Front Matter Gauls Defeat Romans Vercingetorix Saints of France Attila, Scourge of God Story of Clovis Sons of Clovis Mayors of the Palace Charles the Hammer Pepin the Short Charlemagne in Lombardy Defeat at Roncesvalles Emperor of the West Louis the Pious War of Three Brothers Louis the Stammerer Paris defies the Sea Kings Rollo the Viking Hugh Capet Becomes King Bishop Betrays the Duke Robert the Pious The Peace of God Harold Visits Duke William William Sails to England The Battle of Hastings Peter the Hermit First War of the Cross Louis the Fat and Laon King Fights his Vassal Second War of the Cross French Queen of England How Normandy Was Lost Albigenses War Battle of Bouvines Story of Hugh de La Marche Reign of St. Louis St. Louis's last Crusade Peter the Barber Knights vs. Weavers Pope vs. Philip the Fair Sons of Philip the Fair Philip VI vs. Flanders Battle and Plague King vs. Charles the Bad The Jacquerie Stephen Marcel Betrays Paris Charles V and du Guesclin Du Guesclin Fights for France The Madness of Charles VI The Battle of Agincourt The Maid of Orleans End of Hundred Years' War King vs. Charles the Bold Troubles of Duchess Mary Charles the Affable Knight Without Reproach Battle of the Spurs Francis I, Gentleman King King Taken Prisoner Duke of Guise Defends Metz Calais Returns to France The Riot of Amboise Huguenot and Catholic St. Bartholomew Massacre War of the Three Henries The Protestant King Edict of Nantes Reign of Favorites Taking of La Rochelle Power of the Cardinal-King Reign of Louis XIV The Man in the Iron Mask The Height of Power Edict of Nantes Revoked War of Spanish Succession

History of France - H. E. Marshall

The Reign of Favorites
Louis XIII (Queen Mother, Regent) [1610-1643]

Henry IV, you remember, had been married to a Princess of France. He never loved her, they had no children, and some time after he became King of France the Pope allowed him to put away his wife. Soon after he married an Italian lady, Mary of Medici. Her son Louis, a little boy of nine, now came to the throne as Louis XIII.

Louis was of course too young to rule, so Mary of Medici was made Regent. Unfortunately, Mary was a weak and foolish woman, and allowed herself to be ruled by favorites. The chief of these were an Italian named Concini and his wife. Mary heaped honors of all kinds upon this man, making him Marshal of France, although he had never so much as seen a battle.

When Henry IV died all his projects for a great war died with him. Instead of fighting with Spain Mary arranged that Louis XIII should marry the Infanta Anne, and that his sister Elizabeth should also marry a Spanish Prince.

Sully could not consent to this, and as Mary would not give up her plans he gave up his posts and went away to live quietly in the country, taking no more part in ruling the land.

Daily Concini grew more insolent, for his pride knew no bounds, and daily hatred against him increased. As Louis grew up he, too, hated his mother's favorite, for he had one of his own. This was a gentleman named Luynes, the keeper of his falcons. For Mary of Medici took little trouble to teach her son the duties of a king. Instead, she did all she could to shut him out from any part in the government, and even allowed people to think that he was lacking in sense and unable to rule. He was allowed to grow up among his servants, and his favorite amusements were cock fights and bull fights, and setting falcons to catch sparrows in the gardens of the Tuileries. He made a very good stable boy, and he helped the gardeners cutting turfs and driving cartloads of earth, and was very clever with his hands.

Luynes hated Concini, and he did everything he could to increase Louis's hatred of him. He made Louis believe at length that his throne and his very life were in danger. Then the King plotted with his falconer, a gardener, a clerk, and some soldiers to kill Concini. They also persuaded a Captain of the Guard to help them.

One morning Concini went as usual to the Louvre to visit the Queen. Just as he was crossing the drawbridge before the great door, the Captain of the Guard ran out upon him, followed by several soldiers.

"I arrest you in the name of the king," he said, laying his hand on Concini's arm.

"What, I?" cried he in astonishment.

He had not time to say more, for several shots rang out and he fell dead.

Louis and his favorite, Luynes, were waiting anxiously for news, ready to fly if the plot failed. In a few minutes shouts of, "Long live the King!" rang out.

"Sire," cried an officer, rushing in, "from this hour you are King. Concini is dead." Then lifting Louis in his arms he held him up to the high window, so that he might be seen by the people who were rapidly gathering in the court below. Louder and louder rang out the cheers and cries of "God save the King!"

The news soon reached the Queen. She knew her day was over. "Poor me!" she cried; "I have reigned seven years. Now the only crown I can hope for is a heavenly one."

She asked to see her son. He refused, and held her prisoner in her own rooms. Later on she was banished to the Castle of Blois.

One of Louis's first deeds was to send for his father's old advisers. When they came he received them with tears of joy. "I am now your King," he said. "I have been your King, but now I am and shall be your King more than ever. "

It was not however the advisers of Henry IV who were to have the power, but Louis's favorite, Luynes. He soon rose to be of great importance. He was made a duke, married a great lady, while Louis heaped upon him all manner of honors. But he was no more fitted to rule than Concini had been. His one idea was to make himself and his family great and powerful. So in a very short time he was hated by every one. Then many of the nobles, angry at the power of this upstart, remembered the exiled Queen. So they began to plot with her, and at length helped her to escape.

Mary was kept a prisoner, the doors of the castle were locked and closely watched. But having made up her mind to escape she cared little for bolts and bars. Was not the window open?

So one dark February night when every one in the castle had gone to sleep Mary alone waked. She made bundles of all her jewels and treasures, and then awaited the signal. At length it came.

A knight climbed the ladder which had been placed against the high terrace that surrounded the castle. Then he climbed the second ladder from the terrace to the high window of the Queen's room. When he reached the window he tapped upon it, and it being opened he leaped into the room.

The Queen wasted no time in talk, but gathering her wide skirts about her she gave her hand to the knight and stepped out of the window. The knight went first, the Queen next, and then a few faithful servants followed. Silently and anxiously they climbed down. To a lady utterly unused to danger it was a terrible descent.

The window was at a great height, and in spite of all her courage Queen Mary was breathless and shaken when she reached the terrace beneath. Still she was not free; the terrace was a long way from the ground. But she could not face the perilous climb down the second ladder. So sitting on a cloak she slid down the steep slope and safely reached the bottom.

The ladders were at once thrown into the Loire so that no one might know how the Queen escaped. Then through the darkness she sped, until at the end of the bridge she reached her carriage. Getting in, she was quickly driven away, and reached the spot where soldiers and friends awaited her without any adventures.

So quietly had the Queen slipped away that in the castle no one had the slightest idea of it. Next morning as it grew later and later her servants began to wonder why she slept so long. They listened at her door and could hear no noise. At length they burst into her room and found it empty. They were greatly troubled and knew not what to think. In a few days they heard that she had escaped and was far away.

When Louis and Luynes heard of the Queen mother's escape they were both much afraid. But Louis decided it would be best to make friends with her, before her followers had time to rise in revolt. So mother and son met and forgave each other. With tears running down her cheeks the Queen kissed her son, crying, "God bless us, how the boy has grown!"

But although war between the King's party and the Queen's party was avoided, war broke out in another quarter. The Protestants had become very uneasy, for they were no longer treated as they had been in the time of Henry IV. Now Louis let it be known that the Kingdom of Navarre should henceforth not only be a part of France but that it should be Catholic. As Navarre, and especially Beam, the birthplace of Henry IV, was the most Protestant part of France, the Protestants began to fear for their religion. They would not give way to Louis, and once more a war of religion began.

Louis marched against the Huguenots, resolved to crush them utterly. But for leader he had Luynes, who knew as little about war as Concini had done. So although he had a fine army he won no victory, but made mistake after mistake.

This made the nobles very angry, and Louis himself was at length growing tired of his favorite, when he suddenly died of fever.