The Siege of Rochelle

The siege of Rochelle was one of the great political events of Louis XIII’s reign, and one of the cardinal’s great military enterprises. It is therefore interesting and even necessary that we should say a few words about it; moreover, many details of this siege are connected in too important a manner with the story we have undertaken to relate to allow us to pass it over in silence.

The cardinal’s political views when he undertook this siege were considerable. Let us unfold them first, and then we will pass on to his private views, which perhaps, had not less influence on his Eminence than the former.

Of the important cities given up by Henry IV to the Huguenots as places of safety there remained only Rochelle. It became necessary, therefore, to destroy this last bulwark of Calvinism—a dangerous leaven, with which the ferments of civil revolt and foreign war were constantly mingling.

Rochelle, which had derived a new importance from the ruin of the other Calvinist cities, was then the focus of dissensions and ambitions. Moreover, its port was the last gateway in the kingdom of France open to the English, and by closing it against England the cardinal completed the work of Joan of Arc and the Duc de Guise.

The king was to follow as soon as his Bed of Justice was held. But on rising from his Bed of Justice on the 28th of June, he felt himself attacked by fever. He was, notwithstanding, anxious to set out; but his illness becoming more serious, he was obliged to stop at Villeroi.

Now, whenever the king stopped the musketeers stopped. The consequence was that D’Artagnan, who was still in the guards, found himself, for the time at least, separated from his good friends Athos, Aramis and Porthos.

He arrived, however, without accident in the camp established before Rochelle toward the 10th of September, 1627.

Everything was unchanged. The Duke of Buckingham and his English, masters of the Isle of Ré, were still besieging, but unsuccessfully, the citadel of St. Martin and the fort of La Prée; and hostilities with Rochelle had begun, two or three days before, about a fort which the Duc d’Angoulême had just built near the city.

The guards, under M. des Essarts’s command, took up their quarters at the Minimes.

But, as we know, D’Artagnan, preoccupied by the ambition of passing into the musketeers, had formed but few friendships among his comrades. He found himself isolated, and given over to his own reflections.

One day D’Artagnan was walking alone along a pretty little road leading from the camp to the village of Angoutin, when, in the last ray of the setting sun, he thought he saw a musket-barrel glittering behind a hedge.

He determined to direct his course as far away from it as he could, when, behind a rock on the opposite side of the road, he perceived the muzzle of another musket-barrel.

It was evidently an ambuscade.

The young man cast a glance at the first musket, and with a certain degree of anxiety saw that it was levelled in his direction; but as soon as he perceived that the mouth of the barrel was motionless, he threw himself flat on the ground. At the same instant the gun was fired, and he heard a ball whistle over his head.

No time was to be lost. D’Artagnan sprang up with a bound, and at the same instant the ball from the other musket tore up the stones on the very place on the road where he had thrown himself face to the ground.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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