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Full text of "MARGARET OF AUSTRIA REGENT OF THE NETHERLANDS"

92, M327/ ; .i 

t of Austria, rstfont of 



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Margaret of Austria, ra&unt of 
thss Motherland 



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O 

OF AUSTRIA 



^Margaret 

OF AUSTRIA 




of 



THE NETHERLANDS 




By Jane de longn 



TRANSLATED BY M. D. HESTER NORTON 




W W NORTON & COMPANY INC New York 



COPYRIGHT 1953 BY 
W. W. NORTON Sc COM1PANY, INC. 



PRINTKD IK THK TJNITBD STATBS OF AMERICA 
FOR XHB PUBX-ISHERS BY THJ VAII--BAI-XX>X; PRJESS 



(Contents 




ILLUSION IN STONE - 11 

The Pawn 

1 - Archduchess of Austria - 17 

2 Queen of France - 45 

3 Crown Princess of Spain - 79 

4 Duchess of Savoy - 105 

The Chess Player 

5 - Regent of the Netherlands * 131 

6 - Notre Bonne Tante - 161 

7 - The Roman Crown - 187 

8 - Ladies' Peace -219 
Fortune, Infortune, Fortune ... - 249 

Bibliography of Principal \Vorks Consulted - 255 

5 



Illustrations 




facing page 

Margaret of York 48 

Charles the Bold 49 

Mary of Burgundy 80 

Emperor Maximilian I 81 

Margaret of Austria at the Age of Three 112 

Margaret of Austria at the Age of Ten 113 

Philip the Handsome 144 

Philibert of Savoy and Margaret of Austria 145 

Margaret of Austria 176 

Charles V as a Boy 177 

Charles V 208 

Margaret of Austria 209 





OF 



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S gjw & 
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Illusion in Stone 




church stands outside the town, as if set down by 
chance beside one of those straight French highways, 
opposite some low cottages, a little inn. It takes its name of 
Brou from these poor outskirts. The neighborhood is quiet. 
For Bourg-en-Bresse, which begins a little further along the 
road with a few scattered houses, while once the center of 
the Duchy of Savoy, is now a dreamy provincial town where 
the steps of a school child echo distinctly between the gray 
French houses. 

The town has been forgotten. But the church of Brou is 
full of memories. Through its cool spaces a gentle light 
sifts between the blank white walls. There in graceful petri- 
fied motion rise the three princely tombs with their embrac- 
ing garlands of twining flowers and clustered fruits. 

Chiseled in marble, hewn in stone, incised in bronze and 
brass, there runs along the walls like a whisper, the wise de- 
vice of the woman who built this church in fulfillment of 
a promise, in memory of her own brief happiness: 

Fortune, Infortune, Fortune . . . 

IX 



12 Margaret of Austria 

A simple decoration and yet full of mystery, alternating 
with a border soothing in its delicate intimacy: the inter- 
woven initials P.-M. Philibert-Marguerite which make 
this church interior a shrine of other than divine love alone. 

The cool light surrounds the tombs standing motionless 
in the silence. The figures of those whose repose was the 
sole purpose of this perfect flower of late Gothic art lie out- 
stretched under their baldaquins, ringed about by frolic- 
some cherubs, by elegantly clad "virtues" with courtly air. 
They lie there in dual representation, both as life knew them, 
in the costume of their princely existence, and as idealizing 
death left them to posterity: Philibert of Savoy, called the 
Handsome, and Marguerite, his wife, who never forgot her 
short-lived joy and who, after a life full of responsibilities 
and struggles, returned to this quiet spot where she had pre- 
pared her own tomb beside her husband's, and beside that 
of the mother-in-law whose pledge she had redeemed by 
the building of this sanctuary. 

Inside, the windows sparkle with their enchanting light, 
the only spots of color in all the still whiteness. They rep- 
resent the two young rulers in all the splendor that sur- 
rounded them during their few happy years of married life. 
They gleam like jewels, these windows, and enhance the 
calm solemnity of the interior, filled as with a soundless 
music by the rhythm of its architecture. The grief that gave 
rise to this structure is transfigured into an angelic joy, a 
touching beauty that echoes like a cry of jubilation in the 
heart. 

Fortune, Infortune, Fortune . . . 
This jewel of Flemish Gothic, which stands in the now 



Illusion in Stone 13 

French country of Bresse, is like a crystallization of the lif e 
of its builder: Marguerite, Archduchess of Austria, Duchess 
of Savoy, Regent of the Netherlands. 

The straight highway leaves. Bourg-en-Bresse in a north- 
westerly direction. It is the road that leads to the native land, 
the field of work, the deathbed of a great woman. The road 
that takes us to Flanders, to the good city of Ghent. . . . 



THE 





Le temps est trouble, le temps se esclarcira; 
Apres la plue Ton atent le beau temps; 
Apres noises et grans divers contens 
Paix advietxdra et maleur cessera. 

Mais entre deulx que mal Fon souffrera! 
Dire on pourra par ung moderer sens: 

Le temps est trouble* 

De murmur er qui se desrivera 

Mal il fera, car, ainsi que j'entens, 

Au temps qui court temps perdent regretens, 

Taire est bien bon a cil qui pensera: 

Le temps est trouble. 



The time is troubled, but the time will clear; 
After rain fair weather is awaited; 
After strife and cruel great contention 
Peace will arrive, misfortune cease to be. 

But meanwhile how much evil we shall suffer! 
One may well say in another sense: 

The time is troubled. 

But anyone who murmurs in complaint 
Does ill, for, as I understand, 
In this our time, regretting but wastes time, 
Silence is best for anyone who thinks: 

The time is troubled. 



CHAPTER ONE 



ArcUwhtss of Austria 




HE Damoiselle of Burgundy had no brother. 
JL Her father, after the early death of her mother, had 
indeed remarried. But Mary remained a lonely child amidst 
the bizarre magnificence of that travel-smitten court. Time 
went on. Mary's stepmother remained childless. And in- 
creasingly Mary's fate took form according to the all- 
dominating fact: she had no brother. Some day she would 
inherit the lands over which her father ruled with all the 
recklessness of his bitter and determined temperament. 

For her father was Duke Charles, busy acquiring for him- 
self the name of "le Temeraire" which has clung to him 
through the ages and which in English became "the Bold 7 ', 
Had it been granted his subjects to decide by what name 
this duke should be known to history, they would perhaps 
have called him "the Scourge". But a people, which bears 
the burdens of its rulers' fame and sees its business and its 
industry destroyed, its flourishing cities go to ruin, cannot 
be unprejudiced, and it is as well that it seldom stands god- 
father to its princes. 

17 



2 8 The fawn 

Mary was eleven years old when her father married again. 
She was a gentle and obedient child, who knew how to ad- 
just herself to the inevitable, and she understood to the full 
the responsibility that rested upon her when, on a certain 
fine day in the year 1468, in the company of her grand- 
mother, Isabella of Portugal, and with a glittering escort of 
nobles and ladies of the court, she journeyed to Sluis to greet 
her new stepmother, who had arrived there the previous day 
from England. Mary was accustomed to travels and journey- 
ings, and formal receptions were nothing new to her. But 
this meeting was not merely a dramatic show which she 
might watch with her prematurely wise child-eyes. This 
event closely concerned herself, and it seemed she must be 
conscious of the weight of the moment when she first looked 
up to the radiant creature who now, somewhat embarrassed, 
but touched to gentleness by the girlish face before her, 
entered into her life. 

For Margaret of York this moment was no less moving. 
With the resignation every princess had sooner or later to 
learn, she had accepted her lot when European politics made 
desirable her marriage with the morose but powerful Duke 
of Burgundy. But her personal fate as a woman was still un- 
decided. It might yet turn to good or bad. Of what awaited 
her she knew but this: a fabulously rich, famous, and fame- 
seeking husband, about whose virtues and manly charms she 
had been told unverifiable wonders; a mother-in-law related 
to the Lancasters, the arch-enemies of her own house; a 
stepdaughter who was still a child. The sea trip, that danger- 
ous voyage, had for many reasons been exciting. And now 
she was standing face to face with Mary, a gentle and very 
small girl in a heavy and stately festive dress, and she rec- 



Archduchess of Austria 19 

ognized in the soft gray-brown eyes, in the smooth, very 
pale child's face, the victim of a fate, like hers still undecided: 
a human being whose lot was sacrifice. 

Margaret embraced the child. The Burgundian retinue, 
their attention divided between this moving little scene 
and the beauties from England who surrounded the new 
Duchess, nevertheless felt the emotion of this meeting. 
Beauty quickly wakens tenderness. And Margaret of York 
brought to her Burgundian marriage not only die advantages 
of a close relation with England that were essential to the 
welfare of the Low Countries she brought not only a tire- 
less energy, an excellent intelligence, a practical common 
sense, but an impressive beauty also, which was to inspire 
Hans Memlinc to one of his most perfect, most enchantingly 
wordly Saints. 

She was tall and slender and her bearing was of an excep- 
tional grace. Memlinc later painted her as Saint Barbara in 
a dress of refined simplicity. The meticulously plucked eye- 
brows and the very fashionable jeweled turban on her tightly 
smoothed hair, shaved away at the temples and across the 
forehead, accentuate the noble structure of an intelligent 
and controlled countenance. Margaret was entirely woman 
of the world of a world in which she was to play a great 
role and to accept heavy responsibilities. But the shadows of 
a disturbed and often tragic future did not yet darken this 
first meeting with her stepdaughter in festively decorated 
Sluis. 

The first contact with her new country was like a lucky 
omen. At a single glance Mary had shown herself won over 
for good. The Dowager Duchess, who, being the daughter of 
a princess of Lancaster, beheld in Margaret's triumphant ap- 



20 The Pawn 

pearance the glory of the House of York, knew how to hide 
her feelings politely behind the courtesy of etiquette. A gala 
dinner closed the important day. The Duke himself was 
expected shortly. 

From now on, the lives of these two women, Margaret 
and Mary, circled like two planets round one and the same 
radiant center. Charles was their star. His obstinate tyrant's 
will was their law. They followed him, ruler over many 
lands, on his wanderings from one to another of his various 
residences. They appeared side by side at court festivities 
and glorious entries, and the people of Bruges, of Ghent, of 
Middelburg, ran out and stared with open mouths at the two 
charming beauties: the Damoiselle of Burgundy, growing to 
attractive maturity, and the young Duchess, who was said 
and it seemed scarcely believable to be able now and then 
to induce that most stiff-necked of Europe's princes, Duke 
Charles, to change his mind. That was an achievement which 
none of the courtiers, none of the Knights of the Golden 
Fleece even, could rival. What Margaret did accomplish 
now and then was a miracle. People whispered that it was 
not her beauty through which she exercised her influence. 
Charles was not susceptible to feminine charm. His lot had 
been that of many a crown prince, of many a son, and he had 
grownup in unconscious opposition to his father, Philip the 
Good, the duke of innumerable mistresses, of countless bas- 
tards. Amidst the elegant and voluptuous courtiers, who also 
in matters of love followed eagerly the example of the old 
Duke, Charles, Count of Charolais, lived in a morose asceti- 
cism, to be explained by a passionate, often wounded attach- 
ment to his mother and frequent outbursts of aversion to the 
unbridled eroticism of his father. And by the time the Good 



Archduchess of Austria 21 

Philip had closed his eyes, after a life of popularity and fabu- 
lous successes which he had himself once likened to a dream, 
the personality of his son had become fixed and was scarcely 
amenable any more to softening influences. To Philip, life 
had meant a rare show, amid the pompous settings of a theat- 
rical and hollow chivalry, which gave him as well as his 
subjects a deep satisfaction. To his son it meant battle and 
disruption, ambition never completely satisfied, hatred, re- 
sentment, and cold loneliness. 

Over against this man even Margaret's charm was power- 
less. But no one understood as she did the art of breaking 
down his resistance to everything that came from others. 
By means of the fire of a highly effective eloquence it was 
possible for her to press home to his powers of perception, 
often clouded by sudden wrath, the conclusions of her lucid 
brain. 

Charles recognized her mastery. He was even grateful to 
her, in his own brusque and silent way, for whatever she did 
for him. The court even noted with surprise certain signs 
of an awkward tenderness toward his Duchess, a tenderness 
his daughter Mary had never been able to arouse. Margaret, 
in the eyes of the courtiers, was a magician. 

And yet how little even she accomplished! For Charles's 
whole nature of an introverted and stubborn fanatic was 
driven by a boundless greed and an even more boundless 
hatred. Greed for fame for himself and for his family, hatred 
for whosoever came in the way of his ambition, primarily 
for the royal house of France; these were the passions that in 
the son had taken the place of those much more human 
desires which in the eyes of his contemporaries did honor 
to the father. No unbounded eroticism gave direction to 



22 The Pawn 

Charles's life, but a craving for fame and power that verged 
on madness. What his father had harvested was for him but 
a beginning. 

And yet the ducal crown of Burgundy, under which so 
many lands were united, shone more brilliantly than those of 
the French king and the German emperor, in name still liege 
lords, in reality powerless competitors. The Franche-Comte 
and the Duchy of Burgundy; Flanders, Artois, Rethel, 
Nevers and Namur, Brabant and Limburg, Zeeland and 
Hainaut; the cities on the Somme: Abbeville, Peronne, 
Amiens; finally Luxemburg thus had the might of Bur- 
gundy grown. Thanks to Philip's wise policy the Flemish 
cities had been able to work in peace and earn treasure. The 
Low Countries, haven of rest, prosperity, and order between 
a torn France and an England which the bloody Red and 
White Roses had made into a hell the Low Countries 
rightly counted as an earthly paradise, a land of promise. 

But this was not enough for Charles. It was not the welfare 
of his subjects but his own glory for which he strove. The 
crown he wore was to him a constant reminder of a former 
subordinate position. He was vassal, if not in fact yet still 
in name, to the French crown for one part of his possessions, 
to the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire for another. 

French suzerainty was the sharpest thorn in his flesh, for 
in Charles's youth the impoverished French king had always 
been far less kingly than his own father, the Duke, head of 
the glorious order of the Golden Fleece, into which the high- 
est French nobility were well pleased to be received, as a 
feudal demonstration against the aspirations of the common 
liege lord. The Golden Fleece thus embraced the whole op- 
position of the nobility, still powerful but already fossilizing 



Archduchess of Austria 23 

into rigid magnificence, against the rising kingship, which 
surrounded itself not with showy decorum but with shrewd 
men of law and able burghers. The court at which all the 
threads of political intrigue converged, whither journeyed 
embassies from temporal and ecclesiastical rulers if their 
lordships did not trouble themselves to go in person this 
court was not one of the sombre castles where the French 
king was wont to stay, but the residence of the "grand duke", 
the court of Burgundy, 

So strong was the antithesis between Charles VII of France 
and his first vassal, Philip the Good of Burgundy, that the 
two successors to the two thrones, Louis and Charles, each 
in opposition to his own father, sought in their turn support 
from that father's adversary. Thus the Dauphin Louis, later 
to be called the Eleventh, gentle and modest, courteous to- 
ward the ladies, subservient toward the Duke, had slipped 
into the court of his "Uncle of Burgundy"; had nested in 
there and, grateful and polite, had begun to undermine the 
surroundings of his good host. For while now, having fled 
before the troops of his hated royal father, he was dependent 
on Philip's protection, in time he was to succeed his father 
and with that act to inherit also the enmity toward the power- 
ful vassal at whose board he now sat, an ideal, modest guest, 
and at the baptism of whose granddaughter Mary he gra- 
ciously functioned as godfather. If the phrase "to govern is 
to foresee" "gouverner, c'est prevoir" contains any truth, 
the Dauphin Louis was born a good ruler. He foresaw. And 
he saw reality. 

Reality for him was not his "Uncle" Philip, his father's 
rival. A little patience and no one knew better how to wait 
than this Louis and Philip's throne would be occupied by 



24t The 

the young Count of Charolais, who now kept away from all 
the brilliant court festivities in stern opposition. Not Philip, 
but Charles, would become Louis' opponent. And during his 
five-year stay at the court of Burgundy he had sufficient 
opportunity to study his future enemy, to discover the weak 
spots in the Burgundian power, by all appearances so strong, 
to learn to know the intelligent collaborators of the Duke 
and of the Count and, ever so quietly and unnoticeably, to 
win them to himself. Louis had no need to regard his Bur- 
gundian years as time lost. They were to bring him dividend 
upon dividend. 

To Charles, Louis' sojourn at his father's court was one 
torture the more. For this Dauphin, upon whom his f eignedly 
humble gratitude sat so well, was according to etiquette the 
superior of the Duke himself; protocol decreed that the 
Duchess kneel before him in the dust, and, while their son 
met with the same marked bonhommie with which the 
Dauphin charmed the entourage of his host, Charles never- 
theless felt continually driven into the background by the 
presence of his future suzerain. He avoided the court, re- 
mained by preference in the Northern Netherlands. And by 
so doing missed the unique opportunity of acquiring that 
thorough understanding of his opponent through which he 
would later have been the better able to combat him. 

But perhaps it would have been of little use to him after 
all if his vanity had allowed him to remain at the Dauphin's 
side. It was never granted Charles the Bold to know reality. 
What he saw was the world of his own dreams and wishes, 
formed in his mind by reading the lives of classical heroes, 
emotionally colored by his burning desire for glory. No 
shriller contrast is imaginable than that between these two 



Archduchess of Austria 25 

rivals: Louis XI of France and the last of the Burgundians, 
representatives of an arising and of a dying world, of modern 
national kingship and of separatist, moldering feudalism. Of 
this last world Charles was one of the last phenomena. Always 
looking toward the past, with ideals and aims that fell outside 
the possibilities of a growing nationalism, he was in no posi- 
tion to see the present or to guess the future. Impelled by 
the last spasms of an obsolescent conception of life along a 
road that had no outlook, Charles was unarmed against the 
Machiavellian arsenal of his formidable adversary. The most 
modern artillery, the best-disciplined army was unable to 
stave off the defeat with which a mercilessly approaching 
future threatened dying feudalism. The Burgundian bom- 
bardes were in the end to seem as powerless as the unbridled 
passion with which Charles fought for a cause that was 
doomed by time. 

Compared with their French opponent, the second liege 
lord of the Burgundian dukes, the Emperor of the Holy 
Roman Empire, seemed far less threatening. For what, in the 
eyes of the wealthy Burgundians, could be the prestige of a 
poverty-stricken old potentate like Frederick III, whom the 
wrangling Electors had selected because it seemed nobody 
had anything to fear from him? No wonder that Philip 
the Good, that Charles the Bold who to the fury of their 
French suzerain called themselves dukes by the grace of 
God shrugged their shoulders over the powerless preten- 
sions of this Habsburger, who put on old clothes when it 
rained. Of this Emperor, who could rattle no precious 
"golden rider" coins in his pocket, and who comforted 
himself with the tuneful sound of the mysterious vowels: 
"AJEJ.O.U." "Austriae Est Imperare Omni Universo", or 



2 6 The Pawn 

"Alles Erdreich 1st Oesterreich Unterthan", "Austria shaU 

rule the whole world". 

The Imperial power had meaning only for lovers of an- 
tiquities. The feudal prestige of the impoverished and con- 
stantly skimping Frederick consisted merely of a quantity 
of fine-sounding fictions with which not a single one of the 
young powers wished to be bothered* What did the Italians 
do, the Swiss, the Hanseatic cities, but laugh at this highest 
authority? What could have inspired the princely Burgun- 
dians with respect? Countless were the rulers in the sur- 
rounding territories of the Empire who willfully went their 
own political way. 

And Frederick let them. He had other worries than the 
emperorship. He had to establish a dynasty; he had a son who 
ought to be married off as advantageously as possible. Power 
Frederick had not, but he had time. His opponents could have 
their way, it did not trouble him. "Arma gerant alii, tu, f elk 
Austria, nube": let others bear arms, happy Austria need only 
enter into matrimony. . . . 

For meantime, while Louis XI, the "great spider of Eu- 
rope", was spinning the inescapable web of his intrigues, 
while Frederick III was waiting and growing old, the destiny 
of Europe, the destiny of Burgundy, was being fulfilled. It 
lay, in those days, in the spasmodic hands of Charles. Fasci- 
nated by a vision that had already conjured up before his 
father the possibility of new luster the kingship over a 
great, rounded-off Burgundian realm Charles the Bold, as 
if blinded by too strong a light, threw himself into a future 
of glory. The kingship then over Brabant had once before 
been the subject of discussion between the Emperor, who had 
it to bestow, and Philip, But it had remained at that and the 



Archduchess of Austria 27 

sole effect had been psychological: Burgundy became ac- 
customed to the idea of a royal crown. The vision changed. 
Perhaps Charles's blind assault upon the future already had 
another sparkling jewel as its aim. For the emperorship of 
the Holy Roman Empire was not the hereditary possession 
of a family line favored by God's grace. It rested on the knees 
of lesser deities, the Electors, the real rulers over the enor- 
mous, formless realm. The Emperor Frederick was old and 
was anything impossible when one possessed the treasures 
of Flanders, the best artillery in the world, an ambition that 
knew no limits and could exercise no patience? Duke of 
Burgundy, King of the Romans, Emperor of the Holy Ro- 
man Empire what was the fata morgana that drew Charles 
on, sleepless and haggard, until the repulse at Granson, the 
defeat at Morat, up to the moment when, mortally wounded, 
he crashed on the ice near Nancy? It is doubtful whether he 
himself knew. 

The greatest tragedy about Charles is surely this: that his 
ambition had no future. The crown, whichever it was he 
thought to conquer, was to add no lasting luster to his dy- 
nasty's name. The mythical jewel that he, the lost knight, 
saw hovering before his mind's eye, was never to adorn the 
boyish head of any young Burgundian. For the ducal family 
included, besides the Duchess Margaret of York, concerning 
whose childlessness no complaint has come down to us, only 
Madame Marie, last princess of Burgundy, heiress to all the 
realm, to all the ruin of her father's existence. And this gentle 
little duchess with her somewhat sleepy eyes would bring 
with her the whole conglomeration of heterogeneous lands as 
dowry for the bridegroom her father should select for her: 
the French provinces with their vineyards and orchards, 



2 g The Yawn 

which in spring spread a mist of blossom over the hills; the 
Flemish cities with their riches, their cliques, their disrupting 
privileges; the Northern Netherlands, scarcely more than 
morass, soggy peatbog, endless shallow broads, among which 
a highly enterprising people was growing up that from sheer 
poverty went forth to seek its fortune out upon the very 
element that sought to drive it from its homes. All this and 
much more was Mary's dowry. And no prince in Europe 
who, to acquire it all, would not have competed for this bride. 

Upon Charles rested the task of himself selecting the heir 
who should take the place of the son never born to him. 
And this choice, upon which was to depend the future of 
the barely consolidated Burgundian realm, the future of 
Europe too, must be made in cool consideration, with weigh- 
ing of pros and cons. It had to be like the determining move 
in a game of chess, the first and therefore the most thoroughly 
considered of a sequence projected with strictest logic, the 
ultimate result of which must be the winning of the game. 
Here nothing was to be achieved by personal courage, noth- 
ing by quick-tempered command of lordly authority. To 
the taking of this extremely important decision gifts and qual- 
ities were necessary which Charles did not possess: patience, 
understanding of people, political genius. The last above all. 
And it was just this talent, difficult to define more closely, 
the mixture of reason and intuitive sensing of the future, that 
Charles lacked. 

But the Duchess Margaret of York possessed it. She was, 
moreover, not hampered, like her husband, by aversion to 
a decision which must set before his eyes with bitter clarity 
the irrevocable end of his own glory and dominion. To 
choose a young and vigorous prince as son-in-law and sue- 



Archduchess of Austria 2$ 

cessor is a more difficult task than the christening of a new- 
born heir, a weak, helpless, and appealing creature that seems 
not at all dangerous in the eyes of an ambitious father, even 
though if God wills it he will one day grow up to take 
over the crown and the rule and the glory. A crown prince is 
a gift from heaven. But the consort of a crown princess is 
a usurper, is the future itself in its most inexorable form. 

It was too much for Charles to make this irrevocable 
choice, to whom to give his daughter Mary as wife, his realm 
of Burgundy as prey. The possibilities were countless, and 
their multiplicity in a way helped to conceal the fact that 
Charles indeed was looking for a son-in-law, for a new ruler 
over his lands, but would not, out of inner impotence could 
not, designate him. 

Philippe de Commines, who knew the Duke, was of opin- 
ion that he did not even want a son of his own, who would 
have compelled him to see his actual rival growing up under 
his very eyes. Charles the Bold had made many plans, some- 
times even simultaneous plans, for the marriage of Mary, 
which no less than seven times led to her being affianced, but 
to this unprotected crown princess, who would have treas- 
ures to guard, he never granted a husband. 

Mary had never expected of life either independence or 
personal happiness. She knew herself, from her youth up, a 
political pawn in the hands of her father. He was her god, 
who had the disposal of her life. She feared his attacks of 
rage, when in his dark face the fierce blue eyes lost all their 
color, no less than the numbing cold that could emanate from 
him when merely his displeasure was aroused. Without the 
Duchess Margaret, without the two devoted, motherly ladies 
in waiting, Madame de Commines et d'Halluin and Anne 



^ The Pawn 

de Salins, who were charged with her care and education, 
Mary's life would have been a hopeless waiting for an un- 
certain future. Above all, Margaret's affection was essential 
to Mary. With her she sought refuge from the terrifying 
moods of her father, in her she found a guardian of her fate 
and a protectress when mourning and loneliness fell to her 
lot. Until, once again thanks to Margaret's intervention, 
there came the brief fulfillment of her marriage with the man 
who was in so many respects the complete opposite of her 
gruff, unloving father: Maximilian of Austria, the son of 
Emperor Frederick III. 

He was, oddly enough, not the last fiance intended for 
Mary, but the first. When she was six years old already a 
substantial age for the heiress to such costly possessions her 
grandfather, Philip the Good, had for the first time consulted 
with the House of Habsburg over her marriage with the 
then four-year-old Maximilian. Five years later it was her 
father who thought that the Emperor, by reason of an alli- 
ance between his son and Mary, would incline to support 
the Burgundian candidature for the imperial succession. Yet 
Charles the Bold at that rime too expected more than was 
possible. The Emperor refused, and once more Mary, now 
twelve, was at her father's disposal for a further political 
transaction. The French king's brother, who suddenly died 
(by poison, rumor said), Nicolas of Calabria, the pretender 
to the throne of Naples, and Philibert, Prince of Savoy, fol- 
lowed each other in betrothal to poor rich Mary, until 
Charles the Bold once again this time after his conquest 
of the Duchy of Gelre (Gelderland) had fanned his desire 
for fame to the verge of insanity turned to the aging 
Frederick III to see whether he could now sell the hand of 



Archduchess of Austria 31 

his daughter against a royal crown for Burgundy. But the 
Emperor, who had let himself be persuaded to a personal 
meeting with the Duke, sought protection from the Burgun- 
dian pretentions in scarcely imperial flight, leaving his guest 
behind in possession of already acquired and now useless 
royal insignia. 

This humiliating incident was not advantageous to the 
good understanding between the two fathers, and soon after 
Charles had been forced to experience his first defeat by 
the Swiss he agreed, without the promise of the kingly 
crown, to the engagement between his daughter and Fred- 
erick's son. Once more Mary's life was disposed of in obedi- 
ence to motives that were not inspired by any personal pref- 
erence, any human affection. Her father had taken and 
perhaps this time again only temporarily a decision to 
which she had to submit. 

The month of May, 1476, covered the world with a haze 
of young green. Mary wrote a correct letter to the youthful 
Maximilian, sent him, from her riches, a diamond ring in 
token of betrothal. Margaret of York was delighted over 
the future of her foster-child, though she had herself often 
worked for a marriage between Mary and her brother, the 
Duke of Clarence. But Margaret had once met the fair Aus- 
trian Archduke and had received a favorable impression of 
him, and she saw the value for Burgundy of an alliance with 
the Emperor's son, who indeed possessed neither wealth nor 
power, yet was surrounded by something of the prestige 
that still radiated from the imperial crown* 

The mood of the Burgundian court, despite the absence 
of the Duke and many of the nobles, was in this spring of 
1476 for the first time in many years colored by optimism. 



^ 2 The Pawn 

But in the east, in Lorraine, at the hands of the Swiss 
lancers, fate was being consummated with the speed and 
the violence of a tornado. The Burgundian army defeated, 
the famous artillery lost, the treasures Duke Charles had 
taken with him costly vessels, velvet tents, noble armor 
prey to the rustic enemy. This was the first news that pene- 
trated to Burgundy, and it caused Duchess Margaret to reel 
as on the brink of a precipice. Where was the Duke, in what 
condition? It was not yet known, but his death was feared. 
It seemed an impossibility, a too great calamity to some, to 
many too great a blessing. One heard the truth but did not 
accept it. The people dreaded his return. Was he not in hid- 
ing? Was it not said that he had gone into a monastery, un- 
dertaken a pilgrimage to Jerusalem? Were they really freed 
from the Scourge? 

Margaret and Mary, in Ghent, did not doubt. The Duke 
was dead. The abyss had opened, the end of Burgundy, of 
their whole world, loomed up before the eyes of the two 
women, the one widowed and powerless, the other heiress 
and a prisoner. For the burghers of Ghent were the first to 
realize the truth; they sprang to action, to arms, they pressed 
about the walls of the ducal palace where Margaret and 
Mary, helpless and in tears, could no longer expect com- 
fort from courtiers and councilors. The King of France, 
Louis, the Spider of Plessis-les-Tours, had been waiting for 
this event. The Duchy of Burgundy itself, a male fief, re- 
verted to the French crown. It was occupied by the French 
even before the King was certain of the death of Charles the 
Bold. Louis' ambassadors and spies swarmed forth to take 
over the.remaining Burgundian lands, to deprive the heiress 
of her possession, to set her restive subjects against her, to 



Archduchess of Austria 55 

encourage revolt, and to see Mary herself handed over as 
the bride of the eight-year-old Dauphin Charles. 

It was Ghent primarily that had to help realize these plans. 
Ghent, the wealth and the menace, the strength and at the 
same time the weakness of the Burgundian realm, Ghent 
with its always insurgent burghers, its inclination toward 
separatism, its inability to see the welfare and future of 
the Netherlands in the consolidation of all forces, which 
Charles, after all, had also had as his life's aim. Ghent only 
wanted its old rights back which Charles had nullified and 
crushed underfoot. It knew the powerless duchesses were 
within its walls and it demanded and obtained from Mary a 
return to the past in the form of the "Grand Privilege of 
Mary of Burgundy" from poor Mary, who gave it her 
name but through it lost her sovereignty. 

The people of Ghent knew the aim of the French king. 
They hated Duke Charles' councilors, Hugonet and Hum- 
bercourt above all These two were members of an embassy 
that had gone seeking to enlist Louis' clemency for the 
lonely Damoiselle of Burgundy. But they were at the same 
time secret bearers of a letter in which Mary begged the 
King to deal only with these two and not with the rest. Louis 
XI, whose moment of revenge upon the glory of Burgundy 
had come at last, forthwith betrayed Mary and her coun- 
cilors to a new embassy, made up of Flemish burghers, 
which had come to France to arrange the marriage of their 
princess with the Dauphin. 

Revolt was already growling in the streets of Ghent when 
these burghers returned with the information that their mis- 
tress, despite her promise, had sought to deal with the French 
king behind the back of the States General. The Damoiselle 



54 The Pawn 

herself they could not touch, but Hugonet and Humber- 
court, her instruments, were lost. The day of their execution 
amid a populace howling for vengeance brought Mary the 
greatest grief, the most violent emotion of which her placid 
nature was capable. While she, the chief offender, was being 
spared, her obedient friends were to be broken on the wheel, 
dragged to the scaffold, lost beyond rescue. Distress, indig- 
nation, and shame broke the chains in which an upbringing 
of strict etiquette had bound Mary's spontaneity. She, who 
had never before left the palace alone, who had seldom 
stepped outdoors on foot, found the courage to go herself 
and beg for the life of her councilors. Unattended, with- 
out even Margaret, who had always watched over her, Mary 
dashed out of the palace, sobbing, crying for mercy for her 
two friends. 

The astonishment of those who saw her, their compassion, 
knew no bounds. The Princess herself, unprotected, in deep 
mourning, her hands outstretched toward the raging people 
who among the impulsive citizens of Ghent would not 
have willingly died for her? They would readily have 
granted her the life of the two men; here and there a cry 
was heard that they should after all be spared. But the 
Damoiselle, in her wretched anxiety, had already turned to 
another group, had already vanished in the tumult that filled 
the streets. Her pitying supporters forgot their short mo- 
ment of compassion. Around her roared the furious people, 
who had not seen or had not recognized Mary. Her heroic 
deed f or such was this action of the young princess raised 
in safe isolation had been in vain. The enemies of Hugonet 
and Humbercourt, fearing lest Mary find once more the 
courage of her despair, hastened the mock trial, the result of 



Archduchess of Austria 35 

which had already been predetermined. The heads of her 
advisers fell. And the day after the verdict, on Good Friday 
of that year so bitter for Mary, the executioners of her two 
friends laid before her a declaration for her signature that 
she had given her consent to what had happened. Mary 
signed. 

She was alone. They had taken her stepmother, Margaret, 
from her. She was nineteen years old, and not educated to 
command. She was surrounded by treachery, feared even 
for her life. She had signed, and her heart broke because of 
what they had done to her. 

She learned from the people of Ghent that they loved her, 
wanted to be true to her, intended to seek a good husband 
for her. They still thought of the Dauphin Charles, a weird, 
gaunt little boy of eight. But had not Mary's governess, the 
kindhearted Madame de Commines, who could nevertheless 
be cattish if something displeased her, on some earlier oc- 
casion made the deprecating remark that the Damoiselle of 
Burgundy needed not a child but a man, and then would 
herself see to having children? 

Mary's only hope was Maximilian. He was her betrothed. 
He had her ring but he was far away, infinitely and unat- 
tainably far away, hunting in the Tyrol perhaps, or watch- 
ing the armorers in their workshops engraving the suits of 
armor that he loved as a woman loves new clothes. How 
could Mary, in Ghent, prisoner of her rebellious subjects, 
call him to her side, the only person in whom she could still 
trust, the prince, the knight, whose task it was to protect 
the innocent? 

She wrote. She managed to have her letter sent secretly 
out of the palace, though it was surrounded by halberdiers. 



2$ The Pawn 

Margaret of York too, separated from Mary and waiting in 
helpless rebelliousness in her palace at Malines, wrote to the 
Habsburg court, begged for the coming of Maximilian, the 
only person who could put an end to the desperate situation 
in which the two, the Young Princess and the Old, found 
themselves. And while Mary was more than ever surrounded 
by suitors who vied for her hand Adolf of Gelre (Gelder- 
land), Adolf van Ravestein, son of the Duke of Cleves, not 
to mention the Dauphin Charles an embassy of princes and 
churchmen journeyed to Flanders in the name of the Em- 
peror to conclude by proxy the marriage of the Duchess of 
Burgundy and the Archduke of Austria. The States gave 
their assent and Mary could regard herself as united to 
the young foreign prince and safe from the attempts of the 
people of Ghent to give her hand and her lands away to an as- 
pirant from whom they expected advantage to themselves* 

After the violent emotions of this tragic spring of 1477 
there now began for the young Burgundian Duchess a pe- 
riod of tense anticipation. Her husband, Maximilian, was 
poor, and far away. He must make a worthy entry into the 
Netherlands, and without the wealth of Burgundy this was 
not possible. His new subjects, accustomed to splendor and 
show, their quick tongues ready enough to malign, must re- 
ceive a good impression of their young prince. He must 
come in brilliant company, for all to see that no expense had 
been spared. The Emperor could not provide all this. There- 
fore funds must be sent, and patience practiced, so that the 
preparations might be carried out. 

At last the day did break when the little Duchess was 
able to receive in her audience chamber a wearied messen- 
ger, white with dust, who announced to her that he had 



Archduchess of Austria 37 

seen with his own eyes the entry of her archducal spouse, 
had heard with his own ears the joyous acclaim of her exu- 
berant subjects. And shortly thereafter Mary, standing on 
the steps of her palace, beside her stepmother, whose impres- 
sive beauty took away the breath of the somewhat rustic 
German knights, could greet as her lord and master, her 
savior and her refuge, the young Archduke who was her 
husband. 

In body and mind Maximilian was cut out for the role that 
fate, and Mary's imagination, had bestowed on him. He 
looked like an archangel as at this stirring moment he 
mounted the steps of the ducal palace in one of those mag- 
nificent suits of armor, incised with most skillful art, that 
even now are the pride of famous museums. His young 
sportsman's figure was all riveted in silver, and over that 
shining armor he wore a black velvet Burgundian cross, a 
charming attention toward his bride. Maximilian was bare- 
headed, like the knights who accompanied him, and on the 
radiant blond hair that fell in a wave upon his shoulders he 
wore a wreath of pearls and precious stones. 

At this festive and dramatic moment of his life he was 
utterly happy. He knew himself awaited as rescuer and lib- 
erator by a helpless young woman who was already his wife. 
He was eighteen. His heart beat high against his silver armor 
as, followed by three knights, who like him wore the cross 
of Burgundy in black velvet over their cuirasses, he mounted 
the steps and raised his eyes to the two elegant women who 
awaited him: Margaret, the Old Princess, still the more strik- 
ing of the two duchesses, and Mary, his wife, for whom, be- 
cause of her helplessness, he already felt a tender affection. 
Maximilian, who all his life was to enjoy seeing himself as 



2$ The 

the eternal jeune premier in the tragi-comedy of his princely 
existence, felt himself at this moment in the center of par- 
ticularly flattering f ootlights. The stage setting was perfect, 
the role as if written for him. And the jeune amour euse who 
stepped forward to meet him and greeted him with a shy 
kiss and a few words of French which he did not understand, 
fitted perfectly into the ideal picture he had formed for 
himself of this first meeting. 

She was small and dainty and moved with a light grace 
that was at the same time full of dignity. For Maximilian's 
romantic and enthusiastic heart, love at first sight was a ques- 
tion of a few moments. To his friend Priischenk he was later 
to write full of tenderness about Mary's little face, her mouth 
with the thick underlip that she was to pass on to the Habs- 
burgs, about her snow-white complexion and her brown- 
gray eyes with the slightly swollen Uds giving the impression 
that she had just awakened. At the moment of their meeting 
this little face looked radiantly up to him with such thankful, 
shy adoration that Maximilian's delight blossomed forth like 
an orchard in May sun. He was admired, he was indispen- 
sable! Was this not sufficient to fall in love? Maximilian was 
indeed in love. He was the happiest man in the world, Mary 
was in his young eyes the most beautiful, the most adorable 
of all women. 

In a few moments his dream of happiness was being shared 
by Mary. The young prince who was her husband and who 
had come to free her from a critical situation, to support and 
protect her for the rest of her life, was moreover a delight 
to the eye. In his silver and black velvet he radiated youth 
and the joy of living. His strong, very striking face with 
the large aquiline nose, the prominent underlip, was not 



Archduchess of Austria $$ 

handsome; but it showed a very lively personality, an un- 
mistakable charm, and the large dark eyes lent it a warmth 
that immediately melted Mary's carefully cultivated reserve. 
Her heart overflowed with gratitude, admiration, emotion. 
She too was in love. She was the happiest woman in the 
world, the wife of the noblest, the bravest, the most attrac- 
tive prince. 

And so it remained for the few years during which these 
two were to go through life together. That they did not 
speak each other's language and could at first exchange only 
their feelings and not their thoughts, scarcely hindered them 
in their overwhelming happiness; on the contrary, it in- 
creased the suspense, made their relationship ever more fasci- 
nating. Mary taught Maximilian French, he taught her Ger- 
man. They burst out laughing, like children, at each other's 
mistakes. During the long evenings of their first winter they 
read together the old romances, in which they recognized 
their own love, their own happiness. But most of all they 
enjoyed hunting, the favorite sport of both. Mary on horse- 
back was at ease and tireless, radiant with courage and gaiety, 
the ideal comrade of a born hunter like Maximilian. Both of 
them loved animals. Mary's swift greyhound, which slept in 
their room, was the pride of her young sportsman husband. 
"If we had peace, we should be living in a garden of roses", 
Maximilian wrote at this period of his life. But there was 
never peace. 

For though to Mary and Maximilian the experience of this 
great happiness might now seem the ultimate goal of their 
marriage, what had brought it about was something quite 
different. The realm of Burgundy had to be kept from dis- 
integrating and had to be defended against that formidable 



40 The fawn 

enemy, Louis XI, who, after the marriage of the Damoiselle, 
laid off his fatherly mask and showed himself in his true 
form. Not to love but to command was Maximilian's task. 
And he took it on with the same youthful fire, the same 
enthusiasm, with which throughout his life he always flung 
himself upon anything new that appealed to his imagination. 

The internal difficulties above all were overwhelming for 
the eighteen-year-old foreigner that, after all, Maximilian 
was. On coming to the Low Countries he had, it is true, been 
greeted by the people with rejoicing and with eloquent 
triumphal arches upon which one read that he was the true 
ruler of Burgundy and must fight Burgundy's battle. His 
heroic figure had made an impression and his winning smile 
had been applauded. But when the first festive joy had died 
down, there proved to be no place for the young prince con- 
sort. One thing, however, was certain for his turbulent sub- 
jects: the real sovereignty would have to rest not with this 
inexperienced ruler, but with the burghers. 

But first battle must be done against the arch-enemy Louis, 
whose hordes were laying waste the Burgundian lands. Maxi- 
milian, who seldom hesitated to translate plans into action, 
put to use the now violently anti-French mood of his subjects 
and called them to the national war against the French. He 
raided the treasure chambers so carefully filled by Mary's 
grandfather Philip, and sold valuables to the tune of a hun- 
dred thousand guilders in order to have cash at his disposal. 
The Flemish banking world had confidence in the young 
fighter, of whose personal courage wonders were told, and 
gave him credit, more necessary than a hero's heart. And 
without asking the always recalcitrant States for subsidies, 
Maximilian was able to make his preparations for the protec- 



Archduchess of Austria 41 

tion of those lands which he now looked upon as his own. 

But Louis, who never fought if he could still achieve some- 
thing by diplomacy and delay, broke the Burgundy enthusi- 
asm by repeated armistices. Nevertheless Maximilian was 
constantly in the field. Mary, in a thousand fears lest some- 
thing happen to her recklessly brave husband, saw her hap- 
piness continually threatened. Trembling for Maximilian, 
she awaited her first confinement. And it was Margaret of 
York, Madame la Grande, as they now called her, who, in 
June of that year 1478, carried Mary's first-born, Prince 
Philip, later to be surnamed the Handsome, to the baptismal 
font. Burgundy and Austria had acquired an heir. Banners 
and flags flapped in the summer wind, garlands and festoons 
decorated the streets of all the proud cities, through which 
thanksgiving processions wound, and the nights were red 
with the sooty flames of torchlight parades. There were fes- 
tivities in all the lands of Madame Marie. 

The struggle with France dragged on. With more enthusi- 
asm than ever Mary's subjects now flocked to the leadership 
of the young Archduke, who was the father of a crown 
prince, a new "natural ruler" over the realm of Burgundy. 
One year after the birth of Philip, Maximilian defeated the 
French army at Guinegate. But against Louis weapons were 
always of little use. Alliances were more to the purpose. And 
so Maximilian, who would have loved nothing better than 
to pursue the enemies of his beloved Mary sword in hand, 
saw himself obliged to take refuge in the political game of 
intrigue and ruse, betrayal and deceit, in which Louis was 
such an unsurpassed master. His policy became the traditional 
Burgundian policy. He sought approach to everything in 
France that opposed the absolutist king. He allied himself 



42 The Pawn 

with England, the natural opponent of France, strongly 
supported in this move by Margaret of York, whose well- 
tested policy was thus continued. The end had remained the 
same: nor was it necessary to change the means. In July, 
1478, a trade agreement was reached; a year later the be- 
trothal was arranged of the year-old Archduke Philip and 
Princess Anne of England. 

Maximilian was to deal the French king one more severe 
blow. The Duke of Brittany, once before united with Charles 
the Bold against their common suzerain, now ranged himself 
again on the side of Burgundy. 

Maximilian's star stood high in the heavens. Fortune smiled 
upon him. His love for Mary, her boundless devotion, the 
warm affection of the Old Princess for the young couple, 
the joy over the baby Philip, made of the domestic life of 
the Austro-Burgundian family an idyl such as the children 
of princes are seldom granted. When Maximilian returned 
home after his victory at Guinegate a celebrated commander, 
Mary was expecting her second child. On the loth of Janu- 
ary, 1480, she gave birth to a daughter, who was baptized 
in the cathedral of Sainte Gudule. 

The newborn Archduchess of Austria was named Mar- 
garet, after Madame la Grande. 



Le tout va mal et sans loy est la terre, 
Ou puissance tient le lieu de justice 
Et ou le jour fait de la nuyt Toffice 
Et le f uir tient lieu de bonne guerre. 

Se vous voules ces trois ditz bien enquerre, 
Vous trouveres que par tel malefice 
Le tout va mal. 

Mais on ne veult congnoistre que Ton erre, 
Car pour vertus ung savoir d'aute lice 
L'on exaulce et louhe Ton le vice, 
Dont jurer puis, par monseigneur Saint Perre, 
Le tout va mal. 



All goes awry and lawless is the land, 
Where power takes the place of justice 
And where the day does office for the night 
And men will flee instead of bravely fighting. 

If you will well examine these three sayings, 
You'll find it is by such maleficence 
All goes awry. 

Unwilling to acknowledge that we err, 
We heed familiarity with licence 
As if it were a virtue, praising vice, 
So I can swear, by my lord Holy Father, 
All goes awry. 



CHAPTER TWO 

of France 




THE tenth of January, 1480, It was eleven o'clock in 
the morning when the good news flew through the 
halls and galleries of the ducal palace at Brussels of the happy 
birth of a little Archduchess of Austria. Shortly thereafter 
two messengers left the city to carry the joyful report to 
Maximilian. They did not spare their horses, and they were 
richly rewarded. The birth of a daughter was certainly of no 
less importance to a princely dynasty than that of a son, 
especially now that the succession was already assured* 

The instant she came into the world the fate of the little 
Margaret was determined, and courtiers and burghers made 
no pretense of concealing the reasons for their delight. She 
would be expected to make possible some strengthening 
alliance for the dynasty "quelque bon renfort d'aliance 
pour la Maison" as Margaret's historiographer, Jean Le- 
maire de Beiges, candidly set it down. 

For among princes, just as with farmers, children were a 
help in the business. And daughters, docile and thoroughly 
imbued with their sense of duty, offered more chance of ad- 

45 



4$ The Town 

vantage than younger sons, who only too often inclined to 
set themselves up as centers of dissatisfaction and rebellion 
among nobles or burghers. Daughters offered exceptionally 
good political material. It is not unlikely that Mary, holding 
the baby girl in her arms for the first time, called to mind 
the course of her own life and feared for a future upon 
which she herself, a mere woman, would be able to exert so 
little influence. 

The baby was the pride of her young parents. She was 
sound in health and perfectly formed, which increased her 
future value considerably. To Margaret of York her little 
godchild was a source of lasting joy. Her life had received a 
new content that in a way made up for the loss of her own 
position. She had already had several opportunities to con- 
tract an advantageous second marriage. The Old Princess, 
they called her but she was not yet thirty, and her beauty 
and intelligence were praised far beyond the frontiers. Yet 
she rejected every good match. Burgundy had become her 
life's task. With the purposeful intelligence characteristic of 
her she watched over the young family, gave indispensable 
support to Mary during Maximilian's absences, and was, as 
in the time of Charles the Bold, the real center of the Bur- 
gundian court. 

All Margaret's strength of mind and spirit was to be needed 
sooner than anyone could have expected. The stars under 
which the infant Margaret of Austria was born were to lead 
her, later on, to adopt the device that said so much Fortune, 
Infortune, Fortune . . . and now it was not long before 
they made their disturbing influence felt. 

In September, 1481, Mary had again given birth to a son, 
who died soon after. It seemed that the sorrow over this loss 



Queen of France 47 

was never to leave her. She lived as if under a shadow and 
suffered deeply from the anxiety that Maximilian's absence 
during his French campaigns again and again caused her. 
In vain did Margaret of York try to put some heart into her, 
in vain did her advisers praise the military talent and the 
ability Maximilian had always shown as a soldier. Each part- 
ing was martyrdom for Mary, each reunion beclouded by 
new fear. Each time she bravely fought against the depression 
for which she could give the troubled Maximilian no single 
reason. She had every cause to be happy: she was awaiting 
her fourth child. 

It was in 1482, on one of those unexpectedly mild spring 
days among the bufferings of March, that Mary suggested 
a plan for a hunting party, in the hope that sun and fresh 
air might help her out of the inexplicable heaviness of spirit 
that had now been torturing her for weeks. She was advised 
against it: would she not, in view of her condition, be content 
with a quiet ride? But she yearned for exercise, for danger, 
for forgetf ulness. And they rode forth. 

Mary, her falcon on her wrist, was followed by the ladies 
of her court, while the Archduke, at the head of his nobles, 
soon vanished from sight. The early spring morning was 
fresh and exhilarating. The young Duchess breathed deeply, 
enjoyed the rapid exercise, the swift flight of the birds of 
chase, the stately sailing of the herons. The shadow seemed 
to leave her, her voice sounded gaily over the awakening 
countryside. 

She urged her horse to greater speed, not to lose her hunt- 
ing falcon from sight. A ditch caused her mount to hesitate. 
Mary struck it with her open palm, it took fright, turned 
suddenly. . . . The disaster had happened. The Duchess 



jg The Pawn 

was thrown against a tree, the horse went down, its crushing 
weight falling full on Mary's body. 

Seriously injured, bleeding heavily, she was picked up and 
carried to Bruges. A prey to helpless modesty, she refused to 
let herself be examined. She understood what her fate was to 
be, and now in the days during which she slowly bled to 
death she showed again the heroic courage that had once 
driven her to fight for the lives of her councilors. She com- 
forted Maximilian in his despair, said she believed in her 
recovery. But whenever he left her chamber for a few mo- 
ments, she wept in the arms of Margaret of York, wept for 
her young life, her children, her love. 

Pilgrimages were undertaken. Bareheaded, Maximilian 
strode through the streets of Bruges in a penitential proces- 
sion, followed by the whole court, by thousands of sorrow- 
ing citizens. On his return he found Mary exhausted, but 
smiling. 

The Knights of the Golden Fleece, devoted followers of 
the late Duke Charles, were called in. Weeping they stood 
around the bed of the Duchess, while she besought them to 
remain faithful to her husband and her children, to defend 
her country and her subjects. 

She begged forgiveness of God for the worldly life she 
had led, of her friends for the sorrow she might have brought 
upon them. She bade farewell to the knights, to the ladies 
of her court, to Margaret, to her children ... to Maxi- 
milian. She died on the 271*1 of March, 1482, at the age 
of 25. She had been gentleness and docility itself. In the 
lives of Margaret of York and Maximilian she left a void 
that could not be filled. Her children had scarcely known 
her. 




Hospital of St. John, Bruges 

Margaret of York, Detail representing St. Barbara from the 
altarpiecc by Hans Mcmlinc. 




Kaiser Friedrich Museum, Berlin 

Charles the Bold, by Rogier van der Weyden. 



Queen of France 49 

There was one person whose joy over Mary's death knew 
no bounds: Louis XI of France, who had held her at her 
christening. It was the last of his many passive triumphs, 
this death and its consequences. Himself on the edge of 
the grave and trembling with the fear of death, persecuted 
by rapidly repeated strokes that each time deprived him of 
speech and that each time he managed to overcome, Louis 
accepted the demise of the young Duchess as a gift from 
Heaven. It prolonged his wavering life by a few months of 
which he managed to make use in masterly fashion. Partially 
paralyzed, hiding in the darkest room of Plessis-les-Tours 
so that people should not be aware that he was dying and 
hence fear him the less, Louis went on weaving at the fatal 
web in which Burgundy was to be enmeshed to its destruc- 
tion. 

News reached him that the two children, Margaret and 
Philip, were in the hands of the citizens of Ghent as instru- 
ments of power over their father. With the young and in- 
experienced Maximilian, who possessed scarcely any influ- 
ence, he had no need to reckon. The bells that rang for 
Mary's death announced to Louis the end of the Burgundy 
he so hated. Ghent would now, as so often before, be his 
willing tool. 

And Ghent was ready. Forgotten the revulsion which, in 
a flood of loyalty to Mary, it had felt for the French King. 
Forgotten the triumphal arches with which it had welcomed 
the Archduke of Austria as the true ruler over Flanders. 
Ghent now thought only of the times when it had been 
enslaved by Charles the Bold, -remembered only its hatred 
of the house of Burgundy, despised Maximilian, the poor 
foreigner, who had nothing else to offer than war against 



jo The fawn 

France and very dubious victories that would cost a great 
deal of money. Louis' promises were much more attractive 
to burghers and workmen. He spoke in clinking coin, and 
they Imew his voice of old. His offer meant peace. 

Thus Maximilian found himself after Mary's death in 
circumstances that truly bordered on the desperate. The loss 
of the woman who had been the joy of his life had simul- 
taneously robbed him of the political position he had ac- 
quired through his marriage. Mary had indeed signed a 
will, three days before her death, by which she had appointed 
her children heirs to her lands and possessions, and had named 
Maximilian guardian, governor, and regent of the realm until 
the majority of Philip, successor to the ducal throne. But 
what should this hastily made will mean to the States of the 
Burgundian provinces who had not been consulted in Mary's 
decision, and who all too gladly and rightly saw in Maxi- 
milian the successor to Duke Charles, the Scourge? Louis' 
spies were sneaking around Flanders, scattering promises and 
costly gifts. . . . 

One month after the death of their "natural princess" the 
States-General met in Ghent. They accepted the Archduke 
of Austria as guardian and regent, although Flanders, more 
rebellious than the other provinces, still deferred its judg- 
ment. But the war with France was definitely ruled out. Wars 
cost money, cost blood, the States argued. The people wanted 
peace in order to work in quiet and security, to grow rich 
and to enjoy life. What did the Flemings care about the 
Duchy of Burgundy, since Charles's death in the hands of 
the French? They could live without the Walloons, who 
were probably quite content to belong once more to the 
country whose language they spoke. The States had learned 



Queen of France 57 

that King Louis favored a very reasonable peace, that he 
wished to do the little Archduchess Margaret the honor of a 
marriage with Charles the Dauphin. Could Maximilian im- 
agine a more illustrious and useful union for the small prin- 
cess? 

No matter how the Archduke pleaded that they should 
leave him his daughter, that they should not hand her over 
in exchange for a shameful peace which he, at the beginning 
of a glorious military career, did not wish, the influence of 
Flanders, and particularly of Ghent, was so strong that he 
had to give in. 

So, on the 23rd of December, 1482, at Arras, the peace 
treaty between France and Burgundy was signed by which 
the two-year-old Archduchess of Austria made her entrance 
into history. She became the affianced bride of thirteen- 
year-old Dauphin Charles, whom the burghers of Ghent had 
chosen for her mother five years before, and who was now 
obliged to break his engagement to a daughter of the King 
of England. Margaret's dowry included Artois and the 
Franche-Comte, the lands of Macon, Auxerre-en-Salins, Bar- 
sur-Seine and Noyons, which instantly passed into the hands 
of the French king. By this arrangement she gave up the right 
to further demands she might have made on her mother's 
inheritance. The treaty, so bitter for Maximilian, finally in- 
cluded the condition that the little bride should be promptly 
delivered over, in order that she might be brought up in her 
future husband's country, far from her father and his anti- 
French influence, to become a worthy queen of France. The 
Bang on his part agreed that the Dauphin should wed the 
little Archduchess as soon as she should have reached mar- 
riageable age. The Grand Privilege, which had been wrung 



p The fawn 

from Mary after the death of her father and which meant 
sentence of death upon the central authority of Burgundy, 
was- with understandable satisfaction ratified by Louis. 

A few weeks after the conclusion of the treaty the little 
bride celebrated her third birthday. Deep mourning hung 
over the court at Ghent. Margaret of York grieved at the 
approaching separation from her godchild, who had some- 
times made her forget for a moment the loss of Mary. Maxi- 
milian, since the death of his wife more than ever a foreigner 
in the Low Countries, was obliged to look on helplessly while 
the last trace of authority was taken from him. In contradic- 
tion to the decision of the States, who had recognized the 
Archduke as governor and regent, a regency council was set 
up for Philip, in which the strongest influence was exerted by 
Ghent. As his two children had been taken hostage, the 
young and battle-loving Maximilian was deprived of any 
possibility of resistance against the decisions of his rebellious 
subjects. Only the circumstance that the long journey in 
winter might endanger the life of the little princess prevented 
the burghers of Ghent from delivering her over immediately 
to her grasping father-in-law. 

While execution of the treaty thus dragged on in expecta- 
tion of the mild spring weather that should make Margaret's 
long journey possible, strange rumors began to circulate in 
the Low Countries. Something was said to be wrong with 
the marriage of "Madame Margaret". What were these 
Ghent fellows up to? They had, so the whisper went round, 
married off this daughter of Burgundy to a boy who did not 
exist. Had anyone ever seen a French crown prince with his 
own eyes? Was it not said that the hated and feared Louis 
had never had a son of his own? This was a son, they declared, 



Queen of France 53 

of Louis' son-in-law, the Sieur de Beaujeu, to whom Margaret 
had been given in marriage. Shame on the people of Ghent, 
who had sold the reputation of Burgundy for their own 
advantage! Protests and complaints rained down and in 
Ghent itself suspicion raised its head. 

To put an end to all these evil rumors an embassy set forth 
from Ghent to France, to convince itself with its own eyes 
of the existence of Dauphin Charles. At Amboise he was in 
fact shown to these ambassadors. But their servants, fearing 
to be deceived nevertheless, if they too had not kept them- 
selves properly informed, raised a clamor outside the castle 
gates, threatened to unmask the embassy on its return home, 
demanded entrance to the castle where the ambassadorial 
gentlemen were satisfying their own curiosity. The excited 
noise penetrated to the rooms in which the governors of the 
Dauphin were exhibiting their charge. And to remove all 
doubt, they flung the portals wide and let servants and 
grooms, fools and barbers, into the royal presence. Everyone 
was satisfied, and to the pleasure and reassurance of his public 
little Charles gave an exhibition of sharp-shooting, trotted 
around to show that he was a strong and healthy boy, and 
finally took off his little tabard of costly gold brocade, which, 
with all appearance of frank spontaneity, he gave away to a 
fool who had come in with the Flemish servants and who 
carried it back with him in triumph to Flanders. 

Without his coat Charles was even better to be seen, and 
letters from eyewitnesses told admiringly of his sturdy 
calves, calling him a fine beginning of a prince "ung tres 
beau commencement de prince". . . . His three-year-old 
bride might rest content. 

After this experience the ambassadors journeyed to Tours, 



24 The Pawn 

where Bang Louis, his dying body enveloped in the luxurious 
furs and satins he had disdained all his life, received the 
gentlemen of Ghent in a castle defended by sharpshooters, 
its iron gates guarded by bloodhounds. They found him in 
a little prisonlike room, without light, so that they could 
scarcely distinguish him. He spoke with difficulty, and only 
a few words, apologized because his right hand, which he 
carried in a sling, was somewhat weak. He took his oath 
upon the treaty with his left hand. 

The gentlemen from Ghent, who had quite a different 
picture in their minds of the powerful French ruler, giver of 
so many princely presents, were nevertheless most deeply 
impressed by this scarcely visible deathly apparition. They 
feared the pale, ghostly face. They did not know how to 
show sufficiently their willingness to please. The King, who 
would have been content if little Margaret had received 
either Artois or the Franche-Comte as dowry, acquired both 
through the largesse of the people of Ghent. This he greatly 
prized. Their pockets full of gold, a princely tip, the ambas- 
sadors returned to Flanders. 

Toward the end of April, when the roads had become 
passable for a slowly and carefully traveling train of car- 
riages, the moment of parting came. To Margaret the tears 
of her grandmother, who was so young, and the silence of 
her usually so talkative ladies in waiting must have been 
quite incomprehensible. Why should they be crying, while 
she was being dressed as for some festivity? "Madame la 
Dauphine", as she was now generally called, must make her 
entry into France in worthy style. For this great journey 
she wore a little black satin dress all embroidered in gold 
thread, and a black velvet hat without a brim, over a white 
muslin veil. A heavy pendant of pearls and large jewels made 



Queen of France 55 

this scarcely youthful toilette if possible still less childish. 
The unknown artist who shortly before her departure 
painted her in all this melancholy black, managed admirably 
to set down in his rather stiff little portrait the tragedy of 
these early years. From the pale infant face two dark eyes 
look into the distance with a resignation that is just as un- 
childish as the costly dress. The family trait of the Habs- 
burgs is clearly to be recognized: the protruding chin that 
both her grandfather Frederick III and her father Maximilian 
possessed and that in Margaret was further accentuated by 
the thick underlip which gave her such a strong resemblance 
to her mother. The little nose is rather broad and plump and 
gives rise to the suspicion that the prospective Queen of 
France was to be no spectacular beauty. But the melancholy 
little face with the striking eyes and the very pronounced 
little mouth already bears all the characteristics of the per- 
sonality that was later to develop. 

The burghers of Ghent, who had sold the little Arch- 
duchess, saw to it that she should be escorted by a strong 
and brilliant cortege if only to be sure that Maximilian 
would not attempt at the last moment to free his child by 
force from the hands of those who were going to deliver 
her over to the arch-enemy of Burgundy. 

The coach, borne like a litter between two horses, in which 
Margaret traveled sitting on the lap of her nurse, Jeanne 
de Bousanton, was accompanied by her mother's cousin, 
Adolph of Cleves, lord of Ravestein, and various Flemish 
nobles who had chosen the side of Ghent and the French 
king. After this escort followed no less than ten gilded car- 
riages, carved with the proud amis of Burgundy and cano- 
pied with cloth of gold. In these sat the ladies in waiting who 



ft The Pawn 

were to attend Madame la Dauphine on her journey. They 
had spared no expense and vied with each other in fashion- 
able toilettes and costly ornaments. After these covered car- 
riages rode ten young noblewomen, mounted upon white 
palfreys. 

The brilliant procession moved laboriously over the rough 
roads. Margaret and her nurse swayed with the motion of 
the broad-backed Flemish horses. The ladies in their covered 
carriages were jolted and flung about over holes and bumps. 
It was a tiring expedition, and the ladies, though pleased and 
flattered to have been selected for such an important mission, 
complained to each other in their distress, shortening the time 
by exchanging guesses as to how they were likely to be re- 
ceived. 

They traveled in easy stages, took three days to get from 
Ghent to Lille, where a long halt was made because time must 
be allowed for the French embassy, on its way to meet the 
prospective crown princess, to reach the city of Hesdin, 
where the solemn reception was to take place. After nearly 
two weeks word came that all preparations had been made 
and that Madame la Dauphine was awaited at Hesdin. 

No less a personage than Bang Louis' daughter, Madame 
Anne de Beaujeu, had gone with her husband to meet her 
sister-in-law-to-be. Monseigneur de Beaujeu, with a brilliant 
retinue and in the company of the municipal authorities of 
the good city of Hesdin, received the Burgundian cavalcade 
outside the gates and led the little Dauphine to the castle 
where Anne de Beaujeu, surrounded by countless ladies, 
awaited her. Excitement ran high in the slowly approaching 
Burgundian carriages. Madame de Beaujeu, those occupants 
who could see ahead noticed from afar, was wearing violet 



Queen of France 57 

satin, and the lining of her dress seemed to be cloth of gold. 
The two noblewomen on either side of her were dressed like 
twin sisters in black velvet lined with crimson. But the great- 
est sensation were the brimless black hats these two ladies 
wore and the very fashionable hanging curls that appeared 
from under those hats. The Burgundian noblewomen, who 
until this day had been happy with their hair shaved at the 
temples, the style so flattering to the noble countenance of 
Margaret of York, suddenly felt like country cousins. How 
daring French fashions always were, really! Jealousy min- 
gled with admiration in the hearts of the ladies from Flan- 
ders. 

They were now about to descend from their carriages, and 
most of them just managed to catch a glimpse of how Mad- 
ame de Beaujeu twice sank to her knees before the little 
Dauphine, now the "first lady" of France, sitting upon her 
nurse's arm. The nurse, utterly overcome to see the elegant 
French princess kneeling at her feet, now also wished, though 
she still had Margaret on her arm, to make a low curtsy. But 
Monseigneur de Beaujeu prevented her from doing so with 
a charming kindness that completely broke the ice of this 
first meeting. The French ladies then embraced and kissed 
the little Archduchess, spoke friendly words, exchanged 
courtesies with the Burgundians. The entire company pres- 
ently followed the Dauphine to the room that had been 
prepared for her, and left her there alone with her nurse. 

But Anne de Beaujeu still had a very important part of 
her mission to fulfill. Together with her husband she went a 
few days later to the apartments of the little Archduchess 
and informed the Burgundian ladies in waiting that the King 
had commanded her to assure herself that Madame la Dau- 



S 8 The Pawn 

phine would be a worthy daughter-in-law for His Majesty 
even without the all-covering satin of her little dress of state. 
Just as the gentlemen from Ghent had been able to see the 
Dauphin without his tabard, Madame de Beaujeu and her 
husband now gazed with great seriousness upon the little 
princess undressed, "at which they were well content, being 
greatly pleased in every way' 7 "dont fort se contenterent 
et sy leur pleut grandement en toutes manieres" as Bresin 
tells in his chronicles. 

And now nothing further stood in the way of the offi- 
cial engagement ceremony. The French and Burgundian 
ambassadors met in the castle where Margaret was staying, 
and they attended her "levee" in full state. When mass had 
been read, everyone adjourned to the great hall, where the 
Chancellor of Brabant, in the presence of the whole glittering 
company, proceeded to give a thoroughly dull reading of the 
endless marriage contract. Margaret, who attended this cere- 
mony on the lap of her nurse, was thereupon solemnly con- 
fided to the care of Monseigneur de Beaujeu, who, however, 
at once returned her to the nurse. Herewith the official de- 
livering over of the prospective crown princess had been 
accomplished and the Flemish embassy had concluded their 
important task. The knights and noble ladies were given to 
understand that they could now return home with a clear 
conscience. 

"So that was all? " the Burgundian ladies asked themselves. 
Was it for this cold and boring morning ceremony that they 
had brought on this long journey their finest attire and their 
most costly ornaments? Was this the far-famed French po- 
liteness? Would these people dare be so rude as to let so many 



Queen of France 59 

distinguished personages depart without paying them the 
attention of at least one evening festivity, at which they 
might show off their jewels in the flattering light of candles 
and torches? Did they really intend to dismiss the cream of 
Burgundian court circles like a company of insignificant 
lady's maids and governesses? 

The indignation of Madame de Ravestein, Madame de 
Gruuthuse, the many young noblewomen, knew no bounds. 
The day of departure was set and not a single invitation 
came to soothe ruffled feelings. Could one allow oneself to 
be treated like this? There still was such a thing, the ladies 
felt, as Burgundian pride. 

They took revenge in their own way. On the morning of 
their departure they all donned their most brilliant gowns, 
put on the necklaces, the tiaras, the bracelets and earrings 
they had so gaily brought along in their costly cases. And 
went, attired as for the most elegant evening party, to take 
their leave of Madame la Dauphine and of the mannerless 
gentlemen and ladies of the French court. Like a company 
of queens they entered the palace, and left it again immedi- 
ately, too angry, too offended, to feel sad at having to take 
leave of Madame Margaret. Thus, in their velvets and satins, 
glittering with jewels the like of which the French noble- 
women had never beheld, the Burgundian ladies stepped into 
their covered carriages, mounted their white palfreys. Like 
a fairy-tale cavalcade they left the city of Hesdin, stared 
after by a few astonished burghers to whom chance had 
granted this unexpected opportunity. A mile outside the city, 
far from the staring eyes, the gaping mouths of those unman- 
nerly French, the procession halted so that the ladies might 



6o The Tawn 

exchange their gala dresses for practical traveling clothes. 
Pro-French they certainly had not become through this in- 
cident. 

After the departure of her indignant suite Margaret re- 
mained behind in France among total strangers. Only her 
nurse, Jeanne de Bousanton, was allowed to stay with her. 
How did the child react to these shocks, to the tiring weeks 
that followed, when she entered France in triumph? Did 
they lay the foundation of the premature self-assurance, the 
independence, the self-esteem, that were soon to characterize 
her? 

It was part of the dying Louis' propaganda campaign to 
make the little Dauphine's journey through France into a 
triumphal progress. Her prospective subjects, who disliked 
the devastations of war as much as the burghers of the Low 
Countries did, hailed her as the symbol of everlasting peace, 
praised the King for his wise conduct of affairs, for the ex- 
cellent intentions he seemed to have toward his people. Paris 
was filled with the sound of festivities when "La Marguerite 
des Marguerites" entered its gates on the second of June, 
1483. Between the houses hung with tapestries and costly 
fabrics, past squares where the guilds of the city exhibited 
the most bizarre fantasy in their symbolic representations, 
through streets filled with excited shouting crowds, the royal 
litter went its way, swaying on the backs of the two finely 
caparisoned horses. 

Not much could be seen of the child only a few people 
were able to relate how royal, how engaging she had looked. 
But the procession was magnificent, the torches flickered in 
the soft June evening. . . . There was peace. The Parisians 



Queen of France 61 

celebrated far into the night. Impressive and moving cere- 
monies still awaited them. For the three-year-old Crown 
Princess did as the queens of France were wont to do at their 
coronation: from every Parisian guild one journeyman, per- 
spiring with joy and emotion, was promoted to the rank of 
master by Madame la Dauphine herself. 

But these festivities and ceremonies were merely inci- 
dental. The journey had to be continued, and on the zind 
of June Margaret arrived with her French train at Amboise 
and met at last her counterpart in the displays of which she 
had so far been the center. Her prospective husband ful- 
filled his role admirably, though his outward appearance did 
little to help. The gentlemen from Ghent who had had the 
privilege of viewing the Dauphin Charles had been so carried 
away by the fact that a genuine crown prince really seemed 
to exist that they had scarcely noticed how unattractive the 
little fellow was. And Margaret had as yet no eye for the 
appearance of her bridegroom: a thin, undergrown young- 
ster with a hollow chest, crooked legs, and a head much too 
big, dressed in crimson satin which further accentuated his 
pallor. 

The Dauphin made his reverent obeisance before his three- 
year-old bride. But this first meeting could only be of short 
duration, for he was in a hurry to put on a fitting costume for 
the next scene. He was hastily brought to a house in the 
neighborhood where he changed his red satin for a long 
tabard of cloth of gold. Suitably attired for the real betrothal 
ceremony, he proceeded to a place that had been roped off 
for the occasion, where "Madame la Delphine" joined him a 
little later. 

Thus, in the open air, the children's betrothal took place. 



fa The Pawn 

The protonotary, in a loud voice that all could hear, asked 
the Dauphin whether he wished to take Margaret of Austria 
in marriage, to which he answered in the affirmative. After 
which the little Archduchess was asked whether she desired 
Charles the Dauphin as her husband. "Yes", came the child's 
voice. Her hand was laid in his and Charles, aware of his new 
dignity, bent down to the little girl who was willing to marry 
him and kissed her twice. 

It was not a long engagement. For on the very next day 
the marriage was consecrated by the same cure who had 
christened the Dauphin thirteen years before. The children 
took the oath "as one does in marriage, for better or for 
worse" "comme Ton fait en manage, c'est a savoir de non 
changer pour pire ne meilleur". The Dauphin put a tiny ring 
on the little hand that was held up to him. Margaret's first 
marriage tie was tied. 

Her French education could now begin. 

Although much tragedy lay hidden in the fate that befell 
the little fair girl from Flanders, it also had its brighter side. 
In France she was in very good hands. Amboise, situated 
among the rolling fields of Touraine, on the shining, many- 
castled Loire, was assigned to her for her residence. The 
people, who looked upon her as the symbol of a glorious 
French victory and of peace, treated her with gentle respect. 
The French court had nothing to fear from her, and even 
less when, a few months after Margaret's wedding, Louis 
XI died at last and his daughter Anne de Beaujeu assumed 
the regency for her minor brother, now Charles VIII. 

With Anne, who was twenty and according to her father 
the least foolish woman in France "la moins f olle f emme de 



Queen of France 63 

France" the joy of life returned to the various royal resi- 
dences from which it had been driven out by fear and sus- 
picion during Louis' rule. The castle of Amboise, where the 
Dauphin had lived like a prisoner, so withdrawn that rumors 
of his nonexistence seemed plausible, now became the center 
of a lively and elegant court life. Although "la petite Royne" 
took no part in it, the atmosphere in which she spent these 
first French years was bright and harmonious and of a warm 
friendliness. 

Anne de Beaujeu, energetic and intelligent, watched over 
the so recently wrought unity of the kingdom, and over the 
little Queen. She gave Margaret an excellent governess, 
Madame de Segre, who cared for the lonely child like a 
mother. In later years, when she herself was charged with 
the upbringing of four motherless children, Margaret was 
often to remember this warm-hearted, understanding woman 
who had given her such a happy youth. 

Though she was often called by the comfortable name of 
"Mademoiselle de Flandre", Margaret's way of living yet 
conformed entirely to her queenly dignity. Her court was 
organized according to the strictest royal norms. Her Grand 
Master was the Seigneur de Segre, the husband of her gov- 
erness, and this functionary ruled over a numerous house- 
hold. Twenty ladies in waiting, six lords in waiting, a Master 
of the House, a treasurer, a doctor supported by an apothe- 
cary, an almoner, a chaplain, two secretaries, and numerous 
servants surrounded the little Queen with the routine of their 
daily activity, prescribed by etiquette, and gave to her mode 
of life the regularity that was so conducive to a balanced 
physical and mental growth. Her nurse too was still there 
to look after her, assisted in this task by two valets and two 



64 The Pawn 

chambermaids, a "lavendiere de corps", and two laundresses. 
The table and kitchen personnel, the latter made up of expert 
specialists, was highly impressive. Besides the six lords in 
waiting whose duty it was two by two to pass the roast, the 
bread, and the wine at Her Majesty's meals, it consisted of 
two "chefs of the bread", three cellar masters with one aide, 
three kitchen chefs and two cooks, two specialists for the 
soup, one for the roast, three cook's boys, one "saulcier", 
and an "aide de saulcerye". The French kitchen lived up to 
its name; its servants at the castle of Amboise were many and 
skilled. 

The accounts of her treasurer, maitre Loys Ruze, which 
because of her insufficient years were countersigned for 
her by Madame de Segre "Premiere dame d'honneur de la 
Royne, pour et au lieu de la dicte Dame, pour ce qu'elle n'est 
en aage souffisant pour signer" give an idea of the various 
amusements the little Queen was allowed to enjoy and which 
she would pay for, often with her own hand and always in 
gold. Many personages who for one reason or another con- 
sidered themselves important or worth looking at or thought 
they could contribute something to the royal pleasure visited 
the miniature court at Amboise and were presented with 
gold pieces: a dwarf came to show himself to the Queen and 
a man who had been captured by the heathen; a female choir 
came to sing a New Year's song; two children did contortion- 
ist stunts; a priest came to preach; another contortionist, and 
even a "gentleman" who understood this art, delighted Mar- 
garet with their twists and turns. 

When such extra performances were not to the fore, 
Madame amused herself with her dolls, the expense of whose 
dresses was also mentioned in the accounts. And then there 



Queen of France 65 

were the castle doves which she fed, the parrot that lived 
in a large green cage and was perhaps the same "Green 
Lover" "Amant vert" that was to keep her faithful com- 
pany in later years. 

There were also serious duties to be performed. On Whit- 
Thursday in the year 1485 the five-year-old Queen washed 
the feet of thirteen poor persons, who also received the gift 
of a golden half-ducat each. In July of the same year the 
court went to Tours to see the Passion plays, for which the 
treasurer rented special grandstands. And on the occasion 
of a visit of Madame's to Montrichard, beds were even hired 
for the ladies in waiting from certain burghers of that city, 
while the tapestries of Margaret's own room were taken 
along in order that she should be surrounded by her accus- 
tomed comfort even on a journey. 

On all occasions Margaret appeared in dignified but very 
tasteful clothes. With her red-gold hair and her milk-white 
complexion, people liked to see her in black, and her ward- 
robe included a choice of black satin, damask, and velvet 
dresses, with which she wore little black velvet caps and in 
winter a little coat of curly lambskin. To keep her completely 
in style, even her ABC booklet had been covered with black 
velvet. But on festive occasions she also wore gold brocade 
and gold-brown satin, purple velvet and scarlet cloth. Kind 
Madame de Segre chose the jewels for her foster-child with 
much care and taste, and thus Berthelot Clabault, the gold- 
smith, received the commission to make a golden belt for Her 
Majesty, studded all over with her initials, M.M., in red and 
white enamel. The gold used for this ornament was taken 
from one of the heavy chains Margaret had brought along 
from the Burgundiaft treasuries and which Madame de Segre, 



66 The Pawn 

with her elegant French taste, probably found too heavy and 
too impersonal. 

Yet the products of her native land were not altogether 
despised. The little shirts and drawers, the knee-protectors 
"gardegenoulx" the little caps and handkerchiefs that were 
made for her were of the finest Holland linen. The little 
Queen was not to be pitied. She lived in a beneficent climate 
of warm sympathy and kindly care, in a milieu of refined 
taste, in the midst of a typically French landscape, silver and 
green under a limpid sky. 

Her education was French, and therefore probably more 
one-sided than if she had lived in Flanders, where her knowl- 
edge of languages would certainly have received more 
attention, where Madame la Grande would have taught her 
English and Maximilian undoubtedly German, and where 
Flemish would surely not have remained unknown to her. 
These languages were now considered beneath the dignity 
of a queen of France. But Madame de Segre, under the super- 
vision of Anne de Beaujeu herself, did not fail to initiate her 
into all the fine arts, those noble occupations which formed 
and refined her taste, filling her with a passionate love for 
beauty and harmony that was never to leave her, that was in 
time to be a consolation to herself, an inspiration to countless 
others. 

So Margaret learned as a child the elements of drawing 
and painting, industriously studied singing and the lute, be- 
came familiar with the embroidery needle, learned with little 
hopping steps the stately dances, the danses basses, that were 
danced at the court balls. She was the Queen of France, and 
now and then she received a visit from her husband, sur- 
rounded like herself by courtiers and tutors. No shadow 



Queen of France 6j 

darkened these first years. She was a happy child, who had 
scarcely any recollections of that other world in which she 
had been born: rich and unruly Flanders, the ever traveling 
court of Burgundy. 

Although the little Flemish- Austrian princess dwelt at the 
court of Amboise as a symbol of eternal peace, European 
history did not stand still. Maximilian's innate resilience had 
not forsaken him after the death of his wife, after the shame- 
ful peace with France and the departure of little Margaret. 
Nor had his subjects become any easier to deal with, and 
the French nobility were as little as ever inclined to submit 
to the monarchy, now that it was being represented merely 
by a minor boy and a young woman of twenty. The treaty 
of Arras, Margaret's marriage with the Dauphin Charles, had 
been but a pause, a slowing down by which the stream of 
history had only gathered more force, to rush on afterward 
with greater speed. 

In the death of his arch-enemy Louis, Maximilian saw the 
chance for revenge he so burningly craved. He immediately 
gave rein to his optimistic love of action. An ambassador 
went to Charles VIII to protest against the peace concluded 
at Arras; with Ferdinand the Catholic of Aragon, with Eng- 
land, new relations were initiated, aimed against France. And 
in complete accord with the former anti-French policy, 
which he had taken over together with the lands of Burgundy 
from his father-in-law, Charles the Bold, Maximilian sought 
anew a rapprochement with the Duke of Brittany, last of the 
great French vassals, who up to now had managed to escape 
Louis' policy of centralization. The blow France had dealt 
him through the marriage of his daughter Maximilian now 



68 The Pawn 

sought to counter by means of the same weapon: he sued for 
the hand of Anne, daughter and heiress of Francis, Duke of 
Brittany. 

At home too Maximilian took his measures. The burghers 
of Ghent still had the little Archduke Philip in their hands 
and thought to control the Regent of Burgundy through 
this instrument of power. But the other provinces were re- 
volting against the dictatorship of Flanders; they supported 
Maximilian, and civil war against rebellious Ghent became a 
fact. 

And not against Ghent alone. For Ghent, as of old, called 
upon the French King, who, as worthy successor to his 
father, declared that he would maintain with all his power 
the rights of his "brother" Philip that were being threatened 
by Maximilian. He even made an alliance with his little 
brother-in-law, behind whose childish person Ghent's sepa- 
ratist endeavor ran riot. But Charles did not lend much sup- 
port. The Flemings saw themselves threatened by the Ger- 
man soldiers Maximilian had taken into his service. One by 
one the rebel cities, their military capacities no longer abreast 
of the times, fell before the excellent professional troops with 
their modern equipment. Ghent too was obliged to open its 
gates, with all the consequences of that act. 

Once more it lost all the privileges it had won back since 
the death of Charles the Bold. And at the same time it lost 
the most powerful privilege it had possessed: Archduke 
Philip was removed from the city and transferred to Malines. 

Peace now reigned at last in the Low Countries, an out- 
ward but no inward peace. Now that his guardianship over 
his son was recognized, Maximilian was free to follow up 
his own interests, which lay no less close to his heart. Was 



Queen of France 6p 

he not in the first place Archduke of Austria, only son of 
the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire? The succession 
to Frederick III had to be settled, and so Maximilian left for 
Germany in November, 1485. He traveled in more than 
princely style, and his train included among others a carefully 
selected choir, whose members wore long vermilion tabards 
lined in different colors according to the parts they sang, 
tenor, baritone, or bass. What an impression this choir must 
have made on the musical German princes, who would be 
obliged to choose Maximilian as successor to the old Em- 
peror! It was an exceptionally good piece of propaganda, 
as were also the touching scenes enacted in order to make 
the meeting between father and son into an advertisement 
for the succession. 

Maximilian achieved his purpose. In February, 1486, he 
was in fact chosen King of the Romans, successor to Emperor 
Frederick III. In April his dedication followed and his coro- 
nation, by three archbishops, with the ancient German im- 
perial crown. Radiant with new dignity, Maximilian, now 
bearer of a royal tide, returned to his Burgundian lands. 

After this he had no other aim than vengeance against 
France, power for himself. What purpose could the wealthy 
lands of Burgundy better serve than that of strengthening 
the prestige of the House of Austria during the minority of 
their natural prince, Archduke Philip? The war between 
France and Burgundy broke out anew. After a few victories 
for Maximilian the struggle swept northward again. The 
French were now gaining the upper hand. Flanders' aversion 
to the foreigner who had broken the precious peace of Arras, 
who was furthermore losing the war, taxing them more 
heavily than Charles the Bold had ever done, and whose 



jo The fawn 

troops were looting the countryside as though it were enemy 
territory, increased every day. In Ghent indignation flared 
up again. The last defeat was forgotten, the rebellious guilds 
took control and the city acted in accordance with the rights 
the Grand Privilege had given it: it called the States of Bra- 
bant and Hainaut to a meeting within its walls. 

True, these bodies did not respond; but the voice of Ghent 
penetrated to the ears of the French king, always ready to 
support the rebel subjects of Burgundy. Not Louis XI now, 
but Charles VIII took their part, granted them special rights. 
Once more Ghent and France stood together against the 
Regent of Burgundy. Maximilian, confident in his new royal 
dignity, confident above all in his excellent troops, did not 
hesitate to proceed to action. He convened the States General 
at Bruges, counting upon their support, and himself arrived 
in that city with a small bodyguard a few days before the 
meeting. 

And then the little people, the carpenters and masons, the 
smiths and potters of Bruges, attempted for the last time to 
establish the authority of the burghers over that of the ruler. 
Maximilian was inside the walls of the murmuring city, his 
troops were still outside. The burghers closed the gates, re- 
fusing to his soldiery the entry which Maximilian demanded 
in person. The people sprang to arms, brought up guns, 
transformed the market into an armed camp. They scarcely 
took in the circumstance that they had the King of the 
Romans, the prospective Emperor of the Holy Roman Em- 
pire, the Regent of Burgundy, in their power. 

Taking refuge in a spice shop on the market place, Maxi- 
milian realized that he was the prisoner of his subjects, who 
did not know what to do with their prey. But they began 



Queen of France ji 

by treating him to a series of executions, carried out in the 
market square under his very windows. City magistrates, 
merchants, officials and councilors of the Regent it was all 
one. The people wanted to see torture and blood, to take 
revenge, to make their power felt in a blind rage. 

Who was responsible for the fact that the trade of Bruges, 
once so flourishing, was dying out? That the great foreign 
merchants who had brought treasures to the city were 
moving their offices to Antwerp? That the inhabitants of 
Bruges were diminishing in number, her craftsmen could 
scarcely earn their bread, her houses were standing empty? 
The central Burgundian government. And the torture rack 
was dragged to the market square so that everyone could 
enjoy the cries of the victims. Under Maximilian's windows 
the blood-drunk masses howled with excitement. 

From the windows of the castle at Amboise the little Bur- 
gundian Queen of France looked out upon the bright re- 
flections of the Loire, the wintry fields of Touraine. No 
rumor of revolt and cruelty penetrated to her. And though 
her entourage did learn the disturbing news that a future 
emperor was in the hands of those who should kneel before 
him in the dust, Margaret's peace was not in any way trou- 
bled. 

But to the Emperor Frederick, to the Empire, came reports 
that the recently elected King of the Romans was being held 
prisoner by the populace of Bruges, that his councilors were 
being tortured and murdered, even that his life was en- 
dangered. The Emperor himself moved up with an army 
to release his son, the Archbishop of Cologne threatened to 



12 The Pawn 

excommunicate the rebels, the entire apparatus of temporal 
and spiritual power was set in motion to persuade Bruges 
to let her precious prey go free. The people of Bruges had 
also to defend their prisoner against their co-rebels of Ghent, 
who demanded that Maximilian be turned over to them. 
They refused to deliver up the Regent, but they could not 
prevent Ghent's once more taking the leadership into its own 
hands. Ghent dictated the conditions of Maximilian's libera- 
tion, and just as Mary had done in 1477, her husband now 
did. While the German army was already approaching that 
should set him free, he accepted in mortal fear the demands 
of his subjects and betook himself, pale and thin after months 
of anxiety and humiliation, to the same spot where he had 
seen his councilors brought to their death, and where now, 
on a platform decorated with tapestries and greenery, an 
altar had been erected, a "triumphant siege pour le roy" set 
up. Maximilian granted forgiveness to the rebels, knelt down 
before the altar and swore to the pact, which included a 
restoration of Mary's Grand Privilege, robbed him of the 
regency over Flanders, and obligated him to remove his 
troops within four days from the province and within eight 
days from the other provinces. He paid 25,000 pounds Flem- 
ish as remuneration for the hirelings who would have to drive 
his soldiery out by force if they did not depart voluntarily* 
Philip of Cleves, lord of Ravestein, was to remain behind 
as a hostage in the hands of Ghent and to consider himself 
released from his obligations to Maximilian should the latter 
break his oath. . . . 

Eight days later the released prisoner reached the army 
of his father the Emperor. The tension, the mortal jeopardy 
of the last months were forgotten. Here were the lansque- 



Queen of France 7$ 

nets, the German knights, the Emperor himself, indignant 
over the humiliation to which the King of the Romans had 
been subjected. Here was the chance to take revenge upon 
the rebels who had so deeply offended him. For Maximilian 
the future was always more important, always more real than 
the past, sacred though the oath might be that he had sworn 
in that past. Possibilities interested him more than facts, il- 
lusions more than experience. As Regent of Burgundy he had 
sworn to this peace; as King of the Romans he was bound to 
obey the command of his Emperor to move against Ghent. 
And he solemnly declared to his hostage, Philip of Cleves, 
that this fight had nothing to do with the peace concluded 
at Bruges. 

Once again there was war in Flanders. Maximilian's hos- 
tage took upon himself the leadership of the people of Ghent 
and announced his readiness to fight for the young Archduke 
Philip against Maximilian, for the national House of Bur- 
gundy against the foreign House of Austria. All in the Low 
Countries who were averse to the centralizing authority of 
their sovereign lords joined with Philip of Cleves, who under 
the ironic cry of "Vive Bourgogne! "was determined to drive 
Maximilian the foreigner, with his German soldiers, off the 
scene. On the help of France, of Archduke Philip's brother- 
in-law, he could count. The German army, which had moved 
up in order to liberate a prisoner who meantime had bought 
his own release, had because of this lost much of its desire 
to fight. It got thoroughly bored before the walls of Ghent, 
petered out, slunk away. The Emperor himself returned to 
the Empire, Maximilian followed him three months later. 
He left behind his formidable field marshal, Albrecht of 
Saxony, to find a solution for the chaos in the Low Countries. 



74 The Pawn 

For new plans were occupying the King of the Romans, 
Arma gerant alii, tu,felix Austria, nube. . . . 

If battles brought no success Maximilian could always 
move along other roads to reach his goal, the humiliation of 
France. For while the struggle of revolting subjects against 
their ruler had been raging in Flanders, events had been tak- 
ing place in France that were to prove of international sig- 
nificance. The last independent French duke, Francis II of 
Brittany, had died without male issue and was succeeded by 
his daughter Anne, for whose hand Maximilian had already 
been suing. Here again was a hereditary princess waiting for 
a protector; again Maximilian felt himself called upon to 
hasten to the help of a young archduchess, an impressive 
dukedom. 

Anne of Brittany, aged thirteen, accepted him. But her 
bridegroom had not limited his plans to the peaceful con- 
quest of Brittany. When Anne had given her consent, he 
remained in the neighborhood of Vienna, involved in one of 
the endless wars that seemed to be indispensable to him, this 
time against the Hungarians. His union with the daughter 
and heiress of Brittany had to be carried out by proxy, just 
as had been the case with his marriage to Mary of Burgundy. 
Anne, too, he had never seen when, separated from him by 
the whole of Europe, she became his wife. He did not know 
her sad, distressingly ugly little face, her pathetic little figure, 
which, shy and slightly lame, one would have expected to 
meet in the sculleries of the ducal palace rather than on the 
ducal throne itself. But the Duchess of Brittany knew what 
she wanted. Immediately upon her unreal marriage she as- 
sumed the glorious tide of Reine des Remains Queen of the 



Queen of France 75 

Romans. And thought she had secured the safety of her 
country. 

But she had reckoned without that other Anne, the Regent 
and least foolish woman of France, Madame de Beaujeu, the 
true image in all things of her father "vray image en tout 
du bon roy Loys son pere" who knew only too well how 
the good Kong Louis would have acted under these circum- 
stances. Brittany must not be lost to the French crown. The 
House of Austria must not ensconce itself in one of the most 
important regions of France. There was but one way: to 
undo the marriage of Anne de Bretagne. There was but one 
new candidate for marriage: the young French king himself. 
And all this despite Charles's "marriage" with little Margaret, 
Mademoiselle de Flandre, despite Anne's "marriage" with 
Maximilian, Margaret's father. A remarkable "changez vos 
dames" had to take place, which could certainly not be 
realized without force. But Anne de Beaujeu knew what she 
had to do. 

A French army marched on the Breton country. Charles 
VIII himself took command of the military expedition. 

The preparations for this first campaign of her husband's 
could not escape the notice of "la petite Royne". Quick 
tongues did not fail to betray to her, this girl of eleven, what 
lay hidden behind the show of war that this time had come 
to disturb the quiet life at Amboise. And when the young 
King came to take his leave, Margaret confessed in tears 
what they had told her: that he was bound for Brittany to 
marry another woman "qu'il s'en aloit en Bretagne espouser 
une aultre f emme". 

Charles comforted her. His father had given him Margaret 



jt The Pawn 

to wife, said he, and as long as she lived he would take no 
other. He embraced and kissed her. Charles had a kind heart 
and he was fond of the little girl, upon whom he had now 
looked for so many years as his queen. When she besought 
him to take her with him to Brittany, since he had no inten- 
tion of marrying anyone else, he thought it a good plan. 
Margaret traveled with him to Montils-les-Tours. But 
Charles' advisers considered that under the circumstances 
this conjugal affection was going too far. Charles saw the 
point, that his personal inclination had nothing to do with 
the safety of France. . . . And the little Queen remained 
behind. 

Brittany was defenseless against the approaching troops, 
and Duchess Anne, Queen of the Romans, at the mercy of 
the French, was faced with a painful choice: to keep her 
duchy and marry Charles VIII, or else to follow her still 
unknown husband and leave Brittany for good. She would 
be able to keep the royal tide she had taken on with so much 
satisfaction. And "Reine de France" must have sounded more 
impressive than "Reine des Remains" in the ears of a French- 
woman, to whom the Romans were a very vague conception 
indeed and who could have no picture whatever in her mind 
of the German Empire that loomed behind Maximilian's title. 
Anne chose her duchy and the new title, so much more com- 
prehensible. Her marriage with Charles took place on the 
6th of December, 149 1 , three weeks after the last Breton city 
to protect her had fallen. 

This act robbed Maximilian of Austria of his wife, his 
daughter Margaret of her husband. The work of Louis XI 
was done. 



C'est pour james q'un regret me demeure 
Qui sans seser, nuit et jour, a tout eure, 
Tant me tourmante que bien voudroie mourir, 
Car ma vie n'est fors seullemant languir, 
Et sy faudra a la fin que 3 'an meure. 

De rinfortune pansoie estre bien seure 
Quan le regret maudit ou je demeure 
Me coury sus pour me fere mourir, 
Car ma vie n'est fors seullemant languir, 
Et sy faudra a la fin que 3 'an meure: 
C'est pour james. 



For ever there remains with me one longing-, 
Ceaselessly, day and night, at every hour, 
Tormenting me so I would gladly die, 
For my life is nothing but a pining, 
And in the end 1*11 have to die of it. 

I thought myself quite sure against misfortune 
When that accursed longing in which I dwell 
Overtook me, intent that I should die, 
For my life is nothing but a pining, 
And in the end 1*11 have to die of it: 
For ever. 



CHAPTER THREE 



Crown Princess of Spin 




TJORTUNE, INFORTUNE It was the first turn 

JL of the inexorable wheel, and it robbed Margaret of the 
crown of France and made her an outcast, she who for years 
had lived the privileged life of a queen. 

The child experienced her degradation as a whiplash, as 
a shame and a humiliation, against which her self-respect, 
cultivated in the surroundings of royalty, rose in bitterest 
revolt. For the first time the power of treachery and deceit 
invaded her consciousness, and it engraved upon her nature 
a motif of cynicism which, softened by the influence of time 
and of a beneficent humor, was to become one of her most 
attractive characteristics. 

She had for some time been feeling the approach of the 
changes that threatened her. Charles's good-natured assur- 
ance that since she was his wife he would marry no one else 
had, it is true, at first set her mind at rest. But when he had 
had to leave her behind and had set out toward Brittany, the 
same suspicion, caught by sharp childish ears from whispered 
conversations, returned again and again and quickly became 

79 



So The Pawn 

a certainty. The gay and untroubled entourage of the little. 
Queen had more to fear than she herself from a reversal in 
Charles's marriage policy. They had lived in the castle of 
Amboise as in a miniature garden of Eden, the ladies and 
gentlemen of Margaret's court, and now they could not hide 
their anxiety over a future that became increasingly uncer- 
tain as the rumbling artillery of Charles's army drew closer 
to the bastions of the Breton cities. It was these poorly de- 
fended walls that must protect them against the changes of 
fate. The tensions, the nervous forebodings of her courtiers 
communicated themselves to Margaret. They oppressed her 
in her sleep, and the story of one of her dreams has come 
down to us, which, though it belongs in the realm of anec- 
dote, bears the mark of authenticity. 

She found herself in the midst of a park, Margaret 
dreamed, and had been charged with watching over a little 
daisy that grew there. Suddenly there came a donkey "une 
asne" which tried in various ways to reach the flower in 
order to eat it up. Haunted by fear, Margaret sought to 
drive the creature away but she did not succeed. The 
flower was eaten. Margaret was so upset by this that she 
woke with a start, and all the following day felt herself op- 
pressed as by a heavy burden. Did Madame de Segre recog- 
nize in this dream of her young charge the symbolism for 
something she already knew with certainty: that "Anne" 
of Brittany would drive the little Flemish Margriet (daisy) 
out of the garden of France? 

When the definitive report reached through to Amboise, 
Margaret realized the full extent of the disaster that had 
befallen her. Everything familiar, everything she knew and 
loved, she must now leave. In tears she poured out her trou- 




Hojbibliothek, Vienna 



Mary of Burgundy. Miniature from the prayer book of her father, 
Charles the Bold, 




Gfmaldf Gakrlf, Vienn 



Emperor Maximilian I, by Albrecht Diirer. 



Crown Princess of Spain 81 

bles to her faithful governess. She did not want to go back 
to Flanders, "et avait regret au roy Charles". And Madame 
de Segre said wise words of comfort to this eleven-year-old 
girl, of the kind that when they are spoken are not believed: 
"Madame, vous ne devez ennuyer; vous estes fille d'un grant 
roy et soeur d'un grant prince; vous ne pouvez faillir d'estre 
une grant princesse; puisque vous n'avez peu avoir le Roy, 
vous en aurez ung aultre" she should not fret; daughter of 
a great king, sister of a great prince, she could not fail to be 
a great princess; since she could not have this king, she should 
have another. 

There seemed to be nothing more now to keep Margaret 
in France. But while Charles VIII had been glad enough to 
marry Anne of Brittany, who thus delivered over the last 
French duchy to the French crown, he was less inclined to 
part with the earldoms his first little wife had brought with 
her at their marriage. Under present circumstances Margaret 
could indeed no longer remain at the royal residence of 
Amboise, but neither could she leave France. Accompanied 
by Madame de Segre and a still royal suite, she moved to 
Melun to await the decision of her fate. What solution could 
Charles find for the problem of acquiring the new dowry 
without losing the old? Should he actually follow the advice 
of an old councilor of Louis XI, never to give back "fille ne 
fillette, ville ne villette"? Mademoiselle de Flandre was the 
prisoner of her own dowry. 

But new plans, new conquests were demanding the atten- 
tion of Charles, who yearned for knightly honors. Italy had 
called him, the eternal temptation of everyone who lived 
beyond the Alps. France had been consolidated, but the 
royal French crown would acquire greater glory if Charles' 



g2 The Pawn 

claims on Naples could be realized, which he had taken over, 
by singularly roundabout ways, from the House of Anjou. 
If the King wanted to go South with his army, then there 
must be peace in the North, peace with Maximilian, the 
robbed husband, the offended father, wfo>at various meet- 
ings of the Diet had been using his most convincing eloquence 
to persuade the imperial princes to an expedition of revenge 
against France. Theoretical support Maximilian found in 
plenty, in Burgundy as well as in the Empire. Legend had 
swiftly got hold of the events in France, and in the German 
Empire the rumor that Anne of Brittany, on her way to 
Maximilian, had been forcibly carried off by Charles VIII 
aroused particular indignation. The Pope, who had to grant 
dispensation for Charles's sudden marriage, also believed in 
the possibility of abduction; at any rate, he had the new 
Queen of France declare that her marriage had her own com- 
plete consent. 

Poets made propaganda for the scorned King of the Ro- 
mans. But Maximilian could not destroy French cities with 
their indignant verses. And the German arms were slow to 
set in motion for a cause that was of small importance to the 
Empire, They were not going to excite themselves over an 
insult that in fact had been addressed to the marital honor 
of the House of Habsburg and not to the imperial dignity. 
Only Maximilian's hereditary Austrian lands bore the ex- 
pense of some hired German and Swiss troops that actually 
occupied a few towns in the French Alps. 

The Italian adventure tempted Charles VIII with un- 
diminished force. The peace in the North was worth a few 
sacrifices to him. And thus in May, 1493, the Treaty of Senlis 
came into being, which meant the release of Mademoiselle 



Crown Princess of Spain 83 

de Flandre from her painful position in France. Her dowry, 
and even more, was given back to her father. Maximilian on 
his side was merely obliged to part with the title of "Duke 
of Brittany", which he had flourished since his paper mar- 
riage with Anne. 

Once again young Margaret journeyed through France as 
the symbol of peace concluded but now the carriages of 
her suite rolled toward the north. Though she had wept at 
first at having to leave France, the news that she could go 
was nevertheless a relief. After the harmonious years of 
Amboise, where she had been the center of royal honors and 
of warm affection, her sojourn at Melun had been a good 
deal like captivity. So great was the contrast that she sought 
the help of Anne de Beaujeu, who had received her in France 
and whom through the years she had called "Madame ma 
bonne tante". It is the first letter of Margaret's that has been 
preserved, short and clear, a touching expression of youthful 
determination. If one compares it with the vague and blurred 
epistles Maximilian used to write, Margaret in her twelfth 
year appears to have far surpassed her father in capacity for 
expression and in conciseness of style. King Charles now even 
wanted, she complained to Anne de Beaujeu, to rob her of 
a girl friend "qui est tout le passetemps que j'ay, et quand 
je 1'auray perdue, je ne scay plus que je ferais" "all the 
pastime I have, and when I have lost her I don't know what 
I shaU do". 

Did her cry of despair help? We do not know. Margaret 
must have had to console herself over the bitter moments, 
so numerous at this period of her life, which from time to 
time caused her to find acrid words of irony, as little child- 
like as the black velvet and brocade with which fifteenth- 



#4 The Pawn 

century fashion emphasized her royal dignity. It was upon 
her return journey to Flanders, on being offered a wine of 
honor that was sour in consequence of a bad harvest, that 
Margaret with ironic politeness toward her former subjects 
made a cutting play on words in which she compared the 
oath (serment) of the King to the grapevines (sarment), 
both of which had this year proved to be worthless. And 
when at her entry into Valenciennes, festive despite every- 
thing, the populace did not withhold its sympathy for the 
attractive blonde girl whom for years it had regarded as its 
queen, and greeted her joyfully with the selfsame cry of 
"Noel, Noel!" that had so often rung in her ears, then Mar- 
garet's rising bitterness found vent in the sharp comment, 
through which echoed the familiar pride of Burgundy: "Ne 
criez pas Noel, mais bien Vive Bourgogne!" 

Vive Bourgogne! Soon this cry that had come back to her 
in a moment of irony would rise to meet her in cities and 
towns. On the i2th of June, 1493, ten years after she had 
been solemnly handed over at Hesdin to the representatives 
of France, Mademoiselle de Flandre was delivered by a bril- 
liant French embassy of temporal and spiritual princes to the 
ambassadors of her father. In Cambrai she was awaited by 
her grandmother, Margaret of York, who saw the pale child 
whom the burghers of Ghent had led away ten years ago 
returning as a very well-brought-up, very elegant, witty 
young girl. The ten years during which she had looked upon 
the world from the throne of a queen of France had left their 
traces upon Margaret, and Madame la Grande rejoiced in 
the grace and sweetness, the dignity and the brave self- 
control with which her grandchild at parting with her faith- 



Crown Princess of Spain 8$ 

ful French courtiers handed them the presents she had 
chosen for them. 

Especially Madame de Segre, who had never left her side 
in all these years, had been magnificently remembered: she 
received a gold dinner service from Margaret's hands. But 
it gave her no joy, for she was taking leave of what had been 
her life's whole purpose during those ten years. Her grief 
melted the cool self-command with which Margaret had 
defended herself against the pain of this parting. And when 
the little Duchess, who had at first appeared so poised, gave 
free rein to her tears, the ladies of her train wept aloud, and 
also the gentlemen who had accompanied her, and the Bur- 
gundian nobles who had come to fetch her, and there were 
many tears shed on this side and on that "et furent plusieurs 
larmes plorees d'ung quartier et d'autre". 

When Margaret of York arrived on the 22nd of June, 
1493, at Malines with her newly returned grandchild, she 
was well aware that the coming back of her namesake to 
Flanders was no more than a preparation for another de- 
parture. As on the day of her birth, there was still expected 
of young Margaret "some strengthening alliance for the 
House", some marriage advantageous to the dynasty. 

This dynasty was now no longer primarily the House of 
Burgundy, for which Charles the Bold had fought in vain. 
It was now the House of Habsburg, headed by Maximilian, 
Emperor Maximilian I since the death of his father Frederick 
III, and its interests lay already at this period in very differ- 
ent parts of Europe. These "interests" were in large measure 
the butterfly imaginings of Maximilian's tireless brain, and 
he pursued them with his unquenchable energy, his irrational 



S6 The Pawn 

optimism. To be Duke of Brittany, or King of Hungary, 
Emperor of Byzantium, leader of the Holy War against the 
Turks all this appeared, alternately or simultaneously, 
upon his program. Giving himself no time for regret over 
whatever escaped him or for lengthy speculation upon the 
results of this mercurial butterfly chase, Maximilian wan- 
dered about through the Empire, through Europe, inconse- 
quent and charming, the despair of his councilors, the de- 
light of his subjects, the idol of his hunting friends, the 
laughingstock of perspicacious ambassadors like Machiavelli 
the Florentine, or Quirini the Venetian. 

In realizing his variable plans Maximilian followed two 
systems, one martial, the other peaceful: fight and let fight, 
marry and make marry. Because fighting was more expensive 
than marrying and he never commanded sufficient funds, 
he evolved a technique of alliances by marriage that was to 
make his dynasty into the most powerful royal house of 
Europe for hundreds of years. 

His two children, Philip and Margaret, were invaluable 
material for this purpose, and he used it with complete indif- 
ference to their personal happiness. Margaret particularly, 
with her excellent education, her French-trained intellect, 
her Northerner's common sense, was a precious pawn in 
the hands of her father the Emperor, to be played with care 
but also with spirit and imagination. 

In the beginning Maximilian had had only the Burgundian 
interests of his wife and of his children to defend, principally 
against the French king. But his election as King of the Ro- 
mans and the death of his father, Emperor Frederick, broke 
through this limitation. The throne of the Holy Roman Em- 
pire bestowed wider perspectives upon its occupant. Europe 



Cwwn Princess of Spain 8j 

unfolded under his gaze. And it was a Europe where new 
forces were busy making their way, where a new sense of 
life was awakening that expressed itself in faith and crea- 
tive urge, in prayer and preaching, in building and painting, 
in song and poetry, in travel and trade. From Granada to 
Copenhagen, from London to Rome, this old world was 
seething with a strange ferment. Everywhere a new youth 
broke through the impediments of a petrified past. Eastern 
and western oceans gave up their secrets, thanks to the 
marvel of the compass. Exciting treasures, gold, jewels, 
spices, burst upon an eager Europe, grown indifferent to the 
bliss and the threat of an all-too-often heralded hereafter, 
trembling with desire for the taste, the smell, the riches, and 
the temptations of an unfamiliarly beautiful today. Other 
and higher worlds were revealed thanks to the art of print- 
ing, which for the first time made accessible to the multitudes 
the conquests of the great in the provinces of the mind. A 
rejuvenated and flexible Latin created the crystal-clear at- 
mosphere in which mutual understanding could grow un- 
hampered by the confusion of national tongues. Europe 
traveled, Europe corresponded, awareness widened, differ- 
ences melted like mist in summer sun. European man stepped 
across the threshold of a new century as a creator of beauty, 
and armed with the achievements of his intellect he con- 
quered the obstacles that for centuries had prevented the ma- 
turing of his genius. It was a rebirth such as this old world 
had never seen, the freeing of human personality from the 
shackles of tradition, obedience, and rigidity. 

Amid all the magnificence and glory of the European 
Renaissance, however, amid the dazzling luster of art and 
culture, various fields of human activity remained shrouded 



88 The Pawn 

in darkness. It has never been given Western man to arrive 
at a completely harmonious unf olding of all his possibilities. 
At the end of the fifteenth century, when it seemed as 
though beauty blossomed wherever men's hands had la- 
bored, the political and social life of these creators and lovers 
of art remained in a state of brute barbarism. Power had al- 
ways been the warp and woof of any social canvas upon 
which cultures had worked the bright colors of their own 
characteristics. This power used to be held divine and at 
least in theory imbued with love. Divine power on earth 
rested in the hands of the Holy Father, and provided 
neither of the two was able to outshine the other he shared 
it with his worldly brother the Emperor. 

It had been this way for centuries, until beside these two, 
and overreaching them, new bearers of power worked their 
way upward, supported by newly rising social groups, by 
slowly forming territorial domains. In the fifteenth century 
the consolidation of the national kingdoms in Europe be- 
came a fact, and worldly power, armies, weapons, wealth, 
and authority slipped from the hands of Emperor and Pope 
to fall into those of the pugnacious and war-loving national 
princes, for whom power became the immediate and sole 
aim of life, power for themselves and for the dynasties they 
looked upon as the continuation of their own personalities. 
These robber-baron kings were to sacrifice everything 
the prosperity of their lands, the welfare and property of 
their subjects, the lives of their wives, their sisters, their 
daughters to their idee fixe. 

This was the Europe in which Maximilian despite every- 
thing one of the most human of these megalomaniacs was 
to realize his unbridled dynastic egoism. 



Crown Princess of Spain 89 

Margaret of York, herself bound to the triumphal car of 
the conquerors, had seen her foster-child and friend, Mary 
of Burgundy, a will-less pawn in their hands. Should Mary's 
daughter undergo the same fate? Already the difference in 
character between the gentle, somewhat indolent mother 
and the precocious child, returned from her French adven- 
ture hurt, indeed, but not broken, and ready now to meet 
any challenge, was making itself clear. Only externally was 
her fate separated from that of the French king. A deeper 
connection, not to be severed by human interference, held 
Margaret's future imprisoned in the spell of France. Her 
fate remained, as before, circumscribed by that of her 
former husband. It was Charles's chimerical crusade 
Rome, Naples, Constantinople, Jerusalem and his archaic 
chivalresque imagination that intervened in Margaret's exist- 
ence. 

Once before she had served to cement a peace with 
France. This time she was the obvious binder for the league 
that was to be formed against Charles, who had carried out 
his plan for an Italian campaign, and whose artillery, on 
New Year's Eve of 1494, caused the houses of Rome to 
quake and the hearts of the terrified Romans to trem- 
ble. 

Rome was but a stopping-place for Charles, whose ambi- 
tion reached toward the imperial crown of Byzantium and 
the conquest of Jerusalem. The Kingdom of Naples, ruled 
by princes of the House of Aragon, had first to be con- 
quered. Without striking a single blow the French marched 
into Naples. They imagined themselves in a paradise. Was it 
necessary to go farther? Charles presented himself with the 
titles of King of Sicily and King of Jerusalem, decorated 



$o The Pawn 

himself with imperial insignia, rejoiced in the charms of 
Naples and of the Neapolitan beauties. 

But in the North of Italy ambassadors of his recently paci- 
fied enemy, Maximilian, of his Italian friends who hated 
him, of Ferdinand the Catholic of Aragon, whose blood rela- 
tions had been driven out of Naples, had met together with 
legates of the Pope. The League of Venice became a trap 
for the French king, and it became furthermore the basis of 
a collaboration between Ferdinand of Aragon a&d Emperor 
Maximilian that was to be of the greatest possible signifi- 
cance for the fate of Europe. 

Not only of Europe. For the fate of the children of the 
two united rulers also, Juan and Juana of Aragon and Cas- 
tile, Margaret and Philip of Austria-Burgundy, who were to 
provide living seals to this alliance. 

Margaret's brother, Philip the Handsome, had been dis- 
charged from the guardianship of his father in September, 
1494, and had begun his career as an independent Burgun- 
dian prince under omens that augured much good for the 
Low Countries. For years the restless Maximilian had not 
troubled himself about the education of his son, and the Bur- 
gundian lords who had been his tutors had pretty well failed 
to take account of the fact that someday Philip, in addition 
to the Low Countries, would also have to govern the heredi- 
tary Austrian lands. They had made a "Netherlandish" 
prince of him, and so thoroughly that they had not even 
had him learn the language of his father, of his Austrian 
possessions. Philip the Handsome was popular from the mo- 
ment when, as the "natural ruler" of Burgundy, he held his 
joyous entries into the capital cities of his provinces. In the 
eyes of his subjects he had every advantage over Maximilian, 



Crown Princess of Spain 91 

the foreigner, whose wars abroad for foreign interests had 
sucked the Netherlands money-tills dry. And under the in- 
fluence of his Burgundian councilors the young Archduke 
accentuated the difference between his own policy and that 
of his father, the Emperor, so strongly that for the sake of 
peace with France he even maintained good relations with 
his former brother-in-law, Charles VIII, against whom 
Maximilian was busy forging the League of Venice. 

In these circumstances marriage between Philip and Juana 
of Aragon and Castile on the one hand, of Margaret with 
the Spanish crown prince on the other, was a brilliant stroke 
on the part of Maximilian, who in this way tried to curb the 
pro-French policy of his all-too-Netherlandish son. And 
both son and daughter obeyed the head of their House. 

The wheel of Margaret's fortune turned anew. After 
France, Spain. A foreign land that bore the mark of that 
mysterious continent, Africa. Another world to the Bur- 
gundian princess accustomed to the moderation of the Neth- 
erlands, the harmony of Touraine. Burning under a Moorish 
sky in summer, assailed by biting snowstorms in winter, a 
country in which the nobility had been but lately tamed 
under the royal couple, Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella 
of Castile, Spain in these years was being swept by the fire 
of Torquemada's Inquisition. After their marriage had 
welded the two kingdoms, the Catholic sovereigns under- 
took to clear the Iberian peninsula of all who did not be- 
lieve in the one God, whose hallowed instruments they con- 
sidered themselves to be. In order that Spain should become 
a single kingdom, ruled by a single ruling house, kneeling at 
a single altar. With this intent, Ferdinand and Isabella had 
turned their homeland into a battlefield, a prison, a smoking 



$2 The Pawn 

funeral pyre. This was the country where Philip the Hand- 
some had found a bride, and where Margaret's bridegroom 
was someday to possess the crown of Aragon and Castile. 

The Spanish Infanta, Juana, was the first to undertake 
the journey to her bridegroom. A fleet of not less than one 
hundred and thirty ships was considered necessary to bear 
the young princess safely along the inimical French coast. 
A brilliant retinue surrounded her when she took leave of 
her mother, Queen Isabella, in the harbor of Laredo. Her 
trip to Flanders was full of adventure. Several of her ships 
foundered in the autumn storms that howled across the 
Channel. But the princess reached her destination unscathed, 
to fall a victim instead to the languishing charms of the 
handsome Philip. 

The same fleet that had brought Juana was to carry Phil- 
ip's sister to her new country. It was well understood that 
many dangers would threaten her upon her voyage: tem- 
pests and hurricanes and the risk of having to land on French 
territory, of falling into the hands of the enemies of Austria 
and Spain. But since it was known by experience how slight 
was the likelihood that the Church would uphold a marriage 
it had sanctified if it were not reinforced in a very human 
manner by the lovers themselves Maximilian's marriage 
with Anne of Brittany still lay fresh in the memory it 
seemed best nevertheless to let Margaret, as Princess of Cas- 
tile, undertake her hazardous journey. A marriage ceremony 
was staged, and Maximilian honored his daughter, if not 
with his imperial presence, yet with many gifts. He sent her 
cloth of gold for her bridal dress and had her brother Philip 
present her with the two rings that Maximilian had given 
at his own wedding to Margaret's mother, his beloved Mary. 



Crown Princess of Spain $3 

At Malines on the 5th of November, 1496, the Arch- 
duchess of Austria, within a few months of her seventeenth 
birthday, married her unknown Prince of the Asturias, who 
was represented by the Spanish emissary, Francisco de Ro jas. 
On this dark winter's day the interior of the church of St. 
Peter shone with the light of a thousand candles as Margaret, 
radiant herself in her golden bridal gown and with a golden 
crown upon her red-gold hair, knelt before the altar. Her 
appearance did honor to her new royal title. Her new sister- 
in-law, Juana, made but a dull impression beside all this 
luster. It was whispered that in her first ecstasy over her 
husband she had already been broken by severe disillusion- 
ment. 

Margaret's Spanish journey was to be full of tribulation. 
After her marriage all preparations for the voyage had been 
made, but the weather remained ominously bad and the 
Spanish admiral who bore the responsibility for the venture 
did not dare to leave the safe harbor of Flushing. At last, on 
the 2znd of January, 1497, th e splendid company embarked. 
Archduke Philip himself escorted his sister on board, after 
spending a few days with her in the Abbey of Middelburg. 

Scarcely had the fleet sailed out of the harbor when the 
storm that had been roaring up the Channel for weeks broke 
loose afresh, and the fragile vessels barely made the refuge 
of Southampton harbor. Three weeks they waited there for 
better weather, but when they set sail again despite a strong 
wind, the flagship bearing Margaret and her Burgundian es- 
cort collided with one of the other galleons. The princess 
was put into a small rowboat which, battered anew by the 
southwester, managed to take her back to Southampton. 

A week later they tried again. The flagship took off first. 



$4 The Pawn 

It became separated from the rest of the fleet, lolled about 
in a calm for a few days in the Bay of Biscay, and was then 
attacked once more by a gale, even worse than those that 
had been raging in the Channel. For days the Spanish seamen 
fought for the life of their crown princess. No one on board 
but had taken leave of his own life. 

Even Margaret. And in the midst of her sick, desperately 
wailing ladies in waiting, she was able to summarize her own 
short existence as a princess with refreshing mockery in a 
two-line epitaph, which, it was said, she had someone bind 
to her hand, together with a purse of gold pieces for a royal 
burial: 

Cy-gist Margot, la gentiP damoiselle 
Qu'ha deux marys et encore est pucelle. 

(Here lies Margot, the gentle maiden 
Who had two husbands and is virgin still) 

Not an epitaph alone, these words, but an avowal as well 
of an attitude that briefly outlines a personality. Among 
the primitively egocentric utterances of her fellow-rulers, 
"Margot" in the storms of Biscay reveals an ironical self- 
criticism, a humorous sense of proportion, that are the more 
surprising in a seventeen-year-old girl who could have 
known only the norms of princely pride. She was already 
more than Archduchess of Austria, Princess of the Asturias, 
Queen of Granada and Leon; she was a woman who in the 
face of death dared to express with a smile her belief in the 
relativity of all values. 

Her ship was washed ashore at Santander, where no one 
expected her. Messengers hurried inland to announce the 
news of the arrival of the Princess, while Margaret with her 



Crown Princess of Spain 95 

bruised and battered suite restored themselves to their official 
dignity. 

After a few days she was welcomed by a procession of 
nobles, who had sent a caravan of mules in advance laden 
with tapestries and vessels of gold for her comfort. They 
then journeyed inland with their new mistress, and, six miles 
from Santander, Margaret at last encountered her young 
husband, who had come by rapid day stages with his father, 
King Ferdinand, to meet her. 

Beside his robust and warlike father, the Prince of the 
Asturias seemed no more than a slender boy. He was nine- 
teen, and his pale, narrow face with its dark-ringed, some- 
what melancholy eyes was that of a young student rather 
than of a man of action. The too rapid journey on horse- 
back had greatly fatigued him, and the solemnity of the mo- 
ment evidently weighed upon him. Don Juan, fond of belles 
lettres and with a passion for music, was not happy at offi- 
cial receptions of this sort, least of all when he himself, in- 
stead of his royal parents, had to be the center of interest. 
With a still, set face he had watched the approach of the 
escort that was bringing him his life-companion. 

He knew she was fair-haired and fair-skinned, but the 
immobile features of the court portrait that had been sent 
him could have given him no impression of the charm, the 
easy and natural manner Margaret always showed at a first 
meeting, and which fitted so little into the trammels of 
Spanish court etiquette that had smothered Juan's own 
spontaneity. Margaret did indeed follow closely the pre- 
scriptions of the protocol: she kissed the hand of King Fer- 
dinand, though he politely sought to prevent her, and in 
this manner she also greeted her husband. But when clarions 



yg The ?a<wn 

and trumpets, tubas and horns thereupon let forth a blar- 
ing fanfare so loud and high that "one could not have heard 
the Lord thunder" "tant extreme et fort haulte que Ton 
n'eusist peut oyr Dieu tonner" she forsook her role of 
Spanish princess, unable to conceal her consternation at the 
sudden deafening noise. A smile crossed Juan's pale face, 
which Margaret answered with radiant frankness. Sinning 
against etiquette, she stole the heart of her husband, taught 
to consider etiquette more important than life itself. 

The patriarch who had accompanied King Ferdinand and 
Don Juan now gave the young couple his blessing. The 
journey to Burgos was continued on horseback. Margaret, 
gracefully at ease upon her ambling palfrey, rode between 
the King and the Prince, stared at by fanners and burghers 
who had come to applaud and to admire their new crown 
princess from the North. Never had they seen their king 
so gracious and so charming as in the company of his lively 
daughter-in*law. Ferdinand, who saw to it that Queen Isa- 
bella bearer of a royal crown in her own right, who un- 
hesitatingly donned a coat of mail and mounted a charger 
when her troops needed exhortation should in his presence 
ride a mule as more suitable to her inferior position of spouse, 
astonished courtiers and lackeys by himself assisting the 
Princess of the Asturias to dismount when she arrived at 
Burgos. 

Much else happened on that day. All the southern Moor- 
ish splendor Spain could flaunt, the glory of her church 
treasures and holy relics, the enchantment of her palaces, 
the elegance and luxury of her court attire, all passed be- 
fore the eyes of Margaret and her suite like scenes from the 
Arabian Nights. Together with the King she visited the 



Crovm Princess of Spain $7 

cathedral. Under a costly baldaquin, which the Governors 
of the city themselves held over their heads, they then pro- 
ceeded to the city hall, all hung with gold-brocaded hang- 
ings and noble tapestries. There at last Margaret met the 
woman who had contributed even more than Ferdinand to 
the building of Spain's power: Isabella the Catholic, Queen 
of Castile and Aragon. 

Ninety ladies in waiting, all in cloth of gold, surrounded 
the great queen as Margaret, graceful and distinguished in 
her toilette of French cut, entered the reception hall. She 
sank upon her knees before her mother-in-law and kissed 
her hands. Her attendant ladies also kissed hands, and there- 
after the new Crown Princess herself had to submit to this 
formal greeting, ninety times extending her hand to a hum- 
bly kneeling figure, ninety times feeling the touch of re- 
spectful lips. 

Next day was Easter. The royal family withdrew to the 
convent of the Holy Trinity, and it was on this quiet Sun- 
day, amid the murmurs of the cloister's plashing fountains, 
that Don Juan's last reserves melted under the warm laugh- 
ter of his foreign bride. Margaret, accustomed as she was to 
the sans-gene of the Burgundian courtiers, the freedom of 
her Flemish ladies in waiting, was both surprised and 
touched by the embarrassed and retiring manner of the 
young Prince, whom she had looked upon as her husband 
ever since their first meeting. Had she not been united to 
him by God before the altar of St. Peter's in Malines even 
if it had not been his slim young person that knelt beside 
her there, but the hardly attractive Francisco de Rojas? Did 
Juan really need to keep such a distance? She was too ab- 
sorbed in the joy it gave her to look at him to be offended 



9 S The Pawn 

by his ceremonious bearing, his prudery, at which she could 
only laugh. 

On that first Sunday, in her excitement over the unex- 
pected happiness she felt approaching, she forgot all the les- 
sons in Castilian court etiquette that she had been taught. 
She called upon the help of her mother-in-law, who would 
certainly have more understanding of what was a young 
bride's due. 

The Queen whose adaptable genius enabled her to be 
whatever the hour demanded, so that she became diploma- 
tist or mother, field marshal, economist or humble spouse, 
all according to circumstances surrendered completely, 
during these hours in the convent garden of the Holy Trin- 
ity, to the happiness she saw awakening for her son. She rec- 
ognized without hesitation in Margaret's natural, childlike 
openheartedness, in her joy of living above all, the qualities 
she had wished for in the wife of the serious, easily dejected 
Juan. In this Flemish daughter-in-law Isabella found an ally 
whom she was to support with all her influence as both 
mother and absolute monarch. The small company that had 
the privilege of sharing in the Easter celebration of the royal 
family was disturbed by the candor with which the new 
Crown Princess behaved like a gay friend of her Catholic 
Majesty, neglecting the family ceremoniousness with which 
the royal princesses always bore themselves so respectfully 
toward their mother. 

Before the two women, his mother and his bride, Juan's 
shy reserve gave way. The lively blond girl from the North, 
with her flashing intelligence and her French wit, brought 
about what no Spanish beauty had been able to achieve. 
Juan fell in love. 



Crown Princess of Spain $$ 

Margaret's victory was as complete as it was sudden. That 
Easter Sunday in the Holy Trinity, filled with the sound 
of the convent bells and the playing of the many fountains, 
was to remain with her throughout her life of cares and re- 
sponsibilities as a beginning so full of promises that no ful- 
fillment would ever exceed its expectations. 

On the Monday, at eight in the morning, in the intimacy 
of the convent chapel, the marriage of the young royal 
couple received the blessing of the church in all privacy, 
even in secrecy. Isabella's wisdom granted them a week of 
undisturbed happiness in the seclusion of Santa Trinidad 
before the tumult of the public wedding festivities should 
overwhelm the early shyness of their love. For after 
the Archbishop of Toledo had performed the official mar- 
riage ceremony in the cathedral of Burgos on the third 
of April, the young couple was swept along in such a 
maelstrom of celebrations, joyous entries, tournaments, 
bullfights, and banquets, that the single week they had 
been able to spend together paled to a shadow of recollec- 
tion. 

Margaret's invincible resilience withstood these weeks of 
festivity and happiness. Beside the frail figure of Don Juan 
she sparkled, tireless, in the legendary jewels Queen Isa- 
bella had pawned during the war against Granada and re- 
deemed as a wedding gift to the bride of her only son. Mar- 
garet was joyfully hailed as the first woman to be queen 
over a united Spain, freed from the blemish of unbelief and 
heresy, a Spain to which the fabulous realms of the "In- 
dians" discovered by Columbus were to offer uncounted 
treasures in tribute. The whole peninsula was jubilant over 
the princely couple, and Juan's elegant wife was continually 



200 The Pawn 

the center of all courtly ceremony, the magnetic focus of 
all admiration. 

But what could scarcely affect Margaret's fair freshness 
seemed too much for Don Juan's frail constitution, accus- 
tomed to a careful equilibrium both physical and mental. 
The endless journeys on horseback, the receptions that com- 
pelled him to listen for hours to imposing speeches of princes 
of the church and pompous magistrates, the banquets that 
made no allowance for the very abstemious way of life 
necessary to his health all this deepened the dark circles 
under his melancholy eyes and bowed his too slight figure 
in a posture of complete exhaustion. Blinded by the festivi- 
ties, the honors, the pomp that surrounded her anew each 
day, carried away by her own feeling, to which Juan re- 
sponded with all the recklessness of a first, a finally discov- 
ered passion, Margaret was too young, too egoistic, and 
above all too strong to comprehend what danger threatened 
her happiness. A few months after his marriage his physi- 
cians had become alarmed at the overf atigued condition of 
the Prince of the Asturias. They had called in the help of 
Queen Isabella, had begged her to separate the all too irresist- 
ible Crown Princess from her husband for a while. But the 
Queen refused to interfere between those whom, according 
to her honest conviction, God had united. 

She had gone with King Ferdinand to Alcantara on the 
Portuguese border to celebrate the marriage of their daugh- 
ter, the Infanta Isabella, with the King of Portugal, when 
the news reached her that her son, amid the festivities of 
his entry into Salamanca, had been attacked by fever and 
lay in danger of his life. Ferdinand left the same day, scarcely 
resting till he had reached Salamanca. He found Juan dying, 



Croivn Princess of Spain 101 

quite prepared for the end, full of a calm wisdom, a noble 
resignation. He recovered for a moment his happy smile of 
the last months, when he told his father that the Crown 
Princess was expecting a child was perhaps to present an 
heir to the throne of united Spain. On October 4th, 1497, 
five months after his marriage and at the age of nineteen, he 
died. 

Queen Isabella listened to the news of Don Juan's death 
with majestic self-command. Tall and erect amid her horri- 
fied ladies in waiting, her clear blue eyes fixed upon the tear- 
stained face of the messenger, she stood motionless before 
his sobs. "The Lord has given, the Lord has taken away, 
blessed be the name of the Lord", she whispered. 

Consternation was indescribable throughout the land that 
had hailed the happy young royal couple. The whole popu- 
lation went into mourning for the Prince, from whom a 
reign of goodness and wisdom had been expected. The 
brothers of all the guilds in Aragon and Castile laid down 
their work for forty days. Rich and poor went about in 
black, the mules of important citizens wore mourning 
saddle-cloths that swept the ground. Black banners waved 
from all the city gates. 

And Margaret? Her life seemed ended. She laid aside her 
gowns of gold brocade, in which Juan had loved best to 
see her, and donned a mourning dress of sackcloth. Her 
health gave way under the double strain of her grief and the 
pregnancy that now seemed to be her only reason for exist- 
ence. It was always possible that she, the widow of one 
crown prince, might become the mother of another. 

But the premature birth of a daughter, who died shortly 



102 <The Pawn 

after, broke the last threads that had still bound her to Don 
Juan, to Spain. Isabella's motherly affection could not con- 
ceal the fact that Margaret, though Crown Princess Dowa- 
ger and very popular with the Spanish people, had never- 
theless become a foreigner. And she felt this the more deeply 
when new sorrow struck the King and Queen through the 
death of the Infanta Isabella, the Queen of Portugal, who 
had been heir to the Spanish crown since the death of Juan. 
Her son Miguel, Crown Prince of Portugal, whose birth had 
cost her her life, was recognized by Aragon and Castile as 
heir to the throne. But the little prince had been born under 
the disastrous constellation that now governed the life of 
Spain. He died when barely two. And the crowns of Aragon 
and Castile, of Granada and Leon, still worn by the two 
builders of Spain, Ferdinand and Isabella, the Catholic mon- 
archs, became the heritage of a tragic young woman, the 
Infanta Juana, "the Mad", whose life had but a single con- 
tent: to let herself be ruled by her passion for that frivolous, 
inconstant, and irresistible husband, Philip the Handsome. 

Thus Margaret's fate, which now seemed to be defini- 
tively separated from Spain, was once more to be drawn 
back into the orbit of Spanish history. For Juana, her sister- 
in-law, was soon to give birth to the prince who would be 
Archduke of Austria, Duke of Burgundy, King of Spain, 
and finally also Emperor of Germany: Charles V, whose 
rise to this last dignity was to be the work of his aunt, Mar- 
garet, the former Crown Princess of Spam. Thus were 
France and Spain, the two facets of Margaret's lost royalty, 
to continue coloring her life with their changing reflections. 

Margaret's Spanish role was done for the moment. Yet 
she remained for two years more in the entourage of her 



Crown Princess of Spain 103 

mother-in-law, perhaps of her own free will, perhaps too 
because Ferdinand was glad to have in his hands a weapon 
against his ally Emperor Maximilian, and particularly against 
his son-in-law, Duke Philip the Handsome, who after the 
death of the Infanta Isabella had appropriated the tide of 
Prince of Castile and whose influence on his daughter Juana 
Ferdinand not unjustly feared. 

At last, in September, 1499, the Crown Princess Dowa- 
ger took leave of Granada and the Spanish court, to return 
to the Low Countries robbed this time not alone of an 
ambition and an illusion, but of a love as weU, and of the 
only child she was ever to bear. 



Espoir j'ay ey partant de mon enffance, 
Et tousjours ay et veulx avoir espoir 
La ou 1'ay mis, car vous debves scavoir, 
Que tout mon bien il gist et mon avance. 

Pour la source et bonne redevance 
De tout malleurs que je pourroye avoir 
Espoir j'ay eu. 

Tout tant que j'ay, sans point de def alliance, 
De la me vient, non pas de mon pouvoir; 
Si peult Ton bien, par mes ditz, parcevoir 
Que contre tous maleurs pour resistance 
Espoir j'ay eu. 



I have had hope ever since my childhood, 
And have it still and want to have it there 
Where I have laid it, for you should know that all 
My welfare lies in it and my advantage. 

As source and for good revenue 
From all unhappiness that might befall me 
I have had hope. 

WTiatever I have, and with no failing ever, 
Comes to me thence, and not from my power; 
Thus, by my words, one may indeed perceive 
That against all misfortune for resistance 
I have had hope. 



CHAPTER FOUR 



Dudicss of Savoy 




r T 1 HROUGH Spain, where the people had acclaimed her 
JL as Crown Princess, through France, where once she had 
been hailed as Queen, the Princess Dowager of Castile jour- 
neyed back to the land of her birth. She had been permitted 
to take with her the gifts that Ferdinand and Isabella had 
showered upon her at her wedding. A train of heavily laden 
mules followed her on her tragic way through Spain. Price- 
less jewels, golden vessels, Moorish carpets and gold-inter- 
woven tapestries, paintings and precious manuscripts made 
up her baggage. But Ferdinand had not wished to take the 
expenses of her journey upon himself and Margaret saw 
herself obliged to borrow money from Spanish merchants 
in order to reach the French border. 

At Bayonne she was awaited by a magnificent Burgundian 
escort sent by her brother Philip. Familiar and trusted faces 
beamed upon her. With warm gratitude Margaret greeted 
Madame de Commines, her mother's former governess, who 
had been present at her birth and after her return from 
France had acted as her Mistress of the Robes. 

105 



106 The fawn 

The company moved northward by slow day stages. That 
Margaret this time traveled overland was the consequence 
of far-reaching shifts in European relations that had taken 
place during her sojourn in Spain. Not only there had death 
demanded its toll and played with crowns. Charles VIII of 
France, once Margaret's husband, had suddenly died in 
April, 1498. His marriage with Anne of Brittany had 
brought him neither happiness nor descendants. His suc- 
cessor, the Duke of Orleans, who called himself Louis XII, 
understood that he had better not neglect the wife of his 
predecessor if the French crown was not to lose anew the 
dukedom of Brittany. What more plausible than a marriage 
with the Queen Dowager? Anne, who still knew very well 
what she wanted, saw her opportunity. She accepted Louis' 
proposal, but under the provision that she alone should rule 
over Brittany and control the giving of all offices. Had the 
new Queen, as evil tongues alleged, actually been the new 
King's mistress when he was Duke of Orleans? The serious 
and homely Anne remained Queen of France and carried 
on her needlework. She knew more than the scandalmongers 
of the European courts. She worked at her embroidery and 
held her peace. And thought, perhaps, with some wistfulness 
of her romantic bridegroom Maximilian, whom fate had 
withheld from her. 

He liked the Tyrol best, the hunter Maximilian. But the 
death of Charles VIII, who had once so grievously injured 
him, gave him the idea of more lasting prey than the chamois 
he was wont to pursue among the mountains. Had he not 
once called himself Duke of Brittany, when he thought 
Anne was to be his wife? Could he not derive some right to 
the duchy from that fact? But this butterfly of his imagina- 



Duchess of Savoy 707 

tion was too unreal even for Maximilian. He followed it for 
a while, but at the same time began to see still another pos- 
sibility. Why not lay claim to the Duchy of Burgundy, his 
first wife's old inheritance which, being a male fief, had 
passed into French hands upon the death of Charles the 
Bold? 

No wonder Louis XII did not even trouble to react to this 
absurd demand. But Maximilian, as of old, did not stop at 
demands if he thought himself in a position to take some- 
thing. He sent troops into France, who could achieve noth- 
ing, however, since the French remained calmly inside their 
walled towns and gave no battle. Maximilian had hoped that 
his son Philip the Handsome would find the conquest of 
Burgundy, from which he borrowed his ducal tide, an un- 
dertaking that deserved his sympathy and support. But he 
had reckoned without the Netherlandish influences at work 
upon the young prince. The Low Countries, most consis- 
tently, wanted peace with France, and a sudden attack to 
restore a loss that had hardly been noticed at the time made 
no appeal to them. On the contrary, Philip was already in 
negotiation with the new French king, and Maximilian was 
finally obliged to let himself be dissuaded from any aggres- 
sive step. For how, without becoming ridiculous, could he 
continue to stand up for Philip's rights when Philip himself 
had affirmed to Louis that so long as they both lived he 
would raise no claims to the dukedom of Burgundy? The 
powers with which he was allied Spain, England, and the 
Pope which could have helped him with his plan for a Bur- 
gundian war, left him in the lurch and signed a treaty with 
Louis XII. Venice as well let itself be roped in by Louis. So 
the Emperor remained alone in his hatred against France, 



io8 The Pawn 

and he could not prevent his daughter from choosing to 
make her way home from Spain across that country, where, 
both as former Queen and as sister of Philip the Handsome, 
she received a sympathetic welcome. 

Margaret's wearisome journey, which lasted from the 
end of September, 1499, till the beginning of March, 1500, 
was not yet at an end when she received the good news that 
her sister-in-law Juana had given birth to a son. She hastened 
her progress, arrived at Ghent on the 4th of March, and 
three days later functioned as godmother at the christening 
of the little prince, named Charles after the last Duke of 
Burgundy. 

All of Ghent turned out for the stupendous celebration. 
So that the populace should be able to enjoy as much of 
the spectacle as possible, a continuous wooden platform, 
spanned by thrice thirteen triumphal arches, decorated with 
armorial shields and ten thousand flambeaux, had been 
erected from the ducal palace to the church of St. John. 
Along this flame-lit way, between the houses that glowed 
to their very roofs in the warm reflection from the hun- 
dreds of moving lights, the christening procession wound 
toward the church. Hundreds of high dignitaries, Knights 
of the Golden Fleece, members of the law courts, deans of 
the guilds, all with torches in their hands, passed by, fol- 
lowed by a few high nobles bearing the christening vessels. 
The enthusiasm of the multitude rose to its highest pitch 
as the widow of Charles the Bold, Madame la Grande, Mar- 
garet of York who had also borne the father of the present 
child to the baptismal font appeared with the little prince 
in her arms. Beside her walked the Princess Dowager of 
Castile in deep mourning. But the people scarcely heeded 



Duchess of Savoy 10$ 

her, for after her came Seigneur Jehan de Luxembourg 
carrying upon his arm Princess Alienor, sister of the new 
Prince Charles, who had never been seen in Ghent before. 
The sight of that little face, staring in wonder at the waver- 
ing lights, drove the crowd into transports of joy. 

Never before had the city of Ghent, so accustomed to 
festivity, seen such a spectacle, and till early morning the 
people milled through the streets, scrambling after silver 
cobs strewn by rich burghers from their decorated dwell- 
ings and gazing at the lights, the velvet-draped houses, the 
suspension bridge all hung with lanterns and torches that 
connected the Belf ort with the tops of the spires of St. Nico- 
las. 

Margaret remained for a few weeks in the circle of her 
relatives, sharing their joy over the new heir to the throne 
and their concern about his mother Juana, who was showing 
ever more signs of what was later to be called her mental 
derangement. She lived in silent seclusion, no longer seek- 
ing consolation even in an exchange of letters with her par- 
ents. Even Margaret's arrival bringing news from Spain 
could not break through the sullen lethargy in which her 
spirit had sought refuge from who knew what torments? 
Margaret, full of good will toward her apparently deeply 
unhappy sister-in-law, was unable to penetrate Juana's ab- 
normal aloofness. 

Was it Juana's wish that Margaret should not stay long at 
the court of Ghent? Or did Duke Philip prefer to isolate 
his lively and intelligent sister somewhat from Burgundian 
political circles? He hastened in any case to have the Chateau 
of le Quesnoy, south of Valenciennes, at a safe distance from 



770 The Fawn 

Flanders, made ready for her. He spared no expense to pro- 
vide his sister with a residence to which she might retire in 
all dignity with the shades of her two royal crowns. The 
castle lay in the midst of a vast park, where Charles the Bold 
had attempted to keep camels and dromedaries. Philip sup- 
plied a less exotic menagerie: stags and fleet-footed deer 
were introduced, whose graceful silhouettes were to de- 
light the Princess of Castile on her morning walks. 

Margaret still bore this title, as she still wore her mourning 
and her grief for the young lover who had been her husband. 
But she knew that her father and her brother were busy 
once more preparing a new move that should shortly dis- 
place her into a fresh field of the European chess tourna- 
ment. While she was still staying at the Spanish court the 
first rumors of a prospective marriage for the Emperor's 
daughter had already raised their heads in diplomatic dis- 
patches. Louis XII had been mentioned, who had just ar- 
ranged to divorce his wife, Jeanne of France. Louis, how- 
ever, had rejected his consort not for the sake of the fair 
Margot, his playmate in the days of Amboise, but for that 
of the dukedom of Brittany, which the Queen Dowager 
Anne kept in her workbasket. 

Other candidates for Margaret's hand had also been 
named: first, Lodovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, surnamed il 
Moro, a faithful ally of Maximilian. Margaret was still on 
her way through France to Flanders when the Spanish am- 
bassador in London informed her father-in-law, King Ferdi- 
nand, that the King of Scotland appeared to have plans for 
a marriage with the Princess of Castile. And a few months 
later the same diplomat named Arthur, Prince of Wales* 
who was engaged to Margaret's sister-in-law, the Infanta 



Duchess of Savoy in 

Catherine of Spain, This report decided Ferdinand to send 
Catherine to England as soon as possible, to forestall Prince 
Arthur's entering with another woman into the "unbreak- 
able marriage" to which he had solemnly bound himself. 

These must have been exciting years for the scheming 
Maximilian, these years in which he could once again dis- 
pose of his daughter's hand. Was it perhaps more advan- 
tageous to marry her off to Vladislav, King of Hungary? 
The proposal to this monarch was akeady on its way. And 
meanwhile Margaret, powerless to take her fate into her 
own hands, wandered like a prisoner among the deer of le 
Quesnoy and awaited which was to be her lot: Scotland or 
England or Hungary? 

While Maximilian hesitated between countless possibili- 
ties, Philip the Handsome settled the matter. Now that his 
wife had become the only heir to Spain, he wished to go 
to that country as soon as possible to have himself recog- 
nized as the prospective ruler of Castile and Aragon. To 
this end peace with France was essential. Untroubled by 
the continuously anti-French policy of his father, Philip 
was able to set the seal upon such a peace by the betrothal 
of his small son Charles to the recently born daughter of 
Louis XII and Anne of Brittany, Claude de France, And 
for his sister Margaret the diplomatic Philip made a choice 
with which both Louis of France and the Emperor Maxi- 
milian could agree: the young Duke Philibert of Savoy. 

Whether Margaret also showed satisfaction with this ar- 
rangement may be doubted. For when Philip the Handsome 
presented her with a document to sign in which she was to 
declare that no form of pressure had been used upon her, 
Margaret refused to set her name to it. By this action she 



z/,2 The fawn 

showed herself to be no longer the totally will-less pawn of 
whom ambition and arrogance could dispose at pleasure. But 
she still lacked the courage to oppose this new marriage 
which Philip for his own selfish political reasons forced 
upon her. 

The Dukedom of Savoy, whither Margaret now saw her- 
self bound, stretched in a wealth of varied climate and land- 
scape from Macon in the wine-clad fields of Burgundy, 
along the borders of France and Provence, to Nice on the 
Mediterranean. It was bounded on the east by the Swiss con- 
federacy and the dukedom of Milan, and its situation gave 
it the greatest strategic importance, especially at the time 
when a much-divided Italy exercised an irresistible attrac- 
tion upon the robber-barons north of the Alps. Not only 
Louis XII of France but the Emperor Maximilian as well 
was bound to appreciate the need of living at peace with this 
important buffer state, which could close off the approach 
to the Italy they coveted. 

The ducal House of Savoy had for more than half a cen- 
tury been under predominantly French influence. The 
young Duke who was to become Margaret's third husband 
enjoyed an annuity from the French king, and his sister 
Louise of Savoy, married to Charles of Valois, earl of An- 
gouleme, was later to see her son ascend the throne of France 
as Francis I. 

This was the country and the ruling house that Philip of 
Burgundy had picked out for his sister. And Philibert, the 
Duke? 

He was some months younger than Margaret, and carried 
his name of "the Handsome" with the graceful ease of a 




Museum Chateau de Versailles 



Margaret of Austria at the Age of Three. Anonymous artist. 




Private collection, France 

Margaret of Austria at the Age of Ten. Anonymous artist. 



Duchess of Savoy 

perf ectly built athlete. Philibert was a fairy-tale prince, for 
whom life meant an uninterrupted series of festivities, of 
tournaments, hunting parties, balls, and banquets. He was 
a whirlwind of a fellow, unable to hold out for very long 
in any one place, avoiding repose and routine and skating 
over the ice of his international relations with a flourish. His 
people adored him for his youth and strength, his radiant, 
daredevil spirits, his happy-go-lucky sensuality that could 
enjoy all the good things of this earth. Life smiled upon him. 
He did not need to bother with affairs of state and other 
boring business, for fate had blessed him with a bastard 
brother who desired nothing more than to take over the 
task of governing. Philibert thanked heaven and his sensible 
father, and went on dancing. 

In body and mind he was the complete opposite of the 
pale, learned, spiritual Infante Juan of Castile who had 
taught Margot from Flanders what love meant and whom 
she had worshiped for all his endearing qualities of poet and 
dreamer, for his dark, always weary good looks, for his utter 
devotion, given to herself alone. Could Margaret ever have 
chosen such a contrast of her own accord? But her brother 
had decided she had to go where he sent her. 

The marriage contract was signed at Brussels on Septem- 
ber 2 6,- -i 50 1. Philip promised his sister a dowry of two hun- 
dred thousand pounds Flemish, to be paid in ten yearly in- 
stallments at Geneva, The Duke of Savoy pledged her, in 
case she survived him, an annuity of twelve thousand gold 
ecus out of income from certain earldoms. He himself grace- 
fully accepted the Order of the Golden Fleece, awarded him 
by the Duke of Burgundy, and named his half brother, the 
Grand Bastard Rene, as his representative at the marriage, 



Pawn 

which according to custom was to be solemnized by proxy. 

And so Margaret once again took leave of her grand- 
mother Margaret of York, of her brother Philip and his taci- 
turn wife Juana, of the little Princess Alienor and the little 
Crown Prince Charles, of her ladies in waiting and her cour- 
tiers, and for the third time in her young life undertook a 
journey of many weeks to an unknown husband. She went 
through France, where this time too she was received with 
festivities, gifts, and sweetmeats. In this spirit the popula- 
tion of Rheims went to meet her in solemn procession with 
an offering of four vats of hippocras, a stag, a wild boar, 
does, peacocks, pheasants, partridges, hares, and rabbits. 
Every day had its picnic feasts, washed down with the ex- 
cellent wine of the country, for all along the royal route 
names of the noblest vineyards of France gave forth their 
fragrance. Almost daily new carts heavily laden with barrels 
joined the baggage train accompanying the Duchess. For 
the courteous French magistrates with gracious generosity 
defrayed the costs of transport for the wine Madame could 
not consume on the spot. 

On November 2 2nd Margaret met the Grand Bastard of 
Savoy at Dole, and a few days later the marriage in which 
he stood proxy for his half brother was performed by the 
bishop of Lausanne. It was a simple ceremony, and Margaret, 
with womanly tact, wore a black velvet tabard lined with 
black lamb's wool, without, however, appearing to be in 
mourning, as Molinet the chronicler, who had a flair for the 
nuances of fashion, reported with much appreciation. 

But after the church ceremony Margaret could regard 
herself as the Duchess of Savoy and freed from the mourn- 
ing she had been wearing for the last four years for the 



Duchess of Savoy 

Infante Juan. At the ball given that evening she appeared 
again for the first time in the glowing gold brocade that so 
became her, and only the cut of her gown, designed in the 
Spanish fashion, recalled her Castilian past. When she left 
her room to go to the ballroom a jewelled girdle, set with 
diamonds, rubies and pearls, was presented to her in the name 
of Duke Philibert. 

The Grand Bastard appeared to be a most engaging talker 
and an excellent dancer. And the somewhat ridiculous cere- 
mony that took place after supper was carried out in a spirit 
of lighthearted comedy and playful coquetry. In her golden 
bridal gown, Margaret had to stretch out upon a bed of state 
set up in the reception hall, and the Grand Bastard laid him- 
self down beside her in his costly suit, which, however, did 
not make a very neat impression since, by the demands of 
protocol, he had been obliged to bare one of his legs. A 
throng of courtiers filled the hall in which this ceremony 
was going forward, and they much admired the easy grace 
with which the two principals behaved in their singular situ- 
ation. They jokingly exchanged a few polite words, after 
which the Grand Bastard got up from the bed and asked his 
sister-in-law for a kiss, which was granted him. And to close 
this idyllic scene in style, he went down on his knees before 
the bed and declared himself the humble servant of his 
Duchess. 

Margaret, remembering in what a helpless manner the 
representative of her Spanish husband had acquitted himself 
of his task when obliged to act out the same nuptial comedy, 
was completely charmed by the courteous Savoyard. She 
bade him rise, said good night, presenting him with a fine 
diamond ring, and they both withdrew "Madame le fit 



u6 The Pawn 

lever", says Molinet, "et, en disant bonne nuit, lui donna 
une bonne bague de dyamant, et chescun se retira". 

And after that, the meeting with her new husband, in a 
convent not far from Geneva. 

The moment Philibert rode through the convent gate his 
zest for life set the tone. Hardly had he greeted his bride 
and refreshed himself after the trip on horseback, when the 
ball began, while the convent church was made ready for 
the wedding. They danced till midnight, after which the 
gay company attended the ceremony, conducted by the 
bishop of Maurienne. 

Again Margaret had been married in a convent but what 
a difference between this boisterous, scarcely conventual 
party and the quiet days in Santa Trinidad! The first weeks 
of her stay in Savoy were taken up with such a dizzying 
whirl of feasts and receptions that she hardly had time to 
take in her new surroundings, let alone acquaint herself more 
thoroughly with the character of this young and most fasci- 
nating prince, whom all the women envied her. 

It began with her entry into Geneva. Geneva, where at 
that moment one could hardly move through the streets, 
either afoot or on horseback, barred as they were by the 
countless platforms that had been set up. Upon these were 
exhibited the most extraordinary allegorical representations, 
unrestrained in their bizarreness, past which the new Duch- 
ess, seated on a white palfrey with saddlecloth of gold, held 
her glorious progress. Iron trees, lacquered in blue and gold, 
upheld with difficulty enormous blossoms that bore inside 
their calyxes living figures representing Margaret's forebears 
in their imperial and royal finery. Wild men and women 



Duchess of Savoy nj 

frightened the onlookers with their grimaces. Mountain 
landscapes, decked with snow-covered pine forests, moved 
by, and on the topmost pinnacle of a tower of Babel a lone 
figure waved a banner with the arms of Savoy. 

It was overwhelming. The abundance of Flanders, the 
riches of Spain, the luxuries of France, all were overshad- 
owed by the extravagance of this entry into Geneva. 

Banquets and tournaments followed, and there was danc- 
ing, dancbg. This was how life should be, according to 
Philibert, radiant in his reckless beauty beside his ravishing 
wife. Only with reluctance did he at last give his consent to 
the departure of Margaret's Burgundian escort, which, 
elated over so much homage, such entertainment, was finally 
obliged to part from all these delights in order to return to 
Flanders. 

After the guests had gone Margaret and Philibert visited 
a great number of cities in the duchy, which received them 
with festivities and gifts. But such receptions succeeded 
each other at increasing intervals. Things quieted down 
around the young couple and at last Margaret had an oppor- 
tunity to learn to know her new consort, her new surround- 
ings, somewhat better. 

Philibert was indeed no stranger to her any more. Perhaps 
she did not guess, was never to guess, the emptiness that lay 
hidden beneath his restless gaiety, his craving for variety, 
for ever-new stimuli. His good looks, his charm, his un- 
tiring youth blinded her to the shallowness that lay beneath 
all this brilliance. With her adaptability, cultivated by much 
experience, it cost her no effort to fit in with his capricious- 
ness of a pampered charmer, and Philibert helped by being 
passionately in love> which pleased and flattered her. Mar- 



nS The Yawn 

garet's Flemish ways, her zest for life, her inclination to lux- 
ury and show, her robust humor, her straightforward sen- 
suality found an echo in this gay beau who was her husband. 
And what she had scarcely dared to hope began to happen: 
the past with all its tears grew dim. She blossomed in a new 
happiness, perhaps less sudden and overwhelming, but riper 
and more harmonious than her feeling for Juan could ever 
have become in the few months of their life together. 

But Margaret was more than a good dancer, a liberal and 
laughter-loving mistress, an entertaining table companion. 
She had been brought up by the Regent of France, Anne de 
Beaujeu, and had known and admired Isabella of Spain, but 
she had also seen the humiliating misery of Juana, the help- 
less slave of a husband as irresistible as Philibert. The rush 
of festivities attendant upon her wedding had barely died 
down when Margaret discovered that another task lay in 
reserve for the Duchess of Savoy than that of being play- 
mate to the Duke a task in which Philibert would never 
take an interest and which he had with careless unconcern 
allowed to slip from his hands: the task of government. 

It was Rene, the Grand Bastard of Savoy, who with cun- 
ning amiability and unlimited ambition had managed to take 
all cares of state from Philibert's elegant shoulders. He was 
lieutenant general of the dukedom and in fact absolute ruler 
over the country, which he regarded as a personal conquest 
of his own. 

The discovery that her husband had not the slightest in- 
fluence in his own territory filled Margaret with alarm and 
indignation. She dealt with the Grand Bastard swiftly and 
effectively. Charged with having conspired with the danger- 
ous Swiss, he saw himself condemned as a traitor to his coun- 



Duchess of Savoy 

try, robbed of his dignity and his possessions and even of 
the letters of legitimacy granted him a few years earlier by 
the Emperor. From this first political struggle, which she 
had conducted with all the means her injured pride had in- 
spired her to find and with all the force of her strong will, 
Margaret emerged as conqueror and absolute monarch of 
Savoy. Had her accusation of the Grand Bastard been 
grounded on a real misdeed? Or was she already making use, 
in this her first political appearance, of those means justified 
by their end of which her generation always knew how to 
avail themselves with so much ingenuity? 

However this might be, after the defeat of the Grand 
Bastard, who sought refuge at the French court, the skies 
of Savoy seemed to shine cloudless above the young ducal 
couple. Philibert amused himself, and Margaret was the per- 
fect consort, missing no single ball or tournament, joining 
in every hunting party. Margaret on horseback, with her 
ivory hunting horn on a bandoleer over her shoulder, was 
a picture of sportive elegance, the pride of Philibert, whom 
she never left out of her sight for a moment, for fear that, 
without her admonishments, he might overdo his hunter's 
recklessness. 

Tourneys and hunting parties and feasts might fill Phili- 
bert's life, but to Margaret they were only a pastime. Her 
real interest, which with the years was to grow into a pas- 
sion that completely absorbed her, lay elsewhere. Affairs of 
state, and foreign policy in particular, fascinated her. The 
chateau of Pont d'Ain, where she spent most of her time, be- 
came the center of the political life of Savoy, the young 
Duchess with a small number of highly capable secretaries 
and councilors wielding the actual power, while the Duke 



120 The Pawn 

basked in the sun of his popularity and, amused at the mascu- 
line interests of his so very feminine consort, gladly left the 
worry of governing to her. 

Margaret did not limit her attention to Savoy alone. The 
quiet of the ideally situated castle gave her ample oppor- 
tunity to go more deeply into the stirring political events, 
to make a study of the relative powers of the rulers who held 
Europe in the grip of their unscrupulous ambitions. And 
though she was not yet strong enough to interfere in the 
game in which until now she had been little more than a 
pawn, the Duchess of Savoy was in a better position than 
any of the robber-baron kings to judge and even to foresee 
the clashes between their interests, and above all between 
their characters. For she had an advantage over them: while 
they scarcely knew one another, Margaret knew most of 
them from personal contact. Her woman's intuition, sharp- 
ened by humiliations, and the intelligent use of her special 
experience had given her, young as she was, an insight such 
as few of her contemporaries could achieve. The Emperor 
of the Holy Roman Empire was her father and she knew 
him as it were by instinct. The Duke of Burgundy, Philip the 
Handsome, was an open book to his sister, although her ac- 
tive life had for the most part kept her far from him. She 
knew France, the French mind, the French king, as well as 
the great enemy of France, Ferdinand of Aragon, whose po- 
litical methods she had been able to learn from his gifted 
consort, Queen Isabella. 

In addition to all this rich experience she possessed one 
privilege that was more powerful the less it was known and 
recognized: she was a woman. She disposed over invisible, 
silent weapons, while these belligerent potentates rocked 



Duchess of Savoy 221 

Europe with their war cries. Tact, insight, flexibility that is 
stronger than the strongest fortress, intuition and charm, 
womanly levelheadedness and common sense made up the 
arsenal upon which she was to base her power. Margaret, 
with velvet gloves and a smile on her lips, was often to ap- 
pear more powerful than the plumed and armored figures of 
her masculine opponents. 

During her years of study in Savoy she knew how to sur- 
round herself with a few excellent advisers and assistants, 
whose admiration bound them inseparably to her. There was 
in the first place the jurist Mercurio de Gattinara, head of 
her Privy Council, a shrewd judge of human nature, a re- 
fined stylist and an untiring worker, who was to rise in her 
service to Grand Chancellor of Castile, finally to Cardinal. 
The amiable Louis Barangier, who acted as her secretary 
during the years in Savoy, had previously accompanied her 
to Spain and had been her chamberlain after her return to 
the Low Countries. Her second secretary, Jean de Marnix, 
grandfather of Marnix of St. Aldegonde, the great poet and 
musician of the Netherlands, was never to leave her till 
her dying day. He became her treasurer-general and was 
her principal assistant in foreign affairs, in which his influ- 
ence was widely sought and often royally rewarded. 

With these three faithful and devoted collaborators at 
her side, the Duchess of Savoy pursued her study of inter- 
national events and their significance. After her departure 
from the Netherlands it had been primarily the activity of 
her brother, Archduke Philip, that had attracted the atten- 
tion of the courts of Europe. His position and his prestige 
were radically changed after the inheritance of the Spanish 
lands had fallen to his wife, the helpless Juana that is to 



122 The Pawn 

say, to the ambitious Philip. His policy, which up to this 
time had been purely Netherlandish and hence in opposition 
to the dynastic interests defended by his father, Maximilian, 
also changed under the influence of the powerful territories, 
spread over the whole of Europe, that were to be united in 
his hands. Austria, the Netherlands, Aragon and Castile, 
Granada and Leon, Naples and Sicily, and the undefined 
realms of the New World Columbus had added to Spain's 
possessions all this would in future come to Philip. The 
fact that Ferdinand and Isabella were still alive prevented the 
immediate exercise of his world power, but this in no way 
restricted his pretentions. In the company of his wife, the 
real heir to the throne, he traveled across France to Spain, 
in order to receive the homage of the Cortes as prospective 
king. On his return, he went twice from Lyon to visit his 
sister, at the castle of Pont d'Ain and at Bourg-en-Bresse, 
where Duke Philibert provided a rich variety of amusements, 
while Margaret made use of the opportunity to compare her 
views on international relations with those of her brother, 
the "Prince of Castile". She entirely approved of Philip's 
policy of an always closer rapprochement with France and 
must undoubtedly have encouraged him in his endeavor to 
bring Maximilian also, whose dislike of everything French 
had gradually become second nature to him, into the camp 
of Louis XII. From Savoy Philip moved on to the Tyrol, 
where in fact he was able to win his father over to this policy. 
The Treaty of Blois, concluded in September, 1504, be- 
tween Maximilian, Philip, and Louis, announced the miracle 
that these three autocrats were henceforth to be a single 
soul in three bodies. 



Duchess of Savoy 12$ 

September, 1504, month of glory and triumph for Philip 
the Handsome, brought the deepest misery to his sister Mar- 
garet. 

It had been a scorchingly hot, dry summer. The hazy blue 
distances that had made the terraces of Pont d'Ain famous 
seemed to be shrouded in a film of burnt brown. It was too 
warm to eat, too warm to hunt, too warm to dance. Philibert, 
visibly suffering under his enforced lack of activity, begged 
Margaret like a spoiled, obstinate child to grant him but a 
single day of hunting pleasure, if she did not want him to 
die of boredom, sicken for want of exercise. Margaret ar- 
gued that he must be careful, must spare himself for her sake, 
his servants and his horses for theirs. Philibert yielded, sulk- 
ing: this was no life for a man, hanging round all day among 
his wife's ladies in waiting, being burdened by her coun- 
cilors, who thought they should consult him if he was always 
within range. The heat, the ducal impatience made the other- 
wise so harmonious atmosphere of Pont d'Ain oppressive 
and restless. 

Until one fine day Margaret weakened and restrained him 
no longer. Philibert, happy as a child, made plans for a boar 
hunt in the environs of the castle. It was one of the first days 
of September and even early in the morning the sun was 
burning over the withered countryside of Bresse with a 
tropical intensity. The hunting horns echoed through the 
park of Pont d'Ain. The triumphant sound drew further 
and further away. Quiet reigned in the halls and rooms of the 
castle, where Margaret's secretaries were beginning their 
day's routine of state affairs. 

The day passed in silence. The Duchess worked undis- 



124 

turbed. Until in the afternoon a messenger came to inform 
her that at his midday meal the Duke had been attacked by 
a sudden and serious indisposition. In a panic of fear the 
Duchess heard out the story of what had happened. 

After hunting all morning at a pace which the other 
knights had not been able to maintain in the oppressive heat, 
the Duke had finally arrived, exhausted and perspiring, at 
the spring where the company was to meet for lunch. 

Gasping with fatigue, he had thrown himself upon the 
ground in the shade and demanded beaker after beaker of 
the ice-cold spring water, and had drunk in so rapid and un- 
controlled a manner that his nobles had repeatedly cautioned 
him. Shortly thereafter, an excruciating stitch in the side 
made him writhe, and before the end of the meal it was 
clear that the Duke could not continue the hunt. With the 
greatest circumspection he was brought home by his com- 
panions. 

Physicians were hastily summoned. But when they finally 
arrived from Bourg, they found the Duke already in mortal 
danger, and their primitive science was powerless against the 
inflammation of the lungs which in a few days brought the 
young athlete to the edge of the grave. In vain Margaret 
tried to do something to save him. She spent whole nights 
praying, made solemn vows to undertake distant pilgrim- 
ages, if her life's joy might only be preserved. She had her 
priceless pearl necklaces crushed to powder, and the doctors 
prepared a drink, worth fortunes, but useless. Margaret had 
to be told that there was no longer any hope of saving her 
husband's life. Her own was saved by her courtiers when in 
her despair she attempted to throw herself from a window. 



Duchess of Savoy 125 

It seemed as if the young Duchess would not survive her 
husband. With the same passionateness with which she had 
been happy, she gave herself over to a despairing grief. She 
refused to be parted from the dead body, and her courtiers, 
dreading lest her reason could not withstand this strain, kept 
close watch over her day and night for fear she might again 
attempt to take her own life. 

But her healthy nature kept the upper hand. Countless 
decisions, formalities, and regulations which she had to obey 
demanded her attention. She was not only a deeply unhappy 
woman she was at the same time, for the moment, still the 
ruling head of Savoy, although Philibert had been succeeded 
in name by another half brother, Charles III, an insignificant 
youth of eighteen. The problems that came up for settlement 
were still submitted to the judgment of the Dowager Duch- 
ess. The reading of masses, the burial of the deceased, the 
national mourning, were all cares that compelled Margaret 
to wrench herself away from her sorrow. 

She answered with the greatest decision the question of 
where the mortal remains of the Duke should be laid to rest. 
On his deathbed Philibert had reminded her of the vow his 
mother had taken in order to save the life of his father, Phili- 
bert of Bresse, when in 1440 he lay at death's door because 
of a hunting accident. This sacred promise included the con- 
dition that the Duchess would restore the old Benedictine 
cloister of Brou that lay just outside Bourg-en-Bresse and 
that through poverty and neglect had fallen into ruin. 

Philibert's mother, Marguerite de Bourbon, had not re- 
deemed the promise and Margaret, reminded in so tragic an 
hour of this debt, resolved to carry out what her mother-in- 



126 The fawn 

law had failed to do. The cloister of Brou was to be recon- 
structed and the simple chapel in which Marguerite de Bour- 
bon lay buried, to be rebuilt into a worthy mausoleum for 
the man who had given Margaret a few years of happiness. 

Six days after his death Philibert's embalmed body was 
brought to Brou and laid beside his mother. His heart that 
tempestuous heart with which he had loved good living and 
his fair young wife Margaret kept at the castle of Pont 
d' Ain, where she was still to stay frequently during the next 
two years. She remained for the time being in Savoy, where 
she had been happy and where countless spiritual and prac- 
tical cares continued to demand her presence. Six months 
after Philibert's death she acquired the first pieces of ground 
for the construction of his mausoleum, and appointed the 
contractors who were to carry out the first stages of the 
work. The rapid realization of her plans brought with it 
from the start enormous expenses that had to be met from 
the proceeds of her dower. The regulation of this matter, 
however, brought Margaret into conflict with the new Duke 
of Savoy, young Charles III, who could not share his sister- 
in-law's concept of her place and her task in his country. 

Margaret's commanding nature did not adapt itself to the 
fact that together with Philibert and her married happiness 
she had lost the task of governing, which had filled her days 
in these last three years, had kept her mind busy, and had 
satisfied her ambition. She, the Dowager Duchess, no longer 
had any right whatever to the place that Philibert had so 
gladly left to her. 

For the domains that had been in part promised to her at 
her marriage, in part given her later by Philibert, were only 
the guarantee of her annuity, and she could no longer exer- 



Duchess of Savoy 127 

cise governmental control over them. Young Charles HI was, 
it is true, still less capable of ruling independently than Phili- 
bert had been, but this did nothing to alter the fact that in 
any case the helm must be taken out of the widowed Duch- 
ess's hands. Nevertheless Margaret saw in the circumstance 
that Charles was no more than an awkward and helpless child 
a possibility of being awarded sovereign power at least over 
the lands of her dower. She actually succeeded in coming to 
an agreement with the intimidated young Duke, thanks to 
the fact that she was able to bring the authority of her father, 
the Emperor, to bear on the case. Thus Margaret by the 
Treaty of Strasbourg retained Bresse, Faucigny, and Vaud, 
where she continued to dispose of the most important offices 
and where the conduct of internal affairs remained in her 
hands. Only the highest judicial power continued to lie with 
the Duke, who set the further condition that Vaud should 
under no circumstances whatever be separated from the 
dukedom of Savoy. 

Margaret's position as Dowager Duchess of Savoy ap- 
peared to have been satisfactorily settled. Yet the future was 
to make clear how much room the Treaty of Strasbourg left 
for chicanery on the part of Duke Charles, which Margaret 
opposed with the resolute energy of her ever increasing 
authority. "My lord brother is listening to wrong advice to 
treat us in this manner", she once wrote in later years to one 
of Charles' advisers concerning the experience she had been 
having with her brother-in-law, "and whoever it is who 
gives him these counsels has neither his advantage nor his 
honor in view, and in this way he will lose more than he can 
ever gain. You should know that we have no inclination to 
tolerate such things, which dishonor and harm and grieve 



The Pawn 

us. If my lord brother thinks that by such unmannerly treat- 
ment he can reduce us and put his intentions through, he 
has the wrong idea. For all that we are a woman, our heart is 
of a different nature, and we cannot do any good to those 
who work us harm" "Car jagoit que soyons femme, si 
avons le coeur d'aultre nature. . . ." 

This woman's heart of hers that wanted to be happy and 
to make others happy, that had rejoiced in expectation, only 
to be hurt again and again, this heart Margaret had buried 
in the church of Brou, at which she was to build for five and 
twenty years before she should herself at last be laid to rest 
there, 

But she never forgot the song that heart had taught her, 
and whenever it came to her mind in the long years in which 
she "could do no good to those who work us harm", a gentle- 
ness came over her of which the pages of her poetry albums 
speak: 

Le temps m'est long et j'ay bien le pourquoy, 
Car ung jour m'est plus long qu'une sepmaine, 
Dont je prie Dieu que mon corps tost ramainne 
Ouestmoncueurquin'estplusavecmoy. . . 

Time is long to me and I have reason, 

For one day to me is longer than a week, 

So I pray God to bring my body soon 

To where my heart is that is no longer with me. , , 



THE 




^Playe 



Tant que j e vive, mon cueur ne changera 
Pour nul vivant, tant soit il bon ou saige, 
Fort et puissant, riche, de hault Kgnaige: 
Mon chois est fait, aultre ne se f era. 

II peult estre que Ton devisera; 
Mais ja pour ce ne muera mon couraige, 
Tant que je vive. 



Jamais mon cueur a Tencontre 
D'ung franc vouloir Ten ay mis en ostaige; 
De Ten oster point ne suis si voulaige; 
Ou je 1'ay mis a toujours mais sera, 
Tant que je vive. 



Long as I live, my heart will never change 
For no man living, though he be wise and good, 
Strong, powerful and rich, and of high lineage: 
My choice is made, different it will not be. 

Quite possibly there will be whisperings; 
Nevertheless they'll not disturb my courage 
Long as I live. 

Counter to this my heart will never go; 
Of a free will in hostage have I placed it; 
To take it thence, so fickle am I not; 
Where I have laid it, it evermore shall be, 
Long as I live. 



CHAPTER FIVE 



Regent of the 





A /f ONOTONE and imperturbable, the Ain rippled 
IV JLalong the terraces and vineyards of the castle, and the 
same sound of steadily flowing water that had once formed 
the accompaniment to such harmonious happiness now rang 
as undertone to Margaret's sorrow. 

The costly gala dresses hung unused in her wardrobe. Her 
jewels, her pearl-broidered caps of gold brocade, all the 
golden ornaments with which she had so gladly enhanced 
her fairness, lay neglected behind the heavily studded doors 
of her cupboards. On the few occasions when the Dowager 
Duchess left the safe seclusion of Pont d'Ain she appeared in 
black, without jewelry. A close-fitting white widow's cap 
covered the ruins of the golden hair for which she had been 
so much admired and which, as a most personal expression 
of mourning, she had cut oif . This cap of finely pleated ba- 
tiste Margaret was never again to exchange for any more 
worldly headdress. Never again was she to display her great- 
est beauty. Though she did let her hair grow again, it re- 



The Chess Player 

mained concealed under the white gossamer linen that for 
years was to be her only finery. And thus, in black, her pale 
face bordered by the widow's cap, Pieter van Coninxloo 
painted her at the castle of Pont d'Ain, at her brother Philip's 
command. 

This moving portrait was not intended for Philip himself; 
He needed it for the complicated plans that filled his pro- 
gram since, through the death in November, 1504, of his 
mother-in-law, Queen Isabella, her royal crown had become 
his own. Philip the Handsome, King of Castile, had acquired 
other interests than those of Philip the Handsome, Prince of 
Castile. He was preparing for a journey to Spain, so that the 
Cortes might render him homage as their ruler. 

The fleet bearing the royal couple was, however, cast 
upon the English coast by storms. Philip fell into the power 
of the English king, Henry VII, and in this critical situation 
he did not hesitate to sacrifice to his dynastic policy, which 
Henry would have to support, one of the most essential in- 
terests of the Low Countries, the favorable trade agreement 
with England of 1496. A new agreement was concluded, the 
advantage of which lay entirely on the English side. "Inter- 
cursus malus", the Netherlanders called it, and it was to be 
sealed by two marriages. The young Burgundian Crown 
Prince Charles, formerly betrothed to Claude de France, 
was to marry Henry VII's daughter, Princess Mary Tudor 
and Henry himself, but lately widowed, fell in with the 
idea of letting the last years of his avaricious, money-seeking 
life be cheered by a young and wealthy widow: Philip's 
sister Margaret. 

This had in any case been for some time the wish of the 
King of Castile, and the portrait that van Coninxloo came 



Regent of the Netherlands 

to Pont d'Ain to paint was intended to give the sickly old 
miser an impression of the charms of his prospective wife. 

Margaret let herself be painted but about a marriage she 
thought no more. While at Pont d'Ain she was devoting her 
whole attention to the plans for the cloister and the church 
at Brou, Philip the Handsome in March, 1506, signed the 
contract that was to make her Queen of England. But Mar- 
garet had matured from a child under guardianship with no 
say in her own aif airs into a person who knew very well 
what she wanted. She refused to let herself be used any 
longer in the political game of which she had now mastered 
the rules herself. Her father and her brother had traded her 
off three times, she said bitterly, and not once had she stood 
to benefit. And while acrimonious letters passed back and 
forth between Philip the Handsome, Maximilian, and Henry 
VII, while the Emperor worked himself up over the fact 
that Margaret's refusal would cause him to lose the subsidy 
Henry, his son-in-law-/Vz-,rp, was to have given him so that 
he could at last get himself crowned in Rome Margaret sat 
in her quiet castle, bowed over the drawings of Brou, her 
heart filled with memories, her head full of plans for Phili- 
bert's mausoleum. 

The pledge she had taken over from her mother-in-law 
included primarily the reconstruction of the cloister at Brou, 
and for this Margaret did in fact destine the first available, 
still very modest funds. In place of the Benedictines who had 
abandoned the dilapidated structure, some Augustinian 
monks came from Lombardy to give their advice, and under 
their influence the simple sketches changed into plans for a 
roomy and sunny convent. The monument to the dead must 
give way before a home for the living, and of the new church 



The Chess Player 

only the first stone had so far been laid. It was Margaret her- 
self who, on August 28, 1506, carried out this ceremony in 
a pouring summer rain. 

Her creation at Brou, growing slowly under her continual 
supervision, gave Margaret a deep satisfaction and was her 
consolation in the lonely years before she was called to the 
task that later was to absorb her completely. Here at Pont 
d'Ain, where the sound of the river was never drowned out 
by noises of festivity, Margaret built herself a new existence, 
a new content for her life, among the books and manuscripts 
of her ever growing library, among the animals, the dogs 
and birds, to which she gave her affection, among the build- 
ing plans and drawings of Brou. Whereas during Philibert's 
life she had been surrounded by nobles and courtiers, her 
court now took on a more and more artistic and cultural 
stamp. It was in this period of her life that she found the 
versatile device in which the dissonance of her disasters re- 
solved itself into a harmony that could once again be hope- 
ful: Fortune, Infortune, Fortune. The insight born of suf- 
fering showed Margaret new values in life, and for all her 
loneliness she discovered herself sometimes richer than be- 
fore. . . . 

Until in the autumn of 1506 the disconcerting news flew 
through Europe, penetrating to the castle of Pont d'Ain, that 
the King of Castile, Philip the Handsome, had suddenly died 
at Burgos on the 25th of September. He had dined in the 
Carthusian monastery of Miraflores, had played pelota after 
the meal, and had become very much overheated. After that 
he had drunk cold spring water. . . . Few particulars were 
needed to make clear to the Dowager Duchess the course 



Regent of the Netherlands 735 

things had taken. The death of that other young prince, also 
surnamed the Handsome, remained engraved in her memory 
with all its cruel details. And when rumors hissed through 
all the European courts that Philip the Handsome had been 
poisoned at Burgos at the instigation of his father-in-law, 
Ferdinand of Aragon, Philip's sister was not among those 
who attached any belief to them. Had she not once before 
seen a strong young life ebb away under her very eyes, seen 
the cleverest physicians powerless against a sickness stronger 
than the treachery of poison? 

The death of her brother struck Margaret while she was 
still barely restored from the loss of Philibert She gave ex- 
pression to this new sorrow in a few lines of verse, not in 
French, in which she often set down her feelings with a 
melancholy grace, but in the much more disciplined Latin, 
which lends a stern dignity to her plaint: 

Ecce iterum novus dolor accedit 

nee satis erat inf ortunatissime Caesaris filiae 

conjugem amisisse dilectissimum 

nisi etiam f ratrem unicum 

mors acerba surriperet. 

Doleo super te frater mi, Philippe 

Rex optime, 
nee est qui me consoletur. 

Behold once more new sorrow falls 

nor was it enough in utmost misfortune to lose 

the husband deeply beloved of Caesar's daughter 

without bitter death now snatching 

her sole brother. 

I grieve for you, brother mine, Philip 

best of Kings, 
nor is there anyone who can console me. 



The Chess Player 

"Nor is there anyone who can console me". More cruel than 
the new loss was the lack of any consolation that might have 
mitigated it, and the loneliness that could not be shared with 
any equal. 

In the midst of her mourning life challenged Margaret, 
and a task was laid upon her which in the eyes of today seems 
unbearably heavy for a young woman of six-and-twenty. 
Through the death of Philip the Handsome a minor child 
later to be called Charles V had become master of the Low 
Countries. And once more, as at the death of Mary of Bur- 
gundy, Maximilian, grandfather of Prince Charles, was des- 
ignated regent of the Burgundian provinces. Although the 
Emperor had expected it would cost him a hard fight to be 
recognized as guardian and regent by the States General of 
the Netherlands, who still looked on him as a foreigner, this 
happened without much friction. The Netherlands had, 
thanks to a period of national governmental policy, learned 
to regard themselves more as a unit than before, and now 
adapted themselves more easily to the leadership of Holland, 
Zeeland, and Brabant, which favored Maximilian's regency. 

But in addition to Burgundy, the Kingdom of Castile had 
also become the heritage of six-year-old Charles. It seemed 
obvious that the regency over this country should be en- 
trusted to the real heir, Charles' mother, the Infanta Juana, 
in whose name Philip the Handsome had actually been rul- 
ing. But Juana, who had already shown signs of being ex- 
tremely unbalanced, suffered after the death of her husband 
from a serious mental derangement. The confusion in Cas- 
tile, where all leadership was lacking, increased day by day, 
finally bringing its natural solution: Ferdinand of Aragon, 



Regent of the Netherlands 

whom the Castilians knew and feared, was appointed regent 
over their country during the minority of Charles V. 

Thus was the regency settled in the two parts of Charles' 
future empire. But while Ferdinand could without difficulty 
be present in Castile whenever circumstances demanded, it 
was impossible for the Emperor to leave his empire in order 
to take on the government of the Netherlands. It was neces- 
sary to appoint a lieutenant general, and Maximilian's choice 
fell upon his daughter Margaret, Dowager Duchess of Sa- 
voy, who had originally been co-heir to the Burgundian 
lands. 

The Emperor, who as a rule was not guided by any sense 
of reality, had here taken a decision that spoke for his knowl- 
edge of people and his political insight. For in his daughter 
Margaret were united a number of qualities which, in spite 
of her youth, made her better suited than many a statesman 
for the particularly difficult office of Regent of the Nether- 
lands. She was a child of the land over which she was to 
rule and the people knew her as the daughter of their be- 
loved Duchess Mary, and sister of Duke Philip. Though she 
spoke neither Flemish nor Dutch, she had been born in Brus- 
sels, the people of Ghent had hailed her as a baby, and the 
citizens of Middelburg and Flushing had watched her de- 
parture for Spain as Princess of Castile. 

But Margaret was cut out for this office not alone through 
her birth in the Netherlands. She knew the customs and the 
governmental forms of many European realms, and in her 
journeys, in her solitude as well as in her happiness, she had 
acquired a ripe knowledge of human character. "She has 
tested", writes Lemaire, "the loyalty, the service, the kind- 
ness and the constancy of some; the falsity, the unkindness, 



The Chess Player 

the meanness and the frivolity of others, the perseverance 
and the mutability of diverse human affections" "Ha ex- 
perimente la foi, le service, la gentilesse et la Constance des 
uns: la fraude, la nuisance, la vilite et la legerete des autres: 
la perseverance et la muablete de diuerses affections hu- 
maines". She knew what human loyalty and affection were 
worth, she recognized the note of dishonesty in the voice 
of the flatterer, the chink of gold in the assurances of the 
venial. She knew the relativity of all worldly values, of all 
human convictions; she had learned to remain vigilant in 
prosperity and to give her confidence only to those who 
had shown themselves worthy of it. And she possessed the 
inestimable gift that made it possible to carry responsibility: 
a self-confidence that never became overestimation and that 
was continually checked and kept in equilibrium by a 
healthy self-criticism. 

It was this self-confidence that made her accept without 
hesitation her father's proposal that she should leave the 
peaceful castle of Pont d'Ain for the Netherlands, to carry 
on the government for her minor nephew in the name of 
the Emperor. On October 29, 1506, she left the Duchy of 
Savoy for good, traveling to Germany in order to visit his 
Imperial Majesty her father in Rottenburg on the Neckar 
and later in Strasbourg. On March 18, 1507, Maximilian 
signed her appointment as his "procureur general", entitling 
her to receive the oath of the States General, which they 
were obliged to give Maximilian as guardian over Archduke 
Charles. Equipped with this authorization and accompanied 
by certain of her Savoyard councilors and secretaries, Mar- 
garet journeyed on toward the Netherlands, to meet the 
task of her lifetime. 



Regent of the Netherlands 

That task did not appear an easy one. The young Regent 
was indeed welcomed with enthusiasm. The people were 
grateful for her appointment, and from the moment when, 
before the States of Brabant at Louvain, she first took the 
oath to respect the Privileges, her poise and tact, her natural 
charm, and her true majesty made an excellent impression. 
The people of the Low Lands were at that moment fully 
prepared to take her to their hearts. Her life as a princess, 
full of suffering and sorrow, worked on their imagination, 
her widow's weeds compelled their respect, and they were 
charmed by her humorous eyes and generous smile. At her 
festive entry into Brussels the populace wept tears of joy 
and gratitude for their "national" princess, and when two 
days later she went to the town hall, where the oath-taking 
ceremony took place, and appeared on the balcony to show 
herself to the people, their enthusiasm knew no bounds and 
she received ovations such as she, the much hailed, had never 
yet experienced. 

But Margaret was too sensible to let these demonstrations 
of devotion blind her to the difficulties of her still very un- 
certain position. She knew the way of the Netherlander, 
who acclaimed their rulers but were suspicious of their 
government; who wanted to govern themselves and had al- 
ways refused to let themselves be used in the service of in- 
terests they could not look upon as their own. At her last 
visit to her father she had understood to the full that Maxi- 
milian was proposing to continue his old dynastic policy and 
to employ the resources of the Low Countries to satisfy his 
demand for power. She was quite prepared to contribute her 
share to the good name of the House of Habsburg, for which 
she knew herself co-responsible. But in the Netherlands she 



140 The Chess flayer 

had also taken upon herself a personal task and she was firmly 
decided to give her utmost to make her regency a success. 
Maximilian had perhaps hoped to possess a willing tool in 
his daughter; but he had not reckoned with the fact that, 
woman though she was, she was not like other women. Mar- 
garet knew herself that she possessed "le cueur d'aultre na- 
ture", that her own heart was different. She had her own 
ambition and bore her own responsibility. She was con- 
vinced that she could not better serve her House and there- 
with her father, the Emperor, and her nephew Charles, the 
prospective ruler of the Netherlands and Spain, than by ad- 
vancing the prosperity of the Low Countries, which had 
been entrusted to her care. And whenever her views differed 
from those of the Emperor, she was not prepared to let her- 
self be guided by his authority if this would compel her to 
act against her own firm conviction. 

Immediately after her arrival in the Netherlands Margaret 
showed her fine political instinct by choosing as her resi- 
dence, not one of those Flemish cities always ready for tu- 
mult and revolt, like Bruges or Ghent, but the quiet, very 
Burgundian-minded Malines, where Maygaret of York, to 
whom it had belonged, had lived so happily. She was no 
longer there, Madame la Grande, to welcome her energetic 
granddaughter in her high function. She had died in this 
very Malines about two years before. But the sympathy she 
had won from the population of the town flowed forth to 
meet her granddaughter as soon as she entered the city. 
Malines was proud that the Regent herself now came to live 
here, for since 1501 it had had the privilege of sheltering the 



Regent of the Netherlands 14,1 

heir to the throne and his little sisters under the care of 
Madame la Grande. 

Besides the function of regent Margaret had taken a sec- 
ond, not less important task upon herself: to be foster mother 
to the four children Philip and Juana had left behind in the 
Netherlands. They were the eight-year-old Eleanora, Mad- 
ame Alienor, as she was called, the seven-year-old Archduke 
Charles, and the Archduchesses Ysabeau and Marie, aged 
respectively five and one. Their three-year-old brother Fer- 
dinand, poor little hostage, was at the Spanish court far from 
his mother. After the death of her husband Juana had given 
birth to still another daughter, Catherine, who had remained 
with her at the castle of Tordesillas. 

With the death of Madame la Grande the court of Malines 
had lost its center and the city lived withdrawn into itself 
and peaceful behind its ramparts and canals. Across the 
drawbridges, through the gates, a rural traffic moved all day 
long of carts and wagons, pedestrians and horsemen. The ar- 
tisans of Malines, the beU and cannon founders, the tan- 
ners and drapers, brought their products along the water- 
way; and in the center of the intimate little town, along the 
quays of the Dijle, there was always a flapping of sails, a 
rattling of cranes and pulleys. Outside the walls meadows 
and farmlands stretched toward the hazy Flemish horizon, 
the ditches that bordered them drawing strips of light 
through the ever-moist green land, while countless wind- 
mills turned industriously in the Flemish breeze. It was a 
good life within the walls, behind the safe bastions, in the 
narrow wooden houses of Malines. They hugged each other 
close, these houses, around the few stone structures the 



The Chess Player 

town possessed: the bell tower, the court of justice, the old, 
old market halls. The court of justice, moreover, housed a 
national authority: the Grand Council, Burgundy's highest 
court of law. 

On her arrival in this quiet provincial town Margaret 
found no proper archducal palace in which she could es- 
tablish herself. The city government had bought back the 
"Keizerhof " where her foster children lived and which had 
formerly been the property of Madame la Grande. Oppo- 
site this modest house, which scarcely merited the name of 
palace, Emperor Maximilian bought a house from a certain 
van Watervliet and this was furnished as the Regent's resi- 
dence, largely at the expense of the city itself. It was a sim- 
ple brick building, with two wings which housed the service 
quarters and the stables, built around a court. 

This unpretentious "Court of Savoy", as it was to be 
called, was to be Margaret's home for the rest of her life. 
Here she was to prepare the great political conquests that 
were to win her a place of honor among the great statesmen 
of her time and to bring to her foster son, Monseigneur the 
Archduke Charles, a world-wide power. Here she was to 
assemble the art collections, the paintings and manuscripts 
which, together with the music of her famous choir, consti- 
tuted her chief distraction from her double task of regent 
and foster mother. In the peaceful privacy of this modest 
palace she, in whose hands converged the threads of every 
European political intrigue, was able to create for herself a 
setting of feminine comfort and quiet harmony. The Regent 
of the Netherlands surrounded herself with poets and paint- 
ers, architects and men of letters. The nobles and ladies of 
her court reflected the influence of the taste and preferences 



Regent of the Netherlands 

of their mistress. They made music, wrote poetry, composed 
and recited at this little court in the quiet and seclusion of 
Malines, and the spirit of courtesy and culture that reigned 
here contrasted favorably with the loose and drunken man- 
ners of so many other courts. 

Margaret Madame, as she was known to her entourage 
was the moving spirit that gave life to this small world. 
Here she commanded in the capacities of ruler, of devotee 
of art and music, of educator and foster mother, of excellent 
housewife. Her common sense had at once made her realize 
that the honorable function with which her father had en- 
trusted her would make heavy demands on her treasury. 
And although she possessed a double dower, the Spanish 
and the Savoyard, when she settled in the little palace in the 
narrow street of Malines, Margaret understood that in this 
country over which she now ruled and of which she had 
been co-heir, she in fact could call not a single square foot of 
land her own. She had been obliged, when she went to France 
as a bride at the age of three, to give up all her rights to her in- 
heritance from her mother, Mary of Burgundy. Margaret 
knew that her office of regent would be only temporary and 
she foresaw that in her old age she would have no bit of 
land and no house to retire to without danger from others 
"que en notre viel eaige neussions ung pied de terre ny une 
maison pour nous retirer sans dangler daultry". She sent 
her trusted friend Gattinara to her father to beg that she 
might be given for her own some part of the Burgundian 
lands, to which after all she had an equal right with her de- 
ceased brother. She armed her messenger against all the ob- 
jections she knew her father would make. If the Emperor 
said he would give his daughter a pension when her task as 



144 The Chess Player 

regent was finished, Gattinara must not let himself be dis- 
missed with this, but must answer that, while Madame in- 
deed had little experience of life, she knew very well what 
it meant to act as regent for a young prince. This was always 
an ephemeral office and, however well one cared for the 
interest of one's pupil, once he became independent all the 
good work was likely to be forgotten. 

And Margaret, with the realistic outlook of the wise 
housewife who sets aside provision for the winter, asked 
the Emperor for the earldom of Burgundy (Franche- 
Comte) that good land to the east of the dukedom 
of the same name where she had always been received 
with so much sympathy. The earldom, an imperial fief of 
which Maximilian had the disposal, adjoined Margaret's 
former duchy of Savoy. If she was Countess of Burgundy, 
she declared to Gattinara, she would be able to keep the 
Savoyard lands of her dower well in obedience and subjec- 
tion "en bonne obeissance et subjection" which might 
stand the Emperor in good stead if the neighboring Swiss 
ever made difficulties for him. "Otherwise not", the practi- 
cal daughter of this adventurous father concluded with 
realistic terseness "Autrement non". 

The argument did not fail of its effect. Though only 
after prolonged and difficult negotiations, Maximilian finally 
agreed that his daughter might regard a number of lands and 
manors, primarily the earldom of Burgundy, as her own. 
And after February, 1509, Margaret could call herself: By 
the grace of God Archduchess of Austria and Duchess of 
Burgundy, Dowager Duchess of Savoy, Countess of Bur- 
gundy, Charolais, Romont, Bage en Villars, Dame of Salins, 
Malines, Chateau-Chinon, Noyers, Chaussin, La Perriere 




Ktinsthistorisches Museum, Vienna 




Philibert of Savoy and Margaret of Austria. A medal of 1502. 



Regent of the Netherlands 

and of the lands of Bresse, Vaud and Faucigny. But not until 
she had expressly assured the Emperor once more that all 
these properties should remain the possession of the House 
of Habsburg and that she had no intention of diminishing 
the inheritance of her nephew and nieces, since she was of a 
mind to use the proceeds in the service of their interest and 
had no wish for any other heirs. 

Joyous entries, oath-taking ceremonies, and receptions be- 
longed to the past. The palace at Malines was nearing com- 
pletion and at last the Regent found the peace to dedicate 
herself wholly to her new function, and to go more deeply 
in detail into the problems she had taken over from her late 
brother. 

They were not unknown to Margaret, these problems of 
the Netherlands. She knew the history of her mother's 
House, she knew the experiences that her father, Maximilian, 
had had to go through with the troublesome inhabitants of 
the Low Countries. She knew their virtues, which in the 
eyes of a ruling prince became failings: their unbounded 
urge for independence, their unbending, stubborn resistance 
to compulsion, which in countless instances had made them 
altogether ungovernable. 

Margaret was no stranger in this country as Maximilian 
had been. She was a child of Flemish soil and her heart beat 
with the same tough rhythm of dour inflexibility as the 
hearts of Ghent and Bruges. Margaret also, like her new 
subjects, was easily led by those of whose loyalty, insight, 
and talents she was convinced. But in most cases she pre- 
ferred just as her Netherlander did her own insight to 
that of others, trusted herself rather than others, and was 



The Chess Player 

never to employ the talents of others without using her own 
critical capacity. 

The young Regent had still more characteristics in com- 
mon with her subjects which placed her in a better position 
than anyone else to understand and value them. She too was 
industrious and practical, realistic and thrifty, fond of order 
and regularity. She was averse to the romantic, artistic chaos 
in which her father, the Emperor, felt so much at home. 
Like the Netherlanders too she had respect for money, 
which is acquired with so much difficulty and which Maxi- 
milian was accustomed to spend with the royal indifference 
of the bohemian as soon as and in whatever manner it came 
into his hands. Chance which always played such a role 
in Maximilian's life, and by which he let himself be led be- 
cause of his own weakness in following any straight line 
he might have drawn for himself was for his daughter a 
factor to be eliminated as far as possible and to which she 
would certainly never leave any important decisions. 

But besides these .very positive qualities the Regent pos- 
sessed gifts that are seldom met with in combination with 
them: tact, flexibility, adaptability pre-eminently feminine 
virtues, necessary though they are in that most masculine of 
all professions, leadership of an army. And in fact the talents 
of a field marshal were necessary in the battle that Margaret 
now had to conduct in the Netherlands. It was in part a 
silent battle against those subjects who feared in their Re- 
gent the representative of the foreign master Maximilian; 
against the coterie of nobles who had so easily been able to 
make Philip the Handsome Follow- Advice, as they called 
him do what they wanted and who now assumed they 



Regent of the Netherlands 

could apply the same methods in dealing with his sister. But it 
was also a real battle of fire and sword that Margaret had 
to carry on where her brother Philip had left off: the war 
against Gelderland, that bitter heritage from Charles the 
Bold. 

To achieve victory in these two wars, the diplomatic and 
the armed, the Regent needed more power than her original 
commission granted her. Two years after she had begun her 
function she was able to extract from her father a general 
mandate, so that her authority in the Netherlands was no 
less than that of the Emperor and guardian himself. 

And herewith Margaret had attained what she wanted and 
indeed had also earned: the independence she required in 
order to defend unhampered the interests of her House and 
of the provinces that had been entrusted to her care. She no 
longer needed to fear she might become what Maximilian 
in his broken French called "ung person perdu et oblie, mis 
errier de la monde" "a person lost and forgotten, hidden 
in a corner". She herself had suggested these contemptuous 
words to her father when she refused to enter into the idea, 
which once more began to appeal to Maximilian's optimistic 
imagination, of her marriage with old Henry VII of Eng- 
land. 

The Regent indeed agreed with her father that it was of 
the greatest importance to keep the English king in a good 
mood. But she had other and more real reasons than those 
of the Emperor. She had not needed to look about the Neth- 
erlands very long in order to observe how harmful the last 
trade agreement with England had been for her subjects, 
that agreement which Philip the Handsome, shipwrecked 



The Chess Player 

and powerless, had been forced to conclude in England and 
which the Netherlanders had called the Intercursus malus. 
Her first act as Regent of the Netherlands in the field of 
foreign policy dealt with the restoration of the earlier, far 
more favorable state of affairs. And Henry VII, who still 
had not given up the hope of one day making the Dowager 
Duchess of Savoy Queen of England, most graciously met 
her halfway, with the result that by Margaret's efforts the 
Intercursus malus, concluded in an evil hour, was annulled. 

Friendship with the English king was excellent, Margaret 
felt. But it must remain friendship. Even though Maximilian 
wrote her bluntly that she could only serve the House of 
Burgundy if she agreed to a marriage with Henry, and even 
though he declared that Margaret's fear lest in England she 
would be no more than a prisoner of Henry's was entirely 
unfounded. For, wrote the Emperor, the happy bridegroom 
would be made to promise that the bride could spend four 
months a year on the continent in order to exercise her gov- 
ernorship of the Netherlands, or longer if that seemed neces- 
sary. And if Margaret would only say yes, everybody would 
be happy, because Maximilian would henceforth be left in 
peace by that hardheaded Henry, and Margaret would be 
ruling over England as well as the Netherlands and would 
have no reason to feel herself neglected or slighted. 

But Margaret stood her ground. Her troubles were 
enough for her not to want the government of England and 
the withered, greedy English king in addition. The trade 
agreement that had been her first aim was in the bag. In the 
quiet of her palace at Malines the Regent warmed herself 
before her own wood fire, lived according to her own 
rhythm in surroundings attuned exclusively to her own 



Regent of the Netherlands 149 

views, her work, her relaxation. She had declined the prison 
Maximilian had so temptingly set open before her. No 
kingly crown of Europe would ever counterbalance the 
freedom that at last, after so many years of sorrow, had fallen 
to her share. 

She had her freedom, yes, but also her cares. There was 
William of Croy, Sieur de Chievres, whom Philip the Hand- 
some on his departure to Spain had appointed Governor of 
the Netherlands and who now saw himself driven out of 
this important post by a woman. There were the Flemings, 
the States General, who followed their old policy and re- 
fused to grant subsidies for Maximilian's undertakings and 
for the war with Gelderland which, they said, was nothing 
more than a dynastic affair the Emperor should pay for out 
of his own pocket. And finally there was Charles of Gelre, 
who gave the Burgundian government no rest and the fight 
against whom was costing always more money without pro- 
ducing any conclusive results. 

It was an old quarrel that had arisen at the time when 
Charles the Bold, in the seventies of the previous century, 
had offered himself as arbiter in the struggle between the 
old Duke of Gelre, Arnout, and his restless, rebellious son 
Adolf. To put an end to all this wrangling Arnout had then 
simply sold his rights to Gelderland and Zutphen to Charles 
the Bold. The Golden Fleece, which had to pass on this 
matter, without hesitation recognized the rights its chief, 
the Duke of Burgundy, had acquired by purchase and con- 
demned young Adolf to prison for life for his rebellious 
and inhuman behavior toward his poor old father. His chil- 
dren, Charles and Philippa, were fetched away from Nij- 



The Chess flayer 

megen, which was occupied by a Burgundian army, and 
were entrusted to the care of Margaret of York. And thus 
Gelderland had become a Burgundian province, though not 
in the view of the Gelderlanders themselves: they had never 
had much sympathy for old Arnout, against whom they had 
all joined Adolf in rebellion. 

Incorporated in the Burgundian realm, Gelderland was al- 
ways to remain ready to take up arms against the dynasty 
that had bought it. Its young Duke Charles grew up at the 
court of Burgundy. From Charles the Bold's successor, 
Maximilian, he learned the art of war, which was to stand him 
in good stead later in defending his own lands. During one 
of Maximilian's campaigns against Charles VIII, this heir to 
the throne of Gelderland was taken prisoner and thus be- 
came a weapon in the hands of France. In 1491, thinking the 
moment had come to make use of him, the French sent him 
back to Gelderland, provided with money and troops, to 
the jubilation of its people and the long-lasting annoyance 
of Burgundy. 

This was the background of that "Gelderland war" which 
was to cause Margaret so many sleepless nights, a war re- 
peatedly interrupted by armistices and futile treaties, which 
remained an irritating guerilla but nevertheless devoured a 
great deal of money. And the States were never prepared to 
provide the necessary funds, although the Regent sought to 
convince them that their own interest would be served if 
Gelderland could be pacified. Margaret had to pay her 
troops out of an empty treasury. To her father she wrote in 
1511 concerning her desperate financial situation, that "if 
all were to be lost for a thousand florins the treasurer says he 
has no way of finding them" "Et si tout se devoit perdre 



Regent of the Netherlands 757 

pour mil florins, le tresorier dit n'avoir moyen de les 
trouver". Even when she went to inspect the army before it 
left for Gelderland, she was forced to recognize that she 
had indeed an excellent artillery, but very little powder, and 
she wrote the Emperor that she was collecting this indis- 
pensable article from all quarters but would certainly not 
have enough money to pay for it. She offered a part of her 
own income and would gladly have pawned all her jewels 
if anyone would loan the necessary sum "s'il se trouvoit 
homme qui voulsist prester ladite somme dessus; car, Mon- 
seigneur, vous scavez que suis vostre seulle et unicque fille" 
"for, Monseigneur, you know I am your one and only 
daughter." 

Yet she heard from her subjects the reproach that the 
Emperor was squandering good hard Netherlands cash out- 
side the Netherlands borders. So tense was the mood in the 
country during the first years of her regency that Maxi- 
milian, who still cherished his costly plan of finally getting 
himself crowned Emperor in Rome, even wrote Margaret 
that he would postpone his "vyage de Rome" if the Low 
Countries should mutiny "sy le pays d'embas vouderant 
tonber en mutery". But Maximilian could not go back on 
his Roman journey just for the sake of the people of Gelder- 
land.. The Regent would have to handle them without his 
help. 

Margaret saw but one way to this end: to create a good 
understanding with her former playmate of Amboise, Louis 
XII, without whose support Charles of Gelre had always re- 
mained powerless. And by chance Maximilian was in a good 
mood to let his daughter try out a rapprochement with 
France. For he had asked the consent of the Venetians to 



152 The Chess Player 

pass through their domain with an army on his way to 
Rome and to his indescribable indignation this had been 
refused. Reason enough for Maximilian to attack the Vene- 
tians. But his expedition had little success. The Venetians 
conquered a number of cities that belonged to the hereditary 
Austrian lands, and the Emperor was finally compelled to 
a three-year armistice by which he had to leave these losses 
in the hands of his opponents. 

It was at this moment that the Regent of the Netherlands 
presented him with the idea of seeking a rapprochement 
with France, in order to take vengeance together with Louis 
XII upon the arrogant Republic on the Adriatic. Maximilian 
would, to be sure, have to make some sacrifice to this end. 
In order to win Louis' favor, he would have to abstain tem- 
porarily from the war with Gelre which he was so gladly 
conducting at the cost of the Netherlanders. The Regent 
too would profit by such an arrangement; her dissatisfied 
subjects would be left in peace and could keep their purses 
shut. To Charles of Gelre a favorable armistice must be 
off ered. Later, at some suitable moment, the Emperor could 
always hold a reckoning with him. 

Sulkily and with a certain irony Maximilian agreed. Let 
Margaret, since she seemed to know best, just try it out her- 
self with the French. It would do her good, he wrote, if 
for once she became the dupe of their fine words, so that 
thereafter she would be more careful "afin que cy apres y 
prenez meilleur garde". In October, 1508, an armistice was 
concluded with Charles of Gelre, and one month later Mar- 
garet journeyed to Cambrai, where she had convoked a 
meeting with the leader of French foreign policy, the Car- 
dinal-Legate of Amboise. This dignitary would also repre- 



Regent of the Netherlands 

sent the Pope if, as was expected, other more important Eu- 
ropean problems came up for discussion in addition to the 
question of Gelderland. 

There was no doubt that peaceful Cambrai was about to 
experience days of great political significance. The countless 
ambassadors with their followings of secretaries and ser- 
vants, with their bodyguards and military escorts, brought 
an unaccustomed bustle into the little city, and on the ad- 
vice of her solicitous father the Regent had requisitioned 
one half of the city for herself and her suite, while the Car- 
dinal-Legate of Amboise disposed of the other half. The 
Sieur de Chievres and the other personages of Margaret's 
Council settled at Valenciennes in order to be at hand if the 
French should play delaying tricks according to their cus- 
tom "vouldroient jouer des trainneries selon leur cous- 
tume", as Maximilian expressed it. 

But Margaret was not to be intimidated by the adroitness 
of the impressive Cardinal-Legate. She, the twenty-seven- 
year-old princess, in her dignified tabard, her spotless wid- 
ow's cap, went to this, her first great diplomatic conference, 
with an unbounded self-confidence. And she had not mis- 
judged herself. The negotiations had often given her a head- 
ache, she wrote to her ambassador in England, and she 
and the Cardinal-Legate often got into each other's hair, 
but in the end they had been reconciled and had become the 
best of friends. But not until after the energetic princess had 
had to threaten her opponent with her own instant depar- 
ture from Cambrai if the King of France did not agree to in- 
clude the King of Navarre, a faithful adherent of Emperor 
Maximilian, in the covenants that were being drawn up. 

The Legate agreed and after two weeks of exhausting 



The Chess Player 

discussions Margaret could return to her peaceful residence 
with the knowledge that she had brought to heel one of the 
cunningest diplomats of Europe and had, moreover, given 
life to a political constellation which would stagger that con- 
tinent for more reasons than one. To Maximilian the treaty 
proclaimed on December 10, 1508, in the Cathedral of Cam- 
brai, meant a satisfaction such as he would never have been 
able to provide for himself. Officially, to be sure, there had 
come under discussion only the lifelong peace concluded be- 
tween the Emperor and his grandson Charles on the one hand 
and the King of France on the other; the one year's armistice 
with Charles of Gelre, and the investment of Louis XII with 
the dukedom of Milan. But Margaret had made use of those 
two weeks of personal contact with Amboise to conclude 
a secret agreement concerning Venice which was to prove 
the real content of the treaty of Cambrai. This secret treaty 
bound the Emperor, the Pope, the King of France, and the 
King of Aragon to attack the Venetian Republic, and di- 
vided the booty meticulously among them. If any one of 
the allies had conquered his own portion, he promised to 
help the others get possession of theirs. England might also 
join in if it wished, and Hungary, Savoy, Mantua, and Fer- 
rara were to be invited to take part in the happy feast: the 
Venetian table was richly enough provided and a few guests 
more or less would make no difference. The Pope was to 
add luster to the whole by excommunicating the people and 
government of Venice and proclaiming the war against the 
Republic a holy undertaking. Furthermore, he was to release 
Maximilian from the just-concluded three-year peace with 
the Signoria by calling him to the defense of the Church. 
This was the daring plan by which Margaret's tact and the 



Regent of the Netherlands 

cunning of Amboise sought to sweep the mighty Venetian 
Republic off the chessboard of Europe. A plan entirely in 
accord with the spirit of the time, and in which the Regent 
of the Netherlands made use of the same means that the 
greatest opponent of her house, Louis XI of France, had 
applied with so much success against Burgundy. But her 
aim was not exclusively the annihilation of proud Venice. 
Her personal interest, peace in the Netherlands, would be 
served in this way. For through this raid sanctified by the 
Pope she was able to divert the bellicosity of those two 
former enemies, Maximilian and Louis XII, away from the 
provinces for which she now bore the responsibility and 
to direct it upon a far distant part of Europe. She flung a 
precious booty to the grasping potentates in order to win 
time for the consolidation of her own position in the Neth- 
erlands, which would only obey a ruler who brought them 
peace. Margaret brought them that peace and it did not 
go against her own moral conviction nor that of her sub- 
jects that this should take place at the expense of a state 
which had always lived in harmony with the Low Coun- 
tries. The States voted a sum of 60,000 pounds as a gift to 
the Regent, who had been able to protect her country from 
the ravages of a new war. 

From the point of view of the Netherlands the League 
of Cambrai might have been a success; as a European under- 
taking it was doomed to failure. At first everything seemed 
to go according to the agreed schedule. Louis XII marched 
over the Alps with an irresistible army and destroyed the 
Venetian forces in a battle near Agnadello. Like vultures 
Pope Julius II and Ferdinand of Aragon flung themselves 
upon their appointed shares of the booty only the Em- 



The Chess Player 

peror was obliged to hold back ignominiously from the rob- 
bers' feast, because the Empire and the hereditary Austrian 
lands had refused him money and troops for an attack on 
Venice. Insufficiently armed, Maximilian had had to watch 
the successes of Louis, and it was not long before a chilling 
suspicion crept into the Emperor's mind that perhaps the 
triumphant French arms in Italy might eventually be turned 
against himself. The mistrust was reciprocal. The friendship 
formed by the charming Regent of the Netherlands and the 
jovial Cardinal after they had matched strength at Cambrai 
had not yet been accepted by their superiors. The suspicion 
grew among the allies of Cambrai, while the Venetians, 
though beaten on the continent, relied upon their tested 
diplomacy, the oldest and most experienced of Europe. Pope 
Julius II was the first to conclude peace with the Republic. 
He had conquered what he wished to possess, and he com- 
pleted his work by calling up his other allies to a holy war 
against France, which was threatening to get the whole of 
Italy into her power. 

Ferdinand the Catholic gladly lent an ear to this call. He 
had hardly welcomed the victories of France. In October, 
15 1 1, a treaty came into being between the Pope, Ferdinand, 
and Venice, ostensibly for the protection of the Church. 
This alliance was called the Holy League, and its holy pur- 
pose was to drive the French out of Italy. On Louis' side 
there remained but one suspicious and undecided ally: the 
Emperor. Following Cambrai, another treaty, concluded at 
Blois in November, 1510, had once more underlined their 
vacillating union. Once again France brought a powerful 
army into the field and defeated the combined Spanish and 
Italian troops at Ravenna. But the French commander, Gas- 



Regent of the Netherlands 757 

ton de Foix, brother to the new Queen of Aragon, lost his 
life in the battle, and this disaster so discouraged the French 
that their victory proved useless. Three months later they 
had abandoned all their conquests and stood once more at 
the foot of the Alps, over which they had marched into Italy 
so shortly before. 

And history repeated itself. The allies of the moment 
Pope, Aragon, and Venice f ell a-quarreling over the divi- 
sion of the spoils. The battered Venetian Republic took note 
that her allies were not going to let her keep her position as 
a great power. And before her fate could be sealed by Ferdi- 
nand and the Pope, she joined in with that same France 
which, by the treaty of Cambrai, had sold her to almost the 
whole of Europe. 

In March, 1513, the Regent of the Netherlands was 
obliged to take stock of a complete shift in the relationships 
which her first interference in European history had tem- 
porarily brought about. Like a landslide of suspicion and 
hate, greed and jealousy, the consequences of her policy 
spread over the continent. She remembered her old enmity 
against the House of Valois, her father's hatred of the Vene- 
tians. Only one thing did she wish to rescue at any price, 
and that was the good understanding with England, where 
in 1509 young Henry VIII had succeeded his father. 

When she thought the right moment had come, Margaret 
did not hesitate to abandon totally the principles of that cre- 
ation of her own, the League of Cambrai. At her urgent 
request the Emperor finally broke his connection with 
France, and on April 5, 1513, a new treaty between Maxi- 
milian and Henry VIII, known as the League of Malines, in 
which the Pope and Ferdinand of Aragon also took part, 



258 The Chess Player 

came into being in Margaret's residence. The object of this 
alliance was a joint attack upon France. 

This time too it was apparent what interests the Regent 
of the Netherlands was defending in this her second venture 
into politics. The condition was expressly set that the Low 
Countries should remain neutral in this war against France, 
while furthermore a new armistice of four years was con- 
cluded with the still dangerous Charles of Gelre. Once again 
Margaret had acted in the spirit of the provinces entrusted to 
her care. The torch of war, set ablaze in Malines by the hand 
of the Dowager Duchess of Savoy, was to carry out its de- 
structive work beyond the boundaries of the Netherlands. 
And when the last visits of courtesy had been received, and 
the last baggage wagons of the special emissaries had rattled 
away over the cobblestones of Malines, the Regent could 
return to her more peaceful work: the daily burdens of gov- 
ernment and the care of her foster children, in whose hands 
lay the future of her House and of Europe. 



Belles parolles en paiernent 
A. ces mignons presumptieux 
Qui contref ont les amoureux 
Par beau, samblant et aultrement. 

Sans nul credo, mais promptement 
Donnes pour recompence a eulx 
Belles parolles. 

Mot pour mot:, c'est: fait justement, 
"Ling- pour ung, aussy deulx pour deulx: 
Se devis il font gracieulx 
Respondes gracieusement 
Belles parolles. 



Fair words in payment 
To those presumptuous charmers 
Who would lovers counterfeit 
By fine pretense and otherwise. 

"With credence none, but promptly 
Give for recompense to them 
Fair "words, 

\Vord for T?vord, 'tis done exactly, 
One for one, also two for trwoi 
If they converse with graciousness 
Do you graciously reply 
Fair words. 



CHAPTER SIX 

Bonne Tante 





"TNIPLOMATIC messages, missives to the Emperor, 
JL/ letters to commanders in the field and to ambassadors at 
foreign courts Margaret's secretaries knew no rest in those 
first years of her rule over the Netherlands. The days of the 
young Regent were as full as those of a modern prime min- 
ister. In contrast to her father, the Emperor, who was always 
roving around the Empire, Margaret did not leave her be- 
loved Malines save when it became necessary. Overburdened 
with work, she seldom found time for distraction, and only 
for short periods when the health of her foster children 
demanded it did she exchange the rather damp air of Malines 
for the wooded scenery of Brussels, where Monseigneur the 
Archduke Charles amused himself with hunting and archery. 
Margaret's program of work was organized on the strict- 
est principles and the Court of Savoy lived entirely in the 
rhythm set by her occupations. When Madame attended a 
meeting of her Privy Council a respectful silence reigned 
even in the inner courtyard of the palace, otherwise so full of 
animation. This council was the brain of Margaret's govern- 

161 



1 62 The Chess Player 

merit, and it was made up principally of old associates of hers 
who had followed her from Savoy to the Netherlands. 

From the President of the Council, Gattinara, a thor- 
oughly schooled government official, Margaret learned the 
practical technique that every head of a great office must 
command. In Savoy her occupations had been limited, and 
her chancery had been able to permit itself a certain dilet- 
tantism; but this was no longer possible in the Netherlands. 
Thus the Regent learned never to sign any letter that she had 
not read through, and to set up a copybook of outgoing 
letters, so that, particularly in her correspondence with the 
Emperor, she should not contradict herself. And when upon 
occasion in letters to her father she showed her feelings too 
clearly, her secretaries took care that such impolitic effusions 
were not sent out. A letter has been preserved from the first 
years of her regency, when its cares seemed insurmountable 
and revolt threatened even in the Low Countries; a pathetic 
letter in which her solicitous secretary, Marnix, replaced 
Margaret's despairing words by more measured terms. For 
could one allow the Regent to confess that she was mortally 
afraid at the angry words of her people? Or that she had 
incurred debts in order to cover expenditures? Or that she 
dreaded lest her worries make her sick? Or that she should 
express her sensation of helplessness by saying that many 
times she wished herself back in the womb of her mother 
"et vouldroie maintes fois estre au ventre de ma mere"? 

At first there may have been frequent alterations in the 
routine of Margaret's chancery, but in later years its activi- 
ties were regulated by fixed prescription. Twice a week at 
two o'clock in the afternoon the Privy Council, which con- 
sisted of some twelve members, met in a special room of the 



Notre Bonne Tante 

Court of Savoy in the presence of the Regent. All affairs to 
be dealt with were first submitted for Madame's judgment. 
In legal matters it was the decision of the whole Council that 
stood; but when mercy was to be exercised the Council 
simply laid its advice before the Regent and left the verdict 
to her discrimination. 

Every Saturday afternoon the secretaries handed over the 
decisions they had formulated to President Gattinara, who 
set the Regent's seal upon them. Thereafter the document 
was inscribed and finally signed by Margaret herself. Urgent 
affairs and secret political correspondence were entrusted 
to one of her secretaries who enjoyed her full confidence. 
And if in very special circumstances she did not wish to in- 
form even her most devoted associates of her plans, she 
wrote her letters in her own hand, in that rapid and intelli- 
gent script which even in moments of discouragement re- 
tained its strength and resilience. 

Certain members of the Privy Council formed a Financial 
Commission "les gens des Finances" who handled Mar- 
garet's private revenue from her Spanish and Savoyard 
dowers and controlled its expenditure. The commission had 
a separate office in the palace at Malines, and whenever the 
Regent journeyed elsewhere for a short time there appeared 
among her baggage two heavily ironbound trunks, which 
contained the papers relative to the financial management 
of her household. 

The house "la Maison de Madame" included that entire 
world of councilors, secretaries and clerks, clerics and artists, 
ladies and gentlemen in waiting, maids of honor and pages, 
with their personal servants and the domestic staff, who 
throughout the day filled the establishment with a colorful 



/ 64 The Chess flayer 

activity. Of the approximately 150 persons who formed the 
daily entourage of the Regent only a few lived in the palace. 
The rest were housed in the city, and when early in the 
morning the heavy gate that gave on the Keizerstraat was 
opened, the captain of the watch checked with great punctil- 
iousness the horde of clerks and servants that already 
thronged the street, waiting to be let in. 

From nine o'clock on, when the personnel went to its 
daily work, until the moment when the porter made the 
rounds of all offices to announce that closing time had come, 
a lively bustle filled the inner courtyard. Mounted messen- 
gers rode in and out, heavily laden carts came rolling across 
the pavement, and through the open doors of the service 
quarters one could see bakers, poulterers, and butchers at 
their work, while in the kitchens the fires were being laid and 
lit 

It was customary for the personnel that lived outside to 
take their midday meal in the palace, so that the archducal 
household had to handle a table d'hote of 150 persons after 
twelve o'clock noon. They did not all sit down to table at 
the same time, but in groups constituted according to strict- 
est etiquette. The table at which one ate "le plat", as it was 
termed was the measure of dignity at the court of the 
Regent of the Netherlands, as at all ruling courts. 

Madame went first to table, in company with her Grand 
Mistress. If royal guests were present or ambassadors from 
foreign powers who deserved this honor as representatives 
of their masters, they sat down with the Regent. "Le plat de 
Madame" had first choice from the elaborate menu, which 
consisted largely of meat dishes and game, with pastries 



Notre Bonne Tante 165 

("oublies"), fruit, and cheese to follow. Plates were seldom 
used, forks not at all, and for this reason bread was a very- 
important aid. The regulations of 1 5 2 5 for "les plats de 1'hotel 
de Madame" prescribe that at her midday meal she should 
receive four rolls to eat ("pains de bouche") and six pieces of 
brown bread for plates ("pour ses assietes") . Her Grand Mis- 
tress, however, had to do with less. For her were prescribed 
one pain de bouche and one plate of brown bread ("une 
assiete de pain bis")* 

What remained of Madame's dinner was eaten by the 
nobles on duty, the "maitres d'hotel", as they were called, 
after they had first served the meal of their mistress. Upon 
this followed a "plat" for the ladies in waiting, one for the 
maids and female servants of the Grand Mistress, and one for 
the keepers of the wardrobe, who ate simultaneously but at 
different tables. And after that all sorts of people had their 
turn, valets, porters, clerks, menservants, the tailor, and the 
drummer. 

With this prescribed hierarchy no interference was 
brooked, and if certain nobles sometimes took the liberty of 
having a table set up in their own quarters, they were pun- 
ished with "1'indignacion de Madame" and were suspended 
from their functions for one month. 

The same strict household etiquette prescribed that the 
gentlemen in waiting themselves should serve Madame and 
should not leave this task to their assistants, unless they were 
ill or had leave of absence. The baker must make the pastry 
for Madame with his own hands and himself bring it to the 
kitchens. If he sent it by a boy, the chief cook must refuse to 
receive it. Nor could the valets on watch in the private apart- 



1 66 The Chess flayer 

ments of the Regent leave their duty to a lesser servant if 
Madame wished to retire, or eat alone in her room, or if she 
was not dressed or felt indisposed. 

"La Chambre de Madame" this was the sanctuary to 
which only a few privileged persons penetrated, where 
Margaret found rest and refreshment after the fatiguing 
burdens of her rule. Entering here, she, around whose heart 
the loneliness of her office and her widowhood often seemed 
to draw an iron band, was no longer alone. There were al- 
ways the dogs, who sprang up from the white cloth cushions 
in the corners of the room to greet her with wagging of tails. 
The guinea pig she had once bought from a Frenchman for 
not less than ten pounds came nuzzling for her caresses. The 
green parrot whistled in coaxing tones from his great cage, 
and from a spacious aviary came a continual piping and flut- 
tering of the other little birds that were in the chamber of 
my lady "aultres oyseletz estans en la chambre de madite 
dame". 

The creatures were Margaret's comfort. Their depend- 
ence, their need for affection, filled a void of which she was 
often bitterly aware. Their playful unconcern could bring 
back her laughter, which amid all her problems she was in 
danger of forgetting. She was grateful for their gratitude, 
and found time to look after them in the midst of her most 
pressing business. And with tender patience she would lay 
the green cloth over the bird cages when sometimes the twit- 
tering disturbed her too much. 

Before the wood fire in her bedroom with its green taffeta 
hangings, or in the stately luxury of her "librarye", where 
ancestral and family portraits hung between the lecterns 
with precious manuscripts, Margaret forgot her daily care, 



Notre Bonne Xante i6j 

losing herself in ancient romances, the works of the classic 
writers, the lives of the saints. On the blue and yellow 
damask walls of her sitting room hung the paintings that 
time and again brought her delight, the luminous tenderness 
of Jan van Eyck, the worldly graciousness of Memlinc, the 
piety of Rogier van der Weyden, the disturbing fantasies of 
Hieronimus Bosch. When in the intimacy of her writing 
room she sat in the black velvet seat at her ivory writing case 
to busy herself with her private correspondence, the heaviest 
cares fell from her in the atmosphere of this little museum. 
And then she would invite her Grand Mistress or one of her 
ladies in waiting, and would take from the cupboard the old 
painted box with the chess game of chalcedony and jasper 
"de casydoine et de jaspe" or perhaps the silver chessboard 
with the silver and gilt pieces. Then silence reigned in 
Madame's cabinet, among the rich tapestries. And with 
cautious movements, lest the wide ermine sleeves of her black 
velvet tabard disturb the positions of the game, her dark 
eyes in her pale nun's face fixed in tense concentration on 
the priceless figures, Madame would play the game of perspi- 
cacity and calculation that was so closely related to her polit- 
ical activity in the world of Europe, of which she could now, 
by a single move, influence the future. 

But the pieces in the European game were not of jasper 
nor of silver. What Margaret manipulated with the same 
circumspect moves in this chess tournament were the lives 
of the three little girls who lived with their brother, Mon- 
seigneur the Archduke of Austria, in the old imperial palace 
opposite the Court of Savoy. Monseigneur himself, the pale, 
slender boy with the sleepy little face, was, as future head 
of the House of Habsburg-Burgundy, the most important 



1 68 The Chess Player 

piece in the game; he must be most circumspectly handled 
and in his service the defenseless little pawns, "Alienor, 
Ysabeau, Marie", might be sacrificed if necessary. 

In Margaret of York's modest little palace in the narrow 
Keizerstraat, close by the bastions of Malines, the four chil- 
dren, "our Malines descendants" "nostre lignaige de Ma- 
lines" as their grandfather Maximilian called them, lived 
in a conventual seclusion. The fact that their aunt, the Dow- 
ager Duchess of Savoy, came to occupy the building oppo- 
site their palace seemed at first to have scarcely any effect on 
the imperturbable uniformity of their lives. On their parents' 
departure for Spain they had been confided to the care of 
Anna de Beaumont, one of their mother's Spanish ladies in 
waiting who, already at the birth of the heir to the throne, 
had taken over the task of the melancholic Archduchess 
Juana. She was at the same time Grand Mistress of the House 
to the royal children, for although they were still in the care 
of nurses and "cradle rockers", Alienor and Charles, Ysabeau 
and Marie lived in royal state and their court was conducted 
according to the same protocol that was in force in Mar- 
garet's establishment. 

But the two eldest in particular, Alienor and Charles, were 
soon to notice that with the coming of their aunt something 
in their lives really had changed. Margaret, who had known 
only the sorrows of motherhood, bent over the little orphans 
who were the future of her House with a protective tender- 
ness. Their sicknesses, the measles and die much-dreaded 
smallpox, gave her anxious days in the midst of her problems 
during those first years of her rule, and her letters to her 
father are full of solicitous reports about his grandchildren. 
She seldom took a decision without consulting Maximilian, 



Notre Bonne Xante 169 

and he on his side showed a boundless interest and concern 
for his grandson and the little princesses, whom in his awk- 
ward French he was accustomed to allude to as his "very 
dear little girls" "noz petites et tres chieres filles". In the 
midst of his endless campaigns, in encampments before the 
walls of beleaguered cities, scarcely recovered from some 
exciting battle, Maximilian takes pen in hand to warn his 
daughter that she must not admit to the presence of Mon- 
seigneur a doctor who belongs to the much-hated and dan- 
gerous Venetian people; or to express his joy that young 
Charles is making such good progress in the noble sport of 
hunting for were this not so, writes the Emperor, it might 
be thought that the boy was a bastard and not the real grand- 
child of his grandfather, the hunter par excellence. 

Maximilian did not need to fear, in any case, that his 
daughter would not watch over the royal children as over 
her most precious possession. He knew that she, like him- 
self, had only one aim left in life: the greatness of the House 
of Habsburg, a greatness that was dependent upon the future 
of these children. 

With the passing of the years Margaret's attachment to 
her foster children grew. When in 1511 the war with Gel- 
derland claimed all her attention and she went to inspect the 
troops that were going to fight the rebel in the north, she left 
her pupils behind in Malines with great concern. She had 
enjoined upon the governors of this faithful city that they 
must take particular care during her absence that nothing 
should happen to the children, she wrote to her father, for 
nowadays one did not know on whom one could rely "car 
aujorduy Ton ne scet en cuy Ton se doit fier". Margaret 
knew too well the political methods of her contemporaries 



2 jo The Chess Player 

not to fear for her children, for Charles, in whom they al- 
ready dreaded the prospective ruler over two continents, for 
the little princesses who would one day divide between them 
the disposable crowns of Europe and would make Margaret 
"bonne tante" to practically all the ruling houses. Trembling 
for her precious charges, Margaret left Malines, and was not 
at rest until she had returned and found that no incident had 
disturbed the peace of the imperial court. 

With the same care that she expended on the present of 
her foster children, Margaret attempted to prepare their 
future. She who herself had been the victim of that cus- 
tom of her time which a French historian has rightly called 
"a trade in princesses" "traite de princesses", proved to be a 
good pupil of Maximilian, whose policy was always based on 
marriage, his own and that of others. It seemed as though the 
Regent had forgotten what the woman had suffered, and the 
terms in which Margaret corresponded with her father about 
the alliances of her small nieces leave nothing to be desired in 
cruel directness. 

Already in 1509 the Dowager Queen of Portugal had ap- 
proached Margaret with the proposition that the young son 
of the reigning Portuguese king should marry her eldest 
foster child, Madame Alienor, with whom he would match 
very well in age the children were both ten years old or 
perhaps Madame Ysabeau who, however, was only just 
turned eight. Furthermore they might also negotiate a mar- 
riage between Madame Marie and one of the other young 
sons of the king, who, Margaret wrote to Maximilian, "I 
understand has three or four". "Monseigneur", she added, 
"in view of the small number of princes at present alive, and 



Notre Bonne Tante 271 

the wealth of the King of Portugal, I believe it would be 
sensible to conclude one of these two marriages, or both, if 
you agree, and you would still have two of my lady nieces 
to make another alliance elsewhere" "et encoires aures 
deux de mesdames mes niepces pour en faire allieurs autre 
allience". 

Nothing came of these intentions, however. For the Em- 
peror already had other plans for little Mary, and in her 
seventh year she was actually betrothed to the Crown Prince 
of Bohemia and Hungary. The little princess Alienor, it is 
true, was still available, but Maximilian wanted to postpone 
the move he intended to make with this eldest granddaughter 
for very well-considered reasons. The good "grandfather of 
Austria" possessed four granddaughters and herein foresaw 
the possibility that one day, if heaven still granted him a 
number of years, all heirs to European thrones would call 
him great-grandfather. There were three crowns from 
among which he wished to choose for Alienor: those of 
France, England, and Poland. But alas, at the moment they 
still adorned three other female heads and therefore grand- 
father Maximilian could not decide about Alienor's future 
until one of these three queens should have exchanged the 
temporal for the eternal. Thus for the time being there could 
be no question of a Portuguese marriage. 

Madame Ysabeau, however, who in 1509 was in any case 
too young to be reserved for the French or English widower- 
in-spe, was nevertheless married off a few years later to a 
ruler twenty-two years older than she: Christian II, King 
of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. 

Christian had given his emissary the commission in the 
first place to sue for the hand of Alienor, and only if that did 



1*12 The Chess Player . . 

not appear possible to ask the younger princess Ysabeau in 
marriage. Since Alienor was waiting for the sound of the 
funeral bells for the queen of either France or England, it 
was in fact her thirteen-year-old sister who had to pay with 
her happiness, even with her life, for Maximilian's marriage 
policy. 

After Christian's representatives had asked Maximilian 
for the hand of his granddaughter they departed for Brussels, 
where the Regent of the Netherlands was staying. And when 
the necessary formalities had been carried out, the ambassa- 
dors requested that the marriage should be performed by 
proxy on the following day, a Sunday, since their master, 
King Christian, was then celebrating the anniversary of his 
coronation. 

To stage a royal wedding ceremony within twenty-four 
hours was no simple task, and Margaret furthermore feared 
lest the honor of the House be not fully and properly com- 
plied with. But she also understood the importance for the 
future if Christian's coronation day coincided with his 
wedding day. 

The following morning the ceremony was carried out in 
the great hall of the palace in Brussels, and with motherly 
pride Margaret reported to the Emperor the details of the 
marriage of Ysabeau, her niece, who was certainly good to 
look at "ma niepce, laquelle certes il faisoit bon veoir". 

Anxiously brief though the time for preparation had been, 
the imperial honor had not suffered. The foreign ambassa- 
dors had been given their rightful places at dinner, to the 
satisfaction of all concerned, and after the gala supper there 
had been dancing in expectation of the symbolic ceremony 
that would end the day. Like her Aunt Margaret before her, 



Notre Bonne Tante 773 

the thirteen-year-old "dame des nopces" had stretched her- 
self upon a bed of state and the ambassador of King Christian 
had laid himself down beside her, one leg bared, as was cus- 
tomary among great princes "comme il est accoustume 
f aire entre grands princes". 

Her grandfather might be convinced that her marriage 
with "the Nero of the North" would bring honor and ad- 
vantage to the House of Habsburg and be welcome to the 
Burgundians through the good commercial relations it would 
create; to the little blue-eyed princess it brought only the 
bitterest suffering, the most cruel humiliation. When at the 
age of fifteen the little Queen made her entry at the court 
of Copenhagen, she discovered that her husband, her senior 
by twenty-two years, whose wild leonine appearance terri- 
fied her, was the slave of two women, mother and daughter, 
of Netherlands origin. They were Duiveke, his mistress, and 
her mother Siegebritte Willems, the real ruler of Scandi- 
navia. How should Ysabeau, timid and gentle child that she 
was, have been able to win a place for herself in this atmos- 
phere? 

The degrading treatment meted out to his grandchild was 
not concealed from the Emperor, and he sent a special envoy 
to Copenhagen to make Christian see the error of his ways. 
But the fate of the little Queen was not improved by the fact 
that her husband, his fists clenched in anger, had to listen 
to the truth in a lecture from an imperial ambassador. Even 
the death of the royal mistress, Duiveke, brought no amelio- 
ration for Ysabeau. Her first born, Crown Prince Johan, was 
taken from her by Christian to be brought up by Siegebritte. 
Powerless to stand up for her most elementary rights, Ysa- 
beau pined away in loneliness and mortification. 



The Chess Player 

Those who were finally to take her part only increased 
her sorrows. In the spring of 1523 Christian's subjects re- 
belled against the disgraceful regime of Siegebritte, protest- 
ing against the shame brought upon their innocent Queen. 
Jutland and Sweden revolted, and the Danish nobility even 
went so far as to depose the King. 

Had the gentle Ysabeau possessed the character of her 
aunt, the Regent of the Netherlands, she could undoubtedly 
have taken the government of the Scandinavian kingdoms 
into her own hands in the name of her small son. But Ysa- 
beau, will-less and broken, no longer had the strength to be 
independent, and she followed her husband into exile. Their 
flight brought them with their children to the Netherlands, 
where Ysabeau found protection and comfort with her Aunt 
Margaret and where her husband hoped to find support from 
his brother-in-law Charles, the mightiest ruler in Europe, 
who since 1519 had been Emperor of the Holy Roman 
Empire* 

But Margaret was unable to do much more for her un- 
fortunate young niece, whose delicate health had been de- 
stroyed through anxiety and humiliation, whose resistance 
had been broken by years of loneliness. She languished and 
died in the land where, under the care of her good aunt, the 
few happy years of her brief life had been spent. 

After the tragic death of the Queen of Denmark disturb- 
ing rumors went the rounds of Europe. It was whispered that 
the young Queen, sister of the Emperor himself, under 
pressure from her husband had become converted to the 
abominable heresies of Martin Luther, of whom Christian 



Notre Bonne Tante 775 

was a follower. What would happen to Ysabeau's children? 
Was there really a possibility that the nephew and nieces of 
the Emperor might be lost to the true faith and become 
weapons in the fight which the disaffected German princes 
were carrying on against him? 

Christian understood to the full the significance his chil- 
dren could have for his brother-in-law, the Defender of the 
Church, and no one more clearly realized this fact than the 
Regent of the Netherlands. After endless negotiations, 
which Christian repeatedly tried to escape by fleeing with 
his precious children to Germany, Margaret finally suc- 
ceeded in literally buying the little prince and the two little 
princesses from their father. She paid Christian's debts and 
granted him a yearly stipend of fifteen hundred guilders, in 
return for which she acquired the right to take Ysabeau's 
children to live with her and be brought up under her guid- 
ance. Now again Margaret took pity on three deserted 
youngsters, once more the voices of children resounded in 
the halls of the old palace. 

Before poor Ysabeau had gone to meet her fate, her 
younger sister, the Archduchess Mary, had already left the 
familiar surroundings of Malines as the bride of the Crown 
Prince of Bohemia and Hungary, to find a future in the most 
easterly outpost of Christian Europe. After her young hus- 
band had lost his life in the war with the Turks, she too was 
to return to the Low Countries, whither her brother, the 
Emperor, called her in 153 1 to succeed her Aunt Margaret. 
Beside the frail Ysabeau in her tragic submissiveness, her 
sister Mary appears like a strong blond amazon in the history 



The Chess Player 

of the Netherlands: a woman who had the strength to be 
herself in a world that sought to use her and her kind simply 
as instruments of policy. 

In the summer of 1516 only the two eldest children of 
Philip the Handsome and Juana of Aragon remained behind 
in the Netherlands. The harmonious atmosphere of the 
"Keizerhof", where they had spent their youthful years in 
the charge of their "Tame et Bonne Mere", had in more than 
one respect been broken up, and not alone through the de- 
parture of the two princesses. Between Monseigneur the 
Archduke Charles, who in January, 1515, had been declared 
of age, and the woman who for years had worked for his 
future according to the best of her knowledge, a wall of 
suspicion and jealousy had risen, built of thwarted ambition 
and an urge for independence. What Margaret had sensed at 
the beginning of her regime had become a fact: her foster son 
had turned away from her under the influence of the nation- 
alist Burgundian nobles and of his tutor Chievres, to whom 
he clung with boyish devotion. 

When Margaret took up her office in the Netherlands in 
1507 she had immediately been aware of opposition from 
the man whom her brother Philip had appointed governor 
of the Burgundian provinces upon his departure for Spain: 
William of Croy, Sieur de Chievres. He was at this time 
already forty-nine years old, a considerable age in those days 
for a statesman who had until this moment been little to the 
fore. His family tradition made him the leader of the French- 
minded nationalists at the Burgundian court, of the feudal 
nobility that was always ready to oppose the centralizing 
authority of the dukes, and especially where this authority 




Musee 'Royal des Beaux Arts, 

Margaret of Austria, by Barend van Orley. 




Cnaitlime Jtaim, 



Charles V as a Boy, by Conrad Meit 



Notre Bonne Tmte 777 

had, through the marriage of Mary, the last Burgundian 
ruler, come into the hands of the House of Habsburg, which 
in Netherlands eyes always represented foreign interests. 

Thus Margaret, who before all wished to serve the future 
of her dynasty and who in her personal life had had the worst 
experiences with the French royal house, promptly found 
herself opposite this man who feared her rule would cause 
the end of his own political objectives and whom the death 
of Philip the Handsome had deprived of his office of Gov- 
ernor. 

But it appeared that Margaret was not willing to be exclu- 
sively her father's tool. Her insight into the demands of real- 
ity speedily convinced her that her country needed peace 
with France as well as with England. She set herself to make 
her influence a factor of balance between the two great 
powers that were her neighbors. And her rapprochement 
with France, which took shape in the League of Cambrai, 
signified at the same time a rapprochement with the opposi- 
tion in the Netherlands, with Chievres himself, who shortly 
after Margaret's triumph was appointed first chamberlain 
and tutor to Monseigneur Charles. 

For the development of the prospective ruler of the Span- 
ish-German world empire the politically inspired choice of 
Chievres was extraordinarily fortunate. For Charles's char- 
acter bore the stigma of an inner discord which caused him 
always to vacillate between the somewhat indolent passivity 
that seemed to be his most common characteristic in child- 
hood and the sudden flashes of impatience which, according 
to the perspicacious Venetian ambassador Quirino, made 
him resemble Charles the Bold of Burgundy. His childish 
moods alternated between a sleepy apathy and fits of tern- 



The Chess Player 

per which made him wholly uncontrollable. His physique 
seemed still further to accentuate this incongruity. The 
hereditary peculiarity displayed in his prominent lower jaw 
hindered him in his speech, and this defect was aggravated 
by his short thick tongue, which made articulation difficult. 
In repose Monseigneur's too pale, too long and narrow face 
with the always open mouth and the eyes which, as a spiteful 
ambassador remarked, looked as if they had been stuck on 
and did not belong to him, sometimes caused his entourage 
to fear that this heir to the imperial throne was neither men- 
tally nor physically equal to his great task. 

The contradiction in Charles's nature found in the ripe 
wisdom of his tutor the support he needed to help him out- 
grow the threat of a lasting inner disharmony. Chievres, for 
whom even the sharp pens of foreign diplomats found only 
kind words and whom they characterized as gentle and kind, 
surrounded his pupil with that unflagging and yet respectful 
affection necessary to overcome ^Charles's uncertainty and to 
use the contradictory tendencies in his character. And 
though Chievres knew that the Regent was still not entirely 
won over, so that there always remained that contrast be- 
tween their views which was one day to end in a total break, 
he could but appreciate her wholehearted devotion to the 
interests of Monseigneur. He shared her anxious concern for 
their charge's feeble health, and his letters to her are full of 
details about the boy's life. He has a pain in his leg, but when 
the doctors come whom Chievres hastily summoned, he 
suddenly feels better. He is indisposed and goes early to bed, 
but next day he is gay again and goes with the princesses at 
midday to the Count of Nassau, who had prepared a veri- 
table feast for his young guests, and the prince has suffered 



Notre Bonne Xante 

no harm as a result. The Regent often passes these reports 
on to Grandfather Maximilian, and when Monseigneur the 
Archduke has danced too long at the marriage feast of his 
sister Ysabeau and is obliged to stay in bed next day with 
a temperature, daily couriers hasten through Europe with 
letters from Margaret, because even a slight illness in the 
person of such a prince gives one cause to think "pour ce 
que, en la personne d'ung tel prince ne peult avoir si petite 
maladie, qui ne f asse bien a penser". The future of the House 
depended on this, alas, rather weak boy and Margaret had 
seen stronger young princes removed from the scene by 
sudden fevers. And when Monseigneur is well again after 
ten days his aunt hastens to announce the fact to the Emperor 
in order to relieve him of all anxiety "pour vous mectre 
hors de toute melancholic", as she writes. 

So Charles grew up under the care of his aunt and the 
sympathetic and enlightened guidance of his kind and ami- 
able tutor. Though still a child, he was treated as the real 
sovereign, and therefore also he was included as much as 
possible in all ceremonies at which his aunt appeared as his 
representative. She knew she was only the servant of his 
future, and once when she showed the young Archduke to 
a number of officers who were leaving for the war in Gelder- 
land, she exclaimed with truly feudal pride: "Gentlemen, 
see for whom you take up arms!" "Messieurs, voyez pour 
qui vous prenez les armes! " 

So long as the League of Cambrai preserved the appear- 
ance of harmony between France and Habsburg-Burgundy, 
the struggle between the Regent and the tutor of Monsei- 
gneur consisted merely of hurt feelings and politely disguised 
unpleasant remarks. But it was sharpened when Margaret 



iSo The Chess flayer 

felt that the time had come to sacrifice this creation of hers 
for that other combination, more in accord with her personal 
preference, namely, the League of Malines, between the 
Emperor, Henry VIII of England, Ferdinand of Aragon, 
and the Pope. This mighty coalition was clearly directed 
against France, the country that at heart she still considered 
as the natural enemy of Burgundy and Habsburg, since it had 
always threatened the safety of Monseigneur's Low Coun- 
tries and laid claim to Naples and Sicily, to Monseigneur's 
Spanish inheritance, and to Milan, border territory of the 
Austrian lands. Thus politically the Regent found herself 
once more in conflict with Chievres, while on the other hand 
she saw his influence on young Charles increasing daily. 

In the beginning it looked as if Margaret would emerge 
victorious from this struggle. The year 1513 saw her at the 
apex of her career. This seemed to be the moment when 
France should be rendered powerless for good. Henry VIII, 
young and wealthy, longed to dazzle Europe by the bril- 
liance of his exploits. The title of King of France he could 
merely dig up from the treasuries of English royal tradition, 
and Margaret did not grudge the vain young fellow, who 
was in a position to give the Emperor subsidies to support 
the Netherlands in the war against Gelderland, this high- 
sounding if somewhat insubstantial satisfaction. Henry 
might call himself whatever he chose, it was more important 
that he crossed the channel with an impressive and well-paid 
army to put Margaret's theory into practice. And that 
Henry turned his expedition into a demonstration of his own 
splendor could only add luster to the common cause. Power 
must be visible and audible. Therefore the sails of Henry's 
ship were of cloth of gold, and they sparkled in the summer 



Notre Bonne Tante 181 

sun above the light-green, white-foaming water. A fleet of 
small cargo boats, laden with the costly trappings that 
Henry considered necessary for this his first European ap- 
pearance, sailed ahead of the royal flagship. 

The Emperor decided to go in person to bask in the glow 
shed by his "son" of England with his golden hair and his 
iingling gold pieces. And his daughter, seeing her dearest 
wish fulfilled a meeting between her ally and her father 
ioyfully declared in one of her letters that this made her 
happier than anything that could have befallen her in this 

wor j ( j "j'ay este si joieuse que de chose qui m'eust sceu 

advenir en ce monde". 

Gray-haired Maximilian appeared on the scene of battle 
like a legendary king. Without an army, accompanied only 
by a small suite, he had traveled north in rapid day journeys. 
There at Guinegate, a battlefield where as a young and 
radiant bridegroom he had achieved his first victory against 
the arch-enemies of the House of Burgundy, he suddenly 
appeared, bareheaded and mysterious, in the midst of the 
German mercenaries the English king had taken into his 
service. Those who did not recognize him by the graying 
hair that flowed down to his shoulders, grasped the truth 
when they saw the imperial standard, a black eagle on a gold 
ground waving against the blue of the summer sky. The 
Emperor himself! A joyous cry of "Long live the Emperor! " 
went through the German ranks. The English took it over 
and the French, who heard the shouts" and recognized the 
standard, could hardly believe their eyes and ears. The Em- 
peror himself! 

The French were put to flight. Therouanne was taken. 
The cannon founded in Malines, affectionately called "the 



The Chess Player 

twelve apostles of King Henry", bombarded Tournai. The 
city capitulated. The combined English and German arms 
seemed to be blessed by divine favor, but not so the English- 
German friendship for which Margaret had hoped. Like a 
condottiere without an army, the Emperor had put himself 
at the command of his "son", the English King, and thus 
the head of Christendom stood subservient to a young ruler 
who ought to have ranked beneath him. The English sub- 
sidies paid to Maximilian made it appear that the Emperor 
of the Holy Roman Empire was accepting pay from Henry 
and countless spiteful insinuations went the rounds. And 
Henry, with his resounding title of King of France, had him- 
self acclaimed in Tournai by his new subjects in total dis- 
regard of the wishes of his grizzled brother-in-arms, who 
would gladly have added that city to Burgundy. 

Once again Maximilian remembered the diplomatic talent 
of his daughter, and he requested her to come and greet the 
English king at Tournai. Margaret, for whatever reasons, 
made certain objections to this plan. If her father thought 
that she could be of service to him by coming, she was pre- 
pared to do whatever he wished, but otherwise it was not 
for a widowed woman to trot about visiting armies for pleas- 
ure, this thirty-three-year-old widow felt "mais sans cella 
ce n'est le cas de f emme vef ve de troter et aller visiter arm6es 
pour le plesir". But Maximilian's will was her law, and at the 
end of September the Regent traveled to Tournai in the 
company of numerous ladies in waiting and damoiselles, who 
on their side cannot have taken the objections of their mis- 
tress too seriously. All Europe was talking of the gallant 
English king, of the brilliance of his court festivities, the 
lavishness of his hospitality, the good looks of his young 



Notre Bonne Tante 183 

English officers. Margaret's ladies had nothing against "trot- 
ting about visiting armies for pleasure". 

Nor had they expected too much from their trip. Never 
before had Tournai, accustomed to the luxury of its rich 
merchants, looked upon so much wealth as in those sunny 
September days of 1513 when the Emperor, the King of 
England "and France", the Regent of the Netherlands, and 
the Archduke of Austria gathered inside its walls. For the 
thirteen-year-old Charles had followed his aunt, and the 
serious pale boy was the center of all attention, more even 
than Maximilian, who purposely withdrew from the showy 
exhibition, more even than Henry VIII himself, who, in his 
crackling golden-yellow satin, his plumed bonnet on his 
round blond head, rode ostentatiously through the streets 
of defeated Tournai upon a charger jingling with gold chains 
and little silver bells. In the slight figure of the young Arch- 
duke, dressed in plain dark velvet, the people saw the future 
ruler over ten kingdoms, over two world empires, and the 
trumpets that announced his arrival created a silence more 
impressive than all Henry's barbaric clatter. 

Although she still did not exchange her widow's cap for 
any more worldly headdress even on these very festive days, 
the Regent of the Netherlands did appear at Henry's luxu- 
rious feasts in richer dress than had been her custom of recent 
years. With all the tact at her command she sought to restore 
the harmony that Maximilian had not been able to preserve, 
and her brocade tabards, her priceless jewels, the elegance 
of her ladies in waiting, were so many weapons on her side 
in this battle of ingratiation. It cost Margaret no effort to 
enchant her young and easily flattered host. She, who had 
loved Philibert the Handsome for his blond youth, knew 



184 The Chess Player 

by nature what the twenty-two-year-old Henry would 
like to hear from the lips of a witty and attractive woman. 
And the young Englishmen accompanying the King dis- 
covered that the Regent could smile most endearingly, 
though they understood nothing of the rapid French of her 
quips and jests. 

One of them, the Master of the Horse Charles Brandon, 
surrounded her in these days with daring attentions which 
the jovial Henry loudly applauded and which Margaret 
accepted with amused indulgence. One evening, after sup- 
per, when Henry in Margaret's presence encouraged his 
enamored friend to go ahead and ask the charming Regent 
in marriage, the seductive Charles knelt at her feet and took 
from her one of her rings. 

"Thief!" Margaret joked with a smile to Henry, who was 
gleefully watching this scene. But Brandon understood no 
French and one of the Flemish ladies in waiting had to be 
called to make clear to him that Madame had scolded him for 
a thief. Despite Margaret's protest that the ring was too well 
known, Brandon kept it until Margaret, not wishing to be- 
come seriously angry lest she spoil Henry's childish pleasure, 
had given him another ring instead. 

The little scene had not escaped the all-seeing eyes of the 
courtiers and the rumor that Madame had at last decided 
to bid her widow's weeds farewell made a sensation of the 
first order in international society. And this for the sake of 
Brandon, the son, it was whispered, of Henry's nurse! 

Though Margaret had still frequently to combat this 
persistent rumor, she had not in vain used her charms in sup- 
port of her politics. Henry VIII had forgotten his annoyance 
with Maximilian, and after Margaret had invited him to leave 



Notre Bonne T&nte 

his "kingdom" to be her guest in Lille, she was able to win 
him over to the extent of signing a treaty that fell in with 
her own political wishes. Money for the upkeep of troops 
during the winter, agreement to a second attack on France 
in the coming year and to a new meeting with Maximilian 
and Margaret to celebrate the marriage between Archduke 
Charles and Henry's sister, Mary Tudor Madame had only 
to mention these things and Henry agreed. 

Margaret's fame as a diplomat was more brilliant than 
ever. Yet now a new turn of the fateful wheel of fortune 
was to bring her, after these triumphs, the bitterest disap- 
pointments. 



Tousjour loyal, quoy que advienne, 
En tout et partout rhomme doit estre, 
Tant soit il seculier ou prestre; 
Droit dit que loyalte Ton tienne. 

Dieu veult, certes, qu'on s'entretienne, 
En fortune bonne ou senestre, 
Tousjour loyal. 

Pouser le cas qui mesavienne 
Et que le tout ne vient a dextre, 
Je ne scay mieux du monde en Festre 
Pour I'homme, f ors qu'i se mentienne 
Tousjour loyal. 



Always loyal, whatever comes, 
In all and everywhere man must be, 
Whether secular or priest; 
Right bids one to keep loyalty. 

God wills, for sure, that we remain, 
In fortune good or sinister, 
Always loyal. 

Suppose the case of misadventure 
Where all does not come right, I know 
Nothing better in the world 
For man than to maintain himself 
Always loyal. 



CHAPTER SEVEN 

The Roman Crown 




THE triumphant days in Tournai and Lille, when Mar- 
garet had managed to leave her stamp on the future of 
Europe's international politics, appeared to have given her 
some of the overboldness characteristic of the young Kong of 
England. In Lille she had succeeded in all her efforts, and 
these achievements in foreign fields seemed to have blinded 
her to the serious problems of her domestic government, 
which, as the years went by, had become more and more 
threatening. 

While she possessed really sovereign power, Monseigneur 
the Archduke Charles, living opposite her in Malines in the 
"Keizerhof ", which resembled a cloister rather than a royal 
residence, would in the near future be taking over that power 
from her. Those who sought to play a role at Margaret's 
court, to set their mark on men and events, to capture their 
share of the power over which Monseigneur would one day 
have control, looked upon the young Archduke as the future 
itself. Whoever controlled Charles had the fate of Europe in 
his hands. Whomever Charles wished to follow, two con- 
tinents would obey. 

187 



i8S The Chess Player 

Hence behind the scenes of that feudal stage on which 
Charles lived his life of a sovereign-to-be, a struggle was 
being waged for the possession of this boy, and the parties 
to it were the same that were fighting each other in the great 
European tournament: France, Spain and the Habsburgs, 
England and Burgundy. Between them stood the Regent, 
Burgundian by birth, Habsburg in her politics, related to 
Spain and materially dependent on Ferdinand's favor, feared 
by France and for economic and traditional reason allied 
with England. And still the one plea of her subjects was for 
peace. 

For a short time at least the Treaty of Cambrai had estab- 
lished a balance between the contending interests. The 
House of Habsburg ruled over Monseigneur and his Low 
Countries in the person of the Regent. France was pacified. 
Chievres, leader of the Burgundian national party, occupied 
the most important function of tutor to the prince. He 
shared his apartments, even his bedroom. Though his influ- 
ence was subordinate to that of Madame, it was Chievres 
who was molding the still formless character of Monseigneur 
to the shape he thought best for him. In Spain, Ferdinand 
was for the moment satisfied with the regency of Castile. 
Relations with England had been settled by the betrothal 
of Archduke Charles to Princess Mary Tudor, sister of 
Henry VIII. 

But this treaty had been only a temporary arrangement. 
It was shipwrecked on its own success and the Holy 
League between the Pope, Aragon, and Venice against Louis 
XII was the result. Nor did this Holy League survive success. 
Venice deserted her allies and joined with France once more. 
It was at this moment, in the spring of 1513, that Margaret 



The Roman Crown 189 

considered the time ripe for dealing Louis a crushing blow. 
After the victories of her English ally it also seemed to her 
a good moment to restrict the French influence in her own 
government, to eliminate it if possible. Chievres, Charles's 
tutor, must be rendered powerless. 

His party carried on a strong opposition to Margaret's 
politics, particularly since she had taken up with greater 
energy the struggle against that outpost of France, Charles 
of Gelre. It consisted of the Burgundian feudal lords who 
saw in Margaret primarily the representative of alien Habs- 
burg, and who looked forward eagerly to the moment when 
Archduke Charles should be declared of age and freed from 
the regency of his grandfather and his aunt. Margaret knew 
that this moment was very near: according to Burgundian 
custom, on the fifteenth birthday of the young ruler. The 
more necessary was it therefore to remove him beforehand 
from the pro-French, anti-Habsburg influences of Chievres 
and his followers, to win him over definitely for her own 
policy, so that Charles should continue even after his eman- 
cipation in the direction that Margaret wished to select for 
him. 

Her meeting with the young and triumphant Henry VIII 
presented her with a means of undermining Chievres' au- 
thority without removing him from office. She had a new or- 
dinance drawn up concerning the "gouvernement de la 
personne" of the young Archduke because, as she wrote 
Maximilian, the King of Aragon had complained that he had 
no way of exerting any influence on the boy for whom he 
was conducting the regency in Castile. To meet this legiti- 
mate objection it was now decided that the Emperor, the 
King of Aragon, and the King of England should each ap- 



290 The Chess Player 

point a good man "ung bon personnaige" who should 
be given the competency of a first lord in waiting at Charles's 
court and for this purpose should dispose of a key to the 
archducal apartments. One of them should sleep, together 
with Chievres, in Charles's bedroom. The trio should, more- 
over, attend all private meetings of the Council in short, no 
single detail of Charles's private life and of the actions of his 
government should remain unknown to them. 

This ordinance, published in the presence of Henry VIII 
in Lille, meant practically the elimination of Chievres, whose 
party thereupon made indignant protests to Maximilian. But 
the Regent stood her ground. She had not yet completed the 
execution of her program for protecting her authority over 
Monseigneur. Still other influences working against her 
policy must be removed. 

Besides the friendship with England, Margaret's efforts 
in recent years for a better understanding between the two 
grandfathers of her pupil, Ferdinand of Aragon and the 
Emperor, had apparently met with success. But Ferdinand 
had been the first to withdraw, through Pope Julius II, from 
the League of Cambrai. And although he was included in 
Margaret's plan for an international attack on Louis XII, it 
was a question whether he would in 15 14 be willing to sup- 
port the Habsburg policy. For at the bottom of Ferdinand's 
heart lay hatred against the Habsburg dynasty of his son-in- 
law Philip the Handsome, bto whose hands the premature 
death of his own heir, Don Juan, had delivered the Spanish 
heritage, and who had encouraged the rebellion of Castile 
against Aragon. 

Margaret knew the real inclination of her former father- 
in-law, and she determined, after her triumph over Chievres, 



The Roman Crown 

to bind him more closely to the Habsburgs by making an end 
of the Castilian influences at the Court of Malines which 
were trying to get young Charles, who would some day be 
Bang of Castile, into their power. Since Ferdinand's regency 
over the lands of Queen Isabella, Don Juan Manuel de la 
Cerda, leader of the Castilian nationalists, had been living 
as a political refugee at the court of Maximilian, which he 
left in 1 5 1 2 in order to prepare the future of an independent 
Castile in the immediate proximity of the young Archduke. 
Don Juan Manuel was received with distinction by the Bur- 
gundian court circles. He had been a favorite of Philip the 
Handsome, who had even taken him into the Order of the 
Golden Fleece; and his position at the court of Malines was 
such that Ferdinand of Aragon was obliged to consider him 
a threat and a danger. 

Margaret was aware that her father-in-law had for some 
time been trying to get Don Juan Manuel into his hands. A 
ship fitted out by Ferdinand lay for months in a Netherlands 
harbor ready to bring him alive or dead to Spain. Nor did 
Margaret herself look favorably on the disruptive Castilian 
influence at her court. Her close collaboration with Henry 
VIII, who in such instances never hesitated, and her victory 
over the Burgundian nationalists, made her decide on a step 
that was to unchain forces the consequences of which she 
realized too late. She had Don Juan Manuel taken prisoner 
with intent to deliver him over to Ferdinand of Aragon. 

The impression this action of hers made upon die court 
of Malines was indescribable. She, a woman, had dared to 
have a knight of the Golden Fleece lifted from his bed like 
a common criminal, ignoring the statutes of the Order which 
gave its members the privilege of being judged only by their 



The Chess Flayer 

equals. She, a woman, who could never aspire to the honor 
of knighthood, who, though a ruler of imperial blood, could 
never approach the glory of the Golden Fleece, had dared 
to violate these statutes, which were held no less sacred than 
the highest laws of the land. 

Since the death of Philip the Handsome the Order had 
been without a leader, as the Duke of Burgundy, its head, 
was, in the person of Archduke Charles, still a minor. The 
indignant knights did not hesitate to draw Monseigneur 
into the defense of rights that should be sacred to him. So 
that one day shortly after ManuePs imprisonment the Re- 
gent saw herself faced with a most painful situation: her 
nephew at the head of a deputation of knights, among whom 
Chievres was not lacking, came to complain of the unworthy 
treatment of his confrere. The knights demanded that they, 
and they alone, should be informed of the accusation against 
Don Juan Manuel, and that meanwhile his imprisonment 
should be mitigated as much as possible. 

For this sudden, threatening reaction of the Order the 
Regent had not been prepared. She was not yet aware that 
she had injured feelings which to her, a woman, had only 
theoretical significance, nor that she had overreached her- 
self in interf ering with something sacred that she, the uniniti- 
ate, had looked upon as a fine but somewhat worn bit of scen- 
ery. The visit of the angry deputation made her see that she 
had been playing with a fire which might well singe her own 
wings, and though she severely pointed out to Monseigneur 
that the Order had not been called together with her con- 
sent, in her first consternation she promised her visitors not 
to deliver Don Manuel over to Ferdinand. 

Nonetheless Margaret's legal advisers went ahead with 
the trial that had for its purpose the destruction of Don 



The Roman Crown 

Manuel's power, and a second time Monseigneur came with 
a few knights to declare that the Regent was treading the 
country's laws underfoot by doing violence to the statutes 
of the Order. 

In the audience chamber of the Court of Savoy a dramatic 
tension reigned. Erect and haughty, her eyes flaming in her 
pale face, the Regent took Monseigneur to task for having 
listened to bad advice in coming to invoke the laws of the 
land against the bearer of the highest authority. She lashed 
at the nobles with words of scorn, in which echoed her own 
helpless anger that she, the Emperor's daughter, was forever 
excluded from the sacred circle. The gentlemen wished to 
lay the statutes of their Order in her way, to use a laughable, 
infantile ruling as a means of hampering her political work? 
"Ah, Messeigneurs! " the Regent cried, "if I were such a man 
as I am a woman, I would make you bring your statutes to 
me and make you sing out passages from them!" 

Both parties appealed to the Emperor. Maximilian, who 
could not let the Order down and did not want to disavow 
his daughter, commanded that Don Juan Manuel be sent to 
Germany, where his case would be investigated. Therewith 
the painful incident was apparently ended. But it had done 
more harm to the authority of the Regent than she could 
guess. It had for the first time brought young Charles into 
open conflict with his aunt, who had evidently no concep- 
tion of his glorious Golden Fleece, and had brought him 
into closer contact than ever with his beloved tutor, the 
defender of the Order. The foreign triumvirate might share 
Charles's bedroom it did not share his heart, nor his con- 
fidence. Through Margaret's faux pas Chievres had won the 
battle for the immediate future. 

Robbed of every support from the Burgundian nobility, 



The Chess flayer 

the Regent presently found herself facing political calami- 
ties that were to deprive her of the last vestiges of her author- 
ity. It was now that the League of Malines shared the fate 
of the League of Cambrai and fell apart as a result of the 
mutual suspicion of its members. After Ferdinand of Aragon, 
as Margaret had feared, had become reconciled with Louis 
XII, Maximilian too let himself be persuaded by Ferdinand 
to an armistice with France. The Emperor was well aware 
that by this act he was undermining the policy of his daugh- 
ter, the more so since he had also concluded the armistice in 
the name of his English ally, who had not the remotest 
knowledge of it. He took good care, "le bon pere Maxi", not 
to keep his daughter posted about his actions. 

But Margaret's informers did good work. Reports reached 
her about Spanish visitors received by the Emperor, and it 
was Ferdinand of Aragon himself who imparted to his 
daughter-in-law the fact that her father had thwarted her 
political efforts. Margaret wrote to Maximilian that this was 
big news and very different from her understanding 
"Monseigneur, ce sont nouvelles, qui sont bien grandes et 
diff erentes de mon entendement". How would the English 
king, who was still carrying on his preparations for the cam- 
paign of the following summer, receive this betrayal? And 
did Maximilian not understand that France wanted to con- 
clude peace only to break the mighty alliance of the four 
great powers? Aragon and even England did not need to fear 
France. Between the Catholic King and France there were 
great mountains, and between France and England the sea: 
but between the Low Countries and France there was no 
separation; and her father knew the great and inveterate en- 
mity the French bore to his House "Monseigneur, entre le 



The Roman Crown 

roy catholique et France il y a de grandes montaignes, et 
entre France et Angleterre est la mer: mais entre ces pays et 
France n'y a point de separation; et vous scaves la grande et 
inveteree inimitie que les Fra^ois portent a ceste maison". 

But the Emperor had already gone too far. And when 
Margaret urged ^ith the greatest emphasis that at least he 
should hasten the marriage between Charles and the English 
Princess Mary, so that Henry VIII should not feel himself 
utterly betrayed by the Habsburgs, Maximilian kept post- 
poning this decision as well until it was too late and Mar- 
garet's last chance to rescue the friendship with England was 
lost. In August, 1514, Henry was reconciled with France 
and gave his sister, the eighteen-year-old fiancee of Arch- 
duke Charles, in marriage to the French King Louis XII him- 
self, who had lost his wife, Anne of Brittany, a short time 
before. 

The break between England and the Habsburgs was a 
crushing blow for the Regent of the Netherlands. The treat- 
ment her father had meted out to her, who in her letters 
would refer to herself as the one who day and night thought 
only to do him service "celle qui nuit et jour ne panse que 
de vous faire service" had injured her deeply. Her author- 
ity in the Netherlands was hopelessly undermined. She 
feared more than ever that the opposition would let things 
come to open revolt, and she foresaw that Chievres would 
very soon be approaching the Emperor to have the now 
fourteen-year-old Charles declared of age. She knew that 
her opponents spoke evil of her to her father and more 
and more felt herself slipping from the Emperor's confi- 
dence. Was it not said that the Emperor no longer kept her 
informed of his wishes in important affairs "son vouloir et 



The Chess flayer 

intencion sur les grans affaires" because Margaret could 
not keep a secret and told everything all over Europe? The 
opposite was true, declared the Regent in a tragic memoran- 
dum to the Emperor. She had never received so much of His 
Majesty's affection and confidence that he was willing to 
keep her informed of things that were not akeady known to 
everybody else, so that foreigners knew the important events 
before she did. The Emperor must remember that it was he 
who must maintain her authority, because with the loss of 
hers he would also lose his. 

But all these warnings came too late. The party of the 
opposition had taken care that the Regent should not get 
back her lost prestige. Under the influence of Chievres the 
States General demanded in 1514 the emancipation of Mon- 
seigneur Charles. If the Emperor agreed to this, said the 
States, they would make him, who was always short of 
cash, a present of 100,000 gold guilders. That was the price 
they were willing to pay to be relieved of the imperial gov- 
ernment, freed from the imperial lieutenant. 

Without informing the Regent, Chievres negotiated with 
the Emperor in the matter. And Maximilian did not spare his 
daughter this bitterest disappointment: she received his 
order to proceed with Charles's emancipation without hav- 
ing been consulted in this decision that completely altered 
her own position. And while the star of Margaret of Austria 
sank in the political sky of Europe, Monseigneur Charles, 
serious and somewhat backward for his almost fifteen years, 
but with a formidable future ahead of him, occupied the 
impressive seat at the table of the Privy Council from which 
his aunt had steered the fate of Europe. In place of her fine 
widow's cap of lawn this blond youth's jewel-studded 



The Roman Crown 

bonnet now bent over the documents of state. And when the 
Emperor, according to his habit, sought the advice of his 
daughter, she answered from the seclusion of her writing 
cabinet that she was no longer mixing in any aif airs and it 
would be necessary for him to write to Chievres "mainte- 
nant je ne me mesle d'affaire quelconque, et sera necessaire, 
que escripves audit Sieur de Chievres. . . ." 

Quiet descended on the Court of Savoy. Madame's apart- 
ments were stripped of their tapestries, the bed of its damask 
canopy. For etiquette commanded that the former Regent 
should accompany her nephew, the young Archduke and 
"Prince d'Espaigne" as he called himself during the life of 
his grandfather Ferdinand, upon his triumphal journey 
through his provinces. Everything that could contribute to 
Madame's comfort, carpets and wall hangings, plate and bed 
furnishings, was taken along in the baggage train of Monsei- 
gneur's party. Malines, Antwerp, Ghent, and Bruges were 
the first places the young ruler visited. Bergen-op-Zoom, 
Delft, the Hague, Haarlem, Leiden, and Amsterdam were 
the cities in the north privileged to accommodate Charles 
and Margaret and their impressive suite for a day or more. 
In the middle of July the royal cavalcade left the Northern 
Netherlands, and on the 2 6th Monseigneur and Madame de 
Savoie returned, after a six months' journey, to a festive 
Brussels. 

Many bitter experiences had fallen to Margaret's share 
during those months. Now that she no longer represented 
the highest authority, criticism of her conduct of affairs 
came to her more frankly than had been possible before. 
Her secretaries did not withhold from her that Monsei- 



The Chess Player 

gneur's entourage emphasized with satisfaction the discon- 
tent with her government. She was reproached for having 
encouraged the war with Gelderland, for not having been 
able to maintain the peace of Cambrai. Some even went so 
far as to accuse her of having run the government solely for 
her own benefit, of having plundered the treasuries of the 
poor provinces for her useless campaigns and of having, 
moreover, ruthlessly enriched herself. From all sides com- 
plaints of this sort penetrated to Monseigneur and his Coun- 
cil, poisoned the atmosphere, injured feelings, upset confi- 
dence. Evil rumors surrounded the Dowager Duchess of 
Savoy like an invisible wall, and in the midst of the festive 
show of Charles's entries she often felt herself bitterly de- 
serted, exposed to an intangible threat. She asked herself, 
and wrote the Emperor, whether she would not do better 
to retire graciously to Burgundy and devote herself to her 
own "small interests". 

After the return to Brussels she frankly told Chievres, 
now the head of Charles's government, how depressed she 
was by these sneaking and untrue charges which were con- 
stantly being made behind her back and which had robbed 
her of Monseigneur's confidence without her being able to 
defend herself against their invisible attacks. The Governor, 
in calm awareness of his complete victory over the woman 
he had for years looked upon as his opponent, advised her to 
defend herself by openly bringing up in Monseigneur's 
Council what others had until now been whispering. 
Chievres knew Margaret's talents and, rather than make her 
a dangerous enemy, he tried to win her to his plans, which, 
moreover, did not differ very much from the methods of her 
own government. Her sense of reality had again and again 



The Roman Crown 

convinced the level-headed Margaret of the necessities by 
which Chievres was now also bound: only a policy of neu- 
trality and friendship with the great powers who were Bur- 
gundy's neighbors could in the long run reconcile the un- 
willing Netherlands provinces to the central authority, 
which was in the last analysis dependent on their good wHl. 

Accordingly Madame de Savoie read aloud at the meeting 
of Charles's Council on August 20, 1515, a memorandum in 
which she candidly spoke of the accusations by which it had 
been hoped to undermine Monseigneur's affection for his 
aunt. She gave a survey of the political events that had made 
her conduct of affairs necessary, of the war she had had to 
wage against Charles of Gelre, always strengthened anew 
by the French in his revolt against Monseigneur's authority, 
and she showed how she, instead of having enriched herself 
through her office of Regent, had on the contrary run into 
debt for the sake of the Archduke. 

Both young Charles and his tutor made speeches after 
the reading of this exhaustive document. They considered 
Madame altogether cleared of the charges, spoke many kind 
and appreciative words, made promises for the future. It 
appeared that the atmosphere at the court had been clarified. 
And at last, after her strenuous years of rule, after her fa- 
tiguing journeys with Monseigneur, Margaret found the 
quiet to go once more about her own affairs, to devote her- 
self to her art collection, her library, to that distant structure 
which already on a previous occasion had made her forget 
the lack of any political work: her church at Brou. 

Many years had passed since on that stormy August day 
in 1506 the first stone of the church that was to be a mauso- 



200 The Chess Player 

leum for Philibert the Handsome had been laid. When Presi- 
dent Gattinara had visited Brou in 1509 to give the Regent 
a report on the state of its development, he had been enthu- 
siastic about the grandiose appearance of the only partially 
completed cloister. "Madame", he wrote with that southern 
fire with which he customarily expressed himself about any- 
thing in which he was interested, "if you had seen what has 
come into being, you would rather sell the most expensive 
tabard you possess than fail to collect the thousand ecus 
necessary to complete it". 

In that same year of 1509, when Margaret had acquired 
the Franche-Comte of Burgundy and was less dependent 
upon her income from her Savoyard widow's pension, she 
had decided on important enlargements and embellishments 
to the still very sketchy plans. And not for material reasons 
alone. In the will she had had drawn up in 1 509 she expressed 
the wish to be buried in the land where she had spent such 
happy years, and in this church of Brou, beside Philibert the 
Handsome. 

It was the French painter-engineer Jean Perreal, Mar- 
garet's drawing master in the happy days of Amboise, who 
now received the commission to make of this modest church 
a mausoleum worthy to enclose three royal tombs. 

Perreal was an all-round man and not likely to let slip an 
opportunity in any field. He knew how frightened patrons 
can become on learning what their plans will cost, even 
though they may be of imperial blood and rule over wealthy 
provinces. He found it more sensible to conceal the real facts 
and send Madame attractive designs to study, without men- 
tioning the amounts these plans would consume. 

To execute the three tombstones, the jewels to be enclosed 



The Roman Crown 201 

in the costly shrine, Perreal had employed the cooperation 
of one of the greatest French sculptors, Michel Colombe, 
who, although already eighty years of age, "very ancient 
and heavy, gouty and sickly" "fort ancien et pesant, 
goutteux et maladif ", was inspired with a youthful fire to 
accept the royal commission. From the sketches of Perreal, 
Colombe was to prepare models which would be sent from 
Tours to Malines, so that Madame could have the tomb of 
Duke Philibert complete before her eyes. 

But the conceited and selfish Perreal fell to quarreling 
with the monks of Brou. The bickerings reached the ears 
of Madame, the monks complained to their protectress, and 
Perreal, who had thought himself in clover for the rest of 
his life, was dismissed. As his successor a mason, as he mod- 
estly called himself, was appointed, one Louis van Boghem, 
a practical and matter-of-fact Fleming, who set to work 
industriously after having regulated his reward in detail. 
Seven years after Margaret had renewed the "pledge of 
Brou", the work that Perreal had kept dangling with so 
much artistic finesse at last began to take shape. New "pat- 
terns" were drawn, and the death of old Michel Colombe 
made necessary a new design for Philibert's tomb as well. 
A studio of Flemish artists was set to work, and thus there 
came into being in southerly Bresse a monument related in 
style to the "Maison du Roi" in Brussels and the town hall 
of Ghent. Jan van Roome of Brussels, famous for his tapes- 
tries, designed the tombs, the choir stalls, the wonderful 
windows. Conrad Meit, a German by birth, but living in 
Flanders, received the commission for the memorial statues. 
Sketches and models were sent to Margaret, and during the 
years 1515 and 1516, when "grans affaires" more or less 



202 The Chess Player 

passed her by, she selected those final designs that were to 
make this monument of Brou into an incomparably beautiful 
example of Flemish gothic. 

Margaret was never to see her own church. Sooner than 
she could have guessed in 15 15, the task of government was 
once again to command her attention. She, who in her youth 
had traveled over the whole of Europe, was scarcely to leave 
the Netherlands again in the second half of her life. Until 
a sad procession went the same way that the bride of Phili- 
bert the Handsome had once gone, a procession bearing the 
embalmed body of the Regent of the Netherlands to its rest 
in the grave she had prepared for herself. 

While Madame de Savoie was enjoying life and looking 
younger and more attractive than ever, as the Venetian 
ambassador Pasqualigo noted, events took place in Europe 
that were once again to raise her to highest political power. 
Once again it appeared how well the constant turnabout 
implied in her device Fortune, Infortune, Fortune char- 
acterized her life's course. And as so often before, once again 
it was Death that took a hand in her career. 

Louis XII had not long survived the triumph he had 
achieved over young Archduke Charles of Austria by 
marrying his lively bride, Mary Tudor. With an exuberant 
company of young English courtiers, under the leadership 
of that same amorous Charles Brandon, now Duke of Suf- 
folk, who had once paid court to Madame de Savoie, Mary 
had arrived in her new kingdom. On the voyage she had 
fallen under the spell of the engaging Suffolk and had already 
deceived her ancient bridegroom Louis before she had even 
laid eyes on his decrepit form. 



The Roman Crown 

Her buoyant personality was a revelation to poor Louis, 
whose late wife, Anne of Brittany, had had little charm. 
Mary had everything her own way, and the King, accus- 
tomed to living carefully and going to bed with the chickens, 
as his courtiers mockingly said, let himself be dragged about 
in the mad festivities the enamored Queen gave in honor of 
her English companions. It was too much for Louis, and a 
few months later the new Queen of France stood by the 
deathbed of her husband. With indignation Margaret heard 
the startling news that Charles Brandon had taken the widow 
back to England and on the way had persuaded her to marry 
him, something it was difficult for her to get into her head, 
as she wrote her father, since there was no sense in it nor any 
sign of good "Ce que bonnement ne peult entrer en ma 
teste, car il n'y auroit nulle raison ny apparence de bien". 
. . . Wherewith she expressed her opinion on marriage for 
love in general and on the jovial Suffolk in particular. 

Louis' death brought to the French throne a reckless 
young daredevil, Francis I, the son of Margaret's sister-in- 
law, Louise of Savoy, Duchess of Angouleme. Five years 
older than the Archduke of Austria and Prince of Spain, 
Francis, lively and intelligent, lighthearted and casual, un- 
faithful and unpredictable, felt infinitely superior to that 
young Charles who talked through his nose, could not close 
his mouth, and was ruled by his aunt. He, Francis, was idol- 
ized by his mother, and he was Charles's feudal lord for 
Flanders and Artois. He was immensely wealthy seemed to 
be so, at least, to judge by the feasts he gave and the state 
kept by his mistresses and his followers. He was strong, agile 
as quicksilver, an ideal tournament hero, the darling and 
the downfall of women. For Francis there was no doubt 



204 The Chess Player 

that he, and no one else, was the chosen leader of Europe, 
the hero who would save Christendom from the Turks, 
against whom the powerless old Maximilian of Habsburg 
had for so long been figuring out hollow plans. 

Upon his accession to the throne Francis had expressed 
himself in a condescendingly friendly and somewhat con- 
temptuous manner to the Burgundian ambassadors who had 
visited him. Charles need have no illusions, he said, that he, 
Francis, would let himself be led by him, the way Maximilian 
and Ferdinand of Aragon had led his predecessor, Louis XII. 
If anyone was to rule the roost in Europe, Francis would do 
so and no one else. And to let them see that he would not be 
trifled with, he made preparations to reconquer the dukedom 
of Milan, which Louis had had to abandon. 

Being a vassal of the young French King, Archduke 
Charles was invited to attend the coronation festivities of his 
new rival But with circumspect politeness Chievres excused 
his young master, who daily had to deal with most important 
and pressing affairs. The point was to keep the easily of- 
fended Francis in a good mood so long as Charles's power 
still rested exclusively on Burgundy. This delicate commis- 
sion was well entrusted to Chievres, whom the world knew 
as French-minded. Reason the more to keep Madame de 
Savoie, who was denounced at the court of Francis for being 
"pure English", well in the background. 

But one year after Francis I was crowned, Death once 
again brought alterations in the balance of power in Europe. 
Ferdinand of Aragon died in January, 1516, and the domin- 
ions over which he had ruled Aragon and Castile, Granada 
and Leon, Naples and Sicily, and the "Indian" realms of the 
New World came to increase the prestige of the sixteen- 



The Roman Crown 20$ 

year-old Archduke of Austria, whom Francis so haughtily 
treated as a vassal. Burgundy still needed to keep on good 
terms with France, for the Spanish inheritance had not yet 
been confirmed by the Cortes, and rumors reached through 
to the Netherlands of a wish to proclaim Archduke Ferdi- 
nand, Charles's young brother who had grown up under 
pure Spanish influences, as King of United Spain. Hence 
there was haste for Charles's coronation journey, and the 
same necessities held for him that had also compelled his fa- 
ther, Philip the Handsome, to peace with France. Chievres' 
policy, which in the beginning could afford to be strictly 
Burgundian, must now be altered to a European policy. As 
leader of Charles's government he would soon have to under- 
take the voyage to Spain with his young master. 

Peace with France but also peace with England. This 
was an objective which Madame de Savoie could under- 
stand. With tense nerves Margaret caught every mood at 
Charles's court, which she never left for a moment. The 
English ambassadors, their finger on Europe's pulse, re- 
ported to Windsor that they were not so certain any more 
whether Madame de Savoie was still the same devoted ser- 
vant of English interests that she had formerly always been 
considered. They thought they would do well, they wrote 
Henry VIII, not to let Madame so much into their secrets 
any longer. 

For evenings on end Margaret played backgammon with 
Chievres, and the rattle of their dice spelled trouble for the 
English ambassadors. Even though the Burgundian govern- 
ment did not yet have entire confidence in her, it was never- 
theless clear to everyone that the star of Madame de Savoie 
was rising again. At the same time the Emperor was doing 



206 The Chess Player 

his best, from his side, to strengthen the position of his 
daughter, for the warnings he would not listen to when the 
Netherlands had jingled the tempting gold they wished to 
pay for the emancipation of Charles, had proved correct. 
With Margaret's authority in the Netherlands Maximilian's 
also had declined, and to his amazement he had been obliged 
to observe that the government of his grandson was going 
its own way and no longer troubled itself about the imperial 
wishes. He had to admit that under Margaret's regime it had 
been different. And in the warmest terms he wrote to Charles, 
"King of Castile and Aragon, Granada and Leon", about 
the former Regent, urging him above all to take his good 
aunt his "sy virtueuse et bonne taente" into his confi- 
dence, to assign her a yearly stipend, and never to forget 
that Charles, his grandfather, and his aunt "were one and the 
same thing corresponding to one and the same desire and 
affection" u une mesme chose correspondant a ung mesme 
desir et affection". 

Nor did the Emperor leave it at letters. In February, 1517, 
he came himself to the Netherlands in order to effect a com- 
plete reconciliation between his daughter and his grandson. 
Maximilian's warm, enthusiastic personality did not fail to 
make an impression on the still not very independent Charles, 
who up to now had let himself be ruled entirely by the calm 
and temperate Chievres. Grandfather Maximilian spoke of 
the future, and his dreams imparted themselves to Charles's 
half-awakened consciousness in visions of heroism and world 
domination. Spain, Austria, and the Netherlands, declared 
the Emperor, together formed a territory greater than that 
of any other ruler in Europe. But Charles would be irresist- 
ible if to the royal crowns he already possessed there should 



The Roman Crown 

be added that ancient and honorable jewel, symbol of divine 
power on earth, the imperial crown of the Holy Roman 
Empire of the German Nation. 

It did not lie with the Emperor, it is true, to have his 
grandson appointed to succeed him. That important decision 
rested with the German Electors, who usually had their own 
motives in making their choice. But the Electors, Maximilian 
knew by experience, were amenable to a certain clinking 
reason, susceptible to the persuasive power of that most elo- 
quent of advocates: gold. The Emperor, alas, possessed no 
gold but Charles's future empire should provide sufficient 
security for the German bankers, who had already so fre- 
quently rescued Maximilian himself from pecuniary distress. 

The Emperor had indeed once had other plans, had made 
other deals with the crown, which he would presumably 
not wear much longer, and the cash value of which he was 
well able to estimate. In the camp before Tournai he had 
roused in his jovial "son of England" illusions concerning 
the emperorship, which the treasury of the wealthy and 
fair-haired Henry would certainly be able to afford. Even 
to the strongest competitor of Charles and Henry, to Francis 
I of France, Maximilian had made an offer to influence the 
Electors in his favor, and with the object of having several 
strings to his bargaining bow, he had approached Louis of 
Hungary, the young husband of his granddaughter Mary, 
with the same plan. But in the end the old Habsburg had 
after all preferred to keep the imperial crown for his own 
family, and Charles, hesitant at first to take on, in addition 
to his cares in the Netherlands and Spain, the responsibilities 
of that unsurveyable empire, finally succumbed to the luster 



208 The Chess Player 

of Maximilian's pictures of the future and, a few days before 
his departure for Spain, declared himself prepared to accept 
the candidature. 

If the Spanish problems were at that moment scarcely to 
be assessed, those of the Netherlands were assuredly burden- 
some enough. Charles of Gelre, whose activities became al- 
ways more threatening as the mood of France became less 
benevolent toward Burgundy, had received support in the 
north, where revolt against the all-encircling House of 
Habsburg had manifested itself among the Friesians, always 
jealous of their independence. In Utrecht and Overijssel, 
Drenthe and Groningen, the movement had also raised its 
head, and soon Holland was laid under tribute by armed 
bands, while on the Zuider Zee the dreaded pirate, "Big 
Pete", left no merchant ship alone and caused the entire crew 
of a defeated Dutch squadron to walk the plank without 
quarter. The "Black Bands" of Gelderland pressed to the 
very gates of Amsterdam, and the peaceful little cities of the 
Northern Netherlands Medemblik, Alkmaar, Beverwijk, 
Asperen were reduced to smoking ruins, until at last help 
from the southern provinces brought relief and it was pos- 
sible to conclude an armistice. On his departure for Spain 
Charles left Count Hendrik of Nassau behind as captain 
general of the Burgundian troops, for the protection of the 
battered northern areas. 

Besides the military authority, Charles also settled the 
government of the interior before leaving. And on the 
regency council, of which Maximilian was honorary chair- 
man, and on which sat the Princes of the blood and the 
Knights of the Golden Fleece, a modest seat was assigned 
to the woman who had once exercised the whole power of 




Colkction of H. M. the Queen of the Netherh 

Charles V, by Joost van Cleve. 




Bayerisches National-Museum, Munich 

Margaret of Austria, by Conrad Meit. 



The Roman Crown 20$ 

Burgundian government. Madame de Savoie, after two years 
without work, was once more included in the government, 
even though her influence was confined to the vote she could 
cast in the meetings of the council. 

But as soon as Margaret had again acquired a firm foothold 
in Charles's administration, her talents and her changeable 
stars were quickly to bring her back again to the place she 
had occupied before. Early in 1518 the chairman of the 
council and the chancellor Sauvage, who had opposed Mad- 
ame de Savoie's influence with special vigor, both died In 
July of that year Charles granted his aunt the right to sign 
all state papers and to control the finances. An annuity of 
twenty thousand pounds was granted her. Only the official 
title of Regent was lacking but this too she would speedily 
manage to earn. 

In the midst of the problems that he, the ruler of the 
Netherlands, had to solve in Spain, Charles decided to take 
measures toward the realization of his grandfather's idea, 
and to have himself elected King of the Romans, successor 
to the Emperor. A special ambassador, de Courteville, left 
Spain for Maximilian's court, and in his baggage he bore 
instructions to support the efforts of the Emperor with 
money and promises, and a sum of 100,000 gold guilders in 
letters of exchange which was indeed to prove no more 
than a drop on the sizzling platter of greed. 

For the seven Electors the Archbishops of Mainz, Trier, 
and Cologne, the King of Bohemia, the Duke: of Saxony, 
the Count Palatine of Bavaria, and the Margrave of Branden- 
burgwere aware that besides Charles, in t 6 capacity of 
King of Aragon and Castile, Francis I also wished to sue for 



220 The Chess Player 

the highest dignity of Christendom, and they resolved to sell 
the Stone Throne of Charlemagne to the highest bidder. It 
was nothing new for the Electors to sell their vote in the 
imperial election. New, however, were the prices the two 
competitors appeared willing to pay, and new were the 
methods of financing that Charles applied. It was with the 
money and the credit of the Augsburg banking house of 
Fugger that the cost of the Roman Crown was to be met. 

They had begun some time ago to make themselves in- 
dispensable to the aging Emperor, these Fuggers. For his 
campaigns and his as yet unrealized coronation journeys, 
even for his household and his daily necessaries of life, they 
had loaned Maximilian now enormous, now modest sums, 
receiving as security first the revenue from the silver and 
copper mines of the Tyrol, then a number of counties and 
estates that were never redeemed. The reputation of these 
Augsburg bankers increased with Maximilian's debts. Their 
name and their gold resounded over the whole of Europe, 
their offices formed the principal sight of many great centers 
of commerce, 

It was bills of exchange on the Fuggers that Charles's 
ambassador had brought along to Germany. But this money 
was to be paid over to the Electors only after the imperial 
election, and, as Maximilian reported to Charles, those gen- 
tlemen had already accepted considerable sums from the 
French L ; ng and were to be satisfied only with cash. 

How difficult it was to collect this cash in sufficient quan- 
tities would soon be apparent. The effort of Francis I to raise 
large loans from the bankers in Genoa and Lyons had failed, 
and only Fraiicis's doting mother, Louise of Savoy, was pre- 
pared to lay tier fortune in the balance for the pleasure of 



The Roman Crown 211 

seeing her darling crowned Head of Christendom. For 
Charles too, far away in Aragon, the problem of how to 
come by sufficient money had many angles. Payment to 
the Electors had to go through Maximilian's hands, and in 
that process, the initiate of all Europe knew, some part of it 
always adhered to his fingers. No wonder Chievres recalled 
the businesslike calm with which Madame de Savoie used to 
play backgammon, and that, since she had the Fuggers and 
other large banking houses right at hand in the wealthy city 
of Antwerp, he should call upon her help. 

Thus in that summer of 1518 Margaret once again found 
herself in the thick of the European battle, waged this time 
not with weapons but with ducats and gold ecus, against that 
ancient enemy of Burgundy, the French royal house. Still 
other valuables were at her disposal. Where gold did not 
suffice human lives must be sacrificed, and to the Elector of 
Brandenburg, who must at all costs be won over to the Habs- 
burg candidature, the hand of Charles's youngest sister, the 
unhappy Catherine at Tordesillas, was to be offered for his 
son. 

In August, 1518, the Emperor called a meeting of the Diet 
in Augsburg, where he could exercise his influence upon the 
Electors in personal discussions. His success was overwhelm- 
ing, and de Courteville excitedly wrote Margaret from 
Augsburg that everything was going well. Five of the seven 
Electors had promised their votes to Charles, and the two 
others could be dispensed with. The costs of this victory 
were enormous. The Elector of Brandenburg sold his vote 
for a life annuity of eight thousand guilders and a hundred 
thousand guilders in cash, to be paid on the day of the elec- 
tion. The Infanta Catherine, whom his son was to marry, 



212 The Chess Player 

would bring in a considerable dowry. .The three Arch- 
bishops, of Mainz, Trier, and Cologne, had been no less mun- 
dane in their demands. Mainz was to receive a yearly stipend 
of ten thousand guilders and thirty thousand gold guilders 
in cash, as soon as the other Electors should have given their 
votes to Charles; Cologne got the promise of an annuity of 
six thousand guilders and twenty thousand in cash; and the 
Count Palatine demanded not less than one hundred thou- 
sand guilders and a yearly stipend of twenty thousand for 
his brother. And then there were presents and pensions to 
friends and members of the family, even to secretaries and 
servants of these covetous gentlemen. The total of Maxi- 
milian's commitments at Augsburg came to 5 14,000 guilders 
in gold, comparable to some fifteen million dollars today. 

Charles, shocked at such reckless expenditure, made use 
of a picturesque metaphor in his correspondence with Mar- 
garet. The horse upon which his aunt would like to see him 
ride was a very expensive one, the young Emperor-m-spe 
felt. Margaret had to admit as much, but she thought it a 
horse which its purchaser could easily acquire at that price, 
and now that it was trained to Charles's hand she was of 
opinion that he must not let it escape, whatever it might cost 
him. . . . 

But the bargain was not yet struck. The Pope, who in the 
long run would have to crown Charles Emperor of the Holy 
Roman Empire, was well aware what power he would be 
granting to the House of Habsburg which, in Italy, at only 
forty miles' distance from the Papal States, possessed the 
Kingdom of Naples. Sufficient motives could be found for 
declaring the election of Charles as King of the Romans an 
impossibility. There was the fact that Maximilian had never 



The Roman Crown 215 

been crowned Emperor in Rome and therefore himself had 
a right only to the title of King of the Romans. Thus it was 
excluded that during his lifetime this dignity should be con- 
ferred upon another. Francis I seized upon these papal 
motives with enthusiasm in order to undermine the candida- 
ture of his rival. 

In the midst of these uncertainties the death bells tolled 
yet again over Europe. Maximilian, who, convinced of vic- 
tory, was already prepared to call the Diet together in Frank- 
fort to proceed with the elections, had suddenly passed 
away. And while mourning her father, whose charming per- 
sonality she had loved despite the humiliation he had brought 
upon her, Margaret saw the future of her House endangered 
once again. For both Henry VIII of England and Louis of 
Hungary remembered Maximilian's promises and entered 
the struggle for the imperial crown. 

Francis I doubled his prices, multiplied his intrigues ten- 
fold. His ambassadors made no secret of the fact that their 
king would get himself elected by love, by money, or by 
force "soit par amour, soit par argent, soit par force". They 
traveled through Germany with a train of mules laden with 
gold. Because the Banking House of Fugger would accept 
no French bills of exchange, it was said in Germany that 
the French were transporting their gold in secret, in sacks 
tied to Rhine ships. Margaret, to whom all these reports 
came, whose days were entirely filled with them, and who 
handed them on to whoever could use them to advantage, 
saw but one way: no empty promises, but to give with full 
hands, "so that the preacher should have good credit" "qui 
faisoit avoir le precheur bon credit". Chievres had judged 
correctly: Madame de Savoie did not let herself be hampered 



214 The Chess Player 

by unbusinesslike scruples on this unsavory terrain. She held 
the threads of intrigue firmly in her hand, saw through men 
and their greedy motives and was able to intervene in events 
at the right moment and with great determination. 

And not only in the matter of money. Rumors reached 
Margaret that Francis I intended to have himself crowned in 
Rome, however the decision -of the Electors turned out; in 
fact, that he was even going to Frankfort in order to dictate 
the decision. French troop concentrations were observed, 
and the Burgundian government, under Margaret's resolute 
leadership, recruited infantry, reinforced the cities close to 
the French borders, and proceeded to the mobilization of 
everyone in the southerly provinces who could carry arms. 

While Francis I was intriguing in Hungary, Poland, and 
Bohemia, in Rome and even in Spain in the very entourage 
of his opponent, Margaret sent her confidential secretary, 
Marnix, to the Reich with new promises, new warnings. If 
the Electors, Margaret declared, should really place the King 
of France on the Imperial throne they would be signing the 
death warrant of their own authority. They only needed to 
remember the action of the French crown against the inde- 
pendent dukes, against the French nobility. If they did not 
wish to choose the King of Spain, it would be preferable 
that they should crown one of their own candidates, a Ger- 
man ruler, as emperor. But this piece of advice must be a 
last resort for Marnix. The instructions Madame gave him 
contained first a large number of other suggestions which 
he must not leave untested. And Marmx went to work: he 
tried to win over the venial Lutheran condottiere, Franz 
von Sickingen, and the Swiss; influenced the cardinals in 
Rome, flattered the Electors who had already promised their 



The Roman Crown 215 

votes; conferred with Jacob Fugger, in whose coffers the 
bills of exchange were kept which Italian, Netherlands, and 
German banking houses had handed over to the King of 
Spain. Count Hendrik of Nassau, who had a very good name 
in the Reich, was also called in to exert his influence on the 
Reichstag itself. And to lend additional strength to all this 
activity, the merchants of Antwerp were forbidden to loan 
money to any foreign power, so that all their wealth should 
remain at Charles's disposal. 

The principal result of these intrigues proved to be that 
the Electors raised the price of their votes. Brandenburg de- 
manded double the amount promised him, a double dowry 
for the Infanta Catherine, and complete assurance that the 
money would actually reach him. He did not want to run 
the risk, he said with commendable frankness to Margaret's 
envoy, of falling between two stools. 

Charles had to hand out more than a million gold guilders 
to resecure the votes Maximilian had already bought for him. 
The three archbishops alone, with their brothers and neph- 
ews, their councilors and valets, laid hold of not less than half 
a million gold guilders, again something over fifteen million 
dollars in today's currency. 

Gold, gold, gold. The struggle for the imperial crown 
continued, holding all Europe in breathless suspense. The 
Pope suddenly declared in favor of the "Catholic King", 
Charles of Habsburg. Charles distrusted this benevolent 
sentiment, had papal letters intercepted, and discovered that 
the Holy Father was intriguing to have one of the German 
rulers elected Emperor. Toward the end of February, 1519, 
the confusion was so shocking, the position of the Electors 
so enigmatic, that Margaret, considering Charles's chances 



2i 6 The Chess Player 

completely lost, thought the honor of the House of Habs- 
burg could be rescued only through launching Charles's 
brother, the Infante Ferdinand, as a new candidate for the 
emperorship. 

But against this plan Charles protested vigorously. Ferdi- 
nand's candidature was withdrawn. And the struggle con- 
tinued, for and against Charles, for and against Francis, with 
money and promises, warnings and threats. Only one thing 
was certain in all this chaos: the German people did not want 
the Frenchman and were prepared for armed revolt should 
the Electors designate him. The day of the election ap- 
proached, and the news flew through Europe that the French 
king had gone to Lorraine. Did he intend to carry out his 
plan of having himself elected, sword in hand? The German 
cities armed. Charles, having agreed to protect the Electors 
from violence, had Frankfort surrounded by 25,000 mer- 
cenary troops. 

This last measure it was that settled the matter. On the 
1 7th of June of that eventful year of 1519 the Diet met in 
Frankfort. The presence of Charles's troops gave the Mar- 
grave of Brandenburg and the Count Palatine of Bavaria, 
who both still stood on the side of the French King, such a 
fright that on the very day of the election they returned to 
the safe side. On the 2 8th of June, at seven o'clock in the 
morning, the seven Electors betook themselves in solemn 
procession to the Church of Saint Bartholomew, and four 
hours later Charles of Austria, Lord of the Netherlands, 
King of Spain, of Naples and Sicily, was elected King of the 
Romans by unanimous vote. 

Two days later the news reached the Netherlands. And 
the head of the government, Madame de Savoie, who saw 



The Roman Crown 

her months of incessant labor crowned with success, made 
the joyful news known to the people in an impressive fash- 
ion. Forgotten were the quantities of gold, the machina- 
tions, betrayal over and over again bought back, the baseness 
which, as one of Margaret's ambassadors had expressed it, 
made the bribers themselves blush for shame. In immaculate 
flight Margaret's proclamation soared above this earthly 
mire. Bonfires were to be lighted, thanksgiving feasts pre- 
pared, and prayers and honor must be brought to God, "be- 
cause the Lords Electors of the Holy Roman Empire, unani- 
mously, inspired by the Holy Ghost, without any vacillation 
whatever, had elected her Lord and nephew King of the 
Romans". 



Le temps m'est long et j'ay bien le pourquoy, 
Car ung jour m'est plus long qu'une sepmainne, 
Dont je prie Dieu que mon corps tost ramainne 
Ou est mon cueur qui n'est plus avec moy. 

Q est vers vous, repousant sans requoy, 
Et pour cela que j'en suis en grant painne, 
Le temps m'est long. 

Je vous jure, et sans mentis ma foy, 
Que pensement non plaisant me promainne 
Ou que soye, dont forment je m'atainne 
Et rescripre je vous puis orendroy: 
Le temps m'est long. 



Time is long to me and I have reason, 
For a single day seems longer than a week, 
Hence I pray God soon to return my body 
To where my heart is that is no more with me. 

It is near you, -without tranquillity 
In its repose, and since I am in great pain 
Time is long to me* 

I swear to you, nor perjure my good faith, 
Wherever I may be unpleasing thoughts 
Drive me about, whence I am much harassed, 
And can repeat it to you even now: 
Time is long to me. 



CHAPTER EIGHT 

Ladies Peace 




MESSENGERS hurried through Europe. And al- 
though in all his lands the treasuries stood empty 
while notes with his signature were piling up in the offices of 
the Fuggers, the Welsers, the Gualterottis, those who spread 
the joyful report throughout Charles's empire were re- 
warded with generous hand. The good city of Malines even 
gave a gratuity to the postmaster's boy who had accom- 
panied the first messenger with the news. 

The young Emperor was well aware of what his aunt with 
her tireless staff of secretaries had managed to achieve for the 
good cause. The differences that had existed in the past be- 
tween his chancellor Chievres and Madame de Savoie had 
melted away in the excitement of the election campaign. The 
narrow Burgundian interests Chievres had formerly de- 
fended now merged for him into the problems of Charles's 
empire. To serve his Emperor it was no longer necessary for 
him to work against Madame de Savoie. And even before 
Charles learned of the decision in the struggle for the impe- 
rial crown, on the first of July, 1 5 19, in Barcelona, he signed 
the letters in which, in view of the inestimable and praise- 

219 



220 The Chess Flayer 

worthy services "grands, inestimables et louables services" 
she had rendered and was still rendering, and of the 
complete and extraordinary confidence he had always placed 
in his "tres-chere dame et tante, dame Marguerite", he 
named her Regent and Governess of the Low Countries and 
charged all his subjects to obey her as they would himself. 

Charles did set restrictions upon this apparently unlimited 
power, by secret instructions in which the bounds of Mar- 
garet's competency were narrowly prescribed. But before 
the eyes of the world Madame de Savoie was completely 
rehabilitated, and how highly Charles valued her help in his 
election became clear when, a year later, he presented her 
with the city and the land of Malines for the duration of her 
life. 

A mature woman now in her thirty-ninth year, Margaret 
faced for the second time the task she had first undertaken 
twelve years before under entirely different circumstances. 
Then she had ruled in the name of a minor child, under the 
supervision of her father, whose wayward fancies she often 
could not follow and who in the end destroyed her loyal 
work by his capricious interference. Now she was the dep- 
uty of an emperor-king who had accepted her authority in 
his youth and upon whose confidence she now thought she 
could reckon. Margaret looked back upon her first period 
in office as a training school that, sometimes through bitter 
experience, had given her wisdom. The problems of her 
second regency were indeed already gathering like men- 
acing cloud-masses on the horizon, but she felt better able 
than ever to handle the rudder. 

They were ominous enough, in fact, the difficulties with 
which the young Emperor would have to contend. The 
rivalry between the royal houses of Habsburg and France 



Ladies' Peace 221 

had been sharpened by the struggle for the imperial crown 
to a personal competition between the two young monarchs, 
Charles and Francis, who seemed destined by nature to mis- 
trust and hate each other. Over against Francis in his glis- 
tening satin, beringed and beplumed, boundlessly vain, friv- 
olous and faithless, swift and sly in his reactions, in body and 
mind as flexible and agile as a rapier, stood Charles, pious and 
modest, slow of tongue and tardy of comprehension, just 
as tenacious as his opponent was variable. No reconciliation 
seemed possible between these two characters, between the 
claims of each to world domination. Whom should Christen- 
dom choose for its leader against the ever-present danger 
of the Turks: the brilliant and polished Frenchman, who 
recklessly disposed of his subjects' possessions and the rev- 
enue from his well-rounded, homogeneous territory, or the 
sluggish Habsburger, whose disconnected lands lay spread 
over the old world and the new, and whose tides stood for 
some archaic pretense rather than for real power? 

In less than a year Charles and his grasping ministers had 
made mortal enemies of the Spaniards. "Our Indians", the 
Burgundians called their ruler's new subjects. Chievres and 
his friends took what they could get: offices and dignities, 
titles and prebends. Charles was a foreigner in Spain. He 
disdained Spanish fashions and ordered his tabards, his dou- 
blets, hose, and boots, in Flanders. He knew no Spanish. He 
and his were despised. The Spanish nobility went over to 
the French king and the population was prepared to take up 
arms in order to drive the hated foreigner and his robber 
knights of the Golden Fleece out of the country. 

In the Netherlands sentiment was divided. People glowed 
with pride that the "natural ruler" of the Low Countries had 
achieved the imperial dignity. But there was no disguising 



222 The Chess Flayer 

the fact that Charles would not consider his Burgundian 
provinces as the center of his Empire, and they feared a re- 
turn to the policy of Maximilian, who had treated his grand- 
son's lands as conquered territory. 

And in the German Empire, an undefined conglomeration 
of ecclesiastical and temporal principalities totally lacking 
in any unity of purpose, in these first days of Charles's em- 
perorship people were listening full of hope and emotion to 
a mighty and a stirring sound, the rough but genuine ring of 
Martin Luther's voice. His message penetrated to German 
ears, in which the chinking of all those gold ducats still 
echoed that had poured into insatiable hands in payment for 
the imperial crown. Still another sound had dismayed the 
pious German people in those days: the rumbling of the 
money chests with which a representative of the Archbishop 
of Mainz and an agent of the Fugger Bank had traveled 
through the country gathering in the solid Rhenish guilders 
which the citizens were obliged to pay for the remission of 
their sins. The Archbishop of Mainz was to use half the 
proceeds to pay off to the Holy Father in Rome the purchase 
price of his archiepiscopal dignity, which the Fuggers had 
advanced to him. The other half was destined for the build- 
ing of St. Peter's. And if sins already committed did not pro- 
duce enough, Fugger's agent with businesslike accuracy 
collected sums with which one could buy absolution for 
misdeeds one would be committing in a distant future. . . . 
The voice of Brother Martin rose and in the Holy Roman 
Empire the fuse was lit that was to set Europe in flames. 

Insurrection, rebellion, and lack of funds, spiritual fer- 
ment and an irrepressible drive for renewal these were the 
internal problems of that unstable Empire. And at its bor- 



Ladies' Peace 223 

ders lowered the Turkish menace, barely held off by a heroic 
Hungary. 



ew 



Margaret sent a fleet from Zeeland to transport her neph 
from embittered Spain to the Reich, where princes and 
people were clamoring for their new ruler, not yet suspect- 
ing that they had placed a foreigner upon the imperial 
throne. Charles made ready to take over these dominions, 
only to disappoint his German subjects as he had the Span- 
iards. On the first of July, 1520, the fleet landed in Flushing, 
and five days later the Regent of the Netherlands greeted 
her nephew the Emperor in Ghent, amid the rejoicing of 
the people. 

Charles was able to report to his aunt, who still counted as 
"bonne angloise", on the meeting he had just held with his 
"uncle", the Most Serene King of England. He had made 
good use of his brief stay in Dover. Toward Henry, who 
thought himself the indicated mediator between Charles 
and Francis I, the young Emperor had borne himself with 
flattering modesty, and the all-powerful Cardinal Wolsey 
had radiated charm for the sake of a yearly stipend of seven 
thousand ducats, hinting in cautiously disguised words at the 
papal tiara, his boldest dream. Would Francis be able to 
influence fourteen cardinals? Seventeen were already pre- 
pared to carry out Charles's wishes. The Pope was known to 
be incurably ill. Perspectives of unlimited power, of fabulous 
wealth, opened before Wolsey's greedy eyes. He was the 
humble servant of His Imperial Majesty. 

Margaret was full of admiration for the diplomatic talents 
of her pupil. That her former ally Henry VIII was again 
won to the Habsburg cause signified the triumph of her 



224 The Chess Player 

policy. And though Henry had immediately come over to 
France after his meeting with Charles, to outdo his "brother 
Francis" with the showy excess of his riches, only to be him- 
self outdone by the incomparable luxury of Francis's "Field 
of the Cloth of Gold", Margaret did not fear this competi- 
tion too much. She hoped that Charles in his modest dark 
velvet had piqued Henry's vanity less than Francis, who 
might perhaps be thought to have a more beautiful beard, 
handsomer calves, more success with women. Margaret 
looked forward to going with Charles to greet the English 
king as soon as the meeting with Francis should have taken 
place, so that she could receive Henry's first impressions, and 
if necessary color them according to her own wish. 

One month after she had welcomed the Emperor, Mar- 
garet traveled with him to Calais. Henry VIII, who had 
emphatically declared himself to be "neutral" between the 
rivals, Charles and Francis, on this occasion sided altogether 
with the Emperor, who knew how to flatter him by that 
slow helplessness of his and did not irritate him by any chal- 
lenge of bejeweled show. Wolsey, the vision of the triple 
crown before his eyes, seemed as wax in the hands of Mad- 
ame de Savoie. 

On his return to the Netherlands Charles was awaited by 
ambassadors from the Electors, who requested him to make 
speed with his crowning. Once again Margaret's palace at 
Malines was bared of its hangings, its silver plate. For 
Charles's possessions could not equal the art treasures of his 
aunt, and she loaned him for his coronation banquet her in- 
comparable dinner services and her world-famous tapestries. 
With her ladies and damoiselles in waiting and in the com- 
pany of the Dowager Queen of Aragon, Germaine de Foix, 
Margaret journeyed to Aix-la-Chapelle to attend the solemn 



Ladies' Peace 22$ 

ceremonies. Her bodyguard of halberdiers received new 
jerkins and new bonnets for the occasion. The suite accom- 
panying the Emperor-King displayed a luxury that was little 
short of fabulous. The States General had once again made 
available some hundred thousands of pounds Flemish for the 
festivities. 

Seated upon a magnificent white charger and clothed in 
his own colors of gold, silver, and crimson, the young Em- 
peror rode to his coronation surrounded by a mounted body- 
guard. The horsemen wore red, yellow, and white, and on 
their backs Charles's device, "Plus Oultre", was to be read 
embroidered in letters of gold. Five of the seven Electors 
had ridden forth to meet their chosen ruler, and the cere- 
monies of welcome outside the city gates were so protracted 
that the glorious cavalcade entered the venerable coronation 
city only at the fall of dusk, Charles's white steed but a pale 
spot among the countless darker forms of the surrounding 
horses. 

Everyone went early to rest. For at the crack of dawn, 
at six o'clock of the crisp autumn morning, while all the 
bells of Aix boomed out their bronze-throated tones over the 
city, the temporal Electors came to conduct the King of the 
Romans to the Church of Our Lady, where the three Arch- 
bishops awaited him and blessed him "like a bride". In the 
sacred vaulted precincts, upon a platform hung with gold 
and silver fabric, sat the royal ladies of Charles's suite, the 
Dowager Duchess of Savoy and the Dowager Queen of 
Aragon, surrounded by their noblewomen. In the dusky 
light of the thousands of candles and torches they were "all 
cloth of gold, tissue of silver, and great chains and necklaces 
of gold and precious stones" "tout drap d'or, toille d'argent 



226 The Chess Player 

et grosses cheines et quarquans d'or et pierre precieuses". 
Awe-inspiring in their sanctity were the consecration, the 
anointing, the crowning, the girding with the sword of 
Charlemagne. Margaret, a striking figure in her festive bro- 
cade gown and severe widow's cap, heard and felt the solemn 
music that accompanied the ceremony, and she became 
aware that this stirring moment signified the fulfillment of 
her life's work. As Charles lay stretched in the form of the 
cross before the high altar, as the holy rites were performed 
over him, she knew that that work had not been in vain. The 
motto of her grandfather, Emperor Frederick III "All the 
world is subject to Austria" seemed to have become a real- 
ity. 

While the Emperor sat at the gala banquet, where the food 
w;as served on Margaret's silver services, while in the narrow 
streets of Aix the people gave themselves over to delirious 
festivity, and on the squares whole oxen were being roasted 
and silver coins and oats scattered among the excited masses, 
there flickered over the Low Countries the lightning of an 
approaching thunderstorm. And when on the day following 
the coronation the trumpets echoed through the city and a 
papal declaration was read out to the effect that his Royal 
Majesty should from now on bear the title of Emperor-Elect 
of the Romans, the moment had come for Margaret to leave 
Aix. Reports reached her that French troops were threaten- 
ing the southern borders of the Netherlands and that in the 
north the Gelderland revolt had broken out anew. The Re- 
gent hastened to return to her provinces. By the second of 
November she was already back in Brussels, all her attention 
immediately absorbed by the ominous aspect of the situation. 
A few months later, in March, 1521, a border incident 



Ladies' Peace 227 

sufficed to precipitate once more the struggle between 
France and Burgundy. 

The Regent, who was at the same time superintendent of 
the Burgundian army, had taken her measures. At a sitting 
of the States General held in Ghent in July, 1521, she deliv- 
ered with dramatic eloquence her accusation of faithlessness 
and treachery against Francis I, in a compelling challenge to 
the States to support their young master with money and 
troops. This time the States allowed themselves to be con- 
vinced. The presence of the Emperor, who, Margaret de- 
clared, stood ready to throw into the balance his life, his 
possessions, and all that God had given him, in order to res- 
cue and protect his subjects, made them forget their guiding 
principle, that the best way to keep the peace was to refuse 
money for war. Enormous subsidies were promised and 
they were more than welcome. For in the month of August 
Cardinal Wolsey crossed the Channel from England as 
"mediator" between the "Most Christian King" Francis and 
His Imperial Majesty Charles. 

A mediator, both parties felt, is only useful when benevo- 
lently inclined. While the French representatives regaled 
Henry's powerful minister with the noblest French wines 
they could lay their hands on, Margaret forestalled the wishes 
of this splendor-loving and not very sporting cardinal, who 
detested riding on horseback, by sending him a luxurious 
red velvet litter, entirely upholstered in green satin so that 
his purple should stand out the more tellingly. Two large 
mules with red leather harness bore this comfortable con- 
veyance, and in it the Cardinal, after his conference with the 
French ambassadors, went on to Bruges in order to supple- 
ment his mediator's work with a treaty between his master 
and the Emperor. 



228 The Chess Player 

No expense was spared in receiving the prelate with 
princely luster. The members of his suite were overloaded 
with presents in money, from the Bishop of Durham down 
to the trumpeters and choirboys who went everywhere with 
His Eminence. To these resonant manifestations of friend- 
ship Madame de Savoie added those flattering attentions of 
which only a woman thinks. The English gentlemen were 
quartered with prominent burghers of Bruges, and every 
morning officers of the imperial household delivered at their 
dwellings a basket of fresh rolls, two silver pitchers of wine, 
a pound of sugar, some white and yellow candles, and a torch 
to light their bedrooms. 

The courtesies were reciprocal. The Cardinal's musicians 
sang and played at the meals Margaret offered her distin- 
guished guests, and the result of all this was a treaty, which 
the charming hostess could not have improved on had she 
wished. Once again it was agreed that the Emperor should 
wed an English princess, named, like the first one, Mary 
Tudor; but now it was not Henry's sister, but his only little 
daughter, heir to his crown, who was to make young Charles 
happy. An offensive alliance against France, still complacent 
over the good results of Wolsey's "efforts at mediation", 
was appended to the marriage contract. 

Of the Regent of the Netherlands, however, one sacrifice 
was asked. She must expressly declare that this time the Low 
Countries would not remain neutral in the prospective war 
against France. The Pope was invited to take part in the 
league, and the Swiss and the Venetians were also to have 
their share of the booty when Francis I should have been 
driven out of Italy altogether and for good. Just as she had 
once made plans at Cambrai with the French Cardinal of 
Amboise for the destruction of Venice, so Margaret now 



Ladies' Peace 229 

discussed with the English prelate how France could be 
eliminated as a great power. Madame de Savoie had experi- 
ence with princes of the Church, and this tkop also her success 
was complete. 

The Emperor certainly had need of England's friendship. 
The situation in his Spanish kingdoms was becoming more 
menacing than ever and his presence there was highly neces- 
sary. In the German Empire Martin Luther was steadily 
acquiring more followers, the breach was steadily widening 
between Rome and the people, between traditional author- 
ity, represented by Charles, and his subjects, who knew that 
the Emperor understood no German and whose national 
feelings were aroused since they now for the first time heard 
sermons preached in the language of their own country. In 
all parts of the Empire a young national consciousness was 
growing that looked upon this Habsburger as a foreign op- 
pressor. 

Before he left the Low Countries in an attempt to pre- 
serve Spain from civil war, Charles settled one matter for 
which no solution had yet been found: the claims of his Aunt 
Margaret and his brother Ferdinand to the inheritance of 
Emperor Maximilian. 

For the sum of 250,000 pounds Flemish, to be paid in ten 
yearly installments, Margaret waived her rights to her fa- 
ther's heritage. Archduke Ferdinand, who after Charles's 
coronation had remained behind in the German Empire with 
the title of Regent and Head of the College of Electors, 
obtained the hereditary Austrian lands, which Charles re- 
signed in his favor. And so the House of Habsburg was split 
into two branches: the Spanish, of which Charles V re- 
mained the head, and the Austrian, which was soon to de- 
velop into a notable power through the passing of Hungary 



230 The Chess Player 

and Bohemia to Ferdinand's wife by the death of her brother 
Louis. 

At Charles's departure for Spain the Netherlands found 
themselves in not very happy circumstances. A severe plague 
epidemic had ravaged the population. The people of Fries- 
land and Gelderland repeatedly threatened the northern 
provinces, and Christian of Denmark, who had not yet re- 
ceived all the dowry Ysabeau was to have brought with her, 
gave Charles, his brother-in-law, two choices: to pay, or to 
make war. Once again the States were called upon for sub- 
sidies, and once again, this time out of fear of the Danish war- 
ships and of the measures Christian could take against Neth- 
erlands merchant shipping, the demands of the government 
were met. In July, 1521, the Danish king came in person to 
Antwerp, ostensibly to receive the remainder of Ysabeau's 
dowry, in reality to persuade Charles to a war against the 
Hanseatic cities, primarily against Liibeck. 

Charles was not disinclined to oblige his brother-in-law. 
It was Margaret who realized what a war in the Baltic would 
mean for her provinces: the end of commerce with the Han- 
seatic cities, the impossibility of importing grain; high costs 
and starvation in the Netherlands. Once again the Regent 
showed that she knew herself to be no mere instrument of 
the Emperor's authority, but the guardian of interests that 
could not be brought into line with the Habsburg plans. 
Strongly supported by her Council, she was able to persuade 
Charles of the futility of an alliance with Christian. 

After the Emperor had gone, Margaret prepared for a 
journey through the provinces, attending various meetings 
of the States in the hope of moving them to replenish her 
alarmingly empty coffers. But most of her visits were fruit- 



Ladies' Peace 232 

less. And again she would have resorted to the pawning of 
her jewels. But the Antwerp bankers scorned this sort of 
collateral. By now they had acquired some idea of the enor- 
mous loans the Emperor had had to take up for his election 
campaign. They realized that their foreign colleagues too, 
who had financed this undertaking jointly with them, had 
not yet seen any repayment on the loaned sums. The Fug- 
gers, the Welsers, and the Gualterottis wailed that they 
would go bankrupt. And Jacob Fugger, who assessed a 
doubtful debtor at what he was worth even though he wore 
the holy imperial crown, demanded payment in a letter to 
Charles in which he did not hesitate to call a spade a spade. 
"It is well known and clear as daylight," he wrote to his 
overlord, "that your Imperial Majesty could not have got the 
Romish Crown without my help". 

Was it any wonder that in these circumstances the Em- 
peror's creditors would have been overjoyed to lay hands 
on even half of their millions? Or that the Antwerp bankers 
declined to loan money on a few rings and other ornaments 
belonging to Madame de Savoie? 

In the midst of her priceless art treasures, the luxury of 
her Court of Savoy, the Regent lived in desperate anxiety 
about the morrow. She was faced with an insoluble dilemma. 
If the troops which the struggle with France made necessary 
were not paid, they would plunder their remuneration to- 
gether out of the very area they were supposed to defend 
against the French raids. If the States thought they could 
not impose any further taxes, they would quickly see their 
citizens plunged into poverty and misery in another way. 
An ineluctable fate seemed to hang over the Netherlands. 
Peace was not anywhere in sight. 

Thus the years of Margaret's second regency dragged on. 



The Chess Player 

Threatened by the French in the south, by Gelderland and 
Friesland in the north and east, looted by pirates, ravaged by 
plague, floods, and hunger, the unhappy inhabitants of the 
Low Countries saw their last pennies claimed by a govern- 
ment that wanted to make war in Italy. In every city resist- 
ance grew. Even in the loyal Burgundian stronghold of 
Malines the people began to stir. 

Lack of funds, insurrection, war lack of funds, insurrec- 
tion, war. They were always the same problems that trou- 
bled Margaret's days. The demands of the imperial world 
policy on which the fame and glory of her House depended, 
and the interests of her stricken provinces these were 
sometimes totally contrary objectives which the Regent 
must attempt to reconcile. But whenever this proved impos- 
sible, whenever not a single way suggested itself of obliging 
the Emperor without dealing her subjects a deathblow, then 
the Regent with unshakable determination chose the side 
of her provinces, always managing in the end to see that her 
views prevailed. 

When in 1523 Christian of Denmark, fleeing before his 
rebellious people, came to ask his brother-in-law's help in 
getting back his crown, it was the persistent watchfulness 
of the Regent that saved the Netherlands from the destruc- 
tive consequences of a war with Scandinavia. Even the sup- 
plications of her foster child Ysabeau, who dared to plead 
with her aunt on behalf of her infamous husband, could not 
soften her heart. She paid Christian and Ysabeau a yearly 
stipend, tried to bring order into the confusion of their 
household, gave presents to the children; but, as two years 
before, she refused to let her lands, already so severely af- 
flicted, be involved in a quarrel which could only result in 
endless disasters. 



Ladies' Peace 

The English troops that were expected to help carry the 
war into French territory did actually land at Calais in Au- 
gust, 1523. In their first bellicose enthusiasm they even 
pressed to the very gates of Paris. But when the autumn rains 
made the terrain impassable, and the region had been practi- 
cally plundered empty, the English Generals bethought 
them of the warm hearth-fires at home. In November they 
embarked again. Military honor had been satisfied. 

Again the Burgundian troops were demanding their pay. 
Although the revolt in Friesland had been put down and Em- 
peror Charles, in his capacity of Count of Holland, was 
recognized as lord over Friesland, Gelderland went on with 
its struggle. Money was also needed again for defending the 
cities of North Holland. The States proposed to the Regent 
that it would be better to burden the ducal domains with 
mortgages, or even to sell them, rather than appeal again to 
a desperate population. 

But against this measure, by which the power of the House 
of Habsburg in the Netherlands would become a mockery, 
Margaret's feudal notions rebelled. Power over a people, she 
opined, ought to rest upon possession of the ground on which 
that people lived. And there remained nothing for her but to 
write her nephew the Emperor that no more financial sup- 
port was to be expected from the Netherlands. Her last at- 
tempts had been met by the population with such flaming 
indignation that all the provinces threatened to revolt. The 
measure of their misery was full. 

At this point an event occurred abroad which changed 
all the relationships involved. Francis I had set forth to re- 
conquer Milan, that illusion of the French, so often lost and 
lost again. Milan was indeed taken, and Francis continued 
further into the country in search of enemy troops that had 



The Chess Player 

entrenched themselves inside the walls of Pavia. He laid siege 
to this city and lingered for several months in a dolce far 
niente on one of those idyllic country estates of North Italy 
where life can be sweeter than anywhere else in the world. 
Francis seemed scarcely to remember that he was busy be- 
sieging a city. 

A sudden attack by the imperial troops scattered the 
French. Their king, who had defended himself bravely, was 
wounded in two places and attempted to save himself by 
flight. But he was recognized, and it was Charles de Lannoy, 
the Viceroy of Naples, who received the sword from the 
hands of the royal prisoner. 

The impression this news made throughout Europe was 
overwhelming. Now that he had caught the French king 
for him, Charles V wrote to his triumphant general, he him- 
self had hardly anything else to do than begin the war against 
the heathen. In the Netherlands Margaret saw to it that bon- 
fires were lighted and processions held to thank God that the 
French king, France itself, was in the Emperor's power. 
Francis I was taken off to prison in Spain. 

This was the opportunity, thought the Regent, for an at- 
tack upon the enemy along his northerly frontiers, to put 
an end for good and all to French presumptuousness. The 
Netherlander, indeed, looked with admiration on the bon- 
fires, treated the thanksgiving parades with suitable respect; 
but they obstinately refused the money for which the Re- 
gent again asked. Once more Margaret hoped for the help 
of the English. But for some- time now the friendship which 
Henry VIII and his minister Wolsey had announced with 
so much enthusiasm had been cooling. Charles had repeat- 
edly borrowed large sums from his "uncle of England" and 
now saw little advantage any more in a marriage with Mary 



Ladies' Peace 235 

Tudor, from whose dowry his debts would undoubtedly be 
deducted. In spite of his solemn engagement to the English 
princess, he had for some time been paying court through his 
representatives to Isabella, the daughter of the wealthy King 
Emanuel of Portugal, to whom Charles's elder sister Alienor 
had been married off, after he had already been married to 
two of her aunts, daughters of Ferdinand and Isabella of 
Spain. Isabella's dowry would certainly be paid in cash. Her 
"Indian" possessions were more attractive to Charles than 
the English friendship, which it would always be easy to 
buy back again with Isabella's ducats. 

Nor was the atmosphere in England the same as before. 
Instead of Cardinal Wolsey, Adrian of Utrecht, Charles's 
former teacher, had been elected Pope, and when Adrian 
died in 1523 after bitter disappointments, Wolsey saw the 
triple crown elude him once again. Was this the way the 
Emperor kept his promises? The Cardinal remembered the 
excellent wines the French Queen Mother, Louise of Savoy, 
had had sent to him at Calais. He found his master quite pre- 
pared to make other arrangements for the future of his only 
daughter. Negotiations were opened for her marriage to the 
King of Scotland. 

Thus Margaret's last support fell away. An empty ex- 
chequer, pillaging and mutinous troops, impoverished and 
rebellious subjects, who were trying to help themselves and 
who behind the government's back had sent representatives 
to France and England to rescue at least their commerce and 
fisheries such were the circumstances Margaret found her- 
self facing at the beginning of 1525. 

In enemy France the King's mother, Louise of Savoy, who 
ruled as regent, lived amidst cares just as desperate as those 
of her sister-in-law Margaret. The son she worshiped con- 



The Chess flayer 

fined in a tower and facing the choice between lifelong im- 
prisonment and handing over half his kingdom to the hated 
Habsburg; her country threatened by the imperial troops, 
her treasury empty, the population of North France tor- 
mented and pillaged by English and Burgundian raids there 
seemed no possible way out for the French Queen Mother 
either, unless the Emperor could be persuaded to make 
peace. She determined to turn to her sister-in-law, Madame 
de Savoie. 

This rapprochement was for Margaret too the only way 
out. She proceeded to Breda, where a conference had taken 
place between French representatives and some of her coun- 
cilors under the leadership of Count van Hoogstraten. An 
armistice was concluded, the herring fisheries were to be 
protected, and the sea declared free for transport of mer- 
chandise. In anticipation of a settlement concerning the 
liberation of the French King, Netherlands commerce was 
at least temporarily saved and the Burgundian troops could 
be used to suppress the revolutionary movements that were 
cropping up all over the Low Countries. 

With all the inflexibility of her unbending character the 
Regent fought against this resistance to her authority. She, 
who in her diplomatic dealings had always given proof of 
so much tact and adaptability, showed herself in her struggle 
with the Netherlands cities a true descendant of Charles the 
Bold. In Limburg, in Brabant, at Bois-le-Duc primarily, 
which was even besieged by Margaret's troops, the recalci- 
trance of the population was very severely dealt with. A 
bitter enmity grew up between the Regent and the people 
which in its gatherings drew strength from the new teach- 
ings of Brother Martin, who, albeit against his will, had 
brought about the all-destroying peasant revolution in the 



Ladies' Peace 

German Empire. But however threatening this popular 
movement became, Margaret was not to be distracted by 
any opposition from her life's aim: to keep the Netherlands 
as a coherent and consolidated entity in faithful subjection 
for her nephew the Emperor, the leader of Christendom, the 
head of her House. 

The armistice with France served to establish the condi- 
tions on which Charles would be prepared to release his rival 
from the prison in Madrid, where Francis, the much adored, 
surrounded and admired, sickened with hopeless loneliness. 
The people of the southern Netherlands knew well what 
they would propose to do with the prisoner whose armed 
bands had trampled and looted their countryside: 

Que ferons nous du roy, What shall we do with the King, 

De nostre prisonnier? This prisoner of ours? 

Que feist-on a due Charles What did they do to Duke Charles 

Quand f ut prins a Nanchy? When he was taken at Nancy? 

On ne sceut qu'il devint, They never knew what became of him, 

On le scet bien en France; They know it well in France; 

Qui lui f eroit ainsy If the same were done to him 

Ce seroit la vengeance. It would be vengeance. 

Thus sang the Burgundians, who had forgotten what they 
had thought at the time of their "Due Charles", the Scourge. 
But the Emperor, who in his slow deliberation never let him- 
self be carried away by first impulses, informed himself of 
Henry VIII's disposition and of his Aunt Margaret's opinion. 
The Regent saw the question entirely from the Nether- 
lands standpoint. Cession of the French territory up to the 
Somme, of Therouanne and Boulogne, were her first de- 
mands. The French feudal sovereignty over Flanders and 
Artois was to be ended and Francis must give up for good 
his alliance with Charles of Gelre. About the restitution of 



23 S The Chess Player 

the dukedom of Burgundy, which was one of the points on 
Charles's program, Margaret did not speak. It would be of no 
use to the Netherlands, and once more the Regent showed 
that the interest of her provinces weighed heavier with her 
than any increase of territory, which would mean princi- 
pally a rehabilitation. 

The tension in Europe mounted, and the prisoner of 
Madrid, who until now had been looked upon as a menace 
against whom one must defend oneself by leagues and trea- 
ties, acquired through his helplessness, through the presump- 
tion of his opponent, a tragic halo of injured chivalry, of 
noble martyrdom. What Francis would never have been 
able to bring about in freedom he succeeded in doing in his 
Spanish prison: Europe began to look favorably upon him, 
and a call to the Emperor to exercise clemency toward his 
powerless enemy echoed from all sides. 

In the Imperial Council opinion was divided between two 
possibilities: rendering France harmless for good, or binding 
the king so closely to Habsburg that he would never again 
attempt resistance against his original rival. But practically 
everyone agreed that no one could carry this affair through 
to a successful issue as well as the Regent of the Netherlands, 
"cette mere de sa Majeste", a better judge of what was to the 
Emperor's advantage and more sincerely devoted to it than 
anyone else in the world. Voices were raised: Madame de 
Savoie, and she alone, should be given the task of negotiating 
with the Regent of France, the Queen Mother Louise. 

But before this happened there came an end to the uncer- 
tainty and suspense in which Europe had been living for a 
year. Francis I was suddenly found ready to grant all the 
demands of his imperial opponent. He promised to give back 
Burgundy to Charles, grandson of Duchess Mary, six weeks 



Ladies' Peace 23$ 

after his return to France. He resigned his feudal sovereignty 
over Flanders and Artois, his claims to Naples, Arras, and 
Hesdin. He left all allies whom he had incited against the 
Habsburgs, alternately or simultaneously, to their fate. He 
would pay back the Emperor's debts to Henry VIII and 
promised him ships, troops, and money, to get himself 
crowned in Rome. A double marriage was to seal this agree- 
ment. Francis himself was to marry Alienor, the Dowager 
Queen of Portugal, and her little daughter, the Infanta 
Maria, was to marry his son the Dauphin. The King should 
immediately be set free, and his two sons should substitute 
for him in Spain as hostages. If he did not hold to the letter 
of the agreement and what a cruel one it was! Francis 
was to return to Spain and be locked up again in the tower 
in which he had been imprisoned for a year. 

This "treaty of Madrid" was received in the Netherlands 
as a blessing and a relief. A solemn torchlight procession, in 
which the Regent herself took part, wound through the 
streets of Malines to thank God for the peace. For nights on 
end bonfires flickered over the Low Countries, the populace 
was regaled on vats of Rhenish wine, and in the drunken 
atmosphere of festivity of those days it suddenly seemed 
that a royal signature to a shameful document had put an end 
to all misery. 

But no one in the Netherlands lived long in this blissful 
folly. Debts were just as oppressive, the default in payment 
of the troops just as dangerous for the countryside, where 
plundering bands of soldiers continued to take what was due 
them. The bonfires had scarcely gone out, the Te Deum had 
scarcely died away, when it became evident that the Peace 
of Madrid had done nothing to alter the state of affairs. 

For Francis had only concluded this peace with the inten- 



240 The Chess Player 

tion of breaking it as soon as his feet were on French soil 
again. While still in captivity he had secretly declared that 
his consent had been given only under pressure of necessity 
to this treaty which, in the words of a later verdict, as a 
Frenchman he should never have made and as a knight and 
man of honor should never have broken. The notables of 
the country, nobles and ecclesiastics, declared that the King 
had had no right to alienate the French inheritance. The 
States of the Duchy of Burgundy made known that they 
would defend their land with arms if the imperial troops 
made any attempt to execute the treaty by force. 

Margaret's agents announced to her that the French king 
was already exploiting in Europe the popularity he had won 
in prison, and that the league between Francis, the Pope, the 
Venetians, and other Italian rulers was threatening the Em- 
peror in Italy. A new war seemed unavoidable and the impe- 
rial authority in the Netherlands appeared to be threatened 
with extinction. In Flanders and Brabant the desperate 
people had already revolted, in Namur it was necessary to 
punish the cry of "Vive le Roi de France!" by public whip- 
ping. ^ 

While the battle against the Habsburgs was flaring up in 
Italy, where Milan was occupied by the imperial troops and 
the allies were defeated at Genoa and at Naples, Henry VIII 
dealt the conquering Emperor a heavy blow by breaking 
the still formally extant treaty and joining with his enemies. 
An invasion by united French and English troops threatened 
the unprotected Netherlands, when it became known that 
the imperial troops had taken Rome and had made of the 
Eternal City a terrible scene of pillage and murder. The 
Emperor, Protector of the Church, the Catholic King, 
whose Inquisition in Spain was exterminating the heretics, 



Ladies' Peace 24.1 

whose anger raged against Luther's followers, who defended 
the old faith by means of the stake, had abandoned the heart 
of the world, Rome itself, to a barbaric army that intended 
to proclaim the new teachings of this Brother Marth by 
destroying the treasures of Rome and desecrating its 
churches. All Italy, all Europe now knew but one enemy: 
The Emperor, whose world power threatened to stifle 
everybody else. 

Charles's triumphs in Italy were of short duration. As al- 
ways, money was lacking now too for the German and Swiss 
mercenaries. The French moved into Lombardy and recap- 
tured Genoa, and tortured Italy now welcomed as liberators 
the armies it had once feared. 

While the Emperor received with cool politeness the 
envoy of his former ally Henry, who came to announce the 
declaration of war to him, he treated the herald of the French 
King with the lashing disdain that he felt for the cowardly 
betrayal of his master. "I would hold you for craven and 
wicked if you failed the faith I have in you" "J e vous tiend- 
rois pour lasche et meschant si vous me f ailliez de la f oy que 
j'ai de vous", Charles had said to Francis in an interview with 
his prisoner in Madrid. And "craven and wicked" the King 
now was in his eyes, the King who had broken his promises 
and had not returned to prison, not even to save his honor. 
It seemed impossible that so much hatred, so much contempt, 
so much reciprocal offense, could ever be wiped out. 

Yet Europe could not go on living under this enmity. The 
English people, who blamed the wounded ambition of the 
hated Wolsey for the war, rose in revolt, and Henry VIII, 
whose popularity had suffered greatly through his passion 
for Anne Boleyn, for whom he wished to repudiate his 
queen, Catharine of Aragon, determined to drop the Cardi- 



242 The Chess flayer 

nal in order to keep Anne. Ambassadors left England to 
suggest to "la bonne Angloise", Madame de Savoie, an 
armistice between Henry, Francis, and Charles. 

Even before she had received the consent of her nephew, 
Margaret caught at this straw. And when an imperial repre- 
sentative had arrived in England an armistice was quickly 
arranged. The treaty left the Regent a free hand once more 
to reinforce Charles's authority in the Netherlands. The 
resistance of Gelderland against Burgundy was broken. Mar- 
garet had once more succeeded in preserving the unity of her 
provinces. In October, 1528, a treaty was concluded with 
Charles of Gelre, whereby he recognized the feudal sover- 
eignty of the Emperor over Utrecht, Overijssel, and Gelder- 
land. It seemed that at last the disastrous war years that had 
destroyed the prosperity of the Netherlands provinces 
would be followed by a period of peace. 

The years of unceasing work that had again and again 
brought her fresh, practically insoluble problems, had worn 
Margaret out in both body and mind. Her characteristic 
generous and sunny disposition had given place to a severe 
inaccessibility toward those from whom she expected criti- 
cism or opposition. After the death of Philibert the Hand- 
some her personal life had become a lonely one. No tender- 
ness mellowed the contours of her character any more; no 
longer did her commanding temperament find the counter- 
balance of a self-effacing love. Her affection for her brother 
Philip's children may for a while have done something to fill 
the gap, but her heart lay buried in Brou and no longer 
helped to temper the ready combativeness that had always 
been one of her most marked characteristics. 

Countless disappointments in men and their promises had 



Ladies' Peace 245 

made her hard, and she had been embittered by the suspicion 
with which her subjects and even those who called them- 
selves her servants regarded her. Incapable of grasping the 
significance of the forces in revolt against her absolute re- 
gime, she saw in the protests of her impoverished and tor- 
mented people only criminal rebellion. She did not under- 
stand the despair that was growing in a religiously and 
economically disrupted world. And to the extent that she 
resorted to more and more severe measures, she lost the au- 
thority she had once acquired through her conciliatory at- 
titude, her tact, her warm humanity. Her mental resistance 
gave way under the pressure of never-ending worries. A 
deep despondency frequently came over her, a longing to be 
freed at last from the struggle, the discord, thVrebellion, the 
mistrust. 

But she knew that she could not be spared yet, and she 
resisted her own longing for rest, for some peaceful haven, 
with the same hardness with which she compelled the popu- 
lation to resign itself in obedience to the absolute monarch, 
which she held to be the God-given order. She would fulfill 
to the utmost her duty, which lay in preserving the Em- 
peror's Burgundian lands intact in their subjection. A hard 
life had caused her to unlearn leniency both toward herself 
and toward others. 

But with her mental resilience Margaret also had lost the 
robust health that in the past had so often rescued her from 
depressions. Some trouble with her leg hampered her move- 
ments seriously, and while she had heretofore been able to 
moderate opposing views by her presence, she was now 
obliged to leave much of her task of government to her coun- 
cilors, who all too readily took advantage of the increasing 
helplessness of their ruler. Although she still f ulfilled her role 



244 The Chess Player 

in European politics with undiminished authority, in domes- 
tic affairs she felt the reins of control, which in the beginning 
she had held with so much self-confidence, slip from her 
hands. 

Was it any wonder that, though not yet fifty, Margaret 
felt old and weary of life and that she sometimes considered 
laying down her task and retiring to surroundings where she 
would find rest and affectionate care? For a long time she 
had supported the convent of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows 
at Bruges, and as the years went on, always heavier with sick- 
ness and worries, Margaret more often surrendered herself 
to the consoling thought of seeking refuge with the Rever- 
end Mother Ancelle, whom she called "my good mother, 
my friend" "ma bonne mere, ma mie". But her time had 
not yet come. Once more all her talents were to be called 
upon in the service of her Emperor and her House, in order 
to restore to an exhausted and moribund Europe a few mo- 
ments of peace. 

In January, 1529, the Pope and the Emperor had con- 
cluded an "eternal" alliance, in which the Pope had promised 
his new ally that he would come and crown him the follow- 
ing year in Boulogne. And now that the Italian points of 
dispute were settled, the possibility of coming to an agree- 
ment with France also seemed greater than before. At the 
ratification of the armistice with the Emperor, Francis I had 
been noticeably charming to Margaret's ambassadors, and he 
had given them the assurance that he would most gladly 
come to an understanding with their mistress. The Queen 
Mother, Louise of Savoy, Madame d'Angouleme, asked the 
Burgundian ambassador with emphasis whether her sister- 
in-law, the Regent of the Netherlands, had not given him a 
letter for her. She had already used all her powers of persua- 



Ladies' Peace 

and to ease the hatred which might cause the downfall of 
all Christendom. She wished to beg Margaret also to use her 
influence upon the Emperor, so that the two of them, as wise 
and peace-loving women, might put an end to this heart- 
rending war. 

And Madame d'Angouleme did more. In deepest secrecy 
and without the King's knowledge she sent a special envoy 
to Malines with a peace proposal to be tested against the ideas 
of Madame de Savoie. And after these two princesses, with 
utmost circumspection and entirely upon their own respon- 
sibility, had thus entered into contact, they sounded the two 
"enemies themselves concerning the possibilities of a rap- 
prochement. The Emperor, who saw the Turkish attack 
upon the Christian world drawing nearer, and whose empire 
was being torn by the struggles of the Reformation, was 
already prepared to drop his claims to the dukedom of Bur- 
gundy. Francis I, who had perceived that he could expect 
little satisfaction from his Italian dreams in the immediate 
future, was quite ready to promise to forget them entirely. 
The two monarchs, who a few years before had assailed each 
other with insults and challenges, seemed to have realized 
that they could make their names immortal in other ways 
than by despoiling their own and others' subjects. The Em- 
peror sent his aunt a mandate to undertake the negotiations 
in his name, but his instructions included such high demands 
that Margaret decided on her own responsibility to keep her 
commission secret, in the hope of rescuing the peace in a 
personal discussion with her sister-in-law, without disap- 
pointing the Emperor too much. 

For Margaret did not doubt that her diplomatic mastery- 
would get the upper hand of the French Queen Mother. 
And as so often before, she once again reinforced the effect 
of her talents by a rich and impressive setting, a grandiose 



246 The Chess Player 

presentation of the drama of this meeting that was to take 
place in the same Cambrai where her conference with the 
Cardinal-Legate of Amboise had once before brought about 
cooperation between her nephew and France. For the trip 
to Cambrai Margaret's ladies received new dresses. Her 
pages and lackeys looked gay in their new doublets and hose, 
the archers of her bodyguard resplendent in brand-new 
white taffeta bonnets and striped hose, half white, half 
brown-and-white. Even Neuteken, Madame's "pastime", 
the little dwarf, who cheered her with her jokes when she 
could find no distraction any more from her pressing cares, 
was put into a little costume of iridescent striped satin "bon 
et beau satin raye de couleur changeant" in which she was 
doubtlessly meant to enchant the eye of Madame d'An- 
gouleme. 

Margaret knew the effect of luxury and splendor, the 
persuasive power of outward show. In newly upholstered 
litters, on horses whose costly harnesses aroused the admira- 
tion of everyone, the Burgundian embassy traveled to Cam- 
brai. And the Abbot of St. Aubert, who had the honor of 
lodging Madame de Savoie, was one of the first to be im- 
pressed by the imperial air with which the Regent of the 
Netherlands made her entry into his abbey. Not until her 
litter had been carried into the building and set down before 
the door of her room did she step out. She had not thought 
it desirable that attention should be drawn to the fact that 
she could hardly walk. 

Opposite the abbey of St. Aubert in which Margaret 
stayed, Madame d'Angouleme had taken up her residence 
in the "hotel St. Pol". Across the street separating the two 
buildings a covered passage had been constructed for this 
occasion, so that the rulers actually lived in one house and 



Ladies' Peace 

could visit each other without the formalities etiquette de- 
manded whenever they left their houses. And they knew 
the value of keeping out of the public eye. For representa- 
tives from the whole of Europe had flocked to Cambrai, to 
keep informed of the expectations, the suppositions, the 
chances, and the rumors. No less than eight cardinals, ten 
archbishops, three-and-thirty bishops, four princes of the 
blood, fifteen dukes, and countless nobles and ecclesiastics 
of lower rank filled the monasteries and the houses of dis- 
tinguished citizens with their colorful display. The small 
streets were too narrow for the festive throng of courtiers 
and churchmen, clerics and halberdiers. The city was like a 
multicolored beehive and buzzed with excitement, while 
the two ladies, invisible save to their most confidential coun- 
cilors, decided the fate of Europe and the future of Christen- 
dom. 

For three weeks the negotiations between the two sisters- 
in-law were carried on. And finally, after the last points of 
difference had been removed by which the conference had 
more than once almost come to grief, on July 24, 1529, they 
settled the definitive wording of the peace of Cambrai, that 
"Paix des Dames" which was to live in history as the master- 
piece of Margaret of Austria and the triumph of feminine 
diplomacy over masculine force. What the Emperor had 
not been able to conquer with weapons, his aunt had been 
able to achieve with the persuasive power of her elegance, 
her tact, her tenaciousness and her gold. No influence that 
could be won in the entourage of the French Queen Mother 
had been too trivial for Margaret. Just as Neuteken the 
dwarf had been given a new costume, so her little counter- 
part from France "la sotte de madame la regente de 
France" had been honored with a crimson hood. An at- 



1 toe L h ess flayer 

mosphere of benevolence toward Burgundy grew up around 
Madame d'Angouleme, thanks to Burgundian gold. And 
the French regent finally signed an agreement that was 
scarcely less humiliating to France than the treaty of Madrid 
had been. Only his possession of Burgundy did the Emperor 
waive, and only for the time being, reserving his rights for 
some later occasion. 

Margaret's victory was complete, and the concession she 
had made in the matter of Burgundy was richly compen- 
sated through the hundreds of thousands of guilders paid by 
Francis I in ransom for his sons, in liquidation of Charles's 
English debts, and in contribution to Charles's journey to 
Italy. The Ladies' Peace assured the safety of the Nether- 
lands borders, relieved Flanders and Artois from their feudal 
allegiance to France, paralyzed the enemies of Habsburg 
who had always been dangerous only through the support 
of France. The Regent experienced the hour of her greatest 
triumph. The aim she had set herself at the beginning of her 
regency had been reached. And she had furthermore pre- 
sented her nephew the Emperor with a world power with 
which not a single competitor could interfere. 

For on the day the conditions of the peace were published, 
the English ambassadors hastened to conclude a treaty of 
peace and friendship with the representative of the all- 
powerful Emperor. And on that same day the Queen Mother 
of France, the Regent of the Netherlands, and the English 
envoys knelt before the high altar of Notre Dame of Cam- 
brai, and swore to the treaty that was to restore the illusion 
of peace to an afflicted Europe. 

The church ceremony was at an end. Fanfares blared. 
And the vaulted arches of the cathedral echoed the cry of 
the herald-at-arms: "La paix est faite!" "Peace has been 
made!" 



Fortune, Injortune, Fortune 




* I 'HE wheel turned. Out of cares and disappointments 
JL Margaret's stars had lifted her once again to peaks of 
power, to summits where every ambition was gratified, 
where scarcely a shadow darkened the glorious moment. 
What could the world still offer her after these triumphs? 
Her work was completed, her task fulfilled. 

On the 2yth of February, 1530, she had been able to in- 
form her subjects in the Netherlands that their lord, the 
Emperor-elect, had received the imperial crown from the 
hands of the Holy Father himself. The time was drawing 
near when her longing for rest could at last be satisfied, when 
she would be able to render account of her stewardship to 
her nephew, in order then to seek, amongst "all her dear 
daughters", the sisters of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows, the 
repose her office could never give her. 

The leg ailment which had repeatedly troubled her during 
these last years and for which her doctor had been treating 
her during the conferences at Cambrai tortured her in the 
early days of November, 1530, with cruel pains. The doctors, 
who thought their mistress was suffering from the gout, re- 
sorted to the treatments their inadequate science prescribed 

249 



250 Margaret of Austria 

in this affliction. But their error soon appeared. The pains 
increased, and a high fever showed "that the humors of the 
leg were mounting upward" "que les humeurs de sa jambe 
montoient en haulte". The three physicians decided to give 
Madame relief by opening her badly swollen leg, "to evacu- 
ate the humors" "pour faire evacuer les humeurs". 

It seemed at first that they had judged correctly. Improve- 
ment set in, the fever subsided. It seemed that their patient 
would speedily get well. 

But the next evening it became evident that their science 
had failed them. Signs of infection appeared, the patient suf- 
fered unbearable pain. And while the most skilled practi- 
tioners of Flanders were commanded to the sickbed of their 
ruler, the "black sisters" of Malines attempted to ease her 
torments, supporting her with hastily contrived down pil- 
lows. 

The patient herself was the first to understand that she 
would not recover from this illness. She demanded her father 
confessor and her notary, and signed a number of legacies for 
her servants, for the weeping women who were tending their 
mistress in her misery with touching devotion. On Novem- 
ber 3oth she was so exhausted that she felt the moment had 
come to hand over her powers of government to Count van 
Hoogstraten. 

It was no longer granted her to render account to her 
nephew and Emperor, nor had she been able to transmit her 
wise counsel to the young ruler over whose fate she had 
watched for so many years. But she could not go hence with- 
out a last greeting, a final counsel to this man whom she 
looked upon as her own son. 

Her secretary seated himself beside her deathbed. And 



Fortune, Infortune, Fortune . . . 251 

Margaret dictated her letter to Charles, a letter reflecting in 
simplest language the thoughts and f eelings that filled her in 
these last hours of her life and that were not to be driven 
out even by the most intolerable suffering: 

"Monseigneur, the hour is come when I can no longer 
write you with my own hand, for I find myself in such an 
indisposition that I doubt my life will be but brief. I am pre- 
pared and at rest in my conscience, and in all ways resolved 
to receive what it pleases God to send me; I have no regrets 
whatever, save for the privation of your presence, and that 
I can neither see nor speak with you once more before my 
death, for which I shall (on account of the doubt above men- 
tioned) compensate in part by this my letter, which, I fear, 
will be the last you will receive from me. I have appointed 
you my sole and universal heir in everything, and executor 
of my will; the carrying out of which I recommend to you. 
I leave you your lands over here, which, during your absence, 
I have not only maintained as you left them at your depar- 
ture, but have greatly augmented; I turn back to you the 
government of these, in which I believe I have loyally ac- 
quitted myself, and so much so that I hope for divine remu- 
neration, for your contentment, monseigneur, and for the 
good will of your subjects. I particularly commend to you 
peace, and especially with the Kings of France and England. 
And, finally, I beseech you, monseigneur, to let the love it 
has pleased you to bear this poor body be a reminder of the 
salvation of the soul, and a recommendation of my poor 
servants, commending you lastly to God, whom I beseech, 
monseigneur, that he grant you prosperity and long life. At 
Malines, the last day of November, 1 530. Your very humble 
aunt, Margaret." 



252 M&rgavet of Austria 

"Monseigneur, 1'heure est venue que ne vous puis plus 
escripre de ma main, car je me trouve en telle indisposition 
que doubte ma vie estre brefve. Je suis pourvue et reposee 
de ma conscience, et de tout resolue a recevoir ce qu'il plaira 
a Dieu m'envoyer; je n'ai regret quelconque, reserve de la 
privation de vostre presence, et de ne vous pouvoir voir ni 
parler encore une f ois avant ma mort, ce que (pour le doubte 
que dessus) suppleray en partie par ceste mienne lettre, qui, 
je le crains, sera la derniere que aurez de moy. Je vous ay 
institue mon heritier universel seul et pour le tout, au charges 
de mon testament; Taccomplissement duquel vous recom- 
mande. Je vous laisse vos pays de par dega que, durant vostre 
absence, n'ay seullement gardes, comme me les laissates a 
vostre partement, mais grandement augmentez; je vous rends 
le gouvernement d'iceulx, auquel me cuyde estre lealement 
acquittee, et tellement que j'en espere remuneration divine, 
contentement de vous, monseigneur, et gre de vos subjects. 
Je vous recommande singulierement la paix, et par especial 
avec les roys de France et d'Angleterre. Et, pour fin, vous 
supplie, monseigneur, que 1'amour qu'il vous a plcu porter au 
povre corps, soit memoire du salut de Tame, et recommanda- 
tion de mes povres serviteurs et servantes, vous disant le 
dernier a Dieu, auquel je supplie, monseigneur, vous donner 
prosperite et longue vie. De Malines, le dernier jour de no- 
vembre 1530. Votre ttis-humble tante, Marguerite." 

In the face of Death she was able to put into words her 
deepest convictions, those unassailable certainties with 
which she was herself imbued and which she wished to pass 
on to her foster son. She, who during years of power had 
known only struggle, and who in consideration of her man- 



Fortune, Infortune, Fortune ... 253 
date had had constantly to go against the longing of her sub- 
jects for peace, found on her deathbed the strength to rec- 
ommend peace to her belligerent nephew. After a lifetime 
of dynastic quarrels with France, she realized in this hour the 
necessity for friendly cooperation with the royal house she 
had feared and humiliated. 

That strength of soul with which, already in her youth, 
amid the storms of her journey to Spain, she had faced death 
did not forsake her now that she lay, stretched helpless in an 
agony of pain, knowing that her last hours had come. But 
the ironic resignation with which she had accepted her lot in 
those days had made way for the calm and exalted resigna- 
tion with which she now took leave of her earthly posses- 
sions, her earthly affections. Her last prayers were for the 
repose of her soul, and for her "poor servants", whose tears 
even could not make this parting bitter for her. 

"I have no regrets whatever". It was the voice of one who 
had done with happiness and sorrow, with the bitterness and 
sweetness of this life. 

A procession wound through the streets of Malines that 
day to implore the help of Heaven for the preservation of 
the Regent's life. At the Court of Savoy mourning de- 
scended upon the hearts of those who had devoted their 
lives to the service of a human, considerate mistress. In the 
night of November 30th, between midnight and one o'clock 
in the morning, this heroic woman's heart ceased to beat. 
Margaret of Austria had fought her last fight. 

The mausoleum she had built in distant Brou, so that she 
might repose there beside the husband whose undying youth 



Margaret of Austria 

had remained her finest illusion, was not yet ready when 
Margaret closed her eyes. Her embalmed body was therefore 
temporarily conveyed to the convent of Our Lady of Seven 
Sorrows at Bruges, where she had wished to end her life and 
to which, in gratitude for what she had hoped to find there, 
she had willed her heart. Here, before the altar in the convent 
chapel, where the gray nuns with their scarlet scapulars 
came to pray for the peace of their founder's soul, the mortal 
remains of the Regent lay until, upon a day in May, 1 532, a 
slow funeral procession left the tender-green land of Flan- 
ders to undertake the long journey, past cities and villages 
that had once greeted the young bride of the Duke of Savoy, 
past orchards and vineyards, along fields where the country- 
folk, astonished at the sight of such luxurious mourning, 
looked up from their work in the eternal earth, under the 
eternal skies. 



BilAiograph VindpI Works 
Consulted 




The poems preceding each chapter are taken 
from the Alburns poetiques de Marguerite 
cTAutriche, fid. M. Frangon, Paris, 1934 

Baumgarten, H., Geschichte Karls V. (Stuttgart, 1885). 

Van Den Berg, L. P. G, Correspondance de Marguerite <- 
Autriche avec ses amis sur les affaires des Pays Eos (La 
Haye, 1842-1847, 2 vols.). 

De Boom, Ghislaine, Marguerite cTAutriche-Savoie et la Renais- 
sance (Paris-Bruxelles, 1935). 

Bruchet, M., Marguerite <? Autriche, Duchesse de Savoie (Lille, 
1927). 

Bruchet, M., et E. Lancien, Itineraire de Marguerite d* Autriche, 
Gouvernante des Pays Bos (Lille, 1934). 

Carton de Wiart, Marguerite d* Autriche, une princesse beige de 
la renaissance (Paris, 1935). 

De Commines, P., Memoir es (fid. Dupont). 

Ehrenberg, R., Das Zeitalter der Fugger (Jena, 1896). 

Frangon, M., Albums poetiques de Marguerite d? Autriche 
(Paris, 1934). 

Cachet, E., Albums et oeuvres poetiques de Marguerite <? Au- 
triche (Mons, 1849). 

255 



256 Margaret of Austria 

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