Henrietta Maria (DNB00)
HENRIETTA MARIA (1609–1669), queen consort of Charles I, king of Great Britain and Ireland, the youngest daughter of Henry IV of France and of his second wife, Mary de Medicis, was born at the Louvre on 15–25 Nov. 1609. As early as 1620, when the French court was anxious to draw England away from the Spanish alliance, a proposal to marry her to Charles, prince of Wales, was made by a French agent to James I, and the offer was repeated to Sir Edward Herbert, James's ambassador at Paris. The child, hearing her religion talked of as likely to raise difficulties, said that ‘a wife ought to have no will but that of her husband’ (Herbert's Despatch, 14 Aug. 1620, in Harl. MS. 1581, fol. 15; Tillière's Memoirs, p. 25). The proposal was allowed to drop, and when Charles saw her on his way through Paris on his journey to Madrid in 1623, either his thoughts were too full of the infanta, or Henrietta Maria, a child of thirteen, was too young to attract his attention. It was not till 1624, when the Spanish match had been discarded, that there was any serious thought of a French marriage in England.
On 15–25 Feb. 1624 Viscount Kensington arrived at Paris to sound the disposition of Louis XIII and his mother. He described the princess, then in her fifteenth year, as ‘a lovely, sweet young creature,’ who welcomed him with smiles. The proposed match was acceptable to the French court, and in May the Earl of Carlisle was sent to join Kensington in making arrangements for the marriage. There were many political and other difficulties to be got over, but on 12–22 Dec. the marriage treaty was sworn to at Cambridge. On 1–11 May 1625 the marriage itself was celebrated at Paris, the Duke of Chevreuse acting as proxy for the bridegroom, who was now, by his father's death, Charles I.
Henrietta Maria landed at Dover on 12–22 June, and first saw her husband on the following day. The early part of her married life was unhappy. She was only in her sixteenth year, and she had heard from her mother that her marriage was to bring relief to the English catholics, as Charles had engaged in a document, signed together with the marriage treaty, to dispense with the penal laws from which they suffered. Charles, however, in his desire to conciliate his first parliament, broke his word. Naturally the young bride felt herself cheated, and her dissatisfaction seems to have been increased by her numerous French attendants, male and female, who were almost her sole companions, and whom Charles had, by the marriage articles, bound himself to keep about her. In August, when the young couple were at Titchfield, Charles urged his wife in vain to allow him to add English ladies to her household. Early in 1626 she was supported by her brother in refusing to be crowned by a protestant bishop. Charles seems to have been eager to bring the queen into close relations with Buckingham and his family, a design which she heartily resented, and Buckingham, on the other hand, used all his influence with Charles against her; and it is even said that he reminded her on one occasion that former queens had lost their heads.
In June 1626 there was a fresh quarrel about the arrangements relating to the queen's jointure, and on 26 June–6 July, after a day spent in devotion, Henrietta Maria, walking in Hyde Park, approached Tyburn, where so many catholics had been executed, and uttered some kind of prayer, probably for the intercession of those whom she counted as martyrs. Charles heard this in an exaggerated form, and on 31 July–10 Aug. drove all the queen's French attendants from the palace and shipped them off to France in the course of a few days. Their places were filled by English. Louis XIII complained of this breach of the marriage treaty, but sent Bassompierre over to find some compromise; and an arrangement would probably have been come to if war had not broken out between France and England on other grounds. The absence of the French attendants no doubt contributed to remove some causes of friction; but it was not till after Buckingham's murder, in 1628, that all causes of mutual dispute were removed. The reconciliation then effected was the beginning of an affection which lasted as long as they both lived.
On 13 May 1629 Henrietta Maria gave birth prematurely to her first child, a boy, who died after two hours. Her eldest surviving child, afterwards Charles II, was born on 29 May 1630. She subsequently became the mother of Mary, afterwards princess of Orange, on 4 Nov. 1631; of James, afterwards James II, on 14 Oct. 1633; of Elizabeth on 28 Jan. 1636; of Henry, afterwards duke of Gloucester, on 8 July 1640; and of Henrietta, afterwards duchess of Orleans, on 16 June 1644 (all are separately noticed). For some time after her reconciliation with her husband it was impossible to induce her to take any part in politics. She was fond of pleasure and extravagant; and though she bore ill-will to the lord treasurer, Weston, it was not on account of his political conduct, but solely on account of the difficulty she found in extracting money from him. In 1629 the French ambassador, Châteauneuf, attempted in vain to use her influence to gain his ends (Châteauneuf's Despatches, Arch. des Aff. Etrangères, Angleterre, xliii.). Châteauneuf found that the queen was allowed all freedom in her religion; but though Charles consented to his proposal to establish eight Capuchins in her household, he refused to allow a bishop to be introduced to preside over them, lest he should meddle in other matters. The arrival of the Capuchins was accordingly postponed to a later period. In 1630, however, she broke her rule about abstaining from politics, so far as to be rude to the Spanish ambassador Coloma, who came to England to negotiate a peace. In 1631 she quarrelled with Châteauneuf's successor, Fontenay-Mareuil, and Charles refused to support her. She had, in fact, been drawn by Châteauneuf to sympathise with the intrigues against Richelieu, in which her mother was implicated. She did not, however, give much more than her sympathy in the matter.
The queen gathered around her court the lighter elements of Charles's society. Edmund Waller sang her praises, and the empty-headed Earl of Holland, who as Viscount Kensington had carried to Paris the proposal for her marriage, was a favoured visitor in her drawing-room. In 1632 Walter Montague wrote ‘The Shepherd's Pastoral,’ in which she was to act on the king's birthday; and it was her part in the rehearsal of this which called out from Prynne the well-known attack on ‘women actors’ which cost him his ears. On 2 Feb. 1634 she welcomed the members of the Inns of Court when they came to Whitehall to present a masque as a protest against Prynne's condemnation of the stage, and she afterwards danced with some of the masquers. That her own life was thoroughly pure we have the testimony of her confessor (Conn to Barberini, Add. MS. 15389, fol. 196); but she was frivolous, and without any appreciation of real merit, and frequently used her influence with her husband to obtain favours for courtiers unworthy of consideration. It was the facility with which Charles complied with her desires that brought her into collision with Wentworth, who found himself hampered by her interference.
Such aid as Henrietta Maria gave to the French ambassadors was too fitful to be of much use, and for some time her interferences on behalf of the English Roman catholics were of little more avail. She kept her chapel at Somerset House open to all who chose to use it, and the Capuchin priests, who had at last been sent to officiate in it, were zealous in the work of proselytism. Through the queen's influence Gregorio Panzani, who arrived in England on 12 Dec. 1634 on a special mission from Rome, was informally received by Secretary Windebank. She took her eldest son to mass; but Panzani complained that she could not be brought to attend steadily even to the business of supporting her church. It was finally resolved that Panzani should be succeeded by George Conn [q. v.] In February 1636, however, the king took alarm, at least so far as to forbid his wife to take her eldest boy to mass. In August she accompanied the king to Oxford, where Conn, who had lately arrived, was present with Panzani. Conn gradually acquired considerable influence over her, at least so far as to bring her to support his efforts at conversion. At this time she was brought into collision with Laud, who urged the king to throw obstacles in the way of Conn's activity in converting the court ladies by putting the laws against the catholics in force. After Charles had prepared a proclamation such as Laud required, the queen obtained a modification of it which rendered it practically valueless. At Christmas 1636 she arranged that all the new converts should receive the communion in a separate body in her chapel, in order to exhibit their numbers. ‘You have now seen,’ she afterwards said to Conn, ‘what has come of the proclamation’ (Conn's Despatches, Addit. MSS. 15390–1).
Conn describes her at this time as ‘so full of incredible innocence that in the presence of strangers she is as modest as a girl.’ ‘Father Philip avers,’ Conn continues, ‘that she is without sin, except of omission. … In respect to the faith or sins of the flesh she is never tempted. When she confesses or communicates she is so absorbed as to astonish the confessor and everybody. In her bedroom no one may enter but women, with whom she sometimes retires and indulges in innocent amusements. She sometimes suffers from melancholy, and then she likes silence. When she is in trouble she turns with heart and soul to God. She has little care for the future, trusting altogether in the king. Consequently it is of more importance to gain the ministers of state, of whom she may be the patroness if she likes’ (Conn to Barberini, 13–23 Aug. 1636, Record Office Transcripts).
Such was Henrietta Maria, light-hearted, joyous, and innocent, but apparently incapable of sustained application when her husband's troubles began. In October 1638 she had the pleasure of once more seeing her mother, who arrived in England as a fugitive. In 1639, when there was a difficulty in raising money for the impending war with the Scots, she urged the catholics to contribute towards it, and obtained from them a grant of 20,000l. A further suggestion made by her, that the ladies of England should make a present to the king, was less successful. After Charles had left London for the borders, Henrietta Maria was with some difficulty prevented from following him to the camp, where she hoped to prevent him from exposing himself to danger. After the first bishops' war was at an end, the queen was again active in court intrigues, hoping to obtain promotion for her friends irrespective of their qualifications for office. She pleaded unsuccessfully for the appointment of Leicester to a vacant secretaryship of state, and afterwards (early in 1640) more successfully for Vane, who was appointed at her instance, in opposition to the strongly expressed opinion of Strafford. When the Short parliament was about to meet she was naturally anxious lest it should insist on a renewal of the persecution of the catholics, and especially on the removal of Rossetti, who had lately succeeded Conn as the papal agent at her court. Charles, however, told her that he would tell parliament that her marriage treaty secured her right to hold correspondence with Rome. ‘This,’ she said to Rossetti, ‘is not true; but the king will take this pretext to silence any one who meddles with the matter’ (Rossetti to Barberini, 27 Dec.–6 Jan. 1639–40, Record Office Transcripts). The queen, however, was not altogether relieved, and applied to Strafford for help. As her danger increased she discovered that it was possible that Strafford, whom she had hitherto regarded as an enemy, because he refused her unreasonable requests, might be of some use to her. In April 1640 she declared openly that she considered him the most capable and faithful of her husband's servants (Montreuil to Belliévre, 30 April–10 May 1640, Bibl. Nat. Fr. 15995, fol. 81).
After the dissolution of the Short parliament Henrietta Maria was fully impressed with the gravity of her own and her husband's situation, but though she had been fifteen years in England, she had even less knowledge than Charles of the character and prejudices of Englishmen. She now began, doubtless with her husband's full consent, that long course of intrigues for foreign aid which did more than anything else to bring the king to the block. On 15 May Windebank asked Rossetti to write to the pope for money and men for Charles, and it is hardly possible to doubt that this was done in consequence of orders from both Charles and the queen (the question is discussed in Gardiner, Hist. of England, 1603–1642, ix. 135, n. 1). Before the end of July she learnt that the pope would do nothing unless Charles would change his religion, in which case six or eight thousand soldiers would be sent (Barberini to Rossetti, 20–30 June; Rossetti to Barberini, 31 July–10 May, Record Office Transcripts).
When the Long parliament met in November 1640 Henrietta Maria seconded her husband's entreaties to Strafford, on whose vigorous support she now counted, to come to London. She was herself in the utmost danger, as, though the parliamentary leaders knew nothing of her appeal to Rome for help, they knew that the court had been the centre of the machinery of conversion, which they regarded as more dangerous than it really was. She on her part treated the members of the puritan opposition as actuated only by factious and personal motives. Before the end of November 1640 she again urged the pope to send her money, specifying the sum of 125,000l. as that which might be employed in corrupting members of parliament (Barberini to Rossetti, 16–26 Jan. 1641, Record Office Transcripts). So ready was she to snatch at any method of turning the tables upon her adversaries that she now favoured the marriage of her eldest daughter Mary to Prince William of Orange, which she had discountenanced in the preceding summer, in the hope that the bridegroom would bring with him a sum of ready money which might be useful in organising resistance to parliament, or might even conduct a body of Dutch troops to the help of the king.
With these hopes before her, Henrietta Maria set at nought the wish of parliament to expel Rossetti, and again before the end of December pressed the pope for aid. She promised that though Charles could not himself become a catholic for fear of deposition, he would grant liberty of worship to the catholics of all his kingdoms (Rossetti to Barberini, 25 Dec.–4 Jan. 1641, Record Office Transcripts). Early in January, however, being apparently anxious to have two strings to her bow, the queen opened a negotiation with the parliamentary leaders, offering, as far as can be now known, to admit some of them to office if they would allow Rossetti to remain. As the negotiation came to nothing at the time, it may be inferred that the proposal was rejected. Before the end of the month she found her position so difficult that on the plea of ill-health she proposed to visit France in April. It is possible, too, that she was still calculating on a favourable answer from Rome, and judged it prudent to be out of the way when the explosion came.
The queen's motives are the more difficult to disentangle, as she was living in the midst of a web of intrigue, on which it is impossible to throw complete light. In the beginning of February she was again holding interviews with the parliamentary leaders and proposing office to them, and on the 4th she sent a civil message to the House of Commons. Early in March she learnt that Richelieu not only would hear nothing of her visit to France, but was determined not to help her in any way; and about the same time she was informed by Rossetti that nothing was to be had from the pope unless the king would change his religion. She therefore turned for help in another direction. Henry Jermyn was her man of business, in whom she had the strongest confidence, and he and Sir John Suckling suggested to her a plot for bringing up the English army in the north to support the king. On 23 March, before the plan could be matured, Strafford's trial began; the queen was constantly present, and the necessity of acting quickly appeared more urgent. The plot, however, met with unexpected obstacles. The queen intended that Goring should command the army as lieutenant-general, but on the 29th it appeared that the officers of the army would not place themselves under him. On 1 April Goring betrayed the plan to the parliamentary leaders. Pym kept the secret for some time, but his knowledge led to increased vigour in the proceedings against Strafford. The queen did her best to save him, and won over some of the peers to vote for saving his life, but she could not make up her mind to abide by constitutional pressure. On 19 April Prince William of Orange arrived, bringing with him a large sum of money, the exact amount of which cannot be ascertained. All kinds of violent plans were talked of, and when rumours of these plans got abroad they were always supposed to have their centre in the queen's court.
On 2 May the marriage of the Princess Mary was celebrated. The next morning it was known that attempts had been made to deliver Strafford with the help of armed men. All London was in a state of excitement, and on 5 May Pym revealed his knowledge of the army plot. On the 6th Jermyn, Suckling, and others fled beyond sea. On the 8th the bill for Strafford's attainder was read for a third time in the House of Lords. There were also rumours that a French fleet was on its way to invade England. The queen prepared to fly to Portsmouth, and it was widely believed that she wished to take refuge in France because Jermyn was her lover, and she could not bear to live without him. By the advice of Montreuil, the French agent, she refrained from leaving Whitehall. An angry mob gathered round the palace, calling out for Strafford's execution; and when on the 9th Charles gave his consent to it, he was able to excuse the act in his own eyes by the danger to which his wife and children were exposed (the Elector Palatine to the Queen of Bohemia, 18 May, Forster, British Statesmen, vi. 71; the King to the Queen, 9–19 Feb., Charles I in 1646, Camd. Soc., p. 18).
The queen could no longer retain Rossetti in England. Before he left she again begged him, on 2 June, to obtain money—150,000l. was the sum she named—on any terms short of her husband's conversion. On the 26th she and the king had their last interview with him, in which she declared that as soon as the houses were adjourned the king would take measures for his own advantage (Rossetti to Barberini, 9–19 July, in Record Office Transcripts). Soon after this she again talked of visiting the continent, on the plea of her ill-health. This time she was to go to Spa. The commons believed that she was about to take with her the crown jewels in order to pawn them, and took measures which effectually put a stop to the scheme for the time. She did not, however, abandon it, and when her mother left England in August she expressed her intention of following her unless times changed.
Henrietta indeed had not quite abandoned hope. The king was now in Scotland, looking forward to the re-establishment of his power in England with the help of a Scottish army. She knew well how difficult it was to carry out any such scheme without more money than Charles had at his command, and before the end of August she again pleaded with the pope for a supply. As the hopes of Scottish intervention grew dim, the prospects of forming an episcopalian party in England increased, and in October the queen's court at Oatlands was the rallying-point of such of the lords as were discontented with the progress of puritanism. On 25 Nov. she joined in her husband's triumphal reception at the Guildhall. She was, however, very angry at the strong measures taken in parliament against the catholics, and did her best to urge the king to a complete breach with his opponents. In the early part of January 1642 she believed, truly or falsely, that the parliamentary leaders intended to impeach her (Giustinian to the Doge, 7–17 Jan.; Venetian Transcripts in Record Office; Heenvliet to the Prince of Orange, 7–17 Jan.; Groen van Prinsterer, 2nd ser. iii. 497). It was by her and Digby that Charles was urged to make his unfortunate attempt on the five members, and it is probable that her ill-advised discovery of the plan to Lady Carlisle [see Hay, Lucy] led to its failure. When on 10 Jan. Charles left Whitehall, he was accompanied by the queen, and when on 13 Feb. he gave his consent at Canterbury to the Bishops' Exclusion Bill, he did so on her recommendation. As a catholic she had no interest in supporting the bishops of what she regarded as an heretical church. On 23 Feb. she sailed from Dover, carrying with her a great part of the crown jewels. She hoped not merely to raise money by pawning them, but to obtain armed support from Denmark and the Prince of Orange, as well as from other continental sovereigns, who would be ready, she fancied, to sustain the cause of a falling monarch. By her letters she urged the king to secure Hull, and it is probable that it was on her advice that he offered to head the army preparing for the re-conquest of Ireland, a proposal which, had it been accepted by parliament, would have given Charles a military force entirely at his disposal. She herself played her part vigorously. Before the middle of June it was known in England that she had been selling or pawning jewels at Amsterdam, and had purchased large stores of munitions of war for the king's service. Before long a vessel was despatched to the Humber with the first consignment.
After the beginning of the civil war the queen's operations were still more vigorous, but it was difficult for her to keep her plans secret, and on 26 Nov. parliament learnt from an intercepted letter that the Prince of Orange had advanced her money, and that she had either sent, or had ready to send, no less than 1,200,000l. for her husband's service. It further learnt that she was to land in person on the east coast with an armed force. She actually set sail on 2 Feb. 1643 with a large sum of money, reckoned, probably with exaggeration, at 2,000,000l. She was overtaken by a violent storm, but maintained her high courage. ‘Comfort yourselves,’ she said to the frightened ladies; ‘queens of England are never drowned.’ She was driven back to the Dutch coast, but put out again, and landed at Bridlington Quay on the 22nd. Though she brought no troops with her, her vessels were loaded with warlike stores; and early in the morning of the 23rd a parliamentary squadron, under Captain Batten, attempted to destroy them. The shot flew into the houses of the port, and the queen, springing from her bed, fled for safety, but returned to save her lapdog. Finally she took refuge with her ladies in a ditch, while the shot flew over her head (Mémoires de Mme. de Motteville, i. 210). On 5 March she set out for York, the headquarters of the royalists in the north. Here she was visited by Montrose and Hamilton, each anxious to win her support for their respective policies in Scotland [see Graham, James, first Marquis of Montrose, and Hamilton, James, first Duke of Hamilton]. Whatever may have been her personal predilections, she was bound by her husband's orders, and rejected the warlike pleadings of Montrose. On 23 May she was impeached by the House of Commons.
The threads of Charles's foreign policy ran through the queen's hands, and on 27 May she advised him to abandon Orkney and Shetland to the king of Denmark in return for the assistance of a fleet and army (the queen to the king, 27 May, in Mrs. Green, Letters of Henrietta Maria). In England she won over Sir Hugh Cholmley and the two Hothams, who, though they were in the service of the parliament, offered to betray to her Hull and Lincoln.
On 16 June Henrietta Maria arrived at Newark at the head of a small army which she was conducting to her husband. She lingered there in hopes of the surrender of Hull and Lincoln. On the 29th the two Hothams were arrested and their design was frustrated. On 3 July ‘her she-majesty generalissima, and extremely diligent with 150 waggons to govern in case of battle,’ as she described herself, finding that her plan of surprising Lincoln had also failed, set out for Oxford. She was met by Rupert on the 4th at Stratford-on-Avon, where she was the guest of Shakespeare's daughter [see under Hall, John, 1575–1635]. On the 13th she met her husband at Edgehill. Her first request was that he would raise Jermyn to the peerage. If the scandals afloat had had any foundation, it is hardly likely that she would have called attention to them in this way, and still less likely that she would have slaved night and day as she did in the service of a husband to whom, if rumour was to be credited, she had been unfaithful. On 14 July the united pair rode into Oxford.
Well-intentioned as the queen was, she had too little knowledge of England to render her advice other than harmful to her husband. She was all for foreign alliances and for bringing into the country armies from Ireland and the continent. She is said to have been vehemently opposed to the siege of Gloucester, and in this case the event has been held to justify her advice. She was certainly most imprudent in treating with rudeness the peers Bedford, Holland, and Clare, who deserted parliament and sought to make their peace with the king. It was a time when Charles's cause seemed likely to be triumphant. Later in the year his strength declined, and the plans for foreign assistance again assumed prominence. In the beginning of 1644 the queen favoured a proposed marriage between the Prince of Wales and a daughter of the Prince of Orange, which, as she hoped, would lead to a Dutch intervention in the king's favour (Jermyn to Heenvliet, 12–22 Feb., in Groen van Prinsterer, 2nd ser. iv. 98). Before long the position at Oxford appeared so insecure, that it was resolved that Henrietta Maria should seek a safe refuge when the king left for the campaign, and on April 17 she actually set out for Exeter, where she gave birth to her youngest child Henrietta. Her health suffered, and frightened at the approach of the army of Essex, who refused her a safe-conduct to Bath, she made her way to Falmouth harbour, whence on 14 July she sailed for France. A parliamentary vessel fired into the one in which she was, but on the 16th she landed unharmed at Brest.
The bad state of the queen's health made it necessary for her to visit the baths of Bourbon. Here she was attended by Madame de Motteville, sent to her by the queen regent, and was visited by her brother Gaston. When she was sufficiently recovered she was established before the end of August at St. Germains, and received from the queen regent a pension of twelve thousand crowns a month. Her first object, however, was to assist her husband, and she stripped herself of her remaining jewels and of the equipage beseeming her rank in order to carry out this object. Something, too, was gained by the sale of tin forwarded from the Cornish mines. Nor did she desist from pushing various political schemes of the same kind as those which had so often failed before, and she had not been long at St. Germains before she gave her confidence to a jesuit named O'Hartegan, who had come as an agent of the Irish confederate catholics to urge Mazarin to support them. The queen was for some time hopeful of obtaining large sums from Mazarin, with the help of which an Irish army might be launched against England, but Mazarin had no money to apply to such purposes.
Another scheme which occupied Henrietta Maria in the closing weeks of 1644 and in the beginning of 1645 was the gaining of the Duke of Lorraine, who at last promised to bring ten thousand men to Charles's aid. At the same time she pushed on the negotiation for her son's marriage with the daughter of the Prince of Orange, the consideration for which was to be the loan of ships to transfer the duke's army into England. Before the end of April, however, the Dutch refused to allow the duke to pass through their territory, and, as the French would not allow him to go through theirs, the prospect of receiving help from him had to be abandoned. In May 1645 Rinuccini arrived in Paris on his way to Ireland as papal nuncio, but the queen would have little to do with him, and preferred to send Sir Kenelm Digby to Rome in June to negotiate independently with Pope Innocent X for pecuniary aid to the Irish catholics.
A great part at least of these secret negotiations was published when copies of Charles's letters to his wife fell into the hands of parliament after Naseby, but Henrietta Maria did not lose confidence. In October 1645 she listened to Sir Robert Moray, who had come to Paris to plan an alliance between Charles and the Scots on the basis of the acceptance of presbyterianism by the king, but she still looked forward too hopefully to the help of the continental protestants to attach much weight to these overtures, to the chief of which she was compelled to give a reluctant consent. When in December Charles was planning one last desperate campaign, it was on the landing of a French force supported by money forwarded at the queen's entreaty, by French clergy, that he mainly relied.
Early in 1646 the queen, discovering that there was little chance of her getting much assistance from Rome, turned to the Scottish alliance. After the king placed himself in the hands of the Scots and was removed to Newcastle, her efforts to persuade her husband to give up his scruples about abandoning episcopacy were unceasing. In June 1646 she obtained possession of the person of her eldest son, who was, much against the will of Hyde and the other supporters of a purely English policy, removed from Jersey by her orders, confirmed by those of his father. In July, when Belliévre was going on a mission from the French government to Charles, the queen sent to him a memoir for his guidance, which had been drawn up by Digby, and which was too fantastic to be reckoned as a practical scheme. A little later she urged Charles to agree with the Scots on the basis of presbyterianism without the covenant. Her own letters during this year have for the most part been lost, but her opinions can be gathered from the despatches of her ministers, and one characteristic letter written by her on 9 Oct. has been preserved. ‘If you are lost,’ she wrote to Charles, ‘the bishops have no resource; but if you can again place yourself at the head of an army we can restore them to their sees. … Preserve the militia and never abandon it. By that all will come back to you. God will send you means to your restoration, and of this there is already some little hope’ (the queen to the king, 9 Oct. 1646, in Clarendon State Papers, ii. 271). She was in fact once more looking to Mazarin for aid, thinking that the war between France and Spain would soon draw to a close, and that he would then be free to help her. It is hardly to be doubted that she was ready to purchase that help by surrendering the Channel Islands to France.
In the course of 1646 Henrietta Maria recovered her youngest daughter, Henrietta, who was brought from England by Lady Morton in the disguise of a beggar. Her joy did not cause her to forget her anxiety for her husband. Money was before all things needful if the queen's many schemes were to come to anything, and one of her first objects now was to obtain a rich wife for her son. The Dutch marriage treaty having broken down, she urged the young Charles, a boy of fifteen, to make love to ‘La Grande Mademoiselle,’ the daughter and heiress of her brother Gaston. The lady was too old to care for such youthful courtship, and this plan, like so many others of the queen's, came to nothing. In the course of 1647 she sent Sir Kenelm Digby back to Rome [see Digby, Sir Kenelm], and she employed an agent, Winter Grant, in Ireland (Carte MSS.), in both cases in the hope of obtaining Irish assistance for Charles. In 1648 she took an active part both in the negotiations which led to that combination between the Irish catholics and the royalists, which brought down on them the sword of Cromwell in the following year, and in those which led to the Prince of Wales placing himself at the head of the fleet which revolted from the parliament, and which would, if his plans had not been cut short by Hamilton's defeat at Preston, have led to his transferring himself to the camp of the Scots. She was in correspondence with her second son, James, in England, urging him to effect his escape, and had the satisfaction of learning that it was successfully accomplished.
In the summer of 1648, when the troubles of the Fronde were becoming serious, Henrietta Maria removed to the Louvre. The French court had enough to do to take care of itself, and about 21–31 Dec. Cardinal de Retz found the queen of England in a state verging on destitution, taking care of her little Henrietta, whom she kept in bed for want of means to light a fire (De Retz, Mémoires, ed. Champollion-Figeac, i. 269; Miss Strickland, who tells the story from De Retz, gives a wrong date). Bad news from England, however, occupied the queen more than her own suffering, and on 27 Dec.–6 Jan. she wrote to the French ambassador in England, asking him to apply for passports to enable her to return to plead for her husband's life (the queen to Grignon, 27 Dec.–6 Jan. 1649, in Strickland, Lives of the Queens of England, viii. 145). On 8–18 Feb. she received the news of his execution.
With her husband's death Henrietta Maria's political career came practically to an end. The troubles of the Fronde were at their height, and for some little time she retired into a Carmelite nunnery in the Faubourg St. Jacques. In the course of the summer of 1649, after she had left her retreat, she received a visit from her eldest son, now known by his supporters as Charles II. When in 1650 he started on his expedition to Scotland, she did her utmost to detain him, fearing for him the fate which had befallen his father. After his return, in consequence of his defeat at Worcester in 1651, she again vainly urged his suit to ‘La Grande Mademoiselle,’ whose wealth was more than ever desirable in the straitened circumstances of the English royal family.
The blank left in the queen's life by the cessation of political action was in some measure filled up by anxiety for the spiritual welfare of her children. Neither Charles nor James could be won to their mother's church, but the little Henrietta was educated by her as a Roman catholic. On 17 Jan. 1653 the English council of state gave leave (Proceedings of the Council of State, Record Office) to her youngest son, the Duke of Gloucester, to go abroad, and in 1654 she strenuously set to work to convert him. But she was forced by the orders of Charles II to allow him to leave France and to place himself under the protection of his eldest brother [see more fully under Henry, Duke of Gloucester]. Such proceedings naturally completed the alienation which had long been growing up between her and the thoroughly English counsellors of her son, such as Hyde and Nicholas.
In 1655 Henrietta Maria, having failed to convert her elder children, threw herself into matrimonial projects on behalf of her daughter Henrietta, whom she wished to marry to Louis XIV, though the young king had no fancy for her. She was engaged, however, in 1660 to Louis's brother Philip, duke of Orleans [see under Henrietta or Henrietta Anne]. After the Restoration Henrietta Maria returned to England in October 1660, partly to try to get a portion for her daughter, and partly because she was vehemently desirous of breaking off a marriage which had been secretly contracted between her second son, the Duke of York, and Anne Hyde [q. v.] In the first object she was successful, but in the second she had to give way. She herself lived in state at Somerset House on 60,000l. a year, half of which had been granted by parliament, and half by the king. Roman catholic service was again performed in her chapel.
In January 1661 Henrietta Maria set out for France, taking with her the Princess Henrietta, who was married on 31 March to the Duke of Orleans. On 28 July 1662 the queen returned to England, taking up her abode at Greenwich till she was able to move into Somerset House, which had been undergoing certain alterations. When the alterations were completed, she established herself in her own residence, but she did not find herself at ease in England. She began to complain of the climate, and it is probable that she felt uncomfortable amidst a generation in which her own sorrows awoke but little sympathy. At all events, on 24 June 1665, she again left London, and never returned to England. Her health was failing, and she retired to her château at Colombes, near Paris. There, on the morning of 21–31 Aug. 1669, she took an opiate by the order of her physicians, and never woke again. She was buried (12 Sept.) in the church of St. Denis, near Paris, in the burying-place of the kings of France. Her funeral sermon was preached by Bossuet. The statement that she had been married to Jermyn after her husband's death does not appear to rest on sufficient evidence.
Vandyck painted many portraits of Henrietta Maria during her husband's lifetime, and a very great number of them are scattered over England. One of these now belongs to the Duke of Northumberland, another (repainted by Sir Joshua Reynolds) to the Earl of Ashburnham, a third to the Earl of Denbigh, and a fourth (with Charles I) to the Duke of Sutherland. A portrait by Claude Le Fevre (in the possession of Alfred Morrison, esq.) represents her in her old age.
[The main authorities for Henrietta Maria's Life in England are notices in contemporary letters among the English State Papers and in the despatches of foreign ambassadors, especially in those of Panzani, Conn, and Rossetti, the papal agents, transcripts of which are preserved in the British Museum or the Public Record Office. References to the more important of these will be found in the notes to Gardiner's Hist. of England, 1603–42, and Hist. of the Great Civil War. Many interesting particulars may be gathered from the Memoirs of Father Cyprien de Gamache (of which a translation was published in the Court and Times of Charles I, 1848), and from the Memoirs of Mademoiselle de Montpensier and Madame de Motteville. See also Bossuet's Funeral Sermon, and the notes on which that sermon was founded, furnished by Madame de Motteville, and published by M. Hanoteaux in the Miscellany of the Camden Society, vol. viii. There are also Memoirs of Henrietta Maria, 1671, and a modern biography of her in the eighth volume of Miss Strickland's Lives of the Queens of England.]