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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 92 pages of information about History of France.
There was a fresh struggle for power between the queen-mother and the Prince of Conde, ending in both being set aside by the queen’s almoner, Armand de Richelieu, Bishop of Lucon, and afterwards a cardinal, the ablest statesman then in Europe, who gained complete dominion over the king and country, and ruled them both with a rod of iron.  The Huguenots were gradually driven out of all their strongholds, till only Rochelle remained to them.  This city was bravely and patiently defended by the magistrates and the Duke of Rohan, with hopes of succour from England, until these being disconcerted by the murder of the Duke of Buckingham, they were forced to surrender, after having held out for more than a year.  Louis XIII. entered in triumph, deprived the city of all its privileges, and thus in 1628 concluded the war that had begun by the attack of the Guisards on the congregation at Vassy, in 1561.  The lives and properties of the Huguenots were still secure, but all favour was closed against them, and every encouragement held out to them to join the Church.  Many of the worst scandals had been removed, and the clergy were much improved; and, from whatever motive it might be, many of the more influential Huguenots began to conform to the State religion.

CHAPTER VI.

POWER OF THE CROWN.

1.  Richelieu’s Administration.—­Cardinal de Richelieu’s whole idea of statesmanship consisted in making the King of France the greatest of princes at home and abroad.  To make anything great of Louis XIII., who was feeble alike in mind and body, was beyond any one’s power, and Richelieu kept him in absolute subjection, allowing him a favourite with whom to hunt, talk, and amuse himself, but if the friend attempted to rouse the king to shake off the yoke, crushing him ruthlessly.  It was the crown rather than the king that the cardinal exalted, putting down whatever resisted.  Gaston, Duke of Orleans, the king’s only brother, made a futile struggle for power, and freedom of choice in marriage, but was soon overcome.  He was spared, as being the only heir to the kingdom, but the Duke of Montmorency, who had been led into his rebellion, was brought to the block, amid the pity and terror of all France.  Whoever seemed dangerous to the State, or showed any spirit of independence, was marked by the cardinal, and suffered a hopeless imprisonment, if nothing worse; but at the same time his government was intelligent and able, and promoted prosperity, as far as was possible where there was such a crushing of individual spirit and enterprise.  Richelieu’s plan, in fact, was to found a despotism, though a wise and well-ordered despotism, at home, while he made France great by conquests abroad.  And at this time the ambition of France found a favourable field in the state both of Germany and of Spain.

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