Chapter 15 Summary

King Louis XIII is a weak leader and a jealous husband. He often uses his power to torment his wife, of whom he is very jealous. This jealousy is not totally unfounded, because the Queen’s family background places her in a position of uncertain political loyalty, and her status as a beautiful and powerful woman makes her highly attractive to men.

The Cardinal, for his part, hates the Queen because she refused to have an affair with him. Also, he does not trust women. For appearances’ sake, the Cardinal pretends to take the Queen’s side when the royal couple quarrels, but behind the scenes, he works hard to encourage the King’s cruel behavior toward the Queen.

After finding out about Buckingham’s visit and the Queen's gift of her diamond studs, the Cardinal visits the King to lay the groundwork for an intense public humiliation of the Queen. Such an outcome would reflect badly on the King, thus helping the Cardinal to keep his power and popularity secure.

The Cardinal does not immediately explain everything he knows. Instead, he prods the King into a rage by saying that Madame de Chevreuse, one of the Queen's old friends, recently visited Paris against the King’s will. The Cardinal adds that a Musketeer beat up some soldiers who were trying to arrest a conspirator—Madame Bonacieux—who helped Madame de Chevreuse and the Queen. (The reader should note that this last part is not quite true; d’Artagnan, who is not yet a Musketeer, beat up the soldiers.)

At this moment, Monsieur de Tréville enters to ask about Athos, who has not yet been released from prison. The King shouts at Tréville, accusing first Athos and then d’Artagnan of helping the Queen. Tréville swears that Athos and d’Artagnan were both accounted for at the time of the attack on the Cardinal’s soldiers. (Note that Athos had nothing to do with the attack and that d'Artagnan created an alibi back in chapter 10 by changing the clock to trick Tréville. Because of this, Tréville believes he is telling the truth.) 

The Cardinal is annoyed at this development. He would like to toss a few Musketeers in prison to keep them from meddling in his politics, but he knows that Tréville would never lie to the King. Accordingly, the Cardinal accepts defeat on this issue. He advises the King to have Athos released and to leave d’Artagnan alone. Monsieur de Tréville leaves happy, but he knows that the Cardinal will attempt some new intrigue soon.

Tréville is correct. As soon as he is gone, Cardinal Richelieu tells his biggest secret to the King: Buckingham has been to Paris to see the Queen.