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A Popular History of France From The Earliest Times
Henry II. (1547-1559.)
by Guizot, M.

Henry II. had all the defects, and, with the exception of personal bravery, not one amongst the brilliant and amiable qualities of the king his father. Like Francis I., he was rash and reckless in his resolves and enterprises, but without having the promptness, the fertility, and the suppleness of mind which Francis I. displayed in getting out of the awkward positions in which he had placed himself, and in stalling off or mitigating the consequences of them. Henry was as cold and ungenial as Francis had been gracious and able to please: and whilst Francis I., even if he were a bad master to himself, was at any rate his own master, Henry II. submitted without resistance, and probably without knowing it, to the influence of the favorite who reigned in his house as well as in his court, and of the advisers who were predominant in his government. Two facts will suffice to set in a clear light, at the commencement of the new reign, this regrettable analogy in the defects, and this profound diversity in the mind, character, and conduct of the two kings.

Towards the close of 1542, a grievous aggravation of the tax upon salt, called Babel, caused a violent insurrection in the town of Rochelle, which was exempted, it was said, by its traditional privileges from that impost. Not only was payment refused, but the commissioners were maltreated and driven away. Francis I. considered the matter grave enough to require his presence for its repression. He repaired to Rochelle with a numerous body of lanzknechts. The terrified population appeared to have determined upon submission, and, having assembled in a mass at the town-hall, there awaited anxiously the king's arrival. On the 1st of January, 1543, Francis I. entered the town in state, surrounded by his escort. The people's advocate fell on his knees, and appealed to the king's clemency in dealing with a revolt of which every one repented. The king, who was seated on a wooden boarding, rose up. "Speak we no more of revolt," said he; "I desire neither to destroy your persons nor to seize your goods, as was lately done by the Emperor Charles to the Ghentese, whereby his hands are stained with blood; I long more for the hearts of my subjects than for their lives and their riches. I will never at any time of my life think again of your offence, and I pardon you without excepting a single thing. I desire that the keys of your city and your arms be given back to you, and that you be completely reinstated in your liberties and your privileges." The cheers of the people responded to these words of the king. "I think I have won your hearts," said the king on retiring; "and I assure you, on the honor of a gentleman, that you have mine. I desire that you ring your bells, for you are pardoned." The Rochellese were let off for a fine of two hundred thousand francs, which the king gave to his keeper of the seals, Francis de Montholon, whom he wished to compensate for his good service. The keeper of the seals in his turn made a present of them to the town of Rochelle to found a hospital. But the ordinances as to the salt-tax were maintained in principle, and their extension led, some years afterwards, to a rising of a more serious character, and very differently repressed.

In 1548, hardly a year after the accession of Henry II., and in the midst of the rejoicings he had gone to be present at in the north of Italy, he received news at Turin to the effect that in Guienne, Angoumois, and Saintonge a violent and pretty general insurrection had broken out against the salt-tax, which Francis I., shortly before his death, had made heavier in these provinces. The local authorities in vain attempted to repress the rising; the insurgent peasants scoured the country in strong bodies, giving free rein not only to their desires, but also to their revengeful feelings; the most atrocious excesses of which a mob is capable were committed; the director-general of the gabel was massacred cruelly; and two of his officers, at Angouleme, were strapped down stark naked on a table, beaten to death, and had their bodies cast into the river with the insulting remark, "Go, wicked gabellers, and salt the fish of the Charente." The King of Navarre's lieutenant, being appealed to for aid, summoned, but to no purpose, the Parliament of Bordeaux; he was forced to take refuge in Chateau-Trompette, and was massacred by the populace whilst he was trying to get out; the president of the Parliament, a most worthy magistrate, and very much beloved, it is said, by the people, only saved his own life by taking the oath prescribed by the insurgents. "This news," says Vieilleville, in his contemporary Memoires, "grievously afflicted the king; and the Constable de Montmorency represented to him that it was not the first time that these people had been capricious, rebellious, and mutinous; for that in the reign of his lord and father, the late king, the Rochellese and surrounding districts had forgotten themselves in like manner. They ought to be exterminated, and, in case of need, be replaced by a new colony, that they might never return. The said sir constable offered to take the matter in hand, and with ten companies of the old hands whom he would raise in Piedmont, and as many lanzknechts, a thousand men-at-arms all told, he promised to exact a full account, and satisfy his Majesty."

Montmorency was as good as his word. When he arrived with his troops in Guienne, the people of Bordeaux, in a fit of terror, sent to Langon a large boat, most magnificently fitted up, in which were chambers and saloons emblazoned with the arms of the said sir constable, with three or four deputies to present it to him, and beg him to embark upon it, and drop down to their city. He repulsed them indignantly. "Away, away," said he, "with your boat and your keys; I will have nought to do with them; I have others here with me which will make me other kind of opening than yours. I will have you all hanged; I will teach you to rebel against your king and murder his governor and his lieutenant." And he did, in fact, enter Bordeaux on the 9th of October, 1548, by a breach which he had opened in the walls, and, after having traversed the city between two lines of soldiers and with his guns bearing on the suspected points, he ordered the inhabitants to bring all their arms to the citadel. Executions followed immediately after this moral as well as material victory. "More than a hundred and forty persons were put to death by various kinds of punishments," says Vieilleville; "and, by a most equitable sentence, when the executioner had in his hands the three insurgents who had beaten to death and thrown into the river the two collectors of the Babel at Angouleme, he cast them all three into a fire which was ready at the spot, and said to them aloud, in conformity with the judgment against them, 'Go, rabid hounds, and grill the fish of the Charente, which ye salted with the bodies of the officers of your king and sovereign lord.' As to civil death (loss of civil rights)," adds Vieilleville, "nearly all the inhabitants made honorable amends in open street, on their knees, before the said my lords at the window, crying mercy and asking pardon; and more than a hundred, because of their youth, were simply whipped. Astounding fines and interdictions were laid as well upon the body composing the court of Parliament as upon the town-council and on a great number of private individuals. The very bells were not exempt from experiencing the wrath and vengeance of the prince, for not a single one remained throughout the whole city or in the open country—to say nothing of the clocks, which were not spared either —which was not broken up and confiscated to the king's service for his guns."

The insurrection at Bordeaux against the gabel in 1548 was certainly more serious than that of Rochelle in 1542; but it is also quite certain that Francis I. would not have set about repressing it as Henry II. did; he would have appeared there himself and risked his own person instead of leaving the matter to the harshest of his lieutenants, and he would have more skilfully intermingled generosity with force, and kind words with acts of severity. And that is one of the secrets of governing. In 1549, scarcely a year after the revolt at Bordeaux, Henry II., then at Amiens, granted to deputies from Poitou, Rochelle, the district of Aunis, Limousin, Perigord, and Saintonge, almost complete abolition of the Babel in Guienne, which paid the king, by way of compensation, two hundred thousand crowns of gold for the expenses of war or the redemption of certain alienated domains. We may admit that on the day after the revolt the arbitrary and bloody proceedings of the Constable de Montmorency must have produced upon the insurgents of Bordeaux the effect of a salutary fright; but we may doubt whether so cruel a repression was absolutely indispensable in 1548, when in 1549 the concession demanded in the former year was to be recognized as necessary.

According to De Thou and the majority of historians, it was on the occasion of the insurrection in Guienne against the Babel that Stephen de la Boetie, the young and intimate friend of Montaigne, wrote his celebrated Discours de la Servitude voluntaire, ou le Contre-un, an eloquent declamation against monarchy. But the testimony of Montaigne himself upsets the theory of this coincidence; written in his own hand upon a manuscript, partly autograph, of the treatise by De la Boetie, is a statement that it was the work "of a lad of sixteen." La Boetie was born at Sarlat on the 1st of November, 1530, and was, therefore, sixteen in 1546, two years before the insurrection at Bordeaux. The Contre-un, besides, is a work of pure theory and general philosophy, containing no allusion at all to the events of the day, to the sedition in Guienne no more than to any other. This little work owed to Montaigne's affectionate regard for its author a great portion of its celebrity. Published for the first time, in 1578, in the Memoires de l'Etat de France, after having up to that time run its course without any author's name, any title, or any date, it was soon afterwards so completely forgotten that when, in the middle of the seventeenth century, Cardinal de Richelieu for the first time heard it mentioned, and "sent one of his gentlemen over the whole street of Saint-Jacques to inquire for la Servitude volontaire, all the publishers said, 'We don't know what it is.' The son of one of them recollected something about it, and said to the cardinal's gentleman, 'Sir, there is a book-fancier who has what you seek, but with no covers to it, and he wants five pistoles for it.' 'Very well,' said the gentleman;" and the Cardinal do Richelieu paid fifty francs for the pleasure of reading the little political pamphlet by "a lad of sixteen," which probably made very little impression upon him, but which, thanks to the elegance and vivacity of its style, and the affectionate admiration of the greatest independent thinker of the sixteenth century, has found a place in the history of French literature. [Memoires de Tallemant des Reaux, t. i. p. 395.]

History must do justice even to the men whose brutal violence she stigmatizes and reproves. In the case of Anne do Montmorency it often took the form of threats intended to save him from the necessity of acts. When he came upon a scene of any great confusion and disorder, "Go hang me such an one," he would say; "tie yon fellow to that tree; despatch this fellow with pikes and arquebuses, this very minute, right before my eyes; cut me in pieces all those rascals who chose to hold such a clock-case as this against the king; burn me yonder village; light me up a blaze everywhere, for a quarter of a mile all round." The same man paid the greatest attention to the discipline and good condition of his troops, in order to save the populations from their requisitions and excesses. "On the 20th of November, 1549, he obtained and published at Paris," says De Thou, "a proclamation from the king doubling the pay of the men-at-arms, arquebusiers and light-horse, and forbidding them at the same time, on pain of death, to take anything without paying for it. A bad habit had introduced itself amongst the troops, whether they were going on service or returning, whether they were in the field or in winter quarters, of keeping themselves at the expense of those amongst whom they lived. Thence proceeded an infinity of irregularities and losses in the towns and in the country, wherein the people had to suffer at the hands of an insolent soldiery the same vexatious as if it had been an enemy's country. Not only was a stop put to such excesses, but care was further taken that the people should not be oppressed under pretext of recruitments which had to be carried out." [Histoire de J. A. de Thou, t. i. p. 367.] A nephew of the Constable de Montmorency, a young man of twenty-three, who at a later period became Admiral de Coligny, was ordered to see to the execution of these protective measures, and he drew up, between 1550 and 1552, at first for his own regiment of foot, and afterwards as colonel-general of this army, rules of military discipline which remained for a long while in force.

There was war in the atmosphere. The king and his advisers, the court and the people, had their minds almost equally full of it, some in sheer dread, and others with an eye to preparation. The reign of Francis I. had ended mournfully; the peace of Crespy had hurt the feelings both of royalty and of the nation; Henry, now king, had, as dauphin, felt called upon to disavow it. It had left England in possession of Calais and Boulogne, and confirmed the dominion or ascendency of Charles V. in Germany, Italy, and Spain, on all the French frontiers. How was the struggle to be recommenced? What course must be adopted to sustain it successfully? To fall back upon, there were the seven provincial legions, which had been formed by Francis I. for Normandy, Picardy, Burgundy, Dauphiny, and Provence united, Languedoc, Guienne, and Brittany; but they were not like permanent troops, drilled and always ready; they were recruited by voluntary enlistment; they generally remained at their own homes, receiving compensation at review time and high pay in time of war. The Constable de Montmorency had no confidence in these legions; he spoke of them contemptuously, and would much rather have increased the number of the foreign corps, regularly paid and kept up, Swiss or lanzknechts. Two systems of policy and warfare, moreover, divided the king's council into two: Montmorency, now old and worn out in body and mind (he was born in 1492, and so was sixty in 1552), was for a purely defensive attitude, no adventures or battles to be sought, but victuals and all sorts of supplies to be destroyed in the provinces which might be invaded by the enemy, so that instead of winning victories there he might not even be able to live there. In 1536 this system had been found successful by the constable in causing the failure of Charles V.'s invasion of Provence; but in 1550 a new generation had come into the world, the court, and the army; it comprised young men full of ardor and already distinguished for their capacity and valor; Francis de Lorraine, Duke of Guise (born at the castle of Bar, February 17, 1519), was thirty-one; his brother, Charles de Guise, Cardinal of Lorraine, was only six-and-twenty (he was born at Joinville, February 17, 1524); Francis de Scepeaux (born at Durdtal, Anjou, in 1510), who afterwards became Marshal de Vieilleville, was at this time nearly forty; but he had contributed in 1541 to the victory of Ceresole, and Francis I. had made so much of it that he had said, on presenting him to his son Henry, "He is no older than you, and see what he has done already; if the wars do not swallow him up, you will some day make him constable or marshal of France." Gaspard de Coligny (born at Chatillon-sur-Loing, February 16, 1517) was thirty-three; and his brother, Francis d'Andelot (born at Chatillon, in 1521), twenty-nine. These men, warriors and politicians at one and the same time, in a high social position and in the flower of their age, could not reconcile themselves to the Constable de Montmorency's system, defensive solely and prudential to the verge of inertness; they thought that, in order to repair the reverses of France and for the sake of their own fame, there was something else to be done, and they impatiently awaited the opportunity.

It was not long coming. At the close of 1551, a deputation of the Protestant princes of Germany came to Fontainebleau to ask for the king's support against the aggressive and persecuting despotism of Charles V. The Count of Nassau made a speech "very long," says Vieilleville in his Memoires, "at the same time that it was in very elegant language, whereby all the presence received very great contentment." Next day the king put the demand before his council for consideration, and expressed at the very outset his own opinion that "in the present state of affairs, he ought not to take up any enterprise, but leave his subjects of all conditions to rest; for generally," said he, "all have suffered and do suffer when armies pass and repass so often through my kingdom, which cannot be done without pitiable oppression and trampling-down of the poor people." The constable, "without respect of persons," says Vieilleville, "following his custom of not giving way to anybody, forthwith began to speak, saying that the king, who asked counsel of them, had very plainly given it them himself and made them very clearly to understand his own idea, which ought to be followed point by point without any gainsaying, he having said nothing but what was most equitable and well known to the company." Nearly all the members of the council gave in their adhesion, without comment, to the opinion of the king and the constable. "But when it came to the turn of M. de Vieilleville, who had adopted the language of the Count of Nassau," he unhesitatingly expressed a contrary opinion, unfolding all the reasons which the king had for being distrustful of the emperor and for not letting this chance of enfeebling him slip by. "May it please your Majesty," said he, "to remember his late passage through France, to obtain which the emperor submitted to carteblanche; nevertheless, when he was well out of the kingdom, he laughed at all his promises, and, when he found himself inside Cambrai, he said to the Prince of Infantado, 'Let not the King of France, if he be wise, put himself at my mercy, as I have been at his, for I swear by the living God that he shall not be quit for Burgundy and Champagne; but I would also insist upon Picardy and the key of the road to the Bastille of Paris, unless he were minded to lose his life or be confined in perpetual imprisonment until the whole of my wish were accomplished.' Since thus it is, sir, and the emperor makes war upon you covertly, it must be made upon him overtly, without concealing one's game or dissimulating at all. No excuses must be allowed on the score of neediness, for France is inexhaustible, if only by voluntary loans raised on the most comfortable classes of the realm. As for me, I consider myself one of the poorest of the company, or at any rate one of the least comfortable; but yet I have some fifteen thousand francs' worth of plate, dinner and dessert, white and red [silver and gold], which I hereby offer to place in the hands of whomsoever you shall appoint, in order to contribute to the expenses of so laudable an enterprise as this. Putting off, moreover, for the present the communication to you of a certain secret matter which one of the chiefs of this embassy hath told me; and I am certain that when you have discovered it, you will employ all your might and means to carry out that which I propose to you."

The king asked Vieilleville what this secret matter was which he was keeping back. "If it please your Majesty to withdraw apart, I will tell it you," said Vieilleville. All the council rose; and Vieilleville, approaching his Majesty, who called the constable only to his side, said, "Sir, you are well aware how the emperor got himself possessed of the imperial cities of Cambrai, Utrecht, and Liege, which he has incorporated with his own countship of Flanders, to the great detriment of the whole of Germany. The electoral princes of the holy empire have discovered that he has a project in his mind of doing just the same with the imperial cities of Metz, Strasbourg, Toul, Verdun, and such other towns on the Rhine as he shall be able to get hold of. They have secretly adopted the idea of throwing themselves upon your resources, without which they cannot stop this detestable design, which would be the total ruin of the empire and a manifest loss to your kingdom. Wherefore, take possession of the said towns, since opportunity offers, which will be about forty leagues of country gained without the loss of a single man, and an impregnable rampart for Champagne and Picardy; and, besides, a fine and perfectly open road into the heart of the duchy of Luxembourg and the districts below it as far as Brussels."

However pacific the king's first words had been, and whatever was the influence of the constable, the proposal of Vieilleville had a great effect upon the council. The king showed great readiness to adopt it. "I think," said he to the constable, "that I was inspired of God when I created Vieilleville of my council to-day." "I only gave the opinion I did," replied Montmorency, "in order to support the king's sentiments; let your Majesty give what orders you please." The king loudly proclaimed his resolve. "Then let every one," he said, "be ready at an early date, with equipment according to his ability and means, to follow me; hoping, with God's help, that all will go well for the discomfiture of so pernicious a foe of my kingdom and nation, and one who revels and delights in tormenting all manner of folks, without regard for any." There was a general enthusiasm; the place of meeting for the army was appointed at Chalons-sur-Marne, March 10, 1552; more than a thousand gentlemen flocked thither as volunteers; peasants and mechanics from Champagne and Picardy joined them; the war was popular. "The majority of the soldiers," says Rabutin, a contemporary chronicler, "were young men whose brains were on fire." Francis de Guise and Gaspard de Coligny were their chief leaders. The king entered Lorraine from Champagne by Joinville, the ordinary residence of the Dukes of Guise. He carried Pont-a-Mousson; Toul opened its gates to him on the 13th of April; he occupied Nancy on the 14th, and on the 18th he entered Metz, not without some hesitation amongst a portion of the inhabitants and the necessity of a certain show of military force on the part of the leaders of the royal army. The king would have given the command of this important place to Vieilleville, but he refused it, saying, "I humbly thank your Majesty, but I do not think that you should establish in Metz any governor in your own name, but leave that duty to the mayor and sheriffs of the city, under whose orders the eight captains of the old train-bands who will remain there with their companies will be." "How say you!" said the king: "can I leave a foreign lieutenant in a foreign country whose oath of fidelity I have only had within the last four-and-twenty hours, and with all the difficulties and disputes in the world to meet too?" "Sir," rejoined Vieilleville, "to fear that this master sheriff, whose name is Tallanges, might possibly do you a bad turn, is to wrongly estimate his own competence, who never put his nose anywhere but into a bar-parlor to drink himself drunk; and it is also to show distrust of the excellent means you have for preventing all the ruses and artifices that might be invented to throw your service into confusion." The king acquiesced, but not without anxiety, in Vieilleville's refusal, and, leaving at Metz as governor a relative of the constable's, whom the latter warmly recommended to him, he set out on the 22d of April, 1552, with all his household, to go and attempt in Alsace the same process that he had already carried out in Lorraine. "But when we had entered upon the territory of Germany," says Vieilleville, "our Frenchmen at once showed their insolence in their very first quarters, which so alarmed all the rest that we never found from that moment a single man to speak to, and, as long as the expedition lasted, there never appeared a soul with his provisions to sell on the road; whereby the army suffered infinite privations. This misfortune began with us at the approach to Saverne (Zabern), the episcopal residence of Strasbourg." When the king arrived before Strasbourg he found the gates closed, and the only offer to open them was on the condition that he should enter alone with forty persons for his whole suite. The constable, having taken a rash fit, was of opinion that he should enter even on this condition. This advice was considered by his Majesty to be very sound, as well as by the princes and lords who were about him, according to the natural tendency of the Frenchman, who is always for seconding and applauding what is said by the great. But Vieilleville, on being summoned to the king's quarters, opposed it strongly. "Sir," said he, "break this purpose, for in carrying it out you are in danger of incurring some very evil and very shameful fate; and, should that happen, what will become of your army which will be left without head, prince, or captain, and in a strange country, wherein we are already looked upon with ill will because of our insolence and indiscretions? As for me, I am off again to my quarters to quaff and laugh with my two hundred men-at-arms, in readiness to march when your standard is a-field, but not thither." Nothing has a greater effect upon weak and undecided minds than the firm language of men resolved to do as they say. The king gave up the idea of entering Strasbourg, and retired well pleased nevertheless, for he was in possession of Metz, Toul, Verdun, and Pont-a-Mousson, the keys for France into Germany, and at the head of an army under young commanders who were enterprising without being blindly rash.

Charles V. also had to know what necessity was, and to submit to it, without renouncing the totality of his designs. On the 2d of August, 1552, he signed at Passau, with the Protestant princes, the celebrated treaty known under the name of "treaty of public peace," which referred the great questions of German pacification to a general diet to be assembled in six months, and declared that, pending definitive conciliation, the two religions should be on an equal footing in the empire, that is, that the princes and free towns should have the supreme regulation of religious matters amongst themselves. Charles V. thus recovered full liberty of action in his relations with France, and could no longer think of anything but how to recover the important towns he had lost in Lorraine. Henry II., on the other hand, who was asked by his Protestant allies on what conditions he would accept the peace of Passau, replied that at no price would he dispossess himself of the Three-Bishoprics of Lorraine, and that he would for his part continue the contest he had undertaken for the liberation of Germany. The siege of Metz then became the great question of the day: Charles V. made all his preparations to conduct it on an immense scale, and Henry II. immediately ordered Francis de Guise to go and defend his new conquest at all hazards.

Ambition which is really great accepts with joy great perils fraught with great opportunities. Guise wrote to Henry II.'s favorite, Diana de Poitiers, Duchess of Valentinois, to thank her for having helped to obtain for him this favor, which was about to bring him "to the emperor's very beard." He set out at once, first of all to Toul, where the plague prevailed, and where he wished to hurry on the repair of the ramparts. Money was wanting to pay the working-corps; and he himself advanced the necessary sum. On arriving at Metz on the 17th of August, 1552, he found there only twelve companies of infantry, new levies; and every evening he drilled them himself in front of his quarters. A host of volunteers, great lords, simple gentlemen, and rich and brave burgesses, soon came to him, "eager to aid him in repelling the greatest and most powerful effort ever made by the emperor against their country and their king." This concourse of warriors, the majority of them well known and several of them distinguished, redoubled the confidence and ardor of the rank and file in the army. We find under the title of Chanson faite en 1552 par un souldar etant en Metz en garnison this couplet:—
               "My Lord of Guise is here at home,
               With many a noble at his side,
               With the two children of Vendome,
               With bold Nemours, in all his pride,
               And Strozzi too, a warrior tried,
               Who ceases not, by night or day,
               Around the city-walls to stride,
               And strengthen Metz in every way."

     [Peter Strozzi, "the man in all the world," says Brantome, "who
     could best arrange and order battles and battalions, and could
     best post them to his advantage."]

To put into condition the tottering fortifications of Metz, and to have the place well supplied, was the first task undertaken by its indefatigable governor; he never ceased to meet the calls upon him either in person or in purse; he was seen directing the workmen, taking his meals with them, and setting them a good example by carrying the hod for several hours. He frequently went out on horseback to reconnoitre the country, visit the points of approach and lodgment that the enemy might make use of around the town, and take measures of precaution at the places whereby they might do harm as well as at those where it would be not only advantageous for the French to make sallies or to set ambuscades, but also to secure a retreat. Charles V., naturally slow as he was in his operations no less than in his resolves, gave the activity of Guise time to bear fruit. "I mean to batter the town of Metz in such style as to knock it about the ears of M. de Guise," said he at the end of August, 1552, "and I make small account of the other places that the king may have beyond that."

On the 15th of September following, Charles was still fifteen leagues from Metz, on the territory of Deux-Ponts, and it was only on the 19th of October that the Duke of Alba, his captain-general, arrived with twenty-four thousand men, the advance-guard, within a league of the place which, it it is said, was to be ultimately besieged by one hundred thousand foot, twenty-three thousand horse, one hundred and twenty pieces of artillery, and seven thousand pioneers. "After one and the first encounter," says a journal of the siege, "the enemy held our soldiers in good repute, not having seen them, for any sort of danger, advance or retreat, save as men of war and of assured courage; which was an advantage, for M. de Guise knew well that at the commencement of a war it was requisite that a leader should try, as much as ever he could, to win." It was only on the 20th of November that Charles V., ill of gout at Thionville, and unable to stand on his legs, perceived the necessity of being present in person at the siege, and appeared before Metz on an Arab horse, with his face pale and worn, his eyes sunk in his head, and his beard white. At sight of him there was a most tremendous salute of arquebuses and artillery, the noise of which brought the whole town to arms. The emperor, whilst waiting to establish himself at the castle of La Horgne, took up his quarters near the Duke of Alba, in a little wooden house built out of the ruins of the Abbey of Saint-Clement: "a beautiful palace," said he, "when the keys of Metz are brought to me there." From the 20th to the 26th the attack was continued with redoubled vigor; fourteen thousand cannon-shots were fired, it is said, in a single day Guise had remarked that the enemy seemed preparing to direct the principal assault against a point so strong that nobody had thought of pulling down the houses in its vicinity. This oversight was immediately repaired, and a stout wall, the height of a man, made out of the ruins. "If they send us peas," said Guise, "we will give them back beans" ("we will give them at least as good as they bring "). On the 26th of November the old wall was battered by a formidable artillery; and, breached in three places, it crumbled down on the 28th into the ditch, "at the same time making it difficult to climb for to come to the assault." The assailants uttered shouts of joy; but, when the cloud of dust had cleared off, they saw a fresh rampart eight feet in height above the breach, "and they experienced as much and even more disgust than they had felt pleasure at seeing the wall tumble." The besieged heaped mockery and insult upon them; but Guise "imperatively put a stop to the disturbance, fearing, it is said, lest some traitor should take advantage of it to give the assailants some advice, and the soldiers then conceived the idea of sticking upon the points of their pikes live cats, the cries of which seemed to show derision of the enemy."

The siege went on for a month longer without making any more impression; and the imperial troops kicked against any fresh assaults. "I was wont once upon a time to be followed to battle," Charles V. would say, "but I see that I have no longer men about me; I must bid farewell to the empire, and go and shut myself up in some monastery; before three years are over I shall turn Cordelier." Whilst Metz was still holding out, the fortress of Toul was summoned by the Imperialists to open its gates; but the commandant replied, "When the town of Metz has been taken, when I have had the honor of being besieged in due form by the emperor, and when I have made as long a defence as the Duke of Guise has, such a summons may be addressed to me, and I will consider what I am to do." On the 26th of December, 1552, the sixty-fifth day since the arrival of the imperial army and the forty-fifth since the batteries had opened fire, Charles V. resolved to raise the siege. "I see very well," said he, "that fortune resembles women; she prefers a young king to an old emperor." His army filed off by night, in silence, leaving behind its munitions and its tents just as they stood, "driven away, almost, by the chastisement of Heaven," says the contemporary chronicler Rabutin, "with but two shots by way of signal." The ditty of the soldier just quoted ends thus:—

"At last, so stout was her defence, From Metz they moved their guns away; And, with the laugh at their expense, A-tramping went their whole array. And at their tail the noble Lord Of Guise sent forth a goodly throng Of cavalry, with lance and sword, To teach them how to tramp along."

Guise was far from expecting so sudden and decisive a result. "Sing me no more flattering strains in your letters about the emperor's dislodgment hence," he wrote on the 24th of December to his brother the Cardinal of Lorraine; "take it for certain that unless we be very much mistaken in him, he will not, as long as he has life, brook the shame of departing hence until he has seen it all out."

Irritated, and, perhaps, still more shocked, at so heavy a blow to his power and his renown, Charles V. looked everywhere for a chance of taking his revenge. He flattered himself that he had found it in Therouanne, a fortress of importance at that time between Flanders and Artois, which had always been a dependency of the kingdom of France, and served as a rampart against the repeated incursions of the English, the masters of Calais. Charles knew that it was ill supplied with troops and munitions of war; and the court of Henry II., intoxicated with the deliverance of Metz, spoke disdainfully of the emperor, and paid no heed to anything but balls, festivities, and tournaments in honor of the marriage between Diana d'Angouleme, the king's natural daughter, and Horatio Farnese, Duke of Castro. All on a sudden it was announced that the troops of Charles V. were besieging Therouanne. The news was at first treated lightly; it was thought sufficient to send to Therouanne some re-enforcements under the orders of Francis de Montmorency, nephew of the constable; but the attack was repulsed with spirit by the besiegers, and brave as was the resistance offered by the besieged, who sustained for ten hours a sanguinary assault, on the 20th of June, 1553, Francis de Montmorency saw the impossibility of holding out longer, and, on the advice of all his officers, offered to surrender the place; but he forgot to stipulate in the first place for a truce; the Germans entered the town, thrown open without terms of capitulation; it was given up as prey to an army itself a prey to all the passions of soldiers as well as to their master's vengeful feelings, and Therouanne, handed over for devastation, was for a whole month diligently demolished and razed to the ground. When Charles V., at Brussels, received news of the capture, "bonfires were lighted throughout Flanders; bells were rung, cannon were fired." It was but a poor revenge for so great a sovereign after the reverse he had just met with at Metz; but the fall of Therouanne was a grievous incident for France. Francis I. was in the habit of saying that Therouanne in Flanders and Acqs (now Dax) on the frontier of Guienne were, to him, like two pillows on which he could rest tranquilly. [Histoire universelle, t. ii. p. 352.]

Whilst these events were passing in Lorraine and Flanders, Henry II. and his advisers were obstinately persisting in the bad policy which had been clung to by Charles VIII., Louis XII., and Francis I., that, in fact, of making conquests and holding possessions in Italy. War continued, from Turin to Naples, between France, the emperor, the pope, and the local princes, with all sorts of alliances and alternations, but with no tangible result. Blaise de Montluc defended the fortress of Sienna for nine months against the Imperialists with an intelligence and a bravery which earned for him twenty years later the title of Marshal of France. Charles de Brissac was carrying on the war in Piedmont with such a combination of valor and generosity that the king sent him as a present his own sword, writing to him at the same time, "The opinion I have of your merit has become rooted even amongst foreigners. The emperor says that he would make himself monarch of the whole world if he had a Brissac to second his plans." His men, irritated at getting no pay, one day surrounded Brissac, complaining vehemently. "You will always get bread by coming to me," said he; and he paid the debt of France by sacrificing his daughter's dowry and borrowing a heavy sum from the Swiss on the security of his private fortune. It was by such devotion and such sacrifices that the French nobility paid for and justified their preponderance in the state; but they did not manage to succeed in the conduct of public affairs, and to satisfy the interests of a nation progressing in activity, riches, independence, and influence. Disquieted at the smallness of his success in Italy, Henry II. flattered himself that he would regain his ascendency there by sending thither the Duke of Guise, the hero of Metz, with an army of about twenty thousand men, French or Swiss, and a staff of experienced officers; but Guise was not more successful than his predecessors had been. After several attempts by arms and negotiation amongst the local sovereigns, he met with a distinct failure in the kingdom of Naples before the fortress of Civitella, the siege of which he was forced to raise on the 15th of May, 1557. Wearied out by want of success, sick in the midst of an army of sick, regretting over "the pleasure of his field-sports at Joinville, and begging his mother to have just a word or two written to him to console him," all he sighed for was to get back to France. And it was not long before the state of affairs recalled him thither. It was now nearly two years ago that, on the 25th of October, 1555, and the 1st of January, 1556, Charles V. had solemnly abdicated all his dominions, giving over to his son Philip the kingdom of Spain, with the sovereignty of Burgundy and the Low Countries, and to his younger brother, Ferdinand, the empire together with the original heritage of the House of Austria, and retiring personally to the monastery of Yuste, in Estramadura, there to pass the last years of his life, distracted with gout, at one time resting from the world and its turmoil, at another vexing himself about what was doing there now that he was no longer in it. Before abandoning it for good, he desired to do his son Philip the service of leaving him, if not in a state of definite peace, at any rate in a condition of truce with France. Henry II. also desired rest; and the Constable de Montmorency wished above everything for the release of his son Francis, who had been a prisoner since the fall of Thorouanne. A truce for five years was signed at Vaucelles on the 5th of February, 1556; and Coligny, quite young still, but already admiral and in high esteem, had the conduct of the negotiation. He found Charles V. dressed in mourning, seated beside a little table, in a modest apartment hung with black. When the admiral handed to the emperor the king's letter, Charles could not himself break the seal, and the Bishop of Arras drew near to render him that service. "Gently, my Lord of Arras," said the emperor; "would you rob me of the duty I am bound to discharge towards the king my brother-in-law? Please God, none but I shall do it;" and then turning to Coligny, he said, "What will you say of me, admiral? Am I not a pretty knight to run a course and break a lance, I who can only with great difficulty open a letter?" He inquired with an air of interest after Henry II.'s health, and boasted of belonging himself, also, to the house of France through his grandmother Mary of Burgundy. "I hold it to be an honor," said he, "to have issued, on the mother's side, from the stock which wears and upholds the most famous crown in the world." His son Philip, who was but a novice in kingly greatness, showed less courtesy and less good taste than his father; he received the French ambassadors in a room hung with pictures representing the battle of Pavia. There were some who concluded from that that the truce would not be of long duration. [Histoire d'Espagne, by M. Rosseeuw Saint-Hilaire, t. viii. p. 64.]

And it was not long before their prognostication was verified. The sending of the Duke of Guise into Italy, and the assistance he brought to Pope Paul IV., then at war with the new King of Spain, Philip II., were considered as a violation of the truce of Vaucelles. Henry II. had expected as much, and had ordered Coligny, who was commanding in Picardy and Flanders, to hold himself in readiness to take the field as soon as he should be, if not forced, at any rate naturally called upon, by any unforeseen event. It cost Coligny, who was a man of scrupulous honor, a great struggle to lightly break a truce he had just signed; nevertheless, in January, 1557, when he heard that the French were engaged in Italy in the war between the pope and the Spaniards, he did not consider that he could possibly remain inactive in Flanders. He took by surprise the town of Lens, between Lille and Arras. Philip II., on his side, had taken measures for promptly entering upon the campaign. By his marriage with Mary Tudor, Queen of England, he had secured for himself a powerful ally in the north; the English Parliament were but little disposed to compromise themselves in a war with France; but in March, 1557, Philip went to London; the queen's influence and the distrust excited in England by Henry II. prevailed over the pacific desires of the nation; and Mary sent a simple herald to carry to the King of France at Rheims her declaration of war. Henry accepted it politely, but resolutely. "I speak to you in this way," said he to the herald, "because it is a queen who sends you; had it been a king, I would speak to you in a very different tone;" and he ordered him to be gone forthwith from the kingdom. A negotiation was commenced for accomplishing the marriage, long since agreed upon, between the young Queen of Scotland, Mary Stuart, and Henry II.'s son, Francis, dauphin of France. Mary, who was born on the 8th of December, 1542, at Falkland Castle in Scotland, had, since 1548, lived and received her education at the court of France, whither her mother, Mary of Lorraine, eldest sister of Francis of Guise and queen-dowager of Scotland, had lost no time in sending her as soon as the future union between the two children had been agreed upon between the two courts. The dauphin of France was a year younger than the Scottish princess; but "from his childhood," says the Venetian Capello, "he has been very much in love with her Most Serene little Highness the Queen of Scotland, who is destined for his wife. It sometimes happens that, when they are exchanging endearments, they like to retire quite apart into a corner of the rooms, that their little secrets may not be overheard." On the 19th of April, 1558, the espousals took place in the great hall of the Louvre, and the marriage was celebrated in the church of Notre-Dame.

From that time Mary Stuart was styled in France queen-dauphiness, and her husband, with the authorization of the Scottish commissioners, took the title of king-dauphin. "Etiquette required at that time that the heir to the throne should hold his court separately, and not appear at the king's court save on grand occasions. The young couple resigned themselves without any difficulty to this exile, and retired to Villers-Cotterets." [Histoire de Marie Stuart, by Jules Gauthier, t. i. p. 36.]

Whilst preparations were being made at Paris for the rejoicings in honor of the union of the two royal children, war broke out in Picardy and Flanders. Philip II. had landed there with an army of forty-seven thousand men, of whom seven thousand were English. Never did any great sovereign and great politician provoke and maintain for long such important wars without conducting them in some other fashion than from the recesses of his cabinet, and without ever having exposed his own life on the field of battle. The Spanish army was under the orders of Emmanuel-Philibert, Duke of Savoy, a young warrior of thirty, who had won the confidence of Charles V. He led it to the siege of Saint-Quentin, a place considered as one of the bulwarks of the kingdom. Philip II. remained at some leagues' distance in the environs. Henry II. was ill prepared for so serious an attack; his army, which was scarcely twenty thousand strong, mustered near Laon under the orders of the Duke of Nevers, governor of Champagne; at the end of July, 1557, it hurried into Picardy, under the command of the Constable de Montmorency, who was supported by Admiral de Coligny, his nephew, by the Duke of Enghien, by the Prince of Condo, and by the Duke of Montpensier, by nearly all the great lords and valiant warriors of France; they soon saw that Saint- Quentin was in a deplorable state of defence; the fortifications were old and badly kept up; soldiers, munitions of war, and victuals were all equally deficient. Coligny did not hesitate, however he threw himself into the place on the 2d of August, during the night, with a small corps of seven hundred men and Saint-Remy, a skilful engineer, who had already distinguished himself in the defence of Metz; the admiral packed off the useless mouths, repaired the walls at the points principally threatened, and reanimated the failing courage of the inhabitants. The constable and his army came within hail of the place; and D'Andelot, Coligny's brother, managed with great difficulty to get four hundred and fifty men into it. On the 10th of August the battle was begun between the two armies. The constable affected to despise the Duke of Savoy's youth. "I will soon show him," said he, "a move of an old soldier." The French army, very inferior in numbers, was for a moment on the point of being surrounded. The Prince of Conde sent the constable warning. "I was serving in the field," answered Montmorency, "before the Prince of Conde came into the world; I have good hopes of still giving him lessons in the art of war for some years to come." The valor of the constable and his comrades in arms could not save them from the consequences of their stubborn recklessness and their numerical inferiority; the battalions of Gascon infantry closed their ranks, with pikes to the front, and made an heroic resistance, but all in vain, against repeated charges of the Spanish cavalry: and the defeat was total. More than three thousand men were killed; the number of prisoners amounted to double; and the constable, left upon the field with his thigh shattered by a cannon-ball, fell into the hands of the Spaniards, as was also the case with the Dukes of Longueville and Montpensier, La Rochefoucauld, D'Aubigne, &c. . . . The Duke of Enghien, Viscount de Turenne, and a multitude of others, many great names amidst a host of obscure, fell in the fight. The Duke of Nevers and the Prince of Conde, sword in hand, reached La Fere with the remnants of their army. Coligny remained alone in Saint-Quentin with those who survived of his little garrison, and a hundred and twenty arquebusiers whom the Duke of Nevers threw into the place at a loss of three times as many. Coligny held out for a fortnight longer, behind walls that were in ruins and were assailed by a victorious army. At length, on the 27th of August, the enemy entered Saint-Quentin by shoals. "The admiral, who was still going about the streets with a few men to make head against them, found himself hemmed in on all sides, and did all he could to fall into the hands of a Spaniard, preferring rather to await on the spot the common fate than to incur by flight any shame and reproach. He who took him prisoner, after having set him to rest a while at the foot of the ramparts, took him away to their camp, where, as he entered, he met Captain Alonzo de Cazieres, commandant of the old bands of Spanish infantry, when up came the Duke of Savoy, who ordered the said Cazieres to take the admiral to his tent." [Commentaire de Francois de Rabutin sur les Guerres entre Henri II., roi de France, et Charles Quint, empereur, t. ii. p. 95, in the Petitot collection.] D'Andelot, the admiral's brother, succeeded in escaping across the marshes. Being thus master of Saint-Quentin, Philip II., after having attempted to put a stop to carnage and plunder, expelled from the town, which was half in ashes, the inhabitants who had survived; and the small adjacent fortresses, Ham and Catelet, were not long before they surrendered.

Philip, with anxious modesty, sent information of his victory to his father, Charles, who had been in retirement since February 21, 1556, at the monastery of Yuste. "As I did not happen to be there myself," he said at the end of his letter, "about which I am heavy at heart as to what your Majesty will possibly think, I can only tell you from hearsay what took place." We have not the reply of Charles V. to his son; but his close confidant, Quejada, wrote, "The emperor felt at this news one of the greatest thrills of satisfaction he has ever had; but, to tell you the truth, I perceive by his manner that he cannot reconcile himself to the thought that his son was not there; and with good reason." After that Saint-Quentin had surrendered, the Duke of Savoy wanted to march forward and strike affrighted France to the very heart; and the aged emperor was of his mind. "Is the king my son at Paris?" he said, when he heard of his victory. Philip had thought differently about it instead of hurling his army on Paris, he had moved it back to Saint-Quentin, and kept it for the reduction of places in the neighborhood. "The Spaniards," says Rabutin, "might have accomplished our total extermination, and taken from us all hope of setting ourselves up again. . . . But the Supreme Ruler, the God of victories, pulled them up quite short." An unlooked-for personage, Queen Catherine de' Medici, then for the first time entered actively upon the scene. We borrow the very words of the Venetian ambassadors who lived within her sphere. The first, Lorenzo Contarini, wrote in 1552, "The queen is younger than the king, but only thirteen days; she is not pretty, but she is possessed of extraordinary wisdom and prudence; no doubt of her being fit to govern; nevertheless she is not consulted or considered so much as she well might be." Five years later, in 1557, after the battle and capture of Saint-Quentin, France was in a fit of stupor; Paris believed the enemy to be already beneath her walls; many of the burgesses were packing up and flying, some to Orleans, some to Bourges, some still farther. The king had gone to Compiegne "to get together," says Brantome, "a fresh army."

Queen Catherine was alone at Paris. Of her own motion "she went to the Parliament (according to the Memoires de la Chatre it was to the Hotel de Ville that she went and made her address) in full state, accompanied by the cardinals, princes, and princesses; and there, in the most impressive language, she set forth the urgent state of affairs at the moment. She pointed out that, in spite of the enormous expenses into which the Most Christian king had found himself drawn in his late wars, he had shown the greatest care not to burden the towns. In the continuous and extreme pressure of requirements her Majesty did not think that any further charge could be made on the people of the country places, who in ordinary times always bear the greatest burden. With so much sentiment and eloquence that she touched the heart of everybody, the queen then explained to the Parliament that the king had need of three hundred thousand livres, twenty-five thousand to be paid every two months; and she added that she would retire from the place of session, so as not to interfere with liberty of discussion; and she, accordingly, retired to an adjoining room. A resolution to comply with the wishes of her Majesty was voted, and the queen, having resumed her place, received a promise to that effect. A hundred notables of the city offered to give at once three thousand francs apiece. The queen thanked them in the sweetest form of words; and thus terminated this session of Parliament with so much applause for her Majesty and such lively marks of satisfaction at her behavior that no idea can be given of them. Throughout the whole city nothing was spoken of but the queen's prudence and the happy manner in which she proceeded in this enterprise."

Such is the account, not of a French courtier, but of the Venetian ambassador, Giacomo Lorenzo, writing confidentially to his government. From that day the position of Catherine de' Medici was changed in France, amongst the people as well as at court. "The king went more often to see her; he added to his habits that of holding court at her apartments for about an hour every day after supper in the midst of the lords and ladies." It is not to be discovered anywhere in the contemporary Memoires, whether Catherine had anything to do with the resolution taken by Henry II. on returning from Compiegne; but she thenceforward assumed her place, and gave a foretaste of the part she was to play in the government of France. Unhappily for the honor of Catherine and for the welfare of France, that part soon ceased to be judicious, dignified, and salutary, as it had been on that day of its first exhibition.

On entering Paris again the king at once sent orders to the Duke of Guise to return in haste from Italy with all the troops he could bring. Every eye and every hope were fixed upon the able and heroic defender of Metz, who had forced Charles V. to retreat before him. A general appeal was at the same time addressed to "all soldiers, gentlemen and others, who had borne or were capable of bearing arms, to muster at Laon under the Duke of Nevers, in order to be employed for the service of the king and for the tuition [protection] of their country, their families, and their property." Guise arrived on the 20th of October, 1557, at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, where the court happened to be just then: every mark of favor was lavished upon him; all the resources of the state were put at his disposal; there was even some talk of appointing him viceroy; but Henry II. confined himself to proclaiming him, on the very day of his arrival, lieutenant-general of the armies throughout the whole extent of the monarchy, both within and without the realm. His brother, the Cardinal of Lorraine, who was as ambitious and almost as able as he, had the chief direction in civil, financial, and diplomatic affairs; never, since the great mayors-of-the-palace under the Merovingian kings, had similar power been in the hands of a subject. Like a man born to command, Guise saw that, in so complicated a situation, a brilliant stroke must be accomplished and a great peril be met by a great success. "He racked his brains for all sorts of devices for enabling him to do some remarkable deed which might humble the pride of that haughty Spanish nation and revive the courage of his own men; and he took it that those things which the enemy considered as the most secure would be the least carefully guarded. Some years previously it had been suggested to the constable that an attempt might be made upon Calais, negligently guarded as it was, and the place itself not being in good order. The Duke of Guise put the idea of this enterprise forward once more, and begged the king's permission to attempt it, without saying a word about it to anybody else, which the king considered to be a very good notion." Guise took the command of the army, and made a feint of directing its movements towards an expedition in the east of the kingdom; but, suddenly turning westwards, he found himself on the night of January 1, 1558, beneath the walls of Calais, "whither, with right good will, all the princes, lords, and soldiers had marched." On the 3d of January he took the two forts of Nieullay and Risbank, which covered the approaches to the place. On the 4th he prepared for, and on the 6th he delivered, the assault upon the citadel itself, which was carried; he left there his brother, the Duke of Aumale, with a sufficient force for defence; the portion of the English garrison which had escaped at the assault fell back within the town; the governor, Lord Wentworth, "like a man in desperation, who saw he was all but lost," made vain attempts to recover this important post under cover of night and of the high sea, which rendered impossible the prompt arrival of any aid for the French; but "they held their own inside the castle." The English requested the Duke of Aumale "to parley so as to come to some honorable and reasonable terms;" and Guise assented. On the 8th of January, whilst he was conferring in his tent with the representatives of the governor, Coligny's brother, D'Andelot, entered the town at the solicitation of the English themselves, who were afraid of being all put to the sword. The capitulation was signed. The inhabitants, with their wives and children, had their lives spared, and received permission to leave Calais freely and without any insult, and withdraw to England or Flanders. Lord Wentworth and fifty other persons, to be chosen by the Duke of Guise, remained prisoners of war; with this exception, all the soldiers were to return to England, but with empty hands. The place was left with all the cannons, arms, munitions, utensils, engines of war, flags and standards which happened to be in it. The furniture, the gold and silver, coined or other, the merchandise, and the horses passed over to the disposal of the Duke of Guise. Lastly the vanquished, when they quitted the town, were to leave it intact, having no power to pull down houses, unpave streets, throw up earth, displace a single stone, pull out a single nail. The conqueror's precautions were as deliberate as his audacity had been sudden. On the 9th of January, 1558, after a week's siege, Calais, which had been in the hands of the English for two hundred and ten years, once more became a French town, in spite of the inscription which was engraved on one of its gates, and which may be turned into the following distich:—
              "A siege of Calais may seem good
               When lead and iron swim like wood."

The joy was so much the greater in that it was accompanied by great surprise: save a few members of the king's council, nobody expected this conquest. "I certainly thought that you must be occupied in preparing for some great exploit, and that you wished to wait until you could apprise me of the execution rather than the design," wrote Marshal de Brissac to the Duke of Guise, on the 22d of January, from Italy. Foreigners were not less surprised than the French themselves; they had supposed that France would remain for a long while under the effects of the reverse experienced at Saint-Quentin. "The loss of Calais," said Pope Paul IV., "will be the only dowry that the Queen of England will obtain from her marriage with Philip. For France such a conquest is preferable to that of half the kingdom of England." When Mary Tudor, already seriously ill, heard the news, she exclaimed from her deathbed, on the 20th of January, "If my heart is opened, there will be found graven upon it the word Calais." And when the Grand Prior of France, on repairing to the court of his sister, Mary of Lorraine, in Scotland, went to visit Queen Elizabeth, who had succeeded Mary Tudor, she, after she had made him dance several times with her, said to him, "My dear prior, I like you very much, but not your brother, who robbed me of my town of Calais."

Guise was one of those who knew that it is as necessary to follow up a success accomplished as to proceed noiselessly in the execution of a sudden success. When he was master of Calais he moved rapidly upon the neighboring fortresses of Guines and Ham; and he had them in his power within a few days, notwithstanding a resistance more stout than he had encountered at Calais. During the same time the Duke of Nevers, encouraged by such examples, also took the field again, and gained possession, in Champagne and the neighborhood, of the strong castles of Herbemont, Jamoigne, Chigny, Rossignol, and Villemont. Guise had no idea of contenting himself with his successes in the west of France; his ambition carried him into the east also, to the environs of Metz, the scene of his earliest glory. He heard that Vieilleville, who had become governor of Metz, was setting about the reduction of Thionville, "the best picture of a fortress I ever saw," says Montluc. "I have heard," wrote Guise to Vieilleville, "that you have a fine enterprise on hand; I pray you do not commence the execution of it, in any fashion whatever, until I be with you: having given a good account of Calais and Guines, as lieutenant-general of his Majesty in this realm, I should be very vexed if there should be done therein anything of honor and importance without my presence." He arrived before Thionville on the 4th of June, 1558. Vieilleville and his officers were much put out at his interference. "The duke might surely have dispensed with coming," said D'Estrees, chief officer of artillery; "it will be easy for him to swallow what is all chewed ready for him." But the bulk of the army did not share this feeling of jealousy. When the pioneers, drawn up, caught sight of Guise, "Come on, sir," they cried, "come and let us die before Thionville; we have been expecting you this long while." The siege lasted three weeks longer. Guise had with him two comrades of distinction, the Italian Peter Strozzi, and the Gascon Blaise do Montluc. On the 20th of June Strozzi was mortally wounded by an arquebuse-shot, at the very side of Guise, who was talking to him with a hand upon his shoulder. "Ah! by God's head, sir," cried Strozzi, in Italian, "the king to-day loses a good servant, and so does your excellency." Guise, greatly moved, attempted to comfort him, and spoke to him the name of Jesus Christ; but Strozzi was one of those infidels so common at that time in Italy. "'Sdeath," said he, "what Jesus are you come hither to remind me of? I believe in no God; my game is played." "You will appear to-day before His face," persisted Guise, in the earnestness of his faith. "'Sdeath," replied Strozzi, "I shall be where all the others are who have died in the last six thousand years." The eyes of Guise remained fixed a while upon his comrade dying in such a frame of mind; but he soon turned all his thoughts once more to the siege of Thionville. Montluc supported him valiantly. A strong tower still held out, and Montluc carried it at the head of his men. Guise rushed up and threw his arm round the warrior's neck, saying, "Monseigneur, I now see clearly that the old proverb is quite infallible: 'A good horse will go to the last.' I am off at once to my quarters to report the capture to the king. Be assured that I shall not conceal from him the service you have done." The reduction of Thionville was accomplished on that very day, June 22, 1558. That of Arlon, a rich town in the neighborhood, followed very closely. Guise, thoroughly worn out, had ordered the approaches to be made next morning at daybreak, requesting that he might be left to sleep until he awoke of himself; when he did awake, he inquired whether the artillery had yet opened fire; he was told that Montluc had surprised the place during the night. "That is making the pace very fast," said he, as he made the sign of the cross; but he did not care to complain about it. Under the impulse communicated by him the fortunes of France were reviving everywhere. A check received before Gravelines, on the 13th of July, 1558, by a division commanded by De Termes, governor of Calais, did not subdue the national elation and its effect upon the enemy themselves. "It is an utter impossibility for me to keep up the war," wrote Philip II., on the 15th of February, 1559, to Granvelle. On both sides there was a desire for peace; and conferences were opened at Cateau-Cambresis. On the 6th of February, 1559, a convention was agreed upon for a truce which was to last during the whole course of the negotiation, and for six days after the separation of the plenipotentiaries, in case no peace took place.

It was concluded on the 2d of April, 1559, between Henry II. and Elizabeth, who had become Queen of England at the death of her sister Mary (November 17, 1558); and next day, April 3, between Henry II., Philip II., and the allied princes of Spain, amongst others the Prince of Orange, William the Silent, who, whilst serving in the Spanish army, was fitting himself to become the leader of the Reformers, and the liberator of the Low Countries. By the treaty with England, France was to keep Calais for eight years in the first instance, and on a promise to pay five hundred thousand gold crowns to Queen Elizabeth or her successors. The money was never paid, and Calais was never restored, and this without the English government's having considered that it could make the matter a motive for renewing the war. By the treaty with Spain, France was to keep Metz, Toul, and Verdun, and have back Saint-Quentin, Le Catelet, and Ham; but she was to restore to Spain or her allies a hundred and eighty-nine places in Flanders, Piedmont, Tuscany, and Corsica. The malcontents—for the absence of political liberty does not suppress them entirely—raised their voices energetically against this last treaty signed by the king, with the sole desire, it was supposed, of obtaining the liberation of his two favorites, the Constable de Montmorency and Marshal de Saint-Andre, who had been prisoners in Spain since the defeat at Saint-Quentin. "Their ransom," it was said, "has cost the kingdom more than that of Francis I." Guise himself said to the king, "A stroke of your Majesty's pen costs more to France than thirty years of war cost." Ever since that time the majority of historians, even the most enlightened, have joined in the censure that was general in the sixteenth century; but their opinion will not be indorsed here; the places which France had won during the war, and which she retained by the peace,—Metz, Toul, and Verdun on her frontier in the north-east, facing the imperial or Spanish possessions, and Boulogne and Calais on her coasts in the north-west, facing England,—were, as regarded the integrity of the state and the security of the inhabitants, of infinitely more importance than those which she gave up in Flanders and Italy. The treaty of Cateau-Cambresis, too, marked the termination of those wars of ambition and conquest which the Kings of France had waged beyond the Alps an injudicious policy, which, for four reigns, had crippled and wasted the resources of France in adventurous expeditions, beyond the limits of her geographical position and her natural and permanent interests.

More or less happily, the treaty of Cateau-Cambreis had regulated all those questions of external policy which were burdensome to France; she was once more at peace with her neighbors, and seemed to have nothing more to do than to gather in the fruits thereof. But she had in her own midst questions far more difficult of solution than those of her external policy, and these perils from within were threatening her more seriously than any from without. Since the death of Francis I., the religious ferment had pursued its course, becoming more general and more fierce; the creed of the Reformers had spread very much; their number had very much increased; permanent churches, professing and submitting to a fixed faith and discipline, had been founded; that of Paris was the first, in 1555; and the example had been followed at Orleans, at Chartres, at Lyons, at Toulouse, at Rochelle, in Normandy, in Touraine, in Guienne, in Poitou, in Dauphiny, in Provence, and in all the provinces, more or less. In 1561, it was calculated that there were twenty-one hundred and fifty reformed, or, as the expression then was, rectified (dressees), churches. "And this is no fanciful figure; it is the result of a census taken at the instigation of the deputies who represented the reformed churches at the conference of Poissy on the demand of Catherine de' Medici, and in conformity with the advice of Admiral de Coligny." [La Reformation en France pendant sa premiere periode, by Henri Luttheroth, pp. 127-132.] It is clear that the movement of the Reformation in the sixteenth century was one of those spontaneous and powerful movements which have their source and derive their strength from the condition of men's souls and of whole communities, and not merely from the personal ambitions and interests which soon come and mingle with them, whether it be to promote or to retard them. One thing has been already here stated and confirmed by facts; it was specially in France that the Reformation had this truly religious and sincere character; very far from supporting or tolerating it, the sovereign and public authorities opposed it from its very birth; under Francis I. it had met with no real defenders but its martyrs; and it was still the same under Henry II. During the reign of Francis I., within a space of twenty-three years, there had been eighty-one capital executions for heresy; during that of Henry II., twelve years, there were ninety-seven for the same cause, and at one of these executions Henry II. was present in person, on the space in front of Notre-Dame: a spectacle which Francis I. had always refused to see. In 1551, 1557, and 1559, Henry II., by three royal edicts, kept up and added to all the prohibitions and penalties in force against the Reformers. In 1550, the massacre of the Vaudians was still in such lively and odious remembrance that a noble lady of Provence, Madame de Cental, did not hesitate to present a complaint, in the name of her despoiled, proscribed, and murdered vassals, against the Cardinal de Tournon, the Count de Grignan, and the Premier President Maynier d'Oppede, as having abused, for the purpose of getting authority for this massacre, the religious feelings of the king, who on his death-bed had testified his remorse for it. "This cause," says De Thou, "was pleaded with much warmth, and occupied fifty audiences, with a large concourse of people, but the judgment took all the world by surprise. Guerin alone, advocate-general in 1545, having no support at court, was condemned to death, and was scape-goat for all the rest. D'Oppede defended himself with fanatical pride, saying that he only executed the king's orders, like Saul, whom God commanded to exterminate the Amalekites. He had the Duke of Guise to protect him; and he was sent back to discharge the duties of his office. Such was the prejudice of the Parliament of Paris against the Reformers that it interdicted the hedge-schools (ecoles buissonnieres), schools which the Protestants held out in the country to escape from the jurisdiction of the precentor of Notre-Dame de Paris, who had the sole supervision of primary schools. Hence comes the proverb, to play truant (faire l'ecole buissonniere—to go to hedge school). All the resources of French civil jurisdiction appeared to be insufficient against the Reformers. Henry II. asked the pope for a bull, transplanting into France the Spanish Inquisition, the only real means of extirpating the root of the errors." It was the characteristic of this Inquisition, that it was completely in the hands of the clergy, and that its arm was long enough to reach the lay and the clerical indifferently. Pope Paul IV. readily gave the king, in April, 1557, the bull he asked for, but the Parliament of Paris refused to enregister the royal edict which gave force in France to the pontifical brief. In 1559 the pope replied to this refusal by a bull which comprised in one and the same anathema all heretics, though they might be kings or emperors, and declared them to have "forfeited their benefices, states, kingdoms, or empires, the which should devolve on the first to seize them, without power on the part of the Holy See itself to restore them." [Magnum Bullarium Romanum, a Beato Leone Magno ad Paulum IV., t. i. p. 841: Luxembourg, 1742.] The Parliament would not consent to enregister the decree unless there were put in it a condition to the effect that clerics alone should be liable to the inquisition, and that the judges should be taken from amongst the clergy of France. For all their passionate opposition to the Reformation, the Magistrates had no idea of allowing either the kingship or France to fall beneath the yoke of the papacy.

Amidst all these disagreements and distractions in the very heart of Catholicism, the Reformation went on growing from day to day. In 1558, Lorenzo, the Venetian ambassador, set down even then the number of the Reformers at four hundred thousand. In 1559, at the death of Henry II., Claude Haton, a priest and contemporary chronicler on the Catholic side, calculated that they were nearly a quarter of the population of France. They held at Paris, in May, 1559, their first general synod; and eleven fully established churches sent deputies to it. This synod drew up a form of faith called the Gallican Confession, and likewise a form of discipline. "The burgess-class, for a long while so indifferent to the burnings that took place, were astounded at last at the constancy with which the pile was mounted by all those men and all those women who had nothing to do but to recant in order to save their lives. Some could not persuade themselves that people so determined were not in the right; others were moved with compassion. 'Their very hearts,' say contemporaries, 'wept together with their eyes.'" It needed only an opportunity to bring these feelings out. Some of the faithful one day in the month of May, 1558, on the public walk in the Pre-aux-Clercs, began to sing the psalms of Marot. Their singing had been forbidden by the Parliament of Bordeaux, but the practice of singing those psalms had but lately been so general that it could not be looked upon as peculiar to heretics. All who happened to be there, suddenly animated by one and the same feeling, joined in with the singers, as if to protest against the punishments which were being repeated day after day. This manifestation was renewed on the following days. The King of Navarre, Anthony de Bourbon, Prince Louis de Conde, his brother, and many lords took part in it together with a crowd, it is said, of five or six thousand persons. It was not in the Pre-aux-Clercs only and by singing that this new state of mind revealed itself amongst the highest classes as well as amongst the populace. The Queen of Navarre, Jeanne d'Albret, in her early youth, "was as fond of a ball as of a sermon," says Brantome, "and she had advised her spouse, Anthony de Bourbon, who inclined towards Calvinism, not to perplex himself with all these opinions." In 1559 she was passionately devoted to the faith and the cause of the Reformation. With more levity, but still in sincerity, her brother-in-law, Louis de Conde, put his ambition and his courage at the service of the same cause. Admiral de Coligny's youngest brother, Francis d'Andelot, declared himself a Reformer to Henry II. himself, who, in his wrath, threw a plate at his head, and sent him to prison in the castle of Melun. Coligny himself, who had never disguised the favorable sentiments he felt towards the Reformers, openly sided with them on the ground of his own personal faith, as well as of the justice due to them. At last the Reformation had really great leaders, men who had power and were experienced in the affairs of the world; it was becoming a political party as well as a religious conviction; and the French Reformers were henceforth in a condition to make war as well as die at the stake for their faith. Hitherto they had been only believers and martyrs; they became the victors and the vanquished, alternately, in a civil war.

A new position for them, and as formidable as it was grand. It was destined to bring upon them cruel trials and the worth of them in important successes; first, the Saint-Bartholomew, then the accession of Henry IV. and the edict of Nantes. At a later period, under Louis XIII. and Louis XIV., the complication of the religious question and the political question cost them the advantages they had won; the edict of Nantes disappeared together with the power of the Protestants in the state. They were no longer anything but heretics and rebels. A day was to come, when, by the force alone of moral ideas, and in the name alone of conscience and justice, they would recover all the rights they had for a time possessed, and more also; but in the sixteenth century that day was still distant, and armed strife was for the Reformers their only means of defence and salvation. God makes no account of centuries, and a great deal is required before the most certain and the most salutary truths get their place and their rights in the minds and communities of men.

On the 29th of June, 1559, a brilliant tournament was celebrated in lists erected at the end of the street of Saint-Antoine, almost at the foot of the Bastille. Henry II., the queen, and the whole court had been present at it for three days. The entertainment was drawing to a close. The king, who had run several tilts "like a sturdy and skilful cavalier," wished to break yet another lance, and bade the Count de Montgomery, captain of the guards, to run against him. Montgomery excused himself; but the king insisted. The tilt took place. The two jousters, on meeting, broke their lances skilfully; but Montgomery forgot to drop at once, according to usage, the fragment remaining in his hand; he unintentionally struck the king's helmet and raised the visor, and a splinter of wood entered Henry's eye, who fell forward upon his horse's neck. All the appliances of art were useless; the brain had been injured. Henry II. languished for eleven days, and expired on the 10th of July, 1559, aged forty years and some months. An insignificant man, and a reign without splendor, though fraught with facts pregnant of grave consequences.


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