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Full text of "Five famous French women"



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JOAN OF ARC. 

From the Statue in the Rue de Rivoli, Pari! 

J-rom I'hotosraf'h by Cassdl &■ Co., Ltd. 



FIVE FAMOUS 
FRENCH WOMEN 

K\ ill 'Ce r{T d^-Tnr<L-tr 
in « BY 



rs. HENRY^FAWCETT, LL.D. 



/Mu. ..^. ,... _.., 

AUTHOR OF "life OF QUEEN VICTORIA," " LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM 
MOLESWORTH," " POLITICAL ECONOMY FOR BEGINNERS," ETC. ETC. 



IVITH THIRTY ILLUSTRATIONS 



iv^"' 




1*;:1\\ 



CASSELL AND COMPANY, LIMITED 
London, Paris, New York, Toronto and Melbourne 

MCMVII ALL rights RESERVED 



CONTENTS. 



PACS 



JOAN OF ARC 3 

LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER, 
MARGARET OF ANGOUL^ME, DUCHESS OF 
ALENgON AND QUEEN OF NAVARRE . 53 

The Childeen and their Mother . . .53 

The Reform of the Church and the Revival 
OF Learning .75 

Pa VIA, 1525 100 

Queen op Navarre 130 

Chronological Table 167 

JEANNE D'ALBRET, QUEEN OF NAVARRE . 173 

RENEE OF FRANCE, DUCHESS OF FERRARA. 247 



Digitized by tine Internet Arciiive 

in 2007 witii funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 



littp://www.arcliive.org/details/fivefamousfrencliOOfawcuoft 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. 



Joan 



JOAN OF ARC. 

Joan of Arc — From the Statue in the 
Rue de Rivoli, Paris. 

The Cottage at Domremy, where 
of Arc was born 

Ruins of the Castle, Chinon 

Rheims Cathedral. 

John, Duke of Bedford 

Joan of Arc, from the Statue by Barrias 
at Bonsecours 



Joan of Arc's Tower, Rouen 

House in Rouen, where Joan of 
is said to have been lodged 



Arc 



Frontispiece 



To face jmge 11 
18 
29 
31 

32 

38 

40 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 

The Dauphin, Charles Orlant, son of 

Charles VIII. ..... „ 55 

Louis XII. entering Genoa in Triumph „ 57 

Louis XII „ 65 

Gaston de Foix „ 70 

Francis I. of France .... „ 74 

Margaret of Angoul^me ... „ 81 

Louise of Savoy „ 109 

Erasmus „ 113 

Charles V. „ 118 



VI 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. 



JEANNE D'ALBRET. 
Catherine de Medici 



. To face page 186 



Mary Queen of Scots " La Heine 






Dauphine" 


» 


204 


Antony of Bourbon .... 


» 


223 


Louis de Bourbon .... 


)> 


230 


Jeanne d'Albret, Queen of Navarre . 


>> 


232 


The Castle, Pau 


M 


233 


Charles IX 


» 


234 


Henry IV. of France .... 


J» 


241 


^l^E OF FRANCE. 






Ercole d'Este, Duke of Ferrara . 


'J 


251 


Ren^e, Duchess of Ferrara . 


>> 


253 


John Calvin ...... 


>» 


261 


Henry II 


»> 


266 


Elizabeth, Queen of England 


» 


281 



BOOKS CONSULTED. 



"Proems de condemnation et de 
rehabilitation de Jeanne d'Arc" 

"Jeanne d'Arc" 

" Jeanne d'Arc " 

"Jeanne d'Arc" 

"Jeanne d'Arc" 

"History of France 

" Nouvelle Collection des Mdmoires 
pour servir k I'histoire de France" 

"The Book of the Ladies" . 



Cambridge Modern History." 
Life of Marguerite d'Angouleme " 
Life of Jeanne d'Albret, Queen of 

Navarre '* 

Biographie Universelle." 
National Dictionary of Biography." 
Short History of the English 

People" 

Some Memorials of Ren^e of 

France, Duchess of Ferrara '* . 



Published by Quicker at. 
By Mrs. Oliphant. 
By Andrew Lang. 
By Mark Tivain. 
By Lord Ronald Gower. 
By Michelei. 
MM. Michaut et 

Poujoulat. 
By Brantdme, Translated 
by Miss K. P. Wormsley. 

By Miss Freer. 

By Miss Freer. 



By J. R. Green. 
By M. B. 



viii BOOKS CONSULTED. 

" Qaspard de Coligny, Admiral of 

France" By A. W. Whitehead. 

" Women and Men of the French 

Renaissance " . . . .By Miss E. Sichel. 
"Margaret of Angoul^me •' . . By A. Mary F. Robinson 

{Madame Duclaux). 
" Queen Elizabeth ". . . . By E. S. Beesly. 



FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH 
WOMEN. 

JOAN OF ARC. 



JOAN OF ARC. 

EvEEY now and then in the history of the world a 
revelation is granted us of a supremely beautiful 
soul, one who spontaneously and without effort 
breathes forth nothing but what is pure, true, just, 
honest, brave, and lovely. With sublime originality 
such men and women live in the world without 
acquiring any of its impurities ; whatever the age in 
which they live, their recorded speech becomes one 
of the most precious possessions of after time : — 

Out of the low, obscure, and petty world, 

Or only see one purpose and one will 

Evolve themselves in the world, change wrong to right : 

To have to do with nothing but the true, 

The good, the eternal. 

At least three such pure white souls have lived in 
the world : each one a living miracle. Each one 
perished by the hand of the public executioner 
according to due process of law and what their con- 
temporaries called justice. The more we know of 
Joan of Arc, the more surely we are convinced that 
she is worthy to stand with the other two, as one 



^ 



4 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

of those specially inspired, God-sent messengers; 
and she, like the other two, after living for her 
fellow men, died as a common malefactor at their 
hands. 

Such language may be condemned as charac- 
terised by fanaticism and exaggeration. But such 
condemnation will scarcely proceed from those who 
have made any minute study of the marvellous 
career of the Maid of Orleans. Everyone is familiar 
with a general outline of her brief life and cruel 
death ; but when that outline is filled in by a study 
of contemporary records few will be found who do 
not agree that it is difiicult to exaggerate or over- 
praise her marvellous union of capacity and modesty, 
heroism and simplicity. 

Louis Kossuth has pointed out that this peasant 
girl, brought up on her father's farm at Domremy, 
has the unique and imposing distinction of being 
the only person of either sex who has ever held 
supreme command of the military forces of a nation 
at the age of seventeen. 

This excites our wonder but not our veneration. 
Perhaps her mere fighting excites our wonder more 
than it ought ; it must be remembered that in those 
day s^ the early fifteenth century, it was by no means 
uncommon for women to fight as soldiers. Michelet 
points out that thirty women were wounded in the 
siege of Amiens, and if thirty were wounded a great 
many more than thirty must have fought. He also 



JOAN OF ARC. 5 

says that in the Hussite Wars in Bohemia women 
fought almost as commonly as men. 

Neither does the distinction of the Maid of 
Orleans_rest' in hex alleged supernatural visitations; 
she heard^voices and saw visions. But the wonder 
would almost have been if it had been otherwise ; 
voices and visions -W-ere__ not at all singular in the 
fifteentlL- century. Her u nique di jtinction_was_in 
he rself: her q wa,^ character. A well-known novel 
turns very much on the expression, " Miracles don't 
happen." Joan of , Arc—was_A_living miracle ; not 
her victories, not her voices, not. her visions, but 
she herself, the peasant girl, ihe_ warrior saint, 
suddenly raised from the humblest^ obscurity to 
take command of the-armres^Qf-Eja^nce at a mom ent 
w^heaJFranca^-was cruahed-Jtnd humiliated. This 
peasant, transferred from her father's fields to be 
the equal, nay, the chief and leader, of princes and 
captains, but who in the p rocess lost, none. _q1- her 
girlish simplicity and_modest2^j^whog;ave_ the king 
ETs crownligain and placed the disthroned monarch 
back once more on the throne of his ancestors ; 
who, when asked what reward she claimed for her- 
self, could think of nothing that she could wish 
for except that her native village, which she had 
left for ever, should be exempted from taxation. 
This was the miracle of miracles. The age in 
which she lived was cruel and brutal to the point 
of ferocity ; lust and crime stalked unchecked all 



6 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

through society from the highest to the lowest. She 
lived among the half-savage captains of her time 
not only pure and virtuous herself, but a source of 
purity and clean living in them. We have their 
own word for it that when they were with her they 
had no thought that they might not have had for 
their own mother or sister, and that she appeared 
to them * * a thing wholly divine whether to see or 
to hear." She ruled them through the magnetic 
influence of her own personality ; and one secret of 
it was that, added to herinborn military instinct, 
which commanded the respect of the men-at-arms, 
she had absolute sincerity as well as common sense 
and^xeady-wit, and was wholly womanly in the use 
of JijerJbongiie* Thus she had the man's weapon, 
the sword, as well as the woman's weapon, the 
tongue. To her rough soldiers she forbade the use 
of oaths and bad words; but to one old man, who 
found that when he was forbidden to swear he was 
reduced almost to silence, s^ allowed one oath, 
and told him he might swear by his stick. 

Many instances are recorded illustrating her com- 
mon sense and rustic humour. She repudiated any 
claim to supemaitura,! -powers. When the sick Duke 
of Lorraine sent for her, having heard of her fame, 
he thought she would cure him of his illness by 
some magic spell. He asked her what he should 
do. * * Be reconciled to your wife and make your 
peace with God ' ' was the somewhat disconcerting 



Joan of arc. f 

reply of the peasant girl. Again, later in her career, 
when the good women of Bourges brought her 
crosses and rosaries, beseeching her to touch them, 
thinking that thus they would acquire some magic 
charm, she said, " Touch them yourselves; it would 
be all the same." 

More wonderful perhaps even than hei.._mi li- 

tary and political^ achievement s was the skill 
with which, during l7f-r trial , ^he parried the cross- 
e xaraination conducted by s ome sixty of the most 
learned dialecticians _ in France . w^ho tried in 
vam to entangle her in her talk ; for days, weeks, 
and months this girl, who had then been eight 
months a prisoner, ill fed and loaded with chains, 
who, as she said, did not know A from B, kept 
her cruel inquisitors at bay, never once. losing 
^ther her head or her temper; her modest stead- 
fa stness and high spirit confounded them. She 
answered so boldly and so firmly that she turned 
the current of popular feeling in her favour, and 
her persecutors were fain to conduct her examina- 
tion in private because through every day of her 
public examination she gained ground and they lost 
it. An Englishman, present at the trial — and the 
English were of course her enemies — could not with- 
hold the exclamation, ** Brave lass ! Why was she 
not born an Englishwoman? " All through the 
long weary account of the protracted trial down to 
her cruel death, her character shines like a bright 



8 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

star out of the dark record of superstition, cruelty, 
and avarice that brought her at last to the 
stake. 

The objection may be raised, " How do we know 
all this is true? She was a sort of prodigy, no 
• doubt; but has not her story now become almost a 
fairy tale overlaid with the embroidery of legend 
and romance ? ' ' There is a remarkable reply to 
this very natural objection. Almost every incident 
in the career of Joan of Arc_is_Jieati£fid-iQj2y_ sworn 
dep ositions m ade^by^e n and women who were her 
co mpanions an d friends. Scores of these — some, the 
companions of her childhood from her native village ; 
some, men-at-arms who were eye-witnesses of her 
military achievements; some, priests who cross- 
examined her at Poitiers, or who attended her on 
the scaffold; some, good women of every rank who 
had known her in closest intimacy; and it is from 
these sworn depositions, not from popular legend, 
that the details of her history are taken — from these 
and also from the notary's record of her examination 
by her sixty-two judges, who were really her prose- 
cutors, at EouenJ This record of the trial, written 
/^down in Latin at the time and translated about 
y forty years ago into French, and in 1902 into 
English, bears evidence that the dead parchment 
was once full of living actuality. The learned scribe 
w^ho took down Joan's answers as she gave them 
has occasionally, on the margin, added his own 



JOAN OF ABC. 9 

comment on their tenour; four times he writes on 
the margin, ** Superba responsio," *' proud reply," 
or again in another place, ** magno modo," " grand, 
dignified manner." 

It is rather important to bear in mind that 
the history of the maid was sifted in the closest 
way at these tw o^ trial s, two legal processes — 
the first trial at Rouen, where she was tried 
by sixty 4 wo_iudges , all her enemies, chosen from 
among the most learned lawyers and ecclesiastics 
from the university of Paris, was hardly what we 
should call a trial at all ; she was allowed no counsel 
and no witnesses were called ; lier-SQ.-_called_judges 
were_j:eally-he]^-prosecutors, and were fully deter- 
mined on her death before the trial opened at all. 
The object of the long cross-examination was to 
wrest from her some admission that could be twisted 
into proof of demoniac possession, which would dis- 
credit the crowning of Charles VII. at Eheims, the 
chief political accomplishment of Joan's life. If 
the court at Rouen could prove that Joan was a 
sorceress, the sanctity of Charles's coronation would 
be destroyed and discredited. It was to this end 
that the prolonged examination was aimed ; and in 
the accomplishment of this end it signally failed. 
The second trial had likewise a political end in 
view. Charles VII. became King of France, as 
Joan had foretold he should, and the English were 
driven out of nearly all their French possessions; 



16 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEjf. 

but the crowning of Charles at Eheims in 1429 had 
been brought about by Joan, and she had been con- 
demned and burnt as a sorceress. The pride of the 
King of France could not brook that it should be 
said that he owed his crown to a sorceress ; there- 
fore, although the wretched creature had lifted no 
finger to help her, and had oifered no penny to 
ransom her, while she was living, and in the hands 
of his and her mortal enemies, twenty-five years 
after her ashes had been scattered in the Seine he 
instituted another trial, which was called a ^process 
of^rehabilitation. It was then that the companions 
of her childhood were called to give their evidence, 
as well as the captains who had fought by her side, 
the women who had lived with her, and the priests 
who had heard her in confession, and who had ad- 
ministered the rites of religion to her. 

It is no credit to Charles that this inquiry was 
instituted ; his only motive was that it might not 
be said that he owed his kingdom to the incanta- 
tions of a witch ; but none the less the depositions 
of the witnesses are of supreme importance as a 
revelation of Joan's true character, and are of 
immense interest in themselves ; they bear the 
impress of truth in every page ; the evidence of 
the various witnesses differs one from the other 
just as an account of the same event from different 
persons always differs ; but Joan's character shines 
through all of them, pure, white, and spotless, " the 



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JOAN OF ARC. J I 

one pure figure which rises out of the greed, the) 
lust, the selfishness, the unbehef of the time." 

An attempt must now be made to tell her story 
in a methodical manner. She was born on 
January 5, 1412, at Domremy, a frontier village 
between France and Lorraine, on the direct road to 
Germany ; she was one of the children of a peasant 
proprietor, Jacques d'Arc, who appears to have been 
the chief man of his village. At the time of her 
childhood, half France was in the hands of the 
English ; the other half was desolated by civil war. 
Burgundy allied itself with the English, so that 
France was divided against itself, and Frenchmen 
sided with the enemies of France. Domremy being 
on the border between France and Lorraine, and 
being also not far removed from Burgundy, was often 
the scene of war, and still oftener of rumours of 
war. Once in the dead waste and middle of the 
night the village was attacked by the Burgundians, 
and Joan and her little brothers and sisters were 
roused out of their beds to be carried by their 
parents to a place of greater safety. Another time 
a party of fugitives flying from armed men arrived 
in the village, and Joan gave up her own bed to 
some of them and went herself to sleep in an 
attic. What events to stimulate the fancy of an 
imaginative child ! And if these were not enough 
there were other things to feed the flame of thoughts 
beyond the reaches of her soul. There was the 



12 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 

forest with its haunted glades, an oak tree whose 
branches had often served as a gibbet, and had the 
awful association connected with its direful fruit of 
human corpses; and there was legend as well, and 
the romantic popular saying * * That France had 
been ruined by a woman, and was destined to be 
saved by a virgin from the borders of Lorraine/' 
Joan brooded over these things; a quiet, good 
child, obedient to her parents, attentive to religion, 
loving to hear the church bells ring and to take part 
in the services of the church. She had nothing that 
is ordinarily _£alled~education . She could neither 
read nor write ; but she could feel and pray. She 
felt for the unutterable calamities of France, and 
she prayed God to send a deliverer. She knew that 
more than once God's people had been saved by a 
woman, a Judith, a Deborah, and she remembered 
that there was a prophecy, which was also a 
promise, that a woman should bruise the serpent's 
head. Tending her father's sheep, or sitting perhaps 
outside her mother's door spinning in the sun, she 
mused over all these things. The Psalmist says, 
** While I was musing the fire kindled, then spake 
I with my tongue." But wh ile Joa n was musing 
the_^reJkisdled indeed, but she. did. not speak; she 
was sp^enjp. She was sitting in the open air in 
the middle of the day in summer, and she saw a 
biaghiUight ^rightcr -^vea4hajUJie_ midday summer 
sun, and heard^.vQicfijH ^ich spoke to h^ iby name : 



JOAN OF ARC. 13 

**Joan, be a good child. Go often to church." 
Harmless words enough, but we are told they 
frightened her; she felt her destiny was coming. 
Sh^was_thirteen at the time, on the borderland 
where womanhood and childhood meet. The next 
time the _voice_s__spoke to her, she saw the light 
again, and she also saw the form of a noble-look- 
ing, .man ; the voice said , * * Go to the help of the 
King of France, and thou shalt restore to him his 
kingdom." She replied trembling, " Sir, I am but 
a poor child. I know not how to ride to the wars 
or to lead men-at-arms." The voice gave her direc- 
tions, what she was to do. She was to go to the 
nearest town, Vaucouleurs, and ask to see the 
captain there, one Baudricourt by name, and he 
would tell her how to approach the king. These 
messages were repeated again and again during the 
years while Joan -was between, thirteen and seven- 
teen ; till at last she felt she could choose no longer ; 
she must obey, and go to find the king. It is not 
difficult to imagine what happened in her home — 
her mother's tears, her father's fury ; these were not 
times when rebellious daughters could expect any 
gentleness. If we remember Capulet's language to 
Juliet when she refuses to marry the County Paris, 
we probably only have a faint perception of Jacques 
d' Arc's to his daughter. She_said-aiterwards of the 
struggle with her parents -that it was the worst 
battle she evej-. foug ht, w orse than any in which 



14 f'lVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

^she bore arms against the English. Her father 
threatened to drown her ; still she persisted ; appeals 
were made to her filial piety; she said she must 
obey God rather than her parents. Asked what 
prompted her, she could only reply that it was " the 
pity she had for the fair realm of France,? 

At last she gained one supporter : lelMs Jiame be 
rememberBd and honoured. Her uncle by marriage, 
Durant Laxart, was the first to believe in her 
mission. He lived near Vaucouleurs, and could at 
least help her to go there. He took her to stay with 
himself and his wife, and then went by himself to 
Vaucouleurs to see the captain of the men-at-arms 
there, Baudricourt. Here also it was the expected 
that happened. On hearing Laxart 's story that his 
niece, a girl of seventeen, proposed to save France 
from the English, and wanted a company of armed 
men to lead her to the king, Baudricourt burst into 
a loud laugh and said, " Box her ears and send her 
back to her father." In point of fact she was sent 
back to her father. HeiiJamily^ then Jried to settle 
matters by providing her with a husband. They 
produced a young man who said Joan had given 
him her promise ; but she^ was not a girl tamely to 
submit to an imposture. She now exerted herself 
with vigour ; she appealed to the ecclesiastical court 
at Toul, and proved to the satisfaction of the bishop 
there that she had given no promise to marry the 
young man. 



JOAN OF ARC. 15 

Her case now began to excite some local interest ; 
one of her brothers took her part, and she went 
again to her uncle, Durant Laxart; a good many 
people were inclined to believe in her. She ap- 
peared before Baudricourt; his disbelief had lost 
some of its former robust vigour. She said she 
had been sent to him by the Lord, in order to tell 
the Dauphin to be of good courage, that succour 
should come to him before mid-Lent ; that the Lord 
was the King of France, and that His will was that 
she, Joan, should lead the Dauphin to be crowned 
and reign over France. Baudricourt was perplexed 
and doubtful. He sent a messenger all across 
France to ask instructions of the king ; and he 
summoned the cure, who suggested the influence of 
evil spirits ; he was despatched to the house where 
Joan was lodging, and sprinkling her with holy 
water, he adjured her to go away if she had had any 
commerce with the evil one. She was steadfast and 
persistent. "Before mid-Lent," she repeated in 
Baudricourt 's presence, "I must go to the king, 
though I wore out my legs to the knees. No one 
in the world, neither king, nor dukes, nor the 
daughter of the King of Scotland, can restore the 
kingdom of France but myself only ; though I should 
be far happier to stay and spin by my mother's side ; 
but I must go and I must act; my Lord wills it." 
"And who is your Lord?" She replied, "He 
is God." 



i6 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

A gentleman who heard her put his hand in hers, 
and promised, on his honour, he would lead her to 
the king. This was Jean de Metz, another name 
that deserves to be remembered. ''When shall I 
take you to the king? " he asked. Her reply is 
characteristic, "Better to-day than to-morrow.'* 
Baudricourt, in the meantime, had ^^ceived per- 
mission from the king that Joan should,set out, apd 
two men arrived from Charles to be her escort.. 
These two, with Jean de Metz and his friend Pou- 
lengy, formed her whole party, and the wonderful 
journey across France from east to west began. 
Jean de Metz gave her a suit of armour ; the towns- 
folk of Vancouleurs gave her a horse ; Baudricourt 
gave her a sword. She was eleven days on the 
journey. There were no roads and few bridges, and 
the country swarmed with robbers. The safe 
arrival of the maid with her little band at the king's 
castle at Chinon was almost a miracle. As she 
started from Vaucouleurs someone in the crowd 
called out to ask her if she were not afraid. Her 
reply was, ** I was born for this." These words were 
constantly on her lips, reminding us of Another who 
had spoken similar words before her. The two ends 
for which she felt she was born were the raising of 
the siege of Orleans, then for many months sorely 
beset by the English, and the crowning of Charles 
at Kheims. 

It needs an effort of the imagination on our part 



JOAN OF ARC. 17 

to realise the great importance attached by all 
France to the coronation and consecration of the 
monarch. To the French their king was no king 
until he had been anointed with the sacred oil, and 
had received the crown with imposing religious cere- 
monial. And in the case of Charles VII., not only 
had he never been crowned, but there were strong 
doubts of his legitimacy ; his own mother had put 
her hand to a document in which he had been 
spoken of as the " so-called Dauphin," and his 
rights to succeed to the throne had been set aside 
in a treaty signed by his mother and his reputed 
father at Troyes. 

At the moment of Joan's arrival Charles's politi- 
cal fortunes were at their lowest ebb. His capital, 
Paris, was held by the English, and was wholly 
English in sympathy. The whole of Normandy 
was also held by the- English, who claimed that their 
king, the child Henry VI., was the rightful King 
of France. Added to all these external sources of 
weakness there were still more serious internal ones ; 
chief of which was that Charles VII. ^ was a poor 
creature, more intent on amusing himself in the 
castles which he still held on the Loire than on 
regaining his kingdom or driving out the invader. 

To this King of shreds and patches, incapable 
of looking at serious things seriously, incapable of 
any sustained effort to take up the tasks and duties 

♦ Charles was the Dauphin depicted in Shakespeare's "Henry V," 
C 



i8 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

of his station, and with no real faith in himself, 
came Joan, the maid, the simple peasant girl, pro- 
claiming that she was sent by her brothers in 
heaven to make him a King indeed and drive the 
invaders out of France. 

The scene of her reception by Charles at the 
castle of Chinon is well known. She was kept 
waiting two days before she was admitted to the 
audience chamber. When at last the time came 
for the JCing 4o i^eoeive-iier, it ,"5[a3_Jiigbt, and the 
great hall was illuminated by the flaring light of 
fifty torches. Three hundred gorgeously dressed 
nobles were present with a great retinue. It seems 
to have been desired to dazzle the girl with all this 
splendour; or perhaps the crowd was brought 
together by a natural curiosity to see the supposed 
sorceress or prophetess. We are not told much of 
the mutual impression produced, but the astonish- 
ment cannot have been all on one side ; the sor- 
ceress was a beautiful girl of seventeen, tall and 
well formed, with a mellow, penetrating, womanly 
voice. Charles had sought to conceal his own 
identity by mingling with the crowd of nobles, 
but she- wen t st raight-to-him and threw herself on 
h^r_knees_aJLjii&_ieet_jaxi^^ " Gentle Dauphin, 
God give you good life." ** Eise," he said; ** it is 
not I who am the King." ** Gentle Prince," she 
insisted, "it is you and no other. T am Joan the 
Maid. The King of Heaven commands you, 



JOAN OF ABC. 19 

through me, to be crowned and consecrated at 
Eheims." The laughter of the courtiers was 
silenced, the mocking smile on the lips of the King 
faded, and he led her aside, where for a few 
moments they spoke to one another apart. What 
was said between them is not known. Joan at 
her trial refused to answer all questions on what 
she felt was the King's secret more than her own; 
but the inference is, and there is strong evidence 
in its support, that Joan answered the King's 
secret gnawing doubt of his own legitimacy, and 
that her first private words to him were, ** You 
are the true heir of France, the son of the King." 
From this moment Charles believed in her, and she 
also had on her side the Due d'Alen9on, and the 
King's wife, and her mother the Queen of Sicily. 
It will be a satisfaction to most women that all 
through Joan's brief two years of activity she 
always and everywhere won the women to her side. 
From queens and princesses to peasant children she 
won them, and they saw her as she was — a true 
woman, seeking not her own, but just to do the 
work she felt she had been sent to do. The Church, 
on the other hand, was mostly either neutral or 
hostile to her. It did not relish divine inspiration 
which had come through other channels than those 
which it had provided. Michelet has an amusing 
passage about the facility with which the learned 
doctors and theologians believed in bad spirits, 



20 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

compared with the difficulty they felt in giving 
credence to the inspiration of good spirits. They 
could not bring themselves to believe in angels ; 
but their faith in devils was as firm as a rock. 

Before despatching the maid on her mission to 
Orleans, Charles sent her to be cross-examined by 
the theologians of the University of Poitiers. She 
held her own with them, with the common-sense 
and mother wit which always distinguished her. 
They wanted her to give them some miraculous 
sign of her divine commission. She replied, " I 
have not come to Poitiers to give signs or to work 
miracles. My sign will be to raise the siege of 
Orleans. Let them give me men-at-arms, few or 
many, and I will go." One wiseacre said that if 
God had determined to deliver France there was 
no need for men-at-arms. "Ah," she cried, "the 
men must fight; it is God who gives the victory." 
They asked her a great many questions about the 
language in which her voices had spoken to her; 
she said it was French. " What sort of French? " 
asked a monk from Limoges with a very strong 
Limousin accent. "Better than yours," she re- 
joined. And when the learned professors turned 
for assistance to their books of theology, she said, 
"Listen! There is more in God's book than in 
yours. I do not know A from B, but I am sent 
from God to raise the siege of Orleans and to lead 
the Dauphin to be consecrated at Rheims." The 



JOAN OF ARC. 21 

court of inquiry began to believe in her. Orleans 
was crying out for help, and no other help seemed 
near. Even lawyers and men of the world began 
to say, **This child is sent from God." The 
doctors of the university reported in her favour. 
An archbishop who was consulted said that God 
had many times revealed to virgins what he had 
hidden from men, and he quoted the example of 
the Sybils. Moreover, the devil was held to be 
incapable of making a compact with a virgin. 
Thus even superstition for a time w^as favourable 
to her, and she was equipped and sent forth. 

It is necessary to say a few words about her 
adoption of a man's dress. She wore a man's suit 
of armour, and not even the entreaties of the good 
Queens, nor that of the women at Poitiers, could 
induce her to give it up. To ordinary inquirers 
she replied, what was obvious enough, that it was 
the only dress to ride and fight in; but at times 
she gave the more important reason that the 
armour was a real protection to her which she 
would never willingly relinquish as long as she had 
to live without the companionship of women in the 
midst of a wild and lawless soldiery. It seems that 
she must have satisfied the Queen of Sicily that 
it was right for her to wear a male dress, because 
the Queen presented her with a beautiful suit of 
white armour inlaid with silver. The two Queens, 
after close personal observation, were firmly con- 



22 FIVE FAMOUS FBENCH WOMEN, 

vinced of her innocence and purity. Another of 
the court party favourable to her was the Duke 
of Alen9on : ** le beau du6J' Joan often called him. 
He seems to have been a nandsome fellow and a 
brave soldier. He now joined the company of 
armed men who were to accompany Joan to 
Orleans — rather to his wife's dismay, for he had 
lately been a prisoner in England ; she had ran- 
somed him regardless of expense, and it was 
rather hard on her that this expensively purchased 
husband should risk himself again at once against 
the English, and with a no stronger party than 
that which Joan gathered about her. Joan pro- 
mised the Duchess to bring her husband back in 
safety to her, and she was as good as her w^ord. 
This duke is one of many soldiers who testified to 
Joan's inborn military genius ; he spoke particu- 
larly of her skill in managing artillery, and said 
she was a "gunner born." 

The court gave Joan a sort of " household," of 
which her brother Pierre was a member. A 
chaplain and an equerry were chosen for her from 
among the best men at court. Her sword was 
brought from Fierbois, where it was found by 
searching according to her directions in the ground 
behind the high altar in the Church of St. Cather- 
ine; the King gave her a scabbard of crimson 
velvet worked in gold. Her standard was of white 
linen fringed with silk and embroidered with a 



JOAN OF ARC. 23 

figure of the Saviour and the names * * Jesus ' ' and 
"Mary" at the foot. She afterwards said at her 
trial that she loved her standard forty times better 
than her sword; and, indeed, she declared when 
she set out, " I will never use my sword to kill any 
man." This feminine trait may provoke a smile — 
a soldier unwilling to kill ; but after all the duty 
of a leader is to lead, and it is said of one of the 
greatest commanders of our own time and nation 
that he never carried any weapon but a cane. One 
of her followers, the young knight Guy de Laval, 
wrote a description of her to his mother and grand- 
mother. It is this letter that said of her that she 
was a thing wholly divine, whether to see or to 
hear. To see her completely armed, with the ex- 
ception of her head, in her suit of white armour, 
mounted on a great black horse, her radiant young 
face shining with enthusiasm, her standard flutter- 
ing by her side, to hear her womanly voice giving 
the word to advance, and bidding the priests to offer 
prayers for her success, these things awakened the 
enthusiasm of the young knight to the highest 
pitch, and he poured himself out in the letter to his 
mother, still extant, from which I have quoted. 
He desired his mother, who had charge of his seal, 
to spare not his lands, neither in sale nor mortgage, 
so that he might render help to the utmost extent 
of his power to the necessities of his country. 
But it must not be supposed that all the knights 



24 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

and squires gave her an equally generous recogni- 
tion. There had been a strong party against her 
from the first, both in the court and in the camp, 
and at every step of her way she had to fight 
against intrigue and treachery. One knight ex- 
claimed furiously that he v^ould not serve under 
such a leader. *' What," he cried, "is the advice 
of a hussy from the fields to be taken before that of 
a knight or captain ! I will fold up my banner and 
become again a simple soldier ; I would rather have 
a nobleman for my master than a woman whom 
nobody knows." And there were always a number 
of men on her own side who felt like this, and 
who cheated and thwarted her whenever they were 
able. It was very much the same sort of thing 
that one sees now ; the really great men were mag- 
nanimous, and w^elcomed her; but the little men, 
who were not quite sure perhaps of their own 
powers, or assured of maintaining their own posi- 
tion, were jealous and envious. 

I shall not attempt to describe Joan's achieve- 
ment in raising the siege of Orleans from the mili- 
tary point of view, for the excellent reason that I 
know nothing of military tactics. It must suffice 
me to say that Joan found Orleans weakened by 
disunion among its defenders; the citizens had 
fought bravely and had made great sacrifices ; but 
unity of action was needed, and the commander, 
Dunois, brave soldier as he was, was not able to 



JOAN OF AUG. 25 

create it. Joan entered Orleans on April 29th, 
1429. The city received her as if they had seen 
God descending among them. The crowd thronged 
round her, contented if they might but touch her 
horse. Joan gave them the unity of purpose and 
faith in their cause v^hich they so much needed ; 
her coming also spread dismay among the English. 
One of these, Glasdale, loaded her with vile epi- 
thets. His insults wounded her bitterly, and she 
could not restrain her tears. A day or two 
later, in the midst of the great fight in which the 
English were finally defeated, she saw this man 
die. " Classidas, Classidas," she cried, "you have 
called me vile names, but 1 have great pity for 
your soul." "Great pity" was never very far 
from her, and she could feel it for an enemy as 
well as for an ally. On one occasion she saw a 
French soldier ill-using a wounded and dying 
Englishman. Her indignation was intense. She 
leapt from her horse, rescued the unhappy man, 
supported his head in her arms, sent for a priest, 
and made the soldier's dying hours as tranquil at 
least as gentleness and mercy could make them. 

But with all her gentleness she could be strong 
as steel. She insisted on her own plan of carrying 
on the attack upon the English, and told Dunois 
that if he attempted any attack without her know- 
ledge she would have his head cut off. After a 
slight advantage, the captains wanted to desist 



26 FIVjE famous FRENCH WOMEN. 

from following it up, and held their council of war 
without her. '* You have held your council," she 
said, "and I have had mine." And she ordered 
the renewal of the attack at break of day. The 
result was a victory. Everywhere her standard" 
was seen foremost in the fight. She was wounded ; 
an arrow pierced her breast and stood out a hand- 
breadth behind her shoulder. She cried from the 
pain, but plucked the arrow out with her own 
hands ; would not hear of having the wound 
charmed. She staunched it with an oil compress, 
and though at first she thought she was going to 
die, and made her confession to her chaplain, she 
soon scrambled on her horse again and led the fight 
once more — this time to complete victory. The 
English were routed, and Orleans was saved. 
After a siege of seven months Joan of Arc saved 
the town in eight days, and justly does her name 
live in history as that of the Maid of Orleans. 

One incident of the fight must not be forgotten. 
We have the right to hope it is true, though there is 
some conflict of evidence about it. When , the 
arrow struck Joan in the breast and she fell, the 
man nearest to her was the captaiit who was so 
indignant that * * a hussy from the fields ' ' should be 
preferred to knights and captains. He raised her 
from the ground and cleared space for her in the 
crowd. ** Take my horse," he said, ** brave crea- 
ture. Bear no malice. I confess that I was in the 



JOAN OF ARC. 27 

wrong." "It is I that should be wrong if I bore 
malice," replied Joan, **for never w^as knight so 
courteous." 

The evidence as to Joan's military instinct and 
her marvellous courage in leadmg the charge after 
so ^eripu§_a JKaund. js of undoubted authenticity. 
The Duke of Alen9on, who was present, stated that 
"she was^most expert ia war botL with, the lance 
and in massing an army, and arraying battle, and 
in the management of artillery. For all men mar- 
velled how far-sighted and prudent she was in 
war, as if she had been a captain of thirty years' 
standing." 

After the great victory at Orleans, the right 
thing, both from the military and political point of 
view, would have been to press on at once without 
delay to Kheims for the coronation of the King ; but 
Joan was the only one among the crowd of soldiers 
and politicians to urge this sensible advice. Charles 
was indolent and indifferent, and the ministers and 
captains about him each seemed to have his own 
private end in view, whereas Joan thought only of 
the cause to which her life was devoted. Orleans 
was delivered on May 8th, and it was not till more 
than two months after this, July 15th, that Charles 
entered Kheims to be crowned. In these two 
months, between Orleans and Eheims, there was 
what may be described as a " fine deal of confused 
fighting." Auxerrc, a Burgundian stronghold, was 



28 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

passed, sorely against Joan's wishes, without at- 
tacking it ; but Troyes, where the treaty disinherit- 
ing Charles had been signed, was attacked and 
taken. When they came near Chalons, and Joan 
was approaching her own part of the country, a 
party of peasants from Domremy came out to meet 
her. They asked her if she were not afraid. She 
repHed, "I fear nothing but treason." And 
through these tedious two months Joan was con- 
stantly urging a bold advance, and the King's 
council was as constantly preventing it. She de- 
scribed what she felt during this conflict. She said, 
" When I am vexed, and find myself disbelieved 
in the things I say from God, I retire by myself 
and pray to God. . . . And when I have 
prayed I hear a voice which says, * Daughter of 
God, go, go, go. I will help thee ; go ! ' And when 
I hear that voice I feel a great joy." Her face 
shone as she spoke. The maid was very con- 
scious that she was surrounded by enemies and 
traitors within her own party. Even after the 
great victory at Orleans and other smaller triumphs 
in which she had shown personal courage and mili- 
tary capacity of the highest order, all that the 
Church in its official capacity had to say of her was, 
** Give God the praise, but we know that this 
woman is a sinner." And all this was because Joan, 
though a devout Catholic, sought inspiration and 
guidance elsewhere than through the channels laid 



\ 




RHEIMS CATHEDRAL 

from a l'hctoi;-ro/>h by Neiirdein Freres Pai 



JOAN OF ARC. 29 

down by the Church. It was the old story: the 
priests are mostly against the prophets. It must 
not, however, be forgotten that there were some 
Churchmen who regarded her in a more generous 
spirit. Gerson, one of the most famous theologians 
of his time, to whom some authorities ascribe the 
famous treatise on the ** Imitation of Christ," 
recognised Joan's true self-devotion and nobility of 
aim. He is reported to have said of her: "If 
France desert her and she fail, she is none the less 
inspired." This Gerson devoted his learning to the 
education of youth, and would accept no fee from 
his scholars, only taking a promise from them to 
repeat daily the prayer, " Lord have mercy on thy 
poor servant Gerson." It is a satisfaction in the 
dark and gloomy records of the time to come across 
this beautiful nature, and to learn that he recog- 
nised in Joan a kindred spirit. 

Charles VII. entered Kheims on July 15th, 
1429, and was crowned in the cathedral with all the 
gorgeous traditional ceremonial on the 17th. The 
Archbishop of Eheims, no less than the King, had 
up to this time been shut out of his cathedral city. 
They both entered it now in the train of the maid. 
Thus, in less than five months from her first setting 
forth from Vaucouleurs she had accomplished her 
mission — she had relieved Orleans, driven the 
English back to their strongholds in Normandy, 
and had set the royal crown of France on the head 



30 FIVE FAMOUS FBENCH WOMEN. 

of the King. Thus far her progress had been a 
series of victories. Her unparalleled triumphs had 
not spoiled her; she remained all through them in 
her simplicity sublime. The adoration of the 
crowd, the society of the great, the jealousy of 
courtiers, the intrigues of politicians, were alike 
powerless to deteriorate her. She had within her 
the pure fire of self-devotion to a noble cause which 
enabled her to keep herself unspotted from the 
world. Her triumphs had not corrupted her; but 
henceforth, after the crowning of the King, she 
was destined to be tried by the fires of adversity. 
At Eheims she experienced the highest culmination 
of her hopes. Her mission was accomplished, and 
she had besides the private and personal joy of 
meeting her father once more and being reconciled 
to him. He who had loaded her with curses and 
threats now came to Eheims to fold her in his arms 
and to forgive her for being great. But she seems 
to have had a presentiment of her approaching end, 
though not the manner of it. Above any place she 
had ever seen she loved Eheims, and expressed a 
wish that she might be buried there. The arch- 
bishop tried to draw from her a prophecy as to the 
time and place of her death ; but she answered 
simply that of this she knew nothing, only that it 
would be w^hen and where it pleased God. ** I 
w^ould that it might please Him," she added, "to 
let me go away and keep sheep with my sister and 




JOHN, DUKE OF BEDFORD, REGENT OF FRANCE. 



From an Engraving by George Vertue, after a 
Drawing in a Richly Illuminated Prayer-Book 
Presented by the Regent to '4Hte»RY VI. 



JOAN OF ARC, 3T 

my brothers. . . . They would be so glad to 
see me again. ... I have accomplished what 
our Lord commanded me to do." As she said this 
she hfted her eyes to heaven, and the people round 
her, says the old chronicle, saw her face as if it 
had been the face of an angel. 

Her advice and strong wish now was to strike 
a blow at once for Paris. The English w^ere 
discouraged, and were, besides, in the greatest 
straits for money. " Chill penury repressed their 
noble rage." The Parliament assembled in Paris 
had to be dismissed because there were no funds 
to meet necessary expenses. The young King, 
Henry VI., had been brought to Paris, but there 
w^as no royal proclamation of the event because of 
the lack of parchment. The registrars, or keepers 
of the records, had for some time provided parch- 
ment at their own expense, but now they struck, 
and would do so no more. The low-water mark of 
national finance was never more picturesquely 
indicated. The Regent Bedford, brother of 
Henry V., had but one resource — to apply for help 
to his rich uncle, Henry Beaufort, Cardinal and 
Bishop of Winchester, one of the illegitimate sons 
of eTohn of Gaunt. The help applied for was given, 
but not without an equivalent. Cardinal Beaufort 
was not a man to give anything for nothing ; if he 
consented to finance the English occupation of 
France it was under the condition that he con- 



32 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

trolled it. Henceforth, therefore, tfee English 
policy in France was less military than ecclesias- 
tical. This was a point that told very strongly 
against Joan. When she was taken she was not 
treated as a prisoner of war, or as a general fight- 
ing at the head of her troops, but as a heretic to 
be handed over to the tender mercies of an eccle- 
siastical court. Joan herself, after the crowning of 
Charles at Eheims, felt that her enemies were 
closing in about her. She said more than once that 
her King must make all the good use of her he 
could, for that she would not last for more than 
a year. 

It was just ten months from the day, July 
25th, 1429, when she rode out triumphant from 
Eheims, to May 23rd, 1430, when she was taken 
prisoner. In these ten months that were left her 
she did much. Many cities submitted at once 
to Charles, and the French army pressed on 
towards Paris. Meanwhile Charles made a secret 
treaty with the Duke of Burgundy which effect- 
ually crippled the progress of his army without 
securing any compensating advantage. Thus the 
French troops were led by Joan to the very walls 
of Paris, and a great fight took place outside the 
St. Honor^ Gate (where the equestrian statue of 
the maid now stands, near the Theatre Fran^ais), in 
which Joan, though desperately wounded, secured 
a decided advantage. The next day, in spite of her 




JOAN OF ARC. 

From the Statue by Barrias, at Bonsecours. 
Fi-om a Photograph by Nenrdeiti Freirs, Paris. 



JOAN OF ARC. 33 

wound, she was first in the field, and was making 
all preparations for a renewal of the attack, when 
orders came from the King for the withdrawal 
of the army. To make assurance doubly sure, 
this wretched King had the bridge broken down, 
which the Duke of Alen9on had made, and by 
which the Maid with her forces would have ap- 
proached Paris for a renewal of the fight. This 
was an almost heartbreaking blow to Joan. We are 
told by the chronicler that she was in great grief. 
She took off her armour and laid it on the altar in 
the church at St. Denis. This armour was after- 
wards brought to England, but there is no record 
of what became of it there. The ecclesiastical spirit 
of Joan's enemies from this date is shown by the 
fact that they made a special attack upon her be- 
cause she had ordered the assault on Paris to take 
place on September 8th, the day of the nativity of 
the Virgin. The soldiers' comment would have 
been, " The better the day the better the deed " ; 
but to one party at any rate in the Church this 
* ' creature in the form of a woman ' ' proved her 
demoniac possession most surely by undertaking 
feats of arms on a day specially set aside by the 
Church for other uses. 

Joan was right when she told her peasant 
friends that what she most feared was treachery. 
She might have prevailed against an open foe, but 
her worst enemies were of her own party. She 



34 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 

went away with the King and court from St. 
Denis to the Loire, and afterwards to Com- 
pi^gne and other places. The months which 
followed were the most miserable of the active 
period of her life. The King seemed to be throwing 
away all the advantages she had gained for him. 
In vain the court tried to satisfy her by tributes to 
her vanity. She was set up with an establishment 
of her own, a patent of nobility was conferred on 
her family, she was loaded with all kinds of finery. 
The King and court wished her henceforth to be 
nothing but a plaything or ornament for them- 
selves; but she was eating her heart out. Like 
other fashionable people, the French courtiers 
wished for variety in their amusements. Joan had 
interested them a good deal for nearly a year, and 
they began to want something new. They set up 
a rival prophetess, one Catherine de la Rochelle. 
She heard "voices" too, but her voices always 
contradicted the voices which spoke to Joan. 

" Tired of all these, for restful death I cry," one 
can imagine her saying, and we can picture her 
weariness of inactivity. At last, when the court was 
at Sully, she broke away from it all and left secretly, 
accompanied only by her two brothers and a few 
faithful friends. As far as we know she never saw 
Charles again. She joined the army and showed 
her old courage, and had many almost miraculous 
victories; but her former unbroken success did not 



JOAN OF ARC, 35 

follow her; she began to know the meaning of the 
word failure. April came, and she took part in the 
defeat of the English at Melun. There she " heard 
her voices almost every day, and many a time they 
told her she would presently be taken prisoner." 
She prayed that she might die ; but her voices gave 
her no promise, but only told her to bear graciously 
whatever befell her. Her courage was unshaken 
by her impending doom, and she set out to take 
part in the relief of Compiegne, then invested by 
the Burgundians. She rode all night at the head 
of her party, and arrived at Compiegne very early 
in the morning on May 23rd. She spent one day in 
arranging the sortie which took place that evening. 
The governor of the town is believed by some to 
have betrayed and sold her; but although some of 
the circumstances are suspicious, actual treachery 
is not proved. Certain it is, however, that after a 
fight, in which she showed even more than her 
usual capacity and courage, she was close pressed by 
the enemy, who had been reinforced by the English, 
and her retreat back into Compiegne was cut off 
by the gates of the town being closed against her; 
thus she was caught in a trap, the enemy pressing 
on behind her, and the closed gates of the town in 
front. A hundred men drove her into a corner; a 
dozen hands seized her bridle ; scores of voices cried, 
"Yield! Yield! Give your faith to me." Joan 
replied, "I have given my faith to Another, and I 



36 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

will keep my oath." She was dragged from her 
horse. She neither struggled nor wept. She knew 
that her hour had come. Gladly would we forget, 
if we could, what followed. It was the age of 
chivalry, when every noble knight dedicated his 
sword to the defence of maidens in distress. But 
chivalry too often seems to be one of those tiresome 
things that has a way of not being there when it is 
wanted. There is plenty of it where it is superfluous, 
but it too often fails to be on the spot when the need 
is greatest. No reasonable person can complain 
that her enemies triumphed over her capture. She 
had become a soldier, and was bound to take the 
fortunes of war as they came. But the King to 
whom she had given his crown, the nobles and cap- 
tains by whose side she had fought, made no effort 
to rescue or to ransom her; Compiegne made no^ 
sally for her recovery ; from one end of France to 
the other no finger was raised to help her. 

In the early morning of the day in which she 
was taken she had attended church in Compiegne. 
As she stood leaning against a pillar, a great 
many children had gathered round her, and a 
longing for sympathy moved her to speak to 
them. "Dear friends and children," she said, 
* ' I have to tell you that a man has sold and be- 
trayed me, and I shall soon be given up to death. 
I beg of you to pray for me, for soon I shall no 
longer have any power to serve the King and 



JOAN OF ARC. 37 

the fair realm of France." Now the impend- 
ing catastrophe had come upon her. She was in 
the hands of her enemies, and was forsaken and 
neglected by her friends. The Archbishop of 
Eheims, to whom she had restored his cathedral 
city, wrote a letter in which he proved to his own 
entire satisfaction that the capture of Joan was 
wholly her own fault. The only thing that was 
done for her was that in the cities of Orleans, Tours, 
and Blois public prayers were offered for her. They 
should have remembered what Joan had taught 
them when she said, " Men must fight, and God 
will give the victory." So much for her friends. 
As for her enemies and their treatment of her in her 
captivity, the English and French must share the 
responsibility ; and of this the heaviest portion falls 
upon the Church and Churchmen. The University 
of Paris, within a day of the news of her capture, 
claimed her as its lawful prey. But she was a 
valuable asset, and her possessors did not lightly 
relinquish her. She was passed from castle to castle 
and from prison to prison. At first she was not ill- 
used, receiving honourable treatment as a prisoner 
of war. Noble ladies, relatives of her captors, 
visited her, and, like all the rest of the women, 
became conscious of her goodness and purity. She 
never consented to give any promise not to attempt 
to escape, and at Beaurevoir she flung herself off the ^ 
battlements, a height of sixty feet, and was nearly 



38 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

killed. Till December, 1430, she was in the hands 
of the Burgundians; then the English bought her, 
and conveyed her in January to Kouen. This is 
where the worst part of our shame comes in. Not 
that we bought her; it was worse, perhaps, to sell 
than to buy such merchandise ; but her outrageous 
treatment in prison is a blot which not even cen- * 
turies can wholly wipe out. She was confined in 
a wretched dungeon — some authorities say in an 
iron cage — she was watched incessantly night and 
day by English soldiers who were in her room, five 
by day and three by night. She was chained, and 
she was never allowed one moment in privacy. The 
bare fact speaks for itself. The English, more- 
over, handed her over to the ecclesiastical court with 
the Bishop of Beauvais at its head. This court con- 
sisted of the most eminent French ecclesiastics and 
university professors of the time; there were only 
two Englishmen among them. From January to 
May they behaved to the unfortunate girl in their 
power with indescribable ferocity and cruelty. I 
have already spoken of the extraordinary skill she 
displayed in mere word fence with them ; how she 
avoided the traps they set for her and held firmly 
to her conviction that her voices were sent from 
God. She told them from the first that there were 
certain things she would never answer. About her- 
self and her own conduct she would tell everything ; 
but she would never betray secrets which pertained 




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JOAN OF ARC. 39 

to the King and the kingdom : if they forced her 
to speak on these, she frankly said she would not tell 
the truth. 

For hours together they questioned and cross- 
questioned her about her wearing a man's dress. 
The least grain of common sense would have made 
it obvious why she wore it — alone in prison with 
ruffianly men. She said if they would let her be 
with women she would wear a woman's dress. 
When cross-examination in public began to turn 
public feeling in her favour, the public trial was dis- 
continued, and she was cross-examined in her cell 
by a selected band of her judges in private. Her 
stedfastness was just as unshaken as it had been in 
the public court. Her voices told her to answer 
boldly. Then her judges conducted her to the 
torture chamber and tried to intimidate her by the 
sight of all the instruments of torture; they voted 
on the question whether she should be tortured or 
not; but even these men had some humanity, for 
of the thirteen only three voted for torture. 
Threatened with the stake, she replied, " I can say 
nothing else to you ; if I saw the fire before me I 
should only say what I have said, and could do 
nothing else." This is one of the answers against 
which the notary has entered on the margin, " proud 
reply." Attempts were made to sully her reputa- 
tion, but without avail. In reply to questions she 
said she was sure of being saved and not damned, 



40 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

and that she believed this as firmly as if she were 
in Paradise already. When it was said to her that 
this answer was of great weight, she replied that 
she herself held it as a great treasure. She was 
repeatedly asked if she would submit to the Church, 
and replied, ** Yes, Our Lord being served first." 
In one of her answers she referred to the Pope, and 
was immediately asked which she held to be the true 
Pope? She answered, ** Are there two? " 

Two or three men in Kouen befriended her, one 
Lohier, a lawyer, who protested that her trial was 
not legal. He also made the suggestion to her that if 
she replied, " It seems to me," instead of " I know 
for certain," no man could condemn her. His pro- 
tests as to the illegality of the trial, in which all the 
usual forms for the protection of the accused had 
been disregarded, were made direct to the Bishop of 
Beauvais himself, and might very probably have 
had important practical results in Joan's favour, 
if Lohier' s courage had had more staying power; 
but having made his protest and delivered his con- 
science, he fled to Eome to secure his own safety; 
the Pope immediately gave him an important legal 
appointment, and he ended his days as Dean of the 
Kota. Manchon, the notary, dared something for 
Joan. Her judges introduced a sham priest, a false 
confessor, into her cell, hoping she would reveal to 
him what she had concealed from them. Manchon 
declined to act as notary on this occasion, or to 




FIFTEENTH CENTURY HOUSE IN RUE SAINT 
ROMAIN, ROUEN, WHERE JOAN OF ARC IS 
SAID TO HAVE BEEN LODGED 



From a /'hoto,^raJ>h l>y Neiirdein Frires, Paris. 



JOAN OF ARC, 4T 

have anything to do with this piece of treachery. 
Massieu, the usher of the court, showed some 
gentleness to her, but her best friend of all, one 
who remained with her to the last, was a priest, 
Brother Isambard. He placed himself near her 
at the trial, and made suggestions likely to help her. 
It must be remembered she was allowed no lawyer 
to conduct her case for her. Isambard advised 
her to appeal to the council then sitting at Bale. 
She had to ask, " What is this council at Bale? " 
and he explained that it represented the whole 
Catholic Church. So that when Joan was next 
asked if she would submit to the Church , she replied 
she would willingly submit to the council of Bale. 
The Bishop of Beauvais, the president of the court, 
was in a fury, and called out, ''Silence, in the 
devil's name." He then ordered the notary not to 
put down what Joan had said. Joan cried, ** You 
write what is against me, but you will not write 
what is for me." Isambard placed himself in great 
peril by the friendship he showed her. The English 
threatened to throw him into the Seine. But a 
member of the court, one Lemaitre, fiercely 
warned the authorities he would have no harm come 
to this good priest. 

The Bishop of Beauvais, president of the court 
and Joan's most inveterate enemy among her 
judges, was a creature of Cardinal Beaufort's. 
Beaufort had recommended him to, the Pope to be 



42 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

Archbishop of Rouen ; but Rouen had refused to 
ratify the nomination, and the appointment re- 
mained in suspense. This gives the key to the 
bishop's eagerness to be the submissive slave of 
Cardinal Beaufort, and to please that party in 
the Church which condemned Joan as a sorceress. 
It was the bishop who negotiated the sale of 
Joan from Jean de Ligny, her first captor, for 
10,000 francs; he was in constant communication 
with Warwick, then in command of the English 
forces at Rouen. But he seems so far to have 
misunderstood the English point of view as to 
have thought that all they wanted was Joan's 
death ; so in his eagerness to oblige he sent her 
a dish of poisoned fish on Easter Sunday. She 
nearly died, but her robust constitution and the 
prompt measures ordered by Warwick for her re- 
covery pulled her through. Warwick was ex- 
tremely angry and said, *' The King " (meaning, of 
course, his king, Henry VI., a little boy of nine 
years old) " would not for the world have her die 
a natural death. The King had bought her, and 
she had cost him dear." He was determined to 
have his money's worth. This was, that she might 
be publicly declared a witch and perish at the stake. 
It was only in this way that the crowning of Charles 
at Rheims could be discredited, and the crowning 
of the young king, Henry, in Paris, which had taken 
place the previous December, could pass current as 



JOAN OF ARC. 43 

a valid ceremonial. They required a retractation 
from Joan which would reduce the first coronation 
to a pantomime and raise the second to the pinnacle 
of highest national significance. 

Throughout the year of Joan's imprisonment this 
was the darkest time. She began to be tortured by 
secret doubts. Had her voices deceived her? Her 
strength for a time seems to forsake her. She was 
weakened, no doubt, by her long imprisonment, by 
the constant strain of her cross-examination, and by 
the vigilance ceaselessly required for the protection 
of her honour. The poisoning, which just fell short 
of killing her, had doubtless its share in the physical 
and spiritual depression to which, for a time, she 
succumbed. She was taken b^her- prosecutors to 
the market place at Eouen, and there set up on a* 
platfQrni_jyilli_^-jaea^ view of the stake all sur- 
rounded by faggots made ready for a victim. With 
this terrific object lesson in front of her, she was 
preach ed^t, cross-examined, and questioned again. 
A paper was put into her hand, and she was told she 
had only to make her mark to save herself from the 
flames. The people in the crowd called out, ** Joan, 
why will you die? Will you not save yourself? " 
Once she called out, "All I did was done for good, 
and it was well to do it." But at last she made a 
round on one end of the paper which had been 
given to her. She was told that would not do ; she 
must make a cross ; and then sl^jnade a cross. The 



44 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

notary writes in the Latin chronicle^ " At the end 
of the sentence Joan, fearing the fire, said she 
would obey the Church." There was some cheating 
practised on her about this retractation, because the 
paper which was read to her, and to which she made 
her mark, consisted of only two or three lines, 
whereas the paper finally produced was a long docu- 
ment of several pages. On her signing the retrac- 
tation the sentence of the court of lifelong imprison- 
ment was passed upon her. Her judges had scored 
their first triumph ; they had urged submission 
on this unlettered peasant from February till May 
without success; but at last imprisonment, chains, 
poison, overstrain of every kind, had done their 
work ; the rebellious child had submitted ; but 
this in itself put the court in a difficulty. For 
months they had been saying " Submit or be 
burnt " ; now she had submitted, and they wanted 
to burn her all the same. The difficulty did not 
prove insuperable. One of the promises made to 
Joan on condition of her signing the retractation 
was that she should be removed from the English 
military prison and placed in a prison belonging to 
the Church. She ardently desired this, and was 
bitterly disappointed when the promise was broken. 
Enormous importance had been given by her 
judges throughout the trial to her wearing a man's 
dress, and it was an absolute condition of her 
escaping death by fire that she should resume a 



JOAN OF ARC. 45 

woman's dress. She therefore found herself in her 
old prison once more without the protection of her 
man's dress. A rulBfianly attempt was made upon 
her by, I grieve to say, an Englishman, and 
when foiled of his design he had covered her with 
blows. The next day was Sunday, Trinity Sunday, 
May 28th, 1431. It was time for her to rise from 
her bed, to which she was chained. She asked her 
guards to unchain her so that she could rise ; they 
did so, and took away her woman's dress, and at the 
same time threw down the contents of the bag 
which contained the male costume. She besought 
them for hours to give her back the woman's dress, 
but in vain. At last she rose and once more put on 
the forbidden dress. It sealed her fate, and relieved 
her judges of all embarrassment; she became by 
this act "a relapsed heretic." The bishop was 
heard laughing to Warwick, ** Be of good cheer, the 
thing is done." No time was lost. The next Wed- 
nesday, May 31st, she was taken to the market place 
again. The stake and the faggots were there once 
more. Once more she was preached at. Once 
more she and the Bishop of Beauvais met face to 
face. ** Bishop, "-she said," it is by you I die." 
He heaped all manner of vile names on her head. 
But Massieu, the usher, was kindly and gentle to 
her. It is said that the sham priest, the spy, rushed 
forward to ask her forgiveness, and would have been 
killed by the English had not Warwick protected 



46 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

him. Brother Isambard did not leave her. Once 
she cried, " St. Michael, St. Michael, help ! " But 
no help came. Before she ascended the lofty pile 
where the stake was fixed she asked for a cross. An 
English -soldier made a rough cross with a stick 
which he broke on his knee, binding the pieces 
hurriedly together. She clasped it to her breast. 
Then Brother Isambard and Massieu, the usher, 
sent for a cross on a large staff from one of the 
churches, and the good priest, climbing on the fag- 
gots, held it in front of the martyr, uttering such 
words as he could of encouragement and help. He 
stood there so long that there was fear that the fire 
would catch his robes, and Joan herself begged him 
to leave her. The victim was bound ; the torch was 
lighted, and lurid flames and black smoke sprang 
into the air. Twice a cry was heard from the midst 
of the fire. Once it said, " My voices were of God ; 
they have jioideceivedjxLe," The second cry was 
just the name of Jesus twice repeated. Then the 
noblest and most heroic heart that France has ever 
owned ceased to beat, and there was no further 
sound except the weeping of the crowd. 

One wonders how people could live through such 
events. A more than usually deep impression seems 
to have been made even on her enemies by the 
death of the maid. An Englishman who hated her 
with fanatic fierceness, and had sworn to add a 
faggot to the flames, approached the pile to do so, 



JOAN OF ARC. '47 

but fled in terror back to his companions to say he 
had seen a pure white dove issue from the smoke. 4 
Almost fainting, he was led by his comrades to 
the nearest tavern — "a lifelike touch," says Mrs. 
Oliphant, " in which we recognise our countrymen." 
Another Englishman left the scene of execution 
muttering, ' * Wje^are^lost ; we have murdered a V 

'1; 

saint." The executioner sought out Brother Isam- 
bard and confessed to him in an anguish of remorse, 
fearing he could never be forgiven for what he had 
done. One of the canons of Kouen, standing sob- 
bing in the crowd, said to another canon, " Would 
that my soul were in the same place where the soul 
of that woman is at this moment." The notary or 
reporter, to whom reference has more than once 
been made, the same who wrote ** proud reply " on 
the margin of his manuscript, says that he never 
wept so much for anything which had ever hap- 
pened, and that for a whole month he could not 
recover his calm. This man had been almost daily 
in Joan's presence, taking down her words from Feb- 
ruary to May. He spent part of the payment he 
had received for taking the notes of her trial in 
buying a missal in order that he might have a per- 
petual reminder to pray for her. 

One word more about the responsibility of the 
French and English nations for her death. There 
should be no shirking the truth that both were re- 
sponsible. The English were in military possession 



48 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

^ of Kouen and of the whole of Normandy; they 
bought her of her Burgundian captor, who, on the 
whole, had treated her well as long as he had 
charge of her. The English treated her with 
brutality from the time they became possessed 
of her, and no doubt insisted on her death by 
fire. But they found eager and willing instru- 
ments among Frenchmen, especially among the 
chief French ecclesiastics and the professors of 
the University of Paris. While almost the worst 
of all was the desertion and utter neglect of Joan 
after her capture by the King whom she had 
restored to the throne, and the whole of his party 
which she had raised from utter defeat and demoral- 
isation to a position which led ultimately to the 
recovery of everything which they had lost. As the 
Komans and the Jews were jointly responsible for 
the death of Our Lord, so the English and the 
French are jointly responsible for the death of the 
Maid of Orleans. As between the French and 
English we have been more frank in confessing our 
fault, while they have shown a natural, but not very 
generous, wish to magnify our share in the bad 
business, and to minimise their own. One very 
bitter drop in our cup of humiliation is that Shak- 
speare, who wrote so nobly of women, wrote un- 
worthily of Joan of Arc. This is so painful that we 
snatch eagerly at any evidence that the first part of 
Henry VI. was not written by Shakespeare at all — 



JOAN OF ARC. 49 

so eagerly that we doubt our own trustworthiness to 
decide the point, and feel that the evidence ought to 
be weighed by a less biassed jury. But if we hang 
our heads when the names of Shakespeare and of 
Joan of Arc are mentioned together, what must be 
the feelings of the French when they think of Vol- 
taire? Voltaire occupied thirty-two years of his life, 
from the age of thirty-six to that of sixty-eight, 
writing, re-writing, polishing and repolishing a 
poem, the whole object of which appears to be to 
vilify the memory of a pure girl of nineteen who had 
laid down her life for her country. Mr. John Morley 
says not only that the poem abounds in immodesty 
and that its whole action is centred in indecency, 
but that it fastens this gross chaplet round the 
memory of the great deliverer of the poet's own 
country. It thus sins against patriotism as much 
as it sins against the heroic dead and against 
decency. 

Neither France nor England has any cause for 
national satisfaction in the thought that they were 
specially favoured by the revelation of Joan of Arc, 
and that they betrayed and murdered her while she 
lived, and that their greatest writers grossly vilified 
her after she was dead. 

Not as French or English, but as men and 
women, we may be proud of her, and thankful for 
her. In the greatest natures of all is to be found 
the union of the man and of the woman, strength 



50 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

and tenderness. It was this union to an almost 
miraculous degree that was the special wonder of 
Joan of Arc. That our poor human nature can rise 
now and then to such sublime heights makes a halo 
of glory for the whole race, and can give us thoughts 
that do often lie too deep for tears. 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER 
DAUGHTER. 



S3 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER 
DAUGHTER, 

MARGARET OF ANGOULI&ME, DUCHESS OF ALENgON 
AND QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 

THE CHILDREN AND THEIR MOTHER. 

Louise of Savoy, Duchess of Angoul^me, with 
her daughter Margaret and her son Francis, form 
the most romantic group in French history. These 
three were so completely three in one that they 
spoke of themselves as '' ndtre trinite,*' Francis 
was worshipped and adored by the other two ; they 
looked at life wholly through his interests. He was 
more than son, brother, and sovereign to them; he 
was their god almost. Eight and wrong lost their 
meaning where his commands or his interests stood 
in the way. 

Louise, at the outset of her career, is a pathetic 
little figure. Left an orphan in early infancy, she 
was brought up by her aunt, Anne of Beaujeu, the 
masterful sister and guardian of Charles VIII. 
Her aunt lost no time in making matrimonial 
arrangements for her, and when Louise was two 
years old betrothed her to Charles, Count of Angou- 
leme, twenty years older than the baby bride. He 



54 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

tried later to get out of the engagement. He had 
been banished from court for having taken part in 
the rebeUion in Brittany ; but Anne held him to 
his promise, and the wedding took place in 1491, 
when Louise was fifteen years old. She was ac- 
complished, brilliant, handsome, ambitious, and 
wholly without principle. She is the Lady Mac - 
beth of the story. But her ambition was concen- 
trated on her son, and not at all on her husband, 
a heavy, stupid man, who died after five years of 
marriage. His chief title to the esteem of Louise 
lay in the fact that he was pere du roy mon fils. 

The two children of the Count of Angouleme 
and Louise were iMargaret, born in 1492, and 
Francis, born in 1494. From the first Louise set 
her whole heart, mind, and soul on Francis becom- 
ing king of France. It is an extraordinary story, 
as wonderful as any romance. Her son was at the 
date of his birth far removed from the succession. 
Charles VIII. was alive, was a young man of 
twenty-four, married to a young wife, and had had 
children ; even if the direct line were all swept 
away the next heir was Louis of Orleans; he, it is 
true, was childless after many years of marriage; 
but Charles VIII.'s possible sons and Louis of 
Orleans stood between the baby Francis and the 
throne. Nevertheless, to Louise her baby boy was 
the future king of France. It is said that his 
elevation to the throne had been foretold to his 



f 


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pISR^KV 


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; . • ■ '•'■3 ..,-..,».*l..., ... ■'. - ■ 



.THE DAUPHIN, CHARLES ORLANT 
SON OF CHARLES VIII. 

From the Painting by Bourdichon 



LOUISE OF SAVOT AND HER DAUGHTER. 55 

mother by astrologers and others, among whom St. 

Francis de Paule has been mentioned. Certainly 

she kept it in view as the main object of her life 

until it was actually accomplished. 

" Angouleme thou art, and Valois ; and shalt be 
What thou art promised " 

she might have said if she had had the opportunity 
of reading "Macbeth." 

A son had been born to Charles VIII. and Anne 
of Brittany in 1492. He died at Amboise on 
December 6th, 1495, aged three years and fifty- 
eight days. The restless exultation of Louise on 
the death of her son's rival may be guessed from 
the fact that she and her husband immediately set 
out from Cognac to visit the Duke of Orleans at 
Blois to congratulate him on the death of his 
little nephew, thus recovering his position as heir 
presumptive. At the court at Amboise, to which 
he had been summoned to console the King and 
Queen for the death of their son, Louis of Orleans 
had been unable to conceal the profound delight 
which the event had given him. Under the pretext 
of distracting the parents from their grief he gave, 
says Brantome, a ball and masquerade, at which 
** he did such follies and danced so gaily " that the 
Queen was extremely angry, and Louis thought it 
prudent to escape from Amboise and return to his 
own castle at Blois. Here he received the con- 
gratulatory visit from the Count and Countess of 



56 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 

Angouleme just referred to. It was returning from 
this visit of " mirth in funeral " that Louise's hus- 
band took an attack of pleurisy which killed him. 

Not much more than two years after this — April, 
1498 — Charles VIII. died too, and left no living 
child behind him ; there was only his young widow, 
Queen Anne, but she seemed born to thwart the 
ambition of Louise. As the Duke of Orleans, now 
become Louis XII., had been married to Joan, 
daughter of Louis XL for twenty -three years and 
was childless, Louise might be said almost to have 
seen the diadem of France round the brows of her 
adored son. But she was to go through double and 
triple anguish of doubts and fears before this vision 
was realised. The first obstacle in the way of 
Louise's ambition was placed there by Queen Anne. 
Her husband being dead, she claimed from his suc- 
cessor the resumption in her own right of the Duchy 
of Brittany. Up to the time when this incon- 
venient claim was made, Louis had shown every 
disposition to recognise Francis as his heir. He 
had installed Louise and her two children in the 
royal castle at Blois ; he had invited them all to be 
his guests at Chinon, and had shown them great 
courtesy and affection. M. de Gelais wrote in his 
history of Louis XII. : "He gave the said lady 
lodgings in his castle at Chinon, over his own cham- 
ber, where he went to visit her frequently in most 
familiar fashion. As for the children, he did not 




LOUIS XII. ENTERING GENOA IN TRIUMPH. 

From an Old Print. 



\ 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 57 

know how to show them favour enough, for had he 
been their father he could not have made more of 
them. And certes, there were few children to equal 
them in any rank of life, as, for their years, they 
were so accomplished that it was pleasant and de- 
lightsome even to look at them." 

Then came the widowed Queen's inconvenient 
claim to re-establish her private ownership of the 
Duchy of Brittany, and King Louis was in a 
serious dilemma. He saw only one way of securing 
the duchy without fighting for it. He was a very 
thrifty king, and shrank from the wasteful expendi- 
ture of war, especially if he could get what he 
wanted in a more economical way. This way in- 
volved the abandonment and divorce of the wife to 
whom he had been married for twenty-three years, 
and his immediate remarriage with the late king's 
widow. Incidentally it also involved the apparent 
destruction of Louise's darling hopes for her son; 
but it may be assumed that this did not cause 
Louis XII. much hesitation. This was the course 
actually pursued. The Pope, Alexander VI., made 
no difficulties in granting the divorce beyond requir- 
ing a large sum of money. Queen Joan being thus 
disposed of, King Louis married Anne of Brittany 
in January, 1499, within eight months of the death 
of Charles VIII. 

The new Queen was exactly the same age as 
Louise herself, between twenty -two and twenty- 



58 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

three. She had had children as the wife of 
Charles VIII., and there was every reason to be- 
lieve that she would also bear children to Louis XII. 
It is not difficult to realise how the tiger-like 
maternal rage of Louise was excited by the pros- 
pect. There was from this time a deadly feud be- 
tween the two ladies, none the less bitter because 
it was carried on under the outward appearance of 
friendship. 

The anticipation of the birth of children to 
Louis XII. and his new wife was quickly realised ; 
the eldest child. Princess Claude, was born in 
October, 1499, in Louise's own dower house of 
Eomorantin. The child was from her birth deli- 
cate, plain, and lame; but, failing the birth of a 
son to her parents, she was the heiress of Brittany, 
and Louise decided that she should be the bride of 
her Francis. Anne as strenuously opposed this 
match, and as soon as the Emperor Maximilian's 
grandson and heir was born, in 1500, schemed to 
wed her little daughter to the Archduke Charles, 
afterwards Charles V. How unjustly is the present 
age called the age of commercialism compared with 
the "good old times," when there was absolutely 
nothing even in the most sacred of human relations 
which apparently respectable people were not ready 
to buy and sell ! Not long after the birth of Princess 
Claude a son was born to Louis and Anne ; but he 
scarcely survived his birth, and Louise wrote with 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 59 

savage joy in her journal, " He could not retard the 
exaltation of my Caesar, for he had no life." 

A great deal of what we know of Louise is de- 
rived from this journal, written with her own hand. 
It is one of the most curious of historical docu- 
ments. It was evidently not written from day to 
day, but probably the mood took her about 1522 or 
1523 to note down the principal events of her life, 
and even of some years preceding her life. She 
begins with the birth of the Emperor Maximilian 
in 1459, then come notes of the birth of Louis XII. 
in 1462, of his wife Anne, Duchess of Brittany, 
and of herself in the same year, 1476. She makes 
no mention whatever of her own marriage, the 
first real flourish of trumpets records the birth of 
her son — "Francis, by the Grace of God King of 
France and my pacific Caesar, took his first ex- 
perience of earthly light at Cognac, about ten 
hours after noon, 1494, the twelfth day of Sep- 
tember." The next entry is, "The first day of 
January of the year 1496, I lost my husband." She 
next notes that " my daughter Claude, conjoined to 
my son in marriage, was born in my house at 
Eomorantin the 13th October, eight hours and fifty- 
four minutes after noon, 1499." 

One of her great enemies was the Marshal de 
Gy^. She supposed, and with some reason, that 
he had been placed in her household by the king 
as a spy upon her conduct. She records in the 



6o FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 

journal how this person had nearly caused the death 
of her son. On January 25th, 1501, Francis then 
being six years old, " my king, my lord, my Caesar 
and my son, was run away with in the fields near 
Amboise, on a hackney which had been given him 
by Marshal de Gy^." The poor man probably 
thought he was making himself very agreeable in 
giving the child a horse, but Louise flashes out at 
him as if he had been a murderer, and gives thanks 
to God, ** toutes fois protecteur des femmes 
veufves et deffenseur des orphelins,'' who would 
not leave her desolate, deprived of her love and her 
one object in life. A few years later she pursued 
Marshal de Gye to his ruin. Her next entry re- 
cords the death of a little dog "Hapeguai, very 
loving and loyal to his master." Then comes the 
very characteristic passage already referred to : 
** Anne, Queen of France, on St. Agnes' day, 21st 
of January, had a son, but he could not retard the 
exaltation of my Caesar, for he had no life." The 
betrothal of Francis with the Princess Claude is 
recorded, but it is attributed to the year 1507, 
whereas contemporary records place it in 1506. 
The birth of Margaret in 1492, and her marriage to 
the Duke of Alengon in 1509, are set down in the 
journal, but it is Francis, and not Margaret, in 
whom Louise is really interested. If he runs a 
thorn into his leg or scratches his finger it is re- 
corded as seriously as the history of shipwrecks and 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 6i 

sieges. *'The fifth day of June, 1515, my son, 
coming from Chamont to Amboise, ran a thorn into 
his leg, which caused him much pain, and me also, 
for true love forced me to suffer equally with him." 
His journeys, his illnesses, and his recoveries fill 
her field of vision, and other events interest her 
only according to their influence on him. One of 
her entries seems to require confirmation, which it 
has not received. The enmity between herself and 
Queen Anne is emphasised by all contemporary 
chroniclers. The Queen resisted the union between 
Francis and her daughter Claude to so much pur- 
pose that although she had been forced to give con- 
sent to the betrothal of the two children in 1506, 
she delayed the marriage, and continued to hope to 
marry her daughter to the Grand Duke Charles. 
In the negotiations leading to the betrothal of 
Francis and Claude in 1506, it is expressly stipu- 
lated that the proposed marriage should not be 
carried out if a son were born to Louis XII. It 
was not till Anne was dead that this hope was 
abandoned and the marriage allowed to take place. 
It was a very sombre wedding. The King insisted 
that everyone, even the bride and bridegroom, 
should wear black for the late Queen. 

Louise asserts in her journal that Anne left her 
executor of her will with control over the fortune 
of her Ijwo daughters, " Mesmement de madame 
Claude J reine de France, et femme de mon fils, 



62 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

laquelle fai honorahlement et amiablement con- 
duite; chaqun le s^ait, veriU Je cognoist, ex- 
perience le d^monstre, aussi fait puhlique re- 
nommee/' "The lady doth protest too much." 
Louise, writing this in 1522 or thereabouts, was 
all-powerful. Her son was King, there was no one 
who could bring her to book ; but it is very incon- 
sistent with the well-known enmity and rivalry 
which existed between her and Anne of Brittany 
to suppose that the latter should have left Louise 
with absolute control over the fortunes of her 
daughters, especially as their father and natural 
guardian was then living. Louise had very far from 
a clean record in financial affairs. She loved money 
almost as much as she loved her son ; sometimes it 
appeared that she loved it even more. When he 
was at his wit's end for money to pay the ransom 
of his sons to Charles V., in 1630, his sister Mar- 
garet gave with both hands and sacrificed all her 
gold and silver plate. Louise gave nothing, though 
at her death, which took place not long after, it was 
discovered that she had in her treasury 1,500,000 
gold crowns. Earlier than this, in 1512, when 
Francis had embarked on his disastrous campaign 
in Italy, she was in part responsible for the defeat 
of her son's forces by diverting to her own use 
400,000 gold crowns which were intended for the 
relief of the French army in Italy. Semblan^ai, 
superintendent of the finances, eventually suffered 



LOUISE or SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 63 

on the scaffold for the crime of making over this 
money to the king's mother; but Louise neither 
gave it up nor incurred the punishment she so 
richly deserved for stealing it. Francis for the first 
time was seriously incensed against his mother; he 
visited her in her apartment, and with much wrath 
accused her of having caused the loss of his army 
in Italy and of the Duchy of Milan. She ex- 
cused herself at the expense of Semblan9ai, who, 
she said, had long held money of hers, the proceeds 
of years of saving and economy. This was in the 
year 1522, and almost exactly corresponded in time 
with the writing of her journal. It may very well 
have been that this affair of the 400,000 crowns and 
her son's anger made her feel that she required 
whitewashing, and that no one but herself was 
likely to undertake the task. Hence she sits down 
and writes herself a testimonial for her honourable 
and amiable management of the large fortunes of 
the two princesses, Claude, the wife of Francis, 
and Benee, the younger daughter of Louis XII. 
Another entry in the journal is susceptible of a 
similar explanation. Louise wTites : '' Uan 1516, 
1516, 1517, 1518, 1519, 1520, 1521, 1522 " (that is 
from the date of her son's accession to that of the 
Semblan^ai affair) ''sans y pouvoir donner pro- 
vision, mons fils et moi feusmes continuellement 
desrohds par les gens de finances." It is tolerably 
plain, if we may read between the lines, that 



64 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

Louise means it to be understood that she regarded 
the 400,000 crowns as payment of a debt due to 
her own private purse. Even if the French ex- 
chequer did owe Louise money it was an incon- 
venient moment to exact payment, when the 
French army at Milan under Lautrec was at the 
last extremity from want of funds, and when the 
soldiers were mutinous, not having received any 
wages for eighteen months. 

It only makes the malversation by Louise of 
the money intended for the army a blacker crime 
than theft, when we learn that she was actuated 
not only by avarice, but by the desire to ruin 
Lautrec, and through him the Constable of Bour- 
bon, Charles Montpensier. 

But that part of the story must come later, and 
we must now return to the earlier period, during 
the childhood of Margaret and Francis. Every 
circumstance deepened the rivalry between their 
mother and the Queen of France. Anne was 
wealthy, essentially narrow-minded, suspicious of 
learning and education, commonplace, respectable, 
and honest, a bigot in religion, rigid in her notions 
of decorum, and extremely tenacious of her rights 
as Queen of France and Duchess of Brittany. 
Louise was the poor relation ; but she, and not 
Anne, was the great lady with great social gifts and 
graces, accomplished, learned, and the friend of 
learning, at the same time absolutely unprincipled 



..«H^-T»??SS^i^^ 




LOUIS XII. 

After an Engraving by J. CHAPMA^ 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 65 

and ambitious. Anne's great interest in life was 
in promoting marriages. Miss Sichel tells that the 
Pope presented her with an '' autel portatif/' a 
travelling altar, at which she was licensed to per- 
form marriages on the shortest possible notice. One 
imagines her travelling about with her portable 
altar just as the modern English lady has her tea 
basket. Louise, on the other hand, paid but small 
regard to marriage except as it served to promote 
her ambition for her children. The deepest rivalry- 
bet ween the two ladies centred in their children. 
Those of Anne were plain, sickly, and deficient in 
vitality. If they had not been the king's daughters 
no one would have given them a second glance; 
while the boy and girl of Louise would have been 
remarkable anywhere — full of vigour both mental 
and bodily, full of interest in all that life might 
bring them. Francis especially had almost from his 
cradle the gift of physical splendour which we 
recognise in his numerous portraits, where the crim- 
son velvet and satin, the jewels, feathers, and lace 
do not obscure, but rather throw into relief the 
flamboyant magnificence of the man. 

Louis XII. and his consort were economical to 
the point of cheese-paring in their personal expendi- 
ture ; Francis would spend a fortune on pocket- 
handkerchiefs, and his jewels and clothes cost as 
much every -year as would have kept a troop of 
horse. There is an eternal feud between wealthy 



66 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 

parsimony and lavish poverty. And the economical 
King knew that the magnificent young prince's bills 
would make their way to him to be paid. He was 
heard to exclaim of Francis, ** Ce gargon Zd me 
gdtera tout.'' But Queen Anne must have sighed 
when she compared her plain children with this 
young Prince Charming ; and Louise, we may be 
sure, looked daggers, though she used none, when she 
thought that such another poor plain weakling, if 
a boy, might intervene between her Francis and the 
throne. In 1510 Queen Anne had another child; 
to the intense joy of Louise it was again a daugh- 
ter, Eenee, afterwards Duchess of Ferrara. The 
death of Anne, in 1514, seemed to make Louise 
sure that the prize she had so long sought was really 
secured. She and her son rejoiced openly at the 
Queen's death, and she lost no time in bringing 
about the marriage between the Princess Claude 
and Francis which Anne had so long resisted. It 
would not have suited her to have seen Claude mar- 
ried to a powerful prince like the Grand Duke 
Charles or Henry VIII. of England, who thereby 
would have captured Brittany and might from that 
vantage ground have tried to set aside the Salic law 
and claim for his wife the crown of France. 

Louis XII. had sincerely loved his wife, and 
on her death gave way to a passion of grief. He 
ordered her grave to be made large enough for two 
coffins, and prophesied more truly than he knew 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 67 

that he would quickly follow her to the next world. 
For once the thrifty king let himself be profuse, 
and the pages of Brantome positively glow as he 
describes the lavish magnificence of her obsequies. 
Louise now thought all her anxieties were over. 
She was calmly arranging the visit of Francis to 
Constantinople, for she had formed plans that her 
** pacific Caesar" should become Emperor of the 
East, master of India, and a second Alexander, 
when her schemes were suddenly dashed to the 
ground by another amazing marriage by Louis XII. 
The broken-hearted widower, who but a few 
weeks earlier had been making arrangements for 
his own entombment, announced his betrothal and 
speedy marriage with Mary Tudor, the sister of 
Henry VIII. — eighteen years old, handsome, frolic- 
some, giddy, and good-natured. Louise's fury is 
reflected in her journal, where she describes the 
first meeting of the King, ** fori antique et dehile " 
(he was fifty-two), with his youthful bride. The 
marriage followed on October 9th the same year. 
Louis's object in his third marriage was to neu- 
tralise the opposition, even if he did not secure the 
support, of England in the renewal of hostilities 
which he was then contemplating with the Empire 
for the domination of Italy. The few months 
during which the marriage lasted must have been 
the bitterest of Louise's life. She hated Mary 
Tudor, and set spies upon her. If she could catch 



68 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

her tripping she might yet overthrow her and pre- 
vent any possible child of hers succeeding. It was 
part of her plan for Mary's ruin that Francis, not 
at all against the grain, set up a lively flirtation with 
the young queen. But all these plots and plans 
were suddenly rendered superfluous, for the King 
died on January 1st, 1515, and Louise enters trium- 
phantly in her journal : * * My son was King of 
France." One of the intimate friends of Francis 
during his youth, M. de Fleurange, " le jeune 
adventureuXy" says in his memoirs that the death 
of Louis XII., on New Year's day, was " une belle 
etrenne " for Louise; and we can well believe it. 

The giddy young Queen, Mary Tudor, did not 
give much anxiety. She kept her mourning state 
in bed for six weeks, in a chamber hung with black, 
from which all daylight was excluded, according 
to the monstrous etiquette then enforced on royal 
widows. But she was not without distractions. 
She received visits from Francis, and she then in- 
timated to him that she proposed, as soon as her 
seclusion was ended, to marry Charles Brandon, 
Duke of Suffolk. Francis sent for the Duke, and 
said, " My Lord of Suffolk, there is a bruit in this 
my realm that you are come to marry with the 
Queen, your master's sister." Suffolk is said to have 
replied that the " bruit " was well founded, but that 
he was doing nothing dishonourable nor contrary to 
the will of his master. However that might be, 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 69 

Francis and his mother promoted the immediate 
marriage of the joyful widow with her lover. This 
took place on March 31st, 1515, exactly three 
months after the death of Louis. The note in 
Louise's journal is: "Saturday, the last day of 
March, 1515, the Duke of Suffolk, a man of low 
birth, whom Henry, eighth of the name, had sent 
as ambassador to the King, married Mary, sister of 
the said Henry, and widow of Louis XII." 

Suffolk had been betrothed once and married 
twice already ; and one of his wives was certainly 
living at the date on which he married Mary Tudor ; 
for he presently applied to Pope Clement VII. for 
a bull to dissolve his former marriage and legalise 
his union with his master's sister. But these facts 
do not appear to have been regarded by anyone as 
a serious impediment. If Mary did not object, no 
one in France had the right to do so. Louise and 
Francis were too anxious to provide Mary Tudor 
with a husband to be particular, and this once ac- 
complished the young dowager's improprieties had 
no further interest for the triumphant Louise. 
Mary left Paris with her old lover and new husband 
on April 15th, and troubled the mother of Francis 
no more. The English princess had more difficulty 
in appeasing the anger of her brother, for Suffolk 
went far beyond the truth in saying that Henry 
had consented to the marriage. Mary, to pacify 
him, had to sacrifice all her plate and jewels, and 



70 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

also to promise to pay him £24,000 in yearly instal- 
ments. This strange marriage made Suffolk and 
his royal wife, twenty-two years later, the grand- 
parents of the ill-fated Lady Jane Grey. It was 
surely one of Nature's most generous miracles that 
this delicate flower should have sprung from such 
a hotbed of greed and passion. 
,' Francis and his sister Margaret had been 
j brought up together, and she had shared in all his 
\ studies. She soon outstripped him in her know- 
; ledge of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, and in her easy 
grasp of modern languages. To another of her 
interests he was almost entirely a stranger. Her 
governess, Mme. de Chatillon, very early interested 
her in the movement, then beginning, for the re- 
form of the Church. Her chief companions in her 
childhood were the group of noble youths who had 
been selected as comrades for Francis. Among 
them were Gaston de Foix (killed at Eavenna), 
whose extraordinary beauty may still be seen in his 
effigy in the Castello at Milan ; Bonnivet (killed at 
Pavia) ; Charles of Montpensier, afterwards Duke of 
Bourbon ; and Anne of Montmorency, both in suc- 
cession Constables of France. Among these boys 
Margaret reigned as a little queen. With several 
of them she retained a life-long friendship. For 
many years she kept up continual correspondence 
with Montmorency, and the volume of her letters 
to him almost equals that of her letters to Francis. 




HEAD OF GASTON DE FOIX, 



From his Monument in the Castello at Milan. 
From a PhotO'^rapli by Aliiiari, Florence. 



\ 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND BlBR DAUQH'. 

Probably all the boys were in love with her ; 
while she was being sought in marriage by great 
kings and heirs-apparent. Their suits were, how- 
ever, for one reason or another set aside, and in 
1509 Margaret was married, at the age of seventeen, 
to the Duke of Alengon. This marriage was ar- 
ranged on a simple commercial basis. Margaret 
never even seemed to have any personal affection for 
her first husband. She left him for years at a time, 
and after her brother became king spent nearly all 
her time either with Francis or in his service. Her 
marriage was dictated by the wish to promote her 
brother's interests. This was an all-sufficient justi- 
fication in the eyes of both mother and daughter. 
The Duke of Alengon w^as mean and insignificant 
both in character and appearance, and his slender 
mental advantages had never been made the most 
of by education. But he had a means of making his 
influence felt at court ; he claimed the County of 
Armagnac, which had reverted to the crown in de- 
fault of male heirs. He perpetually pressed this 
claim, which he derived by descent from his great- 
grandfather John, fourth Count of Armagnac. 
Louis XII., with his habitual eye to economy, hated 
the expense both of war and of lawsuits, he there- 
fore agreed that if the Duke of Alen9on married 
Margaret, the County of Armagnac should be her 
marriage portion. This suited everyone admirably. 
The Duke of Alen9on made a marriage far beyond 



^2 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

his deserts and position, the King avoided a tedious 
and expensive lawsuit, Francis and Louise were 
quite satisfied because the revenues of the County 
of Armagnac — if at Margaret's disposal — would be 
entirely at their command, and finally Margaret 
was satisfied because she never wished for anything 
but her brother's advancement. The person who 
was most to be pitied was perhaps the dull Duke of 
Alengon. He obtained a brilliant and beautiful 
wife it is true ; but she never cared for him nor 
made any pretence of doing so, and his claim to 
the County of Armagnac was satisfied more in 
appearance than in reality. Then and always 
Margaret was true to the guiding principle of her 
life. Her brother and his interests, real or sup- 
posed, were her guiding star. The marriage took 
place at Blois, on October 9th, 1509. 

The ** trinity" was now broken up. Margaret 
was installed in her own court at Argentan ; 
Francis, the year before, not long after his be- 
trothal, left for the royal court at Blois, and, as 
Louise says in her journal, " me laissa toute seule " 
at Amboise. The death of Anne of Brittany, the 
marriage of Francis and Claude, the re-marriage of 
Louis XII. with Mary Tudor, and his death, were 
all crowded into the year between January, 1514, 
and January, 1515. Francis had not failed on his 
marriage to demand from Louis the cession of 
Brittany as his wife's inheritance in her own right, 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 73 

and to this the King had given a reluctant consent. 
It is possible that this exaction had its share in 
bringing about Louis's third and last marriage, for 
his temper, according to the chronicles of Fleurange, 
was decidedly '* chatouilleux,'' which may perhaps 
be best translated as "cat-like," for he loved to 
scratch even if he were powerless to inflict a deeper 
wound. He gave another instance of this disposi- 
tion when he was negotiating his marriage with 
Mary Tudor. He displayed to the English noble- 
man, the Earl of Worcester, who acted as Mary's 
proxy at the betrothal, the magnificent jewels he 
was about to give his young bride — ' ' the goodliest 
and richest sight of jewels I ever saw," wrote the 
Earl to Cardinal Wolsey. After a detailed descrip- 
tion he added : ' ' There are ten or twelve of the 
principal stones that there hath been refused for 
them 100,000 ducats. After the King had showed 
me these jewels he said, ' My wife will not have 
all these at once ; I shall give them to her one by 
one, that I may receive in return more abundant 
thanks and tokens of her affection.' " 

During these anxious months, at the end of 
1514, Louise, sick as she was with hope deferred, 
clung to the prophecy, made by Francis de Paule, 
that her son should be king; and after he had 
ascended the throne she showed her gratitude by 
causing the holy man to be canonised. Her way of 
describing this in her journal is characteristic: 



74 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 

** Uan 1519, le 5 Juillet, frere Frangois de PauUy 
des freres meridians evangelisteSy jut par moi 
canonist; cl tout le moins fen ai pay4 le taxe/' 
Louise never showed any genuine religious feeling. 
She would make a pilgrimage on foot to a celebrated 
shrine, not from love of God, but for value received, 
or anticipated, for her son, her "glorious and 
triumphant Caesar." If his arms and fortunes pros- 
pered, she would make a suitable acknowledgment. 
For instance, this is the reference in her journal to 
the coronation of her son on the day of the con- 
version of St. Paul, in 1515. " For this event I am 
much beholden and grateful to Divine mercy, as by 
it I have been recompensed for all the adversities 
and reverses which happened to me in my early 
years and in the flower of my youth. Humility [ ! ] 
was then my constant companion ; nevertheless, 
patience never forsook me." 

If Francis suffered a reverse she would offer an 
expiatory victim, and would order some poor wretch 
who had been accused of insulting the sacrament to 
have his hand cut off and then to be burnt alive. 

When the Emperor Maximilian died, in 1519, 
the three candidates for election were the three 
young kings, Henry of England, Charles of Spain, 
and Francis of France. Henry's candidature was 
only formal ; the real contest lay between Charles 
and Francis. Both bribed handsomely ; but the 
credit of the frugal Charles was far better than 




FRANCIS I. OF FRANCE. 

From a Relief by an Unknown Sculptor in the Castello, Milan. 
Photograph by Anderson, Rome. 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 75 

that of the spendthrift Francis. "At the critical 
moment Francis could not get credit. The Swabian 
league forbade the merchants of Augsburg to accept 
his bills."* And on June 28th, 1519, the electors 
unanimously voted for Charles. The election cost 
him 850,000 florins ; but he won. The entry in the 
journal of Louise is very typical of her character 
and of her attitude where religious considerations 
were involved. '* In July, 1519, Charles, fifth of 
the name, son of Philip, Archduke of Austria, was, 
after the empire had been vacant for the space of 
five months, elected King of the Eomans, in the 
town of Frankfort. Would to God it had been 
longer vacant, or even that it had for ever been left 
in the hands of Jesus Christ, to whom it belongs, 
and to no other.*' If Francis had been elected, 
what a different note would she not have sung? 

THE EEFORM OF THE CHURCH AND THE REVIVAL OF 
LEARNING. 

Louise was a worldling to the finger-tips, and so 
was Francis. Not so Margare t ; she had genuine 
reli^ous„ferKi)iic She dearly wished above all 
things to gain her brother's sympathy for the cause 
of the reformation. Madame de Chatillon, who had 
fostered Margaret's piety in her childhood, remained 
with her as lady-in-waiting after her marriage. For 
a time Margaret believed she had gained the sym- 
* Cambridge Modern History, Vol. II., p. 41. 



76 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

pathy of Francis for the reform of the church, and 
she even had hopes of her mother. She constantly 
interceded with her brother to save the lives of 
eminent scholars and theologians whom the bigots 
of the church wished to condemn to the flames or 
to perpetual imprisonment. For some years Francis 
allowed himself to be influenced by her prayers and 
petitions. Thus when Lefevre, Louis Berquin, and 
other pious scholars were condemned to death for 
such trivialities as that they had taught that Mary, 
the sister of Lazarus, Mary Magdalene, and the 
Mary, of the pot of ointment, were three separate 
persons, Margaret besought her brother, and gener- 
ally with success, to use his royal prerogative of 
mercy, and to save them from the flames. On the 
intellectual side Francis was in sympathy with his 
sister, and for some years Margaret failed to see 
that his support went no further. If he had been 
as open to genuine religious impulses as she was, 
the history of France, and probably of Christen- 
dom, would have been very different ; but Francis 
was essentially without religion. He sometimes 
supported the reformers, but sometimes — and as his 
reign went on, more frequently — persecuted them, 
and lent his authority to the most bigoted and 
reactionary party in the church. 

For some years after the accession of Francis, 

I Margaret reigned as virtual Queen of France. 

Poor, quiet, submissive Claude was quite in the 



LOUISE OP SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 77 

background. Margaret always treated her gener- 
ously and affectionately. It was not in her nature 
to be unkind even to a sister-in-law. There was 
no question of jealousy between the two. Francis 
never cared for Claude, and neglected her from 
the day of his marriage till that of her death. 
She was simply the mother of his seven children ; 
she never had any other part or lot in his life. 
When she died, in 1524, after ten years of mar- 
riage, Francis was not even by her bedside. She 
was at Blois dying, he was -at Bourges with his 
mother and sister. A message was sent to recall 
Francis to his dying wife, but he disregarded 
it. He was too much occupied with the prepara- 
tions for his ill-fated expedition to Italy to obey the 
summons. He contented himself with sending his 
mother and sister back to Blois. They arrived too 
late. Claude was dead, aged twenty-four, and prob- 
ably thankful to be w^here there is no marrying or 
giving in marriage. Her father's indecent marriage 
with Mary Tudor almost immediately after her 
mother's death had been painful and distasteful to 
her, and as the neglected wife of the gorgeous 
Francis she had had very few hours of joyousness 
in her short life. The companionship of her little 
sister Eenee was one of her consolations. News of 
her death was, of course, at once conveyed to 
Francis. He did not return, but he ordered her the 
handsomest funeral that money could buy, and ap- 



78 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

peared to be rather surprised that her death should 
cause him any emotion. Margaret, in a letter, re- 
presents him as saying to their mother : "If my 
life could be given in exchange for hers, willingly 
would I yield it up. Never could I have believed 
that the bonds of marriage were so hard and difficult 
to sever." 

Margaret henceforward devoted herself to the 
children of Francis, and became a second mother to 
them. Many of her prettiest and most playful 
letters are addressed to her brother about his 
children. The baby Charles, ** M. d'Angouleme,** 
as Margaret ceremoniously calls him even when he 
was only three years old, seems to have been her 
special pet. Her letters to Francis about his 
children show that whatever changes four centuries 
may have wrought in the world, the devoted aunt 
was much the same in the fifteenth as in the 
twentieth. In a letter written in 1531, Margaret, 
referring to the long drawn out illness of their 
mother, tells Francis that there had been no im- 
provement until the visit of "three little doctors, 
who speedily made her forget her pain." These 
were the three little princes, the Dauphin Francis, 
Henry, Duke of Orleans, and Charles, Duke of 
Angouleme. 

" The princes, however, were very sorrowful and dis- 
contented when they learned your departure ; for M. 
d' Angouleme had made up his mind, if he coifld only see 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 79 

you again, never to loose your hand ; for lie says that 
even if you go to hunt the wild boar, he knows that you 
will take good care that nothing hurts him." 

It is a pretty touch, the little prince of nine years 
old, who determines when he next sees his father 
never to loose his hand. He had a mind to attach 
himself to the chariot of that glorious sun even if 
he could not stop it in its course. 

Soon after Francis first became king, Margaret 
left her husband almost entirely, and devoted herself 
to her brother. "The trinity" were reunited. 
Margaret engaged the interest of Francis in the '] 
revival of learning, and endeavoured to engage it in 
the reform of the Church. The two objects were 
not the same, but they were touched at many points. 
The University of Paris and the Sorbonne were in 
vehement opposition to them both. They denounced 
the teaching of Greek and Hebrew with passion. 
In 1521 the University of Paris condemned Luther's 
doctrines and ordered his book to be publicly burnt. 
In the same year the heads of the Sorbonne and of 
the University pame in a deputation to Francis to 
entreat him to check the study of Greek and Hebrew 
among students and forei'gn professors on the ground 
that such persons, armed with the knowledge of the 
languages in which the Scriptures were written, 
"insinuated themselves into the houses of persons 
of quality and insolently assumed the liberty of in- 
terpreting the Bible." Francis, animated by Mar- 



8o FIVE FAMC ^^JUNCH WOMEN. 

garet, dealt very shortly with these learned op- 
ponents of learning, and said he would not have the 
students of Greek molested. *' To persecute those 
who teach us would be," he declared, ** to prevent 
able men from coming into our country." But the 
powers of ignorance and bigotry were not so easily 
put down. For years, and with continually increas- 
ing vehemence as the reform movement and the 
revival of learning gathered strength, the Sorbonne 
and the University headed the forces of obscuran- 
tism in a fight to the finish. Koyal displeasure, con- 
tinually and vigorously expressed over a considerable 
term of years, could not repress them. Greek was 
vigorously denounced by the University and the 
Sorbonne; it was the tongue of pagans and the 
mother of all the heresies. Hebrew was as bad, 
because it was the language of the Jews. Learn- 
ing and science were equally dangerous ; they opened 
men's minds to think and observe. The education 
given by the University and the Sorbonne consisted 
of absurd hair splittings over such points as whether 
* * if a donkey were led in a leash to market it was 
the cord or the holder of the cord that actually led 
him." * The first gravedigger in Hamlet might 
have been a professor in this school of learning. 

While education was thus reduced to an ab- 
surdity. Church and University lent themselves to 
the toleration of every kind of moral iniquity. By 
* Miss Sichel's " Women and Men of the French Eenaissanoe." 



IC 




4^ 



MARGARET OF ANGOULEME. 

From a Drawing in the BibliotheQue Nationale, Paris. 
Photograph by P. Samayiaitd. — 



LOUISE OF SAVOT AND HER DAUGHTER. 81 

the payment of money every sin could be absolved, 
and there was a regular tariff of charges for absolu- 
tion for various crimes ; the tariff varied with the 
wealth of the applicant ; the rich had to pay more 
than the poor. Ecclesiastical offences were the most 
expensive, and it was cheaper to murder a layman 
than to rob a church. 

Against this international system of ignorance 
and viciousness all the best men in Europe com- 
bined : Sir Thomas More, Dean Colet, and Arch- 
bishop Waring headed the movement in England, 
Erasmus led the van on the Continent of Europe, 
seconded by such men as Keuchlin in Germany, 
Bude and Berquin in France, Ochino in Italy. At 
first there was no idea of separating from the Church 
of Rome ; the whole wish of the earlier leaders was 
to secure reform within the church, and to base a 
purified and spiritualised religion on a study of the 
Bible, and of the best philosophers and poets of 
antiquity. 

It is to the eternal glory of Margaret of Angou- \ 
leme that she threw herself heart and soul on the 
right side in this most profoundly interesting 
struggle. She never became a Protestant, and never 
separated herself from the communion of the Church 
of Eome ; the coarse violence of some of the mani- 
festations of the Protestant movement disgusted and 
partially alienated her. But she never wavered 
from the position she took up all through the years 



82 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

when she was the first lady in France, of the pro- 
tector of the new learning and the humble devotee 
of a religion which was pure and undefiled. During 
the early years of her brother's reign he had made 
her Duchess of Berry in her own right, which gave 
her a large revenue and the control of the University 
of Bourges. Here she spent a large proportion of 
her income in educating poor scholars ; she opened 
her doors to the men of learning and character 
who were driven from Paris by the bigotry of the 
Sorbonne. But she did more than this ; she carried 
the war into the enemies' camp in Paris itself. 
After eight years' quiet persistent work in the way 
of preparation, she founded the College de France, 
while with feminine tact she made Francis believe 
that he w^as founding it himself. Everything had 
to be done in the King's name and with his consent. 
But Margaret gave the motive power and kept the 
King's interest alive. Bud^, the great Greek 
scholar, Jean du Bellay (afterwards Cardinal) and 
his two brothers threw themselves with enthusiasm 
into the scheme. Bud^ was a scholar of European 
reputation. It was in his house in Paris that Eras- 
mus and Sir Thomas More first met and laid the 
foundation of a life-long friendship which had many 
important consequences. He had an intense 
enthusiasm for Greek, a knowledge of which he had 
acquired under extraordinary difficulties. The 
college was really created as a rival to the University, 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 83 

but its promoters were diplomatists as well as 
scholars, and it was very modest in its first scope, 
dimensions, and title. It was not a university, but 
a ' ' college universitaire " ; it was at first to consist 
of two chairs only, one of Greek and one of Hebrew. 
This w^as in 1529. In 1530 the professorships were 
increased from two to five, and in 1545 to eleven, 
when Arabic, philosophy, medicine, mathematics, 
and literature each had its chair. To the new college 
was affiliated the printing establishment of the 
Estiennes, which was already hateful to the Sor- 
bonne because it had published a translation of the 
New Testament into French. Erasmus took the 
keenest interest in the foundation of the college, and 
Margaret and her brother desired that he should 
become its first principal ; but this offer, like many 
other flattering offers, including that of a cardinal's 
hat from the Pope, Erasmus, for good reasons, 
declined. Francis endowed the college with an 
annual revenue of 50,000 crowns. 

The Sorbonne and the University quite well 
knew who was the real author of the new col- 
lege, and they neither forgot nor forgave. It was 
Margaret who constantly intervened for the pro- 
tection of men, learned and unlearned, whose 
crime it was to study the Scriptures, and to dare 
to think for themselves in matters of conduct 
and religion; and now, as the persecutors well 
knew, it was Margaret who was founding this 



84 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

college which was to carry the war into their own 
province of education. The boldness and persistency 
of the attacks made on Margaret, the King's sister, 
his devoted friend and counsellor, the most powerful 
lady in the kingdom and virtual Queen of France, 
give a vivid picture of the political and social power 
of the Church. Ecclesiasticism was a power outside 
the State, and often antagonistic to it. The Sor- 
bonne and the University of Paris put themselves 
in open opposition to the King and the King's sister. 
When Margaret wrote ' ' The Mirror of a Sinful 
Soul," and when a book of Hours was prepared for 
her by the King's confessor, Guillaume Petit, 
Bishop of Senlis, leaving out many of the usual 
invocations to the saints, she was summoned by the 
Sorbonne to appear before its court on the charge 
of heresy. She defied her would-be prosecutors 
and retaliated by writing satirical poems in which 
she represented a doctor of the Sorbonne eager 
to put down heresy with fire and faggot, but willing 
to be mollified by means of bribery. The anger 
of the Sorbonne and University was great ; but 
they bided their time and struck back with 
all their strength when the right moment came. 
Francis and Margaret, or rather Francis, urged 
thereto by Margaret, invited Melancthon to Paris 
with a view to bringing about a purification of 
the church. Melancthon was a reformer after 
Margaret's own heart, gentle and moderate, desiring 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 85 

to reconcile rather than to estrange ; earnestly work- 
ing for the reform of the church from within so as 
to prevent the disruption of Christendom. Melanc- 
thon hesitated to accept the position offered him in 
Paris ; he pleaded delay and the necessity of obtain- 
ing the consent of his sovereign, the Elector of 
Saxony. This consent was obtained, but Luther 
unfortunately intervened and begged Melancthon 
at least to postpone his departure. This played 
into the hands of the University and the Sorbonne, 
which were bitterly opposed to the presence of 
Melancthon in Paris. The delay was in fact fatal 
to the scheme. In the interval the Cardinal de 
Tournon (afterwards responsible for the massacre 
of the Vaudois) openly upbraided Francis for desir- 
ing, by summoning Melancthon to his capital, " to 
spread the deadly poison of heresy which he diffuses 
with subtle skill." Every kind of political intrigue 
was brought to bear both in Paris and in Saxony to 
prevent the scheme being carried out, and finally 
the Elector of Saxony withdrew the permission he 
had given to Melancthon to leave his dominions. 
In the long continued duel to the death between 
Margaret and the Keformers on the one side and 
the forces of obscurantism, headed by the University 
and the Sorbonne, on the other, the chances of 
victory seemed certainly for the first half of the 
reign of Francis to rest with the Eeformers. The 
University and the Sorbonne constantly injured 



86 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 

themselves by the gross violence of their repre- 
sentatives. Noel Beda was one of the chief of these. 
He attacked Margaret again and again with un- 
scrupulous violence, and encouraged the grossest 
attacks on her by others. Their aim was to break 
the influence which Margaret possessed over her 
brother, the King. A monk in a sermon recom- 
mended that she should be sewn in a sack and 
thrown into the Seine. The College de Navarre 
placed upon the stage in Paris a ** morality " play, 
in which the King's sister, at that time Queen of 
Navarre, was represented as a woman who neglects 
the spinning wheel in order to accept a translation of 
the Bible into French offered to her by a monstrous 
demon. The ensuing conversation was such as to 
earn condemnation for its insolent indecency, even 
in those times, which were very far from squeamish. 
The ' * morality ' ' ended by the transformation of the 
Queen herself into a hideous demon, which was 
carried off shrieking to the infernal regions. This 
precious composition was performed in the presence 
of the principal by four professors of theology, 
assisted by the scholars of the college. Francis was 
furious ; less with the theological views of the college 
than with the insult to his own person through that 
of his sister. A court official, attended by a body 
of archers, marched down to the college to arrest all 
who had been primarily concerned in the perform- 
ance. A free fight ensued, and the archers had to 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGlITEIi. 87 

be reinforced, but in the end the dramatic career of 
the four professors and the principal of the college 
was interrupted by confinement in the Conciergerie. 
By lifting her little finger Margaret could have con- 
signed them to the galleys for life ; but it was wholly 
characteristic of her that she chose a nobler sort of 
revenge. She interceded with Francis on their 
behalf and obtained their release. Beda, alone, who 
was suspected of being the author of the play, re- 
ceived a severer punishment, and was banished from 
France for two years. It was Beda of whom Eras- 
mus said , * ' There is a good three thousand monks 
in his one person." 

In another contest with Beda and the Sorbonne 
Margaret was less triumphant. One of the most 
distinguished of French Keformers was Louis de Ber- 
quin. He was of noble family, and one of the King's 
bodyguard ; his mind was naturally studious and 
refined, and he had a witty tongue and pen. He 
wrote on the subject of the reform of religion, and 
he translated the works of Erasmus, Luther and 
Melancthon into French ; he had the works printed 
at his own expense, and circulated them among his 
friends. The spirit of compromise was not in him ; 
his upbringing as a noble had given him no schooling 
in hiding his opinions. Erasmus begged him to be 
more on his guard, but caution and compromise were 
wholly foreign to him. This man, of whom Theo- 
dore B6za said, " He might have been the Luther 



88 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

of France had Francis been a Frederick of Saxony," 
was marked down by Beda as his prey. The first 
attack was made in 1523 ; Beda, on behalf of the 
Sorbonne, urged the Syndic to pay a domiciliary 
visit to Berquin's house, which was subjected to a 
rigorous search. The heretical writings just referred 
to were found, carried off in triumph, and con- 
demned to be burnt by the public executioner. Ber- 
quin himself was summoned before the court of the 
Sorbonne and ordered to retract his errors. He gave 
an absolute and uncompromising refusal. He was 
thereupon thrown into prison on the charge of 
heresy ; the stake at which other less highly placed 
Keformers had recently perished was in full view, 
but Berquin resolutely refused to retract. His 
friends went straight to Margaret, and she to Francis. 
The result was an immediate and peremptory order 
for his release. The hearing of the complaint 
against Berquin was transferred from the ecclesi- 
astical court to the Council of State, which dismissed 
him with a slight reprimand, and the King then 
immediately reinstated him in his offices at court. 
But this was only the first trial of strength 
between the opposing forces. While Francis was 
a prisoner in Spain in 1525, after the battle of Pavia, 
the attack on Berquin was renewed. Louise had 
been made Eegent on the departure of the King on 
his Italian expedition. Her authority as Eegent 
had met with some opposition from the Parliament 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 89 

and University. When the great reverse of Pavia 
came, all the reactionary elements in French society 
burst into full cry that the woes of France were sent 
as a divine punishment for the sin of favouring the 
reform of religion. The Sorbonne, with Beda as its 
chief spokesman, clamoured for power to sweep the 
heretics out of existence ; the University and the 
Parliament joined in the cry for blood. " Heresy," 
said they, " has raised its head among us, and the 
King, by failing to erect scaffolds against it, has 
drawn down the wrath of Heaven on the kingdom." 
Louise cared nothing for religion one way or the 
other; she had been temporarily attracted by the 
learning and general cultivation of the leading Ee- 
formers, but she did not hesitate to throw them to 
the wolves of popular clamour. With the royal 
assent now in her hands, the fires of persecution 
were once more lighted in France. She hoped 
thereby to conciliate the opposition of the Parlia- 
ment to her regency, and to obtain the active inter- 
vention' of the Pope on behalf of her son. She 
therefore consented not only to persecution by the 
Sorbonne, but also to the establishment of the In- 
quisition in France. A decree was issued authorising 
the handing over to selected bishops for trial all ac- 
cused of sympathy with the doctrines of Luther; 
they were then to be delivered over to., the secular 
arm and be burnt alive. Berquin was again seized 
under this decree as one of its earliest victims. He 



90 FIVE FAMOUS FUENCll WOMEN, 

was thrown into prison and condemned to the stake. 
He remained as stern and unbending as before. 
Others had bowed before the storm and had recanted 
opinions which they truly held. Let those who 
would have been more robust condemn them. The 
wonder always is that there were so many who were 
faithful unto death. Louis de Berquin was one. 
His friends knew that only one thing could save him 
— Margaret's personal influence. She exerted it to 
the utmost with her mother, and it utterly failed. 
Louise thought she knew what she was about, and 
believed that by burning and torturing the Ke- 
formers she was buying papal support for Francis 
and possibly preventing an internal insurrection 
against herself and her son in France. She re- 
mained deaf to Margaret's entreaties. The Princess 
had but one resource left : a direct appeal to Francis 
in his Spanish prison. She did not appeal in vain. 
Quickly there came a royal decree from Francis to 
the Parliament commanding the release of the 
gentleman of his chamber, Louis de Berquin. 
Francis also addressed his mother as Kegent, and 
commanded her to intimate officially that all pro- 
cesses against heretics, *' ces hommes d' excellent 
savoir," should be suspended until after his return 
from captivity, and that no more executions should 
be allowed unless they had received his royal con- 
firmation. 

Again Berquin was saved, and more than Ber- 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 91 

quin. The fires and faggots of the persecutors were 
stayed for the time being throughout France; thus, 
at the end of the second act of the tragedy, Margaret 
and the friends of the Eeformation were triumphant. 
How, therefore, did it happen that the third act 
ended so gloomily, that the brave gentleman, twice 
condemned and twice rescued by the direct inter- 
vention of the King and the King's sister, should 
have fallen a victim four years later to his implacable 
enemies ? 

Louis de Berquin, twice rescued, as we have 
seen, was burnt alive on April 24th, 1529, in the 
Place de Greve, Paris, in the presence of an 
immense crowd. What was Margaret doing? She 
had interceded again, and had interceded in vain. 
Francis now turned a deaf ear to her entreaties. 
What was the cause of the change? The answer is 
a sad one. A man's foes are those of his own house- 
hold. The cause of the Eeformation in France had 
been thrown back by the violence of the more 
ignorant and bigoted of the Eeformers. 

Everyone will remember in Greek history the 
extraordinary consternation produced in Athens in 
the fifth century B.C. by the mutilation of the 
statues of Hermes. Grote describes in a memorable 
passage the intensity of mingled dismay, terror, and 
wrath which seized the whole of Athens on the 
morning when the outrage upon the statues became 
known. Something not dissimilar to this happened 



92 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

in Paris. The most sacred image which Paris con- 
tained was one of the Virgin and Child at the corner 
where the Eue des Eosiers crossed the Kue des Juifs 
in the Quartier St. Antoine. One morning in 1528 
it was discovered that this sacred image had been 
wantonly and maliciously destroyed. It had been 
not merely mutilated, but reduced to a formless 
heap of rubbish. The rage, terror, and consterna- 
tion of Paris were boundless. The King, when he 
heard of the outrage, burst into tears. The intense 
feeling excited is one of the things which cannot be 
argued about, but must be accepted as a fact. The 
very same people who could, without much emotion 
or any sensations of extreme rage or shame, look on 
while a living human creature was burnt alive or 
torn limb from limb, were excited to a fever heat 
of wild and bitter wrath by the desecration of 
a stone image. The " estrapade " had been 
specially invented to heighten and prolong the suffer- 
ings of the victims of the Inquisition in France. By 
means of an iron chain the living sacrifice was 
lowered into the flames, and then after a few 
moments raised out of them and urged to make re- 
cantation. This process was repeated again and 
again while any life remained in the poor tortured 
body. Francis himself could attend such an exhi- 
bition as this, accompanied by members of the court, 
female as well as male, could see the pyres lighted 
and watch the process till the smell of the burning 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 93 

flesh turned the ladies sick ; but when it came to 
destroying a statue, his wrath was unbounded; the 
crime was one for which expiation must be made 
by the King in person, representing the whole 
realm of France. He caused the desecrated image 
to be replaced by one made of solid silver ; with his 
own hands he placed it in the niche, and caused a 
strong iron grille to be erected for its protection. 
All this was done to the accompaniment of the most 
stately ceremonial. The King was attended by the 
whole court, by the princes of the blood royal, and 
by all the great officers of state. 

The intense emotion caused by the desecra- 
tion of the image produced a strong reaction against 
the reform of the church , and against the persons of 
those known to favour reform. The love of Francis 
for his sister was one of the very few unselfish 
emotions which can be traced in him ; but even 
Margaret's position and influence were shaken. The 
court life was a life of intrigue, envy, and jealousy, 
and there were not wanting people in Francis's 
intimate circle who were only too glad to undermine 
Margaret's hitherto nearly absolute influence over 
her brother. The Constable Montmorency was one 
of these. For years Margaret had believed him to 
be her friend, and had treated him with every mark 
of affectionate consideration. But when Francis 
was one day inveighing in the presence of Mont- 
morency against heresy and heretics, and expressing 



94 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

his determination to root them out of France, Mont- 
morency ventured to say that he must begin with his 
own court, and with his own sister. Montmorency 
would never have dared to hint even an attack on 
Margaret unless her influence had been seriously 
impaired. But with all the faults of Francis, he 
turned a deaf ear to Montmorency's words, and re- 
plied brusquely that he would not have his sister's 
name brought in, and added, " She loves me too 
well to believe anything which I do not believe, or 
to adopt any faith harmful to my realm." But 
though Francis would listen in private to no attacks 
on his sister, in public he declared he ** would cut 
off his right arm and cast it into the flames if it were 
infected with this heretic pestilence." The words 
were inevitably interpreted as pointing at Margaret, 
and it was well understood that the brother and 
sister were no longer so absolutely at one as in 
former years. Thus it was that Margaret's inter- 
cession to Francis for Louis de Berquin's life was 
unheeded, and that on the third occasion on which 
he was condemned to death the faggots and the 
stake did not claim their victim in vain. 

There was, moreover, another reason for the 
newly born zeal of Francis against the Eeformers. 
In 1528-30 he was in great straits for money. He had 
quitted his Spanish prison in 1526, but he had been 
forced to give as hostages to Charles V. his two 
young sons, the Dauphin, Francis, aged eight, and 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 95 

Henri, Duke of Orleans (afterwards Henri II.), aged 
seven. To release these two children, Francis was 
prepared to commit every kind of cheerful perjury. 
But Charles V. was wary and cautious, and knew his 
man. He at first demanded that Francis should 
give himself up in exchange for his sons, and was 
with difficulty persuaded to accept a ransom; this, 
he insisted, should be in hard cash, two millions of 
gold crowns. Margaret, as already stated, gave all 
she had, and parted with her plate and jewels to give 
liberally. Louise gave nothing. The chancellor 
Duprat wrote to Montmorency, "Touching the 
matter of the money about which you and the King 
wrote to me, I have tried every way in the world 
to raise it through the banks, and from other 
quarters, but as soon as I mention the loan every- 
one drops his ears and refuses to listen to me." In 
these straits the King summoned an Assembly of 
the Notables, and they voted him 1,300,000 livres, 
but the clergy made it a condition, to which the 
King readily assented, that he should take active 
measures against heresy. Thus the accident of the 
critical position of the young princes told against 
Berquin and the other Reformers. The ransom of 
the little boys was partly paid by the best blood 
in France. 

Duprat, the chancellor, who was also Archbishop 
of Sens and a cardinal, conceived the notable plan 
of making the money, thus painfully accumulated, 



96 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

go further, by paying the ransom of the princes in 
debased coin. He was found out. The envoys of 
the Emperor, deputed to receive the ransom at Font- 
arabia, demanded that the metal should be tested, 
and it was proved to be an alloy of copper and gold. 
Hereafter, every gold piece was separately tested, 
weighed and placed in strong safes by the Spaniards, 
a process which occupied four months. To such 
humiliation was Prince Charming reduced, he who 
had prided himself in youth on being " fantastically 
honourable." The profuse extravagance of Francis 
always made him short of money, and had destroyed 
his credit even before the disastrous Italian cam- 
paign of 1525. Not even the bargain called the 
Concordat, which had been made between Francis 
and Pope Leo X., in December, 1515, had sufficed 
to keep Francis in funds. By this arrangement the 
revenues of the French Church were placed under 
the control of the crown in exchange for the support 
of Francis in upholding the rule of the Medici family 
in Florence. The King under this agreement had 
made most unscrupulous use of the revenues of the 
church. Bishoprics and other preferments were 
used to pay officers of state, or disposed of in a 
less reputable fashion. The Venetian Ambassador 
wrote, "Thenceforward the King began to distri- 
bute bishoprics at the solicitation of the ladies of the 
court, and to give abbeys to his soldiers so that they 
trafficked at the court of France in bishoprics and 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 97 

abbeys, as in Venice they do in pepper and cinna- 
mon." 

The unscrupulous character of the Concordat 
and the corrupt use which Francis made of it, by no 
means signified that he was exempt from ecclesi- 
astical domination. If he robbed the Church, he 
also trembled before it. The church party, not 
unnaturally, pointed to the disasters of France in 
the wars with Charles V., the defeat of Pavia, and 
the imprisonment of Francis in Spain, as signs of 
the wrath of Heaven caused by the Concordat, as 
well as by the encouragement given by Francis and 
his sister to the doctrines of Luther and Calvin. 

The affair of the placards was very much on the 
same lines as the mutilation of the statue, and had 
nearly the same consequences in causing a vehement 
reaction in Paris and throughout France against the 
principles of the Keformation. It may be said to 
have had even worse consequences, for it weakened, 
though it did not alienate, Margaret's sympathy 
with the reform movement. On October 18th, 1534, 
on all the public buildings of Paris, on the gates of 
the King's Palace, at Blois and Amboise, and 
simultaneously on a number of cathedrals, 
universities, and palaces throughout France, 
appeared placards attacking the doctrine of the 
mass in the most violent, not to say indecent, 
manner. Even the strongest protestants of the 
present time describe the wording of these placards 



98 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 

as " impious and profane," *' coarse and offensive." 
The placards were posted on the doors of the 
King's bedchamber at Blois, and when he came in 
great wrath to Paris they followed him to the 
Louvre, and smaller papers of a similar character 
were found under his pillow. There was another 
great outburst of anti-Protestant wrath. Burnings 
and tortures of all kinds were resorted to, and the 
vilest measures of espionage were adopted. The 
printing press was for a time stopped altogether, and 
was afterwards subjected to a strict censorship. 
The more refined and sensitive of those who 
favoured the Eeformation were bitterly wounded. 
Many were permanently estranged. Eoussel, 
Bishop of Oleron, who had been one of the leaders 
of the French Protestant movement, and a close 
adviser and friend of Margaret, and her chaplain, 
was thrown into prison, and for a long time his life 
hung in the balance. It is needless to say that 
Margaret did not forsake him; but it required all 
her influence continuously exerted to secure his 
acquittal. Humbler victims to the number of 
twenty-three, men and women, were burned. 
Margaret felt that she stood alone. Her first hus- 
band had died in 1525, and she had married the 
King of Navarre in 1527, but neither her husband 
nor her brother gave her any support. Eoussel had 
prepared a sort of confession of faith which was 
called ** La Messe d sept points." Francis rejected 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 99 

it contemptuously, and warned his sister that **it 
smelt of faggots." Her husband, entering her apart- 
ment and finding her engaged in some theological 
argument with a Calvinist preacher, roughly boxed 
her on the ears and told her she wanted to know 
too much. It was after this renewed outburst 
against the doctrines of the Keformation that Eous- 
sel, du Bellay, Bude, and other sympathisers com- 
promised by outward observance of the forms and 
ceremonies of Catholicism. Margaret acted in a 
similar manner ; they were partly influenced by the 
disgust with which the odious character of the 
placards had filled them ; and also, it can hardly be 
doubted, by the terror occasioned by the vehemence 
with which the persecution of the Protestants was 
carried out. An edict had been issued to the effect 
that anyone convicted by two witnesses of being a 
Lutheran should be burned ; within a week fifty 
Lutherans were in prison awaiting execution. The 
Spanish Inquisition was already a byeword through- 
out Europe, and the French Lutherans expected a 
repetition of its bloody orgies in their own country. 
It was in the interval between the desecration of 
the image and the posting of the placards that 
Calvin had been compelled to fly from Paris. He 
was henceforth an exile, sheltered at first by 
Margaret at Nerac, and afterwards taking refuge 
at Bale and Geneva. He consistently and vehe- 
mently opposed all compromise, and vigorously de- 



loo WIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

nounced those who outwardly conformed to Borne 
while inwardly mistrusting her. He was no re- 
specter of persons, and rated Margaret as soundly 
for what he deemed her weakness as he would have 
done the humblest peasant in France. He branded 
as * * Nicodemites ' ' all Kef ormers who lacked the 
courage to come out of the ancient Church. With 
him it was ** all or nothing " ; the name of com- 
promise could not be so much as mentioned in his 
presence. But then he had to seek safety out of 
France ; if he had held it his duty to remain in his 
own country he would have shared the fate of Louis 
de Berquin. 

Margaret, however, henceforth compromised. 
There could be no life for Francis's sister which 
excluded her from his dominions, and sincere as her 
interest in the reform of the Church was, Francis 
was right when he said his sister would never believe 
anything that was hurtful to him, or which 
separated her from him. 

PA VIA, 1526. 

Throughout Margaret's life the dominant note of 
her character, as we have seen, was her unmeasured 
devotion to Francis and to everything that was his. 
She married, but she preferred her brother to her 
husband. She had children, but though she was 
very heartbroken when her little boy died, she said 
in so many words to Francis that she loved his 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. loi 

children better than her own. The husbands found 
this attitude a little trying, and so did the daughter. 
Her first husband she never even made any attempt 
to care for; Francis was all in all to her. When, 
after prolonged absences from her husband, spend- 
ing years with her brother, and constantly employed 
in serving his interests, the Duke of Alen9on at last 
succeeded in carrying her off for a time to his home 
at Argentan, she was angry and miserable. She 
wrote an entreating letter to Francis begging him 
to visit her, or, if that were impossible, she says, if 
he will signify his approval, she will leave Argentan 
to meet him ''feigning another intent." She 
speaks of the * * lamentable misery ' ' she endured 
through the mere fact of separation, and finally begs 
him to burn her letters and bury their contents in 
eternal silence, otherwise her miserable life will be 
worse than death. This letter which Margaret so 
earnestly entreated Francis to destroy is now part of 
the historical collection of the Bibliotheque Nation- 
ale, and is quoted at full length in Miss Freer 's 
"Life of the Queen of Navarre." It reveals the 
great fault of her life and character, the reason why, 
with all her sw^eetness and lively intelligence, she 
failed in her main objects in life, the reform of 
religion in France, and that Francis should lead the 
other princes of Europe in establishing this reform 
on a sure basis and in promoting the revival of 
learning. Her attitude to Francis was simply that 



I02 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

of slavish idolatry, and idols are proverbially deaf and 
blind. She told him that he was more to her than 
father, mother, or husband ; that her own daughter 
was dear to her mainly because Francis had adopted 
her as his own. She said she kissed his letters daily, 
and carried them on her person as relics. He pro- 
mised her, after her marriage to the King of 
Navarre, that he would win back for her husband 
his lost Spanish provinces. He not only broke his 
word, but wrote to the Emperor begging him to dis- 
regard Henry's claim to the provinces, " even though 
he hath taken to wife my dearly beloved and only 
sister." But no treachery on the part of Francis 
could change the slavish adoration of his sister. 
Thus she came by degrees to lose her influence over 
him. Why should he trouble to deserve her appro- 
bation and admiration when she approved and 
admired everything he did because he did it? Thus 
^ihe higher nature was lowered to the meaner, and 
not vice versd. She obeyed him in all things un- 
hesitatingly. At his desire she brought about a 
marriage between two people who particularly ob- 
jected to each other, and had formed other matri- 
"^monial contracts. At his desire she abandoned her 
daughter Jeanne, at the age of two, leaving her to 
be brought up by strangers, a victim to a lonely and 
miserable childhood. At his desire she insisted on 
the marriage of Jeanne to the Duke of Cleves, 
although the little princess exhausted every means 



LOUISE OT SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 103 

of proving her vehement hostility to the match. The 
usually gentle Margaret ordered her daughter to be 
thrashed daily till she yielded, and the dauntless 
child put on record a protestation in v^hich she said 
that her consent to the marriage had only been 
wrung from her under chastisement so severe that 
she believed, if continued, it would have cost her life. 

A few specimens will suffice to prove that in her 
letters to her brother Margaret exhausted every ex- 
pression of worship and adoration which her pen 
could command. To be with him whom she looked 
upon as more than *' father, brother, husband," was 
her highest joy. She would lay aside her royal 
blood and accompany him as his washerwoman if 
no higher role could be assigned to her. "What- 
ever it may be, even to casting to the winds the 
ashes of my bones to do you service, nothing can 
seem to me strange, or difficult, or painful, but 
always consolation, repose, and honour." On re- 
ceiving his commands that she should join him, she 
writes of the ecstasy she experiences : * ' Mon- 
seigneur, if you could but experience a little of the 
joy you have given me by the command to hasten 
to a place which contains all I love most on earth." 

There is no reason to suppose that these expres- 
sions of devotion, however extravagant, were in- 
sincere. By every action of her life, as well as by 
words, Margaret showed her absolute worship of 
her brother. He was her all in all, her sun, her 



104 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

divinity. Judge then what she and her mother 
must have suffered v^hen their * * glorious and trium- 
phant Caesar ' ' v^as glorious and triumphant no 
longer; when the second Italian campaign was one 
long disaster, Francis himself a prisoner, and the 
flower of the French nobility slain at the battle of 
^ Pavia in 1525. When this expedition had set out, 
Louise had been left regent, and it required all her 
skill and statesmanship to sustain the integrity of 
the kingdom under the blow which it had received. 
Louise had never thought well of this Italian ex- 
pedition, and had endeavoured to dissuade Francis 
from undertaking it. She was too devoted to him to 
remind him of this in his hour of defeat. The bitter 
rage and grief throughout France was deepened by 
the knowledge that it had been brought about by 
the treachery of a Frenchman, and that Frenchman 
the first nobleman in the kingdom, a grandson by 
marriage of Louis XI., Charles of Montpensier, 
Duke of Bourbon, and Constable of France. 

The Montpensier story is a romance in itself. 
He was the equal and friend of princes. His annual 
revenues are said to have amounted to nearly a 
million livres, and his power and wealth nearly 
equalled those of the king. His estates had been 
increased by his marriage when a mere child, in 
1504, with Susanne of Bourbon, daughter of Anne 
of Beaujeu, and granddaughter of Louis XL His 
appearance and demeanour at the Field of the Cloth 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 105 

of Gold, in 1520, were so magnificent and haughty 
that Henry VIII. had said, " If that man were lord 
of mine, his head should not remain two days upon 
his shoulders." It will be remembered that he was 
one of the little group of noble youths brought up 
with Francis and Margaret in their childhood. He 
was therefore intimately known by them and by 
Louise. This marriage with the heiress of the 
Bourbons did not prevent his carrying on a rather 
nauseous flirtation with Louise, who was thirteen 
years his senior. It is understood that there was 
an exchange of rings and a promise of marriage as 
soon as Susanne, who was delicate and deformed, 
should have departed from this world. It was partly 
through the influence of Louise that Montpensier 
had been made Constable by Louis XII. in 1513. 
Later he became Governor of Milan. Louise, 
with the infatuation sometimes seen in a middle- 
aged woman for a young lover, intrigued to secure 
his recall ; and his ambition thus received from 
her hand a blow for which he never forgave her. 
When Susanne died in 1622, instead, as Louise had 
expected, of offering her his hand, he made a formal 
application to the King for the hand of his sister-in- 
law Eenee, afterwards Duchess of Ferrara. At first 
Louise gave no heed to the defection of her former 
lover ; and at her request Francis sent a messenger 
to the Constable to acquaint him that the King de- 
signed to bestow upon him his mother in marriage. 



io6 FIVE FAMOUS FltENCH WOMEN. 

Montpensier declined point blank, and said he would 
not marry Louise for all the riches in Christendom. 
He added insult to injury by saying that his former 
court to her was but a feint to cover his real love for 
her daughter Margaret. The rage of Louise knew 
no bounds. She was now as keen to ruin Mont- 
pensier, financially and politically, as she had pre- 
viously been to advance him. She induced the King 
to deprive him of the military command of the van 
of the French army, a post most unwisely bestowed 
upon the incompetent Alen9on ; and as if this w^as 
not enough, she began a lawsuit to deprive him of 
the great Bourbon estates which he had inherited 
from his wife. She left no stone unturned. The 
law was against her and in favour of Montpensier. 
She must have the law altered, and she actually got 
it altered, Duprat, the chancellor, aiding her in this 
iniquity. She worked so indefatigably that the law- 
suit ended in adjudging the property to the crown, 
and Francis bestowed it upon his mother. Mont- 
pensier went into rebellion, opened negotiations 
with Charles V., in conjunction with whom he be- 
sieged Marseilles, but was repulsed by the valour 
of the citizens, the very women working in the 
trenches. He visited England in order to pay court 
to another enemy of Francis. Sir Thomas Boleyn 
wrote of him, " The Constable has, according to his 
own showing, the noblest motives for his desertion 
of his country.'* Whether this were sarcasm or not 



LOUISE OT SAVOY AND HETt DAUGHTER. 107 

does not appear ; but deserters of their country had 
need to have ' * noblest motives ' ' in order to cover 
their treachery. He seems to have been continually 
trying to arrange some magnificent marriage for 
himself with an emperor's sister or a king's daugh- 
ter, but none of these schemes succeeded. How 
Montpensier's conduct was regarded can be judged 
by the fact that after Pavia, in 1525, when Mont- 
pensier was in Spain, the Spanish grandees refused 
to receive him, and he had much difficulty in 
securing a house in Madrid suitable to his rank. 
Charles V. made it a personal request to the Mar- 
quis of Villana that he would allow Montpensier to 
inhabit his palace. The Marquis replied that the 
wish of the Emperor was a command, and that his 
palace was at the service of the Duke ; but , he 
added , * ' when he quits it I will have it burned to 
the ground, as a house polluted by the presence of 
a traitor is no fit abode for a man of honour." This 
is Brantome's story, and it must be remembered that 
he w^as always a thick and thin supporter of the 
House of Valois. 

Treachery remains treachery, and disloyalty dis- 
loyalty. But Montpensier had great provocations. 
He had been the richest and most powerful noble- 
man in France ; and he was now ruined, deprived 
of his command, despoiled of his estates, the law 
juggled with in order to make it an instrument 
against him, all to satisfy the wounded vanity of an 



io8 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCK WOMEN, 

unprincipled woman whose so-called love had turned 
to hate. If he had remained on what was left to 
him of his hereditary estates, and had abstained 
from allying himself with the enemies of his 
country, no one can say what his position might 
have become; but as a Frenchman who fought 
against France, his infamy vies with that of the 
woman who provoked it. Fortunately for himself 
he did not live long. At the sack of Rome, in 1527, 
he raised with his own hands the first scaling ladder 
upon the walls ; he was also the first to mount the 
breach, and the first to fall mortally wounded, shot 
through the lungs by Benvenuto Cellini. 

As the traitor Montpensier was conspicuous 
among the victorious enemies of Francis at Pavia, 
so the incompetent Alen^on was conspicuous among 
those of his friends who left undone what they ought 
to have done. Immense numbers of leaders, as well 
as the best of the rank and file of the French army, 
were slain on that disastrous day ; the rout and panic 
were complete. The Duke of Alen^on had saved 
himself by flight while the fate of the battle still 
hung in the balance. Francis was wounded, his 
horse slain under him, and he himself only saved by 
the intervention of an equerry of Montpensier, who 
flew to his rescue and proclaimed to tfie victorious 
soldiers of Charles that it was the King. The 
equerry desired that Francis should yield his sword 
to his master. But this was a humiliation greater 




LOUISE OF SAVOY, COMTESSE DANGOUL^IVIE 



LOUISE OIF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 109 

than Francis could endure, and he replied that he 
would only give up his sword to the Marquis of 
Lannoy, the generalissimo of the Imperial troops. 
After his surrender Francis was taken at his own 
request into the famous church of the Certosa near 
Pa via, built by Ludovico il Moro. On entering, the 
first words which met his eye were, " It is good for 
me. Lord, that I have been in trouble, that I may 
learn thy statutes." In his letter to his mother 
announcing the disaster, he made use of the phrase 
which has become proverbial, ** All is lost save 
honour and life, which are safe." 

The news of the misfortune was brought to 
Louise and Margaret at Lyons by Captain Prim- 
rose. They rose to what the occasion demanded, and 
showed inflexible courage, resource, and capacity 
to meet misfortune and defy it. In such moments 
even Louise showed herself great and admirable. 
Crushed as she was, she did not more than tem- 
porarily give herself over to despair nor to the 
vain repetition, in which a feebler spirit would have 
sought consolation, of such expressions as, "If 
he would only have listened to me," and so forth. 
Sustained by her daughter, she set herself to pre- 
serve for her adored sovereign all that was left to 
him of his kingdom, and to retrieve the disasters 
which had overwhelmed it. 

In their first letter to Francis after the news of 
the defeat, his mother and sister give the foremost 



no FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 

place to the inexpressible comfort they derive from 
knowing that his honour, life, and health are safe. 
They then add : 

" Monseigneur, hearing these things, and that it 
is your intention to endure with resignation the ills 
that God has inflicted upon you, I, for my part, like- 
wise promise to bear this reverse as you hope and 
desire, in such fashion, for the aid of your little 
children and the affairs of this kingdom, that I will 
not be the occasion of greater grief to you. I be- 
seech God, Monseigneur, to have you in His holy 
keeping, as prays with all her heart; your very 
humble and good mother and subject, Loyse; your 
very humble sister, Marguerite." 

In another letter to her brother, Margaret wrote : 
* ' Madame (Louise of Savoy) has felt such a doubling 
of strength that night and day there is not a moment 
lost for your affairs, therefore you need have no 
anxiety or pain about your kingdom or your chil- 
dren." 

The imperturbable courage and good sense of 
these letters stir the blood even now, after nearly 
four hundred years. Each woman was enduring, 
besides the general grief of the whole nation, "a 
fee-grief due to her single breast." Louise must 
have known that she was the real cause of Mont- 
pensier's disloyalty. Margaret had to face the horrid 
truth that a large share of the disaster was due to 
the incompetence and cowardice of her husband. 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER, iii 

She made no attempt to conceal the bitter anger she 
felt against him. That he should have been en- 
trusted with the most important command and 
should have betrayed it v^as to her anguish worse 
than death. Pavia had been fought on February 
24th, the birthday of Charles V. Alengon arrived ^ 
in Lyons at the end of March. In every French 
hamlet he had passed through he had heard his 
name repeated with every sort of insult and contempt. 
He and his troops were greeted as " les fuyards de 
Pavie." In innumerable ballads sung in town and 
village he heard what his countrymen thought of 
him. Eabelais wrote, ** I hate more than poison a 
man who flies when sword play comes into fashion. 
Why am I not King of France for eighty or a hun- 
dred years ? My God ! I would crop the tails of 
the curs who fled from Pavia." When at last Alen- 
9on reached Lyons, his wife refused to see him. Ill 
already, this was the last straw ; he took to his bed 
stricken to death. One is thankful to learn that 
Margaret relented towards him before it was too 
late. When she heard that mortal illness was upon 
him, she visited him and did her utmost to obtain 
his pardon from the Eegent, her mother, and also 
from Francis himself. In a letter to her brother 
she entreated him to ' * receive the very humble 
homage of Monseigneur d'Alengon, who esteems his 
captive freedom so great a misfortune that until he 
sees you again he holds his life to be as death." 



112 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

Alen^on died on April 11th, 1526, less than seven 
weeks after the disastrous day of Pa via. It was 
Tuesday in Passion week. Margaret had been tend- 
ing him for several days ; early in the morning she 
had urged him to take the sacrament, and she after- 
wards read to him the chapters of the Gospel which 
narrate the passion and death of Our Lord. Moved 
thereto no doubt by her daughter, Louise also visited 
the dying man, whose first thoughts on seeing her 
were another endeavour to make his peace with 
Francis. When Louise withdrew, and signed to 
Margaret to follow her, the Duke grasped his wife's 
hand and said, ** Do not leave me." She remained 
with him to the end. In her letters to Francis she 
speaks of herself as overwhelmed by grief. * * Those 
first two days," she said, "made me forget all 
reason." And no doubt her feelings were a medley 
of shame, pity, and sorrow, perhaps also of remorse. 
Could she not have made something better of the 
man she had married if she had been able to give to 
him even a faint shadow of the devoted affection 
which she lavished on her brother? The human 
soul thrives on love, and poor Alen^on had had none 
of it, even in the relation in which it is most essen- 
tial. If she had cared for him even enough to try 
to understand him, she might have prevented him 
from assuming the military command for which h(i 
was wholly unfitted, his failure in which resulted 
in the rout of Pavia, the imprisonment of Francis, 




ERASMUS. 

FROM THE Portrait by Holbein, in the Antwerp Gallery. 
PJiotoyraph by Messrs. F.yrc & Spottiswoode. 



LOUISS OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 113 

and his own broken-hearted death. Thus her ex- 
clusive devotion to her brother had defeated its own 
ends. 

Margaret did not keep the six weeks' seclusion 
in a darkened room which was then, in royal circles, 
one of the penalties of being a widow. Even the 
robust hypocrisy of the sixteenth century did not 
exact that farce from her. 

Her own thoughts and those of her mother were 
now concentrated on what they could do to secure the 
release of Francis. The learned men of Europe peti- 
tioned Charles V. to set his captive free. Francis, 
through Margaret, had been the patron of learning, 
and every scholar deprecated the harshness with 
which he was being treated. Before the existence 
of the newspaper press, these cosmopolitan scholars 
represented public opinion, and often led it. One 
of the noblest of the letters was that written by 
Erasmus, and it came with all the greater weight 
because it was addressed by a subject to his sove- 
reign. It is curiously modern in tone. It might 
almost have been written by Tolstoi. 

" If I were the Emperor," wrote Erasmus to 
Charles V., ** I should say to the King of France : 
* My brother, some evil fate has provoked us to 
war. Fortune has made you my prisoner ; but that 
which has happened to you might also have hap- 
pened to me. . . . We have been too long at 
war together; let us now combat after another 



114 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 

fashion. I restore you to liberty — in return grant 
me your friendship; let us forget the past. I ask 
you for no ransom ; let us live as good neighbours. 
. . . My clemency will confer greater honour 
upon me than if I had conquered France ; and your 
gratitude will be more glorious to you than if you 
had driven me from Italy.' " 

But neither his Catholic Majesty nor the Most 
Christian King understood this sort of Christianity 
which found its mouthpiece in the heretic Erasmus, 
whom the Inquisition would have cheerfully burned 
if it could have caught him in its power. 

Meanwhile letters constantly passed between 
Francis and Margaret. His are full of requests — for 
the silver equipage of his table, for money, and so 
forth ; hers are full of her anxieties on his behalf ; 
she was much troubled lest he should injure his 
health by fasting. " Monseigneur, as much as a 
very humble sister can implore you, I entreat you 
not to do this, but consider how fish goes against 
you ; also believe that if you do it Madame has 
sworn to do so too, and I shall have the sorrow to 
see you both give way." Let us hope she was 
cheered on hearing that the King was " fasting on 
turtles this Lent, which he finds very good." 

She sent him the Epistles of St. Paul with a 
special message to Montmorency that if the King 
will be pleased to read one of them daily " as a 
prayer . . . God for His own honour and glory 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 115 

will give him speedy deliverance ; for He has pro- 
mised in His holy Gospel that those who love the 
truth, by truth they shall be free." A curious 
example that even the piety and intelligence of Mar- 
garet could use the Bible as a sort of charm, and 
could, when she wished it, impart an entirely un- 
justified and materialistic interpretation to a well- 
known text. 

In the meantime Charles V. remained deaf to the 
entreaties of Erasmus and the other learned men. 
He retained Francis as his prisoner, and removed 
him from Italy to Spain, whence Louise and Mar- 
garet heard terrible reports of the severity of his 
confinement. Their pleasure-loving, joyous Francis, 
who demanded, above all things, brilliancy, splen- 
dour, and gaiety, was now shut up in a narrow, 
airless chamber in the Castle of Madrid. The win- 
dow, doubly barred by iron grilles deeply imbedded 
in the wall, was a hundred feet from the ground, and 
two battalions of soldiers kept guard night and day 
on the platform below. The King was permitted no 
privacy, and no personal communication with his 
captor was vouchsafed. His hours of exercise were 
strictly limited ; no horse was allowed him ; when 
he went abroad he was mounted on a mule and sur- 
rounded by an armed escort, who were commanded 
never to break their ranks. 

Half the ladies in Spain, from the Emperor's 
sister downwards, were in love with him, but they 



ii6 FIVE FAMOUS F BENCH WOMEN. 

could not charm away his captivity or soften its 
rigours. He became seriously ill, and Louise and 
Margaret were persuaded that the personal presence 
of Margaret herself in Madrid would effect upon the 
resolution of Charles what all other ambassadors had 
entreated in vain. Louise did not part from her 
daughter without grave misgivings. What if Mar- 
garet became a prisoner too? The first thing neces- 
sary w^as to obtain a safe-conduct for her from the 
Emperor. This was at length promised, and Mar- 
garet set forth, in August, 1525, amid a general 
lamentation for her absence, and devout hopes for 
her safe return and for the success of her mission. 
Among those who most deplored her departure were 
the Reformers. The severity of the persecution in- 
augurated by Louise for the purpose of propitiating 
the wrath of Heaven for the sin of heresy, would, 
they were aware, be aggravated by the absence of 
the Duchess of Alen^on. 

But all doubts and fears had to give way to Mar- 
garet's own intense wish to join her brother. Louise 
accompanied her on her journey for five days, sail- 
ing in a barge down the Rhone from Lyons to Aigues 
Mortes. Margaret w^as kept waiting there for four- 
teen days for the arrival of the promised safe-con- 
duct. When it at last arrived she departed by sea 
to Barcelona. She had a rough passage, but did not 
suffer from sea-sickness. She attributed her im- 
munity to her absorption in her approaching meeting 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 117 

with Francis. She wrote to her brother, " The ex- 
treme desire I have to see your Majesty absorbed all 
other pains." 

Until the arrival of Margaret in Spain, Charles V. 
had always evaded, under a variety of pretexts, the 
desire of Francis for a personal interview. When 
Margaret was almost at the gates of his capital, 
Charles felt that he could postpone the promised 
visit no longer, and he resolved to see Francis before 
the arrival of his sister ; and on September 18th , 
1525, at eight o'clock in the evening, the visit took 
place. Francis was in bed, and was too weak to rise ; 
Charles was startled and alarmed. His prisoner's 
life was essential to him, for death sets every man 
free. They were both young men — Charles only 
twenty-five, and Francis thirty-one. It may be 
hoped that there was some touch of genuine gener- 
osity in Charles's concern for the well-being of the 
King. Francis exclaimed that Charles had come to 
see his prisoner die, and Charles rejoined, **You 
are not my prisoner, but my brother and my friend. 
I have no other wish than to give you liberty with 
all the satisfaction you can desire." The interview 
lasted about half an hour, and the personal charm 
of Francis made a decided impression on the younger 
man, who departed with many assurances of good 
feeling and of his desire that the forthcoming nego- 
tiations with Madame la Duchesse d'Alen^on would 
lead to the speedy release of Francis. 



ii8 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

The next day, September 19th, Margaret made 
her entry into Madrid. She was attired very simply, 
as a widow, in deep black, with a long white veil, 
and wore no jewels. The grace, dignity, and sim- 
plicity of her appearance produced a deep impression 
upon the solemnity-loving Spaniards. The Emperor 
also appears to have been favourably impressed, 
but he was more of a Fleming than a Spaniard, and 
was capable of pursuing a fixed purpose quite regard- 
less of the passing emotions of the hour. The 
task Margaret had undertaken was not rendered 
easier by her mother having offered her in marriage 
to Charles V. almost before the grave had closed on 
poor d'Alen9on. Nothing came of the offer, which 
seems to have been disregarded from the outset. 
Charles was, in fact, on the point of marriage with 
his sister's step-daughter Isabella, Infanta of Por- 
tugal. Margaret now found herself in the presence 
of a character such as hitherto she had never met 
with. Slow, deliberate, obstinate, tenacious, with- 
out brilliancy or imagination, Charles was a new 
phenomenon in her life. She had been accustomed 
to carry everything before her with her winning 
grace and charm. She now found her way barred 
by the granite wall of Charles's will. It was not that 
he was deaf to her eloquence, insensible to her 
charm, or blind to her beauty. He said he had not 
thought it possible a woman could speak so well. 
He greatly admired her dignity and beauty, but he 




CHARLES V. 

From the Painting by Holbem 



LOUISE OF SAVOT AND HER DAUGHTER. 119 

held on with bull-dog tenacity to what he wanted, 
and to his power, through the imprisonment of 
Francis, to exact it. 

The prolonged humiUation of her sojourn in 
Spain, its ultimate failure in securing the release of 
her brother, her powerlessness to move the Emperor 
one hair's-breadth from the path of his own interest, 
left a bitterness towards him in Margaret's mind 
which she never showed to any other human being. 
From that time she hated Charles V., and never 
forgot her hatred. Even after long years, when an 
apparent reconciliation had been effected between 
the Sovereigns, and the Emperor visited the King of 
France at Villeneuve, Margaret, although she ac- 
companied her brother, refused to see Charles. On 
another occasion, when Charles passed through 
France on his way from Spain to the Netherlands, 
Margaret did not avoid seeing him, but she did not 
fail to render him uncomfortable and ill at ease, 
twitting him by contrasting the courtesy of his re- 
ception with the harsh treatment she and Francis 
had received at Madrid. 

When Margaret first visited Francis in his prison 
he was so seriously ill that even his sister's presence 
failed to rouse him. His life was despaired of ; the 
last sacrament was administered, and from that hour 
he began to amend. A miracle was claimed by the 
pious, and it was said that the consecrated wafer 
arrested Francis on the road to death and set his face 



I20 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

once more towards life and health. Francis himself, 
however, always averred that his sister saved his life 
by her devotion and care. As Brantome says : '* In 
BO piteous a state did she find her brother that had 
<ihe not arrived he was a dead man ; for she under- 
stood his temperament and complexion better than 
all his physicians, and caused him to be so well 
treated according to her own knowledge that he was 
speedily cured." 

The great difficulty in securing the release of 
Francis was to arrive at terms to which both he and 
Charles could consent. What Charles demanded, the 
cession of French territory, Francis swore he would 
never grant. The firmness of Charles suffered a 
shock from the illness of Francis. If the King of 
France died, the very ground of Charles's exactions 
ceased to exist. But with the King's recovery 
Charles's demands recovered too. Margaret advised 
her brother to remain in feeble health as long as 
possible. Writing from Toledo, where she had fol- 
lowed Charles, she says, ** I beseech you, Monseig- 
neur, affect a feeble and ailing deportment while in 
the presence of Sieur Alar^on [the governor of the 
prison] as your weakness will hasten my negotia- 
tion.*' In this and other letters she frequently 
refers to herself as her brother's " little hand," his 
"great hand" being Montmorency. 

But this plan of feigning illness could not serve 
their turn permanently. An escape was planned, 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 121 

but failed ; its only result being to deepen the anger 
and suspicion of Charles. It was then that Margaret 
had the thought, and pressed it on her brother with 
all her eloquence, that there was a way of getting 
the better of his opponent short of death, and that 
was by abdication. If Francis abdicated, his son 
would reign in his stead, and Charles would no 
longer be in possession of the person of the reigning 
sovereign of France. Letters patent were actually 
drawn conferring the throne upon the Dauphin, with 
Louise as Eegent and guardian of the royal chil- 
dren ; in the event of the death of Louise while the 
Dauphin was still a minor, her authority was to be 
transferred to '* our very dear and very beloved sister, 
Margaret of France, Duchess of Alen^on and of 
Berry." This deed of abdication was entrusted to 
Montmorency for transmission to Paris. A copy 
was allowed to come under the eye of Charles. He 
was in consternation. But the danger was not as 
great as he feared. Francis had been worked upon 
by the enthusiastic spirit of Margaret to consent to 
abdication, and actually to sign the deed and 
despatch it to Paris ; but it contained a clause which 
made it meaningless, namely, that it should be null 
and void if and when he regained his liberty. 
Francis had nothing of the martyr in his com- 
position, and had no notion of spending the rest of 
his life in prison, and Charles discovered that his 
prisoner was as anxious as ever to come to terms. 



122 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

Internal troubles in France encouraged Charles to 
abate none of his demands. Margaret had audiences 
of him, and likewise pleaded her brother's cause 
before the Spanish Council. The terms finally 
arranged were : — 

1. A marriage between Francis and the Em- 

peror's sister, Eleanor, Queen Dowager of 
Portugal. 

2. The renunciation by Francis of all rights 

over Milan, Naples, Genoa, and Asti, to- 
gether with the suzerainty over Flanders, 
Artois, and Tournay. 

3. The cession of the Duchy of Burgundy. 

4. Montpensier to be pardoned and his estates 

restored to him. 

As a guarantee for the fulfilment of the terms, the 
King's two elder sons were to be given up as 
hostages, and Francis himself was to return and 
give himself up as a prisoner in the event of the 
non-fulfilment of the treaty.* The utmost result 
of Margaret's diplomacy was to include in the terms 
the marriage of Francis and Eleanor. At first 
Charles held out against the marriage of his sister 
to Francis, and declared that he had promised her 
hand to Montpensier. But Eleanor herself had 
something to say to this, and positively declined the 
match. She had been won by Margaret's glowing 

* ** Cambridge Modem Hiatory," Vol. II, p. 51. 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 123 

descriptions of her brother, and was in love with 
Francis without ever having seen him. More so 
than she was, or had cause to be, poor lady, after 
she had married him. Francis treated both his 
wives with persistent neglect, and Eleanor of Por- 
tugal, in particular, with cold unfriendliness. She 
became his official wife and Queen of France, but 
nothing more. 

Before the treaty was ready for signature, 
Margaret had been obliged to leave her brother. 
Her safe-conduct was only good for four months, 
and expired on the last day of 1525. The time had 
nearly run out. Her experience of Charles did not 
lead her to place any confidence in his generosity. 
Francis even urged her to leave him. Brantome 
says that the Emperor " meant to play her a trick, 
because not reflecting on the expiration of her safe- 
conduct and passport, she took no heed that the 
time was elapsing. But getting wind that the 
Emperor meant to arrest her, she, always 
courageous, mounted her horse and rode in eight 
days a distance which should have taken fifteen ; 
which effort so well succeeded that she reached the 
frontier of France very late in the evening of the 
day her passport expired, thus circumventing his 
Imperial Majesty. ... I heard this tale from 
Mme. la Seneschale, my grandmother, who was 
with her at that time as lady of honour.*' 

Like other tales, however, this one had lost 



124 ^^^^ FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

nothing in the telling. Margaret had an adven- 
turous ride from Toledo to the French frontier. She 
rode through the Pyrenees in December, and was 
often in the saddle from 6 a.m. till nightfall. But 
she reached the little frontier town of Salses with 
ten days to spare. The reason for her haste was 
that her safe-conduct was so worded that it became 
invalid if the person in whose favour it was drawn 
committed any act prejudicial to the Emperor, his 
subjects, or his dominions. It was hinted to 
Margaret that Charles might forfeit her safe-conduct 
on account of the help she had given her brother in 
his unsuccessful attempt at escape. Hence her 
romantic gallop across Spain in mid-winter. She 
was received with unbounded enthusiasm in France, 
which she found desolate for the loss of its king ; a 
body without a head. She wrote to Francis that 
she had been received as a forerunner of himself, 
as the Baptist was of Jesus Christ. 

Her journey never interfered with her innumer- 
able letters to her brother. Louise, with her usual 
unscrupulousness, had previously written to Francis 
advising him to agree to all that Charles demanded, 
and to break his word as soon as he was free. 
Margaret at first gave better advice. She coun- 
selled her brother to stand firm. She was hoping 
for help both from Italy and England. Patience 
and delay, she urged, would be followed by changes 
favourable to Francis. But before she left Spain 



/ 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND IIEIi DAUGHTER. 125 

she also wrote to her brother advising him to con- 
sent to everything — * * that compact cannot be bad 
which restores you to France, neither can any be 

good while you are detained in Madrid 

Seeing how indispensable your presence is to your 
friends, and how little impression your prolonged 
prison makes on your enemies, I do not fear to 
trouble you with this long letter to implore you to 
consent to whatever they may please to propose." 
She does not say in so many words ' * promise every- 
thing and break your word as soon as you are 
free," but it can hardly be doubted that her letter 
was intended to have this meaning read into it. 
Francis was nothing loth. When his better self 
urged him to promise everything, and to get free at 
all costs, he was not likely to set up a stricter 
standard of honour. So the treaty of Madrid was 
signed by the French ambassadors in Spain before 
Margaret was out of the country, on December 19th, 
1525. It required the ratification of Francis, which 
was postponed until January 14th. Before putting 
his signature to the treaty, Francis assembled his 
counsellors in his prison chamber and told them 
that he did not mean to keep his word. He had, 
indeed, signed away half his dominions. Some 
rumour of what Francis intended must have reached 
the ears of Charles, for he did what was very un- 
usual. According to Spanish historians, at the 
final parting with Francis, after all the kissing and 



126 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

compliments were over, the Emperor suddenly 
turned to his former prisoner and said, " We have 
hitherto treated together as princes. Let us now 
speak as man to man. Confess to me on the faith 
and honour of a gentleman, is it your intention to 
execute our treaty? " They were standing in the 
open roadway near a crucifix, and Francis looking 
at it took a solemn oath as a gentleman faithfully 
to execute the treaty. "Then," continued the 
Emperor, with his usual dogged persistency, "if 
you fail to do so, I may say that you have been false 
to your honour as a gentleman as well as to your 
treaty as a king." " You may," rejoined Francis. 
This was on February 19th, 1626. 

Francis was royally entertained by the Spanish 
nobles on his progress towards the French frontier 
at Fontarabia, where the exchange of his person for 
that of the two little princes had been arranged. 
He did not reach the appointed place till March 16th. 
The ceremony was fixed for the 17th : a barge 
was moored in the middle of the little river 
Bidassoa, and the King, accompanied by his former 
gaoler and an armed escort rowed to it from the 
Spanish side, while his two little boys, also guarded 
by Spanish soldiers, were rowed to it from the 
French side. Francis was not allowed even to em- 
brace his children ; but he was too full of glee at 
his recovered liberty to make much trouble of this. 
The Dauphin was not to him what he had ever been 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 127 

to Louise, " My Lord, my King, my Caesar, and my 
son." No sooner did his feet touch French soil 
than he leapt on a swift horse, and waving his hat 
with the shout, ** Once more a king," he galloped 
away for St. Jean de Luz.* All France went mad 
with joy. The churches were filled with people 
singing ** Te Deums." Margaret and Louise were 
at the height of bliss. Margaret in her poetical way 
said that the sun had arisen again and caused all 
nature to revive ; no one seems to have been dis- 
turbed by anxieties about the little princes. Francis 
distributed honours and rewards to all who had 
faithfully served him during his captivity. His 
mother was always to have her seat at his council 
table. Margaret was made, in addition to her other 
dignities. Countess of Armagnac in her own right. 
Charles soon began to press Francis for the ful- 
ment of the Treaty of Madrid, and the language of 
Francis on the subject left no doubt as to his inten- 
tion of breaking his word. ** A captive in bondage," 
he said, " has no honour, and can bind himself to 
nothing." He said he could not give up Burgundy 
without the consent of the estates of the province, 

♦The menu of a "hasty meal" prepared for the King at this 
place suggests that imprisonment had not impaired his appetite. 
Among other dishes the following were provided : — 200 oysters, 
nine lampreys, nine lbs. of turtle, eighteen roach, forty-five mullets, 
six plaice, two cod-fish, two salmon, besides pike, chad, herrings, and 
barbels. There were also a sturgeon pie, an apple pasty, custards, 
fruits, six lbs. of white sugar, and eight gallons of claret. 



128 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

and this consent was, of course, withheld. He re- 
proached Charles, through his ambassador, with the 
ungenerous treatment he had received as a prisoner, 
and contrasted it with the chivalrous conduct of the 
English Black Prince when John, King of France, 
was his prisoner in London. He also complained 
of the discourtesy shown to Margaret during her 
sojourn in Spain. He was using all his diplomacy 
to create a combination, called the Holy League, 
between France, England, Switzerland, the Pope, 
Florence, Venice, and the Duke of Milan, against 
Charles. In order to secure the friendship of 
Henry VIII. , Francis offered him the hand of his 
sister Margaret in marriage and his aid with the 
Pope in securing his divorce from Catherine of 
Aragon, the aunt of Charles. Margaret had every 
reason to object to this arrangement. She was in 
love with the King of Navarre, and she had a keen 
feeling of respect and sympathy for Catherine ; but 
she did not dare to oppose her brother openly ; her 
portrait in her becoming widow's dress was sent 
" on approval " to Hampton Court. She was saved 
from the match she disliked more by Anne Boleyn 
than by herself. 

As months, and even years, passed on, and 
Francis did nothing in the direction of the fulfil- 
ment of the treaty, Charles became more and more 
enraged. The treatment of the little princes, which 
at first had been sufficiently liberal, became harsh 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTEB. 129 

and severe. All their French attendants were dis- 
missed, and they were shut up in a dismal room 
lighted only by one small window eighteen inches 
square. Francis endeavoured to negotiate their 
ransom, but Charles doggedly replied that it was not 
ransom he wanted, but the fulfilment of the treaty ; 
and in default that Francis should keep his word 
and give himself up again as a prisoner. With 
scorching words Charles addressed the messenger of 
Francis on what he thought of * ' the hero so jealous 
of his glory, the cavalier who considers the maxims 
of honour as sacred and inviolable . . . who 
basely and treacherously had broken every condition 
to which he had agreed while a prisoner." On 
these words being repeated to Francis he thought it 
incumbent on him as a gentleman and man of 
honour, not to keep his word, but to challenge 
Charles to single combat. To the astonishment and 
confusion of Francis, Charles accepted the chal- 
lenge. The King's council were unanimous in de- 
claring that the duel could never be allowed to take 
place ; but now it rested with Francis, who had sent 
the challenge, to back out of it. An excuse was 
made that the rules of heraldry had not been duly 
observed by Charles and his representative in their 
method of accepting the challenge. This absurd and 
undignified incident was brought to an end in Sep- 
tember, 1528. There can be little doubt that 
Charles seriously wished to fight; he asked Cas- 
J 



130 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 

tiglione, the author of "II Cortegiano," to be one 
of his seconds. The part of Francis in the matter 
was probably mere play-acting throughout. 

It was not till 1530 that the young princes were 
ransomed after four years' captivity, and then, as 
already related, an attempt was made to pay their 
ransom in debased coin. For a king who prided 
himself on being before all things a perfect gentle- 
man and man of honour this is hard to beat. 
Francis, in the whole of his negotiations with 
Charles, showed himself mean and treacherous to 
the last degree, and yet we read in the very his- 
torian who sets forth the details of the foregoing 
narrative, that whatever may have been his faults, 
* ' he never deviated from the refinement and cour- 
tesy of the perfect gentleman." 

QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 

When Margaret left Spain and rejoined her 
mother at Lyons, at the end of the year 1525, she 
almost immediately made the acquaintance of 
Henry d'Albret, the young King of Navarre. He 
had been with Francis at Pa via, had fought by his 
side, and had shared his fate, having been both 
wounded and a prisoner. He was handsome and 
winsome, brave and strong; his servants all wor- 
shipped him. He had been imprisoned in the 
Castle of Pavia; but no castle could hold him. 
Bribes to guards, a devoted page with whom he ex- 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 131 

changed clothes, a dash through the guardroom, a 
rope ladder, a fearful leap, a swift horse, and Henry 
of Navarre was galloping towards Lyons on the 
way to liberty and the court of Louise of Savoy. 
Charles V., when he met him a few years later, 
said, " I have only met one man in France, and that 
man is the King of Navarre." When he and Mar- 
garet met, in 1525, he was twenty-two and she was 
thirty-three. He fell in love with her ; but as he 
fell in love with every handsome and agreeable 
woman between sixteen and sixty whom he ever 
met, there was nothing singular in this ; it was of 
more importance that she fell in love with him. 
There was almost everything in him to attract her : 
his devotion to Francis, his romantic escape from 
prison, his interest in learning, his sympathy with 
the Beformation, and his lively desire to improve the 
condition of the little mountain province which 
called him King. He would remit taxation, found 
libraries and printing presses, reform the laws, 
establish manufactures, improve the breed of cattle, 
and develop agriculture. He must have been a most 
attractive lad, with his vivacious Southern blood and 
overflowing vitality and his devotion to Margaret 
which, she did not then know, had no trace of ex- 
clusiveness about it. She had, as we have seen, 
some serious opposition to her marriage to over- 
come. Francis had other designs for her, but these 
designs for one reason or another were abandoned ^ 



132 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

and Margaret married the man she loved about a 
year after the release of Francis, in January, 1527. 

We have seen how tenderly she loved her 
brother's children. One of her most charming 
letters to Francis during his captivity describes their 
illness and recovery from measles. 

"They are all quite cured novs^," she writes, 
" and very healthy. M. le Dauphin does marvels, 
mingling with his studies a hundred other exercises ; 
there is no question now of temper, but of all the 
virtues. M. d' Orleans [afterwards Henry II.] is 
nailed to his book, and says he wants to be wise; 
but M. d'Angouleme [aged four] knows more than 
the others, and does and says things wonderful for 
his age, rather than childish prattle which, mon- 
seigneur, you would be amazed to hear of. Little 
Margot [afterwards Duchess of Savoy] is growing 
like me; she also follows my example, and always 
refuses to be ill. They tell me here that she has 
very good grace, and is growing much handsomer 
than Mademoiselle d'Angouleme [herself] ever was." 

How strange that this perfect aunt should have 
been anything but a perfect mother. Her slavish 
devotion to Francis was answerable in thfe main for 
both perfection and imperfection. Her first child, 
Jeanne, was bom at Fontainebleau in January, 
1528. Her letter to Francis saying that she cannot 
believe that her child will presume to be born with- 
out his command is quoted on another page. She 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 133 

refers to a long letter she had received from Francis, 
and says she will cause it to be read to her, instead 
of the ** Life of St. Margaret," when the pains of 
childbirth assail her. After the birth of the baby 
it was almost immediately put under the care of 
Madame de Silly, Baillive of Caen ; at two years old 
Jeanne was parted from her mother completely, and 
shut up by Francis in the gloomy fortress palace of 
Plessis-les-Tours, from which her parents were not 
allowed to remove her. Francis dreaded that Henry 
d'Albret, Jeanne's father, if he had control of her 
person, would betrothe her to Philip, Prince of Spain, 
the son of Charles V. 

Poor little Jeanne never received a mother's 
tenderness. Once, when she was about nine years 
old, she had a dangerous illness, and Margaret, on 
hearing of it, announced her intention of visiting 
her daughter, and this she did, setting out without 
an hour's delay, notwithstanding, says the admiring 
biographer, that it was raining hard. Jeanne re- 
covered, and was already out of danger when her 
mother arrived. The illness procured for the child 
the extraordinary indulgence of a visit from her 
mother which lasted nearly a fortnight. Margaret's 
cruelty in forcing Jeanne, by repeated whippings, 
to marry the Duke of Cleves, has been already re- 
ferred to. It is not surprising that Jeanne did not 
share in the enthusiastic adoration which her mother 
inspired in other quarters. She was too proud to 



134 Fiy^ FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 

tell lies and to pretend what she did not feel. Her 
chief feeling in regard to her mother, in after years, 
was a resolve to see justice done to Margaret's 
literary position. When she was Queen of Navarre 
in her own right, she collected the MSS. of 
Margaret's poems and stored them in an iron chest, 
which was discovered not very many years ago in 
Paris. When, nineteen years after the death of 
Margaret, a literary pirate brought out her collection 
of stories called "The Heptameron " as his own, 
Jeanne came to the rescue, and caused the production 
of a new edition, in which her mother's name as the 
author was restored to its rightful place. 

Jeanne's was not a cold nature, and if she did 
not give Margaret her love it was because her mother 
had never earned it. 

Margaret had little happiness as a mother. What 
she might have had she neglected, and her other 
children died in infancy. A boy was born on Christ- 
mas Day, 1530, but only lived for five months; she 
had twins twelve years later, who hardly survived 
their birth. Margaret's grief for the death of her 
son was vehement and lasting. But she tried to 
submit herself to her sorrow. The death of the 
prince was announced with the words, ** The 
Lord hath given and the Lord hath taken away," 
and she tried to persuade herself, by having a " Te 
Deum " chanted, that she was thankful that her 
little boy had been removed from the trials and 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND IIEIt DAUGHTER. 135 

dangers of this world. Francis was at his best when 
his affections were really touched, and his letter to 
Margaret on the death of her son shows genuine 
feeling. He reminds her of her sympathy with him 
when he lost two children, and says that as all that 
is his is also hers, so hers is his ; her sorrow for this 
child is his, and he accounts the little prince just 
dead as the third of his own, whom God had called 
to join the glorious company above. ** My darling," 
he writes, "wipe away your bitter tears; render 
obedience to God ' ' ; and he counsels her to try to 
seek relief from her sad thoughts by attendance on 
their mother, who was then lying very ill at Fon- 
tainebleau. 

The last signal service which Louise was able to 
render her son was the conclusion of the treaty with 
Charles V., at Cambray, in August, 1529. The 
negotiations were conducted on both sides by ladies, 
and it was hence called *'The Ladies' Peace." 
Louise, Duchess of Angouleme, accompanied by 
the King and Queen of Navarre, represented Francis, 
while Charles V. was represented by his aunt, 
the Archduchess Margaret of Austria, Governess 
of the Netherlands. It was then that the pro- 
ject of marriage between Francis and Eleanor of 
Portugal was reopened, and the money ransom 
of the young princes promised in lieu of the cession 
of Burgundy; it was, however, stipulated that if 
the marriage of Francis and Eleanor resulted in 



136 JIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

the birth of a son, he should succeed to Burgundy 
to the exclusion of the sons of Francis by his first 
wife. Francis once more, as in the Treaty of Madrid, 
renounced all his pretensions in Italy, and his 
suzerainty over Flanders and Artois ; but he retained 
the disputed possessions of Bourbon. Peace on 
almost any conditions was welcome to both 
countries; but the terms, as compared with the 
Treaty of Madrid, were favourable to France. 

The young princes and Eleanor of Portugal 
arrived at Fontarabia in March, 1530, but were 
kept waiting on the Spanish side of the river for 
four months owing to the chicanery already related 
of the representatives of Francis in trying to pay 
the ransom in debased coin. When once this un- 
toward incident had been dealt with to the satisfac- 
tion of the Spaniards, the crossing of the river by 
the Queen and her two future stepsons was con- 
ducted with great splendour and gorgeous cere- 
monial. Their reception on the French side of the 
river left nothing to be desired. The actual land- 
ing of the Queen of Portugal was on territory within 
the little kingdom of Navarre, but the King and 
Queen of Navarre were not there to welcome her. 
Margaret was at Blois awaiting the birth of her 
second child, and the King of Navarre was in attend- 
ance on Francis. Louise was also absent. She 
was ill, and it may be hoped that she was ashamed, 
with that million and a half of gold crowns in her 



1 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 137 

cash box, that she had contributed nothing to the 
two millions required for the ransom of her grand- 
sons. Francis met his bride near the Abbey of 
Captieux, and the marriage ceremony was per- 
formed there. Francis treated his new wife with 
coldness and aversion from the first. He cordially 
hated Charles V., and as Eleanor of Portugal was 
his sister, and in a sense his representative, some 
of the detestation he aroused in Francis was trans- 
ferred to her. The insolence of Francis in making 
his mistress, Mademoiselle de Heilly, afterwards 
Duchess d'Estampes, one of .the Queen's ladies of 
honour from the day of her arrival in France was 
resented by Eleanor, but not resisted. She bore the 
insult with gloomy dignity ; then Francis complained 
of her that she was not sprightly and cheerful. 

Margaret, while at Blois, wrote almost daily to 
Montmorency, who was now grand master of the 
household, to prefer requests for posts and appoint- 
ments for one or other of her numerous clients and 
dependants. From the husband of the washer- 
woman of the late Queen Claude to men who 
aspired to be treasurer, or governor to the princes, 
she had proteges in every rank, and was never 
weary of trying to secure good appointments for 
them. It was doubtless owing to her that one of 
the most learned of the French Keformers, Lefevre, 
was appointed tutor to the King's youngest son, 
Margaret's pet, *' M. d'Angouleme." Her benevo- 



138 FIVE Famous FRENdn women. 

lence was no mere gratification of a good-natured 
impulse at the expense of someone else. Lef^vre, 
for instance, she surrounded with every sort of 
personal kindness to the end of his long life. When 
he had to relinquish his tutorship to the little prince, 
she received him as her librarian at Blois; when 
the fires of persecution waxed hotter, and he was no 
longer safe in France, she made a home for him 
in her own home, first at Nerac, then at Pau. He 
lived to be a hundred and one, but Margaret's hos- 
pitality never wearied. She delighted in his con- 
versation and in the simplicity and purity of his 
character. He said to Margaret a few hours before 
his death that now, when he was on the point of 
quitting this world, he could not remember any sin 
which lay upon his conscience, except that he had 
fled from persecution, when so many others had 
stayed and suffered death. Margaret consoled him 
with wise and gentle words, so that he presently 
said, ** There is nothing left to me to do but to go 
to my God Whom I hear calling me." He then 
gave directions about the disposal of his property, 
leaving his books to Eoussel, and to Margaret 
* * the trouble of distributing my possessions among 
the poor." Afterwards he fell asleep, and sleeping 
died. He was buried in the Cathedral of Lescar, 
and his Queen was his chief mourner. 

The death of Louise, which took place in 1531, 
was quite of another kind. Margaret's letters from 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER 139 

1525-31 contain frequent allusions to her mother's 
bad health. She was not old, being only fifty-five at 
the time of her death, but she had been for years a 
martyr to gout and allied disorders, and often suffered 
agonies of pain. No one was allowed to mention 
the subject of death in her presence. Preachers 
were warned that if they desired the favour of 
Madame they must avoid all reference to the un- 
welcome topic in their sermons. She declared that 
preachers only brought in the subject of death when 
they were gravelled for lack of matter, and ex- 
claimed scornfully, "as if everyone did not know 
that the fate of all is to die." The physicians wait- 
ing on her carefully concealed from her the serious 
nature of her illness, and, indeed, confidently 
promised her recovery. She arrived at Fontaine- 
bleau in June, 1531, restless and wretched in mind 
and i)ody. Between the paroxysms of the pain 
which prostrated her, she would assemble poor 
people "afflicted with grievous wounds, which she 
dresses with her own hands, in order to try the 
efficacy of an ointment which she believes possesses 
singular virtue. "But nothing happens that does 
not seem to add to her depression," wrote Margaret 
to her brother, at the same time beseeching him not 
to let their mother know what she was telling him. 
By September Louise was much worse, and had 
no choice but to take to her bed. It was obvious 
to everyone that she was dying. But she was 



140 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 

hurried away from FoDtainebleau in consequence of 
the outbreak of the plague there. Margaret said in 
one of her letters to Montmorency she dared noi 
write to the King, and scarcely to him, fearing her 
letter might convey infection. It was intended to 
take Louise to her old home, the dower house at 
Eomorentin, in Berry, where her youth was spent; 
but she never lived to get there. With the egotism 
of her time and rank, she saw in the comet of 1531 
an omen sent especially to her to warn her of her 
approaching death. At Gr^s, a little village near 
Nemours, she announced to her attendants that she 
recognised that her end was near. * ' That is a 
sign," she said to her women, referring to the 
comet, ''which appears not to warn persons of 
mean condition : God sends it to admonish us, the 
great of the earth. Close the window. . . I 
must prepare myself for death." A day or two 
later, on September 22nd, 1531, she expired. Her 
body was buried at St. Denis, but her heart was 
enclosed in a small leaden coffer and placed in the 
earth at the foot of the steps of the high altar in 
Notre Dame, in Paris. It was found and opened 
about one hundred and fifty years later; but it was 
carefully replaced, and it is believed that it still 
occupies its original position, as there was nothing 
external to mark the spot or to attract the destruc- 
tive passions of the revolutionaries or the equally 
destructive zeal of the "restorers." 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 141 

It was about this time, when Margaret was in 
attendance on her sick mother, that she probably 
composed "The Mirror of a Sinful Soul," pub-: 
lished in 1532, a mystical poem which hardly any 
one in the world could read, let alone write, now. 
It is difficult to conceive either the opposition or 
the enthusiastic admiration it aroused. It awakened 
the unappeasable rage of the Sorbonne, because it 
contained no mention of the saints nor of purga- 
tory, and hymns to the Virgin were paraphrased 
to the honour of Jesus. On the other hand, it was 
greatly prized by the Eeformers, and Elizabeth of 
England, at the age of fifteen, translated it from 
French to English, the English version being 
printed in 1548, ten years before she became queen. 
The year 1533 was an eventful one in many ways. 
It was the year of the publication of Margaret's 
poem, and of the attack of the Sorbonne upon her, 
already narrated. It was the year when for the 
last time Francis showed himself inclined to be led 
by his sister to favour the principles of the Keforma- 
tion. From that year the influence of Margaret 
wanes, and that of Montmorency and the opponents 
of reform waxes. It was the year when Nicholas 
Cop, the rector of the University of Paris, and Cal- 
vin had to fly from Paris, and ultimately from 
France, on account of the Lutheran doctrines con- 
tained in the rectorial address delivered before the 
University by Cop, but composed by Calvin. It was 



142 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

the year of the marriage of Henry VIIL with Anne 
Boleyn; and it was the year, too, which marked a 
decided step taken by Francis to emphasise his 
alliance with the papacy. He broke his promise to 
his sister to marry his second son Henry, Duke of 
Orleans, to her daughter, Jeanne, and married the 
lad to the Pope's niece, Catherine de Medici. 

Henceforward, another influence, more subtle, 
and infinitely less benign than Margaret's, was work- 
ing on the plastic nature of Francis. The centre of 
'Margaret's influence became Pau or Nerac, and as 
time went on she counted for less and less with 
Francis. Catherine, child as she was (she was only 
fourteen at the time of her marriage), pursued her 
way without haste and without rest to her ultimate 
goal — power. The wife of a second son, and a 
despised and neglected wife, nothing, at the time of 
her marriage, seemed less likely than that she would 
attain the position of supreme authority she after- 
wards secured. But gradually all obstacles in her 
path were removed ; Francis was dexterously flat- 
tered and constantly amused by her ; her husband's 
elder brother died suddenly and mysteriously, 
whether by her means or by her connivance will 
never be known, but his death certainly served her 
interests. She became Dauphine, and her husband 
next in the succession. She bore her husband ten 
children, and endured with apparent complacency 
his devotion to another woman from boyhood to 



LOUISE 07 SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 143 

middle age. When her husband's death made her 
eldest son king, as Francis II., he and his wife, 
Mary Stuart, were under the tutelage of the Guises, 
and supreme power rested with them, not with her. 
Francis died at the age of 16, and we are told that 
Catherine was " blyeth " at the death of her son. 
It made the boy Charles IX., not yet ten years old, 
King of France, with his mother as Kegent, and her 
goal reached. Such in barest outline was Catherine's 
history from 1533 to the accession of Charles IX. 

She was never in open opposition to Margaret. 
Her soft insinuating manners never made an enemy. 
She was far too astute to put herself into antagonism 
to one who had so long been the most influential 
woman in France; but her nature was essentially 
different from Margaret's at every point, without 
religion, without enthusiasm, and without gener- 
osity; she knew how to influence Francis by 
amusing him; and from childhood to old age she 
mined and countermined first for her own protection 
and afterwards to secure her own ultimate domina- 
tion. From the date of the Medici marriage,) 
Margaret's star was setting, while the star of[ 
Catherine slowly, and at first much obscured by ; 
clouds and mists, was rising. J 

Charles V. affected to pour contempt on the 
Medici marriage as one beneath the dignity of the 
son of the King of France; before it took place he 
pretended to believe it incredible that Francis would 



144 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

take ** a shopkeeper's daughter " for his son's bride. 
But this was a mere absurdity. The Medicis were 
almost of royal standing, and on her mother's side 
Catherine was descended from one of the noblest 
families of France. The Emperor and the King 
were as much as ever at rivalry, though not at open 
war, and each was doing his utmost to secure the 
papal alliance. The gibe of Charles was aimed at 
preventing the marriage. In this he failed, and 
Francis won, but with the bad luck which always 
seemed to dog him in his never-ending struggle with 
Charles, the alliance he had bought was of short 
duration, for Pope Clement VII. died in September, 
1534, less than a year after the marriage of his 
niece with the King's son. 

To show his welcome to his daughter-in-law, 
Francis gave her, on her marriage, the device 
of a rainbow, with a Greek motto, which signified 
" She brings light and serenity." What an un- 
conscious irony ! If he had given her a motto 
signifying ** She brings death and destruction " 
he had been nearer the mark. In those days 
everyone had "devices" and mottoes. Francis 
had a salamander surrounded by flames and 
the motto " Nutrisco et extinguo " ("I feed on it 
and extinguish it"). Margaret had a daisy with 
the motto ** Non inferior a secuius,'" which may 
perhaps be paraphrased by the English line, " We 
needs must love the highest when we see it." The 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 145 

pity was that her " highest " was her brother. The 
mysterious words of the motto of Francis will bear 
almost any interpretation. Polite contemporaries 
said it meant * ' I nourish good and extinguish evil ' ' ; 
but this has nothing to do with flames and sala- 
manders, nor has it any possible relation to the 
King's actual performances. If we look at these, 
the unlucky motto may be interpreted to mean, " I 
feed on good faith and extinguish it." He broke 
faith with almost everyone with whom he had deal- 
ings — with his sister and her husband about the 
Spanish provinces of Navarre, and about the mar- 
riage of his son with their daughter ; with the Pro- 
testants whom he burned in France when at the 
same time he was seeking to enter into an alliance 
with them in Germany ; with Charles V. about the 
Treaty of Madrid and on a hundred other occasions. 
He accused Charles of having instigated the murder 
of his eldest son the dauphin, Francis, whose mys- 
terious death, in 1537, has been just referred to. 
The unfortunate man, an Italian, Montecuculi, ac- 
cused of having been the agent of Charles in this 
matter, was put to death with horrible and unspeak- 
able barbarity; but in less than two years Francis 
received Charles in France with every outward 
demonstration of honour and respect. He outraged 
the conscience of Europe by his alliance with the 
Turk; he outraged the Sultan by treacherously 
betraying that alliance. There was no end to his 



146 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 

perfidy and double-dealing. It may be said of 
Francis that no one ever trusted him without being 
sorry for it. But, as Brantome says, " That is how 
i these great kings govern as they please." 

The Turk was the common enemy of the Chris- 
tian world, but Francis, in his eagerness to secure 
any ally to help him in his war with Charles, had 
entered into secret relations with the Sultan Soly- 
man immediately after the defeat of Pavia ; he had 
renewed these overtures in 1528 and in 1632. The 
Sultan had faithfully carried out his part of the 
understanding. In 1526 an army of 200,000 Turks 
entered the Austrian dominions of Charles. In 1627 
the first famous siege of Vienna by the Turks began ; 
repulsed in 1629, the Sultan again advanced against 
Vienna in 1632. The horror inspired by the Turks 
in Europe was unbounded, and the deep suspicion 
that their attack was prompted by Francis, and car- 
ried out in accordance with a secret alliance between 
him and the Sultan caused a vehement feeling in 
Germany against the French king. The presence 
of Turkish armies in South Germany stayed the 
hand of Charles against the German Lutherans, and 
to gain their support against the common foe he 
made concessions to them in the matter of freedom 
of worship for which they had long struggled in 
vain. Letters are extant between Charles and his 
wife, written in 1632, in which he expresses his 
suspicion of the league of Francis with the Turks, 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 147 

and she replies that Cardinal Colonna had discovered 
the actual treaty itself, details of which she de- 
scribed to her husband. 

The alliance of Francis with the Turk did not 
prevent him at the same time, October, 1532, con- 
cluding a treaty with Henry VIII. of England 
against the Turk. In this instrument the Kings of 
France and England bound themselves to assemble 
an army of 80,000 men ** for the defence and pre- 
servation of our most holy religion, in order to resist 
the damnable machinations and enterprises of the 
Turk, the ancient adversary of our common faith." 
He broke faith with the Turks anew in 1545, by the 
terms of the Treaty of Crespy. For these and other 
acts of treachery the Sultan felt that Francis had 
shamelessly deceived him ; he declined to receive the 
ambassador of Francis, and declared that the con- 
duct of the King had been treacherous and dis- 
honourable, ** worthy only of Christian politics." 

When the war in Italy between Francis and 
Charles reopened, in 1536, Margaret retired with 
her husband to their home ia Navarre. In one of 
her letters to Francis, written within a few days of 
her first arrival in her husband's dominions, she 
naively complains that though she had been five 
days in Beam , she had not yet mastered the Basque 
language. In Pau and Nerac she led a peaceful, 
idyllic existence ; she followed the royal custom 
of France of dining every day in public, and she 



148 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 

welcomed to her table poets, scholars, theologians, 
and politicians. To those who needed help and suc- 
cour she w^as never slow to extend it. One of her 
methods of showing courtesy was rather quaint : 
she would send from her own table, sometimes from 
her own plate, to any guest whom she wished par- 
ticularly to honour, some dainty morsel asking him 
to eat it for love of her. She had always possessed 
great skill in the planning and laying out of gardens. 
At Alen^on she had created an ** earthly paradise," 
and at Blois and Fontainebleau the pleasure grounds 
owed much to her delicate fancy and invention. At 
Nerac and Pau she found delight in the same occupa- 
tion ; and she managed, as it were, to kill two birds 
with one stone, for she employed in her gardens a 
great many poor people who were unable to find 
work elsewhere. She liked to call herself the 
" prime minister of the poor." When alone in her 
chamber, says a contemporary panegyrist, "she 
took up a book instead of a distaff, a pen instead of 
a spindle, and her tablets instead of a needle." 
When in company with her ladies she betook herself 
to needlework, she sometimes told a witty story, or 
recited a poem, or told someone to read aloud. She 
would also at times keep two secretaries employed, 
one in writing down French verses, which she com- 
posed with great facility, the other in inditing letters 
at her dictation to her numerous friends. 

The little mountain kingdom of Navarre was far 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 149 

behind France in commerce and agriculture, and 
Margaret set herself to improve both. Her husband 
at first entered into all these plans with enthusiasm, 
but this gradually cooled ; he more and more pursued 
his own pleasures, and left to her the responsibilities 
of his dominions. To improve the methods of agri- 
culture, peasants from Brittany and other prosper- 
ous parts of France were invited to settle in Beam, 
so that the Bearnois might learn by example as well 
as precept. The manufacture of cloth was also intro- 
duced, and was soon practised with success. In no 
respect did she hold herself aloof from her people. 
She moved about among them almost unattended, 
visiting those who also were sick and always ready 
to help and succour those who were in need. The 
reform of the laws, the suppression of brigandage 
and acts of violence against life and property — 
always more difficult in a mountainous country than 
elsewhere — ^met with her active support, and she 
advised her husband to call the estates of B^arn 
together to devise a means for the improvement and 
regulation of the finances. 

Brantome, whose grandmother was her lady of 
honour, tells several stories about her which are 
very characteristic, and cannot be better told than 
in his own words (Miss Wormsley's translation is 
used) : — 

" I liavo heard tell of her that one of her waiting maids 
whom she much liked, being near to death, she wished to 



I50 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 

see her die . . . and never stirre'd from beside her, 
gazing so fixedly on her face that she never took her eyes 
away from it until she died. Some of her most privileged 
ladies asked her why she took such interest in seeing a 
human being pass away; to which she answered that, 
having heard so many learned persons discourse and say 
that the soul and spirit issue from the body at the 
moment of death, she wished to see if any wind or noise 
could be perceived or the slightest resonance, but she 
had noticed nothing. She also gave a reason she had 
heard from the same learned persons when she asked 
them why the -swan sang so well before its death ; to 
which they answered that it was its soul which strove to 
issue from its long throat. In like manner she said she 
had hoped to see issue or feel resound and hear the soul 
or spirit as it departed; hut she did not.'^ 

There is something both naive and touching in 
the story. The curious simplicity of this learned and 
intelligent woman, who received with absolute faith 
the strange tales she had heard in the discourses of 
philosophers, proves that the age of incredulity had 
not yet dawned. How long was it, for instance, and 
how many swans had to die in silence before the 
myth of the swan song was relegated to its place 
among poetic legends? Margaret, with her ear bent 
to hear the soul issue from the lips of her dying 
maid, was at the parting of the ways between the 
age which believed all things and the age which tries 
to prove all things. Margaret was only at the begin- 
ning of this newer time. She looked and listened for 
the soul, and dearly wished to see or hear it ; but she 
did not. If she had lived a hundred years earlier 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND BEE DAUGHTER. 151 

she would have been able to see and hear anything 
she pleased. 

Another story relates how Captam de Bourdeille, 
the brother of Brantome, when a very young man at 
the court of Eenee, Duchess of Ferrara, met a French 
lady, Madame de la Koche, by whom he was be- 
loved. He brought her to France, and placed her 
in the court of the Queen of Navarre, and then went 
his way, returned to Italy for five or six years, and 
thought no more about her. The lady in the mean- 
time, about three months before her faithless lover's 
return, took to her bed and died. Captain de Bour- 
deille, now a handsome young warrior of twenty- 
four, went to Pau to pay his respects to the Queen 
of Navarre, and met her as she was returning from 
vespers. 

" She who was the most excellent princess in the 
world gave him a hearty welcome ; taking him by the 
hand she led him into the church, where she walked with 
him for an hour or more, questiojiing him about the pro- 
gress of the war in Piedmont and in Italy. ... At 
length, after having conversed with him for some time 
. . . the Queen suddenly paused over the tomb of 
Madame de la Roche, who had died about three months 
previously. Taking my brother by the hand, the Queen 
said : ' Cousin ' (so she called him because a daughter of 
the house of Albret had married into our family of Bour- 
deille), ' do you not feel something move beneath your 
feetr 'No, madame,' he replied. 'Reflect a moment, 
cousin,' rejoined the Queen. ' Madame, I do reflect,' he 
answered. ' I feel nothing move, for I am standing on a 
solid stone.' ' Then I admonish you,' replied the Queen, 



152 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

without keeping him further in suspense, ' that you are 
standing on the tomb of poor Madame de la Roche, who 
is buried here beneath you, and whom you so greatly 
loved ; and since souls have feelings after death, it 
cannot be doubted that so honest a being, dying of cold- 
ness, felt your step above her ; and though you felt no- 
thing because of the thickness of that stone, she was 
moved and conscious of your presence. Now inasmuch 
as it is a pious deed to remember the dead whom we 
have loved, I beseech you to sprinkle her tomb with holy 
water, and give her a Fater Noster, an Ave Maria, and a 
De Profundis, in doing which you will prove yourself a 
faithful lover and a good Christian/ So saying the 
Queen departed, and my brother did not fail to obey 
her/' 

\ The story illustrates Margaret's half poetical, 

\ half cynical mood. ** One foot on sea, and one on 

^ shore, to one thing constant never " : she had proof 

enough of that in her own domestic life. But she 

was more amused than bitter, whether the man were 

Henry of Navarre or Captain de Bourdeille. 

These later years of Margaret's life have an 
almost unbroken gloom. She felt her power 
over her brother slipping away. Her sympathy 
with the Eeformation had been cooled by 
Protestant excesses and crimes, but she still 
made her court the refuge of those who were 
driven out of France for conscience' sake. The 
miserable tale of her forcing a hated marriage 
on her only child is the worst blot on her 
memory. The marriage ceremony — it was no more 
— took place at Chastellerault, in 1540. It marked 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 153 

the downfall of Montmorency. Jeanne was so laden 
with jewels and cloth of gold that she could not, 
perhaps would not, move. Francis called to Mont- 
morency, and ordered him to carry the child to the 
altar. It was meant as an insult, and understood 
as such by all present. Queen Margaret had her 
little thrill of personal triumph, and said to those 
near her : * ' The man who tried to ruin me with my 
brother now serves to carry my daughter to church." 
While Montmorency muttered : ' * It is all over with 
my favour; good-bye to it, say I." He was both 
right and wrong. It was all over with the favour of 
Francis, who in dying warned his successor against 
Montmorency; but the warning was disregarded, 
and all through the reign of Henry II. the Constable 
was more powerful than he had ever been before. 
The festivities, jousts, and processions attendant on 
the marriage of the Princess Jeanne to the Duke of 
Cleves were on a scale of boundless magnificence. 
Francis was always lavish in matters of this kind. A 
rise in the salt tax, which took place immediately 
afterwards, produced a popular impression that it 
had been rendered necessary by the cost of these 
junketings, and the people, in view of the whole 
situation, gave the wedding the terrible nickname of 
'* les noces saUes.'' 

Jeanne was compelled to be present at all the 
fetes and tournaments given on the occasion, but no 
one could compel her to enter into their gaiety. She 



154 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 

sat, sad and sullen, no whit shaken in her deter- 
mined opposition to the alliance forced upon her. 
She was only twelve, but she tnew her own mind, 
and could hold fast to it through all opposition. 

Her mother was untouched, and Jeanne's dis- 
tress left her cold and unsympathetic. Nothing had 
any weight with her compared with the slightest 
wish of Francis. Any demand from him, however 
unreasonable, was certain to be met by her with 
unreasoning subservience. 

When the Duke of Cleves, by his submission to 
Charles three years later, made Francis as anxious 
to break the match as he had previously been to 
insist upon it, Margaret was equally complaisant. 
She avowed, in a letter to her brother, that as long 
as it was the will of Francis that the marriage should 
take place, " we would rather have seen our daugh- 
ter die as she protested she would do than prevent 
her" from carrying out her uncle's designs; but 
since the Duke of Cleves had been ** so infamous 
and vile " as to make his submission to the Emperor, 
Margaret declares anew that she would rather see 
her daughter in her grave than in the power of a 
man who had deceived Francis. 

The Queen of Navarre's slavish devotion to her 
brother was like a canker poisoning her whole 
nature. Personally fastidious, and daintily pure in 
her own tastes and predilections, she cheerfully 
wallowed in the mud of Boccaccian romance in the 



LOUISE OT SAVOY AND EER DAUGHTER. 155 

hope of amusing and diverting him. A dissolute life 
had brought upon him the penalty of premature old 
age. He was ill, morose, melancholy, weary, and at 
the same time wildly restless. He had lost his eldest 
son, and he was estranged from the Dauphin, who 
seldom came near him. His neglected wife shut 
herself up in her own apartments. She bitterly re- 
sented the manner in which the King had treated 
her, and her married life had brought her nothing 
but misery and disillusion. If Francis neglected his 
wife, he distrusted his mistress ; there was an in- 
cessant squalid war between her and the mistress of 
the Dauphin, Diana of Poitiers, which broke the 
court into two rival factions. Francis's youngest 
son, the " Monsieur d'Angouleme " of Margaret's 
earlier letters, had now become Charles, Duke of 
Orleans. He was his father's favourite — wild, gay, 
and high spirited, very much what Francis had been 
in his own youth. He died of plague in 1545, almost 
in his father's arms. 

There was no one but Margaret in the immediate 
family of Francis who could offer him any solace or 
consolation, and she was often at her wits' end to 
think what she could do to soothe him. Sometimes 
he was sunk in lethargy, but more often he wan- 
dered restlessly from place to place, seeking peace 
and finding none. To amuse him, she read him the 
stories of the ** Decameron *' ; then, when the 
amusement .to be had from them was exhausted. 



156 FIVE FAMOUS FUENCH WOMEN, 

Margaret had the idea that she would invent some 
more stories on the same pattern. The *' Hep- 
tameron " was the result of her efforts. The stories, 
and the whole scheme of their construction, were 
an obvious and avowed imitation of the * ' De- 
cameron," with the one important difference that 
Margaret's stories were true, or at least founded on 
fact. They would thus, though less artistic from a 
literary point of view, be more entertaining to 
Francis, who would there read, from the ever- 
flattering pen of his sister, an account of his own 
youthful escapades, escapes, and adventures. Most 
of the tales are unsavoury, to use the mildest pos- 
sible term ; even French critics have described them 
as " yeu ddlicates,** and even ** ords et salles.*' But 
before condemning Margaret too severely the 
standard of decency of the century in which she 
lived must be remembered, and also that she was 
writing for the amusement of Francis. 

The framework of the * * Heptameron ' ' is this : 
The writer supposes that a party of distinguished 
ladies and gentlemen, French and Spanish, have 
met at the baths of Cauterets, in the Pyrenees. On 
separating and returning to their respective coun- 
tries, the French are stopped near the Abbaye of 
Notre Dame de Serrance by finding the river Gave 
in flood ; as the river was not fordable they resolve 
to build a bridge. The workmen say this cannot be 
done in less than ten days. The party of travellers 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 157 

are sure that the time will hang very heavy on their 
hands unless they can find ** some pleasant and vir- 
tuous " occupation to distract them. They consult 
the eldest of their company, Dame Oisille, generally 
identified with Margaret herself. She repHes that, 
having searched for a remedy for ennui all her life, 
she has found nothing so efficacious as the reading 
of the Holy Epistles ; but as she recognises that this 
is too austere a remedy for the young, she suggests 
that, after dining every day at 10 a.m., they should 
disperse each to his or her own private affairs and 
meet again at midday ' * in the beautiful meadow on 
the banks of the river Gave, where the trees are so 
leafy that the sun cannot pierce the shadows or heat 
the coolness; there, seated at our ease, each shall 
tell some story he has known or heard related from 
a trustworthy person." As the company were ten 
in number, and there were ten days, the intention 
was to produce a hundred stories. But either be- 
cause the springs of Margaret's remembrance ran 
dry, or for some other reason, the ten days were 
reduced to seven, and Margaret's book was a " Hep- 
tameron," and not a "Decameron." St. Beuve 
says of her stories that quite apart from their dis- 
tastefulness according to the standard of the present 
time, there is not much in them that is really charm- 
ing; that they are without art, composition, and 
denouement ; at the same time he absolves her from 
any indecency in intention. 



158 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

Their intention, one may be sure, was the 
distraction of her brother, and at the same time, if 
possible, to bring him back to a frame of mind more 
in harmony with her own on the subject of the re- 
form of rehgion. Nearly all the stories of the 
* * Heptameron " turn on the villainies, stupidities, 
and immoralities of monks. Dame Oisille exclaims, 
" Good God, shall we never get out of these stories 
of monks? " The King and his sister had drifted 
far apart in their attitude towards reform. Mar- 
garet, it is true, did not openly break with Kome; 
she conformed outwardly, and was blamed by Beza 
for it. But her sympathies always remained true 
to the cause of reform. Francis had by this time 
given a free rein to the cruellest and bitterest of the 
persecutors. How little effect the very mild remon- 
strance of his sister produced may be judged by the 
fact that the writing of the ** Heptameron," in 1544, 
was immediately followed by the massacre of the 
Vaudois in 1545. 

These simple mountain people were reformers 
before the Eeformation. They had preserved from 
the earliest times a form of the Christian faith 
similar to that which the reformers were seeking to 
make universal. They^ did not believe in Purgatory, 
nor in prayers for the dead, nor in confession, but 
taught that it is sufficient to confess to God, and 
that God alone has the right to excommunicate. 
Among their positive doctrines they believed that 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 159 

every good and holy man was the Son of God, even 
as was Christ Himself, and that the soul of every 
good man is the Holy Spirit of God. They were in 
many respects like Quakers ; they would not swear, 
they would not lie, and their lives were pure and vir- 
tuous. They neither adored the cross nor the ele- 
ments in the sacrament ; they accounted a church 
or churchyard no holier than any other place, for 
they said that the whole earth was equally blessed 
by God. They condemned war, and they had no 
consecrated priesthood. In 1530, when the news of 
the Eeformation first reached them, they received it 
wdth joy, and in 1536 they formally joined the Ke- 
formed Church of Geneva. The Inquisition kept an 
eye on them and waited only a favourable moment 
to plan their destruction. This came in 1545, when 
Francis signed the Treaty of Crespy, which con- 
cluded peace between himself, Charles V., and 
Henry VIII. Cardinal de Tournon, who fifteen 
years earlier had vehemently resisted the bringing of 
Melancthon to Paris, had acted as the minister in 
attendance on Francis, when the terms of this peace 
were arranged. Five years earlier, in 1540, he had 
secured from the King a writ condemning to death 
for heresy the head of every household among the 
Vaudois. Guillaume du Bellay had then come to 
the rescue, and had secured the suspension of the 
iniquitous decree. But du Bellay was now dead ; 
Margaret was away, and Cardinal de Tournon was 



i6o FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 

at the elbow of Francis, acting as his evil genius. He 
urged the King to prove his zeal as a true son of the 
Church, and to justify his title of Most Christian 
King (a little smirched by the alliance vt^ith the 
Turks), by signing a writ condemning to death the 
whole Vaudois population, men, women, and chil- 
dren. This monstrous crime was as near as might 
be carried into execution. Two towns, Cabrieres 
and Merindol, and twenty-two villages were burned 
to ashes, and every man, woman, and child they 
contained put to death ; even babies at the breast 
were not spared. Of the whole community only a 
remnant escaped by flying over the frontiers into 
Switzerland. 

A bitter cry of rage and horror went up. Francis 
declared he had never read the writ which authorised 
the massacre. What must Margaret have felt? 
Where was the dream of her youth that her glorious 
and triumphant Caesar would lead the reform move- 
ment in Europe and procure the purification of 
Christendom from within? The only answer was 
found in the smoking, bloodstained ashes of what 
once were innocent and happy homes. It was not 
only the Vaudois villages which lay in ashes, it was 
Margaret's life and Francis's reputation. 

Not long after this, March 31st, 1647, came the 
death of the King. Henry VIII. had died earlier 
in the same year, and Charles V. was only waiting 
for a suitable moment to carry out his long-cherished 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. i6i 

plan of abdicating his crowns and retiring to a 
monastery to end his days. 

Two of the three young sovereigns who had 
been rival candidates for the Empire in 1519, whose 
strenuous personalities had played such a leading 
part in the history of Europe and of the Eeforma- 
tion for nearly half a century, were now removed, 
and their place knew them no more. With the 
death of Francis, Margaret's life may be said to 
have ended too. She had not been with him 
at the end. With the fitful restlessness of 
disease he had roamed from place to place, stop- 
ping at nearly a dozen different castles in the 
last six weeks of his life. Hunting by day, groan- 
ing and tossing by night, consumed by an un- 
quenchable thirst, the King's misery gave him no 
rest. At one moment he would ardently desire his 
sister's presence and despatch a courier to fetch her ; 
the next another courier would be sent post-haste to 
stop the first. He did, however, send for his heir, 
the Dauphin, and bade him as his dying wish never 
to recall Montmorency, to check the pretensions of 
the Guises, and to remit taxation : admonitions of 
which Henry II. took little heed. 

When Francis died at Eambouillet, Margaret 
was staying in the convent at Tusson. It was a 
fortnight before the news of her brother's death 
reached her. She had been full of anxiety about 
him. One night early in April she dreamed of him, 



i62 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

and saw him standing pale and ghastly at the side 
of her bed. He cried, " Ma soBur, ma sceur! " and 
she awoke trembling and full of renewed apprehen- 
sion. 

When the news of the King's death reached the 
convent, the nuns were afraid to tell her of it ; they 
even told her that he was better. But the place 
must have been full of an air of mystery and con- 
cealment, for she was not satisfied, and despatched 
a messenger of her own to make inquiries at the 
court. She then proceeded to the chapel to pray. 
As she passed through the cloisters she heard the 
sound of bitter weeping. Following the sound, she 
discovered it proceeded from a poor, half-crazy nun, 
whose intellect was unequal to the task of telling 
anything but the truth. ** My sister," said the 
Queen, " what is it that you weep for? " The nun 
looked up and said, "For you, Madame." And 
hiding her face in her veil, she fled. Then Margaret 
knew that her brother was dead. Her sun had gone 
down, and she was left in darkness. She must have 
thought of those earlier days when * ' notre triniU ' ' 
had been so happy, so hopeful, so full of the great 
things they intended to do. Now she was the only 
one left. She was very much alone, her daughter 
was cold and estranged, her husband no longer made 
much pretence of loving her. The jolly King of 
Navarre was by no means inconsolable for the death 
of his brother-in-law. 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER 163 

When the Queen of Navarre visited her nephew's 
court, she very quickly found what a different 
position she occupied in it from that she had held 
when Francis was king. The mistress of Henry II., 
the famous Diana of Poitiers, was now the pre- 
dominant influence there. The King and the whole 
court (including Catherine de Medici) wore Diana's 
colours, quaintly enough the black and white of her 
mourning for her husband ; her crescent, motto, and 
monogram formed part of the architectural ornament 
of the royal palaces, and anyone may see th6m 
to-day, and the D interlaced with the H, on the 
oldest existing court of the Louvre. 

The annulling of the union with the Duke 
of Cleves, and her marriage with the man of 
her choice. Anthony of Bourbon, Duke of Ven- 
dome, gave Jeanne the liveliest satisfaction, but 
awakened little or no interest in her mother. 
Henry II. was glad to get his cousin Jeanne safely 
married to a Frenchman ; the dread of a Spanish 
marriage was ever before his eyes ; he was as much 
set against it as his father had been. 

Princess Jeanne was at this period of her life 
extravagant and wilful. She was heiress of a crown, 
and she spent royally and profusely. She kept up a 
splendid household in Paris, quite regardless of the 
pecuniary losses which her mother had suffered since 
the death of King Francis. It is a little humiliating 
to find Margaret beseeching Montmorency and Diana 



i64 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 

of Poitiers to use their influence with the new king 
for the continuance of the pension, 25,000 livres 
Tournois, which she had enjoyed during the reign 
of Francis. It is difi&cult to discover what had be- 
come of the great revenues Margaret had enjoyed 
during the earlier part of her brother's reign. The 
huge wealth of Louise, to which the estates of Bour- 
bon had been added, had been absorbed by Francis. 
He was a great spending department ; probably all 
the disposable revenues of Margaret had gone the 
same way. It is certain that towards the close of 
her life she was in straits for money. She passed 
much of her time in the convent at Tusson, and 
reduced her expenses to the narrowest limits. Her 
whole expenditure for the year 1548, exclusive of 
pensions and gifts to the poor, only reached 220 
livres Tournois. 

She left the convent at Tusson to receive her 
daughter and her husband at Pau and welcome them 
to Beam ; but the pomp and display of the visit only 
wearied her. She was growing very weak and very 
tired. The well-meaning nuns at Tusson tried to 
console her by talking of the bliss of Paradise. But 
Margaret was very human and healthy-minded ; she 
did not wish to die. To one who talked of death and 
the happiness succeeding it she replied, "All that 
is true, but we shall stay a long time under ground 
before we come to that." Brantome relates this, 
and also that when her attendants told her she must 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 165 

die she replied that those words were most bitter, 
adding that she was not so old but that she might 
live on for many years. She was fifty-seven w4ien 
she died at the Castle of Odos, in Bigorre. Bran- 
tome confidently says she ' ' took her illness looking 
at a comet which appeared at the death of Pope 
Paul III." She no doubt had a stroke of paralysis, 
for he speaks of her mouth being drawn a little side- 
ways. She was speechless for three days. When 
her speech returned she is reported to have said that 
she had protected the reformers more from compas- 
sion than because she shared their beliefs. This is 
asserted by all Catholic historians, and vehemently 
contested by all Protestant historians. What she 
said when she was dying is not of so much import- 
ance as her words and actions when she was in the 
height of her intelligence and vigour. No doubt 
compassion went a long way in influencing Mar- 
garet, if that compassion could be gratified without 
running counter to her brother's wishes or interests ; 
but there was much more than compassion in her 
intercourse with Erasmus, Melancthon, Calvin, 
Eoussel, Lefevre, Marot, the du Bellays, B^za, 
and the Estiennes. If she had had the power 
she would have done much to secure the reformation 
of the church from within, and on spiritual rather 
than on political lines. 

With her faults, which are obvious enough, she 
will always remain a most attractive, pathetic figure ; 



i66 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 



— the Marguerite des Marguerites, the pearl of 
pearls, gentle, joyous, generous, but wrecking her 
life's highest hopes by unmeasured devotion to an 
unworthy idol. If her pearls were wasted on 
Francis, they were not wasted on the learning she 
encouraged, the reformers she succoured, the high 
ideals she nourished in the inmost sanctuary of her 
soul. 



LOUISB OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTEll. 167 



/ 



PRINCIPAL EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF LOUISE 
OF SAVOY, DUCHESS OF ANGOULEME, 
AND OF MARGARET HER DAUGHTER, 
DUCHESS OF ALEN9ON AND QUEEN OF 
NAVARRE. 



1476. — Birth of Louise of Savoy. 

1491. — Her marriage with the Count of Angoul^me. 

y 1492. — Birth of her daughter, Margaret. 

1494. — Birth of her son Francis, afterwards Duke of 
Valois, and King of France. 

1496. — Death of her husband. 

1498. — Death of Charles VIII. Accession of Louis XII. 

1499. — Marriage of the new King with Anne of Brittany, 
the late King's widow. Birth of Princess 
Claude, the heiress of Brittany. 

1500. — Birth of Archduke Charles, afterwards Charles V. 

1509. — Marriage of Margaret with the Duke of AlenQon. 

1514. — Death of the Queen, Anne of Brittany. Marriage 
of Francis, Duke of Valois, with Princess 
Claude. Marriage of Louis XII. with Mary 
Tudor. 

1515. — Death of Louis XII. on New Year's Day. Acces- 
sion of Francis I. His first Italian campaign. 



i68 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 

V 1516. — The Concordat between Francis I. and Pope 
Leo X. 

1519. — Death of the Emperor Maximilian, and election 
as Emperor of his grandson, the Archduke 
Charles, as Charles V. 

1520.— The Field of the Cloth of Gold. 

1522. — Discomfiture of the French army at Milan under 
Lautrec. Appropriation by Louise of 400,000 
crowns intended for his relief. Bitter feud 
between Louise and Charles of Montpensier, 
Constable of France and Duke of Bourbon. 
Louise claims his estates and he goes into 
rebellion. 

1524. — Death of Queen Claude. Francis I. departs for 
Italy, leaving his mother regent. 

s/ 1525. — Defeat of Francis at Pavia, February 24 : his im- 
prisonment in Spain. Death of the Duke of 
Alen^on. Margaret's embassy to Spain. Per- 
secution of heresy becomes more severe in 
France. Secret understanding between Francis 
and the Sultan entered into. 

^ 1526. — Release of Francis. His two elder sons given as 
hostages to Charles V. Treaty of Madrid. 

V 1527. — Death of the Constable Montpensier at the sack 
of Rome. Marriage of Margaret with Henry 
d'Albret, the King of Navarre. 

•y 1528. — Birth of Margaret's daughter, Jeanne d'Albret, 
afterwards Queen of Navarre in her own right. 
Desecration in Paris of a famous image of the 
Virgin. Reaction against the Reformation. 

J 1529. — The burning of Louis de Berquin. The peace of 
Cambray (the Ladies' Peace). The siege of 
Vienna by the Turks. The founding of the 
College de France. 



LOUISE OF SAVOY AND HER DAUGHTER. 169 

•/ 1530. — The ransom of the Princes and the marriage of 
Francis with Eleanor of Portugal. Birth and 
death of Margaret's son. Renewal of persecu- 
tion of Protestants. 

1531. — Death of Louise of Savoy. 

. V 1532. — Margaret's poem, " The Mirror of a Sinful Soul," 
published. 

1533.— Attack upon Margaret by the Sorbonne and the 
University. The address of Nicholas Cop to 
the University: his flight to Geneva. The 
flight of Calvin to Margaret's protection at 
N^rac. Marriage of Henry, second son of 
Francis I., with Catherine de Medici. Mar- 
riage of Henry VIII. with Anne Boleyn. 

1534. — Affair of the " placards " : further reaction against 
Church reform: period of violent persecution 
sets in. Death of Pope Clement VII. 

1536.— War between Francis I. and Charles V. breaks out 
again. Treaty between Francis and the Sultan. 

1537.— Death of the Dauphin. Charles V. accused of 
having caused his death. 

1538.— Truce between Francis I. and Charles V. 

1539.— Charles V. received by Francis I. with extreme 
honour and ceremony on his passage through 
France to the Netherlands. 

1540.— Enforced marriage between Princess Jeanne and 
the Duke of Cleves. 

1541.— Renewal of war between Charles V. and Francis I. 

1543.— The marriage of Princess Jeanne with the Duke 
of Cleves dissolved by the Pope. 

s/v 1544.— Probable date of the writing of "The Hep- 
tameron." 



I70 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

*' 1545. — Massacre of the Vaudois. 

V 1647. — Death of Francis I. : accession of Henry II. 

1548. — Marriage of Princess Jeanne to Antony of Bour- 
bon, Duke of Vendome. Betrothal of the 
Dauphin Francis to Mary Queen of Scots, 
niece of the Guises. 

V 1549.— Death of Margaret. 



JEANNE D'ALBRET. 



173 



JEANNE D'ALBRET. 

QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 

It has been the fate of Jeanne d'Albret, Queen of 
Navarre, to be known to history and to the gossip 
which enUvens history, chiefly as the mother of a 
famous son, and as the daughter of a distinguished 
mother. Notwithstanding that she was a Queen 
Eegnant, and had a force and vigour of character 
well suited to her station, and to the stirring and 
important years during which she lived, her fame 
is overshadowed by that of a famous mother and 
of a still more famous son. Just as the little inde- 
pendent principality, Beam, which made her a 
queen, was overshadowed by its great neighbours, 
France and Spain, so Jeanne herself is over- 
shadowed by her mother, Margaret of Angouleme, 
poetess and reformer; and by her son, the great 
Henry of Navarre, who became Henri IV. of 
France. She therefore flits through history as " his 
mother, a grand and noble lady." No unenviable 
fate, it may be frankly acknowledged. Still, such 
words awaken curiosity. It is not enough to call 



174 ^^y^ FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 

her "grand and noble," we wish to know what 
made her so. 
\ The little kingdom of Navarre had at one 
I time spread itself on both sides of the Pyrenees. 
" Ferdinand the Catholic had seized the Spanish 
provinces of Navarre fifteen years before the birth 
of Jeanne, and the hope of recovering these lost 
provinces often had an all-powerful influence in 
determining the policy of her father, herself, her 
husband, and her son. The place which the 
recovery of Alsace and Lorraine holds in the 
imagination of the French people was occupied in 
the sixteenth century, in the minds of Jeanne and 
of her house and people, by the hope of recovering 
the provinces of Spanish Navarre. 

In those days, even more than in our own, the 
marriages of princes and princesses were determined 
by political considerations. It was no uncommon 
thing for a woman of forty to be sought in marriage 
by a boy of sixteen, nor for a man of mature years 
to enter into an arrangement to marry a baby 
then in the cradle. The Emperor Charles V., for 
example, was betrothed to a baby in arms, and it 
was at the same time arranged that if that baby 
died he should wed another child of the same house, 
then unborn. It will be easily understood that 
situated as it was on the mountains between France 
and Spain, and holding the key of many of the 
passes between the two kingdoms, the marriages of 



JEANNE D'ALBRET. 175 

the princes and princesses of Navarre should become 
political events of no small importance to the two 
pov^^erful kingdoms flanking her north and south. 

To read Love's Labour's Lost is to under- 
stand hov^, under the most favourable circum- 
stances, a marriage between a king of Navarre and 
a princess of France was sometimes arranged. A 
princess arrives to negotiate a treaty, and the astute 
old courtier, who well understands the rules of the 
game, quickly sees that a marriage treaty would 
include and supersede other treaties of a purely 
political kind. 

There were frequent marriages between the 
royal houses of France and Navarre. That of 
Jeanne's mother had been prompted by affection 
rather than by politics, nevertheless it was not with- 
out its political uses to France. It secured that 
the interests and powers of Navarre should be 
exercised on behalf of France, and above all not 
exercised on behalf of her powerful neighbour and 
rival, Spain. Margaret, Queen of Navarre, never 
ceased to be at heart a Frenchwoman and a de- 
votedly loyal subject of her brother Francis. A 
subject, technically, she was not as regarded the 
principality of Beam ; but a subject she was as 
regarded the Counties of Foix, Armagnac, Albret, 
Bigorre, and Comminges, which she and her hus- 
band held in feudal tenure under the suzerainty of 
the King of France. Queen Margaret showed her 



176 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

devotion to her brother in a manner which reminds 
us of Canute's rebuke to his courtiers. The Queen 
of Navarre was residing at Fontainebleau expecting 
the birth of her child. The King, her brother, was 
absent in Paris occupied by affairs of state. Letters 
constantly passed between them, and in one of these 
the Queen wrote, *' I cannot believe my child will 
presume to be born without your command." How- 
ever, Jeanne, ever a less accomplished courtier than 
her mother, did presume to be born in the palace at 
Fontainebleau on January 7th, 1528, while King 
Francis was still in Paris, and without having re- 
ceived the royal permission to make her entry into 
the world. 

The place where Jeanne was born was not with- 
out its political significance ; the Princess Eoyal of 
Navarre was born in the French king's palace, 
because her loving uncle intended to keep possession 
of her as a hostage for her father's fidelity. As 
years passed, Jeanne's importance grew with her 
growth ; a boy, born to her parents when she was 
about two and a half years' old, only lived a few 
months, and as no other children survived their 
birth, Jeanne was recognised as heiress presumptive 
of her father's throne. 

All the firmer therefore did Francis retain his 
grip on her. The natural desire of her parents to 
take their child with them to B^arn was absolutely 
negatived by the King of France. He insisted that 



JEANNE D'ALBRET. 177 

she should be brought up entirely in France, and 
under his control, and he established the child in 
the royal castle of Plessis-les-Tours, well known, 
as readers of * ' Quentin Durward ' ' need not be re- 
minded, as the gloomy fortress palace of Louis XI., 
near Tours, on the Loire, about 130 miles south- 
west of Paris. The poor little princess was only 
four years old when she was installed at Plessis-les- 
Tours, with a lady of honour, a preceptor, two chap- 
lains, a steward, a master of the horse, tirewomen, 
and other attendants, but with no father and mother 
to pet and love her. The only master of the horse 
required by a baby of four years old would have 
been a master of the rocking horse. Her lady of 
honour, Madame de Silly, Baillive de Caen, secured 
the child's affection, but from the first Jeanne's 
character showed itself the stronger of the two. 
She was very conscious of the dignity of her royal 
birth, fearlessly truthful, fearlessly outspoken, 
and sharp and witty in her retorts. The drilled 
submissiveness of Madame de Silly was often aghast 
at the audacious way in which Jeanne addressed her 
uncle, the King of France, who visited her from 
time to time. He suspected his brother-in-law, 
Jeanne's father, the King of Navarre, of wishing 
to negotiate a marriage for his daughter with Philip, 
Prince of Spain, then five years old, son of Charles 
V. One great inducement to the King of Navarre 
in favouring this marriage was that he believed he 

M 



178 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

could thereby recover the lost Spanish provinces of 
his kingdom. But this marriage would have vir- 
tually incorporated the whole of Navarre with Spain, 
and have given to a future Spanish prince feudal 
rights over several of the southern provinces of 
France ; it was accordingly regarded by Francis with 
determined and ceaseless opposition. The more 
securely to prevent it he informed the King of 
Navarre that he meant to bestow the hand of Jeanne 
on his second son, Henry, Duke of Orleans, after- 
wards Henry II. But Francis, who was everything 
by turns and nothing long, abandoned this proposed 
marriage, and before Jeanne was six years old he 
bestowed her prospective bridegroom on another 
bride, destined throughout her life to be Jeanne's 
evil genius, the far-famed and ill-famed Catherine 
de Medici. It is probable that Francis held out the 
prospect of the marriage of Jeanne with his second 
son just long enough to reconcile the King and 
Queen of Navarre to the establishment of their child, 
out of their own control, in the castle of Plessis-les- 
Tours. 

In 1538, Jeanne being then ten years old, a 
change for the better was made in her lonely and 
miserable childhood. Her aunt, her father's sister, 
Isabel d'Albret, Viscountess de Rohan, with two 
children, came to live at Plessis. One of these 
children, Fran9oise de Eohan, was of an age to be 
a playmate and companion to Jeanne ; but she was 



JEANNE D'ALBRET. 179 

of a timid and shrinking disposition, and Jeanne 
appears to have thought she required a good deal 
of corporal punishment, the administration of 
which she entrusted to no hand but her own. We 
owe the knowledge of these domestic details to a 
valedictory verse written by Mile, de Kohan when 
she left Plessis, in which she declares that the 
oftener she was beaten the stronger grew her love 
for her chastiser, and that she preferred the severity 
of Jeanne's hand to wealth and honour 1 

In these strange and unwholesome surroundings, 
poisoned on the one hand by flattery, on the other 
by the unnatural loneliness and severity of her 
education, Jeanne's character developed more in the 
direction of strength than of sweetness. She was 
always from her infancy extraordinarily tenacious 
in her desires and affections. She passionately 
longed to return to her own home, to be with her 
own parents. She wept for hours in her lonely 
palace at Plessis the bitter tears of childhood which 
blind the eyes to any possible deliverance from 
present affliction. In 1540, when she was about 
twelve, she was surprised by a sudden visit from 
her uncle. King Francis, who informed her that he 
had at last consented to her joining her mother. 
Queen Margaret, at Alen^on, but only on the con- 
dition that she should be immediately betrothed to 
the Duke of Cleves, brother of the Anne of Cleves 
who had just been married to Henry VIII. of 



i8o FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

England. The two marriages were part of one 
political scheme, to unite the Protestant princes of 
Germany and England against Charles V. Jeanne 
at once strongly expressed her repugnance to the 
proposed marriage. But Francis w^as immovable, 
and his will was law. 

Nearly the whole of his reign had been one long 
struggle with Charles V. The enmity between the 
houses of Hapsburg and Valois was hereditary. 
Francis had been defeated by the Emperor at Pavia 
in 1525, had been his prisoner in Spain, and had 
only been set free on condition of leaving his two 
young sons as hostages behind him. His enmity to 
Spain was one of the very few traits of constancy 
in his character, and what particularly recom- 
mended the Duke of Cleves to his mind as a suit- 
able husband for his niece, was that at that moment 
he was in rebellion against Charles V. , the point in 
dispute between them being their rival claims to 
the Duchy of Guelderland. By giving Jeanne's 
hand to the Duke, he strengthened his own position 
in antagonism to Charles, and likewise put an end 
to all danger of her eventual marriage with the 
Prince of Spain. The King of Navarre and the 
national council of Beam for the same reasons 
objected to the marriage. It could be no advantage 
to Navarre to have its future Queen married to a 
prince in rebellion against his suzerain, and that 
suzerain their powerful neighbour, the King of Spain. 



JEANNE D'ALBEET. i8i 

The Duke of Cleves was a Protestant, and this 
recommended him in the eyes of Queen Margaret, 
who had strong sympathies with the reformed 
religion, and no doubt favoured the Protestant 
alUance just referred to. But, all questions of 
religion apart, she then and always supported the 
authority and was guided by the wishes of her 
brother. 

Jeanne had her desire and left Plessis, joining 
the court in Paris for a few days. Here she met 
the Duke of Cleves, and took the opportunity of 
testifying, by her behaviour, how little the pro- 
posed marriage was to her mind. King Francis 
and Madame de Silly, her lady of honour, reproved 
her and tried in vain to control her. She had no 
wish to marry the Duke, and concealment of her 
feelings was always a hard task to her. She was 
then sent on to Queen Margaret, who wrote the 
humblest apologies in excuse for her daughter's 
contumacy. "Having heard, monseigneur, that 
my daughter — not appreciating as she ought the 
great honour which you conferred by deigning to 
visit her, nor the obedience which she owes to you ; 
neither that a maiden ought to have no will of her 
own — was bold enough to utter so senseless a re- 
quest as to beseech you that she might not be 
married to M. de Cleves. . . I entreat you very 
humbly, monseigneur, that for this one unreason- 
able petition she has preferred, and which is the 



i82 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

first fault she has committed in respect to yourself, 
you will not withdraw that paternal favour which 
you have ever manifested towards her and our- 
selves." 

Jeanne, however, remained obdurate. Her 
mother ordered her to be whipped daily ; but she was 
not to be daunted. She had given blows and was 
now prepared to receive them. Notwithstanding her 
opposition, however, all the preparations for the 
betrothal went forward. It was understood that 
although the marriage was to take place almost 
immediately after the betrothal, Jeanne was to 
remain in her mother's care for three years after 
the ceremony. Both before and after the betrothal 
the little princess drew up with her own hand re- 
markable documents protesting earnestly that the 
contract was against her will, that she never had 
consented and never would consent to it, that she 
did not love the Duke of Cleves, and would not 
have him for her husband ; that she yielded to 
threats, not only of a whipping, but of punishment 
so severe as to be likely to cause her death. " There- 
fore," she says in the first of these documents, " I 
protest beforehand, if it happens that I am affianced, 
or married to the said Duke of Cleves in any way or 
manner, it will be against my heart, and in defiance 
of my will; and that he shall never become my 
husband, nor will I ever hold or regard him as such, 
and that my marriage shall be reputed null and 



JEANNE D'ALBRET. 183 

void." This was signed by Jeanne, and witnessed 
by three members of her household. Again before 
the marriage a similar protest was drawn up, signed, 
and witnessed that she only yielded * ' under violence 
and restraint." 

Notwithstanding her protests the marriage 
ceremony took place at Chatellerault on July 16th, 
1540. The poor child was arrayed in cloth of gold, 
and loaded with jewels ; a ducal coronet, decorated 
with costly gems, was placed on her head. Her 
tenacity of will led her to resist to the last. When 
King Francis advanced to lead the bride to the altar, 
Jeanne declared she was unable to walk under the 
weight of gold and jewels with which she was 
covered. Greatly enraged, Francis then ordered 
the Constable Montmorency to carry her to the 
altar ! Thus was the Duke of Cleves wedded. 

Immediately after the marriage ceremony Jeanne 
was placed in her mother's charge, and for three 
years she was under the tutelage of the ablest and 
most accomplished princess of her time, with much 
benefit to herself as regarded her education. 

In the meantime the chances of war favoured 
Jeanne's determination never to regard the Duke of 
Cleves as her husband. In his first battle with 
Charles V. he was badly worsted ; ill-luck continued 
to pursue him ; he never received the military sup- 
port which he had a right to expect from Francis, 
and Charles swore rather to forfeit his crown than 



i84 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

to leave the Duke an inch of territory. He saw 
himself on the brink of utter ruin, and in order to 
save at least his Duchy from being absorbed in the 
dominions of the victorious Emperor, he made an 
absolute and unconditional surrender. Charles 
exacted from him the most humiliating terms, which 
included his renunciation of the reformed religion, 
and the restoration of Koman Catholicism in his 
dominions; his alliance with the King of France 
was to be repudiated, his claims to Guelderland 
abandoned, his treaty -making power curtailed, his 
soldiers to be incorporated in the Imperial army, and 
his chief fortresses to be manned by Imperial troops. 

Francis, who had done nothing else for his 
protege^ had ordered Jeanne to proceed to Luxem- 
bourg and thence to Aix-la-Chapelle for the com- 
pletion of the marriage contract. Her vehement 
protests that she would rather die were un- 
heeded; Francis was proposing to conduct her 
himself from Luxembourg to Aix-la-Chapelle, where 
she was to be handed over to her bridegroom, when 
the news reached Francis of the Duke's submission 
to Charles V. 

The tables were now turned ; Francis became as 
anxious to annul the marriage as Jeanne herself. 
Her reiterated protests, which had been treated as 
waste-paper at the time when she penned them , now 
became important state papers. The French am- 
bassador in Kome was instructed by Francis to ask 



JEANNE D'ALBEET. 185 

the Pope for a bull to declare the marriage void, on 
the ground that violence had been done to the feel- 
ings of the Princess ! Jeanne's joy at the release 
was unbounded, and so also, one may imagine, was 
her contempt for her uncle. Her mother, as usual, 
entirely acquiesced in everything which Francis 
wished. The shadow of this marriage hung over 
Jeanne till the spring of 1545, and, indeed, in a sense 
over the whole of her life; but at Easter, 1545, she 
made her final public protest against it in the chapel 
of the royal chateau at Tours, and shortly after- 
wards the Pope declared the marriage null and void, 
and that Jeanne and the Duke of Cleves were free 
to marry whom they would. A strange and tragic 
story to darken the life of a young girl during the 
years between twelve and seventeen. 

Jeanne was now at last free, and it was not long 
before she became free also from the capricious 
tyranny of her Uncle Francis. He died on March 
31st, 1547, and was succeeded by his second son, 
Henry II., the husband of Catherine de Medici. 
The eldest son of Francis had died in 1536, not 
without suspicion of poison af&xing itself to the 
name of his sister-in-law, Catherine. One may say 
of this lady that throughout her life no one who 
stood in her way could die without the suspicion 
being aroused that she had helped him out of the 
world. Her manners were sweetness itself, "her 
conduct was cited as a model of feminine propriety," 



i86 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

but it was certainly very dangerous and often fatal 
to oppose or thwart her ; she presented the strongest 
possible contrast to the abrupt honesty of Jeanne, 
who said what she meant and meant what she said. 
The succession of Catherine's husband, Henry II., 
to the throne of France did not immediately give 
her a position of political importance. He was 
entirely under the influence of his mistress, Diane 
de Poitiers. [ Catherine made no complaint ; she 
bided her time. She ornamented her dress with 
Diane's monogram, and was the most complaisant 
of wives. "7 She had ten children, the worst of 
all the bad things she did for France, says Dean 
Kitchin. Three of them sat on the throne of 
France, three of the worst kings who ever reigned, 
and the wickedest of the three, Henry III., was 
her favourite son. Her husband died young, after 
a reign of only ten years ; a wound received in 
a tournament proved fatal eleven days after its 
infliction. The reign of the Dauphin, Francis, was 
even shorter. His accession threw supreme power 
into the hands of the Guises, through their niece, 
Mary Stuart, then for a few months Queen of 
France. Francis II. died of some unknown and 
mysterious disorder at the age of seventeen at 
Orleans. Now was Catherine's opportunity, so long 
waited for. The death of Francis II. undermined 
the power of the Guises; Catherine, as Kegent, 
during the minority of the child Charles IX., then 




' /.^M .4- Jj!>t.^Mt 



CATHERINE DE MEDICI. 

From the Drawing by Mauraisse. 



JEANNE D'ALBRET. 187 

only ten years old, became the dominant will in the 
government of France, and the high death-rate in 
royal circles was checked. Catherine was by no 
means a genius, but she knew what she wanted 
and was absolutely unscrupulous in its pursuit. 
She never forgave an enemy, or hesitated at any 
means of getting rid of one. Such was the prmcess 
with whom Jeanne waged a life-long contest.^ 

On the death of Francis I. and the release of 
Jeanne from her supposed marriage with the Duke 
of Cleves, the question of uniting her with Philip 
of Spain, son of Charles V., was again brought 
forward ; but the match was vetoed as positively by 
Henry II. as it had been by his father. Her chief 
suitors were Francis of Lorraine, Duke of Guise, 
and Antony of Bourbon, Duke of Vendome. Of 
the two the Duke of Guise was by far the ablest. 
But the prizes in the court of marriage are not given 
as the result of a competitive examination, and 
Jeanne chose Antony of Bourbon. He was just ten 
years older than herself, of the blood royal, and after 
the King's sons next in succession to the throne. He 
was handsome, dashing, brave, and foolish. The 
magnificence of his dress and jewels was conspicu- 
ous. He was the glass of fashion and the mould of 
form in the French court. His inclination to favour 
the reformed religion recommended him to Jeanne's 
mother, though not then to Jeanne herself. The 
marriage took place at Moulins in October, 1548, 



i88 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

but not without a painful scene with the bridegroom, 
who at the very last moment was seized with violent 
doubts as to the validity of Jeanne's former marriage 
with the Duke of Cleves. All the facts in connec- 
tion with it had been public property for four years ; 
all the world knew that the marriage had been but 
a form and had been annulled by the Church ; 
Antony shared this knowledge, and knowing it had 
become an ardent suitor for the hand of the Princess ; 
it was characteristic of his vacillating, unstable 
character that at the eleventh hour, on the very day 
fixed for the marriage, he should seek to draw back 
from it. However, his scruples were overcome and 
the ceremony proceeded. Immediately after the 
wedding Jeanne's other suitor, the Duke of Guise, 
was betrothed to Anne d'Este, daughter of Een^e, 
Duchess of Ferrara, granddaughter of Louis XII., 
and first cousin on the mother's side to the King of 
France. '* Autre temps, autre mceurs.*' This lady's 
portrait without a stitch of clothing, unless an olive 
branch, a dove, a velvet toque, a gold chain and 
bracelets, can be so described, is preserved in the 
museum of Aix, in Provence, and was exhibited in 
Paris in 1904 in the exhibition of early French Art. 
Jeanne and her husband visited B^am very soon 
after their marriage, and were rapturously received 
by the little principality. The death of Jeanne's 
mother took place about two months after the 
marriage. At the end of two years Jeanne's first 



JEANNE D'ALBRET. 189 

child was born, a son, named Henry, after his 
grandfather the King of Navarre. The child was 
sacrificed to the ignorance of the time. Jeanne con- 
fided him to the care of the same Madame de Silly 
who had been her own lady of honour and governess 
during her childhood. This lady possessed the horror 
of fresh air which still survives among the ignorant ; 
but she had it in a terribly aggravated form. When 
Jeanne's little son was confided to her she lived in 
an apartment of which the windows were rendered 
absolutely air-tight ; it was heated by a stove kept 
burning during the whole day and night, and the 
walls were heavily covered by tapestry. In this 
oven the poor baby was kept, and was never taken 
into the open air even in the finest weather. He 
must have had a strong constitution, for it took 
eighteen months of this treatment to kill him ; very 
soon afterwards the Princess had another son. This 
time Jeanne had learned from experience, and kept 
the child in her own care ; he was a strong and 
^ healthy infant, but he fell a victim, when only a few 
months old, to an accident caused by the carelessness 
of his nurse. He was let fall from her arms and 
fell on a marble pavement. Terror led her to add 
to her fault by concealing it, and the poor baby died 
after four days' sharp suffering, which was attributed 
to every cause but the right one. 

The King of Navarre's sorrow for the death of his 
heir took the form of anger with his daughter. He 



igo FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 

charged her with having, through her neglect, 
caused the death of the two little princes. He 
solemnly threatened her that he would marry again, 
and that her inheritance would then probably pass 
to a son of his own. Jeanne then promised her 
father that if she ever had another child, she would 
come to Pau for its birth, and that her father's 
will should be law over its bringing up and nur- 
ture. The King was somewhat mollified by this 
promise, and in the year 1553 the time came for its 
fulfilment. The King determined that the coming 
grandchild should be brought up as a hardy Bear- 
nois, and not '' mollement a la frangaise/' All 
this time Jeanne was in considerable anxiety as to 
her father's possible marriage, and the disposition he 
was making of his property by will. He saw all 
this and it amused him to perplex her and thwart 
her curiosity. He produced a small gold box which 
he said contained his will, and promised it should 
be hers on condition that when the pains of child- 
birth assailed her she should sing a Bearnois song. 
Jeanne accepted the extraordinary condition, and 
the great Henry of Navarre was born on Decem- 
ber 13th, 1553, while his mother was singing the 
old Bearnois song appropriate to the emergency. 
"Notre Damey du bout du pont aidez-moi d 
cette heure.*' The King placed the gold box 
in his daughter's hand saying, "Daughter, this 
is thine," and folding the newborn child in the 



JEANNE D'ALBRET. 191 

skirt of his gown he added, " and this is mine." 
Tradition says that the child did not cry while 
the King performed the Bearnois ceremony of 
putting on his lips a clove of garlic, and moistening 
his tongue with a few drops of wine ; and that 
on tasting the wine the baby * ' raised his head and 
otherwise testified satisfaction." A healthy peasant 
woman was chosen for the child's nurse, who proved 
faithful to her charge, and the baby escaped the 
perils of infancy and the misfortunes which had 
overtaken Jeanne's first two children. 

The King of Navarre died when the little prince 
was about seventeen months old, and Jeanne suc- 
ceeded to her father's kingdom. With her new 
dignity trials and difficulties came thick upon her. 
The beginning of her married life had been happy, 
but after seven years she had no more illusions about 
the essentially frivolous and unstable character of her 
husband. They were proclaimed King and Queen of 
Navarre; he delighted in the dignity, but thought 
more of its suits and trappings than he did of its 
duties and responsibilities. Navarre was the per- 
petual object of the intrigues and ambitions of the 
French court, and the weakness of Antony and his 
want of political sagacity encouraged Henry II. to 
think that the accession of the new sovereign would 
afford a favourable opportunity for maturing plans 
which had long been cherished for the merging of 
the principality of Beam in the kingdom of France. 



192 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

On the occasion of Antony's first visit to the court of 
France after becoming titular King of Navarre, all 
the arts of that most artful of courts were brought to 
bear on him to induce him to give up the indepen- 
dent principality of B^arn in exchange for an equal 
territory in central France. Antony had, however, 
not long enjoyed the title of king, and he was by 
no means disposed to relinquish it. He was, more- 
over, shrewd enough to know that the real decision 
would not rest with him, who was king only by 
courtesy, and that Jeanne's consent was more than 
doubtful ; he therefore returned an evasive answer 
and requested leave from the King of France to con- 
fer with the Queen of Navarre on the subject. He 
left St. Germain, where the French court then was, 
and joined Jeanne at Coucy, but he was only allowed 
to do this on condition of returning with Jeanne 
immediately to St. Germain. Her indignation on 
hearing of the French king's proposal was bound- 
less. She at once put herself in communication 
with Baron d'Arros, who had been placed in charge 
of the military forces of Navarre by her late father. 
She renewed his warrant in her own name, and gave 
him instructions with the view of defeating the 
French King's project should any practical steps be 
taken towards its realisation. She then presented 
herself with her husband before the King of France. 
Veiling her indignation at the proposal which was 
renewed in her presence, she took refuge in the 



JEANNE D'ALBRET. 193 

position familiar to us now as that of a constitutional 
sovereign ; she said she could do nothing without the 
consent of the States of her little realm. The re- 
fusal of this consent w^as a foregone conclusion. All 
Beam was up in arms against the merging of 
Navarre in France. Jeanne's chancellor, who had 
been won over by the wiles of the French court, was 
the object of popular execration. His palace was 
burned, and he saved his life only by precipitate 
flight. The States met and voted reinforcements 
for all the strong fortresses of Beam, and made the 
most energetic preparation to resist by force the 
carrying out of the French king's scheme. 

Jeanne and her son, now a beautiful child of 
about two years old, were everywhere received with 
rapture by the people. Antony endeavoured to pro- 
pitiate a similar loyalty by emphasising his sympathy 
with the reformed religion which had been estab- 
lished at Pau by Queen Margaret. Queen Jeanne, 
who afterwards became an ardent Calvinist, did not 
.then sympathise with her husband's protestantism. 
She felt that in the crisis which existed everything 
should be done to unite her people as much as 
possible, and that religious differences might very 
likely be used as a powerful means of disuniting 
them. 

A curious letter, dated August 22nd, 1556, is ex- 
tant from Jeanne to the Viscount de Gourdon, one 
of the barons of Navarre, and an ardent Calvinist, 



194 J^'^y^ FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

inviting him to a conference on the reHgious ques- 
tions then so hotly in dispute. Queen Jeanne ex- 
plained her attitude of indifference on these subjects 
up to that time in the following quaint manner : — 

Monsieur le Vicomte, — 

I write to inform you that up to the present 
time, I have followed in the path of the deceased 
queen, madame my most honoured mother (whom 
may God absolve), relative to my choice between the 
two religions; nevertheless, the said queen, being per- 
suaded by her brother monseigneur King Francis I. of 
happy and glorious memory, my most revered uncle, not 
to puzzle her brains with new dogmas, after a time 
seemed to care only for humorous and witty romances. 
Moreover, well do I remember, that long previously, the 
king, monsieur my most honoured father and lord, hear- 
ing that the said queen was engaged in prayer in her own 
apartments, with the ministers Roussel and Farel, 
entered and dealt her a blow on the right cheek — the 
ministers having contrived to escape in great per- 
turbation — while he soundly chastised me with a rod, 
forbidding me to concern myself with matters of 
doctrine : the which treatment cost me many bitter tears 
and held me in dread until his decease. At the present 
moment, however, free by the demise of the said mon- 
seigneur my father, two months ago, and incited by the 
example and the exhortations of my cousin, the 
Duchess of Ferrara,* it appears to me that reform is as 
reasonable as it seems necessary ; so much so that I 
deem it disloyal cowardice towards God, towards my 
conscience, and towards my people to halt any longer 
in suspense and perplexity." 

* Rende of France, daughter of Louis XII., a convinced 
Calvinist. 



JEANNE D'ALBRET. 195 

She concludes by urging that it seemed to her 
needful that worthy people should confer together 
upon the changes desirable to adopt in religion, and 
being apprised that in the Viscount were united 
wit, nobility and courage, likewise that he had about 
him certain reverend personages, she begs him to 
bring them during the next ensuing month of Sep- 
tember to meet her at the Castle of Odos in Bigorre. 
This was very far removed from the language of 
religious enthusiasm or even of religious conviction. 
Jeanne appears at the date of this letter to have 
looked at the whole controversy simply from the 
point of view of political expediency. She did not 
forget that a papal interdict laid upon Navarre in 
the reign of her grandfather had been the cause of 
the loss of the provinces of Spanish Navarre; she 
was interested in religious questions because she 
was convinced that an understanding of them was 
necessary in order to avert political dangers. Her 
language at a later period was very different. The 
^conference at the Castle of Odos probably never took 
place. Jeanne became alarmed by the degree to 
which her husband openly espoused the Protestant 
cause, especially as his conduct called forth a letter 
from Rome threatening the little principality with 
the pains and penalties of an interdict. Her very 
feebly awakening interest in the religious aspect of 
Protestantism was checked. She forbade anyone 
to preach who had not obtained a licence from the 



196 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

Bishop of Lescar. The Calvinist ministers appealed 
to Antony, but without success. Jeanne took the 
reins into her own hands and said she had no 
intention to hazard the remnant of her ancestral 
dominions for the sake of preachers and preaching. 
More restrictions on the freedom of Protestant 
worship followed in her principality, and the danger 
of an interdict was averted. 

As long as Jeanne and Antony were together she 
had to provide discretion enough for the two. Thus 
on their way to Paris, on another visit to Henry II. 
in 1557, they stayed at Eochelle, a Protestant strong- 
hold. On their attending the theatre, the piece per- 
formed held up the Roman Catholic faith to offensive 
ridicule. Queen Jeanne sat out the performance 
rigid as a statue, giving no applause whatever. 
King Antony, on the other hand, openly expressed 
his approval, took the company of actors under his 
special patronage, and presented each member of it 
with a considerable sum of money. The whole 
thing is said to have been a trap devised by the 
Guises to ensnare the foolish Antony and his con- 
sort. The Guises were becoming all-powerful in the 
court of France. Francis of Lorraine, Duke of 
Guise, the head of the family, and his brother 
Charles, the cardinal, formed between them a for- 
midable alliance of practical executive energy with 
astute political acumen. The Duke was a great 
soldier; it is he who is known as " le grand Guise,'* 



JBANNE D'ALBRET. 197 

His face was frightfully scarred by wounds received 
when fighting against the English in 1546, but it 
was his son and not himself who received the nick- 
name of " Ze BalafrL'' The Guise brothers were 
supreme over the will of the French King, and they 
strengthened their position by the marriage of their 
niece, Mary Stuart (the Queen of Scots), with the 
Dauphin Francis. They were vehemently Catholic ; 
and the forces of fanatical Catholicism had recently 
been strengthened by the accession of Philip, son of 
Charles V., to the crown of Spain. The Emperor 
Charles had publicly resigned in favour of his son, 
as far as Spain and the Netherlands were concerned, 
in 1555 ; a year later he retired into the monastery 
of Yuste, in the valley of Estremadura. As long as 
he lived he took the keenest interest in public affairs, 
and was always ready to give his advice to his suc- 
cessor. In 1558, however, he died, and thus 
Philip II., the narrowest bigot in Europe, was left, 
uncontrolled by any broader and more statesmanlike 
mind, to use the whole influence of his great position 
to extirpate heresy. It is well known that he sought 
to extirpate it by open warfare, by cruel persecution, 
by assassination, and by all the crafts and intrigues 
which his pettifogging character produced in such 
abundance. 

The events of the marriage of the Dauphin to 
Mary Stuart and the death of Charles V., which 
both took place in 1558, gave a strong impulse 



198 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

in France and Spain to the fanatical party intent 
on stamping out heresy at all costs. The death of 
Mary of England in the same year, though emi- 
nently favourable to Protestantism in that country, 
was used to heal the old feud and to strengthen the 
newly formed alliance between the anti-Protestant 
powers of Spain and France. The death of Mary 
enabled her husband, Philip of Spain, once more to 
use his own marriage for political purposes. In 
1559 he married Elizabeth, the daughter of 
Henry II. and Catherine de Medici. 

There had already been a secret conference at 
Peronne between Philip and the Guises, at which 
a league was formed for the extirpation of heresy. 
Philip pledged himself to support the Guises in 
France, and they pledged themselves to support the 
influence of Philip in their own country, and they 
were both to unite to stamp out Protestantism. 
The marriage of Philip with the Princess Elizabeth 
of France followed very shortly ; and the political 
importance of the Guises suddenly received another 
startling impulse from the death of Henry II. He 
was wounded in the eye, in the course of a tourna- 
ment given in honour of the marriage, and died 
eleven days after the accident. The King who suc- 
ceeded was Francis II., a lad of about sixteen, 
married to Mary Stuart, a niece of the Guises. 

Up to this point it had been the traditional 
policy of France, as the old enemy of Spain, to 



JEANNE B'ALBRET. 199 

support, nominally at least, the claims of the Sove- 
reign of Navarre to the lost Spanish provinces. 
Jeanne had the mortification of seeing this tradi- 
tional policy abandoned. Spain remained her enemy 
as much as ever, but France, under the Guises, had 
ceased to be her friend. Her little kingdom seemed 
likely to be crushed between the upper and the 
nether millstone. 

Philip, as the son-in-law of one king and brother- 
in-law of his successor, was continually pointing out 
that the seeds of the Protestant heresy were sown 
broadcast in France, that scarcely any of the nobles, 
with the exception of the Guises, were free from the 
heretical taint, and that the measures taken for the 
extinction of Protestantism were rendered futile by 
the asylum offered to its leading supporters in the 
little kingdom of Navarre. In these difficult cir- 
cumstances Jeanne, for the sake of the safety of her 
kingdom, humbled herself before the Pope. She 
had succeeded her father in 1555, but had never 
offered her homage to the Holy See. She now 
(1559) despatched a commissioner to Eome to offer 
apologies for the delay, and to proffer her homage. 
Great manoeuvring was necessary to induce the 
Pope to receive her kinsman and ambassador, Pierre 
d'Albret, Bishop of Comminges. Tit is believed that 
the Pope would have continued^ to refuse the 
audience requested had it not been for the inter- 
vention of Catherine de Medici herself. This astute 



200 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

lady had begun to find the yoke of the Guises very 
galling, and she soughtt o^ weaken their in fluence 
by strengt hening th aJL-OL Ihe Bourbon princes. It 
was^onlywith great frigidity that the Pope at last 
consented Jo receive the homage of the ' ' queenly 
penitent." 'J Jeanne's letter, which the Bishop of 
Comminges presented to his Holiness, gave an 
assurance that she had no intention of alienating 
the temporal possessions of the Koman Church 
throughout her dominions, and thus a temporary 
reconciliation was effected. 

» On the death of Henry H., Antony of Bourbon, 
King of Navarre, as first prince of the blood and 
next heir to the throne after the sons of Catherine, 
ought to have been associated with the Queen 
Mother as Eegent for the young king ; but the right 
moment for asserting his claim was let slip, and on 
his first appearance in public Francis II. announced 
that by the advice of the Queen, his mother, he had 
appointed his wife's uncles, the Duke of Guise and 
the Cardinal, to govern the kingdom. The Guises, in 
anticipation of this declaration, had offered Catherine 
de Medici a junior partnership, as it were, if she 
would combine with them in keeping out the Bour- 
bons, Antony, and his far more capable brother, 
Louis, Prince of Cond^. She had assented, or 
appeared to assent ; but she was by no means con- 
tent to resign herself to the uncontrolled sway of 
the Guises. "7 



JEANNE D'ALBRET. 201 

She, however, carefully pursued her own ends; 
and her far-reaching schemes for undermining the 
power of the Guises were not long in arriving at 
maturity. In the meantime, however, the rival 
chiefly feared by the duke and cardinal was Antony 
of Navarre. Their ally, Philip, therefore caused it 
to be intimated to him and to Jeanne, that any 
attempt to remove the Guises from power would be 
instantly followed by the invasion of Navarre by 
Spain. While Antony was suffering paroxysms of 
indecision as to what course he should steer, Jeanne 
lost no time in visiting every fortress throughout her 
dominions to see that each was well stored with 
provisions and ammunition in the event of a sudden 
attack. Apart from his genuine hatred of the re- 
formed religion, of which Antony was then the 
patron, Philip had solid political reasons for prevent- 
ing him from being invested with the regency of 
France. This would have given him control over 
the military resources of that country and made his 
claim for the restoration of the Spanish provinces 
a far more formidable affair than it could become 
as long as he was merely King Consort of Navarre. 

When Antony arrived in Paris to pay his re- 
spects to the young king, every kind of insult, small 
and great, was showered upon him by the all-power- 
ful Guises. The rooms he usually occupied at St. 
Germain were inhabited by the Duke and Duchess 
of Guise, and he was told an attempt to occupy 



202 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

them would cost him his life and that of 10,000 men. 
His baggage was piled up in the courtyard in a 
manner purposely designed to block up the way ; he 
was denied his seat at the council table, and when 
he approached the King and the Queen Mother they 
scarcely deigned any sign of recognition. Baffled 
and perplexed, the King of Navarre asked leave to 
pay a visit to the tomb of the late king at St. 
Denis; and while he was there his brother Conde 
contrived to bring about a secret midnight meeting 
between himself, Antony, and Nicholas Throckmor- 
ton, the English ambassador in Paris. This latter 
delivered to the King of Navarre a message from 
Queen Elizabeth desiring alliance with him ** for the 
honour of God," and to prevent their enemies 
"from injuring the cause" . . . "of true 
religion." Antony could not bring himself to accept 
with firmness the alliance thus offered ; he returned 
to the court and accepted all the insults he received 
with irritating submission. Open threats were re- 
peated in his presence that the Spanish King would 
invade Navarre if any opposition were offered to the 
predominance of the Guises; on the other hand, 
vague hopes were held out to him that the coveted 
Spanish provinces might be restored if he proved 
himself complaisant. Thoroughly complaisant he 
was; but this did not prevent Cardinal Guise from 
hatching a plot to seize Bayonne and hand it over 
to Spain, a conspiracy which was defeated only by 



JEANNE JD'ALBllET. 203 

the activity and vigilance of Jeanne and the Baron 
d'Arros. 

While Antony was compromising the indepen- 
dence of her kingdom at the French court, Jeanne 
was vigorously asserting it in Navarre. The next 
move on the part of the Guises was the appointment 
of the Cardinal d'Armagnac as inquisitor-general in 
the principality of Beam and its dependencies. 
Executions were ordered and everything seemed 
ready for the inauguration of a bitter period of per- 
secution. Jeanne foiled this scheme by informing 
the Cardinal Inquisitor that he was at liberty to 
make inquiry and to report cases of heresy to her 
privy council, but that she retained for herself, 
as sovereign Princess, all power of arrest and 
punishment. 

On the Cardinal disregarding this, and causing 
Barran, a well-known Calvinist minister, to be 
arrested and thrown into prison, she instantly issued 
a warrant for his release, signed by herself under 
her great seal, and informed the Cardinal that such 
arbitrary acts were unauthorised and illegal, and 
would never be tolerated in her dominions. 

But these spirited actions, away in distant 
Navarre, had little or no effect on the course of 
events in Paris, where the anti-Protestant party was 
predominant. Executions for heresy began to take 
place. Catherine de Medici herself was in some 
danger. Her orthodoxy was doubtful, and she was 



20.| TIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 

watched by her daughter-in-law, Mary Stuart, who 
reported her observations to her uncles, the Guises. 
She felt herself to be a virtual prisoner, and only 
saved herself from becoming an actual one by ap- 
parent acquiescence in all the high-handed actions of 
the dominant party. (^ this time and for several 
years later Catherine was supposed to have sympathy 
with the Protestant movement?) The huguen ots 
couated^on her support, not recognising that she 
was essentially a Gallio in matters of religion. 
Such hesitation as she undoubtedly had of firmly 
allying herself with either of the rival religions, 
arose from her doubt as to which would ultimately 
predominate over the other. ^[Her policy in religion 
was to support the strongest sideT^ 

rHer immediate and most keenly felt wish in 1560 
was to be relieved from the yoke of the Guises.'^ 
Their insolence was passing all bounds. A Hugue- 
not gentleman, named Gaspard de Heu, had been 
seized by their orders, without any form of trial, 
and strangled in the castle of Vincennes. No one 
felt safe. A plot was formed, to which Louis 
of Conde was certainly privy, and with which 
Catherine probably sympathised, to seize the 
persons of the Duke and Cardinal of Guise at 
Amboise. It miserably miscarried, and is some- 
times called the conspiracy or, more contemptuously, 
the tumult, of Amboise. Cond^ immediately sought 
refuge in his sister-in-law's court at Nerac, whence 




— #► 



'^ 



MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS " LA REINE DAUPHINE. 
From the Drawing by Clouet. 
Photograph by A. Giraudon, Paris. 



JEANNE D'ALBRET. 205 

he was summoned with his brother, the King of 
Navarre, by the young '^ing Francis to attend upon 
him at Orleans to answer the charges brought 
against him. Antony was commanded to bring 
Conde with him, willing or unwilling, for, said the 
King, ** should the said Prince refuse obedience, I 
assure jovl, mon oncle, that I shall soon make it 
apparent that I am King, as I have commissioned 
Monsieur de Crussol to explain to you both." 

On receipt of this letter Jeanne strongly urged 
her husband either to remain where he was and 
await events, or if he went to Orleans to go with so 
strong an armed escort as to overawe his enemies. 
Antony, who has been w^ell described "as foolish 
as fearless," did not take her advice. He was bent 
on going to Orleans at all risks. Catherine de 
Medici wrote private letters to him, assuring him 
that he would be in no danger, and persuading him 
to advance ** with fearless courage." Both appeals 
touched him ; but he appears not to have perceived 
their inconsistency. If there was no danger, fear- 
less courage was uncalled for. The deeply seated 
suspicions and fears of Jeanne and of the Princess 
of Conde resulted in delaying, but did not prevent, 
the departure of Antony and his brother. The 
Cardinal of Bourbon, another brother of Antony and 
Louis, arrived at Nerac to express the displeasure 
of the King of France at the delay in their setting 
forth; he also delivered a personal message from 



2o6 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

King Francis to assure the King of Navarre and the 
Prince of Cond6 that they would be allowed to 
leave Orleans immediately after having faced their 
accusers. The Cardinal described the tears with 
which Catherine had bade him farewell and 
delivered to his sister-in-law, Jeanne, a polite 
message from the Queen Mother inviting her also 
to join the court at Orleans. This invitation Jeanne, 
on her own behalf, at once declined. She could not 
forbid the departure of her husband and her brother- 
in-law, but she felt that her duty lay in her own 
dominions, and in the protection of her children, 
of whom she now had two, a daughter having been 
born in February, 1559. As soon as the Bourbon 
princes had quitted Navarre on their way to Orleans 
Jeanne withdrew to Pau, where she called her thir- 
teen barons in council. Acting on their advice 
she applied herself once more to the defence and 
fortification of her kingdom. She garrisoned all 
the strong places, especially those bordering on 
France, and awaited with the utmost anxiety news 
of the issue of her husband's journey. In the strong 
fortress of Navarreins, in which she took up her 
abode, she devoted herself to the education of her 
son, now a beautiful and intelligent boy of seven 
years old, and sought relaxation in the conversation 
of the cultivated and able men she gathered round 
her. It was during this period that her protes- 
tantism hardened into real conviction. She refused 



JEANNE D'ALBEET. 207 

to comply with the order, which reached her from 
the Privy Council of the King of France, to deliver 
up the persons of David, Boisnormand, and Theo- 
dore B^za, and three other Calvinist ministers, that 
they might be put upon their trial for sedition. She 
revoked the permission she had given them to 
preach publicly in those domains which she held in 
fief under the King of France, and directed them 
to preach only in the principality of Beam in which 
she reigned in her own right. 

Antony of Navarre and Louis of Conde had set 
out on their journey with a strong escort, and as 
they went on their way, the Protestant noblemen 
of the south of France offered them a virtual army, 
amounting to nearly 7,000. Antony, with his 
usual vacillation, could not determine whether to 
accept or refuse. He became positively ill with 
distraction and anxiety ; at Vertueil he received a 
message from the King of France ordering him not 
to approach Orleans with more than his customary 
household attendants. This order he determined at 
last to obey, much to the chagrin of his willing pro- 
tectors, who warned him that he was yielding him- 
self up with a rope round his neck. 

The Guises fully intended to justify these fears. 
Their plan was to arrest and execute Louis Conde, 
and to assassinate his brother, the King of Navarre. 
The brothers reached Orleans on October 30th, 1560, 
and Conde was arrested on the evening of the same 



2o8 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

day, charged with treason and with complicity in 
the conspiracy of Amboise. All the promises for 
his safety which had been made by and through 
his brother, the Cardinal of Bourbon, were so 
much waste-paper. Catherine alone stood between 
Antony and a similar fate. The trial of Cond^ was 
pushed forward with all haste ; he was condemned 
to death on November 26th, and the execution was 
fixed for December 10th. Antony did his best for 
his brother, but he was warned on all hands that his 
own fate trembled in the balance. Cardinal Guise's 
design for getting rid of Antony was to admit him 
to an audience with the young king; and it was 
an-anged that Francis was to appear to be suddenly 
transported with fury and to strike at his cousin 
with a poniard in an apparently ungovernable rage. 
Antony would probably defend himself, and then 
the King's attendants were to fall upon him and 
finish him. 

Antony's behaviour all through this episode is 
the best thing we know about him. The plot was 
whispered abroad; indeed, the boy king seemed so 
pleased with his own prominent part in it that he 
could not keep his tongue still. Antony, therefore, 
at first evaded the interview to which the King in- 
vited him. When the terms of the invitation became 
too peremptory to be set aside, he accepted it with 
full knowledge of the risk he was running. He sum- 
moned a faithful personal attendant, and, telling him 



JEANNE D'ALBRET. 209 

everything, said, " If I fall, take my shirt stained 
with my blood to my wife. The Queen will avenge 
my death. Let her send the fragments of this shirt 
to every court in Europe, that its sovereigns may 
read in my blood how they ought to avenge the 
assassination of a King." 

When Antony entered the King's presence he 
took the line of agreeing obsequiously with every- 
thing which Francis said, so as to give him no 
excuse whatever for an outbreak of passion. 
Cardinal Guise was heard to exclaim, " Voila le 
plus poltron cceur que f'lht jamais." Whether this 
referred to Francis or Antony seems uncertain. 
But it is certain that when it came to the point, 
the courage or the wickedness of Francis failed 
him, and Antony left the presence chamber 
unharmed. 

Suddenly the whole situation was changed by 
the illness and death of Francis on December 5th. 
There was never a more dramatic transformation 
scene. With the death of Francis, the power of 
Mary Stuart and of her uncles, the Guises, was 
reduced to almost nothing. The new king, Charles 
IX., was only ten years old. Who so fitting to be 
Regent as his mother, aided by the counsel and 
support of the first prince of the blood royal , 
Antony of Bourbon? Catherine summoned Antony 
at once to her presence, and offered to make him 
Lieutenant-General of the kingdom, and therefore 



2IO FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

master of all the military forces of France, if he 
would support her claim to the regency and forego 
his own. He had already been warned by the 
Duchess of Montpensier that only by agreeing to all 
Catherine proposed would he save his own life and 
that of his brother, still under sentence of death. 
He accepted and became henceforth a mere tool in 
Catherine's hands, which she used or threw away 
according to the convenience of the moment. The 
Guises were scattered ; the Duke went to his castle 
at Joinville, the Cardinal to his diocese, Mary Stuart 
to Fontainebleau and afterwards to Nancy. Louis 
of Conde was released from prison and went to the 
castle of Ham in Picardy ; his brother Antony was 
placed next to the Queen Mother in the highest 
position in the kingdom. Catherine de Medici, so 
lately scorned and slighted by the Guises, was 
mistress of the situation with no one to share her 
power but a man whom she reckoned she could 
twist round her little finger. 

Everyone will wonder: did she kill her son? 
There is no evidence that she did. But Sir James 
Melville, a contemporary and eye-witness, wrote, 
*' The Queen was blyeth of the death of King 
Francis, hir sone, because she had no guiding of 
him." With a woman like Catherine there was 
not a very long step between being * ' blyeth ' ' of her 
son's death and murdering him. But she is 
entitled to the benefit of the doubt. 



JEANNE D'ALBRET. 211 

Antony of Navarre accompanied the Queen 
Mother to St. Germain, whence he wrote to Jeanne 
begging her to join him that he might have the 
advantage of her advice. She did not instantly 
obey the summons, but left Navarreins for Pau, not 
reaching Paris till August, 1561. Up to the acces- 
sion of Charles IX., Catherine de Medici had never 
been in a position of real power. But now she had 
overthrown her rivals and the power so long sought 
was hers. As far as religion w^as concerned it long 
appeared almost certain that she would espouse the 
Protestant cause. The persecutions of the last two 
reigns were attributed to the Guises. By the influ- 
ence of Catherine, Michel de I'Hopital, sometimes 
called "the Bacon of France," a strong moder- 
ating influence in the war of religious opinions, had 
been made chancellor. Catherine had gone so far in 
the direction of Protestantism as to write to the 
Pope to request that all images of the saints, includ- 
ing those of the Virgin, should be removed from the 
churches of France, and that the Holy Communion, 
in both kinds, should be administered to the laity. 
During the Lent of 1561, Protestant ministers 
preached openly at the court, where fasting was 
entirely neglected. During the autumn of the same 
year she promised the Tiers-^tat at Poissy that she 
would bring up the young king and his brother in 
the reformed faith. There was a strong Protestant 
party in almost every province of France, and all 



212 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 

things looked as if the claim of the Protestants to 
religious freedom would be substantiated. 

During this period, before she left Pau, Jeanne 
formally and publicly professed the reformed faith. 
She received the Holy Communion according to the 
rites of the Protestant Church in the cathedral at 
Pau, with the full consent and approval of the 
barons of her council. It was less than eighteen 
months since she had made a formal submission to 
the Pope, and had begged his forgiveness for the 
delay which had taken place in rendering homage 
to the Holy See for her principality. It may be 
said : If she was sincere in the one profession she 
could hardly have been so in the other. It must be 
remembered, however, that in the interval between 
October, 1559, and the spring of 1561, she had gone 
through a crisis in her life which may well have left 
its reflex upon her religious convictions. It may 
be also that when she submitted to the Pope she 
bowed before political necessity, and when that 
necessity was removed she reverted to the open ex- 
pression of her real convictions. The little girl who 
had been severely beaten by her father, as a warning 
not to concern herself with questions of doctrine, was 
not so very far removed from the young queen of 
thirty-one who sought safety for her dominions in 
rendering homage to the Pope in words which found 
no echo in her heart. If this be the real explana- 
tion of Jeanne's inconsistency, no one can say that 



JEANNE V'ALBRET. 213 

it was heroic, but it was very human. Politics and 
religion acted and reacted on each other throughout 
the Eeformation period, and nowhere more power- 
fully than in France. Was Queen Jeanne not the 
mother of the sovereign whose saying, ** Paris vaut 
hien une messe,'' has passed into a proverb? From 
the time, however, that she made her open pro- 
fession of protestantism, the Queen of Navarre 
never faltered in her faith, and she showed again 
and again in the last ten years of her career that her 
religion had become part of her life and was no 
longer a matter of political expediency. 

When Jeanne arrived in Paris in 1561 she de- 
clined apartments in the Louvre, and took up her 
abode in the Hotel Conde, her brother-in-law's 
palace in the rue de Grenelle. A great deal had 
happened since she last had seen her husband. 
The Queen Mother had spread her toils round the 
foolish Antony. Passionless herself, she knew how 
to work on the passions of others. She kept at her 
command a cohort of beautiful women, called 
" Vescadron de la reine mere''; one of these. 
Mademoiselle de la Limaudiere, generally called 
"la belle Rouet," had been told off to the not 
very difficult task of captivating the King of 
Navarre and alienating his affections and fidelity 
from his wife. The Guises had now returned to 
court, and they deemed that their safest road to a 
return to power lay in alienating Antony from 



214 ^ly^ FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

Jeanne. The Spanish ambassador in Paris and the 
Papal Nuncio joined in the scheme, and Antony was 
induced by them to lend a favourable ear to 
projects which they laid before him for ceding the 
principality of Beam in exchange for the island of 
Sardinia. They also induced him, who had been so 
hotly Calvinist in the earlier years of his marriage, 
seriously to reconsider the matter and to weigh well 
whether he would not do better for himself by 
going back to the old faith and an alliance with the 
Guises. Personally, politically, and religiously, 
therefore. Queen Jeanne and her husband were now 
at variance, and bitter words were exchanged be- 
tween them. A little later the gulf between them 
was widened through the influence of Cardinal Ippo- 
lito d'Este, stepson of Lucrezia Borgia, who played 
upon the feeble character of Antony by persuading 
him that his marriage with Jeanne had never been 
legal owing to her previous contract with the Duke 
of Cleves. It was not difficult to persuade Antony 
that his marriage with Mary Stuart lay within the 
bounds of possibility, and that the triple crown of 
Scotland, England, and Navarre would then be an 
adornment worthy of the sagacity and courage of 
Antony of Bourbon. It did occur to him to inquire 
how, if he divorced Jeanne, he could still cling to 
the crown matrimonial which she had brought him. 
A ready answer was given. Jeanne was to be de- 
prived of her dominions on account of the crime of 



JEANNE D'ALBRET. 215 

heresy, and they would then be bestowed upon her 
former husband. Antony said he would take a few 
days to think about it all. 

The object of all these schemes was to make an 
unbridged gulf between Antony and Jeanne, to 
detach the former from the party of Catherine de 
Medici, and to annex him to that of the Guises. 

Words are cheap, and Cardinal Ippolito D'Este, 
and his confederates did not spare them in working 
upon the ambition of Antony of Bourbon. They 
insinuated that if he would only make his peace 
with Eome nothing stood between him and the royal 
crown of France itself but the lives of three little 
boys in fragile health. If he was a Macbeth, they 
played the part of the witches to perfection, and set 
his foolish head aflame with unholy hopes and 
aspirations. But Queen Jeanne was stolid and 
solid; and no persuasions of Antony could stir her 
from her fidelity to the reformed faith or from her 
loyalty to her little cousins. 

A triumvirate had been formed at Easter, 1561, 
consisting of the Constable Montmorency, the 
Duke of Guise, and the Marshal St. Andr^; they 
were in close alliance and constant communication 
with the Pope and with Philip of Spain. Their 
object was the maintenance of the Koman Catholic 
faith, and, as an accessory to this, the restoration of 
the Guises to power. They were then apparently 
face to face with the almost immediate triumph of 



2i6 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

Protestantism at the French court. Theodore Beza 
preached openly at St. Germain in the early autumn, 
and he was afterwards summoned to take part in an 
argument with Cardinal Guise. This conference took 
place in the apartments of Conde, where were 
assembled the Queen Mother, the King and Queen 
of Navarre, Cardinal Guise, and the Duchesses of 
Montpensier and Uzes. The argument was con- 
ducted with ability and dignity on both sides. Each, 
however, as is not unusual in such cases, claimed a 
dialectical victory over the other. This private dis- 
cussion was only preliminary to a public tournament 
of a similar character which opened at Poissy on 
September 9th, 1561, and is known in history as 
the Colloquy of Poissy. The chief protagonists were 
again Theodore Beza and Cardinal Guise. Beza's 
speech was powerful and impressive, the Cardinal's 
was less argumentative, but concluded with an im- 
passioned appeal to the young king not to forsake 
the religion of his ancestors. Special point was 
given to this appeal from the fact that the village of 
Poissy was the birthplace of St. Louis. There were 
some results of practical importance from this 
colloquy, but during the last few days of its duration 
it degenerated into unseemly wrangling. Every- 
body was angry, and neither party was convinced 
by the other. 

The Protestant party had a powerful represen- 
tative in B^za. His great learning and his good 



JEANNE B'ALBRET. 217 

birth gave him a position which he used perpetually 
to further the cause of the Eeformation. He had 
completed the metrical translation of the Psalms 
into French, begun by Clement Marot, and they 
were sung at the French court and, indeed, through- 
out France, where they attained such popularity that 
they were called " Beza's ballads." Next to Calvin 
he was the most powerful personality produced by 
the Eeformation in France, and for a short time it 
seemed that he would turn the scale in a direction 
which would have made France a Protestant 
country. The "colloquy" had given him the 
opportunity of making a formal statement of the 
principles of the Eeform party, and of pressing the 
right of the Protestants to freedom of worship. The 
government of Catherine de Medici, at his instance, 
issued letters to the magistrates all over the country, 
directing them to interpret the edict forbidding 
Protestant worship in a lenient spirit. This vir- 
tually enabled the Protestants to meet without mo- 
lestation. A great impulse was thus given to their 
cause, and there was, in consequence, a demand for 
the services of Protestant clergymen greater than 
Geneva could supply. On Michaelmas Day, 1561, 
Theodore Beza publicly celebrated the marriage, 
according to the Protestant ritual, of Jean de Eohan, 
a cousin of Queen Jeanne on her father's side, 
with Diane de Barbangon, niece of the Duchess 
d'Estampes. The King and Queen of Navarre, 



2i8 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

Conde, Coligny, and many other influential persons, 
were present. This certainly had the effect of making 
the edict, published in the previous July, forbidding 
Protestant worship, null and void. The event was 
significant, and caused anger and dread in the papal 
party, and a corresponding elation and expectation 
of speedy triumph among the Protestants. The 
Spanish ambassador openly threatened Catherine de 
Medici that his master was prepared to interfere by 
force of arms to protect the Catholic cause in France. 
Queen Jeanne found herself in a more and more 
isolated position. Her husband's mistress, "la 
belle Rouet," had lately borne him a son. She was 
directed by Catherine de Medici to put forth 
her utmost fascinations to detain and allure him. 
She was nothing loth ; for if Antony divorced 
Jeanne, she had a chance, at any rate, of becoming 
Duchesse of Vendome and of legitimising her son. 
The breach between the two Queens, Catherine and 
Jeanne, was widened by Catherine's treachery. 
Taking alarm at all she heard of Antony being about 
to throw himself on the side of the Guises, it is said 
that Catherine proposed to him that he should divorce 
Jeanne and marry her little daughter, Margaret, or 
Margot, then ten years old ! Jeanne wrote a re- 
markable letter to her trusted counsellor. Viscount 
de Gourdon, dated January, 1562, describing the 
disappointment of her hopes with regard to the 
progress of the reform of religion, her fears for her 



JEANNE D'ALBRET. 219 

kingdom, and her grief for the disloyalty of her 
husband. She describes the hopes she had enter- 
tained in the early days of the new reign, and 
adds : — 

** Since which, however, the King of Navarre, 
hungering after the seductive flatteries of several 
fair damsels, dexterous and versed in toils for in- 
spiring love, of whom the said Queen (Catherine) 
avails herself to accomplish and perfect her secret 
designs, the said King of Navarre, I repeat, has 
become so deluded and enervated, both mentally and 
bodily, by indolence and luxury, that he has per- 
mitted the Guises, assisted by the Constable, to 
regain the upper hand, to his great shame and the 
public calamity.'* She then recounts Antony's 
willingness to give up Beam, and the consequent 
danger to its political independence, and proceeds: 
** My heart feels very heavy and sorrowful when 
I contemplate all that is concocting here in so 
sinister a manner. . . Amidst all this woe, my 
soul, sad and perplexed, yearns to be counselled and 
consoled by a loyal friend. Come then to me here, 
or at least write to me what it appears to you I 
ought to do, and I will try to conform to your 
opinion." 

The Viscount in reply counselled Jeanne to sub- 
mit to her husband in the matter of religion. 
Catherine preferred the same request with the view 
of inducing Antony to break with the Guises. 



220 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 

Jeanne turned a deaf ear to both these counsellors, 
declined reconciliation with her husband, and re- 
jected with scorn all efforts to persuade her to 
abandon her adhesion to the reformed faith. Beza, 
in his history of the Eeformation in France, states 
that she replied to Catherine, ** Madame, if I at this 
moment held my son and all the kingdoms of the 
world in my grasp, I would hurl them to the bottom 
of the sea rather than peril the salvation of my 
soul." 

Antony now publicly identified himself with the 
triumvirate, the party of the Guises. Jeanne was 
left quite unsupported. Catherine was seriously 
alarmed for her own safety. Cond^ and Coligny 
had retired to Orleans. The triumvirate took into 
consideration the desirability of Queen Jeanne's 
assassination ; but shrinking from this extreme 
course they succeeded in persuading her husband 
to consent to her arrest and imprisonment. The 
warrant was prepared with his full concurrence. 
She never forgave this. *' From that moment," she 
wrote in later years, " I closed my heart for ever 
against the affection which I still cherished for my 
husband, and devoted its every impulse to perform 
my duty." 

The news of the intention to arrest and imprison 
the Queen of Navarre leaked out, and there was a 
great demonstration on the part of Huguenot Paris 
in her defence. Jeanne demanded permission to 



JEANNE D'ALBRET. 221 

depart to her own principality ; after some hesita- 
tion this permission was granted, for it was intended 
to re-arrest her at her husband's castle of Vendome. 
She left Paris in April, 1562, taking her daughter 
with her ; but she was compelled by Antony to leave 
her son behind at St. Germain to be brought up in 
the vicious life of the court. Bitter must have been 
her regrets at leaving him. She had an interview 
with him before her final departure, when she 
solemnly adjured him to remain true to the reformed 
faith, and never to forget his mother. She also had 
a painful farewell interview with her husband, whom 
she never saw again. The intention to re-arrest her 
at Vendome was frustrated by the tumultuous pro- 
tection of a body of Huguenot troops who were 
poured into the town, probably at the instance of 
Conde. She regained her own dominions in safety, 
but not without a series of exciting adventures. 

France was now on the eve of the outbreak of 
the civil wars on religion which lasted with occa- 
sional short interludes for thirty-six years. From a 
similar fate England was saved by the sagacity and 
statesmanship of Elizabeth. If Jeanne had been 
placed by birth in a similarly powerful position, she 
might have steered the ship of state as successfully 
as our great queen. But her tiny principality did 
not give her the place in Europe which Elizabeth 
occupied. Still, to the full extent of her power, she 
championed with fearless frankness, unswerving 



222 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

tenacity, and ever prompt action the principles of 
the Keformation. She had considerable gifts as an 
orator, which had been cultivated by the public 
position she had occupied from childhood, and both 
by voice and pen she often roused her followers to 
the highest degree of enthusiasm. *' To obtain for 
all men liberty of conscience, I am minded to do 
good battle, and not to relax my efforts. The cause 
is so holy and sacred that I believe God will 
strengthen me by His mighty power." With 
stimulating words like these she breathed life 
and strength into her party. She had been com- 
pelled to leave her dear little son in the power of 
her enemies. Her husband's mistress had con- 
stant access to the young prince. The natural 
chagrin and pain caused by this did not enfeeble 
Jeanne's resolutions, or impede her bold expression 
of them. Now and then, indeed, the queen is for- 
gotten, and we hear the cry of the dispossessed 
mother. The little prince, when about ten years 
old, had a severe attack of small-pox, and through- 
out his illness called piteously, but, of course, un- 
availingly, for his mother. Jeanne despatched an 
urgent entreaty that her son might be given back to 
her. Her desire was unsatisfied, but a concession 
was made and the boy was removed from the 
guardianship of " la belle Rouet " and placed in that 
of Ren^e, Duchess of Ferrara. This lady, on the 
death of her husband, had returned to France 




A'iaU',^tii( , 



ANTONY OF BOURBON, KING OF NAVARRE. 
From the Drawing by Mauraisse 



JEANNE D'ALBRET. 223 

and was then resident at Montargis. Queen 
Jeanne, during 1562, issued letters patent estab- 
lishing the Protestant religion in Beam. She 
strengthened the fortifications at Navarreins, and 
mounted seventy large cannon there. Antony sent 
one of his secretaries to protest against her proceed- 
ings. Jeanne had him arrested and all his papers 
seized as soon as he entered her dominions. Fear 
of reprisals on the party of Elizabeth of England 
prevented either Philip of Spain or the Guises from 
despatching a punitive expedition against the 
Queen of Kavarre. King Antony could only look on 
in amazement and indignation. Jeanne went her 
own way, but she smartly reproved B6za for omit- 
ting her husband's name from the liturgy prescribed 
for the reformed churches of Beam. 

Antony's death took place in November of this 
year, 1562. He was wounded, not very seriously 
as it was thought, at the siege of Kouen on 
October 25th. Imprudences and the gratification 
of his insatiable desire for display and dissipation 
converted a trifling injury into a mortal wound, and 
Antony was told by the Bishop of Mende that his 
end was not far off. His courage again redeemed 
him from contempt. He received the news with 
fortitude, made his will, left his horses to the Duke 
of Guise, and his fortune to his son ; he also wrote 
a farewell letter to his wife. But his extraordinary 
vacillation clung to him to the last. He appears to 



224 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

have wished to give Protestantism one more chance, 
and he vowed that if God restored him to health he 
would openly espouse the Lutheran faith. He thus, 
in his forty-fourth year, changed his religion, if 
religion it can be called, for the fifth time. He 
desired his physician, de Mezieres, a Huguenot, to 
read him St. Paul's epistles, where the apostle ex- 
pounds the duties of husbands and wives. When 
the verse was read, " Wives submit yourselves unto 
your own husbands," Antony made a sign of cordial 
approbation ; but the honest physician would not 
allow any slur to be cast upon Jeanne, " Yes, sir," 
he replied, "but the Holy Scripture also says, 
'Husbands love your wives.' " 

The Papal Nuncio, in a letter to Cardinal 
Borromeo, referred to the death of the King as 
a most lucky event ; it relieved him of all anxiety 
on the subject of the numerous promises he had 
made without any intention of fulfilling them. 
Jeanne always suspected that her husband's road 
out of this world had been facilitated by the 
treachery of the Guise faction by whom he was 
surrounded. 

During the civil war now raging in every 
province of France, the Huguenots, after some pre- 
liminary triumph, suffered sharp reverses. The 
towns which had been conquered by Conde were all 
reconquered, with the exception of Orleans, and 
Conde was himself a prisoner. The Duke of Guise, 



JEANNE D'ALBRET. 225 

while conducting the siege of Orleans in February, 
1563, was assassinated by a Huguenot named Pol- 
trot. The wars of religion in France were stained 
by every atrocity committed almost equally on 
both sides, until the balance was finally and com- 
pletely overweighted against the Catholics by the 
hideous massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day, 1572. 
Catherine de Medici was and is suspected in regard 
to the murder of the Duke of Guise. Suspicion of 
complicity in it also lingers round the otherwise 
honoured name of Gaspard Coligny, Admiral of 
France. Mr. Whitehead, in his biography of the 
Admiral, carefully weighs all the evidence for and 
against, and arrives at the conclusion that Coligny 
was innocent ; but it is an undoubted fact that the 
whole Catholic party believed him guilty at the 
time; that Guise's eldest son Henry, then a boy of 
thirteen, was with his father at Orleans and saw 
him die, and vowed an eternal enmity against the 
assassins, chief among whom he placed the name 
of Coligny. Crime produced more crime. Feb- 
ruary 3rd, 1563, in due time, gave birth to August 
24th, 1572. 

During the ten years of life which remained to 
the Queen of Navarre after she became a widow, 
she came to the front as an efficient sovereign and 
as a fearless and resolute leader of the French 
Protestants. One of her first acts was to reform 
the legal code of her dominions. She sought the 



226 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

advice of the leading jurists of her time, and by 
their aid published a code of laws which provided a 
remedy for many long-standing abuses. The code 
was received with real gratitude by her subjects and 
remained in force under the name of " Ze Stil de la 
Royne Jeanne," until all ancient codes were swept 
away at the time of the Eevolution. 

She successfully resisted the renewed attempt 
to set up the Inquisition in her principality of 
Beam ; she established the Protestant religion there, 
and caused a translation of the New Testament in 
the Basque language to be made and circulated 
among her subjects. She organised her military 
resources to the utmost extent of her power, so that 
she was able to bid defiance to the powerful king- 
doms lying on her northern and southern borders. 
All efforts to intimidate her were vain : " A coeur 
vaillant rien dHmpossihle " was the motto on which 
she acted and with which she constantly inspired 
her subjects to deeds of heroism. She was re- 
minded by her enemies that her little kingdom was 
not like England ** bound in by the triumphant sea." 
Her answer was to strengthen her fortresses and to 
rally all her subjects from noblemen to peasants to 
her standard. Plots were continually hatching to 
seize her and her children, and to hand them over 
to the Inquisition. Constant efforts, some of them 
successful, were made to raise the standard of revolt 
against her. Her husband's brother, the Cardinal of 



JEANNE D'ALBEET. 227 

Bourbon, was among those who joined the league 
against her. He attempted to withdraw from her 
the property which he had settled on her at the 
time of her marriage. He replied to those who 
remonstrated with him, " No ties of blood must be 
heeded ; no deed must be thought too atrocious if it 
aid the extermination of heresy." She was cited 
by the Pope to appear in Eome to answer a charge 
of heresy. Failing to obey she was excommuni- 
cated, her marriage was declared invalid and her 
children illegitimate. She shared the honour of ex- 
communication with Elizabeth of England ; but like 
Elizabeth she knew that excommunication meant 
that every Catholic fanatic would believe himself to 
be doing God's service if he assassinated her. 

She and her son were probably saved from 
assassination by the protection of Catherine do 
Medici. The Queen Mother of France was never 
run away with by her emotions, and she knew that 
the death of Jeanne and Henry would only place 
Cond^ and his son, both Protestants, in the place in 
the succession then occupied by Prince Henry of 
Navarre. The Cardinal of Bourbon was considered 
to be out of the succession, in consequence of his 
calling. 

One of the hardest things which Queen Jeanne 
had to bear was the forcible separation from her son, 
which continued for more than three years after the 
death of Antony of Bourbon. It must have been 



228 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 

anguish to her that her beautiful and brilliant boy 
was being brought up in the inner circle of the 
most wicked and corrupt court in Europe. But 
whatever his faults the young prince remained 
thoroughly loyal to his mother. The Catholic 
League for the destruction of Protestantism had 
been formed, and Henry was allowed to hear plans 
discussed between the Spanish General Alva and 
Queen Catherine for re-enacting in France the 
massacre of the Sicilian Vespers. Alva advised the 
destruction of the leaders rather than that of the 
rank and file, and observed, " Gar^ madame, une 
tete de saumon vaut mieux que cent tetes de 
grenouilles.*' Young as he was, Prince Henry re- 
cognised this as pointing at his mother, and he 
managed to convey a warning to her to be especially 
upon her guard. 

Queen Jeanne at length, through a pardonable 
stratagem, contrived to regain possession of the 
person of her son. She appealed to the King, 
Charles IX., to allow her to take her son from the 
French court to receive the homage of her vassals 
in Picardy and Vendome ; and on receiving the 
permission acted upon it, notwithstanding the oppo- 
sition offered by Catherine de Medici. Charles was 
just of an age keenly to enjoy showing that he had 
escaped from the tutelage of his mother. When 
Catherine intervened Jeanne appealed to the King's 
promise, and hinted that it was absolutely impossible 



JEANNE D'ALBRET. 229 

to believe that he would ever break it ; thus was the 
adroit Catherine foiled. Prince Henry was only 
thirteen years old when he rejoined his mother. 
His beauty, vivacity, and intelligence delighted her. 
She endeavoured diligently to instil into him her own 
high conception of the duties of princes. "All 
earthly power," she argued, " was derived from God 
and was delegated to princes that they might main- 
tain justice, succour the fatherless, widows, and 
orphans, and protect them from malignant men. 
Power is not given to princes to pamper and indulge 
their worldly pride, avarice, and vanity." Queen 
Jeanne was famous for her letters and speeches, 
many of which were printed and circulated all over 
Europe for the strengthening and encouragement of 
the Protestant cause. They often put new life and 
spirit into her followers in moments of despondency. 
Her first thought for her son as soon as he rejoined 
her, was to endeavour to wean him from the ener- 
vating luxury in which his last six years had been 
spent, to invigorate his mind by the study of serious 
subjects, to awaken his martial ardour, and to train 
him for distinction in military service. She was 
delighted to find him an apt pupil. When the time 
came in 1568 for him to take part in actual warfare, 
with her own hands she buckled on his armour, and 
witnessed his departure with unshaken courage. 
Euskin has taught us that this buckling on of a 
knight's armour by a lady's hand in olden times was 



230 TIVE FAMOUS FliENCH WOMEN. 

no mere caprice of romantic fashion, but the type 
of an eternal truth *' that the soul's armour is never 
well set to the heart unless a woman's hand has 
braced it, and that it is only when she braces it 
loosely that the honour of manhood fails."* 

In the civil wars which were raging, Henry of 
Navarre soon justified his mother's dearest wishes 
for him. He showed himself, not only apt and 
valiant, but also ready to concede to his elders the 
leadership to which his birth in itself might have 
entitled him. If we may read between the lines of 
Jeanne's address to her son when he joined the army 
of Conde, we gather that she was in some anxiety 
lest the young prince should not loyally acknowledge 
his uncle's leadership. In this, however, Henry, com- 
pletely satisfied her. He was a soldier born , and as 
such acknowledged discipline and obedience as the 
foundation of all success ; he knew that the leaders 
must be men who have shown they can lead. 

At the disastrous battle of Jamac, in 1569, the 
Huguenots were defeated, Conde was taken prisoner 
and treacherously murdered. The Huguenot army 
was in profound discouragement, when they were 
roused to new spirit and hope by the Queen of 
Navarre. On horseback, with her own son on her 
right and the dead Condi's heir on her left, she rode 
down the lines, inspiring her own " high heart and 
lofty resolute spirit ' ' into the whole army. Eefer- 
•** Sesame and Lilies," p. 105. 




LOUIS DE BOURBON. 

From an Engraving after a Painting by Fragonard. 



JEANNE D'ALBEET, 231 

ring to the death of Conde, she said, " He died on 
the true bed of honour, and with greater credit to 
himself than to his enemies." 

Continuing, she ralhed the courage of the army 
with these words : — 

" Soldiers, you weep. But does the memory of 
Conde demand nothing more than tears. . . . 
Does despair overpower you ? Despair ! that shame- 
ful failing of weak natures : can it be known to you, 
noble warriors and Christian men? When I, the 
Queen, hope still, is it for you to fear? Because 
Conde is dead is all, therefore, lost? " She then 
recounted the noble names of the leaders who were 
still left to them, and added: "To these brave 
warriors, I add my son. Make proof of his valour ! 
The blood of Bourbon and Valois flows in his veins ! M 
. . . Behold, also, Conde 's son, now become my 
own child. He is the worthy inheritor of his father's 
virtues. . . Soldiers ! I offer to you everything 
in my power to bestow : my dominions, my treasures, 
my life, and that which is dearer to me than all — 
my children ! ' ' 

No wonder that her eloquence had an almost 
magical effect. The soldiers crowded round her and 
demanded to be led once more to battle. With the 
sudden inspiration which sometimes animates a 
crowd, they proclaimed young Henry of Navarre 
their leader. His mother signified her approval, 
and he was by popular voice chosen head of the 



232 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 

Huguenot party. His speech was short. He was, 
as he had said elsewhere, more ready to act than to 
speak; but every word was to the point. He said, 
" Soldiers! Your cause is mine. I swear to you 
on the salvation of my soul, and by my honour and 
life, never to abandon you." He was then sixteen 
years old; young enough, but one year older than 
the Black Prince was at Crecy. 

Not long after this Queen Jeanne, still further 
to encourage her son's army, had a medal struck 
bearing the following legend, *' ou paix asseur^e^ ou 
victoire entiere, ou mort honeste/' These medals 
in gold were given to the leaders, while copies in a 
less costly material were distributed among the 
soldiers. One of them in gold was found on 
Coligny's body at the time of his murder on St. 
Bartholomew's Day, 1572. 

A famous contemporary, the Huguenot historian 
D'Aubigny, in praising Jeanne, says, "Having of 
woman only the sex, with a soul given to things that 
rather became men, with an intelligence at home in 
great affairs, and a courage invincible in adversity," 
she inspired a feeling of admiration even among her 
foes. We should not to-day use D'Aubigny's words. 
Jeanne was a thorough woman, and was not the 
less so for her intelligence, sagacity, and courage, 
and the power of inspiring courage in others. 

Some few more distinctively feminine traits 
have come down to us. She, like her mother, 




JEANNE DALBRET, QUEEN OF NAVARRE. 



JEANNE D'ALBRET. 233 

delighted in flower gardens, and created them 
wherever she had the opportunity. One of her last 
recreations before leaving for her fatal visit to the 
court of France, in 1572, was to build in the 
grounds of the castle at Pau a picturesque little 
chateau for her daughter, Madame Catherine. 
The designing and decorating of this building, 
which she called Castel-Beziat or Chateau-Cheri, 
and the laying out of its grounds, provided her 
chief amusement during the last period of her 
life. Like all Calvinists she attributed great 
importance to preaching, and wherever she went 
was accompanied by quite a retinue of Huguenob 
ministers. With all her enthusiasm for the good 
cause, she found it, however, quite beyond her 
power to sit through their long sermons without 
going to sleep. She therefore asked the synod to 
grant her permission to work tapestry during the 
sermon. If it was simply human to sleep during 
the sermon, it was certainly feminine to resort to 
the tapestry frame to cure the inclination. A letter 
to her son written during the last January of her life 
gives us a glimpse of her home and home-life. She 
tells of the wedding celebrated the day before of one 
of her ladies, and says that her son's absence de- 
prived her of most of the joy she would otherwise 
have felt in it. In the opening sentence of this 
letter she says how glad she is that " Pistolle has 
got her puppies." 



fl34 ^ly^ FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

When the valiant La None had his arm shattered 
at the siege of Fontenay, in 1570, it was Queen 
Jeanne alone who had influence enough with him to 
induce him to consent to its amputation. It was a 
tragic thing for a brilliant cavalry leader to sacrifice 
his right arm. But the choice was one of life and 
death. The physicians, however, were powerless 
to induce the brave soldier to face the fact. Where 
they had failed, Queen Jeanne succeeded, appealing 
to his loyalty to the cause for which he was fighting, 
his affection for his friends and for herself. His 
consent once won, Jeanne stayed with him during 
the operation, supporting him while it was per- 
formed, and cheering and encouraging him through- 
out the painful ordeal. It was she who had the 
artificial arm manufactured for him, which gave 
him his well-known surname of * * Bras-de-f er. ' ' 

So far from saying she had nothing of the 
woman but the sex, we should say that she showed 
the best and noblest type of valiant womanhood. 

We now approach the last few months of her 
life. France was drenched with the blood of a long 
series of civil wars. Every sort of horror and crime 
had accompanied the footsteps of the armies. The 
court of France was hardly less distracted by strife 
than France itself. Charles IX., now, in 1672, 
nearly twenty -two years of age, has been described 
as "half beast and wholly a child." He was a 
beast in uncontrolled passion, but it is a libel on 




CHARLES IX. OF FRANCE. 

From an Old Engraving. 



JEANNE D'ALBREf. ^35 

children to call him a child. Mentally he was 
almost a cretin, but with enormous physical 
strength and activity. His mother still had con- 
siderable influence over him ; she could work upon 
the worst part of his nature and rouse him to 
diabolical fury. He w^as subject to paroxysms of 
rage, which almost resembled epileptic fits in their 
exhausting effect upon him. He was furiously 
jealous of the military renown of his brother, the 
Duke of Anjou, afterwards Henry III., Catherine's 
favourite son, and the worst of all her bad brood. 
He was jealous of the young Duke of Guise, partly 
because his sister, Margaret of Valois, wished to 
marry him. The King absolutely forbade this 
marriage, and threatened the Duke with death if he 
persisted in his suit. To escape the scaffold the 
Duke hastily married Catherine of Cleves, then a 
rich young widow. Out of the plots and counter- 
plots, the furious anger, hatred, and jealousy of 
which these events were the outcome, came another 
scheme, " built in the eclipse and rigged with 
curses dark," the proposed marriage between Henry 
of Navarre and Margaret of Valois. Catherine de 
Medici represented to Jeanne that peace was neces- 
sary, and that nothing would promote the recon- 
ciliation between the opposing parties of Huguenots 
and Catholics like the marriage of Henry and 
Margaret. The proposed marriage of Elizabeth of 
England with one of the brothers of the King of 



236 YIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

France was part of the same scheme. Elizabeth 
played with it to prevent, just on the eve of the 
Armada, the closer alliance of France with Spain. 
But the other proposed marriage was on a different 
footing. It had been one of the habits of Charles IX. 
constantly to praise Henry of Navarre to the dis- 
paragement of his own brothers. " Alone of all my 
royal house," he had said, " Henry loves me and I 
him." He therefore supported the marriage of his 
sister with '' mon hon frere Henri,'' and said that 
he desired by means of this union to bring about, 
in a manner, the marriage of the two religions. The 
inclination of the principals was the last thing 
thought of. If Margaret ever knew what love was, 
she loved the Duke of Guise. Henry was at his worst 
in his relations with women. This fatal marriage 
has been described by Dean Kitchin as the union of 
** the worst of wives with a husband none too good." 
When the proposal for the marriage was com- 
municated to Jeanne, she was full of foreboding and 
suspicion. The brilliance of the alliance did not 
allure her; but she temporised, pleaded the absence 
of her son, and the consequent impossibility of con- 
sulting him. A special ambassador. Marshal de 
Biron, was despatched from the court of Charles IX. 
to press the advantages of the marriage upon Queen 
Jeanne. But he found himself powerless to remove 
her distrust and misgiving. On a former occasion 
friendly overtures from Catherine de Medici had 



JEANNE D'ALBRET. 237 

caused Jeanne to exclaim, " Can the Queen, who 
never pardons, pardon me? " and the same thought 
must have been in her mind when she parried the 
arguments of Biron in favour of the marriage of 
Henry with Margaret of Valois. Biron then turned 
from Jeanne to try his powers of persuasion upon 
Admiral Coligny, to whom he presented a most 
flattering letter from the King. Only three years 
earlier, the Parliament of Paris had found Coligny 
guilty of treason and condemned him to death ; as 
he did not present himself for the execution of the 
sentence, it had been carried out on his effigy. His 
estates had been confiscated, his children degraded 
from their rank, and 50,000 crowns offered for his 
person dead or alive. But politicians have short 
memories, and easily forget what it is convenient not 
to remember. The admiral shed tears of gratitude 
when he read the King's flattering letter, and 
announced his intention of immediately acting on 
the invitation it contained to visit the court in Paris. 
Queen Jeanne, young Conde, and all the leading 
Protestants tried to dissuade him, but to no 
purpose. "No, no, madame," he said, "I firmly 
confide in the honour and word of my King," and 
henceforth all his influence was used to promote the 
marriage. Henry himself was favourable to it ; all 
the conditions with regard to freedom of worship 
for the Protestants which Queen Jeanne asked for 
were conceded. She called her own Council of State, 
hoping they would urge reasons in opposition to the 



238 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

marriage. On the contrary, they urged its wisdom, 
and Jeanne exclaimed mournfully, ''Helas! je 
compte peu d'amis." Little by little she was forced 
to give way and to consent to go to Paris to nego- 
tiate the articles of the marriage. On no account 
would she allow her son to accompany her. She 
insisted on Prince Henry remaining in Beam as her 
representative during her absence. Her last injunc- 
tions to him were to allow no solicitation to induce 
him to visit the French court unless he had received 
her direct authorisation. 

Her design was, if she were forced to allow 
the marriage to take place, to arrange that Henry 
should be represented at the ceremony by proxy, 
and that afterwards she would conduct the prin- 
cess to her bridegroom at Pau. Catherine de 
Medici would by no means consent to these arrange- 
ments. All Jeanne's other requirements were, 
after some resistance, agreed to. No stipula- 
tions at all were made by the French court, 
save the personal attendance of Henry in Paris for 
the marriage. Jeanne, in great perplexity, con- 
sulted the English ambassador, Walsingham, show- 
ing him how she saw danger every way, whether in 
concluding, or not concluding, the marriage. Coligny 
was completely captured, and thoroughly believed 
in the professions of friendship which were showered 
upon him. Jeanne's health l-egan to show signs of 
breaking down, and her powers of endurance were 
further tried by the serious illness of her only 



JEANNE D'ALBRET. 239 

daughter, Madame Catherine, whom she had brought 
with her from Beam. 

At length, after nearly four months of weary 
negotiations, Jeanne consented to the marriage, 
and consented also to her son taking part in it 
in person; in doing this, however, she emphasised 
the importance of his coming to Paris with only 
a very limited number of Huguenot nobles and 
gentlemen. If she had lived, her prescience would 
have saved the Huguenot party from the trap 
laid for them. Queen Jeanne arrived in Paris 
in the last week in May, 1572, to make prepara- 
tions for her son's wedding. In less than a 
fortnight she was dead. The suspicion of poison 
was universal among the Huguenots. The Queen 
of Navarre had, on her arrival in Paris, visited a 
large number of shops and warehouses, making 
purchases of jewels, clothes, etc., of suitable mag- 
nificence for the approaching marriage. Among 
other places she had gone to the shop of an Italian 
perfumer whom Catherine de Medici had brought 
from Florence. She purchased from him drugs, 
perfumes, and embroidered ruffs and gloves. It 
was rumoured, but never proved, that her death had 
been caused by one of those subtle poisons with the 
secret of which Italian chemists of the period were 
credited. Very shortly after her visit to the Floren- 
tine her dying illness, which lasted just a week, 
began. Her last thoughts and words were for her 
son and daughter, but she never spoke of the 



240 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

approaching marriage. She desired that her daughter 

should at once return to Beam. She saw Coligny 

on Sunday, June 8th, and named him as one of her 

executors. Her death took place in the morning of 

the following day. In one of her recent letters to 

her son she had described how she had sought an 

interview with Margaret of Valois, and had asked 

her if she had any message for the prince. 

" Madame for some time made no reply ; at length, 
on my pressing her for an answer, she replied that she 
would not send you any message without having first 
obtained permission, but that I was to present to you 
her commendations and to say that you were to come 
to the court ; but I, my son, / bid you to do quite the contrary!* 

With the death of Queen Jeanne, the protection 
which her prudent foresight would have afforded to 
the Huguenot party was lost. Coligny summoned 
Henry at once to Paris. Charles IX. continued to 
show the admiral every mark of respect and affec- 
tion, addressing him as ** mon pere." No suspicion 
of treachery arose in his mind ; he therefore 
suggested no special precautions to Henry. The 
prince, after attending his mother's funeral at Ven- 
dome, was delayed by illness from immediately pro- 
ceeding to Paris, but he arrived there on July 8th 
at the head of 800 noblemen and gentlemen, nearly 
the whole strength of the Huguenot chivalry of 
France. They were being led as lambs to the 
slaughter, owing to the ill-placed, if generous, con- 
fidence of Coligny in the loyalty and good faith of 
the court and the Catholic League. 




HENRY IV. OF FRANCE. 

From the Painting by Rubens, in the Louvre. 
Photograph by X. Paris. 



JEANNE D'ALBRET. 241 

The marriage between Henry of Navarre and 
Margaret of Valois was celebrated at the great portal 
of Notre Dame on August 18th, 1572. It is said 
that Margaret refused to make any answer when she 
was asked if she would take the King of Navarre as 
her husband ; and that King Charles, placing his 
hand on her head, forced her to incline it, which 
was taken as an equivalent to her assent. The next 
few days were given over to festivities in honour of 
the marriage ; but Catherine de Medici and her 
coadjutors had laid all their plans for what 
immediately followed. It was intended that the 
signal for the murder of the Huguenots in Paris 
should be the assassination of Admiral Coligny. 
He was fired at on August 22nd, on his w^ay from 
the Louvre, the shot proceeding from a house in 
the occupation of an adherent of the Guises. The 
shot was aimed true, but missed its mark through 
Coligny making a sudden unexpected movement 
in fastening or unfastening his overshoes ; he was 
not killed, but his right forefinger was smashed, 
and his left arm severely wounded. He preserved 
the calmness of the tried veteran, and when all 
was in confusion pointed out the window where 
the smbke was as the one from which the shot 
had been fired. His assailant escaped. The crime 
had been planned by Catherine de Medici, her 
son, the Duke of Anjou, and the Duke of Guise. 
The news of the attempt on Coligny caused the King 
genuine sorrow. He visited the sufferer and ordered 



242 TIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 

every kind of vigilance for the detection of the 
criminal. Catherine became uneasy. She visited 
the King in his chamber. She there boldly avowed 
that she and the King's brother were the real 
authors of the attempt on Coligny, that she had done 
it to save the King from a great danger ; there was 
a Huguenot plot, she declared, to destroy the 
Catholics, and the only way to prevent it was to be 
beforehand with them ; to kill them before they had 
time to carry out their wicked schemes. At last 
she got her way. She worked her son up into one 
of the ungovernable furies to which he was liable, 
and he consented to everything. That afternoon, 
August 23rd, in the gardens of the Tuileries the 
treacherous crime of the St. Bartholomew massacre 
was decided on. The signal was given in the very 
early morning of Sunday, August 24th, from the 
belfry of St. Germain I'Auxerrois, almost the parish 
church of the Louvre. One of the first acts of the 
dark tragedy of St. Bartholomew was the cold- 
blooded murder of the wounded Coligny by the Duke 
of Guise, with every circumstance of barbarous and 
loathsome brutality. For three days and nights all 
Catholic Paris gave itself up to a carnival of blood. 
Men, women, and children were cut down. The 
Huguenots were chased into the river, and shot 
while trying to save themselves by swimming. The 
window of the Louvre is still shown from which 
the now almost maniac Charles shot at his subjects. 
Navarre and Conde were saved; they were of the 



JEANNE D'ALBRET. 243 

blood royal, but their followers almost to a man 
were murdered. It is estimated that more than 
10,000 Protestants were murdered in Paris alone. 
Mr. Whitehead tells in his " Life of Coligny " how 
a priest, Father Panicarola, wrote enthusiastically 
to Home, " Everywhere we have seen rivers of blood 
and mountains of dead bodies." 

What had been done in Paris was almost im- 
mediately imitated in several of the provincial 
towns ; though , to their immortal honour be it 
remembered, that in several cases the governors 
of towns refused, at peril of their lives, to carry 
out the infamous orders which they received from 
Paris. Well would it have been for the fame of 
the Catholic religion if a similar spirit had been 
evinced by the head of the Church, or by any lead- 
ing representative of the Catholics. But this was 
very far from being the case. When the news of 
the massacre was told to Philip II. he laughed 
" for almost the only time on record." The account 
of the crime was received in Eome with transports 
of joy. The Pope, Gregory XIII., presented a gift 
of a thousand crowns to the courier who brought the 
joyful news. He wished to illuminate Eome, but 
was checked by the French ambassador because the 
news had not then been officially confirmed. When 
the news became official, through the receipt of 
letters from the Papal Nuncio in Paris, there was no 
longer any reason for holding back from the most 
open rejoicing over it and glorification of the crime. 



244 ^^y^ FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

" That same morning," wrote the Cardinal of Como, 
" . . . His Holiness, with the whole college of 
cardinals, went to the Church of St. Mark to sing 
the * Te Deum ' and thank God for so signal a 
favour shown to Christian people." The Pope said 
that the news was better than fifty victories at 
Lepanto. The guns of St. Angelo were fired, and 
an illumination of the city ordered. Another solemn 
** Te Deum " was sung, preceded by a mighty pro- 
cession consisting of the Pope and thirty-three 
cardinals on foot; they visited the French church 
of Saint Louis, and the 101st Psalm was specially 
ordered to be sung. A papal medal w^as struck in 
commemoration of the massacre, and a series of 
frescoes, still to be seen on the walls of the Sala 
Begia of the Vatican, were ordered to be painted 
to put on record the joyful event. The paint- 
ings depict the attempted assassination of CoHgny 
on August 22nd, and the throwing of his mangled 
corpse from the window of his house on August 
24th. By every means in its power Eome made 
itself accessory to the crime of St. Bartholomew. 
The King of Navarre and the Prince of Cond^ 
were compelled to renounce their religion, and 
for four years the former remained virtually a 
prisoner in the Louvre. Often must he have thought 
of that passage in his mother's letter in which she 
sent him Margaret of Valois's message bidding him 
to come to Paris, and added, ** but I, my son, I bid 
you to do quite the contrary." 



RENEE OF FRANCE. 



247 



RENEE OF FRANCE, 

DUCHESS OF FERRARA. 

It is a truth so self-evident as to need no em- 
phasis, that marriage forms an immensely im- 
portant element in the happiness or the reverse 
of most men's lives ; but that its importance is even 
greater in the lives of women. A man who is 
unhappily married generally has a business or a 
profession to which he can escape. But a woman 
who has a miserable home generally has no refuge 
but in her own thoughts, which too often only 
reflect, and perhaps magnify, her misery. Socrates, 
when Xantippe's tongue became unendurable, 
could betake himself with undisturbed equanimity 
to the market-place or to the gymnasia in the de- 
lightful surroundings of Athens, there to discourse 
with his young friends on ' ' What is friendship ? ' ' 
or on the "Nature of the soul." But how can 
Mrs. Blue Beard console herself? If she some- 
times and somehow finds an innocent way of doing 
so, it is infinitely to her credit. Eeligion, pure 
and deep, the centring of the soul on God, has 
been the unfailing consolation of many unhappy 



248 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

wives. It was that of Kenee of France, Duchess 
of Ferrara; and she added to the inward spiritual 
religion of the soul, the active, practical religion 
which visits the fatherless and widows in their 
affliction, and keeps itself unspotted from the 
world. 

The extraordinary marriage customs prevalent 
in the middle ages and during the renaissance 
among the reigning families of Europe are well 
exemplified in the history of Ken^e's father, 
Louis XII. of France. His predecessor was 
Charles VIII., the weak and worthless son of 
Louis XI. Charles VIII. had a long minority, 
during which his very capable sister, Anne 
of Beaujeu, '* Madame La Grande," acted as 
Begent. For nine years she was virtually Queen 
of France, and as her brother approached manhood 
she managed to secure for him the hand of the 
great heiress, Anne of Brittany, thereby uniting 
the hitherto independent principality of Brittany 
with the realm of France. 

Charles VIII. died childless in 1498, and was 
succeeded by his second cousin, Louis XII. Louis 
at the time of his accession was married already 
to a royal lady. Princess Jeanne, daughter of 
Louis XL ; but the risk of losing Brittany if Anne, 
its duchess, the widow of the late king, remained 
unmarried, or married a rival, was too great to be 
endured. Louis XII. therefore obtained from the 



RENEE OF FRANCE. 249 

Pope, Alexander VI., a dispensation enabling 
him to divorce Jeanne and marry Anne. The 
Pope's son, Caesar Borgia, was selected as the 
messenger to bring the papal dispensation to 
France. To honour him and to indicate the im- 
portance of his special embassy the King of 
France created him Duke of Valentinois, presented 
him with a large sum of money, and found him a 
bride from the house of Navarre. The marriage 
of Louis XII. with Anne of Brittany was successful 
in its political aim. It confirmed the union of 
Brittany with France ; but Louis and Anne had no 
son who survived infancy, and at the time of Anne's 
death, in 1614, she left behind her only two 
daughters, Claude, then aged fifteen, and Kenee, 
who was but four years old. In consequence of 
the Salic law neither of these was in the suc- 
cession to the crown ; but the elder, Claude, was 
married, almost immediately after the death of her 
mother, to the heir-presumptive, Francis of Angou- 
leme, afterwards Francis I. The widowed king 
was heartbroken on the death of his wife, and 
desired her grave might be made large enough for 
two ; but before the year was out he married Mary 
Tudor, the sister of Henry VIII. Louis XII. 
hoped through this marriage to leave behind him a 
son who would be his successor. But his hopes 
were vain ; he died on New Year's Day, 1515. 
Francis, therefore, became king, and his wife 



250 TIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

Claude, the heiress of Brittany, again confirmed 
the union of that province with the crown of 
France. The good Queen Claude, however, died 
in 1524, nine years after the accession of her hus- 
band, and the marriage of his little sister-in-law 
Eenee became an important political topic. The 
Salic law did not prevail in Brittany, and the first 
thing which Francis I. sought to secure in the 
bridegroom-elect was that he should be a prince 
who could not make good any claims to Brittany 
on Eenee's behalf. The suit of Henry VIII. , who 
was moving in the matter of his divorce from 
Catherine of Aragon, was dismissed, not on any 
moral ground, but because he was too near and too 
powerful ; a king of England with a colourable 
claim on French soil was no stranger to French 
history. The demonstration of friendship between 
Henry and Francis at the Field of the Cloth of 
Gold in 1524 did not influence Francis to bestow 
the hand of his sister-in-law, with her possible 
claims on Brittany, on the King of England. In 
1527 Cardinal Wolsey came to Paris as special 
ambassador from the King of England, with in- 
structions to propose that Henry VIII. should 
marry Margaret, Duchess of Alen9on, the only 
sister of Francis I. This match was declined by 
the Duchess. "Never," she said, "speak to me 
again of a marriage which would take away the life 
and happiness of Catherine of Aragon." Wolsey 




^{E^CVLE^ LSTE^Sl^, Fcrrana ^Ickm, securJi. 
liczc puarfi', e Ducilfusjirmtiijiiifaue, rms ■ 



ERCOLE D'ESTE, DUKE OF FERRARA. 

From an Old Engraving. 



RENEE OF FRANCE. 251 

had another string to his bow, and when he found 
that the marriage with Margaret was hopeless he 
proposed that his master should wed the Princess 
Eenee. But though, as the old writer says, " there 
was nothing forgot which might doe him pleasure 
or honour," the match was declined. 

The battle of Pavia had been fought and lost 
by Francis in 1525, and the life-long hostility be- 
tween the King and the Emperor Charles V. was, 
at the time of Wolsey's visit, in its most acute 
stage. This circumstance also influenced the choice 
of a husband for Eenee; and Ercole d'Este, eldest 
son of the Duke of Ferrara, was finally selected, 
partly because the duchy to which he was heir was 
too small and unimportant to enable him to make 
good any attempt to revive Eenee' s claims to 
Brittany, and partly because Francis desired to de- 
tach the Duke of Ferrara from allying himself with 
the cause of Charles V. in Italy. 

Een^e's marriage with Ercole d'Este took place 
at la Sainte Chapelle, in Paris, on June 28th, 1528. 
The splendid beauty of the ladies of the d'Este 
family was proverbial. Eenee was plain and 
slightly deformed. Ercole was one of the sons of 
Lucrezia Borgia by her marriage with Alfonso, 
Duke of Ferrara; the d'Este family was on bad 
terms with the court of Eome, but had shown no 
leanings towards Protestantism. Eenee, on the 
other hand, partly through the influence of her 



252 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

cousin, Margaret of Angouleme, afterwards Queen 
of Navarre, and partly through that of her friend 
and governess, Madame de Soubise, was very 
favourably inclined to the reformed religion. 
Ken(^e was, and through life remained, a devotedly 
patriotic Frenchwoman. When political questions 
arose she put France first and the rest of the world 
nowhere. Ercole, as was natural in an Italian 
prince, could not share his wife's political en- 
thusiasms. He put the little dukedom of Ferrara 
first, and was ready to throw it into the scale either 
for Francis or for Charles according to the circum- 
stances of the moment. There were, therefore, 
plenty of opportunities for discord between the pair. 
On the other hand, there were certain things which 
united them. Ken^e was the daughter of one king 
of France, and the sister-in-law of another. The 
marriage was a great match for Ercole from the 
worldly point of view. Ren^e had a large dowry, 
consisting of a quarter of a million of golden scudi 
charged against the Duchy of Chartres and the 
Viscounties of Caen, Falaise, and Bayeux. Besides 
these solid advantages, which doubtless endeared 
her to her husband, Ren^e had an alert inteUigence, 
the natural qualities of which had been developed 
by a careful education. She was candid, thought- 
ful, conscientious, and above all generous with a 
regal generosity. Despite her plainness and de- 
formity she was quite capable of royal dignity in 










RENEE OF FRANCE, DUCHESS OF FERRARA. 

From the Painting by Corneille de Lyon, in the Versailles Gallery. 
from a Photograph by A. Gii-aiido)!, Paris. 



RENEE OF FRANCE. 253 

her personal bearing. At the time of her marriage 
she was eighteen, and her husband twenty. The 
bridegroom, Ercole, as became an Itahan prince of 
the renaissance, was a lover and patron of the fine 
arts and of literature. He formed the nucleus of 
the celebrated museum of Ferrara, and was a skilful 
collector, especially of medals. He encouraged the 
industrial arts in his principality, and was a great 
builder both of palaces and fortifications. He was 
tall and of a fine presence, inheriting much of the 
personal beauty of his mother, but effeminate and 
self-indulgent. He shrank from the personal hard- 
ships and suffering which military leadership would 
have entailed upon him. In short, he was as 
inferior to Kenee in character as he excelled her 
in person. 

Nevertheless, this inherent want of harmony 
between them did not immediately make itself felt. 
After the gorgeous festivals given in Paris in June 
and July to celebrate the marriage, the bride and 
bridegroom remained in France till nearly the end 
of September, putting off their departure on ac- 
count of the plague, which then was raging in 
Italy. When at last they arrived on the other side 
of the Alps, one of the first pieces of news which 
reached them was that the Florentines, then fight- 
ing for their liberty, had chosen Ercole as captain- 
general of their forces. If he had had anything of 
the soldier in him, he would have eagerly seized 



254 ^ly^ FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

the opportunity for active service. But he vi^as 
not a soldier. He may have been a diplomatist, 
for he tried both to accept and to decline the offer 
at the same time : that is, he nominally accepted it, 
but appointed another man to act in his place. He 
sent a deputy to do the fighting, and he remained 
and went on with his wedding festivities. " I have 
married a wife, therefore I cannot come," was his 
excuse for his indolence. 

The inhabitants of Modena and Ferrara were 
bidden to banish from the sight of their young 
prince and his bride all signs of the mourning and 
desolation caused by the plague. Nothing was to 
be visible but mirth and jollity. All persons who 
had fled from the city to escape the pestilence were 
bidden to return, the bells were to ring, the markets 
and churches were to be reopened, the university 
professors were told to resume their classes. An 
order was issued that all black was to be discarded, 
and the inhabitants of Ferrara were bidden to array 
themselves in their gayest clothes. No measures 
were neglected to compel the appearance of re- 
joicing. 

One wonders how long it was before the com- 
passionate child in whose honour all this was done 
discovered the truth. The first impression she pro- 
duced among the Ferrarese was, we are told, one 
of disappointment ; they did not hesitate to call 
her " ugly and hunchbacked." But they were not 



RENEE OF FRANCE. 255 

long in discovering that she was nevertheless ' ' a 
real princess." Her gentleness, compassion, and 
generosity soon won the hearts of the Ferrarese. 
The circle which she made for herself in her new 
home was one where learning was honoured and 
encouraged, and she gathered about her some of 
the most famous men and women of thought and 
letters in Europe. Among these may be mentioned 
Bernardo Tasso, her secretary, the father of the 
poet; Clement Marot, the Frenchman, translator 
of the Psalms into his native tongue; John Calvin, 
who found an asylum at Ferrara before he estab- 
lished himself at Geneva; Eabelais; Vittoria 
Colonna, Marchioness of Pescara, the friend of 
Michel Angelo ; Lavinia della Kovere, great-niece 
of Pope Julius II. ; Bernardino Ochino, the great 
Capuchin preacher, of whose eloquence Charles V. 
had said, " That man would make the very stones 
weep." After an effort to reform the Church from 
within, he threw in his lot with the Geneva Ee- 
formers. There was also the learned Professor 
Fulvio Morata, whose brilliant daughter, Olympia 
Morata, was chosen by Kenee to be the special 
friend and companion of her own eldest child, Anna, 
afterwards Duchess of Guise. Olympia joined the 
reformed religion, and before the end of her short 
life devoted herself entirely to its cause. 

It will be gathered from the mere enumeration 
of this list that Ken^e very early showed her interest 



256 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

in the reform of religion, and her determination to 
use her power to protect leading Keformers when 
the storm of persecution burst upon them. 

When Een^e was first married she was not 
Duchess of Ferrara, but the daughter-in-law of the 
reigning Duke, Alfonso; in him she ever found a 
friend and protector. When he died in 1634, 
and her husband succeeded to the dukedom, a 
new era in Kenee's life began. Duke Alfonso 
had kept up a perpetual struggle with the Papacy. 
The popes of his time had persisted in their 
refusal to invest him with the Duchy of Ferrara. 
It is quite probable that this political conflict 
with the Papacy inclined him, without sharing in 
Een^e's sympathy with the Keformation, to look 
leniently on the patronage and protection which 
she extended to leading reformers. One of Duke 
Ercole's first acts on his accession was to take 
steps to settle the question in dispute with Eome. 
In 1535 he went in person to Eome, hoping and 
expecting to have the matter adjusted to his 
satisfaction. Failing in this, he went on to Naples, 
where the Emperor Charles V. then was, and did 
homage to him for the Duchy of Modena. The 
result of the conferences between the Emperor and 
the Duke was that Ercole threw in his lot with 
Charles and abandoned his support of his wife's 
native country, France. It was largely a question 
of money. Both Pope and Emperor demanded 



RENEE OF FRANCE. 257 

huge sums of Ercole before confirming him in the 
possession of his duchies. Eabelais wrote of the 
business — 

" The Duke of Ferrara, who went to the emperor at 
Naples, return' d hither this morning. I know not yet 
how he has determined matters relating to the investi- 
ture and homage of his lands ; but I understand he is 
come back not well satisfy' d with the emperor. I fear 
he will be forced to empty his coffers of those crowns 
his father left him, and that the Pope and emperor will 

fleece him at pleasure My lord Bishop of 

Limoges, who was the king's ambassador at Ferrara, 
seeing that the said duke, without acquainting him with 
his design, has gone over to the emperor, is return'd 
to France. 'Tis feared that my Lady Kenee will suffer 
no little vexation by it: the duke having removed 
Madame de Soubise, her governess, and ordered her to 
be served by Italians, which don't look well." 

With the French ambassador in Ferrara with- 
drawn, and her French friends and attendants dis- 
missed, Renee must have suffered acutely by the 
isolation in which she was placed. Some of those 
French members of her court who were not dis- 
missed by Ercole, departed on their own initiative. 
Among these was Clement Marot, the poet. He 
had fled from France to escape persecution,* and 
he had no desire to court it in Ferrara. He with- 
drew to the independent republic of Venice, and 
there indited poetical letters to Margaret of Navarre 
describing the sorrows of Renee and the harshness 

* He had been imprisoned in France for the unpoetical crime 
of eating bacon in Len^. 
R 



258 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 

of her husband. Deeds of desperate daring may not 
be expected of poets, but it was not very chivalrous 
to run away and then call upon a lady on the other 
side of the Alps to come to Eenee's rescue and 
" Console-la.'" At a safe distance from Ercole, 
Marot could write at his ease, *' dur mari, rempli 
de violence,'' and thus adjure Margaret of Navarre — 

" Ha, Marguerite ! ecoute la souffrance 
Du noble coeur de Renee de France, 
Puis comme soeur plus fort que d'esperance 

Console-la. 
Tu sais comment hors son pays alia 
Et que parens et amis laissa la 
Mais tu ne sais quel traitement elle a 

En terra Strange.'* 

and so on for pages of neatly turned stanzas. 

Calvin's friendship was of a very different 
character. He arrived in Ferrara early in the same 
year when Clement Marot quitted it. He jour- 
neyed thither. Dr. Fairbairn believes, in the hope 
of mitigating, by the help of Eenee, the severity of 
the persecution of his co-religionists which was 
then beginning in France. He came under an 
assumed name — Charles d'Espeville — and by his 
ministrations and exhortations put new strength 
into the little band of reformers who gathered about 
Ken^e. He administered the Holy Communion to 
them in private, and sustained and elevated their 
minds to the point of bearing persecution for the 
sake of liberty of conscience. 



RENEE OF FRANCE. 259 

Keoee did not opcmly separate herself from the 
Church of Kome; but she absented herself from 
mass and from confession, and heard the services 
and sermons of the reformers in her own apart- 
ments. She was deeply impressed by the teachings 
of Calvin : his intensity of conviction and his abso- 
lute uprightness of conduct were a passport to her 
respect. The officers of the Inquisition were on his 
track in 1536, the date of his first visit to Ferrara, 
and he was arrested. While being conducted as a 
prisoner from Ferrara to Bologna his guards were 
overtaken by a company of armed men , who rescued 
him and set him at liberty. It is generally believed 
that the Duchess Kenee was the real author of this 
rescue. 

From this time forth Calvin frequently corre- 
sponded with the Duchess, and continued till 
his death to exercise great influence upon her 
mind. 

Eenee's home-life grew more and more difficult. 
Her husband was becoming increasingly subservient 
to the Papacy, while she was becoming absolutely 
emancipated from it. He identified himself in 
politics with the cause of Charles V., while she 
remained heart and soul for France. She had in 
all five children — Anna, born in 1531, Alfonso in 
1533, Lucrezia in 1535, Leonora in 1537, and Luigi 
in 1538. Their nurture and education must have 
been a source of disagreement rather than of union 



26o FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

when there were such fundamental differences be- 
tween their parents. 

Notwithstanding the ill-success of his mission to 
the Pope in 1535, Ercole had a little later, and 
perhaps by the aid of the golden crowns referred to 
by Rabelais, induced the Pope to receive his homage 
and recognise him as a vassal. In 1543, taking the 
opportunity of the Pope making a journey from 
Reggio to Bologna, Duke Ercole invited his Holiness 
to turn aside to pay a visit to Ferrara. Some idea of 
what this meant may be gathered from the fact that 
the Pope's suite consisted of 3,000 persons, includ- 
ing eighteen cardinals and forty bishops. One hun- 
dred and forty apartments in the ducal palace of 
Ferrara were placed at the disposal of the Pope and 
the most distinguished members of his retinue. On 
the Pope's arrival he was met by young Alfonso, the 
heir of the dukedom, accompanied by eighty noble 
youths all clad alike in crimson silk, velvet and gold. 
The young prince presented his Holiness with the 
keys of the city in a golden basin. He then kissed 
the Pope's feet, prostrating himself on the ground. 
The Pope returned the keys and gave the prince his 
blessing. Nothing was left undone to show honour 
and submission to the Pope. The Duchess Ren^e, 
attended by seventy-two noble ladies, also came out 
to meet him, and on the following day the Pope 
celebrated mass in the cathedral. After this he pre- 
sented the Duke Ercole with the golden rose in 




JOHN CALVIN. 

From the Painting by R. Houston. 



RENEE OF FRANCE. 261 

token of complete reconciliation, and the Duke made 
obeisance and kissed the feet of the Pontiff. Eenee 
was present at this ceremony, though her feelings 
in respect to it must have been well known. The 
five children of Ercole and Eenee in the evening 
took part in acting a Ijatin comedy by Terence in 
the presence of the Pope and his suite. The Pope 
on his departure bestowed rich gifts upon them and 
upon Eenee. His Holiness had only a few weeks 
previously signed the bull which established the 
Inquisition in Italy, and it is probable that neither 
he nor Eenee was unaware that he only awaited a 
favourable opportunity to let her taste its rigours in 
her own person. He on this occasion gave her a 
brief which exempted her from all Eoman jurisdic- 
tion except that of the Inquisition. 

Eenee was in the unfortunate position of being 
torn in two contrary directions. Her interests and 
domestic peace and happiness drew her one way ; 
her convictions and the influence of Calvin drew her 
another way. Calvin had to the full the clear and 
logical qualities of the French mind. He could not 
see that Eenee, being a convinced believer in the 
principles of the Eeformation, had any excuse for 
concealment or compromise. His own personal his- 
tory had been one of unhesitating sacrifice of every- 
thing for the sake of maintaining what he believed 
to be the truth. Born at Noyou, in the north of 
France, in 1509, he had been sent at fourteen years 



262 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

of age to Paris for his education. His father at first 
intended him for the church, but after three years 
changed his views, and sent Calvin at the age of 
seventeen to study law in the University of Orleans. 
At the age of twenty-three Calvin produced his first 
work — a commentary on Seneca's *' De Clementia." 
It contains, says Dr. Fairbairn, conclusive evidence 
of Calvin's finished scholarship, but not a trace of 
religious enthusiasm. It showed him to be a scholar, 
a moralist, and a jurist, with political ideas far in 
advance of his age. 

" He bids monarchs remember that their best guar- 
dians are not armies or treasuries, but the fidelity of 
friends and the love of subjects. Arrogance may be 
natural in a prince, but it does not therefore cease to be 
an evil. A sovereign may ravage like a wild beast, but 
his reign will be robbery and oppression, and the robber 
is ever the enemy of man. Cruelty makes a king exe- 
crable ; and he will be loved only as he imitates the 
gentleness of God. And so clemency is true humanity ; 
it is a heroic virtue, hard to practise, yet without it we 
cannot be men." * • 

This is all very good sense, and although in ad- 
vance of current thought when it was written, has 
now, in Western Europe at all events, almost passed 
from truth to truism. The next year saw a great 
development in Calvin's mind. He had witnessed 
in Paris the union in high quarters of religious 
fanaticism with flagrant immorality. He had also 

♦ Rev. A. IM. Fairbairn, D.D., Vol. 11., "Cambridge Modern 
Hihtory," p. 353. 



RENEE OF FRANCE. 263 

witnessed in intimate personal friendship the greater 
purity and integrity of the reformers. He had seen 
" Captive good attending Captain ill." He knew the 
character and aims of the men who were burned at 
the stake for conscience' sake, and the character and 
aims of the men who burnt them. He no longer had 
any choice ; he was forced to become a reformer and 
a Protestant. He was the real author of the address 
given by Nicholas Cop as Kector of the University 
of Paris on November 1st, 1533. It shows the 
awakening in the mind of its author of religious 
enthusiasm. It was full of the influence of Luther 
and Erasmus. Persecution for conscience' sake had 
already begun in Paris, and very soon after the de- 
livery of the address both Calvin and Cop had to fly 
for their lives. Calvin resigned all his offices, and 
became henceforth an exile and a wanderer. He 
formally and definitely renounced the Koman 
Catholic religion, and allied himself with the re- 
formers. His first city of refuge was Bale, which 
had for so many years sheltered Erasmus, and where 
his works had been printed by his friend John 
Froben. In Bale Calvin wrote his next work, the 
*' Institutio," with a noble prefatory letter addressed 
to Francis I. Dr. Eairbairn says of it — 

" It is one of the great epistles of the world, a splen- 
did apology for the oppressed and arraignment of the 
oppressors. It does not implore toleration as a con- 
cession, but claims freedom as a right. Its author is a 
young man of twenty-six, yet he speaks with the gravity 



264 FiyE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 

of age. He tells the king his first duty is to be just; 
that to punish unheard is but to inflict violence and 
perpetrate fraud.'' 

He speaks as a subject to his sovereign, but ** as 
a subject who knows that his place in the State 
is as legal, though not as authoritative, as the 
sovereign's." 

We have seen how in 1536 Calvin's wanderings 
led him to the court of the Duchess of Ferrara, and 
it is not difficult to picture the deep impression 
which his earnest, dignified character made upon 
her and her circle. Henceforth, in his correspon- 
dence with her, he was constantly addressing himself 
to the task of keeping her up to the patient en- 
durance of the wrongs and sufferings involved by 
the open profession of the reformed religion. She 
was in a very difficult position. Her mind was 
wholly convinced that the reformed religion was 
pure and acceptable to God; yet, lest she should 
entirely break with her husband, and be separated 
from her children, she desired to conform outwardly 
to Koman Catholic rites. She desired to hear mass 
in public, and then afterwards to receive the Holy 
Communion in her own apartments in private. A 
Calvinist preacher. Master Fran9ois, attached to the 
household of the Duchess, had advised her that this 
was permissible. Calvin would have none of it. In 
a letter of many pages, probably written in October, 
1540, he denounces Master Francois as " a wolf in 



RENEE OF FRANCE. 265 

sheep's clothing who, with feigned words, made 

merchandise of the Divine Word ; one who sought 

the honour which cometh from men, who was ready 

either to declare the truth or to conceal it, for filthy 

lucre's sake." He begs her not to believe for a 

moment that he has been incited to write by any of 

her household : — 

" I assure you, before God, that I do so without being 
requested by anyone. ... On the other hand, I 
would rather desire to be cast into the lowest depths of 
the abyss than to twist about or wrest the truth of God 
to make it suit the hatred or to procure the favour of 
any creature whatsoever. But what makes me speak out 
is that I cannot bear that the Word of God should be 
thus to you concealed, perverted, depraved, and cor- 
rupted in such essential things, by those in whom 
you have some confidence, to whom you have given 
authority." 

However deeply Eenee may have been moved by 
this letter, she did not conform to its demands. She 
refused to attend mass or go to confession, but 
she did not commit herself to a total breach with the 
Church of Kome. We have already seen that when 
she received the Pope Paul III. as her guest in 1543, 
she was present at the mass celebrated by the Pontiff 
in the cathedral of Ferrara. There must, up to 
1548, have been an understanding between Eenee 
and her husband that she would be allowed religious 
liberty as long as she did not openly renounce the 
Eoman Catholic faith. Calvin condemned this com- 
promise, but if Eenee continued to bow her knee in 



266 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

the house of Eimmon she may have consoled herself 
with the remembrance that however sternly Calvin 
might judge her, Elisha had, under similar circum- 
stances, gently bidden his convert "go in peace." 

But this outward conformity with the ceremonies 
of the dominant church did not permanently protect 
Kenee from persecution. In 1547 Francis I. died, 
and his sister, Margaret, Queen of Navarre, also died 
in the following year. As long as they lived they 
were powerful protectors of Eenee. Francis cared 
nothing for any reUgion, but he cared for his sister, 
and she was very sympathetic with the Protestant 
cause. Margaret was Eenee's friend. They had 
been brought up together, and Eenee had derived 
her first interest in the reformed religion from the 
lips of Margaret. Francis, through inherent in- 
stability of character, had only permitted persecu- 
tion of the French Calvinists by fits and starts, and 
through affection for his sister had never allowed it 
to extend into royal circles. 

But all this was changed when Francis I. was 
succeeded by Henry II., who, under the guidance 
and influence of Diana of Poitiers and of the 
Guises, supported the Inquisition in France and 
inaugurated a much severer and more searching 
persecution than had been known there during the 
reign of Francis. 

The change in France had its reflex effect upon 
Ferrara. The Inquisition was established there in 




HENRY II. 

From the Painting by Clouet. 

Phoio^yaph by X. Paris. 



RENEE OF FRANCE. 267 

1548, and an era of cruelty and misery began. 
Olympia Morata was driven in unmerited disgrace 
from the court, and in some unexplained way the 
anger of the Duchess Eenee was inappeasably 
aroused against her. Olympia was obliged to fly 
precipitately, not even taking her dresses and orna- 
ments with her, from the court which had been her 
home from childhood. What slander of Olympia 
Een^e was forced to believe will probably never be 
discovered. All that is known of Olympia redounds 
to her credit. She was not less famous as a scholar 
than as a devoted wife and daughter. Her pupil, 
Anna d'Este, Kenee's eldest daughter, had just been 
married to the Duke of Guise, so that she was not in 
Ferrara to plead for justice for her friend. Olympia 
wrote to the Duchess of Guise from Heidelberg, in 
1554, in terms implying unbroken affection. It 
may therefore be assumed that whatever the cause 
of the estrangement between Kenee and Olympia, 
the Duchess of Guise did not share with her mother 
in the alienation from her former friend. 

The Duke Ercole was urged on to persecute and 
torment those in his dominions who favoured the 
reformed religion. The first martyr was a young 
man named Fannio. He had studied the Bible 
eagerly, through an Italian translation, and he could 
not keep what he learned there to himself. He was 
always talking, preaching, teaching, and making 
converts. He was thrown into prison. The 



268 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

entreaties of his wife and sister caused him to recant 
in order to save his life. But when he had saved 
his life he felt that he had lost it, and once more he 
resumed his preaching ; he was again arrested and 
sent in chains to Ferrara. He was for two years in 
prison there, and was visited by Olympia Morata 
and by Lavinia della Eovere, on whom his confident 
faith and resolute cheerfulness made a deep im- 
pression. Benee interceded for him with Home, but 
to no avail. He was condemned by the Inquisition 
as a relapsed heretic and sentenced to death. The 
condemnation was confirmed by the Duke Ercole, 
and Fannio was strangled on August 22nd, 1550 : 
his body was afterwards burned and the ashes 
thrown into the river. Other martyrdoms followed ; 
and the Pope and the Inquisition constantly urged 
the Duke to deal with heresy in his own household, 
and especially in the person of his Duchess. 
If Henry II. had resembled his father he might 
have been depended on to protect his own flesh and 
blood. But he was all for rooting out heresy by the 
active persecution of heretics, even when the victim 
was his own mother's sister. In 1554 Duke Ercole 
applied to Henry II. to send him an "able and 
energetic ' ' teacher to turn the Duchess from the 
error of her ways. In a long letter written by King 
Henry in reply, he appointed the Inquisitor, 
Mathieu Ory, for this purpose; he dwelt on the in- 
expressible grief, sorrow, and annoyance he had felt 



RENEE OF FRANCE. 269 

on learning that his * * only aunt ' ' had suffered her- 
self to be led into the labyrinths of these unhappy 
opinions ; he said that these opinions involved 
nothing less than * ' the loss of the bodily and 
spiritual life of his aunt," whom he had always so 
much loved, esteemed, and honoured, "and doth 
singularly still." King Henry further reminded his 
aunt that one of the greatest favours which God 
had granted to her was ' * being the issue of the 
purest blood of the most Christian house of France, 
where no monster has ever existed.'' If she con- 
tinued to reject the holy Catholic faith, it would dis- 
please him, the King said, as much as anything in 
the world, and would cause him entirely to forget 
the friendship and all the observances and demon- 
strations of a good nephew. He therefore advised 
and commanded if the said lady should finally remain 
obstinate and pertinaceous in such errors, that the 
** said duke should cause the said lady to be put into 
a place secluded from society and conversation, 
where she may henceforth injure no one but her- 
self, taking from her her own children, and the 
whole of her family entirely, of whatever nation 
they be, who shall be found burdened with, or be 
vehemently suspected of, the said errors and false 
doctrines , that they may be put on their trial ; the 
said Ory being sent for, who is experienced in such 
matters belonging to his profession, he being In- 
quisitor of the faith in this kingdom." 



270 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

The concluding paragraph of the letter recom- 
mended that exemplary punishment be awarded to 
all who had encouraged the Duchess in her heresies, 
and that the Duke should subject them to such ' * exe- 
cutions and procedures. . . that justice may take 
effect without scandal or notoriety." No one will 
quarrel with Henry's expression that his love 
and esteem for his aunt was very singular in its 
manifestations. 

As long as the Inquisitor confined himself to 
arguments and persuasion, Kenee stood her ground. 
She was not convinced, and would not feign the 
conviction she did not feel. The first practical 
measure taken against her was to dismiss all the 
suspected members of her household. The Duke 
sent his own confessor to her, but he was as un- 
successful as Ory had been. Then the decisive step 
was taken. The Duchess Eenee was condemned 
to imprisonment in the castle of Ferrara. She was 
allowed two attendants, but no books; she was 
entirely cut off from the outside world and from her 
children. Her two younger daughters were sent to 
a convent, where it was expected that the effects of 
Renee's heretical training would be counteracted. 

The poor Duchess did not hold out for more than 
six days. Twenty-four of her servants had been sen- 
tenced at the same time with herself. " The execu- 
tions and procedures . . . without scandal or 
notoriety," as recommended in the letter of the King 



RE NEE OF FRANCE. 271 

of France, probably meant being strangled in prison 
without trial. Whatever mitigation of extreme 
penalties might be reserved for the Duchess, as a 
king's daughter, no similar leniency could be ex- 
pected for her servants. , She gave v^ay and "re- 
ceived pardon." She pretended to believe what she 
did not believe, and saved the lives of her servants ; 
she was restored to liberty and to her children. On 
the same day on which she was released she supped 
with her husband ; on the next day her younger 
children were given back to her, and her eldest son 
Alfonso returned from Flanders. She remained at 
heart a Calvinist, but attended mass and in other 
ways conformed to the rites and ceremonies of the 
Church of Rome. 

The news of her abjuration quickly spread among 
the reformers in various parts of Europe. Calvin 
seems to have judged her less harshly than might 
have been anticipated. He wrote to one of his 
friends from Geneva, November 1st, 1554: " There 
is sad intelligence, and more certain than I could 
wish, of the Duchess of Ferrara ; that, overcome by 
threats and reproaches, she has fallen. What shall 
I say, except that instances of fortitude in nobles 
are rare? " 

Some changes for the better took place in Eenee's 
position soon after her recantation ; first there was 
the return of her eldest son. Young Alfonso had 
had a quarrel with his father, and might on that 



272 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

account, although a reconciliation had been effected, 
have proved by his mere presence somewhat of a 
protection to his mother. The chief public events 
in Europe in 1555-6 did Eenee no ill service. In 
1555 Paul IV. became pope. He was a vehement 
supporter of the Inquisition, and had himself filled 
the office of Grand Inquisitor before his pontificate. 
In 1556 Philip II. succeeded his father as King of 
Spain, which meant that the most narrow-minded 
bigot in Europe could now support his bigotry with 
the resources of a powerful kingdom. It might 
appear that these two accessions were unfavourable 
to the cause of the Keformation, but the event 
proved otherwise. Paul IV. w^as a Neapolitan, and 
as a Neapolitan hated with a deadly hatred the 
Spaniards who were the masters of his native city. 
The new pope and the new king therefore were at 
odds, and soon they were at war. Paul IV. induced 
Henry II. of France and Ercole, Duke of Ferrara, 
to join him as allies, and although the armies of 
Philip II., under the generalship of the Duke of 
Alva, were victorious, yet the renewed alliance 
between France and Ferrara must have been 
consolatory to the ever-constant patriotism of the 
Duchess. The Duke of Guise, the son-in-law of 
Ercole and Eenee, commanded the armies of France 
during this short war. He was recalled to France to 
repair the disaster to French arms at the battle of 
St. Quentin, but he left his soldiers behind him to 



BENEE OF FRANCE. 273 

the number, says Brantome, of 10,000 in a terribly 
destitute condition. They were rescued by the 
princely generosity of Kenee. When her steward 
remonstrated with her about the expense incurred, 
she replied, " What would you have me do? These 
are poor Frenchmen and my countrymen, who, if 
God had given me a beard on my chin would have 
been my subjects." She was not quite correct, for 
it was her sister, not herself, who would have suc- 
ceeded to the throne of France but for the Salic 
law ; but the anecdote illustrates Eenee's attitude 
towards her native country, her inextinguishable 
love for it, and her instinctive translation of emotion 
into practical action. 

There is no reason to suppose that the religious 
change in Kenee went beyond outward observances. 
She kept up her correspondence with Calvin, and 
his letters to her after the date of her recantation, 
while stimulating her to greater courage, show no 
trace of any doubt as to the steadfast character of her 
faith in the reformed doctrines. 

"I beseech you, madame," he wrote in 1558, " at what- 
ever cost, to persevere in being daily taught in the school 
of our Lord Jesus Christ, as in fact you know well enough, 
without being admonished by others that you have need 
to be, especially at a time when the devil is stirring up 
all the vexations he can in order to make you turn away 
from it. . . . Only, madame, take courage ; yield not 
to Satan the vantage which he looks for of finding you 
unprepared. . . . Even were the condition of the 
children of God a hundred times harder than it is, not a 



274 FI^^ FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 

thought should be entertained of abandoning the good 
to which God by His infinite goodness has been pleased 
to call us." 

In the same letter he alludes to her * ' domestic 
vexations," and a little rashly counsels her to model 
her conduct on that set down in the 101st Psalm, 
where David so confidently says he will not know a 
wicked person, and that he will soon cut off all the 
ungodly out of the land. That was the very spirit 
which animated the authors of the Inquisition,* and 
from which both the Duchess and her adviser had 
suffered so cruelly. But Kenee's " domestic vexa- 
tions ' ' were about to be brought to an unexpected 
end. In 1559 Henry II. was accidentally killed in 
a tournament which was held to celebrate the mar- 
riage of his daughter with Philip of Spain; and, 
within less than three months death also claimed 
Ercole, the Duke of Ferrara. The nephew who had 
shown his " so singular affection " for his aunt as to 
advise her imprisonment, and the husband who had 
acted on the advice were now cut off. Een^e's son 
became the reigning duke. He was away in Paris 
at the time of his father's death. Henry II. had, 
in fact, on receiving his mortal wound, fallen into 
the arms of Prince Alfonso; Een^e's youngest son, 
Luigi, was also in France; the Cardinal Ippolito, 
the late Duke's brother, was in Kome. Eenee there- 

* It was this ppalra which the Pope, Gregory XIII., ordered to be 
chanted after the Te Doum in Rome at a thanksgiving service for the 
Massacre of Saint Bartholomew (see p. 244). 



1 



RENEE OF FRANCE, 275 

fore became Kegent until the return of her son. At 
first all seemed to promise well for a period of greater 
domestic happiness than any she had enjoyed since 
her alienation from her husband. The new duke 
sent most affectionate messages to his mother, and 
when he returned to Ferrara slipped away from the 
pomp and ceremonial of his public reception by the 
nobles in order to pay her a private visit. Acts of 
mercy graced his accession , and he conferred favours 
on the city and state of Ferrara. He also showed 
that he shared in no mean degree the enthusiasm 
for learning and the arts which distinguished so 
many of the Italian princes of the renaissance. He 
ordered that the library at Ferrara should be pro- 
vided, at whatever cost, with every book which had 
ever been printed. 

But Eenee's pride and satisfaction in her son's 
reign were not destined to be of long duration. On 
the visit of Alfonso II. to Kome, in 1560, to do 
homage to the Pope for his dukedom, Pius IV. re- 
proached him with the heresy of his mother. She 
was not only a heretic herself, but the protector of 
heretics. The Inquisition could not have free scope 
for its activities while Eenee remained at Ferrara. 
On his return Alfonso gave the alternative to his 
mother, either once more to abjure the reformed 
faith or to leave Ferrara and Italy. She chose the 
latter course, and in September, 1560, she left the 
city which had been her home for thirty-two years 



276 FIVE FAMOUS F BENCH WOMEN. 

to return to her native land. Alfonso did not allow 
his mother to depart without showing her strong 
marks of undiminished affection and respect. Her 
younger son, Luigi, then aged twenty-two, accom- 
panied her to her new home, and the Duke Alfonso, 
with a train of three hundred ladies and cavaliers, 
attended her on her journey as far as the frontier 
of his dominions. The people of Ferrara mourned 
her departure, as well they might, for she had ever 
been the generous protector of those who most 
needed her aid ; but it was not only as a Lady 
Bountiful that they missed her. Her departure 
was a symptom that henceforth the Papacy and the 
Inquisition would work their will unchecked in both 
Ferrara and Modena. Burnings, torture, and every 
kind of mental and physical anguish were used to 
root out heresy. In one year, not long after Eenee's 
departure from her son's dominions, there were four- 
teen people — thirteen men and one woman — burned 
alive in Modena alone. 

The last stage of Een^e's life opens with her 
return to France, in 1560. She first joined the 
French court during its sojourn at Orleans, on 
November 7th, 1560. The stirring events which 
were there taking place are narrated in the chapter 
on the life of Jeanne d'Albret. It is sufficient here 
to say that on the arrival of llen^e at Orleans the 
Guises had lately revenged the conspiracy of Am- 
boise by the slaughter of twelve hundred victims, 



BENEE OF FRANCE. 277 

that Louis of Bourbon, Prince of Conde, was lying 
in prison under sentence of death, and that Antony 
of Navarre was in hourly danger of assassination. 

Eenee's relations with the contending factions 
which divided the French court were peculiar. 
Francis, Duke of Guise, w^as her son-in-law ; but 
she was bound by the convictions of a lifetime to the 
Huguenot party and by ties of friendship to Jeanne 
d'Albret, Queen of Navarre, and to the Coligny 
brothers, Gaspard Coligny, Admiral of France, 
Francis d'Andelot, and Odet, the Cardinal. In 
Andelot she must have taken a special interest, be- 
cause it was through reading the books she had lent 
him during his imprisonment at Milan from 1551-6 
that he had become a Protestant. Francis had in 
his turn converted his brother Gaspard. He likewise 
had turned a period of imprisonment , after the battle 
of St. Quentin, to good account, reading the Bible 
and other books sent to him by his brother Francis 
d'Andelot. As his latest biographer has said, " im- 
prisonment gave him a chance to think."* 

Francis d'Andelot Coligny had suffered from 
Henry II. a similar indignity to that inflicted upon 
Kenee by her husband. The proud, strong man, 
no less than the delicate, deformed woman, had after 
imprisonment, bought liberty by a promise to attend 
mass. The Coligny s, especially the Admiral, were 

» *• Gaspard de Coligny, Admiral of France," by A. W. Whitehead. 
(Methuen and Co.) 



278 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

the strongest and best characters among the French 
noblemen who joined the Huguenot cause. If there 
had been among them a larger number of men of 
equal fibre the whole issue would have been very 
different. The Reformation in France was too much 
based on party rancour, and too little on genuine 
religious conviction. Its roots did not go sufficiently 
deep into what is strongest in human character to 
give it a firm and permanent hold on the soil. The 
Colignys were Huguenots from genuine religious 
conviction, but with many of the other leaders, on 
both sides, it seems a mere accident with which of 
the contending parties they would ally themselves. 
The Duke of Guise, for instance, had no fixed and 
unalterable objection to the principles of the Re- 
formation, or he would hardly have married Renee's 
daughter; he was forced, as it were, into the front 
rank of its opponents by the hostility of his house to 
the houses of Bourbon and Chatillon, the first repre- 
sented by Antony of Navarre and Conde, the second 
by the brothers Coligny. 

Anna d'Este, Duchess of Guise, had in the 
early years of her life something more than a 
feeling of toleration for the Huguenots. After 
the discovery of the conspiracy of Amboise, 
w^hen the awful cruelties which avenged it were 
being carried out, we are told that many of " the 
executions were reserved until after dinner, contrary 
to custom. . . to afford some pastime for the 



RENEE OF FRANCE. ' 279 

ladies.'' On the occasion of one of these terrible 
spectacles Anna d'Este, bathed in tears, rushed from 
the balcony from which she had just witnessed the 
butchery of the aged Baron of Castelnau, and flew 
to the apartments of the Queen Mother, who coolly 
demanded " what was the matter? " The Duchess 
replied that she had all the occasion in the world 
for her grief, that she had just witnessed the most 
piteous tragedy and strange cruelty, and that she 
doubted not that the punishment of God must follow 
on such inhumanity.* The frightful cruelty with 
which the conspiracy of Amboise was revenged made 
even the Chancellor, who had given his consent to 
the executions, exclaim to the Cardinal Guise, " 
Cardinal ! you will ruin the souls of us all." It was 
this pouring out of the best blood of France like 
water for which the Guises were responsible ; and 
the terror they had awakened had no small share 
in producing their downfall. No one felt safe as 
long as such tigers were predominant in the council 
chamber of the King. The tension in Orleans was 
tremendous.. The town was filled with troops. The 
population had been disarmed. There was scarcely 
a knife left for table use.! This was the court with 
which Een^e had now cast in her lot. She was 

* Did this story suggest to S<hakespeare the reimrk of Touchstone in 
the first Act of As You Like It: "It is the first time that I ever 
heard breaking of ribs was sport for ladies" ? 

t " Life of Coligny " by Whitehe.id, p. 90. 



28o FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

received with all honour by the French king and his 
brothers, the King of Navarre, and all the great 
personages of the court. The event of her arrival 
was notified to Queen Elizabeth of England by her 
ambassador. Sir Nicholas Throckmorton. 

On learning the condition of affairs, and especi- 
ally the peril in which Cond^ then was, the Duchess 
Eenee remonstrated very earnestly with her son-in- 
law, the Duke of Guise, and declared that if she had 
arrived while Conde was still at liberty she would 
have prevented his imprisonment. As a royal 
princess she insisted on what she thought the 
peculiar iniquity of doing violence to princes of the 
blood. "Such wounds," she said, "bleed long, 
and it had never ended well with anyone who had 
been first in the assault upon chiefs of royal blood." * 
The Constable did not come to Conde 's rescue, but 
Admiral Coligny hurried to Orleans. He knew his 
danger, but said he committed the event to God. 
Henceforward, till his murder on St. Bartholomew's 
day twelve years later, he was the recognised chief 
of the Huguenot party. 

But neither the prayers of Eenee nor the threats 
of Coligny availed. The Guises were all powerful, 
and they intended that Conde should die. But a 
stronger power than they could contradict thwarted 
their intents. The death of Francis II. on Decem- 
ber 5th changed the whole aspect of affairs. The 

* Pe TboTi. Quoted in " Memorials of Renee of France," p. 181. 




ELIZABETH, QUEEN OF ENGLAND. 

From a Recently Discovered Portrait at Siena. 



RENEE OF FRANCE. 281 

power of the Guises fell like a house of cards ; 
Catherine de Medici became Kegent, and during the 
next few months nearly all signs pointed to the 
probable triumph of the Huguenot cause throughout 
France. 

We can only follow these events here in so far 
as they are connected with the Duchess Eenee. She 
used the opportunity of the presence of the English 
ambassador in the court at Orleans to put herself in 
direct communication with Queen Ehzabeth. Sir 
Nicholas Throckmorton acquaints his mistress with 
the results of his conference with Renee in a long 
despatch, dated Orleans, January 10th, 1560- (61). 

" The old Dutchesse of Farare (off whose aryvall at 
thys courte 1 did advertyse your Ma^ie before thys tyme) 
did send one off hyr syrvants unto me with goode words 
of vysytation : who desyryd me on hyr behalffe to take 
the payns to come and vysyte hyr at hyr lodgyngs unto 
whom she then (as the messanger sayd) wold declare 
more off hyr mind." 

The ambassador accordingly waited on ' ' the old 
Dutchesse of Farare " on January 6th. Eenee was 
only fifty years old, but at this time Elizabeth was 
not much more than twenty-seven, and twenty-seven 
may well look upon fifty as well advanced into the 
vale of years. Eenee expressed to Throckmorton 
the reverence, love, and honour she felt for the 
Queen of England. She congratulated Elizabeth on 
having won the love and obedience of her subjects, 



282 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

on her good success against her enemies, and that 
which none of her ancestors could ever bring to 
pass, ** the amy tie of the realm of Scotland." This 
prosperity, Eenee continued, according to the am- 
bassador, had caused many people, 

" yea those that be not of hyr relygion to be perswaded 
that the Lord doth sustayne hyr and prosper hyr pro- 
ceedyngs, and theyreby are more inclynyd to give eare 
to the treuthe." 

The Queen Mother, Catherine de Medici, Eenee 
was persuaded, was one of these : 

" beyng a virtuos and sage lady, she dothe begynn to 
herkynne to the trewthe . . . . ' which,' sayd she, 
' wold in my oppinion, take better effect yff the quene 
your Mrs would use some perswasions either by wryting 
or otherwyse unto hyr. You will not believe,' sayd she, 
'the goode towardnes that ys in the Kyng for his age, 
and yt were grett pytie that he should not be instructed 
in the treuthe, seyng so good a dyspocition and so grett 
a spryte be mette in hym together.' " 

She urged Sir Nicholas also to use his good offices 

in persuading the Queen Mother of the " trewthe," 

because there was no means so certain of producing 

a perfect and assured amity between France and 

England as an amity in religion. Sir Nicholas 

deftly excused himself from undertaking the task of 

converting Catherine. 

" I dyd take myselffe not to be a fytt instrument to 
have to do in that matter. But rather thowgthe that she 
(beyng the kyng's nere kynswoman .... and in 
credytte with the quene mother .... and all other 



RE NEE OF FRANCE. 283 

grett personagis of thys realme, the duke of Guys 
havynge here in this courte a grett authorytie being hyr 
son yn law) was in my opinyon a most convenyent meyne 
to worke in this matter." 

With one more homely touch the letter con- 
cludes : 

" Then she sayd ' besyds these respects that dothe 
move me to love and honor the quene, your Mrs, whearoff 
I have alredy spokyne to you, theyre is another cause 
wyche, thowgh yt be off less wheight, dothe worke yn 
me a parciall goode wyll towards hyr. There was an old 
acquayntance betwyxte the quene hyr mother and me 
when she was on off my sister quene Claude's mayds of 
honor.* I did tell the duchesse that I would not forge tt 
to advertysse your Ma^ie of all that she sayd unto me. 
And so after a few obsequious words I toke my leave off 
her. While the duchesse of Farare and I talked together, 
the duchesse of Guise her dawghter came ynto the 
chamber." 

Kenee would probably remember as she sent 
this message to Queen Elizabeth about her mother, 
the embassy of Cardinal Wolsey to Paris, before the 
marriage of Henry VIII. to Anne Boleyn ; his 
mission being to propose the marriage of his master, 
first to Margaret of Angouleme, and failing that to 
Kenee herself. It may well have reached Eenee's 
ears that a kindly reference to * * the quene hyr 
mother" would smooth the way to Elizabeth's 
favour. Professor Beesly, in his monograph on 
Elizabeth, says that she placed great reliance on the 
courage and fidelity of her kinsmen on the Boleyn 
side. When she was dying the one person to whom 



284 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

she seemed to cling with trust and affection was 
Lord Nottingham, the Admiral, a second cousin of 
Anne Boleyn.* 

Apart from the humorous and personal touches 
in the foregoing letter the most interesting part of it 
is that which shows the hopes then entertained by 
the Huguenots of winning over the Queen Mother 
to their side. In 1561 Eenee did not know that 
vertuos and sage lady ' ' as well as she learned to 
know her later. Catherine treated her husband's 
aunt with courtesy and allotted her a distinguished 
place in the ceremonies of state. The two ladies 
were further drawn together by their common 
interest in astrology. Catherine constantly tried 
to read the future in the stars, and often discoursed 
on the subject with Kenee, whose proficiency in it 
she warmly extolled. 

Not long after the court left Orleans the Duchess 
Eenee was installed in the castle of Montargis, and 
it became her home henceforth till her death. The 
castle had been a favourite royal residence before 
the building of Fontainebleau, and had acquired the 
name of " Le Berceau des Enfans de la France." 
It was very large, capable of accommodating a 
garrison of 6,000 men. The Duchess was made 
Governor of both castle and town, and was known 
in the district as "La Dame de Montargis." During 

* " Queen Elizabeth " by E. S. Beesly, p. 236. Twelve English 
Statesmen series. Macmillan and Co. 



RENEE OF FRANCE. 285 

her occupation of the castle she constantly converted 
it into a harbour of refuge for persecuted Huguenots. 
By hundreds at a time she sheltered and relieved 
them. For a short time, indeed, it seemed that the 
Huguenots would have no need of protection, the 
colloquy of Poissy and the edict of January, 1562, 
recognising the legality of protestant v^orship out- 
side the walls of towns, seemed to promise that a 
period of religious liberty was assured. But the 
massacre of Vassy, which followed within forty days 
of the promulgation of the edict, showed that it 
was not worth the paper on which it was written. 
In February, 1562, a congregation of Huguenots 
numbering about eight or nine hundred assem- 
bled for worship in a barn outside the little town 
of Vassy. The sound of their bell unfortunately 
attracted the attention of the Duke of Guise, who 
was in the neighbourhood. He and his armed escort 
surrounded the barn and shot down the assembled 
congregation unarmed as they were. Sixty-four 
were killed on the spot, and more than two hundred 
grievously wounded. 

The outbreak of the first of the long series of 
civil wars was the direct consequence of this treach- 
erous outrage. Theodore Beza, as leader of the 
French Protestant Church, demanded vengeance of 
Catherine and of Antony of Navarre, who was then 
associated with her in the regency. Eeceiving no 
answer but mocking and contemptuous words from 



286 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

Antony, B6za retorted, ** Sire, it is, I confess, for 
the Church of God, in whose name I speak, to en- 
dure blows and not to give them. But may it please 
you remember it is an anvil which has worn out 
many hammers." 

When news of the massacre reached Eenee, she 
caused the gates of Montargis to be closed so that 
no one, whether Catholic or Huguenot, could pass 
in or out. She was confronted by those within the 
town who sympathised with the party of the Duke 
of Guise and applauded the cruel massacre which 
had just taken place at his instigation. A plot was 
on foot to repeat at Montargis the example given 
at Vassy. But Eenee' s energy and determination 
frustrated the scheme. She had but very few sol- 
diers at her disposal, and she sent in all haste to 
Prince Louis of Bourbon (Conde) for a detachment 
of horse and foot. On their arrival the heads of the 
plot were tried, three were hanged, some were im- 
prisoned, and all their followers were disarmed. 
The Duchess's promptitude and vigour showed that 
she was determined to make her authority respected, 
and that she would leave nothing undone to preserve 
law and order in the town of which she was the 
governor. 

The first civil war had now begun. As a princess 
of the blood royal of France Kenee had no sym- 
pathy with those who were in arms against their 
sovereign, but she made Montargis a place where 



RENEE OF FRANCE, 287 

peaceful people, whether protestant or catholic, 
could carry on peaceful pursuits in peace. They 
could worship God, each in the way his conscience 
preferred, safe from violent molestation. Beza says 
that whilst all was war and tumult outside, perfect 
security reigned inside Montargis, and it became a 
place of refuge for Huguenots from Paris, Melun, 
Nemours, Louis, Sens, Blois, and Tours ; many also 
of the Eoman religion sought the peace there 
.which they looked for in vain elsewhere. 

When Conde's soldiers were withdrawn, the 
Duchess raised a small band of her own to guard the 
walls and gates of her town and castle. But this 
period of tranquillity was not destined to be of long 
duration. The royal army, under the command of 
the Duke of Guise, having accomplished the capitu- 
lation of Bourges by the end of August, marched on 
to occupy Montargis. The Duchess was greatly 
perturbed. She counselled the Huguenot ministers 
to withdraw to a castle in the neighbourhood whose 
owner could be relied on to shelter them, and then 
she gathered all the hundreds of poor Huguenots in 
the town within the protecting walls of her own 
castle, so that it resembled a hospital rather than 
a royal residence. 

The first to arrive were the Duchess of Guise, 
Kenee's daughter, accompanied by her brother-in- 
law, the Cardinal. Then came the young King, 
Charles IX., and his suite, and later Rente's greatly 



288 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

dreaded son-in-law, the Duke of Guise. Anna, 
Duchess of Guise, had done her best to allay her 
mother's fears and anxieties. Charles IX. ** caressed 
much the lady his aunt, kissing her several times, 
and shedding tears." The formidable Duke, when 
he arrived, permitted his soldiers to wreck the pro- 
testant place of worship and to re-erect the statues 
and altars which had been cast down in the Eoman 
churches. The seditious part of the population, 
some of whom had been banished under Een^e's 
orders, now returned, and the whole place was on 
the brink of a violent outbreak of fanaticism and 
disorder. Eenee, however, obtained a proclamation 
from the king ordering, under penalty of death, 
that no one should be interfered with in the practice 
of either religion. The Duke of Guise went on to 
the siege of Orleans, but before he left he deprived 
Eenee of the governorship of Montargis. While at 
Orleans he went further in his hostile measures 
against her, and gave orders in the King's name that 
she should leave Montargis, "that nest of Hugue- 
nots," and live either at Fontainebleau, St. Ger- 
main, or Vincennes. He not only gave the order, 
but sent four companies of horse, under the com- 
mand of Sieur de Malicorne, to see that it was car- 
ried out. Een^e offered a courageous and stubborn 
resistance. She warmly asserted her own loyalty 
and that of every person in her castle. She main- 
tained that in France she was subject to no one but 



RENEE OF FRANCE. 289 

the King. When Malicorne threatened to bring a 
storming party to make a breach in her walls with 
battering rams, she said she would place herself 
upon the battlements so that she would be the first 
to be slain, and added that "she had no lack of 
friends and relatives who would avenge with spirit 
any injury done to herself." Malicorne had not 
expected this spirited reception from the * * olde 
Dutchesse of Farare," and while he was hesitating 
what next to do, the news came, February, 1563, of 
the assassination of the Duke of Guise at Orleans, 
by Poltrot, a Huguenot. After this Beza writes of 
Malicorne that " he wanted not the will to do mis- 
chief, but that "it was with him as with organs 
that lack blowing." His active career of mischief 
was suspended, and the Duchess Kenee was left in 
undisturbed possession of her castle. 

The murder of the Duke had miserable conse- 
quences on the cause of Protestantism in France. 
Not only did a suspicion of complicity attach to the 
great name of Coligny, but it awakened in the 
Duchess of Guise and in her son an insatiable desire 
for vengeance. Anna d'Este had been to some ex- 
tent, during her husband's life, a moderating in- 
fluence. Her brother-in-law the cardinal had said 
roundly that he knew his sister-in-law was a Pro- 
testant ; this probably meant no more than that she 
had exhibited some pity and compassion for the 
sufferings of Protestants; but after her husband's 



290 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

murder she was a changed woman. Her one thought 
was to avenge his death. The cruelty from which 
she had formerly shrunk now became, she believed, 
her duty. Her young son Henry, Duke of Guise, 
she brought up with the idea that he was no true 
son unless he dipped his hand into the blood of the 
murderers of his father. The Catholic opinion of 
the time judged Coligny to be guilty; and the 
hideous and revolting attack of the young Duke 
upon the aged and wounded Coligny on St. Bar- 
tholomew's Day, 1572, and the barbarous outrages 
on the corpse, were doubtless excused in his own 
eyes because they were perpetrated as revenge for 
his father's death. 

The Duchess of Guise became the leader of the 
Roman Catholic ladies in the court. Her influence 
was now always used to encourage greater cruelty 
and ferocity towards the Huguenots. An undated 
letter from Calvin to the Duchess Renee bears in- 
ternal evidence that it was written shortly after the 
murder of the Duke of Guise. In it Calvin beseeches 
Renee to exert her influence with the Duchess of 
Guise, that "she may be induced ... to 
moderate her passions, which she can only obey as 
she does by fighting against God." He asserts that 
Renee's daughter was joining herself with those who 
were plotting " to exterminate all Christianity out 
of the world." Calvin had consistently opposed all 
acts of violence and bloodshed; this gave him a 



RENEE OF FRANCE. 291 

strong moral position in attempting to check their 
consequences. In particular he had reprobated any 
murderous attempt on the life of the Duke of Guise. 
**It was entirely owing to me," he wrote, "that 
men of daring courage had not tried to rid the world 
of him. They were held back solely by my exhorta- 
tions." But, however free from blame himself, 
his party had to reap the bitter harvest arising 
from the violence and treachery of some of its mem- 
bers. *' What's done cannot be undone " by all the 
sorrows and tears in the world. Of course the 
Huguenots had had hideous provocation ; but they 
were standing for purer morals and a more spiritual 
religion, and when they descended to treacherous 
murder and to brutal and irreverent desecration of 
altars, tombs, and the symbols of Catholic worship, 
they fell from a greater height than when Eoman 
Catholics did similar things. 

Eenee stands absolutely blameless in the matter 
of the murder of the Duke of Guise. His death re- 
lieved her from a dangerous and difficult position, 
but she never condoned or excused it, and conse- 
quently had to endure coldness and even bitter words 
and false accusations from those enthusiastic Hugue- 
nots who believed they could promote good by doing 
evil. There is a long and terribly involved letter 
from Eenee to Calvin on the whole matter of the 
murder of the Duke and similar acts of violence. 
In this letter she more or less defends the Duke, 



292 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 

saying that she knew he had protected the property 
of Coligny from confiscation and his castle from sack 
and pillage, and in other ways had shown humanity 
superior to that of the bulk of his party. She urges 
that even now, when he was dead, his enemies pur- 
sued his memory with falsehood and slander. 

" I must tell you,*' she naively says, " that I neither 
hold nor consider [it possible] that such falsehoods pro- 
ceed from God. I know that he did persecute, but I do 
not know, neither do I believe, to express myself freely 
to you, that he was a reprobate by Divine judgment. 
For he gave signs to the contrary before he died. Only 
people do not choose that it should be spoken of, and 
there is a wish to shut and lock up the mouths of those 
who know it. As for myself, I know that I have been 
hated and held in abomination by many persons because 
he was my son-in-law, on whom they wished to lay the 
faults of all." 

She reprobates the idea that the cause of God can 
be served by acts of the devil. She states that Jeanne 
D'Albret, Queen of Navarre, had in conversation 
maintained a contrary view and had said that in 
defence of the reformed religion all weapons, even 
falsehood, were allowable.* 

" Which view," continues the Duchess Ren^e, " I could 
not but resist saying that God is not the father of lies, 
but that it is the devil who is so ; and that God is the 
God of truth, and that His word is powerful enough to 
defend his own people, without our taking up the arms 

♦One would like to have heard Qaeen Jeanne's account of this 
conversation before forming a judgment on her part in it. Renee's 
report is not consistent with Jeanne's general character. 



RENEE OF FRANCE. 293 

of the devil and of his children. ... M. Calvin, I 
am sorry you do not know how half the world conducts 
itself in this kingdom nor the habits of . . . ill-will 
which prevail in it even to the exhorting of simple young 
women to say that they should like to kill and strangle 
with their own hands. That is not the rule which Jesus 
Christ and His Apostles have given us : and I say it with 
all the great regret of my heart on account of the affec- 
tion which I feel to the religion and to those who bear 
its title." 

A modern soldier has described war as " hell let 
loose." How much the civil wars of religion in the 
sixteenth century deserved such a description, this 
letter of Eenee's vividly brings before us. 

In 1565 the wife and mother of the murdered 
Duke of Guise, attended by veiled women, all 
dressed in the deepest mourning, and uttering cries 
and groans, had flung themselves at the feet of 
Charles IX. demanding ** justice" upon the 
murderers. The torture and final execution of Pol- 
trot had not sated their desire for vengeance; they 
were aiming at Coligny. However, an apparent 
reconciliation took place in 1566 at Moulins. 
Coligny then positively swore that he was neither 
the author of the murder nor a consenting party to 
it. The council declared him innocent. Where- 
upon, by command of the King, a formal recon- 
ciliation took place; the widow, Anna d'Este, and 
Cardinal Guise embraced Admiral Coligny, and 
promised no longer to bear malice in their hearts 



294 F^y^ FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 

against him. It is to be noted, however, that the 
young Henry, Duke of Guise, took no part in this 
reconciliation, and refused to acknowledge the 
verdict of the council. The marriage shortly after 
this between the widowed Duchess of Guise and 
Jacques of Savoy, Duke of Nemours, confirmed her 
close future identification with the most vehement 
section of the anti-Huguenot party. The Duke of 
Nemours had been pledged to marry Fran^oise de 
Rohan, a protestant and a near relative of Queen 
Jeanne of Navarre. He threw her over and obtained 
a papal dispensation, freeing him from the obliga- 
tions into which he had entered with her. This was 
to enable him to marry the Duchess of Guise. 
Renee was not present at her daughter's second 
marriage, and there is no record of her opinion upon 
it. It deeply offended Queen Jeanne, who left the 
court and endeavoured to extend protection and 
friendship to the forsaken Mademoiselle de Rohan. 

But little remains to be told of the life of the 
Duchesse Renee. She continued in fairly frequent 
correspondence with Calvin till his death at Geneva 
in May, 1564. Her position towards the reformed 
church is marked by Beza's dedication to her of his 
edition of Calvin's shorter works, and his prefatory 
letter addressed to the " tres illustre, et tres haute 
Princesse, Ma Dame, Renee de France, Duchesse 
de Ferrare et de Chartres." 

France, now and for many years after Renee's 



RENEE OF FRANCE. 295 

death, was engulfed under the desolating waves of 
civil war. During what remained to her of life, she 
could do little beyond expressing her sympathy with 
the reformed churches of Europe, and opening the 
hospitable and protecting castle at Montargis to 
refugees who were suffering for " the religion." A 
cruel massacre of Huguenots at Orleans in 1569 
caused a great flight thence, especially of women and 
children, to Kenee's sheltering care. She proved 
herself a guardian angel to 460 of these poor 
creatures. It was her last remaining pleasure to 
succour and defend them. Through the evil offices 
of those who had the ear of the King in Paris, she 
was ordered by her sovereign to turn her poor 
pensioners away. She pleaded that she was too 
nearly related to the crown to be ill-affected towards 
it ; that the poor people within her walls were quite 
harmless, meddling with nothing which could be 
injurious to the welfare of the King or of the State. 
But nothing she said produced any effect, and the 
usually gentle Kenee burst into tears of rage, saying 
to the messenger, " If I had on my chin what you 
have on yours, I could kill you with my own hands." 
Bitterly grieved as she was, she did not let her 
fugitives go empty away. She provided them with 
150 waggons, eight travelling coaches, and the 
necessary number of horses and drivers. The feel- 
ings of the refugees on leaving her may well be 
imagined. They fully believed that they would be 



296 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

overtaken and massacred; and at one moment in 
their flight they all thought their hour had come ; a 
troop of 200 armed horsemen was sent out by the 
Catholic party to waylay and kill them ; the ministers 
who acted as scouts perceived the approach of this 
murderous band and were in the very act of exhort- 
ing their poor pilgrims to die with courage, when 
suddenly a rescue party of 800 Huguenot soldiers 
appeared, who escorted Ken^e's fugitives in safety 
to La Charity. No doubt it was not long before 
they contrived to let Kenee hear of their marvellous 
escape and new harbour of refuge. 

A temporary peace was proclaimed in 1570. Some 
important concessions were made to the Huguenots. 
They were allowed liberty of worship in all the towns 
then in their possession, and besides this in the 
suburbs of two towns in each of the provinces of 
France ; they were likewise granted an amnesty for 
past offences, a right to admission to public office, 
and permission to reside where they would. Four 
towns. La Kochelle, La Charity, Cognac, and Mon- 
tauban, were to be held by Huguenot troops for two 
years as sureties for the carrying out of the fore- 
going conditions. This peace was called ** la paix 
hoiteuse et mdlassise,'" because of its two chief 
negotiators — one, Biron, was lame, and the other 
bore the name of Malassise. 

A Huguenot synod was called at La Eochelle in 
the following year, whence Coligny was summoned 



RENEE OF FRANCE. 297 

to Blois, and later to Paris, by the young King, and 
the events were put in train which culminated in 
the Massacre of St. Bartholomew. 

In the meantime, Duchess Eenee had much 
trouble with the French court about the payment of 
the dowry which had been settled on her at the 
time of her marriage. Chartres, which had been 
assigned to her with a revenue of 1,100 livres, she 
declared cost her each year a much larger sum. 
Gisors and Vernon had been made over to another 
claimant. An attempt had been made to charge 
on Renee's estates the repayment of the debts of 
her late father, who had died some fifty years earlier. 
" My daughter, De Nemours," as Eenee called her 
in a long explanatory letter to her son, the Duke of 
Ferrara, had exerted herself with much care and 
diligence to recover the title deeds and papers which 
would make good her mother's claim to the lands 
and money settled on her at her marriage. Eenee 
entreats Alfonso not to be dissatisfied with what 
she is surrendering out of her property to the 
Duchess of Nemours, and reminds him that the 
terms which had been granted to her were due to 
the favour his sister enjoyed at the court, and also 
to her great personal exertions. The Duchess of 
Nemours seems to have had a very good eye to the 
main chance, but she never broke with her mother 
or neglected her. The rest of Een^e's life was 
spent at Montargis. She was safe in her castle 



298 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN. 

when the tornado of St. Bartholomew broke over 
Paris ; but her daughter and son-in-law and grand- 
son had a large share of the blood-guiltiness of that 
awful crime. Seventeen days after August 24th, 
1572, the Duchess of Nemours wrote to her mother 
from Paris a letter in which she observes that. 
Here things seem to be very peaceable , and no 
murder is committed nor act of offence that I have 
heard of continued to be done to any person." 
She adds that the King was having lists made of 
the names, titles, and residences of all who were of 
"the religion," with prohibition to injure or 
slander them. This was as if Herod had opened an 
infant school after the massacre of the innocents. 
The Duchess, continuing her letter, said, ** Madame, 
with regard to my health, it appears to me that for 
three nights past I have had better rest than I have 
been accustomed to, which has brought me much 
amendment." 

It was not many years after this that those 
wonderful words were written : — 

" Glamis hath murdered sleep, and therefore Cawdor 
Shall sleep no more, Macbeth shall sleep no more." 

The perpetual iteration in Macbeth that sleep could 
not visit with its consoling, refreshing power, the 
eyes that had gloated on the shedding of innocent 
blood, seems almost foreshadowed in the cold, formal 
words of Anna d'Este's letter. Poor woman, she 



BENEE OF FRANCE. 299 

was destined to drink to the dregs the bitter cup 
which she had pressed so callously upon others. In 
1588 her two sons were murdered at Blois by the 
order of Henry III. , and she herself was brought to 
the castle as a prisoner. It is said that her thoughts 
then went back to her mother, and that she ex- 
claimed, ** mother! w^hen your father built these 
walls, you did not expect that my children would 
have been hacked to pieces therein." 

The Duchess Eenee died within less than three 
years after the massacre of St. Bartholomew. The 
date of her death was June 12th, 1575. She was 
only sixty-five; but she had never been a strong 
woman, and the wars, tumults, and massacres 
which darkened her later years made her an old 
woman before her time. She was buried in the 
church belonging to the castle at Montargis, her 
tomb bearing the simple inscription, with no refer- 
ence to Ferrara : — 

" Ken^e de France, Duchesse de Chartres, Comtesse 
de Gisors et Dame de Montargis." 



I N DEX. 



Alenpon. Duke of (1429), 19. 22, 27, 
33 

, (1525), 71, 101, 108-112 

Alexander VI., Pope, 57, 249 
Alva, General, 228, 272 
Amboise. Tumult of, 204, 276-279 
Angouleme, Margaret of {tee 

Margaret) 

, Count of, 53 

, Charles, Duke of, 78, 132, 

137, 155 

, Duchess of (see Louise of 

Savoy) 
Anne of Beaujeu, 53, 54, 248 
Anne of Brittany, 55, 66, 248 
Arc, Joan of {see Joan of Arc) 
Armagnac, County of, 71, 72. 127 
Bale, 99, 263 

, Council of. 41 

Bartholomew. Massacre of St., 

225, 232, 242, 297, 298 
, , , joy caused in 

Rome by, 243, 244 
Baudricourt, Captain, 13-15 
Beaufort, Cardinal, 31, 41, 42 
Beaujeu, Anne of {see Anne) 
Beauvais. Bishop of, 38. 41. 45 
B6da, Noel, 86, 87 
Bedford, John, Duke of, 31 
Bellay. Jean du, 82. 99 

, Guillaume du, 159 

Berquin, Louis de. 76, 81. 87, 89-91, 

94. 95, 100 
B6za, Theodore, 87, 207, 216, 217, 

220, 223, 285-287, 294 
Boleyn, Sir Thomas, 106 

. Anne. 128, 142. 283, 284 

Borgia, Caesar, 249 

, Lucrezia, 214, 251 

, Roderigo {see Alexander VI.) 

Bourbon, Cardinal of, 205, 208, 

209, 226, 227 
, Antony of, King of Navarre, 

163, 187. 191-196, 200-224, 227, 

285 
, Catherine of, daughter of 

Jeanne d'Albret, 206, 233, 239, 

240 
, Charles of MontpensieP, 

Duke of {see Montpensier) 

, Louis of {see Cond6) 

, Susanne. Duchess of, 104 

Brandon, Charles, Duke of Suf- 
folk. 68-70 
Brittany. 57, 72, 248 
Bud6. 81, 82, 99 
Burgundy, Duke of, 11, 32 
Calvin, 99, 141, 217, 255, 258, 259, 

261-265, 271, 273, 289. 294 
Cambray, Treaty of, 135 
Catherine de Medici, 142, 163, 178, 

185, 186, 199. 200, 203-211, 213, 

215. 217, 227-229. 235-241. 279. 

281-284 
Catherine of Bourbon («m Bour- 
bon) 



Cellini, Benvenuto, 108 

Charles V., Emperor, 58, 61, 62, 66, 
74, 75, 94, 106, 107, 113. 130, 143. 
159. 160, 174, 180, 183, 184, 197, 
256 

Charles VII. of France, 9, 10. 16- 
18. 20, 29, 32, 42 

depicted by Shake- 
speare, 17 (note) 

VIII. of France, 53-56. 248 

IX. of France, 209. 211. 228, 

234. 236. 240-242, 287, 288, 293 

Chatillon, Madame de, 70, 75 
Chinon, Castle of, 16, 18, 56 
Civil wars in France {see France) 
Claude, Queen, 58-61, 66, 76, 137. 

249 
Clement VII., Pope, 144 
Cleves, Catherine of, 235 
. Duke of. 102, 133, 154, 179- 

185, 214 

. Anne of, 179 

Coligny, Francis d'Andelot, 277 
, Gaspard, Admiral of 

France, 225, 232, 237, 238, 240- 

244. 277. 280, 292, 293, 296 

, Odet, Cardinal, 277 

College de France, 82-84 
Compiegne, 35, 36 
Concordat. The (1515), 96 
Conde, Henry of Bourbon, Prince 

of. 227, 230, 237, 242 
, Louis of Bourbon, Prince 

of, 200. 202. 204-210. 224, 227, 

230, 277, 280, 286 

, Princess, 205 

Cop, Nicholas. 141, 263 

Crespy. Treaty of, 159 

Dauphin, son of Charles VIII., 

Death of, 55 
; Francis I., Death of, 

145. 185 
De Glials. 56 
De Qy6 {see Gy6) 
" Devices." Use of. 144 
Diana of Poitiers, 155, 163, 186, 

266 
Domremy, 11, 28 
Dunois, 24, 25 

Eleanor of Portugal, 122, 135-137 
Elector of Saxony, 85, 87 
Elizabeth de Valois, Queen of 

Spain, 198 
, Queen of England, 141, 221, 

223, 227, 236, 280-283 
Erasmus, 81-83, 87, 113, 263 
Este. Anna d' {see Guise) 
. Alfonso d', Duke of Ferrary. 

256 
, , (son of Ren^e), 

271 274 275 
, Ercole' d'. Duke of Ferrara, 

251-253. 256 
, Ippolito d', the Cardinal, 

214 215 
" Estrapade," Use of, 92 



302 FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 



Fannio, martyr, 267, 268 

Ferrara, Duchess of (««• ^en^e) 

, Duchy of, 252 

, Duke of {see Este) 

, Persecution of Protestants 

in. 267, 276 

Foix, Gaston de. 70 

France, Civil wars in, 221, 224, 234, 
295 

Francis de Paule, 55, 73 

Francis I.: birth, 54, 59; be- 
trothal, 60, 61; youth, 70; 
marriage to Princess Claude, 
72; becomes king, 68, 249; 
Italian campaign, 62-64; a 
candidate for the empire, 74; 
field of the Cloth of Gold, 104 ; 
death of first wife, 77; chil- 
dren, 77, 78; defeated at 
Pavia, 108-112; imprisoned in 
Spain, 112; signs a deed of 
abdication, 121; signs Treaty 
of Madrid, 122; sons given aa 
hostages, 94, 122, 126; returns 
to France, 127; his treachery, 
102. 125. 129, 145, 147; protects 
learning and the Reforma- 
tion, 79, 82; loses sympathy 
with the Reformation. 92. 97. 
98; marries Eleanor of Por- 
tugal. 122, 135; hatred of 
Charles V„ 137; challenges 
Charles to fight a duel. 129; 
devotion to his sister, 94, 135; 
separates Jeanne from her 
parents, 102, 172; death of 
eldest Ron, 145: alliance with 
the Sultan, 145-147; sanctions 
the massacre of the Vaudoia 
160; death. 160-162, 263 

Francis II.. 186, 198, 205, 208, 209, 

280 
Froben, John, 263 
Glials, de, 56 
Geneva. 99 
Gerson. 29 

Guelderland. Duchy of, 180, 181 
Guise. Anna d'Este, Duchess of, 

188. 201, 255, 267. 278, 279, 287 
289, 293, 294. 297-299 

, Charles of Lorraine, Car- 
dinal, 196, 202, 216, 279, 293 

, Francis of Lorraine. Duke 

of. 187. 188, 196. 201, 215, 223, 

224. 267, 272. 278, 280, 285-289 
, Henry of Lorraine, Duke of, 

225, 235, 236, 241. 289. 294, 298 
Guises, the. 161. 196, 198, 200. 201. 

203. 207. 209, 211, 213, 219 
Gy6, de. Marshal. 59. 60 
Henry d'Albret, King of Navarre, 

128, 130-132, 149, 162, 171, 177. 

189. 191 

Henry VI. of England. 17. 31. 42 
Henry VIII, of England. 66, 67. 74, 

105. 128. 142, 159, 160, 179, 249, 

250, 283 
Henry II, of France, sometime 

Duke of Orleans, and Dau- 



phin, 142, 155, 161, 163, 185, 
186. 191, 198, 200, 266, 268, 269, 
274 
Henry III. of France, 186, 235, 241, 

299 
Henry IV. of France, 173, 190. 

222, 227, 228-232, 235, 241-242 
Heptameron, The, 134, 154-158 
Hdpital, Michel de 1', 211 
Image, Desecration of, in Paris, 

92 
Isabel d'Albret, Viscountess de 

Rohan {see Rohan) 
Isabella of Portugal, 118 
Isambard. 41. 46 
Jarnac, Battle of, 230 
Jean de Ligny, 42 
Jeanne d'Albret, Queen of Na- 
varre, 173-244; birth, 132, 176; 
brought up at Plessis-les- 
Tours, 177; unhappy child- 
hood, 179; enforced marriage 
to Duke of Cleves, 102, 133, 
152, 179-185; her vehement re- 
sistance, 180-185 ; marriage 
annulled, 163, 184; marries 
Antony of Bourbon, 163, 187; 
visits B^arn, 188; birth and 
death of two sons, 189; birth 
of Henry of Navarre, 190; 
succeeds her father as sove- 
reign, 191; rejects proposal to 
exchange Navarre for other 
provinces, 192, 193; interest 
in the Reformation, 194; does 
homage to the Pope for her 
kingdom, 199; threatened 
by Spanish invasion and 
strengthens her fortresses, 
201, 206; her daughter, Ma- 
dame Catherine, 206. 239; re- 
vokes permission given to 
Calvinist ministers to preach, 
except in B6arn, 207; joins 
the reformed church, 212; 
faithlessness of her husband, 
213 ; breach with her husband, 
214-220; separated from her 
son, 221. 227; champions the 
Reformation with vigour, 22^ 
226; death of husband, 223, 
224; alleged attitude regard- 
ing the murder of the Duke 
of Guise, 292; carries out re- 
forms in B6arn, 225; resists 
the establishment of the In- 
quisition. 226; excommuni- 
cated. 227; regains possession 
of her son. 228; trains him to 
arms, 229-232; her eloquence, 
229-231 ; has medal struck, 232 : 
protects Mdlle. de Rohan, 294 ; 
her recreations, 233; forebod- 
ings concerning her son's 
marriage, 236; illness and 
death, 239; suspicions of 
poison, 239 
Joan of Arc, 3-50; birth, 11; 
father, 11, 13, 14, 30; voices 



INDEX, 



303 



and visions, 12, 28, 35, 39, 43; 
encounters family opposition, 
13, 14; helped by her uncle, 14, 
15; first interview with 
Charles VII., 18, 19; raises the 
siege of Orleans, 16, 24-27; 
Queens believe in her, 19, 21; 
wears a man's dress, 21, 39; 
44, 45; fights in Paris, 32; 
taken prisoner, 35; trial at 
Rouen, 38-47; death, 46; 
Shakespeare and Voltaire on, 
48, 49 

John of Gaunt, 31 

Ladies' Peace (see Cambray) 

La None, 234 

Lannoy, Marquis of, 109 

Lautrec, 64 

Laval, Guy de, 23 

Laxart, Durant, 14, 15 

League, Catholic, 228, 240 

Lefevre, 76, 137, 138 

Lemaitre, 41 

Ligny, Jean de, 42 

Limaudiere, Mdlle. de la (la belle 
Rouet), 213, 218, 222 

Lohier, lawyer, 40 

Louis XII., 64; joy upon death of 
Dauphin, 55; divorces his first 
wife, 56, 248; marries Anne of 
Brittany, 57; parsimony, 65; 
marries Mary Tudor, 67; 
death, 72 

Louise of Savoy, 53-140; journal, 
59-64, 74, 75; diverts funds 
from French army in Italy, 
62; betrays Semblanjjai, 63; 
made Regent. 88, 104, 121; re- 
lations with Montpensier, 105- 
108; receives news of disaster 
of Pavia, 109; shows courage 
and resource, 110; but always 
unscrupulous, 124; meanness, 
62-64,' 95, 137; persecutes re- 
formers, 89; negotiates treaty 
of Cambray, 135; illness and 
death, 138-140 ; chronological 
tables of events in life, 167 

Ludovico Sforza, il moro, 109 

Luther, 85. 87 

Madrid, Treaty of, 122, 125, 127, 
136, 145 

Malicorne, Sieur de, 288-289 

Manchon, 40 

Margaret of Angoulgme, Duchess 
of Al^ncon and Queen of Na- 
varre, 53-170; birth, 54; child- 
hood, 64; marriage with the 
Duke of Alencon, 71; interest 
in the Reformation, 75, 79, 
81; and devotion to learning, 
82; protects reformers, 90, 
137; virtual Queen of France, 
76; becomes Duchess of Berry, 
82; and Countess of Armag- 
nac, 127; educates poor scho- 
lars, 82; founds the Collfege de 
France, 82; slavish dr motion 
to her brother, 71, 101, 103, 



154, 166, 176; tender love for 
his children, 132; prefers 
them to her own, 100, 132; 
attacked by Sorbonne, the 
University of Paris, and Col- 
lege de Navarre, 86, 141; at- 
tacked by Montmorency, 93, 
94; receives news of disaster 
of Pavia, 109; death of Duke 
of Alencon, 112; mission to 
Madrid, 116-124; dislike of 
Charles V., 119; oflered in 
marriage to Charles V., 118; 
and to Henry VIII., 128, 250; 
marries the King of Navarre. 
98. 128; birth of daughter. 
132, 176; birth and death of 
other children, 134; writes 
'•Mirror of a Sinful Soul," 
84 141 ; and the Heptamerou. 
134, 154-158; cruelty to her 
daughter, 103, 133, 182; Bran- 
tome's anecdotes, 123. 149- 
152; life at N6rac. 138, 147-149; 
motto and device. 144; death, 
165; chronological table, 167- 

Margaret of Valois (la reine Mar- 
got). 235. 236. 241 

Marot. Clement, 165, 217, 255. 257 

Mary. Queen of Scots. 197, 204. 
209. 210, 214 

Mary Tudor, Queen of England, 

Mary Tudor, wife of Louis XII.. 

67-70. 72. 73, 77, 249 
Massieu, 4], 45, 46 
Maximilian, Emperor. 58, 59, 74 
Medici, Catherine de (««« 

Catherine) 
Melancthon. Philip, 84, 85, 159 
Melville. Sir James, 210 
Metz, Jean de, 16 
Milan, 64, 70, 11)5 
"Mirror of a Sinful Soul," 84, 

141 
Modena, 254 
Montargis, Castle of, 284, 286, 288, 

295, 299 
Montmorency, Anne of. Constable 

of France. 70, 93, 95, 121, 137, 

140, 141, 153, 161, 163, 183, 215 
Montpensier, Charles of, Duke 

of Bourbon, Constable of 

France, 64. 70. 104-8 
Morata. Pulvio, 255 

, Olympia, 255, 267 

More, Sir Thomas, 81. 82 
Navarre. Henry d'Albret. King of 

{see Henry d'Albret) 
Navarre. Henry, King of, after- 
wards Henry IV. of Prance 

(tee Henry IV.) 
Navarre. Spanish provinces of, 

102. 145. 174. 178. 199 
Nemonrs, Duke of, 294 
, Duchess of {tee Guise, Anna 

d'Este) 
Ochino, Bernardino, 81, 255 



304 



FIVE FAMOUS FRENCH WOMEN, 



Orleans. Siege of (1429), 16, 22 24-27 

, (1563), 225 

, University of, 262 

, French court at, 205, 279 

, Death of Francis II. at, 209, 

280 

, Assassination of Duke of 

Guise at, 225, 289 

, Duke of {see Henry II. and 

Louis XII.) 

Ory, Matthieu, 268 

Paris, held by the English, 17, 31, 
33 

, University of {see Uni- 
versity) 

Paule, Francis of {see Francis) 

Pavia, 88, 97, 100-130, 251 

Philip II. of Spain, 133, 177, 197, 
198. 201, 215. 243, 272 

" Placards," Affair of the, 97 

Plessis-les-Tours, 133, 177-181 

Poissy, Colloquy of, 216 

Poitiers, 8, 20 

, Diana of {see Diana) 

Poltrot, murderer of the Duke of 
Guise, 225, 289 

Poulengy, 16 

Queen of Navarre {see Margaret 
of Angouleme and Jeanne 
d'Albret) 

Queens protect Joan of Arc, 19, 21 

Quentin. St. {see St. Quentin) 

Rabelais, 111. 255. 257 

Ransom of the young princes, 95; 
attempt to pay, in debased 
coin, 96, 130, 136 

Reform movement in Europe, 81; 
reaction against, 92, 97-99 

Ren^e of France, Duchess of Fer- 
rara, 247-299; birth, 66; child- 
hood, 77; offers of marriage, 
105, 251; marriage, 251; court 
at Ferrara, 151, 255; interest 
in the Reformation, 194, 252- 
256, and in learning, 255; 
patriotic Frenchwoman, 252, 
272, 273; appearance and cha- 
racter, 252-255; protected by 
her father-in-law, 256; hus- 
band's accession, 256; French 
attendants dismissed, 257 ; 
visited by Calvin. 258; corre- 
spondence with Calvin, 273; 
domestic diflSculties, 259-261; 
children, 259. 260; visit from 
Pope, 260 ; a Calvinist, but not 
openly, 259. 264; loses protec- 
tors through death of Francis 

I. and Margaret, Queen of 
Navarre, 266; daughter mar- 
ries Duke of Guise, 267; Henry 

II. advises her imprisonment, 
269; is imprisoned, 270; she 
abjures and is released, 271; 
domestic situation improved, 
271, 272; death of husband, 
274; becomes Regent till re- 



turn of son, 275; papal pre- 
sure renewed, 275; quits Fer 
rara for France, 275-276 ; join - 
French court at Orleans, 279 
interview with English an: 
bassador, 280-283; installed a; 
Montargis as governor c' 
castle, 284; has charge o 
Henry of Navarre during par 
of his childhood, 222; Duke o 
Guise attempts to turn hei 
0]jt of Montargis, 288; hei 
vigorous resistance, 288; sht 
protects Protestants, 256, 259 

288, 295; murder of her son- 
in-law, the Duke of Guise, 

289, 291, 292; financial difficul- 
ties, 297; assisted by her 
daughter, 297; death, 299 

Rheims, Coronation of Charles 
VII. at, 9, 10, 16. 20. 27, 29 

Rohan, Isabel, Viscountess of, 
178 

, Franpoise, 178-179, 294 

Rome, Rejoicings in, for the mas- 
sacre of St. Bartholomew, 243 

Rouen, 38, 42 

Rouet, La belle {see Limaudifere) 

St. Andr^, Marshal, 215 

St. Bartholomew, Massacre of 
{see Bartholomew) 

St. Quentin, Battle of, 272, 277 

Savoy, Louise, of {see Louise) 

Semblancai, 62, 63 

Shakespeare on Joan of Arc, 48, 
49 

Sicily, Queen of, 19 

Silly, Madame de, 133, 177. 181. 
189 

Sorbonne. The, 79, 83, 141 

Soubise, Madame de, 252, 257 

Spanish provinces of Navarre 
{see Navarre) 

Suffolk, Duke of {see Brandon) 

Throckmorton, Sir Nicholas, 202, 
280-283 

Tournon, Cardinal, 87, 159 

Triumvirate, The, 215 

Turks, Alliance of Francis I. 
with, 145-147; besiege Vienna, 
146 

University of Paris, 9, 36, 37, 48, 
79, 83, 141 

of Poitiers, 20 

Vassy, Massacre of, 285 

Vaucouleurs, 13, 14, 16, 29 

Vaudois, Massacre of the, 85, 
158-160 

Vendome, Duke of {see Bourbon, 
Antony of) 

Venetian ambassador on Concor- 
dat, 96 

Voltaire on Joan of Arc, 49 

Walsingham. Sir Francis, 238 

Warwick, Earl of. 42. 45 

Wolsey, Cardinal, 73, 250, 283 

Worcester, Earl of, 73 



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