1636: The Cardinal Virtues – Snippet 47

1636: The Cardinal Virtues – Snippet 47

“Are you threatening me, Your Majesty?”

Gaston scowled. “Why do people keep saying that? His Holiness confers the office of Archbishop, Your Grace, but the king of France has something to do with the process. And with the current difficulty attending Pope Urban, I can assure you that I will have a great deal to do with it. A great deal.”

Gondi looked at Gaston, aghast. “You are not king of France yet, Sire, and I will have a great deal to do with the placement of the crown on your head.”

“And now you threaten me, Your Grace. You have no idea what is happening here.” He lowered his voice. “You will know very soon. And if you have any notion regarding the coronation, I suggest that you lay it aside. Permanently. Do you understand?”

“Sire –”

Do you understand, Your Grace? Do you completely understand me?”

“Every word, Sire.”

“I will keep you to that, my lord Archbishop. Now, if you will excuse me, I must mourn my brother and our king.”

Evreux

The Auberge Écossaise was a few hundred yards from the cathedral, at the end of a cul-de-sac in sight of the plâce. The carriage gate was ajar and opened as they approached; Mazarin and Achille looked at each other, but it was obvious that they had been observed.

Achille stepped down from the driver’s bench, his hand near his sword. A short paunchy man in a Capuchin habit emerged from a door opposite; he glanced at Achille and held his hands up.

Mazarin climbed down and walked to the carriage gate and closed it.

“We have been expecting you,” the Capuchin said. “Monseigneur Mazarin?”

“Your servant,” Mazarin said, walking back toward the monk. “I am Jules Mazarin.”

“Her Majesty is –”

Mazarin nodded toward the carriage.

“Convey my compliments, if you please,” the monk said. “But with respect, we should get inside.”

****

Brother Gérard bustled around the little pantry, placing mugs and plates. A loaf of bread and a quarter-wheel of cheese appeared from somewhere. Queen Anne sat in an armchair with the baby in her lap, watching, bemused. The others sat around the trestle table, staying out of the way.

“I had expected you to arrive two days ago,” Gérard said, placing a crock of butter on the table along with a half-dozen spoons.

“We were unaccountably delayed, Brother,” the queen said. “But you come highly recommended.”

Gérard began to cut slices of bread. “I accept the compliment with humility.”

“It is occupational, I assume,” Mazarin said. “Actually, it was our friend Achille who recommended you.”

“Of course,” Gérard said. He began to sit down, hesitated with a glance at the queen and then shrugged and sat. “He is a confraternatarius.”

Mazarin looked directly at Achille. “Truly.”

Queen Anne looked up. “Of what fraternity, Brother?”

“I . . .” the monk looked flustered. “I thought you were aware.”

“Perhaps you can enlighten us,” Mazarin said. He had not taken his eyes off Achille.

Brother Gérard picked up a slice of bread and looked at it, then put it down. “I fear I may have already said too much. Clearly the cardinal de Tremblay would have told you if he meant you to know.”

“Cardinal de Tremblay?” the queen asked. “What does — what does Père Joseph have to do with this?”

“A great deal. He sent word that you would be coming, and that Monsieur Achille, here, would be escorting you.”

“It seems to have been arranged quite some time ago,” Mazarin said. “Months ago. A plan has been in place — a plan of which I was completely unaware,” he said with a nod to Anne — “to protect Your Majesty. It is apparently led by the shy and retiring cardinal in pectore.”

“Not led,” Gérard said. “But he is a principal part of the Company of the Blessed Sacrament. For the last several years, the Company has had as its particular charge the protection of the royal family of France.”

“The king and queen,” Mazarin said. “One failure, one success.”

Gérard looked away. “Yes. I know.”

“Brother Gérard,” Anne said after a moment. “I do not hold you responsible for the death of my husband the king. There is one particular person to blame: César de Vendôme. My brother-in-law killed — ” she looked away from the Capuchin and down at her son, who was whimpering and reaching for her. “He . . . Vendôme. The duc de Vendôme is the culprit.”

“And we could not prevent it,” Gérard said. “We are in a state of mourning, Majesty. It is difficult for us to bear that we have lost the king whom we had sworn to protect.” He looked at the queen, almost desperately. “We will not fail you.”

“I am confident that you will not,” Anne said. “I am grateful for your loyalty.”

“It is our duty,” Gérard said. “And there are many of us. When you leave here you will travel to another place where another of our Company will receive you. We will continue to do so as long as you are in danger.”

“That would make our progress easier,” Mazarin said. He still had not taken his eyes off Achille. “Still, with the stakes so high, I would have liked it better if I had been informed of this plan.”

“Monseigneur,” Gérard said. “With the stakes so high, it is far more important that you not be informed . . . until absolutely necessary.”

Madrid

Gaspar de Guzmán, Count-Duke of Olivares, was singularly unhappy with the news that the informants had brought. They confirmed so many of his worst fears: that a substantial force had been moved to just north of the Pyrenees; that the level of skill and capability of French arms — with the help of the devil-spawn up-timers — was far more powerful than he had realized; and that, despite Mirabel’s assurances, Gaston of France was nowhere near as pliable as he had been led to believe. Not to mention that the finest scouts he had been able to employ were either incompetent or very badly outclassed.

He looked at the object sitting on his desk — the sole of a military officer’s boot. The heel was partially separated, as if it had been twisted off. He wondered, once again, who might have once worn this particular boot — which of the hand-picked men sent over the mountains to scout possible routes for Spanish troops. He had picked it at random from a sack that had been left with a tavern-keeper at St. Jean-Pied-de-Port, at an establishment where men with tidbits of intelligence could pass them to one of his operatives.

He had long assumed that the French knew of this drop — but had left it untouched for the same reason he continued to use it: that such a conduit’s existence benefited them as well as Spain. They might even know the identity of his man on site.

It was unclear to him at that moment just how he was going to explain all of this to his royal master. Philip was not always given to cool and measured reason — which, Olivares thought, was his prerogative. Still, with the Borja mess and the disagreeable situation in the Lowlands and the business last year in Mallorca . . . only with the upturn of Spanish fortunes in France had he received any indication that the Lord God on high still smiled upon his country.

But one tidbit of information from one particular informant had offered Olivares a ray of hope.

Gaston, with his cleverness and his guile, had overturned the balance of power in the kingdom of France — and would soon sit upon its throne. Richelieu was dead, though there were rumours . . . but there were always rumors. But he had somehow lost track of his sister-in-law Anne, child of Spain and sister of Olivares’ king: it was even said that he had insinuated that she was somehow responsible for her husband’s death. He had no idea where she was.

But Olivares knew. Thanks to the Capuchin, he knew. It was a piece on the board that Olivares controlled.

And at the proper moment, he would move it against the new king of France.

 

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23 Responses to 1636: The Cardinal Virtues – Snippet 47

  1. Lyttenstadt says:

    But Olivares knew. Thanks to the Capuchin, he knew. It was a piece on the board that Olivares controlled.

    Could it be… that this novel is still salvageble?!

  2. Stanley Leghorn says:

    Another nobel idiot plotting to restore the past. I hope the gang that claims to be protecting the Queen is not working for him, otherwise Louie the most recent will be dodging bullets in his cradle.

  3. daveo says:

    Olivares seems to be more up-to-date than possible, if he does not have a radio. It was established in a previous novel, the Spanish did not.

    • Drak Bibliophile says:

      IIRC there’s nothing from his point of view that says he doesn’t have one now. He seems to be the type of guy that would have one and not tell his King.

      • Lyttenstadt says:

        Madrid, capital of Spain
        There was no reaction to Mike Stearns’ radio messages in the court of Spain.
        They had no radio. They wouldn’t receive the news for days yet.

        From the book “1636: Saxon Uprising”. By, uhm… What’s his name? Oh, yeah – by ERIC FLINT himself.

        • Drak Bibliophile says:

          Why do you think I said “now”?

          There’s been enough time since Saxon Uprising (in universe) that Olivares could have gotten one.

          • Lyttenstadt says:

            From the late February (battle of Dresden February 26, 1636) to mid May, 1636?

            • Cobbler says:

              Buy one in Venice. Quick march across the boot. Send it to Spain on a fast courier.

              Plenty of time.

              • Terranovan says:

                I’m fairly certain we can take Lyttenstadt’s word for the timing of these two events in-universe, and with those, 2 1/2 months seems excessively fast – not to get one to Madrid, but for Olivares to change his mind about uptime technology.
                I don’t doubt that the express shipping you’ve laid out is possible, but why would he spring for the expense? What’s the rush? We haven’t seen an event to change his mind and/or motivate him.

                Although he might have been motivated before the events we’ve just seen by events offstage and/or had one ordered shipped by slower events – possibly even before the Battle of Dresden, as long as it didn’t arrive in Madrid in time to deliver the news of Dresden.

              • Terranovan says:

                Oops – apologies for the wall of text!

              • Lyttenstadt says:

                Well, at least reading these snippets made me re-read Saxon Uprising. Which I did with great pleaseure, as I did for the first time.

                I stay corrected. There is much later quote (mid March, 1636), about the epcoming metteting between Gustav Adolf and Mike Stearns, returning from Dresden:

                Madrid, capital of Spain
                There was no reaction to the upcoming meeting in the court of Spain.
                They had no radio. They wouldn’t receive the news for days yet.

                So… 2 Months.

  4. Curtis says:

    A possible red herring? Just because Olivares said “Thanks to the Capuchin” does not mean that the Capuchin in Evreux is the same Capuchin Olivares speaks of. There are many Friars belonging to the order of the Friars Minor. Just a thought I could be wrong.

    St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) founded the Order of the Friars Minor (the Lesser Brethren or Little Brothers). After his death (and ever since) there have been many reforms breaking the Order into different groups. In 1897, Pope Leo XIII regrouped the Friars Minor into three branches:

    1. The Order of Friars Minor of the Leonine Union
    2. The Order of Friars Minor Conventual
    3. The Order of Friars Minor Capuchin

    The Conventuals and the Capuchins were already in existence but the Friars Minor of the Leonine Union were brought together from smaller groups; they are also called quite simply “The Order of Friars Minor”, “Observants” or “Franciscans”. All three Orders are truly Franciscan; they all follow the Rule of St. Francis: they differ in their constitutions and there are slight differences in their habits, for instance the Capuchins are bearded while the others are shaven.

    • Curtis says:

      I forgot to mention that Evreux is in northern France a somewhat northwest of Paris and it would be really hard for Olivares to control that piece on the board when he cannot even manage to get his scouts across the boarder in one piece.

    • Randomiser says:

      Oh! I assumed ‘the Capuchin’ Olivares was speaking about was Pere Joseph, the Cardinal de Tremblay, not the queen’s current host. It never even occurred to me that it might be the latter. In which case Olivares would more likely know Anne’s route and intended destination, rather than exactly where she was at that precise minute. Olivares may not be currently able to get military patrols across the obvious invasion border, but Maddox only recently got there and you can get your bottom Reale he has agents all over Europe.

      • Randomiser says:

        Oh! I assumed ‘the Capuchin’ Olivares was speaking about was Pere Joseph, the Cardinal de Tremblay, not the queen’s current host. It never even occurred to me that it might be the latter. In which case Olivares would more likely know Anne’s route and intended destination, rather than exactly where she was at that precise minute. Olivares may not be currently able to get military patrols across the obvious invasion border, but Maddox only recently got there and you can bet your bottom Reale he has agents all over Europe.

  5. Tweeky says:

    I’m not surprised that Olivares is planning to backstab Gaston when the moment is right for him.

  6. Stanley Leghorn says:

    Is there any one who has met Gaston who is NOT ready to kill him the instant he is exposed as having murdered his brother?

    • Books first, food later. says:

      I thought I commented…anyway, I’ll ask again (or for the first time…maybe I started writing and fell asleep?) Do we know for certain that Gaston *intended* for his brother to die? I mean, either way he’s responsible, but if it was unintentional, then it’s more a tragedy caused by childish closed-mindedness and a bloodthirsty jealous streak, as opposed to if it was intentional, in which case it’s obviously cold-blooded murder. So…have the snippets said that Gaston planned for his brothers death (not allegations by his enemies. Statements by those who would know…mainly just Gaston…AFAIK…) deliberately?
      I’ll stop rambling now. :-)

      • Drak Bibliophile says:

        Nothing definite.

        There was the earlier conversation with the gentleman who actually killed the King where he accused Gaston of knowing that the King was traveling with the Cardinal.

        Gaston basically said “if I told you the King was traveling with the Cardinal, you wouldn’t have tried for the Cardinal”.

        My guess is that the death of his brother is a “happy accident” from his point of view.

        He definitely wanted the Cardinal dead and didn’t care who also got killed.

        The most we can say at this time is that he set up a situation where the King could have been killed but IMO his main target was the Cardinal.

  7. Cobbler says:

    “Are you threatening me, Your Majesty?”

    Gaston scowled. “Why do people keep saying that? His Holiness confers the office of Archbishop, Your Grace, but the king of France has something to do with the process. And with the current difficulty attending Pope Urban, I can assure you that I will have a great deal to do with it. A great deal.”

    Gondi looked at Gaston, aghast. “You are not king of France yet, Sire, and I will have a great deal to do with the placement of the crown on your head.”

    “And now you threaten me, Your Grace. You have no idea what is happening here.” He lowered his voice. “You will know very soon. And if you have any notion regarding the coronation, I suggest that you lay it aside. Permanently. Do you understand?”

    “Sire –”

    Do you understand, Your Grace? Do you completely understand me?”

    “Every word, Sire.”

    “I will keep you to that, my lord Archbishop. Now, if you will excuse me, I must mourn my brother and our king.”

    Gaston is quick to recognize a slight or a threat. Whether someone intended one or not. The slightest failure of deference, the slightest disobedience, the slightest resentment, Gaston notices and challenges.

    A few snippets back we read:

    “I have your leave to withdraw, then?”

    “Yes, yes. Of course.” Gaston turned away, waving his hand in dismissal. If he saw the anger in Vendôme’s eyes he did not take note of it.

    His own threats to others, the anger he stirs up—he never notices. Thus we get;

    “Are you threatening me, Your Majesty?”

    Gaston scowled. “Why do people keep saying that?

    From his own viewpoint, Gaston has nothing to recognize. He honestly believes that he is always sinned against. Always by the evil other. Always unprovoked. By wrongheaded fools who think he is ever wrong. The quotes above makes that clear. For all I know Gaston sees himself as a philosopher king.

    Gaston is oblivious to the enmity he stirs up. Or he thinks it doesn’t matter. And in a sense it doesn’t. Why should he care? Whatever trouble comes of his actions, never touches him. He tosses his allies to the wolves. He can always find more allies.

    Until now. King Gaston will discover where the buck stops. The man has the ego of a grizzly bear and the emotional intelligence of a flea.

    If Gaston cares to study the pitfalls of his present path, let him consult Sir Thomas Wentworth, First Earl of Strafford.

  8. Geoffrey Nichols says:

    “Still, with the Borja mess and the disagreeable situation in the Lowlands and the business last year in Mallorca ”
    What happened in Mallorca? I think I missed or don’t remember something important. What story do I read to find out about what happened in Mallorca?

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