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1624. CARDINAL RICHELIEU. 25
But neither applause nor pleasure could prevet t the king from relapsing" into that state of apathy which was natural to him. Louis XIII. was as completely the roi faineant as were the last of the race of Clovis and Charlemagne. But times were altered; the tree of royalty had taken root, and stood as erect, when withered and sapless, as when in spring and leaf.
LOUIS THE THIRTEENTH'S REIGN DURING THE ADMINISTRATION OF CARDINAL RICHELIEU.
Armand Du Plessis De Richelieu was born in 1585. Intended for the army, he was diverted from a military life by the piety of his brother, who abandoned his bishopric of Lucpn and became a monk. Richelieu stepped into his place. The pope, however, objected to a bishop of one-and-twenty; and the young prelate was obliged to journey to Rome, where his talents and address soon overcame the scruples of the head of the church. In 1610 the bishop visited Paris, and began to court popularity by preaching; a mode of eloquence and influence that emulation of the Huguenot divines had exciteai amongst the Catholics. It was reform that thus produced a Massillon and a Bossuet. Richelieu, chosen member of the clergy in the states-general of 1614, became orator of that body, and spoke its address to tiie king, in which may be remarked a complaint, that there was then not a single ecclesiastic in the eouncii. He intervened with success in the squabbles betwixt the different orders, became known to the queen-mother, and was by her appointed grand almoner, a post which he sold to satisfy his debts. Thus Richelieu, like Caesar* began his public career with a course of interested extravagance. Paying court to the mareschal d'Ancre, and attached to Mary of Medicis, the gradual rise of his influence has been seen.
The state maxim of that day, the usual policy of weak minds, was to trim a middle course, to hold a balance betwixt contending parties, and allow none, if possible, to be predominant. Such had been the rule of conduct of Mary of Medicis, by which she perpetuated all the evils of the state, disunion, rebellion, and aristocratic independence. In this continued game of intrigue, this play of oetty motives and petty forces, every head and every thought was absorbed. There was neither leisure nor elevation to afford views of foreign policy or public good. Selfish interests could be the only aim, and these were so numerous, so universal, and so complicated, that it required the capacious mind of genius to grasp, in conjunction with them, a patriotic or a public feeling. Such, however was the mind of Richelieu: he at once towered over the heads of those dwarf statesmen of the court, and saw at a glance the evils that preyed upon France, and neutralized her power. To remove these, and elevate her to her rank amongst nations, was his instant conception. Henry IV. had effected this: he had raised the country to its just pre-eminence, and made it respected. But this he did merely by his personal character and ascendency: he had not done it permanently: he left all the materials of dissension and insurrection in force. These were principally two, the independent noblesse, and the Huguenots. To overthrow and crush these, to tread them beneath the feet of the monarch, became Richelieu's first object; and towards this he marched through every difficulty, and shrunk from neither peril nor blood. He threw aside the trimming, the balancing policy that had hitherto prevailed, and adopted in its stead that bold, decided, straightforward line of conduct, which suits a mind conscious of superiority and confident of force.
Louis XIII. had been inspired by De Luynes with an aver sion for Richelieu. It was with great difficulty that Mary of Medicis obtained for him in 1622 the cardinal's hat stipulated in a former treaty; but all her efforts in procuring him admission to the council were resisted. The marquis de la Vieuville was favorite for the moment, and he strengthened . the king's prejudices against the cardinal. Mary was persevering; and at length Louis yielded. He permitted Richelieu to take his seat at the council-table, but on the express condition that he was to be without office, and that he should not consider himself a minister. The cardinal expressed himself perfectly contented with this arrangement: he took his seat; and the inefficacy of all the precautions taken against him soon appeared. They had bound the arms of a giant, who broke his bonds the instant that it pleased him to be free. From the first moment that Richelieu spoke, his genius dominated; and the monarch himself, as well as La Vieuville, cowered beneath an ascendency that they found it vain to dispute.
To secure this ascendency over the monarch, Richelieu scorned to make use of the same means which sufficed Vieuville and De Luynes. Instead of flattering Louis, and direct1625. SECOND WAR WITH THE HUGUENOTS. 27
ing him in the way of pleasure, the cardinal at first stiove to awaken the young king to a sense of the country's debasement, to its true interests, and its possible glory. He pointed out the turbulent disobedience of tie great, the sedition of the Huguenot assemblies, the weakness of ministers, and the disorder of the finances; the consequent poverty and misery of he kingdom, as well as the decay of its influence and dignity n its relations with foreign potentates. He pointed to the nouse of Austria, daily increasing its strength and extending its territories, at that very moment triumphant from the conquest of the Palatinate, and threatening to crush those Protestant states of Germany which had defied the might of Charles V. Louis listened, and was excited, not indeed to take vigorous counsels himself, but to confide in a minister who had shown himself able to conceive and execute them.
The chief object then coveted by the house of Austria was the possession of the Valteline, a strip of Alpine territory which might serve to connect the dominions of that family in Germany and in Italy. It had been in subjection to the Grisons, a Protestant race; and Spain seized this pretext to conquer it in the name of the pope. France had opposed this with the usual feebleness of her diplomacy. The first act of Richelieu was to cut short the negotiation, to defy both the pope and Spain, and to send an army under the mareschal d'Es* trees into the Valteline, which expelled the Spaniards, and restored the region to its ancient masters.
Richelieu dared to show the same bold front to the Huguenots at the same time. Determined on completely reducing them, his first endeavor was to drive them from Poitou and Rochelle, where they could at all times receive succors from England, and to circumscribe their influence to the provinces of the south-east.. It was with this view that the governments of Nismes and Uzes were given to the due de Rohan, in exchange for those of St Jean d'Angely and Poitou. By the last treaty all new fortifications were to be demolished; but Richelieu, on the contrary, kept Fort Louis, lately erected in the vicinity of Rochelle, in good order. He refused to evacuate Montpellier also; and the Huguenots were thus provoked to rebel. The cardinal at the same time deprived them of the aid of the English monarch, with whom he was negotiating the marriage of Henrietta of France, sister of Louis. Rohan, and a great number of the Protestants, thought it on this account imprudent to recommence war; but his impetuous brother, Soubise, made an attack on the port cf Blavet; seized some ships that were fitting out there; and, sailing thence, made a descent upon the Isle of Rhe, He was defeated; the Huguenots being neither decided nor prepared for a general insurrection. The consequence of the rash attempt of Soubise was, that in the accommodation that ensued the royalists kept Fort Louis, merely promising not to annoy from it the inhabitants or shipping of Rochelle.
Richelieu here postponed his design of completely reducing the Huguenots. The conquest of Rochelle could alone do this effectually, and that required a large naval force, as well as such preparations of every kind as would insure success. Besides, for the present, the cardinal was aware that he would soon have to encounter a court intrigue, a triumph over which was more requisite to establish his power, than even the subjugation of Rochelle. The marriage of the princess Henrietta with Charles of England, which had been desired by Richelieu, as securing the previous neutrality of the latter country in a war against the Huguenots, had proved a source of difference rather than of alliance. The gallant Buckingham, who had come to demand and escort back the princess, had excited the jealousy of the cardinal. He had shown at the French court the sample of such a minister as the age esteemed; gay/liberal, handsome, looking as well as wielding command. He had admired the young queen, and had boldly expressed his admiration. His friend, lord Holland, had paid court to the duchess de Chevreuse, the companion of the queen, and the most lovely woman of the time. Richelieu admired madame de Chevreuse, nay, by some is said to have pretended to the queen herself! Whatever was the truth, Richelieu and Buckingham conceived for each other a mutual hatred, which afterwards produced a rupture betwixt their respective sovereigns. And a strong pique at the same time arose betwixt the cardinal and the queen.
Another personage at court, now grown into importance, was Gaston duke of Orleans, brother of the king. Louis was extremely jealous of him. A tutor, under whom the young duke improved and began to give promise of good conduct and manly virtue, was superseded by a mere courtier, calculated to give lessons in vice and dissipation. Ornano, who succeeded this man, found the prince absorbed in pleasure and debased. He endeavored to rouse Gaston, by explaining to him his rank, his hopes; and he did succeed in awakening his ambition. The young duke of Orleans demanded to enter the council. Richelieu, then in the commencement of his influence, replied by banishing Ornano for a time. Gaston relapsed into dissipation, and seemed little inclined to give timbrage or uneasiness to the government.
The worst part of frudal tyranny was, that it interfered
1626. GASTON, DUKE OF ORLEANS. 29
with tne private affections of all men. Richelieu, wielding the power of Louis XIII., was not content with commanding the loyal submission of the first prince of the blood. He thought proper to impose a wife upon him, nay, to chouae one. The lady selected was mademoiselle de Montpensier, rich, lovely, allied to the crown, and heiress of the house of Guise. . There could be no objection to such a bride, excep the compulsion that gave her. Gaston rebelled. The projected marriage convulsed the entire court, and well-nigh the kingdom also.
Richelieu's object was to provide an heir to the crown, which Louis seemed not destined long to wear. Anne of Austria, the little queen, as she was called, to distinguish her from the queen-mother, was on the other hand averse to Gaston's marriage; and she joined the friends of the latter in endeavoring to thwart the cardinal's plan. Ornano had resumed his influence and station in the prince's household; and he it was who chiefly urged Gaston to resist. Ornano was arrested. This increased the rage of the duke of Orleans; and at length a plot was entered into and approved by him, to get rid of the domineering Richelieu in the same manner that d'Ancre had been removed. The car dinal then inhabited a country-house at Fleuryt Gaston's servants were to betake themselves thither, under pretence that their master was about to honor Richelieu on that day with his company to dinner, and the murder was to have taken place. Richelieu received warning. The count de Chalais, who was to have been the chief perpetrator, ventured to sound a friend, who expressed at once a lively abhorrence of the attempt, and threatened to denounce it. Chalais became alarmed, and resolving to anticipate the informer, went himself to the cardinal, and made a disclosure. Gaston was astonished, in consequence, by the appearance of the cardinal in his apartment, on the morning appointed for the deed. "I am sorry," said Richelieu, smiling, "your highness did not give me warning of your intention to make use of my residence. I should have been prepared. As it is, 1 abandon it to your service." Having so said, Richelieu handed his shirt to Gaston (one of the ceremonials of etiquette observed at a prince's levee) and then retired.
The cardinal, not content with thus confounding his ene mies, was resolved to punish them, and intimidate others by their example. By probing ^Chalais tnd his family, it was discovered that the nobles, upon whose aid Gaston reckoned, were the due de Vendome and his brother the grand prior, illegitimate sons of Henry IV. The former was governor of