ORACLES OF NOSTRADAMUS - Henri Quatre
THE COMING OF HENRI IV. (AUGUST 2, 1589). [I. 105.]
Century IX.--Quatrain 50.
Mendosus shall soon come to his high dominion,
Setting back those of Lorraine a little.
The old cardinal pale, the male of the interregnum,
The young man timid, and the barbarian alarmed.
HENRI IV. the heretic Vendôme, changed his religion thrice, Jeanne d'Albert, his mother, brought him up a Protestant. To escape St. Bartholomew's Day, he professed Catholicism, in 1572. In 1576, he turned to Protestantism, to head the Calvinist party. He declared himself Catholic to take the throne of France. Through the Salic law he ascended, to the exclusion of the Lorraine princes (Nolaris). In this way, he shut out the old Cardinal de Bourbon, pale (blesme) with age, the Duc de Mayenne, Lieutenant General of the kingdom during the interregnum, the young Duc de Guise, and the barbarously savage Philip Il. of Spain, who had pretensions
to the crown through Elizabeth his wife, the daughter of Henri II.
The Cardinal is rouge because of the dress of all cardinals. Philip allied himself with the Guises. and supported the Catholic League.
THE DEPRESSION OF THE DE GUISE FAMILY (1589-1593). [I. 107.]
Century X.--Quatrain 18.
Le rang Lorrain fera place à Vendosme,
Le haut mis bas, et le bas mis en haut,
Le fils de Mamon sera esleu 1 en Rome,
Et les deux Grands seront mis en defant.
The house of Lorraine yields to the Vendôme,
The high put low, the low put high instead,
The son of Mamon they elect at Rome,
And the Pretenders both are in default.
The house of Lorraine is now eclipsed by that of Vendôme. Mayenne, the chief, is put down, and le petit Béarnais, Henri IV., rises to respect and power. This heretic son of mammon is accepted by choice at Rome for King of France, and neither of the Pretenders will ever be king.
The Cardinal de Bourbon had been actually proclaimed King by the League, as Charles X., but he was dead in 1590. Isabella, the daughter of Philip II., was incapable by the Salic law. So that the only two remaining were the Duc de Mayenne and the young Duc de Guise. They were shut out by Henri IV. and never reached the throne.
HENRI IV. ABJURES PROTESTANTISM (JULY 21, 1593). [I. 108.]
Before the legate of the earth and sea,
Henry the Great will yield to all required:
Mayenne to all will listen and not speak a word,
And will grant nothing of his own free will.
Sixtus V. had boldly fulminated an excommunication against Henri Quatre, the great Capet, but the latter subscribes to all required by the legate of him who can bind and loose all on the earth and sea. He abjures Protestantism at St. Denis, on July 25, 1593, the Archbishop of Bourges officiating. The Duc de Mayenne (the Lorraine), Lieutenant-General of France and Master of Paris for the League, will look on in silence, and as far as he can will prevent Paris from receiving the King. The city did not open its gates to him till March 22, 1594, eight months after the abjuration.
MARSEILLES TAKEN BY THE SPANIARDS (FEBRUARY 17, 1596). [I. 109.]
Century III.--Quatrain 88.
From Barcelona a great fleet shall come,
And terror strike into the town Marseilles:
The isles are seized, and help by sea cut off,
But the betrayer is made swim on land.
A Spanish fleet of a dozen galleys, commanded by Charles Doria, was sent by Philip II. to help the Leaguers. He took possession of the islands Chateau d'If and Ratonneau, and thus cut off all help to seaward. Charles de Casau (le traditeur) was consul, and proposed to place the city in the hands of the Spaniards; Pierre Libertat, however, ran him through with a sword, and the populace dragged the dead body through the muddy channels of the streets.
Guynaud refers to the same event as fulfilling this quatrain in the time of Henri IV., but by a misprint gives 1536 instead of 1596. The islands he mentions are those of St. Honnorat and of St. Marguerite. Black's pretentious Imperial Gazetteer professes to give a plan of the town, and you see a number of nameless vermicelli streets running all about, but not a single island off the coast is visible. One may suppose, however, that the islands are there, and that all the four were occupied by the Spaniards.
BIRON'S PUNISHMENT (DECEMBER 2, 1602). [I. 110.]
Quand de Robin 1 la traisteruse enterprise,
Mettra Seigneurs et en peine un grand Prince,
Sceu 2 par la Fin 3 chef on lui tranchera.
La plume au vent, amye clans Espagne, 4
Poste 5 attrappé estant clans la campagne,
Et l'escrivain clans l'eaüe se jettera.
When Biron's treason and disastrous act,
Shall put King Henry and his Lords in fear,p. 117
Lafin betrays him, and the King beheads.
Treason dispatched to Spain in amity, 1
The carrier caught when he has entered France, 2
And the scriv'ner will throw himself into the water.
One thing has carefully to be borne in mind in relation to the Sixains, that they were presented to Henri Quatre, and printed for the first time in 1605. That is to say, the) first appeared three years after this had happened. To the sceptically disposed they can furnish no authority, but to ordinary men, who only look for ordinary evidence, it will appear that there is very little as to style that would not appropriately spring from the pen of Nostradamus; and further, that if they are forgeries, the forgers have not taken advantage of their knowledge of the events to make the prophecies any clearer or more striking. These are quite as enigmatical as if our author had written them, and I think that common sense will generally be content to take them for what they are worth, and will regard them as probably genuine "chips of the old block" and as such very curious.
Guynaud in his Concordance, p. 137, gives a full and interesting account of Biron; chiefly extracted from Davila, Montluc, De Thou, Mezeray, Le Père Anselm, and so forth,
where the reader can refer for further details, if interested. I may just note that I have copied the date of December 2, 1602, from Le Pelletier, but that Moreri gives the date of Biron's decapitation as July 31, 1602, in the Court of the Bastille. The name of the messenger (poste) was Picoté, a native of Orleans, sold, as they say, to the King of Spain (Guynaud, p. 140).
Garencières has (p. 464) a very elaborate annotation upon this stanza, giving the whole history of Biron and Lafin in twenty-eight folio pages. Biron appears to have been a vain, a violent, and foolish man, though of great courage and audacity in war, which made him highly valued by Henri IV. After Amiens he refused to go to quiet the towns of Picardy, unless his statue were erected in brass before the Louvre. His sudden prosperity had turned his head. The treasonous proposals with Spain were, that he was to have a daughter of the Duke of Savoy in marriage, 500,000 crowns, and sovereign rights in Burgundy. These were negotiated through Lafin; and Lafin told the King. The whole trial is given, with Biron's defence in reply, which is audacious and eloquent, but much of it is highly contradictory. He was condemned and executed in the court of the Bastille, on July 31, 1602, which coincides with Moreri. The superstitious, ignorant, violent, but able soldier comes out most characteristically. He shows in emergency great rapidity of thought, decision, and presence of mind; but a deficient judgment, very little principle, and an overwhelming conceit, that, encouraged by success, almost merged into madness. A man of this sort is always a compound of inconsistencies; accordingly he said to the Chancellor, in speaking of death, "I have not been afraid of it these twenty years." And that was true, when in war, a duel, or hot blood; but in the court of the Bastille he was thought to
show great fear of dying. In earlier life he had wondered at himself for fearing nothing from the thrust of a sword, though very nervous over the prick of a lancet, when he had occasion to "be let blood," as they used to phrase it. The fear of death is most in apprehension; but the apprehension is most, perhaps it may be said, of the wicked in cold blood, and of the good in violence, and when the blood is hot, if but the least pause give time for reflection to enter. Garencières notes that the greatest courage and stoutness of a man is nothing in comparison of the weakness of human nature.
Two of Biron's adventures with astrologers are so characteristic of the manners of the time, as recounted by Guynaud [p. 137, etc.], that I think the reader should not be deprived of them. Whatever is strange and rivets the attention must have something of humanity in it, and repay the record, though a few superior people may look down upon such trifling. I shall give them at the risk of running this annotation to too great length.
When at Court with his father, at the age of eighteen or twenty, he had a duel, and killed his man. He had to hide for this, till his father could sue out his pardon, through the, Due d' Espernon, to whom fortunately the father was known. He took the disguise of a letter-carrier, and in this garb consulted an astrologer called La Brosse, who lived in a garret at the top of a house near the Luxembourg. He told the man that it was his master's horoscope he had need of. La Brosse told him that one day he would be a very great man, in fact, might almost be king, but for a caput algol that stood in the way. What this was the man would not explain. Biron, however, continuing to press very hard, got him to say at last that he would be beheaded on a scaffold. Upon this, he burst out with the want of judgment he
showed all through his life (forty years in all) and beat the old man mercilessly, leaving him nearly dead. He locked him maliciously into his room, took away the key with him, and kicked down the little ladder that gave access to the loft. But still he believed what had been communicated.
On another occasion he consulted César, who was thought at the time to be the most able astrologer in France. This man also affirmed that he would have good fortune in almost everything. Except for a blow from a Burgundian from behind, he might even be king. But he could not get from him a word more.
When he was confined in the Bastille, a friend called on him, and Biron asked him to ascertain for him from what part of the country the executioner of Paris was; and when he came back and told him that he was a Burgundian, Biron changed colour and said--"There will be no reprieve then; I am as good as dead."
Now as to the fulfilment of the last two lines. It will appear that my rendering is right, and that the scrivener will throw himself into the water. The scrivener turns out to be a man named Nicholas l'Oste, born at Orleans, secretary to Lord Villeroy, Chief Secretary of State, who, finding him a most capable person, confided much in him, and the more so that Oste's father had spent the greater part of his life in his service. When Lord Rochepot was starting as ambassador for Spain, Oste begged to accompany him as secretary. Villeroy immediately recommended him, and he was engaged. In a few months' time he mastered the language to such perfection, and so thoroughly accommodated himself to Spanish manners, that he might well pass for a true-born Spaniard. When Rochepot had got the treaty at Vervins ratified, the King of Spain gave him rich presents--a chain of jewels, and six gold chains valued at a hundred
and fifty crowns apiece--to distribute amongst his suite, as he thought fit. Oste was so full of himself that he thought he ought to have one of them, but his master thought otherwise; on which, says Garencières, "the Devil crept into his soul," and, as he wanted money to supply his debaucheries, he determined to betray the State secrets which passed through his hands.
With this in view, he applied to Don Fanchese, a Secretary of State, and made his proposals, but the dignified Spaniard, for some reason or other, received him coolly. "The Catholic King was in good amity with the most Christian one, and required to know no more than the French Ambassador should communicate to him." Nothing discouraged, our traitor hurries off to Don Ydiaques, another secretary, and there meets with excellent reception. He was presented to the Duke of Lerma, to whom he betrayed the Alphabet of Ciphers. He received twelve hundred crowns upon the spot, and was promised the like amount as a yearly pension. By his means the Spanish Council knew the contents of all French instructions as soon as the ambassador himself. When La Rochepot's mission ended, Oste got back into Villeroy's service, and so was able to maintain correspondence with Spain. Tuxis was ambassador from Spain in Paris, and after him Don Baltazar de Caniga. With these men he established a close intimacy, so that finally the Council in Spain got his letters before Des Barreaux at Madrid could receive those from Henri IV.
Des Barreaux told the King that he was always now forestalled. Oste had let a certain reprobate Raffis into his secret, and this fellow, who had been banished, in order to obtain a reprieve of sentence, betrayed Oste to Des Barreaux. When he got his pardon, he gave up the name of Oste. Raffis came to Paris to communicate with Villeroy, and orders were
given to detain the two Spanish couriers that had reached the post-office. They then kept a watch upon Oste, who was "doing his devotions at the Charter-house of Paris,"--excellent Catholic, plotter as he was. On reaching the post-office, he soon found he was betrayed; and Descardes, who was to watch him, did not let him out of his sight until he brought him to Villeroy's. When there, he thought his man was safe, and went to announce his capture to Villeroy. Oste instantly ran down to the stable, where his horse stood, still saddled, and galloped away. A hue and cry was soon raised. Oste got a Spanish disguise at De Cuniga's, and made off post-haste for Luxembourg. Postmasters were forbidden to let out horses to any one; but at Meaux the postmaster had received the order too late, for Oste was already on horseback, but no sooner did he begin to gallop than his horse fell under him. His look of dismay impressed the postillion who accompanied him, and he told his master on his return. The postmaster told the sheriff, who came up with him at the second ferry of la Ferte sous Jouare; but he was already on the boat, and threatening the ferryman's life, the man put him ashore, in spite of the sheriff's commands, shouted to him from the bank. He rushed into the bushes and brambles near the Marne, hoping to escape in the darkness of the night, the sheriff scattered his men everywhere, raised the whole country side, and caused bonfires to be lighted in all directions. Oste crept from bush to bush, but, either accidentally or with intention, fell into the river Marne and was drowned. His hat was found next day, stopped between two posts, and his body two days later. So befitting a close to the career of a gifted dastard is a wholesome exemplar of retributive justice, and should not easily be suffered to fall out of men's recollection. Horace thinks that lame-foot justice always trips the sinner. No
doubt, if we could see both worlds; but, as we cannot, I wish that here the lame foot were considerably less lame. In England law and the lawyers, her two crutches, seem to reduce Justice to a gouty incapable. With our new Palace of Justice the morals of a Court seem to have dawned upon us.
POPULARITY OF HENRI IV. (AFTER HIS DEATH). [I. 112.]
Century VI.--Quatrain 70.
Chief of the world Henri le Grand shall be,
More loved in death than life, more honoured he:
His name and praise shall rise above the skies,
And men will call him victor when he dies.
French self-esteem has always appropriated to France a throne of pre-eminence beyond all other thrones. If it were possible, they would set theirs above that of Jupiter. They pretend a most manly contempt for kings. But the throne, you are to remember, is the work of sans cullottes, French
cabinet-makers, and therefore the best thing of its kind in the universe, and so chef du monde. If Nostradamus is no prophet for you, you shall at least admit that he was a Frenchman. The Frenchman whips the old world, and the American whips creation. The rest of us may look forward to an eternity of corporal punishment in spite of the nominal abolition of slavery. Condillac will furnish the logical distinction, that establishes the honour of the throne, when a manly contempt has been duly engendered for the sanctity of the king's majesty. Honest Democrat! Do you read Condillac?
One of Voltaire's rhetorical squibs in the Henriade, which the French are so indulgent as to call not only verse, but poetry, runs--
"Il fut de ses sujets le vainqueur et le père."
"He was the papa and conquestor of his people."
When our Charles II. was addressed as "the father of his people," he said he thought that he might be of a good many of them. But Henri Quatre is too noble a creature for any good and wise man to wish to dwell long upon his foibles. What a contrast between him and the Napoleons!
113:1 Mendosus, anagram of Vendosme (the u standing for v of course), The texte-type reads Mandosus; but as Mendosus is the perfect anagram of Vendosme, and makes also the Latin word's meaning full of faults, it is best to read Mendosus.
113:2 Norlaris, anagram for Lorrains the patronymic of the Guise family.
114:1 Romance, esleu, élu, chosen.
114:2 Cape, for Capet, a descendant of Hugh Capet.
115:1 Latin, tacite, silently.
115:2 Norlarin, anagram for Lorrain; here it represents the Duc de Mayenne,
115:3 Qu'a for qui à.
115:4 Romance, si for très, very.
115:5 Latin, traditor, traitor.
115:6 His body shall be dragged through the streets in the mud of the gutters.
116:1 Robin, anagram for Biron.
116:2 Romance, sceu for su, known.
116:3 Lafin was the name of the secretary, the accomplice of Biron.
116:4 The ordo here is dans l'Espagne amye which means, then at peace with Henri IV.
116:5 Romance, poste, messenger, postillion.
117:1 La plume au vent is supposed by le Pelletier to stand for currente calamo. I should rather think it means the feather (wing) to the wind. It was written with a quill, and started on its way as a bird flies; but irrevocabile semel emissum. We are to understand this line to relate to l'Oste's treasonable complicity with Spain, of which an account will be given further on. Also, l'escrivain, in the closing line stands for the same individual.
117:2 We shall see that the two Spanish couriers were arrested at the post office in Paris. Le Pelletier confuses all this from not happening to know that l'Oste is the scrivener, so he applies it to the affair of Lafin, whose messenger, when carrying Spanish despatches, had thrown them into the river when he found himself pursued. Unfortunately, when he finds himself in the difficulty which this involves him in, he glazes till he has forced the words to fit his erroneous view. He had far better have stated the difficulty, and said that he could not harmonize the text. But he very rarely trips thus.
123:1 Le Grand Chyren is the anagram of Henri le Grand. Before mounting the throne, he bore the name of Vendosme, from his father Antoine de Bourbon, Duke of Vendôme and King of Navarre. In the first Quatrain of the series, Henri Quatre, Vendosme was anagrammatically given as Mendosus; as to Chiren it is the precise anagram of Henri, as spelt in the old language Henric, from the Latin Henricus. Numerous etymologies have been assigned to Henry. Camden derived it from honore, Verstegan from the Teutonic Han, a haven, and Rice, Saxon for rich. Killian writes it Heynrick, or Heymrick, rich home. This is very nearly right, but now it is generally considered that rick stands for powerful; so chief of a house or district.
123:2 Los, old word for glory. Latin, laus.
"A la sainte divinité,
Soit los, honeur, et potesté."
Le Mystère des Actes des Apôtres.
123:3 Latin, victor, conqueror.