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sanctions the common proverb, "That no one of a sudden becomes a monster."*
The exasperation of the Parisians on learning the fate of the Guises knew no bounds. It was at first, indeed,, stifled by fear; but, as the king1 showed no vigor to follow up the blow, grief soon burst forth in the accents of rage. The church was not slow to avenge its martyrs. The murder of Guise was an inexhaustible theme of eloquence to the preachers; that of his brother, a cardinal, was an impiety beyond the power of language to execrate. Henry was declared a heretic, an idolater. Processions were ordered to call down vengeance on the royal assassin; the nudity of both sexes, who mingled in them, being considered the attribute of the ceremony most acceptable. The church, in its rage, seemed to vie in absurd frivolity with the monarch whom it attacked. The priests of one of the principal churches in Paris made a voute, or waxen image, of Henry of Valois,—so the king was now designated,—and the people were told to prick it devoutly with pins, in order to kill this modern Herod. More rational measures of hostility were at the same time taken. The duke of Mayenne, one of the surviving brothers of Guise, was declared head of the league. The loyal chiefs of the judicature were committed to prison. Rome was summoned to issue its anathemas; Spain to send her aid; and an army marched against Henry, who wTas now at Tours, beyond the Loire.
For that monarch there was now no refuge but to fling himself into the party of the Huguenots and the king of Navarre. He dreaded and hesitated to take this step. He was superstitious, and shrunk from an alliance with heretics; but the leaguers would not listen to his proposals of accommodation. Bourbon advanced with an army. He was warned not to trust himself to the assassin-prince, the perfidious son of Catherine; but he dared all, won instantly by his frankness upon the king, dissipated his mistrust, and the two monarchs entered into the most cordial understanding. Many nobles, disgusted with the Guises, and encouraged by the late acts of rigor, however criminal, rallied to Henry; and the latter soon found himself at the head of a formidable army of united Protestants and Catholics. Mayenne had as yet no force capable of resisting him. Henry marched without opposition to Paris, invested it, and took up his own quarters at St. Cloud. m
The rage of the Parisians increased with their impotence, They had been beaten near Senlis, and could not hope t<:
* Nemo repente fuit turpisaimus.
t589. HENRY III ASSASSINATED. 271
defeat the royal army. They made preparations, however for a vigorous defence. Of all the partisans of the league, none regarded its present distress with so much impatience as the sister of the late duke of Guise, the duchess of Montpensier. She had ever been enthusiastic in its behalf; and was known to wear a pair of golden scissors for the purpose, she was wont to say, of marking the tonsure on the head of Henry of Valois, and thus converting him into a monk. She had now, however, her brothers to avenge, and all means seemed justifiable to her.
Among those whom her penetration discerned as fit instruments of her vengeance, was Jaques Clement, a young Dominican friar, zealously attached to his religion, sombre, fanatic, voluptuous. He always announced the purpose of slaying with his own hand the great enemy of his faith. But he was far from being resolved or nerved for the attempt, until the duchess of Montpensier, learning his vague purpose, sent for him, and excited him by all the inducements of favor, flattery, and condescension, to carry it into execution. Thus wound up to resolution, and emboldened by the leaguers, who pretended to imprison one hundred of the most notable citizens as hostages for his safety, Clement set out for St. Cloud. He was provided with letters for Henry from de Harlai, and from the count de Brienne, both prisoners, who were made to consider him a trusty messenger. The friar, thus provided, was taken by the outposts, of whom he boldly demanded access to speak with the king. There were some objections made to the admission of a stranger; but Henry overruled them, observing, that he could not refuse to see an ecclesiastic. Clement was, therefore, introduced: he fell on his knees, presented his letters, and whilst Henry was engaged in opening them, the friar stabbed him in the lower part of the stomach. The king exclaimed, "The wicked monk! he has killed me;" and, drawing out the knife, struck Clement with it. The attendants rushed in at the moment, and slew the assassin. At first the wound was not considered mortal; but on the following day its fatal effects became evident. Henry of Bourbon was summoned to the dying monarch, who declared him his successor; but warned him, that he would never reign over France unless he abandoned the creed of Calvin. Henry III. expired on the 2d of August, 1589.
HENRY THE FOURTH.
So far beyond the bounds of common sense and judgment were men carried by the excitation of party, that the late imbecile monarch was lamented as a hero in the camp, whilst among the citizens his murder was celebrated as the most glorious triumph. The duchess of Montpensier flung her arms round the neck of the messenger who brought the welcome tidings, crying, "Ah, my friend, is it true] is the monster veritably dead! what a gratification! I am only grieved to think he did not know it was I that directed the blow." She herself then went forth to spread the news. Of all orders of men the priesthood were most delighted: they were in ecstasies. Clement was declared a saint and a martyr, nay a deity. A statue was erected to him, with the inscription, "St. Jaques Clement, pray for us sinners!" His mother was addressed with the same scriptural salutation that was applied to the mother of our Lord. Nor was this the mere enthusiasm and fanatic madness of the subordinate pastors; the great shepherd, their infallible head, the pope himself, joined in all the impiety. The pontiff Sextus V. pronounced in person a public eulogium on St. Jaques Clement, and on the act of regicide, which he represented, from the very chair of St. Peter, as comparable with the incarnation and resurrection of the Savior.
The first act meditated by Henry of Bourbon, now, on the extinction of the line of Valois, king of France as well as of Navarre, was to give assault to the guilty capital. But dissension was in his camp. Such impression had the arguments of the league made even upon its opponents, that the Catholic royalists in the service of the last king hesitated to recognize Henry IV. as king of France. They at last acknowledged his title; but this act of acquiescence was accompanied with a request that he would again adopt the Catholic faith. Henry had never been a bigot; he was not much attached to any form of faith. In his childhood he was a Catholic, in his boyhood a Protestant, in youth forced to be a Catholic again; and when he embraced the reformed religion on his escape from court, we may suppose him to have been more influenced by resentment towards his enemies and gratitude towards his friends, than by any profound con viction. A gallant and a soldier, he was but little addicted 1589. WAR BETWEEN HENRY AND THE LEAGUE. 273
to study or reflection ; and although Henry yielded not to the zealots of either side in practical piety, and in tru]y Christian benevolence, yet it may be supposed that he was very indiiferent as to tenets. In all his manifestoes, from the very commencement of the troubles, he shows himself not averse to Catholicism. It was the compulsory adoption of it that he resented. "How," he asked, "was his conversion attempted 1 With the dagger to his throat."—Henry had, years before, offended his friend Mornay, a stern Calvinist, by his indifference on this point, and even previous to his alliance with the late king he had declared himself open to conviction. He, in fact, always contemplated his conversion to the Catholic faith as a possibility. His principle was to do this with honor, to make his conscience yield voluntarily, but never under circumstances of constraint. He, therefore, af the present moment, rejected the demands of the royalists: and they, with Epernon at their head, abandoned the new monarch to his little band of Huguenots; and even that force, too insignificant to be called an army, Henry was obliged to divide; a detachment under one of his captains Deing required to oppose the Spaniards, who threatened an invasion of Picardy. Issuing, therefore, his first edict, which promised every surety and support to the Catholic religion, and which summoned the states-general of the kingdom to meet at Tours, in October, the king retreated towards the sea-coast, resolving to await, in the neighborhood of Dieppe, the succors that he had requested from Elizabeth of England.
The duke of Mayenne, now chief of the league, caused the cardinal of Bourbon to be declared king, by the return of the parliament. He was proclaimed under the unlucky name of Charles X. As this mock monarch was a prisoner at Tours, Mayenne had no one to interfere with his authority; and he was himself declared lieutenant-general of the kingdom. The duke lost no time in endeavors to signalize his new command. At the head of upwards of 20,000 men he marched in pursuit of the Huguenots, promising the Parisians to bring the Navarrois captive in a few days.
Henry was near Dieppe with his little army, consisting of 3000 French infantry, two regiments of Swiss, some lansquenets, and a troop of gallant followers, constituting his cavalry. As soon as he learned Mayenne's approach he retired from the town, the defences of which his little army could not man, and posted himself in and around the castle of Arques, which is northward of Dieppe, and about four miles distant. Many present counselled Henry to embark, and put himself in safety beyond the sea, but Biron opposed this witb all his might. "Here we are in France ; and here let us be b.iried," exclaimed he:—"fly now, and all your hopes vanish with the wind that bears you." The words which Biron spoke were accordant to the resolution of his master; and every effort was henceforth directed to intrench the camp, which stretched from the chateau of Arques to the little village of the same name. The advanced post was a lazaretto or hospital for lepers.
Mayenne arrived with his army in sight of Arques, about the middle of September, and betrayed the dilatoriness of his disposition in hesitating and making divers partial attacks. The cannon of the chateau protected the royal army; and Mayenne, with all his superiority, was not confident that he should carry the intrenchments. At length, on the 23d, he prepared to keep his promise of overpowering the king. He attacked the lazaretto with a large force of lansquenets. On Henry's side fought also a few of those German mercenaries. After some skirmishing the lansquenets of the league advanced; not, however, in hostile attitudes, but with their caps on their pikes, and shouting "Vive le roi!" in token of amity. Their compatriots within the intrenchments welcomed them, and even helped them to get between the lines. The assault being at the same time given on other points, the lansquenets, either changing their minds, or acting upon a treacherous intention, formed at the very first, and ran upon the Swiss with their pikes. The leaguers poured over the intrenchments in the confusion: Biron was surrounded : from the very first the stoutest friends of Henry gave up the battle, and looked upon his cause as lost. The monarch was almost deserted; his nobles had sallied out to charge the cavalry of the enemy, and there was, at the very moment, a sanguinary conflict and melee of cavaliers upon the plain. "In all France are there not fifty gentlemen to die with their Ring'?" cried Henry in despair, and he seized a lance to.fight with the Swiss. Chatillon, the son of Coligny, had just come up, and was near enough to hear his prince's ejaculation. He answered it by uniting his efforts to those of Henry. The Swiss by this time had rallied: the fifty gentlemen whom the king in despair had summoned were by his side; Henry charged at their head the successful leaguers, routed the lansquenets, and drove them back over the intrenchments. The lazaretto itself was soon freed, and Mayenne was completely worsted.
It was after this victory that Henry IV. wrote to Crillon, "Hang thyself, brave Crillon! we have fought at Arques, and thou wast not there. Adieu! brave Crillon ! je voits crime <l tort et a travers."