Louis XIV - John S. C. Abbott

Matrimonial Projects


"There is nothing so successful as success." The young king returned to Paris from his coronation and his brief campaign a hero and a conqueror. The courage he had displayed won universal admiration. The excitable populace were half frenzied with enthusiasm. The city resounded with shouts of gladness, and the streets were resplendent with the display of gorgeous pageants.

The few nobles who still rallied around the court endeavored to compensate by the magnificence of their equipages, the elegance of their attire, and the splendor of their festivities, for their diminished numbers. There were balls and tournaments, where the dress and customs of the by-gone ages of chivalry were revived. Ladies of illustrious birth, glittering in jewels, and proud in conscious beauty, contributed to the gorgeousness of the spectacle. Still, in the midst of all this splendor, the impoverished court was greatly embarrassed by straitened circumstances.

Cardinal Mazarin, eager to retain his hold upon the king, did everything he could to gratify the love of pleasure which his royal master developed, and strove to multiply seductive amusements to engross his time and thoughts.

But a few days after Cardinal de Retz had been conducted a prisoner to Vincennes, his uncle, the Archbishop of Paris, died. The cardinal could legally claim the succession. The metropolitan clergy, who had been almost roused to rebellion by his arrest, were now still more deeply moved, since he had become their archbishop. They regarded his captivity as political martyrdom, and their murmurs were deep and prolonged. The pope also addressed several letters to the court, soliciting the liberation of his cardinal. The excitement daily increased. Nearly all the pulpits more or less openly denounced his captivity. At length a pamphlet appeared urging the clergy to close all their churches till their archbishop should be released.

Mazarin was frightened. He sent an envoy to the captive cardinal presenting terms of compromise. We have not space to describe the diplomacy which ensued, but the conference was unavailing. The cardinal was soon after removed, under an escort of dragoons, to the fortress of Nantes. From this place he almost miraculously escaped to his own territory of Retz, where he was regarded as sovereign, and where he was surrounded by retainers who, in impregnable castles, would fight to the death for their lord. These scenes took place early in the summer of 1653.

In the mean time, the young king was amusing himself in his various palaces with the many beautiful young ladies who embellished his court. Like other lads of fifteen, he was in the habit of falling in love with one and another, though the transient passion did not seem very deeply to affect his heart. Some of these maidens were exceedingly beautiful. In others, vivacity and intellectual brilliance quite eclipsed the charms of the highest physical loveliness.

Anne of Austria, forgetting that the all-dominant passion of love had led her to regret that she was the wife of the king, that she might marry the Duke of Buckingham, did not deem it possible that her son could stoop so low as to marry any one who was not of royal blood. She therefore regarded without much uneasiness his desperate flirtations, while she was scanning the courts of Europe in search of an alliance which would add to the power and the renown of her son.

One of the nieces of Cardinal Mazarin, an Italian girl by the name of Olympia Mancini, was among the first to whom the boy-king of fifteen became specially attached. Olympia was very beautiful, and her personal fascinations were rivaled by her mental brilliance, wit, and tact. She was by nature and education a thorough coquette, amiable and endearing to an unusual degree. She had a sister a little older than herself, who was also extremely beautiful, who had recently become the Duchess of Mercoeur. Etiquette required that in the balls which the king attended every evening he should recognize the rank of the duchess by leading her out first in the dance. After this, he devoted himself exclusively, for the remainder of the evening, to Olympia.

It will be remembered that Henrietta, the widowed queen of Charles II., who was daughter of Henry IV. and sister of Louis XIII., was then residing in France. She had no pecuniary means of her own, and, chagrined and humiliated, was a pensioner upon the bounty of the impoverished French court. Henrietta had with her a very pretty daughter, eleven years of age. Being the granddaughter of Henry IV. and daughter of Charles II., she was entitled, through the purity of her royal blood, to the highest consideration in the etiquette of the court. But the mother and the daughter, from their poverty and their misfortunes, were precluded from any general participation in the festivities of the palace.

The queen, Anne of Austria, on one occasion, gave a private ball in honor of these unfortunate guests in her own apartments. None were invited but a few of her most intimate friends. Henrietta attended with her daughter, who bore her mother's name. There are few situations more painful than that of poor relatives visiting their more prosperous friends, who in charity condescend to pay them some little attention. The young Henrietta was a fragile and timid girl, who keenly felt the embarrassment of her situation. As, with her face suffused with blushes, and her eyes moistened with the conflicting emotions of joyousness and fear, she entered the brilliant saloon of Anne of Austria, crowded with those below her in rank, but above her in prosperity and all worldly aggrandizement, she was received coldly, with no marks of sympathy or attention. As the music summoned the dancers to the floor, the king, neglecting his young and royal cousin, advanced, according to his custom, to the Duchess of Mercoeur, to lead her out. The queen, shocked at so gross a breach of etiquette, and even of kindly feeling, rose from her seat, and, advancing, withdrew the hand of the duchess from her son, and said to him, in a low voice, "You should dance first with the English princess." The boy-king sulkily replied, "I am not fond of little girls." Both Henrietta and her daughter overheard this uncourteous and cruel remark.

Henrietta, the mother, hastened to the queen, and entreated her not to attempt to constrain the wishes of his majesty. It was an exceedingly awkward position for all the parties. The spirit of Anne of Austria was aroused. Resuming her maternal authority, she declared that if her niece, the Princess of England, were to remain a spectator at the ball, her son should do the same. Thus constrained, Louis very ungraciously led out Henrietta upon the floor. The young princess, tender in years, sensitive through sorrow, wounded and heart-crushed, danced with tears streaming down her cheeks.

Upon the departure of the guests, the mother and the son had their first serious quarrel. Anne rebuked Louis severely for his shameful conduct. The king rebelled. Haughtily facing his mother, he said, "I have long enough been guided by your leading-strings. I shall submit to it no longer." It was a final declaration of independence. Though there were tears shed on both sides, and the queen made strenuous efforts at conciliation, she felt, and justly felt, that the control of her son had passed from her forever. It was a crisis in the life of the king. From that hour he seemed disposed on all occasions to assert his manhood.

A remarkable indication of this soon occurred. It was customary, when the king, through his ministers, issued any decrees, that they should be registered by the Parliament, to give them full authority. Some very oppressive decrees had been issued to raise funds for the court. It was deemed very important that they should be registered. The king in person attended Parliament, that the influence of his presence might carry the measure. No one dared to oppose in the presence of the king.

Louis had now established his summer residence at the castle of Vincennes. Arrangements had been made for a magnificent hunt in the forest the next day, to be attended by all the ladies and gentlemen of the court. The king, after leaving the Parliament, returned to Vincennes, which is about three miles from Paris. He had scarcely arrived at the castle when he received information that, immediately upon his leaving the Parliament, a motion had been made to reconsider the approval of the decrees.

The king dispatched a courier ordering the Chamber to reassemble the next morning. The pleasure-loving courtiers were dismayed by this order, as they thought it would interfere with the hunt. But the king assured them that business should not be allowed to interfere with his pleasures.

At half past nine o'clock the next morning the king entered the chamber of deputies in his hunting-dress. It consisted of a scarlet coat, a gray beaver hat, and high military boots. He was followed by a large retinue of the nobles of his court in a similar costume.

"In this unusual attire," writes the Marquis de Montglat, "the king heard mass, took his place with the accustomed ceremonies, and, with a whip in his hand, declared to the Parliament that in future it was his will that his edicts should be registered, and not discussed. He threatened them that, should the contrary occur, he would return and enforce obedience."

How potent must have been the circumstances which the feudalism of ages had created. These assembled nobles yielded without a murmur to this insolence from a boy of eighteen. Parliament had ventured to try its strength against Cardinal Mazarin, but did not dare to disobey its king.

Soon after this, Louis, having learned that Turenne had gained some important victories over the Fronde, decided to join the army to witness the siege of the city of Condé and of St. Quilain. Both of these places soon fell into the hands of the Royalist troops. The king had looked on. Rapidly he returned to Paris to enjoy almost a Roman triumph for his great achievement.

As one of the festivities of the city, the king arranged a tournament in honor of his avowed lady-love, Olympia Mancini. She occupied a conspicuous seat among the ladies of the court, her lovely person decorated with a dress of exquisite taste and beauty. The king was prominent in his attire among all the knights assembled to contest the palm of chivalry. He was dressed in robes of brilliant scarlet. A white scarf encircled his waist, and snow-white plumes waved gracefully from his hat.

The scene was as gorgeous as the wealth and decorative art of the court could create. There were retainers surrounding the high lords, and heralds, and pages, and trumpeters, all arrayed in the most picturesque costume. No one could be so discourteous or impolitic as to vanquish the king. He consequently bore away all the laurels. This magnificent tournament gave the name of "The Carousal" to the space where it was held, between the Louvre and the Tuileries.

Early in the summer the court removed to Compiegne, to spend the season in rural amusements there. Christina, the young queen of Sweden, who had just abdicated the throne, and whose eccentricities had attracted the attention of Europe, came to the frontiers of France with an imposing retinue, and, announcing her arrival, awaited the invitation of the king to visit his court. She was one of the most extraordinary personages of that or any age. Good looking, "strong minded" to the highest degree, masculine in dress and address, always self-possessed, absolutely fearing nothing, proud, haughty, speaking fluently eight languages, familiar with art, and a consummate intriguante, she excited astonishment and a certain degree of admiration wherever she appeared.

The curiosity of Louis was so greatly excited and so freely expressed to see this extraordinary personage as to arouse the jealousy of Olympia. The king perceived this. It is one of the most detestable traits in our fallen nature that one can take pleasure in making another unhappy. The unamiable king amused himself in torturing the feelings of Olympia.

[Illustration] from Louis XIV by John S. C. Abbott


Christina proceeded at first to Paris. Here she was received with the greatest honor. For a distance of nearly six miles from the Louvre the streets were lined with armed citizens, who greeted her with almost unintermitted applause. The crowd was so great that, though she reached the suburbs of Paris at two o'clock in the afternoon, she did not alight at the Louvre until nine o'clock in the evening. This eccentric princess was then thirty years of age, and, though youthful in appearance, in dress and manners she affected the Amazon. She had great powers of pleasing, and her wit, her entire self-reliance, and extensive information, enabled her to render herself very attractive whenever she wished to do so.

After spending a few days in Paris, she proceeded to Compiegne to visit the king and queen. Louis and his brother, with Mazarin and a crowd of courtiers, rode out as far as Chantilly, a distance of nearly twenty miles, to meet her. Christina also traveled in state, accompanied by an imposing retinue. Here there was, at that time, one of the largest and finest structures in France. The castle belonged to the family of Condé. The opposite cut presents it to the reader as it then appeared.

The king and his brother, from some freak, presented themselves to her at first incognito. They were introduced by Mazarin as two of the most nobly born gentlemen in France. Christina smiled, and promptly replied,

"Yes, I have no doubt of it, since their birthright is a crown."

She had seen their portraits in the Louvre the day before, and immediately recognized them.

Christina was to be honored with quite a triumphal entrance to Compiegne. The king accordingly returned to Compiegne, and the next day, with the whole court in carriages, rode out a few leagues to a very splendid mansion belonging to one of the nobles at Fayet. It was a lovely day, warm and cloudless. Anne of Austria decided to receive her illustrious guest upon the spacious terrace. There she assembled her numerous court, resplendent with gorgeous dresses, and blazing with diamonds. Soon the carriage of the Swedish queen drove up, with the loud clatter of outriders and the flourish of trumpets. Cardinal Mazarin and the Duke de Guise assisted her to alight. As she ascended the terrace the queen advanced to meet her.

Though Anne was at first struck with amazement at the ludicrous appearance of the attire of Christina, she was immediately fascinated by her conversational tact and brilliance. Some allusion having been made to the portrait of the king in the Louvre, the queen held out her arm to show a still more faithful miniature in the clasp of her bracelet. Anne of Austria had a very beautiful arm, and was very proud of it. Christina, instead of looking at the bracelet, surveyed the undraped arm and hand with admiration.

"How beautiful! how beautiful!" she exclaimed. "Never did I see an arm and hand of such lovely hue and such exquisite symmetry. I would willingly have made the journey from Rome to Paris to see this arm."

The queen's heart was won, Christina knew it. The next achievement was to win the king.

Christina was apparently as familiar with the French court, and all the intrigues there, from the information which she had obtained, as if she had always been a resident at that court. She immediately turned with very marked attention to Olympia Mancini, and seemed dazzled by her beauty. The heart of the boy-king was won in seeing his own good taste thus highly appreciated and sanctioned. Having thus secured the queen and the king, Christina was well aware that she had captivated the whole court.

An elegant collation was prepared. The plump little queen ate like a hungry dragoon. The royal cortége, enveloping the Swedish princess, returned to the palace of Compiegne. Several days were spent at Compiegne, during which she astonished every one by the remarkable self-poise of her character, her varied information, and the versatility of her talents. She conversed upon theology with the ecclesiastics, upon politics with the ministers, upon all branches of science and art with philosophers and the virtuosi, and eclipsed the most brilliant of the courtiers in the small-talk of gallantry.

She attended the theatre with the queen. During the tragedy she wept like a child, heartily and unaffectedly. During the farce, which was one of those coarse and pungent compositions by the poet Scarron, which would now be scarcely tolerated, her shouts of laughter echoed through the theatre. She astonished the court by clapping her hands and throwing her feet upon the top of the royal box, like a rowdy in a smoking-room.

[Illustration] from Louis XIV by John S. C. Abbott


From Compiegne, Christina, by invitation, went to Fontainebleau to visit Mademoiselle de Montpensier. The piquant pen of Mademoiselle has described this interview. Some allowance must perhaps be made for the vein of satire which pervaded nearly all the utterances of this haughty princess. The dress of Christina consisted of a skirt of gray silk, trimmed with gold and silver lace, with a bodice of gold-colored camlet trimmed like the skirt. She wore a kerchief of Genoa point about her neck, fastened with a knot of white ribbon. A light wig concealed her natural hair. Her hat was profusely decorated with white plumes. She looked, upon the whole, Mademoiselle thought, like a handsome boy.

Mademoiselle, accustomed to the rigid propriety of the French court, was not a little surprised to hear Christina, during the comedy, interlard her conversation with hearty oaths, with all the volubility of an old guardsman. She flung about her legs in the most astonishing manner, throwing them over the arms of her chair, and placing herself in attitudes quite unprecedented in Parisian circles.

Soon after this, this Amazonian princess returned by a circuitous route to her Northern home. Before taking leave of her, it may be well to remark that subsequently Christina made a second visit to France uninvited—not only uninvited, but very unwelcome. She took possession of the palace of Fontainebleau with her attendants, where with cold courtesy she was tolerated. In a freak of passion, she accused her grand equerry, M. Monaldeschi, of high treason, and actually put him to death. So high-handed an outrage, even in those days of feudal barbarism, excited throughout France a universal feeling of disgust and indignation. The sentiment was so strong and general that the king deemed it necessary to send her a letter through his minister, Mazarin, expressive of his extreme displeasure.

Christina, much exasperated, sent a reply containing the following expressions:

"MR. MAZARIN,—Those who acquainted you with the details regarding Monaldeschi, my equerry, were very ill informed. Your proceeding ought not, however, to astonish me, silly as it is. But I should never have believed that either you or your haughty young master would have dared to exhibit the least resentment toward me. Learn all of you, valets and masters, little and great, that it was my pleasure to act as I did; that I need not, and I will not account for my actions to any one in the world, and particularly to bullies of your description. I wish you to know, and to say to all who will hear it, that Christina cares very little about your court, and still less about yourself; and that, in order to revenge my wrongs, I do not require to have recourse to your formidable power. Believe me, therefore, Jules, [the Christain name of Mazarin] you had better conduct yourself in a manner to deserve my favor, which you can not study too much to secure. God preserve you from ever risking the least indiscreet remark upon my person. Although at the end of the earth, I shall be informed of your plots. I have friends and courtiers in my service who are as clever and far-sighted as yours, although they are not so well paid.


Soon after this her Swedish majesty disappeared from France, to the great relief of the court, and was seen there no more.

Olympia Mancini had ever increasing evidence that the love of the king for her was but a frivolous and heartless passion. The Count de Soissons, of Savoy, a young prince who had just become the head of his house, visited the court of Louis XIV. The marvelous beauty of Olympia, at first glance, won his heart. He was young, handsome, chivalric, high-born, and was just entering upon a magnificent inheritance. Olympia had recently lost by death a mother whom she greatly revered, and a beloved sister. She was overwhelmed with grief. The entire want of sympathy manifested by the king shocked her. He thought of nothing but his own personal pleasure. Regardless of the grief of Olympia, he exhibited himself, evening after evening, in court theatricals, emulating the agility of an opera-dancer, and attired in spangled robes.

Wounded and irritated by such conduct, Olympia accepted the proffered hand of the Count de Soissons, who was grandson of Charles V. The marriage was attended with great splendor at the palace of the Louvre. All the court was present. The king himself seemed not at all discomposed that another should marry the beautiful maiden whom he had professed so ardently to love. Indeed, he was already beginning to transfer his attentions to Mademoiselle d'Argencourt, a queenly beauty of the high family of Conti. Her figure was perfect, her manners were courtly in the highest degree, and all who approached her were charmed with her conversational vivacity and tact.

But Mademoiselle's affections were already engaged, and, being fully aware that the king flitted from beauty to beauty, like the butterfly from flower to flower, she very frankly intimated to the king that she could not receive his attentions. Louis was heart-broken; for such fragile hearts are easily broken and as easily repaired. He hastened to his mother, and told her that he must leave Paris to conquer his passion. The love-sick monarch retired to Vincennes, spent ten days there, and returned quite cured.

The marriage of Olympia, as we have mentioned, was celebrated with very great brilliance. The ambitious cardinal, in heart disappointed that he had not been able to confer the hand of Olympia on the king, was increasingly desirous of investing the members of his family with all possible éclat. He had imported for the occasion the principal members of the Pope's choir. These wonderful vocalists from the Sistine Chapel astonished the French court with melody and harmony such as had never been heard in the Louvre before.

Olympia had a younger sister, Mary, fifteen years of age. She had come from her school in a convent to witness the marriage festivities. The music and the impressive scene affected the artless child deeply, and her tears flowed freely. The king, surrounded by the brilliant beauties of his court, accidentally caught sight of this child. Though not beautiful, there was something in her unaffected attitude, her tears, her entire absorption in the scene, which arrested his attention.

Mary had early developed so bold, independent, and self-reliant a spirit as to induce her father, on his death-bed, to entreat Madame de Mancini to compel her to take the veil. In compliance with this injunction, Mary had been placed in a convent until she should attain the fitting age to assume the irrevocable vows. Thus trained in seclusion, and with no ambitious aspirations, she had acquired a character of perfect simplicity, and her countenance bore an expression of intelligence and sensibility far more attractive than ordinary beauty. A contemporaneous writer says,

"Her movements, her manners, and all the bearing of her person were the result of a nature guided by grace. Her look was tender, the accents of her voice were enchanting. Her genius was great, substantial, and extensive, and capable of the grandest conceptions. She wrote both good prose and pleasing poetry; and Mary Mancini, who shone in a courtly letter, was equally capable of producing a political or state dispatch. She would not have been unworthy of the throne if among us great merit had been entitled to obtain it."

The king inquired her name. Upon learning that she was a niece of the cardinal, and a sister of Olympia, he desired that she might be presented to him.

Mary was an enthusiast. The young king was very handsome, very courtly, and a perfect master of all the phrases of gallantry. Mary fell in love with him, without knowing it, at first sight. It was not the monarch  which had won her, but the man, of exquisitely symmetrical proportions, so princely in his bearing, so fascinating in his address. The young schoolgirl returned to her convent with the image of the king indelibly engraven on her heart. The few words which passed between them interested the king, for every word she said bore the impress of her genius. Ere long she was added to the ladies of the queen's household.

The king, having closed his flirtation with Mademoiselle d'Argencourt, found himself almost insensibly drawn to Mary Mancini. Though there were many in his court more beautiful in person, there were none who could rival her in intellect and wit. Though naturally timid, her reserve disappeared when in his presence. Though ever approaching him with the utmost possible deference and respect, she conversed with him with a frankness to which he was entirely unaccustomed, and which, at the same time, surprised and charmed him.

His vanity was gratified with the almost religious devotion with which she unaffectedly regarded her sovereign, while at the same time she addressed him with a bold simplicity of utterance which astounded the courtiers and enthralled the king. He was amazed and bewildered by the grandeur of a character such as he had never encountered before. She reproved him for his faults, instructed him in his ignorance, conversed with him upon themes beyond the ordinary range of his intellect, and endeavored to enkindle within him noble impulses and a lofty ambition. The king found himself quite unable to compete with her strength of intellect. His weaker nature became more and more subject to one endowed with gifts far superior to his own. In every hour of perplexity, in every serious moment, when the better nature of the king gained a transient ascendency, he turned from the frivolity of the gay and thoughtless beings fluttering around him to Mary Mancini for guidance and strength.

The ambition of Cardinal Mazarin was again excited with the hope that he might yet place a niece upon the throne of France. But there was no end to the intrigues of ambitious aspirants, directly or indirectly, for the hand of the young king. Mademoiselle de Montpensier had enormous wealth, was of high birth, and was endowed with marvelous force of character. She had long aspired to share the throne with her young cousin. When it was evident that this plan had failed, the Duke of Orleans brought forward a younger daughter by a second wife. But Mazarin succeeded in thwarting this arrangement. The Princess Henrietta of England, whom the young king had treated so cruelly at the ball, was urged upon him. She was lovely in person, amiable in character, but in poverty and exile. Cromwell was in the plenitude of his power. There was no probability that her family would be restored to the throne. The king turned coldly from her.

Portugal was then one of the most wealthy and powerful courts of Europe. The Queen of Portugal was exceedingly anxious to unite her daughter with the King of France. Through her embassadors she endeavored to effect an alliance. A portrait of the princess was sent to Louis. It was very beautiful. The king made private inquiries. She was very plain. This settled the question. The Portuguese princess was thought of no more.

The King of Spain had a very beautiful daughter, Maria Theresa. The Spanish monarchy then, perhaps, stood second to none other on the globe. Spain and France were engaged in petty and vexatious hostilities. A matrimonial alliance would secure friendship. The matter was much talked of. The proud queen-mother, Anne of Austria, was very solicitous to secure that alliance, as it would gratify her highest ambition. Mazarin professed warmly to favor it. He probably saw insuperable obstacles in the way, but hoped, by co-operating cordially with the wishes of the queen, to be able finally to secure the marriage of the king with Mary Mancini.

Maria Theresa was heiress to the throne of Spain. Should she marry Louis XIV., it would be necessary for her to leave Spain and reside in Paris. Thus the Queen of France would be the Queen of Spain. In fact, Spain would be annexed to France as a sort of tributary nation, the court being at Paris, and all the offices being at the disposal of the Queen of France, residing there. The pride of the Spaniards revolted from this, and still the diplomatists were conferring upon the matter.

Henrietta, the unfortunate widow of Charles I. of England, had an elder daughter, who had married the Prince of Orange, the head of the illustrious house of Nassau. This Princess of Orange was very beautiful, young, in the enjoyment of vast possessions, and a widow. She aspired to the hand, and to share the crown of the King of France. Surrounded by great magnificence and blazing with jewels, she visited the court of Louis XIV. Her mission was signally unsuccessful. The king took a strong dislike to her, and repelled her advances with marked discourtesy.

While matters were in this state, Charles II. offered his hand to Mary Mancini. But the proud cardinal would not allow his niece to marry a crownless and impoverished king. In the mean time, Mary Mancini, by her increasing beauty and her mental superiority, was gaining daily more influence over the mind of the king. With a voice of singular melody, a brilliant eye, a figure as graceful and elastic as that of a fairy, and with words of wonderful wisdom flowing, as it were, instinctively from her lips, she seemed effectually and almost unconsciously to have enthralled the king. All his previous passions were boyish and ephemeral. But Mary was very different from any other lady of the court. Her depth of feeling, her pensive yet cheerful temperament, and her full-souled sympathy in all that was truly noble in conduct and character, astonished and engrossed the susceptible monarch.

The Duchess of Savoy had a daughter, Marguerite, whom she wished to have become the wife of the French king. The princess was by birth of the highest rank, being a descendant of Henry IV. The duchess sent as an envoy a young Piedmontese count to treat secretly with the cardinal for the marriage of the king with the Princess Marguerite. The count was unsuccessful. It was quite evident that Mazarin was intending to secure the marriage of the king with his niece.

The proud queen, Anne of Austria, became greatly alarmed. She mortally offended the cardinal by declaring to him that nothing should induce her to consent to such a degradation of her son as to permit his marriage with the niece of the cardinal. She declared that in such an event she herself would head an insurrection against the king, and that the whole of France would revolt both against him and his minister. These bitter words ever after rankled in the bosom of the cardinal.

The queen summoned a secret assembly of the cabinet, and put to them the question whether the marriage of her son without her consent would be a valid one. The unanimous decision was in the negative. She then had this decision carefully drawn up, and made effectual arrangements to have it registered by the Parliament, should the king secretly marry Mary Mancini.

The cardinal now found himself compelled to abandon his ambitious hopes for his niece, and opened again negotiations with Spain for the hand of the Infanta Maria Theresa, and with the court of Savoy for the Princess Marguerite. The Spanish marriage would terminate the war. The union with Savoy would invest France with new powers for its vigorous prosecution.

Every day the attachment of the king to Mary Mancini became more undisguised. She guided his reading; she taught him the Italian language; she introduced to him the names of great men in the works of literature and art, and labored heroically to elevate his tastes, and to inspire him with the ambition of performing glorious deeds.

The queen, in her anxiety, made arrangements for the king to meet the Princess Marguerite at Lyons, that they might be betrothed. She greatly preferred the alliance with Spain; but as there seemed to be insuperable objections to that, she turned her attention to Savoy. The king continued his marked and almost exclusive attentions to Mary, and she loved him with the full flow of her ardent affections.

The whole court was to proceed in great magnificence to Lyons, to meet the court of Savoy. Mary was compelled to accompany the court. She knew full well the errand upon which Louis was bound. Though her heart was heavy, and tears dimmed her eyes, she was obliged to appear cheerful. She had made an earnest effort to avoid the journey, but Anne of Austria was obdurate and cruel. She assured Mary that she could not spare her presence when she wished to impress the Princess Marguerite with the magnificence and beauty of the French court.

The court of Savoy left Turin at the same time that the French court left Paris. The pledge had been given that, should the king be pleased with the appearance of Marguerite, the marriage should take place without delay. During the journey, the heartless and fickle king, ever charmed by novelty, was in buoyant spirits. Though he still clung to the side of Mary, giving her a seat in his own carriage, and, when the weather was fine, riding by her side on horseback, he tortured her heart by the joyousness with which he spoke of the anticipated charms of Marguerite and of his approaching marriage.

At Lyons the royal party was received with great magnificence. The next day it was announced that the court of Savoy was approaching. The queen-mother and her son, with two ladies in the royal coach, preceded, and, followed by a considerable retinue, advanced to meet their guests. The king mounted his horse and galloped forward to get a sight of Marguerite without being known by her. She was riding in an open barouche. He soon returned in great glee, and, springing from the saddle, re-entered the carriage, and informed his mother that the Princess Marguerite was very beautiful. Scarcely had he said this ere the two royal coaches met. Both parties alighted. The princess was introduced to Louis. Then the queen-mother and her son, the Duchess of Savoy and the Princess Marguerite, and an elder daughter, who was a widow, entered the royal coach and returned to Lyons. The king was in exuberant spirits. He at once entered into the most animated and familiar conversation with the princess.

The Princess Marguerite fully appreciated the embarrassment of her own situation. She was going to Lyons to present herself to Louis XIV. to see if he would take her for his wife. The humiliation of being rejected would be dreadful. In vain she implored her mother to spare her from such a possibility. But the question seemed to be at once settled favorably. The king was manifestly much pleased with Marguerite, and the princess could see nothing but attractions in the young, handsome, and courtly sovereign of France.

Poor Mary, who was informed of every thing that transpired, was suffering martyrdom. She was immediately forsaken and forgotten. In public, all her force of character was called into requisition to dress her face in smiles. In her secret apartment she wept bitterly.