All of the extravagances which we have seen up until now, are nothing compared to the Monaldeschi scandal which will definitively stain Christina’s reputation.

The Queen is convinced that the secret of the expedition which she had decided to undertake towards Naples, was revealed to Spain by her Grand Equerry, Monaldeschi.  He is supposed to have imitated Santinelli’s writing so that he would be accused instead of himself.

Accompanied by four men, by two guards and by Santinelli, Christina summons her Grand Equerry.  He tells her that he had acted to save her reputation.  By copying the letters written by Santinelli and giving them to her, he was keeping her informed.

Christina doesn’t believe him, and leaves him in the hands of the seven men, with Father Le Bel to take care of his soul.  The priest takes pity on the condemned man and begs the Queen to pardon him.  In vain.  The Queen refuses.  She is calm and without anger.

Santinelli gives him the first sword thrust and wounds him in the hand.  Perhaps anticipating the danger, Monaldeschi had worn a coat of mail.  Unfortunately, it prolongs his execution.  Because of it, the sword thrusts badly wound him, but don’t kill him.

In the end, one last blow to the throat makes him fall.  He turns toward the wall and, after a few more minutes, he dies.  The massacre had lasted three hours.

Mazarin has immediate knowledge of the assassination, and advises Christina to cover it up.  Why not talk about a duel between gentlemen which ended badly?

But the Queen, sure of the justice of her act, makes it known.  Still full of  her royal prerogatives, she thinks that she has acted like a queen.  She possesses a sovereign right (noted in the act of abdication) and intends to use it.  Even if she is far from her country, she considers herself to be absolute sovereign in her household.

She seeks neither to hide it, nor to justify herself, and will strongly criticise all those who try to take the blame away from her.  “I intend to render account only to God, who would have punished me if I had pardoned a traitor for his enormous crime, and may that be sufficient for you!”

She will remain another few weeks in Paris, to the great despair of the court and in particular Mazarin, who is incapable of sending away such a prestigious guest, but wants to see her disappear fast.

In spite of different diets, Christina ages and her health degrades.  She becomes fat.  Her voice is more masculine and her pilosity more abundant.  Never clothes-conscious, she is now scruffy, but she still has her beautiful eyes and majestic carriage.

She has frequent migraines, accompanied by insomnia, which she attributes to her too great assiduity for work.  She only wants to take viper powder for her headaches, which does not help much.

She has periodic spurts of temperature, strongly resembling paludism, which is then rife among her little court.  She also complains of rhumatism.

She continually puts off being bled because she is afraid of the operation.  Many times, she sends for the barber, who comes, waits, and finally goes away again, without having taken out his lancet.

She also suffers from intercostal neuralgias, which her doctors do not at all understand.  She treats herself with milk, convinced that it is the best remedy for her illness.

She finally consents to having a few palettes of blood drawn and declares that she feels much better.  But the pains in her side still persist, alternating with pains in her back, in spite of enemas, apoplexy balm, hellebore and other more or less active drugs.

Her strength of character allows her to resist for a long time the assaults of both the illness and the remedies.  But the hour arrives when she has to admit that she is beaten.

She passes gently from life on 13 February 1689.  She is sixty-three years old.

She is transported on a ceremonial bed, her face uncovered, to Saint Peter’s Church, at the Vatican, then inhumed in the sacristy, an honour reserved, until then, only for cardinals.  The Pope will not live long enough to build her the monument he wanted to raise to her memory.

Tenth and last part tomorrow.

Advertisements