XLI. LOUIS XIII., CARDINAL RICHELIEU, AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS.
France was reduced to submission; six years of power had sufficed for Richelieu to obtain the mastery; from that moment he directed his ceaseless energy towards Europe. "He feared the repose of peace," said the ambassador Nani in his letters to Venice; "and thinking himself more safe amidst the bustle of arms, he was the originator of so many wars, and of such long-continued and heavy calamities, he caused so much blood and so many tears to flow within and without the kingdom, that there is nothing to be astonished at, if many people have represented him as faithless, atrocious in his hatred, and inflexible in his vengeance. But no one, nevertheless, can deny him the gifts that this world is accustomed to attribute to its greatest men; and his most determined enemies are forced to confess that he had so many and such great ones, that he would have carried with him power and prosperity wherever he might have had the direction of affairs. We may say that, having brought back unity to divided France, having succored Italy, upset the empire, confounded England, and enfeebled Spain, he was the instrument chosen by divine Providence to direct the great events of Europe."
The Venetian's independent and penetrating mind did not mislead him; everywhere in Europe were marks of Richelieu's handiwork. "There must be no end to negotiations near and far," was his saying: he had found negotiations succeed in France; he extended his views; numerous treaties had already marked the early years of the cardinal's power; and, after 1630, his activity abroad was redoubled. Between 1623 and 1642 seventy-four treaties were concluded by Richelieu: four with England; twelve with the United Provinces; fifteen with the princes of Germany; six with Sweden; twelve with Savoy; six with the republic of Venice; three with the pope; three with the emperor; two with Spain; four with Lorraine; one with the Grey Leagues of Switzerland; one with Portugal; two with the revolters of Catalonia and Roussillon; one with Russia; two with the Emperor of Morocco: such was the immense network of diplomatic negotiations whereof the cardinal held the threads during nineteen years.
An enumeration of the alliances would serve, without further comment, to prove this: that the foreign policy of Richelieu was a continuation of that of Henry IV.; it was to Protestant alliances that he looked for their support in order to maintain the struggle against the house of Austria, whether the German or the Spanish branch. In order to give his views full swing, he waited till he had conquered the Huguenots at home: nearly all his treaties with Protestant powers are posterior to 1630. So soon as he was secure that no political discussions in France itself would come to thwart his foreign designs, he marched with a firm step towards that enfeeblement of Spain and that upsetting of the empire of which Nani speaks. Henry IV. and Queen Elizabeth, pursuing the same end, had sought and found the same allies: Richelieu had the good fortune, beyond theirs, to meet, for the execution of his designs, with Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden.
Richelieu had not yet entered the king's council (1624), when the breaking off of the long negotiations between England and Spain, on the subject of the marriage of the Prince of Wales with the Infanta, was officially declared to Parliament. At the very moment when Prince Charles, with the Duke of Buckingham, was going post-haste to Madrid, to see the Infanta Mary Anne of Spain, they were already thinking, at Paris, of marrying him to Henrietta of France, the king's young sister, scarcely fourteen years of age. King James I. was at that time obstinately bent upon his plan of alliance with Spain; when it failed, his son and big favorite forced his hand to bring him round to France. His envoys at Paris, the Earl of Carlisle and Lord Holland, found themselves confronted by Cardinal Richelieu, commissioned, together with some of his colleagues, to negotiate the affair. M. Guizot, in his Projet de Mariage royal (1 vol. 18mo: 1863; Paris, Hachette et Cie), has said that the marriage of Henry IV.'s daughter with the Prince of Wales was, in Richelieu's eyes, one of the essential acts of a policy necessary to the greatness of the kingship and of France. He obtained the best conditions possible for the various interests involved, but without any stickling and without favor for such and such a one of these interests, skilfully adapting words and appearance, but determined upon attaining his end.
The tarryings and miscarriages of Spanish policy had warned Richelieu to make haste. "In less than nine moons," says James I.'s private secretary, James Howell, "this great matter was proposed, prosecuted, and accomplished; whereas the sun might, for as many years, have run his course from one extremity of the zodiac to the other, before the court of Spain would have arrived at any resolution and conclusion. That gives a good idea of the difference between the two nations—the leaden step of the one and the quicksilver movements of the other. It also shows that the Frenchman is more noble in his proceedings, less full of scruple, reserve, and distrust, and that he acts more chivalrously."
In France, meanwhile, as well as in Spain, the question of religion was the rock of offence. Richelieu confined himself to demanding, in a general way, that, in this matter, the King of England should grant, in order to obtain the sister of the King of France, all that he had promised in order to obtain the King of Spain's. "So much was required," he said, "by the equality of the two crowns."
The English negotiators were much embarrassed; the Protestant feelings of Parliament had shown themselves very strongly on the subject of the Spanish marriage. "As to public freedom for the Catholic religion," says the cardinal, "they would not so much as hear of it, declaring that it was a design, under cover of alliance, to destroy their constitution even to ask such a thing of them." "You want to conclude the marriage," said Lord Holland to the queen-mother, "and yet you enter on the same paths that the Spaniards took to break it off; which causes all sorts of doubts and mistrusts, the effect whereof the premier minister of Spain, Count Olivarez, is very careful to aggravate by saying that, if the pope granted a dispensation for the marriage with France, the king his master would march to Rome with an army, and give it up to sack."
"We will soon stop that," answered Mary de' Medici quickly; "we will cut out work for him elsewhere." At last it was agreed that King James and his son should sign a private engagement, not inserted in the contract of marriage, "securing to the English Catholics more liberty and freedom in all that concerns their religion," than they would have obtained by virtue of any articles whatsoever accorded by the marriage treaty with Spain, provided that they made sparing use of them, rendering to the King of England the "obedience owed by good and true subjects; the which king, of his benevolence, would not bind them by any oath contrary to their religion." The promises were vague and the securities anything but substantial; still, the vanity as well as the fears of King James were appeased, and Richelieu had secured, simultaneously with his own ascendency, the policy of France. Nothing remained but to send to Rome for the purpose of obtaining the dispensation. The ordinary ambassador, Count de Bethune, did not suffice for so delicate a negotiation; Richelieu sent Father Berulle. Father Berulle, founder of the brotherhood of the Oratory, patron of the Carmelites, and the intimate friend of Francis de Sales, though devoid of personal ambition, had, been clever enough to keep himself on good terms with Cardinal Richelieu, whose political views he did not share, and with the court of Rome, whose most faithful allies, the Jesuits, he had often thwarted. He was devoted to Queen Mary de' Medici, and willingly promoted her desires in the matter of her daughter's marriage. He found the court of Rome in confusion, and much exercised by Spanish intrigue. "This court," he wrote to the cardinal, "is, in conduct and in principles, very different from what one would suppose before having tried it for one's self; for my part, I confess to having learned more of it in a few hours, since I have been on the spot, than I knew by all the talk that I have heard. The dial constantly observed in this country is the balance existing between France, Italy, and Spain." "The king my master," said Count de Bethune, quite openly, "has obtained from England all he could; it is no use to wait for more ample conditions, or to measure them by the Spanish ell; I have orders against sending off any courier save to give notice of concession of the dispensation: otherwise there would be nothing but asking one thing after another." "If we determine to act like Spain, we, like her, shall lose everything," said Father Berulle. Some weeks later, on the 6th of January, 1625, Berulle wrote to the cardinal, "For a month I have been on the point of starting, but we have been obliged to take so much trouble and have so many meetings on the subject of transcripts and missives as well as the kernel of the business . . . I will merely tell you that the dispensation is pure and simple."
King James I. had died on the 6th of April, 1625; and so it was King Charles I., and not the Prince of Wales, whom the Duke of Chevreuse represented at Paris on the 11th of May, 1625, at the espousals of Princess Henrietta Maria. She set out on the 2d of June for England, escorted by the Duke of Buckingham, who had been sent by the king to fetch her, and who had gladly prolonged his stay in France, smitten as he was by the young Queen Anne of Austria. Charles I. went to Dover to meet his wife, showing himself very amiable and attentive to her. Though she little knew how fatal they would be to her, the king of England's palaces looked bare and deserted to the new queen, accustomed as she was to French elegance; she, however, appeared contented. "How can your Majesty reconcile yourself to a Huguenot for a husband?" asked one of her suite, indiscreetly. "Why not?" she replied, with spirit. "Was not my father one?"
By this speech Henrietta Maria expressed, undoubtedly without realizing all its grandeur, the idea which had suggested her marriage and been prominent in France during the whole negotiations. It was the policy of Henry IV. that Henry IV.'s daughter was bringing to a triumphant issue. The marriage between Henrietta Maria and Charles I., negotiated and concluded by Cardinal Richelieu, was the open declaration of the fact that the style of Protestant or Catholic was not the supreme law of policy in Christian Europe, and that the interests of nations should not remain subservient to the religious faith of the reigning or governing personages.
Unhappily the policy of Henry IV., carried on by Cardinal Richelieu, found no Queen Elizabeth any longer on the throne of England to comprehend it and maintain it. Charles I., tossed about between the haughty caprices of his favorite Buckingham and the religious or political passions of his people, did not long remain attached to the great idea which had predominated in the alliance of the two crowns. Proud and timid, imperious and awkward, all at the same time, he did not succeed, in the first instance, in gaining the affections of his young wife, and early infractions of the treaty of marriage; the dismissal of all the queen's French servants, hostilities between the merchant navies of the two nations, had for some time been paving the way for open war, when the Duke of Buckingham, in the hope of winning back to him the House of Commons (June, 1626), madly attempted the expedition against the Island of Re. What was the success of it, as well as of the two attempts that followed it, has already been shown.
Three years later, on the 24th of April, 1629, the King of England concluded peace with France without making any stipulation in favor of the Reformers whom hope of aid from him had drawn into rebellion. "I declare," says the Duke of Rohan, "that I would have suffered any sort of extremity rather than be false to the many sacred oaths we had given him not to listen to any treaty without him, who had many times assured us that he would never make peace without including us in it." The English accepted the peace "as the king had desired, not wanting the King of Great Britain to meddle with his rebellious Huguenot subjects any more than he would want to meddle with his Catholic subjects if they were to rebel against him." [Memoires de Richelieu, t. iv. p. 421.] The subjects of Charles I. were soon to rebel against him: and France kept her word and did not interfere.
The Hollanders, with more prudence and ability than distinguished Buckingham and Charles I., had done better service to the Protestant cause without ever becoming entangled in the quarrels that divided France; natural enemies as they were of Spain and the house of Austria, they readily seconded Richelieu in the struggle he maintained against them; besides, the United Provinces were as yet poor, and the cardinal always managed to find money for his allies; nearly all the treaties he concluded with Holland were treaties of alliance and subsidy; those of 1641 and 1642 secured to them twelve hundred thousand livres a year out of the coffers of France. Once only the Hollanders were faithless to their engagements: it was during the siege of Rochelle, when the national feeling would not admit of war being made on the French Huguenots. All the forces of Protestantism readily united against Spain; Richelieu had but to direct them. She, in fact, was the great enemy, and her humiliation was always the ultimate aim of the cardinal's foreign policy; the struggle, power to power, between France and Spain, explains, during that period, nearly all the political and military complications in Europe. There was no lack of pretexts for bringing it on. The first was the question of the Valteline, a lovely and fertile valley, which, extending from the Lake of Como to the Tyrol, thus serves as a natural communication between Italy and Germany. Possessed but lately, as it was, by the Grey Leagues of the Protestant Swiss, the Valteline, a Catholic district, had revolted at the instigation of Spain in 1620; the emperor, Savoy, and Spain had wanted to divide the spoil between them; when France, the old ally of the Grisons, had interfered, and, in 1623, the forts of the Valteline had been intrusted on deposit to the pope, Urban VIII. He still retained them in 1624, when the Grison lords, seconded by a French re-enforcement under the orders of the Marquis of Coeuvres, attacked the feeble garrison of the Valteline; in a few days they were masters of all the places in the canton; the pope sent his nephew, Cardinal Barberini, to Paris to complain of French aggression, and with a proposal to take the sovereignty of the Valteline from the Grisons; that was, to give it to Spain. "Besides," said Cardinal Richelieu, "the precedent and consequences of it would be perilous for kings in whose dominions it hath pleased God to permit diversity of religion." The legate could obtain nothing. The Assembly of Notables, convoked by Richelieu in 1625, approved of the king's conduct, and war was resolved upon. The siege of La Rochelle retarded it for two years; Richelieu wanted to have his hands free; he concluded a specious peace with Spain, and the Valteline remained for the time being in the hands of the Grisons, who were one day themselves to drive the French out of it. Whilst the cardinal was holding La Rochelle besieged, the Duke of Mantua had died in Italy, and his natural heir, Charles di Gonzaga, who was settled in France with the title of Duke of Nevers, had hastened to put himself in possession of his dominions. Meanwhile the Duke of Savoy claimed the marquisate of Montferrat; the Spaniards supported him; they entered the-dominions of the Duke of Mantua, and laid siege to Casale. When La Rochelle succumbed, Casale was still holding out; but the Duke of Savoy had already made himself master of the greater part of Montferrat; the Duke of Mantua claimed the assistance of the King of France, whose subject he was; here was a fresh battle-field against Spain; and scarcely had he been victorious over the Rochellese, when the king was on the march for Italy. The Duke of Savoy refused a passage to the royal army, which found the defile of Suza Pass fortified with three barricades.
Marshal Bassompierre went to the king, who was a hundred paces behind the storming party, ahead of his regiment of guards. "'Sir,' said he, 'the company is ready, the violins have come in,'and the masks are at the door; when your Majesty pleases, we will commence the ballet.' 'The king came up to me, and said to me angrily, "Do you know, pray, that we have but five hundred pounds of lead in the park of artillery?" 'I said to him, 'It is a pretty time to think of that. Must the ballet not dance, for lack of one mask that is not ready? Leave it to us, sir, and all will go well.' "Do you answer for it?" said he to me. 'Sir,' replied. the cardinal, 'by the marshal's looks I prophesy that all will be well; rest assured of it.'" [Memoires de Bassompiere.] The French dashed forward, the marshals with the storming party, and the barricades were soon carried. The Duke of Savoy and his son had hardly time to fly. "Gentlemen," cried the Duke to some Frenchmen, who happened to be in his service, "gentlemen, allow me to pass; your countrymen are in a temper."
With the same dash, on debouching from the mountains, the king's troops entered Suza. The Prince of Piedmont soon arrived to ask for peace; he gave up all pretensions to Montferrat, and promised to negotiate with the Spanish general to get the siege of Casale raised; and the effect was that, on the 18th of March, Casale, delivered "by the mere wind of the renown gained by the king's arms, saw, with tears of joy, the Spaniards retiring desolate, showing no longer that pride which they had been wont to wear on their faces,—looking constantly behind them, not so much from regret for what they were leaving as for fear lest the king's vengeful sword should follow after them, and come to strike their death-blow." [Memoires de Richelieu, t. iv. p. 370.]
The Spaniards remained, however, in Milaness, ready to burst again upon the Duke of Mantua. The king was in a hurry to return to France in order to finish the subjugation of the Reformers in the south, commanded by the Duke of Rohan. The cardinal placed little or no reliance upon the Duke of Savoy, whose "mind could get no rest, and going more swiftly than the rapid movements of the heavens, made every day more than twice the circuit of the world, thinking how to set by the ears all kings, princes, and potentates, one with another, so that he alone might reap advantage from their divisions." [Memoires de Richelieu, t. iv. p. 375.] A league, however, was formed between France, the republic of Venice, the Duke of Mantua, and the Duke of Savoy, for the defence of Italy in case of fresh aggression on the part of the Spaniards; and the king, who had just concluded peace with England, took the road back to France. Scarcely had the cardinal joined him before Privas when an imperialist army advanced into the Grisons, and, supported by the celebrated Spanish general Spinola, laid siege to Mantua. Richelieu did not hesitate: he entered Piedmont in the month of March, 1630, to march before long on Pignerol, an important place commanding the passage of the Alps; it, as well as the citadel, was carried in a few days; the governor having asked for time to "do his Easter" (take the sacrament), Marshal Crequi, who was afraid of seeing aid arrive from the Duke of Savoy, had all the clocks in the town put on, to such purpose that the governor had departed and the place was in the hands of the French when the re-enforcements came up. The Duke of Savoy was furious, and had the soldiers who surrendered Pignerol cut in pieces.
The king had put himself in motion to join his army. "The French noblesse," said Spinola, "are very fortunate in seeing themselves honored by the presence of the king their master amongst their armies; I have nothing to regret in my life but never to have seen the like on the part of mine." This great general had resumed the siege of Casale when Louis XIII. entered Savoy; the inhabitants of Chambery opened their gates to him; Annecy and Montmelian succumbed after a few days' siege; Maurienne in its entirety made its submission, and the king fixed his quarters there, whilst the cardinal pushed forward to Casale with the main body of the army. Rejoicings were still going on for a success gained before Veillane over the troops of the Duke of Savoy, when news arrived of the capture of Mantua by the Imperialists. This was the finishing blow to the ambitious and restless spirit of the Duke of Savoy. He saw Mantua in the hands of the Spaniards, "who never give back aught of what falls into their power, whatever justice and the interests of alliance may make binding on them;" it was all hope lost of an exchange which might have given him back Savoy; he took to his bed and died on the 26th of July, 1630, telling his son that peace must be made on any terms whatever. "By just punishment of God, he who, during forty or fifty years of his reign, had constantly tried to set his neighbors a-blaze, died amidst the flames of his own dominions, which he had lost by his own obstinacy, against the advice of his friends and his allies."
The King of France, in ill health, had just set out for Lyons; and thither the cardinal was soon summoned, for Louis XIII. appeared to be dying. When he reached convalescence, the truce suspending hostilities since the death of the Duke of Savoy was about to expire; Marshal Schomberg was preparing to march on the enemy, when there was brought to him a treaty, signed at Ratisbonne, between the emperor and the ambassador of France, assisted by Francis du Tremblay, now known as Father Joseph, perhaps the only friend and certainly the most intimate confidant of the cardinal, who always employed him on delicate or secret business.
But Marshal Schomberg was fighting against Spain; he did not allow himself to be stopped by a treaty concluded with the emperor, and speedily found himself in front of Casale. The two armies were already face to face, when there was seen coming out of the intrenchments an officer in the pope's service, who waved a white handkerchief; he came up to Marshal Schomberg, and was recognized as Captain Giulio Mazarini, often employed on the nuncio's affairs; he brought word that the Spaniards would consent to leave the city, if, at the same time, the French would evacuate the citadel. Spinola was no longer there to make a good stand before the place; he had died a month previously, complaining loudly that his honor had been filched from him; and, determined not to yield up his last breath in a town which would have to be abandoned, he had caused himself to be removed out of Casale, to go and die in a neighboring castle.
Casale evacuated, the cardinal broke out violently against the negotiators of Ratisbonne, saying that they had exceeded their powers, and declaring that the king regarded the treaty as null and void; there was accordingly a recommencement of negotiations with the emperor as well as the Spaniards.
It was only in the month of September, 1631, that the states of Savoy and Mantua were finally evacuated by the hostile troops. Pignerol had been given up to the new Duke of Savoy, but a secret agreement had been entered into between that prince and France: French soldiers remained concealed in Pignerol; and they retook possession of the place in the name of the king, who had purchased the town and its territory, to secure himself a passage into Italy. The Spaniards, when they bad news of it, made so much the more uproar as they had the less foreseen it, and as it cut the thread of all the enterprises they were meditating against Christendom. The affairs of the emperor in Germany were in too bad a state for him to rekindle war, and France kept Pignerol. The house of Austria, in fact, was threatened mortally. For two years Cardinal Richelieu had been laboring to carry war into its very heart. Ferdinand II. had displeased many electors of the empire, who began to be disquieted at the advances made by his power. "It is, no doubt, a great affliction for the Christian commonwealth," said the cardinal to the German princes, "that none but the Protestants should dare to oppose such pernicious designs; they must not be aided in their enterprises against religion, but they must be made use of in order to maintain Germany in the enjoyment of her liberties." The Catholic league in Germany, habitually allied as it was with the house of Austria, did not offer any leader to take the field against her. The King of Denmark, after a long period of hostilities, had just made peace with the emperor; and, "in their need, all these offended and despoiled princes looked, as sailors look to the north," towards the King of Sweden, Gustavus Adolphus.
"The King of Sweden was a new rising sun, who, having been at war with all his neighbors, had wrested from them several provinces; he was young, but of great reputation, and already incensed against the emperor, not so much on account of any real injuries he had received from him as because he was his neighbor. His Majesty had kept an eye upon him with a view of attempting to make use of him in order to draw off, in course of time, the main body of the emperor's forces, and give him work to do in his own dominions." [Memoires de Richelieu, t. v. p. 119.] Through Richelieu's good offices, Gustavus Adolphus had just concluded a long truce with the Poles, with whom he had been for some time at war: the cardinal's envoy, M. de Charnace, at once made certain propositions to the King of Sweden, promising the aid of France if he would take up the cause of the German princes; but Gustavus turned a cold ear to these overtures, "not seeing in any quarter any great encouragement to undertake the war, either in England, peace with the Spaniards being there as good as determined upon, or in Holland, for the same reason, or in the Hanseatic towns, which were all exhausted of wealth, or in Denmark, which had lost heart and was daily disarming, or in France, whence he got not a word on which he could place certain reliance." The emperor, on his side, was seeking to make peace with Sweden, "and the people of that country were not disinclined to listen to him."
God, for the accomplishment of his will, sets at nought the designs and intentions of men. Gustavus Adolphus was the instrument chosen by Providence to finish the work of Henry IV. and Richelieu. Negotiations continued to be carried on between the two parties, but, before his alliance with France was concluded, the King of Sweden, taking a sudden resolution, set out for Germany, on the 30th of May, 1630, with fifteen thousand men, "having told Charnace that he would not continue the war beyond that year, if he did not agree upon terms of treaty with the king; so much does passion blind us," adds the cardinal, "that he thought it to be in his power to put an end to so great a war as that, just as it had been in his power to commence it."
By this time Gustavus Adolphus was in Pomerania, the duke whereof, maltreated by the emperor, admitted him on the 10th of July into Stettin, after a show of resistance. The Imperialists, in their fury, put to a cruel death all the inhabitants of the said city who happened to be in their hands, and gave up all its territory to fire and sword. "The King of Sweden, on the contrary, had his army in such discipline, that it seemed as if every one of them were living at home, and not amongst strangers; for in the actions of this king there was nothing to be seen but inexorable severity towards the smallest excesses on the part of his men, extraordinary gentleness towards the populations, and strict justice on every occasion, all which conciliated the affections of all, and so much the more in that the emperor's army, unruly, insolent, disobedient to its leaders, and full of outrage against the people, made their enemy's virtues shine forth the brighter." [Memoires de Richelieu, t. vi. p. 419.]
Gustavus Adolphus had left Sweden under the impulse of love for those glorious enterprises which make great generals, but still more of a desire to maintain the Protestant cause, which he regarded as that of God. He had assembled the estates of Sweden in the castle of Stockholm, presenting to them his daughter Christina, four years old, whom he confided to their faithful care. "I have hopes," he said to them, "of ending by bringing triumph to the cause of the oppressed; but, as the pitcher that goes often to the well gets broken, so I fear it may be my fate. I who have exposed my life amidst so many dangers, who have so often spilt my blood for the country, without, thanks to God, having been wounded to death, must in the end make a sacrifice of myself; for that reason I bid you farewell, hoping to see you again in a better world." He continued advancing into Germany. "This snow king will go on melting as he comes south," said the emperor, Ferdinand, on hearing that Gustavus Adolphus had disembarked; but Mecklenburg was already in his hands, and the Elector of Brandenburg had just declared in his favor: he everywhere made proclamation, "that the inhabitants were to come forward and join him to take the part of their princes, whom he was coming to replace in possession." He was investing all parts of Austria, whose hereditary dominions he had not yet attacked; it was in the name of the empire that he fought against the emperor.
The diet was terminating at Ratisbonne, and it had just struck a fatal blow at the imperial cause. The electors, Catholic and Protestant, jealous of the power as well as of the glory of the celebrated Wallenstein, creator and commander-in-chief of the emperor's army, who had made him Duke of Friedland, and endowed him with the duchies of Mecklenburg, had obliged Ferdinand II. to withdraw from him the command of the forces. At this price he had hoped to obtain their votes to designate his son King of the Romans; the first step towards hereditary empire had failed, thanks to the ability of Father Joseph. "This poor Capuchin has disarmed me with his chaplet," said the emperor, "and for all that his cowl is so narrow he has managed to get six electoral hats into it." The treaty he had concluded, disavowed by France, did not for an instant hinder the progress of the King of Sweden; and the cardinal lost no time in letting him know that "the king's intention was in no wise to abandon him, but to assist him more than ever, insomuch as he deemed it absolutely necessary in order to thwart the designs of those who had no end in view but their own augmentation, to the prejudice of all the other princes of Europe." On the 25th of January, 1631, at Bernwald, the treaty of alliance between France and Sweden was finally signed. Baron Charnace had inserted in the draft of the treaty the term protection as between France and Gustavus Adolphus. "Our master asks for no protection but that of Heaven," said the Swedish plenipotentiaries; "after God, his Majesty holds himself indebted only to his sword and his wisdom for any advantages he may gain." Charnace did not insist; and the victories of Gustavus Adolphus were an answer to any difficulties.
The King of Sweden bound himself to furnish soldiers,—thirty thousand men at the least; France was to pay, by way of subsidy, four hundred thousand crowns a year, and to give a hundred thousand crowns to cover past expenses. Gustavus Adolphus promised to maintain the existing religion in such countries as he might conquer, "though he said, laughingly, that there was no possibility of promising about that, except in the fashion of him who sold the bear's skin;" he likewise guaranteed neutrality to the princes of the Catholic league, provided that they observed it towards him. The treaty was made public at once, through the exertions of Gustavus Adolphus, though Cardinal Richelieu had charged Charnace to keep it secret for a time.
Torquato Conti, one of the emperor's generals, who had taken Wallenstein's place, wished to break off warfare during the long frosts. "My men do not recognize winter," answered Gustavus Adolphus. "This prince, who did not take to war as a pastime, but made it in order to conquer," marched with giant strides across Germany, reducing everything as he went. He had arrived, by the end of April, before Frankfurt-on-the Oder, which he took; and he was preparing to succor Magdeburg, which had early pronounced for him, and which Tilly, the emperor's general, kept besieged. The Elector of Saxony hesitated to take sides; he refused Gustavus Adolphus a passage over the bridge of Dessau, on the Elbe. On the 20th of May Magdeburg fell, and Tilly gave over the place to the soldiery; thirty thousand persons were massacred, and the houses committed to the flames. "Nothing like it has been seen since the taking of Troy and of Jerusalem," said Tilly in his savage joy. The Protestant princes, who had just been reconstituting the Evangelical Union, in the diet they had held in February at Leipzig, revolted openly, ordering levies of soldiers to protect their territories; the Catholic League, renouncing neutrality, flew to arms on their side; the question became nothing less than that of restoring to the Protestants all that had been granted them by the peace of Passau. The soldiery of Tilly were already let loose on electoral Saxony; the elector, constrained by necessity, intrusted his soldiers to Gustavus Adolphus, who had just received re-enforcements from Sweden, and the king marched against Tilly, still encamped before Leipzig, which he had forced to capitulate.
The Saxons gave way at the first shock of the imperial troops, but the King of Sweden had dashed forward, and nothing could withstand him; Tilly himself, hitherto proof against lead and steel, fell wounded in three places; five thousand dead were left on the field of battle; and Gustavus Adolphus dragged at his heels seven thousand prisoners. "Never did the grace of God pull me out of so bad a scrape," said the conqueror. He halted some time at Mayence, which had just opened its gates to him. Axel Oxenstiern, his most faithful servant and oldest friend, whose intimacy with his royal master reminds one of that between Henry IV. and Sully, came to join him in Germany; he had hitherto been commissioned to hold the government of the conquests won from the Poles. He did not approve of the tactics of Gustavus Adolphus, who was attacking the Catholic League, and meanwhile leaving to the Elector of Saxony the charge of carrying the war into the hereditary dominions of Austria. . . . "Sir," said he, "I should have liked to offer you my felicitations on your victories, not at Mayence, but at Vienna." "If, after the battle of Leipzig, the King of Sweden had gone straight to attack the emperor in his hereditary provinces, it had been all over with the house of Austria," says Cardinal Richelieu; "but either God did not will the certain destruction of that house, which would perhaps have been too prejudicial to the Catholic religion, and he turned him aside from the counsel which would have been more advantageous for him to take, or the same God, who giveth not all to any, but distributeth his gifts diversely to each, had given to this king, as to Hannibal, the knowledge how to conquer, but not how to use victory."
Gustavus Adolphus had resumed his course of success: he came up with Tilly again on the Leek, April 10, 1632, and crushed his army; the general was mortally wounded, and the King of Sweden, entering Augsburg in triumph, proclaimed religious liberty there. He had moved forward in front of Ingolstadt, and was making a reconnaissance in person. "A king is not worthy of his crown who makes any difficulty about carrying it wherever a simple soldier can go," he said. A cannon-ball carried off the hind quarters of his horse and threw him down. He picked himself up, all covered with blood and mud. "The fruit is not yet ripe," he cried, with that strange mixture of courage and fatalism which so often characterizes great warriors; and he marched to Munich, on which he imposed a heavy war-contribution. The Elector of Bavaria, strongly favored by France, sought to treat in the name of the Catholic League; but Gustavus Adolphus required complete restitution of all territories wrested from the Protestant princes, the withdrawal of the troops occupying the dominions of the evangelicals, and the absolute neutrality of the Catholic princes. "These conditions smacked rather of your victorious prince, who would lay down and not accept the law." He summoned to him all the inhabitants of the countries he traversed in conqueror's style: "Surgite d mortuis," he said to the Bavarians, "et venite ad judieium" (Rise from the dead, and come to judgment). Protestant Suabia had declared for him, and Duke Bernard of Saxe-Weimar, one of his ablest lieutenants, carried the Swedish arms to the very banks of the Lake of Constance. The Lutheran countries of Upper Austria had taken up arms; and Switzerland had permitted the King of Sweden to recruit on her territory. "Italy began to tremble," says Cardinal Richelieu; "the Genevese themselves were fortifying their town, and, to see them doing so, it seemed as if the King of Sweden were at their gates; but God had disposed it otherwise."
The Emperor Ferdinand had recalled the only general capable of making a stand against Gustavus Adolphus. Wallenstein, deeply offended, had for a long while held out; but, being assured of the supreme command over the fresh army which Ferdinand was raising in all directions, he took the field at the end of April, 1632. Wallenstein effected a junction with the Elector of Bavaria, forcing Gustavus Adolphus back, little by little, on Nuremberg. "I mean to show the King of Sweden a new way of making war," said the German general. The sufferings of his army in an intrenched camp soon became intolerable to Gustavus Adolphus. In spite of inferiority of forces, he attacked the enemy's redoubts, and was repulsed; the king revictualled Nuremberg, and fell back upon Bavaria. Wallenstein at first followed him, and then flung himself upon Saxony, and took Leipzig; Gustavus Adolphus advanced to succor his ally, and the two armies met near the little town of Lutzen, on the 16th of November, 1632.
There was a thick fog. Gustavus Adolphus, rising before daybreak, would not put on his breastplate, his old wounds hurting him under harness: "God is my breastplate," he said. When somebody came and asked him for the watchword, he answered, "God with us;" and it was Luther's hymn, "Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott" (Our God is a strong tower), that the Swedes sang as they advanced towards the enemy. The king had given orders to march straight on Lutzen. "He animated his men to the fight," says Richelieu, "with words that he had at command, whilst Wallenstein, by his mere presence and the sternness of his silence, seemed to let his men understand that, as he had been wont to do, he would reward them or chastise them, according as they did well or ill on that great day."
It was ten A. M., and the fog had just lifted; six batteries of cannon and two large ditches defended the Imperialists; the artillery from the ramparts of Lutzen played upon the king's army, the balls came whizzing about him; Bernard of Saxe-Weimar was the first to attack, pushing forward on Lutzen, which was soon taken; Gustavus Adolphus marched on to the enemy's intrenchments; for an instant the Swedish infantry seemed to waver; the king seized a pike and flung himself amidst the ranks. "After crossing so many rivers, scaling so many walls, and storming so many places, if you have not courage enough to defend yourselves, at least turn your heads to see me die," he shouted to the soldiers. They rallied: the king remounted his horse, bearing along with him a regiment of Smalandaise cavalry. "You will behave like good fellows, all of you," he said to them, as he dashed over the two ditches, carrying, as he went, two batteries of the enemy's cannon. "He took off his hat and rendered thanks to God for the victory He was giving him."
Two regiments of Imperial cuirassiers rode up to meet him; the king charged them at the head of his Swedes; he was in the thickest of the fight; his horse received a ball through the neck; Gustavus had his arm broken; the bone came through the sleeve of his coat; he wanted to have it attended to, and begged the Duke of Saxe-Altenburg to assist him in leaving the battle-field; at that very moment, Falkenberg, lieutenant-colonel in the Imperial army, galloped his horse on to the king and shot him, point-blank, in the back with a pistol. The king fell from his horse; and Falkenberg took to flight, pursued by one of the king's squires, who killed him. Gustavus Adolphus was left alone with a German page, who tried to raise him; the king could no longer speak; three Austrian cuirassiers surrounded him, asking the page the name of the wounded man; the youngster would not say, and fell, riddled with wounds, on his master's body; the Austrians sent one more pistol-shot into the dying man's temple, and stripped him of his clothes, leaving him only his shirt. The melley recommenced, and successive charges of cavalry passed over the hero's corpse; there were counted nine open wounds and thirteen scars on his body when it was recovered towards the evening.
One of the king's officers, who had been unable to quit the fight in time to succor him, went and announced his fall to Duke Bernard of Saxe-Weimar. To him a retreat was suggested; but, "We mustn't think of that," said he, "but of death or victory." A lieutenant-colonel of a cavalry regiment made some difficulty about resuming the attack: the duke passed his sword through his body, and, putting himself at the head of the troops, led them back upon the enemy's intrenchments which he carried and lost three times. At last he succeeded in turning the cannon upon the enemy, and "that gave the turn to the victory, which, nevertheless, was disputed till night."
"It was one of the most horrible ever heard of," says Cardinal Richelieu; "six thousand dead or dying were left on the field of battle, where Duke Bernard encamped till morning."
When day came, he led the troops off to Weisenfeld. The army knew nothing yet of the king's death. The Duke of Saxe-Weimar had the body brought to the front. "I will no longer conceal from you," he said, "the misfortune that has befallen us; in the name of the glory that you have won in following this great prince, help me to exact vengeance for it, and to let all the world see that he commanded soldiers who rendered him invincible, and, even after his death, the terror of his enemies." A shout arose from the host, "We will follow you whither you will, even to the end of the earth."
"Those who look for spots on the sun, and find something reprehensible even in virtue itself, blame this king," says Cardinal Richelieu, "for having died like a trooper; but they do not reflect that all conqueror-princes are obliged to do not only the duty of captain, but of simple soldier, and to be the first in peril, in order to lead thereto the soldier who would not run the risk without them. It was the case with Caesar and with Alexander, and the Swede died so much the more gloriously than either the one or the other, in that it is more becoming the condition of a great captain and a conqueror to die sword in hand, making a tomb for his body of his enemies on the field of battle, than to be hated of his own and poniarded by the hands of his nearest and dearest, or to die of poison or of drowning in a wine-butt."
Just like Napoleon in Egypt and Italy, Gustavus Adolphus, had performed the prelude, by numerous wars against his neighbors, to the grand enterprise which was to render his name illustrious. Vanquished in his struggle with Denmark in 1613, he had carried war into Muscovy, conquered towns and provinces, and as early as 1617 he had effected the removal of the Russians from the shores of the Baltic. The Poles made a pretence of setting their own king, Sigismund, upon the throne of Sweden; and for eighteen years Gustavus Adolphus had bravely defended his rights, and protected and extended his kingdom up to the truce of Altenmarket, concluded in 1629 through the intervention of Richelieu, who had need of the young King of Sweden in order to oppose the Emperor Ferdinand and the dangerous power of the house of Austria. Summoned to Germany by the Protestant princes who were being oppressed and despoiled, and assured of assistance and subsidies from the King of France, Gustavus Adolphus had, no doubt, ideas of a glorious destiny, which have been flippantly taxed with egotistical ambition. Perhaps, in the noble joy of victory, when he "was marching on without fighting," seeing provinces submit, one after another, without his being hardly at the pains to draw his sword, might he have sometimes dreamed of a Protestant empire and the imperial crown upon his head; but, assuredly, such was not the aim of his enterprise and of his life. "I must in the end make a sacrifice of myself," he had said on bidding farewell to the Estates of Sweden; and it was to the cause of Protestantism in Europe that he made this sacrifice. Sincerely religious in heart, Gustavus Adolphus was not ignorant that his principal political strength was in the hands of the Protestant princes; and he put at their service the incomparable splendor of his military genius. In two years the power of the house of Austria, a work of so many efforts and so many years, was shaken to its very foundations. The evangelical union of Protestant princes was re-forming in Germany, and treating, as equal with equal, with the emperor; Ferdinand was trembling in Vienna, and the Spaniards, uneasy even in Italy, were collecting their forces to make head against the irresistible conqueror, when the battle-field of Lutzen saw the fall, at thirty years of age, of the "hero of the North, the bulwark of Protestantism," as he was called by his contemporaries, astounded at his greatness. God sometimes thus cuts off His noblest champions in order to make men see that He is master, and He alone accomplishes His great designs; but to them whom He deigns to thus employ He accords the glory of leaving their imprint upon the times they have gone through and the events to which they have contributed. Two years of victory in Germany at the head of Protestantism sufficed to make the name of Gustavus Adolphus illustrious forever.
Richelieu had continued the work of Henry IV.; and Chancellor Oxenstiern did not leave to perish that of his master and friend. Scarcely was Gustavus Adolphus dead when Oxenstiern convoked at Erfurt the deputies from the Protestant towns, and made them swear the maintenance of the union. He afterwards summoned to Heilbronn all the Protestant princes; the four circles of Upper Germany (Franconia, Suabia, the Palatinate, and the Upper Rhine), and the elector of Brandenburg alone sent their representatives; but Richelieu had delegated M. de Feuquieres, who quietly brought his weight to bear on the decision of the assembly, and got Oxenstiern appointed to direct the Protestant party; the Elector of Saxony, who laid claim to this honor, was already leaning towards the treason which he was to consummate in the following year; France at the same time renewed her treaty with Sweden and Holland; the great general of the armies of the empire, Wallenstein, displeased with his master, was making secret advances to the cardinal and to Oxenstiern; wherever he did not appear in person the Imperial armies were beaten. The emperor was just having his eyes opened, when Wallenstein, summoning around him at Pilsen his generals and his lieutenants, made them take an oath of confederacy for the defence of his person and of the army, and, begging Bernard of Saxe-Weimar and the Saxon generals to join him in Bohemia, he wrote to Feuquieres to accept the king's secret offers.
Amongst the generals assembled at Pilsen there happened to be Max Piccolomini, in whom Wallenstein had great confidence: he at once revealed to the emperor his generalissimo's guilty intrigues. Wallenstein fell, assassinated by three of his officers, on the 15th of February, 1634; and the young King of Hungary, the emperor's eldest son, took the command-in chief of the army under the direction of the veteran generals of the empire. On the 6th of September, by one of those reversals which disconcert all human foresight, Bernard of Saxe-Weimar and the Swedish marshal, Horn, coming up to the aid of Nordlingen, which was being besieged by the Austrian army, were completely beaten in front of that place; and their army retired in disorder, leaving Suabia to the conqueror. Protestant Germany was in consternation; all eyes were turned towards France.
Cardinal Richelieu was ready; the frequent treasons of Duke Charles of Lorraine had recently furnished him with an opportunity, whilst directing the king's arms against him, of taking possession, partly by negotiation and partly by force, first of the town of Nancy, and then of the duchy of Bar; the duke had abdicated in favor of the cardinal, his brother, who, renouncing his ecclesiastical dignity, espoused his cousin, Princess Claude of Lorraine, and took refuge with her at Florence, whilst Charles led into Germany, to the emperor, all the forces he had remaining. The king's armies were coming to provisionally take possession of all the places in Lothringen, where the Swedes, beaten in front of Nordlingen, being obliged to abandon the left bank of the Upper Rhine, placed in the hands of the French the town of Philipsburg, which they had but lately taken from the Spaniards. The Rhinegrave Otto, who was commanding in Elsass for the confederates, in the same way effected his retreat, delivering over to Marshal La Force Colmar, Schlestadt, and many small places; the Bishop of Basle and the free city of Mulhausen likewise claimed French protection.
On the 1st of November, the ambassadors of Sweden and of the Protestant League signed at Paris a treaty of alliance, soon afterwards ratified by the diet at Worms, and the French army, entering Germany, under Marshals La Force and Breze, caused the siege of Heidelberg to be raised on the 23d of December. Richelieu was in treaty at the same time with the United Provinces for the invasion of the Catholic Low Countries. It was in the name of their ancient liberties that the cardinal, in alliance with the heretics of Holland, summoned the ancient Flanders to revolt against Spain; if they refused to listen to this appeal, the confederates were under mutual promises to divide their conquest between them. France confined herself to stipulating for the maintenance of the Catholic religion in the territory that devolved to Holland. The army destined for this enterprise was already in preparation, and the king was setting out to visit it, when, in April, 1635, he was informed of Chancellor Oxenstiern's arrival. Louis XIII. awaited him at Compiegne. The chancellor was accompanied by a numerous following, worthy of the man who held the command of a sovereign over the princes of the Protestant League; he had at his side the famous Hugo Grotius, but lately exiled from his country on account of religious disputes, and now accredited as ambassador to the King of France from the little queen, Christina of Sweden. It was Grotius who acted as interpreter between the king and the chancellor of Sweden. A rare and grand spectacle was this interview between, on the one side, the Swede and the Hollander, both of them great political philosophers in theory or practice, and, on the other, the all-powerful minister of the King of France, in presence of that king himself. When Oxenstiern and Richelieu conferred alone together, the two ministers had recourse to Latin, that common tongue of the cultivated minds of their time, and nobody was present at their conversation. Oxenstiern soon departed for Holland, laden with attentions and presents: he carried away with him a new treaty of alliance between Sweden and France, and the assurance that the king was about to declare war against Spain.
And it broke out, accordingly, on the 19th of May, 1635. The violation of the electorate of Treves by the Cardinal Infante, and the carrying-off of the elector-archbishop served as pretext; and Louis XIII. declared himself protector of a feeble prince who had placed in his hands the custody of several places. Alencon, herald-at-arms of France, appeared at Brussels, proclamation of war in hand; and, not be able to obtain an interview with the Cardinal Infante, he hurled it at the feet of the Belgian herald-at-arms commissioned to receive him, and he affixed a copy of it to a post he set up in the ground in the last Flemish village, near the frontier. On the 6th of June, a proclamation of the king's summoned the Spanish Low Countries to revolt. A victory had already been gained in Luxembourg, close to the little town of Avein, over Prince Thomas of Savoy, the duke-regnant's brother, who was embroiled with him, and whom Spain had just taken into her service. The campaign of 1635 appeared to be commencing under happy auspices. These hopes were deceived; the Low Countries did not respond to the summons of the king and of his confederates; there was no rising anywhere against the Spanish yoke; traditional jealousy of the heretics of Holland prevented the Flanders from declaring for France; it was necessary to undertake a conquest instead of fomenting an insurrection. The Prince of Orange was advancing slowly into Germany; the Elector of Saxony had treated with the emperor, and several towns were accepting the peace concluded between them at Prague; Bernard of Saxe-Weimar, supported by Cardinal Valette, at the head of French troops, had been forced to fall back to Metz in order to protect Lothringen and Elsass. In order to attach this great general to himself forever, the king had just ceded to Duke Bernard the landgravate of Elsass, hereditary possession, as it was, of the house of Austria. The Prince of Conde was attacking Franche-Comte; the siege of Dole was dragging its slow length along, when the emperor's most celebrated lieutenants, John van Weert and Piccolomini, who had formed a junction in Belgium, all at once rallied the troops of Prince Thomas, and, advancing rapidly towards Picardy, invaded French soil at the commencement of July, 1636. La Capelle and Le Catelet were taken by assault, and the Imperialists laid siege to Corbie, a little town on the Somme four leagues from Amiens.
Great was the terror at Paris, and, besides the terror, the rage; the cardinal was accused of having brought ruin upon France; for a moment the excitement against him was so violent that his friends were disquieted by it: he alone was unmoved. The king quitted St. Germain and returned to Paris, whilst Richelieu, alone, without escort, and with his horses at a walk, had himself driven to the Hotel de Ville right through the mob in their fury. "Then was seen," says Fontenay-Mareuil, "what can be done by a great heart (vertu), and how it is revered even of the basest souls, for the streets were so full of folks that there was hardly room to pass, and all so excited that they spoke of nothing but killing him: as soon as they saw him approaching, they all held their peace or prayed God to give him good speed, that he might be able to remedy the evil which was apprehended."
On the 15th of August, Corbie surrendered to the Spaniards, who crossed the Somme, wasting the country behind them; but already alarm had given place to ardent desire for vengeance; the cardinal had thought of everything and provided for everything: the bodies corporate, from the Parliament to the trade-syndicates, had offered the king considerable sums; all the gentlemen and soldiers unemployed had been put on the active list of the army; and the burgesses of Paris, mounting in throngs the steps of the Hotel de Ville, went and shook hands with the veteran Marshal La Force, saying, "Marshal, we want to make war with you." They were ordered to form the nucleus of the reserve army which was to protect Paris. The Duke of Orleans took the command of the army assembled at Compiegne, at the head of which the Count of Soissons already was; the two princes advanced slowly; they halted two days to recover the little fortress of Roze; the Imperialists fell back; they retired into Artois; they were not followed, and the French army encamped before Corbie.
Winter was approaching; nobody dared to attack the town; the cardinal had no confidence in either the Duke of Orleans or the Count of Soissons. He went to Amiens, whilst the king established his headquarters at the castle of Demuin, closer to Corbie. Richelieu determined to attack the town by assault; the trenches were opened on the 5th of November; on the 10th the garrison parleyed; on the 14th the place was surrendered. "I am very pleased to send you word that we have recovered Corbie," wrote Voiture to one of his friends, very hostile to the cardinal [OEuvres de Voiture, p. 175]: "the news will astonish you, no doubt, as well as all Europe; nevertheless, we are masters of it. Reflect, I beg you, what has been the end of this expedition which has made so much noise. Spain and Germany had made for the purpose their supremest efforts. The emperor had sent his best captains and his best cavalry. The army of Flanders had given its best troops. Out of that is formed an army of twenty-five thousand horse, fifteen thousand foot, and forty cannon. This cloud, big with thunder and lightning, comes bursting over Picardy, which it finds unsheltered, our arms being occupied elsewhere. They take, first of all, La Capelle and Le Catelet; they attack, and in nine days take, Corbie; and so they are masters of the river; they cross it, and they lay waste all that lies between the Somme and the Oise. And so long as there is no resistance, they valiantly hold the country, they slay our peasants and burn our villages; but, at the first rumor that reaches them to the effect that Monsieur is advancing with an army, and that the king is following close behind him, they intrench themselves behind Corbie; and, when they learn that there is no halting, and that the march against them is going on merrily, our conquerors abandon their intrenchments. And these determined gentry, who were to pierce France even to the Pyrenees, who threatened to pillage Paris, and recover there, even in Notre-Dame, the flags of the battle of Avein, permit us to effect the circumvallation of a place which is of so much importance to them, give us leisure to construct forts, and, after that, let us attack and take it by assault before their very eyes. Such is the end of the bravadoes of Piccolomini, who sent us word by his trumpeters to say, at one time, that he wished we had some powder, and, at another, that we had some cavalry coming, and, when we had both one and the other, he took very good care to wait for us. In such sort, sir, that, except La Capelle and Le Catelet, which are of no consideration, all the flash made by this grand and victorious army has been the capture of Corbie, only to give it up again and replace it in the king's hands, together with a counterscarp, three bastions, and three demilunes, which it did not possess. If they had taken ten more of our places with similar success, our frontier would be in all the better condition for it, and they would have fortified it better than those who hitherto have had the charge of it. . . . Was it not said that we should expend before this place many millions of gold and many millions of men with a chance of taking it, perhaps, in three years? Yet, when the resolution was taken to attack it by assault, the month of November being well advanced, there was not a soul but cried out. The best intentioned avowed that it showed blindness, and the rest said that we must be afraid lest our soldiers should not die soon enough of misery and hunger, and must wish to drown them in their own trenches. As for me, though I knew the inconveniencies which necessarily attend sieges undertaken at this season, I suspended my judgment; for, sooth to say, we have often seen the cardinal out in matters that he has had done by others, but we have never yet seen him fail in enterprises that he has been pleased to carry out in person and that he has supported by his presence. I believed, then, that he would surmount all difficulties; and that he who had taken La Rochelle in spite of Ocean, would certainly take Corbie too in spite of Winter's rains. . . . You will tell me, that it is luck which has made him take fortresses without ever having conducted a siege before, which has made him, without any experience, command armies successfully, which has always led him, as it were, by the hand, and preserved him amidst precipices into which he had thrown himself, and which, in fact, has often made him appear bold, wise, and far-sighted: let us look at him, then, in misfortune, and see if he had less boldness, wisdom, and far sightedness. Affairs were not going over well in Italy, and we had met with scarcely more success before Dole. When it was known that the enemy had entered Picardy, that all is a-flame to the very banks of the Oise, everybody takes fright, and the chief city of the realm is in consternation. On top of that come advices from Burgundy that the siege of Dole is raised, and from Saintonge that there are fifteen thousand peasants revolted, and that there is fear lest Poitou and Guienne may follow this example. Bad news comes thickly, the sky is overcast on all sides, the tempest beats upon us in all directions, and from no quarter whatever does a single ray of good fortune shine upon us. Amidst all this darkness, did the cardinal see less clearly? Did he lose his head during all this tempest? Did he not still hold the helm in one hand, and the compass in the other? Did he throw himself into the boat to save his life? Nay, if the great ship he commanded were to be lost, did he not show that he was ready to die before all the rest? Was it luck that drew him out of this labyrinth, or was it his own prudence, steadiness, and magnanimity? Our enemies are fifteen leagues from Paris, and his are inside it. Every day come advices that they are intriguing there to ruin him. France and Spain, so to speak, have conspired against him alone. What countenance was kept amidst all this by the man who they said would be dumbfounded at the least ill-success, and who had caused Le Havre to be fortified in order to throw himself into it at the first misfortune? He did not make a single step backward all the same. He thought of the perils of the state, and not of his own; and the only change observed in him all through was that, whereas he had not been wont to go out but with an escort of two hundred guards, he walked about, every day, attended by merely five or six gentlemen. It must be owned that adversity borne with so good a grace and such force of character is worth more than a great deal of prosperity and victory. To me he did not seem so great and so victorious on the day he entered La Rochelle as then; and the journeys he made from his house to the arsenal seem to me more glorious for him than those which he made beyond the mountains, and from which he returned with the triumphs of Pignerol and Suza."
This was Cardinal Richelieu's distinction, that all his contemporaries, in the same way as Voiture, identified the mishaps and the successes of their country with his own fortunes, and that upon him alone were fixed the eyes of Europe, whether friendly or hostile, when it supported or when it fought against France.
For four years the war was carried on with desperation by land and sea in the Low Countries, in Germany, and in Italy, with alternations of success and reverse. The actors disappeared one after another from the scene; the emperor, Ferdinand II., had died on the 15th of February, 1637;—the election of his son, Ferdinand III., had not been recognized by France and Sweden; Bernard of Saxe-Weimar succumbed, at thirty-four years of age, on the 15th of July, 1639, after having beaten, in the preceding year, the celebrated John van Weert, whom he sent a prisoner to Paris. At his death the landgravate of Elsass reverted to France, together with the town of Brisach, which he had won from the Imperialists.
The Duke of Savoy had died in 1637; his widow, Christine of France, daughter of Henry IV., was, so far as her brother's cause in Italy was concerned, but a poor support; but Count d'Harcourt, having succeeded, as head of the army, Cardinal Valette, who died in 1638, had retaken Turin and Casale from the Imperialists in the campaign of 1640; two years later, in the month of June, 1642, the Princes Thomas and Maurice, brothers-in-law of the Duchess Christine, wearied out by the maladdress and haughtiness of the Spaniards, attached themselves definitively to the interests of France, drove out the Spanish garrisons from Nice and Ivrea, in concert with the Duke of Longueville, and retook the fortress of Tortona as well as all Milaness to the south of the Po. Perpignan, besieged for more than two years past by the king's armies, capitulated at the same moment. Spain, hard pressed at home by the insurrection of the Catalans and the revolt of Portugal at the same time, both supported by Richelieu, saw Arras fall into the hands of France (August 9, 1640), and the plot contrived with the Duke of Bouillon and the Count of Soissons fail at the battle of La Marfee, where this latter prince was killed on the 16th of July, 1641. In Germany, Marshal Guebriant and the Swedish general Torstenson, so paralyzed that he had himself carried in a litter to the head of his army, had just won back from the empire Silesia, Moravia, and nearly all Saxony; the chances of war were everywhere favorable to France, a just recompense for the indomitable perseverance of Cardinal Richelieu through good and evil fortune. "The great tree of the house of Austria was shaken to its very roots, and he had all but felled that trunk which with its two branches covers the North and the West, and throws a shadow over the rest of the earth." [Lettres de Malherbe, t. iv.] The king, for a moment shaken in his fidelity towards his minister by the intrigues of Cinq-Mars, had returned to the cardinal with all the impetus of the indignation caused by the guilty treaty made by his favorite with Spain. All Europe thought as the young captain in the guards, afterwards Marshal Fabert, who, when the king said to him, "I know that my army is divided into two factions, royalists and cardinalists; which are you for?" answered, "Cardinalists, sir, for the cardinal's party is yours." The cardinal and France were triumphing together, but the conqueror was dying; Cardinal Richelieu had just been removed from Ruel to Paris.
For several months past, the cardinal's health, always precarious, had taken a serious turn; it was from his sick-bed that he, a prey to cruel agonies, directed the movements of the army, and, at the same time, the prosecution of Cinq-Mars. All at once his chest was attacked; and the cardinal felt that he was dying. On the 2d of December, 1642, public prayers were ordered in all the churches; the king went from St. Germain to see his minister. The cardinal was quite prepared. "I have this satisfaction," he said, "that I have never deserted the king, and that I leave his kingdom exalted, and all his enemies abased." He commended his relatives to his Majesty, "who on their behalf will remember my services;" then, naming the two secretaries of state, Chavigny and De Noyers, he added, "Your Majesty has Cardinal Mazarin; I believe him to be capable of serving the king." And he handed to Louis XIII. a proclamation which he had just prepared for the purpose of excluding the Duke of Orleans from any right to the regency in case of the king's death. The preamble called to mind that the king had five times already pardoned his brother, recently engaged in a new plot against him.
The king had left the cardinal, but without returning to St. Germain. He remained at the Louvre. Richelieu had in vain questioned the physicians as to how long he had to live. One, only, dared to go beyond commonplace hopes. "Monsignor," he said, "in twenty-four hours you will be dead or cured." "That is the way to speak!" said the cardinal; and he sent for the priest of St. Eustache, his parish. As they were bringing into his chamber the Holy Eucharist, he stretched out his hand, and, "There," said he, "is my Judge before whom I shall soon appear; I pray him with all my heart to condemn me if I have ever had any other aim than the welfare of religion and of the state." The priest would have omitted certain customary questions, but, "Treat me as the commonest of Christians," said the cardinal. And when he was asked to pardon his enemies, "I never had any but those of the state," answered the dying man.
The cardinal's family surrounded his bed; and the attendance was numerous. The Bishop of Lisieux, Cospdan, a man of small wits, but of sincere devoutness, listened attentively to the firm speech, the calm declarations, of the expiring minister. "So much self-confidence appalls me," he said below his breath. Richelieu died as he had lived, without scruples and without delicacies of conscience, absorbed by his great aim, and but little concerned about the means he had employed to arrive at it. "I believe, absolutely, all the truths taught by the church," he had said to his confessor, and this faith sufficed for his repose. The memory of the scaffolds he had caused to be erected did not so much as recur to his mind. "I have loved justice, and not vengeance. I have been severe towards some in order to be kind towards all," he had said in his will, written in Latin. He thought just the same on his death-bed.
The king left him, not without emotion and regret. The cardinal begged Madame d'Aiguillon, his niece, to withdraw. "She is the one whom I have loved most," he said. Those around him were convulsed with weeping. A Carmelite whom he had sent for turned to those present, and, "Let those," he said, "who cannot refrain from showing the excess of their weeping and their lamentation leave the room; let us pray for this soul." In presence of the majesty of death and eternity human grandeur disappears irrevocably; the all-powerful minister was at that moment only this soul. A last gasp announced his departure; Cardinal Richelieu was dead.
He was dead, but his work survived him. On the very evening of the 3d of December, Louis XIII. called to his council Cardinal Mazarin; and next day he wrote to the Parliaments and governors of provinces, "God having been pleased to take to himself the Cardinal de Richelieu, I have resolved to preserve and keep up all establishments ordained during his ministry, to follow out all projects arranged with him for affairs abroad and at home, in such sort that there shall not be any change. I have continued in my councils the same persons as served me then, and I have called thereto Cardinal Mazarin, of whose capacity and devotion to my service I have had proof, and of whom I feel no less sure than if he had been born amongst my subjects." Scarcely had the most powerful kings yielded up their last breath, when their wishes had been at once forgotten: Cardinal Richelieu still governed in his grave.
The king had distributed amongst his minister's relatives the offices and dignities which he had left vacant; the fortune that came to them was enormous; the legacies left to mere domestics amounted to more than three hundred thousand-livres. During his lifetime Richelieu had given to the crown "my grand hotel, which I built, and called Palais-de-Cardinal, my chapel (or chapel-service) of gold, enriched with diamonds, my grand buffet of chased silver, and a large diamond that I bought of Lopez." In his will he adds, "I most humbly beseech his Majesty to think proper to have placed in his hands, out of the coined gold and silver that I have at my decease, the sum of fifteen hundred thousand livres, of which sum I can truly say that I made very good use for the great affairs of his kingdom, in such sort, that if I had not had this money at my disposal, certain matters which have turned out well would have, to all appearances, turned out ill; which gives me ground for daring to beseech his Majesty to destine this sum, that I leave him, to be employed on divers occasions which cannot abide the tardiness of financial forms."
The minister and priest who had destroyed the power of the grandees in France had, nevertheless, the true instinct respecting the perpetuation of families. "Inasmuch as it hath pleased God," he says in his will, "to bless my labors, and make them considered by the king, my kind master, showing recognition of them by his royal munificence, beyond what I could hope for, I have esteemed it a duty to bind my heirs to preserve the estate in my family, in such sort that it may maintain itself for a long while in the dignity and splendor which it hath pleased the king to confer upon it, in order that posterity may know that, as I served him faithfully, he, by virtue of a complete kingliness, knew what love to show me, and how to load me with his benefits."
The cardinal had taken pleasure in embellishing the estate of Richelieu, in Touraine, where he was born, and which the king had raised to a duchy-peerage. Mdlle. de Montpensier, in her Memoires, gives an account of a visit she paid to it in her youth. "I passed," she says, "along a very fine street of the town, all the houses of which are in the best style of building, one like another, and quite newly made, which is not to be wondered at. MM. de Richelieu, though gentlemen of good standing, had never built a town; they had been content with their village and with a mediocre house. At the present time it is the most beautiful and most magnificent castle you could possibly see, and all the ornament that could be given to a house is found there. This will not be difficult to believe if one considers that it is the work of the most ambitious and most ostentatious man in the world, premier minister of state too, who for a long while possessed absolute authority over affairs. It is, nevertheless, inconceivable that the apartments should correspond so ill in size with the beauty of the outside. I hear that this arose from the fact that the cardinal wished to have the chamber preserved in which he was born. To adjust the house of a simple gentleman to the grand ideas of the most powerful favorite there has ever been in France, you will observe that the architect must have been hampered; accordingly he did not see his way to planning any but very small quarters, which, by way of recompense, as regards gilding or painting, lack no embellishment inside.
"Amidst all that modern invention has employed to embellish it, there are to be seen, on the chimney-piece in a drawingroom, the arms of Cardinal Richelieu, just as they were during the lifetime of his father, which the cardinal desired to leave there, because they comprise a collar of the Holy Ghost, in order to prove to those who are wont to misrepresent the origin of favorites that he was born a gentleman of a good house. In this point, he imposed upon nobody."
The castle of Richelieu is well nigh destroyed; his family, after falling into poverty, is extinct; the Palais-Cardinal has assumed the name of Palais-Royal; and pure monarchy, the aim of all his efforts and the work of his whole life, has been swept away by the blast of revolution. Of the cardinal there remains nothing but the great memory of his power and of the services he rendered his country. Evil has been spoken, with good reason, of glory; it lasts, however, more durably than material successes even when they rest on the best security. Richelieu had no conception of that noblest ambition on which a human soul can feed, that of governing a free country, but he was one of the greatest, the most effective, and the boldest, as well as the most prudent servants that France ever had.
Cardinal Richelieu gave his age, whether admirers or adversaries, the idea which Malherbe expressed in a letter to one of his friends: "You know that my humor is neither to flatter nor to lie; but I swear to you that there is in this man a something which surpasses humanity, and that if our bark is ever to outride the tempests, it will be whilst this glorious hand holds the rudder. Other pilots diminish my fear, this one makes me unconscious of it. Hitherto, when we had to build anew or repair some ruin, plaster alone was put in requisition. Now we see nothing but marble used; and, whilst the counsels are judicious and faithful, the execution is diligent and magnanimous. Wits, judgment, and courage never existed in any man to the degree that they do in him. As for interest, he knows none but that of the public. To that he clings with a passion so unbridled, if I may dare so to speak, that the visible injury it does his constitution is not capable of detaching him from it. Sees he anything useful to the king's service, he goes at it without looking to one side or the other. Obstacles tempt him, resistance piques him, and nothing that is put in his way diverts him; the disregard he shows of self, and of all that touches himself, as if he knew no sort of health or disease but the health or disease of the state, causes all good men to fear that his life will not be long enough for him to see the fruit of what he plants; and moreover, it is quite evident that what he leaves undone can never be completed by any man that holds his place. Why, man, he does a thing because it has to be done! The space between the Rhine and the Pyrenees seems to him not field enough for the lilies of France. He would have them occupy the two shores of the Mediterranean, and waft their odors thence to the extremest countries of the Orient. Measure by the extent of his designs the extent of his courage." [Letters to Racan and to M. de Mentin. OEuvres de Malherbe, t. iv.]
The cardinal had been barely four months reposing in that chapel of the Sorbonne which he had himself repaired for the purpose, and already King Louis XIII. was sinking into the tomb. The minister had died at fifty-seven, the king was not yet forty-two; but his always languishing health seemed unable to bear the burden of affairs which had been but lately borne by Richelieu alone. The king had permitted his brother to appear again at court. "Monsieur supped with me," says Mdlle. de Montpensier, "and we had the twenty-four violins; he was as gay as if MM. Cinq-Mars and De Thou had not tarried by the way. I confess that I could not see him without thinking of them, and that in my joy I felt that his gave me a pang." The prisoners and exiles, by degrees, received their pardon; the Duke of Vendome, Bassompierre, and Marshal Vitry had been empowered to return to their castles, the Duchess of Chevreuse and the ex-keeper of the seals, Chateauneuf, were alone excepted from this favor. "After the peace," said the declaration touching the regency, which the king got enregistered by the Parliament on the 23d of April. The little dauphin, who had merely been sprinkled, had just received baptism in the chapel of the Castle of St. Germain. The king asked him, next day, if he knew what his name was. "My name is Louis XIV.," answered the child. "Not yet, my son, not yet," said the king, softly.
Louis XIII. did not cling to life: it had been sad and burdensome to him by the mere fact of his own melancholy and singular character, not that God had denied him prosperity or success. He had the windows opened of his chamber in the new castle of St. Germain looking towards the Abbey of St. Denis, where he had, at last, just laid the body of the queen his mother, hitherto resting at Cologne. "Let me see my last resting-place," he said to his servants. The crowd of courtiers thronged to the old castle, inhabited by the queen; visits were made to the new castle to see the king, who still worked with his ministers; when he was alone, "he was seen nearly always with his eyes open towards heaven, as if he talked with God heart to heart." [Memoires sur la Mort de Louis XIII., by his valet-de-chambre Dubois; Archives curieuses, t. v. p. 428.] On the 23d of April, it was believed that the last moment had arrived: the king received extreme unction; a dispute arose about the government of Brittany, given by the king to the Duke of La Meilleraye and claimed by the Duke of Vendome; the two claimants summoned their friends; the queen took fright, and, being obliged to repair to the king, committed the imprudence of confiding her children to the Duke of Beaufort, Vendome's eldest son, a young scatter-brain who made a great noise about this favor. The king rallied and appeared to regain strength. He was sometimes irritated at sight of the courtiers who filled his chamber. "Those gentry," he said to his most confidential servants, "come to see how soon I shall die. If I recover, I will make them pay dearly for their desire to have me die." The austere nature of Louis XIII. was awakened again with the transitory return of his powers; the severities of his reign were his own as much as Cardinal Richelieu's.
He was, nevertheless, dying, asking God for deliverance. It was Thursday, May 14. "Friday has always been my lucky day," said Louis XIII.: "on that day I have undertaken assaults that I have carried; I have even gained battles: I should have liked to die on a Friday." His doctors told him that they could find no more pulse; he raised his eyes to heaven and said out loud, "My God, receive me to mercy!" and addressing himself to all, he added, "Let us pray!" Then, fixing his eyes upon the Bishop of Meaux, he said, "You will, of course, see when the time comes for reading the agony prayers; I have marked them all." Everybody was praying and weeping; the queen and all the court were kneeling in the king's chamber. At three o'clock, he softly breathed his last, on the sane day and almost at the same moment at which his father had died beneath the dagger of Ravaillac, thirty-three years before.
France owed to Louis XIII. eighteen years of Cardinal Richelieu's government; and that is a service which she can never forget. "The minister made his sovereign play the second part in the monarchy and the first in Europe," said Montesquieu: "he abased the king, but he exalted the reign." It is to the honor of Louis XIII. that he understood and accepted the position designed for him by Providence in the government of his kingdom, and that he upheld with dogged fidelity a power which often galled him all the while that it was serving him.