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12 The Rebellion against the Crown in the Reign of Henri III, May 1588 to August 1, 1589
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The Fruits of Victory

Defiance of the king's officers and even of his personal commands became routine with the rebellious Parisians, who did not even reply to his protest of the changes in the Bureau de Ville and a "request" to send him a list of candidates from which to choose new municipal officers, delivered by a royal messenger the first week in June.[8]


The first week in July it was Parlement's turn to protest the removal of gens de bien, bons catholiques as captains in the city militia, and their replacement by new men, most of them drawn from la lie du peuple et plusieurs . . . mal famés . Harlay argued "at length, frankly and freely," for the retention of the old captains and was supported by many in the court, but cardinal de Bourbon and the duc de Guise replied that time should be given to the public to judge (for which read "for their own interests and ambition," according to L'Estoile), and they prevailed.

Under the heading "Insolence des ligueux à l'endroit de la Justice," L'Estoile reports that a number of bourgeois of the League, representing no authority, burst into the Palais de Justice at 6 A.M. on Saturday, July 9, bearing an ultimatum addressed to the premier président, demanding that "justice be done to" a Huguenot named de Belloy, who had been imprisoned for some time in the Conciergerie—"or else the people will do [him justice]." L'Estoile's comment on the failure of the court as a body to assert its authority and punish such behavior is revealing: "It was found that les grands were involved in the matter and it was wiser to let it drop." And a few days later, following another such episode, "seeing the forces arrayed against them, they were constrained to submit, for fear of worse" (Brunet 3:168-170). The fears of some and the hesitations of other members of Parlement in these early days were largely responsible for the erosion of the court's power and its precipitous fall in prestige. From admiration and respect, even awe, the attitude of the public turned to contempt.

But not all representatives of the sovereign courts took this cautious—or cowardly—approach. Pasquier, like Harlay, stood up to be counted. A special meeting was held at the Hôtel de Ville because of protests against the removal of the old captains, and members of the sovereign courts had been assigned to attend, to represent their quartier, "but none of them came, annoyed at what was happening but not daring to oppose it, so that I [Pasquier] was the only one." He continues his narration: "I lost patience, and raised my voice, in the midst of this rabble, at the risk of my life." He tells how, pleading to be heard on the basis of his thirty years' residence in the quartier and frequent attendance at meetings dealing with public affairs, he rehearsed the traditional procedures for choosing the captains and noted how these procedures were changed in 1585, when the king named new captains and lieutenants, designating whomever he wished, in disregard of custom. He acknowledges his listeners' feeling that in doing so the king had infringed on the ancient liberties of the citizens of this city. But he warns them, in trying to regain their liberties, not to give themselves up to new masters and make the election process a mere charade. "If you really desire


the welfare of the city," he concludes, "I beg you to reinstate the old officers, and to follow the old ways, by which every head of household followed his conscience.

Pasquier had the fleeting satisfaction of carrying the vote that was immediately taken and the next day was elaborately congratulated by Brisson. But he was not deceived or surprised when, that same day, the decision was reversed, and the League's line followed. He was not reconciled, and he asks, rhetorically, "We are supposed to be reestablishing unity [this was the announced objective of the League at this time] but how can we do so by thus offending His Majesty?" And he ends this missive, on a note unusual for him, of resigned defiance:

As for me, I'll tell you frankly, in the public calamity in which we are plunged, I have no more faith in documents that are not backed up by force than in the new rulers of our city, who know no law but their own temerity. For that reason I have decided to leave home and go wherever my king is, to follow his fortune wherever it may turn.[9]

The final humiliation of this first phase of the rebellion came with the registration of the Edict of Union in Parlement, July 21. This declared Henri de Navarre incapable of the succession and any religion except the Roman, Catholic, and Apostolic unacceptable in France. Henri III wept when he signed it, says L'Estoile, "this good prince lamenting the unhappy fate which forced him to risk his state in order to save himself" (Brunet 3:172; Roelker 156).

If the summer of 1588 was the lowest point (so far) for the royalist cause, it was not an easy time for the few moderates who were trying to mediate and bring about some compromise. J.-A. de Thou had some success in his missions from the king to various powerful individuals in the provinces;[10] but he also met with a number of rebuffs, as did Villeroy. People in less exalted positions, who thought the true course contained some elements of each party's claims, like Du Vair, could not get a hearing. Even the papacy could not accomplish an accommodation of the two warring French Catholic parties.

Consistent with his desire to maintain France as a counterweight to Spain and as a Catholic power, in 1588 Pope Sixtus V hoped to heal the breach between Henri III and the League through the legatine mission of Francesco


Morosini, an accomplished diplomat from a leading Venetian family. In the months following the Barricades, when all parties were maneuvering to improve their position while the situation remained fluid, and especially during the Estates General that met in Blois (October 1588-January 1589), Morosini was actively negotiating with both the king and leaders of the League, using now flattery, now pressure, to bring the two sides together as Catholics , specifically by working out a compromise formula for French acceptance of the Trent decrees. His reward was to be savagely attacked as pro-Gallican in Rome, and by the Sixteen; he failed—as usual with papal drives toward this goal. Significantly, his efforts were applauded, and he himself admired, by the most sophisticated politiques . De Thou, in his Mémoires , calls him

a fair-minded prelate, very well disposed toward the king . . . he left no stone unturned to arrange an accommodation. . . . Since he could not make any headway, he reluctantly withdrew . . . to Italy, leaving the kingdom [of France] in great disorder. . . .

It is certain that the tragic divisions that have devastated this formerly flourishing kingdom for ten years, reducing it to the greatest extremity, could have been ended by the course advised by this cardinal—because of his affection for France and the weight of his influence with both parties—if only they had been capable of recognizing their true interest . . . but God did not permit so easy a remedy for our ills. Opinion was so inflamed, both within and outside the kingdom, that when he returned to Rome he was blamed for not rather urging open warfare. Gentleness, prudence, moderation, good sense were then out of fashion and those who, because of these precious qualities, might have brought about unity and peace were thought worthy of public contempt and hatred.[11]

The pressures on the beleaguered king were greatest of all. Although he had never been decisive, the wild shifts of mood separated by intervals of total inability to act testified to the deterioration of the last Valois king under the strains of recent months. Then suddenly, just as he was coerced into naming Guise lieutenant-general of the kingdom ("in brief, he gives him the rays of his splendor, an arm of his power, a live reproduction of his majesty," says L'Estoile) something occurred to give this king, in exile in his own kingdom, hope that he might still prevail. L'Estoile's "headlines" illustrate royalist reaction to the Armada's defeat.



This army was called the Invincible, the Pride of the World, and the Terror of the isles . . . which the Holy Father of Rome has blessed. But all these great and proud designs were only stuff for the glory of God, and the wind of their vain attempts . . . dissipated in three days by the God of sea and earth.


It is said that the Pope called this army his daughter . . . because he had a great hope of accomplishing by it his long-time desire to reestablish his dominion over England. . . . And in truth this army was magnificently outfitted, the result of seven years' preparation, which could well frighten a stronger country than England.

Also the displeasure of the Pope at this defeat was so great that a pasquil about it appeared in Rome:

If there is anyone who has news of the Spanish army, lost at sea about three weeks ago, who can tell anything about what has become of it, let him go to the Palace of St. Peter, where the Holy Father will give him some wine (Brunet 3:177-178).

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