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14 The Resurrection of the Parlement, 1593-1594
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The Resurrection of the Parlement, 1593-1594

Parlement and the Estates of the League, January-August 1593

Significantly, four of the six topics of Parisian concern represent politique policies that the anti-League forces were promoting, and only the last was a ligueur goal. Election of a Catholic king (but not Mayenne and not a "converted" Henri IV) was the League's chief objective as the new year opened and a meeting of the Estates General was the means by which they hoped to achieve it. Since only a king of France could legitimately convoke an Estates General, the gathering of representatives of the three orders in Paris in January 1593, convoked by the duc de Mayenne and led by the papal legate and the Spanish ambassador, was called the Estates of the League. Long anticipated, the outcome was to be devastatingly anticlimactic and ironic: not only did they fail to substitute a prince of their own party for Navarre, but they contributed substantially to his ultimate triumph.

History has provided a veritable temperature chart of their ups and downs in Auguste Bernard's 1842 work. The League's numerous internal divisions and self-defeating policies were ideal nutrients for mushrooming royalist and nationalist sentiment. To the initial split between Mayennistes and the Sixteen and the schism of 1591 between the Espagnolisés and the main body had been added the defections of 1592 to a Third Party, itself torn between rival factions. The Parisians who would play the determining role in the Third Estate included some ligueurs (Neuilly, d'Orléans, Roland among them) elected in 1591 when the meeting was first planned, as well as recent additions: présidents Le Maistre and Bailly, maître des requêtes Pierre Masparault, conseiller Guillaume Du Vair, Jean Luillier, who was both a member of the Chambre des Comptes and prévôt des marchands, as


well as two secrétaires du roi. The new group was strongly politique , reflecting the current prevailing mood of the city, but the program it was expected to advocate had been drawn up in 1588. Thus, Barnavi points out, the politique Parisian deputies of 1593 were supposed to present a 1588 Seize agenda. Vis-à-vis the deputies of the provinces, it was an exact reversal of the situation that had prevailed at Blois in 1588; then, "the capital had been the front line of the League rebellion, its deputies the avant-garde of the movement, at the time of its greatest strength [having driven the king of France out of his capital] . . . sure of itself and of final victory. Now, faced with provinces that had remained ligueur and [even] influenced to a considerable extent by Spain . . . the Parisians were the voice of moderation and of a national conscience inevitably tainted by xenophobia."[1] As the League disintegrated, the first steps were taken toward the reunification—and then the political resurrection—of the Parlement of Paris.

The result of repeated purges and defections on the one hand and royalist departures on the other was that the court's 1593 membership was reduced to about half of its numbers at the time of the initial purge, in January 1589, that is, to between sixty and seventy men, according to Maugis, who has also reckoned that on the days of the crucial votes, there were fifty or fewer present. Only about a dozen were die-hard ligueurs , however.[2] The majority either had been (silently) royalist all along or had rallied in reaction to the threat of foreign domination and violation of the fundamental laws. It is useful to remember that there was not really a politique party in January 1593, but there were various groups definitely at odds with the League (all factions); some were ex-ligueurs , others had not made an open break, others were royalistes de toujours . There had been many individual politiques , active in one way or another, since the 1560s, and especially in the late 1580s, but specialists differ on determining dates. The recent study of Christopher Bettinson elucidates the question.[3] None of these subgroups could openly acknowledge its allegiance all at once. The process took place gradually between January and June 1593, as the issues of negotiation for truce, trade, and the king's conversion became more urgent.

Immediately upon the opening of the oft-postponed Estates, January 26, Henri IV made the initial move toward exploratory talks with "the opposite party," by inviting "the princes, prelates, and deputies gathered in Paris"


to enter into a process of conciliation, even while denying any shred of validity to their claim to constitute a meeting of the Estates General.[4] Mayenne characteristically followed an ambivalent course, relying on earlier declarations to prove his commitment to peace while exploiting every obstacle or argument that might hold up its realization.[5] Leadership of outright opposition was assumed by the papal legate, Filippo Sega, cardinal de Plaisance [Piacenza], who even dared to "woo" the Parlement by a personal visit to the court. The failure of the extreme faction in this first confrontation foreshadowed those to come, as did the fact that président Le Maistre played a leading part by rallying the Parisian deputies of the Third Estate to agree to a conference between representatives of the League and representatives of the king.[6]

After over a month of backing and filling and false starts, the conference was held in the village of Suresnes in the final days of April. L'Estoile reports,

Monday, April 26, placards were posted all over the city against those who went to the conference, or who thought it good . . . called them traitors, politiques , heretics . . . [and said] that good Catholics would never recognize the Béarnais, whether he were converted or not, because he was excommunicate and a relapser, that they wanted a real king and true Catholic.

[Notwithstanding, as the Parisian conferees left the city, on Thursday, April 29,] a great crowd . . . cried, "Peace! Blessed are those who ask for it and get it! To the devils with all the others!" In the villages they went through people knelt and asked for peace with folded hands. This same day Senault said that the placards were the work of politiques , who blamed them on the Sixteen to bring disgrace to good Catholics (Brunet 5:236-239; Roelker 228-229).

It is worth noting that the sermons of League preachers on the days during and immediately following the conference lacked the party-line solidarity that had characterized them since 1587. While Guillaume Rose, bishop of Senlis, and Aubry, curé of St-André des Arts, preached against the conference and held that it would be better to have a foreign king who was Catholic than a heretic, Commolet, on the contrary, praised the conference and said that


we should pray for those engaged in this good work. . . . The curés of St-Eustache, St-Sulpice, and St-Gervais said that we should pray for the king's conversion. . . . Among other things, the curé of St-Eustache said that only wicked men feared the conference . . . but he personally feared that we would get neither [peace nor the conversion] because of our sins. . . .

The others mostly condemned the conference and said that they would not have the king, Catholic or not, calling him wolf, relapser, and excommunicate.

A ten-day truce was announced on May 4, permitting Parisians to go as far as four leagues out of the city without a passport, "but the prévôt des marchands forbade the implementation because he claimed (not without reason) that there would not be a soul left in the city except the mob and the foreign garrisons, who would have an opportunity to start trouble" (Brunet 6:4; Roelker 230).

The League badly needed reinforcements, and Philip II dispatched a special ambassador, the duke of Feria, to increase both the prestige of Spain and cooperation with the papacy. On February 19, Mayenne had written letters to "the citizens of Paris," begging them to receive Feria and to honor him as if it were the duke himself. On March 8, the Spaniard arrived,

and though a whole crowd gathered, few saluted him, which was remarked upon. . . . [Three days later] the prévôt des marchands . . . complained of the insolence of his men, who were ravaging the suburbs . . . and 30,000 crowns of Spanish gold in doubloons arrived in Paris for the purpose of corrupting as many as possible . . . especially the captains and colonels, and others in authority. Several prominent persons, including the dean of the cathedral chapter, Antoine Séguier, refused to accept money offered . . . [but] the curé of St-André said he couldn't see why people made such a fuss . . . he would prefer a Spanish Catholic as king to the heretic Béarnais.

By May, Feria had been in Paris two months, wasting his time in what Maugis picturesquely describes as chinoiseries protocoiaires . The tide was running strong against the League and desperation made the leadership bold. On May 13 the Spanish ambassador first proposed that the Infanta Isabella (granddaughter of Henri II through her mother, Élisabeth de Valois, second wife of Philip II) be declared queen of France.[7] Procureur général Édouard Molé, who was present as a function of his office, spoke up to point out that this would violate the fundamental laws, adding that he could not assent to it. All the magistrates present expressed agreement, not only Le


Maistre and Du Vair—just emerging as chief spokesmen for the defense of the Salic law—but even président André de Hacqueville, well known and consistent ligueur , who said that the parlementaires should withdraw and "lay the matter upon the conscience of their company." They did so, and the next day Parlement passed an arrêt embodying opposition to the proposal. It was passed on to the gens du roi for submission to Mayenne. Molé's accompanying commentary is often quoted by chroniclers of these events. L'Estoile's version is that

M. Molé, among others, spoke virtuously to the duke, [saying] that his person and all his goods were at [the duke's] service . . . but that he was a true Frenchman, had been born and would die a Frenchman, and before becoming anything else he would die and sacrifice everything he possessed (Brunet 6:256; Roelker 231).[8]

Molé's courageous stand marked the start of the transformation, between mid-May and the end of June, of Parlement's posture from the fearful apathy and docile compliance that had characterized the court since the anti-Brisson conspiracy into championship of French constitutionalism, in the tradition of Thibault Baillet, Charles Guillart, and Christophe de Thou. Molé's was the first voice raised but Du Vair's was to prove the most effective. His pamphlet, the body of which was written in late 1592, L'Exhortation à la Paix , a major item of Semonneux propaganda, was circulating in Paris. An updated preamble reviews the increasingly desperate efforts of the Spanish faction "to destroy the fortunate results of the Suresnes conferences" by the election "of an imaginary king." To this end, they were "making extravagant promises to les grands , seductive overtures to the people, and threats against the magistrates." Du Vair then contrasts the former peace and prosperity of the kingdom with its present devastation and disorder, conceding that indeed a Catholic king is the only remedy—but who should it be? "Let us consider together, in a spirit of gentle charity," the candidates proposed.

With incisive logic, in the opinion of Maugis and Radouant, Du Vair demonstrates the weakness in the position of each, from Philip II himself to Mayenne, whose inability to dominate the situation is cleverly exposed.[9] There is therefore only one possible course: for the king of Navarre to become Catholic and then be acknowledged as king of France. It is his right


by inheritance and if he were Catholic no legitimate objection would remain. Du Vair touches only tangentially on the question of papal absolution, necessitated by the king's apostasy of the 1570s (which, as we shall see, would become the burning question after the conversion), merely remarking that the hearts of kings are in the hand of God. He predicts that Henri would be moved by "the necessity of the kingdom" and "the tearful prayers of his people." The exhortation concludes with an idyllic picture of a France governed by Henri IV with Mayenne as his most devoted lieutenant. "Through the generosity of one and the services of the other, a bond of conciliation will be forged between them and God in his mercy will be moved to put an end to France's misery."[10]

Under the influence of such arguments, the nobility and the Third Estate voted to support a truce, but the clergy clung to the ultra-League line. The Sixteen appealed again to Philip II and attempted to organize another uprising, as in 1588, 1589, 1591. Members of Parlement were no longer intimidated by their bluster (which was particularly shrill in these final months), however, and the court ordered the arrest of Lieutenant Civil La Bruyère, one of the diehards, known to have been a principal in the conspiracy against Brisson and a leader in the present agitation.

By the third week in June feverish activity was taking place on both sides, in secret. Although little was reliably known of detailed plans in either camp, many rumors circulated. One hour it was the politiques who were to be purged, in a new St. Bartholomew, and in the next they were about to open the gates to the king, whose troops would put all "good Catholics" to the sword. On the 27th, the radicals proposed—in the Estates—that a French prince be chosen and a delegation sent to Philip to request that he be given the Infanta in marriage, thus effecting a compromise between the Spanish faction and those who insisted on a native prince—but not Mayenne. On the other side, Du Vair and Pierre Pithou were the leaders of a group of politique magistrates determined that the Parlement should preempt the initiative and declare outright that the Salic law must not be violated. They were convinced that time was of the essence. At their instigation, some members of the Chambre des Enquêtes requested a plenary session of all the chambers of the court "to take in hand affairs of state."[11]

Convened on June 28, the session stands—in royalist-nationalist historiography—as the finest hour of the Parlement of Paris. The young enquêtistes at once excused themselves from speaking, on grounds of insufficient


familiarity with the situation in the Estates, and yielded the floor to Du Vair. His oration, "Suasion de l'arrêt pour la manutention de la loi salique," completed the transformation begun by Molé six weeks earlier and established the Parlement as the spokesman of Parisian politiques from that moment on. Incidentally, it also represents the height of French political oratory in the sixteenth century.

As in Cicero's orations against Catiline, the atmosphere of emergency and impending danger to the state and the speaker's use of direct address contributed to the emotional impact:

All those French hearts, resolved to save themselves . . . turn their eyes to you . . . to see whether your prudence will direct their courage . . . or, if your connivance and dissimulation will abandon them to shameful servitude, which will condemn you and your children . . . to eternal infamy. . . .

Réveillez-vous, donc, Messieurs , and use the authority of the laws of which you are the guardians! For if there is any remedy for this evil, you alone can supply it. It is your tolerance and dissimulation that have given those [who have done these evil things] the means and the courage to carry them out. . . .

What blame and opprobrium will not be ours if today we refuse to defend France, which has nourished us in sweet liberty, allowed us to enjoy the gracious rule of our kings, honored us with the highest offices in her gift, if we rob her of defense by her laws which she entrusted to our care. . . . For today it is the Salic law that is at stake, [the law] that has conserved this kingdom for twelve hundred years.

Du Vair asks rhetorically what would be the fate of French subjects under Spanish rule? After referring briefly to the "cruel fate" of the Indians, and the ruthless exploitation of Portugal, he says, "but why look so far afield? what about this city? Did we not hear, in the most extreme distress of the siege, Don Diego de Mendoza advise the dying to make bread out of the bones in the cemeteries? But why should we look outside this very Palais de Justice?" At this point Du Vair recites the story of the conspiracy against Brisson and the resulting murders. Warning of the dangers of further delay and urging immediate and uncompromising action, he boldly announces the course to be taken,

that remonstrances should be made this very day to M. de Mayenne that no treaty shall be made transferring the kingdom to a foreign prince or princess; that the fundamental laws of the state shall be observed, and carried out . . . promptly . . . and that any agreements made to the prejudice of


the Salic law shall be declared invalid . . . and that any who dissent shall be judged guilty of lèse-majesté.

The speech ends with a "nomination" of président Le Maistre to carry Parlement's remonstrances to Mayenne "because he will bring to the task everything we could desire of a truly noble, French soul." The "Arrêt du président Le Maistre," as it was ever after called, is described by L'Estoile, who here as elsewhere represents typical parlementaire opinion, as "a triumph for liberty over the Spanish tyranny that was being introduced." Antoine Loisel, in the dedication of his subsequent remonstrance on the restitution of Parlement, apostrophizes Le Maistre, referring to the obligation que tousles bons français vous en ont et auront à tout jamais . He adds that Le Maistre was "bravely seconded" by Du Vair and that the ligueurs were taken by surprise. Placards appeared, some attacking the legate and the Spaniards, others Parlement and the politiques ; the duke of Feria reinforced his guards; "Paris [was] full of rumors and sedition, and the curé of St-Jacques preached that there were twenty-two wicked politiques in Parlement who should be disposed of."[12]

Mayenne was also taken by surprise and was displeased by the turn of events, as every commentator remarked. He had been outsmarted by the royalists and this increased his already considerable disadvantage in relation to the Spanish faction. The king, on the contrary, had been privy to every move of the parlementaire politiques and moved swiftly to implement the policy from his side, allowing "leaks" of his approaching conversion by various members of his party and taking steps himself that confirmed the expectation. One characteristic move was to include in the clergy invited to participate in his instruction some well-known ligueurs , who were thought (or known?) to be "detachable":

Monday, July 5, Lincestre received a letter from the king to go to him for his conversion . . . when [Lincestre] showed it to the legate he was cursed—Maledicat! he said in great anger, Maledicat! Maledicat! Poor Lincestre replied to the contrary, Benedicat! Benedicat! . . . The king knew


that he was a Gascon, and though people objected that he was seditious, [the king] replied that no good Gascon could ever be a Spaniard.

There was no general defection among the prédicateurs , however. The curé of St-André told président Le Maistre

that he was surprised that he, who had always been a good Catholic, had had a part in the wicked declaration of Parlement. . . . Le Maistre replied that he had indeed had a hand in it, and that he didn't feel any less Catholic for it . . . and that, on the contrary, the decision was so good, just and holy . . . that only the wicked found it otherwise. "What is more, Monsieur, there are a whole lot of men in this city, of whom you are one, who are bloodthirsty . . . and who preach nothing but blood and sedition. . . . It is these sermons that keep the people stirred up. . . . You should be satisfied with having caused the death of one of the best men and Catholics in your parish [Tardif]" (Brunet 6:50-51; Roelker 235-236).

The issue of the king's abjuration-conversion, although it had loomed since the death of Alençon, had been debated with ever-increasing intensity since the Semonneux movement in the autumn of 1592 revealing the extent to which the League's hold over Parisian opinion had unraveled. There were several facets to the problem and multiple implications of each of the various options. Among the burning questions were the following: what criteria were appropriate in judging such a religious change? if spiritual sincerity was among them, how could it be tested? was papal absolution required before loyal Catholics could accept it? and if it were withheld how could they resolve their dilemma?

For the first time the tangled nexus of arguments and positions embodied in pamphlets, manifestos, and private correspondence has been thoroughly studied and analyzed, by Michael Wolfe, who shows how that situation posed particular problems for the various elements of society. The conversion crisis "acted as a sort of prism through which were refracted many of the cherished aims and interests of educated elites in late sixteenth-century France" and compelled them to reexamine their relationship with the monarchy and special place in French society. Because one's status was conditioned in large part by one's relation to the crown, the debate assumed a psychological dimension as the elites searched for a way to reconcile their loyalty to the crown with the dictates of their faith. What it meant to be a noble, a man of the cloth, a judge or a gentilhomme became increasingly


politicized and reached a crescendo in the struggle over Henri IV's conversion.[13]

The traditional function of the nobility was to serve the king, but did the obligation hold if the king was a heretic? Officers of the crown and the sovereign courts were bound to obedience by oaths according to the Roman Catholic Church; were these oaths still binding? if so, what about the Church's threat to excommunicate those who followed a heretic ruler? Wolfe examines the shifts in position of Louis de Gonzague, duc de Nevers, and of the duchy of Modena in Italy, as a significant test case. Nevers was a powerful and influential member of the highest rank of the nobility, with great wealth and extended clientage, about whose affairs there exists abundant source material. Both sides brought intense pressure to bear on Nevers from the day of Henri III's assassination and the accession of Navarre. After some months of supporting the League, he was persuaded to shift to the king. A number of prominent magistrates were among those who pressured him toward this course.[14]

Wolfe brings out the relevance of historical continuity and religious obligation to the strategies employed. While all subjects were enjoined to obey the constituted authorities and "render unto Caesar," the French had a more specific obligation because kings of France had been directly established by God, with powers that in many respects had bypassed the papacy since at least the fourteenth century.[15] There was thus a reinforced obligation to obey the king, even if he was condemned by Rome. Moreover, the Christian's direct duty to God required association with heretics, in order to show them the error of their ways and contribute to their salvation. And the king had the obligation of magnanimity—to permit the vindication of the rebellion that had been committed in the name of the faith, and to permit the restoration of the national "community," which loyalist Catholics thought had been destroyed by the "civil sedition" of the League, while ligueurs attributed the damage to the heresy of the king and the defection of those who supported him from the tradition of un roi, une foi.[16]

Thanks to the elements of reciprocity, continuity, and concern for com-


munity, therefore, the loyalist Catholics were able to present what became the winning argument, namely, that recognition of and obedience to the king was both a civil-patriotic and a religious duty. National reconciliation and the fresh outburst of Gallican sentiment stimulated by the next phase of the struggle—over absolution—are thus shown by Wolfe to involve underlying considerations, such as the meaning of "conversion," and the relation of God to the kingdom of France, far beyond the pragmatic and political factors conventionally cited. The latter were not overlooked by our leading spokesmen, however. Loyal Catholics all, they had long advocated the king's conversion and some had been active in promoting it, yet they had unhesitatingly rallied to the "heretic, relapsed usurper" as heir apparent even during the lifetime of Henri III. In the epilogue we shall see them move to center stage in the final phase—when the majority of Catholics still had to be persuaded that the pope could legitimately be defied while the ultramontane faction, and the pope himself, had to be led to accept the fait accompli under conditions that would nevertheless save face.

Henri IV's exchanges with the ligueur theologians sent to instruct him should be read by anyone who believes that he was indifferent or frivolous in matters of religion. After two days of intense pressure he balked (over belief in Purgatory) and appealed to the premier présidents of Paris and Rouen, "Pray you, call them off! tell them I've done enough and if they press me further, worse may ensue." It was finally decided that "His Majesty was not a Turk . . . that he should be led gently from error to truth. . . . [As a result] the oath of abjuration was softened and modified."

Henri took what he described in advance to Gabrielle d'Estrées as "the perilous leap" on Sunday, July 25, in the abbey of St-Denis, at High Mass. He wore a white satin robe embroidered in gold, with a black hat and coat.[17] When the news arrived in Paris the next day the Requiem was sung instead of the Te Deum, and excommunications were issued against all those known to have gone to St-Denis. It is hardly surprising that most of the League prédicateurs relentlessly continued to pour venom on the king and the "hypocritical conversion." They had long since passed the point of no return, and some were known to be in the pay of Spain. A popular theme was that the gospel for the day chosen was "that the wolves would come in lamb's clothing . . . that the fox had deliberately chosen the day so as to enter the sheepfold to devour those within . . . that he was really a wolf, whom all the world should pursue to the death . . . and that the ceremony


was nothing but a stinking farce" (Brunet 6:67; Roelker 238-239). De Thou, on the other hand, describes in moving terms how Parisians flocked to St-Denis, defying Mayenne's prohibition, where they were met at the gates by friends and relations of the royalist camp. "They congratulated each other and could not restrain their tears, in part for past suffering, in part for the joy of this moment beyond their greatest hopes. There was a long silence, interrupted only by sighs. And when they had to part, reluctantly, thoughts of the past and the future made them weep again." Pasquier marked the occasion with one of his periodic pamphlets, Advis aux français , urging Frenchmen of all factions to recognize the king and work for peace.[18]

The Estates of the League fell apart, almost unnoticed, but not before voting, on July 30, for the publication of the Trent decrees, a hollow victory for the legate since the vote evaporated with the Estates themselves. Indirectly, it was also a Gallican-politique landmark, since the entire Parisian delegation to the Third Estate voted against it. Even before the conversion, both the nobility and the Third Estate had resolved that they were not empowered to elect a king.[19]

If the second half of the year 1593 was a period of frenetic but futile rearguard action for the extremist ligueurs , it was one of frustration and anticlimax for the Parlement. To be sure, an extension of the truce (for three months) permitted movement and communication unknown since the Day of the Barricades, but institutionally the only thing really changed was that the threat of having a king "elected" by an illegitimate body was removed. The League still ruled the city; the king was not yet widely accepted save in a few towns held by royalist troops; the court was still a rump whose members waited with mixed feelings the "reduction" of the capital "to its obedience" and the return of the royalist Parlement, unsure of their fate at the hands of the king and of the attitude of their colleagues. Moreover, there was still danger for politique parlementaires in a Paris constantly incited to new violence against them by the Sixteen, backed by the foreign garrisons, the only armed force inside the walls. The League was always strongly conscious of its own anniversaries, and August 1 was the fourth anniversary of the assassination of Henri III. The sermons of Sunday, August 15, stressed the fact that "the month was only half over" and that "one could hope for a blow from the skies, like men who predict that robbers will come in the night, and are themselves the robbers," com-


ments L'Estoile (Brunet 6:81; Roelker 241).[20] Indeed, there was at least one assassination plot afoot, encouraged—so it is alleged by politique contemporaries—by the curé of St-André and the Jesuits. The would-be perpetrator was Pierre Barrière, a native of Orléans, executed for attempted assassination of the king in August 1593. Étienne Pasquier was commissioned by Henri IV himself to interrogate Barrière and to write up the case, no doubt because of his long-recognized and effective opposition to the Jesuits. The initial publication of 1593 is entitled Extrait du Procès criminel fait à Pierre Barrière dit La Barre, natif d'Orléans, accusé de l'horrible et exécrable parricide et assasinat par luy entrepris et attente contre la personne du Roy . It bears no name, but Pasquier acknowledged authorship in a letter, and a slightly different version became a chapter in his Catéchisme des jesuites , published in 1602.[21]

The Collapse of the League as Parlement Strikes Back, Fall 1593 to March 1594

After the abjuration-conversion, the question of papal absolution for the converted king became the dominant issue for many Frenchmen. It was evident that the papacy must be reconciled before the highest-ranking prelates and nobles in the League party would accept the former chief of the Huguenots, apostate after his escape from the Louvre in 1576. It was not an abstract question that could be ignored even if one were not especially concerned with theoretical questions of church-state relations; as matters stood in the summer of 1593, Catholics who followed Henri IV in defiance of papal policy were officially excommunicate.

Henri sent the duc de Nevers to plead his case with the pope but the League succeeded in checkmating the duke, partly through the dispatch of the accomplished Jesuit polemicist Antonio Possevino, but primarily because the papal legate in France, Filippo Sega, cardinal de Plaisance, put all his energies into the matter. L'Estoile was amused at one episode, in which Madame de Nevers managed to substitute blank papers for letters the legate had dispatched to Rome denouncing both the king and Mayenne (when the courier stopped over during his journey from Paris in early September 1593). She told the king about it and "he laughed and praised [her] wit, subtlety, and ingenuity." A more serious instance was the legate's instruction to the Paris prédicateurs , in late November of the same year, to an-


nounce that the duke was received in Rome only as a prince of the ruling family of Mantua, and not as ambassador of the Béarnais, which the pope would not even consider, "so far from preparing to receive him, as wicked politiques were saying." Some of the preachers had begun to change sides, as we know, and one surprised his congregation by reverting to the League line at this time. Feeling obliged to explain "speaking with two tongues, even in the pulpit," he produced a paper and read aloud the legatine commandment.

A war of attrition ensued while the pope hesitated, though heavily pressured by Henri's agents to grant absolution, and the League camp suffered new divisions between those who prepared to accept Henri if absolved—as a Christian duty—and consistent jusqu'au-boutistes who felt that even a pope could not absolve a heretic king who was also apostate.

November 19, one of the doctors of the Sorbonne told a friend of mine that he was leaving Paris, because it had been decided at the Sorbonne not to accept the king even if the pope accepted him, which he [the doctor] refused to sign, as being directly counter to God's commandment and his conscience (Brunet 6:103; Roelker 244-247).

The argument that neither the pope nor any other earthly power had authority over the crown of France was newly elaborated and restated by royalists and politique theorists. The spokesmen of our last generation virtually reinvented both Gallicanism and traditional constitutionalism in their concern to defend and preserve them. The resulting modifications are discussed in the epilogue.

Despite the frustrations of marking time, the royalist cause was not without some bright spots in the final weeks of 1593. One source was a spate of political pamphlets, some of which provided amusement even as they attacked the king and his adherents. Historians consider La Satyre Ménippée, ou vertu du Catholicon d'Espagne the jewel of the genre. It was being composed and sections of it circulated but the completed edition did not appear until late February 1594. Its major rival, Le Dialogue d'entre le Maheustre et le Manant , hot off the press, was the real sensation of the season.[22] L'Estoile first mentions it on December 9, when a copy found on the doorstep of the échevin Langlois was turned over to the duc de Mayenne, who had been searching for it everywhere and had offered 1,000 écus to


anyone who could identify the author. L'Estoile describes it as "a book of the Sixteen in which the principal men of Paris who are called politiques , and especially the duc de Mayenne, are torn apart." Within three days it had been condemned by order of Parlement, and the leading printers of the League (the obvious and logical suspects) were in prison. Despite a concerted attack by the prédicateurs , the papal legate, and the Spanish ambassador, Mayenne would not release them. Nor was he moved when the faculty of theology in a body held prayers for the printers—"martyrs"—just before Christmas. When the duke complained loudly, one of his council retorted, "You are yourself to blame, Monsieur. If you had hanged Cromé when he was in your hands, this book would never have seen the light of day."[23] Although it was written as a defense of the Sixteen and gives the most authoritative and complete account we possess of the faction in its final days, Henri IV and the politiques were to derive the greatest benefit from Le Dialogue d'entre le Maheustre et le Manant .

Royalist Parisians received a welcome gift on Christmas Eve, when news came that the town of Meaux had been surrendered to the king by its governor, Louis de L'Hôpital, sieur de Vitry, a former ligueur . L'Estoile reports that Mayenne was so annoyed that "he tore the letters apart with his teeth" (Brunet 6:116; Roelker 247). This was the first of a string of royalist victories, the most tangible of the accumulating aids to the cause.

The best propagandist for the royalist cause was Henri IV himself; among his most effective instruments were his magnanimity and his powers of persuasion. Anecdotes surrounding the surrender of Meaux and preparing for that of Paris are typical. L'Estoile reports that the échevins and principal inhabitants of Meaux went to pay their respects to the king at Daummartin, "where something happened worthy of note . . . they were so overcome by his presence that words failed them . . . and [they] could do nothing but prostrate themselves. . . . The king could not keep from weeping . . . he raised them, embraced them . . . saying, "My friends, I receive you not as enemies but as subjects, and embrace you as a father his children." A day or two later he sent a message "to my good servants in Paris" through a masked bourgeoise , who must have been a courier for Parisian politiques .


After warning them not to trust Mayenne, he declared his resolution to make peace at whatever price,

I granted to the people of Meaux more than they asked, and I shall do the same for any towns that surrender and accept me. . . . I shall promise that for ten years they shall pay no tailles , I shall ennoble their municipal officers, give them a governor of their own choosing, and guarantee their privileges and the maintenance of their religion.

And he goes on to appeal specifically to the Parisians, and to reassure them:

I shall treat [Paris] no worse than the others, contrary to what one might think; my special concern is and will always be to satisfy my good servants there. I know there are many good men in the city and ask that they pray God for me (Brunet 6:116, 129-130; Roelker 248).

These episodes are characteristic of the serious and most important aspects of the legend of Henri IV, and while they are often romanticized in repeated telling, they are abundantly documented. Another type of anecdote relates instances of his appearing alone, unexpectedly, in private homes, or fields, or workshops, of the menu peuple and conversing with them tête-à-tête. For instance, in these same days at the turn of the year, in a small town near Paris, he arrived at two in the morning at the residence of a royal officer, whose female servant took him in and offered him food. He accepted only a little butter [sic ] and declined also the bed she offered, stretching out on the floor in front of the fire. In the morning he sent for a priest to say Mass for him and refused to eat until afterwards. Pierre de L'Estoile, passionate royalist but also conscientious chronicler and skeptic, comments, "when this story was circulated, it confirmed the opinion of those who believed in [the sincerity of] his new catholicity, and it is possible that it was done for this purpose" (Brunet 6:127-128).

Here L'Estoile is no doubt speaking for many loyalist Catholics who condoned suspected hypocrisy because the overriding importance of the end justified the means. But the real thrust of un roi, une foi underlies the argument. Citing some who worked hardest to bring about the conversion, Wolfe demonstrates that it was essential to the legitimacy of Henri's claim to the throne, and to the "myth of Henri IV" as the instrument of conciliation. André Maillard argued that the state and religion are indivisibly connected: "Religion is the cement that binds . . . all the memories of the monarchy into a perfect union, religion makes kings reign, makes servitude sweet to the people, and makes laws easy to follow." An irreligious king


slips easily into tyranny. Moreover, Maillard saw that it was futile to attempt to alter the traditional Catholic character of the association. Wolfe comments, "'Remove religion and you dissolve the bonds that hold civil society together,' [Maillard] warned Navarre. [Navarre's] conversion, however, transformed religion from an instrument of disorder into one of order." Even before the assassination of Henri III, the myth of the loyalist Catholics rested on Navarre's special duty to France as prince of the blood in line for the crown, and their allegiance depended on his legitimacy.

The inviolate traditions which had preserved the throne through the ages . . . reflected the wishes of God, for whom the French monarchy had always served as a prime instrument in His divine plan. By converting, Navarre would bend to the will of God and accede to the throne par voyes justes et pacifiques instituted by God; should he not, his accession would invariably be considered unjust and violent.

Appeals to French royal tradition and to the judgment of posterity were also invoked, so that "Navarre's life would have eternal significance before God and future generations."[24]

Wolfe draws attention to the fact that the League had its own "competing myth of Henri IV"—as also did the Huguenots, but theirs would be destroyed by abjuration, whereas conversion was essential to each of the Catholic factions; it was the main bridge over the chasm that had separated them since the death of the last Valois king. Henri IV's capitulation to Catholic demands—after four years of stubborn insistence that his claim to the throne under the Salic law was completely independent of his religion—confirmed their assertion that a king of France must be Catholic in order to be legitimate.[25] This was de facto proof of an argument Guillaume Du Vair would make effectively in words a few months later: the League's raison d'être was that a heretic king was unacceptable; with Henri's conversion the long-sought victory was won. Reconciliation was then the overriding need in order to secure unity and continuity. It was a reciprocal process. Simply put, the king's forgiveness of his recent enemies was the quid pro quo of their forgiveness for his heresy and apostasy.[26]

The king's conversion had greatly accelerated the disintegration of the League, so that the appellation ligueur-politique , which seemed an oxy-


moron at least until 1592, became an accurate designation as adherents of various moderate splinters of the League, steadfast royalists, and converts of recent weeks, converged into an undeclared coalition. Like all coalitions, it had fissures, sealed over by adherence to (Gallican) Catholicism and a strong desire to preserve the old order.

Citing Loisel's Homonoee ou l'Accord et union des subjets du Roy soubs son obéissance , Wolfe points out that the public oath of obedience required of former ligueurs "marked a realignment of society around the pillars of piety and justice that he represented as monarch. A public oath to the converted king appealed to Leaguer noblemen, prelates, and judges because it elevated them above their social inferiors. Pacification thus reaffirmed and indeed recreated the traditional social order in France after a generation of armed strife." The converted king was seen as the guarantor of social and political order, laying the basis for "Bourbon absolutism."[27]

The association of peace and the urgency of reconciliation with the restoration and preservation of the old order is a theme much more strongly emphasized in recent scholarship than in earlier works, for example, Richet's postulate of (unacknowledged) connivance of the elites of opposing confessions and Barnavi's demonstration of the rapid reabsorption of even jusqu'au-boutistes into the establishment, to the extent that most of those who had been exiled and their heirs suffered little or no stigma and disadvantage. Since 66 percent of the membership of the Parlement of Paris had taken the League oath in January 1589, Frederic Baumgartner concludes, the political division was not an aspect of "the social question" along class lines but rather reflected a variety of personal choices, in which the ruling factors were family, property, and especially, religion. In his comment, Michael Hayden concedes the point, observing that this is a case of the "predicament of paradox." If most of the parlementaires "played it safe," their conduct is understandable. "They faced a harrowing decision when playing safe required them . . . to believe two [contradictory] things at once."[28]

Yet the League was perceived as a social threat, as we know from many contemporary speeches, manifestos, and pamphlets, notably by the magistrates, who distanced themselves as much as possible, as we have seen, from le menu peuple . We must beware of jettisoning the factual evidence,


so carefully presented by Drouot in relation to Burgundy, and by Salmon when he shows the shifts in membership and especially in leadership of the Paris League from the earlier years to the 1590s.[29]

Even though every day's events brought fresh strength to the royalist cause, the end of the tunnel was still quite far off. The air of Paris was full of rumors, "that the duc de Mayenne is leaving; that the duc de Guise will remain; that 400 leading politiques are about to be arrested and forced into exile; that the duc de Mayenne has an understanding with the king and agreed to the surrender of Meaux—all sorts of idle gossip worthy of the brain of the people," says L'Estoile, in disgust. The final entry of 1593 in the Mémoires-Journaux reads:

the League, seeing the affairs of the king prospering and their own ruin approaching, gathered all their forces for a last effort, through the Jesuits and the preachers, against the king's majesty, baiting him openly, secretly, by day and by night, calling him "the Serpent of the Pyrenees," inciting the people to repudiate him and receive in his place the great Catholic king [Philip of Spain], denouncing the conversion and calling Henri a fraud, papist, huguenot, huguenot, papist and [saying] he was really an atheist, with no religion at all (Brunet 6:133; Roelker 249).

The League's rearguard action might well have collapsed at this turn of the year had it not been for the frenetic activity of the papal legate—it would be another year before he gave up. In addition to intense antiroyalist pressure on the papacy and on the French prelates, he intervened ever more boldly on the municipal scene, which led to a direct confrontation with the Parlement of Paris. The events of January and February 1594 vividly illustrate the process by which the League's leakage flowed into the winning coalition.

Allied with the Parlement in the royalist thrust was the governor of Paris, François de Faudoas, comte de Belin, and most of the colonels of the municipal militia, especially Claude d'Aubray. These persons were easy targets for Plaisance, and he mounted direct attacks on them. In a letter of December 29 to d'Aubray, Mayenne says that he is obliged to dismiss the colonel from his office "at the insistent urging of the legate, who said that if d'Aubray did not leave the city [the legate himself] would." The duke's tone is both apologetic and friendly, saying that "it was against his desire and his will . . . [begging d'Aubray] to believe that the duke would always be his friend and that what he was being forced to do in no way expressed


ill will . . . like a man who punches another in the jaw while proclaiming he has no intention of injuring him," comments L'Estoile. D'Aubray replied "that no matter where he was, he would always cry Vive France! and would never become a Spaniard. This offended the legate very much, especially as he had given [d'Aubray] money from the Spaniards, which [the colonel] had given to the Hôtel-Dieu" (Brunet 6:137-150).

This conspicuously politique action by officers of the militia is striking evidence of the shift of Parisian opinion away from the League at this time. Barbara Diefendorf has shown that thirty years earlier, in the first civil wars, they were the spearhead of the most radical ligueur element, inciting riots against the Huguenots and sometimes attacking them in person, defying the crown's orders as well as those of the Parlement and the Bureau de Ville. She attributes the polarization to the clashing priorities, the captains believing that the extermination of heresy was the primary goal, while the magistrates' responsibility for keeping order obliged them to moderate their religious position.[30]

Significantly, rumors circulating in these final days of 1593 initiated themes that would be repeated with increasing insistence in the coming weeks: that the leading politiques were to be exiled—Le Maistre, Du Vair, and Damours were most often cited by name—that the Sixteen would be restored to power, that the exile of d'Aubray (and later Belin and prévôt des marchands Luillier) was necessitated in order to avoid bloodshed. On the same day as Mayenne's letter to d'Aubray, Belin had a long interview with Le Maistre, and it was instantly bruited about that the leading magistrate had received a billet .[31] The truth was quite the contrary, according to L'Estoile; the purpose was to persuade him not to leave, "because this good man had announced his intention to leave on his own initiative and not wait for an order" (Brunet 6:120).

What Myriam Yardeni calls "a new type of patriotism" emerges as a dominant theme in the late weeks of 1593. It includes a negative element, virulently anti-Spanish, but the positive element is more boldly stated than earlier, reflecting the shift in Parisian opinion, the ideal of le bon catholique françois , who combined traditional piety with equally traditional loyalty to the legitimate king, championed by Loisel (and others). Le Maistre was seen


as the embodiment, after the arrêt that bears his name. Wolfe links it to "the concepts of amitié and douceur in the reciprocal conciliation process, that made each person accept and cherish his place in society [and] . . . gave the monarchy a more comely image that made subjects willing, indeed enthusiastic, to obey its commands." Yardeni sums it up well: "La conquête de la France par Henri IV va de pair avec les conquêtes du sentiment national." Although this sentiment shares some characteristics with the "juridical nationalism" of the parlementaire historians in the earlier religious wars, the 1590s national sentiment was more popular, less theoretical, even as articulated by robin spokesmen.[32]

D'Aubray left the capital on Thursday, December 30 (with a wagon loaded with his arms). There were crowds in the streets to salute him, including the prévôt des marchands. "This enraged the Sixteen, who said out loud that the prévôt was a good-for-nothing . . . but women who gathered outside his house shouted that it was [d'Aubray's] wicked curé who was responsible for his banishment, and that [the curé] should be thrown in the river. . . . The Sixteen walked with their heads high, and the politiques with theirs lowered."

By January 3, 1594, the legate and his ally, Cardinal Pellevé, were openly demanding the purging of Parlement, "in time of war [they argued] there was no need for so many judges, especially as the majority of the members were heretics or fauteurs d'hérésie and they should be purged, so as not to permit their reinforcement of the enemy. In their place should be appointed a dozen of the best Catholics in Paris." When the duc de Mayenne said that he could not do this because it would be a violation of the ordinances of France, the Spanish ambassador retorted than one should not bother with ordinances when the state and religion were imperiled (Brunet 6:135-136).

A week later the court was upset to hear that Belin was to be forced out (and the office of governor given to Brissac), for having said that he was a Frenchman and no Spaniard. They sent two members to ask him about it directly and understood from his manner that it was so, and that Mayenne had been pressured by the legate and the Spaniards to banish him. Whereupon the court took courage to pass an arrêt , which reads in part:

[The court] protests the evil designs of the Spaniards, and of those who wish to bring them into France, commands the foreign garrisons to leave Paris, and declares its intentions to use all its power to prevent the sieur de


Belin from abandoning the said city, and any citizens likewise, or [Parlement] would leave with him. They also call in a body on the prévôt des marchands to convoke a general assembly [of the municipality] to consult on the state of affairs and to join the court in the execution of this arrêt . The court will suspend all other business until this is done (Brunet 6:138-139).

The moment was critical—for both sides. Up to this time it had only been rumored that the pope would not receive the duc de Nevers as the king's ambassador, and the rumor had been fanned and repeated by the legate's agents, but in early January couriers brought confirmation from reliable sources in Rome. The royalist cause reeled from the blow, which seemed to provide an opportunity for the extremist ligueurs and their Spanish supporters to revive. The fate of Belin was crucial to the outcome; furthermore, Mayenne's own authority was at stake. If the squeeze on the duke had seemed acute in earlier periods, he was now caught in a vise from which there was no possibility of escape. The legate and Feria had him at their mercy, and the Parlement and its allies were emboldened to speak up out of desperation.

The duke sought an interview with Le Maistre on January 11, but the latter refused, sending the message that "it was not necessary to go through so many comings and goings to get rid of him, because he was ready to go whenever the duke issued the order." Upon receiving this message the duke exclaimed Voila un terrible homme! (Brunet 6:139). The next day the duke insisted on meeting Le Maistre and attempted to justify his policy of straddling. He could not accept the articles of truce the king had sent because to do so would betray the cause of religion, which he had sworn to defend to the death, but he would surely do so when the pope had received Navarre and would recognize him as his sovereign, provided that conditions could be arranged that were suitable for a prince of Mayenne's standing. To this Le Maistre made a dignified reply, requesting the duke to put aside his personal concerns and consider the public good: "As long as I bear the responsibility . . . that you yourself laid upon me, I am obliged to represent the necessity of the public, which is severe, and beg you to have pity [on the people]. In so doing you will carry out the duty of the great prince you are and will also earn the blessings of the people." Mayenne appeared to take this advice in good part and Le Maistre returned to the Court fort joyeux et content (Brunet 6:142-143).

The next public figure to be pressured was Luillier, prévôt des marchands. A large delegation of politiques pressed him to force Mayenne "to relieve the hardships of the populace." When the duke, exasperated, asked what


they were complaining of and what they wanted him to do, the prévôt replied, "They believe that you are trying to turn them into Spaniards." Whereupon the duke begged him, as his loyal servant, to explain that he needed time to put everything in order . . . [and by God's blood] I swear and beg you to assure them, that I am not and will never be a Spaniard, but a good Frenchman." When Luillier appealed for time, on the grounds that the duke was working for their reconciliation with the other faction, that is, the Sixteen, they retorted that they were all gens de bien and did not wish to be reconciled with such evil men. Luillier, in his turn, was then obliged to repeat the refrain, "As for me, I declare out loud that I am not a Spaniard, and I never will be; on the contrary, I would lay down my life to preserve French liberty from the foreigner" (Brunet 6:145-147).

The stalemate continued until the reduction of Paris, nearly two months later, amid constantly renewed manifestations of the polarization of opinion. Mayenne refused to capitulate, either to the ultra-Catholics or to the politiques . The ranks of the former had diminished, but the jusqu'au-boutistes never flagged in intensity. A new tactic of the notorious d'Aubry at St-André des Arts was an attack on the wives of the four présidents who were his parishioners, Mesdames Séguier, Le Maistre, Cotton, and St-André, accusing them of hypocrisy in their professed Catholicism, on grounds ranging from the fact that they had relatives in the king's camp to the alleged assertion that the pope had only spiritual jurisdiction over kings but no authority over their temporal powers. Belin left Paris at this time (Brunet 6:147-148).

The agony of waiting for the end of the long ordeal was relieved for the Parlement (and exacerbated for Mayenne) in February by a series of surrenders by important towns to the king. The news of Lyon arrived in St-Denis on Sunday, February 13, and was celebrated by a Te Deum and fireworks; the next day, in Paris, the Requiem was sung instead. The fall of Orléans made an even greater impression:

The duc de Mayenne was astonished and angry; the duke of Feria and the legate even more so. They went at once to Mayenne and demanded the expulsion of 400 politiques , of whom they would provide the names, and the establishment of a Spanish garrison of 10,000 men. The duke replied that he would have none but Frenchmen and would install 10,000 if indeed the Spaniards would pay them [as they had proposed for the Spaniards]. As for the politiques , he would make inquiries to see if there were any mischief makers, whom it would be reasonable to banish. The legate, Feria, all the Spaniards, and the Sixteen were upset by this reply and began to say


out loud that the duke was in league with the enemy and should be confined to the Bastille (Brunet 6:157).

Although the court could not act until royalist military force had supplanted that of the League, it was not intimidated into silence and drew up a strong remonstrance, insisting on its right to be heard and to "transmit to posterity the fruits of its deliberations, fearing that silence would be misinterpreted." The claim of the Spaniards that they would exterminate heresy is called "vain" in view of their failure to do so in Flanders, which they governed directly, and the right of the Parlement and of the people of Paris to be heard is reaffirmed. "This court holds no small place in this kingdom . . . holding indeed the privilege, during interregnums, such that those who have the regency must do nothing without its advice and opinion." The Roman question is attacked head on: "[the pope] will not refuse to approve a sound peace or receive ambassadors sent to arrange it, because of the danger of schism and the peril of division that such a refusal would pose for Christendom." Instead of following the example of Spaniards, "who proceed by ambush and trickery (so different from the French way, open and straightforward), let us rather imitate the Venetians, who, after the Battle of Lepanto, preferred to make peace with the Turk rather than be driven out by Don Juan of Austria."[33]

The case for peace was also specifically argued by Guillaume Du Vair, in his response to a manifesto from the legate entitled Lettre du Mgr. l'Illme et Revme Cardinal de Plaisance Legat de N.S. Pere et du S. Siege apostolique au royaume de France, à tous les catholiques du mesme royaume par lesquelles est declarée l'intention de Sa Sainteté touchant ce qui s'est n'agueres passé à Rome . It was published by Rolin Thierry, Paris, 1594, and bears the date January 27. Du Vair's reply is Response d'un bourgeois de Paris à la lettre de Monseigneur le Legat du vingt septiesme janvier, mil cinq cens nonante quatre, à Paris , 1594. It is dated February 10.[34]

Du Vair's argument is addressed to devout Catholics uncertain what they should do. His aim is to persuade them that they could recognize Henri de Navarre as king without betraying the faith. As Radouant points out, the Lettre d'un bourgeois presents a significant contrast to the Satyre Ménippée , which had appeared a few weeks earlier. The Satyre , addressed to politiques , witty, full of sophisticated ironies, had the effect of annihilating


the credibility of the League. Du Vair's serious plea to perplexed fellow Catholics respects their religious commitment and assuages their consciences. He carefully avoids attacking the pope or his deputy. In fact, he begins with the hypothesis that the legate's letter cannot be genuine; it must be a forgery written by some mischief maker to embarrass Catholics and weaken their cause. Du Vair refuses to stoop to what Radouant calls "theological chicanery"—that characterized so many polemical writings of the period—and speaks throughout as a statesman. He demonstrates that not only was the papal bull refuting Navarre's claim, refusing recognition, and excommunicating his adherents cast in improper form, but it violated the long-established postulate that in matters of faith the will (in this case to abjure heresy) is the equivalent of fact—even in the case of private persons. Moreover, what is at stake here is not the spiritual standing of one individual, but of a whole people. Religion is "in the state," and the state is not "in," that is, subordinate to religion, as the Spaniards would have us believe. They are not to be trusted. Their boast that they could stamp out heresy in France is contradicted by their failure to do so in Flanders. The key point of the argument is driven home: "You joined the League to oppose a heretic, but now there is no heretic, so there is no more need for the League—in fact you have accomplished its purpose." He also stresses that peace is not only essential to France, but a unified Catholic France is indispensable to the papacy and to the peace of all Christendom.

The title chosen by Du Vair is apt; his biographer sees the speaker as embodying sixteenth-century Parisian bourgeois values:

educated, affluent, practical, and believer in comfort; not one to yield his prerogatives but sensible and straightforward; little given to poetry or enthusiasms, with little appetite for martyrdom, armed with firm reason and common sense, hating equivocation and exaggeration, hostile to quibblers and logic-choppers; religious but without bigotry or mysticism, obedient to the clerical hierarchy but profoundly Gallican; possessed of national pride easily aroused, impatient with all foreign interference ultramontane or other; kindly and charitable but with a trace of defiance and scorn for "the stupid populace" of which L'Estoile speaks; above all very conscious of the interests of the state, in short, politique , which says it all in a word thrown at him as an insult but which he claimed as an honorable title. Such was . . . Du Vair, and with individual variations, all his friends, from the "Huguenots" Du Bellay and Canaye to the pious and upright Le Fèvre, and in between, J.-A. de Thou, . . . Pasquier, the Pithous, . . . Loisel.[35]


On March 1, 1594, when news that the king had been crowned in Chartres (February 27) arrived in Paris, Guarinus preached a sermon. L'Estoile reports,

which I heard myself, [saying] that . . . [Henri] was no more king of France than the devil was when he offered Jesus Christ all the kingdoms of the world that he held only in imagination. He also said that there was a conspiracy in which Parlement shared, and that good Catholics were being deprived of their liberty. I don't dare go to see a friend for fear of being charged with sedition (Brunet 6:163-164; Roelker 253).

Loyalist Catholics hailed the coronation as proof positive of the king's sincerity. Premier président Achille de Harlay officially saluted the act, which "showed your people that you recognize God's purpose in constituting you to command and rule over us, and that you wish [the people] to live in God's religion, supported by justice." Nicolas de Thou, bishop of Chartres, who had officiated, wrote the king a few days later that the coronation had done more for the royal cause than four years of warfare.[36]

Simultaneously with this much dreaded fait accompli outside the walls, the ranks of Paris ligueurs were hit by a deadly weapon that had sailed over them. The completed Satyre Ménippée , just published in Tours, penetrated and conquered Paris. Four editions, each larger than the last, were produced in less than four weeks. One specialist in sixteenth-century French polemics has called it "a battle of Ivry in the realm of the mind," and indeed it did galvanize public opinion and rally to the politique cause the indifferent, the apathetic, the despairing. After nearly ten years of ligueur monopoly, suddenly and all at once the literary advantage had passed to the politiques .[37]

The form of the Ménippée is a fictional session of the Estates of the League. Speeches are made by grotesque caricatures of five real leaders of the League; Mayenne, the legate, Cardinal Pellevé, Pierre d'Épinac, archbishop of Lyon, and Guillaume Rose, then by a fictional petty noble, the sieur de Rieux, and finally and most important, by Colonel d'Aubray, as spokesman of the Third Estate. The authors were members of a circle of friends, highly educated and sharing certain traditional values, especially


royalist and Gallican, who had a habit of meeting frequently, if informally.[38] With the exception of d'Aubray's, the speeches are short, clever, and full of classical and contemporary citations and allusions. There are many Rabelaisian touches, some straight borrowings, and some imitations of language, character, and plot.

The discours of the sieur de Rieux reflects Parlement's "country bumpkin" perception of the nobility,

I don't want to hear any more about this Salic law; I don't know what it is, but [one of the Spaniards] recited it to me and gave me some nice round [gold] pieces that did me a lot of good. In any case, the main thing is to sack those fur-hatted types in the court of Parlement, who spend their time flirting and meddling in affairs of state. . . . If M. le Légat would just say the word, there is no square bonnet . . . I would not dispatch, even MMs. Le Maistre and Du Vayr, who set the others off.[39]

D'Aubray's long speech begins by apostrophizing Paris, "Paris, that is no longer Paris," followed by a detailed description of the low state into which the capital has fallen under the League economically, politically, psychologically, by comparison with its true royalist character. He then rehearses the history of the League, in a manner that is a mirror image of the Manant's history. The twentieth-century student is struck by his account of the origins, which he places in the reign of François II, and attributes to the quarrels of les grands , specifically, the rivalry of the houses of Bourbon and Montmorency with the house of Guise, "because all these bloody tragedies we have since seen played on this pitiful French stage, all sprang from those first feuds and not from differences in religion, as the naive and stupid have been led to believe, without justification,"[40] an interpretation usually attributed to Lucien Romier in the twentieth century. We are less surprised to find the cardinal de Lorraine cast as the chief villain, especially for the deception of the gullible populace:

jealousy [of the rival nobles] was the sole cause of all our ills, but the [defense of] the Catholic faith was the potion that befuddled us and put us to sleep, like a well-sugared opiate, acting like a doctor's narcotic to anesthetize our limbs, so that while we slept we would not know that we were


being cut up, one after the other, in small pieces, leaving only a trunk that would soon be drained of all blood and warmth.[41]

Most of the speech is addressed to Mayenne in savage satirical terms, pitilessly exposing his weakness and his vanity, but shortly before the end the tone changes. Following a very serious description of the various claimants to the throne, discrediting each in turn, d'Aubray describes "the king we need," in moving terms. Among many benefits,

we will be rid of all these kinglets . . . and of their tyrannies and exactions . . . that consume the prime of our lives and give us sicknesses that ruin our health. We will have a king who will put everything in order . . . chastise the violent, punish the wrongdoers, exterminate the criminals, clip the wigs of the ambitious, force the sponges of public funds to disgorge them, oblige everyone to observe the limits of his station, and keep all the world in peace and tranquillity.[42]

Speaking for the Estates, he admits they can make any number of lesser figures, "but we cannot make a king." The final plea for recognition of the king takes account of Parisian fears:

There is a difference between clemency and leniency. Leniency is usually found in women, and in men of little courage, but clemency is found only in one who is absolute master, and who does good when he could do evil. Believe then that our king will show us clemency when we have all recognized his power.[43]

On Sunday, March 6, the duke left the city, taking his family with him. This heightened the tension between factions and the general apprehension. The Parlement complained of the "bloodthirsty sermons," saying that the houses of the clergy were full of arms. Brissac left the city for two days and when he returned felt it necessary to beg forgiveness from the legate "for communicating with heretics. [The cardinal] granted him pardon and praised his devotion (which tended in quite a different direction from what Monseigneur thought) . . . for the truth was that this good man was much more subtle and clever than the rest and in the end he had the laugh on them." Rumors ran wild. On March 19 it was said that the Bastille had surrendered to the enemy; "some took this to mean the king, and others the Spaniards." According to the testimony of the politiques themselves,


many of the rumors were "spread about by those who were secretly preparing the reduction of the city to the king's obedience." The Spaniards and the Sixteen were alarmed and appealed to Brissac on March 21 "to put things in order." His response was that they should trust him. They saw the result the next morning, quite different from what they had expected. "Thus God laughs at the vanity of men's plans."

Henri IV himself directed the final preparations, according to those involved in them. He had no illusions about the loyalty and trustworthiness of many "converts of the eleventh hour" to the royalist cause, more numerous every day. He well knew that Brissac had sold out Henri III to join the League and that he was now ready to do the same in reverse. Moreover, the king specifically designated Le Maistre, Molé, Damours, and Du Vair to meet with prévôt des marchands Luillier and Brissac, "to work out in detail the manner and the means of reducing this city to the king's obedience." L'Estoile mentions one such meeting at the Arsenal, on March 19. One supposes the agenda included the conditions of both sides—including those concerning the status of the parlementaires who had remained in Paris vis-à-vis those of Tours and Châlons—but unfortunately we have no reports of the discussions or conclusions. From subsequent events and testimony we can nevertheless hazard a few hypotheses.[44]

Tuesday, March 22, at seven in the morning, the king entered Paris by the same gate by which the late king had left. The city was reduced to its obedience without sack or bloodshed, except for a few lancers and two or three bourgeois of the city. The king has since said that he wished he could buy back their lives for 50,000 crowns to leave as a remarkable witness to posterity that the king had taken Paris without the death of a single man. . . .

When he arrived at the Pont Notre-Dame and heard the people joyously crying, Vive le Roi! he said, "I can see that these people have been tyrannized over." When he set foot on the ground in front of Notre-Dame, the people pressed in on him and the captains of the guards tried to push them back, but he wouldn't let them, and said he would rather . . . have them at their ease, as "they are famished for the sight of a king" (Brunet 6:183-186; Roelker 255-256).

Du Vair played an active part in the actual reduction of the city, by taking military command of a detachment of armed men in the neighborhood of the University of Paris, whose headquarters was the Hôtel de Cluny. This was the most dangerous section of the city for known royalists lacking


protection of the regular troops—as yet outside the capital. As we have noted repeatedly, every episode of violence aimed at heretics and anybody thought to sympathize or associate with them since l'affaire de la rue St-Jacques in September 1557, had its main constituency there. The volatile student population was the most responsive audience of the prédicateurs .

Advancing on a band of jusqu'au-boutiste youth, Du Vair suddenly realized that with two or three exceptions those under his supposed command were nowhere in sight. Whereupon he had the wit, in the words of his biographer, "to replace the captain with the orator" and began exhorting them as Frenchmen to oppose the Spaniards. The response was a point-blank shot, fortunately unable to penetrate his breastplate. Reportedly, he paid no attention, passing on to another argument: that the game they were playing would get them hanged. This intrepid posture "won" the confrontation for him, and his assailants retreated.[45] This incident marks still another distinction between Du Vair and the typical parlementaire, whose view of military action was that of André Guillart.[46] L'Estoile's account:

At about nine in the evening [before] I was informed, as were a number of other good inhabitants of this city of Paris who had always held to the French party, the party of the king, that on the morrow, March 22, between three and four in the morning, the king would enter by one of two gates, with troops that would have been approaching in the night, and that I should be ready at the appointed hour, armed and wearing a white scarf. I complied. When I reached the Pont St-Michel . . . I found four or five persons, who recognized me and said that it was too early, and that we must withdraw for another half hour. As we did so, we met about fifty men armed and wearing white scarves who asked us the password, which we gave: Vive le Roi et la paix! At that moment another forty or fifty men, also armed, with white scarves, joined us, making 100 or 120 in all. We seized both ends of the Pont St-Michel, placing sentinels at the nearby street crossings and welcoming those who continued . . . to join us.

The Spaniards and Neapolitans, having been alerted, sent men—unarmed, from all directions to spy out the situation—who were captured by us, and they also tried to reinforce their garrison by the Porte de Bussy with armed men. We captured both those who were leaving and those who were arriving, so that they had no new forces.

Meanwhile, the people gradually assembled, some on the Pont St-Michel, some on the Petit Pont, and others [in other places]. Whenever a ligueur came of out his house, he was seized.

Now, although at first there had been few men for the king, they were so bold and resolute that this confidence gradually increased both their


numbers and their courage. Although the Italians and Spaniards numbered a good 700 or 800 armed men in the garrison, by divine intercession they were seized by such fear that none dared to leave the barracks—nor were any orders to that effect given. This is how things were going in our part of the city.[47]

Things happened thick and fast on the day of the reduction. A general amnesty was announced immediately, from which only 120 native French subjects were later excluded.[48]

The Guise princesses, who had been so active in the cause of the League, were specifically reassured and personally received by the king. They were fulsome in their praise, but his response showed full consciousness of their real feelings and indirectly warned them to mend their ways. The "Tableau de Madame de Montpensier," depicting the alleged torture of Catholics in England, displayed in the churchyard of St-Séverin since 1587, was removed by the king's direct command. In the afternoon the duke of Feria, escorted by the entire foreign garrison, left the city by the Porte St-Denis. The king was seated in a balcony overlooking the scene. He responded to the formal salutations of the duke with mock solemnity, sweeping off his great hat with its famous white plume, saying, "My greetings to your master, but do not return." He could not resist teasing some of his new followers. He asked one well-known "convert, 'What do you say to seeing me in Paris?' 'I say, Sire, that what belongs to Caesar has been rendered to Caesar, as what belongs to God should be rendered to God.' 'Ventre St-Gris! ' said the king, '[Paris] was not rendered (rendu ) to me, but sold (vendu ).' He said this in the presence of M. Brissac, the prévôt, and others of the vendeurs " (Brunet 6:187-189; Roelker 257).

De Thou comments,

The tranquillity that reigned in the city after such a great revolution was almost incredible. The shops were opened in the afternoon, so that all could see within a single day, almost in a moment, the enemies of the state ban-


ished, the factions overcome, a legitimate king on the throne, the authority of the magistracy, public liberty and the law itself reestablished.[49]

Étienne Pasquier, who had himself been in the royal counsels since the start of the reign, left a precious, detailed account of the timetable of the actual takeover of the capital, in a letter to his eldest son, Theodore. It was a proud moment for the Pasquier family. Two of Étienne's sons were leading segments of the royal armed force, "with the intention of performing a faithful service to the king or laying down their lives in the attempt. So joyous you would have thought they were going to a wedding. . . . I gave them my blessing with tears in my eyes, as to those I never expect to see again." Pasquier gives a very exact account of the military movements and says he is sorry he cannot tell what was happening on the political plane inside the city at the same time, "except that I know M. Langlois, avocat in Parlement and one of the échevins, was the principal leader."[50] He describes the foreign garrisons as "astounded" and surrendering at once. "The king entered the city, saluted M. de Brissac, presented him with a white scarf, and then went straight to Notre-Dame to give thanks to God, accompanied by cries of Vive le Roi! and general acclamation, in an admirable correspondence of mutual trust, the king's of his new subjects and theirs of their new king."[51]

The reality of the reduction was not quite as smooth and idyllic as depicted in these euphoric remarks; the Bastille was not surrendered until the 26th, and the expressions of mutual affection and trust owed something to the imposition of strict censorship—booksellers were to suppress all books injurious to the honor of the late king and the present king, on pain of death and confiscation of all their property—and the requirement for all officers to make profession of orthodox Catholic belief. These were the price of amnesty.[52] For members of Parlement, moreover, relief and rejoicing were mixed with considerable apprehension: what would be the attitude of the triumphant king toward subjects, bound by oath to the crown and charged with guardianship of the law, who had remained in Paris in defiance


of explicit royal commands? What status would the king ordain for the ligueur court vis-à-vis the loyalist courts of Tours and Châlons? How would the chambers be reestablished and the members redeployed? Every member of the Paris court must have suffered some anxiety about his future, especially the jusqu'au-boutistes , but also the converts of the final hour.

Even those who had saved the Salic law through the "arrêt du président Le Maistre" must have held their breath to see whether the king would display the gratitude they anticipated. Even if he did, how would their loyalist colleagues react? In the best of circumstances the Parisians must endure some censure for more than five years of cooperation with the League. As early as March 27, it was known that the king had commissioned Pierre Pithou and Antoine Loisel to "purge" the registers: to go through them carefully and to set aside and then destroy everything they found since the start of the rebellion that would be dangerous in the future. They set about the task at once.[53]

One question was soon answered—Henri IV decided to rehabilitate the Paris Parlement without waiting for the return of the loyalists from Tours. "Saturday, March 26, the king promised Messieurs of the Parlement that they would be reestablished in spite of the opposition of some who begged him to wait for the Parlement of Tours, to whom he responded, curtly, 'Those of Tours tended to their own affairs, those of Paris tended to mine.'"[54] Those who opposed this decision included some of our mainstream spokesmen, including J.-A. de Thou and Antoine Loisel, whereas Pasquier and Pithou supported it. While spelling out the terms of the transaction with its usual care for accuracy, L'Histoire universelle shows the strain imposed by de Thou's own contrary opinion:

This was accomplished principally because of the pressure brought by d'O,[55] a man who was the enemy of every virtue, interested in flattering the Parisians and keeping his own influence great by perpetuating the schism in the Parlement and attacking the king's loyal servants. . . . He argued that any delay [in rehabilitating the court] risked the king changing his mind, and the consequent loss of the benefits [they had been promised] and declared that it would be easier to reconcile the opposing factions if the king would make no distinctions between the loyalists and those whom repentance would make equally loyal. The king allowed himself to be persuaded


. . . and from then on one realized, sadly, that grace would be accorded with little equity or discernment, that there would be no distinction made between gens de bien and the wicked.[56]

Some years later in a letter to président Jeannin, de Thou expressed bitterness that he was not named premier président. He had counted on the king's gratitude for his services and his sacrifices. "My property was ransacked during the war." The king commented that only de Thou refrained from importuning him (the king). This gratifying remark was the single recompense for five years of service. "The king's attitude toward me changed with his fortune, proving that the sight of one to whom we are obliged is a disagreeable reproach."[57]

Radouant offers a justification for the decision: it was essential that normal life and order be restored to the city legally, that is, according to accepted custom, that all royal ordinances and edicts be ratified and registered by the Parlement. It would be dangerous to wait for some weeks to reestablish legal government. Two necessities, to observe the traditional forms and to consolidate the support of the populace, and especially the political class, that is, the officers of the municipality and of the sovereign courts, decided Henri to recognize the ex-ligueur court at once.[58]

The decision was implemented on Monday, March 28, when the chancellor came to the court and, with the assistance of Pithou and Loisel, acting as procureur and avocat du roi respectively, reinstated both the Parlement and the Chambre des Comptes. The next day, members of the court went to the Louvre to pay homage to the king and joined in a formal procession to Notre-Dame, where solemn thanks were offered for the restoration of the time-honored, legal institutions, the crown, the law, and the courts.[59]

The new regime really began on March 30, when Le Maistre was installed as seventh président, Du Vair as maître des requêtes, and Langlois as prévôt des marchands. The reestablished Parlement's first act was to pass an arrêt revoking all acts since December 29, 1588, and also the authority and office of lieutenant général du royaume, "formerly attributed to the duc de Mayenne." It declared that anyone who obeyed any of his commands, or those of other princes of the house of Lorraine, would be held guilty of lèsemajesté. All acts, resolutions, and regulations of the provincial deputies


recently assembled in Paris "under the false title of Estates," were revoked and declared null. All persons were required to renounce membership in the League and all assemblies and processions were prohibited, except that every year on the 22d of March a solemn procession would be held, in which members of Parlement would wear their red robes, to commemorate the reduction of Paris to the king's obedience.[60]

During Holy Week the king was careful to follow the traditional (royal) religious observances, washing the feet of the poor and distributing alms on Maundy Thursday, visiting the prisons and releasing many, including debtors and those who had defaulted on their taxes, on Good Friday, "all pious works that cost the king little but served him not a little with the people," says L'Estoile. And indeed, the Histoire universelle records, "The people, who gathered in crowds at this pious spectacle, admired and adored, so to speak, the same prince they had shortly before hated and detested." On Easter Sunday, the king touched more than six hundred people afflicted with scrofula, exercising "the king's touch."[61]

Everyone was waiting for the arrival of the Parlement of Tours. When this was mentioned to the king, he said, "I wish to end the quarrel of the Parisians and the Tourangeaux, that they call it off and go forward as good friends." The event was postponed until after Easter (April 10). Various emissaries had been sent to greet the Tours magistrates and pave the way for their entry and the hoped-for reconciliation. The principal object was to induce "the severe Harlay," as Radouant calls him, to accept the decision to rehabilitate the Paris Parlement without waiting for the faithful from Tours. Conseiller Damours, one of the (converted) royalists, was sent to greet the premier président in Étampes, "deploring the unhappy circumstances of the past, praising the firm loyal stand [of Harlay] and promising him that it would be respected from then on and that the whole court would be united under his leadership in the service of the state." In addition, d'O was sent with a detachment of cavalry, to escort the returnees from Longjumeau into the city. De Thou explains, "This seigneur tried to justify the hasty reestablishment of the Paris court in the eyes of the premier président, explaining it by saying that the king's kind heart could not refuse [the people's] tears."[62]

L'Estoile describes the arrival of the Tourangeaux in the city:


There were about two hundred persons, who entered in a disorderly way with quite poor equipment. People said they were laden down with moneybags, but the poor nags they had could hardly carry themselves. . . . The people lined the streets as if it were a royal entry, women in the windows, festooned with tapestries. Everyone saluted them joyfully, wishing aloud that they would never leave again and they would dispense justice to the ligueurs .[63]

Attempts to soften Harlay's attitude were not successful. As de Thou says, "He could not be consoled for having been deprived of such a fine opportunity to tear out by the root the seeds of a dangerous faction." He lost no time in deciding that the terms of those who had entered the Paris Parlement during the League or who had remained contrary to royal command would date only from the day of their taking a new oath, under new provision, by Henri IV. Furthermore, it was decreed that those of Tours would always take precedence over them. A final humiliation was that the Parisians had not received their wages. In early May they appealed to the king, protesting this inequity on the basis of his declared will that the two groups "live together forever, without division."

Procureur général La Guesle was charged with the responsibility to formalize the policy of letting bygones be bygones at the first session after the reunion of the two courts.[64] One senses that he is defending the parlementaires of Paris against those of Tours, like a "public defender" carrying out an assignment. He stops short of accusing the Parisians of complicity in the rebellion but insinuates it by citing the reply of Fabius Maximus to Livius Salinator, who claimed that he had helped in the recovery of Tarentum. "You are right," said Fabius, "because if you had not lost it, it would not have been recovered." Even so, the procureur général expresses the king's will that "those who left and those who stayed should be united in the service of His Majesty." And he goes so far as to state, "we are all Parisians." Citing Aristotle, who said that a city was its citizens, he concluded that, in Paris, both groups of magistrates should set the example for the rest.[65]

On the surface they closed ranks and presented a united front during the weeks of returning normalcy, one important manifestation of which was the submission of the Sorbonne on April 22; another was the request of the


university that the Jesuits be exiled, on May 12.[66] While the king's strong hand and his virtually universal support in public opinion were mainly responsible for the extent that unity was attained, relief that the uncertainty was over must have been a factor also, and, for the ex-ligueurs , additional relief that they had escaped greater reprisals.

Yet questions of precedence still rankled. Manipulations, jostling for advantage, and personal feuds among individuals, as well as antagonism—thinly disguised—between the two main groups can be glimpsed through the impersonal prose of the records of "the reconstitution of the chambers."[67] Twelve magistrates had been condemned as felons by Henri III on May 14, 1589. Two présidents were dead (Brisson and Pierre Le Maistre); three conseillers were banished (Baston, Machault, and Léon Lescot), but the last was readmitted a year later. The others were among the sixty-five reintegrated. These facts provide a measure of the clemency of Henri IV toward the court, and also an explanation of the resentment of those like de Thou, who felt that traitors were being rewarded at the expense of the faithful. Of thirty-two survivors of the pre-Barricades roll, twenty were Parisians, and only four were forced to resign as punishment for ligueur activity. Édouard Molé had earned his reinstatement by his leading part in the Parlement's initiative in the spring of 1593, and though he had to yield the office of procureur général to Jacques de La Guesle when the parquet was reconstituted, he retained that of conseiller and was further rewarded in 1602 when he became the seventh président. Two loyalists took over as avocats généraux, however, the beleaguered Antoine Séguier and Louis Servin.[68]

As of 1594 the roll contained 176 names: 7 présidents, 25 conseillers clercs, and 144 lay members. Additions, reinstatements, and several special deals brought the number to 188 by 1599. Rivalries for inferior offices such as greffier , procureur, and huissier were also rife, and the basoche was no less unruly than in earlier decades.[69]

Of the approximately one hundred twenty persons who received orders to leave the country Barnavi estimates about one-fifth to have been influential in the League: six ecclesiastics (the familiar prédicateurs ), three mag-


istrates, four lawyers, six praticiens , including the notorious Senault, La Bruyère, and Crucé; only four were merchants.[70] Although Barnavi estimates that 90 percent of the "hard core" left France either voluntarily or by royal command, he is impressed by the evidence that those who were pardoned and reintegrated were not handicapped in their subsequent careers by their ligueur past, and that the heirs of even the jusqu'au-boutistes of lower ranks were able to prosper in the new regime. This is easy to understand, he remarks, because of the king's firm intention to sponsor a national reconciliation. To have done otherwise would have given Henri IV the lie and added to the ranks of the disaffected.[71]

Maugis finds the most conspicuous proof of the prevailing parlementaire egotism in the contrast between the extensive vengeance exacted on those responsible for the parlementaire murders of November 1591, and the almost casual slap on the wrist administered to the regicides. By the former, la Cour témoigne éloquemment de son ardeur pour sa propre cause , as opposed to le zèle bien tiède , and it shows étrange réserve for the murdered king. All those implicated in the Brisson murder—even those already dead—were hanged in effigy, and there were many punitive acts involving a large proportion of the court over some months. The penitence exacted for the king's murder was embodied in an arrêt ordering prayers to be said for the king's soul in the churches.[72]

The position of the Parlement in 1594 was both ironic and paradoxical. At the very moment the court's actions leading to the reduction had brought it to the greatest political influence and most favorable reputation in its then three-hundred-year history, the renewed power of the crown left it nowhere to go thereafter but down. In the new circumstances, not only had the leeway permitting the court's initiative since the death of Henri II been closed off, but the internal atmosphere of the court reflected rapidly changing values. Mark Cummings has demonstrated that for the most up-and-coming of the dominant generation from the 1590s into the next century, membership in Parlement was no longer the ultimate career goal but was seen rather as a stepping-stone, and that those who retained the traditional values were left behind, fighting a rearguard action in defense of an idea whose time had gone and would never return in the same form.[73]


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