Magistrates and Soldiers

It is well known how violent the king’s prejudices were against the queen, and how skilfully these prejudices were kept up by the cardinal, who, in affairs of intrigue, mistrusted women much more than men. One of the principal causes of this prejudice was the friendship of Anne of Austria for Madame de Chevreuse. These two women gave him more uneasiness than the war with Spain, the quarrel with England, or the embarrassment of the finances. In his eyes and to his perfect conviction, Madame de Chevreuse not only served the queen in her political intrigues, but—and this troubled him still more—in her love affairs.

At the first word the cardinal uttered concerning Madame de Chevreuse—who, though exiled to Tours, and believed to be in that city, had come to Paris, remained there five days, and had outwitted the police—the king flew into a furious passion. Although capricious and unfaithful, the king wished to be called Louis the Just and Louis the Chaste. Posterity will have a difficulty in understanding this character, which history explains only by facts and never by reasonings.

But when the cardinal added that not only Madame de Chevreuse had been in Paris, but also that the queen had communicated with her by the means of one of those mysterious correspondences which at that time was called a cabal, Louis XIII could contain himself no longer; he took a step toward the queen’s apartment, showing that pale and mute indignation which, when it broke out, led this prince to the commission of the coldest cruelty.

And yet, in all this, the cardinal had not yet said a word about the Duke of Buckingham. But deeming that the moment was now right, he said: “Sire, Buckingham has been in Paris five days, and left it only this morning.”

It is impossible to form an idea of the impression these few words made upon Louis XIII. He grew pale and red alternately.

“Buckingham in Paris!” cried he; “and what does he come to do there?”

“To conspire, no doubt, with your enemies, the Huguenots and the Spaniards.”

“No, zounds, no! To conspire against my honour with Madame de Chevreuse, Madame de Longueville, and the Condés.”

“O sire, what an idea! The queen is too prudent, and, besides, loves your Majesty too well.”

“Woman is weak, cardinal,” said the king; “and as to loving me much, I have my own opinion respecting that love.”

“I none the less maintain,” said the cardinal, “that the Duke of Buckingham came to Paris for a project purely political.”

“And I am sure that he came for quite another purpose, cardinal. But if the queen be guilty, let her tremble!”

“I believe, and I repeat it to your Majesty, that the queen conspires against her king’s power, but I have not said against his honour.”

“And I—I tell you against both; I tell you the queen does not love me; I tell you she loves another; I tell you she loves that infamous Buckingham! Why did you not have him arrested while he was in Paris?”

“Arrest the duke! arrest the prime minister of King Charles I! Can you think of it, sire? What a scandal! And suppose, then, the suspicions of your Majesty, which I still continue to doubt, should prove to have any foundation, what a terrible disclosure, what a fearful scandal!”

“But since he played the part of a vagabond or a thief, he should have been—”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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