The Cambridge Modern History: Planned by the Late Lord Acton - Vol. 4

By A. W. Ward; G. W. Prothero et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV.
RICHELIEU.

ON the death of Henry IV his far-reaching designs were laid aside, and the energy of the Government of France was expended for some years in shifts, expedients, and temporary measures of self-preservation. The proposed invasion of Navarre was ignored by the tacit consent of both the States concerned. The attack upon Milan was abandoned, and the ambitions of the Duke of Savoy were frustrated. The French Government contented itself with affording him so much support as preserved him from the vengeance of Spain. The War of the Jülich Succession, which has been narrated in a previous volume, was dexterously confined to the narrowest limits. The great army which Henry IV had assembled for purposes of which he alone had been fully cognisant was in part disbanded; and a small force of 8000 foot and 1200 horse joined the Dutch and German contingents in the siege of Jülich. When the town had surrendered ( September 1, 1610) this force was withdrawn; and the disputed territories were left to Brandenburg and Neuburg, "the Princes in possession." In stipulating for the maintenance of the Catholic religion in the pacified duchies the French Government followed perhaps the course which the late King would have approved, and certainly that which was most likely to preserve the peace.

Meanwhile measures had been taken to carry on the affairs of France. Immediately on the death of the King, his Ministers, too cautious to take a definite decision on their own responsibility, appealed to the Parlement of Paris; and that body, nothing loth to exercise a political function, at once declared the Queen-Mother, Mary de' Medici, to be the lawful Regent. This decree was confirmed on the following day in a lit de justice, at which the little King, Louis XIII, appeared ( May 15, 1610). The new Regent retained her husband's Ministers in their appointments. The routine business of State was transacted by Sillery (the Chancellor), Villeroy, and Jeannin. Sully, on his master's death, bethought him of the many enemies whom he had made, and retired for safety to the Bastille. Reassured as to his personal security, he afterwards joined the Government and retained his posts; his unpopularity, however, told against him; his overweening temper alienated

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