A Flash of Scarlet Part XIII

When the war ended in August of 1630, Richelieu hearing that the King was gravely ill, rushed to Lyon.  Louis suffered from fever and dysentery so commonly caught in the hot, swampy areas of France. By the time Richelieu arrived, Louis had been bled seven times and given the Last Rites of the Catholic church.  His brother Gaston, next in line for the throne was quickly summoned and the court waited with bated breath to see the final over-throw of the hated Cardinal. Once again, Richelieu was on the precipice.

The Queen mother waited to give the signal for his arrest as an enemy of the State, the person who had blocked her ambitions.  Louis summoned the Duc de Montmorency and commended the Cardinal to his protection in Languedoc. No sooner had he done this than an internal abscess burst. It was his mother and Queen Anne who nursed him and tried to bring him under their influence. Louis was swayed in so far as he made an agreement that he would consider ending the Cardinal’s career once the Italian campaign was over.

The war did end and Marie threw a great celebration not for the end of the war but to celebrate the imminent downfall of her enemy. To her surprise, the King, now recovered was reconsidering his position with the man whose brilliance had turned the tide. He assured Marie of the Cardinal’s loyalty. She was asked to reconcile with Richelieu and attend the royal Council as usual. Marie agreed and as a show of confidence invited the Cardinal’s niece back into her employment from which she had been cast, all this just a ruse. She seethed with rage at the news of Richelieu’s alliance with the King of Sweden, a Protestant. Madame de Combalet, the Cardinal’s neice, a reserved and sensitive girl returned for her re-appointment and was met with such a berating that she fled the chamber in tears.  Still, Marie promised Louis that she would honour her committment to reconciling with the Cardinal but it took only a few minutes after his appearance for her to explode into a torrent of epithets. He was a knave and a traitor to his King and country. She would never sit at council with him again. Richelieu left.



La Journee des Dupes–  Maurice Leloir

Marie brought every pressure to bear on her son, a son who was easily confused by scenes such as these. At the hunt, he was strong and bold but in these situations he teetered on the brink of childishness. Reminded by his aide de chambre, Saint-Simon that he was after all master of the kingdom, Louis started to regain his composure and determined to put matters right. He returned to the Luxembourg, Marie’s splendid palace, where she again attempted to persuade him to release Richelieu’s ministers and replace them with hers. In the meantime the Cardinal himself arrived at the Palace.  Finding all the doors locked to the chamber,he  routed himself through a secret passage and entered . The King was surprised but Marie upon seeing him lost no time in attacking him once more. At this, he reverted to his prime tactic of propitiation and tears, asking to be sent to retirement.  The King seemed to accept this and Richelieu returned to the Petite Luxembourg  distraught, his dismissal could mean exile at the least and death at the worst. Louis appointed the two Marillac brothers as his mother had said and then left for the hunting lodge, his place of refuge.

At word of the Cardinal’s downfall, Paris breathed a sigh of relief. What ever good he had done had been counteracted by acts of tyranny. To build the Palais Cardinal, he had displaced people and their livelihoods. The Luxembourg was soon surrounded by a crowd grateful to the Queen Mother. Couriers were sent all over Europe and her return to power was celebrated with Queen Anne and Monsieur, the King’s brother.

While the Cardinal sat in despair, some of the more conscientious men of the court, decided that Richelieu should follow the King to Versailles on the pretext of saying good-bye. When he arrived there was a long conversation with Louis during which their devotion to each other was re-established, again each man realizing the critical role played in the other’s life. The announcement was made with great joy to the attending courtiers, then letters began to fly once more. A letter of appreciation and devotion to Louis and one to his family telling them that although their services would no longer be needed, not to blame Louis. Another letter to the garrulous old soldier,  Amador de la Porte, his uncle, not to attack the queen verbally as he still owed her his entry into court. Several arrests followed as Marie’s followers were displaced by Richelieu’s men. Louis had stated that he would find a way to deal with his mother and overcome the influence of her followers. It would not take long for the Cardinal to deal with them in his own way.







A Flash of Scarlett Part IV

While Richelieu toiled away in the country, Henry IV, the first Bourbon king, continued his life of warring, over-indulging and taking mistresses until “the madman Reveillac” caught up with him as he was riding through Paris in a coach. Henry, who had become somewhat paranoiac, was in a deep depression at the time, even sensing his impending death. As the coach rolled along Ravaillac a deranged religious fanatic, jumped onto the coach, reached inside and stabbed him twice. All France mourned “le Vert Galant”,  the king who walked among his people. The year was 1610.

This left Louis (XIII), though not his father’s favorite, next in the line for the throne. Since he was only 8 years old at the time, his mother, the infamous Marie de Medici became regent. As with most royal marriages of the time, it was one of expediency and not love. Henry was known to have had 60 mistresses, many of whom’s children were raised as one at St. Germaine en Laye.  Marie was daughter of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Francesco de Medici and Joanna,  Archduchess of Austria. This made Marie part Hapsburg. The Hapsburg empire was an ever-encroaching threat on France’s borders and was home to many Protestant nobles. Couple this with her personality, which was said to be over-bearing and unintelligent and she became very suspect to the people.

Henri iv and Marie de Medici marriage

Henri IV and Marie de Medici Wedding 1600

Eventually, Marie made one mistake too many when she decided Louis would marry Anne of Austria and her daughter, Elisabeth would marry Phillip IV of Spain, both countries a threat to France. After leading a rebellion of nobles against her, the ultra-Catholic, Prince de Conde, forced a treaty with her which included a meeting of the Estates General, an assembly of the 3 levels of French society, the clergy, the nobility and the commoners or  Third Estate.  The Estates General (États-Généraux) started as an advisory counsel to the King as far back as the 13th century but never became an actual institution. At this meeting,  Conde would purportedly be fighting to free Louis from bad counsel which included Marie’s favorites,  Concino Concini and his wife, Leonora Galigaii.  That being said,  it was also an opportunity to bully her into rescinding the reduction of the noble’s stipends.

While the noble’s returned to their province’s to arm themselves, officials began looking for people to represent their section of the estates. Like today, the common people were represented by privileged civil servants such as lawyers, except in this case, their positions could be purchased. Naturally, Conde opposed this along with the clergy. The Third Estate, complained about their eternal lot of over-burdening tax and the noble’s pension and yet, they believed that royal sovereignty should be upheld.

Within the clergy,  elections were held in which Richelieu remained moderate and with the backing of his supporter, the Bishop of Poitiers,  was chosen to give the closing speech for the clergy at the Estate. He had previously written a letter to Concini declaring his loyalty to the crown . After his speech which included a statement speaking to the toleration of the Protestants as being harmful to the God that had given the King his power, the Queen regent decided to promote him. She was going ahead with the Spanish marriages of her children.

Richelieu was visiting the court when Elisabeth became ill with smallpox. Richelieu was asked to stay behind with her as the wedding party traveled to Bordeaux.  When the two finally caught up with the wedding party, the Queen was impressed enough to reward Richelieu with the position of chaplain to Anne of Austria, Louis’ new wife. In 1616, he sided with the Concini’s that Marie  should not re-appoint her old ministers and was granted the position of Counseillor d’Etat or adviser to the Crown. The dreamed of pied- a -terre suddenly became a reality as Richelieu rose in favor with the royal court and the clergy.

Conde refused to return to court even after the treaty so the Queen sent Richelieu to speak with him.  This brought Conde back but it wasn’t long until he started to cause trouble. He, being second in line to the throne, had a vested interest in stirring up public opinion. After spreading sedition against Concini, he was lured to the court,  arrested and thrown into  the Bastille. The public started to riot at this breach of protocol and sacked Concini’s house. Richelieu was sent to quiet the Duc de Nevers who took up for Conde but with little success. Shortly after, Marie looking for new support, made him secretary of state and then of the military. We now start to see some of Richelieu’s determination and character not to say the least of his energy.

Missives began to fly to all corners of France and Europe committing to a neutral stance on religious politics, commencing his life-long attempts to unite the country. Soon though, things began to get out of control with another military uprising in the northeast. The complaints from nobility remained the same, the Italians at court, lack of funds to the nobility, no response to the issues raised at the Estates General.  This time though, Marie was not to be bought off. She offered her withdrawal from affairs of state but refused Richelieu’s offer. Here too, we see the other side of Richelieu’s character, that chameleon shade as he agrees to keep Louis informed of court activities.

Louis, now almost of age had formed a huge resentment to the treatment of his mother and her favorites. He began secret meetings to discuss the future of Concini and the effect he had on court. He was an insolent, braggart who generally ignored the King. On April 24, 1617 the matter was solved when Concini was mysteriously shot in the courtyard of the Louvre.


Louis XIII 1620

What happened next was too extreme to be believed, unless you know of the French standards of the day. Concini was quickly buried  only to be dug up by a mob and his body dragged through the streets to the Pont Neuf,  the new bridge so recently built by the late king. There,  after being hung by the feet he was brutally dismembered (genitals cut off among other things), then dragged through the streets and burned. His bones and ashes then thrown into the river.

The Assasination of Contini

The Assassination of Contini  1617

It happens that Richelieu was crossing the bridge that day.  By some miracle he was able to cross after shouting his allegiance to the king. There is no need to wonder what could have happened if they had known he had been in  consort with the dead man.

Main sources:  Emnence: Cardinal Richelieu and the Rise of France, Jean Vincent Blanchard,  The Bourbon Kings, Desmond Seward


The Struggles in France

The Reformation in France did not take the same shape as in Switzerland.There, the nobility were staunch Catholics and eager to maintain their power over any possibility of Protestant nobility gaining strength. John Calvin had sent out hundreds of missionaries to France resulting in a Protestant population of near 2 million by 1550 although it has been said that not all were followers of Calvin. Francis I had tolerated the Huguenots for much of his reign (1515-1547) until he realized that there was little they could do for him personally or politically. When he died, Henry II commenced persecution of the Huguenots, among whom were brilliant military leaders such as Gaspar de Coligny and Anthony, King of Navarre, their arch enemies, the Guise family. The young king, Francis II came heavily under the influence of this family.

When Francis II died in 1560, Catherine Medici became regent for her son, Charles IX. She being a foreigner, initially encouraged the rise of the Huguenots to balance her position against the Guises, who had ambitions for the crown themselves. Eventually, civil war broke out between the Guises and the Huguenots. Catherine, fearing Coligny’s influence on her son, sided with Henry, Duke de Guise.

In 1562, Henry de Guise was passing through the area of Vassy on the way to his estates and decided to stop for mass. He encountered a group of Huguenots gathered for service in a barn. Some of his men tried to enter but were repulsed. When a stone hit him in the head, he decided to burn the church, killing and injuring near 163 people. This attack was seen as a breach of the Edict of St. Germain which Catherine had proposed earlier to maintain peace between the two sides. The Huguenots set about creating forts along the Loire River preparing for what would become “The French Wars of Religion”.

One of the most notorious atrocities during these wars was the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in 1572. It was actually only one of many “mob attacks” on the Protestants which spread across France in the days that followed. Catherine Medici and Henry de Guise are thought to have instigated it. The Protestant prince, Henry of Navarre was to marry Margarite de Valois in an attempt at reconciling the opposing sides.  On August 18, many Protestant nobles, including Gaspar de Coligny arrived in Paris to celebrate the wedding. This seemed fortuitous to Catherine and de Guise. On August 24, Coligny was captured at his lodgings and thrown to the street where the ritualistic killing began with castration and disfigurement. He was dragged through the street before being burned by the crowd.  An estimated 10,000 people died in the coming days.

The riots provoked further military action with sieges being laid on Sommierres, Sancerres and La Rochelle. In this seige of La Rochelle in 1572, the leader, Henry of Anjou was called away, to defend Poland against further Protestant attacks. The resulting Treaty of Boulogne resulted in La Rochelle , Montaubin and Nimes being allowed restricted freedom of worship.  Anjou failed to do what Richelieu did and that was to create a successful barrier into the harbor.

In 1588, Henry III, fearing the power of the Guise family, had  de Guise assassinated. He joined forces with Henry of Navarre who was Protestant. When he was killed, Navarre became king, France’s first Protestant king.  Under Henry, the Huguenots would gain some security under the Edict of Nantes. Freedom of worship was granted to 100 communities across France, particularity in the south. They were also given political independence but they could only worship in private. That political independence was lost when Louis XIII came to the throne in 1610. Their religious freedom was completely lost in 1685 when Louis XIV, France’s absolute monarch, reigned.

Jean Beauchamp, my 7th great grandfather, was born in Nanthieul, Perigord, France in 1579 and died in La Rochelle in 1630 as did his wife, Louise de Lanterna. They would have lived through the Great Siege of La Rochelle, dying just a few years after it was over. They are buried in unmarked graves, no cause of death known at present. They may have even caught a glimpse of “the Red Eminence” as he paraded into the city when it was all over.

Jean and Louise’s only recorded child, Michel, married that same year, a curiosity to me. It is noted at Fichier Origine that his wife Marie Roullet’s parents were married in the Great Temple in La Rochelle. One assumes that Michel would have been Protestant as well.  Marie and Michel had 6 children before they emigrated, 4 of whom came to Montreal, Quebec as pioneers. Before she came in 1559, Marie Dardeyne Beauchamp, had lost an infant, Marie (1658) and a son William, at 6 years (1652). She would have 8 more children in Canada.





A Teachable Frame of Mind

The period of history known as “the Renaissance” opened the door to inquiry, expression and not a little controversy. It had it’s roots in Florence, Italy between 1350 and 1400 AD. among the wealthy who had access to Roman and Greek writing. The idea of “humanism” began to develop. That is, the power of  critical thinking and evidence over acceptance of dogma or superstition. During the Middle Ages, most people felt that hardship and war were their lot in life but gradually the teachings of the great Latin and Greek books gained ground. Simply put, it created a ground for the Protestant reformation.

The Catholic Church had tried but failed to implement it’s own reforms. It continued using the Inquisition as a control against heresy. This was an official court within the church which handed out penalties of torture and death to anyone even suspected of dissent. In many cases it was used to dispose of people who were political enemies.  The most common punishment was burning at the stake. Out of this environment, a few unlikely men rose, Luther being one of them. Another was John Calvin.

Luther was about 25 years old at the time Calvin was born in Noyon, France in 1509, his birth name, Jehan Cauvin. His father, Gerard,  a notary for the church,  intended that he and his 2 brothers should become priests. By age 12, he was already employed as a clerk to the bishop. Under the patronage of a wealthy family,  he studied Latin and then Philosophy until his father decided that studying Law would be more profitable.

At this point he came into contact with a professor who sparked his interest in humanist ideas. He learned Greek in order to read the New Testament and  in 1533, he experienced a “conversion”.  In his description of it he describes God as bringing his mind into a “teachable frame”.  Calvin felt that he was being called to be part of the reform of the church and effectively broke away from it. In the autumn of 1533, one of Calvin’s friends,  a reformer,  gave an address on church reform which was pronounced heretical. Calvin was implicated and had to go into hiding . Eventually he had to leave France after Reformists came under heavy fire for posting placards denouncing the Catholic Mass (the Day of the Placards).

The manner in which ideas spread during these times was largely by publishing pamphlets which were spread around. If you were a theologian, you would write your ideas and publish them. In 1536, Calvin wrote an apologia or an explanation for his beliefs. This became  known as ” The Institutes of the Christian Religion”, which he regularly added to. Later he would set up the organization of the church which would become Presbyterian.

He traveled to Ferrara, Italy where he worked for Princess Renee of France and then returned home to Paris to sort his father’s affairs. He decided he could not live there anymore when it was declared that all people had to decide within six months to remain Catholic (the Treaty of Courcy).  He headed for Strasbourg,  a haven for reformers but had to detour to Geneva because the French army was present.

In Geneva, something significant happened in that Calvin was forced to make a decision by another French reformer, William Farel. Like so many called before him, Calvin just wanted to live quietly and in peace. Farel was having none of it. He demanded that Calvin stay and help the movement in Geneva. Let us say that Farel was able to persuade him. The two worked together until disagreements with the city council arose over bringing uniformity to church services. Calvin and Ferel were asked to leave after protesting the serving of unleavened bread for Eucharist.

On to Strasbourg (1538-41) where Calvin married Idolette de Bure, a widow and continued to revise the Institutes and preach. In Geneva, church attendance began to dwindle because of disagreements with Bern, their supporting city.  When they were asked to return to the Catholic faith, Geneva started to reconsider its expulsion of Calvin and asked him to return. Though this is not what he wanted, he felt the call of duty and agreed to a six month stay. When he returned,  he worked on setting up the actual church, working along side city council, each deciding what powers and duties it would have.  This is something that would never happen in France where royalty was staunchly Catholic. The reformed church also did not enforce celibacy, feeling that it distracted from giving full attention to church duties. Sadly, Idolette had a son prematurely and he died. She died a few years later leaving a vacuum in Calvin’s life.

One of the well known stories about John Calvin is his confrontation with a group of “libertines”. The Libertines, being ultra-humanist, used the idea of being granted “grace” to exempt themselves from church and civil law. One of them was brought to court for disobeying the law against dancing . The council overturned Calvin’s decision against them. When a group of them turned up at a service and approached the table for sacrament, he shouted “These hands you may crush, these arms you may lop off, my life you may take, my blood is yours, you may shed it; but you shall never force me to give holy things to the profaned, and dishonor the table of my God.”  They quickly left. The libertines had among them some very powerful people and this was a great test for Calvin.

Calvin faced another challenge in the person of Michael Servitus, a Spanish physician and theologian. Servitus was on the run from church authorities after he denied the existence of the Trinity. There were letters exchanged between him and Calvin. In fact Servitus had had the nerve to write in the margins of a copy of the Instructions annotating his differences with Calvin’s doctrines. This infuriated Calvin and when Servitus was finally caught and charged he only made a minor effort to have the sentence of burning commuted to beheading.  Some say that there was no scriptural backing for the final decision, a source of controversy to this day.

In 1553, two things happened to further secure the reform in Geneva. A decision was made that the church could continue to decide on excommunication and an uprising of libertines was put down, the leaders were forced to flee the city while the remainder were executed by Calvin. The issue of the libertines was resolved.

In Calvin’s final years, he did much to support the spread of Protestantism. He sheltered refugees from the reign of Mary Tudor in England and helped them build their own church from where they left to spread reform in England and Scotland. He had disagreed with Luther on how the Eucharist was to be viewed. He had set up a grammar school and advanced school which is today known as the College Calvin and Geneva University. To France he sent 100 missionaries funded by the church and tried to help build churches there. What the Puritan was in England, the Covenanter was in Scotland and the Huguenot was in France.  Today, you might call them Calvinists or Presbyterians.

In 1564, Calvin died at age 54.  He was buried in an unmarked grave although a commemorative one was erected in the Cimitierre des Rois , Geneva.  Below, a map showing Geneva in relation to Paris.

Map of Geneva




Current Events

Just a little aside to tell you what’s been going on. As in the previous post, I have been attempting to read Michael Prestwich’s, Edward 1. It has been slightly dry and definitely not as reader friendly as Marc Morris’s, A Great and Terrible King. Although I did feel that Marc’s book had a definite sympathetic bent towards Edward. Prestwich’s book is more a confusing reword of the facts of his reign as taken from the financial accounts of the time. This of course, is useful for citing your own research but so far, does little to flesh out the person of Edward himself in the way that Marc does.Again, let me caveat that with the fact that I am only partway into the book.

While there is no doubt that the facts are essential to proving the likelihood of a certain event taking place, it does take talent to bring that to the public. It is rather distracting to have numbers written all over the place when I am reading. Hopefully sometime in the near future they will find better ways to cite sources. That being said , I like it when the writer says that prior thoughts on a subject couldn’t have been correct because ……. and there is the fact.  We can never fully know what the motivations may have been behind someone’s actions unless we were there. History is always incomplete. We are a little more certain of the outcomes of their actions. Let me say this though, it is hard to even begin to imagine the world Edward was thrown into as a young man. The term “living large” would hardly describe it. Some were up to the task , like Edward, and some were not, like his father.” It is a pity that the closest most young men will get to this kind of history is in a video game. I would recommend Marc’s book as a good basic book that can hold your interest. When I am done with Prestwich’s book I will do some comparing. If my mind isn’t boggled by then.

In other news, I had put my Irish research to bed in order to get on with the Scottish side of the family and that is how I got into this thing with Edward. He was the scourge of the Scots and I became curious about all the claims against him. However, things suddenly started to crop up. First, I got an email by an offended second cousin who felt I had portrayed her in a bad light (which I have tried to rectify), then I got an email from a lady who has worked at Garden Hill for 20 years and suddenly came upon my post Life at Garden Hill. That was the home of my great aunt and uncle who ran the South Dublin workhouse. It was converted into offices. She wanted to know if I had more info and has colleagues writing about the St. James hospital which was built over it. The house will be torn down and replaced by a pediatric wing. Then just the other day, I got a long-awaited reply from William Healy, whose great grandfather was acquainted with the Phillips family (my mom’s family). He is trying to help me locate the graves of my great grandparents and is sending information on that. Mystery there is that everyone keeps saying that 3 brothers came to Canada instead of 2. I was told the first one died when he was young but I have not found a death record for him. That leads me onto another chase to see if either of these is true. It is all unexpected but exciting! I hadn’t thought of my posts as being permanently up there for people to read years after I wrote them. Lesson learned.