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Title: Sundry Great Gentlemen: Some Essays in Historical Biography
Author: Marjorie Bowen
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Language: English
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Sundry Great Gentlemen
Some Essays in Historical Biography

by

Marjorie Bowen

Cover Image

First UK edition: John Lane/The Bodley Head, London, 1928
First US edition: Dodd, Mead and Co., New York, 1928



"Les hommes sont rien, un homme est tout." —Napoléon I.

"Let us now praise famous men...such as
did bear rule in their kingdoms, men renowned for
their power...leaders of the people by their
counsels and by their knowledge...all these
were honoured in their generations, and were the
glory of their times."
—Ecclesiasticus, 44.



TABLE OF CONTENTS



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS



Illustration

Louis XII of France, Louis II d'Orléans



PREFACE

THE following biographical sketches may find some excuse in the fact that five at least are not well-worn subjects to the English reader, and all deal with characters of singular interest and wide importance in their several times.

The endeavour has been, in each case, to detach the man from these times, a task not always easy: the individual is so apt to be dwarfed and even hidden by the events that surrounded his personality.

For this reason the complications of the Thirty Years' War, those of the Austrian and Spanish Successions, are dealt with as slightly as is consistent with a coherent relation; details of these and the other historic happenings referred to will be found in the books quoted in the bibliography that follows each subject; these bibliographies, though of course by no means exhaustive, cover a fairly wide range and will afford a comprehensive amount of information.

The subject of the spelling of foreign names must always be a vexed one; without pedantry one must be capricious, for rio satisfactory fixed rule on this matter has yet been found; the author has used the usual accepted English spelling of most well-known proper names, and here and there the foreign forms when these referred to less familiar people or places and appeared to give more life and colour to the narrative; there may be a great virtue in the spelling of a name, and the author was loath to sacrifice Carlos and Dom Sebastião and only reluctantly gave up Loys.

On the other hand, Gustav Adolf and Hermann Moritz von Sachsen savoured too obviously of affectation; the usual compromise on this difficult question has therefore been adopted; whatever way is chosen the author generally comes in for criticism, which this explanation is not so hopeful as to expect to disarm.

There are no portraits, of course, of Frederic II and few of Dom Sebastião; none of those of Louis XII support his contemporaries' opinion of his good looks, and those of Maurice de Saxe are also disappointing though characteristic of his flamboyant period.

On the other hand, the portraits of Carlos II and Gustavus Adolphus II are abundant and fine; most interesting both as historical documents and as likenesses, though, even here, neither the ugliness of the one nor the beauty of the other is so apparent as one might have expected.

Many of these stories contain, oddly enough, a mystery; in each case the sensational explanation has been rejected or ignored, because there seems to be slight foundation whatever for it in every instance.

The conspiracy of Pietro da Vinea is obscure beyond hope of elucidating now; but many tales have grown up round the death of Dom Sebastião, of Marie Louise d'Orléans, of Maurice de Saxe, the fall of Gustavus Adolphus at Lützen.

Did Sebastião return to Portugal long after the disaster where he was supposed to have perished?

Was Maurice de Saxe killed in a duel with the Prince de Conti?

Was the Queen of Spain poisoned by the Austrian party in Madrid?

Was the great Swede treacherously slain in the confusion of the battle?

There seems little evidence for any of these suppositions, yet a doubt will in all the cases continue to linger, until the day when some industrious researcher of archives puts the questions at last beyond dispute, as one such worker appears to have already put the question of the death of Dom Sebastião.

The author, in dealing with these debatable points, has not followed the romantic tradition of accepting anecdotal tales, which, however often repeated, only rest on dubious evidence and are obviously embellished by fancy, but has tried to keep as near the truth as is possible in following authorities so often conflicting.

It may be noted that many of the terms used, "balance of power," etc., express conceptions of political economy now outworn, but these same conceptions were very powerful in their day and embodied ideas that swayed the statesmen of Europe up to the period of the Congress of Vienna; they have therefore, though obsolete at the present moment, been adopted.

M. B.,
London, August 1927.



FREDERIC II OF HOHENSTAUFEN (1194-1250)

EMPEROR OF THE WEST, KING OF SICILY AND JERUSALEM

Illustration

Frederic II of Hohenstaufen.
Emperor of the West, King of Sicily and Jerusalem, 1194-1250.



"Stupor Mundi et immutator mirabilis."

*

"I hold my crown of God alone, and neither
the Pope, nor the Council, nor the Devil shall
rend it from me...I who am the Chief Prince
of the World, yea, who am without an equal."

—Frederic II at Turin, 1245.



IN March, 1212, Frederic of Sicily sailed up the Tiber with a small retinue; and, landing at Rome, paid homage to the Pope, Innocent III, in the sumptuous palace of the Laterano.

This visitor to the city of the Caesars had come to claim the heritage of the Caesars; he was on his way North to assume sovereignty over the chaotic Empire that Papal gratitude had bestowed on Carolus Magnus and that, revived by Otto the Great, had been carried to a height of splendid pretension by the House of Hohenstaufen of which this Sicilian Prince, the son of the Emperor Henry VI and grandson of the redoubtable Frederic I, called Barbarossa, was the heir.

His mother was Costanzia, heiress of the rich and elegant Kingdoms of Sicily and Naples, and this Frederic had been born on Christmas Day, 1194, at Iesi, in Apulia, while his father was celebrating the Advent of the Prince of Peace by the atrocious massacre of the family and followers of the rebel Tancred; before Frederic was three years old this grim tyrant had died and his widow had put the defenceless boy under the guardianship of the Pope, who took the occasion to seal a hard bargain with her which included the vassalage of her paternal lands and a yearly tribute to the throne of St. Peter.

Even the dearly bought protection of the Holy Father could not, however, secure the Empire to the grandson of Barbarossa, though the Electors of Germany had sworn to Henry VI to elect his son as his successor, and, since the time of Otto the Great, it had been understood that the imperial crown was to go to the Prince chosen by his peers to be King of Germany.

Not only had Frederic been ignored in the competition for this splendid crown, which had been bestowed on his uncle, Philip of Hohenstaufen, by the majority of the Electors and on Otto of Guelf, Duke of Brunswick, by the minority, but a confusion of civil war had been stirred up in his native Kingdom, so that the boy, left motherless at four years of age, was often not only without a realm, but without a home. The protection of the Pope had preserved him from complete ruin and had secured him an education; Sicily was subdued to some quietude and the young King married to Costanzia, widow of the King of Hungary, and sister of the King of Aragon.

Meanwhile, for twelve years a struggle of hideous ferocity had raged between Philip of Hohenstaufen and the Guelf, ending in the success of Otto, who was rewarded with the Imperial diadem; but immediately after the newly elected Kaiser broke the oaths of submission he had made to the Pope and proceeded to harry the lands of the Papal ward, this Frederic Hohenstaufen, King of Sicily and rightful Caesar, now in Rome.

Innocent at once excommunicated the refractory Emperor and fomented divisions in Germany where the defeated Hohenstaufen party was still powerful though subdued.

Otto hastened North from his Italian conquests to crush this rebellion, and Innocent, as a counter move, encouraged the young Frederic to come from Palermo and assume the dignity of his forefathers, in answer to the summons of the Electors, who, weary of the civil war, turned to the young Hohenstaufen for relief.

Such were the events which brought the grandson of Barbarossa to the footstool of Innocent III in the early spring of 1212.

The high adventure to which Frederic had been summoned was perilous and lofty, full of profound dangers, but with the greatest prize in the world as a possible reward; he was reputed to be of a soft and voluptuous temperament, given to elegant versifying and idle pursuits in his warm Southern Kingdom where the traditions of an ancient culture were decaying amid flowery fields, where yellow marble temples dedicated to dead gods still stood amid the wild vines, and where the dark groves of bay and olive, ilex and citron shadowed the meads that Theocritus had peopled with singing shepherds.

Innocent, the shrewd, powerful man of the world, who grasped the keys of St. Peter with as ferocious a grip as the terrible Hildebrand himself, had been doubtful if this Sicilian born and bred Hohenstaufen would be of any use to him in his struggle with Otto of Brunswick; it was difficult for the Pope to find a Prince strong enough to hold together the unwieldy Empire of Carolus Magnus, and at the same time meek enough to be the humble vassal of Rome.

Frederic Hohenstaufen was now seventeen years old, and had been three years married; when the Papal forces had driven the Saracens into the mountains in 1200, and restored some measure of peace to Sicily, the Pope had installed the Archbishop of Taranto as tutor to the six-year-old King; this dignitary was assisted, oddly enough, by infidel scholars and the boy's mind had been formed by Mussulman as well as Christian doctrines; he was unusually accomplished in the liberal arts, but he had disclosed no ambition, and apart from a piteous appeal to the Sovereigns of Europe, written when he was in great misery, at the age of eleven, had made no attempt to interfere in the embroiled confusions of the time.

This King of Sicily had embarked on his ambitious journey with only a scanty following; most of the Sicilian nobles had preferred the delights of their native country to an enterprise so dubious and had not wished to see Sicily become an apanage of the Empire, and when he appeared before the Pope it was with a mere retinue, not an army, and a retinue clad in silk and adorned with an Eastern opulence.

Innocent hoped to put forward this brilliant boy as his lieutenant in Christendom, a position in which the Popes had been striving to put the Emperors since they bestowed the pompous honours of the Caesars on the Frankish monarch who had steadied St. Peter's tottering throne.

It had often seemed since then as if there was to be no peace in Christendom until either Pope or Emperor were crushed, or until both were united in common aims, welded into one vast authority which should subdue the world under the banner of the Cross protected by the consolidated armies of Europe obedient to one supreme Head, the Emperor, who would be, in his turn, obedient to the Holy See.

Such was the ambition of the present successor of St. Peter, nor was it an unmeaning nor pretentious one for the Church, which had kept alive culture and learning, trade and art, during five centuries in the East while Europe crashed in the West.

Europe was still in a state of confusion and required reducing to order and colonizing; learning and wisdom were mostly the monopoly of the Church; it was therefore natural that the Popes should become obsessed with the importance and splendour of their task, sanctified as it was by the magnificent Divine command, "See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant," and that they should passionately desire in the greatest secular power, the Empire, that which they had themselves created, not an insolent rival, but a submissive ally.

Innocent III thought that he had found such an ally in the youth he had protected and educated, who now knelt humbly before the grim old man, reverently renewed the oaths of vassalage made by his mother, and admitted the baseless claim that Innocent had advanced for the overlordship of Sicily and Naples.

The Pope for his part provided the Imperial pretender with men and money and gave his dangerous enterprise the sanction of the Church.

The slim and serene youth then advanced Northwards where a deputy from the Electors had already been sent to warn the great Lombard towns of the coming of the rightful heir of the Caesars, the King of Germany, of Sicily, the Duke of Suabia and Emperor Elect.

The bearer of these proud titles had a difficult journey before him; the country was infested by his enemies, and Otto of Brunswick, though deposed by the Electors and excommunicated by the Pope, was still powerful and counted many of the Princes of Germany among his friends, nor was he likely to relinquish his gorgeous prize without a renewal of the struggle to which fourteen years of most bloody warfare had habituated him.

The Summons of the Diet had come from Nuremberg in the previous October, and Frederic's objective was the heart of Germany; between him and that lay the Italian and German States, many of whom were either Guelf in sympathy or at war with each other.

Frederic did not hesitate before these rampant perils; he pushed forward to his goal with a daring that was as heartening to his friends as it was menacing to his enemies.

His character was not yet completely disclosed; it was known that he was intelligent and accomplished, and it had been just seen that he was as ambitious and daring as befitted his descent, easily the most illustrious in the West.

His present undertaking was well in accordance with the spirit of a restless, tumultuous age, and the glory of his name seemed likely to be linked to the glory of his achievements.

The blend of the German and the Sicilian had produced in Frederic one who was not typical of either race; the boy who was galloping across Italy to his Imperial throne was slight, almost effeminate in appearance with a profusion of reddish blond hair, small features, a pale complexion and light eyes of a singular brightness and clarity; his face had been compared to the calm countenance of the broken statues of Apollo that here and there lingered in ruined shrines in Sicily; but, if his features had something of classic beauty and cold composure, his appointments were Eastern in luxury and profusion: he paraded sumptuously in the embroideries, the jewelled arms, the gleaming silks and fine velvet, the erect plumes and the gold-studded leathers of the East.

Pisa, which held for the Guelf, barred the young adventurer's way, but Pisa's enemy, Genoa, received him; he remained in that opulent and stately city for two months while his adherents endeavoured to secure for him some way into Germany other than the obvious route by Milan and the Alps, for the mighty Lombard city was unflinchingly loyal to the Guelf. Frederic made at last for Pa via, where he was warmly acclaimed, slipped secretly by night to Cremona through a hostile region, gained Mantua, Verona, and from there the Bavarian frontier, having escaped, by the narrowest margin, death or capture at the hands of his swarming enemies.

His following was reduced now to a meagre train and the greatest perils were in front of him; Otto barred the way across Bavaria, but the Emperor Elect showed that judicious blend of caution and daring, that power to judge swiftly and prudently, to act bravely and warily, that stamps the great leader of men; the luxurious and elegant Prince, used only to the soft leisures of Sicily, turned to the West and proceeded through the snowbound passes of the Alps, smilingly endured the hardships of the progress through the almost impassable defiles, and came out, still elegant and composed, in his own Duchy of Suabia, where he was joined by some notable Churchmen, the Bishop of Coire and the Abbot of St. Gall.

The splendid city of Konstanz, towering above her vivid vast lake, now became the pivot of the contest; the Guelf threatened this gateway to Frederic's progress Northwards, hoping to occupy the town and from this basis to drive the daring boy back into Italy.

But Frederic was always surpassingly swift, he dashed on Konstanz, reached the walls while Otto was a few miles away, and imperiously demanded the loyalty and support of the Bishop of Konstanz, an ancient adherent of the House of Suabia.

He was admitted into the city, the gates were closed in the face of Otto, who fell back Northwards disheartened, and the Hohenstaufen had won the Holy Roman Empire.

Frederic marched triumphantly to Basle, nearly all the German potentates hastening to share his success, his train swelling to majestic proportions as he advanced, brilliant, smiling, serene, into the heart of his new Kingdom.

He now disclosed his latent genius; preserving the serene equanimity of a lofty mind, he remained as unmoved by the dazzling conclusion of his adventure as he had been by its dubious beginning, and proceeded to consolidate his position by lavish rewards to his German friends and by an alliance with France, whose enemy, the crafty Angevin, John of England, favoured the cause of Otto, his nephew.

Philip Augustus celebrated this treaty with a munificent gift of money, which Frederic, with prudent generosity, proceeded to divide among the Electors and Princes of Germany.

At Mainz he held a Diet, at Frankfort he was crowned by the hands of the Papal Legate in the presence of all the Teutonic potentates and five thousand loyal knights.

This was in December, 1212; it was less than a year since Frederic had left Sicily, almost unattended, and now he had achieved the summit of all possible worldly human ambition; he was the Emperor, the heir of the Caesars and of Carolus Magnus, the chief of the Holy Roman Empire, which the men who had elected him believed had been "set up by God Almighty, that its Lord, like a God on Earth, might rule Kings and Nations and maintain Peace and Justice."

He was not yet quite eighteen years old and he had been set up "like a God on Earth," the temporal Chief of Christendom.

He ruled directly over the entire area of Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, nearly all Belgium, and the Kingdom of Arles (France to the Rhone) and Northern Italy, and theoretically he was "the lord of the whole world"; Sicily and Southern Italy were his through his mother, and Poland and Hungary were tributary to him; no youth had ever before, or was ever again to wield so vast and real a power: his Empire exceeded that of Alexander of Macedonia, and almost equalled that of Rome at the apogee of her glory.

The next few years were as a glittering, triumphal progress for Frederic Hohenstaufen; he swept through Germany with his resplendent following of kings, bishops, nobles, routed out the supporters of Otto (who fled into his ancestral territories of Brunswick) and rewarded his vassals with the same smiling calm with which he crushed the partisans of the Guelf; his fame became unprecedented, unbounded.

John of England, allied with the Earl of Flanders, rashly took up the cause of Otto, his sister's son, but was utterly defeated by Philip Augustus at the battle of Bouvines, a defeat that lost Normandy to England; and, after this final overthrow of the Guelf, Aix-la-Chapelle surrendered to Frederic, who seated on the throne of Carolus Magnus was sumptuously crowned for the second time.

He had already taken a vow of obedience to the Pope and recompensed him for his assistance by gifts of land in Central Italy and the surrender of various rights to the Church in Sicily, as well as by the cession of some disputed estates in Tuscany. He now, with the silver crown of Germany on his head, the Cross in his hand, and anointed with the holy oil, made a further concession to the known desires of the Papacy. He swore to lead a crusade to the Holy Land, and his beauty, his power, his obvious sincerity moved the packed multitudes, who had just thrice shouted assent to his stupendous elevation, to excited enthusiasm.

Frederic was now in a position almost beyond human ambition to desire and almost beyond human capacity to maintain; he, who had been an obscure, petty King, whose childhood had been passed in poverty and confusion, neglect and peril, found himself elevated to supreme power over all his fellows, and this at twenty years of age.

It was, of course, a height as dangerous as magnificent to which he had climbed; despite the prestige of his birth and the solid advantage of the Papal support, a single weakness in himself might have at once hurled him to ruin. He had to be bold and wary, daring and prudent, at once loved and feared to hold together, even for a moment, his huge and divided Empire; nor was he, at first sight, the type of man to rule successfully warlike and impetuous peoples; the fair and slender youth, trained in Southern luxury, had nothing of the powerful presence, the fierce and overwhelming masculinity that had made his forefathers the natural lords of warriors.

His appearance, his manners and his tastes might well have seemed effeminate to the rough and burly Germans who crowded round the Eagles, but Frederic was easily and without dispute their master; by reason of his intellect and character he was a born master of men, and with this native genius for governance was combined a personal charm, an attraction, a fascination of word and look, too seldom seen with genius, too often the attributes of the shallow and the worthless.

Frederic's Sicilian blood had tempered the grand virile qualities of the Hohenstaufen with a silken grace, an exquisite tact, a delicate courtesy that even the sullen or the ill-affected could not resist; added to this was the serenity of conscious greatness; Frederic never met his equal in worldly rank, nor his equal in intellectual attainments, he was by genius, as well as position, the foremost man of his time.

This air of calm power, this smiling, but indifferent amiability, this equable, finished elegance of manner, together with his accomplishments and his learning, masking an indomitable will, combined to give him a power as tremendous as that enjoyed by the greatest of his ancestors, and a wider fame.

He was exceedingly popular among every rank of the Germans, who saw in him the Emperor who would restore to them that ordered prosperity which they had enjoyed for a short while under the earlier Hohenstaufen, and which had lately been lost in the factions of the Guelf and Ghibelline.

Frederic increased this popularity by a lavish and impartial generosity, Oriental in munificence, and further bound the Germans to his service by an openhanded distribution of grants, privileges and dignities, which in truth cost him but little, since these petty potentates had long since seized the chance afforded them, by the perpetual disturbances in the Empire, to grasp at a certain amount of liberty for themselves.

A lesser man would now have proceeded to enjoy his triumph, so complete and so unexpected, in pleasure and ease; this might have naturally been Frederic's choice, for he had spent two toilsome years since he had left the delights of Sicily and he was by nature voluptuous and indolent; to one of his wide, alert mentality much of the active world about him must have appeared contemptible or ridiculous, and reading, mediation, the exercise of his gifts for music and poetry, the indulgence of his delight in beauty and grace, in refined and elegant diversions made a strong appeal indeed.

But Frederic Hohenstaufen looked beyond his personal gratification; he saw the world spread before him, struggling into some semblance of law and order, system forming out of chaos, Peace trembling on the heels of War, and he believed that he might make these things permanent, that, out of the confusion and darkness that had eclipsed Europe since the disruption of the Roman Empire, he might create an Empire as mighty, as united as that of the Caesars, but more secure as it would include the power and progress of those peoples, the Barbarians, who had overthrown the ancient power, and the influence of that new God that had overthrown the ancient gods.

No one could have conceived of a more lofty ambition, nor seen the task to his hand on a wider scale, and no one could have devoted himself to his work with greater single-mindedness, with a more profound wisdom.

Such men as Frederic are always accused of personal ambition; this is but the croaking of frogs in the marsh that follows the flight of the bird across the sky, the spiteful jealousy of the little souls that remain in the mud because they have no wings to fly.

It is not possible for a man of supreme intellect in a position of supreme power to feel the cringing humility of the mediocre mind with but little authority, or to doubt and depreciate himself as if he were a cloistered philosopher or an emasculate monk; such a man as Frederic Hohenstaufen faced even his God on equal terms, and if he saw the world like a jewel of silver and lapis lazuli hung at his belt for his adornment, he saw it in no spirit of petty arrogance, but with an ironic appreciation of his own supremacy in a crude, violent, ignorant age.

With deliberate abnegation of his own desires, he flashed through the dark forests, the heavy towns, the wide meadows of Germany, with his train of troubadours and dancers and scholars and glittering knights, a sparkling pageant under these cold skies, among this uncivilized, turbulent people, whose laws, customs and possessions were alike one rude confusion.

The fair, smiling Emperor held his Diet in city after city, travelled from castle to castle, received submission after submission from towns and feudal barons, administered swift justice, granted charters for the revival of trade and agriculture, threw the protection of his power over the weak, and hurled the wrath of his power against the oppressor; he was a despot whose will might never be questioned, but the reviving prosperity of the country, the gratitude of those he had protected and those he had enriched, the deep impression made by his personal charm and beauty and the bright splendour of his mind caused a universal admiration and applause to sound not only through the Empire but through the world.

Encouraged by these awestruck praises, Frederic proceeded to confirm the House of Hohenstaufen in Imperial power; he sent for his wife and little son, Henry, from Sicily, and, at the Diet of Frankfort in 1220, used all his influence to persuade the Electors to choose the latter, already Duke of Suabia and Ruler of Burgundy, as future King of Germany.

Frederic, by thus associating his son with him in the government and by securing to him the succession of the Empire, had achieved a personal triumph and openly flouted the Pope, whose main object was to prevent the aggrandizement of the Emperor and the Hohenstaufen.

This glittering success cost Frederic but little, so great was his prestige and popularity; he certainly gave his obedient Princes charters which were the first sanction of the disruption of the Empire, but this, like his former concessions, was but a confirmation of privileges long enjoyed and which it would have been dangerous if not impossible to rescind.

Frederic, besides this affront to the Papal authority, had further irritated Rome by his reluctance to fulfil the oath taken at his coronation in Aix-la-Chapelle; and this would have doubtless led to an open breach with Rome had not the fiery Innocent III died and been succeeded by a mild spirit, Honorius III, whose feeble protests were received by Frederic with courteous indifference, and specious excuses not untinged by irony.

The Emperor, having restored order and roused loyalty in Germany, soothed the Pope and secured a reversion of his dignities to his son, turned his attention to his Italian possessions, and in August, 1220, crossed the Alps again and descended into Lombardy at the head of a sumptuous cavalcade of Teutonic knights, such gorgeous and massive potentates as the Duke of Bavaria, the Margrave of Hohenburg, the Count Palatine, and the Archbishops of Mainz and Ravenna added to the imposing display of pomp and power that glorified Frederic Hohenstaufen, now at twenty-six years of age the foremost man in the world, and enjoying a popularity which was probably beyond that ever accorded to any other prince and which he had won by his own personal qualities, his justice, his affability, his prudence, his lively grace and dazzling accomplishments, his tolerant patronage of all types of intelligence and effort, his wide view of all questions of the moment.

While he had been consolidating his power in Germany, the great towns of North Italy had fallen into strife, the Guelfs revenging themselves on the Church that had protected the Ghibellines by seizing her property and expelling her prelates; Frederic glanced aside from this implacable confusion and proceeded to Rome, where he was splendidly crowned Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in the gorgeous Basilica of St. Peter with all the pomp with which the Church dignified her most important ceremonies.

The blond and elegant Emperor, simply arrayed in spotless white amid a company resplendent with every device of worldly pageantry, received from the Holy Father the beautiful insignia of his stupendous office, the Cross, the Lance, the Sceptre, the Golden Apple, all symbols of various aspects of the power with which the Vicar of Christ invested his lieutenant.

Frederic did not receive these supreme honours without having to make some return for them; he paid homage to the Pope, he held his stirrup while he mounted for the procession through the city where the Emperor rode behind the Pontiff, he abased himself to kiss the jewelled slipper of Honorius, and, most important of all, he took the Cross from the hands of Cardinal Ugolino and repeated his vow of six years ago to lead a Crusade against the Infidel—adding on this occasion the promise to sail the following August.

Goodwill was now complete behind the two heads of Christendom, and Frederic, by no means dazzled by the glitter of the gem-encrusted Imperial diadem now added to his treasure chests, proceeded to engage in several weeks of laborious business; he issued many edicts to various cities, made many appointments, and sent out many manifestos to various provinces of his scattered realms; many of these were certainly concessions to Papal authority and measures of precautions against his enemies, the Guelfs, but with them were associated schemes of betterment for the general populace, protection for farmers, travellers and traders, and provisions against the robber and the rogue.

There is no reason whatever to doubt the sincerity of the Emperor in these decrees, or to suspect that they were merely the price of preferment received; it was natural for him to associate Christianity with law, order and progress, and to regard the Papal authority as the main support and hope of the future peace and enlightenment he had himself so much at heart, and the stern laws he promulgated against heretics must have seemed to him necessary curbs on the rebellious and the lawless. But a cloud was soon to arise between Emperor and Pope.

Frederic proceeded to his beloved Sicily and found there confusion likely in a Kingdom left too long without a King; in restoring his authority and punishing the refractory he showed a sterner haughtiness than he had yet disclosed, and among those whom he deprived of ill-gotten honours or dubiously gained estates were several priests and churches.

The immediate remonstrance of Honorius was received impatiently by Frederic, who declared, without a trace of the submission that he had shown in Rome, "that I would rather lay down my Crown than lessen my authority." He repudiated the compact between his helpless mother and the unscrupulous Innocent III and proceeded to exert the ancient privileges of the Sicilian Kings.

With sharp justice and a cold and implacable severity he put down his rebellious subjects, then led a force against the Saracens still lodged in the Western mountains of the Island, signally defeated them, hanged their leader, and transported twenty thousand of their finest fighting men to Apulia, where he ejected the Christians from Lucera and established the Moslems in their place, allowing them to use the Cathedral as a Mosque: these Saracens were to serve as a colony of warriors for the defence of the Empire.

This action revealed to the Papal power the manner of man they had to deal with; for this superb piece of bold statesmanship whereby rebels were turned into loyal soldiers (of the finest type of fighting men) was conceived and executed with a haughty defiance of Church, tradition and public opinion hitherto unknown.

The character of Frederic had developed since his first coronation; his expanding genius was no longer to be curbed by convention, nor hampered by the fears, doubts and restrictions that control small minds; in the growing maturity of his powers he became intolerant of all restraints, impatient of any superior authority, he revealed that he was fierce, bold, cruel and superb as a beast of prey beneath his smiling amiability, his gracious charm, his ready tact, and as self-assured and indomitable as one must be who looks abroad and sees no equal. No one, since the Church had been established in Europe, had flung such an affront in her face as Frederic had now done in this Saracen colony, established at the expense of Christians.

A superstitious age was profoundly shocked, and even the mild Honorius was moved to an indignant protest.

Frederic replied with that ironic contempt for an opponent which is generally accounted as duplicity; he said that, Moslems being of no account in comparison with Christians, it was better that they should be employed in the dangerous occupation of War.

Honorius must have noted the fallacy of this answer and the arrogance that prompted it, he must have realized the immense power this Moslem army, not amenable to the usual threat of excommunication, gave to the Emperor, and the menace to Papal prestige that such an action and such an excuse concealed; but he gave way, out of the weariness of old age and the timidity of a gentle nature, and renewed his plaintive efforts to induce the Emperor to undertake the crusade to which he had twice pledged himself with all solemnity.

The crusades were, in every way, to the advantage of the Popes; not only were they excellent demonstrations of the might, loyalty and religious zeal of the Christian Princes, not only did they provoke outbursts of hysterical enthusiasm for the Church, but they exhausted those resources which might have been turned against the Papacy, and involved the Kings and warriors of Europe in warfares with the Infidel and with each other that allowed them no leisure to question Papal supremacy, or to resist Papal encroachments.

But Frederic had no mind to weaken himself in this way, no animus against the Saracens, and no vivid enthusiasm for Christianity; he visualized an Empire united under a rule of tolerance where all sects, races and creeds might work together for a common splendour of progress.

No doubt his first oath was sincere, if the second was forced, but it was the oath of a boy of twenty given at a moment of unparalleled success, and, as Frederic developed, the Crusades must have appeared to him as fantastic and boyish adventures unfitted for a man of genius. He did not love fighting and hardship as warriors like Richard Coeur de Lion had loved them, exploits of personal bravery had no attraction for him, though he was absolutely fearless; he was too subtle, too fine for crude and aimless exploits.

Like Robert the Bruce after Bannockburn, he looked abroad on his own realms and saw that much needed doing there before any fanciful expeditions in the East could be undertaken; but, unlike the Scottish King, he relinquished the fulfilment of his oath without any passionate regret or any deep remorse.

He, however, sent an almost constant supply of soldiers to the East, and sumptuously entertained in his profane Sicilian Court all warriors of the Cross and pious pilgrims journeying to and from Jerusalem.

In the year 1222 he ordered a fleet of forty galleys to the support of the Christians under King John of Jerusalem, who had just made the notable conquest of Damietta.

Unfortunately for the Emperor, his galleys arrived only in time to see the city retaken by the Infidel and to learn that the triumphant Sultan had imposed a truce of eight years upon King John, softening this by a gracious present of a portion of the true Cross.

The whole of Europe was darkened by the shadow of this humiliation, and the gentle Honorius was inspired to threaten Frederic with excommunication if he did not undertake in person the task of reviving the prestige of Christendom.

Frederic was, however, little moved, he continued to occupy himself with his own affairs, and, at two meetings held with the Pope, at Veroli and Fiorentino, he induced the aged Pontiff to agree to further delays.

On these occasions Frederic met John, Crusader King of Jerusalem, and betrothed himself to this old warrior's daughter Yolande, the Spanish Empress having died the previous year; Yolande was heiress to the crown of Jerusalem, so Frederic had now a personal interest in the prospect of a crusade.

This, however, seemed no nearer than before; not only Frederic but Europe listened coldly to the Papal expostulations and exhortations; neither England, France, Italy nor Germany could be roused to the old reckless excitement, and Cardinal Ugolino, who had handed the Cross to Frederic when he took his second oath, endeavoured in vain to rouse Lombardy to enthusiasm.

The Pope was not to be easily thwarted in a matter so nearly touching his own interests, and he pestered Frederic until the Emperor agreed to sail in August, 1227, and to maintain a thousand knights in Palestine for two years; the Pope asked, this time, for a guarantee for the fulfilment of this oath, and Frederic agreed to pay, in instalments, 100,000 ounces of gold to the King and Patriarch of Jerusalem; not only was he to forfeit this if he failed to go to the East, but he was also to be instantly excommunicated.

It is probable that Frederic would not have agreed to these hard terms had he not now been married to Yolande, heiress of Jerusalem, which caused him to look on the crusades from another angle, that of his own glory.

While the Pope thought he had bound the Emperor to his service, the Emperor was resolving to use this expedition to gain yet another Kingdom for himself and perhaps indulging the daring dream of adding the Empire of the East to the Empire of the West.

His first move in this direction was to deprive his father-in-law of his kingly rank, which the doughty Crusader only held in virtue of his marriage with the Queen of Jerusalem, and which legally reverted to Frederic; John de Brienne was furious at this treatment but was unable to resist, and the Emperor now added to his mighty honours that mystical unsubstantial title, King of Jerusalem.

Frederic, having now quieted both his Germanic and his Italian possessions, disposed of the internal menace of the Saracens in Sicily, reduced the pretensions of the Church in his native country, and, with bold, pitiless hands, crushed his enemies and restored a fair measure of prosperity and tranquillity to these portions of his scattered dominions, and decided seriously to prepare for an expedition to the East.

He went North, at Cremona summoned a Diet and called on the Italian chivalry to meet him with the object of preparing for the long discussed Crusade.

At the same time he summoned the boy Henry, his son, who was maintaining the Imperial authority beyond the Alps, to bring the German knights to assist in the Holy Expedition.

Lombardy was, however, entirely Guelf in sympathy and replied to the Hohenstaufen commands with insults and menaces; Milan revived the Lombard League which had been first formed against Barbarossa, Verona barred the way to King Henry so that he was forced to return to Germany, and all the great cities, Piacenza, Verona, Brescia, Faenza, Mantua, combined to ruin the purpose of the Diet of Cremona and to force Frederic, who was unaccompanied by an army, to retire South.

The Ban of the Empire and the Ban of the Pope were hurled alike at rebellious Lombardy, but with poor results; the utmost threats could only induce the haughty and powerful cities to assist the Ghibelline Emperor to the extent of four hundred knights.

In the March of the year (1227) triat Frederic was pledged to start for the East, Honorius III died, and the fierce and enthusiastic Cardinal Ugolino was elected in his place under the name of Gregory IX.

The struggle between Pope and Emperor, which had been so intermittent and courteous between Frederic and Honorius, now began in good earnest between Frederic and Gregory.

The tolerant Emperor had always admired the vast erudition, the rigid asceticism, the brilliant eloquence of Cardinal Ugolino, but Cardinal Ugolino had always detested the worldly, voluptuous and liberal Emperor, and his first act of Papal authority showed the leaping out of a long held spite against Frederic.

As he could say nothing on the question of the Crusade for which Frederic was preparing with all speed, the grim old man of eighty, soured by rigid monastic discipline, and without any of the softer human passions or the more lovable human failings, administered a sharp rebuke as to the private life of the young, splendid and virile Emperor.

Frederic received this reprimand about his "earthly lusts" with an indifference that appeared submission, his ironic smile gave the measure of his appreciation of the gloomy and ferocious old ascetic, and he continued his preparations for the long deferred Crusade which Gregory was already viewing with a hostile eye.

This Crusade was disastrous from the first, none of the monarchs of Europe offered any assistance whatever, and even Frederic's immediate vassals were reluctant; the Duke of Austria refused his support, and the Landgrave of Thuringia had to be heavily bribed; in truth, the expedition was unpopular with every one save the priests.

By August, however, the Germans were embarking at Brindisi for Acre in a heat so violent that the armour was melted on the knights' backs and brows; the Northerners, unused to such a torrid climate, succumbed by hundreds to fatigue and fever in the Southern port.

When Frederic arrived at Brindisi, he was himself ill; his delicate but vigorous body, his superb health had given way under unexampled strain and vexation; the journey under the blazing skies, over the dry roads of an Italian summer, the continual vexations, irritations and disappointments of his enterprise, had brought him to the verge of collapse; his doctors advised him to abandon the expedition till the autumn.

But Frederic decided to persist in his resolution, not from any desire to placate the new Pope, but because he was not easily to be turned aside from anything he had undertaken.

The Christian hosts were ravaged by sickness, several of the leaders were too stricken to leave Brindisi, but Frederic sailed. After a few days at sea he became so seriously ill that his galley was forced to return to Italy; the forty thousand Christians who had already reached Acre returned when they heard that the Emperor was not coming, and the long promised Crusade came to a disastrous conclusion.

Frederic, slowly recovering from his nervous fever at Naples, sent formal explanations of his failure to the Pope; but Gregory, against reason, prudence or justice, at once excommunicated the Emperor, with all the terrors of Book, Candle and Bell, and with all the zest of one who seizes a coveted opportunity to injure an enemy.

Gregory's ferocious action, followed as it was by a furious diatribe against Frederic, full of bitter invective and misrepresentation, addressed to the clergy, made an immediate and deadly breach between Empire and Papacy and brought into the conflict between these two powers the hideous element of personal hatred and jealousy.

If it must be admitted that the pretensions of the earlier Popes had much justification in the services the Church had rendered to civilization, then struggling from tribal to national status, in being a central authority and a powerful control, it cannot be conceded that Gregory in treating a man like Frederic as an enemy, and in endeavouring to crush a Prince so splendid, so popular and so enlightened, showed the least spark of statesmanship or foresightedness, of prudence or caution; his actions appear indeed to have been inspired by a jealous spite, a petty censoriousness and by that half-crazed arrogance too often characteristic of the occupants of the Chair of St. Peter and which seems to show that the claim of Divine Authority is too apt to turn the brain of a mortal man.

Frederic was probably expecting the eternal curses of the Pope and received them with his ironic and indifferent smile; he ordered the clergy in his dominions to ignore the excommunication (a command they obeyed) and answered the abusive manifesto of the Pope by another which he dispatched to all the monarchs of Europe.

In the letter he sent to the feeble son of the dastard John, Henry III of England, he made a dauntless and superb attack on the Power of Rome which showed him to be as bold as he was clear-sighted:

"Such is the way of Rome; under words as smooth as oil and honey lies the rapacious blood-sucker; the Church of Rome is like a leech...the whole world pays tribute to the avarice of Rome...the primitive Church, founded on poverty and simplicity, brought forth numberless Saints; she rested on no foundation but that laid down by Our Lord Jesus Christ; Rome is now rolling in Wealth...Remember that when your neighbour's wall is on fire, your own property is at stake."

Frederic followed this vigorous appeal to the rulers of Europe by prompt action against Gregory. He summoned the most powerful families of Rome to his Court, bought their estates from them at their own price, and returned them as fiefs; he was already so popular in his enemy's stronghold that the people broke into St. Peter's when Gregory was celebrating Mass, and showed themselves such warm Ghibellines that the Pope was compelled to flee to Perugia.

From this retreat the terrible old man hurled further fulminations at the Emperor, forbidding him to undertake the Crusade while under the curse of the Church, but Frederic continued his preparations and sailed from Otranto on 29th June, 1228, with a train of only a hundred knights, for his treasury was nearly empty and the Crusade as unpopular as ever in Europe.

In the spring of that year his girl Empress, Yolande, had died, leaving a son, Conrad, and Frederic considered himself heir to her crown of Jerusalem.

In September he arrived in Acre, leaving the world amazed at the courage with which he ignored the excommunication, affronted the Christian Church, and denied the infallibility of the Pope.

A large and motley force of Christians were assembled at Acre to welcome him, the Templars and Hospitallers, the Teutonic Order, founded by his grandfather, Barbarossa, and a fair number of Lombards, Germans, French and English.

Gregory, however, by furious spite blinded to the common good, sent two Minorite friars into the Emperor's Camp with the threat of excommunication against all those who dared to follow the Eagles; this split Frederic's forces in half, the Templars, Hospitallers and many others refusing to follow one cursed by the Church; his tact and popularity, however, brought these round to a reluctant submission, and the Teutonic knights, under the famous Hermann von Salza, remained unwaveringly loyal.

Frederic marched to Jaffa with this disunited force, and there displayed his genius by one of those actions with which he continually amazed, shocked and awed Europe.

He had long been on friendly terms with the leader of the Saracens, Sultan Kamel, and from Acre had sent him lavish offerings, a compliment returned by the gift of a camel and an elephant; emissaries went to and from the camps of these two philosophical Princes, exchanging mathematical problems and philosophical disquisitions; to the further scandal of the outraged fanatics who murmured in his train, Frederic received from Kamel a bevy of Eastern dancing girls who amused his brief leisure with their soft voices and languorous poses.

Feeling ran so high against Frederic that the Templars actually apprised the Sultan of a solitary expedition the Emperor proposed to take, to bathe in the waters of the Jordan, with the suggestion that this would be an excellent opportunity for the assassination of the excommunicated Crusader.

The Sultan, however, sent the traitors' letters to Frederic, who at the same time had intercepted one from the Pope to Kamel, urging the latter to have no dealings with the Emperor.

Thus hampered, weakened, affronted and threatened on every side, not able to count on the loyalty of any but his Teutonic knights, and at the end of his money, Frederic was obliged to lower the first demands he had made on behalf of Christendom and to accept the best terms he could wring from an opponent fully conscious of his difficulties.

That these terms were as good as they were was a high tribute to the genius of the harassed Emperor; by the nine articles of the Ten Years' Truce he signed, February, 1229, he obtained more than any Crusader had obtained since 1099 when Jerusalem was first captured; the Holy City was now returned to Christendom, and most of the articles were concessions from the Sultan to the Emperor.

This bloodless success of the sixth Crusade was entirely owing to the genius of Frederic; single-handed and in face of most exasperating difficulties he had achieved, by sheer force of character and intellect, more solid advantages for Christians than the flamboyant exploits of generations of Kings had been able to accomplish.

It is obvious that had he been supported by the Pope his success would have been overwhelming; such as it was it remained an amazing proof of his high qualities of statesmanship and the charm of his subtle personality which had a peculiar fascination for the Oriental mind; for the first time the Moslem met a cultured and tolerant Christian and also for the last, for though Louis IX was a courteous saint he was also a fanatic.

This treaty, so greatly to the advantage of the Syrian Christians, was received by the Papacy with a howl of fury, and Gerold the Patriarch of Jerusalem, the Papal Legate, was instructed to thwart and oppose Frederic in every way possible, while a Papal army marched into Apulia under Frederic's father-in-law, John de Brienne, and the Banner of the Keys was raised as a rallying point for all the malcontents of the Empire.

Frederic heard this news without surprise, nor did it send him hot haste home; he probably saw that a Christian Kingdom in Syria was a chimerical vision, and that the days of the Crusades were over, as indeed they proved to be, for, despite the impetuous piety of Louis IX, these wasteful invasions of the East only dragged on for another half century.

But Frederic wished to be crowned in Jerusalem, his own Kingdom, and hither he repaired, the fanatic Gerold at his heels, repeating the Ban on every available occasion and finally laying the Holy City itself under an Interdict during the accursed Emperor's presence there.

The superb Frederic, however, crowned himself with his own hands in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, surrounded by his loyal Teutonic knights, and during his short stay in Jerusalem showed himself not only tolerant but favourable towards the Saracens; he forbade a Christian priest to enter the Mosque of Omar, he ordered the Muezzin, silenced out of deference to him, to sound again, and when he saw the gratings over the windows of the Holy Chapel he remarked, with his serene irony:

"Ye may keep out the birds, but how shall ye keep out the swine?"

He proceeded, immediately after his last coronation, to Acre, where his conduct gave further cause for scandal to the faithful Papists; while he was amusing himself with Eastern culture and Eastern luxuries, he kept the odious Gerold prisoner in his own house, filled the churches with German archers, and caused rabid friars who had insulted him to be flogged.

Then, denouncing the mean and short-sighted treachery of Gerold and the Templars, the Emperor, still preserving his disdainful patience, dismissed the Crusaders and sailed from Acre, followed by the curses of the priests whose Faith he had come to uphold and whose Founder's Tomb he had restored to Christian care.

With the arrival of Frederic in Brindisi in June, 1230, the rebellion seething in his Kingdoms collapsed, town after town fell to his victorious onslaughts, and by end of the next month the confounded Pope, who had but few sympathizers in his own country and none in Europe, was compelled to sue for peace.

A treaty was signed at San Germano, a meeting took place at Agnani, the excommunicated Crusader was, perforce, received into the reluctant bosom of the chastised Church, and the bitter old Pope retired to brood over his supreme humiliation, while the victorious Emperor took up the task for which he was so eminently fitted, the peaceful governance of a great nation.

Frederic, in his thirty-fifth year, four times crowned, was at the climax of his magnificence, the triumphant ruler over wider dominions than any man was ever to unite under one standard again until the age of arbitrary rulers was long past; he governed in reality that vast realm which the latter Emperors, those shadowy Hapsburg Caesars, governed in pretence, and was in truth the Emperor of the West, a dignity claimed for centuries to come, but never effectively enforced nor mightily maintained.

Never again was the throne of Carolus Magnus to be occupied by one who filled it with such spacious dignity, never again was the confused heritage of the Caesars to be held together by a man of such superb genius and such grandeur of character.

Frederic remains not an Emperor, but the Emperor, the only Prince of a long succession of Princes who was able even slightly to justify the supreme arrogance of the claim of universal dominion.

The gloomy landscapes, dark cities, sombre skies and rude inhabitants of the North Frederic had never loved, and he now held his gorgeous Court in Sicily or Apulia among those soft scenes and in that delicious climate in which he had passed his youth.

While he remodelled the tangled confusion of the legal system of Southern Italy with the insight and vigour of a Justinian, founded the University of Naples, put down the heretic and the evil-doer with cold severity, encouraged learning, the arts and commerce with prodigal generosity, permitted a wide tolerance to the profession of all creeds, Frederic's genius found personal expression in the cultivation of science, poetry and architecture, in the formation of a society sparkling with a brighter lustre of culture than Europe was to see till the Renaissance, in the active delights of the chase and hawking, in the voluptuous delights of sumptuous relaxations of feasts and entertainments with his poets, his dancers, his acrobats and magicians.

There was no subject open to human knowledge or occurring to human curiosity that the mighty mind of the Emperor did not invade; no living man could compete with him in learning, his accomplishments, like his character, were beyond the comprehension if not the wonder of his times.

In philosophy, mathematics, languages, medicine and natural science, Frederic could confound the learned men even of the learned East, he was a soft and fluent poet, a speaker and writer of forcible eloquence, a great builder both of dark forts and airy villas.

Exquisite palaces of marble and alabaster, mosaic and sculpture adorned, rose above the flowers and groves of Sicily and Apulia, grimmer castles were erected in the disloyal North; Frederic's influence began to change the whole aspect of the age, to bring about a revival of law and order, of learning and the arts, of trade and prosperity, of ease and luxury, hitherto unguessed at by his contemporaries.

As he was "Lord of the Earth" so his Court was one of the marvels of the Earth and became the nucleus of progress and the seat of all achievements of intellect and all the allurements of beauty and grace. With his astrologers he peered into other worlds, with his troubadours, conjurors and wits he relished this world, with scholars he discussed the past and with magicians the future; galloping over the delicious plains of Apulia with his blindfolded hunting cheetahs riding beside him or with his bright glittering Emperor's hawk, the Golden Eagle, on his delicate wrist, from one hunting lodge to another (palaces of delicate pleasure, all of them), seated on his pearl-strewn throne in the Imperial purple, receiving embassies or guests with noble courtesy, wandering through his exotic menagerie where Eastern slaves tended animals monstrous and fantastic to the Western eye, the figure of Frederic was ever surrounded by a blaze of admiration even greater than his material glories.

His mighty power now seemed secure, and the Sicilian Caesar, in the prime of life with two sons to succeed him, might with confidence believe that he had reared an Empire as permanent as magnificent and one that would continue to increase in prosperity and enlightenment under the Hohenstaufen Dynasty. His spacious statesmanship had laid secure foundations for such a future; all his measures were prudent, wise, far seeing; he only made one mistake; he underestimated the influence and the hatred of that old, old man in Rome; he believed that he had broken the monstrous tyranny of the Popes which had become not the rule of Christ, but the rule of Lucifer; his own lofty and liberal mind failed to gauge the strength of the hold of crude and stupid superstitions on the rude peoples of the moment; surrounded by all that was enlightened and tolerant, imbibing the placid philosophies of the East, with a wide knowledge of the various creeds that have in turn dominated mankind, Frederic, in the free soft airs of Apulia, in all the brilliant freedom of his Court, could not estimate the evil power possessed by the Pope he had subdued but not conciliated, nor the black menace that lay in Gregory's brooding silence.

From his point of view the Pontiff had cause enough for a sense of bitter outrage; not only had the Emperor's new code summarily disposed of many clerical privileges and pretensions, not only had theology been replaced by the liberal sciences in the Curriculum of the University of Naples, but Frederic's whole existence was an example of what was, in Gregory's eyes, paganism or atheism.

Frederic was, in fact, using all his genius, his charm, his immense popularity and influence, in the support of free thought and the intellectual investigation of those manifold problems that the Church had regarded as her own exclusive province or banned as black magic; Gregory was not wrong, as latter ages were to show, in fearing that such a liberal mind as that of the great Emperor was fatal to the pretensions of the Papacy.

Nor did Frederic disguise his attitude; not only did he bestow his favours impartially on those of all creeds, but he openly made ironic comments on the dogma of the Christian Church.

Passing through a field of ripening corn he asked, with his satirical smile:

"How many gods will be made of that? How long will that mummery last?"

And he had been heard to argue that if the founders of religions, such as Jesus and Mahomet, were not impostors, their followers made them appear so; these tales and worse were brought to Gregory.

The Emperor's dearest friend and most trusted counsellor, Pietro da Vinea, was of like mind, and those others whose advice he sometimes sought, and to whose debates he earnestly listened, were of that wisdom that is shackled by no formulae nor creeds.

Frederic had built model farms, planted corn and vines on waste places, sent merchant ships to Egypt and Syria, instructed his people in peaceful arts, shown them an example of culture and elegance, protected and encouraged them on the long road from chaos to prosperity—but what was all this in the eyes of Gregory IX?

Frederic had founded no churches, raised no monasteries, poured no wealth into the lap of Mother Church, there was no bigoted priest among his counsellors, he paid but a light ironic lip service to the Christianity of which he was the secular head.

Nor was his private life modelled on the Christian ideal; on the score of licentiousness the Church could have had but little to say, since this was the favourite vice of her own clergy, and, if Gregory was himself an ascetic, this was due more to a frozen nature, a gloomy disposition and extreme old age, than any rigid standard of morals among the priesthood, and, had Frederic been a dutiful son of the Church, he might, like many a Christian monarch before and after him, have indulged unreproved, nay even approved, in any illicit or scandalous intrigue that pleased him; but his morals received some of the wrath aroused by his atheism.

Frederic was not vicious; he was far too fastidious, too cultured, too intellectual to find any attraction in coarse indulgences of the senses; though such a sumptuous provider of feasts himself, he was sparing in his food and most temperate in his drink, nor did his festivals and banquets ever degenerate into orgies and displays of mere licence and profligacy; had such been the case he could not have retained his immense hold on the minds of men, nor his own vast intellectual supremacy.

He kept a harem at Lucera, his Saracen city, guarded by black eunuchs, where dwelt jealously secluded Eastern and Western beauties, and since the death of his second Empress, he had installed in her place a Milanese lady, Bianca da Lancia, who, strictly enclosed in Oriental privacy and grandeur, might be regarded as his Sultana; there was neither vice nor immorality in this; Frederic was merely following a different and, it may be added, a more elegant custom than that employed by Western potentates whose crude amours were often coarse enough.

Nor was there any mischief in, nor rising out of, this Oriental system about which there was neither hypocrisy nor concealment. Frederic never interfered with the wives or daughters or mistresses of his subjects (such a common cause of disorder and tragedy in mediaeval Europe), nor did he bring his name into the odium and disgrace of any scandalous or devastating passion; he preserved always the strength and dignity of a man never influenced by women, though he set the example of an exceeding courtesy towards them, and many of his laws were in their favour.

For the rest it may be doubted whether feminine seductions occupied more of Frederic's attention than that of any other Prince of Southern temperament, Eastern training and unlimited opportunity for selfindulgence, and the exaggerated tales of his extreme licentiousness which have been so dwelt on really prove nothing but the distorted spite of his enemies.

Frederic saw no reason why he should follow the Christian ideal that Christians themselves found far too difficult to achieve, and, in choosing the customs of the East, could hardly suppose he was affronting the purity of a Church whose corruptions were so manifest and whose licence was so universal.

Frederic must have heard the denunciations of the clergy against his charming odalisques with more than his usual amused irony; the man who had abolished serfdom and been the first monarch to summon the third estate to his councils must have laughed indeed at the fierce importance given to his private relaxations which were adorned by all that was lovely and delicate.

It is said that St. Francis of Assisi visited the languorous Sicilian Court of Frederic; a strange meeting this, between the man who was the literal follower of Jesus of Nazareth and the man who opposed the monstrous worldly power usurped in that Gentle Name.

They must have gazed at each other with a deep curiosity, the dirty, sickly, ragged monk, the perfumed, exquisite and voluptuous Emperor, made delightful with every worldly device, charming with every grace of mind and body.

It is interesting to wonder if the omnipotent Prince saw in his wretched guest that mystic and holy light that was to make the name of Francis of Assisi reverenced by multitudes when that of Frederic Hohenstaufen would be forgotten save by the learned.

It is certain that he listened with courtesy to the sweet doctrines of the Mendicant monk, which were as in advance of the times as his own wide tolerance, and which were not so different from those he was familiar with from the withered lips of Eastern anchorites.

Renunciation, Abnegation, Poverty and Self-sacrifice, these virtues were impossible to the rich character, the active powerful mind of the Emperor, but he could respect their pale glory; there is little doubt but that the cult of St. Francis would have flourished unchecked in the Empire this tolerant King hoped to establish; and Frederic, watching the mean figure of the miserable monk, whose haggard face was transfigured by Divine tenderness, cross his alabaster halls and descend his gilded steps, pass his scarlet-clad Ethiopians and disappear under the plumy trees of his delicious gardens, must have felt as another ruler felt when faced with another such figure—"What is truth?"

The first hint of the dark doom that was to overwhelm for ever the brilliant promise of the Hohenstaufen Empire came from within Frederic's own family; his son Henry, installed as regent ruler of Germany, joined the Lombard League, in a rebellion against the Imperial authority which the Emperor had little difficulty in crushing; the feeble, ungrateful and profligate Henry, once pardoned in vain, was at last shut away a prisoner in one of the Apulian castles.

When this disorder was effectually repressed, Frederic, then in Germany, married for the third time, Isabella, sister of Henry III of England; the beautiful Angevin Princess delighted the fine taste of Frederic, but there were those who considered the marriage beneath him, England being, technically, a mere fief of the Empire.

Frederic followed the gorgeous ceremonial of his marriage by a resplendent Diet at Mainz, where even the son of the Guelf Emperor, Otto of Brunswick, a cousin of the Empress, swore submission to the Hohenstaufen.

This Diet was the most impressive manifestation of his glory Frederic had yet made; never again was any emperor to appear in such a dazzle of pomp, with such a blazing reputation, as the acknowledged head of so many nations.

This glittering display of armed might and farreaching power also contained the germ of that struggle which was to bring all the grandeur of the Hohenstaufen to the bloody dust.

Frederic resolved to chastise the miscreant and disloyal Duke of Austria and to punish the sullen disaffection of the great cities of Northern Italy.

At first the punitive expedition that Frederic led against the Guelf was of a flashing success that further increased his almost incredible fame and power; the great battle of Cortenuova was a carnage of his enemies; he rode like a Caesar indeed into Cremona, followed by his monstrous elephant dragging the Carroccio, the cherished symbol of Milan, on which the captured podesta was bound like a slave.

At Lodi he gathered together vassals and allies from all corners of the earth; there were reinforcements from Sultan Kamel, from Vataces, Emperor of the East, from France, Spain and Henry of England, whose sister the Empress was now the mother of Frederic's third son, the second Henry.

All the coffers of the world seemed open to pour their treasures at the feet of Frederic, all the men-atarms of East and West were eager to do homage to the lord of the world and to serve under the conquering eagles, there was no limit to Frederic's glory and might. Nor any limit to his revenge.

Milan sued for peace in vain, uselessly made the most humiliating concessions; Frederic was not to be deprived of his glut of vengeance against this ancient gadfly of his House; he had shown himself clement and just in peace, but in war terrible with the cold, ferocious cruelty of the Hohenstaufen; Eccelin da Romano, a man spoken of, even in those fierce days, as an incarnation of the Devil, was his trusted lieutenant, and he never checked the atrocities of his Saracen soldiers nor restrained the savagery of his Eastern allies.

Horror and darkness reigned in Lombardy, in Milan Cathedral the derided Crucifix was hung upside down by a people driven to a lust of despair.

The coming of the terrific Emperor with his hideous negroes, his grotesque beasts, his Eastern Magi, his troops of jewel-hung wantons, his escorts of blood drenched warriors had been like the opening of Hell's mouth belching forth demons on to the lovely plains of Lombardy.

The figure of Frederic Hohenstaufen himself, implacable, charming, superb, with his amazing learning, his Oriental customs, his still cruelty, his swift movements from town to town, his known atheism, seemed to the excited minds of the despairing rebels that of Lucifer, the fallen angel, more potent for evil than God was potent for good.

And many saw, in the elegant knight clad in the light armour, with the imposing Imperial Crown encircling the peacock plumed helmet that rested on the reddish hair, in the shaven face with the small nose and full lips, in the pale bright ironic eyes, the dreadful personification of Antichrist.

Five desperate cities still held out against the Imperial wrath; Frederic had made the first definite their own concessions nor the clemency of the Hohenstaufen, proceeded to defend herself with that fury of desperation that is so often successful.

Frederic and all his dreadful panoply of war was unable to take Brescia; after two months of bloody struggle he was obliged to raise the siege.

A conqueror's first check is dangerous to his fame; Lombardy saw that the Emperor was not invincible and redoubled her frantic and ferocious resistance; and, while the Guelfs were rallying in this brief breathing space, Frederic made another error, even more fatal to himself than that of his injudicious vengeance against the Lombards.

He married his natural son, the beautiful Enzio of the long gold locks, to Adelasia, widow of the King of Sardinia, and haughtily claimed the island, then a Papal fief, as lost territory of the Empire.

This was a definite challenge to the Pope, one that Gregory was quick to seize and that Frederic would have been wise not to make. The long contained, bitter hate of the old man in Rome had at last found occasion to break forth in hissing rage.

There is something gigantic and grand in the wrath with which the aged Pontiff, then nearly a hundred years old, met the arrogance of the loathed Prince, and once again hurled anathema against his mighty rival for universal power.

On Palm Sunday, 1239, Frederic Hohenstaufen was again excommunicated with all the dramatic ritual of the outraged Church.

The Emperor, holding sumptuous Court at Pavia, received the news with sardonic indifference; Europe was distracted by the various cartels and manifestos issued first by the Pope and then by the Emperor, in which each stated his case with glowing eloquence and selections from the lurid denunciations of the Apocalypse; Frederic's main accusation against Gregory was that of avarice; that of Gregory against Frederic, atheism.

In this warfare of polemics Frederic might have been considered the victor; the Princes of Europe were not to be roused against him. Louis IX declared himself his partisan, and England, when further squeezed to provide funds for the Papal coffers, declared roundly, "the greedy avarice of Rome has exhausted the English Church." Germany was wholeheartedly for Frederic, the Archbishop of Salzburg plainly named Gregory Antichrist and it seemed that the fulminations of the Pope would rebound against himself.

Doubtless at that moment it seemed to Frederic that he would be able to achieve the mighty purpose unfolded in his final proclamation to his Princes:

"I am no enemy of the priesthood; I honour the humblest priest, as a father, if he will keep out of secular affairs. The Pope cries out that I would root out Christianity with force and by the sword. Folly!—as if the Kingdom of God could be rooted out by force and the sword; it is by evil lusts, by avarice and rapacity, that it is weakened, polluted, corrupted...I will give back to the sheep their shepherd, to the people their bishop, to the world its spiritual father. I will tear the mask from the face of this wolfish tyrant, and force him to lay aside worldly affairs and earthly pomp and treat in the Holy footsteps of Christ."

The mighty old Pope was an adversary worthy of Frederic; he declared a Holy War against the Emperor and gave the Guelf faction in Lombardy the immense stimulus of his support; the enemies of the Hohenstaufens were permitted to consider themselves as Crusaders and to wear the Cross on their arms; Papal Legates everywhere animated the rebels, and Frederic's next campaign against Milan proved abortive; he could not take the great city that shortly before had offered in vain to burn her banners at his feet.

His son Enzio had, however, made a victorious progress in the March, and Frederic, turning towards the Papal dominions, entered the open gates of city after city which pulled down the standard of the Keys to raise that of the Eagles.

In the very streets of crowded Rome the volatile people shouted for Frederic the conqueror, and the Pope was in danger of being sacrificed on his own altars.

But the indomitable old man saved himself and his cause by an action of flamboyant courage; unarmed, in full glitter of holy vestments, surrounded by the sweet faces of little acolytes and the shrunken visages of ancient priests, Gregory IX tottered forth from the Laterano and proceeded on foot through the narrow streets of Rome close packed with a hostile populace yelling for Frederic Hohenstaufen the bright and mighty Caesar, the smiling and superb conqueror.

Before him were borne aloft the most sacred relics of the Holy City, the heads of St. Peter and St. Paul and a fragment of the True Cross.

The feeble old man staked everything on this magnificent gesture and won.

Rome, in a revulsion of feeling, was soon cringing at his feet, and Frederic lost all chance of a welcome in the Holy City.

A desultory warfare, confused and bitter, marked by treachery, cruelty and rapine on either side, now dragged on; Frederic showed a noble clemency to the heroic little garrison of Faenza and Benevento which stands out among the atrocious episodes of this ghastly struggle as worthy of record: Frederic was not often merciful.

In the midst of this unnatural war between the two heads of Christendom, Europe shuddered to hear that a million and a half ferocious Tartars were hurling themselves into Hungary, sweeping the Magyars before them; Gregory did not hesitate to accuse Frederic of inviting the Pagan hordes to devastate Europe.

The Emperor scorned a reply to this crazy malice and sent his sons, Enzio and Conrad, against the "opposing Devils" as he called them, and issued one of his grandiose summons "to every noble and renowned country lying under the Star of the West" to help defeat the barbarians whom "Satan himself has lured hither to die before the Victorious Eagles of Imperial Europe."

The response to his eloquent appeal was poor, and it was left to the chivalry of Germany to turn back the tide of Tartar invasion into the unknown regions of Asia whence they came.

Meanwhile the inexorable Pope, defeated on every hand, summoned a General Council of the Christian hierarchy with the avowed object of deposing Frederic.

The Emperor not only refused to submit to such a tribunal, but his allies, the Pisans, captured the Genoese fleet that was bearing the bulk of the Prelates to the Conclave; these priests, by Enzio's orders, were chained and cast into miserable prisons where, in wretchedness and disease, they had dismal leisure to repent their folly in obeying the Papal mandate.

Frederic now advanced on Rome and captured the town of Monteforte; this last loss was too much for even the iron-hearted Pope, still breathing fury against his enemy, his implacable spirit left his exhausted body in the hot summer of 1242; he had been dauntless to the last and shown a blaze of courage that would have been wholly admirable if it had not been inspired by a blaze of hate.

"He is dead," said Frederic serenely, "through whom Peace was banished from the Earth and Discord prospered."

But he had left heirs.

For two years Christendom was without a Pope, the internecine war flickered in Lombardy and Frederic retired to lovely Foggio, there to enjoy some of that sumptuous leisure in which he delighted, and of which he had known little of late.

Here his third Empress, Isabella of the "excelling beauty," died, and here he heard that his eldest son, Henry, had dashed his brains out in despair at the rigors of his Apulia prison.

"We are not the first nor the last," said Frederic with his smiling irony, now more hard and bitter, "to mourn an ungrateful son."

In June, 1243, Cardinal Sinibaldo Fiescho, of the great Genoese family, was elected Pope under the name of Innocent IV.

The new Pope, contending, avaricious, arrogant and malicious to a superlative degree, had no virtue unless the courage with which he maintained his odious pretensions be considered one.

His reign began with the exchange of cold courtesies between himself and the wary Frederic, but causes for disagreement immediately arose; at the instigation of the priests the Imperial garrison of Viterbo was murdered by the populace. Frederic hanged two Mendicant friars (the Franciscans and Dominicans were Papal agents and spies and perpetually employed in fomenting disturbances among the lower classes) and the long negotiations that followed were both irritating and futile.

Frederic wished for peace in which to attend to his own affairs, but Innocent did not desire any measure of concord, he beguiled and deceived the Emperor on every count, and followed his predecessor's policy of rousing Europe against Frederic and exhorting money from abroad to carry on his campaign against the Imperial power.

"May the Devil fly away with you!" cried the harassed Henry of England to one of the Legates who came demanding money for Rome, and the angry barons hustled the unpopular priest out of England; for all that Innocent did exhort vast sums from that country, almost to the point of draining dry what he called "our garden of delights, our inexhaustible well."

Meanwhile Frederic harried Lombardy and the Pope pronounced another of those Anathemas which had lost effect through too frequent repetition.

The next step was the Council of Lyons held in 1245, where Innocent by his own mouth, and Frederic by that of Thaddeus of Seussa, charged and countercharged each other with a high count of crimes.

In the end Innocent, dashing a lighted torch on the ground, formally deposed Frederic from his throne, crying in the gathering gloom of the convent, as the Cardinals' torches followed his into darkness:

"So be the glory and fortune of the Emperor extinguished upon earth!"

Frederic was at Turin when the news of this terrific malediction was brought to him; he rose from amidst his superb company and commanded his treasure chest to be brought to him.

When it was opened before him he took out the Imperial Crown and placed it himself on his head, crowning himself as he had crowned himself before, in Jerusalem, in the Pope's despite.

"The Pope has deprived me of my crown? Not one of my crowns but is here."

And then he added those words which are surely as superbly arrogant as any ever uttered by man, the utmost challenge of human pride to human pride:

"I hold my Crown of God alone, and neither the Pope nor the Devil, nor the Council, shall rend it from me. Does he, in his vulgar pride, think that he shall hurl me from the Imperial dignity; me, who am the Chief Prince of all the World, yea, who am without an equal?

"I am now released from all respect; I am set free from all ties of love and peace; no longer need I keep any measure with this man."

So spoke Frederic—"of God alone "; but who was Frederic's God?

He knew now that between himself and Innocent it was a fight for life, a struggle so fierce and ruthless that everything would be lost sight of but the lust of the death grips; every evil force, every vile passion, every cruelty, all manner of lies and treacheries, every aspect of hate was let loose, like a team of hellish monsters on Frederic and his dominions.

Only some humiliation like unto the humiliation of Henry at Canossa might have placated the Pope, and such a humiliation it was not in Frederic's nature to make.

He sent envoys to every Court of his fellow Kings, stating his case, as did Innocent; the Pope's denunciations were of ghastly fury. Frederic was a Beast, a Viper, his forehead was of Brass, his portion was Hell, he and his progeny were relegated to eternal damnation.

No foreign Prince was roused to interfere in the atrocious struggle convulsing Central Europe and Italy; every one shuddered away from the horror of the conflict between two such terrific and mighty powers.

While Frederic was grimly fighting in Lombardy, Innocent hatched a conspiracy against his life, which the Emperor discovered, punishing the culprits with hideous severity.

Innocent then cast about to find an Emperor to put in the place of the deposed Hohenstaufen; he set up Henry of Thuringia, and after his immediate death William of Holland, an ambitious stripling, who was crowned in Aix-la-Chapelle thirty-two years after Frederic had received there the crown of Carolus Magnus.

Frederic's son, Conrad, began to fall back in Germany, and among the appalling confusion of Italy the Eagles were beginning to falter and sink behind the myriad standards of the rebels.

A deep melancholy settled on Frederic as he hurled himself from city to city, from castle to castle; his task had become overwhelming; and he was no longer young.

At fifty years of age he had to face a titanic upheaval of his entire life work, to combat a ring of enemies so close and inexorable that he did not know where to strike first; every day brought news of some fresh defection, some new revolt, some more bitter insult from Pope or friar, some falling off of a faint friend, some pouncing of a malicious foe; he was stripped of all his intellectual pursuits in which he so delighted, his delicious repose, his beautiful courtly pleasures; no more for him the building of alabaster palaces by azure seas, the discussion of obtuse problems with silk clad sages on marble terraces, the writing of love sonnets or books on hawking, no more experiments into the mysteries of this world and otherworlds, no more sumptuous festivals, flower adorned, scented with cassia and myrrh, sweet with the songs of troubadours and warm Southern twilights; useless now magicians and wise men and troops of dancing girls and gauze shrouded odalisques behind gilded lattices, no time for this, for any of this, all that remained was war, replete with every circumstance of horror; everywhere was strife and desolation, the uprooting of beauty and peace and ease by bloody hands, the destruction of progress and art and commerce by spear and sword and fire; where Frederic had set fair kingdoms which had been the example of the world was now anarchy and plague and all abomination.

And at Lyons sat the monstrous Pope, glutted with blood, gorged with hate, satiated with gold, ringed round with superstitious terrors, drawing in treasure from all corners of the earth for this most dreadful war, finding allies in every evil passion known to man.

In face of this, the mightiest accumulation of forces ever ranged against a single human being, Frederic maintained his lofty pride, often scowling and bitter now but never downcast nor submissive; he never considered surrender nor cessation of the struggle, and he exerted every nerve to continue the unequal fight, the end of which he by now had foreseen.

Not only did there grin in his face the prospect of incessant and ruthless strife for the rest of his days, but the prospect of the ruin of the House of Hohenstaufen which he had hoped would lead the world through countless ages.

Looking round him on the seething ruin of anarchy to which his kingdoms were reduced, Frederic must have foreseen the extinction, not only of his power, but of his family, and tasted in anticipation the agony of that day in Naples when his grandson, the young Conradin, would pay on the scaffold the tribute of the last drop of Hohenstaufen blood to Hohenstaufen pride.

Yet, even with his eyes turned towards the gathering doom, Frederic maintained stoic fortitude; there remained closely by his side some friends of his youth, Thaddeus of Seussa, Pietro da Vinea and a woman, Bianca da Lancia, mother of the gallant Tancred; in the wane of her beauty and his fortune Frederic had married her, a tribute to her long affection, and perhaps an expression of a love outlasting passion, on his part; the marriage of the deposed, excommunicated Hohenstaufen was only partially recognized, but was both a dignity and a solace to the faithful woman and her noble son.

In May, 1247, Frederic, gathering all his power together, hurled himself across the Alps with something of the superb daring of his youth, and advanced on Lyons where his loathsome enemy was ensconced; Innocent screamed to France for succour, and Louis IX, who, for all his saintliness, was a childish slave of gross superstition, saw in the dreadful Pope only the Representative of God on Earth and offered the whole chivalry of France against Frederic.

This did not deter the Emperor from proceeding on his grim march to Lyons; but he was forced to abandon this bold and magnificent enterprise by the news of the fall of Parma, taken by the Papal forces through treachery and guile.

Whipped to fury the Emperor hastened back over the Alps and threw his still resplendent armies round Parma, a city in every way important to the Imperial cause.

With him were his two sons, King Enzio, Frederic of Antioch, and Eccelin da Romano, his dreadful lieutenant. By the end of the year Parma was so completely and artfully surrounded that relief seemed hopeless.

Frederic had also erected, for himself and his troops, a castle and city outside Parma which he called Vittoria, in haughty anticipation of his coming triumph, which was to be, he thought, another Cortenuova.

So sure appeared the fall of the beleaguered city that the Imperial troops became careless, and, on a February morning in 1248, Frederic left Vittoria for a hunting expedition on the plains of Lombardy, then temptingly sweet with the first airs of spring.

Immediately there was a sally from the South Gate of Parma which attracted the attention of the Imperialists; this was a feint; the Parmese made a magnificent and desperate onslaught on Vittoria, inspired by the despair born of famine and the prospect of the unspeakable fate awaiting them when the town fell.

Frederic, galloping over the lovely plains in his chaise, chanced to turn in the saddle and behold the horizon flaming red.

With horror in his heart the Emperor dashed back towards Vittoria; when he reached the Imperial fortress nothing was left of it but a roaring furnace and crashing towers; the Parmese, pouring out of the beleaguered city, had utterly overwhelmed the Emperor's troops; Thaddeus of Seussa had been torn to pieces, the very seals, sceptre and crown of Frederic had been seized, the Imperial diadem worn by a deformed dwarf in the lunatic and ribald triumph of the Parmese, the frantic exultations of the Guelfs.

Frederic was unable to force his way through the stream of fugitives; he and his personal retinue were swept back along the Cremona road with the flying hordes of his own defeated soldiery; dishevelled, exhausted, helpless the Emperor was hustled in the press.

The defeat was complete, the rout shameful, the humiliation bitter beyond all bitterness; Frederic entered Cremona amid the rabble of his overthrown armies and the insults of the population; never had his fortunes seemed so dark, never had he been so personally lowered in the eyes of mankind.

And his friend, Thaddeus of Seussa, was dead, hideously in the disgraceful medley; the Emperor had not too many friends.

Frederic rallied from this crushing blow with an energy of pride and a swiftness of fury that impelled the awestruck admiration of his enemies; he who had so long defied the maledictions of Rome, defended himself so skilfully against all the linked powers of this world and the next, began to be regarded as something more than human, either god or devil.

While some saw in the invincible Hohenstaufen a Messiah sent to overthrow the Antichrist of Rome, others beheld in him one of the monstrous beasts of the Revelation, come to reign in terror and horror upon earth; Frederic, again encamped on the smoking ruins of Vittoria, smiled bitterly beneath scowling brows at both aspects of his blazing fame and still presented his undiminished arrogance to his manifold foes.

Louis IX, on his way to the Crusades, interceded with the fell old Pope for Frederic, and begged that the Ban might be removed from the Emperor and he be allowed to join the French chivalry in the expedition to Palestine; but the plea of the saintly knight was in vain; Innocent replied by cursing all the descendants, friends and supporters of the "Great Dragon" to endless generations.

And now a blow was struck at the dauntless Caesar that seemed like a curse indeed; the story is obscure, but this much emerges from the half legendary tales, that Pietro da Vinea, the Emperor's dearest friend, raised by him from nothing, was brought, by who knows what foul and secret ways, to attempt his master's life, by poisoning the very cup he handed him in amity.

Frederic had with utmost bitterness discovered the plot, and Pietro da Vinea and his accomplices—all instruments of Innocent—were punished in circumstances of incredible horror. The Emperor showed more emotion over this treachery than he had ever been seen to display before, the clear ironic eyes were at last dimmed by tears, the superb head bent in unappeasable woe; and his grief was swiftly followed by one yet more agonizing, his beloved son, King Enzio, the beautiful, accomplished darling of his heart, was captured by the Papal forces and held prisoner in Bologna, the Pope's own city.

Frederic frantically offered to fill the city's moats with gold, but all ransom was refused; for twentythree years Enzio was to groan in captivity until, long after his father's death, his own came to quench his withering hopes.

First, Parma, the death of Thaddeus, then Pietro da Vinea's Judas act, then the capture of his most dear son; the heart of Frederic shrunk in his breast, a slow languor crept over his limbs, grey, like handfuls of ashes, showed in the Hohenstaufen red of his locks, his shaven cheek was haggard, his hawk-like eye dim, some malady seemed to be consuming him, he had to endure hours of pain, nights of wakefulness, days of weakness, the intense pain of lonely desolation.

He kept a cold, scornful face to his enemies—he launched out on them with ruthless cruelty, blood and fire, rapine and torment were his weapons also; every terror the mind of man could devise he sent out against the swarming friars, the Papal mercenaries, the rebels and the traitors who stalked his lands, and with such ferocious grandeur did he maintain his cause that Europe veered to his side in the monstrous quarrel, and the power and prestige of Innocent began to decline, even with the strength of the Emperor.

Frederic had aided King Louis in Palestine even in the midst of his own disasters, while the Pope spent the money scraped together by Christendom for the Crusades, in his frantic campaigns against Frederic, therefore when the French were miserably defeated in Egypt the blame fell, justly enough, on the violent and implacable Pope; the two brothers of Louis IX came from Acre and menaced Innocent with the whole might of France if he did not make peace with Frederic.

The Emperor had been victorious in Lombardy; Germany and Sicily stood firm to his cause; in France he had a new ally; England was warmer towards him than towards Innocent, whose bloodthirsty hostility had alienated most nations. It seemed as if, even yet, the Hohenstaufen might again climb to that haughty height from which the shadow of his spectre would lie across the world.

But the tremendous fight was over; the Emperor was a dying man.

Every day he felt his strength slipping from him, every day he felt a deeper indifference towards material things, every day he brooded more hopelessly over Pietro, Thaddeus, Enzio, and his life work swept away. The virulent hate of arrogant old men had destroyed the fruits of his genius, rendered his great gifts useless, reduced to a wilderness of confusion and misery and discord those dominions he had so fondly cherished and so wisely governed.

Flung aside and trampled down were all his plans for progress, for enlightenment, for culture and civilization, for a universal tolerance and peace.

Nothing remained; the insane furies of the Popes had set Europe back for hundreds of years, and all Frederic's works were to be but tales of wonder.

But the Emperor did not falter in his pride nor bend from his purpose. Amid the darkness and chaos gathering round him came his serene challenge:

"Before this generation and the generation to come, I will have the glory of resisting this tyranny."

Travelling to Lucera, his Saracen city where was his lovely palace, the dear scene of his hours of solace, the fainting Emperor called a halt in which to die.

The Imperial train stopped at Fiorentino; it was December, the one sharp month of Sicilian winter, and the clouds hung dark over Etna and over the sea as the Emperor was carried by his Saracen soldiers to his death chamber.

He made his will, leaving the Empire of the world to his sons in turn, Conrad, Henry, Manfred. This last, the noble knight, the elegant scholar, the wise statesman, Bianca da Lancia's son, was with him now, heavy with grief and the presentiment of doom. And with him also was Berard, the Archbishop of Palermo, who had been with him thirty-eight years before in the triumph of that first daring crossing of the Alps in all the surpassing pride of youth.

The languor of death evoked no complaint from Frederic Hohenstaufen, he displayed none of the grovelling terrors the last excommunicate Emperor, Otto of Brunswick, showed in his last moments, but he acceded to the prayer of the old priest who had been so loyal to him and received from these ancient, faithful lips the Absolution of the Church which had hounded him to death.

For the last time the ironic light flashed in the grey eyes, the ironic smile on the sensual mouth, and Frederic, pressing the hand of the weeping Manfred, turned his calm face to the wall, and, on a brief sigh, died.

It was the thirteenth day of December, 1250, less than a fortnight from the anniversary of his birth; he had lived his grand, terrible and beautiful life for nearly fifty-six years of unsurpassable splendour, and was buried in what had been his earliest robe, the dark Imperial purple, fitting symbol of his inviolate and justified pride.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

HENRY HART MILMAN, History of Latin Christianity, Vols. V and VI, London, 1883. James Bryce, The Holy Roman Empire, London, 1904. LIONEL ALLSHORN, Stupor Mundi, London, 1912. Freeman, Historical Essays (First Series), London, var. ed. The Chronicles of Matthew Paris, var. ed. G. BLONDEL, Politique de Frédéric II, 1892. N. FESTA, Le Lettere greche di Federici II, 1894. J. FICKER, Über d. Datirung u. Urkunden des Kaisers Friedrich v. Hohenstaufen, 1871. M. FREHER, Germ. rerum scriptores, 1717. C. HAMPE, Kaiser Friedrich II, 1899. J. L. A. HUILLARD-BRÉHOLLES, Hist. diplomat. Frederici Secundi, sive constit., 1852-61. F. W. SCHIRRMACHER, Friedrich II, 1859-65. E. WINKELMANN, Friedrich II, 1897.



LOUIS II D'ORLÉANS (1462-1515)

KING OF FRANCE (LOUIS XII)

Illustration

Louis XII Of France, Louis II d'Orléans (1462-1515)



"Plus que le marbre dur me plaît l'ardoise fine
Plus mon Loire gaulois que le Tibre Latin."

—J. Du Bellay.

*

"Petit de corps mais de cur tout rempli!
Trois passe temps parfait a eu Louis douzième
Triboulet et Chailly, et je fus le troisième."

—Epitaph on Muguet, a falcon belonging to Louis XII.



HE was born while the sounds of rejoicing, of laughter and of singing filled the full summer round the noble Château of Blois; his father, an old man, was a grandson of a King of France, his mother a Princess of Clèves, the third wife of Charles d'Orléans; a gay, elegant and cultured lady, she gracefully adorned the luxurious Court that her husband held on his paternal estates at the end of his stormy and unfortunate life.

This son of France was named Louis and was carried to the font by a Queen, Marguerite d'Anjou, and held there by a King, Louis de Valois, while the whole country of the Blesois kept gala because the renowned House of Orléans had at last an heir; it was amusing, too, every one thought, that the aged Prince, now poet and philosopher, once fierce warrior and stormy politician, should, after all his vicissitudes, at last have a son; the boy was lusty and beautiful and seemed an augury of felicity and peace after the trouble and tempest of the Hundred Years' War.

Only the King was sullen; Louis XI had no generous feelings towards even such a charming event as this; the Duke of Orléans stood too near the throne for it to be desirable that his line should be continued; the King saw ill omens in the natural actions of the baby he held in his arms and in a stumble over his spur, and left Blois in a temper, cynically remarking on the peculiar chance that had made so old a man father of so fine a child.

The infant was indeed of a descent so splendid as to be perilous, the glitter of his ancestry was, even long after his death, to bring disaster on France in involved wars and desperate policies.

His grandfather, Louis I d'Orléans, that magnificent cavalier most foully murdered in 1407 by the partisans of Jean Sans Peur of Burgundy, his cousin, was married to Valentina, heiress of the grandiose House of Visconti which had risen to rule the whole of North Italy, and his great-grandfather was Charles V, direct descendant of St. Louis.

At the bridge of Montereau Charles d'Orléans had avenged his father and left the Duke of Burgundy dead amid his followers; so did these scions of the Royal House of France continually despoil each other of their chiefs.

Caught into the turmoil of the Hundred Years' War, Charles d'Orléans had tasted every bitterness of defeat and exile, penury and humiliation; the greater part of his life he had withered in the Tower of London, wearying to arrange a ransom for himself and his brother Jean, Comte d'Angoulême, also a captive.

When at last he returned to France he was worn out in body, resigned in spirit, and philosophic in mind; he established himself in Blois and indulged his passionate taste for beauty, for books, for learning, took a pretty young wife and tried to pass the end of his life in peace and pleasure; the feudal period was over, Louis XI had ended the internecine wars of the great nobles with a firm hand and was coldly consolidating France into a Kingdom; Charles d'Orléans razed the warlike ramparts of Blois and laid out terraces for pleasant walks on the site of the formidable towers built on foundations of the time of Carolus Magnus by Robert Le Fort and his son, Eudes.

Two little Princesses already occupied the nurseries of Blois when Louis was born, and these pretty children added to the delights of the calm life that the old Duke was at last enjoying, surrounded by his poets, his learned men, his household, and occupied in tending his library and his garden and in writing the delicious verses that were like little fragrant, precise bouquets of spring flowers.

The world that Louis saw about him as he grew up was sweet and pleasant; after his sorrows and fatigues the good old Duke relished calm and piety; so also the world, after wars so tedious and dreadful, seemed to be delighting in calm and piety; beauty budded timidly from the ruins wrought by relentless struggles of power with power; men began to plant gardens, to paint pictures, to write tender verse, to erect airy pinnacles instead of squat, gloomy towers; everything had an air of the springtime.

The golden breezes of Touraine wafted lightly round the terraces of Blois, where the little Louis d'Orléans watched his father idling in the new parterres where fresh flowers were springing, bright daisies, close curled roses, bluebells, forget-me-nots and little lilies; the golden river of Touraine flowed past with barges and boats:

"En tirant d'Orléans à Blois
L'Autre jour par eaue venoye
Si rencontray, par plusieurs foiz
Vaisseaulx, ainsi que je passoye,
Qui singloient leur droicte voye
Et aloient legierement
Pource qu'eurent, comme veoye
A plaisir et à gré le vent."

So had written Charles d'Orléans when he had first returned to Blois from his exile, thinking how his life, like the boats on the Loire, had been at "the will and pleasure of the wind "; now he had become humble in his tranquillity; every Friday thirteen beggars were entertained at Blois and, before they left, the Duke meekly washed their feet.

Besides works of piety, labours in the new gardens, on the old fortifications, and meditations on the sweet banks of the Loire, Charles had his library, which held his dearest treasures.

His father, Louis I d'Orléans, had collected books, but more from delight in their sumptuous covers of precious metals and cunningly devised jewels than from any interest in their contents, but Charles even in the days of his greatest misery had loved literature; while he aged vainly in the Tower of London his one consolation had been parcels of books; these now rested in the library at Blois, and Charles would repair there with his court of poets and show his baby son these marvels wrought by the spirit and hand of man, in these volumes of vellum, of leather, of silver and velvet.

This library, which now nourished a whole academy of the liberal arts, had begun with five tomes bequeathed by Charles V to his youngest son, the superb Louis; two Bibles, a Missal, Le Gouvernement des Rois, and Les Voyages du Vénitien Marco Polo, all exquisitely written on vellum; Louis, light and gay as he had been, cared for letters enough to add to these Le Miroir Historial, written especially for him, Le Dit Royal, bought from Jean Froissart, Les Chroniques de la France, two romances, La Rose and Lancelot, the Works of Aristotle, the fables of Aesop, the Livre du del et du Monde, the Cité de Dieu, the Livre d'Échecs, and some classics, Suetonius, Livy, Lucian and Boëthius; to this nucleus Valentina Visconti had added some pious and historic works brought from Italy; her son Charles had now installed at Blois the bulk of the library formed by his grandfather Charles V, at the Louvre and taken by the English Regent, Bedford, to London.

Thus the old Duke possessed one of the finest libraries in Europe, and from these beautiful volumes, so lovingly and carefully written by hand, so finely painted with ingenious designs of men, angels, beasts and flowers, so magnificently bound with all the art of the goldsmith, flowed the lively and gentle light of knowledge over the prince, scholars, poets, troubadours who composed the Court at Blois in the exquisite, airy land of Touraine. Thus in a springtime of learning, of gardens, to the sound of sweet verse and tender singing, in the sight of birds and dogs and children playing together, under the care of a soft and loving mother the little Louis grew into a gay and handsome child.

When he was two years old, Louis XI betrothed him to his daughter Jeanne, then a sickly baby, in the hope of consolidating the Royal family; soon after the sombre King treated the old Duc d'Orléans with such insolence before the assembled Princes and Peers of France at Tours, when a convocation was called to decide on the conduct of the Duke of Brittany, that Charles left the assembly in disorder, fell ill on his way home, and died at Amboise, 4th January 1465.

He left the reputation of a lofty, sweet, bold and energetic nature, wise and brave; Octavien Saint Gelais, the old chronicler, says of him, "il était merveilleuse beau et de belle taille "; in his long misfortunes he had shown fortitude, in his brief prosperity, generosity and liberality; his château was "le séjour d'honneur."

His epitaph says of him:

"Car il était Prince et patron d'honneur
Sage, vaillant, féal, large donneur."

In this verse also run his titles of earthly pomp:

"Due d'Orléans, Charles avait-il nom
Due de Milan, Due de Valois jadis
D'autres titels lesquels je n'ai pas diets:
Comte de Blois, de Beaumont, de Pavie,
Et Seigneur d'Ast, de Couci en sa vie."

To such virtues and qualities, to such domains and honours had Louis II d'Orléans succeeded at the age of two and a half years when he was already betrothed to a King's daughter and stood in the near succession to the throne.

The widowed Duchess, Marie de Clèves, lived retired at Blois and anxiously devoted herself to the education of her son; Louis was of a gay and sweet disposition, bright, handsome and quick-witted; as he grew up he savoured to the full that bright new world, avid for beauty and pleasure, that springtime of thought and endeavour which his father has likened to the first season of the year, to a beautiful wrought garment, in his delicious lines, fresh as mountain water, lively and clear:

"Le temps a laissié son manteau
De Vent, de Froidure et de Pluye
Et s'est vestu de bourderie
De Souleil luysant, cler et beau;
Il n'y a beste ne oyseau
Qu'en son jargon ne chante ou crie:
Le temps a laissié son manteau
De Vent, de Froidure et de Pluye."

Charles had written this in the hateful solitude of the English prison where perhaps he had seen the daisies opening on Tower green and watched the sparkles of light on the Thames flowing to the sea; how much more ardently must this joy of life have stirred in the veins of his young son as he stood on the steps of his royal demesne and looked on the exquisite expanse of the valleys of Touraine, gold melting into silver, silver into azure:

"Rivière, fontaine et ruisseau
Portent, en livree joli
Goutes d'argent d'orfaverie,
Chacun s'abille de nouveau;
Le temps a laissiè son manteau
De Vent, de Froidure et de Pluye."

The learned and gracious Court of Blois educated Louis d'Orléans in all "things virtuous and honest"; at the age of six he began to learn his letters from the famous library, and, under Guillaume Piot, his tutor, to attain proficiency in all knightly exercises; by the time he was sixteen the tall and slender youth was considered the best wrestler, jumper and tennis player in the kingdom; he was also remarkable for his management of a horse, as an archer and man-at-arms, and with all these accomplishments he had preserved an unspoiled sweetness, kindness and justness of disposition that made him greatly beloved; he made himself most gracious and benign to all, and it was noted that his fine delicacy was most careful to avoid any offence to the humble and mean; the poorest of his Court were singled out for his smiles and favours.

The shrewd and wily Louis XI kept a bilious eye on this attractive young Prince who was so well equipped to win all hearts; the birth of the Dauphin (1471) had removed Louis from the immediate vicinity of the throne, but the King's son was frail, deformed and sickly; in every way incapable of furthering his father's lofty and difficult politics; nor was Louis d'Orléans without ambition; he was known to dwell with pride on his ancestry, to hark back even to those titles of Milan, of Pavia, to dream of reviving claims to the heritage of Valentina Visconti; he was known also bitterly to resent the marriage forced on him in his infancy by Louis XI, for Jeanne de France had grown up like her brother, deformed, sickly and hideous. The improbability of her ever having children was another reason for the young Louis to violently resent the marriage and for the King to insist upon it; to extinguish the legitimate line of Orléans would have been greatly to the taste of Louis XI.

The King used the base means too often employed by those in power to destroy youthful rivals; he endeavoured to corrupt and debauch the young Duke of Orléans, to turn the attention of this charming cavalier, so skilful at the joust, so victorious in the tilt-yard, so noble in his harness, and so graceful in his silken robe, entirely towards pleasure; denying him any employment in the kingdom, he kept him in that luxurious idleness most deadly to the noble ardours of youth.

Marie de Clèves could do little to resist this influence; she was too gentle, too easy, too occupied in her splendid household of Blois; Louis, who had grown up so joyously, so care-free, exulting in his health and youth and prospects, gradually found himself checked, chilled, thwarted by the skilful management of the extraordinary man who sat on the throne of France.

Though by no means lacking in ability, he had not the strength (few indeed have displayed it) to resist his environment; he gave himself up to easy pleasure, to futile amusement, and, though he feared the influence of women, to petty and secret love affairs.

Louis II d'Orléans feared and hated the King as the King feared and hated him, and the question of the marriage rankled between them with bitter and corroding fury. Louis XI was resolved to force his daughter, whose deformity caused him secret rage, on the young Prince, and Louis had not the power nor the courage openly to refuse the hand of Jeanne de France.

Yet he resented this union with a passionate bitterness seldom displayed by the partner in a political marriage; it seemed to blight his youth, even to sour his character, to drive him into despairing follies, to sap his ambitions and warp his good qualities.

The unfortunate young man had conceived for his bride a nervous aversion amounting to horror; even his dread of the awful King could hardly force him to control his shudders of dislike of the King's daughter, a dislike soon amounting to loathing.

There are many hideous deeds put to the account of Louis XI, and many more no doubt he did in secret so that they cannot be judged by any tribunal, but never did he commit a crime of more refined and exquisite cruelty than this marriage of Louis d'Orléans and Jeanne de France.

The unhappy Princess had been kept in enclosed retirement in the fortress of Linieres in Berry; her father had not seen her and had even affected to forget her existence, when in 1473 he came to Blois to demand of Marie de Clèves the consummation of the marriage pact.

The terrible King was in ill odour with every one at this moment, "encircled with hate "; he was suspected of the murder of his brother, and of that of Nicholas de Calabria; he was known to be guilty of the massacre of Lectoure; Ferdinand of Naples had refused the hand of his elder daughter, Anne; Louis built a fortress at Amboise and lived there, detested by and detesting every one.

The Duchesse d'Orléans was half ruined; ill management, the King's exactments had miserably reduced the treasure her husband had been able to amass in those last few years of prosperity; she was in no condition to resist Louis XI, but she protested, bitterly, passionately, and in vain. The King threatened, in case of her obstinate refusal, to cast her beautiful son into a monastery and so extinguish the line of Orléans in the shadow of the Church.

Marie endeavoured to exchange Jeanne, of whom the most distressing reports were current, for Anne, who, oddly enough for such a family, was well made, lively and even handsome, but Louis XI refused.

Marie had a scene of "the last violence" with Blanchefort, the King's agent; still in vain, every one was against her and terrified of Louis XI; all the great nobles implored her to consent to the atrocious bargain.

The marriage was, then, confirmed by King and Duchess, the unfortunate Marie de Clèves being immediately further humiliated by the marriage of Anne, elder daughter of the King, with Pierre de Bourbon, Sieur de Beaujeu, formerly affianced to her own daughter.

Meanwhile the young Louis d'Orléans protested furiously and desperately accused his mother of feebleness, but Louis XI remained triumphant and so the prologue to this tragic marriage closed.

In 1575 Marie de Clèves saw for the first time her daughter-in-law; as she entered the poor creature's chamber at Linieres, the Duchess saw her worst fears realized and nearly fainted; at the same period Louis XI had the curiosity to wish to behold his younger daughter; she was brought to Plessis-les-Tours by the Sire de Linieres, her guardian, and the King glimpsed her from the glass windows of a gallery as she traversed the courtyard, crossed himself, and exclaimed: "I would not have believed that she was so hideous!"

Louis d'Orléans was dragged to Linieres and forced to spend some days under the same roof as his wife; it was found almost impossible to get him there again; any suggestions of this nature were the signals for a violent altercation with his tutors and a passionate threat to throw himself into the river.

Marie de Clèves, weeping, told her son, "I would rather lose everything, to my chemise, than consent to such a marriage," but, at the same time, implored him to submit, for the King's archers were already filling Blois, and the household of the young Duke was being changed for creatures of the King; the friends and servants of the House of Orléans were dispersed, and mother and son were virtually prisoners of the Crown and completely constrained by force; the final nuptials of the cousins took place in August 1476 when the marriage contract was signed for the third time.

In September of that year the religious ceremony took place in the Château of Montrichard, Louis declaring even to the Bishop of Orléans who read the marriage service, that he was forced ("Il m'est force et n'y a remède"); neither the King nor the Duchess was present, the Bishop hurried away, ashamed of his work, and during the blessing the bridegroom sobbed.

All this indicates a frightful picture of Jeanne de France; she must have been of some hideous deformity and ghastly aspect, to excite this universal dismay, the proper "ugly princess" of a fairy tale; lame, hunchedback, frail and sickly, tormented by disease, the wretched little Princess was under no illusion as to her value to mankind and wished to devote her despised person to God; from her infancy she had been eager to take the veil; now, when bidden to smile on her sullen husband, who sat with his back to her at the wedding feast, she replied humbly: "It is easy to see that he takes no account of me."

Indeed, in this stunted, blighted bud of a withered degenerate stock glowed a grand and pure soul. Jeanne de France was as near a saint as a woman may be, and as tortured as few saints have been tortured.

Her father cynically withheld most of her dowry, declaring brutally that her lack of beauty made her worth less than the usual portion of a fille de France, and Jeanne lived miserably at Linieres in a humiliating poverty; Louis contributed nothing to her establishment, he was in continual financial difficulties himself and as he grew to manhood, more and more extravagant, gambling en grand seigneur without counting the cost, going from one transitory love affair to another, spending his time in pleasure and knightly displays; as he remained gay, sweet and gallant he was easily the most popular person in France, and his marriage was regarded as an outrage even by the common people.

So strong was this general feeling that Louis XI, always cautious, was forced to take notice of it; he arranged a public meeting with Jeanne and openly declared himself amazed at her appearance, even going so far as to blame Linieres for not apprising him of it before, a duplicity that can have deceived few who knew the King.

Despite this, Louis XI, as the Duc d'Orléans passed out of his childhood, made every effort to make the marriage in name a marriage in fact; every gross and cunning device was exhausted to induce Louis to visit Linieres and receive Jeanne as his wife; but in vain. Louis never passed half an hour alone with the unfortunate Princess, nor touched more than the tips of her fingers when he was forced to conduct her from one apartment to another.

A man's physical repugnance for a woman is a terrible thing and Louis savoured it to the full; the continual pressure of threats and persuasions brought to bear on him to force him on to Jeanne, the constant humiliation and disgrace of this grotesque marriage, soured his youth and embittered his character; if one even mentioned the name "Jeanne" in the midst of his pleasures, his gaiety would vanish and he would turn pale; perpetually he wished he was dead, or could change his wife for the meanest wench in the kingdom; many Princes have endured State marriage with the sickly and the deformed with philosophy, but Louis d'Orléans, sensitive, proud, ardent, found nothing to console him; the whole affair no doubt gave him a severe nervous shock from which he did not for years recover.

And Jeanne meekly accepted her destiny, she offered her gold brocade wedding gown as an altar cloth and continued to reside miserably at Linieres, a life of nun-like solitude, only broken by the constrained visits of Louis d'Orléans when the King's emissaries forced him into her presence, and priests and doctors, courtiers and chamber women alike urged him to show some kindness to his wife.

But Louis d'Orléans, like Sir Gavaine with the loathly lady, always turned away sick and shuddering; not even the frightened entreaties of his mother nor those of his friends, terrified of the fell King, could overcome his deep repulsion to his bride.

Jeanne endured this atrocious position with fortitude; she had need of all her courage, for she had naturally fallen in love with the beautiful and charming Prince who so easily commanded love from even the fairest women. "I am not a fit wife for such as he," she said, and no word of complaint either against her father or her husband escaped her lips; her resignation and humility under her misfortunes touched the hearts of all who approached her, save the heart of Louis d'Orléans.

It is curious that he, so chivalrous, gentle and just, so tender towards the miserable and humble, so eager to please and so quick to pity, should not have felt some compassion towards Jeanne de France who had been thrust on him through no desire of hers, and whose fate was so gloomy and dreadful.

But his whole conduct towards his miserable wife was marked by a brutality, even a cruelty that seems out of accord with his character.

While this mock marriage dragged on and Jeanne eased her sorrows in prayer and Louis tried to forget his in pleasure, the dreaded King died.

Grovelling in frantic terror before the gods of his own creation, showing abject fear of death and no repentance for his crimes, Louis XI died at Plessis-les-Tours in gloom and solitude in the summer of 1483.

He had rendered great services to France, and his dying proclamation was a model of patriotism, wisdom and grandeur of soul; but he had never been able to realize his great projects of a unified France, nor of a system of weights, measures, laws, money—in short, the firm foundations of a great kingdom.

He had, however, left France fortified and enlarged; he had arranged a marriage with Marguerite of Austria, daughter of Maximilian, King of the Romans, that secured the heritage of her grandfather, Charles the Bold, for France, and he had died in the midst of a struggle to secure that province, even mightier than Burgundy or Artois, Brittany, for the Crown of the Valois.

In all this, in keeping a general peace abroad, in lowering the pretensions of the great feudal nobles and in much of his general policy, Louis XI had shown himself a great King; he, however, left his country ravaged with the plague, the Treasury with a large deficit, peace maintained by ruinous pensions to foreign powers (Switzerland and England), the land overrun with ill-paid mercenaries and numerous powerful nobles waiting for his death to be revenged on his reign. At the head of these Louis d'Orléans instantly placed himself; he was now twenty-one years old, the first Prince of the Blood and heir apparent to the Throne.

He claimed the guardianship of the young King Charles, who was thirteen years old and nearly as sickly and deformed as his sister, Jeanne; this trust had been left to Anne de France and her husband, Pierre de Bourbon, Sieur de Beaujeu.

All three children of Louis had some intellect and grandeur of soul, and in Anne, the child of his youth, these were remarkably developed; at twenty-three Anne de France was wise, prudent, clever and serene; her appearance was handsome and impressive, her manners noble, her learning considerable, and her character above even the scandals of a Court; she had accepted with dignity and philosophy her marriage to a man thirty-two years older than herself, and acted in strict unison with her astute and able husband; haughty and severe, she was yet charitable and generous, and had devoted herself scrupulously to her duties which now included the Regency of the kingdom and the education of the future Queen, Marguerite of Austria, who had been at the French Court since she was three years old.

Against this lady Louis d'Orléans pitted his impetuous ambitions; all the fiery youth of the aristocracy supported his pretensions, the Comte d'Angoulême, his cousin german, Jean de Foix, Vicomte de Narbonne, who had married his sister, the Duc d'Alençon, the famous knight, Dunois, son of the grand bâtard d'Orléans, and most important of all, François II, Duke of Brittany, the friend of Harry of Richmond, who had lived at his Court since 1471.

Anne de Beaujeu was ready for this incipient revolt; when Louis tried to seize the Château of Amboise he found it already occupied by the Duc de Bourbon, Anne's brother-in-law, and was forced to take a lodging in the town; Dunois, married to a sister of the Queen (Charlotte of Savoy), endeavoured to make peace between the two factions, and Louis outwitted, with his forces ill organized, and hampered by his light and volatile temperament, found himself in the foolish position of accepting the suave hospitality of Anne at Amboise.

He was no match for the Regent and her party; affecting to know nothing of his projected rebellion, nor of his known desire for an annulment of his marriage, Anne de Beaujeu gave the young Duke a gracious welcome and overwhelmed him with favours, making him her guest—and virtually her prisoner—at Amboise.

Anne had already generously provided for her unfortunate sister, still languishing at Linieres, and now Jeanne's husband was in her power she demanded of him, with all possible tact, an establishment for the Duchesse d'Orléans worthy of her rank.

Louis sternly refused.

Anne said nothing more; but immediately afterwards Jeanne arrived at Amboise.

When Louis heard of this he broke into violent despair; he was, however, surrounded by his enemies, he dare not break openly with the Court, and Jeanne was the favourite child of the Queen, who, released from the long retirement to which her husband had subjected her, had now some influence and power; Dunois implored him to avoid an open rupture and scandal, and Louis forced himself to go out under the haughty gaze of Anne de Beaujeu and meet his wife.

The sight of Jeanne, however, was more than the unhappy young man could endure; his look was so ghastly that a fit was feared, and Madame de Beaujeu was obliged to escort her sister to a chamber in the Donjon, away from the apartments of her husband.

She did not, however, relinquish her purpose, and proved herself as inflexible as her father had been; overwhelmed by the menaces of his enemies and the entreaties of his friends, Louis at last entered the chamber of his wife, which he shared for several days, sleeping on the floor in the corner of the room, while the poor dwarf prayed alone in the high rich bed of velvet, satin and vair.

Anne, triumphant, proceeded to hold sumptuous feasts and every variety of intricate tourneys at Amboise, with the design of both pleasing and distracting the malcontents; Louis, fiercely fretting to escape, but too terrified to make the attempt, threw himself into these diversions with a fury of energy, and took a bitter pleasure in displaying his famous powers in the lists, and in showing that, if outmatched in wits, he was supreme in action. He was easily the most brilliant figure there where so many were brilliant, and acclaimed a paragon of horsemen and a peerless knight; he made such a superb figure in the bravery of his gorgeous mail and princely apparel that shouts of applause greeted his every appearance.

He was surrounded by troops of pages, esquires and minstrels, he threw away the last of his treasure in golden largess, his grace and charm, his virile beauty and gallantry, his success in all the manly exercises most regarded, won every one, including the frail little King, who gave him a noble stallion and ardent praise.

In secret, Louis and his friends meditated escape, the repudiation of Jeanne and a marriage with the seven-year-old heiress of the Duke of Brittany, then hovering on the verge of revolt against the Regency.

But for the moment he was defeated; Anne, whose government was but a phantom of power in a disordered kingdom, beguiled the Orléans party with offices, favours and fetes.

Louis was neither powerful nor energetic enough to raise an open rebellion; he did what he had done all his life, went with the tide, with inner bitterness, but outward grace.

Still cherishing his ambitions in secret, he became a favourite at the Court and especially with the King; the feeble boy, who had some nobility and generosity in his clouded soul, soon began to love the beau prince who was so accomplished, so gay and agreeable, such an adept in all those chivalrous arts in which poor Charles longed to excel.

Anne de Beaujeu solaced Louis with the government of Paris and Belle Isle, while she consolidated her own power, such as it was, with adroit flatteries and concessions to every one; nor was Louis, despite his furtive intrigues, ill pleased to be the foremost gentleman of France, the model of taste and elegance, the hero of all the tourneys and festivals and the admired friend of the King.

Brantôme, with his usual scandalous turn, says that the severe and stately Regent herself was unable to resist the fascinations of Louis d'Orléans and endeavoured to win from him those favours he had always refused to her sister, that he repulsed her with scorn and so turned her into an implacable enemy. This may be true, but Anne was at least generous towards her sister, giving her an establishment and treating her with all honour as Duchesse d'Orléans.

Whatever the cause, Louis worked against Anne; he used his influence with Charles to persuade him to throw off his sister's tutelage and cast himself on the protection of the Duke of Brittany.

Anne, however, discovered the intrigue, and Louis and Dunois were forced to fly the Court and deprived of their positions and pensions. Dunois escaped to Asti and Louis to Blois. He was in no condition to raise a war, but he kept up a friendly correspondence with Brittany and still cherished the scheme of marrying the little heiress, whose childish fancy he had easily captured and whom he himself began to regard with affection. The end of these long and vague plots and counterplots was a short and decisive war.

Louis d'Orléans, at the head of the great nobles, Jean de Châlons, Prince of Orange, Dunois, Châteaubriant, and other malcontents, a Breton army and some German mercenaries, met the Royal forces at Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier, 29th July, 1488. Harry of Richmond, now King of England, had afforded some help to his ancient protector; some English troops fought with Louis d'Orléans; among them and among the slain was Lord Woodville, Governor of the Isle of Wight, and brother of Queen Elizabeth, wife to Edward IV and mother of Edward V.

Louis, fighting valiantly to the last, saw thirty-six of his friends fall beside him, and finally, at the last extremity, was captured, still struggling bravely, together with the Prince of Orange. The wretched Bretons were cut to pieces, comme un troupeau de moutons. The Germans acquitted themselves so well that they were offered service in the French army, and the guerre folle was over.

Anne de Beaujeu caused the Te Deum to be sung in Notre Dame de Paris and fireworks to be let off in the streets; Louis d'Orléans, at table in the house of La Tremoille, the Captain who held him prisoner, had the horror of seeing two of his followers shot before his eyes as traitors, an example of the fate he deserved, even if he was not to receive it; this ghastly scene excited general indignation and struck to the heart the chivalrous Louis, who demanded only a sword with which to avenge his soldiers.

To such a pass of humiliation had Louis come that this outrage had to be endured; he had lost everything and hurled Brittany into ruin and his friends into disaster; at least twelve thousand men were left slain on the field of Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier, the flower of the Breton nobility were killed or captive, and the remains of Louis' household, men of bonne et grand maison, were prisoners; it was in truth a guerre folle and one that did no credit to either the judgment or the patriotism of Louis d'Orléans; he had conducted himself, however, with conspicuous gallantry and fortitude in the field and this further enhanced his reputation as a peerless knight.

The Duke of Brittany, after signing a humiliating treaty with the King (1488), died, overwhelmed with sorrow and shame, leaving his daughter, Anne, heiress to his coveted domain, and therefore a victim to all the Royal matchmakers of Europe, while Louis d'Orléans, who had so long hoped to marry her himself, was taken, a close prisoner, to the Château de Sablé, pursued, as a traitor and rebel, by the execrations of the people.

Louis was treated with exceptional severity; the gossip that accuses Anne de Beaujeu of yielding to the attractions of Louis, always beau personnage et hotnme de plaisir, also accuses her of malice in procuring him such harsh treatment when he was in her power; these niceties are not chronicled, they are always a matter of surmise; the severity of Anne de Beaujeu may have had a purely political reason behind it; she may have felt justly indignant against Louis, not as a man who had rejected her advances, but as a rebel who had brought disaster on a large portion of the kingdom through ill-judged and purely personal motives.

The other noble prisoners were treated nobly; the valiant Prince of Orange was allowed his liberty on parole and sent to fight against the English. In vain Louis solicited the same treatment; he was sent from the Château de Sable to the Donjon of Lusignan, there to repent on a diet of bread and water for his temerity in raising his Standard against Anne de France.

There were few left to intercede for Louis at Court; Marie de Clèves had died the previous year (1487) at her modest Château of Chaunay, despoiled of most of her fortune, heart-broken by the miserable marriage of her son, but surrounded by her sumptuous tapestries which were her great delight, her pious books and a few other treasures saved from the dispersal of the fortune of Charles d'Orléans.

One of her daughters, Madame de Narbonne, and her husband, had shared Louis' disgrace; the other was Abbess of Fontevrault, where lie the bones of the Angevin Kings of England; neither could do anything to help Louis.

His cousin, the Comte d'Angoulême, once his close friend, but no participant in his escapade, tried, but in vain, to obtain some favour for him; the brilliant and fastidious knight, so lately the idol of France, was kept closely immured like a common criminal and his bitter complaints went unheeded.

Then, to the miserable dungeon where Louis fretted so furiously, where the coarse archer had advised him to satisfy his hunger with spiders, came Jeanne de France with her angelic meekness, her generous kindness, her tender abnegation.

During the confusions of the late troubles this most unfortunate lady had been stripped of everything and was even reduced to wearing old mended garments; amid all these indignities she had preserved her patience and her sweetness and now came to Lusignan to endeavour to soften the rigorous imprisonment of the husband who had treated her with such brutal contempt.

The squire who accompanied her took Louis aside and advised him that on his treatment of his wife depended his future, but Louis could still not bring rrimself to receive Jeanne with anything but hostility; and he turned rudely from this King's daughter who had come humbly to share the humiliations of his prison.

Notwithstanding this conduct that lacked alike prudence and chivalry, Jeanne de France obtained permission to lodge in the castle, and employed all her time in such services as might ease the days of her husband and in writing letters to her brother and her friends with the object of procuring the liberty of Louis.

After the piteous entreaties of a year she obtained the transfer of the Duke to the more agreeable castles of Poitiers and Mehun-sur-Yèvre; Louis still complained bitterly of his treatment, the confinement must indeed have gone hard with this fine gentleman, this lover of luxury and the chase, of beauty and pleasure.

In July, 1489, he was moved again, to the Grosse Tour at Bourges, then the most solide State prison in France; here, under the old bastions raised by Philip Augustus, were a troop of Scots archers in charge of the prisoner, camped in the old fosse; here, too, came the devoted Jeanne with her pitiful offerings of conserves, of oranges, of fresh linen, of oil and fish for the haughty captive who continued to repulse her with disgust.

Jeanne de France did more than this; she commuted the dowry, châteaux and pensions, so long owing to her from the Crown, into a sum of ready money which she spent entirely in efforts towards the liberation of her husband.

Louis made difficulties about Bourges; he had, he declared, neither light nor air, was deprived of a doctor and refused a pair of new shoes when his own were in holes.

It was even said that this first Prince of the Blood was forced every night to enter a wooden cage where he was locked in till morning; this appears not to be true, but Louis saw this cage in the courtyard and lived in dread of having to pass his already hateful life in this instrument of torture; he was always fastidious, sensitive, of a highly strung, nervous temperament, and suffered above the ordinary in this captivity.

He was not, as his poor wife said, bien aise. She obtained for him several concessions. De Bombelles, his doctor, was allowed to attend him and he appears to have been passably well treated; but the winter of 1490 was of horrible severity, three months of perpetual frost and snowstorms till May, and Louis, in his stone dungeon, found every cause for complaint.

Jeanne, poor as she was, spent all her money, and ill as she was, all her strength, in efforts to release the husband who turned from her with aversion; she repeated her remark of years before: "I am not a person for such a Prince," and went, the poor creature, to Court to solicit her sister for pity.

Anne de Beaujeu turned a deaf ear to these entreaties and Jeanne went direct to the young King.

Charles had always admired, and even loved Louis, and felt a considerable tenderness for his younger sister; he was also tired of the tutelage of the Bourbons. Moved by the sight of Jeanne, in heavy black, sobbing at his feet, the young King said at last: "Console yourself, my sister, you shall have what you desire—may you never repent of it."

Under pretext of a hunting party, Charles went to Bourges and sent one of his chamberlains to fetch Louis from his prison; the Duke cast himself on his knees before the young King, who received him with much affection; the three years' imprisonment of Louis d'Orléans and the power of Anne de Beaujeu were alike at an end.

Louis was named Governor of Normandy and became first favourite and friend of the King; Jeanne and her services were alike forgotten by Louis, the Duchesse d'Orléans retired to her conventual obscurity, and even the King dare not mention the deformed Princess to her husband; but, fifteen years after her marriage, she made her formal entry into Orléans as Duchess and was sometimes seen with her husband on State occasions.

The secret matrimonial adventure of Louis, that hope of winning Anne of Brittany, came to a fantastic conclusion.

This lady, as important an heiress as Mary of Burgundy had been a few years before, was betrothed to the superb Prince Maximilian, King of the Romans, who had been the husband of Mary and was the father of Marguerite, still being educated by Anne de Beaujeu as future bride of King Charles.

The young King, however, now master of Brittany, resolved to marry the heiress of François II, was secretly affianced to her, 1491, and hastily and even furtively married to her in the Castle of Langeais the end of that year; Louis d'Orléans assisted at these ceremonies with every appearance of satisfaction, accepting the loss of Anne with that mingled prudence and lightness that often distinguished his actions.

The bride arrived at Langeais in a magnificent litter, robed in cloth of gold and marten fur; the wishes of the women concerned were of course the last things considered in these State marriages where provinces and countries changed hands on the signing of a nuptial contract; it might have been supposed that Anne would have preferred either Louis d'Orléans, the most accomplished knight in France, amiable, amorous and handsome, or the gorgeous Maximilian, the foremost Prince of his time, to Charles who was in no way fitted to win the affection or respect of a young girl.

It might even have been supposed that she would have viewed her bridegroom with the aversion and horror with which Louis had regarded his sister, for Charles could have been but little more agreeable in appearance than Jeanne.

The bust of Charles VIII, now in the room at Langeais where he was married, shows a terrible mask of deformed degeneracy, like the head of a misshapen animal, heavy, massive nosed, with pathetic eyes, a caricature of the marked powerful features of Louis XI, and yet showing some likeness to the smooth dignified features of Anne de Beaujeu in the Louvre portrait.

This monstrous head was supported by a small, frail, misshapen body; already, at twenty years of age, Charles was undermined by disease, the inherited maladies of a sickly, exhausted stock, and subject to confusions and exaltations of mind; yet in his character was something grand and sweet; he was easily loved, and like his sister Jeanne, already celebrated for his bonté—kindness, justice and goodness of heart.

The little bride snatched from Maximilian was fourteen years old, small, fine, with neat comely features and a limping walk; she was precise, discreet, and passionately attached to her native Brittany, secretly amorous and luxurious.

The marriage contract was not wholly in her disfavour; she retained her sovereign rights over Brittany, and, if she had no heirs, was to marry the next King of France; her dowry was to be equal to that of her mother-in-law, Charlotte of Savoy.

This sudden marriage shocked the general opinion of Europe; the double insult to Maximilian was atrocious; not only had he been robbed of his bride, but his daughter, betrothed since her third year to Charles, was returned to him; his fulminations lacked nothing in vigour and fury, but since he was, as usual, penniless, they were both unregarded and fruitless. Meanwhile the superstitious marked, with zest, that Dunois, prime mover of this faithless marriage, dropped dead from his horse during the procession that escorted the Queen to her coronation.

This took place, with the most imposing pomp, in the Abbey of St. Denis on February 8th, 1492; Louis d'Orléans conducted to the altar the girl he had schemed to marry himself. Anne loved luxury, she trailed proudly her regal robes of white satin and gold brocade, and during the long ceremonial held high the little head burdened with the immense crown of France.

She regretted neither Louis nor Maximilian in the splendours of her new glorious elevation, and, contrary to all that might with reason have been expected, soon conceived a warm affection for her ugly little husband, which grew into a jealous and ardent passion that did not permit the King to be out of her sight; this delicate, fine, ambitious and splendid girl pursued with an intense love a husband whose deformity did not keep him faithful; it must have been an odd spectacle for Louis d'Orléans to have witnessed, but he bore it with philosophy, possibly with amusement.

He had abandoned the prospect of a divorce and was forced to pass a few days now and then under the same roof with Jeanne, but he was still obdurate against any persuasions for the real union of himself and his wife; this nominal marriage continued to blight his career and his character; he was forced to live without an establishment, the hope of heirs or the domestic atmosphere he desired; he disdained the futile intrigues into which he drifted, and often bitterly complained of the irregular life his marriage forced him to lead. But, easy and agreeable, amiable and elegant, he found no difficulty in adapting himself to the pleasures of the Court reigned over by Anne of Brittany at Amboise, where the luxurious young Queen had evoked all that was beautiful, sumptuous and delicate in her surroundings; flowers bloomed in the tapestries of silk and gold, in the hangings of fine velvet, in the cushions of satin, on the beds of grey and yellow damask, on the parterres, on the terraces, in the pavilions in the park; everywhere were minstrels, singers to the lute, poets composing their pretty rondels and aubades; all was an éclair de gaieté; nor was Louis d'Orléans ill pleased to be the most lustrous knight in this most brilliant assembly.

Little of serious import touched his life at this period; his fight and prodigal rule had not been popular with the severe and thrifty Normans, but he continued the government of that province and of the He de France, and he put his own affairs in order, regulated his estates and his income, rewarded faithful servitors, and established a household on a magnificent scale; he also paid his debts and allotted a good sum of money to charity, to the Church, that is to say, and to Masses to be said in the splendid Chapel of Blois for the repose of the souls of Charles d'Orléans and Marie de Clèves.

While Louis d'Orléans was amusing himself with fetes, tourneys, parties of minstrels, hunts and all manner of gilded idleness, the Italian adventure loomed suddenly on the gay horizon, and Charles VIII found himself committed to another guerre folle, but one on a larger scale than that of Brittany. Ludovic Sforza, Duke of Bari, was then Duke of Milan in fact, if not by right; he was acting as Regent for his nephew, Gian Galeazzo, son of the late murdered Duke Galeazzo Maria and Bona of Savoy, sister-in-law of Louis XI and aunt of Charles VIII.

Louis XI had made some efforts to assert the rights of his young nephew, with the idea of eventually annexing Lombardy himself, but Ludovic, astute and able to a fine degree, had contrived to keep him at bay, balancing Maximilian against him by promising the Hapsburg sway over the North of Italy, a privilege the Emperor claimed but had never enjoyed.

But the French King was not the only enemy to be dreaded by Ludovic Sforza; Ferdinand, King of Naples, and Louis d'Orléans had claims on Milan, and Venice was striving to revive both; the Pope and Genoa meddled in these complicated affairs; there were many jealous pretenders to the prize that Ludovic Sforza, il Moro, meanwhile held and enjoyed.

Negotiations had been dragging on for years with no advantage to any one save to Ludovic, who had at least kept a foreign army out of his domains; but Charles VIII, vaguely ambitious to accomplish some knightly exploit, and sincerely attracted by large and glorious designs, had always cast longing eyes on Italy; when the Pope, Innocent VIII, urged him to undertake a "crusade" against Naples, Charles, dazed by romances of chivalry, began to see himself as another St. Louis or Carolus Magnus, leading triumphant hosts of paladins across Europe; the magic name of Rome, then so powerful over the minds of all men, lured him; he beheld himself, robed and crowned, an Emperor of Rome, of the World.

"O Roma nobilis, orbis et domina,
Cunctarum urbium excellentissima
Roseo martyrum sanguine rubea,
Albis et virginum liliis Candida!"

sang the pilgrims of the Middle Ages, and some such enchanting vision of a Holy City, blood red, lily white, lured the half-crazed imagination of Charles VIII; he set his secretaries to search out the titles and documents that proved his rights to the thrones of Naples and Sicily, and prepared, with the warm support of Louis d'Orléans, to cross the Alps on an expedition that was at bottom one of pure robbery.

Ludovic Sforza bided his time; his ambition was limitless, he hoped, at least, to reign over all Italy, with, as his poet Bellincione wrote, the Pope as his chaplain, Germany as his hired soldier, France as his courtier; he saw Milan as the centre of a new, almost divine civilization.

But, boundless as was his pride, he knew how to disguise it, and contrived by flattery and diplomacy to keep on good terms with the two French Princes, Charles and Louis; Ludovic also stood well with England; he had signed a commercial treaty with Henry VII (1490), who also used his influence to reconcile him with Maximilian.

Louis d'Orléans now put forward claims for territories in Lombardy, Batifollo and Mombasiglia; the real Duke of Milan was now twenty-five years old, father of a son and husband of Isabella of Aragon; Ludovic saw that he could not long, with any pretence at legality, maintain himself in his present position unless he took some drastic measures.

Therefore, after some hesitation, he resolved to embroil Italy in a war, to invite Charles and Louis to fall on Naples and her allies; he hoped, in the resultant confusion, to find his own count, and at least to distract the attention of the French from Lombardy; Maximilian had been bought by the hand of Bianca, "the jewel of the Sforza," and a dowry of 25,000 ducats.

In the midst of these entanglements, Ferdinand of Aragon, King of Naples, died, 1494.

Ludovic and Charles were now closely allied, and despite the complaints of an impoverished country and the advice of a few level headed men, Charles hastened his sumptuous preparations for a descent on Italy.

The Borgia Pope, Alexander VI, recently elected, consented to the coronation of the new King of Naples, but sent Charles the Golden Rose to show his impartiality; Ludovic was disconcerted by the headlong enthusiasm and fantastic excitement of Charles, who was in all things a contrast to his own prudent, adroit and crafty character, but had to make the best of his odd ally, though secretly he opened negotiations with Alphonso, the new King of Naples.

He was, Ludovic told this Prince, only inviting Charles to Lombardy in order to amuse him, and to lower the pride of the Milanese; this cynical admission was about as near the truth as Ludovic ever got; it was a truth unsuspected by Charles in his singleminded delusion of glory, and even by Louis d'Orléans, who accompanied him on this lunatic expedition which wrought equal evil to Italy and France and not the least advantage to any one.

"I confess I have done a great wrong to Italy," wrote Ludovic cynically in 1496, "but it was to maintain myself where I was."

Maximilian showed ill humour at the prospect of a French invasion of Lombardy and Ludovic kept him dubiously quiet by assuring him that he had only invited Charles to lead him into a trap; such was the dangerous, complicated and obscure situation when Louis d'Orléans found himself in Italy with the King in the midst of festivities, triumphal welcomes, displays of military force and feminine grace that disguised alike the peril and the foolishness of the adventure; he had distinguished himself by a modest success at Rapallo, when with the aid of the Genoese he had defeated the Neapolitans, who had landed from their galleys to impede the French advance; he could therefore claim the lustre of victory as an added grace for his noble person, clad in fine crimson velvet, coiffed with gold, encased in exquisite armour. Ludovic had quickly gauged the folly, the sincerity, the vainglorious vanity, the ingenuous simplicity of Charles, the light, knightly honest character of Louis. To the very intelligent, fine and cunning Italian, versed in every device of intrigue and corruption, Charles was but a half wit and Louis but a simpleton.

He proceeded to dazzle both with every art at his command.

This was easily accomplished; indeed the whole French army went mad with the enchantments of Italy, then in the full flower of the Renaissance; Leonardo da Vinci directed the festivals where presided Beatrice d'Este, delicious, exquisite, surrounded by music, harps, tabours, pipes, by ladies with angelic faces, sparkling with diamonds on pure foreheads, with sapphires on snowy bosoms, welcoming with the slow, grave seductive smiles of the Milanese, offering a luxury, a voluptuousness without limits, promising delights without restraints.

Never had the French seen such sun, such fruit and flowers, such airy, noble buildings, such marvellous festivals, sky so blue, water so brilliant, women so amorous and so kind; Charles, diseased in mind and body, lost himself in every excess; Ludovic, with the Emperor's patent for the Dukedom of Milan secretly in his pocket, smiled to see the wretched young man abandon all dignity and restraint, and continued to press on him all those pleasures which he himself used so delicately and so finely.

Charles VIII, freed from the jealousy of the Queen, indeed nearly killed himself with gross debauchery; a common fate of princes though one seldom acknowledged. When the captive Duke of Milan, Gian Galeazzo, died, Ludovic was accused of poisoning him, but it appears certain that he died from over indulgence in gross material delights.

Everything in the lives of these men induced disease; longevity was impossible when all the appetites were unbridled, when the elements of medicine were not understood, when every luxury and every opportunity incited to excess, imprudence and neglect, and when what private folly had begun official wisdom, in the shape of the doctor, completed.

Both Charles and Louis were frequently ill during these exotic enchantments of Lombardy, but Louis at least preserved his dignity, and whatever his private amusements, they were not openly scandalous; during one of his attacks of malaria, Jeanne de France sent him his own physician, and Louis, since his wife was safely the other side of the Alps, brought himself to send her a courteous letter of thanks.

Bewildered by the unimagined glories of Italy, Charles never guessed at the seething intrigues of the Court of Milan; while his time was occupied by enervating amours, his head muddled by fiery wines, his digestion ruined by rich dainties, his gaze dazzled by a succession of unparalleled spectacles, Ludovic was coolly engaging the Emperor and Venice in a league against the French, who had already been more successful in the confusions of Italy than was relished by the rest of Europe.

While Charles, like a drunken man, was swaggering from one triumphal entry to another, and Louis was holding Asti, the Pope and Ferdinand of Spain also joined Ludovic's league, which he called Holy and said was meant against the Turk.

Despite this the lilies advanced across Italy, the splendid dreams of Charles seemed, in appearance at least, realized; he took Naples (1494) but could not keep it, and, winning the battle of Fornoue, fell back on Asti and No vara then held by Louis d'Orléans.

Louis was not, however, ready with the assistance that Charles had expected; finding himself at the head of considerable troops he had thought the occasion ripe for a breach with Ludovic, now, on the death of his nephew, Duke of Milan; unjustly or not, the French suspected Ludovic of murder in this instance and their chivalry was outraged; Louis was no doubt really indignant with Ludovic, whose crafty character disgusted him, but he also saw a chance of snatching the Duchy of Milan; the upshot was that Ludovic besieged him in No vara, where the French garrison was reduced to the last extremity and only saved from complete destruction by the treaty of Verceil (1495), by which Louis and the remains of his troops were permitted to leave the beleaguered city.

Charles received Louis coldly, and with some justification; while he, with considerable boldness and a dashing if freakish gallantry, had secured Naples and fought his way back through a confederacy of hostile princes, winning at Fornovo a considerable and unlikely victory, Louis, instead of coming to his assistance, had taken Royal troops to essay his own fortunes; this action savoured of disloyalty, if not actually treason, and certainly showed that Louis was more anxious to see himself Duke of Milan than to behold Charles King of Naples.

However, Charles VIII had secured, in appearance at least, what he had set out to secure, a romantic and grandiose triumph, and was able to return to France a conqueror, with tales of the conquest of Naples and the victory of Fornovo; in truth the whole expedition had been futile and stupid and was to entail fifty years of wasteful wars on France, but such practical issues were not in the least regarded by the Princes of the Middle Ages, and a war conducted with sufficient pomp and individual bravery and display justified itself, and perhaps properly so; maybe there is something necessary to the story of mankind in these struggles, seemingly so senseless, gilded over with every detail of glory and splendour and entailing such atrocious misery, such pitiful ruin and such foolish waste.

Louis, with his ingratiating manners and agreeable temper, contrived to effect some reconciliation with Charles as the lilies of France and the red and yellow flames of Orléans crossed the Alps together.

But the old friendship was gone; King and Duke parted; neither was the man he had been when the fantastic expedition was undertaken; the King's diseased frame, wasted by extravagant excess, was sinking into premature decay; he varied bursts of senseless enthusiasm with fits of deep melancholy, and vague horrors and remorses clouded his vainglorious exaltations, his piteous moods of piety.

The Dauphin, a bold and precocious child, fearless beyond the common, had died of smallpox at three years of age; Anne of Brittany's other three children had scarcely survived their birth. These misfortunes terrified Charles; while the delicious figures of his children, robed and crowned, were being carved to rest above the tomb under the glittering reflections of the brilliant glass in St. Gatien, Charles was manifesting a trembling remorse, vowing to lead a chaste life and turning wistfully to the unfailing tenderness of the Queen, who had received him with a passion of welcome.

Louis had also changed; his imprisonment at Bourges, the malaria in Italy, the privations of the siege of Novara had impaired a superb physique and a resplendent health never prudently preserved; he was often shaken by agues, tormented by sudden attacks of illness, and depressed by gloom; he was now thirty-seven years of age, still chained to the nominal marriage with Jeanne de France which had ruined his youth; he continued to refuse to see this wretched Princess who was consoling herself with religious fervour, but while Charles was King he dare not repudiate her. He answered fiercely and bitterly, however, when the King, in one of his austere moods, pointed out the figure of Luxury in a painted book, remarking: "That is a good likeness of you, cousin," and Charles took the rebuke with a blush.

Often the poor King would say feebly: "Go and see my sister, cousin," but had no reply to the hard silence and contemptuous look of Louis; Jeanne de France was Duchesse d'Orléans in name and had to content herself with the society of other neglected wives, with prayers and tears and gentle deeds and the exercise of a beautiful but useless patience.

Louis amused himself with embellishing Blois in the Italian taste, in jousts and feasts inspired by the grandeurs of Milan; he and Charles had both been dazzled by the opulent beauties of Italy and strove to reproduce under the more silvery skies of France the golden luxuries of the South; painters, poets, architects and sculptors followed in the train of the returning French across the Alps and helped to bring the Renaissance into the lives and homes of their would-be conquerors; the French endeavoured to absorb Italian culture as the Romans had absorbed Greek culture; an art, transmuted by Gallic influence, at once new and yet characteristic of the nation, flourished to a rapid growth under Charles and Louis and reached a very extravagance of splendour under François I.

The piety of the King increased; the native goodness and grandeur of his spirit showed more clearly, he resolved to work for the benefit of his people, he regretted the miseries his wars had brought on them; he put in hand several reforms, he planned others; he studied social problems, in the State, in the Church; like his sister, he, too, wept and prayed; he turned to the severe Anne de Beaujeu and her able husband, Pierre de Bourbon; there was nothing that he would not do for the good of his poor people; he was abased by the memories of his sins and follies.

But all these noble endeavours were crossed by fantastic dreams; he prepared armaments for another descent on Italy while he talked of economy and peace, and while vowing himself to purity and holiness, the smile of a peasant girl or the leer of a courtesan could at once alienate him from his allegiance to the Queen. Anne, waiting in the frantic hope of another son, loved this unfaithful, deformed and sickly husband, with a deep and jealous passion, whether out of a regard for his native goodness, or feminine caprice, or because of some fascination in the personality of the King it is impossible to say; it was the fashion of the time for princesses to have these devotions—usually misplaced—for their lords.

Louis withdrew to his government of Normandy; he went with the tide in accordance with his nature; he helped Charles in his ideas of social reforms and he was ready for another expedition to Italy; despite his complaisance, however, he continued to fall out of favour with the King, who regarded him as an obstacle in his Italian designs; in April, 1498, Louis, ill and feeble, had retired to Montils-les-Blois, in expectation of an order for exile. Charles was at Amboise, languishing and decrepit; on 7th April he contrived to go to the hunt, returned late, bathed his head, dined with the Queen, and afterwards strolled along an old gallery used temporarily as a tennis court (jeu de paume). On entering this gallery the King struck his head against a low doorway, but made no complaint, and for some time watched the play.

He remarked suddenly that he hoped to commit no more sins, mortal or venial, then stammered in his speech and fell prone.

It was two o'clock in the afternoon; a mattress was brought and placed under the King, who lay dying in the dirty, public gallery till nine in the evening, when he expired, babbling prayers to the Virgin, to St. Blaise, to St. Claude.

Doctors and attendants had looked on hopelessly; the despairing Queen had lain sobbing beside the mattress until dragged away by force; it had occurred to no one to move the dying man from this wretched spot, filthy and public, abandoned save for the most mean purposes, foul and infected; the King, who was engaged in beautifying castles and palaces, gardens and churches with all the extreme of Italian luxury, passed his last hours of agony without light or air, hemmed in by a press of agitated courtiers, priests and doctors, who only left him when his end was in sight and they dare rush to Blois.

The death of Charles was attributed, of course, to poison, also to the blow on the forehead; there is no doubt that he died of congestion or apoplexy and that he had lived as long as might have been expected from one of his constitution and habits; he was twenty-seven years of age.

This sudden death caused violent and general consternation. Anne lost all control; face downwards on the floor in her chamber she sobbed without ceasing and refused to put on the royal white mourning robes of a Queen of France or to take food. She was twenty-two years old, had lost four children and her husband and was alone, a foreigner, without friend or protector.

With the dawn, Louis d'Orléans arrived at Amboise; he was received as King; there was indeed no one to dispute his title.

"Eh, cet enfant peut reégner!" Louis had exclaimed in disgust when informed of the birth of Marie de Clèves' son, and his words had come true.

Louis II d'Orléans, after a brilliant, sumptuous but spendthrift and rather useless youth and manhood, had now become Louis XII of France; the radical had become the conservative, the rebel the King; Louis' views naturally veered round from schemes to obtain power to schemes to preserve it; as Duc d'Orléans he had been hereditary leader of the opposition, as King he was hereditary leader of the government. He showed at once an ability for which he had hitherto had little scope, also the generosity and delicate feeling which had long made him popular.

Charles VIII had left many to lament him, but no money to pay for his funeral. Louis undertook these expenses out of his private coffers, then not so meanly filled, and sent Cardinal Briconnet with messages of the most tender sympathy to the frantic and disconsolate Queen.

Louis had himself wept for Charles and praised him warmly, a display of emotion condemned by some as theatrical and even hypocritical; but Charles was lovable and Louis warm-hearted and they had long been companions; many softening memories must have come to the new King's mind as he gazed at the poor little corpse on the lit de parade, and only a cynic will doubt that his tears were genuine.

Charles, as many another ineffective monarch, was extremely popular, and though he left the country in complete financial disorder, loaded with debts and confusions, burdened with a crazy war, he also left a nation firmly consolidated in an affection and loyalty for the House of Valois.

Louis performed the funeral pomps of the sad young King with unparalleled solemnity and splendour, and faced the entanglements and difficulties of his new position with dignity and prudence.

He made it clear that he wished no animus against those who had opposed him in the late reign, by remarking to Louis de la Tremoille, who had taken him prisoner at the battle of Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier, "The King of France does not remember the injuries done to the Duc d'Orléans."

And while the body of Charles VIII was still lying under the gold pall with the white cross bordered with ermine and purple fleur de lisé in Notre Dame de Paris, his successor had won over by prudence and gentleness all those who had opposed his elevation to power seven years before.

After every conceivable display of formal woe and regal ceremony Charles VIII was laid in the vaults of St. Denis, and one of the Italian sculptors who had followed him from the South, Paganini, was employed to erect over his frail bones a superb monument of black marble and bronze that endured till the outrages of 1793.

The lavish splendours of this funeral cost Louis XII 45,000 livres.

The eager ambitions, the restless pride, the gay, high spirits of Louis d'Orléans had burnt themselves out; disappointment, humiliation and suffering and the long misery of a mock marriage had worn him before his due time; he wished for nothing but peace and repose and an opportunity to gratify his hereditary tastes for art and learning; he also desired to set his kingdom in order and saw the need for a wary prudence and a severe economy; though as a young man so rash and so lavish, Louis was now able to achieve both prudence and economy; the extravagant Prince, model of brilliant spendthrifts, became careful, even mean in personal expenditure, and sternly regulated his pleasures and luxuries.

As soon as the crown of France was on his brow his attention was directed to his marriage; Jeanne de France, by right his Queen, had sent him humble and loyal messages; in vain.

By her marriage contract Anne of Brittany had engaged to marry the next King of France; her immense dowry made her a rich prize and Louis may have been sentimentally inclined towards her from the early days when she was a little girl in Brittany and he had hoped to win her; in any case, marriage with her was politically most desirable, and Louis, with this end in view, set about his divorce.

Anne of Brittany, if no longer childishly pretty, was neat and comely, had outgrown her early extravagances, was a good housewife, a practical business woman, an agreeable companion, and had developed taste and dignity if she had also become slightly haughty and severe.

Though she was terribly shaken by the death of Charles she consented to receive the tender and respectful addresses of Louis; and in her case, as in his, who shall say the exact proportion of sentiment and ambition that influenced her attitude?

There could be no question of the importance of the marriage for France; the accession of Louis had united Orléans, Dunois and Blois to the Crown; with his union with Anne a far more important province would be absorbed in the growing solidity of the kingdom.

Anne, always discreet, retired to Nantes, while Louis engaged in the ugly business of his divorce.

This pitiful affair was more the fault of Louis XI than of Louis XII, but the latter had to bear the odium it aroused, a scandal increased by the fact that the Borgia Pope gave the dispensation and his gorgeous son, Cesare, brought it to France. This sinister Ambassador, who came to France with a pageantry of gross opulence that amazed all beholders, was rewarded with a French title, Valentinois, an ancient Papal fief, and, later, a French wife, Charlotte d'Albret; he affected the use of the title to the end of his evil and glittering life, but the Princess was soon discarded to join Jeanne de France in decorous resignation to the inconstancy of man.

Louis had never behaved with the least delicacy or chivalry towards the saintly Jeanne, and this final act was a blot on his knighthood, even on his manhood; the most miserable means were employed to obtain the divorce and Jeanne de France, abandoned by all, was forced to state her case before a hostile tribunal who had already decided against her, and to listen to the husband whom she had loved and served with such abnegation and sweetness state publicly his disgust and aversion to her person and his belief that she was unfit for marriage.

Seldom can a woman, and never perhaps a King's daughter, have been reduced to such an abyss of misery; Jeanne bore her atrocious fate with pathetic dignity and strove to restrain her tears while Louis related details of her infirmities, which, true or not, should never have been breathed in public.

He outraged his own character, naturally just and sweet, in this, as well as the majesty of the throne, and proved how a wrong will constrain to a counter wrong the person against whom it is committed; the fell crime of Louis XI in forcing this unnatural marriage directly caused the hideous scandal with which Louis XII cast off Jeanne de France.

The unhappy lady, her shame and deformity exposed to common ridicule, stated her case with modest courage:

"Je sais bien que je ne suis aussi belle ni aussi bien faite que beaucoup d'autres; mais je ne m'en crois pas moins propre aux fins de manage et plus incapable d'avoir enfants."

It may have been so; she had at least, as Brantôme says, proved herself "all woman" in her touching loving kindness towards her harsh and cruel lord, and could Louis have overcome his aversion to her person she might have given him that son he was ever to lack.

Of course the case went against her; there was no one in all the world to champion Jeanne de France; stripped of her wifehood and her crown, openly repudiated, insulted and exposed to scorn, the ugly Princess, "who was not good enough for man, and so was given to God," retired to Bourges where she founded the convent of the Annonciades; seldom has there been a sadder fate or one borne with greater patience and sweetness; she joined another Valois, St. Louis, in the Calendar of Saints.

Six years later, 1505, broken in heart, languishing in body, but comforted by a pure and tender piety, the maiden Princess, who had been married since her eighth year, expired in the seclusion of the cloister that hid her from the cruel pity of mankind.

Immediately he was free of Jeanne, Louis espoused Anne of Brittany; nine months after the disconsolate Queen had cast herself on her chamber floor at Amboise in a frenzy of grief, she was standing in the Chapel at Nantes, again a bride (January, 1499). Whatever her feelings towards Louis, Anne, always warmly attached to Brittany, drove a harder bargain with her second husband than she had with her first; she preserved her sovereign rights for herself and her children, and was ruling Duchess of Brittany as well as Queen consort of France.

Whether she was sobered by the death of Charles or even by the fate of Jeanne, Anne became grave and serious, conducted herself with hauteur and decorum, and seconded Louis in his schemes of prudence and economy; she wore for preference the formal and stately dress of Brittany and had something of the neat preciseness of the spotless ermine that was her device; she was pious and, possibly, dull; the knotted thongs of the Order of the Cordeliere appear in many of her chambers and armorial bearings; she was shrewd, practical and well conducted, in her extreme youth amorous, in her maturity outwardly cold; she never lavished on Louis the jealous passion she had expended on Charles, and it seems likely that all the warm love of her youth died with her first husband and the bold bright little Dauphin whose myriad archers could not keep him safe.

But Louis loved her, faithfully, devotedly; he had always wanted the even domestic life, safe, comfortable, that now he found with this placid young woman; there was an end of the roving amours in which he had discovered such little satisfaction; in Anne he found "all his delights and his pleasures," the most inconstant of lovers became the most uxorious of husbands, and the gay and sparkling knight, the lustrous and careless courtier, assailed by middle age and poor health, and tempted by domestic ease, fell into an austere and simple habit of life; the brilliant Louis d'Orléans when King of France held a Court bourgeois in its careful sobriety. But one glittering pageant the prudent King, early named the Père du peuple, could not forgo; he must needs waste his slender resources, so jealously hoarded, on another Italian adventure, and again attempt both the Duchy of Milan and the Kingdom of Naples.

In the year 1499, Louis, at the head of a notable array of paladins, once more crossed the Alps; his success was prompt and brilliant, he took Alessandria, the key to Lombardy, by assault, and, on the flight of Ludovic Sforza to Germany, entered Milan in triumph (October, 1499) wearing the Ducal robes, mounted on a Spanish horse, riding under a baldaquin semé de fleurs de lys and adorned with vair, and attended by a galaxy of French and Italian nobles and Princes, Borgia and D'Este among them; all the splendours of the fallen Ludovic were lavished on the conqueror; his entry was a pageant of adulation; Leonardo da Vinci, so long employed by the Sforza, had made a mechanical lion that opened his mouth and cast forth lilies; the guidons bore the long floating standards of orange and scarlet with the golden porcupine, the device of Charles d'Orléans on the fatal day of Agincourt, in definite and acclaimed triumph through the noble streets made splendid by Ludovic Sforza.

This time, however, Louis was not seduced by the rich and easy graces of the Lombard beauties; he hastened back to Anne, who, during the plague at Blois, had taken refuge at Romorantin with Louise of Savoy, Comtesse d'Angoulême, wife of the cousin of Louis.

Here the Queen gave birth to a child; possibly Jeanne de France, forgotten in the gloom of her convent, was still human enough to feel relief that her rival had not the supreme triumph of a son; the baby was named Claude, and grew up to be as ruthlessly sacrificed, as unhappy, as Jeanne de France herself had been.

Louis spent the winter at Blois, which he dignified and beautified with exquisite care and taste; sumptuous Italian gardens bloomed where Charles d'Orléans had laid out his modest beds of native flowers, and the sober quietlifeof the royal couplewas adorned byall the graces of the arts and learning; Louis had his dogs, his hawks, his fool, his books, his campaigns in Italy, showy, but empty, and the solace of his dutiful wife; his policy was largely in the hands of Cardinal Georges d'Amboise, for long his confidant. "Laisser faire a Georges" was often Louis' watchword; the Cardinal was an adroit politician but mainly occupied with the purely personal aggrandizement of his sovereign; nothing, from a statesman's point of view, could have excused the Italian adventure; brilliant as this seemed on the surface, and though Louis' reign was one of greater peace and security for the people than had long been known, it was not, on the whole, very advantageous for France; all the fruits of Louis' reforms and economies were swallowed up in his bellicose designs on Italy, and all his abler diplomacy was wasted in the endeavour to obtain recognition of himself as Duke of Milan and King of Naples; he did succeed, however, in regulating his finances and in establishing good feeling between himself and his people.

Alfonso of Aragon, driven from his Southern throne, threw himself on the mercy of Louis and was awarded a pension and a troop of archers who watched his movements; a more notable captive was also brought from the Italian wars, the superb and lofty Ludovic Sforza himself, who had played so cunningly for such high stakes and lost them all, so suddenly and so completely.

Ludovic was taken prisoner outside No vara (April, 1500) hidden among the Swiss soldiers, his grey black hair hidden under a coif, in a pourpoint of crimson satin and scarlet breeches, a halbert in his hand; but he could not disguise those remarkable swarthy features, the hooked nose, the eyebrows like a blackbird's wing, the immense sweep of cheek and chin, the sensuous mouth, that had been copied in hundreds of paintings, of medals, of sculptures.

Ludovic showed himself much moved in this swift downfall; deprived of everything he valued, the soaring adventurer, together with Cardinal Ascanio, was led into France; he had been captured by the Comte de Ligny and that La Tremoille who had seized Louis at Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier; never can one captain have made prisoner two such princes.

Ludovic had lost everything, even hope, his warm temperament showed signs of despair; the bold delicate Beatrice was dead in her tomb in Pavia, her little son fled to the Emperor (as Maximilian of Hapsburg had now become), and fled too were all the tender ladies and soft poets and rich delights that had once made life delicious for Ludovic il Moro; there was no Lucrezia Crivelli to console him with melting looks and delicate embraces.

He may have been a usurper, but the expedition that cast him from his throne was little better than piracy and robbery; the French claims to Milan and Naples were trumped up and no better than the claims of Ludovic; as much could be said of most of the excuses on which these long, costly and ghastly wars were founded. Ludovic had been very splendid, the flower of the Renaissance for culture and elegance and magnificence, and it must have been a heart-pinching sight to see him riding, between his archers, on a mule in his grey furred jacket, his red biretta in his hand, his dense black locks heavily streaked with grey, framing the dark face where pride strove with horror.

Ludovic was well treated; he spent five years at the Château of Lys Saint Georges in Berri and then was taken to Loches, the massive State prison on the Loire; every indulgence was allowed him, and the respect and liberty permitted him by Louis are greatly to the credit of the King; the tales that Ludovic was thrust into a deep dungeon, where he saw no light and was finally starved to death, are absolutely false, as is the legend that he painted the daubs still shown in a room at Loches.

Ludovic died a natural death (1508) in his large et honneste prison, having been treated with humanity and dignity till the end. But eight years of captivity, without love, or luxury, or war, or splendour, or hope must have been torment enough for a Prince like Ludovic Sforza, and if he did not die of starvation of the body he likely enough died of starvation of the senses and the spirit; as the old proverb says, there is no pleasant prison and no disagreeable love affair.

In 1501 came resplendent visitors to Blois where Louis and Anne held their modest Court: the Archduke Philip of Austria, only son of Maximilian, and his wife, Juaña, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain.

The great object of Louis' policy was to obtain from the Emperor recognition of his claim to Milan (this city was, nominally, an Imperial fief) and to induce the Spanish King to accept his seizure of Naples from the House of Aragon.

Both these ends Louis hoped to achieve by the marriage of his daughter, Claude, then in the cradle, with Charles of Luxembourg, heir of the princely pair he entertained.

This visit was conducted on a scale of formal and ostentatious magnificence, Louis putting aside his usual habits of economy and modesty to do honour to the guests.

Blois, rising from the banks of the shallow, placid Loire, was in the perfection of its accomplishment; delicious tracery of stone, Italianate decoration, tourelles and lanterns were set off by the elegant gardens so lovingly laid out under the direction of Anne of Brittany.

In his paternal château Louis had placed a statue of himself on a richly caparisoned horse, looking handsome and gracious, noble and bold, as he had once been. These manly graces had largely disappeared; when Louis went forth to welcome his guests he was haggard and racked with illness, his thinness making his height appear greater, the strongly marked Orléans features, now rugged and lined, showing a strong likeness to those of his great-grandfather, Charles V, in the statue of the Célestins, Paris (circa 1370), and the straight hair cut shoulder length, lustreless and greying; Louis had long forsaken the gorgeous robes in which he used to flourish, and always wore a fur bonnet, a short sleeveless mantle over a cloth doublet; he took life very seriously, and, even when his guests were present, ate only bread and drank only water on Holy Days; his manners remained winning and agreeable, and these, with his well-regulated finances, made his rule easy and himself beloved.

Anne, with her dry air and severe decorum, her formal piety and austere domesticity, did not share this popularity; the comely and virtuous Queen was little oved. Even on this occasion it was noted that the pompous welcome lacked affability; in the rigid splendours of the reception the glacial Anne seemed to think more of her own dignity than of the comfort of her guests.

Yet she had the Austrian marriage much at heart, though it was against the interests of France, since it would mean again detaching Brittany from the Crown; but Anne cared little for France, her sentiments were all for her own country and her children.

Philip promised everything in the name of his father and father-in-law, Maximilian and Ferdinand, and the delighted Louis consented to the betrothal of the two children; Philip, called the Handsome, was reputed the most superb Prince in Europe; his portraits do little to confirm this, but the bronze figure at Innsbruck, taken, it is said, from a death mask, does show a heavy, leonine beauty, grand and sullen; the masculine fashion of the moment—the clean shaved face, the long smooth hair, the bare neck—was becoming to manly attractions, and the heavy blond locks of Maximilian and Philip, the black hair of Ludovic finely set off their strongly marked features.

Philip's wife was that wretched Juaña, to be known as "La Folle," though it may be doubted if she were more mad than any hysterical emotional woman unkindly treated would become; the little son, Charles of Luxembourg, whose marriage was being negotiated, afterwards became the Emperor Charles V.

Louis, now so prudent, bitterly regretted the sumptuous entertainments at Blois when he discovered that either the handsome Archduke was a fool or a knave; both the Emperor and Ferdinand went back on all he had undertaken in their names, and Louis was left with all the Italian complications on his hands; war with Spain loomed near, and both Louis and Cardinal d'Amboise began to doubt the advisability of a marriage that would give yet another vast province to a Prince likely to already enjoy too many for the peace of his neighbours.

Another match was suggested for the heiress of Brittany, but, though favoured by the King, this was detested by the Queen.

Under her severe eye, in the chaste solitudes of Blois, resided the frivolous and sly, light and avaricious Louise of Savoy, Comtesse d'Angoulême, and her son, François, a bouncing, lively boy, duly repressed by Anne; this youth, descended from Jean, younger son of Louis I d'Orléans and therefore from Charles V was, in default of heirs male from Louis, next heir to the throne, and Anne regarded him with more than the usual dislike a Queen feels for a successor not of her own blood, and more than the usual bitterness a woman whose sons have perished feels towards the son of another woman who has survived in rude health.

Anne bore Louis two male children who did not breathe, and the cruel disappointment further hardened her repressed nature; she was driven to a more austere piety and a deeper dislike of Louise of Savoy, who, malicious and silly, bided her time with an ill grace and a scarcely concealed triumph, while her son, showy, vicious, idle, grossly effective, promised, in Anne's cold judgment, all the ill qualities of a scoundrel and a fool.

The Italian affairs dragged on; Anne once queened it in Milan, with une pépinière des reines among whom was the French wife of the Borgia, Charlotte d'Albret, for a short while, and Louis defeated successively the Genoese, whose Ambassador he had grossly insulted, and the Venetians, but, in between, the even, anxious life at Blois went on smoothly outwardly, inwardly tormented by fears as to the succession and doubts as to the marriage of Claude.

Nicolò Machiavelli came twice to Blois as envoy from the Republic of Florence; doubtless the Italian found much to admire in the precise, modest Court, but Louis XII can hardly have been his ideal Prince.

The amiable routine of the royal days was occasionally broken by episodes of vast displays of pomp and merriment when the marriage of a French Prince or Princess was celebrated.

Such festivals were the weddings of Anne d'Alençon with the Marquis de Montferrat in 1509, and that of Charles d'Alençon with Marguerite d'Angoulême in the same year, made glorious by the martial triumphs in Italy.

Louis revived his one-time splendour on these occasions; the Princes of the Blood feasted off gold plate, the nobles off silver, and the commoners outside the gates eagerly received the rain of petite monnaie showered down by the heralds in the tabards of Orléans and France.

The Comte d'Angoulême, sixteen years old, clad in yellow silk and drap d'or, took a gracious part in the Lists where mock jousts parodied the days of chivalry, or, shining in white satin, received the prize of a sham victory from the pretty hands of a beauty parading in brocade and damask.

Louis, careful to the extent of preserving cheeses in oil for five years, nevertheless expended vast sums on his Italian pretensions and wasted the remnants of his health on fruitless politics and empty campaigns; his statecraft tended to become as tricky and underhand as that of Louis XI, but not as successful; perhaps there was no other way of dealing with the vast complications of the policies of the day directed by men like the wary Ferdinand and the unstable Maximilian, but these methods were contrary to the open and candid nature of Louis XII, and his treaties, like his conquests, served no purpose save that of souring his character by irritation and disappointment.

His happiest moments were not those spent on his campaigns in Italy amid portents of earth and heaven, plague, pest, death stalking monsters and apparitions, tales of three suns and six moons, ghosts and rains of blood and storms of fire, but those passed in the clear air and sweet light of Touraine, in the exquisite galleries of Blois, with the hawks, hounds, birds, jesters and books he loved so well.

The modest library of Louis I d'Orléans had now become one of the wonders of Europe; Louis XII had added to it the treasures of Milan and Naples, and was continually purchasing, or having written for him, other gorgeous volumes, including those by his historiographer, Jean d'Auton; some printed works were slowly acquired, but these were few, for the printed book was both rare and despised.

For Anne of Brittany sumptuous tomes were also prepared that faithfully mirrored in their superb pages the elegant and modest life at Blois when Anne lived there while Louis was at Lyons or in Italy, surrounded by her poets singing her grief and the triumphs of the King.

One of these, a Recueil of poems, on rich vellum, adorned with beautiful miniatures, was long preserved and showed Anne in her bedchamber with a little white dog, Anne with her handkerchief to her eyes, Anne with a parakeet, Anne writing a letter to the King, and grandiloquent allegories relative to the brilliant campaign of 1509; here, too, was Anne embroidering, Anne on a dais, and a letter from Hector of Troy, in the Champs-Élysées to Loys douzième, to which the King replied in a sonorous Latin epistle composed by Jean Le Maire.

Here, too, Louis was to be seen with his fleur de lys and porcs-épics, which beast, when crowned on his spines, makes the handsomest possible device, and bears the most impeccable of heroic mottoes:

"Spicula sunt humili pax haec, sed bella superbo
Ex nostroque salus vulnere rexque venit."

Another manuscript from the library at Blois of an even more touching interest was the beautiful Heures d'Anne de Bretagne, where the margins are embellished with 300 exact and glowing paintings of plants with Latin and French names attached, a tender tribute to the Queen's passion for the flowers which, native and exotic, bloomed in her beloved bas jardin.

Here, too, she kept curious beasts and birds, including the royal porcupine; and here, in the silvery sound of cascades and fountains, under the gentle shade of trees and the delicate skies of France, in view of the château élevé au plaisir et à l'esprit, Louis XII passed what remained to him of pleasant hours in the placid company of his adored wife.

He was now always ailing and often seriously ill; Anne nursed him with devotion, but, when he once seemed near death, she sent all the royal jewels and plate away secretly to her own territory; she was terrified at the thought of being left at the mercy of the woman she detested, Louise of Savoy, and it was perhaps natural that she should have endeavoured to make this provision for her future and her children.

But the story has an ugly sequel.

Acting in the interests of the future King, Maréchal de Gie stopped the plunder, which was of extraordinary value, at Saumur. Louis recovered and Anne, restored to power, vindictively revenged herself on the loyal soldier by ruining and exiling him; she would, if she could, have had him beheaded; but the anxious Queen need not have descended to this meanness, she was never to be at the mercy of the impertinence of Louise of Savoy, nor of the flippancies of François d'Angoulême.

A new figure arose in the political arena; Louis had been able to hold his own with the uncertain Maximilian, the artful Ferdinand, and the shifty Italian States, but he was no match for the fiery Julius II who ascended the Papal throne so long enjoyed by the friend of France, Alexander VI; in 1512, Julius had formed a league against France which was speedily joined by the young King of England, Henry VIII, who hoped to seize Guienne; Louis XII declared His Holiness deposed, and Julius II declared France under an Interdict.

By the commencement of 1513 Louis XII had all Europe against him despite his attempts to detach Maximilian by an offer of his second daughter, Renee, for the Archduke Charles. The Queen was languishing in health and spirits, depressed by this war with the Holy See, by the loss of her sons, by the failure of her favourite marriage projects for her two daughters, and by the prospect of the accession of François d'Angoulême.

She was thirty-seven years of age and appeared tired of this life that for her had begun so early and been so full of afflictions; when her physicians warned her that her days were numbered, she received the fatal news with grave composure and awaited her end with pious resignation; her malady was given no name, it was probably sheer weariness of mind and body; she had lost a husband and six children and seen her dearest hopes defeated; in the oratory carved with her cool and spotless ermine she prayed patiently for the salvation of her soul and the happiness of her daughters, and for forgiveness for the warm luxuries of her youth.

To the last she worked for the Austrian marriage more from loathing of François than from liking for Charles; nor did Louis more than tolerate this cadet of his house who was his heir; two failures of heirs male had put François d'Angoulême, son of a younger branch of the House of Orléans, in the direct line of the throne; and Louis XII resented this chance as Louis XI had resented the chance that put the Orléans Prince so near the Crown; a King without a son has many a bitter pang to endure.

"Ce gros garçon gatera tous," said Louis later, gloomily surveying the flaunting personality of François so ill kept under by the discipline of the austere Court.

The young Comte d'Angoulême was flamboyant, gay, coarse, luxurious, but not elegant, vain, but not grand; his fleshy face with the small, narrow, highplaced eyes, long nose and crescent mouth and heavy chin was more peculiar than attractive; but health, youth and high spirits gave him an animal charm; the Queen was convinced that he would make the worst possible husband for the gentle Claude, who was neither pretty nor lively, only neat featured and decorously behaved.

Louis, returning from Artois where the English had landed, heard of the defeat of his troops at Novara, a fatal town for him, and of the increasing illness of the Queen; he was himself so broken with gout that he had to be carried in a litter.

It was January, 1514; Anne of Brittany, still striving for the Austrian marriage, composed herself placidly for death; Louis was smitten with uncontrollable grief, for him life was over with the last sigh of his wife's breath; and he gazed at her magnificent body, clad in ermine and purple, with white gauntleted hands joined in prayer, with the diadem of France with which she had been twice crowned on her head, in a calm that was not resignation, but despair.

The heralds and poets hastened to enrich with all the opulence of ceremony and all the beauty of verse this sad circumstance; the careful Queen enjoyed in death all the splendour she had lately denied herself in life; a high and noble beauty was marked in her dead face which remained unchanged amid the jewels, the gold cloth, the ermine and purple that overwhelmed her bed; her piety, they said, had preserved her from the outrages of death.

When the three heralds-at-arms, Brittany, Rennes, Hennebon, came to cover this grand countenance, there were great cries and lamentations:

"Ha, noble dame! Ha, soveraine et notable princesse, faut-il pour jamais perdre la veue de votre noble face!"

With woe and gloom, with ceremonial and grandeur she was taken to St. Denis—"la très crèstienne, très haulte, très puissante et très excellente princesse, ma très redouptee Dame Anne, deux fois Royne de France, Duchesse de Bretagne, Comtesse de Montfort, de Richemont, d'Estampe."

Louis, sick, heartbroken, decrepit with illness and disappointment, remained enclosed in his black hung room; he allowed no one to approach him who was not clad in the deepest mourning, and took no delight even in his beloved Blois that his exquisite taste had made into such a lovely monument of his reign.

Desolate and disconsolate he viewed the walks she had loved, the flowers she had tended, the dogs and birds she had caressed, and the gross, inconstant boy who was to take the place of the son she had never been able to rear. But politics harried the sick and sad King; all Europe was armed against him; there was no longer Georges d'Amboise on whom to lean, for the Cardinal was dead in 1510, lamenting at the last the worldly pomps that nothing would have induced him to relinquish.

To obtain the peace, even the security, of France required severe sacrifices.

Claude, the virtuous, soft and learned Princess, must be married to François, the volatile future King; she was fifteen years old and not very agreeable to her bridegroom, much as she admired his dashing if redundant graces.

Louis XII was repeating the action of Louis XI in this ill-omened marriage, and Claude, neglected, despised, was scarcely happier than Jeanne de France; she died, aged twenty-five, at Blois, in 1524, the fatal year when France lost two armies, Milan and a Queen; in her son, Henry, she continued the line of the Valois Kings, thus, poor woman, serving her purpose according to the politics of that day.

Claude bore seven children in eight years, and saw most of them die; she expired full of lassitude, grief and fatigue; long afterwards her turbulent husband shared her marble bed in St. Denis; it was said that this was the only couch they had ever divided; the loving and neglected lady bore as device a full moon, pure and candid, and might have with reason adopted the motto of another abandoned Princess, Valentina Visconti, who traced beneath the picture of a Chantre pleure (a vessel distilling tears) these despairing words:

Rien ne m'est plus
Plus ne m'est rien.

Her father loved her, she was "the joy and solace of the King," "his only treasure"; he could not endure to part with her, and her mother had passionately adored her; when these dear parents were dead and she was abandoned to the coarse inconstancy of her husband, alone in her old home of Blois, with her books, her music, her little Court of quiet people, it is easy to believe that she languished, like a cut flower, and died, uncomplaining, of loneliness and weariness.

Having accomplished this State marriage, Louis proceeded to make another even more ill-matched; a marriage, indeed, approaching the grotesque, if not the pitiful.

The price of peace with England was the town of Tournay and the elevation of Mary Tudor to the French throne.

Louis, an old man at fifty-two, ailing, feeble, brooding over the loss of Anne, bowed, grey, haggard, led to the altar the sister of the King of England, a blooming young romp of eighteen, avid for the pomp and gaiety that her bridegroom had long since outgrown.

Mary was frankly in love with Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, a robust Englishman of her own type; she gave one glance at the feeble King and then treated her marriage as a joke, resolving to get what amusement and pleasure she could out of a reign that was likely, from the aspect of the King, to be a short one.

Festivities that lasted a rioting six weeks further tried the health and patience of Louis, though they were vastly to the taste of Mary Tudor, a handsome, noisy hoyden full of vitality and fun—cettejeune étourdie as the French called her in disgust.

Louis' third marriage, like his first, was a marriage in name only; Mary regarded her husband as a jest, and if he had deceived himself into expecting some renewal of the joys of youth in the possession of this bouncing bride he was soon undeceived. Taking no notice of the King save pleasantly to twit him on his infirmities, the lively young Queen found a more congenial companion in François d'Angoulême, who was by no means absorbed in the charms of the patient Claude.

Louis had to endure the double mortification of seeing himself and his daughter neglected while Mary and François, hearty, noisy, lusty and frivolous, romped through days filled with idle amusements that disgusted the pious and sickly King.

Mary found Blois too quiet and dragged the Court to Paris; she had all the Tudor tenacity and force, all the crude animal spirits of the English, and she merely laughed at the delicacies and refinements of the French Court, at the order and economy established by Anne of Brittany.

Louis was at last stung into some show of activity; he had been so noble and admirable a cavalier himself, the pattern of knights and the model of princes, the leader of fashion and the hero of pageants so long, that it was intolerable for him to be so eclipsed and even covertly mocked; he made efforts to keep pace with the Queen, threw off the frugal habits of years, sat up late, altered the times of meals, and affected to join in her gaieties and to outshine François d'Angoulême.

Mary Tudor, insatiable for noise, movement, fun, set a pace Louis could not follow; in a few weeks he was in his bed, in a few days more Mary was wearing the white of a widowed and a virgin Queen and making preparations to marry the jolly Charles Brandon and return home; both desires were accomplished.

"Cloth of frize, be not too bold,
If thou art matched with cloth of gold.
Cloth of gold, do not despise,
If thou art matched with cloth of frize."

There was, however, more of honest homespun than gold brocade about the English girl who romped Louis d'Orléans to death; the grotesque marriage had had a grotesque end; though Louis had undoubtedly been dying for years, his end was as undoubtedly hastened by his hoyden of a bride. The shade of poor Jeanne de France was avenged; seldom has a life so active, gorgeous and gallant as that of Louis XII come to such a miserable and humiliating conclusion.

He died far from his adored and adorned home on the banks of the Loire, far from his silvery Touraine, and most of those who loved him had gone before him; even Muguet, his favourite hawk, had died at the feet of Anne of Brittany; his hounds had perished; the flowers in the parterres at Blois were neglected, like Claude de France, their mistress; the gorgeous library was unread; François I had France for his plaything; the long, foxy face of le rot cavalier was turned from the refined and poetical delights of Blois.

Thus, in chagrin and loneliness, died Louis XII, early in 1515, not much more than a year after the death of Anne of Brittany, and a few months after his third marriage.

"Les nefs dont cy devant parloye
Montaient, et je descendoye
Contre les vagues de tourment,
Quand il lui plaira, Dieu m'envoye
A plaisir et à gré le vent."


BIBLIOGRAPHY

JEAN D'AUTON, Chroniques de Louis XII, edited R. de Maulde de la Clavière, 4 Vols., Paris, 1889-95. TOUCHARD LA FOSSE, Histoire de Blois, Paris, 1846. PETIT DE LA SAUSSAYE, Histoire du Château de Blois, Blois-Paris, 1875. Oeuvres de Brantôme, var. ed. Mémoires de Commines, var. ed. PIERRE RAIN, Les Chroniques des Châteaux de la Loire, Paris, N.D. JEAN DE SAINT GELAIS, Histoire de France depuis 1470 jusqu'en 1510, var. ed. FLEURANGES, Mémoires, var. ed. S. L. ROEDERER, Louis XII et François I, Paris. R. DE MAULDE DE LA CLAVIÈRE, Histoire de Louis XII, 4 Vols., Paris, 1889-93; Jeanne de France, Duchesse d'Orléans, Paris; Marie de Clèves, Duchesse d'Orléans, Paris.



DOM SEBASTIÃO(1554-1578)

KING OF PORTUGAL AND ALGARVE

Illustration

Dom Sebastião, King of Portugal and Algarve (1554- 1578)



"The very substance of Ambition is but the shadow of a Dream."
—Shakespeare

*

"De la mar las Trompetas
Chrimias, pitos, flautas
En voz formada le dizen,
General, embarca, embarca!"

—Portuguese verse.



IN the desolate and gloomy province of Traz-os-Montes, beyond the lovely Minho where sterile heaths and bare mountains afford a rugged livelihood to a wild and taciturn race, dwell the doomed and fantastic spectres that have fled the opulent graces of the Portugal that lies beyond the Sierra of the Marao. From the bleak, purple rocks of Traz-os-Montes rise the sharp ruins of Moorish castles which have stood thus forlorn beyond the memory of history, but not uninhabited, for in the colourless glow of dawn, at the chill fading of the twilight the phantom of the Moura incantada may be seen to lean from the pinnacles of broken splendour and gaze wistfully across the land her forefathers ruled as kings and conquerors.

This enchanted Mooress is believed to guard treasure rich beyond human computation and safe from human greed, for no one searching in the grandiose ruins has ever set eye or finger on the magic gold the sad wraith protects.

Sad she is, but not hostile to the race who have usurped her ancient domain, and behind her misty veils and moonshine jewels she glances with compassion at the lonely melancholy of the barren wastes and laments with unearthly cries any misfortune which overhangs the tempestuous kingdom of Portugal, which her countrymen so hardly won and so reluctantly relinquished.

Once only has the enchanted Mooress left these desolate haunts for the gay and delicious provinces that overflow with sun and flowers, and then she heralded the most tragic episode of the tragic history of Portugal.

On the twentieth day of January, 1554, a male child was born in the royal palace of Lisbon, grandson of the King, Dom João III, and of a more illustrious potentate, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, and heir of the line that had given already fifteen generations to wear the crown of Portugal as was promised by Our Lord to the mighty first King of Portugal, Alfonso Henriques, when he defeated five infidel monarchs at the battle of Campo d'Ourique in the year 1139.

Descended from the august line of Burgundy, the Portuguese sovereigns had been called of the line of Aviz, since Dom João I, Master of the great Order of Aviz, had been proclaimed King by the Cortes at Coimbra in 1383, and of the House of Vizeu, since the accession of Dom Manuoel the Fortunate, Duke of Vizeu, in 1495, in whose glorious reign the Indies and Brazil had been added to African conquests of the Portuguese navigators and the Portuguese chivalry.

This child was the great-grandchild of this Dom Manuoel, and, through his mother, the Infanta Juana, numbered among his ancestors the grand Dukes of Burgundy, Philip the Good and Charles the Bold, the Emperor Maximilian I and the illustrious houses of Leon and Castile united in the persons of Ferdinand and Isabella the Catholic: thus his forbears included most of the noblest rulers of Europe.

As his nurses hung over his rich cradle and his mother lay in her shadowed bed, weary among her scattered and prized yellow locks, listening to his praises, a tall and vague form was observed to glide in through the closed door and stand, like a gleaming darkness, by the infant's side.

The obscure face of this phantom expressed unspeakable woe, and wringing her hands she uttered dreadful lamentations above the tiny form of the newborn prince; at the same moment the lattices of the windows were burst open, as if by an invisible power or an unfelt, unheard wind, and a troop of sombre figures in Saracen attire rushed by on the night air waving smoky torches and wailing out miserable cries.

"It is the enchanted Mooress!" exclaimed the women in deep terror. And the Infanta, reaching out to protect the cradle from the melancholy apparition which hovered above it, fell insensible across the gleaming satin coverlet, rough with gemmed embroidery.

When she recovered, the sun was high in the sky and the violets in the palace garden sent perfume in through windows open on tranquillity, and the child was smiling in his guarded sleep.

But the Infanta learnt what had hitherto been concealed from her, that the celebrations of the birth of her son had interrupted the lamentations for the death of her husband, the Infante Dom João, whose timid spirit had left his feeble body eighteen days before his child was born.

The young mother, whose disposition was morbid and melancholy in the extreme, fell into an excess of gloomy grief and evinced no interest in her son; this daughter of Charles V had wished to enter a nunnery, but pride of family had triumphed over fanaticism and at her father's command she had journeyed willingly to Lisbon to marry her cousin, the Infante Dom João, the child of the Emperor's sister, Catalina, wife of the King of Portugal, Dom João III.

Continuous and perplexing intermarriages between these royal Houses of Spain, Portugal and Austria had enfeebled the resultant generations with dreadful maladies of mind and body; consumption, deformity, imbecility, madness and early death had begun to be the heritage of these rulers of the Old World and the New World, and the hideous taint of religious mania darkened the lives of those who survived.

The Infanta Juana, herself a sombre bigot, had believed that she was obeying the dictates of Heaven as well as those of the Emperor in her marriage, and she had cherished a melancholy affection for her moribund bridegroom; now that his suffering life was extinguished her thoughts reverted to her former gloomy desires, and she talked of retiring to one of those dismal retreats where so many Spanish princesses had worn out body and soul in austere mortifications and dark meditations in which prayers for the glory of their potent families were mingled with shuddering fears of hell fire.

She also decided to sacrifice on the altar of God her own personal beauty, the yellow ringlets that her dying lord had sometimes caressed with a faint pleasure.

Such were the parents of Dom Sebastião, sixteenth in line from the hero of Campo d'Ourique and sole heir to the immemorial honours of the House of Aviz and Vizeu.

Hereditary disease had robbed him of his father and hereditary pride robbed him of his mother; before her sombre God could claim her sole devotions, her sombre father summoned her to his service, which she considered as of only slightly secondary importance to that of the Almighty.

The women of the House of Hapsburg served their family in other ways than by their marriages and prayers, and Juana, forbidden to shear her golden hair and take the veil, returned to Spain to act as one of the Princes of her father's scattered kingdoms, and left her child, at whose birth the Moorish phantom had made her dreadful appearance, in the guardianship of his grandparents, the failing King João III and the Queen Catalina who had much of the energy and resolution of her brother, the Emperor Charles V.

The precious Infante was christened Sebastião in honour of one of the most romantic and popular of martyrs, and became at once the centre of the hopes of the Portuguese, for this last descendant of Alfonso Henriques and Sancho I, who had wrested this strip of land from the heathen, was the sole life that stood between them and absorption into the fearful power of Spain, that overwhelming neighbour who had achieved by marriage what she could not by conquest and whose Princes were now heirs presumptive to the throne of Portugal.

Queen Catalina lavished a scrupulous and ardent care on her grandson, who showed no traces of his feeble ancestry but was, in appearance at least, strong and intelligent.

But the King eyed him with morbid foreboding and was often heard to repeat that sixteen Kings and no more had been promised to his House, and that the apparition of the Moorish figures at his birth augured the most atrocious misfortunes.

Oppressed by these apprehensions João III sank into his last apathy; once, when Sebastião was brought to his bedside, the old man was drinking broth from a cup with an ornate cover; the child demanded some of this refreshment and a little was brought him in a simple bowl, upon which the proud Infante dashed his portion to the ground, screaming for a royal vessel crowned with a jewelled cover.

The dying and melancholy King drew further presages of evil from this arrogant behaviour; he felt also a premonition of the speedy resignation of his crown to the impetuous child; lamenting the decadence of his country and the barrenness of his House, the gloomy Sovereign resigned himself to the elaborate ministrations of a dominant priesthood and the dubious hopes of a sombre eternity spent in the dark heaven they promised.

He died in 1557 and was succeeded by Dom Sebastião, then aged three years.

The new King, who seemed already aware of his haughty importance, was delivered by the Cortes to his grandmother, who acted as Regent and governed both the King and the realm with that administrative ability so conspicuous in the women as well as in the men of the House of Hapsburg.

But though popular with the people the Queen was not without troubles; the brother of the late King, the Cardinal Infante Dom Henriques, a feeble, vindictive spirit, at once ambitious and timid, who was to go down to posterity with the pallid epithet, "the Chaste," commenced a secret and acrid struggle for the power.

After five years of these contentions, the Queen was wearied into relinquishing her authority and the meddlesome Cardinal was installed in her place.

By more subtle weapons than those he had employed in open contest, he had long occupied himself in secret intrigues which had as object the weaning of the boy King from the Queen and the undermining of her authority by every possible means.

This his position as uncle and priest enabled him to do with considerable success, the more so as he chose the easiest way of access to any young mind, that of flattery.

Sebastião, already surrounded by the reverence of courtiers, the servility of domestics, the obedience of soldiers and the homage of a nation, was further encouraged by the Cardinal to consider himself as an absolute monarch of unlimited power and most illustrious descent whose least wish none but the impious or the foolish would dispute.

Dom Henriques also contrived to surround his nephew with Jesuits, the principal of these being the royal confessor, Fray Luis Gonzales da Camara, whose brother, Martim Gonzales da Camara, was the King's tutor.

Thus early estranged from the one tender, feminine affection that ever touched his life, the boy grew up among priests, Jesuits and courtiers whose sole theme was the dread omnipotence of God and his Vicar at Rome and the glories of the Royal House of Portugal.

Dom Sebastião attained his majority at the age of fourteen, and, with no better training than that afforded by flatterers and fanatics, took into his own control the affairs of the kingdom that had recently been one of the most glorious in Europe.

He appointed his late tutor, Martim Gonzales da Camara, first minister, and troubled himself little more about the practical side of the governance of his realm.

He was now, what from his birth and education he might have been expected to be, instinctively a tyrant and unconsciously a fanatic, and imbued with all the pride of the Hapsburgs, who had striven so long and so stubbornly after the chimera of universal domination. He had the moral courage of one who has been taught that he is supreme and invincible, the special favourite of God, and the personal courage of a descendant of kings and warriors.

His natural disposition was generous, truthful and sincere; he held no traffic with any manner of meanness or low intrigue, he was neither suspicious nor cruel, his ideals were lofty and his conceptions grand; he was resolute and energetic and full of ardour for the noble and the elevated in thought and action.

These virtues were darkened by powerful defects; he was violent and sullen, his arrogance was unreasoning and unyielding, his judgment obscured by his passions; obstinate, headstrong and gloomy he passed his days in fierce physical exercise, in eagerly exploring or considering every novelty, or in sombrely brooding over enthusiastic plans of glory.

His manners were grave and morose, his whole cast of thought pious and austere, his habit of life simple and severe.

In appearance he was agreeable; his person was slight but strong, short in the body, his legs of a little inequality so that he limped, though almost imperceptibly, his arms and shoulders heavy and powerful.

He had inherited the dazzling Austrian fairness, his hair was as bright as the peculiar gold locks of the Emperor Maximilian and those burnished waves that fell on the brow of Philip the Handsome, his eyes were a clear and steady blue, the upper portion of his face well formed but marred by the heavy Burgundian jaw which the daughter of Charles the Bold had bequeathed to the House of Hapsburg; his mouth, over full, hung slightly open by reason of this defect and gave a disagreeable, even a sinister, expression to a countenance otherwise comely.

When his majority was declared he had already been for some years without any restraint or discipline whatever, for in 1562 Queen Catalina, weary of the irritating opposition and ceaseless intrigues of Dom Henri ques, had retired to Spain.

This sister of Charles V had had a tragic life even for an Austrian princess; born after the death of her father, Philip the Handsome, while the crazed Juana was travelling through snow with her husband's body by night, and shut away in gloomy solitude by day, she had spent her childhood with her mother in the dreadful prison palace of Tordesillas where the lunatic heiress to all the Spains was confined, and her girlhood had withered in an atmosphere of madness, suffering loneliness and dreary bigotry; her release had come when she had married João III, thus succeeding her sister, Eleonora, wife of Manuoel the Fortunate, as Queen of Portugal; of her nine children only one son survived infancy, and he, the father of Sebastião, perished on the verge of manhood, and now the jealousy of her feeble brother-in-law drove her away from the grandson she loved, and the solitary woman returned with an empty heart to the country where she had known nothing but gloom and sorrow.

Sebastião felt no affection for the only person who had really loved him; his nature was hard, his feelings towards women scornful and cold, and towards any one likely to thwart him angry and bitter in the extreme; he had readily learnt the lesson taught by his uncle, the lesson that every one should give way before the King, and that the royal command was only less in importance than that of God, of which indeed it was usually found to be an exact interpretation.

The King's mental education had consisted of nothing but religious instruction and a complete schooling in the deeds of his ancestors; but in bodily exercises he was remarkably proficient. Love of movement and peril made him ardent at the chase, at sword and lance tourneys, at manly games, at every kind indeed of virile effort of strength or skill; he grew extremely hardy, almost impervious to fatigue, despising luxury and even comfort, eager to affront dangers, and delighting to endure hardships. While he was yet a youth he was able to hurl lances for hours together without being sensible of the weight of the massive plate armour that he wore, or that of the heavy weapon he threw.

With all this he lived in a world of fantasy, he would talk for long periods, and with fire and intelligence, of battles, of voyages of discovery, of conquests, of miracles and knightly enterprises; and he would wander away, for the half-day at a time, in the parks, forests and hills surrounding his palaces, absorbed by visionary dreams of these same perilous, marvellous, magic explorations and fantastic achievements.

It seemed as if he had inherited all the high mounting dreams of his tempestuous ancestry, those dreams of Count Henriques who had changed an Earldom into a Kingdom, of his son, the mighty Alfonso Henriques, who had thrown this same Kingdom beyond the Tagus, taken Lisbon and scattered the heathen on the fields of Campo d'Ourique and Alcacer do Sal, of Dom Sancho who had conquered Algarve, and Dom Alfonso IV who had extinguished the Moorish power in the Peninsula at the battle of the Salado.

And that later hero, Dom João I, in whose reign Dom Henriques had extended the empire of Portugal to Madeira, the Azores and Africa, and who had turned back the Castilian invasion at Aljubarrota, and the splendours of the House of Vizeu under whose rule the Portuguese had discovered India, Brazil, and brought home all the enchantments, sumptuous delights and glittering wealth of the East; dreams here in plenty for a young King to inherit.

A King who was of Burgundian blood, descended from that gorgeous Prince Charles called the Bold who was so imposing and noble, so feared and so resplendent that when he was darkly slain in the tumult of the fight at Nancy men could not believe it possible that he had died like a common creature, and Maximilian of Hapsburg, who had longed to sail up the Bosphorus at the head of the chivalry of Europe and hurl the Turk from Constantinople.

For the administration of his Kingdom the King cared not at all; this remained in the hands of Martim Gonzales da Camara, who, though ambitious and clever, did nothing to arrest the rapid decline of the country, which had already considerably degenerated from the now almost fabulous days of the ancient triumphs of which the Portuguese boasted but which they could not emulate.

When he had reached his twentieth year Dom Sebastião had become in morals and manners a monk, in disposition and body a warrior, in soul and mind a visionary, and in everything an arrogant and obstinate tyrant.

There was some discord in this extraordinary combination of qualities which gave a sinister tinge to his character, as the underhung jaw gave a sinister effect to his expression; he was not loved by those who knew him, and the people shouted for him as the last scion of their royal House, not as Dom Sebastião.

The Court resembled a monastery, and the priests, above all the Jesuits, were everywhere powerful, and a corrupt and luxurious nobility, an indolent and easy peasantry everywhere crowded churches that sparkled with gems from the Indies, gleamed with ivories from Africa, and were perfumed with spices from Brazil, trophies procured by a sterner generation in a more vigorous age.

A favourite dwelling of the King was at Cintra, where his forefathers had raised a palace on the foundations of the Alhambra of the Moorish monarchs and where the ruins of a mosque overhung the craggy gorges of the granite ledges of one of the bold sierras of Estremadura.

The palace was of Christian architecture imposed upon Moorish, and had received embellishments from the pride and interest of several Kings, Dom Duarte, Dom Alfonso V, Dom João II and Dom Manuoel, who had finally completed the august residence in the ornate and rich style of the decadence of the Gothic period, but the building still owed grace and dignity to the elegant and delicate taste of the Saracens' culture once so deeply impressed on Portugal.

Here was the Sala das Armas, painted with the arms of seventy-four of the nobility whose blood had been deemed pure by Dom Manuoel, who was an exact herald and a haughty upholder of the dignities of rank, and here was a room adorned with an odd device of roses, magpies and the motto Por Bem which celebrated an incident of the reign of Dom João I, whose queen, Philippa of Lancaster, was supposed to have too readily listened to the Court chatter which was excited by the King's gift of a kiss and a rose to one of the English maids in her train.

The chapel was so magnificent with Oriental spoils and Western skill that to enter it was like stepping into a casket close packed with gems, and the library contained precious jewels of another kind, books, maps, globes and paintings, extolling the marvellous exploits of Magellan, Vasco da Gama, Dom Henriques, Diogo Cão, Bartolomeo Dias, and Pedro Alvares Cabral, the discoverer of Brazil, together with accounts of the wise deeds of the great Viceroy who in Goa wielded the sceptre of the Portuguese monarch, Alfonso Albuquerque. These books and maps were emblazoned in many colours, flushed with gold and adorned by drawings of monstrous beasts, giants, unicorns, hypogriffins and mermaids, comets, whales, wild men and peculiar fruits and sinister blooms that possessed properties of life and death as man's cunning might distil from them drugs to heal or drugs to slay.

Among these were old romances, sung once throughout Europe in many tongues struggling to the birth, the stories of King Arthur of Britain, of Guillaume Court Nez, of the other Paladins of Carolus Magnus, of the Seven Champions of Christendom and of the Cid, Don Ruy Dias, El Campeador.

These, bound in carved wood, or inlaid ivory, or pierced brass, and clasped by rose red carbuncles and translucent crystal, by turkis stained green with age and by rubies torn from the plumes of conquered Indians, were often in the hands of Sebastião and his companions in his musing walks abroad in the opulent palace and soft and shaded pleasure gardens.

The country over which he ruled was lovely to the extreme of loveliness and a fair setting for a King's dreams; the warm winds of Africa and the cool airs of the Atlantic fanned the Peninsula which knew no winter and whose most burning days were followed by cool nights, which was supplied with the purest of water, in gushing fountains, streams, wells and rivers, with the greatest abundance of rare and fine flowers, with the most fragrant and handsome of fruits, with forests of elegant and rich trees, with a sky for ever veiled with sunshine and fading from a soft azure to a warm violet, tinged like the sea that gently lapped the coast, with saffron, with amber, with clear green, with silver mist, and seldom defaced by dark storms.

When Sebastião leant from his horse-shoe arched windows, mused on his florid balconies, or stepped from his shaded galleries into his courts and terraces, he saw before him beauty so tender and peaceful, so voluptuous and soft, that strife, pain, disaster and even action seemed as distant here as in the island of the Lotus Eaters.

From fantastic basins of pale marbles, pink and yellow, the shafts of many fountains cooled the air heavy with sweetness and shaded by palms, agave, laurel and arbutus trees; lemon, orange, mulberry and citron grew in unrestrained profusion and a multitude of flowers softened their exotic perfume with odours finer and more frail; gorgeous blooms hung from the twisted balustrades of the palace and pressed against the lattices of the slender fantastic windows; hedges of aloes bordered the walks, the exquisite plumes of the weeping willow overspread the banks of pools filled with lilies, and the darker shades of cypress and pine trees rose above these into the blue warmth of the heavens; while deep grottoes overflowed with red roses.

Beyond the gardens were woods, of cork, chestnut and oak, the home of spotted deer, and beyond these again expanses of lavender, rosemary, juniper and myrtle, trails of periwinkle, where the silvery hues of these delicious shrubs mingled with the crimson blossoms of the ericas, the white, gold and purple of the cisti, and, in spring, with myriads of tulips, jonquils, narcissi and daffodils, while every stream was heavy with the lotus and every bank shaded by the wild azalea.

Butterflies of the most polished and vivid hues sparkled over this wilderness of delight, where variegated lizards glittering with metallic scales flashed through the perfumed undergrowth that swelled to the bare plain which reached to the ocean.

Such were the haunts that enfolded the dreams of Dom Sebastião, such the skies beneath which he pondered an endless succession of fantastic enterprises and vainglorious schemes, gilded by the luxurious loveliness of the scene and the unbounded autocracy of his position.

Black slaves, collared and belted in gold, guarded dusky pumas and sleek leopards in heavy cages, and monks in dark robes, whispering lugubrious prayers, passed beneath pea cotes where white peacocks thrust out their coroneted and peevish faces; passionate Arab horses fretted in the long cool stables, pages in scarlet with silver buttons tended the sly birds in the falconry, and armoured soldiers bearing the blazon of Portugal, the five shields with the five bezants chosen by the victor of Campo d'Ourique, kept guard day and night in the shadowed arcades of the slumbrous palace, where beauty was a spell on the senses.

Amid this bold magnificence, this indolent ease, the King lived a life of cold severity; his chamber was that of an anchorite, he suffered no body servants, his food was coarse, his attire rough, and every day, clad in ponderous mail, he performed his martial exercises.

For women he had an unnatural hatred, he considered them as little superior to the beasts; and, though of so passionate a temperament and living in so voluptuous a climate, he remained unmoved by all he had seen or heard of feminine seduction, and to all the schemes for his marriage that had been for years discussed he opposed an angry silence.

Dreaming among the drowsy white flowers of the cistus, or beside lotus strewn pools, beneath pale azure skies, hurling the spear with exultant strength, or wandering in the dark rich glades of cork trees the King's visions shaped to a definite form.

He resolved to snatch Africa from the Moors and drive the heathen from that continent as his ancestors had helped drive them from Europe, and he saw the Crescent borne backwards before the Cross carried by the chivalry of Portugal as it had been borne back on the fields of Campo d'Ourique, Alcacer do Sal and the Salado.

Portugal already possessed forts and strongholds on the African coast, relics of a brief ascendancy, and the ambitions of Dom Sebastião had been the ambitions of other Kings of the Peninsula.

This was not the age of chivalry, if indeed that epoch, like the golden age, is not a mere invention of man, and the perils and difficulties of such a design were manifest to any but the infatuate.

But Sebastião thought nothing of this, to him obstacles did not exist and contradiction was unsupportable.

Brooding in the scented thickets of Cintra, he believed that he saw vile monsters threatening him from behind the aloe and arbutus, and dragons such as ramped on the maps in the libraries curled beneath the myrtles and the lavender: he considering that these were sent by atrocious powers to tempt him from his great emprise, and this satanic resistance to his resolve further inflamed his ardour.

Once soldiers idling on the warm terraces heard ferocious cries come from the groves of citron and palm; rushing to the scented alleys they found the King striding over the body of a gigantic negro slave whom he had just slain and whose hot blood was gushing over the austere royal habit.

He sullenly declared that the monstrous wretch, leaping from an ambush, had attacked him, and he appeared to view his powerful victim with a sombre satisfaction.

The day soon came when, in exalted tones, his absolute resolve to establish the rule of Christ in Africa was confided to his confessor.

The Jesuit was, of course, completely acquainted with the workings of the royal mind, and had followed and encouraged, step by step, his enthusiastic aspirations; now that these had reached a climax, he wholeheartedly manifested his approval and promised the fanatic sovereign all the spiritual advantages possible to one who undertook such a holy task.

The Jesuit was, like Sebastião himself, utterly careless of actual conditions and disdainful of all practical considerations; he moved, not without nobility and singleness of mind, towards his one end, the Supremacy of the Church, of whose Head he was the sworn soldier, and applauded any design, however chimerical, that had the same goal in view.

All of the King's advisers, being of the like complexion, were of a like mind, and Sebastião was passionately urged to rouse the knighthood of Portugal to a triumphant assault on the stronghold of the Moors in Africa.

The youthful monarch was reminded not only of the dead heroes of his House who had preceded him on the fields of renown, but also of the living relatives, zealous in the cause of Christendom, who would assist him in his present splendid undertaking.

The Flemish Caesar had resigned native ambition to indulge native melancholy; by his retreat to the solitary convent of St. Yuste, where he brooded over the sumptuous Italian canvas that depicted the charming features of his wife, Isabel of Portugal, he had riven in twain the cumbersome Empire that the skilful marriages of the House of Austria had welded together; his brother, Ferdinand, now held dubious sway over the vague Roman Empire, and his son Philip had received as his portion the kingdoms of Spain and the heritage of Mary of Burgundy in the Netherlands, part of Italy, together with that share of the Indies a Spanish king might claim.

Sebastião and his counsellors hoped for generous and unquestioning help from both these potentates, and foresaw no difficulty in the way of the materialization of the visions the young sovereign had dreamed beside the lotus pools or under the myrtle crowned banks.

As a preliminary Sebastião decided to take the troop of soldiers he had been so diligently training, pikemen and arquebusiers, to his possessions in Africa, where the arms of Alfonso Henriques still flew above Ceuta, Tangiers and Mazagron, though other conquests, notably those of Alcacer Sequer, Azamor and Arzilla, had been abandoned by João III in favour of more valuable acquisitions in the Indies.

There were not wanting those advisers who implored the tempestuous young man to act patiently and prudently and contemplate the state of his country and that of Europe before venturing on an enterprise better suited to the early ardour of the Crusades, but Sebastião met such wise comments with a fury of obstinate arrogance, and left his flowery retreats, his fantastic musings, at Cintra, Coimbra and Lisbon, to embark, in the year 1574, for Tangiers.

Four years previously his Jesuit government had passed with his complete approval severe sumptuary laws intended to check the luxurious idleness of the populace; the amount of dishes on the table, of clothes in the press, of horses in the stable, of jewels in the casket, were sternly regulated. But these laws, at once too drastic and too easily broken, only served to bring ridicule on the ministers, and the people continued to enjoy the ease procured for them by the exertions of their forefathers, and which was, in this voluptuous climate, as delightful as it was natural.

The priests had lofty ideals before them in this effort to stem the tide of decadency by forcing a more austere and laborious mode of life, but it was an effort as hopeless as it was absurd; the brief splendour of Portugal was not to be revived by limiting the number of ragoûts on the citizens' tables, or the number of dresses in the noble's wardrobe; nor was the native indolence of a generation that had found life made soft and pleasant to be overcome by such appeals to their piety and religion as had prevailed with the grim warriors of a ruder age.

The evil that the sumptuary laws strove to repress was deep rooted; all the wealth of the Indies and Brazil poured into Portugal had served for little but to enervate the inhabitants in a state where there was neither trade nor banking, neither administration nor organization of any value; while gold, silver and gems were in daily use in the churches and the palaces, the government coffers were empty and the King found a difficulty in fitting out even this small expedition for Tangiers.

It was, however, successful inasmuch as Dom Sebastião received a triumphant welcome in the African city and was able to capture some Moorish sloops that had ventured incautiously near the coast.

The young King was at once impressed by the extent and difficulty of what he had undertaken and further confirmed in his enthusiastic determination to bring this to a glorious conclusion.

The vast burning hot country stretching beyond the Portuguese town, the tales he heard of the might of the Moorish kings, the capture of the heathen boats, the gross praises of his flatterers, the blessings of the priests, even the sight of his banners against the bright empty sky of Africa, all combined to turn his dreams, his hopes, his desires into an obsession deep as life.

He returned to Lisbon with but one object in view, that of leading an expedition into the interior of Africa.

Excited by the boastful tales of the courtiers and the sight of the Moorish prisoners, the people of Lisbon, the most beautiful capital in Europe, the ravishing Julia Feticitas of the Romans, received the King as a conqueror; he rode under balconies hung with goldshot tapestries from Flanders and soft-hued carpets from Persia, where acclaiming ladies cast down garlands of laurels and wreaths of myrtle and praised him with not insincere adoration, for Dom Sebastião, then twenty-two years old, skilled man-at-arms, skilled equestrian, exalted by his dreams, slender, erect and of that bright pale blondness that appeared almost angelic among those dark faces, was no unworthy figure for a people's admiration.

Proudly exulting in this applause as a foretaste of triumphs to come, Don Sebastião retired to his monastic life at Cintra and Coimbra, where he again spent his days in training his body in warlike essays and his mind in prayers and meditations in his glittering oratories and fairy scented walks.

He sent an appeal to Philip II of Spain, unfolding his plans and asking for men and galleys to assist in the overthrow of the heathen.

Meanwhile his wiser counsellors were vexing him with matrimonial projects. Marguerite de Valois was suggested, then one of the infant daughters of Philip II, who was eager to extend his influence by prudent marriages, after the manner of his House.

But Sebastião turned a sullen ear to all these proposals; his dislike of femininity amounted to a ferocity; he could hardly see a woman without a sneering glance or a muttered sarcasm about vanity and foolishness.

But the astute Philip was not to be deterred by reports of his nephew's peculiar disposition, he still hoped for him as a son-in-law and discouraged the Valois match, which was desirable politically but certainly not from the point of view of the character of the lady who, as wanton as she was lovely, was ill suited to be the wife of the austere and sombre youth who was so completely under the influence of priests and monks, chaste in his life and stern in his judgment; though these considerations had certainly not affected Philip's opposition to the French marriage.

Wary and prudent as he was, Philip even investigated the grandiose project of a descent on Africa; to establish a Christian power on the coast of that continent was, in the opinion of the King of Spain, eminently desirable, and he was not reluctant to allow the task to be undertaken at the expense of another monarch.

He put the scheme before the man whose military experience he valued so highly, the great general, the Duke of Alva.

No one could have been more staunch for the interests of the Catholic Church than this gloomy soldier, the friend of St. Teresa and the scourge of the heretic, but his advice was against supporting the fanatic proposal of Dom Sebastião.

He pointed out the immense power and superb organization of the Moorish kingdoms in Africa, the difficulties of warfare in an unexplored country, arid and burning, the vast expense and trouble of supplying the troops with food and water, and the probable total collapse of European methods when used against an unknown enemy in unknown regions.

It would be, in short, declared Alva, an enterprise in the dark, full of perils and dangers and quite beyond the powers of a boy like the King of Portugal.

Philip was convinced by this sage advice, but, according to his habit, dissimulated with his nephew.

Playing, as usual, for time, he returned dubious answers to the Portuguese envoy, Dom Pedro d'Alcora, only engaging himself to give one of his daughters to his nephew and the possible offer of a few galleys if these were not required to defend Italy against the Turks.

Meanwhile he wrote to Dom Sebastião urging him to modify, if not abandon his scheme, and at least not to risk his own person on heathen soil.

But the King of Portugal had received promises of help from another and most unexpected quarter.

Moulai-Ahmed-ben Abdallah, the Sultan of Morocco, had been lately chased from his country by his uncle, Abd-el-Melek, a man of singular ability, wide culture and rich experience, who had, indeed, the better right to the throne, as his nephew was illegitimate; he had also the support of the most potent of Mohammedan monarchs, the Sultan of Turkey, under whose banner he had fought, and whose friend he had become during the exile forced on him by the usurpation of his kingdom.

Moulai-Ahmed-ben Abdallah, after suffering four signal defeats, had fled, with a handful of cavaliers, to the Spanish fortress of Penon-de-los-Velez, where, however, he was not suffered to remain; in his distress the defeated Moor appealed to the King of Portugal, offering, in exchange for his alliance, considerable portions of the dominion he no longer possessed, and notably the fortress of Larache.

Dom Sebastião at once accepted these proposals, finding no dishonour in the alliance with an infidel, and probably intending, when Morocco was conquered, to see that none of it was returned to Moulai-Ahmed-ben Abdallah; almost beside himself with enthusiastic excitement and regarding the Moor's offer as an interposition of Heaven, the young King retired to the marvellous convent of Belem between Cintra and Lisbon, to prepare himself for his sacred expedition.

This sumptuous structure had been erected in memory of the voyage of Vasco da Gama to India in 1497 and was the mausoleum of the Royal House of Portugal.

The holy retreat was conceived in a theatrical Italian taste and adorned with every detail an exuberant and frivolous fancy could suggest; at once rich and trivial, flamboyant and graceful, Belem, surrounded by lemon groves and parterres of luxuriant flowers, was more like an Eastern pleasure palace than a Christian monastery; but Dom Sebastião noticed nothing of this incongruity, he had always practised his mortifications in the gay and coquettish, the soft and delicious surroundings which Saracenic culture had bequeathed to Portugal, and he knew of no other expression of Christian aspiration than these baroque churches.

There, in simple sarcophagi, placed, oddly, on the backs of elephants, rested the bodies of Dom Manuoel and his Queen, Dom João III and his eight children, and here in the warm shades of the enervating gardens Dom Sebastião listened to the monks' tales of the miracles of past times; that which he preferred being the tale of the ghost of Alfonso Henriques and his son Sancho marching up the aisle of the church of Santa Cruz, Coimbra, where the great Burgundian Earl was buried, and promising to the monks at tierce that he and his son would go to the aid of Dom João I, then attacking Ceuta, which promise was kept, the two phantom knights charging the Moorish ranks in silence on monstrous pallid horses while the Crescent sank before their ghastly onslaught.

Dom Sebastião delighted also to hear how the tombs of these heroes had been opened by Dom Manuoel fifty years before and the corpses found sweet and whole, robed in gold, and strewn with sprigs of myrtle and rue.

The uncorrupted body of Alfonso Henriques, with the battle scars on his face and the Earl's coronet on his head, had been armed and robed and placed on a throne covered with regal crimson, while over his shoulders was flung the voluminous mantle of the Order of Aviz, of which the reigning King of Portugal was permanent Grand Master.

Dom Manuoel had then done homage to his dead ancestor, kissing the hand as that of a king, and the feet as those of a saint; the same ceremony followed with the corpse of Dom Sancho, then both were returned to the resplendent tombs where Dom Sebastião had often knelt in veneration.

He himself rejoiced to wear the jasper red robe of Aviz, the military order formed after the Battle of Ourique, and to feel himself the spiritual as well as the earthly soldier of God.

Seated by one of the stone tanks filled with delicious cool water and sparkling with brilliant fish, or beside one of the fountains whose pure jets dewed the glossy leaves of orange and lemon trees, or beneath the exquisite veils of the willow and pepper trees, the young King would muse by the hour, his head, with the hot gold hair, bent above his locked white hands and his dreams so close and bright about him that the actual world was obscured.

Sometimes he would climb to the limit of the roundheaded pine woods that crowned the granite heights of Cintra, and there gaze across the barren and lonely sweeps of still country to the distant convent of Mafra and the yet more distant gleam of the Atlantic, with the longing gaze of one who yearns to outflyhisown horizon.

While Sebastião was thus hardening body with virile games and enervating his mind with fabulous fancies and romantic visions, Philip II was arranging a meeting with his nephew at Guadalupe with the double purpose of possibly obtaining Dom Sebastião as a sonin-law, and dissuading him from accepting Moulai-Ahmed-ben Abdallah's offer of alliance, supported as it was by but a few hundred Saracen cavaliers.

The young King received the invitation with reluctance, but dare not refuse it, as he still hoped for the assistance of Spanish galleys; he was further enraged against his uncle by the latter's approaching marriage with the Archduchess Isabella, a princess that Philip had recently proposed to Sebastião as a suitable bride, and by his return to the subject of the Valois marriage which he now supported, a particularly hateful theme to the King of Portugal and one that Philip was not dealing sincerely with, as he designed Dom Sebastião for one of his own daughters.

However, if the prudent King was not behaving in this instance with perfect loyalty, he appeared, in the main, kind and candid enough in his endeavour to turn his nephew from an enterprise which was so dark and doubtful, for, after Dom Sebastião, nothing stood between Philip and the coveted throne of Portugal but the feeble life of the Cardinal Dom Henriques; there were not wanting those, however, who declared that the Spanish King, knowing the obstinate and violent character of Sebastião, was only opposing him with the object of confirming him in his hot-headed resolve.

On Christmas Day, 1576, amid the splendours of the most impressive festival of the Church, the two Catholic Kings met at Guadalupe with the extreme of pomp and the most detailed ceremony.

In appearance they were not unlike; Philip had the same heavy jaw, the same fiery gold hair, the same fair white skin, the same slender figure, but he had lived in the cabinet, not the salle d'armes, and his body was as wizened as his mind was alert; he shared Dom Sebastião's obsession for the Catholic Faith and the power of the family to which they both belonged, but he served these with a caution, a prudence, a dissimulation, a profound secrecy that were entirely alien to the stormy character of the Portuguese King.

Philip received his nephew with much affection, giving him the title of "Majesty," to which the Portuguese monarchs had never aspired before, and lodging him in apartments hung with arras stiff with bullion and furnished with Brazilian woods carved in flowing arabesques, beds covered with sheets of scarlet silk and blankets of white wool and quilts of satin and velvet from the Netherlands that sparkled with jewelled embroideries, while the meanest vessel that touched the King's hand was of rock crystal, fine porcelain, or carved silver.

Despite these compliments, however, despite their common blood, rank, faith and interests, the two Kings took an instant dislike to one another; even their mutual bigotry not serving to bring them together on any one point.

Philip found his nephew morose, sullen in manners, violent and obdurate in temper, haughty in the extreme, and in everything unyielding and arrogant, while Sebastião found his uncle cautious, cold and crafty, full of fine words and little else.

To satisfy in some degree his passionate guest Philip promised five thousand soldiers and fifty galleys, on the condition that Sebastião did not penetrate to the interior of the country but contented himself with occupying Larache, the fort promised by his Saracen ally.

On this the monarchs parted, and with such ill will that Philip, though the most ceremonious of men, decided not to pay his nephew the compliment of accompanying him a part of the way home.

On the morning of Sebastião's departure, however, the Spanish King repented of his discourtesy and escorted his nephew on his way home with many expressions of politeness that the thwarted youth found difficult to return.

The promise of the men and galleys did not materialize. Philip II excused himself by the facts of the menaces of the heretic in Flanders and those of the Turks in Italy, and abandoned Sebastião to his own folly, saying, it was rumoured:

"Well, if he succeeds, we shall have a fine son-inlaw, and, if he fails, a fine kingdom."

Always liberal with good advice, however, Philip sent the Duke of Medina Coeli to Lisbon with prudent counsels as to the proposed crusade.

The occasion of this embassy was the death of Queen Catalina, who had returned to Portugal out of a pathetic affection for her nephew, and who, on her death-bed, and with her last words, had besought her grandson to abandon the expedition, mingling with her sad entreaties wailing prophecies of doom and recalling in terror the appearance of the Moura incantada beside the cradle of Sebastião.

The young King viewed with indifference the death of the only relative who had disinterestedly loved him, and, dry-eyed, saw her consigned to her tomb in the gaudy church of Belem.

With the same hardness he rebuked the advice proffered by Medina Coeli, a second envoy, the Count of Andrada, and in the letters sent by Philip and the Duke of Alva.

Instead of listening to these sage counsels, Sebastião endeavoured to obtain assistance elsewhere; finding that the Pope would give nothing more substantial than a Bull permitting him to lead a crusade, the King applied to William of Nassau, Prince of Orange, one of the great nobles of the Empire, and to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, for mercenary soldiers; he was particularly short of men, for his own best troops were holding the Portuguese possessions in the Indies.

The German negotiations resulted in only a few men, but Sebastião obtained the promise of a small number of Italians; he also enlisted some Spaniards at his own costs, and, in his own dominions, raised ten thousand troops, mostly infantry, for a numerous cavalry was impossible to obtain; many even of the great nobles joined the expedition on foot.

The enthusiastic Jesuits and their party which composed the government found it a matter of peculiar difficulty to find the cost of the enterprise; extraordinary taxes on the people brought in little but curses, and a demand for a third of the revenue of the churches for this holy cause elicited a refusal; a gift of fifty thousand ducats was, however, obtained from the wealthy but thrifty priests.

A further contribution of a hundred and twenty-five thousand ducats was extorted from the newly converted Jews, who were promised, in return for this robbery, this dubious benefit: that, if they fell under the displeasure of the Inquisition, they should not be, as usual, despoiled of the whole of their properties.

The nobles were also obliged to contribute a portion of their worldly goods in this sacred cause, and showed themselves as unwilling as the peasants, the priests and the Jews; cries of rage and opposition went up all over the country and the popularity of Dom Sebastião and the Jesuits underwent a severe eclipse.

None of these means procuring sufficient money, probably through the difficulty of enforcing an unpopular law in a disorganized country, the King raised the tax on salt and debased the coinage (that last expedient of incapable rulers) by declaring Castilian money to be coin of the realm, and to be worth a ninth more than the face value.

With all this Dom Sebastião had not sufficient coin in hand to be able to pay the Grand Duke of Tuscany for all the arranged troops, only a few of which were therefore sent.

At this moment a strange adventurer appeared in the port of Lisbon, an Englishman whose name, written down by foreigners, has been preserved as Thomas Esternulie, but was perhaps Stirling or Stukely; this personage had lately been created Marquis of Leinster by the Pope, and was in command of a Genoese ship conveying seven hundred Italian subjects of the Pontifical States to Britain.

His enterprise, and perhaps his character, was much the same as that of Dom Sebastião; he was sailing to Ireland where he intended to fight the heretics who had proclaimed Elizabeth Tudor Queen of England. When this band of enthusiasts put into Lisbon, Dom Sebastião was in the full excitement of his preparations and at once suggested to the zealous Marquis that he should take service with him for the African crusade, the more so as he was delighted with the well-equipped, well-drilled men under the Englishman's command.

The priests added their persuasion, pointing out that it was, in the eyes of God and His Holiness, as admirable to combat the Infidel as the heretic, and that Ireland was an even more unknown quantity than Africa and English heretics far more savage enemies than the most ferocious of Saracens.

These persuasions being augmented by pay in advance, the little troop entered the service of the King of Portugal and swelled the number of the few foreign soldiers accompanying him in his daring expedition. Meanwhile Moulai-Ahmed-ben Abdallah, who had taken refuge in Tangiers, continued to press Dom Sebastião to hasten his preparations, declaring that the moment the Christian army touched African soil all the inhabitants would leave the Sultan of Morocco to make terrified submission to the King of Portugal. He advised, however, that His Majesty should not himself lead his soldiers because in this case the friendly Saracens would fear that he intended, not merely to dethrone the Sultan of Morocco, but to bring the whole country under Christian rule.

This was, of course, the real intention of Dom Sebastião, and his ally had no doubt guessed it, but the Moor's insinuations were powerless to stem the rush of the youth's ambitions, now further inflamed by the actual movement and excitement of extensive and tumultuous preparations for a project that had so long been the centre of his dreams.

The Portuguese nobility began to share in the illusion of a glorious achievement readily to be accomplished, of rich honours and rewards easily to be obtained, and of a unique occasion for the display of pomp and magnificence.

The facile temperament of the people, gay, splendourloving, enthusiastic, was now swayed to the warm support of the crusade; the sumptuary laws of 1570 were ignored, and the aristocracy who had grumbled about contributing to the costs of the expedition now eagerly spent the best part of their fortunes in equipping themselves to join it; this task was undertaken with more zeal than judgment; money was spent, not on arms or weapons, but on doublets of quilted silk, on mantles florid with needlework, on hats with long and brilliant plumes, on tapestried tents and coverlets of gold work; no thought was taken of the climate and conditions of Africa, and, while no provision was made for the supply of water or bread, cases of heady wines and sweet conserves, the luscious pastries beloved by the Portuguese were packed together with cumbrous goblets of precious metals inset with topaz and malachite, elaborate covers of pierced silver, spoons with amber and agate handles, down cushions and embroidered quilts; the tents were interlined with pale silks and festooned with stiff gilt fringes, the tent furniture was of velvet, of damask and carved sweetwood. Each noble vied with his peer in this careless magnificence, and in some instances the last ducat of a prosperous fortune went on this pompous display.

These ardent young Portuguese cavaliers had caught the infectious enthusiasm of the King, but their visions were more earthy, their aims lower indeed; they foresaw themselves rifling unknown cities of fabulous wealth, dreamt of incredible plunder, sacks of pearls, vases of diamonds and rubies, ingots of silver, aigrettes clasped by carbuncles, and satin vests sewn with emeralds; they saw the Crescent torn down from costly minarets and voluptuous odalisques ravished from the trembling hands of eunuchs, whilst heathen slaves cast full length before them proffered the elegant keys of the Sultan's treasury.

Each cavalier being thus absorbed in his own sumptuous preparations, there was no one to superintend the welfare of the private soldiers; these, with the exception of the small troop Dom Sebastião had trained himself, and the handful of Papal subjects commanded by the English adventurer, were raw forced levies, ill fed, ill armed and unwilling.

The King had absolute command over this curious army and brooked neither advice nor opposition, nor did he give any thought to any kind of organization or to any detail of his enterprise; now that his teeming dreams were about to be realized he was so exalted with delight as to be incapable of any measure of prudence, reason or judgment; insanity was in his glittering heritage and insanity seemed now to gleam in the hard blue eyes and to lurk in the curl of the full mouth as he knelt for hours in his oratory, in a rapt confusion of mingled prayer and vision; or spent whole nights in vigils in the thickets of agave and myrtle at Cintra.

He had been further fired by the applause of the impetuous young chivalry he had gathered round him and by the incessant praise of the priests and the promises of unearthly bliss showered on him by the Jesuits.

Nor can any doubt that, if the expedition had been successful, it would have been of the greatest benefit, not only to Portugal, but even more to Spain, with her Mediterranean coast, to have Christianity established in littoral Africa.

Though it was already June, full harvest, and the heat intense even in Portugal with her ceaseless gushes of cool water, her temperate nights, Dom Sebastião resolved to sail as soon as his fleet could be made ready, for he had been thrown into the last fury of excitement by the news that the fortress of Arzilla, abandoned by the Portuguese in 1549, had been betrayed by the Caid in command there to the Governor of Tangiers; this treason seemed an earnest of further bloodless successes, and there was no longer any restraint in the anticipations of the Portuguese knights or to the restless impatience of their King.

On the fourteenth of June, 1578, he repaired, with an imposing following of these gorgeous nobles, now glittering in the apparel they had bought for the triumphant entry into Fez, to the Basilica de Santa Maria, the major church of Lisbon, the Sé originally founded by Dom Alfonso Henriques with an English crusader, Gilbert, for first bishop.

Here was buried Dom Alfonso IV, and here were preserved the relics of St. Vicente which two ravens first guarded then guided from the cape that bears his name, and here had been murdered Dom Martimho, a disloyal bishop who had favoured the Castilian pretensions against Dom João, Master of Aviz.

The romanesque building, with the pointed doors and richly moulded arches, the slabs of pink Peropinhiero marble, and the dark chapels, overflowed with packed splendour broken by the southern light and warm shade cast by the vivid glass of the high windows as all the bloom and flower of Portuguese manhood poured into the sacred quiet to attend the august ceremony.

The King, in complete plate armour encrusted with curls of gold and damascened with ornate black designs, wearing the heavy crimson mantle of the Master of Aviz, and bareheaded, knelt before an altar superb with sparkling pomp of gems and silks and soft with waxen lights of perfumed yellow candles.

His friend, Dom Christoram de Tavora, held his huge shining helmet where the snarling lips of a lion clasped the flowing panache of blue feathers and the hard bright polished steel was encircled with the foliated gleam of a regal crown.

Dom Sebastião held, in his own long white hands, his standard, which, in the close air, drooped on to the soft carpet of the altar steps; this bore the five shields for the five infidel Kings, each charged with five bezants for the Five Wounds, chosen by the victor of Campo d'Ourique in honour of the celestial vision that had led him to victory, and the Seven Towers of Dom Fernando the Handsome.

Dom Sebastião's bent head was as vivid a gold as any ornament in that brilliant assembly, and his blond complexion showed a pure pallor which intensified the glittering blue of his fanatic eyes; amid those swarthy faces and rich black locks, the Northern fairness of the young King gave him an unearthly look; his figure was both noble and graceful, his pose heroic, but in the defective mouth, in the restless glance of those pale lashed eyes, in the nervous twitch of his hand on the standard pole were indications more of hysteric frenzy than of calculated courage.

Only when the Archbishop, bowed beneath the weight of his sumptuous vestments, gay with the daring colours of Oriental embroidery, had blessed the flag, did the King reluctantly relinquish the precious symbol to his standard-bearer, Dom Luis de Menezes.

The King had allowed it to be believed that, on the conclusion of this brilliant ceremony, he would return to his palace, but when he left the Sé it was to leave Lisbon and embark on board his fleet which was anchored at the mouth of the Tagus, though this could not be ready to sail for some days.

He took up his residence on board his galley and hastened, by every means in his power, the final preparations for the Crusade.

In his baggage was a coffer containing a mighty open crown he was to wear as Emperor of Morocco, and one of his chaplains, Fray Fernam da Silva, spent these last days in composing and committing to memory an imposing piece of rhetoric to be delivered as a sermon before His Majesty when the first Christian service should be held in the purified mosque of Fez.

On the twenty-fourth of June, 1578, the fleet, which consisted of more than eight hundred sails and was under the command of Admiral Diogo de Sousa, sailed from the Tagus, wafted by breezes drowsy with the perfume of citron and lemon, herbs and fruit, luscious, over-ripe, reflected in waters of a hyacinthine blue, lit by a sun that powdered the soft azure of the heavens with gold, and acclaimed by the thousands who filled the streets and crowded the amber and rosy heights of the most delicious city in Europe.

Few indeed were the families that had not sent of their best to grace this expedition; all the heirs to the most spotless names in Portugal, all the young chivalry and aristocracy of the country were on board the laden galleys, even to boys of twelve and thirteen, like the Duke of Barcellos, heir of the ancient House of Braganza.

And among the less considered men-at-arms was the finest manhood of Estremadura, of Traz-os-Montes and Biera; no young bachelor, nor robust farmer, nor lusty sailor had been allowed to escape; the fleet literally contained all the manhood of the country; only the old, the feeble, the diseased, the monks, the beggars, the slaves and those at once cowardly and cunning enough to lurk in concealment, remained behind.

A favourable wind ruffled the violet blue of the ocean into the violet blue of the sky and the navy slowly passed the embattled myrtle groves, the hanging rose gardens, the pale ochre and pink marble castles, villas and churches with their purple shadows, of the capital all now bright with the veils and waving scarves of laughing, weeping women, and sombre with the robes and outstretched crucifixes of praying monks.

The fleet passed the intricate delicacy of the palace and fantastic convent of Belem, and sailed along the coast of Estremadura, where almond, fig and plum grew in profusion and the lands, instead of bearing corn, were tangled with wild vines, past heaths sweet and drowsy with the pungent perfumes of lavender and rosemary, and so round Cape de Sagres and along the flat coast of Alemtejo, where they were not far from the sight of the battle of Campo d'Ourique, behind the sierra of Caldeirao.

The small ornate churches gemmed the headlands, towerless but with a wall rising above the porch, pierced with windows in which hung great bells against the landscape framed in the aperture, and storks nested on top; these same bells clanged triumphantly across the stretches of flowery fields as the magnificent fleet passed through an ocean lashed into curdling foam to their high destination.

As they passed the Kingdom of Algarve where the bold and hardy mariners came from, the coast line became wilder and more rocky, broken with dark caves and jutting promontories till the gloomy grandeur of Cape St. Vicente was reached where a desolate convent gloomed on the steep cliff which thrust fiercely forward into the sea—Promontoriam Sacrum, with Sagres at one end of the curve and Cape St. Vicente at the other. Dom Sebastião could not fail to recall, as he gazed on these barren heights scantily clothed with juniper scrub, that at Sagres had lived Dom Henriques, called the Navigator, that here he had had his observatory and from here he had sent his ships across the unknown waters of the Atlantic to discover Madeira, the Azores and the west coast of Africa. At Lagos the fleet put in to embark the Algarve troops, the most skilled and hardy sailors of the Peninsula; then immediately resumed the voyage.

The rich and lovely land was now left behind, the last sight of Portugal was that of these grim heights and stretches of barren sand; these gradually disappeared on the purple horizon and the fleet steered for Cadiz, there to wait for the hoped-for help from the King of Spain, in whom Dom Sebastião was still infatuate enough to put his trust.

Valuable time was lost in this vain delay and it was not until the sixth of July that the fleet arrived at Tangiers where Dom Sebastião met his ally, the dethroned Sultan of Morocco, Moulai-Ahmed-ben Abdallah, with his small contingent of Saracen cavalry.

Here the young King lost more time, for he spent three days in galloping over the plains near Tangiers, with a handful of knights, risking a wretched end in an ambuscade and accomplishing nothing but the gratification of his love of adventure, for he hoped to meet some Saracens and overcome them single-handed, as he had overcome the negro in the gardens of Cintra, when he had come dreaming from his chamber painted with ships in sail, and sirens with coral and pearl in their enticing hands.

But no enemy showed on the burning plains and Dom Sebastião reluctantly embarked for Arzilla, the Moorish fort that had lately been betrayed into his hands; this little town being unable to contain the army, more than two thousand tents were erected without the walls; Dom Sebastião disdained to protect this encampment, for he was convinced that the Moors would never dare attack where they saw the banners of the King of Portugal floating; an attitude in which he was encouraged by the priests and flatterers that crowded round him with adulation. For twelve days the expedition remained at Arzilla waiting for the baggage, and during this period no heed was taken of any military discipline; the Portuguese behaved as if they had already obtained a signal victory, and the revels of the nobles mingled with the carousals of the soldiers and the perpetual prayers, chants and bell ringing of the priests during the clear brazen nights that succeeded the blazing brazen days.

Quarrels marred these feasts and disturbed the masses, and in the midst of this confusion the brother of the Sultan of Morocco, Moulai-Ahmed-ben Mahommed, attacked the camp; this onslaught was however repulsed by Moulai-Ahmed-ben Abdallah and Dom Duarte de Menezes, commander of the Tangiers cavalry. The King, hearing of the skirmish, rushed to the scene of action and had the intense joy of pursuing the flying Moors across the sands, and of writing to the Council of Regency in Lisbon and announcing his success in the most bombastic and glowing of terms; this vanity was, however, sincere, for he believed in the grandeur of his own destiny.

The Sultan of Morocco at this juncture sent a prudent letter to the rash invader, reproaching him for his alliance with Moulai-Ahmed-ben Abdallah who had frequently shed Christian blood, and proposing a treaty honourable and advantageous to himself, to Dom Sebastião and to the pretender.

To this dignified missive Sebastião did not deign to reply, but tossed it with contempt and his displeasing smile to his pages, priests and courtiers as a proof of the terror the mere sound of his name inspired in the infidel monarch.

He now decided on immediate action, and rejected both the plan of reducing Larache by sea and that of marching along the coast with this object, keeping the fleet always in view, in favour of marching directly inland and attacking Alcacer-el-Kebir, traversing the river Louccos and gaining finally Larache, where the Admiral de Sousa was ordered to repair with the fleet to await the victorious army which would soon arrive on the heels of the defeated rabble of the Infidel.

This foolhardy and unreasonable scheme was not without opponents even among the immediate and intimate companions of the King; the Conde de Vimioso argued desperately in favour of always keeping sight of the fleet, at once store house and hospital, and of refraining from exploring an unmapped country occupied by an enemy and of a torrid climate where every condition and every direction was unknown.

But Dom Sebastião refused to listen to this protest, and, on 29th July, the camp at Arzilla was broken and the Portuguese army marched into the interior of the country.

At this moment a letter from the veteran Alva, full of good counsels, was delivered to the King, who received the advice of the astute warrior with complete indifference and confidently pursued his own plan, the ultimate success of which he did not doubt for an instant; he counted on being at Larache in five or six days' time and had with superb carelessness only taken provisions for that period.

The difficulties of the march were at once found to be overwhelming; not only was the country alien and the heat stifling, but the men, contrary to the advice of Moulai-Ahmed-ben Abdallah, were armed in heavy plate and cumbered with useless luxuries; there was an annoying shortage of horses, and the slow, painful, hampered progress of the Christians was further harried by the glancing attacks of the lightly armed Moroccan horsemen, who dashed like a cloud of hornets on the lumbering army, attacking them with impunity and at once disappearing on their fleet Arab mounts into the golden distance.

By the second day the exhausted army was only a few leagues from Arzilla, already fainting with the heat and suffering from thirst; most reluctantly Dom Sebastião resolved to return to the fleet and sent Alfonso Correia back to Arzilla with a message to Dom Diogo de Sousa to await to embark the army and then to proceed to Larache by sea.

But the officer found the blazing blue ocean bare of sails: the Admiral had exactly executed the order of the King and repaired to Larache.

When Correia and his little escort returned to the impatient King with this bad news, Dom Sebastião, now in a position that would have taxed an able general, resolved to continue his arduous progress across this unknown country, following the banks of the Oued-Makhazem, a branch of the river Louccos.

The Christians were now completely abandoned to their own resources; the food was nearly gone, the rivers, save the Louccos, were dried up, and the fierceness of the heat increased from day to day; with the heavy carts and clumsy baggage it was difficult to ford the Louccos, and therefore to reach their objective, Larache.

The one hope for the Christians lay in remaining near these rivers, in finding means to ford them, and in pursuing their way to Larache, which, feebly garrisoned, could soon be taken and where the fleet would be awaiting them.

But Dom Sebastião preferred to abandon the river, his sole supply of water, and to advance into the torrid country to hurl himself upon the entire Moroccan army which was gathered before Alcacer-el-Kebir; when the Sultan's scouts brought this news to him, he exclaimed: "Then the King of Portugal is lost indeed!"

His ally, the ex-Sultan, was amazed at this resolution, from which he tried to dissuade him by saying that Abd-el-Melek had but a few days to live and that it would be wise to wait his death; Dom Sebastião took no heed and pressed forward into the interior of the country towards the main force of the enemy.

The heat was now so terrible that dry sand and dry sky dazzled in one hard white light; the Portuguese, lacking food, lacking, as soon as they had left the river, water, fell stifling and choking on to the baked ground; monks, sweating in their serge robes, dropped moaning beneath the weight of crucifix and Holy Vessels. Such as had broached the casks of wines became delirious and fell foaming at the mouth; some in a kind of madness fought each other; while others, tortured beneath the load of burning mail, uttered maledictions from parched lips, curses on the King, and prayers for a quick death.

But Dom Sebastião was oblivious of these signs of disaster; he was, he believed, within a few hours of the great victory that should crown him with immortal glory and he thought of nothing else but this approaching triumph.

On the night of 3rd August, while the groans of the tormented soldiers saddened the hot darkness, Dom Sebastião, surrounded by his priests and his flatterers, his pages and his favourites, was laughing and jesting in an excitement near frenzy, which alternated with moments of religious enthusiasm when he cast himself before the temporary altar erected in his tent, or clasped the Cross hung above his camp bed, reviving the lonely transports of the Siren Chamber on the sweet thickets at Cintra.

Despite the advice given by the ex-Sultan not to attack till the stupendous heat of the early day was past, orders were issued to fall on the enemy as soon as darkness was over; the King was intolerant of any delay in the coming of his mighty triumph.

It was 4th August, 1578, when the two armies found themselves face to face on the torrid plain, Abd-el-Melek having boldly advanced to meet the enemy who was menacing his country and his religion in a fashion so unjust and so outrageous.

The Sultan of Morocco was in every way the superior of Dom Sebastião, as his forces were in every way superior to the Portuguese army. This was indeed generally the case in the long wars between Christianity and Islam; most moral and mental advantages were on the side of the heathen.

Abd-el-Melek was an able statesman, a valiant soldier, an experienced general, a man of a lofty understanding, remarkable culture, a wise, just and humane spirit. He was, however, dying, as his nephew had told Dom Sebastião, either of a mortal disease or of poison administered by some traitor in his train.

Under no doubts as to his fate, he bequeathed his kingdom to his brother, Moulai-Ahmed-ben Mahommed, and gave orders that he should be carried in a litter to the battle that was to decide the fate of Islam in Africa, and that of the kingdom of Morocco.

He arranged his forces on the vast plain before Alcacer-el-Kebir, disposing many of them, an immense number of cavalry, behind the slight range of hillocks in which he had stuck branches; this artifice deceived the Portuguese who made no use of scouts or spies.

The rest of his army was disposed in the form of a crescent, the points of which were ready to spread out, dart forward and completely surround the enemy.

These Moorish troops were well fed, excellently disciplined, the cavalry mounted on swift horses, lightly armed in chain mail and protected from the glowing heat by fine veils of muslin and silk gauze; they were under the command of able officers and were fighting not for plunder, visions or glory, but for the protection of their country and faith so wantonly attacked—more solid incitements, perhaps, than those of bigotry or visionary fantasies. They numbered forty thousand cavalry, fifteen thousand infantry, besides numerous Arab troops of horsemen which kept up the guerrilla warfare in favour of the Sultan; they had forty pieces of cannon and were armed with muskets.

The King of Portugal could dispose of fifteen thousand infantry, two thousand five hundred cavalry, and thirty-six cannon.

Half the infantry was Portuguese, the rest Spanish, German and Italian mercenaries, while among the cavalry were a few Italians and the few followers of the deposed Sultan, these last the only men reasonably equipped, the others being loaded with armour and heavy weapons; all the rank and file were ill fed, undisciplined, discontented, overwhelmed with the heat and the glare of the void sky and barren ground.

At dawn, Dom Duarte de Menezes perceived the design of the enemy who were already moving to surround them, and sent a message to the King to ask his orders in view of this discovery.

Within the tent of scorching purple silk, festooned with now tarnished fringe and tinsel cord, where the royal banner hung featureless in the still dry air, Dom Sebastião was kneeling before the crucifix fastened above the low couch where he had not slept; he was armed cap-à-pie, and beside him was Dom Christoram de Tavora, his young favourite.

The temperate life of the King, his exalted mood and his long training in supporting hardships had rendered him less liable than most of his army to the terrible fatigues of the Crusade; he had appeared insensible to the miseries that had overwhelmed so many.

But now the hot, clear light of the African morning entering the close murk of the tent showed him deathly pale with shadowed eyes and damp forehead.

On hearing the message from Dom Duarte de Menezes, he clattered to his feet, said that he would give orders for a general attack, but jealously added that no troop was to move without his personal command. He then snatched the crucifix from the tent pole, rushed out into the brazen sunshine and sprang on to the saddle of the great black horse his pages had held in readiness since dawn.

The waiting companies of Portuguese nobles received him with loyal acclamations that drowned the murmurs of the soldiers behind them, and the King, holding aloft the crucifix, commanded the chaplain behind him to ring the Ave Maria.

The infantry fell on their knees and the cavalry bent over their saddles at the sound of the holy bell; the King resigned the Cross to the friar and bowed himself to his horse's mane, the gold circle round his helmet and his huge plumes alike brilliant in the ruthless glare of the sun that blazed on the praying army.

The Moroccan artillery had already fired a volley; the King turned and charged with all his chivalry, when the hidden cavalry of Abd-el-Melek sprang into view and rushed on the Christians, throwing their ranks into disorder.

Dom Sebastião now gave the signal for a general attack by shouting and waving his sword; but he was only seen or heard by a few of the nearer troops and therefore only followed by the nobles who immediately pressed round his standard.

The Portuguese chivalry charged with great fury and intrepid courage and with such impetuous force that the whole glittering mass of mailed men and mailed horses, fluttering pennons and brown surcoats and plumes and brandished weapons penetrated the main ranks of the Moorish centre even to the place where the ghastly face of the Sultan gazed from between the silken curtains of his litter guarded by his personal attendants.

Had this audacious charge been supported by the advance of the entire Christian army, Dom Sebastião would probably have gained the victory of his ecstatic visions, achieving by fanatic heroism what prudence would never have attempted.

But not only had he commanded that no action should be undertaken without his express orders, but in the wild excitement of the battle and his personal encounters he forgot to give these orders, so that some of the battalions remained inactive and others only put up a confused defence when attacked; however, even without these reinforcements the desperate charge of the cavalry might have overwhelmed the Moors, if by evil fortune the leader of the advance guard, Pedro de Lopes, had not turned about in the melee and perceived the error of his own general and the genius of the enemy; the Sultan's orderly troops were performing their preconcerted evolutions and enclosing the Christian forces, many of which remained passive, awaiting the orders of the King. Pedro de Lopes therefore, seeing himself separated from the main body of the army and hemmed in by the enemies, gave the fatal order—"Stop! Stop! Turn back!" just as his men were about to seize the Moorish artillery.

Nothing could have been more fatal; all the effect of the impetuous heroics of the cavalry was lost, the courage of the troops ebbed to a touch of panic; the retreat ended in a chaos, and the intrepid band of cavaliers surrounding the King were left isolated in the midst of the foe.

The commands of Pedro de Lopes were the signal of defeat; the dying Sultan took instant advantage of the Christian confusion and ordered an attack on their artillery; the commander of the guns, Pedro de Mesquita, in vain sent for help, no messenger could penetrate the pell-mell of the fight, and all the cannon were captured while their defenders were slain or fled.

"Not one of us will escape to-day!" cried the Spanish Captain Aldaña as he saw the Moorish hosts surround advance guard, wings, centre and rear-guard of the Christian army, who were now so hurled upon each other, struggling horse and agonized man, that there was not room to raise an arm in the horrid press. These troops that had received no orders to attack had now to defend themselves against the onslaught of the Moors, while the cavalry that had followed the King were struggling, completely outnumbered, in the very centre of the Saracen forces.

The Duke of Aveiro, true to his noble blood, was struck down in a charge as valiant as hopeless, and all the pride of Portugal was falling like leaves before a whirlwind.

Dom Sebastião again and again charged the African ranks, each time returning with fewer followers and leaving the youthful heirs of the famous Houses of Portugal to be trampled into the hot sand, caked now with blood and scattered with torn magnificence.

Dom Antonio, Prior of Crato, forced a difficult way to the Royal side, crying: "Courage, courage! The Sultan is dead!"

This was true; Abd-el-Melek had died in his litter but not before he had been assured of the victory for which his resolution and genius had provided, and the battle in which the invaders had so presumptuously engaged turned into a rout and a massacre. It was indeed no longer a combat on equal terms, for the Portuguese, outmatched, outwitted in every way, had nothing left save the courage with which they died; cavalry and infantry fell in heaps, choked in their heavy helmets, stifled in the dry sand, pierced with javelins, balls and sword thrusts, weighed down by steel armour and ponderous trappings, and their cries of despair and anguish mingled with the exultant shouts of the Africans, which rent the glittering turmoil of the massacre.

The King still lived.

His crowned head flashed through the disaster as a star through the horrors of a tempest. With unyielding strength, with unbending courage he had once more and once more hurled himself on the heathen until his followers had been reduced to a mere bleeding, tattered handful of dying cavaliers; everywhere he cast his frantic glance he saw his subjects, dead, dying, flying, prisoners, or lost in the darkness of unutterable confusion.

The disaster was swift and supreme.

Even many of the monks had been slain in the melee and the Cross was beaten into the soiled ground beneath the hoofs of the chargers of those who carried the Crescent.

Two Saracen cavaliers of the suite of the ex-Sultan gallantly fought their way to the King and offered to lead him from the field and by secret ways to Arzilla and Tangiers.

Dom Sebastião did not reply to their exhortations; he was not yet even wounded and the crown still glittered round his massive helmet; his friend, Dom Christoram de Tavora, reeling faint in his saddle, besought him to yield or fly the fatal field.

"My lord and my master," he cried with tears staining his pale cheeks, "what resource is left to us?"

With a frightful smile the young King raised his mailed hand towards the torrid blue of the alien sky which smote bitter fires on his doom.

"Heaven, if we deserve it by our deeds!" he cried in a loud, fierce voice.

Another of his followers, Dom Fernando de Mascareñhas, half crazed by the swiftness and magnitude of the appalling disaster, exclaimed:

"What can we do against such a multitude?"

"Do as I do!" shouted the King, and again hurled himself, crowned and doomed, on the advancing enclosing ranks of triumphant Africans.

But Christoram de Tavora tore the sleeve from his shirt and waved it at the point of his sword in token of surrender, as did another cavalier, Dom Nuño de Mascareñhas, shaking a white rag and crying: "Sultan! Sultan!"

A troop of Moorish cavaliers, led by a renegade Christian from Algarve, at once surrounded them and accepted their surrender.

"It is not for ourselves but for the King!" sobbed Tavora. "I implore you to call off these hordes and see that His Majesty is treated with respect!"

Dom Sebastião had now galloped back from his last charge, without a man behind him, and Tavora, turning towards him, passionately besought him to surrender to him his sword, to spare him the supreme humiliation of delivering it to the renegade officer.

Then Dom Sebastião justified all his dreams; in that moment of supreme bitterness, in the full horror of his fearful tragedy, he rejected life and safety with contempt.

For one second he paused, reining in his sweating, shuddering horse, and his livid face lit with a wild look of fury.

"A king," he cried, "only loses his liberty with his life!"

And yet again, and alone, he threw himself against the enemy, the pell-mell of steel and smoke, of blood and death.

At this sight Tavora cast away his white flag and hurled himself after his master into the chaos; both disappeared amid the surges of the hurtling Saracens and the battle of Alcacer-el-Kebir was at an end.

It was a hecatomb; nine thousand of the most illustrious knights of Portugal were slain, many more were fatally wounded or made prisoners, and only a handful of fifty or so escaped to Tangiers or Arzilla to bring the ghastly news to the garrisons there. Dom Jayme, of the House of Braganza, the Bishops of Coimbra and Oporto, Dom Ayres da Silva, Dom Alonzo de Aquilar, Dom Francisco de Aldaña, the Spanish captain, and Tamberg, the leader of the Germans, were among the piled-up slain; while among those captured and enslaved were many names as resplendent, including those of the Prior of Crato, Dom Constantin de Braganza, Dom Duarte de Menezes, and the twelve-year-old Duke of Barcellos.

Never except on the fell field of Mohács had there been such an annihilation of Christian chivalry, never a defeat so swift and so complete, for the whole action had not taken an hour's space.

Not only had a whole aristocracy perished, the youth of a nation's manhood been wiped out in blood, but one of the most ancient dynasties of Europe had come to an end, and, with the House of Aviz, the independence of a nation; the battle of Alcacer-el-Kebir concluded both the glory and the liberty of Portugal; within two years the despoiled, leaderless, discouraged people were to be annexed to the loathed power of Spain.

The disaster was completed by the death of Moulai-Ahmed-ben Abdallah, the King's ally and the deposed Sultan of Morocco, who, flying from the disaster, was drowned in trying to ford the river Oued-Makhazem; so perished all the three sovereigns who had engaged in the tragedy of Alcacer-el-Kebir.

Among the prisoners led before the newly proclaimed Emperor of Morocco, Moulai-Ahmed-ben Mahommed, who had commanded the cavalry during the action, was Dom Nuno de Mascareñhas, the last man to see Dom Sebastião, and Luiz de Brito who had saved the Portuguese standard from capture by tying it round his waist where it hung, a bloody rag, the bezants of Dom Alfonso Henriques obliterated by the Infidel thrusts of steel.

These cavaliers told the Sultan what they knew of the fall of their King, whose actual death no one had seen, and the Sultan sent them, with one of Dom Sebastião's personal servants, Sebastião de Rezende, to search for the royal corpse, giving them a mule and an escort, through the magnificent shambles of the battlefield.

It was now three o'clock in the afternoon, and as this melancholy procession left the African camp they met another sad cortege bringing in the drowned body of Moulai-Ahmed-ben Abdallah to the victor's tent.

Mascareñhas led the way to the spot where he had last seen the King charge, and where Rezende declared he had noticed the royal corpse lying when he himself, a prisoner, was hurried past.

There they found the King stretched on the trampled sand, stripped of armour and vestments, crowned only by the golden hair; he who was so nice that he would only disrobe in private now lay stark to the common gaze, and nothing distinguished him from his dark fellow-dead but the fairness of his skin.

They raised him up, covered him with Mascareñhas' torn mantle and placed him across the mule, then, as the animal was frightened by the waving of the dead arms, they tied these together at the wrists with the tinder rag from an arquebus, and so brought the dead King to the presence of the conqueror, across the terrible sands, where the dying groaned by the dead, and the vultures already hovered.

Hearing the sound of foreign bitter lamentations, the Sultan and his Caids came out from their tent and approached the piteous cavalcade making miserable progress between the corpses and the dying, the armour, horses, torn satins and velvets, plumes and rich weapons.

At sight of the mule's sad burden, the Moor bade his slaves spread a mat on the sand, and on to this the Portuguese lowered their master's corpse, drawing back the rude shroud.

The proud face was gashed from nostril to jaw, the Burgundian lip tortured into a hideous smile, the bright Austrian hair clotted with blood; beneath the rigid lids, half closed, stared the hard blue of the fixed eyes; all the white body, where the armour had protected it, was pure and fair and fine.

At this sight of his dauntless young enemy thus despoiled at his feet, the generous Sultan turned aside his noble face in profound emotion and the Caids veiled their countenances with a gesture of sorrow and regret.

The beautiful body, so painfully trained, so vigorously exercised and controlled, was that of a youth, almost of a boy; Dom Sebastião was twenty-four years of age, chaste and healthy, and the pity of it touched the hearts of the Moors.

The Portuguese prisoners obtained permission to take the King to Alcacer-el-Kebir, where he was buried in a lower chamber of the palace of the Caid—Ibrahim ès Sofiani.

Such was the end of one whose life had been but dreams, whose existence, whose exploit and whose end, in themselves anachronisms, were the last gleams of the chivalry of the Middle Ages, already decadent and despised.

The high-minded Sultan delivered the poor remains of Dom Sebastião to his successor, the Cardinal King, Dom Henriques, and these rested at Ceuta till 1582, when Philip II, then King of Portugal, caused them to be transported to Belem, where they were laid with long and gloomy pomp beside those of Dom Henriques himself, and in the spot where Dom Sebastião had so often prayed his ardent supplications, and dreamed his glorious visions by the fantastic tombs of his ancestors.

In 1682 Dom Pedro II opened the coffin and found the bones in a plain shroud tied with black ribbons.

On the memorial that the Braganza King raised was put this inscription:

"Conditur hoc tumulo, si vera est fama, Sebastus
Quern tulit in Libycis mors properata plagis
Nec dicas falli regem qui vivere credit,
Pro rege extincto mors quasi vita fuit."

"If Fame speaks true, here King Sebastian lies,
Ravished by Death beneath hot Libyan Skies,
Though with his Fall a Kingdom Fell,
Death was Immortal Life to one who died so Well."


BIBLIOGRAPHY

JERONIMO FRANCHI CONESTAGGIO, Unione del regno di Portogallo alia corona di Castiglia, Genova, 1585. FRAY BERNARDO DA CRUZ, Chronica de El Rey D. Sebastiam, var. ed. BAYAM, Portugal cuidadoso e lastimado com a vida e morte do Senhor Rey D. Sebastiam, var. ed., 1737. JERONYMO DE MENDOÇA, Jornada de Africa, ed. of 1785. LUIS DE SOUSA, Annaes del Rey João III, edited by Herculano. REBELLO DA SILVA, Invasion et Occupation du Royaume du Portugal en 1850, Tome 1er, Paris, chez Durand, 1864. MIGUEL D'ANTAS, Les Faux Don Sibastien, Paris, chez Durand, 1866. ALEXANDRO HERCULANO, Historia de Portugal, var. ed., 1880, etc. THE THIRD EARL OF CARNARVON, Portugal and Galicia, Murray, London, 1836. ROBERT SOUTHEY, Letters from Spain and Portugal, Longmans, etc., London, 1808. COMTE HOFFMANSEGG ET H. F. LINK, Fleurs Portugaises, Berlin, 1809. OSWALD CRAWFURD, Portugal, Old and New, London, 1880.

It may be here recalled that Luis de Camoens dedicated his grand epic of the glory of Portugal, Lusiadas, to Dom Sebastião, and died in a hospital at Lisbon a few days after the news of the defeat of Alcacer-el-Kebir, declaring, it is said, "I die with the glory of my country."

Another famous Portuguese poet, Sa de Miranda, was a contemporary of the youth of this King who cared so little for letters, and Antonio Ferreira, "the Portuguese Horace," graced the court of João III; the works of all these three masters abound in material for the history of Portugal in the sixteenth century.

Dom Sebastião became the legendary figure of the lost King in Portugal, as King Arthur became in Britain, or Barbarossa in Germany; the cult of the "Sebastianists" endured into the nineteenth century and took on an almost religious significance.

Several well credited impostors assumed the identity of the King and many people believed in his escape from Alcacer-el-Kebir and reappearance; there is a whole literature on this remarkable subject and a very full account of it in Les Faux Don Sébastien quoted above.

The end of the luckless monarch was enveloped in the mystery, the rumours and the errors usual to such circumstances, and the tales of the pretenders to his personality are romantic to the highest degree; Robert Southey as late as the nineteenth century appears to have believed in the escape and survival of Dom Sebastião, which shows the legend was well spread and credited by many; it is, though, however inviting to the poet or the romancist, nothing but a legend and as such has not been dealt with here; there appears not the slightest doubt that the lost King of the House of Aviz perished in the tragedy of Alcacer-el-Kebir.

John Dryden wrote a pompous drama on the subject of Dom Sebastião, which has, of course, no historical and little literary value.

The above are the main authorities; there is also a mass of material in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, and in the Spanish Archives.

Mendoça and Cruz were members of the African expedition and probably eye-witnesses of the Battle of Alcacer-el-Kebir.



GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS II (1594-1632)

ELECTED KING OF SWEDEN, OF THE GOTHS AND VANDALS

Illustration

Gustavus Adolphus II. Elected King of Sweden, of the Goths and Vandals



"Even such is Time, which takes in Trust,
Our Youth, our Joy, our All we Have,
And pays us but with Earth and Dust,
Who in the Dark and Silent Grave,
Where we have wandered all our Ways,
Shuts up the story of our Days
But from this Earth, this Grave, this Dust,
My God will raise me up, I trust."

—Walter Raleigh.

*

"Ille faciet..."
—King Charles IX, of Gustavus Adolphus II.

*

"Virtue alone outlasts the Pyramids
Her monuments remain, when Egypt's fall."

—Edward Young.



HE was poor and his country was obscure, far north, bleak, barren and forgotten; less than a century of civilization had passed over these rude people when he was born in the huge palace of Birger Jarl in Stockholm, that city which his ancestors, in preference to the ancient, royal Uppsala, had made the capital of Sweden.

To these ancestors, the great House of Vasa, this country, so long ignored by Europe, owed everything; under the guidance of Gustavus I, the Swedes had warmly embraced the tenets of the Reformation; following these, commerce, learning, the arts had flourished on the shores of the Baltic; the culture of Sweden, under the Vasa Kings, first equalled and then surpassed any culture of the north; the world began to hear of Sweden; these people, of Viking descent, cold, hardy, brave and sane, seemed the fitting exponents of the era of common sense inaugurated by Martin Luther.

Roman Catholicism had never been adapted either to the character, the traditions or the needs of the north, and when it was swept away from these stern lands it was swept away for ever; when, however, Gustavus Adolphus II was born (December, 1594) the rest of Europe was possessed by the Counter-Reformation, or Catholic Reaction; it must have seemed to many then that if Protestantism survived at all, it would only survive in those far north countries where it had taken so deep a root; for the dominating power in Europe was the House of Hapsburg, which, in the person of Charles V, had vowed to defend the ancient Faith against all encroachment of heresy, and had well kept the promise pledged at the Diet of Worms.

Philip II, son of Charles V, still ruled Spain, the New World, and had recently annexed Portugal and her colonies; the rebellious Northern Netherlands had scarcely struggled into freedom; Henry of Navarre had sacrificed the Reformed Faith for the crown of France, the Emperor Ferdinand I was also a Hapsburg and his policy marched with that of Spain. Even in these dark fastnesses of the North the Reformation had been threatened and with it the strong central authority vested by Gustavus I in the family of Vasa; this King had sworn as passionately to defend the new Faith as Charles V had sworn to destroy it, and had made Protestantism the same as Nationalism.

Eric XIV and John III, sons of the first Vasa, had followed him as Kings of Sweden; their successor, Sigismund I, son of John, elected King of Poland (1587) on the extinction of the male House of Jargellon whose heiress was his wife) and the death of Stephen Bathory, was a Roman Catholic and one into whom had been instilled by Jesuit preceptors the idea that his duty was to regain Sweden for the Pope; he had had, however, to swear to maintain the Confession of Augsburg at his coronation and was forced to exercise his own faith in secret; while he was in his more congenial Kingdom of Poland, his uncle, Charles, Duke of Sudermania, youngest son of Gustavus I, ruled in his name; he was a Protestant, popular, able, and playing for the crown.

He named his son, born in 1594, Gustavus, after his father, and Adolphus, after the father of his second wife, Christina of Schleswig-Holstein, grand-daughter of that Philip of Hesse who had been the friend and protector of Luther.

The boy was therefore brought up, both by a pious, honest and practical father, and a pious, learned and practical mother, in all the ideals, aspirations and tenets of the Reformation; he had a younger brother, Charles Philip, a sister, Mary Elizabeth, and a step-sister, Catherine, child of his father's first marriage with a daughter of the Elector Palatine.

When Gustavus was five years old (1599) his father was proclaimed King of Sweden as Charles DC, the elder branch of the Vasa family, in the person of Sigismund, King of Poland, being deposed on the ground of his Catholicism and his obvious preference for his larger kingdom; owing to the claims of an elder half-brother of Sigismund, Charles did not call himself King till 1604, when this pretender, Duke John, resigned his claims, and was not crowned till 1607.

His reign was spent in a struggle with his nephew and the Poles; in strengthening the Protestantism founded by his father, and in an almost passionate attention to the education of his sons, in particular that of his heir, Gustavus.

Charles was harsh and fanatical, dry and grim, he had to the full the usual faults of the early Protestants, he was also the least well educated of the sons of Gustavus I and not naturally brilliantly gifted, but he was patriotic, level headed, warmly attached to his House and faith, and passionately desirous of the success of his country and his son.

The latter was such as to delight the heart of any man, of any King; in Gustavus Adolphus a noble race had culminated in what seemed a piece of perfection; the mingled Swedish and German blood had produced a pure Viking type, the proper symbol and ideal of the North.

The boy was precocious in mind, superb in body, of a milk-white fairness, with large bright blue eyes, features grand and mild, hair, like his grandfather's locks, that seemed of golden silk, early brushed into the favoured military tuft.

The anxious King and States had given him a carefully selected tutor, the learned John Skytte, who educated him on the humanistic principles of the scholars of the Reformation; he was taught first the Bible, second, the classics, then mathematics and the science of war; in this last there was a soldier, the Count de la Gardie, of French origin, to instruct the young Prince.

Gustavus responded eagerly to these lessons; he learnt everything with ease; his proficiency in languages was such that later his correspondence was to be polyglot, a sentence in this tongue or that as best expressed his quick thought, the only European speech unknown to him being English. Latin, the language of the cultured, became to him as a mother tongue; he also early mastered Greek; he was deeply interested in history, in theology, in music, and, above all, in warfare.

Educated entirely by men, by earnest and single-minded scholars and upright and cultured aristocrats, the boy received the teaching best suited to his nature, for he was born simple, honourable, passionate, lofty and gentle, with a temper warm and sweet, abilities that amounted to genius, a commanding and powerful intellect.

There was little luxury, even in the palaces of Sweden; the culture so industriously fostered by Gustavus I had taken no soft nor effeminate forms; the learned and accomplished nobility lived plainly and Gustavus was brought up to despise ease and pleasure, indeed, scarcely to know what these words meant, and to live a stern, vigorous life in which the full powers of mind and body were equally exercised.

He absorbed all the accomplishments of chivalry without any effort, and with equal facility the rarer arts of diplomacy; his father, practical in all things, took him early from the schoolroom.

At thirteen he was receiving foreign envoys, at fifteen he was allowed to administer his own Duchy of Sudermania, and to address the States from his father's throne. He cast a lustre on all he undertook and the most extravagant hopes were formed as to his future; he became the delight and the support of his bleak little country whose political position was so difficult and whose faith was so assailed; it was early predicted that this brilliant son of a remarkable family would become one of the great men of all time and the Swedes fondly hoped to find in him a more resplendent hero even than Gustavus Vasa himself.

For Gustavus Adolphus possessed what excellent and useful men have not always possessed, what has, indeed, too often been the gloss on worthlessness, the attribute of the scoundrel or the coward—great natural charm; the sweetness and strength of his personality, his ingenuous gaiety and simple enthusiasm for honour and nobility, his tenderness and his lively animation, fascinated and dazzled all who approached him; his one fault was that most easily condoned; he was too fiery, too impetuous, in all directions his courage ran to daring extremes; he was impatient of prudence, and no one greatly censured so generous a failing in a young Prince.

War came to be the main occupation of his thoughts, for his country was at war on all sides, with Denmark, which held the two main fortresses of the Swedes, Kalmar and Elfsborg, with Russia, with Poland, clutching at the shores of the Baltic, with even more than this, with the whole power of the Hapsburgs which always menaced the heretic with the entire force of Spain and the Empire.

It was as well that the young Swedish Prince sat up late at night reading Xenophon and listening to the accounts of the deeds of Prince Maurice in the Netherlands, brought home by the mercenary officers who had served under the illustrious Nassau, it was as well that he had no taste for pleasure or indolence, but burned with the Viking ardour for adventure and battle, conquest and colonization.

In 1611 he was knighted and allowed to take part in the fighting with the Danes, redoubtable adversaries of the same stuff as himself, at Kalmar.

The maiden knight took the town of Christianopel and the island of Oland, and the rich promise of his childhood seemed redeemed by the first action of his youth; he had need now of all his genius and all his courage, for in the October of this year, 1611, he was called back to the death-bed of his father.

"Ille faciet," said the dying King proudly looking at his splendid son, who was indeed as grand a figure as was ever crowned by a nation's hopes.

His beauty had grown with his intelligence, and at seventeen years of age he was of magnificent height and just, slender proportions, the golden hair cropped into waves on the top of his head, tinged with tawny red, his long face still of a smooth and healthy pallor, his blue eyes large and vivid behind the thick golden lashes; the Dutch Ambassador, coming to see him soon after his accession, found him standing before his throne dressed in black silk and black fur, near a marble table with silver feet on which lay the regalia of Sweden, and was impressed by his comeliness, intelligence and courtesy.

The crown of Sweden did not undisputably belong to Gustavus; Sigismund of Poland, his cousin, the deposed King, had not abated his claims, even though he was not able to enforce them, and behind these claims were the warm wishes, if not the active aid, of all the Roman Catholic potentates, headed by the Hapsburgs; there was also John, another cousin and brother of Sigismund, with prior rights, but he was married to the second daughter of Charles IX and gave way to Gustavus, who was declared of age by the Diet of Nyköping (1611) and proclaimed by the title used by his father, "Elected King and Hereditary Prince of the Swedes, Goths and Vandals."

The majority of the Kings of Sweden had been fixed at twenty-four, but the country was in no state for a regency and eager to trust the brilliant youth from whom so much was hoped; the Chancellor, Axel Oxenstiern, was the King's chief adviser and his closest friend; he was himself only twenty-eight years old, but, like his master, possessed genius.

The task between these two men was formidable enough; they had to protect a nation and a faith, both struggling for existence.

Denmark, then at the height of her fame, was the nearest foe; she had, under an excuse of a dispute about the title "King of the Lapps" assumed by the Swedish Kings, but really to maintain her mastery of the Sound, seized the keys of Sweden, the fortresses of Elfsborg and Kalmar; Christian IV, most powerful of Danish Kings and brother-in-law of James I of England, haughtily quartered the three crowns of Sweden and dared the descendant of Gustavus Vasa to wrench them from his shield.

The young King took up the challenge at once; the first winter of his reign was passed in a cruel frontier war on the ice where Gustavus displayed dazzling bravery; once, when crossing the frozen lake of Widsjö, his horse crashed into the water and the King was only plucked from death by the prompt courage of a soldier who snatched him from the ice hole.

This fierce campaign did not regain the coveted forts, but Denmark was in a disturbed internal state and her nobility brought pressure on the fierce Christian to conclude peace.

The King of Great Britain acted as mediator, and Gustavus concluded his first treaty, January 1613, at Knarod.

It was not, from his point of view, brilliant, yet not altogether unsatisfactory.

Denmark was to keep the three crowns on her coat of arms, but she was to restore Kalmar and Elfsborg, this latter for a sum of a million riksdalers.

Gustavus now went home to raise the money, sending all his own silver plate to the mint to assist the country in redeeming this important port.

The entire sum was cheerfully raised in two years, and the keys of Sweden were again in the hands of the Swedish King.

Gustavus was now forced to look towards Russia, where Sigismund of Poland and Charles IX had so long supported rival candidates for the throne of Moscow and struggled so bitterly for the province of Livonia.

Charles Philip, the younger brother of Gustavus, had been suggested as a future Tsar, but the young King had refused this complication, and the first of the Romanoffs, Michael, became the leader of the National party in Russia whose main object was to get back the Baltic provinces; the basis of all these Northern wars was the jealous struggle for the limited seaboard and the scanty ports.

The Netherlands had become a competitor on this field, having taken the commercial place of the old Hansa League, and though they played a cautious and waiting game they were to be reckoned with; at present they leaned towards Sweden, but rather hoped for a general embroilment of the Northern Powers in which they might snatch their own advantage.

Gustavus hurled himself against Russia as he had hurled himself against Denmark, and was everywhere victorious.

The Peace of Stolbova (1617) put an end to this contest.

It was favourable to Sweden; Russia conceded much more than she need have conceded had she known her strength, including the provinces of Ingria and Carelia, frowning with fortresses, the keys of Finland and Livonia.

Gustavus made a triumphant return to Stockholm and enthusiastically addressed the States.

"Now," he declared, "Russia cannot launch a boat on the Baltic without our consent—two huge lakes, thirty miles of fortresses and morasses are between us. I hope, in God's name, they will find that frontier too wide to jump."

In war and politics he had been alike successful; at twenty-three he was a tried soldier, a competent commander, an able statesman; the lustre of his personal qualities was everywhere renowned; Europe began to notice with admiration Sweden and Sweden's King.

He had done more for his country than merely to regain fortresses and safeguard frontiers, advantages that the fortunes of war might at any moment snatch away; he had roused a sturdy patriotism in the brave, wilful peasantry, in the cultured, learned aristocracy that resulted in an enthusiastic resolve to sacrifice everything in the national cause.

Such a spirit, of such inestimable value to a nation, can only be evoked by greatness in a leader; inspired by a hero, a nation becomes invincible, even when faced by incredible odds; the Netherlands had lately proved as much and were to do so again in 1672.

Sweden in 1617, poor, exhausted, hemmed in, yet rose full of confidence and hope to stand solid behind her splendid young King.

The sincere piety of Gustavus, his lofty high-mindedness, his serene courage, his extraordinary gifts v were with every year more apparent, and the fascination of his personality increased as he achieved his full manhood.

Like most great spirits absorbed in great designs he had found little time or wish for pleasure or amusements; his only diversions were manly exercises and the playing of the flute, for he was most susceptible to the enchantment of music.

Not all the distractions of war and politics could, however, prevent the noble and passionate youth from falling in love.

The object of this first, pure and deep attachment was a lady named the Countess Ebba Brahe whom Gustavus had met at his mother's Court.

The House of Brahe was not greatly inferior to that of Vasa, the lady was lovely, accomplished, high minded; Gustavus had no hesitation in choosing her as his Queen.

There was a simplicity and a beauty about this resolve in keeping with the King's character; it would have given an added brightness to his reign had he married this Swedish woman whom he loved, and there seems no good reason why he should not have done so.

But his mother was firm in the usual belief that a king must make foreign alliances by his marriage, and threw the weight of her strong character against Ebba Brahe.

For some while, however, without effect; Gustavus was not a man to be influenced by any one, and his ardent and romantic love had taken a deep hold on him; in his tent amid the ice and snows, the morasses or wild forests, he wrote sonnets and a sheaf of glowing letters still preserved; when he returned to his rude palace in Stockholm his golden head bent near to hers as they played duets or sang the old songs of chivalry; from the midst of one of his bitterest campaigns he plucked a small blue flower from a stream "which the Germans call 'forget-me-not,'" he wrote, and enclosed it in a letter to Ebba Brahe.

No woman was likely to forget him, a King, a genius, a handsome and accomplished knight, one of the most conspicuous figures in Europe, and he himself was deep and constant, yet this tender love came to nothing.

Gustavus promised his mother not to see Ebba for three years; we do not know which of them tired, or, indeed, if either tired, or what pressure was brought to bear on them, but at the end of that period Ebba Brahe married James de la Gardie, son of the King's old military tutor, and the romance was over.

Nothing had been gained and much perhaps lost by this forcing apart of the lovers; the affair is obscure and we cannot tell how far Gustavus consulted his own ambition, how far he voluntarily resigned the lady to his friend.

It is more likely that the Queen Mother wrought on the unfortunate maiden, by every means in her power, to give up her royal suitor, and that Gustavus himself would have put the marriage through.

Soon after this rupture with his first love, his only son was born to the young King; the mother was a Dutch lady who was only for a short time connected with Gustavus; he perhaps turned to her in the reaction of his desertion by Ebba; the boy, Gustaf Gustafson, grew to be an able warrior; how much would not the great King have given to have had him his heir, in those later years when he knew that he must leave his kingdom to a little girl!

Immediately after the Peace of Stolbova, Sigismund marched troops into Swedish Livonia in pursuit of his cousin's crown; he was heartened by a little gold from Madrid and a great many priests from Vienna.

Gustavus hurried to meet him, and after two years of indecisive warfare signed an armistice in 1618.

While this Polish war lasted he had been politically active; the Barneveldt party in the Netherlands were favourable to Sweden, and were able, before the fall of their chief, to persuade the powerful Elector of Brandenburg to give his daughter to Gustavus, who negotiated a Dutch-Swedish alliance with the purpose of putting a check on Denmark; one project was the cutting of a canal from the Oder to the Elbe: a sound commercial proposition to avoid the Danish tolls on the Sound, and one carried out afterwards by the Great Elector of Brandenburg.

These useful schemes were cut short by the fall of Barneveldt (1619)his opponent, Maurice of Orange, the early hero of Gustavus, was not so friendly to Sweden and the proposed alliance came to nothing.

The marriage project nearly came to nothing also; Gustavus himself suggested that his proposed bride should be given to Prince Charles of England and the Elector was averse to the match.

Gustavus was, however, anxious to form as many links as possible with the German Protestants; the affair with Ebba Brahe was over, and with it, perhaps, his dreams of romantic love; he was, at twenty-five, wholly absorbed in public affairs and the high responsibilities of his position.

He also retained an ingenuous fondness for adventure and visited Berlin in disguise, as Charles Stewart visited Madrid in disguise, to see for himself the suggested wife.

Maria Eleanora was neither very beautiful nor very sensible; in after years she was reported almost a fool and her conduct was then certainly shallow and frivolous, but in her youth she was probably pretty and gentle, pleasing enough in her eager desire to please the magnificent knight who came wooing her in secret; Gustavus, one may assume, had not fixed his expectations of the charms of a political bride too high; at least he was satisfied enough to return in 1620 to try to obtain in person the consent of the mother and brother of Maria Eleanora.

Gustavus this time called himself Captain Gars (G. A. Rex Sueciae), one of those conceits that always pleased the romantic soldier, and used all his personal charm to persuade the Brandenburgs to give him his bride; there seems no great reason either for his eagerness or their reluctance; the indolent, dull George William of Brandenburg was not such a useful ally after all, and, on the other hand, the insignificant little German Princess could hardly have hoped for a finer marriage portion than the crown of Sweden.

The importance of the marriage seems to have been exaggerated on both sides, Gustavus hoping for a stronger hold in Germany than he was likely to get through such a passive brother-in-law, and George William fearing greater penalties from his overlord, Sigismund of Poland (Prussia was then a Polish fief), than were likely to be exacted.

Captain Gars at length overbore all opposition and returned home by way of the Palatinate and the rich, noble lands of the Rhine.

The Elector Frederic, son-in-law of James I of Great Britain, had just left his rose-red castle on the banks of the Neckar to assume his futile crown at Prague, driving out the grim Ferdinand of Styria who was afterwards to take such a stern revenge.

This Frederic, now calling himself King of Bohemia, possessed most of the qualifications of the great leader of Protestantism then expected by all, hoped for by some, dreaded by others; and Gustavus as he passed through Heidelberg may have pondered on this man, to whom scope and opportunity had been given to consolidate Protestantism, a task that even then must have been to the taste of Captain Gars, who could scarcely have known what was so soon to be apparent to all the world, that the Elector Palatine could never accomplish anything, however rich his chance, because he was weak, foolish and fearful.

Captain Gars in his elk-skin coat and his fine fresh linen, so grand and noble-looking in his golden fairness that the passers-by turned to stare at him, rode slowly by day along the fertile banks of the Rhine, musing on the future of this opulent land, so different from his own bleak, barren and beloved patrimony, and at night sat in his inn chamber softly playing the flute to religious pieces of his own composition.

With every hour of musing, with every breathed prayer the seriousness of his task increased to the young King's mind; he began to think of himself as raised up, appointed and supported by that remote Deity in whom he so passionately believed; the sense of being set aside and inspired by his God came strongly to him, as it has come strongly to many men of genius, reared in a stern and simple faith, and this sense brought with it, as it always does, a certain fatalism which is in itself the greatest strength; Gustavus began to believe that nothing could hurt or hinder him until he had done the work intended for him to do on earth.

It is curious that Protestantism, in itself rather arid, cold and material, should so often have inspired this idealistic type of hero; probably because this faith was then so beset and almost overwhelmed, because it represented the minority always championed by the generous spirit, and because too it did then stand for liberty and enlightenment, it attracted the type of men like Gustavus Adolphus, the Princes of Orange and Oliver Cromwell; no such heroes adorned the safe, smug Protestantism of the eighteenth century when the struggle was over, the battle won.

To Gustavus also, as to the Princes of the House of Nassau, Protestantism was bound up with the very existence of his country; the quarrel with his cousin, Sigismund, that he had inherited, had become a religious quarrel; the triumph of Poland would be the triumph of Catholicism and the absorption of a Lutheran State into a Popish one; if the elder branch of the House of Vasa could press its claim, the religion and the individual nationality of Sweden would alike cease to exist.

Gustavus returned to Stockholm, sent Oxenstiern to fetch his bride, and assembled twenty-four thousand men at Elfsnabben ready for a descent on Livonia.

Here he first recited to his army his new articles of war which are regarded as a turning point in military science, and the troops proceeded down the Dwina, on a hundred and fifty-eight vessels of war, to Riga, which fell on 16th September, 1621.

Sigismund had recently been defeated by the Turks at Jassy and could not leave the south to meet Gustavus, who took the capital of Courland, Mitau, and in June, 1622, forced Sigismund to an armistice which left Sweden in possession of Livonia and portions of Courland.

Again Gustavus had triumphed and returned to Stockholm more firmly fixed than ever in the affections of his people and more than ever admired by the world.

He had, however, private griefs; Duke John, his cousin, and his wife, sister of Gustavus, had both recently died, and in the rigours of the last campaign the gallant Charles Philip, the only brother of the King, had perished; Gustavus was greatly grieved at being thus bereft of the companions of his youth and particularly moved by the loss of the young brother in arms whom he had deeply loved; no spite or jealousy had ever come between them, and Charles Philip had followed the King's fortunes with eager loyalty.

These three deaths, however, restored important apanages to the Crown of Sweden and removed any possible future pretenders to the throne; the country therefore gained from the loss of the King.

Gustavus, in his foreign wars, which were in reality wars of defence, not aggression, had not, as so many warrior kings had done, neglected the internal administration of the country, which, since 1614, he had been reorganizing; in 1617 he had established rules for the Estates, Sweden then sharing with England the distinction of having a Parliamentary procedure; he had also simplified the taxation, even persuading, by the fire and charm of his character, the nobility to bear their share in the pecuniary burdens; he issued the first State Budget, he rebuilt one town, Gothenburg, and founded fifteen others, he brought over a Dutchman, De Geer, to start ironworks and mining, he began the Swedish Navy, which, under Klas Fleming, numbered sixty men-of-war.

Nor did the vigorous and enthusiastic King neglect the arts; highly cultured himself, he encouraged learning, presenting to the University of Upsala all his paternal estates to the extent of three hundred farms; Sweden began, under such a ruler, to be a considerable power; the foundations of a flourishing nation laid by Gustavus I were not only strengthened by his grandson, but began to bear a solid edifice; without the cruel distractions and the crushing expenses of a succession of wars Gustavus would speedily have raised his beloved little country to not only prosperity, but greatness.

Hugo Grotius came to this enlightened Court, the King was seldom without a copy of De Jure Belli et Pacis in his pocket and spent hours discussing international problems with the Dutch jurist; to Stockholm also came Anthony Van Dyck to paint his portrait of the great King in plate armour with a plain linen collar, holding a baton and looking out of the canvas with an air of grand, unsmiling serenity, with mild, luminous blue eyes.

The King's features were now sterner as his powerful frame was heavier; he still wore the bright yellow hair brushed back from his high forehead and cropped close; his face was fuller, but beautifully shaped, the mouth large and firmly set, the nose long and handsome; his usual expression was one of gentle mildness, but his temper remained warm and passionate and his fault was still a fiery impetuousness, curbed, however, by his own powerful intelligence as well as by the prudent counsels of Oxenstiern.

Affectionate in all his relations, he lived in harmony with his insipid Queen who had not yet brought him any children; no other woman had taken the place of Ebba Brahe and no scandal touched the conduct of the King; his morals were as pure as the rigid Protestantism he affected demanded, he had full command of his passions and all his energies were directed to active and intellectual pursuits; music and the composition of verse and the reading of Greek were his relaxations; from his well-worn copy of Xenophon he learnt, he declared, much of that art of war which he was, in a modern sense, practically to invent.

His life was simple in the extreme; he showed that indifference to comfort, to fine food, to any luxury, that hardihood, that stern attention to duty, that laborious application to business, so characteristic of his House.

With all this he was neither grave nor harsh but affable and accessible, with gracious manners and ready courtesy for all; every class of his people adored him for his mere personal graces; devotion to the King kept the Swedes together like a cord binding them.

His attire was of the plainest; the buff coat, the loose breeches, the high boots, the sash and sword belt, the plumed hat, the small moustache and close beard that he wore came to be the familiar type of the seventeenth-century soldier; in everything he did and was, he impressed himself upon his times, his was the character and the figure eagerly to be hailed as a symbol of the heroic warrior.

European affairs now gathered into a knot that almost defied the untying, from every corner war, fierce, relentless and desperate, threatened.

Gustavus, looking abroad during the Polish truce, saw everywhere menace and confusion and also that his part in a contest fast becoming universal could not long be delayed; the most ghastly war in modern history was in preparation and he was to be the hero of it; but, impetuous and fiery-minded as he was, he did not lightly throw himself into the terrible contest, the true significance of which he and one other in Europe, Richelieu, were alone aware.

What is called the Thirty Years' War had, amid endless complications, two mainsprings, the desire of the House of Hapsburg to turn a nominal Empire into a real one, and the force of the Catholic reaction which was almost overwhelming Protestantism; many of those supporting the first cause did not show much enthusiasm for the second, nor were all the ardent Papists ardent Imperialists; in the end this conflict of views was largely to ruin the Emperor's design, but for the moment Hapsburg and Pope stood together against the Protestants.

These were in their turn divided, not only into Lutheran and Calvinist, but by internecine jealousies and disputes; Gustavus might dream of uniting them into a solid union, but a dream it was to remain.

The notable Protestant countries, England, the Netherlands, Denmark, played, naturally, for their own hands; they put their advantage before their religion, and were, all of them, in awe of Spain and the Emperor; Gustavus saw that the first two were likely to remain neutral, and that the third would be a jealous and difficult ally.

Not only were the German Protestant Princes disunited, but some of their neighbours remained faithful to the Emperor; one of these, the Catholic Maximilian of Bavaria, had lately been invested with the rich Palatinate abandoned by the unhappy Frederic, and made a formidable wedge of Imperialism in the Reformed country.

Protestantism had been entrusted to the feeble hands of the Elector Palatine, and he had let the chance of being its champion slip; mockingly termed the "Winter King" of Bohemia, he was now a despised fugitive in Europe, and his Protestant fellow Princes held back, frightened, or passive, or stupid.

France held back too; Richelieu was at once against the Protestants and against the Hapsburgs; he waited, watchful and alert.

Gustavus waited too; he governed a small, poor nation of barely a million and a half souls, and though he had recently acquired territory and strengthened his position it was impossible for him to do more for Protestantism than plan a League, of which he believed—he was destined to be the spirit and the leader.

The question went deeper even than religion with Gustavus; he saw, as Richelieu saw, that the balance of power was in danger and that the House of Hapsburg was making a bid for that universal dominion that had always been the dearest ambition of her haughty Princes.

Meanwhile the truce with Poland expired (1625) and Gustavus was again fighting on his own Livonian frontier; he won his first pitched battle, that of Wallhof, January 1626, without loss of a man, and again invaded Courland and Lithuania.

His object was to force Poland to a peace so as to leave his hands free for other enterprises, and in the next campaign he invaded East Prussia in the hope of getting control of the Vistula as he had already got control of the Dwina.

He had, for the moment, to give over the wider aims of Protestantism on a wider field, though there had been several earnest appeals for his assistance in Germany, but Gustavus knew that to answer these would be but to join weakness to weakness; he had neither men nor money sufficient for such an enterprise, and the three friendly Powers who had both, France, England and the Netherlands, were reluctant to offer substantial help.

In 1624 he had indeed made a wise offer to England to undertake the common cause in Germany; the terms were high, subsidies, seventeen thousand men, two ports, one on the Baltic, one on the North Sea, and there was no statesman in England of sufficient breadth of view to accept a proposal which, carried into effect, would have given a very different complexion to the Thirty Years' War.

Meanwhile, the fiery and imprudent Christian IV, jealous of the growing glory of Gustavus, underbid Sweden with England and threw himself single-handed at the Emperor; he was speedily and disastrously beaten.

The defeat of Denmark meant the danger of Sweden; the shadow of the eagles was falling across the Baltic, and, while Gustavus was holding back the Poles and investing Dantzic, he heard that Wallenstein, the dreaded Imperialist general, had seized the Danish islands, was laying waste Jutland and commanding the Baltic coast with a powerful army.

The deadly menace of the Hapsburgs had suddenly come to the very door of the Protestant King; the long arm and iron fist of the Emperor had swiftly stretched out to squeeze the life out of Northern Protestantism.

Gustavus did not hesitate, he at once took up the contemptuous challenge, and, while Wallenstein was marching haughtily on the shores of the Baltic, the King of Sweden concluded an alliance with the hard pressed King of Denmark, his ancient enemy; he believed that now at least Christian would unite heartily in affronting a common enemy, and he saw that while Denmark had been defeated on land she might yet do something at sea, for Wallenstein, sabre-rattling with his title of "Admiral General of the Baltic," had not a single ship on that disputed ocean.

The two Northern monarchs met in the simple room in a country parsonage at Halland (February 1629), Gustavus in his war-worn uniform, Christian more splendid, a swarthy, fierce figure with frowning eyes and black locks; he did not lack character and ability and was the most interesting of the Danish Kings; but he could not take the measure of a man like Gustavus.

Over the bad food and bitter frozen wine of their strange banquet he snarled out those counsels of prudence to which heroism has ever been forced to listen; the Emperor, he said, had overrun Germany, the Protestants were disunited, even such leaders as they had had, Christian of Anhalt, Christian of Brunswick, Mansfeldt, adventurers who had done no good to the cause, were beaten or dead; supplies came meagrely from the Protestant Powers, each playing their own game, which was not the game of Sweden or Denmark.

"Better," growled Christian IV in conclusion, "leave the Emperor alone."

Gustavus listened to this advice of the defeated King with what patience he could muster; he had now learnt to control that hot temper which in youth had made him give a blow as soon as a word.

He used his rare eloquence (he was reputed the finest orator in the North) to persuade Christian to stand shoulder to shoulder with him in what must be a death struggle; it was obvious that the Hapsburgs must be curbed or Protestantism, and all the smaller countries that held by Protestantism, be utterly crushed. The Emperor was no merciful conqueror, no tolerant ruler; a man of iron, of considerable gifts, courage and energy, Ferdinand of Styria was as ruthless and determined a fanatic and tyrant as any of these German Cassars who affected the Imperial purple and the Imperial power; triumphant with the sweeping success of an eight years' war, having now well in view that universal dominion so long hoped for by the House of Hapsburg, he had resolved to extirpate heresy in Germany and whatever lands into which the eagle could thrust her talons.

So argued Gustavus, but the sullen Christian, smarting from Imperialist whacks, advised the Swede to "leave Ferdinand alone."

Anger then overcame Gustavus: he cried out passionately:

"Let Your Highness be sure that whoever threatens Sweden, Emperor, King, or ten thousand devils, he'll get such a pull by the ears as will make his hair stand on end!"

Christian was moved to no more than a dubious neutrality, which, indeed, he kept; the Emperor offered him favourable conditions which he accepted; he was always "temp table" and a lukewarm Protestant; the Treaty of Lübeck put him out of the war for the moment; Ferdinand had been very generous with him because he wished to detach him from Sweden, a far more dangerous opponent.

Swedish delegates were refused admission to the Peace Conference at Lübeck, and during the next campaign of Gustavus in Prussia, Ferdinand sent ten thousand Imperialists to assist the Poles; the Emperor was as determined to crush Gustavus as Gustavus was determined not to be crushed.

A last and desperate appeal from Germany reached Gustavus, and he saw, ready or not ready, he must take a hand in the ruthless and atrocious struggle.

He forced the Poles, by dint of severe defeats, into yet another truce, even making the implacable Sigismund recognize him as King of Sweden, and then he turned about to face the Emperor in good earnest.

This recent success in the Polish war was now most useful to Gustavus; the duties from the newly acquired Prussian ports amounted to more than the whole revenue of Sweden, and Gustavus also controlled the main German trade routes to the Baltic. After eight campaigns of the most desperate fighting and the most unremitting sacrifices, Gustavus had secured the frontiers of his country against her most formidable neighbours, Sigismund and Christian, extended her territory and increased her income; he had also, after seventeen years of war, built up the finest army in Europe, become (though few as yet knew this) the finest general of the age, and restored his country to law, order and efficiency, besides evoking a spirit of patriotism, mutual goodwill among all classes, enthusiastic and honest loyalty to the crown, then without parallel in Europe.

Gustavus was then as ready as he could ever hope to be to try conclusions with Ferdinand, to stand forth as that champion so long lacking, the soldier of Protestantism.

When he came to this resolve, in 1630, the situation of the Protestants was desperate; they were utterly overwhelmed in Germany and the Emperor had treated them with the greatest vigour; the question of the Confession of Augsburg (1552), i.e. the restitution to the Catholics of the Church lands seized by the Protestants, had been at the bottom of the dispute; a worldly, not a spiritual motive, as usual had been the basis of this infamous war of religion, and now, by the Edict of Restitution, the Emperor more than enforced the Confession, the Protestants were stripped of everything to gorge the Papists.

The Protestants had largely themselves to blame; jealous of each other, feeble, quarrelling over their own advantages, lazy, timid, short-sighted, all eager for place, title and money, the German Princes deserved their fate: and their rapacious generals and lawless mercenaries had helped as much as the Imperialists to turn the wretched country into a shambles.

One is speaking of the Princes and leaders only: the people had no say in anything in Germany nor the Empire, they were not represented in any of the different governments; left to themselves, Catholics and Protestants had lived peaceably enough side by side; it was the rapacity, ambition and jealousy of individual potentates that had stirred up the atrocious war.

So far, in 1630, the position was that the better man had won; there was no one on the Protestant side of the ability of the Emperor and his generals, Tilly and Wallenstein.

Nearly losing crown, estates and life itself when hurled from his throne of Bohemia in 1618, Ferdinand of Styria had undergone misfortunes that would have crushed most men, but by indomitable purpose and relentless energy, by grim courage and active intelligence he had become in twelve years the foremost power in Europe; he had the great advantage of representing one central authority, an advantage also always enjoyed by his Church, a great and often an irresistible advantage; there was also a force and attraction about the very name; the title of Emperor, like that of Pope, still held a dark and awesome magic.

Ferdinand was also backed by the immense power of Spain, where the rule of an imbecile King, Philip III, had not yet been able to affect the majestic structure built up on the riches of the New World; he had also in his service two of the most famous generals of the day, men reputed to be invincible, Albrecht von Wallenstein, Duke of Friedland, the magnificent Bohemian, educated as a Moravian, now under the influence of Jesuits and astrologers, an arrogant, flourishing, splendid general, and Count Tilly, the implacable Walloon, cruel, bitter, dry, a common man and a genius in the art of war.

To these Imperial advantages Gustavus had little to oppose; the one ally on whom he might have counted, the husband of his Queen's sister, Bethlen Gabor, Prince of Transylvania, was lately dead.

There was no one else to offer support to Sweden; if she entered the lists against the Hapsburgs she must enter alone. England would keep out of the contest as long as possible, the United Provinces were a commercial Republic, jealous of Sweden on the Baltic, and with no intention to jeopardize their own hard-won prosperity by joining in a quarrel of Kings.

Richelieu alone might be relied on to help hold the Emperor in check, but Richelieu had no love for Sweden and Gustavus would to him be only a pawn, as the soldier is usually the pawn of the statesman.

Alone, then, Gustavus decided to face the greatest military power of the age, then flushed with victory and blown with conquest.

Ferdinand sent letters to Gustavus, but refused him the title of King; he was, to all Catholics, a usurper; Gustavus flung the missive back unopened and prepared for war.

Long and anxious had these preparations been; during the winter of 1629-30, nitre and sulphur works, powder mills and armouries, both public and private, were working with feverish activity; a war tax was added to a mill tax and a corn tax; recruiting officers brought in all available men, the tenth drawn by lot from all between the ages of eighteen and thirty.

The King and Oxenstiern had brought the country to such a state of well-organized efficiency that these strenuous exertions were made with the utmost goodwill and cheerfulness.

Volunteers were sought for abroad; Kniphausen raised a useful body of men in England, but Falkenberg got no one in the Netherlands, the Dutch had, reasonably enough, their fill of war; two regiments of lusty Scots under Colonel Morton joined up, and another Scot, Leslie, did some active recruiting in the Hansa towns.

Gustavus could, finally, count on 76,000 men, of whom 43,000 were Swedes; these peasants and yeomen of the Viking-Goth strain were the best fighters in the world. There were, besides, three thousand men left on the fleet.

Gustavus intended to take 13,000 of these troops to Germany, leaving the rest at home as a reserve; he made no formal declaration of war; he considered the Imperial attack on the free town of Stralsund, his ally, as sufficient final excuse for a conflict that had been so long inevitable.

This resolve of Gustavus, suddenly to take the offensive and march into the heart of the enemy's territory, was in the highest degree heroism, but not an errant, wild or ill-considered heroism.

The keenest of level intellects held in check the King's reckless courage, and in the Cabinet he was prudent, wary, thoughtful, as on the field he was impetuous and rash.

The cause which he had stood out to champion was one which could now only be saved by an heroic gesture and he was the man to make it; the risks, of course, were obvious; Tilly and Wallenstein had between them a hundred and thirty thousand men at least; Gustavus and his little force might easily be swallowed up, a very lamb to the bloody jaws of the Imperial wolves raging in Germany.

On the other hand it was greatly to the interest of Sweden to make Germany the theatre of war; her fleet was too weak to blockade the Baltic ports; it was therefore better to seize them, to prevent the Emperor from building up a sea power in the North. Gustavus counted, too, on the German Princes rising to support his audacious enterprise; he relied proudly on the help of God and modestly on his own genius.

"One lost battle would give the Emperor a good shaking," he declared hopefully.

Above all he looked for Divine protection; he believed that the appointed hour had come for the appointed task, and that the highest of causes, that of humanity itself, had been entrusted to him; that he also believed there might be raised up, through his means, a Northern Protestant Empire, of which Sweden would be the head, is no flaw in this faith; spiritual ideals must be achieved by material means; Sweden was as good a prototype of the liberty and tolerance mankind needed as Gustavus was likely to find.

On May 30th, 1630, Gustavus took leave of the States at Stockholm; at thirty-five years he was in the full magnificence of his splendid manhood, tall, massive, golden; he had been wounded again and again in his Polish campaigns, often severely, but his health was superb, he was strong, hardy, clear eyed, deep chested, clean cut in line, brilliant in colouring; his fairness was dazzling; the Italians called him the re d'oro.

He wore his simple soldier's coat and held tenderly in his arms a little girl of three years old, the sole child of his ten years' marriage.

Gustavus told the representatives of his beloved people that the war was for wife and child, home and faith, a war to which he had been driven by the hostile acts of the Hapsburgs and the desperate appeals of the tormented Protestants in Germany, and recommended his heiress, Christina, to their loyalty.

The peril of the task he did not underestimate.

"The pitcher that goes too often to the well breaks at last, thus will it fall out with me, through shedding my blood for Sweden; though hitherto God has spared my life, yet at last I must lose it. Therefore I commend you all to God's protection, wishing that after this troublesome life we may all meet each other with God in the Heavenly Immortal Life."

These words and the whole of Gustavus' actions have, of course, been taxed with insincerity; he has been accused of mere personal ambition in his enterprise, a love of war for its own sake, and even of the fantastic hope of placing the dubious diadem of the Hapsburgs on his own brow.

So have the greatest of men and the noblest of motives always found their critics; it would seem that there are some who cannot credit the existence of high-mindedness, pure patriotism, genuine piety and lofty motives in humanity, so eager are they to pull to pieces, to belittle and traduce the heroes in whom these rare qualities appear.

Nothing whatever supports the view that Gustavus was not absolutely honest in his declarations; he had his ambitions, as every noble mind must have, but they were such as would benefit mankind, not himself; he aimed at liberty and toleration, which is what all really great men have aimed at and the partial achievement of which is the proudest if not the only boast of modernity.

Gustavus had refused to be "the hireling of France" and had rejected Richelieu's suggestions as to his conduct of the war; he had no desire to be the cat's paw of the mighty Cardinal.

But indirectly Richelieu did help the Swede; in the name of the spoilt child then King of France, Louis XIII, he had made an alliance with the United Provinces and declared war on the overweening Austria by taking the field in Italy, which, with the Rhine and the Palatinate, was his care as the Baltic was that of Gustavus; he also skilfully fomented internal trouble in the Empire, and, if not directly helping Gustavus, he was at least ready to assist him if he was successful.

The Imperialists heard with scorn of the King of Sweden's preparations; Wallenstein, who had once said he was "worse than the Turk," now jeered at the "Snow King" who would melt before the summer sun, and Ferdinand, arrogant and self assured, sneered, "So we have another little enemy!"

The Emperor was indeed slightly too confident; he had behaved, as so many conquerors have behaved, with a cruelty, an insolence and an injustice that damaged his own success; the conduct of Ferdinand was already alienating even some of the Roman Catholics and was the best hope of Gustavus.

The sumptuous, haughty and conceited Wallenstein was bitterly unpopular in Germany and perpetually quarrelling with his colleague, the dreadful Tilly; the military jealousy between these two did not help the Emperor's cause.

On top of this Wallenstein had furiously fallen out with the Jesuits over the Restitution Edict, and finally with the Emperor, who sacrificed his best general to the spite of the priests and the Electors at the Diet of Ratisbon, 1630, at the very moment when Gustavus was landing in Germany.

Ferdinand had been induced to this humiliation by the hope of getting his son elected King of the Romans; the cunning hand of Richelieu was behind these divisions and had thus rendered valuable service to the cause of Gustavus.

Wallenstein went off sulking furiously to Pomerania, and his army, reduced to thirty thousand, was handed over to Tilly.

On June 24th, 1630, simultaneously with these events, Gustavus landed on the coast of Pomerania, at Swinemunde, with his 13,000 men, and began to march into Germany along the line of the Oder; his troops soon increased, by reinforcements from Stralsund, where Leslie commanded, and other Protestant towns on the line of march, to 40,000 men.

When he first landed on German soil he had fallen on his knees in prayer, and it was in a spirit of pious confidence that he proceeded steadily on his way; Pomerania received him as a deliverer joyfully; he made the capital, Stettin, his base, and by the end of the year had cleared the province of the Imperialists.

Gustavus now began to reap the full benefit of his elaborate and masterly system of military organization and discipline; through study and experience he had evolved improvements in warfare that amounted to a revolution in that art so vital to mankind; or, rather, from the rude, cumbrous and simple tactics of the Middle Ages he had created the nucleus of modern military science.

No great soldier who followed him but learnt something, usually a great deal, from Gustavus Adolphus; he was the master of Cromwell, of Turenne, of Conde and Eugène, of Marlborough and Charles XII, and of a host of lesser but still considerable generals, and, more for this reason than because of his actual achievements, resplendent as they were, do some critics consider him as the foremost soldier of modern times.

Hitherto warfare had been considered as one thing with rapine, carnage and thievery; the armies were usually neither fed nor paid, they plundered food and booty from the miserable countries in which they happened to be fighting, and, without any regard to economics or the final issues of the wars, the generals kept their men, nearly always mercenaries, in fighting trim by giving them villages to devastate and towns to sack, this licence being accompanied by every circumstance of horror and cruelty; the Thirty Years' War was for Germany, then struggling into a rude prosperity, nothing less than hell broken loose; the civilization of the country was set back a hundred years.

The huge, motley armies of Tilly and Wallenstein were not fed by the Emperor; as they went their blood-stained, fire-scarred way, they devoured what they could find, with the result that not only was the land ruined, but the troops, often starving, always diseased and intoxicated by lawlessness, murder, power and plunder, were very difficult to control and generally on the verge of mutiny; men fighting for nothing but the most hideous gratification of the most hideous appetites, animated by neither loyalty nor religious fervour, neither patriotism nor any other ideal, accustomed to every device of cruelty and ruthless destruction, did indeed become little better than devils, as the mind of the seventeenth century conceived devils, and like devils had the mercenary soldiers racked and ravaged Germany for twelve years when Gustavus Adolphus made his headquarters at Stettin; the Protestants were in no wise different from the Papists; the bands of Mansfeldt, of Christian of Anhalt, of Christian of Brunswick were as atrocious in their behaviour, as loathed by the unfortunate inhabitants, as the hordes commanded by the Catholic League.

The army of Gustavus was in no way similar; the Swedes were brave to recklessness, wilful and independent, full of the old adventuring spirit of the Goth and Viking, but they were humane, obedient, prudent, austere, and patient; above all they were animated by a fervent piety and excellently disciplined. Gustavus paid and fed them, looked after their comfort, their clothes, their weapons, their quarters; they were forbidden to take even a fowl from a cottage without paying for it; Gustavus saw that a country laid waste was a poor conquest and that the moral of an army accustomed to licence must speedily deteriorate.

He tried, as he was able, to put the men into uniform, he saw that their boots were waterproof and warmly lined, their armour light and efficient; he went among them, looking after their needs himself, he shared all their hardships; as with most great men, his character helped him in his work as much as his genius, he was loved for what he was, as much as for what he did; his warm, amiable disposition, his charm of manner, as well as his fiery high-mindedness and deep sincerity, made him the very idol of his men; a group of Swedish nobles, Banèr, Kniphausen, Torstenson, Nils Brahe, under his teaching had become his enthusiastic disciples.

Even his hot temper, so superbly controlled, so humorously excused, made him popular; after a brush with some of the obstinate Scots officers, he cried with a laugh: "Well, if I have to put up with them, they have to put up with me!"

After his army had been a few months in possession of Pomerania the inhabitants adored him; they had not believed that any soldier could be courteous, considerate, gentle; the Swedes became wildly popular, and the figure of their King appeared to the German Protestants the noble figure of a deliverer from their torments.

Had it been left to the people the whole of Reformed Germany would have declared for Gustavus, but the princes, divided by jealousies, afraid of the Emperor, and haunted by a traditional loyalty to the Empire, hung back.

Gustavus strengthened his hold on the coast, fortifying all the places he had taken; Oxenstiern was advancing through East Prussia to join him; the Imperial forces fell back on Garz and there entrenched themselves; there was a lull in the activity of the war.

Gustavus had already gauged the lethargic temperament of the Protestant Princes and realized that what he did he must do alone; his task appeared gigantic, even in his own eyes, but it was far from hopeless.

The Imperialists at Garz were in a miserable condition, cold, hungry, mutinous, half the cavalry without horses, half the infantry without sufficient clothes or weapons; Gustavus flung himself out of Pomerania, fell on the enemy and drove them out of Garz on Christmas Day, 1630; Schaumburg, the Emperor's man, tossed his guns into the marshes of the Oder, fired the town and fled southward; it was not a large advantage, but it was one very important to Gustavus at that moment; it had the great value of a first success; it heartened the Protestants, gave a lustre to the reputation of the King, infuriated Tilly, and made Ferdinand, arrogant in Vienna, notice that the King of Sweden was in Germany.

Gustavus next built a fortified camp at Barwalde, where he housed his troops, and here (January, 1631) he concluded a treaty with Richelieu whereby he was to be paid an annual subsidy by France on condition that he preserved the status quo ante bellum; there were other articles, creditable to both signatories; the treaty made for moderation, toleration and balance of power.

As a set off to this good fortune Gustavus found himself ignored by the Protestants at whose invitation he had invaded Germany; even his brother-in-law, the Elector of Brandenburg, held back in a dull neutrality, while the head of the Lutherans, John George of Saxony, was jealously hostile.

But if they were inert, so were the Imperialists; Count Tilly, slow, aged, old-fashioned, obstinate, would not be drawn into an engagement but hung about on the Weser waiting uncertain reinforcements; he was not used to winter operations and it was not till the end of February that he made for the front of the Swedes; meanwhile he had sent Pappenheim to invest Magdeburg, the free city that was almost the only declared ally of Gustavus, who had thrown Colonel Falkenberg and a small garrison into the town, pledging his word to relieve it soon.

A Protestant Congress at Leipsic wasted three months in talk in which there was hardly a mention of Gustavus; weary of drowsy friends and a lethargic enemy, Gustavus manoeuvred for a battle in the open with Tilly; he knew that affairs were at that point when a decisive engagement might turn the scale one way or another.

Gustavus moved into the Demmin region and took several small towns; Tilly fell back towards Magdeburg; to draw him away from this precious ally Gustavus menaced Frankfort; Tilly turned to relieve it, but heard of its fall and retraced his way to Magdeburg.

Gustavus took Landsberg and the road to Vienna lay straight before him; he might have pushed on and bearded Ferdinand in his Austrian strongholds, but he was pledged to the relief of Magdeburg.

His line was now from Mecklenburg to Prussia, with Frankfort as the centre of his holding, and strong forts all along.

Gustavus now concentrated on the relief of Magdeburg, closely besieged by Pappenheim, the most brilliant of the Emperor's generals, and the veteran Tilly; the King could have saved the city, but was thwarted by John George and George William, who refused him a way across their territories, though they had allowed the Imperialists free passage; Gustavus, after vain negotiations, pushed his way by force through Brandenburg and dictated terms at Berlin; but the delay had proved fatal.

Delivered by treachery Magdeburg fell (May 20th, 1631); the Swedish garrison, the inhabitants to the number of 40,000, were massacred with every detail of fiendish barbarism, and the magnificent city was left a heap of black and bloody charred ruins.

Gustavus had, in his desperate passion, solemnly laid the fate of Magdeburg at the charge of John George when that Prince had barred the ford on the Elbe to the Swedes, and there the bitter blame of one of the most atrocious tragedies of an atrocious and tragic war should be laid.

Gustavus, of course, has been held responsible for the ghastly fate of his ally, but it is clear enough that he made the most vigorous efforts to keep his promise; also that he believed that the city could have held out longer, as it indeed could have done had there not been treachery within the walls.

The infamous sack of Magdeburg did Tilly little good; he drew his ragged, starving troops off southwards, there to await the reinforcements from Italy on which he set such store; the Walloon was not an enterprising general and thought that he had done enough; he believed that the Swedes were exhausted and would be crowded back to the coast, for Saxony and Brandenburg, his unwilling allies, now wavered more definitely towards the Emperor.

As Fürstenberg slowly made his way from Italy (it took him nearly a year to go from Mantua to Germany) to reinforce Tilly, Lord Hamilton landed from England with seven thousand men. These allies were not so valuable as Gustavus may have hoped they would be; they were ill disciplined and of poor quality; before the end of the campaign disease and desertion had reduced them to fifteen hundred.

Gustavus held on, strengthening his position while Tilly dallied; at Rheindorf he surprised the Walloons' cavalry, inflicting a smashing defeat on the Imperialists; William of Hesse-Cassel stood firm by him, and Bernard of Saxe-Weimar joined him; this last, brave, gallant, young and handsome, with black curls and blue eyes, speedily became the ideal German cavalier, in time to come the national hero of the Thirty Years' War, as the great Swede could never be; he was something of an adventurer, but a daring and a gifted soldier.

The nauseous chronicle of the atrocities of Magdeburg, while it filled the Catholics with triumph, did not altogether dishearten the Protestants, while the incredible excesses of the Imperialists marching up from Italy gave the people that stubborn, despairing resistance that Alva's cruelties had given the Dutch; it was the way of the Hapsburgs to overdo their tyrannies.

Ferdinand, high-handed and implacable, now threw the pusillanimous and vacillating German Princes into the scale against him by his own behaviour; as John George could not decide for himself Tilly decided for him and ravaged his lands; the Elector implored the assistance of Gustavus, and a treaty was concluded which put the Swede in command of the Saxon Army; at last Gustavus assumed the position he should have held a year before, that of acknowledged leader of all German Protestants.

Gustavus now crossed the Elbe, resolved to force action on Count Tilly, who was on the plain of Breitenfeldt, a mile north of Leipsic, with his back to the city which he had lately occupied by threatening it with the fate of Magdeburg.

John George was now as eager in war as he had been dull in procrastination, and urged Gustavus to give battle; no action on the part of any one, however, could make up for the damage caused by the Saxon's unforgivable delays.

Tilly had also at last decided to fight; he would rather have waited for the troops of Fürstenberg, but these were too occupied in quelling the Protestants on their way to be immediately expected, and the ardent Pappenheim was eager for an encounter with the Swedes; he had no doubt that Tilly, never yet defeated, could speedily beat Gustavus.

Tilly shared this opinion, and so did his veteran troops, which included the famous Spanish battalions, regarded as invincible.

Tilly sat down grimly to await Gustavus, and in the meantime Fürstenberg did actually come up, with the cavalry from Italy under Isolani.

The Imperialists had now about forty thousand men, picked troops, of which a fourth were cavalry; among them were his famous Walloons, and the renowned Black Cuirassiers led by the brilliant Pappenheim; all were handsomely arrayed in the plunder of half Germany, coats laced with gold ana silver, fantastic plumes, heavy decked horses, glittering chains, ribbons, sashes and laces, elaborate and glittering weapons; they were in high spirits and greeted Tilly, on his familiar white steed, with shouts of confidence and delight; the veteran was seventy-two years old and also full of assurance.

Gustavus marched across the undulating plain in battle array, crossed the Loderbach and threw back Pappenheim's skirmishers and advanced on Tilly.

The Swedes formed the right and the centre, the Saxons the left; in reserve to the first line was Monro's and Ramsey's Scottish infantry; in reserve to the second line, more Scots under Hepburn; all told, Gustavus had about forty-five thousand men; Banèr, Tott, Horn and Torstenson were in command under the King.

The Saxons were handsomely appointed, but the Swedes made a poor show; their horses were small and ugly, their uniforms drab and dusty from sleeping in a ploughed field; they had rather a dull air compared to the showy, newly equipped troops of John George.

They bore sprigs of green leaves in their hats or morions, and the password was, "God be with us!"

Tilly's men sported white favours, and their password was, "Jesu, Maria."

The King commanded the centre where floated his black and gold pennants; the three crowns and the lion, twice repeated, of Sweden, with the corn sheaf of the House of Vasa in pretence on the royal banner, was not far behind; over the whole Protestant force fluttered these coloured pennons, red, orange, blue, green, above the various companies.

Gustavus wore his usual elk-skin coat, his great jack boots, his sash and linen collar, and a plain felt hat with a green feather—green the colour of hope, like the foliage worn by his soldiers; since his Polish campaigns he had never been able to wear armour, for the lead was still in his flesh and any pressure irritated him; he had even discarded the small gorget or breast plate and was the least protected man in his army.

Drawing rein in front of his battle line, Gustavus pulled off his hat and addressed his men, his beloved rough and trusty Swedes; it was early in the morning of September 17th, 1631, nearly eighteen months since Gustavus had landed in Germany, and at last he was face to face with the enemy whom he had come so far to challenge.

Gustavus was still an imposing figure for all his sober attire; he had grown very massive and heavy, but this was set off by his great height, a very golden giant of a man he looked as the faint autumn sun gleamed on his yellow hair.

Raising his powerful voice he said:

"From a distant land, from beloved homes are we come here to battle for freedom, for truth, for Thy Gospel. Give us Victory for the sake of Thy Holy Name. Amen!"

This noble and moving prayer, of which there is not the least reason to suspect the utter sincerity, profoundly affected the Swedes and inspired these rude-looking peasants with the spirit to meet the pompous veterans of the Emperor.

Gustavus must have known that this battle would be not only the turning point of the war, but one of the decisive battles of the world's history; defeat for him would mean the overthrow of Protestantism in Germany; defeat for Tilly that set-back to the Emperor that Gustavus had declared in Stockholm two years before would "give him a good shaking."

What he could not have known was that the contest before him would come to be considered as the first battle of modern warfare, an epoch in military science as well as an epoch in history.

The modern ideas of Gustavus which he was now able to put into practice in a great pitched battle consisted in breaking up his men into light columns and shallow lines—here only six deep, while he made his artillery mobile, scattering it among the troops, ready to move when needful; a third change was that the flint-lock muskets of the Swedes were light and easily carried and did not impede the movement of the men.

Tilly relied entirely on the old-fashioned methods, his battaglia were drawn up fifty deep, his artillery was in a fixed position, his muskets were so heavy that they had to be placed in rests while they were fired; it was speed and lightness opposed to mass and heaviness.

Tilly had the advantages of the sun and wind behind him, and of being in position when Gustavus came up, so that the Swedes had to marshal under the fire of the Imperialists; Gustavus put his guns in line as soon as possible and returned the cannon shots three for one, while he coolly deployed and advanced his men, making sure that everything was in order before he gave the signal for attack.

Meanwhile the dust from the parched plain was blowing on to the Swedes, and the glare of the rising sun was in their eyes; Tilly, more comfortable, waited; sure of himself and slow of habit he saw no need of hurry. It was otherwise with Pappenheim, a dashing cavalry leader of the type that Prince Rupert of the Palatinate was soon to make familiar in England, and in command of five thousand of the best horsemen in the world; galled by hours of the enemy's incessant firing and impatient of old Tilly's caution, the bold and reckless Pappenheim took it upon himself to charge Banèr on the Swedish right.

As Tilly saw the cavalry thundering across the plain without his orders, he threw up his arms in rage and despair.

"They have robbed me of my glory and the Emperor of the victory!" he cried.

He was right; not only had Pappenheim undertaken a reckless act, but he failed in it; Banèr received the charge with a murderous fire, and, in between his volleys, the Finns and Goths hurled themselves on the Austrians with dauntless energy; Pappenheim turned, wheeled and tried to penetrate the flank of the Swedes; but here the cavalry reserves were ready for him and beat him off with a stern counter-charge.

The impetuous Pappenheim was not easily discouraged; seven times he rallied his splendid cavalry, seven times the Swedish front and flank, standing like a wall, repulsed him; the enraged Tilly flung the Holstein Foot to the relief of his wilful lieutenant. The Swedes cut these down as they advanced, the Duke of Holstein dropped at the head of his men; Banèr now surged forward and hurled the remnants of Pappenheim's cavalry off the field; such as were left of them fled towards Halle in disorder; Banèr returned to his place none the worse for the hot contest.

On the left the day had gone differently; Fürstenberg, without waiting orders from Tilly, had followed the bad example of Pappenheim and driven down with the Imperial cavalry on the Saxons who, "begilded, besilvered and beplumed as if they were sitting for their portraits," as Monro put it, had made so heartening a show on their big, stout German horses.

At the first shock, however, these showy warriors "fled in companies," as Gustavus afterwards wrote; in half an hour Fürstenberg and Isolani had swept them off the field, John George in the middle of them; the Elector scampered off to Eilenburg, and his men anywhere they could reach; half of the forces of Gustavus had now been scattered, and his left flank was left bare.

But one good service the runaways did, they drew off some of their pursuers from the general action; still Tilly's men now outnumbered the Swedes three to one, and Tilly saw the moment to make an attack on the weakened left of the enemy; and he moved forward behind Fürstenberg, much impeded by Torstenson's heavy fire. Now was seen the value of the quick tactics of Gustavus; before the Imperialists could reach their bare flank, Horn had advanced and covered it; the Imperialists were driven back, while Gustavus, spurring to the right, shouted commands to Banèr, put himself at the head of the West Gothland Horse, and drove in, at a wild gallop, on Tilly's flank, closing right in on the enemy and attacking them with the sword.

Four regiments, two of the Smålanders, the East Goths and the Finns, moved up to support this attack, and Gustavus dashed with them straight up the slope where stood the Imperial artillery; in a few seconds the gunners were slain, the guns, heavy as they were, swung round and fired on to the plain where Tilly now stood at bay, amazed by tactics so swift, so skilful and so new.

Tilly was now caught between two fires, his own artillery and that of Torstenson; he had no cavalry, no guns, no reserves, he was surrounded. Still his unwieldy masses stood defiant about him; the Spanish and Walloons formed round the old general in a grim square; they had no prospect of anything save death, but the troops that had believed themselves invincible stood stoutly by the chief who had believed himself invincible, in the hour of their mutual defeat.

For hours the sullen formations stood to be devastated on the plain; the road to Leipsic was cut off, but some of the Imperialists fought their way out fiercely along the Düben road; the rest remained firm till nightfall, when a general confusion of retreat began; without organization the infantry broke into a flight that speedily became a stampede, flying in all directions under cover of the merciful autumn twilight; the battered Imperialists left Gustavus in complete possession of the field.

Tilly, thrice wounded, was gathered up in a cloak by his loyal Walloons and carried to Halle, and then to Halberstadt; he had shown obstinate stoutness in the battle and that was all he was able to show; the action had begun without his orders and continued without his directions, he was also completely taken by surprise by the dashing tactics of Gustavus and would probably have been defeated even without the imprudence of Pappenheim.

It is told that Gustavus went on his knees on the hard-won field and thanked God for the victory, and it is likely enough that he did so; humanly speaking, this victory was due to his own resource, courage and quickness—in a word, to his genius, ably seconded by the hard fighting qualities of the Swedes, Finns and Scots.

Seven thousand Imperialists had been slain, five thousand were prisoners. Gustavus captured not only all the artillery, but the military chest and their entire camp equipment, together with ninety flags; many thousands more of flying stragglers were killed by the peasants.

The losses of the Swedes were seven hundred men, those of the Saxons two thousand, mostly cut down in flight, thus showing it is safer to stand your ground than fly from it; the behaviour of these troops had been disgraceful to the Elector whose own conduct was as contemptible in war as in politics; it would have been well for Germany if one of Fürstenberg's men had sabred down John George in his ignoble flight. Monro, the Scots leader, says, "it was the Scots briggad's fortune to have gotten the praise of the foote service."

He also leaves this picture of the eve of the famous battle of Breitenfeldt:

"We encamped upon the place of Battaille, the living merry and rejoicing, though without drinke at the night wake of their dead camerades and friends lying there on the ground in the bed of honour...Our bone fiers were made of the enemie's ammunition waggons, and of pikes left for want of good fellows to use them, and all this night our brave camerades the Saxons were making good use of their heels in flying...whereas strangers were hazarding their lives for their freedom."

The immediate moral effect of this great victory was tremendous; Gustavus became at once the "Bulwark of Protestantism," the Lion of the North; his praises were on every one's lips, medals, pamphlets, news celebrated his exploit; his country took on the position of a first-class power, and he became the most distinguished man of his times.

The Imperialists could find nothing to say save that their defeat seemed grotesque—"as if God had turned Protestant."

Laggards, prisoners and neutrals now swelled the victorious ranks of Sweden; all those who had hesitated between Gustavus and Ferdinand now came forward with offers of assistance for the victor; Tilly met Pappenheim, rallied his army, forced new recruits into it, and fell back behind the Weser.

The way to Vienna was a second time open to Gustavus; both Oxenstiern and John George urged him to take it; the Elector, elated by the startling success in which he had had no hand, confidently talked of putting the Imperial diadem on the brow of Gustavus, and had the Swede been personally ambitious no doubt he would have made a push for this prize.

But he had not come to Germany for crowns; he made at once the wise and generous decision which does him the greatest honour, to remain in Germany and protect the Protestants there; he knew, too, that even if he had been at the gates of Vienna it would not have meant the end of Ferdinand nor of Austria; that grim, wily man had many resources, and Vienna was not the real capital nor the last resource of his vague Empire.

Gustavus resolved to free and arm the Protestants of South-West Germany, thus refusing to sacrifice the interests he had come to defend for any dubious personal glory and proving the purity of his intentions. Ferdinand was desperate; he thought of flying to Gratz; Vienna was said to be "dumb with fright," the walls of every city in Austria were manned, whole forests were cut down and flung across the roads along which it was feared the dreaded Swede might march; now that Tilly had collapsed, the Imperialists thought of Wallenstein, sulking in his court in Bohemia, or coddling his gout at Karlsbad.

In prosperity all had hated this overbearing, cold and arrogant man, in disaster all turned to him as the one hope; after Richelieu and Gustavus he was the most powerful personality in Europe.

But Wallenstein was a mercenary; he had been wronged by the Emperor to whom he had never felt any attachment, and his pride was without measure.

He began to negotiate with Gustavus, but the Swede would have none of such a man; he could not trust the Bohemian, though his defection would have been the last blow to the Emperor's cause; Ferdinand made further appeals and Wallenstein played with them, in cruel delay.

Ferdinand did not lose heart; he was not likely to give way while a province or a regiment remained, and he raised all the troops he could to reinforce Tilly, who had recovered from his defeat with admirable speed and been joined by Aldringer with the last instalment of the Italian army.

The Anhalt Princes joined Gustavus, who marched with two columns, often by torchlight, through the Franconian forest, through the "Priests' Alley" as the Bishoprics were called, took all the forts in his way and came out before Wurzburg, the capital of Franconia (October 3rd, 1631), which was stormed by Colonel Axel Lilly and the Scots with the greatest daring, and captured together with the vast riches the Franconians had deposited in the fortress, which was supposed to be divinely protected.

Here the King made a treaty with the Franconian Circle and with the mighty free city of Nuremberg, also with Anspach and Bayreuth; all the dealings of Gustavus were marked by honesty and moderation, the Catholics being treated with toleration and kindness, no light achievement in 1631.

All the Protestants welcomed him as a Deliverer, "a gracious gentle master," and his marches after Breitenfeldt had been like triumphal progresses.

On the other side was confusion; Maximilian of Bavaria, though an able man, had lost his head; he gave such contradictory orders to Tilly that the galled old warrior threatened to throw up his command; Pappenheim quarrelled with Tilly and went back to the Weser on his own; it is noteworthy that he and Bernard of Saxe-Weimar were the only German generals of value engaged in this German war.

No one knew which side Wallenstein would espouse; England was tempting him now and he refused to respond to Ferdinand's appeals; Gustavus went into winter quarters at Mainz with the largest army ever seen in Germany, 153,000 foot and 43,500 horse.

Everywhere the Protestants were in the ascendant, and the Emperor had his back to the wall; he asked Poland for troops, but got none as the Poles were waiting an attack from Russia; Spain could do nothing; Philip III had taken the place of Philip II; the brief brilliancy of the Peninsula was already over.

Ferdinand appealed to the Pope; Christ had leaned from His Cross to tell the iron Hapsburg, "Ferdinand, I will not forsake you," but this promise was not confirmed by His Vicegerent; the Pope would have none of the champion of Catholicism; Urban VIII was as hostile to Ferdinand as Innocent XI to James II, or Paul IV to Philip II.

A tolerant, wise and honourable man, His Holiness eyed the German holocaust with horror, and roundly declared that he would be no party to a war that was clearly to serve the ruthless ambitions of the Hapsburgs and not to advance the interests of the Church.

Urban VIII, while assisting neither side, did not disguise that his good wishes went with Gustavus. Thus abandoned on all counts and finding Wallenstein intractable, Ferdinand began some tentative overtures towards peace.

Gustavus was at Mainz holding Court in some splendour, the most watched, the most dreaded, the most admired man in Europe; his Queen had joined him and he and his armies enjoyed some of the luxuries of the South, but the King was short of money and anxious.

The people might praise him, but the Princes were jealous; the rulers of Europe watched him enviously lest he should grow too great; his allies were shifty and selfish, and he had in a supreme degree that common weakness of mighty men, i.e. all the fabric of his achievement hung on his own life; his heir was a little girl; on his death all he had done and all his hopes would alike vanish.

All the Kings sent envoys to Mainz, to watch as well as to flatter; continual negotiations were going on, with Mecklenburg, with Brunswick, with Lübeck, with Wurtemberg and Strassburg; the King was the centre of all, as indispensable in the Cabinet as in the field; through all he pursued his original aim, the Protestant League, Corpus Evangelicorum; it would have been easier to have made himself Emperor of Germany, but this was not to his mind.

The great King looked round on Europe and saw it all at odds; England, which should have been his ally, played a feeble shiftless part under Charles I, weak and false as his father, who was, in fact, tampering with the desperate Ferdinand for the restoration of his brother-in-law, "the Winter King," now the guest of Gustavus at Mainz.

Richelieu was tempting Maximilian of Bavaria to leave the Emperor; the Netherlands were serving their own ends, those of gain.

Gustavus in his achievement, as in his attempts, had to still stand alone; he could count on no one but his Swedes, Oxenstiern and his generals, and his brother-in-law, John Casimir, ruling faithfully for him at home.

But outwardly all was lustrous with success. Gustavus saw his line stretch from the Rhine to the Moldau, the Palatinate cleared of the Spanish, John George in Prague, the rich library of Marienburg-on-Main sent to Upsala, as a set-off to the Heidelberg library sent to Rome. He heard himself called the "Protestant Emperor" and credited with the design of marching not only on Vienna but on the stronghold of Papacy itself across the Alps; to those who came to fawn and flatter at Mainz, everything seemed possible for the Swede to achieve; he alone knew the immense difficulties that hampered him at every turn.

Maximilian of Bavaria was in terror for his rich country and thought of nothing but protecting it; old Tilly, despite his vexation with this selfish Prince, remained loyal to the House of Hapsburg, but Wallenstein still showed an icy front to the Imperial prayers, and Gustavus again lingered over the idea of employing the redoubtable mercenary.

In the early spring, 1632, Gustavus must fight again, however uncertain the way looked, however shifty his allies or bitter his enemies, however jealous his friends. Tilly advanced from the Danube, Gustavus with the main army drove him back into Bavaria.

The magnificent free city of Nuremberg invited Gustavus to visit her rich dark streets, her glowing churches, her jutting castle, and the Protestant champion was received there with joyous pride, and the wealthiest town in Central Europe gave the "Liberator" a fitting welcome.

Gustavus and Frederic of Bohemia marched through the streets packed with enthusiastic citizens, and, says Monro, "they gifted unto the King of Sweden four half cartowes (cannon) with all furniture belonging to them, together with two silver globes, one celestial, one terrestrial."

That same night the rapid southward march was continued; Donauworth fell, and the Swedes were over the Danube in a hostile Papist country where all the stragglers were murdered and tortured by the peasantry; Tilly, defending Bavaria, waited in a strong position on the opposite bank of the Lech at Rain; with him was Maximilian, a brave man, if no great soldier, and wishful to fight for his country; this position was considered impregnable, but Gustavus did not think so; under the heavy fire of the Imperialists, he threw a pontoon bridge, crossed his men under cover of a smoke screen made by burning damp straw, and sent some of his cavalry up stream to a ford. These operations drew Tilly; at the head of some picked troops he sallied out of his camp, but the Swedes threw them back in confusion.

After a sharp tussle of six hours the Imperialists were defeated; the Bavarians had lost three thousand men, the Swedes two thousand; more important, Tilly was wounded to the death; as night fell a messenger was sent to Gustavus asking him to allow the barber surgeon of Anspach to attend the dying man; the King at once consented, but Tilly was beyond aid.

Maximilian took him in a litter, with the remnants of the army, in the dark to Ingolstadt, while Gustavus occupied Rain.

A fortnight later, Tilly died, advising Maximilian, as the last hope, to get hold of Wallenstein; bitter advice for the Elector who loathed the Bohemian and had been the main cause of his dismissal three years before.

Gustavus continued his victorious march, occupied the wealthy Augsburg, cradle of Protestantism, and advanced into Bavaria; booty, spoils of foe and gift of friend, became more than the troops could carry.

Before Ingolstadt—where Tilly lay dead—the Swedes were repulsed; Maximilian drew off to Ratisbon and Gustavus pursued his way to Munich; on May 17th the keys of Maximilian's capital were brought to the Swede and Bavaria lay at the feet of a conqueror; Gustavus was master from the Arctic to the Alps where Bernard of Weimar had penetrated.

Frederic of Bohemia was able to march in triumph through the capital of the man who had driven him from his own; this must have been the proudest moment in the life of the poor Elector who knew so little of pride.

Gustavus remained three weeks in Munich, his affable manners, his charming personality, his moderation and justice winning love even from the Roman Catholics; he carried his toleration so far as to attend High Mass on Ascension Day, where for two hours he listened to, and beheld the solemn pomp and imposing ceremonies of the faith he had come to combat and to check.

Not for a moment was he deceived as to the stability of all this sparkling glory; his allies were more jealous than ever, his friends more disunited; worst of all, Wallenstein had at last concluded a bargain with the Emperor.

An infernal bargain it was, in substance this: Wallenstein was to raise an army by any means he could, he was to support it by any means he could, and he was to have over it supreme authority; in no way was Ferdinand to interfere, even in matters of life and death; Wallenstein was to be King and Governor over any troops he could get. This was the Bohemian's revenge for his dismissal, which still rankled so gallingly in his cold heart; the Emperor had to take him at his own terms, but with bitter resentment and the resolve to get rid of him the moment he was no longer necessary; the murder of Wallenstein, which actually took place in 1634, was no doubt decided upon when he took over the command of the Imperial forces in the spring of 1632.

Every one hated Wallenstein; but it was a mighty name; in three months it had got together forty thousand men, the most ruthless, bloody, dishonest ruffians ever called soldiers, scoundrels of all classes, faiths and nationalities; there was, they knew, no hope of pay from Ferdinand, but there was great hope of plunder from Wallenstein, the boldest robber, the most unscrupulous mercenary even in an age so prolific of both.

Wallenstein began by tampering with the treacherous John George; and with Arnim, his one-time lieutenant, who had recently gone over to the Protestants, he was soon in complete accord; the toils of treachery began to enmesh Gustavus.

Wallenstein soon made the terror of his name lively again in Germany; he pressed into Saxony, the Saxons ran, and blood and ruin marked the track of the fell followers of the awful Bohemian.

Gustavus left Munich, moved northwards, heard on every side bad news, the wavering of John George, the falling away of the Bavarian conquests, the march of Maximilian to meet Wallenstein, the rush of Pappenheim on to Franconia.

The Swede's great hope and desire was a pitched battle in which he could crush Wallenstein as he had crushed Tilly at Breitenfeldt, but he did not know how to accomplish this; he was too beset, his operations were on too large a scale; it was almost impossible for him to have a definite and concerted plan of action.

He made a dashing attempt to prevent the junction of his enemies, but was too late. Wallenstein touched with Maximilian, June 14th, 1632, and then "All in thunder and lightning, all in fire and tempest" took and destroyed the Palatinate.

He had now sixty-five thousand troops, which his genius for command, the icy force of his character and the fascination of his name, kept in hand, villains as they were; the authority of such a man as Wallenstein over such troops as his can well be likened to the authority of Lucifer over lesser devils.

Gustavus had split up his forces so that he had only eighteen thousand men under his personal command; he fell back on Nuremberg, which he had pledged his word to protect. On came Wallenstein, bloated with the blood, black with the smoke of sacked and burning towns and villages, threatening vengeance against Nuremberg.

It was more to the honour than to the advantage of Gustavus to remain in this city; had he abandoned it to the fury of the Imperialists and fallen back on the Rhine he might have drawn up all his forces, detached Maximilian (who was not likely to fight outside Bavaria), met Wallenstein on equal terms, and come to a truce or a peace with Ferdinand.

But it was out of the question for Gustavus to abandon Nuremberg; he at once additionally fortified the city, encamped and entrenched his army round it, and waited for Wallenstein, who came up with his huge army and a train of Imperialist generals, Maximilian himself, Gallas, Aldringer, Piccolomini, Hoick and Sparre, all brave with plumes and gold, spangles and steel.

Gustavus, spying them through his perspective glass, hoped for a battle; but such was not Wallenstein's desire. At first he was inclined to betray Ferdinand to Gustavus, then he sat down to starve the Swedes out; taking no notice of the other generals, Wallenstein withdrew into his tent in the midst of his eight-mile camp and coldly waited outside the Swedish positions.

Wallenstein kept his own hordes together by sheer terror, hangings and floggings, and disclosed his mind to no one; his icy coldness seemed to scorn all men, friend and foe.

He had one advantage over Gustavus, the possession of the Croats, light cavalry excellent at forays, "the ranke riders and common harryers of the Imperial army" who scoured up all available provisions for miles round, while the Swedes had no horsemen.

For two months this inaction went on; then hunger, then plague broke out in the town, in both camps; Gustavus had to see people die so fast graves could not be made to hold them, dead horses tainting the air, men fighting for a pittance of bread, a fragment of meat.

In those ghastly summer months 29,000 souls perished among besiegers and besieged, the wretched Frederic fell ill, the famous discipline of Gustavus began to break.

This infuriated the King; he blamed, and justly, not the Swedes, but the Germans.

"They are no Swedes that commit these crimes," he said sternly to the troops, "but you Germans yourselves. Had I known you to be such a people...I would never have saddled a horse for your sakes...I came but to restore every man to his own, but this most accursed and devilish robbing of yours does much abate my purpose. I have not enriched myself by as much as by one pair of boots since my coming to Germany, though I have had forty tons of gold pass through my hands."

While Gustavus was thus inactive in Nuremberg he was not idle; he drafted out, in common with the German Princes with him the terms of a peace to be offered to the Emperor, one of which was the acceptance by Ferdinand of the cherished Corpus Evangelicorum of Gustavus.

The conditions in town and camps became more terrible; Wallenstein regarded the agonies of his men with dark indifference, but Gustavus could not endure the sufferings of the Swedes; when, on 12th August, his reinforcements under Oxenstiern, Banèr and Bernard reached Nuremberg he resolved to storm the Imperial camp on the hills at Alte Veste. He had hoped that Wallenstein would be drawn out to prevent the reinforcements coming up; but the Bohemian never stirred and Gustavus began to be desperate from sheer want of food.

On the 24th August a general assault was made on Alte Veste, a frantic fight of twelve hours against awful odds (with the King as usual in the hottest of the contest) which ended in the repulse of the Swedes; they left four thousand dead on the slopes, Banèr wounded, Torstenson a prisoner; Gustavus had had his boot shot away, Bernard's horse had been killed under him. Wallenstein remained unmoved, but admitted that the battle had been hot; to the Emperor he wrote that "the King's course is already downward, he has completely lost credit and will be completely done for as soon as Pappenheim arrives."

While he wrote this Gustavus had drawn off from Nuremberg, leaving a garrison behind him; four days afterwards Wallenstein, too, left the walls of the famished city.

Gustavus had, with touching, simple gallantry, sent him a challenge, which he had ignored, but now he was after the Swede to defeat him in the open; at Merseburg he met Pappenheim while Gustavus was returning to the siege of Ingolstadt. On hearing that the enemy was in Saxony, Gustavus swung round, left Bavaria, and in eighteen days was at Erfurt—"as if he had flown," said Wallenstein, checked in his advance on Dresden; he, too, turned and came up to Naumburg, to entrench himself against the King.

It was late October now, and cold. Wallenstein did not believe that Gustavus would fight that winter.

But the King had decided to do so; he felt that his only security lay in the possibility of another victory like Breitenfeldt; he was filled, too, with a strong presentiment that his work was over, his life done; it would be a miracle indeed if he could continue to fight as he had fought, expose himself as he had exposed himself, and live.

With Oxenstiern, as they had marched through the autumn forests of Thuringia, he had spoken of his beloved kingdom and his little child, drawing up a plan of regency for Christina if he should fall; at Saale, where the market-place was packed with people praising him, he had said:

"Think not of me, I am a weak and dying man. Think of the Cause."

He took a kind farewell of his Queen, who had come to Erfurt, of his Chancellor, charged the garrison to have a good care of them, and rode after his troops, 31st October 1632.

Wallenstein took Leipsic, but Gustavus saved Naumburg; the inhabitants went on their knees to him in their gratitude and the King was troubled.

"God will surely punish me for receiving such adoration—yet I hope He will not suffer my work to fail whatever becomes of me."

On the 4th November Gustavus heard that Pappenheim had left Wallenstein to go to save Cologne; Gustavus resolved to attack the weakened Imperial army without waiting for the dubious Saxon reinforcements, and advanced towards Weissenfels where Wallenstein had left Colloredo to watch the enemy.

At ten o'clock that morning Wallenstein, secure and haughty in his pavilion, was amazed to hear three shots from Colloredo, the signal to be given if the enemy should advance.

At once he wrote to Pappenheim:

"The enemy is advancing. Sir, let everything else be, and hurry with all your forces and artillery back to me."

All that day the Swedes advanced, skirmishing with the Croats in the Rippach pass, while Wallenstein made ready for battle with fierce haste, frantically flinging his battalions into position.

The winter night was dark and cold; the two armies, with their arms beside them, lay down to sleep on the bare ground of the flat Saxon plain. Gustavus with the brilliant Bernard and the tough old Kniphausen, took some rest in his field coach, but only for a few hours.

The dawn was obscured by a thick, stinging, chilly, white mist through which the Swedish drums beat and the voices of the chaplains rose reciting prayers before each regiment as it fell into line.

Gustavus, on his white horse, rode among the men as they stood to their arms; he had not tasted food and thought of nothing but the coming battle; he wore his elk-skin coat, stained and dusty.

As the mist lifted a little Luther's psalm, Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott, and then the battle song of the King's own composition, penetrated the early vapours, Versage nicht du Haüflein klein.

Gustavus then made a short speech to his men. "If you flinch from this fight you know that not a man of you will see Sweden again," he reminded his countrymen. He then waved his mighty sword over his bared head with the peak of golden hair, crying: "Forward in God's name! Jesu! Jesu!"

The mist had now partially cleared and a pallid sunshine fell across the plain, to mingle with a ruddier light given by the flames of Lützen, fired by Wallenstein. At eleven o'clock, general charges began, horse and foot at once, all along the line.

The nine hours' fight that followed is little known, but has been much written of; all accounts differ and all are in some degree untrustworthy; the generally accepted version may or may not be the truth of that desperate and hideous struggle, so frantic that even an eye-witness could not keep a chronicle of it.

The slaughter was at once terrific, the odds even for hours; backward and forward over the hillocks and ditches fought the Swedes, the Finns, the Croats and Piccolomini's Black Cuirassiers; the Austrian artillery was wrenched from them, then wrenched back; Wallenstein, crippled with gout, carried in a litter, encouraged his men with implacable resolve, with cold decision.

The Swedes appeared to have the advantage when at midday Pappenheim came up at a gallop, shouting for the King, with the hope of a hand-to-hand conflict with his rival.

Gustavus had heard that his centre had been pressed back, and rushed to the aid of his infantry, heading the Småland cavalry; heavy as he was, he overrode all his companions and disappeared into a wreath of mist and on to the causeway of the Austrian line that the Swedes had just been forced to abandon; a little page, Leufelfing, galloped after him.

As the first of the Smalanders came up they were met by the royal horse galloping through the fog, his flanks bright with blood, his pace frenzied as he thundered down the line.

It was thus the Finlanders learnt that the King had fallen, that he was lost, if not slain.

A fury consumed the Swedes, they clamoured to be led into action; the news spread to the valorous Bernard, and with it the suggestion of retreat.

"Not retreat but vengeance!" shouted the young Duke.

A ferocious death struggle took place all along the line; Pappenheim was shot, soaking with his death blood the letter Wallenstein had just sent him; it is said he learnt of the fall of Gustavus before he expired; Nils Brahe was slain amid piles of his countrymen.

The awful news of the death of Gustavus spread, bringing fury with it; the heroic Bernard declared his intention to fight to the last man and all the Swedes were frantic to avenge the King; Bernard cut down an officer who hesitated to lead his men.

Nothing could resist the mighty onset of his torn and devastated ranks; before nightfall Bernard had destroyed the last army of the Emperor and whipped Wallenstein back to Leipsic with twelve thousand men, all his artillery, and standards left behind on the ravaged plain which groaned with the agony of the dying.

The Bohemian had been utterly defeated, his army torn to tatters and the end of the Thirty Years' War, however long that futile horror might drag on, decided. Gustavus had accomplished what he had set out to accomplish; the power of the Hapsburgs was broken and the ultimate safety of Protestantism secured.

Under a heap of slain the bitter Finns found the grand body of the King, close by that of the loyal page, Leufelfing; Gustavus had been shot through the bridle arm, the back, and pierced with swords, stripped, trampled on by horse and man, but the noble, gentle presence was unmistakable, even in such a death, to the Smalanders.

It is doubtful if those who slew him knew who he was; he had fallen, as he was bound to fall, through his own rash courage.

"God Almighty lives if I die," he had answered Oxenstiern when he had begged him to wear armour, for that dreadful time, at least.

The body was put in an ammunition waggon and taken to the little village of Meuchen; it had been recovered by the bravest of the brave, the flower of the Swedish army, Stoelhanske's Finlanders, in leading whom the King had fallen, and such of them as survived took their King to the humble Lutheran church and laid him, wrapped in cloaks stiff with blood, before the altar.

While the village schoolmaster read by candlelight the Service for the Dead over the solitary corpse, the sullen Finlanders, in complete, bloody, dinted armour, mounted guard outside in the winter dark.

Then, by torchlight, they carried Gustavus to the schoolmaster's house; he was so mangled that his entrails had to be removed and buried in the church; it was not possible to count the wounds he had received. In this simple place the schoolmaster was also the carpenter; he fashioned, during that night after the battle, a rude coffin for Gustavus Adolphus.

In the morning the Finns laid the King in this and bore him to Weissenfels where the body was embalmed, and then to Wittenberg, and then to Wolgast, and so slowly back to Sweden at last.

He had been from home two and a half years; in that time he had changed the face of Europe without tarnishing one of the purest reputations ever possessed by the noblest of men, and he had sealed with his blood his honourable endeavour and his high design.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

JON STEFANSSON, Denmark and Sweden, London, 1916. C. R. L. FLETCHER, Gustavus Adolphus, New York and London, 1890. T. A. DODGE, Gustavus Adolphus, London, n.d. T. SCHILLER, trans. A. J. W. MORRISON, History of the Thirty Years' War, London, 1901. W. HARTE (1759), History of Gustavus Adolphus, London, 1807, 2 vols. G. DROYSEN, Gustav Adolf, Leipsic, 1869. Letters of Gustavus Adolphus, 1630-1-2, Gröningen, 1860; Letters and Writings of Gustavus Adolphus (Konung Gustav Adolfs Skrifter), Stockholm, 1861; The Swedish Intelligencer, 1632-1637, London, same years; Campagnes de Gustave Adolphe, Brussels, 1887—edited by H. O. FEITH. GENERAL VON BULOW, Gustav Adolfs Feldzug in Deutschland, 1808. B. CHAPMAN, Gustavus Adolphus, London, 1856. CONSUL STEVENS, Gustavus Adolphus, London, 1885. ABRAHAM CRONHOLM, Gustav Adolf, Stockholm. WEIBULL, Gustav Adolf, Stockholm, 1884.



CARLOS II OF SPAIN
1661-1700

KING OF SPAIN, OF JERUSALEM, NAPLES, SICILY AND SARDINIA, THE NEW WORLD (EAST AND WEST INDIES AND OCEANIA), ARCHDUKE OF AUSTRIA, DUKE OF LUXEMBURG, OF MILAN, COUNT OF HAPSBURG, OF FLANDERS, TYROL AND BARCELONA, MARQUESS OF THE HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE, OVER-LORD OF ASIA AND AFRICA.



Illustration

Carlos II of Spain (1661-1700)



"Du haut de la Montagne,
Près de Guadarrama,
On découvre l'Espagne
Comme un panorama.

"A l'horizon sans borne
Le grave Escorial
Lève son dôme morne
Noir de l'ennui royal."

—Théophile Gautier.

*

"Nothing is dead but that which wished to die;
Nothing is dead but wretchedness and pain."

—Edward Young.

*

"Allá in Nimega aprendás, hijo mio, muchas cosas, entre otras, á conocer el género de imbéciles que gobierna el mundo."
—Oxenstiern, in "Carlos II y su Corte." —Maura Gamazo.



In one of the large obscure chambers of the Alcázar, the Royal palace in the environs of Madrid, a child sat on the lap of his nurse, awaiting visitors.

The Alcázar was outwardly grand and imposing, of white stone and brick, with great terraces and arcades, with gilded balconies and statues, but all austere and plain and gloomily set off by a huge barren courtyard in front, in which no carriages were allowed, and enclosed behind by a large walled park reaching to the banks of the Manzanares, which, wild and neglected, was hidden by gaunt walls.

The interior of this regal dwelling was impressive only from size and gloom; it appeared a fortress and a church more than a residence of kings, and was an odd labyrinth of corridors, chapels, roomy apartments, small closets, courts and little gardens; the windows were few, high, and many of them unglazed; the furniture was scanty and in disorder, the air suffocating from bad ventilation; but there was a superb collection of pictures, the rich and sombre canvases of Velasquez (nearly all painted here), and the pictures of Mazo and Carreno, while in the chamber where the child waited were some resplendent tapestries of which the backgrounds were strewn with pearls and the figures were relieved in massive gold.

The two Frenchmen, the Archbishop of Embrun and the Marquis de Bellefond, when admitted into the dreary audience chamber, surveyed with great curiosity the child amid the sombre group of swarthy, crinolined, haughty women.

He contrived to stand, but remained leaning against the voluminous hoop of the nurse who supported him by the sash of his dress; he wore an English bonnet which he tried to raise, but had not the force to do so; he was four years old, extremely feeble, with fine, soft yellow hair, pale blue eyes, a long, bloodless face, and a full mouth hanging open.

The stately governess made some compliments to the Frenchmen, but the child only murmured "cobrios" ("be covered") vacantly and paid no attention to what was taking place; when he left the room he was guided by his sash, and clung to his nurse's hand, to direct his steps, the governess said, but the Frenchmen shrewdly suspected that he could not walk without assistance.

This child was Carlos II, King of Spain and the Spanish Indies, and, as the Frenchmen left the dismal apartments of the Alcázar, they agreed that he was not likely to live long and that this expectation would be the foundation of European policy, for Carlos was the last of the male Spanish Hapsburgs, and the claimants to his unwieldy and coveted dominions were certain to split Europe into factions, and bring to a climax the long struggle between France and the Emperor.

The immense power of the Hapsburgs through their Spanish and Austrian branches had long been an object of resentment to the majesty of France, and they welcomed an opportunity of establishing themselves in a country they had so hated and feared; two marriages gave them a close interest in the Spanish succession, for Louis XIV was the son of Anne, Infanta and Archduchess, the sister of Philip IV, and married to Maria Teresa, his daughter.

On the other hand, the Emperor's family was equally intermarried with the Spanish Hapsburgs and equally resolved to enforce their claims.

The sister of the Emperor, Mariana, had married her uncle, Philip IV, as his second wife, and was the mother of the puny child on whose life so much depended; Maria Teresa, Queen of France, was a daughter of the first marriage, and, though plain and stupid, enjoyed more robust health than her half-brother, the King of Spain.

The late King, austere, formal and gloomy, never known to smile in public, but vicious and corrupt in private life, had died when his son was four years old, leaving the Regency to a council of government and all the real power in the hands of the Austrian Queen, who followed the traditions of her house by working entirely for the interests of the Court of Vienna and ignoring those of the country into which she had married; she was neither able nor honest, but indolent, arbitrary and jealous, and greatly under the influence of her confessor, a German Jesuit, one Nithard, a narrow-minded and low-born priest at once arrogant and ignorant; the Queen and her favourite were detested by the Spaniards, who in turn detested them; Mariana, blonde, plump and dull, had none of the grandeur nor charm likely to rouse the admiration of a proud and ostentatious people; in the religious habit that etiquette compelled her to wear during her widowhood she looked like a stout nun of no distinction; but her character was of no nunlike cast.

With the calm of an ignorant and limited mind she arrogated to herself the entire charge of her sickly son and the chaotic affairs of his huge domains, carefully keeping at a distance the one man who might have helped the manifold confusions of the State now in a condition of utter decadence.

This man, the last of the Spanish Hapsburgs to show any of the ancient vigour, was the son of Philip IV by the actress, Maria Calderona, or so at least the King declared; as usual, when the mother is of light virtue, this regal paternity had been called in question, and Juan of Austria, handsome, able, lively and brave, was said greatly to resemble the Duke of Las Torres, another lover of the fascinating Calderona.

Juan had been, however, the only acknowledged child of the numerous illegitimate offspring of the grave Philip IV, and, more important, possessed (it was believed) sufficient talent to guide his country, then in the most precarious and wretched state, into some measure of safety. He was, however, forced to retire to Consuegra, though most popular with every class, and leave the government to the Queen and the Jesuit while the infant King, shut in the bare, dark rooms of the Alcázar, surrounded by superstitious women and pompous doctors, wailed incessantly and continued so ailing and infirm that there seemed little chance of his surviving childhood.

It was indeed remarkable that he had resisted his hereditary diseases and his environment so far; as a baby he had been so feeble that he had existed swathed in cotton wool and was hardly expected to live from one day to another; as he struggled into childhood he was tormented by pain and languor. The child of near relatives and of an old worn-out man, Carlos had inherited an exaggeration of the family characteristics and all the diseased frailty of an exhausted race; the terrible taint that the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella the Catholic had brought into the Hapsburg blood had descended to Carlos II with the diadems of Spain and the Indies.

Until he was ten years old he could not walk and reclined on the laps of the women, or on beds; he was racked by headaches and by acute indigestion, for the Hapsburg jaw was so pronounced in him that he could not bring his teeth together, so was unable to masticate his food; he lived on slops, was tortured with medicines and surrounded by women whom he detested, and priests whom he feared.

He only changed the gloomy, dark, ill-furnished rooms of the Alcázar for the slightly more lively surroundings of Buenretiro, a country seat outside Madrid, or distant Aranjuez, or for the dank horrors of the mausoleum of his ancestors, the Escorial.

His mind and his health were alike so feeble that no attempt was made at education; the Queen was blamed for this neglect which was supposed to result from a desire to keep the power in her own hands as long as possible, but even from a worldly point of view, her son's life was extremely valuable to Mariana and she doubtless feared to jeopardize it by any attempt at forcing him to mental effort; this kinder judgment seems also the more reasonable.

Some lessons, however, he did learn thoroughly: first, that he was the greatest King in the world; second, that the Grand Inquisitor was even greater than he, as representing God on earth, and that the meanest monk was worthy of reverence, even from a Hapsburg; and, last, that he must loathe all Jews and heathen, and detest all Frenchmen, the insolent rivals of the grandeur of Spain and of the might of her natural ally, the Emperor.

His sole excitements were provided by the Church, and took the form of stately services of ferocious gloom and dark splendour and visits to sombre convents and churches; he had no companions of his own age, he was kept shut away from every one who did not belong to the Queen's party, his soul poisoned by the Church, his body by the doctors, and both by the governesses, duefias and maids; the tyranny of these last affected him with a nervous hatred that caused him to shudder at the sight of a woman.

This wretched, hidden life was meanwhile the most precious in Europe; on the possible length of his days and his chance of heirs, on the probability of the French or the German faction forcing a wife on him hung the anxious speculations of all the statesmen of the moment. Never had Europe been so clearly divided, never had the long struggle between France and the Hapsburgs been so sharply denned and so near a climax.

That this was so was largely due to the character of two men.

While Carlos II grew up languishing and lifeless in the dismal seclusion of the Alcázar of Madrid, shivering before women and crouching before priests, the rival throne of France was occupied by a monarch in the full lustre of manhood, singularly able, majestic, enterprising and ambitious; under Louis XIV France was rapidly rising to those heights of brilliant power occupied by Spain under Philip II.

Troubled by no scruples and delayed by no fears, he had seized the opportunity provided by the feeble rule of Mariana to grasp a large portion of the Spanish Netherlands under the excuse that they were the dowry of his wife; he also menaced Franche-Comte, and Spain, in no condition to resist these aggressions, covered as they were by a specious show of legality, had to watch helplessly the heritage of Mary of Burgundy snatched from the House of Hapsburg and united to that of Bourbon.

The Emperor, slow, poor and crippled by costly wars with the Turks and Hungarians, was alarmed but inactive; England, which should have held the balance of power, was reduced to passivity by the policy of Louis which bribed King and government to shuffling inaction; the Netherlands, marked down by France as the next victim to her ambition, had as much as she could do to hold her own; and Spain remained defenceless without an ally, or, it seemed, the hope of one.

Louis, equipped with all the arts and graces necessary to a great king and resplendent with easy and showy successes, appeared invulnerable and invincible and capable of seizing the entire heritage of the sickly boy growing up so dismally in Madrid.

An opponent to the magnificent Frenchman rose in an unexpected quarter, however, and, opposing him with heroism in the field and genius in the cabinet, checked his triumphal progress by consolidating the forces in opposition to him and finally brought his ambitions to nothing.

This man was William of Orange, who had inherited the lustre of the fame of renowned ancestors and was nearly connected with the thrones of England and France; his check to Louis in Holland put some heart into the Emperor, who declared war on France; Spain was for the moment saved and the remnants of her once glorious and conquering armies went to swell the forces of William of Orange then facing Louis in the Spanish Netherlands.

Such was the general position of Europe when Carlos II was painfully growing to manhood and Spain was falling into ruin under the rule of Mariana of Austria and her Jesuit confessor, whose insolence had grown to such a height that he retorted to some protests by the grandees: "I wonder you like to speak so to one who has your God daily in his hands and your Queen daily at his feet."

Not one person of capacity was in the Spanish administration; the nobles who filled the high offices at home were superb, proud, ignorant and lazy to an incredible degree, the viceroys and governors abroad were rapacious, cruel and dishonest, the people everywhere sunk in misery, disease and crime; there was no organization whatever anywhere, acts of violence were as unregarded as the filth that cumbered the streets of Madrid, and an epidemic of foul disease was received as much a matter of course as the swarms of hideous beggars and thieves that infested every byway in the kingdom.

As no one was paid, every one lived by corruption; all appointments were sold to the highest bidder; as the soldiers were not only unpaid but starving, they deserted the garrisons of the frontier towns and turned robbers; every possible source of income was mortgaged for years to come, no accounts were kept and when any money did chance to come into the State coffers all and sundry dipped their fingers therein; the poverty even in the Royal palaces was glaring; the King's household often lacked not only money but food, and the ragged Royal guard might often be seen struggling with mendicants for the charity of bread and soup at a convent gate.

Money had been borrowed from every European State that could be induced to lend it, and such wits as the Spanish grandees possessed were exhausted in a parade of haughty pretences to hide the national bankruptcy and interminable excuses to avoid payment of their obligations.

The Indies, whose huge resources should have kept Spain the mighty power she once had been, were so badly administered as to be almost useless; with no genius for anything but rapacity and pride, despising trade and incapable of any organization, the viceroys and officials oppressed both the natives and the original settlers so as to reduce them to despairing apathy and render them incapable of work, plundered what produce and materials should have been sent to Spain, and often carried their tyranny so far as to provoke an expensive revolt.

Added to this the fleet of Spain was in the most miserable condition, the merchant ships few and wretched, and the high seas swarming with buccaneers who usually succeeded in seizing the badly guarded treasure ships that did venture from America or the Indies to Spain.

The crews were also likely to turn pirate and divert the cargo for their own use, or, if the galleons were lucky enough to reach Europe, they might be confiscated in a foreign port to satisfy the creditors who were weary of importuning the Court of Madrid for payment of their debts; in this manner the Elector of Hanover seized Spanish ships in Hamburg, recouping himself for money loaned to Spain and depriving that government of sorely needed and long expected supplies.

In this grotesque state of affairs commerce was paralysed, enterprise perished, private energy was useless, and the whole credit of the kingdom vanished; Spain became a jest to her enemies and an intolerable burden to her friends, for the Spaniards, making no efforts to retrieve their fortunes, maintained a gloomy pride, a lofty calm, a stupid apathy intolerable to their neighbours; refusing to admit any defects, they posed as the greatest nation in the world and their poverty was only equalled by the pretentious arrogance with which they refused to own it; added to this, the Court of Madrid affected a stiff formality, a tedious pomp and an irritating slowness as amazing as it was exasperating.

William of Orange on the fields of Flanders and Admiral de Ruyter in the waters of Sicily learnt bitterly to curse the day when they had been hampered by an alliance with the greedy pride, the haughty obstinacy of the dying majesty of Spain.

Don Juan of Austria might have done something to redeem the general state of disaster, but refused to serve in the war because he knew the Queen designed to leave him without money or troops and blame him for the result, as she had already done in the case of the contest with Portugal.

This war had ended in a humiliating recognition of the rights of the House of Braganza, and a revolt in Messina and the French conquests in Sicily added to the Spanish misfortunes; Carlos II, as he languidly struggled into manhood in the gloom and seclusion of his vast palaces, was ruling over kingdoms falling every day into worse confusions and discords.

Don Juan had made some attempt to force the Queen into a convent, to exile her confessor and grasp the government, but had been appeased by the vice-royalty of Aragon where he continued to nurse his ambitions; these were supposed to include a design on the Crown and certainly did include a scheme to be officially recognized as an Infant of Spain, for Don Juan had his full share of Spanish pride.

The behaviour of the Queen having made Austria detested in Spain, and France being her natural enemy, Don Juan may well have indulged the hope of ousting both the Bourbon and the Imperial branches of the Houses of Hapsburg when the death of the feeble Carlos should leave these in competition for the throne of Spain.

Don Juan, though, removed from Madrid his principal enemy; the Queen had contrived to have the detested Nithard made Inquisitor General, the most powerful position in Spain, but Don Juan, intriguing in the Vatican, induced the Pope to deprive the Jesuit of this office and recall him to Rome.

He left, however, a successor, one of his creatures, a certain Fernando Valenzuela, a low-born adventurer from Granada who had gained an admittance to Court as page to a grandee, the Duke of Infantado.

Cunning, dexterous, handsome and of insinuating address, Valenzuela had succeeded in marrying one of the Queen's favourite women and in thus procuring the entry to the sombre apartments, hung with mourning, where Mariana of Austria, in her widow's weeds, an unbecoming nun's habit, whiled away her boredom with monstrous dwarfs, the gossip of her women and the admonitions of the priests.

The flamboyant fascinations of Valenzuela broke agreeably into this stately but drab seclusion, and when she lost Nithard, Mariana did not hesitate to put Valenzuela in his place as prime favourite; he was soon disposing of such power as the Queen possessed and outraging the grandees with his ostentatious airs, unbridled insolence and avid greed, which equally infuriated the people from whom he had sprung; he was even more unpopular than Nithard had ever been, but the Queen was also more besotted with him than ever with the Jesuit.

He was, of course, accredited with being her lover and it is extremely probable that he was so; the pale, flat-faced Queen ventured to put aside her religious garb when receiving Valenzuela and to display her plump charms in a becoming disarray; the whisper of this indecorum was sufficient to destroy her reputation, but Mariana was as careless of good report as of good sense.

Carlos meanwhile grew up ignorant alike of disasters abroad and scandals at home, and attained his majority at fifteen (1676) without a shadow of power passing into his hands or any one making any attempt to instruct him in anything but the grandeurs of the pure Hapsburg descent, the infallibility of the Church and the fabulous might of Spain.

He knew nothing of either the ruinous wars in which he was involved abroad or the glaring mal-administration which rendered the colonies useless, or the fatal policies with which his mother and her partisans contrived to confuse confusion at home.

When in his vast and obscure palaces he endeavoured, when the languor of illness permitted him, to amuse himself with childish games, when at Buenretiro he showed some interest in the chase, not always skilfully, for on one occasion he caused the tender Mariana to faint because he had hurtled his spear into the leg of her beloved Valenzuela.

Don Juan made an attempt to rescue Carlos from this tutelage and presented himself at Court; Carlos was, however, completely under the influence of his mother and sent a peremptory command to the Prince to retire to his viceroyalty of Aragon, where the discomfited Juan was obliged to retreat.

Valenzuela now thought it well to ingratiate himself with the young King and tried to provide pleasure parties for him at Aranjuez and the Escorial; lack of money, taste and gaiety combined to render these entertainments insipid, nor did Carlos evince any interest in these ponderous diversions directed by a low, conceited, and impudent adventurer ignorant alike of the arts of government and the graces of culture.

Valenzuela was now a grandee of Spain under the name of Villa Sierra and, to the disgust of the nobility, filled up the appointments of the Royal household, thereby affronting both those who were obliged to accept his favours and those whom he ignored.

So intolerable had the upstart become to men whose chief characteristic was pride of birth that even the majestic indolence of Spanish grandees was roused to action; the great gentlemen began to cabal with Don Juan, then at Saragossa, for the downfall of the impertinent favourite of the insolent foreign Queen.

Carlos was, nevertheless, enjoying more freedom since his majority and was particularly pleased by relief from the dominion of the women; he had, from the persecutions of the nursery, conceived a detestation for the whole female sex; on no account could his one-time governess gain admittance to his presence and when he had to pass a woman he turned his head away in disgust and terror.

He was therefore considered as a woman hater and the soft influence of female graces and charms was lacking from his austere Court, while the question of his marriage, one so vital for Europe, appeared one of supreme difficulty.

Little affected by the ramifications of the intrigues between the Queen and Don Juan, Carlos pursued his dull and secluded life, knowing as little of the humiliations of Spanish arms abroad as of the rain of lampoons deriding Mariana and her lover that gave the people of Madrid the consolation of invective in their misery.

The Queen observed that her affection for Valenzuela was too besotted to be safe and that the entire nobility of Spain were ranged against her, but she could not bring herself to part with the only person who brought any pleasure into her life and she relied on her dominion over the weak mind of her son; Carlos was hardly allowed from her sight, and plied with caresses, flatteries and indulgences not unmingled with sterner measures; in short, Mariana used all her efforts to keep her son in complete subjection.

She tried to get rid of Don Juan by ordering him off to quell the revolt in Messina, but the Prince refused to sail; she was met with another refusal when she commanded the military orders to serve on the frontiers; the knights replied that they were bound to fight only against the Infidel, and on being requested to send substitutes, selected these from the scum of Spain, ruffians who deserted as soon as they joined the army; the prestige of the Regent and the country was thus alike even further damaged.

Mariana began to feel that she could scarcely make headway against the tide now running so strongly against her; she had neither the ability nor the arts to hold her own and was so careless or so ill served that the partisans of Don Juan were able to get the ear of the King.

They insinuated to him that he had attained his majority, according to the will of his father, and that it was shameful he should still be under the dominion, not only of his mother, but of her low-born paramour, whose pretentious insolence was outraging all Spain.

Some manly pride was roused in Carlos; he resolved to free himself from this disgraceful bondage, but had not the force to do so openly; his action was, however, probably more effective than any bold assertion of his rights would have been.

Accompanied by the Duke of Medina Coeli and two servants, Carlos crept away one night on foot from the dark Alcázar and made his way to Buenretiro.

Once safely there he sent a harsh order to the Queen to exile herself to Toledo, issued a command for the banishment of Valenzuela and wrote to Don Juan inviting him to the capital.

Measures so firm and prompt roused the highest hopes in Spain; the oppressed people saw a vigorous King rising to redress their miseries, and the grandees who hurried to Buenretiro flattered themselves that an able and glorious monarch was about to appear in the person of Carlos II.

Only those in the intimacy of the King knew that his decisive action had been entirely the result of the influence of Don Juan's partisans—Carlos had done as he was bidden without any initiative of his own; left to himself he would have continued indefinitely in the constraint imposed on him by the Regent.

Mariana received the news of her downfall with flaccid indifference; bidding her detested favourite conceal himself in the labyrinth of the Escorial, she duly repaired to Aranjuez and then to the Alcázar of Toledo, where some of the huge apartments of this mighty palace on the colossal rock overlooking the Tagus had been hastily hung with mourning for the Royal widow.

There, in her religious habit, with her bored women, her beads, her dwarfs, her appointments of grey cloth hangings, the Princess who had done her worst for Spain wearied, not without patience and good humour, through the tedious days.

For Valenzuela, Carlos, or rather the now dominant party headed by Don Juan, devised a sharper fate. A party of three hundred horse was sent to search the complicated chambers of the Escorial, no easy task; Valenzuela prevailed on the Prior of the monastery to conceal him in a secret niche in one of the cells; this was successfully accomplished, but the fugitive fell desperately ill from cramp, fright and foul air.

The Prior injudiciously introduced a doctor to attend him, and this worthy instantly informed the impatient soldiers where their quarry was concealed. Valenzuela was haled out and sent in chains to Consuegra, one of the estates of Don Juan, where he was by no means gently asked where he had concealed the plunder accumulated during his ascendancy over the Regent.

The nature of his hiding-place had saved his life; the whole of Spain heartily wished, of course, to see him on the scaffold, but the Pope had promptly excommunicated all those concerned in his arrest in the sanctity of the Escorial, and fear of further provoking Papal wrath held in check the revenge of Don Juan.

Valenzuela was, however, degraded from his temporary rank as grandee and banished to Manila to work in the mines, while his wife and children were shut up in a convent at Talavera de la Reina.

A great deal of his concealed treasures was found, hoards of gold and jewels being discovered in his own house and in his apartments in the Escorial.

Don Juan now proceeded to make his power complete by exiling every one concerned with the rule of Mariana and by surrounding the young King with his own creatures; the Prince was now supreme in influence and much was hoped from his abilities and courage (1677).

He was brave, affable, intelligent, courteous and lively, and was believed to have the interests of his country at heart.

The most acute and powerful mind then engaged in European politics shared the optimism of the Spanish as to their prospects under their new ruler; William of Orange remarked to Temple that "on Don Juan's coming to the head of affairs in Spain there would be a new world there."

But either Don Juan's talents had been overrated or the affairs of Spain were in an even worse state than had been supposed, for his administration was no more successful than that of Mariana had been; defeated in Catalonia and the Netherlands, intrigued against by the Queen's party, deserted by his own partisans jealous of his success, Don Juan became embittered and desperate; he could not obtain the coveted title of Infant nor compel the loyalty of the arrogant grandees who had only used him as a means to get rid of an even more despised pretender.

Spanish haughtiness found ample cause for jibes in Don Juan's dubious birth, his inordinate ambition, his ill success in the wars, and his total failure to induce any order in the chaos of internal affairs.

He was as deluged with insolent pamphlets as Mariana had been and showed less patience under this infliction than had the placid Austrian; he became harsh, suspicious, unjust and tyrannical and contrived to quarrel even with those grandees whom he might have made into his supporters.

Absorbed in Court cabals and in maintaining his own precarious power, Don Juan made no attempt whatever to rouse his country to encourage trade, to enforce the law, nor to make any of the reforms so desperately required, and he had only been a few months in power when all hopes of any solid achievement on his part had vanished.

It was literally a case of the captain and crew quarrelling while the ship was sinking.

Meanwhile Carlos was leading the same secluded indolent life of childish games and formal hunting parties.

Don Juan, like Mariana of Austria, has been accused of encouraging Carlos in ignorance and sloth, of purposely enfeebling his mind and person; it is a charge often brought against the guardians of kings whose power must end with the maturity of their charges.

In the case of Carlos, however, it is doubtful if his capacity was susceptible of any development; he was uneducated and appeared unable to absorb anything but superstition and etiquette, and it may well have seemed hopeless to Don Juan to endeavour to instruct him in the affairs and interests of his realms.

That he had no great wish to do so is no doubt likely, it is also likely that it would have been impossible to keep Carlos in complete ignorance of his business and to absorb him with playthings had he possessed even average intelligence.

Carlos had outgrown some of the childish ailments that had made his life a misery, but still suffered from fits of indigestion, fevers and internal pains; he had no tastes beyond the chase, and no passions beyond devotion to the Church and family pride; his favourite game was spillikins, he was languidly amused by the antics of misshapen dwarfs and by crude practical jokes; he liked to keep people waiting in the rain, to see them trip over carpets or pinch their fingers in doors; he showed no regret for his mother and no affection for Don Juan; he still regarded all women with the deepest aversion, and all priests with the deepest reverence not unmingled with terror; the horrors of hell that awaited the unorthodox, and the peculiar religious responsibilities of the Most Catholic King had been depicted to him from his earliest infancy in such lively colours that his whole life was tinged with shivering awe of an implacable God and cringing abasement to an overbearing priesthood.

For the rest, he had as yet shown no character, and when Don Juan had taken him to open the Cortes at Saragossa, and on a progress through the province of Aragon, he had conducted himself with the formal gravity of a puppet.

It was true that he possessed some negative virtues, he was neither cruel nor vicious, neither mean nor untruthful, and at times his demeanour exhibited a mournful grandeur.

A disgraceful peace (Nimuegen, 1678) put an end to a disgraceful war as far as Spain was concerned, and another barrier, almost as feeble as that of Aix-la-Chapelle, was put in the way of the ambitions of Louis XIV.

The marriage of Carlos II now began to be a vital question for Europe; it had been suggested by William of Orange that the inevitable relinquishment of the Flemish provinces might be gilded for Spain by a marriage with a French Princess, in which case France might accept as a wedding gift the territory she had wrested from Spain and thus settle the frontiers of Flanders, and William had suggested his cousin and Louis' niece, Marie Louise d'Orléans, as a suitable bride for Carlos II.

This suggestion was again brought forward, but received little support in Spain, where the French were detested, and the Austrian faction powerful. Mariana had concluded a marriage contract for her son with her niece, daughter of the Emperor Leopold, but Don Juan had set this aside in his dread or an increase in the power of the Queen's faction.

The Emperor's daughter married the Elector of Bavaria and thus gave that House the claim to the Hapsburg dignities which was to prove so troublesome to a later generation.

It was to the interest of Don Juan to keep the King unmarried, for any young Queen was sure to introduce a new influence in Court, but the general voice of the nation was for the speedy nuptials of Carlos, and the general choice of France and Spain was for Marie Louise d'Orléans, a pledge of peace for the former, a tool of ambition for the latter.

Marie Louise, commonly called Mademoiselle, was the daughter of the only brother of Louis XIV and Henrietta, daughter of Charles I of England, and had grown up in the voluptuous and delightful Court of Versailles, endowed with all the Stewart grace and all the Bourbon elegance; she was now seventeen years old, reputed one of the loveliest and most amiable Princesses in Europe.

Don Juan was obliged to yield to the universal wish to see this lady Queen of Spain, but he hoped to find in Carlos an insurmountable repugnance to marriage, so well known was his nervous and invincible horror of women.

The Spanish grandees who had been to Paris since the peace spoke, however, rapturously of the beauties of the young Princess and contrived to pass into the King's hands "a black satin box lined with green velvet" which enclosed a rather unskilful miniature of Marie Louise.

The effect of this was contrary to all expectations; the languid and apathetic King was roused to the greatest excitement by the picture; asserting himself for the first time, he declared that he would marry this Princess and no other; he kept the portrait concealed in his breast, and gazing at it frequently, would break into long rambling discourses of love and admiration. Every one was astonished at this amatory disposition on the part of Carlos, and Don Juan could no longer delay the wedding, and in July, 1679, the marriage contract was brought to Spain.

Carlos received this document with more enthusiasm than any one had believed him capable of; he caused the Te Deum to be sung in the churches in Madrid and the houses to be illuminated with white wax flambeaux, while the streets were gaudy with bonfires and the heavens bright with fireworks which lit up fantastic processions of knights, timbrels, trumpets and flutes.

Carlos, suddenly absorbed in this romantic passion, became half crazed with excitement, and his desperate impatience to see his bride threw him into continual fevers; he employed his entire time in filling up the posts in the new Queen's household and in preparing her apartments in the Alcázar of Madrid.

Don Juan viewed all this pomp and joy with despair; he had worked entirely for his own personal aggrandizement and he saw his power waning with the marriage and final emancipation of Carlos.

And, though he had shown himself, in the struggle for his own position, indifferent to the public interest, he had too much intelligence and too much national pride not to be affected by the ghastly state of the kingdoms over which he ruled.

Carlos had not yet realized the tragedy of his heritage; knowing nothing of finance, of organization, of political economy, he could not know of debts, mortgages, bribes, corruption, confusion; not knowing what his dominions consisted of he could not regret those he had lost, and, seeing everywhere gold, jewels, precious stones, superb pictures and sumptuous tapestries, he could not understand the desperate expedients of the government to raise ready money, the appalling lack of cash for even the most necessary expenses.

As Spain still contained much of the solid wealth brought from the Indies in her golden age, as the churches and palaces were crowded with precious metals and jewels, with the most costly works of art and the most lavish ornaments, it may seem strange that the country was reduced to bankruptcy; but every one was too proud to sell and too poor to buy; the Spaniards were in the position of the man who starved in the desert with an ingot of gold in each hand. The grandees supped off massive silver in halls hung with rare tapestry and gilded leather, but food was so scarce that the dish containing the olla podrida was covered and locked lest the hungry pages should fish out the titbits.

A bold statesman might reasonably have decided on the plan successfully pursued by Gustavus Vasa, that of setting the country on its feet by the seizing of the Church wealth, or of filling the Treasury by severe sumptuary laws, but either expedients were rendered impossible by the tenacious attachment of the people to the Church and the indolent pride of the grandees, who preferred splendour to comfort and pomp to ease.

With all this insane clinging to the outward show of greatness there was little taste; to the castigo or severe style of art affected by Philip II had succeeded an extravagant baroque, lifeless and fantastic, the dress, furniture and manners of the Spaniards remained stiff, cumbrous and almost grotesque in the eyes of the rest of Europe, they despised the elegant and graceful fashions set by France and so eagerly copied by other nations, and lack of humour, charm and liveliness made them carry their grandiose ideas to the fantastic; the French never tired of making a butt of their neighbours, and the ill feeling between the two nations was augmented by the shafts of Gallic wit that penetrated too easily the cumbrous Spanish pride.

Without the lightness necessary to retort to this sharp mockery, so keen and so malicious, the Spaniards were silent but deeply affronted and exceedingly jealous of the rising power of France, whom they pretended to despise as upstarts and frivolous.

On the other hand, and with better reason, the French considered the Spaniards barbarous, ignorant and stupid, and were genuinely amazed by the arrogance that refused to admit a glaring decadence and a startling poverty.

The grandees of Spain still bore themselves as if their galleons were yet triumphing on the seas, as if the Alcázar was thronged by captains bearing news of victories and the State coffers bursting with the tributes of the East, while splendid armies upheld the honour of the Peninsula all over the world.

Such a position between the two nations augured ill for the marriage which was supposed to cement them; but Carlos, living in his dark world of ignorance and superstition, cared nothing for this; he was entirely absorbed in his preparations for his bride, this lovely playmate to whose coming he looked forward with pathetic passion.

The elegant and accomplished Marquis de Villars who notes the follies of the Spanish with so keen and ironic an eye, and, as Ambassador from Versailles, had had so many opportunities for observing them, passed a severe judgment on the young King—laid à faire peur et de mauvaise grâce.

In truth the King had grown up with a far more agreeable appearance than might have been expected, and his health was better established than any one had dared to hope it would be; despite his crazy constitution, his unnatural life and his constant ailments, Carlos had become tall and straight, graceful if not robust; his countenance was remarkable and showed unmistakably his too illustrious descent; he had the long Hapsburg face, the underhung Hapsburg jaw and large full mouth, almost to a deformity, but his complexion was delicate and pure, his eyes large, well set, soft and blue, his hair of the famous Austrian gold, abundant, wavy and rich; his expression was one of sweetness and goodness, but obscured by a dull vacuity; his lack of fire, energy and firmness sometimes amounted to a look of imbecility, yet at all times he had an air of melancholy grandeur; he was not to be mistaken for a common man, and, if he was obviously the decadent offspring of a decayed race tinged with lunacy, he was also obviously the descendant of Emperors and Kings, mighty and extraordinary men.

His dress seemed very ridiculous to the French; Madame d'Aulnoy's account of him (which she may have got first hand) at the festival of the Saint Sacrament describes him as wearing gleaming black taffeta, embroidered in blue and white, cut after the fashion of the padded doublets of a century before, with the long, hanging open outer sleeves that seemed so absurd to the Parisians; these were of white taffeta with blue silk and jet trimming; he wore a mantle and a great collar of gold and jewels with what the Frenchwomen called un petit mouton de diamant, in other words, the magnificent insignia of the magnificent Order of the Golden Fleece.

Carlos wore round his hat a cord of brilliants and, holding back one side, a clasp from which depended la peregrina, admitted to be the largest, most lustrous and perfect-shaped pearl in the world and said to be the fellow to that melted by Cleopatra in vinegar as a love potion.

He also wore, last horror in the eyes of the French, the golilla, the collar invented by his father; this was a stiff square of linen projecting under the chin so that the head appeared on a white starched platter, and was so firmly fastened that it was impossible to turn the neck; this hideous travesty of the ruff was detested by the French who had devised such elegancies in the way of falling collars, lace cravats and becoming neckcloths, but Philip IV had been so pleased with the golilla that he had held a grave Mass of thanksgiving for the idea, and it continued to be the privilege of a Spanish grandee to wear this ugly and uncomfortable collar.

Another detail of male fashion equally roused the scorn of the French, that was the habit of tucking the hair behind the ears, Spanish ears, they remarked, being peculiarly large and ugly.

The long melancholy countenance of Carlos II was certainly ill set off by the golilla and the pushing back of his abundant golden hair; it was this and the stiff old-fashioned dress and gloomy manner, silent and dull, that made the Marquis de Villars consider him laid à faire peur.

No charming cavalier of Versailles could, however, have conceived a more romantic passion for an unseen bride than Carlos for Marie Louise; his ardour and excitement astonished those who had believed him destitute of all passion, and he doted on the portrait of the French Princess, which, however, as the Queen remarked when it was sent to her at Toledo, squinted a little and was slightly awry.

It was delightful enough for Carlos, however, who detested the dark, grim and formal women by whom he had been surrounded all his life; so strong, however, was tradition in him that he selected the most ferocious harridan in Spain as Camera Major, or chief lady, to the new Queen, on the grounds that the more tender and lovely the beauty the more hideous and terrible the guardian should be.

A sombre jealousy already consumed Carlos; he had had the example of his mother to prove to him that the virtue of an unprotected Queen is not always impeccable, and he resolved to safeguard the dazzling charms of Marie Louise by concealing them from any male eye but his own and protecting them by a phalanx of the most disagreeable, ugly and spiteful women in the Court.

The chief of these, the Duchess of Terranuova, was a veritable witch who must have served Madame d'Aulnoy as model for one of the wicked old fairies she depicted so vividly in those fairy tales that are really romans à clef.

This lady was of the purest descent, being Duchess of Terranuova in her own right and widow of the Duke of Monteleone; among her ancestors were the Kings of Aragon and the illustrious Fernando Cortez from whom she had inherited a considerable fortune and a province in Mexico; rank and wealth were her sole pleasant attributes; she was harsh, formal, cold and arbitrary to the last degree, her temper grim and imperious, and her appearance in her seventieth year forbidding and even terrifying; she was very thin with a long emaciated face, small malevolent eyes and pinched lips. She seldom spoke; when she did do so it was to utter some bitter or stinging remark.

This lady had been lately under a cloud as she had hired some bravoes to murder her cousin, Don Carlos d'Aragon, who had rashly claimed her duchy; in consequence she had had to retire to Saragossa, where she had contrived to make friends with Don Juan, who was impressed by those qualities of hers which never failed to impress a Spaniard, rigid decorum of behaviour, a vast knowledge of etiquette, and a grim adherence to all ancient ways and customs.

Carlos also greatly admired the virtuous appearance and austere manners of the Duchess, and was delighted to think that such a paragon of female rectitude would be in charge of the person and morals of the Queen; and the gloomy dowager, triumphing over the reports which declared her a murderess, now appeared as the most important person in the Court awaiting the young Queen.

The recommendation of the redoubtable Duchess to this formidable post, and the formation of the Queen's household, was the last public act of Don Juan of Austria; he expired suddenly of chagrin and ague (17th September, 1679), leaving the reputation of a brilliant failure, and taking with him the last lustre of genius in the Austrian dynasty of Spain; he also left a small fortune, proof of his integrity, a bequest to Queen Mariana, proof of his magnanimity, and few regrets, proof of the little effect he had had, brave, learned, able as he was, on the ruined fortunes of his country.

Carlos had visited him in his illness and spoken to him with kindness, but early fled the sick chamber on fear of contagion, and Don Juan was no sooner clothed in the handsome suit he had prepared for the coming of Marie Louise and enclosed in his coffin than Carlos was at Toledo, paying compliments to the mother he had banished so shortly before.

Forgotten by all, Don Juan was carried with little pomp to the vaults of the Escorial, while Mariana returned in triumph to Madrid, where she took up her residence in the house of the Duke of Uzeda, the Alcázar, vast as it was, not being considered large enough to contain the Courts of two Queens.

Don Juan had died at peace with Mariana, and in her new apartments ticked a costly clock he had bequeathed her, but, for all that, she and Nithard, now a Cardinal in Rome, were suspected of hastening their enemy's end by poison; certain it is that no sooner had the Queen Dowager returned to power than she began to agitate for the recall of the disreputable Valenzuela, who was enjoying a pleasant exile in Manila where his arts and talents had captured the attention of a bored and idle governor. The vacillating King carried his weakness so far as to send a ship to the Philippines to bring back his mother's lover; but Eguya, the chief Minister, contrived to convey to the governor that Valenzuela was not to trouble Spain again, and Mariana never saw her favourite; he was finally (1689) sent to Mexico, where he ingratiated himself with the Viceroy and lived agreeably enough on a pension provided by that dignitary till killed by a kick from a horse he was training.

On the 3rd November (1679) new Queen of Spain arrived at the Isle of Pheasants, where Louis XIV had received his Spanish bride, and waited for the Spanish to receive her; in the magnificent pavilion where the Treaty of the Pyrenees had been decided the Duc d'Harcourt was there to deliver her into the hands of the Marquis of Astorga, the major-domo of the Queen's household. This gentleman had amassed during a viceroyalty of Naples huge wealth with which he had bought the favour of Don Juan; he was nearly seventy, formal, pompous and proud.

This grandee, the Bishop of Pampeluna, the Duchess of Terranuova, and their suites, now took charge of the young Queen, who was drawn in a barge along the river to the Spanish shore.

Marie Louise, finding herself in the hands of formidable strangers, showed herself agitated and depressed; she had already had a long and tedious journey, she was homesick and frightened, seventeen years old, delicate, sensitive, lively and naturally gay.

She had been brought up in the most delightful Court in the world, with every liberty and indulgence, surrounded by love, caresses, wit and gaiety; she had hoped to marry her playmate, the Dauphin, and perhaps had loved him, but like many another Princess she had been sacrificed to the ambitions of dynasties and the interests of nations.

She was extremely sweet and lovely, with the Stewart auburn in her heavy curls and a trace of the Austrian in her full lower lip, and she was dressed with all the light French elegance, bare shoulders, flowing gowns, loose locks woven with pearls, delicate tints of silk and satin.

She could speak no Spanish and knew nothing whatever of the customs of Spain; she was candid, innocent and full of life and warm affections; she delighted in dancing, in riding, in masques and balls; she was used to gallant men and witty women, to the company of the most splendid King in the world and that of an adoring father.

Such was the delicious creature handed over with regret and remorse by the French to the detested Spanish.

Marie Louise found herself at once at the mercy of the terrible Duchess of Terranuova and her dreary band of ladies, who immediately proceeded to treat their new mistress with the greatest harshness and to endeavour to poison her mind against the Queen Mother and the French Minister, the Marquis de Villars.

At Irun, where she landed on Spanish soil, the Queen was offered a Spanish supper from which she turned in disgust; and, seeing herself surrounded by formidable, hostile faces, with gloom and strange customs, with outlandish clothes and repellent manners, she fell ill with agitation and perplexity.

She was forced to proceed, however, to Burgos, where the impatient Carlos awaited her; the tiresome, slow journey on foul roads, through bad weather, was only enlivened by the vindictive quarrels of the Marquis of Astorga and the Duke of Ossuna for precedence, and the harsh croakings of the old Duchess on matters of etiquette.

When she paused, as at Vittoria, some tawdry bull fights and wretched dramatic shows were given for her entertainment; presents from Carlos and Mariana met her on the way, diamonds, rubies, ear-rings; at Briviesca the Marquis de Villars saw her and gave her much good advice, but the unhappy girl was frightened, nervous and mistrustful.

The Spaniards were now concerned about the marriage ceremony which they could by no means afford to do splendidly at Burgos, so, to conceal their poverty and to spite the French, they resolved to have this performed privately at an insignificant and small village outside Burgos.

The Queen was to arrive there at night to hide the misery of her reception, and the French Ambassadors were to be excluded from the marriage service, both as an insult and to hide the flagrant meanness of the whole affair.

The Marquis de Villars was, however, too acute to be deceived; he discovered the stratagem and insisted on being present at the marriage of the French Princess.

The one single-minded person amid all these acrimonious disputes was the King himself; Carlos cared for nothing but the arrival of the Queen; he had lain three weeks ill at Burgos in a fever largely brought on by excitement, but on the 19th November he hurried to the miserable hamlet where his bride awaited him in all imaginable fear and dismay.

The Duchess of Terranuova had done her worst with the soft beauty of Marie Louise; the Queen was forced into a huge farthingale or garde enfant with ugly stiff furbelows and heavy ornaments, her hair arranged in formal ringlets on a frame, her face, shoulders and elbows rouged; monstrous and glittering jewels hung all over her so that she appeared like one of the baroque statues worshipped in the obscure recesses of pompous churches.

The Queen, thus attired, received the King in her antechamber, and could hardly conceal her amazement at his appearance.

Carlos was dressed à la Schomberg, a travesty of French fashion; a short-bodied doublet of grey cloth, full velvet breeches, stockings of raw silk, a large grey hat, and the famous golilla composed the costume of Carlos; he was pale from ill-health, and his very long bright hair was tucked behind his ears. Stammering with excitement he embraced the Queen in the Spanish mode, by pressing her arms with his hands, exclaiming: "Mi reina. Mi reina."

His adoration for his bride had not gone to the length of inducing him to learn a few sentences of her native language, and Marie Louise knew no Spanish, so in awkward confusion they tried to converse till the graceful Villars offered himself as interpreter and gave much fire and finish to the feeble, clumsy compliments uttered by the King.

The marriage ceremony was marred by further acrid disputes as to precedence, in which the French sustained their claim to the place of honour; a white ribbon tied into love-knots was cast round the King and Queen, over their heads was thrown a white veil with a silver fringe, and the fantastic marriage was accomplished.

In the afternoon they went to Burgos, alone in a carriage, the King very agitated and attentive, but the Queen unable to understand a word he said.

At Burgos she was taken to the old palace of the ancient Kings of Castile and surrounded with at once the most flamboyant pomp and the most squalid poverty.

Overwhelmed, confused and desperate the young bride turned to the King for support and protection; she had an intense desire to love and be loved by her husband, her high notion of honour and duty and the extreme sweetness of her disposition, as well as the injunctions given her at Versailles, combined to urge her to make every effort to win the esteem and affection of Carlos. She tried to overlook his grotesque appearance, his odd manners, and to win him by every possible grace and tenderness.

Nor did she fail; Carlos was intoxicated by the charms of this lovely girl, so kind, gracious and lively, so different from anything he had ever seen of womanhood; she made even the most fascinating Spanish beauties appear coarse, swarthy and harsh, and to Carlos, lonely, melancholy and repressed, she appeared like a celestial creature; his joy and agitation at the possession of such a companion and her noble attempt to please and help him might have softened the heart of even a Spanish Camera Major.

It did not soften that of the Duchess of Terranuova; she took advantage of the long journey from Burgos to Madrid to instil into the unstable mind of Carlos every possible suspicion of the Queen.

Her Majesty was, declared the dismal dueña, very young, of a lively cast, educated in the licence of the French Court, had been surrounded by frivolous companions, knew nothing of the dignity of a Queen of Spain, and needed the most severe and determined treatment; she was also, added the experienced woman darkly, very beautiful, and such charming creatures only remained virtuous so long as they had no opportunity of being otherwise.

Carlos listened with credulous horror; all the jealousy of the Spaniard was roused in the heart that had only awakened to emotion at the sight of Marie Louise, and the result of the devotion that this unhappy lady inspired in her husband was that she found herself a prisoner, debarred even from the visits of Villars and his wife, watched day and night by people who loathed her country and regarded her with gloomy suspicion.

At Burgos she had had to part with the last of her French ladies and attendants, only being permitted to retain a few female servants and a groom to take charge of the six English horses that she had brought with her; it was true that many of these ladies were of light morals, played cards all night, smoked, and, as the Duchesse d'Orléans, Marie Louise's stepmother, wrote of one of them, "followed, uncontrolled, their inclinations"; but they were kind, polished and amusing, and the young Queen parted from them with tears, presents and the deepest regret.

Marie Louise had good cause for apprehension; the Duchess of Terranuova, in the hope of obtaining complete power, resolved to shut her up until she had made her public entry into Madrid, and Marie Louise found herself at Buenretiro (the Alcázar not being ready) treated as a prisoner, shut away from all eyes but the jaundiced ones of her ladies, hearing no language she could understand, and continually watched by the morose Duchess, who never spoke but to rebuke her vivacity.

The Queen discovered that she was isolated amid enemies; every one in Spain belonged to the Austrian faction save Villars, and he was forbidden to see her; and, what was most terrible to Marie Louise she found that the husband on whom she had relied was entirely in the hands of these people and that he, too, loathed the French; despite his adoration for her, he was powerless to help her; a panic fell on the French girl, deprived of exercise, of fresh air, unable to eat the coarse Spanish food; she fell ill, and wished, no doubt, to die.

Mariana, despite her natural hostility towards her daughter-in-law, did here display some womanly feeling; though generally forbidden to see the Queen, she procured her the concession of a visit from Madame de Villars, and finally the privilege of attending a hunt at the Prado.

Meanwhile every effort was being made for the Queen's solemn entry into her capital; Spain, ruined as she was, without commerce or trade or agriculture, a navy or an army or money, could yet hang the streets with Persian tapestries, silken flags and golden embroideries, erect triumphal arches and bring out quantities of jewels, handsome liveries and brocade robes.

The sight of the Queen riding through this pomp on her Andalusian steed roused a touching and hopeful affection in the hearts of the depressed and wretched people who gazed at the spectacle; the mild and lovely girl in her riding habit, with her bright hair flowing loose beneath her cavalier hat, her soft and lively black eyes full of kindness and sweetness, her movements graceful and her air majestic, seemed to inspire the brightest expectations; peace and prosperity and a race of Kings seemed promised by this radiant figure. The white and carnation plumes of the Queen's hat were clasped by the Peregrina, and on her right hand sparkled the largest diamond in the world.

Pearls and diamonds, rubies and emeralds, all the treasures of the Indies and the Americas gleamed lavishly on the brocade habits of the grandees who followed the Queen, on the bosoms and in the hair of her maids of honour; the procession lacked nothing in glittering magnificence and was only marred by the hideous figure cut by the Duchess of Terranuova, who sat hunched on a mule with an enormous and grotesque hat balanced on her ugly head.

Carlos and his mother peeped at this radiant spectacle from behind the lattices of the house of the Countess of Ofiate, and the pride that the King felt in his bride was tempered by a sombre jealousy that any eye but his should gaze on the charms of the Queen.

After a few days of extravagant and tasteless festivals, bull fights and hunts, Marie Louise took her residence in the Alcázar of Madrid and found that she had exchanged one prison for another.

She not only never went abroad, but was not allowed to appear at a window, and under the tyranny of the Camera Major her life was one of the most irksome monotony and dull gloom; she was not allowed to speak French and could not speak Spanish.

Madame d'Aulnoy gives, in her spurious "Memoirs," a pretty picture of the Queen that may have some truth; in a small gilded apartment with a ceiling of mirrors, seated on a gold and blue cushion, according to this writer, Marie Louise sat like a princess in a fairy tale; her beauty bloomed with great radiance, her abundant hair was twisted with pearls, and one ringlet was fastened to her waist with a diamond; her habit was of pink velvet and massed with embroidery, her ear-rings touched her shoulders. She asked, with pathetic eagerness, for news of France, and ventured in a whisper (for the Camera Major was present the whole time) to express her attachment to that country which, her uncle had sternly reminded her, it would be the greatest misfortune if she was to see again; the substance of this imaginary portrait is certainly true.

Politics in this excitement of the Royal marriage had gone to the wall; there was no definite government in Spain, only a welter of ignorant and licentious, arrogant and corrupt grandees intriguing for the power left vacant by the death of Don Juan. The most conspicuous of these were the Constable of Castile and the Duke of Medina Coeli, but a common adventurer, Don Jerome Eguya, contrived to balance one against the other, and, though only holding the position of secretary to Carlos, to grasp such authority as was left to any one in Spain.

As insinuating, as unscrupulous but more adroit than Valenzuela, whose creature he had been and whose return he had prevented, Eguya contrived to keep the favour of the Queen Mother, the grandees and of Carlos, and was even supported by the King's Confessor and the Duchess of Terranuova.

The result of all these tedious intrigues and wearisome combinations was a complete cessation in the machinery of government; Eguya, of even less capacity than Valenzuela, was only interested in his position as far as it enabled him to dip into the public funds and assume regal airs; lethargy and confusion ruled everywhere; all business was suspended, and if any was brought to the notice of Carlos, his only comment was Veremos, which became a mechanical excuse.

The King was, indeed, entirely absorbed in his young wife; he knew nothing of the affairs of Europe in which he was so intimately concerned, of Louis XIV waiting in sumptuous confidence for the fruition of his ambitions, of William of Orange waiting in cautious resolve to check them, nothing of the misery and complaints of his own wretched people throughout his scattered dominions.

He spent his days in his dark apartments with his deformed dwarfs, his beads and his prayers, and occupied his languishing hours in gazing at his Queen and in brooding over the unlikelihood of any one so fair returning his sad passion.

For this marriage was, in its essential, tragic; there was a deep reason for the gloomy fretting, the jealous anguish of Carlos, the listless melancholy of Marie Louise.

It had long been suspected that Carlos would be the last of his race, and on this assumption much of the politics of Europe had turned; it was a correct assumption and the boasted bridals were ironic enough; Marie Louise soon discovered that she had been sacrificed indeed, that she could not enliven her wretchedness by any hope of motherhood, and that the love she had roused in her husband must be ever thwarted and rendered fruitless by his infirmities; the situation was one of torment for both, and the two young creatures lived a frightful existence in the midst of the grim and stately ceremonial that encompassed their rigid days.

Embittered and disillusioned, the King sank deeper into sombre gloom, but Marie Louise, after her first panic terror, bore her atrocious destiny with touching heroism.

She extended an angelic compassion towards her most unfortunate husband, strove to please him in every way, learnt Spanish and Spanish customs, soothed him with every tenderness in his frequent fits of illness, and subdued her bright intelligence to share his childish games; for hours together the gay and lovely creature would play spillikins with this dreary companion; after her first outbreak of despair she did not complain of her fate; the extreme beauty of her character rose above circumstances that appeared to admit of no consolation.

Carlos secretly delighted in her gay and lively manners, and she almost induced him to cast off the fetters of Spanish etiquette, but tradition and custom were too powerful for Carlos and he dare allow her no greater amusement than that of accompanying him to the chase.

The Royal Confessor had now fallen and Medina Coeli was in power (1680), but this made little difference either to the nation or the King, whose domestic life remained unchanged.

The Queen was permitted to attend a bull fight; two men were killed in this brutal display and she became violently ill in consequence, but worse distress was in preparation for the gentle soul of Marie Louise. There had not been an auto-de-fe since forty years ago, and this was considered a fine occasion to celebrate one of these triumphal displays of the power of the Holy Inquisition.

This ghastly ceremony was conducted with the utmost pomp on the 30th of May in the Plaza Mayor in the presence of the King, Queen and the entire Court.

The French in Madrid were shocked at this loathsome spectacle, and their ladies contrived, under the excuse of illness, not to be present, though absence was dangerous.

It is not needful to relate the hideous details of this unspeakably horrible display of bigotry and cruelty, which could only shock the mind and nauseate the soul.

This orgy of wickedness was not even sincere, for while here some Jews perished in torment, their wealthier brethren had been able to buy places at Court and even appointments in the government.

The Queen was not present at the actual executions, but saw enough to throw her into the utmost distress and terror; but Carlos, though naturally kind, was so warped by superstition as to commend the spectacle, and remain all day, in a fascinated stupor, watching the atrocious details of the fell ceremony.

Marie Louise now hoped to escape to Aranjuez, of which she had heard a pleasing account, but there was no money for the journey; the Queen had indeed already experienced the deepest mortification from the non-payment of her allowance; she had nothing for her charities or to pay for the maintenance of her English horses, and had perceived with amazement that, while gold, silver and jewels were as common as dross, actual money was impossible to procure, and that the laborious excuses made by the Ministers for remaining in Madrid were merely to conceal the fact that there was no cash available for the expenses of travelling.

Added to this vexation the Queen had to endure the increased moodiness of the King, who, worked upon by the Duchess of Terranuova, gave vent to bursts of jealousy against her country, kicking the French spaniels downstairs and furiously threatening with death a French beggar to whom the Queen had ventured to give alms from her carriage window.

Marie Louise still possessed some buoyancy of spirit; her native servants, unable to endure the treatment they received, had all returned to France, and she found herself isolated amid bitter enemies; she resolved to rid herself of the chief of these, and, using all her charms to entice Carlos into a good humour, passionately besought him, as he valued her life, to rid her of the odious Camera Major.

Carlos was alarmed, amazed, but unable to resist, and finally, such was the Queen's influence over her husband, he actually dared remove the terrible Duchess.

The Queen could not part from even a foe without some show of kindness and said good-bye with tears in her eyes, upon which the Duchess sternly remarked "that a Queen of Spain should not be moved by the dismissal of her Camera Major."

The old dame's temper could not keep on this pitch, and on leaving the palace she dashed to pieces, in a tearing fury, a lovely Chinese fan which she found on a table in her way; or so, at least, the gossips said.

She was consoled for her dismissal by the appointment of her son-in-law to two vice-royalties, Galicia and Aragon, and after her departure even the gloomy Alcázar seemed a more agreeable place.

Her successor was the Duchess of Albuquerque, who had the tact to treat the Queen with much less severity; Marie Louise was now permitted sometimes to ride or walk out and allowed to sit up until past ten o'clock, while the King, who all his life had gone to bed at eight o'clock, now stayed up later; a pleasanter atmosphere prevailed in the Court, and the Queen having triumphed so far now insisted on the journey to Aranjuez, so that Medina Coeli was forced to sell a government in India and two offices in the state accountant's office to provide the expenses.

But this escape from the frigid constraints of the capital was a disappointment; the rain was incessant, the Tagus swollen, the walks flooded; one of the Queen's ladies was killed by a fall from her horse and in consequence the King could scarcely endure that his wife should ride again.

Shortly after the return to Madrid Carlos took his wife to the Escorial, the most imposing, gloomy and remarkable palace in the world.

The spirits of the Queen, raised a little by the concessions of the new Camera Major, sank again when she beheld this monastery, mausoleum and palace, monstrous against the sterile mountains, gloomy wastes and dark forests of the Guadarrama.

These long, barren galleries, these dun halls and dark cloisters, these vast chambers, austere, grim and forbidding, these tombs where all the Austrians of Spanish dynasty lay buried, the funeral church and bleak enclosing walls, all smitten by the howling winds that swept down from the gaunt mountains, were well calculated to chill the spirits of the happiest of mortals and came like a presage of ruin and death to those who knew their fate to be uncertain and sad.

This ghastly edifice was supposed to be haunted by the spirit of the lunatic founder; the monks immured there declared that they had often seen the spirit of Philip II shrieking and wailing in the corridors.

The ghost of Philip did not need to return to these bitter shades, his personality was already well impressed on the building that pride, fear and bigotry had raised in this mournful and barren place.

When the Duke of Braganza was told the story of the building of the Escorial and the Battle of St. Quentin, he remarked: "So great a vow shows a great fear." And fear, black, overwhelming, monstrous was the nightmare atmosphere of the Escorial.

During this visit, amid the heavy rains and tearing winds of a bleak autumn, Carlos suddenly showed signs of a deeper melancholy, an occasional aberration of mind; he lost interest in the chase, even in the Queen, and would wander away for hours into the lonely woods of ilex or on to the wild tracks of the Guadarrama.

The hectic excitement of the auto-de-fe, the sights and odours of blood, human blood, had stupefied his mind already so feeble; he remembered the unspeakable end of the heretic and gibbered at the thought of the hell prepared for such; he brooded over his own ill health, the misfortunes that he began to guess haunted his kingdom, and on the possible spell or witchcraft that kept him so unhappy; a husband in name only, a King without power.

He saw the brightness even of Marie Louise withering under the blight of the Escorial and fell into a deeper and more hopeless gloom. But, on the return to Madrid, there was another flash of gaiety; Carlos rode abroad in a green coach with six piebald horses with golden harness and rose-coloured ribbons, caressing spaniels with bells on their collars and on their ears, or attended galas with the Constable of Castile where crystal vases on agate tables held grapes made of amethysts and emeralds, or watched Louisillo, his dwarf, dance with a little Indian girl, both covered with feathers so that they seemed two lovely birds.

Finest pleasure of all he watched the Queen perform the saraband which she had learnt especially for his delight; she had not danced since she had come to Spain, and Carlos was so enchanted by her grace and her elegance that he exclaimed: "My Queen, my Queen, you are the most perfect creature in the world!"

About this time the Queens, whom intrigue had kept apart, met and effected a reconciliation, mingling some tears while they forgot that they were French or Austrian and only remembered that they were both lonely, exiled and confined women; they resolved to use their influence against Medina Coeli, the incompetent minister who had instilled into each of them suspicion of the other.

The appalling state of affairs had even penetrated to the seclusion of the King; when the Dutch Ambassador demanded money due since 1675 Carlos heard of it and said to Medina Coeli that he could not believe there could be so much debt and so little cash; the minister of the Elector of Brandenburg had just departed in a fury at his inability to obtain sums due to his master.

"If this is going on," declared Carlos, "I will shut myself up in the Alcázar and see no one."

Medina Coeli shrugged; there was no excuse, as there was no disguise for the extreme poverty in which Spain was sunk, and he merely remarked that things would soon be different and that the Dutch were rich enough to wait. So acute had the lack of ready money now become that couriers with despatches on affairs of State had not the means to leave the capital, and the attendants of the Queen Mother's household were without rations; to the starving, ragged and desperate crowd, from viceroys to pages, from governors to grooms who clamoured for pay, clothes and food, the ironic official answer was: "The Royal coffers are open, help yourselves."

These same coffers were bare even of any of the coinage debased almost out of existence, and the irony of the offer was a further insult to the misery of the applicants.

With infinite difficulty the Viceroy of Naples had amassed 200,000 crowns, but the crew seized the felucca which was bringing the gold to Spain and brought it to Africa where it was divided among them.

An attempt to mortgage the Royal revenues in Italy failed: Spain owed too much already and the security was too poor.

Revolt followed penury; the King was roused by shouts that penetrated even the stout walls of the Alcázar, and came on to the balcony to behold with astonishment a large and angry crowd, ragged, filthy, desperate.

He promised them all they wished, and retired pale and alarmed to his inner apartments; plague followed starvation, there was an earthquake in Malaga, the banditti ravaged Naples, the Moors expelled the Spaniards from Africa, the buccaneers and the Portuguese seized the West Indies and South America—never had a mighty Empire crashed with such humiliating suddenness.

Some rumours of these disasters reached the King, and he exhibited the greatest distress, but allowed himself to be soothed and quieted; fearful of hearing more ill news when he went abroad he remained hidden in the Alcázar, watching his dwarfs or playing cards or spillikins with the patient Queen; the dullness of resignation had settled on the spirits of Marie Louise; she, too, could do nothing but close her ears and shut her eyes.

The aggressions of Louis XIV were again troubling Europe, and, to assist the Emperor, Carlos was forced to the last degradation. A huge treasure expected from the Indies had been lost at sea, and in despair the government descended to sell the jealously guarded title of grandee—it was the first time that cash had been able to buy this coveted honour.

The money thus basely gained helped Spain to take an abject part in the war which terminated by the Treaty of Ratisbon (1685); at this time Medina Coeli was replaced by the Count of Oropesa, but again with little difference either to the country or the King, both of which were indeed beyond help.

Melancholy had become a habit with Carlos, the even monotony of his days was only broken by fits of frantic piety or terrible glooms in which his very reason seemed obscured; in all things and always he clung to the Queen; in his worst misery he would hold her hand, like a child clinging to the mother in the dark.

The only beauty in the lives of either of these two people, born to such a glittering destiny, was their love for each other; all the noble sweetness of the Queen's nature had been roused by her compassion for Carlos, and by sharing his solitude, his misery, his burden and his doom, she had come to regard him with a deep loyalty and a tender affection.

Shut away from the rest of the world, surrounded by the hostile, the indifferent, the rapacious and the dishonest, they had turned to each other for consolation and support; Carlos regarded the Queen as an angel sent to support him in torment, and her influence over him was unlimited; it was also useless, for the despot of Spain and the New World had no power whatever over any one or anything.

The only pleasant news that the wretched government of Spain received at this period of her extreme mortification and misery was that of the League of Augsburg (1686), which the Emperor nominally and William of Orange in reality had formed against the overweening pretensions of Louis XIV.

Carlos was, however, too much in awe of Louis, and too swayed by his French wife, to enter this League; meanwhile Louis overran the Palatinate, carrying fire and sword into the very heart of Germany under a pretence of the rights of the Duchesse d'Orléans; still Spain hung back, and even, on the occasion of the English revolution of 1688, wavered towards an alliance with Louis, for that monarch urged his niece to bring Carlos over from the Austrian faction and she employed all her arts to do so.

In this attempt she was alone; every one else in Spain wished to join the League of Augsburg, now rendered infinitely more powerful by the accession of William of Orange to the English throne, nor can it be doubted that this was the wiser policy for Carlos, and one that all tradition, loyalty to his House and allies urged him to follow.

But naturally the Queen was staunch to the French interests, and her caresses and pleas would probably have drawn Carlos into her uncle's alliance had she not been removed with a dreadful and suspicious suddenness.

In September, 1689, Marie Louise was taken with a violent illness, from which, after short but ghastly sufferings, she died, aged twenty-six years.

Her death chimed in too well with the wishes of the Austrian faction for them not to be accused of it; she was supposed to have been, like her mother, Henriette d'Angleterre, before her, poisoned; terrible rumours were current; her nails had fallen off, she had been poisoned in oysters, by Oropesa, by the Austrian Minister, by the Comtesse de Soissons, then in Spain and a known poisoner.

These rumours must remain rumours; history is seldom definite on the questions of murders and illicit love affairs; human ingenuity in these cases succeeds in baffling the curiosity of future ages; there are seldom records of the worst deeds of mankind.

A host of romantic suggestions have grown up round the sudden death of the beautiful French Queen of Spain, but the official version was that she died of cholera; and this may have been true.

The state of the country, of the palaces, the daily life of Spain, make such a supposition likely enough; fatal infection must have been lurking everywhere.

Marie Louise had died with fortitude and piety, she left a pure reputation and deep regret among her unhappy people, who had learnt to appreciate her devotion to the King and the unfailing kindness, gentleness and honesty of her character.

She had, indeed, played a tragic part with sweetness and courage; her uncomplaining patience with her dismal fate seems almost incredible and she well deserved the popular love that grew up round her lovely memory.

Carlos, at this sudden and cruel loss, fell into deep despair, but the Austrian party, now wholly triumphant, sealed the accession to the League of Augsburg by his marriage to Marie Anne of Neuburg, daughter of the Elector Palatine and sister to the Empress and the Queen of Portugal.

This marriage, throwing the weight of Spain definitely against France, left Louis XIV faced by a Confederation of nearly all Europe.

Carlos was married at Valladolid (1689); he scarcely glanced at his bride, and his mournful silence cast a gloom over the whole ceremony; any possible pleasure that life might have held for Carlos had vanished with his first Queen; her death had given his mind a violent turn into the horrible, haunted darkness that had always been encroaching on it; he perhaps suspected, or perhaps knew, that she had been murdered; some of the ghastly rumours whispered in the Court must have come to his ears.

He took no notice of his German Queen, nor she of him, though in time she gained a certain influence over him; she was an ordinary pleasing young woman of twenty-two, ruled by her Confessor, and a favourite, Madame Berleps; she soon showed her contempt for the Spanish, and, aware that she would have no children herself, supported the claim of her nephew, the Archduke Charles of Austria, to the throne of Carlos II.

She speedily became unpopular; the nation, like the King, remained loyal to the charming memory of Marie Louise.

Carlos saw that life, such as it had been for him, was over; all Europe was beginning to quarrel over his heritage; it was openly known that he could never have any heirs and that he could not live long; no one troubled about him any longer, even to flatter him; the new Queen took what pleasure she could out of her sad splendour, and Carlos, at thirty years of age, sank deeper into his melancholy, retired more completely to the hidden recesses of his dark palaces, and gave himself up to thoughts of death and damnation. His health, so briefly re-established, gave way again and for ever; he relinquished the chase and almost all outdoor exercise; when he went abroad it was with the leathern curtains of the coach closed; the people began to forget the appearance of their King, a name, a symbol, daily more shadowy.

Carlos took no interest in the long war with France in which his miserable troops and his imbecile generals were engaged in hampering their Allies of the Grand Alliance, as the League of Augsburg had become.

In 1691, after the French successes in Aragon and Catalonia, the Duke of Ossuna made the grotesque suggestion that Carlos should animate his dispirited men by putting himself at their head in the field; the King at once refused and offered no suggestion as to a remedy for the series of disasters that were falling on Spain.

The courage of the Spanish troops at the Battle of Fleurus (1693) proved that the ancient vigour of this noble race was not yet extinguished beneath a load of misfortunes, but there was little else to brighten the War of the Grand Alliance from the Spanish point of view.

Carlos took little interest in either the war or the interior misfortunes of his kingdoms; he had some affection for Oropesa but sacrificed him to the dislike of the Queen and appointed another incompetent, Melgar, in his place.

It mattered as little to Spain as to Carlos, however, who guided State affairs: when the ship is sinking the ablest pilot is of no avail.

Carlos, indeed, appeared to have done with this world and to be entirely absorbed by the horror with which he viewed the next.

In 1696 he was attacked by an illness even more severe than his usual fits of sickness; while he was shivering with ague and fever, the withered bodies of St. Isidore and St. Iago were kept in his room as a charm against death, and when the wretched monarch was able to stagger from his bed he had, barefoot, to follow these hideous relics back to their convent.

His recovery was only partial; he remained feeble, melancholic and oppressed by the idea that he was bewitched; every humiliating penance the monks suggested he eagerly performed, and passed his days swooning in pain and fear, or huddled in the black brooding silence of incipient lunacy.

At the period of the Peace of Ryswick (1697), when the question of the Spanish succession became of paramount importance, Carlos was obviously dying daily, but, even so, it seemed likely that his decayed body would outlive his decayed mind.

He became obsessed by the thought of death, all the gruesome, material horrors of death; he remained conscious that with him would die, not only a man, but a dynasty, and he thought of his approaching end as one of more than ordinary horror—as the eclipse, in gloom, darkness and torment of the House that had been his one pride and glory.

Such intelligence as was left to Carlos was agitated by the feverish intrigues with which he was surrounded; Louis XIV, the Emperor and the Elector of Bavaria now openly claimed his possessions and each had his active and able emissaries in Madrid who did not fail to importune Carlos, on every possible occasion, to make his will; Carlos had lost his mother (1697) and with her the last possible human sympathy or kindness; from waning factions and a Kingdom in a state of anarchy he withdrew to complete solitude in the murky chambers of his palaces. He appointed, finally, the son of the Elector of Bavaria as his heir, but the child died immediately afterwards, the indignant father alternately accusing Louis XIV and the Emperor of his murder.

The French faction, encouraged by this event, now resolved to take advantage of the mental condition of Carlos, and of the facts that the King frequently fell into fits or swoons when for hours he was unconscious, and that he was, every three or four days, shaken by violent convulsions, to frighten him into making a will in their favour.

A cabal of priests, aided by the Inquisitor General, persuaded the King that all this was the result of a spell put upon him by the Queen and her Austrian partisans.

Terrified and fascinated by this suggestion Carlos submitted, with anguish and horror, to a ghastly ceremony of exorcism, performed by a German Capuchin, a priest famed for such skill, with so great a force as completely to overturn the King's senses.

Groaning and gibbering he was led away from the grim ceremony, and his state was so desperate that the French gained nothing from their machinations.

Carlos was persuaded, however, to consult other monks who were credited with strong powers over demons; the result of the incantations of one of these was the discovery that the King had been bewitched by his mother in 1675 with a mess of human brains given in chocolate.

While these grisly mummeries were taking place in the Alcázar the starving people were rioting without; a shrieking mob even assailed the barren court of honour in front of the palace, demanding bread, death to the evil governors, the head of Oropesa, and a sight of the King (1699).

The Count of Benevente appeared on the balcony and said that the King was asleep.

The deep irony of this excuse roused the fury of the reckless and desperate people.

"The King has slept too long, it is time he woke!" they yelled.

Carlos was roused; he seemed not to understand the situation, but allowed two of his attendants to lead him on to one of the small gilded balconies of the bleak façade.

The sight of their King appalled even the frantic people; lunacy, disease and death seemed staring down at them with vacant eyes, the very shadow of the haughty glories of the House of Hapsburg appeared before them like a phantom.

Carlos, at thirty-seven, seemed an old man; his tall, gaunt frame was horribly emaciated, his still abundant hair was ashy grey, his face remained as smooth as that of a boy, but was pallid, lined and shadowed with pain; the racial characteristics were vividly exaggerated, the jaw and lower lip, the arched nose appeared monstrous, the large pale eyes expressed a dreadful emptiness.

This terrible figure, sagging between the arms of servants, endeavoured to mutter some words but could not articulate.

The people stared in silence at a King who too well symbolized their state, and turned away to spend their wrath on Oropesa, who with difficulty escaped from his mansion as they approached, being reduced to fly through a hole in the wall.

The result of this tumult was the banishment of Oropesa and Melgar and the consignment of power to Cardinal Portocarrero—in other words, the fall of the Austrian and rise of the French faction, both represented by Ministers equally selfish, corrupt and incompetent.

Carlos began to dread the sight of a human face; he longed more and more for complete solitude, and in the spring of 1700 withdrew to the funereal glooms of the Escorial which fascinated him with the dark and loneliness, the grim austerity of the massive vaults, the twilight chambers, the sombre corridors.

In this appalling atmosphere the King was assailed by the most wild and grotesque fancies; he seemed pursued by the spectres of all his crowned, lunatic and imbecile ancestors who importuned him to join their grisly company.

His loathing of life was heightened by a dread of death; when he had the strength he dragged himself to the imposing and dismal chapel above the vaults of the Royal House, and there joined in the dreary chants of the monks; he dare not hope for heaven (a place which his clouded spirit was unable to conceive) and he dare not face the horrors of hell; his tormented soul hovered in a dim borderland of unspeakable anguish, and the long swoons into which he continually fell were varied by fits in which he shrieked and wailed as if answering the cries of the dreaded phantom of Philip II which was unable to leave this fell building that reeked of human suffering and human remorse.

Carlos still believed himself under an enchantment, and in his more lucid moments still wildly hoped for release from the spell that held him in such perpetual agony.

He had been told that the touch of the dead could drive foul spirits from the living, and he lingered on this supposition because it coincided with his own fearful curiosity as to the decay of mortality; he was consumed by a horrid longing to examine the tombs of his forebears, to open their coffins and pry into their corruption.

These morbid ideas crowding on his broken mind proved irresistible, and Carlos, though rigid with horror, actually descended into the awful Pantheon where the Castilian monarchs mouldered in gloomy pomp.

A lugubrious religious ceremony preceded the actual opening of the tombs; the light of torches illuminated the vaults, the niches where the bodies lay, the dark figures of the monks and the huge black Cross in the centre of the Royal Pantheon; the air was close, fetid and tainted with the odours of the charnel house; every dreadful detail of decay and corruption was brought vividly to the mind of the last of his race, who, sighing with terror, watched the remains of his ancestors uncovered.

He gazed first at the dead face of his mother, the last inhabitant of this vault; he had never loved her and he shivered as he recalled the suspicion that her spells were responsible for his present state.

With the same stupefaction of enthralled dread he stared at the painted face of his father who had bequeathed him such a burden of woe and which now showed beneath the finery of the shroud with a look scarcely more deathly than that of him who gazed.

Carlos then staggered to that dark corridor where reposed the bodies of the barren Queens and ordered that of his first wife to be exposed.

Beneath the hideous curiosity, and the appalling superstition that had prompted this visit to the dwelling of the dead, had been a wild desire to see again that lovely face that had been his one pleasure, that had adorned his wretched days with the illusion of love.

And lovely Marie Louise remained; as the gorgeous grave-clothes were turned back, the torchlight fell on a face that seemed to bloom with life; the rich chestnut hair was folded over the placid brow, the eyes seemed to gleam beneath the thick lashes and the delicate lips and cheeks were tinged with colour.

Every one commented on the remarkable preservation of this body ten years after death, but no one seemed to realize that here was sinister argument in favour of the theory that the Queen had died of arsenical poisoning.

The wasted figure, the haggard face of the King took on a mournful dignity as he contemplated the remains of the fair woman who had been such an uncomplaining sacrifice to the ambition of her own Royal House and the pride of his Royal House.

He also had been a victim of an overwhelming heritage and of circumstances over which he had no control.

In these awful moments as he stared at the sweet features in the coffin, Carlos, on the verge of death himself, seemed to realize the monstrous wrongs he had endured, the bitter injustice inflicted on him by his birth, the mock of gods and men his life had been.

With a raucous cry he turned and fled through the dark aisles of the Pantheon, muttering:

"I, too, shall soon be there."

Terrified by the effect of this awful experiment on the King, the Ministers hurried him to Aranjuez then fresh in all the fragrant elegance of spring.

Here some attempt was made to amuse Carlos with plays and bull rights, but vainly; the opening flowers, the spreading fountains, the glossy groves meant nothing to him; he saw only the grim corridors of the Pantheon of the Escorial, the stiff faces of the Royal corpses, and the loved countenance of Marie Louise blooming in the charnel house.

The King's thoughts and talk were all of death, and he varied deep fits of black melancholy with rambling and incoherent talk of fantastic terrors.

Meanwhile Cardinal Portocarrero was strengthening the Bourbon party in Spain and spared no efforts to influence Carlos against his own family and in favour of the French so long detested by the King.

This was not easy, for Carlos remained attached to the House of Austria and still owned some pride and patriotism; weak and listless as was his state, he could not be brought to consign the inheritance of the Hapsburgs to the Bourbons.

A certain flash of hauteur and nobility roused the spirit of the dying man when he heard of the Partition Treaty by which his dominions had been parcelled out between Louis XIV and William III; with something of the energy of his nobler ancestors Carlos expressed his indignant anger at the Court of St. James's with such vigour that the Spanish Ambassador was ordered from London.

Portocarrero seized this opportunity to press home to the King the need to leave his kingdoms in their entirety to one powerful Prince, and even to threaten him with eternal punishment if he neglected his obvious duty to the Bourbons.

"My future salvation is dearer to me than ties of blood," the alarmed Carlos declared, and in his terror and indecision resolved to consult the Pope; this meant that Louis XIV had won in the long struggle for the throne of Carlos II, for Innocent XI was wholly devoted to the French interests.

The Papal reply advised Carlos to appoint the Duc d'Anjou, son of the Dauphin and grandson of Maria Teresa as his successor.

This youth was, ironically enough, the son of that Bavarian Princess who had once been suggested as the bride of Carlos himself, but rejected on account of her feeble health and the unlikelihood of her having children.

The Austrian blood was still, however, strong in Carlos and he continued to hesitate; supported by the Queen, Oropesa and Melgar, the Imperialists, did not lose heart, and it seemed as if Carlos would sink to death without naming his heir.

Portocarrero, however, had a winning card up his sleeve: he could dispose of the terrors of the next world as well as of the arguments of this, and he stopped at no device to frighten the exhausted and tortured King into the Bourbon interest.

The bitterness and disorder of the Court rose to such a pitch that impassioned disputes took place in the very chamber of the monarch himself; this excitement hastened his maladies, it became necessary to administer to him the awesome rites for those about to die, and in the midst of this impressive ceremony Portocarrero did not hesitate solemnly to conjure the miserable Carlos to decide in favour of France if he did not wish to injure his chances of eternal salvation.

In the midst of the dread and appalling service for the dying, rendered terrible by all the adjuncts of a gross but imposing superstition, the Cardinal again reminded the fainting King that on the justice of his will depended his eternal fate. And that the wish of Heaven was for the advancement of the Bourbon, there could be, the unscrupulous prelate added, no doubt.

Thus importuned and terrified, Carlos seemed to see the flames of hell licking round his sombre death-bed and put a trembling and reluctant signature to the document that disinherited the Hapsburgs and gave his vast but crumbling possessions to the French House he had always detested.

He acted according to the best ability of his clouded judgment, and was honestly as wishful to preserve his country from war as his own soul from damnation; that he bequeathed his people a long and fruitless contest was not his fault; whatever his will, or if he had left no will, the result would have been the same; neither the Emperor nor the Elector, neither Louis nor William, was likely to relinquish the unwieldy prize without a struggle, nor was Spain in any state to enter into a period of peace and prosperity under any possible ruler or settlement.

After having signed what was considered the most important paper in Europe, Carlos burst into terrible tears:

"God is the disposer of kingdoms, for they are His," he exclaimed; then to this piece of mechanical piety he added a human cry: "I now am nothing!" His illness took a fatal turn; he handed the great seals of government to that instrument of Louis XIV, Cardinal Portocarrero, and composed himself for the death he had so long dreaded and dwelt on.

With a flicker of reason he refused to associate the Queen in the Regency, lest her intrigues for the Austrians should embroil the government, or possibly from spite at her wearisome insistence on the claims of her family.

In the deep gloom of a November day, in the dark inner chamber of the sombre Alcázar, Carlos was relieved at length from his torments, meeting the dissolution of body and soul, of which he had thought with so much terror, with a final calm grandeur.

It was the 1st of November 1700, and the King was in his thirty-ninth year; his reign, so miserable to himself and his country, had lasted for thirty-six years, one of the longest and the most unfortunate in the annals of Spain. His best epitaph might have been the word he used so often, Veremos.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

JOHN DUNLOP, Memoirs of Spain from 1621 to 1700,2 vols., Edinburgh, 1834. MADAME D'AULNOY, Voyage d'Espagne, Paris, 1868. LORD MAHON, History of the War of the Spanish Succession, var. ed., London. MARQUIS DE VILLARS, Mémoires de la Cour d'Espagne, 1678-82, Londres, 1861. Lettres de Madame de Villars, Amsterdam, 1760. Lettres de Madame de Sévigné, Paris, 1806. Memoirs of Lady Fanshawe, London, 1858. Mémoires du Due de St. Simon, Paris, 1829-30. COXE, History of the House of Austria, London; Memoirs of the House of Bourbon. MAURA GAMAZO, Carlos II y su Corte, 1661-69, 1 vol.; 1669-79, 2 vol., Madrid, 1911-15.

This last modern and erudite work contains complete references to State papers, contemporary pamphlets, etc.; to these may be added two historical novels dealing with the poignant history of Marie Louise d'Orléans, Queen of Spain, both of unusual power and accuracy:

SOPHIE GAY, Marie Louise, Paris, 1878.
LOUIS BERTRAND, Cardenio, Paris.

The last edition of Madame d'Aulnoy's Relation du Voyage d'Espagne, edited by R. Foulche Delbosc, Paris, 1927, proves what has long been suspected, that this vivacious writer of fairy tales was never in Spain; this book, whose picturesque details have been so often quoted, is, in fact, a literary hoax.

Much of what she says may be true, as no doubt she took her material from first-hand sources (her mother, Madame de Gudames, was actually in Spain), but the book cannot, of course, be accepted as of much historical value.


MAURICE DE SAXE
1696-1750

MARÉSHAL GÉNÉRAL DE FRANCE
GOVERNOR OF ALSACE,
DUKE ELECT OF COURLAND AND SEMIGALLIA,
KNIGHT OF THE ORDERS OF POLAND AND SAXONY.



Illustration

Maurice de Saxe. Maréshal Général de France (1696- 1750)



"But who is he, whose Brows exalted bear
A Rage impatient, and a fiercer Air?"

—William Collins, Oxford, 1743.

*

"La vie n'est qu'un songe, le mien a été beau, mais il est court."
—Maurice de Saxe.



TOWARDS the end of the campaign of 1708, when those two affable and renowned Princes, Eugène of Savoy and John, Duke of Marlborough, were besieging Lille for the second time that year (at the head of the Allies then disputing with France the Spanish Succession), they were joined by a small contingent of Saxon troops among whom was a boy who, sometimes marching as a foot soldier, with blistered feet, sometimes travelling in a Berline, had come eagerly from Dresden; he at once asked for Count Missein, and was brought before that gentleman by the celebrated General Schulemberg, who was in command of the Saxon forces then in the trenches before the citadel that Maréchal de Boufflers defended.

This meeting was lively on both sides, for Count Missein was but the incognito of Augustus, King of Poland and Elector of Saxony, and the boy, then about twelve years of age, was his son, whom he had left with his mother, Aurora von Königsmarck, in the splendid solitude of the Abbey of Quedlinburg.

The brave and gay Augustus, magnificent in all his actions, was not displeased to find the little Maurice had broken all restraints and resisted all entreaties, to march into the theatre of war; the King ordered General Schulemberg to make the ardent youth his Aide-Major Général, a position not so absurd as it sounds, for Maurice had already experienced several campaigns, and since he had been able to sit a horse had followed his father through the vicissitudes of that Polish war which had just concluded, or rather, come to a pause; and from his infancy he had discovered a strength of mind and body and a precious passion for action and command that showed he was in everything above the common. He had displayed enough fortitude to scorn and refuse all manner of learning, and his discomfited tutors had been obliged to resign their pedantic tasks; he deigned to acquire the French language, for which tongue he appeared to have a great affinity; but, for the rest, he was ignorant of everything but manly exercises and the rudiments of the science of war.

The little Aide-Major Général, seated at table with Marlborough and Eugène, mounting the trenches before Lille, and noting all the details of military life with avid enthusiasm, came of no ordinary parentage.

His father, Augustus Frederic II, Elector of Saxony, King of Poland, descended from one of the most resplendent families of Germany, was himself renowned for personal strength, noble manners, an appearance at once martial and charming, a good-natured disposition and those qualities of tact and grace, taste and generosity that had made Dresden one of the most luxurious Courts of a luxurious Europe.

When this Prince, in every way handsome and amiable, was about twenty-six years of age, and had been polished by visits to all the polite capitals of the world and had acquired the reputation of an address so fascinating to women that he would have "triumphed over Virtue herself" had he chanced to meet that lady, his attention was attracted to a fair Swede, Aurora von Königsmarck, of a family distinguished by adventures and misfortunes of a nature more romantic than creditable.

Like the Three Graces, Madame Loewenhaupt, Madame Steinboc and their sister, the unmarried Aurora, descended on the gay and voluptuous Court of Dresden, and cast themselves at the feet of the gallant young Elector, imploring his protection in a matter they had in hand. This concerned the disappeaiance of their brother, the bold and amorous Philip, who had engaged in a dark and reckless intrigue with the Electress of Hanover and vanished from the knowledge of men, to mysterious imprisonment or secret death.

He had left behind, however, solid property in the hands of certain Hamburg merchants, and it was to beg for the enforced return of these moneys that the three distressed beauties presented themselves before Augustus, who maintained his reputation of the invincible lover by vanquishing the heart and person of the lovely Aurora, fairest of the fair supplicants.

This conquest was not, however, attained by any vulgar means; there were gorgeous hunting parties in the forest of Moritzburg, dainty masques of Amazons and shepherds under the trees, glidings over lakes in agreeable gondolas, curious pantomimes of Turks and monsters; and at the conclusion of these entertainments, apartments of peculiar richness in the Castle of Moritzburg, where a bed of yellow damask, adorned by silver Cupids casting roses, awaited Mademoiselle von Königsmarck; here the Elector on his knees presented her with a nosegay of jewels and declared himself her languishing slave.

In short, the affair was conducted with the greatest elegance, and very much in the manner of the French fairy tales by Charles Perrault and Madame d'Aulnoy then so fashionable, and the surrender of Aurora was conducted with a dignity and a meekness that amounted to decorum.

In memory of the lustre of the fete, the forest and summer-house of Moritzburg, Aurora's son, born the following October, was named Moritz or Maurice; possibly there was a more solid reason for this choice, and the Elector remembered his great ancestor, Maurice of Saxony, grandfather of another valiant Maurice, Prince of Orange, for Augustus, despite his frivolous pastimes and his romantic love affairs, was staunchly Protestant and possessed to the full that stout courage common to the warlike nation of the Saxons.

Maurice had been surrounded with splendour from his birth; Aurora received more than the usual tenderness lavished on royal favourites, and contrived, by tact and charm, to win the sufferance even of the young Electress, Christina Everhardina of Brandenburg-Bayreuth, who had proved herself not altogether divorced from the affections of her charming husband by giving him an heir within a few weeks of the triumphant birth of Maurice.

At this period of elegant felicity the Elector went to Belgrade to take command of the army of the Emperor in Hungary, and when he returned brought with him a lady who had captivated his volatile fancy by the grace of her dancing at a sumptuous ball given by Joseph, the King of the Romans.

Aurora was thus eclipsed, but bore her misfortune with dignity and affected sorrow only for the Electress, whose friend she had become; nor did Augustus cease to treat her with the greatest consideration; he had already presented her with the magnificent Protestant Abbey of Quedlinburg, an almost regal fief, with magnificent revenues and haughty privileges, and he now augmented these lavish gifts with other pensions which provided the means to educate Maurice as the Prince he might have been.

Aurora, however, was not able to endure the ascendancy of the new favourite, and retired with her son to Quedlinburg, where he was placed under the care of French tutors, M. de Lorme and M. d'Alençon.

Maurice took no pleasure or profit from the studies provided by these gentlemen, and wilfully insisted on indulging his love for kettledrums, pistols, swords, horses and marshalling his youthful companions into troops of soldiers.

He was a true child of the North, of German, Swedish and, through his paternal grandmother who adored him, Danish blood, fiery, warlike, impetuous and bold, not tall, but thickset and of remarkable strength, with blunt features and thick brown hair and sparkling blue eyes and an expression of gay liveliness, fitting issue of a gallant Prince and a lovely adventuress and of the romantic festivals and extravagant pleasures of the artificial glades and baroque ball-rooms of elegant Moritzburg.

And here, at twelve years old, is he in the trenches with the most famous glittering soldiers of the day, panting for his share in the perils and glories of war, the pastime and opportunity of princes.

It was natural that the attention of a high-spirited and ambitious youth should be directed to the profession of arms and to nothing else; there had been war in Europe in the life of every man living and in that of his father before him; for generations professional soldiers of every rank and every nation had found fame, power and wealth in quarrels in which they were little concerned and in fighting for causes in which they had no interest.

The balance of power in Europe, and the ancient struggle between France and Spain which had become the struggle of France with the rest of Europe, was still, when Maurice tramped to Lille, being fought out in the long leisurely campaigns that the people had begun to take for granted, that the aristocracy undertook as if they were hunting parties, and the plebeians a usual occupation not lacking in gain or excitement.

The tedium of this slow warfare was relieved by considerable licence in conduct, continuous diversion of every kind, the lusty pleasure of personal encounters with the enemy, and definite victories with accompanying honours and rewards.

All the armies were served with all the luxuries available in the capitals of Europe, and at the first touch of cold they went into winter quarters, postponing the war till the following spring; it occurred to no one that these wars were futile or wasteful, they were accepted as part of existence, and absorbed a vast number of men, many of whom would have detested any other fashion of living, men who were bred to, and existed for, war, men who loved the camp, the march, the siege, and were only uneasy at the prospect of peace and only at a loss when away from the theatre of action.

It was customary for all youths of noble birth to become soldiers, and it was considered almost the only profession worthy of the finest blood. It was, then, as a matter of course that the young Maurice, so eagerly commanding in Flanders, decided to become a professional soldier, and this without any thought of why or when, or for whom he would exercise his prowess.

And the same might have been said of most of the generals of that age; those who were fighting to keep their crowns on their heads or their provinces together were the only captains fighting with sincere attachment to a cause; the others fought for the sake of fighting and the possible rewards of possible success.

Maurice had neither crown nor land to contend for; apart from the bounty of his father he possessed nothing, and the illegitimate son of a King knew that only to himself could he look for the advancement his ambitious character so passionately craved.

He was therefore by birth, breeding and temperament peculiarly suited to the ambient in which he found himself, and soon distinguished himself, to the amused admiration of other adventurous Princes of a like disposition, Marlborough, Eugène and his father, in the showy career he had chosen so early and so definitely.

And he distinguished himself not only in the exercise of arms, but proved equally apt in those jovial and tender distractions that have always eased the warrior's labours, showing that he had inherited the romantic and voluptuous nature of Augustus together with that monarch's robust constitution and affable address.

It was noted (a pretty story runs) that the young Saxon, dining in the tent of Prince Eugène, was attracted by the budding beauty of a girl from Tournay, one Rosetta Dubosan, who had come to the camp to sell a headdress of elaborate lace, worked by her dead mother, and her sole dowry.

Neither Eugène nor Marlborough was remarkable for prodigality, and the lace went unpurchased, but the young Comte de Saxe (as his dubious title ran) followed the sweet pedlar from the tent and recompensed her for her disappointment by apt and accomplished tributes to her charms, for the son of Aurora von Königsmarck already possessed the arts of the successful lover.

The little maiden, who was his own age, was as innocently won as wooed, and the idyllic intrigue continued to the sound of Boufflers' desperate fire from the citadel of Lille and the fierce reply from the Allies' trenches, and, when the city surrendered on 10th December, Maurice, like a seasoned soldier, retired to Brussels to enjoy his leisure with his little mistress whom he now boldly snatched from the guardianship of her father; the inaction of the winter, however, galled the young lover, despite this pretty companion, and he was further depressed by a recall to Dresden where Madame Königsmarck lavished tender caresses on him, and his father laughingly commended him in vain; the desires of Maurice were with the army and Rosetta.

In the spring movement of the troops in Flanders Maurice was with Marlborough at Tournay, which fell on 28th July; what time he could spare from his duties in the palisades or on the redoubts was spent in hurrying post-haste to Brussels and visiting the lace-maker's daughter; at least so runs the legend, which is true to character, if not to fact.

Warfare then consisted mainly in taking and retaking cities and forts; very little else was regarded, and entire campaigns would turn on the siege of one citadel, the actual possession of which, perhaps, made but little difference to the issue of the war. No sooner had the Allies secured Tournay than they hurried to reinforce Mons, threatened by Villars; a large body of horse under the Prince of Hesse-Cassel was despatched with this object, and among these cavaliers was Maurice de Saxe, already at thirteen years of age an accomplished soldier who had seen horses killed under him, felt bullets whistle through his hair, and been praised by Marlborough. He now crossed the Heino with a drawn sword in his hand and a foot soldier sharing his saddle, the very picture of an eighteenth-century Mars, one of those heroes with flying curls and cravat, gold lace coat and embroidered sash that the baroque taste of the period, crowned by a plump Venus and attended by simpering nymphs, represented on a thousand florid canvases.

But the peculiar Venus of Maurice vanished; when he reached Brussels the adorable Rosetta had disappeared, spirited away either by virtue or inconstancy, and Maurice was scarcely consoled for her loss by the excitement of Malplaquet, where he assisted the amiable Englishman to gain some of the most glossy laurels that ever entwined his handsome peruke.

The Saxon boy, apart from bravado and flourishes of flamboyant vanity, was a born soldier and of magnificent personal courage; on this day of hideous carnage he received the adulation of the accomplished and brilliant Marlborough and the praise of the intrepid and cool Eugène, both experts in warlike qualities.

Maurice had also already acquired a professional insensibility that appears brutality in one of his age; at the end of the combat in which 20,000 men were slaughtered and as many wounded, a combat in a cause that was of no personal interest or matter to him, he was able to exclaim, with unspoilt pleasure in his own achievement and the victory of his side, that he was "well content with the day's work."

The following March found him at Riga for the sole purpose of making the acquaintance of the great Peter, Czar of All the Russias; this accomplished, he hurried back to the bloody fields where Marlborough and his motley forces were still engaged in the tedious task of battering down the stubborn pride of France.

While her son was thus occupied in attracting attention to his martial disposition, Aurora von Königsmarck, who had hitherto retained, if not the fidelity or passion of Augustus, at least his respect and confidence, fell into disgrace for some offence given to the First Minister, Count Flemming, whose importunities Augustus was too flexible and easy to withstand, and was banished to Missein.

Neither this town nor Quedlinburg, stately as it might be, spelt anything but insipidity and tedium for Maurice, and he spent his winters amid the elegant festivities of Dresden and his summers at the camps, first of Flanders, then of Pomerania, where Augustus as King of Poland had been obliged, by an old alliance, to march to the assistance of the Czar, then attacked by the Sultan of Turkey at the instance of the indomitable Charles XII of Sweden.

In this war Maurice displayed an uncommon resolution and energy, and his gratified father rewarded him by raising for him a troop of horse which the young man accepted with a fervour and drilled and exercised with a delight that showed him to be no mere knight errant, but a considerable general with marked talents for organization and discipline; he preferred the choosing of men and horses, the instructing of men and officers to all the winter delights of Dresden, and was impatient until he could rush his new troop to Bremen and test their metal in the obstinate fight of Gadebusch, where, however, despite the valiant young Colonel's efforts, the day was gained by the terrible Swede.

His next occupation was to recruit his beloved regiment which had suffered severely in this fierce engagement; this task, anxiously fulfilled, took him a year, during which he permitted himself no amusements but a few trifling amorous adventures, too transitory to be called love affairs and too light to be called distractions; the poor Rosetta had been replaced but not forgotten; thirty years later, when he reached Tournay again he was to inquire for this first love.

In 1714 when he was eighteen years old and in every way come to his full manhood, Maurice was married to a beautiful heiress, Victoria von Loeben, whose name, the aspiring warrior declared, was her chief attraction, since it held an omen of his future fortune.

The tedious war in Flanders was now over, and the long formal campaigns had given place to long formal conferences which had resulted in the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), an indecisive conclusion to an indecisive war that left France and Spain stripped but not broken, and Maurice had to look elsewhere for the indulgence of his martial ardour.

He was able to take his regiment to Pomerania where he encountered several personal adventures of no great moment but sufficient to show his resource and daring; he also received a bullet in his thigh that troubled him to the end of his days.

On his return to Dresden in the summer of 1716, Maurice found his enemies in the ascendant, and one of his good friends, his grandmother, the Dowager Electress, dead.

Dead, too, was his first-born son in early infancy, and, his humour clashing with that of his wife, the impetuous soldier was surrounded by both public and domestic troubles.

The most considerable of these, in the opinion of the enthusiastic Maurice, was the disbanding of his prized regiment, in the raising and maintaining of which he had taken so much care and displayed so much devotion.

So inflamed was Maurice by this act, due to the influence of the first Minister, Count Flemming, and the complacent weakness of the King Elector, that he did not hesitate to upbraid his father so hotly and keenly that the angry Augustus threatened him with a visit to the State prison of Königstein.

Unhappy at home, at Court, and deprived of the martial position he had held since his twelfth year, Maurice cast round for an escape and an occupation. Prince Eugène was now employed in leading the Imperialists against the Turks; when other wars ceased there was always that against the Infidel to attract the adventurer and the professional soldier; without waiting for an equipage Maurice hastened to Belgrade, which capital Eugène was then besieging with a host of brilliant volunteers.

The young Saxon, who had already acquired a European reputation as an ardent and successful soldier, was joyfully welcomed by the glittering array of august gentlemen who adorned the camp of the Imperialists; among them were thirty sovereign rulers and some of the French Princes of the Blood so lately fighting against the general now leading them.

Maurice enjoyed to the full the skirmishes with the Turks, the sallies and carousals with his fellow Princes, the exciting, vivid fife of the Christian camp, and the great battle of 17th August 1717, when Prince Eugène utterly overthrew the Ottoman power, thus consolidating the victory of Peterwardein; the next day Belgrade surrendered and the war was over.

Reluctant to leave the scene of so much splendour, pleasure and glory, Maurice de Saxe lingered to the last in the company of the sumptuous and triumphant Allies, but had finally to repair to Fravenstat where his father then held Court; the facile Augustus, delighted with the reports of his son's success, decorated him with the ancient and coveted Order of the White Eagle of Poland.

Being unable to discover any further distractions of a military nature Maurice was forced to remain in Saxony and to give some attention to his own affairs. He had taken an aversion to the fair Victoria, who from being too loving had become too jealous and harassed him alike with her caresses and her reproaches; neither the efforts of Augustus nor Aurora (not themselves models of propriety or conjugal fidelity) could bring the pair together, and Maurice, to avoid the importunities of the King, his mother and his wife, set out for France in the year 1720, where he was most graciously welcomed by that gracious Prince, Philippe, Duc d'Orléans, then Regent of France for the charming child, Louis XV.

It was a dull, prosaic period, the age of discovery was nearly over, the age of science had scarcely begun, poetry was occupied with wit, prose with reason, art had become ornament; everything was showy, overblown, exaggerated, insincere, the baroque style of expression dominated everywhere, graceful trails of decoration strove to disguise a decaying art; pomp, etiquette, ceremonial had reached a pitch of formality that had become absurdity, nothing was liked but what was unnatural, a spurious sentimentality began to show in the passions of the cultured, brutality was disguised by fine, vapouring speeches; people had begun to powder their hair, to wear pale pastel tones, to talk cynically, to live exquisitely.

A whole mythology of pseudo-classic gods and goddesses were invoked and depicted at every turn, and the satin robes of a Venus poudrée fluttered against the white feet of a shepherdess from a sham Arcadia with gilded crook and coquettish chapeau de paille. France, misgoverned, exhausted from long wasteful wars, on the verge of great revolutions that were to give humanity a new idea of the "rights of man," seemed idly drowsing in elegant decadence; neither as comfortable and secure as England, as undeveloped as Germany, as decayed as Austria and Spain, she adorned this epoch of dullness with all the pretty trifles the sophisticated mind of man has been able to conceive.

Into the topmost efflorescence of this effete civilization came Maurice de Saxe, already an adept in all the virtues and vices then considered necessary for a gentleman of quality, and was received with elegant attention at Versailles, where d'Orléans and Dubois contrived to splendidly squander what they had carelessly plundered from the half-bankrupt kingdom.

Maurice entered easily into this delicious life of levees, fetes, hunting parties, galas at the Opera, of petits soupers and balls, of gay, witty company where every one was perfumed and powdered, where the women's naked shoulders were laced with diamonds, their tiny waists circled with silk roses, and their faces painted to the likeness of a Cupidon; he, too, could wear velvet and bullion lace and carry a gold-hilted sword with a flourish, and pomade his brown locks into side curls, and make himself agreeable to great ladies and more than agreeable to ladies not so great.

His thickset figure and heavy Teutonic face made him conspicuous among fine gentlemen all grace and languor, but his amiable, lively disposition and a certain sweetness in his manner won him favour in a society where everything was tolerated but dullness.

Nor did the delightful sirens of Court and ballet who strove to render his leisure agreeable dislike the prodigious strength that was such a piquant contrast to their own exquisite frailty.

As a supreme mark of favour the Regent offered the young foreigner the rank of Maréchal de Camp in the French army, which Maurice, having overcome the opposition of his father, rapturously accepted and purchased the regiment then called Spar.

He had now (1722) succeeded in divorcing his wife, who in a second marriage found the harmony she had missed with him and thereafter remained his good friend, and settled himself in Paris, regretting that France was at peace, but preparing himself for war, both by the extreme pains he took with his regiment and his own strenuous studies in mathematics and engineering.

He had a strong natural genius for these studies and absorbed much knowledge with great facility; no delightful dissipations could distract him from absorption in dry sciences, and he was more interested in the training of his regiment than in any diversion that could be devised, and more concerned in the progress of his learning in the trade of war than in any pleasure that even Paris could offer; he showed in this that passionate concentration on the development of an inborn talent and aptitude that has never failed of superb results.

So Maurice passed his life in Paris with occasional visits to Dresden till 1725, when a fantastic adventure, entirely to his taste, beguiled him alike from his studies and his amusements.

The Duke of Courland and Semigallia, large independent provinces on the Russian frontiers, being childless, in a dying condition and the last of the great House of Ketlar, Poland sought to seize the chance of annexing his barrier territories.

The Courlanders, inspired by their resident at Warsaw, one Brakel, resolved to avert this danger by offering the crown to Maurice de Saxe; and this was actually done, at the occasion of the carnival at Warsaw in 1726, when Maurice was visiting the magnificent Polish Court. He was now thirty years of age and eager to have some establishment among the Princes of Europe; nor was Augustus averse to such a settlement on his admired son, but, on investigating the scheme, decided against it, as too dubious and perilous.

Maurice, however, was not influenced by any such sage considerations and escaped secretly to Mitau, the capital of Courland, where he was acclaimed with fervour.

Here he met with a stroke of good fortune which nearly brought him to an Imperial throne. Ferdinand of Courland was still dying in pious languor and decrepitude and his brother's widow was a person of considerable importance, being Anna Ivanowna, daughter of the elder brother of Peter the Great, who possessed no distant prospect of wearing the crowns of all the Russias.

Anna Ivanowna had heard of the fame of the brilliant young Saxon and was by no means averse to his pretensions to her brother-in-law's throne; nor was she, the passionate Slav, wedded for a year to a sickly weakling and long a widow, reluctant to be wooed by a man like the superb Maurice de Saxe.

She accorded him several secret interviews at Mitau, where the presence of an interpreter (for neither could speak a word of the other's language) did not prevent the exchange of ardent glances and languishing smiles. Maurice indeed shared his father's reputation of an invincible lover, and in this case there was no need why the lady should resist advances that must, in her instance, mean matrimony; her rank and her expectations, if not her charms, more than matched his handsome person and his sparkling fame, and she was able to dictate the terms of her surrender; she would marry him if he could secure the Dukedom of Courland. The sprightly Russian was only twenty-seven and had been since 1711 a widow; Maurice did not find it difficult to affect the lover, and she found it too easy to believe that she had fixed him in a constancy to which as yet he had proved foreign.

The intrigue for the throne of Courland advanced, mainly through the arts of the Dowager Duchess, for Maurice was not subtle enough for these affairs, with the result that on June 16th, 1726, Maurice was elected by the States of Courland as successor to the decayed Ferdinand, who as a Roman Catholic had long been unpopular in this Lutheran State, and whose demise was both anticipated and desired by Maurice and the Courlanders.

While the lively and amorous Russian was thus working on his behalf, Maurice turned to the more congenial task of raising men and money to support his ducal pretensions.

Maurice was not rich, though sufficiently provided for by his father to be able to maintain himself with dignity; when Augustus had legitimized him in 1711 he had presented him with the fief of Tautenberg, which, however, he was not then able to dispose of; that estate which was given in place of Tautenberg, Skaehlen, Maurice had sold to purchase the regiment of Spar; this had depleted the revenues of Maurice (never at any time did he receive more than 120,000 francs annually from the Court of Dresden) and in this crisis he turned to his friends for assistance.

A subscription was raised in Paris and transmitted to Mitau by one St. Leger, a banker; it is said that Adrienne Lecouvreur, then deeply enamoured of the famous young Saxon, contributed to this fund the sum of 40,000 livres, the result of the sale of her delicate jewels and opulent plate; probably the fair and emotional actress knew nothing of Anna Ivanowna, and also probably Maurice availed himself of her assistance with an easy conscience since he was already jaded with proofs of feminine devotion.

These funds were given to an agent to engage all the deserters, of whatever nation, still loitering in the Low Countries; 1800 of these doubtful mercenaries were enrolled, but half deserted again before reaching the port of Lübeck, where they were to embark, and all the efforts of love-sick ladies and amiable friends only provided Maurice with a ragged motley troop of 800 men.

Maurice was, however, duly elected later Duke of Courland, in preference to the Russian pretender, Prince Menzikoff, and the third claimant, the Duke of Holstein. The reply of Menzikoff to this election was a threat to march 20,000 men into Courland, the Empress of Russia being not at all disposed to let this opportunity slip of annexing the two duchies.

The Courlanders rallied round Maurice, but neither their numbers nor their training was such as to render them very effective and the money from Paris had ceased to arrive, the credit of Maurice and the generosity of his friends being alike exhausted.

The Russians made a bold attempt to capture the intrepid Saxon by besieging him in his own house in Mitau, but the Dowager Duchess hearing of the attempt sent her own guards to rescue him and carried him to her palace where he was given apartments and every attention; Anna Ivanowna entertained at her expense the man she so favoured and admired; Maurice was able at least to simulate a return of these warm feelings and induced the Duchess to repair to St. Petersburg with the two objects of persuading Menzikoff to drop his pretensions and of securing the effectual election of Maurice himself.

Even an influence as powerful as this, however, was useless to save the cause of the Saxon; the Polish Diet was convoked at Grodno on 6th September, and there the affair of Courland was severely condemned.

Marshal Count Flemming, always the enemy of Maurice, was still powerful with Augustus, whose councils and armies he had directed for twenty-seven years, and the dream of this ambitious, resolute soldier and statesman was a united Slav Germanic State (Saxony and Poland) between Germany and Russia, with the crown of the Jargellons hereditary in the family of the Electors of Saxony; Flemming regarded Maurice as a tiresome, insolent adventurer and he had inspired Augustus with some of his own lofty ideals as to the future of Poland; the King Elector had other reasons for keeping fair with the Diet; he had been extravagant in the magnificence with which he had maintained his position and he wanted money; there were new palaces to pay for, and new favourites to maintain.

In brief, Maurice was abandoned and commanded to return home and accept the annulment of his election; upon his bold refusal he was outlawed, and before the Diet broke up a reward was put on the head of the disobedient son and the rebellious subject.

Maurice, still dazzled by the prospect of a throne and encouraged by the help of Anna Ivanowna, maintained an attitude of haughty defiance more in accordance with his ardent, obstinate and reckless character than with any dictates of prudence and reason.

The combined efforts of Poland and Russia were, however, too much even for the inflexible Duke elect; he was obliged to retire to Libau to avoid arrest, and finally to the island of Usmaiz, where he employed himself in forcing the peasants to build fortifications and in summoning the Courlanders to his assistance.

The Empress had now died (17th May, 1727) and the Emperor, her successor, resolved to settle the affair of Courland in good earnest; Russian troops dislodged Maurice from Usmaiz, seized his baggage and his followers and forced him to retreat to Widau in a furious temper and with the treasured but useless diploma of his election as the sole relic of his possessions.

He had now been definitely driven out of Courland and there were small hopes of his returning, especially as he had contrived to offend his stoutest ally, Anna Ivanowna.

It is uncommon for a man fascinating enough to fix the affections of an imperious, difficult and powerful woman to be faithful enough to retain them, and Maurice had not possessed the art or the flexibility to disguise his lapses from constancy; Anna, disgusted by his continuous love intrigues in Mitau, redeemed the folly which had made her believe herself capable of retaining the sole attention of this universal lover by the fortitude with which she dismissed him from her mind and heart; she had the good sense to disdain the forced imitation of passion and to bestow her favours where their considerable value was better appreciated; she promised her hand to the Duke of Hesse-Homburg, a Prince less attractive than the brilliant Saxon, but not of a disposition so light and roving.

This was not the only time that Maurice injured his prospects by his volatile amorousness; it is a vast misfortune for an ambitious man if he cannot provoke the devotion and help of at least one intelligent, able and charming woman, and a succession of petty mistresses, dancers, actresses, chambermaids, great ladies and camp followers prevented Maurice from ever achieving the possession of a woman who could have been the least use to him. His quarrel with his wife had given him an adventuring air, even for that period, and his failure with Anna Ivanowna cost him not only Courland, but the throne of All the Russias.

There was now nothing for him but a return to Dresden, where he was reconciled to the easy King and employed himself in designing new liveries for his lackeys, and in having the arms of Courland placed on all his appointments: the purple and ermine of Gotlart Ketlar, the red Lion of Courland, the wild goat for Semigallia.

The whole adventure had had a tinge of the grotesque, almost of the ridiculous; there was a touch of the opéra bouffe about the extravagance of the episode; Maurice had appeared as a man who had no thought for anything but his personal advancement and not sufficient finesse to accomplish that, and only the flourish with which he carned off his ill-success prevented it from becoming absurd.

After a short period of reflection in the stately retreat of Quedlinburg, Maurice repaired with all his bravery of Courland liveries to Dantzic where Anna Ivanowna then was with her dying mother-in-law, with the object of exerting all his fascinations to regain the Russian's interest.

But, however, in vain; the Dowager Duchess received him coldly and eyed his splendour with indifference; however brilliant he might be, she was but a step from the Imperial throne, and an Empress does not need to search for lovers nor to share their caresses with the meanest of her sex.

Anna Ivanowna announced her approaching marriage to the Duke of Hesse-Homburg with malicious calm, and Maurice retired discomfited.

He was now rather at a loss as to his next move, and Augustus scarcely knew what to do with a son whose reputation so exceeded his achievement.

A lovely widow, of immense riches, was now proposed to Maurice by the King Elector and accepted eagerly enough by that young nobleman, whose fortune was so in need of repair and whose position was so unstable.

Prudent considerations were, however, unable to keep Maurice constant till the wedding day, and the wealthy bride-to-be rejected her giddy lover for the same cause that Anna Ivanowna had withdrawn her favour from the fickle Saxon.

At this period the renowned Aurora died at the age of forty-eight, leaving a reputation for sweetness, wit, and even for chastity and decorum, for, if she had no husband, she had only one lover, and the Lutheran cloisters of Quedlinburg had never been disturbed by any of the exotic gaieties of Moritzburg.

She was sincerely mourned by Maurice, whom she had loved with wistful tenderness, but he was relieved to find that the fortune she had left enabled him to discharge his debts and indulge his extravagances, for which there was soon an occasion on the visit of the King of Prussia incognito to Dresden.

This pedantic and crazy old tyrant had to be entertained with resplendent honours, and was impressed and delighted by a flamboyant military display at the camp of Muhlberg, which was on such a scale of ostentation that the horse and harness of every sublieutenant was valued at a thousand crowns, and the King Elector boasted three tables of twenty-four covers all gold, and two of three hundred covers all silver, while his tents were valued at ten million livres.

All this was very much to the taste of Maurice, who was lodged like a royal prince and supplied with an equipage equal to that of his brother, the Prince Electoral.

These opulent excitements and the praises of their Majesties may have been a little embittered for Maurice by the reflection that Anna Ivanowna was now Empress of All the Russias and completely indifferent both to his prowess and the applause it excited.

Reviews and hunting parties, balls and carnivals could not last for ever; and, when they were over, Maurice de Saxe, however praised and caressed, was still landless and without definite status or occupation.

The Courland affair had now taken on a further turn of the grotesque; harassed alike by Poles and Russians, the Courlanders thought of a desperate expedient to end the struggle for the succession and forced a wife, Princess Johanna Magdalena of Saxe-Weissenfels, on the old, feeble and reluctant Duke Ferdinand, recalled from Dantzic, in the hope that an heir might still bless the ancient House of Ketlar.

This marriage spurred Maurice to further attempts on the favour of the Czarina, but the agent he employed to speak for him was dismissed the Imperial service and Anna Ivanowna appointed a more tactful lover and a less impetuous adventurer, Count Biron, to be Duke of Courland, an appointment against which Maurice protested with bitterness and futility.

He had now nothing better to do than reclothe his regiment, change the diversions of Paris for the diversions of Dresden, and to endeavour to invent a mechanical boat or barge, a failure on which he expended more money than he could well afford.

In 1733 the affairs of the Comte de Saxe and those of Europe were embroiled by the death of Augustus from a mortified foot, at the age of sixty-three.

Maurice passionately regretted his father, who had always treated him with warm indulgence, and for whom he probably felt the sincerest affection of his life, but his attention was soon fixed by the outbreak of a general war.

The Emperor and the Czarina both marched troops into Silesia and Poland to further their own pretensions, and France saw fit to revive the claims of Stanislaus Leczinsky, father-in-law of Louis XV, to the Crown of the Jargellons, making for this purpose a league with their Majesties of Spain and Sardinia.

Stanislaus, hurried from his uncomfortable retreat in the damp grandeurs of Chambord and elected King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania in Warsaw, 12th September, 1733, was forced to retire, on the approach of the Russians immediately afterwards, and to fall back on Dantzic where he heard that the new Elector of Saxony, Augustus III, had also been elected King of Poland.

Such was the position when Maurice decided to serve, not his brother, but France. This seems curious, since he always remained on good terms with Augustus III, who had not only confirmed but augmented his pensions, and certainly had no interest in, nor affection for, Stanislaus. He may have been inspired by the desire to serve the glory of France, or have felt bound by his French commission; in any case he showed the indifference to politics of the professional soldier by joining his regiment and serving on the Rhine under Marshal the Duke of Berwick, the son of James II of Great Britain, and the nephew of the great Marlborough.

This campaign dragged on with the usual formal tedium of these pompous wars, and Maurice had little opportunity of showing more than personal bravery before the army went into winter quarters.

Next year (1734) opened with the blockading of the great Rhine towns, Spires, Coblentz and Mainz; Maurice was commended before Coblentz by Marshal Berwick whose opponent was now Prince Eugène under whom Maurice had served before the walls of Belgrade. Maurice had always immensely admired Eugène and with reason; probably this general was the greatest soldier of an age that bred Marlborough and Frederic II.

This veteran commander was indeed more than a match for Berwick who was finally killed when visiting the trenches at Philipsburg. Maurice was conspicuous in the subsequent operations that ended in the surrender of the town, 22nd July, 1734.

His behaviour was duly reported to Louis XV and the young monarch raised the noble foreigner to the rank of lieutenant général.

Nothing further of moment occurred in this aimless war, which continued on the Rhine and in Italy until 1736, when it was terminated by one of the usual tedious congresses which left everything in statu quo by the Treaty of Vienna.

Te Deums and fireworks at Paris, however, gilded the ineffectiveness both of the war and the peace with at least the semblance of triumph, and Maurice de Saxe personally had gained both experience and reputation in the fruitless struggle.

Stanislaus Leczinsky had exchanged the odious privations at Chambord for the Duchy of Lorraine, the one gain made by Cardinal Fleury for France. Augustus III was secure on the throne of Poland, and the Emperor was occupied in marrying his daughter, the Archduchess Maria Teresa, to the Grand Duke of Tuscany who had received that title in exchange for that of Lorraine, while Russia and Prussia had returned to a state of watchfulness and Spain and the lesser nations to one of languor; the pack of political cards had been reshuffled without any one being much the gainer thereby.

Augustus III, who had inherited his father's great good nature and indolence of spirit, was easily reconciled to Maurice, but could not help him to the throne of Courland, where Anna Ivanowna, taking advantage of the confusion of the war, had contrived to place Count Biron on the death of the last of the Ketlars, whose desperate marriage had proved fruitless.

Maurice now found himself without occupation and in various embarrassments; in revisiting the scene of his parents' voluptuous pleasures, the delicious glades of Moritzburg, he had been thrown from his horse and injured the thigh wounded in the skirmish in Red Russia. His boasted strength had already been affected by fatigues and excesses, and his health, hitherto robust and heroic, began to languish, so he repaired to take the baths at Barlaruc in Languedoc, and to meditate, somewhat grimly, on the stagnation of his fortunes.

He was middle aged and no nearer achieving the brilliant destiny he had hoped for than he had been when Marlborough had patted him on the head before Lille, and his father had laughingly admired him in his first uniform with "Saxon gaiters." He remained at best a German nobleman, at worst a mercenary soldier and an adventurer; his finances were in a poor condition and he had had to borrow money on the fifty thousand livres given him, by Louis XV, as brevet de rétention on his regiment.

His ambitious marriage prospects had failed; despite the reckless and flashing air with which he had conducted the Courland business, there is no doubt that he had it most passionately at heart, and desired above everything the possession of these honours which he had come so near to wearing and which had been snatched from him in so tantalizing a fashion; he cherished jealously his diploma of election to the succession of the Ketlars and refused to part with it for any argument or any money.

His military as well as his political ambitions had likewise been thwarted; despite the applause he had gained and the splendour of his exploits, he had never been in command at any considerable action, nor found any good opportunity to put into practice the result of his ardent studies in the science of war.

When stricken with an attack of fever in 1733, he had written his Rêveries on military matters; this bluette de grand seigneur was not published until six years after the author's death; no one was ready for the doctrines it contained and Maurice himself did not take it too seriously, but it remains to show his potentialities as a soldier and an organizer far beyond his times.

Louis XV and his courtiers cared little for this side of the character of Maurice; in their light laughter at the strength of wrist that could, on the occasion of a picnic at Chantilly, twist a nail to replace a missing corkscrew or break a horseshoe in half, in their amused acceptance of the impetuous, lively Saxon as a boon companion in their frivolous, languid pleasures, there was a hint of tolerant patronage for the foreigner who should have quartered the bend sinister, this Duke without a duchy, and several of the superb and insolent princes of the blood sneered covertly at Maurice de Saxe, the alien and the adventurer.

He was at that period of life when reflections on the frailty of human grandeur come readily to the mind, and visiting the tomb of Louis XIV in the dark gloom of the Abbey of St. Denis, he had remarked with emotion on the abandonment of the ashes of that monarch to a mean solitude.

Maurice had a fellow feeling for the man whose pretensions had been so large, who had so emphasized the might and power of kingship and carried to such a dazzling height the dominance of a single personality over a whole nation and a whole century, and he made the suggestion that a sentry of bodyguards might fittingly honour the mausoleum of the King who had given such a lustre to the arms of France.

This project, which had not occurred to the Bourbons nor to any of those who had benefited by the favours of Louis XIV, does honour to Maurice and shows a cast of nobility in his nature.

He had even drawn up a scheme for this parade of honour before the urn of the great King, and another for the establishment of a barracks in the Isle of Swans, to obviate the evils of billeting, but neither was approved by M. de Dangervilliers, Minister for War; the enterprise and energy of Maurice alike went unemployed and he must take his insatiable appetite for life, for action, for splendour, for grandiose achievement, to hunting parties, to the boudoirs of opera dancers and the waters of Barlaruc. His natural restlessness would not long permit him to remain in one place, and he toured Languedoc and Provence, being received, Lutheran as he had remained, by the Vice-Legate at Avignon, and with still more formal honours by Admiral Mathews at Toulon where the English were blockading the Spanish fleet.

Maurice was welcomed by a discharge of all the English artillery and exchanged, bumper for bumper, healths of the Kings of France and England, each glass being honoured by a broadside of great guns; this reception was much to the taste of Maurice, who endeavoured to excel the gallant Mathews in pompous formalities of courtesy.

He had been once to London, on a brief visit, and he had endeavoured, notwithstanding the fatal connection of the House of Hanover with that of Königsmarck, to interest George II in his Courland claims, but this was his last meeting with the English save on the field of battle, where indeed he was soon to face them, for, when he returned to Paris with British salvoes still ringing in his ears, he heard of the death of the last Hapsburg, Charles VI (20th October, 1740).

This event amounted to a declaration of war from each of the European States to their neighbours.

Maria Teresa, the late Emperor's daughter and Grand Duchess of Tuscany, claimed all her father's honours by virtue of the Pragmatic Sanction, and was answered by the Elector of Bavaria's instant protest and rush to arms.

At this conjuncture the young King of Prussia, bold and wary, seized Silesia, after having in vain demanded it from Maria Teresa as a price of his alliance; Russian affairs changed through the death of the Empress Anna Ivanowna and the fall of her favourite, Biron, Duke of Courland (de facto at least); the Elector of Bavaria appealed to France for assistance.

It was purely a Germanic quarrel and France had no interest to gain in interfering and had already suffered sufficiently in espousing the dispute of Stanislaus Leczinsky, but a double marriage drew her into the embroilment; the second wife of the first Bourbon King of Spain, Philip V, had contrived to engage her daughter to the Dauphin, and her son, Philip of Parma, to the eldest French Princess, and the cause of Spain, or rather of Elizabeth Farnese, being that of the House of Bavaria, this pacte de famille caused France again to enter the embroilments of Europe.

England, through her German King, had championed the cause of the Archduchess, while the Stewart Pretender hoped to find this a favourable moment for a repetition of the Scottish adventure of 1715.

Here, then, was Europe called to arms again and in the subsequent brouhaha Maurice de Saxe hoped to find his part.

On the fall of Biron (he was exiled to Siberia) Maurice had rushed to Germany, but only in time to hear of the election of Louis Ernest of Brunswick-Lüneburg to the throne of Courland, which election was accepted by the Courlanders, and Maurice, after uttering a formal manifesto of protest, was obliged to content himself with his hoarded diploma of sixteen years ago.

Charles, Elector of Bavaria, was now Generalissimo of the French troops and Maurice de Saxe was sent to serve under him in the opening of the campaign of 1741; in command of the first division of French cavalry he arrived at the Bavarian camp on 30th September, 1741.

Maurice did not fail to bring the affair of Courland to the Elector's notice, who disposed of the matter with more courtesy than satisfaction to Maurice by saying that the Saxon should be satisfied to deserve the sovereignty of the States without wishing to enjoy them; Charles indeed had to be prodigal of compliments, having nothing else to bestow.

Saxony had meanwhile taken the side of His Electoral Highness and Maurice found himself in alliance with his brother, Augustus III, King of Poland and Elector of Saxony; it seems that he would have been very willing to have commanded his native troops and had offered to the Minister of Augustus, the Comte de Brühl, his assistance in the storm he foresaw brewing in "the vast sea of politics"; but Brühl had passed over the offer in silence, not wishing to share his power with so impetuous and dominant a personality.

Had Maurice been in command of the Saxons instead of a lieutenant under Charles of Bavaria, a man ineffective and mediocre, the young King of Prussia's audacious attack in Silesia might have had another ending.

This campaign in the North was not the only French activity; extensive operations were also commenced in Italy where the Gallispans fought for Genoa and Naples, but these do not concern Maurice de Saxe, whose conduct and exploits alone redeemed the French from complete disaster in this senseless war in which France lost what was left of the military prestige bequeathed her by Louis XIV, her maritime power and her finest colonies, and such financial resources as she still possessed. The war of the Austrian Succession was the last act of the long, feeble and mischievous administration of Cardinal Fleury and was not without its bitter critics even at the moment. D'Argenson, when he succeeded Fleury, noted the folly of this intervention in a German quarrel at the instigation of a violent Italian Queen of Spain, and for the benefit of a cunning King of Prussia; the ancient Maréchal de Noailles had also a very acute idea of the situation and frequently said so; there was no money left, he pointed out, and no one knew where it had gone, and the people were exhausted and wretched; yet even this wise statesman admitted that, despite a country "without funds, without resources and exhausted of inhabitants," it was necessary "to maintain the rank and reputation of France in Europe and the honour and glory of the King" (Noailles to Louis XV, 1742).

The burden of maintaining this same honour and glory fell largely on Maurice de Saxe, who speedily became the main support of Charles of Bavaria, was with him at the taking of Prague, and dined with him in public on the occasions of the celebrations of his proclamation as King of Bohemia.

Charles had, however, despite the ceremonial plaudits of the moment, a just perception of the stability of his dignities; he remarked to Maurice de Saxe over the triumphal wine cups: "I am King of Bohemia in the same way as you are Duke of Courland."

Indeed it was not long before the new King had to abandon Prague to the Austrians, who had taken the field under the husband and brother-in-law of Maria Teresa, Francis, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and his brother, Prince Charles of Lorraine, married to the sister of the Queen of Hungary.

As a recompense for this, his friends and supporters continued to get the Elector of Bavaria elected at the Diet, and the French succeeded in crowning him in Frankfort on 12th February, 1742, as Charles VII with a pomp that was impressive but slightly ironical, for the Austrians were not only masters of the Empire to which Charles had been elected, but had even overrun his native Electorate of Bavaria.

In these unpleasant circumstances, rendered worse by the fall of Lintz on the Danube, then the capital of Upper Austria, Maurice succeeded in raising the spirits of his troops and his Allies by the taking of Egra, an important town in Bohemia, which procured him much fame and a letter from Charles VII, in which His Imperial Majesty lamented: "My dear Count Saxe, why can't you be everywhere?"

This being impossible, the cause of Bavaria went ill enough, though Charles of Lorraine was mainly occupied in checking His Prussian Majesty, now proving himself a considerable general as well as a wily politician.

Belgrade was besieged by the Grand Duke Francis, soon to be the rival Emperor, Francis I, and Maréchal Belle Isle, the commander of the garrison there, acting on the orders of the senile Cardinal Fleury, undertook that ghastly retreat in midwinter which is one of the most gloomy and cruel episodes of any war; Belle Isle was fully conscious of the imbecility of his orders and the atrocious consequences of carrying them out, and his behaviour and that of his troops in these awful circumstances is the one redeeming light in the whole hideous affair.

This business darkened the spirits of the French and cast a further gloom over the unhappy cause of the Emperor; Maurice had no further opportunities for distinction and decided to go to Moscow and solicit the new Empress, Elizabeth Petrowna, for the maternal estate in Livonia, and, possibly, for her influence in Courland.

Maurice was graciously assured of the Czarina's interest and returned to Dresden where he was much caressed by his brother but overwhelmed by the bad news from Prague and the general dismal progress of the war.

He hastened to Ratisbon, where the French army lay under command of Maréchal Maillebois, and arrived there at the same time as the Prince de Conti, that haughty Bourbon who was his active enemy and disputed with him the command of the French troops.

This campaign was disastrous to the French; their armies were shattered, ill, in a bad condition, exhausted and pinched with cold, and harried by Prince Charles of Lorraine and the Grand Duke with their troops of Austrians and Hungarian Uhlans.

Maréchal de Broglie, harassed and weary, wished to abandon Bohemia, and was hotly opposed by Maurice, and these two positive, haughty generals completed the miseries of their armies by a quarrel between themselves.

The following January died the main author of this French war, the Cardinal de Fleury, Bishop of Frejus, a mild, pleasant priest, a kind, gentle man, but one without either strength or ability; his one service to France was the acquisition of Lorraine. He was succeeded by D'Argenson and De Noailles, who found themselves faced by an extravagant Court, a ruined country and a costly war which had now spread to such an extent that all Europe seethed with a confusion of turmoil. The English and Hanoverians had recently joined Prince Charles of Lorraine, and Maurice, who had raised a new regiment of Uhlans, was in command of the French in the Upper Palatinate.

The next event of importance was the battle of Dettingen (1743), where the losses and the advantages appear to have been equal, but which was considered a victory for the King of England and so inflicted the last disgrace of defeat in the open field on the French. Attempts at negotiations having failed through the refusal of the Court of Vienna to come to terms, Maurice found himself in another campaign which opened on the Rhine (1744).

The Netherlands had now been persuaded, against their own inclination and to no one's great advantage, to join the struggle and their lethargic troops augmented the allies of Maria Teresa; Egra, Maurice's conquest, capitulated, as did Ingolstadt, and the tedious campaign ended with no results but that of fatigued and dispirited troops. The winter passed in fruitless negotiations, and Maurice employed himself with what diversions came his way and in raising and training his Uhlans and studying for the next campaign.

In the spring of 1745 France declared war on England, whose troops had already been employed against her by George I as Elector of Hanover.

Louis XV had now decided to lead his army in person, and selected Maurice de Saxe, whom he now made Maréchal de France, for his model and guide in this enterprise; the indolent and frivolous King was not lacking in perception and had remarked, with his light cynicism, "that the times were not fertile in great men."

In Maurice he perceived the only general capable of saving the already tattered glories of the lilies, and of conducting with dignity the war in which he himself was entering as a piquant distraction and with some languid idea of emulating the glories of his predecessors. Maurice was to have the effective command of the forces His Christian Majesty would lead in name, and had therefore achieved a very splendid position in the French Court and camp.

In this superb elevation he encountered a vast deal of envy from the Princes of the Blood, and from the Prince de Conti in particular a very fury of jealousy; the King not only appreciated the fact that the Saxon was the only man in his service likely to cast any lustre on his reign, but appears to have sincerely admired Maurice, who had learnt now to find his way with much finesse through the intrigues, pomps, formalities and frivolities of the most sophisticated Court in Europe.

Yet Maurice was not servile, he had preserved his native boldness, independence and vigour, he was proud but not arrogant, and there was a hearty good nature in the contempt he showed for the intolerable insolence of the gilded rakes, idle fops and sumptuous loungers who flourished in the train of Louis XV; the fine intelligence of Madame de Pompadour noted Maurice, they became tacitly friends; she confided the King to his care and gracefully conveyed to him her hope that he would be able to shorten the tedious war that kept her royal and charming lover from her side.

Despite the desire of Maurice to oblige the favourite the war dragged on; the complicated and extended operations of these years are of little interest save to the military historian, and the figure of Maurice is the only figure that stands out with any splendour and vitality from a crowd of commonplace people; his exploits give the only gleam of the ancient glory to the weary ranks of France.

Frederic of Prussia had been detached from his allies by Maria Teresa, and on the death of Charles VII, January 20th, 1745 (whom France had crowned but never been able to provide with an Empire), the Court of Vienna succeeded in seducing his young son from his champions; Saxony also veered round and signed a treaty with Maria Teresa and England; and, despite the fact that there was now no Emperor to fight for, France continued her struggles with all and sundry across the ruins of the Empire.

In the May of this year Maurice was in command of the expedition in Flanders, soon to be joined by the King who was at the height of the popularity that had named him Bien aimé after his recovery from his illness at Metz. With the charming young monarch of thirty-five was the little Dauphin of fifteen who had been just married to the ugly, sad little Spanish Princess whom he adored, and the whole troupe dorée of the Royal Household, all the glittering and arrogant aristocracy of France, equipped with the extreme of luxury, brave and cool, but utterly incapable of the military commands their rank gave them and all stubbornly resentful of the position of Maurice de Saxe, who had all the responsibility of the campaign and no support from the subordinates who considered themselves his superiors.

To crown all Maurice was in extreme ill health; fatigues and debauchery had at last exhausted a superb physique, and the man who took the field in 1745 was but the ruins of the magnificent cavalier who had scaled the breaches at Belgrade or captured the heart of Anna Ivanowna; at forty-eight Maurice was crippled by gout, had been afflicted with dropsy, was stout, lame, with an air so invalidish that the impish Voltaire had remarked to him: "How can you think of going to the war?"

The unconquerable bold energy of the man showed in his flashing retort: "I'm not thinking of living—but of going!"

Such was his condition when the siege of Tournay, garrisoned by the Dutch, opened.

The Allies, resolving to succour this important place, drew out their troops from their quarters, put them under the command of the young Duke of Cumberland, son of the King of England, and marched on to the French encampment.

Maurice took possession of the village of Fontenoy, which he fortified, and prepared for action; on hearing that a great battle was likely, Louis XV, the Dauphin and the troupe dorée hastened to Fontenoy; Louis possessed considerable personal courage and a graceful sense of dignity as well as an immense trust in Maurice; elegant idler as he was, he showed more bravery in the field than had been ever displayed by the conquering Louis XIV.

Maurice was very ill on the arrival of the King and his tiresome courtiers, but concealed his ailments with grim resolution and made every preparation for the advance of the enemy, though not able to sit on horseback, nor, indeed, hardly upright.

The engagement that followed ended in a victory for France, barren indeed, but sufficient to wipe out the disgrace of Dettingen and provide that "honour and glory" always so passionately valued and then so desperately needed by the French.

It was the personal triumph of Maurice and of Maurice alone; first in a wicker carriage, then forcing himself on horseback, half fainting with pain, chewing a bullet to ease a raging thirst, hampered by the presence of the King and the Dauphin, embarrassed by the incapacity and arrogance of the Princes of the Blood, Maurice was all over the field in the shortest possible space of time, galloping from unit to unit, conveying his own orders, animating the men, forcing, as it were, the French on to victory by the sheer energy of his own impetuous and valiant spirit.

Without Maurice Louis would probably have had to fly vanquished from the field, for the armies were equally matched. The Duke of Cumberland fought with gallant determination and the English with their inevitable bravery, while the French were in considerable confusion; at one moment the issue of the day became uncertain; the genius of Maurice was aided by the behaviour of the Dutch, who displayed that national caution and slowness so admirable in business and sometimes in politics, but rarely successful in a pitched battle; their statesmen were reluctant to enter the war and their soldiers seemed reluctant to fight in it; they offered, as on other occasions, a feeble support to the fierce efforts of the English, and retired early with a loss so small that even the Gazette de Hollande had to apologize for it by saying they had been alarmed by a row of dummy guns in the French trenches, an excuse that hardly betters the case. Waldeck, who commanded them, was not a considerable general and could not rally his lethargic men.

When Maurice was told of the defeat of the Dutch he remarked: "Ah, but now we have the English to tackle; they will be harder to digest." Some of the English regiments lost half their number; the French themselves remarked on the valiancy with which the British struggled to the last; on the other side the six battalions of Lord Clare's Dragoons, the Jacobite Irish exiles, distinguished themselves by their gallantry.

Cumberland appears to have been disgusted with Waldeck and his sluggish troops, for he left the field without troubling about the Dutch beyond this dry note to their commander: "Mon Prince, je me retire sous le canon d'Ath.—Guillaume."

The English, thus abandoned and outgeneralled, suffered ghastly losses and sustained a defeat so rare in their annals as to be matter of delirious rejoicing to their enemies.

Cumberland threw himself under the guns of Ath and left Louis to the full enjoyment of his spectacular triumph.

Louis had displayed serene courage during the engagement, and sentimentalized over it afterwards in the true spirit of the period by remarking to the little Dauphin as he pointed out the heaps of slain and dying: "See, my son, on what the glory of kings is built!"—a pretty example of the mock heroic. After the retreat of Cumberland, His Most Christian Majesty overwhelmed Maurice with caresses and compliments: a pension of 40,000 livres, the tabouret in the Royal presence, a coach in the Royal courtyard, the regal Château of Chambord as a residence—these unexampled rewards were not considered too dazzling for the victor of Fontenoy.

While Louis returned to the Tuileries to savour to the full the flourishes of his triumph, while Cumberland and the English returned home to meet Charles Edward on the Moor of Culloden, Maurice, though still languishing in health, completed the campaign by taking Ath, Bruges, Oudenarde and Ostend, and, contrary to custom, remained with the army during the winter and saw the white flag flown from Brussels, the capital of the Austrian Netherlands, February 20th, 1745.

After a triumphant entry into that city, Maurice sent his troops into winter quarters and returned to Paris where he was received with a very fever of adulation.

Louis had almost exhausted his rewards; there was little else he could do for Maurice de Saxe, but he paid him the supreme compliment of naturalizing him as a Frenchman, to the further disgust and jealousy of the Princes of the Blood.

But Maurice was able to ignore this spite of the troupe dorée so complete was his triumph, so frantic the popular acclamations; he had now somewhat recovered from his disorders and was able to show himself in the galleries of Versailles, in the streets of Paris, and in the box at the Opera.

Here his appearance was the signal for an outburst of enthusiasm; a fair actress robed as an eighteenth-century conception of Victory stepped from the glittering stage and offered to set her laurel wreath on the powdered curls of the hero of Fontenoy; Maurice made a fitting protest and, amid immense applause, was finally persuaded by the Duc de Biron to pass the victor's garland on his arm.

The jovial, stout figure of Maurice de Saxe, with his coarse, kindly face, his bold manner and imperious air, his soldier's bluntness and his courtier's address, decked in all the flamboyant bravery of his French uniform, took the imagination of the people, who, indeed, had lately lacked heroes to worship, and this foreigner became easily the most popular man in France.

He was not so beloved at Court, where he probably exercised to the full his privileges of entry to the royal presence and made no apology for his friendship with the King; the jealousy of the nobles amounted to hatred in some cases, and the Prince de Conti had to be reproved more than once for his behaviour to the foreign Maréchal de France.

In June, 1746, the Spanish Dauphine died and the influence and address of Maurice went far in securing his niece, Maria Josepha of Saxony, as her successor; this marriage took place that same year and greatly increased the prestige of Maurice and gave him a solid connection with the French throne; he had just completed another brilliant campaign in a war further protracted by the death of Philip V, and been honoured by the unheard-of privilege of the grant of six cannon for his own use at Chambord and the patent of Maréchal Géneral.

In the midst of all his splendours and satisfactions Maurice had the sensibility to commiserate the two weeping children whose gorgeous marriage was such a tedious pageant of glittering formality.

Speaking of his little niece he wrote: "It seems to me like a sacrifice." Louis himself felt something of the same touch of pity; lifting one of the ceremonial dresses, massive with bullion, that the young bride had worn for hours, he remarked: "It weighs more than a cuirass."

This Dauphin, a spoilt and timid boy crying for his ugly little Spaniard, and this Dauphiness, a frightened and lonely girl crying for home, overwhelmed, both of them, by their destiny, were the parents of the last three Kings of France, Louis XVI, Louis XVIII and Charles X, who were thus of the blood of Maurice de Saxe.

The State marriage became one of affection and the niece of Maurice led a retired and simple life amid the scandalous frivolities of the Court, and gave to France twelve children; seven of these shared the usual fate of royal infants of that period and died in the cradle; of the five surviving, three were Kings of France, one was Queen of Sardinia and one was the gentle and tragic Madame Elizabeth. Maria Josepha herself survived her feeble young husband, but did not live to see her son ascend the throne; this forgotten Princess is a gentle, pathetic figure in that glittering and cynic age. Maurice appears to have sincerely loved her, and with a wistful affection; she, too, was a stranger and despised as such at the arrogant Court of France where the position of the son of Aurora von Königsmarck became daily more difficult.

War had been his glory and caused his elevation, therefore his enemies intrigued for peace; M. de Conti had succeeded, by the help of his mother who had demanded this favour as the price of her condescension in presenting Madame de Pompadour at Court, in wresting from the King a brevet of generalissimo which renewed the ancient privilege of a fils de France and made him Commander-in-Chief of the Army.

Maurice, again in Flanders, had to endure this humiliation, which he did with hearty good nature. "En avant! tambour battant! méche allumée!" was the cry of the great captain who consolidated his glories by the battle of Raucoux (12th October, 1746), when he defeated the Allies commanded by Charles of Lorraine, who was, as Maurice wrote afterwards, beaten à plate couture.

The battle had been announced by the delicious Madame Favart to the crowd of officers gathered to watch the elegant vaudeville, from the boards of the little travelling theatre that accompanied the camp.

The coquettish actress, instructed by Maurice, had sung:

"Demain bataille! Jour de gloire!
Que dans les fastes de l'histoire
Triomphe encore le nom français
Digne d'éternelle memoire!"

And then advancing, had said, with much éclat:

"To-morrow, gentlemen, there will be no performance because of the battle. The day after we shall give the Coq du Village."

All this was very much to the taste of the moment, and the victory of Raucoux was the more appreciated from being announced through the pretty lips of an admired actress in this frivolous and dramatic fashion.

France now made direct efforts against the Netherlands, where the Allies had striven to animate the cold and hesitating republicans by forcing on them a Stadtholder, William of Orange, married to the King of England's daughter, Anne. Maurice, in 1747, marched on Dutch Flanders and took Hulst and Oxel, and on the 2nd July of that year achieved his third great victory over the Allies at the battle of Laufeldt, a bloody and desperate fight in which the Allies and the French alike sustained heavy losses.

The result of this victory was the fall of that much besieged city, Bergen-op-Zoom, by M. de Lowendahl, under the orders of Maurice, the 17th September, 1747, which concluded the campaign and practically the war.

Maurice was named Governor of the Low Countries and the disgruntled Dutch were kept in play with a tedious conference at Breda.

Next spring Maurice took Maastricht, and the formal congress at Aix-la-Chapelle continued their deliberations and ordered a suspension of arms.

The resultant peace (Aix-la-Chapelle, October 18th, 1748) which boasted a preamble very elegant and profuse, restored all the conquests of Maurice and was as stupid, from the French angle, as the war it closed.

Bitter and heartbroken were the protests of Maurice at seeing his triumphs thus reduced to futilities, his victories to vanities, all his exertions, fatigues and successes to nothing. Not only did the peace leave him without an occupation, but with the stinging sense of a barren labour of eight years behind him; very hollow indeed must have echoed in his memory the shouts of Demain bataille!, the Te Deums of Paris and Brussels, the applause of the Opera, the praises of the King, the flatteries of Madame de Pompadour and the "hurrahs!" of his own conquering armies.

No one indeed had gained much from the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, save the one person who deserved perhaps to do so, the wily, bold and unscrupulous King of Prussia who had dared calmly to take and keep his own advantage amid the surging broils; Frederic, as Maurice bitterly remarked, was allowed to retain Silesia while all his own conquests were ceded.

All his own high-sounding honours, were they not a little empty, a little smacking of the Duchy of Courland adventure?

These rights of entry to Royal palaces, this permission of a stool in the Royal presence, a coach in the Royal yard, these Royal embraces, these six pieces of cannon and laurel wreaths from imitation goddesses, what were they to a man who aspired to royalty himself?

Even the magnificent title of Maréchal Général de France did not satisfy one who had hoped to be a ruling Prince; Maurice had dreamt of the Austrian Netherlands, and it is said that Louis would have been willing to grant him this, but dare not so far affront the spirit of Princes of the Blood and the nobility.

Maurice, then, after all these gaudy flourishes and theatrical rewards, was left with his pension and Chambord and the governorship of Alsace.

He had glanced at Chambord before and finding it in considerable disrepair had purchased a more modest but more comfortable residence at Piples; but the grandiose domain on the flat vineyards of the Sologne, where the vast château of Francis I rose in majestic solitude in the huge park full of wild boar and game, now appealed to Maurice as a fitting place in which to escape the persecutions of the courtiers and live an independent existence after his own pleasure; Chambord was the nearest approach to a kingdom that the victor of Fontenoy, Raucoux and Laufeldt could attain.

The superb château was neglected, lonely and uncomfortable, as Stanislaus Leczinsky to his cost had found, but Maurice received permission from the King to improve the place at the royal expense, and prompdy proceeded to turn the fortified castle of the Middle Ages, and the pleasure palace of the Renaissance that Chambord was, into the gaunt barracks and pompous mansion combined that was the eighteenth-century idea of a royal residence.

There was something in the regal size of the place, the vast squat towers, the huge parade ground, the soaring pinnacles and massive gargoyles, the great staircases and multitude of heavy chambers that pleased the extravagant taste of Maurice de Saxe; if he could not have a kingdom, at least he had a king's palace, if not an army at least a regiment and a barracks.

"A fig for your infernal politics!" the disappointed soldier flung at Maurepas and retired to Chambord with his captured flags, his cannon and his troop of Uhlans; he still suffered from dropsy and a confusion of minor ailments, but his bold spirit was as vigorous as ever and he threw himself into his new life with as much spirit as that with which he had ever conducted a campaign in Flanders, or stormed the walls of Lille or Belgrade.

The flag with the arms of Courland and Saxony floated on the lantern above the fleur de lis carved on the facade of Chambord; when the architects had mutilated such of the Gothic beauties of the ancient château as Louis XIV had left, Maurice was in possession of a very pompous, comfortable palace, extensive barracks and an elegant theatre, all most lavishly appointed and furnished; only a personality like that of Maurice could have adequately filled the vastness of Chambord, but he did fill it, and admirably, living in a high-handed state of fantastic magnificence; it was still en avant! tambour battant! with the Maréchal Général de Saxe.

He made, the story goes, his formal entry into Chambord by driving in a coach and six up the great escalier d'honneur to his apartments, and during all his residence at Chambord kept up this same scale of grandeur; sixteen captured colours in the vestibule, six captured cannon in the court, fifty men on guard at the entrance, a sentinel at the door of the bedchamber of Maurice, everywhere girandoles of crystal, hangings of Utrecht velvet, garlands of gilt blooms, mirrors with bronze clamps, porcelains from Sevres and Missein, pastels in pale tints, statuettes of Loves and Graces in delicate alabaster, airy wreaths, ribbons, Cupidons.

Maurice liked this mise en scène and for a while completely enjoyed himself; there were great hunts and shooting parties in the huge park, there were voluptuous spectacles in the baroque theatre, where Madame Favart, ravished from her husband, queened it over a troop of lesser light beauties, and there was, above everything, the regiment of Uhlans which became the main occupation and the main pride of Maurice de Saxe.

Though supported by the King, this strange troop was entirely subordinate to Maurice, who subjected his soldiers to a severe discipline and did not hesitate to hang them for severe faults; for all this they remained a terror to the neighbourhood; the quiet people of Touraine were startled by this sudden influx of foreign and brutal soldiery, who had nothing to do but wheel in evolutions on the parade ground before Chambord, mount guard over the trophies of Fontenoy and Raucoux, and escort Maurice de Saxe when he pompously rode abroad, who feared neither God nor Devil, but only the redoubtable Maréchal Général.

These "Saxon Volunteers," as Maurice called them, consisted of Hungarians, Turks, Poles, Germans and Tartars, officered by French and men of their own nationality; there was also a "Colonial Brigade" formed of negroes from the Congo, Cayenne, Guinea and Pondicherry, commanded by the son of an African King, who, mounted on white horses and clothed with Eastern flamboyancy, made an arresting spectacle on the lonely plains of Sologne; a bevy of negresses accompanied these black warriors and added to the picturesqueness of the exotic garrison which gathered together every week to hear Mass in the chapel of the château; Maurice had had the dignity to remain a Lutheran; but these soldiers, though half of them were heathen, had to keep up the appearance of being good Catholics, being nominally in the service of the Most Christian King.

Maurice had reviewed these troops before Louis in Paris, in the Champs-Elysees, previous to his departure for Chambord, and had achieved a considerable succès de curiosité when, in full-dress Uhlan uniform, he had made his brilliant and fantastic troops perform their skilful manoeuvres.

At Chambord he drilled them every day and the lordly terraces resounded to the clatter of arms, the clangour of trumpets and the shouts of command; Maurice dined alone, in public, before his court of officers and friends who only sat down to their covers when he had finished; two tables, one for eighty, one for sixty, were usually, served in Chambord.

Eight hundred horses were in the stables and wild steeds from the Ukraine galloped in the immense park, and when one of the sumptuous spectacles was given in the theatre in the donjon, Maurice sat alone in a box opposite the stage, as the King sat at Versailles when he also took his idle pleasure.

It was a robust and gallant imitation of royalty; nothing lacked but the kingdom.

But this opulent life of pleasure began to pall; a certain dullness stole even over the concerts on the water, the boar hunts, the vaudevilles, the reviews of Uhlans, the caresses of easy light ladies, the gallopades in the park, the dinners with one cover, even the sight of the captured flags and the captured cannon lost its first flavour, the visits to Paris and Dresden palled; Maurice began to talk a great deal of his old campaigns and to look at the map of Europe.

Not even the thousand distractions of Chambord could satisfy his bold and restless spirit; the memory of Courland rankled and he still dreamt of exchanging his Marshal's baton for a royal crown.

He cast his bold glance on all the corners of Europe in vain; even the adventuring spirit of the Königsmarck could see no hope there, every inch was occupied; Maurice began to think beyond Europe.

He demanded the island of Madagascar from Louis, declaring that he would colonize it with German paupers, but he wanted too many ships and too much money and the request was refused; Maurice then asked for Tobago, but also in vain.

"Vast projects and chimerical enterprises," as one of his visitors, the Marquis de Valfons, says, then occupied the restless mind of Maurice de Saxe; with every day Chambord staled the more, and the rancour of the Prince de Conti had followed him to Touraine and was irritating him through his neighbour, M. de Saumery.

He thought of establishing a Jewish kingdom in America and of conquering Corsica (as France did conquer Corsica, twenty years later) but Versailles had no money, no energy, no enterprise, and Maurice was left to languish with his useless splendours at Chambord.

"And your young men shall see visions and your old men shall dream dreams."

Maurice de Saxe had savoured the vision and the dream to the full and both were nearly over; he was fifty-four years old in 1750 and had wearied for two years at Chambord.

In the autumn of this year, Mlle, de Sens with a trôlée of Court ladies had come to visit the Maréchal de Saxe and there had been considerable gaieties, balls, hunts, comedies; Maurice was full of spirit and vigour despite his chronic ailments and wrote a lively account of the entertainments to the King, his brother, ending his letter with: "A tout pecheur soit fait miséricorde!"

Six weeks later he was dead.

How he died is not yet known, and never will, perhaps, be known.

The accepted account was that of a nine days' illness, cold, fever, brought on by debauchery, and a sudden and tranquil death.

Another and more romantic version, however, soon gained ground, became a persistent rumour, and is confirmed by a passage in the Mémoires of the Baron Grimm, who claimed to have been at Chambord at the time, and gives a detailed relation of the end of Maurice de Saxe.

This is neither confirmed nor utterly refuted by other authorities; the letters of the two doctors then at Chambord, M. Roth and M. Lefort, prove that Maurice was ill in November, 1750, that he had fever, some kind of seizure, and was bled five times in twenty-four hours (this in itself sufficient cause for a fatal collapse in a man "accablé d'infirmites" as Madame de Pompadour wrote of Maurice after his death), that he desired his illness to be kept secret and showed his usual independence by relying on his own remedies, rye broth and cider, and that he died suddenly between six and seven in the morning of November 30th, 1750, in the bedchamber that can still be seen at Chambord.

There is nothing in all this that renders absolutely impossible, though it does render most improbable, the recital of Grimm and the tenacious local rumours.

According to these, Maurice de Saxe was roused one morning, at eight o'clock, by a messenger who brought him a sealed envelope, hastily dressed, put his papers in order, said a few words to the Comte de Friesen, his nephew and heir, and went out alone into the park then wrapped in the gloomy mists of late autumn.

In one of the melancholy allées, now stripped of leaves and fit resort for the ghostly chase led by Thibault of Champagne which is known to sweep through these dreary glades, waited a plain coach without arms, driven by a servant without livery or cockade; a gentleman in travelling dress descended from this and saluted Maurice with a bitter smile; it was the Prince de Conti, the implacable enemy of the heroic Saxon.

In this lonely and dismal part of the autumn park a duel took place; Maurice de Saxe was mortally wounded, and M. de Conti drove back to Paris satisfied in having removed for ever the man who had been for so long the object of his arrogant rancour.

Maurice returned to the château, commanded secrecy, and died of his wound after an illness of nine days.

If this is true, doctors, servants, M. de Friesen, officers, secretaries, in short a crowd of people, must have been employed in deceiving the world; it is possible that they may have done so; no one would have gained anything by revealing the truth and it would have been a dangerous thing to have breathed a scandal involving the name of a Prince of the Blood; also the persistence of the rumours round Chambord seems to point to some one having whispered something of the dark truth; it is strange that such a story should have been started without any foundation.

On the other hand, Maurice had been in bad health for at least five years (he had been tapped for dropsy before Fontenoy) and had looked to Voltaire a dying man during the war; he was also leading a reckless, dissipated life, so that his sudden death from natural causes was not so amazing as it appeared to his contemporaries; still it was mysterious insomuch as it was secret; no friends arrived at Chambord till after his death and no one appears to have viewed the body till it was embalmed, and the wild rumours of a secret duel spread at once. Perhaps a public imagination could not endure to think that this grandiose and theatrical hero, with all his adventurous pomp and glittering bravado, should die of a chill or a fever like an ordinary man.

Certainly the romantic, lonely duel in the haunted glades of Chambord would have been more in keeping with the life of the son of Augustus the Strong and the descendant of the dashing and reckless Königsmarcks.

However he died, he was dead on this last day of November, 1750. His Highness Maurice de Saxe, Maréchal Général de France, was dead and on his lit de parade; he had died a Lutheran, and his servants said, with a smile.

"Life is only a dream," he had remarked at the last. "Mine has been beautiful, but short."

In memory of this dream of Maurice de Saxe the famous six cannon were fired by the sorrowful Uhlans every quarter of an hour; across the desolate park where the Ukraine horses roamed unheeded, across the barracks where the motley garrison were tying crape on their arms, across the theatre where the weeping actresses were packing up their finery and their masks, sounded the dismal funeral salute for this roi manqué, the man who had achieved so much, but never his utmost desire.

This hero of barren victories, this conqueror without territories, this landless Prince and heirless gentleman, was accorded a funeral that would have pleased his love of pomp even though it was in contradiction to the request contained in his will (in imitation of St. Monica, as one biographer oddly remarks), that his body should be buried simply and in quicklime—"that nothing may remain of me, but my memory among my friends."

He left the bulk of his fortunes, his precious stud of horses, his famous diamond called "Prague," and his beloved regiment to his nephew, M. de Friesen, the son of his sister, the Comtesse de Cossell, and a bold young gallant after his own heart.

The King confirmed this testament, allowing M. de Friesen to keep up the regiment and enjoy Chambord and the pensions; but in five years the gay and brilliant young officer was dead, the regiment was dispersed, the stud broken up, and Chambord abandoned to neglect and decay; all the glories of His Highness Maurice de Saxe had vanished like his dreams of Tobago and Corsica, his visions of thrones and crowns in the Fortunate Isles.

The ghostly huntsman galloped undisturbed through the melancholy solitudes of the ruined park, and the vast chambers and galleries of the great château that had for so brief a time shone with the unsubstantial glories of Maurice were closed on decay and gloom.

The funeral of Maurice de Saxe was so of a piece with his life that to omit some account of it seems to be to end his biography too soon.

A suggestion was made that he should sleep with Turenne in St. Denis; but Maurice, unlike Turenne, had been firm to the Lutheran faith, and though, as some wit remarked, "It is a pity that the De profundis cannot be said for one who has so often caused the Te Deum to be sung," it was decided that a heretic could not repose in the church that was the mausoleum of the most Christian Kings.

The Lutheran Church of St. Thomas at Strassburg was then decided upon, since Maurice had been Governor of Alsace, and on 7th January the convoy set out across the wintry plains of Touraine; the huge funeral coach drawn by six horses draped in black was escorted by a hundred Uhlans, with crape in their casques and their arms reversed, and followed by two other coaches occupied by the gentlemen of His Highness's Household, one of whom, Baron Heldorff, was in charge of the heart of Maurice in a silver box reposing on a black velvet cushion heavy with metallic fringe.

Following came the rest of the Uhlans, the regiment of Clermont, Swiss on foot, pages in weepers, and the two nephews of Maurice, M. de Friesen and M. de Loewenhaupt, in weepers and long mourning cloaks; drums beat funeral marches continuously as the procession made its difficult way under leaden skies and over snowy ground; so bad was the weather that this dismal pageant did not reach Strassburg until a month after the departure from Chambord.

In Strassburg a very orgy of funeral pomp was indulged in, all the notabilities turned out, smothered in crape, guns and bells made the most doleful sounds possible, while the massive coffin of Maurice de Saxe was laid by ten gunners on a bed of state "in the taste of a duchess" that had been prepared in the castle.

Here under a "grand imperial" of black velvet garnished with silver mohair, between curtains of white satin tied with crape, Maurice took his last part in a spectacle of worldly pomp; the hall was hung with black, adorned with the arms of Saxony and Courland, marshal staffs tied saltirewise, death's-heads, tears, hour-glasses, ribbons of the White Eagle, and such-like pleasing emblems of the desirability and futility of earthly grandeur.

On the black velvet pall gleamed and sparkled in the light of wax candles, under a veil of black crape, the crossed sword and scabbard so often used and the Ducal Crown that had never been worn.

On the day of the funeral the whole town was in mourning, every one of importance was in trailing cloak and weepers, and ingenuity was exhausted in the pomp and gloom of the final journey of the victor of Fontenoy. All the nobility of the province and all the magistrates of the town marched to the accompaniment of doleful symphonies and the beat of drums muffled in crape.

Every gleam of daylight was excluded from the church, which was lit by torches and candles and lavishly adorned with skeletons, skulls, Virtues, Genii and weeping Saturns with a very plethora of emblems, laurel wreaths, coats of arms, Latin mottoes, and hundreds of yards of black cloth and silver fringe; in short, nothing was wanting to render the idea of Death as dismal and disgusting as possible and to terrify people into desiring a long life by the spectacle of the terrors waiting at the end of it; nor were tedious and pedantic discourses lacking, in which zealous ministers gave the deceased, in the most fulsome terms, credit for every virtue ever possessed by man, including those of temperance, piety and chastity, and invoked a whole heaven of heathen deities to weep for the death of this Christian hero, now, no doubt, comfortably in a Lutheran heaven.

Nor was this the end of it; when Maurice was at last consigned to the dark bed of state in the black hung vaults, and the weepers and mourning cloaks had been folded away, and the Uhlans turned back towards Paris, the celebrated Pigalle must be ordered to adorn the new Lutheran temple with as ostentatious a piece of sculpture as the florid taste of the times could inspire.

And there it stands to this moment, looking odd and ghastly in the bare church, a skilful exhibition of the false taste, laboured symbolism and insincere sentiment of a cold and exhausted period of art.

In attempting the sublime Pigalle has only achieved the theatrical, and so much perhaps might be said of the man he commemorates; this is an ill piece of sculpture but not an ill epitome of the career of Maurice de Saxe.

This swaggering figure descending to the tomb, does it not express the victor of Fontenoy? This graceful weeping France, is she not a very Adrienne Lecouvreur despairing over her faithless lover? And these vapid leopards, eagles and lions, do they not fitly represent the futile and showy wars where Maurice was conqueror, the barren triumphs he achieved?

And the hideous grinning figure waiting to fasten the coffin lid on all this virile grandeur shows fairly enough the dull materialism, the gloomy doubt of this prosaic and cynic age.

The sentimentality of the actress, the frivolity of the ballet dancer, the hypocrisy of the priest mingle in this monument; the bitter gaiety of a disillusioned age, the useless flourishes of a brave soldier who had no worthy cause to serve, the tawdry ambitions of an adventurer who might, without the accident of birth, have been an admirable prince, alike are vanquished by that terrible material Death conceived by the Atheist and accepted by the Christian who had lost his faith.

This pretentious monument, which has an air so oddly sinister in its gross materialism, is a fitting commemoration of the life of His Highness Maurice de Saxe, Maréshal Général de France, and elected Duke of Courland and Semigallia.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Maurice, Count Saxe, etc., translated from the French, 2 vols., London, 1754. VITZTHUM D'ECKSTAEDT, Maurice, Comte de Saxe et Marie-Josephe de Saxe, Dauphine de France, Leipzig, 1867. GUERLIN, Le Château de Chambord, Paris, n.d. COLIN, Les Campagnes du Maréchal de Saxe, Paris, 1901-06. PIERRE RAIN, Les Chroniques des Châteaux de la Loire, Paris, n.d. SAINT-RENÉ TAILLANDIER, Maurice de Saxe, Paris, n.d. Maurice de Saxe et ses Hulans, Loir-et-Cher historique, tome vi, Paris, 1893. ROUSSET, Correspondance de Louis XV et du Maréchal de Noailles, Paris, 1865. Weber, Moritz, Graf von Sachsen, Marschall von Frankreich, Leipzig, 1863. Mémoires du Duc de Luynes, Paris, 1857. Mémoires and Journals of d'Argenson, Barbier, Grimm, etc., var. ed. Oeuvres de M. Thomas, tome ii, Paris, 1792 (Éloge de Maurice, Comte de Saxe).

Note.—Some of the Letters and Memoirs of Maurice de Saxe, perhaps spurious, are contained in M. Vitzthum d'Eckstaedt's work, quoted above.


THE END

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