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Richelieu And The Conspirators
by [?]

In a richly-furnished state apartment of the royal palace of the Luxembourg, on a day in November, 1630, stood Louis XIII., king of France, tapping nervously with his fingers on the window-pane, and with a disturbed and irresolute look upon his face. Beside him was his favorite, St. Simon, a showily-dressed and handsome gentleman of the court.

“What do you think of all this?” asked the king, his fingers keeping up their idle drumming on the glass.

“Sir, I seem to be in another world,” was the politic reply. “But at any rate you are master.”

“I am,” said the king, proudly, “and I will make it felt, too.”

The royal prisoner was stirring uneasily in the bonds which hard necessity had cast round his will. It was against Cardinal Richelieu that his testy remark was made, yet in the very speaking he could not but feel that to lose Richelieu was to lose the bulwark of his throne; that this imperious master, against whose rule he chafed, was the glory and the support of his reign.

Just now, however, the relations between king and cardinal were sadly strained. Mary de’ Medici, the king’s mother, once Richelieu’s ardent friend, was now his active foe. The queen, Anne of Austria, was equally hostile. Their influence had been used to its utmost to poison the mind of the monarch against his minister, and seemingly with success. To all appearance it looked as if the great cardinal was near his fall.

Rumor of what was afloat had invaded the court. Everywhere were secret whisperings, knowing looks, expectant movements. The courtiers were flocking to the Luxembourg, in hopes of some advantage to themselves. Marillac, the keeper of the seals, was at his country house at Glatigny, very near Versailles, where the king was expected. He remained there in hopes that Louis would send for him and put the power of the disgraced cardinal into his hands. The colossus seemed about to fall. All waited expectantly.

The conspiracy of the queen-mother had gone farther than to use her personal influence with her son against the cardinal. There were others in league with her, particularly Marillac, the keeper of the seals, and Marshal Marillac, his brother, then in command of a large force in Piedmont. All had been carefully prepared against the fall of the minister. The astute conspirators had fully laid their plans as to what was to follow.

Unfortunately for them, they did not reckon with the two principal parties concerned, Louis XIII. and Cardinal Richelieu. With all his weaknesses of temper and mind, the king had intellect enough to know what were the great interests of his kingdom and power, and on whose shoulders they rested. Above all the littleness of a court cabal he could not but discern the great questions which impended, and with which he felt quite incompetent to deal. And he could perceive but one man in his kingdom able to handle these great problems of state.

As for Richelieu, he was by no means blind to what was going on around him. He was the last man in the world to be a dupe. Delaying until the time seemed ripe to move, he requested and obtained an interview with the king. They were a long time closeted, while all the courtier-world of Paris waited in expectation and suspense.

What passed in that private cabinet of the palace no one knew, but when the interview was over it quickly became evident that the queen-mother and her associates had lost, the cardinal had won. Michael de Marillac had hopeful dreams that night, as he slept in his house at Glatigny; but when he awoke in the morning it was to receive the disturbing news that the king and the cardinal were at Versailles together, the minister being lodged in a room under that of the monarch. Quickly came still more disturbing news. The king demanded a return of the seals. Before this tidings could be well digested, the frightened plotter learned that his own arrest had been ordered, and that the exons were already at his door to secure his person.