1500s,  Character interview,  France,  History,  Huguenot

Character Interview: Prince Henri of Conde

Henri I, Prince de Conde

Q: You grew up with your first wife (Marie of Cleves) yet your relationship was not a close one. Why do you think that was the case?

I still wonder how we could both grow up under the care of a remarkable woman like Aunt Jeanne and still turn out so different. I took my Aunt’s teachings to heart, and I was thankful for them as well as her protection. My wife seemed determined to rebel, almost from the start.

Yes, many noble marriages are mismatches, particularly given how few Protestant princess there are. Yet I often felt that were were terribly mismatched from the start. Perhaps we never should have married in the first place, but that is in the past, sadly. At least we have our beautiful daughter, Catherine, from our marriage.

Q: How is your relationship with your current wife (Charlotte Catherine) different from your first?

It’s been a relief to marry a woman willing to enjoy a simple county life. The atmosphere at court is toxic, especially given how easily people hop from one bedchamber to another. It’s as if no one wants to honor their marriage vows. We Protestants are always characterized as being obsessed with morality, but given the immorality rampant in France, I think that our way of honoring our promises to one another is much more respectful. If we are not honest with one another, how can we possibly be honest to God?

Q: Then Princess Charlotte Catherine suits you very well, I assume?

I suppose she does. She’s much younger than I, and not given arguing with me. That’s refreshing. She gives me very little trouble. We’re happy with our daughter, and I hope that we’ll have a son soon to carry on the Conde name.

My wife is quite capable of managing our home north of La Rochelle, deep in Protestant country. I feel that she is safe from predators. I have no idea to expose her to a lecher like Henry of France, given how young and impressionable she is. I thank God that he is safe at home, surrounded by our servants.

Q: You’ve been portrayed as dour, sometimes almost emotionless. Do you fear that is a fair assessment of your personality?

Honestly, I don’t know where this idea that I’m humorless comes from. Sure, I’m not as gregarious as my cousin the King of Navarre. Who could keep up with him, especially in the bedroom? I just never felt the need to suffer fools gladly, or waste the air with flattery. You see too much of that from the courtiers in Paris nowadays.

Q: Are there times that you miss being an active part of the royal court?

No, if I had the chance, I would never take it to return. I hated my time there, always feeling as if I was a prisoner whether I was under lock and key or not. There is too much empasis on artifice. I enjoy plain speaking and honestly too much to leave it for the court.

Q: If, God forbid, King Henry III dies without a son, your cousin King Henry of Navarre will be the next king of France. How do you envision your role if that were to occur?

Honesty, I hope my cousin allows me to remain the country. I would serve him best by staying home with my wife. He has my sword and my loyalty at any time, but I would prefer to live in obscurity and quiet.

Q: You’ve just completed a successful battle against the Catholics—how difficult is it to fight against your fellow Frenchmen?

To be honest, I always knew God was on our side. But given how thoroughly we routed the Catholics, I know that our cause is just. God is smiling down on us benignly.

Q: There are many Catholics in France who consider the Protestants to be traitors. How do you respond to this accusation of your movement?

I would hope that the Catholics understand that we have willingly given up our allegiance to the Pope, only. We are loyal Frenchman, each of us. We earnestly feel that our fait is closer to what Our Lord hoped his moment would become. Over the centuries, the Catholic church has bent His message to suit its own purposes. That is why we are determined to read and digest God’s own Word to learn of what he wants our lives to be.

We have no desire whatsoever to rebel against our king. Sure, Henri Valois and I are not friends, but that does not in any way mean that I do not feel loyal to the throne or to France. We hate the fact that our country is continually being torn apart. by these wars. The longer we war against each other, the weaker we become. I fear that we will become easy pickings for an aggressive nation [at press time, the Spanish were rumored to be amassing a large fleet in order to invade England].

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