1636: The Cardinal Virtues – Snippet 33

1636: The Cardinal Virtues – Snippet 33

“Ed,” Rebecca said. “Are you trying to tell me that in your so clever up-time world there were people who believed that someone who was dead was secretly alive? A popular figure, an — an entertainer — had somehow made up his own death?”

“You’d be amazed what things people believed up-time.”

“I guess I would. So . . . you think that Cardinal Richelieu is dead and people think he is still alive.”

“Or he is alive, and is content to have people think that he is dead.”

“People like Monsieur Gaston,” Rebecca said. “I have met Richelieu. He’s a brilliant man, Ed: one of the most perceptive men I’ve ever met — and quite charming, too. Even cut off from his base of power, he would be a formidable enemy. If he is still alive, he is Gaston’s enemy. As is the queen, wherever she is.”

“Our ambassador in Paris said that there’s a rumor at court that she’s gone back to Spain with the baby,” Ed said. “I don’t believe it, but it’s the sort of thing that would be put about to discredit her.”

“By Gaston’s people.”

“No doubt. So if she’s not in Spain — and not in Paris — then where is she? And where is Richelieu?”

“You mean, ‘Elvis.'”

“Yeah. Elvis in a red robe.” He smiled. “Well, considering some of the stuff he was wearing at the end of his career, it wouldn’t be too far off. It would have to be covered with sequins, though.”

Auxerre, France

“Look at the happy family reunion,” Artemisio said, looking out the window at the group at the edge of the trees that bordered the courtyard, sheltering from the rain.

“His brothers?” Terrye Jo pointed down at the three men.

“Donna Teresa!” He pulled on her arm. “Attento.” He gestured, and she squatted down, below the level of the window.

They were in the loft of the almoner’s house of Saint-Germain d’Auxerre, looking over the inner courtyard. Monsieur Gaston had been installed at the bishop’s palace, and most of them remained there, while Gaston and his gentlemen-in-waiting had come here. To view the frescoes, he had said to his wife before departing.

Terrye Jo would have been just as happy to stay and read, but Artemisio Logiani — who had somehow attached himself to Monsieur Gaston’s party as a household servant — was determined to follow along, and begged her to come with him.

If the frescoes are beautiful enough to be viewed by a prince, Donna, he had said to her, then I must compare them to your loveliness.

Which somehow, impossibly, had led to their present location. While they were walking around the edge of the courtyard, trying to keep dry, a party of horsemen had arrived at the porter’s gate. Artemisio had pulled her aside into the almoner’s house, and they had made their way to the upper floor.

“A bird’s eye view,” he had said.

“Of what?”

“We shall see.”

But not be seen, she thought now, wondering if she’d been pulled into a Mark Twain adventure. Hell, she added: the whole freakin’ seventeenth century is a Mark Twain adventure.

“His brother and his father,” Artemisio said. “Interesting.”


“Monsieur François de Vendôme’s brother Louis, and his father the duke, César, are exiled from the realm. His Majesty the king — ” and here Artemisio stopped and crossed himself, looking toward heaven like a side character in a Renaissance painting — “sent the duke away for conspiring. Well, actually, Cardinal Richelieu did it, but that’s the same thing. And now here he is, with his two sons. Who knows what they’re here for.”

“But this is what you came to see, isn’t it, Artemisio?”

“Well,” he answered, “not necessarily this, Donna. I didn’t know what it was about, but I heard . . . you know how servants talk . . .”

“I certainly do.”

“Well, I heard that something big and important was going to happen when we got to Auxerre. And here we are, and here it is.” He peeked very carefully over the sill, and Terrye Jo did likewise.

The three men — clearly François: she could clearly make out his features; and two others, one young and one older — seemed very happy to be together. The older one, the duke, was speaking to his two sons. He paused for just a moment and looked around, as if he was trying to determine if he was being spied upon.

Terrye Jo and Artemisio ducked back down.

“What do you think this big and important thing might be?”

“Well, you know,” Artemisio said. “It’s all above me. But if I were to guess, I’d say that the duke is here to pledge allegiance to Monsieur Gaston — and get a pardon.”


“Father,” François said quietly as they walked slowly down the stairs to the crypt. “This is a perfect place for Gaston to betray us.”

“Yes,” César de Vendôme said. “It is.” He did not look away, but continued to stare straight ahead, walking slowly down the stairs. “But he would not go to all this trouble — at least at this point — to do so. He still needs us.”

By now, several weeks after he received the ball fired from Richelieu’s pistol, the duke’s injury had completely healed. As was often true with head wounds, it had initially looked much worse than it really was. His son Louis, on the other hand, was still recovering from the great gash in his side left by the king’s sword. He was lucky to have survived at all.

“For what does he need us?”

The duke shook his head. “I am not sure. But there is still something.”

“I am not sure either — ”

César stopped walking and turned to his son. He leaned close, so that their escorts could not easily hear.

“Do you trust me, my son?”

“Of course. With my life, Father. You know that.”

“Then you must rely on my judgment. Now and in the near future. Gaston d’Orleans has already betrayed me after a fashion. It is now our task to make sure that when he pulls the noose tight, his own neck is caught in it as well.”

François was accustomed to his father’s stern gaze: it was how he always pictured him — proud, noble, with a hint of scarcely-concealed anger. This expression was different in a way: totally serious, focused, intense.

“I will do whatever you ask.”

“Then I ask now that you do nothing. And say nothing. I want you to remember that our time will come, François.”

“I understand.”

César stood straight, and they began to descend once more.

In the abbey of Saint Germain d’Auxerre, beneath the frescoes in the crypt, the brothers had placed the sub-prior’s chair on a small platform. It was something short of a throne, but was sufficiently elevated above the floor that it gave the appropriate separation that the prince desired.

The Vendôme men walked through the open area and between a pair of tall support pillars, looking straight ahead at Gaston d’Orleans, presumptive king of France. César did not spend a moment of attention on anything other than the figure of his half-brother.

He acts as if it is a throne, he thought to himself. Though Louis would not have received me thus if I had returned to court.

He put the thought from his mind: he leashed his anger and curbed his desire to draw his sword. The gentlemen in waiting radiated hostility: it was if they found his presence an affront.

He is not the king, César thought to himself. He wishes to be. He may be. But not yet.

He stopped a few paces from the dais and made a leg. François, a step behind, did the same. Not a deep obeisance, but a mark of respect rather than homage.


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28 Responses to 1636: The Cardinal Virtues – Snippet 33

  1. Randomiser says:

    OK. So who is Artemisio working for? And is his interest in Terry personal or just professional?

    • Ed Thomas says:

      Both, with the professional outweighing the personal. My SWAG is Nasi but it could also be the Cardinal. Gaston’s sister’s is an obvious place for either to plant a agent to keep track of Gaston. Getting, and staying, close to the radio operator makes good sense for an agent of either party. A bonus for Artemisio would be to have said radio operator be an attractive and mysterious up-timer.

  2. Cobbler says:

    They can just walk into an almonry? Nonsense.

    The places in a monastery that are locked and warded include the buttery, the almonry, the cellarers, the kitchen. Any place where monks could sneak food and/or drink.

  3. Lyttenstadt says:

    By now, several weeks after he received the ball fired from Richelieu’s pistol, the duke’s injury had completely healed… His son Louis, on the other hand, was still recovering from the great gash in his side left by the king’s sword. He was lucky to have survived at all.

    It’s been several (lets assume – three) weeks since the death of king of France. Three weeks. And while “His Royal Highness” Gaston learned about that nearly immedeatley, he, after so many days, is only now approaching Paris.

    Le sigh

    So much time wasted be all sides of this potential civil war…

    • Cobbler says:

      Yes, Gaston is frittering his chances away. On the other hand…

      We may confuse Richelieu with Charlton Heston. We may not confuse Richelieu with John Wayne. You don’t take a bullet to the gut, have the sawbones pull the lead, saddle Old Paint, and ride into the sunset.

      I can’t hold the Cardinal’s late start against him. Against necessity, Richelieu himself contends in vain.

      • daveo says:

        That assumes that Richelieu is still alive. So far there’s no information on that point.

      • Lyttenstadt says:

        Richilieu has/had agents and creatures of his own throughout France. Now, imagine what they are feeling right now. Most of them are high ranking nobles, but a lowly noblesse de robe, sometimes only a little better than commoners. They prospects look especially grim, if someone known for his hatred to Good Cardinal (like, I dunno – Gaston) and the huge sympathy to the “natural feudal order” (ditto) ascends the throne of France.

        Even in his current state Richeileu could still set in motion one or two contingency plans, by sending letters and instructions to most trusted servants and agents. Nothing, absolutely nothing prevented him from dispatchin a team of assassins after Gaston with order to kill the bastard the moment he crosses the French border.

        And if not Richelieu, who might be dead or too incapacited by now, then Mazarini can do the same. Given they not so bright prospects in the nearest future under Gaston, most of Richelieu’s agents and creatures would gladly help him.

        • Cobbler says:

          For all we know that’s exactly what His Grace is doing. Probably with instructions to act in silence.

          Does Richelieu have assassins to send? He may, he may not. Can he convince Turenne to send a team? He might, he might not. A failed assignation attempt might renew the Cardinal hunt. It will be a while before Richelieu is in shape to ride for the hills.

          It may be politic For Richelieu to stay dead. Then stage the Big Reveal in some public place. Say a renewed Estates General, or a Royal Coronation. With evidence in hard and an army at his back. “Behold! I’m not really dead! The Prince is the King Killer!”

  4. Terranovan says:

    Huh. So one of Gaston’s subordinates has realized that he has almost no downward loyalty – and is ready to betray him. I wonder how he’ll make sure that it costs Gaston, and what it (doesn’t) get him in return.

    • Cobbler says:

      One the one hand, the idiot who betrays his allies.

      On the other, Queen and the Cardinal with a regicide to punish.

      The de Vendôme boys are stuck between a block and a hard place.

      • vikingted says:

        I was figuring you meant block as in the one the Headsman used.

        • Cobbler says:

          That would be between the block and a sharp place.

          I fear that’s the fate of many, on whichever side loses.

          • stewart says:

            But the guillotine is so much “cleaner” than an axe (less splatter).

            — Stewart

            • Vikingted says:

              I had not heard anyone re-invented this yet, but probably know by the various researchers.

              • Cobbler says:

                The Scottish Maiden and the Halifax Death Machine have been lopping heads since the sixteenth century. Execution for theft by the Halifax Gibbet was forbidden by somebody named Cromwell. In France at this time, they broke criminals on the wheel.

                The guillotine’s construction was similar to the English and Scottish devices. The only improvement was the slanting cutting edge.

  5. gahrie says:

    I’ve never understood why Gaston wasn’t sent to rule the North American territories as a viceroy, with an arrangement similar to that given Champlain. Now Gaston would be smart enough to try and refuse it….

  6. Ed Thomas says:

    “Gaston d’Orleans has already betrayed me after a fashion.” Might this refer to having used him to attack the Cardinal? The unintended death of the King makes the duke a far better, if unexpected, scapegoat. Is there some other action he might be considering as a betrayal by Monseuir?

    • Drak Bibliophile says:

      IMO he considers the death of the King a betrayal.

      He wanted to kill the Cardinal but it is already “canon” that he would have avoided the attack if he knew the King was present and Gaston *knew* it.

      So he sees Gaston tricking him into an attack that he would avoided because of the risk of killing the King.

      Remember that the King was willing to engage in fighting and would very likely have done so even if he wasn’t dressed in the uniform of the Cardinal’s Guard.

      It would be very very hard to avoid killing somebody if he was trying to kill you which the King would have been trying to do.

      • Cobbler says:

        The cream of the jest is that—for once—Gaston hasn’t betrayed anybody. He could not have sent duc de Vendôme to kill the king. He had no idea the king was in that party. Nobody did. It was a royal whim.

        • Drak Bibliophile says:

          And I goofed. Some of what I posted is from the next snippet.

        • Stewart says:

          Law of Unintended Consequences.

          He at least sent Vendome as a brigand to assault “a traveling party”.
          When a Drive-By gang-banger has a case of “mistaken identity”, the innocent victim, whether 5 or 35 is still shot by the gang-banger. These circumstances are similar. Louis was killed by Vendome’s hand, which had been hired by Gaston.

          — Stewart

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