Hallenberg’s History of Gustavus Adolphus; Fryxell’s History of Sweden, translated by Mary Howitt; Dreysen’s Life of Gustavus Adolphus; S.R. Gardiner’s Thirty Years’ War; Schiller’s Thirty Years’ War; Schiller’s Wallenstein, translated by Coleridge; Dr. Foster’s Life of Wallenstein; Colonel Mitchell’s Life of Gustavus Adolphus; Lord F. Egerton’s Life and Letters of Wallenstein; Chapman’s History of Gustavus Adolphus; Biographie Universelle; Article in Encyclopaedia Britannica on Sweden; R.C. Trench’s Social Aspects of the Thirty Years’ War; Heydenreich’s Life of Gustavus Adolphus.
A. D. 1585-1642.
Cardinal de Richelieu is an illustration of what can be done for the prosperity and elevation of a country by a man whom we personally abhor, and whose character is stained by glaring defects and vices. If there was a statesman in French history who was pre-eminently unscrupulous, selfish, tyrannical, and cruel, that statesman was the able and wily priest who ruled France during the latter years of Louis XIII. And yet it would be difficult to find a ruler who has rendered more signal services to the state or to the monarch whom he served. He extricated France from the perils of anarchy, and laid the foundation for the grandeur of the monarchy under Louis XIV. It was his mission to create a strong government, when only a strong government could save the kingdom from disintegration; so that absolutism, much as we detest it, seems to have been one of the needed forces of the seventeenth century. It was needed in France, to restrain the rapacity and curtail the overgrown power of feudal nobles, whose cabals and treasons were fatal to the interests of law and order.
The assassination of Henry IV. was a great calamity. The government fell into the hands of his widow, Marie de Medicis, a weak and frivolous woman. Under her regency all kinds of evils accumulated. So many conflicting interests and animosities existed that there was little short of anarchy. There were not popular insurrections and rebellions, for the people were ignorant, and were in bondage to their feudal masters; but the kingdom was rent by the rivalries and intrigues of the great nobles, who, no longer living in their isolated castles but in the precincts of the court, fought duels in the streets, plundered the royal treasury, robbed jewellers and coachmakers,