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Simon, and contained in this volume, | was cursed from his birth by an unprincirelates only to the first three of these pled mother and a pestilent education. princes, but from the birth of the grandsire Henry IV., in 1553, to the death of the grandson Louis XIV. in 1715, it covers å space of one hundred and sixty-two years. Henry IV. fought his way to the crown, which was his
Mary of Medicis, on the full tide of prosalways governed by the dregs of the court and perity, imperious, jealous, narrow to excess, by what she had brought with her from Italy, was a continual source of misery to Henry IV., to her son, and to herself, though she might
Et par droit de conquête et par droit de nais- have been the happiest woman in Europe at
- a re
when he was in the plenitude of man-
We shall confine ourselves in the fol-
Le ciel qui de mes ans protégeait la faiblesse,
no greater cost than by controlling her temper
XIII. when he lost his father. Such was the melancholy position of Louis Every one knows with what composure, what levity, what indecency, the queen and those about her received that fatal intelligence which ought to have surprised and overwhelmed them, as it When Louis XIII. succeeded to the did the rest of the court; nor are the suspithrone on the assassination of his illus-cions forgotten which attached to them for trious father, the situation was exactly this crime, nor the measures by which Rareversed. The young prince was not yet vaillac was interrogated, guarded, and exeten years old. France was at peace. The passions of the Ligue were extinct. The Luynes is commonly described, and is mentioned treasury was full. The country was in the king. But Luynes was twenty-three years older the highest state of strength and pros-than Louis XIII. -he was a man when Louis was an perity. But of what account, exclaims died of a fever before Montauban in 1621, being then ignorant child, and old enough to be his father. Luynes Saint-Simon, are so many advantages, forty-three. It does not clearly appear how this access when they are but external? What harm to the king was granted to Luynes by the queen-mother and the Concinis, when it was denied to every one else. is there in poor and difficult circumstances, He used it very effectually to destroy those Florentine if they are nobly used? The young king adventurers, and to raise himself in their place.
even by M. Guizot as a young page and companion of
tion, and those who ruled her at the height of fortune, thought only to profit by it by narrowing the prison of the young king and rendering it more and more inaccessible. The disturbances excited by their miserable gov ernment were followed by a deplorable meeting of the Etats Généraux, and by the march to Guienne against the party opposed to the Spanish marriage, which was celebrated in November, 1615.
But the king, though crowned, declared of age, and married,* was not on that account more free or better educated. He was often refused leave to go out. The Maréchale d'Ancre sent him word not to make a noise
The queen at the height of her ambi- | mon affirms that the king had given express orders that the life of the marshal should not be taken, and that, when he looked out of the window at the palace to witness the arrest, he repeated the same order to Vitry, who nevertheless shot Concini. But those who conducted the plot had more experience of the fate of favorites than the young king.. Vitry maintained, falsely enough, that he and his men had fired in self-defence. "Mais ce coup," says our author, "qui étourdit tout le monde, qui esteignit une tyrannie universellement abhorrée, et qui overhead, and he had to obey or be ill-used portrait en même temps les exécuteurs au by the queen, who one day boxed his ears. pinnacle, ne pût estre qu'applaudi par terSuch things were constantly happening, with-reur, par espérance, par bassesse, et il ne out the least alleviation or liberty. Luynes se trouva pas une seule voix qui osast ne himself could only see him alone in the even- pas confirmer tout ce que Vitry voulut ing when he went to bed, under pretence of alléguer."* The queen-mother instantly sending him to sleep. This at last roused him left the court and retired to Blois, where to the determination to break these bonds and she remained in a sort of confinement for to reign by arresting the Maréchal d'Ancre two years; her creatures were killed or and by removing for a time the queen-mother. dispersed, her toils broken for the moLuynes had taken secret measures to avail himself of the insupportable condition to ment, but only to be continually renewed which the king was reduced, and of the hatred in every form of treason and intrigue, uncaused by the bad government of the queen til they led to her final expulsion from the and the insolence and tyranny of these for- country and her miserable death in poveigners. He waited till the plan was complete erty and exile at Cologne several years to propose it to the king. It was to take him later. Such was the early youth of the from a prison and place him on the throne. king.t
This event happened on April 24, 1617, when Louis XIII. was fifteen years and a half old: the first five years of his reign had been spent in this horrible bondage. The wonder is that he emerged from it at all, and that the spell was broken so soon. The Concinis, husband and wife, better known under the name of the Maréchal and Maréchale d'Ancre, were the creatures of Marie de' Medici, and certainly they deserved their fate. No court, no nation, was ever disgraced by more execrable and contemptible tyrants. Luynes no doubt intended that Concini should be murdered, as he was murdered by Vitry at the gate of the Louvre; but Saint-Si
The king's marriage with Anne of Austria, the daughter of Philip III. of Spain, an alliance memorable for its results in many ways, had been arranged by the Concinis and the queen-mother, who were doubtless in the service of Spain. The Princess Elizabeth, sister of Louis XIII., was betrothed at the same time to the heir of the Spanish throne, afterwards Philip IV. These marriages with the house of Austria were extremely unpopular in France, where Spain was justly regarded as a formidable enemy. To allay this díscontent the Etats Généraux were convoked in 1614; Louis XIII. was declared of age on October 2, 1614, when he entered on his fourteenth year, and he opened the session in person. Richelieu sate in this assembly as one of the proctors of the clergy of Loudun. He was then twenty-eight years of age; but he did not enter the king's Council until 1624, and his power dates from August in that year.
By this stroke of policy or of crime Louis XIII. was liberated from bondage in April, 1617; but he was not yet sixteen years old. His only adviser, who rose by royal favor to an excessive rank and fortune, for he was made a duke, a peer, and constable of France, was neither a soldier nor a statesman. The attitude of the Protestants and the Protestant nobility amounted to republican independence. But the first enemy against whom the young king had to march his armies was his own mother, who, having escaped from Blois with the assistance of the Duc d'Epernon, levied war against him. The
Though Saint-Simon exculpates the king and denies his knowledge of the intended murder, it is certain that he said with cool complacency in presence of the court, "Le Maréchal d'Ancre est mort," and that Vitry was immediately made a marshal of France in place of his victim.
†The first part of the "Memoirs" attributed to Cardinal Richelieu and published in 1730 under the title "Histoire de la Mère et du Fils," as a posthumous work of Mézeray, embraced this period from 1610 to 1620; but it contains no trace of the particulars related by Saint-Simon as to the youth and education of Louis XIII. The cardinal was at that time entirely in the interests of the queen-mother, from whom he expected and obtained his advancement. But we entertain considerable doubt of the authenticity of these memoirs. They have no literary merit, and not much historical value. They extend to twenty-nine books, and end in 1638, a time when the cardinal had other work on hand than to write memoirs, and, as is well known, he died in office in 1642.
campaign was a short one, for the towns the narrow passage between these positions of the south opened their gates to their sovereign. Richelieu, who was already acting for the queen effected a reconciliation. "How much you have grown!" said Marie de' Medici to her son when they met. "I have grown for your service," was the courteous answer of his Majesty.
It seems impossible to deny that this lad, still in his teens, and in most difficult circumstances, acted with spirit, judgment, and forbearance. He was not without the military spirit of his father and his race, he showed himself courageous and resolute, and at this time he was certainly not acting under the influence or direction of an all-powerful adviser, for we do not conceive Luynes to have had either political sagacity or military skill, though he had proved himself a daring conspirator and a rapacious favorite.
It was not unusual for princes of the blood royal of France to assume the command of armies at an early age. Condé was not two-and-twenty when he won the battle of Rocroy. Louis XIII., in his earlier years, was not deficient in military energy. The struggle with the queenmother was speedily terminated by the combat of Pont de Cé. The young king immediately marched on the province of Béarn, where he restored the toleration of the Catholic faith, which the Huguenots had suppressed. He then entered Languedoc and Guienne, and soon afterwards besieged Montauban and took Montpellier, where he concluded with his Protestant subjects a temporary peace, which was again broken in 1625. To this period belong the two most important military achievements of his reign; and although Richelieu was now in power, and the merit of the siege of Rochelle and the passage of the Alps is ascribed by most of the historians of the time to that minister, Saint-Simon gives another account of these transactions. It is sufficiently curious to be quoted at some length.
and the mainland. Troops therefore had to cross at low tide to attack them, with the risk Such of being cut off by the flow of the sea. was the imminence of the danger, which meant victory or death, and this at each of these islands and for several days. Everything being duly arranged, choice bodies of troops advanced at low water with all that was required for the assault. Louis XIII. watched these preparations at the head of the camp, without disclosing his intention to cross over to the islands and attack them in person. He rode in silence beside the advancing columns. At a certain distance from the camp he was warned that it was time for him to fall back in safety. Without an answer he marched coolly on, talking of other things, His attendants remonstrated and urged him to return; but on he went. At length he was told that the assault of these islands, garrisoned as they were, was a forlorn hope, and that the troops would be butchered. Then first replied the king, "I am well aware of it, and it is because I am aware of it that I mean to go myself. I cannot send troops to be butchered, but, if it is absolutely necessary, I can only obliged to you for your remonstrance, but we lead them myself. So, gentlemen, I am will say no more about it." He said this with the same coolness, and continued to march. My father, who heard the words, related them to me, and the inconceivable amazement of those who were present. Louis XIII. passed over to the islands at the head of his troops, conducted the attack in part himself, and gave He fought in person,
orders for the rest.
giving his orders with the coolness, foresight, and self-possession of a man writing in his own chamber; the isles were taken one after another under a heavy fire and with great loss. Soubise, who defended them valiantly and who had every means of defence, and to rely on his defences, was compelled at last to take refuge in his boats on the side next the sea, whence he escaped to England. But this was only the prelude to the famous siege of La
is that the cardinal took the king down The received version of that enterprise tion of the Protestant party and their Ento La Rochelle to complete the destrucglish allies, and that Richelieu himself displayed on that occasion consummate military ability. The incident is the more interesting to us, as it was the scene of Buckingham's discomfiture, and exercised a considerable influence on the fortunes of Charles I. Saint-Simon entirely rejects this tradition of a roi fainéant, and claims for the king the most important share in the action.
The soul and strength of the party was La Rochelle. The king felt that this place must be taken, and the infinite difficulties of the enterprise only excited his courage and his resolution. It was necessary, before attempting so great and thorny a siege, to seize all the islands about the place, where the English landed with ease, and which were in communication with La Rochelle. These islands were the retreat, and a sort of arsenal and depot, of the party, the more convenient as they were well fortified and provisioned, and as they If the attack on the isles had shown both were alternately left dry or surrounded by the the military capacity and the courage of the ebb and flow of the sea no vessels could enter | king, these qualities were still more conspicu
ously displayed in the protracted and difficult | the king in his campaigns down to the siege of La Rochelle. Louis, not relying year 1637, when he withdrew from the overmuch on himself, listened to the various court. and often conflicting opinions of his generals, his name, may have claimed more than he The cardinal, or whoever wrote in but he always decided on them himself, and deserved in this matter. even resolved on things suggested to his own mind by the discussions held before him. He gave his orders with the utmost foresight and vigilance, and watched the execution of them. He it was who first thought of shutting out the besieged from all assistance from the sea by means of that famous digue or mole, who made the plan of it, and by his indefatigable presence and perseverance caused it to be executed. I assert nothing here which my father did not see with his eyes and hear with his ears. No sooner was it completed than Louis XIII. redoubled his energy in pressing the siege. If he was well supported, it is not the less true that the jealousy of those about him, and other causes yet more criminal, were held in check by his penetration, and that it was his vigilance, his activity of body and mind, his matchless valor, his example, his presence in all places, and the impossibility of escaping his eye, which achieved a conquest that for the first time sapped the Huguenot power to its foundations. The king had the satisfaction of seeing the English twice fail, with a formidable fleet, against the fruit of his reflections and his exertions- I mean, against that famous mole which closed the port of La Rochelle an eternal monument of the sovereign by whom it was conceived, willed, and executed.
No sooner was the siege of La Rochelle terminated than the king resolved to cross the Alps to the relief of his ally the Duke of Mantua, who was threatened by the Duke of Savoy and by the Spaniards. The plague was raging in the valleys, and the passes of the mountains were blocked with snow, for it was in the month of February. The entrance to Piedmont was guarded by the lines of Susa, a fortified pass of remarkable strength, which was held by the chiefs of the army to be unassailable. The king resisted their remonstrances. Cardinal Richelieu supported them, but with no better effect. The cardinal hoped to exhaust the royal patience by sheer ennui, but this was relieved by the introduction of a singer named Hyert, who gratified the king's passion for music, and who made his fortune by that chance, for his descendants for three generations remained attached to the households of Louis XIV. and Louis XV. But there still lay the barricades of Susa.
By no other road could Piedmont be entered. This is the language of panegyric, This pass must be forced, or else the army transmitted to Saint-Simon by the enthu- must retreat, leaving the Duke of Mantua to siastic devotion of his father to the mem- be crushed by Philip (it should be Charles) ory of his master. Giving them credit for Emmanuel and by Philip of Spain. The king veracity as to the facts witnessed by the would do neither. Day by day, and at early one and related by him to the other, this dawn, he explored and reconnoitred himself narrative certainly raises a strong pre-erals declared to be absolutely impracticable. the passes in the mountain, which his gensumption that the cardinal and his follow- At last, as he conversed with the people of the ers plumed themselves with honors in country, he fell in with a shepherd keeping which the king himself deserved a larger his flock. From him he learned that there part, and that Louis XIII. was not a list- were paths through the mountains which less spectator of this memorable exploit in might enable him to attack the barricades, and he caused them to be examined by some of his generals, who still dissuaded him from so hazardous an enterprise. This detail, as well as all the rest, I had from my father, who never waiting and equerry, and singularly attached left the person of the king, being first lord-into his person.
But this version of the siege is entirely opposed to the story accredited by other writers. The siege itself lasted from August 10, 1627, to October 28, 1628; from February to April, 1628, the king was not present at it, having returned to Paris on account of his health; during his absence Richelieu was appointed lieutenant-general of his armies, and was to be obeyed by all officers, civil and military, as the king. The cardinal is said to have directed the military operations and even the assaults. It was during this very time that the mole was completed. However, to this Saint-Simon opposes the direct testimony of an eyewitness who undoubtedly accompanied
All being prepared for the attack, the king behaved as he had done at the islands of Rochelle. Not only was he present giving orders with the utmost coolness and sagacity, but he supported in person the first detachments of the Grenadiers (to use a phrase of the present time), and he climbed up on their heels, sword the summit, fighting amongst his men with in hand, pulled and pushed along till he gained amazing valor against all that art and nature could oppose to their progress. once carried, the army had to form on the other side. The Spaniards stood aloof, and
Charles Emmanuel surrendered at discretion. | had formerly allied himself, and by whose That haughty prince came to meet the king, influence he rose. Saint-Simon counts it who was at the head of his army. On arriv. among the signal proofs of the king's ing, he knelt down and kissed his boot. This judgment and resolution that in the prime submission, which Louis XIII. received with- of life and vigor of his age he consented out the slightest indication of alighting from his horse, or preventing the Duke of Savoy to accept such a minister and invest him from so abject a surrender, produced its effect. with all but supreme authority to the end The king stopped his army, and signed a of his days. He had, in fact, found out treaty, five days after the passage of the barri- that what has been termed the true secades (March 11, 1629). Charles Emmanuel, cret of kingcraft is to select the ablest a great and illustrious prince and soldier, minister he could find, and make him could not long survive so great a humiliation. responsible for his actions. The queenHe shut himself up in his palace at Turin, fell mother soon discovered that in raising into a profound melancholy, and died on July Richelieu to office she had created a 26, 1630, at the age of seventy-eight, about fifteen months after he had implored in per-power superior to her own; indeed, from son and on his knees the clemency of Louis
It must be acknowledged that these exploits, which belong for the most part to the earlier years of the reign of Louis XIII., present him in a very different aspect from that of the feeble, sickly, and fainéant sovereign recorded in the conventional language of history. The solution of the problem would seem to be that in the course of a reign of two-andtwenty years the king's character underwent great changes. We have seen that from 1611 to 1617 he was a child and a prisoner under the absolute control of his mother. He assumed the government of France at a critical moment, for 1618 witnessed the outbreak of the Thirty Years' War, when the defeat of the king of Bohemia rendered the house of Austria all-powerful in Germany and preponderant in northern Italy, whilst the Duc de Rohan was declared general of the Protestant Churches of France, and his brother Soubise armed the coasts of Guienne and Poitou. It was at this time, likewise, that Louis distinguished himself by a vigorous, though ineffectual, attempt to save the life of the virtuous Barneveldt from his Dutch persecutors. The fact is not mentioned by Saint-Simon, but it does the king honor. Louis was able, unassisted, to deal, as we have shown, with these emergencies. If in his later years he was far from displaying the same energetic qualities, the change may be attributed to three causes: first, bad health and a melancholy disposition; secondly, the growing ascendency of the genius of Richelieu; lastly, the incessant intrigues and conspiracies of his brother Gaston, in which his own favorites, and even the queen, his wife, were implicated. Richelieu was declared prime minister in 1624, chiefly on the recommendation of the queen-mother herself, to whose party he
that moment the cardinal became the chief protector of the sovereign against a factious court. Saint-Simon had no predilections in favor of Richelieu, for one of the results of his promotion was the retirement of the elder Saint-Simon from the court to his government of Blaye; but although the father received no favors at the hands of the great minister, the son treats him with impartiality.* Thus, then, he discusses the question whether Richelieu governed his master:
The great events which have shed such lustre on this reign-the razing of the forts in the Valteline and the restoration of the Grisons to the sovereign control over their the Huguenots and of the last traces of the passes in the Alps; the entire subjection of Ligue; the diminution of the power of the house of Austria by the entry of the king of Sweden into Germany and his exploits there, and the admirable support given to his party after the death of that king; the affairs of Italy happily terminated; the acquisition of the three vêchés (Toul, Verdun, and Metz), which had been more than precarious since Henry II. ; the revolution in Portugal, and a multitude of and important, together with the maintenance other affairs, slighter indeed, but all difficult of the Catholic faith and its exercise wherever it had existed before the Swedish occupation; the avoidance of a quarrel with Rome or of extreme measures against the Catholic League in Germany. are generally attributed to the powerful genius of Cardinal Richelieu. I do not affect to deny that he was the greatest
There are some curious passages in the writings of Saint-Simon on the relations of the king with his great minister. Louis XIII. had fits of royal jealousy, and the Wolsey of France was not inaccessible to fear. Both seem to have had confidence in the elder SaintSimon. Thus it is related in the "Memoirs:" "It has often happened to my father to be roused in the dead of the night by a servant, who drew aside his curRichelieu, who sat on the bed and held the candle, extain with a light, having behind him the Cardinal de claiming sometimes that he was lost, and coming to consult my father on information he had received, or casion it was the king who came to visit Claude de on scenes he had had with the king." On another ocSaint-Simon at night to complain of the cardinal.