Alexandre Dumas: Twenty Years After

44. Te Deum for the Victory of Lens.

The bustle which had been observed by Henrietta Maria and for which she had vainly sought to discover a reason, was occasioned by the battle of Lens, announced by the prince's messenger, the Duc de Chatillon, who had taken such a noble part in the engagement; he was, besides, charged to hang five and twenty flags, taken from the Lorraine party, as well as from the Spaniards, upon the arches of Notre Dame.

Such news was decisive; it destroyed, in favor of the court, the struggle commenced with parliament. The motive given for all the taxes summarily imposed and to which the parliament had made opposition, was the necessity of sustaining the honor of France and the uncertain hope of beating the enemy. Now, since the affair of Nordlingen, they had experienced nothing but reverses; the parliament had a plea for calling Mazarin to account for imaginary victories, always promised, ever deferred; but this time there really had been fighting, a triumph and a complete one. And this all knew so well that it was a double victory for the court, a victory at home and abroad; so that even when the young king learned the news he exclaimed, "Ah, gentlemen of the parliament, we shall see what you will say now!" Upon which the queen had pressed the royal child to her heart, whose haughty and unruly sentiments were in such harmony with her own. A council was called on the same evening, but nothing transpired of what had been decided on. It was only known that on the following Sunday a Te Deum would be sung at Notre Dame in honor of the victory of Lens.

The following Sunday, then, the Parisians arose with joy; at that period a Te Deum was a grand affair; this kind of ceremony had not then been abused and it produced a great effect. The shops were deserted, houses closed; every one wished to see the young king with his mother, and the famous Cardinal Mazarin whom they hated so much that no one wished to be deprived of his presence. Moreover, great liberty prevailed throughout the immense crowd; every opinion was openly expressed and chorused, so to speak, of coming insurrection, as the thousand bells of all the Paris churches rang out the Te Deum. The police belonging to the city being formed by the city itself, nothing threatening presented itself to disturb this concert of universal hatred or freeze the frequent scoffs of slanderous lips.

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