With the Italian campaigns of Charles VIII., notre petit roi, as Brantome calls him, and of the early Valois-Orleans kings, France enters the arena of European politics, wrestles with the mighty Emperor Charles V. and embarks on a career of transalpine conquest. But in Italy, conquering France was herself conquered by the charm of Italian art, Italian climate and Italian landscape. When Charles VIII. returned to Paris from his expedition to Naples he brought with him a collection of pictures, tapestry, and sculptures in marble and porphyry, that weighed thirty-five tons; by him and his successors Italian builders, Domenico da Cortona and Fra Giocondo, were employed. The latter supervised the rebuilding of the Petit Pont and after the destruction of the last wooden Pont Notre Dame in 1499—when the whole structure, with its houses and shops, fell with a fearful crash into the river—he was made head of the Commission of Parisian artists who replaced it by a noble stone bridge, completed in 1507. This, too, was lined with tall gabled houses of stone, and adorned with the arms of Paris and statues of Notre Dame and St. Denis. On its restoration in 1659 the facades of the houses were decorated with medallions of the kings of France held by caryatides bearing baskets of fruit and flowers on their heads. These houses were the first in Paris to be numbered, odd numbers on one side, even on the other, and were the first to be demolished when, on the eve of the Revolution, Louis XVI. ordered the bridges to be cleared.
The French Renaissance is indissolubly associated with Francis I., who in 1515 inherited a France welded into a compact, absolute monarchy, and inhabited by a prosperous and loyal people; for the twelfth Louis had been a good and wise ruler, who to the amazement of his people returned to them the balance of a tax levied to meet the cost of the Genoese Expedition, which had been over estimated, saying, "It will be more fruitful in their hands than in mine." Commerce had so expanded that it was said that for every merchant seen in Paris in former times there were, in his reign, fifty. Scarce a house was built along an important street that was not a merchant's shop or for the practice of some art. Louis introduced the cultivation of maize and the mulberry into France, and so rigid was his justice that poultry ran about the open fields without risk of pillage from his soldiers. It was the accrued wealth of his reign, and the love inspired by "Louis, father of his people," that supported the magnificence, the luxury and the extravagance of Francis I. The architectural creations of the new style were first seen in Touraine, in the royal palaces of Blois and Chambord, and other princely and noble chateaux along the luscious and sunny valleys of the Loire. Italian architecture was late in making itself felt in Paris, where the native art made stubborn resistance.
[Footnote 101: The good king's portrait by an Italian sculptor may be seen in the Louvre, Room VII., and on his monument in St. Denis he kneels beside his beloved and chere Bretonne, Anne of Brittany whose loss he wept for eight days and nights.]
The story of the state entry of Francis I. into Paris after the death of Louis XII., as told by Galtimara, Margaret of Austria's envoy, who witnessed the scene from a window, is characteristic. After the solemn procession which was belle et gorgiaise he saw the king, clothed in a glittering suit of armour and mounted on a barbed charger, accoutred in white and cloth of silver, prick his steed, making it prance and rear, faisant rage, that he might display his horsemanship, his fine figure and dazzling costume before the queen and her ladies. It was all bien gorriere a voir. "Born between two adoring women," says Michelet, "Francis was all his life a spoilt child." Money flowed through his hands like water to gratify his ambition, his passions and his pleasures. Doubtless his interviews with Da Vinci at Amboise, where he spent much of his time in the early years of his reign, fired that enthusiasm for art, especially for painting, which never wholly left him; for the veteran artist, although old and paralysed in the right hand, was otherwise in possession of all his incomparable faculties.
[Footnote 102: "He was well named after St. Francis, because of the holes in his hands," said a Sorbonne doctor.]
The question as to the existence of an indigenous school of painting before the Italian artistic invasion is still a subject of acrimonious discussion among critics; there is none, however, as to its existence in the plastic arts. The old French tradition died hard, and not before it had stamped upon Italian Renaissance architecture the impress of its native genius and adapted it to the requirements of French life and climate. The Hotel de Cluny, finished in 1490, still remains to exemplify the beauty of the native French domestic architecture modified by the new style. The old Hotel de Ville, designed by Dom. da Cortona and submitted to Francis in 1532, was dominated by the French style, and not until nearly a century after the first Italian Expedition were the last Gothic builders superseded. The fine Gothic church of St. Merri was begun as late as 1520 and not finished till 1612, and the transitional churches of St. Etienne and St. Eustache remind one, by the mingling of Gothic and Renaissance features, of the famous metamorphosis of Agnel and Cianfa in Dante's Inferno, and one is tempted to exclaim, Ome, come ti muti! Vedi, che gia non sei ne duo ne uno!
[Footnote 103: The authorship of this famous building is much canvassed by authorities. M.E. Mareuse, secretary of the Committee of Inscriptions, affirms that Domenico must be considered the unique architecte of our old Municipal Palace: other writers claim with equal confidence Pierre Chambiges as the architect. Charles Normand after an exhaustive examination of documents, declares that the Italian master's design was followed in the south court, but that after his death in 1549 the design was ordered to be revised and the great facade was erected in a style wholly different from the original plan. This eminent authority inclines to the belief that the new design was due to Du Cerceau. Certain it is that French masters were associated with Domenico, for we know that on the 19th June 1534, a rescript came from the city fathers to the masters Pierre Chambiges, Jacques Arasse, Jehan Aesselin, Loys Caquelin and Dominique de Cortona, reminding them that it would be more seemly to push the works forward and keep an eye on the workmen instead of going away to dine together.]
[Footnote 104: "Ah! me, how thou art changed! See, thou art neither two nor one."]
After the death of Da Vinci Francis never succeeded in retaining a first-rate painter in his service. Andrea del Sarto and Paris Bordone did little more than pay passing visits, and the famous school of Fontainebleau was founded by Rosso and Primaticcio, two decadent followers of Michel Angelo. The adventures of that second-rate artist and first-rate bully, Benvenuto Cellini, at Paris, form one of the most piquant episodes in artistic autobiography. After a gracious welcome from the king he was offered an annual retaining fee of three hundred crowns. He at once dismissed his two apprentices and left in a towering rage, only returning on being offered the same appointments that had been enjoyed by Leonardo da Vinci—seven hundred crowns a year, and payment for every finished work. The Petit Nesle was assigned to Cellini and his pupils as a workshop, the king assuring him that force would be needed to evict the possessor—it had been assigned to the provost—adding, "Take great care you are not assassinated." On complaining to the king of the difficulties he met with and the insults offered to him on attempting to gain possession, he was answered: "If you are the Benvenuto I have heard of, live up to your reputation; I give you full leave." Benvenuto took the hint, armed himself, his servants and two apprentices, and bullied the occupants and rival claimants out of their wits. It was at this Tour de Nesle that Francis paid Cellini a surprise visit with his mistress Madame d'Estampes, his sister Margaret of Valois, the Dauphin and his wife Catherine de' Medici, the Cardinal of Lorraine, Henry II. of Navarre, and a numerous train of courtiers. The artist and his merry men were at work on the famous silver statue of Jupiter for Fontainebleau, and amid the noise of the hammering the king entered unperceived. Cellini had the torso of the statue in his hand, and at that moment a French lad who had caused him some little displeasure had felt the weight of the master's foot, which sent him flying against the king. But the artist had done a bad day's work by evicting a servant of Madame d'Estampes from the tower, and the injured lady and Primaticcio, her protege, decided to work his ruin. When Cellini arrived at Fontainebleau with the statue, Francis ordered it to be placed in the grand gallery decorated by Rosso. Primaticcio had just arranged there the casts which he had been commissioned to bring from Rome, and Benvenuto saw what was meant—his own work was to be eclipsed by the splendour of the masterpieces of ancient art. "Heaven help me!" cried he, "this is indeed to fall against the pikes!" Now the god held the globe of the earth in the left hand, the thunderbolt in the right. The artist contrived to thrust a portion of a large wax candle as a torch between the flames of the bolt, and set the statue up on its gilded pedestal. Madame entertained the king late at table, hoping that he would either forget the work or see it in a bad light; but when Francis entered the gallery late at night, followed by his courtiers, "which by God's grace was my salvation," says Cellini, the statue was illuminated by a flood of light from the torch which so enhanced its beauty that the king was ravished with delight, and expressed himself in ecstatic praise, declaring the statue to be more beautiful and more marvellous than any of the antique casts around. His enemies were thus discomfited, and on Madame d'Estampes endeavouring to depreciate the work, she was grossly mocked by the artist in a very characteristic and quite untranscribable way. Benvenuto was more than ever patronised by the king, who did him the great honour of accosting him as mon ami, and approving his scheme for the fortification of Paris. Cellini often recalled with pleasure the four years he spent with the gran re Francesco at Paris.
[Footnote 105: The Petit Nesle comprised the south-west gate and tower: the Grand Nesle, the Hotel de Nesle within the wall. See p. 68.]
"The French are remembered in Italy only by the graves they left there," said De Comines, and once again the Italian campaigns ended in disaster. At the defeat of Pavia, in 1525—the Armageddon of the French in Italy—the efforts and sacrifices of three reigns were lost and the gran re, whose favourite oath is said to have been foi de gentilhomme, went captive to the king of Spain in Madrid, whence he issued, stained by perjury, and three years later, signed "the moral annihilation of France in Europe," at Cambray.
During the tranquil intervals that ensued on this rude awakening from dreams of an Italian Empire, and between the third and fourth wars with the emperor, the king was able to initiate a project that had long been dear to him. "Come," says Michelet, "in the still, dark night, climb the Rue St. Jacques, in the early winter's morning. See you yon lights? Men, yea, old men, mingled with children, are hurrying, a folio under one arm, in the hand an iron candlestick. Do they turn to the right? No, the old Sorbonne is yet sleeping snug in her warm sheets. The crowd is going to the Greek schools. Athens is at Paris. That man with the fine beard in majestic ermine is a descendant of emperors—Jean Lascaris: that other doctor is Alexander, who teaches Hebrew."
The schools they were pressing to were those of the Royal College of France. Already in 1517 Erasmus had been offered a salary of a thousand francs a year, with promise of further increment, to undertake the direction of the college, but declined to leave his patron the emperor. The prime movers in the great scheme were the king's confessor, Guillaume Parvi, and the famous Grecian, Guillaume Bude, who in 1530 was himself induced to undertake the task which Erasmus had declined. Twelve professors were appointed in Greek, Hebrew, mathematics, philosophy, rhetoric and medicine, each of the twelve with a salary of two hundred gold crowns (about L80), and the dignity of royal councillors. The king's vast scheme of a great college and magnificent chapel, with a revenue of 50,000 crowns for the maintenance (nourriture) of six hundred scholars, where the most famous doctors in Christendom should offer gratuitous teaching in all the sciences and learned languages, was never executed. Too much treasure had been wasted in Italy, and it was not till the reign of Louis XIII. that it was partially carried out. The first stone was laid in 1610, the works were slowly continued under succeeding reigns, and the project had only been partially carried out when the monarchy fell. The college as we now see it was not completed till 1842. Chairs were founded for Arabic by Henry III., for surgery, anatomy and botany by Henry IV., and for Syrian by Louis XIV. Little is changed to-day; the placards, so familiar to students in Paris, announcing the lectures are indited in French instead of in Latin as of old; the lectures are still free to all, and the most famous scholars of the day teach there, but in French and not in Latin.
[Footnote 106: Students in Paris in the days of King Francis had cause to remember gratefully that monarch's solicitude, for a maximum of charges was fixed, and an order made that every hotel-keeper should affix his prices outside the door, that extortion might be avoided. Among other maxima, the price of a pair of sheets, to "sleep not more than five persons," was to be five deniers (a penny).]
How dramatic are the contrasts of history! While the new learning was organising itself amid the pomp of royal patronage; while the young Calvin was sitting at the feet of its professors and the Lutheran heresy germinating at Paris, Ignatius Loyola, an obscure Spanish soldier and gentleman, thirty-seven years of age, was sitting—a strange mature figure—among the boisterous young students at the College of St. Barbara, patiently preparing himself for dedication to the service of the menaced Church of Rome; and in 1534, on the festival of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, a little group of six companions met around the fervent student, in the crypt of the old church at Montmartre, and decided to found on the holy hill of St. Denis' martyrdom the first house of the Society of Jesus.
In 1528, says the writer of the so-called Journal d'un Bourgeois de Paris, the king began to pull down the great tower of the Louvre, in order to transform the chateau into a logis de plaisance, "yet was it great pity for the castle was very fair and high and strong, and a most proper prison to hold great men."
The tall, massive keep, which darkened the royal apartments in the south wing, was the tower here meant, and after some four months' work, and an expenditure of 2,500 livres, the grim pile, with its centuries of history, was cleared away. Small progress, however, had been made with the restoration of the old chateau up to the year 1539, when the heavy cost of preparing the west wing for the reception of the Emperor Charles V., induced Francis to consider a plan which involved the replacement of the whole fabric by a palace in the new Renaissance style, and the picturesque palace with its high crenelated walls, its strong towers, high-pitched roofs, dormer windows, and tall chimneys, its gilded emblazonry, its vanes, splendid with azure and gold glittering in the sun, as painted in the Duke of Berry's Book of Hours, was doomed. In 1546 Pierre Lescot, Seigneur de Clagny, was appointed architect without salary, but given the office of almoner to the king, and made lay abbot of Clermont. Pierre Lescot was an admirable artist, who has left us some of the finest examples of early French Renaissance architecture in Paris. But Francis lived only to see the great scheme begun, most of Lescot's work being done under Henry II.
From the same anonymous writer we learn something of Parisian life in the reign of Francis I. One day a certain Monsieur Cruche, a popular poet and playwright, was performing moralities and novelties on a platform in the Place Maubert, and among them a farce "funny enough to make half a score men die of laughter, in which the said Cruche, holding a lantern, feigned to perceive the doings of a hen and a salamander." The amours of the king with the daughter of a councillor of the Parlement, named Lecoq, were only too plainly satirised. But it is ill jesting with kings. A few nights later, Monsieur Cruche was visited by eight disguised courtiers, who treated him to a supper in a tavern at the sign of the Castle in the Rue de la Juiverie, and induced him to play the farce before them. When the unhappy player came to the first scene, he was set upon by the king's friends, stripped and beaten almost to death with thongs. They were about to put him in a sack and throw him into the Seine, when poor Cruche, crying piteously, discovered his priestly tonsure, and thus escaped.
[Footnote 107: The salamander was figured on the royal arms of Francis.]
After the defeat at Pavia, the king became morbidly pious. By trumpet cry at the crossways of Paris, we learn from the Journal, games—quoits, tennis, contreboulle—were prohibited on Sundays; children were forbidden to sing along the streets, going to and from school; blasphemers were to be severely punished. In 1527 a notary was burned alive in the Place de Greve for a great blasphemy of our Lord and His holy Mother. In June of the next year some Lutherans struck down and mutilated an image of the Virgin and Child at a street corner near St. Gervais; the king was so grieved and angry that he wept violently, and offered a reward of one hundred gold crowns, but the offenders could not be found. Daily processions came from the churches to the spot, and all the religious orders, clothed in their habits, followed "singing with such great fervour and reverence that it was fair to see." The rector, doctors, masters, bachelors and scholars of the university, and children with lighted tapers, went there in great reverence. On Corpus Christi day the street was draped and a fair canopy stretched over the statue. The king himself walked in procession, bearing a white taper, his head uncovered in moult gran reverence; hautboys, clarions and trumpets played melodiously; cardinals, prelates, great seigneurs and nobles, each with his taper of white wax, followed, with the royal archers of the guard in their train. On the morrow a procession from all the parishes of Paris, with banners, relics and crucifixes, accompanied by the king and nobles, brought a new and fair image of silver, two feet in height, which the king had caused to be made. Francis himself ascended a ladder and placed it where the other image had stood, then kissed it and descended with tears in his eyes. Thrice he kneeled and prayed, the bishop of Lisieux, his almoner, reciting fair orisons and lauds to the honour of the glorious Virgin and her image. Again the trumpets, clarions and hautboys played the Ave Regina caelorum, and the king, the cardinal of Louvain, and all the nobles presented their tapers to the Virgin. Next day the Parlement, the provost and sheriffs, came and put an iron trellis round the silver image for fear of robbers.
[Footnote 108: For the first offence a fine; for the second, the lips to be cloven; for the third, the tongue pierced; for the fourth, death.]
[Footnote 109: The image was stolen in 1545 and replaced by one of wood. This was struck down in 1551, and the bishop of Paris substituted for it one of marble.]
Never were judicial and ecclesiastical punishments so cruel and recurrent as during the period of the Renaissance. It is a common error to suppose that judicial cruelty reached its culmination in the Middle Ages. Punishments are described with appalling iteration in the pages we are following. The Place de Greve was the scene of mutilations, tortures, hangings, and quarterings of criminals and traitors, the king and his court sometimes looking on. Coiners of false money were boiled alive at the pig-market; robbers and assassins were broken on the wheel and left to linger in slow agony (tant qu'ils pourraient languir). The Lutherans were treated like vermin, and to harbour them, to possess or print or translate one of their books, meant a fiery death. In 1525 a young Lutheran student was put in a tumbril and brought before the churches of Notre Dame and St. Genevieve, crying mercy from God and Mary and St. Genevieve; he was then taken to the Place Maubert, where, after his tongue had been pierced, he was strangled and burnt. A gendarme of the Duke of Albany was burnt at the pig-market for having sown Lutheran errors in Scotland.
[Footnote 110: "The moral brutality of the Renaissance is clearly shown in its punishments. In this matter it reached with perfection its prototype, the times of the cruel Roman Emperors.... Never has 'justice' been more barbarous; not even in the darkest Middle Ages has torture been more refined, more devilish, than in the days of Humanism.... Truly it is no accident that immediately after, indeed, even before, the end of the Renaissance, everywhere in Western Europe the fires began to glow wherein thousands of unhappy wretches expired in torments for the sake of their faith; men's minds were only too well prepared for such horrors." GUSTAV KORTING (Anfaenge der Renaissancelitteratur, pp. 161, 162.)]
On Corpus Christi day, 1532, a great procession was formed, the king and provost walking bare-headed to witness the burning of six Lutherans—a scene often repeated. The Fountain of the Innocents, the Halles, the Temple, the end of the Pont St. Michel, the Place Maubert, and the Rue St. Honore were indifferently chosen for these ghastly scenes. Almost daily the fires burnt. A woman was roasted to death for eating flesh on Fridays. In 1535, so savage were the persecutions, that Pope Paul III., with that gentleness which almost invariably has characterised the popes of Rome in dealing with heresy, wrote to Francis protesting against the horrible and execrable punishments inflicted on the Lutherans, and warned him that although he acted from good motives, yet he must remember that God the Creator, when in this world, used mercy rather than rigorous justice, and that it was a cruel death to burn a man alive; he therefore prayed and required the king to appease the fury and rigour of his justice and adopt a policy of mercy and pardon. This noble protest was effective, and some clemency was afterwards shown. But in 1547 the fanatical king, a mass of physical and moral corruption, soured and gloomy, went to his end amid the barbarities wreaked on the unhappy Vaudois Protestants. The cries of three thousand of his butchered subjects and the smoke from the ruins of twenty-five towns and hamlets were the incense of his spirit's flight.
One important innovation at court, fraught with evil, is due to Francis. "In the matter of ladies," says Du Bellay, "I must confess that before his time they frequented the court but rarely and in small numbers, but Francis on coming to his kingdom and considering that the whole decoration of a court consisted in the presence of ladies, willed to people it with them more than was the custom in ancient times." Then was begun that unhappy intervention of women in the government of the state, the results of which will be only too evident in the further course of this story.
Rise of the Guises—Huguenot and Catholic—the Massacre of St. Bartholomew
"Beware of Montmorency and curb the power of the Guises," was the counsel of the dying Francis to his son. Henry II., dull and heavy-witted that he was, neglected the advice, and the Guises flourished in the sun of royal favour. The first Duke of Guise and founder of his renowned house was Claude, a poor cadet of Rene II., Duke of Lorraine. He succeeded in allying by marriage his eldest son and successor, Francis, to the House of Bourbon; his second son, Charles, became Cardinal of Lorraine, and his daughter, wife to James V. of Scotland. Duke Francis, by his military genius and wise statesmanship; Charles, by his learning and subtle wit, exalted their house to the lofty eminence it enjoyed during the stirring period that now opens. In 1558, after the disastrous defeat of Montmorency at St. Quentin, when Paris lay at the mercy of the Spanish and English armies, the duke was recalled from Italy and made Lieutenant-General of the realm. By a short and brilliant campaign, he expelled the English from Calais, and recovered in three weeks the territory held by them for more than two hundred years. Francis gained an unbounded popularity, and rose to the highest pinnacle of success; but short time was left to his royal master wherein to enjoy a reflected glory. On the 27th June 1559, lists were erected across the Rue St. Antoine, between the Tournelles and the Bastille. The peace with Spain, and the double marriage of the king's daughter to Philip II. of Spain and of his sister to the Duke of Savoy, were to be celebrated by a magnificent tournament in which the king, proud of his strength and bodily address, was to hold the field with the Duke of Guise and the princes against all comers. For three days the king distinguished himself by his triumphant prowess, and at length challenged the Count Montgomery de Lorge, captain of the Scottish Guards; the captain prayed to be excused, but the king insisted and the course was run. Several lances were broken, but in the last encounter, the stout captain failed to lower his shivered lance quickly enough, and the broken truncheon struck the royal visor, lifted it and penetrated the king's eye. Henry fell senseless and was carried to the palace of the Tournelles, where he died after an agony of eleven days. Fifteen years later, Montgomery was captured fighting with the Huguenots, and beheaded on the Place de Greve while Catherine de' Medici looked on "pour gouter," says Felibien quaintly, "le plaisir de se voir vangee de la mort de son mary." The tower in the interior of the Palais de Justice, where the unhappy Scottish noble was imprisoned after his capture, was known as the Tour Montgomery, until demolished in the reign of Louis XVI. There was, however, little love lost between Henry's queen, Catherine de' Medici, and her royal husband, who had long neglected her for the maturer charms of his mistress, Diane de Poitiers.
Henry saw Lescot's admirable design for the reconstruction of the west wing of the Louvre completed. The architect had associated a famous sculptor, Jean Goujon, with him, who executed the beautiful figures in low relief which still adorn the quadrangle front between the Pavilion de l'Horloge and the south-west angle, and the noble Caryatides, which support the musicians' gallery in the Salle Basse, or Grande Salle of Charles V.'s Louvre, now known as the Salle des Caryatides. The agreement, dated 5th September 1550, awards forty-six livres each for the four plaster models and eighty crowns each for the four carved figures. Lescot preserved the external wall of the old chateau as the kernel of his new wing, and the enormous strength of the original building of Philip Augustus may be estimated by the fact that the embrasures of each of the five casements of the first floor looking westwards now serve as offices. So grandement satisfait was Henry with the perfection of Lescot's work, that he determined to continue it along the remaining three wings, that the court of the Louvre might be a cour non-pareille. The south wing was, however, only begun when his tragic death occurred, and the present inconsequent and huge fabric is the work of a whole tribe of architects, whose intermittent activities extended over the reigns of nine French sovereigns.
Lescot and Goujon were also associated in the construction of the most beautiful Renaissance fountain in Paris, the Fontaine des Innocents, which formerly stood against the old church of the Innocents at the corner of the Rue aux Fers. It was while working on one of the figures of this fountain that Jean Goujon is traditionally said to have been shot as a Huguenot during the massacre of St. Bartholomew.
[Footnote 111: A document recently discovered at Modena however, proves that Goujon, after the massacre of Vassy, fled to Italy with other Protestants and died in obscurity at Bologna.]
Europe was now in travail of a new era, and unhappy France reeled under the tempest of the Reformation. A daring spirit of enquiry and of revolt challenged every principle on which the social fabric had been based, and the only refuge in the coming storm in France was the Monarchy. Never had its power been more absolute. The king's will was law—a harbour of safety, indeed, if he were strong and wise and virtuous: a veritable quicksand, if feeble and vicious. And to pilot the state of France in these stormy times, Henry II. left a sickly progeny of four princes, miserable puppets, whose favours were disputed for thirty years by ambitious and fanatical nobles, queens and courtesans.
Francis II., a poor creature of sixteen years, the slave of his wife Marie Stuart and of the Guises, was called king of France for seventeen months. He it was who sat daily by Mary in the royal garden, on the terrace at Amboise overlooking the Loire, and, surrounded by his brothers and the ladies of the court, gazed at the revolting and merciless executions of the Protestant conspirators, who, under the Prince of Conde, had plotted to destroy the Guises and to free the king from their influence. It was the first act in a horrible drama, a dread pursuivant of the civil and religious wars which were to culminate in the massacre of St. Bartholomew at Paris. The stake was a high one, for the victory of the reformers would sound the death-knell of the Catholic cause in Europe. There is little reason to doubt that the queen-mother, Catherine de' Medici, who now emerges into prominence, was genuinely sincere in her disapproval of the horrors of Amboise, and in her efforts to bring milder counsels to bear in dealing with the Huguenots whom she feared less than the Guises; but the fierce passions roused by civil and religious hatred were uncontrollable. When the Huguenot noble, Villemongis, was led to the scaffold at Amboise, he dipped his hands in the blood of his slaughtered comrades, and, lifting them to heaven, cried: "Lord, behold the blood of Thy children; Thou wilt avenge them." It has been truly said that the grass soon grows over blood, shed on the battle-field; never over blood shed on the scaffold. Treachery and assassination were the interludes of plots and battles, and the thirst for vengeance during thirty years was never slaked. In 1563 the Duke of Guise was shot in the back by a fanatical Huguenot, and as the wounded Prince of Conde was surrendering his sword to the Duke of Anjou after the defeat of 1569, the Baron de Montesquieu, brave et vaillant gentilhomme, says Brantome, rode up, exclaiming: "Mort Dieu! kill him! kill him!" and blew out the wounded captive's brains with a pistol shot.
[Footnote 112: One thousand two hundred are said to have suffered death during the month of vengeance.]
The treaty of St. Germain, which has so often been charged on Catherine as an act of perfidy, was rather an imperative necessity, if respite were to be had from the misery into which the land had fallen. Its conditions were honourably carried out, and Catholic excesses were impartially and severely repressed. Charles IX., who was now twenty years of age and strongly attached to Coligny, began to assert his independence of the queen-mother and of the Guises, and his first movement was in the direction of conciliation. The young king offered the hand of his fair sister, Princess Marguerite, to Henry of Navarre, and received the Admiral and Jeanne of Navarre with much honour at court. Pressure was brought to bear upon him, but, pope or no pope, said Charles, he was determined to conclude the marriage and himself would take Margot by the hand in open church and give her away. The party of the Guises, and especially Paris, were furious. The capital, with the provost, the Parlement, the university, the prelates, the religious orders, had always been hostile to the Huguenots. The people could with difficulty be restrained at times from assuming the office of executioners as Protestants were led to the stake. Any one who did not uncover as he passed the image of the Virgin at the street corners, or who omitted to bend the knee as the Host was carried by, was attacked as a Lutheran. When the heralds published the peace with the Huguenots at the crossways of Paris, filth and mud were thrown at them, and they went in danger of their lives: now Coligny and his Huguenots were holding their heads high in Paris, proud and insolent and a heretic prince of Navarre was to wed the king's sister.
[Footnote 113: Henry of Guise had succeeded to the dukedom after his father's assassination.]
Jeanne of Navarre died soon after her arrival at court, but the alliance was hurried on. The betrothal took place in the Louvre, and on Sunday, 17th August 1572, a high dais was erected outside Notre Dame for the celebration of the marriage. When the ceremony had been performed by the Cardinal de Bourbon, Henry conducted his bride to the choir of the cathedral, and went walking in the bishop's garden while mass was sung. The office ended, he returned and led his wife to the bishop's palace to dinner, and a magnificent state supper at the Louvre concluded this momentous day. Three days of balls, masquerades and tourneys followed, amid the murmuring of a sullen populace. These were the noces vermeilles—the red nuptials—of Marguerite of France and Henry of Navarre.
[Footnote 114: Suspicions of poison were entertained by the Huguenots. Jeanne, in a letter to the Marquis de Beauvais, complained that holes were made in her rooms and wardrobes that she might be spied upon.]
Meanwhile Catherine and Charles had differed on a matter of foreign policy. Her support of the Prince of Orange against Spain in the Netherlands was conditional on an alliance with England and the marriage of her son the Duke of Alencon with Elizabeth. But the English Queen's habitual duplicity made any reliance on her word impossible and when Marie learned that Elizabeth, while professing her inclination for the Duke and her desire to aid the Protestant cause in Flanders, was protesting to her Council that she would never marry a boy with a pock-spoiled face, and was in secret communication with Alva, to turn the situation to her own profit, she flung herself into Guise's arms and abandoned Coligny and the Huguenots: for the disastrous defeat of the Protestants at Mons and the growing fury of the Catholic fanatics at Paris, threatened to wreck the throne, and while Elizabeth was toying with these tremendous issues the furies were let loose. Charles still chivalrously determined to stand by Coligny. Catherine, terrified at the result of her own work, and resolved to regain her ascendency, conspired with her third son, the Prince of Anjou, the future Henry III., to destroy and have done with the Protestants. Coligny had often been warned of the danger he would run in Paris, but the stout old soldier knew no fear, and came to take part in the festivities of the wedding. The sounds of revelry had barely died away when Coligny, who was returning from the Louvre, by the east gate, the Porte Bourbon, to his hotel, walking slowly and reading a petition, was fired at from a window as he passed the cloister of St. Germain l'Auxerrois, and wounded in the arm. He stopped and noted the house whence the smoke came: it was the house of the preceptor of the Duke of Guise. The king was playing at tennis when the news reached him: he flung down his racquet, exclaiming, "What! shall I never be in peace? must I suffer new trouble every day?" and went moody and pensive to his chamber. In a few moments the Prince of Conde and Henry of Navarre burst in, uttering indignant protests, and begged permission to leave Paris. Charles assured them he would do justice, and that they might safely remain: in the afternoon he went with his mother and the princes to visit the admiral. The king asked to be left alone in the wounded man's chamber, remained a long time with him, and protesting that though the wound was his friend's, the grief was his own, swore to avenge him.
Coligny once again was warned by his friends to beware of the court, but he refused to distrust Charles. Many and conflicting are the reports of what followed. We shall not be accused of any Protestant bias if we base our story mainly on that of the two learned Benedictine priests who are responsible for five solid tomes of the Histoire de la Ville de Paris. On the morrow of the attempt on Coligny's life, the queen-mother invited Charles and his brother of Anjou to walk, after dinner, in the garden of her new palace in the Tuileries: they were joined by the chief Catholic leaders, and a grand council was held. The queen dwelt on the perilous situation of the monarchy and the Catholic cause, and urged that now was the time to act: Coligny lay wounded; Navarre and Conde were in their power at the Louvre; for ten Huguenots in Paris the Catholics could oppose a thousand armed men; rid France of the Huguenot chiefs and a formidable evil were averted. Her course was approved, but the leaders shrank from including the two princes of Navarre and Conde: they were to be given their choice—recantation or death. By order of the king 12,000 arquebusiers were placed along the river and the streets, and arms were carried into the Louvre. The admiral's friends, alarmed at the sinister preparations, protested to Charles but were reassured and told to take Cosseins and fifty arquebusiers to guard his house. The provost of Paris was then summoned by the Duke of Guise and ordered to arm and organise the citizens and proceed to the Hotel de Ville at midnight. The king, Guise said, would not lose so fair an opportunity of exterminating the Huguenots. The Catholic citizens were to tie a piece of white linen on their left arm and place a white cross in their caps that they might be recognised by their friends. At midnight the windows of their houses were to be illuminated by torches, and at the first sound of the great bell at the Palais de Justice the bloody work was to begin. Meanwhile Catherine, doubtful of Charles, repaired to his chamber with Anjou and her councillors to fix his wavering purpose; she heaped bitter reproaches upon him, worked on his fears with stories of a vast Huguenot conspiracy and hinted that cowardice prevented him from seizing the fairest opportunity that God had ever offered, to free himself from his enemies. She repeated an Italian prelate's vicious epigram: "Che pieta lor ser crudel, che crudelta lor ser pietosa," and concluded by threatening to leave the court with the Duke of Anjou rather than witness the destruction of the Catholic cause. Charles, who had listened sullenly, and, if we may believe Anjou, for a long while angrily refused to sacrifice Coligny, was at length stung by the taunt of cowardice and broke into a delirium of passion; he swore by la mort dieu to compass the death of every Huguenot in France, that none might be left to reproach him afterwards.
[Footnote 115: Felibien and Lobineau, 1725.]
[Footnote 116: Catherine was accustomed to treat of important state matters requiring absolute secrecy in her new garden. The pourparlers between her and Lord Buckhurst, relative to the proposed marriage of Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Anjou, took place under the trees in the Tuileries garden.]
[Footnote 117: "That to show pity was to be cruel to them: to be cruel to them was to show pity."]
Catherine gave him no time for farther vacillation. The great bell of St. Germain l'Auxerrois was rung, and at two in the morning of Sunday, St. Bartholomew's Day, 24th August 1572, the Duke of Guise and his followers issued forth to do their Sabbath morning's work. Cosseins saw his leader coming and knew what was expected of him. Guise, who believed the blood of his murdered father lay on Coligny's head, made sure of his vengeance. The admiral's door was forced, his servants were poignarded, and Besme, a German in the service of Guise, followed by others, burst into his room. The old man stood erect in his robe de chambre, facing his murderers. "Art thou the admiral?" demanded Besme. "I am he," answered Coligny with unfaltering voice and, gazing steadily at the naked sword pointed at his breast, added, "Young man, thou shouldst show more respect to my white hairs; yet canst thou shorten but little my brief life." For answer he was pierced by Besme's sword and stabbed to death by his companions. Guise stood waiting in the street below and the body was flung down to him from the window. He wiped the blood from the old man's face, looked at it, and said, "It is he!" Spurning the body with his foot he cried, "Courage, soldiers! we have begun well; now for the others, the king commands it." Meanwhile the bell of the Palais de Justice, answering that of St. Germain, was booming forth its awful summons, and the citizens hastened to perform their part.
All the Huguenot nobles dwelling near the admiral were pitilessly murdered, and a similar carnage took place at the Louvre. Marguerite, the young bride of Navarre, in her Memoirs, tells of the horrors of that morning, how, when half-asleep, a wounded Huguenot nobleman rushed into her chamber, pursued by four archers, and flung himself on her bed imploring protection, followed by a captain of the guard from whom she gained his life. She entreated the captain to lead her to her sister's room, and as she fled thither, more dead than alive, another fugitive was hewn down by a hallebardier only three paces from her; she fell fainting in the captain's arms. Meanwhile Charles, the queen-mother, and Anjou, after the violent scene in the king's chamber, had lain down for two hours' rest and then went to a window which overlooked the basse-cour of the Louvre, to see the "beginning of the executions." If we may believe Henry's story, they had not been there long before the sound of a pistol shot filled them with dread and remorse, and a messenger was sent to bid Guise spare the admiral and stay the whole undertaking; but the nobleman who had been sent returned saying that Guise had told him it was too late: the admiral was dead, and the executions had begun all over the city. A dozen Protestant nobles of the suites of Conde and Navarre, who at the king's invitation had taken up their quarters in the Louvre, were seized; one was even dragged from a sick-bed: all were taken to the courtyard and hewn in pieces by the Swiss guards under the eyes of Charles, who cried: "Let none escape." Meantime the Catholic leaders had been scouring the streets on horseback, shouting to the people that a Huguenot conspiracy to murder the king had been discovered, and that it was the king's wish that all the Huguenots should be destroyed.
A list of the Huguenots in Paris had been prepared and all their houses marked. None was spared. Old and young, women and children, were pitilessly butchered. All that awful Sunday the orgy of slaughter and pillage went on; every gate of the city had been closed and the keys brought to the king. Night fell and the carnage was not stayed. Two days yet and two nights the city was a prey to the ministers of death, and some Catholics, denounced by personal enemies, were involved in the massacre. The resplendent August sun, the fair sky and serene atmosphere were held to be a divine augury, and a white thorn in the cemetery of the Innocents blooming out of season was hailed as a miracle and a visible token from God that the Catholic religion was to blossom again by the destruction of the Huguenots. The murders did not wholly cease until September. Various were the estimates of the slain—20,000, 5,000, 2,000. A goldsmith named Cruce went about displaying his robust arm and boasting that he had accounted for 400 Huguenots. The streets, the front of the Louvre, the public places were blocked by dead bodies; tumbrils were hired to throw them into the Seine, which literally for days ran red with blood.
[Footnote 118: The municipality gave presents of money to the archers who had taken part in the massacre, to the watermen who prevented the Huguenots from crossing the Seine, and to grave-diggers for having buried in eight days about 1,100 bodies.]
The princes of Navarre and Conde saw the privacy of their chambers violated by a posse of archers on St. Bartholomew's morning; they were forced to dress and were haled before the king, who with a fierce look and glaring eyes, swore at them, reproached them for waging war upon him, and ordered them to change their religion. On their refusal he grew furious with rage, and by dint of threats wrung from them a promise to go to mass.
Charles is said to have stood at a window in the Petite Galerie of the Louvre and to have fired across the river with a long arquebus on some Huguenots who, being lodged on the southern side, in the Huguenot quarter, known as la petite Geneve, had escaped massacre, and were riding up to learn what was passing. The statement is much canvassed by authorities. It is at least permissible to doubt the assertion, since the first floor of the Petite Galerie, where the king is traditionally believed to have placed himself, was not in existence before the time of Henry IV. If the ground floor be meant, a further difficulty arises from the fact that the southern end was not furnished with a window in Charles IX.'s time.
[Footnote 119: Now known as the Galerie d'Apollon.]
On the 26th of August the king was forced to avow responsibility before the Parlement for measures which he alleged had been necessary to suppress a Huguenot insurrection aiming at the assassination of himself and the royal family and the destruction of the Catholic religion in France. The ears of the Catholic princes of Europe and of the pope were abused by this specious lie; they believed that the Catholic cause had been saved from ruin; the so-called victory was hailed with transports of joy, and a medal was struck in Rome to celebrate the defeat of the Huguenots.
[Footnote 120: Ugonottorum strages. Inscription on the obverse of the medal.]
Such was the massacre of St. Bartholomew in Paris. The death-roll of the victims is known to the Recording Angel alone. It was a tremendous folly no less than an indelible crime, for it steeled the heart of every Protestant to avenge his slaughtered brethren. To "take Paris justice" became synonymous with assassination all over Protestant Europe.
Many of the Huguenot leaders escaped from Paris while the soldiers sent to despatch them were pillaging, and the flames of civil strife burst forth fiercer than ever. The court had prepared for massacre, not for war; and while the king was receiving the felicitations of the courts of Spain and Rome, he was forced by the Peace of La Rochelle to concede liberty of conscience to the Protestants and to restore their sequestered estates and offices. After two years of agony of mind and remorse, Charles IX. lay dying of consumption, abandoned by all save his faithful Huguenot nurse. The blood flowing from his nostrils seemed a token of God's wrath; and moaning "Ah! ma mie, what bloodshed! what murders! I am lost! I am lost!" the poor crowned wretch passed to his account. He had not yet reached his twenty-fourth year.
Henry III.—The League—Siege of Paris by Henry IV.—His Conversion, Reign and Assassination
When the third of Catherine's sons, having resigned the sovereignty of Poland, was being consecrated at Rheims, the crown is said to have twice slipped from his head, the insentient diadem itself shrinking in horror from the brow of a prince destined to pollute it with deeper shame. Treacherous and bloody, Henry mingled grovelling piety with debauchery, and made of the court at Paris a veritable Alsatia, where paid assassins who stabbed from behind and mignons who struck to the face, were part of the train of every prince. The king's minions with their insolent bearing, their extravagant and effeminate dress, their hair powdered and curled, their neck-ruffles so broad that their heads resembled the head of John the Baptist on a charger,—gambling, blaspheming swashbucklers—were hateful alike to Huguenot and Catholic. On 29th April 1578 three of them fought out a famous quarrel with three of the Guises' bullies at the horse market subsequently converted into the Place Royale. The duel began at five o'clock in the morning and was fought so furiously that three of the combatants lost their lives. Quelus, the king's favourite minion, with fifteen wounds, lingered for thirty-three days, Henry constantly at his bedside and offering in vain large sums of money to the surgeons to save him.
Less than four years after St. Bartholomew the Peace of 1576 gave the Huguenots all they had ever demanded or hoped for. In 1582 died the Duke of Alencon, Catherine's last surviving son and heir to the throne; Henry, in spite of a pilgrimage on foot by himself and his queen to Notre Dame de Clery from which they returned with blistered feet, gave no hope of posterity and the Catholic party were confronted by the possibility of the sceptre of St. Louis descending to a relapsed heretic. A tremendous wave of feeling ran through France, and a Holy League was formed to meet the danger, with the Duke of Guise as leader. The king tried in vain to win some of the Huguenot and League partisans by the solemn institution of the Order of the Holy Ghost, in the church of the Augustinians, to commemorate his elevation to the thrones of Poland and France on the day of Pentecost. The people were equally recalcitrant. When Henry entered Paris after the campaign of 1587, they shouted for their idol, the Balafre, crying, "Saul has slain his thousands but David his tens of thousands." The king in his jealousy and disgust forbade Guise to enter Paris; Guise coolly ignored the command, and a few months later arrived at the head of a formidable train of nobles, amid the joyous acclamation of the people, who greeted him with chants of "Hosannah, Filio David!" Angry scenes followed. The duke sternly called his master to duty, and warned him to take vigorous measures against the Huguenots or lose his crown; the king, pale with anger, dismissed him and prepared to strike.
[Footnote 121: Examples of magnificent costumes of the order may be seen in the Cluny Museum.]
[Footnote 122: The Duke of Guise was so called from his face being scarred by a wound received at the battle of Dolmans.]
On the night of the 11th May a force of Royal Guards and 4,000 Swiss mercenaries entered Paris, but the Parisians, with that genius for insurrection which has always characterised them, were equal to the occasion. The sixteen sections into which the communal government of the city was divided met; in the morning the people were under arms; and barricades and chains blocked the streets. The St. Antoine section, ever to the front, stood up to the king's Guards and to the Swiss advancing to occupy their quarter, defeated them, and with exultant cries rushed to threaten the Louvre itself. Henry was forced to send his mother to treat with the duke; she returned with terms that meant a virtual abdication. Henry took horse and fled, vowing he would come back only through a breach in the walls. But Guise was supreme in Paris, and the pitiful monarch was soon forced to yield; he signed the terms of his own humiliation, and went to Blois to meet Guise and the States-General with bitterness in his heart, brooding over his revenge. Visitors to the chateau of Blois, which has the same thrilling interest for the traveller as the palace of Holyrood, will recall the scene of the tragic end of Guise, the incidents of which the official guardians are wont to recite with dramatic gesture. Fearless and impatient of warnings, the great captain fell into the trap prepared for him and was done to death in the king's chamber, like a lion caught in the toils. Henry, who had heard mass and prayed that God would be gracious to him and permit the success of his enterprise, hastened to his mother, now aged and dying. "Madame," said he, "I have killed the king of Paris and am become once more king of France." The Cardinal of Lorraine, separated from the king's chamber only by a partition, paled as he heard his nephew's struggles. "Ne bougez pas," said the Marshal of Aumont putting his hand to his sword, "the king has some accounts to settle with you too." Next morning the old cardinal was led out and hewn in pieces. The two bodies were burnt and the ashes scattered to the winds to prevent their being worshipped as relics: it was Christmas Eve of 1588.
The stupid crime brought its inevitable consequences—
"Revenge and hate bring forth their kind, Like the foul cubs their parents are."
The Commune of Paris and the Leaguers were stung to fury; the Sorbonne declared the king deposed; the pope banned him and a popular preacher called for another blood-letting. Henry, in a final act of shame and despair, flung himself into the king of Navarre's arms, and on the 31st July 1589, the two Henrys encamped at St. Cloud and threatened Paris with an army of 40,000 men. On the morrow Jacques Clement, a young Dominican friar, after preparing himself by fasting, prayer and holy communion, left Paris with a forged letter for the king, reached the camp and asked for a private interview. While Henry was reading the letter the friar snatched a knife from his sleeve and mortally stabbed him. He lingered until 2nd August, and after pronouncing Henry of Navarre his lawful successor and bidding his Council swear allegiance to the new dynasty, the last of the thirteen Valois kings passed to his doom. Catherine de' Medici had already preceded him, burdened with the anathemas of the Cardinal of Bourbon. The people of Paris swore that if her body were brought to St. Denis they would fling it to the shambles or into the Seine, and a famous theologian, preaching at St. Bartholomew's church, declared to the faithful that he knew not if it were right to pray God for her soul, but that if they cared to give her in charity a Pater or an Ave they might do so for what it was worth. This was the reward of her thirty years of devoted toil, of vigils and of plots to further the Catholic cause. Not until a quarter of a century had passed were her ashes laid beside those of her husband in the rich Renaissance tomb, which still exists, in the royal church of St. Denis. Jacques Clement, who had been cut to pieces by the king's Guards, was worshipped as a martyr, and his mother rewarded for having given birth to the saviour of France.
[Footnote 123: The king had premonitions of a violent end. One day, after keeping Easter at Negeon with great devotion, he suddenly returned to the Louvre and ordered all the lions, bears, bulls, and other wild animals kept in the Hotel des Lions, reconstructed in 1570 for Charles IX., for baiting by dogs, to be shot. He had dreamt that he was set upon and eaten by wild beasts.]
Henry of Navarre, unable to carry on the siege with a divided army, directed his course for Normandy. The exultant Parisians proclaimed the Cardinal of Bourbon king, under the title of Charles X., and the Duke of Mayenne, with a large army, marched forth to give battle to Henry. So confident were the Leaguers of victory, that their leaders hired windows along the Rue St. Antoine to witness the return of the duke bringing the "Bearnais" dead or a prisoner. Henry did indeed return, but it was after a victorious campaign. He captured the Faubourg St. Jacques, and fell upon the abbey of St. Germain des Pres while the astonished monks were preparing to sing mass, climbed the steeple of the church and gazed on Paris. Having refreshed his troops, the Bearnais suffered them to pillage the city south of the Seine, and turned to the west to fix his capital at Tours. In 1590 he won the brilliant victory at Ivry over the armies of the League and of Spain which Macaulay has popularised in a stirring poem: the road to Paris was open and Henry sat down to besiege the city.
[Footnote 124: So called derisively, because he was born and brought up in the poor province of Bearn, in the Pyrenees.]
The Leaguers fought and suffered with the utmost constancy; reliquaries were melted down for money, church bells for cannon, and the clergy and religious orders were caught by the military enthusiasm. The bishop of Senlis and the prior of the Carthusians, two valiant Maccabees, were seen, crucifix in one hand, a pike in the other, leading a procession of armed priests, monks and scholars through the streets. Friars from the mendicant orders were among them, their habits tucked up, hoods thrown back, casques on their heads and cuirasses on their breasts. All marched sword by side, dagger in girdle, musket on shoulder, the strangest army of the church militant ever seen. As they passed the Pont Notre Dame the papal legate was crossing in his carriage, and was asked to stop and give his blessing. After this benediction a salvo of musketry was called for, and some of the host of the Lord, forgetting that their guns were loaded with ball, killed a papal officer and wounded a servant of the ambassador of Spain.
Four months the Parisians endured starvation and all the attendant horrors of a siege, the incidents of which, as described by contemporaries, are so ghastly that the pen recoils from transcribing them. At length, when they were at the last extremity, the Duke of Parma arrived with a Spanish army, forced Henry to raise the siege, and revictualled the city. After war, anarchy. In November 1591 it was discovered that secret letters were passing between Brizard, an officer in the service of the Duke of Mayenne in Paris, and a royalist at St. Denis. The sections demanded Brizard's instant execution, and on his discharge by the Parlement the cure of St. Jacques fulminated against that body and declared that cold steel must be tried (faut jouer des couteaux). A secret revolutionary committee of ten was appointed, and a papier rouge or lists of suspects in all the districts of Paris was drawn up under three categories: P. (pendus), those to be hanged; D. (dagues), those to be poignarded; C. (chasses), those to be expelled. On the night of the 15th November a meeting was held at the house of the cure of St. Jacques, and in the morning the president of the Parlement, Brisson, was seized and dragged to the Petit Chatelet, where a revolutionary tribunal, in black cloaks, on which were sewn large red crosses, condemned him to death. Meanwhile two councillors of the Parlement, Larcher and Tardif, had been seized, the latter by the cure of St. Cosme, and haled to the Chatelet. All three were dragged to a room, and the executioner was forced to hang them from a beam; the bodies were then stripped, an inscription was hung about their necks, and they were suspended from the gallows in the Place de Greve. The sections believed that Paris would rise: they only shocked the more orderly citizens. The Duke of Mayenne, who was at Lyons, on the receipt of the news hastened to Paris, temporised a while and, when sure of support, seized four of the most dangerous leaders of the sections and hanged them without trial in the Salle basse of the Louvre. All save the more violent partisans were now weary of the strife and the Leaguers themselves were divided. The sections aimed at a theocratic democracy; another party favoured the Duke of Mayenne; a third, the Duke of Guise; a fourth, the Infanta of Spain. It was decided to convoke the States-General at Paris in 1593, and a conference was arranged with Henry's supporters at Suresnes. Crowds flocked there, crying, "Peace, peace; blessed be they who bring it; cursed they who prevent it." Henry knew the supreme moment was come. France was still profoundly Catholic: he must choose between his religion and France. He chose to heal his country's wounds and perhaps to save her very existence. Learned theologians were deputed to confer with him at Paris, whom he astonished and confounded by his knowledge of Scripture; they declared that they had never met a heretic better able to defend his cause. But on 23rd July 1573, he professed himself convinced, and the same evening wrote to his mistress, Gabrielle d'Estrees, that he had spoken with the bishops, and that a hundred anxieties were making St. Denis hateful to him. "On Sunday," he adds, "I am to take the perilous leap. Bonjour, my heart; come to me early to-morrow. It seems a year since I saw you. A million times I kiss the fair hands of my angel and the mouth of my dear mistress."
On Sunday, under the great portal of St. Denis, the archbishop of Bourges sat enthroned in a chair covered with white damask and embroidered with the arms of France and of Navarre. He was attended by many prelates and the prior and monks of St. Denis: the cross and the book of the Gospels were held before him. Henry drew nigh. "Who are you?" demanded the archbishop. "I am the king." "What do you ask?" "I wish to be received in the bosom of the Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church." "Is it your will?" "Yes, I will and desire it." Henry then knelt and made profession of his faith, kissed the prelate's ring, received his blessing and was led to the choir, where he knelt before the high altar and repeated his profession of faith on the holy Gospels amid cries of "Vive le roi!"
The clerical extremists in Paris anathematised all concerned. Violent cures again donned their armour, children were baptised and mass was sung by cuirassed priests. The cure of St. Cosme seized a partisan, and with other fanatics of the League hastened to the Latin Quarter to raise the university. But the people were heartsick of the whole business; and when Henry entered Paris after his coronation at Chartres, resplendent in velvet robes embroidered with gold and seated on his dapple grey charger, his famous helmet with its white plumes ever in his hand saluting the ladies at the windows, he was hailed with shouts of joy. Shops were reopened, the artisan took up his tools and the merchant went to his counter with a sigh of relief. A general amnesty was proclaimed, and the Spanish garrison were allowed to depart with their arms. As they filed out of the Porte St. Denis in heavy rain, three thousand strong, the king was sitting at a window above the gates. "Remember me to your master," he cried, "but do not return." On the morrow the provost and sheriffs and chief citizens came to the Louvre bearing presents of sweetmeats, sugar-plums and malmsey wine. "Yesterday I received your hearts, to-day I receive your sweets," the king remarked; all were charmed by his wit, his forbearance and generosity. The stubborn university was last to give way, but when the doctors of theology learnt that Henry had touched for the king's evil and that many had been cured, they too were convinced. Paris, "well worth a mass," was wooed and won. The memorable Edict of Nantes established liberty of worship and political equality for the Protestants. The war with Spain was brought to a successful issue, and Henry, with his minister the Duke of Sully, probably the greatest financial genius France has ever known, by wise and firm statesmanship lifted the country from bankruptcy to prosperity and contentment.
Henry, like one of his predecessors, had of bastards et bastardes une moult belle compagnie, but as yet no legitimate heir. A divorce from Marguerite of Valois and a politic marriage with the pope's niece, Marie de' Medici, gave him a magnificent dowry (600,000 golden crowns and a yearly income of 20,000), an additional bond to the papacy, and several children. Margot, once convinced that the divorce was not to enable Henry to marry that bagasse Gabrielle, made small objection and soon consoled herself. In 1606 one of her discarded lovers was executed in front of her dwelling in the palace of the archbishop of Sens for having shot his rival in her affections, a young page of twenty, as he was handing her into her carriage.
[Footnote 125: Her majesty, we learn from the Memoires of L'Estoile, was of a rich figure, stout, fine eyes and complexion. She used no paint, powder or other vilanie.]
Like all his race, Henry was susceptible to the charms of the daughters of Eve, but, unlike his descendants, he never sacrificed France to their tears and wiles. When the question of the succession was urgent and he thought of marrying Gabrielle d'Estrees, Sully opposed the union. The impatient Gabrielle used all her powers of fascination to compass the dismissal of the great minister, who was present at the interview in her room at the cloister of St. Germain, and who has left us a vivid description of the scene. Gabrielle burst into passionate reproaches and employed in turn all the arts of feminine guile. Her eyes streaming with tears, sobbing and wailing, she seized her royal lover's hand and smothered it with kisses; she called for a poignard that by plunging it into her heart he might behold his image graven there; she appealed to his love for their children and flung herself hysterically on the bed, protesting she could live no longer seeing herself disgraced, and a servant whom so many complained of, preferred to a mistress whom all praised. It was of no avail. "Let me tell you," answered Henry, calmly, "if I must choose between you and Sully, I would sooner part with ten mistresses such as you than one faithful servant such as he."
In 1610 the king was making great preparations for a war with Austria, and, on the 14th May, desiring to consult Sully, who was unwell in his rooms at the Arsenal, he determined to spare him the fatigue of travelling to the Louvre, and to drive to the Arsenal. With much foreboding the king had agreed to the coronation of Marie de' Medici, which had been celebrated at St. Denis with great pomp. The ceremony was attended by two sinister incidents: the Gospel for the day, taken from Mark x., included the answer of Jesus to the Pharisees who tempted Him by asking—"Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife?"—the Gospel was hurriedly changed; and when the usual largesse of gold and silver pieces was thrown to the crowd not a voice cried, "Vive le roi," or "Vive la reine." That night the king tossed restless on his bed, pursued by evil dreams. On the morrow his counsellors begged him to defer his journey, but nineteen plots to assassinate him had already failed: he gently put aside their warnings, and repeated his favourite maxim that fear had no place in a generous heart. It was a warm day, and the king entered his open carriage, attended by the Dukes of Epernon and Montbazon and five other courtiers; a number of valets de pied followed him. In the narrow Rue de la Ferronnerie the carriage was stopped by a block in the traffic, and the servants were sent round by the cemetery of the Innocents. While the king was listening to the reading of a letter by the Duke of Epernon, one Francis Ravaillac, who had been watching his opportunity for twelve months, placed his foot on a wheel of the coach, leaned forward, and plunged a knife into the king's breast. Before he could be seized he pulled out the fatal steel and doubled his thrust, piercing him to the heart. "Je suis blesse," cried Henry, and never spoke again. Ravaillac was seized, and all the refined cruelties inflicted on regicides were practised upon him. He was dragged to the Place de Greve, his right hand cut off, and, with the fatal knife, flung into the flames; the flesh was torn from his arms, breast and legs; melted lead and boiling oil were poured into the wounds. Horses were then tied to each of his four limbs, the body was torn to pieces and burnt to ashes. Some writers have inculpated the Jesuits for the murder, but it may more reasonably be attributed to the fury of a crazy fanatic. Certain it is that Henry's heart was given to the Jesuits for the church of their college of la Fleche, which was founded by him.
[Footnote 126: In 1586 six poor wretches convicted of plotting the assassination of Queen Elizabeth were dragged to Tyburn, "hanged but for a moment, taken down while the susceptibility of agony was unimpaired and cut in pieces afterwards with due precautions for the protraction of the pain."—Froude's History.]
The first Bourbon king has left his impress on the architecture of Paris. "Soon as he was master of Paris," says a contemporary, "one saw naught but masons at work." Small progress had been made during the reign of Henry II.'s three sons with their father's plans for the rebuilding of the Louvre. The work had been continued along the river front after Lescot's death in 1578 by Baptiste du Cerceau, and Catherine de' Medici had erected a gallery on the south, known as the Petite Galerie—a ground-floor building with a terrace on top, intended for a meeting-place and promenade but not for residence. She had also begun in 1564 the palace of the Tuileries, which, like the Louvre, was designed to be a quadrangular building and of which the west wing alone was ever constructed, but abandoned it on being warned by her astrologer, Ruggieri, that she should die under the ruins of a house near St Germain. Henry, soon after he had entered Paris, elaborated a vast scheme for finishing the Tuileries, demolishing the churches of St. Thomas and St. Nicholas, quadrupling the size of the old Louvre, and joining the two palaces by continuing the Grande Galerie, already begun by Catherine, to the west, to afford a means of escape in the event of an attack on the Louvre. Towards the east the hotels d'Alencon, de Bourbon and the church of St. Germain l'Auxerrois were to be demolished, and a great open space was to be levelled between the new east front of the Louvre and the Pont Neuf. At Henry's accession Catherine's architects, Philibert de l'Orme and Jean Bullant, had completed the superb domed central pavilion of the Tuileries, with its two contiguous galleries, and begun the end pavilions, the former using the Ionic order as a delicate flattery of Catherine, "since among the ancients that order was employed in temples dedicated to a goddess." The gardens, with the famous maze and Palissy's beautiful grotto or fountain, had been completed in 1476, and for some years were a favourite promenade for Catherine and her court. Henry's plans were so far carried out that on New Year's day, 1606, he could lead the Dauphin along the Grande Galerie to the Pavilion de Flore at the extreme west of the river front, and enter the south wing of the Tuileries which had been extended to meet it. The Pavilion de Flore thus became the angle of junction between the two palaces. An upper floor was imposed on the Petite Galerie, and adorned with paintings representing the kings of France. Unhappily the fire of 1661 destroyed all the portraits save that of Marie de' Medici by Porbus, and all the subsequent decorations by Poussin. Henry intended the ground floor of the Grande Galerie for the accommodation of his best craftsmen—painters, sculptors, goldsmiths, tapestry weavers, smiths, and others. The quadrangle, however, remained as the last Valois had left it—half Renaissance, half Gothic—and the north-east and south-east towers of the original chateau were still standing to be drawn by Sylvestre towards the middle of the seventeenth century.
[Footnote 127: The new palace was situated in the parish of St. Germain l'Auxerrois, the parish church of the Louvre.]
The unfinished Hotel de Ville was taken in hand after more than half-a-century and practically completed. The larger, north portion of the Pont Neuf was built, the two islets west of the Cite were incorporated with the island to form the Place Dauphine and the ground that now divides the two sections of the bridge—a new street, the Rue Dauphine, being cut through the garden of the Augustins and the ruins of the college of St. Denis. The Place Royale (now des Vosges) was designed and partly built—that charming relic of seventeenth and eighteenth century fashionable Paris, where Moliere's Precieuses lived.
[Footnote 128: The north tower was left only partially constructed, and was finished by Louis XIII.]
Henry also partly rebuilt the Hotel Dieu, created new streets, and widened others. New fountains and quays were built; the Porte du Temple was reopened, and the Porte des Tournelles constructed. Unhappily, some of the old wooden bridges remained, and on Sunday, 22nd December 1596, the Pont aux Meuniers (Miller's Bridge), just below the Pont au Change, suddenly collapsed, with all its shops and houses, and sixty persons perished. They were not much regretted, for most of them had enriched themselves by the plunder of Huguenots, and during the troubles of the League. The bridge was rebuilt of wood, at the cost of the captain of the corps of archers, and as the houses were painted each with the figure of a bird, the new bridge was known as the Pont aux Oiseaux (Bridge of Birds). It spanned the river from the end of the Rue St. Denis and the arch of the Grand Chatelet to the Tour de l'Horloge of the Palais de Justice. In 1621, however, it and the Pont au Change were consumed by fire in a few hours and, in 1639, the two wooden bridges were replaced by a bridge of stone, the Pont au Change, which stood until rebuilt in 1858.
[Footnote 129: By a curious coincidence the widening of the Rue de la Ferronnerie had been ordered just before the king was assassinated.]
We are able to give the impression which the Paris of Henri Quatre made on an English traveller, a friend of Ben Jonson and author of Coryat's Crudities, hastily gobbled up in five months' Travell. The first objects that met Coryat's eye are characteristic. As he travelled along the St. Denis road he passed "seven faire pillars of freestone at equal distances, each with an image of St. Denis and his two companions, and a little this side of Paris was the fairest gallows I ever saw, built on Montfaucon, which consisted of fourteene fair pillars of freestone." He notes "the fourteene gates of Paris, the goodly buildings, mostly of fair, white stone and"—a detail always unpleasantly impressed on travellers—"the evil-smelling streets, which are the dirtiest and the most stinking I ever saw in any city in my life. Lutetia! well dothe it brooke being so called from the Latin word lutum, which signifieth dirt." Coryat was impressed by the bridges—"the goodly bridge of white freestone nearly finished (the Pont Neuf); a famous bridge that far exceedeth this, having one of the fairest streets in Paris called our Ladies street; the bridge of Exchange where the goldsmiths live; St. Michael's bridge, and the bridge of Birds." He admires the "Via Jacobea, full of booke-sellers' faire shoppes, most plentifully furnished with bookes, and the fair building, very spacious and broad, where the Judges sit in the Palais de Justice, the roofs sumptuously gilt and embossed, with an exceeding multitude of great, long bosses hanging downward." Coryat next visited the fine quadrangle of the Louvre, whose outside was exquisitely wrought with festoons, and decked with many stately pillars and images. From Queen Mary's bedroom he went to a room "which excelleth not only all that are now in the world but also all that were since the creation thereof, even a gallery, a perfect description whereof would require a large volume, with a roofe of most glittering and admirable beauty. Yea, so unspeakably fair is it that a man can hardly comprehend it in his mind that hath not seen it with his bodily eyes." The Tuileries gardens were the finest he ever beheld for length of delectable walks.
[Footnote 130: They marked the seven resting-places of the saint as he journeyed to St. Denis after his martyrdom.]
[Footnote 131: The Grande Galerie.]
Next day Coryat saw the one thing above all he desired to see, "that most rare ornament of learning Isaac Casaubon," who told him to observe "a certain profane, superstitious ceremony of the papists—a bedde carried after a very ethnicall manner, or rather a canopy in the form of a bedde, under which the Bishop of the city, with certain priests, carry the Sacrament. The procession of Corpus Christi," he adds, "though the papists esteemed it very holy, was methinks very pitiful. The streets were sumptuously adorned with paintings and rich cloth of arras, the costliest they could provide, the shews of Our Lady street being so hyperbolical in pomp that it exceedeth all the rest by many degrees. Upon public tables in the streets they exposed rich plate as ever I saw in my life, exceeding costly goblets and what not tending to pomp; and on the middest of the tables stood a golden crucifix and divers other gorgeous images. Following the clergy, in capes exceeding rich, came many couples of little singing choristers, which, pretty innocent punies, were so egregiously deformed that moved great pity in any relenting spectator, being so clean shaved round about their heads that a man could perceive no more than the very rootes of their hair."
At the royal suburb Coryat saw "St. Denis, his head enclosed in a wonderful, rich helmet, beset with exceeding abundant pretious stones," but the skull itself he "beheld not plainly, only the forepart through a pretty, crystall glass, and by light of a wax candle."
Paris under Richelieu and Mazarin
Before Coryat left Paris he rode a sorry jade to Fontainebleau which, "though I did excarnificate his sides," would not stir until a gentleman of the court drew his rapier and ran him to the "buttock." At the palace he saw the "Dolphin whose face was full and fat-cheeked, his hair black, his look vigorous and courageous." The Dolphin that Coryat saw came to the throne, at nine years of age, in 1610, as Louis XIII. For a time the regent, Marie de' Medici, was content to suffer the great Sully to hold office, but soon favouritism and the greed of princes, to the ill-hap of France, drove him in the prime of life from Paris into the retirement of his chateau of Villebon, and a feeble and venal Florentine, Concini, who came to Paris in the time of Marie, took his place. The Prince of Conde, now a Catholic, the Duke of Mayenne, and a pack of nobles fell upon the royal treasury like hounds on their quarry. In 1614, so critical was the financial situation, that the States-General were called to meet in the Salle Bourbon, but to little purpose. Recriminations were bandied between the noblesse and the Tiers Etat. The insolence of the former was intolerable. One member of the Tiers was thrashed by a noble and could obtain no redress. The clergy refused to bear any of the public burdens. The orator of the Tiers, speaking on his knees according to usage, warned the court that despair might make the people conscious that a soldier was none other than a peasant bearing arms, and that when the vine-dresser took up the arquebus he might one day cease to be the anvil and become the hammer. But there was no thought for the common weal; each order wrangled for its own privileges, and their meeting-place was closed on the pretext that the hall was wanted for a royal ballet. No protest was raised, and the States-General never met again until the fateful meeting at Versailles, in 1789, when a similar pretext was tried, with very different consequences. Among the clergy, however, sat a young priest of twenty-nine years of age, chosen for their orator, Armand Duplessis de Richelieu, who made rapid strides to fame.
[Footnote 132: In the Hotel de Bourbon, east of the old Louvre, sometimes known as the Petit Bourbon. It was demolished to give place to the new east facade of the Louvre.]
In 1616 the nobles were once more in arms, and Conde was again bought off. The helpless court was in pitiful straits and the country drifting to civil war, when Richelieu, who, meanwhile, had been made a royal councillor and minister for foreign affairs, took the Conde business in hand. He had the prince arrested in the Louvre itself and flung into the Bastille; the noble blackmailers were declared guilty of treason, and three armies marched against them. The triumph of the court seemed assured, when Louis XIII., now sixteen years of age, suddenly freed himself from tutelage, and with the help of the favourite companion of his pastimes, Albert de Luynes, son of a soldier of fortune, determined to rid himself of Concini. The all-powerful Florentine, on 24th April 1617, was crossing the bridge that spanned the eastern fosse of the Louvre, when the captain of the royal Guards, who was accompanied by a score of gentlemen, touched him on the shoulder and told him he was the king's prisoner. "I, a prisoner!" exclaimed Concini, moving his hand towards his sword. Before he could utter another word he fell dead, riddled with pistol shots; Louis appeared at a window, and all the Louvre resounded with cries of "Vive le roi!" Concini's wife, to whom he owed his ascendency over the queen-mother, was accused of sorcery, beheaded and burnt on the Place de Greve; Marie was packed off to Blois and Richelieu exiled to his bishopric of Lucon. De Luynes, enriched by the confiscated wealth of the Concini, now became supreme at Paris only to demonstrate a pitiful incapacity. The nobles had risen and were rallying round Marie; the Protestants were defying the state; but Luynes was impotent, and soon went to a dishonoured grave, leaving chaos behind him.
Richelieu's star was now in the ascendant. The king drew near to his mother, and both turned to the one man who seemed able to knit together the distracted state. A cardinal's hat was obtained for him from Rome, and the illustrious churchman ruled in Paris for eighteen years. Everything went down before his commanding genius, his iron will and his indefatigable industry. "I reflect long," said he, "before making a decision, but once my mind is made up, I go straight to the goal. I mow down all before me, and cover all with my scarlet robe." The Huguenots, backed by the English, aimed at founding an independent republic: Richelieu captured La Rochelle and wiped them out as a political party. The great nobles sought to divide power with the crown: he demolished their fortresses, made them bow their necks to the royal yoke or chopped off their heads. They defied the king's edict against duelling: the Count of Bouteville, the most notorious duellist of his time, and the Count of Les Chapelles were sent to the scaffold for having defiantly fought duels in the Place Royale in open noonday, at which the Marquis of Buffy was killed. The execution made a profound impression, for the Count was a Montmorency, and the Condes, the Orleans, the Montmorencys and all the most powerful nobles brought pressure to bear on the king and swore that the sentence should never be carried out. But Richelieu was firm as a tower. "It is an infamous thing," he told Louis, "to punish the weak alone; they cast no baleful shade: we must keep discipline by striking down the mighty." Richelieu crushed the Parlement and revolutionised the provincial administrations. He maintained seven armies in the field, and two navies on the seas at one and the same time. He added four provinces to France—Alsace, Lorraine, Artois and Rousillon, humiliated Austria and exalted his country to the proud position of dominant factor in European politics. He foiled plot after plot and crushed rebellion. The queen-mother, Gaston Duke of Orleans her second son and heir to the throne, the Marquis of Cinq-Mars the king's own favourite—each tried a fall with the great minister, but was thrown and punished with pitiless severity. Marie herself was driven to exile—almost poverty—at Brussels, and died a miserable death at Cologne. The despicable Gaston, who twice betrayed his friends to save his own skin, was watched, and when the queen, Anne of Austria, gave birth to a son after twenty years of marriage, he was deprived of his dignities and possessions and interned at Blois. The Marquis of Cinq-Mars, and the last Duke of Montmorency, son and grandson of two High Constables of France, felt the stroke of the headsman's axe.
[Footnote 133: The Church of Notre Dame des Victoires commemorates the victory.]
In 1642, when the mighty cardinal had attained the highest pinnacle of success and fame, a mortal disease declared itself. His physicians talked the usual platitudes of hope, but he would have none of them, and sent for the cure of St. Eustache. "Do you pardon your enemies?" the priest asked. "I have none, save those of the state," replied the dying cardinal, and, pointing to the Host, exclaimed, "There is my judge." Louis heard of his death without emotion, and simply remarked—"Well, a great politician has gone." In six months his royal master was gone too.
Paris, under Marie de' Medici and Richelieu, saw many and important changes. In 1612 a new Jacobin monastery was founded in the Rue St. Honore for the reformed Dominicans, destined later to be the theatre of Robespierre's triumphs and to house the great Jacobin revolutionary club. In the same year the queen-regent bought a chateau and garden from the Duke of Piney-Luxembourg, and commissioned her architect, Solomon Debrosse, to build a new palace in the style of the Pitti at Florence. The work was begun in 1615, and resulted in the picturesque but somewhat Gallicised Italian palace which, after descending to Gaston of Orleans and his daughter the Grande Mademoiselle, ends a chequered career as palace, revolutionary prison, house of peers, and socialist meeting-place by becoming the respectable and dull Senate-house of the third Republic. The beautiful Renaissance gardens have suffered but few changes; adorned with Debrosse's picturesque fountain, they form one of the most charming parks in Paris. The same architect was employed to restore the old Roman aqueduct of Arcueil and finished his work in 1624. In 1614 the equestrian statue in bronze of Henry IV., designed by Giovanni da Bologna, and presented to Marie by Cosimo II. of Tuscany, reached Paris after many vicissitudes and was set up on the Pont Neuf by Pierre de Fouqueville, who carved for it a beautiful pedestal of marble, whereon were inscribed the most signal events and victories of Henry's reign. This priceless statue was melted down for cannon during the Revolution, and for years its site was occupied by a cafe. In 1818, during the Restoration, another statue of Henry IV., by Lemot, cast from the melted figure of Napoleon I. on the top of the Vendome column, was erected where it now stands. The founder, who was an imperialist, is said to have avenged the emperor by placing pamphlets attacking the Restoration in the horse's belly.
[Footnote 134: The Marche St. Honore now occupies its site.]
In the seventeenth century the Pont Neuf was one of the busiest centres of Parisian life. Streams of coaches and multitudes of foot-passengers passed by. Booths of all kinds displayed their wares; quacks, mountebanks, ballad-singers and puppet-shows, drew crowds of listeners. Evelyn describes the footway as being three to four feet higher than the road; and at the foot of the bridge, says the traveller, is a water-house, "whereon, at a great height is the story of our Saviour and the Woman of Samaria pouring water out of a bucket. Above is a very rare dyall of several motions with a chime. The water is conveyed by huge wheels, pumps and other engines, from the river beneath." This was the famous Chateau d'Eau, or La Samaritaine, erected in 1608 and rebuilt in 1712 to pump water from the Seine and distribute it to the Louvre and the Tuileries palaces. The timepiece was an industrieuse horloge, which told the hours, days, and months. The present baths of La Samaritaine mark its site and retain its name.
In 1624, Henry the Fourth's great scheme for enlarging and completing the Louvre was committed by Richelieu to his architect, Jacques Lemercier, and the first stone of the Pavilion de l'Horloge was laid on 28th June by Louis. Lemercier was great enough and modest enough to adopt his predecessor's design and having erected the pavilion, continued Lescot's west wing northwards, turned the north-west angle and carried the north wing to about a fourth of its designed extent. The Pavilion de l'Horloge thus became the central feature of the west wing, which was exactly doubled in extent. The south-east and north-east towers of the eastern wing of the old Gothic Louvre, however, remained intact, and even as late as 1650 Sylvestre's drawing shows us the south-east tower still standing and the east wing only partly demolished. Lemercier also designed a grand new palace for the cardinal, north of the Rue St. Honore, including in the plans two theatres: a small one to hold about six hundred spectators, and a larger one, which subsequently became the opera-house, capacious enough to seat three thousand. Magnificent galleries, painted by Philippe de Champaigne and other artists, represented the chief events in the cardinal's reign, and were hung with the portraits of the great men of France, each with a Latin distich in letters of gold. The courts were adorned with carvings of ships' prows and anchors, symbolising the cardinal's function as Grand Master of Navigation; spacious gardens, with an avenue of chestnut trees, which cost 300,000 francs to train, added to its splendours.
In this palace the great minister, busy with a yet vaster scheme for building an immense Place Ducale to the north, passed away leaving its stately magnificence to the king, whose widow, Anne of Austria, inhabited it during the regency with her sons, Louis XIV. and Philip, Duke of Orleans, the founder of the Bourbon-Orleans family. The famous architect, Francois Mansard, was employed by her to extend the Palais Royal as it was then called, which in 1652 was occupied by Henrietta Maria, Charles I.'s widow, whose court ill repaid the hospitality of France by acts of Vandalism. In 1661, on the marriage of Henrietta Anne, her daughter, to the Duke of Orleans it was assigned to the Orleans princes, a portion being reserved for Louis XIV. where he lodged his mistress Mme. de la Valliere. The palace subsequently became infamous as the scene of almost incredible orgies during the regency. In 1730 Philip II.'s austere and pious son, Prince Louis, after having made an auto-da-fe of forty pictures of the nude from the Orleans collection, permitted the destruction of Richelieu's superb avenue of trees. The buildings were further extended by Philip Egalite, who erected shops along the sides of the gardens, which as cafes and gambling-saloons became a haunt of fashionable vice and dissipation in the late eighteenth century. The gardens of the royal palaces had always been open to well-dressed citizens, but notices forbade entrance to beggars, servants, and all ill-clad persons under pain of imprisonment, the carcan, and other graver penalties. Egalite, however, to win popularity, opened his gardens without restriction, and they soon became the forum of the revolutionary agitation. Here Camille Desmoulins declaimed his impassioned orations and called Paris to arms. The gambling-hells, of which there were over three hundred, survived the Revolution, and Bluecher and many an officer of the allied armies lost immense sums there. The Palais Royal became subsequently the residence of Louis Philippe, and now serves as the meeting-place of the Conseil d'Etat.
In the early seventeenth century nine lovers of literature associated themselves for the purpose of holding a friendly symposium, where they discoursed of books, and read and criticised each other's compositions; the meetings were followed by a modest repast and a peripatetic discussion. The masterful cardinal, who would rule the French language as well as the state, called the nine together, and in 1635 organised them into an Academie Francaise, whose function should be to perfect and watch over the purity of the French tongue. The Parlement granted letters-patent, limited the number of academicians to forty, and required them to take cognisance of French authors and the French language alone. The original nine, however, were far from gratified, and always regretted the "golden age" of early days. Richelieu established the Jardin des Plantes for the use of medical students, where demonstrations in botany were given; he rebuilt the college and church of the Sorbonne where his monument, by Girardon from Lebrun's designs, may still be seen. He cheapened the postal service, established the Royal Press at the Louvre which in twenty years published seventy Greek, Latin, Italian and French classics. He issued the first political weekly gazette in France, was a liberal patron of men of letters and of artists, and saw the birth and fostered the growth of the great period of French literary and artistic supremacy.