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1598, on the death of Alphonso II., without issue, seized by the popes on the pretence that Ferrara was a fief of the empire, although Alphonso had bequeathed the duchy to his kinsman Cesar d'Este. The d'Este family, however, continued to rule at Modena. The marriage of James II. with Mary of Modena made therefore, as we have said, a fresh link between the Stuarts and the House of Hanover, independently of that which existed already by reason of their common ancestry in James I. Another fact, less known, is that the nearest representative branches of the House of Stuart in the present day are the House of Savoy and the ex-ducal family of Modena, since the granddaughter of Charles I., the daughter of Henriette d'Angleterre, married Victor Amadeus, Duke of Savoy and the King of Sardinia. The great-grandson of Victor Amadeus, Victor Emmanuel I., had no sons, but his eldest daughter married the Duke of Modena, father of the present ex-duke Francis V. Therefore were it not for the Revolution of 1688, the line of James II. being extinct, the title to the crown by the laws of succession would be in Francis V., and failing his line, in the House of Savoy. Indeed, the Cardinal of York, styled on the Stuart monument at St. Peter's Henry IX., left at his death his right to the crown of England to the Duke of Savoy, his nearest relation in the Stuart line.
When Mary of Modena died in 1718 the Regent of France gave orders for the celebration of her funeral with honours befitting her rank; and according to her own request her body was deposited in the chapel of the Convent of Visitation at Chaillot, in the seclusion which she had so often found a solace for the cares of exiled royalty, to await the time of her son's restoration, when it was to be transported to England together with the remains of her husband and daughter. She desired, too, that her heart and other parts of her body should remain there for ever by the side of the hearts of her husband and daughter, and that of Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I.
The report of the commissioners appointed by the city of Paris at the time of the French Revolution to take an inventory of the property of the suppressed religious houses, gives an account of the state of the coffin of Mary Beatrice at that period, and of the preservation of the hearts in cases of silver (that of James II. was of silver gilt, presented by Louis XIV.); but no further record has been found by the Marchesa Campana of the remains in spite of inquiries in various directions, including excavations made on the site of the old convent and searches into the catacombs themselves. The body of the queen has vanished as those of James II. and his daughter have vanished, and no earthly trace remains of the last king and queen of the Stuart line beyond the few ashes gathered together at St. Germains, while there is now not even an inscription remaining to mark the memory of Mary of Modena, or that of her daughter. who always remained inimical to the interests of James II. The earl having rendered his report from Cologne to London, was now ordered back to the Court of France, where directions should be sent him to marry and bring home the Princess of Wurtemberg. The earl returned to Paris in all haste, but unfortunately his haste now outran his discretion, which had hitherto been excellent; for, doubting nothing, he alighted at the convent of the princess, and told her of his instructions. The poor princess, an orphan in a strange country, was enjoyed at the news, and could not conceal her satisfaction at the prospect of so great an elevation. But unfortunately for her prospects, a complete change had come over the decisions of Charles and James since the despatches had been sent to their envoy at Cologne, and a messenger had been despatched to meet and inform him of it, but had missed him on the way. The mortification of the lady was extreme, and the earl himself so vexed that he durst not see her again. The envoy laid all the blame on the intrigues of the Duchess of Portsmouth; but it is evident from these letters that it was Louis XIV. himself who opposed the elevation of the Princess of Wurtemberg, and that to his suggestions were due the new directions to the earl to proceed to Modena. · The Earl of Peterborough consequently proceeded to Italy, with not only full powers from Charles II. and the Duke of York to conclude a marriage with the Princess Mary Beatrice, but backed by all the authority of Louis XIV., whose ambassador was instructed to assist him in every way possible; and Louis XIV. later sent special orders to the Marquis de Dangeau at Modena to remove the difficulties which prevented the marriage. The chief obstacle in the way was that which resulted from the aversion of the young princess herself to the match, an aversion so strong that it seemed at one time invincible even to the influence of her mother. This aversion was founded on the inclination of the princess for a religious life. It appears, however, from letters in these volumes that the first suggestions for the match were conveyed by the Duchess of Modena to Louis XIV. ; her affection for her daughter, however, led her to take measures to stop all further negotiations as soon as she became aware of the strength of her daughter's objections, and it was only by the united influence of Louis XIV. and the Pope himself, exerted in the one case on the mother, and in the other on both mother and daughter, that the match was ultimately brought about.
Of the documents themselves in these volumes, the earliest, which relate to the marriage of Mary of Modena, afford opportunity for correcting in some particulars former accounts; while the instructions given to Lord Peterborough and his despatches present a curious specimen of diplomacy in the negotiation of a royal marriage.
In less than a year after the death of Anne Hyde, the Duke of York determined to remarry. His first choice had fixed itself upon Susanna Armine, widow of Sir Henry Bellasys, who was a steadfast member of the Church of England, and to whom James had indeed given a written promise of marriage. When the King, however, heard of his brother's design, he remonstrated with him, and told him sharply that it was into. 'lerable that he should think of playing the fool again at his 'age.' The King was not prepared to see the heir to the throne make again such a match as bad seemed scandalous even to Clarendon in the case of his own daughter, and therefore, seeing that James was bent on remarrying, looked out for a bride for him among the courts of Europe. The first person on whom his selection fell was the Archduchess of Innspruck, cousin of the Emperor, and a treaty was entered upon with a view to marriage. Matters were finally arranged, when the Empress of Germany died suddenly, and Leopold resolved himself to marry the affianced bride of the Duke of York. Henry Mordaunt, Earl of Peterborough, who already was cn route for the Viennese capital as proxy of the Duke, was stopped in time by Sir Bernard Gascoigne, the British ambassador at Vienna, to prevent his appearance at the Austrian Court; and the Earl was instructed to choose a wife for the Duke from a list of several princesses forwarded to him. Lord Peterborough, who had served under the Duke in the victorious naval fight of Solebay, and who considered himself no mean judge of beauty, seems to have been determined to procure for his royal friend the most agreeable princess he could in the matter of personal charms; he spared no pains or fatigue of travel, and exerted much diplomatic skill for the accomplishment of the purpose. No less than ten ladies were named, to whom the Duke might have the honour of proposing. There was the sister of the Emperor, the Duchess of Guise,
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a cousin of Louis XIV., the Princess of Wurtemberg, the Princess of Neubourg, two princesses d'Elbouf of the House of Lorraine, a daughter of the Duke of Retz, a princess of Spain, and two princesses of the House of Modena.
Louis XIV., in pursuance of his scheme of keeping the Court of England and the direction of its politics in his own power, actively interested himself in the marriage projects of the Duke of York; and both Charles and James were anxious to fix upon a person who should be pleasing to the French King. The earl entrusted with these delicate negotiations has left an account of his mission in the · Mordaunt Genealogies,' which testifies to his appreciation of its gravity. This was a great 'trust,' he writes, to the performance whereof were requisite • both honour and discretion. The first, to render uncon
sidered all the advantages which might be proposed to bias the person trusted against the interest and satisfaction of his • master; and the latter to find out and judge what might be • most expedient and agreeable to his humour and circum• stances.' The Duchess of Guise and the Princess of Wurtemberg both resided in Paris, and were the first persons on the list whose aptitudes he considered. He saw the Duchess of Guise at court, and the Princess of Wurtemberg in the convent where she resided. Of all the ladies proposed, Louis XIV. was most favourable to the choice of the Duchess of Guise ; but the earl found her to be low and ill-shaped ; and even the hope of obtaining the favour of the King of France could not make him recommend the match. At this point, a portrait of the Princess Mary Beatrice of Modena, which had been sent to her relative the Princess of Conti in Paris, was shown to him by a Scotch Catholic gentleman in Paris, for the Catholic world generally felt interested in getting the Duke married to a Catholic princess, in the hope of strengthening in England the interests of their Church. The earl was enraptured at the sight of the portrait, and fell in love with it by proxy. It bore the appearance,' he writes, • of a young creature of fourteen years of age; but such a • light of beauty, such characters of ingenuity and goodness, as convinced the earl that he had found his mistress and
the fortune of England.' The earl procured consequently an interview with the Abbé Rizzini, who was minister for the House of Este at Paris; but on inquiring about the two marriageable Modenese princesses, was informed that both ladies had devoted themselves to a religious life, and were determined not to marry. These circumstances being reported to the Duke, the earl was directed to devote his attentions to