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prince of the blood, he shall be declared incapable of succeeding to the crown ; if of any other quality, he shall be punished with death; or, if he cannot be laid hold of, a price shall be set on his head. The states will make a general profession of faith ; order the publication of the decrees of the Council of Trent ; place France under the immediate authority of the pope ; confirm the ordinances made for the destruction of heresy ; and revoke all contrary edicts. A time will be allowed for the Calvinists to return to the church, and during that interval, preparations can be made for destroying the more obstinate.'
Such were the purposes of the League ; and accordingly, in the assembly of states held at Blois in December 1576, they carried all before them. It was resolved to renew the war against the Huguenots ; and the king, to preserve the appearance of being such, was forced to declare himself chief of the League. An unsuccessful attempt was also made to detach the king of Navarre from the Protestant party, and bring him back to the bosom of the Catholic Church.
We must hurry over the following eight years, the events of which it would be tiresome to narrate ; nor are they of much consequence in the history of our hero. The war against the Huguenots resolved upon by the League was continued, with occasional intervals of tranquillity, to the year 1580, when a circumstance occurred which brought it to a conclusion. This was the offer of the sovereignty of the Netherlands to Monsieur, the French king's brother, who had been selected by the Dutch as a prince of powerful connections, and likely, therefore, to assist them in their struggle against Philip II. of Spain, whose authority they had thrown off. The proposal being agreeable to the French court, was accepted ; the war in Flanders became the engrossing topic of interest ; and as it was desirable to enlist Protestants as well as Catholics in the expedition of Monsieur to the Netherlands, a peace, which promised to be more lasting than former ones, was agreed to between the court and the Huguenots. “This peace, says Péréfixe, 'caused almost as much mischief to the state as all the preceding wars. The two courts of the two kings, and the two kings themselves, rioted in pleasures ; with this difference always, that our Henry slept not so soundly in his pleasures, but that he paid some attention to business, being roused by the rebukes of the ministers of religion, and the reproaches of the old Huguenot captains, who used great liberties with him; while, on the other hand, Henry III. sank more and more in indolence and effeminacy, so that his subjects only knew of his being still in the world by the perpetual imposition of new taxes to replenish the purses of his favourites.
The expedition of Monsieur to the Netherlands was a failure. Returning in disgrace to France, after having betrayed the trust reposed in him by the Dutch, he died at the Château-Thierry on the joth of June 1584. This was an event of considerable importance
to France and to our hero. The king was childless; and, by Monsieur's death, the king of Navarre became next heir in blood to the French throne. He had a formidable competitor, however, in the person of the Duke of Guise, a man of bold and enterprising views. Urged by some of his friends to begin a movement in France during the absence of Monsieur in the Netherlands, 'No, no,' replied the duke; ‘I will do nothing openly so long as the king has a brother; but if ever I see the last of the Valois on the throne, I intend to go to work so vigorously, that if I do not get all the cake, I shall at least get a good piece of it. Now that the last of the Valois was upon the throne, he redeemed his promise, and began to plot and intrigue for the succession. The claims of the king of Navarre occasioned him little fear. It was not likely, he thought, that a man whose title in blood was so remote, whose means were so insignificant, and who professed the Protestant religion, would be able to obtain the throne when opposed by the head of the Guises, the champion of the League, and the hope of all the Catholics of France. The king of Navarre, on his part, was not idle; residing at Guienne himself, he had trusty friends in Paris, from whom he received intelligence of what was passing there. His wife Margaret, for whom he had never entertained any affection, treating her always, as one of his biographers says, rather as the king's sister than as his: own wife, and whom he permitted to live where and how she chose, was so far his friend, that it is probable she would have acquainted him with any movement hostile to his interests which might come to her knowledge. But the friend on whose services he especially relied was young Bethune-now, by the death of his father, Baron de Rosny-who, at the prince's request, had gone to reside in Paris, to watch and report the motions of the court-party-a duty which his marriage with a young wife did not prevent him from discharging with success and punctuality.
In the year 1585 the League burst forth, if we may use that expression, with a more threatening aspect than it had yet been able to assume. The Duke of Guise, concealing his own ambitious: views, had gained round the king of Navarre's uncle, the Cardinal de Bourbon, a man of sixty years of age, by holding out hopes of the succession to him; and the cardinal had in consequence become the head of the League. Henry III., whose own inclinations were in favour of the succession of the king of Navarre, had made an attempt to persuade him to abandon the Protestant faith, and so remove the principal obstacle in the way; and as a report of the conference held with the king of Navarre for this purpose had been published by the Protestants, exhibiting the prince's firmness, the result had been to strengthen the influence of the League still more. Priests went about the country, inflaming the people with descriptions of the awful consequences which would arise if the king of Navarre were to occupy the throne of France. An immense increase of force was also given to the League by a treaty which was concluded between Philip II. of Spain and the Cardinal de Bourbon; the Spanish monarch agreeing to supply the League with money; and the cardinal, on the other hand, promising, when he should be king, the enforcement of the decrees of the Council of Trent in France, and the expulsion of all heretics from the kingdom. And, as if nothing were to be wanting to complete the triumph of the League, Pope Gregory XIII., who had all along refused to give his sanction to the association, died on the roth of April 1585; and his successor, Sixtus V., fully made up for his indifference. Besides ratifying the League, and giving it his papal blessing, the new pontiff assisted it by fulminating terrible bulls of excommunication against the king of Navarre and the Prince of Condé, declaring them heretics and apostates, and absolving their subjects from all obedience to them.
Entangled in the meshes of so many parties and intrigues, the poor king of France knew not what to do. Although personally inclined to the king of Navarre, in preference to the Duke of Guise, he had felt himself compelled by his mother and the Guises, in whose hands he was a mere puppet, to consent to an edict by which all the Huguenots were required either to go to mass, or to leave the kingdom within six months. When the news of this famous edict, known by the name of the Edict of July, was brought to the king of Navarre, it is said that he fell into a profound reverie, with his chin leaning on his hand, and that, when he removed his hand, his moustaches and beard on that side had grown white. Shortly after the passing of this edict, however, Henry III., ashamed of his weakness, made an attempt to throw off the influence of the Guises, and act for himself ; but in this he signally failed.
Never had our hero greater need of that strength of mind with which he was gifted than at the present conjuncture. To the delight of his friends, he rose with the crisis, as if every new difficulty in his circumstances called forth a corresponding faculty in his nature. He brought into play those higher forces of genius which so frequently upset the calculations of what appears to be
Two proceedings of his at this period were the astonishment of Europe. The first was the publication of an apology or declaration, drawn up at his instance by a gentleman named Plessis-Mornay, wherein he replied to the calumnies of the League, explained those points of his conduct which had been the subjects of attack, and challenged the Duke of Guise, as chief of the League, to decide their quarrel by private combat, one to one, two to two, ten to ten, or as the king might appoint. This challenge, appealing as it did to the chivalrous spirit of the age, produced a wonderful effect, although, as might have been anticipated, it was not accepted. The other proceeding referred to was of an equally uncommon character. Through certain friends in Rome, bold enough to incur risks in his behalf, he caused placards to be posted up in the streets of this papal city, and at the very gates of the papal palace, in which he and the Prince of Condé appealed the pope's sentence of excommunication to the Court of Peers of France; gave the lie to all who charged them with heresy, and offered to prove the contrary in a general council ; and finally threatened the pope with bad consequences to himself and his successors, should he persist in meddling with their affairs. This action, which to some might have appeared a mere piece of theatrical daring, had an evident effect on Sixtus V.-himself a man of ability and resolute purpose—and he was heard to declare, that of all the monarchs in Christendom, there were only two to whom he would communicate the grand schemes he was revolving in his mind-Henry, king of Navarre, and Elizabeth, queen of England; but that, unfortunately, they were heretics.
The war between the Huguenots on the one side, and the League, in alliance with the French king, on the other, was carried on, with several intermissions, to the conclusion of the year 1587., It was with extreme reluctance, however, that Henry III. engaged in it; every day he saw the power of the League increasing, and his own authority diminishing. There had sprung up in Paris a faction called the Sixteen, because its affairs were managed by sixteen members, one for each division of Parisma faction which pushed the doctrines of the League to an extreme length, and was ready to have recourse to the most desperate measures for preserving the supremacy of the Catholic religion. This formidable society had long wrought in secret, but it had become now incorporated with the League, whose counsels it directed. Gladly would the French monarch have formed an alliance with his cousin of Navarre, for the purpose of crushing these enemies to his person and government; but the refusal of the king of Navarre to change his religion, was an insuperable obstacle. In the winter of 1586—87, the queenmother held many conferences with Henry, in which every means was tried to detach him from his party, and induce him to turn Catholic; but all without success. Henry mingled in the fêtes and balls which accompanied the queen-mother wherever she went, and seemed to enjoy the 'pleasures of her court as much as she desired; but whenever she attempted to extort a compromise from him, he was on his guard. Once, when she complained of his obstinacy, and said she sighed for nothing so much as peaceMadame,' he replied, 'I am not the cause of it; it is not I who hinder you from sleeping in your bed, it is you that prevent me from resting in mine. The trouble you give yourself pleases and nourishes you: quiet is the greatest enemy of your life.'. To the Duke de Nevers, who taunted him with the small authority he possessed over his party, saying that he could not even lay a tax on Rochelle if he wanted' money— Monsieur,' he said, 'I can do what I please at Rochelle, because I never please to do but what I ought.
All negotiations having failed, hostilities recommenced; and after some months occupied in various military enterprises on both sides, the king's army, under Joyeuse, met that of the Huguenots at Coutras, in Perigord, on the 20th of October 1587, when our hero obtained a great victory, and earned golden opinions by his skill, his generosity, and his personal courage. In this battle, the loss of the Catholics amounted to 3000 men, including many persons of distinction, among whom was Joyeuse himself, the loss of the Huguenots, on the other hand, was trilling, and their booty great. This advantage, however, was counterbalanced by the total defeat of a German army of 40,000 men, which had entered France to assist the Protestants. Thus, at the beginning of the year 1588, the prospects of our hero were, if brighter than they had been two years before, still far from encouraging Dim and vague forebodings attended the opening of this year in France. Astrologers had already named it the year of marvels;' foreseeing, they said, that such a number of astonishing events would happen in it, such confusion both in the elements of nature and in human society, that, if not the end of the world, it would certainly be its climacteric. These predictions were so far verified; indeed, it did not require astrology to make them. The first event of note, in connection with our history, was the death of the Prince of Condé on the 5th of March, under strong suspicion of having been poisoned by his wife. The death of this prince was deeply bewailed by the Protestants : when the event was announced to Henry, he gave expression to his grief in loud cries, and exclaimed that he had lost his right arm. The loss, however, which the Protestants sustained by the death of the Prince of Condé, was to be more than compensated by what befell their opponents.
The king had become a mere cipher in Paris : the League, the Guises, and the Sixteen were all-powerful. The Duke of Guise was the idol of the populace; wherever he appeared, he was received with cheers and acclamations; while the poor monarch was the subject of lampoons and jests. It was privately debated, among the most ardent members of the League, whether he ought not to be dethroned; and a scheme was formed by the Guises for seizing his person. Henry, being informed of his danger, resolved to be beforehand with his enemies; and ordering about six thousand troops, for the most part Swiss mercenaries, to enter Paris, he distributed them through the various quarters of the city, so as to overawe the League. The consequence was a terrible riot. The Parisians, instigated by the leaders of the Sixteen, rose in a mass, barricaded the streets, attacked and defeated the soldiers, murdered a number of the Swiss, and prepared to storm the Louvre. Henry, thus besieged in his own palace, fled to Chartres, leaving the