XXXIV. HENRY III. AND THE RELIGIOUS WARS. (1574-1589.)
Though elected King of Poland on the 9th of May, 1573, Henry, Duke of Anjou, had not yet left Paris at the end of the summer. Impatient at his slowness to depart, Charles IX. said, with his usual oath, "By God's death! my brother or I must at once leave the kingdom: my mother shall not succeed in preventing it." "Go," said Catherine to Henry; "you will not be away long." She foresaw, with no great sorrow one would say, the death of Charles IX., and her favorite son's accession to the throne of France. Having arrived in Poland on the 25th of January, 1574, and been crowned at Cracow on the 24th of February, Henry had been scarcely four months King of Poland when he was apprised, about the middle of June, that his brother Charles had lately died, on the 30th of May, and that he was King of France. "Do not waste your time in deliberating," said his French advisers; "you must go and take possession of the throne of France without abdicating that of Poland: go at once and without fuss." Henry followed this counsel. He left Cracow, on the 18th of June, with a very few attendants. Some Poles were apprehensive of his design, but said nothing about it. He went a quarter of a league on foot to reach the horses which were awaiting him, set off at a gallop, rode all night, and arrived next day early on the frontier of Moravia, an Austrian province. The royal flight created a great uproar at Cracow; the noblemen, and even the peasants, armed with stakes and scythes, set out in pursuit of their king. They did not come up with him; they fell in with his chancellor only, Guy du Faur, Sieur de Pibrac, who had missed him at the appointed meeting-place, and who, whilst seeking to rejoin him, had lost himself in the forests and marshes, concealed himself in the osiers and reeds, and been obliged now and then to dip his head, in the mud to avoid the arrows discharged on all sides by the peasants in pursuit of the king. Being arrested by some people who were for taking him back to Cracow and paying him out for his complicity in his master's flight, he with great difficulty obtained his release and permission to continue his road. Destined to become more celebrated by his writings and by his Quatrains moraux than by his courtly adventures, Pibrac rejoined King Henry at Vienna, where the Emperor Maximilian II. received him with great splendor. Delivered from fatigue and danger, Henry appeared to think of nothing but resting and diverting himself; he tarried to his heart's content at Vienna, Venice, Ferrara, Mantua, and Turin. He was everywhere welcomed with brilliant entertainments, which the Emperor Maximilian and the senators of Venice accompanied with good advice touching the government of France in her religious troubles; and the nominal sovereign of two kingdoms took nearly three months in going from that whence he had fled to that of which he was about to take possession. Having started from Cracow on the 18th of June, 1574, he did not arrive until the 5th of September at Lyons, whither the queen-mother had sent his brother, the Duke of Alencon, and his brother-in-law, the King of Navarre, to receive him, going herself as far as Bourgoin in Dauphiny, in order to be the first to see her darling son again.
The king's entry into France caused, says De Thou, a strange revulsion in all minds. "During the lifetime of Charles IX., none had seemed more worthy of the throne than Henry, and everybody desired to have him for master. But scarcely had he arrived when disgust set in to the extent of auguring very ill of his reign. There was no longer any trace in this prince, who had been nursed, so to speak, in the lap of war, of that manly and warlike courage which had been so much admired. He no longer rode on horseback; he did not show himself amongst his people, as his predecessors had been wont to do; he was only to be seen shut up with a few favorites in a little painted boat which went up and down the Saone he no longer took his meals without a balustrade, which did not allow him to be approached any Hearer; and if anybody had any petitions to present to him, they had to wait for him as he came out from dinner, when he took them as he hurried by. For the greater part of the day he remained closeted with some young folks, who alone had the prince's ear, without any body's knowing how they had arrived at this distinction, whilst the great, and those whose services were known, could scarcely get speech of him. Showiness and effeminacy had taken the place of the grandeur and majesty which had formerly distinguished our kings." [De Thou, Histoire universelle, t. vii. p. 134.]
"The time was ill chosen by Henry III. for this change of habits and for becoming an indolent and voluptuous king, set upon taking his pleasure in his court and isolating himself from his people. The condition and ideas of France were also changing, but to issue in the assumption of quite a different character and to receive development in quite a different direction. Catholics or Protestants, agents of the king's government or malcontents, all were getting a taste for and adopting the practice of independence and a vigorous and spontaneous activity. The bonds of the feudal system were losing their hold, and were not yet replaced by those of a hierarchically organized administration. Religious creeds and political ideas were becoming, for thoughtful and straightforward spirits, rules of conduct, powerful motives of action, and they furnished the ambitious with effective weapons. The theologians of the Catholic church and of the Reformed churches—on one side the Cardinal of Lorraine, Cardinals Campeggi and Sadolet, and other learned priests or prelates, and on the other side Calvin, who had been nursed, so to speak, in the lap of war, of that manly and warlike courage which had been so much admired. He no longer rode on horseback; he did not show himself amongst his people, as his predecessors had been wont to do; he was only to be seen shut up with a few favorites in a little painted boat which went up and down the Saone he no longer took his meals without a balustrade, which did not allow him to be approached any nearer; and if anybody had any petitions to present to him, they had to wait for him as he came out from dinner, when he took them as he hurried by. For the greater part of the day he remained closeted with some young folks, who alone had the prince's ear, without anybody's knowing how they had arrived at this distinction, whilst the great, and those whose services were known, could scarcely get speech of him. Showiness and effeminacy had taken the place of the grandeur and majesty which had formerly distinguished our kings." [De Thou, Histoire universelle, t. vii. p. 134.]
The time was ill chosen by Henry III. for this change of habits and for becoming an indolent and voluptuous king, set upon taking his pleasure in his court and isolating himself from his people. The condition and ideas of France were also changing, but to issue in the assumption of quite a different character and to receive development in quite a different direction. Catholics or Protestants, agents of the king's government or malcontents, all were getting a taste for and adopting the practice of independence and a vigorous and spontaneous activity. The bonds of the feudal system were losing their hold, and were not yet replaced by those of a hierarchically organized administration. Religious creeds and political ideas were becoming, for thoughtful and straightforward spirits, rules of conduct, powerful motives of action, and they furnished the ambitious with effective weapons. The theologians of the Catholic church and of the Reformed churches—on one side the Cardinal of Lorraine, Cardinals Campeggi and Sadolet, and other learned priests or prelates, and on the other side Calvin, Theodore de Beze, Melancthon, and Bucer—were working with zeal to build up into systems of dogma their interpretations of the great facts of Christianity, and they succeeded in implanting a passionate attachment to them in their flocks. Independently of these religious controversies, superior minds, profound lawyers, learned scholars were applying their energies to founding, on a philosophical basis and historic principles, the organization of governments and the reciprocal rights of princes and peoples. Ramus, one of the last and of the most to be lamented victims of the St. Bartholomew; Francis Hotman, who, in his Franco-Gallia, aspired to graft the new national liberties upon the primitive institutions of the Franks; Hubert Languet, the eloquent author of the Vindicice contra tyrannos, or de la Puissance legitime du Prince cur le Peuple et du Peuple sur le Prince; John Bodin, the first, in original merit, amongst the publicists of the sixteenth century, in his six livres de LA REPUBLIQUE; all these eminent men boldly tackled the great questions of political liberty or of legislative reforms. Le Contre-un, that republican treatise by De la Boetie, written in 1546, and circulated, at first, in manuscript only, was inserted, between 1576 and 1578, in the Memoires de l'Etat de France, and passionately extolled by the independent thinker Michael de Montaigne in his Essais, of which nine editions were published between 1580 and 1598, and evidently very much read in the world of letters. An intellectual movement so active and powerful could not fail to have a potent effect upon political life. Before the St. Bartholomew, the great religious and political parties, the Catholic and the Protestant, were formed and at grips; the house of Lorraine at the head of the Catholics, and the house of Bourbon, Conde, and Coligny at the head of the Protestants, with royalty trying feebly and vainly to maintain between them a hollow peace. To this stormy and precarious, but organized and clearly defined condition, the St. Bartholomew had caused anarchy to succeed. Protestantism, vanquished but not destroyed, broke up into provincial and municipal associations without recognized and dominant heads, without discipline or combination in respect of either their present management or their ultimate end. Catholicism, though victorious, likewise underwent a break-up; men of mark, towns and provinces, would not accept the St. Bartholomew and its consequences; a new party, the party of the policists, sprang up, opposed to the principle and abjuring the practice of persecution, having no mind to follow either the Catholics in their outrages or royalty in its tergiversations, and striving to maintain in the provinces and the towns, where it had the upper hand, enough of order and of justice to at least keep at a distance the civil war which was elsewhere raging. Languedoc owed to Marshal de Damville, second son of the Constable Anne de Montmorency, this comparatively bearable position. But the degree of security and of local peace which it offered the people was so imperfect, so uncertain, that the break-up of the country and of the state went still farther. In a part of Languedoc, in the Vivarais, the inhabitants, in order to put their habitations and their property in safety, resolved to make a league amongst themselves, without consulting any authority, not even Marshal de Damville, the peace-seeking governor of their province. Their treaty of alliance ran, that arms should be laid down throughout the whole of the Vivarais; that none, foreigner or native, should be liable to trouble for the past; that tillers of the soil and traders should suffer no detriment in person or property; that all hostilities should cease in the towns and all forays in the country; that there should everywhere be entire freedom for commerce; that cattle which had been lifted should be immediately restored gratis; that concerted action should be taken to get rid of the garrisons out of the country and to raze the fortresses, according as the public weal might require; and finally that whosoever should dare to violate these regulations should be regarded as a traitor and punished as a disturber of the public peace. "As soon as the different authorities in the state, Marshal de Damville as well as the rest, were informed of this novelty," says De Thou, "they made every effort to prevent it from taking effect. 'Nothing could be of more dangerous example,' they said, 'than to suffer the people to make treaties in this way and on their own authority, without waiting for the consent of his Majesty or of those who represented him in the provinces.' The folks of the Vivarais, on the contrary, presumed to justify themselves by saying that the step they had taken did not in any way infringe the king's authority; that it was rather an opening given by them for securely establishing tranquillity in the kingdom; that nothing was more advantageous or could contribute more towards peace than to raze all those fortresses set up in the heart of the state, which were like so many depots of revolt; that by a diminution of the garrisons the revenues of his Majesty would be proportionately augmented; that, at any rate, there would result this advantage, that the lands, which formed almost the whole wealth of the kingdom, would be cultivated, that commerce would flourish, and that the people, delivered from fear of the many scoundrels who, found a retreat in those places, would at last be able to draw breath after the many misfortunes they had experienced."
It was in this condition of disorganization and red-hot anarchy that Henry III., on his return from Poland, and after the St. Bartholomew, found France; it was in the face of all these forces, full of life, but scattered and excited one against another, that, with the aid of his mother, Catherine, he had to re-establish unity in the state, the effectiveness of the government, and the public peace. It was not a task for which the tact of an utterly corrupted woman and an irresolute prince sufficed. What could the artful manoeuvrings of Catherine and the waverings of Henry III. do towards taming both Catholics and Protestants at the same time, and obliging them to live at peace with one another, under one equitable and effective power? Henry IV. was as yet unformed, nor was his hour yet come for this great work. Henry III. and Catherine de' Medici failed in it completely; their government of fifteen years served only to make them lose their reputation for ability, and to aggravate for France the evils which it was their business to heal. In 1575, a year only after Henry III.'s accession, revolt penetrated to the royal household. The Duke of Alencon, the king's younger brother, who, since his brother's coronation, took the title of Duke of Anjou, escaped on the 15th of September from the Louvre by a window, and from Paris by a hole made in the wall of circumvallation. He fled to Dreux, a town in his appanage, and put himself at the head of a large number of malcontents, nobles and burgesses, Catholic and Reformed, mustered around him under this name of no religious significance between the two old parties. On the 17th of September, in his manifesto, he gave as reasons for his revolt, excessive taxation, waste of the public revenues, the feebleness of the royal authority, incapable as it was of putting a stop to the religious troubles, and the disgrace which had been inflicted upon himself "by pernicious ministers who desire to have the government in their sole patronage, excluding from it the foremost and the most illustrious of the court, and devouring all that there is remaining to the poor people." He protested his devotion to the king his brother, at the same time declaring war against the Guises.
King Henry of Navarre, testifying little sympathy with the Duke of Anjou, remained at court, abandoning himself apparently to his pleasures alone. Two of his faithful servants (the poet-historian D'Aubigne was one of them) heard him one night sighing as he lay in bed, and humming half aloud this versicle from the eighty-eighth Psalm:—
"Sir," said D'Aubigne eagerly, "it is true, then, that the Sprit of God worketh and dwelleth in you still? You sigh unto God because of the absence of your friends and faithful servants; and all the while they are together, sighing because of yours and laboring for your freedom. But you have only tears in your eyes, and they, arms in hand, are fighting your enemies. As for us two, we were talking of taking to flight tomorrow, when your voice made us draw the curtain. Bethink you, sir, that, after us, the hands that will serve you would not dare refuse to employ poison and the knife." Henry, much moved, resolved to follow the example of the Duke of Anjou. His departure was fixed for the 3d of February, 1576. He went and slept at Senlis; hunted next day very early, and, on his return from hunting, finding his horses baited and ready, "What news?" he asked. "Sir," said D'Aubigne, "we are betrayed; the king knows all; the road to death and shame is Paris; that to life and glory is anywhere else." "That is more than enough; away!" replied Henry. They rode all night, and arrived without misadventure at Alencon. Two hundred and fifty gentlemen, having been apprised in time, went thither to join the King of Navarre. He pursued his road in their company. From Senlis to the Loire he was silent but when he had crossed the river, "Praised be God, who has delivered me!" he cried; "at Paris they were the death of my mother; there they killed the admiral and my best servants; and they had no mind to do any better by me, if God had not had me in his keeping. I return thither no more unless I am dragged. I regret only two things that I have left behind at Paris—mass and my wife. As for mass, I will try to do without it; but as for my wife, I cannot; I mean to see her again." He disavowed the appearances of Catholicism he had assumed, again made open profession of Protestantism by holding at the baptismal font, in the conventicle, the daughter of a physician amongst his friends. Then he reached Bearn, declaring that he meant to remain there independent and free. A few days before his departure he had written to one of his Bearnese friends, "The court is the strangest you ever saw. We are almost always ready to cut one another's throats. We wear daggers, shirts of mail, and very often the whole cuirass under the cape. I am only waiting for the opportunity to deliver a little battle, for they tell me they will kill me, and I want to be beforehand." Mesdames de Carnavalet and de Sauve, two of his fair friends, had warned him that, far from giving him the lieutenant-generalship, which had been so often promised him, it had been decided to confer this office on the king's brother, in order to get him back to court and seize his person as soon as he arrived.
It was the increasing preponderance of the Guises, at court as well as in the country, which caused the two princes to take this sudden resolution. Since Henry III.'s coming to the throne, war had gone on between the Catholics and the Protestants, but languidly and with frequent suspensions through local and shortlived truces. The king and the queen-mother would have been very glad that the St. Bartholomew should be short-lived also, as a necessary but transitory crisis; it had rid them of their most formidable adversaries, Coligny and the Reformers of note who were about him. Henry and Catherine aspired to no more than resuming their policy of manoeuvring and wavering between the two parties engaged in the struggle; but it was not for so poor a result that the ardent Catholics had committed the crime of the St. Bartholomew; they promised themselves from it the decisive victory of their church and of their supremacy. Henry de Guise came forward as their leader in this grand design; there are to be read, beneath a portrait of him done in the sixteenth century, these verses, also of that date:—
Guise cultivated very carefully this ardent confidence on the part of Catholic France; he recommended to his partisans attention to little pious and popular practices. "I send you some paternosters [meaning, in the plural, the beads of a chaplet, or the chaplet entire]," he wrote to his wife, Catherine of Cleves; "you will have strings made for them and string them together. I don't know whether you dare offer some of them to the queens and to my lady mother. Ask advice of Mesdames de Retz and de Villeroy about it." The flight and insurrection of the Duke of Anjou and the King of Navarre furnished the Duke of Guise with a very natural occasion for re-engaging in the great struggle between Catholicism and Protestantism, wherein the chief part belonged to him. Let us recur, for a moment, to the origin of that struggle and the part taken in it, at the outset, by the princes of the house of Lorraine. "As early as the year 1562, twenty-six years before the affair of the barricades," says M. Vitet in the excellent introduction which he has put at the head of his beautiful historic dramas from the last half of the sixteenth century, "Cardinal Charles of Lorraine, being at the Council of Trent, conceived the plan of a Holy League, or association of Catholics, which was to have the triple object of defending, by armed force, the Romish church in France, of obtaining for the cardinal's brother, Duke Francis de Guise, the lieutenant-generalship of the kingdom, and of helping him to ascend the throne, in case the line of the Valois should become extinct. The death of Duke Francis, murdered in front of Orleans by Poltrot, did not permit the cardinal to carry out his plan. Five years afterwards, Henry de Guise, eldest son of Francis, and then eighteen years of age, caused to be drawn up, for the first time, a form of oath whereby the dignitaries bound themselves to sacrifice their goods and lives in defence of the Catholic religion in the face of and against all, except the king, the royal family, and the princes of their connection. This form was signed by the nobility of Champagne and Brie, a province of which Henry de Guise was governor, and on the 25th of July, 1568, the bishop and clergy of Troyes signed it likewise. The association is named, in the form, Holy League, Christian and royal. Up to the year 1576 it remained secret, and did not cross the boundaries of Champagne." To this summary of M. Vitet's may be added that independently of the Champagnese league of 1568 and in the interval between 1568 and 1575 there had been formed, in some provinces and towns, other local associations for the defence of the Catholic church against the heretics. When, in 1575, first the Duke of Anjou and after him the King of Navarre were seen flying from the court of Henry III. and commencing an insurrection with the aid of a considerable body of German auxiliaries and French refugees, already on French soil and on their way across Champagne, the peril of the Catholic church appeared so grave and so urgent that, in the threatened provinces, the Catholics devoted themselves with ardor to the formation of a grand association for the defence of their cause. Then and thus was really born the League, secret at first, but, before long, publicly and openly proclaimed, which held so important a place in the history of the sixteenth century. Picardy and Champagne were the first scene of its formation; but in the neighboring provinces the same travail took place and brought forth fruits. At Paris, a burgess named La Roche-Blond, and devoted to the Guises, a perfumer named Peter de la Bruyere and his son Matthew de la Bruyere, councillor at the Chatelet, were, says De Thou, the first and most zealous preachers of the Union. "At their solicitation," continues the austere magistrate, "all the debauchees there were in this great city, all folks whose only hope was in civil war for the indulgence of their libertinism or for a safe means of satisfying their avarice or their ambition, enrolled themselves emulously in this force. Many, even of the richest burgesses, whose hatred for Protestants blinded them so far as not to see the dangers to which such associations expose public tranquillity in a well-regulated state, had the weakness to join the seditious."
Many asked for time to consider, and, before making any engagement, they went to see President de Thou [Christopher, premier president of the Parliament of Paris since 1562, and father of the historian James Augustus de Thou], informed him of these secret assemblies and all that went on there, and begged him to tell them whether he approved of them, and whether it was true that the court authorized them. M. de Thou answered them at once, with that straightforwardness which was innate in him, that these kinds of proceedings had not yet come to his knowledge, that he doubted whether they had the approbation of his Majesty, and that they would do wisely to hold aloof from all such associations. The authority of this great man began to throw suspicion upon the designs of the Unionists, and his reply prevented many persons from casting in their lot with the party; but they who found themselves at the head of this faction were not the folks to so easily give up their projects, for they felt themselves too well supported at court and amongst the people. They advised the Lorraine princes to have the Union promulgated in the provinces, and to labor to make the nobility of the kingdom enter it.
Henry de Guise did not hesitate. At the same time that he avowed the League and labored to propagate it, he did what was far more effectual for its success: he entered the field and gained a victory. The German allies and French refugees who had come to support Prince Henry de Conde and the Duke of Anjou in their insurrection advanced into Champagne. Guise had nothing ready, neither army nor money; he mustered in haste three thousand horse, who were to be followed by a body of foot and a moiety of the king's guards. "I haven't a son," he wrote to his wife; "take something out of the king's chest, if there is anything there; provided you know that there is something there, don't be afraid; take it and send it me at once. As for the reitres, they are more afraid of us than we of them; don't be frightened about them on my account; the greatest danger I shall run will be that a glass of wine may break in my hand." He set out in pursuit of the Germans, came up with them on the 10th of October, 1575, at Port-a-Binson, on the Marne, and ordered them to be attacked by his brother the Duke of Mayenne, whom he supported vigorously. They were broken and routed. The hunt, according to the expression at the time, lasted all the rest of the day and during the night. "A world of dead covers the field of battle," wrote Guise. He had himself been wounded: he went in obstinate pursuit of a mounted foe whom he had twice touched with his sword, and who, in return, had fired two pistol-shots, of which one took effect in the leg, and the other carried away part of his cheek and his left ear. Thence came his name of Henry the Scarred (le Balafre), which has clung to him in history.
Scarcely four years had rolled away since the St. Bartholomew. In vain had been the massacre of ten thousand Protestants, according to the lowest, and of one hundred thousand, according to the highest estimates, besides nearly all the renowned chiefs of the party. Charles IX.'s earnest prayer, "That none remain to reproach me!" was so far from accomplishment that the war between Catholicism and Protestantism recommenced in almost every part of France with redoubled passion, with a new importance of character, and with symptoms of much longer duration than at its first outbreak. Both parties had found leaders made, both from their position and their capacity, to command them. Admiral Coligny was succeeded by the King of Navarre, who was destined to become Henry IV.; and Duke Francis of Guise by his son Henry, if not as able, at any rate as brave a soldier, and a more determined Catholic than he. Amongst the Protestants, Sully and Da Plessis-Mornay were assuming shape and importance by the side of the King of Navarre. Catherine de' Medici placed at her son's service her Italian adroitness, her maternal devotion, and an energy rare for a woman between sixty and seventy years of age, for forty-three years a queen, and worn out by intrigue, and business, and pleasure. Finally, to the question of religion, the primary cause of the struggle, was added a question of kingship, kept in the background, but ever present in thought and deed: which of the three houses of Valois, Bourbon, and Lorraine should remain in or enter upon possession of the throne of France. The interests and the ambition of families and of individuals were playing their part simultaneously with the controversies and the passions of creed.
This state of things continued for twelve years, from 1576 to 1588, with constant alternations of war, truce, and precarious peace, and in the midst of constant hesitation, on the part of Henry III., between alliance with the League, commanded by the Duke of Guise, and adjustment with the Protestants, of whom the King of Navarre was every day becoming the more and more avowed leader. Between 1576 and 1580, four treaties of peace were concluded; in 1576, the peace called Monsieur's, signed at Chastenay in Orleanness; in 1577, the peace of Bergerac or of Poitiers; in 1579, the peace of Nerac; in 1580, the peace of Fleix in Perigord. In November, 1576, the states-general were convoked and assembled at Blois, where they sat and deliberated up to March, 1577, without any important result. Neither these diplomatic conventions nor these national assemblies had force enough to establish a real and lasting peace between the two parties, for the parties themselves would not have it; in vain did Henry III. make concessions and promises of liberty to the Protestants; he was not in a condition to guarantee their execution and make it respected by their adversaries. At heart neither Protestants nor Catholics were for accepting mutual liberty; not only did they both consider themselves in possession of all religious truth, but they also considered themselves entitled to impose it by force upon their adversaries. The discovery (and the term is used advisedly, so slow to come and so long awaited has been the fact which it expresses), the discovery of the legitimate separation between the intellectual world and the political world, and of the necessity, also, of having the intellectual world free in order that it may not make upon the political world a war which, in the inevitable contact between them, the latter could not support for long, this grand and salutary discovery, be it repeated, and its practical influence in the government of people cannot be realized save in communities already highly enlightened and politically well ordered. Good order, politically, is indispensable if liberty, intellectually, is to develop itself regularly and do the community more good than it causes of trouble and embarrassment. They only who have confidence in human intelligence sincerely admit its right to freedom; and confidence in human intelligence is possible only in the midst of a political regimen which likewise gives the human community the guarantees whereof its interests and its lasting security have absolute need. The sixteenth century was a long way from these conditions of harmony between the intellectual world and the political world, the necessity of which is beginning to be understood and admitted by only the most civilized and best governed amongst modern communities. It is one of the most tardy and difficult advances that people have to accomplish in their life of labor. The sixteenth century helped France to make considerable strides in civilization and intellectual development; but the eighteenth and nineteenth have taught her how great still, in the art of governing and being governed as a free people, are her children's want of foresight and inexperience, and, to what extent they require a strong and sound organization of political freedom in order that they may without danger enjoy intellectual freedom, its pleasures and its glories.
From 1576 to 1588, Henry III. had seen the difficulties of his government continuing and increasing. His attempt to maintain his own independence and the mastery of the situation between Catholics and Protestants, by making concessions and promises at one time to the former and at another to the latter, had not succeeded; and in 1584 it became still more difficult to practise. On the 10th of June in that year Henry III.'s brother, the Duke of Anjou, died at Chateau-Thierry. By this death the leader of the Protestants, Henry, King of Navarre, became lawful heir to the throne of France. The Leaguers could not stomach that prospect. The Guises turned it to formidable account. They did not hesitate to make the future of France a subject of negotiation with Philip II. of Spain, at that time her most dangerous enemy in Europe. By a secret convention concluded at Joinville on the 31st of December, 1584, between Philip and the Guises, it was stipulated that at the death of Henry III. the crown should pass to Charles, Cardinal of Bourbon, sixty-four years of age, the King of Navarre's uncle, who, in order to make himself king, undertook to set aside his nephew's hereditary right, and forbid, absolutely, heretical worship in France. He published on the 31st of March, 1585, a declaration wherein he styled himself premier prince of the blood, and conferred upon the Duke of Guise the title of lieutenant-general of the League. By a bull of September 10, 1585, Sixtus V., but lately elected pope, excommunicated the King of Navarre as a heretic and relapsed, denying him any right of succession to the crown of France, and releasing his Narvarrese subjects from their oath of fidelity. Sixtus V. did not yet know what manner of man he was thus attacking. The King of Navarre did not confine himself to protesting in France, on the 10th of June, 1585, against this act of the pope's: he had his protest placarded at Rome itself upon the statues of Pasquin and Marforio, and at the very doors of the Vatican, referring the pope, as to the question of heresy, to a council which he claimed at an early date, and at the same time appealing against this alleged abuse of power to the court of peers of France, "of whom," said he, "I have the honor to be the premier." The whole of Italy, including Sixtus V. himself, a pope of independent mind and proud heart, was struck with this energetic resistance on the part of a petty king. "It would be a good thing," said the pope to Marquis Pasani, Henry III.'s ambassador, "if the king your master showed as much resolution against his enemies as the King of Navarre shows against those who attack him." At the first moment Henry III. had appeared to unravel the intentions of the League and to be disposed to resist it; by an edict of March 28, 1585, he had ordered that its adherents should be prosecuted; but Catherine de' Medici frightened him with the war which would infallibly be kindled, and in which he would have for enemies all the Catholics, more irritated than ever. And Henry III. very easily took fright. Catherine undertook to manage the recoil for him. "I care not who likes it and who doesn't," she was wont to say in such cases. She asked the Duke of Guise for an interview, which took place, first of all at Epernay, and afterwards at Rheims. The hard demands of the Lorrainers did not deter the queen-mother, and, on the 7th of July, 1585, a treaty was concluded at Nemours between Henry III. and the League, to the effect "that by an irrevocable edict the practice of the new religion should be forbidden, and that there should henceforth be no other practice of religion, throughout the realm of France, save that of the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman; that all the ministers should depart from the kingdom within a month; that all the subjects of his Majesty should be bound to live according to the Catholic religion and make profession thereof within six months, on pain of confiscation both of person and goods; that heretics, of whatsoever quality they might be, should be declared incapable of holding benefices, public offices, positions, and dignities; that the places which had been given in guardianship to them for their security should be taken back again forthwith; and, lastly, that the princes designated in the treaty, amongst whom were all the Guises at the top, should receive as guarantee certain places to be held by them for five years."
This treaty was signed by all the negotiators, and specially by the queen-mother, the Cardinals of Bourbon and Guise, and the Dukes of Guise and Mayenne. It was the decisive act which made the war a war of religion.
On the 18th of July following, Henry III., on his way to the Palace of Justice to be present at the publication of the edict he had just issued in virtue of this treaty with the League, said to the Cardinal of Bourbon, "My dear uncle, against my conscience, but very willingly, I published the edicts of pacification, because they were successful in giving relief to my people; and now I am going to publish the revocation of those edicts in accordance with my conscience, but very unwillingly, because on its publication hangs the ruin of my kingdom and of my people." When he issued from the palace, cries of "Long live the king!" were heard; "at which astonishment was expressed," says Peter de l'Estoile (t. i. p. 294), "because for a long time past no such favor had been shown him. But it was discovered that these acclamations were the doing of persons posted about by the Leaguers, and that, for doing it, money had been given to idlers and sweetmeats to children." Some days afterwards, the King of Navarre received news of the treaty of Nemours. He was staying near Bergerac, at the castle of the Lord of La Force, with whom he was so intimate that he took with him none of his household, as he preferred to be waited upon by M. de la Force's own staff. "I was so grievously affected by it," said he himself at a later period to M. de la Force, "that, as I pondered deeply upon it and held my head supported upon my hand, my apprehensions of the woes I foresaw for my country were such as to whiten one half of my mustache." [Memoires du Due de la Force, t. i. p. 50.] Henry III., for his part, was but little touched by the shouts of Long live the king! that he heard as he left the palace; he was too much disquieted to be rejoiced at them. He did not return the greeting of the municipal functionaries or of the mob that blocked his way. "You see how reluctant he is to embroil himself with the Huguenots," said the partisans of the Guises to the people.
It was the recommencement of religious civil war, with more deadliness than ever. The King of Navarre left no stone unturned to convince everybody, friends and enemies, great lords and commonalty, Frenchmen and foreigners, that this recurrence of war was not his doing, and that the Leaguers forced it upon him against his wish and despite of the justice of his cause. He wrote to Henry III., "Monseigneur, as soon as the originators of these fresh disturbances had let the effects appear of their ill-will towards your Majesty and your kingdom, you were pleased to write to me the opinion you had formed, with very good title, of their intentions; you told me that you knew, no matter what pretext they assumed, that they had designs against your person and your crown, and that they desired their own augmentation and aggrandizement at your expense and to your detriment. Such were the words of your letters, Mon seigneur, and you did me the honor, whilst recognizing the connection between my fortunes and those of your Majesty, to add expressly that they were compassing my ruin together with your own. . . . And now, Monseigneur, when I hear it suddenly reported that your Majesty has made a treaty of peace with those who have risen up against your service, providing that your edict be broken, your loyal subjects banished, and the conspirators armed, and armed with your power and your authority against me, who have the honor of belonging to you, I leave your Majesty to judge in what a labyrinth I find myself. . . . If it is I whom they seek, or if under my shadow (on my account) they trouble this realm, I have begged that, without henceforth causing the orders and estates of this realm to suffer for it, and without the intervention of any army, home or foreign, this quarrel be decided in the Duke of Guise's person and my own, one to one, two to two, ten to ten, twenty to twenty, in any number that the said Lord of Guise shall think proper, with the arms customary amongst gentlemen of honor. ... It will be a happiness for us, my cousin [Henry de Conde] and myself, to deliver, at the price of our blood, the king our sovereign lord from the travails and trials that are a-brewing for him, his kingdom from trouble and confusion, his noblesse from ruin, and all his people from extreme misery and calamity."
The Duke of Guise respectfully declined, at the same time that he thanked the King of Navarre for the honor done him, saying that he could not accept the offer, as he was maintaining the cause of religion, and not a private quarrel. On his refusal, war appeared to everybody, and in fact became, inevitable. At his re-engagement in it, the King of Navarre lost no time about informing his friends at home and his allies abroad, the noblesse, the clergy, and the third estate of France, the city of Paris, the Queen of England. the Protestant princes of Germany, and the Swiss cantons, of all he had done to avoid it; he evidently laid great store upon making his conduct public and his motives understood. He had for his close confidant and his mouth-piece Philip du Plessis-Mornay, at that time thirty-six years of age, one of the most learned and most hard-working as well as most zealous and most sterling amongst the royalist Protestants of France. It was his duty to draw up the documents, manifestoes, and letters published by the King of Navarre, when Henry did not himself stamp upon them the seal of his own language, vivid, eloquent, and captivating in its brevity.
Henry III. and the queen-mother were very much struck with this intelligent energy on the part of the King of Navarre, and with the influence he acquired over all that portion of the French noblesse and burgesses which had not fanatically enlisted beneath the banner of the League. Catherine, accustomed to count upon her skill in the art of seductive conversation, was for putting it to fresh proof in the case of the King of Navarre. Louis di Gonzaga, Duke of Nevers, an Italian, like herself, and one of her confidants, was sent in advance to sound Henry of Navarre. He wrote to Henry III., "Such, sir, as you have known this prince, such is he even now; nor years nor difficulties change him; he is still agreeable, still merry, still devoted, as he has sworn to me a hundred times, to peace and your Majesty's service." Catherine proposed to him an interview. Henry hesitated to comply. From Jarnac, where he was, he sent Viscount de Turenne to Catherine to make an agreement with her for a few days' truce. "Catherine gave Turenne to understand that, in order to have peace, the King of Navarre must turn Catholic, and put a stop to the exercise of the Reformed religion in the towns he held." When this was reported by his envoy, Henry, who had set out for the interview, was on the point of retracing his steps; he went on, however, as he was curious to see Catherine, to satisfy his mind upon the point and to answer her." They met on the 14th of December, 1586, at the castle of St. Brice, near Cognac, both of them with gloomy looks. Catherine asked Henry whether Turenne had spoken to him about what, she said, was her son's most express desire.
"I am astounded," said Henry, "that your Majesty should have taken so much pains to tell me what my ears are split with hearing; and likewise that you, whose judgment is so sound, should delude yourself with the idea of solving the difficulty by means of the difficulty itself. You propose to me a thing that I cannot do without forfeiture of conscience and honor, and without injury to the king's service. I should not carry with me all those of the religion; and they of the League would be so much the more irritated in that they would lose their hope of depriving me of the right which I have to the throne. They do not want me with you, madame, for they would then be in sorry plight, you better served, and all your good subjects more happy." The queen-mother did not dispute the point. She dwelt "upon the inconveniences Henry suffered during the war." "I bear them patiently, madame," said Henry, "since you burden me with them in order to unburden yourself of them." She reproached him with not doing as he pleased in Rochelle. "Pardon me, madame," said he, "I please only as I ought." The Duke of Nevers, who was present at the interview, was bold enough to tell him that he could not impose a tax upon Rochelle. "That is true," said Henry: "and so we have no Italian amongst us." He took leave of the queen-mother, who repeated what she had said to Viscount de Turenne, "charging him to make it known to the noblesse who were of his following." "It is just eighteen months, madame," said he, "since I ceased to obey the king. He has made war upon me like a wolf, you like a lioness." "The king and I seek nothing but your welfare." "Excuse me, madame; I think it would be the contrary." "My son, would you have the pains I have taken for the last six months remain without fruit?" "Madame, it is not I who prevent you from resting in your bed; it is you who prevent me from lying down in mine." "Shall I be always at pains, I who ask for nothing but rest?" "Madame, the pains please you and agree with you; if you were at rest you could not live long." Catherine had brought with her what was called her flying squadron of fair creatures of her court: but, "Madame," said Henry, as he withdrew, "there is nothing here for me."
Before taking part in the war which was day by day becoming more and more clearly and explicitly a war of religion, the Protestant princes of Germany and the four great free cities of Strasbourg, Ulm, Nuremberg, and Frankfort resolved to make, as the King of Navarre had made, a striking move on behalf of peace and religious liberty. They sent to Henry III. ambassadors, who, on the 11th of October, 1586, treated him to some frank and bold speaking. "Our princes and masters," they said to him, "have been moved with surprise and Christian compassion towards you, as faithful friends and good neighbors of yours, on hearing that you, not being pleased to suffer in your kingdom any person not of the Roman religion, have broken the edict of peace which was so solemnly done and based upon your Majesty's faith and promise, and which is the firm prop of the tranquillity of your Majesty and your dominions; the which changes have appeared to them strange, seeing that your royal person, your dominions, your conscience, your honor, your reputation and good fame happened to be very much concerned therewith." Shocked at so rude an admonition, Henry III. answered, "It is God who made me king; and as I bear the title of Most Christian King, I have ever been very zealous for the preservation of the Catholic religion. . . . It appertains to me alone to decide, according to my discernment, what may contribute to the public weal, to make laws for to procure it, to interpret those laws, to change them, and to abolish them, just as I find it expedient. I have done so hitherto, and I shall still do so for the future;" and he dismissed the ambassadors. That very evening, on reflecting upon his words, and considering that his answer had not met the requirements of the case, he wrote with his own hand on a small piece of paper, "that whoever said that in revoking the edict of pacification he had violated his faith or put a blot upon his honor, had lied;" and he ordered one of his officers, though the night was far advanced, to carry that paper to the ambassadors, and read it to them textually. They asked for a copy; but Henry III., always careful not to have to answer for his words, had bidden his officer to suppress the document after having read it; and the Germans departed, determined upon war as well as quite convinced of the king's arrogant pusillanimity.
Except some local and short-lived truces, war was already lazing throughout nearly the whole of France, in Provence, in Dauphiny, in Nivernais, in Guienne, in Anjou, in Normandy, in Picardy, in Champagne. We do not care to follow the two parties through the manifold but monotonous incidents of their tumultuous and passionate strife; we desire to review only those events that were of a general and a decisive character. They occurred, naturally, in those places which were the arena, and in those armies which were under the command, of the two leaders, Duke Henry of Guise and King Henry of Navarre. The former took upon himself the duty of repulsing, in the north-west of France, the German and Swiss corps which were coming to the assistance of the French Reformers; the latter put himself at the head of the French Protestant forces summoned to face, in the provinces of the centre and south-west, the royalist armies. Guise was successful in his campaign against the foreigners: on the 26th of October, 1587, his scouts came and told him that the Germans were at Vimory, near Montargis, dispersed throughout the country, without vedettes or any of the precautions of warfare; he was at table with his principal officers at Courtenay, almost seven leagues away from the enemy; he remained buried in thought for a few minutes, and then suddenly gave the order to sound boot-and-saddle [boute-selle, i.e., put-on saddle]. "What for, pray?" said his brother, the Duke of Mayenne. "To go and fight." "Pray reflect upon, what you are going to do." "Reflections that I haven't made in a quarter of an hour I shouldn't make in a year." Mounting at once, the leader and his squadrons arrived at midnight at the gates of Vimory; they found, it is said, the Germans drunk, asleep, and scattered; according to the reporters on the side of the League, the victory of Guise was complete; he took from the Germans twenty-eight hundred horses: the Protestants said that the body he charged were nothing but a lot of horse-boys, and that the two flags he took had for device nothing but a sponge and a currycomb. But fifteen days later, on the 11th of November, at Auneau, near Chartres, Guise gained an indisputable and undisputed victory over the Germans; and their general, Baron Dohna, and some of his officers only saved themselves by cutting their way through sword in hand. The Swiss, being discouraged, and seeing in the army of Henry III. eight thousand of their countrymen, who were serving in it not, like themselves, as adventurers, but under the flags and with the authorization of their cantons, separated from the Germans and withdrew, after receiving from Henry III. four hundred thousand crowns as the price of their withdrawal. In Burgundy, in Champagne, and in Orleanness, the campaign terminated to the honor of Guise, which Henry III. was far from regarding as a victory for himself.
But almost at the same time at which the League obtained this success in the provinces of the east and centre, it experienced in those of the south-west a reverse more serious for the Leaguers than the Duke of Guise's victory had been fortunate for them. Henry III. had given the command of his army south of the Loire to one of his favorites, Anne, Duke of Joyeuse, a brilliant, brave, and agreeable young man, whose fortunes he had advanced beyond measure, to the extent of marrying him to Marguerite de Lorraine, the queen's sister, and raising for him the viscountship of Joyeuse to a duchy-peerage, giving him rank, too, after the princes of the blood and before the dukes of old creation. Joyeuse was at the head of six thousand foot, two thousand horse, and six pieces of cannon. He entered Poitou and marched towards the Dordogne, whilst the King of Navarre was at La Rochelle, engaged in putting into order two pieces of cannon, which formed the whole of his artillery, and in assembling round him his three cousins, the Prince of Conde, the Count of Soissons, and the Prince of Conti, that he might head the whole house of Bourbon at the moment when he was engaging seriously in the struggle with the house of Valois and the house of Lorraine. A small town, Coutras, situated at the confluence of the two rivers of L'Isle and La Dronne, in the Gironde, offered the two parties an important position to occupy. "According to his wont," says the Duke of Aumale in his Histoire des Princes de Conde, "the Bearnese was on horseback whilst his adversary was banqueting." He outstripped Joyeuse; and when the latter drew near to Contras, he found the town occupied by the Protestant advance-guard, and had barely time to fall back upon La Roche-Chalais. The battle began on the 20th of October, 1587, shortly after sunrise. We will here borrow the equally dramatic and accurate account of it given by the Duke of Aumale: "At this solemn moment the King of Navarre calls to his side his cousins and his principal officers; then, in his manly and sonorous voice, he addresses his men-at-arms: 'My friends, here is a quarry for you very different from your past prizes. It is a brand-new bridegroom, with his marriage-money still in his coffers; and all the cream of the courtiers are with him. Will you let yourselves go down before this handsome dancing-master and his minions? No, they are ours; I see it by your eagerness to fight. Still we must all of us understand that the event is in the hands of God. Pray we Him to aid us. This deed will be the greatest that we ever did; the glory will be to God, the service to our sovereign lord the king, the honor to ourselves, and the benefit to the state.' Henry uncovers; the clergymen Chandieu and Damours intone the army's prayer, and the men-at-arms repeat in chorus the twenty-fourth versicle of the hundred and eighteenth Psalm: 'This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.' As they were hastening each to his post, the king detains his cousins a moment. 'Gentlemen,' he shouts, 'I have just one thing to say: remember that you are of the house of Bourbon; and, as God liveth, I will let you see that I am your senior.' 'And we will show you some good juniors,' answered Conde."
Before midday the battle was won and the royalist army routed, but not without having made a valiant stand. During the action, D'Epinay Saint-Luc, one of the bravest royalist soldiers, met the Duke of Joyeuse already wounded. "What's to be done?" he asked. "Die," answered Joyeuse; and a few moments afterwards, as he was moving away some paces to the rear in order to get near to his artillery, says D'Aubigne, he was surrounded by several Huguenots, who recognized him. "There are a hundred-thousand crowns to be gained," he shouted; but rage was more powerful than cupidity, and one of them shattered his skull with a pistol-shot. "His body was taken to the king's quarters: there it lay, in the evening, upon a table in the very room where the conqueror's supper had been prepared: but the King of Navarre ordered all who were in the chamber to go out, had his supper things removed else-whither, and, with every mark of respect, committed the remains of the vanquished to the care of Viscount de Turenne, his near relative. Henry showed a simple and modest joy at his splendid triumph. It was five and twenty years since the civil war commenced, and he was the first Protestant general who had won a pitched battle; he had to regret only twenty-five killed, whereas the enemy had lost more than three thousand, and had abandoned to him their cannon, together with twenty-nine flags or standards. The victory was so much the more glorious in that it was gained over an army superior in numbers and almost equal in quality. It was owing to the king's valor, decision, vigilance, quick eye, comprehension of tactics, and that creative instinct which he brought into application in politics as well as in war, and which was destined to render him so happily inspired in the beautiful defensive actions of Arques, at the affair of Ivry, and on so many other occasions." [Histoire des Princes de Conde, &c., by M. le Due D'Aumale, t. ii. pp. 164-177.]
And what was Henry III., King of France, doing whilst two great parties and two great men were thus carrying on, around his throne and in his name, so passionate a war, on the one side to maintain the despotic unity of Catholic Christianism, and on the other to win religious liberty for Christian Protestantism? We will borrow here the words of the most enlightened and most impartial historian of the sixteenth century, M. de Thou; if we acted upon our own personal impressions alone, there would be danger of appearing too severe towards a king whom we profoundly despise.
"After having staid some time in Bourbonness, Henry III. went to Lyons in order to be within hail of his two favorites, Joyeuse and Epernon, who were each on the march with an army. Whilst he was at Lyons as unconcerned as if all the realm were enjoying perfect peace, he took to collecting those little dogs which are thought so much of in that town. Everybody was greatly surprised to see a King of France, in the midst of so terrible a war and in extreme want of money, expending upon such pleasures all the time he had at disposal and all the sums he could scrape together. How lavish soever this prince may have been, yet, if comparison be made between the expenditure upon the royal household and that incurred at Lyons for dogs, the latter will be found infinitely higher than the former; without counting expenses for hunting-dogs and birds, which always come to a considerable sum in the households of kings, it cost him, every year, more than a hundred thousand gold crowns for little Lyonnese dogs; and he maintained at his court, with large salaries, a multitude of men and women who had nothing to do but to feed them. He also spent large sums in monkeys, parrots, and other creatures from foreign countries, of which he always kept a great number. Sometimes he got tired of them, and gave them all away then his passion for such creatures returned, and they had to be found for him at no matter what cost. Since I am upon the subject of this prince's attachment to matters anything but worthy of the kingly majesty, I will say a word about his passion for those miniatures which were to be found in manuscript prayer-books, and which, before the practice of printing, were done by the most skilful painters. Henry III. seemed to buy such works, intended for princes and laid by in cabinets of curiosities, only to spoil them; as soon as he had them, he cut them out, and then pasted them upon the walls of his chapels, as children do. An incomprehensible character of mind: in certain things, capable of upholding his rank; in some, rising above his position; in others, sinking below childishness." [Histoire universelle de F. A. de Thou, t. ix. p. 599.]
A mind and character incomprehensible indeed, if corruption, lassitude, listlessness, and fear would not explain the existence of everything that is abnormal and pitiable about human nature in a feeble, cold, and selfish creature, excited, and at the same time worn out, by the business and the pleasures of kingship, which Henry III. could neither do without nor bear the burden of. His perplexity was extreme in his relations with the other two Henries, who gave, like himself, their name to this war, which was called by contemporaries the war of the three Henries. The successes of Henry de Guise and of Henry de Bourbon were almost equally disagreeable to Henry de Valois. It is probable that, if he could have chosen, he would have preferred those of Henry de Bourbon; if they caused him like jealousy, they did not raise in him the same distrust; he knew the King of Navarre's loyalty, and did not suspect him of aiming to become, whilst he himself was living, King of France. Besides, he considered the Protestants less powerful and less formidable than the Leaguers. Henry de Guise, on the contrary, was evidently, in his eyes, an ambitious conspirator, determined to push his own fortunes on to the very crown of France if the chances were favorable to him, and not only armed with all the power of Catholicism, but urged forward by the passions of the League, perhaps further and certainly more quickly than his own intentions travelled. Since 1584, the Leaguers had, at Paris, acquired strong organization amongst the populace; the city had been partitioned out into five districts under five heads, who, shortly afterwards, added to themselves eleven others, in order that, in the secret council of the association, each amongst the sixteen quarters of Paris might have its representative and director. Thence the famous Committee of Sixteen, which played so great and so formidable a part in the history of that period. It was religious fanaticism and democratic fanaticism closely united, and in a position to impose their wills upon their most eminent leaders, upon the Duke of Guise himself.
In vain did Henry III. attempt to resume some sort of authority in Paris; his government, his public and private life, and his person were daily attacked, insulted, and menaced from the elevation of the pulpit and in the public thoroughfares by qualified preachers or mob-orators. On the 16th of December, 1587, the Sorbonne voted, after a deliberation which, it was said, was to be kept secret, "that the government might be taken away from princes who were found not what they ought to be, just as the administration of a property from a guardian open to suspicion." On the 30th of December, the king summoned to the Louvre his court of Parliament and the faculty of theology. "I know of your precious resolution of the 16th of this month," said he to the Sorbonne; "I have been requested to take no notice of it, seeing that it was passed after dinner. I have no mind to avenge myself for these outrages, as I might, and as Pope Sixtus V. did when he sent to the galleys certain Cordeliers for having dared to slander him in their sermons. There is not one of you who has not deserved as much, and more; but it is my good pleasure to forget all, and to pardon you, on condition of its not occurring again. If it should, I beg my court of Parliament, here present, to exact exemplary justice, and such as the seditious, like you, may take warning by, so as to mind their own business." At their exit after this address, the Parliament and the Sorbonne, being quite sure that the king would not carry the matter further, withdrew smiling, and saying, "He certainly has spirit, but not enough of it" (habet quidem animum, sed non satis animi). The Duke of Guise's sister, the Duchess of Montpensier, took to getting up and spreading about all sorts of pamphlets against the king and his government. "The king commanded her to quit his city of Paris; she did nothing of the kind; and three days after she was even brazen enough to say that she carried at her waist the scissors which would give a third crown to brother Henry de Valois." At the close of 1587, the Duke of Guise made a trip to Rome, "with a suite of five; and he only remained three days, so disguised that he was not recognized there, and discovered himself to nobody but Cardinal Pelleve, with whom he was in communication day and night." [Journal de L'Estoile, t. i. p. 345.] Eighteen months previously, the cardinal had given a very favorable reception to a case drawn up by an advocate in the Parliament of Paris, named David, who maintained that, "although the line of the Capets had succeeded to the temporal administration of the kingdom of Charlemagne, it had not succeeded to the apostolic benediction, which appertained to none but the posterity of the said Charlemagne, and that, the line of Capet being some of them possessed by a spirit of giddiness and stupidity, and others heretic and excommunicated, the time had come for restoring the crown to the true heirs," that is to say, to the house of Lorraine, which claimed to be issue of Charlemagne. This case was passed on, it is said, from Rome to Philip II., King of Spain, and M. de Saint-Goard, ambassador of France at Madrid, sent Henry III. a copy of it. [Memoires de la Ligue, t. i. pp. 1-7.]
Whatever may have been the truth about this trip to Rome on the part of the Duke of Guise, and its influence upon what followed, the chiefs of the Leaguers resolved to deal a great blow. The Lorraine princes and their intimate associates met at Nancy in January, 1588, and decided that a petition should be presented to the king; that he should be called upon to join himself more openly and in good earnest to the League, and to remove from offices of consequence all the persons that should be pointed out to him; that the Holy Inquisition should be established, at any rate in the good towns; that important places should be put into the hands of specified chiefs, who should have the power of constructing fortifications there; that heretics should be taxed a third, or at the least, a fourth of their property as long as the war lasted; and, lastly, that the life should be spared of no enemy taken prisoner, unless upon his swearing and finding good surety to live as a Catholic, and upon paying in ready money the worth of his property if it had not already been sold. These monstrous proposals, drawn up in eleven articles, were immediately carried to the king. He did not reject them, but he demanded and took time to discuss them with the authors. The negotiation was prolonged; the ferment in Paris was redoubled; the king, it was said, meant to withdraw; his person must be secured; the Committee of Sixteen took measures to that end; one of its members got into his hands the keys of the gate of St. Denis. From Soissons, where he was staying, the Duke of Guise sent to Paris the Count of Brissac, with four other captains of the League, to hold themselves in readiness for any event, and he ordered his brother the Duke of Aumale to stoutly maintain his garrisons in the places of Picardy, which the king, it was said, meant to take from him. "If the king leaves Paris," the duke wrote to Bernard de Mendoza, Philip II.'s ambassador in France, "I will make him think about returning thither before he has gone a day's march towards the Picards." Philip II. made Guise an offer of three hundred thousand crowns, six thousand lanzknechts, and twelve hundred lances, as soon as he should have broken with Henry III. "The abscess will soon burst," wrote the ambassador to the king his master.
On the 8th of May, 1588, at eleven P. M., the Duke of Guise set out from Soissons, after having commended himself to the prayers of the convents in the town. He arrived the next morning before Paris, which he entered about midday by the gate of St. Martin. The Leaguers had been expecting him for several days. Though he had covered his head with his cloak, he was readily recognized and eagerly cheered; the burgesses left their houses and the tradesmen their shops to see him and follow him, shouting, "Hurrah! for Guise; hurrah! for the pillar of the church!" The crowd increased at every step. He arrived in front of the palace of Catherine de' Medici, who had not expected him, and grew pale at sight of him. "My dear cousin," said she to him, "I am very glad to see you, but I should have been better pleased at another time." "Madame, I am come to clear myself from all the calumnies of my enemies; do me the honor to conduct me to the king yourself." Catherine lost no time in giving the king warning by one of her secretaries. On receipt of this notice, Henry III., who had at first been stolid—and silent, rose abruptly from his chair. "Tell my lady mother that, as she wishes to present the Duke of Guise to me, I will receive him in the chamber of the queen my wife." The envoy departed. The king, turning to one of his officers, Colonel Alphonso Corso, said to him, "M. de Guise has just arrived at Paris, contrary to my orders. What would you do in my place?" "Sir, do you hold the Duke of Guise for friend or enemy?" The king, without speaking, replied by a significant gesture. "If it please your, Majesty to give me the order, I will this very day lay the duke's head at your feet." The three councillors who happened to be there cried out. The king held his peace. During this conversation at the Louvre, the Duke of Guise was advancing along the streets, dressed in a doublet of white damask, a cloak of black cloth, and boots of buffalo-hide; he walked on foot, bareheaded, at the side of the queen-mother in a sedan-chair. He was tall, with fair clustering hair and piercing eyes; and his scar added to his martial air. The mob pressed upon his steps; flowers were thrown to him from the windows; some, adoring him as a saint, touched him with chaplets which they afterwards kissed; a young girl darted towards him, and, removing her mask, kissed him, saying, "Brave prince, since you are here, we are all saved." Guise, with a dignified air, "saluted and delighted everybody," says a witness, "with eye, and gesture, and speech." "By his side," said Madame de Retz, "the other princes are commoners." "The Huguenots," said another, "become Leaguers at the very sight of him." On arriving at the Louvre, he traversed the court between two rows of soldiers, the archers on duty in the hall, and the forty-five gentlemen of the king's chamber at the top of the staircase. "What brings you hither?" said the king, with difficulty restraining his anger. "I entreat your Majesty to believe in my fidelity, and not allow yourself to go by the reports of my enemies." "Did I not command you not to come at this season so full of suspicions, but to wait yet a while?"
"Sir, I was not given to understand that my coming would be disagreeable to you." Catherine drew near, and, in a low tone, told her son of the demonstrations of which the duke had been the object on his way. Guise was received in the chamber of the queen, Louise de Vaudemont, who was confined to her bed by indisposition; he chatted with her a moment, and, saluting the king, retired without being attended by any one of the officers of the court. Henry III. confined himself to telling him that results should speak for the sincerity of his words.
Guise returned to his house in the Faubourg St. Antoine, still accompanied by an eager and noisy crowd, but somewhat disquieted at heart both by the king's angry reception and the people's enthusiastic welcome. Brave as he was, he was more ambitious in conception than bold in execution, and he had not made up his mind to do all that was necessary to attain the end he was pursuing. The committee of Sixteen, his confidants, and all the staff of the League, met at his house during the evening and night between the 9th and 10th of May, preparing for the morrow's action without well knowing what it was to be, proposing various plans, collecting arms, and giving instructions to their agents amongst the populace. An agitation of the same sort prevailed at the Louvre; the king, too, was deliberating with his advisers as to what he should do on the morrow: Guise would undoubtedly present himself at his morning levee; should he at once rid himself of him by the poniards of the five and forty bravoes which the Duke of Epernon had enrolled in Gascony for his service? Or would it be best to summon to Paris some troops, French and Swiss, to crush the Parisian rebels and the adventurers that had hurried up from all parts to their aid? But on the 10th of May, Guise went to the Louvre with four hundred gentlemen well armed with breastplates and weapons under their cloaks. The king did nothing; no more did Guise. The two had a long conversation in the queen-mother's garden; but it led to no result. On the 11th of May, in the evening, the provost of tradesmen, Hector de Perreuse, assembled the town-council and those of the district-colonels on whom he had reliance to receive the king's orders. Orders came to muster the burgher companies of certain districts, and send them to occupy certain positions that had been determined upon. They mustered slowly and incompletely, and some not at all; and scarcely had they arrived when several left the posts which had been assigned to them. The king, being informed of this sluggishness, sent for the regiment of the French Guards, and for four thousand Swiss cantoned in the outskirts of Paris; and he himself mounted his horse, on the 12th of May, in the morning, to go and receive them at the gate of St. Honord. These troops "filed along, without fife or drum, towards the cemetery of the Innocents." The populace regarded them as they passed with a feeling of angry curiosity and uneasy amazement. When all the corps had arrived at the appointed spot, "they put themselves in motion towards different points, now making a great noise with their drums and fifes, which marvellously astonished the inhabitants of the quarter." Noise provokes noise. "In continently," says L'Estoile, "everybody seizes his arms, goes out on guard in the streets and cantons; in less than no time chains are stretched across and barricades made at the corners of the streets; the mechanic leaves his tools, the tradesman his business, the University their books, the attorneys their bags, the advocates their bands; the presidents and councillors themselves take halberds in hand; nothing is heard but shouts, murmurs, and the seditious speeches that heat and alarm a people." The tocsin sounded everywhere; barricades sprang up in the twinkling of an eye; they were made within thirty paces of the Louvre. The royal troops were hemmed in where they stood, and deprived of the possibility of moving; the Swiss, being attacked, lost fifty men, and surrendered, holding up their chaplets and exclaiming that they were good Catholics. It was thought sufficient to disarm the French Guards. The king, remaining stationary at the Louvre, sent his marshals to parley with the people massed in the thoroughfares; the queen-mother had herself carried over the barricades in order to go to Guise's house and attempt some negotiation with him. He received her coldly, demanding that the king should appoint him lieutenant-general of the kingdom, declare the Huguenot princes incapacitated from succeeding to the throne, and assemble the states-general. At the approach of evening, Guise determined to go himself and assume the conqueror's air by putting a stop to the insurrection. He issued from his house on horseback, unarmed, with a white wand in his hand; he rode through the different districts, exhorting the inhabitants to keep up their barricades, whilst remaining on the defensive and leaving him to complete their work. He was greeted on all sides with shouts of "Hurrah! for Guise!" "You wrong me, my friends," said he; "you should shout, 'Hurrah! for the king!'" He had the French Guards and the Swiss set at liberty; and they defiled before him, arms lowered and bareheaded, as before their preserver. Next morning, May 13, he wrote to D'Entragues, governor of Orleans, "Notify our friends to come to us in the greatest haste possible, with horses and arms, but without baggage, which they will easily be able to do, for I believe that the roads are open hence to you. I have defeated the Swiss, and cut in pieces a part of the king's guards, and I hold the Louvre invested so closely that I will render good account of whatsoever there is in it. This is so great a victory that it will be remembered forever." That same day, the provost of tradesmen and the royalist sheriffs repaired to the Louvre, and told the king that, without great and immediate concessions, they could not answer for anything; the Louvre was not in a condition of defence; there were no troops to be depended upon for resistance, no provisions, no munitions; the investment was growing closer and closer every hour, and the assault might commence at any instant. Henry III. sent his mother once more to the Duke of Guise, and himself went out about four o'clock, dressed in a country suit and scantily attended, as if for a walk in the Tuileries. Catherine found the duke as inflexible as he had been the day before. He peremptorily insisted upon all the conditions he had laid down already, the lieutenant-generalship of the kingdom for himself, the unity of the Catholic faith, forfeiture on the part of the King of Navarre and every other Huguenot prince as heir to the throne, perpetual banishment of the king's favorites, and convocation of the states-general. "The king," he said, "purposes to destroy all the grandees of the kingdom and to harry all those who oppose his wishes and the elevation of his minions; it is my duty and my interest to take all the measures necessary for my own preservation and that of the people." Catherine yielded on nearly every point, at the same time, however, continually resuming and prolonging the discussion. One of the duke's most trusty confidants, Francis de Mainville, entered and whispered in his ear. "Madame," cried the duke, "whilst your Majesty has been amusing me here, the king is off from Paris to harry me and destroy me!" Henry III., indeed, had taken horse at the Tuileries, and, attended by his principal councillors, unbooted and cloakless, had issued from the New gate, and set out on the road to St. Cloud. Equipping him in haste, his squire, Du Halde, had put his spur on wrong, and would have set it right, but, "That will do," said the king; "I am not going to see my mistress; I have a longer journey to make." It is said that the corps on guard at the Nesle gate fired from a distance a salute of arquebuses after the fugitive king, and that a crowd assembled on the other bank of the river shouted insults after him. At the height of Chaillot Henry pulled up, and turning round towards Paris, "Ungrateful city," he cried, "I have loved thee more than my own wife; I will not enter thy walls again but by the breach."
It is said that on hearing of the Duke of Guise's sudden arrival at Paris, Pope Sixtus V. exclaimed, "Ah! what rashness! To thus go and put himself in the hands of a prince he has so outraged!" And some days afterwards, on the news that the king had received the Duke of Guise and nothing had come of it, "Ah, dastard prince! poor creature of a prince, to have let such a chance escape him of getting rid of a man who seems born to be his destruction!" [De Thou, t. x. p. 266.]
When the king was gone, Guise acted the master in Paris. He ordered the immediate delivery into his hands of the Bastille, the arsenal, and the castle of Vincennes. Ornano, governor of the Bastille, sent an offer to the king, who had arrived at Chartres, to defend it to the last extremity. "I will not expose to so certain a peril a brave man who may be necessary to me elsewhere," replied the king. Guise caused to be elected at Paris a new town-council and a new provost of tradesmen, all taken from amongst the most ardent Leaguers. He at the same time exerted himself to restore order; he allowed all royalists who wished to depart to withdraw to Chartres; he went in person and pressed the premier president of Parliament, Achille de Harlay, to resume the course of justice. "It is great pity, sir," said Harlay, "when the servant drives out the master; this assembly is founded (seated) on the fleur-de-lis; being established by the king, it can act only for his service. We will all lose our lives to a man rather than give way a whit to the contrary." "I have been in many battles," said Guise, as he went out, "in assaults and encounters the most dangerous in the world; and I have never been so overcome as at my reception by this personage." At the same time that he was trying to exercise authority and restore order, unbridled violence and anarchy were making head around him; the Sixteen and their friends discharged from the smallest offices, civil or religious, whoever was not devoted to them; they changed all the captains and district-officers of the city militia; they deposed all the incumbents, all the ecclesiastics whom they termed Huguenots and policists; the pulpits of Christians became the platforms of demagogues; the preachers Guiticestre, Boucher, Rose, John Prevost, Aubry, Pigenat, Cueilly, Pelletier, and a host of others whose names have fallen into complete obscurity, were the popular apostles, the real firebrands of the troubles of the League, says Pasquier; there was scarcely a chapel where there were not several sermons a day. "You know not your strength," they kept repeating to their auditors: "Paris knows not what she is worth; she has wealth enough to make war upon four kings. France is sick, and she will never recover from that sickness till she has a draught of French blood given her. . . . If you receive Henry de Valois into your towns, make up your minds to see your preachers massacred, your sheriffs hanged, your women violated, and the gibbets garnished with your members." One of these raving orators, Claude Trahy, provincial of the Cordeliers, devoted himself to hounding on the populace of Auxerre against their bishop, James Amyot, the translator of Plutarch, whom he reproached with "having communicated with Henry III. and administered to him the eucharist;" brother John Moresin, one of Trahy's subalterns, went about brandishing a halberd in the public place at Auxerre, and shouting, "Courage, lads! messire Amyot is a wicked man, worse than Henry de Valois; he has threatened to have our master Trahy hanged, but he will repent it;" and, "at the voice of this madman, there hurried up vine-dressers, boatmen, and marchandeaux (costermongers), a whole angry mob, who were for having Amyot's throat cut, and Trahy made bishop in his stead."
Whilst the blind passions of fanatics and demagogues were thus let loose, the sensible and clear-sighted spirits, the earnest and moderate royalists, did not all of them remain silent and motionless. After the appearance of the letters written in 1588 by the Duke of Guise to explain and justify his conduct in this crisis, a grandson of Chancellor de l'Hospital, Michael Hurault, Sieur du Fay, published a document, entitled Frank and Free Discourse upon the Condition of France, one of the most judicious and most eloquent pamphlets of the sixteenth century, a profound criticism upon the acts of the Duke of Guise, their causes and consequences, and a true picture of the falsehoods and servitude into which an eminent man may fall when he makes himself the tool of a popular faction in the hope of making that faction the tool of his personal ambition. But even the men who were sufficiently enlightened and sufficiently courageous to tell the League and its leader plain truths spoke only rather late in the day, and at first without giving their names; the document written by L'Hospital's grandson did not appear until 1591, after the death of Henry III. and Henry de Guise, and it remained anonymous for some time. One cannot be astonished at such timidity; Guise himself was timid before the Leaguers, and he always ended by yielding to them in essentials, after having attempted to resist them upon such and such an incidental point. His own people accused him of lacking boldness; and his sister, the Duchess of Montpensier, openly patronized the most violent preachers, whilst boasting that she wielded more influence through them than her brother by his armies. Henry III., under stress of his enemies' zeal and his own servants' weakness, Catherine de' Medici included, after having fled from Paris and taken refuge at Chartres to escape the triumph of the Barricades, once more began to negotiate, that is, to capitulate with the League; he issued at Rouen, on the 19th of July, 1588, an edict in eleven articles, whereby he granted more than had been demanded, and more than he had promised in 1585 by the treaty of Nemours; over and above the measures contained in that treaty against the Huguenots, in respect of the present and the future, he added four fresh surety-towns, amongst others Bourges and Orleans, to those of which the Leaguers were to remain in possession. He declared, moreover, "that no investigation should be made into any understandings, associations, and other matters into which our Catholic subjects might have entered together; inasmuch as they have given us to understand and have informed us that what they did was but owing to the zeal they felt for the preservation and maintenance of the Catholic religion." By thus releasing the League from all responsibility for the past, and by giving this new treaty the name of edict of union, Henry III. flattered himself, it is said, that he was thus putting himself at the head of a new grand Catholic League which would become royalist again, inasmuch as the king was granting it all it had desired. The edict of union was enregistered at the Parliament of Paris on the 21st of July. The states-general were convoked for the 15th of October following. "On Tuesday, August 2, his Majesty," says L'Estoile, "being entertained by the Duke of Guise during his dinner, asked him for drink, and then said to him, 'To whom shall we drink?' 'To whom you please, sir,' answered the duke; 'it is for your Majesty to command.' 'Cousin,' said the king, 'drink we to our good friends the Huguenots.' 'It is well said, sir,' answered the duke. 'And to our good barricaders,' said the king; 'let us not forget them.' Whereupon the duke began to laugh a little," adds L'Estoile, "but a sort of laugh that did not go beyond the knot of the throat, being dissatisfied at the novel union the king was pleased to make of the Huguenots with the barricaders." What must have to some extent reassured the Duke of Guise was, that a Te Deum was celebrated at Notre-Dame for the King of Navarre's exclusion from all right to the crown, and that, on the 14th of August Henry de Guise was appointed generalissimo of the royal armies.
The states-general met at Blois on the 16th of October, 1588. They numbered five hundred and five deputies; one hundred and ninety-one of the third estate, one hundred and eighty of the noblesse, one hundred and thirty-four of the clergy. The king had given orders "to conduct each deputy as they arrived to his cabinet, that he might see, hear, and know them all personally." When the five hundred and five deputies had taken their places in the hall, the Duke of Guise went to fetch the king, who made his entry attended by the princes of the blood, and opened the session with the dignity and easy grace which all the Valois seemed to have inherited from Francis I. The Duke of Guise, in a coat of white satin, was seated at the king's feet, as high steward of his household, scanning the whole assembly with his piercing glance, as if to keep watch over those who were in his service. "He seemed," says a contemporary, "by a single flash of his eye to fortify them in the hope of the advancement of his designs; his fortunes, and his greatness, and to say to them, without speaking, I see you." The king's speech was long, able, well delivered, and very much applauded, save by Guise himself and his particular friends; the firmness of tone had displeased them, and one sentence excited in them a discontent which they had found difficulty in restraining: certain grandees of my kingdom have formed such leagues and associations as, in every well-ordered monarchy, are crimes of high treason, without the sovereign's permission. But, showing my wonted indulgence, I am quite willing to let bygones be bygones in this respect. Guise grew pale at these words. On leaving the royal session, he got his private committee to decide that the Cardinal of Guise and the Archbishop of Lyons should go to see the king, and beg him to abandon the printing of his speech, and meanwhile Guise himself sent to the printer's to stop the immediate publication. Discussion took place next day in the king's cabinet; and a threat was held out to him that a portion of the deputies would quit the meeting of states. The queen-mother advised her son to compromise. The king yielded, according to his custom, and gave authority for cutting out the strongest expressions, amongst others those just quoted. "The correction was accordingly made," says M. Picot, the latest and most able historian of the states-general, "and Henry III. had to add this new insult to all that were rankling at the bottom of his heart since the affair of the Barricades."
This was, for the Duke of Guise, a first trial of his power, and great was his satisfaction at this first success. On leaving the opening session of the states-general, he wrote to the Spanish ambassador Mendoza, "I handled our states so well that I made them resolve to require confirmation of the edict of union (of July 21 preceding) as fundamental law of the state. The king refused to do so, in rather sharp terms, to the deputies who brought the representation before him, and from that it is presumed that he inclines towards a peace with the heretics. But, at last, he was so pressed by the states, the which were otherwise on the point of breaking up, that he promised to swear the edict and have it sworn before entering upon consideration of any matter."
The next day but one, in fact, on the 18th of October, at the second session of the states-general, "the edict of July 21 was read and published with the greatest solemnity; the king swore to maintain it in terms calculated to dissipate all anxieties on the part of the Catholics. The deputies swore after him. The Archbishop of Bourges delivered an address on the sanctity of oaths, and those present began to think the session over, when the king rose a second time to recommend the deputies not to leave Blois before the papers were drawn up and the ordinances made. He reminded them that at the last assembly of the states the suggestions and counsels of the three estates had been so ill carried out that, instead of a reformation and an establishment of good laws, everything had been thrown into confusion. Accordingly the king added to this suggestion a solemn oath that he would not budge from the city until he had made an edict, sacred and inviolable. The enthusiasm of the deputies was at its height; a rush took place to the church of St. Sauveur to chant a Te Deum. All the princes were there to give thanks to God. Never were king, court, and people so joyous." The Duke of Guise wrote to the Spanish ambassador, "At length we have, in full assembly of the states, had our edict of union solemnly sworn and established as fundamental law of this realm, having surmounted all the difficulties and hinderances which the king was pleased to throw in the way; I found myself four or five times on the point of rupture: but I was verily assisted by so many good men."
After as well as before the opening of the states-general, the friends of the Duke of Guise were far from having, all of them, the same confidence that he had in his position and in his success. "Stupid owl of a Lorrainer!" said Sieur de Vins, commanding, on behalf of the League, in Dauphiny, on reading the duke's despatches, "has he so little sense as to believe that a king whose crown he, by dissimulating, has been wanting to take away, is not dissimulating in turn to take away his life?" "As they are so thick together," said M. de Vins' sister, when she knew that the Duke of Guise was at Blois with the king, "you will hear, at the very first opportunity, that one or the other has killed his fellow." Guise himself was no stranger to this idea. "We are not without warnings from all quarters that there is a design of attempting my life," he wrote on the 21st of September, 1588: "but I have, thank God, so provided against it, both by the gathering I have made of a good number of my friends, and in having, by presents and money, secured a portion of those whose services are relied upon for the execution of it, that, if once things begin, I shall finish more roughly than I did at Paris."
After the opening of the states-general and the success he obtained thereat, Guise appeared, if not more anxious, at any rate more attentive to the warnings he received. On the 10th of December, 1588, he wrote to Commander Moreo, confidential agent from the King of Spain to him, "You cannot imagine what alarms have been given me since your departure. I have so well provided against them that my enemies have not seen their way to attempting anything. . . . But expenses have grown upon me to such an extent that I have great need of your prompt assistance. . . . I have now so much credit with this assembly that I have hitherto made it dance to my tune, and I hope that as to what remains to be decreed I shall be quite able to maintain the same authority." Some of his partisans advised him to go away for a while to Orleans; but he absolutely refused, repeating, with the Archbishop of Lyons, "He who leaves the game loses it." One evening, in a little circle of intimates, on the 21st of December, a question arose whether it would not be advisable to prevent the king's designs by striking at his person. The Cardinal of Guise begged his brother to go away, assuring him that his own presence would suffice for the direction of affairs: but, "They are in such case, my friend," said the Balafre, "that, if I saw death coming in at the window, I would not consent to go out by the door to avoid it." His cousin, the Duke of Elbeuf, paid him a visit at night to urge him to withdraw himself from the plot hatched against him. "If it were necessary to lose my life in order to reap the proximate fruits of the states' good resolution," said Guise, "that is what I have quite made up my mind to. Though I had a hundred lives, I would devote them all to the service of God and His church, and to the relief of the poor people for whom I feel the greatest pity;" then, touching the Duke of Elbeuf upon the shoulder, he said, "Go to bed, cousin;" and, taking away his hand and laying it upon his own heart, he added, "Here is the doublet of innocence." On the evening of the 22d of December, 1588, when Charlotte de Semblancay, Marchioness of Noirmoutiers, to whom he was tenderly attached, pressed him to depart, or at any rate not to be present at the council next day, the only answer he made her was to hum the following ditty, by Desportes, a poet of the day:—
Henry III. was scarcely less disturbed, but in quite a different way, than the Duke of Guise. For a long time past he had been thinking about getting rid of the latter, just as he had thought for a long time, twenty years before, about getting rid of Admiral de Coligny; but since the date of his escape from the popular rising on the day of the Barricades, he had hoped that, thanks to the adoption of the edict of union and to the convocation of the states-general, he would escape the yoke of the Duke of Guise. He saw every day that he had been mistaken; the League, and consequently the Duke of Guise, had more power than he with the states-general; in vain had the king changed nearly all his ministers; in vain had he removed his principal favorite, the Duke of Epernon, from the government of Normandy to that of Provence; he did not obtain from the states-general what he demanded, that is, the money he wanted; and the states required of him administrative reforms, sound enough at bottom, but suggested by the Duke of Guise with an interested object, and calculated to shackle the kingly authority even more than could be done by Guise himself directly. At the same time that Guise was urging on the states-general in this path, he demanded to be made constable, not by the king any longer, but by the states themselves. The kingship was thus being squeezed between the haughty supremacy of the great lords, substitutes for the feudal regimen, and the first essays of that free government which is nowadays called the parliamentary regimen. Henry III. determined with fear and trembling to disembarrass himself of his two rivals, of the Duke of Guise by assassination, and of the states-general by packing them off home. He did not know how intimately the two great questions of which the sixteenth century was the great cradle, the question of religious liberty and that of political liberty, were connected one with the other, and would be prosecuted jointly or successively in the natural progress of Christian civilization, or through what trials kings and people would have to pass before succeeding in any effectual solution of them.
On the 18th of December, 1588, during an entertainment given by Catherine de' Medici on the marriage of her niece, Christine de Lorraine, with Ferdinand de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, Henry III. summoned to his cabinet three of his most intimate and safest confidants, Marshal d'Aumont, Nicholas d'Angennes, Lord of Rambouillet, and Sieur de Beauvais Nangis. After having laid before them all the Duke of Guise's intrigues against him and the perils of the position in which they placed him, "What ought I to do?" he said; "help me to save myself by some speedy means." They asked the king to give them twenty-four hours to answer in. Next day, the 19th, Sieur de Maintenon, brother of Rambouillet, and Alphonso Corso d'Ornano Were added to the party; only one of them was of opinion that the Duke of Guise should at once be arrested and put upon his trial; the four others were for a shorter and a surer process, that of putting the duke to death by a sudden blow. He is evidently making war upon the king, they said; and the king has a right to defend himself. Henry III., who had his mind made up, asked Crillon, commandant of the regiment of guards, "Think you that the Duke of Guise deserves death?" "Yes, sir." "Very well; then I choose you to give it him." "I am ready to challenge him." "That is not what is wanted; as leader of the League, he is guilty of high treason." "Very well, sir; then let him be tried and executed." "But, Crillon, nothing is less certain than his conviction in a court of law; he must be struck down unexpectedly." "Sir, I am a soldier, not an assassin." The king did not persist, but merely charged Crillon, who promised, to keep the proposal secret. At this very time Guise was requesting the king to give him a constable's grand provost and archers to form his guard in his quality of lieutenant-general of the kingdom. The king deferred his reply. Catherine de' Medici supported the Lorrainer prince's request. "In two or three days it shall be settled," said Henry. He had ordered twelve poniards from an armorer's in the city; on the 21st of December he told his project to Loignac, an officer of his guards, who was less scrupulous than Crillon, and undertook to strike the blow, in concert with the forty-five trusty guards. At the council on the 22d of December, the king announced his intention of passing Christmas in retreat at Notre-Dame de Cleri, and he warned the members of the council that next day the session would take place very early in order to dispose of business before his departure. On the evening of the 22d, the Duke of Guise, on sitting down at table, found under his napkin a note to this effect: "The king means to kill you." Guise asked for a pen, wrote at the bottom of the note, "He dare not," and threw it under the table. Next day, December 23, Henry III., rising at four A. M., after a night of great agitation, admitted into his cabinet by a secret staircase the nine guards he had chosen, handed them the poniards he had ordered, placed them at the post where they were to wait for the meeting of the council, and bade Charles d'Entragues to go and request one of the royal chaplains "to say mass, that God might give the king grace to be able to carry out an enterprise which he hoped would come to an issue within an hour, and on which the safety of France depended." Then the king retired into his closet. The members of the council arrived in succession; it is said that one of the archers on duty, when he saw the Duke of Guise mounting the staircase, trod on his foot, as if to give him warning; but, if he observed it, Guise made no account of it, any more than of all the other hints he had already received. Before entering the council-chamber, he stopped at a small oratory connected with the chapel, said his prayer, and as he passed the door of the queen-mother's apartments, signified his desire to pay his respects and have a few words with her. Catherine was indisposed, and could not receive him. Some vexation, it is said, appeared in Guise's face, but he said not a word. On entering the council-chamber he felt cold, asked to have some fire lighted, and gave orders to his secretary, Pericard, the only attendant admitted with him, to go and fetch the silver-gilt shell he was in the habit of carrying about him with damsons or other preserves to eat of a morning. Pericard was some time gone; Guise was in a hurry, and, "Be kind enough," he said to M. de Morfontaines, "to send word to M. de Saint-Prix [first groom of the chamber to Henry III.], that I beg him to let me have a few damsons or a little preserve of roses, or some trifle of the king's." Four Brignolles plums were brought him; and he ate one. His uneasiness continued; the eye close to his scar became moist; according to M. de Thou, he bled at the nose. He felt in his pocket for a handkerchief to use, but could not find one. "My people," said he, "have not given me my necessaries this morning: there is great excuse for them; they were too much hurried." At his request, Saint-Prix had a handkerchief brought to him. Pericard passed his bonbon-box to him, as the guards would not let him enter again. The duke took a few plums from it, threw the rest on the table, saying, "Gentlemen, who will have any?" and rose up hurriedly upon seeing the secretary of state Revol, who came in and said to him, "Sir, the king wants you; he is in his old cabinet."
As soon as he knew that the Duke of Guise had arrived, and whilst these little incidents were occurring in the council-chamber, Henry III. had in fact given orders to his secretary Revol to go on his behalf and summon the duke. But Nambu, usher to the council, faithful to his instructions, had refused to let anybody, even the king's secretary, enter the hall. Revol, of a timid disposition, and impressed, it is said, with the sinister importance of his commission, returned to the cabinet with a very troubled air. The king, in his turn, was troubled, fearing lest his project had been discovered. "What is the matter, Revol?" said he; "what is it? How pale you are! You will spoil all. Rub your cheeks; rub your cheeks." "There is nothing wrong, sir: only M. de Nambu would not let me in without your Majesty's express command." Revol entered the council-chamber and discharged his commission. The Duke of Guise pulled up his cloak as if to wrap himself well in it, took his hat, gloves, and his sweetmeat-box, and went out of the room, saying, "Adieu, gentlemen," with a gravity free from any appearance of mistrust. He crossed the king's chamber contiguous to the council-hall, courteously saluted, as he passed, Loignac and his comrades, whom he found drawn up, and who, returning him a frigid obeisance, followed him as if to show him respect. On arriving at the door of the old cabinet, and just as he leaned down to raise the tapestry that covered it, Guise was struck five poniard blows in the chest, neck, and reins. "God ha' mercy!" he cried, and, though his sword was entangled in his cloak, and he was himself pinned by the arms and legs and choked by the blood that spurted from his throat, he dragged his murderers, by a supreme effort of energy, to the other end of the room, where he fell down backwards and lifeless before the bed of Henry III., who, coming to the door of his room and asking "if it was done," contemplated with mingled satisfaction and terror the inanimate body of his mighty rival, "who seemed to be merely sleeping, so little was he changed." "My God! how tall he is!" cried the king; "he looks even taller than when he was alive."
"They are killing my brother!" cried the Cardinal of Guise, when he heard the noise that was being made in the next room; and he rose up to run thither. The Archbishop of Lyons, Peter d'Espinac, did the same. The Duke of Aumont held them both back, saying, "Gentlemen, we must wait for the king's orders." Orders came to arrest them both, and confine them in a small room over the council-chamber. They had "eggs, bread, wine from the king's cellar, their breviaries, their night-gowns, a palliasse, and a mattress," brought to them there; and they were kept under ocular supervision for four and twenty hours. The Cardinal of Guise was released the next morning, but only to be put to death like his brother. The king spared the Archbishop of Lyons.
"I am sole king," said Henry III. to his ministers, as he entered the council-chamber; and shortly afterwards, going to see the queen-mother, who was ill of the gout, "How do you feel?" he asked. "Better," she answered. "So do I," replied the king: "I feel much better; this morning I have become King of France again; the King of Paris is dead." "You have had the Duke of Guise killed?" asked Catherine "have you reflected well? God grant that you become not king of nothing at all. I hope the cutting is right; now for the sewing." According to the majority of the historians, Catherine had neither been in the secret nor had anything to do with the preparations for the measure. Granted that she took no active part in it, and that she avoided even the appearance of having any previous knowledge of it; she was not fond of responsibility, and she liked better to negotiate between the different parties than to make her decisive choice between them; prudent tendencies grow with years, and in 1588 she was sixty-nine. It is difficult, however, to believe that, being the habitual confidant of her favorite son, she was ignorant of a design long meditated, and known to many persons many days before its execution. The event once accomplished, ill as she was, and contrary to the advice of her physicians, she had herself carried to the Cardinal of Bourbon's, who was still under arrest by the king's orders, to promise him speedy release. "Ah! madame," said the cardinal, as he saw her enter, "these are some of your tricks; you are death to us all." However it may be, thirteen days after the murder of the Duke of Guise, on the 5th of January, 1589, Catherine de' Medici herself died. Nor was her death, so far as affairs and the public were concerned, an event: her ability was of the sort which is worn out by the frequent use made of it, and which, when old age comes on, leaves no long or grateful reminiscence. Time has restored Catherine de' Medici to her proper place in history; she was quickly forgotten by her contemporaries.
She had good reason to say to her son, as her last advice, "Now for the sewing." It was not long before Henry III. perceived that to be king, it was not sufficient to have murdered his rival. He survived the Duke of Guise only seven months, and during that short period he was not really king, all by himself, for a single day; never had his kingship been so embarrassed and impotent; the violent death of the Duke of Guise had exasperated much more than enfeebled the League; the feeling against his murderer was passionate and contagious; the Catholic cause had lost its great leader; it found and accepted another in his brother the Duke of Mayenne, far inferior to his elder brother in political talent and prompt energy of character, but a brave and determined soldier, a much better man of party and action than the sceptical, undecided, and indolent Henry III. The majority of the great towns of France—Paris, Rouen, Orleans, Toulouse, Lyons, Amiens—and whole provinces declared eagerly against the royal murderer. He demanded support from the states-general, who refused it; and he was obliged to dismiss them. The Parliament of Paris, dismembered on the 16th of January, 1589, by the council of Sixteen, became the instrument of the Leaguers. The majority of the other Parliaments followed the example set by that of Paris. The Sorbonne, consulted by a petition presented in the name of all Catholics, decided that Frenchmen were released from their oath of allegiance to Henry III., and might with a good conscience turn their arms against him. Henry made some obscure attempts to come to an arrangement with certain chiefs of the Leaguers; but they were rejected with violence. The Duke of Mayenne, having come to Paris on the 15th of February, was solemnly received at Notre-Dame, amidst shouts of "Hurrah for the Catholic princes! hurrah for the house of Lorraine!" He was declared lieutenant-general of the crown and state of France. He organized a council-general of the League, composed of forty members and charged with the duty of providing for all matters of war, the finance and the police of the realm, pending a fresh convocation of states-general. To counterbalance in some degree the popular element, Mayenne introduced into it fourteen personages of his own choice and a certain number of magistrates and bishops; the delegates of the united towns were to have seats at the council whenever they happened to be at Paris. "Never," says M. Henry Martin [Histoire de France, t. i. p. 134] very truly, "could the League have supposed itself to be so near becoming a government of confederated municipalities under the directorate of Paris."
There was clearly for Henry III. but one possible ally who had a chance of doing effectual service, and that was Henry of Navarre and the Protestants. It cost Henry III. a great deal to have recourse to that party; his conscience and his pusillanimity both revolted at it equally; in spite of his moral corruption, he was a sincere Catholic, and the prospect of excommunication troubled him deeply. Catholicism, besides, was in a large majority in France: how, then, was he to treat with its foes without embroiling himself utterly with it? Meanwhile the case was urgent. Henry was apprised by one of his confidants, Nicholas de Rambouillet, that one of the King of Navarre's confidants, Sully, who was then only Sieur de Rosny, was passing by Blois on his way to his master; he saw him and expressed to him his "desire for a reconciliation with the King of Navarre, and to employ him on confidential service;" the difficulty was to secure to the Protestant king and his army, then engaged in the siege of Chatellerault, a passage across the Loire. Rosny undertook Henry III.'s commission. He at the same time received another from Sieur de Brigueux, governor of the little town of Beaugency, who said to him, "I see well, sir, that the king is going the right way to ruin himself by timidity, irresolution, and bad advice, and that necessity will throw us into the hands of the League: for my part, I will never belong to it, and I would rather serve the King of Navarre. Tell him that I hold, at Beaugency, a passage over the Loire, and that if he will be pleased to send to me you or M. de Rebours, I will admit into the town him whom he sends to me." Upon receiving these overtures, the King of Navarre thought a while, scratching his head; then he said to Rosny, "Do you think that the king has good intentions towards me, and means to treat with me in good faith?" "Yes, sir, for the present; and you need have no doubt about it, for his straits constrain him thereto, having nothing to look to in his perils but your assistance." He had some dinner brought into his own cabinet for Rosny, and then made him post off at once. On arriving in the evening at Tours, whither Henry III. had fallen back, Rosny was taken to him, about midnight, at the top of the castle; the king sent him off that very night; he consented to everything that the King of Navarre proposed; promised him a town on the Loire, and said he was ready to make with him not a downright peace just at first, but "a good long truce, which, in their two hearts, would at once be an eternal peace and a sincere reconciliation."
When Rosny got back to Chatellerault, "there was nothing but rejoicing; everybody ran to meet him; he was called 'god Rosny,' and one of his friends said to the rest, 'Do you see yon man? By God, we shall all worship him, and he alone will restore France; I said so six years ago, and Villandry was of my opinion.'"
Thus was the way paved and the beginning made, between the two kings, of an alliance demanded by their mutual interests, and still more strongly by the interests of France, ravaged and desolated, for nearly thirty years past, by religious civil wars. Henry of Navarre had profound sympathy for his country's sufferings, an ardent desire to put a stop to them, and at the same time the instinct to see clearly that the day had come when the re-establishment of harmony and common action between himself and Henry de Valois was the necessary and at the same time possible means of attaining that great result. On the 4th of March, 1589, soon after the states of Blois had been dismissed, he set before France, in an eloquent manifesto, the expression of his anxieties and his counsels: "I will speak freely," said he, "to myself first and then to others, that we may be all of us without excuse. Let us not be puffed up with pride on one side or another. As for me, although I have received more favors from God in this than in all past wars, and, whilst the two other parties (how sad that they must be so called!) are enfeebled, mine, to all appearance, has been strengthened, nevertheless I well know that, whenever I go beyond my duty, God will no longer bless me; and I shall do so whenever, without reason and in sheer lightness of heart, I attack my king and trouble the repose of his kingdom. . . . I declare, then, first of all to those who belong to the party of the king my lord, that if they do not counsel him to make use of me, and of the means which God hath given me, for to make war, not on them of Lorraine, not on Paris, Orleans, or Toulouse, but on those who shall hinder the peace and the obedience owed to this crown, they alone will be answerable for the woes which will come upon the king and the kingdom. . . . And as to those who still adhere to the name and party of the League, I, as a Frenchman, conjure them to put up with their losses as I do with mine, and to sacrifice their quarrels, vengeance, and ambition to the welfare of France, their mother, to the service of their king, to their own repose and ours. If they do otherwise, I hope that God will not abandon the king, and will put it into his heart to call around him his servants, myself the first, who wish for no other title, and who shall have sufficient might and good right to help him wipe out their memory from the world and their party from France. . . . I wish these written words to go proclaiming for me throughout the world that I am ready to ask my lord the king for peace, for the repose of his kingdom and for my own. . . . And finally, if I find one or another so sleepy-headed or so ill-disposed that none is moved thereby, I will call God to my aid, and, true servant of my king, worthy of the honor that belongs to me as premier prince of this realm, though all the world should have conspired for its ruin, I protest, before God and before man, that, at the risk of ten thousand lives, I will essay—all alone—to prevent it."
It is pleasing to think that this patriotic step and these powerful words were not without influence over the result which was attained. The King of Navarre set to work, at the same time with Rosny, one, of the most eminent, and with Philip du Plessis-Mornay, the most sterling of his servants; and a month after the publication of his manifesto, on the 3d of April, 1589, a truce for a year was concluded between the two kings. It set forth that the King of Navarre should serve the King of France with all his might and main; that he should have, for the movements of his troops on both banks of the Loire, the place of Saumur; that the places of which he made himself master should be handed over to Henry III., and that he might not anywhere do anything to the prejudice of the Catholic religion; that the Protestants should be no more disquieted throughout the whole of France, and that, before the expiration of the truce, King Henry III. should give them assurance of peace. This negotiation was not concluded without difficulty, especially as regarded the town of Saumur; there was a general desire to cede to the King of Navarre only some place of less importance on the Loire; and when, on the 15th of April, Du Plessis-Mornay, who had been appointed governor of it, presented himself for admittance at the head of his garrison, the royalist commandant, who had to deliver the keys to him, limited himself to letting them drop at his feet. Mornay showed alacrity in picking them up.
On the 29th of April, the two kings had, each on his own behalf, made their treaty public. Henry III. sent word to the King of Navarre that he wished to see him and have some conversation with him. Many of the King of Navarre's friends dissuaded him from this interview, saying, "They are traitors; do not put yourself in their power; remember the St. Bartholomew." This counsel was repeated to him on the 30th of April, at the very moment when he was stepping aboard the boat to cross the Loire and go to pay Henry III. a visit at the castle of Plessis-les- Tours. The King of Navarre made no account of it. "God hath bidden me to cross and see him," he answered: "it is not in the power of man to keep me back, for God is guiding me and crossing with me. Of that I am certain;" and he crossed the river. "It is incredible," says L'Estoile, "what joy everybody felt at this interview; there was such a throng of people that, notwithstanding all efforts to preserve order, the two kings were a full quarter of an hour in the roadway of Plessis park holding out their hands to one another without being able to join them; people climbed trees to see them; all shouted with great vigor and exultation, Hurrah for the king! hurrah for the King of Navarre! hurrah for the kings! At last, having joined hands, they embraced very lovingly, even to tears. The King of Navarre, on retiring in the evening, said, 'I shall now die happy, since God hath given me grace to look upon the face of my king and make him an offer of my services.' I know not if those were his own words; but what is certain is, that everybody at this time, both kings and people, except fanatical Leaguers, regarded peace as a great public blessing, and were rejoiced to have a prospect of it before their eyes. The very day of the interview, the King of Navarre wrote to Du Plessis-Mornay, 'M. du Plessis, the ice is broken; not without numbers of warnings that if I went I was a dead man. I crossed the water, commending myself to God, who, by His goodness, not only preserved me, but caused extreme joy to appear on the king's countenance, and the people to cheer so that never was the like, even shouting, Hurrah for the kings! whereat I was much vexed.'"
Some days afterwards, during the night of May 8, the Duke of Mayenne made an attack upon Tours, and carried for the moment the Faubourg St. Symphorien, which gave Henry III. such a fright that he was on the point of leaving the city and betaking himself to a distance. But the King of Navarre, warned in time, entered Tours; and at his approach the Leaguers fell back. "When the white scarfs appeared, coming to the king's rescue, the Duke of Mayenne and his troops began shouting to them, 'Back! white scarfs; back! Chatillon: we are not set against you, but against the murderers of your father!' meaning thereby that they were set against King Henry de Valois only, and not against the Huguenots. But Chatillon, amongst the rest, answered them, 'You are all of you traitors to your country: I trample under foot all vengeance and all private interests when the service of my prince and of the state is concerned; 'which he said so loudly that even his Majesty heard it, and praised him for it, and loved him for it." The two kings determined to move on Paris and besiege it; and towards the end of July their camp was pitched before the walls.
Great was the excitement throughout Europe as well as France, at the courts of Madrid and Rome as well as in the park of Plessis-les-Tours. A very serious blow for Philip II., and a very bad omen for the future of his policy, was this alliance between Henry de Valois and Henry of Navarre, between a great portion of the Catholics of France and the Protestants. Philip II. had plumed himself upon being the patron of absolute power in religious as well as political matters, and the dominant power throughout Europe in the name of Catholicism and Spain. In both these respects he ran great risk of being beaten by a King of France who was a Protestant or an ally of Protestants and supported by the Protestant influence of England, Holland, and Germany. In Italy itself and in Catholic Europe Philip did not find the harmony and support for which he looked. The republic of Venice was quietly but certainly well disposed towards France, and determined to live on good terms with a King of France, a friend of Protestants or even himself Protestant. And what hurt Philip II. still more was, that Pope Sixtus V. himself, though all the while upholding the unity and authority of the Roman church, was bent upon not submitting to the yoke of Spain, and upon showing a favorable disposition towards France. "France is a very noble kingdom," he said to the Venetian ambassador Gritti; "the church has always obtained great advantages from her. We love her beyond measure, and we are pleased to find that the Signiory shares our affection." Another day he expressed to him his disapprobation of the League. "We cannot praise, indeed we must blame, the first act committed by the Duke of Guise, which was to take up arms and unite with other princes against the king; though he made religion a pretext, he had no right to take up arms against his sovereign." And again: "The union of the King of France with the heretics is no longer a matter of doubt; but, after all, Henry of Navarre is worth a great many of Henry III.; this latter will have the measure he meted to the Guises." So much equity and mental breadth on the pope's part was better suited for the republic of Venice than for the King of Spain. "We have but one desire," wrote the Doge Cicogna to Badoero, his ambassador at Rome, "and that is to keep the European peace. We cannot believe that Sixtus V., that great pontiff, is untrue to his charge, which is to ward off from the Christian world the dangers that threaten it; in imitation of Him whom he represents on earth, he will show mercy, and not proceed to acts which would drive the King of France to despair." During the great struggle with which Europe was engaged in the sixteenth century, the independence of states, religious tolerance, and political liberty thus sometimes found, besides their regular and declared champions, protectors, useful on occasion although they were timid, even amongst the habitual allies of Charles V.'s despotic and persecuting successor.
On arriving before Paris towards the end of July, 1589, the two kings besieged it with an army of forty-two thousand men, the strongest and the best they had ever had under their orders. "The affairs of Henry III.," says De Thou, "had changed face; fortune was pronouncing for him." Quartered in the house of Count de Retz, at St. Cloud, he could thence see quite at his ease his city of Paris. "Yonder," said he, "is the heart of the League; it is there that the blow must be struck. It was great pity to lay in ruins so beautiful and goodly a city. Still, I must settle accounts with the rebels who are in it, and who ignominiously drove me away." "On Tuesday, August 1, at eight A. M., he was told," says L'Estoile, "that a monk desired to speak with him, but that his guards made a difficulty about letting him in. 'Let him in,' said the king: 'if he is refused, it will be said that I drive monks away and will not see them.' Incontinently entered the monk, having in his sleeve a knife unsheathed. He made a profound reverence to the king, who had just got up and had nothing on but a dressing-gown about his shoulders, and presented to him despatches from Count de Brienne, saying that he had further orders to tell the king privately something of importance. Then the king ordered those who were present to retire, and began reading the letter which the monk had brought asking for a private audience afterwards; the monk, seeing the king's attention taken up with reading, drew his knife from his sleeve and drove it right into the king's small gut, below the navel, so home that he left the knife in the hole; the which the king having drawn out with great exertion struck the monk a blow with the point of it on his left eyebrow, crying, 'Ah! wicked monk! he has killed me; kill him!' At which cry running quickly up, the guards and others, such as happened to be nearest, massacred this assassin of a Jacobin who, as D'Aubigne says, stretched out his two arms against the wall, counterfeiting the crucifix, whilst the blows were dealt him. Having been dragged out dead from the king's chamber, he was stripped naked to the waist, covered with his gown and exposed to the public."
Whilst Henry de Valois was thus struck down at St. Cloud, Henry of Navarre had moved with a good number of troops to the Pre-aux-Clercs; and seeing Rosny, who was darting along, pistol in hand, amongst the foremost, he called one of his gentlemen and said, "Maignan, go and tell M. de Rosny to come back; he will get taken or wounded in that rash style." "I should not care to speak so to him," answered Maignan. "I will tell him that your Majesty wants him." Meanwhile up came a gentleman at a gallop, who said three or four words in the King of Navarre's ear. "My friend," said Henry to Rosny, "the king has just been wounded with a knife in the stomach; let us go and see about it; come with me." Henry took with him five and twenty gentlemen. The king received him affectionately, exhorted him to change his religion for his salvation's sake in another world and his fortunes in this; and, addressing the people of quality who thronged his chamber, he said, "I do pray you as my friends, and as your king I order you, to recognize after my death my brother here. For my satisfaction and as your bounden duty, I pray you to swear it to him in my presence." All present took the oath. Henry III. spoke in a firm voice; and his wound was not believed to be mortal. Letters were sent in his name to the queen, to the governors of the provinces and to the princes allied to the crown, to inform them of the accident that had happened to the king, "which, please God, will turn out to be nothing." The King of Navarre asked for some details as to the assassin. James Clement was a young Dominican who, according to report, had been a soldier before he became a monk. He was always talking of waging war against Henry de Valois, and he was called "Captain Clement." He told a story about a vision he had of an angel, who had bidden him "to put to death the tyrant of France, in return for which he would have the crown of martyrdom." Royalist writers report that he had been placed in personal communication with the friends of Henry de Guise, even with his sister the Duchess of Montpensier, and his brother the Duke of Mayenne. When well informed of the facts, the King of Navarre returned to his quarters at Meudon, and Rosny to his lodging at the foot of the castle. Whilst Rosny was at supper, his secretary came and said to him, "Sir, the King of Navarre, peradventure the King of France, wants you. M. d'Orthoman writes to him to make haste and come to St. Cloud if he would see the king alive." The King of Navarre at once departed. Just as he arrived at St. Cloud, he heard in the street cries of "Ah! my God, we are lost!" He was told that the king was dead. Henry III., in fact, expired on the 2d of August, 1589, between two and three in the morning. The first persons Henry of Navarre encountered as he entered the Hotel de Retz were the officers of the Scottish guard, who threw themselves at his feet, saying, "Ah! sir, you are now our king and our master."
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