Read CHAPTER VIII of The Life of Marie de Medicis‚ Vol. 3, free online book, by Julia Pardoe, on


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the Parliament-The Queen-mother forwards a similar protest, and then appeals to the people-A paper war-The garrison is withdrawn from Compiègne-Marie resolves to effect her escape to the Low Countries-She is assured of the protection of Spain and Germany-The Queen-mother secretly leaves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

In order, as he asserted, to protect the interests of France, Richelieu had strictly forbidden all further correspondence between Anne of Austria and her royal brother Philip of Spain; and had further informed her that she would no longer be permitted to receive the Marquis de Mirabel, the Spanish Ambassador, who had hitherto been her constant visitor and the medium of her intercourse with her family. Indignant at such an interference with her most private feelings, Anne revolted against a tyranny which aroused her southern pride; and complaining that the close confinement to which she was subjected at the Louvre had affected her health, she demanded permission to retire to the Val de Grace; a proposal which was eminently grateful to the Cardinal, who desired above all things to separate her from the Queen-mother. She had, however, no sooner left the palace than she caused M. de Mirabel to be apprised of the place of her retreat; at the same time informing him that she should continue to expect his visits, although he must thenceforward make them as privately as possible. In compliance with these instructions, the Ambassador alighted from his carriage at some distance from the Val de Grace, and proceeded on foot to the convent generally towards the dusk of the evening, believing that by these precautions he should be enabled to baffle the vigilance of the watchful minister. He was, however, soon destined to be undeceived, as Richelieu, having ascertained the fact, openly denounced these meetings in the Council, expatiating upon the fatal effects of which they might be productive to France; while Marie de Medicis boldly supported her daughter-in-law, declaring that any minister who presumed to give laws to the wife of his sovereign exceeded his privilege, and must be prepared to encounter her legitimate and authorized opposition.

In this assertion she was, moreover, supported by the Duc d’Orléans, who considered himself aggrieved by the non-performance of the promises made by Richelieu to his favourites. He had, it is true, in his turn pledged himself to the King that he would no longer oppose the measures of the minister; but the pledges of Monsieur were known to be as unstable as water; and his chivalrous spirit was, moreover, aroused by the harsh treatment of his young and beautiful sister-in-law, with whom he passed a great portion of his time. More than once he had surprised her bathed in tears, had listened to the detail of her wrongs, and soothed her sorrows; and, finally, he had vowed to revenge them.

It would appear that on this occasion at least he was in earnest, as on the 1st of January 1631, when the intense cold rendered the outward air almost unendurable, and the Cardinal had remained throughout the whole morning in his easy chair, rolled up in furs, beside a blazing fire, Monsieur was suddenly announced, and immediately entered the apartment, followed by a numerous train of nobles. Richelieu rose in alarm to receive him, for he remembered a previous visit of Monsieur which was as unexpected as the present one, and probably not more threatening.

“To what, Sir,” he asked with a slight tremor in his voice, as he advanced towards the Prince with a profound bow, “am I to attribute the honour of this unexpected favour?”

“To my anxiety to apprise you,” said Gaston without returning his salutation, “that it was contrary to my own inclination that I lately promised you my friendship. I recall that promise, for I cannot keep it to a man of your description, who, moreover, insults my mother.”

As the Prince ceased speaking the nobles by whom he was accompanied laid their hands upon their swords, and the petrified Cardinal stood speechless and motionless before them, unable to articulate a syllable.

“As for myself,” pursued Gaston, “I have too long submitted to your insolence, and you deserve that I should chastise you as I would a lackey. Your priestly robe alone protects you from my vengeance; but beware! You are now warned; and henceforward nothing shall form your security against the chastisement reserved for those who outrage persons of my quality. For the present I shall retire to Orleans, but you will soon hear of me again at the head of an armed force; and then, Monsieur Cardinal, we will decide who shall hold precedence in France, a Prince of the Blood Royal, or a nameless adventurer.”

With this threat, Monsieur turned and left the room, closely followed by the Cardinal, whom he overwhelmed with insult until he had descended the stairs; and even while the pale and agitated minister obsequiously held the stirrup to assist him to mount, he continued his vitupérations; then, snatching at the bridle, he dashed through the gates, and disappeared at full speed with his retinue.

Alarmed at the menacing attitude assumed by the Duc d’Orléans, Richelieu renewed his attempts to conciliate the Queen-mother, not only personally, but also through the medium of those about her. All these efforts, however, proved abortive; and although the King himself deeply and openly resented her resolute estrangement from the Cardinal, by whom he was at this period entirely governed, nothing could induce her to listen to such a proposal; and she was further strengthened in her resolve by the representations of her partisans, who constantly assured her of her popularity with the people, and asserted that they were loud in their denunciations of the weakness of the sovereign, and the tyranny of his minister; while they anticipated from their experience of the past that she would, by maintaining her own dignity, place some curb upon the encroaching ambition of a man who was rapidly undermining the monarchy, and sapping the foundations of the throne.

Having failed in this endeavour, Richelieu resolved no longer to delay his cherished project of effecting the exile of his former benefactress; and as a preliminary measure, he no sooner ascertained that the Duc d’Orléans had indeed retired to his government than he insinuated to Louis that Monsieur had been instigated to this overt act of opposition by the counsels of Marie de Medicis. When reproached with this new offence, the Queen-mother denied that she had encouraged the Prince to leave the capital; bitterly remarking that she was not so rich in friends as to desire the absence of any who still remembered that she was the mother and mother-in-law of the two greatest monarchs in Europe; that she had given one Queen to England, another to Spain, and a female sovereign to Savoy; and that she was moreover the widow of Henry the Great.

Little credence was, however, vouchsafed to these disclaimers; the Cardinal coldly remarking that Gaston never acted save in conformity with her will; and Louis loudly declaring that his brother had been urged to his disobedience entirely by herself, in order to gratify her hatred of his minister.

The struggle continued. Encouraged by her adherents, and calculating on the feeble health of the King, who had never rallied from the severe attack by which he had been prostrated at Lyons, Marie de Medicis still flattered herself that she should ultimately triumph; an opinion in which she was confirmed by the astrologers, in whom, as we have already shown, she placed the most unbounded faith. One of these charlatans had assured her that at the close of the year 1631 she would be more powerful and fortunate than she had ever before been; and she had such perfect confidence in the prophecy that when it was uttered, although at that period surrounded by difficulty and danger, she had replied with a calm and satisfied smile: “That is sufficient. I have therefore now only to be careful of my health.”

The retirement of Monsieur to Orleans tended to strengthen these idle and baseless hopes; and the flatterers of the Queen-mother consequently found little difficulty in persuading her that ere long half the nation would rise to avenge her wrongs; that all the great nobles would rally round the Duc d’Orléans; and that the principal cities, weary of the despotism of Richelieu, would declare in favour of the heir-presumptive, in the event of the King still seeking to support his obnoxious minister.

Misled by these assurances, and consulting only her own passions, Marie de Medicis no longer hesitated. She refused to acknowledge the authority of the Cardinal, not only as regarded her own personal affairs, but also in matters of state; and absented herself from the Council, loudly declaring that her only aim in life hereafter would be to accomplish his ruin. The infatuated Princess had ceased to remember that she was braving no common adversary, and that she was heaping up coals of fire which could not fail one day to fall back upon her own head; for resolute, fearless, and vehement as she was, she had to contend against the first diplomatist of the age, whose whole career had already sufficiently demonstrated that he was utterly uninfluenced by those finer feelings which have so frequently prevented a good man from becoming great. What were to Richelieu the memories of the past? Mere incentives to the ambition of the future. Concini had been his first friend, and he had abandoned him to the steel of the assassin so soon as his patronage had become oppressive. Marie herself had overwhelmed him with benefits, but she had now lost her power, and he, who had won, was resolved to keep it. He had dared to talk of passion to the wife of his sovereign, by whom he had been repulsed, and fearfully had he resented the affront. Such a man was no meet antagonist for the impulsive and imprudent Princess who had now entered the lists against him; and the issue of the conflict was certain.

Richelieu meekly bent his head before the storm of words by which he was assailed, but he did not remain inactive. Having resolved to terminate a rivalry for power which disorganized all his measures and fettered all his movements; and, moreover, to retain the influence which he had acquired over the mind of the weak and indolent monarch; he held long and frequent conferences with the Capuchin Father Joseph, in which it was finally decided that the Cardinal should induce his royal master to exile his mother to Moulins or some other fortified city at a distance from the capital, under a strong guard; and afterwards to surprise Monsieur and take him prisoner, before he should have time to fortify himself in Orleans, or to establish his residence in a frontier province where he could be assisted by the Emperor of Germany or the King of Spain; both of whom were at that moment earnestly endeavouring to foment discord in the French Court, and would not fail to embrace so favourable an opportunity, should time be allowed for the Prince to solicit their aid.

Had Marie de Medicis possessed more caution, Richelieu might well have doubted his power to induce her to leave the capital, where her popularity would have ensured her safety; but he had not forgotten that when he sought to dissuade her from following her son in his Italian campaign, she had resolutely replied: “I will accompany the King wherever he may see fit to go; and I will never cease to demand justice upon the author of the dissensions which now embitter the existence of the royal family.”

Convinced that she would keep her word, and anxious to see her safely beyond the walls of Paris, the Cardinal accordingly began to impress more urgently than ever upon Louis his conviction that a conspiracy had been formed against his authority, if not against his life; and that not only were the Queen-mother and Monsieur involved in this nefarious plot, but also some of the greatest nobles and ladies of the Court. As he had anticipated, the King at once took alarm, and entreated him to devise some method by which he might evade so great a danger.

“Your Majesty may rest assured that I have not neglected so imperative a duty,” replied Richelieu with a calm smile which at once tended to reassure his royal dupe. “If the peril be great, the means of escape are easy. You have only, Sire, to leave Paris, and organize a hunt at Compiègne. The Queen-mother will no doubt follow you thither; in which case we will profit by the opportunity to make her such advantageous offers as may induce her to accede to your wishes, and to separate herself from the cabal; and even in the event of her declining the journey, and remaining in Paris during your absence, we may equally succeed in removing from about her person the individuals who are now labouring to excite her discontent; and this object once attained, there can be little doubt that she will become more yielding and submissive. Monsieur is, as I am informed, about to levy troops in the different provinces, and to provoke a civil war; but he will, as a natural consequence, abandon this project when deprived of the support of the Queen, and will be ready to make his submission when he is no longer in correspondence with her Majesty.”

Louis eagerly acceded to the suggestion of the crafty Cardinal, and desired that preparations might be made for his departure in the course of the ensuing month; expressing at the same time his sense of the service rendered to him by the minister. Richelieu felt the whole extent of his triumph. Once beyond the walls of Paris, Marie de Medicis was in the toils, and her overthrow was assured; while, as he had anticipated, on being informed of the projected journey, she at once declared her determination to accompany the King, and resolutely refused to listen to the exhortations of her friends, by whom she was earnestly dissuaded from leaving the capital.

“You argue in vain,” she said firmly. “If I had only followed the King to Versailles, the Cardinal would now be out of France, or in a prison. May it please God that I never again commit the same error!” In accordance with this decision the Queen-mother accordingly made the necessary preparations; and on the 17th of February the Court set forth for Compiègne, to the great satisfaction of the minister; who, well aware of the impossibility of accomplishing any reconciliation with his indignant mistress, lost no time in entreating Louis to endeavour once more to effect this object. Richelieu desired to appear in the rôle of a victim, while he was in fact the tyrant of this great domestic drama; but the weak sovereign was incompetent to unravel the tangled mesh of his wily policy; and it was therefore with eagerness that he lent himself to this new subterfuge.

Vautier was, as we have stated, not only the physician but also the confidential friend of Marie de Medicis; and the King consequently resolved to avail himself of his influence. He was accordingly summoned to the royal presence, and there Louis expressed to him his earnest desire that the past should be forgotten, and that henceforward his mother and himself might live in peace and amity; to which end he declared it to be absolutely essential that the Queen should forego her animosity to the Cardinal.

“I have faith in your fidelity, Sir,” he said graciously, “and I request of you to urge this upon her Majesty, for I am weary of these perpetual broils. Assure her in my name that if she will consent to my wishes in this respect, and assist as she formerly did at the Council, she will secure alike my affection and my respect. She must, moreover, give a written pledge not to compromise the safety of the state by any political intrigue, and to abandon to my just resentment all such persons as may hereafter incur my displeasure, with the exception only of the members of her immediate household. On these conditions I am ready to forgive and to forget the events of the last few months.”

To this proposition Marie de Medicis replied that her most anxious desire was to live in good understanding with her son and sovereign, but that she could not consent to occupy a seat in the Council with Richelieu, nor to give in writing a pledge for which her royal word should be a sufficient guarantee, as she considered that both the one concession and the other would be unworthy of her dignity as a Queen, and her self-respect as a woman.

Such was precisely the result which had been anticipated by the astute Cardinal, who, as he cast himself at the feet of the King, bitterly inveighed against the inflexibility of Marie, and renewed his entreaties that he might be permitted to resign office, and to withdraw for ever from a Court where he had been so unhappy as to cause dissension between the two persons whom he most loved and honoured upon earth. This was the favourite expedient of Richelieu, who always saw the pale cheek of Louis become yet paler under the threat; and on the present occasion it was even more successful than usual. Ever ready to credit the most extravagant reports when they involved his personal safety, the King looked upon the Cardinal as the only barrier between himself and assassination; and impressed with this conviction, he raised him up, embraced him fervently, and assured him that no consideration should ever induce him to dispense with his services; that the enemies of Richelieu were his enemies; the friends of Richelieu his friends; and that he held himself indebted to his devotion not only for his throne, but for his life. The minister received his acknowledgments with well-acted humility; and encouraged by the success of his first attempt, resolved to profit by the opportunity thus afforded him for completing the work of vengeance which he had so skilfully commenced. He consequently declared that it was with reluctance he was compelled to admit that although by the gracious consent of his Majesty to adopt the measures which he had formerly proposed, the peril at which he had hinted had been greatly lessened, it was nevertheless essential to prevent the reorganization of so dangerous a cabal; and that in order to do this effectually it became imperative upon the King to arrest, and even to exile, certain individuals who had been involved in the intrigue.

At that moment Louis, who considered that he had been delivered from almost certain destruction through the perspicacity and zeal of his minister, felt no disposition to dissent from any of his views, and he unhesitatingly expressed his readiness to sanction whatever measures he might deem necessary; upon which Richelieu, without further preamble, laid before him the list of his intended victims. At the head of these figured Bassompierre, whose recent abandonment the vindictive Cardinal had not forgotten, and the two Marillacs. The Abbe de Foix and the physician Vautier, both of whom were in the confidence of the Queen-mother, were also destined to expiate their fidelity to her cause in the Bastille; while the Princesse de Conti and the Duchesses d’Elboeuf, d’Ornano, de Lesdiguieres, and de Roannois, all of whom were her fast friends, were sentenced to banishment; and it was further decided that, on his departure from Compiègne, the King should leave his mother in that city under the guard of the Marechal d’Estrees, at the head of nearly a thousand men, exclusive of fifty gendarmes and as many light-horse; and that he should be accompanied to the capital by Anne of Austria, in order to separate her from the Queen-mother.

The situation of Marie de Medicis was desperate. Day after day she solicited a private interview with the monarch, and on every occasion of their meeting she found Richelieu in the royal closet, invulnerable alike to her disdain and to her sarcasm. One word from the King would of course have compelled him to withdraw, but that word was never uttered; for with the timidity inherent to a weak mind, Louis dreaded to be left alone with his destined victim. Bigoted and superstitious, he had his moments of remorse, in which his conscience reproached him for the crime of which he was about to render himself guilty towards the author of his existence; but these qualms assailed him only during the absence of his minister, and thus he overcame them by the constant companionship of the stronger spirit by whom he was ruled. Unable to act of himself, the purple robes of the Cardinal were his safeguard and his refuge; nor was Richelieu unwilling to accept the responsibility thus thrust upon him. His Eminence had no scruples, no weaknesses, no misgivings; he knew his power, and he exercised it without shrinking. Had the unhappy Queen been permitted only a few hours of undisturbed communion with her son, it is probable that she might have awakened even in his selfish bosom other and better feelings; she might have taught him to listen to the voice of nature and of conscience; the mother’s heart might have triumphed over the statesman’s head; but no such opportunity was afforded to her; and while she was still making fruitless efforts to attain her object, the King, at the instigation of the Cardinal, summoned a privy council, at which Chateauneuf, the new Keeper of the Seals and the tool of Richelieu, openly accused her not only of ingratitude to the monarch, but also of conducting a secret correspondence with the Spanish Cabinet, and of having induced Monsieur to leave the country; and concluded by declaring that stringent measures should be adopted against her.

When desired to declare his opinion on this difficult question, Richelieu at first affected great unwillingness to interfere, alleging that he was personally interested in the result; but the King having commanded him to speak, he threw off all restraint, and represented the Queen-mother as the focus of all the intrigues both foreign and domestic by which the nation was convulsed; together with the utter impossibility of ensuring the safety of the King so long as she remained at liberty to pursue the policy which she had seen fit to adopt, alike against the sovereign and the state. In conclusion, he emphatically reminded his hearers that weak remedies only tended to aggravate great evils, which latter on the contrary were overcome by those proportioned to their magnitude; and that consequently, at such a crisis as that under consideration, there was but one alternative: either to effect a peace with foreign powers on sure and honourable terms, or to conciliate the Queen-mother and the Duc d’Orléans; either to dismiss himself from office, or to remove from about the person of the Queen the individuals by whom she was instigated to opposition against the will of the King and the welfare of the state; and to beg of her to absent herself for some time from the Court, lest, without desiring to do so, she should by her presence induce a continuance of the disorder which it was the object of all loyal subjects to suppress. He then craftily insisted upon the peculiar character of Marie herself, whom he painted in the most odious colours. He declared her to be false and revengeful; qualities which he attributed to her Italian origin, and to her descent from the Medici, who never forgave an injury; and, finally, he stated that all which they had to decide was whether it would be most advantageous for the King to dismiss from office a minister who had unfortunately become obnoxious to the whole of the royal family, in order to secure peace in his domestic circle, or to exile the Queen-mother and those who encouraged her in her animosity against him. As regarded himself, he said proudly, that could his absence from the Court tend to heal the existing dissensions, he was ready to depart upon the instant, and should do so without hesitation or remonstrance; but that it remained to be seen if his retirement would suffice to satisfy the malcontents; or whether they would not, by involving others in his overthrow, endeavour to possess themselves of the supreme authority.

This insinuation, insolent as it was (for it intimated no less than the utter incapacity of Louis to uphold his own prerogative, and the probability that Richelieu once removed, Marie de Medicis would resume all her former power), produced a visible effect upon the King.

“My conviction is therefore,” concluded the Cardinal, “that his Majesty should annihilate the faction sanctioned by the Queen-mother, by requesting her to retire to a distance from the capital, and by removing from about her person the evil counsellors who have instigated her to rebellion; but that this should be done with great consideration, and with all possible respect. And as by these means the cabal would be dispersed, and my colleagues in the ministry be thus enabled once more to serve the sovereign and the state in perfect security, I humbly solicit of his Majesty the royal permission to tender my resignation.”

This climax, as usual, instantly decided Louis XIII, although as a necessary form he demanded the collective opinion of the Council; who, one and all, represented the retirement of the Cardinal from office as an expedient at once dangerous and impracticable. The die was cast; and after a few vague and puerile expressions of regret at the necessity thus forced upon him of once more separating himself from his mother, Louis pronounced the banishment of Marie de Medicis from the Court, and then retired from the hall leaning upon the arm of Richelieu, who found little difficulty in convincing him of the expediency of taking his departure before his intention became known to the ill-fated Queen.

This advice was peculiarly welcome to the cowardly King, who dreaded above all things the reproaches and tears of his widowed and outraged mother; and accordingly, on the 23rd of February, he was on foot at three in the morning; and had no sooner completed his toilet than he sent to desire the presence of the Jesuit Suffren, his confessor.

“When the Queen my mother shall have awoke,” he said hurriedly, “do not fail to inform her that I regret to take my departure without seeing her; and that in a few days I will acquaint her with my wishes.”

Such was his last greeting to the unhappy Princess, who had gone to rest without one suspicion that on the morrow she should find herself a prisoner, abandoned by her son, and bereft of her dearest friends; and meanwhile another scene was taking place in a distant wing of the palace, which has been so graphically described by Madame de Motteville that we shall transcribe it in her own words:

“At daybreak some one knocked loudly at the door of the Queen’s chamber. On hearing this noise, Anne of Austria, whom it had awakened, called her women, and inquired whether it was the King who demanded admittance, as he was the only individual who was entitled to take so great a liberty. While giving this order she drew back the curtain of her bed, and perceiving with alarm that it was scarcely light, a vague sentiment of terror took possession of her mind. As she was always doubtful, and with great reason, of the King’s feeling towards her, she persuaded herself that she was about to receive some fatal intelligence, and felt assured that the least evil which she had to apprehend was her exile from France. Regarding this moment, therefore, as one which must decide the whole of her future destiny, she endeavoured to recall her self-possession in order to meet the blow with becoming courage ... and when the first shock of her terror had passed by, she determined to receive submissively whatever trial Heaven might see fit to inflict upon her. She consequently commanded that the door of her apartment should be opened; and as her first femme de chambre announced that the person who demanded admittance was the Keeper of the Seals, who had been entrusted with a message to her Majesty from the King, she became convinced that her fears had not deceived her. This apprehension was, however, dispelled by the address of the envoy, who merely informed the Queen that her royal consort desired to make known to her that, for certain reasons of state, he found himself compelled to leave his mother at Compiègne under the guard of the Marechal d’Estrees; that he begged her instantly to rise; to abstain from again seeing the ex-Regent; and to join him without loss of time at the Capuchin Convent, whither he had already proceeded, and where he should await her coming.

“Anne of Austria, although alike distressed and amazed by this intelligence, made no comment upon so extraordinary a communication; but after having briefly expressed her readiness to obey the command of the King, she left her bed; and while doing so, despatched the Marquise de Senecay, her lady of honour, to tell the unfortunate Marie de Medicis that she was anxious to see her, as she had an affair of importance to reveal; while for certain reasons she could not venture to her apartment until she had herself sent to request her to do so. The Queen-mother, who knew nothing of the resolution which had been taken, but who was in hourly apprehension of a renewal of her former sufferings, did not lose a moment in profiting by the suggestion; and Anne of Austria had no sooner received the expected summons than she threw on a dressing-gown and hurried to the chamber of her royal relative, whom she found seated in her bed, and clasping her knees with her hands in a state of bewildered agitation. On the entrance of her daughter-in-law, the unhappy Princess exclaimed in a tone of anguish:

“Ah! my daughter, I am then to die or be made a prisoner. Is the King about to leave me here? What does he intend to do with me?’

“Anne of Austria, bathed in tears, could only reply by throwing herself into the arms of the helpless victim; and for a while they wept together in silence.

“The wife of Louis had, however, little time to spend in speechless sympathy, and ere long she communicated to Marie de Medicis the cruel resolution of the King, and conjured her to bear her banishment with patience until they should be revenged upon their common enemy, the Cardinal. They then parted with mutual expressions of sympathy and affection; and, as it ultimately proved, they never met again.”

During the course of this brief and melancholy interview, the young Queen, with the assistance of her royal mother-in-law, completed her toilet; and then after their hurried leavetaking hastened to rejoin the King, who had already evinced great impatience at her delay. But however consoled she might have been by her own escape on this occasion, Anne of Austria was nevertheless condemned to suffer her share of humiliation, for she had no sooner reached the Convent than Louis formally presented to her Madame de la Flotte as her First Lady of Honour, and her grand-daughter Mademoiselle de Hautefort as her next attendant; while upon her expressing her astonishment at such an arrangement, she was informed that the Comtesse du Fargis, who was replaced by Madame de la Flotte, had been banished from the Court, and that other great ladies had shared the same fate.

The will of Richelieu had indeed proved omnipotent. Not one of those whom he had doomed to disgrace was suffered to escape without submitting to humiliations degrading to their rank. The unfortunate Princesse de Conti, the sister of the Duc de Guise, whose only crime was her attachment to her royal mistress, and her love for Bassompierre, was exiled to Eu; where her separation from the Queen, and the imprisonment of the Marechal, so preyed upon her mind that she died within two months of a broken heart; while all was alarm and consternation in the capital, where the greatest and the proudest in the land trembled alike for their lives and for their liberties.

Of all the victims of the Cardinal the Queen-mother was, however, the most wretched and the most hopeless. So soon as Anne of Austria had quitted her apartment, feeling herself overcome by the suddenness of the shock to which she had been subjected, she caused her physician M. Vautier to be summoned, and was abruptly informed that he had been arrested, and conveyed a prisoner to Senlis.

“Another!” she murmured piteously. “Another in whom I might have found help and comfort. But all who love me are condemned; and Richelieu triumphs! My history is written in tears and blood. Heaven grant me patience, for I am indeed an uncrowned Queen, and a childless mother.”

Her lamentations were interrupted by the announcement of the Marechal d’Estrees, who having been admitted, communicated to her the will of the King that she should await his further orders at Compiègne.

“Say rather, M. Marechal,” she exclaimed with a burst of her habitual impetuosity, “that I am henceforth a prisoner, and that you have been promoted to the proud office of a woman’s gaoler. What are the next commands which I am to be called on to obey? What is to be my ultimate fate? Speak boldly. There is some new misfortune in reserve, but I shall not shrink. ’While others suffer for me, I shall find courage to suffer for myself.” “His Majesty, Madame, will doubtless inform you-” commenced the mortified noble.

“So be it then, M. Marechal,” said Marie haughtily, as she motioned him to retire; “I will await the orders of the King.”

Those orders were not long delayed, for on the ensuing morning the Comte de Brienne presented to the imprisoned Princess an autograph letter from Louis XIII, of which the following were the contents:

“I left Compiègne, Madame, without taking leave of you in order to avoid the annoyance of making a personal request which might have caused you some displeasure. I desired to entreat you to retire for a time to the fortress of Moulins, which you had yourself selected as your residence after the death of the late King. Conformably to your marriage contract, you would there, Madame and mother, be at perfect liberty; both yourself and your household. Your absence causes me sincere regret, but the welfare of my kingdom compels me to separate myself from you.


As M. de Brienne had received orders to hold no intercourse with the royal captive save in the presence of the Marechal d’Estrees, it was to the latter noble that Marie de Medicis addressed herself when she had read the cold and heartless letter of her son.

“So, Sir,” she exclaimed vehemently, “the King commands me to remove to Moulins! How have I been so unfortunate as to incur his displeasure without having done anything to excite it? Why am I deprived of my physician and the gentlemen of my household? If the King desires to shorten my days he has only to keep me in captivity. It is strange that being the mother of the sovereign I am subjected to the will of his servants; but God will grant me justice. These are not the wishes of my son, but I am the victim of the hatred and persecution of the Cardinal. I know,” she pursued, weeping bitterly, “why I am sent to Moulins; it is because it would be easy from that city to compel my departure for Italy; but rest assured, Marechal d’Estrees, that I will sooner be dragged naked from my bed than give my consent to such a measure.”

“Madame,” interposed the Comte de Brienne, “had there been any intention to treat you with disrespect, it could have been done with as much facility at Compiègne as at Moulins. I entreat of your Majesty to reflect before you give us your final answer.”

Marie profited by this advice; and the result of her deliberations was a determination to make a final effort towards a reconciliation with the King. In the letter which she addressed to him she declared that it was her most anxious desire to merit his favour, and to conform to his wishes. She besought him to remember that she was his mother; to recall all the exertions which she had made for the welfare and preservation of his kingdom; and finally she urged him to disregard the counsels of the Cardinal-Minister in so far as they affected herself, since she knew, from personal experience, that where he once hated he never forgave, and that his ambition and his ingratitude were alike boundless.

The only effect produced by this appeal was an offer to change her place of exile to Angers, should she prefer a residence in that city to Moulins; and in either case to confer upon her the government of whichever of those two provinces she might select. The proposal was indignantly rejected. It was evident that the sole aim of Richelieu was to remove her to a distance from the capital which might impede her communication with the few friends who remained faithful to her; and the anxiety of the Cardinal to effect his object only rendered the Queen-mother the more resolute not to yield.

Meanwhile the position of the Marechal d’Estrees and M. de Brienne was onerous in the extreme. They had received stringent commands to treat their royal captive with every demonstration of respect and deference, while at the same time they were instructed to prevent her correspondence with the Duc d’Orléans, who had already reached Besancon in Franche-Comte on his way to the duchy of Lorraine, pursued by the royal troops, but nevertheless persisting in his purpose. They were, moreover, to use every argument to induce her consent to leave Compiègne for Moulins; a proposition that never failed to excite her anger, which it was frequently difficult to appease; and the unfortunate Marechal soon became so weary of the perpetual mortifications to which he was subjected, that he daily wrote to the Cardinal representing the utter impossibility of success. Richelieu, however, would not be discouraged; and he merely replied by the assurance: “I know her well; continue to exert yourself, persist without cessation, and you will at last effect your object.”

Meanwhile the King, by the advice of his minister, declared all the nobles by whom Monsieur was accompanied guilty of lèse-majesté; a sentence which was considered so extreme by the Parliament that when called upon to register it on their minutes they ventured to remonstrate. This act of justice, however, so exasperated the Cardinal that he forthwith induced Louis to proceed to the capital, and to summon the members to his presence, with an express order that they should approach the Louvre on foot. This offensive command was no sooner obeyed than the Keeper of the Seals severely reprimanded them for their disloyalty and disobedience; and before time was afforded for a reply, the King demanded that the official register should be delivered up to him, which was no sooner done than he passionately tore out the leaf upon which the decree had been inscribed, and substituted that of his own Council, by which the Court of Parliament was forbidden all deliberation on declarations of state, at the risk of the suspension of its Councillors, and even of greater penalties, should such be deemed advisable.

This proceeding so much incensed the Duc d’Orléans that he in his turn forwarded a declaration to the Parliament, in which he affirmed that he had quitted the kingdom in consequence of the persecution of the Cardinal de Richelieu, whom he accused of an attempt upon his own life, and upon that of the Queen-mother; which was, as he affirmed, to have been succeeded by a third against the sovereign, in order that the minister might ultimately make himself master of the state; and Monsieur had scarcely taken this step when Marie de Medicis adopted the same policy. The Parliament had in past times warmly seconded her interests; and she still hoped that it would afford her its protection. In the appeal which she made, she dilated in the first place upon her own wrongs; and complained that, without having in anywise intrigued against either the sovereign or the nation, she was kept a close prisoner at Compiègne; while she, moreover, followed up this representation by accusing Richelieu of all the anarchy which existed in the kingdom, and by demanding to be permitted to appear publicly as his accuser.

The appeal was, however, vain. The Parliament, indignant at the insult which had been offered to them, and alarmed at the violence exhibited by Louis in the affair of Monsieur, would not even consent to open her despatch, but sent it with the seal still unbroken to the King; and thus the unfortunate Princess found herself compelled to abandon a hope by which she had hitherto been sustained. She then sought to interest the people in her favour; and for this purpose she did not scruple to exaggerate the sufferings to which she was subjected by a captivity which she represented as infinitely more rigorous than it was in fact.

Her example was imitated alike by the Duc d’Orléans and the Cardinal-Minister; and ere long the whole nation was deluged with pamphlets, in which each accused the other without measure or decency. Richelieu was, throughout his whole career, partial to this species of warfare, and had able writers constantly in his employ for the express purpose of writing down his enemies when he could not compass their ruin by more speedy means; but on this occasion the violence of Monsieur was so great that the Cardinal began to apprehend the issue of the struggle, and deemed it expedient to terminate all further open aggression against Marie de Medicis. In consequence of this conviction, therefore, he forwarded an order to the Marechal d’Estrees to withdraw from Compiègne with the troops under his command, and to leave the Queen-mother at perfect liberty, provided she were willing to pledge herself to remain in that town until she should receive the royal permission to select another residence. It is probable that when the minister exacted this promise he was as little prepared for its observance as was Marie when she conceded it; for she had no sooner become convinced that her star had waned before that of Richelieu, than she determined to effect her escape so soon as she should have secured a place of refuge, whence she could, should she see fit to do so, retire to the Spanish Low Countries, and throw herself upon the protection of the Archduchess Isabella. Having once arrived at this decision, the Queen-mother resolved, if possible, to seek an asylum at La Capelle, which, being a frontier town, offered all the necessary facilities for her project; and for this purpose she despatched a trusty messenger to Madame de Vardes, whose husband was governor of the place during the temporary absence of his father, and who was herself a former mistress of Henri IV, and the mother of the Comte de Moret. Flattered by the confidence reposed in her, Madame de Vardes lost no time in exerting her influence over the ambitious spirit of her husband, whom the Duc d’Orléans promised to recompense by the rank of Gentleman of Honour to the Princess to whom he was about to be united; and ere long M. de Vardes, who saw before him a career of greatness and favour should the faction of Monsieur finally triumph, suffered himself to be seduced from his duty to the King, and consented to deliver up the town which had been confided to his keeping to the Queen-mother and her adherents. This important object achieved, Marie, who was aware that should the royal troops march upon La Capelle it would be impossible to withstand their attack, hastened to entreat the help of the Archduchess in case of need, and also her permission to retire to the Low Countries should the persecution of the Cardinal ultimately compel her to fly from France.

The rapid successes of the King of Sweden in Germany, and the extraordinary strength of the States-General in the United Provinces, had greatly alarmed both the Emperor and the King of Spain; who were consequently well pleased to encourage any internal agitation which might so fully tend to occupy the attention of Louis as to prevent him from rendering effective aid either to Gustavus, the United Provinces, or the Protestant Princes of Germany, nearly the whole of whom were in arms against the Emperor; and thus the request of Marie was eagerly welcomed alike by Ferdinand, Philip, and Isabella, who pledged themselves to assist her to the full extent of their power. The Court of Brussels especially made her the most unqualified promises; and the Archduchess, while assuring her that on her arrival she should be received with all the honour due to her distinguished rank, was profuse in her expressions of sympathy.

Thus, as we have shown, when Richelieu demanded and received the promise of Marie de Medicis that she would not seek to leave Compiègne, she was only awaiting a favourable opportunity to effect her escape, and this was afforded by the evacuation of the garrison. Fearful, however, that this new order might only be a snare laid for her by the Cardinal, and aware that although the troops had left the town they were still quartered in the environs, she affected to discredit the assurance of the Marechal that thenceforth he exercised no control over her movements.

“I am not to be thus duped, Monsieur,” was her cold reply. “Your men are not far off; and I believe myself to be so thoroughly a prisoner that henceforward I shall never leave the castle; even my walks shall be restricted to the terrace.”

When this determination on the part of his mother was communicated to the King, he hastened to inform her that the troops should be withdrawn to a distance from Compiègne; and to entreat that, in consideration for her health, she would occasionally take the exercise by which alone it could be preserved.

To this request she replied that she should obey his pleasure in all things; and having thus, as she believed, removed all suspicion of her purpose, she only awaited the conclusion of the necessary preparations to carry it into execution.

On the 18th of July, at ten o’clock at night, the widow of Henri IV, attended only by Madame du Fargis, who had secretly reached Compiègne in order to bear her company during her flight, and by M. de la Mazure the lieutenant of her guard, stepped into a carriage which had been prepared for her, rapidly crossed the ferry, and took the road to La Capelle; but before she could reach her destined haven, she was met by M. de Vardes, who, with every demonstration of regret, informed her that her design having by some extraordinary chance been suspected by Richelieu, the Marquis his father, who was devoted to the minister, had been hurriedly ordered to return to La Capelle, where he had arrived on the previous evening; had shown himself to the garrison and magistrates; and had commanded his son to leave the town upon the instant.

Agitated as she was, the Queen-mother did not fail even at that moment, and, as some historians state, most justly, to suspect that she had been betrayed either by the fears or the venality of the very individual before her; but hastily offering her acknowledgments for his timely warning, she repressed her resentment, and gave instant directions to her attendants to proceed with all speed to Avesnes in Hainault. So well was she obeyed that on the first day of her journey she travelled a distance of twenty leagues, disregarding the entreaties of Madame du Fargis, who represented to her the necessity of some temporary repose; and persisting in her purpose so resolutely that on the 20th of July she reached her destination, and placed herself beyond the reach of her pursuers, who had, however, so languidly performed their duty that it was openly declared that they had rather been despatched by Richelieu to drive her from the kingdom than to compel her to remain within it.

On her arrival at Avesnes the royal fugitive was received with all imaginable honour by the Marquis de Crevecoeur, the Governor of the fortress; the troops were under arms; and she was escorted by the dignitaries of the city to the Hotel-de-Ville, where she took up her temporary residence. The Baron de Guêpe was instantly despatched to Brussels to announce her arrival to the Archduchess; and the Prince d’Epinoy, the Governor of the county, waited upon her Majesty, to entreat that she would remove to Mons, where Isabella was preparing to welcome her. During her sojourn at Avesnes, Marie despatched three letters to Paris, in which she respectively informed the King, the Parliament, and the municipality of her reasons for leaving the country.

“Perceiving,” she wrote in that which she addressed to her son, “that my health was failing from day to day, and that it was the Cardinal’s intention to cause me to die between four walls, I considered that in order to save my life and my reputation, I ought to accept the offer which was made to me by the Marquis de Vardes, to receive me in La Capelle, a town of which he is the Governor, and where you possess absolute power. I therefore determined to go there. When I was within three leagues of La Capelle the Marquis de Vardes informed me that I could not enter that place, because he had given it into the hands of his father. I leave you to imagine what was my affliction when I saw myself so deceived, and pursued by a body of cavalry in order to hasten me more speedily out of your kingdom. God has granted that the artifices of the Cardinal should be discovered. The very individuals who negotiated the affair have confessed that it was a plot of the Cardinal’s, in order to compel me to leave the country; an extreme measure which I dreaded above all things, and which he passionately desired.”

In reply to this letter Louis XIII wrote thus: “You will allow me, if you please, Madame, to say that the act which you have just committed, together with what has occurred for some time past, clearly discovers to me the nature of your intentions, and that which I may in future expect from them. The respect which I bear towards you prevents me from being more explicit.”

The other letters of the Queen-mother, although calculated to excite upon their publication a general hatred of the Cardinal, availed her personal cause as little as that which she had addressed to the monarch. Her flight was blamed by all classes throughout the country; and not the slightest movement was made in her favour either by the Parliament or the people. Richelieu was triumphant. He had at length succeeded in throwing suspicion upon her movements, and in compelling her to share the odium which he had hitherto borne alone; and although she saw herself the honoured guest of the Princes with whom she had taken refuge, the unfortunate Marie de Medicis soon became bitterly conscious that she had lost her former hold on the affections of that France over which she had once so proudly ruled. It is true that with the populace the ill-fated Princess yet retained her popularity, but she owed a great portion of this still-lingering affection to the general aversion of the masses towards the Cardinal; and while they mourned and even wept over her wrongs, they made no effort to enforce her justification.

On the invitation of the Prince d’Epinoy, Marie de Medicis, after a short sojourn at Avesnes, proceeded to Mons, where she was welcomed with salvos of artillery, and found all the citizens under arms in honour of her arrival; and it was in the midst of the rejoicing consequent upon her entry into that city, that she received the cold and stern reply of Louis, of which we have quoted a portion above, and to which she hastened to respond by a second letter, wherein she bitterly complained of the harshness with which she had been treated; and refused to return to France until the Cardinal should have been put upon his trial for “his crimes and projects against the state.” The letter thus concludes: “I am your subject and your mother; do me justice as a King, love me as a son. I entreat this of you with clasped hands.”

The reception of the self-exiled Queen by the Archduchess Isabella, whose noble and generous qualities have been extolled by all the contemporary historians, was as warm and as sincere as though she had welcomed a sister. The two Princesses wept together over the trials and sufferings of the ill-fated Marie; nor was the sympathy of the Archduchess confined to mere words. Every attention which the most fastidious delicacy could suggest was paid to the wants and wishes of the royal fugitive; and after a few days spent in the most perfect harmony in the capital of Hainault, the Court removed to the summer palace of Marimont, whence they ultimately proceeded to Brussels, where the French Queen made her entry with great pomp, and was enthusiastically received by all classes of the population.

From Brussels the illustrious ladies visited Antwerp, on the occasion of the annual kermesse, or fair, where the inhabitants vied with each other in doing honour to their distinguished guests. Six thousand citizens, magnificently apparelled, were under arms during their stay; and from the galleries of the quaint and picturesque old houses hung draperies of damask, tapestry, and velvet, which blended their rich tints with those of the banners that waved above the summits of the public buildings, and from the masts of the shipping in the harbour.

Little could the unfortunate Marie de Medicis anticipate, when she thus saw herself surrounded by the most unequivocal exhibition of respect and deference ever displayed towards greatness in misfortune, that she should but a few short years subsequently enter the city in which she was now feasted and flattered, a penniless wanderer, only to be driven out in terror and sickness, to seek a new shelter, and to die in abject despair!

Ever sanguine, the Queen-mother even yet hoped for a propitious change of fortune. She would not believe that Richelieu could ultimately triumph over the natural affection of a son, evil as her experience had hitherto proved; and when Isabella, in order to comply with the necessary observances of courtesy, wrote to assure Louis XIII that so far from intending any disrespect towards him by the reception which she had given to his mother, she begged him rather to regard it as a demonstration of her deference for himself; and at the same time offered to assist by every means in her power in effecting a reconciliation between them, Marie de Medicis deceived herself into the belief that such a proposition coming from such a source would never be rejected; while it is probable that had Louis been left to follow the promptings of his own nature, which was rather weak than wicked, her anticipations might at this period have been realized; but the inevitable Richelieu was constantly beside him, to insinuate the foulest suspicions, and to keep alive his easily-excited distrust of the motives of the Queen-mother.

The despatches of Isabella were, moreover, entrusted to the Abbe Carondelet, Deacon of the Cathedral of Cambrai, who, as the Cardinal was well aware, considered himself aggrieved by the refusal to which he had been subjected on his application for the bishopric of Namur; and who would in consequence, as he did not fail to infer, be readily prevailed upon to abandon the interests of the fugitive Queen. The event proved the justice of his previsions. Carondelet was not proof against the extraordinary honours which he received at the French Court, nor the splendid presents of the King and his minister; and the man to whose zeal and eloquence Isabella had confidently entrusted the cause of her royal guest was, after the lapse of a few short days, heart and soul the creature of Richelieu.

The Cardinal found little difficulty in persuading the monarch that Marie de Medicis must have had a full and perfect understanding with the Spanish Cabinet before she would have ventured to seek an asylum within their territories; an assertion which was so faintly combated by the treacherous envoy of the Archduchess, that thenceforward the protestations of the Queen-mother were totally disregarded, and the triumph of Richelieu was complete. In consequence of this conviction, Louis XIII published, in the month of August, a declaration which was most injurious alike towards Marie de Medicis and Gaston d’Orléans. Among other accusations, it asserted that “the evil counsellors of his brother had driven him, contrary to the duty imposed by his birth, and the respect which he owed to the person of his sovereign, to address to him letters full of calumnies and impostures against the Government; that he had accused, against all truth and reason, his very dear and well-beloved cousin the Cardinal de Richelieu of infidelity and enterprise against the person of his Majesty, that of the Queen-mother, and his own; that for some time past the Queen-mother had also suffered herself to be guided by bad advice; and that on his having entreated of her to assist him by her counsels as she had formerly done, she had replied that she was weary of public business; by which he had discovered that she was resolved to second the designs of the Due d’Orléans, and had consequently determined to separate from her, and to request her to remove to Moulins, to which request she had refused to accede; that having subsequently left Compiègne, she had taken refuge with the Spaniards, and was unceasingly disseminating documents tending to the subversion of the royal authority and of the kingdom itself; that for all these reasons, confirming his previous declarations, he declared guilty of lèse-majesté and disturbers of the public peace all those who should be proved to have aided the Queen-mother and the Duc d’Orléans in resisting his authority, and of having induced them to leave the kingdom, as well as those who had followed and still remained with them; and that it was his will that proceedings should be taken against them by the seizure of their property, and the abolition of all their public offices, appointments, and revenues.”

By this arbitrary act not only were the adherents of Marie de Medicis and Gaston d’Orléans deprived of their property, but their own revenues were confiscated to the Crown, and they at once found themselves without pecuniary resources. The calculations of Richelieu had been able, for the faction of the fugitives was instantly weakened by so unexpected an act of severity. Crippled in means, they could no longer recompense the devotion of those individuals who had followed their fortunes, many of whom had done so from a hope of future aggrandizement, and who immediately retired without even an attempt at apology, in order to secure themselves from ruin. When the unfortunate Queen would have sacrificed her jewels to liquidate the claims which pressed the most heavily upon her, she found the measure impossible, lest the King should redemand them as the property of the Crown; and she consequently soon saw herself reduced to the undignified expedient of subsisting upon the generosity of the powers from whom she had sought protection.

While Louis was, to use the words of Mezeray, thus “dishonouring his mother and his brother,” and depriving them of the very means of subsistence, he was overwhelming the Cardinal de Richelieu alike with honours and with riches. The estate whence he derived his name was erected into a duchy-peerage, and he was thenceforward distinguished by the title of the Cardinal-Duke; while the government of Brittany having become vacant by the death of the Marechal de Themines, it was also conferred upon the omnipotent minister.

At this period, indeed, it appeared as if Richelieu had overcome all obstacles to his personal greatness; and although the crown of France was worn by the son of Henri IV, the foot of the Cardinal was on the neck of the nation. That he was envied and hated is most true, but he was still more feared than either. No one could dispute his genius; while all alike uttered “curses not loud but deep” upon his tyranny and ambition.

The King had long become a mere puppet in his hands, leaving all state affairs to his guidance, while he himself passed his time in hunting, polishing muskets, writing military memoirs, or wandering from one palace to another in search of amusement. Perpetually surrounded by favourites, he valued them only as they contributed to his selfish gratification, and abandoned them without a murmur so soon as they incurred the displeasure of the Cardinal, to whom in his turn he clung from a sense of helplessness rather than from any real feeling of regard.

Bitterly, indeed, had Marie de Medicis deluded herself when she imagined that anything was to be hoped from the affection of Louis XIII, who was utterly incapable of such a sentiment; but who, in all the relations of life, whether as son, as husband, as friend, or as sovereign, was ever the slave of his own self-love.

On her arrival at Brussels, the Queen-mother had despatched M. de la Mazure to inform the Duc d’Orléans of her flight from France, and of the gracious reception which she had met from the Archduchess Isabella; assuring him at the same time that having been apprised of his intention to espouse the Princesse Marguerite, she not only gave her free consent to the alliance, but was of opinion that it should be completed without delay.

The Oratorian Chanteloupe, in whom she reposed the most unlimited confidence, had followed Monsieur to Lorraine, and was empowered to declare in her name to the Duke Charles that the contemplated marriage met with her entire approval, upon certain conditions which were immediately accepted, although it was considered expedient to defer their execution until Gaston should, with the aid of his ally, have placed himself at the head of a powerful army, which was to march upon the French frontier in order to compel the King to withdraw his opposition.

The marriage portion of the Princess had been fixed at a hundred thousand pistoles, the greater portion of which sum was expended in levying troops for the proposed campaign; and in less than six weeks an army of ten or twelve thousand foot-soldiers and five thousand horse was raised; while Gaston, full of the most extravagant hopes, prepared to commence his expedition.

Meanwhile commissaries had been appointed by Richelieu to proceed with the trial of the adherents of the Queen-mother and the Duc d’Orléans, and the first victims of his virulence were two physicians and astrologers accused of having, at the request of the royal exiles, drawn the horoscope of the King, and predicted the period of his death. These unfortunate men were condemned to the galleys for life. The Duc de Roannois, the Marquis de la Vieuville, and the Comtesse du Fargis were executed in effigy; while the property of the Comte de Moret, the Comtesse his mother, the Ducs de Roannois, d’Elboeuf, and de Bellegarde, the Marquises de Boissy, de la Vieuville, and de Sourdeac, and the President Le Coigneux, was confiscated to the Crown.

The government of Picardy was transferred from the Duc d’Elboeuf to the Duc de Chevreuse, and that of Burgundy from the Duc de Bellegarde to the Prince de Conde; and thus the faction of the mal contents found itself crippled alike in pecuniary resources and in moral power.

Towards the close of the year, intelligence of the designs of the Duc d’Orléans having reached Paris, the King proceeded to Lorraine, in order to arrest his movements; and despatched a messenger to Charles, demanding to be informed of his motive for raising so strong an army; and also if it were true that Monsieur contemplated a marriage with the Princesse Marguerite, as he had been informed. In reply, the Lorraine Prince assured the royal envoy that the troops had been levied with a view to assist the Emperor against the King of Sweden; and that the rumour which had spread in the French capital of an intended alliance between his august guest and the Princess his sister was altogether erroneous. No credence was, however, vouchsafed to this explanation, the Cardinal already possessing sufficient evidence to the contrary; and being, moreover, quite as anxious to deprive the Emperor of all extraneous help as he was to circumvent the projects of Monsieur. A second express was consequently forwarded a few days subsequently, summoning Charles de Lorraine immediately to march his army beyond the Rhine; and threatening in the event of his disobedience that the King would forthwith attend the nuptials of his brother at the head of the best troops in his kingdom.

This intimation sufficed to convince the Lorraine Prince that his only safety was to be found in compliance, all the hopes which Gaston had indulged of succour from France having failed him; and it was accordingly resolved that the little army should proceed at once to Germany under the command of Charles himself. Montsigot, the private secretary of Monsieur, was at that period at Brussels, whither he had been sent to inform the Queen-mother and the Archduchess Isabella of the progress of affairs in Lorraine, and to solicit assistance in the projected irruption into France which had been concerted with the Spanish Cabinet. His application proved successful, and on different occasions the Prince received from the sovereigns of the Low Countries upwards of five hundred thousand florins. The threat of the King, however, rendered a change of measures imperative; Puylaurens, one of the favourites of the Prince, was despatched in all haste to acquaint the Court of Brussels with the failure of the contemplated campaign, and to concert measures for a similar attempt during the ensuing year with the ministers of Philip and Isabella; as well as to secure a retreat for Monsieur in Flanders, should he find himself compelled to quit the duchy of Lorraine.

At the same time Marie de Medicis despatched the Chevalier de Valencay to Madrid, with orders to explain to Philip of Spain the precise nature of her position, and to solicit his interference in her behalf; but after long deliberation the Spanish ministers induced his Majesty not to compromise himself with France by affording any direct assistance to the Queen-mother, and to excuse himself upon the plea of the numerous wars in which he was engaged, especially that against the Dutch which had been fomented by the French Cabinet, and which had for some time cruelly harassed his kingdom. He, however, assured the royal exile of his deep sympathy, and of his intention to urge upon the Infanta Isabella the expediency of alleviating to the utmost extent of her power the sufferings of her august guest.

Philip and his Cabinet could afford to be lavish of their words, but they did not dare to brave the French cannon on the Pyrénées. At the close of the year Charles de Lorraine led back his decimated army from Germany; and the marriage of Gaston with the Princesse Marguerite shortly afterwards took place. There was, however, nothing regal in the ceremony, the presence of Louis XIII at Metz rendering the contracting parties apprehensive that should their intention transpire, they would be troubled by a host of unwelcome guests. Thus the Cardinal de Lorraine, Bishop of Toul, and brother to the reigning Duke, dispensed with the publication of the banns, and permitted the ceremony to take place in one of the convents of Nancy, where a monk of Citeaux performed the service at seven o’clock in the evening; the only witnesses being the Duc de Vaudemont, the father of the bride, the Abbesse de Remiremont by whom she had been brought up, Madame de la Neuvillette her governess, and the Comte de Moret.

It is asserted that the old Duc de Vaudemont was so apprehensive of the unhappy results of a marriage contracted under such circumstances, that on receiving the congratulations of those around him, he replied calmly: “Should my daughter not be one day eligible to become Queen of France, she will at least make a fitting Abbess of Remiremont.”

While Gaston d’Orléans was engrossed by his personal affairs, his unhappy mother was engaged in making a fresh appeal to the justice and affection of the King. Powerless and penniless in a foreign land, she pined for a reconciliation with her son, and a return to her adopted country. But the hatred and jealousy of Richelieu were still unappeased. He had already robbed her of her revenues, caused an inventory of her furniture, pictures, and équipages to be made, as though she were already dead; imprisoned or banished the members of her household; and had bribed the pens of a number of miserable hirelings to deluge France with libellous pamphlets to her dishonour. There was no indignity to which she had not been subjected through his influence; and on this last occasion she was fated to discover that even the poor gratification of justifying herself to her son and sovereign was to be henceforth denied to her; as at the instigation of the Cardinal, instead of vouchsafing any reply to the long and affecting letter which she had addressed to him, Louis coldly informed the bearer of the despatch that should the Queen again permit herself to write disparagingly of his prime minister, he would arrest and imprison her messenger.

A short time subsequently, having learnt that the King had once more offended the Parliament, Marie de Medicis. who had received information that Richelieu was desirous of declaring war against Spain, and who was naturally anxious to prevent hostilities between her son and the husband of her daughter, resolved once more to forward a letter to the Parliament, and to entreat of them to remonstrate with the King against so lamentable a design. Yielding to a natural impulse she bitterly inveighed in her despatch against the Cardinal-Duke, who, in order to further his own aggrandizement, was about, should he succeed, to plunge the nation into bloodshed, and to sever the dearest ties of kindred. This letter was communicated to Richelieu, whose exasperation exceeded all bounds; and it is consequently almost needless to add that it only served to embitter the position of the persecuted exile.

On the 26th of December Charles de Lorraine, anxious to appease the anger of the French King, proceeded to Metz, where he was well received by Richelieu, who trusted, through his influence, to secure the neutrality of the Duke of Bavaria. He, however, warned the Prince that Louis would never consent to the marriage of Monsieur with the Princesse Marguerite, nor permit him to make his duchy a place of refuge for the French malcontents; and, finally, despite the banquets and festivals which were celebrated in his honour, Charles became convinced that unless he complied with the conditions of a treaty which was proposed to him, he would not be allowed to return to his own territories.

Under this well-grounded impression the unfortunate young Prince had no other alternative than to submit to the humiliation inflicted on him, and on the 31st of December he signed a document by which he abjured for the future every alliance save that with France; accorded a free passage to the French armies through his duchy at all times; and pledged himself not to harbour any individuals hostile to Louis, particularly the Queen-mother or Monsieur; and, as a pledge of his promised obedience, he delivered up his fortress of Marsal. Such was the result of his trust in the clemency of the French King and his minister; but, far from having been gained over to their cause, the Duc de Lorraine returned to Nancy with a deep and abiding wrath at the indignity which had been forced upon him; and an equally firm resolve to break through the compulsory treaty on the first favourable opportunity.