The Chalais conspiracy (1626)

The year 1626 was rich in events. Louis XIII and the cardinal form the marriage project of Monsieur (Gaston, brother of the king) and Mademoiselle de Montpensier (mother of the future Grande Mademoiselle). Gaston, urged on by his governor, Mr d'Ornano, categorically refuses to marry this heiress who is so rich. A party is then created around him: that of "aversion to marriage" and " Chalais conspiracy Is the sad end of it.

The princes conspire

The great princes, under the leadership of the great conspirator of the time that is Marie de Rohan, Duchess of Chevreuse will defend the king's brother, and especially intrigue against the authority of Richelieu. The Duchess seeks a stunned young soul and finds it in the person of the Comte de Chalais. Henri de Talleyrant-Périgord was born in 1599, to unfortunately die in 1626. He served with King Louis XIII who appreciated him very much, as master of the wardrobe. He married Charlotte de Castille in 1623.

This charming young man fell under the spell of the Duchess in the spring of 1626 and allowed himself to be drawn into this plot. In summer, he goes to his service. Marie de Rohan, knowing how to handle men well, made her sparkle mountains and wonders, in return for her help: the goal was the assassination of Richelieu, and perhaps the dismissal of Louis for the benefit of his brother Gaston.

The Count de Chalais, not knowing how to be silent, and perhaps taken with remorse, confides in his uncle Commander of the Order of Malta, who orders him to confess everything immediately. In return, Richelieu asks him to play the spies in Gaston's entourage. Despite everything, Richelieu prevails with the support of Louis XIII. To save his personal situation, Gaston confesses his fault and hands over all his accomplices, particularly overwhelming Chalais.

Chalais, the ideal scapegoat

Only Chalais paid the price for this conspiracy: he was arrested on July 8 and, having no family support which provided immunity, he was tried in Nantes after a heinous trial. He is made to believe that he can obtain his pardon by force of confession, and for a month he denounces everyone, even proposes to spy on Gaston on behalf of the king, overwhelms his former mistress who let him down . The judgment fell on July 18: the handsome Chalais was considered a lèse-majesté criminal and condemned to take off. Louis XIII, taken with pity and sensitive to honor, suppresses torture (his head was to be exposed on leaving the city, his body cut into 4 pieces, each attached to gallows on the main avenues).

His family and his former accomplices dissuade the executioner from doing his office. Unfortunately, it is a condemned to death who is in charge of this task. On August 19 at 6 p.m. Chalais climbed onto the scaffold. The executioner first uses a poorly sharpened Swiss sword, tries twice to no avail. He asks for a doloire and succeeds in massacring Chalais. At the twentieth stroke, Chalais is still alive and moans “Jesus Maria”. It will take 29 ...


- Jean-Christian Petitfils, Louis XIII, Perrin, 2008

- Louis XIII by Philippe Erlanger. Gallimard, 1996.

Video: Universal Newsreel (October 2021).