chapter  1
22 Pages

1592— 1616: ‘The Gracing of young Villiers’

Buckingham blamed Richelieu for the repudiation of the agreement which Bassompierre had concluded on Louis XIII's behalf, and his view was widely shared, both at home and abroad. Writing from Paris, the Venetian ambassador told his government that to disinterested observers it seemed that Bassompiere had shown exceptional skill and prudence in carrying out his difficult task. Buckingham's letter was carried to Paris by Balthazar Gerbier, who had been instructed to go on from there to Brussels, where he was to meet Rubens. The ostensible reason for this meeting was so that the two men could work out the details of Buckingham's plan to buy the painter's magnificent art collection, but Rubens was also being employed by the Archduchess Isabella, ruler of the Netherlands, as a diplomatic agent. These tentative contacts with Spain did not imply that Buckingham had abandoned his major aim of gaining the restoration of the Palatinate.