free ebooks

A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

The age of the Infanta was a serious obstacle


Duke of Antin, son of Madame de Montespan, one of the most adroit courtiers of the old as well as of the new court, "honorless and passionless" (_sans honneur et sans humeur_), according to the Regent's own saying, took a severer view than Dubois of the arrangement to which he had contributed. "The councils are dissolved," he wrote in his memoirs; "the nobility will never recover from it--to my great regret, I must confess. The kings who hereafter reign will see that Louis XIV., one of the greatest kings in the world, never would employ people of rank in any of his business; that the Regent, a most enlightened prince, had begun by putting them at the head of all affairs, and was obliged to remove them at the end of three years. What can they and must they conclude therefrom? That people of this condition are not fitted for business, and that they are good for nothing but to get killed in war. I hope I am wrong, but there is every appearance that the masters will think like that, and there will not be wanting folks who will confirm them in that opinion." A harsh criticism on the French nobility, too long absorbed by war or the court, living apart from the nation and from affairs, and thereby become incapable of governing, put down once for all by the iron hand of Richelieu, without ever having been able to resume at the head of the country the rank and position which befitted them.

The special councils were dissolved, the council of regency

diminished; Dubois became premier minister in name--he had long been so in fact.

He had just concluded an important matter, one which the Regent had much at heart--the marriage of the king with the Infanta of Spain, and that of Mdlle. de Montpensier, daughter of the Duke of Orleans, with the Prince of the Asturias. The Duke of St. Simon was intrusted with the official demand. Philip V. was rejoiced to see his daughter's elevation to that throne which he still regarded as the first in the world; he purchased it by the concession made to the Regent.

The age of the Infanta was a serious obstacle; she was but three years old, the king was twelve. When the Duke of Orleans went in state to announce to Louis XV. the negotiation which tarried for nothing further but his consent, the young prince, taken by surprise, was tongue-tied, seemed to have his heart quite full, and his eyes grew moist. His preceptor, Fleury, Bishop of Frejus, who had just refused the Archbishopric of Rheims, seeing that he must make up his mind to please the Regent or estrange him, supported what had just been said. "Marshal Villeroy, decided by the bishop's example, said to the king, 'Come, my dear master; the thing must be done with a good grace.' The Regent, very much embarrassed, the duke, mighty taciturn, and Dubois, with an air of composure, waited for the king to break a silence which lasted a quarter of an hour, whilst the bishop never ceased whispering to the king. As the silence continued, and the assembly of all the council, at which the king was about to appear, could not but augment his timidity, the bishop turned to the Regent, and said to him, 'His Majesty will go to the council, but he wants a little time to prepare himself for it.' Thereupon the Regent replied, that he was created to await the convenience of the king, saluted him with an air of respect and affection, went out and made signs to the rest to follow him. A quarter of an hour later the king entered the council, with his eyes still red, and replied, with a very short and rather low yes, to the Regent's question, whether he thought proper that the news of his marriage should be imparted to the council." "It was the assurance of peace with Spain, and the confirmation of the recent treaties; the Regent's enemies saw in it the climax of the policy, by the choice of an infant, which retarded the king's marriage." [Memoires secrets de Dubois, t. ii. p. 163.]

eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us