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The day after the murder the duke's brother, a cardinal, was arrested and put to death. Thus perished the original planners of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew. Those who see the vengeance of heaven declared in the violent deaths of the perpetrators, in the misfortune and extinction of their race, are not contradicted by these events.
The exasperation of the Parisians, on learning the fate of the Guises, knew no bounds. The Pope, the Sorbonne, the clergy, and the council of Sixteen breathed vengeance everywhere; the insurrection spread from Paris to all the great towns of the kingdom. Two brothers of Duke Henry were alive, the Dukes of Mayenne and of Aumale; the Pope refused to absolve the king, and his only resource was a reconciliation with Henry of Navarre. The two kings met, and marched on Paris. In the Maison de Gondi at St. Cloud, a Dominican friar, Jacques Clement, obtained admittance under the plea of presenting some letters, and, whilst opening them, the friar stabbed the monarch in the lower part of the stomach. The king exclaimed, "The wicked monk! he has killed me!" and, drawing out the knife, struck Clement with it. The attendants rushed in and slew the assassin, so that neither his motives nor his instigators could be discovered. Henry lingered two days and expired. Henry of Navarre was summoned to the dying monarch, who declared him his successor, and at the same time embracing him, conjured him to renounce the reformed religion (1589). Clement was declared a saint and a martyr-nay, a deity. A statue was erected to him, with this inscription: "St Jaques Clement, pray for us sinners!" His mother was addressed with the same Scriptural salutation that was applied to the mother of our Lord.
Henry of Navarre now became King of France; but the throne he inherited was not his in possession. It had still to be won. The Leaguemen while they eulogised the assassin of Henry III. execrated the heresy of Henry IV. and chose for themselves a new king in the person of an old cardinal whom they proclaimed by the style of Charles X. In the absence of the new king, who was at that time a prisoner, the Duke of Mayenne declared himself lieutenant-general of the kingdom, and prepared to carry on the war. Mayenne was no great soldier; in person he was a large, corpulent, clumsy man, slow in all his movements, and requiring a large share of food and rest. It was a saying of the shrewd and candid Sixtus V., that the Bernese, as he called Henry, was sure to win, seeing that the time he lay in bed was not longer than that occupied by the Duke of Mayenne in taking his dinner.
At Arques, close in the neighbourhood of the castle bearing that name, a battle took place between the forces of Mayenne and Henry. The army of the League was 30,000 strong; that of the Huguenots not more than 4,000. One of the young officers of the League scornfully enquired where Henry's forces were, and was answered: "You do not see all-you omit to count God and my right!" The possession of the castle of Arques was of considerable advantage to Henry. It occupies a commanding position on a tongue of high land between two valleys, and covers a large area with its ruins. It was beneath the walls of this castle that the battle was
fought, and its artillery contributed not a little to the result of that day. Sully, the sagacious counsellor of Henry, tell us, in his memoirs, that there four pieces of cannon made four splendid streets in the squadrons and battalions of the enemy. In fact, three or four discharges not only checked their advance, but compelled them to shield themselves from the heavy cannonade behind a bend in the valley. From this check they never rallied, and their effort to cut off the communications of Henry with Dieppe was rendered abortive by the rapidity of his movements. It was a fiercely contested battle of about eight to one-but the League were
entirely defeated. "A rude obelisk raised on the brow of the hill marks the spot where the deadliest struggle occurred."
Elizabeth of England was not indifferent to the fortunes of Henry of Navarre. She saw her old enemy, Philip of Spain, bent on crushing the liberal spirit in France, as he had striven to do in the Netherlands, and to make France but a stepping-stone towards the desire of his heart-the seizure of England. Twenty thousand pounds in gold, and four thousand troops under Lord Wallingbury, arrived immediately after the victory of Arques. Thus reinforced Henry marched on Paris, made himself master of the suburbs on the left bank of the Seine, and continued to act on the offensive during the remainder of the year.
But the most decisive victory gained by Henry over the League was on the plains of Ivry—a site marked by a monumental obelisk. The engagement took place on the 4th of March, 1590. The troops under the command of Mayenne were enormously superior to those attached to the cause of Henry, but the battle was not decided. It was fought, and fought bravely-the monarch himself setting a noble, chivalrous example of devotion and heroism.
The spirit-stirring lines of Macaulay tell the story better than any prose description:
"The king is come to marshal us, in all his armour drest,
And he has bound a snow-white plume upon his gallant crest.
He looked upon the traitors, and his glance was stern and high.
For never saw I promise yet of such a bloody fray—
Press where ye see my white plume shine, amidst the ranks of war,
"Hurrah! the foes are moving. Hark to the mingled din,
"Now, God be praised, the day is ours! Mayenne hath turned his rein!
Immediately on the victory of Ivry, Henry marched on Paris; but he was unable to capture it, and settled down before its walls to starve it into subjection. Of all forms of siege, perhaps, that of the blockade is the most horrible. The miserable beings within the city are simply left to die-or to surrender-all hope of help is cut off; the old, and the weak, and the very young suffer the most. There is a famine-a famine within sight of plenty. Nothing can be more horrible than the details which are left to us of the condition of beleaguered cities. And Paris would have fared no better than others but for the generosity of the king.
It is worth while to look at this beleaguered city—a city divided into three cities-the City, the University, the Ville. Victor Hugo, describing Paris as it appeared not long before the time to which we refer, tells us : "The city, which occupied the island, was the most ancient, the teaster and mother of the others, placed like a little old woman between two handsome daughters. The district of the University covered the left bank of the Seine, from the Tournelle to the Tower of Nesle, points which correspond to the Halle aux Vieux and the Mint of Paris at this time. Its enclosures usurped a large portion of the fields where Julian erected his warm baths. The hill of St. Genevieve was within it. The farthest curve of the wall was that extending to the Papal gate, that is near to the present pantheon. The Ville, the largest division of the city, was on the right bank of the river; it extended from the Tower of Billi to the Tower of Bois; that is, from the present Griever d'Abondance to the Tuileries. The Ville extended farther into the fields than the district of the University. These three divisions were of a very different character: the Ville abounded with palaces, the University with colleges, and the City with churches. The island might be said to be under the jurisdiction (putting aside minor powers) of the bishop; the City, of the provost of the merchants, and the University of the rector. A large and
deep ditch surrounded the city wall, the Seine supplying the water which filled it; at night they closed the gates, put four iron chains across the streets, and then Paris slept tranquilly."
But Paris, with its walls and gates and iron chains, could not be supposed to be sleeping tranquilly when those who stood on Notre Dame looked out as hopelessly and as helplessly for succour as shipwrecked mariners for friendly sail. The prices of provisions rose rapidly as the army of Henry of Navarre arrived and settled down before the walls of Paris. The famine fell on the poorest first; only the rich could buy bread and meat, and the rations served out were scanty. As the summer advanced the sufferings of the citizens became more terrible. Horses, dogs, asses, cats, and even rats, were ravenously eaten. The Duchess de Montpensier refused gold and jewellery to the amount of two thousand crowns for a favourite dog, saying she would reserve it for herself when her stores were exhausted. No less than thirteen thousand persons are estimated to have died of hunger during the blockade.
Henry of Navarre, well advised of what was going on within the city, was deeply affected by the recital of the sufferings the poor people were called upon to undergo. In order to relieve them, he opened a free passage for such of the starving inhabitants as chose to depart; and forth they came, the mere semblance of humanity, many of them so exhausted as to be carried out, utterly unable to move hand or foot. But a few only, comparatively, accepted the royal grace, the rest preferred to take the chances of war-to die-but not to surrender. With a tenderness of heart which certainly militated against his own interests, Henry permitted a good store of provisions to be smuggled into the city; he could not bear the thought of his people suffering while he had it within his power to relieve them. In the meantime the arquebus and crucifix worked on the religious sentiment of the multitude. This Henry, they said, was a heretic, accursed of God and man-an outcast from both heaven and earth-and unworthy of either. They did not forget to eat of his bread, however, nor to avail themselves of all the advantages which his generosity placed within their reach; but they reviled him in church and market, and promised the people speedy help from Spain.
And the help they predicted was really at hand. Alexander Farnese was rapidly approaching. He who had laboured so zealously in the cause of the King of Spain and Pope of Rome in the Netherlands was hastening to relieve Paris and support the Catholic cause. Henry of Navarre was in