Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

acted; and the truth was, that the queen dowager Catharine de Medicis, and her son Charles IX. being now con→ vinced that the Protestants were too powerful to be sub, dued by force, were determined to extirpate them by stra❤ tagem. They, however, dissembled their intentions; and, during the whole year 1571, talked of nothing but faithfully observing the treaties of entering into a closer correspondence with the Protestants, and carefully preventing all occasions of rekindling the war. To remove all possible suspicion, the court of France proposed a marriage between Charles the IXth's sister, and Henry prince of Bearn; and feigned, at the same time, as if they would prepare a war against Spain, than which nothing could be more agreeable to Henry. These things, enforced with the appearance of great frankness and sincerity, entirely gained the queen of Navarre; who, though she continued irresoluté for some months, yet yielded about the end, of 1571, and prepared for the journey to Paris, as was proposed, in May 1572. '

Sully's father was one of those who doubted the sincerity of the court, and conceived such strong apprehensions, that when the report of the court of Navarre's journey to Paris first reached him, he could not give credit to it. Firmly persuaded that the present calm would be of short continuance, he made haste to take advantage of it, and prepared to shut himself up with his effects in Rochelle, when every one else thought of leaving it. But the queen of Navarre having informed him of her design, and requested him to join her in her way to Vendome, he went, and took Sully, now in his twelfth year, along with him. He found a general security at Vendome, and an air of satisfaction on every face; to which, though he durst not object in public, yet he made remonstrances to some of the chiefs in private. These were considered as the effects of weakness and timidity; and therefore, not caring to seem wiser than persons of greater understandings, he seemed to incline to the general opinion. He went to Rosni, to put himself into a condition to appear at the magnificent court of France; but, before he went, presented his son to the prince of Bearn, in the presence of the queen his mother, with great solemnity, and assurances of the most inviolable attachment. Sully did not return with his father to Rosni, but went to Paris in the queen of Navarre's train. He applied himself closely to his studies, without neglecting to pay a proper

court to the prince his master; and lived with a governor and a valet de chambre in a part of Paris where almost all the colleges stood, and continued there till the bloody catastrophe which happened soon after.

Nothing could be more kind than the reception which the queen of Navarre, her children, and principal servants, met with from the king and queen; nor more obliging, than their treatment of them. The queen of Navarré died, and some historians make no doubt but she was poisoned; yet the whole court appeared sensibly affected, and went into deep mourning. Still many of the Protestants, among whom was Sully's father, suspected the designs of the court; and had such convincing proofs, that they quitted the court, and Paris itself, or at least lodged in the suburbs. They warned prince Henry to be cautious; but he listened to nothing; and some of his chiefs were as incredulous, and the admiral de Coligni in particular, though one of the wisest and most sagacious men in the world. The fact to be perpetrated was fixed for the 24th of August, 1572, and is well known by the name of the massacre of St. Bartholo mew. The feast of St. Bartholomew fell this year upon a Sunday; and the massacre was perpetrated in the evening.

All the necessary measures having been taken, the ringing of the bells of St. Germain l'Auxerrois for matins was the signal for beginning the slaughter. The admiral de Coligni was first murdered by a domestic of the duke of Guise, the duke himself staying below in the court, and his body was thrown out of the window. (See COLIGNI.) The king, as Daniel relates, went to feast himself with the sight of it; and, when those that were with him took notice that it was somewhat offensive, is said to have used the reply of the Roman emperor Vitellius, "The body of a dead enemy always smells sweet." All the domestics of the admiral were afterwards slain, and the slaughter was at the same time begun by the king's emissaries in all parts of the city. Tavanes, a marshal of France, who had been page to Francis I. and was at that time one of the counsellors and confidants of Catharine de Medicis, ran through the streets of Paris, crying, "Let blood, let blood! bleeding is as good in the month of August, as in May!" Among the most distinguished of the Protestants that perished was Francis de la Rochefoucault; who having been at play part of the night with the king, and finding himself seized in bed by men in masques, thought they were the king and his courtiers, who

came to divert themselves with him. During this carnage, Sully's safety is thus accounted for by himself: "I was in bed," says he, "and awaked from sleep three hours after midnight by the sound of all the bells and the confused cries of the populace. My governor, St. Julian, with my valet de chambre, went hastily out to know the cause; and I never afterwards heard more of these men, who, without doubt, were among the first that were sacrificed to the public fury. I continued alone in my chamber dressing myself, when in a few moments I saw my landlord enter, pale, and in the utmost consternation. He was of the reformed religion; and, having learned what the matter was, had consented to go to mass, to preserve his life, and his house from being pillaged. He came to persuade me to do the same, and to take me with him: I did not think proper to follow him, but resolved to try if I could gain the college of Burgundy, where I had studied; though the great distance between the house where I then was, and the college, made the attempt very dangerous. Having disguised myself in a scholar's gown, I put a large prayer-book under my arm, and went into the street. I was seized with horror inexpressible at the sight of the furious murderers; who, running from all parts, forced open the houses, and cried aloud, Kill! kill! massacre the Huguenots!' The blood which I saw shed before my eyes, redoubled my terror. I fell into the midst of a body of guards; they stopped me, questioned me, and were beginning to use me ill, when, happily for me, the book that I carried was perceived, and served me for a passport. Twice after this I fell into the same danger, from which I extricated myself by the same good fortune. At last I arrived at the college of Burgundy, where a danger still greater than any I had yet met with awaited me. The porter having twice refused me entrance, I continued standing in the midst of the street, at the mercy of the furious murderers, whose numbers increased every moment, and who were evidently seeking for their prey; when it came into my mind to ask for La Faye, the principal of this college, a good man, by whom I was tenderly beloved. The porter, prevailed upon by some small pieces of money which I put into his hand, admitted me; and my friend carried me to his apartment, where two inhuman priests, whom I heard mention Sicilian vespers, wanted to force me from him, that they might cut me in pieces; saying, the order was, not to spare even infants at the breast. All the good man could

1

do was to conduct me privately to a distant chamber, where he locked me up; and here I was confined three days, uncertain of my destiny, seeing no one but a servant of my friend, who came from time to time to bring me provision.'

[ocr errors]

Henry king of Navarre, who had been married to Charles the IXth's sister but six days before, with the greatest solemnity and with all the marks of kindness and affection from the court, was awaked two hours before day by a great number of soldiers, who rushed boldly into a chamber in the Louvre, where he and the prince of Condé lay, and insolently commanded them to dress themselves, and attend the king. They would not suffer the two princes to take their swords with them, who, as they went, saw several of their gentlemen massacred before their eyes. This was contrived, doubtless, to intimidate them; and, with the same view, as Henry went to the king, the queen gave orders, that they should lead him under the vaults, and make him pass through the guards, drawn up in files on each side, and in menacing postures. He trembled, and recoiled two or three steps back; but the captain of the guards swearing. that they should do him no hurt, he proceeded through, amidst carbines and halberts. The king waited for them, and received them with a countenance and eyes full of fury: he ordered them with oaths and blasphemies, which were familiar with him, to quit a religion, which he said had been taken up only for a cloke to their rebellion: he told them in a fierce and angry tone, "that he would no longer be contradicted in his opinions by his subjects; that they by their example should teach others to revere him as the image of God, and cease to be enemies to the images of his mother;" and ended by declaring, that "if they did not go to mass, he would treat them as criminals guilty of treason against divine and human majesty." The manner of pronouncing these words not suffering the princes to doubt the sincerity of them, they yielded to necessity, and performed what was required of them and Henry was even obliged to send an edict into his dominions, by which the exercise of any other religion but the Romish was forbidden.

In the mean time the court sent orders to the governors in all the provinces, that the same destruction should be made of the Protestants there as had been at Paris; but many of them nobly refused to execute these orders; and the viscount d'Orthe had the courage to write from Bayonne to Charles IX. that, "he found many good soldiers

in his garrison, but not one executioner: and begged him to command their lives in any service that was possible." Yet the abettors and prime actors in this tragedy at Paris were wonderfully satisfied with themselves, and found much comfort in having been able to do so much for the cause of God and his church. Tavanes, mentioned above, who ran about the streets crying "Let blood! let blood!" being upon his death-bed, made a general confession of the sins of his life; after which his confessor saying to him with an air of astonishment, "Why! you speak not a word of St. Bartholomew;" he replied, "I look upon that as a meritorious action, which ought to atone for all the sins I have ever committed." This is related by his son, who has written memoirs of him. The king himself must have supposed real merit to have been in it; for, not content with setting his seal and sanction to these detestable butcheries, he is credibly affirmed to have taken the carbine into his own hands, and to have shot at the poor Huguenots as they at tempted to escape. The court of Rome did all they could to confirm the Parisiaus in this horrid notion: for though Pope Pius V. is said to have been so much afflicted at the massacre as to shed tears, yet Gregory XIII. who succeeded him, ordered a public thanksgiving to God for it to be offered at Rome, and sent a legate to congratulate Charles IX. and to exhort him to continue it. Father Daniel contents himself with saying, that the king's zeal in his terrible punishment of the heretics was commended at Rome; and Baronius affirms the action to have been absolutely necessary. The French writers, however, have spoken of it in the manner it deserves; have represented it as the most wicked and inhuman devastation that ever was committed: "an execrable action," says one of them, Prefixe, "that never had, and I trust God will never have, its like." Seventy thousand, according to Sully's Memoirs, was the number of Protestants massacred, during eight days, throughout the kingdom.

At the end of three days, however, a prohibition against murdering and pillaging any more of the Protestants was published at Paris; and then Sully was suffered to quit his cell in the college of Burgundy. He immediately saw two soldiers of the guard, agents to his father, entering the college, who gave his father a relation of what had happened to him; and, eight days after, he received a letter from kim, advising him to continue in Paris, since the prince he

« FöregåendeFortsätt »