THE PRINCE OF CONDÉ TAKEN PRISONER
 THE Dauphin Francis was only fifteen years of age at
his father's death. He was
already, as you know, married to Mary, Queen of Scots.
By the wish of the queen-mother, Catherine de Medici,
the young king, Francis II.,
chose his uncles, the Duke of Guise and Cardinal Guise,
to rule his kingdom until he
was able to govern himself.
The Constable de Montmorency and Diana of Poitiers. who
had had so much influence
with Henry II., were dismissed from the court, where
the Guises, with the
queenmother, were now all-powerful.
Those who were Roman Catholics were pleased that the
young king had chosen the
Guises to rule. They believed the brothers were
"called of God" to preserve the
Catholic religion in France.
But among the Huguenots, as the Reformers now began to
be named from a German word
meaning "partners in an oath or covenant," "there was
nothing but fear and trembling" at the name of Guise. For well the Huguenots knew
that the duke and his brother
the cardinal were their bitter enemies.
The Reformers had increased in numbers during the reign
of Henry II., and many nobles
and great soldiers had embraced the new faith.
Among their leaders the Huguenots could even count a
descendant of St. Louis, the
King of Navarre. It is true that the King of Navarre
was apt to waver between the
 two parties; but his wife, Jeaime d'Albret, was
heart and soul with the
Reformers; and her little son. Henry of Navarre, Prince
of Béarn, was brought up in
The King of Navarre's brothers, too, Cardinal Bourbon
and Louis, Prince of Condé,
were also on the side of the Huguenots; while, above
them all, for his courage, his
steadfastness, his unfaltering faith, stood Admiral
Until now the Huguenots had been denounced as heretics,
but the Duke of Guise
condemned them also as rebels against the king. They
were forbidden to meet together
for prayer, spies being sent all over the country to
find out any who disobeyed.
In many villages and towns the Huguenots went as usual
to their meeting-places to
pray, to sing, to listen to their preachers, and it was
easy for the spies to find
them out and report them to the Guises.
A little later bands of soldiers would suddenly break
into these quiet assemblies,
and seize the worshippers. Their houses would be
sacked, their children left to
starve; while the men and women themselves were
tortured, and then killed or
banished from the land.
There was no doubt in the minds of the Huguenots that
all their sufferings were due
to the Guises, and they longed to avenge themselves.
Their chiefs met together, some
advising war; others, Coligny among them, believing
that it would be well still to
wait before taking up arms.
In February 1560 an assembly of nobles and burghers of
France met together, and
resolved that while they would not harm their young
king, they would imprison the
Guises, who were persecuting "those of the Religion,"as the Huguenots were often
called, and also doing what they could to crush all
other nobles save themselves.
At the head of the conspiracy was the Prince of Condé,
he being chosen rather than
his brother, the King of Navarre; for Condé was brave
and determined, while the king
"whatever his thought to-day would repent of it
 The prince's share in the plot was to be kept
secret until June, when the
attack upon the Guises was to take place. Meanwhile
Condé was known as the "Mute
But before the month of June the plot was discovered;
and Guise, fearing lest the
conspirators should try to seize the young king,
removed him to a castle at Amboise,
which was at once strongly guarded.
Catherine de Medici now sent for Coligny, he being a
known leader of the Huguenots,
to consult him as to what should be done.
The admiral obeyed the summons and went to Amboise,
taking with him d'Andelot, his
brother. Louis, Prince of Condé, whose secret had not
been disclosed, also went to
the castle to disarm suspicion. He was, however,
received coldly, while the Duke of
Guise, having no pretext for imprisoning the prince,
appointed him captain over the
guards at one of the castle gates. There Condé would at
least be under his eye.
Left without their leaders, the other conspirators
trooped into the woods around
Amboise, and succeeded in sending a message to Francis
II., telling him that it was
the Guises who were the cause of all the trouble in the
kingdom, and begging him to
send them away.
The Duke of Guise was very angry when he found that his
enemies had reached the king.
As for Francis, he was perplexed by the disturbances in
his kingdom, and more than
once he said pitifully to his uncles, "I don't know how
it is, but I hear it said
that people are against you only. I wish you could be
away from here for a time,
that we might see whether it is you or I that they are
But the Guises did not mean to go away. Instead, they
cruelly duped the young king,
telling him that neither he nor his brothers would live
an hour if they left; for
the Bourbons, that is, the King of Navarre and his two
brothers, wished to kill
them, that they might themselves ascend
throne. They made their niece,
Mary Stuart, whisper the same things in her husband's
Francis was young and weak. Whether he believed his
uncles or no, he said no more;
while they, sure of their power, used it yet most
For a whole month the Huguenots were cruelly
persecuted, the Guises forcing the king
and his brothers to watch from the palace window while
they were tortured, beheaded,
Cardinal Guise would even point out to the boy some
poor prisoner who was suffering
with unusual bravery, not to admire his courage, but to
say, "See how bold and mad
they are; the fear of death cannot abate their pride.
What would they do if they had
you in their clutches?"
Throughout the country the indignation against the
Guises grew by leaps and bounds.
Even their mother could bear the sight of her sons'
cruelty no longer. She left the
castle of Amboise, saying to Catherine de Medici as she
left, "Ah, madame, what a
whirlwind of hatred is gathering about the heads of my
But the duke was not satisfied with his vengeance on
the crowd. He wished to wreak
his anger on the chiefs of the Huguenots.
He therefore summoned the King of Navarre and the
Prince of Condé to attend a
meeting of the States-General, or, as we would say,
In vain the friends of the Bourbons begged them not to
go where their enemies were
numerous. Both the king and his brother resolved to
attend the meeting.
They arrived at Orleans, where the States-General was
to be held, and their
reception was cold enough to warn them of danger.
"Not one of the crown princes came to receive them. The
streets were deserted,
silent, and occupied by a military guard.
The King of Navarre, as was usual, presented himself
 on horseback at the great
gate of the royal abode. It remained closed. He had to
pocket the insult and pass on
foot through the wicket, between a double row of gentle
men, who looked at him with
an air of insolence. The kina awaited the princes in
his chamber; behind him were
ranged the Guises and the principal lords; not a word,
not a salutation on their
Francis at once led the two Bourbons to the
queen-mother, and in her presence
sharply questioned the Prince of Condé about his share
in the plot.
Condé, brave and cool in the face of danger, said that
he was innocent of all of
which his enemies accused him and reminded the king
that he had given his word of
honour that no harm should befall him at the assembly.
But Francis interrupted the
prince, making a sign to two captains of the guards,
who at once stepped forward and
took Condé's sword. He was then led to prison and shut
up alone the King of Navarre
being sharply refused when he asked to be allowed to
guard his brother.
The prince's trial was begun at once, the Guises
wishing to be rid of their
dangerous enemy. He was condemned to death, but one,
some say three, of his judges
refused to sign the death-warrant. So the prince was
kept in prison expecting every
day to be led out to execution.
Thinking to get rid of the house of Bourbon altogether
the Guises now determined
that the King of Navarre should die
They arranged that he should have an interview with the
king, who would accuse him
of helping his brother to plot against the throne.
If the King of Navarre declared that he was innocent
Francis himself was to strike
him; or he was to give a sign, and men hidden behind a
curtain for this very purpose
were to put him to death.
But, "when Francis II. looked into the eyes of the man
he was to strike, his fierce
resolve died away, and the King of Navarre retired,
safe and sound, from the
 The Duke of Guise was furious that his enemy had
escaped, and muttered
wrathfully of Francis, " 'Tis the very most cowardly
king that ever was."
Then, just when the Guises were most secure, an
unforeseen blow struck the power
from their hands.
Francis took suddenly ill. For three or four days the
quarrel between the Guises and
the Huguenots was pushed aside, for the king's life
hung on a thread.
In December 1560, after having reigned eighteen months,
Francis II. died. The King of
Navarre and the Prince of Condé were saved.