1636: The Cardinal Virtues – Snippet 01

1636: The Cardinal Virtues – Snippet 01

1636: The Cardinal Virtues

Eric Flint and Walter H. Hunt


Chapter 1

Late July, 1635

Outside of Paris, France

The need for secrecy was constant. No one believed that more strongly than Armand-Jean du Plessis, Cardinal-Duke de Richelieu, Principal Minister to His Most Christian Majesty Louis XIII, king of France. Within the palace of the Louvre as well as at his own residence, the Palais-Cardinal, secrets were guarded most jealously. They were a valuable commodity, esteemed by the cardinal and protected by those who surrounded him — those particular to the crown and those plucked from other nations.

However, the secret now contemplated was too sensitive even for those protected within the halls of king and cardinal; an even more private venue was required. Thus it was that when the king of France rode to the hunt on a sultry, humid July morning, his entourage included his minister astride a fine horse, riding at his side.

The courtiers and servants gossiped about it among themselves — quietly, of course, out of the sight and hearing of their betters. Whenever the searching glance of Cardinal Richelieu settled upon them they fell silent and avoided his eyes.

For his part, King Louis — always at greater ease on the hunt than at court — was pleased to have his minister by his side. Those usually accorded the privilege of taking up the position had to remain at a respectful distance.

The morning was not productive, the hounds and beaters flushing only inferior prey: a few rabbits and foxes, nothing worthy of His Majesty’s attention. But it was the hunt itself and not the results that pleased the king. Toward midday Louis called a halt. The royal stewards began the process of laying out a repast for the gently-born in a beautiful clearing, while grooms attended to their mounts.

Minister and king walked away from the crowd, seeming to enjoy the scenery. But far from the court and away from prying ears, their conversation turned to more serious manners.

“I trust all is in — in readiness,” the king said.

“I am pleased to say that it is, Majesty. We have secured the Château de Baronville in Beville-le-Comte for the queen’s use during her seclusion; and I have engaged the services of an up-timer physician.”

“Is he anyone I know?”

She, Majesty. And no, I do not believe that you are acquainted with her. She is a distant relative of the Masaniello family.”

“The Steam Engine people.”

“Exactly, Sire. She has put certain up-timer protocols into practice that have caused marked improvement in the health of the technical center employees. The queen will be in good hands.”

“Their midwives qualify as physicians also?”

“Up-timers,” Richelieu said in response, as if that was sufficient explanation.

“Is my lady wife prepared?”

Richelieu permitted himself the slightest smile. “I daresay that her work does not come until somewhat later. The other participant in the event is ready to do his duty, however. He will be at the Château Fontainebleau, where you and Queen Anne will be making a progress.”


“Whenever you are ready, Sire, but if I may suggest that the Feast of Saint Louis — the twenty-fifth of August — might be a propitious occasion.”

“Our noble ancestor and namesake. We can hear Mass and wave royally. At least it’s less unpleasant than Saint Denis. The sight of some peasant dressed as the saint, carrying a plaster head under his arm, always disturbed me.”

“As Your Majesty says,” Richelieu said. “The people will enjoy being reminded of the divinity of kingship.”

Louis shrugged. “As you say. So — the Feast of Saint Louis it is. You will inform Queen Anne that we shall progress to Fontainebleau. But . . . why not, why not simply complete the matter at Baronville?”

“Ah.” Richelieu removed a speck of dust from his soutane. “I would think, Sire, that we would prefer the location to remain secret, to be used when Her Majesty is more advanced in her pregnancy. There is no reason to reveal it sooner.”

“Yes. Quite — quite correct. You have been most thorough, Monseigneur.”

“I thank you, Sire.” Richelieu inclined his head. “I seek only to serve; and in this instance I wish to leave nothing to chance.”

“Nothing . . . other than the occasion itself. And that is in the hands of God.” He crossed himself and looked upward.

Richelieu followed the gesture, but refrained to mention to the king the many methods the up-timers knew about to help assure success.

“God will smile upon France, I am certain,” he said after a moment.


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16 Responses to 1636: The Cardinal Virtues – Snippet 01

  1. Phil Tran says:

    Is this the part where I scream in excitement like a little girl?
    I’m surprised it’s starting after the queen got pregnant. I have
    great hopes and can’t wait to buy the book.

  2. Randomiser says:

    Well, is the queen pregnant already? What are they going to do on the feast of St Louis? What duty is ‘the other party involved’ ready to do? What occasion is in the hands of God? In what do the uptimers have ‘so many methods’ to help assure success? Loads of excellent teasers for the opening of a book!

    • Lyttenstadt says:

      Mazarini gonna boink Anna (with Louis and Richellie total consent). Then, next month, the king will “join” his queen for some time to keep the pretense that the child is from him. Uptimers are here fo helth consideration, to monitor queen’s pregnancy.

    • Cobbler says:

      Mazarini and the Queen were set up in a story called, Lucky at Cards. You can find it in Ring of Fire II.

  3. Lyttenstadt says:

    Sooooo… “the other participant” is Mazarini?

    • Joe says:

      The author has spoken at times in the past about the intriguing speculation that Mazarini was the father of Louis XIV. It’s a nicely salacious twist. And since the King’s only interest in the matter is to keep his brother off of the throne, for the good of France, he is fully on board.

      • marcel says:

        Anne of Austria was mostly known for several stillborn children and a general incapability to conceive. The fact that Louis preferred other women didn’t help.
        If I recall correctly, her many failed pregnancies caused the fashion of fake bellies in women’s dress at the time.

        That should be a useful pointer about the subject of the book, or do I miss the point, Mr Flint?

  4. DarylS says:

    Logging on & finding this feels somewhat like winning a lottery.

  5. Terranovan says:

    Yaaayyy!!!!! More 1632verse! If the queen’s already pregnant, then the only thing they could be scheduling for the feast of St. Louis is an induced labor (drugs for that will be rare at best, quite expensive, and more likely unavailable) or a C-section (a lot trickier and riskier [risking either her death or future complications for her ability to have another child] than a natural childbirth). It’s probably the conception that’s being scheduled.

    • Tweeky says:

      And no doubt one of the future snippets will feature both Mazzarini and the Queen getting it on, discretely of course;).

    • Grafa says:

      I think that It looks like a turkey baster type of event ;) followed in a fortnight by an announcement (in the Feast of Saint Louis day??) that “today the king and the queen will perform their matrimonial duties….”

      Remember, the birth of the heir to the throne has to happen in front of witnesses (grand nobles of the court), not in a secure and secluded space,
      The goal is that the lineage of the baby heir has to be bullet, errr…. volley proof, in order to negate all other claims by Mounsieur G.

  6. Krishna1234 says:

    Ah ha the French civil war is about to be born whoope!!!! I predict that the three musketeers will back the bar-steward rather than the Spanish toad lol!!! Finally a snippet I want to read!!

    • Tweeky says:

      I’m wondering when Monsieur Gaston is going to make his appearance and when Louis XIII and Richelieu will be offed.

  7. Bryan says:

    I’ve been waiting for “A Parcel of Rogues” for years, Can I pre-order now?

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