The Project Gutenberg eBook of History of the Reformation in Europe in the Time of Calvin. Vol. 4 (of 8)

This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this ebook or online at If you are not located in the United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this eBook.

Title: History of the Reformation in Europe in the Time of Calvin. Vol. 4 (of 8)

Author: J. H. Merle d'Aubigné

Release date: August 1, 2019 [eBook #60035]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Brian Wilson, David Edwards, Colin Bell, David
King, and the Online Distributed Proofreaders Team at (This file was produced from images
generously made available by The Internet Archive.)



History of the Reformation in Europe in the Time of Calvin, Vol. 4 of 8

‘Les choses de petite durée ont coutume de devenir fanées, quand elles ont passé
leur temps.
‘Au règne de Christ, il n’y a que le nouvel homme qui soit florissant, qui ait de
la vigueur, et dont il faille faire cas.’


This volume narrates the events of an important epoch in the Reformation of England, Switzerland, France, Germany, and Italy. From the first the author purposed to write a History of the Reformation in Europe, which he indicated in the title of his work. Some persons, misled by the last words of that title, have supposed that he intended to give a mere biography of Calvin: such was not his idea. That great divine must have his place in this history, but, however interesting the life of a man may be, and especially the life of so great a servant of God, the history of the work of God in the various parts of Christendom possesses in our opinion a greater and more permanent interest.

Deo soli gloria. Omnia hominum idola pereant!

In the year 1853, in the fifth volume of his History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century, the author described the commencement of the reform in England. He now resumes the subject where he had left off, namely, after the fall and death of Wolsey. The following pages were written thirteen years ago, immediately visubsequent to the publication of the fifth volume; they have since then been revised and extended.

The most important fact of that epoch in Great Britain is the act by which the English Church resumed its independence. It was attended by a peculiar circumstance. When Henry VIII. emancipated his people from the papal supremacy, he proclaimed himself head of the Church. And hence, of all Protestant countries, England is the one in which Church and State are most closely united. The legislators of the Anglican Church understood afterwards the danger presented by this union, and consequently declared, in the Thirty-seventh Article (Of the Civil Magistrates), that, ‘where they attributed to the King’s Majesty the chief government, they gave not to their princes the ministering of God’s word.’ This did not mean that the king should not preach; such an idea did not occur to any one; but that the civil power should not take upon itself to determine the doctrines of the divine Word.

Unhappily this precaution has not proved sufficient. Not long since a question of doctrine was raised with regard to the Essays and Reviews, and the case having been carried on appeal before the supreme court, the latter gave its decision with regard to important dogmas. The Privy Council decided that the denial of the plenary inspiration of Scripture, of the substitution of Christ for the sinner in the sacrifice of the cross, and of the irrevocable consequences of the last judgment, was not contrary to the profession of faith of the Church of England. When they heard of this judgment, the rationalists triumphed; but an immense number of protests were made in all parts of Great Britain. While we feel the greatest respect for the persons and intentions of the members of the judicial viicommittee of the Privy Council, we venture to ask whether this judgment be not subversive of the fundamental principles of the Anglican Church; nay more (though in this we may be wrong), is it not a violation of the English Constitution, of which the articles of Religion form part? The fact is the more serious as it was accomplished notwithstanding the opposition (which certainly deserved to be taken into consideration) of the two chief spiritual conductors of the Church—the Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of all England, and the Archbishop of York, both members of the council. Having to describe in this volume the historical fact in which the evil originated, the author is of opinion that he ought to point out respectfully but frankly the evil itself. He does so with the more freedom because he believes that he is in harmony on this point with the majority of the bishops, clergy, and pious laymen of the English Church, for whom he has long felt sincere respect and affection.

But let us not fear. The ills of the Church must not prevent our acknowledging that at no time has evangelical Christianity been more widely extended than in our days. We know that the Christians of Great Britain will not only hold firm the standard of faith, but will redouble their efforts to win souls to the Gospel both at home and in the most distant countries. And if at any time they should be compelled to make a choice—and either renounce their union with the civil power, or sacrifice the holy doctrines of the Word of God—there is not (in our opinion) one evangelical minister or layman in England who would hesitate a moment on the course he should adopt.

England requires now more than ever to study the Fathers of the Reformation in their writings, and to be animated by their spirit. There are men in our days viiiwho are led astray by strange imaginations, and who, unless precautions be taken against their errors, would overturn the glorious chariot of Christian truth, and plunge it into the abyss of superstitious Romanism or over the abrupt precipice of incredulity. On one side, scholastic doctrines (as transubstantiation for instance) are boldly professed in certain Protestant churches; monastic orders, popish rites, candles, vestments of the fourteenth century, and all the mummeries of the Middle Ages are revived. On the other side, a rationalism, which, though it still keeps within bounds, is not the less dangerous on that account, is attacking the inspiration of Scripture, the atonement, and other essential doctrines. May we be permitted to conjure all who have God’s glory, the safety of the Church, and the prosperity of their country at heart, to preserve in its integrity the precious treasure of God’s Word, and to learn from the men of the Reformation to repel foolish errors and a slavish yoke with one hand, and with the other the empty theorems of an incredulous philosophy.

I would crave permission to draw attention to a fact of importance. A former volume has shown that the spiritual reformation of England proceeded from the Word of God, first read at Oxford and Cambridge, and then by the people. The only part which the king took in it was an opposition, which he followed out even to the stake. The present volume shows that the official reformation, the reform of abuses, proceeded from the Commons, from the most notable laymen of England. The king took only a passive part in this work. Thus neither the internal nor the external reform proceeded from Henry VIII. Of all the acts of the Reformation only one belongs to him: he broke with the pope. That was a great ixbenefit, and it is a great honor to the king. But could it have lasted without the two other reforms? We much doubt it. The Reformation of England primarily came from God; but if we look at secondary causes, it proceeded from the people, and not from the sovereign. The noble vessel of the political constitution, which had remained almost motionless for centuries, began to advance at the first breath of the Gospel. Rationalists and papists, notwithstanding all their hopes, will never deprive Great Britain of the Reformation accomplished by the Word of God; but if England were to lose the Gospel, she would at the same time lose her liberty. Coercion under the reign of popery or excesses under the reign of infidelity, would be equally fatal to it.

A distinguished writer published in 1858 an important work in which he treated of the history of England from the fall of Wolsey.[1] We have great pleasure in acknowledging the value of Mr. Froude’s volumes; but we do not agree with his opinions with respect to the character of Henry VIII. While we believe that he rendered great services to England as a king, we are not inclined, so far as his private character is concerned, to consider him a model prince, and his victims as criminals. We differ also from the learned historian in certain matters of detail, which have been partly indicated in our notes. But every one must bear testimony to the good use Mr. Froude has made of the original documents which he had before him, and to the talent with which the history is written, and we could not forbear rejoicing as we noticed the favorable point of view under which, in this last work of his, he considers the Reformation.

xAfter speaking of England, the author returns to the history of Geneva; and readers may perhaps complain that he has dwelt longer upon it than is consistent with a general history of the Reformation. He acknowledges that there may be some truth in the objection, and accepts his condemnation in advance. But he might reply that according to the principles which determine the characteristics of the Beautiful, the liveliest interest is often excited by what takes place on the narrowest stage. He might add that the special character of the Genevese Reform, where political liberty and evangelical faith are seen triumphing together, is of particular importance to our age. He might say that if he has spoken too much of Geneva, it is because he knows and loves her; and that while everybody thinks it natural for a botanist, even when taking note of the plants of the whole world, to apply himself specially to a description of such as grow immediately around him; a Genevese ought to be permitted to make known the flowers which adorn the shores upon which he dwells, and whose perfume has extended far over the world.

For this part of our work we have continued to consult the most authentic documents of the sixteenth century, at the head of which are the Registers of the Council of State of Geneva. Among the new sources that we have explored we may mention an important manuscript in the Archives of Berne which was placed at our disposal by M. de Stürler, Chancellor of State. This folio of four hundred and thirty pages contains the minutes of the sittings of the Inquisitional Court of Lyons, assembled to try Baudichon de la Maisonneuve for heresy. To avoid swelling out this volume, it was necessary to omit many interesting circumstances contained in that document; we should have curtailed xithem even more had we not considered that the facts of that trial did not yet belong to history, and had remained for more than three centuries hidden among the state papers of Berne.[2] De la Maisonneuve was the chief layman of the Genevese Reformation,—the captain of the Lutherans, as he is frequently called by the witnesses in their depositions. The part he played in the Reformation of Geneva has not been duly appreciated. No doubt the excess of his qualities, particularly of his energy, sometimes carried him too far; but his love of truth, indomitable courage, and indefatigable activity make him one of the most prominent characters of the Reform. The name of Maisonneuve no longer exists in that city; but a great number of the most ancient and most respected families descend from him, either in a direct or collateral line.[3]

Another manuscript has brought to our knowledge the chief mission of the embassy which solicited Francis I. to set Baudichon de la Maisonneuve at liberty. The head of that embassy was Rodolph of Diesbach: M. Ferdinand de Diesbach, of Berne, has had the kindness to place the manuscript records of his family at our disposal; and the circumstance that we have learnt from them does not give a very exalted idea of that king’s generosity.

The project of Francis I. and of Melancthon described in the portion of the volume devoted to France xiiand Germany, and the important letters hitherto unknown in our language, which are given there, appear worthy of the attention of enlightened and serious minds.

We conclude with Italy. We could have wished to describe in this volume Calvin’s journey to Ferrara, and even his arrival at Geneva; but the great space given to other countries did not permit us to carry on the Genevese Reformation to that period. Two distinguished men, whose talents and labors we respect, M. Albert Rilliet, of Geneva, and M. Jules Bonnet, of Paris, have had a discussion about Calvin’s transalpine expedition. M. Rilliet’s essay (Deux points obscurs de la vie de Calvin) was published as a pamphlet, and M. Bonnet’s answer (Calvin en Italie) appeared in the Revue Chrétienne for 1864, p. 461 sqq., and in the Bulletin de la Société de l’Histoire du Protestantisme Français for 1864, p. 183 sqq. M. Rilliet denies that Calvin ever visited the city of Aosta, and M. Bonnet maintains that he did. Data are unfortunately wanting to decide a small number of secondary points; but the important fact of Calvin’s journey through Aosta, seems beyond a doubt, and when we come to this epoch in the Reformer’s life, we will give such proofs—in our opinion incontestable proofs—as ought to convince every impartial mind.

Before describing Calvin’s residence at Ferrara, the author had to narrate the movements which had been going on in Italy from the beginning of the Reformation. Being obliged to limit himself, considering the extent of his task, he had wished at first to exclude those countries in which the Reformation was crushed out, as Italy and Spain. On studying more closely the work there achieved, he could not make up his mind to pass it over in silence. Among the oldest editions of the books of that period which he has xiiimade use of is a copy of the works of Aonio Paleario (1552), recently presented by the Marquis Cresi, of Naples, to the library of the School of Evangelical Theology at Geneva. This volume wants thirty-two leaves (pp. 311 to 344), and at the foot of p. 310 is the following manuscript note: Quæ desunt pagellæ sublatæ fuerunt de mandato Rev. Vicarii Neap.; ‘the missing pages were torn out by order of the Reverend Vicar of Naples.’ This was an annoyance to the author, who wished to read those pages all the more because the inquisition had cut them out. Happily he found them in a Dutch edition belonging to Professor André Cherbuliez.

Some persons have thought that political liberty occupied too great a space in the first volume of this history; we imagined, however, that we were doing a service to the time in which we live, by showing the coexistence in Geneva of civil emancipation and evangelical reform. On the continent, there are men of education and elevated character, but strangers to the Gospel, who labor under a mistake as to the causes which separate them from Christianity. In their opinion it arises from the circumstance that the Church whose head is at Rome is hostile to the rights of the people. Many of them have said that religion might be strengthened and perpetuated by uniting with liberty. But is it not united with liberty in Switzerland, England, and the United States of America? Why should we not see everywhere, and in France particularly, as well as in the countries we have just named, religion which respects the rights of God uniting with policy which respects the rights of the people? It is not the Encyclic of Pius IX. that the Gospel claims as a companion, it is liberty. The Gospel has need of liberty, and liberty has need of the Gospel. The xivpeople who have only one or other of these two essential elements of life are sick; the people who have neither are dead.

‘The greatest imaginable absurdity,’ says one of the eminent philosophers and noble minds of our epoch, M. Jouffroy, ‘would be the assertion that this present life is everything, and that there is nothing after it. I know of no greater in any branch of science.’ Might there not, however, be another absurdity worthy of being placed by its side? The same philosopher says that, so far as regards our state after this life, ‘science and philosophy have not, after two thousand years, arrived at a single accepted result.’[4] Consequently, by the side of the absurdity which M. Jouffroy has pointed out, we confidently place another, as the second of ‘the greatest imaginable absurdities,’ namely, that which consists in believing, after two thousand years of barren labors, that there is another way besides Christianity to know and possess the life invisible and eternal. The essential fact of the history of religion and the history of the world: God manifest in the flesh, is the ray from heaven which reveals that life to us, and procures it for us. We know what a wind of incredulity has scattered over barren sands many noble souls who aspire to something better, and for whom Christ has opened the gates of eternity; but let us hope that their fall will be only temporary, and that many, enlightened from on high, turning their eyes away from the desert which surrounds them, and lifting them towards heaven, will exclaim: I will arise and go to my Father.

We must, as Jouffroy says, ‘recommence our investigations;’ but ‘first of all,’ he adds, ‘we must confess xvthe secret vice which has hitherto rendered all our exertions powerless.’ That secret vice consists in considering the question in an intellectual and theoretical point of view only, while it is absolutely necessary to grapple with it in a practical way, and to make it an individual fact. The matter under discussion belongs to the domain of humanity, not of philosophy. It does not regard the understanding alone, but the conscience, the will, the heart, and the life. The real vice consists in our not recognizing, within us, the evil that separates us from God, and, without us, the Saviour who leads us to Him. The royal road to learn and possess life invisible and eternal is the knowledge and possession of that Son of Man, of that Son of God, who said with authority: I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE: NO MAN COMETH UNTO THE FATHER BUT BY ME.


La Graveline, Eaux Vives, Geneva:
May, 1866.







(Autumn 1529.)

Diverse Religious Tendencies—Evangelical Reformation and Legal Reformation—Creation of a mighty Protestantism—Election of a new Parliament—Alarm of the Clerical Party—The Three Parties—The Society of Christian Brethren—General Movement in London—Banquet and Conversations of Peers and Members of Parliament—Agitation among the People 1



(November 1529.)

Impulse given to Political Liberty by the Reformation—Grievances put forward by the House of Commons—Exactions, Benefices, Holy-days, Imprisonments—The House of Commons defend the Evangelicals—Question of the Bishops—Their Answer—Their Proceedings in the matter of Reform 9



(End of 1529.)

Abuses pointed out and corrected—The Clergy reform in self-defence—Fisher accuses the Commons, who complain to the King—Subterfuge of the Bishops—Rudeness of the Commons—Suppression of Pluralities and Non-residence—These Reforms insufficient—Joy of the People, Sorrow of the Clergy 15



(Winter of 1530.)

Motives of Henry VIII.—Congress at Bologna—Henry sends an Embassy—Cranmer added to the Embassy—The Pope’s Embarrassment and Alarm—Clement grants the Englishmen an Audience—The Pope’s Foot—Threats—Wiltshire received and checked by Charles—Discontent of the English—Wiltshire’s Departure—Cranmer remains 20



(Winter of 1530.)

Parties at Cambridge—A noisy Assembly—Murmurs against the Evangelicals—A Meeting declares for the King—Honor paid to Scripture—The King’s severe letter to Oxford—Opposition of the younger Members of the University—The King’s Anger—Another royal Mission to Oxford—The University decides for the Divorce—Evangelical Courage of Chaplain Latimer—The King and the Chancellor of Cambridge 29



(January to September 1530.)

The Sorbonne deliberates on the Divorce—The French Universities sanction the Divorce—The Italian Universities do likewise—Opinion of Luther—Cranmer at Rome—The English Nobles write to the Pope—The Pope proposes that the King should have two Wives—Henry’s Proclamation against Papal Bulls 38



(January to September 1530.)

Latimer tempted by the Court; fortified by Study—Christian Individuality—Latimer desires to convert the King—Desires for the Church, Poverty, the Cross, and the Bible—He prays the King to save his own Soul—Latimer’s Preaching—No Intermingling of the two Powers—Latimer’s Boldness in the Cause of Morality—Priests denounce him to the King—Noble Character of the Reformers 45



(January to May 1531.)

The Ivy and the Tree, or the Practice of Popery—Vaughan looks for the invisible Tyndale—Vaughan visited by a Stranger—Interview between Vaughan and Tyndale in a Field—Tyndale mistrusts the Clergy—The King’s Indignation—Tyndale is touched by the royal Compassion—The King wishes to gain Fryth—Faith first, and then the Church—Henry threatens the Evangelicals with War 52



(January to March 1531.)

Supremacy of the Pope injurious to the State—All the Clergy declared guilty—Challenged to recognize the royal Supremacy—Anguish of the Clergy—They negotiate and submit—Discussions in the Convocation of York—Danger of the royal Supremacy 60



(March to June 1531.)

The Divorce Question agitates the Country—A Case of Poisoning—Reginald Pole—Pole’s Discontent—The King’s Favors—Pole’s Frankness and Henry’s Anger—Bids Henry submit to the Pope—Queen Catherine leaves the Palace 66



(September 1531 to 1532.)

Stokesley proposes that the inferior Clergy shall Pay—Riot among the Priests—The Bishop’s Speech—A Battle—To conciliate the Clergy, Henry allows them to persecute the Protestants 72




The repentant Bilney preaches in the Fields—His Enemies and his Friends—Bilney put into Prison, where he meets Petit—Disputation xxiand Trial—Bilney condemned to die—The parting Visit of his Friends—He is led out to Punishment—His last Words—His Death—Imprisonment and Martyrdom of Bayfield—Tewkesbury bound to the Tree of Truth—His Death—Numerous Martyrs 77



(March to May 1532.)

Character of Thomas Cromwell—Abolition of First-Fruits—The Clergy bend before the King—Two contradictory Oaths—Priestly Rumors—Sir Thomas More resigns—The two Evils of a regal Reform 86




The Perils of a prosperous Nation—Lambert and free Inquiry—Luther’s Principles—Images or the Word of God—Freedom of Preaching—St. Paul burnt by the Bishop—Latimer disgusted with the Court—More Thieves than Shepherds—A Don Quixote of Catholicism—Latimer summoned before the Primate—His Firmness—Attempt to entrap Him—His Refusal to recant—Excommunicated—Expedient of the Bishops—Latimer saved by his Conformity with Luther 91




The Franciscans preach against the King—Henry likened to Ahab—Disturbance in the Chapel—Christian Meetings in xxiiLondon—Bainham persecuted by More—Summoned to abjure—The fatal Kiss—Bainham’s Anguish—The Tragedy of Conscience—Bainham visited in his Dungeon—The Bed of Roses—The Persecutor’s Suicide—Effect of the Martyrdoms—The true Church of God 103



(February 1532 to March 1533.)

Who shall be Warham’s Successor?—Cranmer at Nuremberg—Osiander’s Household—His Error—Cranmer marries—Is recalled to London—Refuses to return—Follows the Emperor to Italy—Date of Henry’s Marriage with Anne Boleyn—Cranmer returns to London—Struggle between the King and Cranmer—The Pope has no Authority in England—Appointment of Bishops without the Pope—Cranmer protests thrice—All Weakness is a Fault—The true Doctrine of the Episcopate—The Appeal of the Reformers 112



(November 1532 to July 1553.)

Clement suggests that Henry should have two Wives—His perilous Journey to Bologna—His Exertions for the Divorce—King’s Marriage with Anne becomes known—France and England separate—A threatening Brief—The Pope perplexed—Parliament emancipates England—Cranmer’s Letter to the King—Modification demanded by the King—Henry expresses himself clearly—Meeting of the Ecclesiastical Court—Catherine’s Firmness—Her Marriage annulled—Queen Anne presented to the People—Her Progress through the City—Feelings of the new Queen—Catherine and Anne—Threats of the Pope and the King 125



(August 1532 to May 1533.)

Fryth’s charming Character—He returns to England—Purgatory—Homer saves Fryth—The eating of Christ—Fryth goes over England—Tyndale’s Letter to Fryth—More Hunts after Fryth—More’s Ill-temper—More and Fryth—Fryth in Prison—He writes the Bulwark—Rastell converted—Fryth’s Visitors in the Tower—Fryth and Petit—Cause and Effect 139



(May to July 1533.)

Fryth summoned before a Royal Commission—Tyndale’s Letter to Fryth—Cranmer attempts to save him—Lord Fitzwilliam, Governor of the Tower—Fryth removed to Lambeth—Attempt at Conciliation—Fryth remains firm—A Prophecy concerning the Lord’s Supper—The Gentleman and the Porter desire to save Fryth—Their Plan—Fryth will not be saved—Fryth before the Episcopal Court—Interrogated on the Real Presence—Cranmer cannot save him—Fryth’s Condemnation and Execution—Influence of his Writings 150




Sensation caused by Anne’s Marriage—Henry’s Isolation—The Protestants reject him—Birth of Elizabeth—A new Star—English Envoys at Marseilles—Bonner and Gardiner—Prepare for a Declaration of War—The Pope’s Emotion—Henry appeals to a General Council—The Pope’s Anger—Francis I. and Clement understand one another—The Pope’s Answer—Bonner’s Rudeness—Henry’s Proclamation against the Pope—The dividing Point 163



(January to March 1534.)

Henry desires to separate Christendom from Rome—A Buffet to the Pope—The People, not the King, want the Reformation—The Pope tries to gain Henry—Cranmer presses forward—The Commons against Papal Authority—Abolition of Romish Exactions—Parliament declares for the faith of the Scriptures—Henry condemned at Rome—The Pope’s Disquietude—A great Dispensation 175





(July 1533.)

The Bishop desires to bury the Sect—Animated Conversations—Plan to transfer the Prisoners—Great Animation—German Merchants and Maisonneuve—He desires to rescue the Prisoners—Constitutional Order restored—The Bishop wishes to get away—His last Night in Geneva—The Flight—Deliverance—Joy and Sorrow—A Proverb 184



(July to December 1533.)

Arrival of Froment and Alexander—The Charitable Solomon—Order to preach according to Scripture—Sermons in the xxvHouses and the Streets—The Bishop forbids the Preaching of the Gospel—Silent Answer—Invitation to a Great Papist Preacher—Arrival of Furbity—He declaims against the Reading of the Bible—Janin the Armorer—Reformers insulted; Exultation of the Priests—Furbity challenges the Lutherans to Discussion—Froment’s Reply—Tumult—Froment and Alexander banished—De la Maisonneuve departs for Berne 194



(December 1533 to January 1534.)

Report that Popery had triumphed—Arrival of Farel—His Character—Baudichon de la Maisonneuve—Bernese Complaints and Demands—A Plot breaks out—Armed Meetings of Huguenots for Worship—Christmas and the New Year—The Dominican’s Farewell—Arming for the Bible—Arrival of Ambassadors from Berne—Three Reformers in Geneva—Bernese demand a Public Discussion 206



(January to February 1534.)

The Dominican refuses to speak—Liberalism and Inflexibility—The Colloquy begins—Various Accusations—Were the Bernese pointed at?—The two Champions—The Pope and the Scriptures—Interpretation of the Councils—The Priests would be Everything—Farel’s Irony and Vehemence—The Roman Episcopate—Preaching and Conversation—Stories about Farel—The Landlord and his Servant—Legends and Rhymes—A Change in Preparation 217



(January and February 1534.)

Supreme Interest of History—The Bishop meditates a Coup d’État—Meeting of his Creatures to carry it out—The Sortie from the Palace—Two Huguenots assassinated—The Defenders of xxvithe Middle Ages—Tumult in the city—Consternation in the Council—Justice, not Rioting—Search at the Palace—Scenes and Discovery—The Murderers sought in the Cathedral—The South Tower—The Criminals discovered—Seizure of Documents relating to the Plot—Condemnation and Fanaticism of the Murderer—He is hanged; his Brother is saved—The Episcopal Secretary accused—The People elect a Huguenot Council 229



(February 10 to March 1, 1534.)

The Dominican before his judges—A staggering Recantation—Dominicans and Franciscans—Father Coutelier, Superior of the Franciscans, arrives—His first Sermon—He talks white and black—Has recourse to Flattery—A Baptism at Maisonneuve’s—Evangelicals ask for a Church—Farel visits the Father Superior—The Pope, the Beast of the Apocalypse 243



(March 1 to April 25, 1534.)

Huguenots in the Convent of Rive—Arrival of the Crowd—Farel preaches—Two opposite Effects—Inspiration of God—Joy of the Evangelicals—Farewell of the Bernese—Portier’s Execution—The two Preachers—The Friburgers break the Alliance—Farel’s three Brothers in Prison—The Reformer’s Anxiety—Human Affections 251



(1530 TO 1534.)

The Reliquary—A Table d’Hôte—Who is Petrus?—Struggle with two Priests from Vienne—They abandon the Field—Maisonneuve must be burnt—Danger—Arrival of Baudichon and Janin—They are sent to Prison—Formation of the Court 261



(From April 29 to May 21.)

Examination—First Witnesses—Emotion at Geneva—The Merchants protest to the Consulate—The Bernese—Interrogatory—Open-air Session in Front of the Palace—The King shall be informed—The Inquisitors desire to convict Baudichon—Alleged High Treason against Heaven 269



(May to July 1534.)

Morality in the Reformation—Apparition of the Virgin—A Savoyard Procession—A second Procession enters Geneva—Images thrown down—The old and the new Worship—The first Evangelical Pentecost—A Priest casts off the old Man—Transformation—A Knight of Rhodes—Street Dances and Songs—Preaching on the Ramparts 277



(May to June 1534.)

The New Testament in the Prison Garden—Discussion—The Procession and the Rogations—False Depositions—Janin’s Depression—Search for more conclusive Evidence—Inquiries of De Simieux at Geneva—-Baudichon’s Pride before the Court—Put into Solitary Confinement—The Prisoner threatens his Judges—Heroic Resistance 286



(July 1534.)

Severity to Maisonneuve—Coutelier’s Deposition—Maisonneuve xxviiiaccused of relapsing—The Crime of being a Layman—Lyon and Chambury contend for him—Final Summons—Sentence of the Court—Condemned to Death—No sword in Religion—The effectual Remedy 295



(July 1534.)

Festival of Corpus Christi—Marriage of an Ex-Priest—Discussion before the Council—Baptism—The two Powers change Parts—An Attack preparing—A Hunting Party—A Monk in the Pulpit confesses his Faults—Plan of Attack—Projects of the Enemy—Arrival of the Savoyards—Warning given by a Dauphinese—The Canons—Savoyards wait for the Signal—The Torch—Savoyards retire—The Bishop—The Hunchback—The Conspirators flee—Meditation and Vigilance—Catholics quit Geneva—Title to Citizenship—Alarm of the Nuns—Tales about the Reformers 303



(August and September 1534.)

The Diesbachs of Berne—Mission of Rodolph of Diesbach to France—a terrible Necessity—Resolution to destroy the Suburbs—Approaching Danger—A Refugee from Avignon—Strappado at Peny—Effects produced by the Order of Demolition—Opposition of Catholics—Maisonneuve is liberated—Session at the Tour of Perse—The Prisoners restored to their Families—Letter from Francis I.—Furbity demanded and refused 320



(September 1534 to January 1535.)

Disorderly Lives of the Monks of St Victor—Ruins and Voices in the Priory—Lamentations—Ramparts built—Asylums xxixopened for the Poor—Threats—Famine and a Circle of Iron—Brigandage—No more Justice—Excommunication—Genevans appeal to the Pope—Firmness for the Gospel and Liberty—Everything conspires against the City—Energy and Moderation—Switzerland against Geneva—Confidence in God—Wisdom above Strength—The Song of Resurrection 332



(End of 1584 to August 1535.)

Minority and Majority—Joy and Fear—Difference between Henry VIII. and Francis I.—Erasmians and Politicians—The Moderate Evangelicals—Effect of the Placards—The King tries to excuse himself—Protests of the decided Protestants—Opinion of the Swiss—All Hope seems lost—A reforming Pope—Papist Party in France—The Moderate Party—The two Du Bellays—What is expected of Melancthon—Two Obstacles removed—Efforts of the Mediators—What they think of Francis I.—An eloquent Appeal—Importance of France for the Reformation—Melancthon tries to gain the Bishop of Paris—The Bishop delighted—Francis I. to Melancthon—Is he sincere?—Martyrdom of Cornon and Brion—Cardinal Du Bellay departs for Rome—Hope of Reform in Italy—The diplomatic Du Bellay to Melancthon—Two Natures in France—Fresh Entreaties—The King’s Idea—Applies to the Sorbonne—Alarm of the Sorbonne—Trick of Cardinal de Tournon—Is a Mixed Congress possible? 346



(August to November 1535.)

Individuality and Catholicity—Events in Germany—Importance of the Mission to Germany—Melancthon’s Incertitude—Earnestness of the French Envoy—Opposition of his Family—Melancthon’s Self-examination—Final Assault—Melancthon consents—His Character—He goes to the Elector—Solicits xxxPermission—The Elector refuses—Melancthon’s Sadness—-Luther agrees with him—Intervention with the Elector—Agitation in Germany—Singular Fears of the Germans—The Elector’s Arguments—The Elector prevails—Severe Letter to Melancthon—Melancthon’s Sorrow—Luther’s Apprehensions Keeping aloof from the State—The Elector to the King—Melancthon to Francis I.—He does not relinquish his Design—His Ardor—The King resumes his Project—Opposition of the Catholics—The Elector receives Du Bellay—Du Bellay before the Assembly—His Speech—Intercession in Behalf of the Evangelicals—The Two Parties come to an Understanding—The Papacy—Transubstantiation—The Mass—Images—Free Will—Purgatory—Good Works—Monasteries—Celibacy—The two Kinds—The Sorbonne and Justification—The Reform of Francis I.—Intervention in behalf of the Oppressed—Political Alliance—Francis I. plays two parts—The Communion of Saints 372



(1519 TO 1536.)

Flames in Italy—The Bookseller of Pavia—The Books of the Reformers—Enthusiasm for Luther—Alarm of the Pope and Cardinals—Venice—Roselli to Melancthon—Many Springs of living Water—Curione—His studies and Spiritual Wants—Reads Luther and Zwingle—Departs for Germany—Is arrested and sent to the Convent of St. Benignus—The Shrine and the Bible—Curione during the Plague—The Preachers of Popery—Attack and Defence—Curione sent to Prison—Chained to the Wall—He recognizes the Room—Seeks a means of Safety—Singular Expedient—His Escape—He teaches at Pavia—Renée of France—Mecænas and Dorcas—Resurrection of Christianity—The Duchess’s Guests 406



(1520 TO 1536.)

Character of Occhino—Seeks Salvation in Asceticism—A Contrast—Scripture—Occhino’s Itinerant Ministrations—Crowded Congregations—His Preaching—A Child of Florence—Ambitious xxxiof Learning—-Study and Preaching—Aonio Paleario—Leaves Rome for Sienna—Poem on Immortality—Paleario crosses the Threshold—His Wife and Children—Love of the Country—His friend Bellantes—Conspiracy against Paleario—Faustus Bellantes informs him of it—Paleario remains firm—His Wife—The Reformers—Twelve Accusers—They appear before the Archbishop—Everything seems against Paleario—His Fears—He appears before the Senate—He defends himself—The Germans—Plea for the Reformers—Revival of Learning—Jesus Christ a Stumbling-block—The Martyr’s Words—Paleario’s Wife and Friends—His Acquittal and Departure—The Evangelicals of Bologna—Their Address to the Saxon Ambassador—St. Paul explained 428



(1520 TO 1536.)

Alfonso Valdez at Worms—A Dialogue by Valdez—The Chastisement of God—Approbation and Disapprobation—Mercury and Charon—Satan—Juan Valdez at Naples—Influence of Juan Valdez—Chiaja and Pausilippo—Conversion of Peter Martyr—His Method of Preaching—Purgatory—Opposition—Galeazzo Caraccioli converted—A Letter from Calvin—Illustrious Women at Chiaja—Ideas there discussed—Occhino preaches at Naples—The Triumvirs—Charles V. arrives at Naples—Conversation between Giulia Colonna and Valdez—Perfection—Assurance of Salvation—Humility—The royal Road—Meditations—Preachers of Fables—Valdez’ good and bad Qualities—Edict against the Lutherans—Carnesecchi—Secretary to Clement VII.—Interview with Charles V.—Carnesecchi’s Conversion—Divers Categories—Flaminio—A poor Student—Values the Treasures of Heaven—The Guest of Ghiberto and Caraffa—Flaminio’s Faith—Opposes and loves Carnesecchi—Approximates Catholicism—Oratory of Divine Love—Its Members—An Evangelical Monk—A Venetian Senator—Contarini’s Influence—Strange Call—He accepts the Cardinalate—Preserves his Independence—Contarini’s View—Dawn in Italy—The two Camps—Hopes—The Times of Rome—Glory to the Martyrs 454



(Autumn 1529.)

England, during the period of which we are about to treat, began to separate from the pope and to reform her Church. In the history of that country the fall of Wolsey divides the old times from the new.

The level of the laity was gradually rising. A certain instruction was given to the children of the poor; the universities were frequented by the upper classes, and the king was probably the most learned prince in Christendom. At the same time the clerical level was falling. The clergy had been weakened and corrupted by its triumphs, and the English, awakening with the age and opening their eyes at last, were disgusted with the pride, ignorance, and disorders of the priests.

While France, flattered by Rome calling her its eldest daughter, desired even when reforming her doctrine to preserve union with the papacy; the Anglo-Saxon race, jealous 2of their liberties, desired to form a Church at once national and independent, yet remaining faithful to the doctrines of Catholicism. Henry VIII. is the personification of that tendency, which did not disappear with him, and of which it would not be difficult to discover traces even in later days.

Other elements calculated to produce a better reformation existed at that time in England. The Holy Scriptures, translated, studied, circulated, and preached since the fourteenth century by Wickliffe and his disciples, became in the sixteenth century, by the publication of Erasmus’s Testament, and the translations of Tyndale and Coverdale, the powerful instrument of a real evangelical revival, and created the scriptural reformation.

These early developments did not proceed from Calvin,—he was too young at that time; but Tyndale, Fryth, Latimer, and the other evangelists of the reign of Henry VIII., taught by the same Word as the reformer of Geneva, were his brethren and his precursors. Somewhat later, his books and his letters to Edward VI., to the regent, to the primate, to Sir W. Cecil and others, exercised an indisputable influence over the reformation of England. We find in those letters proofs of the esteem which the most intelligent persons of the kingdom felt for that simple and strong man, whom even non-protestant voices in France have declared to be “the greatest Christian of his age.”[5]

Reform, Evangelical and Legal.

A religious reformation may be of two kinds: internal or evangelical, external or legal. The evangelical reformation began at Oxford and Cambridge almost at the same time as in Germany. The legal reformation was making a beginning at Westminster and Whitehall. Students, priests, and laymen, moved by inspiration from on high, had inaugurated the first; Henry VIII. and his parliament were about to inaugurate the second, with hands occasionally somewhat rough. England began with the spiritual reformation, but 3the other had its motives too. Those who are charmed by the reformation of Germany sometimes affect contempt for that of England. “A king impelled by his passions was its author,” they say. We have placed the scriptural part of this great transformation in the first rank; but we confess that for it to lay hold upon the people in the sixteenth century, it was necessary, as the prophet declared, that kings should be its nursing-fathers, and queens its nursing-mothers.[6] If diverse reforms were necessary, if by the side of German cordiality, Swiss simplicity, and other characteristics, God willed to found a protestantism possessing a strong hand and an outstretched arm; if a nation was to exist which with great freedom and power should carry the Gospel to the ends of the world, special tools were required to form that robust organization, and the leaders of the people—the commons, lords, and king—were each to play their part. France had nothing like this: both princes and parliaments opposed the reform; and thence partly arises the difference between those two great nations, for France had in Calvin a mightier reformer than any of those whom England possessed. But let us not forget that we are speaking of the sixteenth century. Since then the work has advanced; important changes have been wrought in Christendom; political society is growing daily more distinct from religious society, and more independent; and we willingly say with Pascal, “Glorious is the state of the Church when it is supported by God alone!”

Two opposing elements—the reforming liberalism of the people, and the almost absolute power of the king—combined in England to accomplish the legal reformation. In that singular island these two rival forces were often seen acting together; the liberalism of the nation gaining certain victories, the despotism of the prince gaining others; king and people agreeing to make mutual concessions. In the midst of these compromises, the little evangelical flock, which had no voice in such matters, religiously preserved 4the treasure entrusted to it: the Word of God, truth, liberty, and Christian virtue. From all these elements sprang the Church of England. A strange church some call it. Strange indeed, for there is none which corresponds so imperfectly in theory with the ideal of the Church, and, perhaps, none whose members work out with more power and grandeur the ends for which Christ has formed his kingdom.

New Parliament Summoned.

Scarcely had Henry VIII. refused to go to Rome to plead his cause, when he issued writs for a new parliament (25th September, 1529). Wolsey’s unpopularity had hitherto prevented its meeting: now the force of circumstances constrained the king to summon it. When he was on the eve of separating from the pope, he felt the necessity of leaning on the people. Liberty is always the gainer where a country performs an act of independence with regard to Rome. Permission being granted in England that the Holy Scriptures should regulate matters of religion, it was natural that permission should also be given to the people and their representatives to regulate matters of state. The whole kingdom was astir, and the different parties became more distinct.

The papal party was alarmed. Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, already very uneasy, became disturbed at seeing laymen called upon to give their advice on religious matters. Men’s minds were in a ferment in the bishop’s palace, the rural parsonage, and the monk’s cell. The partisans of Rome met and consulted about what was to be done, and retired from their conferences foreseeing and imagining nothing but defeat. Du Bellay, at that time Bishop of Bayonne, and afterwards of Paris, envoy from the King of France, and eye-witness of all this agitation, wrote to Montmorency; “I fancy that in this parliament the priests will have a terrible fright.”[7] Ambitious ecclesiastics were beginning to understand that the clerical character, hitherto so favorable to their advancement in a political career, would 5now be an obstacle to them. “Alas!” exclaimed one of them, “we must off with our frocks.”[8]

Such of the clergy, however, as determined to remain faithful to Rome gradually roused themselves. A prelate put himself at their head. Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, was learned, intelligent, bold, and slightly fanatical; but his convictions were sincere, and he was determined to sacrifice everything for the maintenance of catholicism in England. Though discontented with the path upon which his august pupil King Henry had entered, he did not despair of the future, and candidly applied to the papacy our Saviour’s words,—The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

A recent act of the king’s increased Fisher’s hopes. Sir Thomas More had been appointed chancellor. The Bishop of Rochester regretted, indeed, that the king had not given that office to an ecclesiastic, as was customary; but he thought to himself that a layman wholly devoted to the Church, as the new chancellor was, might possibly, in those strange times, be more useful to it than a priest. With Fisher in the Church, and More in the State (for Sir Thomas, in spite of his gentle Utopia, was more papistical and more violent than Wolsey), had the papacy anything to fear? The whole Romish party rallied round these two men, and with them prepared to fight against the Reformation.

Opposed to this hierarchical party was the political party, in whose eyes the king’s will was the supreme rule. The Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, president and vice-president of the Council, Sir William Fitz-William, lord-admiral, and those who agreed with them, were opposed to the ecclesiastical domination, not from the love of true religion, but because they believed the prerogatives of the State were endangered by the ambition of the priests, or else because, seeking honor and power for themselves, they were impatient at always encountering insatiable clerks on their path.

Between these two parties a third appeared, on whom 6the bishops and nobles looked with disdain, but with whom the victory was to rest at last. In the towns and villages of England, and especially in London, were to be found many lowly men, animated with a new life,—poor artisans, weavers, cobblers, painters, shopkeepers,—who believed in the Word of God, and had received moral liberty from it. During the day they toiled at their respective occupations; but at night they stole along some narrow lane, slipped into a court, and ascended to some upper room in which other persons had already assembled. There they read the Scriptures and prayed. At times even during the day, they might be seen carrying to well-disposed citizens certain books strictly prohibited by the late cardinal. Organized under the name of “The Society of Christian Brethren,” they had a central committee in London, and missionaries everywhere, who distributed the Holy Scriptures and explained their lessons in simple language. Several priests, both in the city and country, belonged to their society.

This Christian brotherhood exercised a powerful influence over the people, and was beginning to substitute the spiritual and life-giving principles of the Gospel for the legal and theocratic ideas of popery. These pious men required a moral regeneration in their hearers, and entreated them to enter, through faith in the Saviour, into an intimate relation with God, without having recourse to the mediation of the clergy; and those who listened to them, enraptured at hearing of truth, grace, morality, liberty, and of the Word of God, took the teachings to heart. Thus began a new era. It has been asserted that the Reformation entered England by a back-door. Not so; it was the true door these missionaries opened, having even prior to the rupture with Rome preached the doctrine of Christ.[9] Idly do men speak of Henry’s passions, the intrigues of his courtiers, the parade of his ambassadors, the skill of his ministers, the complaisance of the clergy, and the vacillations of parliament. 7We, too, shall speak of these things; but above them all there was something else, something better,—the thirst exhibited in this island for the Word of God, and the internal transformation accomplished in the convictions of a great number of its inhabitants. This it was that worked such a powerful revolution in British society.

Table Talk.

In the interval between the issuing of the writs and the meeting of parliament, the most antagonistic opinions came out. Conversation everywhere turned on present and future events, and there was a general feeling that the country was on the eve of great changes. The members of parliament who arrived in London gathered round the same table to discuss the questions of the day. The great lords gave sumptuous banquets, at which the guests talked about the abuses of the Church, of the approaching session of parliament, and of what might result from it.[10] One would mention some striking instance of the avarice of the priests; another slyly called to mind the strange privilege which permitted them to commit, with impunity, certain sins which they punished severely in others. “There are, even in London, houses of ill-fame for the use of priests, monks, and canons.[11] And,” added others, “they would force us to take such men as these for our guides to heaven.” Du Bellay, the French ambassador, a man of letters, who, although a bishop, had attached Rabelais to his person in the quality of secretary, was frequently invited to parties given by the great lords. He lent an attentive ear, and was astonished at the witty, and often very biting remarks uttered by the guests against the disorders of the priests. One day a voice exclaimed,—“Since Wolsey has fallen, we must forthwith regulate the condition of the Church and of its ministers. We will seize their property.” Du Bellay, on his return home, did not fail to communicate these things to Montmorency. “I have no need,” he says, “to write this strange 8language in cipher; for the noble lords utter it at open table. I think they will do something to be talked about.”[12]

The leading members of the Commons held more serious meetings with one another. They said they had spoken enough, and that now they must act. They specified the abuses they would claim to have redressed, and prepared petitions for reform to be presented to the king.

Before long the movement descended from the sphere of the nobility to that of the people; a sphere always important, and particularly when a social revolution is in progress. Petty tradesmen and artisans spoke more energetically than the lords. They did more than speak. The apparitor of the Bishop of London having entered the shop of a mercer in the ward of St. Bride, and left a summons on the counter calling upon him to pay a certain clerical tax, the indignant tradesman took up his yard-measure, whereupon the officer drew his sword, and then, either from fear or an evil conscience, ran away. The mercer followed him, assaulted him in the street, and broke his head. The London shopkeepers did not yet quite understand the representative system; they used their staves when they should have waited for the speeches of the members of parliament.

The king tolerated this agitation because it forwarded his purposes. There were advisers who insinuated that it was dangerous to give free course to the passions of the people, and that the English, combining great physical strength with a decided character, might go too far in the way of reform, if their prince gave them the rein. But Henry VIII., possessing an energetic will, thought it would be easy for him to check the popular ebullition whenever he pleased. When Jupiter frowned, all Olympus trembled.


(November 1529.)

Opening Of The New Parliament.

On the morning of the 3d of November, Henry went in his barge to the palace of Bridewell; and, having put on the magnificent robes employed on great ceremonies, and followed by the lords of his train, he proceeded to the Blackfriars church, in which the members of the new parliament had assembled. After hearing the mass of the Holy Ghost, king, lords, and commons met in parliament; when, as soon as the king had taken his seat on the throne, the new chancellor, Sir Thomas More, explained the reason of their being summoned. Thomas Audley, chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, was appointed speaker of the lower house.

Generally speaking, parliament confined itself to passing the resolutions of the government. The Great Charter had, indeed, been long in existence, but, until now, it had been little more than a dead letter. The Reformation gave it life. “Christ brings us out of bondage into liberty by means of the Gospel,” said Calvin.[13] This emancipation, which was essentially spiritual, soon extended to other spheres, and gave an impulse to liberty throughout all Christendom. Even in England such an impulse was needed. Under the Plantagenets and the Tudors the constitutional machine existed, but it worked only as it was directed by the strong hand of the master. Without the Reformation, England might have slumbered long.

The impulse given by religious truth to the latent liberties of the people was felt for the first time in the parliament of 101529. The representatives shared the lively feelings of their constituents, and took their seats with the firm resolve to introduce the necessary reforms in the affairs of both Church and State. Indeed, on the very first day several members pointed out the abuses of the clerical domination, and proposed to lay the desires of the people before the king.

The Commons might of their own accord have applied to the task, and, by proposing rash changes, have given the Reform a character of violence that might have worked confusion in the State; but they preferred petitioning the king to take the necessary measures to carry out the wishes of the nation; and accordingly a petition, respectfully worded, but in clear and strong language, was agreed to. The Reformation began in England, as in Switzerland and Germany, with personal conversions. The individual was reformed first; but it was necessary for the people to reform afterwards, and the measures requisite to success could not be taken, in the sixteenth century, without the participation of the governing powers. Freely, therefore, and nobly, a whole nation was about to express to their ruler their grievances and wishes.

Petition Of The Commons.

On one of the first days of the session the speaker and certain members, who had been ordered to accompany him, proceeded to the palace. “Your highness,” they began, “of late much discord, variance, and debate hath arisen, and more and more daily is likely to increase and ensue amongst your subjects, to the great inquietation, vexation, and breach of your peace, of which the chief causes followingly do ensue.”[14]

This opening could not fail to excite the king’s attention and the Speaker of the House of Commons began boldly to unroll the long list of the grievances of England. “First, the prelates of your most excellent realm, and the clergy of the same, have in their convocations made many and divers 11laws without your most royal assent, and without the assent of any of your lay subjects.

“And also many of your said subjects, and specially those that be of the poorest sort, be daily called before the said spiritual ordinaries or their commissaries, on the accusement of light and indiscreet persons, and be excommunicated and put to excessive and impostable charges.

“The prelates suffer the priests to exact divers sums of money for the sacraments, and sometimes deny the same without the money be first paid.

“Also the said spiritual ordinaries do daily confer and give sundry benefices unto certain young folks, calling them their nephews or kinsfolk, being in their minority and within age, not apt nor able to serve the cure of any such benefice ... whereby the said ordinaries accumulate to themselves large sums of money, and the poor silly souls of your people perish without doctrine or any good teaching.

“Also a great number of holydays be kept throughout this your realm, upon the which many great, abominable, and execrable vices, idle and wanton sports be used, which holydays might by your majesty be made fewer in number.

“And also the said spiritual ordinaries commit divers of your subjects to ward, before they know either the cause of their imprisonment, or the name of their accuser.”[15]

Thus far the Commons had confined themselves to questions that had been discussed more than once; they feared to touch upon the subject of heresy before the Defender of the Roman Faith. But there were evangelical men among their number who had been eye-witnesses of the sufferings of the reformed. At the peril, therefore, of offending the king, the Speaker boldly took up the defence of the pretended heretics.

“If heresy be ordinarily laid unto the charge of the person accused, the said ordinaries put to them such subtle interrogatories concerning the high mysteries of our faith, as are able quickly to trap a simple unlearned layman. 12And if any heresy be so confessed in word, yet never committed in thought or deed, they put the said person to make his purgation. And if the party so accused deny the accusation, witnesses of little truth or credence are brought forth for the same, and deliver the party so accused to secular hands.”

The Speaker was not satisfied with merely pointing out the disease: “We most humbly beseech your Grace, in whom the only remedy resteth, of your goodness to consent, so that besides the fervent love your Highness shall thereby engender in the hearts of all your Commons towards your Grace, ye shall do the most princely feat, and show the most charitable precedent that ever did sovereign lord upon his subjects.”

The king listened to the petition with his characteristic dignity, and also with a certain kindliness. He recognized the just demands in the petition of the Commons, and saw how far they would support the religious independence to which he aspired. Still, unwilling to take the part of heresy, he selected only the most crying abuses, and desired his faithful Commons to take their correction upon themselves. He then sent the petition to the bishops, requiring them to answer the charges brought against them, and added that henceforward his consent would be necessary to give the force of law to the acts of Convocation.

Reply Of The Bishops.

This royal communication was a thunderbolt to the prelates. What! the bishops, the successors of the apostles, accused by the representatives of the nation, and requested by the king to justify themselves like criminals!... Had the Commons of England forgotten what a priest was? These proud ecclesiastics thought only of the indelible virtues which, in their view, ordination had conferred upon them, and shut their eyes to the vices of their fallible human nature. We can understand their emotion, their embarrassment, and their anger. The Reformation which had made the tour of the continent was at the gates of England; the king was knocking at their doors. What was to be 13done? they could not tell. They assembled, and read the petition again and again. The Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Bishops of London, Lincoln, St. Asaph, and Rochester carped at it and replied to it. They would willingly have thrown it into the fire,—the best of answers in their opinion; but the king was waiting, and the Archbishop of Canterbury was commissioned to enlighten him.

Warham did not belong to the most fanatical party; he was a prudent man, and the wish for reform had hardly taken shape in England when, being uneasy and timid, he had hastened to give a certain satisfaction to his flock by reforming abuses which he had sanctioned for thirty years.[16] But he was a priest, a Romish priest; he represented an inflexible hierarchy. Strengthened by the clamors of his colleagues, he resolved to utter the famous non possumus, less powerful, however, in England than in Rome.

“Sire,” he said, “your Majesty’s Commons reproach us with uncharitable behavior.... On the contrary, we love them with hearty affection, and have only exercised the spiritual jurisdiction of the Church upon persons infected with the pestilent poison of heresy. To have peace with such had been against the gospel of our Saviour Christ, wherein he saith, I came not to send peace, but a sword.

“Your Grace’s Commons complain that the clergy daily do make laws repugnant to the statutes of your realm. We take our authority from the Scriptures of God, and shall always diligently apply to conform our statutes thereto; and we pray that your Highness will, with the assent of your people, temper your Grace’s laws accordingly; whereby shall ensue a most sure and hearty conjunction and agreement.

“They accuse us of committing to prison before conviction such as be suspected of heresy.... Truth it is that certain apostates, friars, monks, lewd priests, bankrupt merchants, vagabonds, and idle fellows of corrupt intent 14have embraced the abominable opinions lately sprung up in Germany; and by them some have been seduced in simplicity and ignorance. Against these, if judgment has been exercised according to the laws of the Church, we be without blame.

“They complain that two witnesses be admitted, be they never so defamed, to vex and trouble your subjects to the peril of their lives, shames, costs, and expenses.... To this we reply, the judge must esteem the quality of the witness; but in heresy no exception is necessary to be considered, if their tale be likely. This is the universal law of Christendom, and hath universally done good.

“They say that we give benefices to our nephews and kinsfolk, being in young age or infants, and that we take the profit of such benefices for the time of the minority of our said kinsfolk. If it be done to our own use and profit, it is not well; but if it be bestowed to the bringing up and use of the same parties, or applied to the maintenance of God’s service, we do not see but that it may be allowed.”

As for the irregular lives of the priests, the prelates remarked that they were condemned by the laws of the Church, and consequently there was nothing to be said on that point.

Lastly, the bishops seized the opportunity of taking the offensive:—“We entreat of your Grace to repress heresy. This we beg of you, lowly upon our knees, so entirely as we can.”[17]

Such was the brief of Roman Catholicism in England. Its defence would have sufficed to condemn it.


(End of 1529.)

Indignation At The Reply.

The answer of the bishops was criticised in the royal residence, in the House of Commons, at the meetings of the burgesses, in the streets of the capital, and in the provinces, everywhere exciting a lively indignation. “What!” said they, “the bishops accuse the most pious and active Christians of England,—men like Bilney, Fryth, Tyndale, and Latimer,—of that idleness and irregularity of which their monks and priests are continually showing us examples. To no purpose have the Commons indisputably proved their grievances, if the bishops reply to notorious facts by putting forward their scholastic system. We condemn their practice, and they take shelter behind their theories; as if the reproach laid against them was not precisely that their lives are in opposition to their laws. ‘The fault is not in the Church,’ they say. But it is its ministers that we accuse.”

The indignant parliament boldly took up the axe, attacked the tree, and cut off the withered and rotten branches. One bill followed another, irritating the clergy, but filling the people with joy. When the legacy dues were under discussion, one of the members drew a touching picture of the avarice and cruelty of the priests. “They have no compassion,” he said. “The children of the dead should all die of hunger and go begging, rather than they would of charity give to them the silly cow which the dead man owed, if he had only one.” There was a movement of indignation in the house, and they forbade the clergy to take any mortuary fees when the effects were small.

“And that is not all,” said another. “The clergy 16monopolize large tracts of land, and the poor are compelled to pay an extravagant price for whatever they buy. They are everything in the world but preachers of God’s Word and shepherds of souls. They buy and sell wool, cloth, and other merchandise; they keep tanneries and breweries.... How can they attend to their spiritual duties in the midst of such occupations?”[18] The clergy were consequently prohibited from holding large estates or carrying on the business of merchant, tanner, brewer, etc. At the same time plurality of benefices (some ignorant priests holding as many as ten or twelve) was forbidden, and residence was enforced. The Commons further enacted that any one seeking a dispensation for non-residence (even were the application made to the pope himself) should be liable to a heavy fine.

The clergy saw at last that they must reform. They forbade priests from keeping shops and taverns, playing at dice or other games of chance, passing through towns and villages with hawks and hounds, being present at unbecoming entertainments, and spending the night in suspected houses.[19] Convocation proceeded to enact severe penalties against these disorders, doubling them for adultery, and tripling them for incest. The laity asked how it was that the Church had waited so long before coming to this resolution, and whether these scandals had become criminal only because the Commons condemned them?

Bishops Accuse The Commons.

But the bishops who reformed the lower clergy did not intend to resign their own privileges. One day, when a bill relating to wills was laid before the upper house, the Archbishop of Canterbury and all the other prelates frowned, murmured, and looked uneasily around them.[20] They exclaimed that the Commons were heretics and schismatics, 17and almost called them infidels and atheists. In all places good men required that morality should again be united with religion, and that piety should not be made to consist merely in certain ceremonies, but in the awakening of the conscience, a lively faith, and holy conduct. The bishops, not discerning that God’s work was then being accomplished in the world, determined to maintain the ancient order of things at all risks.

Their efforts had some chance of success, for the House of Lords was essentially conservative. The Bishop of Rochester, a sincere but narrow-minded man, presuming on the respect inspired by his age and character, boldly came forward as the defender of the Church. “My lords,” he said, “these bills have no other object than the destruction of the Church; and, if the Church goes down, all the glory of the kingdom will fall with it. Remember what happened to the Bohemians. Like them our Commons cry out,—‘Down with the Church!’ Whence cometh that cry? Simply from lack of faith.... My lords, save the country, save the Church.”

This speech made the Commons very indignant. Some members thought the bishop denied that they were Christians. They sent thirty of their leading men to the king. “Sire,” said the Speaker, “it is an attaint upon the honor of your Majesty to calumniate before the upper house those whom your subjects have elected. They are accused of lack of faith, that is to say, they are no better than Turks, Saracens, and heathens. Be pleased to call before you the bishop who has insulted your Commons.”

The king made a gracious reply, and immediately sent one of his officers to invite the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of Rochester, and six other prelates to appear before him. They came, quite uneasy as to what the prince might have to say to them. They knew that, like all the Plantagenets, Henry VIII. would not suffer his clergy to resist him. Immediately the king informed them of the complaint made by the Commons, their hearts sank, and 18they lost courage. They thought only how to escape the prince’s anger, and the most venerated among them, Fisher, having recourse to falsehood, asserted that, when speaking about “lack of faith,” he had not thought of the Commons of England, but of the Bohemians only. The other prelates confirmed this inadmissible interpretation. This was a graver fault than the fault itself, and the unbecoming evasion was a defeat to the clerical party from which they never recovered. The king allowed the excuse; but he afterwards made the bishops feel the little esteem he entertained for them. As for the House of Commons, it loudly expressed the disdain aroused in them by the bishops’ subterfuge.

One chance of safety still remained to them. Mixed committees of the two houses examined the resolutions of the Commons. The peers, especially the ecclesiastical peers, opposed the reform by appealing to usage. “Usage!” ironically observed a Gray’s-inn lawyer; “the usage hath ever been of thieves to rob on Shooter’s hill, ergo it is lawful, and ought to be kept up!” This remark sorely irritated the prelates: “What! our acts are compared to robberies!” But the lawyer, addressing the Archbishop of Canterbury, seriously endeavored to prove to him that the exactions of the clergy, in the matter of probates and mortuaries, were open robbery. The temporal lords gradually adopted the opinions of the Commons.

In the midst of these debates, the king did not lose sight of his own interests. Six years before, he had raised a loan among his subjects; he thought parliament ought to relieve him of this debt. This demand was opposed by the members most devoted to the principle of the Reformation; John Petit, in particular, the friend of Bilney and Tyndale, said, in parliament,—“I give the king all I lent him; but I cannot give him what others have lent him.” Henry was not, however, discouraged, and finally obtained the act required.

Pluralism Abolished.

The king soon showed that he was pleased with the Commons. Two bills met with a stern opposition from the Lords; they were those abolishing pluralism and non-residence. 19These two customs were so convenient and advantageous that the clergy determined not to give them up. Henry, seeing that the two houses would never agree, resolved to cut the difficulty. At his desire eight members from each met one afternoon in the Star Chamber. There was an animated discussion; but the lay lords, who were in the conference, taking part with the commons, the bishops were forced to yield. The two bills passed the Lords the next day, and received the king’s assent. After this triumph the king adjourned parliament in the middle of December.

The different reforms that had been carried through were important, but they were not the Reformation. Many abuses were corrected, but the doctrines remained unaltered; the power of the clergy was restricted, but the authority of Christ was not increased; the dry branches of the tree had been lopped off, but a scion calculated to bear good fruit had not been grafted on the wild stock. Had matters stopped here, we might perhaps have obtained a Church with morals less repulsive, but not with a holy doctrine and a new life. But the Reformation was not contented with more decorous forms, it required a second creation.

At the same time parliament had taken a great stride towards the revolution that was to transform the Church. A new power had taken its place in the world: the laity had triumphed over the clergy. No doubt there were upright catholics who gave their assent to the laws passed in 1529; but these laws were nevertheless a product of the Reformation. This it was that had inspired the laity with that new energy, parliament with that bold action, and given the liberties of the nation that impulse which they had wanted hitherto. The joy was great throughout the kingdom; and, while the king removed to Greenwich to keep Christmas there “with great plenty of viands, and disguisings, and interludes,” the members of the Commons were welcomed in the towns and villages with public rejoicings.[21] In the 20people’s eyes their representatives were like soldiers who had just gained a brilliant victory. The clergy alone, in all England, were downcast and exasperated. On returning to their residences the bishops could not conceal their anguish at the danger of the Church.[22] The priests, who had been the first victims offered up on the altar of reform, bent their heads. But if the clergy foresaw days of mourning, the laity hailed with joy the glorious era of the liberties of the people, and of the greatness of England. The friends of the Reformation went farther still; they believed that the Gospel would work a complete change in the world, and talked, as Tyndale informs us, “as though the golden age would come again.”[23]

(Winter of 1530.)

Before such glorious hopes could be realized, it was necessary to emancipate Great Britain from the yoke of Romish supremacy. This was the end to which all generous monks aspired; but would the king assist them?

Henry’s Motives.

Henry VIII. united strength of body with strength of will; both were marked on his manly form. Lively, active, eager, vehement, impatient, and voluptuous,—whatever he was, he was with his whole soul. He was at first all heart for the Church of Rome; he went barefoot on pilgrimages, wrote against Luther, and flattered the pope. But before long he grew tired of Rome, without desiring the Reformation. 21Profoundly selfish, he cared for himself alone. If the papal domination offended him, evangelical liberty annoyed him. He meant to remain master in his own house,—the only master, and master of all. Even without the divorce, Henry would possibly have separated from Rome. Rather than endure any contradiction, this singular man put to death friends and enemies, bishops and missionaries, ministers of state, and favorites—even his wives. Such was the prince whom the Reformation found King of England.

History would be unjust, however, were it to maintain that passion alone urged him to action. The question of the succession to the throne had for a century filled the country with confusion and blood. This Henry could not forget. Would the struggles of the two Roses be renewed after his death, occasioning, perhaps, the destruction of an ancient monarchy? If Mary, a princess of delicate health, should die, Scotland, France, the party of the White Rose, the Duke of Suffolk, whose wife was Henry’s sister, might drag the kingdom into endless wars. And even if Mary’s days were prolonged, her title to the crown might be disputed, no female sovereign having as yet sat upon the throne. Another train of ideas also occupied the king’s mind. He inquired sincerely whether his marriage with the widow of his brother was lawful. Even before its consummation, he had felt doubts about it. But even his defenders, if there are any, must acknowledge that one circumstance contributed at this time to give unusual force to these scruples. Passion impelled the king to break a holy bond; he loved another woman.

Catholic writers imagine that this guilty motive was the only one. It is a mistake, for the two former indisputably occupied Henry’s mind. As for parliament and people, the king’s love for Anne Boleyn affected them very little. It was the reason of state which made them regard the divorce as just and necessary.[24]

22A congress was at that time sitting at Bologna with great pomp.[25] On the 5th of November, Charles V. having arrived from Spain, had entered the city, attended by a magnificent suite, and followed by 20,000 soldiers. He was covered with gold, and shone with grace and majesty. The pope waited for him in front of the church of San Petronio, seated on a throne, and wearing the triple crown. The emperor, master of Italy, which his soldiers had reduced to the last desolation,[26] fell prostrate before the pontiff, but lately his prisoner. The union of these two monarchs, both enemies of Henry VIII., seemed destined to ruin the King of England and thwart his great affair.

Henry’s Embassy To Rome.

And yet, not long before, an ambassador from Charles V. had been received at Whitehall: it was Master Eustace Chappuis, who had already discharged a mission to Geneva.[27] He came to solicit aid against the Turks. Henry caught at the chance: he imagined the moment to be favorable, and that he ought to despatch an embassy to the head of the empire and the head of the Church. He sent for the Earl of Wiltshire, Anne Boleyn’s father; Edward Lee, afterwards Archbishop of York; Stokesley, afterwards Bishop of London, and some others. He told them that the emperor desired his alliance, and commissioned them to proceed to Italy, and explain to Charles V. the serious motives that induced him to separate from Catherine. “If he persists in his opposition to the divorce,” continued Henry, “threaten him, but in covert terms. If the threats prove useless, tell him plainly that, in accord with my friends, I will do all I can to restore peace to my troubled conscience.” He added with more calmness,—“I am resolved to fear God rather than man, and to place full reliance on comfort from the Saviour.”[28] Was Henry sincere when he spoke thus? No 23one can doubt of his sensuality, his scholastic catholicism, and his cruel violence:—must we also believe in his hypocrisy? He was no doubt under a delusion, and deceived himself on the state of his soul.

An important member was added to the deputation. One day when the king was occupied with this affair, Thomas Cranmer appeared at the door of his closet with a manuscript in his hand. Cranmer had a fine understanding, a warm heart, a character perhaps too weak, but extensive learning. Captivated by the Holy Scriptures, he desired to seek for truth nowhere else. He had suggested a new point of view to Henry VIII. “The essential thing,” he said, “is to know what the Word of God teaches on the matter in question.” “Show me that,” exclaimed the king. Cranmer brought him his treatise, in which he proved that the Word of God is above all human jurisdiction, and that it forbids marriage with a brother’s widow. Henry took the work in his hand, read it again and again, and praised its excellence. A bright idea occurred to him. “Are you strong enough to maintain before the Bishop of Rome the propositions laid down in this treatise?” said the king. Cranmer was timid, but convinced and devoted. “Yes,” he made answer, “with God’s grace, and if your Majesty commands it.” “Marry, then,” exclaimed Henry with delight, “I will send you.”[29] Cranmer departed with the others in January, 1530.

Clement’s Alarm.

While Henry’s ambassadors were journeying slowly, Charles V., more exasperated than ever against the divorce, endeavored to gain the pope. Clement VII., who was a clever man, and possessed a certain kindly humor, but was at heart cunning, false, and cowardly, amused the puissant emperor with words. When he learned that the King of England was sending an embassy to him, he gave way to the keenest sorrow. What was he to do? which way could he turn? To irritate the emperor was dangerous; to separate England from Rome would be to endure a great 24loss. Caught between Charles V. and Henry VIII., he groaned aloud; he paced up and down his chamber gesticulating; then suddenly stopping, sank into a chair and burst into tears. Nothing succeeded with him: it was, he thought, as if he had been bewitched. What need was there for the King of England to send him an embassy? Had not Clement told Henry through the Bishop of Tarbes: “I am content the marriage should take place, provided it be without my authorization.”[30] It was of no use: the pope asked him to do without the papacy, and the king would only act with it. He was more popish than the pope.

To add to his misfortunes, Charles began to press the pontiff more seriously, and yielding to his importunities, Clement drew up a brief on the 7th of March, in which he commanded Henry “to receive Catherine with love, and to treat her in all things with the affection of a husband.”[31] But the brief was scarcely written when the arrival of the English embassy was announced. The pope in alarm immediately put the document back into his portfolio, promising himself that it would be long before he published it.

As soon as the English envoys had taken up their quarters at Bologna, the ambassadors of France called to pay their respects. De Gramont, Bishop of Tarbes, was overflowing with politeness, especially to the Earl of Wiltshire. “I have shown much honor to M. de Rochford,” he wrote to his master on the 28th of March. “I went out to meet him. I have visited him often at his lodging. I have fêted him, and offered him my solicitations and services, telling him that such were your orders.”[32] Not thus did Clement VII. act: the arrival of the Earl of Wiltshire and his colleagues was a cause of alarm to him. Yet he must make up his mind to receive them: he appointed the day and the hour for the audience.

25Henry VIII. desired that his representatives should appear with great pomp, and accordingly the ambassador and his colleagues went to great expense with that intent.[33] Wiltshire entered first into the audience-hall; being father of Anne Boleyn, he had been appointed by the king as the man in all England most interested in the success of his plans. But Henry had calculated badly: the personal interest which the earl felt in the divorce made him odious both to Charles and Clement. The pope, wearing his pontifical robes, was seated on the throne surrounded by his cardinals. The ambassadors approached, made the customary salutations, and stood before him. The pontiff, wishing to show his kindly feelings towards the envoys of the “Defender of the Faith,” put out his slipper according to custom, presenting it graciously to the kisses of those proud Englishmen. The revolt was about to begin. The earl, remaining motionless, refused to kiss his holiness’s slipper. But that was not all; a fine spaniel, with long silky hair, which Wiltshire had brought from England, had followed him to the episcopal palace. When the bishop of Rome put out his foot, the dog did what other dogs would have done under similar circumstances: he flew at the foot, and caught the pope by the great toe.[34] Clement hastily drew it back. The sublime borders on the ridiculous: the ambassadors, bursting with laughter, raised their arms and hid their faces behind their long rich sleeves. “That dog was a protestant,” said a reverend father. “Whatever he was,” said an Englishman, “he taught us that a pope’s foot was more meet to be bitten by dogs than kissed by Christian men.” The pope, recovering from his emotion, prepared to listen, and the count, regaining his seriousness, explained to the pontiff that as Holy Scripture forbade a man to marry his brother’s wife, Henry VIII. required him to annul as unlawful 26his union with Catherine of Aragon. As Clement did not seem convinced, the ambassador skilfully insinuated that the king might possibly declare himself independent of Rome, and place the British church under the direction of a patriarch. “The example,” added the ambassador, “will not fail to be imitated by other kingdoms of Christendom.”[35]

The agitated pope promised not to remove the suit to Rome, provided the king would give up the idea of reforming England. Then, putting on a most gracious air, he proposed to introduce the ambassador to Charles V. This was giving Wiltshire the chance of receiving a harsh rebuff. The earl saw it; but his duty obliging him to confer with the emperor, he accepted the offer.

The father of Anne Boleyn proceeded to an audience with the nephew of Catherine of Aragon. Representatives of two women whose rival causes agitated Europe, these two men could not meet without a collision. True, the earl flattered himself that as it was Charles’s interest to detach Henry from Francis I., that phlegmatic and politic prince would certainly not sacrifice the gravest interests of his reign for a matter of sentiment; but he was deceived. The emperor received him with a calm and reserved air, but unaccompanied by any kindly demonstration. The ambassador skilfully began with speaking of the Turkish war; then ingeniously passing to the condition of the kingdom of England, he pointed out the reasons of state which rendered the divorce necessary. Here Charles stopped him short: “Sir Count, you are not to be trusted in this matter; you are a party to it; let your colleagues speak.” The earl replied with respectful coldness: “Sire, I do not speak here as a father, but as my master’s servant, and I am commissioned to inform you that his conscience condemns a union contrary to the law of God.”[36] He then offered Charles the immediate restitution of Catherine’s dowry. The emperor 27coldly replied that he would support his aunt in her rights, and then abruptly turning his back on the ambassador, refused to hear him any longer.[37]

Thus did Charles, who had been all his life a crafty politician, place in this matter the cause of justice above the interests of his ambition. Perhaps he might lose an important ally; it mattered not; before everything he would protect a woman unworthily treated. On this occasion we feel more sympathy for Charles than for Henry. The indignant emperor hastily quitted Bologna, on the 22d or 24th of February.

The earl hastened to his friend M. de Gramont, and, relating how he had been treated, proposed that the kings of France and England should unite in the closest bonds. He added, that Henry could not accept Clement as his judge, since he had himself declared that he was ignorant of the law of God.[38] “England,” he said, “will be quiet for three or four months. Sitting in the ballroom, she will watch the dancers, and will form her resolution according as they dance well or ill.”[39] A rule of policy that has often been followed.

Gramont’s Policy.

Gramont was prepared to make common cause with Henry against the emperor; but, like his master, he could not make his mind to do without the pope. He strove to induce Clement to join the two kings and abandon Charles; or else—he insinuated in his turn—England would separate from the Romish Church. This was to incur the risk of losing Western Europe, and accordingly the pope answered with much concern: “I will do what you ask.” There was, however, a reserve; namely, that the steps taken overtly by the pope would absolutely decide nothing.

Clement once more received the ambassador of Henry VIII. The earl carried with him the book wherein Cranmer proved that the pope cannot dispense any one from 28obeying the law of God, and presented it to the pope. The latter took it and glanced over it, his looks showing that a prison could not have been more disagreeable to him than this impertinent volume.[40] The Earl of Wiltshire soon discovered that there was nothing for him to do in Italy. Charles V., usually so reserved, had made the bitterest remarks before his departure. His chancellor, with an air of triumph, enumerated to the English ambassador all the divines of Italy and France who were opposed to the king’s wishes. The pope seemed to be a puppet which the emperor moved as he liked, and the cardinals had but one idea,—that of exalting the Romish power. Wearied and disgusted, the earl departed for France and England with the greater portion of his colleagues.

Cranmer was left behind. Having been sent to show Clement that Holy Scripture is above all Roman pontiffs, and speaks in a language quite opposed to that of the popes, he had asked more than once for an audience at which to discharge his mission. The wily pontiff had replied that he would hear him at Rome, believing he was thus putting him off until the Greek calends. But Clement was deceived; the English doctor, determining to do his duty, refused to depart for London with the rest of the embassy, and repaired to the metropolis of Catholicism.


(Winter of 1530.)

Wiltshire’s Departure.

At the same time that Henry sent ambassadors to Italy to obtain the pope’s consent, he invited all the universities of Christendom to declare that the question of divorce was of divine right, and that the pope had nothing to say about it. It was his opinion that the universal voice of the Church ought to decide, and not the voice of one man.

First, he attempted to canvass Cambridge, and, as he wanted a skilful man for that purpose, he applied to Wolsey’s old servant, Stephen Gardiner, an intelligent, active, wily churchman and a good catholic. One thing alone was superior to his catholicism,—his desire to win the king’s favor. He aspired to rise like the cardinal to the summit of greatness. Henry named the chief almoner, Edward Fox, as his colleague.

Arriving at Cambridge one Saturday about noon, in the latter half of February, the royal commissioners held a conference in the evening with the vice-chancellor (Dr. Buckmaster), Dr. Edmunds, and other influential men who had resolved to go with the court. But these doctors, members of the political party, soon found themselves checked by an embarrassing support on which they had not calculated; it was that of the friends of the Gospel. They had been convinced by the writing which Cranmer had published on the divorce. Gardiner and the members of the conference, hearing of the assistance which the evangelicals desired to give them, were annoyed at first. On the other hand, the champions of the court of Rome, alarmed at 30the alliance of the two parties who were opposed to them, began that very night to visit college after college, leaving no stone unturned that the peril might be averted. Gardiner, uneasy at their zeal, wrote to Henry VIII:—‘As we assembled, they assembled; as we made friends, they made friends.’[41] Dr. Watson, Dr. Tomson, and other fanatical individuals at one time shouted very loudly, at another spoke in whispers.[42] They said that Anne Boleyn was a heretic, that her marriage with Henry would hand England over to Luther; and they related to those whom they desired to gain—wrote Gardiner to the king—‘many fables too tedious to repeat to your Grace.’ These ‘fables’ would not only have bored Henry, but greatly irritated him.

A Noisy Meeting.

The vice-chancellor, flattering himself that he had a majority, notwithstanding these clamors, called a meeting of the doctors, bachelors of divinity, and masters of arts, for Sunday afternoon. About two hundred persons assembled, and the three parties were distinctly marked out. The most numerous and the most excited were those who held for the pope against the king. The evangelicals were in a minority, but were quite as decided as their adversaries, and much calmer. The politicians, uneasy at seeing the friends of Latimer and Cranmer disposed to vote with them, would have, however, to accept of their support, if they wished to gain the victory. They resolved to seize the opportunity offered them. ‘Most learned senators,’ said the vice-chancellor, ‘I have called you together because the great love which the king bears you engages me to consult your wisdom.’ Thereupon Gardiner and Fox handed in the letter which Henry had given them, and the vice-chancellor read it to the meeting. In it the king set forth his hopes of seeing the doctors unanimous to do what was agreeable to him. The deliberations commenced, and the question of a rupture with Rome soon began to appear distinctly beneath the question of the divorce. Edmunds spoke for 31the king, Tomson for the pope. There was an interchange of antagonistic opinions and a disorder of ideas among many; the speakers grew warm; one voice drowned another, and the confusion became extreme.[43]

The vice-chancellor, desirous of putting an end to the clamor, proposed referring the matter to a committee, whose decision should be regarded as that of the whole university, which was agreed to. Then, seeing more clearly that the royal cause could not succeed without the help of the evangelical party, he proposed some of its leaders—Doctors Salcot, Reps, Crome, Shaxton, and Latimer—as members of the committee. On hearing these names, there was an explosion of murmurs in the meeting. Salcot, Abbot of St. Benet’s, was particularly offensive to the doctors of the Romish party. ‘We protest,’ they said, ‘against the presence in the committee of those who have approved of Cranmer’s book, and thus declared their opinion already.’ ‘When any matter is talked of all over the kingdom,’ answered Gardiner, ‘there is not a sensible man who does not tell his friends what he thinks about it.’ The whole afternoon was spent in lively altercation. The vice-chancellor, wishing to bring it to an end, said: ‘Gentlemen, it is getting late, and I invite every one to take his seat, and declare his mind by a secret vote.’[44] It was useless; no one took his seat; the confusion, reproaches, and declamations continued. At dark, the vice-chancellor adjourned the meeting until the next day. The doctors separated in great excitement, but with different feelings. While the politicians saw nothing else to discuss but the question of the king’s marriage, the evangelicals and the papists considered that the real question was this: Which shall rule in England—the Reformation or Popery?

The next day, the names of the members of the committee 32having been put to the vote, the meeting was found to be divided into two equal parties. In order to obtain a majority Gardiner undertook to get some of his adversaries out of the way. Going up and down the Senate-house, he began to whisper in the ears of some of the less decided; and, inspiring them either with hope or fear, he prevailed upon several to leave the meeting.[45]

The grace was then put to the vote a third time and passed. Gardiner triumphed. Returning to his room, he sent the list to the king. Sixteen of the committee, indicated by the letter A, were favorable to his majesty. ‘As for the twelve others,’ he wrote, ‘we hope to win most of them by good means.’ The committee met, and took up the royal demand. They carefully examined the passages of Holy Scripture, the explanations of translators, and gave their opinion.[46] Then followed the public discussion. Gardiner was not without fear; as there might be skilful assailants and awkward defenders, he looked out for men qualified to defend the royal cause worthily. It was a remarkable circumstance that, passing over the traditional doctors, he added to the defence—of which he and Fox were the leaders—two evangelical doctors, Salcot, Abbot of St. Benet’s, and Reps. He reserved to his colleague and himself the political part of the question; but notwithstanding all his catholicism, he desired that the scriptural reasons should be placed foremost. The discussion was conducted with great thoroughness,[47] and the victory remained with the king’s champions.

Majority For The King.

On the 9th of March, the doctors, professors, and masters having met after vespers in the priory hall, the vice-chancellor said: ‘It has appeared to us as most certain, most in accord with Holy Scripture, and most conformable to the opinions of commentators, that it is contrary to divine and natural law for a man to marry the widow of his brother 33dying childless.’[48] Thus the Scriptures were really, if not explicitly, declared by the university of Cambridge to be the supreme and only rule of Christians, and the contrary decisions of Rome were held to be not binding. The Word of God was avenged of the long contempt it had endured, and, after having been put below the pope’s word, was now restored to its lawful place. In this matter Cambridge was right.

The King’s Letter To Oxford.

It was necessary to try Oxford next. Here the opposition was stronger, and the popish party looked forward to a victory. Longland, Bishop of Lincoln and chancellor of the university, was commissioned by Henry to undertake the matter; Doctor Bell, and afterwards Edward Fox, the chief almoner, being joined with him. The king, uneasy at the results of the negotiation, and wishing for a favorable decision at any cost, gave Longland a letter for the university, through every word of which an undisguised despotism was visible. ‘We will and command you,’ he said, ‘that ye, not leaning to wilful and sinister opinions of your own several minds, considering that we be your sovereign liege lord, and totally giving your affections to the true overtures of divine learning in this behalf, do show and declare your true and just learning in the said cause.... And we, for your so doing, shall be to you and to our university there so good and gracious a lord for the same, as ye shall perceive it well done in your well fortune to come. And in case you do not uprightly handle yourselves herein, we shall so quickly and sharply look to your unnatural misdemeanor herein, that it shall not be to your quietness and ease hereafter.... Accommodate yourselves to the mere truth; assuring you that those who do shall be esteemed and set forth, and the contrary neglected and little set by.... We doubt not that your resolution shall be our high contentation and pleasure.’

This royal missive caused a great commotion in the university. 34Some slavishly bent their heads, for the king spoke rod in hand. Others declared themselves convinced by the political reasons, and said that Henry must have an heir whose right to the throne could not be disputed. And, lastly, some were convinced that Holy Scripture was favorable to the royal cause. All men of age and learning, as well as all who had either capacity or ambition, declared in favor of the divorce. Nevertheless a formidable opposition soon showed itself.

The younger members of the Senate were enthusiastic for Catherine, the Church, and the pope. Their theological education was imperfect; they could not go to the bottom of the question, but they judged by the heart. To see a Catholic lady oppressed, to see Rome despised, inflamed their anger; and, if the elder members maintained that their view was the more reasonable, the younger ones believed theirs to be the more noble. Unhappily, when the choice lies between the useful and the generous, the useful commonly triumphs. Still, the young doctors were not prepared to yield. They said—and they were not wrong—that religion and morality ought not to be sacrificed to reasons of state, or to the passions of princes. And, seeing the spectre of Reform hidden behind that of the divorce, they regarded themselves as called upon to save the Church. ‘Alas!’ said the royal delegates, the Bishop of Lincoln and Dr. Bell, ‘alas! we are in continual perplexity, and we cannot foresee with any certainty what will be the issue of this business.’[49]

They agreed with the heads of houses that, in order to prepare the university, three public disputations should be solemnly held in the divinity schools. By this means they hoped to gain time. ‘Such disputations,’ they said, ‘are a very honorable means of amusing the multitude until we are sure of the consent of the majority.’[50] The discussions took place, and the younger masters, arranging each day 35what was to be done or said, gave utterance to all the warmth of their feelings.

When the news of these animated discussions reached Henry, his displeasure broke out, and those immediately around him fanned his indignation. ‘A great part of the youth of our university,’ said the king, ‘with contentious and factious manners, daily combine together.’... The courtiers, instead of moderating, excited his anger. Every day, they told him, these young men, regardless of their duty towards their sovereign, and not conforming to the opinions of the most virtuous and learned men of the university, meet together to deliberate and oppose his majesty’s views. ‘Hath it ever been seen,’ exclaimed the king, ‘that such a number of right small learning should stay their seniors in so weighty a cause?’[51] Henry, in exasperation, wrote to the heads of the houses: ‘Non est bonum irritare crabrones.’ It is not good to stir a hornet’s nest. This threat excited the younger party still more: if the term ‘hornet’ amused some, it irritated others. In hot weather, the hornet (the king) chases the weaker insects; but the noise he makes in flying forewarns them, and the little ones escape him. Henry could not hide his vexation; he feared lest the little flies should prove stronger than the big hornet. He was uneasy in his castle of Windsor; and the insolent opposition of Oxford pursued him wherever he turned his steps—on the terrace, in the wide park, and even in the royal chapel. ‘What!’ he exclaimed, ‘shall this university dare show itself more unkind and wilful than all other universities, abroad or at home?’[52] Cambridge had recognized the king’s right, and Oxford refused.

Wishing to end the matter, Henry summoned the High-Almoner Fox to Windsor, and ordered him to repeat at Oxford the victory he had gained at Cambridge. He then dictated to his secretary a letter to the recalcitrants: ‘We cannot a little marvel that you, neither having respect to our estate,—being your prince and sovereign lord,—nor 36yet remembering such benefits as we have always showed unto you, have hitherto refused the accomplishment of our desire. Permit no longer the private suffrages of light and wilful heads to prevail over the learned. By your diligence redeem the errors and delays past.

‘Given under our signet, at our castle of Windsor.’[53]

Fox was entrusted with this letter.

The Lord High-Almoner and the Bishop of Lincoln immediately called together the younger masters of the university, and declared that a longer resistance might lead to their ruin. But the youth of Oxford were not to be overawed by threats of violence. Lincoln had hardly finished when several masters of arts protested loudly. Some even spoke ‘very wickedly.’ Not permitting himself to be checked by such rebellion, the bishop ordered the poll to be taken. Twenty-seven voted for the king, and twenty-two against. The royal commissioners were not yet satisfied; they assembled all the faculties, and invited the members to give their opinion in turn. This intimidated many, and only eight or ten had courage enough to declare their opposition frankly. The bishop, encouraged by such a result, ordered that the final vote should be taken by ballot. Secrecy emboldened many of those who had not dared to speak; and, while thirty-one voted in favor of the divorce, twenty-five opposed it. That was of little consequence, as the two prelates had the majority. They immediately drew up the statute in the name of the university, and sent it to the king. After which the bishop, proud of his success, celebrated a solemn mass of the Holy Ghost.[54] The Holy Ghost had not, however, been much attended to in the business. Some had obeyed the prince, others the pope; and, if we desire to find those who obeyed Christ, we must look for them elsewhere.

Latimer’s Evangelical Courage.

The university of Cambridge was the first to send in its submission to Henry. The Sunday before Easter (1530), 37Vice-Chancellor Buckmaster arrived at Windsor in the forenoon. The court was at chapel, where Latimer, recently appointed one of the king’s chaplains, was preaching. The vice-chancellor came in during the service, and heard part of the sermon. Latimer was a very different man from Henry’s servile courtiers. He did not fear even to attack such of his colleagues as did not do their duty: ‘That is no godly preacher that will hold his peace, and not strike you with his sword that you smoke again.... Chaplains will not do their duties, but rather flatter. But what shall follow? Marry, they shall have God’s curse upon their heads for their labor. The minister must reprove without fearing any man, even if he be threatened with death.’[55] Latimer was particularly bold in all that concerned the errors of Rome which Henry VIII. desired to maintain in the English Church. ‘Wicked persons (he said),—men who despise God,—call out, “We are christened, therefore are we saved.” Marry, to be christened and not obey God’s commandments is to be worse than the Turks! Regeneration cometh from the Word of God. It is by believing this Word that we are born again.’[56]

Thus spoke one of the fathers of the British Reformation: such is the real doctrine of the Church of England; the contrary doctrine is a mere relic of popery.

As the congregation were leaving the chapel, the vice-chancellor spoke to the secretary (Cromwell) and the provost, and told them the occasion of his visit. The king sent a message that he would receive the deputation after evening service. Desirous of giving a certain distinction to the decision of the universities, Henry ordered all the court to assemble in the audience-chamber. The vice-chancellor presented the letter to the king, who was much pleased with it. ‘Thanks, Mr. Vice-Chancellor,’ he said; ‘I very much approve the way in which you have managed this matter. I shall give your university tokens of my satisfaction.... 38You heard Mr. Latimer’s sermon,’ he added, which he greatly praised, and then withdrew. The Duke of Norfolk, going up to the vice-chancellor, told him that the king desired to see him the following day.

The next day Dr. Buckmaster, faithful to the appointment, waited all the morning; but the king had changed his mind, and sent orders to the deputy from Cambridge that he might depart as soon as he pleased. The message had scarcely been delivered before the king entered the gallery. An idea which quite engrossed his mind urged him on; he wanted to speak with the doctor about the principle put forward by Cranmer. Henry detained Buckmaster from one o’clock until six, repeating, in every possible form, ‘Can the pope grant a dispensation when the law of God hath spoken?’[57] He even displayed much ill-humor before the vice-chancellor, because this point had not been decided at Cambridge. At last he quitted the gallery; and, to counterbalance the sharpness of his reproaches, he spoke very graciously to the doctor, who hurried away as fast as he could.

(January to September 1530.)

Henry Appeals To Foreign Opinion.

The king did not limit himself to asking the opinions of England; he appealed to the universal teaching of the Church, represented according to his views by the universities and not by the pope. The element of individual conviction, 39so strongly marked in Tyndale, Fryth, and Latimer, was wanting in the official reformation that proceeded from the prince. To know what Scripture said, Henry was about sending delegates to Paris, Bologna, Padua, and Wittemburg; he would have sent even to the East, if such a journey had been easy. That false catholicism which looked for the interpretation of the Bible to churches and declining schools where traditionalism, ritualism, and hierarchism were magnified, was a counterfeit popery. Happily the supreme voice of the Word of God surmounted this fatal tendency in England.

Henry VIII., full of confidence in the friendship of the King of France, applied first to the university of Paris; but Dr. Pedro Garry, a Spanish priest, as ignorant as he was fanatical (according to the English agents),[58] eagerly took up the cause of Catherine of Aragon. Aided by the impetuous Beda, he obtained an opinion adverse to Henry’s wishes.

When he heard of it, the alarmed prince summoned Du Bellay, the French ambassador, to the palace, gave him for Francis I. a famous diamond fleur-de-lis valued at 10,000l. sterling, also the acknowledgments for 100,000 livres which Francis owed Henry for war expenses, and added a gift of 400,000 crowns for the ransom of the king’s sons. Unable to resist such strong arguments, Francis charged Du Bellay to represent to the faculty of Paris ‘the great scruples of Henry’s conscience;’[59] whereupon the Sarbonne deliberated, and several doctors exclaimed that it would be an attaint upon the pope’s honor to suppose him capable of refusing consolation to the wounded conscience of a Christian. During these debates, the secretary took the names, received the votes, and entered them on the minutes. A fiery papist observing that the majority would be against 40the Roman opinion, jumped up, sprang upon the secretary, snatched the list from his hands, and tore it up. All started from their seats, and ‘there was great disorder and tumult.’ They all spoke together, each trying to assert his own opinion; but as no one could make himself heard amid the general clamor, the doctors hurried out of the room in a great rage. ‘Beda acted like one possessed,’ wrote Du Bellay.

Meanwhile the ambassadors of the King of England were walking up and down an adjoining gallery, waiting for the division. Attracted by the shouts, they ran forward, and seeing the strange spectacle presented by the theologians, and ‘hearing the language they used to one another,’ they retired in great irritation. Du Bellay, who had at heart the alliance of the two countries, conjured Francis I. to put an end to such ‘impertinences.’ The president of the parliament of Paris consequently ordered Beda to appear before him, and told him that it was not for a person of his sort to meddle with the affairs of princes, and that if he did not cease his opposition, he would be punished in a way he would not soon forget. The Sorbonne profited by the lesson given to the most influential of its members, and on the 2nd of July declared in favor of the divorce by a large majority. The universities of Orleans, Angers, and Bourges had already done so, and that of Toulouse did the same shortly after.[60] Henry VIII. had France and England with him.

This was not enough: he must have Italy also. He filled that peninsula with his agents, who had orders to obtain from the bishops and universities the declaration refused by the pope. A rich and powerful despot is never in want of devoted men to carry out his designs.

The university of Bologna, in the states of the Church, was, after Paris, the most important in the Catholic world. A monk was in great repute there at this time. Noble 41by birth and an eloquent preacher, Battista Pallavicini was one of those independent thinkers often met with in Italy. The English agents applied to him; he declared that he and his colleagues were ready to prove the unlawfulness of Henry’s marriage, and when Stokesley spoke of remuneration, they replied, ‘No, no! what we have received freely, we give freely.’ Henry’s agents could not contain themselves for joy; the university of the pope declares against the pope! Those among them who had an inkling for the Reformation were especially delighted. On the 10th June the eloquent monk appeared before the ambassadors with the judgment of the faculty, which surpassed all they had imagined. Henry’s marriage was declared ‘horrible, execrable, detestable, abominable for a Christian and even for an infidel, forbidden by divine and human law under pain of the severest punishment.[61]... The holy father, who can do almost everything,’ innocently continued the university, ‘has not the right to permit such a union.’ The universities of Padua and Ferrara hastened to add their votes to those of Bologna, and declared the marriage with a brother’s widow to be ‘null, detestable, profane, and abominable.’[62] Henry was conqueror all along the line. He had with him that universal consent which, according to certain illustrious doctors, is the very essence of Catholicism. Crooke, one of Henry’s agents, and a distinguished Greek scholar, who discharged his mission with indefatigable ardor, exclaimed that ‘the just cause of the king was approved by all the doctors of Italy.’[63]

Protestants Condemn The Divorce.

In the midst of this harmony of catholicity, there was one exception, of which no one had dreamt. That divorce which, according to the frivolous language of a certain party, was the cause of the Reformation in England, found opponents among the fathers and the children of the Reformation. 42Henry’s envoys were staggered. ‘My fidelity bindeth me to advertise your Highness,’ wrote Crooke to the king, ‘that all Lutherans be utterly against your Highness in this cause, and have letted [hindered] as much with their wretched poor malice, without reason or authority, as they could and might, as well here as in Padua and Ferrara, where be no small companies of them.’[64] The Swiss and German reformers having been summoned to give an opinion on this point, Luther, Œcolampadius, Zwingle, Bucer, Grynæus, and even Calvin,[65] all expressed the same opinion. ‘Certainly,’ said Luther, ‘the king has sinned by marrying his brother’s wife; that sin belongs to the past; let repentance, therefore, blot it out, as it must blot out all our past sins. But the marriage must not be dissolved; such a great sin, which is future, must not be permitted.[66] There are thousands of marriages in the world in which sin has a part, and yet we may not dissolve them. A man shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh. This law is superior to the other, and overrules the lesser one.’ The collective opinion of the Lutheran doctors was in conformity with the just and Christian sentiments of Luther.[67] Thus (we repeat) the event which, according to Catholic writers, was the cause of the religious transformation of England, was approved by the Romanists and condemned by the evangelicals. Besides, the latter knew very well that a Reformation must proceed, not from a divorce or a marriage, not from diplomatic negotiations or university statutes, but from the power of the Word of God and the free conviction of Christians.

English Address To The Pope.

While these matters were going on, Cranmer was at Rome, asking the pope for that discussion which the pontiff had 43promised him at their conference in Bologna. Clement VII. had never intended to grant it: he had thought that, once at Rome, it would be easy to elude his promise; it was that which occupied his attention just now. Among the means which popes have sometimes employed in their difficulties with kings, one of the most common was to gain the agents of those princes. It was the first employed by Clement; he nominated Cranmer grand almoner for all the states of the King of England, some even say for all the Catholic world. It was little more than a title, and ‘was only to stay his stomach for that time, in hope of a more plentiful feast hereafter, if he had been pleased to take his repast on any popish preferment.’[68] But Cranmer was influenced by purer motives; and without refusing the title the pope gave him,—since having the task of winning him to the king’s side, he would thus have compromised his mission,—he made no account of it, and showed all the more zeal for the accomplishment of his charge.

The embassy had not succeeded, and they were getting uneasy about it in England. Some of the pope’s best friends could not understand his blindness. The two archbishops, the dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, the marquises of Dorset and Exeter, thirteen earls, four bishops, twenty-five barons, twenty-two abbots, and eleven members of the Lower House determined to send an address to Clement VII. ‘Most blessed father,’ they began, ‘the king, who is our head and the life of us all, has ever stood by the see of Rome amidst the attacks of your many and powerful enemies, and yet he alone is to reap no benefit from his labors.... Meanwhile we perceive a flood of miseries impending over the commonwealth.[69] If your Holiness, who ought to be our father, have determined to leave us as orphans, we shall seek our remedy elsewhere.... He that is sick will by any means be rid of his distemper; and there 44is hope in the exchange of miseries, when, if we cannot obtain what is good, we may obtain a lesser evil.... We beseech your Holiness to consider with yourself; you profess that on earth you are Christ’s vicar. Endeavor then to show yourself so to be by pronouncing your sentence to the glory and praise of God.’ Clement gained time: he remained two months and a half without answering, thinking about the matter, turning it over and over in his mind. The great difficulty was to harmonize the will of Henry VIII., who desired another wife, and that of Charles V., who insisted that he ought to keep the old one.... There was only one mode of satisfying both these princes at once, and that was by the king’s having the two wives together. Wolsey had already entertained this idea. More than two years before the pope had hinted as much to Da Casale: ‘Let him take another wife,’ he had said, speaking of Henry.[70] Clement now recurred to it, and having sent privately for Da Casale, he said to him: ‘This is what we have hit upon: we permit his Majesty to have two wives.’[71] The infallible pontiff proposed bigamy to a king. Da Casale was still more astonished than he had been at the time of Clement’s first communication. ‘Holy father,’ he said to the pope, ‘I doubt whether such a mode will satisfy his Majesty, for he desires above all things to have the burden removed from his conscience.’[72]

This guilty proposal led to nothing; the king, sure of the lords and of the people, advanced rapidly in the path of independence. The day after that on which the pope authorized him to take two wives, Henry issued a bold proclamation, pronouncing against whosoever should ask for or bring in a papal bull contrary to the royal prerogative ‘imprisonment and further punishment of their bodies according to 45his Majesty’s good pleasure.[73] Clement, becoming alarmed, replied to the address: ‘We desire as much as you do that the king should have male children; but, alas! we are not God to give him sons.’[74]

Men were beginning to stifle under these manœuvres and tergiversations of the papacy; they called for air, and some went so far as to say that if air was not given them, they must snap their fetters and break open the doors.

(January To September 1530.)

Proclamation Against Papal Bulls.

Henry, seeing that he could not obtain what he asked from the pope, drew nearer the evangelical party in his kingdom. In the ranks of the Reformation he found intelligent, pious, bold, and eloquent men, who possessed the confidence of a portion of the people. Why should not the prince try to conciliate them? They protest against the authority of the pope: good! he will relieve them from it; but on one condition, however,—that if they reject the papal jurisdiction they recognize his own. If Henry’s plan had succeeded, the Church of England would have been a Cæsareo-papistical Church (as we see elsewhere) planted on British soil; but it was the Word of God that was destined to replace the pope in England, and not the king.

The first of the evangelical doctors whom Henry tried to gain was Latimer. He had placed him, as we have seen, on the list of his chaplains. ‘Beware of contradicting the 46king,’ said a courtier to him, one day, mistrusting his frankness. ‘Speak as he speaks, and instead of presuming to lead him, strive to follow him.’ ‘Marry, out upon thy counsel!’ replied Latimer; ‘shall I say as he says? Say what your conscience bids you.... Still, I know that prudence is necessary.

Gutta cavat lapidem non vi sed sæpe cadendo.

The drop of rain maketh a hole in the stone, not by violence, but by oft falling. Likewise a prince must be won by a little and a little.’

This conversation was not useless to the chaplain, who set to work seriously amid all the tumult of the court. He studied the Holy Scriptures and the Fathers, and frankly proclaimed the truth from the pulpit. But he had no private conversation with the king, who filled him with a certain fear. The thought that he did not speak to Henry about the state of his soul troubled him. One day, in the month of November, the chaplain was in his closet, and in the volume of St. Augustine which lay before him he read these words: ‘He who for fear of any power hides the truth, provokes the wrath of God to come to him, for he fears men more than God.’ Another day, while studying St. Chrysostom, these words struck him: ‘he is not only a traitor to the truth who openly for truth teaches a lie; but he also who does not freely pronounce and show the truth that he knoweth.’ These two sentences sank deeply into his heart.[75] ‘They made me sore afraid,’ he continued, ‘troubled and vexed me grievously in my conscience.’ He resolved to declare what God had taught him in Scripture. His frankness might cost him his life (lives were lost easily in Henry’s time); it mattered not. ‘I had rather suffer extreme punishment,’ he said, ‘than be a traitor unto the truth.’[76]

Latimer’s Letter To Henry.

Latimer reflected that the ecclesiastical law, which for 47ages had been the very essence of religion, must give way to evangelical faith—that the form must yield to the life. The members of the Church (calling themselves regenerate by baptism) used to attend catechism, be confirmed, join in worship, and take part in the communion without any real individual transformation; and then finally rest all together in the churchyard. But the Church, in Latimer’s opinion, ought to begin with the conversion of its members. Lively stones are needed to build up the temple of God. Christian individualism, which Rome opposed from her theocratic point of view, was about to be revived in Christian society.

The noble Latimer formed the resolution to make the king understand that all real reformation must begin at home. This was no trifling matter. Henry, who was a man of varied information and lively understanding, but was also imperious, passionate, fiery, and obstinate, knew no other rule than the promptings of his strong nature; and although quite prepared to separate from the pope, he detested all innovations in doctrine. Latimer did not allow himself to be stopped by such obstacles, and resolved to attack this difficult position openly.

‘Your Grace,’ he wrote to Henry, ‘I must show forth such things as I have learned in Scripture, or else deny Jesus Christ. The which denying ought more to be dreaded than the loss of all temporal goods, honor, promotion, fame, prison, slander, hurts, banishment, and all manner of torments and cruelties, yea, and death itself, be it never so shameful and painful.[77]... There is as great distance between you and me as between God and man; for you are here to me and to all your subjects in God’s stead; and so I should quake to speak to your Grace. But as you are a mortal man having in you the corrupt nature of Adam, so you have no less need of the merits of Christ’s passion for your salvation than I and others of your subjects have.’

Latimer feared to see a Church founded under Henry’s patronage, which would seek after riches, power, and pomp; 48and he was not mistaken. ‘Our Saviour’s life was very poor. In how vile and abject a place was the mother of Jesus Christ brought to bed! And according to this beginning was the process and end of his life in this world.... But this he did to show us that his followers and vicars should not regard the treasures of this world.... Your Grace may see what means and craft the spirituality imagine to break and withstand the acts which were made in the last parliament against their superfluities.’

Latimer desired to make the king understand who were the true Christians. ‘Our Saviour showed his disciples,’ continued he, ‘that they should be brought before kings. Wherefore take this for a sure conclusion, that where the Word of God is truly preached there is persecution, and where quietness and rest in worldly pleasure, there is not the truth.’

Latimer next proceeded to declare what would give real riches to England. ‘Your Grace promised by your last proclamation that we should have the Scripture in English. Let not the wickedness of worldly men divert you from your goodly purpose and promise. There are prelates who, under pretence of insurrection and heresy, hinder the Gospel of Christ from having free course.... They would send a thousand men to hell ere they send one to God.’[78]

Latimer had reserved for the last the appeal he had determined to make to his master’s conscience: ‘I pray to God that your Grace may do what God commandeth, and not what seemeth good in your own sight; that you may be found one of the members of his Church and a faithful minister of his gifts, and not,’ he added, showing contempt for a title of which Henry was very proud, ‘and not a defender of his faith; for he will not have it defended by man’s power, but by his word only.

‘Wherefore, gracious king, remember yourself. Have pity on your soul, and think that the day is even at hand when you shall give account of your office and of the 49blood that hath been shed with your sword. In the which day that your Grace may stand steadfastly and not be ashamed, but be clear and ready in your reckoning, and to have (as they say) your quietus est sealed with the blood of our Saviour Christ, which only serveth at that day, is my daily prayer to Him that suffered death for our sins which also prayeth to His Father for grace for us continually.’[79]

Thus wrote the bold chaplain. Such a letter from Latimer to Henry VIII. deserved to be pointed out. The king does not appear to have been offended at it. He was an absolute prince, but there was occasionally some generosity in his character. He therefore continued to extend his kindness to Latimer, but did not answer his appeal.

Latimer’s Preaching.

Latimer preached frequently before the court and in the city. Many noble lords and old families still clung to the prejudices of the middle ages; but some had a certain liking for the Reformation, and listened to the chaplain’s preaching, which was so superior to ordinary sermons. His art of oratory was summed up in one precept: ‘Christ is the preacher of all preachers.’[80] ‘Christ,’ he exclaimed, ‘took upon him our sins: not the work of sin—not to do it—not to commit it, but to purge it; and that way he was the great sinner of the world.[81]... It is much like as if I owed another man 20,000l., and must pay it out of hand, or else go to the dungeon of Ludgate; and, when I am going to prison, one of my friends should come and ask, “Whither goeth this man: I will answer for him; I will pay all for him.” Such a part played our Saviour Christ with us.’

Preaching before a king, he declared that the authority of Holy Scripture was above all the powers of the earth. ‘God,’ he said, ‘is great, eternal, almighty, everlasting; and the Scripture, because of him, is also great, eternal, most mighty, and holy.... There is no king, emperor, 50magistrate, or ruler but is bound to give credence unto this holy word.’[82] He was cautious not to put the ‘two swords’ into the same hand. ‘In this world God hath two Swords,’ he said; ‘the temporal sword resteth in the hands of kings, whereunto all subjects—as well the clergy as the laity—be subject. The spiritual sword is in the hands of the ministers and preachers of God’s Word to correct and reprove. Make not a mingle-mangle of them. To God give thy soul, thy faith; ... to the king, tribute and reverence.[83] Therefore let the preacher amend with spiritual sword, fearing no man, though death should ensue.’[84] Such language astonished the court. ‘Were you at the sermon to day?’ said one of his hearers to a zealous courtier one day. ‘Yes,’ replied the latter. ‘And how did you like the new chaplain?’ ‘Marry, even as I liked him always—a seditious fellow.’[85]

Latimer’s Boldness.

Latimer did not permit himself to be intimidated. Firm in doctrine, he was at the same time eminently practical. He was a moralist; and this may explain how he was able to remain any time at court. Men of the world, who soon grow impatient when you preach to them of the cross, repentance, and change of heart, cannot help approving of those who insist on certain rules of conduct. The king found it convenient to keep a great number of horses in abbeys founded for the support of the poor. One day when Latimer was preaching before him, he said,—‘A prince ought not to prefer his horses above poor men. Abbeys were ordained for the comfort of the poor, and not for kings’ horses to be kept in them.’[86]

There was a dead silence in the congregation—no one dared turn his eyes towards Henry—and many showed symptoms of anger. The chaplain had hardly left the pulpit, when a gentleman of the court, the lord-chamberlain apparently, went up to him and asked, ‘What hast thou to 51do with the king’s horses? They are the maintenances and part of a king’s honor, and also of his realm; wherefore, in speaking against them, ye are against the king’s honor.’ ‘To take away the right of the poor,’ answered Latimer, ‘is against the honor of the king.’ He then added, ‘My lord, God is the grand-master of the king’s house, and will take account of every one that beareth rule therein.’[87]

Thus the Reformation undertook to re-establish the rule of conscience even in the courts of princes. Latimer knowing, like Calvin, that ‘the ears of the princes of this world are accustomed to be pampered and flattered,’ armed himself with invincible courage.

The murmurs grew louder. While the old chaplains let things take their course, the other wanted to restore morality among Christians. The Reformer was alive to the accusations brought against him, for his was not a heart of steel. Reproaches and calumnies appeared to him sometimes like those impetuous winds which force the husbandman to fly hurriedly for shelter to some covered place. ‘O Lord!’ he exclaimed in his closet, ‘these people pinch me; nay, they have a full bite at me.’[88] He would have desired to flee away to the wilderness, but he called to mind what had been done to his Master; ‘I comfort myself,’ he said, ‘that Christ Himself was noted to be a stirrer up of the people against the emperor.’

The priests, delighted that Latimer censured the king, resolved to take advantage of it to ruin him. One day, when there was a grand reception, and the king was surrounded by his councillors and courtiers, a monk slipped into the midst of the crowd, and, falling on his knees before the monarch, said, ‘Sire, your new chaplain preaches sedition.’ Henry turned to Latimer: ‘What say you to that, sir?’ The chaplain bent his knee before the prince; and, turning to his accusers, said to them, ‘Would you have me preach nothing concerning a king in the king’s sermon?’ His friends trembled lest he should be arrested. ‘Your 52Grace,’ he continued, ‘I put myself in your hands: appoint other doctors to preach in my place before your Majesty. There are many more worthy of the room than I am. If it be your Grace’s pleasure, I could be content to be their servant, and bear their books after them.[89] But if your Grace allow me for a preacher, I would desire you give me leave to discharge my conscience. Permit me to frame my teaching for my audience.’

Henry, who always liked Latimer, took his part, and the chaplain retired with a low bow. When he left the audience, his friends, who had watched this scene with the keenest emotion, surrounded him, saying, with tears in their eyes,[90] ‘We were convinced that you would sleep to-night in the Tower.’ ‘The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord,’ he answered, calmly.

The evangelical Reformers of England nobly maintained their independence in the presence of a catholic and despotic king. Firmly convinced, free, strong men, they yielded neither to the seductions of the court nor to those of Rome. We shall see still more striking examples of their decision, bequeathed by them to their successors.

(January to May 1531.)

The Oak And The Ivy.

Henry VIII., finding that he wanted men like Latimer to resist the pope, sought to win over others of the same 53stamp. He found one, whose lofty range he understood immediately. Thomas Cromwell had laid before him a book, then very eagerly read all over England, namely, the Practice of Prelates. It was found in the houses not only of the citizens of London, but of the farmers of Essex, Suffolk, and other counties. The king read it quite as eagerly as his subjects. Nothing interested him like the history of the slow but formidable progress of the priesthood and prelacy. One parable in particular struck him, in which the oak represented royalty, and the ivy the papacy. ‘First, the ivy springeth out of the earth, and then awhile creepeth along by the ground till it find a great tree. There it joineth itself beneath alow unto the body of the tree, and creepeth up a little and a little, fair and softly. And at the beginning, while it is yet thin and small, that the burden is not perceived, it seemeth glorious to garnish the tree in the winter, and to bear off the tempests of the weather. But in the mean season it thrusteth roots into the bark of the tree to hold fast withal; and ceaseth not to climb up till it be at the top and above all. And then it sendeth its branches along by the branches of the tree, and overgroweth all, and waxeth great, heavy, and thick; and sucketh the moisture so sore out of the tree and its branches, that it choketh and stifleth them. And then the foul stinking ivy waxeth mighty in the stump of the tree, and becometh a seat and a nest for all unclean birds and for blind owls, which hawk in the dark and dare not come at the light. Even so the Bishop of Rome at the beginning crope along upon the earth.... He crept up and fastened his roots in the heart of the emperor, and by subtilty clamb above the emperor, and subdued him, and made him stoop unto his feet and kiss them another while. Yea, when he had put the crown on the emperor’s head, he smote it off with his feet again.’[91]

Henry would willingly have clapped his hand on his 54sword to demand satisfaction of the pope for this outrage. The book was by Tyndale. Laying it down, the king reflected on what he had just read, and thought to himself that the author had some striking ideas ‘on the accursed power of the pope,’ and that he was besides gifted with talent and zeal, and might render excellent service towards abolishing the papacy in England.

Tyndale, from the time of his conversion at Oxford, set Christ above everything. He boldly threw off the yoke of human traditions, and would take no other guide but Scripture only. Full of imagination and eloquence, active and ready to endure fatigue, he exposed himself to every danger in the fulfilment of his mission.[92] Henry ordered Stephen Vaughan, one of his agents, then at Antwerp, to try and find the Reformer in Brabant, Flanders, on the banks of the Rhine, in Holland, ... wherever he might chance to be; to offer him a safe-conduct under the sign-manual, to prevail on him to return to England, and to add the most gracious promises in behalf of his Majesty.[93]

To gain over Tyndale seemed even more important than to have gained Latimer. Vaughan immediately undertook to seek him in Antwerp, where he was said to be, but could not find him. ‘He is at Marburg,’ said one; ‘at Frankfort,’ said another; ‘at Hamburg,’ declared a third. Tyndale was invisible now as before. To make more certain, Vaughan determined to write three letters directed to those three places, conjuring him to return to England.[94] ‘I have great hopes,’ said the English agent to his friends, ‘of having done something that will please his Majesty.’ Tyndale, the most scriptural of English reformers, the most inflexible in his faith, laboring at the Reformation with the cordial approbation of the monarch, would truly have been something extraordinary.

55Scarcely had the three letters been despatched when Vaughan heard of the ignominious chastisement inflicted by Sir Thomas More on Tyndale’s brother.[95] Was it by such indignities that Henry expected to attract the Reformer? Vaughan, much annoyed, wrote to the king (26th January, 1531) that this event would make Tyndale think they wanted to entrap him, and he gave up looking after him.

Vaughan Meets Tyndale.

Three months later (17th April), as Vaughan was busy copying one of Tyndale’s manuscripts in order to send it to Henry (it was his answer to the Dialogue of Sir Thomas More), a man knocked at his door. ‘Some one, who calls himself a friend of yours, desires very much to speak with you,’ said the stranger, ‘and begs you to follow me.’—‘Who is this friend? Where is he?’ asked Vaughan.—‘I do not know him,’ replied the messenger; ‘but come along, and you will see for yourself.’ Vaughan doubted whether it was prudent to follow this person to a strange place. He made up his mind, however, to accompany him. The agent of Henry VIII. and the messenger threaded the streets of Antwerp, went out of the city, and at last reached a lonely field, by the side of which the Scheldt flowed sluggishly through the level country.[96] As he advanced, Vaughan saw a man of noble bearing, who appeared to be about fifty years of age. ‘Do you not recognize me?’ he asked Vaughan. ‘I cannot call to mind your features,’ answered the latter. ‘My name is Tyndale,’ said the stranger. ‘Tyndale!’ exclaimed Vaughan, with delight. ‘Tyndale! what a happy meeting!’

Tyndale, who had heard of Henry’s new plans, had no confidence either in the prince or in his pretended Reformation. The king’s endless negotiations with the pope, his worldliness, his amours, his persecution of evangelical Christians, and especially the ignominious punishment inflicted on John 56Tyndale: all these matters disgusted him. However, having been informed of the nature of Vaughan’s mission, he desired to turn it to advantage by addressing a few warnings to the prince. ‘I have written certain books,’ he said, ‘to warn your Majesty of the subtle demeanor of the clergy of your realm towards your person, in which doing I showed the heart of a true subject; to the intent that your Grace might prepare your remedies against their subtle dreams. An exile from my native country, I suffer hunger, thirst, cold, absence of friends, everywhere encompassed with great danger, in innumerable hard and sharp fightings, I do not feel their asperity, by reason that I hope with my labors to do honor to God, true service to my prince, and pleasure to his commons.’[97]

‘Cheer up,’ said Vaughan, ‘your exile, poverty, fightings, all are at an end; you can return to England.’... ‘What matters it,’ said Tyndale, ‘if my exile finishes, so long as the Bible is banished? Has the king forgotten that God has commanded His Word to be spread throughout the world? If it continues to be forbidden to his subjects, very death were more pleasant to me than life.’[98]

Vaughan did not consider himself worsted. The messenger, who remained at a distance, and could hear nothing, was astonished at seeing the two men in that solitary field conversing together so long and with so much animation. ‘Tell me what guarantees you desire,’ said Vaughan: ‘the king will grant them you.’ ‘Of course the king would give me a safe-conduct,’ answered Tyndale; ‘but the clergy would persuade him that promises made to heretics are not binding.’ Night was coming on. Henry’s agent might have had Tyndale followed and seized.[99] The idea occurred to Vaughan, but he rejected it. Tyndale began, however, to feel himself ill at ease.[100] ‘Farewell,’ he said; ‘you shall 57see me again before long, or hear news of me.’ He then departed, walking away from Antwerp. Vaughan, who re-entered the city, was surprised to see Tyndale make for the open country. He supposed it to be a stratagem, and once more doubted whether he ought not to have seized the Reformer to please his master. ‘I might have failed of my purpose,’ he said.[101] Besides it was now too late, for Tyndale had disappeared.

The King On Tyndale’s Treatise.

As soon as Vaughan reached home, he hastened to send to London an account of this singular conference. Cromwell immediately proceeded to court, and laid before the king the envoy’s letter and the Reformer’s book. ‘Good!’ said Henry; ‘as soon as I have leisure, I will read them both.’[102] He did so, and was exasperated against Tyndale, who refused his invitation, mistrusted his word, and even dared to give him advice. The king in his passion tore off the latter part of Vaughan’s letter, flung it in the fire, and entirely gave up his idea of bringing the Reformer into England to make use of him against the pope, fearing that such a torch would set the whole kingdom in a blaze. He thought only how he could seize him and punish him for his arrogance.

He sent for Cromwell. Before him on the table lay the treatise by Tyndale, which Vaughan had copied and sent. ‘These pages,’ said Henry to his minister, while pointing to the manuscript, ‘These pages are the work of a visionary: they are full of lies, sedition, and calumny. Vaughan shows too much affection for Tyndale.[103] Let him beware of inviting him to come into the kingdom. He is a perverse and hardened character, who cannot be changed. I am too happy that he is out of England.’

Cromwell retired in vexation. He wrote to Vaughan; 58but the king found the letter too weak, and Cromwell had to correct it to make it harmonize with the wrath of the prince.[104] An ambitious man, he bent before the obstinate will of his master; but the loss of Tyndale seemed irreparable. Accordingly, while informing Vaughan of the king’s anger, he added that, if wholesome reflection should bring Tyndale to reason, the king was ‘so inclined to mercy, pity, and compassion[105] that he would doubtless see him with pleasure. Vaughan, whose heart Tyndale had gained, began to hunt after him again, and had a second interview with him. He gave him Cromwell’s letter to read, and, when the Reformer came to the words we have just quoted about Henry’s compassion, his eyes filled with tears.[106] ‘What gracious words!’ he exclaimed. ‘Yes,’ said Vaughan; ‘they have such sweetness that they would break the hardest heart in the world.’ Tyndale, deeply moved, tried to find some mode of fulfilling his duty towards God and towards the king. ‘If his Majesty,’ he said, ‘would condescend to permit the Holy Scriptures to circulate among the people in all their purity, as they do in the states of the emperor and in other Christian countries, I would bind myself never to write again. I would throw myself at his feet, offering my body as a sacrifice, ready to submit, if necessary, to torture and death.’

But a gulf lay between the monarch and the Reformer. Henry VIII. saw the seeds of heresy in the Scriptures, and Tyndale rejected every reformation which they wished to carry out by proscribing the Bible. ‘Heresy springeth not from the Scriptures,’ he said, ‘no more than darkness from the sun.’[107] Tyndale disappeared again, and the name of his hiding-place is unknown.

Henry Fails To Gain Tynsdale.

59The King of England was not discouraged by the check he had received. He wanted men possessed of talent and zeal—men resolved to attack the pope. Cambridge had given England a teacher who might be placed beside, and perhaps even above, Latimer and Tyndale. This was John Fryth. He thirsted for the truth; he sought God, and was determined to give himself wholly to Jesus Christ. One day Cromwell said to the king, ‘What a pity it is, your Highness, that a man so distinguished as Fryth in letters and sciences should be among the sectarians!’ Like Tyndale, he had quitted England. Cromwell, with Henry’s consent, wrote to Vaughan: ‘His Majesty strongly desires the reconciliation of Fryth, who (he firmly believes) is not so far advanced as Tyndale in the evil way. Always full of mercy, the king is ready to receive him to favor. Try to attract him charitably, politically.’ Vaughan immediately began his inquiries,—it was May, 1531,—but the first news he received was that Fryth, a minister of the Gospel, was just married in Holland. ‘This marriage,’ he wrote to the king, ‘may by chance hinder my persuasion.’[108] This was not all: Fryth was boldly printing, at Amsterdam, Tyndale’s answer to Sir Thomas More. Henry was forced to give him up, as he had given up his friend. He succeeded with none but Latimer, and even the chaplain told him many harsh truths. There was a decided incompatibility between the spiritual reform and the political reform. The work of God refused to ally itself with the work of the throne. The Christian faith and the visible Church are two distinct things. Some (and among them the Reformers) require Christianity—a living Christianity; others (and it was the case of Henry and his prelates) look for the Church and its hierarchy, and care little whether a living faith be found there or not. This is a capital error. Real religion must exist first; and then this religion must produce a true religious society. Tyndale, Fryth, and their friends desired to begin with religion; Henry and his followers 60with an ecclesiastical society hostile to faith. The king and the reformers could not, therefore, come to an understanding. Henry, profoundly hurt by the boldness of those evangelical men, swore that, as they would not have peace, they should have war, ... war to the knife.

(January to March 1531.)

Henry VIII. desired to introduce great changes into the ecclesiastical corporation of his kingdom. His royal power had much to bear from the power of the clergy. It was the same in all Catholic monarchies; but England had more to complain of than others. Of the three estates, Clergy, Nobility, and Commons, the first was the most powerful. The nobility had been weakened by the civil wars; the commons had long been without authority and energy; the prelates thus occupied the first rank, so that in 1529 an archbishop and cardinal (Wolsey) was the most powerful man in England, not even the king excepted. Henry had felt the yoke, and wished to free himself, not only from the domination of the pope, but also from the influence of the higher clergy. If he had only intended to be avenged of the pontiff, it would have been enough to allow the Reformation to act; when a mighty wind blows from heaven, it sweeps away all the contrivances of men. But Henry was deficient neither in prudence nor calculation. He feared lest a diversity of doctrine should engender disturbances in his kingdom. He wished to free himself from the pope and the prelates, without 61throwing himself into the arms of Tyndale or of Latimer.

Papal Rule Hurtful To The State.

Kings and people had observed that the domination of the papacy, and its authority over the clergy, were an insurmountable obstacle to the autonomy of the State. As far back as 1268, St. Louis had declared that France owed allegiance to God alone; and other princes had followed his example. Henry VIII. determined to do more—to break the chains which bound the clergy to the Romish throne, and fasten them to the crown. The power of England, delivered from the papacy, which had been its cankerworm, would then be developed with freedom and energy, and would place the country in the foremost rank among nations. The renovating spirit of the age was favorable to Henry’s plans; without delay he must put into execution the bold plan which Cromwell had unrolled before his eyes in Whitehall Park. Henry could think of nothing but getting himself recognized as head of the Church.

This important revolution could not be accomplished by a simple act of royal authority—in England particularly, where constitutional principles already possessed an incontestable influence. It was necessary to prevail upon the clergy to cross the Rubicon by emancipating themselves from Rome. But how bring it about? This was the subject of the meditations of the sagacious Cromwell, who, gradually rising in the king’s confidence to the place formerly held by Wolsey, made a different use of it. Urged by ambition, possessing an energetic character, a sound judgment, unshaken firmness, no obstacle could arrest his activity. He sought how he could give the king the spiritual sceptre, and this was the plan on which he fixed. The kings of England had been known occasionally to revive old laws fallen into desuetude, and visit with heavy penalties those who had violated them. Cromwell represented to the king that the statutes made punishable any man who should recognize a dignity established by the pope in the English Church; that Wolsey, by exercising the functions of papal legate, had encroached 62upon the rights of the Crown and been condemned, which was but justice; while the members of the clergy—who had recognized the unlawful jurisdiction of the pretended legate—had thereby become as guilty as he had been. ‘The statute of Præmunire,’ he said, ‘condemns them as well as their chief.’ Henry, who listened attentively, found the expedient of his Secretary of State was in conformity with the letter of the law, and that it put all the clergy in his power. He did not hesitate to give full power to his ministers. Under such a state of things there was not one innocent person in England; the two houses of parliament, the privy council, all the nation must be brought to the bar. Henry, full of ‘condescension,’ was pleased to confine himself to the clergy.

Embarrassment Of The Clergy.

The convocation of the province of Canterbury having met on the 7th of January, 1531, Cromwell entered the hall, and quietly took his seat among the bishops; then rising, he informed them that their property and benefices were to be confiscated for the good of his Majesty, because they had submitted to the unconstitutional power of the cardinal. What terrible news! It was a thunderbolt to those selfish prelates; they were amazed. At length some of them plucked up a little courage. ‘The king himself had sanctioned the authority of the cardinal-legate,’ they said. ‘We merely obeyed his supreme will. Our resistance to his Majesty’s proclamations would infallibly have ruined us.’—‘That is of no consequence,’ was the reply; ‘there was the law: you should obey the constitution of the country even at the peril of your lives.’[109] The terrified bishops laid at the foot of the throne a magnificent sum, by which they hoped to redeem their offences and their benefices. But that was not what Henry desired: he pretended to set little store by their money. The threat of confiscation must constrain them to pay a ransom of still greater value. ‘My lords,’ said Cromwell, ‘in a petition that some of you presented 63to the pope not long ago, you called the king your soul and your head.[110] Come, then, expressly recognize the supremacy of the king over the Church,[111] and his majesty, of his great goodness, will grant you your pardon.’ What a demand! The distracted clergy assembled, and a deliberation of extreme importance began. ‘The words in the address to the pope,’ said some, ‘were a mere form, and had not the meaning ascribed to them.’—‘The king being unable to untie the Gordian knot at Rome,’ said others, alluding to the divorce, ‘intends to cut it with his sword.’[112]—‘The secular power,’ exclaimed the most zealous, ‘has no voice in ecclesiastical matters. To recognize the king as head of the Church would be to overthrow the catholic faith.... The head of the Church is the pope.’ The debate lasted three days, and, as Henry’s ministers pointed to the theocratic government of Israel, a priest exclaimed, ‘We oppose the New Testament to the Old; according to the gospel, Christ is head of the Church.’ When this was told the king, he said, ‘Very well, I consent. If you declare me head of the Church you may add under God.’ In this way the papal claims were compromised all the more. ‘We will expose ourselves to everything,’ they said, ‘rather than dethrone the Roman pontiff.’

The Bishops of Lincoln and Exeter were deputed to beseech the king to withdraw his demand: they could not so much as obtain an audience. Henry had made up his mind: the priests must yield. The only means of their obtaining pardon (they were told) was by their renouncing the papal supremacy. The bishops made a fresh attempt to satisfy both the requirements of the king and those of their own conscience. ‘Shrink before the clergy and they are lions,’ the courtiers said; ‘withstand them and they are sheep.’—‘Your fate is in your own hands. If you refuse 64the king’s demand, the disgrace of Wolsey may show you what you may expect.’ Archbishop Warham, president of the Convocation, a prudent man, far advanced in years, and near his end, tried to hit upon some compromise. The great movements which agitated the Church all over Europe disturbed him. He had in times past complained to the king of Wolsey’s usurpations,[113] and was not far from recognizing the royal supremacy. He proposed to insert a simple clause in the act conferring the required jurisdiction on the king, namely, Quantum per legem Christi licet, so far as the law of Christ permits. ‘Mother of God!’ exclaimed the king, who, like his royal brother Francis I., had a habit of saying irreverent things, ‘you have played me a shrewd turn. I thought to have made fools of those prelates, and now you have so ordered the business that they are likely to make a fool of me. Go to them again, and let me have the business passed without any quantums or tantums.... So far as the law of Christ permits! Such a reserve would make one believe that my authority was disputable.’[114]

The Clergy Submit.

Henry’s ministers ventured on this occasion to resist him: they showed him that this clause would prevent an immediate rupture with Rome, and it might be repealed hereafter. He yielded at last, and the archbishop submitted the clause with the amendment to convocation. It was a solemn moment for England. The bishops were convinced that the king was asking them to do what was wrong, the end of which would be a rupture with Rome. In the time of Hildebrand the prelates would have answered No, and found a sympathetic support in the laity. But things had changed; the people were beginning to be weary of the long domination of the priests. The primate, desirous of ending the matter, said to his colleagues: ‘Do you recognize the king as sole protector of the Church and clergy of England, and, so far as is allowed by the law of Christ, also as your supreme head?’ All remained speechless. ‘Will you let me 65know your opinions?’ resumed the archbishop. There was a dead silence. ‘Whoever is silent seems to consent,’ said the primate.—‘Then we are all silent,’ answered one of the members.[115] Were these words inspired by courage or by cowardice? Were they an assent or a protest? We cannot say. In this matter we cannot side either with the king or with the priests. The heart of man easily takes the part of those who are oppressed; but here the oppressed were also oppressors. Convocation next gave its support to the opinion of the universities respecting the divorce, and thus Henry gained his first victory.

Now that the king had the power, the clergy were permitted to give him their money. They offered a hundred thousand pounds sterling,—an enormous sum for those times,—nearly equivalent to fifteen times as much of our money. On the 22d of March, 1531, the courteous archbishop signed the document which at one stroke deprived the clergy of England of both riches and honor.[116]

The discussion was still more animated in the Convocation of York. ‘If you proclaim the king supreme head,’ said Bishop Tonstal, ‘it can only be in temporal matters.’—‘Indeed!’ retorted Henry’s minister, ‘is an act of convocation necessary to determine that the king reigns?‘—‘If spiritual things are meant,’ answered the bishop, ‘I withdraw from convocation that I may not withdraw from the Church.’[117]

‘My lords,’ said Henry, ‘no one disputes your right to preach and administer the sacraments.[118] Did not Paul submit to Cæsar’s tribunal, and our Saviour himself to Pilate’s?’ Henry’s ecclesiastical theories prevailed also at 66York. A great revolution was effected in England, and fresh compromises were to consolidate it.

The king, having obtained what he desired, condescended in his great mercy to pardon the clergy for their unpardonable offence of having recognized Wolsey as papal legate. At the request of the commons this amnesty was extended to all England. The nation, which at first saw nothing in this affair but an act enfranchising themselves from the usurped power of the popes, showed their gratitude to Henry; but there was a reverse to the medal. If the pope was despoiled, the king was invested. Was not the function ascribed to him contrary to the Gospel? Would not this act impress upon the Anglican Reformation a territorial and aristocratic character, which would introduce into the Reformed Church the world with all its splendor and wealth? If the royal preëminence endows the Anglican Church with the pomps of worship, of classical studies, of high dignities, will it not also carry along with it luxury, sinecures, and worldliness among the prelates? Shall we not see the royal authority pronounce on questions of dogma, and declare the most sacred doctrines indifferent? A little later an attempt was made to limit the power of the king in religious matters. ‘We give not to our princes the ministry of God’s Word or sacraments,’ says the thirty-seventh Article of Religion.

(March to June 1531.)

The king, having obtained so important a concession from the clergy, turned to his parliament to ask a service of another kind,—one in his eyes still more urgent.

67On the 30th of March, 1531, the session being about to terminate, Sir Thomas More, the chancellor, went down to the House of Commons, and submitted to them the decision of the various universities on the king’s marriage and the power of the pope. The Commons looked at the affair essentially from a political point of view; they did not understand that, because the king had lived twenty years with the queen, he ought not to be separated from her. The documents placed before their eyes ‘made them detest the marriage’ of Henry and Catherine.[119] The chancellor desired the members to report in their respective counties and towns that the king had not asked for this divorce of his own will or pleasure, but ‘only for the discharge of his conscience and surety of the succession of his crown.’[120] ‘Enlighten the people,’ he said, ‘and preserve peace in the nation, with the sentiments of loyalty due to the monarch.’

Catherine’s Reply.

The king hastened to use the powers which universities, clergy, and parliament had placed in his hands. Immediately after the prorogation certain lords went down to Greenwich and laid before the queen the decisions which condemned her marriage, and urged her to accept the arbitration of four bishops and four lay peers. Catherine replied, sadly but firmly,—‘I pray you tell the king I say I am his lawful wife, and in that point I will abide until the court of Rome determine to the contrary.’[121]

The divorce which, notwithstanding Catherine’s refusal, was approaching, caused great agitation among the people; and the members of parliament had some trouble to preserve order, as Sir Thomas More had desired them. Priests proclaimed from their pulpits the downfall of the Church and the coming of Antichrist; the mendicant friars scattered discontent in every house which they entered, the most fanatical of them not fearing to insinuate that the wrath of God would soon hurl the impious prince from his throne. In towns and villages, in castles and alehouses, men talked 68of nothing but the divorce and the primacy claimed by the king. Women standing at their doors, men gathering round the blacksmith’s forge, spoke more or less disrespectfully of parliament, the bishops, the dangers of the Romish Church, and the prospects of the Reformation. If a few friends met at night around the hearth, they told strange tales to one another. The king, queen, pope, devil, saints, Cromwell, and the higher clergy formed the subject of their conversation. The gipsies at that time strolling through the country added to the confusion. Sometimes they would appear in the midst of these animated discussions, and prophesy lamentable events, at times calling up the dead to make them speak of the future. The terrible calamities they predicted froze their hearers with affright, and their sinister prophecies were the cause of disorders and even of crimes. Accordingly an act was passed pronouncing the penalty of banishment against them.[122]

An unfortunate event tended still more to strike men’s imaginations. It was reported that the Bishop of Rochester, that prelate so terrible to the reformers and so good to the poor, had narrowly escaped being poisoned by his cook. Seventeen persons were taken ill after eating porridge at the episcopal palace. One of the bishop’s gentlemen died, as well as a poor woman to whom the remains of the food had been given. It was maliciously remarked that the bishop was the only one who frankly opposed the divorce and the royal supremacy. Calumny even aimed at the throne. When Henry heard of this, he resolved to make short work of all such nonsense; he ordered the offence to be deemed as high-treason, and the wretched cook was taken to Smithfield, there to be boiled to death.[123] This was a variation of the penalty pronounced upon the evangelicals. Such was the cruel justice of the sixteenth century.

Reginald Pole.

While the universities, parliament, convocation, and the 69nation appeared to support Henry VIII., one voice was raised against the divorce. It was that of a young man brought up by the king, and that voice moved him deeply. There still remained in England some scions of the house of York, and among them a nephew of that unhappy Warwick whom Henry VII. had cruelly put to death. Warwick had left a sister Margaret, and the king, desirous of appeasing the remorse he suffered on account of the tragical end of that prince, ‘the most innocent of men,’[124] had married her to Sir Richard Pole, a gentleman of her own family. She was left a widow with two daughters and three sons. The youngest, Reginald, became a favorite with Henry VIII., who destined him for the archiepiscopal see of Canterbury. ‘Your kindnesses are such,’ said Pole to him, ‘that a king could grant no more, even to a son.’[125] But Reginald, to whom his mother had told the story of the execution of the unhappy Warwick, had contracted an invincible hatred against the Tudors. Accordingly, in despite of certain evangelical tendencies, Pole, seeing Henry separating from the pope, resolved to throw himself into the arms of the pontiff. Reginald, invested with the Roman purple, rose to be president of the council and primate of all England under Queen Mary. Elegant in his manners, with a fine intellect, and sincere in his religious convictions, he was selfish, irritable, and ambitious. Desires of elevation and revenge led a noble nature astray. If the branch of which he was the representative was ever to recover the crown, it could only be by the help of the Roman pontiffs. Henceforward their cause was his. Loaded with benefits by Henry VIII., he was incessantly pursued by the recollection of the rights of Rome and of the White Rose; and he went so far as to insult before all Europe the prince who had been his first friend.

At this time Pole was living at a house in the country, 70which Henry had given him. One day he received at this charming retreat a communication from the Duke of Norfolk. ‘The king destines you for the highest honors of the English Church,’ wrote this nobleman, ‘and offers you at once the important sees of York and Winchester, left vacant by the death of Cardinal Wolsey.’ At the same time the duke asked Pole’s opinion about the divorce. Reginald’s brothers, and particularly Lord Montague, entreated him to answer as all the catholic world had answered, and not irritate a prince whose anger would ruin them all. The blood of Warwick and the king’s revolt against Rome induced Pole to reject with horror all the honors which Henry offered; and yet that prince was his benefactor. He fancied he had discovered a middle course which would permit him to satisfy alike his conscience and his king.

He went to Whitehall, where Henry received him like a friend. Pole hesitated in distress; he wished to let the king know his thoughts, but the words would not come to his lips. At last, encouraged by the prince’s affability, he summoned up his resolution, and, in a voice trembling with emotion, said: ‘You must not separate from the queen.’ Henry had expected something different. Is it thus that his kindnesses are repaid? His eyes flashed with anger, and he laid his hand on his sword. Pole humbled himself. ‘If I possess any knowledge, to whom do I owe it unless to your Majesty? In listening to me you are listening to your own pupil.’[126] The king recovered himself, and said,—‘I will consider your opinion, and send you my answer.’ Pole withdrew. ‘He put me in such a passion,’ said the king to one of his gentlemen, ‘that I nearly struck him.... But there is something in the man that wins my heart.’

Montague and Reginald’s other brother again conjured him to accept the high position which the king reserved for him; but his soul revolted at being subordinate to a Tudor. He therefore wrote a memoir, which he presented to Henry, and in which he entreated him to submit implicitly the divorce 71question to the court of Rome. ‘How could I speak against your marriage with the queen?’ he said. ‘Should I not accuse your Majesty of having lived for more than twenty years in an unlawful union?[127] By the divorce you will array all the powers against you,—the pope, the emperor; and as for the French ... we can never find in our hearts to trust them. You are at this moment on the verge of an abyss.... One step more, and all is over.[128] There is only one way of safety left your Grace, and that is submission to the pope.’ Henry was moved. The boldness with which this young nobleman dared accuse him, irritated his pride; still his friendship prevailed, and he forgave it. Pole received the permission he had asked to leave England, with the promise of the continued payment of his pension.

Catherine Leaves Windsor.

Reginald Pole was, as it were, the last link that united the royal pair. Thus far the king had continued to show the queen every respect; their mutual affection seemed the same, only they occupied separate rooms.[129] Henry now decided to take an important step. On the 14th of July a new deputation entered the queen’s apartment, one of whom informed her that as her marriage with Prince Arthur had been duly consummated she could not be the wife of her husband’s brother. Then after reproaching her with having, contrary to the laws of England and the dignity of the crown, cited his Majesty before the pope’s tribunal, he desired her to choose for her residence either the castle of Oking or of Estamsteed, or the monastery of Bisham. Catherine remained calm, and replied,—‘Wheresoever I retire, nothing can deprive me of the title which belongs to me. I shall always be his Majesty’s wife.’[130] She left Windsor the same day, and removed to the More, a splendid mansion which Wolsey had surrounded with beautiful gardens; 72then to Estamsteed, and finally to Ampthill. The king never saw her again; but all the papists and discontented rallied round her. She entered into correspondence with the sovereigns of Europe, and became the centre of a party opposed to the emancipation of England.

(September 1531 to 1532.)

As Henry, by breaking with Catherine, had broken with the pope, he felt the necessity of uniting more closely with his clergy. Wishing to proceed to the establishment of his new dignity, he required bishops, and particularly dexterous bishops. He therefore made Edward Lee, Archbishop of York, and Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester; and these two men, devoted to scholastic doctrines, ambitious and servile, were commissioned to inaugurate the new ecclesiastical monarchy of the King of England. Although the pope had hastened to send off their bulls, they declared they held their dignity ‘immediately and only’ of the king,[131] and began without delay to organize a strange league. If the king needed the bishops against the pope, the bishops needed the king against the reformers. It was not long before this alliance received the baptism of blood.

But before proceeding so far, the prelates deliberated about the means of raising the 118,000l. they had bound themselves to pay the king. Each wished to make his own 73share as small as possible, and throw the largest part of the burden upon his colleagues. The bishops determined to place it in great measure on the shoulders of the parochial clergy.

Stokesley, Bishop of London, began the battle. An able, greedy, violent man, and jealous of his prerogatives, he called a meeting of six or eight priests on whom he believed he could depend, in order to draw up with their assistance such resolutions as he could afterwards impose more easily upon their brethren. These picked ecclesiastics were desired to meet on the 1st of September, 1531, in the chapter-house of St. Paul’s.

The bishop’s plan had got wind, and excited general indignation in the city. Was it just that the victims should pay the fine? Some of the laity, delighted at seeing the clergy quarrelling, sought to fan the flame instead of extinguishing it.

A Clerical Riot.

When the 1st of September arrived the bishop entered the chapter-house with his officers, where the conference with the eight priests was to be held. Presently an unusual noise was heard round St. Paul’s: not only the six or eight priests, but six hundred, accompanied by a great number of citizens and common people, made their appearance. The crowd swayed to and fro before the cathedral gates, shouting and clamoring to be admitted into the chapter-house on the same footing as the select few. What was to be done? The prelate’s councillors advised him to add a few of the less violent priests to those he had already chosen. Stokesley adopted their advice, hoping that the gates and bolts would be strong enough to keep out the rest. Accordingly he drew up a list of new members, and one of his officers, going out to the angry crowd, read the names of those whom the bishop had selected. The latter came forward, not without trouble; but at the same time the excluded priests made a vigorous attempt to enter. There was a fierce struggle of men pushing and shouting, but the bishop’s officials having passed in quickly, those who had been nominated hurriedly 74closed the doors. So far the victory seemed to rest with the bishop, and he was about to speak, when the uproar became deafening. The priests outside, exasperated because their financial matters were to be settled without them, protested that they ought to hold their own purse-strings. Laying hands on whatever they could find, and aided by the laity, they began to batter the door of the chapter-house. They succeeded: the door gave way, and all, priests and citizens, rushed in together.[132] The bishop’s officials tried in vain to stop them; they were roughly pushed aside.[133] Their gowns were torn, their faces streamed with perspiration, their features were disfigured, and some even were wounded. The furious priests entered the room at last, storming and shouting. It was more like a pack of hounds rushing on a stag than the reverend clergy of the metropolis of England appearing before their bishop. The prelate, who had tact, showed no anger, but sought rather to calm the rioters. ‘My brethren,’ he said, ‘I marvel not a little why ye be so heady. Ye know not what shall be said to you, therefore I pray you hear me patiently. Ye all know that we be men frail of condition, and by our lack of wisdom have misdemeaned ourselves towards the king and fallen in a præmunire, by reason whereof all our lands, goods, and chattels were to him a forfeit, and our bodies ready to be imprisoned. Yet his Grace of his great clemency is pleased to pardon us, and to accept of a little instead of the whole of our benefices—about one hundred thousand pounds, to be paid in five years. I exhort you to bear your parts towards payment of this sum granted.’[134]

This was just what the priests did not want. They thought it strange to be asked for money for an offence they had not committed. ‘My lord,’ answered one, ‘we have 75never offended against the præmumire, we have never meddled with cardinal’s faculties.[135] Let the bishops and abbots pay; they committed the offence, and they have good places.’—‘My lord,’ added another, ‘twenty nobles[136] a year is but a bare living for a priest, and yet it is all we have. Everything is now so dear that poverty compels us to say No. Having no need of the king’s pardon we have no desire to pay.’ These words were drowned in applause. ‘No,’ exclaimed the crowd, which was getting noisy again, ‘we will pay nothing.’ The bishop’s officers grew angry, and came to high words; the priests returned abuse for abuse; and the citizens, delighted to see their ‘masters’ quarrelling, fanned the strife. From words they soon came to blows. The episcopal ushers, who tried to restore order, were ‘buffeted and stricken,’ and even the bishop’s life was in danger. At last the meeting broke up in great confusion. Stokesley hastened to complain to the chancellor, Sir Thomas More, who, being a great friend of the prelate’s, sent fifteen priests and five laymen to prison. They deserved it, no doubt; but the bishops, who, to spare their superfluity, robbed poor curates of their necessaries, were more guilty still.

The Bishops And Priests.

Such was the unity that existed between the bishops and the priests of England at the very time the Reformation was appearing at the doors. The prelates understood the danger to which they were exposed through that evangelical doctrine, the source of light and life. They knew that all their ecclesiastical pretensions would crumble away before the breath of the divine Word. Accordingly, not content with robbing of their little substance the poor pastors to whom they should have been as fathers, they determined to deprive those whom they called heretics, not only of their money, but of their liberty and life. Would Henry permit this?

The king did not wish to withdraw England from the 76papal jurisdiction without the assent of the clergy. If he did so of his own authority, the priests would rise against him and compare him to Luther. There were at that time three great parties in Christendom: the evangelical, the catholic, and the popish. Henry purposed to overthrow popery, but without going so far as evangelism: he desired to remain in catholicism. One means occurred of satisfying the clergy. Although they were fanatical partisans of the Church, they had sacrificed the pope; they now imagined that, by sacrificing a few heretics, they would atone for their cowardly submission. In a later age Louis XIV. did the same to make up for errors of another kind. The provincial synod of Canterbury met and addressed the king: ‘Your Highness one time defended the Church with your pen, when you were only a member of it; now that you are its supreme head, your Majesty should crush its enemies, and so shall your merits exceed all praise.’[137]

In order to prove that he was not another Luther, Henry VIII. consented to hand over the disciples of that heretic to the priests, and gave them authority to imprison and burn them, provided they would aid the king to resume the power usurped by the pope. The bishops immediately began to hunt down the friends of the Gospel.

A will had given rise to much talk in the county of Gloucester. William Tracy, a gentleman of irreproachable conduct and ‘full of good works, equally generous to the clergy and the laity,’[138] had died, praying God to save his soul through the merits of Jesus Christ, but leaving no money to the priests for masses. The primate of England had his bones dug up and burnt. But this was not enough: they must also burn the living.



Proclamation Against Papal Bulls.

The first blows were aimed at the court-chaplain. The bishops, finding it dangerous to have such a man near the king, would have liked (Latimer tells us) to place him on burning coals.[139] But Henry loved him, the blow failed, and the priests had to turn to those who were not so well at court. Thomas Bilney, whose conversion had begun the Reformation in England,[140] had been compelled to do penance at St. Paul’s Cross; but from that time he became the prey of the direst terror. His backsliding had manifested the weakness of his faith. Bilney possessed a sincere and lively piety, but a judgment less sound than many of his friends. He had not got rid of certain scruples which in Luther and Calvin had yielded to the supreme authority of God’s Word.[141] In his opinion none but priests consecrated by bishops had the power to bind and loose.[142] This mixture of truth and error had caused his fall. Such sincere but imperfectly enlightened persons are always to be met with—persons who, agitated by the scruples of their conscience, waver between Rome and the Word of God.

At last faith gained the upper hand in Bilney. Leaving his Cambridge friends, he had gone into the Eastern counties to meet his martyrdom. One day, arriving at a hermitage 78in the vicinity of Norwich, where a pious woman dwelt, his words converted her to Christ.[143] He then began to preach ‘openly in the fields’ to great crowds. His voice was heard in all the county. Weeping over his former fall, he said: ‘That doctrine which I once abjured is the truth. Let my example be a lesson to all who hear me.’

Before long he turned his steps in the direction of London, and, stopping at Ipswich, was not content to preach the Gospel only, but violently attacked the errors of Rome before an astonished audience.[144] Some monks had crept among his hearers, and Bilney, perceiving them, called out: ‘The Lamb of God taketh away the sins of the world. If the Bishop of Rome dares say that the hood of St. Francis saves, he blasphemes the blood of the Saviour.’ John Huggen, one of the monks, immediately made a note of the words. Bilney continued: ‘To invoke the saints and not Christ, is to put the head under the feet and the feet above the head.’[145] Richard Seman, the other brother, took down these words. ‘Men will come after me,’ continued Bilney, ‘who will teach the same faith, the true gospel of our Saviour, and will disentangle you from the errors in which deceivers have bound you so long.’ Brother Julius hastened to write down the bold prediction.

Latimer, surrounded by the favors of the king and the luxury of the great, watched his friend from afar. He called to mind their walks in the fields round Cambridge, their serious conversation as they climbed the hill afterwards called after them the ‘heretic’s hill,’[146] and the visits they had paid together to the poor and to the prisoners.[147] Latimer had seen Bilney very recently at Cambridge in fear and anguish, and had tried in vain to restore him to peace. ‘He now 79rejoiced that God had endued him with such strength of faith that he was ready to be burnt for Christ’s sake.’

Bilney And Petit In Prison.

Bilney, drawing still nearer to London, arrived at Greenwich about the middle of July. He procured some New Testaments, and, hiding them carefully under his clothes, called upon a humble Christian named Staple. Taking them ‘out of his sleeves,’ he desired Staple to distribute them among his friends. Then, as if impelled by a thirst for martyrdom, he turned again towards Norwich, whose bishop, Richard Nix, a blind octogenarian, was in the front rank of the persecutors. Arriving at the solitary place where the pious ‘anachoress’ lived, he left one of the precious volumes with her. This visit cost Bilney his life. The poor solitary read the New Testament, and lent it to the people who came to see her. The bishop, hearing of it, informed Sir Thomas More, who had Bilney arrested,[148] brought to London, and shut up in the Tower.

Bilney began to breathe again: a load was taken off him; he was about to suffer the penalty his fall deserved. In the room next his was John Petit, a member of parliament of some eloquence, who had distributed his books and his alms in England and beyond the seas. Philips, the under-gaoler of the Tower, who was a good man, told the two prisoners that only a wooden partition separated them, which was a source of great joy to both. He would often remove a panel, and permit them to converse and take their frugal meals together.[149]

This happiness did not last long. Bilney’s trial was to take place at Norwich, where he had been captured: the aged Bishop Nix wanted to make an example in his diocese. A crowd of monks—Augustins, Dominicans, Franciscans, and Carmelites—visited the prison of the evangelist to convert him. Dr. Gall, provincial of the Franciscans, having consented that the prisoner should make use of Scripture,[150] 80was shaken in his faith; but, on the other hand, Stokes, an Augustin and a determined papist, repeated to Bilney: ‘If you die in your opinions, you will be lost.’

The trial commenced, and the Ipswich monks gave their evidence. ‘He said,’ deposed William Cade, ‘that the Jews and Saracens would have been converted long since, if the idolatry of the Christians had not disgusted them with Christianity.’—‘I heard him say,’ added Richard Neale: ‘“down with your gods of gold, silver, and stone.”’—‘He stated,’ resumed Cade, ‘that the priests take away the offerings from the saints, and hang them about their women’s necks; and then, if the offerings do not prove fine enough, they are put upon the images again.’[151]

Every one foresaw the end of this piteous trial. One of Bilney’s friends endeavored to save him. Latimer took the matter into the pulpit, and conjured the judges to decide according to justice. Although Bilney’s name was not uttered, they all knew who was meant. The Bishop of London went and complained to the king that his chaplain had the audacity to defend the heretic against the bishop and his judges.[152] ‘There is not a preacher in the world,’ said Latimer, ‘who would not have spoken as I have done, although Bilney had never existed.’ The chaplain escaped once more, thanks to the favor he enjoyed with Henry.

Bilney was condemned, and, after being degraded by the priests, was handed over to the sheriff, who, having great respect for his virtues, begged pardon for discharging his duty. The prudent bishop wrote to the chancellor, asking for an order to burn the heretic. ‘Burn him first,’ rudely answered More, ‘and then ask me for a bill of indemnity.’[153]

Bilney With His Friends.

A few of Bilney’s friends went to Norwich to bid him farewell: among them was Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury. It was in the evening, and Bilney was taking his 81last meal. On the table stood some frugal fare (ale brew), and on his countenance beamed the joy that filled his soul. ‘I am surprised,’ said one of his friends, ‘that you can eat so cheerfully.’—‘I only follow the example of the husbandmen of the county,’ answered Bilney, ‘who, having a ruinous house to dwell in, yet bestow cost so long as they may hold it up.’ With these words he rose from the table, and sat down near his friends, one of whom said to him: ‘To-morrow the fire will make you feel its devouring fierceness, but God’s Holy Spirit will cool it for your everlasting refreshing.’ Bilney, appearing to reflect upon what had been said, stretched out his hand towards the lamp that was burning on the table, and placed his finger in the flame. ‘What are you doing?’ they exclaimed. ‘Nothing,’ he replied; ‘I am only trying my flesh. To-morrow God’s rods shall burn my whole body in the fire.’ And, still keeping his finger in the flame, as if he were making a curious experiment, he continued: ‘I feel that fire by God’s ordinance is naturally hot; but yet I am persuaded, by God’s Holy Word and the experience of the martyrs, that when the flames consume me I shall not feel them. Howsoever, this stubble of my body shall be wasted by it, a pain for the time is followed by joy unspeakable.’[154] He then withdrew his finger, the first joint of which was burnt. He added, ‘When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burnt.[155] ‘These words remained imprinted on the hearts of all who heard them until the day of their death,’ says a chronicler.

Beyond the city gate—that known as the Bishop’s gate—was a low valley, called the Lollards’ pit: it was surrounded by rising ground, forming a sort of amphitheatre. On Saturday, the 19th of August, a body of javelin-men came to fetch Bilney, who met them at the prison gate. 82One of his friends approaching and exhorting him to be firm, Bilney replied: ‘When the sailor goes on board his ship and launches out into the stormy sea, he is tossed to and fro by the waves; but the hope of reaching a peaceful haven makes him bear the danger. My voyage is beginning, but whatever storms I shall feel, my ship will soon reach the port.’[156]

Bilney passed through the streets of Norwich in the midst of a dense crowd; his demeanor was grave, his features calm. His head had been shaved, and he wore a layman’s gown. Dr. Warner, one of his friends, accompanied him; another distributed liberal alms all along the route. The procession descended into the Lollards’ pit, while the spectators covered the surrounding hills. On arriving at the place of punishment, Bilney fell on his knees and prayed, and then rising up, warmly embraced the stake and kissed it.[157] Turning his eyes towards heaven, he next repeated the Apostles’ Creed, and when he confessed the incarnation and crucifixion of the Saviour his emotion was such that even the spectators were moved. Recovering himself, he took off his gown, and ascended the pile, reciting the hundred and forty-third psalm. Thrice he repeated the second verse: ‘Enter not into judgment with thy servant for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.’ And then he added: ‘I stretch forth my hands unto thee; my soul thirsteth after thee.’ Turning towards the executioner, he said: ‘Are you ready?’—‘Yes,’ was the reply. Bilney placed himself against the post, and held up the chain which bound him to it. His friend Warner, with eyes filled with tears, took a last farewell. Bilney smiled kindly at him and said: ‘Doctor, pasce gregem tuum; feed your flock, that when the Lord cometh he may find you so doing.’ Several monks who had given evidence against him, perceiving the emotion of the spectators, began to tremble, and whispered to the martyr: ‘These people will believe 83that we are the cause of your death, and will withhold their alms,’ Upon which Bilney said to them: ‘Good folks, be not angry against these men for my sake; even should they be the authors of my death, it is not they.’[158] He knew that his death proceeded from the will of God. The torch was applied to the pile: the fire smouldered for a few minutes, and then suddenly burning up fiercely, the martyr was heard to utter the name of Jesus several times. A strong wind which blew the flames on one side prolonged his agony; thrice they seemed to retire from him, and thrice they returned, until at length, the whole pile being kindled, he expired.

Revolution In Men’s Mind.

A strange revolution took place in men’s minds after this death: they praised Bilney, and even his persecutors acknowledged his virtues. ‘Mother of Christ,’ exclaimed the Bishop of Norwich (it was his usual oath), ‘I fear I have burnt Abel and let Cain go.’ Latimer was inconsolable; twenty years later he still lamented his friend, and one day (preaching before Edward VI.) he called to mind that Bilney was always doing good, even to his enemies, and styled him ‘that blessed martyr of God.’[159]

One martyrdom was not sufficient for the enemies of the Reformation. Stokesley, Lee, Gardiner, and other prelates and priests, feeling themselves guilty towards Rome, which they had sacrificed to their personal ambition, desired to expiate their faults by sacrificing the reformers. Seeing at their feet a fatal gulf, dug between them and the Roman pontiff by their faithlessness, they desired to fill it up with corpses. The persecution continued.

There was at that time a pious evangelist in the dungeons of the Bishop of London. He was fastened upright to the wall, with chains round his neck, waist, and legs. Usually the most guilty prisoners were permitted to sit down, and even to lie on the floor; but for this man there was no rest. 84It was Richard Bayfield, accused of bringing from the continent a number of New Testaments translated by Tyndale.[160] When one of his gaolers told him of Bilney’s martyrdom, he exclaimed: ‘And I too, and hundreds of men with me, will die for the faith he has confessed.’ He was brought shortly afterwards before the episcopal court. ‘With what intent,’ asked Stokesley, ‘did you bring into the country the errors of Luther, Œcolampadius the great heretic, and others of that damnable sect?’—‘To make the Gospel known,’ answered Bayfield, ‘and to glorify God before the people.’[161] Accordingly, the bishop, having condemned and then degraded him, summoned the lord mayor and sheriffs of London, ‘by the bowels of Jesus Christ’ (he had the presumption to say), to do to Bayfield ‘according to the laudable custom of the famous realm of England.’[162] ‘O ye priests,’ said the gospeller, as if inspired by the Spirit of God, ‘is it not enough that your lives are wicked, but you must prevent the life according to the Gospel from spreading among the people?’ The bishop took up his crosier and struck Bayfield so violently on the chest that he fell backwards and fainted.[163] He revived by degrees, and said, on regaining his consciousness: ‘I thank God that I am delivered from the wicked church of Antichrist, and am going to be a member of the true Church which reigns triumphant in heaven.’ He mounted the pile; the flames touching him only on one side, consumed his left arm. With his right hand Bayfield separated it from his body, and the arm fell. Shortly after this he ceased to pray, because he had ceased to live.

John Tewkesbury, one of the most respected merchants in London, whom the bishops had put twice to the rack 85already, and whose limbs they had broken,[164] felt his courage revived by the martyrdom of his friend. Christ alone, he said habitually: these two words were all his theology. He was arrested, taken to the house of Sir Thomas More at Chelsea, shut up in the porter’s lodge, his hands, feet, and head being held in the stocks;[165] but they could not obtain from him the recantation they desired. The officers took him into the chancellor’s garden, and bound him so tightly to the tree of truth, as the renowned scholar called it, that the blood started out of his eyes; after which they scourged him.[166] Tewkesbury remained firm.

On the 16th of December the Bishop of London went to Chelsea and formed a court. ‘Thou art a heretic,’ said Stokesley, ‘a backslider; thou hast incurred the great excommunication. We shall deliver thee up to the secular power.’ He was burnt alive at Smithfield on the 20th of December, 1531. ‘Now,’ said the fanatical chancellor, ‘now is he uttering cries in hell!’

Utopias Of The Bishops.

Such were at this period the cruel utopias of the bishops and of the witty Sir Thomas More. Other evangelical Christians were thrown into prison. In vain did one of them exclaim: ‘the more they persecute this sect, the more will it increase.’[167] That opinion did not check the persecution. ‘It is impossible,’ says Foxe (doubtless with some exaggeration), ‘to name all who were persecuted before the time of Queen Anne Boleyn. As well try to count the grains of sand on the seashore!’

Thus did the real Reformation show by the blood of its martyrs that it had nothing to do with the policy, the tyranny, the intrigues, and the divorce of Henry VIII. If these 86men of God had not been burnt by that prince, it might possibly have been imagined that he was the author of the transformation of England; but the blood of the reformers cried to heaven that he was its executioner.

(March to May 1532.)

Henry VIII. having permitted the bishops to execute their task of persecution, proceeded to carry out his own, that of making the papacy disgorge. Unhappily for the clergy, the king could not attack the pope, and they entirely escaped the blows. The duel between Henry and Clement was about to become more violent, and in the space of three months (March, April, and May) the Romish Church, stripped of important prerogatives, would learn that, after so many ages of wealth and honor, the hour of its humiliation had come at last.

Henry was determined, above all things, not to permit his cause to be tried at Rome. What would be thought if he yielded? ‘Could the pope,’ wrote Henry to his envoys, ‘constrain kings to leave the charge God had entrusted to them, in order to humble themselves before him? That would be to tread under foot the glory of our person and the privileges of our kingdom. If the pope persists, take your leave of the pontiff, and return to us immediately,’—‘The pope,’ added Norfolk, ‘would do well to reflect if he intend the continuance of good obedience of England to the see apostolic.’[168]

87Catherine on her part did not remain behind: she wrote a pathetic letter to the pope, informing him that her husband had banished her from the palace. Clement, in the depths of his perplexity, behaved, however, very properly: he called upon the king (25th January) to take back the queen, and to dismiss Anne Boleyn from court. Henry spiritedly rejected the pontiff’s demand. ‘Never was a prince treated by a pope as your Holiness has treated me,’ he said; ‘not painted reason,[169] but the truth alone, must be our guide.’ The king prepared to begin the emancipation of England.

Character Of Cromwell.

Thomas Cromwell is the representative of the political reform achieved by that prince. He was one of those powerful natures which God creates to work important things. His prompt and sure judgment taught him what it would be possible to do under a Tudor king, and his intrepid energy put him in a position to accomplish it. He had an instinctive horror of superstitions and abuses, tracked them to their remotest corner, and threw them down with a vigorous arm. Every obstacle was scattered under the wheels of his car. He even defended the evangelicals against their persecutors, without committing himself, however, and encouraged the reading of Holy Scripture; but the royal supremacy, of which he was the originator, was his idol.

The exactions of Rome in England were numerous: the king and Cromwell were content for the moment to abolish one, the appropriation by the papacy of the first year’s income of all ecclesiastical benefices. ‘These annates,’ said Cromwell, ‘have cost England eight hundred thousand ducats since the second year of Henry VII.[170] If, in consequence of the abolition of annates, the pope does not send a bishop his bull of ordination, the archbishop or two bishops shall ordain him, as in the old times.’ Accordingly, in March, 1532, the Lower House agreed to a resolution, 88which they expressed in these words: A cest bille les communes sont assentes, To this bill the Commons assent.

The bishops were overjoyed: they had to incur great expenses for their establishment, and the first money arising from their benefice went to the pope. Their friends used to make them pecuniary advances; but if the bishop died shortly after his enthronization, these advances were lost. Some of the bishops, fearing the opposition of the pope, exclaimed: ‘These exactions are contrary to God’s law. St. Paul bids us withdraw ourselves from all such as walk inordinately. Therefore, if the pope claims to keep the annates, let it please your Majesty and parliament to withdraw the obedience of the people from the see of Rome.’[171] The king was more moderate than the prelates: he said he would wait a year or two before giving his assent to the bill.

If the bishops refused the pope his ancient revenue, they refused the king the new authority claimed by the crown, and maintained that no secular power had any right to meddle with them.[172] Cromwell resisted them, and determined to carry out the reform of abuses. ‘The clergy,’ said the Commons to the king, ‘make laws in convocation without your assent and ours which are in opposition to the statutes of the realm, and then excommunicate those who violate such laws.’[173] A second time the frightened bishops vainly prayed the king to make his laws harmonize with theirs. Henry VIII. insisted that the Church should conform to the State, and not the State to the Church, and he was inexorable. The bishops knew well that it was their union with powerful pontiffs, always ready to defend them against kings, which had given them so much strength in the middle ages, and that now they must yield. They therefore lowered their flag before the authority which they had themselves set up. Convocation did, indeed, make a last effort. It represented 89that ‘the authority of bishops proceeds immediately from God, and from no power of any secular prince, as your Highness hath shown in your own book most excellently written against Martin Luther.’ But the king was firm, and made the prelates yield at last.[174] Thus was a great revolution accomplished: the spiritual power was taken away from those arrogant priests who had so long usurped the rights of the members of the Church. It was only justice; but it ought to have been placed in better hands than those of Henry VIII.

Contradictory Oaths.

Cromwell was preparing a fresh blow that would strike the pontiff’s triple crown. He drew his master’s attention to the oaths which the bishops took at their consecration, both to the king and to the pope. Henry first read the oath to the pope. ‘I swear,’ said the bishop, ‘to defend the papacy of Rome, the regality of St. Peter, against all men. If I know of any plot against the pope, I will resist it with all my might, and will give him warning. Heretics, schismatics, and rebels to our holy father, I shall resist and persecute with all my power.’[175] On the other hand, the bishops took an oath to the king at the same time, wherein they renounced every clause or grant which, coming from the pope, might be in any way detrimental to his Majesty. In one breath they must obey the pope and disobey him.

Such contradictions could not last: the king wanted the English to be, not with Rome but with England. Accordingly he sent for the Speaker of the Commons, and said to him: ‘On examining the matter closely, I find that the bishops, instead of being wholly my subjects, are only so by halves. They swear an oath to the pope quite contrary to that they swear to the crown; so that they are the pope’s subjects rather than mine.[176] I refer the matter to your care.’ Parliament was prorogued three days later on account 90of the plague; but the prelates declared that they renounced all orders of the pope prejudicial to his Majesty’s rights.[177]

The political party was delighted, the papal party confounded. The convents reëchoed with rumors, maledictions, and the strangest projects. The monks, during the visits they made in their daily rounds, raved against the encroachments made on the power of the pope. When they went up into the pulpit, they declaimed against the sacrilege of which Cromwell (they said) was the author and the English people the victims.

To the last the English priests had hoped in Sir Thomas More. That disciple of Erasmus had acted like his master. After assailing the Romish superstitions with biting jests, he had turned round, and seeing the Reformation attack them with weapons still more powerful, he had fought against the evangelicals with fire. For two years he had filled the office of lord-chancellor with unequalled activity and integrity. Convocation having offered him four thousand pounds sterling ‘for the pains he had taken in God’s quarrel,’[178] he answered: ‘I will receive no recompense save from God alone;’ and when the priests urged him to accept the money he said: ‘I would sooner throw it into the Thames.’ He did not persecute from any mercenary motives; but the more he advanced, the more bigoted and fanatical he became. Every Sunday he put on a surplice and sang mass at Chelsea. The Duke of Norfolk surprised him one day in this equipment. ‘What do I see?’ he exclaimed. ‘My lord-chancellor acting the parish clerk ... you dishonour your office and your king.’[179]—‘Not so,’ answered Sir Thomas, seriously, ‘for I am honoring his master and ours.’

The great question of the bishop’s oath warned him that he could not serve both the king and the pope. His mind was soon made up. In the afternoon of the 16th of May he went to Whitehall gardens, where the king awaited him, 91and in the presence of the Duke of Norfolk resigned the seals.[180] On his return home, he cheerfully told his wife and daughters of his resignation, but they were much disturbed by it. As for Sir Thomas, delighted at being freed from his charge, he indulged more than ever in his flagellations, without renouncing his witty sayings—Erasmus and Loyola combined in one.

Henry gave the seals to Sir Thomas Audley, a man well disposed towards the Gospel: this was preparing the emancipation of England. Yet the Reformation was still exposed to great danger.

Real Founders Of Reform.

Henry VIII. wished to abolish popery and set catholicism in its place—maintain the doctrine of Rome, but substitute the authority of the king for that of the pontiff. He was wrong in keeping the catholic doctrine; he was wrong in establishing the jurisdiction of the prince in the church. Evangelical Christians had to contend against these two evils in England, and to establish the supreme and exclusive sovereignty of the Word of God. Can we blame them if they have not entirely succeeded? To attain their object they willingly have poured out their blood.


There are writers who seriously ascribe the Reformation of England to the divorce of Henry VIII., and thus silently pass over the Word of God and the labors of the evangelical men who really founded protestant Christianity in that 92country. As well forget that light proceeds from the sun. But for the faith of such men as Bilney, Latimer, and Tyndale, the Church of England, with its king, ministers of state, parliament, bishops, cathedrals, liturgy, hierarchy, and ceremonies, would have been a gallant bark, well supplied with masts, sails, and rigging, and manned by able sailors; but acted on by no breath from heaven. The Church would have stood still. It is in the humble members of the kingdom of God that its real strength lies. ‘Those whom the Lord has exalted to high estate,’ says Calvin, ‘most often fall back little by little, or are ruined at one blow.’ England, with its wealth and grandeur, needed a counter-poise: the living faith of the poor in spirit. If a people attain a high degree of material prosperity; if they conquer by their energy the powers of nature; if they compel industry to lavish its stores on them; if they cover the seas with their ships, the more distant countries with their colonies and marts, and fill their warehouses and their dwellings with the produce of the whole earth, then great dangers encompass them. Material things threaten to extinguish the sacred fire in their bosoms; and unless the Holy Ghost raises up a salutary opposition against such snares, that people, instead of acting a moralizing and civilizing part, may turn out nothing better than a huge noisy machine, fitted only to satisfy vulgar appetites. For a nation to do justice to a high and glorious calling, it must have within itself the life of faith, holiness of conscience, and the hope of incorruptible riches. At this time there were men in England in whose hearts God had kindled a holy flame, and who were to become the most important instruments of its moral transformation.

Lambert’s Examination.

About the end of 1531, a young minister, John Nicholson, surnamed Lambert, was on board one of the ships that traded between London and Antwerp. He was chaplain to the English factory at the latter place, well versed in the writings of Luther and other reformers, intimate with Tyndale, and had preached the Gospel with power. Being accused 93of heresy by a certain Barlow, he was seized, put in irons, and sent to London. Alone in the ship, he retraced in his memory the principal events of his life—how he had been converted at Cambridge by Bilney’s ministry; how, mingling with the crowd around St. Paul’s Cross, he had heard the Bishop of Rochester preach against the New Testament; and how, terrified by the impiety of the priests, and burning with desire to gain the knowledge of God, he had crossed the sea. When he reached England, he was taken to Lambeth, where he underwent a preliminary examination. He was then taken to Ottford, where the archbishop had a fine palace, and was left there for some time in a miserable hole, almost without food. At last he was brought before the archbishop, and called upon to reply to forty-five different articles.

Lambert, during his residence on the Continent, had become thoroughly imbued with the principles of the Reformation. He believed that it was only by entire freedom of inquiry that men could be convinced of the truth. But he had not wandered without a compass over the vast ocean of human opinions: he had taken the Bible in his hand, believing firmly that every doctrine found therein is true, and everything that contradicts it is false. On the one hand he saw the ultramontane system which opposes religious freedom, freedom of the press, and even freedom of reading; on the other hand protestantism, which declares that every man ought to be free to examine Scripture and submit to its teachings.

The archbishop, attended by his officers, having taken his seat in the palace chapel, Lambert was brought in, and the examination began.

‘Have you read Luther’s books?’ asked the prelate.

‘Yes,’ replied Lambert, ‘and I thank God that ever I did so, for by them hath God shown me, and a vast multitude of others also, such light as the darkness cannot abide.’ Then testifying to the freedom of inquiry, he added: ‘Luther desires above all things that his writings and the writings 94of all his adversaries may be translated into all languages, to the intent that all people may see and know what is said on each side, whereby they may better judge what is the truth. And this is done not only by hundreds and thousands, but by whole cities and countries, both high and low. But (he continued) in England our prelates are so drowned in voluptuous living that they have no leisure to study God’s Scripture; they abhor it, no less than they abhor death, giving no other reason than the tyrannical saying of Sardanapalus: Sic volo, sic jubeo, sit pro ratione voluntas, So I will, so do I command, and let my will for reason stand.’[181]

Lambert, wishing to make these matters intelligible to the people, said: ‘When you desire to buy cloth, you will not be satisfied with seeing one merchant’s wares, but go from the first to the second, from the second to the third, to find who has the best cloth. Will you be more remiss about your soul’s health?... When you go a journey, not knowing perfectly the way, you will inquire of one man after another; so ought we likewise to seek about entering the kingdom of heaven. Chrysostom himself teaches you this.[182]... Read the works not only of Luther, but also of all others, be they ever so ill or good. No good law forbids it, but only constitutions pharisaical.’

Warham, who was as much opposed then to the liberty of the press as the popes are now, could see nothing but a boundless chaos in this freedom of inquiry. ‘Images are sufficient,’ he said, ‘to keep Christ and His saints in our remembrance.’ But Lambert exclaimed: ‘What have we to do with senseless stones or wood carved by the hand of man? That Word which came from the breast of Christ Himself showeth us perfectly His blessed will.’[183]

Warham having questioned Lambert as to the number of his followers, he answered: ‘A great multitude through all 95regions and realms of Christendom think in like wise as I have showed. I ween the multitude mounteth nigh unto the one half of Christendom.’[184] Lambert was taken back to prison; but More having resigned the seals, and Warham dying, this herald of liberty and truth saw his chains fall off. One day, however, he was to die by fire, and, forgetting all controversy, to exclaim in the midst of the flames: ‘Nothing but Jesus Christ.’

Latimer’s Evangelical Courage.

There was a minister of the Word in London who exasperated the friends of Rome more than all the rest; this man was Latimer. The court of Henry VIII., which was worldly, magnificent, fond of pleasures, intrigue, the elegances of dress, furniture, banquets, and refinement of language and manners, was not a favorable field for the Gospel. ‘It is very difficult,’ said a reformer, ‘that costly trappings, solemn banquets, the excesses of pride, a flood of pleasure and debauchery should not bring many evils in their train.’ Thus the priests and courtiers could not endure Latimer’s sermons. If Lambert was for freedom of inquiry, the king’s chaplain was for freedom of preaching: his zeal sometimes touched upon imprudence, and his biting wit, his extreme frankness, did not spare his superiors. One day, some honest merchants, who hungered and thirsted for the Word of God, begged him to come and preach in one of the city churches. Thrice he refused, but yielded to their prayers at last. The death of Bilney and of the other martyrs had wounded him deeply. He knew that wild beasts, when they have once tasted blood, thirst for more, and feared that these murders, these butcheries, would only make his adversaries fiercer. He determined to lash the persecuting prelates with his sarcasms. Having entered the pulpit, he preached from these words in the epistle of the day: Ye are not under the law, but under grace.[185] ‘What!’ he exclaimed, ‘St. Paul teaches Christians that they are not under the law.... What does he mean?... No more law! St. Paul invites Christians to break the law. 96Quick! inform against St. Paul, seize him and take him before my Lord Bishop of London!... The good apostle must be condemned to bear a fagot at St. Paul’s Cross. What a goodly sight to see St. Paul with a fagot on his back, before my lord in person seated on his episcopal throne!... But no! I am mistaken, his lordship would not be satisfied with so little ... he would sooner burn him.’[186]

This ironical language was to cost Latimer dear. To no purpose had he spoken in one of those churches which, being dependencies of a monastery, were not under episcopal jurisdiction: everybody about him condemned him and embittered his life. The courtiers talked of his sermons, shrugged their shoulders, pointed their fingers at him when he approached them, and turned their backs on him. The favor of the king, who had perhaps smiled at that burst of pulpit oratory, had some trouble to protect him. The court became more intolerable to him every day, and Latimer, withdrawing to his closet, gave vent to many a heavy sigh. ‘What tortures I endure!’ he said; ‘in what a world I live! Hatred ever at work; factions fighting one against the other; folly and vanity leading the dance; dissimulation, irreligion, debauchery, all the vices stalking abroad in open day.... It is too much. If I were able to do something ... but I have neither the talent nor the industry required to fight against these monsters.... I am weary of the court.’

Latimer Quits The Court.

Latimer had recently been presented to the living of West Kington, in the diocese of Salisbury. Wishing to uphold the liberty of the Christian Church, and seeing that it existed no longer in London, he resolved to try and find it elsewhere. ‘I am leaving,’ he said to one of his friends: ‘I shall go and live in my parish.’—‘What is that you say?’, exclaimed the other; ‘Cromwell, who is at the pinnacle of honors, and has profound designs, intends to do great things for you.... If you leave the court, you will be forgotten, 97and your rivals will rise to your place.’—‘The only fortune I desire,’ said Latimer, ‘is to be useful.’ He departed, turning his back on the episcopal crosier to which his friend had alluded.

Latimer began to preach with zeal in Wiltshire, and not only in his own parish, but in the parishes around him. His diligence was so great, his preaching so mighty, says Foxe,[187] that his hearers must either believe the doctrine he preached or rise against it. ‘Whosoever entereth not into the fold by the door, which is Christ, be he priest, bishop, or pope, is a robber,’ said he. ‘In the Church there are more thieves than shepherds, and more goats than sheep.’[188] His hearers were astounded. One of them (Dr. Sherwood) said to him: ‘What a sermon, or rather what a satire! If we believe you, all the hemp in England would not be enough to hang those thieves of bishops, priests, and curates.[189]... It is all exaggeration, no doubt, but such exaggeration is rash, audacious, and impious.’ The priests looked about for some valiant champion of Rome, ready to fight with him the quarrel of the Church.

One day there rode into the village an old doctor, of strange aspect; he wore no shirt, but was covered with a long gown that reached down to the horse’s heels, ‘all bedirted like a slobber,’ says a chronicler.[190] He took no care for the things of the body, in order that people should believe he was the more given up to the contemplation of the interests of the soul. He dismounted gravely from his horse, proclaimed his intention of fasting, and began a series of long prayers. This person, by name Hubberdin, the Don Quixote of Roman-catholicism, went wandering all over the kingdom, extolling the pope at the expense of kings and even of Jesus Christ, and declaiming against Luther, Zwingle, Tyndale, and Latimer.

98On a feast-day Hubberdin put on a clerical gown rather cleaner than the one he generally wore, and went into the pulpit, where he undertook to prove that the new doctrine came from the devil—which he demonstrated by stories, fables, dreams, and amusing dialogues. He danced and hopped and leaped about, and gesticulated, as if he were a stage-player, and his sermon a sort of interlude.[191] His hearers were surprised and diverted; Latimer was disgusted. ‘You lie,’ he said, ‘when you call the faith of Scripture a new doctrine, unless you mean to say that it makes new creatures of those who receive it.’

Hubberdin being unable to shut the mouth of the eloquent chaplain with his mountebank tricks, the bishops and nobility of the neighborhood resolved to denounce Latimer. A messenger handed him a writ, summoning him to appear personally before the Bishop of London to answer touching certain excesses and crimes committed by him.[192] Putting down the paper which contained this threatening message, Latimer began to reflect. His position was critical. He was at that time suffering from the stone, with pains in the head and bowels. It was in the dead of winter, and moreover he was alone at West Kington, with no friend to advise him. Being of a generous and daring temperament, he rushed hastily into the heat of the combat, but was easily dejected. ‘Jesu mercy! what a world is this,’ he exclaimed, ‘that I shall be put to so great labor and pains above my power for preaching of a poor simple sermon! But we must needs suffer, and so enter into the kingdom of Christ.’[193]

The terrible summons lay on the table. Latimer took it up and read it. He was no longer the brilliant court-chaplain who charmed fashionable congregations by his eloquence; he was a poor country minister, forsaken by all. 99He was sorrowful. ‘I am surprised,’ he said, ‘that my lord of London, who has so large a diocese in which he ought to preach the Word in season and out of season,[194] should have leisure enough to come and trouble me in my little parish ... wretched me, who am quite a stranger to him.’ He appealed to his ordinary; but Bishop Stokesley did not intend to let him go, and being as able as he was violent, he prayed the archbishop, as primate of all England, to summon Latimer before his court, and to commission himself (the Bishop of London) to examine him. The chaplain’s friends were terrified, and entreated him to leave England; but he began his journey to London.

Attempt To Entrap Latimer.

On the 29th of January, 1532, a court composed of bishops and doctors of the canon law assembled, under the presidency of Primate Warham, in St. Paul’s Cathedral. Latimer having appeared, the Bishop of London presented him a paper, and ordered him to sign it. The reformer took the paper and read it through. There were sixteen articles on belief in purgatory, the invocation of saints, the merit of pilgrimages, and lastly on the power of the keys which (said the document) belonged to the bishops of Rome, ‘even should their lives be wicked,’[195] and other such topics. Latimer returned the paper to Stokesley, saying: ‘I cannot sign it.’ Three times in one week he had to appear before his judges, and each time the same scene was repeated: both sides were inflexible. The priests then changed their tactics: they began to tease and embarrass Latimer with innumerable questions. As soon as one had finished, another began with sophistry and plausibility, and interminable subterfuges. Latimer tried to make his adversaries keep within the circle from which they were straying, but they would not hear him.

One day, as Latimer entered the hall, he noticed a change in the arrangement of the furniture. There was a chimney, 100in which there had been a fire before: on this day there was no fire, and the fireplace was invisible. Some tapestry hung down over it, and the table round which the judges sat was in the middle of the room. The accused was seated between the table and the chimney. ‘Master Latimer,’ said an aged bishop, whom he believed to be one of his friends, ‘pray speak a little louder: I am hard of hearing, as you know.’ Latimer, surprised at this remark, pricked up his ears, and fancied he heard in the fireplace the noise of a pen upon paper.[196] ‘Ho, ho!’ thought he, ‘they have hidden some one behind there to take down my answers.’ He replied cautiously to captious questions, much to the embarrassment of the judges.

Latimer was disgusted, not only with the tricks of his enemies, but still more with their ‘troublesome unquietness;’[197] because by keeping him in London they obliged him to neglect his duties, and especially because they made it a crime to preach the truth. The archbishop, wishing to gain him over by marks of esteem and affection, invited him to come and see him; but Latimer declined, being unwilling at any price to renounce the freedom of the pulpit. The reformers of the sixteenth century did not contend that all doctrines should be preached from the same pulpit, but that evangelical truth should be freely preached everywhere. ‘I have desired and still desire,’ wrote Latimer to the archbishop, ‘that our people should learn the difference between the doctrines which God has taught and those which proceed only from ourselves. Go, said Jesus, and teach all things.... What things?... all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and not whatsoever you think fit to preach.[198] Let us all then make an effort to preach with one voice the things of God. I have sought not my gain, but Christ’s gain; not my glory, but God’s glory. And so long 101as I have a breath of life remaining, I will continue to do so.’[199]

Thus spoke the bold preacher. It is by such unshakable fidelity that great revolutions are accomplished.

Latimer Excommunicated.

As Latimer was deaf to all their persuasion, there was nothing to be done but to threaten the stake. The charge was transferred to the Convocation of Canterbury, and on the 15th of March, 1532, he appeared before that body at Westminster. The fifteen articles were set before him. ‘Master Latimer,’ said the archbishop,’the synod calls upon you to sign these articles.’—‘I refuse,’ he answered.—All the bishops pressed him earnestly. ‘I refuse absolutely,’ he answered a second time. Warham, the friend of learning, could not make up his mind to condemn one of the finest geniuses of England. ‘Have pity on yourself,’ he said. ‘A third and last time we entreat you to sign these articles.’ Although Latimer knew that a negative would probably consign him to the stake, he still answered, ‘I refuse absolutely.’[200]

The patience of Convocation was now exhausted. ‘Heretic! obstinate heretic!’ exclaimed the bishops. ‘We have heard it from his own mouth. Let him be excommunicated.’ The sentence of excommunication was pronounced, and Latimer was taken to the Lollards’ Tower.

Great was the agitation both in city and court. The creatures of the priests were already singing in the streets songs with a burden like this:

Wherefore it were pity thou shouldst die for cold.[201]

‘Ah!’ said Latimer in the Martyr’s Tower, ‘if they had asked me to confess that I have been too prompt to use sarcasm, I should have been ready to do so, for sin is a heavy load. O God! unto Thee I cry; wash me in the blood of Jesus Christ.’ He looked for death, knowing well that few 102left that tower except for the scaffold. ‘What is to be done?’ said Warham and the bishops. Many of them would have handed the prisoner over to the magistrate to do what was customary, but the rule of the papacy was coming to an end in England, and Latimer was the king’s chaplain. One dexterous prelate suggested a means of reconciling everything. ‘We must obtain something from him, be it ever so little, and then report everywhere that he has recanted.’

Some priests went to see the prisoner: ‘Will you not yield anything?’ they asked.—‘I have been too violent,’ said Latimer, ‘and I humble myself accordingly.’—‘But will you not recognize the merit of works?’—‘No!’—‘Prayers to the saints?’—‘No!’—‘Purgatory?’—‘No!’—‘The power of the keys given to the pope?’—‘No! I tell you.’—A bright idea occurred to one of the priests. Luther taught that it was not only permitted, but praiseworthy, to have the crucifix and the images of the saints, provided that it was merely to remind us of them and not to invoke them. He had added, that the Reformation ought not to abolish fast days, but to strive to make them realities.[202] Latimer declared that he was of the same opinion.

The deputation hastened to carry this news to the bishops. The more fanatical of them could not make up their minds to be satisfied with so little. What! no purgatory, no virtue in the mass, no prayers to saints, no power of the keys, no meritorious works! It was a signal defeat; but the bishops knew that the king would not suffer the condemnation of his chaplain. Convocation decided, after a long discussion that if Master Latimer would sign the two articles, he should be absolved from the sentence of excommunication. In fact, on the 10th of April the Church withdrew the condemnation it had already pronounced.[203]



Franciscans Preach At Henry.

The vital principle of the Reformation of Henry VIII. was its opposition both to Rome and the Gospel. He did not hesitate, like many, between these two doctrines: he punished alike, by exile or by fire, the disciples of the Vatican and those of Holy Scripture.

Desiring to show that the resolution he had taken to separate from Catherine was immutable, the king had lodged Anne Boleyn in the palace at Greenwich, although the queen was still there, and had given her a reception room and a royal state. The crowd of courtiers, abandoning the setting star, turned towards that which was appearing above the horizon. Henry respected Anne’s person and was eager that all the world should know that if she was not actually queen she would be so one day. There was a want of delicacy and principle in the king’s conduct, at which the catholic party were much irritated, and not without a cause.

The monks of St. Francis who officiated in the royal chapel at Greenwich took every opportunity of asserting their attachment to Catherine and to the pope. Anne vainly tried to gain them over by her charms; if she succeeded with a few, she failed with the greater number. Their superior, Father Forest, Catherine’s confessor, warmly defended the rights of that unhappy princess. Preaching at St. Paul’s Cross, he delivered a sermon in which Henry was violently attacked, although he was not named. Those who had heard it made a great noise about it, and Forest was summoned to the court. ‘What will be done to him?’ people asked; but instead of sending him to prison, as many 104expected, the king received him well, spoke with him for half an hour, and ‘sent him a great piece of beef from his own table.’

On returning to his convent, Forest described with triumph this flattering reception; but the king did not attain his object. Among these monks there were men of independent, perhaps of fanatical, character, whom no favors could gain over.

One of them, by name Peto, until then unknown, but afterwards of great repute in the catholic world as cardinal legate from the pope in England,[204] thinking that Forest had not said enough, determined to go further. Anne Boleyn’s elevation filled him with anger: he longed to speak out, and as the king and all the court would be present in the chapel on the 1st of May, he chose for his text the words of the prophet Elijah to King Ahab: The dogs shall lick thy blood.[205] He drew a portrait of Ahab, described his malice and wickedness, and although he did not name Henry VIII., certain passages made the hearers feel uncomfortable. At the peroration, turning towards the king, he said: ‘Now hear, O king, what I have to say unto thee, as of old time Micaiah spoke to Ahab. This new marriage is unlawful. There are other preachers who, to become rich abbots or mighty bishops, betray thy soul, thy honor, and thy posterity. Take heed lest thou, being seduced like Ahab, find Ahab’s punishment ... who had his blood licked up by the dogs.’

The court was astounded; but the king, whose features were unmoved during this apostrophe, waited until the end of the service, left the chapel as if nothing had happened, and allowed Peto to depart for Canterbury. But Henry could not permit such invectives to pass unnoticed. A clergyman named Kirwan was commissioned to preach in the same chapel on the following Sunday. The congregation was still more numerous than before, and more curious also. 105Some monks of the order of Observants, friends of Peto, got into the rood-loft, determined to defend him. The doctor began his sermon. After establishing the lawfulness of Henry’s intended marriage, he came to the sermon of the preceding Sunday and the insults of the preacher. ‘I speak to thee, Peto,’ he exclaimed, ‘who makest thyself Micaiah; we look for thee, but thou art not to be found, having fled for fear and shame.’ There was a noise in the rood-loft, and one of the Observants named Elstow rose and called out: ‘You know that Father Peto is gone to Canterbury to a provincial council, but I am here to answer you. And to this combat I challenge thee, Kirwan, prophet of lies, who for thy own vainglory art betraying thy king into endless perdition.’

The chapel was instantly one scene of confusion: nothing could be heard. Then the king rose: his princely stature, his royal air, his majestic manners overawed the crowd. All were silent, and the agitated congregation left the chapel respectfully. Peto and his friend were summoned before the council. ‘You deserve to be sewn in a sack and thrown into the Thames,’ said one. ‘We fear nothing,’ answered Elstow; ‘the way to heaven is as short by water as by land.’[206]

Henry having thus made war on the partisans of the pope, turned to those of the Reformation. Like a child, he see-sawed to and fro, first on one side, then on the other; but his sport was a more terrible one, for every time he touched the ground the blood spurted forth.

Christian Meetings In London.

At that time there were many Christians in England to whom the Roman worship brought no edification. Having procured Tyndale’s translation of the Word of God, they felt that they possessed it not only for themselves but for others. They sought each others company, and met together to read the Bible and receive spiritual graces from God. Several Christian assemblies of this kind had been formed in London, in garrets, in warehouses, schools and shops, and one of them was held in a warehouse in Bow 106Lane. Among its frequenters was the son of a Gloucestershire knight, James Bainham, by name, a man well read in the classics, and a distinguished lawyer, respected by all for his piety and works of charity. To give advice freely to widows and orphans, to see justice done to the oppressed, to aid poor students, protect pious persons, and visit the prisons, were his daily occupations. ‘He was an earnest reader of Scripture, and mightily addicted to prayer.’[207] When he entered the meeting, every one could see that his countenance expressed a calm joy; but for a month past his Bow Lane friends noticed him to be agitated and cast down, and heard him sighing heavily. The cause was this. Sometime before (in 1531), when he was engaged about his business in the Middle Temple, this ‘model of lawyers’ had been arrested by order of More, who was still chancellor, and taken like a criminal to the house of the celebrated humanist at Chelsea. Sir Thomas, quite distressed at seeing a man so distinguished leave the Church of Rome, had employed all his eloquence to bring him back; but finding his efforts useless, he had ordered Bainham to be taken into his garden and tied to ‘the tree of truth.’ There the chancellor whipped him, or caused him to be whipped: we adopt the latter version, which is more probable.[208] Bainham having refused to give the names of the gentlemen of the Temple tainted with heresy, he was taken to the Tower. ‘Put him on the rack,’ cried the learned chancellor, now become a fanatical persecutor. The order was obeyed in his presence. The arms and legs of the unfortunate protestant were seized by the instrument and pulled in opposite directions; his limbs were dislocated, and he went lame out of the torture-chamber.[209]

Bainham Persecuted.

Sir Thomas had broken his victim’s limbs, but not his courage; and accordingly when Bainham was summoned 107before the Bishop of London, he went to the palace rejoicing to have to confess his Master once more. ‘Do you believe in purgatory?’ said Stokesley to him sternly. Bainham answered: ‘The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.’[210] ‘Do you believe that we ought to call upon the saints to pray for us?’ He again answered: ‘If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ the righteous.’[211]

A man who answered only by texts from Scripture was embarrassing. More and Stokesley made the most alluring promises, and no means were spared to bend him.[212] Before long they resorted to more serious representations: ‘The arms of the Church your mother are still open to you,’ they said; ‘but if you continue stubborn, they will close against you forever. It is now or never!’ For a whole month the bishop and the chancellor persevered in their entreaties; Bainham replied: ‘My faith is that of the holy Church.’ Hearing these words, Foxford, the bishop’s secretary, took out a paper. ‘Here is the abjuration,’ he said; ‘read it over.’ Bainham began: ‘I voluntarily, as a true penitent returned from my heresy, utterly abjure’.... At these words he stopped, and glancing over what followed, he continued: ‘No, these articles are not heretical, and I cannot retract them.’ Other springs were now set in motion to shake Bainham. The prayers of his friends, the threats of his enemies, especially the thought of his wife, whom he loved, and who would be left alone in destitution, exposed to the anger of the world: these things troubled his soul. He lost sight of the narrow path he ought to follow, and five days later he read his abjuration with a faint voice. But he had hardly got to the end before he burst into tears, and said, struggling with his emotion: ‘I reserve the doctrines.’ He consented to remain in the Roman Church, still preserving his evangelical faith. But this was not what the bishop and his officers meant. ‘Kiss that book,’ they said to 108him threateningly. Bainham, like one stunned, kissed the book; that was the sign; the adjuration was looked upon as complete. He was condemned to pay a fine of twenty pounds sterling, and to do penance at St. Paul’s Cross. After that he was set at liberty, on the 17th of February.

Bainham returned to the midst of his brethren: they looked sorrowfully at him, but did not reproach him with his fault. That was quite unnecessary. The worm of remorse was preying on him; he abhorred the fatal kiss by which he had sealed his fall; his conscience was never quiet; he could neither eat nor sleep, and trembled at the thought of death. At one time he would hide his anguish and stifle it within his breast; at another his grief would break forth, and he would try to relieve his pain by groans of sorrow. The thought of appearing before the tribunal of God made him faint. The restoration of conscience to all its rights was the foremost work of the Reformation. Luther, Calvin, and an endless number of more obscure reformers had reached the haven of safety through the midst of such tempests. ‘A tragedy was being acted in all protestant souls,’ says a writer who does not belong to the Reformation—the eternal tragedy of conscience.

Bainham felt that the only means of recovering peace was to accuse himself openly before God and man. Taking Tyndale’s New Testament in his hand, which was at once his joy and his strength, he went to St. Austin’s church, sat down quietly in the midst of the congregation, and then at a certain moment stood up and said: ‘I have denied the truth.’... He could not continue for his tears.[213] On recovering, he said: ‘If I were not to return again to the doctrine I have abjured, this word of Scripture would condemn me both body and soul at the day of judgment.’ And he lifted up the New Testament before all the congregation. ‘O my friends,’ he continued, ‘rather die than sin as I have done. The fires of hell have consumed me, and I would 109not feel them again for all the gold and glory of the world.’[214]

Then his enemies seized him again and shut him up in the bishop’s coal-cellar, where, after putting him in irons, they left him for four days. He was afterwards taken to the Tower, where he was scourged every day for a fortnight, and at last condemned as a relapsed heretic.

Bainham Executed.

On the eve of the execution four distinguished men, one of whom was Latimer, were dining together in London. It was commonly reported that Bainham was to be put to death for saying that Thomas à Becket was a traitor worthy of hell. ‘Is it worth a man’s while to sacrifice his life for such a trifle?’ said the four friends. ‘Let us go to Newgate and save him if possible.’ They were taken along several gloomy passages, and found themselves at last in the presence of a man, sitting on a little straw, holding a book in one hand and a candle in the other.[215] He was reading; it was Bainham. Latimer drew near him: ‘Take care,’ he said, ‘that no vainglory make you sacrifice your life for motives which are not worth the cost.’ ‘I am condemned,’ answered Bainham, ‘for trusting in Scripture and rejecting purgatory, masses, and meritorious works.’—‘I acknowledge that for such truths a man must be ready to die.’ Bainham was ready; and yet he burst into tears. ‘Why do you weep?’ asked Latimer. ‘I have a wife,’ answered the prisoner, ‘the best that man ever had. A widow, destitute of everything and without a supporter, everybody will point at her and say, That is the heretic’s wife.’[216] Latimer and his friends tried to console him, and then they departed from the gloomy dungeon.

The next day (30th of April, 1532) Bainham was taken to the scaffold. Soldiers on horseback surrounded the pile: Master Pave, the city clerk, directed the execution. Bainham, after a prayer, rose up, embraced the stake, and was fastened to it with a chain. ‘Good people,’ he said to the 110persons who stood round him, ‘I die for having said it is lawful for every man and woman to have God’s book. I die for having said that the true key of heaven is not that of the Bishop of Rome, but the preaching of the Gospel. I die for having said that there is no other purgatory than the cross of Christ, with its consequent persecutions and afflictions.’—‘Thou liest, thou heretic,’ exclaimed Pave; ‘thou hast denied the blessed sacrament of the altar.’—‘I do not deny the sacrament of Christ’s body,’ resumed Bainham, ‘but I do deny your idolatry to a piece of bread.’—‘Light the fire,’ shouted Pave. The executioners set fire to a train of gunpowder, and as the flame approached him, Bainham lifted up his eyes towards heaven, and said to the town clerk: ‘God forgive thee! the Lord forgive Sir Thomas More ... pray for me, all good people!’ The arms and legs of the martyr were soon consumed, and thinking only how to glorify his Saviour, he exclaimed: ‘Behold! you look for miracles, you may see one here; for in this fire I feel no more pain than if I were on a bed of roses.’[217] The primitive Church hardly had a more glorious martyr.

Pave had Bainham’s image continually before his eyes, and his last prayer rang day and night in his heart. In the garret of his house, far removed from noise, he had fitted up a kind of oratory, where he had placed a crucifix, before which he used to pray and shed bitter tears.[218] He abhorred himself: half mad, he suffered indescribable sorrow, and struggled under great anguish. The dying Bainham had said to him: ‘May God show thee more mercy than thou hast shown to me!’ But Pave could not believe in mercy: he saw no other remedy for his despair than death. About a year after Bainham’s martyrdom, he sent his domestics and clerks on different errands, keeping only one servant-maid in the house. As soon as his wife had gone to church, he went out himself, bought a rope, and hiding it carefully under his gown, went up into the garret. He stopped 111before the crucifix, and began to groan and weep. The servant ran upstairs. ‘Take this rusty sword,’ he said, ‘clean it well, and do not disturb me.’ She had scarcely left the room when he fastened the rope to a beam and hanged himself.

The maid, hearing no sound, again grew alarmed, went up to the garret, and seeing her master hanging, was struck with terror. She ran crying to the church to fetch her mistress home;[219] but it was too late: the wretched man could not be recalled to life.

The True Church Of God.

If the deaths of the martyrs plunged the wicked into the depths of despair, it often gave life to earnest souls. The crowd which had surrounded the scaffold of these men of God dispersed in profound emotion. Some returned to their fields, others to their shops or workrooms; but the pale faces of the martyrs followed them, their words sounded in their souls, their virtues softened many hearts most averse to the Gospel. ‘Oh! that I were with Bainham!’ exclaimed one.[220] These people continued for some time to frequent the Romish churches but ere long their consciences cried aloud to them: ‘It is Christ alone who saves us;’ and they forsook the rites in which they could find no consolation. They courted solitude; they procured the writings of Wickliffe and of Tyndale, and especially the New Testament, which they read in secret, and if any one came near, hid them hastily under a bed, at the bottom of a chest, in the hollow of a tree, or even under stones, until the enemy had retired and they could take the books up again. Then they whispered about them to their neighbors, and often had the joy of meeting with men who thought as they did. A surprising change was taking place. While the priests were loudly chanting in the cathedrals the praises of the saints, of the Virgin, and of the Corpus Domini, the people were whispering together about the Saviour meek and lowly in heart. All over England was heard a still, small voice such as Elijah heard, and on hearing it wrapped his 112face in his mantle and stood silent and motionless, because the Lord was there. Great changes were about to take place.

It is not without reason that we describe in some detail in this history the lives and deaths of these evangelical men. We desire to show that the Church in England, as in all the world, is not a mere ecclesiastical hierarchy, in which prelates exercise dominion over the inheritance of the Lord; nor a confused assemblage of men, whose spirit imagines about religion all kinds of doctrines contrary to the revelation from heaven, and whose profession of faith comprehends all the opinions that are found in the nation, from catholic scholasticism to pantheistic materialism. The Church of God, raised above the human systems of the superstitious and the incredulous alike, is the assembly of those who by a living faith are partakers of the righteousness of Christ and of the new life of which the Holy Ghost is the creator—of those in whom selfishness is vanquished, and who give themselves up to the Saviour to achieve with their brethren the conquest of the world. Such is the true Church of God; very different, it will be seen, from all those invented by man.

(February 1532 to March 1533.)

A man who for more than thirty years had had an important voice in the management of the ecclesiastical affairs of the kingdom now disappeared from the scene to give place to the most influential of the reformers of England. Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, a learned canonist, a skilful politician, a dexterous courtier, and the friend of 113letters, had made it his special work to exalt the sacerdotal prerogative, and to that end had had recourse to the surest means, by fighting against the idleness, ignorance, and corruption of the priests. He had even hoped for a reform of the clergy, provided it emanated from episcopal authority. But when he saw another reformation accomplished in the name of God’s Word, without priests and against the priests, he turned round and began to persecute the reformers, and to strengthen the papal authority. Alarmed at the proceedings of the Commons, he sent for three notaries, on the 24th February, 1532, and protested in their presence against every act of parliament derogatory to the authority of the Roman pontiff.[221]

Death Of Warham.

On the 22d August of the same year, just at the very height of the crisis, ‘the second pope,’ as he was sometimes called, was removed from his see by death, and the people anxiously wondered who would be appointed to his vacant place.

The choice was important, for the nomination might be the symbol of what the Church of England was to be. Would he be a prelate devoted to the pope, like Fisher; or a catholic favorable to the divorce, like Gardiner; or a moderate evangelical attached to the king, like Cranmer; or a decided reformer, like Latimer? At this moment, when a new era was beginning for Christendom, it was of consequence to know whom England would take for her guide; whether she would march at the head of civilization, like Germany, or bring up the rear, like Spain and Italy. The king did not favor either extreme, and hesitated between the two other candidates. All things considered, he had no confidence in such men as Longland and Gardiner, who might promise and not fulfil. He wanted somebody less political than the one and less fanatical than the other,—a man separated from the pope on principle, and not merely for convenience.

114Cranmer, after passing a few months at Rome, had returned to England.[222] Then, departing again for Germany on a mission from the king, he had arrived at Nuremburg, probably in the autumn of 1531. He examined with interest that ancient city,—its beautiful churches, its monumental fountains, its old and picturesque castle; but there was something that attracted him more than all these things. Being present at the celebration of the sacrament, he noticed that while the priest was muttering the Gospel in Latin at the altar, the deacon went up into the pulpit, and read it aloud in German.[223] He saw that, although there was still some appearance of catholicism in Nuremburg, in reality the Gospel reigned there. One man’s name often came up in the conversations he had with the principal persons in the city. They spoke to him of Osiander as of a man of great eloquence.[224] Cranmer followed the crowd which poured into the church of St. Lawrence, and was struck with the minister’s talent and piety. He sought his acquaintance, and the two doctors had many a conversation together, either in Cranmer’s house or in Osiander’s study; and the German divine, being gained over to the cause of Henry VIII., published shortly after a book on unlawful marriages.

Osiander’s Error.

Cranmer, who had an affectionate heart, loved to join the simple meals, the pious devotions, and the friendly conversations at Osiander’s house: he was soon almost like a member of the family. But, although his intimacy with the Nuremburg pastor grew stronger every day, he did not adopt all his opinions. When Osiander told him that he must substitute the authority of Holy Scripture for that of Rome, Cranmer gave his full assent; but the Englishman perceived that the German entertained views different from Luther’s on the justification of the sinner. ‘What justifies 115us,’ he said, ‘is not the imputation of the merits of Christ by faith, but the inward communication of his righteousness.’ ‘Christ,’ said Cranmer, ‘has paid the price of our redemption by the sacrifice of his body and the fulfilling of the law; and if we heartily believe in this work which he has perfected, we are justified. The justified man must be sanctified, and must work good works; but it is not the works that justify him.’[225] The conversation of the two friends turned also upon the Lord’s Supper. Whatever may have been Cranmer’s doctrine before, he soon came (like Calvin) to place the real presence of Christ not in the wafer which the priest holds between his fingers, but in the heart of the believer.[226]

In June, 1532, the protestant and Roman-catholic delegates arrived at Nuremburg to arrange the religious peace. The celibacy of the clergy immediately became one of the points discussed. It appeared to the chiefs of the papacy impossible to concede that article. ‘Rather abolish the mass entirely,’ exclaimed the Archbishop of Mayence, ‘than permit the marriage of priests.’ ‘They must come to that at last,’ said Luther; ‘God is overthrowing the mighty from their seat.’[227] Cranmer was of his opinion. ‘It is better,’ he said, ‘for a minister to have his own wife than to have other men’s wives, like the priests.’[228] ‘What services may not a pious wife do for the pastor her husband,’ added Osiander, ‘among the poor, the women, and the children?’

Cranmer had lost his wife at Cambridge, and his heart yearned for affection. Osiander’s family presented him a touching picture of domestic happiness. One of its members was a niece of Osiander’s wife.[229] Cranmer, charmed with her piety and candor, and hoping to find in her the 116virtuous woman who is a crown to her husband, asked her hand and married her, not heeding the unlawful command of those who ‘forbid to marry.’[230]

Still Cranmer did not forget his mission. The King of England was desirous of forming an alliance with the German protestants, and his agent made overtures to the electoral prince of Saxony. ‘First of all,’ answered the pious John Frederick, ‘the two kings (of France and England) must be in harmony with us as to the articles of faith.’[231] The alliance failed; but at the same moment, affairs took an unexpected turn. The emperor, who was marching against Solyman, desired the help of the King of England, and Granvelle had some talk with Cranmer on the subject. The latter was procuring carriages, horses, boats, tents, and other things necessary for his journey, with the intention of rejoining the emperor at Lintz, when a courier suddenly brought him orders to return to London.[232] It was very vexatious. Just as he was on the point of concluding an alliance with the nephew of Queen Catherine, in which the matter of the divorce would consequently be arranged, Henry’s envoy had to give up everything. He wondered anxiously what could be the motive of this sudden and extraordinary recall. The letters of his friends explained it.

Cranmer’s Hesitation.

Warham was dead, and the king thought of Cranmer to succeed him as Archbishop of Canterbury and primate of all England. The reformer was greatly moved: ‘Alas,’ he exclaimed, ‘no man has ever desired a bishopric less than myself.[233] If I accept it, I must resign the delights of study and the calm sweetness of an obscure condition.’[234] Knowing Henry’s domineering character and his peculiar religious principles, Cranmer thought that with him the reformation of England was impossible. He saw himself exposed to disputes without end: there would be no more peace for 117the most peaceable of men. A brilliant career, an exalted position—he was terrified. ‘My conscience,’ he said, ‘rebels against this call. Wretch that I am! I see nothing but troubles and conflicts and insurmountable dangers in my path.’

Upon mature reflection, Cranmer thought he might get out of his difficulty by gaining time, hoping that the king, who did not like delays, would doubtless give the see to another.[235] He sent an answer that important affairs prevented his return to England. Solyman had retreated before the emperor; the latter had determined to pass through Italy to Spain, and had appointed a meeting with the pope at Piacenza or Genoa. Henry’s ambassador thought it his duty to neutralize the fatal consequences of this interview; and Charles having left Vienna on the 4th of October, Cranmer followed him two days later. The exalted dignity that awaited him oppressed him like the nightmare. On his road he found neither inhabitants nor food, and hay was his only bed.[236] Sometimes he crossed battle-fields covered with the carcasses of Turks and Christians. A comet appeared in the east foreboding some tragic event. Many declared they had seen a flaming sword in the heavens. ‘These strange signs,’ he wrote to Henry,’announce some great mutation.’[237] Cranmer and his colleagues could not gain the pope to their side. Several months passed away, during which men’s minds became so excited, that the cardinals forgot all decorum. ‘Alas!’ says a catholic historian, ‘all the time this affair continued, they went to the consistory as if they were going to a play.’[238] Charles V. prevailed at last.

Then came that famous interview (October 1532) between the kings of France and England at Calais and Boulogne, 118which we have described elsewhere;[239] and the two princes having come to an understanding, Henry thought seriously of bringing the matter to an end. Did he marry Anne Boleyn at that time? Everything seems to point in that direction; and if we are to believe some of the most trustworthy historians, the marriage took place in the following month of November.[240] Perhaps it was quite a private wedding, the legal formalities not being completed. Contemporary testimony is at variance, and the point has not been cleared up. In any case, Henry determined to wait before making the marriage public. The conference the pope was about to hold at Bologna with the ambassador of Francis I.; the probability of an interview between the king of France and the pontiff at Marseilles, which might give a new aspect to the great affair; and perhaps the desire to confer about it with Cranmer, for whom he destined the see of Canterbury—seem to have induced the prince to defer the ceremony for a few weeks. He lost no time, however, in summoning the future primate to London.

A report having circulated in Italy, that the king was about to place Cranmer at the head of the English Church, the imperial court treated him with unusual consideration. Charles V., his ministers, and the foreign ambassadors, said openly that such a man richly deserved to hold a high place in the favor and government of the king his master.[241] About the middle of November, the emperor gave Cranmer his farewell audience; and the latter arrived in England not long after. Not wishing to act in opposition to general usage and clerical opinion, he thought it more prudent to leave his wife for a time with Osiander. He sent for her 119somewhat later, but she was never presented at court. It was not necessary, and it might only have embarrassed the pious German lady.

Cranmer And The King.

As soon as Cranmer reached London, he waited upon the king, being quite engrossed in thinking of what was about to take place between his sovereign and himself. Henry went straight to the point: he told him that he had nominated him Archbishop of Canterbury. Cranmer objected, but the king would take no refusal. In vain did the divine urge his reasons: the monarch was firm. It was no slight matter to contend with Henry VIII. Cranmer was alarmed at the effect produced by his resistance. ‘Your Highness,’ he said, ‘I most humbly implore your Grace’s pardon.’[242]

When he left the king, he hurried off to his friends, particularly to Cromwell. The burden which Henry was laying upon him seemed more insupportable than ever. Knowing how difficult it is to resist a prince of despotic character, he foresaw conflicts and perhaps compromises, which would embitter his life, and he could not make up his mind to sacrifice his happiness to the imperious will of the monarch. ‘Take care,’ said his friends, ‘it is as dangerous to refuse a favor from so absolute a prince as to insult him.’ But Cranmer’s conscience was concerned in his refusal. ‘I feel something within me,’ he said,[243] ‘which rebels against the supremacy of the pope, and all the superstitions to which I should have to submit as primate of England. No, I will not be a bishop!’ He might sacrifice his repose and his happiness, expose himself to painful struggles; but to recognize the pope and submit to his jurisdiction was an insurmountable obstacle. His friends shook their heads. ‘Your nolo episcopari,’ they said, ‘will not hold against our master’s volo te episcopum esse.[244] And after all, what is it? Permitting the king to place you at the summit of honors and power.... You refuse all that men desire.’ ‘I 120would sooner forfeit my life,’ answered Cranmer, ‘than do anything against my conscience to gratify my ambition.’[245]

Henry vexed at these delays, again summoned Cranmer to the palace, and bade him speak without fear. ‘If I accept this office,’ replied that sincere man, ‘I must receive it from the hands of the pope, and this my conscience will not permit me to do.... Neither the pope nor any other foreign prince has authority in this realm.’[246] Such a reason as this had great weight with Henry. He was silent for a little while as if reflecting,[247] and then said to Cranmer: ‘Can you prove what you have just said?’ ‘Certainly I can,’ answered the doctor; ‘Holy Scripture and the Fathers support the supreme authority of kings in their kingdoms, and thus prove the claims of the pope to be a miserable usurpation.’

Such a statement bound Henry to take another step in his reforms. As he had not yet thought of establishing bishops and archbishops without the pope, he sent for some learned lawyers, and asked them how he could confer the episcopal dignity on Cranmer without wounding the conscience of the future primate. The lawyers proposed, that as Cranmer refused to submit to the Roman primacy, some one should be sent to Rome to do in his stead all that the law required. ‘Let another do it if he likes,’ said Cranmer, ‘but super animam suam, at the risk of his soul. As for me I declare I will not acknowledge the authority of the pope any further than it agrees with the Word of God; and that I reserve the right of speaking against him and of attacking his errors.’

The lawyers found bad precedents to justify a bad measure. ‘Archbishop Warham,’ they said, ‘while preserving the advantages he derived from the state, protested against everything the state did prejudicial to Rome. If the deceased archbishop preserved the rights of the papacy, why should not the new one preserve those of the kingdom?... 121Besides (they added) the pope knows very well that when they make oath to him, every bishop does so salvo ordine meo, without prejudice to the rights of his order.’[248]

It having been conceded that in the act of consecration ‘the rights of the word of God’ should be reserved, Cranmer consented to become primate of England. Henry VIII., who was less advanced in practice than in theory, all the same demanded of Clement VII. the bulls necessary for the inauguration of the new archbishop. The pontiff only too happy to have still something to say to England, hastened to dispatch them, addressing them directly to Cranmer himself. But the latter who would accept nothing from the pope, sent them to the king, declaring that he would not receive his appointment from Rome.[249]

Cranmer’s Protest.

By accepting the call that was addressed to him, Cranmer meant to break with the order of the Middle Ages, and re-establish, so far as was in his power, that of the Gospel. But he would not conceal his intentions: all must be done in the light of day. On the 30th of March, 1533, he summoned to the chapter-house of Westminster Watkins, the king’s prothonotary, with other dignitaries of the Church and State. On entering, he took up a paper, and read aloud and distinctly: ‘I, Thomas, Archbishop of Canterbury, protest openly, publicly, and expressly,[250] that I will not bind myself by oath to anything contrary to the law of God, the rights of the King of England, and the laws of the realm; and that I will not be bound in aught that concerns liberty of speech, the government of the Church of England, and the reformation of all things that may seem to be necessary to be reformed therein. If my representative with the pope has taken in my name an oath contrary to my duty, I declare that he has done so without my knowledge, 122and that the said oath shall be null. I desire this protest to be repeated at each period of the present ceremony.’[251] Then turning to the prothonotary: ‘I beg you to prepare as many copies as may be necessary of this my protest.’

Cranmer left the chapter-house and entered the abbey, where the clergy and a numerous crowd awaited him. He was not satisfied with once declaring his independence of the papacy; he desired to do it several times. The greater the antiquity of the Romish power in Britain, the more he felt the necessity of proclaiming the supremacy of the divine Word. Having put on his sacerdotal robes, Cranmer stood at the top of the steps of the high altar, and said, turning towards the assembly: ‘I declare that I take the oath required of me only under the reserve contained in the protest I have made this day in the chapter-house.’ Then bending his knees before the altar, he read it a second time in presence of the bishops, priests, and people;[252] after which the bishops of Lincoln, Exeter, and St. Asaph consecrated him to the episcopate.

The archbishop, standing before the altar, prepared to receive the pallium, but first he had a duty to fulfil: if he sacrificed his repose, he did not intend to sacrifice his convictions. For the third time he took up the protest, and again read it[253] before the immense crowd that filled the cathedral.[254] The accustomed order of the ceremony having been twice interrupted by an extraordinary declaration, all were at liberty to praise or blame the action of the prelate as they pleased. Cranmer having thus thrice published his reserves, read at last the oath which the Archbishops of Canterbury were accustomed to make to St. Peter and to the holy apostolic Church of Rome, with the usual protest: salvo meo ordine (without prejudice to my order).

123Cranmer’s triple protest was an act of Christian decision. Some time afterwards he said: ‘I made that protest in good faith: I always loved simplicity and hated falseness.’ But it was wrong of him to use after it the formula ordinarily employed in consecrations. Doubtless it was nothing more than a form; a form that was imposed by the king, and Cranmer protested against all the bad it might contain: still ‘it is necessary to walk consistently in all things,’ as Calvin says;[255] and we here meet with one of those weaknesses which sometimes appear in the life of the pious reformer of England. He ought at no price to have made oath to the pope; that oath was a stain which in some measure tinged the whole of his episcopate. Yet if we were to condemn him severely, we should be forgetting that striking truth—in many things we offend all. Cranmer was the first in the breach, and he has claims to the consideration of those who are comfortably established in a position gained by him with so much suffering. The energy with which he thrice proclaimed his independence deserves our admiration. Nevertheless all weakness is a fault, and when that fault is committed in high station it may lead to fatal consequences. The sanctity of the oath taken by churchmen was compromised by Cranmer’s act, and we have seen in later times other divines secretly communing with Romish doctrines while appearing to reject popery. There have sometimes been disguised papists in the protestant Church of England.

Cranmer’s Labors.

After the ceremony the new archbishop returned to his place at Lambeth. From that hour this patron of letters, a scholar himself, a truly pious man, a distinguished preacher, and of indefatigable industry, never ceased to labor for the good of the Church. He was able to introduce Christian faith into many hearts, and sometimes to defend it against the king’s ill-humor. He constantly endeavored to spread around him moderation, charity, truth, piety, and peace. When Cranmer became primate of all England, on the 12430th of March, 1533, in that cathedral of Westminster, the burial-place of kings, the papal order was interred, and it might be foreseen that the apostolic order would be revived. England preserved episcopacy because it was the form under which she had received Christianity in the second century, and because she thought it necessary for the functions of inspection and government in the Church. But she rejected that Roman superstition which makes bishops the sole successors of the apostles, and maintains that they are invested with an indelible character and a spiritual power which no other minister possesses.[256] ‘Most assuredly,’ said Cranmer, ‘at the beginning of the religion of Christ, bishops and presbyters (priests) were not two things, but one only.’[257] He declared that a bishop was not necessary to make a pastor; that not only presbyters possessed this right, but ‘the people also by their election.’ ‘Before there were Christian princes, it was the people,’ he said, ‘who generally elected the bishops and priests.’ Cranmer was not the only man who professed these principles, which make of the episcopalian and the presbyterian constitution two varieties, having many things in common. The most venerable fathers of the Anglican Church—Pilkington, Coverdale, Whitgift, Fulke, Tyndale, Jewel, Bradford, Becon, and others—have acknowledged the identity of bishops and presbyters. By the Reformation, England belongs not to the papistical system of episcopacy, but to the evangelical system. A public act which would bring back that Church to her holy origin, would be a source of great prosperity to her.

The great reformers of England did not separate from Rome only, but also from the semi-catholicism that was intended to be substituted for it. To them the spirit and the life were in the ministry of the Word of God, and not in rites and ceremonies. By their noble example they have called all men of God to follow them.


(November 1532 to July 1553.)

Cranmer was on the archiepiscopal throne: if Anne Boleyn were now to take her seat on the royal throne by the side of Henry, it was the pope’s opinion that everything would be lost. Clement recurred once more to his favorite suggestion of bigamy, already advised by him in 1528 and 1530. True, this suggestion could not be acceptable either to Henry or to Charles V., but that made it all the better in the eyes of the pontiff: he would then have the appearance of assenting to the king’s plans without running the least risk of seeing them realized. ‘Rather than do what his Majesty asks,’ he said to one of the English envoys, ‘I would prefer granting him the necessary dispensation to have two wives: that would be a smaller scandal.’[258]

Tenacity Of The Pope.

The tenacity with which the pope advised Henry again and again to commit the crime of bigamy has not prevented the most illustrious advocates of catholicism from exclaiming that ‘to have two wives at once is a mystery of iniquity, of which there is no example in Christendom.’[259] A singular assertion after a cardinal and then a pope had on several occasions advised what they called ‘a mystery of iniquity.’ Again, for the third time, the king refused a remedy that was worse than the disease.

The pope wished at any price to prevent Rome from losing England; and turning to the other side, he resolved to 126try to gain over Charles V. and prevail upon him not to oppose the divorce. In order to succeed, Clement determined to undertake a journey to Bologna in the worst season of the year. He started on the 18th of November with six cardinals and a certain number of attendants, and took twenty days to reach that city by way of Perugia. Most of his officers had done everything to dissuade him from this painful expedition, but in vain. The rain fell in torrents; the rivers were swollen and unfordable; the roads muddy and broken up; the mules sank of fatigue one after another; the couriers who preceded him solicited the pope to travel on foot: and at last his Holiness’s favorite mule broke its leg. It mattered not: he must oppose the Reformation of England: the poor pontiff, already sick, had but this one idea. But the discomforts of the journey increased; the pope often arrived at inns where there was no bed, and had to sleep among the straw.[260] At last he reached Bologna on the 7th of December, but in such a plight that, notwithstanding his love for ceremonies, he entered the city furtively.

Another disappointment awaited him. The Cardinal of Ancona died, the most influential member of the Sacred College, and on whom Clement relied to gain over the emperor, who greatly respected him. But this did not cool the pontiff’s zeal: ‘I am thoroughly decided to please the king in this great matter,’[261] he said to Henry’s envoys, and added: ‘To have universal concord between all the princes of Christendom, I would give a joint of my hand.’[262] In fact Clement set to work and went so far as to tell Charles that, according to the theologians, the pope had no right to grant a dispensation for a marriage between brother and sister; but the emperor was immovable. The pope then proposed a 127truce of three or four years between Henry, Francis, and Charles, during which he would convoke a general council, to whom he would remit the whole affair. Francis informed Henry that all this was nothing but a trick.[263]

Henry Marries Anne Boleyn.

The king, convinced that the pope was trifling with him, no longer hesitated to follow the course which the interests of his people and his own happiness seemed to point out. He determined that Anne Boleyn should be his wife and Queen of England also. It was now that, according to the second hypothesis, the marriage took place. Cranmer states in a letter written on the 17th of June, 1533, that he did not perform the ceremony, that he did not hear of it until a fortnight after, and that it was celebrated ‘much about Saint Paul’s day last[264] (25th of January, 1533). Which date must we accept: this, or the 15th of November, given by Hall, Hollinshed, Burnet, and others? Cranmer’s language is not precise enough to settle the question.

Whatever may have been the date of the marriage—November or January—it became the universal topic of conversation in the beginning of 1533; people did not speak of it publicly, but in private, some attacking and others defending it. If the members of the Romish party circulated ridiculous stories and outrageous calumnies against Anne, the members of the national party replied that the purity of her life, her moderation, her chastity, her mildness, her discretion, her noble and exalted parentage, her pleasing manners, and (they added somewhat later) her fitness to give a successor to the crown of England, made her worthy of the royal favor.[265] Men may have gone too far in their reproaches as well as in their eulogies.

This important step on the part of Henry VIII. was accompanied with an explosion of murmurs against Clement VII. ‘The pope,’ he said, ‘wanders from the path of the Redeemer, 128who was obedient in this world to princes. What! must a prince submit to the arrogance of a human being whom God has put under him? Must a king humble himself before that man above whom he stands by the will of God? No! that would be a perversion of the order God has established.’ This is what Henry represented to Francis through Lord Rochford;[266] but the words did not touch the King of France, for the emperor was just then making several concessions to him, and the evangelicals of Paris were annoying him. From that hour the cordial feeling between the two monarchs gradually decreased. England turned her eyes more and more towards the Gospel, and France towards Rome. Just at the time when Anne Boleyn was about to reign in the palaces of Whitehall and Windsor, Catherine de Medicis was entering those of St. Germain and Fontainebleau. The contrast between the two nations became daily more distinct and striking: England was advancing towards liberty, and France towards the dragonnades.

Brief Of Excommunication.

The divorce between Rome and Whitehall soon became manifest. A brief of Clement VII. posted in February on the doors of all the churches in Flanders, in the states of the king’s enemy, and as near to England as possible, attracted a great number of readers.[267] ‘What shall we do?’ said the pontiff to Henry. ‘Shall we neglect thy soul’s safety?... We exhort thee, our son, under pain of excommunication, to restore Queen Catherine to the royal honors which are due to her, to cohabit with her, and to cease to associate publicly with Anne; and that within a month from the day on which this brief shall be presented to thee. Otherwise, when the said term shall have elapsed, we pronounce thee and the said Anne to be ipso facto excommunicate, 129and command all men to shun and avoid your presence.’[268] It would appear that this document, demanded by the imperialists, had been posted throughout Flanders without the pope’s knowledge.[269]

A copy was immediately forwarded to the king by his agents. He was surprised and agitated, but believed at last that it was forged by his enemies.[270] How could he imagine that the pope, just at the very time he was showing the king especial marks of his affection,[271] would (even conditionally) have anathematized and isolated him in the midst of his people? Henry sent a copy of the document to Benet, his agent at Rome, and desired him to ascertain carefully whether it did really proceed from the pope or not.

Benet presented the document to Clement as a paper forwarded to him by his friends in Flanders. The latter was ‘ashamed and in great perplexity,’ wrote the envoy.[272] He then read it again more attentively, stopped at certain passages, and seemed as if he were choking. Having come to the end, he expressed his surprise, and pretended that the copy differed from the original. ‘There is one mistake in particular which almost chokes the pope every time it is mentioned,’ wrote Benet to Cromwell. This mistake was the including of Queen Anne Boleyn in the censure, without giving her previous warning, which (they said) was contrary to all the commandments of God. Accordingly Dr. Benet received orders to bring up this mistake frequently in his audiences with the pope; and he did not fail to do so. At this moment, in which he was about to lose England, the pope was more uneasy at having committed an error of 130form with regard to Anne Boleyn than with having struck the monarch of a powerful kingdom with an interdict. There is, besides, no doubt that he dictated the unhappy phrase himself.

Benet and his friends took advantage of the pope’s vexation, and even increased it: they communicated the brief to the dignitaries of the Church in Clement’s household, and the latter acknowledged that the document must be offensive to his Majesty of England, and that ‘the pope was much to blame.’[273] Benet transmitted the pontiff’s errata to the king, but it was too late: the blow had taken effect. The indignant Henry was about to proceed ostentatiously to the very acts which Rome threatened with her thunders.

Whilst the pope was hesitating, England firmly pursued her emancipation. Parliament met on the 4th of February, and the boldest language was uttered. ‘The people of England, in accord with their king,’ said eloquent speakers, ‘have the right to decide supremely on all things both temporal and spiritual;[274] and certainly the English possess intelligence enough for that. And yet, in spite of the prohibitions issued by so many of our princes, we see bulls arriving every moment from Rome to regulate wills, marriages, divorces—everything, in short. We propose that henceforward these matters be decided solely before the national tribunals.’ The law passed. Appeals, instead of being made to Rome, were to be made in the first instance to the bishop, then to the archbishop, and, if the king was interested in the cause, to the Upper Chamber of the ecclesiastical Convocation.

The king took immediate advantage of this law to inquire of Convocation whether the pope could authorize a man to marry his brother’s widow. Out of sixty-six present, and one hundred and ninety-seven who voted by proxy, there were only nineteen in the Upper House who voted against 131the king. The opposition was stronger in the Lower House; but even this agreed with the other house in declaring that Pope Julius II. had exceeded his authority in giving Henry a dispensation, and that the marriage, was consequently null from the very first.

Cranmer’s Letter.

Nothing remained now but to proceed to the divorce. On the 11th of April, two days before Easter, Cranmer, as archbishop, wrote a letter to the king, in which he set forth, that desiring to fill the office of Archbishop of Canterbury, ‘according to the laws of God and Holy Church, for the relief of the grievances and infirmities of the people, God’s subjects and yours in spiritual causes,’[275] he prayed his Majesty’s favor for that office.[276] Cranmer did not decline the royal intervention, but he avoided confounding spiritual with temporal affairs.[277]

Henry, who was doubtless waiting impatiently for this letter, was alarmed as he read the words ‘according to the laws of God and Holy Church.’ God and the Church.... Well! but what of the king and the royal supremacy? The primate seemed to assert the right of acting proprio motu, and, while asking the king’s favor, to be doing a simple act of courtesy.... Did the Church of England claim to take the pontiff’s place and station, and leave the king aside?... That was not what Henry meant. Tired of the pretensions of the Pope of Rome, would he suffer a pope on a small scale at his side? He intended to be master in his own kingdom—master of everything. The letter must be modified, and this Henry intimated to Cranmer.

That day or the next after the one on which this letter had been written there was a great festival at court in honor of Anne Boleyn. ‘Queen Anne that evening went in state to her closet openly as queen,’ says Hall. It was 132probably during this festival that the king, taking the prelate aside, desired him to suppress the unwelcome passage. The idea suggested by an eminent historian, that Cranmer sent both the letters together to Henry that he might choose which he would prefer, seems to me inadmissible. Cranmer, as it would appear, submitted, waiting for better days. On returning to Lambeth, he recopied his letter, omitting the words which had been pointed out. Not content with asking the king’s favor, he desired his license, his authorization to proceed. He dated his second letter the same day, and sent it to his master, who was satisfied with it.[278]

This alone did not satisfy Henry: in his reply to the archbishop, he marked still more strongly his intention not to have in England a primate independent of the crown: ‘Ye, therefore, duly recognizing that it becometh you not, being our subject, to enterprise any part of your said office without our license obtained so to do.... In consideration of these things, albeit we, being your king and sovereign, do recognize no superior upon earth but only God; yet, because ye be under us, by God’s calling and ours, the most principal minister of our spiritual jurisdiction, we will not refuse your humble request.’

This language was clear. Henry VIII. did not, however, claim the arbitrary authority to which the pope pretended: human and divine laws were to be the supreme rule in England; but he, the king, was to be their chief interpreter. Cranmer must understand that. ‘To these laws we, as a Christian king,’ wrote Henry, ‘have always heretofore submitted, and shall ever most obediently submit ourselves.’ The ecclesiastical system which Henry VIII. established in England in 1533 was not a free Church in a free State, and there is no reason to be surprised at it.

Cranmer, having received the royal license, set out for 133Mortloke manor to prepare the act which, for six years, had kept England and the continent in suspense. Taking the Bishops of Lincoln and Winchester and some lawyers with him, he proceeded quietly and without ostentation to the priory of Dunstable, five miles from Ampthill, where Queen Catherine was staying. He wished to avoid the notoriety of a trial held in London.

Ecclesiastical Court.

The ecclesiastical court being duly formed, Henry and Catherine were summoned to appear before it on the 10th of May. The king was present by attorney; but the queen replied: ‘My cause is before the pope; I accept no other judge.’ A fresh summons was immediately made out for the 12th of May, and, as the queen appeared neither in person nor by any of her servants, she was pronounced contumacious,[279] and the trial went forward. The king was informed every night of each day’s proceedings, and he was often in great anxiety. Some unexpected event, an appeal from Catherine, the sudden intervention of the pope or of the emperor might stop everything. His courtiers were on the watch for news. Anne said nothing, but her heart beat quick; and the ambitious Cromwell, whose fortunes depended on the success of the matter, was sometimes in great alarm. Cranmer rested on the declarations of Scripture, and showed much equity and uprightness during the trial.[280] ‘I have willingly injured no human being,’ he said. But he knew the queen had numerous partisans; they would conjure her, perhaps, to appear before her judges. There would then be a great stir, and the voice of the people would be heard.[281] The archbishop could hardly restrain his emotion as he thought of this. He must indeed expect an inflexible resistance on the part of the queen; but, in the midst of all the agitation around her, she alone remained calm and resolute. Her hand had grasped the pope’s robe, 134and nothing could make her let it go. ‘I am the king’s lawful wife,’ she repeated; ‘I am Queen of England. My daughter is the king’s child: I place her in her father’s hands.’

On Wednesday the 23d of May, the primate, attended by all the archiepiscopal court, proceeded to the church of St. Peter’s priory at Dunstable, in order to deliver the final judgment of divorce. A few persons attracted by curiosity were present; but, although Dunstable was near Ampthill, all of Catherine’s household kept themselves respectfully aloof from an act which was to deal their mistress such a grievous blow. The primate, after reciting the decisions of the several universities, provincial councils, and other premises, continued: ‘Therefore we, Thomas, archbishop, primate, and legate, having first called upon the name of Christ, and having God altogether before our eyes, do pronounce and declare that the marriage between our sovereign lord King Henry and the most serene Lady Catherine, widow of his brother, having been contracted contrary to the law of God, is null and void; and therefore we sentence that it is not lawful for the said most illustrious Prince Henry and the said most serene Lady Catherine to remain in the said pretended marriage.’[282] The act, drawn up very carefully by two notaries, was immediately sent to the king.

The divorce was pronounced, and Henry was free. Many persons gave way to feelings of alarm: they thought that all Europe would combine against England. ‘The pope will excommunicate the English,’ said some; ‘and then the emperor will destroy them.’ But, on the other hand, the majority of the nation desired to have done with a subject which had been agitating their minds during the last seven years. England, getting out of a labyrinth from which she had never expected to find an issue, began to breathe again.

Catherine’s marriage was declared to be null: it only remained 135now to recognize Anne Boleyn’s. On the 28th of May, an archiepiscopal court held at Lambeth, in the primate’s palace, officially declared that Henry and Anne had been lawfully wedded, and the king had now no thought but how to seal his union by the pomp of a coronation. It would certainly have been preferable had the new queen taken her seat quietly on the throne; but slanderous reports made it necessary for the king to present his wife to the people in all the splendor of royalty.

Anne Presented To The People.

At three o’clock in the afternoon of Thursday before Whitsuntide, a magnificent procession started from Greenwich. Fifty barges, adorned with rich banners, conveyed the representatives of the different city companies, and the metropolis joyfully hailed a union that promised to inaugurate a future of light and faith: it was almost a religious festival. On the banner of the Fishmongers was the inscription, All worship belongs to God alone; on that of the Haberdashers, My trust is in God only; on that of the Grocers, God gives grace; and on that of the Goldsmiths, To God alone be all the glory. The city of London thus asserted, in the presence of the immense crowd, the principles of the Reformation. The lord mayor’s barge immediately preceded the galley, all hung with cloth of gold, in which Anne was seated. Near it floated another gay barge, on which a little mountain was contrived, planted with red and white roses, in the midst of which sat a number of young maidens singing to the accompaniment of sweet music. A hundred richly ornamented barques, carrying the nobility of England, brought up the magnificent procession, and a countless number of boats and skiffs covered the river. The moment Anne set her foot on shore at the Tower, a thousand trumpets sounded points of triumph, and all the guns of the fortress fired such a peal as had seldom been heard before.[283]

Henry, who liked the sound of cannon, met Anne at the gate and kissed her, and the new queen entered in triumph 136that vast fortress from which, three years later, she was to issue, by order of the same prince, to mount, an innocent victim, the cruel scaffold. She smiled courteously on all around; and yet, seized with a sudden emotion, she sometimes trembled, as if, instead of the joyous flowers on which she trod with light and graceful foot, she saw a deep gulf yawning beneath her.

The king and queen passed the whole of the next day (Friday) at the Tower. On Saturday Anne left it for Westminster.[284] The streets were gay with banners, and the houses were hung with velvet and cloth of gold. All the orders of the State and Church, the ambassadors of France and Venice, and the officers of the court, opened the procession. The queen was carried in a magnificent litter covered with white cloth shot with gold, her head, which she held modestly inclined, being encircled with a wreath of precious stones. The people who crowded the streets were full of enthusiasm, and seemed to triumph more than she did herself.

The next day, Whit-Sunday, she proceeded for the coronation to the ancient abbey of Westminster, where the bishops and the court had been summoned to meet her. She took her seat in a rich chair, whence she presently descended to the high altar and knelt down. After the prescribed prayers she rose, and the archbishop placed the crown of St. Edward upon her head. She then took the sacrament and retired; the Earl of Wiltshire, her father, trembling with emotion, took her right hand ... he was at the pinnacle of happiness, and yet he was uneasy. Alas! a caprice of the man who had raised his daughter to 137the throne might be sufficient to hurl her from it! Anne herself, in the midst of all these pomps, greater than any ever seen before at the coronation of an English queen, could not entirely forget the princess whose place she had now taken. Might not she be rejected in her turn?... In such a thought there was enough to make her shudder.

Feelings Of The New Queen.

Anne did not find in her marriage with Henry the happiness she had dreamt, and a cloud was often seen passing across those features once so radiant. The idol to which this young woman had sacrificed everything—the splendor of a throne—did not satisfy her longings for happiness: she looked within herself, and found once more, as queen, that attraction towards the doctrine of the Gospel which she had felt in the society of Margaret of Valois, and which, amid her ambitious pursuits, had been almost extinguished in her heart. She discovered that for those who have everything, as well as for those who have nothing, there is only one single good—God himself. She did not probably give herself up entirely to Him, for her best impressions were often fugitive; but she took advantage of her power to assist those who she knew were devoted to the Gospel. She petitioned for the pardon of John Lambert, who was still in prison, and that faithful confessor of Jesus Christ settled in London, where he began to teach children Latin and Greek, without however neglecting the defence of truth.[285]

Two women had for some time attracted the eyes of all England—the one who was ascending the throne, and the other who was descending from it. Nothing awakens the sympathy of generous souls more than misfortune, and particularly innocence in misfortune; and accordingly Catherine’s fate will always excite a lively interest, even in the ranks of protestantism. We must not forget, however, that Catherine’s cause was that of the old times and of the Roman papacy, and that Anne’s cause was identified with that light, liberty, and new life which have distinguished modern 138times. It is true, Catherine died in disgrace, but in peace, surrounded by her women, her officers, her faithful servants; while the youthful Anne, separated from her friends, alone on a scaffold, praying God to bless the prince who put her to death, had her head cruelly cut off by the hangman’s sword. If on the one side there was innocence and divorce, on the other there was innocence and martyrdom.

The king, who had informed Catherine through Lord Mountjoy of the archiepiscopal sentence, officially communicated his divorce and marriage to the various crowned heads of Europe, and particularly to the King of France, the emperor, and the pope. The latter on the 11th of July annulled the sentence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, declared the king’s marriage with Anne Boleyn unlawful, and threatened to excommunicate both, unless they separated before the end of September. Henry angrily commanded his theologians to demonstrate that the bull was a nullity, recalled his ambassador, the Duke of Norfolk, and said that the moment was come for all monarchs and all Christian people to withdraw from under the yoke of the Bishop of Rome. ‘The pope and his cardinals,’ he wrote to Francis I., ‘pretend to have princes, who are free persons, at their beck and commandment. Sire, you and I and all the princes of Christendom must unite for the preservation of our rights, liberties, and privileges; we must alienate the greatest part of Christendom from the see of Rome.’[286]

But Henry had scholastic prejudices, which made him fall into the strangest contradictions. While he was employing his diplomacy to isolate the pope, he still prayed him to declare the nullity of his marriage with Catherine.[287] It is not at the court of this prince that we must look for the real Reformation: we must go in search of it elsewhere.


(August 1532 to May 1533.)

Fryth’s Noble Character.

One of the leading scholars of England was about to seal the testimony of his faith with blood. John Fryth had been one of the most brilliant stars of the university of Cambridge. ‘It would hardly be possible to find his equal in learning,’ said many. Accordingly Wolsey had invited him to his college at Oxford, and Henry VIII. had desired to place him among the number of his theologians. But the mysteries of the Word of God had more attraction for Fryth than those of science: the wants of conscience prevailed in him over those of the intellect, and neglecting his own glory, he sought only to be useful to mankind.[288] A sincere, decided, and yet moderate Christian, preaching the Gospel with great purity and love, this man of thirty seemed destined to become one of the most influential reformers of England. Nothing could have prevented his playing the foremost part, if he had had Luther’s enthusiastic energy or Calvin’s indomitable power. There were less strong, but perhaps more amiable features in his character; he taught with gentleness those who were opposed to the truth, and while many, as Foxe says,[289] ‘take the bellows in hand to blow the fire, but few there are that will seek to quench it,’ Fryth sought after peace. Controversies between protestants distressed him. ‘The opinions for which men go to war,’ he said, ‘do not deserve those great tragedies of which they make us spectators. Let there be no longer any question 140among us of Zwinglians or Lutherans, for neither Zwingle nor Luther died for us, and we must be one in Christ Jesus.’[290] This servant of Christ, meek and lowly of heart, like his Master, never disputed even with papists, unless obliged to do so.[291]

A true catholicism which embraced all Christians was Fryth’s distinctive feature as a reformer. He was not one of those who imagine that a national Church ought to think only of its own nation; but of those who believe that if a Church is the depositary of the truth, she is so for all the earth; and that a religion is not good, if it has no longing to extend itself to all the races of mankind. There were some strongly marked national elements in the English Reformation: the king and the parliament; but there was also a universal element: a lively faith in the Saviour of the world. No one in the sixteenth century represented this truly catholic element better than Fryth. ‘I understand the Church of God in a wide sense,’ he said. ‘It contains all those whom we regard as members of Christ. It is a net thrown into the sea.’[292] This principle, sown at that time as a seed in the English Reformation, was one day to cover the world with missionaries.

Fryth, having declined the brilliant offers the king had made to him through Cromwell and Vaughan, joined Tyndale in translating and publishing the Holy Scriptures in English. While laboring thus for England, an irresistible desire came over him to circulate the Gospel there in person. He therefore quitted the Low Countries, returned to London, and directed his course to Reading, where the prior had been his friend. Exile had not used him well, and he entered that town miserably clothed, and more like a beggar than one whom Henry VIII. had desired to place near him. This was in August 1532.

141His writings had preceded him. Having received, when in the Netherlands, three works composed in defence of purgatory by three distinguished men—Rastell, Sir Thomas More’s brother-in-law, More himself, and Fisher, Bishop of Rochester—Fryth had replied to them: ‘A purgatory! there is not one only, there are two. The first is the Word of God, the second is the Cross of Christ: I do not mean the cross of wood, but the cross of tribulation. But the lives of the papists are so wicked that they have invented a third.’[293]

Sir Thomas, exasperated by Fryth’s reply, said with that humorous tone he often affected, ‘I propose to answer the good young father Fryth, whose wisdom is such that three old men like my brother Rastell, the Bishop of Rochester, and myself are mere babies when confronted with Father Fryth alone.’[294] The exile having returned to England, More had now the opportunity of avenging himself more effectually than by his jokes.

Fryth In The Stocks.

Fryth, as we have said, had entered Reading. His strange air and his look as of a foreigner arriving from a distant country attracted attention, and he was taken up for a vagabond. ‘Who are you?’ asked the magistrate. Fryth, suspecting that he was in the hands of enemies of the Gospel, refused to give his name, which increased the suspicion, and the poor young man was set in the stocks. As they gave him but little to eat, with the intent of forcing him to tell his name, his hunger soon became insupportable.[295] Knowing the name of the master of the grammar-school, he asked to speak with him. Leonard Coxe had scarcely entered the prison, when the pretended vagabond all in rags addressed him in correct latinity, and began to deplore his miserable captivity. Never had words more noble been uttered in a dungeon so vile. The head-master, astonished at so much eloquence, compassionately drew near the unhappy man and inquired how it came to pass that such a learned scholar was in such profound wretchedness. Presently 142he sat down, and the two men began to talk in Greek about the universities and languages. Coxe could not make it out: it was no longer simple pity that he felt, but love, which turned to admiration when he heard the prisoner recite with the purest accent those noble lines of the Iliad which were so applicable to his own case:

‘Sing, O Muse,
The vengeance deep and deadly; whence to Greece
Unnumbered ills arose; which many a soul
Of mighty warriors to the viewless shades
Untimely sent.’[296]

Filled with respect, Coxe hurried off to the mayor, complained bitterly of the wrong done to so remarkable a man, and obtained his liberation. Homer saved the life of a reformer.

Fryth departed for London and hastened to join the worshippers who were accustomed to meet in Bow Lane. He conversed with them and exclaimed: ‘Oh! what consolation to see such a great number of believers walking in the way of the Lord!’[297] These Christians asked him to expound the Scriptures to them, and, delighted with his exhortations, they exclaimed in their turn: ‘If the rule of St. Paul were followed, this man would certainly make a better bishop than many of those who wear the mitre.’[298] Instead of the crosier he was to bear the cross.

Fryth’s Eloquence.

One of those who listened was in great doubt relative to the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper; and one day, after Fryth had been setting Christ before them as the food of the Christian soul through faith, this person followed him and said: ‘Our prelates think differently; they believe that the bread transformed by consecration becomes the flesh, blood, and bones of Christ; that even the wicked eat this flesh with their teeth, and that we must adore the host.... What you have just said refutes their errors, but I fear that 143I cannot remember it. Pray commit it to writing.’ Fryth, who did not like discussions, was alarmed at the request, and answered; ‘I do not care to touch that terrible tragedy;’[299] for so he called the dispute about the Eucharist. The man having repeated his request, and promised that he would not communicate the paper to anybody, Fryth wrote an explanation of the doctrine of the Sacrament and gave it to that London Christian, saying: ‘We must eat and drink the body and blood of Christ, not with the teeth, but with the hearing and through faith.’ The brother took the treatise, and, hurrying home with it, read it carefully.

In a short time every one at the Bow Lane meeting spoke about this writing. One man, a false brother, named William Holt, listened attentively to what was said, and thought he had found an opportunity of destroying Fryth. Assuming a hypocritical look, he spoke in a pious strain to the individual who had the manuscript, as if he had desired to enlighten his faith, and finally asked him for it. Having obtained it, he hastened to make a copy, which he carried to Sir Thomas More, who was still chancellor.

Fryth soon perceived that he had tried in vain to remain unknown; he called with so much power those who thirsted for righteousness to come to Christ for the waters of life, that friends and enemies were struck with his eloquence. Observing that his name began to be talked of in various places, he quitted the capital and travelled unnoticed through several counties, where he found some little Christian congregations whom he tried to strengthen in the faith.

Tyndale, who remained on the continent, having heard of Fryth’s labors, began to feel great anxiety about him. He knew but too well the cruel disposition of the bishops and of More. ‘I will make the serpent come out of his dark den,’ Sir Thomas had said, speaking of Tyndale, ‘as Hercules forced Cerberus, the watch-dog of hell, to come out to the light of day.... I will not leave Tyndale the darkest 144corner in which to hide his head.’[300] In Tyndale’s eyes Fryth was the great hope of the Church in England; he trembled lest the redoubtable Hercules should seize him. ‘Dearly beloved brother Jacob,’ he wrote,—calling him Jacob to mislead his enemies,—‘be cold, sober, wise, and circumspect, and keep you low by the ground, avoiding high questions that pass the common capacity. But expound the law truly, and open the veil of Moses to condemn all flesh and prove all men sinners. Then set abroach the mercy of our Lord Jesus, and let the wounded consciences drink of him.... All doctrine that casteth a mist on these two to shadow and hide them, resist with all your power.... Beloved in my heart, there liveth not one in whom I have so great hope and trust, and in whom my heart rejoiceth, not so much for your learning and what other gifts else you may have, as because you walk in those things that the conscience may feel, and not in the imagination of the brain. Cleave fast to the rock of the help of God; and if aught be required of you contrary to the glory of God and his Christ, then stand fast and commit yourself to God. He is our God, and our redemption is nigh.’[301]

Tyndale’s fears were but too well founded. Sir Thomas More held Fryth’s new treatise in his hand: he read it and, gave way by turns to anger and sarcasm. ‘Whetting his wits, calling his spirits together, and sharpening his pen,’ to use the words of the chronicler,[302] he answered Fryth, and described his doctrine under the image of a cancer. This did not satisfy him. Although he had returned the seals to the king in May, he continued to hold office until the end of the year. He ordered search to be made for Fryth, and set all his bloodhounds on the track. If the reformer was discovered he was lost; when Sir Thomas More had once caught his man, nothing could save him—nothing but a merry jest, perhaps. For instance, one day when he was 145examining a gospeller named Silver: ‘You know,’ he said, with a smile, ‘that silver must be tried in the fire.’ ‘Yes,’ retorted the accused instantly, ‘but not quicksilver.’[303] More delighted with the repartee, set the poor wretch at liberty. But Fryth was no jester: he could not hope, therefore, to find favor with the ex-chancellor of England.

Fryth Hunted By More.

Sir Thomas hunted the reformer by sea and by land, promising a great reward to any one who should deliver him up. There was no county or town or village where More did not look for him, no sheriff or justice of the peace to whom he did not apply, no harbor where he did not post some officer to catch him.[304] But the answer from every quarter was: ‘He is not here.’ Indeed, Fryth, having been informed of the great exertions of his enemy, was fleeing from place to place, often changing his dress, and finding safety nowhere. Determining to leave England and return to Tyndale, he went to Milton Shone in Essex with the intention of embarking. A ship was ready to sail, and quitting his hiding-place he went down to the shore with all precaution. He had been betrayed. More’s agents, who were on the watch, seized him as he was stepping on board, and carried him to the Tower. This occurred in October 1532.

Sir Thomas More was uneasy and soured. He beheld a new power lifting its head in England and all Christendom, and he felt that in despite of his wit and his influence he was unable to check it. That man so amiable, that writer of a style so pure and elegant, did not so much dread the anger of the king; what exasperated him was to see the Scriptures circulating more widely every day, and a continually increasing number of his fellow-citizens converted to the evangelical faith. These new men, who seemed to have more piety than himself—he an old follower of the old papacy!—irritated him sorely. He claimed to have alone—he and his friends—the privilege of being Christians. 146The zeal of the partisans of the Reformation, the sacrifice they made of their repose, their money, and their lives, confounded him. ‘These diabolical people,’ he said, ‘print their books at great expense, notwithstanding the great danger; not looking for any gain, they give them away to everybody, and even scatter them abroad by night.[305] They fear no labor, no journey, no expense, no pain, no danger, no blows, no injury. They take a malicious pleasure in seeking the destruction of others, and these disciples of the devil think only how they may cast the souls of the simple into hell-fire.’ In such a strain as this did the elegant utopist give vent to his anger—the man who had dreamt all his life of the plan of an imaginary world for the perfect happiness of every one. At last he had caught the chief of these disciples of Satan, and hoped to put him to death by fire.

Fryth’s Labors In Prison.

The news soon spread through London that Fryth was in the tower, and several priests and bishops immediately went thither to try to bring him back to the pope. Their great argument was that More had confuted his treatise on the Lord’s Supper. Fryth asked to see the confutation, but it was refused him. One day the Bishop of Winchester having called up the prisoner, showed it to Fryth, and, holding it up, asserted that the book quite shut his mouth: Fryth put out his hand, but the bishop hastily withdrew the volume. More himself was ashamed of the apology and did all he could to prevent its circulation. Fryth could only obtain a written copy, but he resolved to answer it immediately. There was no one with whom he could confer, not a book he could consult, and the chains with which he was loaded scarcely allowed him to sit and write.[306] But reading in his dungeon by the light of a small candle the insults of More, and finding himself charged with having collected all the poison that could be found in the writings of Wickliffe, 147Luther, Œcolampadius, Tyndale, and Zwingle, this humble servant of God exclaimed: ‘No! Luther and his doctrine are not the mark I aim at, but the Scriptures of God.’[307] ‘He shall pay for his heresy with the best blood in his body,’ said his enemies; and the pious disciple replied: ‘As the sheep bound by the hand of the butcher with timid look beseeches that his blood may soon be shed, even so do I pray my judges that my blood may be shed to-morrow, if by my death the king’s eyes should be opened.’[308]

Before he died, Fryth desired to save, if it were God’s will, one of his adversaries. There was one of them who had no obstinacy, no malice: it was Rastell, More’s brother-in-law. Being unable to speak to him or to any of the enemies of the Reformation, he formed the design of writing in prison a treatise which should be called the Bulwark. But strict orders had recently arrived that he should have neither pen, ink, nor paper.[309] Some evangelical Christians of London, who succeeded in getting access to him, secretly furnished him with the means of writing, and Fryth began. He wrote ... but at every moment he listened for fear the lieutenant of the Tower or the warders should come upon him suddenly and find the pen in his hand.[310] Often a bright thought would occur to him, but some sudden alarm drove it out of his mind, and he could not recall it.[311] He took courage, however: he had been accused of asserting that good works were of no service: he proceeded to explain with much eloquence all their utility, and every time he repeated: ‘Is that nothing? is that still nothing? Truly, Rastell,’ he added, ‘if you only regard that as useful which justifies us, the sun is not useful, because it justifieth not.’[312]

As he was finishing these words he heard the keys rattling 148at the door, and, being alarmed, immediately threw paper, ink, and pen into a hiding-place. However, he was able to complete the treatise and send it to Rastell. More’s brother-in-law read it; his heart was touched, his understanding enlightened, his prejudices cleared away; and from that hour this choice spirit was gained over to the Gospel of Christ. God had given him new eyes and new ears. A pure joy filled the prisoner’s heart. ‘Rastell now looks upon his natural reason as foolishness,’ he said. ‘Rastell, become a child, drinks the wisdom that cometh from on high.’[313]

The conversion of Sir Thomas More’s brother-in-law made a great sensation, and the visits to Fryth’s cell became every day more numerous. Although separated from his wife and from Tyndale, whom he had been forced to leave in the Low Countries, he had never had so many friends, brothers, mothers, and fathers; he wept for very joy. He took his pen and paper from their hiding-place, and, always indefatigable, began to write first the Looking-glass of Self-knowledge, and next a Letter to the faithful Followers of the Gospel of Christ. ‘Imitators of the Lord,’ he said to them, ‘mark yourselves with the sign of the cross, not as the superstitious crowd does, in order to worship it, but as a testimony that you are ready to bear that cross as soon as God shall please to send it. Fear not when you have it, for you will also have a hundred fathers instead of one, a hundred mothers instead of one, a hundred mansions already in this life (for I have made the trial), and after this life, joy everlasting.’[314]

Fryth Visits Petit.

At the beginning of 1533, Anne Boleyn having been married to the King of England, Fryth saw his chains fall off: he was allowed to have all he asked for, and even permitted to leave the Tower at night on parole. He took advantage of this liberty to visit the friends of the Gospel, and consult with them about what was to be done. 149One evening in particular, after leaving the Tower, Fryth went to Petit’s house, anxious to embrace once more that great friend of the Reformation, that firm member of parliament, who had been thrown into prison as we have seen, and at last set free. Petit, weakened by his long confinement, was near his end; the persecution agitated and pained him, and it would appear that his emotion sometimes ended in delirium. As he was groaning over the captivity of the young and noble reformer, Fryth appeared. Petit was confused, his mind wandered. Is it Fryth or his ghost? He was like the apostles, when Rhoda came to tell them that Peter was at the gate waiting to see them. But gradually recovering himself, Petit said: ‘You here! how have you escaped the vigilance of the warders?’ ‘God himself,’ answered Fryth, ‘gave me this liberty by touching their hearts.’[315] The two friends then conversed about the true Reformation of England, which in their eyes had nothing to do with the diplomatic proceedings of the king. In their opinion it was not a matter of overloading the external Church with new frippery, but ‘to increase that elect, sanctified, and invisible congregation, elect before the foundation of the world.’[316] Fryth did not conceal from Petit the conviction he felt that he would be called upon to die for the Gospel. The night was spent in such Christian conversation and the day began to dawn before the prisoner hastened to return to the Tower.

The evangelist’s friends did not think as he did. Anne Boleyn’s accession seemed as if it ought to open the doors of Fryth’s prison, and in imagination they saw him at liberty, and laboring either on the continent or at home at that real reformation which is accomplished by the Scriptures of God.

But it was not to be so. Most of the evangelical men raised up by God in England during the reign of Henry VIII. found—not the influence which they should have exercised, but—death. Yet their blood has weighed in the divine 150balance; it has sanctified the Reformation of England, and been a spiritual seed for future ages. If the Church of that rich country, which possesses such worldly splendor, has nevertheless witnessed the development of a powerful evangelical life in its bosom, it must not forget the cause, but understand, with Tertullian, that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.

(May to July 1533.)

The enemy was on the watch: the second period of Fryth’s captivity, that which was to terminate in martyrdom, was beginning. Henry’s bishops, who, while casting off the pope to please the king, had remained devoted to scholastic doctrines, feared lest the reformer should escape them: they therefore undertook to solicit Henry to put him to death. Fryth had on his side the queen, Cromwell, and Cranmer. This did not discourage them, and they represented to the king that although the man was shut up in the Tower of London, he did not cease to write and act in defence of heresy. It was the season of Lent, and Fryth’s enemies came to an understanding with Dr. Curwin, the king’s chaplain, who was to preach before the court. He had no sooner got into the pulpit than he began to declaim against those who denied the material presence of Christ in the host. Having struck his hearers with horror, he continued: ‘It is not surprising that this abominable heresy makes such great progress among us. A man now in the Tower of London 151has the audacity to defend it, and no one thinks of punishing him.’

Fryth Ordered For Trial.

When the service was over, the brilliant congregation left the chapel, and each as he went out asked what was the man’s name. ‘Fryth’ was the reply, and loud were the exclamations on hearing it. The blow took effect, the scholastic prejudices of the king were revived, and he sent for Cromwell and Cranmer. ‘I am very much surprised,’ he said, ‘that John Fryth has been kept so long in the Tower without examination. I desire his trial to take place without delay; and if he does not retract, let him suffer the penalty he deserves.’ He then nominated six of the chief spiritual and temporal peers of England to examine him: they were the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishops of London and Winchester, the lord chancellor, the Duke of Suffolk, and the Earl of Wiltshire. This demonstrated the importance which Henry attached to the affair. Until now, all the martyrs had fallen beneath the blows either of the bishops or of More; but in this case it was the king himself who stretched out his strong hand against the servant of God.

Henry’s order plunged Cranmer into the cruellest anxiety. On the one hand, Fryth was in his eyes a disciple of the Gospel; but on the other, he attacked a doctrine which the archbishop then held to be Christian; for, like Luther and Osiander, he still believed in consubstantiation. ‘Alas!’ he wrote to Archdeacon Hawkins, ‘he professes the doctrine of Œcolampadius.’[317] He resolved, however, to do everything in his power to save Fryth.

The best friends of the young reformer saw that a pile was being raised to consume the most faithful Christian in England. ‘Dearly beloved,’ wrote Tyndale from Antwerp, ‘fear not men that threat, nor trust men that speak fair. Your cause is Christ’s Gospel, a light that must be fed with the blood of faith. The lamp must be trimmed daily, that 152the light go not out.’[318] There was no lack of examples to confirm these words. ‘Two have suffered in Antwerp unto the great glory of the Gospel; four at Ryselles in Flanders. At Rouen in France they persecute, and at Paris are five doctors taken for the Gospel. See, you are not alone: follow the example of all your other dear brethren, who choose to suffer in hope of a better resurrection. Bear the image of Christ in your mortal body, and keep your conscience pure and undefiled.... Una salus victis, nullam sperare salutem: the only safety of the conquered is to look for none. If you could but write and tell us how you are.’ In this letter from a martyr to a martyr there was one sentence honorable to a Christian woman: ‘Your wife is well content with the will of God, and would not for her sake have the glory of God hindered.’

Cranmer Would Save Fryth.

If friends were thinking of Fryth on the banks of the Scheldt, they were equally anxious about him on the banks of the Thames. Worthy citizens of London asked what was the use of England’s quitting the pope to cling to Christ, if she burnt the servants of Christ? The little Church had recourse to prayer. Archbishop Cranmer wished to save Fryth: he loved the man and admired his piety. If the accused appeared before the commission appointed by the king, he was lost: some means must be devised without delay to rescue him from an inevitable death. The archbishop declared that, before proceeding to trial, he wished to have a conference with the prisoner, and to endeavor to convince him, which was very natural. But at the same time the primate appeared to fear that if the conference took place in London the people would disturb the public peace, as in the time of Wickliffe.[319] He settled therefore that it should be held at Croydon, where he had a palace. The primate’s fear seems rather strange. A riot on account 153of Fryth, at a time when king, commons, and people were in harmony, appeared hardly probable. Cranmer had another motive.

Among the persons composing his household was a gentleman of benevolent character, and with a leaning towards the Gospel, who was distressed at the cruelty of the bishops, and looked upon it as a lawful and Christian act to rob them, if possible, of their victims. Giving him one of the porters of Lambeth palace as a companion, Cranmer committed Fryth to his care to bring him to Croydon. They were to take the prisoner a journey of four or five hours on foot through fields and woods, without any constables or soldiers. A strange walk and a strange escort.[320]

Lord Fitzwilliam, first Earl of Southampton and governor of the Tower, at that time lay sick in his house at Westminster, suffering such severe pain as to force loud groans from him. On the 10th of June, at the desire of my Lord of Canterbury, the archbishop’s gentleman, and the Lambeth porter, Gallois, surnamed Perlebeane, were introduced into the nobleman’s bedchamber, where they found him lying upon his bed in extreme agony. Fitzwilliam, a man of the world, was greatly enraged against the evangelicals, who were the cause, in his opinion, of all the difficulties of England. The gentleman respectfully presented to him the primate’s letter and the king’s ring. ‘What do you want?’ he asked sharply, without opening the letter. ‘His grace desires your lordship to deliver Master Fryth to us.’ The impatient Southampton flew into a passion at the name, and cursed Fryth and all the heretics.[321] He thought it strange that a gentleman and a porter should have to convey a prisoner of such importance to the episcopal court: were there no soldiers in the Tower? Had Fitzwilliam any 154suspicion, or did he regret to see the reformer leave the walls within which he had been kept so safely? We cannot tell: but he must obey, for they brought him the king’s signet. Accordingly, taking his own hastily from his finger: ‘Fryth,’ he said, ‘Fryth.... Here, show this to the lieutenant of the Tower, and take away your heretic quickly. I am but too happy to get rid of him.’

A few hours later Fryth, the gentleman, and Perlebeane entered a boat moored near the Tower, and were rowed speedily to the archbishop’s palace at Lambeth. At first the three persons preserved a strict silence, only interrupted from time to time by the deep sighs of the gentleman. Being charged to begin by trying to induce Fryth to make some compromise, he broke the silence at last. ‘Master Fryth,’ he said, ‘if you are not prudent you are lost. What a pity! you that are so learned in Latin and Greek and in the Holy Scriptures, the ancient doctors, and all kinds of knowledge, you will perish, and all your admirable gifts will perish with you, with little profit to the world, and less comfort to your wife and children, your kinsfolk and friends.’... The gentleman was silent a minute, and then began again: ‘Your position is dangerous, Master Fryth, but not desperate: you have many friends who will do all they can in your favor. On your part do something for them, make some concession, and you will be safe. Your opinion on the merely spiritual presence of the body and blood of the Saviour is premature: it is too soon for us in England; wait until a better time comes!’

Fryth did not say a word: no sound was heard but the dash of the water and the noise of the oars. The gentleman thought he had shaken the young doctor, and, after a moment’s silence, he resumed: ‘My lord Cromwell and my lord of Canterbury feel great affection for you: they know that, if you are young in years, you are old in knowledge, and may become a most profitable citizen of this realm.... If you will be somewhat advised by their counsel, they will never permit you to be harmed; but if you stand stiff to 155your opinion, it is not possible to save your life, for as you have good friends so have you mortal enemies.’

Attempt At Conciliation.

The gentleman stopped and looked at the prisoner. It was by such language that Bilney had been seduced; but Fryth kept himself in the presence of God, ready to lose his life that he might save it. He thanked the gentleman for his kindness, and said that his conscience would not permit him to recede, out of respect to man, from the true doctrine of the Lord’s Supper. ‘If I am questioned on that point, I must answer according to my conscience, though I should lose twenty lives if I had so many. I can support it by a great number of passages from the Holy Scriptures and the ancient doctors, and, if I am fairly tried, I shall have nothing to fear.’—‘Marry!’ quoth the gentleman, ‘if you be fairly tried, you would be safe; but that is what I very much doubt. Our Master Christ was not fairly tried, nor would he be, as I think, if he were now present again in the world. How, then, should you be, when your opinions are so little understood and are so odious?’—‘I know,’ answered Fryth, ‘that the doctrine which I hold is very hard meat to be digested just now; but listen to me.’ As he spoke, he took the gentleman by the hand: ‘If you live twenty years more, you will see the whole realm of my opinion concerning this sacrament of the altar—all, except a certain class of men. My death, you say, would be sorrowful to my friends, but it will be only for a short time. But, all things considered, my death will be better unto me and all mine than life in continual bondage. God knoweth what he hath to do with his poor servant, whose cause I now defend. He will help me, and no man shall prevail on me to step backwards.’

The boat reached Lambeth. The travellers landed, entered the archbishop’s palace, and, after taking some refreshment, started on foot for Croydon, twelve miles from London.

The three travellers proceeded over the hills and through the plains of Surrey. Here and there flocks of sheep were 156grazing in the scanty pastures, and to the east stretched vast woods. The gentleman walked mournfully by the side of Fryth. It was useless to ask him again to retract; but another idea engrossed Cranmer’s officer,—that of letting Fryth escape. The country was then thinly inhabited: the woods which covered it on the east and the chalky hills might serve as a hiding-place for the fugitive. The difficulty was to persuade Perlebeane. The gentleman slackened his pace, called to the porter, and they walked by themselves behind the prisoner. When they were so far off that he could not hear their conversation, the gentleman said: ‘You have heard this man, I am sure, and noted his talk since he came from the Tower.’—‘I never heard so constant a man,’ Perlebeane answered, ‘nor so eloquent a person.’—‘You have heard nothing,’ resumed the gentleman, ‘in respect both of his knowledge and his eloquence. If you could hear him at the university or in the pulpit, you would admire him still more. England has never had such a one of his age with so much learning. And yet our bishops treat him as if he were a very dolt or an idiot.... They abhor him as the devil himself, and want to get rid of him by any means.’—‘Marry!’ said the porter, ‘if there were nothing else in him but the consideration of his person both comely and amiable, his disposition so gentle, meek, and humble, it were pity he should be cast away.’—‘Cast away,’ interrupted the gentleman, ‘he will certainly be cast away if we once bring him to Croydon.’ And lowering his voice, he continued: ‘Surely, before God I speak it, if thou, Perlebeane, wert of my mind, we should never bring him thither.’—‘What do you mean?’ asked the astonished porter. Then, after a moment’s silence, he added: ‘I know that you have a great deal more responsibility in this matter than I have; and therefore, if you can honestly save this man, I will yield to your proposal with all my heart.’ The gentleman breathed again.

Attempt To Save Fryth.

Cranmer had desired that all possible efforts should be made to change Fryth’s sentiments; and these failing, he 157wished to save him in another way. It was his desire that the Reformer should go on foot to Croydon; that he should be accompanied by two only of his servants, selected from those best disposed towards the new doctrine. The primate’s gentleman would never have dared to take upon himself, except by his master’s desire, the responsibility of conniving at the escape of a prisoner who was to be tried by the first personages of the realm, appointed by the king himself. Happy at having gained the porter to his enterprise, he began to discuss with him the ways and means. He knew the country well, and his plan was arranged.

‘You see yonder hill before us,’ he said to Perlebeane; ‘it is Brixton Causeway, two miles from London. There are great woods on both sides. When we come to the top, we will permit Fryth to escape to the woods on the left hand, whence he may easily get into Kent, where he was born, and where he has many friends. We will linger an hour or two on the road after his flight, to give him time to reach a place of safety, and when night approaches, we will go to Streatham, which is a mile and a half off, and make an outcry in the town that our prisoner has escaped into the woods on the right hand towards Wandsworth; that we followed him for more than a mile, and at length lost him because we were not many enough. At the same time we will take with us as many people as we can to search for him in that direction; if necessary we will be all night about it; and before we can send the news of what has happened to Croydon, Fryth will be in safety, and the bishops will be disappointed.’

The gentleman, we see, was not very scrupulous about the means of rescuing a victim from the Roman priests. Perlebeane thought as he did. ‘Your plan pleases me,’ he answered; ‘now go and tell the prisoner, for we are already at the foot of the hill.’

The delighted gentleman hurried forward. ‘Master Fryth,’ he said, ‘let us talk together a little. I cannot hide from you that the task I have undertaken, to bring you 158to Croydon, as a sheep to the slaughter, grieves me exceedingly, and there is no danger I would not brave to deliver you out of the lion’s mouth. Yonder good fellow and I have devised a plan whereby you may escape. Listen to me. The gentleman having described his plan, Fryth smiled amiably, and said: ‘This, then, is the result of your long consultation together. You have wasted your time. If you were both to leave me here and go to Croydon, declaring to the bishops you had lost me, I should follow after as fast as I could, and bring them news that I had found and brought Fryth again.’

The gentleman had not expected such an answer. A prisoner refuse his liberty! ‘You are mad,’ he said: ‘do you think your reasoning will convert the bishops? At Milton Shone you tried to escape beyond the sea, and now you refuse to save yourself!’—‘The two cases are different,’ answered Fryth; ‘then I was at liberty, and, according to the advice of St. Paul, I would fain have enjoyed my liberty for the continuance of my studies. But now the higher power, as it were by Almighty God’s permission, has seized me, and my conscience binds me to defend the doctrine for which I am persecuted, if I would not incur our Lord’s condemnation. If I should now run away, I should run from my God; if I should fly, I should fly from the testimony I am bound to bear to his Holy Word, and I should deserve a thousand hells. I most heartily thank you both for your good will towards me; but I beseech you to bring me where I was appointed to be brought, for else I will go thither all alone.’[322]

Those who desired to save Fryth had not counted upon so much integrity. Such were, however, the martyrs of protestantism. The archbishop’s two servants continued their route along with their strange prisoner. Fryth had a calm eye and cheerful look, and the rest of the journey was accomplished in pious and agreeable conversation. When they reached Croydon, he was delivered to the officers of 159the episcopal court, and passed the night in the lodge of the primate’s porter.

Fryth On The Real Presence.

The next morning he appeared before the bishops and peers appointed to examine him. Cranmer and Lord Chancellor Audley desired his acquittal; but some of the other judges were men without pity.

The examination began:

‘Do you believe,’ they said, ‘that the sacrament of the altar is or is not the real body of Christ?’ Fryth answered, simply and firmly: ‘I believe that the bread is the body of Christ in that it is broken, and thus teaches us that the body of Christ was to be broken and delivered unto death to redeem us from our iniquities. I believe the bread is the body of Christ in that it is distributed, and thus teaches us that the body of Christ and the fruits of his passion are distributed unto all faithful people. I believe that the bread is the body of Christ so far as it is received, and thus it teaches us that even as the outward man receiveth the sacrament with his teeth and mouth, so doth the inward man truly receive through faith the body of Christ and the fruits of his passion.’

The judges were not satisfied: they wanted a formal and complete retraction. ‘Do you not think,’ asked one of them, ‘that the natural body of Christ, his flesh, blood, and bones, are contained under the sacrament and are there present without any figure of speech?’—‘No,’ he answered; ‘I do not think so;’ adding with much humility and charity: ‘notwithstanding I would not have that any should count my saying to be an article of faith. For even as I say, that you ought not to make any necessary article of the faith of your part; so I say again, that we make no necessary article of the faith of our part, but leave it indifferent for all men to judge therein, as God shall open their hearts, and no side to condemn or despise the other, but to nourish in all things brotherly love, and to bear one another’s infirmities.’[323]

160The commissioners then undertook to convince Fryth of the truth of transubstantiation; but he quoted Scripture, St. Augustine and Chrysostom, and eloquently defended the doctrine of the spiritual eating. The court rose. Cranmer had been moved, although he was still under the influence of Luther’s teaching.[324] ‘The man spoke admirably,’ he said to Dr. Heath as they went out, ‘and yet in my opinion he is wrong.’ Not many years later he devoted one of the most important of his writings to an explanation of the doctrine now professed by the young reformer; it may be that Fryth’s words had begun to shake him.

Full of love for him, Cranmer desired to save him. Four times during the course of the examination he sent for Fryth and conversed with him privately,[325] always asserting the Lutheran opinion. Fryth offered to maintain his doctrine in a public discussion against any one who was willing to attack it, but nobody accepted his challenge.[326] Cranmer, distressed at seeing all his efforts useless, found there was nothing more for him to do; the cause was transferred to the ordinary, the Bishop of London, and on the 17th of June the prisoner was once more committed to the Tower. The bishop selected as his assessors for the trial, Longland, Bishop of Lincoln, and Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester: there were no severer judges to be found on the episcopal bench. At Cambridge, Fryth had been the most distinguished pupil of the clever and ambitious Gardiner; but this, instead of exciting the compassion of that hard man, did but increase his anger. ‘Fryth and his friends,’ he said, ‘are villains, blasphemers, and limbs of the devil.’[327]

Fryth Sentenced To Death.

On the 20th of June, Fryth was taken to St. Paul’s before the three bishops, and though of a humble disposition and almost timid character, he answered boldly. A clerk 161took down all his replies, and Fryth, snatching up the pen, wrote: ‘I, Fryth think thus. Thus have I spoken, written, defended, affirmed, and published in my writings.’[328] The bishops having asked him if he would retract his errors, Fryth replied: ‘Let justice have its course and the sentence be pronounced.’ Stokesley did not keep him waiting long. ‘Not willing that thou, Fryth, who art wicked,’ he said, ‘shouldst become more wicked, and infect the Lord’s flock with thy heresies, we declare thee excommunicate and cast out from the Church, and leave thee unto the secular powers, most earnestly requiring them in the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ that thy execution and punishment be not too extreme, nor yet the gentleness too much mitigated.’[329]

Fryth was taken to Newgate and shut up in a dark cell, where he was bound with chains on the hands and feet as heavy as he could bear, and round his neck was a collar of iron, which fastened him to a post, so that he could neither stand upright nor sit down. Truly the ‘gentleness’ was not ‘too much mitigated.’ His charity never failed him. ‘I am going to die,’ he said, ‘but I condemn neither those who follow Luther nor those who follow Œcolampadius, since both reject transubstantiation.’[330] A young mechanic of twenty-four, Andrew Hewet by name, was placed in his cell. Fryth asked him for what crime he was sent to prison. ‘The bishops,’ he replied, ‘asked me what I thought of the sacrament, and I answered, “I think as Fryth does.” Then one of them smiled, and the Bishop of London said: “Why Fryth is a heretic, and already condemned to be burnt, and if you do not retract your opinion you shall be burnt with him.” “Very well,” I answered, “I am content.”[331] So they sent me here to be burnt along with you.’

162On the 4th of July they were both taken to Smithfield: the executioners fastened them to the post, back to back; the torch was applied, the flame rose in the air, and Fryth, stretching out his hands, embraced it as if it were a dear friend whom he would welcome. The spectators were touched, and showed marks of lively sympathy. ‘Of a truth,’ said an evangelical Christian in after days, ‘he was one of those prophets whom God, having pity on this realm of England, raised up to call us to repentance.’[332] His enemies were there. Cooke, a fanatic priest, observing some persons praying, called out: ‘Do not pray for such folks, any more than you would for a dog.’[333] At this moment a sweet light shone on Fryth’s face, and he was heard beseeching the Lord to pardon his enemies. Hewet died first, and Fryth thanked God that the sufferings of his young brother were over. Committing his soul into the Lord’s hands, he expired. ‘Truly,’ exclaimed many, ‘great are the victories Christ gains in his saints.’

So many souls were enlightened by Fryth’s writings, that this reformer contributed powerfully to the renovation of England. ‘One day, an Englishman,’ says Thomas Becon, prebendary of Canterbury and chaplain to Archbishop Cranmer, ‘having taken leave of his mother and friends, travelled into Derbyshire, and from thence to the Peak, a marvellous barren country,’ and where there was then ‘neither learning nor yet no spark of godliness.’ Coming into a little village named Alsop in the Dale, he chanced upon a certain gentleman also named Alsop, lord of that village, a man not only ancient in years, but also ripe in the knowledge of Christ’s doctrine. After they had taken ‘a sufficient repast,’ the gentleman showed his guest certain books which he called his jewels and principal treasures: these were the New Testament and some books of Fryth’s. In these godly treatises this ancient gentleman occupied himself among his rocks and mountains both diligently and virtuously. 163‘He did not only love the Gospel,’ adds Cranmer’s chaplain, he ‘lived it also.’[334]

Fryth’s writings were not destined to be read always with the same avidity: the truth they contain is, however, good for all times. The books of the apostles and of the reformers which that gentleman of Alsop read in the sixteenth century were better calculated to bring joy and peace to the soul than the light works read with such avidity in the world.


Anne Boleyn.

When Fryth mounted the scaffold, Anne Boleyn had been seated a month on the throne of England. The salvoes of artillery which had saluted the new queen had re-echoed all over Europe. There could be no more doubt: the Earl of Wiltshire’s daughter, radiant with grace and beauty, wore the Tudor crown; every one, especially the imperial family, must bear the consequences of the act. One day Sir John Hacket, English envoy at Brussels, arrived at court just as Mary, regent of the Low Countries, was about to mount her horse. ‘Have you any news from England?’ she asked him in French.—‘None,’ he replied. Mary gave him a look of surprise,[335] and added: ‘Then I have, and not over good methinks.’ She then told him of the king’s marriage, and Hacket rejoined with an unembarrassed air: ‘Madam, I know not if it has taken place, but 164everybody who considers it coolly and without family prejudice will agree that it is a lawful and a conscientious marriage.’ Mary, who was niece of the unhappy Catherine, replied: ‘Mr. Ambassador, God knows I wish all may go well; but I do not know how the emperor and the king my brother will take it, for it touches them as well as me.’—‘I think I may be certain,’ returned Sir John, ‘that they will take it in good part.’—‘That I do not know, Mr. Ambassador,’ said the regent, who doubted it much; and then mounting her horse, she rode out for the chase.[336]

Charles V. was exasperated: he immediately pressed the pope to intervene, and on the 12th of May, Clement cited the king to appear at Rome. The pontiff was greatly embarrassed: having a particular liking for Benet, Henry’s agent, he took him aside, and said to him privately:[337] ‘It is an affair of such importance that there has been none like it for many years. I fear to kindle a fire that neither pope nor emperor will be able to quench.’ And then he added unaffectedly: ‘Besides, I cannot pronounce the king’s excommunication before the emperor has an army ready to constrain him.’ Henry being told of this aside made answer: ‘Having the justice of our cause for us, with the entire consent of our nobility, commons, and subjects, we do not care for what the pope may do.’ Accordingly he appealed from the pope to a general council.

The pope was now more embarrassed than ever; ‘I cannot stand still and do nothing,’ he said.[338] On the 12th of July he revoked all the English proceedings and excommunicated the king, but suspended the effects of his sentence until the end of September. ‘I hope,’ said Henry contemptuously, ‘that before then the pope will understand his folly.’[339]

He reckoned on Francis I. to help him to understand it; 165but that prince was about to receive the pope’s niece into his family, and Henry made every exertion, but to no effect, to prevent the meeting of Clement and Francis at Marseilles. The King of England, who had already against him the Netherlands, the Empire, Rome, and Spain, saw France also slipping from him. He was isolated in Europe, and that became a serious matter. Agitated and indignant, he came to an extraordinary resolution, namely, to turn to the disciples and friends of that very Luther whom he had formerly so disdainfully treated.

Missions Of Vaughan And Mann.

Stephen Vaughan and Christopher Mann were despatched, the former to Saxony, the other to Bavaria.[340] Vaughan reached Weimar on the 1st of September, where he had to wait five days for the Elector of Saxony, who was away hunting. On the 5th of September he had an audience of the prince, and spoke to him first in French and then in Latin. Seeing that the elector, who spoke neither French, English, nor Latin, answered him only with nods,[341] he begged the chancellor to be his interpreter. A written answer was sent to Vaughan at seven in the evening: the Elector of Saxony turned his back on the powerful King of England. He was unworthy, he said, to have at his court ambassadors from his royal majesty; and besides, the emperor, who was his only master, might be displeased. Vaughan’s annoyance was extreme. ‘Strange rudeness!’ he exclaimed. ‘A more uncourteous refusal has never been made to such a gracious proposition. And to my greater misfortune, it is the first mission of kind with which I have ever been entrusted.’ He left Weimar determined not to deliver his credentials either to the Landgrave of Hesse or to the Duke of Lauenberg, whom he was instructed to visit: he did not wish to run the chance of receiving fresh affronts.

A strange lot was that of the King of England! the pope excommunicating him, and the heretics desiring to have nothing to do with him! No more allies, no more 166friends! Be it so: if the nation and the monarch are agreed, what is there to fear? Besides at the very moment this affront was offered him, his joy was at its height; the hope of soon possessing that heir, for whom he had longed so many years, quite transported him. He ordered an official letter to be prepared announcing the birth of a prince ‘to the great joy of the king,’ it ran, ‘and of all his loving subjects.’ Only the date of the letter was left blank.

On the 7th of September, two days after the elector’s refusal, Anne, then residing in the palace at Greenwich, was brought to bed of a fine well-formed child, reminding the gossips of the features of both parents; but alas! it was a girl. Henry, agitated by two strong affections, love for Anne and desire for a son, had been kept in great anxiety during the time of labor. When he was told that the child was a girl, the love he bore for the mother prevailed, and though disappointed in his fondest wishes, he received the babe with joy. But the famous letter announcing the birth of a prince ... what must be done with it now? Henry ordered the queen’s secretary to add an s to the word prince, and despatched the circular without making any change in the expression of his satisfaction.[342] The christening was celebrated with great pomp; two hundred torches were carried before the princess, a fit emblem of the light which her reign would shed abroad. The child was named Elizabeth, and Henry gave her the title of Princess of Wales, declaring her his successor, in case he should have no male offspring. In London the excitement was great; Te Deums, bells, and music filled the air. The adepts of judicial astrology declared that the stars announced a glorious future. A bright star was indeed rising over England; and the English people, throwing off the yoke of Rome, were about to start on a career of freedom, morality, and greatness. 167The firm Elizabeth was not destined to shine by the amiability which distinguished her mother, and the restrictions she placed upon liberty tend rather to remind us of her father. Yet while on the continent kings were trampling under foot the independence of their subjects, the English people, under Anne Boleyn’s daughter, were to develop themselves, to flourish in letters, and in arts, to extend navigation and commerce, to reform abuses, to exercise their liberties, to watch energetically over the public good, and to set up the torch of the Gospel of Christ.

English Envoys At Marseilles.

The king of France very adverse to England’s becoming independent of Rome, at last prevailed upon Henry to send two English agents (Gardiner and Bryan) to Marseilles. ‘You will keep your eyes open,’ said Henry VIII. to them, ‘and lend an attentive ear, but you will keep your mouths shut.’ The English envoys being invited to a conference with Clement and Francis, and solicited by those great personages to speak, declared that they had no powers. ‘Why then were you sent?’ exclaimed the king unable to conceal his vexation. The ambassadors only answered with a smile.[343] Francis who meant to uphold the authority of the pope in France, was unwilling that England should be free: he seems to have had some presentiment of the happy effects that independence would work for the rival nation. Accordingly he took the ambassadors aside, and prayed them to enter immediately on business with the pontiff. ‘We are not here for his Holiness,’ dryly answered Gardiner, ‘or to negotiate anything with him, but only to do what the King of England commands us.’ The tricks of the papacy had ruined it in the minds of the English people. Francis I., displeased at Gardiner’s silence and irritated by his stiffness, intimated to the King of England that he would be pleased to see ‘better instruments’ sent.[344] Henry did send another instrument to Marseilles, but he took care to choose one sharper still.

Edward Bonner, archdeacon of Leicester, was a clever, 168active man, but ambitious, coarse and rude, wanting in delicacy and consideration towards those with whom he had to deal, violent, and, as he showed himself later to the protestants, a cruel persecutor. For some time he had got into Cromwell’s good graces, and as the wind was against popery, Bonner was against the pope. Henry gave him his appeal to a general council, and charged him to present it to Clement VII.: it was the ‘bill of divorcement’ between the pope and England. Bonner, proud of being the bearer of so important a message, arrived at Marseilles, firmly resolved to give Henry a proof of his zeal. If Luther had burnt the pope’s bull at Wittemberg, Bonner would do as much; but while Luther had acted as a free man, Bonner was only a slave, pushing to fanaticism his submission to the orders of his despotic master.

Gardiner was astonished when he heard of Bonner’s arrival. What a humiliation for him! He hung his head, pinched his lips,[345] and then lifted up his eyes and hands, as if cursing the day and hour when Bonner appeared. Never were two men more discordant to one another. Gardiner could not believe the news. A scheme contrived without him! A bishop to see one of his inferiors charged with a mission more important than his own! Bonner, having paid him a visit, Gardiner affected great coldness, and brought forward every reason calculated to dissuade him from executing his commission.—‘But I have a letter from the king,’ answered Bonner, ‘sealed with his seal, and dated from Windsor; here it is.’ And he took from his satchel the letter in which Henry VIII. intimated that he had appealed from the sentence of the pope recently delivered against him.[346] ‘Good,’ answered Gardiner, and taking the letter he read: ‘Our good pleasure is that if you deem it good and serviceable (Gardiner dwelt upon those two words) you will give the pope notice of the said appeal, according to the forms required by law; if not, you will acquaint us with 169your opinion in that respect.—‘That is clear,’ said Gardiner; ‘you should advise the king to abstain, for that notice just now will be neither good nor serviceable.’—‘And I say that it is both,’ rejoined Bonner.

One circumstance brought the two Englishmen into harmony, at least for a time. Catherine de Medicis, the pope’s niece, had been married to the son of Francis I., and Clement made four French prelates cardinals. But not one Englishman, not even Gardiner! That changed the question; there could be no more doubt. Francis is sacrificing Henry to the pope, and the pope insults England. Gardiner himself desired Bonner to give the pontiff notice of the appeal, and the English envoy, fearing refusal if he asked for an audience of Clement, determined to overleap the usual formalities, and take the place by assault.

Clement And Bonner.

On the 7th of November, the Archdeacon of Leicester, accompanied by Penniston, a gentleman who had brought him the king’s last orders, went early to the pontifical palace, preparing to let fall from the folds of his mantle war between England and the papacy. As he was not expected, the pontifical officers stopped him at the door; but the Englishman forced his way in, and entered a hall through which the pope must pass on his way to the consistory.

Ere long the pontiff appeared, wearing his stole, and walking between the cardinals of Lorraine and Medicis, his train following behind. His eyes, which were of remarkable quickness, immediately fell upon the distant Bonner,[347] and as he advanced he did not take them off the stranger, as if astonished and uneasy at seeing him. At length he stopped in the middle of the hall, and Bonner, approaching the datary, said to him: ‘Be pleased to inform his Holiness that I desire to speak to him.’ The officer refusing, the intrepid Bonner made as if he would go towards the pope. Clement, wishing to know the meaning of these indiscreet 170proceedings, bade the cardinals stand aside, took off the stole, and going to a window recess, called Bonner to him. The latter, without any formality, informed the pope that the King of England appealed from his decision to a general council, and that he (Bonner), his Majesty’s envoy, was prepared to hand him the authentic documents of the said appeal, taking them (as he spoke) from his portfolio. Clement, who expected nothing like this, was greatly surprised: ‘it was a terrible breakfast for him,’ says a contemporary document.[348] Not knowing what to answer, he shrugged his shoulders, ‘after the Italian fashion;’ and at last, recovering himself a little, he told Bonner that he was going to the consistory, and desired him to return in the afternoon. Then beckoning the cardinals, he left the hall.

Henry’s envoy was punctual to the appointment, but had to wait for an hour and a half, his Holiness being engaged in giving audience. At length he and Penniston were conducted to the pope’s closet. Clement fixed his eyes on the latter, and Bonner having introduced him, the pope remarked with a mistrustful air: ‘It is well, but I also must have some members of my council;’ and he ordered Simonetta, Capisuchi, and the datary to be sent for. While waiting their arrival, Clement leant at the window, and appeared absorbed in thought. At last, unable to contain himself any longer, he exclaimed: ‘I am greatly surprised that his Majesty should behave as he does towards me.’ The intrepid Bonner replied: ‘His Majesty is not less surprised that your Holiness, who has received so many services from him, repays him with ingratitude.’ Clement started, but restrained himself on seeing the datary enter, and ordered that officer to read the appeal which Bonner had just delivered to him.[349]

The datary began: ‘Considering that we have endured from the pope many wrongs and injuries (gravaminibus et 171injuriis).’... Clasping his hands and nodding dissent, Clement exclaimed ironically: ‘O questo è molto vero!’ meaning to say that it was false, remarks Bonner.[350] The datary continued: ‘Considering that his most holy Lordship strikes us with his spiritual sword, and wishes to separate us from the unity of the Church; we, desiring to protect with a lawful shield the kingdom which God has given us,[351] appeal by these presents, for ourselves and for all our subjects, to a holy universal council.’

A General Council.

At these words, the pope burst into a transport of passion,[352] and the datary stopped. Clement’s gestures and broken words uttered with vehemence, showed the horror he entertained of a council.... A council would set itself above the pope; a council might perhaps say that the Germans and the King of England were right. ‘To speak of a general council! O good Lord!’ he exclaimed.[353]

The pope gave way to convulsive movements, folding and unfolding his handkerchief, which was always a sign of great anger in him. At last, as if to hide his passion, he said: ‘Continue, I am listening.’ When the datary had ended, the pope said coldly to his officers: ‘It is well written! Questo è bene fatto.

Then turning to Bonner, he asked: ‘Have you anything more to say to me?’ Bonner was not in the humor to show the least consideration. A man of the north, he took a pleasure in displaying his roughness and inflexibility in the elegant, crafty, and corrupt society of Rome. He boldly repeated the protest, and delivered the king’s ‘provocation’ to the pope, who broke out into fresh lamentations. ‘Ha!’ he exclaimed vehemently, ‘his Majesty affects much respect for the Church, but does not show the least to me.’ He 172snarled[354] as he read the new document.... Just at this moment, one of his officers announced the King of France. Francis could not have arrived at a more seasonable moment. Clement rose and went to the door to meet him. The king respectfully took off his hat, and holding it in his hand made a low bow,[355] after which he inquired what his Holiness was doing. ‘These English gentlemen,’ said the pontiff, ‘are here to notify me of certain provocations and appeals ... and for other matters,’[356] he added, displaying much ill-humor. Francis sat down near the table at which the pope was seated; and turning their backs to Henry’s envoy, who had retired into an adjoining room, they began a conversation in a low tone, which Bonner, notwithstanding all his efforts, could not hear.

That conversation possibly decided the separation between England and France. The king showed that he was offended at a course of proceeding which he characterized as unbecoming; and Clement learnt, to his immense satisfaction, that the English had not spoken to Francis about the council. ‘If you will leave me and the emperor free to act against England,’ he said to the king, ‘I will ensure you possession of the duchy of Milan.’[357] The monarch promised the obedience of his people to the decrees of the papacy, and the pope in his joy exclaimed: ‘Questo è per la bontà vostra!’ Bonner, who had not lost sight of the two speakers, remarked that at this moment the king and the pope ‘laughed merrily together,’ and appeared to be the best friends in the world.

The king having withdrawn, Bonner, again approached the pope, and the datary finished the reading. The Englishman had not been softened by the mysterious conversation and laughter of Clement and Francis: he was as rough 173and abrupt as the Frenchman had been smooth and amiable. It was long since the papacy had suffered such insults openly, and even the German Reformation had not put it to such torture. The Cardinal De Medicis, chief of the malcontents, who had come in, listened to Bonner, with head bent down and eyes fixed upon the floor: he was humiliated and indignant. ‘This is a matter of great importance,’ said Clement; ‘I will consult the consistory and let you know my answer.’

In the afternoon of Monday, 10th of November, Bonner returned to the palace to learn the pope’s pleasure: but there was a grand reception that day, the lords and ladies of the court of Francis I. were presented to Clement, who did nothing for two hours but bless chaplets, bless the spectators, and put out his foot for the nobles and dames to kiss.[358]

Clement’s Answer.

At last Bonner was introduced: ‘Domine doctor, quid vultis? Sir doctor, what do you want?’ said the pope. ‘I desire the answer which your Holiness promised me.’ Clement, who had had time to recover himself, replied: ‘A constitution of Pope Pius, my predecessor, condemns all appeals to a general council. I therefore reject his Majesty’s appeal as unlawful.’ The pope had pronounced these words with calmness and dignity, but an incident occurred to put him out of temper. Bonner, hurt at the little respect paid to his sovereign, bluntly informed the pope that the Archbishop of Canterbury—that Cranmer—desired also to appeal to a council. This was going too far: Clement, restraining himself no longer, rose, and approaching Henry’s envoy, said to him: ‘If you do not leave the room instantly, I will have you thrown into a caldron of molten lead.’[359]—‘Truly,’ remarked Bonner, ‘if the pope is a shepherd, he is, as the king my master says, a violent and cruel shepherd.’[360] And not caring to take a leaden bath, he departed for Lyons.[361]

174Clement was delighted not only at the departure, but still more at the conduct of Bonner: the insolence of the English envoy helped him wonderfully; and accordingly he made a great noise about it, complaining to everybody, and particularly to Francis. ‘I am wearied, vexed, disgusted with all this,’ said that prince to his courtiers. ‘What I do with great difficulty in a week for my good brother (Henry VIII.), his own ministers undo in an hour.’ Clement endeavored in secret interviews[362] to increase this discontent, and he succeeded. The mysterious understanding was apparent to every one, and Vannes, the English agent, who never lost sight either of the pope or the king, informed Cromwell of the close union of their minds.[363]

When Henry VIII. learnt that the King of France was slipping from him, he was both irritated and alarmed. Abandoned by that prince, he saw the pope launching an interdict against his kingdom, the emperor invading England, and the people in insurrection.[364] He had no repose by night or day: his anger against the pope continued to increase. Wishing to prevent at least the revolts which the partisans of the papacy might excite among his subjects, he dictated a strange proclamation to his secretary: ‘Let no Englishman forget the most noble and loving prince of this realm,’ he said, ‘who is most wrongfully judged by the great idol, and most cruel enemy to Christ’s religion, which calleth himself Pope. Princes have two ways to attain right—the general council and the sword. Now the king, having appealed from the unlawful sentence of the Bishop of Rome to a general council lawfully congregated, the said usurper hath rejected the appeal, and is thus outlawed. By holy Scripture, there is no more jurisdiction granted to the Bishop of Rome than to any other bishop. Henceforth honor him not as an idol, who is but a man usurping God’s power and 175authority; and a man neither in life, learning, nor conversation like Christ’s minister or disciple.’[365]

Henry having given vent to his irritation, bethought himself, and judged it more prudent not to publish the proclamation.

At Marseilles England and France separated: the first, because she was withdrawing from the pope; the other, because she was drawing nearer to him. It is here that was formed that secret understanding between Paris and Rome which, adopted by the successors of Francis I., and more or less courted by other sovereigns of Christendom, has for several centuries filled glorious countries with despotism and persecution, and often with immorality. The interview at Marseilles between the pope and the King of France is the dividing point: since that time, governments and nations in the train of Rome have been seen to decline, while those who separated from it have begun to rise.

(January to March 1534.)

Cry Against The Papacy.

While the papacy was intriguing with France and the empire, England was energetically working at the utter abolition of the Roman authority.[366] ‘One loud cry must be raised in England against the papacy,’ said Cromwell to the council. ‘It is time that the question was laid before the 176people. Bishops, parsons, curates, priors, abbots, and preachers of the religious orders should all declare from their pulpits that the Bishop of Rome, styled the Pope, is subordinate, like the rest of the bishops, to a general council, and that he has no more rights in this kingdom than any other foreign bishop.’

It was necessary to pursue the same course abroad. Henry resolved to send ambassadors to Poland, Hungary, Saxony, Bavaria, Pomerania, Prussia, Hesse, and other German states, to inform them that he was touched with the zeal they had shown in defence of the Word of God and the extirpation of ancient errors, and to acquaint all men that he was himself ‘utterly determined to reduce the pope’s power ad justos et legitimos mediocritatis suæ modos, to the just and lawful bounds of his mediocrity.’[367]

He did not stop here. Desiring above all things to withdraw France from under the influence of Rome, he instructed his ambassadors to tell Francis I. in his name and in the name of the people: ‘We shall shortly be able to give unto the pope such a buffet as he never had before.’[368] This was quite in Henry’s style. ‘Things are going at such a rate here,’ wrote the Duke of Norfolk to Montmorency, ‘that the pope will soon lose the obedience of England; and other nations, perceiving the great fruits, advantage, and profit that will result from it, will also separate from Rome.’[369]

All this was serious: there was some chance that Norfolk’s prophecy would be fulfilled. The poor pontiff could think of nothing else, and began to believe that the idea of a council was not so unreasonable after all, since the place and time of meeting and mode of proceeding would lead to endless discussions; and if the meeting ever took place, he would thus be relieved of a responsibility which became more oppressive to him every day. He therefore bade Henry VIII. be informed that he agreed to call a general council. But events had not stood still; the position 177was not the same. ‘It is no longer necessary,’ the king answered coldly. In his opinion, the Church of England was sufficient of herself, and could do without the Church of Rome.

The King of France, growing alarmed, immediately resumed his part of mediator. Du Bellay, his ambassador at Rome, made indefatigable efforts to inspire the consistory with an opinion favorable to Henry VIII. According to that diplomatist, the King of England was ready to re-establish friendly relations with Clement VII., and it was parliament alone that desired to break with the papacy forever: it was the people who wished for reform, it was the king who opposed it. ‘Make your choice,’ he exclaimed with eloquence.[370] ‘All that the king desires is peace with Rome; all that the commonalty demands is war. With whom will you go—with your enemies or with your friend?’ Du Bellay’s assertions, though strange, were based upon a truth that cannot be denied. It was the best of the people who wanted protestantism in England, and not the king.

Alarm Of The Court Of Rome.

The court of Rome felt that the last hour had come, and determined to despatch to London the papers necessary to reconcile Henry. It was believed on the Continent that the King of England was going to gain his cause at last, and people ascribed it to the ascendency of French policy at Rome since the marriage of Catherine de Medicis with Henry of Orleans. But the more the French triumphed, the more indignant became the Imperialists. To no purpose did the pope say to them: ‘You do not understand the state of affairs: the thing is done.... The King of England is married to Anne Boleyn. If I annulled the marriage, who would undertake to execute my sentence?’—‘Who?’ exclaimed the ambassadors of Charles V., ‘who?... The emperor.’[371] The weak pontiff knew not which way to turn: he had but one hope left—if Henry VIII., as 178he expected, should re-establish catholicism in his kingdom, a fact so important would silence Charles V.

This fact was not to be feared: a movement had begun in the minds of the people of Great Britain which it was no longer possible to stop. While many pious souls received the Word of God in their hearts, the king and the most enlightened part of the nation were agreed to put an end to the intolerable usurpations of the Roman pontiff. ‘We have looked in the Holy Scriptures for the rights of the papacy,’ said the members of the Commons house of parliament, ‘but, instead of finding therein the institution of popes, we have found that of kings—and, according to God’s commandments, the priests ought to be subject to them as much as the laity.’—‘We have reflected upon the wants of the realm,’ said the royal council, ‘and have come to the conclusion, that the nation ought to form one body; that one body can have but one head, and that head must be the king.’ The parliament which met in January, 1534, was to give the death-blow to the supremacy of the pope.

This blow came strictly neither from Henry nor from Cranmer, but from Thomas Cromwell.[372] Without possessing Cranmer’s lively faith, Cromwell desired that the preachers should open the Word of God and preach it ‘with pure sincereness’ before the people,[373] and he afterwards procured from every Englishman the right to read it. Being pre-eminently a statesman of sure judgment and energetic action, he was in advance of his generation; and it was his fate, like those generals who march boldly at the head of the army, to procure victory to the cause for which he fought; but, persecuted by the traitors concealed among his soldiers, to be sacrificed by the prince he had served, and to meet a tragical death before the hour of his triumph.

The Commons, wishing to put an end to the persecutions practised by the clergy against the evangelical Christians, 179summoned—it was a thing unprecedented[374]—the Lord-bishop of London to appear at their bar to answer the complaint made against him by Thomas Philips, one of the disciples of the Reformation. The latter had been lying in prison three years under a charge of heresy. The parliament, unwilling that a bishop should be able at his own fancy to transform one of his Majesty’s subjects into a heretic, brought in a bill for the repression of doctrines condemned by the Church. They declared that, the authority of the Bishop of Rome being opposed to Holy Scripture and the laws of the realm, the words and acts that were contrary to the decisions of the pontiff could not be regarded as heresies. Then turning to the particular case which had given rise to the grievance, parliament declared Philips innocent and discharged him from prison.

After having thus upheld the cause of religious liberty, the Commons proceeded to the definitive abolition of the privileges which the bishops of Rome had successively usurped to the great detriment of both Church and people. They restored to England the rights of which Rome had despoiled her. They prohibited all appeals to the pope, of what kind soever they might be,[375] and substituted for them an appeal to the king in chancery. They voted that the election of bishops did not concern the court of Rome, but belonged to the chief ecclesiastical body in the diocese, to the chapter ... at least in appearance; for it really appertained to the crown, the king designating the person whom the chapter was to elect. This strange constitution was abolished under Edward VI., when the nomination of the bishops was conferred purely and simply on the king. If this was not better, it was at least more sincere; but the singular congé d’élire was restored under Elizabeth.

Complaint Of Romish Exactions.

At the same time new and loud complaints of the Romish exactions were heard in parliament. ‘For centuries the 180Roman bishops have been deceiving us,’ said the eloquent speakers, ‘making us believe that they have the power of dispensing with everything, even with God’s commandments. We send to Rome the treasures of England, and Rome sends us back in return ... a piece of paper. The monster which has fattened on the substance of our people bears a hundred different names. They call it reliefs, dues, pensions, provisions, procurations, delegation, rescript, appeal, abolition, rehabilitation, relaxation of canonical penalties, licenses, Peter’s pence, and many other names besides. And after having thus caught our money by all sorts of tricks, the Romans laugh at us in their sleeves.’ Parliament forbade everybody, even the king himself,[376] to apply to Rome for any dispensation or delegation whatsoever, and ordered them, in case of need, to have recourse to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Then, immediately putting these principles into practice, they declared the king’s marriage with Catherine to be null, for ‘no man has power to dispense with God’s laws,’[377] and ratified the marriage between Henry and Anne, proclaiming their children heirs to the crown. At the same time, wishing England to become entirely English, they deprived two Italians, Campeggi and Ghinucci, of the sees of Salisbury and Worcester, which they held.

It was during the month of March, 1534—an important date for England—that the main branches of the tree of popery were thus lopped off one after another. The trunk indeed remained, although stripped; but yet a few months, and that too was to strew the earth with its fall. Still the Commons showed a certain degree of consideration. When Clement had threatened the king with excommunication, he had given him three months’ grace; England, desiring to return his politeness, informed the pope that he might receive some compensation. At the same time she made an important declaration: ‘We do not separate from the 181Christian Church,’ said the Commons, ‘but merely from the usurped authority of the Pope of Rome; and we preserve the catholic faith, as it is set forth in the Holy Scriptures.’ All these reforms were effected with great unanimity, at least in appearance. The bishops, even the most scholastic, such as Stokesley of London, Tonstal of Durham, Gardiner of Winchester, and Rowland Lee of Coventry, declared the Roman papacy to be of human invention, and that the pope was, in regard to them, only a bishop, a brother, as his predecessors had been to the bishops of antiquity.[378] Every Sunday during the cessation of parliament a prelate preached at St. Paul’s Cross ‘that the pope was not the head of the Church,’ and all the people said Amen.

Meanwhile Du Bellay, the French ambassador at Rome, was waiting for the act by which the King of England was to bind himself once more to the pope—an act which Francis I. still gave him reason to expect. Every morning he fancied it would arrive, and every evening his expectations were disappointed. He called upon the English envoys, and afterwards at the Roman chancery, to hear if there was any news; but everywhere the answer was the same—nothing.

Henry’s Condemnation.

The term fixed by Clement VII. having elapsed, he summoned the consistory for Monday the 23d of March. Du Bellay attended it, still hoping to prevent anything being done that might separate England from the papacy. The cardinals represented to him, that as the submission of Henry VIII. had not arrived, nothing remained but for the pope to fulminate the sentence. ‘Do you not know,’ exclaimed Du Bellay, in alarm, ‘that the courier charged with that prince’s despatches has seas to cross, and the winds may be contrary? The King of England waited your decision for six years, and cannot you wait six days?’[379] ‘Delay is quite useless,’ said a cardinal of the imperial faction; 182‘we know what is taking place in England. Instead of thinking of reparation, the king is widening the schism every day. He goes so far as to permit the representation of dramas at his court, in which the holy conclave, and some of your most illustrious selves in particular, are held up to ridicule.’ The last blow, although a heavy one, was unnecessary. The priests could no longer contain their vexation; the rebellious prince must be punished. Nineteen out of twenty-two cardinals voted against Henry VIII.; the remaining three only asked for further enquiry. Clement could not conceal his surprise and annoyance. To no purpose did he demand another meeting, in conformity with the custom which requires two, and even three consultations:[380] overwhelmed by an imposing and unexpected majority, he gave way.

The Pope’s Disquietude.

Simonetta then handed him the sentence, which the unhappy pope took and read with the voice of a criminal rather than of a judge. ‘Having invoked the name of Christ, and sitting on the throne of justice,[381] we decree that the marriage between Catherine of Aragon and Henry, King of England was and is valid and canonical; that the said King Henry is bound to cohabit with the said queen; to pay her royal honors; and that he must be constrained to discharge these duties.’ After pronouncing these words the poor pontiff, alarmed at the bold act he had just performed, turned to the envoys of Charles V. and said to them: ‘I have done my duty; it is now for the emperor to do his, and to carry the sentence into execution.’ ‘The emperor will not hold back,’ answered the ambassadors; but the thing was not so easily done as said.

Thus the great affair was ended; the King of England was condemned. It was dark when the pope quitted the consistory; the news so long expected spread immediately 183through the city; the emperor’s partisans, transported with joy, lit bonfires in all the open places, and cannons fired repeated salvoes. Bands of Ghibelines paraded the streets, shouting, Imperio e Espagna (the Empire and Spain). The whole city was in commotion. The pope’s disquietude was still further increased by these demonstrations. ‘He is tormented,’ wrote Du Bellay to his master. Clement spent the whole night in conversation with his theologians. ‘What must be done? England is lost to us. Oh! how can I avert the king’s anger?’ Clement VII. never recovered from this blow; the thought that under his pontificate Rome lost England made him shudder. The slightest mention of it renewed his anguish, and sorrow soon brought him to the tomb.

Yet he did not know all. The evil with which Rome was threatened was greater than he had imagined. If in this matter there had been nothing more than the decision of a prince discontented with the court of Rome, a contrary decision of one of his successors might again place England under the dominion of the pontiffs; and these would be sure to spare no pains to recover the good graces of the English kings. But in despite of Henry VIII., a pure doctrine, similar to that of the apostolic times, was spreading over the different parts of the nation; a doctrine which was not only to wrest England from the pope, but to establish in that island a true Christianity—a vast evangelical propaganda which should plant the standard of God’s word even at the ends of the world. The empire of Christendom was thus to be taken from a church led astray by pride, and which bade mankind unite with it that they might be saved; and to be given to those who taught that, according to the divine declarations, none could be saved except by uniting with Jesus Christ.



(July 1533.)

Spirit Of The Times.

We have seen the Reformation advancing in the bosom of a great nation; we shall now see it making progress in one of the smallest. The fall of Wolsey in England and the flight of the bishop-prince from Geneva are two historical dates which bear a certain resemblance. After the disappearance of these two prelates, there was a forward movement in men’s minds, and the Reformation advanced with more decided steps. Those two countries are now, as regards their importance, at the two extreme points in the line of nations; but in the sixteenth century the humble city of the Leman played a more important part in the Church of Christ than the mighty England. Calvin and his school did more than the Tudors, the Stuarts, and their divines, to check the reaction of the papacy and secure the triumph of true Christianity. The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries have proclaimed Geneva the antagonist of Rome; and, in truth, the petty band which marched under its banner, held their ground for nearly two centuries against the powerful and well-disciplined army of the Roman pontiffs. We have not forgotten Wittemberg, we shall not forget Geneva. The historian is not allowed to pass by the 185little ones who have had their share in the developments of the human mind. To those who repose beneath the healthful shade of the great Gospel oak, and under its green boughs, we must relate the story of the acorn from which it sprang. The man who despises humble things cannot understand great things. ‘The Lord,’ says Calvin, ‘purposely made his kingdom to have small and lowly beginnings, in order that his divine power should be better known, when we see a progress that had never been expected.’

On the 1st of July, 1533, the Bishop of Geneva had returned to his city with the aid of the priests, the catholics, the Friburgers, and the ‘mamelukes,’ with the intention of ‘burying that sect,’ as he called the Reformation. Many of the most devoted friends of the Gospel were in exile or in the episcopal prison; hostile bands appeared in the neighborhood of the city, and all expected a victory of the Roman party. The tree was about to be violently uptorn before it had given any shade. But when God has placed a germ of religious, or even of political, life among a people, that life triumphs despite all the opposition of men. There are rocks and mountains which seem as if they would stop the course of the mighty waters, and yet the rivers still run on their way. The exasperated Pierre de la Baume chafed in Geneva, and beat the earth as if to crush reform and liberty beneath his feet; but by so doing he opened a gulf, in which were swallowed up his rights as a prince, his privileges as a bishop, taxes, revenue, priests, monks, mitres, images, altars, and all the religion of the Roman pontiffs.

If the bishop was uneasy, the people were uneasy likewise. It was not only strong men who spoke against the abuses of the papacy, but even women extolled the prerogatives of the evangelical faith. One day (in June or July, 1533) there was a large party at one of their houses, and two gentlemen of the neighboring district, Sire de Simieux and M. de Flacien, ‘besides seven or eight of their varlets,’ were invited. In their presence the wife of Baudichon de 186la Maisonneuve professed the evangelical truth. De Simieux having reproved the Genevese lady, ‘It is very clear you are a good Papist,’ said she. ‘And that you are a good Lutheran,’ retorted De Simieux. ‘Would to God,’ exclaimed the lady, ‘that we were all so, for it is a good thing and a good law!’[382] The two gentlemen had had enough; they took leave of the ladies, and their eight ‘varlets’ followed them. Another incident will still better show the spirit of the times.

An evangelical named Curtet had just been murdered. Many huguenots thought it strange that, while their adversaries struck down a man,—a real image of God,—they must respect images made of wood, canvas, or stone. There was a deservedly celebrated place in Geneva, formerly occupied by the castle of Gondebaud, King of Burgundy, whence his niece Clotilda, one day escaped to marry and convert Clovis. It was a very ancient arcade, only pulled down within these few years,[383] and known as the Porte du Château (the castle gate). Near this place stood an image of the Virgin, an object of great veneration.[384] On the 12th of July, 1533, some ‘Lutherans,’ believing it to be blasphemy against God to regard the Virgin as ‘the salvation of the world,’ went to the gate, carried away the image, broke it to pieces, and burnt it.

The bishop, feeling that such men as these were capable of anything, resolved to put the imprisoned huguenots beyond their reach. A report soon spread abroad that he was secretly preparing boats to convey the prisoners during the night to Friburg or the castle of Chillon, ‘there to do his pleasure on them.’[385] All the huguenot population was in commotion; each man shouldered his arquebuse and joined his company; Philip, the captain-general, ordered the approaches to the lake to be guarded, so as to prevent the captive citizens from being conveyed elsewhere.

Uneasiness In The City.

187The noble enthusiasm which the Reformation kindles in the soul uplifts a man; while the philosophic indifference of scholars and priests serves but to degrade him. The Genevans, filled with love for justice and liberty, were ready to risk all that they held most dear in order to prevent innocent citizens from being unjustly condemned, and a prelate sent by the pope from usurping rights which belonged to the magistrates elected by the people. An extraordinary agitation prevailed in men’s minds, and several huguenots proceeded to the shore of the lake. Pierre Verne, taking advantage of the darkness, got into the boats fastened to the bank, and cut the mooring-ropes as well as the cords to which the oars were lashed, so that they were made unserviceable.[386] Numerous patrols traversed the streets, the armed men being accompanied by citizens, both young and old, carrying montres de feu, that is, rods tipped with iron, having several lighted matches or port-fires at the end, which were used at that time to discharge the arquebuses. The dreaded hour when the evil use which princes make of their power accelerates their ruin, had arrived at last for the Bishop of Geneva. De la Baume and his partisans, who watched from their windows the passage of these excited bands, were surprised at the number of arquebusiers with which the city was suddenly thronged. ‘They were informed that for each arquebusier there were three or four match-men, which caused great alarm to those in the palace.’ A comet that appeared during the month of July alarmed them still more.[387] As yet the huguenots wanted a man to lead the way; they were to find him in Baudichon de la Maisonneuve.

The Lutheranism of that citizen was of old date. He was a great friend of John Lullin, who possessed, it will be remembered, the hostelry of the Bear, at that time much frequented by German traders, who were, for the most part, 188Lutherans. Some Nuremburg merchants of the name of Toquer arrived there during the Lent of 1526.[388] De la Maisonneuve, who had much business with Germany, went often to see them, ‘eating and drinking with them.’ Their conversation was very animated, and usually turned upon religion. As early as 1523 the traders of Nuremburg had heard the Gospel from the mouth of Osiander, and they endeavored to propagate it wherever they went. Their words struck De la Maisonneuve all the more ‘because at that time there was no mention of Lutheranism in Geneva, or next to none, at least.’[389] There was at that time in Lullin’s service a young man of Lyons, named Jean Demai, about twenty-five years of age, and very attached to the Roman Church. While waiting at table, he listened attentively to the conversation between Baudichon and the Germans, and kept it in his memory. The daring Genevese did not restrain himself, and said, sometimes at dinner, sometimes at supper,[390] ‘God did not ordain Lent. It is mere folly to confess to the priests, for they cannot absolve you. It is an abuse to go to mass. All the religious orders, mendicants, and others, are nonsense.’ ‘What, then, will you do with the monks?’ asked one of the party. ‘Set them all to till the earth,’ he replied. ‘If you say such things,’ observed a catholic, ‘the Church will refuse you burial.’ ‘When I die,’ he answered, ‘I will have no preaching at my funeral, and no bells tolled; I will be buried wherever I please.’[391] Baudichon’s remarks were not kept within the walls of the hostelry of the Bear. Before long they were repeated throughout the city and neighborhood. ‘That man,’ said many, ‘is one of the principal Lutherans and in the front rank of those who set them going.’[392] That is what he was about to do.

Baudichon Recovers The Prisoners.

189On the 12th of July, 1533, Baudichon had passed the day in the country, making preparations for the harvest. Returning from the fields at night, he was surprised to see an extraordinary guard at the city gate, and on asking what it meant, he was told that the episcopalians were going to convey the prisoners to some place of strength. Immediately he determined to compel the bishop—but solely through fear—to follow the course prescribed by the laws. He desired fifty of the most resolute of his friends to take each an iron-tipped staff and to place five matches at the end. He then concealed them all in a house not far from the palace. Ere long darkness covered the city; there was nobody in the streets except a few patrols. De la Maisonneuve bade the men of his troop light their matches, and put himself at their head. In their left hands they held the staff, and the sword in their right. Entering the palace, and making their way to the prince’s apartment, they appeared before him, surrounded him with their two hundred and fifty lights; and Baudichon, acting as spokesman, called upon him to surrender his prisoners to their lawful judges. The bishop stared with amazement at this band of men with their swords and flaming torches; the night season added to his terror, and he thought that if he did not give way he would be put to death. Baudichon had no such idea; but Pierre de la Baume, imagining his last hour had come,[393] gave the required order. Upon which the troop defiled before him with their port-fires, and quitted the episcopal palace. The huguenot prisoners having been transferred to the syndics, the latter intrusted them to the gaoler of the same prison ‘to keep them securely under pain of death.’ They had passed from the arbitrary power of the bishop to the lawful authority of the councils. Constitutional order was restored.[394]

The bishop passed a very agitated night. The huguenots and the torches and the swords with which he had been 190surrounded would not let him sleep; and, when daylight came, he, as well as his courtiers, was quite unmanned. The 13th of July fell on Sunday, and what a Sunday! ‘I shall leave the city,’ the prelate said to his servants. A rumor of his approaching departure having got abroad, some of the canons hurried to the palace to dissuade him. ‘I will go,’ he repeated. To no effect did his followers represent to him that, if he left, the catholic faith, the episcopate, the authority of the prince, his revenues, would all be lost; nothing could shake him. He was determined to go. A Thomas à Becket would have died on the spot; but Pierre de la Baume, says a contemporary document, ‘was very warm about his own safety, but more than cold for the church.’[395]

One thought, however, disturbed the timid bishop; and the proceedings of the syndics, Du Crest and Coquet, who came to beg him not to desert the city and his flock, served but to increase his distress. If the huguenots knew of his departure, he thought they might possibly stop him and bring him back to the palace. He dreamt of nothing but persecution; he saw nothing but prisons, swords, and corpses. He made up his mind to deceive the syndics, and assured them he would return in six weeks without fail; but he promised himself that Geneva should never see him again. He then asked the magistrates for six score of arquebusiers to protect his departure the next morning.

The syndics having determined to convene the council, the ushers went round the city and roused the councillors from their beds. Geneva desired to keep her bishop, while the bishop wished to desert her. The council ordered that next morning at daybreak, for fear the prelate should leave early, the syndics should go and point out the necessity for his remaining.[396]

The Bishop Anxious To Leave.

The syndics had scarcely left him when he fell into fresh terrors. He thought that the mustering of six-score arquebusiers 191would spread abroad the news of his departure, that the huguenots would rush to arms, that he would find himself between two parties armed with spears and arquebuses.... He must make haste and depart alone, by night or at peep of day, without any parade, before the syndics could have time to assemble the council, which, he fancied, could not meet before the morrow. No one slept in the palace that night; all were busy preparing for the departure, and they took care that nothing should betray to the outside the agitation that reigned within. That was a terrible night. Two spectres appeared to the bishop and dismayed him—the Gospel and liberty. He saw no means of escaping them but flight. But what would the duke and the pope say? To quiet his conscience, he wrote, at the last moment, a letter to the council, in which he enjoined them to oppose the evangelical meetings, and to maintain the Romish religion ‘mordicus, tooth and nail.’

Daylight would soon appear; they were dejected in the palace, but everything was ready for flight. At that moment there was a knocking at the gate.... It was the four syndics; the bishop was a few minutes too late.... The syndics entered, and conjured Pierre de la Baume in the name of peace, country, and religion. They pointed out to him the consequences of his departure; the monarchical power crumbling away, the republic rising upon its ruins, the Church of Rome disappearing, and that of the innovators taking shape....

But nothing could move the bishop; he remained insensible as a statue. They next entreated him to leave the state affairs in order; to appoint, during his absence, a vicar, an official, a judge of appeal. Pierre de la Baume refused everything. One only thought filled his mind—he wanted to get away. ‘Alas!’ said the moderate catholics, ‘he does not set the state in order, and as for the church over which he is pastor ... he abandons his flock.’[397] When the 192syndics had withdrawn, he gave the signal for departure. There was not a moment to lose, he thought; it will soon be broad daylight, and who knows but the magistrates, who set so much upon his presence, may give orders to stop him. Let every man do his duty! Let there not be a minute’s delay! The bishop took care not to leave the palace either by the principal entrance or by the ordinary gates of the city. In the vaults of the building was a passage which led to an unfrequented street—the Rue du Boule, now the Rue de la Fontaine. By following this street, the bishop could reach a secret postern in the wall of the city, which Froment calls la fausse porte du sel. Then Pierre de la Baume would be outside of Geneva; then he would be safe. Accordingly the bishop quitted his apartments, descended to the basement of the palace, and made his escape from that edifice (which is now a prison) like a malefactor escaping from his dungeon. His officers were downcast; they would have wished to crush those insolent huguenots, but were obliged to leave them a clear field. The bishop himself, forced to quit his palace and his power, felt great vexation.[398] He looked about him with uneasiness, and trembled lest he should see the huguenots appear at the corner of the street. The encroachments he had made on the liberties of the citizens were not of a nature to tranquillize him, and in his distress he quickened his steps.

The Bishop’s Departure.

The fugitive band reached the secret postern; the prelate had the key; he passed through and stood on the shore of the lake. There was no enemy in sight. He entered a boat which had been got ready for him, and reached the other bank. He sprang immediately upon the horse that was waiting for him, and rode off at a gallop. He felt the weight upon his heart grow lighter the farther he went. Now the fierce huguenots will trouble him no more, and he will ‘make good cheer.’ ‘He retired to the Tower of May,’ says the chronicle, ‘and never returned again.’[399]

Baudichon de la Maisonneuve had succeeded beyond his 193expectations. Not only had the prisoners been rescued from the unlawful power of the bishop, but the prelate himself had disappeared. A few huguenots, waving their montres de feu, had been sufficient to deliver Geneva. Not a drop of blood had been shed. ‘As at the sound of the trumpets of Gideon, and at the sight of his lamps,’ said the evangelists, ‘the Amalekites and the Midianites fled during the night, so did the bishop and his followers flee away at the sound of the arms and at the sight of the fire.’[400]

Early in the morning of the 14th of July, the news of the bishop’s departure circulated through the city. The catholic members of the council, deserted by a perjured prince, felt themselves unable henceforth to oppose the torrent which was advancing with irresistible power. ‘All the catholics,’ says Sister Jeanne, ‘were sorely grieved.’ The pope blamed the bishop for abandoning his church, and reproached him for his cowardice.[401] ‘That miserable city, having lost its prince and pastor,’ said people in Italy, ‘will become the asylum of every villain and the throne of heresy.’[402] But what caused so much sorrow to the papists was the source of immense joy to the evangelicals. They contended that the prince by running away abdicated his usurped power, and that the citizens resumed their rights.[403] The sun of Geneva was setting, according to the old style (that of the Roman court); but according to the new (that of the Gospel), it was rising; and Geneva, illumined by its rays, was to communicate that divine light to others. The 14th of July, 1533, witnessed in Geneva the fall of that hybrid power[404] which claims to hold two swords in its hand. Since then other bishop-kings have also disappeared, even 194in the most catholic countries; and the last, that of Rome, totters on his pedestal. The people of Geneva, from the time when they lost sight of that shameless and pitiless prelate, ceased to care about him, and never asked after him. They even invented a by-word, in use to this day; and when they wish to speak of a man for whom they feel a thorough indifference, they say: Je ne m’en soucie pas plus que de Baume (I do not care a straw about him).[405]

(July to December 1533.)

The bishop had fallen from his throne, and with him had expired a despotism which offensively usurped the liberties of the people; the lawful magistrates once more sat in their curule chairs, with liberty and justice at their sides. They investigated the cases of the citizens whom Pierre de la Baume claimed to get rid of without the formality of trial. The only man who could be accused of Wernly’s death was Pierre l’Hoste, and he had taken refuge in the Dominican church, where the bishop had not cared to follow him. The syndics went to the church; the poor wretch, shaking in every limb, clung vainly to the altar, and cried out: ‘I claim the privileges accorded to this sanctuary.’ He was arrested and the inquiry commenced. It proved the innocence of the imprisoned Huguenots, and showed that the disturbance in which Wernly fell had been caused by the 195violence of the canon himself, who was armed from head to foot, and had taunted his adversaries with loud cries. The magistrates, however, thought that the blood of the victim called for the blood of him who had shed it. Pierre l’Hoste, the carman of the city, denied striking the fatal blow, but confessed that he had struck Wernly: he was condemned and beheaded. All the other prisoners were released.

But there was no relief to Claudine Levet’s sorrow; her husband was still confined in Castle Gaillard, and the governor refused to release him. The council entreated the Bernese deputies in Geneva to intercede in behalf of the prisoner, and on the 4th of September, one of them, accompanied by J. Lullin and C. Savoye, having gone out to Ville-la-Grand, about a league from the city, Aimé Levet was surrendered to them.[406]

Froment And Alexander Arrive.

While this pious man lay in the Gaillard dungeons, the insults heaped upon him, the harshness of the prison, and the almost certain death which threatened him, had given his faith a new life; so that when the castellan had released him from his bonds, he inwardly vowed that he would make his deliverance accelerate the triumph of the Gospel. He had scarcely reached home, when he wrote to Anthony Froment, the evangelist, whose church had been the market-place, and whose pulpit a fishwife’s stall, and conjured him to return. The latter did not hesitate, and knowing that the struggles which awaited him there were beyond the strength of one man, he invited one of the brethren from Paris, and at that time in the Pays de Vaud to accompany him. This was Alexander Canus, called also Dumoulin. One day, therefore, Aimé and Claudine Levet saw the two evangelists arrive. One lodged with them at St. Gervais on the right bank, and the other at Claude Salomon’s, near the Molard, on the left bank; being thus quartered in the two parts into which the city was divided, they could share the labor.

196Salomon, who shared with Levet the honor and danger of receiving the evangelists, was as gentle as his friend Maisonneuve was quick and often violent. One day, shortly after the bishop’s flight, the latter saw in front of him in the street two of the bishop’s partisans, whom he suspected to be getting up some conspiracy; his blood boiled at the sight, and he exclaimed: ‘there are so many traitors here.... My fingers itch to be at them.’[407] A sense of duty, however, restrained him, and he did nothing. But Salomon was calm and full of charity and compassion: he felt none of these passing ebullitions, and thought only of visiting the sick and the poor, and sheltering strangers whom the Romish persecutions drove to Geneva. ‘These poor refugees,’ he said, ‘are more destitute than all the rest.’ His wife, ‘neither dainty nor nice,’[408] lavished her cares on them. They were the Gaius and Dorcas of Scripture.

Order To Preach The Scriptures.

Froment and Alexander, quartered on both sides of the Rhone, preached the Word in private houses with such power that the new faith extended far and wide, ‘like the layers of a vine;’[409] the old stocks producing young shoots, which took root and formed other stocks. The priests were alarmed, and exclaimed that if those doctrines continued to be so preached, all the country would soon be infested with the sect. They applied to the bishop, who was at his castle of May—restless, agitated, and reproaching himself with his disgraceful flight. Wishing to redeem that fault, he replied on the 24th of October, forbidding any preaching in Geneva except according to ancient custom. The exulting priests presented these episcopal letters to the council. The bishop’s cowardly behavior had estranged the magistrates. ‘Preach the Gospel,’ answered the council, ‘and say nothing which cannot be proved by Holy Scripture.’ These important words, which gave the victory 197to the Reformation, may still be read in the official minutes.

Great was the joy among the reformed. They saw in these words a decree which made evangelical Christianity a lawful religion[410] at Geneva (as at Rome in the third and fourth centuries), and authorized them to form a Church which should be free without being dominant. The same fact has reappeared at other times and in other countries. From that day, all who had any leaning towards the Gospel would go to the house of Maisonneuve or of some other huguenot leader, and sit down in the largest room. Presently the preacher would enter, take his place before a table, and usually (as it would seem) under the mantel-piece of the large projecting fireplace. He would then proclaim the Word of God. These evangelists ‘did not fret themselves,’ they did not speak with bitterness like some others, and make a great noise; but invited souls to approach Christ without fear, because he is meek and lowly in heart; and such simple genial preaching attracted all who heard it. The bishop exclaimed that it was only ‘painted language,’ and ‘sham tenderness;’ but the number of hearers became so considerable that the two missionaries were forced to preach in the streets and cross-ways of the city at the Molard, the foot of Coutance, and other places. As soon as they appeared anywhere a numerous assembly gathered round them, the hearers crowded one upon another, and the living words addressed to them bore more fruit than scholastic or trivial sermons delivered in fine churches to hearers dozing in comfortable seats. ‘These preachings in houses, streets, and cross-ways,’ said Froment himself, ‘are not without danger to life, but are a great advancement to the Word, and detriment to popery.’[411]

The catholic party became alarmed; their leaders met, and the procurator-fiscal with the bishop’s officers and the priests, who were ‘greatly envenomed against the two 198reformers,’[412] resolved to apprehend them. Whenever a meeting was formed, the sergeants came upon it unexpectedly. ‘But as soon as they saw the levelled halberds, the faithful, greatly increased in number, did their duty, surrounded their ministers, and helped them to escape.’ In consequence of this, the episcopal police went more craftily to work: they kept watch upon the ministers, and came upon them when they were alone, ‘aiming at nothing less than their lives.’[413] But these efforts of the priests increased the respect men felt for the evangelists. ‘Such persecutions,’ said the huguenots, ‘are a sign by which we may know that the ministers are excellent servants of Christ.’[414]

The bishop, vexed at having left his episcopal city, could find rest nowhere. At one time he was at the Tower of May, at another at Lons-le-Saulnier, now at Arbois, now elsewhere. The thought that two reformers had come to take his place in Geneva disturbed him; and when he found that the citizens paid no attention to his strict prohibition of Gospel preaching sent on the 24th of October, his exasperation was at its height. ‘We must apply an heroic remedy to the disease,’ he said, and on the 20th of November he dictated letters patent addressed to the procurator-fiscal.

Gospel Preaching Forbidden.

The Great Council met on the 30th of November to hear the letters read. ‘We command,’ said the bishop, ‘that no one in our city of Geneva preach, expound, or cause to be preached or expounded, secretly or publicly, or in any manner whatsoever, the holy page, the holy Gospel,[415] unless he have received our express permission, under pain of perpetual excommunication and a fine of one hundred livres.’ The Two Hundred were astounded, the evangelicals were indignant, and the better catholics hung their heads. A bishop 199to forbid the preaching of the holy page, of the holy Gospel! ... to forbid it too in the very season (Advent) when it was usual to proclaim it! To excommunicate all who preach it! To forbid its being taught in any manner whatsoever! To forbid them to talk of it in courts or gardens, or elsewhere! Not a room, not a cellar, kitchen, or garret was excepted! The Apostle Paul declares, however, that the Gospel of Christ must not be hindered. The emotion of the Two Hundred was so great that all deliberation became impossible; ‘the whole council rose and went out,’ we read in the minutes of the sitting. Such was the mute but energetic reply made by Geneva to its bishop.

In the city the emotion was still greater, and vented itself in murmurs and sighs, and also in ironical jests. ‘Have you heard the news?’ said the huguenots: ‘the bishop is going to issue an order with sound of trumpet, forbidding us to speak either good or evil of God and Christ.’ The silly prohibition was like oil thrown upon the fire: the preachings became more frequent, and even the indifferent began to read the Scriptures. Froment and his friends distributed evangelical books in abundance: first the New Testament, then various treatises recently composed, such as La Vérité cachée, La Confrérie du Saint-Esprit, La Manière du Baptême, La Cène de Jésus-Christ, and Le Livre des Marchands.[416] De Vingle, the printer, and one of his men, named Grosne, helped them in this work. But the papists sometimes treated the colporteurs roughly; a gentleman of the neighborhood, having caught Grosne on the high road, cut off his ears.[417] This had no effect; the people thirsted for the truth, and all were eager to hear the Word of God.

The leaders of the episcopal party, seeing that nothing could stop these prêcheurs de cheminées (chimney-preachers) and their hearers, looked about for a preacher whose energetic eloquence might rekindle the expiring Roman fervor,—one 200of those stout champions who can deal heavy blows in serious contests. For three or four centuries the Dominicans had played, as inquisitors, the chief parts in the papacy; they were skilful, eloquent, shrewd in government, persevering in their designs, inflexible in dogma, prodigal of threats, condemnations, and the stake. There was much talk in Savoy, and even in Geneva, about one of them,—a doctor of the Sorbonne, named Guy Furbity,—‘a great theologian,’ they said, ‘an enthusiastic servant of the pope, a sworn enemy of the Reformation, daring and violent to the last degree.’[418] Just then he was preaching at Chambéry and Montmeillan, charming all hearers. The Genevese catholics petitioned the Sorbonne for this great preacher. Such a rock, transported to the valley of the Leman, would, they thought, check the devastating torrent of reform. Their prayer was granted, and Furbity flattered himself that he was going to win a fairer crown than all his predecessors. Proud of his order, his reputation, and his Church, he arrived in Geneva with haughty head, glaring eyes, and threatening gestures; one might have imagined that he was going to crush all his adversaries to powder. ‘Ah! those poor Lutherans,’ he said disdainfully, ‘those poor chimney-preachers!’ ‘He was in a passion,’ says Froment.[419] The huguenots said, as they pointed him out, ‘Look at that Atlas, who fancies he carries the tottering Church of the Roman pontiff on his shoulders.’[420]

Furbity Abuses Bible-Readers.

A plot had been formed, of which Furbity was to be the chief instrument. The syndics, Du Crest, Baud, Malbuisson, and many other good Genevans had been gained over by the priests to the cause of the pope, and by this means the latter held in their hands the council, the treasury, the artillery, and, in one word, the city property, besides the ignorant populace.[421] The Sorbonne doctor had hardly 201alighted at the convent of his order when a deputation from the canons came and asked him to preach in the cathedral and not in the Dominican church. ‘The sermons delivered at St. Pierre’s, said the monks, ‘will produce a greater sensation.’—‘Very good,’ said Furbity, ‘I promise you that I will cry out pretty loudly against the modern heretics.’ It was objected that it was contrary to the established custom to have such preachings in the cathedral. ‘We will put him there by force of arms,’ answered the churchmen, ‘and he shall say what he pleases.’

On the morning of Sunday, the 30th of November, a certain number of priests and laymen armed themselves; and the zealous Furbity, taking his place in the middle of the band, proceeded to the cathedral. ‘Really,’ said some of the Genevese with astonishment, ‘he is going to preach by main force.’ But he restrained himself that day, and he met with no opposition. The next day, Monday, he went to work in earnest. His sermon was a continued declamation, full of pompous phrases extolling the papacy, and of invectives against the preachers. ‘In the pulpit he behaves like a madman,’ said Froment, who was present; ‘he roars without rhyme or reason.’ But the bigots were in ecstasies. ‘Have you heard Dr. Furbity?’ they said in the city. On Wednesday an immense crowd assembled to hear him. The Dominican went into the pulpit resolved to crush the heretics, as his patron, St. Dominick had done before him.

He imagined that his great business was to lower the Bible and then to exalt the pope, and he set to work accordingly. ‘All who read the Scriptures in the vulgar tongue,’ he said, ‘are gluttons, drunkards, debauchees, blasphemers, thieves, and murderers.... Those who support them are as wicked as they, and God will punish them. All who will not obey the pope, or the cardinals, or the bishops, or the curates, or the vicars, or the priests, are the devil’s flock. They are marked by him, worse than Jews, traitors, murderers, and brigands, and ought to be hanged on the gallows. All who eat meat on Friday and Saturday, are worse 202than Turks and mad dogs.... Beware of these heretics, these Germans, as you would of lepers and rottenness. Have no dealings with them in the way of business or otherwise, and do not let them marry your daughters. You had better give them to the dogs.’[422]

Among the evangelicals who listened to this string of abuse was one Janin, a man of small stature, a maker of pikes, halberds, javelins, and arrows, whence he was usually called the collonier, or armorer. His activity was indefatigable; he was present everywhere; he held discussions in private and preached ‘to companies, urging with all his might’ those who listened to him to embrace the faith which Luther had found in the Holy Scriptures.[423] Having gone to St. Pierre’s, he sat down near some good catholics, among others Pierre Pennet, whose brothers were soon to become famous in Geneva for their zeal in behalf of the Romish faith. Janin, unable to put up with such insulting language, became restless, and exclaimed that the preacher did not know what he was saying. The catholics around him, annoyed at being disturbed in their devotions, said: ‘Begone; one preacher is enough here.’[424] But they had some trouble to make him hold his tongue. A more telling interruption was to disturb the orator before long.

Furbity Challenges The Lutherans.

The Dominican saw clearly that abuse alone would not restore the papacy; its fundamental doctrines must be established, and this he undertook to do in other discourses. Continuing to insult the reformers as ‘wretches who, instead of wearing the robe, are dressed like brigands,’ he maintained that priests only, by virtue of the sacramental institution, could bring souls into communion with God. He even used language that must have sounded strange to the worshippers of Mary. ‘A priest who consecrates the elements of the Sacrament,’ he said, ‘is above the Holy Virgin, for she only 203gave life to Jesus Christ once, whereas the priest creates him every day, as often as he likes. If a priest pronounces the sacramental words over a sack full of bread, or in a cellar full of wine, all the bread, by that very act, is transformed and becomes the precious body of Christ, and all the wine is changed into blood—which is what the Virgin never did.... Ah! the priest! ... you should not merely salute him, you should kneel and prostrate yourselves before him.’

This was not enough; the Dominican thought it his duty to establish the doctrine of transubstantiation, on which the dignity of the priest is founded. He exclaimed: ‘We must believe that the body of Jesus Christ is in the host in flesh and bone. We must believe that he is there as much as he was in the Blessed Virgin’s womb, or on the wood of the true cross. We must believe it under pain of damnation, for our holy theological faculty of Paris at the Sorbonne, and our mother the holy Church, believe it. Yes; Jesus Christ is in the host, as he was in the Virgin’s womb, ... but small ... as small as an ant. It is a matter that admits of no further discussion.’

Whereupon the Dominican, satisfied that he had gained a signal victory, indulged in the impetuosity of his clerical haughtiness, and, pouring out a torrent of insults, exclaimed: ‘Where are those wretched Lutherans who preach to the contrary? Where are these heretics, these rascals, these worse than Jews, Turks and heathens?... Where are these fine chimney-preachers? Let them come forward, and they shall be answered.... Ha! ha! They will take good care not to show themselves, except at the chimney-corner, for they are only brave in deceiving poor women and such as know nothing.’[425]

Having spoken thus, the monk sat down, proud of his eloquence. A great agitation prevailed in the congregations; the reformers were challenged to the combat; the people wondered whether they would reply to the challenge. 204There was a momentary pause, when Froment rose, and standing in the middle of the church, motioned them with his hand to be silent. ‘For the love of God,’ he said, ‘listen to what I have to tell you!’ The congregation turned their eyes on the person who uttered these words, and the evangelist, with sonorous voice, exclaimed: ‘Sirs, I offer my life—yea, I am ready to go the stake if I do not show, by Holy Scripture, that what Dr. Furbity has just said is false, and the language of Antichrist.’ He then adduced scriptural authorities against the Dominican’s assertions. ‘It is the truth,’ exclaimed the reformers; and some of them looking towards the monk, called out: ‘Let him answer that.’ Furbity, astonished at hearing himself refuted by such plain passages, dared not rise, but remained fixed to his seat, hiding his head in the pulpit. ‘Let him answer,’ shouted the huguenots on all sides: their shouts were useless.

Tumult In The Church.

The canons and their friends, finding their oracle was dumb, ventured upon a controversy which was much more in their line. They drew their swords (priests often wore swords in those times), and approaching Froment, exclaimed: ‘Kill him—kill the Lutheran!... Ah! the wretch! he has dared take our good father to task.’ Nothing but death could expiate the crime of a layman who had ventured to contradict a priest. There was only one point on which these churchmen were not agreed: it was whether they should burn or drown the evangelist. Some shouted: ‘Burn him—burn him!’ and others: ‘To the Rhone with him!’—‘There was no small commotion,’ writes Froment. Just as the priests were about to carry him off, Baudichon de la Maisonneuve, Ami Perrin, Janin le Collonier, and others rallied round him like a body-guard, wishing to get him out of the church. This did not calm the tumult; the people ran after him, and the magistrates would have arrested him. ‘They crowded upon one another,’ says Froment, ‘either to see him, or to strike him, or to carry him off.’ The tumultuous crowd made a last effort to lay 205hold of the evangelist, just as they reached the great doors of the cathedral. Baudichon de la Maisonneuve observing this, halted, drew his sword, and, facing the rioters, cried in a loud voice: ‘I will kill the first man that touches him. Let the law prevail; and if any one has done wrong, let him be punished.’ The catholics, intimidated by Maisonneuve’s look, shrank back; and Froment’s friends, taking advantage of this favorable moment, dragged him away from his enemies. Then, ‘the women, as if they were mad, rushed after him with great fury, throwing many stones at him.’[426] The huguenot Perrin, more politic than evangelical, alarmed at the tumult, said to Froment: ‘We have spoilt the business; it was going on very well, and now all is lost.’ The other (by which words Froment indicates himself), sure of his cause, answered simply: ‘All is won!’ The future showed that he was right. When Froment arrived at Baudichon’s house,—the usual asylum of the friends of the Gospel,—Le Collonier took him up to the hayloft and carefully hid him under the hay. De la Maisonneuve and Janin had afterwards to pay dearly for their kind offices. The latter had scarcely quitted the loft when Claude Baud arrived with his officers and his halberds. ‘They searched the house all over, and even thrust their spears into the hay, but finding nobody they withdrew.’[427]

Alexander, who had not spoken in the church, had accompanied his friend as far as the great doors. Seeing Froment led away by Janin, and believing him safe, he halted ‘at the top of the steps in the midst of the people,’ and, not permitting himself to be intimidated by the popular fury, he exclaimed: ‘He very properly took him to task. Doctor Furbity has preached against the holy books; he is a false prophet.’ The syndics, pleased to catch one at least, carried Alexander off to the town-hall, and some demanded 206that he should be sentenced to death. The sage Balthasar resisted this: ‘It was not this man who caused the uproar,’ he said. ‘Besides, he is a Frenchman; and the King of France may perhaps take some opportunity against our city if we put his subjects to death.’ The two ‘Mahometists’ were banished for life from the city, under pain of death; and, at the same time, it was agreed that the Advent preachers should be told ‘to preach the Gospel only, in order to avoid disturbance.’

Alexander was conducted by the watch out of the city to a place called La Monnaye, where, seeing the crowd following him, he turned towards them and said: ‘I shall not take my rest like a soldier whose time of service is over.’ He then addressed the crowd for two hours, and many were won to the Gospel. De la Maisonneuve having returned home, went in search of Froment in the hayloft; and as soon as it was night, the two friends quitted Geneva secretly, took up Alexander at La Monnaye, and then all three set off for Berne.

(December 1533 to January 1534.)

Furbity Visited By The Catholics.

De la Maisonneuve was determined to uphold the liberty of Gospel-preaching. ‘We are called Lutherans,’ said Froment; ‘now, Luther in German means clear, and there is nothing clearer than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lutheran cause is the cause of light.’ And therefore De la Maisonneuve desired to propagate it.

The zealous huguenot did not lose a moment after his 207arrival at Berne. He told all his friends (of whom he had many) what was going on at Geneva. Froment and Alexander, who stood by his side, supported his complaints and repeated the insults of the Dominican. The Bernese were exasperated by the abuse the monk had heaped upon the protestants, but they were animated by a nobler motive. They had thought that Geneva, so famous for the energetic character of its citizens, would be a great gain for the Reformation; and now people were beginning to say in Savoy, in the Pays de Vaud, at Freiburg, and in France, that the reforming movement was crushed in the huguenot city. ‘A great rumor,’ says Farel, ‘spread everywhere touching Geneva, how that Master Furbity had triumphed in his disputations with the Lutherans.’[428] The Bernese resolved to assist the threatened Reform by despatching to Geneva ... not large battalions, but a humble preacher of the Gospel. They sent William Farel as Maisonneuve’s companion.

On Sunday, December 21, the feast of St. Thomas of Canterbury, Furbity, proud at having to eulogize so heroic a saint, was more energetic than ever. ‘All who follow that cursed sect,’ he cried, ‘are lewd and gluttonous livers, wanton, ambitious, murderers, and thieves, who live like beasts, loving their own sensuality, acknowledging neither a God nor a superior.’ These words raised the enthusiasm of the catholics, the chief of whom resolved to go in a body to the bishop’s palace to thank the reverend father. The noble Perceval de Pesmes, capitaine des bons, ‘the captain of the good,’ as the nuns called him, was at their head. ‘Most reverend father,’ said the descendant of the Crusaders, ‘we thank you for preaching such good doctrine, and beg you will fear nothing.’—‘Hold fast to the sword, captain; on my side I will use the spirit and the tongue.’ The compact being made, the deputation withdrew.

208They had scarcely quitted the episcopal palace, when a strange report circulated through the town. ‘De la Maisonneuve has returned from Berne and brought the notorious William Farel with him!’ Farel having re-entered Geneva, was not to leave it again until the work of the Reformation was completed there. ‘What!’ exclaimed the catholics, ‘that wretch, that devil whom we drove out is come back!’ They were so exasperated that De Pesmes, Malbuisson, and others, meeting Farel and Maisonneuve in the street that very day, drew their swords and fell upon them; they were rescued by some huguenots. The episcopalians consulted together, and decided to take up arms to expel the reformer.

Farel And Baudichon.

Not without reason were the catholics alarmed. Farel was a hero. A work that is beginning requires one of those strong men who, by the energy of their will, surmount all obstacles, and set in motion all the forces of their epoch to carry out the plan they have conceived. Calvin and Luther are the great men of the Reformation in the sixteenth century. Calvin defended it against dangerous enemies; he gave to the renovated Church a body of divinity and a simple powerful constitution. The scriptural faith which he has set forth is making, and will make, the circuit of the world. But when he arrived at Geneva, the Reform was already accomplished outwardly. Farel is really the reformer of that city as well as of other places in Switzerland and France. A noble and simple evangelist, his genius was less great, his name less illustrious than his successor’s; but he ceased not to expose his life in fierce combats for the Saviour, and, in the order of grace, he was in that beautiful country enclosed between the Alps and the Jura what fire is in the order of nature—the most powerful of God’s agents. He was not, as is sometimes imagined, a hot-headed man, liable to fits of violence and temper. With energy he combined prudence—with zeal, impartiality. ‘Would to God,’ he said, on the occasion of his discussion with Furbity, ‘that each man would state each thing without leaning to 209one side more than to the other.’[429] But it must be acknowledged that he had more force than circumspection, and an unparalleled activity was the principal feature of his character. To venture everywhere, to act in all circumstances, to preach in every place, to brave every danger, were his enjoyment and his life. His excessive genius ‘delighted in adventure,’ as was said of a celebrated conqueror, and he was never so truly happy as when he was in the field. Farel began the work, and Calvin completed it.

Another man, a layman, was called to play a part not less important in the Genevan Reformation. It has been remarked[430] that in the great revolutions of nations, God sometimes gives not a counsellor to be listened to, but a torrent to be followed. There was indeed in Geneva a mighty torrent rushing towards Reform, and the man who personified that popular force was Baudichon de la Maisonneuve. Noble in heart as in race, at first he had been merely an independent politician and an opponent of the papacy; but, opening his house and his heart to the Gospel, he came to love it more and more every day. Certainly he did not possess all the evangelical graces; he was somewhat of a jester, and might often be found laughing at the superstitions of his times. Occasionally, also, he was violent in his acts and words. But the republican energy that characterized him made him the fittest man to cope with Rome, the Duke, and the Inquisition. Strong, proud, immovable, he was on a small stage, what the Elector of Saxony and the Landgrave of Hesse were on a larger stage, the patron of evangelical doctrine. Although of noble descent, he was in trade, and had an extensive business. Rich and generous, he provided for the wants of the new creed. The magistrates of the cities with which he had dealings showed him much consideration; and not only did the puissant republic of Berne intercede in his favor, but 210King Francis I. also. De la Maisonneuve had no doubts about the triumph of the Reformation. One day, as a Lausanne dealer was buying one of his horses, the confident Genevan said to him: ‘You shall pay me when no more masses are celebrated at Lausanne.’ Two or three months later, when settling his accounts at Lyons, he said to one of his correspondents: ‘You shall pay me when the priests in this city are what those in Berne are now.’ This made the bigoted catholics exclaim: ‘He is the cause of the perversion of Geneva. Would to God he had died ten years ago!’[431] De la Maisonneuve had much affinity with Berthelier: the latter began the independence of the city, the former introduced the reform. They were both pioneers; but if Berthelier’s death was the most heroic, Baudichon’s life was the most exemplary.

De la Maisonneuve was able, in case of necessity, to unite prudence with energy. On the 21st December, the Dominican having preached with great éclat in the cathedral, some of the reformed said, boldly: ‘Why should not our minister (Farel) preach in the church as well as a popish doctor?’ and invited the reformers to enter the building. The indignant catholics exclaimed: ‘It shall cost us our lives sooner!’ De la Maisonneuve calmed his friends; he wished to try legal means, and ask the magistrates for a church.

The Plot Breaks Out.

The next day he appeared before the council, and handed in the letter from the chiefs of the mighty Bernese republic. ‘What!’ they said, ‘you expel from your city our servants, people attached to the Holy Word, whom we commended to you, and at the same time you tolerate men who blaspheme against God. Your preacher has attacked us; we shall prosecute him, and call upon you to arrest him. Moreover, we ask for a place in which Farel may preach the Gospel publicly.’ The larger portion of the council was astounded at these two requests. They were about to deliberate on 211them when a commotion was heard in the street. A plot had broken out.

It was near midday. Between eight and nine hundred priests and laymen were going to the bishop’s palace, where they had appointed a meeting. In the palace everything was astir; the cellars were open, and the servants were running about with bottles in their hands. ‘They supplied wine in profusion, and every man promised to do his duty. They were respectable-looking people and well dressed.’ Two hundred men were to stop at St. Pierre’s to attack the heretics in the rear. All the others were to go down to the Molard, ‘burning for the cause of God,’ and attack Baudichon’s house, where Farel was to be found.[432]

De la Maisonneuve, understanding what was going on, hastily quitted the council-chamber, and ran to defend his home.[433] His first care was to hide Farel as well as he could, and then, while preparations were making to storm his house, he took steps for its defence. But the council, learning what was going on, left the hôtel de ville, and ordered the bishop’s partisans to lay down their arms. It seemed strange to do so, after so many protestations and so much zeal; yet they obeyed. ‘The wicked build triumphs in the air,’ said the huguenots, ‘and all these reports ended in smoke at last.’[434]

Farel left his hiding-place and resumed his preachings in the houses; but his audience had a singular appearance. In front of the minister might be seen the proud features of the huguenots, with helmets on their heads, swords by their sides, and some were armed with cuirass, arquebuse, or halberd; for, since the last catholic resort to arms, they 212feared a surprise. Baudichon watched over the assembly. Wearing an allécret (a sort of light breastplate), and holding a staff in his hand, he ‘set the people in order,’ assigning them their places, and whenever he chanced to hear any conversation, ‘bidding them be silent;’ then Farel would begin to speak and preach the Gospel with boldness.[435]

The syndics, placed between the reformers and the catholics, could not tell what to do. If they arrested Furbity, they would exasperate the catholics and Savoyards; if they allowed him to continue his philippics against the reformed, they would offend the huguenots and the Bernese. The Two Hundred therefore resolved to leave the Dominican ostensibly at large, at the same time treating him in reality as a prisoner. He might go where he pleased, but attended by six guards, who followed him even to the foot of the pulpit. ‘Alas!’ exclaimed his friends, ‘they have placed the reverend father in the keeping of the watch!’ On hearing which the monk observed, haughtily: ‘I am under restraint on account of a set of people who are good for nothing.’

Christmas day arrived: the Dominican had ‘a very numerous audience, particularly of women.’ Incense smoked on the altars; the chants resounded in the choir; the faithful had never shown so much fervor, and the monk preached with such warmth that, ‘within the memory of man, there had never been so fine a service.’[436] At the same time, Farel, plainly dressed, was preaching in a large room. There was no incense, no tapers, no chanting, but the words of God which stirred men’s consciences. This irritated Furbity still more, and on the last day of the year he exclaimed from the pulpit: ‘All who follow the new law are heretics 213and the most worthless of men.’[437] Thus ended the year 1533.

Furbity Takes Leave.

The new year was to make the balance incline to the side of the Reformation; accordingly the clergy, as if terrified at the future, resolved to destroy the tree by the roots, and inaugurated the first day of the year 1534 by an extraordinary proclamation. ‘In the name of Monseigneur of Geneva and of his vicar,’ said the priests from all the pulpits, ‘it is ordered that no one shall preach the Word of God, either in public or in private, and that all the books of Holy Scripture, whether in French or in German, shall be burnt.’[438] The reformed, who were present in great numbers in the church, were staggered at the new-year’s gift which the bishop presented to his people. The Dominican, who was preaching that day for the last time, outdid the proclamation, and bade farewell of his audience in a paltry epigram:—

Je veux vous donner mes étrennes,
Dieu convertisse les luthériens!
S’ils ne se retournent à bien,
Qu’il leur donne fièvres quartaines!
Qui veut si, prennent ses mitaines![439]

Notwithstanding his invocation of the quartan ague, the catholics said, with tears in their eyes, ‘With what devotion he takes leave of us!’ All, however, had not been equally touched: just as the monk was preparing to depart, his guards stopped him, for he had forgotten that he was a prisoner.

Meanwhile the episcopal mandate was causing disturbance 214in the city. ‘Forbid the preaching of the Gospel,’ said some; ‘burn the holy books! What a horrible notion! The Mahometans never did anything like it with regard to the Koran, or the Ghebers with the books of Zoroaster. Those who are charged to preach the Word of God are the very men to condemn it to the flames!’ Thus catholics and evangelicals took up arms—the former to destroy the Bible, the others to defend it.

They remained under arms not only during the night of the first of January, but also during the second, the third, and a part of the fourth, bivouacking in the squares, and kindling great fires. The citizens of Geneva had often taken up arms from other motives. If any one had now gone to the catholics and asked them: ‘Why are you doing this?’ they would have answered: ‘Because we desire to drive out the Bible:’ and if the same question had been put to the reformed, they would have answered: ‘Because we desire to keep it.’ These poor folks had often nothing to eat or drink; and when any party sent to a house to procure provisions, the other party often seized the spoil. They were obliged to give the purveyors a strong escort.[440]

It was a strange sight, no doubt, to see a town filled with armed men because of the Word of peace. It was in this way that great emotions displayed themselves at that epoch, and it would be ridiculous to exhibit the men of the sixteenth century with the manners of the nineteenth. The evangelical Christians believed that, if the Bible were taken from them, Jesus would also be lost to them; it seemed that if there were no more Scripture, there would be no more Christ, no more salvation. The political huguenots, not troubling themselves about that matter, thought that the Bible was the best means of getting rid of the bishop. Consequently all alike passed the days and nights under arms around the watchfires, being unwilling to have the Scriptures taken away from them. The reformed, desiring to appear pacific, thought it their duty to yield a little, and 215prevailed upon Alexander to withdraw, as he had been lawfully banished. He turned his steps in the direction of France, where he soon after found a martyr’s death. But the evangelical cause in Geneva lost nothing, for, as Alexander left on one side, Froment returned on the other; and almost at the same moment an embassy from Berne, headed by Sebastian of Diesbach, appeared at the city gates. These worthy deputies, seeing what was going on,—the bivouacks, the soldiers, the spears, and arquebuses,—stopped their horses, examined the groups with an air of astonishment, asked what it all meant, and finally exhorted the rival parties to withdraw. The Genevese began to understand the strangeness of their position: the huguenots felt that it was a different power from that of their arquebuses which should defend the Bible; the men of both parties, therefore, yielded to the wise remonstrances of the Bernese, and every man retired to his own house.[441]

Three Reformers In Geneva.

Diesbach and his colleagues came with the intent of prosecuting the Dominican; but while shutting the door against the monk, they desired to throw it wide open to the Reformation. Farel had been at Geneva some time; Froment had just arrived; but that was not all. A man of modest appearance, who formed part of the Bernese retinue, was to be more formidable to Roman-catholicism than the illustrious ambassadors themselves. They had with them the young and gentle Viret. Weak and faint, he was still suffering from a wound inflicted by a priest of Payerne, but the deputies of Berne had insisted on his accompanying them. Thus Farel, Viret, and Froment—three men of lively faith and indefatigable zeal—were going to work together in Geneva. Everything seemed to indicate that the reformed bands of Switzerland were unmasking their batteries and preparing to dismantle those of the pope. They were about to open a sharp fire, which would beat down the thick walls that for so long had sheltered the oracles and exactions of the papacy.

216Viret immediately asked after his friends Farel and Froment, who had been forced to hide themselves during the armed crisis; some huguenots went in search of them and brought them to the Tête-noire, where the embassy was quartered. ‘You shall stay with us,’ said the Bernese; ‘we will protect your liberty, and you shall announce the Gospel.’ The three reformers immediately began to preach in private houses,[442] proclaiming the authority and the doctrines of those Holy Scriptures which the clergy had condemned. What a strange contradiction! The bishop had just interdicted the Bible, and the three most powerful preachers in the French tongue were now publicly teaching its divine lessons.... So many and such good workmen had never before been seen in Geneva. ‘And the papists dared do nothing against them.’[443]

But the Bernese wanted more: ‘You protect that Dominican who slanders our good reputation,’ they said to the council; ‘you despise our mode of living, you condemn the holy Gospel of God, you maltreat those who desire to understand it, and banish those who preach it: is that conducting yourselves in conformity with the treaty of alliance? Let the monk defend what he has taught: we have brought preachers who will show him the falseness of his doctrine. If you refuse these requests, Berne will find other means of vindicating her honor.’ The syndics replied to the Bernese: ‘It is not our business to know what concerns priests; apply to the prince-bishop.’—‘That is a mere evasion,’ answered Berne. ‘We give you back our letters of alliance.’ At these words the premier syndic, becoming alarmed, offered to let the Dominican appear before them. The Bernese accepted, but ‘on condition that the monk should be obliged to answer the ministers before all the people.’[444] That was the essential point.


(January to February 1534.)

The Three Reformers.

The 9th of January was an important date in the history of the Reformation of Geneva, and perhaps (we might add) in that of Europe. The laity were about to resume their rights: a priest was to appear before the Genevese laymen and the Bernese magistrates. As soon as the Council of Two Hundred had assembled, the ambassadors entered, followed by three persons who attracted the special attention of all present. The eyes full of fire, the bold bravery, the indomitable features of one of them marked him to be Farel. The second, less known, had, although young, the prudence of a man in years and the sweetness of a St. John; this was Viret. The third, short in stature and of mean appearance, decided in his gait, lively, and talkative; this was Froment. They all took their seats at the right of the premier syndic. The friar of the order of St. Dominic, entering in his turn, sat on the left on a raised bench. They had met to attack and defend the papacy. The tournament, at which a great crowd of gentlemen and citizens was present, resembled one of those ‘solemn judgments’ to which man had had recourse for ages to terminate certain controversies. The subject of the dispute was more important than usual. Truth and tradition, the middle ages and modern times, independence and slavery, were in the balance. All, therefore, who were interested in divine and human things, waited with impatience. Their expectations were disappointed.

Just as the struggle was about to begin, one of the combatants hung back. The Dominican rose and said: ‘Messieurs, I am a monk and doctor of Paris; I cannot appear 218before laymen without the license of my prelate.’ He sat down. ‘You offered before all the people,’ said Sebastian of Diesbach, ‘to defend your position by the Holy Scriptures, and now you want a licence.’ Farel rose and observed, that the monk and the great apostle were of contrary opinions; ‘St. Paul refused, in such a case, to appear before the priests at Jerusalem, and appealed to Cæsar. Now Cæsar was certainly a layman, and what is more—a heathen.’ The monk forbore to reply to this invincible argument; but looking with pity on the individual who had dared speak to him, said, with a gesture of contempt, ‘that he had nothing to do with that man.’ Then, remembering how the strappado and the stake brought such cavillers to their senses in Paris, he added: ‘Let him go and speak like that in France!’ ‘Good father,’ said the premier syndic, ‘since you will not answer when our lords of Berne accuse you, leave that place and sit on the bench yonder, where you shall hear the rest.’ The monk of St. Dominic had to quit his place of honor and go to the bar; but notwithstanding this humiliation, he again refused to speak. The syndics then sent to ask the grand-vicar to give him leave to answer; but this dignitary replied: ‘I am ill.’ The deputies made the same request to the official, M. de Veigy, who answered: ‘The bishop has forbidden me to do so.’ ‘Shameful!’ exclaimed many; ‘all these priests refuse to give an account of their faith.’ The Dominican said to the council: ‘Let my lords the ambassadors select as judges two doctors from Germany; and we will select two from Paris; then I will reply not only to Farel, Viret, and Froment, but to a hundred or two hundred of such preachers.... Alone I will meet them all!’ The Bernese declared they would trust the matter to those only who were lawfully authorized. They wanted more. The refusal of the Dominican served but to increase their desire to see the Reformation freely preached in Geneva. Not contenting themselves with a theological discussion, they said to the syndics: ‘The way to pacify the city and to be just towards all, is to pick 219out one of the parish churches and appoint a preacher of the Gospel to it. Those who wish to go to the sermon, will go to the sermon; those who wish to go to mass, will go to mass; every man is to remain free in his conscience; no one shall be constrained, and all will be satisfied.’ ‘We are only laymen,’ answered the astonished syndics; ‘it is not our business to choose preachers and assign them churches.’ The council sent a deputation to Berne to soften the rigor of the chiefs of the state; but it was useless. The greater the suppleness (to use the language of a manuscript) shown by the Genevans, the greater the inflexibility displayed by the Bernese. It was a struggle between the pliant and the rigid; and the pliant, as usual, were compelled to give way.[445]

Reparation Demanded.

The Bernese ambassadors pursued their plans with vigor, and demanded reparation for the insults of the Dominican, and a church for the preachers of the Gospel. ‘If you refuse,’ added Diesbach, ‘we shall return you the seals of our alliance; we shall take back ours; we shall prosecute the monk ... and whomsoever we think fit.’ The Two Hundred were astounded, involuntary tears escaped from the eyes of some, and even the people outside were much disturbed (says the Council minute). Joining deeds to words, Sebastian of Diesbach placed the letters of alliance on the table. The whole assembly immediately rose up with indescribable emotion, and with tears begged the ambassadors to take back their letters. ‘We will do our best to satisfy you!’ exclaimed the premier-syndic, stout catholic as he was. The stern Bernese noble was touched. ‘We take them back,’ he said at last; ‘but we protest that we shall return them if you do not satisfy our demands.’[446] Everything was then prepared for the trial. Geneva undertook to bear the axe into the wilderness of church 220abuses: a priest, accused by laymen, was about to be tried by laymen. This in itself was a revolution.

The Monk On His Trial.

On the 27th January, the Two Hundred sitting as a court of justice, Furbity was brought before them. He had taken courage; his erect head and confident look showed that he believed himself sure of victory. He called upon the Bernese to set forth their grievances, but protested against the inquiry on account of the sacerdotal character with which he was invested. Then the following colloquy took place:—

Ambassador.—You preached publicly that four kinds of executioners divided the robe of our Saviour Jesus Christ at the foot of the cross, and that the first were Germans. That word concerns us.

Monk.—I never used such words; and I do not know to what country the executioners belonged.

Ambas.—We will prove this charge presently. You said that those who eat meat on Friday and Saturday are worse than Jews, Turks, and mad dogs.

Monk.—I did not mean thereby to offend their Excellencies of Berne; I was preaching only to the people of this city.

Ambas.—You said that all who read the Holy Scriptures in the vulgar tongue are no better than lewd livers, gluttons, drunkards, blasphemers, murderers, and robbers.

Monk.—I affirm that I have not abused my lords of Berne.

Ambas.—You spoke in a general manner, and consequently included them in your accusation.

Monk.—I was speaking to the Genevese only.

Ambas.—You said: ‘Avoid these wicked modern heretics, these Germans, as you would lepers and unclean persons. Do not let them marry your daughters, you had better give them to the dogs.’

Monk.—I deny having preached that article.

Ambas.—You said: ‘That the modern heretics, who will not obey the pope or the cardinals, bishops, and curates, are on that account the devil’s flock and worse than mad dogs ... and ought to be hanged on the gallows.’

221Monk.—That is an article of faith, and I have not to answer for it before you.

Premier-Syndic.—You are commanded to answer.

Monk.—I shall not answer.

Premier-Syndic.—The charge is confessed.

Ambas.—‘Most honored lords, we belong to those who read Scripture in the vulgar tongue. We belong to those who hold our Lord as sole head of the Church, as its everlasting and sovereign pastor; and, moreover, we are Germans; and for this reason we believe the said articles have been uttered against us. If we were what these articles say, we should deserve corporal punishment; and therefore we demand, in terms of the lex talionis, that the said preacher be visited with a punishment similar to that which we should have incurred.’

The reasoning of the ambassador was not irrefutable. Envoys from Zurich, Basle, and other Evangelical cantons, even from the landgrave of Hesse or the elector of Saxony might just as well accuse the monk of having insulted them. But it is precisely this which explains the conduct of the Bernese deputies. Protestantism had been abused, its fundamental principles trampled under foot. The Bernese did not prosecute the monk in order to avenge a personal affront; what they wanted was to see the Word of God set in the place of the word of the pope, and the Reformation established in Geneva. The Gospel was on trial and not my lords of Berne; but the latter considered themselves the champions of the Reformation in Switzerland, and when enemies attacked it, they thought it their duty to defend it. To have kept out of the lists would have been disobedience to the supreme judge of the combat. The ambassadors brought up fourteen witnesses ready to swear that the monk had said what was ascribed to him.[447]

Furbity seeing no other means of escape, determined to fight for Rome. On Thursday, 29th January, a rumor 222spread through the city that the monk would hold a discussion with the reformers. The Two Hundred, and a certain number of other citizens, met in the Hotel de Ville to be present at this important struggle.

One of the tourneys of the Reformation at Geneva was about to begin; the two combatants were in the lists. On one side the Dominican, the champion of Rome, came forward with scholastic learning that was not to be despised, a front of adamant, lungs strong enough to reduce all his rivals to silence, and a tongue furnished with an inexhaustible flow of words.[448] At once violent and skilful, he made use of every weapon, and possessed a particular art of glozing over his errors and rendering them less apparent.[449] On the other side was Farel, less experienced than his rival in the tricks of dialectics, but full of love for the truth, firm as a warrior advancing to defend it, and ready to confound the monk’s scholastic arguments by the invincible demonstrations of the Scriptures of God. Possessing a manly eloquence and sonorous voice, his clear, energetic, and at times ironical language, did prompt justice upon the sophisms of his adversaries[450].

The reformer rose first and said: ‘This is a serious business; let us therefore speak with all mildness. Let not one strive to get the better of the other. We can have no nobler triumph than to see the truth prevail. So that it be acknowledged by all, I willingly consent to forfeit my life.’ Touched by his words, the assembly exclaimed: ‘Yes, yes! that is what we desire.’

Furbity began by asserting the authority of the pope. He maintained that the heads of the Church may ordain things that are not in Scripture, and to prove it, he quoted Deuteronomy: ‘If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, thou shalt come unto the priests, and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee.’[451]

223Farel, on the contrary, maintained the authority of the Holy Scriptures, and declared that all doctrine must be founded on them alone. He called to mind that God, in this very book of Moses, had said: ‘Ye shall not add unto the Word which I command you, neither shall you diminish aught from it.’[452] ‘What is said of the Levitical priest in the Old Testament (he added) ought to be applied, not to the Romish priests, but to Jesus Christ, who is the everlasting high-priest. To him, therefore, we must go, him we must obey, and not the priest.’[453] ‘Christ,’ exclaimed Furbity, ‘gave to St. Peter the key of the kingdom of heaven, and St. Peter transmitted it to the priests, his successors.’ ‘The key of the heavenly kingdom,’ answered Farel, ‘is the Word of God. If any one believes in the promises of grace with all his heart, heaven opens for him. If any one rejects them, heaven is closed against him.’

As it was growing late, the discussion was adjourned to the next day, and Furbity said haughtily that he was ready. A voice from the midst of the crowd called out: ‘Endeavor to hold more to the Word of God and less to the teaching of the Sorbonne.’ ‘I shall behave like a man,’ he answered. ‘If the strength of a man consists in his want of sense, then you are a true man,’ rudely returned the speaker.

The next day the discussion entered upon a new phase.

Interpretation By The Councils.

Farel maintained throughout the right and duty of the Christian people to read the Scriptures, to understand them, and to submit to them alone. Furbity, on the contrary, asserted that the Scriptures should be read by the clergy only, and understood conformably with the interpretation of the councils. He proved his point by reasons which might have some force in the eyes of his friends, but they had none for Farel, who maintained the necessity of the immediate contact of each Christian soul with the Scriptures of God. It 224was not from councils (he contended) nor from popes, but from the Word of God itself that every Christian must receive by faith the truth which saves. The first assembly at Jerusalem (ordinarily termed the first council), was it not, according to the account in the Acts, composed of apostles, elders, and of the whole church, and did it not begin its letter with: ‘The apostles and elders and brethren’? Defending, therefore, the rights of the lay members of the flock, he declaimed energetically against the institution of all those dignitaries who, in the Romish Church, are lords over God’s heritage: ‘You invent all sorts of things,’ he said to the Dominican,[454] ‘you introduce diversities of orders, a countless number of eminences, bishops, prelates, archbishops, primates, cardinals, popes, and other superiorities of which Scripture makes no mention. You do everything to your own fancy, without any regard to God or the right. The apostles took counsel with the whole assembly of the believers, but you ... you do everything, you are everything! ... you cut and shape as you please. The Christian people are no more called by you into council than dogs and brutes. Your ordinances must be adored, and those of God be trodden under foot. Your papal monarchy surpasses all others in pride, pomp, and feasting. You want those who are to teach the people to be princes with lordships, estates, law-courts, and governments. You want to have a rich triumphant Jesus, who shall put to death all who contradict him.... Ah! sirs, the Saviour was not such here below: he was poor, humble, put to death, and his disciples were banished, imprisoned, stoned, and killed.... What similarity is there between the Apostolic Church and yours?... The supreme argument in yours is the executioner.... The apostles did not, like you, fulminate fierce excommunications; they did not, like you, imprison and condemn.... No! Jesus is not in the midst of you. He is in the midst of those who are expelled, beaten, burnt for the Gospel, as the martyrs were in the time of the primitive Church.’

Farel’s Thunders.

225The reformer’s energetic words sounded like a peal of thunder to his antagonist. Furbity was confounded and bewildered; his ideas became confused; he lost his presence of mind, and, wishing to establish the doctrine of the episcopate as it is understood at Rome, he quoted the verse in which it is said that a bishop ought to be the husband of one wife, which greatly amused the assembly. He did more: desiring to prove that there had been bishops of the Roman model in the apostolic times, he mentioned Judas Iscariot. ‘It is written of Judas,’ he said, ‘his bishopric let another take: Episcopatum suum accipiat alter. As Judas had a bishopric, he must of necessity have been a bishop;’ and he concluded there was no salvation out of the Roman episcopate. The doctor had not kept his promise to behave like a man. Farel smiled at the strange argument, and began to lash the Dominican with the scourge of irony. ‘As you have quoted that good bishop, Judas,’ he said, ‘Judas, who sold the Saviour of the world; as you have asserted that he had a diocese, pray tell me in what part of the Roman empire it lay, and how much it was worth, according to the customary language of Rome. That bishop, whose name you use, is very like certain prelates who, instead of preaching the Word of God, carry the bag,[455] and instead of glorifying Jesus Christ, sell him by selling his members, whose souls they hand over to the devil, receiving money from him in exchange.’[456]

The monk, astonished at such boldness, again exclaimed in a threatening manner: ‘Go and repeat what you say at Paris, or any other city of France.’ So sure was he that the evangelist would be sent to the stake there that he could not refrain from repeating such a peremptory argument. It was all that Farel would have desired: ‘Would to God that I were allowed to explain my faith publicly,’ he said; ‘I should prove it by Holy Scripture, and if I did not, I would consent to be put to death.’

226As the discussion went on, the feelings grew inflamed on both sides—some defending Furbity, others supporting Farel.

No one was more assiduous at this verbal tournament than Baudichon de la Maisonneuve; he accompanied the evangelical champion, both as he went to the meeting and returned from it, being unwilling to leave to others the care of protecting his person. The catholics did not fail to notice the constant goings and comings of the great citizen; it quite shocked them: his intimacy with the detested heretic seemed to them most disgraceful. A young man of five-and-twenty, named Delorme, who was born at Fontenay, a league and a half from the city, and who for upwards of a year had been following his business with a relative in Geneva, specially watched Baudichon, and was surprised to see so great a gentleman pay such frequent visits to the poor preacher, Farel.[457] He made a note of it, which, on a future day he made use of.

The disputation went on all through Friday. The market on Saturday, the services on Sunday, and the Feast of the Purification which fell on Monday, interrupted it for three days. The three ministers took advantage of the leisure given them to preach to the people with fervor. Each day they proclaimed the Gospel in the large hall of their friend’s house, and Baudichon watched to see that everything went on in an orderly manner—which was very necessary, for the sensation excited by the discussion attracted large crowds. In the evening the evangelicals met in different houses and conversed together until far into the night. During the daytime they endeavored to attract to their assemblies such as still hesitated between popery and the Reformation. ‘Ah,’ exclaimed young Delorme with vexation, ‘see what efforts they are making to increase their party.’[458] All Geneva was in a ferment.

Tales About Farel.

But the sensation was not confined to that city: the anger 227excited by the discussions manifested itself in violent speeches in the surrounding districts. The idle, the curious, and the devout would stop and question travellers ‘to learn the great news from Geneva which they so desired to know.’[459] Many priests and monks preached in the villages round the city against heretics and heresy; and in Geneva, as well as in other places through which Farel had passed, there was always some friar or old woman to tell strange stories about the reformer. ‘He has no whites to his eyes,’ they would say; ‘his beard is red and stiff, and there is a devil in every hair of it. He has horns on his head, and his feet are cloven like a bullock’s.... Lastly—and this seemed more horrible than all the rest—he is the son of a Jew of Carpentras.’[460]

All these stories, flying about the city, reached the Tête-Noire inn, where the Bernese and the three reformers lodged. The domestic life of this hostelry was not edifying. The landlord (according to the chronicle) had two wives: his lawful spouse and a servant who acted as the mistress. The former, an upright person, behaved becomingly to the preachers of the Gospel, though she did not like them; but the other woman detested them, and every time they entered the house, both master and servant scowled at them. They restrained themselves however before the illustrious lords of Berne, greeting them with forced smiles; but made up for it when they were alone with the preachers. The latter usually dined together; and the landlord and servant, while waiting on them, heard language from the lips of the evangelists which greatly provoked them. Instead of the idle stories and jests so common at the dinner-table, the three ministers would exchange words of truth with one another; and this conversation, so new to the two listeners, caused 228them to make wry faces (as Froment records, who saw them). The three guests had scarcely quitted the room when the servant, who had restrained herself, would cry out after them: ‘Heretics! traitors! brigands! huguenots! Germans!’ ... ‘I had rather,’ said the landlord, ‘that they went away without paying (that was saying a great deal), provided it was a long way off ... so long that we should never see them again.’ These two wretched people felt that the doctrine of the Bible condemned their disorderly lives, and the hatred they felt towards the holiness of God’s Word was vented on those who proclaimed it.

‘The adulterous servant, unable to serve the preachers as Herodias served John the Baptist,’ says Froment, ‘avenged herself in another manner.’ Addressing one of those women who prate at random about everything: ‘Only imagine what I have seen,’ said she; ‘one night as the preachers were going to bed, I stole up softly after them, and, approaching the door, I peeped through a hole.... What did I see? They were feeding devils!’ The neighbor’s dismay did not hinder the servant from continuing: ‘These devils were like black cats ... their eyes flashed fire, their claws were crooked and pointed ... they were under the table ... moving backwards and forwards.... Yes; I saw them through the hole.’ In a short time all the gossips of the quarter knew it; ‘at which there was a great stir in the neighborhood.’[461]

To this story of the servant, the priests added theirs, and said: ‘There are three devils in Geneva in the form of men—Farel, Viret, Froment; and many demoniacs. If ever you listen to those three goblins, they will spring upon you, enter into your body, and you are done for.’[462] Not satisfied merely with repeating such absurdities in their conversation, the priests began to preach to the people upon ‘the three devils.’ Next a song was written on them; and 229ere long the catholic mob went up and down the streets singing these rude rhymes:—

Farel farera,
Viret virera,
Froment on moudra,
Dieu nous aidera
Et le diable les emportera.[463]

The popular epigram was mistaken. At the very moment when the catholics were singing it about the city, tragic events were coming that were to change everything in Geneva. It was the Roman Church that was about to veer and popery to depart.

(January and February 1534.)

Christendom In Sixteenth Century.

In the sixteenth century a consciousness of justice, truth, and liberty was awakening throughout Christendom, and men were beginning to protest everywhere, particularly in Geneva, at the lamentable perversions of social and religious life imposed by popery in times gone by. But the expiring Middle Ages rose energetically against this awakening which was to condemn them to be reckoned among the dead. The object of the struggle going on was to secure the triumph of the Reformation—or, as others expressed it, the triumph of progress and civilization. This struggle is the supreme interest of history. The intrigues of courts, 230and even the battles of armies, which are more pleasing to certain minds, are trifles in comparison with these mighty movements of humanity. Nevertheless, if they had their grandeur and their necessity, they had their danger also. To preserve the ship, launched into the open sea, from striking upon the treacherous shoals of disorder and libertinage, it was necessary that the Lord should command it. At the time when mankind were breaking the secular chains of popery and the fantastic institutions of feudalism, it was necessary they should cleave to the sovereign Master, who alone gives the breath of life to individuals and to nations. If England has so long enjoyed the precious fruits of liberty, and if France has not yet been able to secure them, it is because the former welcomed the Reformation and the latter rejected it. One of the great evils springing out of popery was the blunting of the moral sense; and the revival of the sixteenth century was a moral revival. In catholicism there were sincere men; but everything was good in their eyes, provided they attained an end which they believed to be glorious. And hence, strange to say, pretended preservers of order easily became assassins.

Meditated Coup-D’-État.

The Bishop of Geneva watched attentively from his silent priory all that was passing in his diocese, at that time so strangely agitated. He desired to reascend his double throne, and still hoped to reëstablish the authority of the prince and the pope in the city. Many catholics, especially at the courts of the bishop and the duke, could really see nothing in this reformation of doctrine but ‘a popular tumult, which would be of short duration.’ ‘The aspect of affairs will soon change,’ they said.[464] Perhaps if Calvin had not come, this prophecy might have been fulfilled; but others saw things in darker colors. The tempest of Luther would, in their opinion, upset everything; the same wave that now threatened the power of the pontiff would ere long sweep away the power of kings. Men did not know how to act that they might prevent such a misfortune; and the most 231decided said plainly, that the only means of saving Geneva was to set up one supreme magistrate. Did not the Romans create dictators in the hour of extreme peril? All these councils of Twenty-five, of Sixty, of Two Hundred, and, above all, the General Council of the people were (the Episcopals thought) both useless and pernicious. The administration ought to be placed in the hands of one man, and be given preferably to one of the lords of Friburg. The fervent catholicism of that canton and its resentment at Wernli’s death guaranteed the fidelity with which the mission would be fulfilled. It does not appear that anything was decided about the selection; but the bishop made up his mind to attempt a bold stroke of policy. Having come to an understanding with the Duke of Savoy,[465] he signed at Arbois the instruments which set up in Geneva a Lieutenant of the prince in temporal matters with full powers of punishing criminals. The document was immediately forwarded to Portier, the episcopal secretary, the bishop’s confidential man, who was to determine, in accordance with the heads of the party, the favorable moment and the best means of carrying it into execution. On his side the duke did not keep them waiting for assistance. Portier received blank warrants, sealed with the ducal arms, with authority to use them as he pleased, so as to bring the matter to a happy issue. The plot was skilfully devised. The court of Turin, the lords of Friburg, and the mamelukes were all to assist the bishop; but, according to the received formula, ‘God was there and the republic of Berne.’[466]

Indeed, it seemed at first that the instrument was destined to remain mere waste paper. The episcopal plot existed; the deed had been signed by the prince-bishop on the 12th of January, but on the first of February it was still a dead letter. Portier, aware of the spirit with which the citizens were animated, feared to make the episcopal ordinance known, either to magistrates or people. Privately, however, 232he discussed with some of his confidants the means of putting it into execution; among them were two brothers named Pennet, one of whom was the episcopal jailer. The bishop’s partisans at Geneva, as well as at Arbois and Turin, thought that logical discussions only did harm: that they should have recourse to more vigorous measures; that force only would constrain the Genevese to bend their necks to the yoke; and, finally, that a riot which disturbed the public peace would be, even if it failed, the best means of justifying the nomination of a lieutenant invested with absolute power. Some hot-headed episcopals, and particularly the two Pennets, the séides of the party, resolved to act immediately: ‘They undertook, with several others, to spill much blood,’ says a document written a few days after the affair.[467]

Two Huguenots Assassinated.

On Tuesday, 3d February, the most excitable of the episcopal party met at the palace: Pennet, the jailer, his brother Claude, Jacques Desel, and several others. It was after dinner. Inflamed by the desire of saving the authority of the prince and the pope, excited by the ordinance which they had hitherto kept by them, and irritated at seeing Furbity, the Dominican, contradicted by Farel and prosecuted by the Bernese, perhaps also (as some have believed) acting under positive orders emanating from the bishop, these men armed themselves and issued from the palace, ‘proposing to strike and kill the others,’ says the document which we have just quoted. These fanatics—we believe them to have been sincere, but unhappily of opinion that to stab a heretic was one of the most meritorious works to win heaven—these fanatics entered the court of St. Pierre’s. Just as they came in front of the steps, and the large platform on which the white marble portal of the cathedral opens, they met two huguenots, Nicholas Porral, the notary, and Stephen d’Adda.[468] Their blood boiled at the sight of the two heretics: Pennet the jailer drew his sword, sprung at Porral, 233struck him; and, seeing him fall, impudently continued his way, with his band, by the Rue du Perron to the Molard, the rallying ground of all rioters. D’Adda, and some other huguenots who had come up, surrounded the wounded Porral, lifted him up, and, wishing to stop the commencing riot as soon as possible, carried him to the hotel-de-ville, and laid him, all pale and bleeding, before the syndics and the council.

The magistrates were moved at the sight as of old—if we may compare the great things of antiquity with the little things that inaugurated modern times—as of old the corpse of Cæsar, gashed with wounds and carried through the Forum, excited the indignation and cries of the startled people. D’Adda informed the syndics of Pennet’s violent attack, and called for the punishment of the assassin. But he had scarcely ceased speaking when a great noise was heard from without: the court-yard of the hotel-de-ville was filled with agitated citizens; tumultuous shouts were raised, the gates of the hall were dashed open and ‘incontinent (says the Register) many people rushed in furiously crying out: Justice! justice!’ An estimable man, a worthy tradesman and zealous huguenot, Nicholas Berger by name, who lived in the Rue du Perron, happened to be in his shop just as the band, which had wounded Porral, was passing by. Attracted by the noise, he had probably moved towards the door: Claude Pennet observing him, stopped, and, as if jealous of his brother’s exploit, sprung at the unarmed citizen, and with one blow of his dagger, laid him dead at his feet. ‘All good men,’ added the citizens, ‘are filled with horror, and demand that the criminal be punished according to law.’

This event was not without importance. It was a new act in that obstinate struggle which, at the beginning of the sixteenth century, took place in a permanent manner in a little city on the shore of the Leman lake, and was repeated in other shapes in other countries. Combatants do not cross a frontier without marking their path by their blood. Those who were then fighting the last battles of what may be called the 234iron age, believed they were serving the cause of justice. Impartial history shrinks from tracing too hideous a picture of these insolent champions of Rome and feudalism. Even at Geneva, where they were perhaps more violent than elsewhere, they were not all devoid of generous sentiments. Undoubtedly many were animated by party-spirit; but there were some also who desired the good of their country. In their eyes, both religion and order were compromised by the alliance between Switzerland and the Reformation, and that sacred cause could only be upheld, they thought, by the energetic intervention of the episcopal party. They were mistaken; but their error did not lie essentially in that. The great evil consisted in the corruption of their moral sense by the principles of a fanatical bigotry, so that all means appeared good to attain their end; all—even the dagger.

While the people were demanding justice for a double murder, there was a great uproar in the city: the drums beat, and everybody ran to arms. The citizens, who wanted independence and reform, exclaimed that the bishop’s followers, unable to vanquish them by words, desired to triumph over them by the mandosse (a sort of Spanish sword). ‘It is the fifth riot the priests have got up to save the mass,’ they said, as they took up their arms, not to attack but to support the established authorities.

The council was astounded at the news of Berger’s death. All its members were opposed to such crimes; but three of the four syndics were catholics: Du Crest, Claude Baud, and Malbuisson, and the councillors were usually divided in the same proportion as the syndics. Besides which, Portier, who headed the band, was the accredited agent of the prince-bishop, whose authority the council desired to maintain. The syndics were discussing what was to be done, when the ambassadors of Berne demanded to speak with the council. The noble lords, who usually maintained such a cold attitude, were much excited: ‘As we were coming up to the hotel-de-ville,’ they said, ‘all the persons we met 235were running to arms. It is to be feared that there will be a great butchery (tuerie); we conjure you to look to it, and offer our services to appease the disturbance.’ The premier syndic prayed them to do so; and, when the Bernese had left, the council continued its deliberations.

Meanwhile, the principle huguenots had met in consultation. Two of their friends had just fallen beneath the blows of their adversaries: one of them was dead; their party had taken up arms; Portier and the Pennets had fled in alarm; the catholic faction was discouraged. In this state of things it would have been easy for them to fall upon their adversaries and gain a decisive victory; but sentiments of order and legality prevailed among them. They had no desire to infringe the law but to appeal to it; there were judges in Geneva. Blood must be avenged, not by violence but by justice. ‘No disorder,’ said the huguenot chiefs, ‘no revenge, no attack, no fighting! ... but let us help the magistrates that they may be able to do their duty.’ Five hundred armed citizens, the most valiant men in Geneva, arrived in good order and drew up in front of the hotel-de-ville, while their chiefs—Maisonneuve, Salomon, Perrin, and Aimé Levet—went into the council-room. ‘Honored lords,’ they said, ‘we have assembled for no other reason than to preserve order. We fear lest the priests have prepared a fourth or fifth émeute; and hence we are here in a body to avoid their fury and lend assistance to the syndics. We pray that the murderers and those who counselled the riot may be punished.’[469] There was not a moment’s hesitation: all, catholics and protestants alike, desired the guilty to be punished, and search was made for them.

The Bishop’s Palace Searched.

It was thought that they were hiding in the bishop’s palace: it was probable, indeed, that secretary Portier, who lived there, had gone thither and given a refuge to his accomplices, as being the safest place in all Geneva. ‘We will go and take them there,’ said Syndic Du Crest, a catholic 236but loyal man. The other syndics rose, and all quitted the hotel-de-ville followed by their officers. At the imposing sight of the chief magistrates of the city, demanding an entrance into the palace, the bishop’s servants opened the doors, and a strict search began immediately. Not a chamber or a cellar or a garret escaped the inquisitive eyes of the magistrates and their sergeants; ‘but for all the pains they took,’ says the ‘Council Register,’ ‘none of the culprits were found.’ Many believed they had escaped; Perronnette alone, the episcopal secretary’s wife, seeing the vigor with which the assassins were hunted after, felt her anguish doubled as to the fate of her husband. The syndics, wishing to prevent new intrigues, resolved to leave a few of their officers in the episcopal mansion, with orders to keep guard during the night. The men stationed themselves in the vestibule to wait for the morning; but no one in the city knew they were there.

These brave men were talking of what was going on in Geneva, when a little before eight o’clock at night (it had been dark for some time, as it was the beginning of February), a low, smothered voice was heard in the street, as if some one was speaking through the key-hole. The guards listened. The voice was heard again and pronounced several times in a distinct manner the name of the portress. ‘It was a priest softly calling to the servant,’ says the ‘Council Register.’ The huguenots, understanding instantly the advantage they could derive from this unexpected circumstance, desired a young man who was with them to imitate a woman’s voice and answer. Disguising his tones, he said: ‘What do you want?’ The priest having no doubts about the sex and functions of the speaker, said (still in a low voice) that he wanted certain keys for Mr. Secretary Portier and Claude Pennet. It is probable they wished to use them to hide in some safer place, and perhaps leave the city by a secret gate. The young man, again assuming a female voice, said: ‘What will you do with them?’ ‘I shall take them to St. Pierre’s church, where they are 237hidden,’ answered the priest. It was just what the guard wanted to know. One of them got up, opened the gate, and the priest, seeing an armed man instead of a woman, fled in affright. The guard, without stopping to pursue him, ran to the hotel-de-ville, where the council was sitting en permanence, and told the whole story to the syndics. The murderers whom they were looking for were hidden in the cathedral. The magistrates determined to go there immediately.

The Search.

It was no slight task to seek the assassins in the vast cathedral, all filled with chapels, altars, and other places where men could hide. The syndics entered between eight and nine o’clock at night with a certain number of officers carrying flambeaux. The doors were shut immediately, so that no one could get out, and a dead silence prevailed in the nave. Under the flickering light of the torches, this pile, one of the finest monuments of the twelfth century, displayed all its august majesty. But that splendor of byzantine and gothic architecture, those graceful proportions, that admirable unity so well calculated to produce a deep impression of grandeur and harmony, did not strike My Lords of Geneva, who were thinking of other matters. Du Crest and his colleagues were not occupied with architectural decorations and holy images.... They were hunting for murderers.

The search began: the magistrates and their officers went over the chapels of the Holy Cross, the Virgin, St. Martin, St. Maurice, St. Anthony, and nine others in the interior; they examined carefully the eighteen altars, so richly adorned with all that the catholic worship requires. The sergeants took their flambeaux into every corner, they lifted up the carpets, they stooped to search for the culprits. The apse, the transept, the sanctuary, they searched them all; they examined the vestry, the stalls, the aisles, the galleries, the stairs—they found nothing. They next went into the chapel of the Maccabees, adjoining the cathedral, and which the cardinal-bishop, Jean de Brogny, had built a century 238before, adorning it with magnificent carvings, gorgeous paintings, and mouldings enriched with beads of gold. They passed by those tables where might still be seen a young man keeping swine under an oak, the cardinal desiring in this manner to recall the humble recollections of his early life; but neither Portier, nor Pennet, nor any of their accomplices could be found. The search had lasted nearly three hours, and the magistrates and their officers were beginning to lose all hope, when the idea occurred to one of them that possibly the murderers they were looking after might be hidden in one of the three towers. The syndics and their suite resolved to examine them, beginning with the south tower, one hundred and fifty feet high. As they climbed the numerous steps, they thought that, if the evidence of the priest was true, the criminals must be there, and they might perhaps find not only Portier and the Pennets, but a band of their friends well armed. The stairs being very narrow, it would have been easy for the episcopals to close the passage and even to kill some of those who were looking after them. The men who executed the syndic’s orders ascended slowly and steadily, and approached the great steeple with its four gothic windows surmounted by semi-circular arches. The steps of this numerous party re-echoed through the winding staircase. The officer of the Council, who marched at the head of the band, having reached the top of the tower, carefully put forward his torch and saw arms glittering and eyes sparkling in one corner. He drew near, followed by his friends, and discovered the crafty Portier and the violent Pennet, crouching down, ‘armed,’ says the Register, ‘with swords, iron pikes, axes, and daggers, and covered with coats of mail.’ The two malefactors, although armed to the teeth, did not think of defending themselves: they were more dead than alive. The officers of the State seized them and shut them up in the prison of the hotel-de-ville.[470]

The Plot Discovered.

239While these things were going on at St. Pierre’s, the guard which the syndics had left at the palace, encouraged by the success of their stratagem, had resolved to take advantage of the opportunity to get at the secrets of the house; and, assuming a simple, good-natured air, they entered into conversation with the servants, questioning them so skilfully that they soon knew all they wanted. ‘The bishop’s secretary, alone and without support, is too weak,’ they said, ‘to withstand the will of the council and people.’ ‘But he is not so alone as you think,’ answered one; ‘he has with him my lord the bishop, his highness the Duke of Savoy;’ and then he continued proudly, ‘he has even received letters from them!’ The independent citizens, affecting incredulity, exclaimed! ‘What! Portier receive secret messages from such great personages!’ ... One of the episcopals, piqued by the disdainful sneer, declared aloud, ‘that the letters were in existence, in buffeto (says the Council Register, in its classic Latin), in the secretary’s buffet.’ At these words the sly huguenots started up suddenly, and, hurrying in great glee to Portier’s room, broke open the cupboard, took out the papers lying there, and carried them to the syndics. This discovery was still more important than the other.

The magistrates hastened to open the packet, and found a bundle of papers, all having reference to the plot which the bishop had contrived for the subjugation of Geneva. They examined the contents and were alarmed. ‘Here is an act signed by the bishop on the 12th of January last,—only twenty days ago,—appointing a governor for the temporalities, with power to punish rebels. The prince, of his mere caprice, establishes an unconstitutional agent, who is to have no other law than his own will. Here are blank warrants sealed with the arms of the Dukes of Savoy. It is a downright conspiracy, a crime of high-treason.’ The date of the act made it sufficiently clear that Pierre de la Baume was the instigator of the troubles which had been on the point of throwing the city into confusion. It was determined 240that Portier, the recognized agent of this revolutionary intrigue, should be tried before the syndics; and a public prosecutor, Jean Lambert, a sound huguenot, was elected to conduct the proceedings.[471]

However, before commencing this trial, that of Pennet, less complicated than the other, was to be concluded. The case was clear, provided for by the law, and not pardonable. Claude Pennet stood forward boldly, like a man enduring persecution for the Christian religion. He was convicted of having murdered Nicholas Berger in his shop at the Perron, and Syndic du Crest, a catholic but a wise man, pronounced the sentence of death. This made no change in Pennet’s manner. He did not repent the deed he had done: fanaticism stifled the voice of conscience in him. It was the same with all his friends, zealots of the Roman party. In them passion took the place of reason, and they boasted of the murder as an honorable, holy, and heroic act. Pennet asked to see Furbity, the Dominican, who was detained in prison for having insulted the adversaries of Rome. The monk of the order of the Inquisition was conducted to the murderer’s cell, ‘and when they saw each other they could not forbear from weeping,’ says the nun of St. Claire.[472] Pennet wished to die piously: ‘therefore this good catholic made his confession.’ ... ‘I am condemned to the scaffold for the love of Jesus Christ,’ he said to the Dominican, ‘and I entreat your holy prayers.’ The reverend father, moved to tears by the piety and wretched fate of this precious son of the Church, kissed him, and said: ‘Sire Claude, go cheerfully and rejoice in your martyrdom, nothing doubting; for the kingdom of heaven is open and the angels are waiting for you.’[473]

Pennet’s Execution And Miracles.

The murder of which Pennet was guilty was, in the Dominican’s eyes, the work of a saint. Most of the episcopals 241thought the same; and it was feared that their party, which had the populace with them, would oppose the execution of the sentence. De la Maisonneuve, determining to support the law by force, collected a certain number of armed men in his house.[474] But their intervention was not necessary. Nothing disturbed the course of justice, and the executioner cut off the murderer’s head, and hung his body on a gibbet. Before long, the populace was in commotion. ‘Have you heard the news?’ people said. ‘Miracles are worked at the place where Pennet’s body hangs. His face is as ruddy and his lips as fresh as if he was alive, and a white dove is continually hovering over his head.’ The devout made pilgrimages to the place of execution.

The other Pennet, the jailer who had wounded Porral, and who, says Sister Jeanne, ‘was not less ardent than his brother in upholding the holy catholic religion,’ was all this time lying hid in the house of a poor beggar-woman, where the nuns of St. Claire, who alone were in the secret, stealthily carried him food. The execution of his brother alarmed him; so one night, when it froze hard, he left his hiding-place barefoot, and arrived stealthily at the convent of St. Claire, where the nuns provided him with a disguise, in which he escaped to Savoy.

The third delinquent,—the State criminal, Portier,—remained. The matter appeared so serious to the procurator-general that he desired it should be communicated to the people. The Council General having met on the 8th February, Lambert ordered the letters found at the palace, as well as the duke’s blank warrants, to be read to the assembly. ‘What! a governor of Geneva invested with the temporalities of the sovereign power, with authority to punish citizens who maintain their political and religious rights; the constitution of the State trampled under foot by the prince-bishop; and the Duke of Savoy, that eternal enemy of Genevan independence, forcibly aiding this usurpation and violence!’ All this constituted a guilty plot, even in the 242eyes of right-minded catholics. The voice of the people and the voice of justice were in harmony. The procurator-general demanded that Portier should be brought before his judges. The trial was much slower than that of the two Pennets had been, for the Roman-catholics made every effort to save him, and even offered large sums of money. But the procurator-general and the huguenots represented continually that ‘there was a conspiracy against the liberties of the city;’ it was not possible to save the episcopal secretary.

Yet Portier and his agents had merely begun to carry out the orders they had received; the bishop was the real criminal. His quality of prince covered his person, so that, even had he been in Geneva, not a hair of his head would have fallen. But Pierre de la Baume was to receive the punishment, which, by the will of God, falls upon unjust princes. He had desired to employ his power for the purpose of oppression, and God shattered that power. When the sealed letters of the bishop which gave Geneva a dictator were read in the assembly of the people, the citizens were shocked; a sullen silence betrayed their indignation; they seemed to hear the funeral knell of an ancient dynasty that had departed. The Genevese determined to break with the episcopal traditions, and to raise to the government none but men known by their attachment to the union of Geneva with Switzerland and to the cause of the Reformation. While, among the syndics retiring from office, there was only one who belonged to this category, four friends of independence were called by the people to the first position in the State. They were Michael Sept, one of the huguenots who, in 1526, had fled to Berne, and had brought back the Swiss alliance; Ami de Chapeaurouge, Aimé Curtet, and J. Duvillard. The executive council thus became a huguenot majority. It was the episcopal conspiracy that struck the decisive blow, that threw wide open the hitherto half-open door, and permitted the victorious Reformation to enter the city.[475]


(February 10 to March 1, 1534.)

Furbity Summoned Before The Council.

Unequivocal tokens soon made known the change that had taken place. Every one knew that the critical moment had arrived; but that it should be salutary, it was necessary to enlighten the people and set distinctly before them the end which it was proposed to attain. In all that concerns religious questions, the first point is to understand them thoroughly; vagueness always does injury to true religion. The magistrates determined to make clear the points on which the discussion turned, and accordingly the new syndics ordered Furbity to appear before the Council. This body, which had called to their aid the deputies of Berne and the three reformers, invited the monk to prove by the Holy Scriptures, as he had promised, the doctrines he advanced. ‘In the first place,’ they said, ‘you have accused those who eat meat, which God hath created to be received,[476] of being worse than Turks.’—‘Sirs,’ answered the monk, ‘I confess that our Lord did not make the prohibition of which I spoke; I will, therefore, prove my statement by the decrees of St. Thomas.’—‘Ho! ho!’ said Farel, ‘you pretended to prove everything by the Word of God; you even consented, in the opposite case, to be burnt at the stake, and now ... you give up the Scriptures!’

They did not confine themselves to this question; the lords of Berne proved by fourteen witnesses the other errors preached by Furbity; for instance: that God will punish those who read the Scriptures in the vulgar tongue, and that Christ had given the papacy to St. Peter. They proved, also, 244the reality of the abuse uttered by the Dominican against the reformed Christians, except, however, that a German (a Swiss German) was among the executioners of our Lord: it appeared that some wag had invented the story to ridicule the monk. The Bernese declared that, as the monk was, according to his own confession, only ‘a preacher of the decrees of St. Thomas’ and a story-teller, justice ought to have its course.

The Dominican began to be afraid, and offered to apologize in the cathedral for the outrage to God and the lords of Berne. ‘We accept,’ said the premier syndic, ‘and you will afterwards quit Geneva and never return under pain of death.’ The Dominican desired nothing better than to get away as soon as possible.[477]

In consequence of this decision, the Dominican attended by his guard, was led quietly to St. Pierre’s on Sunday, the 15th of February. He was much agitated, walked hurriedly, and his mind was distracted with contending emotions. On reaching the foot of the pulpit, he went into it hastily, and, casting his eyes on the crowd which filled the church, his confusion and embarrassment increased. He saw himself between two powers—the horrible Bernese and the terrible Dominicans—and felt himself unable to satisfy one without offending the other. He tried, however, to recover himself, made the sign of the cross, said the Ave Maria, and invoked the Virgin.... The Bernese looked surprised; but it was much worse, when, instead of reading the retractation which the syndics had given him, he began to skim it over, to wander from it, and finally to say something quite different. One of the Bernese called to him: ‘Sir Doctor, you have nothing to do here but to retract,’ and numerous voices immediately seconded the remark. But the monk rambled wider than ever from the question, hesitated, and became confused;[478] many of the huguenots left their places, 245a great agitation pervaded the church, and the patience of the congregation was becoming exhausted. ‘You are making fools of us,’ they cried out to the monk. ‘Do not stuff our ears with your usual nonsense. Come, a good peccavi!’[479] But there was no retractation. A great uproar then arose; some violent men went up into the pulpit, seized the disciple of St. Dominic, and dragged him down roughly.[480] ‘They made the chair fall after him,’ says Sister Jeanne, ‘and he was nearly left dead on the spot’ (the good sister often colors too highly). The catholics quitted the church in alarm, and the doctor of the Sorbonne, having broken his promise, was led back to prison.[481]

The Bernese ambassadors next appeared before the Council, and asked permission for the Gospel to be publicly preached in one of the churches. The syndics replied that it was just what they wanted, and that they would require the Lent preacher to conform his sermons to the Gospel.

Dominicans And Franciscans.

The fanatical Dominican, empowered to deliver the Advent lectures, having compromised catholicism, and the council having declared against every preacher who should not preach according to God’s Word, the Genevan clergy determined to make a last effort. They said they must choose a monk of another sort for the Lent course, and consequently turned to the Franciscans, who had often dreamt of a transformation of religious society. There were great differences between these two mendicant orders: the Dominicans were rich, the Franciscans poor; the Dominicans aimed at dominion, the Franciscans at humility; the Dominicans were fossilized in their doctrines and customs, the Franciscans were flexible and had a taste for innovations. They knew how to catch the multitude by their enthusiasm and flagellations, by their insinuating manners and miraculous visions. It is a man of this sort, said the 246oldest of the catholics, that we want after the Dominican. If Geneva had resisted the roughness of the one, it would be captivated by the flatteries of the other. In this manner the clergy hoped to lead Geneva insensibly back into the arms of Rome.

Father Courtelier, superior of the Franciscans of Chambery, renowned for his eloquence and wit, was invited to come and preach at Geneva during Lent. He arrived on Saturday, the 14th of February: next morning (it was the Sunday preceding Shrove Tuesday) he appeared before the Council. The premier syndic, assuming a duty that was somewhat episcopal, said to him: ‘Reverend father, you must preach nothing but the pure Gospel of God.’—‘I undertake to do so,’ replied the monk, who had been well tutored; ‘you will be satisfied.’ And then desiring to show how accommodating he was, he presented nine articles, saying: ‘This is what I desire to preach;’ adding, as if he was before the college of cardinals: ‘Strike out what you do not approve of.’ The Council, in great part Lutheran, finding themselves converted by the priest into a court of doctrine, ordered the paper to be read. Invocation of the Virgin Mary was one of the articles; Purgatory was another; Prayer for the dead; Invocation of the Saints.... The huguenots objected, and these four points were struck off the list; but he was allowed to make the sign of the cross in the pulpit, to repeat the salutation of the angel to Mary, which is recorded in the Gospel of St. Luke, and to celebrate mass. The priest returned to his convent with the revised articles.[482]

Courtelier’s Sermon.

On Ash Wednesday the reverend superior went into the pulpit and labored skilfully to retain Geneva in the orbit of the papacy. The two chiefs of the Reformation—the layman Baudichon de la Maisonneuve and the reformer Farel—with many of their accomplices (as Father Courtelier styles them),[483] desirous of hearing how the monk would manage to make the pope and Luther agree, had gone 247to the Franciscan church at Rive (Courtelier had not been admitted to the honor of the cathedral). The monk began by repeating in a sonorous voice the invocation to the Virgin: Ave Maria ..., at which Farel and the huguenots called out so that all could hear them: ‘It is a foolish thing to salute the Virgin Mary!’—‘I do it by permission of the Council,’ answered the monk ingenuously, and all the catholics in the congregation, desiring to support their champion, began to cry out: Ave Maria, gratia plena! There was such a loud and universal murmur, that Farel, Maisonneuve, and their friends were obliged to hold their tongues.[484]

Courtelier continued, endeavoring to speak at once according to the pope and the Gospel. One sentence contradicted another; what was white one moment was black the next; his sermon was a muddle of ideas without issue, a strain of music without harmony. Farel and his friends soon understood the manœuvre. ‘He is using a cloak to entrap us,’ they said, ‘and will take care not to show his teeth at starting. He gives us drink ... as they did at Babylon, poison in a golden chalice.’ Disgusted with such trimming, Farel stood up and said: ‘You cannot teach the truth, for you do not know it.’ The poor friar stopped short: resuming his courage by degrees and wishing to please the friends of the Gospel, he began to inveigh against both priests and popes. It was now the turn of the catholics; and the Franciscan, noticing their anger and desiring to regain their favor, began once more to vituperate the reformers. Without doctrine, without opinions, he fluctuated between Rome and Wittemberg, and instead of satisfying everybody, he exasperated both parties. ‘We cannot serve God and the devil,’ said Froment with disgust.

The reverend superior now changed his tactics, knowing, as all good Franciscans did, that flies are to be caught with honey, and began to praise the Genevans in extravagant language: ‘Ladies and gentlemen,’ he said from the pulpit, 248‘beware how you suffer yourselves to be seduced by the people (Farel and his two friends) who teach you that you and your fathers were idolaters, and that you are being led away to hell. No! you are a noble and mighty city ... you are of good repute ... and worthy people.... Ladies and gentlemen, always preserve your glorious title, and make yourselves worthy of the great name borne by your noble city. Is it not called Geneva, Gebenna,[485] that is to say, gens bona, gens benigna, gens sancta, gens præclara, gens devota? ... a good, merciful, holy, illustrious, and devout people.... Your name declares it.’ The monk was inexhaustible in extravagant compliments, although he knew very well what he ought to think of the ‘holiness’ of the Genevese, and particularly of the monks and priests.

This final effort of Roman-catholicism in Geneva did not succeed. On the contrary, the huguenots, provoked by his fawning, said: ‘We do not desire to please either gentlemen or ladies,’[486] and moved with firm steps in the path of Reform. Farel, setting aside the manifold ceremonies with which Rome had overburdened public worship, desired to re-establish baptism in conformity with the Gospel institution, as a sign of regeneration. The news spread, and excited great curiosity even among the strangers who were in Geneva. On the 22d of February, the first Sunday in Lent, two Savoyards, Claude Theveron of the mountains of the Grand-Bornand, and Henry Advreillon of the parish of Thonon, were in the Molard, where also a number of Genevans, both catholics and Lutherans, had assembled. ‘Have you heard,’ said one of them, ‘that there is going to be a baptism at Baudichon’s house?’—‘Let us go and see what it is like,’ said the Savoyards; and, following some huguenots, they entered a large hall, which had been contrived by removing the partitions.[487] Some of the seats were already occupied; the two strangers were able to find room, but the later arrivals 249were compelled to stand near the door. ‘There must be three hundred and more present,’ said Advreillon to his friend. On a raised chair sat a young man with mild countenance and sharp eyes: they were told it was Viret of Orbe; right and left of him were Farel and Froment. A gentleman of the city of good appearance, who seemed to be between forty and fifty years old, showed the people to their seats and watched to see that everything was conducted with propriety. ‘That is Baudichon de la Maisonneuve,’ the Savoyards were informed, ‘the master of the house, and the greatest Lutheran in Geneva.’[488]

A Reformed Baptism.

The service then began. Viret’s gentle eloquence charmed his hearers; the two strangers, however, would gladly have seen themselves outside of the assembly into which they had impudently crept; but all the passages were blocked up: ‘We cannot get out,’ said Advreillon, ‘because of the great crowd of people;’ so they made up their minds to stay till the end. As soon as the sermon was over, the two Savoyards were about to leave, when De la Maisonneuve said aloud: ‘Let no one move, a baptism is going to be celebrated here.’ The baptism took place, and Viret added: ‘It was with pure, fair water that John baptized Jesus Christ; to baptize with oil, salt, and spittle as the hypocrites do, is wrong.’ The two strangers, offended by such language, got away as fast as they could.

As many persons had been unable to take part in the service, the huguenots, whose patience was exhausted, resolved to be no longer satisfied with narrow halls, which did not permit all who loved the Word of God to hear it. ‘Jesus Christ commands the Gospel to be preached in all the world,’ said Farel, ‘it must therefore be preached in Geneva;’ whereupon he asked for a church. The Bernese ambassadors undertook to present the petition. ‘Most honored lords,’ they said to the Council, ‘when we and our ministers pass along the streets, people shout after us: “Holla! heretics, you dare not appear in public, you preach your heresies 250in holes and corners like pigsties.”[489] We have long put up with this, and now we come to ask you for a church. No one will be constrained to hear our preacher; every man will go to the worship he prefers, and thus everybody will be satisfied.’ The syndics, greatly embarrassed, declared they were grieved at the ignominies heaped upon the Bernese, but said it was not in their jurisdiction to assign a pulpit to a Lutheran preacher; that it belonged to the prince-bishop and his vicars. ‘Still,’ they added, ‘if you take of your own accord some edifice in which you can preach your doctrines ... you are strong ... we cannot resist you ... we dare not.’

Farel And Courtelier.

The refusal of the syndics annoyed the evangelicals; Farel resolved to have an interview with the father-superior. Did he wish to convince Courtelier, at times so accommodating, that the evangelical doctrine ought to be preached in the churches; or else, convinced, like Luther, that the papacy was a power of Antichrist which resisted the kingdom of God, did he desire to tell the cordelier his mind? We cannot say: perhaps it was partly both. Accompanied by the intrepid Maisonneuve and the wise councillor Balthasar, Farel proceeded to the Franciscan convent. Courtelier received them in his cell, and the reformer having complained that the Gospel truth could not be preached, the monk, instead of making the least concession, took refuge behind the authority of the pope, extolling his holiness’s infallibility and power. Had not Alvarus Pelagius, a Franciscan like himself, declared that the jurisdiction of the pope is universal, embracing the whole world, its temporalities as well as its spiritualities?[490] Had not another monk taught that ‘the pope is in the place of God?’[491] But Farel, instead of seeking his ideas about Rome in the writings of the monks of the middle ages, derived them from the Holy Scriptures, 251and particularly from the Revelation of St. John. ‘Your holy Father,’ he said to the superior, ‘is the beast whom the ignorant worship. John the Evangelist tells us of a beast with seven heads,[492] which “devoureth them which dwell upon the earth,” and makes war upon the saints, and he adds: the seven heads are seven hills, on which it sits. Seven hills, do you hear? Everybody knows that Rome is built on seven hills. Therefore the holy see is not apostolical but diabolical.’ Courtelier was moved. He remonstrated with Farel ‘as well as he could,’ he says; but the reformer replied, the conversation grew warm, and at last the evangelists, unable to convince the monk, took leave of him. Maisonneuve quitted the cell, annoyed at Courtelier’s blindness, and all three left the convent together.

This energetic argument, which applied the prophecies of the Bible respecting Antichrist to the pope, had already been employed by Luther. No proof excited more anger among the Romanists or inspired the evangelicals with more firmness.

(March 1 to April 25, 1534.)

The interview with the father-superior had been useless; the churches remained closed. The evangelicals could wait no longer: the majority of the inhabitants were for the Word of God, but not a church was opened to them. The walls of St. Pierre, St. Gervais, St. Germain, and the Madelaine contained merely the external and barren forms of the 252Roman worship: life and movement were there no longer; they had passed into the hearts of the resolute men and pious women who gathered round Farel. Neither the hall in Maisonneuve’s house, nor any other sufficed for the lovers of the Word. Every day numbers of hearers had to remain in the street. ‘Alas!’ said they, ‘the Gospel can find nothing in Geneva but secret chambers, and we can only whisper of the grace of Christ. And yet grace ought to be proclaimed all through the city and spread even to the ends of the world.’ They were about to take measures accordingly.

Farel In The Grand Auditory.

On the second Sunday in Lent (1st of March, 1534), after the evangelicals had heard Farel in one of the usual halls, twenty-nine of the most notable huguenots remained behind and began to inquire what ought to be done. ‘The Council,’ reported one of them, ‘told my lords of Berne to take any place they liked for their preacher ... well, suppose we take one. It is God’s will to have the Gospel published. But the pope with his people care no more about it than the priests of Bacchus, Jupiter, and Venus did of old. Without any further petitioning let us do what God commands.’ At these words Maisonneuve and the other huguenots proceeded to the convent at Rive. Father Courtelier was preaching there: he had just finished his sermon and the crowd were leaving the church. The daring Baudichon informed the monks, to their great surprise, that Farel was going to preach there, and also that the bells would be rung, which did not astonish them less. Two or three huguenots, going into the belfry, rang three loud peals at intervals during an hour. Meanwhile De la Maisonneuve took his measures. Instead of taking possession of the church, he selected a part of the convent named the grand auditory, or the cloister. This part of the monastery was constructed in the shape of a gallery, and had a court in the middle: it was more spacious than the church, and would hold four or five thousand persons.[493]

253The sound of the bells at an unusual hour was heard all through the city. Each note, as it rang in the ears of the Genevese, announced to them that the Gospel, with which all Christendom was then agitated, was at last about to be publicly proclaimed within their walls. ‘Master Farel,’ they said, ‘is going to preach in the cloister at Rive,’ and a crowd collected from all sides. People of every sort had assembled to hear him: evangelicals, political huguenots, the indifferent and bigoted. Certain priests gnashed their teeth and even attempted to turn away some of their parishioners; but it was labor in vain: the number increased every minute. Some Franciscan monks, who stared at the sight of such an extraordinary multitude, could not resist the desire of going to the grand auditory and hearing what was said.

De la Maisonneuve gave the necessary orders for placing the people. The assembly, although respectful, was profoundly agitated. In the place where they had met, men of different parties crowded together: the opportunity of hearing the famous Farel, and the object which such meetings were to attain, namely, a change in the religion of Geneva—all stirred their minds deeply. But if there was any unbecoming movement, Maisonneuve, from his elevated place, imposed silence by his hand. At length the reformer appeared. The catholics were astonished when they saw him: ‘What!’ they said, ‘no sacerdotal ornaments! He is dressed like a layman, with a Spanish cloak and brimmed cap.’[494] But under that cap and cloak lay hid what was rarely found beneath the robes of priests—an ardent soul, a heart overflowing with love, and such eloquence that the hearers exclaimed, as Calvin did once: ‘Your thunders 254have caused an indescribable trouble in my soul.’[495] Farel began to speak: borrowing his fire from the writings of the prophets and apostles, says one of his biographers, he enlightened and inflamed the heart.[496] He excited in many a lively feeling of love for Christ. God, as Calvin says, was at work in his own through the ministry of the reformer. Some began to consider and to relish the grace which they had formerly swallowed without tasting.[497] The assembly was charmed and enraptured; the souls of many were inflamed by the ardor of the divine spirit.

Among the Franciscans who listened to Farel was Jacques Bernard, belonging to one of the best families in Geneva. He was lively, intelligent, learned, and defiant, and had long been a sincere worshipper of the Virgin. He had often spoken violently against the reformers, and a few days before, meeting Farel and Viret, he told them with a scowl: ‘In times past there were schismatics enough who forbade men to salute the Virgin and make the sign of the cross.’ Then, without another word, he rudely turned his back on them. But on this occasion no one in the grand auditory was more attentive than Jacques. God gave him new eyes and new ears. It has been said that the convent at Rive was to him as the road to Damascus—that there this new Saul became a new Paul.[498] This first preaching of Farel’s contributed at least to Bernard’s conversion, and ere long he maintained courageously the truths he had once so much attacked.

But this light, which had enlightened some, blinded others. The wrath of the men devoted to the papacy knew no bounds; they indulged in terrible bursts of passion, and their followers spread the flames through the city. The conflagration broke out the next day. The Two Hundred 255were hardly met, when Nicholas du Crest, the three Malbuissons, Girardin, and Philip de la Rive, with several others, appeared before them and said: A minister preached the new law yesterday in the cloister at Rive; we wish to know if it was with your consent. At the same moment the ambassadors of Berne arrived and held very different language: ‘What we have so long asked for,’ they said, ‘has been accomplished by the inspiration of God, without our knowing anything of it. The place which you had refused us has been given by the Lord himself. Yes, God, by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, has put it into the hearts of your citizens to have the Gospel preached in the grand auditory. Permit the minister to continue his preaching in that place, and give no annoyance to such as may go to hear him.’

Farel Continues To Preach.

Although, to satisfy the catholics, the Council had at first hinted to the Bernese that as they were returning home, it would be very natural that they should take their ministers with them, Farel continued to preach every day to numerous congregations. His hearers were more convinced than ever of the errors of Rome and of the truth of the evangelical doctrine—things which appeared to them as clear as the day. Many threw aside their supineness; their contrite hearts joyfully received the Saviour’s pardon, and, ‘caring no longer for the frivolous things so esteemed by the papists,’ devoted themselves to works of true innocence and charity. There was great cheerfulness in Geneva. Bands of people paraded the city with songs of joy; groups assembled at the Molard and conversed of the extraordinary things that were taking place. The evangelicals no longer doubted of the victory. A young Savoyard, named Henry Percyn, approaching one of these groups, recognized Baudichon de la Maisonneuve, who, surrounded by several Lutherans, ‘was talking to some catholics who were there.’ The latter defended their Church: ‘Are these three chimney-preachers better than pope, bishop, canons, priests, and monks?’ Maisonneuve replied: ‘I will bet one hundred crowns to 256fifty, that next Easter not a single mass will be celebrated in Geneva.’ None of the catholics would accept the wager. Baudichon was mistaken, but by a few months only.[499]

On Saturday, the 7th of March, the Bernese ambassadors attended the evangelical assembly for the last time. They were leaving Farel, Viret, and Froment without protection in the midst of deadly enemies, and without force to resist them alone. Accordingly, as soon as the service was ended, they rose and said: ‘Farewell, gentlemen of Geneva, we commend our preachers to you.’[500]—‘It is not necessary to commend them,’ answered a Genevese, ‘we know the danger they incur in trying to rescue the people from the slavery into which they have fallen.’ As he left the hall, Claude Bernard took the three evangelists home to his house, where they lived henceforward.

De la Maisonneuve departed about the same time as the Bernese, on his way to Frankfort on business. At a date we cannot fix he took Farel and Viret to Lausanne to ‘similarly seduce’ the inhabitants of that city; but the Lausannese, the priests and their friends (for the middle-class was favorable to the Reform), ‘drove the preachers away.’ It is scarcely probable that the two reformers should have chosen to leave Geneva at the important epoch of which we are treating; and yet a contemporary document would lead us to believe so. When De la Maisonneuve reached Frankfort, he conversed with the Lutherans and communicated, as it would seem, according to the ritual of Luther.[501]

Shortly after this, Portier was convicted of having conspired with the bishop against the liberty of the city, and condemned to lose his head. The law having punished the guilty, the public conscience was satisfied. It is necessary that justice should reign among nations; when it is trampled under foot and the guilty are held to be innocent, there rises 257in the breasts of the good a cry of sorrow, we will not say of revenge. But that condemnation was big with important consequences for Geneva; it was, says the chronicler, ‘a terror to the creatures of the bishop.’ As Portier had only carried out the orders of the prince, the condemnation of the servant was that of the master. The episcopal agents began to understand that they must obey the laws and pay respect to lay tribunals. The power of the episcopal faction was broken.[502]

Farel’s Progress.

Farel became more energetic, while, on the other hand, the Franciscan preacher did all he could to support the tottering papacy. It was not only in the same country that these two contrary systems were then in conflict: it was in the same city, in the same house,—the monastery at Rive. One day the cordelier taught in the church that ‘the wafer ceases to be bread, and that the mouth receives the body of Jesus Christ;’ while Farel said in the cloister: ‘It is true that the life is enclosed in the body of Christ; but we have no communion with him except by a true faith. Faith is the mouth of the soul to receive the Saviour.’ In the church the cordelier encouraged the purchase of indulgences, the practice of penances and satisfactions; but in the grand auditory Farel exclaimed: ‘All our sins are pardoned freely. How dare the monks, then, set up their satisfactions, which the Word of God has shattered to pieces?’[503] Gradually the cordelier lowered his tone: the powerful voice of Farel was reducing him to silence. ‘You must know,’ wrote Madame de la Maisonneuve to her husband, who was at Frankfort, ‘you must know that Master William does his duty bravely in announcing the Word of God.’ She added: ‘We have had no prohibitions: nobody contradicts us. Our business increases greatly.’[504]

258Roman-catholicism was falling: Friburg hurried to its support. ‘Alas!’ replied the syndics to the ambassadors, ‘we do not set Farel to preach: it is the people. We could sooner stop a torrent than prevent people going to hear them. So far as we are concerned, we have abolished no ceremony, pulled down no church.’ Thus, at Geneva, as in mighty England, it was the nation rather than its leaders who desired the Reform; and it was the same everywhere. The Friburgers, calm and reserved, then stepped forward in the midst of the assembly of the people, coldly laid their letters of alliance before the premier syndic, and asked for those of Geneva. ‘Keep them! keep them!’ was the cry on all sides; and the citizens rushed towards the deputation, lavishing on them marks of affection and prayers. Messieurs of Friburg, sternly shaking off their embraces, departed, leaving the letters of alliance on the table.

The alarmed Council now resolved to do all in their power to appease the catholics and Friburgers. Every year at Easter a grand procession took place, in which the images and relics of the saints were carried through the city. The Council ordered the usual honors to be paid them. Aimé Levet having declared that he would not forsake the living God for that multitude of petty gods, the syndics served him with a special order through the police. But still the Levets would hang no drapery upon their house, and kept the shop open as on an ordinary day. For this offence Aimé was kept three days in prison on bread and water.

Farel’s Domestic Troubles.

The consideration due to Friburg had led the magistrates to this act of severity; but the evangelical movement was not checked by it. The Christian meetings increased in number after Easter. Farel energetically urged forward the car of Reform, and his voice by turns alarmed like the thunders of Sinai, or consoled like the Beatitudes of the Gospel. Yet, in the midst of these numerous works, he was often observed to pause, overcome with sadness. The persecution continued in France: three hundred Lutherans 259were in prison at Paris. ‘What restive horses are these!’ he exclaimed. ‘They shrink back instead of advancing! What adversaries are springing up against the Redeemer, who reigns with glory in heaven! But God will not forsake his work.’[505] He had still keener sorrows than these: his own brothers, Daniel, Walter, and Claude, had been seized by the enemy from a desire to avenge upon them the evil which the reformer was doing. One of the three, who was younger than himself, had been condemned to imprisonment for life, and his mother, already a widow, was shedding tears of bitterness. ‘Alas!’ said William Farel, ‘her son, who was born after me, has long been in prison, and has greater sorrows to endure than I have.’ The reformer applied to friends in high station to obtain his brother’s release from the king; but the strictness of the prison had only been increased. ‘I know not,’ he said, on the 28th of April, 1534, ‘who has so stirred the fire.... May it please God that the poor prisoner hold firm and declare fearlessly what ought to be said of the good Saviour.’[506] Farel possessed that filial affection which is serious and respectful towards the father, tender and gentle towards the mother. It made him exclaim in his anguish: ‘Alas! the poor widow! O my anguish-stricken mother!’ The love he felt for Christ had increased his natural affections.

De la Maisonneuve, having returned to Geneva after Easter, was about to start again for Lyons. Farel, knowing that his friend, De la Forge, the merchant of Paris, would be going also to that city at this season of the year, gave Baudichon a letter for his Paris brethren, at that time so afflicted, directing his letter to the holy vessel elect of God. ‘Jesus,’ he wrote to this little flock in the capital, ‘is the rock of offence against which the world has fought since the beginning of time, and will always fight; but its efforts are 260vain. No council can withstand God, and if the wicked lift their horns, they shall be broken.’ He then solicited the intercession of the members of the church in behalf of his brother. ‘I pray you,’ he said, ‘speak of my brother in that quarter where you know better than myself that it is expedient to do so. What! a protracted detention, the confiscation of his property, six hundred crowns which the bishop has extracted from him—is not that enough? Oh! that the poor fellow could be set at liberty! All here who fear the Lord entreat you to exert yourselves for him.’[507] The evangelicals of Geneva were interested in the fate of their reformer’s brothers. At the same time Farel wrote also to De la Forge, commending his brother to him, and knowing the perils with which the Parisian merchant was threatened, he added: ‘If we have Jesus, that heavenly treasure cannot be taken from us: let us march onwards, though all the world should rise against Him.’

In treating of our reformers, we naturally bestow attention on their labors, struggles, writings, and trials; it is well, however, to enter sometimes into the inner sanctuary of their hearts and of their domestic lives. We are touched and rejoice to find there such abundance of the most legitimate and tenderest of human affections. They were men as well as Christians. This fact is a proof of the sincerity of their piety; it is like a spring of pure water gushing up on a field of battle, refreshing and reviving those whom so many struggles might have wearied.


(1530 TO 1534.)

Farel, who was so distressed by the long captivity of one of the members of his family, little suspected that a friend, loved by him as a brother, would ere long be in a dungeon. De la Maisonneuve, who traded in all sorts of merchandise, but particularly in silk fabrics, jewellery, and furs, had been in the habit of attending the fairs of Lyons for twenty years, and went there as often as three or four times a year. Of late, the frankness with which he maintained the evangelical doctrines had offended many persons, and thus paved the way for a catastrophe which now seemed inevitable. Courted by the merchants, esteemed by the magistrates, he was, on the other hand, in the bad books of the priests, and the priests were powerful.

The Reliquary.

One day, in the year 1530, when he was at Nuremberg on business, a rich merchant of that city, a sound protestant, who had no love for relics, had given him a valuable reliquary in payment of a debt.[508] As Lyons was noted for its devotion, Baudichon, who cared little for the object and looked at it only as an article of merchandise, thought it might fetch a good price in that city, and happening to go there not long after, offered the little box to a money-changer. He would have done better to have refused it at Nuremberg, but Christian wisdom was then only dawning upon him. The money-changer took up the article and examined it devoutly. On the top was an image of St. James in silver, ‘carefully wrought,’ and weighing about four marks. Underneath was the reliquary: a box of silver 262with a glass allowing the inside to be seen, and some little parchment labels indicating the names of the saints whose relics were contained within. The Lyons money-changer looked with adoration on the precious remains of St. Christopher, St. Syriac, and another. He took off his cap, made a bow to the relics, and kissed them devoutly; and as his wife and children had clustered round him with pious curiosity, he made each of them kiss the sacred remains. Turning to Maisonneuve, he said: ‘Sir Baudichon, I am surprised that you should bring me this relic in such a manner.’ Maisonneuve replied: ‘It is very likely they are the bones of some ordinary body which the priests give the people to kiss to deceive them.’ At these words, an apprentice, of the age of eighteen, a very bigoted youth, left the shop indignant, and sat down on a bench in the street. The changer having paid Baudichon seventy livres tournois for his merchandise, the huguenot departed. But as he was passing in front of the bench, the apprentice, unable to restrain his anger, insulted him. Maisonneuve was content to reply that if he was in Geneva, ‘he would give him relics for nothing.’ This affair began to make Baudichon suspected.[509]

Next year (1531), when Maisonneuve was again at Lyons, and dining at the table-d’hôte of the Coupe d’Or, he met with some merchants from the neighboring provinces, and particularly from Auvergne, whose inhabitants, upright and charitable, but ignorant and vindictive, were distinguished at that time by a credulous devotion, as excessive as it was superstitious. The Genevan did not scruple to declare his religious convictions boldly before them, and the bigoted Auvergnats were much surprised to hear him speak ‘after his manner about the Gospel and faith during all the meal.’ ‘Hold your tongue,’ they said, angrily, ‘if you were in our country, you would be burnt.’[510]

Who Is Petrus?

263A year later (in 1532), also at fair time, De la Maisonneuve, Bournet, a broker to whom he had confided an article of jewellery for sale, Humbert des Oches, and other tradesmen were supping at the table-d’hôte of the Coupe d’Or. It was one of those days on which the Church forbids the eating of meat. Bournet had brought some fish, of which they all partook, and Baudichon among them. This surprised one of the guests, who asked him whether they eat meat at Geneva on fast days. ‘Certainly they do,’ he answered, ‘and if I were in a place where it could be got, I should make no difficulty about it, for God does not forbid it.’—‘The pope and the Church forbid it,’ returned Bournet, sharply. Baudichon declared that he did not acknowledge the pope’s power to forbid what God permits. ‘God said to St. Peter,’ rejoined Bournet, ‘“Whatsoever thou shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven” (Matthew xvi. 19). The pope is now in the place of St. Peter; therefore’....—‘The pope and the priests,’ retorted Maisonneuve, ‘are so far from being like St. Peter, that there are many among them who lead evil lives, and require to be set in order and reformed. The Word of God alone brings grace to the sinner.’ He then began to repeat ‘some passages from the Gospels in the French language,’ selecting those which announce Jesus Christ and the complete pardon he gives. Every Christian who proclaims the Gospel might, he declared, be God’s instrument to liberate souls from sin and condemnation; and then, growing bolder, he exclaimed: ‘I am Petrus; you (turning to Bournet) are Petrus. Every man is Peter, provided he is firm in the faith of Jesus Christ.’ All present were much struck with his observations, and the strange man became still blacker in their eyes.[511]

At the feast of the Epiphany in the year 1533, the brother of Lyonnel Raynaud, priest of the order of St. John of Jerusalem, and Messire Jean Barbier, of the cathedral of Vienne, arrived at the Coupe d’Or, with a clerk in attendance 264upon the latter. They sat down to table with the company. Everybody was speaking at once. One of the guests, however,—and he was usually among those who talked the most,—seemed absorbed in thought. De la Maisonneuve (for it was he) fixed his eyes on the priests of Vienne, and, after a few moments, said to them, ‘Can you explain to me why they put a certain cordelier to death at Vienne a few years ago?’ He alluded to Stephen Renier, of whom we have spoken elsewhere.[512] ‘He was a heretic,’ said Barbier, ‘and had taught endless errors at Annonay and elsewhere.’ De la Maisonneuve boldly undertook his defence. ‘You did wrong to put him to death,’ he said; ‘he was a truly good man, of sound learning, and one likely to produce great fruits.’ The strife began immediately. Baudichon affirmed that we were not required to keep the commandments of the Church, but only those of God; while the priest tried with all his might to prove that Baudichon was wrong. The Genevan grew more animated, and spoke with great boldness. This new kind of tournament absorbed all attention: the guests left off eating and drinking, fixed their eyes on the two champions, and opened their ears wide. A merchant of Vienne, one Master Simon de Montverban, an acquaintance of Baudichon’s, and whom the latter had often soundly beaten, observed to him: ‘You have found a man at last to answer you.’ But the Genevan replied so forcibly to the arguments of the Viennese, and the contest became so animated, that the three priests, suddenly rising from table, quitted the room hastily, and went into a separate chamber. ‘If this man were at Vienne,’ said Barbier, ‘I would have him sent to prison.’ The prison and the stake which followed it were safer arms than discussion.[513]

Hostility To Baudichon.

De la Maisonneuve, having returned to Lyons for the fairs of Easter and of August, met a considerable number of 265merchants at the Coupe d’Or, and immediately undertook to enlighten them, feeling that language was given for such purposes; but, as he feared also that his scattered remarks, if not followed up, would be insufficient to correct the tardiness of certain men, he determined to make use of various stimulants. Accordingly, he spared neither toil nor weariness. Simon de Montverban, who was there again, was struck with his zeal, and complained of it. ‘Whenever the merchants take their meals,’ he said, ‘whenever he meets them in the common hall, when they come in or go out, everywhere and always, Baudichon gets talking and disputing about the Gospel.’ No longer confining himself to questions of fasting or images, he went straight to what was essential: he put forward Scripture as the fountain of truth, and declared that every sinner, even the greatest, was saved through uniting himself by faith to Jesus Christ. People censured him in vain. In vain did two merchants, one named Arcon and the other Hugues, repeat to every body and to Baudichon himself that, if he was in their country, he would be burnt; the latter, who did not doubt them, continued his arguments. Lyons was a free city during the fair, and he took advantage of it to make the pure Gospel known. Simon de Montverban complained to the Genevan huguenot’s brother-in-law, an ardent papist, who made answer: ‘I wish that Baudichon had died ten years ago; he is the cause of all the troubles at Geneva.’[514]

De la Maisonneuve was again at Lyons at the feasts of All Saints (November, 1533) and Epiphany (1534). One evening, when a numerous company was supping at the inn, the conversation turned on the religious circumstances of the times. After listening a while, he exclaimed: ‘It is nonsense to pray to the saints, to hear mass, and confess to the priests!’ and proceeded to quote the Gospels and the Apostles to prove what he said. ‘In our country,’ again asserted some who heard him, ‘at Avignon, at Clermont you would be sent to the stake!’ It was the burden of the 266old song, and they were only surprised that he was not burnt at Lyons. De la Maisonneuve, knowing well that it was out of their Roman piety that they wished to burn him, was content to smile. But his calmness excited the wrath of his fellow-guests. The merchants of Auvergne rose from the table in a fit of anger, and, addressing the hostess, desired she would not receive Maisonneuve in future. ‘If we find him here when we come again,’ they said, ‘we shall go and lodge elsewhere.’ The landlady promised the Auvergnats not to receive him in future.[515]

The Easter fair of 1534 was drawing near, and as it was the most considerable in the year, Maisonneuve did not want to miss it. But circumstances had become more threatening and rendered the journey dangerous. There were, as we have seen, in the castle of Peney on the Lyons road, and other strong places, traitors who had fled from Geneva, and carried off all the Genevans they could lay hands on. Baudichon’s friends wished him to put off this journey. ‘The fair is free (franche) to every one,’ he answered. ‘Ay!’ said Froment, ‘under the papacy there are many franchises for thieves, robbers, and murderers; but for the evangelicals all the liberties, franchises, and promises of princes are broken.’[516] Maisonneuve knew this well, yet he was not a man to be frightened. The report of his intentions having gone abroad, certain traitors (as Froment terms the fanatical partisans of the bishop and pope) hastened to give their Lyons friends notice of Baudichon’s approaching arrival, conjuring them to get him put to death. ‘He was spied and recommended to their care.’[517]

De la Maisonneuve, bearing Farel’s letters, started from Geneva in the morning of the 25th of April, and arrived at Lyons on the 26th, having no suspicion that his enemies were waiting for him and preparing his scaffold. He had with him Janin the armorer, his aide-de-camp in religious 267matters, who had supplied himself with evangelical books printed at Neufchatel to circulate them in Lyons. Baudichon, as usual, had alighted at the Coupe d’Or near St. Pierre-les-Nonnains, and was cordially received by the landlady notwithstanding the promise she had made the Auvergnats some months before. Janin stopped there also, and stored his evangelical books away in the room that had been assigned him.

The next day there was a great disturbance at the inn. The merchants had arrived from Auvergne, and one of the first persons they saw was the famous heretic!... The color rushed to their cheeks, and they had words with the hostess because she did not keep her promise. That they did not content themselves with mere words, is clear from events which followed. The bigots of France wished to share with the bigots of Geneva the honor of putting to death the captain of the Lutherans.[518]

Maisonneuve immediately began to look after Étienne de la Forge, in order to hand him the reformer’s letters; but on going to his house in the Place de l’Herberie, he learnt, to his great disappointment, that the Parisian merchant had not yet arrived.

Baudichon And Janin Arrested.

The enemies of the Reformation lost no time. Informations were sworn against Maisonneuve on the 27th of April, the day after his arrival, and the following morning, the 28th, the officers of justice arrested him and his friend Janin ‘by authority of the seneschal’s court of Lyons,’ and shut him up in the king’s prison. But this was not what the priests wanted. ‘These two men,’ they said, ‘being charged with offences against our holy faith, the interest of the king our lord, and the common weal, we demand that they be sent to the prison of the archiepiscopal see, and that they be tried before the ecclesiastical judges.’[519] The two prisoners were accordingly transferred to the archbishop’s prison. The great huguenot saw that he had fallen into a trap, and prepared to meet his enemies.

268There was great agitation in the episcopal palace. That church of Lyons which had been the church of the primate of all the Gauls—of which thirty bishops had been canonized—which had supplied so many cardinals, legates, statesmen, and ambassadors—whose chapter, consisting of seventy canons, had included the sons of emperors, kings, and dukes among their number, and of which the kings of France were honorary canons—that church was about to have the glory of trying and putting to death the layman who was Farel’s right arm, as Jerome of Prague had been that of John Huss. All its dignitaries—the deans, chamberlains, wardens, provosts, knights, theologians, and school-men—all were talking of this fortunate circumstance. The clergy of the metropolitan church of St. John the Baptist, in particular, took an active part in the business, and the walls of that vast Gothic building echoed to the oft-repeated name of the captain of the Lutherans. On the 29th of April the members of the inquisitional court assembled in the hall of justice of the episcopal prison, and, wearing their robes of office, took their seats on the judicial benches. They were Stephen Faye, official of the primacy, and Benedict Buatier, ordinary official of Lyons,—both of them vicars-general of the primate of France. The third judge was John Gauteret, inquisitor of ‘heretical pravity.’ Ami Ponchon, notary public, was to act as secretary;[520] and Claude Bellièvre, king’s advocate, was to aid them by his presence. The court being thus formed, they summoned before them Baudichon de la Maisonneuve, who declared his name, age (forty-six years), and condition, and the trial began.[521]


(From 29th of April to 21st of May, 1534.)

The Examination.

The tribunal of priests wished to mark distinctly at the very outset that the Romish doctrine was in question: it was necessary to proclaim anew that in instanti, at the very moment, at the priest’s word, there was no longer in the host either bread or wine, but only the body and blood of the Saviour. ‘What do you think of the sacrament of the altar?’ was the first question put by the court to Maisonneuve. He rejected the Roman error; but his protestantism, as we have seen, came from Germany, and the Lutherans taught that ‘in the sacrament of the altar, in the bread and wine, were the true body, the true blood of Christ;’[522] and as, according to the Lutheran doctrine, the presence was spiritual, supernatural, and heavenly,[523] Maisonneuve, who professed this faith and had taken the sacrament at Frankfort in the Lutheran church, answered: ‘I believe that the real body of Christ is in the blessed host,’[524] but knowing the axiom of jurisprudence, that no accused person is bound to criminate himself, he would not declare his faith more precisely.

If this doctrine interested the court, the connection of the accused with the chiefs of what they called heresy had also a great importance in their eyes, and a doctor well known in France had given them great umbrage. ‘Do you know Pharellus?’ they asked Maisonneuve, who calmly replied: 270‘He is from Dauphiny; he was brought to Geneva by my lords of Berne; and when I hear him, I believe as much of his sermons as seems right, and no more.’ These two answers might have led some to hope that they would exercise clemency towards the accused; but such was not the intention of the canons of St. John. The court declared that the witnesses would be examined on the following day. They were all to be for the prosecution; they might invent, add, or exaggerate, and the prisoner would not have it in his power to produce any witnesses for the defence.

The first who gave evidence was a young working-man, twenty-two years of age, by name Philip Martin, and by trade a weaver. ‘I lived three years in the city of Geneva,’ he said, ‘and during that time the Lutheran sect multiplied exceedingly. I witnessed many armed assemblies and riots, papists against evangelists, by day as well as by night. Among the most prominent of the Lutheran party was Baudichon, and after him Jean Philippe, Jean Golaz, Ami Perrin, who commonly were present at the armed meetings, directing everything and providing for the expenses. About a year ago a canon named Wernli was run through the body; Baudichon was there, armed and wearing a cuirass.’[525] De la Maisonneuve calmly interrupted him: ‘The witness does not speak the truth. When the canon was wounded, I was in this very city of Lyons. I therefore charge him with perjury, and desire that he be taken into custody.’ Martin had borne false witness; this all who knew Maisonneuve at Geneva and Lyons could declare. It was a bad beginning.

On the first of May a fanatical youth, named Pierre, brother of the two Pennets, who had been condemned for assassinating a citizen and conspiring against the liberties of the city, gave his evidence. ‘Baudichon entirely supports this Lutheran sect,’ he said; ‘he is their captain. One day last year he assembled all the Lutherans and armed them to plunder the churches, which ended in the death of four persons 271sons and the wounding of many others.’[526] This also was false: Vandel, a huguenot, had been wounded in a riot got up by the priests; but there had been no deaths. ‘The witness hates me,’ said Maisonneuve, ‘because one of his brothers was executed by judicial authority.’—‘Baudichon,’ continued Pennet, in greater excitement, ‘instead of fearing the syndics, constrains them to humble themselves before him.’—‘I submit to lose my head,’ exclaimed Maisonneuve, ‘in case the syndics declare that I have ever done them any displeasure.’[527] The court rose.

Emotion At Geneva.

All this time Geneva was greatly agitated: the news of Baudichon’s arrest had caused uneasiness among his friends. Men spoke about it ‘in the city and in the fields,’ everywhere, in short. When friends met one another, they asked: ‘Have you heard that Baudichon has been brought before the archiepiscopal court of Lyons for being a Lutheran?’ The devout (if we may use the words of the manuscript) ‘consigned him to Satan, as being the principal cause of heresy in Geneva;’[528] while the huguenots, agitated and alarmed at the dangers that threatened their friend, considered what was to be done. They determined to act immediately and simultaneously at Lyons, Berne, and even at Paris, if they could. Thomas, Baudichon’s brother, started for Lyons at once, and asked for an audience with Monseigneur du Peyrat, the king’s Lieutenant-general. ‘For what reason,’ he said, ‘and by what authority has my brother, Baudichon de la Maisonneuve, been sent to prison?’—‘I do not detain him,’ answered du Peyrat; ‘apply to the vicars general.’ Thomas, learning that his brother was in the hands of the priests, and his danger therefore greater, resolved to make every effort to save him.

Thomas and the Genevans were not the only persons interested in this matter. Baudichon’s imprisonment was an attack upon the rights of the foreign merchants, and compromised the fairs at Lyons. What German Lutheran 272would come there in future? The inhabitants, especially the innkeepers, tradespeople, and merchants, foresaw great pecuniary loss, and the princes of commerce felt the injury done to one of their number. There was, consequently, a great commotion in the city, and many merchants, ‘as well of the city as foreigners,’ determining to complain of it, proceeded to the consulate (or town-council), to whom they represented, ‘with much grief,’[529] that the imprisonment of Baudichon de la Maisonneuve was an infringement of the privileges of the fairs; and that many merchants had to receive from him certain sums which it was impossible for him to pay now, because he could not collect the money which other merchants owed him. ‘We pray you, therefore,’ they said, in conclusion, ‘not to suffer our privileges to be violated.’—‘Release my brother, à pur et à plein, without reserve,’ added Thomas de la Maisonneuve. Four of the consuls seconded the remonstrance.[530] The municipality resolved that Jean de la Bessie, procurator-general of Lyons, and one councillor should demand Baudichon’s liberation of the inquisitional court. ‘My brother,’ said Thomas, ‘is a burgess of Berne and of Friburg, and by virtue of the treaties between the king and the lords of the League, he cannot be made a prisoner in this kingdom.’[531] The priests were determined to pay no regard to the request of the magistrates: a serious incident roused them from their listlessness.

Bernese Intervention.

A despatch had just arrived, addressed to Monseigneur the king’s lieutenant-general: it was from the lords of Berne. The lieutenant-general knew well the value of Swiss intervention. Had not four hundred of them, at the battle of Sesia, after Bayard’s death, checked, by their impetuosity and the sacrifice of their lives, the army of the allies? Monseigneur du Peyrat determined, therefore, to support the prayer of the Bernese, and gave the city secretary 273the necessary instructions. The effect of the despatch was still greater upon Thomas de la Maisonneuve. Now there could be no more delays! Impatient to see his brother at liberty, imagining that he would succeed better by hurrying the affair, he would not wait a day or an hour. He should have considered that haste increases the chances of failure, and that the impatient man compromises both his character and his cause; but he could see nothing but Baudichon’s sufferings and the injury done to the Genevese reformation by his captivity. He was no longer master of himself: he wanted that very instant to deliver his brother from the jaws of the lion. ‘Set him free immediately,’ he said, ‘so that we may be able to answer the lords of Berne by the courier who is ready to return.’ The vicars-general answered curtly: ‘We are in course to order it, as is right.’[532] This cold formula appeared of evil omen to Thomas, and from that hour his fears increased.

On the other hand, Baudichon, informed of what was going on, took courage; and the judges, fully aware that it would not do to condemn on suspicious evidence a man who had such powerful supporters, determined to entice Maisonneuve craftily into some heretical declaration.

On the 5th of May the sergeants once more brought in their prisoner. ‘What are your opinions in regard to faith?’ asked the court. De la Maisonneuve answered: ‘I am a good Christian; if you do not think so, deliver me over to my superiors (the magistrates of Geneva) to examine me.’ But instead of doing so, the vicars-general tried to induce him to explain his ideas on the subject of transubstantiation, feeling sure of catching him in an error. The prisoner only replied: ‘I am not bound to answer you.’ The court tried in vain to induce him to speak: ‘I will not make any reply,’ he repeated. They read to him Janin’s answer on the sacrament, which was (it would appear) very shocking to Roman ears, and asked him what he thought of it; but Baudichon did not fall into the snare. ‘I am no judge,’ he 274said, ‘and it is not my business to decide whether the answer is good or bad.’[533] Then taking the offensive, he added: ‘If Frenchmen were imprisoned at Geneva for cases analogous to mine, would you be pleased?’—‘You have Pharellus and other Frenchmen there,’ answered the judges, ‘and have not surrendered them to the king.’ The officials of Lyons complained to the man whom they kept in prison because people were left at liberty in Geneva. Baudichon retorted proudly: ‘Ours is a free city,’ and withdrew.[534] ‘They set their traps in vain,’ said a reformer, speaking of the attacks of the papacy. ‘God has victories abundantly in his hands to triumph over them and their chief.’[535]

The judges were greatly embarrassed: they desired, not to release Maisonneuve, but (as he had often been told) to burn him; and yet, as it was impossible for them not to reply, at least by some formalities, to such high and mighty lords as Messieurs of Berne, they gave a certain solemnity to their answer. On Wednesday, the 6th of May, the officials, vicars-episcopal, inquisitors, and other ecclesiastical dignitaries, took their seats in front of the main door of the archiepiscopal palace. In public and in the open air they were about to hear the demand of the Swiss, supported by the lieutenant-general of the king. The city clerk, delegated by the councillors of Lyons, set forth the contents of the letters from Berne, and at the same time Thomas de la Maisonneuve presented two substantial merchants of the city as bail for his brother.[536] The cause of the Genevese prisoner was growing in importance: a sovereign state, which the king had every reason to treat courteously, had taken up his defence; the trial was becoming an international matter. The court knew that Francis I. was susceptible, and that it was dangerous to thwart him, as he had shown in the case of Beda. After full examination, therefore, 275they decreed that they ‘would amply inform the king our sire, in order that he may make known his good pleasure, and until his answer arrives, the said Baudichon shall not be liberated; at the same time, he shall be permitted, on account of his business, to speak with those who have dealings with him, in the presence of the jailers of the archiepiscopal prison, who are enjoined to treat him well and discreetly, according to his station.’[537]


Two points were gained; Baudichon was to be treated like a prisoner of mark, and his case was to be laid before the king. The memory of the estrapades of Paris was too recent for the evangelicals to entertain very lively hopes: it was, however, a gleam of light. The judges themselves, feeling that the matter was becoming difficult and success doubtful, undertook to obtain a recantation from Baudichon, which would, besides, be more glorious for Rome (they thought) than a sentence of death. On the 21st of May, therefore, the court having called to their aid two inquisitors skilful in controversy, Nicholas Morini and Jean Rapinati, summoned Maisonneuve before them; when Father Morini endeavored to prove to him out of Scripture the material presence of Christ in the Sacrament. Baudichon understood the passages quoted differently from the doctors. Refusing to stop at the material substance, the flesh (as they did, and also the people of Capernaum who are blamed in the Gospel), he held to our Saviour’s words: It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.[538]—‘I understand these words as well as you, and better, but I will not enter into any discussion. I am not bound to answer inquisitors.’[539] The court, provoked by these refusals, resolved to put the grand question to him: ‘Do you yield obedience to our holy father the pope of Rome?’ To the great disappointment of the vicars-general and inquisitors, he simply replied: ‘I am not bound to 276answer.’—‘We are your judges in this matter,’ they exclaimed with irritation; ‘we order and summon you to answer.’[540] But he would not; and then, recovering from their emotion, they tried to surprise him by an insidious question.

Alexander, who had preached the Gospel at Lyons with such energy, had just been thrown into prison. If De la Maisonneuve acknowledged him for his friend, they might easily class them together. The judges therefore asked him insidiously, ‘whether Jacques de la Croix, alias Alexander, had not in former times eaten and drunk at his house?’—‘If he has eaten and drunk at my house,’ responded Baudichon, ‘I hope it did him good.’ And that was all. It was impossible to make the prisoner fall into the trap: his good sense foiled all the plots of his adversaries.

Thus did the judges hunt down an innocent man. At that time men set themselves up between God and the soul of man. This was not only an outrage upon human liberty, it was high-treason against Heaven. Such a grave consideration imparts a tragic interest to this trial, and encourages us conscientiously to reproduce all its painful phases. The judge has no concern with the relations of the soul with its Creator. ‘The dominion of man ends where that of God begins.’[541] God does not give his glory to another. Whoever desires to exercise authority over the conscience is a madman; nay, more, he is an atheist. He presumes to move God from his throne and sit in his place.


(May to July 1534.)

Morality In The Reformation.

While they were prosecuting Maisonneuve on the banks of the Rhone and the Saône, the struggle between catholicism and reform became more active on the shores of Lake Leman: an evangelical was threatened with death at Lyons, but Roman-catholicism was on the point of expiring at Geneva. It was crumbling away beneath its own weight: the religious orders, and especially the Franciscans, which had been founded to support it, were now shaking its foundations. Notorious abuses and scandalous disorders were making the protest against monkery and popery more necessary every day. At the very moment when the trial was beginning at Lyons (3d of May), an honorable lady of Geneva, Madam Jaquemette Matonnier, passing near the Franciscan convent, observed a woman noted for her disorderly life stealthily entering the building. ‘It would be better for you,’ she said, ‘to stay with your husband.’ At these words, two monks who were standing at the door rushed violently upon Madame Matonnier and beat her until the blood came. This incident, which soon became known, aroused the whole city. The syndics went to the convent, shut up the two monks in the prison, and took away the key. ‘Men who live in convents,’ said the people, ‘ought not to be stained with such depravity; and yet it is hard to find one monastery out of ten that is not a den of wantonness rather than the home of chastity.’

Sin begat death. The Romish clergy destroyed themselves by the abominable manners of a great number of their members. But better times were beginning; morality 278was springing, in company with faith, from the tomb in which they had been buried so long, and were spreading through Christendom the potent germs of a new life. A sad spectacle was that presented by the Church at the beginning of the sixteenth century! There were magnificent cathedrals, wealthy pontiffs, sumptuous rites, admirable paintings, and harmonious chants; but in the midst of all these pomps yawned an immense void: faith and life were wanting. Religion was at that time like those winter trees whose frost-covered branches glitter with a certain brightness under the rays of the sun, but are all frozen. A new season was beginning, which, by bringing back the sap into their sterile branches, would cover them with rich foliage and make them produce savory fruit. We do not say, as an eminent Christian has said, that the reaction of morality against formalism is the great fact of the Reformation, its glory and its appropriate title. Such an assertion omits one essential element. The grand title of the Reformation is to have restored to Christendom religion in its entirety, the truth with the life, doctrine with morality. If one had been wanting, the other would not have sufficed, and the Reformation would hot have existed.

While Roman-catholicism was falling lower through the disorders of the monks, evangelical Christianity was rising through the zeal of the reformers. Farel, Viret, and Froment preached every day, either publicly or in private houses, ‘to the great advancement of the Word of God, which increased much.’ The Reformation was no longer a mere teaching; it entered into the manners and worship, and produced life. On the Sunday after Easter, Farel gave his blessing to the first evangelical marriage.

A Savoyard Procession.

When sincere catholics, and even those who were not so, saw these strange contrasts, they imagined that the last hour of the papacy in Geneva had arrived. A final effort must be made, but unfortunately the remedies employed were not much better than the disease. One day a report spread instantaneously through the whole city that the 279Blessed Virgin, arrayed in white robes, had appeared to the curate in the church of St. Leger, and ordered a grand procession of all the surrounding districts. She added that if this were done, ‘the Lutherans would all burst in the middle: but if the order was not obeyed, the city would be swallowed up.’[542] The huguenots smiled, inquired into the matter, and at the end of authentic investigations, discovered that the fine lady was the curate’s housemaid. But many catholics in Geneva, and almost all in Savoy, were convinced of the reality of the apparition. The clergy mustered their forces. ‘It depends upon you,’ they said in many places, ‘to put all the heretics in Geneva to death.’ The devotees of the neighboring parishes began to stir in this pious work, and on the 15th of May a long procession of men, women, and children arrived before the city. They were heard singing lustily in the Savoyard tongue—

Mare de Dy, pryy pou nous!
(Mother of God, pray for us!)

The Council, fearing a disturbance, would not let them enter, and they had to be content with going to Our Lady of Grace, near the Arve bridge. As the poor people had eaten nothing on the road, and were exhausted, the syndics sent them bread; and after taking some refreshments, the assemblage turned homewards. Many Genevese, anxious to see them close, went out of the city, and collected on their road, and as the Savoyards passed before them singing Mare de Dy, pryy pou nous! the bantering huguenots answered to the same tune: Frare Farel, pregy toujours! Brother Farel, preach forever![543]

All was not over: the story of the apparition of the Virgin and of her commandment having reached as far as the capital of the Chablais, the heights of Cologny were soon crowned by a numerous and compact procession, in appearance 280more formidable than the first: it was the men of Thonon and the adjoining places, who, carrying banners, crosses, and relics, were descending the hill with a firm step. The stalwart pilgrims boldly passed the gates of the city, the huguenots, who were listening to Farel, not being there to prevent them; and on reaching the Bourg de Four, halted before the church of St. Claire. The alarm spread immediately: some citizens entering the auditory where Farel was preaching, announced this Romish invasion. The reformer did not disturb himself; but some of his hearers, the fiery Perrin, the energetic Goulaz, and others, went out, and, charging the head of the procession, drove back at the point of the sword the Savoyards who had entered Geneva as if it were a village of the Chablais. The startled pilgrims threw away their banners with affright, and fled from the city. Froment supposes that as the enemy from within had not had time to join with those from without, the plot had failed; but we rather believe that these devout pilgrims calculated only on their litanies in their war against the Lutherans. Those processions, those banners of the Virgin, those paltry relics, inspired the reformed with a still deeper disgust for Roman-catholicism: even the pomps of St. Pierre’s touched them little more than the fetichism of the Savoyards. They were beginning to understand that public worship ought not to be a spectacle, and that to burden the Church with a multitude of rites is to rob her of the presence of Christ.

The Images Destroyed.

The audacity displayed by these catholic bands emboldened some of the huguenots. If Savoyards came to strengthen their faith in Geneva, ought they to hesitate to show theirs? Some hot-headed members of the Reform permitted themselves to be carried away to the committal of reprehensible acts. Whenever they went to the Franciscan cloister, the first object that struck their eyes was the image of St. Anthony of Padua, a miracle-monger of the thirteenth century, having eight other saints on each side of it. These pious figures, ranged over the convent gate, 281irritated the huguenots. It was vain to tell them that pictures are the books of the ignorant: the reformers answered that if the catholic prelates left the duty of teaching the people to idols, they would prefer remaining at home in their chairs. ‘If you had not taken the Bible from the Church,’ said the huguenots, ‘you would have had no necessity to hang up your paintings.’ Accordingly, between eleven and twelve o’clock one Saturday night, nine men carrying a ladder approached the convent, raised it silently against the porch, and then, with hammers and chisels, began to destroy the images. They cut off the head and limbs of the saint, leaving only his trunk; they did the same to the others, and threw the fragments into the well of St. Clair. The night passed without any disturbance, but in the morning there was a great uproar in the city. ‘What a piteous sight!’ said the devout assembled before the porch of St. Francis. The iconoclasts, who were discovered after a little time, were punished, but the images were not restored.

‘Alas!’ said the Friburgers, ‘Geneva is about to pull down the altars of the Romish faith!’—‘It is,’ answered the Bernese, ‘because upon these very altars the bishop desired to burn the venerable charters of her people, and has sprinkled them with the blood of her most illustrious citizens.’[544]... Sensuous worship no longer pleased the Genevans. Those labored pictures, those sculptured angels, those dazzling decorations, that charm of ceremonies and edifices, those shafts and pediments, those unintelligible chants, those intoxicating perfumes, those mechanical performances of the priests, with their gold and lace—all these things disgusted them exceedingly. Since God is a spirit, they said, those who worship him must worship him in spirit, by the inward faith of the heart, by purity of conscience, and by offering themselves to God to do his will.

282The hour had come when this spiritual worship was to be really celebrated in Geneva: the Feast of Pentecost had arrived. On that day a large crowd had assembled in the Great Auditory. It was not only such as Vandel, Chautemps, Roset, Levet, with their wives and friends, who resorted thither, but new hearers were added to the old ones. Farel preached with fervor. He was accustomed to say that ‘God sends rain upon one city when he pleases, while another city has not a single drop;’ and therefore he conjured ‘all hearts thirsting with desire for the preaching of the Gospel’[545] to pray that the Spirit might be given them. We have not his Whitsunday sermon, he preached extempore; but we know that he ended it by giving glory to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, the only true God, and that his discourse bore good fruit. Several circumstances had prepared his audience. The plot of the bishop and the duke which God had frustrated, the nomination of the huguenot syndics, the rupture with Friburg, Maisonneuve’s imprisonment—all these events had stirred their hearts, had cleft them as the ploughshare cleaves the earth, and opened them to the seed from heaven. What now shone before the eyes of those who filled the Grand Auditory ‘were not the petty flames of human candles, but Christ, the great sun of righteousness, as if at noonday.’[546] While the priests were chanting words that sounded only in the air, the voice of the reformer had penetrated to the very bottom of men’s hearts. The proof was soon visible.


When the sermon was over, Farel prepared to celebrate the Lord’s Supper publicly, according to the Gospel form, and, standing with his brethren Viret and Froment before a table, he gave thanks, took the bread, broke it, and said: ‘Take, eat;’ and then, lifting up the cup, he added: ‘This is the blood of the New Testament, which 283is shed for the remission of sins.’ The believers were beginning to draw near to receive the communion of the Lord,[547] when an unexpected circumstance fixed their attention. A priest of noble stature, wearing his sacerdotal robes, left the place where he had been sitting among the congregation, and approached the table. It was Louis Bernard, one of the twelve habilités of the cathedral, possessor of a wealthy benefice, and brother of him who had been touched at the time of Farel’s first preaching. Was he going to say mass? did he want to dispute with Farel? or had he been converted? All were anxious to see what would happen. The priest went up to the table, and then, to the general surprise, he took off his sacerdotal vestments, flung away cope, alb, and stole, and said aloud: ‘I throw off the old man, and declare myself a prisoner to the Gospel of the Lord.’[548] Then, turning to the reformers and their friends, he said: ‘Brethren, I will live and die with you for Jesus Christ’s sake.’ All imagined they saw a miracle;[549] their hearts were touched. Farel received Bernard like a brother; he broke bread with him, gave him the cup, and, eating of the same morsel, the two adversaries thus signified that they would in future love one another ‘with a sincere and pure affection.’ The priest was not the only person who threw off the foul robes of his ancient life, and put on the white robe of the Lord. Many Genevans from that day began to think and live differently from their fathers; but Louis Bernard was a striking type of that transformation, and the crowd, as they quitted the church, could not keep their eyes off him. They saw him returning full of peace and joy to his father’s house, wearing a Spanish cape instead of the usual priest’s hood. All the evangelicals,—‘men, 284women, and children,—went with great joy to greet him and make their reverence.’[550]

Another circumstance, quite as extraordinary, still further increased the beauty of this festival. During the rejoicings of that first evangelical Pentecost, a knight of Rhodes came to Geneva in search of liberty of faith. A knight of Rhodes was a strange visitor in that city. It was known confusedly that those warlike monks, instituted to defend the pilgrims in the Holy Land, had been expelled from Jerusalem by Soliman, and had finally settled in Malta. But why should this one come to Geneva? The ex-knight, whose name was Pierre Gaudet, related how, being born at St. Cloud, near Paris, he had heard the Gospel, and that, having chosen for his glory the cross of the Son of God, he held the world in contempt. The scandal he had thus occasioned had forced him to flee. Having an uncle living about a league from Geneva—the commander of Compesières—he had taken refuge with him; but feeling the need of Christian communion, he had come to his brethren that he might enjoy it. The huguenots received him like a friend. That city which had seen in Berthelier and Lévrier the martyrs of liberty, was to have in Gaudet the first martyr of the Gospel.[551]

Old And New Manners.

While the Word of God was forming new manners, the contrast of the old manners asserted itself more boldly. The people of the lower classes—men and women, youths and maidens—danced, according to custom, in the public square on the evening of Whitsunday. The tabarins played their music in the streets, and merry-andrews made the people laugh. The women of St. Gervais, disguised and carrying bunches of box, set the example to those of the other quarters. The young men united with them, and the joyous troops paraded the streets in long files, singing, capering, and sometimes attacking the passers-by. George Marchand, 285a huguenot no doubt, who was very ready with his hands, being caught hold of by a woman who wanted to make him dance with her, gave her a slap on the face. There was a fierce disturbance; and the Council consequently forbade these dancing promenades, and ordered that every one should be content ‘to dance before his own house:’ and this was surely enough. From that time such idle processions were not repeated. While the catholic common people were indulging in wanton sports, not perceiving that they were dancing round the open grave of Roman-catholicism, the evangelicals increased in zeal and faith to extend the teaching of the Word of God; and a gentler and more Christian life was about to be naturalized in that small but important city. The Whitsuntide procession of 1534, with its coarse jests, was, in Geneva, the funeral procession of popery.[552]

Indeed, the laity were then learning better things than those which the monks had taught them. It was not the ministers alone who labored; simple believers practiced the ministry of charity. If there chanced to be in any house a man ‘very rebellious,’ opposing the doctrine of Scripture, his friends, neighbors, and relations, who had tasted of its excellence, would go to him, and without offending him, without returning him evil for evil, ‘admonish him with great mildness.’ The evangelicals invited certain of their friends, even strangers and enemies, to their houses to eat and drink, in order that they might speak more familiarly with them. All their study was ‘to gain some one to the Word.’[553]

In the neighboring countries, in Savoy, Gex, Vaud, and the Chablais, not only did the enemies of Geneva use threats, but made preparations to attack it. There was much talk in the city of the assaults that were to be made by the forains, the aliens; and accordingly there was always a number of citizens kept under arms. Farel, Viret, and 286Froment often joined these soldiers of the republic during their night-watches, and, sitting near the gates of the city or on the ramparts, by the glare of the bivouac fires or the torches, they would converse together about the truth, questioning and answering one another. ‘Each man familiarly and freely objected and replied to what the preacher said;’ and sometimes before they left their posts, the citizens were resolved in heart upon religious points about which they had hitherto been in doubt. Not without reason are these ‘conversations of the bivouac’ recorded here. In later times, one of the evangelists of Geneva, calling to mind the nocturnal meetings he had held at the military posts, exclaimed: ‘At these assemblies and watches more people have been won to the Gospel than by public preaching.’[554]

(May to June 1534.)

Discussion In The Garden.

In the midst of these dangers and struggles the Huguenots were not to be consoled for the imprisonment of Maisonneuve. So long as the intrepid captain of the Lutherans was threatened with extreme punishment, the triumph of the evangelicals could not be complete. They feared generally a fatal termination, for Baudichon and Janin, far from yielding anything to their adversaries, were boldly spreading the knowledge of the Gospel in their prison. Janin was as much at his ease as if he had been in the streets of Geneva: at the jailer’s table, in the halls and galleries 287and elsewhere, the armorer argued about the faith. One day, meeting Jacques Desvaux, a priest of the diocese of Le Mans, Janin took him to task and tried to convert him to the Gospel. He spoke to him of the apostles and the saints, and showed him how they had always taught doctrines opposed to those of Rome. He did more. A garden was attached to the prison, and the prisoners were allowed to walk in it at certain hours. One day, shortly before the festival of the Rogations, Janin went into it, taking a French Testament with him, and began to read it. When he had done he left the book, not unintentionally, on a low wall, and went away. A priest named Delay (there was no lack of ecclesiastics in the archiepiscopal prison) passing near, observed the book, took it up, and, opening it, read: The New Testament. A Testament in French! Delay began to examine it: a number of prisoners, priests and others, gathered round him; he turned over the pages in search of the First Epistle of St. John, ‘because on that day the Church mentioned it,’ but could not find it.[555]

From the place in the garden to which he had retired, Janin saw Delay looking for something. Going up to him, the Genevese asked what he wanted. On being told, he took the book, immediately found the epistle (those laymen of Geneva knew their Bible better than the priests), and began to read the first chapter aloud, dwelling upon the words: The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. He stopped, and addressing the prisoners, explained the words, and drew their attention to two doctrines which, he said, can never be made to harmonize: that of the Bible, according to which we are cleansed by the blood of Christ; and that of Rome, according to which we are cleansed by meritorious works. ‘You explain the passage wrongly,’ exclaimed some of his hearers: ‘we must not follow the letter, but the moral meaning.’ It is an argument we have seen revived in more recent times. ‘You cannot understand 288that epistle,’ said a priest, ‘since you are obliged to read it in French.’—‘Surely I must read it in my own language,’ answered Janin, ‘for I do not understand Latin. God commanded his apostles to preach the Gospel to all creatures, and therefore in all languages.’—‘That is true,’ answered the priests: ‘prædicate Evangelium omni creaturæ; but it is also true that all good Christians draw near our mother, the Holy Church, to hear Scripture explained by the mouths of priests and doctors who, in this world, hold the place of the apostles.’ Janin, who, though honoring the special ministry of the Word, firmly believed in the universal priesthood taught by St. Peter,[556] exclaimed boldly: ‘I am just as much a priest as any man, and can give absolution. God has made us all priests. I can pronounce the sacramental words, like the other priests.’ And, if we are to believe his accusers, he added: ‘You may even utter them in the house, in the kitchen.’ He then began to repeat aloud: Hoc est corpus meum.[557] Janin was one of those daring spirits who imagine that the more they startle their hearers, the more good they do. Still, the ministers, Farel and Viret, had no warmer friend.

The prisoners who listened to him, wishing, perhaps, to prolong a discussion that amused them, started the huguenot again. ‘The Virgin Mary,’ began one. Janin, interrupting him, said: ‘The Virgin Mary was the noblest woman that ever existed in the world, inasmuch as she bore in her bosom Him who has washed us from our sins. But we must not pray to her or to the saints in paradise.’—‘And prayers for the dead,’ suggested another.—‘There is no need of them,’ said the armorer, ‘for as soon as we are dead, we are saved or condemned for everlasting, and there is no purgatory.’[558]

Rogation Festival.

On Monday, the 11th of May, the festival of the Rogations 289afforded the prisoners a spectacle calculated to break the uniformity of their lives. They proceeded to the garden, and presently a noisy crowd gave indications of the grand procession, which was now returning to St. John’s church, adjoining the archiepiscopal prison, whence it had started. The priests went first, with crosses and banners, reciting prayers or singing hymns; after them came the people. De la Maisonneuve and Janin said that such a ceremony was an abuse, and that it would have been far better to have given to the poor the money which those fine banners had cost. The procession having at last reëntered the church of St. John, the singing, shouting, and noise became insupportable, even in the garden. Baudichon, according to the evidence of one of his accusers, withdrew, saying: ‘Those people must be fools and madmen, or do they imagine that God is deaf?’[559]

The next day the festival continued, and just as the prisoners were going to dinner, the noise of singing was heard. It was a new procession. ‘Where do they come from?’ asked Maisonneuve. The jailer’s wife answered: ‘From the church of St. Cler.’ ‘And what have they been doing there?’ said Baudichon; ‘have they been looking for St. Cler? They will not find him or God either, for they are in Paradise; and it is great nonsense to look for them elsewhere.’[560]

On the 28th of May, the depositions made by the prisoners with reference to the language used on the Rogation days were read. ‘I would sooner be torn in pieces,’ said De la Maisonneuve, ‘than have uttered the words contained in that deposition.’[561] The Court having summoned the priest Delay before them, the latter declared that he adhered to the main points, with the exception of the words 290ascribed to Baudichon. ‘He only said,’ continued Delay, ‘that it would have been better to give the poor the money paid for the banners. I did not hear him use the other words.’[562]

Janin, who had hitherto been the most ardent of the two prisoners, now began to grow dispirited, as is usual with such temperaments. He looked upon his condemnation to death as certain; and was quite unmanned by the thought that he would never see Geneva again. On Whitsunday, a turnkey having gone to fetch him from his dungeon to hear a mass which the other prisoners had asked for, Janin, far from refusing, did not betray the least sign of opposition during the service, but behaved himself decently, ‘which he had not been accustomed to do before,’ said one who was present. He quitted the chapel, dejected and silent. Just as he was about to re-enter his narrow cell, De la Maisonneuve came up: he knew the state of his friend’s soul and desired to cheer him. Leaning against the door, he said to Janin, who was already inside: ‘Do not fret yourself; be firm, and make no answer. I would sooner it cost me five hundred crowns, than that any harm should come to you or me. My lords of Berne will not suffer them to do us any mischief.’[563]

Opinion Of Baudichon.

Janin’s alarm was not, however, without foundation: false evidence multiplied. Louis Joffrillet accused De la Maisonneuve of having said to him at the door of his master’s shop: ‘Pshaw! if you were at Geneva I would give you a horse-load of relics for a dozen aiguilettes.... They sell relics there at the butchers’ stalls.’[564] On hearing the unbecoming words ascribed to him, Baudichon exclaimed: ‘That witness is a little brigand, a young thief; he has told a lie. I demand that he be detained, and (he added in great anger) I will have him hanged!’ Manicier, Joffrillet’s 291deposed that he had no recollection of such words being used by De la Maisonneuve.[565]

All these depositions, De la Maisonneuve’s courage, and the interest felt for him in high places, created a greater excitement every day in the second city of France. ‘There was much noise in Lyons about those two Lutherans of Geneva.’[566] Some eagerly took their part; others, who detested them, hoped to see them burnt. But as the two protestants had powerful protectors, the clergy dared not proceed to extremities without sufficient proof. The canons of St. John sent M. de Simieux, a gentleman of Dauphiny, who was related to one of them, to Geneva to try and hunt up some capital charge against Baudichon. De Simieux alighted at the Hôtel de la Grue, in the Corraterie, and immediately entered into conversation with the landlord, who promised to introduce him to some worthy people, from whom he would receive accurate information about that wretched Baudichon.[567]

Meanwhile, the gentleman amused himself by walking up and down in front of his lodging. Presently he saw fifteen persons, ‘of the most respectable of the city,’ approaching, who saluted him and said: ‘We have heard that you are come from Lyons; is it true that Baudichon is about to be released?’ De Simieux asked the gentlemen what they thought of the prisoner. ‘If he is discharged,’ said one of them, ‘we and all the Catholics in Geneva will be totally ruined and lost. His accomplices, the Lutherans of the city, have prepared their plan, and the only thing they are waiting for, before putting it into execution, is Baudichon’s release.’ ‘Yes, yes,’ said all the fifteen, ‘we are sure of it.’[568]

292De Simieux asked them to specify some overt act. ‘On Corpus Christi day,’ said one, ‘as the procession was passing Baudichon’s house, his wife was at the window with her maid, and both were spinning with their distaffs. When Madame de la Maisonneuve saw the priests marching before her all in white, she exclaimed: “Look what fine goats!” ... as if a flock of those animals had been passing by twos before her.’[569] As this remark of the wife was not sufficient to burn the husband, De Simieux asked for something more. ‘It is notorious,’ they told him, ‘that Baudichon is the person most employed in seducing the city of Geneva to the Lutheran heresies; that it was he who caused the preachers to come; and that, if he is liberated, everybody will go over to his faith.’[570]

While this conversation was going on in a narrow street, an official interview of far greater importance was taking place not far off. Two ambassadors from the King of France had just arrived at Geneva, and the syndics who waited upon them declared they thought it very strange that messieurs of Lyons should presume to give them the law. The ambassadors promised to speak to the king on the subject.[571]

Baudichon Locked Up.

Meantime, matters were looking worse at Lyons. On Thursday, the 18th of June, Florimond Pécoud, the merchant, seasoned his deposition with some piquant expressions which he falsely ascribed to Baudichon. ‘Telling him one day that I had just come from mass,’ said Pécoud, ‘Baudichon made the remark: “And what did you see there? ... a slice of turnip, ... nothing more.”’[572] At these words the prisoner rose indignantly, and said to the judges: ‘I will not make any reply, I have made too many already,’ and proceeded to leave the hall. ‘We order you to stay,’ said the judges; but De la Maisonneuve would not 293stop. ‘Positively,’ said the judges, looking at each other, ‘he flees our presence.’ To the jailer who was sent after him to bid him return, he answered haughtily: ‘I am not disposed at present; let them wait until after dinner.’ Baudichon reappeared in the afternoon, but his anger had not cooled down. ‘I know that Pécoud,’ he said; ‘he has cheated the merchants, he has been a bankrupt, and his wife and he live by the debauchery of others. I guarantee to prove what I say.’

The next day there was a scene quite as lively. Maisonneuve having contradicted a witness: ‘I command you to sit in the dock,’ said the president. ‘I will not sit in the dock,’ answered the citizen of Geneva; ‘I have sat there too long.’ This was too much for the judges. The procurator-fiscal ordered Baudichon to be taken away and put in solitary confinement: no one was to speak to him. The prisoner was accordingly removed and locked up.[573]

The Court immediately increased the number of witnesses for the prosecution: it is useless to name them. De la Maisonneuve, more indignant than ever, thought it enough to say: ‘They are false witnesses, tutored to procure my death.’[574]

Such was indeed the intention of the Court, and, considering the power of the ecclesiastical tribunals, it seemed impossible they should fail to attain their end. De la Maisonneuve was not prepared to die. His knowledge of the Gospel had stripped death of its terrors in his eyes, but the work of his life was not terminated: the reformation of Geneva was not accomplished, there was still many a tough contest to be fought for liberty. A man of resolution was wanted at Geneva—a man to launch the bark with energy towards the happy shores it was to reach. That man was De la Maisonneuve.

On the 1st of July, seeing the eagerness of his adversaries, he petitioned the court to grant him an advocate. 294The judges would not consent: the prosecution was difficult enough already. ‘The case does not require it,’ said the procurator-fiscal, ‘the accused must answer by his own mouth. The said Baudichon is not an ignorant man; he is prudent and astute enough in his business.’[575]

De la Maisonneuve could indeed speak freely in the uprightness of his heart; but a formal defence alarmed him. Anticipating, however, the unjust refusal of his judges, he had resolved to protest against it. Producing certain papers, he said, as he pointed to them: ‘This document was written by my own hand; I desire that it be inserted among the minutes of the trial, and propose to read it word for word.’ He was permitted to do so; upon which Baudichon, standing before his judges with the paper in his hand, reminded them of the fact of his unjust imprisonment, which had already lasted three months; contended that his judges had no authority to take cognizance of anything he had done out of the kingdom, and added: ‘I call upon you to do me speedy justice; if you refuse, I will prosecute each one of you, and force you to make compensation and reparation for the injuries I have suffered.... I appeal to his Majesty.’[576]

Treatment Of Baudichon.

The vicars-general could not believe their ears. What impudence! The accused presumes to attack the members of the Court, and his judges are to be put on their defence. Are they not the representatives of the Church? ‘You have no cause to complain of your long detention,’ they said. ‘It proceeds solely from your having refused to answer us. We cannot send you before the syndics of Geneva, because, as laymen, they have no cognizance of such matters. Besides, the king understands that you demur concerning the offences committed by you in the kingdom of France.’ Then pressing him with questions, they said: ‘Are you a Christian? What is your faith? Do you believe in the holy catholic Church? Do you obey our holy father the 295pope? We are judges of your faith, and we require you to answer, under pain of excommunication and other lawful penalties.’ ‘I will not answer,’ returned Maisonneuve, quite as determined as they, ‘and I appeal from your order to every court in the kingdom.’ After this answer, Baudichon, in the eyes of the Court, was nothing but an obstinate heretic. The inquisitor, Morini, conjured him to return to the catholic faith. It was useless.[577]

A man who struggled with so much courage against unreasonable judges, who, in their despotism, claimed the right to forbid him to display before God the faith, homage, and obedience which his conscience imposed upon him,—a man who, in the first half of the sixteenth century, bearded the inquisitors even in sight of the stake, as if his forehead had been made of adamant, harder than flint, deserves some respect from an easier age, which is no longer called to such combats, and which perhaps would be unable to sustain them.

(July 1534.)

The judges and priests, though determined to free the Church from such a dangerous enemy by pronouncing the capital sentence upon him, resolved to make a last effort to obtain a condemnatory confession from him. The procurator-fiscal, looking at Baudichon, said: ‘Considering the arrogance and temerity of the accused, considering that he is not sufficiently attainted by the witnesses, we order that he be constrained to answer concerning his faith, and to that 296end be put to the torture.’ The noble-minded citizen was to be exposed to the horrible torments practiced by the inquisitors, but there were no instructions as to the kind of torture to be employed.[578] De la Maisonneuve was imprisoned under the roof. Was the order of the Court carried out? That is more than we can tell; we have discovered nothing relative to his punishment; we can only find that he was treated in a harsh and cruel manner. Appearing before the Court on the 13th of July, he complained strongly of the indignities to which he had been exposed. ‘They have behaved tyrannously to me,’ he said, ‘and shown me much rudeness and cruelty.’ The judges answered that he had no grounds of complaint, and that if he wished any favor he had only to answer concerning his faith. ‘If I were to remain here a prisoner all my life,’ said Baudichon, ‘I would never answer you, for you are not my judges.’[579]

The Court then resolved to try if they could not obtain from him some semi-catholic formula which would authorize them to publish his recantation, or, in default of that, some very heretical declaration which would justify their burning him. A few words uttered with the lips were enough for certain judges to give life or death. Evangelical Christianity prescribes an opposite way; words will not satisfy it: truth must penetrate into the depths of the heart and abide there by means of a thorough assimilation which transforms man to the image of God. But, above all, it protests against constraint; and to those officials, those inquisitors who imagine they are helping the cause of truth, it exclaims: ‘Leave to God what belongs to God!’ This was Maisonneuve’s opinion.

Charges Against Baudichon.

The Court and the canons of St. John, having failed to obtain any confession from Baudichon, resolved to call a witness before them who, they thought, must crush him. At their request, the Bishop of Geneva, who was then at Chambéry, 297desired father Cautelier, superior of the Franciscan convent, to proceed to Lyons and give evidence against the prisoner. On the 18th of July the monk appeared before the Court, and declared that ‘he had preached daily at Geneva all through Lent, doing the best he could; that he had known Baudichon, notoriously reputed as a favorer of the Lutheran sect, and one Farellus, a very bad man, who preached that heresy, and others more execrable still, of which he was the inventor; that one day, being unable to obtain a license for Farellus to preach, Baudichon came up with his accomplices; that, in the presence of a very great multitude of people, he declared he would have Farellus preach; that thereupon some of his party went and rang the bell three different times, and that in the same monastery where he, Cautelier, had preached in the morning, the said Farellus preached publicly, according to his accursed doctrine, which he continued to do all through Lent, wearing a secular dress.’ Then, speaking of the visit made him by Maisonneuve and Farel, the father superior continued: ‘They asserted that the pope is the beast of the apocalypse, and that the holy see is not apostolical but diabolical; ... and Baudichon was so transported with rage and anger, that he would have set the monastery on fire.’[580]

De la Maisonneuve was then brought in. The two great adversaries met face to face and kept their eyes fixed on each other. The energetic huguenot, speaking with calmness, almost with disdain, said: ‘I know that witness; he is a bad man.... He preached several heresies at Geneva, and excited much disturbance among the people.’—‘Heresies!’ exclaimed the astonished judges. ‘What heresies?’ An heretical father superior! that was strange indeed!—‘If I was at Geneva,’ answered the accused, ‘I would tell you, but here I shall say no more.’[581]

At the same time the crafty monk had with him a weapon which, he thought, must infallibly procure Baudichon’s 298death. Pierre de la Baume, in his quality of bishop and prince, had given him a sealed letter addressed to the judges, praying them to send the culprit to him, or at least, to treat him with all the rigor of justice. Coutelier handed it to the Court. The bishop informed his ‘good brothers and friends’ that Maisonneuve had already been convicted of Lutheran heresy (this was five or six years back), that he had done penance, and promised him, his bishop, that he would not go astray again. ‘Cum nemini gremium ecclesia claudat,’ continued La Baume, ‘as the Church shuts her bosom against no one, I was content to pardon him, but threatened him with the stake in case of relapse.’ It is possible that De la Maisonneuve may formerly have had some conversation of this sort with the bishop, who took advantage of it. The law threatened very severe penalties against such as relapsed; they were not allowed a trial, and were delivered up immediately to the secular arm to be put to death. ‘I beg you to transfer him to me’ continued the bishop, ‘to execute justice upon him to the contentment of God and the world, and the maintenance of our holy faith.’ But a rivalry worthy of Rome existed between the Bishop of Geneva and the primate of France; each wished to have the honor of burning the Genevan.[582]

The struggle was natural. The affair had all the more importance in the eyes of the bishops and priests inasmuch as Maisonneuve was guilty of a blacker crime in their opinion than that of Luther and of Farel. He was a layman, and yet he presumed to reform the Church. The clergy believed that the intervention of the laity was the most menacing circumstance possible. A great transformation was going on: opinion was changing; as the understanding became enlightened, it condemned abuses and reformed errors. One of the evils introduced by catholicism, aggravated still further by the papacy, had been to nullify the faithful in religious matters. It was endurable that a bishop should go to war; but for a layman to have anything to say 299in the Church was inadmissible. This perversion of the primitive order was pointed out by the reformers: in their eyes the despotism of priests was still more revolting than the despotism of kings. A man might, they thought, give up to another man his house, his fields, his earthly existence; but to give up to him his soul, his eternal existence, ... impossible! One of the forces of protestantism was the influence of the laity; one of the weaknesses of Roman-catholicism was their exclusion from the direction of religious interests.

The Bishop of Geneva thought that, by putting that powerful layman, Maisonneuve, to death, he was dealing the Reformation a heavy blow. The officials of the archbishop-primate of France thought the same. There was no doubt what would be the fate of the proud Baudichon: it was only a question whether the flames of his funeral pile should be kindled at Lyons or Chambéry. The judges consequently asked him if he desired to be sent to Chambéry to be tried by the Bishop of Geneva; and the prisoner declared that he preferred remaining in the kingdom of France. De la Baume gave way, but insisted that the Court should make haste and punish such a turbulent man. ‘Chastise him,’ said the bishop, ‘according to the good pleasure of the king, who has shown in his letters that he is quite inclined that way. Nay, more, you will do a very meritorious work before God.’ The Court accordingly began their preparations for offering up the sacrifice.[583]

Proceedings Of The Magistrates.

The magistrates of Geneva had not remained inactive. On the 23d of June the syndics and council of the city wrote three letters: one to the king’s lieutenant, another to the burgesses of Lyons, and a third to Diesbach and Schœner, ambassadors of Berne at the Court of Francis I., declaring they thought it ‘very strange that Messieurs of Lyons should wish to give the law to Geneva.’[584] The vicars-general were not much alarmed: they hoped that the intervention 300of Francis I. would be limited to forbidding Baudichon de la Maisonneuve to be tried for acts committed in his own country. Still they judged it prudent to make haste.

The Court now resorted to its final, solemn, and triple summons.[585] ‘Baudichon de la Maisonneuve,’ said the president, ‘we adjure you to answer concerning your faith under pain of excommunication.’ The Genevan was silent. Thrice the same question was put, thrice there was the same silence. At last, when the president added: ‘Are you a Christian?’ he replied: ‘You are not my judges, and never will be. If I were before the syndics of Geneva, I should answer so that every one would be satisfied.’ He declared, however, that he was ready to enter into explanations immediately concerning any offence he was accused of committing in France; thus showing that he desired merely to maintain the rights of his people and of their magistrates. The Court would not consent: they no doubt understood that mere table-talk was not sufficient to cause a man to be burnt. Once more they refused him a counsel. ‘If you can write,’ they told him, ‘we permit you to set down with your own hand whatever you please, and we will hear you tomorrow.’ He declared he could not do it without access to the minutes of the proceedings; to which the Court answered, that the proceedings must be well known to him.[586]

The Sentence.

The inquiry was over; De la Maisonneuve was returned to the care of the archbishop’s procurator-general, and the next day, the 18th of July, he was taken before him. That personage rose and said: ‘Baudichon de la Maisonneuve, being manifestly convicted of the crimes and offences mentioned in the indictment, is by us pronounced heretical, a great abettor, defender, and protector of the heretics and heresies which at present swarm so greatly, and as such he is remitted to the secular arm.’[587]

301They were in haste to finish. There was a rumor that the king would deliver the prisoner: they must, therefore, hurry on the sentence and execution. On the 28th of July the Court held its last sitting. Two inquisitors were on the bench, and the final sentence was pronounced:

‘Baudichon de la Maisonneuve,’ said the Court, ‘you have been fully convicted of having affirmed at Geneva and elsewhere many heretical propositions of the Lutheran or Œcolampadian faction;

‘Of having been the chief promoter and defender of that sect;

‘Of having protected the impure Farel and other persons, propagators of that perverse doctrine;

‘Of having refused to answer in our presence concerning your faith;

‘We therefore declare you to be heretical, and the chief fautor and defender of heresy and heretics;[588]

‘Consequently we deliver you over as such to the secular arm.’

This was the formula employed by the ecclesiastical tribunals in pronouncing the capital sentence. De la Maisonneuve appealed to the king, to the legate, to any proper authority, and was led back to prison.

The Church, having a horror of blood, delivered Baudichon to the civil magistrates that they might take the life of that high-minded man: the captain of the Lutherans was condemned to death.[589] For a long while people at Geneva, Lyons, and elsewhere, had been every day expecting that he would be burnt.[590] Now there could no longer be any doubt about his fate: the sentence was lawfully pronounced. The priests triumphed, and the evangelicals awaited a great sorrow.

302Many burning piles had already been erected in France, Germany, and elsewhere, and Christians more earnest than Maisonneuve, but not freer or more courageous, had perished on them for their faith. Were the persecutors always influenced by cruelty and hatred? Were the vicars-general, the canons of St. John, the archbishop-primate of France—all of them thirsting for blood? No doubt there were malignant fanatics among them, but it would be unjust to form so severe a judgment of all. Some of them were upright and perhaps benevolent men, to whom the words uttered upon the cross might be justly applied: Forgive them, for they know not what they do. Atrocious as are the deeds of the persecutors in the sixteenth century, they easily admit of explanation. A religion convinced of the truth of its dogmas considers it to be its right and duty to combat the errors which destroy souls (as it believes); and, if it is allied with the civil power, makes it a virtue and a law to borrow the secular sword to purify the Church from contagion. The fault of such judges—and it is a great fault—is to put themselves in the place of God, to whom alone belongs the dominion over conscience; to forget that religion, being in its nature spiritual, has nothing to do with constraint, and can be propagated and received by moral convictions only. The sword, when religion determines to grasp it, easily becomes insensate and ruthless in her hands. Put up thy sword into the sheath, said Jesus to Peter; and those who call themselves Peter’s successors have been always drawing it. The ground is so slippery, the gulf so near, that, besides the thousands of cases in which the Church of Rome during the sixteenth century suffered that great fall, two or three instances may be quoted in which even protestants have stumbled.

Three centuries have corrected such lamentable aberrations; we no longer erect scaffolds, but tribunals, dungeons, and exile still coerce religious convictions. What must we do to destroy forever such evils in all their ramifications? The most effectual remedy would seem to be the separation 303of the spiritual and temporal power, the destruction of the links which still unite the ecclesiastical with the civil power. The doctrine which condemns those fanatical murders has long prevailed all over evangelical Christendom; at Rome the acts are tempered, but the principles remain. Modern civilization is waiting for the time when salutary modifications between the Church and the State will take from the former, everywhere and forevermore, the possibility of again grasping the unholy sword which has poured forth such torrents of the most generous blood.

(July 1534.)

Effect Of Baudichon’s Imprisonment.

By imprisoning Maisonneuve, the priests had desired to check the progress of the Gospel, but it had the contrary effect. The courage of the accused and the injustice of the accusers increased the determination of the Genevans. The work of the Reformation was not a work without fore-thought; it had been long preparing, and advanced step by step towards the goal by paths which the hand of God had traced for it. The rich harvests which were to cover the shores of Lake Leman and to feed so many hungry souls, were not to spring from the earth in a day; the soil had long been ploughed and dressed, the seed had been sown, and therefore the crop was so abundant. The Reformation was the fruit of a long travail: at one time the secret operations of divine influence, at another, deeds done by men in the light of day, was transforming by slow degrees a somewhat restless but still energetic and generous people.

304The festival of Corpus Christi was approaching, and the catholics hoped by that imposing ceremony to bring back some of those who had left them; but their expectations were disappointed. The most enlightened and honorable men of Geneva had no longer any taste for these feasts—not because of their antiquity, but because they were in their opinion founded on serious errors, and shocked their enlightened sentiments. The thought that a wafer, consecrated by a priest, was about to be paraded through the city to receive divine honors, revolted evangelical Christians. They determined not to join in the procession, or to shut up their houses, but to work as on ordinary days. When the priests and their adherents heard of this, they imagined that the Lutherans intended attacking them during their progress; but, on being reassured, they took courage and the devout began to file off. There was not the least act of violence, but only a silent protest; many houses before which the procession passed were without hangings, and through the open windows ‘the Lutheran dames were seen in velvet hoods busily spinning with their distaffs or working with their needles.’ Vainly did the priests sing and the splendid cortège defile through the streets: the velvet-hooded ladies remained motionless. Gross insults would not have enraged the devotees so much. One of them seeing a window open on the ground-floor and a protestant lady filling her distaff, reached into the room, snatched away the distaff, struck her violently on the head with it, threw it into the mud, trampled on it, and disappeared among the crowd. The startled lady screamed out, and (says Sister Jeanne) nearly died of fright. Notwithstanding this act of violence, the protestants remained quiet. Everything helped the cause of Reform: neither the grotesque nor unseemly dances of the populace, nor the sanctimonious processions of the clergy, were able to paralyze in Geneva the power of the doctrine from on high.[591]

305An act of a new convert still further increased the murmurs. When Louis Bernard threw off the surplice he returned to civil life: he soon became a member of the Two Hundred, and afterwards of the Executive Council. Being an upright man and desirous of leading a Christian life, he married a widow of good family, and Viret blessed their union. The marriage created a great sensation. ‘What!’ exclaimed the catholics, ‘priests and monks with wives!’ ‘Yes!’ rejoined the reformers, ‘you think it strange they should have lawful wives, but you were not surprised when they had unlawful wives, the practice was so general. What foxy consciences are yours! You confess to brushing off the dew with your tail as you crossed the meadows, but not of having stolen the poor man’s poultry!’ Bernard justified by his conduct the step that he had taken. The men who had been dissolute priests became good fathers,[592] and society was gainer by the exchange.

Discussion Before The Council.

But the priests did not think so. Master Jean, the vicar of St. Gervais, a zealous man and noisy talker, having heard of Bernard’s marriage, exclaimed from the pulpit: ‘Where is the discipline prescribed by the church, where are the commandments of the pope? Oh, horror! priests marry after they have taken the vow of chastity!’ The question of marriage and celibacy was discussed before the Council; the priest and Viret, who had given the nuptial benediction, were summoned to the Hôtel-de-ville. The reformer maintained that marriage is honorable to all men. St. Paul, when directing that the minister of the Lord should not have several wives, shows that we must not constrain him to have none at all, and if the apostle insists that he must be a good father, it follows evidently that he should be married. ‘Those who issue from the dens of the solitary and idle life called monkery or celibacy,’ said one of the reformers, ‘are like savages; while the government of a household is an apprenticeship for the government of the Church of God.’ The vicar supported his 306opinion by bad arguments,’ says the ‘Register,’ ‘and wandered far from the truth.’ ‘Do not corrupt the Gospel, or else we shall take proceedings against you,’ said the premier-syndic. The poor dumbfoundered vicar stammered out a few excuses and retired, promising to teach in future in conformity with their lordships’ instructions.[593]

But they had no sooner shut his mouth on the question of marriage, than he opened it on that of baptism. ‘Do these heretics imagine,’ he exclaimed, ‘that the Holy Ghost can descend into the heart by other channels than the priests?... They baptize in rooms, in gardens, without blowing upon the child to drive away the wicked one.... They are ipso facto excommunicate.’

The independence of Church and State was not understood in the sixteenth century. Farel complained to the Council, and the priest was about to yield, when some laymen, irritated by the defeat of Rome, came to his assistance. ‘Are these heretics already giving us the law in Geneva?’ they said to the council. ‘Only the other day they were satisfied to speak, and now they want to hinder us from doing so. We demand that it be as permissible for Master Jean to preach as it is for Master Farel.’ The syndic replied frankly:—‘We have not forbidden the vicar to preach: on the contrary we order him to preach the Gospel.’[594] It was not then understood that to command a man to preach what he did not believe was more tyrannical than to silence him.

Farel, Viret, and the vicar were in attendance; they were led into the council chamber, and the discussion began immediately. ‘The Holy Ghost,’ said Farel, ‘can act without the aid of priests. It is faith in the power of Christ’s blood that cleanseth us from our sins, and baptism is the evidence of that absolution. But where have you read that it must be celebrated with oil, salt, and other rubbish?[595] ... 307I know very well that this strange trumpery is of ancient origin.... The devil very early began to indulge in heavy jokes, and all these baubles come from him. Let us put aside these pomps and shows that dazzle the eyes of the simple, but brutalize their understanding, and let us celebrate the rite of baptism simply, according to the Gospel form, with fair water, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.’ The embarrassed vicar quoted the authority of the pope in his defence, and highly extolled the two swords that are in his hand. ‘That is an idle allegory,’ said the reformer, ‘and a sorry jest.... There are two powers indeed: one in the Church, the other in the State. The only power in the Church is the Word of Christ, and the only power in the State is the sword.’ That distinction gave much pleasure, and the secretary entered it on the minutes. An important transformation was going on: the civil power was lifting its head and beginning to brave that spiritual power which had humbled it for so long. The syndic kindly entreated Farel ‘to take it all in good part;’ but turning with severity towards the vicar, ordered him again ‘to preach in accordance with the truth.’ ‘Do you forbid me to preach any more?’ asked the priest, abashed. The syndic answered him a little harshly: ‘You are forbidden nothing, except lying.’ This marks a new phase of the Reformation in Geneva. The monks who remained faithful to St. Francis were alarmed in their convent at Rive, and said: ‘Let us make haste to carry away our altar-ornaments and jewels.’ ... The Council opposed this, and ordered those precious objects to be kept in safe custody.[596]

Alarming Rumor.

While the magistracy of Geneva held back from catholicism, the partisans of the pope in the surrounding country were preparing to support it. An alarming rumor had been circulating in the city for some days; and the vicar and the reformer had scarcely withdrawn, when several members of the Council expressed their fears. ‘The bishop, in concert 308with the duke, has formed the design of invading us,’ they said. ‘At a banquet, at which two hundred persons were present, a formidable conspiracy was planned against our liberties. Wherever you go, you hear nothing but threats against the city. Many of our fellow-citizens have gone out to join the enemy, and are preparing to attack us, with the gentry of the neighborhood.’ Captain-General Philippe was ordered ‘to be on the look-out,’ and many placed their hands and their lives at his disposal. It was true that Pierre de la Baume, having formed a new plot, had come to an understanding with the Genevese episcopals and the lords of Friburg; and quitting, not without reluctance, his delightful residence at Arbois, he had gone to Chambéry to concert measures with the duke. A Romish camarilla stimulated the two princes. The most fervid of the mamelukes, and of the lords of Savoy and of Vaud, had arranged a meeting for a hunting match at the foot of the Voirons, and there arrangements had been made for ‘hunting down’ the heresy of Geneva. ‘Every one there is running after this new word,’ they told the duke. ‘There is but one means of safety left, and that is, to destroy the city and the heretics by making war upon them, and then restoring the prelate by force.’ Forthwith the plan was arranged ‘of the most dangerous treason that had yet been aimed at Geneva.’ The duke hoped to become master of the city, and to re-establish the papal power in it. He had no doubt that catholicity, far from being jealous of his conquest, would be eager to applaud it. To insure success, he determined to ask the help of France, and to that end applied to the Cardinal de Tournon. It was proposed that Pierre de la Baume should resign his see to one of the duke’s sons, the young Count of Bresse, and a handsome compensation was offered him. Maisonneuve, the captain of the Lutherans, a man so generally dreaded, being then in prison at Lyons, it was desirable to take advantage of his absence, and the last day of July was fixed for the execution of the enterprise.[597]

309The Councils of Geneva, in great alarm, sent John Lullin and Francis Favre to Berne to ask the advice and assistance of those powerful allies. At the same time they ordered the bells of the Convent of St. Victor and others to be cast into cannon, and directed the captains of the city to take the necessary measures for putting it into a state of defence. And, lastly, wishing to deprive the enemies of Geneva of every pretext, the Council determined to punish those who had ‘ill-advisedly broken the images of the convent at Rive;’ and declared, that though such images ought to be taken down and destroyed, according to God’s law, yet ‘those persons’ ought not to have done it without order and permission, because it was an act pertaining to the magistracy. In consequence of this, six men, of whom little was known, were imprisoned on the 26th July.[598]

Enthusiasm In Geneva.

Great was the enthusiasm in Geneva. The citizens were ready to give up everything ‘to follow the right path,’ and the Reformation still advanced, notwithstanding the great danger with which it was threatened. Some even chose this moment to confess their faith. The last Sunday in July, a few hours before the day when the enemy intended to enter Geneva, a member of the Dominican order, that pillar of the papacy, ‘after the bell had bidden the people to the sermon,’ appeared before the congregation, took off his monastic dress, went into the pulpit, and then, ‘like a madman,’ prayed God to have pity on him. He bewailed himself, asked pardon of his listeners for having ‘lived so ill in times past, and so monstrously deceived everybody.’ ‘I have preached indulgences,’ he continued, ‘I have praised the mass, I have extolled the sacraments and ceremonies of the Church. Now I renounce them all as idle things. I desire to find but one thing—the grace of Christ crucified for me.’ After which he preached an heretical sermon.[599]

These conversions increased the dangers of Geneva, by exciting the wrath of the catholics. Four days after the 310touching confession of the Dominican the projected plot was to be carried out. The Savoyard troops, assembling at a little distance from the city, were to approach it under cover of the darkness. One detachment would arrive by the lake and the tower guard, bribed by ten crowns, would let the boats pass without firing on them. Within the city, more than three hundred foreigners had entered separately and stealthily, and were hidden in catholic houses. In the middle of the night F. du Crest was to go to the Molard with fire-arms and hoist a red flag. The firing of a heavy culverine would be the signal for the priests to come to the support of their friends. Certain episcopals would mount to the roofs of their houses with lighted torches to summon the foreign troops to approach. The catholics of Geneva and their allies would then leave their houses; three of the city gates were to be forced by a locksmith of their party, the troops would enter, and Genevans and strangers would advance shouting: ‘Long live our prince, monseigneur of Geneva!’ The friends of independence and reform, thus caught between two fires, would be unable to make any resistance. Then would begin the executing of the judgment of God: if it had been waited for long, it would only be the more terrible now. The pious soldiers of the Church would fall upon the Lutherans and put them to death. The city would be purged of all those seeds of the gospel and liberty which were choking, within its walls, the ancient and glorious plants of feudalism and popery. Finally to complete their work, the conquerors would share the property of the vanquished, which the bishop had in anticipation confiscated for their benefit, and Geneva, forever bound to Rome, would thus become its slave and never its rival.[600]

On the 29th and 30th July all began to move round the city. On the north, the Marshal of Burgundy, the bishop’s brother, was to descend into the valley of the Leman, with 311six thousand men, raised in imperial Burgundy. On the south, the Duke of Savoy had obtained permission of the king of France to enlist in Dauphiny, ‘persons experienced in war.’ Numerous soldiers—some coming by land, others by water—were expected from Chablais, Faucigny, Gex, and Vaud. A galley and other boats had been fitted out near Thonon, to which place the artillery of Chillon had been removed. Several corps were marching on Geneva. The bishop, who was anything but brave, did not wish to leave Chambéry; but the duke, to encourage him, gave him a body-guard of two hundred well-armed men, and Pierre de la Baume quitted, not without alarm, the capital of Savoy early in the morning of the 30th July, and halted at Lé-luiset, a village situated about two leagues from Geneva, where he intended to wait in safety the issue of the affair.

The corps nearest to Geneva appeared. Savoyard troops under the command of Mauloz, castellan of Gaillard, reached their station in front of the St. Antoine Gate. Armed men from Chablais advanced along the Thonon road as far as Jargonnant, in front of the Rive gate. Other bands prepared to enter by the gate on the side of Arve and Plainpalais. Barks and boats filled with soldiers arrived in the waters that bathed the city. The army that was to cross the Jura, and other corps, did not appear; but the assembled forces were sufficient for the coup-de-main.[601]

Levrat, The Traitor.

While these manœuvres were going on without, everything seemed going on well within. The man entrusted with the care of the artillery, and who was called Le Bossu (the Hunchback), had been bribed. In the evening Jean Levrat, ‘one of the most active of the traitors,’ had prowled about his dwelling, and the keeper, not wishing to be compromised, had handed him through a loophole the keys of the tower of Rive, where the cannons had been stored. Levrat and his accomplices spiked several, and Le Bossu had filled others 312with hay. The blacksmith had counterfeited the keys of the city, and made iron implements to break down the gates.[602] The most lively emotion prevailed in the houses of all the catholics. Party walls had been broken through, so that they could go from one to another and concert matters secretly. Michael Guillet, Thomas Moine, Jacques Malbuisson, De Prato, Jean Levrat, and the Sire de Pesmes, went to and fro watching that no man shrank back.

Throughout the whole of the 30th of July the Councils and the reformed remained in complete ignorance of the blow that was impending. They knew of the threats, but did not believe there was any danger, so that in the evening of the 30th they had gone to rest as quietly as usual. In the early part of the night a stranger desired to speak with the premier-syndic on urgent business. Michael Sept received him. ‘I am from Dauphiny,’ said the man: ‘I am a hearer of the Word of God, and should grieve to see Geneva and the Gospel brought to destruction. The duke’s army is marching upon your city; a number of soldiers are already assembled all round you, and very early this morning the bishop left Chambéry to make his entrance among you.’ It was a fellow-countryman of Farel and Froment that undertook to save Geneva. But was there still time? The premier-syndic immediately communicated the intelligence to his colleagues, and it was resolved to arrest some of those who were always ready to make common cause with the enemy outside. The syndics questioned them, confronted them with one another, and gradually saw the horrible plot unravelled, of which they had until that moment been ignorant.[603] All the citizens upon whom they could rely were called to arms. It was not yet midnight.

313The episcopals, who had not gone to bed, waited in excitement for the appointed hour. A great number of canons and priests had assembled in the house of the canon of Brentena, Seigneur of Menthon, belonging to an illustrious family of Savoy. They congratulated one another that the plot had been so well arranged, and nothing in that assembly of ecclesiastics was talked of but torches, banners, and artillery. In a short time, however, one of their party came in, and told them that the huguenots were arming everywhere. The reverend members of the chapter ran to the window, and saw with affright a numerous patrol marching by. The alarm spread; not an episcopal dared venture out: they hid the red flag, the signal for the murder of the huguenots. One hope only remained; the troops round Geneva were amply sufficient to secure the triumph of the bishop.[604]

Waiting For The Signal.

And indeed the number of soldiers round the city was very great. Playing on the word Geneva, gens nova, the leaders had chosen for their watchword this cruel phrase: Nous ferons ici gent nouvelle,[605] that is to say, they would extirpate the evangelicals from Geneva and replace them by catholic Savoyards. They waited for the appointed signal and turned their eyes to the roofs of the houses from which the torches were to be waved. They fancied that some had been seen, but had soon disappeared. While the anxious officers were asking what was to be done, some of the soldiers noticed a simple-looking boy walking about on the hill, peering innocently about him, but constantly getting nearer to the city gates. He was taken before Mauloz the castellan and M. de Simon, another of the leaders, who asked him what he was doing there at such an hour of the night. The boy, who seemed greatly embarrassed, answered, ‘I am looking for the mare I lost.’ It was not the case.

Three of the best citizens of Geneva, Jean d’Arlod, auditor, 314the zealous Étienne d’Adda, and Pontet, happening to be at La Roche, three or four leagues from Geneva, in the evening, had heard the enterprise talked of, and had immediately mounted their horses in order to reach the gates before the enemy.[606] Pushing rapidly along the by-roads, they stopped at a farm-house a short distance from the city, where they learnt that the Savoyard troops were already under the walls. D’Arlod directed one of the farm-servants to go and see if they could enter. M. de Simon and Mauloz the castellan, impatient to know the cause of the delay, determined to make use of this poor boy, of whose innocence they felt no doubts. ‘Hark ye!’ they said to him; ‘go and see whether the Rive and St. Antoine gates are open.’ The lad, who was very unwilling to serve as a scout to the Savoyards, replied: ‘Oh! I should be afraid they would kill me.’ At that instant Mauloz, whose attention was divided between the youth and the houses on which the torches were to be displayed, exclaimed, ‘There is one!’ A brilliant light appeared over the city: the whole force hailed it with joy, and the two captains could not turn away their eyes. The light appeared and disappeared, returned, and was again eclipsed, and every time it came in sight, strange to say, it looked more elevated. Higher and higher it rose; already it overtopped the tallest chimneys. There was something extraordinary about it, and the Savoyards began to grow uneasy. ‘Why, can it be so?’ said those who knew Geneva; ‘the light is ascending the spire of St. Pierre!... Yes, it is so ... that is where the main watch of the city is stationed in time of danger.’ At last the light ceased to move; it halted at the top of the spire, which was built on the crest of the hill. It thus brooded over the city, and seemed turned upon the Savoyard army, like the glaring eye of the lion shining through the midnight darkness of the desert. Then a panic terror seized the soldiers of Charles III.; their features were disturbed, their hearts quaked. Mauloz, who had kept his eyes 315fixed on the threatening apparition, turned in despair towards M. de Simon, who was already moving off, and exclaimed: ‘We are discovered: we are betrayed! We shall not enter Geneva to-night.’ The young messenger, finding that nobody took heed of him, ran off to the farm to tell D’Arlod and his friends what had taken place.[607]

Retreat Of The Savoyards.

Yet the lion’s eye still glared above the city. ‘The sugar-plums are all ready for our supper,’ said the men-at-arms.[608] Every one thought of retiring: Mauloz and Simon gave orders for the retreat. As day was beginning to break, the Genevese look-outs stationed on the tower saw the Savoyards filing off in the direction of Castle Gaillard, with drums beating and colors flying.

The Genevan catholics were in suspense no longer: their enterprise had miscarried. They were stupefied and furious against their allies. One of them, Francis Regis, said with a great oath: ‘We are ruined and undone: those gentlemen are not worth a straw. We made the signals, everything was in good order, but the gentry deceived us.’[609] As for the bishop, he was more frightened than disappointed. When the terrible beacon shone out from the temple of St. Pierre’s, some men, commissioned to keep him informed of what was going on, had started off full gallop, and reported to him the ominous words of the ferocious Mauloz: ‘We are betrayed!’ Instantly the poor prelate mounted his horse, and rode hastily away to join the duke.

When the sun rose, not an enemy was to be seen about the city. The Genevans could not believe their eyes: the events of that memorable night seemed almost miraculous, and they were transported with joy, like men who have been saved from death. All the morning the streets were filled with people; they exchanged glances, they shook hands with 316each other; many blessed God; some could not believe that their catholic fellow-citizens were cognizant of the plot. One little incident removed every doubt. As some citizens happened to be passing the house of the keeper of the artillery, they heard the shrill voice of a woman screaming in great emotion: ‘Ha! traitor! you are betraying me as you betrayed the city!’ ... A man replied with abuse and blows; the screams of the wretched creature became louder and louder, and the coarse voice of another woman was mingled with hers. It was the Bossu, his wife, and servant: the keeper of the artillery had been surprised by his wife in flagrant infidelity. The huguenots, hearing the uproar, stopped and entered the house. ‘Yes,’ screamed the wife louder than ever; ‘yes, traitor, you gave Jean Levrat the keys through the loop-hole.’ Levrat, the Bossu, and the locksmith were immediately arrested.[610]

The leaders of the conspiracy remained, as usual, at liberty. Skulking in their houses, Guillet, De Prato, Perceval de Pesmes, the two Du Crests, the two Regis, and many others, knew well that they merited death more than Portier; and, affrighted like the hare in its form, which pricks up its ears to listen for the pursuing huntsman, they started at the slightest noise, and fancied every moment that the syndics or their officers were coming. As no one appeared, they formed a desperate resolution: disguising themselves in various ways, they left their houses and escaped; ‘and never returned to the city again,’ says Froment. The bishop’s conspiracy with Portier and the Pennets had forced several catholics to leave the council; the project of a night attack obliged many to leave Geneva. Every effort made by catholicism to rise helped it to descend, and every blow aimed at the Reformation for its destruction raised it still higher. The citizens remarked to one another, reports a contemporary, who has recorded the words: ‘It was God who brought down the hearts of our enemies, both without 317and within, so that they could not make use of their strength.’[611]

Vigilance And Meditation.

Meanwhile Geneva was not at ease. The Marshal of Burgundy and the Governor of Chablais had not appeared; and the enemy might have withdrawn only to wait for these powerful reinforcements. All the citizens were called to arms. ‘Throughout that week a strong guard was kept up, and the gates of the city were closed.’ As the episcopals had often had recourse to the bells to summon their partisans, ‘it was forbidden to ring the church-bells either day or night.’ A silence, accompanied with meditation and vigilance, prevailed through the city. The inhabitants were ready to sacrifice their lives, and showed their resolution by a deep earnestness, and not by idle boasts. The preachers would converse with the soldiers, speaking familiarly to them of the good fight, and the soldiers never grew tired of listening to them. ‘What a new way of making war,’ said many. ‘In old times the soldiers used to have dissolute women with them at their posts, but now they have preachers, and instead of debauchery and filthy language, every thing is turned to good.’[612]

Could such generous zeal save the city from the attacks of Savoy supported by France, Friburg, Burgundy, and the mamelukes? There were men who shook their heads with sorrow and ‘lived in fear and despondency.’ But ‘a friend sticketh closer than a brother.’ On the morning after the enterprise, a delegate from Lausanne arrived in Geneva, and although the Duke had given orders that the Estates of Vaud should make common cause with him, the messenger said: ‘We are ready, brethren, to send you a hundred arquebusiers if you want them.’ Neuchâtel made a similar offer. Berne commissioned Francis Nägeli the treasurer, the banneret Weingarten, and two other citizens, to exhort 318the Duke and Marshal of Burgundy to desist from hostilities. The Swiss cantons, assembled at Baden, forwarded a similar message to Charles III.

The partisans of the pope and of the bishop saw that as their enterprise had miscarried, their cause was lost. The leaders had escaped at first: now the flight became general. Even the friends of the Genevese franchises began to leave the city; it was, therefore, natural that the fanatics should depart to swell the ranks of the mamelukes. They took with them all they could carry, and used various stratagems to get out of the city, stealing away cautiously by night. Some took refuge on the left shore of the lake; a greater number in the castle of Peney, on the right bank of the Rhone, whence they kept the Genevese population continually on the alert. Their wives and children, left behind in the city, held secret interviews with them at the foot of the steep cliffs which line the banks of the river, and told them all the news. No Genevan citizen could start for Lyons without the refugees at Peney being informed of it; they were always on the look-out for travellers. It was a strange phenomenon, of which history presents, however, more than one example, this opposition of the papists and feudalists to civil and religious liberty degenerating into brigandage.[613]

The flight of the episcopalian laity destroyed the power of the clergy, whose support they were, and made the reformers masters of the situation. Geneva was resolved to keep within her walls none but those who were ready to shed their blood for her. One night when the drum called citizens to arms a timid man bade his wife say he was absent: some of his neighbors, however, forced their way into his chamber and found him hidden in bed, pretending to have the fever: he shook, indeed, but it was with fear. The coward was banished from the city for life, under pain of being flogged if he returned: a year later, however, he was 319indulgently readmitted, ‘because it is not given to every man to have the courage of a Cæsar,’ says the ‘Register’; but he was always looked upon as an alien. Courage was at that time one of the qualifications necessary for Genevese citizenship.[614]

Frightened Nuns.

While the mamelukes were indulging in highway robbery without the city, the weaker members of the episcopal party who still remained within it were living in fear. Their persons, their worship, their convents were respected: not a hair of their heads was touched; but they trembled lest the outrages of the refugees at Peney should excite the huguenots to take their revenge. The nuns especially were in perpetual alarm. One night, between eleven and twelve o’clock, the sisters of St. Claire were startled from their slumbers by a loud knocking at the door: scared at the noise, they listened with beating hearts. Then other knocks were heard. Faint and trembling, they crept from their beds. The huguenots are surely coming to avenge on them the perfidious night of the 31st of July! ‘The heretics,’ they whispered one to another, ‘have broken down the gates of the convent.’ The nuns ascribing guilty intentions to them, ran to the abbess in dismay: ‘My dear children,’ said she, ‘fight valiantly for the love of God.’ They waited, but nobody came.

The youngest of the nuns, who had been at service overnight with the rest of the community, and made drowsy by the long prayers, had fallen into a sound sleep; the under-superior had locked her in the church without observing her. About eleven o’clock the unlucky sister awoke: she looked round, and could not make out where she was.... At last she recognized the chapel; but the darkness, the loneliness, the place itself—all combined to frighten her. She fancied she could see the dead taking advantage of that silent hour to quit their graves and wander through the church.... Her limbs refused to move. At length she 320summoned up courage and rushed to the door. It was locked. In her fright, she gave it a violent blow. It was this which woke the sisters. Then she listened, and as no one came, she knocked again three times, as loud as she could.

While this was going on, the abbess prepared to receive the wolves who were about to devour her innocent lambs. She first desired to know if all her flock were present, and to her great anguish discovered that one was missing. Then another knock, louder than all the rest, was heard. ‘Let us go forth,’ said the abbess, ‘and enter the church, for it will be better for us to be before God than in the dormitory.’ They descended the stairs; the abbess put the key into the lock, opened the door ... and found before her the young nun, who, pale as death fainted away at her feet.[615]

The tales that men took pleasure in circulating, and sometimes even printing, about the reformers and the reformed, about Calvin and Luther in particular, often had no more reality than the imaginations of the nuns of St. Claire as to the designs of the huguenots, which had given the poor girls such a terrible fright; and they were less innocent.

(August and September, 1534.)

The friends of independence and of the Reformation had better grounded anxieties than those of the nuns of St. Claire: they understood that the attack had only been adjourned, and that they must hold themselves ready for severe 321struggles. Accordingly, Geneva mustered all her forces. ‘Let those who are abroad return home,’ said the Council: but alas! two of the most intrepid were in the prisons of the French primate, and about to be sent to the stake. The sentence condemning Baudichon de la Maisonneuve and his friend to death had been pronounced, as we have seen. They had been delivered by the priests to the secular arm, and were about to be executed, when a fresh attempt was made in their behalf.

Tales About Parel.

There was a patrician family in Berne, illustrious for its ancient nobility and valor, some of whose members had rendered signal services to France. In the 15th century, Nicholas of Diesbach, the avoyer, allied that puissant republic with Louis XI. against Charles the Bold, and had gained several victories over the Burgundian forces. At Pavia, in 1525, another of the family, John of Diesbach, commanded the Swiss auxiliary troops of France. Stationed on the right wing, at the head of 2,000 Helvetians, at first he drove back the imperialist infantry and cavalry. Francis I. was on the point of gaining the victory; but meanwhile his left wing had been annihilated; in that quarter Suffolk, the heir of the White Rose, the Duke of Lorraine’s brother, Nassau, Schomberg, La Tremouille, San Severino, and the veteran La Palisse, fell on the field of battle, and Montmorency was made prisoner. Nevertheless, the Swiss still held their ground manfully, when Alençon, the king’s brother-in-law, fleeing shamefully, and carrying after him part of the French men-at-arms, caused Diesbach’s soldiers, who were fighting at his side and already shouting victory, to waver. At that moment the lansquenets, commanded by the redoubtable Freundsberg, fell furiously on the Swiss and broke them. The Helvetians, seeing the Frenchmen retiring, believed they were to be sacrificed to the hatred of the Germans. John of Diesbach conjured and threatened them in vain; nothing could stop them. Then the valorous captain rushed forward alone against a battalion of lansquenets and fell dead. Bonnivet, in despair, stretched out his neck to 322the spears of the enemy, and was killed: and Francis I. who was the last to fight, yielded up his sword with a shudder to Lannoy.[616]

John of Diesbach had married a French lady, Mademoiselle de Refuge, to whom the king had promised a dowry of 10,000 livres, but had afterwards given her husband, as an equivalent, the lordship of Langes, which the latter had bequeathed to his wife. But in 1533 Francis I. had taken back the estate, without giving the promised dowry. The widow of the hero of Pavia, finding herself thus deprived of her property by the man for whom her husband had died, implored the intervention of Berne, and the chiefs of that republic had commissioned another Diesbach, Rodolph, to proceed to the court of France to support the just claims of his relation. Rodolph departed on the 12th of January, 1534, accompanied by George Schœner. This mission was destined to be of more importance to Geneva than to Berne.[617]

Rodolph of Diesbach himself was highly esteemed in France. He had passed his youth there, had studied at the University of Paris, and from 1507 to 1515 had taken part in the wars of Louis XII., and honorably distinguished himself. On his return to Berne, he was one of those who embraced the evangelical faith, and was often called to defend the interests of Geneva and the Reformation. While Rodolph was in France pleading the cause of his cousin, De la Maisonneuve and Janin were imprisoned at Lyons, and Diesbach received instructions from the lords of Berne to do all in his power to obtain their liberation from the king. He set about it with all the energy of a Bernese and a warrior; went to Blois, where Francis I. was then holding his court, and earnestly solicited the enlargement of the two evangelicals.[618] He regarded Baudichon de la Maisonneuve 323as his co-burgher and co-religionist, and saw clearly how useful his presence would be in Geneva. But, on the other hand, the catholic nobles and ultramontane priests urged the king to suffer the two Genevans to be burnt. How could Francis I., who had recently become the pope’s friend, and who had ordered the heretics in his kingdom to be brought to trial[619]—how could he save the heretics of Geneva? The friends as well as the enemies of the Reformation were in the keenest suspense. Weeks, and even months elapsed, without obtaining a decisive answer from the king.

A Terrible Necessity.

Geneva was greatly agitated during this long delay; but the absence of the two energetic huguenots did not hinder the work from being pursued with resolution. The magistrates desired to take and execute promptly the supreme measures rendered necessary by the danger of the country. A terrible and inexorable necessity continually rose before their minds. To save Geneva, a great portion of it must be destroyed.

The city was at that time composed of two parts: the city proper and the four suburbs. The suburb of the Temple, or Aigues Vives (Eaux Vives), stood on the left shore of the lake, and took its name from the church of St. John of Rhodes, which stood there.[620] The suburb of Palais lay to the left, on the picturesque banks of the Rhone; that of St. Leger extended from the city to the bridge thrown over the icy torrent of the Arve; and that of St. Victor, in which the monastery of that name was situated, stretched from Malagnou to Champel. This town beyond the walls not only had as many houses as the one within, but covered a far more extensive surface, and contained over six thousand inhabitants.

On the 23d August the Two Hundred members of the Great Council received a summons, bearing the words: ‘In 324consequent of urgent affairs of the city.’[621] Every one understood what they meant. The premier-syndic proposed to build up some of the gates, and to set a good guard; but added, that such measures alone were not sufficient; that, as the suburbs were very extensive, the enemy could establish himself in them; and that it was necessary unhesitatingly to knock down all the houses, barns, and walls, beginning with the nearest. Many were struck with grief when they heard the proposition. What a resolution! what a disaster! With their own hands the citizens were to destroy those peaceful homes in which their childhood had played, where they had been born, and where those whom they loved had died; and a great part of the population would have no other shelter left them than the vault of heaven. Yet the Two Hundred did not hesitate. The friends of the Reformation, in whose eyes the Gospel had shone with all its brightness, were prepared for the greatest sacrifices so that they might preserve it. Those who were not touched by religious motives were carried away by patriotic enthusiasm. ‘It is better to lose the hand than the arm ... the suburbs than the city,’ exclaimed the citizens. The resolution was agreed to; and without any delay—for the matter was urgent—the very same day, after dinner, the four syndics, accompanied by Aimé Levet and five other captains of the city, ‘went to give orders for the destruction of the suburbs.’ There were cries and tears here and there, but nearly all had formed the resolution to lay their goods, although with trembling hands, upon the altar of their country and their faith.

It must be done, for every day the danger appeared to draw nearer. The Genevese ambassadors at Berne wrote to the Council: ‘Be on your guard.’ Acts of violence and trifling skirmishes announced more serious combats. On the 14th of August, Richerme, a merchant of Geneva, returning from Lyons, was seized, dragged successively to three of the bishop’s castles, and put to the torture. On 325the 25th, Chabot, another citizen, was stopped at the Mont de Sion, taken to the castle of Peney, and also put to the torture; but the judges, wishing to give a proof of their good nature, added: ‘Do not let his bones be broken or his life endangered.’ They soon brought in a new prisoner.

The Embroiderer Of Avignon.

There was an embroiderer at Avignon, ‘so superstitious in fasting,’ that he had sometimes gone several days without eating or drinking. The poor artisan, having received the Gospel, had ceased to attend mass, and had consequently been sent to prison. The churchmen asked him how long it was since he had been present at the sacrifice of the altar. ‘Three years,’ he replied; ‘and with my own will neither myself nor any of my family would ever have gone there.’ When they heard him talk in this way, the priests did not dare put him to death, for they thought him mad. Six months afterwards there came a great pestilence; every one fled, and the prison-doors were left open: ‘seeing which the pious embroiderer went out.’ He thirsted for the Gospel, and knowing that there were great preachers at Geneva, he took the road to that city. His travelling expenses were not great: ‘he had been accustomed to go from Avignon to Lyons, more than sixty French leagues, for a sol-de-roi,’ says Froment. At last he reached the valley of the Leman, alone and a fugitive, but joyfully anticipating the words of life that he was soon to hear. Suddenly he was surrounded by a troop of horsemen, who asked him roughly: ‘Where are you going?’ ‘To Geneva.’ ‘What to do?’ The embroiderer answered frankly and courteously, as was his custom, ‘I am going to hear the Gospel preached; will you not go and hear it also?’ ‘No, indeed,’ answered the men. He began to press them: ‘Go, I entreat you,’ he said. ‘I am surprised at you: you are so near, and I am come expressly all the way from Avignon to hear it. I entreat you to come.’ ‘March, rascal!’ they cried, ‘and we will teach you to hear those devils of Geneva.’ They took him to Peney, and, on reaching the castle, said to him: ‘We will give you three strappadoes in the name of the three devils 326you wished to go and hear preach.’ Having tied his hands behind his back, they raised him to the top of a long beam of wood, and let him fall suddenly to within two feet of the ground. ‘That is in the name of Farel,’ they cried; then came one for Froment, and another for Viret. The poor fellow, all bruised as he was, getting on his legs as well as he could, again looked at his tormentors, and, touched with love for them, repeated, in a persuasive tone: ‘Come along with me and hear the Gospel.’ The indignant Peneysans answered roughly: ‘March back quickly to the place from whence you came,’ which he would not do for anything they could do to him. ‘He is out of his mind,’ they said; and, taking him for an idiot, they let him go. The poor man reached Geneva at last, and was lodged for nearly two months, says Froment, ‘with the author of this book, to whom he related the whole matter.’[622]

Such deeds of violence showed the Genevans that there was no time to lose. In the month of August the resolutions of the Council followed one another rapidly. On the 18th they ordered that the church and priory of St. Victor should be demolished; on the 23d, that all the houses, barns, and walls in the suburbs should be pulled down; and that a certain number of Swiss veteran soldiers should be enrolled who should be fed and lodged by the rich in turn; on the 24th, that all absentees should be summoned to return for the defence of the city; on the 1st of September, that it should be fortified on the side of the lake; on the 11th, that the trees around the walls which might screen the approach of the enemy should be cut down; and on the 13th, that every man should begin to pull down his house within two days, that is, by the 15th of September.[623]

The calamity then appeared before them as imminent and inexorable, and with all its coarser and sad realities. The weaker minds were distressed, the more excitable gave way to anger. In the suburbs there was much clamor. What! 327the houses to be levelled to the ground, like those of traitors, and that too by the very hands of the inhabitants! The priests shuddered at the thought that the churches of St. Victor, St. Leger, and of the Knights of Rhodes were to be destroyed. Discontented citizens pointed coolly to the solidity of the condemned edifices, and declared that it would not be possible to pull them down. And, finally, the chiefs of the catholic party, foreseeing that the measures which were to be the salvation of Reform would be the ruin of popery, determined to make a vigorous demonstration against them.

Thirty of the most notable catholics, headed by Anthony Fabri, one of the family of the celebrated Bishop Waldemar, and Philip de la Rive, waited upon the council. Fabri, who had been elected spokesman, was calm, but by his side stood De Muro (du Mur), who was much excited. ‘We demand that the suburbs be left in their present condition, as being beautiful, convenient, and more useful to the city than if they were destroyed.’ The council, whom it pained to impose such a sacrifice, reserved the power of compensating the greatest sufferers, but held to their orders. ‘I crave permission to leave the city,’ said De Muro, ‘with eight hundred of my co-burghers, for this demolition is an act of hostility against us.’[624]

Baudichon Liberated.

At the very time when certain of the citizens were threatening to leave Geneva, the friends of independence desired all the more to see the return of those who were away. There was one in particular whose decision and courage were appreciated by all. Suddenly, on the 26th of September, the very day when De Muro had used that threatening language, a report circulated through the city that Baudichon de la Maisonneuve and his companion had been set at liberty.

Rodolph of Diesbach and George Schœner had not ceased to implore the king’s intervention. Although the prince, who in a few months was to fill the streets of his capital 328with strappadoes and burning piles, did not feel any very sincere compassion for the two heretics, still he desired to conciliate the favor of the Swiss, and perhaps not being much inclined to restore her estates to John of Diesbach’s widow, he was not sorry to give the Bernese some other satisfaction. The cause of justice triumphed at last. Moved by Diesbach’s earnest solicitations, Francis I. granted the release of the prisoners. The two Bernese, instead of ‘tarrying to turn from side to side to the helps of this world,’ acknowledged the protection of God. ‘We have obtained their liberty,’ said the ambassadors, ‘God having given them to us.’[625] They started immediately for Lyons, furnished with letters under his Majesty’s seal, which they presented to the authorities in whose guard the prisoners were kept ‘until they should be burnt, as was the practice in those days.’[626] The gates of the prison were opened; De la Maisonneuve and Janin were given up to the Bernese. At the news of such an unprecedented act, the officials, inquisitors, and canons of St. John were amazed; all the priests of Lyons were sorely vexed, and the archbishop of Geneva still more so; but they were forced to be patient.[627] As for the prisoners, they knew that if God delivers his servants, it is not with the intent that they should abandon what they have begun. Instead of saying, when they were restored to liberty, Let us remain for a time in the shade, lest we be exposed to new dangers, they desired to work with greater zeal at the emancipation of their country. They travelled from Lyons to Geneva with the two lords of Berne, and were once more within the walls of that ancient city.

The Prisoners Restored.

There was still so much uneasiness felt about them, that on the 16th of September, when the news spread that some Bernese gentlemen had arrived at the hostelry of the Tour Perse[628] with Baudichon and Collonier, many persons would 329hardly believe it. God gave the Genevans more than they hoped for. When friends who have been supposed lost are found again, those who had sorrowed over their bereavement run to meet them, and feel an inexpressible satisfaction as they look at them. So it happened at Geneva when the two prisoners returned. There was great joy in the city: many gave thanks to God that ‘the violent course of the wolves who would have devoured the best sheep of the flock had been frustrated,’ and praised the King of France because he valued the arquebuses of the Swiss more than the paternosters of the priests.

Desirous of showing the ambassadors a mark of respectful gratitude, the four syndics and the councillors, with their ushers and serjeants, proceeded on the 17th of September to the Tour Perse[629] to hold an official sitting, at which the transfer of the prisoners was to be made. The chief magistrates of the republic having taken their seats in one of the large rooms, according to the usual order, Rodolph of Diesbach and G. Schœner entered, accompanied by the captives. Those noble gentlemen explained that they had come from Lyons and the court of France; that with God’s aid they had obtained the release of the two Genevans; that, according to rule, they ought to deliver the prisoners into the hands of the magnificent lords of Berne, to whose intervention their deliverance was due;[630] that they yielded, however, to the wishes of Baudichon and Collonier, who preferred to remain in the city of Geneva;[631] and that they only wanted a guarantee that the Council would be willing to produce them before Messieurs of Berne, whenever the latter demanded them.[632] The Genevese magistrates thanked the lords of Berne, and gave the required guarantee in writing.[633]

330At last De la Maisonneuve was free: he could return to his wife and children, and converse with his friends. The latter were never tired of listening to him: the particulars of his imprisonment, his examinations, and his dangers possessed the liveliest interest for them. Froment especially, who was fond of a gossip,[634] asked him many questions. ‘As Baudichon told me,’ we read in his Gestes, ‘all that could not be done without great expense, and his captivity cost him one thousand and fifty crowns of the sun.’[635]

A letter from Francis I. completed this episode in the history of the Reformation. Four days after the prisoners had been restored to their homes, that prince wrote to the syndics at Geneva:—[636]

‘To our very dear and good friends the lords of Geneva:

‘Very dear and good friends,—You know how, at your earnest prayer and request, and also at that of our very dear and great friends, confederates, allies, and gossips, the lords of the city and canton of Berne, we have restored and sent back certain prisoners who had, in this our kingdom, used words respecting the faith, such and of such consequence, that therefore they had been condemned to death. This we were right willing to do; for the affection we have to gratify you and the said lords of Berne, as well in this respect as in all others that may be possible to us, having perfect confidence that you are willing to do the like for us. For this cause, having been advertised that you have detained in prison in your city a monk our subject, Guy Furbity by name, of the order of Preaching Friars, for having held certain language and dogmatized things touching the faith of the Church, which did not seem good to you, and for which he is about to be brought to trial, we desire to pray you right affectionately by these presents, that, showing 331towards us reciprocal pleasure, you would immediately release the said Furbity our subject, without further proceedings against him for the reasons aforesaid. By so doing you will please us very agreeably. Praying the Creator to guard you, our very dear and good friends, in his most holy keeping. Written at Blois the xxist day of September, one thousand v hundred xxxiiij.

Françoys. Breton.

Furbity Set At Liberty.

Francis I. said: I send you back two prisoners, return me one. That seemed just and natural, yet the petty republic did not yield to the demand of the puissant king of France. The Council desired to follow conscientiously the legal course, and the rules of diplomacy. They found that the two cases were not identical; and as the Dominican had been imprisoned at the instance of the lords of Berne, it was agreed to ask their opinion first. The favor of the house of Valois could not make the magistrates of Geneva yield, even after the extraordinary boon they had just received: they desired, above all things, to follow the principles admitted in politics, and act justly towards the Bernese. Furbity was set at liberty at the beginning of 1536.

To have imprisoned the Dominican at all for preaching was a fault, and to keep him in prison was another; but in each case the fault was that of the age. With this reserve, we may pay to the courage of the weak the honor that is due to them. It is a noble thing in small states to hold firm to their principles in the presence of powerful empires, when they do so without presumption. And not only is it noble, it is salutary also, and invests them with a moral force which guarantees their existence. The petty republics of Switzerland and Geneva in particular have given more signal examples than that which has just been recorded.


(September 1534 to January 1535.)

Baudichon de la Maisonneuve and Janin re-entered Geneva the day after that on which the final order to demolish the suburbs was given. The captain of the Lutherans was restored to his country at the very moment when the deadliest blows were aimed at it. The coincidence was remarkable. The return of these two energetic citizens could not but give a fresh impetus to the resolution to sacrifice one half of the city in order to save the other. The first walls destined to fall were those of the monastery of St. Victor, which, as it stood at the gate of the city, might easily be occupied by the enemy’s army as an advanced post.[637] There were no tears shed over the destruction of that building, except such as might have been drawn down by the thought of its antiquity. Ever since Bonivard the prior had been prisoner at Chillon, the monks had shaken off every kind of restraint, and the monastery had become a sty of scandals and disorders. The friars had been in the habit of frequenting certain houses of ill fame in their suburbs; but now the convent was the scene of their continual orgies. No sooner was there a talk of destroying that nest of debauchery than the reprobates exhibited the most insatiable greediness. The monks and their mistresses began to pillage the monastery; they tore down and carried away everything that was of any value; at night, and sometimes even during the day, they were seen leaving the monastery 333with bundles, and hiding their plunder in the adjoining houses. The priory was thus not only emptied, but almost stripped to the bare walls.[638] What an ignoble fall was that of these pretended religious orders! Notwithstanding their robbery, the Council assigned the monks a residence in the city, and even a chapel, which was more than they deserved.

Then every man put his hand to the work. All was life and animation on those beautiful heights whence the eye takes in the lake, the Alps, the Jura, and the valley lying between them. First, the church was pulled down, and then the priory, and nothing was left but rubbish which encumbered the ground. That building, the most ancient in Geneva, was founded at the beginning of the sixth century by Queen Sedeleuba, sister of Queen Clotilda, in memory of the victories of her brother-in-law, Clovis;[639]—that temple where the body of St. Victor had been deposited during the night, and which (as it was said) a light from heaven pointed out to strangers,—that sanctuary to which the great ones of the earth had gone as pilgrims, was now an undistinguishable ruin. That monument, erected to commemorate the triumph of orthodoxy defended by Clovis over Arianism professed by Gondebald, crumbled to the ground, after lasting more than a thousand years, in the midst of the libertinism of its monks. A crown had been placed on the cradle of St. Victor—a rod should have been placed upon its ruins.

Lamentations Of The Dead.

Yet things that have been great in the eyes of men do not always end like those that have been vulgar. One day a strange report, set afloat by the monks and nuns, circulated through the city. During the night, voices, groans, and lamentations had been heard among the ruins of St. Victor. The wind, when it blows strong over those heights, often resembles the human voice. The devotees listened: again 334the plaintive tones were heard, and agitated them. ‘Ah!’ they exclaimed, ‘it is the dead groaning, and not without reason, because their repose has been disturbed.’ The crowd increased, and ere long ‘the ghosts were plainly lamenting, not only by night, but by day.’ If the dead lamented over the fall of St. Victor, the living had reason to weep still more over the church, whose monks had been its disgrace instead of its glory.

After the priory, the houses nearest to the city were pulled down one by one. When the citizens, wearied by their labors, sat down on the ruins to rest, they asked what was to become of them. ‘Where shall I store my goods, where shelter my wife and children?’ said Jean Montagnier. ‘And where shall I go myself?’ A poor mason, an infirm old man, burst into tears when he saw his wretched home demolished: the Council gave him a measure of wheat, and promised to pay his rent. But if the magistrates showed kindness to the wretched, they were inflexible to the rebels. Magdalen Picot, a widow, having insulted the syndics in a fit of passion, was sentenced to three days’ imprisonment. If the poor lamented their hovels, the rich regretted their beautiful houses, the pleasant gardens round them, the smiling meadows watered by running streams and overshadowed by majestic trees, the fountains and the temple of the Crusaders, whose Gothic walls imparted an antique and religious character to the pleasing picture. A poet gave utterance to their thoughts in these lines:—

Urbe fuere mihi majora suburbia quondam,
Templis et domibus nec speciosa minus,
Quinetiam irriguis pratis, hortis et amœnis;
Pascebant oculos hæc animosque magis.[640]

Amid such lamentations, all good citizens and zealous evangelicals remained firm; but De Muro with a great 335number of catholics quitted Geneva, and passed over to the enemy’s camp. Henceforward they were to fight no longer against the Reformation with secret conspiracies; they would attack it in open war: aperto bello patriam oppugnaturi.[641]

The Affrighted Nuns.

At the same time that the houses were demolished, ramparts were built. Tribolet, captain of Berne, and one of the envoys from that republic, a man of experience, quick and compassionate at the same time, directed the construction of the earthworks and masonry intended to fortify the city. Towards the end of September, he began to plot out the lines in a garden adjoining the convent of St. Claire. Rich and poor, great and small, wheeled their barrows filled with earth and stones. When the work was done, Tribolet decided that it must be continued into the next garden, that of the nuns; and on the 30th of September, as early as four in the morning, they were politely requested to remove from the garden everything they wished to keep. Sorely distressed at this terrible message, they began to call upon God through the intercession of the Virgin and the saints. ‘We are secluded from the world for the love of God,’ said the abbess to the Bernese captain; ‘forbear from breaking into our holy cloister.’ Tribolet explained to her that the safety of the city required it, and added that he would do his work, ‘whether they liked it or not.’ Thereupon the frightened sisters threw open the convent, and running into the church, fell prostrate to the earth, weeping bitterly. When the captain opened the door, and saw the poor women stretched on the pavement, he said kindly to them: ‘Do not be afraid, we shall do you no harm.’ The sisters were much surprised to find a heretic could be so good-natured.[642]

Meanwhile the work of destruction continued, and as the materials were employed to build the fortification and repair 336the breaches in the walls, we may say with Bonivard, ‘Etiam periere ruinæ:’ ‘the very ruins have perished.’

But what was to be done with the six thousand citizens expelled from their homes? Were they to be left to wander about, exposed to the robbers of the neighborhood? There would have been room for a great portion of them in the convents, but those buildings were kept closed. On the other hand, the houses of the huguenots were thrown open, even to catholics. The citizens had incurred debts through long wars, their trade was ruined and their fields laid waste.... Nevertheless he that possessed two rooms gave up one, and he who had a loaf of bread shared it with his brother. Syndic Duvilard was empowered to lodge provisionally, either in the state buildings or in private houses, such as had been deprived of their homes. If any destitute persons were seen loitering in the streets, benevolent men and pious women would accost them, take them home, sit them down at the family table, and every place however small, was fitted up with sleeping accommodation. The Council even gave aid and comfort to the rich. Butini of Miolans was lodged, says the Register, in the house of the curate of St. Leger.

The activity of the Genevese was constantly stimulated by the news which reached them from without. ‘The Duke of Savoy,’ said letters from Berne, ‘is collecting an army of brigands, and preparing perpetual troubles for you.’ Towards the end of September, the two Gallatins (John the notary and his son Pierre), having gone to their estate at Peicy for the vintage, were on their return summoned before the Council on a charge of communicating with the people in the castle of Peney, which was half a league distant. The father said that, while he was in the press-house pressing the grapes, Nicod de Prato and other Peneysans had called on him. Did any one ever refuse a visit paid in the press-house? They had taken a glass of wine together, and that was all. ‘As for me,’ said the son, ‘I confess that I went to Peney and drank with the episcopal fugitives there; 337they told me that ere long we should have a stout war; that it would not be a little one like De Mauloz’ night attack on the 31st of July; that they would come in great force, and that I should do well to leave the city. When I returned (continued Pierre) I reported it all to my captain.’ The two Gallatins were immediately discharged without any remark.[643]

The first enemy which the bishop loosed against his flock was famine: he gave orders to intercept the provisions all round the city. The market-place was deserted, the stores in the houses were gradually exhausted, and the episcopals flattered themselves that before long none but hungry phantoms would be seen in Geneva, instead of valiant citizens. ‘Oh, insensate shepherd! he robs even his sheep of their food, when he should feed them,’ said one who was among the number confined within the city walls. Unhappy bishop! unhappy Geneva![644]

Geneva Encircled With Iron.

As if starvation was not enough, the unnatural pastor surrounded Geneva with a circle of iron. His castle of Jussy to the east, at the foot of the Voirons; that of Peney to the west, on the banks of the Rhone; the Duke’s castle of Galliad to the south-west, on the heights overlooking the Arve; and to the north on the lake, the village of Versoix, at that time well defended: all these fortresses, filled with mamelukes and soldiers, hemmed in the city, and left no issue but by the lake. ‘In this way no one can leave Geneva,’ they said, ‘except at the risk of his life.’ The bishop followed the example given by dispossessed princes—nay, even by ecclesiastical authorities, and connived more or less at the brigands. Many gentlemen of those districts, returning with delight to a trade their fathers had formerly practised, kept watch in their eyries for the little merchant caravans, 338to pounce upon them. One day some devout catholics of Valais, on their way to France with a long file of well-laden mules, were stripped by these rough episcopals. Beyond the Fort de l’Ecluse was situated a castle—a thorough den of robbers—belonging to the Seigneur of Avanchi, ‘the cunningest and cruellest man ever known.’ Accompanied by a few savage mercenaries, he would lie in ambush near the high-road, and when travellers appeared, spring from the rocks like a wild beast, ‘tearing out the eyes of some, and cutting off the ears of others.’ D’Avanchi treated in this manner a poor tradesman who had printed some New Testaments;[645] and when the judge of the castle remonstrated with him for his cruelty, the seigneur killed him on the spot. He showed no preference, however, so far as religion was concerned. Having fallen in with some nuns one day, he graciously invited them to enter his mansion under pretence of giving them alms, and then maltreated them. The fierce and sensual wild-boar of the Jura was taken to Dôle, and there put to death by order of a catholic tribunal.[646]

The bishop now took another step: he ordered the episcopal see to be transferred from Geneva to the town of Gex, at the foot of the Jura, and gave instructions ‘that his council, court, judges, and all other officers should proceed thither.’ In the night of the 24th of September the episcopal officers escaped stealthily, and the city was left not only without prelate, but also without civil judges or courts of appeal. When the news of this flight got abroad in the morning, De la Maisonneuve, Levet, Salomon, and their friends felt an immense relief. At last they were free from that episcopal crew, who had so often caught the Genevese in their toils ‘by frauds and snares.’[647] The Council forbade the seals, the symbol of supreme authority, to be taken from 339Geneva.[648] The prince bishop assembled at Gex a great number of priests from the surrounding districts. ‘We must crush that Lutheran sect,’ he told them, ‘by war or otherwise. It is not enough to remain entrenched in our camp, we must force the enemy in theirs.’

Thunderbolts Against Geneva.

Pierre de la Baume launched his thunderbolts at last. In every parish of the Chablais, Faucigny, Gex, and Bugey, in every abbey, priory, and convent, the great excommunication was pronounced in his name, not only against the councils and citizens of Geneva, but against all who should hear the preachers or talk with them, and even against any persons who should enter the city for any purpose whatsoever. Hereafter, the superstitious rural population looked upon Geneva as a place inhabited by devils. Some men of Thonon, more curious than the rest, ventured to pay it a visit, and on their return declared ‘that the preachers were really men and not demons.’ These rash individuals were arrested and taken to Gex, where the bishop sent them to prison;[649] and after that time no one dared go to Geneva.

The friends of the Reformation were not discouraged by these hostile acts. ‘By Christmas at the latest,’ they said, ‘all the churches will be empty, and the whole city of one faith.’[650] ‘It is all for the best,’ added many. ‘Once upon a time the bishops usurped the franchises of the city; now they return them to us and go away. Well, then, let us do without bishops, and govern ourselves.’ The Council did not think fit to proceed so quickly, and merely resolved ‘that everything should be written down which the bishop had done against the city, by way of precaution against him.’[651] When the canons, the representatives of the prelate, assembled for their usual monthly meeting,[652] the syndics and council appeared before them: ‘Forsaken by our bishop, who is 340exciting cruel soldiers against his flock, what shall we do, reverend sirs?’ they asked. ‘The see is vacant: we pray you to recognise the fact, and to elect, as in your privilege, the necessary functionaries for the city, in the place of those who have deserted their office.’[653]

The canons having answered in a dilatory manner, the councils, who were always rigid observers of precedent, resolved to apply to the only authority that could decide between them and the bishop. The Genevese appealed to the pope. It was a strange step, but appeals to the Roman pontiff as head of the catholic world, partly founded on the forged decretals of the pseudo Isidore,[654] were then in full vigor. That petty people followed the path of legality, and by this means attained their end. The men who have succeeded, remarks an historian, are those who, in the very midst of a revolution, have neither accepted nor adopted a revolutionary policy.[655] On the 7th of October, 1534, the syndics and council entered an appeal at Rome, complaining that their bishop had deprived them of their franchises and jurisdiction. It was not a matter of religion, but of policy. The prince of the Vatican was called upon to fulfil his obligations. It was Rome who broke the bond: no answer was returned, which greatly delighted the evangelicals.[656]

Proceedings Of The Duke.

But as the pope laid down the crosier the duke took it up. He succeeded in gaining over some Bernese ambassadors who had been sent to him, and these men, enraptured with the prince’s courteous manners, tried to convince the people of Geneva of his goodness. ‘We know him,’ said the huguenot, ‘he has an ass’s head and a fox’s tail.’[657] The Bernese continued: ‘Everything will be forgiven, but on condition 341that you send away these new preachers; that you permit such preachings no longer; that the bishop be restored to his former estate, and finally that you live in the faith of our holy mother, the Church.’[658] The Genevans could hardly believe their ears. The Little and the Great Council having sent for the ambassadors of Berne, told them plainly and curtly: ‘You ask us to abandon our liberties and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We would sooner renounce father and mother, wife and children, we would sooner lose our goods and our life! Tell the duke we will set fire to the four corners of the city, before we dismiss the preachers who announce the Word of God.... Nevertheless, they offer to endure death, if it can be shown by Scripture that they are wrong.’ The men of Berne were greatly astonished at such a reply.[659]

The duke was still more astonished; the measure was full, the insolence of that handful of friends to the evangelical doctrine must be severely punished. ‘Seeing this, the duke and all his following (sequelle), more inflamed than ever with anger against Geneva, consulted together to make war upon it.’ From every quarter the heads of the clergy (and Bishop du Bellay in particular) conjured him ‘to support the authority of the holy faith in the city of Geneva.’[660] The persuasion of these prelates inflamed the prince with such zeal for the maintenance of the papacy, that, unmindful of every treaty, he sent letters to Valais and the catholic cantons, demanding their assistance propter fidem, in behalf of the true faith, against the cities of Geneva, Lausanne, and others.[661] At the same time he despatched orders to his governors, gentlemen, provosts and other officers, ‘to ruin and destroy Geneva.’[662] On the 20th of November a diet was held at Thonon to decide upon the fate of the city; and 342as the aristocratic influence prevailed just then at Berne, the Bernese deputies adopted the sinister resolutions of Savoy. Even Charles V. declared through an ambassador his support of the duke’s demands, and required that, prior to any other measure, the bishop should be restored to all his rights.

Happily the citizens of Geneva were not without timely warning of the storm that was about to burst upon them. The messengers, commissioned by Charles III. to carry his rigorous orders to his agents, had to pass through certain villages, where they would sometimes halt at the inn. Everybody noticed their embarrassed manner, and in some places there were well-disposed persons who stopped and searched them, and discovering their letters took them away and sent them to the syndics. The latter comprehended the danger impending over the city, and accordingly took the measures necessary for its defence.[663] The friends of independence and of the Reformation, instead of being dejected by such news, felt their courage increased. It was as if a spark had fallen upon powder; their spirits caught fire. The hour of sacrifices and energetic resolutions had arrived; there were no more paltry scruples, evasions or delays, no more timid compromises. For a thing to succeed, it must be done with decision. The Genevese therefore boldly grasped the hammer, and with fresh strength began to demolish the suburbs and popery at the same time. At the Pré l’Evêque, they took down a stone cross because (as they said) ‘it turned men away from the true cross of Jesus Christ.’[664] At St. Leger, as the church had been demolished, they destroyed the images also. Still the Roman worship remained free; while Rome was attacking Geneva, Geneva protected Rome. The canons having timidly asked the Council, on the 24th of December, if they might celebrate the Christmas matins next day, the syndics posted themselves at the doors 343of the different churches ‘with men-at-arms to prevent annoyance,’ until divine service was over.[665]

Switzerland Against Geneva.

Geneva had still one hope remaining. Would those same Switzers, who had shaken off the oppression of Austria, permit Savoy to place Geneva under the yoke? Would the protestant republic of Berne, which had done so much to sow the good seed in this allied city,—which to this end had brought thither and protected Farel, Viret, and Froment,—would that republic turn away, now that the grain was beginning to shoot forth, and the harvest was at hand? It seemed impossible. A diet was to meet at Lucerne in January, to deliberate what Switzerland should do in this conjuncture. All the ideas of the Genevans were concentred on that one point. Not only did a majority of the cantons, but the Bernese themselves, consent to the restoration of the duke and the bishop. They required, indeed, that liberty of conscience should be respected; ‘for,’ said they, ‘it does not depend upon man to believe what he wishes; faith is the gift of God.’ But the duke and the bishop had the frankness to reject such a condition: ‘We claim,’ they said, ‘the right of ordering everything that concerns religion in our states.’—‘We mean,’ added their representatives, ‘that the preachers shall be expelled from the city, and that Berne shall break off her alliance with it.’ At these words grief and indignation pierced the Genevan deputies like a sword. ‘What!’ they said; ‘the bishop complains of being robbed of his jurisdiction, and it is he who is the robber! He has been always wishing to strip Geneva of her franchises; and not long ago he transferred the officers of justice, the courts, and the tribunals, to a foreign country.’ The diet was inexorable. They resolved that the duke and the bishop should be reinstated in the possession of all their lordships and privileges. To no purpose did Syndic Claude Savoie and Jean Lullin, who were alarmed at this decision, hasten to Lucerne and declare that 344Geneva would never accept the articles voted. ‘You ought to thank us,’ answered the Swiss,—was it in irony or in sincerity?—‘instead of which you insult us. Accept the mandate.’—‘We cannot,’ proudly answered the deputies. ‘In that case,’ resumed the cantons, ‘we have only to place the matter in the hands of God.’[666]

Geneva was abandoned by all, even by Berne. The news filled the citizens with the liveliest emotion. There was nothing left them but God, and God is mighty. ‘Yes,’ said they, ‘be it so, let God decide.’ Men worked at the walls and prepared their arms, the women prayed, and the children in their games defied Savoy and the bishop. The bells of the demolished churches were melted down to make cannon. Every night, men on guard stretched the chains across the streets, and the watchword was to make ‘good ward and sure ward.’ Everything was carried out with order, calmness, and courage.[667]

Their enemies smiled at this activity, and asked how it could be possible for such a small city to resist the numerous forces about to march against it. But wiser men were not ignorant that in the world faith often prevails over superstition, wisdom over strength, piety over anger, and that the great mission falls ultimately to the just and the calm. Charles V., who aspired to place his sword in the balance, and other great and ambitious men, have had something gigantic in them; extraordinary ideas have flashed across their minds like lightning, and they have often cast a wide and sombre light over history; but they have founded nothing lasting. All great and solid creations belong to justice, perseverance, and faith.

The Song Of Resurrection.

The spirit of self-sacrifice and firmness with which the Genevans demolished one half of their city was a pledge of victory. At the beginning of 1535 the work was almost ended. A few, however, of the remoter buildings did not 345come down until 1536, and even 1537. Everything was levelled round the walls, the approaches to the place were free, the artillery could play without obstruction, the lines intended to cover the city were formed, the ramparts were built, and Geneva, witnessing the labors of her children, and her sudden and marvellous transformation, might well exclaim by the mouth of one of her poets:—

. . . . . Incepit tentandi causa pudoris
Alliciens varios hæc mea forma procos;
Qui me cum blandis non possent fallere verbis,
Ecce minas addunt, denique vimque parant.
Tunc ego non volui pulchrum præponere honesto,
Diripui rigida sed mea pulchra manu
Templa, domos, hortos, in propugnacula verti,
Arcerent stolidos quæ procul inde procos.
Diripui pulchrum certe, ut tutarer honestum.
E pulchra et fortis facta Geneva vocor.[668]

Geneva was then passing through the arduous ordeal of transformation. Rough blows assailed her, groans burst from her bosom, and on her features was the pallor of death. But in the hour when the sacrifice was thus accomplished on the altar, when riches and beauty were immolated to save independence and faith, when these proud thoughts agitated men’s hearts and made their presence known by a cry of agony or by words of high-mindedness, a mysterious light shone forth, in the midst of the darkness; liberty, morality, and the Gospel had appeared. Hopeful eyes had seen a new edifice, radiant with immortal glory, rising above the ruins of the old. The song then heard was not the song of death, but of resurrection.


(End of 1534 to August 1535.)

While the work of the Reformation appeared exposed to great dangers in a small city of the Alps, it had in the eyes of the optimists chances of success in two of the greatest countries of Europe—France and Italy. The two finest geniuses of the reform, Melancthon and Calvin, had been summoned to those two countries respectively. Luther, their superior by the movements of his heart and the simplicity of his faith, was inferior to them as a theologian, and they probably surpassed him in their capacity to comprehend in their thoughts all nations and all churches.

The first half of the sixteenth century was the epoch of a great transformation to the people of Europe; there had been nothing like it since the introduction of Christianity. During the middle ages, the pope was the guardian of Christendom, and the people were infants, who, not having attained the necessary age, could not act for themselves. The pontificial hierarchy opened or shut the gates of heaven, laid down what every man ought to believe and do, dominated in the councils of princes, and exercised a powerful influence over all public institutions. But a wardship is always provisional. When a man attains his majority, he enters into the enjoyment of his property and rights, and having to render an account to none but God, he walks without guardians by the light which his conscience gives him. There is also a time of majority for nations, and Christian society attained that age in the sixteenth century. From that moment it ceased to receive 347blindly all that the priests taught; it entered into a higher and more independent sphere. The teaching of man vanished away; the teaching of God began again. Once more those words were heard in Christendom which Paul of Tarsus had uttered in the first century: ‘I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.’[669] But it must be carefully observed that it was by throwing open the Bible to their generation that the reformers realized this sentence. If they had not restored a heavenly torch to man, if they had left him to himself in the thick shadows of the night, he would have remained blind, uneasy, restless, and unsatisfied. The holy emancipation of the sixteenth century invited those who listened to it to draw freely from the divine Word all that was necessary to scatter the darkness of their reason and fill up the void in their hearts. Elevating them above the goods of the body, above even arts, literature, science, and philosophy, it offered to their soul eternal treasures—God himself. The Gospel, then restored to the world, gave an unaccustomed force to the moral law, and thus conferred on the people who received it two boons,—order and liberty,—which the Vatican has never possessed within its precincts.

Alarm And Joy.

All men, however, did not understand that the majority which each must necessarily attain individually is at the same time essential to them collectively, and that the Church in particular must inevitably attain it. There were many, among those who were interested in the prosperity of nations, who felt alarm at the abolition of the papal guardianship. They saw that this stupendous act would work immense changes in the sphere of the mind; that society as a whole, literature, social life, politics, the relations of foreign countries with one another, would be made new. This prospect, which was a subject of joy to the greater number, excited the liveliest apprehensions in others. Those especially who had not learnt that man, as a moral being, can only be led by free convictions, imagined that all 348society would run wild and be lost if that power was suppressed which had so long intimidated and restrained it by the fear of excommunications and the stake. These men, alarmed at the sight of the free and living waters of reform and wishing at any cost to save the nations of Europe from the deluge which appeared to threaten them, thought it their duty to confine them still more, to restore, strengthen and raise the imperilled dikes, and thus keep the stagnant waters in the foul canals where they had stood for ages.

Notwithstanding his liberal tendencies with regard to literature and the arts, Francis I. was not exempt from these fears, and gave a helping hand to a restoration,—often a cruel restoration of the Romish jurisdiction. Henry VIII., of little interest as an individual, though great as a king, and who was truly the father, predecessor, and fore-runner of Elizabeth and her reign, even while striving ineffectually to preserve the catholic doctrines in his realm, separated it decisively from the papacy, and by so doing laid the foundations of the liberty and greatness of England. Francis I., on the other hand, maintained the papal supremacy in his dominions, and labored to restore it in the countries where it had been abolished. In 1534 and 1535 we see him making great exertions to that end, and finding numerous helpers to back him up.

The idea of restoring unity in the Christian Church of the West, not only engrossed the attention of those who were actuated by despotic views, but also of noble-minded and liberal men. ‘By what means can we succeed?’ they asked. The violent answered, ‘By force;’ but the wise represented that Christian unity could not be brought about by the sword. Those who were occupied with this great question determined to examine whether they could not solve it by means of mutual concessions; and they set about their task with different motives and in different tempers. They formed three categories.

There existed at that time in all parts of Europe men of wit and learning, children of the Renaissance, who disliked 349the superstitions and abuses of Rome, as well as the bold doctrines and severe precepts of the Reformation. They wanted a religion, but it must be an easy one, and more in conformity (as they held) with reason. Between Luther and the pope, they saw Erasmus, and that elegant and judicious writer was their apostle: hence the Elector of Saxony called them Erasmians.[670] They thought that by melting popery and protestantism together they might realize their dreams.

In like manner, too, there were persons to be found of greater or less eminence in whom the desire prevailed to maintain Europe in that papal wardship which had lasted through all the middle ages: they feared the most terrible convulsions if that supreme authority should come to an end. At their head in France was the king. Francis I. had also a more interested object: he desired, from political motives, to unite protestants and catholics, because he had need of Rome in Italy to recover his preponderance there, and of the protestants in Germany to humble Charles V. To this class also belonged, to a greater or less extent, William du Bellay, the king’s councillor and right hand in diplomacy. So far as concerns doctrine, both were on the side of Erasmus; but, in an ecclesiastical point of view, while the prince inclined to a moderate papal dominion, the minister would have preferred a still more liberal system.

The Moderate Evangelicals.

Finally, there were, particularly in Germany, a few evangelical Christians who consented to accept the episcopalian form, and even the primacy of a bishop, in the hope of obtaining the transformation of the doctrine and manners of the universal Church. Melancthon at Wittemberg, Bucer at Strasburg, and Professor Sturm at Paris, were the most eminent men of this school. Melancthon went farther than his colleagues. He believed that the great revolution then going on was salutary and even necessary; but he would have liked to see it limited and directed. Former ages had 350elaborated certain results which ought, in his opinion, to be handed down to ages to come; and he imagined that if the pope could be induced to receive the Gospel, that despot of old times might still be useful to the Church. Another and a still more urgent interest animated these pious men: it was necessary to rescue the victims of fanaticism, to extinguish the burning piles. The bloody and solemn executions which had taken place in Paris on the 21st of January, 1535, in presence of the king and court, had excited an indescribable horror everywhere. One might have imagined that those noble-hearted men foresaw the miseries of France, the battle-fields running with blood, and the night of St. Bartholomew with its murders ushered in by the death-knell from the steeple of St. Germain l’Auxerrois; that they saw pass before them those armies of fugitives whom the revocation of the Edict of Nantes scattered over the wide world.

One common feature characterized all three classes. Those who composed them were in general of an accommodating disposition, an easy manner, ready to sacrifice some part of what they thought true, in order to attain their end. But there were in Europe, on the side of Rome many inflexible papists, and on the side of the Reformation many determined protestants, who set truth above unity, and were resolved to do everything ‘so that the talent which God had entrusted to them might not be lost through their cowardice, or taken from them on account of their ingratitude.’[671]

Effects Of The Placards.

The famous placards posted up in the capital and all over France on that October night of 1534 had carried trouble into the hearts of the peacemakers. They had seen, as they imagined, the torch suddenly applied to the house in which they were quietly laboring to reconcile Rome and the Reformation. ‘Such a seditious act agitates the whole kingdom, and exposes us to the greatest dangers,’[672] wrote Sturm 351from Paris to Melancthon. ‘The authors of those placards are men of a fanatical turn, rebels who circulate pernicious sentiments, and who deserve chastisement,’ wrote Melancthon to the Bishop of Paris. But at the same time the most energetic of the German protestants, revolted by the cruelty of Francis I., refused to join in union with a prince who burnt their brethren. The King of France had formed the plan of a congress, destined to restore peace to Christendom; but an imprudent hand had applied the match to the mine, and the friends of peace were struck with terror and confusion. From that moment there was nothing heard but recriminations, reproaches, and altercations.

Francis I. saw clearly that, if his project was on the brink of failing, the fault was due mainly to his own violence; he therefore undertook to set straight the affairs he had so imprudently damaged. On the 1st February, 1535, he wrote to the evangelical princes of the empire, assuring them that there was no similarity between the German protestants and the French heretics, his victims. The contriver of the strappadoes of the 21st January, assumed a lofty tone, as if he were innocence itself. ‘I am insulted in Germany,’ he said, ‘in every place of assembly, and even at public banquets. It is said that people dressed like Turks can walk freely about the streets of Paris, but that no one dares appear there in German costume. People say that the Germans are looked upon here as heretics, and are arrested, tortured, and put to death. We think it our duty to reply to these calumnies. Just when we were on the point of coming to an understanding with you, certain mad-men endeavored to upset our work. I prefer to bury in darkness the paradoxes they have put forth; I am loth to set them before you, most illustrious princes, and thus display them in the sight of the world.[673] I think it sufficient to say 352that even you would have devoted them to execration. I wished to prevent the pestilence from spreading over France, but not a single German was sent to prison.[674] The men of your nation, princes and nobles, continue to be graciously received at my court; and as for the German students, merchants, and artisans who work in my kingdom, I treat them like my other subjects, and, I may say, like my own children.’ The letter produced some little effect, and there was a reaction on the other side of the Rhine. Melancthon resumed his schemes of reunion.

But a new change then occurred: suddenly, and with greater violence than ever, new difficulties arose, which threatened to make shipwreck of the whole business. Francis I. had caused the conciliatory opinions of Melancthon, Hedio, and Bucer to be circulated in Germany.[675] Some unwise and by no means upright adherents of catholicism mutilated and abridged those opinions,[676] and then proclaimed with an air of triumph that the heretics, with Melancthon at their head, were about to return into the bosom of the Church!... Excessive was the irritation of the evangelical flocks, and loud cries arose from every quarter against the temporizers and their weakness. They called to mind that truth is not a merchandise which can be cheapened; but a chain, of which if but one link be broken, all the rest is useless. ‘Melancthon is of opinion,’ said some, ‘that a single pontiff, residing at Rome, would be very useful to maintain harmony of faith between the different nations of Christendom. Bucer adds that we must not overthrow all that exists in popery, but restore in the protestant churches many of the practices observed by the ancients. The men who speak thus are deserters and turncoats. They betray 353our cause, they commit a crime.’[677] If such protestants as these were heard among the Lutherans, doctors such as Farel and Calvin spoke out still more plainly against all attempts at a union with popery. ‘It is wrong,’ wrote Calvin afterwards to some English friends, ‘to preserve such paltry rubbish, the sad relics of papal superstition, every recollection of which we ought to strive to extirpate.’[678] The thought that Francis I. was at the head of these negotiations filled the Swiss theologians in particular with ineffable disgust. ‘What good can be expected of that prince,’ said Bullinger, ‘that impure, profane, ambitious man?[679] He is dissembling: Christ and truth are of no account in his projects. His only thought is how to gain possession of Naples and Milan. What does this or that matter, so that he makes himself master of Italy?’ These honest Swiss were not wanting in common sense. Alarmed at the trap that was preparing for Reform, Bullinger, Blaarer, Zwyck, and other reformed divines wrote to Bucer: ‘It is of no use your contriving a reunion with the pope; thousands of protestants would rather forfeit their lives than follow you.’

At the same time the Sorbonne and its followers raised their voices still higher against all assimilation with Lutheran doctrines. The storm swelled on both sides, and burst upon the moderate party. Poor Bucer, driven in different directions, succumbed under the weight of his sorrow. ‘Would to God,’ he exclaimed, ‘that, like the French martyrs, I were delivered from this life to stand before the face of Jesus Christ!’[680]

Hope Of Union Lost.

Every hope of union seemed lost. The ship which the politic King of France had launched, and to which the hand 354of the pious Melancthon had fastened the banners of peace, had been carried upon the breakers; all attempts to get her out to sea again appeared useless; there was neither water enough to float her, nor wind enough to move her. She was about to be abandoned, when a sudden breeze extricated her from the shallows, and launched her once more upon the wide ocean.

Clement VII. having died of chagrin, occasioned by the prospect of a future in which he could see nothing but deception and sorrow,[681] the King of France considered himself thenceforward liberated from the promises made to Catherine’s uncle. Ere long the choice of the Sacred College gave him still greater liberty. Alexander Farnese, who, under the title of Paul III., succeeded Clement, was a man of the world; he had studied at Florence in the famous gardens of Lorenzo de’ Medici, and from his youth had lived an irregular life. On one occasion, being imprisoned by his mother’s orders in the castle of St. Angelo, he took advantage of the moment when the attention of his jailers was attracted by the procession of Corpus Christi to escape through a window by means of a rope. Although he had two illegitimate children, a son and a daughter, he was made cardinal, and from that hour kept his eyes steadily fixed upon the triple crown. He obtained it at last, at the age of sixty-seven, and declared that in religious matters he would follow very different principles from those of his predecessors. This man, who had so much need of reformation for himself and his family, was engrossed wholly with reforming the Church. We shall find not only a king of France, but a pope of Rome also, making advances to Melancthon. Leo X. bequeathed schism to Christendom. Paul III. undertook to restore unity, and thus hoped to acquire a greater glory than that of the Medicis. He promised the ambassadors of Charles V. to call a council, and four days after his election declared his intentions in full 355consistory. ‘I desire a reform,’ he said; ‘before we attempt to change the universal Church, we must first sweep out the court of Rome;’ and he nominated a congregation to draw up a plan of reform. Proud of his skill, he thought that everything would be easy to him, and already triumphed in imagination over the Germans, who were, in his opinion, so boorish, and the Swiss, who were so barbarous. Francis I., satisfied with this disposition of the pope, was not unaware, besides, that he had private means of communicating with him. The first secretary of his Holiness was Ambrosio, an influential man and by no means averse to presents. A person who had need of his services having given him sixty silver basins with as many ewers, ‘How is it,’ said a man one day, ‘that with all these basins to wash in, his hands are never clean?’[682]

Popery In France.

But the work of union was not to be so easy as the conjunction of two such stars as Farnese and Valois seemed to promise. While the Romish Church was being toned down at Rome, popery became stricter in France. The fanatical party that was to acquire a horrible celebrity by the crimes of the Bartholomew massacre and of the League, was beginning to take shape round the dauphin, the future Henry II. That youth of eighteen, who had not long returned from Madrid, was far from being lively, talkative, and independent, like a young Frenchman, but gloomy and silent, and appeared to live only to obey women. There were two at his side, admirably calculated to give him a papistical direction: first, his wife, Catherine de Medicis, and next his mistress, Diana of Poitiers, a widow, still beautiful in spite of her age, and who would not (as it has been said) have spoken to a heretic for an empire. The mistress and the wife, who were on the best of terms, and all of the dauphin’s party, endeavored to thwart the king’s plans. The most influential members of that faction were continually repeating to him that the protestants of Germany were quite as fanatical and seditious as those of France. At the same time, the 356emperor’s agents, animated by the same intentions, told the German protestants that Francis I. was an infidel in alliance with the Turks. The obstacles opposed in France and Germany to the reconciliation of Christendom were such that its realization appeared a matter of difficulty.

But in the midst of these intrigues the moderate party held firm. The Du Bellays belonged to one of the oldest families in France; their nobility could be traced back to the reign of Lothaire,[683] and their mother, Margaret de la Tour-Landry, reckoned among her ancestors a man who had occupied himself with laying down the rules of a good education. After a life of busy warfare, the Chevalier de la Tour-Landry, seignior of Bourmont and Claremont, who lived in the fourteenth century, wrote two works on education: one for his sons, the other for his daughters, copies of which became numerous. The treatise intended for the girls was printed in 1514, perhaps by the direction of the parents of the Du Bellays. ‘Out of the great affection I bear to my children,’ wrote the old cavalier, ‘whom I love as a father ought to love them, my heart will be filled with perfect joy if they grow up good and honorable, loving and serving God.’[684] William and John particularly seemed to have responded to this prayer. William, the elder, was not void of Christian sentiments. ‘I desire,’ he said, ‘that nothing may happen injurious to the cause of the Gospel and the glory of Christ;’[685] but he was specially one of the most distinguished generals and diplomatists of his epoch. He knew, says Brantome, the most private secrets of the emperor and of all the princes of Europe, so that people supposed him to have a familiar 357spirit. Although maimed in his limbs—the consequence of his campaigns—he was a man of indefatigable activity. His brother John, Bishop of Paris, who was also ‘another master-mind,’ professed like him an enlightened catholicism; and hence it happened that on the accession of Henry II. he was deprived of his rank by the intrigues of the papist party, and driven from France. Still, to show that he remained a catholic, he took up his residence in Rome.

Melancthon’s Position.

In 1535 the moderate catholic party, at the head of which were these two brothers, seeing the chances of success at Rome as well as at Paris, resolved to take a more decided step, and to invite Melancthon to France. The proposal was made to Francis I., and supported by all the members of the party. They knew that Melancthon was called ‘the master of Germany,’ and thought that if he came to France he would conciliate all parties by the culture of his mind, by his learning, wisdom, piety, and gentleness. One man, if he appears at the right moment, is sometimes sufficient to give a new direction to an entire epoch, to a whole nation. ‘Ah, sire,’ said Barnabas Voré de la Fosse, a learned and zealous French nobleman, who knew Germany well, and had tasted of the Gospel, ‘if you knew Melancthon, his uprightness, learning, and modesty! I am his disciple, and fear not to tell it you. Of all those who in our days have the reputation of learning, and who deserve it, he is the foremost.’[686]

These advances were not useless: Francis I. thought the priests very arrogant and noisy. His despotism made him incline to the side of the pope; but his love of letters, and his disgust at the monks, attracted him the other way. Just now he thought it possible to satisfy both these inclinations at once. Fully occupied with the effect of the moment, and inattentive to consequences, he passed rapidly from one extreme to another. At Marseilles he had thrown himself into the arms of Clement VII., now he made up his mind to hold out his hand to Melancthon. ‘Well!’ said 358the king, ‘since he differs so much from our rebels, let him come: I shall be enchanted to hear him.’ This gave great delight to the peacemakers. ‘God has seen the affliction of his children and heard their cries,’ exclaimed Sturm.[687] Francis I. ordered De la Fosse to proceed to Germany to urge Melancthon in person.

A king of France inviting a reformer to come and explain his views was something very new. The two principal obstacles which impeded the Reformation seemed now to be removed. The first was the character of the reformers in France, the exclusive firmness of their doctrines, and the strictness of their morality. Melancthon, the mild, the wise, the tolerant, the learned scholar, was to attempt the task. The second obstacle was the fickleness and opposition of Francis I.; but it was this prince who made the advances. There are hours of grace in the history of the human race, and one of those hours seemed to have arrived. ‘God, who rules the tempests,’ exclaimed Sturm, ‘is showing us a harbor of refuge.’[688]

Efforts Of The Mediators.

The friends of the Gospel and of light set earnestly to work. It was necessary to persuade Melancthon, the Elector, and the protestants of Germany, which might be a task of some difficulty. But the mediators did not shrink from before obstacles; they raised powerful batteries; they stretched the strings of their bow, and made a great effort to carry the fortress. Sturm, in particular, spared no exertions. The free courses he was giving at the Royal College, his lectures on Cicero, his logic, which, instead of preparing his disciples (among whom was Peter Ramus) for barren disputes, developed and adorned their minds—nothing could stop him. Sturm was not only an enlightened man, a humanist, appreciating the Beautiful in the productions of genius, but he had a deep feeling of the divine grandeur of the Gospel. Men of letters in those times, 359especially in Italy, were often negative in regard to the things of God, light in their conduct, without moral force, and consequently incapable of exercising a salutary influence over their contemporaries. Such was not Sturm: and while those beaux-esprits, those wits were making a useless display of their brilliant intelligence in drawing-rooms, that eminent man exhibited a Christian faith and life: he busied himself in the cultivation of all that is most exalted, and during his long career, never ceased from enlightening his contemporaries.[689] ‘The future of French protestantism is in your hands,’ he wrote to Bucer; ‘Melancthon’s answer and yours will decide whether the evangelicals are to enjoy liberty, or undergo the most cruel persecutions. When I see Francis I. meditating the revival of the Church, I recognize God, who inclines the hearts of princes. I do not doubt his sincerity; I see no hidden designs, no political motives; although a German by birth, I do not share my fellow-countrymen’s suspicions about him. The king, I am convinced, wishes to do all he can to reform the Church, and to give liberty of conscience to the French.’[690] Such was, then, the hope of the most generous spirits—such the aim of their labors.

Sturm, wishing to do everything in his power to give France that liberty and reformation, wrote personally to Melancthon. He was the man to be gained, and the professor set his heart upon gaining him. ‘How delighted I am at the thought that you will come to France!’ he said. ‘The king talks much about you; he praises your integrity, learning, and modesty; he ranks you above all the scholars of our time, and has declared that he is your disciple.[691] I shed tears when I think of the devouring flames that have 360consumed so many noble lives; but when I learn that the king invites you to advise with him as to the means of extinguishing those fires, then I feel that God is turning his eyes with love upon the souls who are threatened with unutterable calamities. What a strange thing! France appeals to you at the very time when our cause is so fiercely attacked. The king, who is of a good disposition at bottom, perceives so many defects in the old cause, and such imprudence in those who adhere to the truth, that he applies to you to find a remedy for these evils. O Melancthon! to see your face will be our salvation. Come into the midst of our violent tempests, and show us the haven. A refusal from you would keep our brethren suspended above the flames. Trouble yourself neither about emperors nor kings: those who invite you are men who are fighting against death. But they are not alone: the voice of Christ, nay, the voice of God himself calls you.’[692] The letter is dated from Paris, 4th March, 1535.

The Holy Scriptures, which were read wherever the Reform had penetrated, had revived in men’s hearts feelings of real unity and Christian charity. Such cries of distress could not fail to touch the protestants of Germany; Bucer, who had also been invited, made preparations for his departure. ‘The French, Germans, Italians, Spaniards, and other nations, who are they?’[693] he asked. ‘All our brethren in Jesus Christ. It is not this nation or that nation only, but all nations that the Father has given to the Son. I am ready,’ he wrote to Melancthon; ‘prepare for your departure.’

Importance Of France.

What could Melancthon do? that was the great question. Many persons, even in Germany, had hoped that France would put herself at the head of the great revival of the Church. Had not her kings, and especially Louis XII., often resisted Rome? Had not the university of Paris 361been the rival of the Vatican? Was it not a Frenchman who, cross in hand, had roused the West to march to the conquest of Jerusalem? Many believed that if France were transformed, all Christendom would be transformed with her. To a certain point, Melancthon had shared these ideas, but he was less eager than Bucer. The outspoken language of the placards had shocked him; but the burning piles erected in Paris had afterwards revolted him; he feared that the king’s plans were a mere trick, and his reform a phantom. Nevertheless, after reflecting upon the matter, he concluded that the conquest of such a mighty nation was a thing of supreme importance. His adhesion to the regenerating movement then accomplishing might decide its success, just as his hostility might destroy it. He must do something more than open his arms to France, he must go to meet her.

Melancthon understood the position and set to work. First, he wrote to the Bishop of Paris, in order to gain him over to the proposed union, by representing to him that the episcopal order ought to be maintained. The German doctor did not doubt that even under that form, the increasing consciousness of truth and justice, the living force of the Gospel, which was seen opening and increasing everywhere, would gain over to the Reformation the fellow-countrymen of St. Bernard and St. Louis. ‘France is, so to speak, the head of the Christian world,’ he wrote to the Bishop of Paris.[694] ‘The example of the most eminent people may exercise a great influence over others. If France is resolved to defend energetically the existing vices of the Church, good men of all countries will see their fondest desires vanish. But I have better hopes; the French nation possesses, I know, a remarkable zeal for piety.[695] All men turn their eyes to us; all conjure us, not only by their words, but 362by their tears, to prevent sound learning from being stifled, and Christ’s glory from being buried.’

On the same day, 9th of May, 1535, Melancthon wrote to Sturm: ‘I will not suffer myself to be prevented either by domestic ties or the fear of danger. There is no human grandeur which I can prefer to the glory of Christ. Only one thought checks me: I doubt of my ability to do any good; I fear it will be impossible to obtain from the king what I consider necessary to the glory of the Lord and the peace of France.[696] If you can dispel these apprehensions, I shall hasten to France, and no prison shall affright me. We must seek only for what is fitting for the Church and France. You know that kingdom. Speak. If you think I should do well to undertake the journey, I will start.’

Melancthon’s letter to the Bishop of Paris was not without effect. That prelate had just been made a cardinal; but the new dignity in nowise diminished his desire for the restoration of truth and unity in the Church; on the contrary, it gave him more power to realize the great project. The Reformation was approaching. Delighted with the sentiments expressed to him by the master of Germany, he communicated his letter to such as might feel an interest in it, and among others, no doubt, to the king. ‘There is not one of our friends here,’ he said, ‘to whom Melancthon’s mode of seeing things is not agreeable. As for myself, it is pleasant far beyond what I can express.’[697] It was the same with his brother William. While the new cardinal especially desired a union with Melancthon in the hope of obtaining a wise and pious reform, the councillor of Francis I. desired, while leaving to the pope his spiritual authority, to make France politically independent of Rome. The two brothers united in entreating the king to send for Luther’s friend. De la Fosse joined them, and all the friends of 363peace, in conjuring the king to give the German doctor some proof of his good-will. ‘He will come if you write to him,’ they said.

Letter Of The King.

Francis I. made up his mind, and instead of addressing the sovereign whose subject Melancthon was, the proud king of France wrote to the plain doctor of Wittemberg. This was not quite regular; had the monarch written to the elector, such a step might have produced very beneficial results; not so much because the susceptibility of the latter prince would not have been wounded, as because the reasons which Francis, with Du Bellay’s help, might have given him, would perhaps have convinced a ruler so friendly to the Gospel and to peace as John Frederick. It is sometimes useful to observe the rules of diplomacy. This is the letter from the King of France to the learned doctor, dated 23d of June, 1535.

‘Francis, by the grace of God King of the French, to our dear Philip Melancthon, greeting:

‘I have long since been informed by William du Bellay, my chamberlain and councillor, of the zeal with which you are endeavoring to appease the dissensions to which the Christian doctrine has given rise. I now learn from the letter which you have written to him, and from Voré de la Fosse, that you are much inclined to come to us, to confer with some of our most distinguished doctors on the means of restoring in the Church that divine harmony which is the first of all my desires.[698] Come then, either in an official character, or in your own name; you will be very acceptable to me, and you will learn, in either case, the interest I feel in the glory of your Germany and the peace of the universe.’

These declarations from the King of France forwarded the enterprise; before taking such a step, he must have 364been very clear in his intentions. We may well ask, however, if the letter was sincere. In history, as in nature, there are striking contrasts. While these things were passing in the upper regions of society, scenes were occurring in the lower regions which ran counter to those fine projects of princes and scholars. The Swiss divines maintained that the whole affair was a comedy in which the king and his ministers played the chief parts. That may be questionable, but the interlude was a blood-stained tragedy. In the very month when Francis I. wrote to Melancthon, a poor husbandman of La Bresse, John Cornon, was arrested while at work in the fields, and taken to Macon. The judges, who expected to see an idiot appear before them, were astonished when they heard that poor peasant proving to them, in his simple patois, the truth of his faith, and displaying an extensive knowledge of Holy Scripture. As the pious husbandman remained unshaken in his attachment to the all-sufficient grace of Jesus Christ, he was condemned to death, dragged on a hurdle to the place of execution, and there burnt alive.[699]

In the following month of July, Dennis Brion, a humble barber of Sancerre, near Paris, and a reputed heretic, was taken in his shop. He had often expounded the Scriptures, not only to those who visited him, but also to a number of persons who assembled to hear him. Nothing annoyed the priests so much as these meetings, where simple Christians, speaking in succession, bore testimony to the light and consolation they had found in the Bible. Brion was condemned, as the husbandman of La Bresse had been, and his death was made a great show. It was the time of the grands jours at Angers; and there he was burnt alive, in the midst of an immense concourse of people from every quarter.[700] It is probable that those executions were not the result of any new orders, but a mere sequel to the cruelties of the 21st of January, the influence of which had only then reached the provinces.

365These two executions, however, made the necessity of laboring to restore peace and unity still more keenly felt. Those engaged in the task saw but one means: to admit on one side the evangelical doctrine, and on the other the episcopal form with a bishop primus inter pares. Western Christendom would thus have a protestant body with a Roman dress. The Church of the Reformation (it was said) holds to doctrine before all things, and the Church of Rome to its government; let us unite the two elements. The Wittemberg doctors hoped that the substance would prevail over the form; the Roman doctors that the form would prevail over the substance; but many on both sides honestly believed that the proposed combination would succeed and be perpetual.

Du Bellay Goes To Rome.

At the same time as De la Fosse started for Wittemberg, the new cardinal, Du Bellay, departed for Rome: two French embassies were to be simultaneously in the two rival cities. The ostensible object of the cardinal’s journey was not the great matter which the king had at heart, but to thank the pope for the dignity conferred upon him; still it was the intention and the charge of the Bishop of Paris to do all in his power to induce the catholic Church to come to an understanding with the protestants. Before quitting France, he wrote to Melancthon: ‘There is nothing I desire more earnestly than to put an end to the divisions which are shaking the Church of Christ. My dear Melancthon, do all you can to bring about this happy pacification.[701] If you come here, you will have all good men with you, and especially the king, who is not only in name, but in reality, most Christian. When you have conferred with him thoroughly, which will be soon, I trust, there is nothing that we may not hope for. God grant that at Rome, whither I am going with all speed, I may obtain, in behalf of the work I meditate, all the success that I desire.’[702]

366The cardinal’s journey was of great importance. The party to which he belonged, which desired one sole Catholic Church, in which evangelical doctrines and Romish forms should be skilfully combined, was acquiring favor in the metropolis of catholicism. The new pope raised to the cardinalate Contarini and several other prelates who were known for their evangelical sentiments and the purity of their lives. He left them entire liberty; he permitted them to contradict him in the consistory, and even encouraged them to do so. The hope of a reform grew greater day by day in Italy.[703] It thus happened that Cardinal du Bellay found himself in a very favorable atmosphere at Rome: he would be backed by the influence of France, and to a certain point by the imperial influence also, for no one desired more strongly than Charles V. an arrangement between catholics and protestants. The Bishop of Paris, an enlightened and skilful diplomatist and pious man, had a noble appearance, and displayed in every act the mark of a great soul.[704] He thus won men’s hearts, and might, in concert with Melancthon, be the chosen instrument to establish the so much desired unity in the Church.

Du Bellay To Melancthon.

While he was on his way to confer with the pope and cardinals, others were canvassing Melancthon and the protestants. De la Fosse left for Wittemberg, bearing the king’s letter, and William du Bellay, an intelligent statesman, who was determined to spare no pains to bring the great scheme to a successful issue, wrote to the German doctor, explaining motives and removing objections. In his eyes the cause in question was the greatest of all: it was the cause of religion and of France. ‘Let us beware,’ wrote the councillor of Francis I. to Melancthon, ‘let us beware of irritating the king, whose favor you will confess is necessary to us. If, after he has written to you with his own hand, after 367you have almost given your consent, after he has sent you a deputation, in whose company you could make the journey without danger,—if you finally refuse to come to France, I much fear that the monarch will not look upon it with a favorable eye. It is necessary both to France and religion that you comply with the king’s request.[705] Fear not the influence of the wicked, who cannot endure to be deprived of anything in order that the glory of Jesus Christ should be increased.[706] The king is skilful, prudent, yielding, and allows himself to be convinced by sound reasons. If you have an interview with him, if you talk with him, if you set your motives before him, you will inflame him with an admirable zeal for your cause.[707] Do not think you will have to dissemble or give way.... No; the king will praise your courage in such serious matters more than he would praise your weakness. I therefore exhort and conjure you in Christ’s name not to miss the opportunity of doing the noblest of all the works which it is possible to perform among men.’

As we read these important letters, these touching solicitations, and the firm opinions of the councillor of Francis I., we are tempted to inquire what is their date. Is it in reality only five months after the strappadoes? One circumstance explains the startling contrast. France might say: ‘I feel two natures in me.’ Which of them shall prevail? That is the question. Will it be the intelligence, frankness, love of liberty, and presentiment of the moral responsibility of man, which are often found in the French people; or the incredulity, superstition, sensuality, cruelty, and despotism, of which Catherine de Medicis, her husband, and her sons were the types? Shall we see a people, eager for liberty, submitting in religious things to the yoke of a Church which never allows any independence to individual thought? Strange to say, the solution of this important question seemed 368to depend upon a reformer. Should Melancthon come to France, he would, in the opinion of the Du Bellays and the best intellects of the age, inaugurate with God’s help in that illustrious country the reign of the Gospel and liberty, and put an end to the usurpations of Rome.

If the great enterprise at which some of the greatest and most powerful personages were then working succeeded, if the tendency of Catherine and her sons (continued unfortunately by the Bourbons) were overcome, France was saved. It was a solemn opportunity. Never, perhaps, had that great nation been nearer the most important transformation.

In addition to the appeals of Du Bellay, no means were spared to persuade Germany. Sturm wrote another letter to the Wittemberg doctor, telling him that the king was not very far from sharing the religious ideas of the protestants, and that, if his views were laid clearly and fearlessly before him, the reformer would find that the sovereign agreed with him on many important points. And more than this, Claude Baduel, who, after studying at Wittemberg, was in succession professor at Paris, rector at Nismes, and pastor at Geneva, was intrusted by the Queen of Navarre with a mission to Melancthon. Francis I., wishing to pass from words to deeds, published an amnesty on the 16th July, 1535, in which he declared that ‘the anger of our Lord being appeased, persons accused or suspected should not be molested, that all prisoners should be set at liberty, their confiscated goods restored, and the fugitives permitted to re-enter the kingdom, provided they lived as good catholic Christians.’[708]

As Francis I. did not wish to alarm the court of Rome, and desired to prevent it from interfering and seeking to disturb and thwart his plans, he called Cardinal du Bellay to him a short time before his departure, and said: ‘You will give the Holy Father to understand that I am sending your brother to the protestants of Germany to get what he can from them; at the very least to prevail on them to acknowledge 369the power of the pope as head of the Church universal. With regard to faith, religion, ceremonies, institutions, and doctrines, he will preserve such as it will be proper to preserve,—at least, what may reasonably be tolerated, while waiting the decision of the council.... Matters being thus arranged, our Holy Father will then be able earnestly and joyfully to summon a council to meet at Rome, and his authority will remain sure and flourishing; for, if the enemies of the Holy See once draw in their horns in Germany, they will do the same in France, Italy, England, Scotland, and Denmark.’[709]

The opinions of Francis I. come out clearly in these instructions. The only thing he cared about was the preservation of the pope’s temporal power. As for religion, ceremonies, and doctrines, he would try to come to an understanding,—he would get what he could; but the protestants must pull in their horns,—must renounce their independent bearing. The king declared himself satisfied, provided the people of Europe continued to walk beneath the Caudine forks of Romish power.

Conference With The Reformers.

It was not long before the king showed what were his real intentions, and towards what kind of reconciliation a council would have to labor, if one should ever be assembled, which was very doubtful. On the 20th July, the Bishop of Senlis, his confessor, requested the Sorbonne to nominate ten or twelve of its theologians to confer with the reformers. If a bombshell had fallen in the midst of the Faculty, it could not have caused greater alarm. ‘What an unprecedented proposal!’ exclaimed the doctors; ‘is it a jest or an insult?’ For two days they remained in deliberation. ‘We will nominate deputies,’ said the assembly, ‘but for the purpose of remonstrating with the king.’ ‘Sire,’ boldly said these delegates, ‘your proposal is quite useless and supremely dangerous. Useless, for the heretics will hear of nothing but Holy Scripture; dangerous, for the catholics, 370who are weak in faith, may be perverted by the objections of the heretic.... Let the Germans communicate to us the articles on which they have need of instruction, we will give it them willingly; but there can be no discussion with heretics. If we meet them, it can only be as their judges. It is a divine and a human law to cut off the corrupted members from the body. If such is the duty of the State against assassins, much more is it their duty against schismatics who destroy souls by their rebellion.’[710]

These different movements did not take place in secret; they were talked about all over the city, and far beyond it. Enlightened minds were much amused by the fear which the doctors of the Sorbonne had of speaking. There was no lack of remarks on that subject. ‘We must not chatter and babble overmuch about the Gospel; but it is absurd that, when anybody inquires into our faith, we should say nothing in defence of it. Let us discourse about the mysteries of God peaceably and mildly: to be silent is a supineness and cowardice worthy of the sneers of unbelievers.’[711] When Marot the poet heard of the answer of the Sorbonne, he said:—

Je ne dis pas que Mélancthon
Ne déclare au roi son advis;
Mais de disputer vis-à-vis ...
Nos maîtres n’y veulent entendre.

The politicians were not silent. The prospect of an agreement with the protestants deeply moved the chiefs of the Roman party, who resolved to do all in their power to oppose the attempt. Montmorency, the grand master, the Cardinal de Tournon, the Bishop of Soissons, de Chateaubriand, and others exerted all their influence to prevent Melancthon from coming to France, Cardinal du Bellay from succeeding at Rome, and catholics and protestants from shaking hands together under the auspices of Francis I.

371This fanatical party, which was to make common cause with the Jesuits, already forestalled them in cunning. ‘One morning,’, say Roman-catholic historians,[712] ‘Cardinal de Tournon appeared at the king’s levée, reading a book magnificently bound.’ ‘Cardinal, what a handsome book you have there!’ said the king. ‘Sire,’ replied De Tournon, ‘it is the work of an illustrious martyr, Saint Irenæus, who presided over the Church of Lyons in the second century. I was reading the passage which says that John the Evangelist, being about to enter some public baths, and learning that the heretic Cerinthus was inside, hastily retired, exclaiming: “Let us fly, my children, lest we be swallowed up with the enemies of the Lord.” That is what the apostles thought of heretics; and yet you, Sire, the eldest son of the Church, intend inviting to your court the most celebrated disciple of that arch-heretic Luther.’ De Tournon added that an alliance with the Lutherans would not only cause Milan to be lost to France, but would throw all the catholic powers into the arms of the emperor.[713] Francis I., though persisting in his scheme, saw that he could not force those to speak who had made up their minds to be silent; and wishing to give De Tournon some little satisfaction he let the Faculty know that he would not ask them to confer with the reformers. The king intended to hear both parties; he sought to place himself between the two stormy seas, like a quiet channel, which communicates with both oceans, and in which it was possible to manœuvre undisturbed by tempests.

Is A Mixed Congress Possible?

The refusal of the Sorbonne, at that time more papistical than the pope himself, does not imply that a conference between protestant and catholic theologians was impossible; for six years later such a conference really did take place at Ratisbon, and nearly succeeded. A committee, half protestant, half Romanist, in which Melancthon and Bucer sat, and in which the pious Cardinal Contarini took part as papal 372legate, admitted the evangelical faith in all essential points, and declared in particular that man is justified not by his own merits, but by faith alone in the merits of Christ, pointing out, however, as the protestants had always done, that the faith which justifies must work by love. That meeting of Ratisbon came to nothing: it could come to nothing. A gleam of light shone forth, but a breath from Rome extinguished the torch, and Contarini submitted in silence. The conference, however, remains in history as a solemn homage, paid by the most believing members of the Roman-catholic Church to the Christian doctrines of the Reformation.[714]

(August to November 1535.)

Individuality And Community.

Was the union desired by so many eminent men to be for good or for evil? On this question different opinions may be, and have been, entertained. Certain minds like to isolate themselves, and look with mistrust and disdain upon human associations. It is true that man exists first as an individual, and that before all things he must be himself; but he does not exist alone: he is a member of a body, and this forms the second part of his existence. Human life is both a monologue and a dialogue. Before the era of Christianity, these two essential modes of being had but an imperfect existence: on the one hand, social institutions absorbed the individual, and on the other, each nation was encamped apart. Christianity aggrandized individuality by calling 373men to unite with God, and at the same time it proclaimed the great unity of the human race, and undertook to make into one family all the families of the earth, by giving the same heavenly Father to all. It imparts a fresh intensity to individuality by teaching man that a single soul is in God’s eyes of more value than the whole universe; but this, far from doing society an injury, becomes the source of great prosperity to it. The more an individual is developed in a Christian sense, the more useful a member he becomes of the nation and of the human race. Individuality and community are the two poles of life; and it is necessary to maintain both, in order that humanity may fulfil its mission in revolving ages. The mischief lies in giving an unjust pre-eminence to either of the two elements. Romish unity, which encroaches upon individuality, is an obstacle to real Christian civilization; while an extreme individuality, which isolates man, is full of peril both to society and to the individual himself. It would therefore be unreasonable to condemn or to approve absolutely the eminent men who in 1535 endeavored to restore unity to the Church. The question is to know whether, by reconstructing catholicity, they intended or not to sacrifice individual liberty. If they desired a real Christian union, their work was good; if, on the contrary, they aimed at restoring unity with a hierarchical object, with a despotic spirit, their work was bad.

There was another question on which men were not more agreed. Would the great undertaking succeed? France continued to ask for Melancthon; would Germany reply to her advances? We must briefly glance at the events which had taken place in the empire since the agreement between the catholics and protestants concluded, as we have seen, in July, 1532.[715] These events may help us to solve the question.

It had been stipulated in the religious peace that all Germans should show to one another a sincere and Christian friendship. In the treaty of Cadan (29th June, 1534), 374Ferdinand, who had been recognized as King of the Romans, had undertaken, both for himself and for Charles V., to protect the protestants against the proceedings of the imperial court. Somewhat later, the city of Münster, in Westphalia, had become the theatre of the extravagances of fanaticism. John Bockhold, a tailor of Leyden, setting himself up for a prophet, had made himself master of the city, and been proclaimed king of Zion. He had also established a community of goods, and attempted, like other sectarians, to restore polygamy. He used to parade the city, wearing a golden crown; to sit in judgment in the market-place, and would often cut off the head of a condemned person. A pulpit was erected at the side of the throne, and after the sermon the whole congregation would sometimes begin to dance. The Landgrave, Philip of Hesse, one of the leaders of the protestant cause, marched against these madmen, took Münster on the 24th June, 1535, and put an end to the pretended kingdom of Zion.[716] These extravagances did not injure the protestant cause, which was not confounded with a brutal communism, reeking with cruelty and debauchery; besides, it was the protestants, and not the catholics, who had put them down. But from that hour, the evangelicals felt more strongly than ever the necessity of resisting the sectarian spirit: this they had done at Wittemberg as early as 1522. At last it appeared clearer every day that the free and Christian general council, which they had so often demanded, would be granted them. All the events, which we have indicated, seemed to have prepared protestant Germany to accept the proposals of France.

An Important Mission.

Voré de la Fosse, bearing letters from Francis I., William du Bellay, and other friends of the union, was going to Germany to try and bring it to a successful issue. De la Fosse was not such a distinguished ambassador as those who figured at London and at Rome, and the power to which he was accredited was a professor in a petty town of Saxony. 375But Germany called this professor her ‘master,’ and De la Fosse considered his mission a more important one than any that had been confided to dukes and cardinals. Christendom was weakened by being severed into two parts; he was going to re-establish unity, and revive and purify the old member by the life of the new one. The Christian Church thus strengthened would be made capable of the greatest conquests. On the success of the steps that were about to be taken depended, in the opinion of De la Fosse and his friends, the destiny of the world.

The envoy of Francis I. arrived at Wittemberg on the 4th of August, 1535, and immediately paid Melancthon a visit, at which he delivered the letters intrusted to him, and warmly explained the motives which ought to induce the reformer to proceed to France. De la Fosse’s candor, his love for the Gospel, and his zeal gained the heart of Luther’s friend. By degrees a sincere friendship grew up between them; and when Melancthon afterwards wanted to justify himself in the eyes of the French, he appealed to the testimony of the ‘very good and very excellent Voré.’[717] But if the messenger pleased him, the message filled his heart with trouble: the perusal of the letters from the king, Du Bellay, and Sturm brought the doubts of this man of peace to a climax. He saw powerful reasons for going to France and equally powerful reasons for staying in Germany. To use the expression of a reformer, there were two batteries firing upon him by turns from opposite quarters, now driving him to the right, now to the left. What would Charles V. say, if a German should go to the court of his great adversary? Besides, what was to be expected from the Sorbonne, the clergy, and the court? Contempt.... He would not go. On the other hand, Melancthon had before him a letter from the king, pressing him to come to Paris. An influential nation might be gained to the Gospel, and carry all the West along with it. When the 376Lord calls, must we allow ourselves to be stopped by fear?... He hesitated no longer: he would depart. Voré de la Fosse was delighted. But erelong other thoughts sprang up to torment the doctor’s imagination. What was there not to be feared from a prince who had sworn, standing before the stake at which he was burning his subjects, that to stop heresy he would, if necessary, cut off his own arm and cast it into the fire?... In that terrible day of the strappadoes, a deep gulf had opened in the midst of the church. Was it his business to throw himself, Curtius-like, into the abyss, in order that the gulf should close over him?... Melancthon would willingly leave to the young Roman the glory of devoting himself to the infernal gods.

De la Fosse visited the illustrious professor daily, and employed every means to induce him to cross the Rhine.[718] ‘We will do whatever you desire,’ he said. ‘Do you wish for royal letters to secure to you full liberty of going to France and returning? You shall have them. Do you ask for hostages as guarantees for your return? You shall have them also. Do you want an armed guard of honor to escort you and bring you back? It shall be given you.[719] We will spare nothing. On your interview with the king depends not only the fate of France, but (so to speak) of the whole world.[720] Hearken to the friends of the Gospel who dwell in Paris. Threatening waves surround us, they say by my mouth; furious tempests assail us; but the moment you come, we shall find ourselves, as it were, miraculously transported into the safest of havens.[721] If, on the contrary, you despise the king’s invitation, all hope is lost 377for us. The fires now slumbering will instantly shoot forth their flames, and there will be a cruel return of the most frightful tortures.[722] It is not only Sturm, Du Bellay, and other friends like them who invite you, but all the pious Christians of France. They are silent, no doubt—those whom the cruellest of punishments have laid among the dead, and even those who, immured in dungeons, are separated from us by doors of iron; but, if their voices cannot reach you, listen at least to one mighty voice, the voice of God himself, the voice of Jesus Christ.’[723]

Melancthon A Man Of God.

When Melancthon heard this appeal, he was agitated and overpowered.[724] What an immense task! These Frenchmen are placing the world on his shoulders! Can such a poor Atlas as he is bear it? How must he decide? What must he do? In a short time his perplexity was again increased. The French gentleman had hardly left the room when his wife, Catherine daughter of the Burgomaster of Wittemberg, her relations, her young children, and some of his best friends surrounded him and entreated him not to leave them. They were convinced that, if Melancthon once set foot in that city ‘which killeth the prophets,’ they would never see him again. They described the traps laid for him; they reminded him that no safe-conduct had been given him; they shed tears, they clung to him, and yet he did not give way.

Melancthon was a man of God, and prayed his heavenly Father to show him the road he ought to take; he thoroughly weighed the arguments for and against his going. ‘The thought of myself and of mine,’ he said, ‘the remoteness of the place to which I am invited, and fear of the dangers that await me ought not to stop me.[725] Nothing should be 378more sacred to me than the glory of the Son of God, the deliverance of so many pious men, and the peace of the Church troubled by such great tempests. Upon that all my thoughts ought to be concentred; but this is what disturbs me: I fear to act imprudently in a matter of such great importance, and to make the disease still more incurable through my precipitancy. Will not the French, while giving way on some trivial points which they must necessarily renounce, retain the most important articles in which falsehood and impiety are especially found?[726] Alas! such patchwork would produce more harm than good.’

There was much truth in these fears; but De la Fosse, returning to his friend, sought to banish his apprehensions, and assured him that the disposition of Francis I. was excellent at bottom. ‘Yes,’ replied Luther’s friend, ‘but is he in a position to act upon it?’[727] He expected nothing from a conference with fanatical doctors. Besides, the Sorbonne refused all discussion. ‘The king,’ he said, ‘is not the Church. A council alone has power to reform it; and therefore the prince ought to set his heart upon hastening its convocation. All other means of succoring afflicted Christendom are useless and dangerous.’

De la Fosse turned Melancthon’s objection against him. ‘At least we must prepare the way for the council,’ he said; ‘and it is just on that account that the King of France wishes to converse with you.’ Then, desiring to strike home, the envoy of Francis I. continued: ‘The king never had anything more at heart than to heal the wounds of the Church: he has never shown so much care, anxiety, and zeal.[728] If you comply with his wishes, you will be received with more joy in France than any stranger before you. Will you withhold from the afflicted Church the hand that 379can save her? Let nothing in the world, I conjure you, turn you aside from so pure and sacred an enterprise.’[729] De la Fosse was agitated. The idea of returning to Paris without Melancthon—that is to say, without the salvation he expected—was insupportable. ‘Depart,’ he exclaimed, ‘if you do not come to France!... I shall never return there.’[730]

Melancthon’s Character.

Melancthon was touched by these supplications. He thought he heard (as they had told him) the voice of God himself. ‘Well, then,’ he said, ‘I will go. My friends in France have entertained great expectations and apply to me to fulfil them: I will not disappoint their hopes.’ Melancthon was resolved to maintain the essential truths of Christianity, and hoped to see them accepted by the catholic world. Francis I. and his friends had not rejected Luther’s fundamental article,—justification solely by faith in the merits of Christ, by a living faith, which produces holiness and works. According to the most eminent and most Christian orator of the Roman Church, Melancthon combined learning, gentleness, and elegance of style, with singular moderation, so that he was regarded as the only man fitted to succeed in literature to the reputation of Erasmus.[731] But he was more than that: his convictions were not to be shaken; he knew where he was, and, far from seeking all his life for his religion—as Bossuet asserts—he had found it and admirably explained it in his Theological Commonplaces.[732] Still he constantly said to his friends: ‘We must contend only for what is great and necessary.’[733]

Melancthon, who was full of meekness, was always ready to do what might be agreeable to others. Sincere, open, 380and exceedingly fond of children, he liked to play with them and tell them little tales. But with all this amiability he had a horror of ambiguous language, especially in matters of faith; and although a man of extreme gentleness, he felt strongly, his anguish could be very bitter, and when his soul was stirred, he would break out with sudden impetuosity, which, however, he would soon repress. His error, in the present case, was in believing that the pope could be received without receiving his doctrines: every true Roman-catholic could have told him that this was impossible. At all events De la Fosse had decided him. For the triumph of unity and truth, this simple-hearted bashful man was resolved to brave the dangers of France and the bitter reproaches of Germany. ‘I will go,’ he said to the envoy of Francis I. It was the language of a Christian ready to sacrifice himself. In history we sometimes meet with characters who enlarge our ideas of moral greatness: Melancthon was one of them.

But would his prince allow him to go? The prejudices of Germany against France, besides numerous political and religious considerations, might influence the elector. These were difficulties that might cause the enterprise to fail. Still the noble-minded professor resolved to do all in his power to overcome them. The university had just removed from Wittemberg to Jena on account of the plague. Melancthon, quitting Thuringia, directed his course hastily towards the banks of the Elbe, and arriving at Torgau, where the court was staying, at the old castle outside the city, was admitted on Sunday, the 15th of August, after divine service to present his respects to the elector.

John Frederick was attended by many of his councillors and courtiers, and notwithstanding the esteem he felt for Melancthon, an air of dissatisfaction and reserve was visible in his face. The elector was offended because the King of France, instead of applying to him, had written direct to one of his subjects; but graver motives caused him to regard the Wittemberg doctor’s project with displeasure.

Letter To The Elector.

381It was no slight thing for Melancthon, who was naturally timid and bashful, to ask his sovereign for anything likely to displease him. Without alluding to the letter he had received from Francis I., which he thought it wiser not to mention, he said: ‘Your Electoral Grace is aware that eighteen Christians have been burnt in Paris, and many others thrown into prison or compelled to fly. The brother of the Bishop of Paris has endeavored to soften the king, and has written to me that that prince has put an end to the executions, and desires to come to an understanding with us in regard to religious matters. Du Bellay invites me to mount my horse and go to France.[734] If I refuse, I appear to despise the invitation or to be afraid. For this reason I am ready in God’s name to go to Paris, as a private individual, if your Highness permits. It is right that we should teach great potentates and foreign nations the importance and beauty of our evangelical cause. It is right that they should learn what our doctrine is and not confound us with fanatics, as our enemies endeavor to do. I do not deceive myself as to my personal unimportance and incapacity; but I also know, that if I do not go to Paris, I shall appear to be ashamed of our cause, and to distrust the words of the King of France, and the good men who are endeavoring to put an end to the persecution will be exposed to the displeasure of the master. I know the weight of the task imposed upon me ... it overwhelms me ... but I will do my duty all the same, and with that intent I conjure your Grace to grant me two or three months’ leave of absence.’

Melancthon, according to custom, handed in a written petition.[735] John Frederick was content to answer coldly that he would make his pleasure known through the members of his council.

The ice was broken. France and Germany were face to face in that castle on the banks of the Elbe. The opposition 382immediately showed itself. The audience given to Melancthon set all the court in motion. The Germanic spirit prevailed there more than the evangelical spirit, and the knowledge that Germans could be found who were willing to hold out their hands to Francis I. irritated the courtiers. They met in secret conference, looked coldly upon Melancthon, and addressed him rudely. Gifted with the tenderest feelings, the noble-hearted man was deeply wounded. ‘Alas!’ he wrote to Jonas, ‘the court is full of mysteries, or rather of hatreds!... I will tell you all about it when I see you.’[736]

He awaited with anxiety the official communication from the elector. The next day, 16th of August, he was informed that John Frederick’s councillors had a communication to make to him on the part of their master. If the interview with the Elector had been cold, this was icy. Chancellor Bruck—better known as Pontanus, according to the fashion of latinizing names—had been intrusted with this mission. Bruck, who at the famous diet of Augsburg had presented the Evangelical Confession to Charles V. in the presence of all the princes of Germany, was an excellent man, more decided than Melancthon, and in some respects more enlightened; he saw that it was dangerous to accept the pope, if they desired to reject his doctrines. He received the doctor with a severe look, and said to him in a harsh tone: ‘His Highness informs you that the business you have submitted to him is of such importance, that you ought not to have engaged yourself in it without his consent. As your intentions were good, he will overlook it; but as to permitting you to make a hasty and perilous journey to France, all sorts of reasons are against it. Not only his Highness cannot expose your safety; but as he is on the point of discussing with the emperor several questions which concern religion, he fears that if he sent a deputy to Paris, his Imperial Majesty, and the other princes of Germany, would 383imagine that he was charged with negotiations opposed to the declarations we have made to them. That journey might be the cause of divisions, quarrels, and irreparable evils.[737] You are consequently desired to excuse yourself to the King of France in the best way you can, and the elector promises you he will write to him on the subject.’

Melancthon’s Sorrow.

Melancthon withdrew in sorrow. What a position was his! His conscience bade him go to Paris, and his prince forbade him. Do what he would, he must fail in one of his most important duties. If he departs in defiance of the elector’s prohibition, he will not only offend his prince, but set Germany against himself, and sacrifice the circle of activity which God has given him. If he remains, all hope is lost of bringing France to the light of the Gospel. Hesitating and heart-broken, he went first to Wittemberg, desiring to confer with Luther, and did not conceal from his friend the deep indignation with which he was filled.[738] He was called to raise the standard of the Gospel in an illustrious kingdom, and the elector opposed it on account of certain diplomatic negotiations. He declared to Luther that he would not renounce the important mission, and he was fortified in this opinion by the sentiments which that reformer entertained. The two friends could speak of nothing but France, the king, and Du Bellay. ‘As you have consulted me,’ said Luther, ‘I declare that I should see you depart with pleasure.’[739] He also made a communication to Melancthon which gave the latter some hope.

Having been informed of the audience of the 15th, the reformer had just written to the elector. The cries of his brethren in France, delivered to the flames, moved Luther at Wittemberg, as they moved Calvin at Basle. The French reformer addressed an admirable letter to Francis I., and the German reformer endeavored to send Melancthon 384to him. The two men were thus unsuspectingly ‘conjoint together in opinion and desires.’ ‘I entreat your Grace,’ wrote Luther to John Frederick, in the most pressing manner, ‘to authorize Master Philip to go to France. I am moved by the tearful prayers made to him by pious men, hardly rescued from the stake, entreating him to go and confer with the king, and thus put an end to the murders and burnings. If this consolation be refused them, their enemies, thirsting for blood,[740] will begin to slay and burn with redoubled fury.... Francis I. had written Melancthon an exceedingly kind letter, and envoys have come to solicit him on his behalf.... For the love of God, grant him three months’ leave. Who can tell what God means to do? His thoughts are always higher and better than ours. I should be greatly distressed if so many pious souls, who invite Melancthon with cries of pain, and reckon upon him, should be disappointed and conceive untoward prejudices against us. May God lead your Grace by his Holy Spirit!’

Such was Luther’s affection for his brethren in France. He did more than write. The reformer was not in good health just then; he complained of losing his strength, and of being so decrepit that he was compelled to remain idle half the day.[741] Notwithstanding this, he made the journey from Wittemberg to Torgau, where he had an interview with the prince.[742] Perhaps this journey was anterior to Melancthon’s.

German Prejudices.

The simultaneous efforts of these two great reformers ought to have produced a favorable effect upon a prince like the elector. John Frederick, who had succeeded his father 385John in August, 1532, was true and high-minded, a good husband and a good prince. A disciple of Spalatin and the friend of Luther, he venerated the Word of God, and was full of zeal for the cause of the Reformation. Less phlegmatic than his father, he united judgment and prudence with an enterprising spirit. Such qualities must have led him to favor Melancthon’s journey to France. But he was susceptible and rather obstinate; so that if a project, not originating with him, but with another, displeased him in any way, the probability of its success was not great. And hence Luther’s letter did not make a great impression upon him: it merely increased the excitement. The prejudices of Germany rendered Melancthon’s journey less popular every day; at the court of Torgau, in Saxony, and in the other protestant countries, it was regarded as madness. ‘We at Augsburg,’ wrote Sailer, the deputy of that city, ‘know the King of France well: he cares very little, as everybody knows, about religion, and even morality. He is playing the hypocrite with the pope, and cajoling the Germans, thinking only how he can disappoint the expectations he raises in them. His sole thought is to crush the emperor.’[743] Some even of the best disposed were full of horrible apprehensions, and fancied that they saw an immense pile constructing on which to burn the master of Germany. Passions were roused; a violent tempest stirred men’s minds; the most gloomy opinions arrived at Torgau every day from all quarters. Others did not look upon the matter so tragically, but employed the weapons of ridicule. German susceptibility was wounded because Francis I. had not selected some great personage for this mission. They looked down upon Barnabas Voré called De la Fosse: ‘A fine ambassador!’ they said; ‘all the pawnbrokers in France would not advance twenty crowns upon his head.’—‘Even the Jews,’ said another, ‘would not have such a Barnabas, if they could buy him for a penny.’[744]

386Before long the people grew tired of jests and suppositions, and circulated extraordinary stories. Many prophesied that Melancthon would be assassinated, even before he had crossed the Rhine. It was reported that the papists had killed the real ambassador on the road, that they had substituted De la Fosse for him, and given him forged letters with a view to influence Melancthon, for whom they had prepared an ambuscade. ‘If he departs, he is a dead man.’[745] Albert of Mayence, the ecclesiastical elector, in particular gave umbrage to the protestants. When these rumors reached Luther, he said: ‘In this I clearly recognize that bishop and his colleagues; of all the devil’s instruments, they are the worst; my fears for Philip increase. Alas! the world belongs to Satan, and Satan to the world.’ Then, remembering an anecdote, he continued: ‘The Archbishop of Mayence, after reading Melancthon’s commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, exclaimed: “The man is possessed!” and throwing the volume on the ground, trampled upon it.’ If the prince, through whose states Melancthon would probably have to pass, treated the book thus, what would he do to the author? Luther was shaken. In 1527, George Winckler, the pious pastor of Halle, having been summoned before this very Archbishop Albert, had been murdered by some horsemen as he was returning by the road Melancthon must take. The great reformer began to change his mind.

The elector, perceiving this, put more solid arguments before him: ‘I fear,’ he said, ‘that if Melancthon goes to France, he will concede to the papists far more than what you, doctor, and the other theologians would grant, and hence there would arise a disunion between you and him that would scandalize Christians and injure the Gospel. Those who invite him are more the disciples of Erasmus than of the Bible. Melancthon will infallibly incur the greatest danger at Paris—danger both to body and soul. I would rather see God take him to himself than permit him to go to France. That is my firm resolve.’[746]

387These communications seriously affected Luther: the elector attacked him on his weakest side. The reformer venerated Melancthon, but he knew to what sacrifices his desire for union had more than once been on the point of leading him. If Melancthon was the champion of unity, Luther was the champion of truth: to guard the whole truth with a holy jealousy was his principle. The Reformation, he thought, must triumph by fidelity to the Word of God, and not by the negotiations of kings. Recovering from his first impressions, he said to Melancthon: ‘I begin to suspect these ambassadors.’[747] From that moment he never uttered a word in favor of the journey. Still the dangers of the protestants of France were never out of his thoughts. ‘Must we abandon our brethren?’ he asked himself perpetually. A luminous idea occurred to him: Suppose the evangelicals were to leave France, and come to Germany in search of liberty.[748] He engaged to receive them well. Luther anticipated the Refuge by a century and a half.

Harsh Letter To Melancthon.

By degrees the elector gained ground, and the extraordinary adventure proposed to Melancthon became more doubtful every day. From the first the prince had had the politicians and courtiers with him; then the men of letters and citizens, alarmed by the sinister reports, had gone over to his side; and now Luther himself was convinced. Melancthon remained almost alone. His sympathetic heart longed to remove the sword hanging over the heads of the French evangelicals, and it seemed as if nothing could stop him. John Frederick endeavored to convince him. Beyond a doubt, the French reformation, driven at this moment by contrary winds, must reach the haven; but the task must be left to its own crew. Every ship must have its own pilot. John Frederick, therefore, wrote a severe letter to Melancthon, and the tender-hearted divine had to drink the cup to the dregs. ‘You declared that you were ready to undertake 388a journey to France,’ said the elector, ‘without consulting us. You should, however, have thought of your duty to us, whom God has established as your superior. We were greatly displeased to see that you had gone so far in the matter. You know the relations existing between the King of France and the emperor, and you are not ignorant that we are obliged to respect them. We desire that foreign nations should be brought to the Gospel; but must we go to them to effect their conversion?[749] The undertaking is of great extent, and the success very doubtful. The letters we receive from France are well calculated to make us despair of seeing the evangelical seed bear fruit there. Do you desire to disturb the public peace of the German nation, and while we have a right to expect that you will second us, do you presume on the contrary to vex us and thwart our plans?

This was too much. Melancthon stopped; the arrow, aimed by the elector, had pierced his heart. His decision was soon made: ‘Because of these words,’ he said ‘I will not go.’ He afterwards underlined the passage, and wrote in the margin the words we have just quoted.[750] The elector had been still more severe, when he dictated the despatch. ‘Go,’ were his words, ‘go and do as you please; engage in this adventure. But we leave all the responsibility with you. Consider it well.’ He suppressed this paragraph at the chancellor’s desire.[751]

Melancthon’s simple and tender heart was crushed by his sovereign’s dissatisfaction. Surmounting his natural shyness, he had determined to brave danger, in the hope of seeing the Reformation triumph, and now disgrace was his only reward. The courtiers maintained that he and the other theologians were obstinate and almost imbecile, and would do much better to be content with their schools and 389leave the government of the Church to others. Melancthon lightened his grief by sharing it with his friends; he wrote to Camerarius, to Sturm, and even to William du Bellay. The great hellenist, who had lived much among the ancient republics of Greece, imagined that Europe was already overrun by the evils under which those states had perished. ‘I have never known a more cruel prince,’ he said to them: ‘with what harshness he treats me![752] He not only does not permit me to depart, but he insults me besides. My fault is in being less obstinate than others. I confess that peace is so precious in my eyes that it ought not to be broken except for matters really great and necessary. Oh! if the elector did but know those who take advantage of this proposed journey to sow discord! It is not the learned who do it, but the ignorant and the fools. They call me deserter and runaway.... O my friend, we live under the régime of the democracy, that is to say, under the tyranny of the unlearned,[753] of people who quarrel about old wives’ stories, and think of nothing but gratifying their passions. How great is the hatred with which they are inflamed against me!... They slander me and say that I am betraying my prince.’ Theramenes was condemned to drink hemlock because he had substituted an aristocracy or government of the worthiest for a democracy, and governed the state with wisdom. ‘I do not deceive myself,’ he exclaimed; ‘the fate of Theramenes awaits me.’[754]

Melancthon was not the only sufferer; his faithful friend, Luther, did not fail him. Although he was now opposed to the French journey, John Frederick’s letter disturbed him seriously; it appeared to him that great changes were necessary, and a stormy future loomed before him. ‘My heart is sad,’ he wrote to Jonas, ‘for I know that such a severe letter will cause Philip the keenest anguish.... All 390this awakens thoughts which I would rather not have.[755] Another time I will tell you more ... at present I am overwhelmed with sorrow.’ Then, feeling uneasy about Melancthon, he wrote to him: ‘Have you swallowed our prince’s letter?[756] I was exceedingly agitated by it from love to you. Tell me how you are.’ ...

What were the thoughts that occurred to Luther involuntarily? There is some difficulty in deciding. Perhaps the reformer thought that this business might occasion a difference between Church and State. ‘Admire the wisdom of the court,’ he said; ‘see how it boasts of being an actor in this adventure! As for us, we much prefer being merely spectators, and I begin to congratulate myself that the court despises and excludes us.[757] It all happens through the goodness of God, so that we should not be mixed up with these disturbances, which we might perchance have to lament hereafter very sorely. Now we are safe, for whatever is done is done without us. What Demosthenes desired too late, we obtain early—namely, not to be concerned in the government.[758] May God strengthen us therein! Amen.’ Luther appeared to foresee a time when the evangelical Church would have no other support but God, and rejoiced at the prospect.

Melancthon’s Letter To The King.

As John Frederick had not yet despatched his letter to Francis I., his councillors delicately advised him to suppress it. ‘Since the king has not written to the elector about the proposed journey,’ said Luther, ‘it would be better for the elector also not to write. A letter from him would perhaps give the king an opportunity of answering, and that should be avoided.’[759] John Frederick still hesitated, for although his letter was written on the 18th of August, it was not despatched until the 28th. ‘Most serene and illustrious king,’ he said, ‘we should have been willing to do your majesty a 391pleasure, by permitting Melancthon to go to France, especially as it was for an extraordinary propagation of the Gospel, so as to make it yield the most abundant and the richest fruit.[760] But we had to take into consideration the difficulties of the present times.’ Then, as a final reason, the elector added: ‘Lastly, we do not remember for certain ... that your Majesty has written to us about Melancthon. If in any future contingency you should write to us for him,’ continued John Frederick, ‘and should assure us that he will be restored safe and sound, we will permit him to proceed to you. Be assured that we shall always readily do whatever we can to propagate the Gospel of Christ in every place, to favor the temporal and spiritual interests of your Majesty, your kingdom, and its church, and to hasten the deliverance of the Christian commonwealth.’

Melancthon, to whom the elector communicated this letter,[761] feared that instead of quieting the King of France, it would only irritate him still more. He could not bear the idea of answering ungratefully a powerful monarch who had shown such kindness towards him. This thought engrossed him from morning to night. On the very day when the Elector Frederick’s letter was despatched, Melancthon sent off three, the first of which was for the king. He feared, above all things, that Francis I. would relinquish the great enterprise that was to restore unity and truth to the Church. He therefore wrote to him, suppressing the indignation he felt at the elector’s refusal. ‘Most Christian and most mighty king,’ he said, ‘France infinitely excels all the kingdoms of the world, in that it has continually been a vigilant sentinel for the defence of the Christian religion.[762] Wherefore, I humbly congratulate your Majesty for having undertaken to reform the doctrine of the Church, not by violent 392remedies but by reasonable means;[763] and I beseech your Majesty not to cease bestowing all your thoughts and all your care upon this matter. Sire, do not allow yourself to be stopped by the harsh judgments and rude writings of certain men. Do not suffer their imprudence to nullify a project so useful to the Church. After receiving your letter, I made every effort to hasten to your Majesty; for there is nothing I desire more than to aid the Church according to my poverty. I had conceived the best hopes, but great obstacles keep me back.... Voré de la Fosse will inform you of them.’

If the doctor of Germany was reserved when writing to the king, he allowed the emotions of his heart to be seen in the letters he wrote the same day to Du Bellay and Sturm: ‘Could anything be more distressing,’ he said to Du Bellay, ‘than to be exposed at one and the same time to the anger of the most Christian king, the harsh treatment of the elector, and the calumnies of the people?... But the injustice of men shall not rob me of moderation of spirit or zeal for religion. Touching the journey, I have promised Voré de la Fosse to go to Frankfort shortly, whence, if it be desired, I will hasten to you.’ He had not, therefore, entirely given up France. ‘I hope,’ he said in conclusion, ‘that the king’s mind will be so guided by your advice and by that of your brother the cardinal, that he will henceforward employ all his powers in setting forth the glory of Christ.’[764]

The work of union to which Francis I. invited Melancthon, had struck deep root in the doctor’s mind. Sadolet, Bishop of Carpentras (who was raised to the cardinalate the year after), having published a treatise on the matter under discussion, the reformer wrote to Sturm that Sadolet advocated the very points he was resolved to defend, but he regretted to see him indulge in such bitter attacks upon the 393protestants.[765] A little later, when the illustrious Budæus, on whom he had counted, praised Francis for his zeal in expiating and punishing the assaults of the heretics,[766] Melancthon was hurt, but not disconcerted. ‘I have read his treatise,’ he said to Sturm, ‘but what does it matter? All these things inflame rather than cool me; they fan my desire to go to you, to make my ideas known to all those learned men, those friends of what is good, and to learn theirs. Let us unite all our forces to save the Church: no injustice of man shall check my zeal.’[767]

Motives Of Francis.

In this respect Melancthon did not stand alone: Francis I. showed no less energy, and was careful not to be offended at the elector’s refusal. The alliance of the protestants became more necessary to him every day. The prince who did so much in France for the arts, and who, as the patron of scholars, received the title of Father of Letters, desired a reform after Erasmus’s pattern. There was a very marked distinction, which it is impossible to overlook, between Francis I. and his son Henry II.; but the love of knowledge was not the king’s chief motive: he entertained certain political designs which greatly increased his eagerness for an alliance with the protestants. The Duke of Milan was just dead, and the ambitious Francis desired to conquer the duchy for his second son. Moreover, the evangelical party was not without influence at court: Margaret, Queen of Navarre, Admiral Chabot, and many noblemen favored the Gospel; and they were supported by the Du Bellays and others of the moderate party. The men of the Romish faction rallied round Diana of Poitiers and Catherine of Medicis.

The king had discovered that John Frederick had felt hurt at seeing a foreign monarch address one of his subjects on a matter touching the cause of which the elector was regarded 394as the head. Francis probably thought the prince’s susceptibility to be very natural, and therefore, instead of breaking with him, determined to profit by the lesson he had received. He would resume his plans, but he would write no more to Melancthon: he would address the elector in person, or rather all the protestant princes united, according to the usual forms; and to avoid reminding them of his first fault, the name of Melancthon should not be mentioned. The zeal of the learned professor and of the powerful monarch came, we may be sure, from different sources; one proceeded from on high, the other from below; but the same desire animated both of them.

The Romish party were greatly agitated when they heard of the king’s intentions, and again attempted to thwart a project they regarded as highly pernicious. The Sorbonne represented to Francis I. that no concession ought to be made, and proceeded to demonstrate, after an extraordinary fashion, the articles rejected by the Lutherans. ‘They deny the power of the saints to heal the sick,’ said the theologians; ‘but is not this miraculous power proved by the virtue the kings of France possess of healing the evil by a touch?’ Francis I. was an extraordinary saint, and such an argument probably amused him more than it convinced him. The Cardinal De Tournon proceeded more wisely, by reiterating to the monarch that he could not have Milan without the help of the pope. But even this argument did not shake Francis I.: he highly appreciated the pope’s friendship, but he valued still more highly the spears of the lansquenets.

Mission Of Du Bellay.

The protestants were about to assemble at Smalcalde; two powerful princes, the Dukes of Wurtemberg and Pomerania, had joined the evangelical alliance, and steps had been taken by the confederates to have a large army constantly on foot. When he heard of this, the King of France felt new hopes, and began a second campaign, which he planned better than the first. Instead of employing an obscure gentleman like Voré de la Fosse, he selected the most illustrious of his diplomatists, and ordered William du Bellay 395to start for Germany. The latter was still more zealous than his master, and fearing he should arrive too late, wrote from Lorraine (where he happened to be staying) to the Elector of Saxony, praying him to prolong the meeting for a few days, ‘as the King of France had intrusted him with certain propositions touching the peace of Christendom.’[768] The news of such a mission delighted the friends of the Reformation, and filled the Roman party with indignation. ‘Never,’ said Sturm, ‘never before now has the cause of the Gospel been in such a favorable position in France.’[769] The elector, Melancthon, and Du Bellay arrived at Smalcalde in the middle of December.

The ambassador of Francis I. immediately demanded a private audience of the elector, and on the 16th December handed him the letters in which the king, with many professions of zeal for the pacification of the Christian Church, besought the elector to co-operate earnestly ‘in so pious and holy a work.’[770] John Frederick was not convinced; he always set religion before policy, but he knew that Francis I. adopted the contrary order. Fearing, accordingly, that behind this pious work, the king concealed war with the emperor, he immediately pointed to the insurmountable barrier which separated them: ‘Our alliance,’ he said, ‘has been formed solely to maintain the pure Word of God, and propagate the holy doctrine of faith.’ The diplomatist was not to be baffled: there were two pockets in his portfolio—one containing religious, the other political matters. Opening the former, he said: ‘We ask you to send us doctors to deliberate on the union of the Churches.’ Germany spoke of 396the Word and doctrine: France of union and of the Church: this was characteristic. John Frederick replied that he would consult his allies. The audience came to an end, and the 19th December was appointed by the princes and deputies of the cities to receive the ambassador of France.


To gain this assembly was the essential thing, and this the king had felt. Accordingly, in the letter he addressed to that body, he made use of every plea, and spoke ‘of the ancient, sacred, and unbroken friendship which united France and Germany, and of the unalterable affection and good-will he entertained towards the princes.’[771] Francis I. hoped that these worthy Germans would allow themselves to be caught by his words; but they were more clear-sighted than he imagined. Du Bellay had observed this; he had ascertained the unfavorable prepossessions of Germany, and when he rose to speak, he described the pious and peaceable evangelicals put to death by Francis as seditious persons who desired to stir up the people. ‘Most illustrious and most excellent princes,’ he continued, ‘certain persons, moved by hatred, pretend that the states of the empire ought to be on their guard when foreign kings send them embassies, seeing that those monarchs speak in one way and act in another.[772] The French have not been named, I must confess; but they are clearly pointed at. Who has been more strictly faithful to his friendships than the King of France? Who has been more prompt to brave danger for the good of Germany? What nations have ever been more united than the Germans and the French? The king is convinced that you think very soundly on many things; but he could have desired a little more moderation in some of them. Like yourselves, he feels that the negligence and superstition of men have introduced many useless ceremonies into the Church; but he does not approve of their suppression 397without a public decree.[773] He fears lest a diversity of rites should engender dissension of minds, and be the cause of civil strife throughout Christendom. Reconciliation is the dearest of his wishes. If you are willing to receive him into your association, you will find him a sure friend. Diversity of opinion has separated you from him hitherto, but similitude of doctrine will henceforward unite him.’[774] In conclusion, Du Bellay renewed his demand for a congress of French and German doctors, to confer on the matters in dispute.

This clever oration did not convince the protestants; they had remained cold, while Du Bellay was pleading his cause so warmly. The point on which Francis I. and his ambassador wished to touch lightly was that which the Germans had most at heart. They could not forget what they had heard about Du Bourg and the cripple and other martyrs, prisoners, and fugitives. They were shocked at the idea of entering into alliance with the man who had shed the blood of their brethren. They determined to ‘open their mouths for the dumb, and to support the cause of all such as were appointed to destruction.’ ‘We will not suffer in our states,’ they answered, ‘any stirrers-up of sedition, and we cannot, therefore, condemn the King of France for putting them down in his kingdom. But we beseech him not to punish all without distinction. We ask him to spare those who, having been convinced of the errors with which religion is infected, have embraced the pure doctrine of the Gospel, which we ourselves possess. Merciless men, who wish to save their interests and their power, have cruelly defended their impious opinions, and, in order to exasperate the king’s mind, have supposed false crimes, which they impute to innocent and pious Christians. It is the duty of princes to seek God’s glory, to cleanse the Church from error, and to stop iniquitous cruelties; and we 398earnestly beseech the mighty King of France to give his most serious attention to this great duty only.’[775]

This noble answer was not encouraging. The ambassador was not disconcerted, but, dexterously eluding the subject, merely assured the assembly once more of his master’s firm resolution to labor at the reformation of the Church. The great point was to know what would be the nature of this reformation. Why assemble a congress of learned men to discuss it, if it was certain beforehand that they could not come to an understanding? The protestants present did not all think alike. The religious men, who were very incredulous on the subject of the king’s evangelical piety, thought that nothing ought to be done; on the other hand, the men of expediency said it was worth looking into; and, the proposition having been made to hold a preliminary consultation (at Smalcalde), it was resolved that next day (20th of December) there should be a meeting between Du Bellay, Bruck the electoral chancellor, Melancthon, John Sturm, deputy from Strasburg,[776] the delegates of the Landgrave of Hesse,—in whose states the conference was held,—and Spalatin, the elector’s chaplain, who was appointed secretary. The opposing parties were now to try if they could come to some arrangement. It was no slight task assumed by the minister of Francis I., who came forward, according to his master’s instructions, as the representative of the catholic party; but no one knew better than Du Bellay how far, in the king’s opinion, France could then be reformed, if the protestants consented to enter into alliance with her. This explanation is important: it is worth our while to learn the plan conceived by the French government.

Du Bellay’s Propositions.

At daybreak[777] on the 20th of December the members of the conference assembled. They had chosen that early hour, probably, because important business still demanded 399their attention. An ambassador from the pope, the famous legate Vergerio, who afterwards came over to the side of the reformers, was then in the town. He had been sent to propose a council, and was to receive the answer of the protestants on the following morning. The delegates having taken their seats, the French ambassador explained what was the nature of the reform to which the kingdom of France would lend a helping hand. ‘Firstly,’ he said, ‘with regard to the primacy of the Roman pontiff, the King of France thinks, as you do, that he possesses it by human, and not by divine, right. We are not inclined to loose the rein too much in this respect. Hitherto the popes have employed the power they claim in making and unmaking kings, which is certainly going too far. True, some of our theologians maintain that the papacy is of divine right; but, when the king asked for proofs, they could not give him any.’ Melancthon was satisfied; the chancellor less so; Bruck shared the opinion of the King of England, who, says Du Bellay, ‘would not concede any authority to the pope, whether coming from God or from man.’

‘As for the sacrament of the Eucharist,’ continued the ambassador, ‘your opinions on the matter please the king, but not his theologians, who support transubstantiation with all their might. His Majesty seeks for arguments to justify your way of thinking, and is ready to profess it, if you will give him sound ones. Now you know that the king is the only person who commands in his realm.’[778]

‘As for the mass,’ continued Du Bellay, a little uneasy, like a man walking over a quicksand, ‘there are great disputes about it. The king is of opinion that many prayers and silly, impious legends have been foisted into that portion of divine worship, and that those absurd and ridiculous passages must be expurgated, and the primitive order restored.’[779] 400As Francis I. was particularly averse to masses celebrated in honor of the saints to obtain their intercession with God, Du Bellay repeated one or two of the king’s expressions on that point. ‘One day the king said: “I have a prayer-book, written many years ago, in which there is no mention of the intercession of saints. I am assured that Bessarion[780] himself said: ‘As for me, I am more concerned about live saints than dead ones.’”’

‘The king thinks, however,’ added Du Bellay, ‘that we preserve the celebration of mass; only there must not be more than three a day in every parish church; one before daybreak, for working men and servants; the second and third for the other worshippers,’ If transubstantiation and the silly legends were rejected, the moderate protestants were ready to concede the daily celebration of the Eucharist. Du Bellay continued:—

‘As for the images of the saints, the king thinks, with you, that they are not set up to be worshipped, but to remind us of the faith and works of those whom they represent; and that is what the people ought to be taught.

‘His Majesty is also pleased with your opinions on free-will.’

The discussion—the great struggle in France—turned on purgatory; the ambassador slyly pointed out the reason: ‘Our divines obstinately defend it,’ he said, ‘for upon that doctrine depends the payment of masses, indulgences, and pious gifts. Put down purgatory, and you take away from them all opportunity of acquiring wealth and honor;[781] you cut off the limbs that supply their very life-blood! The king gave them some months to prove their doctrine by Scripture; they accepted the terms, but made no answer, and when the king pressed them, they exclaimed: “Ah, 401Sire, do not furnish our adversaries with weapons that they will afterwards turn against us.” It therefore appears to me that it would be proper for one of your doctors to write a treatise on the subject and present it to his Majesty.

‘As for good works, our theologians stoutly maintain their opinion; namely, that they are necessary. I told them that you thought the same, and that all you assert is, that the necessity of works cannot be affirmed so as to mean that we are justified and saved by them. An inquisitor of the faith has declared his agreement with Melancthon on this point.[782] I think, therefore, that we may come to an understanding on that matter.

Monasteries And Celibacy.

‘You do not like monasteries: well! The king hopes to obtain from the Roman party that no one shall be at liberty to take monastic vows before the age of thirty or forty; and that the monks shall be free henceforth to leave their convents and marry, if opportunity offers. The king thinks that not only the good of the Church requires it, but also the good of the State, for there are many capable men in the cloisters who might be usefully employed in divers functions and duties. His Majesty is therefore of opinion, not that monasteries should be destroyed, but that vows should be no longer obligatory. It is by taking one step after another that we shall come to an understanding.... It is not convenient to pluck off a horse’s tail at one pull.[783] Monasteries ought to be places of study, set apart for the instruction of those who are to teach the young. It is useful and even necessary to proceed with moderation.... His Majesty hopes to bring the Roman pontiff himself gradually to this idea.

‘As for the marriage of priests, the French theologians do not approve of it; but here the king holds a certain medium. He desires the toleration of those of your ecclesiastics 402who have wives; as for the others, he wishes they should remain in celibacy. If, however, there are any priests who desire to be married, let them marry; only they must at the same time quit holy orders.

‘As for the communion, the king hopes to obtain from the pope permission for every man to take the sacrament under one or both kinds, as his conscience may dictate. He declares that he has heard old men say that both kinds used to be given to the laity in France a hundred and twenty years ago; not indeed in the churches but in private chapels. And even to this day, the kings of France communicate under both kinds.’

This explanation of the reform projected for France, and the exchange of ideas which it had occasioned, occupied some time. The day was already advanced, and the protestant delegates were making ready to depart.[784] The ambassador hastened to add a few words to prove the sincerity of his proposals. ‘Cardinal Santa Croce,’ he said, ‘has already substituted psalms for the silly and ungodly hymns in the liturgy. True, the theologians of Paris have condemned the change. You see the Sorbonne claims such authority that it not only calls you heretics, but does not fear to condemn the cardinals and the pope himself.’[785] Thus, according to Du Bellay, protestants, king, cardinals, and pope were on one side, and the Sorbonne on the other. The Lutherans, being in such good company, had nothing to fear. To encourage them still more, he informed them that Francis I. admitted the point which they put forward as the very life-spring of their doctrine. ‘The king,’ he continued, ‘thinks highly of the doctrine of justification, as you explain it. It would please him much, if two or three of your learned men were sent to France to discuss these several points in his presence. We must take precautions that the best and soundest part of the Church be not conquered and 403crushed by numbers.[786] Lastly, it would be very beneficial,’ Du Bellay adroitly added, as he finished his speech, ‘if the princes and deputies of the cities here assembled were to intercede in behalf of those who are exiled on account of religion, and to ask that no one should hereafter suffer any injury for what he thinks, says, or does with respect to his faith.’[787] How could the protestants, after such a compassionate solicitation, speak any more of the scaffolds of the 21st of January?

Reformation Of Francis I.

Such was the Reformation which Francis I. declared him-self willing to give France. As concerns doctrine, it was much more complete than the hybrid system which Henry VIII. was at that time endeavoring to set up in England. The protestants found these propositions acceptable enough in general, with some modifications, doubtless, which could not fail to be introduced: the imperfect reform of the French king would be completed by degrees. Had not his ambassador just said that it was dangerous to pull out a horse’s tail at once, giving them to understand that it would be pulled out hair by hair? The Reformation proclaimed, the evangelical doctrine professed, the frivolities of public worship put away, the Sorbonne placed under ban, the sounder part of Christendom preponderating over the more numerous part,—the cardinals and the pope himself (as Du Bellay hinted) aiding in this transformation,—what important advantages! One thing, however, was still wanting: many asked not only whether the catholics would carry out the Reformation to an end, as they hinted, but even whether they would maintain the concessions they had made.

This thought engrossed the attention of the protestant delegates. They made their report, however, to their principals, and amid the doubts by which they were agitated one thing only appeared urgent to the men of the Augsburg 404Confession—the duty of interceding in favor of their brethren in France. They commissioned Melancthon to draw up the answer to Du Bellay, and on the 22d of December, the French envoy having been once more admitted into the assembly of the princes and deputies, the vice-chancellor said to him: ‘That the most puissant king of France by sending them an ambassador as illustrious by his virtues as eminent by his rank, and the duty imposed on him to treat concerning matters of faith, the importance of which was paramount in their eyes, manifestly showed them the Christian zeal with which the king was animated—a zeal most worthy of so good a prince: that the reports circulated with respect to certain punishments that had taken place in France could not in truth authorize the States of Germany to form a judgment on the puissant monarch of that kingdom; however, they besought him not to allow himself to be carried away by the cruelty of men who, ignorant of the truth, desire to act severely against good and bad without distinction; that idle opinions having crept into the Church, it was necessary to apply a remedy, but those who endeavored to do so became objects of the bitterest hatred—the papists, who clung to their abuses, striving by a thousand artifices to inflame the hearts of kings and to arm them against the innocent.[788] For this reason the States assembled at Smalcalde conjured his Majesty to prohibit such iniquitous cruelty, and to advance the good of the Church and the glory of God.’

The evangelicals having discharged this duty passed rapidly over the rest. They represented to the ambassador that the proposal to send learned men into France was of such importance, that it was impossible to give him an immediate answer, but that the deputies would report thereon to the chiefs as soon as they returned home. ‘We assure you, however,’ they said in conclusion, ‘that nothing would please us more than to see the doctrine of piety and the 405concord of nations propagated more and more by means in conformity with the Word of God.’[789]

After a postponement, which seemed almost a refusal, Du Bellay felt embarrassed, for he had still to discharge the principal mission that his master had entrusted to him. He could not, however, leave Smalcalde without fulfilling it. He did not make it known distinctly in his public speeches, but solicited the protestants in private conversations to make an alliance with the king his master. The latter answered that the first condition of such a union would be that the allies should undertake nothing against the emperor, the head of the Germanic Confederation. Now it was precisely for the purpose of acting against Charles V. that Francis I. sought the friendship of evangelical Germany. Du Bellay left Smalcalde dissatisfied.

Francis Plays Two Parts.

The distrust of the Lutheran princes was not unreasonable. While the king was acting the protestant beyond the Rhine, he was acting the papist beyond the Alps; if the emperor would consent to yield Milan to him, Francis I. would bind himself to reduce Germany under the yoke of the house of Austria. ‘I will spare nothing,’ he said, ‘for the greatness of the said emperor and his brother the king of the Romans.’[790] He went further than this: ‘Let the pope say the word, and I will constrain England by force of arms to submit to the Church.’ The cruel paw peeped out from beneath the skin of the lamb, and the lion suddenly appeared, ready to attack, seize, and devour, as a delicate morsel, those whom he treated as friends and companions.

The cause of truth and unity was not to triumph by means of a congress at Smalcalde, by diplomatic negotiations, or by the instrumentality of Francis I. He who said, My kingdom is not of this world, did not choose men of the world to establish his kingdom, and will not permit a monotonous uniformity to take the place of unity in his empire. Treaties, 406constitutions, and forms prescribed by monarchs are human elements which the kingdom of heaven repudiates. True unity does not proceed from an identical administration, a clerical organization, or a pompous hierarchy: it is essentially moral and spiritual, and consists in community of thoughts, faith, affections, works, and hopes. Diversity of forms, far from injuring it, gives it more intensity. In the sixteenth century the world was far, and is still far, from seeing the realization of this divine unity. Some steps, however, have been taken, and the time no doubt will come when, according to the scriptural prophecy, all the families of the earth will be blessed in Christ Jesus.[791] But there will be no real, free, evangelical catholicity until Christians understand and realize those elementary words of the primitive Church: I believe in the communion of saints.

(1519 TO 1536.)

Condition Of Italy.

The Reformation had also commenced in Italy.

As the knowledge of the ancient languages, literary pursuits, and cultivation of the intellect flourished more in that country than elsewhere, it seemed natural that it should be among the first to open itself to the light of the Gospel. In the midst of superstition, many elevated minds were to be found whom the formalism of the Roman Church could not satisfy. The corruption of the clergy and of religion had sunk deeper in Italy than in the rest of Christendom, so that the magnitude of the evil made the necessity of a 407remedy more keenly felt. Accordingly, although many obstacles appeared to close the peninsula against the entrance of evangelical doctrine; although national pride, the interest which the Italians of every class seemed to have in the continuance of the papacy, the hostility of the governments, and above all the overwhelming power of the pontifical hierarchy, erected barriers everywhere, which seemed more insurmountable than the Alps, there was at that time an electric current between Italy and the reformed countries that nothing could stop. The Reformation had hardly sent forth its first beams of light, the flame had hardly risen over Germany and Switzerland, when, in the regions beyond the mountains, from Venice and Turin to Naples, isolated spots of light gleamed out amidst the darkness. The evangelical doctrine, in general not much appreciated by the people, found an easy access to the hearts of many cultivated men. Italy was a vast plain, in which were numerous uncultivated fields and barren heaths: but a liberal hand having been opened over it, the seeds of life which fell from it found here and there good soil, and, at the breath of spring, the blade and the ear sprang forth. A fierce storm, mingled with thunder and lightning, afterwards burst upon those fields; the light of day was hidden, and the obscurity of darkness once more covered the country. But the light had been beautiful, and its appearance, although fugitive, deserves to be remembered, if only as a pledge to make us hope for better days. The positive results of the Italian Reformation seem to escape us entirely; and yet it possesses quite as many of those characteristics which charm the mind, captivate the imagination, and touch the heart, as other Reformations do. The new and varied plants which that ancient land began to produce, the brilliant flames which for a moment shed such beautiful light, the men of God at that time scattered all over Italy, deserve to be known, and we must now turn to them.

At Pavia, on the Ticino, there lived a bookseller named Calvi, ‘who cultivated the muses.’ Frobenius, the celebrated 408printer of Basle, having as early as 1519 sent him Erasmus’s Testament and the early writings of Luther, he began to study the Gospel more than the poets. Wishing to help, in proportion to his ability, in ‘the revival of piety,’[792] he undertook to circulate the writings of the reformers not only in his immediate neighborhood, but through all the cities of Italy.[793] Pavia possessed a celebrated university, and the precious volumes were first distributed among its professors and their pupils. The students might often be seen reading these absorbing pages under the porticos of the university and beneath the walls of the cathedral or of the old castle. Other printers and booksellers joined with Calvi in the work of dissemination, and before long a book entitled Il principii della Theologia di Ippolito di Terranigra was read all over Italy, even in Rome. Terranigra was Melancthon, and these Principles of Divinity were his Theological Commonplaces. This admirable book was to be found even in the Vatican, along with the works of Coricius Cogelius (Zwingle) and Aretius Felinus (Bucer). Bishops and cardinals pompously extolled them; none of them suspecting that the breath of evangelical piety which animated those writings must necessarily dissipate the false piety of the confessional. Terranigra’s book was read with such eagerness at Rome, that it soon became necessary to ask for a fresh supply. A learned Franciscan of the metropolis, who possessed the Latin edition, struck with the unknown name Terranigra,[794] desired to procure the Italian work so much talked of. It soon began to call up certain recollections: he fancied he had seen the work before. He rose from his seat, took down his Latin Melancthon, compared it with the Italian, and to his great horror found the two works 409were the same. Without delay he made known the stratagem of the booksellers, and the volume, which the cardinals had extolled to the skies one day, was condemned to the flames on the next.

Enthusiasm For Luther.

But the propaganda did not cease. The young Germans who came to study law and medicine at Bologna, Padua, and other universities of the peninsula, the young Italians who began to frequent the schools of Germany and Switzerland, helped alike to diffuse evangelical faith beyond the Alps. Many of the Lutheran lansquenets whom Charles V. marched into Italy, and of the Swiss soldiers whom Francis I. drew thither, professed in the houses where they lodged the doctrines of the Reformation, and did so with thorough military frankness. Some praised Luther, others Zwingle, and all contrasted the purity of the reformers’ lives and the simplicity of their manners with the irregularities, luxury, and pride of the Roman prelates.

The Italians have an open and quick understanding, precision in their ideas, clearness of expression, an instinct of the beautiful, and great independence of character; and hence they were tired of living in ignoble subjection to ignorant, lazy, and dissolute priests. Conscientious men of eminent mind joyfully welcomed a doctrine which put God’s Word in the place of papal bulls, briefs, and decretals, and substituted the spirit and the life for the ecclesiastical mechanism of the Latin ritual. Italy was charmed with Luther’s character and work. In 1521 a voice from Milan exclaimed: ‘O mighty Luther! who can paint thy features so full of animation, the godlike qualities of thy mind, thy soul inspired with a will so pure? Thy voice, which rings through the universe and utters unaccustomed sounds, terrifies the vile hearts of the wicked,[795] and bears an unexpected balm to diseases which appeared beyond remedy. Take 410courage, then, venerable father, whose mouth makes salvation known to all, and whose word destroys more monsters than ever Hercules rent in pieces.’

The dignitaries of Rome were alarmed at this enthusiasm. At the diet of Nuremberg in 1524, Cardinal Campeggi exclaimed: ‘The Germans take up a new opinion quickly, but they soon abandon it; while the Italians obstinately persist in what they have once adopted.’[796] It was rather the contrary that was to take place. The Italians showed themselves still more prompt than the Germans: the number of Lutherans increased every day.[797] The converted catholics began by degrees to explain the Gospel and to refute the errors of the Roman Church in private houses: this was done even in the Papal States. Before long, several priests and monks were enlightened, and the Reformation took a new step: its principles were taught in the churches. Clement VII. felt great alarm, when all of a sudden the doctrine, attacked by him and his legates in distant countries, broke out all over his dear Italy and threatened the walls of the papacy. He uttered a cry of terror: ‘To our exceeding sorrow,’ he said, ‘Luther’s pestilential heresy has been spread among us, not only among the laity, but also among the priests and monks.[798] Heresy is increasing, and in every place the catholic faith has to suffer the cruellest assaults.’ The cry was useless. In that very year (1530) the New Testament was translated by Bruccioli, printed at Venice, and the much dreaded contagion thenceforward made still more rapid progress.

Rosselli To Melancthon.

It was in this latter city, on the hundred islets and amid the lagunes of the queen of the Adriatic, that the doctrine of the Gospel first raised its standard. There was no power in Europe more jealous of its independence and authority than Venice; the winged lion of St. Mark braved the priest 411of Rome; the senate rejected the Inquisition, practised freedom of inquiry, and did not license the pope’s edicts until after serious study and strict examination. Protestants were soon to be found at Venice who, strange to say, were more protestant than those of Augsburg. ‘I am delighted,’ said Luther, on the 7th of March, 1528, ‘to hear that they have received the Word of God at Venice.’[799] A report having got abroad that Melancthon appeared inclined, at the diet of 1530, to recognize the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, the new evangelicals of Venice were troubled and alarmed: one of them, Lucio Paolo Rosselli, although only a beginner in the Christian doctrine, determined to write, respectfully but frankly, to the illustrious doctor of Germany: ‘There are no books by any author,’ he said to Melancthon, ‘which please me more than those you have published. But if the reports which the papists circulate about you are true, the cause of the Gospel and those who, taught by the writings of yourself and Luther, have embraced it, are in great danger. All Italy awaits the result of your meeting at Augsburg.[800] O Melancthon! let neither threats, nor fears, nor prayers, nor promises make you desert the standard of Jesus Christ! Even if you must suffer death to maintain his glory, do not hesitate. It is better to die with honor than to live with ignominy.’

It was much worse when the Venetian ambassador at the court of Charles V. forwarded to the senate the letter which Melancthon had written on the 6th of July to Cardinal Campeggi, and in which he went so far as to say that the protestants did not differ from the Roman Church in any important dogma, and were disposed to acknowledge the papal jurisdiction.[801] The evangelical Christians of Venice, who wanted a decided position, were dismayed. Most of 412them denied that the letter was Melancthon’s; Rosselli, in particular, with generous enthusiasm, took up the doctor’s defence, and on the 1st of August sent him a copy of the letter, ‘to the end that he might carefully scrutinize the wickedness of those who ascribed to him words calculated to disgrace the true defenders of the cause of Christ and Christ himself.[802] Now that we have discovered their malice,’ added the Venetian, ‘resist their iniquity with greater zeal, and let the emperor and all Christian princes know the shameless practices of the enemy.’

What seemed impossible to the Italians was but too true: Melancthon had carried his concessions too far. When he declared, however, that he would not recognize the Bishop of Rome until he became evangelical, he had put a stipulation to his compact which rendered it impossible.

From Venice we pass to Turin. The Italian revival did not present that simple historical and continuous advance which we meet with in other European countries. It was not like a single river whose deep and mighty waters, as they flowed along, ran calmly in the same channel; but like little streams, issuing from the earth in various places, whose bright and limpid waters glittered in the sunbeam and fertilized the soil around them. They disappeared; they were lost in the ground, oftentimes, alas! imparting to it a sanguine hue, and the earth returned to its former barrenness. Yet many a plant had been revived by them, and their sweet remembrance may still cause joy to others.

Celio Curione.

The works of the reformers had reached Turin. Piedmont, from its vicinity to Switzerland, France, and Germany, was among the first to receive a glimpse of the sun which had just risen beyond the Alps. The Reformation had already appeared in one of its cities,—at Aosta,—and most of its doctrines had for ages been current among the Waldensian valleys. Monks of the Augustine convent at Turin, Hieronimo Nigro Foscianeo in particular, were 413among the number of those who first became familiar with the evangelical writings. Celio Secundo Curione, a young man still at college, received them from their hands in 1520.

About three leagues and a half from Turin, and at the foot of the Alps, was situated the town of Cirié, with its two parochial churches and an Augustine monastery. Higher up there stood an old castle named Cuori, and the family to which it belonged was called from it Curione or Curioni.[803] One of its members, Giacomino Curione, who lived at Cirié, had married Charlotte de Montrotier, lady of honor to Blanche, Duchess of Savoy, and sister to the chief equerry of the reigning duke. On the 1st of May, 1503, a son was born to them at Cirié; he was named Celio Secundo,[804] and was their twenty-third child.[805] He lost his mother as he came into the world, and his father, who had removed to Turin, and afterwards to Moncaglieri, where he had property, died when Celio was only nine years old.

The elder Curione possessed a Bible, which in the hour of death he put into his son’s hands. That act was perhaps the cause of the love for Scripture by which the heir of the Curiones was afterwards distinguished: the depth of his filial piety made him look upon the book as a treasure before he knew the value of its contents. Celio having begun his education at Moncaglieri, went to Turin, where his maternal grandmother, Maddalena, lived. She received him into her house, where the anxious love of the venerable lady surrounded him with the tenderest care.[806] He is said to have dwelt on that pleasant hill which overlooks Turin, whence the summits of the Alps are visible, and whose base 414is washed by the slow and majestic waters of the Po.[807] Celio had applied with his whole heart to the study of the classical orators, poets, historians, and philosophers; when he reached his twentieth year he felt deeper longings, which literature was incapable of satisfying. The old Bible of his father could do this: a new world, superior to that of letters and philosophy,—the world of the spirit,—opened before his soul.

There was much talk just then, both in university and city, of the Reformation and the reformers. Curione had often heard certain priests and their partisans bitterly complaining of the ‘false doctrines’ of those heretics, and making use of the harshest language against Luther and Zwingle. He listened to their abuse, but was not convinced. He possessed a nobler soul than the majority of the people around him, and his generous independent spirit was more disposed in favor of the accused than of the accusers. Instead of joining in this almost unanimous censure, Celio said to himself: ‘I will not condemn those doctors before I have read their works.’[808] It would appear that he was already known in the Augustine convent, in which, as in that of Wittemberg, some truly pious men were to be found. The grace of his person, the quickness of his intellect, and his ardent thirst for religious knowledge, interested the monks. Knowing that they possessed some of the writings of the reformers, Curione asked for them, and Father Hieronimo lent him Luther’s Babylonian Captivity, translated into Italian under a different title. The young man carried it away eagerly to his study. He read those vigorous pages in which the Saxon doctor speaks of the lively faith with which the Christian ought to cling to the promises of God’s Word; and those in which he asserts that neither bishop nor pope has any right to command despotically the believer who has received Christian liberty from God. But Celio 415had not yet obtained light enough; he carried the book back to the convent, and asked for another. Melancthon’s Principles of Theology and Zwingle’s True and False Religion were devoured by him in turn.

Curione’s Spiritual Wants.

A work was then going on in his soul. The truths he had read in his Bible grew clearer and sank deeper into his mind; his spirit thrilled with joy when he found his faith confirmed by that of these great doctors, and his heart was filled with love for Luther and Melancthon. ‘When I was still young,’ he said to the latter afterwards, ‘when first I read your writings, I felt such love for you that it seemed hardly capable of increase.’[809]

Curione was not satisfied with the writings merely of these men of God: his admiration for them was such that he longed to hear them: an ardent desire to start immediately for Germany was kindled in his heart.[810] He talked about it with his friends, especially with Giovanni and Francesco Guarino, whom the Gospel had also touched, and who declared their readiness to depart with him.

The three young Italians, enthusiastic admirers of Luther and Melancthon, quitted Turin and started for Wittemberg. They turned their steps towards the valley of Aosta, intending to cross the St. Bernard,[811] where for more than five centuries a house of the Augustine order had existed for the reception of the travellers who made use of that then very frequented pass. They conversed about their journey, their feelings, and their hopes; and not content with this, they spoke of the truth with simple-hearted earnestness to the people they met with on the road or at the inns. In the ardor of their youthful zeal, they even allowed themselves to enter into imprudent discussions upon the Romish doctrines.[812] 416They were ‘bursting to speak’—they could not wait until they had crossed the Alps: the spirit with which they were filled carried them away. They had been cautioned, and had resolved to be circumspect; but ‘however deep the hiding-places in the hearts of men,’ said a reformer, ‘their tongues betray their hidden affections.’[813] One of those with whom these Piedmontese youths had debated went and denounced them to Boniface, Cardinal-bishop of Ivrea, and pointed out the road they were to take. The prelate gave the necessary orders, and just as the three students were entering the valley of Aosta,[814] the cardinal’s satellites, who were waiting for them, laid hold of them and carried them to prison.

What a disappointment! At the very time they were anticipating the delights of an unrestrained intercourse with Melancthon and Luther, they found themselves in chains and solitary imprisonment. Curione possessed friends in that district who belonged to the higher nobility; and contriving to inform them of his fate, they exerted themselves in his behalf. The cardinal having sent for him, soon discovered that his prisoner was not an ordinary man. Struck with the extent of his knowledge and the elegance of his mind, he resolved to do all he could to attach him to the Roman Church. He loaded him with attentions, promised to bear the necessary expenses for the continuation of his studies, and with that intent placed him in the priory of St. Benignus. It is probable that Cornelio and Guarino were soon released: although less celebrated than their fellow-traveller, they afterwards became distinguished by their evangelical zeal.

Relics And The Bible.

Although shut up in a monastery, Curione’s soul burnt with zeal for the Word of God. He regretted that Germany 417on which he had so much reckoned, and unable to increase his light at the altar of Wittemberg, he wished at least to make use of what he had for the benefit of the monks commissioned to convert him. He was grieved at the superstitious practices of their worship, and would have desired to enfranchise those about him. A shrine, put in a prominent place on the altar, enclosed a skull and other bones reported to be those of St. Agapetus and St. Tibur the martyr, and which during certain solemnities were presented to the adoration of the people. Why set dry bones in the place which should be occupied by the living Word of God? Are not their writings the only authentic remains of the apostles and prophets? Curione refused to pay the slightest honor to these relics, and in his private conversation he went so far as to speak to some of the monks against such idolatrous worship, instructing them in the true faith.[815] He resolved to do something more. In the convent library he had found a Bible, to which no one paid any attention; he had, moreover, noticed the place where the monks kept the key of the shrine they held so dear.[816] One day—probably in 1530—taking advantage of a favorable opportunity when the monks were occupied elsewhere,[817] he went into the library, took down the holy Word of which David said it was more to be desired than gold, carried it into the church, opened the mysterious coffer, removed the relics, put the Bible in their place, and laid this inscription upon it: ‘This is the ark of the covenant, wherein a man can inquire of the true oracles of God, and in which are contained the true relics of the saints.’ Curione, with emotion and joy, closed the shrine and left the church without being observed. The act, rash as it was, had a deep and evangelical meaning: it expressed the greatest principles of the Reformation. Some time after, at one of the festivals when 418the relics were to be presented to the adoration of the worshippers, the monks opened the shrine. Their surprise, emotion, and rage were boundless, and they at once accused their young companion of sacrilege. Being on the watch, he made his escape, and, quitting Piedmont, took refuge at Milan.

In that city Curione zealously devoted himself to lecturing; but, being at the same time disgusted with the unmeaning practices of the monks, he gave himself with his whole heart to works of Christian charity. As famine and pestilence were wasting the country, he soon after occupied himself wholly in succoring the poor and the sick; he solicited the donations of the nobility, prevailed on the priests to sell for the relief of the wretched the precious objects which adorned their churches, consoled the dying, and even buried the dead.[818] In the convent, he had appeared to be struggling for faith only; in the midst of the pestilence, he seemed to be living for works only. He remembered that Jesus had come to serve, and following his Master’s example, he was eager to console every misery. ‘Christ having become the living root of his soul, had made it a fruitful tree.’ As soon as the scourge abated, every one was eager to testify a proper gratitude to Celio, and the Isacios, one of the best families in the province, gave him the hand of one of their daughters, Margarita Bianca, a young woman of great beauty, who became the faithful and brave companion of his life.[819]

Papal Preachers.

Some time after this, Curione, believing that he had nothing more to fear, and desiring to receive his patrimony, to revisit his native country, and to devote his strength and faith to her service, returned to Piedmont. His hopes were disappointed. Cruel family vexations and clerical persecutions assailed a life that was never free from agitation. He 419had lost all but one sister, whose husband, learning that he intended claiming his inheritance, determined to ruin him. A Dominican monk was making a great noise by his sermons in a neighboring city.[820] Celio took a book from his library, and went with some friends to hear him. He expected that the monk, according to the custom of his class, would draw a frightful picture of the reformers. Curione knew that the essence of the preaching of the evangelical ministry was Christ, justification by faith in his atoning work, the new life which He imparts, and the new commandments which He gives. According to him, the task of the servant of God, now that all things were made new, was to exalt, not the Church, but the Saviour; and to make known all the preciousness of Christ rather than to stun his hearers by furious declamations against their adversaries. Such were not the opinions entertained at that time—we will not say by the great doctors of the Romish Church, but by the vulgar preachers of the papacy. Laying down as a fundamental principle that there was no salvation out of the Church, they naturally believed themselves called to urge the necessity of union—not with Christ, but—with Rome; to extol the beauties of its hierarchy, its worship, and its devout institutions. Instead of feeding the sheep, by giving them the spiritual nourishment of faith, they thought only of pronouncing declamatory eulogies of the fold and drawing horrible pictures of the devouring wolves that were prowling about it. If there had been no protestants to combat, no Luther or Calvin to calumniate, many popish preachers would have found the sermon a superfluous part of the service, as had been the case in the Middle Ages.

The good monk, whom Curione and his friends had gone to hear, preached according to the oratorical rules of vulgar preachers. ‘Do you know,’ he exclaimed, ‘why Luther pleases the Germans?... Because, under the name of Christian liberty, he permits them to indulge in all kinds 420of excess.[821] He teaches, moreover, that Christ is not God, and that He was not born of a virgin.’ And continuing this monkish philippic with great vehemence, he inflamed the animosity of his hearers.

When the sermon was over, Curione asked the prelate who was present for permission to say a few words. Having obtained it, and the congregation being silent and expectant, he said: ‘Reverend father, you have brought serious charges against Luther: can you tell me the book or the place in which he teaches the things with which you reproach him?’ The monk replied that he could not do so then, but if Curione would accompany him to Turin, he would show him the passages. The young man rejoined with indignation: ‘Then I will tell you at once the page and book where the Wittemberg doctor has said the very contrary.’ And opening Luther’s Commentary on the Galatians, he read aloud several passages which completely demonstrated the falseness of the monk’s calumnies. The persons of rank present at the service were disgusted; the people went still further; some violent men, exasperated by the Dominican’s having told them such impudent lies, rushed upon him and struck him. The more reasonable had some trouble to rescue him and send him home safe and sound.[822]

Curione Again Imprisoned.

This scene made a great noise. The bishop and the inquisitors looked upon it as a revolt against the papacy. Curione was a firebrand flung by Satan into the midst of the Church, and they felt that if they did not quench it instantly, the impetuous wind which, crossing the Alps, was beginning to blow in the peninsula, would scatter the sparks far and wide, and spread the conflagration everywhere. The valiant evangelist was seized, taken to Turin, thrown into prison, and in a moment, as soon as the news circulated, all his old enemies set to work. His covetous brother, and 421even his sister, as it would appear, made common cause with the priests to destroy him.[823] Fanaticism and avarice joined together; one party wished to deprive him of his property only, but the others wanted his life. It was not the first time Curione had been in prison for speaking according to the truth: he did not lose courage, he preserved all the serenity of his mind, and remained master of himself. The ecclesiastic charged with the examination overwhelmed him with questions.[824] He was reminded of the relics taken away from the monastery of St. Benignus, the journey he had wished to take to Germany, and the conversations he had held on the road, and was threatened with the stake.[825]

The bishop, knowing that Curione had protectors among the first people in the city, started for Rome, in order to obtain from the pope in person his condemnation to death. Before leaving, he transferred the prisoner to his coadjutor David, brother of the influential cardinal Cibo. David, wishing to make sure of his man, and to prevent its being known where he was detained, removed him by night from the prison in which he had been placed, took him to one of those mansions, not very unlike castles, that are often to be found in Italy, and locked him up in a room enclosed by very thick walls.[826] His officers attached heavy chains to poor Celio’s feet, riveted them roughly, and fastened them into the wall; and finally, two sentries were placed inside the door of the house. When that was done, David felt at ease, sure of being able to produce his prisoner when the condemnation arrived from Rome. There was no hope left the wretched man of being saved. Curione felt that his death could not be far off; but though in great distress he still remained full of courage.

The different operations by which David had secured his 422prisoner had been carried on during the night; when the day came, Curione looked round him: the place seemed to bring to his memory certain half-effaced recollections. He began to examine everything about him more carefully, and by degrees remembered that once upon a time, when a boy, he had been in that house, in that very room—it had probably been the house of some friend. He called to remembrance exactly the arrangement of the building, the galleries, the staircase, the door, and the windows.[827] But ere long he was recalled from these thoughts by a feeling of pain: his jailers had riveted the fetters so tightly that his feet began to swell and the anguish became intolerable. When his keeper came as usual to bring him food, Curione spoke to him of his pain, and begged him to leave one of his feet at liberty, adding that, when that was healed, the jailer could chain it up again and set the other free. The man consented, and some days passed in this way, during which the prisoner experienced by turns severe pain and occasional relief.

This circumstance did not prevent him from making the most serious reflections. He should never see his wife, his children, or his friends again; he could no longer take part in that great work of revival which God was then carrying on in the Church. He knew what sentence would be delivered at Rome. When St. John saw the woman seated on the seven hills, he exclaimed: ‘Babylon! ... drunken with the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus.’ Death awaited Curione on the bishop’s return: of that he had not a doubt. But was it not lawful to defend one’s life against the violence of murderers? An idea suddenly crossed his inventive mind; the hope of escaping, of seeing his dear ones again, of again serving the cause of the Gospel, flashed upon him. He reflected and planned; the expedient which occurred to his mind was singular: possibly it might not succeed, but it might also be the means of saving him from the hands of his persecutors. When Peter was in prison 423the angel of the Lord opened the door and led him out. Celio did not expect a miracle; but he thought it was man’s duty to do all in his power to thwart the counsels of the ungodly. He was not, however, very sanguine of success. God holds the lives of his children in his hand; the Lord will restore him to liberty or send him to the scaffold, as He shall judge best.

Curione’s Escape.

Curione delayed no longer: he proceeded at once to carry out the curious and yet simple expedient which had occurred to his lively imagination. He took the boot off his free leg and stuffed it with rags;[828] he then broke off the leg of a stool that was within his reach, fastened the sham foot to it, and contrived a wooden leg which he fixed to his knee, in such a way that he could move it as if it were a real leg. His Spanish robe, reaching down to his heels, covered everything, and made the matter easier. Presently he heard the footsteps of his jailers: luckily, everything was ready. They entered, did what they were accustomed to do every day, loosed the chained foot, and then, without examining too closely—for they had no suspicions—they put the fetters on the sham leg, and went away.

Celio was free; he rose, he walked; surprised at a deliverance so little expected, he was almost beside himself ... he was rescued from death. But all was not over; he had still to get out of that strong mansion, where so close a watch was kept over him. He waited until night, and when darkness brooded over the city and his keepers were sunk in sleep, he approached the door of the chamber. The jailers, knowing that the prisoner was chained to the wall, and that sentinels were posted at the outer gate, had only pushed it to without locking it. Curione opened it, and moved along with slow and cautious steps, avoiding the slightest noise for fear of giving the alarm. Although it was quite dark, he easily found his way by the help of his memory: he groped his course along the galleries, descended 424the stairs; but on reaching the door of the house, he found it closely shut. What was to be done now? The sbirri were asleep, but he dared not make any noise lest he should wake them. Recollecting that there was a window placed rather high on one side of the door, he contrived to reach it, leapt into the court-yard, scaled the outer wall, fell into the street, and began to seek for a hiding-place as fast as his wounded feet would permit him.[829] When the morning came, there was great surprise and agitation in the house. The fidelity of the jailers was not suspected: and as no one could explain the prisoner’s flight, his enemies circulated the report that he had had recourse to magic to save himself from death.

Curione himself was surprised. The thought that he had escaped not only from the hands of his guards, but also from the terrible condemnation of the sovereign pontiff, whose support the bishop had gone to solicit, still further magnified in his eyes the greatness of his deliverance. He had felt, and severely too, the power of his enemies; but he saw that however keen the hatred of the world, a breath of heaven was sufficient to frustrate its plots. He hastened to leave Turin, and took refuge in a secluded village in the duchy of Milan, where his family joined him. His reputation as a man of letters had spread through that country, and certain Milanese gentlemen who came to pass the summer in the villas near the lonely house which he inhabited, entertained a high opinion of him. One of them, happening to meet him, recognized him; he spoke of him to others of his friends, who made his acquaintance, and all of them, delighted with his amiable character and cultivated mind, were unwilling that such fine talents should remain buried in a sequestered village. They got him invited to the university of Pavia, where he was soon surrounded by an admiring audience. The inquisition, for a time at fault, discovered at last that the daring heretic who had escaped from his prison at Turin was teaching quietly at Pavia; it issued an arrest 425against him, being determined to put an end to the harassing warfare which this independent man was waging against the darkness of the Middle Ages. The familiars of the Holy Office lay in ambush with the intention of seizing the Piedmontese professor as he was leaving his house to go to the lecture-room. But the plot got wind; the students, who were very numerous, supported by some of the chief people of the town, formed a battalion which surrounded Curione as he left his house, conducted him to the Academy, and when the lecture was over, escorted him home again.[830] Public opinion declared itself so strongly in favor of liberty of teaching and against Romish tyranny, that three years elapsed without the inquisitors being able to seize the professor, which caused great joy all over the city. The pope, irritated at such resistance, threatened to excommunicate the senate of Pavia; and Curione, unwilling to imperil his friends, quitted that town for Venice, whence he proceeded to Ferrara to live under that enlightened protection which the Duchess Renée extended to all who loved the Gospel.

Renée Of France.

Ferrara was in truth a centre where the Gospel found a firm support. Renée, who was daughter of Louis XII., and would have succeeded him if (as she used to say) ‘she had had a beard on her chin,’ had inherited, not the catholic ardor of her mother, Anne of Brittany, but the reforming and anti-popish spirit of her father, who had taken for his device: Perdam Babylonis nomen. Deprived of the throne by ‘that accursed Salic law’—to use her own words—but brought up at the court of Francis I., she was closely attached to her cousin Margaret, and although her junior by eighteen years, had eagerly embraced the Gospel which that ‘elder sister’ had preached to her with so much earnestness. Renée was not one of those people who are simply the disciples of others. Less beautiful than Margaret, she resembled her in possessing a great soul, a generous heart, and, more than that, a sound judgment and firm will. While 426clouds gathered round the mild and brilliant luminary which presided over the destinies of Navarre and obscured the end of its course, hardly a passing vapor dimmed for an instant the pure star of Ferrara and Montargis.

There had been a talk of marrying Renée, as there had been of marrying Margaret, to Charles V., and also to Henry VIII.; but the politic Francis had preferred giving his predecessor’s daughter to a prince who would cause him no umbrage. She was therefore married to Hercules of Este, Duke of Ferrara, grandson of pope Alexander VI. by Lucrezia Borgia, and vassal of the Holy See. Such gloomy antecedents did not promise a sympathetic union to the friend of Margaret of Valois.

Although surrounded at Ferrara with all the splendors of a court, Renée delighted in the associations of literature and art, and loved above everything to retire to her closet and seek ‘the one thing needful.’ There was in her piety at this period of her life a slight trace of Margaret’s mystical spirit. A contemplative life, however, was not in keeping with her active character; she had rather a practical turn; she loved to attract to her small court the learned men of Italy, and particularly welcomed the evangelicals who had been driven out of France. She was thus beginning to be the object of the most opposite remarks. All were agreed as to her extreme beneficence; but the adherents of the papacy complained that her intellect, which enabled her to excel in philosophy, inclined her, unfortunately, to investigate religious questions; they added, however, that if she came to the aid of certain persons in bad odor among Roman catholics, it was because her inexhaustible goodness filled her with compassion for those whom she thought unjustly treated.[831] ‘She desires to do good to everybody,’ it was said; ‘in one year she assisted ten thousand of her fellow-countrymen. And when the stewards of her household represented to her the excessive expense of this, she only answered: “What would you have?—they 427are poor people of my own country, all of whom would be my subjects but for that wicked Salic law!”’[832] She was at once a Mæcenas and a Dorcas.

Resurrection Of Christianity.

The time had gone by in Italy when the fanaticism of pagan antiquity had misled the mind, and preachers were to be heard speaking from the pulpit of Minerva, Christ, and Jupiter in the same breath. At the very moment when celebrated professors, commissioned to teach philosophy even at the university of Ferrara, were exclaiming, as Voltaire and others did after him: ‘Christianity is dying out, and its end is near!’ Christianity on the contrary was reviving at Wittemberg, Zurich, Cambridge, and even in France, and the cry which it uttered as it issued from the tomb, re-echoed through Italy and awoke many souls there. In 1528, and perhaps earlier, the evangelical doctrines had been professed at Ferrara. In 1530, the inquisition of that city wrote to the pope, that there were many Lutherans, both laymen and ecclesiastics, within its walls.[833] In fact, the duchess was calling round her, either for the education of her children, or simply for love of learning and the Gospel, professors skilled in the study of the classics, among whom were men enlightened about the superstitions of the Roman Church, and often sincerely attached to the Gospel. Of their number were Celio Calcagnini, Lilio Giraldi Bartholomeo Riccio, Marzello Palingenio, and the two brothers Sinapi. Giovanni Sinapi in particular was full of zeal to spread around him the doctrine of the Scriptures. Many of the most eminent men of Italy, such as Curione, Occhino, Peter Martyr, and the famous poet Flaminio, lived for a time at Ferrara. From that centre evangelical doctrines were propagated in the neighbouring cities; and particularly in Modena, where they spread so widely in the university and among the townspeople, that it was soon called the Lutheran city.[834]


(1520 TO 1536).

While Venice, Turin, Milan, Ferrara, Modena, and other cities of Upper Italy were listening to the voice of the Gospel, the centre and south of the peninsula had also their witnesses to the truth.

Character Of Occhino.

Bernardino Occhino, born at Sienna in 1487, four years younger than Luther and Zwingle, and twenty-one years older than Calvin, was the most famous preacher of the age. In his sermons were to be found that elegance, that choice of words and those turns of expression which produce clearness, grace, and facility of style; but at the same time he was not void of imagination or enthusiasm, and possessed a boldness of language which surprises and carries away those who listen to it. Without being one of those firm, solid spirits who search into all knowledge, and weigh and measure all thoughts, he had strong religious cravings, and as he was moved himself, he moved his hearers. ‘From the very beginning of my life,’ he said, ‘I had a great longing for the heavenly paradise.’ He determined to win it, but went astray on the road. His studies were imperfect; he knew little Greek and no Hebrew: his knowledge of Christian doctrine was neither deep nor extensive; he sometimes allowed himself to descend to trifles and even to contradictions; and without denying the essential doctrines of faith, he was found in the latter part of his life employing obscure and equivocal expressions concerning them. He inopportunely defended customs tolerated under the old covenant, but manifestly forbidden under the new, and thus 429drew down much affliction on his old age. Occhino was a great orator, but not a great divine.

Sienna, the rival of Florence in the Middle Ages, still possessed sufficient attractions to induce a young man to follow the career of letters or of honors; but Occhino’s mind took another direction. From his earliest youth, his religious feelings had inclined him to an ascetic life, and he sought peace for his soul in exercises of devotion. ‘I believe in salvation through works,’ he said, ‘through fasting, prayer, mortifications, and vigils. With the help of God’s grace we can, by means of these practices, satisfy the justice of God, obtain pardon for our sins, and merit heaven.’[835] Erelong his private macerations proved insufficient for him, and he became a monk. Every religious society approved of by Rome was holy in his eyes; but he joined the Observantine Franciscans, because that order was reputed to be stricter than the others. The youthful Bernardino soon found, like Luther, that the life of the cloister could not satisfy his need of holiness. He was discouraged, and, renouncing the pursuit of an object which he seemed unable to attain, he turned to the study of medicine, without however, leaving the convent. Some Franciscans, having separated from the order with the intention of forming a still stricter rule, under the name of Capuchins, Occhino thought he had found what he wanted, and, having joined them, gave himself up with all his strength to voluntary humiliation and the mortification of the senses. Eat not, touch not, taste not. If any new and stricter laws were drawn up by the chiefs of the order, he hastened to conform to them. He threw himself blindfold into a complicated labyrinth of traditions, disciplines, fastings, mortifications, austerities, and ecstasies. And when they were over, he would ask himself whether he had gained anything? Remaining ill at ease and motionless in his cell, he would exclaim: ‘O Christ! if I am not saved now, I know not what I can do more!’ The moment was approaching when he would feel that all these macerations 430were but ‘running knots, which bind at first and strangle at last.’[836]

This was in 1534, when Occhino was forty-seven years old. The agitations of his soul often inspired him, during his sermons, with those pathetic impulses which touch the heart; his superiors, wishing to turn his gifts to account, called him to the functions of the pulpit, and as he thus entered upon a new phase of life, a revolution was also effected in his thoughts. He turned away from the superstitious practices and paltry bonds of the monks and devotees, and approached the Holy Scriptures. Monastic discipline had increased his darkness: the Word was to bring him light. He felt the necessity of conscientiously preparing his sermons, and began to study the Bible. But, strange to say, Scripture, instead of making his work easier, embarrassed him at the very outset, made him uneasy, and even paralyzed him. A striking contrast presented itself to his mind. ‘I believe,’ he said, ‘that we must merit heaven by our works, while Scripture tells me that heaven is given by grace, because of the redemption through Jesus Christ.’ He tried for some time to reconcile these contradictory views; but, do what he would, Rome and the Bible remained diametrically opposed to each other; he determined in favour of Rome. To doubt that the pope’s teaching was divine would have been a crime. ‘The authority of the Church,’ he said in after years, ‘silenced my scruples.’ He applied again to his mortifications. It was all in vain: peace was a stranger to his soul.

Then he turned once more to what he had abandoned. He said to himself that, according to the universal opinion of Christendom, the Scriptures were given by God to show the path to heaven; and that if there was anywhere a remedy for the disease under which he felt himself suffering, it must be in God’s Book. He read its holy pages with entire confidence, and made every exertion to understand them. Erelong a new light broke upon him; a heavenly brightness 431was poured upon the mystery of Golgotha, and he was filled with unutterable joy. ‘Certainly,’ he said, ‘Christ by his obedience and death has fully satisfied the law of God and merited heaven for his elect. That is true righteousness, that is the true salvation.’[837] He did not advance any farther just then; for some time longer the Roman-Catholic Church was in his eyes the true Church, and the religious orders were holy institutions. He had found that peace which he had sought so long, and was satisfied.

Occhino’s Popularity.

The activity of his life increased, the fervor of his zeal augmented, his preaching became more spiritual and more earnest. He continued his itinerant ministry, and attracted still more the attention of the people of Italy. He always went on foot, though weak in body. His name filled the peninsula, and when he was expected in any city a multitude of people and even nobles and princes would go out to meet him. The principal men of the city would display a deep affection for him, pay him every honor, and not permit him to go and lodge in the wretched cell of a monastery, but force him to accept the brilliant hospitality of their mansions. The magnificence of these dwellings, the costly dresses of their inhabitants, and ‘all the pomp of the age,’ made no change in his humble and austere life. Sitting at the luxurious banquets of the great ones of this world, he would drink no wine and eat but of one dish, and that the plainest. Being conducted to the best chamber, and invited to repose in a soft and richly-furnished bed, in order to recruit himself after the fatigue of his journey, he would smile, stretch his threadbare mantle on the floor, and lie down upon it.

As soon as the news of his arrival became known, crowds of people would throng round him from all parts. ‘Whole cities went to hear him,’ says the Bishop of Amelia, ‘and there was no church large enough to contain the multitude of hearers.’[838] All eyes were fixed on him as soon as he entered the pulpit. His age, his thin pale face, his beard falling below 432the waist, his gray hair and coarse robe, and all that was known of his life, made the people regard him as an extraordinary man, indeed as a saint. Was there any affectation in these strange manners? Probably there was, for though a new creation had begun in him, the old nature was still very strong. He was not insensible to the glory that comes from man, and perhaps did not seek alone that which comes from God.

At length the great orator began to speak, and all the congregation hung upon his lips. He explained his ideas with such ease and grace, that even from the very beginning of his ministry, he charmed all who heard him. But after he had studied Scripture, there was more elegance, originality, and talent in his discourses. He made use of evangelical language, which penetrated the heart; and yet no one, unless he were a very subtle theologian, would dare ascribe new doctrines to him. The inward power which he had received touched their hearts; the movements of his eloquence carried away his hearers, and he led them where he pleased.[839] At Perugia, enemies embraced one another as they left the church, and renounced the family feuds which had been handed down through several generations. At Naples, when he preached for some work of charity, every purse was opened: one day he collected five thousand crowns—an enormous sum for those times. Even princes of the Church, such as Cardinal Sadolet and Cardinal Bembo, adjudged him the palm of popular eloquence: all voices hailed him as the first preacher of Italy.[840] We shall see him presently producing a religious revival at Naples. He was preceded and aided in that work by men who, although inferior to him in eloquence, were his superiors in knowledge and faith.

Character Of Peter Martyr.

At the time when the Word was thus sown, and was everywhere bearing fruit more or less, Florence, the land 433of the Medici, so illustrious from its attachment to letters and liberty, was not to be a barren soil. In the year 1500, the year in which Charles V. was born, a rich patrician named Stephen Vermigli had a son whom he named Peter Martyr in honor of Peter of Milan whom the Arians are said to have put to death for maintaining the orthodox faith, and to whom a church was dedicated near the house in which the child was born.[841] His mother, Maria Fumantina, an educated woman of meek and tranquil piety, devoted herself to her only son, taught him Latin in his earliest years, and poured into his heart that incorruptible spirit, which is of such great value before God. The boy early attended the public schools established for the Florentine youth, and was distinguished for the quickness of his understanding, the extent of his powers, the strength of his memory, and above all by such a thirst for learning that no difficulties could stop him. If Occhino possessed liveliness of feeling and imagination, Peter Martyr possessed solidity of judgment and depth of mind.

Before long the youth was involved in a painful struggle. His father,—either because he disapproved of a monastic life, the abuses of which, even at Florence, had been exposed by Dante and afterwards by Savonarola; or because he was ambitious and desired to see his son attain a brilliant position—intended giving him an education calculated to advance him in the service of the State. Peter Martyr, on the contrary, inspired by the pious feelings which he had inherited from his mother, wished to dedicate himself to God. His greatest ambition was to learn; his glory was to know; knowledge, and especially the knowledge of divine things, was in his eyes superior to all the world besides. His father commanded in vain and disinherited him in vain; in 1516 the young man entered the monastery of regular canons of St. Augustine at Fiesole, near Florence. After a certain interval of time Peter Martyr felt that he did not 434learn much in the cloister. He was penetrated with the thought that man ought to make it his object to propagate around him solid knowledge and true light, especially in all that relates to the immortal soul; but to propagate them, he must first possess them. He obtained permission to visit Padua, the seat of a celebrated university. Quiet, steady, diligent, affectionate, and respectful, he was loved and esteemed by all. He venerated the aged as if they were his fathers, and displayed such modesty, affection, and eagerness to do what was pleasing to his comrades, that he always found them, in times of trial, his surest friends.[842] Although he was in the age of passions, and lived in cities where temptations were numerous, he was able to preserve that chastity of thought and that purity of conduct so necessary to the happiness and real success of a young man. He studied philosophy, and in the public disputations acquired a singular dialectic skill, of which he afterwards gave striking proofs. But he was in search of something better, namely, divine truth; and therefore began to attend the lectures of the theological professors. He was soon disgusted with them, for they taught nothing but scholastics, and he resolved to seek the road by himself. He frequently spent the greater part of the night in the library of his monastery; he read the Greek authors, and then took up the Fathers of the Church, Tertullian, Athanasius, and Augustine, and began to have a perception that the theology of primitive catholicism was quite different from that of the papacy.

In 1526, his superiors, struck with his talents, called him to the ministry. Peter Martyr preached at Rome, Bologna, Pisa, Venice, Mantua, Bergamo, and other cities. At the same time he gave public lessons in literature and philosophy, particularly on Homer. But he determined to go farther, and, no longer contenting himself with the poets, philosophers, and Fathers of the Church, he desired to know 435the Holy Scriptures. He was enraptured with them; as the Latin text was not sufficient for him, he read the New Testament in Greek; he next resolved to read the Old Testament also in the original, and meeting with a Jewish doctor named Isaac, at Bologna, he learnt Hebrew of him. Then it was that a new light illumined his fine genius. While he was studying the letter of the Holy Scriptures, the Spirit of God opened his understanding, and displayed before him the mysteries concealed within them.[843] His learning, labors, and administrative ability had already attracted general consideration; and the pious sentiments he now displayed helped to increase it. He was appointed Abbot of Spoleto, and in 1530 was summoned to a larger theatre, to Naples, as Prior of St. Peter’s ad Aram, where we shall meet him erelong.

Aonio Paleario.

In 1534 there lived in Sienna a friend of Greek and Latin literature, an enthusiast for Cicero, whose elegant and harmonious periods he translated better than any other scholar, and who was particularly distinguished among the professors of the university for his elevation of soul, love of truth, boldness of thought, and the courage with which he attacked false doctors and sham ascetics. He made a sensation in the world of schools, and, though he had no official post, the students crowded to his lectures. His name was Antonio della Paglia, which he latinized, according to the fashion of the age, into Aonius Palearius. This, again, was Italianized into Aonio Paleario. Among the hills which bound the Roman Campagna, near the source of the Garigliano, stands the ancient city of Veroli; here he was born in 1503, of an old patrician house according to some, of the family of an artisan according to others. In 1520 he went to Rome, where the love of art and antiquity was then much cultivated, and, from the lessons of illustrious teachers, he learnt to admire Demosthenes, Homer, and 436Virgil. A rumor of war disturbed his peaceful labors. In 1527 the imperial army descended the Alps, and, like an avalanche which, slipping from the icy mountain-tops, rushes down into the valley, it overthrew and destroyed everything in its course. Milan had been crushed, and, when the news reached Rome at the same time with the furious threats uttered by the imperialists against the city of the pontiffs, the young student exclaimed, ‘If they come near us, we are lost!’ Paleario hastily took refuge in the valley where he was born; but even there the spray of the avalanche reached him. When he returned to the papal city, alas! the houses were in ruins, the men of letters had fled. He turned his eyes towards Tuscany, quitted Rome in the latter part of 1529, and after spending some time at Perugia, went on to Sienna, where he arrived in the autumn of 1530.

That ancient city of the Etruscans, transformed into a city of the Middle Ages, at first delighted the friend of letters. Its position in the midst of smiling hills,[844] the fertility of its fields, the abundance of everything, the beauty of the buildings, the cultivated minds of its inhabitants—all enraptured him. But erelong he discovered a wound which wrung his heart: the State was torn by factions; an ignorant, impetuous, turbulent democracy had the upper hand; the strength of a people who might have done great things was wasted in idle and barren disputes. The most eminent men wept over the sorrows of their country, and fled with their wives and children from the desolated land. ‘Alas!’ exclaimed Paleario, ‘the city wants nothing but concord between the citizens.’[845] He met, however, with an affectionate welcome in the families of a few nobles; and, after visiting Florence, Ferrara, Padua, and Bologna, he returned in 1532 to Sienna, to which his friends had invited him.

Poem On Immortality.

437Paleario was a poet: his fancy was at work wherever he went; and, either during his travels or on his return to the Ghibeline city, he composed a Latin poem on the immortality of the soul.[846] We find traces of the Roman doctrine in it, especially of purgatory[847] and of the queenship of the Virgin.[848] His eyes, however, were already turned towards the Reformation. He desired to have readers like Sadolet, and also the sympathy of Germany.[849] The poem evidences a soul which, without having yet found God and the peace he gives, sighs after a new earth, a rejuvenated humanity, and a happiness which consists in contemplating the Almighty, the King of men, as the eternal and absolute goodness and supreme happiness.[850]

Ere long Paleario took another step. The religious questions by which Italy was so deeply agitated engrossed that eminent mind. He commenced reading not only Saint Augustine but the Reformers and the Holy Scriptures, and began to speak in his lectures with a liberty that enraptured his hearers, but so exasperated the priests that his friend and patron Sadolet recommended him to be more prudent. Paleario, however, boldly crossed the threshold which separates the literary from the Christian world. He received thoroughly the doctrine of justification by faith, and found in it a peace which was to him a warrant of its truth. ‘Since he in whom the Godhead dwells,’ he said, ‘has so lovingly poured out his blood for our salvation, we must not doubt of the favor of Heaven. All who turn their souls towards Jesus crucified, and bind themselves to him with 438thorough confidence, are delivered from evil and receive forgiveness of their sins.’

Paleario loved the country. Having noticed a villa which had belonged to Aulus Cecina, the friend of Cicero, situated between Colle and Volterra, at the summit of a plateau, whence flowed a stream, watering the slopes, and where a pure air and the tranquility of the fields could be enjoyed,[851] the Christian poet bought it, and there, in his beloved Cecignana, on the terrace before the house or among the forest oaks, he passed many a peaceful day, consecrated to serious meditation. He knew that the world on which he fixed his eyes was the creation of the Supreme, the free will of God; that an inward and uninterrupted bond existed between the Creator and his creatures; and rejoiced that, owing to the redemption of Jesus Christ, there would be formed out of its inhabitants a kingdom of God, from which evil would be forever banished.

Paleario’s Love Of Nature.

Paleario’s tender soul needed domestic affections, and at Sienna he was alone. He married Marietta Guidotti, a young person of respectable parentage, who had been brought up with holy modesty.[852] She bore him two sons, Lampridius and Phædrus, and two daughters, Aspasia and Sophonisba, whom he loved tenderly, and who were, after God, the consolation of a life agitated by the injustice of his enemies. Family affections and a love for the beauties of nature were in Paleario, as they often are, the marks of an elevated soul. At a later period, when his life had become still more bitter; when he had lost his health, and his faith had made him an object of horror to the fanatical; when he exclaimed, ‘All men are full of hatred and ill-will toward me;’[853] when he foresaw that he must ere long succumb beneath the blows of his adversaries; even then he sighed after the country, and wrote to one of his friends, 439with a simplicity reminding us of ancient times:—‘I am weary of study; fain would I fly to you and pass my days under the warm bright sky of your fields. At early morn, or when the day begins to wane, we will wander through the country, around the cottages, with Lampridius and Phædrus my darling boys, and with your wife and mine.[854] Get ready the garden, that we may live on herbs, for I am utterly disgusted with the luxurious tables of our cities. The farm shall supply us with eggs and poultry, the river with fish. Oh! how sweet are the repasts at which we eat the fruit we gather from our own garden, the fowls fed by our own hands, the birds caught in our nets,—sweeter far than those where you see nothing on the table but provisions bought in the market! We will work in the fields; we will tire ourselves. Make your preparations; get ready a saw, a hatchet, a wedge to cleave the wood, pruning-shears, a harrow, and a hoe. If these implements fail us, we will be content with planting trees, that shall serve for ages yet to come.’ It is pleasing to see the disciple of Cicero and especially of the Bible, at a time when he was tormented by sickness and the hatred of the wicked, rejoicing like a child at the thought of planting trees that should give a cool shade and welcome fruit to coming generations. We shall now describe the end of his stay at Sienna, and what brought his great sorrow upon him, although it will lead us beyond the limits of time we have prescribed for ourselves.

The best friend Paleario possessed was Antonio Bellantes, president of the Council of Nine, a grave and benevolent man, generally loved and respected; in a time of difficulty he had assisted the State by the gift of two million golden crowns. Bellantes esteemed Paleario very highly, and Paleario loved him above all other men. In the course of the popular disturbances, the members of the Council of Nine had been banished; but the senate and 440people had entreated Bellantes to remain at Sienna—a circumstance which had greatly enraged his enemies. Ruffians broke into his house one night and plundered it. Somewhat later Bellantes died, leaving all his ready money to his mother, that she might deliver it to his sons when they came of age. The good lady was a great friend of the monks; every day the capuchins used to visit her,[855] and when she felt sick they crowded round her bed. After her death, no property could be found in her house, except some torn bags which appeared to have held money. The sons of Bellantes accused the monks of having stolen their inheritance, and Paleario supported them with his eloquence. The monks denied the fact, and were acquitted upon their solemn oath. Inflamed with anger against Paleario, they resolved upon his destruction.

Plot Against Paleario.

At the head of his adversaries was the senator Otto Melio Cotta, a rich, powerful, and ambitious man of a domineering spirit. At first he had been mixed up in political affairs, but he afterwards enlisted under the banners of the clergy, and made common cause with the monks. A plot was formed in the Observantine convent, situated about a mile from Sienna, in the midst of woods, grottos, and holy places. Three hundred members of the Joanelli, a brotherhood formed for certain exercises of piety, swore upon the altar to destroy Paleario. Not confining themselves to attacks upon his teaching, Cotta and his other adversaries began to pry into his private life, to watch all his movements, and to catch up every word. They soon found fresh subjects of complaint against him. Paleario had ridiculed a wealthy priest, who was to be seen every morning devoutly kneeling before the shrine of a saint, but who refused to pay his debts; and the keen irony with which he had spoken of him had occasioned a great scandal among the clergy. That however, was not enough; they must have a palpable mark of heresy. His adversaries endeavored, therefore, to entrap 441him, and some of them, presenting themselves as if they wanted to be instructed, put questions to him calculated to lead him into the snare. ‘What,’ they asked, ‘is the first means of salvation given by God to man?’ He answered ‘Christ.’ That might pass; but, continuing their questions, Paleario’s enemies added: ‘What is the second?’ In their opinion, he should have indicated meritorious works; but Paleario replied: ‘Christ.’ Continuing their inquiry, they said: ‘And what is the third?’ They thought that Paleario should answer, The Church; out of the Church there is no salvation; but he still replied, ‘Christ.’[856] From that moment he was a lost man. The monks and their friends reported to Cotta the answer which they deemed so heretical.

Paleario had no suspicion of danger. Cardinal Sadolet and some other friends invited him to come and see them at Rome, and he went. He had not been there long before he received a very excited letter from Faustus Bellantes. ‘There is a great agitation in the city,’ he said; ‘an astounding conspiracy has been formed against you by the most criminal of men.[857] We do not know upon what the accusation is founded; we are ignorant of the names of your adversaries. The report runs that the chiefs of the state have been excited against you in consequence of calumnious charges concerning religion. It is said that some wretched monks have sworn your ruin; but the plot must have deeper roots. I shall go to Sienna to-morrow, and shall speak to my friends and relations about it. I am ready for everything, even to lose my life in your defence. Mean-time I conjure you, let your mind be at peace.’

Bellantes was not deceived. Cotta, without loss of time, appeared in the senate and reported to his colleagues the monstrous language of Paleario, and exclaimed, that if they 442suffered him to live, ‘there would be no vestige of religion left in the city.’[858] Every man was silent: such was the alarm caused by a charge of heresy, that no one dared take up the defence of that courageous Christian.

Paleario heard of this, and was distressed but not surprised. One truth was deeply engraved in his heart: All power of salvation is given to Jesus Christ; He is the only source whence the new life can be drawn. It seemed to him that the priests had forged so many means of acquiring pardon, that they hardly left Christ the hundredth part. He could well understand how irritated the clergy must be against a man who set so little store by all their paltry contrivances; but although he saw clearly the danger that threatened him, he remained firm. ‘The power of the conspirators is immense,’ he said; ‘the more fiercely a man attacks me, the more pious he is reckoned. But what matters it? Jesus Christ, whom I have always sincerely and religiously adored, is my hope.[859]... I despise the cabals of men, and my heart is full of courage.’[860] Christ was his king. He knew that that great Sovereign, who is achieving the conquest of the world, preserves at the same time all those who have found reconciliation with God through him.

His wife was not so calm. Marietta, his virtuous and devoted partner, so ardent in her affection, was filled with uneasiness and trouble; her imagination called up before her not only the misfortunes of the moment; but also those of the future; she was the most unhappy of women.[861] Her agony was greater than her strength; she passed whole days in tears.[862] Distressed and exhausted, she lost her health; and every one might see in her face the sorrow which was consuming 443her. When her husband heard of this at Rome, he was heart-broken, and conjured his mother and Bellantes to visit Marietta, in order to distract the afflicted wife from her sorrow.

Paleario would have desired to hasten to her in person and confront his accusers; but his friends at Sienna and at Rome alike dissuaded him. The citizens who were then at the head of the state were violent men, of no morality, and as ready to condemn the innocent as to acquit the guilty. It was hoped that a new election would bring upright men into power: they conjured Paleario to wait, and he did so. But there was no change: the denunciations, charges, and murmurs only increased. The enemies of the Gospel attacked not merely Paleario, but the reformers, the Germans, as they said: they tried to involve all the friends of the Bible, both German and Italian, in the same condemnation. At last, what had been hoped for came to pass; an important change took place in the government of the republic; order and liberty were restored. Paleario thought he could no longer remain away; he left Rome and joined his family at his country-house near Colle.

Paleario Accused Of Heresy.

As soon as his adversaries were informed of his return, they laid a charge of heresy before the senate of Sienna and the court of Rome. Determined to employ all means to destroy Paleario, they resolved to constrain the ecclesiastical authority to go along with them by the strong pressure they would bring to bear upon it. With this intent twelve of them met, and, bent on prevailing upon the archbishop to demand that Paleario should be put upon his trial, they marched through the streets of the city to the prelate’s palace. In this excited band there was the senator Cotta with five others, distinguished among whom was Alexis Lucrinas, an impetuous and foolish man; then three priests, people of little importance, but very violent, grossly ignorant, and untiring babblers;[863] and lastly, three monks. The archbishop 444happened just then to be at his villa in the suburbs, for the sake of the purer air; the delegates went there after him, accompanying their march with such shouting, threats, and disputes, that the women, attracted by the unusual noise, ran to the windows, fancying they were taking some criminal to punishment. Some of the conspirators said: ‘The witnesses will be heard, the motives of his condemnation will be declared, and then Paleario will be thrown into the fire;’ but others wanted to proceed more quickly, so that the punishment should follow immediately upon the statement of the offence without any form of trial and without permitting the accused to be heard.[864] Archbishop Francesco Bandini, of the illustrious house of Piccolomini, was a friend of letters and consequently of Paleario. It was afternoon; the prelate who was taking his siesta, being awoke by the noise, called a servant, and asked him who were vociferating in that manner. Being informed that they were men of consideration, he ordered them to be admitted. He rose from his couch, took his seat and waited for the strange deputation. They entered: Lucrinas, who had been sometimes invited to his lordship’s table, was full of confidence in himself, and accordingly had begged that they would allow him to speak. Looking round him with a satisfied and boasting air, he began to pour out against Paleario a long string of insults and maledictions in a passionate tone. The bishop, a wise and grave man, had some difficulty to contain himself, and said that the whole proceeding appeared to him full of levity. ‘There can be no question of levity,’ impudently exclaimed Lucrinas, ‘when three hundred citizens are ready to sign the accusation.’ ‘And I could produce six hundred witnesses,’ rejoined the prelate, ‘who have sworn that you are a merciless usurer. I did not, however, give effect to their denunciation. Did I do well or ill? tell me.’ ... The poor wretch was silent; the fact was too notorious to be denied, 445and too scandalous to be confessed. But his companions were not to be put out by such a trifle; they explained the motives of their prosecution, threw themselves at the prelate’s feet, and conjured him in the name of religion to support the charge against Paleario. The archbishop, considering that it was a question of heresy, thou