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The Life of Marie de Medicis, Vol. 2 (of 3)
by Julia Pardoe
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THE LIFE OF MARIE DE MEDICIS, VOL. II

Queen of France

CONSORT OF HENRI IV, AND REGENT OF THE KINGDOM UNDER LOUIS XIII

BY

JULIA PARDOE

AUTHOR OF

'LOUIS XIV AND THE COURT OF FRANCE IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY,' 'THE COURT AND REIGN OF FRANCIS THE FIRST,' ETC.

IN THREE VOLUMES

1890



CONTENTS

BOOK I

MARIE DE MEDICIS AS QUEEN

CHAPTER IX

1610

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 Due de Vendome 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.

BOOK II

MARIE DE MEDICIS AS REGENT

CHAPTER I

1610

Self-possession of Marie de Medicis—The Ducs de Guise and d'Epernon assemble the nobility—Precautions for the security of the metropolis—The first audience of the widowed Queen—Impolicy of Sully—The Duc d'Epernon announces to the Parliament the authorized regency of Marie—By whom it is ratified—Precarious position of the Queen-mother—The first night of widowhood—Injudicious apathy of Marie de Medicis on the subject of her husband's murder—Her incautious display of favour towards the Duc d'Epernon—The Duke is suspected of having been an accessory to the assassination of Henri IV—He demands the punishment of the authors of the rumour—A lawyer and a courtier—Fearless reply of the President de Harlay to the rebuke of the Regent—Suspicions against Philip of Spain—Louis XIII holds his first Bed of Justice—The Queen requests the support of the Parliament—Return of the Court to the Louvre—The Due de Sully visits the Queen—Effect of his reception—The Princess-Dowager of Conde urges the return of her son to Court—M. de Soissons is invited by Marie de Medicis to the capital—His disappointment—His arrogance—A courtly falsehood—Reception of M. de Soissons at the gates of Paris—His numerous retinue—The recompense of obedience—Congratulatory deputations—Trial of the regicide Ravaillac—His execution—Arrival of the Duc de Bouillon in Paris—His quarrel with the Duc de Sully—They are reconciled—The Court attend a funeral service at Notre-Dame—Presumption of the Duc d'Epernon—Marie de Medicis devotes herself to state affairs—Jealousy of the Princes of the Blood and great nobles—Marie endeavours to conciliate them—The Spanish Minister endeavours to prevent the return of the Prince de Conde—Without success—The Regent forms a council—Pretensions of the nobles—The Duc d'Epernon takes possession of apartments in the Louvre—He leagues with the Comte de Soissons against the Prince de Conde—Speculations of the Ministers—Their policy—Boyhood of Louis XIII—A delicate position—A royal rebuke—Court favour—The visionary Government—Discontent of the citizens of Paris—Unpopularity of the Regent—The ex-Queen's entertainment—Imprudence of Marie de Medicis—Confirmation of the Edict of Nantes—Return of the Prince de Conde—The Regent is alarmed by his popularity—Double-dealing of the Duc d'Epernon—The Prince de Conde declares his intention to uphold the interests of the Regent—His reception at the Louvre—He rejoins his wife—The Court of the Hotel de Conde—A cabal—Marie is advised to arrest the Prince de Conde—She refuses—The secret council—Indignation of Sully—Mischievous advice of the Duc de Bouillon—-Munificence of the Regent to M. de Conde—The royal treasury—Venality of the French Princes—The English Ambassador—Royal pledges—Philip of Spain proposes a double alliance with France—The Regent welcomes the offer—Policy of Philip—The secret pledge—Madame de Verneuil urges her claim to the hand of the Duc de Guise—The important document—A ducal dilemma—The Regent discountenances the claim of the Marquise—Madame de Verneuil is induced by Jeannin to withdraw her pretensions—Her subsequent obscurity.

CHAPTER II

1610

A temporary calm—Louis XIII—Marie de Medicis purchases the Marquisate of Ancre for Concini—Rapid rise of his fortunes—His profusion—He intrigues to create dissension among the Princes of the Blood—His personal endowments—The Duc de Bouillon endeavours to induce M. de Conde to revolt—He fails—He disposes of his office at Court to the Marquis d'Ancre—Marie de Medicis continues the public edifices commenced and projected by Henri IV—Zeal of the Duc de Mayenne—Cupidity of the Court—M. de Conde and his advisers—The Prince and the Minister—Forebodings of Sully—He determines to resign office—His unpopularity—The Regent refuses to accept his resignation—The war in Germany—The Regent resolves to despatch an army to Cleves—The Duc de Bouillon demands the command of the troops—Is refused by the Council—Retires in disgust to Sedan—The command is conferred on the Marechal de la Chatre—A bootless campaign—The French troops return home—New dissensions at Court—The Duc d'Epernon becomes the declared enemy of the Protestants—Apprehensions of the reformed party—Quarrel of Sully and Villeroy—The Regent endeavours to effect a reconciliation with the Prince de Conti—Princely wages—M. de Conti returns to Court—The Princes of the Blood attend the Parliament—The Marquis d'Ancre is admitted to the State Council—Sully and Bouillon retire from the capital—Sully resolves to withdraw from the Government, but is again induced to retain office—The King and Pere Cotton—The Court leave Paris for Rheims—Coronation of Louis XIII—His public entry into the capital—The Prince de Conde and the Comte de Soissons are reconciled—Quarrel between the Marquis d'Ancre and the Duc de Bellegarde—Cabal against Sully—The Huguenots petition for a General Assembly—Reluctance of the Regent to concede their demand—She finds herself compelled to comply—M. de Villeroy garrisons Lyons—Sully retires from the Ministry—Demands of the Princes—Sully's last official act—His parting interview with Louis XIII—The Minister and the Mountebanks.

CHAPTER III

1611

A cold correspondence—Increasing influence of the Marquis d'Ancre—Animosity between the Duc d'Epernon and Concini—Disunion of the Princes de. Guise and de Lorraine—Renewed dissensions between M. de Bellegarde and the Marquis d'Ancre—They are reconciled by the Comte de Soissons—Marriage of the Duc de Guise—Jealousy of M. de Soissons—Quarrel between the Prince de Conti and the Comte de Soissons—Mission of the Duc de Guise—A new rupture—Intervention of the Duc de Mayenne—Alarm of the Regent—Sully leaves Paris—Madame de Sully—Retirement of M. de Thou—Unpopularity of the Duc d'Epernon—Marie de Medicis endeavours to reconcile the Princes—The royal closet—The Protestants prepare for the General Assembly—The Prince de Conde retires to Guienne—The Duc d'Epernon is charged to watch his movements—Arrogance of Concini—Concini seeks to marry his daughter to a son of the Comte de Soissons—Indignation of the Prince—Cunning of Concini—Bouillon returns to Court—He offers his services to the Regent at the General Assembly—He proceeds to Saumur—He desires to be appointed President of the Assembly—He is rejected in favour of M. du Plessis-Mornay—He attributes his defeat to Sully—He resolves to conciliate the ex-Minister of Finance—Meeting of the Assembly—The Court determines to dissolve the meeting—Prudence of Du Plessis-Mornay—Death of M. de Crequy—The Marquis d'Ancre succeeds to the government of Amiens—His insolent disregard of the royal prerogative—Indignation of the ministers—The Regent resents his impertinence—She refuses to receive Madame d'Ancre—Intrigues of the Princesse de Conti—The favourites forgiven—Marie de Medicis issues several salutary edicts—Court festivities—The Duchesse de Lorraine arrives at Fontainebleau—Death of the Duc de Mayenne—Death of the Queen of Spain—-The Duchesse de Lorraine claims the hand of Louis XIII for her daughter—Death of the Duc d'Orleans—Departure of the Duchesse de Lorraine—Rival claims—M. de Breves appointed preceptor to the Duc d'Anjou—The Comte de Soissons applies for the duchy of Alencon—Rebuke of the Regent—A hunting-party—A new cabal—Recall of the Marechal de Lesdiguieres—Marie de Medicis purchases the Hotel de Luxembourg.

CHAPTER IV

1612

The Princes of the Blood retire from the Court—Increased influence of the Ducs de Guise and d'Epernon—Jealousy of Concini—The ministers desire the recall of the Princes—The Lent ballets—The government of Quilleboeuf is offered to the Comte de Soissons—The Princes are invited to return to the capital—Arrival of the Princes—M. de Soissons abandons Concini—An attempt is made to create dissension between M. de Soissons and the Prince de Conde—They again withdraw from Paris—The Regent resolves to announce publicly the approaching marriage of the King—Disaffection of the Princes—Frankness of the Duc de Guise—The Due d'Epernon is recalled—The Duc de Bouillon is despatched to England—The Council discuss the alliance with Spain—The Princes return to the capital—Undignified deportment of the Prince de Conde—Insolence of M. de Soissons—Indignation of the Regent—The young Duc de Mayenne is appointed ambassador extraordinary to Spain—An unpleasant truth—Arrogance of the Spanish King—Concession of the Regent—-Death of the Duke of Mantua—The Chancellor announces the King's marriage—An ambassador and a quasi-Queen—Disappointment of the Princes—They again withdraw—Caution of the Duc de Montmorency to the Regent—She disregards the warning—Love of Marie de Medicis for magnificence and display—Courtly entertainments—The circle of Madame—The Marquise d'Ancre—A carousal—-Splendid festivities—Arrival of the Spanish envoys—The Chevalier de Guise—Alarm of Concini—The Queen and her foster-sister—Concini resolves to espouse the party of the Princes—The Duc de Bouillon endeavours to injure the Duc de Rohan in the estimation of James I.—Reply of the English monarch—Bouillon returns to Paris—The Marechal de Lesdiguieres retires from the Court—The Duc de Vendome solicits the royal permission to preside over the States of Brittany—Is refused by the Regent—Challenges his substitute—And is exiled to Anet—Concini augments the disaffection of the Princes—The Duke of Savoy joins the cabal—Lesdiguieres prepares to march a body of troops against the capital—Concini deters the Regent from giving the government of Quilleboeuf to the Comte de Soissons—Indignation of the Duc de Guise—He reveals the treachery of Concini to the Princes—All the great nobles join the faction of M. de Conde with the exception of the Duc d'Epernon—The Duc de Bellegarde is accused of sorcery—Quarrel between the Comte de Soissons and the Marechal de Fervaques—Marie de Medicis resolves to persecute the Protestants—Bouillon endeavours to effect the disgrace of the Duc de Rohan—The Regent refuses to listen to his justification—He takes possession of St. Jean-d'Angely—Anger of the Queen—Conflicting manifestoes—M. de Rohan prepares to resist the royal troops—The ministers advise a negotiation, which prove successful—Departure of the Duc de Mayenne for Madrid—Arrival of the Duque de Pastrano—His brilliant reception in France—His magnificent retinue—His first audience of Louis XIII—The Cardinals—Puerility of the Princes—Reception of the Spanish Ambassador by Madame—The year of magnificence—Splendour of the Court of Spain—Signature of the marriage articles—Honours shown to M. de Mayenne at Madrid—The Spanish Princess and her Duenna—The Duke of Savoy demands the hand of Madame Christine for his son—Marie desires to unite her to the Prince of Wales—Death of Prince Henry of England—Death of the Comte de Soissons—The Prince de Conti claims the government of Dauphiny—The Comte d'Auvergne is released from the Bastille, and resigns his government of Auvergne to M. de Conti—The Prince de Conde organizes a new faction—The Regent espouses his views—Alarm of the Guises—Recall of the Duc de Bellegarde—He refuses to appear at Court—The Baron de Luz is restored to favour—The Guises prepare to revenge his defection from their cause.

CHAPTER V

1613

State of France at the commencement of 1613—Characteristics of the Baron de Luz—His imprudence—He is challenged by the Chevalier de Guise, and killed—The Regent summons a council—The nobles assemble at the Hotel de Guise—The Duke is forbidden to enter the Louvre, and ordered to disperse his friends—M. de la Rochefoucauld refuses to leave the Hotel de Guise—He is exiled from the Court—Moderation of the Duc de Guise—Inflexibility of Marie de Medicis—Her anger against the Chancellor—She holds a secret council—The Prince de Conde is directed to demand the seals from M. de Sillery, and to command him to retire from the capital—Marie determines to arrest the Duc d'Epernon—Her designs are thwarted by Concini—The Marquis d'Ancre introduces the son of M. de Luz to the Regent—Marie promises him her protection— Bassompierre endeavours to effect the recall of the Duc de Guise, and succeeds—His reception by the Regent—Arrogance of the Duchesse de Guise—The Prince de Conde forms an alliance with M. de Guise— Influence of the Prince—He demands the captaincy of the Chateau Trompette—Over-zealous friends—Alarm of the Queen—She resolves to conciliate the Guises—The Marquis d'Ancre and his wife incur the displeasure of the Queen-Marie purchases the loyalty of the Duc de Guise—Dignified bearing of the Duc d'Epernon—A reconciliation—"Put not your faith in princes"—Exultation of the ministers—A private audience—Eavesdroppers—Mortification of the Prince de Conde—Concini endeavours to conciliate the Queen—He is repulsed—The young Baron de Luz challenges the Chevalier de Guise—Wounds his adversary, and is killed—Royal solicitude—Death of the Chevalier de Guise—Banquet at the Hotel de Conde—Affront to Bassompierre—Concini retires to Amiens—The Duc de Vendome joins the faction of the Prince de Conde—A new intrigue—Suspicions of the Regent—Midnight visitors—The Prince de Conde and the Duc de Vendome leave the Court—The Regent refuses to sanction the departure of M. de Guise—The Queen and her favourite—The ministers pledge themselves to serve Concini—Peril of Bassompierre—He determines to leave France—Is dissuaded from his purpose by the Regent—Troubles in Mantua—Negotiation with the Duke of Savoy—James I. offers the hand of Prince Charles of England to the Princesse Christine—Satisfaction of Marie de Medicis—The Pope takes alarm—The Regent and the Papal Nuncio—Death of the Marechal de Fervaques—Concini is made Marechal de France—Ladies of Honour—The Queen and her foster-sister—The Princesse de Conti—A well-timed visit—The new Marechal—A sensation at Court.

CHAPTER VI

1614

New anxieties—Disaffection of the Princes—They demand a reformation in the Government—Cunning of the Duc de Bouillon—Imprisonment of M. de Vendome—He escapes—The Regent suspects the sincerity of Bouillon—Conspiracy of the Ducs de Vendome and de Retz—The Duc de Nevers seizes Mezieres—Recall of M. d'Epernon—Marie de Medicis resolves to resign the Regency, but is dissuaded by her Council—Treasonable reports—Precarious position of the Queen—Levy of troops—Manifesto of the Prince de Conde—Reply of the Regent—-Death of the Connetable-Duc de Montmorency—-Bassompierre is appointed Colonel-General of the Swiss Guards—The march against M. de Conde—Marie endeavours to temporize—-The price of loyalty—The Prince de Conde leaves Paris—Christening of the Duc d'Anjou and the Princesse Henriette Marie—A temporary calm—The Ducs de Vendome and de Retz excite the Burgundians to revolt—The Protestants refuse to join their faction—They are compelled to lay down their arms—The Prince de Conde marches upon Poitiers—The Church "military"—The prelate and the populace—A governor superseded—The Prince is compelled to withdraw to Chatellerault—He burns down the episcopal palace—The Court proceed to Poitou—Their reception—The Duc de Vendome makes his submission—The States assemble at Nantes—Enormities perpetrated by the troops of M. de Vendome—Folly of that Prince—Death of the Prince de Conti—A bachelor-Benedict—A nom de guerre—Majority of Louis XIII—The Bed of Justice—The assembly of the States-General is deferred—The King solicits his mother to retain her authority in the Government—Meeting of the States—The early years of Louis XIII—Charles Albert de Luynes—His antecedents—His ambition—His favour with the young King—He is made Governor of Amboise.

CHAPTER VII

1615-16

Close of the States-General—The Bishop of Lucon—Declaration of the royal marriages—Ballet of Madame—State of the Court—Cabal of Concini—Death of Marguerite de Valois—Conde seeks to gain the Parliament—Distrust of Marie de Medicis—Conde leaves Paris—He refuses to accompany the King to Guienne—Perilous position of the Court party—The Marechal de Bois-Dauphin is appointed Commander-in-Chief—The Court proceed to Guienne—Illness of the Queen and Madame Elisabeth—The Court at Tours—Enforced inertness of M. de Bois-Dauphin—Conde is declared guilty of lese-majeste—He takes up arms—Murmurs of the royal generals—The Comte de St. Pol makes his submission—The Court reach Bordeaux—The royal marriages—Sufferings of the troops—Disaffection of the nobility—Irritation of the Protestants—Pasquinades—Negotiation with the Princes—The Duc de Guise assumes the command of the royal army—Singular escape of Marie de Medicis—Disgrace of the Duc d'Epernon—He retires to his government—The Queen and the astrologer.

CHAPTER VIII

1616

Conference of Loudun—Venality of the Princes—Mutual concessions—Indisposition of M. de Conde—He signs the treaty—Concini is insulted by a citizen of Paris—The Court return to the capital—Schism in the cabal—The seals are transferred to M. du Vair—Disgrace of the ministers—Triumph of Concini—Mangot is appointed Secretary of State, and Barbin Minister of Finance—The young sovereigns—-Court costumes—Anne of Austria and Marie de Medicis—Puerility of Louis XIII—The Marechal de Bouillon and the Duc de Mayenne return to Court—They seek to ruin Concini—The Prince de Conde effects a reconciliation with the Queen-mother—James I. sends an embassy to Paris to negotiate a marriage between the Prince of Wales and the Princesse Christine—Gorgeous reception at the Louvre—Court festivities—Concini returns to Paris—He is abandoned by the Prince de Conde—He is compelled to retire—His forebodings—He endeavours to induce Leonora to leave France—She refuses—Increasing influence of De Luynes—Death of Mademoiselle d'Ancre—Despair of Concini—Ambitious projects of the Prince de Conde—Devotion of Sully—His advice is disregarded—Popularity of Conde—Marie de Medicis resolves to arrest him—He disbelieves the rumour—The other Princes withdraw from the capital—The King is induced to sanction the arrest—Dissimulation of Louis XIII—Arrest of Conde—Fearless reply of M. du Vair—The Prince is conveyed to the Bastille—A batch of Marshals—Noble disinterestedness of Bassompierre—The Dowager Princess of Conde endeavours to excite the populace to rescue her son—The mob pillage the hotel of the Marechal d'Ancre—The Queen-mother negotiates with the Guises—The council of war—The seals are transferred from Du Vair to Mangot—Richelieu is appointed Secretary of State—Concini returns to Court—The Marechale d'Ancre becomes partially insane—Popular execration of the Italian favourites—Subtle policy of Richelieu—Threatening attitude assumed by the Princes.

CHAPTER IX

1617

The royal forces march against the insurgent Princes—Indignities offered to the young sovereign—Louis XIII and his favourite—Arrogance of the Marechal d'Ancre—Indignation of the King—Confiscation of the property of the rebel Princes—Household of Louis XIII—Cabal of De Luynes—-Infatuation of the Marechal d'Ancre—An evil counsellor—Marie de Medicis resolves to withdraw from the Government, but is dissuaded from her purpose—Popular discontent—Precautions of Concini—Alarm of Louis XIII—The Duc de Nevers is declared guilty of lese-majeste—Firmness of the Queen-mother—Insolence of Concini and Richelieu—Conde is refused permission to justify himself—Success of the royal forces—Louis XIII consents to the arrest of the Marechal d'Ancre—Bassompierre warns Marie de Medicis of her danger—She disregards the warning—Concini and Leonora prepare to leave France—Old grievances renewed—A diplomatic Janus—Blindness of Marie and her ministers—A new conspirator—How to be made a marshal—Incaution of De Luynes—Treachery of Richelieu—A narrow escape—A morning mass—Singular position of the Court—Assassination of Concini—Public rejoicings—Imprisonment of the Queen-mother—Barbin is sent to the Bastille—The seals are restored to Du Vair—A royal reception—Anguish of Marie de Medicis—She demands to see the King, and is refused—Her isolation—A Queen and her favourite—A mother and her son—Arrest of Madame d'Ancre—The Crown jewels—Political pillage—The Marechale in the Bastille.

CHAPTER X

1617

The Comte de la Pena—Anne of Austria and the orphan—Popular atrocities—The wages of crime—Submission of the Duc de Mayenne—Suspension of hostilities—The great nobles return to the capital—Louis refuses to be reconciled with his mother—Insolence of De Vitry—Generosity of the Duc de Rohan—Marie de Medicis resolves to retire from the Court—Richelieu offers to share her exile—He becomes the secret emissary of De Luynes—Gratitude of the deluded Queen—A parting interview—Marie de Medicis proceeds to Blois—Destitution of the Marechale d'Ancre—Her despair—Royal recreations—A fatal parallel—Madame de Conde requests permission to share the captivity of her husband—Trial of Madame d'Ancre—Her execution—Cupidity of De Luynes—Justice of the Grand Duke of Tuscany—Death of the President de Thou—Marriage of De Luynes with Mademoiselle de Montbazon—De Luynes is created duke and peer—Death of M. de Villeroy—Recall of the old ministers—Policy of De Luynes—His suspiciousness—His ambition—De Luynes lodges his brothers in the Louvre—The sign of "the Three Kings"—Louis resolves to re-establish the Roman Catholic religion in Bearn, and to annex that principality to the Crown of France—Meeting of the Notables at Rouen—The French march to the support of the Duke of Savoy.



BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES

OF

THE SECOND VOLUME

Comte d'Anquien Princess-Dowager of Conde Duchesse de Mercoeur Marquise de Guercheville Due de Lesdiguieres Comtesse de Fervaques Comtesse du Fargis Ravaillac Duchesse de Sully Marechal de Brissac Cardinal Bentivoglio M. de Souvre Stefano Galigai M. de Thou M. Arnaud Pere Cotton Henri II, Duc de Longueville Duque de Feria Marechal de la Chatre Duc d'Elboeuf M. de Chateauvieux Marquis de Chateauneuf Marquis de Rambouillet Cardinal de Gonzaga M. de Breves M. de Brosse Comte de Buquoy 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 Fevre 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 Themines M. de Saint-Geran. M. Deageant Marechal de Schomberg Marechal d'Ornano Marquis de Bressieux M. de Rouvray Comte de Fiesque Jean Goujon Mlle. de Montbazon



ILLUSTRATIONS

VOL. II

1. HENRI IV.

2. LOUIS XIII, KING OF FRANCE Engraved by Freeman from the Original by Lestang in the Versailles Gallery.

3. MARECHAL DE BASSOMPIERRE Engraved by Gouttiere from the Original by Alaux.

4. CARDINAL DE RICHELIEU Engraved by Bourgeois.

5. ANNE OF AUSTRIA Engraved by W. Greatbach from a Print by Masson, after P. Mignard.

6. MARECHAL DE SCHOMBERG Engraved by Rouargue from the Original by Rouillard.



BOOK I

(Continued)

MARIE DE MEDICIS AS QUEEN



THE LIFE

OF

MARIE DE MEDICIS



CHAPTER IX

1610

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 Vendome 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 Conde 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 Sunday.[1]

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 Vendome 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 dais 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 Vendome, 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 Conde,[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 Marechal de Lesdiguieres[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 Marechale 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 Vendome 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."

"You are right," said the King; "cause my coach to be prepared, and I will go to the Arsenal and visit the Duc de Sully, who is unwell, and takes a bath to-day."

When the carriage was announced, the King stepped into it, followed by the Ducs de Montbazon and d'Epernon, the Marechaux de Lavardin and de Roquelaure, the Marquises de Mirabeau and de la Force, and M. de Liancourt, his first equerry.

Being anxious to obtain a good view of the preparations which were making for the entry of the Queen, Henry desired that the leathern curtains, which were at that period the clumsy substitute for windows, should be looped back; and during this operation M. de Vitry presented himself, with the intention of escorting the royal equipage with his company of the bodyguard.

"No, no," said the King impatiently; "remain in the palace, and see that everything goes on as I have ordered, and with as much speed as possible."

"At least, Sire, suffer my guards to attend you," urged De Vitry.

"I will neither take you nor your guards," was the abrupt reply; "I want no one near me."

And upon this command the disappointed courtier was compelled to withdraw.

"Drive from the palace," shouted the monarch in a tone of excitement; "in the direction of the Hotel de Longueville." The carriage started at a rapid pace, and it had no sooner reached the spot indicated, than he again exclaimed, "And now to the Cross of Trahoir." [18] Arrived at this wretched nook, he next desired to be driven to the Cemetery of the Innocents, for which purpose it was necessary to pass from the Rue St. Honore into that of La Ferronnerie, which was at that period extremely narrow, and rendered still more so by the numerous shops built against the cemetery wall. On reaching this point the progress of the royal carriage was impeded by two heavily-laden waggons, and the footmen who had hitherto run beside it pressed forward towards the end of the thoroughfare in order to rejoin it at the other extremity of the street. Two attendants only remained at their station, one of whom was employed in hastening the movements of the embarrassed waggoners, while the other was engaged in arranging some portion of his dress which had become displaced. At this moment a man advanced towards the King's equipage, wrapped in a wide mantle, and carefully picked his way between the trading-booths and the carriage, which he had no sooner reached than, placing one of his feet on a spoke of the wheel, and the other on a doorstep, he plunged a knife into the side of the King, who was at that moment engaged in reading a letter.

As he felt the blow Henry exclaimed, "I am stabbed!" While he uttered the words, he flung up his arms, an action by which the assassin profited to take a surer and more fatal aim; and before the horror-stricken companions of the unfortunate monarch could make a movement to prevent it, a second thrust pierced the lobe of his heart. The blood gushed in torrents from his mouth, and from the wound itself, when again the remorseless knife descended, but only to become entangled in the sleeve of the Duc d'Epernon;[19] while with one thick and choking sob Henri IV fell back a corpse.

No one had seen by what hand the King had fallen; and had the regicide flung away his weapon, he might have stood unquestioned among the crowd which instantly collected upon seeing the six nobles who had accompanied the sovereign spring to the ground, with loud exclamations of dismay; but Ravaillac[20] stood firm, with his reeking and two-edged knife still in his hand, and avowed his crime with a boldness which in a better cause would have savoured of heroism.[21]

Meanwhile one of the royal party, perceiving that Henry remained perfectly motionless, while the carriage was inundated with his blood, incautiously exclaimed, "The King is dead!" upon which a loud wail arose from the assembled spectators; and the agitation of the crowd became so excessive that the Duc d'Epernon called loudly for a draught of wine, asserting that his Majesty was faint from a hurt, and required refreshment. A number of the inhabitants of the adjacent houses thereupon hastened to procure the desired beverage; while the companions of the monarch, profiting by the movement, let fall the leathern curtains of the coach, and informed the populace that they must immediately convey his Majesty to the Louvre in order to secure proper assistance.[22] This was done with all speed, while as they passed through the city the attendants replied to the inquiries which were made on every side that the King was merely wounded; and on arriving at the palace the body was stretched upon a bed, without having been cleansed or clothed, and in this state it remained for several hours, exposed to the gaze of all who thought proper to visit the chamber of death.[23]

During this time the Queen, fatigued by her previous exertions, was lying upon a sofa in her private cabinet, in order to recruit her strength against the evening, which was, as we have shown, to have been one of gaiety and gala, when her affrighted attendants hastened to convey to her the fatal tidings of her widowhood. In a paroxysm of uncontrollable anguish she rushed towards the door of the closet, and was about to make her way to the chamber in which the royal body had been deposited, when she was met by the Chancellor, to whom the fearful news had already been communicated, and who obstructed her passage.

"Let me pass, Sir," she faltered out, "the King is dead."

"Pardon me, Madame," said Sillery, still impeding her purpose, "the Kings of France never die. Return, I implore of you, to your apartment. Restrain your tears until you have insured your own safety and that of your children; and instead of indulging in a grief which can avail you nothing, exert all your energies to counteract the possible effects of this disastrous and lamentable event."

M. de Vitry was immediately instructed to assemble all the royal children in the same apartment, and not to permit any one, whatever might be his rank or authority, to have access to them; an order which was implicitly obeyed; and meanwhile six-and-twenty physicians and surgeons, who had been hastily summoned to the palace, commenced opening the corpse, which was discovered to be so universally healthy as to promise a long life. The intestines were, according to the prescribed custom, at once forwarded to St. Denis; while the Jesuits demanded the heart, in order to convey it to their church of La Fleche; and it was no sooner removed from the body, and placed in a silver basin, than it was eagerly pressed to the lips of all the nobles who assisted at the operation; each of those who carried away traces of the blood which issued from it upon his moustachios, esteeming himself highly honoured by the vestiges of the contact.[24]

The royal remains were then embalmed, and placed in a sumptuous coffin upon a bed of state, in one of the most spacious apartments of the Louvre, which was hung with the richest tapestry appertaining to the crown. A magnificent canopy of cloth of gold surmounted the bier, and on either side of the catafalque were placed two temporary altars; ten others having been erected in the state-gallery, at which the bishops and the cures of the several metropolitan parishes daily performed six high and one hundred low masses. Platforms covered with cloth of gold had been prepared for the cardinals and prelates; and at the foot of the royal body, cushions of black velvet were arranged for the Princes of the Blood and the higher nobility. A golden crucifix and a silver vase containing holy water were deposited on a table of carved oak; and at the extremity of the room were grouped enormous tapers of wax, near which stood two heralds-king-at-arms, in their splendid state costume, leaning upon their swords. The face of the corpse was exposed, the head covered by a cap of crimson velvet laced with gold, and the body attired in a vest of white satin, over which was flung a drapery of cloth of gold, having in the centre a cross elaborately embroidered in silver.[25]

On the day which succeeded the embalmment, while the clergy were praying in suppressed voices at the several altars, a distant sound was heard, which gradually approaching nearer and nearer to the death-chamber, became ere long blent with their murmured orisons; and as they looked towards the entrance of the apartment, they saw the young King standing upon the threshold, attended by a numerous suite of Princes and nobles. Louis XIII was wrapped in a mourning cloak of violet-coloured velvet; his vest was of dark silk; and his pale and melancholy face was half-hidden by the hood which had been drawn over his head. The high dignitaries who composed his retinue wore mantles of black velvet, and were entirely without arms. The two younger sons of France, the Ducs d'Orleans and d'Anjou, walked on either side of the new-made sovereign, each grasping a fold of his heavy cloak; and immediately behind them came the Cardinals de Joyeuse and de Sourdis. The Prince de Conde, the Comte de Soissons, the Duc de Guise, the Prince de Joinville, and the Duc d'Elboeuf bore the royal train; and were in their turn succeeded by the prelates who assisted at the ceremony, each wearing his mitre, and carrying his crozier. In the rear followed a crowd of nobles and great officers of the household, who, however, advanced only a few yards from the doorway, while Louis and his immediate attendants slowly approached the bier. The scene was an affecting one: the boy-King, timid and trembling, surrounded by the flower of his nation's chivalry and greatness, moved with a faltering step towards the resting-place of that father who had so lately wielded like a toy the sceptre which he was himself still too impotent to bear, and whose bold spirit had been quenched while it was yet strong within him. On every side the vanity of human pride, which will not learn a lesson even under the stern teaching of death, was contrasted with the awe that sat upon the faces of the assistants, and with the immobility of the livid countenance which gleamed out pale and ghastly from amid its glittering drapery!

As the youthful mourner reached the death-couch, the kings-at-arms were about to present to him the aspergillus, in order that he might sprinkle the corpse with the consecrated water, when a movement among the nobles who stood near the entrance of the apartment caused them to pause; and in another moment a group of ladies, attired in deep mourning, appeared beneath the portico; where, separating into two ranks, they left a passage open for the widowed Queen; who, clad in violet velvet like her son, with a high ruff, and her head uncovered, advanced with an unsteady step and streaming eyes towards her children.

"Pray with me, my son," she murmured amid her sobs as she stood beneath the mortuary canopy; "there lies your happiness and mine. May it please God that our hopes may not also have expired with him who was but a few short hours ago the glory and the greatness of his kingdom! The sturdy tree has fallen, and the saplings are still weak and frail. The mission of the great Henry is accomplished, and the weight of sovereignty is transferred to your own brow. And you also, my beloved ones," she continued, glancing towards her younger sons, "come nearer to me, and let us kneel together beside the body of your august and lamented father."

The two young Princes relaxed their hold of the royal mantle, and placed themselves beside their mother. The illustrious widow and her orphans then sank upon their knees, and continued for a considerable time absorbed in silent and earnest prayer. At intervals a sob which could not be controlled broke upon the stillness, but at length the mourners rose; and Marie, taking the hand of the boy-King, drew him towards her, and murmured in his ear a few hurried words which were inaudible to all save himself. As she ceased speaking, Louis glanced up into her face for an instant; and then, extending his right hand towards the corpse, he said in a clear and steady voice—

"Mother, I swear to do so."

Even at that awful moment a strange light flashed from the eyes of the Queen, and a smile, which was almost one of triumph, played about her lips as she glanced at the assembled nobles; but the emotion, by whatever cause produced, was only momentary; and after having cast another long and agonized look upon the face of the dead monarch, and aspersed the body with holy water, she bent her head reverentially to the King, and withdrew, followed by her ladies.

When the whole of the royal party had paid this last mark of respect to the remains of the deceased sovereign, the coffin was finally closed; and the death-room, in which the corpse was to remain for the space of eighteen days, was opened to the public from ten o'clock in the morning until six in the evening. Then, indeed, as the vast crowds succeeded each other like the ceaseless waves of an incoming sea, the bitter wail of universal lamentation rang through the halls and galleries of the palace. Henri IV had been essentially the King of the People; and, with few and rare exceptions, it was by the people that he was truly mourned; for his sudden decease had opened so many arenas to ambition, hatred, jealousy, and hope, that the great nobles had no time to waste in tears, but were already busily engaged in the furtherance of their own fortunes.

During the exposition of the body the necessary preparations had been completed for the interment of the deceased King, which exceeded in magnificence all that had previously been attempted on a similar occasion; and this pomp was rendered even more remarkable by the privacy with which his predecessor Henri III had been conveyed to St. Denis only a week previously, the remains of the latter sovereign having hitherto been suffered to remain in the church of St. Camille at Compiegne, whence they were removed under the guard of the Ducs d'Epernon and de Bellegarde, his former favourites; the etiquette in such an emergency not permitting the inhumation of the recently deceased King in the vaults of the royal abbey until his predecessor should have occupied his appointed place.

The first stage of the funeral procession was Notre-Dame; and as the gorgeous cortege approached the church, all its avenues, save that which was kept clear by the Swiss Guards, were thronged by the citizens and artizans of the capital; sounds of weeping and lamentation were to be heard on every side; yet still, divided between grief and curiosity, the crowd swept on; and as the last section of the melancholy procession disappeared beneath the venerable portals of the cathedral, its vast esplanade was alive with earnest and eager human beings, who, fearful of exclusion from the interior of the building, pressed rudely against each other, overthrowing the weak and battling with the strong in their anxiety to assist at the awful and solemn ceremony which was about to be enacted.

Only a few moments had consequently elapsed ere a dense mass of the people choked almost to suffocation the gothic arches and the nave of the sacred edifice, while the aisles were peopled by the more exalted individuals who had composed the funeral procession. Upwards of three thousand nobles, and a great number of ladies, all clad in mourning dresses, and attended by their pages and equerries, blended their melancholy voices with the responses of the canons of the cathedral; the bishops of the adjacent sees, and the archbishops in their rich raiment of velvet and cloth of silver, carried in their hands tapers of perfumed wax; Oriental myrrh and aloes burned in golden censers, and veiled the lofty dome with a light and diaphanous vapour which gave an unearthly aspect to the building; the organ pealed forth its deep and thrilling tones; and amid this scene of excitement, splendour, and suffering, the Cardinal de Gondy celebrated the mass, and the Bishop of Aire delivered the funeral oration. The coffin was then raised, and the crowd, hurriedly escaping from the church, once more spread itself over the neighbouring streets until the procession should again have formed; after which all this immense concourse of people accompanied the body of their beloved monarch to St. Lazare, where the clergy halted and returned to Paris; while the nobles who were to escort the mortuary-car to St. Denis, and who had hitherto followed it on foot, either mounted on horseback, or entered their carriages, in order to reach the Leaning Cross at the same time as the corpse.

There, the grand prior and the monks of the royal abbey, in their mourning hoods, received the body of Henri IV from the hands of De Gondy, the Archbishop of Paris; and on the following day the Cardinal-Duc de Joyeuse celebrated a solemn mass and performed the funeral service of his late sovereign.

At the close of the lugubrious ceremony the iron gates of the house of death swung hoarsely upon their hinges. The "De Profundis" pealed from the high altar, and Henry the Great was gathered to his ancestors.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] L'Etoile, vol. iv. pp.17, 18. Montfaucon, vol. v. p.429.

[2] Matthieu, vol. 9361 of the royal manuscripts, p. 804.

[3] Dupleix, p. 403.

[4] L'Etoile, vol. iv. p. 30.

[5] Charles de Bourbon-Conti, Comte d'Anquien, son of the Comte de Soissons.

[6] Charlotte Catherine de la Tremouille, Princess Dowager of Conde, was the daughter of Louis III, Seigneur de la Tremouille, and was born in 1568. The Prince de Conde, the chief of the Protestant party, enamoured of her beauty, made her his wife in 1586; and having died by poison two years subsequently, suspicion fell upon the Princess and some of her confidential attendants, several of whom were put to death as accessories to the crime. Madame de Conde herself was imprisoned, and, despite her protestations of innocence, was not set at liberty for upwards of seven years, when she was at length liberated by Henri IV (1596). She died in 1629.

[7] Marie de Luxembourg, the daughter of Sebastien de Luxembourg, Duc de Penthievre and Vicomte de Martigues, and wife of Philippe Emmanuel de Lorraine, Duc de Mercoeur.

[8] Antoinette de Pons, Marquise de Guercheville, whose second husband was Charles du Plessis, Seigneur de Liancourt, First Equerry, and Governor of Paris.

[9] Remarques sur l'Invention de la Bibliotheque, de M. Guillaume, art. 33.

[10] Mercure Francais, 1610, pp. 419-423.

[11] Mercure Francais, 1610, p. 423.

[12] Francois de Bonne, Duc de Lesdiguieres, was born at St. Bonnet, in Upper Dauphiny, in 1543. He became general of the Huguenots, and obtained several victories over the Catholic troops. On the accession of Henri IV to the French throne, that Prince appointed him lieutenant-general of his armies in Piedmont, Savoy, and Dauphiny. His success in Savoy was brilliant, and he was created Marshal of France in 1608. Four years subsequently he embraced the Romish faith; and died in 1626 with the title of Connetable.

[13] Richelieu, La Mere et le Fils, vol. i. pp. 27-32.

[14] Idem, pp. 24, 25.

[15] Bassompierre, Mem. p. 71.

[16] Andree d'Alegre, Comtesse and Marechale de Fervaques, was the widow of Guy de Coligny, Comte de Laval, de Montfort, etc., and the wife of Guillaume de Hautemer, Comte de Grancy, Seigneur de Fervaques, and Marechal de France.

[17] Madeleine de Silly, Comtesse du Fargis, was the daughter of Antoine, Comte de la Rochepot, and the wife of Charles d'Angennes, Seigneur du Fargis, ambassador in Spain from 1620 to 1624. She became the confidential friend and favourite of Anne of Austria, and in 1636 was entrusted with the keeping of the crown jewels. Madame du Fargis was considered to be one of the most beautiful women at the French Court; but her spirit of intrigue rendered her a dangerous companion for a youthful and neglected Queen, and her morals were unfortunately not above suspicion.

[18] The Cross of Trahoir was a small irregularly shaped space, surrounded by miserable hovels, with high pointed roofs, most of which were in a state of dangerous dilapidation; the broken casements in every instance replaced by rags or straw; the doors ill-hung and swinging upon their rusty hinges, and the whole of the buildings lost in dirt and wretchedness. The inhabitants of this filthy nook were of the lowest and most depraved description, and no other tenants could indeed have been found to make their dwelling there; as in addition to the squalor of the buildings themselves, the deeply-sunk and humid soil, which in fact formed an open sewer that drained the adjacent streets, supported several permanent gibbets arranged in the form of a cross; while the thoroughfares by which it was approached were foul and fetid lanes, breathing nothing save disease and infection.

[19] Mezeray, Perefixe, and Daniel say that it was the Due de Montbazon whose arm warded off the blow.

[20] Francois Ravaillac was a native of Angouleme, the son of a lawyer, and was about thirty-two years of age. He was a descendant through the female line of Poltrot de Mere, the assassin of the Due de Guise. He had been originally destined to follow the profession of his father, but the loss of a lawsuit having reduced his parents to beggary, he took refuge in the monastery of the Feuillants, where he entered upon his novitiate. His weakness of intellect and extreme irritability caused him, however, to be rejected by that community; and he returned to his native province, where he was imprisoned for twelve months as an accomplice in a case of manslaughter. During his confinement he had, as he affirmed, visions connected with the conduct of the King which determined him to take his life; and for three years he had persisted in this horrible design, in furtherance of which he had thrice visited Paris. Upon the last of these occasions he had reached the capital during the Easter festivals, but he determined to delay his purpose until after the coronation of the Queen.

[21] Perefixe, vol. ii. pp. 496-498. Mezeray, vol. x. p. 395. Mercure Francais, p. 424. L'Etoile, vol. iv. pp. 36-40.

[22] Mercure Francais, pp. 424, 425. L'Etoile, vol. iv. pp. 40, 41. Daniel, vol. vii. p. 507.

[23] Mezeray, vol. x. p. 397.

[24] Mercure Francais, pp. 440, 441.

[25] Perefixe, vol. ii. pp. 498, 499.



BOOK II

MARIE DE MEDICIS AS REGENT

CHAPTER I

1610

Self-possession of Marie de Medicis—The Ducs de Guise and d'Epernon assemble the nobility—Precautions for the security of the metropolis—The first audience of the widowed Queen—Impolicy of Sully—The Duc d'Epernon announces to the Parliament the authorized regency of Marie—By whom it is ratified—Precarious position of the Queen-mother—The first night of widowhood—Injudicious apathy of Marie de Medicis on the subject of her husband's murder—Her incautious display of favour towards the Duc d'Epernon—The Duke is suspected of having been an accessory to the assassination of Henri IV—He demands the punishment of the authors of the rumour—A lawyer and a courtier—Fearless reply of the President de Harlay to the rebuke of the Regent—Suspicions against Philip of Spain—Louis XIII holds his first Bed of Justice—The Queen requests the support of the Parliament—Return of the Court to the Louvre—The Duc de Sully visits the Queen—Effect of his reception—The Princess-Dowager of Conde urges the return of her son to Court—M. de Soissons is invited by Marie de Medicis to the capital—His disappointment—His arrogance—A courtly falsehood—Reception of M. de Soissons at the gates of Paris—His numerous retinue—The recompense of obedience—Congratulatory deputations—Trial of the regicide Ravaillac—His execution—Arrival of the Duc de Bouillon in Paris—His quarrel with the Duc de Sully—They are reconciled—The Court attend a funeral service at Notre-Dame—Presumption of the Duc d'Epernon—Marie de Medicis devotes herself to state affairs—Jealousy of the Princes of the Blood and great nobles—Marie endeavours to conciliate them—The Spanish Minister endeavours to prevent the return of the Prince de Conde—Without success—The Regent forms a council—Pretensions of the nobles—The Duc d'Epernon takes possession of apartments in the Louvre—He leagues with the Comte de Soissons against the Prince de Conde—Speculations of the Ministers—Their policy—Boyhood of Louis XIII—A delicate position—A royal rebuke—Court favour—The visionary Government—Discontent of the citizens of Paris—Unpopularity of the Regent—The ex-Queen's entertainment—Imprudence of Marie de Medicis—Confirmation of the Edict of Nantes—Return of the Prince de Conde—The Regent is alarmed by his popularity—Double-dealing of the Duc d'Epernon—The Prince de Conde declares his intention to uphold the interests of the Regent—His reception at the Louvre—He rejoins his wife—The Court of the Hotel de Conde—A cabal—Marie is advised to arrest the Prince de Conde—She refuses—The secret council—Indignation of Sully—Mischievous advice of the Duc de Bouillon—Munificence of the Regent to M. de Conde—The royal treasury—Venality of the French Princes—The English Ambassador—Royal pledges—Philip of Spain proposes a double alliance with France—The Regent welcomes the offer—Policy of Philip—The secret pledge—Madame de Verneuil urges her claim to the hand of the Duc de Guise—The important document—A ducal dilemma—The Regent discountenances the claim of the Marquise—Madame de Verneuil is induced by Jeannin to withdraw her pretensions—Her subsequent obscurity.

The news of the King's decease had no sooner been communicated to Marie de Medicis than, profiting by the advice of the Chancellor, she made a violent attempt at composure; and although still with streaming eyes and ill-suppressed sobs, she gave her assent to the suggestions of her councillors. The Ducs de Guise and d'Epernon were instructed to mount upon the instant, and to assemble as many of the nobles as were within reach, whom they were to accompany through the streets of the city, declaring upon their way that the King was not dead, although grievously wounded; the city gates were ordered to be closed, the keys delivered to the lieutenant of police, and strict commands issued to prevent all gatherings of the populace in the thoroughfares; while the guards who were distributed through the faubourgs were hastily concentrated in the environs of the Parliament, in order, should such a measure become necessary, to enforce the recognition of the Queen as Regent of the kingdom.

These arrangements made, MM. de Guise, d'Epernon, de Villeroy, and de Lavardin demanded an audience of the august widow, at which, kneeling before her, they kissed her hand, and assured her of their unalterable devotion. Their example was imitated by all the great nobles of the Court, with the sole exception of the Duc de Sully, who was encountered by Bassompierre in the Rue St. Antoine, accompanied by about forty mounted followers, and evidently in a state of intense agitation. "Gentlemen," he exclaimed, as the two parties met, "if the loyalty which you each vowed to the monarch whom we have just been unhappy enough to lose is as deeply impressed upon your hearts as it should be upon those of all faithful Frenchmen, swear at this precise moment to preserve the same fidelity towards the King his son and successor, and that you will employ your blood and your life to avenge him."

"Sir," haughtily replied Bassompierre, who had probably more deeply mourned the death of his royal master and friend than any other individual of the Court, and who was consequently revolted by the imperious tone of this address, "it is we who have been enjoined to enforce this oath upon others, and we do not need any exhortations to do our duty."

Sully regarded the speaker gloomily for an instant, and then, as though overcome by some sudden apprehension, he coldly saluted the group of nobles, and retraced his steps to the Bastille, where he forthwith closed the gates; having previously, on his way thither, caused his attendants to carry off all the bread which they could collect either in the shops or markets. He, moreover, no sooner thus found himself in safety than he despatched a courier to his son-in-law, the Duc de Rohan, who was with the army in Champagne at the head of six thousand Switzers, desiring him to march straight upon Paris; an indiscretion which he was subsequently destined to expiate, from the heavy suspicion which it necessarily entailed upon him. Vainly did MM. de Praslin and de Crequy, who were sent to summon him to the presence of the young King, endeavour to induce him to lose no time in presenting himself at the Louvre; the only concession which he could be prevailed upon to make, was to desire the Duchess, his wife,[26] to hasten to the palace, and to offer to the Regent and her son his sincere condolence upon their irreparable misfortune.[27]

The Duc d'Epernon, after having stationed the guards at the palace, was instructed by the Queen to proceed at once to the Parliament, which was then assembled, and to inform its members that her Majesty had in her possession a decree signed and sealed by the late King, conferring upon herself the regency of the kingdom during the minority of her son; entreating them at once to ratify the appointment in order to ensure the public tranquillity. She also privately despatched a messenger to the President de Harlay, whom she knew to be attached to her interests, and to be at once able and zealous, to instruct him to assemble the Court without delay, and to use all his influence to enforce her rights. De Harlay, who on receipt of her message was confined to his bed by gout, immediately caused himself to be dressed, and proceeded in a chair to the Augustine monastery; where he had scarcely arrived when the Duc d'Epernon entered the hall, and declared the will of the late King, and the confidence felt by the Queen that the Parliament would, without repugnance, recognize her right to the dignity thus conferred upon her.[28] This they immediately did; and owing to the absence of the Prince de Conde and the Comte de Soissons, both of whom aspired to the high office about to be filled by Marie de Medicis, without the slightest opposition or disturbance.

This happy intelligence was conveyed to the Queen by M. d'Epernon, who returned to the palace accompanied by one of the members of the Parliament, when the latter, after having been presented to his royal mistress, on whose right hand sat the young King bewildered by what was passing about him, bent his knee before their Majesties, and tendered to Marie a scroll, which having been returned by her to the accredited envoy of the supreme court, was read aloud as follows:—

"THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL, having represented to the Parliament in full assembly that the King having just expired by the act of a most cruel, most inhuman, and most detestable regicide committed upon his sacred person, it became necessary to provide for the safety of the reigning monarch and of his kingdom, required that an order should be promptly issued concerning his safety and that of the state, which could only be ruled and governed by the Queen during the minority of the said Lord her son; and that it should please the said Court to proclaim her Regent, in order that it might, through her, administer the affairs of the realm; The subject having been duly considered, the said Court declared, and still declares, the said Queen, the King's mother, Regent of France, to be entrusted with the administration of all matters of state during the minority of the said Lord her son, with all power and authority.

"Done in Parliament, this 14th of May, 1610.

"(Signed) DU TILLET." [29]

During the course of the day guards had been sent to the residence of the several foreign ambassadors, in order to protect them from the violence of the populace, and especially to that of the Spanish minister, who was peculiarly obnoxious to the Parisians. The governors of provinces and fortresses who chanced to be at that moment sojourning in the capital were ordered to repair without delay to their several commands, to maintain tranquillity within their separate jurisdictions; and, save the audible lamentations which throughout the night broke the silence of the mourning city, all was calm and quiet, except in the immediate neighbourhood of the Augustine monastery, where the Attorney-General had authorized the workmen to prepare the great hall for the reception of the young King, and where the necessary preparations for his presence on the following day were continued until dawn.[30]

The parliamentary envoy having quitted the palace, and the crowd of nobles, by whom its spacious halls and galleries had been filled, having retired, Marie was at length left at liberty to indulge her grief, rendered only the more poignant from the constraint to which she had been so long subjected. Her first impulse was to command that the bed of the young sovereign should be removed to her own chamber, and this done, she abandoned herself to all the bitterness of her sorrow.

She had, indeed, legitimate cause for tears. With a son still almost a child, ambitious nobles jealous of her power, and a great nation looking towards herself for support and consolation, she might well shrink as she contemplated the arduous task which had so suddenly devolved upon her. Moreover, death is the moral crucible which cleanses from all dross the memories of those who are submitted to its unerring test; and in such an hour she could not but forget the faults of the husband in dwelling upon the greatness of the monarch. Who, then, shall venture to follow her through the reveries of that fatal night? Who shall dare, unrebuked, to assert that the ambition of the woman quenched the affection of the wife? or that Marie, in the excess of her self-gratulation, forgot the price at which her delegated greatness had been purchased? That some have been found bold enough to do this says little for their innate knowledge of human nature. The presence of death and the stillness of night are fearful chasteners of worldly pride, and with these the daughter of the Medici was called upon to contend. Her position demanded mercy at the hands of her historians, and should not have sought it in vain.

From one reproach it is, however, impossible to exonerate her, and that one was the repugnance which she evinced to encourage any investigation into the real influence under which Ravaillac had committed the murder of the King. In vain did she receive communications involving individuals who were openly named; she discouraged every report; and although among these the Duc d'Epernon made a conspicuous figure, she treated the accusation with indifference, and continued to display towards him an amount of confidence and favour to which he had never previously attained.

Indignant at this extraordinary supineness, the President de Harlay only increased his own efforts to unravel so painful a mystery; and refusing all credence to the assertion of the regicide that he had been self-prompted—an assertion to which he had perseveringly adhered amid torture, and even unto death, with a firmness truly marvellous under the circumstances—the zealous magistrate carefully examined every document that was laid before him, and interrogated their authors with a pertinacity which created great alarm among the accused parties, of whom none were so prominent as Madame de Verneuil and the Duc d'Epernon.

The latter, indeed, considered it expedient to wait upon the commissioners appointed by the Parliament to investigate these reports, in order to urge the condemnation of their authors; these being, as he asserted, not only guilty of defaming innocent persons, but also of exciting a dangerous feeling among the people, at all times too anxious to seek the disgrace and ruin of their superiors. He found, however, little sympathy among those whom he sought to conciliate; and on addressing himself to the President, whom he entreated to inform him of the details of the accusation made against himself, that magistrate, without any effort to disguise his feeling of repulsion towards the applicant, coldly replied, "I am, Sir, not your prosecutor, but your judge."

"I ask this of you as my friend," was the retort of the Duke.

"I have no friend," said the uncompromising minister. "I shall do you justice, and with that you must content yourself."

So uncourteous a reception excited the indignation of M. d'Epernon, who forthwith hastened to the Louvre to complain to the Regent of the insult to which he had been subjected; and Marie had no sooner been apprised of the affair than, with a want of caution highly detrimental to her own reputation, she despatched a nobleman of her household to M. de Harlay, to inform him that she had just learnt with extreme regret that he had failed in respect to the Duke, and that she must request that in future he would exhibit more deference towards a person of his quality and merit. This somewhat abrupt injunction, addressed to the first magistrate of the kingdom, and under circumstances so peculiar, only tended, however, to arouse M. de Harlay to an assumption of the dignity attached to his office, and he replied with haughty severity to the individual who had been charged with the royal message:—

"During fifty years I have been a judge, and for the last thirty I have had the honour to be the head of the sovereign Court of Peers of this kingdom; and I never before have seen either duke, lord, or peer, or any other man whatever might be his quality, accused of the crime of lese-majeste as M. d'Epernon now is, who came into the presence of his judges booted and spurred, and wearing his sword at his side. Do not fail to tell the Queen this." [31]

So marked an exhibition of the opinion entertained by the Parliament on the subject of the complicity of the Duke in the crime then under investigation, did not fail to produce a powerful effect upon all to whom it became known, but it nevertheless failed to shake the confidence of Marie de Medicis in the innocence of a courtier who had, in the short space of a few days, by his energy and devotion, rendered himself essential to her; while thus much must be admitted in extenuation of her conduct, reprehensible as it appeared, that every rumour relative to the death of her royal consort immediately reached her, and that two of these especially appeared more credible than the guilt of a noble, who could, apparently, reap no benefit from the commission of so foul and dangerous a crime. In the first place, the Spanish Cabinet had been long labouring to undermine the power of France, in which they had failed through the energy and wisdom of the late King, whose opposition to the alliance which they had proposed between the Dauphin and their own Infanta had, moreover, wounded their pride, and disappointed their projects; and there were not wanting many who accused the agents of Philip of having instigated the assassination; while another rumour, less generally disseminated, ascribed the act of Ravaillac to the impulse of personal revenge, elicited by the circumstance that Henry had first dishonoured and subsequently abandoned a sister to whom he was devotedly attached.

That M. d'Epernon was politic enough to impress upon the mind of the Queen the extreme probability of either or both of these facts, there can be little doubt, as it would appear from the testimony of several witnesses that the intention of the murderer was known for some time before the act was committed; and nothing could be more rational than the belief that if the agents of Spain were indeed seeking to secure a trusty tool for the execution of so dark a deed, they would rather entrust it to one who could by the same means satiate his own thirst for private revenge, than to a mere bravo who perilled life and salvation simply from the greed of gain.

Day by day, moreover, the ministers were overwhelmed by accusations which pointed at different individuals. Those who had opposed the return of the Jesuits to France openly declared that they were the actual assassins; while even in the provinces several persons were arrested who had predicted before its occurrence the death of the King, and the means by which it was to be accomplished; and finally the affair became so involved that, with the exception of the woman De Comans to whom allusion has been elsewhere made, and who was condemned to imprisonment for life, all the suspected persons were finally acquitted.[32]

At eight o'clock on the morning succeeding the assassination of the King all the members of the different Chambers assembled in their scarlet robes and capes, the presidents wearing their cloaks and mortar-shaped caps; and half an hour afterwards the Chancellor, accompanied by several masters of the Court of Requests, and dressed from head to foot in black velvet, took his place below the First President in the great hall of the Augustine monastery, where the young King was to hold his Bed of Justice, the ordinary place of meeting being still encumbered with the costly preparations which had been made for the state-reception of the Queen. This ceremonial was essential to the legal tenure of the regency by his mother, which required the ratification of the sovereign; and his assent in the presence of his princes, dukes, peers, and officers of the Crown, to her assumption of entire and complete control over his own education, and the administration of the government during his minority, as well as his approval of the decree delivered on the previous day by the Parliament.[33]

Then arrived in rapid succession the Duc de Mayenne, the Connetable de Montmorency, the cardinals, prelates, and other great dignitaries; who were finally succeeded by the King himself, habited in a suit of violet velvet, and surrounded and followed by a numerous retinue of princes, dukes, nobles, and high officers of the Court. Louis himself was mounted on a white palfrey, but all the members of his suite, whatever their rank, were on foot. The Queen came next in her coach, attended by the Princesses of the Blood and the other great ladies of her household; not as she had anticipated only two days previously, blazing with jewels and clad in royal robes, but covered with an ample mourning drapery of black crape.

The necessary ceremonies having been observed, the King at length took his place upon the Bed of Justice, having the Queen upon his right hand; while below their Majesties were seated the Prince de Conti, the Comte d'Enghien, who represented his father, M. de Soissons, the Duc de Guise, the Duc de Montmorency, the Duc d'Epernon, the Duc de Sully, all peers of France, and the Marechaux de Brissac,[34] de Lavardin, and de Bois-Dauphin;[35] while the other dignitaries of the State and Church were arranged upon either hand of the young monarch, and the body of the hall was occupied by the members of the several Courts.

When all had taken their places, and silence was restored, the Queen, rising from her seat, and throwing back her veil, proceeded to address the assembly, but for a time her voice was inaudible, and choked with sobs. At length, however, she mastered her emotion, and with a gesture full of mournful dignity, she besought all present to continue to her son and to herself the same loyalty and devotion which they had exhibited towards the monarch of whom the state had been so cruelly bereft; assuring them that it should be her study to induce the King to be guided by their counsels in all things, and imploring of them to afford him such advice as should on all occasions be compatible with his own dignity and the welfare of the country over which he was called upon to rule.

Short as was this harangue, it was not without considerable difficulty that she accomplished its utterance. More than once, suffocated by her grief, she was compelled to pause until she could regain her voice; and when at its close she drew her veil once more over her head, and prepared to leave the hall, the assembly rose simultaneously, and implored of her to honour the meeting by her presence until it should be dissolved. Exhausted and wretched, Marie strove to utter her thanks, and to retire; but the opposition offered to this resolution was so great and so unanimous that she was at length prevailed upon to resume her seat; and she had no sooner done so than Louis, raising for a moment the cap from his head, in his turn addressed the Court.

The reply of the Chancellor was pregnant with wisdom and loyalty; in it he assured the King of the fidelity and devotion of all ranks of his subjects, and confirmed the Queen in her regency; after which the Attorney-General having spoken at great length to the same effect, the royal and august personages rose and returned to the Louvre in the same order as they had observed on their arrival, followed throughout the whole distance by the acclamations of the citizens, and reiterated cries of "Vive le Roi!" [36]

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