A Flash of Scarlet Part V

Louis XIII was certainly not the man his father was except perhaps in matters of war. He was a sensitive child who had been born with a double row of teeth. The constant beatings bestowed on him by his tutor and the favoritism shown to his brother, Gaston,  made him into a rather melancholy person who would much rather be out hunting than enduring the pressures of court. Henry had engaged Charles d’Albert de Luynes to teach Louis the hunt, in particular the art of fowling. Louis grew attached to Luynes, perhaps finding the friend he had longed for, someone who shared his interests,  a “favorite”.

Charles d’Albret de Luynes

Although Louis had come of age in 1614, his mother kept a tight hand on the reigns of the kingdom, many of her policies,  aided by Concini,  had set the country in turmoil. She had reversed Henry IV’s anti-Spanish policy, squandered France’s fortunes and bowed to the demands of the nobles. When it seemed that she was gaining too much power along with her favorite, Concini, Luynes had him assassinated. How strong of an influence Luynes had on Louis’ decisions at this time, one cannot say but at that point, Louis seemed to “come into his own”. He did stand on a billiard table and shout to Richelieu that he was “finally free of him”.

Marie was exiled to Blois with Richelieu who immediately sent an ingratiating letter to the King stating that he would inform the King of activities at Blois. Soon after, Henri du Plessis , who was still serving the court,  came to Richelieu with news that the King was contemplating sending him away from Blois. The letter had obviously not impressed Louis in the way he hoped but rather,  showed that Richelieu could not be trusted. He decided to make for Coussay, a manor he owned from which he was promptly commanded by the King to not remove himself. Then he was sent back to Lucon, to again take up his duties of Bishop. Ever industrious, he wrote “A Defense of the Principal Articles of the Catholic Faith”,  a book preaching obedience to the King.

This was not enough by any margin, though and one may count this time as one of the lowest points in his life. 5 months later, he was sent from Lucon to Avignon along with his brother Henri and his brother-in-law, Francois de Pontcourlay. A search was made for documents to incriminate Richelieu but none were found. Then Francoise his sister died in labour and her child soon after. Richelieu cancelled the lease on his house and wrote a directive regarding his belongings and burial.

In the meantime, Marie plotted her way out of Blois and made a daring escape to the Chateau Loches in Angouleme. From there she sent a message to Louis saying that she was prepared to make war for his own sake and that Luynes had been a bad influence on him.  Then a letter was sent to Richelieu to join her in Angouleme.  Louis retaliated to his mother’s threat by stating that he was not afraid of going to war. Richelieu was called to mediate a peace and called for  the designation of “safe places”. As part of the “Peace of Angouleme,  the Duc d’Epernon, who had helped Marie escape was pardoned and a date for the Queen’s return to Paris was set.

Richelieu’s return to court was not applauded by most of Marie’s courtiers and that eventually led to Henri du Plessis being challenged to a dual by the Marquis de Themines. It was over in an instant. Henri was dead along with the male line in the family.

The reconciliation between mother and son was of little significance however, as rebellion began to swirl around the Queen mother who refused to return to Paris. Many who saw this as an opportunity to rise themselves, began to congregate around her. Along with Gaston,  Louis’ own brother, she headed a revolt of the nobles which was soon put down by the KIng. Again, Richelieu mediated the Peace of Angers between mother and son which allowed Marie to take up residence at Angers.

Places of Exile

Places of Exile for Marie de Medici

Luynes, who had his own agenda in all of this, including the execution of Leonora Galigai, Concini’s wife, as accomplice to his crimes. He would gain all her possessions on her death. She was beheaded in 1617 for crimes against the King. Marie would be devastated by this, she had grown up with Leonora and the gulf would widen between her and her son, another court intrigue.

One can see here the predicament Richelieu found himself in during these times, (1616-1621), holding his post as Marie’s adviser without offending the King and ruining his prospects. His quick thinking while gathering troops for the Queen did indeed raise him in her esteem and she pushed for his rise to Cardinal. Louis on the other hand was still suspect of Richelieu and in fact sent a missive to the Pope asking for an adjournment to the promotion. Not to be daunted, Richelieu took this disappointment and endeavored to help Marie regain the rights she had as the King’s mother. Soon the opportunity that war provides would be upon them and bring the cloak of scarlet with it.





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