ; if you do not accept
this clause as you do all the others, 3'ou shall never be
king." Murmurs were already heard from the French


courtiers, but by a gesture Henry contrived to lull
them, and was able to conceal his displeasure under a
gracious smile.

After the main points had been settled, a grand
banquet was given in his honour, and September nth
was fixed for his taking the oath. The ceremony was
carried out with great pomp in Notre Dame. When
mass had been said, the two kings of France and
Poland knelt down before the high altar and took an
oath with their hands laid upon the Gospels, Henri
de Valois as sovereign of Poland, and Charles IX. as
guarantee of the promises made in his name by the
envoys Montluc de Noailles and Saint-Gelais.

Three days afterwards took place in the great hall
of the Palais de Justice the public reading of the
decree of election. All the Court and the great func-
tionaries of State were present, the number of spec-
tators is computed to have been about ten thousand.
The ambassadors arrived half an hour after Charles
IX., for they lost no opportunity of showing their
pride, and took in a solemn manner the decree of
election from a silver-gilt box in which it was pre-
sented. A wrapper of green velvet enclosed the box,
and the whole was contained in a covering of cloth of
gold. The castellan slowly read the articles, while
two others, Tomicki and Gorka, held the two ends
of the document, which was sealed with twenty-six
seals. Konarski and Radziwill then spoke, and
when the chancellors had answered, the Te Deum was
sung ; then the bells were rung and salvos of artillery
resounded from all quarters. The following morn-
ing, by order of Charles IX., the new sovereign,


made a grand entry into Paris. In complete armour
and preceded by the Due de Guise who carried the
sceptre, Henri de Valois on horseback set out from
the Porte St. Antoine, where the keys of the city
were presented to him, to the palace. The King
of Navarre, afterwards Henry IV., and the Due
d'Alengon, Henry's brother, were at his side, and
there were to be seen in the cortege the other princes
of the blood, the ambassadors of the Republic with
all their suite, the French parliament in red gowns,
and the foreign ministers. Throughout the journey
the brilliant procession was welcomed by an immense
crowd with cries of " Vwe le roi de Pologne ! " At
certain intervals the magistrates had caused triumphal
arches to be erected, ornamented with statues, pictures,
and inscriptions, some in honour of Poland, others
relating to the union of the two brothers and the love
of their subjects.

The evening of this remarkable day a grand
supper in honour of the event was given in the
Tuileries, at which verses were recited by Ronsard,
who had already been the friend of Kochanowski,
the Polish poet, during his stay in Paris, and Dorat,
in honour of France and the King of Poland. The
following day, Jan Zborowski, one of the suite,
departed to give an account to the Polish Senate of
what had taken place, and to announce the speedy
arrival of the new sovereign. In a discourse
addressed to Zamojski, and afterwards published,
the celebrated PVench lawyer, Baudoin, spoke of this
embassy as the most splendid which had ever been
sent by any nation. We shall soon see what a poor



result was to follow upon all these gorgeous

And here it may be as well to give the pacfa con-
venta, as they were called, which were signed by the
new king. The chief were as follows : —

1. The king was to have no voice in the election
of his successor.

2. He was to adhere to the terms granted to the
Dissidents — under which we must remember that all
non-Catholics were included. This clause had been
particularly odious to Henri, and he expected to be
able to evade it.

3. War was not to be declared, nor a military
expedition undertaken, without the consent of the

4. No taxes were to be imposed without the
consent of the diet.

5. The sovereign was to have a permanent council
consisting of five bishops, four palatines, and eight
castellans, who were to be changed every year and
elected by the diet.

6. A general diet was to be convoked every two
years, or oftener if it was necessary.

7. The duration of each diet was not to exceed
six weeks.

8. No foreigner could hold any public office.

9. The king must neither marry nor divorce a
wife without the consent of the diet.

These conditions were in some respects galling,
but the king had an ample revenue and considerable
power when he commanded an army in the field.

Montluc, besides these stipulations, promised for



his sovereign that France should send a fleet into the
Baltic to assist the Poles, and should furnish money
and men for any wars which the Poles might wage
against their neighbours. We have no space to
describe the arrival of Henry at Cracow, where he
was crowned on February 21, 1574; but his reign
is calculated by the Polish historians as lasting five
months only, and was marked by only one con-
spicuous event — the murder of the Castellan Wa-
powski by Samuel Zborowski, a rich and insolent
young man, in the palace, and, as it were, under the
very eyes of the king. Henry, however, only
banished Zborowski, who had been one of those who
favoured his election, and when soon afterwards the
palatinate of Cracow became vacant it was conferred
upon the assassin's brother. The nobility resented
this murder of one of their own order, which of
course they regarded as a very different matter from
the death of a Cracow burgher.

The effeminate king soon grew weary of the tur-
bulent people among whom he had cast his lot, so
inferior in most respects to the agreeable Parisians
whom he had left behind. He buried himself in his
palace, and led a life of pleasure. His secretary,
Desportes, who accompanied him to Poland, seems
to have been of the same opinion as his master:

"Adieu, Poloigne, adieu plaines desertes,
Tousiours de niege et de glace couvertes ;
Adieu, pays d'un ^ternel adieu.
Ton air, tes moeurs m'ont si fort S9eu desplaire,
Qu'il faudra bien que tout me soit contraire,
Si jamais plus je retourne en ce lieu."


But a release was at hand : by the death of his
brother, Charles IX., he inherited the French throne.
He hoped to escape before the news had got noised
abroad, especially as he had some fears of the
ambitious designs of his brother, the Duke of
Alengon. He refused to follow the advice of some
of his friends that he should convoke a diet and
solicit permission to go to France to arrange his

On the evening of the i8th of July he gave a
banquet in honour of Anna Jagiellonka, as she was
called, the sister of the late King Sigismund. He
seemed full of gaiety, and when the festivities were
over retired as usual to his apartments, but he was
then led by an attendant to a place of meeting where
horses had been secretly prepared, and with a few
companions he rode hurriedly from his kingdom,
hardly slackening rein till he reached Oswi^cim, on
the borders of Silesia, on the following morning. As
soon as it was known at Cracow that the king had
fled, universal consternation prevailed. The Grand
Chamberlain had rushed to the king's bedroom,
found the candles burning as usual in the room, the
curtains of the bed drawn, but Henry absent. He
thereupon followed in pursuit, attended by five
hundred horsemen. They soon came up with the
king's party, who had lost a good deal of time
through their ignorance of the road, and T^czynski,
the Grand Chamberlain, cried out to his retreating
majesty : " Serenissima Majestas, cur fugis ? " When
he felt himself safe beyond the Polish frontier, Henry
entered into a parley with T^czynski, who remon-


strated with him about the manner in which he was
leaving the kingdom, and recommended him to return
and convoke a diet ; this Henry refused to do, and
oniy promised in a vague way that he would come
back as soon as he had arranged matters in Francq,
The Poles, however, saw no more of him, and were
well rid of such a worthless man, who would pro-
bably have been a ready tool in the hands of the
Jesuits. Henry was assassinated in 1589.

Jan Kochanowski, the poet, who besides winning
such a reputation among his countrymen as a Polish
poet also wrote in Latin, has left some amusing
verses addressed to the fugitive king under the title
Gailo Crocitantiy from which we extract the following
lines : —

" Et tamen banc poteras mecum requiescere noctem,
Nee dubiis vitam committere, Galle, tenebris ;
State viri, quae causa fugae ? Non Trinacris haec est
Ora, nee infames funesto vespere terrae ;
Sarmatia est, quam, Galle, fugis, fidissima terra

The Poles were greatly piqued at being deserted
in this fashion, and accordingly assembled at St^zyca,
not far from Warsaw, and appointed the 7th of
November as the day of the election of a new king.
The country, however, suffered from the evils of an
interregnum from the i8th of July, 1574, when Henry
fled, till the appearance of another sovereign at
Cracow on the 22nd of April, 1576. Before the
appointment took place the Tatars made an irruption
into the country and carried off 20,CX)0 captives.
The majority of votes were in favour of Stephen


Batory, Prince of Transylvania, a renowned soldier,
who was to marry Anna, the sister of Sigismund. The
szlachta,/^'///'^ nod/esse, wds almost entirely on the side
of Batory. The candidate in opposition to him was the
German Emperor Maximilian II., whose election was
advocated by some of the great families, although
the House of Habsburg was never very popular in
Poland. On the death of Sigismund Augustus, in
1572, Maximilian had offered his son Ernest as a
candidate for the throne, and had endeavoured to
gain the support of the Dissidents. Henry, how-
ever, as we have seen, was elected. When, however,
the German Emperor saw the throne abandoned by
the French sovereign, he again put forward the claims
of his son ; but to his surprise and vexation was
himself elected by a certain number of the nobles, at
the head of whom was the Primate. Moreover, the
Papal legate, who was actively engaged in intrigues
to thwart the Protestants, was anxious that he should
receive it. He appears to have hesitated from a
dislike to some of the terms of the pacta conventa.
Meanwhile Batory hastened to Poland, and was
crowned, and Maximilian, who had long been in
failing health, expired in the same year, not having
attained the age of fifty. Batory was now left with-
out a rival ; was crowned at Cracow ; married the
Princess Anna, and signed the pacta conventa. He
was obliged, however, to consent to some further
diminutions of the royal power, neither was he
pleasing to all his subjects ; for we find that Danzig
and some other places for a time held out against

5tephanv5 g





batory's plans. T05

The new sovereign of Poland was a member of
the ancient family of the Batorys of Somlyo, in
Transylvania. He had been brought up at Gran at
the court of the Archbishop, and had originally been
in the Austrian service ; but when John Zapolya
endeavoured to seize the crown of Hungary, Stephen
joined his party. On the death of the last of the
Zapolyas, in 1571, he was elected Prince of Tran-
sylvania, and he occupied this position when called
to the throne of Poland.

Stephen was a vigorous ruler, such as the country
did not see again till the days of Sobieski. He
reigned from 1576 to 1586, and was able to check
effectually the encroachments of Ivan the Terrible.
Pskov and other towns were taken, but surrendered
at the peace of Yam Zapolski in return for Livonia,
of which the Russians had got possession. The chief
agent in bringing about this peace was the Jesuit
Possevino, who was employed by the Pope in negotia-
tions between Ivan and Stephen, and encouraged the
latter in his favourite idea of driving the Turks out
of Europe. Batory was willing to listen to the
proposals of Possevino, but his main object was to
dismember Russia, the growing power of v\hich he
viewed with suspicious, and, as it were, with pro-
phetic eyes. This was his great programme, and he
attempted to justify it by asserting that the Musco-
vite State consisted mainly of portions of territory
belonging to the principality of Lithuania, which had
been united to Poland in the days of Jagiello. From
this fate Russia was only saved by the death of the
Transylvanian prince, and she was destined to run


the same risk in the days of Sigismund III. and
Ladislaus IV. We shall see that it was only the
weakness of John Casimir and his successor which
saved her. Stephen encouraged letters by the foun-
dation of the University of Wilno, the care of which was
committed to the Jesuits, now swarming into Poland
in great numbers, and gradually getting the control
of the education of the country. This university
was suppressed after the Polish insurrection in 1830.
Schafarik, however, accuses Batory of having been
too fond of the Latin language, and by its encourage-
ment doing harm to Polish. Sarnicki, the historian,
says of him : " Fuit vir tarn in pace qiiam in hello
excelso et forti aniino, judicii magni^ prcesertim nbi
ab ajfectibus liber erat ; in victu et antictu parens^
et ah omni jactantia et ostentatione alienus ; erudi-
tione insigniter tinctus ; sermonis Latine valde
studiosus et prorsiis Terentianus!'

It was Stephen Batory who first organised the
Cossacks, of whom we hear so much in Russian and
Polish history. The Cossacks of the Dnieper were
formed into six regiments of one thousand men each.
Further limitations of the royal power took place in
this reign. In 1578 the right of final appeal to the
king was taken away, or could only be exercised in a
small district within a certain radius of his residence.
Sixteen senators were also chosen to attend him
and give their opinion on important matters. In
the midst of all his plans, Batory was seized with
an illness which proved fatal. It was just as his
constitution began to break up that he was visited at
his castle, Niepolomice, near Cracow, by the English


wizards Dee and Kelly. Stephen had always shown
great fondness for soothsayers. He had consulted
them on his first coming to Poland. But he soon
got tired of their impostures, and gradually grew
weaker, till he died on the 12th of December, 1586,
at Grodno.

He had ruled with a vigorous hand, and had done
what he could to cope with the turbulent aristocracy :
this was especially shown in his treatment of Samuel
Zborowski, the assassin of Wapowski, who had ven-
tured to return to Poland, from which he had been
banished at the beginning of his reign, and had even


commenced new intrigues, being engaged in a plot
against Zamojski, the Starosta of Cracow. He and
his brothers were even suspected of designs against
the king himself Samuel was publicly executed at
Cracow in 1584; of his two brothers one escaped
into Germany, and the punishment of the other was
prevented by the sudden death rf Stephen at the
comparatively early age of 54.

His wife, with whom he does not appear to have
lived very happily, survived him ten years. We
get a curious picture of her in the quaint diary of
Horsjy, already quoted. Jerome seems to have had



an interview with her at Warsaw in 1589, on his last
journey to Russia. His story shall be told in his
own words : " I was willinge to see Quen Ann,
King Sigimsmondus the Third [first?], his daughter,
Kinge Stephanus Batur, his late widow and wiff. I
putt one one of my mens livoiies, passed to her pallace,
before the windowes wherof wear placed potts and
ranckes of great carnacions, gelly- flowers, province
rosses, swett lillies, and other sweett herbs and
strainge flowers, geavinge most fragrant swett smells
Came into the chamber she satt and supped in ;
stood emonge the rest of many other gentlemen.
Her Majesty sate under a white silke canapie, upon
a great Turckye carpett, in a chaire of estate, a hard
favored Quen : her mayeds of honnor and ladies
attendants at supper in the same room, a great
travers [arras ?] drawen bet wen ; saw her service and
behaviour and atendance. At last one spied me
that had taken noatice of me before : told the lord
steward standinge by her chaire ; he castinge his eye
upon me, made other to behold me. I shiffted,
backe ; he told the Quen. 'Call him hether, though^
not in state.' Saieth the old lord, ' Will you any
thinge with her Majesty?' ' Noe, sir, I came but to
see her Majesty's princely state and presents [pre-
sence], for which I crave pardon if it be offence.'
' Her Majesty will have speach with you.' I was
discovered by my curious ruffes. The ladies hasted
from their tabell; came about the Quen. The Quen,
after I had done my obeisance, asked if I wear the
gentilman of England that had lately negociated
with the kinge ; and by her interpreter would know


the Quen*s name. ' Elizaveta is to blessed a name
for such a scurge of the Catholicque Churche ; her
sisters name was Maria, a blessed saint in heaven.'
I desired to speake without her interpreter, who did
not well. ' Praie doe.' Ouene Elizabeths name is
most renouned and better accounted of by the best
and most pouisent, greatest emperiall kings and
princes of this world ; the defendirs of the true and
aunctient Catholicke Church and faith, so reverenced
and stilled [styled], as her due, both by foes and
frendes.' ' Na, na, sir, if she be soe, whie doth she
so cruelly putt to death so many holly catholikes,
Storie, Campion, and other godly marters. They
were traitors to God and her crown, precticed her
subvercion and ruen of her kyngdom.' 'Yea! but
how could she spill the bloud of the Lordes
anointed, a Quen more magnificent than herself,
without the triall, jugement, and consent of her
peers, the holly father the pope, and all the Chris-
tian princes of Europia.' ' Her subjects and parlia-
ment thought it so requiset, without her royall
consent, for her more saffety and quiett of her
realme daily endangered.' She shoke her head with
dislike of my answer. Her Majestys gostly father,
Possavine, the great Jesuite, came in; toke displeasur
at my prcsenc ; one whose skirts I had sate before in
the cittie of the Musco, when he was nunciat ther and
rejected. Her Majesty called for a glas of Hungers
[Hungarian] wine, with two slices of chea' [cheat]
bread upon it. Willed the lord steward to give it to
me, which I refused till her highness had taken it
into her own handes to give it me; and so* dismist.


I was glad when I came home to putt of my llvorie ;
but my hostis, a comly gentihveoman well knowen
to the Quen, was presently sent for. Her Majesty
was desirous to see the perrell chayn I wore a
Sounday when I toke my leave of the kinge, the
rather because a bold Jew, the kinges chieff cus-
tomer, toke it in his hand, and told the kinge, as the

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