HotFreeBooks.com
The Life of Marie de Medicis, Vol. 3 (of 3)
by Julia Pardoe
1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

THE LIFE OF MARIE DE MEDICIS, VOL. III

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 III

MARIE DE MEDICIS AS EXILE

CHAPTER I

1618

De Luynes resolves to compel the Queen-mother to remain at Blois—Treachery of Richelieu—The suspicions of Marie are aroused—Her apprehensions—She demands permission to remove to Monceaux, and is refused—She affects to resign herself to her fate—A royal correspondence—Vanity of the Due d'Epernon—A Court broil—The Abbe Rucellai offers his services to Marie de Medicis—He attempts to win over the great nobles to her cause—He is compelled to quit the Court, and retires to Sedan—The Due de Bouillon refuses to join the cabal—The Duc d'Epernon consents to aid the escape of the Queen-mother—The ministers become suspicious of the designs of Richelieu—He is ordered to retire to Coussay, and subsequently to Avignon—Tyranny of M. de Roissy—The Queen-mother resolves to demand a public trial—De Luynes affects to seek a reconciliation with the Prince de Conde—Firmness of the Queen-mother—The three Jesuits—Marie pledges herself not to leave Blois without the sanction of the King—False confidence of De Luynes—The malcontents are brought to trial—Weakness of the ministers—Political executions—Indignation of the people—The Princes resolve to liberate the Queen-mother.

CHAPTER II

1619

The Due d'Epernon leaves Metz—A traitor—A minister at fault—The Duc de Bellegarde offers an asylum to the Queen-mother—Marie de Medicis escapes from Blois—She is conducted by M. d'Epernon to Angouleme—Gaieties of the capital—Marriages of the Princesse Christine and Mademoiselle de Vendome—Louis XIII is apprised of the escape of the Queen—Alarm of the King—Advice of De Luynes—The Council resolve to despatch a body of troops under M. de Mayenne to remove Marie de Medicis from the keeping of the Duc d'Epernon-Discontent of the citizens—Louis XIII enters into a negotiation with his mother—She rejects his conditions—Richelieu offers himself as a mediator, and is accepted—The royal forces march on Angouleme—Marie prepares for resistance—The Princes withdraw from her cause—Schomberg proposes to blow up the powder-magazine at Angouleme—Critical position of the Queen-mother—She appeals to the Protestants, but is repulsed—Schomberg takes up arms against the Duc d'Epernon—Alarm of Marie de Medicis—Richelieu proceeds to Angouleme—He regains the confidence of the Queen—Successful intrigue of Richelieu—Marie is deserted by several of her friends—A treaty of peace is concluded between the King and his mother—The envoy of Marie incurs the displeasure of Louis XIII—The malcontents rally round the Queen-mother—The Princes of Piedmont visit Marie at Angouleme—Their reception—Magnificence of the Duc d'Epernon—The Queen-mother refuses to quit Angouleme—Ambition of Richelieu—Weakness of Marie de Medicis—Father Joseph endeavours to induce the Queen-mother to return to the Court—She is encouraged in her refusal by Richelieu—The rival Queens—Marie leave Angouleme—Her parting with the Duc d'Epernon—She is received at Poitiers by the Cardinal de Retz and the Duc de Luynes—The Prince de Conde offers the hand of his sister Eleonore de Bourbon to the brother of De Luynes as the price of his liberation—The sword of the Prince is restored to him—Duplicity of the favourite—Marie resolves to return to Angouleme, but is dissuaded by her friends—The Duc de Mayenne espouses the cause of the Queen-mother—A royal meeting—Return of the Court to Tours—Marie proceeds to Chinon, and thence to Angers—The Protestants welcome the Queen-mother to Anjou—Alarm of De Luynes—Liberation of the Prince de Conde—Indignation of Marie de Medicis—Policy of Richelieu—De Luynes solicits the return of the Queen-mother to the capital—She refuses to comply—De Luynes is made Governor of Picardy—His brothers are ennobled.

CHAPTER III

1620

Louis XIII creates numerous Knights of the Holy Ghost without reference to the wishes of his mother—Indignation of Marie de Medicis—Policy of De Luynes—Richelieu aspires to the cardinalate—A Court quarrel—The Comtesse de Soissons conspires to strengthen the party of the Queen-mother—Several of the great Princes proceed to Angers to urge Marie to take up arms—Alarm of the favourite—He seeks to propitiate the Duc de Guise—The double marriage—Caustic reply of the Duc de Guise—Royal alliances—An ex-Regent and a new-made Duke—The Queen-mother is threatened with hostilities should she refuse to return immediately to the capital—She remains inflexible—Conde advises the King to compel her obedience—De Luynes enters into a negotiation with Marie—An unskilful envoy—Louis XIII heads his army in Normandy—Alarm of the rebel Princes—They lay down their arms, and the King marches upon the Loire—The Queen-mother prepares to oppose him—She garrisons Angers—The Duc de Mayenne urges her to retire to Guienne—She refuses—Treachery of Richelieu—League between Richelieu and De Luynes—Marie de Medicis negotiates with the King—Louis declines her conditions—The defeat at the Fonts de Ce—Submission of the Queen-mother—A royal interview—Courtly duplicity—Marie retires to Chinon—The Ducs de Mayenne and d'Epernon lay down their arms—The Court assemble at Poitiers to meet the Queen-mother—Louis proceeds to Guienne, and Marie de Medicis to Fontainebleau—The King compels the resumption of the Romish faith in Bearn—The Court return to Paris.

CHAPTER IV

1621-24

Attempt to secure a cardinal's hat for Richelieu frustrated by De Luynes—Death of Philip III of Spain—De Luynes is created Connetable de France—Discontent of the great nobles—Disgust of the Marechal de Lesdiguieres—The Protestants of Bearn rise against their oppressors—The royal troops march against them—They are worsted, and despoiled of their fortified places—The King becomes jealous of his favourite—Le Roi Luynes—Domestic dissensions—The favourite is threatened with disgrace—Cruelty of Louis XIII—Death of De Luynes—Louis determines to exterminate the Protestants—A struggle for power—Prudence of Bassompierre—Conde encourages the design of the King—The old ministers are recalled—They join with the Queen-mother in her attempt to conclude a peace with the reformed party—Marie de Medicis solicits a share in the government—The King complies, but refuses to sanction the admission of Richelieu to the Council—The Duchesse de Luynes and Anne of Austria—Frustrated hopes—Conde aspires to the French throne—Louis XIII leaves the capital by stealth in order to join the army at Nantes—The Queen-mother prepares to follow him, but is overtaken by illness—Ruthless persecution of the Protestants—Siege of La Rochelle—Venality of the Protestant leaders—Indignation of the Catholic nobles—Resistance of the citizens of Montpellier—Military incapacity of Conde—The Duc de Rohan negotiates a peace, and Conde retires to Rome—Montpellier opens its gates to the King—Bad faith of Louis XIII—Triumphal entry of the King at Lyons—Marriage of the Marquis de la Valette and Mademoiselle de Verneuil—Richelieu is created a cardinal—Exultation of the Queen-mother—Death of the President Jeannin—Prospects of Richelieu—His duplicity—Misplaced confidence of Marie de Medicis—Louis XIII returns to Paris—Change in the Ministry—Anne of Austria and the Prince of Wales—The Queen-mother and her faction endeavour to accomplish the ruin of the Chancellor, and succeed—Richelieu is admitted to the Council—Indignation of Conde—Richelieu becomes all-powerful—His ingratitude to the Queen-mother—The Queen-mother is anxious to effect a matrimonial alliance with England—Richelieu seconds her views—The King of Spain applies for the hand of the Princesse Henriette for Don Carlos—His demand is negatived by the Cardinal-Minister—La Vieuville is dismissed from the Ministry—Duplicity of Louis XIII—Arrest of La Vieuville—Change of ministers—Petticoat intrigues—The Duc d'Anjou solicits the hand of Mademoiselle de Montpensier—The alliance is opposed by the Guises and forbidden by the King.

CHAPTER V

1625-28

Death of James I.—The Princesse Henriette is married by proxy to Charles I—The Duke of Buckingham arrives in France to conduct his young sovereign to her new country—An arrogant suitor—Departure of the English Queen—Indisposition of Marie de Medicis—Arrival of Henriette in London—Growing power of Richelieu—Suspicions of the Queen-mother—Influence of the Jesuit Berulle over Marie de Medicis—Richelieu urges Monsieur to conclude his marriage with Mademoiselle de Montpensier—Character of Gaston—He refuses to accept the hand of the lady—Arrest of M. d'Ornano—Vengeance of Richelieu—Indignation of Monsieur—Alarm of the Queen-mother—Pusillanimity of Gaston—Arrest of the Vendome Princes—Edicts issued against the great nobles—Sumptuary laws—Execution of the Comte de Bouteville—The reign of Richelieu—Policy of Marie and her minister—Distrust of the King—Conspiracy against the Cardinal—Richelieu threatens to retire from office—A diplomatic drama—Triumph of the Cardinal—Execution of Chalais—Heartlessness of Gaston—Monsieur consents to an alliance with Mademoiselle de Montpensier—A royal marriage—The victims of Richelieu—Marie de Medicis and the Cardinal endeavour to increase the dissension between Louis XIII and his Queen—Exile of the Duchesse de Joyeuse-Accusation against Anne of Austria—She becomes a state prisoner—Subtlety of Richelieu—Anticipated rupture with England—Embassy of Bassompierre—Death of the Duc de Lesdiguieres—Favour of Saint-Simon—Pregnancy of the Duchesse d'Orleans—Dissolute conduct of Monsieur—Birth of Mademoiselle—Death of Madame—Marie de Medicis seeks to effect a marriage between Monsieur and a Florentine Princess—Buckingham lands in France, but is repulsed—Illness of Louis XIII—Disgust of the Duc d'Orleans—Louis wearies of the camp—He is incensed against the Cardinal—The King returns to Paris—Monsieur affects a passion for the Princesse Marie de Gonzaga, which alarms the sovereign—His distrust of the Queen-mother—Marie de Medicis withdraws her confidence from the Cardinal—Mother and son—Louis returns to La Rochelle—The city capitulates—Triumphal entry of Louis XIII into Paris—Exhortation of the Papal Nuncio.

CHAPTER VI

1629

Richelieu resolves to undermine the power of Austria—State of Europe—Opposition of the Queen-mother to a new war—Perseverance of the Cardinal—Anne of Austria joins the faction of Marie de Medicis-Gaston is appointed General of the royal army—Richelieu retires from the Court—Alarm of Louis XIII—A King and his minister—Louis leaves Paris for the seat of war—Monsieur is deprived of his command, and retires to Dauphiny—Marie de Gonzaga is sent to the fortress of Vincennes—Monsieur consents to forego his marriage until it shall receive the royal sanction, and the Princess returns to the Louvre—Marie is invested with a partial regency—Forebodings of the Cardinal—Termination of the campaign—Renewed discord—Richelieu becomes jealous of Bassompierre—Louis abandons his army, and is followed by the minister—Counterplots—An offended mistress and an ex-favourite—A hollow peace—Gaston retires to the Court of Lorraine, where he becomes enamoured of the Princesse Marguerite—The Cardinal invites him to return to Paris—Monsieur accepts the proposed conditions—The French troops march upon Piedmont—Richelieu is appointed Lieutenant-General of the royal forces in Italy—The King resolves to follow him—Anxiety of Marie de Medicis to avoid a rupture with Spain—Dissensions between the two Queens—Mademoiselle de Hautefort—Failing influence of Marie de Medicis—Self-distrust of the King—The Queen-mother endeavours to effect a reconciliation between her sons.

CHAPTER VII

1630

Gaston returns to France—Precarious position of the French armies—Death of the Duke of Savoy—The French besiege Pignerol—Richelieu urges the King to possess himself of the Duchy of Savoy—Marie de Medicis opposes the measure—Louis XIII overruns Savoy—The French lose Mantua—Jules Mazarin—The King is attacked by fever at Lyons—Moral effects of his indisposition—He consents to dismiss the Cardinal from office—Reconciliation of the royal family—The Court return to the capital—Richelieu endeavours to regain the favour of the Queen-mother—Policy of Marie—Richelieu seeks to effect the disgrace of Marillac—The two Queens unite their interests—Meeting of the royal brothers—Gaston inveighs bitterly against the Cardinal—The Queen-mother takes up her abode at the Luxembourg—Louis proceeds in state to bid her welcome—Monsieur publicly affronts Richelieu—A treaty is concluded with Italy—Public rejoicings in Paris—Marie dismisses the Cardinal and his relations from her household—A drama at Court—Richelieu prepares to leave Paris; but is dissuaded, and follows the King to Versailles—Exultation of the citizens at the anticipated overthrow of the Cardinal-Minister—The courtiers crowd the Luxembourg—Bassompierre at fault—Triumph of Richelieu—Hypocrisy of the Cardinal—"The Day of Dupes"—A regal minister—The Marillacs are disgraced—Anne of Austria is suspected of maintaining a secret correspondence with Spain—Gaston conspires with the two Queens against Richelieu—Divided state of the French Court—A fete at the Louvre.

CHAPTER VIII

1631

Richelieu interdicts all correspondence between Anne of Austria and the King of Spain—The Queen asks permission to retire to the Val de Grace—Her persecution by the Cardinal—Marie de Medicis protects her interests—Monsieur pledges himself to support her cause—Gaston defies the minister—Alarm of Richelieu—He resolves to effect the exile of the Queen-mother—Monsieur quits the capital—Superstition of Marie de Medicis—An unequal struggle—Father Joseph and his patron—The Queen-mother resolves to accompany her son to Italy—Richelieu assures the King that Marie and Gaston have organized a conspiracy against his life—The Court proceed to Compiegne—The Queen-mother refuses to retain her seat in the Council—Richelieu regains all his influence over the King—Revenge of the Cardinal upon his enemies—Desperate position of Marie de Medicis—Her arrest is determined upon by the Council—Louis leaves her a prisoner at Compiegne—Parting interview of the two Queens—Indignity offered to Anne of Austria—Death of the Princesse de Conti—Indignation of the royal prisoner—A diplomatic correspondence—Two noble gaolers—The royal troops pursue Monsieur—The adherents of Gaston are declared guilty of lese-majeste—Gaston addresses a declaration to the Parliament—The Queen-mother forwards a similar protest, and then appeals to the people—A paper war—The garrison is withdrawn from Compiegne—Marie resolves to effect her escape to the Low Countries—She is assured of the protection of Spain and Germany—The Queen-mother secretly leaves the fortress—She is betrayed by the Marquis de Vardes, and proceeds with all speed to Hainault, pursued by the royal troops—She is received at Mons by the Archduchess Isabella—Whence she addresses a letter to the King to explain the motives of her flight—Reply of Louis XIII—Sympathy of Isabella—The two Princesses proceed to Brussels—Triumphal entry of Marie de Medicis into the capital of Flanders—Renewed hopes of the exiled Queen—The Belgian Ambassador at the French Court—Vindictive counsels of the Cardinal—The property of the Queen-mother and Monsieur is confiscated—They are abandoned by many of their adherents—Richelieu is created a duke—A King and his minister—Marie consents to the marriage of Monsieur with Marguerite de Lorraine—The followers of the Queen-mother and the Duc d'Orleans are tried and condemned—Louis XIII proceeds to Lorraine to prevent the projected alliance of his brother—Intrigues of Gaston—Philip of Spain refuses to adopt the cause of Marie de Medicis—Marriage of Monsieur and the Princesse de Lorraine—The Queen-mother endeavours to negotiate her return to France—Richelieu determines the King not to consent—Charles de Lorraine makes his submission to the French monarch—And signs a compulsory treaty.

CHAPTER IX

1632

Gaston d'Orleans proceeds to Brussels—His reception—Vanity of Monsieur—Exultation of the Spanish Cabinet—Montmorency abandons the interests of Richelieu—Marie de Medicis solicits his support—He consents to second the projects of Monsieur—The Queen-mother and the Duc d'Orleans sell their jewels in order to raise troops for the invasion of France—Trial of the Marechal de Marillac—Marie and Gaston exert themselves to save his life—He is executed—The adherents of the two royal exiles create dissensions between the mother and son—Gaston joins the Spanish army—Munificence of Isabella—Gaston marches upon Burgundy—Remonstrance of Montmorency—An ill-planned campaign—Battle of Castelnaudary—Slaughter of the rebel leaders—Cowardice of Monsieur—Montmorency is made prisoner—Gaston endeavours to make terms with the King—He abandons the cause of his mother, and that of his allies—He stipulates for the pardon of Montmorency—Richelieu refuses the condition—The treaty is signed by Monsieur—Jealousy of Louis XIII—The miniature—Montmorency is conveyed to Toulouse, and put upon his trial—Double-dealing of the Cardinal—Obduracy of the King—Execution of Montmorency—Despair of the Queen-mother—Death of the Comtesse du Fargis—The Jesuit Chanteloupe and Madame de Comballet—A new conspiracy—The Archduchess Isabella refuses to deliver up the servants of Marie de Medicis—Gaston retires to Burgundy.

CHAPTER X

1633

Monsieur returns to Flanders—The Queen-mother retires in displeasure to Malines—Influence of Chanteloupe—Selfishness of Monsieur—Death of Gustavus Adolphus—Richelieu seeks to withdraw the Queen-mother and her son from the protection of Spain—Marie is urged to retire to Florence—The Tuscan envoy—Two diplomatists—Mortification of the Queen-mother—She desires to seek an asylum in England—Charles I. hesitates to grant her request—Helpless position of Marie de Medicis-The iron rule of Richelieu—The Cardinal-dramatist—Gaston avows his marriage to the King—Louis enters Lorraine, and takes Nancy-Madame escapes to the Low Countries—Her reception at the Court of Brussels—Marie de Medicis takes up her residence at Ghent—Serious indisposition of the Queen-mother—She solicits the attendance of her physician Vautier, and is refused—Hypocrisy of the Cardinal—Indignation of the dying Queen—She rejects the terms of reconciliation offered by the King—Attachment of her adherents—Richelieu negotiates the return of Gaston to France—The favourite of Monsieur—Gaston refuses to annul his marriage—Alfeston is broken on the wheel for attempting the life of the Cardinal—The Queen-mother is accused of instigating the murder—The bodyguard of the Cardinal-Minister is increased—Estrangement of Monsieur and his mother—Madame endeavours to effect the dismissal of Puylaurens—Insolence of the favourite—Heartlessness of Monsieur—Marie solicits permission to return to France—She is commanded as a condition to abandon her followers, and refuses—Death of the Archduchess Isabella—Gaston negotiates, and consents to the most humiliating concessions.

CHAPTER XI

1634

Increasing trials of the exiled Queen—Her property is seized on the frontier—She determines to conciliate the Cardinal—Richelieu remains implacable—Far-reaching ambition of the minister—Weakness of Louis XIII—Insidious arguments of Richelieu—Marie de Medicis is again urged to abandon her adherents—Cowardly policy of Monsieur—He signs a treaty with Spain—The Queen-mother refuses to join in the conspiracy—Puylaurens induces Monsieur to accept the proffered terms of Richelieu—He escapes secretly from Brussels—-Gaston pledges himself to the King to "love the Cardinal "—Gaston again refuses to repudiate his wife—Puylaurens obtains the hand of a relative of the minister and becomes Duc de Puylaurens—Monsieur retires to Blois.

CHAPTER XII

1635-38

Richelieu resolves to accomplish the disgrace of Puylaurens—Gaston proceeds to Paris during the Carnival, and his favourite is arrested in the Louvre-He is conveyed to Vincennes, where he dies—The Queen-mother and Madame take up their abode at Antwerp—Marie de Medicis solicits the protection of the Pope—Her letter is coldly received—She is accused by Richelieu of favouring the Spanish cause—She endeavours to dissuade Louis XIII from a war with Spain, and her arguments are haughtily repulsed—Her envoy is ordered to quit the capital—The Queen-mother once more appeals to the Sovereign-Pontiff, who declines to excite against himself the enmity of the Cardinal-Minister—Louis XIII pursues the war with Spain—Monsieur and the Comte de Soissons enter into a conspiracy to assassinate Richelieu—The Queen-mother joins the faction—The plot is betrayed—Gaston returns to his allegiance—Marie de Medicis induces the Comte de Soissons to enter into a treaty with Spain—The intrigue is discovered by the Cardinal—The Queen-mother once more solicits an asylum in England—Charles I. accedes to her request, and endeavours to effect her reconciliation with the French King—Richelieu determines Louis to reply by a refusal—Monsieur abandons his wife, who becomes dependent for her support upon the Spanish Government—Insignificance of Gaston—The Duchess of Savoy endeavours to effect the recall of her royal mother to France—The three Churchmen—Pregnancy of Anne of Austria—Renewed hopes of the Queen-mother—She is again urged to reside in Tuscany—She proceeds to Holland, and is magnificently received—The Prince of Orange intercedes in her behalf with the French King—Richelieu reiterates his wish that she should retire to Florence—The Dutch request her to leave the country—Marie de Medicis embarks for England—She is received at Gravesend by Charles I.—Takes up her abode in St. James's Palace—Meeting between the two Queens—Precarious position of the English King—The Court of the Queen-mother—The French Ambassador is instructed to abstain from all intercourse with the royal exile—A last appeal—-Obduracy of the Cardinal—Richelieu, his sovereign, and his benefactress.

CHAPTER XIII

1639-42

Charles I. despatches an envoy to Louis XIII to negotiate the recall of the Queen-mother—Richelieu aspires to the regency—The embassy fails-Queen Henrietta resolves to proceed in person to Paris—Her visit is declined by the French King—Charles I. recalls his ambassador from the Court of France—The increasing animosity of the English people against the Queen-mother compels her to seek another retreat—She is requested by Parliament to leave the country—Philip of Spain refuses to afford her an asylum—She proceeds to Holland, and thence to Antwerp—The painter-prince—A voluntary envoy—The last letter—Marie de Medicis is commanded to quit the Low Countries—She takes refuge at Cologne-The last home of fallen royalty—Waning health of Richelieu—His intellectual energy—Trial of the Duc de la Valette—Trial of the Duc de Vendome—Affected magnanimity of the Cardinal—Senatorial sycophancy—Exile of the Duc and Duchesse de Vendome—Execution of M. de Saint-Preuil—Conspiracy against Richelieu—The stolen meetings—The titled beggar—Secret service—Complicity of Cinq-Mars discovered—Execution of Cinq-Mars and De Thou—Cowardice of the Duc d'Orleans—Lingering hopes of Marie de Medicis—Rubens and Richelieu—The abortive mission—Rubens proceeds to Madrid—The Kings of England and Spain withhold all pecuniary aid from the Queen-mother—Despair of Marie de Medicis—Her utter destitution—Death-bed of a crowned head—Tardy honours—Filial affection and priestly piety—The vaults of St. Denis.



BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES

OF

THE THIRD VOLUME

M. de Roissy. Cardinal de Berulle. Pere Joseph. Cardinal de Retz. Marquise de Sable. Marquis de Caumartin. M. de la Vieuville. M. d'Aligre. M. de Marillac. Prince de Chalais. Marechal de Marillac. Duc de Nevers. Marquise de Senecay. Madame de Comballet. M. de Thoiras. Marquis de Spinola. Cardinal Mazarin. Pere Chanteloupe. M. de Puylaurens. Henri II, Duc de Montmorency. Marquis de Breze. Abbe de St. Germain. M. Seguier. Marquis d'Ayetona. M. de Bouthillier. Vicomte de Fabbroni. Don Francisco de Mello. Duc de Saint-Simon. Marquis de Cinq-Mars.



ILLUSTRATIONS

VOL. III

1. LOUIS XIII.........Frontispiece

2. FACSIMILE OF A LETTER TO M. DE BASSOMPIERRE, DICTATED AND SIGNED BY MARIE DE MEDICIS ON HER ESCAPE FROM BLOIS

3. THE CARDINAL DE RICHELIEU

Engraved by Geoffroy from the Original by Philippe de Champagne.

4. FACSIMILE OF AN AUTOGRAPH LETTER OF THE CARDINAL DE RICHELIEU TO M. DE BASSOMPIERRE DURING HIS EMBASSY IN ENGLAND

5. FACSIMILE OF A LETTER TO THE MARECHAL DE BASSOMPIERRE, SIGNED BY LOUIS XIII

6. CARDINAL MAZARIN

Engraved by Hopwood.

7. GEORGE VILLIERS, FIRST DUKE OF BUCKINGHAM

Engraved by W. Greatbach. Painted by G. P. Harding from the Original by C. Jansens, in the Collection of the Earl of Clarendon.

8. MARQUIS DE CINQ-MARS

Engraved by Langlois.



BOOK III

CHAPTER I

1618

De Luynes resolves to compel the Queen-mother to remain at Blois—Treachery of Richelieu—The suspicions of Marie are aroused—Her apprehensions—She demands permission to remove to Monceaux, and is refused—She affects to resign herself to her fate—A royal correspondence—Vanity of the Duc d'Epernon—A Court broil—The Abbe Rucellai offers his services to Marie de Medicis—He attempts to win over the great nobles to her cause—He is compelled to quit the Court, and retires to Sedan—The Duc de Bouillon refuses to join the cabal—The Duc d'Epernon consents to aid the escape of the Queen-mother—The ministers become suspicious of the designs of Richelieu—He is ordered to retire to Coussay, and subsequently to Avignon—Tyranny of M. de Roissy—The Queen-mother resolves to demand a public trial—De Luynes affects to seek a reconciliation with the Prince de Conde—Firmness of the Queen-mother—The three Jesuits—Marie pledges herself not to leave Blois without the sanction of the King—False confidence of De Luynes—The malcontents are brought to trial—Weakness of the ministers—Political executions—Indignation of the people—The Princes resolve to liberate the Queen-mother.

It will be remembered that Marie de Medicis left the capital under a pledge from her son himself that she was at perfect liberty to change her place of abode whenever she should deem it expedient to do so; and that her sojourn at Blois was merely provisional, and intended as a temporary measure, to enable her to establish herself more commodiously in her own castle of Monceaux. Anxious for her absence, De Luynes had induced the King to consent to her wishes; but she had no sooner reached Blois than he determined that she should be compelled to remain there, as he dreaded her influence in a province of which she was the absolute mistress; and, accordingly, she had no sooner arrived in the fortress-palace on the Loire than he began to adopt the necessary measures for her detention. Within a week she was surrounded by spies; a precaution which would appear to have been supererogatory so long as Richelieu remained about her person, as his first care on reaching Blois was to write to the favourite to repeat his offers of service; and he himself informs us that "from time to time he sent him an exact account of the Queen's proceedings;" while so much anxiety did he evince to retain the confidence of the Court party that when Marie, desirous of repaying the sacrifice which she believed him to have made in following her fortunes, appointed him chief of her Council, he refused to accept this office until he had written to obtain the sanction of the King; and publicly declared that he would not occupy any official situation whatever in her service until he ascertained the pleasure of his Majesty.

These servile scruples did not, however, as he himself admits, suffice to set at rest the suspicions of De Luynes, whose knowledge of the Bishop's character by no means tended to inspire him with any confidence in his professions;[1] while the Queen-mother, on her side, had soon cause to apprehend that the motives of Richelieu for his self-banishment were far less honourable than those which she had been so eager to attribute to him. Certain projects which she was anxious to keep profoundly secret became known to the favourite; and her natural distrust, coupled with this fact, induced her to be gradually less communicative to the intriguing prelate. Her spirits, moreover, gave way under the successive mortifications to which she was subjected; and combined with her somewhat tardy but deep regret at the fate of the Marechal d'Ancre were fears for her own safety, which appeared to be daily threatened.

Her residence at Monceaux was soon in readiness for her reception; but when she apprised the King of her intention of removing thither, she received an evasive reply, and was courteously but peremptorily advised to defer her journey. Marie de Medicis from that moment fully comprehended her real position; but with a tact and dissimulation equal to that of Louis himself, she professed the most perfect indifference on the subject, and submitted without any remonstrance to the expressed wish of her son. This resignation to his will flattered the vanity of Louis, and quieted the fears of his favourite; but it by no means deceived the subtle Richelieu, who, aware of the inherent ambition of Marie de Medicis, at once felt convinced that she was preoccupied with some important design, and consequently indisposed to waste her energies upon questions of minor moment. At short intervals she addressed the most submissive letters to the King, assuring him of her devoted attachment to his interests, and her desire to obey his wishes in all things; but these assurances produced no effect upon the mind of Louis, whose ear was perpetually poisoned by the reports which reached him through the creatures of De Luynes, who never failed to attribute to the cabals of the Queen-mother all the Court intrigues, whatever might be their origin or character. Like herself, however, he was profuse in his professions of regard and confidence in her affection for his person and zeal for his interests, at the very time when she could not stir a yard from the fortress, or even walk upon the ramparts, without being accompanied by a number of armed men, denominated by De Luynes, with melancholy facetiousness, a guard of honour. Nevertheless Marie retained the most perfect self-command; but she was fated to undergo a still more bitter trial than she had yet anticipated; for so little real respect did her son evince towards her that he entered into a negotiation for the marriage of his sister the Princesse Christine with the Prince of Piedmont without condescending to consult her wishes upon the subject; thus at once disregarding her privileges as a mother and as a Queen.[2]

Superadded to this mortification was a second little less poignant. As the great nobles whom she had helped to enrich during her period of power resumed their position at Court, she anticipated from day to day that they would espouse her cause, and advocate her recall to the capital; but with the single exception of the Due de Rohan, not one of the Princes had made an effort in her behalf; and the generous interference of the latter had, as she was aware, excited against him the animosity of De Luynes; while, on the contrary, the favourite showed undisguised favour to all who abandoned her cause.

At the close of the year 1617 the Duc de Rohan had proceeded to Savoy, and the Duc de Bouillon to Sedan; but the Ducs de Sully and d'Epernon still remained in the capital, where the latter again displayed as much pomp and pretension as he had done under the Regency; and at the commencement of 1618 he had a serious misunderstanding with Du Vair, the Keeper of the Seals, upon a point of precedence. Irascible and haughty, he resented the fact of that magistrate taking his place on all occasions of public ceremonial immediately after the Chancellor Sillery, and consequently before the dukes and peers; and on Easter Sunday, when the Court attended mass at the Church of St. Germain l'Auxerrois in state, he seized him roughly by the arm, and compelled him to give way. The King, indignant at so ill-timed a burst of passion, hastened to interfere, and spoke sharply to the Duke, who did not condescend to justify himself, but assumed an attitude of defiance, never subsequently leaving his hotel without the attendance of a numerous suite of gentlemen ready to defend him in case of attack; while in addition to this breach of etiquette, M. d'Epernon loudly complained of the bad faith of De Luynes, who had promised, in order to induce his return to Court, to obtain a cardinal's hat for his third son the Archbishop of Toulouse, without, however, having subsequently made a single effort to redeem his pledge. So bitterly, indeed, did he inveigh against the favourite that he began to apprehend the possibility of an arrest; yet still he lingered in the capital, as if unwilling to retreat before an enemy whom he despised.[3]

Among the individuals who had followed the Queen-mother into exile was a certain Abbe Rucellai, a Florentine, who having failed to obtain advancement at the Court of Rome, had passed over to France in the hope of furthering his fortunes in that kingdom. His anticipations appeared for a time likely to be realized, as he was warmly welcomed on his arrival by his countryman Concini; but the assassination of the favourite having blighted all his prospects, he resolved upon revenge, and as a first step offered his services to Marie de Medicis, by whom they were accepted. The Queen-mother had no sooner formed her little Court than the Abbe proceeded to lay the foundations of his plot, which was based upon her return to power, and which he was well aware must involve the ruin of De Luynes; while at the same time he felt satisfied that he should be amply recompensed by Marie herself for his services.[4] No opposition had been made to the self-banishment of Rucellai by the Court party, as he was well known to be in infirm health and of effeminate habits; and to exhibit in every phase of his character the very reverse of a conspirator. He had, moreover, made friends during his residence in Paris; and, through the interest of Zamet, had obtained the Abbey of Signy in Champagne, which, together with his family inheritance, secured to him an annual income of twenty thousand crowns. This revenue he spent in the most liberal manner, and soon became very popular from the suavity and refinement of his manners, and his extreme generosity. An affair of gallantry had, however, involved him in a quarrel with the nephew of the Duc d'Epernon; who, espousing the cause of his relative, in his turn excited the hatred of the Abbe.[5]

Rucellai had been but a short time at Blois before he felt that he could carry out his plans with greater facility in the capital than while subjected to the constant surveillance of the Court spies by whom Marie de Medicis was surrounded; and he accordingly obtained permission to return to Court, De Luynes being easily induced to believe that his application was caused by his weariness of the monotony of Blois, and his desire to participate once more in the gaieties of Paris. The fact, however, was far otherwise. The thirst for vengeance had produced a singular effect upon the Florentine; and although he still affected to enact the sybarite, in order to mislead those whom he sought to ruin, he became suddenly endued with a moral energy as well as a physical strength of which no one had believed him to be possessed. Neither fatigue, danger, nor difficulty sufficed to paralyze his exertions; and if he was one hour at the feet of a Court beauty, he was busied the next in the most subtle and well-devised attempts to win over one or other of the great nobles to the cause of the exiled Queen.[6]

He experienced little difficulty in his undertaking; all the Princes desiring the ruin of De Luynes and the return of the Queen-mother; but when he urged that an endeavour should be made to effect her escape, to secure her safety in a fortified town, and then to take up arms against the favourite, he failed in finding one individual bold enough to venture on so extreme a step, although all were ready to volunteer their support when her flight should have been accomplished. In this extremity Rucellai cast his eyes upon the Duc de Bouillon, whose courage was undoubted, and upon whose spirit of intrigue he calculated with confidence;[7] but in order to win over the Marshal it was necessary that he should communicate with him personally, and he accordingly caused rumours to be spread which excited the apprehensions of the ministers, and totally misled them as to his real designs, while at the same time they induced De Luynes to issue an order for his immediate departure from the capital. The Abbe complied with apparent reluctance; and then lost no time in hastening to Signy, whence he proceeded with all speed to Sedan.[8]

Here, however, contrary to his expectations, he was doomed to disappointment; for while Bouillon expressed the greatest devotion for Marie de Medicis, and asserted his wish for her restoration to power, which he coupled with the remark that "the Court was still the same wine-shop as ever, although they had changed the stamp of their cork," he pleaded his age and his infirmities as a pretext for declining to enter into the conspiracy which was about to be organized for her release; while, at the same time, he suggested that no individual could be found more eligible to secure the success of such an enterprise than M. d'Epernon. "He is both proud and daring," he said in conclusion; "address yourself to him. This is the best advice which I can offer to the Queen-mother." [9]

Of this fact the Abbe was himself persuaded; but two circumstances appeared to present insurmountable obstacles to his success with the haughty Duke. In the first place he had withdrawn from the Court greatly incensed against Marie de Medicis, who had sacrificed his interests to those of the Prince de Conde and the Marechal d'Ancre; and in the next he was the declared enemy of Rucellai himself. The position of the Abbe was perplexing, as he well knew that M. d'Epernon never forgave an injury inflicted upon him by an inferior; but the crisis was one of such importance that the Florentine resolved to make any concession rather than abandon his design. He was aware that, however hostile the Duke might be to himself personally, his hatred of De Luynes far exceeded any feeling of animosity which he could possibly entertain towards a man whom he considered as a mere adventurer; and the ambition of the Abbe determined him to sacrifice his pride to the necessities of the cause in which he laboured. Having therefore decided upon making his own feelings subservient to the success of his enterprise, he returned without hesitation to Paris, but he had still a great difficulty to overcome; as, until the Duke should be made fully aware of the nature of his mission, he could not venture to intrude upon his privacy, although the moment was singularly favourable. M. d'Epernon had incurred the displeasure of the Court by his quarrel with Du Vair, and his open defiance of the favourite; his sons were equally incensed by the disappointment to which the Archbishop of Toulouse had been latterly subjected, and had been as unguarded as himself in their expressions of disgust; but still Rucellai was aware that he must exert the utmost precaution in order not to excite the resentment of the man upon whose co-operation he founded all his hopes of ultimate success; and after having carefully considered the best method of effecting his purpose, he decided upon inducing the Queen-mother to cause a letter to be forwarded to the Archbishop of Toulouse, wherein he was requested to negotiate an interview between his father and the Abbe. The young prelate willingly undertook the task assigned to him; but whether it were that the Duke still resented the conduct of Marie de Medicis, or that he feared to compromise himself still further with the Court, he merely answered with some impatience, "I am about to retire to Metz: I will not listen to any propositions from the Queen until I am in my own government;" a reply which did not, however, tend to discourage the persevering Florentine.

When the details of this attempt were communicated to her Marie hastened to forward to M. d'Epernon a watch superbly ornamented with diamonds, requesting him at the same time to confide to her the nature of his intentions; but he again refused to give any explanations until he should have left the capital.[10]

The journey of the Duke was not long delayed. His position became daily more untenable; and on the 6th of May he quitted Paris, without even venturing to take leave of the King.[11]

Rucellai no sooner learnt that M. d'Epernon had reached Metz than he prepared to follow up the negotiation. He had afforded an asylum at Signy to Vincenzio Ludovici, the secretary of the Marechal d'Ancre, who had been sent to the Bastille at the period of his master's murder, where he had remained until after the execution of Leonora Galigai, when an order was forwarded for his release. This man, who was an able diplomatist, and had great experience in Court intrigue, possessed the entire confidence of his new patron, who hastened to despatch him to the Duc d'Epernon with a letter of recommendation from the Queen-mother, and full instructions for treating with the haughty noble in her name. Ludovici acquitted himself creditably of his mission; and although M. d'Epernon at first replied to his representations by an indignant recapitulation of the several instances of ingratitude which he had experienced from the late Regent, he nevertheless admitted that he still felt a sincere interest in her cause. This concession sufficed to encourage the envoy; and after a time the negotiation was opened. Vincenzio promised, in the name of the Queen, money, troops, and fortresses; and, moreover, such advantageous conditions that the Duke finally consented to return a decisive answer after he should have had time to consider the proposals which had been made to him.[12]

Had M. d'Epernon followed the advice of his sons, the Marquis de la Valette and the Archbishop of Toulouse, the enterprise might at once have been accomplished. His vanity was flattered by the consciousness that his services were not only essential but even indispensable to the Queen-mother; but he had outlived the age of enthusiasm, and past experience had made him cautious. He therefore declined giving any definitive answer until he had ascertained who were the great nobles pledged to the faction of the Queen-mother, and the amount of money which she was prepared to disburse for the expenses of a civil war.

The agent of Rucellai was ready with his reply. He informed the Duke that the House of Guise, M. de Montmorency, the Marechal de Bouillon, and several others were prepared to join him so soon as he should have declared openly in her favour; while Marie de Medicis was prepared to advance considerable sums whenever they should be required.

Upon receiving this assurance M. d'Epernon hesitated no longer. He had utterly forfeited his position at Court, while he had reason to apprehend that De Luynes contemplated the confiscation of all his offices under the Crown, and the seizure of his numerous governments; a circumstance which determined him openly to brave the displeasure of the King, and to espouse the interests of his mother.[13]

Throughout the whole of this negotiation Ludovici had been careful not to betray to the Duke the fact that Rucellai had organized the faction of which he was about to become the leader; but he had no sooner pledged himself to the cause than it became necessary to inform him of the circumstance. His anger and indignation were for a time unbounded; he was, however, ultimately induced to consent to an interview with the Abbe, who on his arrival at Metz soon succeeded in overcoming the prejudices of the offended noble, and in effecting his reconciliation with the Marechal de Bouillon. A common interest induced both to bury past injuries in oblivion; and it was not long ere the Florentine was enabled to communicate to Marie de Medicis the cheering intelligence that the Cardinal de Guise, M. de Bouillon, and the Duc d'Epernon had agreed to levy an army of twelve thousand infantry and three thousand horse in the province of Champagne, in order to create a diversion in case the King should march troops towards Angouleme, whither it was resolved that she should be finally conveyed after her escape from Blois; as well as to defend the Marquis de la Valette if an endeavour were made to drive him out of Metz, while his father was absent with the Queen-mother.

On receiving this intelligence Marie forwarded to Rucellai the sum of two hundred thousand crowns, of which he transferred a portion to the Cardinal de Guise and the Marechal de Bouillon; and every precaution was taken to ensure the success of the enterprise.[14]

Despite all the caution which had been observed, however, these transactions had not taken place without exciting the attention and suspicions of the Court; and notwithstanding all his anxiety to secure the confidence and goodwill of the favourite, Richelieu had been one of the first to feel the effects of the hatred conceived against those who under any pretext adhered to the interests of the Queen-mother. It is true that on leaving Paris he had pledged himself to watch all her proceedings, and immediately to report every equivocal circumstance which might fall under his observation, but his antecedents were notorious, and no faith was placed in his promise. De Luynes and the ministers were alike distrustful of his sincerity; and only a few weeks after his arrival at Blois an order reached him by which he was directed to retire forthwith to his priory at Coussay near Mirabeau, and to remain there until he should receive further instructions. In vain did Marie de Medicis—who, whatever might be her misgivings as to his good faith, was nevertheless acutely conscious of the value of Richelieu's adhesion—entreat of the King to permit his return to Blois; her request was denied, and the Bishop had no alternative save obedience; nor was it long ere De Luynes induced Louis to banish him to Avignon.[15]

The annoyance of the Queen-mother upon this occasion was increased by the fact that Richelieu was replaced at her little Court by M. de Roissy,[16] who was peculiarly obnoxious to her. Her representations to this effect were, however, disregarded; and she was compelled to receive him into her household. If the statement of his predecessor be a correct one, the unfortunate Marie had only too much cause to deprecate his admission to her circle, as thenceforward her captivity became more rigorous than ever, no person being permitted to approach her without his sanction; while her favourite attendants were dismissed by his orders (among others Caterina Selvaggio, who had accompanied her from Florence and to whom she was much attached), and replaced by others who were devoted to the interests of De Luynes.[17] It is, however, difficult to believe that this account was not exaggerated, from the extremely bitter spirit evinced by the writer; who probably endeavoured to minimize in so far as he was able his own false behaviour towards his royal mistress and benefactor, by an overwrought account of the increased insults to which she was subjected after his departure.

This much is nevertheless certain, that the unfortunate Queen was treated with a severity and disrespect which determined her to proceed to any extremity rather than submit to a continuance of such unmitigated mortification. Indignant at the prolonged imprisonment of Barbin, and the harsh treatment endured by the few who still adhered to her cause, she at length openly resisted the tyranny of her gaolers; upon which De Luynes, perceiving that the mission of De Roissy had failed, despatched the Marechal d'Ornano to Blois, with express orders to leave untried no means of intimidating her into submission; a task which he performed with such extreme rudeness, that in the course of the interview he so far forgot himself as to menace her with his hand, and to tell her that should she undertake anything inimical to the interests of the favourite, she should be exhausted "until she was as dry as wood." [18] This insult, however, only tended to arouse the proud spirit of the outraged Princess, who indignantly exclaimed: "I am weary of being daily accused of some new crime. This state of things must be put an end to; and it shall be so, even if I am compelled, like a mere private individual, to submit myself to the judgment of the Parliament of Paris." [19]

The new attitude thus assumed by the Queen-mother alarmed De Luynes, whose increasing unpopularity induced him to fear that the Princes, who did not seek to disguise their disgust at his unbridled arrogance, would be easily persuaded to espouse her cause. He therefore endeavoured to excite her apprehensions by affecting to accomplish a reconciliation with M. de Conde, for which purpose he repeatedly despatched Deageant to Vincennes in order that she might suppose the negotiation to have commenced; but all these artifices failed to shake the resolution of Marie de Medicis.

This display of firmness augmented the dismay of De Luynes and the ministers, who then conjointly endeavoured to compel her to ask the royal permission to retire to Florence; for which purpose they treated her with greater rigour than before. Several troops of cavalry were garrisoned in the immediate environs of Blois; she was not permitted to leave the fortress; and orders were given that she should not, under any pretext, be allowed to receive visitors without the previous sanction of the favourite.[20] Still the spirit of Marie remained unbroken; and it was ascertained that, despite all precautions, she pursued her purpose with untiring perseverance. It thus became necessary to adopt other measures. Cadenet, the brother of De Luynes, was accordingly instructed to proceed to her prison, and to inform her that the King was about to visit her, in order to make arrangements for her liberation; but the Queen had been already apprised of his intended arrival, as well as of the motive of his journey, and the fallacy of the promises which he had been directed to hold out; and consequently, after coldly expressing her sense of the intended clemency, and the gratification which she should derive from the presence of her son, she dismissed the messenger as calmly and as haughtily as though she had still been Regent of the kingdom.

De Luynes and his adherents felt that hitherto nothing had been gained; and they next determined to enlist the services of her confessor, the Jesuit Suffren, who had, as they were aware, great influence over her mind. Suffren declared himself ready to do all in his power to meet the wishes of the King and his ministers, and to induce his royal penitent to submit patiently to her captivity, should he be convinced that in so acting he was fulfilling his duty towards both parties; and for the purpose of a thorough understanding on this point, he suggested that an accredited person should be named with whom he might enter into a negotiation. De Luynes immediately appointed for this office another Jesuit called Seguerand, and the two ecclesiastics accordingly met to discuss the terms upon which Suffren was to offer the desired advice to the Queen-mother; but he had no sooner ascertained that an unqualified concession was demanded on her part without any reciprocal pledge upon that of her enemies, than he conscientiously declined to give her any such counsel, and the parties separated without coming to an understanding.

This failure no sooner reached the ears of Arnoux, the King's confessor, than he volunteered to renew the negotiation, under the impression that he should be more successful than his colleague; an offer which was eagerly accepted by De Luynes, who procured for him an autograph letter from Louis XIII, which he was instructed to deliver personally into the hands of Marie. In this letter the King stated that having been informed of the wish of the Queen-mother to make a pilgrimage to some holy places, he hastened to express his gratification at the intelligence; and to assure her that he should rejoice to learn that she took more exercise than she had lately done for the benefit of her health, which was to him a subject of great interest; adding, moreover, that should circumstances permit, he would willingly bear her company; but that, in any case, he would not fail to do so in writing, as he desired that wherever she went she should be received, respected, and honoured like himself.

Habituated as she was to these wordy and equivocal communications, the Queen-mother, aware that her every word and gesture would be closely scrutinized by the reverend envoy, concealed her indignation, and affected to experience unalloyed gratification from this display of affection on the part of her son; a circumstance of which Arnoux availed himself to impress upon her mind the certainty of an approaching and complete reconciliation with the King, provided she should express her willingness to comply with his pleasure in all things, and pledge herself not to form any cabal against his authority, or to make any attempt to leave Blois until he should sanction her departure; and it would, moreover, appear that the Jesuit was eloquent, as he ultimately succeeded in overcoming the distrust of his listener. If Suffren, who had become weary of the monotony of Blois, and of the insignificance to which his royal penitent was reduced by her enforced exile, was desirous to see her once more resume her position at Court, Arnoux was no less anxious on his part to secure her continued absence, as he apprehended that her return to the capital would involve his own dismissal, from the fact of his having owed his appointment to De Luynes; while whatever may have been the arguments which he advanced, under cover of a sincere and earnest wish to see the mother and the son once more united by those natural bonds which had been for some time riven asunder, it is certain that he finally effected his object, and induced the unfortunate Princess to give full credence to his assurances of attachment towards herself, and his pious wish to accomplish a reconciliation which was the ardent desire of her own heart; and accordingly, before the termination of the interview, Marie de Medicis pledged herself to all that he required.

"I do not, Madame," said the subtle Jesuit, on receiving this assurance, "doubt for a single instant the sincerity of your Majesty; but others may prove less confiding than myself. I would therefore respectfully urge you to furnish me with some document which will bear testimony to the success of my mission, and demonstrate the excellent decision at which you have arrived. Do this, and I will guarantee that you shall obtain from the King your son all that you may desire."

Marie yielded; and her insidious adviser lost no time in drawing up an act by which the imprudent Queen bound herself by a solemn oath to submit in all things to the will and pleasure of the sovereign; to hold no intelligence with any individual either within or without the kingdom contrary to his interests; to denounce all those who were adverse to his authority; to assist in their punishment; and finally, to remain tranquilly at Blois till such time as Louis should see fit to recall her to the capital. She was, moreover, induced to consent to the publication of this document; and thus armed the astute Jesuit returned to Court, where he received the acknowledgments of De Luynes, coupled with renewed promises of favour and support.[21]

Aware of the deep devotional feelings of the Queen-mother, De Luynes never for an instant apprehended that she would be induced to infringe an oath by which she had invoked "God and the holy angels";[22] and he consequently regarded her captivity as perpetual; but he forgot, when arriving at this conclusion, that although he had, through the medium of one Jesuit, succeeded in persuading her to consent to her own ruin, there still remained about her person a second, whose individual interests were involved with her own, and who would, in all probability, prove equally unscrupulous. Such was, in fact, the case; Suffren, to whose empire over the mind of Marie we have already alluded, did not hesitate (when as days and weeks passed away, and no effort was made towards her release, she began to evince symptoms of impatience, and of regret at the act into which she had been betrayed) to assure her that an extorted oath, however solemn, was not valid; and to impress upon her that she was not justified before her Maker in depriving herself of that liberty of action which had been His gift; a pious sophism which could not but prove palatable to his persecuted mistress. Together with this consoling conviction, she soon perceived, moreover, that she had at least derived one benefit from her imprudence, as the Court party, confiding in her word, made no attempt to prevent the realization of the design which she had affected of a devotional pilgrimage; and which was sanctioned by the letter of the King.

Anxious, however, to destroy any latent hope in which she might still indulge of a return to power, De Luynes resolved to effect the ruin of all who had evinced any anxiety for her restoration; and there was suddenly a commission given to the Council, "to bring to trial the authors of the cabals and factions, having for their object the recall of the Queen-mother, the deliverance of the Prince de Conde, and the overthrow of the State." The first victims of this sweeping accusation were the Baron de Persan, the brother-in-law of De Vitry, and De Bournonville his brother, who were entrusted with the safe keeping of Barbin in the Bastille, and by whom he had been indirectly permitted to maintain a correspondence with his exiled mistress; together with the brothers Siti, of Florence, and Durand, the composer of the King's ballets. The result of the trial proved the virulence of the prosecutors, but at the same time revealed their actual weakness, as they feared to execute the sentence pronounced against the three principal offenders; and were compelled to satiate their vengeance upon the more insignificant and less guilty of the accused parties.

M. de Persan was simply exiled from the Court; De Bournonville was sentenced to death, but not executed; while Barbin only escaped the scaffold by a single vote, and was condemned to banishment; a sentence which the King subsequently aggravated by changing it to perpetual imprisonment. The three pamphleteers, for such were in reality the brothers Siti and Marie Durand, whose only crime appeared to have been that they had written a diatribe against De Luynes,[23] did not, however, escape so easily, as the two former were broken on the wheel and burned in the Place de Greve, while the third was hanged.

Such a wholesale execution upon so slight a pretext aroused the indignation of the citizens, and excited the murmurs of the people, who could not brook that the person of an ennobled adventurer should thus be held sacred, while the widow of Henry the Great was exposed to the insults of every time-serving courtier. Nor were the nobles less disgusted with this display of heartless vanity and measureless pretension. The Ducs de Rohan and de Montbazon, despite their family connexion with the arrogant favourite, had already openly endeavoured to effect a reconciliation between Louis and the Queen-mother; and the other disaffected Princes no sooner witnessed the effect produced upon the populace by the cruel tyranny of De Luynes, than they resolved to profit by this manifestation, and to lose no time in attempting the deliverance of the royal prisoner.

Instant measures were taken for this purpose; and meanwhile the favourite, lulled into false security, was wholly unconscious of this new conspiracy, believing that by his late deed of blood he had awed all his adversaries into submission.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Richelieu, Hist. de la Mere et du Fils, vol. i. pp. 248, 249.

[2] Sismondi, vol. xxii. p. 434.

[3] Mezeray, vol. xi. p. 148. Le Vassor, vol ii. p. 7. Rohan, Mem. p. 153. Bassompierre, Mem. pp. 127, 128. Brienne, Mem. vol. i. pp. 334, 335.

[4] Vie du Duc d'Epernon, book vii.

[5] Siri, Mem. Rec. vol. iv. p. 567.

[6] Bassompierre, Mem. p. 128.

[7] Rohan, Mem. book i. Vie du Duc d'Epernon, book vii.

[8] Bassompierre, Mem. p. 129.

[9] Le Vassor, vol. ii. p. 36. Richelieu, Hist, de la Mere et du Fils, vol. i. p. 324. Mezeray, vol. xi. pp. 159, 160. Sismondi, vol. xxii. p. 450.

[10] Le Vassor, vol. ii, pp. 37, 38.

[11] Mezeray, vol. xi. p. 148.

[12] Relation du Cardinal de la Valette. Vie du Due d'Epernon, book vii. Le Vassor, vol. ii. pp. 38, 39. Mezeray, vol. xi. pp. 148, 149. Richelieu, Mem. book ix. p. 490.

[13] Le Vassor, vol. ii. pp. 39, 40. Mezeray, vol. xi. pp. 149, 150.

[14] Mezeray, vol. xi. pp. 161, 162. Le Vassor, vol. ii. p. 41.

[15] Le Vassor vol. i. p. 736. Richelieu, Hist. de la Mere et du Fils, vol. i. pp. 252-293.

[16] Jean Jacques de Mesmes, Seigneur de Roissy, was the descendant of an ancient and illustrious family, which had produced several eminent men. He was a pupil of the learned Passerat, who resided for thirty years in his father's house. He died in 1642, senior Councillor of State.

[17] Richelieu, Hist. de la Mere et du Fils, vol. i. p. 261.

[18] Brienne, Mem. vol. i. p. 337.

[19] Deageant, Mem. pp. 129-131.

[20] Siri, Mem. Rec. vol. iv. pp. 555, 556. Lumieres pour l'Hist. de France dans les Defenses de la Reine-mere.

[21] Siri, Mem. Rec. vol. iv. pp. 557-561. Mezeray, vol. xi. pp. 168-170.

[22] Mezeray, vol. xi. p. 169.

[23] Fontenay-Mareuil, Mem. p. 418.



CHAPTER II

1619

The Duc d'Epernon leaves Metz—A traitor—A minister at fault—The Duc de Bellegarde offers an asylum to the Queen-mother—Marie de Medicis escapes from Blois—She is conducted by M. d'Epernon to Angouleme—Gaieties of the capital—Marriages of the Princesse Christine and Mademoiselle de Vendome—Louis XIII is apprised of the escape of the Queen—Alarm of the King—Advice of De Luynes—The Council resolve to despatch a body of troops under M. de Mayenne to remove Marie de Medicis from the keeping of the Due d'Epernon—Discontent of the citizens—Louis XIII enters into a negotiation with his mother—She rejects his conditions—Richelieu offers himself as a mediator, and is accepted—The royal forces march on Angouleme—Marie prepares for resistance—The Princes withdraw from her cause—Schomberg proposes to blow up the powder-magazine at Angouleme—Critical position of the Queen-mother—She appeals to the Protestants, but is repulsed—Schomberg takes up arms against the Due d'Epernon—Alarm of Marie de Medicis—Richelieu proceeds to Angouleme—He regains the confidence of the Queen—Successful intrigue of Richelieu—Marie is deserted by several of her friends—A treaty of peace is concluded between the King and his mother—The envoy of Marie incurs the displeasure of Louis XIII—The malcontents rally round the Queen-mother—The Princes of Piedmont visit Marie at Angouleme—Their reception—Magnificence of the Due d'Epernon—The Queen-mother refuses to quit Angouleme—Ambition of Richelieu—Weakness of Marie de Medicis—Father Joseph endeavours to induce the Queen-mother to return to the Court—She is encouraged in her refusal by Richelieu—The rival Queens—Marie leaves Angouleme—Her parting with the Due d'Epernon—She is received at Poitiers by the Cardinal de Retz and the Due de Luynes—The Prince de Conde offers the hand of his sister Eleonore de Bourbon to the brother of De Luynes as the price of his liberation—-The sword of the Prince is restored to him—Duplicity of the favourite—Marie resolves to return to Angouleme, but is dissuaded by her friends—The Duc de Mayenne espouses the cause of the Queen-mother—A royal meeting—Return of the Court to Tours—Marie proceeds to Chinon, and thence to Angers—The Protestants welcome the Queen-mother to Anjou—Alarm of De Luynes—Liberation of the Prince de Conde—Indignation of Marie de Medicis—Policy of Richelieu—De Luynes solicits the return of the Queen-mother to the capital—She refuses to comply—De Luynes is made Governor of Picardy—His brothers are ennobled.

The Duc d'Epernon, to whom had been confided the important task of effecting the escape of the Queen-mother from her fortress-prison, had discussed all the necessary measures with the Abbe Rucellai, who had, as we have stated, acquired his entire confidence; and his first step was to request permission of the King to leave Metz (where he had been ordered to remain for the purpose of watching the movements in Germany), and to proceed to Angouleme. But as he was aware that this permission would be refused, he did not await a reply, and commenced his journey on the 22nd of January (1619), accompanied by a hundred gentlemen well armed, forty guards, and his personal attendants; taking with him the sum of eight thousand pistoles together with the whole of his jewels. In consequence of the amount of his baggage he was not enabled to travel more than ten leagues each day; but as no impediment presented itself, he arrived safely at Confolens in Poitou, where he was joined by his son the Archbishop of Toulouse, who was awaiting him in that city with the principal nobles of his several governments.[24]

Meanwhile Rucellai had entrusted one of his lackeys with letters for the Queen-mother, in which he informed her of the day of the Duke's intended departure from Metz; but this man, convinced by the earnest manner in which his master enjoined him to take the greatest precautions in the delivery of his despatches, that the packet in his possession was one of importance, instead of proceeding to Blois, hastened to the capital, and offered to some of the followers of De Luynes to put a secret into the possession of their master, provided he were well recompensed for his treachery. The favourite was duly informed of the circumstance, but prosperity had rendered him incautious, and he neglected to avail himself of the intelligence; suffering several days to elapse before he made any inquiry as to the nature of the communication which had thus been volunteered. Fortunately for the Queen-mother, one of her own adherents was less dilatory; and having ascertained that the confidential lackey of Rucellai had arrived in Paris, he caused him to be found, and took possession of the letters before they could be transferred to the hands of her enemy. As, however, he in his turn delayed to forward them to Marie de Medicis, she became alarmed by the silence of the Duc d'Epernon, and believed that her friends had abandoned her to her fate; a conviction which reduced her to despair. Her hopes had latterly been excited; the representations and arguments of Suffren, seconded by her own desires, had quieted the scruples of her conscience; and this new check was bitter in the extreme. A thousand fears assailed her; treachery and hatred enveloped her on all sides; and superadded to her own ruin, she was forced to contemplate that of all who had adhered to her fallen fortunes; when, precisely as she was about to abandon all hope, Du Plessis, the confidant of M. d'Epernon, arrived at Blois with the welcome intelligence that the Duke was awaiting her at Loches, very uneasy on his side at the non-receipt of her reply to his letters.

The appearance of the messenger quieted the apprehensions of Marie, but she still remained in a position of considerable perplexity from the fact that all her most devoted adherents were absent negotiating with the great nobles on her behalf, having found their mission one of far greater difficulty than the profuse professions of the latter had led her to anticipate. The Duc de Bellegarde, her relative, had written to dissuade her from placing herself in the hands of a noble whose arrogance could not fail to disgust those who desired to serve her. "As for myself, Madame," he concluded, "I am quite ready to receive your Majesty in my government of Burgundy, but I cannot offer my services in any part of the kingdom which is subject to the authority of M. d'Epernon." Such an assurance alarmed the Queen-mother, who had great reason to fear that the same objection would be even more stringently urged by others less interested in her safety; but she had now gone too far to recede. The Duke had already incurred the risk of the King's displeasure by leaving Metz without the royal permission; he was at that moment anticipating her arrival at Loches, whence he was to conduct her to the chateau of Angouleme; and finally, she felt all the force of the arguments of Du Plessis, who reminded her that every moment was precious, as from hour to hour the enterprise might become known to the favourite, and consequently rendered abortive.[25]

Hasty preparations were made; and during the night of the 21st of February she escaped by a ladder from the window of her closet, attended only by the Comte de Brienne, a single waiting-woman, and two individuals of her household. It was not, however, without considerable difficulty that she accomplished this portion of her undertaking, as at the last moment it was discovered that, from her great bulk, the casement would scarcely admit the passage of her person. Despair nevertheless made her desperate; and after several painful efforts she succeeded in forcing herself through the aperture; but her nerves were so much shaken by this unlucky circumstance, that when she had reached the platform, whence a second ladder was to conduct her to the ditch of the fortress, she declared her utter inability to descend it; and she was ultimately folded in a thick cloak, and cautiously lowered down by the joint exertions of her attendants. The Comte de Brienne and M. du Plessis then supported her to the carriage which was in waiting at the bridge; and Marie de Medicis found herself a fugitive in her son's kingdom, surrounded only by half a dozen individuals, and possessed of no other resources than her jewels.

The fugitives travelled at a rapid pace until they reached Montrichard, where the Archbishop of Toulouse, the Abbe Rucellai, and several other persons of note had assembled to offer their congratulations to the Queen. Relays of horses were also awaiting her; and after a brief halt the journey was resumed. At a short distance from Loches she was met by the Duc d'Epernon at the head of a hundred and fifty horsemen; hurried greetings were exchanged, and without further delay the whole party entered the town; where the first act of Marie de Medicis, after she had offered her acknowledgments to her liberators, was to address a letter to the King, wherein she set forth her reasons for leaving Blois without his permission, in terms as submissive as though he had not broken his faith towards herself; coupled with assurances of her affection for his person, and her zeal for his welfare.

Nothing, perhaps, is more painfully striking than the mutual deception practised by mother and son throughout the whole correspondence consequent on their separation. The abuse of terms was so open and so palpable, and the covert rancour so easily perceptible in both, that it is impossible to suppress a feeling of disgust as the eye rests upon the elaborately-rounded periods and hollow professions with which their several letters abound.

Marie remained two days at Loches, in order to await those of her attendants who were to rejoin her upon the instant; and then proceeded, still under the escort of the Duc d'Epernon, to Angouleme; where she was shortly afterwards joined by several disaffected nobles who had retired from the Court, unable to brook the authority of the favourite; while, anxious to retain the confidence of those who were personally attached to her, although they had declined to join her faction, she despatched a confidential messenger to the capital with numerous letters, and among others one to the Marechal de Bassompierre, in which she explained the motives of her flight.

Paris had, meanwhile, been a scene of constant festivity. The dissipations of the Carnival, and the Fair of St. Germain, had occupied the time and thoughts of the whole Court; while the Louvre had put forth all its magnificence in honour of the nuptials of the Princesse Christine and the Prince de Piedmont; as well as those of Mademoiselle de Vendome, the natural sister of the King, and the Duc d'Elboeuf. Ballets, balls, and banquets were given by all the great nobles; fireworks and illuminations amused the populace; and finally, the young sovereign became so thoroughly weary of the tumult about him that he retired to St. Germain-en-Laye, in order to escape from it, and to obtain the rest which he was not, however, destined to find even there; for he had no sooner arrived than he was followed by a courier charged with despatches announcing the escape of the Queen-mother.

Alarmed by the intelligence, Louis immediately returned to the capital and summoned his Council, before whom he laid the letter written by Marie at Loches, and a second also addressed to himself by M. d'Epernon, in which, with consummate sophistry, the Duke endeavoured to justify his share in her flight. Nor was De Luynes less terrified than his royal master by this sudden transition of affairs; and he consequently laboured to impress upon the King and his ministers the absolute necessity of refusing to hold any intercourse with the Queen-mother until Louis should be in a position to compel her obedience to his will, and to reduce the insurgent nobles who had openly declared in her favour to complete submission. The letters which were laid before the Council containing, moreover, a demand for the reform of the government, every individual holding office under the Crown had a personal interest in supporting this advice; and it was consequently resolved that Louis should affect to believe that his mother had been forcibly removed from Blois by the Duc d'Epernon, and that a large body of troops should be forthwith assembled for her deliverance, under the command of the Duc de Mayenne, from whom it was known that she had parted on bad terms.[26] So extreme a resolution no sooner became known, however, than it created general dissatisfaction. The unnatural spectacle of a son in arms against his mother inspired all right-minded people with horror; and when the King a few days subsequently proceeded to the Parliament to verify some financial edicts (the enormous recent outlay of the Court having exhausted the royal treasury) he was coldly received, and instead of the loyal acclamations with which he had hitherto been greeted, he heard on all sides murmured expressions of discontent and impatience. These manifestations of popular disaffection alarmed the ministers, and a new council was held, at which it was determined that before proceeding to the ultima ratio regum a negotiation should be attempted with the emancipated Princess; and for this purpose the Comte de Bethune and the Abbe Berulle[27] were despatched to Marie de Medicis with full powers to conclude a treaty between herself and the King.

The first suggestion offered to the Queen-mother by the royal envoys was her abandonment of M. d'Epernon; but she indignantly refused to adopt so treacherous a line of policy, declaring that she would listen to no compromise which involved a disavowal of her obligations to one whom she justly considered as her liberator. "Moreover, Messieurs," she said proudly, "even were I capable of such an act of treachery, I am unable so to misrepresent the conduct of the gallant Duke, who holds in his possession not only the letter of the King, wherein he gives me full authority to leave Blois, and to proceed whithersoever I may see fit in the interest of my health, but also one which I myself addressed to him from Blois entreating his assistance in my escape from that fortress, and his escort to Angouleme. I request, therefore, that as loyal gentlemen you will refrain from accusing M. d'Epernon of an act of violence which the respect due to the mother of his sovereign would have rendered impossible on his part. I am here because I was weary of the constraint and insult of which I had been so long the victim; and I am ready to accept the whole responsibility of the step which I have seen fit to take."

As the determined attitude of the Queen-mother rendered all further discussion upon this point at once idle and impolitic, De Luynes resolved to induce her to come to terms with the King without any allusion to M. d'Epernon; and for this purpose the Archbishop of Sens was directed to act in concert with the two original envoys, and to endeavour to convince her that a prolonged opposition to the will of the sovereign could only terminate in her own destruction. Still, however, Marie remained firm, rejecting the conditions which were proposed to her as unworthy alike of her rank and of the position she had hitherto held in the kingdom; and the month of March went by without the attainment of any result. De Luynes, irritated by a pertinacity which threatened his tenure of authority, renewed his entreaties for the formation of a strong army with which he could secure the overthrow of the Due d'Epernon; and at the same time he suggested to Louis the recall of the Bishop of Lucon, who had once more offered his services as a negotiator between the contending parties.

The young King, who saw only through the eyes of his favourite, was induced to comply with both proposals; and Marie de Medicis no sooner ascertained that the royal troops were about to march upon Angouleme, than she made preparations for defence. In order to do this more effectually she addressed autograph letters to the Ducs de Mayenne and de Rohan, to the Marechal de Lesdiguieres, and to several other great nobles, soliciting their support in the impending struggle; but with the sole exception of M. de Rohan, they all returned cold and negative replies, informing her that the duty which they owed to the King would not permit them to comply with her request; after which they forwarded her letters to the Court, together with the answers which they had made, thus purchasing their safety at the expense of their honour. The Due de Rohan, on receiving her application, also declined to assist her, it is true; but he did so loyally and respectfully, assuring her Majesty that he greatly regretted she should so long have delayed requesting his co-operation, as he would have served her zealously and faithfully, whereas he was now no longer in a position to espouse her interests, the King having commanded him to remain in his government of Poitou in order to maintain peace in that province, a duty which his honour consequently enforced upon him; but declaring at the same time that even while obeying the commands of her son, he would not undertake anything inimical to her own interests, and entreating her to effect an understanding with the sovereign in order to avert the evils of a civil war, and to ensure to herself the liberty and safety which could alone enable her to rally about her person all those who were sincerely desirous of serving her.

Although touched by the manliness and dignity of this reply, the Queen-mother bitterly felt the loss of such an ally; nor were her disappointment and mortification lessened when she discovered that the Marechal de Schomberg, anxious to convince Louis of the extent of his zeal, and so to possess himself of the royal favour, had formed the design of blowing up the powder-magazine of Angouleme, and thus terminating the negotiation by a coup de main of which she and her adherents were destined to be the victims. The project was indeed discovered and defeated, but the impression which it left upon her mind was one of gloom and discouragement.[28]

We have already seen that the Due de Mayenne had protested to Rucellai his attachment to the cause and person of Marie; yet he did not hesitate to accept the command of the army which was organized against her, and to march upon the province of Angoumois at the head of twelve thousand men. The position of the Queen—mother was critical. She issued continual commissions for the levy of troops, but she was unable to furnish the necessary funds for their support, and in this difficulty she resolved to appeal to the Protestants who were at that time holding their General Assembly at La Rochelle. She was aware that they were inimical to De Luynes, and she trusted that they might consequently be induced to join her own faction. Once more, however, she was doomed to disappointment. They were dissuaded from such a project by Du Plessis;[29] and M. d'Epernon, after the most strenuous efforts, could not succeed in raising more than six thousand foot and one thousand horse with which to make head against the royal army.

Moreover, Schomberg, Lieutenant of the King in Limousin under M. d'Epernon, who was the governor of the province, declared against him, and took the town of Uzerche which was feebly garrisoned,[30] while the Duke was engaged in checking the advance of Mayenne; nor was it long ere intelligence arrived at Angouleme that Boulogne-sur-Mer had opened its gates to the royal forces, and thus revolted against the authority of Epernon, who was also governor of Picardy.[31]

These disasters were a source of great anxiety to Marie de Medicis, who began to apprehend that should the Duke be in like manner despoiled of his other fortified cities he would no longer be in a position to afford her any protection; but fortunately De Luynes had also taken alarm. The citizens made no attempt to conceal their dissatisfaction, the populace openly murmured in the streets, and the favourite had not yet had time to forget the popular vengeance which had been wreaked upon the wretched Concini; no wonder therefore that he trembled for himself. Richelieu had been, as already stated, recalled from his exile at Avignon, and the moment was now arrived in which his services were essential to De Luynes, by whom he was forthwith despatched to Angouleme, on the understanding that the King had perfect confidence in his fidelity, and placed implicit reliance on his desire to prove his affection to his person. The astute prelate required no further explanation as to what was required of him; he was aware that his compulsory absence had caused his services to be more than ever coveted by the Queen-mother, and he lost no time in setting forth upon his treacherous errand, furnished with a letter to Marie, below which Louis wrote with his own hand: "I beg you to believe that this document explains my will, and that you cannot afford me greater pleasure than by conforming to it."

The effect of Richelieu's presence at the Court of the Queen-mother soon became apparent. He had so thoroughly possessed himself of her confidence that she suffered him to penetrate even to the inmost recesses of her heart; and great and dignified as she could be under excitement, we have already shown that Marie de Medicis never had sufficient strength of character to rely on herself for any lengthened period. Exhausted by the violence of the sudden emotions to which she was often a prey, all her energy deserted her after the impulse had passed away, and she gladly clung to the extraneous support of those who professed to espouse her interests. Richelieu had studied her temperament, and understood it. Before he had been many days at Angouleme the Duc d'Epernon and his son became aware that they no longer possessed the same influence as heretofore, while the Abbe Rucellai, indignant at the coldness with which his advice was received and his services were requited, withdrew in disgust, accompanied by several of her most attached servants; among others the Marquis de Themines, who, shortly afterwards, irritated by a reverse of fortune which he had not foreseen, sought a pretext of quarrel with Henri de Richelieu, the elder brother of the Bishop of Lucon, whom he challenged and left dead upon the field. Thus the unhappy Queen now lay wholly at the mercy of her insidious counsellor; while he, on his part, acted with so subtle a policy that his services were alike essential to both parties, and he saw himself in a position to profit by the projected reconciliation, in whatever manner it might be ultimately accomplished.

Meanwhile the Archbishop of Sens, the Comte de Bethune, and the Abbe de Berulle, in conjunction and with the assistance of Richelieu, were still proceeding with the negotiation; and, finally, the King, anxious to terminate the affair, gave a commission to the Cardinal de la Rochefoucauld to conclude the treaty. The conditions were easily agreed upon, as Marie was enslaved by the influence of Richelieu, and disheartened by the lukewarmness of her former friends, while Louis was weary of a contention which made him hateful in the eyes of all Europe, and which fettered his movements without adding to his renown.

On the 30th of April the necessary documents were accordingly signed, and by these the Queen-mother was authorized to constitute her household as she should deem fitting, to reside wherever she thought proper, and to preserve all her revenues intact; while, in consideration of these privileges, she consented to exchange her government of Normandy for that of Anjou. She was, moreover, to receive six hundred thousand livres for the liquidation of her debts; and M. d'Epernon fifty thousand crowns to indemnify him for the loss of the town of Boulogne, and with his adherents to be declared exonerated from all blame, and permitted to retain possession of their offices under the Crown; and, finally, to the demand made by the Queen-mother that she should be placed in possession of the city and castle of Amboise, or, failing that, of those of Nantes, the Abbe de Berulle was authorized to inform her on the part of the King that "in addition to the government of Anjou, the town and fortress of Angers, and the Ponts de Ce, he was willing to give her, in lieu of what she asked, the city and castle of Tours, together with four hundred men for the protection of those places, a company of gendarmes, and a troop of light-horse, in addition to her bodyguards; the whole to be maintained at his own expense." [32]

This treaty was no sooner completed than Marie de Medicis wrote to her son to express the joy which she experienced at their reconciliation; and she entrusted her letter to the Comte de Brienne, with instructions to deliver it into the hands of the King, who had removed with his Court to Tours, ostensibly for the purpose of a more speedy meeting with the Queen-mother. The result proved, however, that Marie could not have selected a worse messenger, as De Brienne, who was young and arrogant, soon gave offence both to Louis and his favourite. Having declared that he would not, under any circumstances, show the most simple courtesy to De Luynes, he did not remove his hat when he met him in the royal ante-room; a want of respect which excited the displeasure of the monarch, who was easily led to believe that he had been instructed by his mistress to affect this contempt towards an individual with whom he himself condescended to live on the most familiar terms; and, consequently, when De Brienne next presented himself to receive the reply of his Majesty to his despatches, he was desired not to thrust himself into the presence of the King, who would select an envoy less wanting in reverence to his sovereign when he should deem it advisable to forward his own missive to Angouleme. The ill-advised equerry of Marie was therefore compelled to retire without his credentials, and the Queen-mother was subjected to the mortification of offering an ample apology to Louis, through the medium of the messenger whom he in his turn despatched to her, for the arrogance and discourtesy of her follower.[33]

Meanwhile Marie de Medicis once more saw herself at the head of a Court nearly equal in numbers and magnificence to that of the King himself, and daily presided over festivities which satisfied even her thirst for splendour and display. It sufficed that any noble felt himself aggrieved by the presumption, or disappointed by the want of generosity of the favourite, to induce him to offer his services to the Queen—mother, who welcomed every accession of strength with a suavity and condescension rendered doubly acceptable from the contrast which it exhibited with the morose indifference of the King, and the insolent haughtiness of De Luynes. Thus constant arrivals afforded a pretext for perpetual gaieties; and the Due d'Epernon received the new allies of his royal mistress with a profusion and recklessness of expenditure which excited universal astonishment.

De Luynes had considered it expedient to offer his congratulations to the Queen-mother and M. d'Epernon upon the reconciliation which had taken place, and in order to evince his respect for Marie had caused M. de Brantes his brother to accompany the Cardinal de la Rochefoucauld to Angouleme for this purpose, where both were received with a splendour, and feasted with a pomp and elegance, to which they had been long unaccustomed at the Court of Paris.

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8     Next Part
Home - Random Browse