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among those who held the lists against all comers. They were victorious. The monarch especially had signalized hia address, and no new adventurer appeared. Henry, however, wished for more of the game, and according ordered Montgomery to break a lance with him. The stout captain obeyed. The king and he ran together: their lances shivered in the hock, when a splinter penetrating Henry's visor, inflicted a deep wound over his left eye. He was immediately carried to his palace, where he lingered for twelve days, and expired on the 10th of July, 1559. Montgomery, the innocent cause of the disaster, thought it prudent to fly. He was taken some years after, and executed by the cruel Catherine of Medicis, in most unjust retribution.
The character of Henry was neither so distinctly pronounced nor so peculiar as to require a delineation separate from his reign. He wanted the splendid qualities of his parent, nor did he compensate for that want by more solid qualities. In the bustle, the feats, and the reverses of the reign of Francis, we are apt to overlook his policy, or forget that he had any, until the reign of his son places in strong contrast his prudence in maintaining the ascendency over his ministers, and keeping himself superior to court intrigue, Henry allowed himself to be so overcome and controlled by favoritism and arrogance, that we can never look for causes in his individual will or views. These were lost in the stronger wills of the chiefs who surrounded him. He was more of a bigot than Francis, as Philip was more of a bigot than Charles, and for the same reason. The priesthood that had their part in the education of the princes, inspired them from the cradle with an abhorrence for heretics, which could not have been acquired by their sires without being tempered with the experience of manhood. Yet Henry did not deal generally in bloodshed like his father. The population of a whole province was not extirpated in his reign. Even to his last mean and culpable deceit, the bed of justice, he was absolutely forced by the cardinal of Lorraine, "who held to him such language," said Vieilleville, "such comminations of the ire of God, that he esteemed himself already damned if he forebore to go."
[559. ACCESSION OF FRANCIS II. 231
FRANCIS THE SECOND AND CHARLES THE NINTH.
If the late king1, of a character naturally masculine, was overborne and nullified by the nobles his contemporaries, who divided the court, it is not to be supposed that his son, Francis II., a youth of sixteen, could really hold much authority. The thoughts of the young monarch were all centered in his lovely queen, Mary of Scotland, who, fond of gaiety and pleasure, naturally transferred to her uncles of Guise and Lorraine the influence pertaining to her new dignity: they, in fact, became complete masters of king" and kingdom. Montmorency, received coldly, was allowed once more to retire to Chantilly. The duchess of Valentinois was also exiled; her jewels and estates were confiscated in favor of Catherine of Medicis, who, contented with this triumph over her rival, did not yet dare to dispute the ascendency of Guise. The neglect of the court that had weighed on the princes of the blood, the king of Navarre and his brother of Conde, was now aggravated by insult. The family were, however, of a tranquil, generous temper, brave indeed, but very unfit for conspiracies and for court intrigue. The king of Navarre was apathetic and fond of ease; the prince of Conde was given to pleasure. The nephews of Montmorency,—Coligny the admiral, and Dandelot,—were not of this pacific disposition: they were indignant at their uncle's disgrace, and discontented at their own. Communicating their griefs to the Bourbons, they stirred the dormant passions of those princes, and imparted to them their own restless and ambitious spirit. Conde, in particular, was won by Coligny, a man of a bold and imposing character. They consulted how best they might humble the Guises, and dispossess them of power: the malcontents were all inclined to the reformation, except Montmorency. They resolved to take advantage of this important circumstance, and place themselves at the head of a religious faction hostile to the court: this was unfortunate for France. The cause of civil liberty had been betrayed and lost in the reigns of Charles V. and VI. by the princes of the blood, who put themselves at the head of the popular parties, and confounded the interests of the people with their own. Now religious freedom was doomed to perish in the same manner. Instead of being allowed to make gradual progress in the public mind till it had assumed force to command respect and conquer intolerance, it was prematurely excited to revolt by the intrigues of discontented princes. A conspiracy against royalty became the first act of Protestantism in France; and thus hundreds of loyal subjects and rational minds were alienated from it, and their dislike was strengthened by prejudice. The court, with some reason, henceforth declared against it an eternal war.
Many of the noblesse had already joined the party of Coligny and of Conde, though the king of Navarre and the constable hesitated and held back. La Rochefoucault, Jarnac, and the vidame de Chartres declared for them. An atrocious impertinence on the part of the cardinal of Lorraine, opportunely occurring, swelled this band of foes to the Guises. Tormented by demands, some for debts due, and some for places promised, the all-powerful prelate in a fit of spleen published a proclamation by sound, of trumpet, ordering all petitioners, of whatever rank, to quit Fontainebleau, where the court then was, without delay, and this under pain of being hanged. The cardinal, perhaps, meant to be facetious; but the court instantly became a desert. The host of noble suitors, proud though mendicant, could not forgive the threat, and many joined the discontented.
The party had numerous meetings in the chateau of Yendome, and in other places. La Renaudie, a gentleman of Perigord, and an agent of Coligny, was employed by him to be the ostensible leader. A meeting was secretly convened at Nantes, where the Protestants and enemies of Guise united to the number of 600, and took counsel together. It was agreed to attack Blois, where the king then was, obtain possession of his person, and get rid of the odious Guises. Amongst such a host of conspirators secrecy was almost impossible: the duke received warning* of the plot, and removed the court to the castle of Amboise. The cardinal of Lorraine was terrified: he proposed to summon the ban and arriere ban, and gather an army against the rebels. All the anxiety of Guise, on the contrary, was, that his enemies should show themselves; and for that purpose he affected confidence. Coligny and Conde both repaired to Amboise, where Guise received them without betraying the least mark of suspicion, and he appointed them to different posts of defence about the castle; each, however, watched by his own trusty partisans. The rising had been appointed for the 15th of March: it took place on the 16th: the baron of Castelnau seizing the castle of Noize not far from Amboise. La Renaudie was marching to join him : they hoped to surprise the court; when on a sudden the royal troops sent by Guise made their apl560. CIVIL DISSENSIONS. 233
pearance, attacked la Renaudie, slew him, and besieged Noize.
An amnesty was now published in the hope of allaying the insurrection: but, as if in contempt of it, the chateau of Amboise was attacked on that very night. All the vigilance and valor of Guise were required to repel the rebels. By secret information he had time to prepare for them, and they were routed. The amnesty was revoked, and no mercy was shown to the captives. Twelve hundred of them were hanged, or otherwise dispatched: even Castelnau, who had surrendered on the faith of the duke of Nemours, was executed in the presence of the court. In the confessions forced from many by the torture, none of the real chiefs of the conspiracy were mentioned except the prince of Conde. History is even in doubt to decide if those chiefs were concerned in the attack: the Protestant party will not admit that they by this rash and unwarrantable act produced the civil war. Conde was brought to trial in presence of the court; he disdained to defend himself but as a knight "Let my accuser appear," said he, regarding Guise, "and I will prove- upon him in single combat, that he is the traitor, not I, and that he is the true enemy of the king and of the monarchy." Guise rose to reply to this challenge: "I can no lpnger suffer these dark suspicions to weigh upon so valiant a prince; I myself will be his second in the combat against whoever accuses him." Most of those present were as perplexed, as no doubt the reader is, to comprehend this conduct in the duke of Guise. Some called it chivalric generosity, others the perfection of guile.
In the trouble excited by the conspiracy, the young king, for the first time, manifested an opinion of his own. He was shocked at finding himself the object of hatred, and he began to mistrust the Guises. The queen-mother, Catherine, after the example of her son, also took courage; and the chancellor Oliver, as well as Vieilleville and other courtiers, joined her party. Hence arose the first amnesty,—a concession on the part of the Guises which was recompensed by the duke's appointment as lieutenant-general of the kingdom. The executions which followed, especially that of Castelnau, which the court witnessed, shocked the princesses (the cardinal Lorraine hoped that the sight of heretic blood would have had an opposite effect), and they, with the young queen Mary, flung themselves into the scale of mercy. Guise was unable to resist this influence: he saw that the prince of Conde must in consequence be released, and he sought to take to himself foil credit for a generosity that was forced upon him. Here itea Catherine of Medieis, for the first time, appears as the leader of a party. Notwithstanding our prejudices against her, she appears also, on this first occasion, as the supporter of mercy.
The continued mistrust and independence of the Guises shown on the part of the queen-mother and the young king produced an assembly of notables, summoned soon afterwards at Fontainebleau to take the affairs of the kingdom into consideration. In it the Protestant leaders, even prelates, spoke openly the apology for reformation; and Coligny demanded tolerance for the sectarians, relying upon the neutrality of the court. Guise could no longer command his temper, as he did at Amboise: mutual recrimination and menaces were heard in the assembly of peace. Both parties struggled in their discourses to convince the monarch of the justice and expediency of their counsels; but the weakness and indecision of the court were at the same time seen by both; and an appeal of equal earnestness was made by them to the people. The Protestants continually cried oat for the statesgeneral, and a national council. And now the cardinal of Lorraine forgot his nature so far as to join in the cry, and make the same demand. The independent attitude of the queen rather forced the Guises to strengthen themselves by popularity.
Such appear the true reasons why the states-general were summoned to meet at Orleans, in October, 1560. Historians in general perceive in them merely a snare to catch the Protestant chiefs. They served that purpose indeed, but they had been already summoned ere Conde, just released, could have recommenced his intrigues. The arrogance and boldness of the Protestants, and of Coligny, in the assembly of notables at Fontainebleau, were revolting to Catherine and Francis. Between August, when that assembly was held, and October, the period for the assembling of the states, the Guises had completely won the court to themselves, and regained their influence. The prince of Conde attempted during that interval to seize Lyons, and convert it into a strong hold of rebellion. He failed, however: and his traitorous enterprise became thoroughly known at court. Notwithstanding this, the brothers of Bourbon, the king' of Navarre, and the prince, were induced to join the assembly of the states. Though full of mistrust, they still ventured on the secret favor or neutrality of Catherine, who joined in enticing them to come. They were ill received by the king. Catherine was troubled, and shed tears on beholding them, knowing them to be victims betrayed by their confidence in her. The king's mind had been filled with the bitterest calumnies ag*ainst them: he accused Conde of having attempted his life, and