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Henry Martyn Baird

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Title: The Rise of the Hugenots, Vol. 1 (of 2)

Author: Henry Martyn Baird

Release Date: September 24, 2007 [EBook #22762]

Language: English

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Occupying nearly four columns, appeared in the New York Tribune of Dec. 30th, 1879, from which the following is extracted.

"It embraces the time from the accession of Francis I. in 1515, to the death of Charles IX. in 1574, at which epoch the doctrines of the Reformation had become well-grounded in France, and the Huguenots had outgrown the feebleness of infancy and stood as a distinct and powerful body before the religious world. In preparing the learned and elaborate work, which will give the name of the author an honourable place on the distinguished list of American historians, Professor Baird has made a judicious use of the researches and discoveries which, during the last thirty years, have shed a fresh light on the history of France at the era of the Reformation. Among the ample stores of knowledge which have been laid open to his inquiries are the archives of the principal capitals of Europe, which have been thoroughly explored for the first time during that period. Numerous manuscripts of great value, for the most part unknown to the learned world, have been rescued from obscurity. At the side of the voluminous chronicles long since printed, a rich abundance of contemporary correspondence and hitherto inedited memoirs has accumulated, which afford a copious collection of life-like and trustworthy views of the past. The secrets of diplomacy have been revealed. The official statements drawn up for the public may now be tested by the more truthful and unguarded accounts conveyed in cipher to all the foreign courts of Europe. Of not less importance, perhaps, than the official publications are the fruits of private research, among which are several valuable collections of original documents. While the author has not failed to enrich his pages with the materials derived from these and similar sources, he has made a careful and patient study of the host of original chronicles, histories, and kindred productions which have long been more or less familiar to the world of letters. The fruits of his studious labours, as presented in these volumes, attest his diligence, his fidelity, his equipoise of judgment, his fairness of mind, his clearness of perception, and his accuracy of statement.

"While the research and well-digested erudition exhibited in this work are eminently creditable to the learning and scholarship of the author, its literary execution amply attests the excellence of his taste, and his judgment and skill in the art of composition. His work is one of the most important recent contributions to American literature, and is entitled to a sincere greeting for its manifold learning and scholarly spirit."







JANUARY (1562).


Hazell, Watson, and Viney, Printers, London and Aylesbury

[Pg iii]


The period of about half a century with which these volumes are concerned may properly be regarded as the formative age of the Huguenots of France. It included the first planting of the reformed doctrines, and the steady growth of the Reformation in spite of obloquy and persecution, whether exercised under the forms of law or vented in lawless violence. It saw the gathering and the regular organization of the reformed communities, as well as their consolidation into one of the most orderly and zealous churches of the Protestant family. It witnessed the failure of the bloody legislation of three successive monarchs, and the equally abortive efforts of a fourth monarch to destroy the Huguenots, first with the sword and afterward with the dagger. At the close of this period the faith and resolution of the Huguenots had survived four sanguinary wars into which they had been driven by their implacable enemies. They were just entering upon a fifth war, under favorable auspices, for they had made it manifest to all men that their success depended less upon the lives of leaders, of whom they might be robbed by the hand of the assassin, than upon a conviction of the righteousness of their cause, which no sophistry of their opponents could dissipate. The Huguenots, at the death of[Pg iv] Charles the Ninth, stood before the world a well-defined body, that had outgrown the feebleness of infancy, and had proved itself entitled to consideration and respect. Thus much was certain.

The subsequent fortunes of the Huguenots of France—their wars until they obtained recognition and some measure of justice in the Edict of Nantes; the gradual infringement upon their guaranteed rights, culminating in the revocation of the edict, and the loss to the kingdom of the most industrious part of the population; their sufferings "under the cross" until the publication of the Edict of Toleration—these offer an inviting field of investigation, upon which I may at some future time be tempted to enter.[1]

The history of the Huguenots during a great part of the period covered by this work, is, in fact, the history of France as well. The outlines of the action and some of the characters that come upon the stage are, consequently, familiar to the reader of general history. The period has been treated cursorily in writings extending over wider limits, while several of the most striking incidents, including, especially, the Massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day, have been made the subject of special disquisitions. Yet, although much study and ingenuity have been expended in elucidating the more difficult and obscure points, there is, especially in the English language, a lack of works upon the general theme, combining painstaking investigation into the[Pg v] older (but not, necessarily, better known) sources of information, and an acquaintance with the results of modern research.

The last twenty-five or thirty years have been remarkably fruitful in discoveries and publications shedding light upon the history of France during the age of the Reformation and the years immediately following. The archives of all the principal, and many of the secondary, capitals of Europe have been explored. Valuable manuscripts previously known to few scholars—if, indeed, known to any—have been rescued from obscurity and threatened destruction. By the side of the voluminous histories and chronicles long since printed, a rich store of contemporary correspondence and hitherto inedited memoirs has been accumulated, supplying at once the most copious and the most trustworthy fund of life-like views of the past. The magnificent "Collection de Documents Inédits sur l'Histoire de France," still in course of publication by the Ministry of Public Instruction, comprehends in its grand design not only extended memoirs, like those of Claude Haton of Provins, but the even more important portfolios of leading statesmen, such as those of Secretary De l'Aubespine and Cardinal Granvelle (not less indispensable for French than for Dutch affairs), and the correspondence of monarchs, as of Henry the Fourth. The secrets of diplomacy have been revealed. Those singularly accurate and sensible reports made to the Doge and Senate of Venice, by the ambassadors of the republic, upon their return from the French court, can be read in the collections of Venetian Relations of Tommaseo and Albèri, or as summarized by Ranke and Baschet. The official statements drawn up for the eyes of the public may now be confronted with and tested by the more truthful and unguarded accounts conveyed in cipher to all the foreign courts of Europe. Including the partial collections of[Pg vi] despatches heretofore put in print, we possess, regarding many critical events, the narratives and opinions of such apt observers as the envoys of Spain, of the German Empire, of Venice, and of the Pope, of Wurtemberg, Saxony, and the Palatinate. Above all, we have access to the continuous series of letters of the English ambassadors and minor agents, comprising Sir Thomas Smith, Sir Nicholas Throkmorton, Walsingham, Jones, Killigrew, and others, scarcely less skilful in the use of the pen than in the art of diplomacy. This English correspondence, parts of which were printed long ago by Digges, Dr. Patrick Forbes, and Haynes, and other portions by Hardwick, Wright, Tytler-Fraser, etc., can now be read in London, chiefly in the Record Office, and is admirably analyzed in the invaluable "Calendars of State Papers (Foreign Series)," published under the direction of the Master of the Rolls. Too much weight can scarcely be given to this source of information and illustration. One of the learned editors enthusiastically remarks concerning a part of it (the letters of Throkmorton[2]): "The historical literature of France, rich as it confessedly is in memoirs and despatches of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, possesses (as far as I am aware) no series of papers which can compare either in continuity, fidelity, or minuteness, with the correspondence of Throkmorton.... He had his agents and his spies everywhere throughout France."

Little, if at all, inferior in importance to governmental publications, are the fruits of private research. Several voluminous collections of original documents deserve special mention. Not to speak of the publications of the national French Historical[Pg vii] Society, the "Société de l'Histoire du Protestantisme Français" has given to the world, in its monthly Bulletin, so many hitherto inedited documents, besides a great number of excellent monographs, that the volumes of this periodical, now in its twenty-eighth year, constitute in themselves an indispensable library of reference. That admirable biographical work, "La France Protestante," by the brothers Haag (at present in course of revision and enlargement); the "Correspondance des Réformateurs dans les Pays de Langue Française," by M. Herminjard (of which five volumes have come out), a signal instance of what a single indefatigable student can accomplish; the collections of Calvin's Letters, by M. Jules Bonnet; and the magnificent edition of the same reformer's works, by Professors Baum, Cunitz, and Reuss, a treasury of learning, rich in surprises for the historical student—all these merit more particular description than can here be given. The biography of Beza, by Professor Baum, the history of the Princes of Condé, by the Due d'Aumale, the correspondence of Frederick the Pious, edited by Kluckholn, etc., contribute a great deal of previously unpublished material. The sumptuous work of M. Douen on Clément Marot and the Huguenot Psalter sheds new light upon an interesting, but until now obscure subject. The writings of Farel and his associates have been rescued from the oblivion to which the extreme scarcity of the extant copies consigned them; and the "Vray Usage de la Croix," the "Sommaire," and the "Manière et Fasson," can at last be read in elegant editions, faithful counterparts of the originals in every point save typographical appearance. The same may be said of such celebrated but hitherto unattainable rarities as the "Tigre" of 1560, scrupulously reproduced in fac-simile, by M. Charles Read, of Paris, from the copy belonging to the Hôtel-de-Ville, and the fugi[Pg viii]tive songs and hymns which M. Bordier has gathered in his "Chansonnier Huguenot."

No little value belongs, also, to certain contemporary journals of occurrences given to the world under the titles of "Journal d'un Bourgeois de Paris sous le règne de François Ier," "Cronique du Roy Françoys, premier de ce nom," "Journal d'un curé ligueur de Paris sous les trois derniers Valois (Jehan de la Fosse)," "Journal de Jean Glaumeau de Bourges," etc.

The revival of interest in the fortunes of their ancestors has led a considerable number of French Protestants to prepare works bearing upon the history of Protestantism in particular cities and provinces. Among these may be noted the works of MM. Douen and Rossier, on Picardy; Recordon, on Champagne; Lièvre, on Poitou; Bujeaud, on Angoumois; Vaurigaud, on Brittany; Arnaud, on Dauphiny; Coquerel, on Paris; Borrel, on Nismes; Callot and Delmas, on La Rochelle; Crottet, on Pons, Gémozac, and Mortagne; Corbière, on Montpellier, etc. Although these books differ greatly in intrinsic importance, and in regard to the exercise of historical criticism, they all have a valid claim to attention by reason of the evidence they afford of individual research.

Of the new light thrown upon the rise of the Huguenots by these and similar works, it has been my aim to make full use. At the same time I have been convinced that no adequate knowledge of the period can be obtained, save by mastering the great array of original chronicles, histories, and kindred productions with which the literary world has long been acquainted, at least by name. This result I have, accordingly, endeavored to reach by careful and patient reading. It is unnecessary to specify in detail the numerous authors through whose writings it became my laborious but by no means un[Pg ix]grateful task to make my way, for the marginal notes will indicate the exact line of the study pursued. It may be sufficient to say, omitting many other names scarcely less important, that I have assiduously studied the works of De Thou, Agrippa d'Aubigné, La Place, La Planche; the important "Histoire Ecclésiastique," ascribed to Theodore de Bèze; the "Actiones et Monimenta" of Crespin; the memoirs of Castelnau, Vieilleville, Du Bellay, Tavannes, La Noue, Montluc, Lestoile, and other authors of this period, included in the large collections of memoirs of Petitot, Michaud and Poujoulat, etc.; the writings of Brantôme; the Commentaries of Jean de Serres, in their various editions, as well as other writings attributed to the same author; the rich "Mémoires de Condé," both in their original and their enlarged form; the series of important documents comprehended in the "Archives curieuses" of Cimber and Danjou; the disquisitions collected by M. Leber; the histories of Davila, Florimond de Ræmond, Maimbourg, Varillas, Soulier, Mézeray, Gaillard; the more recent historical works of Sismondi, Martin, Michelet, Floquet; the volumes of Browning, Smedley, and White, in English, of De Félice, Drion, and Puaux, in French, of Barthold, Von Raumer, Ranke, Polenz, Ebeling, and Soldan, in German. The principal work of Professor Soldan, in particular, bounded by the same limits of time with those of the present history, merits, in virtue of accuracy and thoroughness, a wider recognition than it seems yet to have attained. My own independent investigations having conducted me over much of the ground traversed by Professor Soldan, I have enjoyed ample opportunity for testing the completeness of his study and the judicial fairness of his conclusions.

The posthumous treatise of Professor H. Wuttke, "Zur Vorgeschichte der Bartholomäusnacht," published in Leipsic since[Pg x] the present work was placed in the printer's hands, reached me too late to be noticed in connection with the narrative of the events which it discusses. Notwithstanding Professor Wuttke's recognized ability and assiduity as a historical investigator, I am unable to adopt the position at which he arrives.

I desire here to acknowledge my obligation for valuable assistance in prosecuting my researches to my lamented friend and correspondent, Professor Jean Guillaume Baum, long and honorably connected with the Académie de Strasbourg, than whom France could boast no more indefatigable or successful student of her annals, and who consecrated his leisure hours during forty years to the enthusiastic study of the history of the French and Swiss Reformation. If that history is better understood now than when, in 1838, he submitted as a theological thesis his astonishingly complete "Origines Evangelii in Gallia restaurati," the progress is due in great measure to his patient labors. To M. Jules Bonnet, under whose skilful editorship the Bulletin of the French Protestant Historical Society has reached its present excellence, I am indebted for help afforded me in solving, by means of researches among the MSS. of the Bibliothèque Rationale at Paris, and the Simler Collection at Zurich, several difficult problems. To these names I may add those of M. Henri Bordier, Bibliothécaire Honoraire in the Department of MSS. (Bibliothèque Rationale), of M. Raoul de Cazenove, of Lyons, author of many highly prized monographs on Huguenot topics, and of the Rev. John Forsyth, D.D., who have in various ways rendered me valuable services.

Finally, I deem it both a duty and a privilege to express my warm thanks to the librarians of the Princeton Theological Seminary and of the Union Theological Seminary in this city; and[Pg xi] particularly to the successive superintendents and librarians of the Astor Library—both the living and the dead—by the signal courtesy of whom, the whole of that admirable collection of books has been for many years placed at my disposal for purposes of consultation so freely, that nothing has been wanting to make the work of study in its alcoves as pleasant and effective as possible.

University of the City of New York,
September 15, 1879.

[Pg xiii]




France in the Sixteenth Century 3
Extent at the Accession of Francis I. 3
Gradual Territorial Growth 4
Subdivision in the Tenth Century 5
Destruction of the Feudal System 5
The Foremost Kingdom of Christendom 6
Assimilation of Manners and Language 8
Growth and Importance of Paris 9
Military Strength 10
The Rights of the People overlooked 11
The States General not convoked 12
Unmurmuring Endurance of the Tiers État 13
Absolutism of the Crown 14
Partial Checks 15
The Parliament of Paris 16
Other Parliaments 17
The Parliaments claim the Right of Remonstrance 17
Abuses in the Parliament of Bordeaux 19
Origin and Growth of the University 20
Faculty of Theology, or Sorbonne 22
Its Authority and Narrowness 23
Multitude of Students 24
Credit of the Clergy 25
Liberties of the Gallican Church 25
Pragmatic Sanction of. St. Louis (1268) 26
Conflict of Philip the Fair with Boniface VIII. 27
[Pg xiv]The "Babylonish Captivity" 28
Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges (1438) 29
Rejoicing at the Council of Basle 31
Louis XI. undertakes to abrogate the Pragmatic Sanction 32
But subsequently re-enacts it in part 33
Louis XII. publishes it anew 35
Francis I. sacrifices the Interests of the Gallican Church 35
Concordat between Leo X. and the French King 36
Dissatisfaction of the Clergy 37
Struggle with the Parliament of Paris 37
Opposition of the University 39
Patronage of the King 41
The "Renaissance" 41
Francis's Acquirements overrated 42
His Munificent Patronage of Art 42
The Collége Royal, or "Trilingue" 43
An Age of Blood 44
Barbarous Punishment for Crime 45
And not less for Heresy 46
Belief in Judicial Astrology 47
Predictions of Nostradamus 47
Reverence for Relics 49
For the Consecrated Wafer 50
Internal Condition of the Clergy 51
Number and Wealth of the Cardinals 51
Non-residence of Prelates 52
Revenues of the Clergy 52
Vice and Hypocrisy 53
Brantôme's Account of the Clergy before the Concordat 54
Aversion to the Use of the French Language 56
Indecent Processions—"Processions Blanches" 59
The Monastic Orders held in Contempt 60
Protests against prevailing Corruption 61
The "Cathari," or Albigenses 61
Nicholas de Clemangis 63
John Gerson 64
Jean Bouchet's "Deploration of the Church" 65

Changes in the Boundaries of France during the 16th Century 66
The Reformation in Meaux 67
Jacques Lefèvre d'Étaples 67
Restores Letters to France 68
[Pg xv]Wide Range of his Studies 68
Guillaume Farel, his Pupil 68
Devotion of Teacher and Scholar 69
Lefèvre publishes a Latin Commentary on the Pauline Epistles (1512) 70
Enters into Controversy with Natalis Beda (1518) 71
The Sorbonne's Declaration (Nov. 9, 1521) 71
Briçonnet, Bishop of Meaux 72
His First Reformatory Efforts 72
Invites Lefèvre and Farel to Meaux 73
Effects of the Preaching of Roussel and others 74
De Roma's Threat 76
Lefèvre publishes a Translation of the New Testament (1523) 77
The Results surpass Expectation 79
Bishop Briçonnet's Weakness 80
Forbids the "Lutheran" Doctors to preach 81
Lefèvre and Roussel take Refuge in Strasbourg 84
Jean Leclerc whipped and branded 87
His barbarous Execution at Metz 88
Pauvan burned on the Place de Grève 89
The Hermit of Livry 92
Briçonnet becomes a Jailer of "Lutherans" 92
Lefèvre's Writings condemned by the Sorbonne (1525) 93
He becomes Tutor of Prince Charles 94
Librarian at Blois 94
Ends his Days at Nérac 95
His Mental Anguish 95
Michel d'Arande and Gérard Roussel 96
Francis I. and Margaret of Angoulême—Early Reformatory Movements and Struggles 99
Francis I. and Margaret of Angoulême 99
The King's Chivalrous Disposition 100
Appreciates Literary Excellence 101
Contrast with Charles V. 101
His Religious Convictions 102
His Fear of Innovation 102
His Loose Morality 103
Margaret's Scholarly Attainments 104
Her Personal Appearance 105
Her Participation in Public Affairs 106
Her First Marriage to the Duke of Alençon 106
Obtains a Safe-Conduct to visit her Brother 106
[Pg xvi]Her Second Marriage, to Henry, King of Navarre 107
Bishop Briçonnet's Mystic Correspondence 108
Luther's Teachings solemnly condemned by the University 108
Melanchthon's Defence 109
Regency of Louise de Savoie 109
The Sorbonne suggests Means of extirpating the "Lutheran Doctrines" (Oct. 7, 1523) 110
Wide Circulation of Luther's Treatises 112
François Lambert, of Avignon 112
Life among the Franciscans 113
Lambert, the first French Monk to embrace the Reformation 113
He is also the First to Marry 114
Jean Châtellain at Metz 114
Wolfgang Schuch at St. Hippolyte 115
Farel at Montbéliard 117
Pierre Caroli lectures on the Psalms 118

The Heptameron of the Queen of Navarre 119
Increased Severity—Louis de Berquin 122
Captivity of Francis I. 122
Change in the Religious Policy of Louise 123
A Commission appointed to try "Lutherans" 124
The Inquisition heretofore jealously watched 125
The Commission indorsed by Clement VII. 126
Its Powers enlarged by the Bull 128
Character of Louis de Berquin 128
He becomes a warm Partisan of the Reformation 129
First Imprisonment (1523) 130
Released by Order of the King 130
Advice of Erasmus 131
Second Imprisonment (1526) 131
Francis from Madrid again orders his Release 132
Dilatory Measures of Parliament 132
Margaret of Angoulême's Hopes 133
Francis violates his Pledges to Charles V. 134
Must conciliate the Pope and Clergy 135
Promises to prove himself "Very Christian" 137
The Council of Sens (1528) 138
Cardinal Duprat 138
Vigorous Measures to suppress Reformation 139
The Councils of Bourges and Lyons 139
[Pg xvii]Financial Help bought by Persecution 140
Insult to an Image and an Expiatory Procession 141
Other Iconoclastic Excesses 143
Berquin's Third Arrest 143
His Condemnation to Penance, Branding, and Perpetual Imprisonment 145
He Appeals 145
Is suddenly Sentenced to Death and Executed 146
Francis Treats with the Germans 147
And with Henry VIII. of England 148
Francis meets Clement at Marseilles 148
Marriage of Henry of Orleans to Catharine de' Medici 148
Francis Refuses to join in a general Scheme for the Extermination of Heresy 149
Execution of Jean de Caturce, at Toulouse 150
Le Coq's Evangelical Sermon 151
Margaret attacked at College of Navarre 152
Her "Miroir de l'Ame Pécheresse" condemned 152
Rector Cop's Address to the University 153
Calvin, the real Author, seeks Safety in Flight 154
Rough Answer of Francis to the Bernese 155
Royal Letter to the Bishop of Paris 156

Elegies on Louis de Berquin 157
Melanchthon's Attempt at Conciliation, and the Year of the Placards 159
Hopes of Reunion in the Church 159
Melanchthon and Du Bellay 160
A Plan of Reconciliation 160
Its Extreme Concessions 161
Makes a Favorable Impression on Francis 162
Indiscreet Partisans of Reform 162
Placards and Pasquinades 163
Féret's Mission to Switzerland 164
The Placard against the Mass 164
Excitement produced in Paris (Oct. 18, 1534) 167
A Copy posted on the Door of the Royal Bedchamber 167
Anger of Francis at the Insult 167
Political Considerations 168
Margaret of Navarre's Entreaties 168
Francis Abolishes the Art of Printing (Jan. 13, 1535) 169
[Pg xviii]The Rash and Shameful Edict Recalled 170
Rigid Investigation and many Victims 171
The Expiatory Procession (Jan. 21, 1535) 173
The King's Speech at the Episcopal Palace 176
Constancy of the Victims 177
The Estrapade 177
Flight of Clément Marot and others 179
Royal Declaration of Coucy (July 16, 1535) 179
Alleged Intercession of Pope Paul III. 180
Clemency again dictated by Policy 181
Francis's Letter to the German Princes 182
Sturm and Voré beg Melanchthon to come 182
Melanchthon's Perplexity 183
He is formally invited by the King 184
Applies to the Elector for Permission to go 184
But is roughly refused 185
The Proposed Conference reprobated by the Sorbonne 187
Du Bellay at Smalcald 188
He makes for Francis a Protestant Confession 189
Efforts of French Protestants in Switzerland and Germany 191
Intercession of Strasbourg, Basle, etc. 191
Unsatisfactory Reply by Anne de Montmorency 193
Calvin and Geneva—More Systematic Persecution by the King 193
Changed Attitude of Francis 193
Occasioned by the "Placards" 194
Margaret of Navarre and Roussel 195
The French Reformation becomes a Popular Movement 196
Independence of Geneva secured by Francis 197
John Calvin's Childhood 198
He studies in Paris and Orleans 199
Change of Religious Views at Bourges 199
His Commentary on Seneca's "De Clementia" 200
Escapes from Paris to Angoulême 201
Leaves France 202
The "Christian Institutes" 202
Address to Francis the First 203
Calvin wins instant Celebrity 204
The Court of Renée of Ferrara 205
Her History and Character 206
Calvin's alleged Visit to Aosta 207
[Pg xix]He visits Geneva 208
Farel's Vehemence 209
Calvin consents to remain 210
His Code of Laws for Geneva 210
His View of the Functions of the State 210
Heretics to be constrained by the Sword 211
Calvin's View that of the other Reformers 212
And even of Protestant Martyrs 212
Calvin longs for Scholarly Quiet 213
His Mental Constitution 214
Ill-health and Prodigious Labors 214
Friendly and Inimical Estimates 214
Violent Persecutions throughout France 216
Royal Edict of Fontainebleau (June 1, 1540) 218
Increased Severity, and Appeal cut off 218
Exceptional Fairness of President Caillaud 219
Letters-Patent from Lyons (Aug. 30, 1542) 220
The King and the Sacramentarians 221
Ordinance of Paris (July 23, 1543) 221
Heresy to be punished as Sedition 222
Repression proves a Failure 222
The Sorbonne publishes Twenty-five Articles 223
Francis gives them the Force of Law (March 10, 1543) 224
More Systematic Persecution 224
The Inquisitor Mathieu Ory 224
The Nicodemites and Libertines 225
Margaret of Navarre at Bordeaux 226
Francis's Negotiations in Germany 227
Hypocritical Representations made by Charles, Duke of Orleans 228
Campaign against the Vaudois of Mérindol and Cabrières, and Last Days of Francis I. 230
The Vaudois of the Durance 230
Their Industry and Thrift 230
Embassy to German and Swiss Reformers 232
Translation of the Bible by Olivetanus 233
Preliminary Persecutions 234
The Parliament of Aix 235
The Atrocious "Arrêt de Mérindol" (Nov. 18, 1540) 236
Condemned by Public Opinion 237
Preparations to carry it into Effect 237
President Chassanée and the Mice of Autun 238
[Pg xx]The King instructs Du Bellay to investigate 239
A Favorable Report 240
Francis's Letter of Pardon 241
Parliament's Continued Severity 241
The Vaudois publish a Confession 242
Intercession of the Protestant Princes of Germany 242
The new President of Parliament 243
Sanguinary Royal Order, fraudulently obtained (Jan. 1, 1545) 244
Expedition stealthily organized 245
Villages burned—their Inhabitants murdered 246
Destruction of Mérindol 247
Treacherous Capture of Cabrières 248
Women burned and Men butchered 248
Twenty-two Towns and Villages destroyed 249
A subsequent Investigation 251
"The Fourteen of Meaux" 253
Wider Diffusion of the Reformed Doctrines 256
The Printer Jean Chapot before Parliament 256
Henry the Second and the Organization of the French Protestant Churches 258
Impartial Estimates of Francis the First 258
Henry, as Duke of Orleans 259
His Sluggish Mind 260
His Court 261
Diana of Poitiers 262
The King's Infatuation 262
Constable Anne de Montmorency 263
His Cruelty 264
Disgraced by Francis, but recalled by Henry 265
Duke Claude of Guise, and John, first Cardinal of Lorraine 266
Marriage of James the Fifth of Scotland to Mary of Lorraine 268
Francis the Dauphin affianced to Mary of Scots 268
Francis of Guise and Charles of Lorraine 268
Various Estimates of Cardinal Charles of Lorraine 270
Rapacity of the new Favorites 272
Servility toward Diana of Poitiers 273
Persecution to atone for Moral Blemishes 274
"La Chambre Ardente" 275
Edict of Fontainebleau against Books from Geneva (Dec. 11, 1547) 275
Deceptive Title-pages 275
The Tailor of the Rue St. Antoine 276
[Pg xxi]Other Victims of Intolerance 278
Severe Edicts and Quarrels with Rome 278
Edict of Châteaubriand (June 27, 1551) 279
The War against Books from Geneva 280
Marshal Vieilleville refuses to profit by Confiscation 282
The "Five Scholars of Lausanne" 283
Interpositions in their Behalf ineffectual 284
Activity of the Canton of Berne 286
Progress of the Reformation in Normandy 287
Attempt to establish the Spanish Inquisition 287
Opposition of Parliament 288
President Séguier's Speech 289
Coligny's Scheme of American Colonization 291
Villegagnon in Brazil 292
He brings Ruin on the Expedition 293
First Protestant Church in Paris 294
The Example followed in the Provinces 296
Henry the Second breaks the Truce 297
Fresh Attempts to introduce the Spanish Inquisition 298
Three Inquisitors-General 299
Judges sympathize with the Victims 300
Edict of Compiègne (July 24, 1557) 301
Defeat of St. Quentin (August 10, 1557) 302
Vengeance wreaked upon the Protestants 302
Affair of the Rue St. Jacques (Sept. 4, 1557) 303
Treatment of the Prisoners 304
Malicious Rumors 305
Trials and Executions 307
Intercession of the Swiss Cantons and Others 308
Constancy of Some and Release of Others 311
Controversial Pamphlets 311
Capture of Calais (January, 1558) 312
Registry of the Inquisition Edict 312
Antoine of Navarre, Condé, and other Princes favor the Protestants 313
Embassy of the Protestant Electors 313
Psalm-singing on the Pré aux Clercs 314
Conference of Cardinals Lorraine and Granvelle 315
D'Andelot's Examination before the King 317
His Constancy in Prison and temporary Weakness 318
Paul IV.'s Indignation at the King's Leniency 320
Anxiety for Peace 321
Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis (April 3, 1559) 322
Sacrifice of French Interests 323
Was there a Secret Treaty for the Extermination of Protestants? 324
The Prince of Orange learns the Designs of Henry and Philip 325
Danger of Geneva 320
Parliament suspected of Heretical Leanings 329
[Pg xxii]The "Mercuriale" 330
Henry goes in Person to hear the Deliberations (June 10, 1559) 332
Fearlessness of Du Bourg and Others 334
Henry orders their Arrest 335
First National Synod (May 26, 1559) 335
Ecclesiastical Discipline adopted 336
Marriages and Festivities of the Court 338
Henry mortally wounded in the Tournament (June 30, 1559) 339
His Death (July 10, 1559) 340

"La Façon de Genève"—the Protestant Service 341
Farel's "Manière et Fasson" (1533) 342
Calvin's Liturgy (1542) 343
July, 1559-May, 1560.
Francis the Second and the Tumult of Amboise 346
Epigrams on the Death of Henry 346
The Young King 347
Catharine de' Medici 348
Favors the Family of Guise 350
Who make themselves Masters of the King 351
Constable Montmorency retires 352
Antoine, King of Navarre 354
His Remissness and Pusillanimity 355
The Persecution continues 359
Denunciation and Pillage at Paris 360
The Protestants address Catharine 362
Pretended Orgies in "La Petite Genève" 365
Cruelty of the Populace 366
Traps for Heretics 367
Trial of Anne du Bourg 368
Intercession of the Elector Palatine 370
Du Bourg's Last Speech 371
His Execution and its Effect 372
Florimond de Ræmond's Observations 374
Revulsion against the Tyranny of the Guises 375
Calvin and Beza discountenance Armed Resistance 377
De la Renaudie 379
Assembly of Malcontents at Nantes 380
Plans well devised 381
Betrayed by Des Avenelles 382
The "Tumult of Amboise" 383
Coligny gives Catharine good Counsel 384
[Pg xxiii]The Edict of Amnesty (March, 1560) 385
A Year's Progress 386
Confusion at Court 387
Treacherous Capture of Castelnau 388
Death of La Renaudie 389
Plenary Commission given to the Duke of Guise 389
A Carnival of Blood 391
The Elder D'Aubigné and his Son 393
Francis and the Prince of Condé 393
Condé's Defiance 394

An alleged Admission of Disloyal Intentions by La Renaudie 394
May-December, 1560.
The Assembly of Notables at Fontainebleau, and the Close of the Reign of Francis the Second 397
Rise of the Name of the Huguenots 397
Their Sudden Growth 399
How to be accounted for 400
Progress of Letters 400
Marot's and Beza's Psalms 402
Morality and Martyrdom 402
Character of the Protestant Ministers 402
Testimony of Bishop Montluc 403
Preaching in the Churches of Valence 404
The Reformation and Morals 406
Francis orders Extermination 406
Large Congregations at Nismes 407
Mouvans in Provence 407
A Popular Awakening 408
Pamphlets against the Guises 409
Catharine consults the Huguenots 409
Edict of Romorantin (May, 1560) 410
No Abatement of Rigorous Persecution 411
Spiritual Jurisdiction differing little from the Inquisition 411
Chancellor Michel de l'Hospital 412
Continued Disquiet—Montbrun 414
Assembly of Notables at Fontainebleau (Aug. 21, 1560) 415
The Chancellor's Address 416
The Finances of France 416
Admiral Coligny presents the Petitions of the Huguenots 416
Bishop Montluc ably advocates Toleration 418
Bishop Marillac's Eloquent Speech 420
Coligny's Suggestions 421
[Pg xxiv]Passionate Rejoinder of the Duke of Guise 422
The Cardinal of Lorraine more calm 423
New Alarms of the Guises 424
The King of Navarre and Condé summoned to Court 425
Advice of Philip of Spain 426
Navarre's Irresolution embarrasses Montbrun and Mouvans 427
The "Fashion of Geneva" embraced by many in Languedoc 428
Elections for the States General 430
The King and Queen of Navarre 431
Beza at the Court of Nérac 432
New Pressure to induce Navarre and Condé to come 433
Navarre Refuses a Huguenot Escort 434
Disregards Warnings 435
Is refused Admission to Poitiers 435
Condé arrested on arriving at Orleans 436
Return of Renée de France 437
Condé's Intrepidity 437
He is Tried and Condemned to Death 439
Antoine of Navarre's Danger 440
Plan for annihilating the Huguenots 441
Sudden Illness and Death of Francis the Second 442

The "Epître au Tigre de la France" 445
December, 1560-September, 1561.
The Reign of Charles the Ninth, to the Preliminaries of the Colloquy of Poissy 449
Sudden Change in the Political Situation 449
The Enemy of the Huguenots buried as a Huguenot 450
Antoine of Navarre's Opportunity 451
Adroitness of Catharine de' Medici 452
Financial Embarrassments 453
Catharine's Neutrality 453
Opening of the States General of Orleans 454
Address of Chancellor L'Hospital 455
Cardinal Lorraine's Effrontery 457
De Rochefort, Orator for the Noblesse 457
L'Ange for the Tiers État 458
Arrogant Speech of Quintin for the Clergy 458
A Word for the poor, down-trodden People 459
Coligny presents a Huguenot Petition 461
The States prorogued 461
[Pg xxv]Meanwhile Prosecutions for Religion to cease 462
Return of Fugitives 463
Charles writes to stop Ministers from Geneva 463
Reply of the Genevese 464
Condé cleared and reconciled with Guise 465
Humiliation of Navarre 466
The Boldness of the Particular Estates of Paris 467
Secures Antoine more Consideration 467
Intrigue of Artus Désiré 468
General Curiosity to hear Huguenot Preaching 468
Constable Montmorency's Disgust 469
The "Triumvirate" formed 471
A Spurious Statement 471
Massacres of Protestants in Holy Week 474
The Affair at Beauvais 474
Assault on the House of M. de Longjumeau 476
New and Tolerant Royal Order 476
Opposition of the Parisian Parliament 477
Popular Cry for Pastors 479
Moderation of the Huguenot Ministers 479
Judicial Perplexity 481
The "Mercuriale" of 1561 481
The "Edict of July" 483
Its Severity creates extreme Disappointment 484
Iconoclasm at Montauban 485
Impatience with Public "Idols" 487
Calvin endeavors to repress it 487
Re-assembling of the States at Pontoise 488
Able Harangue of the "Vierg" of Autun 489
Written Demands of the Tiers État 490
A Representative Government demanded 492
The French Prelates at Poissy 493
Beza and Peter Martyr invited to France 494
Urgency of the Parisian Huguenots 496
Beza comes to St. Germain 497
His previous History 497
Wrangling of the Prelates 498
Cardinal Châtillon communes "under both Forms" 499
Catharine and L'Hospital zealous for a Settlement of Religious Questions 499
A Remarkable Letter to the Pope 500
Beza's flattering Reception 502
He meets the Cardinal of Lorraine 503
Petition of the Huguenots respecting the Colloquy 505
Informally granted 507
Last Efforts of the Sorbonne to prevent the Colloquy 508
September, 1561-January, 1562.
The Colloquy of Poissy and the Edict of January 509
The Huguenot Ministers and Delegates 509
Assembled Princes in the Nuns' Refectory 510
The Prelates 511
Diffidence of Theodore Beza 512
Opening Speech of Chancellor L'Hospital 512
The Huguenots summoned 513
Beza's Prayer and Address 514
His Declaration as to the Body of Christ 519
Outcry of the Theologians of the Sorbonne 519
Beza's Peroration 520
Cardinal Tournon would cut short the Conference 521
Catharine de' Medici is decided 522
Advantages gained 522
The Impression made by Beza 522
His Frankness justified 524
The Prelates' Notion of a Conference 526
Peter Martyr arrives 527
Cardinal Lorraine replies to Beza 528
Cardinal Tournon's new Demand 529
Advancing Shadows of Civil War 530
Another Session reluctantly conceded 531
Beza's Reply to Cardinal Lorraine 532
Claude d'Espense and Claude de Sainctes 532
Lorraine demands Subscription to the Augsburg Confession 533
Beza's Home Thrust 534
Peter Martyr and Lainez the Jesuit 536
Close of the Colloquy of Poissy 537
A Private Conference at St. Germain 538
A Discussion of Words 540
Catharine's Premature Delight 541
The Article agreed upon Rejected by the Prelates 541
Catharine's Financial Success 543
Order for the Restitution of Churches 544
Arrival of Five German Delegates 544
Why the Colloquy proved a Failure 546
Catharine's Crude Notion of a Conference 547
Character of the Prelates 547
Influence of the Papal Legate, the Cardinal of Ferrara 548
Anxiety of Pius the Fourth 548
The Nuncio Santa Croce 549
[Pg xxvii]Master Renard turned Monk 551
Opposition of People and Chancellor 551
The Legate's Intrigues 552
His Influence upon Antoine of Navarre 554
Contradictory Counsels 555
The Triumvirate leave in Disgust 556
Hopes entertained by the Huguenots respecting Charles 557
Beza is begged to remain 559
A Spanish Plot to kidnap the Duke of Orleans 559
The Number of Huguenot Churches 560
Beza secures a favorable Royal order 560
Rapid Growth of the Reformation 561
Immense Assemblages from far and near 562
The Huguenots at Montpellier 563
The Rein and not the Spur needed 565
Marriages and Baptisms at Court "after the Geneva Fashion" 565
Tanquerel's Seditious Declaration 566
Jean de Hans 567
Philip threatens Interference in French Affairs 567
"A True Defender of the Faith" 568
Roman Catholic Complaints of Huguenot Boldness 570
The "Tumult of Saint Médard" 571
Assembly of Notables at St. Germain 574
Diversity of Sentiments 575
The "Edict of January" 576
The Huguenots no longer Outlaws 577



[Pg 3]



Extent of France at the accession of Francis the First.

When, on the first day of the year 1515, the young Count of Angoulême succeeded to the throne left vacant by the death of his kinsman and father-in-law, Louis the Twelfth, the country of which he became monarch was already an extensive, flourishing, and well-consolidated kingdom. The territorial development of France was, it is true, far from complete. On the north, the whole province of Hainault belonged to the Spanish Netherlands, whose boundary line was less than one hundred miles distant from Paris. Alsace and Lorraine had not yet been wrested from the German Empire. The "Duchy" of Burgundy, seized by Louis the Eleventh immediately after the death of Charles the Bold, had, indeed, been incorporated into the French realm; but the "Free County" of Burgundy—la Franche Comté, as it was briefly designated—had been imprudently suffered to fall into other hands, and Besançon was the residence of a governor appointed by princes of the House of Hapsburg. Lyons was a frontier town; for the little districts of Bresse and Bugey, lying between the Saône and Rhône, belonged to the Dukes of Savoy. Further to the south, two fragments of foreign territory were completely enveloped by the domain of the French king.[Pg 4] The first was the sovereign principality of Orange, which, after having been for over a century in the possession of the noble House of Châlons, was shortly to pass into that of Nassau, and to furnish the title of William the Silent, the future deliverer of Holland. The other and larger one was the Comtât Venaissin, a fief directly dependent upon the Pope. Of irregular shape, and touching the Rhone both above and below Orange, the Comtât Venaissin nearly enclosed the diminutive principality in its folds. Its capital, Avignon, having forfeited the distinction enjoyed in the fourteenth century as the residence of the Roman Pontiffs, still boasted the presence of a Legate of the Papal See, a poor compensation for the loss of its past splendor. On the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, the Spanish dominions still extended north of the principal chain of the Pyrenees, and included the former County of Roussillon.

Territorial development.

But, although its area was somewhat smaller than that of the modern republic, France in the sixteenth century had nearly attained the general dimensions marked out for it by great natural boundaries. Four hundred years had been engrossed in the pursuit of territorial enlargement. At the close of the tenth century the Carlovingian dynasty, essentially foreign in tastes and language, was supplanted by a dynasty of native character and capable of gathering to its support all those elements of strength which had been misunderstood or neglected by the feeble descendants of Charlemagne. But it found the royal authority reduced to insignificance and treated with open contempt. By permitting those dignities which had once been conferred as a reward for pre-eminent personal merit to become hereditary in certain families, the crown had laid the foundation of the feudal system; while, by neglecting to enforce its sovereign claims, it had enabled the great feudatories to make themselves princes independent in reality, if not in name. So low had the consideration of the throne fallen, that when Hugh Capet, Count of Paris, in 987 assumed the title of king of France, basing his act partly on an election by nobles, partly on force of arms, the transaction elicited little opposition from the rival lords who might have been expected to resent his usurpation.[Pg 5]

Excessive subdivision in the tenth century.

France contained at this time six principal fiefs—four in the north and two in the south—each nearly or fully as powerful as the hereditary dominions of Hugh, while probably more than one excelled them in extent. These limited dominions, on the resources of which the new dynasty was wholly dependent in the struggle for supremacy, embraced the important cities of Paris and Orleans, but barely stretched from the Somme to the Loire, and were excluded from the ocean by the broad possessions of the dukes of Normandy on both sides of the lower Seine. The great fiefs had each in turn yielded to the same irresistible tendency to subdivision. The great feudatory was himself the superior of the tenants of several subordinate, yet considerable, fiefs. The possessors of these again ranked above the viscounts of cities and the provincial barons. A long series of gradations in dignity ended at the simple owners of castles, with their subject peasants or serfs. In no country of Europe had the feudal system borne a more abundant harvest of disintegration and consequent loss of power.[3]

Decline of the feudal system.

The reduction of the insubordinate nobles on the patrimonial estates of the crown was the first problem engaging the attention of the early Capetian kings. When this had at length been solved, with the assistance of the scanty forces lent by the cities—never amounting, it is said, to more than five hundred men-at-arms[4]—Louis the Fat, a prince of resplendent ability, early in the twelfth century addressed himself to the task of making good the royal title to supremacy over the neighboring provinces. Before death compelled him to forego the prosecution of his ambitious designs, the influence of the monarchy had been extended over eastern and central France—from Flanders, on the north, to the volcanic mountains of Auvergne, on the south. Meanwhile the oppressed subjects of the petty tyrants, whether within or around his domains, had learned to look for redress to the sovereign[Pg 6] lord who prided himself upon his ability and readiness to succor the defenceless. His grandson, the more illustrious Philip Augustus (1180-1223), by marriage, inheritance, and conquest added to previous acquisitions several extensive provinces, of which Normandy, Maine, and Poitou had been subject to English rule, while Vermandois and Yalois had enjoyed a form of approximate independence under collateral branches of the Capetian family.

The conquests of Louis the Fat and of Philip Augustus were consolidated by Louis the Ninth—Saint Louis, as succeeding generations were wont to style him—an upright monarch, who scrupled to accept new territory without remunerating the former owners, and even alienated the affection of provinces which he might with apparent justice have retained, by ceding them to the English, in the vain hope of cementing a lasting peace between the rival states.[5]

France the foremost kingdom of Christendom.

The same pursuit of territorial aggrandizement under successive kings extended the domain of the crown, in spite of disaster and temporary losses, until in the sixteenth century France was second to no other country in Europe for power and material resources. United under a single head, and no longer disturbed by the insubordination of the turbulent nobles, lately humbled by the craft of Louis the Eleventh, this kingdom awakened the warm admiration of political judges so shrewd as the diplomatic envoys of the Venetian Republic. "All these provinces," exclaimed one of these agents, in a report made to the Doge and Senate soon after his return, "are so well situated, so liberally provided with river-courses, harbors, and mountain ranges, that it may with safety be asserted that this realm is not only the most noble in Christendom, rivalling in antiquity our own most illus[Pg 7]trious commonwealth, but excels all other states in natural advantages and security."[6] Another of the same distinguished school of statesmen, taking a more deliberate survey of the country, gives utterance to the universal estimate of his age, when averring that France is to be regarded as the foremost kingdom of Christendom, whether viewed in respect to its dignity and power, or the rank of the prince who governs it.[7] In proof of the first of these claims he alleges the fact that, whereas England had once been, and Naples was at that moment dependent upon the Church, and Bohemia and Poland sustained similar relations to the Empire, France had always been a sovereign state. "It is also the oldest of European kingdoms, and the first that was converted to Christianity," remarks the same writer; adding, with a touch of patriotic pride, the proviso, "if we except the Pope, who is the universal head of religion, and the State of Venice, which, as it first sprang into existence a Christian commonwealth, has always continued such."[8]

France contrasted with England.

Other diplomatists took the same view of the power and resources of this favored country. "The kingdom of France," said Chancellor Bacon, in a speech against the policy of rendering open aid to Scotland, and thus becoming involved in a war with the French, "is four times as large as the realm of England, the men four times as many, and the revenue four times as much, and it has better credit. France is full of expert captains and old soldiers, and besides its own troops it may entertain as many Almains as it is able to hire."[9][Pg 8]

Assimilation of language and manners.

Meantime France was fast becoming more homogeneous than it had ever been since the fall of the Roman power. As often as the lines of the great feudal families became extinct, or these families were induced or compelled to renounce their pretensions, their fiefs were given in appanage to younger branches of the royal house, or were more closely united to the domains of the crown, and entrusted to governors of the king's appointment.[10] In either case the actual control of affairs was placed in the hands of officers whose highest ambition was to reproduce in the provincial capital the growing elegance of the great city on the Seine where the royal court had fixed its ordinary abode. The provinces, consequently, began to assimilate more and more to Paris, and this not merely in manners, but in forms of speech and even in pronunciation. The rude patois, since it grated upon the cultivated ear, was banished from polite society, and, if not consigned to oblivion, was relegated to the more ignorant and remoter districts. Learning held its seat in Paris, and the scholars who returned to their homes after a sojourn in its academic halls were careful to avoid creating doubts respecting the thoroughness of their training by the use of any dialect but that spoken in the neighborhood of the university. As the idiom of Paris asserted its supremacy over the rest of France, a new tie was constituted, binding together provinces diverse in origin and history.

The nobles flock to Paris.

The spirit of obedience pervading all classes of the population contributed much to the national strength. The great nobles had lost their excessive privileges. They no longer attempted, in the seclusion of their ancestral estates, to rival the magnificence or defy the authority of the king. They began to prefer the capital to the freer retreat of their[Pg 9] castles. During the reign of Francis the First, and still more during the reign of his immediate successors, costly palaces for the accommodation of princely and ducal families were reared in the neighborhood of the Louvre.[11] It was currently reported that more than one fortune had been squandered in the hazardous experiment of maintaining a pomp befitting the courtier. Ultimately the poorer grandees were driven to the adoption of the wise precaution of spending only a quarter of the year in the enticing but dangerous vicinity of the throne.[12]

The cities.

The cities, also, whose extensive privileges had constituted one of the most striking features of the political system of mediæval Europe, had been shorn of their exorbitant claims founded upon royal charters or prescriptive usage. The kings of France, in particular, had favored the growth of the municipalities, in order to secure their assistance in the reduction of refractory vassals. Flourishing trading communities had sprung up on the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea and of the ocean, and on the banks of the navigable rivers emptying into them. These corporations had secured a degree of independence proportioned, for the most part, to the weakness of their neighbors. The policy of the crown had been, while generously conferring privileges of great importance upon the cities lying within the royal domain, to make still more lavish concessions in favor of the municipalities upon or contiguous to the lands of the great feudatories.[13]

The capital.

No sooner, however, did the humiliation of the landed nobility render it superfluous to conciliate the good-will of the proud and opulent citizens, than the readiest means were sought for reducing them to the level of ordinary subjects. Paris especially, once almost a republic, had of late learned submission and docility.[14] By the change, however, the capital[Pg 10] had lost neither wealth nor inhabitants, being described as very rich and populous, covering a vast area, and wholly given up to trade.[15] In the absence of an accurate census, the number of its inhabitants was variously stated at from 300,000 souls to nearly thrice as many; but all accounts agreed in placing Paris among the foremost cities of the civilized world.[16]

Military resources.

With the military resources at his command, the king had the means of rendering himself formidable abroad and secure at home. The French cavalry, consisting of gentlemen whose duty and honorable distinction it was to follow the monarch in every expedition, still sustained the reputation for the impetuous ardor and the irresistible weight of its charges which it had won during the Middle Ages. If it had encountered unexpected rebuffs on the fields of Crécy, Poitiers and Agincourt, the chivalry of France had been too successful in other engagements to lose courage and enthusiasm. The nobles, both old and young, were still ready at any time to flock to their prince's standard when unfurled for an incursion into Naples or the Milanese. Never had they displayed more alacrity or self-sacrificing devotion than when young Francis the First set out upon his campaigns in Italy.[17] The[Pg 11] French infantry was less trustworthy. The troops raised in Normandy, Brittany, and Languedoc were reported to be but poorly trained to military exercises; but the foot-soldiers supplied by some of the frontier provinces were sturdy and efficient, and the gallant conduct of the Gascons at the disastrous battle of St. Quentin was the subject of universal admiration.[18]

Foreign mercenary troops.

What France lacked in cavalry was customarily supplied by the Reiters, whose services were easily purchased in Germany. The same country stood ready to furnish an abundance of Lansquenets (Lanzknechten), or pikemen, who, together with the Swiss, in a great measure replaced the native infantry. A Venetian envoy reported, in 1535, that the French king could, in six weeks at longest, set on foot a force of forty-eight thousand men, of whom twenty-one thousand, or nearly one-half, would be foreign mercenaries. His navy, besides his great ship of sixty guns lying in the harbor of Havre, numbered thirty galleys, and a few other vessels of no great importance.[19]

The rights of the people overlooked.
The States General an object of suspicion.

The power gained by the crown through the consolidation of the monarchy had been acquired at the expense of the popular liberties. In the prolonged struggle between the king, as lord paramount, and his insubordinate vassals, the rights of inferior subjects had received little consideration. From the strife the former issued triumphant, with an asserted claim to unlimited power. The voice of the masses was but feebly heard in the States General—a convocation of all three orders called at irregular intervals. Upon the ordinary policy of government, this, the only representative body, exercised no permanent control. If, in its occasional sessions, the deputies of the Tiers État exhibited a disposition to intermeddle in those political concerns which the crown claimed as its exclusive prerogative, the king and his advisers found in their audacity an additional motive for postponing as long as possible a resort to an expedient so disa[Pg 12]greeable as the assembling of the States General. Already had monarchs begun to look with suspicion upon the growing intelligence of untitled subjects, who might sooner or later come to demand a share in the public administration.

And rarely convoked.
A long break in the history of representative government.
Compensating advantages.

It was, therefore, only when the succession to the throne was contested, or when the perils attending the minority of the prince demanded the popular sanction of the choice of a regent, or when the flames of civil war seemed about to burst forth and involve the whole country in one general conflagration, that the royal consent could be obtained for convening the States General. During the first half of the sixteenth century the States General were not once summoned, unless the designation of States be accorded to one or two convocations partaking rather of the character of "Assemblies of Notables," and intended merely to assist in extricating the monarch from temporary embarrassment.[20] The repeated wars of Louis the Twelfth, of Francis the First, and of Henry the Second were waged without any reference of the questions of their expediency and of the mode of conducting them to the tribunal of popular opinion. Thousands of brave Frenchmen found bloody graves beyond the Alps; Francis the First fell into the hands of his enemies, and after a weary captivity with difficulty regained his freedom; a new faith arose in France, threatening to subvert existing ecclesiastical institutions; yet in the midst of all this bloodshed, confusion and perplexity the people were left unconsulted.[21] From the accession of Charles[Pg 13] the Eighth, in 1483, to that of Charles the Ninth, in 1560, the history of representative government in France is almost a complete blank. So long was the period during which the States General were suspended, that, when at length it was deemed advisable to convene them again, the chancellor, in his opening address, felt compelled to enter into explanations respecting the nature and functions of a body which perhaps not a man living remembered to have seen in session.[22] Yet, while the desuetude into which had fallen the laudable custom of holding the States every year, or, at least, on occasion of any important matter for deliberation, might properly be traced to the flood of ambition and pride which had inundated the world, and to the inordinate covetousness of kings,[23] there were not wanting considerations to mitigate the disappointment of the people. Chief among them, doubtless, in the view of shrewd observers, was the fact that the assembling of the States was the invariable prelude to an increase of taxation, and that never had they met without benefiting the king's exchequer at the expense of the purses of his subjects.[24]

The endurance of the Tiers État.
Absolutism of the crown.

Meanwhile the nation bore with exemplary patience the accumulated burdens under which it staggered. Natives and foreigners alike were lost in admiration of its wonderful pow[Pg 14]ers of endurance. No one suspected that a terrible retribution for this same people's wrongs might one day overtake the successor of a long line of kings, each of whom had added his portion to the crushing load. The Emperor Maximilian was accustomed to divert himself at the expense of the French people. "The king of France," said he, "is a king of asses; there is no weight that can be laid upon his subjects which they will not bear without a murmur."[25] The warrior and historian Rabutin congratulated the monarchs of France upon God's having given them, in obedience, the best and most faithful people in the whole world.[26] The Venetian, Matteo Dandolo, declared to the Doge and Senate that the king might with propriety regard as his own all the money in France, for, such was the incomparable kindness of the people, that whatever he might ask for in his need was very gladly brought to him.[27] It was not strange, perhaps, that the ruler of subjects so exemplary in their eagerness to replenish his treasury as soon as it gave evidence of being exhausted, came to take about the same view of the matter. Accordingly, it is related of Francis the First that, being asked by his guest, Charles the Fifth, when the latter was crossing France on his way to suppress the insurrection of Ghent, what revenue he derived from certain cities he had passed through, the king promptly, replied: "Ce que je veux"—"What I please."[28][Pg 15]

Fruits of the abasement of the people.

Yet it must be noted, in passing, that the studied abasement of the Tiers État had already begun to bear some fruit that should have alarmed every patriotic heart. It was, as we have seen, impossible to obtain good French infantry except from Gascony and some other border provinces. The place that should have been held by natives was filled by Germans and Swiss. What was the reason? Simply that the common people had lost the consciousness of their manhood, in consequence of the degraded position into which the king, and the privileged classes, imitating his example, had forced them. "Because of their desire to rule the people with a rod of iron," says Dandolo, "the gentry of the kingdom have deprived them of arms. They dare not even carry a stick, and are more submissive to their superiors than dogs!"[29] No wonder that all efforts of Francis to imitate the armies of free states, by instituting legions of arquebusiers, proved fruitless.[30] Add to this that trade was held in supreme contempt,[31] and the picture is certainly sufficiently dark.

Checks upon the king's authority.

Yet, while, through the absence of any effectual barrier to the exercise of his good pleasure, the king's authority was ultimately unrestricted, it must be confessed that there existed, in point of fact, some powerful checks, rendering the abuse of the royal prerogative, for the most part, neither easy nor expedient. Parliament, the municipal corporations, the university, and the clergy, weak as they often proved in a direct struggle with the crown, nevertheless exerted an influence that ought not to be overlooked. The most headstrong prince hesitated to disregard the remonstrances of any one of these bodies, and their united protest sometimes led to the abandonment of schemes of great promise for the royal treasury. It is true that parliament, university, and char[Pg 16]tered borough owed their existence and privileges to the royal will, and that the power that created could also destroy. But time had invested with a species of sanctity the venerable institutions established by monarchs long since dead, and the utmost stretch of royal displeasure went not in its manifestation further than the mere threat to strip parliament or university of its privileges, or, at most, the arrest and temporary imprisonment of the more obnoxious judges or scholars.

The Parliament of Paris

The Parliament of Paris was the legitimate successor of that assembly in which, in the earlier stage of the national existence, the great vassals came together to render homage to the lord paramount and aid him by their deliberations. This feudal parliament was transformed into a judicial parliament toward the end of the thirteenth century. With the change of functions, the chief crown officers were admitted to seats in the court. Next, the introduction of a written procedure, and the establishment of a more complicated legislation, compelled the illiterate barons and the prelates to call in the assistance of graduates of the university, acquainted with the art of writing and skilled in law. These were appointed by the king to the office of counsellors.[32] In 1302, parliament, hitherto migratory, following the king in his journeys, was made stationary at Paris. Its sessions were fixed at two in each year, held at Easter and All Saints respectively. The judicial body was subdivided into several "chambers," according to the nature of the cases upon which it was called to act.

Becomes the supreme court.

From this time the Parliament of Paris assumed appellate jurisdiction over all France, and became the supreme court of justice. But the burden of prolonged sessions, and the necessity now imposed upon the members of residing at least four months out of every year in the capital, proved an irksome restraint both to prelates and to noblemen. Their attendance, therefore, began now to be less constant. As early as in 1320 the bishops and other ecclesiastical officers were excused, on the ground that their duty to their dioceses and sacred functions demanded their presence elsewhere. From[Pg 17] the general exemption the Bishop of Paris and the Abbot of St. Denis alone were excluded, on account of their proximity to the seat of the court. About the beginning of the fifteenth century, the members, taking advantage of the weak reign of Charles the Sixth, made good their claim to a life-tenure in their offices.[33]

Provincial parliaments.

The rapid increase of cases claiming the attention of the Parliament of Paris suggested the erection of similar tribunals in the chief cities of the provinces added to the original estates of the crown. Before the accession of Francis the First a provincial parliament had been instituted at Toulouse, with jurisdiction over the extensive domain once subject to the illustrious counts of that city; a second, at Grenoble, for Dauphiny; a third, at Bordeaux, for the province of Guyenne recovered from the English; a fourth, at Dijon, for the newly acquired Duchy of Burgundy; a fifth, at Rouen, to take the place of the inferior "exchequer" which had long had its seat there; and a sixth, at Aix-en-Provence, for the southeast of France.[34]

Claim to the right of remonstrance.

To their judicial functions, the Parliament of Paris, and to a minor degree the provincial parliaments, had insensibly added other functions purely political. In order to secure publicity for their edicts, and equally with the view of establishing the authenticity of documents purporting to emanate from the crown, the kings of France had early desired the insertion of all important decrees in the parliamentary records. The registry was made on each occasion by express order of the judges, but with no idea on their part that this form was essential to the validity of a royal ordinance. Presently, however, the novel theory was advanced that parliament had the right of refusing to record an obnoxious law, and that, without the formal recognition of parliament, no edict[Pg 18] could be allowed to affect the decisions of the supreme or of any inferior tribunal.

Indulgence of the crown.
The Chancellor's oath.

In the exercise or this assumed prerogative, the judges undertook to send a remonstrance to the king, setting forth the pernicious consequences that might be expected to flow from the proposed measure if put into execution. However unfounded in history, the claim of the Parliament of Paris appears to have been viewed with indulgence by monarchs most of whom were not indisposed to defer to the legal knowledge of the counsellors, nor unwilling to enhance the consideration of the venerable and ancient body to which the latter belonged. In all cases, however, the final responsibility devolved upon the sovereign. Whenever the arguments and advice of parliament failed to convince him, the king proceeded in person to the audience-chamber of the refractory court, and there, holding a lit-de-justice, insisted upon the immediate registration, or else sent his express command by one of his most trusty servants. The judges, in either case, were forced to succumb—often, it must be admitted, with a very bad grace—and admit the law to their records. We shall soon have occasion to note one of the most striking instances of this unequal contest between king and parliament, in which power rather than right or learning won the day. In spite, however, of occasional checks, parliament manfully and successfully maintained its right to throw obstacles in the way of hasty or inconsiderate legislation. In this it was often efficiently assisted by the Chancellor of France, the highest judicial officer of the crown, to whom, on his assuming office, an oath was administered containing a very explicit promise to exercise the right of remonstrance with the king before affixing the great seal of state to any unjust or unreasonable royal ordinance.[35][Pg 19]

Abuses in the administration of justice.

Not that either the Parliament of Paris or the provincial parliaments were free of grave defects deserving the severe animadversion of impartial observers. It was probably no worse with the Parliament of Bordeaux than with its sister courts;[36] yet, when Charles the Ninth visited that city in 1564, honest Chancellor L'Hospital seized the opportunity to tell the judges some of their failings. The royal ordinances were not observed. Parliamentary decisions ranked above commands of the king. There were divisions and violence. In the civil war some judges had made themselves captains. Many of them were avaricious, timid, lazy and inattentive to their duties. Their behavior and their dress were "dissolute." They had become negligent in judging, and had thrown the burden of prosecuting offences upon the shoulders of the king's attorney, originally appointed merely to look after the royal domain. They had become the servants of the nobility for hire. There was not a lord within the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Bordeaux but had his own chancellor in the court to look after his interests.[37] It was sufficiently characteristic that the same judicial body of which such things were said to its face (and which neither denied their truth nor grew indignant), should have been so solicitous for its dignity as to send the monarch, upon his approach to the city, an earnest petition that its members should not be constrained to kneel when his Majesty entered their court-room! To which the latter dryly responded, "their genuflexion would not make him any less a king than he already was."[38][Pg 20]

The University of Paris.

Among the forces that tended to limit the arbitrary exercise of the royal authority, the influence of the University of Paris is entitled to a prominent place. Nothing had added more lustre to the rising glory of the capital than the possession of the magnificent institution of learning, the foundation of which was lost in the mist of remote antiquity. Older than the race of kings who had for centuries held the French sceptre, the university owed its origin, if we are to believe the testimony of its own annals, to the munificent hand of Charlemagne, in the beginning of the ninth century. Careful historical criticism must hesitate to accept as conclusive the slender proof offered in support of the story.[39] It is, perhaps, safer to regard one of the simple schools instituted at an early period in connection with cathedrals and monasteries as having contained the humble germ from which the proud university was slowly developed. But, by the side of this original foundation there had doubtless grown up the schools of private instructors, and these had acquired a certain prominence before the confluence of scholars to Paris from all quarters rendered necessary an attempt to introduce order into the complicated system, by the formation of that union of all the teachers and scholars to which the name of universitas was ultimately given.

If the origin of the University of Paris, like that of the greater number of human institutions, was insignificant when viewed in the light of its subsequent growth, the meagreness of the early course of instruction was almost incredible to those who, in an age of richer mental acquisitions, listened to the prelections of its numerous and learned doctors. The Trivium and the Quadrivium constituted the whole cycle of human knowledge. Grammar, logic, and rhetoric were embraced in the one; music, arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy in the other. He was indeed a prodigy of erudition whose compre[Pg 21]hensive intellect had mastered the details of these, the seven liberal arts, or, to use a familiar line of the period,

Qui tria, qui septem, qui omne scibile novit.

But the ignorant pedagogues of the eleventh century gave place, in the early part of the twelfth, to instructors of real merit—to Peter Abelard, among others, and to his pupil Peter Lombard, the fame of whose lectures attracted to Paris great crowds of youth eager to become proficient in philosophy and

The four nations.

Hitherto there had been but one faculty—the Faculty of Arts; but among the students a distribution into four "nations" had been effected. The Nation of France embraced the students coming from the royal dominions, which then comprised a limited territory, with Paris as its capital, together with the students of Italy, Spain, and the east. The Nation of Picardy consisted of students from the province of that name and from the neighboring County of Flanders. The Nation of Normandy received youths belonging to the rich provinces of Normandy and Brittany, and to the west. The Nation of England gathered those who came from the British Isles, as well as from the extensive territories in southwestern France long held by the kings of England. After the reconquest of Guyenne, however, the German students became the controlling element in the fourth nation, and the designation was changed to the Nation of Germany. The Rector of the university and the four Procurators of the nations were entrusted with the administration of the general interests of the vast scholastic community.

The faculties.
Chancellor and rector.

With the rise of new branches of science to contest the supremacy of the old, the institution of other faculties was called for. The demand was not conceded without a determined struggle of so serious a character as to require the intervention of two popes for its settlement. Nevertheless, before the end of the thirteenth century, the three new faculties of theology, medicine, and law had assumed their places by the side of the four original nations. The faculties were represented in the rector's council by three Deans,[Pg 22] invested with power equal to that enjoyed by the procurators of the nations. While the rector, always chosen from the faculty of arts, was the real head of this republic of letters in all that concerned its inner life and management, the honorable privilege of conferring the degrees that gave the right to teach belonged to the chancellor of the university.[40] The former, elected every three months, began and ended his office with solemn processions, the first to invoke the blessing of heaven upon his labors, the second to render thanks for their successful termination. The chancellor, holding office for life, was an ecclesiastic of the church of Paris, originally the bishop or some one appointed by him, who, if he enjoyed less direct control over the scholars in their studies, was yet the chief censor of their morals,[41] and the representative of the university in its dealings with foreign bodies, and especially with the Roman See.[42]

The Sorbonne.

No other mediæval seat of learning attained so enviable a reputation as Paris for completeness of theological training. From all parts of Christendom students resorted to it as to the most abundant and the purest fountain of sound learning. In 1250, Robert de Sorbonne, the private confessor of Louis the Ninth, emulating the munificence of previous patrons of letters, founded a college intended to facilitate the education of secular students of theology. The college took[Pg 23] the name of its author, and, becoming famous for the ability of its instructors, the Sorbonne soon engrossed within its walls almost the entire course of theological teaching given in the University of Paris. Although the students in the colleges of Navarre and Plessis devoted themselves to the acquisition of the same science, they had little public instruction save that for which they resorted to the Sorbonne. By reason of the prominence thus gained as the seat of the principal instruction in theology, the Sorbonne became synonymous with the theological faculty itself.[43]

Its great authority.

A body of theologians of admitted eminence necessarily spoke with authority. In France the decisions of the Sorbonne were accepted as final upon almost all questions affecting the doctrine and practice of the Church. Abroad its opinions were esteemed of little less weight than the deliberate judgments of synods. Difficulties in church and state were referred to it for solution. In the age of the reformation the Sorbonne was invited to pronounce upon the truth or falsity of the propositions maintained by Martin Luther, and, a few years later, upon the validity of the grounds of the divorce sought by Henry the Eighth of England. But, unhappily, the reputation of the faculty was tarnished by scholastic bigotry. Slavish attachment to the past had destroyed freedom of thought. With a species of inconsistency not altogether without a parallel in history, the very body which had been active in the promotion of science during the Middle Ages assumed the posture of resistance the moment that the advocates of substantial reform urged the necessity of immediate action. Abuses which had provoked the indignation of Gerson, once Chancellor of the University of Paris, and employed the skilful pen of the bold Rector Nicholas de Clemangis, met with no word of condemnation from the new generation of theologians.

Such was the Sorbonne of the beginning of the sixteenth century, when intriguing doctors, such as Beda and Quercu, ruled in its deliberations. An enemy of liberal studies as well[Pg 24] as of the "new doctrines," the faculty of theology was as ready to attack Erasmus for his devotion to ancient literature, or Jacques Lefèvre for establishing the existence of the "three Marys," as to denounce the Bishop of Meaux for favoring "Lutheran" preachers in his diocese. Against all innovators in church or state, the sentiments of the Sorbonne, which it took no pains to conceal, were that "their impious and shameless arrogance must be restrained by chains, by censures—nay, by fire and flame—rather than vanquished by argument!"[44]

Number of students.

Meanwhile, in the external marks of prosperity the University of Paris was still in its prime at the period of which I speak. The colleges, clustered together in the southern quarter of the city—the present Quartier Latin—were so numerous and populous that this portion continued for many years after to be distinguished as l' Université.[45] The number of students, it is true, had visibly diminished since one hundred years before. The crowd of youth in attendance was no longer so great as in 1409, when, according to a contemporary, the head of a scholastic procession to the Church of Saint Denis had already reached the sacred shrine before the rector had left the Church of the Mathurins in the Rue Saint Jacques, a point full six miles distant.[46] Yet the report of Giustiniano, in 1535, stated it as the current belief that the university still had twenty-five thousand students in attendance, although this seemed to be an exaggerated estimate. "For the most part," he added, "they are young, for everybody, however poor he may be, learns to read and write."[47] Another ambassador, writing eleven years later, represents the students, now numbering sixteen or twenty thousand, as extremely poor. Their instructors, he tells us, received very modest salaries;[Pg 25] yet, so great was the honor attaching to the post of teacher within the university walls, that the competition for professorial chairs was marvellously active.[48]

The influence of the clergy fell little short of that of the university in moderating the arbitrary impulses of the monarch.

The Gallican liberties.

The Gallican Church had for many centuries been distinguished for a manly defence of its liberties against the encroachments of the Papal court. Tenacious of the maintenance of doctrinal unity with the See of Rome, the French prelates early met the growing assumption of the Popes with determined courage. At the suggestion of the clergy, and with their full concurrence, more than one French king adopted stringent regulations intended to protect the kingdom from becoming the prey of foreigners. Church and State were equally interested in the successful prosecution of a warfare carried on, so far as the French were concerned, in a strictly defensive manner. The Papal treasury, under guise of annats, laid claim to the entire income of the bishopric or other benefice for the first year after each new appointment. It seized upon the revenues of vacant ecclesiastical offices, which the king specially affected. Every bull or brief needed to secure induction into office—and the number of these articles was almost unlimited—was procured at a heavy expense. Further sums were exacted for pronouncing a dispensation in favor of those appointees whom youth or some other canonical impediment incapacitated for the acceptance and discharge of the requisite functions.

Objects of the Gallican party.

The main objects of both crown and clergy were, consequently, to secure the kingdom from the disastrous results of the interference of Italians in the domestic affairs of France; to preserve the treasure of the realm from exhaustion resulting from the levy of arbitrary imposts fixed by irresponsible aliens, and exacted through the terrors of ecclesiastical penalties; to prevent the right of election to lucrative livings from falling into the hands of those who would use the privilege only as a means of acquiring[Pg 26] riches; and to rescue clergymen themselves from being hurried away for trial beyond the confines of their native land, and possibly from suffering hopeless confinement in Roman dungeons. In a word, it was the aim of the Gallican party to prove that "the government of the church is not a despotism."[49]

Pragmatic Sanction of St. Louis.

It is a somewhat anomalous circumstance that the first decided step in repressing the arrogant claims of the Papal See was taken by a monarch whose singular merits have been deemed worthy of canonization by the Roman Church. Louis the Ninth had witnessed with alarm the rapid strides of the Papacy toward universal dominion. His pride was offended by the pretension of the Pontiff to absolute superiority; his sovereign rights were assailed when taxes were levied in France at the pleasure of a foreign priest and prince. He foresaw that this abuse was likely to take deep root unless promptly met by a formal declaration placing the rights of the French monarch and nation in their true light. For this reason he issued in 1268 a solemn edict, which, as emanating from the unconstrained will of the king, took the name of the "Pragmatic Sanction of Saint Louis."

The preamble of this famous ordinance, upon the authenticity of which doubts have been unnecessarily cast,[50] declares the object of the king to be to secure the safety and tranquillity of the church of his realm, the advancement of divine worship, the salvation of the souls of Christ's faithful people, and the attainment of the favor and help of Almighty God. To his sole jurisdiction and protection had France ever been subject, and so did Louis desire it to remain. The provisions of the Pragmatic Sanction were directed chiefly to guarding the freedom of election and of collation to benefices, and to prohibiting the imposition of any form of taxes by the Pope upon ecclesias[Pg 27]tical property in France, save by previous consent of the prince and clergy.[51]

In this brief document had been laid the foundation of the liberties of the Gallican Church, not under the form of novel legislation, but of a summary of previous usage.

Philip the Fair and Boniface.

Political reasons, not long after the death of Louis, gave new vigor to the policy of opposition to which this king had pledged France. His grandson, the resolute Philip the Fair, found fresh incitement in the extravagant conduct of a contemporary Pope, Boniface the Eighth. The bold ideas advanced by Hildebrand in the eleventh, and carried into execution by Innocent the Third in the thirteenth century, were wrought into the very texture of the soul of Boniface, and could not be concealed, in spite of the altered condition of mediæval society. Intolerant, headstrong, and despotic, he undertook to exercise a theocratic rule, and commanded contending monarchs to lay down their arms, and submit their disputes to his arbitrament. To such a summons Philip was not inclined to submit. The crafty and unscrupulous prince, whose contempt for divine law was evidenced by his shameless practice of injustice, whose coffers were filled indifferently by the confiscation of the rich spoils of the commanderies of the Templars, and by recklessly debasing the national currency, did not hesitate to engage in a contest with the most presumptuous of Popes. He appealed to the States General, and all three orders indignantly repudiated the suggestion that their country had ever stood to the Papacy in the relation of a fief. The disastrous example of the English John Lackland had found no imitator on the southern side of the channel. The Pope was[Pg 28] declared a heretic. Emissaries of Louis seized him in his native city of Anagni, within the very bounds of the "Patrimony of St. Peter," and the rough usage to which he was then subjected hastened his death. His successors on the pontifical throne proved somewhat more tractable.

The Popes at Avignon.

During his short and unimportant pontificate, Benedict the Eleventh restored to the chapters of cathedrals the right of electing their own bishops. Upon his death, Philip secured the elevation to the pontifical dignity of an ecclesiastic wholly devoted to French interests, the facile Clement the Fifth, who, in return for the honor conferred upon him, removed the seat of the Papacy to Avignon. Here for the seventy years of the so-called "Babylonish Captivity," the Popes continued to reside, too completely subject to the influence of the French monarchs to dream of resuming their tone of defiance, but scarcely less exacting than before of homage from other rulers. In fact, the burden of the pecuniary exactions of the Popes rather grew than diminished with the change from Rome to Avignon, and with the institution of rival claimants to the tiara, each requiring an equal sum to support the pomp of his court, but recognized as legitimate by only a portion of Christendom. The devices for drawing tribute from all quarters were multiplied to an almost insupportable extent. So effectual did they prove, that no pontiff, perhaps, ever left at his death a more enormous accumulation of treasure than one of the Popes of Avignon, John the Twenty-second. Much of this wealth was derived from the rich provinces of France.

The Schism.

Close upon the "Captivity" followed the "Schism," during which the generally acknowledged Popes, who had returned to Rome, were opposed by pretenders at Avignon and elsewhere. A double incentive was now given to the monarchs of Europe for setting bounds to the ambition of the Papacy. For while the Popes, through the loss of a great part of their authority and prestige, had become less formidable antagonists, their financial extortions had waxed so intolerable as to suggest the strongest arguments appealing to the self-interest of kings. Hence the frequency with which the demand[Pg 29] for "a reformation in the head and the members" resounded from all parts of the Western Church. And hence, too, those memorable councils of Pisa, Constance, and Basle, which, coming in rapid succession at the commencement of the fifteenth century, bade fair to prove the forerunners of a radical reformation. It does not belong here to discuss the causes of their failure to answer this reasonable expectation. Yet with one of these assemblages is closely connected a very important incident in the history of the Gallican Church.

The Council of Bourges.

The Council of Basle had not yet concluded its protracted sessions when Charles the Seventh summoned the clergy of France to meet him in the city of Bourges. The times were troublous. The kingdom was rent with intestine division. A war was still raging, during the progress of which the victorious arms of the English had driven the king from his capital and deprived him of more than one-half of his dominions. The work of reinstating the royal authority, though well begun by the wonderful interposition of the Maid of Orleans, was as yet by no means complete. Undaunted, however, by the unsettled aspect of his affairs, Charles—the "King of Bourges," as he was contemptuously styled by his opponents—made his appearance in the national council convened in his temporary capital. He was attended by the dauphin, the Dukes of Burgundy and Brittany, the Count of Maine, and many other noblemen, as well as by a goodly train of doctors of civil and canon law. Awaiting his arrival were five archbishops, twenty-five bishops, and a host of abbots and deputies of universities and chapters of cathedrals. In the presence of this august convocation, in which all that was most prominent in church and state was represented, Charles published, on the seventh of July, 1438, an ordinance which has become celebrated under the name of the "Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges"—by far the more important of the two documents of similar nature emanating from the French throne.[52]

The Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges.

The Pragmatic Sanction, as it is often called by way of pre-eminence, is the magna charta of the liberties of the Gallican[Pg 30] Church. Founded upon the results of the discussions of the Council of Basle, it probably embodies all the reformatory measures which the hierarchy of France was desirous of effecting or willing to accept. How far these were from administering the needed antidote to the poison which was at work and threatened to destroy all true religious life—if, indeed, that life was not already too near extinction—may readily be understood when it is discovered that, with the exception of a few paragraphs relating to ecclesiastical discipline and worship, the following comprise all the important provisions:

The Pragmatic Sanction establishes the obligation of the Pope to convene a general council of the church at least every ten years. The decisions of the Council of Basle are declared to be of perpetual force. Far from deriving its authority from the Holy See, the Œcumenical Council, it is affirmed, depends immediately upon Christ, and the Pope is no less bound than all other Christians to render due obedience to its decisions. The right of appeal from the Pope to the future council—a claim obnoxious in the last degree to the advocates of papal supremacy—is distinctly asserted. The Pope is declared incapable of appointing to any high ecclesiastical dignities, save in a few specified cases; in all others recourse is to be had to election. The pontiff's pretensions to confer minor benefices are equally rejected. No abuse is more sharply rebuked and forbidden than that of expectatives—a species of appointment in high favor with the papal chancery, whereby a successor to ecclesiastical dignities was nominated during the lifetime of the incumbent, and in view of his decease.

The Pragmatic Sanction restricts the troublesome and costly appeals to Rome to cases of great importance, when the parties in interest reside at a distance of more than four days' journey from that city. At the same time it prescribes that no one shall be vexed by such appeals after having enjoyed actual possession of his rank for three years. Going beyond the limits of the kingdom, it enters into the constitution of the "Sacred College," and fixes the number of the cardinals at twenty-four, while placing the minimum age of candidates for the hat at[Pg 31] thirty years. The exaction of the annats is stigmatized as simony. Priests living in concubinage are to be punished by the forfeiture of one-fourth of their annual stipend. Finally the principle is sanctioned that no interdict can be made to include in its operation the innocent with the guilty.[53]

So thorough a vindication of the rights of the Gallican Church had never before been undertaken. The axe was laid at the root of formidable abuses; freedom of election was restored; the kingdom was relieved of a crushing burden of tribute; foreigners were precluded from interfering with the systematic administration of the laws. The clergy, both regular and secular, received the greatest benefits, for, while they could no longer be plundered of so large a part of their incomes, their persons were protected from arbitrary arrest and hopeless exile beyond the Alps.

The council had not adjourned when the tidings of the transactions at Bourges reached the city of Basle. The members were overjoyed, and testified their approval in a grateful letter to the Archbishop of Lyons. But their exultation was more than equalled by the disgust of Pope Eugenius the Third. Indeed, the pontificates of this pope and his immediate successors were filled with fruitless attempts to effect the repeal of the Pragmatic Sanction. A threat was made to place France under an interdict; but this was of no avail, being answered by the counter-threat of the king's representative, who proposed to make a practical application of the instrument, by appealing from his Holiness to a future general council. So the Pope, having a vivid recollection of the perils attending a contest with the French crown, wisely avoided the hazardous venture.[54][Pg 32]

Louis XI. consents to its abrogation.

In Louis the Eleventh the papal court seemed to have found a more promising prince to deal with. Animated by hatred of his father, and disposed to oppose whatever had met his father's approval, Louis had, while yet dauphin, given the Pope's agents flattering assurances of his good intentions.[55] On ascending the throne, he permitted his father's memory to be treated with disrespect, by suffering a nuncio to pronounce absolution over the corpse for the heinous sin of originating the Pragmatic Sanction. Later, on receiving the assurance of the Pope's support for the house of Anjou in Naples, he consented to repeal the hateful ordinance. A royal declaration for this purpose was published in 1461, contrary to the advice of the king's council.[56] It met with universal reprobation. The Parliament of Toulouse would register the document only with an accompanying note stating that this had been done "by the most express command of the king." The Parliament of Paris absolutely declined to admit it in its records, and sent a deputation to Louis to set forth the pernicious results that were to be expected from the overthrow of his father's wise regula[Pg 33]tions.[57] The University made bold to appeal to a general council of the Church.

But subsequently re-enacts it.

Meanwhile it happened that Louis made the unwelcome discovery that his Italian friends had deceived him, and that the prospect was very remote of obtaining the advantages by which he had been allured. It was not very difficult, therefore, to persuade him to renounce his project. Not content with this, three years after his formal revocation of the entire Pragmatic Sanction, he even re-enacted some of the clauses of the document respecting "expectatives" and "provisions."

Parliament protests against the repeal.

But a few years later, in 1467, Louis again conceived it to be for his interest to abrogate the Pragmatic Sanction. At the suggestion of Cardinal Balue, the recent enactment against "expectatives" was repealed. The Parliament of Paris, however, refused to record the letters patent. Among other powerful arguments adduced was the fact that a recent investigation had proved that, in the three years of the pontificate of Pius the Second during which the Pragmatic Sanction had been virtually set aside (1461-1464), Rome drew from the kingdom not less than 240,000 crowns in payment of bulls for archbishoprics, bishoprics, and abbeys falling vacant within this term; 100,000 for priories and deaneries; and the enormous sum of 2,500,000 crowns for "expectatives" and "dispensations."[58] This startling financial exhibit was accompanied by statements of the indirect injury received by the community from the great number of candidates thrown on the tender mercies of relations and friends, whom they thus beggared while awaiting a long deferred preferment.[59] Even when successful, "they received only lead for gold." Frequently, when they were about to clutch the coveted[Pg 34] prize, a rival stepped in armed with documents annulling those previously given. Cases had, indeed, been known in which ten or twelve contestants presented themselves, all basing their claims upon the pontifical warrant.[60]

Fall of Cardinal Balue.

Cardinal Balue was not slow in finding means to remove from office the intrepid Procureur-général, who had been prominent in urging parliament to resist the measure of repeal. But Saint-Romain's bold stand had confirmed both parliament and university, and neither body would acquiesce in the papal demands. Louis, however, was reconciled to a second abandonment of the scheme by the opportune discovery of the cardinal's treachery. The unhappy prelate met with deserved retribution, for his purple did not save him from enduring his own favorite mode of punishment, and being shut up in a great iron cage. The new Perillus was thus enabled—to the intense satisfaction of many whom he had wronged—to test in his own person the merits of a contrivance which he was reputed himself to have invented.[61]

A concordat subsequently agreed upon by Louis and the Pope fared no better than the previous compacts. Parliament and university were resolute, and the king, having no further advantage to gain by keeping his word, was as careless in its fulfilment as was his wont. The Pragmatic Sanction was still observed as the law of the land. The highest civil courts, ignoring the alleged repeal, conformed their decisions to its letter and spirit, while the theologians of the Sorbonne taught it as the foundation of the ecclesiastical constitution of France. Yet, public confidence in its validity having been shaken, it was desirable to set all doubts at rest by a formal re-enactment. This was proposed by the Dean of St. Martin of Tours, in the[Pg 35] States General held during the minority of Charles the Eighth; but, notwithstanding the well-known opinion of all the orders, this reign passed without the adoption of any decided action.

Action of Louis XII.
His motto.

It was reserved for Louis the Twelfth to take the desired step. In 1499 he published the Pragmatic Sanction anew, and ordered the exclusion from office of all that had obtained benefices from Rome. In vain did the Pope rave. In vain did he summon all upholders of the ordinance to appear before the Fifth Lateran Council. The sturdy prince—the "Father of his people"—who had chosen for his motto the device, "Perdam Babylonis nomen," made little account of the menaces of Julius the Second, whom death overtook, it is said, while about to fulminate a bull transferring the title of "Very Christian King" from Louis the Twelfth of France to Henry the Eighth of England.[62]

Concordat of Leo X. and Francis I.

Thirsting for military distinction, Francis the First had no sooner obtained the throne than he entered upon the career of arms in northern Italy, and the signal victory of Marignano, won less than ten months after his accession (September 13, 1515), closed his first campaign. This success was productive of more lasting results than merely the temporary possession of the Milanese. It led to a reconciliation with the Pope, and to a stately interview in the city of Bologna. All that was magnificent and captivating to the senses had been studied to dazzle the eyes of a young and imaginative prince; for Leo the Tenth, patron of the arts and of artists, was an adept in scenic effects. Certainly never did pomp and ceremony more easily effect the object for which they were employed. The interview of Bologna paved the way for a concordat, in which the rights of the Gallican Church were sacrificed, and the spoils divided between king and pontiff.[63] Three cardinals took part in the elaboration of the details of the instrument—two on the pontifical, the third on the royal side. The last was the notorious Cardinal Duprat, elevated by Francis to the office of chancellor—a minister of religion who[Pg 36] was soon to introduce venality into every department of government. The source of the concordat determined tolerably well its character.

Appreciating the strength of the opposition its pretensions had always encountered in France, the papal court had resolved to renounce a portion of its claims in favor of the king, in order to retain the rest more securely. Under the pretext that the right of election vested in the chapters had been abused, partly by the choice of illiterate and improper men, partly through the practice of simony, the selection of archbishops and bishops was taken from them and confided to the king. He was empowered to choose a doctor or licentiate of theology or law, not less than twenty-seven years of age, within six months after the see became vacant. The name of the candidate was to be submitted to the Pope for approval, and, if this first nomination was rejected, a second was to be made by the king. Similar regulations were made respecting abbeys and monastic institutions in general, a few exceptions being allowed in favor of those patrons and bodies to whom special privileges had been accorded. The issue of "expectatives" was prohibited; but, as no mention was made of the "annats," it followed, of course, that this rich source of gain to the papal treasury was to lie open, in spite of the provisions of the Pragmatic Sanction to the contrary.[64]

Such were some of the leading features of the concordat between Leo the Tenth and Francis the First—a document introducing changes so violent as to amount almost to a complete revolution in the ecclesiastical constitution of the land.

Dissatisfaction of the French.

After receiving the unqualified approval of the Lateran Council, in a session at which few prelates were present from outside of Italy, the concordat, engrossed on white damask, and accompanied by a revocation of the Pragmatic Sanction on cloth of gold, was forwarded to Francis, who had now returned to his kingdom. The latter, not ignorant of the discontent already engendered by the mere rumor of the transaction, first[Pg 37] submitted the concordat alone to a mixed assembly composed of prelates and canons, of presidents and counsellors of parliament, doctors of the university, and other prominent personages. But the king's caution failed of accomplishing what had been intended. The general dissatisfaction found expression in the speech of Cardinal Boissy, demanding that the clergy be consulted by itself on a matter so vitally affecting its interests, and suggesting the necessity of a national council for that purpose. Francis angrily retorted that the clergy must obey, or he would send its bishops to Rome to discuss with the Pope.

Struggle with the parliaments.

Failing in the attempt to forestall the expression of disapprobation of the judiciary by securing the favorable verdict of a picked assembly of influential persons, the king, nevertheless, proceeded to carry into execution that clause of the concordat which enjoined ratification by the parliaments. Letters patent were first dispatched commanding all judges to conform to its provisions, and these were followed shortly by copies of the instrument itself and of the revocation of the Pragmatic Sanction, for registry. At this point properly began one of the most notable contests between the crown and parliaments of France. The Parliament of Paris, taking the ground that so fundamental a change in the national customs demanded mature consideration, deferred action. With the view of exercising a pressure on its deliberations, Francis now commissioned his uncle, the Bastard of Savoy, to be present at the sessions. Against this unprecedented breach of privilege parliament sent a deputation humbly to remonstrate; but all to no purpose. The irritated prince, who entertained the most extravagant views of the royal prerogative, declared his intention to satisfy himself concerning the real disposition of his judges, and assured the deputies that he had firmly resolved to despatch the disobedient to the inferior parliaments of Bordeaux and Toulouse, and fill their places with "men of worth." "I am your king," was his constant exclamation, and this passed with him for an unanswerable argument in support of his views. But the members of parliament were not easily moved. Undoubtedly the success attending their[Pg 38] previous resistance to the repeal of the Pragmatic Sanction, on at least three occasions in the reign of Louis the Eleventh, emboldened them in the present instance. Unawed by the presence of the Bastard of Savoy, they refused to concede the registration of the concordat, and declared that they must continue to observe the Pragmatic Sanction, endorsed, as that ordinance had been, by the representatives of the entire nation. Not only did they protest against suffering the Sanction to be annulled, but they insisted upon the convocation of the clergy in a body similar to that assembled by Charles the Seventh, as an indispensable preliminary to the investigation of the matter.

Haughty demeanor of the king.

Francis, who happened to be at his castle of Amboise, on the Loire, now sent word that parliament should appoint a deputation to convey to him the reasons of its refusal. But when the delegates reached the castle-gate, an entire month elapsed before Francis would condescend to grant them audience. They were at length admitted, only to be treated with studied contempt. "There can be but one king in France," was the arrogant language of the young prince to the judges who had grown gray in the service of Charles the Eighth and the good King Louis. "You speak as if you were not my subjects, and as if I dared not try you and sentence you to lose your heads." And when the indignity of his words awakened the spirited remonstrance of the deputies, Francis rejoined: "I am king: I can dispose of my parliament at my pleasure. Begone, and return to Paris at break of day."

A formal command was now addressed to the Parliament of Paris, and the bearer, La Trémouille, informed that body, as it listened to the message, that Francis had repeated to him more than ten times within a quarter of an hour, "that he would not for half his kingdom fail of his word to the Pope, and that if parliament rebelled, he would find means to make it repent of its obstinacy." Under these circumstances, further resistance from a body so completely dependent on the sovereign was not to be thought of. Yet, even when compelled to yield, parliament, at the suggestion of the gens du roi, coupled the registry of the concordat with a declaration that it was made at the ex[Pg 39]press command of the king several times reiterated, that parliament disapproved of the revocation of the Pragmatic Sanction; and that, in the adjudication of causes, it would continue to follow the ordinance of Charles the Seventh, while appealing to the Pope under better advisement, and to a future council of the church. Thus the concordat, projected at Bologna in 1515, and signed at Rome on the sixteenth of August, 1516, was registered by the Parliament of Paris de expressissimo mandato regis, on the twenty-second of March, 1518.[65]

The university remonstrates.

Even now Francis had not quite silenced all opposition. The rector of the University of Paris, not content with entering a formal remonstrance,[66] took a bolder step. Making use of a prerogative long since conceded to the university, of exercising a censure over the press, he posted a notice to all printers and publishers forbidding the reproduction of the concordat on pain of loss of their privileges. The dean and canons of the cathedral church of Paris also handed in a protest. The preachers of several churches rivalled the rector in audacity, by publicly inveighing against the dangers of the ecclesiastical innovations introduced by the king. It is not surprising that a prince impatient even of wholesome rebuke was enraged at this monkish tirade. Parliament was ordered to bring the culprits to justice; but, strange to say, none could be discovered—a circumstance certainly attributable rather to the supineness of the judges than to any lack of witnesses. To the university Francis wrote in a haughty vein, threatening the severe punishment of any of its doctors that dared preach against the government; while, by an edict from[Pg 40] Amboise, he forbade the rector and his associates from assembling for the discussion of political questions.

These were the closing scenes of the exciting drama. The king had triumphed, but not without encountering a spirited opposition from parliament, university, and clergy. If these had succumbed, it had only been before superior strength, and each of the bodies reserved to itself the right of treating the concordat as a nullity and the Pragmatic Sanction as still the ecclesiastical constitution of the land.

The resistance not altogether fruitless.

Nor was this altogether an empty claim. Some of the provisions of the concordat were never enforced, and that was a solid advantage gained through the opposition. The parliaments persisted in rendering judgment, in such cases as came before them, in conformity with the Pragmatic Sanction. The Bishop of Albi, chosen by the canons, was confirmed in his see, notwithstanding the pretensions of a nominee of the crown. And yet the concordat was not merely maintained by the Pope and the king, but, a few years later, its provisions were extended to monastic foundations previously possessed of an undisputed title to elect. This was done to gratify Francis on the marriage of his second son Henry to Catharine de' Medici, niece of Clement, the reigning pontiff. The somewhat suspicious story is told, that, to aid in carrying out this new act of injustice, Cardinal Duprat, having ordered all ecclesiastical bodies to send him the original documents attesting their right of election, at once consigned the parchments to the fire, in order to destroy all memory of these troublesome claims. If the tale be apocryphal, it at least indicates sufficiently well the estimation in which the prelate's character was held by his contemporaries.

Advantages gained by the crown.

The clergy reluctantly admitted the concordat into their books after the lapse of two centuries, but solely, as they declared, for convenience of reference. The restoration of the Pragmatic Sanction continued to be demanded by one or all the orders of the States General, during the reigns of Francis the Second, Charles the Ninth, and their successors, not least on the ground that the day that witnessed its repeal also beheld the introduction of the "heresy" that had since attained such[Pg 41] formidable proportions.[67] But, if opposed and denounced, the concordat was carried into execution, so far as most of its provisions were concerned, until the French revolution. The advantages gained by the crown were too palpable to be voluntarily relinquished. Almost the entire patronage of the church was thrown into the hands of the king, who, in the reign of Louis the Fifteenth, held at his disposal eighteen archbishoprics, 112 bishoprics, 1,666 abbeys for men, and 317 abbeys and priories for women.[68] It must not be forgotten that the annats, or first-fruits of benefices, now regularly falling into the pontifical treasury, made the concordat scarcely less valuable to the Papal See.[69]

Era of the Renaissance.

The most enviable distinction of the reign of Francis the First consisted in the fact that it was the era of that extraordinary development of the fine arts and of literature known as the Renaissance. Illustrious during the Middle Ages, and foremost in the pursuit of scholastic learning, France had unfortunately lost that proud eminence when the revival of letters enkindled elsewhere a new passion for discovery. Her adventurous sons had taken the lead in the crusades of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, but three hundred years later no expeditions were fitted out in her ports to explore and appropriate the virgin territories beyond the western sea. The art of printing and the impulse given to astronomical research originated abroad. The famous mediæ[Pg 42]val seat of learning seemed to have been suddenly visited with a premature decay. Even the exiled scholars of the East, fleeing before Turkish barbarism, disdained to settle in a country where the treasures of ancient science which they had brought with them from Mount Athos and Constantinople were so inadequately appreciated.[70]

Francis's attainments overrated.
A munificent patron of art.

The reign of Francis the First, however, was destined to remove much of the reproach which had been incurred by reason of this singular tardiness in entering the path of improvement. Born of parents possessed of unusual intelligence and yet rarer education, and stimulated by the companionship of an elder sister whose extensive acquirements furnished the theme of countless panegyrics, Francis early conceived the design of making his court illustrious for the generous patronage extended to the disciples of the liberal arts. His own attainments have been overrated, and posterity has too credulously believed all that admiring and interested courtiers chose to invent in his praise. But, if he was himself ignorant of anything beyond the mere rudiments even of Latin, the universal language of science, he possessed at least one signal merit: he was a munificent friend of those whom poverty would otherwise have precluded from cultivating their resplendent abilities. I shall not repeat the familiar names of the eminent painters and sculptors whom he encouraged and enriched, nor give a list of the skilful architects employed in the construction of his magnificent palaces of St. Germain and Fontainebleau, of Chambord and Chenonceaux. Poetry, not less than painting and architecture, witnessed his liberality. Clément Marot, whose name has been regarded as marking the first truly remarkable epoch in the history of this[Pg 43] department of French art,[71] was a favorite at the court of Francis and Margaret of Angoulême, and repaid their gifts with unbounded eulogy. The more solid studies of the philosopher and the linguist were fostered with equal care. Vatable, Melchior Wolmar, and other scholars of note were invited to France, to give instruction in Greek and Hebrew. Erasmus himself might have been induced to yield to the king's importunate messages, could he have been able to divest himself of the apprehension of annoyance from the bigoted "Sorbonnists;" while even Melanchthon was, at a later period, on the point of accepting a pressing summons to visit the French court on a mission of reconciliation.

Foundation of the Collége Royal.

Among the most notable achievements of this prince was the foundation of a school of learning intended to supply the deficiencies of the instruction given by the university. In the "Collége Royal" Francis desired to leave a lasting token of his devotion to letters. Here he founded chairs of three languages—of Greek and Hebrew at first, and afterward of Latin—whence was derived the name of Trilingue, under which the college was celebrated in the writings of the day. The monarch's plan encountered the obstacles which prejudice always knows how to set in the way of improvement. The university doctors, fearing that their own prelections would be forsaken for the more brilliant lectures of the salaried professors of the royal school, demanded that the latter should submit to an examination before the more ancient body of instructors; but parliament wisely rejected their pretensions. Liberal men throughout the world rejoiced at the defeat of the Sorbonne and its representative, Beda,[72] while[Pg 44] Marot, alluding to the quarrel in a poetical epistle to the king, poured out in verse his contempt for the "Theologasters" of Paris:

"L'ignorante Sorbonne;
Bien ignorante elle est d'estre ennemie
De la Trilingue et noble Academie
Qu'as érigée....
O povres gens de savoir tout éthiques!
Bien faites vray ce proverbe courant:
'Science n'ha hayneux que l'ignorant!'"

It would be unfair to French scholarship to omit all notice of the fact that there were not wanting natives of France itself whose sound learning entitled them to rank with the most conscientious of German humanists; such men as Lefèvre d'Étaples, a prodigy of almost universal acquirements; or Louis de Berquin, who furnishes a signal instance of a nobleman of high position that did not shun the toil and danger of a more than ordinarily profound investigation of theological truth. Both will claim our attention again.

An age of blood.

Yet, by the side or these manifestations of a growing appreciation of art, science, and letters, it must be confessed that there were indications, no less distinct, of a lamentable neglect of moral training, and of a state of manners scarcely raised above that of uncivilized communities of men. It was still an age of blood. The pages of chronicles, both public and private, teem with proofs of the insignificant value set upon human life and happiness. In many parts of France the peasant rarely enjoyed quiet for even a few consecutive months. Organized bands of robbers, familiarly known as "Mauvais Garçons," infested whole provinces, and laid towns and villages under contribution. Not unfrequently two or three hundred men were to be found in a single band, and the robberies, outrages, and murders they committed defy recital. Often the miscreants were aventuriers, or volunteers whose[Pg 45] employers had failed to furnish them their stipulated pay, and who avenged their losses by exactions levied upon the unfortunate peasantry. Indeed, if we may believe the almost incredible statements of one of the laws enacted for their suppression, they had been known to carry by assault even walled cities, and to exercise against the miserable inhabitants cruelty such as disgraces the very name of man.[73]

Barbarous punishments.

The character or the punishments inflicted for the commission of crime furnishes a convenient test of national civilization. If France in the sixteenth century be tried by this criterion, the conclusion is inevitable that for her the age of barbarism had not yet completely passed away. The catalogue of crimes to which death was affixed as the penalty is frightfully long; some of them were almost trivial offences. A boy less than sixteen years of age was hung for stealing jewelry from his master.[74] On the other hand, with flagrant inconsistency, a nobleman, René de Bonneville, superintendent of the royal mint, for the murder of his brother-in-law, was dragged to the place of execution on a hurdle, but suffered the less ignominious fate of decapitation. A part of his property was given to his sister, and the rest confiscated to the crown, with the exception of four hundred livres, reserved for the purchase of masses to be said for the benefit of the soul of his murdered victim.[75]

Especially for heresy.

For other culprits extraordinary refinements of cruelty were reserved. The aventuriers, when so ill-starred as to fall into the hands of justice, were customarily burned alive at the stake.[76][Pg 46] The same fate overtook those who were detected in frauds against the public treasury. More frightful than all the rest was the vengeance taken by the law upon the counterfeiter of the king's coin. The legal penalty, which is said to have become a dead letter on the pages of the statute-book long before the French revolution, was in the sixteenth century rigidly enforced: on the 9th of November, 1527, a rich merchant of Paris, having been found guilty of the crime in question, was boiled alive before the assembled multitude in the Marché-aux-pourceaux.[77] Heresy and blasphemy were treated with no greater degree of leniency than the most infamous of crimes. Even before the reformation a lingering death in the flames had been the doom pronounced upon the person who dared to accept or promulgate doctrines condemned by the church. But when the bitterness of strife had awakened the desire to enhance the punishment of dissent, new or extraordinary tortures were resorted to, of the application of which this history will furnish only too many examples. The forehead was branded, the tongue torn out, the hand cut off at the wrist, or the agonies of death prolonged by alternately dropping the wretched victim into the fire and drawing him out again, until exhausted nature found tardy release in death.

But if we can to some extent account for the excess of cruelty which blind frenzy inflicted on the inflexible martyr to his faith, it is certainly more difficult to explain the severity exercised upon the more pliable, whom the arguments of ghostly advisers, or the terrors of the Place de Grève, had induced to recant. Generally the judge did nothing more in their behalf than commute their punishment by ordering them to be strangled before[Pg 47] their bodies were consigned to the flames.[78] Yet in one exceptional case—that of a servant whose master, a gentleman and one of the men-at-arms of the Regent of Scotland, was burned alive—the court went to such a length of leniency as to let the repentant heretic off with the sentence that he first be beaten with rods at the cart's end, and afterwards have his tongue cut out.[79] Even the clearest evidence of insanity did not suffice to remove or even mitigate the penalties of impiety. A poor, crazy woman, who had broken the consecrated wafer when administered to her in her illness, and had applied to it some offensive but absurd epithet, was unhesitatingly condemned to the stake. An appeal to a superior court procuring no reversal of her sentence, she was burned at Tours in the year 1533.[80]

Belief in astrology.
Predictions of Nostradamus.

Other marks of a low stage of civilization were not wanting. The belief in judicial astrology was almost universal.[81] Pretenders like Nostradamus obtained respect and wealth at the hands of their dupes. All France trembled with Catharine de' Medici, when the astrologer gave out that the queen would see all her sons kings, and every one foreboded the speedy extinction of the royal line. The "prophecy," as it was gravely styled, obtained public recognition, and was discussed in diplomatic papers. When two of the queen's sons had in fact become kings of France, and a third had been elected to the throne of Poland, while the marriage of the fourth with Queen Elizabeth was under consideration, Catharine's allies saw grounds to congratulate her that the prediction which had so disquieted her was likely to obtain a more pleasing fulfilment than in the successive deaths of her male descendants.[82]

A still more pernicious form of superstition was noticeable in[Pg 48] the credit enjoyed by charms and incantations, not merely among illiterate rustics, but even with persons of high social station. No phase of the magic art led to the commission of more terrible crimes or revealed a worse side of human character than that which pretended to secure the happiness or accomplish the ruin, to prolong the life or hasten the death, of the objects of private love or hatred. While systematically practising upon the credulity of his dupes, the professed master of this ill-omened art frequently resorted to assassination by poison or dagger in the accomplishment of his schemes. Sorcery by means of waxen images was particularly in vogue. Thus, the Queen of Navarre, the sister of Francis the First, in her singular collection of tales, the "Heptameron," gives a circumstantial account of the mode in which her own life was sought by this species of witchcraft.[83] Five puppets had been provided: three, representing enemies (the queen being one of the number), had their arms hanging down; the other two, representing persons whose favor was desired, had them raised aloft. With certain cabalistic words and occult rites the puppets were next secretly hidden beneath an altar whereon the mass was celebrated, and the mysterious "sacrifice" was believed to complete the efficacy of the charm. It was no new superstition imported from abroad, but one that had existed in France for centuries.[84]

Reverence for relics.

The French were behind no other nation in reverence for relics of saints and for pictures and images representing them. In the partial list, compiled by a contemporary, of the curiosities[Pg 49] of this nature scattered through Christendom,[85] the majority of the relics mentioned are selected from the immense treasures laid up in the thousands of cathedrals, parish churches, and abbeys within the domains of the "Very Christian King." In one place the hair of the blessed Virgin was carefully preserved; in another the sword of the archangel Michael, or the entire body of St. Dionysius. It was true that the Pope had by solemn bull, about a century before, declared, in the presence of the French ambassador, that the entire body of this last-named saint was in the possession of the inhabitants of Ratisbon; but, had any one been so rash as to affirm at Saint Denis, near Paris, that the veritable remains were not there, he would certainly have been stoned.[86] At Notre-Dame de l'Ile, above Lyons, no little account was made of the twelve combs of the apostles![87]

The reflecting man who found, by a comparison of the treasures of different churches within his own personal observation, that some of the pretended relics were frivolous or impossible, and that the same members of some favorite saint were reproduced at points widely distant, might well speculate upon the probable benefits to Christendom from a complete inventory of the contents of the churches of two or three thousand bishoprics, of twenty or thirty thousand abbeys, and of more than forty thousand convents.[88] He might find difficulty in believing that our Lord was crucified with fourteen nails; that "an entire hedge" should have been requisite to plait the crown of thorns; that a single spear should have begotten three others; or that from a solitary napkin there should have issued a whole brood of the same kind.[89] He would be scandalized on learning that each apostle had more than four bodies, and the saints at least two or three apiece.[90] And his faith in the genuineness of the objects of popular adoration would be still further shaken, if, on[Pg 50] subjecting them to a closer examination, he discovered that, as was the case at Geneva, he had been worshipping a bone of a deer as the arm of Saint Anthony, or a piece of pumice for the brain of the apostle Peter.[91]

But, whatever sceptical conclusions might be reached by the learned and discerning, the devotion of the common people showed no signs of flagging. In the parish church of St. Stephen at Noyon, it was not the Christian proto-martyr alone that was decorated with a cap and other gewgaws, when his yearly festival came around, but likewise the "tyrants," as they were styled by the people, who stoned him. And the poor women, seeing them thus adorned, took them to be companions of the saint, and each one had his candle. The devil with whom St. Michael contended fared equally well.[92] The very stones that were the instruments of St. Stephen's death were adored at Arles and elsewhere.[93] It was, however, to the Parisians that the palm in this species of superstition rightfully belonged. The knife wherewith an impious Jew had stabbed a consecrated wafer was held in higher esteem than the wafer itself! And so marked was the preference that it aroused the displeasure of one of the most bigoted doctors of the Sorbonne, De Quercu, who reproached the Parisians for being worse than the Jews themselves, "inasmuch as they adored the knife that had served to rend the precious body of Jesus Christ."[94]

The consecrated wafer.

When such superstitious respect was paid to the relics of saints, it is not surprising that the consecrated wafer or host received the most extravagant marks of adoration. The king himself was often foremost in public demonstrations in its honor. Louise de Savoie, mother of Francis the First, relates in her quaint diary the pompous ceremonial observed in restoring to its original position a pyx containing the host which had been stolen from the chapel of the palace of St. Germain-en-Laye. The culprit had suffered the customary penalty, having had his hand cut off and being afterward burned alive. In the expiatory procession which took place a few days[Pg 51] later, Francis himself walked with uncovered head and carrying a lighted taper in his hand, from Nanterre to St. Germain. If we may credit his mother's somewhat partial account, the sight of the monarch's signal piety was so touching as to bring tears to the eyes of admiring spectators.[95]

In view of the general prevalence of debasing forms of superstition among the people, it is not inappropriate to consider the condition of that class of the population which is wont to exert the most potent influence in forming the moral sentiments and moulding the character of the unlettered masses. We have already touched upon the external relations of the clergy to the king and to the Pope; let us now look more narrowly into its internal state.

Wealth and power of the clergy.

At the period of which I am now treating, the clergy, both regular and secular, had attained unprecedented wealth and power. Never, perhaps, had France been more fully represented in the "Sacred College." Assuredly never since the residence of the Popes in Avignon had the French members possessed such immense riches. Thirteen French cardinals sat in the papal consistory at one time in the reign of Francis the First; twelve at the accession of his son to the throne.[96] Their influence in the kingdom was almost beyond conception, both on account of the multitude of benefices they held, and the distinction of the families from whom they sprang and whose titles they retained. Some were the incumbents of as many as ten bishoprics and abbeys; while the cardinals of Bourbon, of Lorraine, of Châtillon, of Du Bellay, and of Armagnac were of the best blood in the realm, and enjoyed in their own right, or by reason of their office, very extensive jurisdiction.

Non-residence of the prelates.

A standing reproach against the prelates was their non-residence in the dioceses committed to their pastoral supervision.[Pg 52] In fact, when the Council of Trent, by one of its first decrees, forbade a plurality of benefices and enjoined residence, its action was regarded as an open declaration of war against the French episcopate.[97] But if this abuse is deplored by Roman Catholic historians as the fruitful cause of the introduction and rapid progress of Protestantism,[98] the reformers, viewing their work as an instrument specially designed by heaven for the purification of a corrupt church, might well be justified in regarding the negligence of the bishops as a wise providential arrangement. Many a feeble germ of truth was spared the violence of persecution until the kindly sun and the plentiful showers had conferred greater powers of endurance. Happily for the reformers, the duty of watching for the first appearance of reputed heresy, which belonged properly to the bishops, was but poorly discharged by many of the deputies to whom they entrusted it. Nor could a delegated authority always accomplish what might have been done by a principal.[99]

Revenues of the clergy.

The annual revenues of the clergy of France were estimated by a Venetian ambassador, with unsurpassed facilities for obtaining accurate information, at six million crowns of gold, out of the fifteen millions that constituted the total revenues of the kingdom. While the clergy thus absorbed two-fifths of the whole income of France, the king was limited to one million and a half crowns, or just one-tenth, derived from his particular estates.[100]

Morals of the clergy.

Wealth had engendered luxury and vice. Engrossed in the pursuit of pleasure or personal aggrandizement, the vast majority of clergymen had lost all solicitude for the spiritual welfare[Pg 53] of their flocks. About the middle of the century Claude Haton, curate of Mériot—certainly no friend of the reformatory movement—wrote in his Mémoires: "The more rapidly the number of heretics in France increased, the more indifferent to the discharge of their duty in their charges were the prelates and pastors of the church, from cardinals and archbishops down to the most insignificant curate. They cared little or nothing how anything went, if they could but draw the income of their benefices at whatever place of residence they had selected with a view to the promotion of their pleasure.[101] They let their benefices out at the highest rate they could get, little solicitous as to the hands they might fall into, provided only they were well paid according to the terms of the agreement. The archbishops, bishops, and cardinals of France were almost all at the court of the king and the princes. The abbots, priors and curates resided in the large cities and in other places, wherein they took more delight than within the limits of their charges and preaching the true word of God to their subjects and parishioners. From their indifference the Lutheran heretics took occasion to slander the Church of Jesus Christ and to seduce Christians from it."[102]

No regard to the spiritual wants of the people.

Such a condition of utter indifference on the part of the clergy to the interests of the souls committed to their charge cannot surprise us when we learn that benefices were conferred without regard to the wants of the people. The Venetian Soranzo, in an address delivered after the fruits of the concordat had had full time to mature,[103] declared that in the majority of cases these ecclesiastical positions were dispensed with little respect to things sacred, and through simple favor. They served as a convenient method of rewarding good services. Little account was made of the quali[Pg 54]fications of the candidate, who might have earned his reward in the army or in the civil service. And so it often happened that he who to-day was a merchant or a soldier, to-morrow was made bishop or abbot. When, indeed, the fortunate man had a wife or was reluctant to assume the habit, he could readily get permission to place the benefice in the name of another, himself retaining the income.[104] "These new pastors," said Correro, "placed in charge of the churches men who had taken it into their heads to be clergymen only to avoid the toils of some other occupation—men who, by their avarice and dissoluteness of life, confused the innocent people and removed their previous great devotion. This was the door, this was the spacious gateway, by which heresies entered France. For the ministers sent from Geneva were easily able to create in the people a hatred of the priests and friars, by simply weighing in the balance the life led by the latter."[105]

The clergy before the concordat.

It was the fashion among those who passed for philosophers to ascribe the universal dissolution of morals among French ecclesiastics to the operation of the concordat between Francis the First and Pope Leo the Tenth, which, said they, by bringing so many bishops and other high dignitaries to the court in quest of preferment, had corrupted the characters of the prelates, while exposing their flocks to all the evils which neglect is wont to breed. Unfortunately, the portraits of the period preceding the revocation of the Pragmatic Sanction that have come down to us dispel the Arcadian simplicity of manners which seems only to have existed in the imagination of a few warm admirers of everything ancient. If the prelates of France were dissolute after the introduction of the concordat, we are assured by a writer by no means partial to the "new doctrines," that the state of affairs was no better at[Pg 55] an earlier period. In their abbeys or bishoprics they were as debauched as those who followed arms for their profession.[106] The bishops bought their places with money, or with promises which were to be fulfilled after preferment. "And when they had attained these high dignities," he adds, "God knows what lives they led. Assuredly they were far more devoted to their dioceses than they have since been; for they never left them. But it was to lead a most dissolute life with their dogs and birds, with their feasts, banquets, marriage entertainments and courtezans, of whom they gathered seraglios.... All this was permitted, and none dared to remonstrate or utter censure. Even more could be related, which is passed over in silence through fear of creating scandal. Our present bishops, if not better men, are at least more discreet hypocrites, and more skilfully conceal their black vices."[107] Nor were the morals of the monastic orders depicted in brighter colors. "Generally the monks elected the most jovial companion, him who was the most fond of women, dogs, and birds, the deepest drinker—in short, the most dissipated; and this in order that, when they had made him abbot or prior, they might be permitted to indulge in similar debauch and pleasure. Indeed, they bound him beforehand by strong oaths, to which he was forced to conform either voluntarily or by constraint. The worst was that, when they failed to agree in their elections, they usually came to blows with fist and sword, and inflicted wounds and even death. In a word, there was more tumult, more faction and intrigue, than there is at the election of the Rector of the University of Paris."[108] It was not strange, therefore, that Francis, unable otherwise to recompense his deserving nobles, should prefer to bestow upon them rich abbeys and priories, rather than leave these to the monks in their cloisters—monks who, as the monarch used to[Pg 56] say, "were good for nothing but to eat and drink, to frequent taverns and gamble, to twist cords for the cross-bow, set traps for ferrets and rabbits, and train linnets to whistle"—men whose idleness and other vices were so notorious that the expressions, "He is as idle as a priest or monk," and "Avaricious and lewd as a priest or monk," passed into proverbs.[109]

Aversion to the use of the French language.

Ecclesiastical teachers themselves so ignorant and corrupt could not be expected to do much for the elevation of the laity. Of popularizing knowledge, especially religious knowledge, the clergy and their adherents had little thought. Latin alone was deemed suitable for the discussion of matters of faith. It was enough to condemn the employment of French for this purpose, that it could be understood by the people. For the reformers was reserved the honor of raising the dialect of the masses to the dignity of a language fit for the highest literary uses, and of compelling even their antagonists to resort to it in self-defence, though, it must be confessed, with a very poor grace. So late as in 1558 we find a leading theologian of the Sorbonne publicly apologizing for the condescension. "Very dear friend," he writes in the address to the reader, "I doubt not that, at first sight, you will regard it as strange and perhaps very wrong that this reply is couched in the vulgar tongue; seeing that it would be much more suitable were it circulated in the Latin rather than the French tongue, inasmuch as the subject-matter consists of things greatly concerning Christian faith, which require rather to be put in Latin than in French. Of this also we have the example of the holy ancient doctors, who were always accustomed to write against heretics in Latin and not in French."[110] If such was the avowed repugnance to the use of the language of the people in the treatment of religious themes, so late as within a year of the death of Henry the Second, it may readily be conceived how deep the aversion was a generation earlier, at the first appearance of the reformation.[Pg 57]

Ignorance of the Holy Scriptures.

As to acquaintance with the contents of the Holy Scriptures, either in the original or in translation, there was next to none among the professed teachers of science and religion. If the statements of the celebrated scholar and printer, Robert Étienne, or Stephens, seem almost incredible, they nevertheless come from a witness of unimpeachable veracity. Referring to the period of his boyhood or early youth—he was born in 1503—Étienne sketched the biblical attainments of the doctors of the Sorbonne after this fashion: "In those times, as I can affirm with truth, when I asked them in what part of the New Testament some matter was written, they used to answer that they had read it in Saint Jerome or in the Decretals, but that they did not know what the New Testament was, not being aware that it was customary to print it after the Old. What I am going to state will appear almost a prodigy, and yet there is nothing more true nor better proven: Not long since, a member of their college used daily to say, 'I am amazed that these young people keep bringing up the New Testament to us. I was more than fifty years old before I knew anything about the New Testament!'"[111]

Miracles to stimulate the popular faith.
The "ghost of Orleans."

The absence of teaching founded upon a rational exposition of the Holy Scriptures was not less marked than was the abundance of reported miracles, by means of which the popular faith was stimulated and sustained. Above all, the doctrine of transubstantiation was fortified by the circulation of stories of wonders such as that which took place at Poitiers, in 1516, when the consecrated wine, spilled by a crazy man, from white instantly became red.[112] At other times imposture was resorted to in support of such profitable beliefs as the existence of purgatorial fires, or to inculcate the advantage accruing from masses for the souls of the dead. The "ghost of Orleans" has become historic. The wife of the provost of the city having died, was buried, as she had[Pg 58] requested, without any pomp and without the customary gifts to the church. Thereupon the Franciscans conceived the scheme of making use of her example to warn others against following a course so detrimental to monastic and priestly interests. The mysterious knockings by means of which the deceased was supposed to give intimation of her miserable doom and of her desire that her body, as of one that had been tainted with heresy, should be removed from the holy ground wherein it had been interred, were listened to with amazement by the awe-stricken people. But the opportune discovery of a novice, conveniently posted above the ceiling of the convent chapel, sadly interfered with the success of the well contrived plot, and eleven monks convicted of complicity in the fraud were banished the kingdom. They would have been even more severely punished had not fear been entertained lest the reformers might find too much occasion for triumph.[113]

Theatrical effects.
A strange coin.

More excusable were the theatrical effects which were intended, without actually deceiving, to heighten the religious devotion of worshippers. Thus, every Pentecost or Whit-Sunday, in the midst of the service an angel was seen to descend from the lofty ceiling of the Sainte Chapelle in Paris, attended by two smaller angels, and bearing a silver vase containing water for the use of the celebrant of the high mass.[114] For this somewhat harmless piece of spectacular display a justification might be sought in the religious impressions which the people were supposed to derive most easily through the senses; but nothing could be urged in defence of much that[Pg 59] the clergy tolerated or encouraged. Superstitions of heathen origin were suffered to reign undisturbed. Pagan statues were openly worshipped. An Isis received homage and was honored with burning candles. An Apollo at Polignac was a centre of religious veneration, and even the unsavory surroundings, when the spot where it stood was transformed into a stable, could not deter an anxious crowd of devotees from prostrating themselves before it.[115] What better could be expected in an age and country in which the people were imposed upon by reports that prehistoric coins had been discovered bearing the strange legend: "I believe in Jesus to be born among animals and of a Virgin"?[116]

Indecent processions.

It was not astonishing that the church itself did little to remove the barbarism prevailing among the common people, for, in point of fact, buffoonery, immodesty, and cruelty had intruded into the very ceremonial of religion. Never were there more disgusting exhibitions of the low state of the public morals than when the occurrence of pestilence, drought, or some other signal visitation of the displeasure of heaven induced a clergy scarcely less rude than the laity to institute propitiatory processions. On such occasions children of both sexes, or perhaps grown men and women, with bare feet, and wearing for their only clothing a sheet that scarcely concealed their forms, passed through the streets of the towns, or wearily trudged from village to village, responsively singing the litanies of the Virgin or the saints, and loudly repeating the refrain, Ora pro nobis.[117] Often shameful indecency and a reckless[Pg 60] disregard of human life were displayed. In one of the villages of Champagne, during the protracted drought of 1556, the sacred scenes of the Passion were publicly enacted in the streets. The person of our Lord was represented by a young man in a state of entire nudity and bound with cords, who at every step was scourged by his companions, personating the Roman soldiers. The picture was true to life, and the blows so far from unreal that the prime actor in the scandalous performance fell a victim to the inhuman treatment and died within a few days. The fruits of practices so coarse and debasing were such as may easily be conceived.[118]

The monastic orders incur contempt.

It was a lamentable but notorious fact that, as a consequence of the unnatural divorce of religion and morality, the clergy, both secular and regular, by their excesses had incurred the contempt of the laity. If the Franciscan monks enjoyed an unenviable pre-eminence in this respect, so as to have come to constitute one of the stock characters in the "Heptameron" and similar works, scarcely less constant than the prodigals or parasites of the New Comedy, the other orders were but little behind them. And so Louise de Savoie made this significant entry in her diary: "In the year 1522, in December, my son and I, by the grace of the Holy Ghost, began to understand the hypocrites, white, black, gray, smoky, and of all colors; from whom may God, by his clemency and infinite goodness, be pleased to preserve and defend us. For, if Jesus Christ be not a liar, there is no more dangerous generation in all human kind."[119] Bishops and cardinals won little more respect than the monks; for was it not the most prominent of the wearers of the purple who, as Chancellor of France, introduced venality into the most sacred offices[Pg 61] of state,[120] while by his quarrelsome and unscrupulous diplomacy he richly merited the bon mot of the Emperor Charles the Fifth, that he was more inclined to make four wars than, one peace?[121]

Abortive efforts at reform.

It does not enter into the province of this history to discuss in detail the causes of the deplorable vices that characterized the priesthood on the eve of the great religious movement of the sixteenth century; nor can we pause to make that analysis of the doctrinal errors then prevalent, which belongs rather to the office of the historian of the Reformation. It will be sufficient, therefore, if we glance hastily at some of the partial and abortive efforts directed toward the reform of doctrine and manners of which mediæval France was the theatre.

The Cathari and Albigenses.

Foremost among the popular opponents of the papacy were the Cathari and Albigenses. The accounts of the origin of the sect or sects bearing these names are vague and unsatisfactory, and the reports of their creed and worship are inconsistent or incredible. The ruin that overwhelmed them spared no friendly narrative of their history, and scarcely one authoritative exposition of the belief for the profession of which their adherents encountered death with heroic fortitude. Defeat not only compelled the remnants of the Albigenses to succumb to Simon de Montfort and his fellow crusaders, but reduced them to the indignity of having the record of their faith and self-devotion transmitted to posterity only in the hostile chronicles of Roman ecclesiastics. But even partisan animosity has not robbed the world of the edifying spectacle of a large number of men and women, of a quiet and peaceable disposition, persistently and fearlessly protesting, through a long series of years, against the worship of saints and[Pg 62] images, resisting the innovations of a corrupt church, and adhering with constancy to a simple ritual unencumbered with superstitious observances. Careful investigation establishes the fact that the Holy Scriptures were read and accepted as the supreme authority as well in doctrine as in practice, and that the precepts there inculcated were adorned by lives so pure and exemplary as to evoke an involuntary expression of admiration from bitter opponents.

There is little doubt that strange doctrinal errors found a foothold in parts, at least, of the extensive territory in southern France occupied by the Albigenses. Oriental Dualism or Manichæism not improbably disfigured the creed of portions of the sect; while the belief of others scarcely differed from that of the less numerous Waldenses of Provence or their brethren in the valleys of Piedmont. But, whatever may be the truth on this much contested point,[122] the remarkable spread of the Albigenses during the latter part of the twelfth century must be regarded as strongly marking the revolt of the French mind, especially in the more impetuous south, against the priestly absolutism that crushed all freedom of religious thought, and equally against a church tolerating the most flagrant abuses. Nor can the historian who desires to trace the more remote consequences of important moral movements fail to notice the singular fact that the soil watered by Albigensian blood at the beginning of the thirteenth century was precisely that in which the seed sown by the reformers, three hundred years later, sprang up most rapidly and bore the most abundant harvest. After so long a period of suspended activity, the spirit of opposition once more asserted its vital energy—soon, it is true, to meet fresh difficulties, but only such difficulties as would tend to develop and strengthen it.[Pg 63]

The crime of vauderie.

With the suppression of the Albigenses all open popular protest against the errors of the church ceases until the advent of the Reformation. The latent tendency did, indeed, manifest its continued existence in those obscure practices known as vauderie, which, distorted by the imagination of reckless informers and interested judges, and converted into the most monstrous crimes against religion and morality, occasioned the death of countless innocent victims.[123] But it was chiefly among the learned, and particularly in the bosom of the University of Paris, that the pressing need of a thorough purification of the church found expression. Not that the remedies advocated were so definite and radical, or based upon so full a recognition of the distinctive character of Christianity, as to merit the name of reformatory projects. Yet, standing somewhat in advance of their contemporaries, a few theologians raised their voices in decided condemnation of those evils which needed only to be held up to public notice to incur the universal reprobation of mankind.

Nicholas de Clemangis.
John Gerson.

Nicholas de Clemangis, Rector of the University of Paris, subsequently private secretary of Benedict the Thirteenth at Avignon, and perhaps the most elegant writer of his age, drew a startling picture of the wretched state of the church at the beginning of the fifteenth century. No writer had ever described more vividly the corruption of the convents and monasteries, or denounced more unsparingly the unfaithfulness and impurity of the parish clergy, and the simony pervading alike all grades of the hierarchy. His censure was the[Pg 64] more effective because he spoke in sorrow rather than in anger.[124] John Gerson, his contemporary and friend, who reached the eminent position of chancellor of the university, was not less bold in stigmatizing the same evils, while the weight of his authority was even greater. So far, however, was he from grasping the nature and need of a substantial renovation of the existing religious belief, that to his influence in no inconsiderable measure was due the perfidious condemnation and execution of the great Bohemian forerunner of the Reformation, John Huss. The student of mediæval history may be inclined to smile at the subtilties of scholastic distinctions, but he is also compelled to lament the fact that the death of a Realist was greeted with demonstrations of evident satisfaction by a philosopher belonging to the opposite school of the Nominalists.[125]

Jean Bouchet's "Deploration."

A century elapsed between the time of Nicholas de Clemangis and Gerson and the almost simultaneous appearance of Ulrich Zwingle in Switzerland and Martin Luther in Germany. During this long interval of expectation the voice of remonstrance was not altogether silent. A few earnest men refused to suppress the indignation they felt at the sight of the impiety that had invaded the sacred precincts of the church. Among[Pg 65] the last of those whose words have come down to us was Jean Bouchet, a native of Poitiers. In 1512, only five years before the publication of the theses of the reformer of Wittemberg, he gave to the world a poem not devoid of historical interest, though possessed of little poetic merit, entitled "La Déploration de l'Église militante."[126] In this spirited lament it is the church herself that addresses the hierarchy—pontiff, cardinals, patriarchs, bishops, and others—as well as kings and secular dignitaries. She complains of the great injuries and molestations she endures. The practice of simony has converted a temple into a loathsome stable. Science and learning are no longer necessary for the candidate for ecclesiastical preferment; a hundred crowns in hand will serve his purpose much better, no matter how bad his moral character may be. As for his qualifications, he is full well provided if he can manage the hounds aright and knows how to hunt with the falcon. "Cease," cries the church through the poet to the French princes, "cease to load me down with gewgaws, with chalices, crosses, and sumptuous ornaments. Furnish me instead with virtuous ministers. The exquisite beauty of abbeys or of silver images is less pleasing in God's sight than the holy life of good prelates."[127] As it is, the dissolute ministers of religion are engrossed in forbidden games, in banquets, and the chase. Decked out with flowers, rings, and trinkets, the bishop in his dress is more like a soldier or a juggler, than a servant of the church. He recites his prayers reluctantly, while words of profane swearing flow freely from his lips. From such disorders as these the church invokes her worldly protectors to deliver her.[Pg 66]

The abuses which Jean Bouchet described, and other abuses of a similar kind, were so notorious that no intelligent man could close his eyes to the evidence of their existence. They had been recited again and again by more eloquent tongues than that of the poet of Poitiers. Dante and Petrarch had held them up to immortal contempt. Boccaccio had made them the subject of ridicule in his popular stories. But neither remonstrance nor taunt had effectually abated the prevailing corruption. It remained that a new remedy should be tried, and the time for its application was close at hand.

Changes in the boundaries of France during the sixteenth century.

It must not be forgotten that the boundaries of France varied considerably during the sixteenth century. Thus Artois and Flanders, at the accession of Francis the First, were nominally fiefs of the French crown, for which Charles of Austria sent to France a very honorable embassy, with Henry, Count of Nassau, at its head, to do homage to the young prince. It was on this occasion that Francis, desirous of gratifying Charles, proposed or consented to the marriage of his favorite with Claude de Châlons, daughter of the Prince of Orange (Jean de Serres, Inventaire Général de l'Histoire de France, 1619, ii. 4, Motley, Dutch Republic, i. 234). Eleven years later, January, 1526, by the Treaty of Madrid, Francis renounced his suzerainty over the counties of Artois and Flanders, as a condition of his release from captivity (Inventaire Général, ii. 96). On the other hand, not to speak of the "Three Bishoprics"—Metz, Toul, and Verdun—definitely incorporated with the French dominions in 1552, France had for a longer or shorter time possession of the Duchy of Milan, of the island of Corsica, and of Piedmont. Not only Bresse, but the very Duchy of Savoy, were for years merged in the realm of France, until restored to Philibert Emmanuel by the disgraceful Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis.

[Pg 67]



Jacques Lefèvre d'Étaples.

The reformatory movement, whose almost simultaneous rise at so many different points constitutes one of the most noticeable features of the history of Europe in the sixteenth century, originated, so far as France was concerned, within the bosom of that famous nursery of mediæval learning, the University of Paris. Among the teachers who, during the later years of the reign of Louis the Twelfth, attracted the studious from the most distant parts of Christendom, Jacques Lefèvre, a native of Étaples in Picardy, held a high rank for natural ability and extensive acquirements. It is true that neither his personal appearance nor his extraction commanded respect: he was diminutive in stature, and he could boast of no noble blood running in his veins.[128] A more formidable hinderance in the path to distinction had been the barbarous instruction he had received from incompetent masters, both in the inferior schools and in the university itself. But all obstacles, physical, social, and intellectual, melted away before the ardor of an extraordinarily active mind. Rising steadily above the contracted views, the blind respect for authority, and the self-satisfied ignorance of the instructors of his youth and the colleagues of his manhood and old age, he greeted with delight the advent of those liberal ideas which had wrought so wonderful a change in Germany and Italy. A thirst for knowledge even led him, in imitation of the sages of the early world, to travel to distant parts of Europe, and, if we may credit the statements of his admiring[Pg 68] disciples, to pursue his investigations into portions of Asia and Africa.

Restores letters to France.
His wide range of study.

To Jacques Lefèvre, of Étaples—better known to foreigners under the Latin designation of Faber Stapulensis—belongs the honor of restoring letters to France. His eulogist, Scævola de Sainte-Marthe, has not exaggerated his merit, when, placing him in the front rank of the learned men whom he celebrates, he likens the Picard doctor to a new sun rising from the Belgian coast to dissipate the fogs and darkness investing his native land and pour upon its youth the full beams of a purer teaching.[129] Lefèvre confined his attention to no single branch of learning. He was equally proficient in mathematics, in astronomy, and in Biblical literature and criticism.[130] Brilliant attainments in so many departments were commended yet more to the admiration of beholders by a modest and unassuming deportment, by morals above reproach, and by a disinterested nature in which there was no taint of avarice. The sincerity of his unselfish love of knowledge was said to be attested by the liberality with which he renounced the entire income of his small patrimony in favor of his needy relations.[131]

His pupil, Guillaume Farel.

Enjoying a reputation for profound and exact learning which had spread to foreign countries, and admired even by the great humanist Erasmus, Lefèvre had drawn to him a small band of the most promising of the scholars in attendance upon the university. Prominent among these for brilliancy and fiery zeal was a student more than thirty years younger than his teacher, Guillaume Farel, destined to fill an important place in the annals of the French reformation, and to play a leading role in the history of Geneva and Neufchâtel. Farel was born in 1489, near Gap, in Dauphiny,[Pg 69] and his childhood was spent at the foot of the Alps. Unlike Lefèvre, he belonged to a family of considerable importance in the provincial nobility. The contrast was still more marked between the mild and timid professor and the pupil in whose nature courage was so prominent an element that it often assumed the appearance of imprudent contempt of danger.

Devotion of scholar and pupil.

But, in spite of dissimilarity of character, Lefèvre and Farel lived together in close friendship. Together they frequented the churches, and united in the pious work, as they regarded it, of decking out with flowers the pictures of the saints, to whose shrines they made frequent pilgrimages. Lefèvre was scrupulously exact in the performance of his religious duties, and was especially punctual in attendance on the mass. In his zeal for the church, he had even undertaken as a meritorious task to compile the lives of the saints whose names appear on the Roman calendar, and had actually committed to the press an account of those whose feast-days fell within the months of January and February.[132] On the other hand, Farel was so sincere an adherent of the current faith, that, to employ his own forcible description, he had become "a very Pantheon, full of intercessors, saviors and gods, of whom his heart might have passed for a complete register." The papacy had so entrenched itself in his heart, that even the Pope and papal church were not so papal as he. The man who came to him with the Pope's endorsement appeared to him like a god, while he would gladly have overwhelmed in ruin the sacrilegious wretch that dared to say a word against the Roman pontiff and his authority.[133][Pg 70]

Lefèvre's commentary on the Pauline Epistles.

But the enthusiastic devotion of Lefèvre and his more impetuous disciple to the tenets of the Roman church was to be shaken by a closer study of the Scriptures. In 1508 Lefèvre completed a Latin commentary upon the Psalms.[134] In 1512 he published a commentary in the same language on the Pauline Epistles—a work which may indeed fall short of the standard of criticism established by a subsequent age, but yet contains a clear enunciation of the doctrine of justification by faith, the cardinal doctrine of the Reformation.[135]

Foresees the coming reformation.

Thus, five years before Luther posted his theses on the doors of the church at Wittemberg, Jacques Lefèvre had proclaimed, in no equivocal terms, his belief in the same great principles. But Lefèvre's lectures in the college and his written commentary were addressed to the learned. Consequently they produced no such immediate and startling effect as the ninety-five propositions of the Saxon monk. Lefèvre was not himself to be an active instrument in the French reformation. His office was rather to prepare the way for others—not, perhaps, more sincere, but certainly more courageous—to enter upon the hazardous undertaking of attempting to renovate the church. His faithful disciple, indeed, has preserved for us a remarkable prophecy, uttered by Lefèvre at the very time when he was still assiduous in his devotion to the Virgin Mary and the saints. Grasping Farel by the hand, the venerable doctor more than once addressed to him the significant words, which made a deep impression on the hearer's mind: "Guillaume, the world is going to be renewed, and you will behold it!"[136][Pg 71]

Controversy with Beda.
The Sorbonne's declaration.

Lefèvre did not intermit his biblical studies. In 1518 he published a short treatise on "the three Marys," to prove that Mary the sister of Lazarus, Mary Magdalene, and "the woman which was a sinner," were not one and the same person, according to the common belief of the time. Unfortunately, the Roman church, by the lessons set down for the feast-days, had given its sanction to the prevalent error. Now, the fears and suspicions of the theologians of the Sorbonne had, during the past year, been aroused by the fame of Martin Luther's "heresy," and they were ready to resent any attempt at innovation, however slight, either in doctrine or in practice, as evidence of heretical proclivities. Natalis Beda, the ignorant but pedantic syndic of the theological faculty, entered the lists as Lefèvre's opponent, and an animated dispute was waged between the friends of the two combatants. Of so great moment was the decision regarded by Poncher, Bishop of Paris, that he induced Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, to write an essay in refutation of the views of Lefèvre.[137] But the Sorbonne, not content with this, on the ninth of November, 1521, declared that he was a heretic who should presume to maintain the truth of Lefèvre's proposition. Lefèvre himself would probably have experienced even greater indignities at the hands of parliament—whose members were accustomed[Pg 72] to show excessive respect to the fanatical demands of the faculty—had not Guillaume Petit, the king's confessor, induced Francis to interfere in behalf of the Picard professor.[138]

Briçonnet, Bishop of Meauz.

To these two actors in the drama of the French reformation a third must now be added. Guillanme Briçonnet, Bishop of Meaux, stood in the front rank of aspiring and fortunate churchmen. His father, commonly known as the Cardinal of St. Malo, had passed from the civil administration into the hierarchy of the Gallican Church. Rewarded for services rendered to Louis the Eleventh and Charles the Eighth by the gift of the rich abbey of St. Germain-des-Prés and the archbishopric of Rheims, he had, in virtue of his possession of the latter dignity, anointed Louis the Twelfth at his coronation. As cardinal, he had headed the French party in the papal consistory, and, more obedient to his sovereign than to the pontiff, when Louis demanded the convocation of a council at Pisa to resist the encroachments of Julius the Second, the elder Briçonnet left Rome to join in its deliberations, and to face the dangers attending an open rupture with the Pope. The cardinal was now dead, having left to Guillaume, born previously to his father's entrance into orders, a good measure of the royal favor he had himself enjoyed. The younger Briçonnet had been successively created Archdeacon of Rheims and Avignon, Abbot of St. Germain-des-Prés, and Bishop of Lodève and Meaux. His title of Count of Montbrun gave him, moreover, a place in the nobility.[139] Meantime a reformatory tendency had early revealed itself in the efforts[Pg 73] made by the young ecclesiastic to enforce the observance of canonical discipline by the luxurious friars of the monastery of St. Germain. Here, too, he had tasted the first fruits of the opposition which was before long to test his firmness and constancy.

Briçonnet had been appointed Bishop of Meaux (March 19, 1516) about the same time that Francis the First despatched him as special envoy to treat with the Pope. It would seem that the intimate acquaintance with the papal court gained on this occasion, confirming the impressions made by a previous diplomatic mission in the time of Louis the Twelfth, convinced Briçonnet that the church stood in urgent need of reform; and he resolved to begin the work in his own diocese.

Lefèvre and Farel invited to Meaux.

Weary of the annoyance and peril arising from the ignorance and malice of his enemies, the theologians of the Sorbonne, Lefèvre d'Étaples longed for a more quiet home, where he might reasonably hope to contribute his share to the great renovation descried long since by his prophetic glance. He was now invited by Briçonnet, to whom his learning and zeal were well known, to accompany him to Meaux, where, at the distance of a little more than a score of miles from the capital, he would at least be rid of the perpetual clamor against Luther and his doctrines that assailed his ears in Paris.[140] He was accompanied, or followed, to Meaux by his pupil, Farel. Over the views of the latter a signal change had come since he entered the university, full of veneration for the saints, and an enthusiastic supporter of the mass, of the papal hierarchy, and of every institution authorized by ecclesiastical tradition. After a painful mental struggle, of which he has himself given us a graphic account,[141] Farel had been reluctantly brought to the startling conviction that the system of which he had been an enthusiastic advocate was a tissue of falsehoods and an abomination in God's sight. It required no[Pg 74] more than this to bring a man of so resolute a character to a decision. Partly by his own assiduous application to study, especially of the Greek and Hebrew languages and of the Church Fathers, partly through the influence of Lefèvre, he had become professor of philosophy in the college of the Cardinal Le Moine. This advantageous position he resigned, in order that he might be able to second the labors of Lefèvre in the new field which Bishop Briçonnet had thrown open to him. Other pupils or friends of the Picard doctor followed—Michel d'Arande, Gérard Roussel, and others, all more or less thoroughly imbued with the same sentiments.

The king's mother and sister encourage the preaching of the reformers.

A new era had now dawned upon the neglected diocese of Meaux. Bishop Briçonnet was fully possessed by his new-born zeal. The king's mother and his only sister had honored him with a visit not long after Lefèvre's arrival,[142] and had left him confident that in his projected reforms, and especially in the introduction of the preaching of the Word of God, he might count upon their powerful support. "I assure you," Margaret of Angoulême wrote him a month later, "that the king and madame are entirely decided to let it be understood that the truth of God is not heresy."[143] And a few weeks later the same princely correspondent declared that her mother and brother were "more intent than ever upon the reformation of the church."[144] With such flattering prospects the reformation opened at Meaux.

Immediate results.

From the year 1521, when the ardent friends of religious progress made their appearance in the city, the pulpits, rarely entered by the curates or by the mendicant monks unless to demand a fresh contribution of money, were[Pg 75] filled with zealous preachers. The latter expounded the Gospel, in place of rehearsing the stories of the "Golden Legend;" and the people, at first attracted by the novelty of the sound, were soon enamored of the doctrines proclaimed. These doctrines stood, indeed, in signal opposition to those of the Roman church. By slow but sure steps the advocates of the Reformation had come to assume a position scarcely less unequivocal than that of Luther in Germany. In 1514, two years after the publication of the commentary in which he had clearly enunciated the Protestant doctrine on one cardinal point, Lefèvre would seem still to have been unsurpassed in his devotion to pictures and images.[145] Two years later he was regarded by Luther as strangely deficient in a clear apprehension of spiritual truths which, nevertheless, he fully exemplified in a life of singular spirituality and sincerity.[146] And it was not until 1519 that, by the arguments of his own pupil, Farel, he was convinced of the impropriety of saint-worship and of prayers for the dead.[147] But now there could be no doubt respecting Lefèvre's attitude. Placed by Bishop Briçonnet in charge of the "Léproserie," and subsequently entrusted with the powers of vicar-general over the entire diocese,[148] he exerted an influence not hard to trace. A contemporary, when chronicling, a few years later, that "the greater part of Meaux was infected with the false doctrines of Luther," made the cause of all the trouble to be one Fabry (Lefèvre), a priest and scholar, who rejected pictures from the churches, forbade the use of holy water for the dead, and denied the existence of purgatory.[149]

Gérard Roussel and Mazurier.

The mystic Gérard Roussel, an eloquent speaker, whom the bishop appointed curate of St. Saintin, and subsequently treasurer and canon of the cathedral, was prominent among the new preachers, but was surpassed in exuberant display of zeal by Martial Mazurier, Principal of the[Pg 76] Collége de St. Michel in Paris, who now fulfilled the functions of curate of the church of St. Martin at Meaux.

Apprehension of the monks aroused.
De Roma's threat.

It was not long before the apprehension of the monastic orders was aroused by the great popularity of the new teachers. The wool-carders, weavers, and fullers accepted the novel doctrine with delight as meeting a want which they had discovered in spite of poverty and ignorance. The day-laborers frequenting the neighborhood of Meaux, to aid the farmers in harvest-time, carried back to their more secluded districts the convictions they had obtained, and themselves became efficient agents in the promulgation of the faith elsewhere. If the anticipations of a speedy spread of the reformation throughout France were brilliant in the minds of its early apostles, the determination of its opponents was equally fixed. An incident occurred about this time which might almost be regarded as of prophetic import. Farel, who was present, is our sole informant. On one occasion Lefèvre and a few friends were engaged in conversation with some warm partisans of the old abuses, when the old doctor, warming at the prospect he seemed to behold, exclaimed, "Already the Gospel is winning the hearts of the nobles and of the common people alike! Soon it will spread over all France, and cast down the inventions which the hand of man has set up." "Then," angrily retorted one De Roma, a Dominican monk, "Then I, and others like me, will join in preaching a crusade; and should the king tolerate the proclamation of the Gospel, we shall drive him from his kingdom by means of his own subjects!"[150]

The Dominican friar stood forth at that moment the embodiment of the monastic spirit speaking defiance to the nascent reform. The church of the state, with its rich abbeys and priories, its glorious old cathedrals, and boundless possessions of lands and houses, was not to be resigned without a struggle so terrific as to shake the foundations of the throne itself. The germ of the Guises and the League, with Jacques Clément and[Pg 77] Ravaillac, was already formed, and possessed a prodigious latent vitality.

Briçonnet's activity.

Bishop Briçonnet was himself active in promoting the evangelical work, preaching against the most flagrant abuses, and commending to the confidence of his flock the more eloquent preachers whom he had introduced. The incredible rumor even gained currency that the hot-headed prelate went through his diocese casting down the images and sparing no object of idolatrous worship in the churches.[151] But, however improbable it may be that Briçonnet ever engaged in any such iconoclastic demonstrations, it is a strong Roman Catholic partisan who has preserved the record of this significant warning given by the prelate to his flock, and elicited either by the consciousness of his own moral feebleness, or by a certain vague premonition of danger: "Even should I, your bishop, change my speech and teaching, beware that you change not with me!"[152]

Lefèvre translates the New Testament.

Under Briçonnet's protection Jacques Lefèvre assumed a task less restricted in its influence than preaching, in which he probably took a less active part than his coadjutors. The Bible was a closed book to the common people in France. The learned might familiarize themselves with its contents by a perusal of the Latin Vulgate; but readers acquainted with their mother tongue alone were reduced to the necessity of using a rude version wherein text and gloss were mingled in inextricable confusion, and the Scriptures were made[Pg 78] to countenance the most absurd abuses.[153] The best furnished libraries rarely contained more than a few detached books of the Bible, and these intended for ornament rather than use.[154] Lefèvre resolved, therefore, to apply himself to the translation of the Sacred Scriptures from the Latin Vulgate into the French language. In June, 1523, he published a version of the four gospels, and in the autumn of the same year he gave to the world the rest of the New Testament. Five years later he added a translation of the Old Testament. It was a magnificent undertaking, prompted by a fervent desire to promote the spiritual interests of his countrymen. In its execution, the inaccuracies incident to so novel an enterprise, and the comparative harshness of the style, can readily be forgiven. For, aside from its own merits, the version of Lefèvre d'Étaples formed the basis for the subsequent version of Robert Olivetanus, itself the groundwork of many later translations.

The translation eagerly bought.
Delight of Lefèvre.

Lefèvre and his associates had not erred in anticipating remarkable results from the publication of the Scriptures in the language of the people. The copies of the New Testament no[Pg 79] sooner left the press than they were eagerly bought. They penetrated into obscure hamlets to which no missionary of the "new doctrines" could find access. By the wool-carders of Meaux the prize thus unexpectedly placed within reach was particularly valued. The liberality of Bishop Briçonnet is said to have freely supplied copies to those who were too poor to afford the purchase-money. The prelate introduced the French Scriptures into the churches of Meaux, where the unparalleled innovation of reading the lessons in an intelligible tongue struck the people with amazement. "You can scarcely imagine," wrote the delighted Lefèvre to a distant friend,[155] "with what ardor God is moving the minds of the simple, in some places, to embrace His word since the books of the New Testament have been published in French, though you will justly lament that they have not been scattered more widely among the people. The attempt has been made to hinder the work, under cover of the authority of parliament; but our most generous king has become in this matter the defender of Christ's cause, declaring it to be his pleasure that his kingdom shall hear the word of God freely and without hinderance in the language which it understands. At present, throughout our entire diocese, on feast-days, and especially on Sunday, both the epistle and gospel are read to the people in the vernacular tongue, and the parish priest adds a word of exhortation to the epistle or gospel, or both, at his discretion."

There did, indeed, seem to be amply sufficient ground for the "exultation" expressed by the worthy Picard at the rapid progress of the Reformation throughout Europe and the flattering prospects offered in France itself.[156] Everything seemed for a time to promise success at Meaux. Bishop Briçonnet received with delight the advice of the Swiss and German reformers.[Pg 80] The letters of Œcolampadius, from Basle, in particular so deeply impressed him, that he commissioned Gérard Roussel to read in the French language and explain the meaning of the Pauline Epistles every morning to a promiscuous gathering of persons of both sexes, and chose out the most evangelical preachers to perform similar duty in all the more important places in his diocese.[157]

Enmity of the Franciscans.
Weakness of Bishop Briçonnet.

But the bishop had excited the active enmity of a resolute and suspicious foe. In forbidding the Franciscan monks entrance to any pulpit within his jurisdiction, he had, even before the advent of Lefèvre and the reformed teachers, incurred their violent animosity.[158] The new movement, while arousing their indignation, gave them the opportunity they coveted for invoking the power of the university and of parliament. At first the bishop was bold enough to denounce the doctors of the Sorbonne as Pharisees and false prophets,[159] while in his private correspondence he stigmatized the clergy as "the estate by the coldness of which all the others are frozen,"[160] or even as "that which is the ruin of all the rest."[161] But, frightened by the incessant clamor and attacks of his enemies, he began gradually to waver, and presently lost all courage. In the end he yielded so far as to suffer to be published in his name official documents which were intended to overturn from the foundation the very fabric he had been striving to rear. In one of these, a "Synodal Decree" addressed to the faithful of his diocese,[Pg 81] the bishop was made to condemn the books of Martin Luther, and to denounce Luther himself as one who was plotting the overthrow of "the estate which keeps all the rest in the path of duty."[162] Quite another description of the clergy this from either of the descriptions which he gave to Margaret of Angoulême! The other document was a letter to the clergy of his diocese, warning them against certain preachers "brought in by himself to share his pastoral cares," who, under cover of proclaiming the Gospel, had "dared, in defiance of the evangelical truth, to preach that purgatory does not exist, and that, consequently, we must not pray for the dead, nor invoke the very holy Virgin Mary and the saints."[163]

The precise time of Briçonnet's pusillanimous defection, as marked by the publication of these pastoral letters, is involved in some obscurity; for assuredly the date affixed to the transcripts that have come down to us conflicts too seriously with the well-known facts of history to be accepted as correct.[164]

Later Roman Catholic historians have asserted that the act was a voluntary one; that Briçonnet had never in reality sympathized with the religious views of reformers whom he had invited to Meaux simply because of his admiration for learning; that no sooner did he discover the heretical nature of their teachings than he removed them from the posts to which they had been assigned; and that he spent the residue of his life in the vain endeavor to retrieve the fatal consequences of his mistake.[165] But this view is confirmed by nothing in the prelate's extant correspondence. Everywhere there is evidence that until his courage broke down, Briçonnet was in full accord with the[Pg 82] reformers. His first step may possibly have been justified at the bar of conscience by the plausible suggestion that, since the anger of the Sorbonne had been directed specially against Meaux, the evangelical preachers could be more serviceable elsewhere. But, from the mere withdrawal of support to positive measures of repression, the transition was both natural and speedy.

He is cited to appear before the Parliament.

Unsatisfied by Bishop Briçonnet's merely negative course, the Parliament of Paris at length cited him to appear and answer before a commission consisting of two of its own counsellors. The information thus obtained was next to be submitted to the judges delegated by the Pope, a tribunal of the institution of which an account will be given in another chapter.[166] To this secret investigation Briçonnet objected, and begged to be tried in open court by the entire body of parliament;[167] but his petition was rejected, and his examination proceeded before the inquisitorial commission. What measures were there taken to influence him is not known. To Martial Mazurier, lately an enthusiastic preacher of the "Lutheran" doctrines, who had himself, through fear, receded from his advanced position, the doubtful honor is ascribed of having been prominent in exertions to overcome the prelate's lingering scruples. However this may be, when Briçonnet had given sufficient guarantees to satisfy the Sorbonne that no apprehension need be entertained of a repetition in Meaux of the dangerous experiment of the public instruction of the people in the Holy Scriptures, there was nothing to be gained by his condemnation. He was accordingly acquitted of all charge of heresy, although condemned to pay the sum of two hundred livres as the expense of bringing to trial the "heretics" whom he had himself helped to make such.[168] Hereupon he is said to have[Pg 83] returned to his diocese, and, having convened a synod, to have prohibited, as we have seen, the circulation of Luther's writings, reintroduced the ecclesiastical practices that had been condemned or discarded, and given to the persecution now set on foot his unequivocal sanction.[169]

Dispersion of the reformed teachers.

The teachers whom Briçonnet had so cordially invited to assist him were compelled one by one to abandon Meaux. Among the earliest to leave was Farel.[170] His was no faint heart. If he gave up his activity in Brie, it was only to return to his native Dauphiny, where a young nobleman, Anemond de Coct, and a preacher, Pierre de Sebeville, were among the leading men whose conversion was the fruit of his indefatigable exertions. After a visit to Guyenne, of which little is known, he passed into German Switzerland, and labored successively in Basle, Strasbourg, and Montbéliard.[171]

Annoyances of those who remain.

Lefèvre and Roussel were among the last to withdraw; but, beset with watchful enemies, they found their position neither safe nor comfortable. It was as difficult to maintain a semblance of friendship with an ecclesiastical system which they detested in their hearts, as to refuse their sympathy and support to the persecuted whose opinions they shared without possessing the courage necessary to suffer in attestation of the common faith. Busy informers at one time found evidence, more than warranting the suspicion that Roussel's manuscripts had furnished the material of which scandalous placards defamatory of the Pope were framed.[172] A little later the proctor of the cathedral drew attention to the ir[Pg 84]regular conventicles held in the church itself, every Sunday and feast-day, after Roussel had preached. These "combers, carders, and other persons of the same stamp, unlettered folk,"[173] brought with them books containing the Epistles of St. Paul, the Gospels, and the Psalms, in flagrant disregard of the prohibitions they had heard respecting the discussion of such topics as faith, the sacraments, the privileges of Rome, and the use of pictures in the churches. It was made the occasion of "charitable rebuke" and then of formal complaint against Roussel by his fellow canons, that he failed to repeat the angelic salutation, according to the orthodox practice, after the exordium of his sermon. To the combined exhortations and threats of his accusers Roussel replied in the chapter that, if he had done wrong, it belonged to the bishop to reprove him, but that as to himself he esteemed the repetition of the Lord's Prayer quite as efficacious as the recital of the Ave Maria.[174]

Lefèvre and Roussel take refuge in Strasbourg.
Excessive caution of Roussel.

At last danger thickened, and Lefèvre and Roussel found themselves forced to leave Meaux (October, 1525), and sought refuge within the hospitable walls of Strasbourg; for the persecuting measures adopted by the regent, Louise de Savoie, and the Parliament of Paris, during the king's captivity, as we shall shortly see, had placed the lives of even such prudent reformers in peril.[175] In the free city on the banks of the Rhine, Lefèvre met his pupil Farel, and in the midst of cordial greetings was reminded by him that the day of "renovation" which he had long since predicted and desired had really come.[176] But the contrast between the two men had become sharply drawn. The fearless athlete, soon to measure his strength with no puny antagonists at Neufchâtel, Lausanne, Geneva, and so many other places in French[Pg 85] Switzerland, whose course was to be a succession of rough encounters, discovered that the master from whom he had received the impulse that shaped his entire life, shrank from sundering the last link binding him to the Roman church. And Gérard Roussel was even more timid. The elegant preacher, with fair prospects of preferment, could not bring himself openly to espouse the quarrel of oppressed truth. A mysticism investing his entire belief, and perverting his moral perceptions, led him to imagine that the heart might be kept pure in the midst of many external corruptions, and that the enlightened could worship the Almighty acceptably in spite of superstitious observances, which, while countenancing by apparent acquiescence, they rejected in their hearts. The excellence of the reformation already inaugurated at Strasbourg made a deep and very favorable impression upon Roussel. He wrote to Bishop Briçonnet that the daily preaching of a pure doctrine, "without dross or leaven of the Pharisees,"[177] the crowds of attentive hearers, the schools presided over by men as illustrious for piety as for letters, and the careful provision for the poor, would delight his correspondent were he to see them. He did not dissemble his own great satisfaction that the monasteries had been changed into educational establishments, the pictures taken away from the churches, and every altar removed except one, on which the communion was celebrated, as nearly as possible, according to the plan of its institution.[178] At the same time he renounced none of his excessive caution. His words were still those he had uttered when urged, a twelvemonth earlier, by Farel, Œcolampadius, and Zwingle, to strike out boldly and by an open dispute on religion compel the attention of the thoughtless world. "The flesh is weak! As my friends, Lefèvre and others, urge, the convenient season has not yet come, the Gospel has not yet been scattered sufficiently far and wide. We must not assume the Lord's prerogative for sending laborers into the harvest, but leave[Pg 86] the work to Him whose it is, and who can easily raise up a far richer harvest than that for whose safety we are solicitous!"[179]

Such were the paltry evasions of cowardly souls, to excuse themselves for the neglect of admitted duty. We cannot wonder at the burning words of condemnation which this pusillanimity called forth from the pen of brave Pierre Toussain. "I have spoken to Lefèvre and Roussel," he wrote some months later, "but certainly Lefèvre has not a particle of courage. May God confirm and strengthen him! Let them be as wise as they please, let them wait, procrastinate, and dissemble; the Gospel will never be preached without the cross! When I see these things, when I see the mind of the king, the mind of the duchess [Margaret of Angoulême] as favorable as possible to the advancement of the Gospel of Christ, and those who ought to forward this matter, according to the grace given them, obstructing their design, I cannot refrain from tears. They say, indeed: 'It is not yet time, the hour has not come!' And yet we have here no day or hour. What would not you do had you the Emperor and Ferdinand favoring your attempts? Entreat God, therefore, in behalf of France, that she may at length be worthy of His word."[180]

The remainder of the task imposed on the weak Bishop of Meaux and his new allies, the monks of St. Francis, proved a more difficult undertaking. The shepherds had been dispersed, but the flock refused to forsake the fold. From the nourishing food they had discovered in the Word of God, they could not be induced to return to the husks offered to them in meaningless ceremonies, celebrated in an unknown tongue by men of impure lives. The Gospels in French remained more attractive[Pg 87] than the legendary, even after the bishop had abandoned the championship of the incipient reformation. Briçonnet's own expressed wish was granted: if he had "changed his speech and teaching," the common people, at least, had not changed with him.

The wool-carder, Jean Leclerc, tears down a papal bull.
His barbarous sentence.

Among the first fruits of the Reformation in Meaux was a wool-carder, Jean Leclerc, into whose hands had fallen one of Lefèvre's French Testaments. He was a man of strong convictions and invincible resolution. A bull, issued by Clement the Seventh in connection with the approaching jubilee, had been posted on the doors of the cathedral (December, 1524). It offered indulgence, and enjoined prayers, fasting, and partaking of the Communion, in order to obtain from heaven the restoration of peace between princes of Christendom. Leclerc secretly tore the bull down, substituting for it a placard in which the Roman pontiff figured as veritable Antichrist. Diligent search was at once instituted for the perpetrator of this offence, and for the author of the subsequent mutilation of the prayers to the Virgin hung up in various parts of the same edifice. A truculent order was also issued in the bishop's name, threatening all persons that might conceal their knowledge of the culprits with public excommunication, every Sunday and feast-day, "with ringing of bells and with candles lighted and then extinguished and thrown upon the earth, in token of eternal malediction."[181] Leclerc was discovered, and taken to Paris for trial. The barbarous sentence of parliament was, that he be whipped in Paris by the common executioner on three successive days, then transferred to Meaux to receive the like punishment, and finally branded on the forehead with a red-hot iron, before being banished forever from the kingdom.[182][Pg 88]

The cruel prescription was followed out to the letter (March, 1525). A superstitious multitude flocked together to see and gloat over the condign punishment of a heretic, and gave no word of encouragement and support. But, as the iron was leaving on Leclerc's brow the ignominious imprint of the fleur-de-lis,[183] a single voice suddenly broke in upon the silence. It was that of his aged mother, who, after an involuntary cry of anguish, quickly recovered herself and shouted, "Hail Jesus Christ and his standard-bearers!"[184] Although many heard her words, so deep was the impression, that no attempt was made to lay hands upon her.[185]

He is burned alive at Metz.

From Meaux, Leclerc, forced to leave his home, retired first to Rosoy, and thence to Metz.[186] Here, while supporting himself by working at his humble trade, he lost none of his missionary spirit. Not content with communicating a knowledge of the doctrines of the Reformation to all with whom he conversed, his impatient zeal led him to a new and startling protest against the prevalent, and, in his view, idolatrous worship of images. Learning that on a certain day a solemn procession was to be made to a shrine situated a few miles out of the city gates, he went to the spot under cover of night, and hurled the sacred images from their places. On the morrow the horrified worshippers found the objects of their devotion prostrated and mutilated, and their rage knew no bounds. It was not long before the wool-carder was apprehended. His religious sentiments were no secret, and he had been seen returning from the scene of his nocturnal exploit. He promptly acknowledged his guilt,[Pg 89] and was rescued from the infuriated populace only to undergo a more terrible doom at the hands of the public executioner (July 22, 1525). His right hand was cut off at the wrist, his arms, his nose, his breast were cruelly torn with pincers; but no cry of anguish escaped the lips of Leclerc. The sentence provided still further that, before his body should be consigned to the flames, his head be encircled with a red-hot band of iron. As the fervent metal slowly ate its way toward his very brain, the bystanders with amazement heard the dying man calmly repeat the words of Holy Writ: "Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands." He had not completed the Psalmist's terrific denunciation of the crime and folly of image-worship when his voice was stifled by the fire and smoke of the pyre into which his impatient tormentors had hastily thrown him. If not actually the first martyr of the French Reformation, as has commonly been supposed, Jean Leclerc deserves, at least, to rank among the most constant and unswerving of its early apostles.[187]

Jacques Pauvan.

The poor wool-carder of Meaux was succeeded by more illustrious victims. One was of the number of the teachers who had been attracted to Bishop Briçonnet's diocese by the prospect of contributing to the progress of a purer doctrine. Jacques Pauvan[188] was a studious youth who had come from Boulogne, in Picardy, to perfect his education in the university, and had subsequently abandoned a career in which he bade fair to obtain distinction, in order to assist his admired teacher, Lefèvre, at Meaux. He was an outspoken man, and[Pg 90] disguised his opinions on no point of the prevailing controversy. He asserted that purgatory had no existence, and that God had no vicar. He repudiated excessive reliance on the doctors of the church. He indignantly rejected the customary salutation to the Virgin Mary, "Hail Queen, Mother of mercy!" He denied the propriety of offering candles to the saints. He maintained that baptism was only a sign, that holy water was nothing, that papal bulls and indulgences were an imposture of the devil, and that the mass was not only of no avail for the remission of sins, but utterly unprofitable to the hearer, while the Word of God was all-sufficient.[189]

Pauvan was put under arrest, and his theses, together with the defence of their contents which one Matthieu Saunier was so bold as to write, were submitted to the Sorbonne. Its condemnation was not long withheld. "A work," said the Paris theologians, "containing propositions extracted and compiled from the pernicious errors of the Waldenses, Wickliffites, Bohemians, and Lutherans, being impious, scandalous, schismatic, and wholly alien from the Christian doctrine, ought publicly to be consigned to the flames in the diocese of Meaux, whence it emanated. And Jacques Pauvan and Matthieu Saunier should, by all judicial means, be compelled to make a public recantation."[190]

Even strong men have their moments of weakness. Pauvan was no exception to the rule. Besides the terrors of the stake, the persuasions of Martial Mazurier came in to shake his constancy. This latter, a doctor of theology, had at one time been so carried away with the desire of innovation as to hurl down a statue of their patron saint standing at the door of the monastery of the Franciscans. He had now, as we have already seen, become the favorite instrument in effecting abjurations similar[Pg 91] to his own. His suggestions prevailed over Pauvan's convictions.[191] The young scholar consented to obey the Sorbonne's demand. The faculty's judgment had been pronounced on the ninth of December, 1525; a fortnight later, on the morrow of Christmas day—a favorite time for striking displays of this kind—Pauvan publicly retracted his "errors," and made the usual "amende honorable," clad only in a shirt, and holding a lighted taper in his hand.[192]

He is burned on the Place de Grève.

If Pauvan's submission secured him any peace, it was a short-lived peace. Tortured by conscience, he soon betrayed his mental anguish by sighs and groans. Again he was drawn from the prison, where he had been confined since his abjuration,[193] and subjected to new interrogatories. With the opportunity to vindicate his convictions, his courage and cheerfulness returned. As a relapsed heretic, no fate could be in store for him but death at the stake, and this he courageously met on the Place de Grève.[194] But the holocaust was inauspicious for those who with this victim hoped to annihilate the "new doctrines." Before mounting the huge pyre heaped up to receive him, Pauvan was thoughtlessly permitted to speak; and so persuasive were his words that it was an[Pg 92] enemy's exclamation that "it had been better to have cost the church a million of gold, than that Pauvan had been suffered to speak to the people."[195]

The hermit of Livry.

Scarcely more encouraging to the advocates of persecution was the scene in the area in front of Notre-Dame de Paris, when, at the sound of the great cathedral bell, an immense crowd was gathered to witness the execution of an obscure person, known to us only as "the hermit of Livry"—a hamlet on the road to Meaux. With such unshaken fortitude did he encounter the flames, that the astonished spectators were confidently assured by their spiritual advisers that he was one of the damned who was being led to the fires of hell.[196]

Bishop Briçonnet becomes the jailer of the "Lutherans."

Where less rigor was deemed necessary, the penalty for having embraced the reformed tenets was reduced to imprisonment for a term of years, often with bread and water for the only food and drink. The place of confinement was sometimes a monastery, at other times the "prisons of Monseigneur the Bishop of Meaux."[197] Thus Briçonnet enjoyed the rare and exquisite privilege of acting as jailer of unfortunates instructed by himself in the doctrines for the profession of which they now suffered! Meantime their companions having escaped detection, although deprived of the advantage of public worship, continued for years to assemble for mutual encouragement and edification, as they had opportunity, in private houses, in retired valleys or caverns, or in thickets and woods. Their minister was that person of[Pg 93] their own number who was seen to be the best versed in the Holy Scriptures. After he had discharged his functions in the humble service, by a simple address of instruction or exhortation, the entire company with one voice supplicated the Almighty for His blessing, and returned to their homes with fervent hopes for the speedy conversion of France to the Gospel.[198] Thus matters stood for about a score of years, until a fresh attempt was made to constitute a reformed church at Meaux, the signal, as will appear in the sequel, for a fresh storm of persecution.

Lefèvre's subsequent history.

A few words here seem necessary respecting the subsequent fortunes of the venerable teacher whose name at this point fades from the history of the French Reformation. The action of parliament (August 28, 1525), in condemning, at the instigation of the syndic of the theological faculty, nine propositions extracted from his commentary on the Gospels, and in forbidding the circulation of his translation of the Holy Scriptures, had given Lefèvre d'Étaples due warning of danger. We have already seen that a few weeks later (October, 1525) he had taken refuge in Strasbourg under the pseudonym of Antonius Peregrinus. But the incognito of so distinguished a stranger could not be long maintained, and before many days the very boys in the streets knew him by his true name.[199] Meantime the Sorbonne, in his absence, proceeded to censure a large number of propositions drawn from another of Lefèvre's works. Shortly after a letter was received from Francis the First, written in his captivity at Madrid, and enjoining the court to suspend its vexatious persecution of a man "of such great and good renown, and of so holy a life," until the king's return. The refractory judges, however, neglected to obey the order, and continued the proceedings instituted against Lefèvre.[200][Pg 94]

Lefèvre and the Nuncio Aleander.

When, however, Francis succeeded in regaining his liberty, a year later, he not only recalled Lefèvre and his companion, Roussel, from exile, but conferred upon the former the honorable appointment of tutor to his two daughters and his third and favorite son, subsequently known as Charles, Duke of Orleans.[201] This post, while it enabled him to continue the prosecution of his biblical studies, also gave him the opportunity of instilling into the minds of his pupils some views favorable to the Reformation.[202] A little later Margaret of Angoulême secured for Lefèvre the position of librarian of the royal collection of books at Blois; but, as even here he was subjected to much annoyance from his enemies, Margaret, now Queen of Navarre, sought and obtained from her brother permission to take the old scholar with her to Nérac, in Gascony.[203] Here, in the ordinary residence of his patron, and treated by the King of Navarre with marked consideration, Lefèvre d'Étaples was at last safe from molestation. The papal party did not, indeed, despair of gaining him over. The Nuncio Aleander, in a singular letter exhumed not long since from the Vatican records, expressed himself strongly in favor of putting forth the effort. Lefèvre's "few errors" had at first appeared to be of great moment, because published at a time when to correct or change the most insignificant syllable, or a faulty rendering, in the ancient translations of the Holy Scriptures approved by the church, was an unheard-of innovation. But, now that more important questions had come up to arrest attention,[Pg 95] the mere matter of retranslation, without introducing unsound doctrine, seemed to be a thing of little or no consequence.[204] Let Lefèvre but leave the heretical company which he kept, and let him make the least bit of a retraction respecting some few passages in his works, and the whole affair would at once be arranged.[205]

Lefèvre's mental suffering.

The reconciliation of Lefèvre with the church did not take place. The "bit of a retraction" was never written. But none the less are Lefèvre's last days reported to have been disturbed by harassing thoughts. The noble old man, who had consecrated to the translation of the Bible and to exegetical comment upon its books the energy of many years, and who had suffered no little obloquy in consequence, could not forgive himself that he had not come forward more manfully in defence of the truth. One day, not long before his death, it is said, while seated at the table of the King and Queen of Navarre, he was observed to be overcome with emotion. When Margaret expressed her surprise at the gloomy deportment of one whose society she had sought for her own diversion, Lefèvre mournfully exclaimed, "How can I contribute to the pleasure of others, who am myself the greatest sinner upon earth?" In reply to the questions called forth by so unexpected a confession, Lefèvre, while admitting that throughout his long life his morals had been exemplary, and that he was conscious of no flagrant crime against society, proceeded, in words frequently interrupted by sobs, to explain his deep penitence: "How shall I, who have taught others the purity of the Gospel, be able to stand at God's tribunal? Thousands have suffered and died for the defence of the truth in which I instructed them; and I, unfaithful shepherd that I am, after attaining so advanced an age, when I ought to love[Pg 96] nothing less than I do life—nay, rather, when I ought to desire death—I have basely avoided the martyr's crown, and have betrayed the cause of my God!" It was with difficulty that the queen and others who were present succeeded in allaying the aged scholar's grief.[206]

The "anguish of spirit and terror of God's judgment experienced by so pious an old man as Lefèvre," because he had concealed the truth which he ought openly to have espoused, supplied an instructive warning for his even more timid disciples. Farel, who never lacked courage, was not slow to avail himself of it. Taking advantage of the freedom of an old associate, he addressed a letter containing an account of Lefèvre's death, with some serious admonitions, to Michel d'Arande, who never venturing to separate from a church whose corruptions he acknowledged, had reached the position of Bishop of Saint Paul-Trois-Châteaux, in Dauphiny. The letter has perished, but the reply in which the prelate's dejection and internal conflicts but too plainly appear, has seen the light after a burial of three[Pg 97] centuries. Admitting the guilt of his course, the bishop begs the intrepid reformer to pray for him continually, and meanwhile not to withhold his friendly exhortations, that at length the writer may be able to extricate himself from the deep mire in which he finds no firm foundation to stand upon.[207]

Such was the unhappy state of mind to which many good, but irresolute men were reduced, who, in view of the persecution certain to follow an open avowal of their reformatory sentiments, endeavored to persuade themselves that it was permissible to conceal them under a thin veil of external conformity to the rites of the Roman church.

Fortunes of Gérard Roussel.

Gérard Roussel, the most distinguished representative of this class of mystics, was appointed by the Queen of Navarre to be her preacher and confessor, and promoted successively to be Abbot of Clairac and Bishop of Oléron. Yet he remained, to his death, a sincere friend of the Reformation. Occasionally, at least, he preached its doctrines with tolerable distinctness; as, for instance, in the Lenten discourses delivered by him, in conjunction with Courault and Bertault, before the French court in the Louvre (1532). In his writings he was still more outspoken. Some of them might have been written not only by a reformer, but by a disciple of Calvin, so sharply drawn were the doctrinal expositions.[208] Meanwhile, in his own diocese he set forth the example of a faithful pastor. Even so bitter an enemy of Protestantism as Florimond[Pg 98] de Ræmond, contrasting Roussel's piety with the worldliness of the sporting French bishops of the period, is forced to admit that his pack of hounds was the crowd of poor men and women whom he daily fed, his horses and attendants a host of children whom he caused to be instructed in letters.[209]

And yet, Gérard Roussel's half measures, while failing to conciliate the adherents of the Roman church, alienated from him the sympathies of the reformers; for they saw in his conduct a weakness little short of entire apostasy. More modern Roman Catholic writers, for similar reasons, deny that Roussel was ever at heart a friend of the Reformation.[210] Not so, however, thought the fanatics of his own time. While the Bishop of Oléron was one day declaiming, in a church of his diocese, against the excessive multiplication of feasts, the pulpit in which he stood was suddenly overturned, and the preacher hurled with violence to the ground. The catastrophe was the premeditated act of a religious zealot, who had brought with him into the sacred place an axe concealed under his cloak. The fall proved fatal to Gérard Roussel, who is said to have expressed on his death-bed similar regrets to those which had disturbed the last hours of Lefèvre d'Étaples. As for the murderer, although arrested and tried by the Parliament of Bordeaux, he was in the end acquitted, on the ground that he had performed a meritorious act, or, at most, committed a venial offence, in ridding the world of so dangerous a heretic as the Bishop of Oléron.[211]

[Pg 99]



Francis I. and his sister.
The portrait of the king.

Francis the First and his sister, Margaret of Angoulême, were destined to exercise so important an influence in shaping the history of the French Reformation during the first half of the sixteenth century, that a glance at their personal history and character seems indispensable. Francis Was in his twenty-first year when, by the extinction of the elder line of the house of Orleans, the crown came to him as the nearest heir of Louis the Twelfth.[212] He was tall, but well proportioned, of a fair complexion, with a body capable of enduring without difficulty great exposure and fatigue. In an extant portrait, taken five years later, he is delineated with long hair and scanty beard. The drooping lids give to his eyes a languid expression, while the length of his nose, which earned him the sobriquet of "le roi au long nez," redeems his physiognomy from any approach to heaviness.[213] On the other hand, the Venetian Marino Cavalli, writing shortly before the close of his reign, eulogizes the personal appearance of Francis, at that time more than fifty years old. His mien was so right royal, we are assured, that even a foreigner, never having seen him before, would single him out from any company and instinctively exclaim, "This is the king!" No ruler of the day surpassed him in gravity and nobility of bearing. Well did he deserve to succeed that long line of monarchs upon each of whom the sacred oil, applied at his coronation in the cathe[Pg 100]dral of Rheims, had conferred the marvellous property of healing the king's-evil by a simple touch.[214]

His character and tastes.

At his accession, the lively imagination of Francis, fed upon the romances of chivalry that constituted his favorite reading, called up the picture of a brilliant future, wherein gallant deeds in arms should place him among the most renowned knights of Christendom. The ideal character he proposed for himself involving a certain regard for his word, Francis's mind revolted from imitating the plebeian duplicity of his wily predecessor, Louis the Eleventh—a king who enjoyed the undesirable reputation of never having made a promise which he intended in good faith to keep. The memory of the disingenuous manner in which Louis, by winking at the opposition of the Parliament of Paris, had suffered the revocation of the Pragmatic Sanction to fail, in spite of his own solemn engagements to carry it into execution, was, undoubtedly, one of the leading motives inducing the young prince, at the very beginning of his reign, to adopt the arbitrary measures already spoken of in a preceding chapter, respecting the papal concordat. Not for half his kingdom, he repeatedly declared, would he break the pledge he had given his Holiness. It is not difficult, however, to reconcile the pertinacity of Francis, on this occasion, with the frequent and well authenticated instances of bad faith in his dealings with other monarchs.[Pg 101]

If his literary abilities were slender and his acquirements meagre, this king had at least the faculty of appreciating excellence in others. The scholars and wits whom, as we have seen, he succeeded in gathering about him, repaid his munificence with lavish praise, couched in all manner of verse, and in every language employed in the civilized world. Even later historians have not hesitated to rate him much higher than his very moderate abilities would seem to warrant.[215] The portrait drawn by the biographer of his imperial rival is, perhaps, full as advantageous as a regard for truth will permit us to accept. "Francis," says Robertson, "notwithstanding the many errors conspicuous in his foreign policy and domestic administration, was nevertheless humane, beneficent, generous. He possessed dignity without pride, affability free from meanness, and courtesy exempt from deceit. All who had access to him, and no man of merit was ever denied that privilege, respected and loved him. Captivated with his personal qualities, his subjects forgot his defects as a monarch, and, admiring him as the most accomplished and amiable gentleman in his dominions, they hardly murmured at acts of maladministration, which, in a prince of less engaging dispositions, would have seemed unpardonable."[216]

Contrast between Francis I. and Charles V.

Two monarchs could scarcely be more dissimilar than were Francis and the Emperor Charles. "So great is the difference between these two princes," says the Venetian Giustiniano, "that, as her most serene majesty the Queen of Navarre, the king's sister, remarked to me when talking on the subject, one of the two must needs be created anew by God after the pattern of the other, before they could agree. For, whilst the most Christian king is reluctant to assume the burden of great thoughts or undertakings, and devotes himself much to the chase or to his own pleasures, the emperor never thinks of anything but business and aggrandize[Pg 102]ment; and, whereas the most Christian king is simple, open, and very liberal, and quite sufficiently inclined to defer to the judgment and counsel of others, the emperor is reserved, parsimonious, and obstinate in his opinions, governing by himself, rather than through any one else."[217]

This diversity of temperament and disposition had ample scope for manifestation during the protracted wars waged by the two monarchs with each other. Fit representative of the race to which he belonged, Francis was bold, adventurous, and almost resistless in the impetuosity of a first assault. But he soon tired of his undertakings, and relinquished to the cooler and more calculating Charles the solid fruits of victory.[218]

Francis's religious convictions.

Of the possession of deep religious convictions I do not know that Francis has left any satisfactory evidence. That he was not strongly attached to the Roman church, that he thoroughly despised the ignorant monks, whose dissolute lives he well knew, that he had no extraordinary esteem for the Pope, all this is clear enough from many incidents of his life. It would even appear that, at one or two points, he might have been pleased to witness such a reformation of the church as could be effected without disturbing the existing order. To this he was the more inclined, that he found almost all the men distinguished for their learning arrayed on the side of the "new doctrines," as they were styled, while the pretorian legion of the papacy was headed by the opponents of letters.

His fear of innovation.

It will be found, however, that several circumstances tended to counteract or reverse the king's favorable prepossessions. Not least influential was a pernicious sentiment studiously instilled in his mind by those whose material interests were all on the side of the maintenance of the existing[Pg 103] system—that a change of religion necessarily involves a change of government. We shall hear much during the century of this lying political axiom. When Francis, in his irritation at the Pope, suggested, on one occasion, to the Nuncio, that he might be compelled to follow the example Henry the Eighth, of England, had set him, and permit the spread of the "Lutheran" religion in France, the astute prelate replied: "Sire, to speak with all frankness, you would be the first to repent your rash step. Your loss would be greater than the Pope's; for a new religion established in the midst of a people involves nothing short of a change of prince."[219] And the same author that records this incident tells us that Francis hated the Lutheran "heresy," and used to say that this, like every other new sect, tended more to the destruction of kingdoms than to the edification of souls.[220] Nor must it be overlooked that Francis doubtless felt strongly confirmed in his persuasion, by the rash and disorderly acts of some restless and inconsiderate spirits such as are wont eagerly to embrace any new belief. Not the peasants' insurrections in Germany alone, but as well the excesses of the iconoclasts, and the imprudence of the authors of the famous placards of 1534, although their acts were distinctly repudiated by the vast majority of the French reformers, inflicted irretrievable damage, by furnishing plausible arguments to those who accused the Protestants of being authors or abettors of riot and confusion.

His loose morals.

A second reason of the early estrangement of Francis from the "new doctrines" has more frequently been overlooked. The rigid code of morals which the reformers established, and which John Calvin attempted to make in Geneva the law of the state, repelled a prince who, though twice married and both times to women devoted to his interests and faithful to their vows, treated his lawful wives with open neglect, and preferred to consort with perfidious mistresses, who[Pg 104] sold to the enemy for money his confidential disclosures—a prince who, not satisfied with introducing excesses until then unheard of among his nobles, was not ashamed to bestow the royal bounty upon the professed head of the degraded women whom he allowed to accompany the court from place to place.[221]

His anxiety to obtain the support of the Pope.

If to these two motives we add a third—the desire of the king to avail himself of the important influence of the Roman pontiff upon the politics of Europe—we shall be at no loss to account for the singular fact that the brother of Margaret of Angoulême, in spite of his sister's entreaties and the promptings of his own better feeling—at times in defiance of his own manifest advantage—became during the later part of his reign the first of that long line of persecutors of whom the Huguenots were the unhappy victims.

Studious disposition of Margaret.

Margaret was two years older than her brother. Born April 11, 1492, in the city of Angoulême, she enjoyed, in common with Francis, all the opportunities of liberal culture afforded by her exalted station. These opportunities her keener intellect enabled her to improve far better than the future king. While Francis was indulging his passion for the chase, in company with Robert de la Marck, "the Boar of the Ardennes," Margaret was patiently applying herself to study. It is not always easy to determine how much is to be set down as truth, and how much belongs to the category of fiction, in the current stories of the scholarly attainments of princely personages. But there is good reason in the present case to believe that, unlike most of the ladies of her age that were reputed prodigies of learning, Margaret of Angoulême did not confine herself to the modern languages, but became pro[Pg 105]ficient in Latin, besides acquiring some notion of Greek and Hebrew. By extensive reading, and through intercourse with the best living masters of the French language, she made herself a graceful writer. She was, moreover, a poet of no mean pretensions, as her verses, often comparing favorably with those of Clément Marot, abundantly testify. It was, however, to the higher walks of philosophical and religious thought that Margaret felt most strongly drawn. Could implicit credit be given to the partial praises of her professed eulogist, Charles de Sainte-Marthe, who owed his escape from the stake to her powerful intercession, we might affirm that the contemplation of the sublime truths of Revelation early influenced her entire character, and that "the Spirit of God began then to manifest His presence in her eyes, her expression, her walk, her conversation—in a word, in all her actions."[222]

Her personal appearance.

But, whatever may have been the precocious virtues of Margaret at the age of fifteen, it is certain that when, by her brother's elevation to the throne, she was introduced to the foremost place at court, it was her remarkable qualities of heart, quite as much as her recognized mental abilities, that called forth universal admiration. Her personal appearance, it is true, was a favorite subject for the encomium of poets; but her portraits fail to justify their panegyrics, and convey no impression of beauty. The features are large, the nose as conspicuously long as her brother's; yet the sweetness of expression, upon which Marot is careful chiefly to dwell in one of his elegant poetical epistles, is not less noticeable.[223][Pg 106]

Her political Influence.

In the conduct of public affairs Margaret took no insignificant part. Francis was accustomed so uniformly to entrust his mother and sister with important state secrets, that to the powerful council thus firmly united by filial and fraternal ties the term "Trinity" was applied, not only by the courtiers, but by the royal family itself.[224] Foreign diplomatists extolled Margaret's intelligent statesmanship, and asserted that she was consulted on every occasion.[225] It is a substantial claim of Margaret to the respect of posterity, that the influence thus enjoyed was, apparently, never prostituted to the advancement of selfish ends, but constantly exerted in the interest of learning, humanity, and religious liberty.

Margaret was first married, in 1509, to the Duke of Alençon, a prince whose cowardice on the battle-field of Pavia (1525), where he commanded the French left wing, is said to have been the principal cause of the defeat and capture of his royal brother-in-law. He made good his own escape, only to die, at Lyons, of disease induced by exposure and aggravated by bitter mortification. The next two years were spent by Margaret in unremitting efforts to secure her brother's release. With this object in view she obtained from the emperor a safe-conduct enabling her to visit and console Francis in his imprisonment at Madrid, and endeavor to settle with his captor the terms of his ransom. But, while admiring her sisterly devotion, Charles showed little disposition to yield to her solicitations. In fact, he even issued an order to seize her person the moment the term of her safe-conduct should expire—a peril avoided by the duchess only by forced marches. As it was, she crossed the frontier, it is said, a single hour before the critical time. The motive of this signal breach of imperial courtesy[Pg 107] was, doubtless, the well-founded belief that Margaret was bearing home to France a royal abdication in favor of the Dauphin.[226]

Margaret marries Henry of Navarre.

Early in 1527, Margaret was married with great pomp to Henri d'Albret, King of Navarre.[227] The match would seem to have been prompted by love and admiration on her side; for the groom had performed a romantic exploit in effecting his escape from prison after his capture at Pavia.[228] In spite of the great disparity between the ages of Margaret and her husband,[229] the union was congenial, and added greatly to the power and resources of the latter. The duchies of Alençon and Berry more than equalled in extent the actual domain of the King of Navarre; for, from the time when Ferdinand the Catholic (in July, 1512) wrested from brave Catharine of Foix and her inefficient husband John[230] all their possessions on the southern slope of the Pyrenees,[231] the authority[Pg 108] of the titular monarch was respected only in the mountainous district of which Pau was the capital, and to which the names of Béarn or French Navarre are indifferently applied. The union thus auspiciously begun lasted, unbroken by domestic contention, until the death of Margaret, in 1549;[232] and the pompous ceremonial attending the queen's obsequies is said to have been a sincere attestation of the universal sorrow affecting the King of Navarre and his subjects alike.

She corresponds with Bishop Briçonnet.

It was through the instrumentality of the Bishop of Meaux that Margaret of Angoulême was first drawn into sympathy with the reformatory movement. Unsatisfied with herself and with the influences surrounding her, she sought in Briçonnet a spiritual adviser and guide. The prelate, in the abstruse and almost unintelligible language of exaggerated mysticism, endeavored to fulfil the trust. His prolix correspondence still exists in manuscript in the National Library of Paris, together with the replies of his royal penitent. Its incomprehensibility may perhaps forever preclude the publication of the greater part;[233] but we can readily forgive the bishop's absurdities and far-fetched conceits, when we find him in his letters leading Margaret to the Holy Scriptures as the only source of spiritual strength, and enjoining a humble and docile reception of its teachings.

Luther's teachings condemned by the Sorbonne.

On the fifteenth of April, 1521, the University of Paris, whose opinion respecting Luther's tenets the entire Christian world had for two years been anxiously expecting, pronounced its solemn decision. It condemned the writings of the German monk to the flames, on the ground that they were seductive, insulting to the hierarchy,[Pg 109] contrary to Scripture, and schismatic. It likened his latest production, De Captivitate Babylonica, to Alcoran. It branded as preposterous the notion that God had reserved the discovery of what is needful to the salvation of the faithful for Martin Luther to make; as though Christ had left his spouse, the Church, so many centuries, and until now, in the darkness and blindness of error. Such sentiments as he uttered were a denial of the first principles of the faith, an unblushing profession of impiety, an arrogance so impious that it must be repressed by chains and censures—nay, by fire and by flame, rather than refuted by argument.[234] A long list of heretical propositions selected from Luther's works was appended.[235]

Melanchthon's defence.

In the month of June following, Melanchthon replied to the Sorbonne's condemnation. He declared that, could the great Gerson and his illustrious associates and predecessors rise from the dead, they would fail to recognize in the present race of theologians their legitimate offspring, and that they would deplore the misfortune of the university as well as of the whole of Christendom, in that sophists had usurped the place of theologians, and slanderers the seat of Christian doctors. As for the silly letter prefixed to the decree, the reformer wrote, it is a feeble production full of womanish fury: "He pretends to the sole possession of wisdom. He contemns us. He is a Manichæan, a Montanist; he is mad. Let him be compelled by fire and flame." Who could refrain from derisive laughter at the unmanly and truly monkish weakness of such threats?[236]

Regency of Louise de Savoie.

In the summer of 1523 the king, in order to provide for the government of France during his expected absence from the capital, appointed his mother temporary regent—a dignity which Louise de Savoie enjoyed more than once during Francis's reign. The chancellor, Antoine Duprat, embraced the opportunity to persuade the queen mother[Pg 110] that she could not better atone for the irregularities of her own life than by enforcing submission to the authority of the papal church. What causes had contributed to the very radical change apparently effected in her mental attitude to the established ecclesiastical system, since she had in the preceding December discovered the monks, of whatever color their cowl might be, to be arrant "hypocrites" and the most "dangerous generation of human kind"—if, indeed, any such change in her mental attitude had really taken place at all, and her present zeal was not altogether assumed from political motives—we have not the means of determining with certainty. However this may be, she was now induced to take a much more decided stand than Francis had ever taken in opposition to the reformed doctrines, of whose spread, not only in Meaux and other cities in the provinces, but even in Paris, both in the schools of learning and without, there began to be symptoms alarming to the hierarchy.

The Sorbonne's recommendations for the extirpation of heresy.

As a preliminary step, the regent sent her confessor, Friar Gilbert Nicolai, to the Sorbonne, with instructions to consult it respecting "the means to be employed for purging this very Christian realm of the damnable doctrine of Luther." It need scarcely be said that the message was received with great delight. The theological doctors soon replied, rendering thanks to Almighty God for having inspired Louise with the holy purpose of executing whatever might be found most likely to promote God's honor and the prosperity of France.[237] What measures did they propose to her as best calculated to accomplish this laudable end? Sermons, disputations, books, and other scholastic means, they write, may be employed in the refutation of the errors of Luther, as indeed they are every day employed, at the Sorbonne's instigation, and from this instrumentality some good effects may be expected; but since, after all, neither sermons nor books, however learned and conclusive, compel any person to renounce his heretical views, more practical and coercive measures must be adopted if the object is to be attained. All[Pg 111] royal officers must be enjoined strictly to enforce every order promulgated against heretics. The prelates must be urged to demand, on pain of excommunication, the surrender of all books of Luther or his supporters found in their dioceses. Meanwhile, the highest ecclesiastical censures are to be directed against those who in any way uphold the heterodox belief. It is only in this way that hope can reasonably be entertained of suppressing this pernicious innovation, which may yet inflict still greater evils upon unfortunate France; since the Scriptures tell us that pestilence, famine, and war served as a rod for the punishment of God's chosen nation of old, whenever it forsook the pure precepts of the law given by the Almighty.

In reply to another inquiry made by the regent at the same time, the Sorbonne enters into greater detail. If any one complains that he is unjustly accused of favoring the heresy that has recently appeared, let him clear himself by following St. Paul's example, who, when brought to the knowledge of the truth, instantly undertook the defence of what he had ignorantly persecuted. Rumors that some persons in high places are friendly to the spread of the new errors have gained lamentable currency, both at home and abroad. They have obtained confirmation from the praise lately lavished by "some great personages" upon the doctrine of Luther, and the blame poured upon its opponents. The execution of the king's order for the burning of Luther's books has been singularly delayed. Worst of all have been the obstacles placed in the way of the pious efforts of the prelates, either without the consent of the king, or by him ill-advised—for example, in the proceedings of the Bishop of Paris against Louis de Berquin. Similar impediments have been interposed to prevent the condemnation by parliament and university of the printed works of this same Berquin and of Lefèvre d'Étaples; while, as if to make the affair still more scandalous, two treatises lately written in refutation of Luther's doctrines have been seized in the name of the king and by his authority.[238]

Wide circulation of Luther's works.

Such were the complaints of the theological faculty, such the[Pg 112] means suggested for the destruction of the new leaven that was already beginning to assert its mission to permeate society. There were certainly sufficient grounds for apprehension. The works of Luther, as we have before seen, had early been translated into French, and a contemporary writer confirms the statement that they had already been widely disseminated.[239] An order of parliament, referred to in its communication to the regent, had indeed been published, to the sound of the trumpet, throughout the city of Paris (August 3, 1521), strictly commanding all booksellers, printers, and others that might have copies in their possession, to give them up within the space of eight days, on pain of imprisonment and fine.[240] But even this measure failed to accomplish the desired result. The Reformation was silently extending its influence, as some significant events sufficiently proved.

Lambert, the first French monk to embrace the Reformation.

At Avignon, copies of several of the writings of Martin Luther fell into the hands of François Lambert, son of a former private secretary of the papal legate entrusted with the government of the Comtât Venaissin. He was a man of vivid imagination, keen religious sensibilities, and marked oratorical powers. He had at the age of fifteen been so deeply impressed by the saintly appearance of the Franciscans as to seek admission to their monastery as a novice. No sooner did he assume, a year later (1503), the irrevocable vows that constituted him a monk, than his disenchantment began. According to his own account, the quarrelsome and debauched friars no longer felt any of the solicitude they had previously entertained lest the knowledge of their excesses should deter him from embracing a "religious" life. A few years later Lambert became a preacher, and having, through a somewhat careful study of the Holy Scriptures, embraced more evangelical views than were held by most of his order, began to deliver discourses as well received by the people as they were hated by his fellow-monks. Great was the outcry[Pg 113] against him when he openly denounced the misdeeds of a worthless vender of papal indulgences; still greater when copies of Luther's treatises were found in his possession. The books were seized, sealed, condemned, and burned, although scarcely a glance had been vouchsafed at their contents. It was enough for the monkish judges to cry: "They are heretical! They are heretical!" "Nevertheless," exclaims honest Lambert, kindling with indignation at the remembrance of the scene, "I confidently assert that those same books of Luther contain more of pure theology than all the writings of all the monks that have lived since the creation of the world."[241]

He is also the first to renounce celibacy.

Lambert had made full trial of the monastic life. He had even immured himself for some time in a Carthusian retreat, but found its inmates in no respect superior to the Franciscans. At last an opportunity for escape offered. In 1522, when a score of years had passed since he entered upon his novitiate, he was despatched with letters to the general of his order. Instead of fulfilling his commission, he traversed Switzerland, and made his way to Wittemberg, where he satisfied the desire he had long entertained, of meeting the great reformer to whose works he owed his own spiritual enlightenment. Full of zeal for the propagation of the doctrines he had embraced, Lambert, not long after (1524), established himself at Metz as a favorable point from which France might be influenced. But the commotion excited by his opponents—perhaps, also, his own lack of prudence—compelled him within a fortnight to flee to Strasbourg.[242] Here, more secure, but scarcely more judicious, he busied himself with sending over the French borders numbers of tracts composed or translated by himself, and addressing to[Pg 114] Francis and the chief persons of his court appeals which, doubtless, rarely if ever reached their eyes.[243] In another field of labor, to which the Landgrave of Hesse called him, François Lambert performed services far more important than any he was permitted to render his native land. As the first French monk to throw aside his habit—above all, as the first to renounce celibacy and defend in a published treatise the step he had taken (1523), no French reformer, even among those of far greater abilities and wider influence, was regarded by the adherents of the Roman Catholic Church with so intense a dislike.[244]

The firm hold which the Reformation was gaining on the population of several places of great importance, close upon the eastern frontiers of the kingdom, was a portent of evil in the eyes of the Sorbonne; for Metz, St. Hippolyte, and Montbéliard, all destined to be absorbed in the growing territories of France, were already bound to it by close ties of commercial intercourse.

Jean Châtellain, of Metz.

In Metz the powerful appeals of an Augustinian monk, Jean Châtellain, had powerfully moved the masses. He was as eloquent as he was learned, as commanding in appearance as fearless in the expression of his belief.[245] The attempt to molest him would have proved a very dangerous[Pg 115] one for the clergy of Metz to make; for the enthusiasm of the laity in his support knew no bounds, and the churchmen prudently avoided giving it an occasion for manifestation. But, no sooner had Châtellain been induced on some pretext to leave the safe protection of the walls, than a friar of his own order and monastery betrayed him to the bishop.[246] He was hurriedly taken to Nommeny, and thence to Vic for trial and execution. In vain did the Inquisitor of the Faith strive to shake his constancy. His judges were forced to liken their incorrigible prisoner to the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear. As "a preacher of false doctrines," an "apostate" and a "liar toward God Almighty," they declared him excommunicated and deprived of whatever ecclesiastical benefices he might hold. The faithful compiler of the French martyrology gives in accurate, but painful, detail the successive steps by which Châtellain was stripped of the various prerogatives conferred upon him in ordination. I shall not repeat the story of sacred vessels placed in his hands only to be hastily snatched from them, of the scraping of his fingers supposed to remove the grace of consecration, of chasuble and stole indignantly taken away—in short, of all the petty devices of a malice at which the mind wearies and the heart sickens. It was perhaps a fitting sequel to the ceremony that the degrading bishop should hand his victim over to the representative of the secular arm to be put to death, with a hypocritical recommendation to mercy: "Lord Judge, we entreat you as affectionately as we can, as well by the love of God, as from pity and compassion, and out of respect for our prayers, that you do this wretched man no injury tending to death or the mutilation of his body."[247] The prayer was granted—accord[Pg 116]ing to the intent of the petitioner. On the twelfth of January, 1525, Châtellain was led to the place of execution, as cheerful in demeanor, the witnesses said, as if walking to a feast. At the stake he knelt and offered a short prayer, then met his horrible sentence with a constancy that won many converts to the faith for which he had suffered. At the news of the fate of their admired teacher, the citizens of Metz could not contain their rage. A tumultuous scene ensued, in which it was well that the ecclesiastics—there were more than nine hundred within the walls[248]—escaped with no greater injury at the hands of the angry populace than some passing insults. John Vedast, an evangelical teacher, was at that time in confinement, reserved for a similar doom to that of Châtellain. He was liberated by the people, who, in a body membering several thousand men, visited his prison and enabled him to escape to a safe refuge. It was not until a strong detachment of troops had been thrown into the city that the burgesses were reduced to submission.[249] "None the less," admits a Roman Catholic historian, "did Lutheranism spread over the entire district of Metz."[250]

Tragic end of Wolfgang Schuch.

At St. Hippolyte, a town near the Swiss frontier, dependent upon the Duke of Lorraine, similar success and a similarly tragic end were the results of the zealous labors of Wolfgang Schuch, a priest of German extraction. The "good duke" Antoine, having been led to confound the peaceable disciples of Schuch with the revolted peasants, whose ravages had excited widespread alarm throughout Germany, publicly proclaimed his intention of visiting the town that harbored them with fire and sword. To propitiate him by removing his misapprehension, Schuch wrote to the duke a singularly touching letter containing a candid exposition of the religion he professed;[251] but finding that his missive had been of no avail, he resolved to immolate himself in behalf of his flock.[Pg 117] At Nancy, the capital of the duchy, whither he had gone to dissuade Antoine from executing his savage threats, he was thrown into a loathsome dungeon, while the University of Paris was consulted respecting the soundness of thirty-one propositions extracted from his writings by the Inquisitor of Lorraine. On the nineteenth of August, 1525—the theologians of the Sorbonne having some months before reported unfavorably upon the theses submitted to them—Wolfgang Schuch was consigned to the flames.[252]

Farel at Montbéliard.

Less sanguinary results attended the Reformation at Montbéliard, where the indefatigable Farel was the chief actor. One of those highly dramatic incidents, in which the checkered life of this remarkable man abounds, is said to have preceded his withdrawal from the city. Happening, on St. Anthony's day, to meet, upon a bridge spanning a narrow stream in the neighborhood, a solemn procession headed by priests chanting the praises of the saint whose effigy they bore aloft, Farel was seized with an uncontrollable desire to arrest the impious service. Snatching the image from the hands of ecclesiastics who were little prepared for so sudden an onslaught, he indignantly cried, "Wretched idolaters, will you never forsake your idolatry?" At the same instant he threw the saint into the water, before the astonished devotees had time to interfere. Had not some one just then opportunely raised the shout, "The saint is drowning," it might have gone hard with the fearless iconoclast.[253]

The Reformation was thus gaining a foothold in the bishopric of Metz, in the duchy of Lorraine, and the county of Montbéliard—districts as yet independent of France, in which country they were subsequently merged. But, if suffered to be[Pg 118] victorious at these important points, it might readily cross the borders and spread with irresistible force to the contiguous parts of Francis's dominions. Nearer home, the reformatory movement at Meaux, though abandoned by the bishop who had fostered its first development, was not wholly suppressed. In Lyons and Grenoble, Friar Aimé Maigret had preached such evangelical sermons—in French to the people and in Latin to the Parliament of Dauphiny—that he had been sent to Paris to be examined by the Sorbonne. The primate and his council had seen with solicitude that from the ashes of Waldo and the Poor Men of Lyons "very many new shoots were springing up,"[254] and called for some signal act of severity to repress the growing evil.

Pierre Caroli lectures on the Psalms.

In Paris itself the Sorbonne found reason for alarm. The sympathy of Margaret of Angoulême with the friends of progress was recognized. It had already availed for the deliverance of Louis de Berquin, whose remarkable history will find a place in the next chapter. Nor did the redoubted syndic of the theological faculty, Beda, or Bédier, reign without a rival in the academic halls. Pierre Caroli, one of the doctors invited by Briçonnet to Meaux, a clever wrangler, and never better pleased than when involved in controversy, albeit a man of shallow religious convictions and signal instability, wearied out by his counter-plots the illustrious heresy-hunter. When forbidden to preach, Caroli opened a course of lectures upon the Psalms in the Collége de Cambray. Having then been interdicted from continuing his prelections, he made the modest request to be permitted to finish the exposition of the 22d Psalm, which he had begun. This being refused, the disputatious doctor posted the following notice on the doors of the college: "Pierre Caroli, wishing to conform to the[Pg 119] orders of the sacred faculty, ceases to teach. He will resume his lectures (when it shall please God) where he left off, at the verse, 'They pierced my hands and my feet.'"[255]

The Heptameron of the Queen of Navarre.

I have reserved for this place a few remarks respecting the Heptameron of Margaret of Angoulême, which seem required by the disputed character or this singular work. I have spoken at length of the virtues of the Queen of Navarre, and I may here add a statement of my strong conviction that the accusation is altogether groundless which ascribes a sinister meaning to the strong expressions of sisterly affection so frequent in her correspondence with Francis the First (see M. Génin, Supplément a la notice sur Marg. d'Angoulême, prefixed to the second volume of the Letters). Nor do I make any account of the vague statement of that mendacious libertine, Brantôme, who doubtless imagined himself to be paying the Queen of Navarre the most delicate compliment, when he said, that "of gallantry she knew more than her daily bread."

But, whatever the purity of Margaret's own private life, the fact which cannot be overlooked is that a book of a decidedly immoral tendency was composed and published under her name. Her most sincere admirers would hail with gratification any satisfactory evidence that the Heptameron was written by another hand. Unfortunately, there seems to be none. On the contrary, we have Brantôme's direct testimony to the effect that the composition of the book was the employment of the queen's idle hours when travelling about in her litter, and that his grandmother, being one of Margaret's ladies of honor, was accustomed to take charge of her writing-case (Ed. Lalanne, viii. 126). Equally untenable is the view taken by the historian De Thou (liv. vi., vol. x. 508), who makes the fault more venial by representing the Heptameron to have been composed by the fair author in her youth. (So, too, Soldan, i. 89.) I am sorry to have to say that the events referred to in the stories themselves belong to a period reaching within a year or two of Margaret's death.

The facts, then, are simply these: The tales of Boccaccio's Decameron were read with great delight by Margaret, by Francis the First, and by his children. They resolved, therefore, to imitate the great Italian novelist by committing to writing the most remarkable incidents supplied by the gossip of the court (see the Prologue to the Heptameron). Francis and his children, finding that Margaret greatly excelled in this species of composition, soon renounced the unequal strife, but encouraged her to pursue an undertaking promising to afford them much amusement. Apportioning, after the example of Boccaccio, a decade of stories, illustrative of some single topic, to each day's entertainment, the Queen of Navarre had reached the seventh day, when the death of[Pg 120] her brother, the near approach of her own end, and disgust with so frivolous an occupation, induced her to suspend her labors. The Heptameron, as the interrupted work was now called, was not apparently intended for publication, but was, after Margaret's death, printed under the auspices of her daughter, the celebrated Jeanne d'Albret.

As to the stories themselves, they treat of adventures, in great part amorous and often immodest. In this particular they are scarcely less objectionable than those of Boccaccio. They differ from the latter in the circumstance that the author's avowed purpose is to insert none but actual occurrences. They are distinguished from them more especially by the attempt uniformly made to extract a wholesome lesson from every incident. The prevalent vices of the day are portrayed—with too much minuteness of detail, indeed, but only that they may be held up to the greater condemnation. It is particularly the monks of various orders who, for their flagrant crimes against morality, are made the object of biting sarcasm. The abominable teachings of these professed instructors of religion are justly reprobated. For example, in the Forty-fourth Nouvelle, Parlamente, while admitting that some Franciscans preach a pure doctrine, affirms that "the streets are not paved with such, so much as marked by their opposites;" and she relates the attempt of one of their prominent men, a doctor of theology, to convince some members of his own fraternity that the Gospel is entitled to no more credit than Cæsar's Commentaries. "From the hour I heard him," she adds, "I have refused to believe the words of any preacher unless I find them in agreement with God's Word, which is the true touchstone to ascertain what words are true and what false" (Ed. Soc. des bibliophiles, ii. 382-384).

Modern French littérateurs have not failed to eulogize the author as frequently rivalling her model in dramatic vividness of narration. At the same time they take exception to the numerous passages wherein she "preaches," as detracting from the artistic merit of her work. It is, however, precisely the feature here referred to that constitutes, in the eyes of reflecting readers, the chief, if not the sole, redeeming trait of the Heptameron. As a favorable example, illustrating the nature of the pious words and exhortations thrown in so incongruously with stories of the most objectionable kind, I translate a few sentences from the Prologue, in which Oisile (the pseudonym for Margaret herself) speaks: "If you ask me what receipt I have that keeps me so joyful and in such good health in my old age, it is this—that as soon as I rise I take and read the Holy Scriptures. Contemplating there the goodness of God, who sent His Son to earth to announce the glad tidings of the remission of all sins by the gift of His love, passion, and merits, the consideration causes me such joy that I take my psalter and sing in my heart as humbly as I can, while repeating with my lips those beautiful psalms and hymns which the Holy Ghost composed in the heart of David and other authors; and the satisfaction I derive from this does me so much good that all the ills that may befall me through the day appear to me to be blessings, seeing that I bear in my heart Him who bore them for me. In like manner, before I sup, I withdraw to give sustenance to my soul in reading, and then at night I recall all I have done during the past day, in order to ask for the pardon of[Pg 121] my faults and thank God for His gifts. Then in His love, fear and peace I take my rest, assured from every ill. Wherefore, my children, here is the pastime upon which I settled long since, after having in vain sought contentment of spirit in all the rest.... For he that knows God sees everything beautiful in Him, and without Him everything unattractive." Prologue, 13-15.

If any one object that no quantity of pious reflections can compensate for the positive evil in the Heptameron, I can but acquiesce in his view, and concede that M. Génin has been much too lenient in his estimate of Margaret's fault. It is a riddle which I leave to the reader to solve, that a princess of unblemished private life, of studious habits, and of not only a serious, but even a positively religious turn of mind—in short, in every way a noble pattern for one of the most corrupt courts Europe has ever seen—should, in a work aiming to inculcate morality, and abundantly furnished with direct religious exhortation, have inserted, not one, but a score of the most repulsive pictures of vice, drawn from the impure scandal of that court.

[Pg 122]



Captivity of Francis I.

The year 1525 was critical as well in the religious as in the political history of France. On the twenty-fourth of February, in consequence of the disaster at Pavia, Francis fell into the hands of his rival—Charles, by hereditary descent King of Spain, Naples, and Jerusalem, sovereign, under various titles, of the Netherlands, and by election Emperor of Germany—a prince whose vast possessions in both hemispheres made him at once the wealthiest and most powerful of living monarchs. With his unfortunate captivity, all the fanciful schemes of conquest entertained by the French king fell to the ground. But France felt the blow not less keenly than the monarch. One of the most gallant armies that ever crossed the Alps had been lost. The kingdom was by no means invulnerable, for the capital itself might easily reward a well-executed invasion from the side of Flanders. The recuperative energies of the country could be put forth to little advantage, so long as the place of the king—fons omnis jurisdictionis, as the French legists styled him—was filled by a woman in the capacity of regent. France bade fair to exhibit to the world the inherent weakness of a despotism wherein all power, in fact as well as in theory, centres ultimately in the single person of the supreme ruler as autocrat. For it was his standing boast that he was "emperor" in his own realm, holding it of none other than God, and responsible to God alone, and that as king and emperor he had the exclusive right to make ordinances from which no subject could appeal without rendering himself liable to the penalties pronounced upon trai[Pg 123]tors.[256] Now that the head was taken away, who could answer for the harmonious action of the body which had been wont to depend upon him alone for direction?

Change in the religious policy of Louise de Savoie.

Louise de Savoie, to whom the direction of affairs had been confided during her son's absence in Italy, had, for greater convenience, transferred the court temporarily to the city of Lyons, where, under the protection of Margaret of Angoulême, the most evangelical preachers of France had been allowed to proclaim the tenets of the reformers within the churches and in the hearing of thousands of eager listeners. The queen mother had not yet ventured decidedly to depart from the tolerant system hitherto pursued by the crown.[257] But the announcement of the capture of Francis effected a complete revolution in her policy. There is no inherent improbability in the story that Chancellor Duprat—the statesman and ecclesiastic who had gained so strong an ascendancy over the mind of Louise that he was shortly promoted to the Archbishopric of Sens and rewarded with the rich abbey of Saint Bénoit-sur-Loire—insinuated to the queen mother that the misfortunes befalling France were tokens of the Divine displeasure. Had Francis spared no exertions to destroy the first germs of the heresy so insidiously introduced into his kingdom, he would not now, said the churchman, be languishing in the dungeons of Milan or Madrid. Nor could hopes be entertained of his deliverance, and of a return of Heaven's favor, unless the queen mother bestirred herself to retrieve his mistake by the introduction of new measures to crush heresy. Thus is the chancellor said to have argued, and to have earned the cardinal's hat at the Pope's hands. However this may be, it is certain that motives of policy were no[Pg 124] less influential than the pious considerations which, perhaps, might have carried full as much conviction had they come from the lips of a more exemplary prelate.[258] The regent was certainly not ignorant of the fact that the support of Clement the Seventh, now specially needed in the delicate diplomacy lying immediately before her, could best be secured by proving to the pontiff's satisfaction that the house of Valois was clear of all suspicion of harboring or fostering the "Lutheran" doctrines and their adherents.

The ordinary appliances for the suppression of heresy—a duty entrusted by canon law, so far as the preliminary search and the trial of the suspected was concerned, to the bishops and their courts—had confessedly proved inadequate. The prelates were in great part non-residents, and could not from a distance narrowly watch the progress of the objectionable tenets in their dioceses. One or two of their number were accused of culpable sluggishness, if not of indifference or something worse. The question naturally arose, What new and more effective procedure could be devised?

A commission appointed to try "Lutherans."

After mature deliberation, the privy council resolved upon a plan which was virtually to remove the cognizance of crimes against religion from the clergy, and commit it to a mixed commission. The Parliament of Paris was accordingly notified that the bishop of that city stood ready to delegate his authority to conduct the trial of all heretics found within his jurisdiction to such persons as parliament might select for the discharge of this important function; and the latter body proceeded at once to designate two of its own members to act in conjunction with two doctors of the Sorbonne, and receive the faculties promised by the Bishop of Paris.[259] A few days later (March 29, 1525), in making a necessary substitution for one of the members who was unable to[Pg 125] serve, parliament not only empowered the commission thus constituted to try the "Lutheran" prisoners, Pauvan and Saulnier, but directed the Archbishops of Lyons and Rheims, and the bishops or chapters of eight of the remaining most important dioceses, to confer upon it similar authority to that already received at the hands of the bishop of the metropolis.[260]

The commission a new form of inquisition.
The inquisition hitherto jealously watched.

It was, however, no ordinary tribunal which the highest civil court of the kingdom was erecting. The commission was in effect nothing less than a new phase of the Inquisition, embodying many of the most obnoxious features of that detested tribunal. It is true that the "Holy Office," in a modified form, had existed in France ever since the persecutions directed against the Albigenses and the bloody campaigns of Simon de Montfort. But the seat of the solitary Inquisitor of the Faith was Toulouse, not Paris, and his powers had been jealously circumscribed by the courts of justice and the diocesan prelates, both equally interested in rearing barriers to prevent his incursions into their respective jurisdictions. The Inquisitor of Toulouse was now only a spy and informer.[261] Parliament, in particular, had clearly enunciated the principle that neither inquisitor nor bishop had the right to arrest a suspected heretic, inasmuch as bodily seizure was the exclusive prerogative of the officers of the crown. The judges of this supreme court had summoned to their bar a bishop, and his "official," or vicar, and had exacted from them an explicit disavowal of any intention to arrest, in the case of a person whom they had merely detained, as they asserted, until such time as they could deliver him into the hands of a competent civil officer.[262] And it had become a maxim of French jurisprudence, that "an inquisitor of the faith has no power of capture or arrest, save with the assistance, and by authority, of the secular arm."[263]

Parliament breaks down the safeguards of personal liberty.

But the Parliament of Paris, at the instigation of the regent's[Pg 126] advisers, and with the consent of the bishops, was breaking down these important safeguards of personal liberty. It not only accorded to the mixed inquisitorial commission, consisting of two lay and two clerical members, the authority to apprehend persons suspected of heresy, but removed the proceedings of the commission almost entirely from review and correction. A pretext for this extraordinary course was found in the delays heretofore experienced from the interposition of technical difficulties. "The commissioners," said parliament, "by virtue of the authority delegated to them, shall secretly institute inquiries against the Lutherans, and shall proceed against them by personal summons, by bodily arrest, by seizure of goods, and by other penalties. Their decisions shall be executed in spite of any and every opposition and appeal, save in case of the final sentence."[264] While conferring such extravagant privileges, parliament took pains to prescribe that the decisions of the commission should be executed precisely as if they had emanated from the supreme court itself. Such were the lengths to which the most conservative judges were willing to go, in the hope of speedily eradicating the reformed doctrines from French soil.

The commission endorsed by Clement VII.

The regent and her master-spirit, the chancellor, did not rest here. The commission was not irrevocable; and its authority might be disputed. The work of parliament must receive the papal sanction. For this Clement the Seventh did not keep them long waiting. He addressed to parliament (May 20, 1525) a brief conceived in a vein of fulsome eulogy, expressing his marvellous commendation of their acts—acts which he declared to be worthy of the reputation for wisdom in which the French tribunal was justly held. And he incited the judges to fresh zeal by the consideration that the new madness that had fallen upon the world was prepared to confound and overturn, not religion alone, but all rule, nobility, pre-eminence and superiority—nay, all law and order. The reader, it may be feared, will tire of the frequency with which[Pg 127] the same trite suggestions recur. It is, however, not a little important to emphasize the argument which the Roman Curia, and its emissaries at the courts of kings, were never weary of reiterating in the ears of the rich and powerful. And as they seized with avidity every slight incident of disorder that could by any means be associated with the great religious movement now in progress, and presented it as corroboratory proof of the charge preferred against the "Lutherans," it is not surprising that they were generally successful in their appeal to the fears of a class which had so much at stake.

In addition to his endorsement of their pious zeal, Clement's brief informed the judges of parliament that they would find in the accompanying bull his formal confirmation of the inquisitorial commission.[265]

This "letter with the leaden seal," dated the seventeenth of May, might well have opened the eyes of less devoted subjects of the Roman See to the injury they were inflicting upon the French liberties, heretofore so cherished an object of judicial solicitude. Addressing itself to the four commissioners named by parliament, the bull recited the lamentable progress of the doctrines of that "son of iniquity and heresiarch, Martin Luther," and praised the ardor displayed to stay their dissemination in France. It next declared that the Pope, by the advice and with the unanimous consent of the cardinals, instructed the commissioners to proceed either singly or collectively against those persons who had embraced heretical views, "simply and quietly, without noise or form of judgment." He empowered them to act independently of the prelates of the kingdom and the Inquisitor of the Faith, or to call in their assistance, as they should see fit. They might summon witnesses, under pain of ecclesiastical censures. They might make investigations against and put on trial all those infected with heresy, even should the guilty be bishops or archbishops in the church, or be clothed with the ducal authority in the state. When convicted, such persons were to be punished by arrest and imprisonment, or cut off, "like rotten members, from the communion of the church,[Pg 128] and consigned to eternal damnation with Satan and his angels." The commissioners were further authorized to grant permission to any one of the faithful who chose so to do to invade, occupy, and acquire for himself the lands, castles, and goods of the heretics, seizing their persons and leading them away into life-long slavery. From the sentence of the commissioners all appeal, even to the "Apostolic See" itself, was expressly cut off.[266]

Its powers enlarged by the papal bull.

Rome had made one of its most brilliant strokes. While adopting as his own the commissioners appointed by parliament, Clement had enlarged their already exorbitant prerogatives, and consummated their independence of secular interference. A new and more efficient inquisition was thus introduced into France, with its secret investigation and unlimited power of inflicting punishment. The Parliament of Paris had, however, committed itself too fully to think of demurring. Accordingly, it proceeded (June 10th) to enter on its records both the regent's letter and the bull of the Pope, to which the letter enjoined obedience.[267]

We have in a previous chapter seen some of the first fruits of the establishment of the inquisitorial commission, in the proceedings instituted against Lefèvre d'Étaples, Gérard Roussel, and others who took part in the attempted reformation of the diocese of Meaux. But, chief among those whom it was sought to destroy, through the agency of the new and well-furbished weapon against heretics, was a nobleman of Artois, whose repeated and remarkable escapes from the hand of the executioner, viewed in connection with the tragic fate that at last overtook him, invest his story with a romantic interest.

Character of Louis de Berquin.
He becomes a warm partisan of the Reformation.

Louis de Berquin was a man of high rank, whom friends and enemies alike admired for his uncommon acuteness of mind and his great attainments in letters and science. A contemporary Parisian, whose diary has supplied us more than one of those graphic traits that assist much in bringing before our eyes the living forms of the great actors in the world's past history, seems to have been strongly im[Pg 129]pressed by the commanding appearance and elegance of dress of De Berquin, at this time in the very prime of life.[268] But the great Erasmus, his correspondent, stood in far greater admiration of his extraordinary learning, his purity of life—a rare excellence in a nobleman of the court of Francis the First—his kindness and freedom from all ostentation, his uncompromising hatred of every form of meanness and injustice,[269] and a fearless courage which, in the eyes of the timid sage of Rotterdam, appeared to fall little short of foolhardiness. Like most of the really earnest reformers, De Berquin was originally a very strict observer of the ordinances of the church, and was unsurpassed in attention to fasts, feast-days, and the mass. It was indignation and contempt for the petty persecution inaugurated by Beda and his associates of the Sorbonne that first led him to examine the tenets of Lefèvre. From Lefèvre's works he naturally passed to those of the German reformers. His curiosity turning to admiration, he began to translate and annotate the most striking treatises that fell into his hands. Not content with this, he set himself to writing books on the same topics, and incidentally depicted in no flattering colors the intolerance and ignorance of the Paris theologians. As he made no attempt at concealment, his activity was soon known.

His first imprisonment.

In the spring of 1523, De Berquin's house was visited, his books and papers were seized, and an inventory was made. Beda was the leader of the authorities in the whole affair. Parliament ordered the books and manuscripts to be examined and reported upon by the theological faculty. What the report would be, it was not hard to surmise. When such works were found in De Berquin's possession as that entitled "Speculum[Pg 130] Theologastrorum," and another giving Luther's reasons for maintaining the universal priesthood of Christian believers; when the notes in De Berquin's own handwriting condemned as blasphemous, and as derogatory to the power of the Holy Ghost, the ascription of praise to the Virgin Mary as the "fountain of all grace"—but one answer could be expected to the requisition of parliament. The books and manuscripts were pronounced heretical; their author was commanded to retract. This De Berquin refused to do, and he was, consequently, shut up in the conciergerie—the civil prison within the walls of the ancient palace in which parliament sat. Four days later he was transferred to the dungeons of the Bishop of Paris, to be judged by him with the aid of two counsellors of parliament and of such theologians as he should see fit to call in.[270]

He is released by order of the king.

The case was fast becoming serious. De Berquin was made of sterner stuff than the weaklings who recant through fear of the stake; and the syndic of Sorbonne was fully resolved to have him burned if he remained constant. Happily, just at this critical moment the king interfered. From Melun, which he had reached on his way toward the south of France, he despatched an officer—one "Captain Frederick," as his name appears in the records—to demand the release of De Berquin, whose trial he had evoked for the consideration of his own royal council. Parliament attempted to interpose technical difficulties, and responded that the prisoner was no longer in its keeping. But "Captain Frederick" was provided against any quibbling. As his instructions were to break open whatever prison-doors might be barred against him, it was not long before the expected prey of the theologians was given into his custody. In the end De Berquin was set at liberty, such an examination of his case having been made by the king's council as courtiers are wont to institute when the accused is the favorite of the monarch.[271]

Advice of Erasmus.

It was about this time that Erasmus first made the acquaint[Pg 131]ance of Louis de Berquin. The Artesian nobleman took occasion to write to the great Dutch humanist, of whom he stood in great admiration, to inform him of the position assumed in reference to the writings of the latter by Beda and Du Chesne. Erasmus tells us that he was delighted with his new correspondent. But the constitutional timidity of the scholar compelled him to answer De Berquin by words of caution rather than of encouragement: "If you are wise, repress your encomiums; do not disturb the hornets, and spend your time in your favorite studies. At all events, do not involve me; for the consequences might be inconvenient for us both." But the dictates of worldly wisdom had no influence over De Berquin. Presently Erasmus was vexed to find that De Berquin in his writings was appealing to his friend's authority, and quoting the sentiments of the latter in defence of his own opinions. Now thoroughly alarmed at De Berquin's imprudence, Erasmus remonstrated, plainly intimating that whatever delight others might derive from conflicts such as he saw approaching, nothing was less grateful to himself.

Berquin's second imprisonment.
Francis again orders his release.

Meantime Louis de Berquin had retired to his own estates, in the expectation of pursuing his plans with less danger of interference than in the capital. Even there, however, he was not safe. The propitious moment for striking a decisive blow seemed to his enemies to have come when, the king being a captive, his mother, the regent, had permitted Pope and parliament to erect a tribunal for the summary trial and execution of heretics. The Bishop of Amiens, in whose diocese De Berquin's lands were situated, having applied to parliament, easily obtained the authority to seize him, disregarding even the ordinary rights of asylum.[272] After his arrest he was again transferred from the episcopal palace to the conciergerie at Paris, and his trial entrusted to the new inquisitorial commission. A series of propositions extracted from his writings, and censured by the Sorbonne, insured his condemnation as a relapsed heretic, and De Berquin was handed over to the secular arm for condign punishment. But again, at[Pg 132] the very instant when his ruin was imminent, he met with unexpected deliverance. The sympathy of the king's sister was enlisted, and she used her influence with her mother to obtain an order adjourning all proceedings against De Berquin until the monarch should be released. Meanwhile she wrote urgent letters in his behalf to Francis and to his favorite, the grand master of the palace and future constable of France, Anne de Montmorency. The reply came in an order from the king, at Madrid, directing his parliament to cease from giving disturbance to Berquin and such men of learning.[273]

Dilatory measures of parliament.

It is suggestive of the delays attending even the execution of the will of so arbitrary a prince as Francis, that, although De Berquin was thus delivered from the immediate prospect of death, months passed before he regained his liberty. Successive royal orders were required to secure any alleviation of his hard confinement. Thus, when his health suffered from want of exercise and pure air, parliament grudgingly permitted him to leave his solitary cell for an hour morning and evening, at such time as the court might be clear of other prisoners whom he could contaminate. And when De Berquin complained that his books and writing materials had been denied him, the extent of the parliament's generosity was to grant him "the epistles of St. Jerome and some other Catholic books." At length, the king's patience becoming exhausted by the court's procrastination and technical objections, he sent (November 21, 1526) the Provost of Paris forcibly to remove De Berquin from the conciergerie to the Louvre, where he was soon restored his freedom.[274][Pg 133]

Hopes of Margaret of Angoulême.

The return of Francis from Madrid, and the rescue of Berquin, Lefèvre, Roussel, and others, from the dangers to which they had been exposed, encouraged the more sanguine reformers to hope that now at length the king would declare himself openly in favor, if not of the evangelical doctrines, at least of some form of religions toleration. Margaret of Angoulême had certainly labored piously and assiduously to open her brother's eyes to the true character of his fanatical advisers. In a letter still preserved and apparently written even before Francis had been removed from Italy to Spain, she begged him to regard his misfortune as only a mark of the Divine love, and intended to give him time for reflection and consecration. This end being accomplished, Heaven would gloriously deliver him and make him a blessing to all Christendom—nay, even to infidel nations to be converted by his means.[275]

However fanciful these brilliant anticipations may now appear, they did not seem unreasonable at the time. It was not improbable that the example of the illustrious German princes, his allies, who had embraced the Reformation, might incline Francis decidedly to the same side. Margaret had conceived great expectations, based upon a projected visit to the French court by Count Von Hohenlohe, Dean of the Cathedral of Strasbourg—a nobleman, who, having become a Protestant, was anxious to turn to the advantage of his new convictions the influence secured to him by high social rank. The correspondence of Francis's sister with the zealous German noble opens a suggestive page of history. At first, Margaret, while applauding the count's design and building great hopes upon it, advises him to defer his visit until the king's return from Spain. Two months later, she is even more anxious to see Hohenlohe in Paris, but feels constrained to tell him that his friends have, for a certain reason, concluded that the proper time has not yet[Pg 134] arrived. A third letter, dated after the restoration of Francis to his throne, informs us what that certain reason was. "I cannot tell you all the grief I feel," Margaret writes, "for I clearly see that the state of things is such that your coming cannot be productive of the comfort you would desire. The king would not be glad to see you. The reason that your visit is deemed inadvisable is the deliverance of the king's children, which the king esteems as important as the deliverance of his own person."[276]

Francis I. violates his pledges to Charles V.

Here was the secret! Unfortunately for the Reformation, policy was supposed to make it an imperative duty to conciliate the favor of the Pope, no less after the release of Francis than while he was yet a prisoner. There were the young princes sent by the regent as hostages for the fulfilment of the treaty with Charles of Spain, for whose liberation measures were to be devised. And there was the oath—to the shame of Francis, it must be added—from the binding force of which the king hoped to be relieved by authority of the Roman bishop; for scarcely had Francis set foot on his own dominions, when he unblushingly retracted all his treaty stipulations. He announced to the emperor that the cession of Burgundy, the Viscounty of Auxonne, and other territories, which had been made by his imperial captor the indispensable condition of his release, was entirely out of the question; and that his promises, extorted while he was in duress, were of no validity! Nevertheless, he offered, in lieu thereof, the payment of a larger ransom than had ever been proffered by a king of France. Indignant at a perfidy somewhat flagrant, even for an age tolerably well accustomed to breaches of faith, the emperor refused the substitute. The arms recently laid aside were resumed. Clement the Seventh and Venice became the allies of Francis, who for the present figured as the champion of the papacy; while his rival, by suffering the traitor Constable de Bourbon with an army of German soldiers to besiege the pontiff in his capital, became responsible in the eyes of the world[Pg 135] for all the atrocities of the famous sack of the city of Rome. When, at length, after three years of hard fighting, peace was concluded by the treaty of Cambray (July, 1529), the terms agreed upon at Madrid were virtually carried into effect; but the emperor consented to receive the sum of two millions of Crowns—êcus-au-soleil—in place of Burgundy, and on payment to restore to the French the dauphin and the Duke of Orleans, the future Henry the Second, so long detained as hostages in Spain.

The king's necessities.
A despotic course suggested.

Meantime the revenues of the royal domain, having during the late wars been subjected to a long and unremitting drain, had proved utterly inadequate to meet the extraordinary demand of treasure for the resumption of the hostilities following close upon Francis's release. Recourse must be had to the purses of the king's subjects. The right to levy taxes resided in the States General alone, and Francis was reluctant, at so critical a juncture, to trample on a time-hallowed principle. He did not, indeed, hesitate to admit that he had been gravely counselled by some of his advisers to resort to a more despotic course; for they maintained that, in so praiseworthy an undertaking as the effort to recover the young princes, the king was warranted by all laws, divine and human, in laying under contribution every one of his subjects, of whatever rank or condition.[277] But, as the same ends might be attained by methods more agreeable to law and precedent, Francis preferred to have recourse to them.

An assembly of notables.

On the sixteenth of December, 1527, one of those anomalous political bodies was convened in the palace of the Parisian parliament to which the name of an assembly of notables is given. All the orders of the state were repre[Pg 136]sented; but the form of a meeting of the States General (as we have seen, most distasteful to the despotic monarch) was studiously avoided.[278] In reply to a very full exposition of the present condition of the kingdom and of the incidents of his capture, made by Francis in person to the assembled clergymen, nobles, jurists, and burgesses of Paris, each order in turn gave its opinion. All united in approving the refusal of the king to surrender Burgundy to the emperor, and in expressing their unwillingness to allow his Majesty to return to Spain and thus redeem the promise he had given in case the treaty failed to be carried into effect. All likewise professed their readiness to contribute, according to their ability, to the necessities of the crown.

The first president, M. de Selve, in the name of parliament, delivered a discourse which the clerk of the assembly, no doubt aptly, describes as "crammed with Latin and with quotations from Scripture, to prove that the treaty of Madrid was null and void."[279] His grounds were that the king could neither dispose of his own person, which belonged to the state, nor alienate Burgundy, which, being a fief of the first rank and a bulwark of the kingdom, was inseparable from France. But probably the whole prodigious mass of classic lore, and of scriptural quotation, even more unfamiliar to most of his hearers, which the pedantic president forced upon the digestion of the unfortunate notables, was required to prove to their satisfaction that Francis had in this affair played the part of the "gentilhomme" he boasted of being.

Speech of the Cardinal of Bourbon.

The speech of the Cardinal of Bourbon was especially important. He announced the willingness of the representatives of the French clergy cheerfully to supply the 1,300,000 livres asked of their order, although at the same time he suggested the propriety of first convoking provincial councils, in which the church might be more fully consulted.[Pg 137] With this gracious concession, however, the cardinal coupled three requests, of which the first and third concerned the liberation of the Pope from his imprisonment and the conservation of the liberties of the Gallican church; but the second had a pointed reference to the Reformation: he prayed "that the king might be pleased to uproot and extirpate the damnable and insufferable Lutheran sect which had, not long since, secretly entered the realm, with all the other heresies that were multiplying therein." By thus acting, he assured him, Francis "would perform the duty of a good prince bearing the name of Very Christian King."

Francis promises to prove himself "Very Christian."

The gratified monarch, delighted with the complaisance of his clerical subjects, did not hesitate to accede to all the petitions the Cardinal offered, and declared that, "so far as concerned heresies, he was determined not to endure them, but would cause them to be wholly extirpated and driven from his kingdom," inflicting on any found tainted therewith such exemplary punishment as to demonstrate his right to the honorable title he bore.[280]

It was a rash promise that Francis had made. Like many other absolute monarchs, he expected without trouble to bring the religious convictions of his subjects into conformity with the standard he was pleased to set up.[281] He had yet to learn[Pg 138] that there are beliefs which, when they take root in the hearts of humble and illiterate peasants or artisans, are too firmly fixed to be eradicated by the most excruciating tortures man's ingenuity has been able to contrive. Through fire and sword, the victim now of persecution, again of open war, the faith denominated heresy was yet to survive, not only the last lineal descendant of the king then sitting on the throne of France, but the rule of the dynasty which was destined to succeed to the power, and reproduce not a few of the mistakes, of the Valois race.

The provincial council of Sens.

In accordance with the suggestion of the Cardinal of Bourbon, three provincial councils were held early in the ensuing year (1528). The most important was the council of the ecclesiastical province of Sens, which met, however, in the Augustinian monastery at Paris. It was scarcely to be expected that a synod presided over by Antoine Duprat, who, to the dignity of cardinal and the office of Chancellor of France, added the Bishopric of Albi and the Archbishopric of Sens, with the claim to be Primate of the Gauls and of Germany, should discuss with severity the morals of the clergy, or issue stringent canons against the abuse of the plurality of benefices. As an offset, however, the Council of Sens had much to say respecting the new reformation. The good fathers saw in the discordant views of Luther and Carlstadt, of Melanchthon and Zwingle, proof positive that the new doctrines the reformers advanced were devoid of any basis of truth. They ridiculed the claim of the Protestants to the presence of the Spirit of God. But they reserved their severest censures for the practice of holding secret conventicles, and, with an irony best appreciated by those who understand the penalties inflicted by the law on the discovered heretics, they gently reminded the men and women to whom the celebration of a single religious service according to the dictates of their conscience would have insured instantaneous condemnation and a death at the stake, that God hates the deeds of darkness, and that Christ himself said, "What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light."[282][Pg 139]

The punishment of heretics.

More practical were the prescriptions of the council's decrees respecting the punishment of offenders against the unity of the faith. Heretics who, after conviction, refused to be "united to the church," were to be consigned to prison for life, priests to be degraded, the relapsed to be given over to the secular arm without a hearing. Heretical books, including translations of the Bible, were to be surrendered to the bishop. Indeed, it was stipulated that every book treating of the faith, and printed within the past twenty years, should be submitted to him for examination. Nor was the council satisfied to leave the discovery of heresy to accident. It was particularly enjoined upon every bishop that he, or some competent person appointed by him, should visit any portion of his diocese in which the taint of unsound doctrine was reported to exist, and compel three or more persons of good standing, or even the entire body of the inhabitants of a neighborhood, to denounce under oath those who entertained heretical views, the frequenters of secret conventicles, and even those who merely held aloof from the conversation of the faithful. Lest this stimulus to informers should prove insufficient to extract the desired knowledge, the threat was added that persons refusing to testify would be treated as suspected, and themselves proceeded against.[283]

The councils of Bourges and Lyons.

Not less severe toward the "Lutheran" doctrines did the other two provincial councils show themselves. At the Council of Bourges, the Cardinal of Tournon presided as archbishop—a prelate who was to attain unenviable notoriety as the prime instigator of the massacre of Mérindol and Cabrières, of which an account will be given in a subsequent chapter. Besides the usual regulations for the censure of heretical books and the denunciation of "Lutherans," the decrees contain the significant direction that the professors in the University of Bourges shall employ in their instructions no authors[Pg 140] calculated to divert the students from the ceremonies of the church—a caution deriving its importance from the circumstance that the university, under the patronage of Margaret of Angoulême, now Duchess of Berry as well as Queen of Navarre, had become a centre of reformatory activity.

The letter in which the king had called upon the Archbishop of Lyons to convene the clergy of his province, declared that Francis had ever held the accursed sect of the "Lutherans" in hatred, horror, and abomination, and that its extirpation was an object very near his heart, for the accomplishment of which he would employ all possible means;[284] and the Council of Lyons responded by cordial approval and by the enactment of fresh regulations to suppress conventicles, to prevent the farther dissemination of Luther's writings, and, indeed, to forbid all discussion of matters of faith by the laity. At the same time the council unconsciously revealed the necessity imposed on the private Christian to investigate for himself the nature and grounds of his belief, by strongly reprobating the disastrous custom of admitting into sacred orders a host of illiterate, uncultivated persons of low antecedents—beardless youths—and by confessing that this wretched practice had justly excited the contempt of the world.[285]

Financial help bought by persecution.

Everywhere the clergy conceded the subsidy required by the exigencies of the kingdom. But they left Francis in no doubt respecting the price of their complaisance. This was nothing less than the extermination of the new sect that had made its appearance in France. And the king comprehended and fell in with the terms upon which the church agreed to loosen its purse-strings. No doubtful policy must now prevail! No more Berquins can be permitted to make their boast that they have been able, protected by the king's panoply, to beard the lion in his den![Pg 141]

Insult to an image.

An incident occurring in Paris, before the adjournment of the Council of Sens, gave Francis a specious excuse for inaugurating the more cruel system of persecution now demanded of him, and tended somewhat to conceal from the king himself, as well as from others, the mercenary motive of the change. Just after the solemnities of Whitsunday, an unheard of act of impiety startled the inhabitants of the capital, and fully persuaded them that no object of their devotions was safe from iconoclastic violence. One of those numerous statues of the Virgin Mary, with the infant Jesus in her arms, that graced the streets of Paris, was found to have been shockingly mutilated. The body had been pierced, and the head-dress trampled under foot. The heads of the mother and child had been broken off and ignominiously thrown in the rubbish.[286] A more flagrant act of contempt for the religious sentiment of the country had perhaps never been committed. The indignation it awakened must not be judged by the standard of a calmer age.[287] In the desire to ascertain the perpetrators of the outrage, the king offered a reward of a thousand crowns. But no ingenuity could ferret them out. A vague rumor, indeed, prevailed, that a similar excess had been witnessed in a village four or five leagues distant, and that the culprits when detected had confessed that they had been prompted to its commission by the promise of a paltry recompense of one hundred sous for every image destroyed. But, since no one seems ever to have been punished, it is probable that this report was a fabrication; and the question whether the mutilation of the Virgin of the Rue des Rosiers was the deliberate act of a religious enthusiast, or a freak of drunken revellers, or, as some imagined, a cunning device of good Catholics to inflame the popular passions against[Pg 142] the "Lutherans," must, for the present, at least, remain a subject of profound doubt.

Expiatory processions.

But, whoever may have been the author, pains were taken to expiate the sacrilege. Successive processions visited the spot. In one of these, five hundred students of the university, chosen from different colleges and belonging to the first families, bore lighted tapers, which they placed on the temporary altar erected in front of the image. The clergy, both secular and regular, came repeatedly with all that was most precious in attire and relics. To add still more to the pomp of the propitiatory pilgrimages, Francis himself took part in a magnificent display, made on the Fête-Dieu, or Corpus Christi (the eleventh of June). He was preceded by heralds and by the Dukes of Cleves and Ferrara and other noblemen of high rank, while behind him walked the King of Navarre, the Cardinal of Lorraine, the Ambassadors of England, Venice, Florence, and other foreign states, the officers of parliament, and a crowd of gentlemen of the king's house, archers and persons of all conditions bringing up the rear. On reaching the spot where the mutilated statue still occupied its niche, Francis, after appropriate religious exercises, ascended the richly carpeted steps, and reverently substituted an effigy in solid silver, of similar size, in place of the image which had been the object of insult.[288][Pg 143]

Other icoconoclastic excesses.

From this time forward, iconoclastic demonstrations became more common. Paintings, also, when exposed to the public view, shared the perils to which unprotected statues were subjected. The Virgin, and such reputable saints as St. Roch and St. Fiacre, depicted on the walls of the Rue St. Martin, were wantonly disfigured, some two years later; so that at last, the Parliament of Paris, in despair of preventing the repetition of the act, or of discovering its authors, adopted the prudent course of forbidding that any sacred representation should be placed on the exterior walls of a house within ten feet of the ground![289]

Berquin's third arrest.
He disregards the cautions of Erasmus.

The repeated assurances whereby Francis had conciliated the clergy, and secured their contributions to the exchequer, embarrassed him in the exercise of leniency toward Louis de Berquin, now for the third time arraigned for heresy. Moreover, the audacity and violence of the iconoclasts, characteristics assumed by him to be indicative of a disposition to overturn all government, probably took away any inclination he would otherwise have had to interfere in the intrepid nobleman's behalf. De Berquin had no sooner been released from his former imprisonment than he set himself to prepare for new conflicts with his bigoted antagonists. He even resolved to assume the offensive. In vain did Erasmus entreat him to be prudent, suggest the propriety of his temporarily going abroad, and propose that he should apply for some diplomatic commission as a plausible excuse for absenting himself. Beda, he told him, was a monster with many heads, each breathing out poison, while in the "Faculty" he had to do with an immortal antagonist. The monks would secure his ruin were his cause more righteous than that of Jesus Christ. Finally, the tremulous scholar begged him, if no consideration of personal safety moved him, at least not to involve so ardent a lover of peace as Erasmus in a conflict for which he had no taste. But his reasoning had no weight with a man of high resolve and inflexible principle, who could see no honorable course but openly meeting and overthrowing error. "Do[Pg 144] you ask," wrote Erasmus to a correspondent interested in learning De Berquin's fate, "what I accomplished? By every means I employed to deter him I only added to his courage."[290] If we may believe Erasmus's strong expressions—for his own writings have very nearly disappeared—De Berquin assailed the monks with a freedom almost equal to that employed by the Old Comedy in holding up to merited derision the foibles of Athenian generals and statesmen. He even extracted twelve blasphemous propositions from Beda's utterances, and obtained a letter from the king enjoining the Sorbonne either to pass sentence of condemnation on their syndic's assertions, or to prove their truth from the Holy Scriptures.[291] The Dutch philosopher, aghast at his friend's incredible temerity, besought him instantly to seek safety in flight; and, when this last appeal proved as ineffectual as all his frequent efforts in the past, he confessed that he almost regretted that a friendship had ever arisen which had occasioned him so much trouble and disquiet.[292]

A third time Louis de Berquin was arrested, on application of the officer known as the Promoteur de la foi. His trial was committed to twelve judges selected by parliament, among whom figured not only the first president and the vicar-general of the Bishop of Paris, but, strange to say, even so well-disposed and liberal a jurist as Guillaume Budé, the foremost French scholar of the age for broad and accurate learning.[293] The case advanced too slowly to meet De Berquin's impatience. In the assurance of ultimate success, he is even accused by a contemporary chronicler of having offered the court two hundred crowns to expedite the trial.[294] It soon became evident,[Pg 145] however, from, the withdrawal of the liberties at first accorded, that Be Berquin would scarcely escape unless the king again interposed—a contingency less likely to occur in view of the incessant appeals with which Francis was plied, addressed at once to his interest, his conscience, and his pride. But the more desperate the cause of Berquin, and the more uncertain the king's disposition, the more urgent the intercessions of Margaret of Angoulême, whose character is nowhere seen to better advantage than in her repeated letters to her brother about this time.[295]

Berquin sentenced to public penance, branding, and imprisonment.

The sentence was rendered on the sixteenth of April, 1529. De Berquin, being found guilty of heresy, was condemned to do public penance in front of Notre Dame, with lighted taper in hand, and crying for mercy to God and the blessed Virgin. Next, on the Place de Grève, he was to be ignominiously exhibited upon a scaffold, while his books were burned before his eyes. Taken thence in a cart to the pillory, and again exposed to popular derision on a revolving stage, he was to have his tongue pierced and his forehead branded with the ineffaceable fleur-de-lis. His public disgrace over, De Berquin was to be imprisoned for life in the episcopal jail.[296]

He appeals, is sentenced to death, and is executed.

More than twenty thousand persons—so intense a hatred had been stirred up against the reformers—assembled to witness the execution of a sentence malignantly cruel.[297] But, for that day, their expectation was disappointed. Louis de Berquin gave notice that he appealed to the absent king and to the Pope himself. It was no part of the programme, however, that the thrice-convicted heresiarch should gain a fresh respite and enlist powerful friends in effecting his[Pg 146] release. No sooner were the judges satisfied that he persisted in his appeal, in spite of the secret and urgent advice of Budé and others, than they rendered a new and more severe sentence (on the seventeenth of April): he must pay the forfeit of his obstinacy with his life, and that, too, within a few hours.[298]

The cause of this intemperate haste is clearly set forth by a contemporary—doubtless an eye-witness of the execution—all whose sympathies were on the side of the prosecution. It was "lest recourse be had to the king, or to the regent then at Blois;"[299] for the delay of even a few days might have brought from the banks of the Loire another order removing De Berquin's case from the commission to the royal council.

The historian must leave to the professed martyrologist the details of the constant death of Louis de Berquin, as of the deaths of many other less distinguished victims of the intolerant zeal of the Sorbonne. Suffice it to say that although, when he undertook to address the people, his voice was purposely drowned by the din of the attendants, though the very children filled the air with shouts that De Berquin was a heretic, though not a person was found in the vast concourse to encourage him by the name of "Jesus"—an accustomed cry even at the execution of parricides—the brave nobleman of Artois met his fate with such composure as to be likened by a by-stander to a student immersed in his favorite occupations, or a worshipper whose devout mind was engrossed by the contemplation of heavenly things.[300] There were indeed blind rumors, as usual in such cases; to the effect that De Berquin recanted at the last moment; and Merlin, the Penitentiary of Notre Dame, who attended him, is reported to have exclaimed that "perhaps no one for a hundred years had died a better Christian."[301] But the "Lutherans"[Pg 147] of Paris had good reason to deny the truth of the former statement, and to interpret the latter to the advantage of De Berquin's consistent faith—so great was the rejoicing over the final success attained in crushing the most distinguished, in silencing the boldest and most outspoken advocate of the reformation of the church. For, in the eyes of the theological faculty and of the clergy of France, Louis de Berquin merited to be styled, by way of pre-eminence, a heresiarch.[302]

Francis treats with the Germans.

Three years had not elapsed since the blow struck at the "Lutheran" doctrines in France, in the execution of their most promising and intrepid representative, before the hopes of the friends of the Reformation again revived from a consideration of the king's political relations. Disappointed at the contemptuous reception of their confession of faith by the Emperor at Augsburg, the Protestant princes of Germany had formed a defensive league. Francis, having basely abandoned his former allies, was left alone to combat the gigantic power of a rival between two portions of whose dominions his own kingdom lay exposed. Every consideration of prudence dictated the policy of lending to the German Protestants, in their endeavor to humble the pride of their common antagonist, the most efficient support of his arms. Under these circumstances religious differences were impotent to prevent the union. Accordingly, in May, 1532, through his ambassador, the sagacious Du Bellay, Francis promised the discontented Elector of Saxony and his associates the contribution of a large sum to enable them to make a sturdy resistance. But the peace shortly concluded with Charles rendered the proffered aid for a time unnecessary.[303][Pg 148]

and with Henry VIII. of England.

Equally unproductive of advantage to the professors of the reformed faith was the alliance for mutual defence between Francis and Henry the Eighth of England. Both monarchs were inspired with the same hatred of the emperor, and each had equal reason to complain of the insatiable rapacity of the Roman court. But neither at the pompous interview of the two kings at Boulogne, nor afterward, could Henry prevail upon Francis to take any decided measures against the Pope such as the former, weary of the obstacles thrown in the way of his divorce from Catharine of Aragon, was ready to venture. In his intercourse with the English king, Francis is said to have adopted for his guiding principle the motto, "Ami jusqu'à l'autel,"[304] and declined to sacrifice his orthodoxy to his interests. But the truth was that, in the view of Francis, his interests and his orthodoxy were coincident; and the difficulty experienced by the two kings in coming to a common understanding lay in the fact that, as has been well remarked, while in the enmity of Francis it was not the Pope but the emperor that occupied the foremost place, it was just the reverse with Henry.[305]

Meeting of Francis I. and Clement, at Marseilles.
Marriage of Henry of Orleans to Catharine de' Medici.

Francis had no thought of throwing away so valuable an auxiliary in his Italian projects, or of permanently attaching to Charles so dangerous an opponent as the papal power. And thus it happened that, a year from the time of his consultation with Henry, Francis proceeded to Marseilles to extend a still more cordial welcome to Clement himself. The wily pontiff had so dazzled the eyes of the king, that the latter had consented to, if he had not actually proposed, a marriage between Henry, Duke of Orleans, his second son, and Catharine de' Medici, the Pope's niece.[306] The match was not flattering to Francis's pride; but there were great prospective advantages, and the bride was less objectionable because the bridegroom, as a younger son, was not likely to ascend the throne. But here again the king was destined to be disappointed. Clement's death, soon after, destroyed all hope of Medicean support in Italy; and the[Pg 149] death of Francis, the dauphin, made Henry of Orleans heir apparent to the throne. It was not long before the French people, with the soundness of judgment generally characterizing the deliberate conclusions reached by the masses, came to the opinion, expressed by one of the Venetian ambassadors two years after the wedding: "Monseigneur of Orleans is married to Madam Catharine de' Medici, to the dissatisfaction of all France; for it seems to everybody that the most Christian king was cheated by Pope Clement."[307] Such were the evil auspices under which the Italian girl, only fourteen years of age,[308] entered a country over whose destinies she was to exert a pernicious influence.

Francis refuses to join in a crusade against heresy.

There was another part of the Pope's designs in the execution of which he was less successful. He could not persuade Francis to join in a general scheme for the extermination of heresy. In the very first interview, Clement had sounded his host's disposition respecting the propriety of a new crusade. He had bluntly submitted for consideration the question, "Ought not Francis and the pious princes of Germany, with the emperor at their head, to gather up their forces, enlist troops, and make all needful preparations, to overwhelm the followers of Zwingle and Luther; in order that, affrighted by the terrible retribution visited upon their fellows, the remaining heretics should hasten to make their submission to the Roman Church?" At the same time he threw out hints of his ability to assist in the good work if only the French monarch would not refuse his co-operation. But Francis was not ready for so sanguinary an undertaking. Unmoved by the Pope's repeated solicitations, he replied that it seemed to him that "neither piety nor concord would be promoted by substituting an appeal to arms for the appeal to the Holy Scriptures, to whose ultimate decision both Zwinglians and Lutherans professed themselves at all times anxious to submit their doctrines and practice." He added the unpalatable advice that[Pg 150] the matters in dispute be considered by a free and impartial council, and declared that, when the council had rendered its verdict, he would spare no pains to sustain it. All the usual pontifical artifices proved abortive. Francis, while valuing highly the friendship of Rome, was not willing to forego the advantages of alliance with the Elector of Saxony and the Landgrave of Hesse.[309]

While the fickle monarch was thus drawn in opposite directions by conflicting political considerations—at one time strengthening the hands of the Protestant princes of Germany, at another, making common cause with the Pope—the same diversity characterized the internal condition of France.

Execution of Jean de Caturce at Toulouse.

At Toulouse, the seat of one of most noted parliaments, Jean de Caturce, a lawyer of ability, was put to death by slow fire in the summer of 1532. His unpardonable offence was that he had once made a "Lutheran" exhortation, and that, in the merry-making on the Fête des Rois—Epiphany—he had recommended that the prayer, "May Christ reign in our hearts!" be substituted for the senseless cry, "The king drinks!" No more ample ground of accusation was needed in a city where the luckless wight who failed to take off his cap before an image, or fall on his knees when the bell rang out at "Ave Maria," was sure to be set upon as a heretic.[310][Pg 151]

Le Coq's evangelical sermon.

In striking contrast with the tragedy enacted in the chief city of the south was the favor openly showed to the reformers by the Queen of Navarre, not only in her own city of Bourges, but in Paris itself. The intercessions she had addressed to her brother for the victims of priestly persecution had long since betrayed her secret leaning; and the translation of her "Hours" into French by the Bishop of Senlis, who, by her direction, suppressed all that most directly countenanced superstitious beliefs, was naturally taken as strong confirmation of the prevalent suspicion. But, when she introduced Berthault, Courault, and her own almoner, Roussel, to the pulpits of the capital, and protected them in their evangelical labors, the case ceased to admit of doubt.[311] She even persuaded the king to listen to a sermon in which Le Coq, curate of St. Eustache, argued with force against the bodily presence of Christ in the eucharist, and maintained that the very words, "Sursum corda" in the church service, pointed Him out as to be found at the right hand of God in heaven. Indeed, the eloquent preacher had nearly convinced his royal listener, when the Cardinals of Tournon and Lorraine, by a skilful stratagem, succeeded in destroying the impression he had received, and, it is said, in inducing Le Coq to make a retraction.[312] But the opposition to the public proclamation of the reformed doctrines was too formidable for their advocates to stem. Beda and his colleagues in the Sorbonne left no device untried to silence the preachers; and, although the restless syndic was in the end forced to expiate his seditious words and writings by an amende honorable in front of the church of Notre Dame, and died in prison,[313] Roussel and his fellow-preachers had long before been compelled to exchange their public discourses for private exhortations, and finally to discontinue even these and retreat from Paris.[314][Pg 152]

Margaret attacked in the College of Navarre.

Even so, however, the theologians could not contain their indignation at the insult they had received. In the excess of their zeal they went so far as to hold up the king's sister to condemnation and derision, in one of those plays which the students of the Collége de Navarre were accustomed annually to perform, as a scholastic exercise in public oratory (on the first of October, 1533). A gentle queen was here represented as throwing aside needle and distaff, at the crafty suggestion of a tempting fury, and as receiving in lieu of those feminine implements a copy of the Gospels—when, lo! she was suddenly transformed into a cruel tyrant. It was perhaps hard to detect the exact connection between the acceptance of the holy book and so disastrous a change of character—neither the students of the Collége de Navarre nor their teachers thought it worth while to trouble themselves about such trifles—but there was no difficulty in recognizing Margaret in the principal actor of the play, or in deciphering the name of Master Gérard Roussel—Magister Gerardus—in Megæra, the fury with the flaming torch, that seduced her. On complaint of his sister, Francis, in some indignation, ordered the arrest of the author of the insipid drama, as well as of the youthful performers. The former could not be found, and the latter, thanks to the queen's clemency, escaped with a less rigorous punishment than the insult deserved.[315]

Her Miroir de l'âme pécheresse.

An equally audacious act was the insertion of a work published by Margaret, under the title of Le miroir de l'âme pécheresse, in a list of prohibited books. When the university, to whom the censorship of the press was entrusted, was called to account by the king, all the faculties promptly repudiated any intention to cast doubt upon the orthodoxy of his sister, and even the originator of the offensive prohibition was forced to plead ignorance of the authorship of the volume in question. The rector of the university termi[Pg 153]nated the long series of disclaimers by rendering thanks to Francis for his fatherly patience.[316]

Rector Cop's address to the university.

Just a month after the unlucky dramatic representation of the Collége de Navarre, the city was furnished with fresh food for scandal. On All Saints' day (the first of November, 1533), the university assembled according to custom in the church of the Mathurins, to listen to an address delivered by the rector. But Nicholas Cop's discourse was not of the usual type. Under guise of a disquisition on "Christian Philosophy," the orator preached an evangelical sermon, with the First Beatitude for his text, and propounded the view that the forgiveness of sin and eternal life are simple gifts of God's grace that cannot be earned by man's good works.[317]

Its extraordinary character.

Never had academic harangue contained sentiments savoring so strongly of the tenets of the persecuted reformers. True, the rector had not omitted the ordinary invitation to his hearers to join him in the salutation of the Virgin.[318] But even this mark of orthodox Catholicity could not remove the taint of heresy from an address the whole drift of which was to establish the cardinal doctrine of the theology of Luther and Zwingle. It was a bold step. The doctors of the Sorbonne could not suppress their indignation, and Franciscan monks denounced the rector to the Parliament of Paris. When summoned to appear before the court to answer the charges[Pg 154] brought against him, Cop at first endeavored to arouse in the university the traditional jealousy of this invasion of scholastic privileges, claiming that these were violated by his being cited to parliament before he had been in the first instance tried by his peers. And, indeed, after a tumultuous meeting of the university, called at the Mathurins a fortnight after the delivery of Cop's address (the nineteenth of November), the Faculty of Arts came to the same conclusion.[319] But, although the "Four Nations," and apparently the Faculty of Medicine also, promised their support, the Faculties of Theology and Law refused, and Cop did not venture to press his point. Warned of his danger by a friendly tongue, when already on his way to the Palais de Justice, in full official costume and accompanied by his beadles, he consulted his safety by a precipitate flight from the city and from the kingdom.[320]

Calvin the real author.

The incidents just narrated derive their chief interest from the circumstance that they bring to our notice for the first time a young man, Jean Cauvin, or Calvin, of Noyon, soon to figure among the most important actors in the intellectual and religious history of the modern world; for it was not many days before the authorship of the startling theological doctrines enunciated by the rector was directly traced to his friend and bosom companion, the future reformer of Geneva. In fact, Calvin seems to have supplied Cop with the entire address—a production not altogether unworthy of that clear and[Pg 155] vigorous intellect which, within less than two years, conceived the plan of and matured the most orderly and perfect theological treatise of the Reformation—the "Institution Chrétienne." Between the sketch of Christian Philosophy in the discourse written for the rector, and the Christian Institutes, there is, nevertheless, a contrast too striking to be overlooked. And if the salutation to the Virgin, in the exordium, was actually penned by Calvin, as is not improbable, the change in his religious convictions would appear to have been as marked and rapid as the development of his intellectual faculties. At any rate, the recent discovery of the complete manuscript of Nicholas Cop's oration ranks among the most opportune and welcome of antiquarian successes in our times.[321]

He seeks safety in flight.

Calvin was soon reduced to the necessity of following the rector's example in fleeing from Paris; for the part he had had in preparing the address had become the public talk. The young scholar—he was only in his twenty-fifth year—sought for by the sanguinary lieutenant-criminel, Jean Morin, barely made good his escape. Proceeding to Angoulême, he enjoyed, under the friendly roof of Louis de Tillet, a short period of quiet and an opportunity to pursue his favorite studies.[322]

Francis rejects roughly the intercession of the Bernese.

The incessant representations made to the king respecting the rapid progress of "Lutheran" doctrines in France, and perhaps also the occurrence of such incidents as that just mentioned, seem to have been the cause of the adoption of new measures against the Reformation and its professors. Already, in October, Francis had written a rough answer to the Council of[Pg 156] the Canton of Berne, expressing extreme surprise that they had ventured to intercede for the relatives of Guillaume Farel, accused of heresy, and to beg him to give no credit in this matter either to the royal officers or to the inquisitors of the faith.[323] And he had used these significant words: "Desiring the preservation of the name of very Christian king, acquired for us by our predecessors, we have nothing in the world more at heart than the entire extirpation of heresies, and nothing could induce us to suffer them to take root in our kingdom. Of this you may rest well assured, and leave us to proceed against them, without your giving yourselves any solicitude. For neither your prayers, nor those of any one else whomsoever, could be of any avail in this matter with us."[324]

Royal letter to the Bishop of Paris.

On his return from the marriage of his son Henry to Catharine de' Medici, celebrated only four days before Cop's university harangue, Francis was induced to make new provisions for the detection and punishment of dissent. Alarmed by the progress of "Lutheran" sentiments in his very capital, as reported to him by parliament, he not only urged that body to renewed diligence, but directed the Bishop of Paris, the tolerant Jean du Bellay, who may have been suspected of too much supineness in the matter,[325] to confer upon two counsellors of parliament all the authority necessary to act for him, without prejudice to his jurisdiction in other cases.[326][Pg 157] Both parliament and bishop were at the same time notified of the receipt of two fresh bulls, kindly furnished by Pope Clement, at Francis's request, to help in the good work of extirpating "that accursed Lutheran sect."[327]

Elegies on Louis de Berquin.

The number of extant poems on the death of Louis de Berquin attests very clearly the estimate placed upon him by the Roman Catholics as the most dangerous heretic—in fact, the heresiarch of the day. A stanza of eight lines, which seems to have been popular (for it has been discovered in MS. both in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Génin, i. 219, and in the library of Soissons, Bulletin de la Soc. de l'hist. du prot. franç., xi. 131), represents the four elements as conspiring, at God's bidding, to take vengeance upon him:

"Du faux Berquin et de ses documens
Dieu s'est vengé par les quatre élémens:
Terre luy a désnie sépulture;
Feu l'a destruit et sa fausse escripture;
Tisons par eau pluviale arrosez
Se sont plus fort esmeus et embrasez.
Dont (pour la fin du malheureux comprendre)
L'air par les vents en a receu la cendre."

I have been so fortunate as to discover two other poems on the same subject, in a little collection in my possession entitled Martini Theodorici Bellovaci Epigrammata (Parisiis, 1539), which seems to be of such rarity that these pieces may almost be viewed in the light of inedited documents. They are of special interest because of the singular circumstance that this collection of extremely "Catholic" effusions is dedicated to Odet de Coligny, Cardinal of Châtillon, Archbishop of Toulouse, Bishop and Count of Beauvais, elder brother of the more famous Admiral massacred on St. Bartholomew's day. Cardinal Châtillon, created such when only thirteen years old, was, at the time of the publication of this book, a youth of scarcely more than twenty-two, and a devout Roman Catholic, but subsequently, as elsewhere stated, became an avowed Protestant and a prominent Huguenot leader.

In the first of these poems, under the heading of Elegia Ludovici Berquuyni, the writer would almost seem to have had in mind the description by the ancient dramatists of the impious warfare of Capaneus breathing out boastful threats against Jove himself (Septem con. Theb., 416, etc.), or the Titans in conflict with the Gods.[Pg 158]

"Occultum patuit quod non celarier ultra
Debuit. Excellens Jupiter egit opus.
Sublimi elatum dejecit sede potentem,
Qui modo regnabat, qui modo jura dabat,
Quique superbifico regalia limina gressu
Tantum incedebat, pastus honore levi,
Et cedrina petens famæ monimenta perennis.
Insigni optabat sanctior esse Numa.
Lector, Ave, et causam properes dignoscere: casus
Hæreseos fœda labe volutus erat.
Hoc impune nefas solida an ratione stetisset,
Et Petri hausissent æquora vasta ratim,
Inviolata fides æterno permanet ævo.
Percutit injustos ira molesta Dei;
Quem neque præmeditans latuit Nero, funera cujus
Distulit adversa in tempora longa vice.
Occidit ergo miser, Divumque hominumque favore,
Traduxitque illuc sors malesuada virum.
Nil gravius pugnare Deo, pugnare feroci
Fortunæ. Vinci magnus uterque nequit."

The other elegy is shorter and less striking in conception, but gives a similar impression of the importance assigned to Louis de Berquin's activity and influence:

"Francia dum hymnidico resonet pæane juventus,
Parisia extincto gaudeat hoste phalanx.
Hic dudum, et nuper morbo scabiosus edaci,
Francorum reliquas inficiebat oves.
Cognitus haud potuit mundari errore nefando,
Quin purgaretur lucidiore foco.
Nam quamvis concessa esset clementia, durus
Obstitit, et rapido malluit igne mori."

The library of Soissons contains a MS. lament from a Protestant source over the death of De Berquin, which is at once simple and touching. It is printed in the Bulletin, xi. 129-131.

[Pg 159]



It appears almost incredible that, so late as in the year 1534, the hope of reuniting the discordant views of the partisans of reform and the adherents of the Roman Church should have been seriously entertained by any considerable number of reflecting minds, for the chasm separating the opposing parties was too wide and deep to be bridged over or filled. There were irreconcilable differences of doctrine and practice, and tendencies so diverse as to preclude the possibility of harmonious action.

Hopes of reunion in the church.

Not so, however, thought many sincere persons on both sides, and not less on the side of the Reformation than on that of the Roman Catholic Church. True, the claims of the papacy were insupportable, and the most flagrant abuses prevailed; but many of the reformers believed it quite within the bounds of possibility that the great body of the supporters of the church might be brought to recognize and renounce these abuses, and break the tyrannical yoke that had, for so many centuries, rested upon the neck of the faithful. The ancient fabric of religion, they said, is indeed disfigured by modern additions, and has been brought, by long neglect, to the very verge of ruin. But these tasteless excrescences can easily be removed, the ravages of time reverently repaired, and the grand old edifice restored to its pristine symmetry and magnificence. In a word, it was a general reformation that was contemplated—no radical reconstruction after a novel plan. And the future council, in which all phases of opinion[Pg 160] would be freely represented, was to provide the adequate and sufficient cure for all the ills afflicting the body politic and ecclesiastic.

By some of the more sanguine adherents of both parties these flattering expectations were long entertained. With others the attempt to effect a religious reconciliation seems to have served merely as a mask to hide political designs; and at this distance of time it is among the most difficult problems of history to determine the proportion in which earnest zeal and rank insincerity entered as factors into the measures undertaken for the purpose of reconciling theological differences. Especially is this true respecting the overtures made by the French monarch to Philip Melanchthon, which now claim our attention.

Melanchthon and Du Bellay.
A plan of reconciliation.

Early in the spring of the year 1534 Melanchthon received a courteous visit at Wittemberg from an agent of the distinguished French diplomatist, Guillaume du Bellay-Langey, envoy to the Protestant princes of Germany. The interview paved the way for a long correspondence between Melanchthon and Du Bellay himself, in which the latter threw out suggestions of the practicability of some plan for bringing the intelligent and candid men in both countries to adopt a common ground in respect to religion. Finally, in response to Du Bellay's earnest request, his correspondent consented to draw up such a scheme as appeared to himself proper to serve for the basis of union. The result was a paper of a truly wonderful character, in which the reader scarcely knows whether to admire the evident charity dictating every line, or to smile at the simplicity betrayed in the extravagant concessions. In a letter accompanying his proposal Melanchthon set forth at some length both his motives and his hopes. In touching upon controverted points, he claimed to have exhibited a moderation that would prove to be not without utility to the church. He professed his own belief that an accommodation might be effected on every doctrinal point, if only a free and amicable conference were to be held, under royal auspices, between a few good and learned men. The subjects of dispute were less numerous than was generally supposed, and the edge of many a sharply drawn[Pg 161] theological distinction had been insensibly worn away by the softening hand of time. By such a conference as he proposed the perils of a public discussion could be avoided—a form of controversy fatal, for the most part, to the peace of the unlearned. In fact, no radical change was absolutely required in the ancient order or in ecclesiastical polity. Not even the pontifical authority itself need necessarily be abolished; for it was the desire of the Lutheran party, so far as possible, to retain all the accustomed forms. In fine, he begged Du Bellay to exhort the monarchs of Europe to concord while yet there was room left for the counsels of moderation. What calamities might otherwise be in store! What a ruin both of church and state, should a collision of arms be precipitated![328]

But Melanchthon's ardor had carried him far beyond his true reckoning. No other reformer could have brought himself to approve the articles now submitted for the king's perusal; while it was certain that not even this unbounded liberality would satisfy the exorbitant demands of the Roman party.

Melanchthon's concessions.

Melanchthon not only admitted that an ecclesiastical system with bishops in many cities was lawful, but that the Roman pontiff might preside over the entire episcopate. He countenanced, to a certain extent, the current doctrine respecting human tradition and the retention of auricular confession. He discerned a gradual approach to concord in respect to justification, and found no difficulty in the divergent views of free will and original sin. He did, indeed, insist upon the rejection of the worship of saints, and advocate expunging from the ritual all appeals for their assistance. So, too, monks ought to be allowed to forsake the cloister, and monastic establishments could then be advantageously turned into schools of learning. The celibacy of the clergy should, in like manner, be forthwith granted. There was, however, in his view, one point that bristled with difficulties. How to remove them Melanchthon confessed himself unable to suggest. The question of the popish mass was the Gordian knot which[Pg 162] must be reserved for the future council of the church to untie or cut.[329]

His own misgivings.

A faint suspicion seems, however, to have flitted through the Wittemberg reformer's mind, that possibly, after all his large admissions, his attempt was but labor lost! For, in a letter to Martin Bucer, written on the very day he despatched his communication to Du Bellay, he more than hinted his own despair of effecting an agreement with the Pope of Rome, and excused himself for his apparently lavish proffers, on the plea that he was desirous of making his good French friends comprehend the chief points of controversy![330]

A favorable impression made on Francis.

Melanchthon's articles, faithfully transmitted by Du Bellay, produced on the mind of Francis a favorable impression. The ambitious monarch welcomed the prospect of a speedy removal of the doctrinal differences that had previously marred the perfect understanding he wished to maintain with the Protestant princes of Germany. Whether, however, any higher motives than considerations of a political character weighed with him, may well be doubted.

Meantime, an unexpected occurrence for the time dispelled all thought of that harvest of conciliation and harmony which the more moderate reformers looked for as likely to spring up from the seed so liberally sown by Melanchthon.

Indiscreet partisans of reform.

If, among the advocates of the purification of the church, there was a party which, with Melanchthon, seemed ready to jeopard some of the most vital principles of the great moral and religious movement, in the vain hope of again cementing an unnatural union with the Roman system, there was another faction, to which moderation and half-way measures were utterly repulsive. Its partisans believed themselves warranted in resorting to open acts expressive of detestation of the gilded idolatry of the popular religion. For their views they alleged the Old Testament history as sufficient authority. Had not the servants of Jehovah braved the resentment of the priests of Baal, and disregarded the threats[Pg 163] of kings and queens? Why treat the saints' images, the crucifixes, the gorgeous robes and manufactured relics, with more consideration than was displayed by Hebrew prophets in dealing with heathen abominations? So inveterate an evil as the corruption of all that is most sacred in Christianity could only be successfully combated by vigor and decision. Only under heavy and repeated blows does the monarch of the forest yield to the axe of the woodman.

Between the extremes of ill-judged concession and untimely rashness, the great body of those who had embraced the Reformation endeavored to hold a middle course, but found themselves exposed to many perils, not the result of their own actions, but brought upon them by the timidity or foolhardiness of their associates. A lamentable instance of the kind must now be noticed.

Placards and pasquinades.

For many months the street-walls of Paris had been employed by both sides in the great controversies of the day, for the purpose of giving publicity to their views. Under cover of night, placards, often in the form of pasquinades, were posted where they would be likely to meet the eyes of a large number of curious readers. So, in the excitement following the arrest and exile of Beda and other impertinent and seditious preachers, placards succeeded each other nightly. In one the theologians of the Sorbonne were portrayed to the life, and each in all his proper colors, by an unfriendly pencil. In another, "Paris, flower of nobility" was passionately entreated to sustain the wounded faith of God, and the King of Glory was supplicated to confound "the accursed dogs," the Lutherans.[331] Under the circumstances, it was not strange that the "Lutheran" placard was hastily torn down by some zealot, with[Pg 164] the exclamation that the author was a heretic, while a crowd stood all day about the other transcribing its unpoetic but pious exhortations to burn the offenders against Divine justice, and no one attempted to remove it.

Mission of Féret to Switzerland.

The success of this method of reaching the masses, who could never be induced to read a formal treatise or book, suggested to some of the more ardent "Lutherans" of Paris the idea of preparing a longer placard, which should boldly attack the cardinal errors of the papal system of religion. But, the press being closely watched in the French capital, it was thought best to have the placard printed in Switzerland, where, indeed, the most competent and experienced hands might be found for composing such a paper. The messenger employed was a young man named Féret, an apprentice of the king's apothecary;[332] and the printing seems to have been done in the humble but famous establishment of Pierre Van Wingle, in the retired Vale of Serrières, just out of Neufchâtel, and on the same presses which, in 1533, gave to the world the first French reformed liturgy, and, two years later, the Protestant translation of the Bible into the French language by Olivetanus.[333] There is less certainty respecting the authorship, but it seems highly probable that not Farel, but an enthusiastic and somewhat hot-headed writer, Antoine de Marcourt, must be held responsible for this imprudent production.[334]

The placard against the mass.

Féret, having on his return eluded detection at the frontiers, reached Paris in safety. He brought with him a large number of copies of a broadside headed, "True Articles respecting the horrible, great and insupportable Abuses of the Papal Mass." Among those to whom the[Pg 165] paper was secretly submitted, there were some who, more prudent than the rest, decidedly opposed its publication. It was too violent, they said. The writer's ill-advised severity would answer no good purpose. The tract would alienate the sympathy of many, and thus retard, instead of advancing, the cause it advocated.[335] Remonstrance, however, proved futile.

Early on the morning of the eighteenth of October, 1534, a placard was found posted upon the walls in all the principal thoroughfares of the metropolis. Everywhere it was read with horror and indignation, mingled with rage; and loud threats and curses were uttered against its unknown author.

The document that called forth these expressions and was the occasion of more important commotions in the sequel, had so direct and potent an influence upon the fortunes of the Reformation in France that it cannot be passed over without a brief reference to the general character of its contents. It began with a solemn address: "I invoke heaven and earth in testimony of the truth, against that proud and pompous papal mass, through which (if God remedy not speedily the evil) the world will be wholly desolated, destroyed, and ruined. For therein is our Lord so outrageously blasphemed and the people so blinded and seduced, that it ought no longer to be suffered or endured." Every Christian must needs be assured that the one sacrifice of Christ, being perfect, demands no repetition. Still the world has long been, and now is, flooded with wretched sacrificing priests, who yet proclaim themselves liars, inasmuch as they chant every Sunday in their vespers, that Christ is a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec. Wherefore not only every man of sound understanding, but "they themselves, in spite of themselves, must admit that the Pope and all his brood of cardinals, bishops, monks, and canting mass-priests, with all who consent thereunto, are false prophets, damnable deceivers, apostates, wolves, false shepherds, idolaters, seducers, liars and execrable blasphemers, murderers of souls, renouncers of Jesus Christ, of his death and passion, false witnesses, traitors, thieves, and rob[Pg 166]bers of the honor of God, and more detestable than devils." After citing from the book of Hebrews some passages to establish the sufficiency of Christ, the writer addresses his opponents: "I demand then of all sacrificing priests, whether their sacrifice be perfect or imperfect? If imperfect, why do they deceive the poor people? If perfect, why need it be repeated? Come forward, priests, and reply if you can!"

The body of Christ cannot, it is argued, be contained in the host. It is above, whither also we are bidden raise our hearts and look for the Lord. To breathe or mutter over the bread and wine, and then adore them, is idolatry. To enjoin this adoration on others is a doctrine of devils. But these impudent heretics, not ashamed of attempting to imprison the body of Jesus in their wafer, have even dared to place this caution in the rubric of their missals, "If the body of our Lord, being devoured of mice or spiders, has been destroyed or much gnawed, or if the worm be found altogether within, let it be burned and placed in the reliquary." "O Earth! How dost thou not open and swallow up these horrible blasphemers! Wretched men, is this the body of the Lord Jesus, the true Son of God? Doth he suffer himself to be eaten of mice and spiders? He who is the bread of angels and of all the children of God, is he given to us to become the food of animals? Will ye make him who is incorruptible at the right hand of God to be the prey of worms and corruption? Were there no other error than this in your infernal theology, well would ye deserve the fagot! Light then your fires to burn yourselves, not us who refuse to believe in your idols, your new gods, and new Christs that suffer themselves to be eaten indifferently by animals and by you who are no better than animals!"[336] Closing with a vivid contrast between the fruits of the mass and those of the true Supper of our Lord, the writer finally exclaims of his opponents, "Truth fails them, Truth threatens and pursues them, Truth[Pg 167] terrifies them; by which their reign shall shortly be destroyed forever."[337]

The popular excitement in Paris.

It would be difficult to exaggerate the effect produced upon the populace of Paris by this intemperate handbill. If any part of the ceremonial of the church was deeply rooted in the devotion of the common people, it was the service of the mass. And in attacking the doctrine of the Real Presence, the authors of this libel, distributed under cover of the darkness, had, in the estimation of the rabble, proved themselves more impious and deserving a more signal punishment than that sacrilegious Jew whose knife had drawn drops of miraculous blood from the transubstantiated wafer. Not the parish priests, nor the doctors of the Sorbonne, could surpass the infuriated populace in loud execrations of the wretch for whom burning alive seemed too mild a punishment.

Anger of the king.

But a second act of ill-timed rashness accomplished a result even more disastrous for Protestantism than the kindling of the fanatical zeal of the people; for it inflamed the anger of the king, and made him, what all the persuasions of the Roman court had hitherto failed to make him, a determined enemy and persecutor of the "new doctrines." A copy of the placard was secretly affixed by night to the very door of the royal bedchamber in the castle of Amboise,[338] where Francis and his court were at the time sojourning. If the contents of the tract offended the religious principles carefully inculcated upon the king by his spiritual instructors, the audacity of the person who, disregarding bars, bolts and guards, had presumed to invade the privacy of the royal abode and obtrude his unwelcome message, could not but be regarded in the light of a direct personal insult. Francis had not been in the habit of troubling himself about the private opinions of the learned on vexed points of theology; nor had he been inclined to permit his[Pg 168] more fanatical subjects to harass any of those eminent scholars whose literary attainments added lustre to his brilliant court. Yet his claim to the right of enforcing uniformity of belief—and that uniformity a complete conformity to his own creed—had rather been held in abeyance than relinquished. Louis de Berquin had, at his cost, discovered that the royal protection could not be expected even by a personal favorite and a scholar of large acquisitions, when, not content with holding doctrines deemed heretical, he strove to promulgate them. The interposition of Margaret of Angoulême had proved unavailing in his behalf. The heretics who had now ventured to nail an exposé of their dogmas on his bedchamber door could scarcely anticipate greater clemency.

Political considerations.

To personal motives were added political considerations. Indulgence to the perpetrators of an act so insulting to the Roman Catholic religion might drive the pontiff, whose friendship was an essential requisite of success in Francis's ambitious projects, to become the fast friend of the emperor, his rival. Pope Clement the Seventh had been succeeded by Paul the Third. The alliance cemented by the marriage of the Duke of Orleans to Catharine de' Medici had been dissolved by the death of the bride's uncle. The favor of the new Pope must be conciliated. Under such circumstances, what were the sufferings of a few poor reformers, when weighed in the balance against the triple crown of his Holiness?

Fruitless intercession of Margaret.

Francis determined to return to Paris for the purpose of superintending in person a search for the culprits. It is true that the Queen of Navarre attempted to moderate his anger by suggesting that it was not unlikely that the placard, far from being composed by the "Lutherans," was the cunning device of their enemies, who thus sought to insure the ruin of the innocent. But the king appears not unreasonably to have rejected the suggestion as improbable; although, seven years later, Margaret reminded him of her surmise, and maintained that the sequel had strongly confirmed its accuracy.[339][Pg 169]

Francis abolishes the art of printing.

Far, indeed, from yielding to his sister's persuasions, Francis in his anger took a step which he would certainly have been glad himself, a few months later, to be able to forget, and of which his panegyrists have fruitlessly striven to obliterate the memory. On the thirteenth of January, 1535, after the lapse of nearly three months from the date of the publication of the placards—an interval that might surely be regarded as sufficiently long to permit his overheated passions to cool down—the king sent to the Parliament of Paris an Edict absolutely prohibiting any exercise of the Art of Printing in France, on pain of the halter! It was no secret from whom the ignoble suggestion had come. A year and a half earlier (on the seventh of June, 1533), the theologians of the Sorbonne had presented Francis an urgent petition, in view of the multiplication of heretical books, wherein they set forth the absolute necessity of suppressing forever by a severe law the pestilent art which had been the parent of so dangerous a progeny.[340] The king was now acting upon the advice of his ghostly counsellors!

He suspends the disgraceful edict.

Happily for Francis, however, whose ambition it had hitherto been to figure as a modern Mæcenas, even a subservient parliament declined the customary registration. The king, too, coming to his senses after the lapse of six weeks, so far yielded to[Pg 170] the remonstrances of his more sensible courtiers as to recall his rash edict, or, rather, suspend its operation until he could give the matter more careful consideration. Meanwhile he undertook to institute a censorship. The king was to select twelve persons of quality and pecuniary responsibility, from a list of twice that number of names submitted by parliament; and this commission was to receive the exclusive right to print—and that, in the city of Paris alone—such books as might be approved by the proper authorities and be found necessary to the public weal. Until the appointment of the twelve censors the press was to remain idle! Nor was the suspension of the prohibitory ordinance to continue a day longer than the term required by the monarch to decide whether he preferred to modify its provisions or leave them unchanged. "Albeit on the thirteenth day of January, 1534,"[341] wrote this much lauded patron of letters, "by other letters-patent of ours, and for the causes and reasons therein contained, we prohibited and forbade any one from thenceforth printing, or causing to be printed, any books in our kingdom, on pain of the halter: nevertheless, we have willed and ordained that the execution and accomplishment of our said letters, prohibitions and injunctions, be and continue suspended and surcease until we shall otherwise provide."[342]

Vigorous proceedings of parliament.

Meantime, parliament had not been slack in obeying the command to search diligently for the authors and publishers of[Pg 171] the placards. Many reputed "Lutherans" had been arrested, some of whom, it was given out, pretended to reveal the existence of a plot of the reformers to fall upon the good Christians of the metropolis while assembled in their churches for divine worship, and assassinate them in the midst of their devotions! The credulous populace made no difficulty in accepting the tale. Paris shuddered at the thought of its narrow escape, and some hundreds of thousands of men and women reverently crossed themselves and thanked heaven they had not fallen a prey to the blood-thirsty designs of a handful of peaceable and unarmed adherents of the "new doctrines!" As for Francis himself, a grave historian tells us that his apprehensions were inflamed by the very mention of the word "conspiracy."[343]

Abundance of victims.

The investigation had been committed to practised hands. The prosecuting officer, or lieutenant-criminel, Morin, was as famous for his cunning as he was notorious for his profligacy. Moreover, the judicious addition of six hundred livres parisis to his salary afforded him a fresh stimulus and prevented his zeal from flagging.[344] The timidity or treachery of one of the prisoners facilitated the inquest. Terrified by the prospect of torture and death, or induced by hope of reward, a person, obscurely designated as le Guainier, or Gueynier,[345] made an ample disclosure of the names and residences of his former fellow-believers. The pursuit was no longer confined to those who had been concerned in the distribution of the placards. All reputed heretics were apprehended, and, as rapidly as their trials could be prosecuted, condemned to death. There was a rare harvest of falsehood and misrepresentation. No wonder that innocent and guilty were involved in one common fate.[346][Pg 172]

It does not come within the scope of this history to give an edifying account of the courage displayed by the victims of the frenzy consequent upon the placards. The very names of many are unknown. Among the first to be committed to the flames was a young man, Barthélemi Milon, whom paralysis had deprived of the use of the lower half of his body.[347] His unpardonable offence was that copies of the placard against the mass had been found in his possession. A wealthy draper, Jean du Bourg, had been guilty of the still more heinous crime of having posted some of the bills on the walls. For this he was compelled before execution to go through that solemn mockery of penitence, the amende honorable, in front of the church of Notre Dame, with but a shirt to conceal his nakedness, and holding a lighted taper in his hand; afterward to be conducted to the Fontaine des Innocents, and there have the hand that had done the impious deed cut off at the wrist, in token of the public detestation of his "high treason against God and the king." A printer, a bookseller, a mason, a young man in orders, were subjected to the same cruel death. But these were only the first fruits of the prosecution.[348] However opinions may differ respecting the merits of the cause for which they suffered, there can be but one view taken of their deportment in the trying hour of execution. In the presence of the horrible preparatives for torture, the most clownish displayed a[Pg 173] fortitude and a noble consciousness of honest purpose, contrasted with which the pusillanimous dejection, the unworthy concessions, and the premeditated perjury of Francis, during his captivity at Madrid not ten years before, appear in no enviable light. The monarch who bartered away his honor to regain his liberty[349] might have sat at the feet of these, his obscure subjects, to learn the true secret of greatness.

The great expiatory procession.

The punishment of the persons who had taken part in the preparation and dissemination of the placards was deemed an insufficient atonement for a crime in the guilt of which they had involved the city, and, indeed, the whole kingdom. As the offence excelled in enormity any other within the memory of man, so it was determined to expiate it by a solemn procession unparalleled for magnificence. Thursday, the twenty-first of January, 1535, was chosen for the pageant. Along the line of march the streets had been carefully cleaned. A public proclamation had bidden every householder display from his windows the most beautiful and costly tapestries he possessed. At the doors of all private mansions large waxen tapers burned, and, at the intersection of all side streets, wooden barriers, guarded by soldiers, precluded the possibility of interruption.

Early on the appointed morning, the entire body of the clergy of Paris, decked out in their most splendid robes and bearing the insignia of their respective ranks, assembled in Notre Dame, and thence in solemn state marched to the church of St. Germain l'Auxerrois, to meet the king. Sixteen dignitaries bore[Pg 174] aloft the precious reliquary of Sainte Geneviève; others in similar honor supported the no less venerated reliquary of Saint Marcel. Those skilled in local antiquities averred that never before had the sacred remains of either saint been known to be brought across the Seine to grace any similar display.

At Saint Germain l'Auxerrois—that notable church under the very shadow of the Louvre, whose bell, a generation later, gave the first signal for the massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day—the royal court and the civil and municipal bodies that had been permitted to appear on so august an occasion, were in waiting. At length the magnificent column began its progress, and threading the crowded streets of St. Honoré and St. Denis, made its way, over the bridge of Notre Dame, to the island upon which stood and still stands the stately cathedral dedicated to Our Lady. Far on in the van rode Éléonore, Francis's second queen, sister to the emperor, conspicuous for her dignified bearing, dressed in black velvet and mounted on a palfrey with housings of cloth of gold. In her company were the king's daughters by his former wife, the "good Queen Claude," all in dresses of crimson satin embroidered with gold; while a large number of princesses and noble ladies, with attendant gentlemen and guards, constituted their escort.

The monastic orders came next. Franciscans, Dominicans, Augustinians, Carmelites, all were there, with burning tapers and highly prized relics. The parish churches were represented in like manner by their clergy; and these were followed by the chapter of the cathedral and by the multitudinous professors and scholars of the university. Between this part of the procession and the next, came a detachment of the Swiss guards of the king, armed with halberds, and a band of skilled musicians performing, on trumpets, hautboys, and other instruments, the airs of the solemn hymns of the church.

An honorable place was held by the ecclesiastics of the "Sainte Chapelle," originally built by Louis the Ninth, in the precincts of his own palace, for the reception of the marvellous relics he brought home from Holy Land. Those relics were all here, together with the other costly possessions of the chapel—the crown of thorns, the true cross, Aaron's rod that[Pg 175] budded, the great crown of St. Louis, the head of the holy lance, one of the nails used in our Lord's crucifixion, the tables of stone, some of the blood of Christ, the purple robe, and the milk of the Virgin Mary—all borne in jewelled reliquaries by bishops.

Four cardinals in scarlet robes followed—Givri, Tournon, Le Veneur, and Châtillon—an uncongenial group, in which the violent persecutor and the future partisan of the Reformation walked side by side. But the central point in the entire procession was occupied not by these, but by Jean du Bellay, Bishop of Paris, bearing aloft a silver cross in which was enclosed the consecrated wafer of the eucharist, whose title to adoration it was the grand object of the celebration to vindicate. The king's three sons—the dauphin, and the Dukes of Orleans and Angoulême—with a fourth prince of the blood—the Duke of Bourbon Vendôme—held the supports of a magnificent canopy of velvet, sprinkled with golden fleurs-de-lis, above the bishop and his sacred charge. Francis himself walked behind him, with a retinue of nobles, officers of government, judges of parliament, and other civilians closing the line. The king was naturally the object of universal observation.

Dressed in robes of black velvet lined with costly furs, he devoutly followed the elevated host, with uncovered head, and with a large waxen taper in his hands. Several stations had, at great expense, been erected along the designated route. At each of these the procession halted, and the Bishop of Paris placed the silver cross with its precious contents in a niche made to receive it. Then the king, having handed his taper to the Cardinal of Lorraine at his side, knelt down and reverently worshipped with joined hands, until a grand anthem in honor of the sacrament had been intoned. The scene had been well studied, and it made the desired impression upon the by-standers. "There was no one among the people," say the registers of the Hôtel de Ville in unctuous phrase, "be he small or great, that did not shed warm tears and pray God in behalf of the king, whom he beheld performing so devout an act and worthy of long remembrance. And it is to be believed that there lives not a Jew nor an infidel who, had he witnessed the example of[Pg 176] the prince and his people, would not have been converted to the faith."[350]

Memorable speech of the king.

At the conclusion of the mass—the most brilliant that had ever been celebrated within the walls of the cathedral, Francis proceeded to the episcopal palace, to dine in public, with the princes his children, the high nobility, cardinals, ambassadors, privy counsellors, and some of the judges of the Parliament of Paris. Here it was that he delivered a speech memorable in the history of the great religious movement of the time. Addressing parliament and representatives of the lower judiciary, Francis plainly disclaimed all sympathy with the Reformation. "The errors," he said, "which have multiplied, and are even now multiplying, are but of our own days. Our fathers have shown us how to live in accordance with the word of God and of our mother Holy Church. In that church I am resolved to live and die, and I am determined to prove that I am entitled to be called Very Christian. I notify you that it is my will that these errors be driven from my kingdom. Nor shall I excuse any from the task. Were one of my arms infected with this poison, I should cut it off! Were my own children contaminated, I should immolate them![351] I therefore now impose this duty upon you, and relieve myself of[Pg 177] responsibility." Turning to the doctors of the university, the king reminded them that the care of the faith was entrusted to them, and he therefore appealed to them to watch over the orthodoxy of all teachers and report all defections to the secular courts.

Constancy of the sufferers.

Francis had spoken in the heat of passion, but, in the words of a contemporary, "if his fury was great, still greater was the constancy of the martyrs."[352] Of this, indeed, the king did not have to wait long for a proof. For, after having witnessed, in company with the queen, the amende honorable of six condemned "Lutherans" or "Christaudins," which took place on the square in front of the cathedral, Francis, as he returned to the Louvre, passed the places where these unfortunates were undergoing their supreme torments—three near the Croix du Tiroir, in the Rue St. Honoré, and three at the Halles. The first were men of some note—Simon Fouhet, of Auvergne, one of the royal choristers, supposed to have been the person who posted the placard in the castle of Amboise, Audebert Valleton, of Nantes, and Nicholas L'Huillier, from the Châtelet of Paris. The others were of an inferior station in life—a fruitster, a maker of wire-baskets, and a joiner. All, however, with almost equal composure, submitted to their fate as to the will of Heaven, rather than the sentence of human judges; scarcely seeming, in their firm anticipation of an immortal crown, to notice the tumultuous outcries of an infuriated mob which nearly succeeded in snatching them from the officers of the law, in order to have the satisfaction of tearing their bodies to pieces.[353]

Ingenious contrivance for protracting torture.

It would seem, however, that the most relentless enemy could scarcely have complained that any womanish indulgence had been shown to the persons singled out to expiate the crime of posting the placard against the mass. To delay the advent of death, the sole term of their excruciating sufferings, an ingeniously contrived instrument of torture was put in play, which if not altogether novel, had at least been but seldom employed up to this time. Instead of[Pg 178] being bound to the stake and simply roasted to death by means of the fagots heaped up around him, the victim was now suspended by chains over a blazing fire, and was alternately lowered into it and drawn out—a refinement of cruelty whose principal recommendation to favor lay in the fact that the diversion it afforded the spectators could be made to last until they were fully satisfied, and the executioner chose to allow the writhing sufferer to be suffocated in the flames.[354] So satisfactory were the results of the Estrapade, that it came to be universally employed as the instrument for executing "Lutherans," with the exception of a favored few, to whom the privilege was accorded of being hung or strangled before their bodies were thrown into the fire. Such was, soon after this time, the fate of a woman, a school-teacher by profession, found guilty of heresy. In any case, the judges took effectual measures to forestall the deplorable consequences that might ensue from permitting the "Lutherans" to address the by-standers, and so pervert them from the orthodox faith. The hangman was instructed to pierce their tongue with a hot iron, or to cut it out altogether; just as, at a later date, the sound of the drum was employed to drown the last utterances of the victims of despotism.[355]

Flight of Marot.

The flames of persecution were not extinguished with the conclusion of the solemn expiatory pageant. For months strangers sojourning in Paris shuddered at the horrible sights almost daily meeting their eyes.[356] The lingering hope that a prince naturally clement and averse to needless bloodshed, would at length tire of countenancing these continuous scenes of atrocity,[Pg 179] seemed gradually to fade away. Great numbers of the most intelligent and scholarly consulted their safety in flight; the friendly court of Renée of France, Duchess of Ferrara, affording, for a time, asylum to Clément Marot, the poet, and to many others. Meantime the suspected "Lutherans" that could not be found were summoned by the town-crier to appear before the proper courts for trial. A list of many such has escaped destruction of time.[357] Fortunately, most of them had gotten beyond the reach of the officers of the law, and the sentence could, at most, effect only the confiscation of their property.

Royal declaration of Coucy, July 16, 1535.

As summer advanced, however, the rigor of the persecution was perceived to be somewhat abating. Finally, on the sixteenth of July, the king so far yielded to the urgency of open or secret friends of progress among the courtiers, as to issue a "Declaration" to facilitate the return of the fugitives. "Forasmuch," said Francis, "as the heresies, which, to our great displeasure, had greatly multiplied in our kingdom, have ceased, as well by the Divine clemency and goodness, as by the diligence we have used in the exemplary punishment of many of their adherents—who, nevertheless, were not in their last hours abandoned by the hand of our Lord, but, turning to Him, have repented, and made public confession of their errors, and died like good Christians and Catholics—no further prosecution of persons suspected of heresy shall be made, but they will be discharged from imprisonment, and their goods restored. For the same reason, all fugitives who return and abjure their errors within six months will receive pardon. But Sacramentarians[358] and the relapsed are excluded from this offer. Furthermore, all men are forbidden, under[Pg 180] pain of the gallows, and of being held rebels and disturbers of the public peace, to read, teach, translate or print, whether publicly or in private, any doctrine contrary to the Christian faith."[359] The concession, it must be confessed, was not a very liberal one; for the exiles could return only on condition of recanting. Yet the new regulations were mild in comparison with the previous practice, which consigned all the guilty alike to death, and left no room for repentance. Consequently, there were not a few, especially of the learned who had been suspected of heresy, that were found ready to avail themselves of the permission, even on the prescribed terms.

Alleged intercession of Pope Paul III.

In explanation of this change in the policy of Francis, the most remarkable rumors circulated among the people. Not the least strange was one that has been preserved for us by a contemporary.[360] It was reported in the month of June, 1535, that Pope Paul the Third, having been informed of "the horrible and execrable" punishments inflicted by the king upon the "Lutherans," wrote to Francis and begged him to moderate his severity. The pontiff did, indeed, express his conviction that the French monarch had acted with the best intentions, and in accordance with his claim to be called the Very Christian King. But he added, that when God, our Creator, was on earth, He employed mercy rather than strict justice. Rigor ought not always to be resorted to; and this burning of men alive was a cruel death, and better calculated to lead to rejection of the faith than to conversion.[361] He therefore prayed the king to appease his anger, to abate the severity of justice, and grant pardon to the guilty. Francis, consequently, because of his desire to please his Holiness, became more moderate, and enjoined upon parliament to practise[Pg 181] less harshness. For this reason the judges ceased from criminal proceedings against the "Lutherans," and many prisoners were discharged both from the Conciergerie and from the Châtelet.

That this extraordinary rumor was in general circulation appears from the circumstance that it is alluded to by a Paris correspondent of Melanchthon; while another account that has recently come to light states it not as a flying report, but as a well-ascertained fact.[362] Its singularity is shown from its apparent inconsistency with the well-known history and sentiments of the Farnese Paul. It is difficult to conceive how the pontiff who approved of the Society of Jesus and instituted the Inquisition in the kingdom of Naples, could have been touched with compassion at the recital of the suffering of French heretics. Yet the paradoxes of history are too numerous to permit us to reject as apocryphal a story so widely current, or to explain it away by making it only a popular echo of the convictions of the more enlightened as to the views that were most befitting the claimant to a universal episcopate.

Clemency again dictated by policy.

Francis himself, however, made no such statement to the Venetian ambassador at his court. Marino Giustiniano, who gave in his report to the doge and senate this very year, was informed by the French king that, on hearing of the suspension by the Emperor Charles the Fifth of all sentences of death against the Flemish heretics, he had also himself ordered that against every species of heretics, except the Sacramentarians, proceedings should indeed be held as before, but not to the extremity of death.[363] It is evident,[Pg 182] therefore, that the suppression of the most cruel features of the persecution had no higher motive than political considerations. Francis had worked himself into a frenzy, and counterfeited the sincerity of a bigot, when it was necessary to make the Pope a friend, and a show of sanguinary ardor seemed most adapted to accomplish his object. He now became tolerant, on discovering that the course he had entered upon was alienating the Protestant princes of Germany, upon whose support he relied in his contest with Charles the Fifth. The turning-point appears to have been coincident with the time when he found that the emperor was endeavoring to outbid him by offering a short-lived toleration to the Netherlanders.

Francis writes to the German princes.

Only eleven days after the solemn propitiatory procession, and while the trial and execution of the French reformers were still in progress, Francis had written to his allies beyond the Rhine, in explanation of the severe punishment of which such shocking accounts had been circulated in their dominions. He justified his course by alleging the disorderly and rebellious character of the culprits, and laid great stress upon the care he had taken to secure German Protestants from danger and annoyance.[364]

Melanchthon entreated to come to France.

A month later, Voré de la Fosse was on his way to Wittemberg, on a private mission to Melanchthon. He was bearer of a long and important letter from John Sturm. The learned writer, a German scholar of eminence and a friend of the reformed doctrines, was at this time lecturing in Paris, and after his departure from Francis's dominions, became rector of the infant university of Strasbourg. He contrasted the hopeful strain in which he had described to his correspondent the prospects of religion, a year since, with the terrors of the present situation. Crediting the king with the best intentions, he cast the blame of so disastrous a change upon the insane authors of the placards, who had drawn on themselves a punishment that would have been well deserved, had it been moderate in degree. But, unhappily, the innocent had[Pg 183] been involved with the guilty, and informers had gratified private malice by magnifying the offence. Francis had, it was true, been led, at the intercession of Guillaume du Bellay and his brother, the Bishop of Paris, to interpose his authority and protect the Germans residing in his realm. But, none the less, he begged Melanchthon to fly to his succor, and to exert an influence over the king which was the result of Voré's continual praise, in putting an end to this unfortunate state of things. Francis, he added, was willing to give pledges for the reformer's safety, and would send him back in great honor to his native land, after the conclusion of the proposed conference. "Lay aside, therefore," wrote Sturm, "the consideration of kings and emperors, and believe that the voice that calls you is the voice of God and of Christ."[365] Voré followed up this invitation with great earnestness both in personal interviews and by letter.[366]

His perplexity.

What answer should the reformer give to so pressing an invitation? In his acknowledgment of Sturm's letter, Melanchthon confessed that no deliberation had ever occasioned him so much perplexity. It was not that domestic ties retained him or dangers deterred him. But he was harassed by the fear that he would be unable to accomplish any good. If only this doubt—amounting almost to despair—could be removed, he would fly to France without delay. He approved—so he assured his correspondent—of checking those fanatics who were engaged in sowing absurd and vile doctrines, or created unnecessary tumults. But there were others against whom no such charge could be brought, but who modestly professed the Gospel. If through his exertions some slight concessions were obtained, while points of greater importance were sacrificed, he would benefit neither church nor state. What if he secured immunity from punishment for such as had laid aside the monk's cowl? Must he then consent to the execution of those conscientious men who disapproved of the evident abuses of the mass and of the worship of the saints? Now, as it was[Pg 184] precisely the expression of this disapprobation that had caused the present massacres, he trembled with fear lest he should be put in the position of one that justified these atrocious severities. In short, it was his advice, he said, in view of the cunning devices by which the "phalanxes" of monks were wont to play upon the hopes and fears of the high-born, that Francis, if honestly desirous of consulting the glory of Christ, and the tranquillity of the church, be rather exhorted to assemble a general council. Other measures appeared to him, not only useless, but fraught with peril.[367]

Formal invitation from the king.

At this point the king himself took a direct part in the correspondence. On the twenty-third of June, 1535, he sent Melanchthon a formal request to visit his court, and there dispute, in his presence, with a select company of doctors, concerning the restoration of doctrinal unity and ecclesiastical harmony. He assured the reformer that he had been prompted by his own great zeal to despatch Voré with this letter—itself a pledge of the public faith—and besought him to suffer no one to persuade him to turn a deaf ear to the summons.[368] Sturm, Cardinal du Bellay, and his brother, all wrote successively, and urged Melanchthon to come to a conference from which they hoped for every advantage.[369]

Melanchthon consents.

No wonder that, after receiving so complimentary an invitation, Melanchthon concluded to go to France, and applied (on the eighteenth of August) to the Elector John Frederick for the necessary leave of absence. He briefly sketched the history of the affair, and set forth his own reluctance to enter upon his delicate mission, until provided with the elector's permission and a safe conduct from the French monarch. Two or three months only would be consumed, and he had made arrangements for supplying his chair at Jena during this short absence.[370] It appears, however, that Melanchthon felt[Pg 185] less confident of obtaining a gracious reply to his request than his words would seem to indicate. Consequently, he deemed it prudent to ask Luther to write first and urge his suit. The latter did not refuse his aid. "I am moved to make this prayer," said Luther in his letter to the elector, "by the piteous entreaty of worthy and pious persons who, having themselves scarcely escaped the flames, have by great efforts prevailed upon the king to suspend the carnage and extinguish the fires until Melanchthon's arrival. Should the hopes of these good people be disappointed, the bloodhounds may succeed in creating even greater bitterness, and proceed with burning and strangling. So that I think that Master Philip cannot with a clear conscience abandon them in such straits, and defraud them of their hearty encouragement."[371]

The elector refuses to let him go.

But even the great theological doctor's intercession was unavailing. The very day the elector received "Master Philip's" application, he wrote to Francis explaining his reasons for refusing to let Melanchthon go to Paris. It is true that the letter was not actually sent until some ten days later;[372] but no entreaties could move the elector to reconsider his decision. Melanchthon indignantly left the court and returned to Jena.[373] Here he subsequently received a written refusal from John Frederick, couched in language far from agreeable. The elector expressed astonishment that he should have permitted matters to go so far, and that he continued to apply for permission even after his prince's desire had been intimated. The danger to be apprehended for the peace of Germany was far greater than any possible advantage that could be expected from his mission. And the writer hinted very distinctly that little confidence could be reposed in Francis's pro[Pg 186]fessions, where the Gospel was concerned, as public history sufficiently demonstrated.[374]

Melanchthon's chagrin.

The most ungrateful of tasks was reserved for Melanchthon himself—the task of explaining his inability to fulfil his engagement. In a letter to Francis, he expressed the hope that the delay might be only temporary, and he exhorted the king to resist violent counsels, while seeking to promote religious harmony and public tranquillity by peaceable means. To Du Bellay and Sturm he complained not a little of the "roughness" of his prince, whom he had never found more "harsh." He thought that the true motive of the elector's refusal was to be found in the exaggerated report that he had given up everything, merely because he had spoken too respectfully of the ecclesiastical power. "I am called a deserter," he writes. "I am in great peril among our own friends on account of this moderation; as moderate citizens are wont in civil discords to be badly received by both sides. Evidently the fate of Theramenes impends over me; for I believe Xenophon, who affirms that he was a good man, not Lysias, who reviles him."[375][Pg 187]

The proposed conference reprobated by the Sorbonne.

Meanwhile the proposed conference encountered no less decided reprobation from the Sorbonne, to which Francis had submitted his project. For the "articles" drawn up by Melanchthon, a year before, in a spirit of conciliation much too broad to please the Protestants, when placed in the hands of the same theological body, in a modified form, and without the name of the author, were returned with a very unfavorable report. The Parisian doctors suggested that, as an appropriate method of satisfying himself whether there was any hope of accommodation, Francis might propound such interrogatories as these to the German theologians from whom the articles emanated: "Whether they confessed the church militant, founded by divine right, to be incapable of erring in faith and good morals, of which church, under our Lord Jesus Christ, St. Peter and his successors have been the head. Whether they will obey the church, receive the books of the Bible[376] as holy and canonical, accept the decrees of the general councils and of the Popes, admit the Fathers to be the interpreters of the Scriptures, and conform to the customs of the church?" As an insufferable grievance they complained that the "articles" were not a request for pardon, but actually a demand for concessions.[377]

The plan to entrap Melanchthon and some considerable portion of the German Protestants into conciliatory proposals which Luther and the more decided reformers could not admit, having failed through the abrupt and tolerably rude refusal of the Elector of Saxony to permit his theological professor to comply with the invitation of Francis, the latter appears to have deter[Pg 188]mined to put the best appearance upon the affair. Accordingly, he promptly signified to the Sorbonne his approval of its action, and he seems even to have suffered the rumor to gain currency that he was himself dissuaded from bringing Melanchthon to France, by the skilful arguments of the Cardinal of Tournon.[378]

In spite of the rebuff he had received, however, Francis made an attempt to effect such an arrangement with the Protestant princes of Germany as would secure their co-operation in his ambitious projects against Charles the Fifth. To compass this end he was quite willing to make concessions to the Lutherans as extensive as those which Melanchthon had offered the Roman Catholics.

Du Bellay's representations at Smalcald.

Four months had not elapsed since the unsuccessful issue of his first mission, before Du Bellay was again in Germany. On the nineteenth of December, he presented himself to the congress of Protestant princes at Smalcald. Much of his address was devoted to a vindication of his master from the charge of cruelty to persons of the same religious faith as that of the hearers. The envoy insisted that the Germans had been misinformed: If Francis had executed some of his subjects, he had not thereby injured the Protestants. The culprits professed very different doctrines. The creed of the Germans had been adopted by common consent. Francis admitted, indeed, that there were some useless and superfluous ceremonies in the church, but could not assent to their indiscriminate abrogation unless by public decree. Ought not the Protestant princes to ascribe to their friend, the French king,[Pg 189] motives as pure and satisfactory as those that impelled them to crush the sedition of the peasants and repress the Anabaptists? As for himself, Francis, although mild and humane, both from native temperament and by education, had seen himself compelled, by stern necessity and the dictates of prudence, to check the promptings of his own heart, and assume for a time attributes foreign to his proper disposition. For gladly as he listened to the temperate discussion of any subject, he was justly offended at the presumption of rash innovators, men that refused to submit to the judgment of those whose prerogative it was to decide in such matters as were now under consideration.

He makes, in the name of Francis, a Protestant confession.

Not content with general assurances, Du Bellay, in a private interview with Brück, Melanchthon, and other German theologians, ventured upon an exposition of Francis's creed which we fear would have horrified beyond measure the orthodox doctors of the Sorbonne.[379] He informed them, with a very sober face, that the king's religious belief differed little from that expressed in Melanchthon's "Common Places." His theologians had never been able to convince him that the Pope's primacy was of divine right. Nor had they proved to his satisfaction the existence of purgatory, which, being the source of their lucrative masses and legacies, they prized as their very life and blood. He was inclined to limit the assumption of monastic vows to persons of mature age, and to give monks and nuns the right of renouncing their profession and marrying. He favored the conversion of monasteries into seminaries of learning. While the French theologians insisted upon the celibacy of the priesthood, for himself he would suggest the middle ground of permitting such priests as had already married to retain their wives, while prohibiting others from following their example, unless they resigned the[Pg 190] sacerdotal office. He would have the sacramental cup administered to the laity when desired, and hoped to obtain the Pope's consent. He even admitted the necessity of reform in some of the daily prayers, and reprehended the want of moderation exhibited by the Sorbonne, which not only condemned the Germans, but would not hesitate on occasion to censure the cardinals or the Holy Pontiff himself.

The Germans are not deceived.

We cannot find that Du Bellay's honeyed words produced any very deep impression. Princes and theologians knew tolerably well both how sincere was the king's profession of friendliness to the "Lutheran" tenets, and what was the truth respecting the persecution that had raged for months within his dominions. The western breezes came freighted with the fetid smoke of human holocausts, and not even the perfume of Francis's delicately scented speeches could banish the disgust caused by the nauseating sacrifice. The princes might listen with studied politeness to the king's apologetic words, and assent to the general truth that sedition should be punished by severity; but they took the liberty, at the same time, to express a fervent prayer that the advocates of a reformed religion and a pure gospel might not be involved in the fate of the unruly. And they disappointed the monarch by absolutely declining to enter into any alliance against the Emperor Charles the Fifth. The French ambassador returned home, and Francis so dexterously threw aside the mask of pretended favor to a moderate reformation in the church, that it soon became a disputed question whether he had ever assumed it at all.[380][Pg 191]

Efforts of the French Protestants in Switzerland and Germany.

Meantime the French Protestants were unremitting in their efforts to obtain a more satisfactory solution of the religious question than was contained in the Declaration of Coucy. They wrote to Strasbourg, to Berne, to Zurich, to Basle, imploring the intercession of these states. Particular attention was drawn to the severe treatment endured by their brethren in Provence and Dauphiny. The writers declared themselves to be not rebels, but the most loyal of subjects, recognizing one God, one faith, one law, and one king. They were not "Lutherans," nor "Waldenses," nor "heretics;" but simply Christians, accepting the Decalogue, the Apostles' Creed, and every doctrine taught in either Testament. It was unreasonable that they should be compelled by fines, imprisonment, or bodily pains, to abjure their faith, unless their errors were first proved from the Bible, or before the convocation of a General Council.[381]

An appeal from Strasbourg and Zurich.

The Swiss and Germans made a prompt response. The Senate of Strasbourg addressed Francis, praising his clemency, but calling his attention to the danger all good men were exposed to. "If but a single little word escape the mouth of good Christian men, directed against the most manifest abuses, nay, against the flagitious crimes of those who are regarded as ecclesiastics, how easy will it be, inasmuch as these very ecclesiastics are their judges, to cry out that words have been spoken to the injury of the true faith, the Church of God, and its traditions?"[382]

Zurich, going even further, made the direct request of its royal ally, that hereafter all persons accused of holding heretical views should be permitted by his Majesty to clear themselves by an appeal to the pure Word of God, and no longer be sub[Pg 192]jected without a hearing to torture and manifold punishments.[383] Berne and Basle remonstrated with similar urgency.

An embassy receives an unsatisfactory reply.

Receiving no reply to their appeal, in consequence of the king's attention being engrossed by the war then in progress with the emperor, and by reason of the dauphin's unexpected death, the same cantons and Strasbourg, a few months later, were induced to send a formal embassy. But, if the envoys were fed with gracious words, they obtained no real concession. Francis assured the Bernese and their confederates that "it was, as they well knew, only for love of them that he had enlarged the provisions of his gracious Edict of Coucy, by lately[384] extending pardon to all exiles and fugitives"—that is, "Sacramentarians" and "relapsed" persons included. This, it seemed to him, "ought to satisfy them entirely."[385] It was a polite, but none the less a very positive refusal to entertain the suggestion that the abjuration of their previous "errors" should no longer be required of all who wished to avail themselves of the amnesty. Nor did it escape notice as a significant circumstance, that Francis selected for his mouth-piece, not the friendly Queen of Navarre, but the rough and bigoted Grand-Maître—Anne de Montmorency, the future Constable of France.[386]

[Pg 193]



The placards of 1534 mark an epoch in the history of the Huguenots.

In the initial stage of great enterprises a point may sometimes be distinguished at which circumstances, in themselves trivial, have shaped the entire future. Such a point in the history of the Huguenots is marked by the appearance of the "Placards" of 1534. The pusillanimous retreat of Bishop Briçonnet from the advanced post he had at first assumed, robbed Protestantism of an important advantage which might have been retained had the prelate proved true to his convictions. But the "Placards," with their stern and uncompromising logic, their biting sarcasm, their unbridled invective, directed equally against the absurdities of the mass and the inconsistencies of its advocates, exerted a far more lasting and powerful influence than even the lamentable defection of the Bishop of Meaux. Until now the attitude of Francis with respect to the "new doctrines" had been uncertain and wavering. It was by no means impossible that, imitating the example of the Elector of Saxony, the French monarch should even yet put himself at the head of the movement. Severe persecution had, indeed, dogged the steps of the Reformation. Fire and gibbet had been mercilessly employed to destroy it. The squares of Paris had already had the baptism of blood. But the cruelties complained of by the "Lutherans," if tolerated by Francis, had their origin in the bigotry of others. The Sorbonne and the Parisian Parliament, Chancellor Duprat and the queen mother, Louise of Savoie, are entitled to the unenviable distinction of having instigated the sanguinary measures of re[Pg 194]pression directed against the professors of the Protestant faith, of which we have already met with many fruits. The monarch, greedy of glory, ambitious of association with cultivated minds, and aspiring to the honor of ushering in the new Augustan age, more than once seemed half-inclined to embrace those religious views which commended themselves to his taste by association with the fresh and glowing ideas of the great masters in science and art. More than once had the champions of the Church trembled for their hold upon the sceptre-bearing arm; while as often their opponents, with Francis's own sister, had cherished illusory hopes that the eloquent addresses of Roussel and other court-preachers had left a deep impress on the king's heart.

The orthodoxy of Francis no longer questioned.

But the "Placards" effectually dissipated alike these hopes and these fears. There was no longer any question as to the orthodoxy of Francis. Apologists for the Reformation might seek to undeceive his mind and remove his prejudices. His own emissaries might endeavor to persuade the Germans, of whose alliance he stood in need, that his views differed little from theirs. But there can be no doubt that, whatever his previous intentions had been, from this time forth his resolution was taken, to use his own expression already brought to the reader's notice, to live and die in Mother Holy Church, and demonstrate the justice of his claim to the title of "very Christian." The audacity of the Protestant enthusiast who penetrated even into the innermost recesses of the royal castle, and affixed the placards to the very chamber door of the king, was turned to good account by Cardinal Tournon and other courtiers of like sentiments, and was adduced as a proof of the assertion so often reiterated, that a change of religion necessarily involved also a revolution in the State. The free tone of the placards seemed to reveal a contemptuous disregard of dignities. The ridicule cast upon the doctrine of transubstantiation was an assault on one of the few dogmas respecting which Francis had implicit confidence in the teachings of the Church. Henceforth the king figures on the page of history as a determined opponent and persecutor of the Reformation, less hostile, indeed, to the "Lutherans," than to the "Sacramentarians," or "Zwinglians," but nevertheless an avowed enemy of innovation. The change[Pg 195] was recognized and deplored by the Reformers themselves; who, seeing Francis in the last years of his reign give the rein to shameful debauchery, and meantime suffer the public prisons to overflow with hundreds of innocent men and women, awaiting punishment for no other offence than their religious faith, pointedly compared him to the effeminate Sardanapalus surrounded by his courtezans.[387]

Change in the courtiers.

While so marked a change came over the disposition of the king, it is not strange that a similar revolution was noticed in the sentiments of the courtiers—a class ever on the alert to detect the slightest variation in the breeze to which they trim their sails. The greater part of the high dignitaries, the early historian of the reformed churches informs us, adapting themselves to the king's humor, abandoned the study of the Bible, and in time became violent opponents of practices which they had sanctioned by their own example. Even Margaret of Navarre is accused by the same authority—and he honestly represents the belief of the contemporary reformers—of having yielded to these seductive influences. She plunged, like the rest, he tells us, into conformity with the most reprehensible superstitions; not that she approved them, but because Gérard Roussel and similar teachers persuaded her that they were things indifferent. Thus, allowing herself to trifle with truth, she was so blinded by the spirit of error as to offer an asylum in her court of Nérac to Quintin and Pocques, blasphemous "Libertines" whose doctrines called forth a refutation from the pen of Calvin.[388][Pg 196]

The French Reformation becomes a popular movement.
Geneva the centre of activity.

The French Reformation was thus constrained to become a popular movement. The king had refused to lead it. The nobles turned their backs upon it. Its adherents, threatened with the gallows and stake, or driven into banishment, could no longer look for encouragement or direction toward Paris and the vicinage of the court. The timid counsels of the high-born were to be exchanged for the bold and fiery words of reformers sprung from the people. Excluded from the luxurious capital, the Huguenots were, during a long series of years, to draw their inspiration from a city at the foot of the Alps—a city whose invigorating climate was no less adapted to harden the intellectual and moral constitution than the bodily frame, and where rugged Nature, if she bestowed wealth with no lavish hand, manifested her impartiality by more liberal endowments conferred upon man himself. Geneva henceforth becomes the centre of reformatory activity, of which fact we need no stronger evidence than the severe legislation of France to destroy its influence; and the same causes that gave the direction of the movement to the people shaped its theological tendencies. Under the guidance of Francis and Margaret, it must have assumed much of the German or Lutheran type; or, to speak more correctly, the direct influence of Germany upon France, attested by the name of "Lutherans," up to this time the ordinary appellation of the French Protestants, would have been rendered permanent. But now the persecution they had experienced, in consequence of their opposition to the papal mass, confirmed the French reformers in their previous views, and disinclined them to admit even such a "consubstantiation" as Luther's followers insisted upon.

Geneva secures its independence.

The same complicated political motives that led Francis to relax his excessive rigor against the Protestants of his realm, in order to avoid provoking the anger of the German princes, prompted him to assist in securing the independence of Geneva, which, at the time, he little dreamed would so soon become the citadel of French Protestantism. After a prolonged contest, the city on the banks of[Pg 197] the Rhône had shaken off the yoke of its bishop, and had bravely repelled successive assaults made by the Duke of Savoy. The first preachers of the Reformation, Farel and Froment, after a series of attempts and rebuffs for romantic interest inferior to no other episode in an age of stirring adventure, had seen the new worship accepted by the majority of the people, and by the very advocates of the old system, Caroli and Chapuis. If the grand council had thus far hesitated to give a formal sanction to the religious change, it was only through fear that the taking of so decided a step might provoke more powerful enemies than the neighboring duke. The latter, being fully resolved to humble the insubordinate burgesses, had for two years been striving to cut off their supplies by garrisons maintained in adjoining castles and strongholds; nor would his plans, perhaps, have failed, but for the intervention of two powerful opponents—Francis and the Swiss Canton of Berne.

with the assistance of Francis I.

Louise de Savoie was the sister of Duke Charles. Her son had a double cause of resentment against his uncle: Charles had refused him free passage through his dominions, when marching against the Milanese; and, contrary to all justice, he persistently refused to give up the marriage portion of his sister, the king's mother. Francis avenged himself, both for the insult and for the robbery, by permitting a gentleman of his bedchamber, by the name of De Verez, a native of Savoy, to throw himself into the beleaguered city with a body of French soldiers.

and the Bernese.

While Geneva was thus strengthened from within, the Bernese, on receipt of an unsatisfactory reply to an appeal in behalf of their allies, came to their assistance with an army of ten or twelve thousand men. Discouraged by the threatening aspect his affairs had assumed, Charles relaxed his grasp on the throat of his revolted subjects, and withdrew to a safe distance. His obstinacy, however, cost him the permanent loss not only of Geneva, but of a considerable part of his most valuable territories, including the Pays de Vaud—a district which, after remaining for more than two hundred and fifty years a dependency of Berne, has within the present[Pg 198] century (in 1803), become an independent canton of the Swiss confederacy.[389]

Calvin the apologist of the Protestants.

The horrible slanders put in circulation abroad, in justification of the atrocities with which the unoffending Protestants of France were visited, furnished the motive for the composition and publication of an apology that instantly achieved unprecedented celebrity, and has long outlived the occasion that gave it birth. The apology was the "Institutes;" the author, John Calvin. With the appearance of his masterpiece, a great writer and theologian, destined to exercise a wide and lasting influence not only upon France, but over the entire intellectual world, enters upon the stage of French history to take a leading part in the unfolding religious and political drama.

His birth and training.
Studies at Paris;
also at Orleans and Bourges.

John Calvin was born on the tenth of July, 1509, at Noyon, a small but ancient city of Picardy. His family was of limited means, but of honorable extraction. Gérard Cauvin, his father, had successively held important offices in connection with the episcopal see. As a man of clear and sound judgment, he was sought for his counsel by the gentry and nobility of the province—a circumstance that rendered it easy for him to give to his son a more liberal course of instruction than generally fell to the lot of commoners. It is not denied by Calvin's most bitter enemies that he early manifested striking ability. In selecting for him one of the learned professions, his father naturally preferred the church, as that in which he could most readily secure for his son speedy promotion. It may serve to illustrate the degree of respect at this time paid to the prescriptions of canon law, to note that Charles de Hangest, Bishop of Noyon, conferred on John Calvin the Chapelle de la Gésine, with revenues sufficient for his maintenance, when the boy was but just twelve years of age! Such abuses as the gift of ecclesiastical benefices to beardless youths, however, were of too frequent occurrence to at[Pg 199]tract special notice or call forth unfriendly criticism. With the same easy disregard of churchly order the chapter of the cathedral of Noyon permitted Calvin, two years later, to go to Paris, for the purpose of continuing his studies, without loss of income; although, to save appearances, a pretext was found in the prevalence of some contagious disease in Picardy. Not long after, his father perceiving the singular proficiency he manifested, determined to alter his plans, and devoted his son to the more promising department of the law, a decision in which Calvin himself, already conscious of secret aversion for the superstitions of the papal system, seems dutifully to have acquiesced. To a friend and near relation, Pierre Robert Olivetanus, the future translator of the Bible, he probably owed both the first impulse toward legal studies and the enkindling of his interest in the Sacred Scriptures. Proceeding next to Orleans, in the university of which the celebrated Pierre de l'Étoile, afterward President of the Parliament of Paris, was lecturing on law with great applause, Calvin in a short time achieved distinction. Marvellous stories were told of his rapid mastery of his subject. Not only did he occasionally fill the chair of an absent professor, and himself lecture, to the great admiration of the classes, but he was offered the formal rank of the doctorate without payment of the customary fees. Declining an honorable distinction which would have interfered with his plan of perfecting himself elsewhere, he subsequently visited the University of Bourges, in order to enjoy the rare advantage of listening to Andrea Alciati, of Milan, reputed the most learned and eloquent legal instructor of the age.

His studies under Wolmar.

Meanwhile, however, Calvin's interest in biblical study had been steadily growing, and at Bourges that great intellectual and religious change appears to have been effected which was essential to his future success as a reformer. He attached himself to Melchior Wolmar, a distinguished professor of Greek, who had brought with him from Germany a fervent zeal for the Protestant doctrines. Wolmar, reading in the young law student the brilliant abilities that were one day to make his name illustrious, prevailed upon him to devote him[Pg 200]self to the study of the New Testament in the original. Day and night were spent in the engrossing pursuit, and here were laid the foundations of that profound biblical erudition which, at a later date, amazed the world, as well, unfortunately, as of that feeble bodily health that embittered all Calvin's subsequent life with the most severe and painful maladies, and abridged in years an existence crowded with great deeds.

Translates Seneca "De Clementia."

The illness and death of his father called Calvin back to Noyon,[390] but in 1529 we find him again in Paris, where three years later he published his first literary effort. This was a commentary on the two books of Seneca, "De Clementia," originally addressed to the Emperor Nero. The opinion has long prevailed that it was no casual selection of a theme, but that Calvin had conceived the hope of mitigating hereby the severity of the persecution then raging. The author's own correspondence, however, betrays less anxiety for the attainment of that lofty aim, than nervous uneasiness respecting the literary success of his first venture. Indeed, this is not the only indication that, while Calvin was already, in 1532, an accomplished scholar, he was scarcely as yet a reformer, and that the stories of his activity before this time as a leader and religious teacher, at Paris and even at Bourges, deserve only to be classed with the questionable myths obscuring much of his history up to the time of his appearance at Geneva.[391]

Calvin's escape from Paris to Angoulême.

The incident that occasioned Calvin's flight from Paris was narrated in a previous chapter. Escaping from the officers sent[Pg 201] to apprehend him as the real author of the inaugural address of the rector, Nicholas Cop, Calvin found safety and scholastic leisure in the house of his friend Louis du Tillet, at Angoulême. If we could believe the accounts of later writers, we should imagine the young scholar dividing his time in this retreat between the preparation of his "Institutes" and systematic labors for the conversion of the inhabitants of the south-west of France. Tradition still points out the grottos in the vicinity of Poitiers, where, during a residence in that city, Calvin is said to have exclaimed, pointing to the Bible lying open before him: "Here is my mass;" and then, with uncovered head and eyes turned toward heaven, "Lord, if at the judgment-day thou shalt reprove me because I have abandoned the mass, I shall reply with justice, 'Lord, thou hast not commanded it. Here is thy law. Here are the Scriptures, the rule thou hast given me, wherein I have been unable to find any other sacrifice than that which was offered upon the altar of the cross!'"[392]

He resigns his benefices.
He reaches Basle.

The caverns bearing Calvin's name may never have witnessed his preaching, and the address ascribed to him rests on insufficient authority;[393] but it is certain that the future reformer about this time took his first decided step in renouncing connection with the Roman Church, by resigning his benefices, the revenues of which he had enjoyed, although precluded by his youth from receiving ordination.[394] Not many months later, finding himself solicited on all sides to take an active part as a teacher of the little companies of Protestants[Pg 202] arising in different cities of France, he resolved to leave France and court elsewhere obscurity and leisure to prosecute undisturbed his favorite studies.[395] Accordingly, we find him, after a brief visit to Paris and Orleans, reaching the city of Basle, apparently toward the close of the year 1534.[396]

Apologetic character given to his great work.

It was here that Calvin appears to have conceived for the first time the purpose of giving a practical aim to the great work upon the composition of which he had been some time busy. In spite of his professions of unsullied honor, Francis the First had not hesitated to disseminate, by means of his agents beyond the Rhine, the most unfounded and injurious reports respecting his Protestant subjects. It was time that these aspersions should be cleared away, and an attempt be made to touch the heart of the persecuting monarch with compassion for the unoffending objects of his blind fury. Such was the object Calvin set before himself in a preface to the first edition of the "Institutes," addressed "To the Very Christian King of France."[397] It was a document of rare importance.[Pg 203]

The preface to the "Christian Institutes."
Eloquent peroration.

He briefly explained the original design of his work to be the instruction of his countrymen, whom he knew to be hungering and thirsting for the truth. But the persecutions that had arisen and that left no place for sound doctrine in France induced him to make the attempt at the same time to acquaint the king with the real character of the Protestants and their belief. He assured Francis that the book contained nothing more nor less than the creed for the profession of which so many Frenchmen were being visited with imprisonment, banishment, outlawry, and even fire, and which it was sought to exterminate from the earth. He drew a fearful picture of the calumnies laid to the charge of this devoted people, and of the wretched church of France, already half destroyed, yet still a butt for the rage of its enemies. It was the part of a true king, as the vicegerent of God, to administer justice in a cause so worthy of his consideration. Nor ought the humble condition of the oppressed to indispose him to grant them a hearing; for the doctrine they professed was not their own, but that of the Almighty himself. He boldly contrasted the evangelical with the papal church, and refuted the objections urged against the former. He defended its doctrine from the charge of novelty, denied that miracles—especially such lying wonders as those of Rome—were necessary in confirmation of its truth, and showed that the ancient Fathers, far from countenancing, on the contrary, condemned the superstitions of the day. He refuted the charge that Protestants forsook old customs when good, or abandoned the only visible church; and in a masterly manner vindicated the Reformation from the oft-repeated charge of being the cause of sedition, conflict, and confusion. He begged for a fair and impartial hearing. "But," he exclaimed in conclud[Pg 204]ing, "if the suggestions of the malevolent so fill your ears as to leave no room for the reply of the accused, and those importunate furies continue, with your consent, to rage with bonds and stripes, with torture, confiscation, and fire, then shall we yield ourselves up as sheep appointed for slaughter, yet so as to possess our souls in patience, and await the mighty hand of God, which will assuredly be revealed in good time, and be stretched forth armed for the deliverance of the poor from their affliction, and for the punishment of the blasphemers now exulting in confidence of safety. May the Lord of Hosts, illustrious king, establish your seat in righteousness and your throne with equity."[398]

Has no effect in allaying persecution.
Calvin achieves distinction.

The learned theologian's eloquent appeal failed to accomplish its end. If Francis ever received, he probably disdained to read even the dedication, classed by competent critics among the best specimens of writing in the French language,[399] and must have regarded the volume to which it was prefixed as a bold vindication of heresy, and scarcely less insulting to his majesty than the placards themselves. Others, better capable of forming a competent judgment, or more willing to give it a dispassionate examination, applauded the success of a hazardous undertaking that might have appalled even a more experienced writer than the French exile of Noyon. The Institutes gave to a young man, who had scarcely attained the age at which men of mark usually begin to occupy themselves with important[Pg 205] enterprises, the reputation of being the foremost theologian of the age.

He revises the Bible of Olivetanus.

Other studies invited Calvin's attention. Not content with perfecting himself in the original languages of the Holy Scriptures, he revised with care the French Protestant Bible, translated by his relation Olivetanus, of which we shall have occasion to speak in another chapter. Meanwhile, in an age of intense mental and moral awakening, no scholastic repose, such as he had pictured to himself, awaited one who had made good his right to a foremost rank among the athletes in the intellectual arena.

Visits Italy.

Before his unexpected call to a life of unremitting conflict, Calvin visited Italy. In the entire absence of any trustworthy statement of the occasion of this journey, it is almost idle to speculate on the objects he had in view.[400] Certain, however, it is that the court of the Duchess Renée, at Ferrara, offered to a patriotic Frenchman attractions hard to be resisted.

The court of Renée de France.
Brantôme's eulogy of Renée.

The younger daughter of Louis the Twelfth resembled her father not less in character than in appearance and speech.[401] Cut off by the pretended Salic law from the prospect of ascending the throne, she had in her childhood been thrown as a straw upon the variable tide of fortune. After having been promised in marriage to Charles of Spain, heir to the most extensive and opulent dominions the sun shone upon, and future Emperor of Germany, she had (1528) been given in marriage to the ruler of a petty Italian duchy, himself as inferior to her in mind as in moral character.[402] As for Renée, if her face was homely and unprepossessing, her intellect was vigorous. She had turned to good account the opportunities[Pg 206] for self-improvement afforded by her high rank. Admiring courtiers made her classical and philosophical attainments the subject of lavish panegyric, perhaps with a better basis of fact than in the case of many other princes of the time; while with the French, her countrymen, the generous hospitality she dispensed won for her unfading laurels. "Never was there a Frenchman," writes the Abbé de Brantôme, "who passing through Ferrara applied to her in his distress and was suffered to depart without receiving ample assistance to reach his native land and home. If he were unable to travel through illness, she had him cared for and treated with the utmost solicitude, and then gave him money to continue his journey."[403] Ten thousand poor Frenchmen are said to have been saved by her munificent charity, on the occasion of the recall of the Duke of Guise, after Constable Montmorency's disastrous defeat at St. Quentin. Her answer to the remonstrance of her servants against this excessive drain upon her slender resources bore witness at once to the sincerity of her patriotism and to a virile spirit which no Salic law could extinguish.[404]

The brief stay of Calvin at Ferrara is involved in the same obscurity that attends his motives in visiting Italy. But it is known that he exerted at this time a marked influence not only on others,[405] but on Renée de France herself, who, from this period forward, appears in the character of an avowed friend of[Pg 207] the reformatory movement. Calvin had from prudence assumed the title of Charles d'Espeville, and this name was retained as a signature in his subsequent correspondence with the duchess.

Calvin leaves Ferrara.

A point so close to the centre of the Roman Catholic world as Ferrara could scarcely afford safety to an ardent reformer, even if the fame of his "Institutes" had not yet reached Rome; and Ercole the Second was too dependent upon the Holy See to shrink from sacrificing the guest his wife had invited to the palace. Returning, therefore, from Ferrara, without apparently pursuing his journey to Rome or even to Florence, Calvin retraced his steps and took refuge beyond the Alps. Possibly he may have stopped on the way in the valley of Aosta, and displayed a missionary activity, which has been denied by several modern critics, but is attested by local monuments and tradition, and has some support in contemporary documents.[406]

Revisits France.
Is recognized while passing through Geneva.
Farel compels him to remain.

Once more in Basle, Calvin resolved, after a final visit to the home of his childhood, to seek out some quiet spot in Germany,[Pg 208] there to give himself up to those scholarly labors which he fancied would be more profitable to France than the most active enterprises he might engage in as a preacher of the Gospel. He had accomplished the first part of his design, had disposed of his property in Noyon, and was returning with his brother and sister, when the prevalence of war in the Duchy of Lorraine led him to diverge from his most direct route, so as to traverse the dominions of the Duke of Savoy and the territories of the confederate cantons of Switzerland. Under these circumstances, for the first time, he entered the city of Geneva, then but recently delivered from the yoke of its bishop and of the Roman Church. He had intended to spend there only a single night.[407] He was accidentally recognized by an old friend, a Frenchman, who at the time professed the reformed faith, but subsequently returned to the communion of the Church of Rome.[408] Du Tillet was the only person in Geneva that detected in the traveller, Charles d'Espeville, the John Calvin who had written the "Institutes." He confided the secret to Farel, and the intrepid reformer whose office it had hitherto been to demolish, by unsparing and persistent blows, the popular structure of superstition, at once concluded that, in answer to his prayers, a man had been sent him by God capable of laying, amid the ruins, the foundations of a new and more perfect fabric. Farel sought Calvin out, and laid before him the urgent necessities of a church founded in a city where, under priestly rule, disorder and corruption had long been rampant. At first his words made no impression. Calvin had traced out for himself a very different course, and was little inclined to exchange a life of study for the perpetual struggles to which he was so unexpect[Pg 209]edly summoned. But when he met Farel's request with a positive refusal, pleading inexperience, fondness for literary pursuits, and aversion to scenes of tumult and confusion, the Genevese reformer assumed a more decided tone. Acting under an impulse for which he could scarcely account himself, Farel solemnly prayed that the curse of God might descend on Calvin's leisure and studies, if purchased at the price of neglecting the duty to which the voice of the Almighty Himself, by His providence, distinctly called him.[409]

The amazed and terrified student felt—to use his own expression—that God had stretched forth His arm from heaven and laid violent hold upon him, rendering all further resistance impossible. He yielded to the unwelcome call, and became the first theological professor of Geneva. Somewhat later he was prevailed upon to add to his functions the duties of one of the pastors of the city.

Farel's own recollections.

If the scene impressed itself ineffaceably on the memory or one of the principal actors, its effect, we may be sure, was no less lasting in the case of the other. More than a quarter of a century after, Farel, on receiving the announcement that his worst apprehensions had been realized, in the death of his "so dear and necessary brother Calvin," wrote to a friend a touching letter, in which he referred in a few sentences to the same striking interview. "Oh, why am not I taken away in his stead, and why is not he, so useful, so serviceable, here in health, to minister long to the churches of our Lord! To Whom be blessing and praise, that, of His grace, He made me fall in with him where I had never expected to meet him, and, contrary[Pg 210] to his own plans, compelled him to stop at Geneva, and made use of him there and elsewhere! For he was urged on one side and another more than could be told, and specially by me, who, in God's name, urged him to undertake matters that were harder than death. And albeit he begged me several times, in the name of God, to have mercy on him and suffer him to serve God in other ways, as he has always thus occupied himself, nevertheless, seeing that what I asked was in accordance with God's will, in doing himself violence he has done more and more promptly than any one else has done, surpassing not only others, but himself. Oh, how happily has he run an excellent race!"[410]

Calvin becomes the head of the commonwealth.
His view respecting church and state,
and the punishment of heresy.

For twenty-eight years the name of Calvin was inseparably associated with that of the city which owes its chief renown to his connection with it. Excepting the three years of exile, from 1538 to 1541, occasioned by a powerful reaction against his rigid system of public morality, he was, during the whole of this period, the recognized head of the Genevese commonwealth. A complete mastery of the principles of law, acquired by indefatigable study at Orleans and Bourges, before the loftier teachings of theology engrossed his time and faculties, qualified him to draw up a code to regulate the affairs of his adopted country. If its detailed prohibitions and almost Draconian severity are repugnant to the spirit of the present age, the general wisdom of the legislator is vindicated by the circumstance that he transformed a city noted for the prevalence of every form of turbulence and immorality into the most orderly republic of Christendom. Few, it is true, will be found to defend the theory respecting the duty of the state toward the church in which Calvin acquiesced. But the cruel deaths of Gruet and Servetus were only the legitimate fruits of the doctrine that the civil authority is both empowered and bound to exercise vigilant supervision over the purity of the church. In this doctrine the reformers of the sixteenth century were firm[Pg 211] believers. They held, as John Huss had held a hundred years before, that Truth could appropriately appeal for support to physical force, under circumstances that would by no means have justified a similar resort on the part of Error. The consistent language of their lives was, "If we speak not the truth, we refuse not to die." "If the Pope condemns the pious for heresy, and furious judges unjustly execute on the innocent the penalty due to heretics, what madness is it thence to infer that heretics ought not to be destroyed for the purpose of aiding the pious! As for myself, since I read that Paul said that he did not refuse death if he had done anything to deserve it, I openly offered myself frequently prepared to undergo sentence of death, if I had taught anything contrary to the doctrine of piety. And I added, that I was most worthy of any punishment imaginable, if I seduced any one from the faith and doctrine of Christ. Assuredly I cannot have a different view with regard to others from that which I entertain respecting myself."[411] So wrote Farel, and almost all his contemporaries agreed with him. And thus it happened that the conscientious Calvin and the polished Beza were at the pains of writing long treatises, to prove that "heretics are justly to be constrained by the sword,"[412] almost at the very moment when they were begging the Bernese to intercede[Pg 212] with their ally, King Henry the Second, of France, in behalf of the poor Protestants languishing in the dungeons of Lyons, or writing consolatory letters to Peloquin and De Marsac, destined to suffer death in the flames not many days before the execution of the Spanish physician at Geneva.[413]

His fault the fault of the age.

In truth, however, it was less Calvin than the age in which he lived that must be held responsible for the crime against humanity with which his name has come to be popularly associated. He did, indeed, desire and urge that Servetus should be punished capitally, although he made an earnest but unsuccessful effort to induce the magistrates to mitigate the severity of the sentence, by the substitution of some more merciful mode of execution.[414] But the other principal reformers of Germany and Switzerland—Melanchthon, Haller, Peter Martyr, and Bullinger gave their hearty endorsement to the cruel act;[415] while if any further proof were needed to attest the sincerity and universality of approval accorded to it, it is afforded by the last letters of the brave men who were themselves awaiting at Chambéry, a few mouths later, death by the same excruciating fate as that which befell Servetus at Geneva.[416][Pg 213]

Calvin shuns notoriety.

The prominence obtained by Calvin as chief theologian and pastor of the church of Geneva, however, was foreign to his tastes. He was by preference a scholar, averse to notoriety, fond of retirement, and, if we are to believe his own judgment, timid and even pusillanimous by nature.[417] He had in vain sought seclusion in France. From Basle and Strasbourg he made a hasty retreat in order to preserve his incognito, and avoid the fame the Institutes were likely to earn for him.[418] Only Farel's adjuration detained him in Geneva, and he subsequently confessed that his fortitude was not so great but that he rejoiced even more than was meet when the turbulent Genevese expelled him from their city.[419] But not even then was he able to secure the coveted quiet, for Martin Bucer was not slow in imitating the urgency of Farel, and employed the warning example of the prophet Jonah seeking to flee from the will of the Almighty, to induce him to employ himself in the organization and administration of the French church at Strasbourg.[420] Not less decided was Calvin's reluctance to accede to the repeated invitations of the council and people of Geneva, that he should return and resume his former position.

His character and natural endowments.
He is consulted by Protestants in every quarter of Europe.

Such was the man who was called to take the reins of the spiritual direction, not only of a single small city, but of a large body of earnest thinkers throughout France, and even to distant parts of Christendom—a man of stern and uncompromising devotion to that system which he believed to be truth; of slender imagination, but of a memory prodigious in its grasp, of an[Pg 214] understanding wonderfully acute, and of a power of exposition and expression unsurpassed by that possessed by any writer among his contemporaries. His constitution, naturally weak, had been still further enfeebled by excessive application to study. In his letters there are frequent references to the interruptions occasioned by violent pains in his head, often compelling him to stop many times in the writing of a single letter.[421] His strength was taxed to the utmost by the unremitting toil incident to his multifarious occupations. The very recital of his labors fills us with amazement. He preached twice every Sunday, besides frequent sermons on other days. He lectured three times a week on theology. He made addresses in the consistory, and delivered a lecture every Friday in the conference on the Scriptures known as the "Congrégation." To these public burdens must be added others imposed upon him by his wide reputation. From all parts of the Protestant world, but especially from every spot in France where the Reformation had gained a foothold, the opinion of Calvin was eagerly sought on various points of doctrine and ecclesiastical practice. To Geneva, and especially to Calvin, the obscure and persecuted adherents of the same faith, not less than the most illustrious of the Protestant nobility, looked for counsel and direction. Under his guidance that system was adopted for supplying France with ministers of the Gospel which led the Venetian ambassador, near the end of the great reformer's life, to describe Geneva as the mine from which the ore of heresy was extracted.[422] How faithfully he discharged the trust com[Pg 215]mitted to him is sufficiently attested by a voluminous correspondence, some portions of which have escaped the wreck of time; while the steady advance of the doctrines he advocated is an enduring monument to the zeal and sagacity of his exertions.

Meets with bitter opposition,
but obtains the support of the people.

In his arduous undertaking, however, Calvin had to encounter no little opposition in the very city of Geneva. It was this, even more than bodily infirmity, that bore severely upon his spirits, and robbed him of the rest demanded alike by his overtaxed body and mind. His advocacy of strenuous discipline procured him relentless enemies among the Genevese of the "Libertine" party. Those were stormy times for Calvin, when, in derision of the student, legislator, and theologian, deafening salutes were fired by night before his doors, and when the dogs were set upon him in the streets.[423] But, when we read of the violent antagonism elicited by the publication of the severe provisions of the "Ordinances," regulating even the minor details of the life of a Genevese citizen, it must not be forgotten that the unpopular system, although devised by Calvin, was not imposed by him upon unwilling subjects, but established by a free and decisive vote of the people, in the exercise of its sovereignty, and influenced to its adoption by the same considerations that had determined Calvin himself in devising it.[424][Pg 216]

An estimate of Calvin by Étienne Pasquier.

Such a man could not fail to secure the respect of his opponents, and the undisguised admiration of all who could regard his character and work with some degree of impartiality. Among the most virtuous of his contemporaries was the excellent Étienne Pasquier, who described him as he appeared in the eyes of men of culture—men who, without forsaking the Roman Catholic Church, were stanch friends of reform and of progress. "He was a man," says Pasquier, "that wrote equally well in Latin and in French, and to whom our French tongue is greatly indebted for having enriched it with an infinite number of fine touches. It were my wish that it had been for a better subject. He was a man, moreover, marvellously versed and nurtured in the books of the Holy Scriptures, and such that, had he directed his mind in the right way, he might have ranked with the most illustrious doctors of the church. And, in the midst of his books and his studies, he was possessed of the most active zeal for the progress of his sect. We sometimes saw our prisons overflowing with poor, misled people, whom he unceasingly exhorted, consoled, and comforted by his letters; and there were never lacking messengers to whom the doors were open, in spite of any exertions of the jailers to the contrary. Such were the methods by which he gained over step by step a part of our France."[425]

Continued persecution.
The tongues of the victims cut out, and records burned.

The flames of the persecution kindled by the publication of the placards continued to burn. From Paris, where Laurent de la Croix fell a victim to the rage of the priests, the conflagration spread to Essarts, in Poitou, where a simple girl was consigned to the fire for reproving a Franciscan[Pg 217] monk; and to Macon, where an unlearned peasant underwent a like punishment, amazing his judges by the familiarity he displayed with the Bible. Agen, in Guyenne, and Beaune, in Burgundy, witnessed similar scenes of atrocious cruelty; while at Nonnay, André Berthelin was burned alive, because, when wending his way to the great fair of Lyons, he refused to kneel down before one of the many pictures or images set up by the roadside for popular adoration. At Rouen, four brave reformers were thrown into a tumbril, reeking with filth, to be drawn to the place of execution, one of them exclaiming with radiant countenance: "Truly, as says the apostle, we are the offscouring of the earth, and we now stink in the nostrils of the men of the world. But let us rejoice, for the savor of our death will be a sweet savor unto God, and will profit our brethren."[426] But the details of these executions are too horrible and too similar to find a place here. Nor, indeed, would it be possible to frame a complete statement of the case of each of the constant sufferers; for, from this time forward, it became a favorite practice with those who presided over these bloody assizes to cut out the tongues of their victims, lest their eloquent appeals should shake the confidence of the spectators in the established faith, and afterward to throw the official record of the trial of Protestants into the fire that consumed their bodies, in order to prevent its furnishing edifying material for the martyrology.[427]

Failure of persecution.

But, as usual, persecution failed utterly of accomplishing what had been expected of it. For a brief moment, indeed, Francis flattered himself that exemplary punishments had purged his kingdom of the professors of the hated doctrines.[428] But, in the course of a few years, he discovered that, in spite of continued severities, the "new faith" had so spread—partly by means of persons suffered to return, in virtue[Pg 218] of the royal declaration of Coucy (on the sixteenth of July, 1535), and partly through the teachings of others who lay concealed during the first violence of the storm—that he had good reason to fear that the last errors were worse than the first.[429] What rendered the matter still more serious was the favor shown to the heretics by persons of high rank and influence.[430]

Edict of Fontainebleau cuts off appeal, June 1, 1540.

With the view of employing still more rigid means for the detection and punishment of the offenders, a fresh edict was published from Fontainebleau, on the first of June, 1540. In this long and sanguinary document the monarch—or the Cardinal of Tournon, who enjoyed the credit of a principal part in its preparation—enjoined upon the officers of all the royal courts, whether judges of parliament, seneschals, or bailiffs, to institute proceedings concurrently against all persons tainted with heresy. No appeal was to be permitted to delay their action. The examination of the suspected took precedence of all other cases. Tribunals of inferior jurisdiction were instructed to send prisoners for heresy, together with the record of their examination, to the sovereign courts of parliament, there to be tried in the "Chambre criminelle." The appeal to the "Grand' chambre," customarily allowed to persons claiming immunity on account of order or station, was expressly cut off, so as to render the course of justice more expeditious. Negligent judges were threatened with suspension and removal from office. The high vassals of the crown were ordered to lend to the royal courts their counsel and assistance, and to surrender to them all offenders as guilty of sedition and disturbance of the public peace—crimes of which the king claimed exclusive cognizance. Ecclesiastics were exhorted to show equal diligence in the prosecution of culprits that were in orders. In short, every servant of the king was bidden to abstain from harboring or favoring the "Lutherans," since the errors and[Pg 219] false doctrines the latter disseminated, it was said, contained within them the crime of treason against God and the king, as well as of sedition and riot.[431] Every loyal subject must, therefore, denounce the heretics and employ all means to extirpate them, just as all men are bound to run to help in extinguishing a public conflagration.[432]

Exceptional fairness of President Caillaud.

The last injunction was not altogether unnecessary. Even among the judges of parliament there were fair-minded persons not inclined to condemn accused men or books on mere report. The ambassador of Henry the Eighth having, in 1538, denounced an English translation of the Holy Scriptures that was in press at Paris, the chancellor commissioned President Caillaud to investigate the case. The latter, finding that the printer's excuse was the scarcity of paper in England, quietly set about a comparison of the suspected version with accessible French translations. He said nothing to doctors of theology or royal prosecuting officers. "It seemed to me," he reported, "quite unnecessary to give the matter such notoriety. Moreover, I mistrusted that, without further investigation, without even looking into it, they would have condemned the English translation for the sole reason that it is in that tongue. For I have seen them sustain that the Holy Scriptures ought not to be translated into the French language or any other vernacular tongue. Nevertheless, the Bible in French was printed in this city so long ago as in 1529, and again this present year, and is for sale by the most wealthy printers. For my part I have seen no prohibition either by the church or by the secular authority, although I once heard some decretal alleged in condemnation." Unfortunately such judges as Louis Caillaud were rare—men that would take the pains to obtain the services of a person acquainted with the English language to translate aloud a Bible suspected of heretical teachings, while themselves[Pg 220] testing its accuracy by scanning versions made from the Vulgate and the Hebrew original![433]

Royal letters from Lyons, Aug. 30, 1542.

Two years more had scarcely passed before fresh legislation against the Protestants demonstrated the impotence of all measures thus far resorted to. The interval had certainly been improved by their enemies, for the stake had its victims to boast of.[434] And yet the new religious body had its ministers and its secret conventicles, with an ever increasing number of adherents. Accordingly, on the thirtieth of August, 1542, Francis, then at Lyons, addressed new letters patent to the various parliaments, enjoining new vigilance and activity. Previous edicts had not borne all the fruit expected from them; for there was still a bad seed of error and damnable doctrines—so wrote the king—growing and multiplying from day to day. So exemplary a punishment must, therefore, be inflicted, as might forever terrify offenders.[435] The king even threatened delinquent prelates with seizure of their temporalities, in case they failed to exercise due diligence in so important a matter.[436]

Audacity of the "Lutherans" of Bordeaux.
Francis I. and the Sacramentarians.

King, bishops and parliaments were terribly in earnest. All were agreed that Protestantism must and should be crushed, however little they harmonized as to the reasons of its increase[Pg 221] or the method of suppressing it. The Archbishop of Bordeaux denounced to the parliament of that city the growing audacity of the "Lutherans" of his diocese, who had even dared to preach their doctrines publicly. He accounted for this disorder by the fact that the prosecution and exemplary punishment of heretics had ceased to be the uniform rule; as if the experience of the past score of years had not demonstrated the futility of attempting to compel religious uniformity by the fear of human tribunals and ignominious death. He therefore begged the parliament to spare neither him nor his brother prelates in the matter of defraying the expense of bringing "Lutherans" to trial and death. The secular judges were of the same mind with the prelates, and both took new courage from a declaration of Francis himself, which the archbishop had recently heard with his own ears at Angoulême. In the presence of Cardinal Tournon and others, the king had assured him that "he desired that no sacramentarian should be permitted to abjure, but that all such heretics should be remorselessly put to death!"[437] By such pitiless measures did Francis still think to establish his unimpeachable loyalty to the doctrine of transubstantiation.

Royal ordinance of Paris, July 23, 1543.

But, as ill success continued to attend every attempt to crush the Reformation in France, it was necessary to find some plausible explanation of the failure. The ecclesiastical counsellors of the king alleged that they discovered it in the recent edicts themselves, which they represented as derogating from the efficiency of both prelates and inquisitors of the faith. To meet this new objection, Francis complaisantly published another ordinance (on the twenty-third of July, 1543), carefully defining the respective provinces of the lay and clerical judges. Prelates and inquisitors were authorized to proceed, in accordance with canon law, to obtain information alike against clergymen and laymen, in case of suspected heresy, and the secular judges were strictly enjoined to afford them all[Pg 222] needed assistance in execution of their writs of summons and arrest. But all persons guilty of open heresy, and not actually in holy orders, must be given over, together with the documents relating to their offences, to the royal judges and to the courts of parliament, and by them tried as seditious disturbers of the peace and tranquillity of the commonwealth and of the king's subjects, secret conspirators against the prosperity of his estate, and rebels against his authority and laws.[438] In order, however, to secure to the ecclesiastical tribunals their full control over clergymen, it was provided that any churchman condemned to banishment, or any other punishment short of death, should immediately after the "amende honorable," and before execution of sentence, be remitted to his spiritual superiors to undergo deprivation of office, and such other penalties as canon law might prescribe.[439]

Heresy to be punished as sedition.
Repression proves a failure.

But the succession of edicts, each surpassing the last in severity, had not rendered the path of the judges, whether lay or ghostly, altogether easy. There were found prisoners, accused of holding and teaching heretical doctrines, well skilled in holy lore, however ignorant of the casuistry of the schools, who made good their assertion that they could give a warrant for all their distinctive tenets from the Sacred Scriptures. Their arguments were so cogent, their citations were so apposite, that the auditors who had come with the expectation of witnessing the confusion of a heretic, often departed absorbed in serious consideration of a system that had so much the appearance of truth when defended by a simple man in jeopardy of his life, and when fortified by the authority of the Bible. More learned reformers had appealed successfully to the Fathers to whose teachings the church avowed its implicit obedience. It was clear that some standard of orthodoxy must be established. For, if St. Augustine or St. Cyprian might be brought up to prove the errors of the priests, what was it but[Pg 223] allowing the reformers to place the Roman Church at the bar, even in the very courts of justice? Might not the most damaging losses be expected to flow from such trials?

The public courts, indeed, were not the only places where the inconsistencies of the established church with its own ancient standards and representative theologians were brought out into bold relief. The pulpits of the very capital resounded, it was alleged, with contradictory teachings, scandalizing the faithful not a little at the holy season of Advent.[440]

The Sorbonne's Twenty-five Articles.

To put an end to so anomalous a state of affairs, the Parisian theologians, with the consent of the king, resolved to enunciate the true Catholic faith, in the form of twenty-five articles meeting all questions now in dispute (on the tenth of March, 1543). Of the general contents of this new formulary, it is sufficient to observe that it more concisely expressed the doctrines developed in the decisions of the Council of Trent; that it insisted upon baptism as essential to the salvation even of infants; that it magnified the freedom of the human will, and maintained the justification of the sinner by works as well as by faith; and that, dwelling upon the bodily presence of Christ in the consecrated wafer, it affirmed the propriety of denying the cup to the laity, the utility of masses for the dead, the lawfulness of the invocation of the blessed Virgin and the saints, the existence of purgatory, the infallibility of the church, the authority of tradition, and the divine right of the Pope.[441]

Francis gives them the force of law.

On the twenty-third of July, 1543, the very day of the publi[Pg 224]cation of the edict of persecution previously mentioned, Francis by letters-patent gave the force of law to the exposition of the faith drawn up by the theological faculty of "his blessed and eldest daughter, the University of Paris." Henceforth no other doctrines could be professed in France. Dissent was to be treated as "rebellion" against the royal authority.[442]

Persecution more systematic.
The inquisitor Matthieu Ory.

The sanguinary legislation at which we have glanced bore its most atrocious fruits in the last years of Francis, and in the reign of his immediate successor. The consideration of this topic must, however, be reserved for succeeding chapters. Until now the persecution had been carried on with little system, and its intensity had varied according to the natural temperament and disposition of the Roman Catholic prelates, not less than the zeal of the civil judges. Many clergymen, as well as lay magistrates, had exhibited a singular supineness in the detection and punishment of the reformed. Some bishops, supposed to be at heart friendly to the restoration of the church to its pristine purity of doctrine and practice, had scarcely instituted a serious search. The royal edicts themselves bear witness to their reluctance, in spite of threatened suspension and deprivation. It is true that an attempt had been made to secure greater thoroughness and uniformity, by augmenting the number of inquisitors of the faith, and this, notwithstanding the fact that their authority infringed upon that of the bishops, whose right was scarcely questioned to exclusive cognizance of heresy within their respective dioceses. Not only had Matthieu Ory[443] and others been appointed with jurisdiction over the entire[Pg 225] kingdom, but a special inquisitor was created for the province of Normandy. Even these persons, however, were not always equally zealous in the performance of their allotted task. It was notorious that the good cheer with which Ory was regaled by the astute Protestants of Sancerre led him to report them to be excellent people. A deputy, who next visited the reputed heretics, brought back an equally flattering statement. And so the persecuting "lieutenant particulier" of Bourges seems to have had some ground for his complaint, "that good wine and a right new coat caused all these inquisitors to return well satisfied, without bringing him any prey."[444]

The Nicodemites and Libertins.

It could not be otherwise, however, than that these severe measures and the employment of new agents in the pitiless work of persecution should induce many feeble souls to suppress their true sentiments, and to make the attempt, under an external conformity with the Roman Church, to maintain opinions and a private devotion quite inconsistent with their professions. And, while the progress of the Reformation was seriously impeded by the timidity of this class of irresolute persons—appropriately styled by their contemporaries "the Nicodemites"—scarcely less danger threatened the same doctrines from the insidious assaults of the Libertines, a party which, ostensibly aiming at reform and religious liberty, really asked only for freedom in the indulgence of vicious propensities. Against both of these pernicious tendencies the eloquent reformer of Geneva employed his pen in forcible treatises, which were not without effect in checking their inroads.[445][Pg 226]

Margaret of Navarre at Bordeaux.

It must be confessed that the Queen of Navarre herself gave no little aid and comfort to the advocates of timid and irresolute counsels, by a course singularly wanting in ingenuousness. This amiable princess knew how to express herself with such ambiguity as to perplex both religious parties and heartily satisfy neither the one side nor the other. She was the avowed friend and correspondent of Melanchthon and Calvin. She was believed to be in substantial agreement with the Protestants. Her views of the fundamental doctrine of justification by faith and the paramount authority of the Holy Scriptures were those for which many a Protestant martyr had laid down his life. Even on the question of the Lord's Supper, her opinions, if mystical and somewhat vague, were certainly far removed from the dogmas of the Roman Church. She condemned, it is true, the extreme to which the "Sacramentarians" went, but it was difficult to see precisely wherein the modified mass she countenanced differed from the reformed service. Certainly not a line in her correspondence with Calvin points to any important difference of sentiment known by either party to exist between them. What shall we say, then, on reading of such language as she used in 1543, when addressing the Parliament of Bordeaux? She had been deputed by her brother to represent him, and was, consequently, received by the court, (on the twenty-fourth of May) with honors scarcely, if at all, inferior to those that would have been accorded to Francis had he presented himself in person. Her special commission was to notify parliament of an expected attack by the English, and to request that due preparation[Pg 227] should be made to ward it off. From this topic she passed to that of heresy, in respect to which she expressed herself to this effect: "She exhorted and prayed the court to punish and burn the true heretics, but to spare the innocent, and have compassion upon the prisoners and captives."[446] If, as the interesting minute of the queen's visit informs us, she next proceeded to claim the immemorial right, as a daughter of France, to open the prisons and liberate the inmates according to her good pleasure,[447] it can scarcely be imagined that the assertion of the right at this time had any other object in view than the release of those imprisoned for conscience' sake. It is true that she took pains to protest that she would avoid meddling with prisoners incarcerated for other crimes than such as her brother was accustomed to pardon; but as the interference of Francis in behalf of Berquin, Marot, and others accused of heresy, was sufficiently notorious, her guarantee could scarcely be considered very broad. Certainly she was not likely to find a "true heretic" worthy of the stake among all those imprisoned as "Lutherans" in the city of Bordeaux.

Negotiations in Germany.
Hypocritical representations made by Charles of Orleans.

While Francis, as we have seen, was from year to year aggravating the severity of his enactments against the adherents of the Reformation in his own kingdom, he did not forget his old rôle of ally of the Protestant princes of the empire. It would be too wide a digression from the true scope of this work, should we turn aside to chronicle the successive attempts of the French monarch to secure these powerful auxiliaries in his struggle with his great rival of the house of Hapsburg. One incident must suffice. The hypocrisy of Francis could, perhaps, go no farther than it carried him when, in 1543, his son Charles, Duke of Orleans, at the head of a royal army took possession of the Duchy of Luxemburg. The duke, who can hardly be imagined to have allowed himself to take any important step, certainly no step fraught with such mo[Pg 228]mentous consequences as might be expected to follow this, without explicit instructions from his father, at once despatched an envoy to the Elector of Saxony and the Landgrave of Hesse. The subordinate agent in this game of duplicity was instructed to assure the great Protestant leaders that it was the earnest desire of the Duke of Orleans to see the Gospel preached throughout the whole of France. It was true that filial reverence had hitherto restrained him from gratifying his desires in this direction in his Duchy of Orleans; but in the government of Luxemburg and of all other territories acquired by right of arms, he hoped to be permitted by his royal father to follow his own preferences, and there he solemnly promised to introduce the proclamation of God's holy word. In return for these liberal engagements, the duke desired the German princes, then on the point of meeting for conference at Frankfort, to admit him to an alliance offensive and defensive, especially in matters concerning religion. He assured them of the support not only of his own forces, but of his father's troops, committed to him to use at his discretion, adding, as a further motive, the prospect that the Gospel would find more ready welcome in the rest of France, when the king saw its German advocates close allies of his youngest son.[448]

Commendable scepticism of the Germans.

But the princes were much too familiar with the wiles of Francis to repose any confidence in the lavish professions of his son. And the historian who discovers that the more intimately the king strove to associate himself with the German Protestants, the more fiercely did he commit the Protestants of France to the flames, in order to demonstrate to the Pope the immaculate orthodoxy of his religious belief, will not fail to applaud their discernment. Not[Pg 229] until toward the very close of Francis's reign, when the Lutherans descried portents of a storm that threatened them with utter extermination, raised by the bigotry or craft of Charles the Fifth, did they manifest any anxiety to enter into near connection with the French monarch.

Francis was reaping the natural rewards of a crooked policy, dictated by no strong convictions of truth or duty, but shaped according to the narrow suggestions of an unworthy ambition. If he punished heretics at home, it was partly to secure on his side the common sentiment of the Roman Catholic world, partly because the enemies of the Reformation had persuaded him that the change of religion necessarily involved the subversion of established order and of royal authority. If he made overtures to the Protestant princes of Germany, the flimsy veil of devotion to their interests was too transparent to conceal the total want of concern for anything beyond his own personal aggrandizement.

Two mournful exemplifications of the fruits of his persecuting measures must, however, be presented to the reader's notice, before the curtain can be permitted to fall over the scene on which this monarch played his part. The massacre of Mérindol and Cabrières and the execution of the "Fourteen of Meaux" are the melancholy events that mark the close of a reign opening, a generation earlier, so auspiciously.

[Pg 230]



The Vaudois of Provence.
Their industry and thrift.
Vaudois settlements even in the Comtât Venaissin.

That part of Provence, the ancient Roman Provincia, which skirts the northern bank of the Durance, formerly contained, at a distance of between twenty and fifty miles above the confluence of the river with the Rhône near Avignon, more than a score of small towns and villages inhabited by peasants of Waldensian origin. The entire district had been desolated by war about a couple of centuries before the time of which we are now treating. Extensive tracts of land were nearly depopulated, and the few remaining tillers of the soil obtained a precarious subsistence, at the mercy of banditti that infested the mountains and forests, and plundered unfortunate travellers. Under these circumstances, the landed gentry, impoverished through the loss of the greater part of their revenues, gladly welcomed the advent of new-comers, who were induced to cross the Alps from the valleys of Piedmont and occupy the abandoned farms.[449] By the industrious culture of the Vaudois, or Waldenses, the face of the country was soon transformed. Villages sprang up where there had scarcely been a single house. Brigandage disappeared. Grain, wine, olives, and almonds were obtained in abundance from what had been a barren waste. On lands[Pg 231] less favorable for cultivation numerous flocks and herds pastured.[450] A tract formerly returning the scanty income of four crowns a year now contained a thriving village of eighty substantial houses, and brought its owners nearly a hundredfold the former rental.[451] On one occasion at least, discouraged by the annoyance to which their religious opinions subjected them, a part of the Vaudois sought refuge in their ancient homes, on the Italian side of the mountains. But their services were too valuable to be dispensed with, and they soon returned to Provence, in answer to the urgent summons of their Roman Catholic landlords.[452] In fact, a very striking proof both of their industry and of their success is furnished by the circumstance that Cabrières, one of the largest Vaudois villages, was situated within the bounds of the Comtât Venaissin, governed, about the time of their arrival, by the Pope in person, and subsequently, as we have seen, by a papal legate residing in Avignon.[453]

They send delegates to the Swiss and German reformers.

The news of an attempted reformation of the church in Switzerland and Germany awakened a lively interest in this community of simple-minded Christians. At length a convocation of their ministers[454] at Mérindol, in 1530, determined to[Pg 232] send two of their number to compare the tenets they had long held with those of the reformers, and to obtain, if possible, additional light upon some points of doctrine and of practice respecting which they entertained doubt. The delegates were George Morel, of Freissinières, and Pierre Masson, of Burgundy. They visited Œcolampadius at Basle, Bucer and Capito at Strasbourg, Farel at Neufchâtel, and Haller at Berne. From the first-named they received the most important aid, in the way of suggestions respecting the errors[455] into which the isolated position they had long occupied had insensibly led them. Grateful for the kindness manifested to them, and delighted with what they had witnessed of the progress of the faith they had received from their fathers, the two envoys started on their return. But Morel alone succeeded in reaching Provence; his companion was arrested at Dijon and condemned to death. Upon the[Pg 233] report of Morel, however, the Waldenses at once began to investigate the new questions that had been raised, and, in their eagerness to purify their church, sent word to their brethren in Apulia and Calabria, inviting them to a conference respecting the interests of religion.[456]

They furnish means for publishing the Scriptures.

A few years later (1535) the Waldenses by their liberal contributions furnished the means necessary for publishing the translation of the Holy Scriptures made by Pierre Robert Olivetanus, and corrected by Calvin, which, unless exception be made in favor of the translation by Lefèvre d'Étaples, is entitled to rank as the earliest French Protestant Bible.[457] It was a noble undertaking, by which the poor and humble inhabitants of Provence, Piedmont, and Calabria conferred on France a signal benefit, scarcely appreciated in its full extent even by those who pride themselves upon their acquaintance with the rich literature of that country. For, while Olivetanus in his admirable version laid the founda[Pg 234]tion upon which all the later and more accurate translations have been reared, by the excellence of his modes of expression he exerted an influence upon the French language perhaps not inferior to that of Calvin or Montaigne.[458]

Preliminary persecutions.

Intelligence of the new activity manifested by the Waldenses reaching the ears of their enemies, among whom the Archbishop of Aix was prominent, stirred them up to more virulent hostility. The accusation was subsequently made by unfriendly writers, in order to furnish some slight justification for the atrocities of the massacre, that the Waldenses, emboldened by the encouragement of the reformers, began to show a disposition to offer forcible resistance to the arbitrary arrests ordered by the civil and religious authorities of Aix. But the assertion, which is unsupported by evidence, contradicts the well-known disposition and practice of a patient people, more prone to submit to oppression than to take up arms even in defence of a righteous cause.[459]

The Dominican De Roma foremost in the work.
Iniquitous order of the Parliament of Aix.

For a time the persecution was individual, and therefore limited. But in the aggregate the number of victims was by no means inconsiderable, and the flames burned many a steadfast Waldensee.[460] The Dominican De Roma enjoyed an unenviable notoriety for his ferocity in deal[Pg 235]ing with the "heretics," whose feet he was in the habit of plunging in boots full of melted fat and boiling over a slow fire. The device did, indeed, seem to the king, when he heard of it, less ingenious than cruel, and De Roma found it necessary to avoid arrest by a hasty flight to Avignon, where, upon papal soil, as foul a sink of iniquity existed as anywhere within the bounds of Christendom.[461] But other agents, scarcely more merciful than De Roma, prosecuted the work. Some of the Waldenses were put to death, others were branded upon the forehead. Even the ordinary rights of the accused were denied them; for, in order to leave no room for justice, the Parliament of Aix had framed an iniquitous order, prohibiting all clerks and notaries from either furnishing the accused copies of legal instruments, or receiving at their hands any petition or paper whatsoever.[462] Such were the measures by which the newly-created Parliament of Provence signalized its zeal for the faith, and attested its worthiness to be a sovereign court of the kingdom.[463] From its severe sentences, however, appeals had once and again been taken by the Waldenses to Francis, who had granted them his royal pardon on condition of their abjuration of their errors within six months.[464]

Inhabitants of Mérindol cited.

The slow methods heretofore pursued having proved abortive, in 1540 the parliament summoned to its bar, as suspected of heresy, fifteen or twenty[465] of the inhabitants of the village of Mérindol. On the appointed day the accused made their way to Aix, but, on stopping to[Pg 236] obtain legal advice of a lawyer more candid than others to whom they had first applied, and who had declined to give counsel to reputed Lutherans, they were warned by no means to appear, as their death was already resolved upon. They acted on the friendly injunction, and fled while it was still time.

The atrocious Arrêt de Mérindol, Nov. 18, 1540.

Finding itself balked for the time of its expected prey, the parliament resolved to avenge the slight put upon its authority, by compassing the ruin of a larger number of victims. On the eighteenth of November, 1540, the order was given which has since become infamous under the designation of the "Arrêt de Mérindol." The persons who had failed to obey the summons were sentenced to be burned alive, as heretics and guilty of treason against God and the King. If not apprehended in person, they were to be burned in effigy, their wives and children proscribed, and their possessions confiscated. As if this were not enough to satisfy the most inordinate greed of vengeance, parliament ordered that all the houses of Mérindol be burned and razed to the ground, and the trees cut down for a distance of two hundred paces on every side, in order that the spot which had been the receptacle of heresy might be forever uninhabited! Finally, with an affectation which would seem puerile were it not the conclusion of so sanguinary a document, the owners of lands were forbidden to lease any part of Mérindol to a tenant bearing the same name, or belonging to the same family, as the miscreants against whom the decree was fulminated.[466][Pg 237]

It is condemned by public opinion.

A more atrocious sentence was, perhaps, never rendered by a court of justice than the Arrêt de Mérindol, which condemned the accused without a hearing, confounded the innocent with the guilty, and consigned the entire population of a peaceful village, by a single stroke of the pen, to a cruel death, or a scarcely less terrible exile. For ten righteous persons God would have spared guilty Sodom; but neither the virtues of the inoffensive inhabitants, nor the presence of many Roman Catholics among them, could insure the safety of the ill-fated Mérindol at the hands of merciless judges.[467] The publication of the Arrêt occasioned, even within the bounds of the province, the most severe animadversion; nor were there wanting men of learning and high social position, who, while commenting freely upon the scandalous morals of the clergy, expressed their conviction that the public welfare would be promoted rather by restraining and reforming the profligacy of the ecclesiastics, than by issuing bloody edicts against the most exemplary part of the community.[468]

Preparations to carry it into effect.

Meantime, however, the archbishops of Arles and of Aix urged the prompt execution of the sentence, and the convocations of clergy offered to defray the expense of the levy of troops needed to carry it into effect. The Archbishop of Aix used his personal influence with Chassanée, the First President of the Parliament, who, with the more moderate judges, had only consented to the enactment as a threat which he never intended to execute.[469] And the wily[Pg 238] prelate so far succeeded by his arguments, and by the assurance he gave of the protection of the Cardinal of Tournon, in case the matter should reach the king's ears, that the definite order was actually promulgated for the destruction of Mérindol. Troops were accordingly raised, and, in fact, the vanguard of a formidable army had reached a spot within three miles of the devoted village, when the command was suddenly received to retreat, the soldiers were disbanded, and the astonished Waldenses beheld the dreaded outburst of the storm strangely delayed.[470]

It is delayed by friendly interposition.
The "mice of Autun."

The unexpected deliverance is said to have been due to the remonstrance of a friend, M. d'Allens. D'Allens had adroitly reminded the president of an amusing incident by means of which Chassanée had himself illustrated the ample protection against oppression afforded by the law, in the hands of a sagacious advocate and a righteous judge; and he had earnestly entreated his friend not to show himself less equitable in the matter of the defenceless inhabitants of Mérindol than he had been in that of the "mice of Autun."[471]

Francis I. instructs Du Bellay to investigate.

The delay thus gained permitted a reference of the affair to[Pg 239] the king. It is said that Guillaume du Bellay is entitled to the honor of having informed Francis of the oppression of his poor subjects of Provence, and invoked the royal interposition.[472] However this may be, it is certain that Francis instructed Du Bellay to set on foot a thorough investigation into the history and character of the inhabitants of Mérindol, and report the results to himself. The selection could not have been more felicitous. Du Bellay was Viceroy of Piedmont, a province thrown into the hands of Francis by the fortunes of war. A man of calm and impartial spirit, his liberal principles had been fostered by intimate association with the Protestants of Germany. Only a few months earlier, in 1539, he had, in his capacity of governor, made energetic remonstrances to the Constable de Montmorency touching the wrongs sustained by the Waldenses of the valleys of Piedmont at the hands of a Count de Montmian, the constable's kinsman. He had even resorted to threats, and declared "that it appeared to him wicked and villanous, if, as was reported, the count had invaded these valleys and plundered a peaceful and unoffending race of men." Montmian had retorted by accusing Du Bellay of falsehood, and maintaining that the Waldenses had suffered no more than they deserved, on account of their rebellion against God and the king. The unexpected death of Montmian prevented the two noblemen from meeting in single combat, but a bitter enmity between the constable and Du Bellay had been the result.[473]

Du Bellay's favorable report.

The viceroy, in obedience to his instructions, despatched two agents from Turin to inquire upon the ground into the character and antecedents of the people of Mérindol. Their report, which has fortunately come down to us, constitutes a brilliant testimonial from unbiassed witnesses to[Pg 240] the virtues of this simple peasantry. They set forth in simple terms the affecting story of the cruelty and merciless exactions to which the villagers had for long years been subjected. They collected the concurrent opinions of all the Roman Catholics of the vicinity respecting their industry. In two hundred years they had transformed an uncultivated and barren waste into a fertile and productive tract, to the no small profit of the noblemen whose tenants they were. They were a people distinguished for their love of peace and quiet, with firmly established customs and principles, and warmly commended for their strict adherence to truth in their words and engagements. Averse alike to debt and to litigation, they were bound to their neighbors by a tie of singular good-will and respect. Their kindness to the unfortunate and their humanity to travellers knew no bounds. One could readily distinguish them from others by their abstinence from unnecessary oaths, and their avoidance even of the very name of the devil. They never indulged in lascivious discourse themselves, and if others introduced it in their presence, they instantly withdrew from the company. It was true that they rarely entered the churches, when pleasure or business took them to the city or the fair; and, if found within the sacred enclosure, they were seen praying with faces averted from the paintings of the saints. They offered no candles, avoided the sacred relics, and paid no reverence to the crosses on the roadside. The priests testified that they were never known to purchase masses either for the living or for the dead, nor to sprinkle themselves with holy water. They neither went on pilgrimages, nor invoked the intercession of the host of heaven, nor expended the smallest sum in securing indulgences. In a thunderstorm they knelt down and prayed, instead of crossing themselves. Finally, they contributed nothing to the support of religious fraternities or to the rebuilding of churches, reserving their means for the relief of tho poor and afflicted.[474]


To face p. 240.

[Pg 241]

Francis signs a letter of pardon.

Although the enemies of the Waldenses were not silenced, and wild stories of their rebellious acts still found willing listeners at court,[475] it was impossible to resist the favorable impression made by the viceroy's letter. Consequently, on the eighth of February, 1541, Francis signed a letter granting pardon not only to the persons who by their failure to appear before the Parliament of Aix had furnished the pretext for the proscriptive decree, but to all others, meantime commanding them to abjure their errors within the space of three months. At the same time the over-zealous judges were directed henceforth to use less severity against these subjects of his Majesty.[476]

Parliament issues a new summons.
The Vaudois publish a confession.
Bishop Sadolet's kindness.

Little inclined to relinquish the pursuit, however, parliament seized upon the king's command to abjure within three months, as an excuse for issuing a new summons to the Waldenses. Two deputies from Mérindol accordingly presented themselves, and offered, on the part of the inhabitants, to abandon their peculiar tenets, so soon as these should be refuted from the Holy Scriptures—the course which, as they believed, the king himself had intended that they should take. As it was no part of the plan to grant so reasonable a request, the sole reply vouchsafed was a declaration that all who[Pg 242] recanted would receive the benefit of the king's pardon, but all others would be reputed guilty of heresy without further inquiry. Whereupon the Waldenses of Mérindol, in 1542, drew up a full confession of their faith, in order that the excellence of the doctrines they held might be known to all men.[477] The important document was submitted not merely to parliament, but to Cardinal Sadolet, Bishop of Carpentras. The prelate was a man of a kindly disposition, and did not hesitate, in reply to a petition of the Waldenses of Cabrières, to acknowledge the falsity of the accusations laid to their charge.[478] Not long after, he successfully exerted his influence with the vice-legate to induce him to abandon an expedition he had organized against the last-mentioned village; while, in an interview which he purposely sought with the inhabitants, he assured them that he firmly intended, in a coming visit to Rome, to secure the reformation of some incontestable abuses.[479]

Intercession of the Germans.

The Mérindol confession is said to have found its way even to Paris, and to have been read to the king by Châtellain, Bishop of Maçon, and a favorite of the monarch. And it is added that, astonished at the purity of its doctrine, Francis asked, but in vain, that any erroneous teaching in it should be pointed out to him.[480] It is not, indeed, impossible that the king's interest in his Waldensian subjects may have been deepened by the receipt of a respectful remonstrance against the persecutions now raging in France, drawn up by Melanchthon in the name of the Protestant princes and states of Germany.[481][Pg 243]

Death of President Chassanée, who is succeeded by Baron d'Oppède.
Military preparations stopped by a second royal order.

The Arrêt de Mérindol yet remained unexecuted when, Chassanée having died, he was succeeded, in the office of First President of the Parliament of Provence, by Jean Meynier, Baron d'Oppède. The latter was an impetuous and unscrupulous man. Even before his elevation to his new judicial position, Meynier had looked with envious eye upon the prosperity of Cabrières, situated but a few miles from his barony; and scarcely had he taken his place on the bench, before, at his bidding, the first notes of preparation for a great military assault upon the villages of the Durance were heard. The affrighted peasants again had recourse to the mercy of their distant sovereign. A second time Francis (on the twenty-fifth of October, 1544) interfered, evoking the case from parliament, and assuming cognizance of it until such time as he might have instituted an examination upon the spot by a "Maître de requêtes" and a theologian sent by him.[482]

Calumnious accusations.

The interruption was little relished. A fresh investigation was likely to disclose nothing more unfavorable to the Waldenses than had been elicited by the inquiries of Du Bellay, or than the report which had led Louis the Twelfth, on an earlier occasion (1501), to exclaim with an oath: "They are better Christians than we are!"[483] and, what was worse, the poor relations, both of the prelates and of the judges, had only a sorry prospect of enriching themselves through the confiscation of the property of the lawful owners.[484] It was time to venture something[Pg 244] for the purpose of obtaining the coveted prize. Accordingly, the Parliament of Aix, at this juncture, despatched to Paris one of its official servants, with a special message to the king. He was to beg Francis to recall his previous order. He was to tell him that Mérindol and the neighboring villages had broken out into open rebellion; that fifteen thousand armed insurgents had met in a single body. They had captured towns and castles, liberated prisoners, and hindered the course of justice. They were intending to march against Marseilles, and when successful would establish a republic fashioned on the model of the Swiss cantons.[485]

Francis, misinformed, revokes his last orders.

Thus reinforced, Cardinal Tournon found no great difficulty in exciting the animosity of a king both jealous of any infringement upon his prerogative, and credulous respecting movements tending to the encouragement of rebellion. On the first of January, 1545, Francis sent a new letter to the Parliament of Aix. He revoked his last order, enjoined the execution of the former decrees of parliament, so far as they concerned those who had failed to abjure, and commanded the governor of Provence, or his lieutenant, to employ all his forces to exterminate any found guilty of the Waldensian heresy.[486][Pg 245]

His letter construed as authorizing a new crusade.

The new order had been skilfully drawn. The "Arrêt de Mérindol," although not alluded to by name, might naturally be understood as included under the general designation of the parliament's decrees against heretics; while the direction to employ the governor's troops against those who had not abjured could be construed as authorizing a local crusade, in which innocent and guilty were equally likely to suffer. Such were the pretexts behind which the first president and his friends prepared for a carnage which, for causelessness and atrocity, finds few parallels on the page of history.

An expedition stealthily organized.

Three months passed, and yet no attempt was made to disturb the peaceful villages on the Durance. Then the looked-for opportunity came. Count De Grignan, Governor of Provence, was summoned by the king and sent on a diplomatic mission to Germany. The civil and military administration fell into the Baron d'Oppède's hands as lieutenant. The favorable conjuncture was instantly improved. On a single day—the twelfth of April—the royal letter, hitherto kept secret, that the intended victims might receive no intimations of the impending blow, was read and judicially confirmed, and four commissioners were appointed to superintend the execution.[487] Troops were hastily levied. All men capable of bearing arms in the cities of Aix, Arles, and Marseilles were commanded, under severe penalties, to join the expedition;[488] and some companies of veteran troops, which happened to be on their way from Piedmont to the scene of the English war, were impressed into the service by D'Oppède, in the king's name.[489][Pg 246]

Villages burned and their inhabitants butchered.

On the thirteenth of April, the commissioners, leaving Aix, proceeded to Pertuis, on the northern bank of the Durance. Thence, following the course of the river, they reached Cadenet. Here they were joined by the Baron d'Oppède, his sons-in-law, De Pouriez and De Lauris, and a considerable force of men. A deliberation having been held, on the sixteenth, Poulain, to whom the chief command had been assigned by D'Oppède, directed his course northward, and burned Cabrièrette, Peypin, La Motte and Saint-Martin, villages built on the lands of De Cental, a Roman Catholic nobleman, at this time a minor. The wretched inhabitants, who had not until the very last moment credited the strange story of the disaster in reserve for them, hurriedly fled on the approach of the soldiery, some to the woods, others to Mérindol. Unable to defend them against a force so greatly superior in number and equipment, a part of the men are said to have left their wives, old men, and children in their forest retreat, confident that if discovered, feminine weakness and the helplessness of infancy or of extreme old age would secure better terms for them than could be hoped for in case of a brave, but ineffectual defence by unarmed men.[490] It was a confidence misplaced. Unresisting, gray-headed men were despatched with the sword, while the women were reserved for the grossest outrage, or suffered the mutilation of their breasts, or, if with child, were butchered with their unborn offspring. Of all the property spared them by previous oppressors, nothing was left to sustain the miserable survivors. For weeks they wandered homeless[Pg 247] and penniless in the vicinity of their once flourishing settlements; and there one might not unfrequently see the infant lying on the road-side, by the corpse of the mother dead of hunger and exposure. For even the ordinary charity of the humane had been checked by an order of D'Oppède, savagely forbidding that shelter or food be afforded to heretics, on pain of the halter.[491]

Lourmarin, Villelaure, and Treizemines were next burned on the way to Mérindol. On the opposite side of the Durance, La Rocque and St. Étienne de Janson suffered the same fate, at the hands of volunteers coming from Arles. Happily they were found deserted, the villagers having had timely notice of the approaching storm.

The destruction of Mérindol.

Early on the eighteenth of April, D'Oppède reached Mérindol, the ostensible object of the expedition. But a single person was found within its circuit, and he a young man reputed possessed of less than ordinary intellect. His captor had promised him freedom, on his pledging himself to pay two crowns for his ransom. But D'Oppède, finding no other human being upon whom to vent his rage, paid the soldier the two crowns from his own pocket, and ordered the youth to be tied to an olive-tree and shot. The touching words uttered by the simple victim, as he turned his eyes heavenward and breathed out his life, have been preserved: "Lord God, these men are snatching from me a life full of wretchedness and misery, but Thou wilt give me eternal life through Jesus Thy Son."[492]

The village razed.

Meantime the work of persecution was thoroughly done. The houses were plundered and burned; the trees, whether intended for shade or for fruit, were cut down to the distance of two hundred paces from the place. The very site of Mérindol was levelled, and crowds of laborers industriously strove to destroy every trace of human habitation. Two hun[Pg 248]dred dwellings, the former abode of thrift and contentment, had disappeared from the earth, and their occupants wandered, poverty-stricken, to other regions.[493]

Treacherous capture of Cabrières.

Leaving the desolate spot, D'Oppède next presented himself, on the nineteenth of April, before the town of Cabrières. Behind some weak entrenchments a small body of brave men had posted themselves, determined to defend the lives and honor of their wives and children to their last drop of blood. D'Oppède hesitated to order an assault until a breach had first been made by cannon. Then the Waldenses were plied with solicitations to spare needless effusion of blood by voluntary surrender. They were offered immunity of life and property, and a judicial trial. When by these promises the assailants had, on the morrow, gained the interior of the works, they found them guarded by Étienne de Marroul and an insignificant force of sixty men, supported by a courageous band of about forty women. The remainder of the population, overcome by natural terror at the strange sight of war, had taken refuge—the men in the cellars of the castle, the women and children in the church.

Men butchered and women burned.

The slender garrison left their entrenchments without arms, trusting in the good faith of their enemies. It was a vain and delusive reliance. They had to do with men who held, and carried into practice, the doctrine that no faith is to be observed with heretics. Scarcely had the Waldenses placed themselves in their power, when twenty-five or more of their number were seized, and, being dragged to a meadow near by, were butchered in cold blood, in the presence of the Baron d'Oppède. The rest were taken to Aix and Marseilles. The women were treated with even greater cruelty. Having been thrust into a barn, they were there burned alive. When a soldier, more compassionate than his comrades, opened to them a way of escape, D'Oppède ordered them to be driven back at the point of the pike. Nor were those taken within the town more fortunate. The men, drawn from their subterranean re[Pg 249]treats, were either killed on the spot, or bound in couples and hurried to the castle hall, where two captains stood ready to kill them as they successively arrived. It was, however, for the sacred precincts of the church that the crowning orgies of these bloody revels were reserved. The fitting actors were a motley rabble from the neighboring city of Avignon, who converted the place consecrated to the worship of the Almighty into a charnel-house, in which eight hundred bodies lay slain, without respect of age or sex.[494]

In the blood of a thousand human beings D'Oppède had washed out a fancied affront received at the hands of the inhabitants of Cabrières. The private rancor of a relative induced him to visit a similar revenge on La Coste, where a fresh field was opened for the perfidy, lust, and greed of the soldiery. The peasants were promised by their feudal lord perfect security, on condition that they brought their arms into the castle and broke down four portions of their wall. Too implicit reliance was placed in a nobleman's word, and the terms were accepted. But when D'Oppède arrived, a murderous work began. The suburbs were burned, the town was taken, the citizens for the most part were butchered, the married women and girls were alike surrendered to the brutality of the soldiers.[495]

The results.

For more than seven weeks the pillage continued.[496] Twenty-two towns and villages were utterly destroyed. The soldiers, glutted with blood and rapine, were withdrawn from the scene of their infamous excesses. Most of the Waldenses who had escaped sword, famine, and exposure, grad[Pg 250]ually returned to the familiar sites, and established themselves anew, maintaining their ancient faith.[497] But multitudes had perished of hunger,[498] while others, rejoicing that they had found abroad a toleration denied them at home, renounced their native land, and settled upon the territory generously conceded to them in Switzerland.[499] In one way or another, France had become poorer by the loss of several thousands persons of its most industrious class.[500]

The king led to give his approval.

The very agents in the massacre were appalled at the havoc they had made. Fearing, with reason, the punishment of their crime, if viewed in its proper light,[501] they endeavored to veil it with the forms of a judicial proceeding. A commission was appointed to try the heretics whom the sword had spared. A part were sentenced to the galleys, others to heavy fines. A few of the tenants of M. de Cental are said to have purchased reconciliation by abjuring their faith.[502] But, to conceal the truth still more effectually, President De la Fond was sent to Paris. He assured Francis that the sufferers had been guilty of the basest crimes, that they had been judicially tried and found guilty, and that their punishment was really below the desert of their offences.[503] Upon these representations, the king[Pg 251] was induced—it was supposed by the solicitation of Cardinal Tournon—to grant letters (at Arques, on the eighteenth of August, 1545) approving the execution of the Waldenses, but recommending to mercy all that repented and abjured.[504]

An investigation subsequently ordered.

Thus did the authors of so much human suffering escape merited retribution at the hands of earthly justice during the brief remainder of the reign of Francis the First. If, as some historians have asserted, that monarch's eyes were at last opened to the enormities committed in Provence, it was too late for him to do more than enjoin on his son and successor a careful review of the entire proceedings.[505] After the death of Francis an opportunity for obtaining redress seemed to offer. Cardinal Tournon and Count De Grignan were in disgrace, and their places in the royal favor were held by men who hated them heartily. The new favorites used their influence to secure the Waldenses a hearing. D'Oppède and the four commissioners were summoned to Paris. Count De Grignan himself barely escaped being put on trial—as responsible for the misdeeds of his lieutenant—by securing the advocacy of the Duke of Guise, which he purchased with the sacrifice of his domains at Grignan. For fifty days the trial of the other criminals was warmly prosecuted before the Parliament of Paris; and so ably and lucidly did Auberi present the claims of the oppressed before the crowded assembly, that a severe verdict was confidently awaited.

Meagre effect.

The public expectation, however, was doomed to disappointment. Only one of the accused, the advocate Guérin, being so[Pg 252] unfortunate as to possess no great influence at court, was condemned to the gallows. D'Oppède escaped with De Grignan, through the protection of the Duke of Guise, and, like his fellow-defendants, was reinstated in office.[506] For the rendering of a decision so flagrantly unjust the true cause must be sought in the sanguinary character of the Parisian judges themselves, who, while they were reluctant, on the one hand, to derogate from the credit of another parliament of France, on the other, feared lest, in condemning the persecuting rage of others, they might seem to be passing sentence upon themselves for the uniform course of cruelty they had pursued in the trial of the reformers.[507]

The oppressed and persecuted of all ages have been ready, not without reason, to recognize in signal disasters befalling their enemies the retributive hand of the Almighty himself lifting for a moment the veil of futurity, to disclose a little of the misery that awaits the evil-doer in another world. But, in the present instance, it is a candid historian of different faith who does not hesitate to ascribe to a special interposition of the Deity the excruciating sufferings and death which, not long after his acquittal, overtook Baron d'Oppède, the chief actor in the mournful tragedy we have been recounting.[508][Pg 253]

New persecution at Meaux.

The ashes of Mérindol and Cabrières were scarcely cold, before in a distant part of France the flame of persecution broke out with fresh energy.[509] The city of Meaux, where, under the evangelical preachers introduced by Bishop Briçonnet, the Reformation had made such auspicious progress, had never been thoroughly reduced to submission to papal authority. "The Lutherans of Meaux" had passed into a proverb. Persecuted, they retained their devotion to their new faith; compelled to observe strict secrecy, they multiplied to such a degree that their numbers could no longer be concealed. Twenty years after their destruction had been resolved upon, the necessity of a regular church organization made itself felt by the growing congregations. Some of the members had visited the church of Strasbourg, to which John Calvin had, a few years before, given an orderly system of government and worship—the model followed by many Protestant churches of subsequent formation. On their return a similar polity was established in Meaux. A simple wool-carder, Pierre Leclerc, brother of one of the first martyrs of Protestant France, was called from the humble pursuits of the artisan to the responsible post of pastor. He was no scholar in the usual acceptation of the term; he knew only his mother-tongue. But his judgment was sound, his piety fervent, his familiarity with the Holy Scriptures singularly great. So fruitful were his labors, that the handful of hearers grew into assemblies often of several hundreds, drawn to Meaux from villages five or six leagues distant.

A woman's pointed remark.
A favorite psalm.

Betrayed by their size, the conventicles came to the knowledge of the magistrates, and on the eighth of September, 1546, a descent was made upon the worshipping Christians. Sixty-two persons composed the gathering. The lieutenant and provost of the city, with their meagre suite, could easily have been set at defiance. But the announcement of arrest in the king's[Pg 254] name prevented any attempt either at resistance on their part, or at rescue on that of their friends. Respecting the authority of law, the Protestants allowed themselves to be bound and led away by an insignificant detachment of officers. Only the pointed remark of one young woman to the lieutenant, as she was bound, has come down to us: "Sir, had you found me in a brothel, as you now find me in so holy and honorable a company, you would not have used me thus." As the prisoners passed through the streets of Meaux, their friends neither interfered with the ministers of justice, nor exhibited solicitude for their own safety; but accompanying them, as in a triumphal procession, loudly gave expression to their trust in God, by raising one of their favorite psalms, in Clement Marot's translation:[510]

Les gens entrez sont en ton heritage:
Ils ont pollu, Seigneur, par leur outrage,
Ton temple sainct, Jerusalem destruite,
Si qu'en monceaux de pierres, l'on reduite.

It was neither the first time, nor was it destined to be by any means the last, that those rugged, but nervous lines thrilled the souls of the persecuted Huguenots of France as with the sound of a trumpet, and braced them to the patient endurance of suffering or to the performance of deeds of valor.

The "Fourteen of Meaux."

Dragged with excessive and unnecessary violence to Paris, the prisoners were put on trial, and, within a single month, sentence was passed on them. The crime of having celebrated the Lord's Supper was almost inexpiable. Fourteen men, with Leclerc their minister, and Étienne Mangin, in whose house their worship had been held, were condemned to torture and the stake; others to whipping and banishment; the remainder, both men and women, to public penance and attendance upon the execution of their more prominent brethren. Upon one young man, whose tender years alone saved him from the flames, a sentence of a somewhat[Pg 255] whimsical character was pronounced. He was to be suspended under the arms during the auto-da-fé of his brethren, and, with a halter around his neck, was from his elevated position to witness their agony, as an instructive warning of the dangerous consequence of persistence in heretical errors. Mangin's house was to be razed, and on the site a chapel of the Virgin erected, wherein a solemn weekly mass was to be celebrated in honor of the sacramental wafer, the expense being defrayed by the confiscated property of the Protestants.

Neither in the monasteries to which they were temporarily allotted, nor on their way back to Meaux, did the courage of the "Fourteen" desert them. It was even enhanced by the boldness of a weaver, who, meeting them in the forest of Livry, cried out: "My brethren, be of good cheer, and fail not through weariness to give with constancy the testimony you owe the Gospel. Remember Him who is on high in heaven!"[511]

Their execution.

On the seventh of October, Mangin and Leclerc on hurdles, the others on carts, were taken to the market-square, where fourteen stakes had been set up in a circle. Here, facing one another, amid the agonies of death, and in spite of the din made by priests and populace frantically intoning the hymns "O salutaris hostia" and "Salve Regina" they continued till their last breath to animate each other and to praise the Almighty Giver of every blessing. But if the humane heart recoils with horror from the very thought of the bloody holocaust, the scene of the morrow inspires even greater disgust; when Picard, a doctor of the Sorbonne, standing beneath a canopy glittering with gold, near the yet smoking embers, assured the people that it was essential to salvation to believe that the "Fourteen" were condemned to the lowest abyss of hell, and that even the word of an angel from heaven ought not to be credited, if he maintained the contrary. "For," said he, "God would not be God did He not consign them to everlasting damnation." Upon which charitable and pious assertions of the learned theologian the Protestant chronicler had but a simple observation to make: "However, he could not per[Pg 256]suade those who knew them to be excellent men, and upright in their lives, that this was so. Consequently the seed of the truth was not destroyed in the city of Meaux."[512]

Wider diffusion of the reformed doctrines.

Far from witnessing the extinction of the Reformation in his dominions, the last year of the life of Francis the First was signalized by its wider diffusion. At Senlis, at Orleans, and at Fère, near Soissons, fugitives from Meaux planted the germs of new religious communities. Fresh fires were kindled to destroy them; and in one place a preacher was burned in a novel fashion, with a pack of books upon his back.[513] Lyons and Langres, in the east, received reformed teachers about the same time; although from the latter place the pastor and four members of his flock were carried to the capital and perished at the stake. Even Sens, see of the primate, contributed its portion of witnesses for the Gospel, who sealed their testimony in their blood.[514]

The printer, Jean Chapot, before parliament.

In Paris itself parliament tried a native of Dauphiny, Jean Chapot, who, having brought several packages of books from Geneva, had been denounced by a brother printer. His defence was so apt and learned that the judges were nearly shaken by his animated appeals. It fared ill with three doctors of the Sorbonne, Dean Nicholas Clerici, and his assistants, Picard and Maillard, who were called in to refute him; for they could not stand their ground, and were forced, avoiding proofs from the Holy Scriptures, to have recourse to the authority of the church. In the end the theologians covered their retreat with indignant remonstrances addressed to parliament for listening to such seductive speakers; and the majority of the judges, mastering their first inclination to acquit Chapot, condemned him to the stake, reserving for him the easier death by strangling, in case he recanted. An unusual favor was allowed him. He was permitted to make a short speech previously to his execution. Faint and utterly unable to stand, in consequence of the tortures by which his body had been racked, he was supported on either side by an attendant,[Pg 257] and thus from the funeral cart explained his belief to the by-standers. But when he reached the topic of the Lord's Supper, he was interrupted by one of the priests. The milder sentence of the halter was inflicted, in order to create the impression that he had been so weak as to repeat the "Ave Maria." But the practice henceforth uniformly followed by the "Chambre ardente" of parliament, of cutting out the tongues of the condemned before sending them to public execution, confirmed the report that Maillard had exclaimed that "all would be lost, if such men were suffered to speak to the people."[515]

[Pg 258]



Death of Francis I.
Impartial estimates of his character.

On the thirty-first of March, 1547, Francis the First died, leaving the throne to his only surviving son. With whatever assiduity the poets and scholars of whom the late king had been a munificent patron, and the courtiers who had basked in the sunshine of his favor, might apply themselves to the celebration of his resplendent merits, posterity, less blind to his faults, has declined to confirm the title of "great" affixed to his name by contemporaries. The candid historian, undazzled by the glitter of his chivalric enterprises, may condemn the animus, but can scarcely deny the substantial truth of the bitter reproaches in which the Emperor Charles the Fifth indulged, respecting the uniform faithlessness of his ancient rival.[516] Much less can he pardon the cruel persecution which Francis allowed to be exercised against an unoffending part of his subjects, less from zeal for the tenets of the church whose cause he espoused than from a selfish fear lest his prerogative might be impaired.

His three sons.
Henry, Duke of Orleans.
Character of the new king.

Of the three sons of Francis, the dauphin and his youngest[Pg 259] brother, the Duke of Angoulême, had been snatched away by death during the lifetime of their father.[517] The Duke of Orleans, who now ascended the throne as Henry the Second, was not a favorite son.[518] More than once he had incurred his father's grave displeasure by insubordination. A mad frolic, in which the young prince undertook in sport to distribute the high offices of state, as if his father were already dead, and disclosed his intention to recall to power the monarch's disgraced courtiers, occasioned a serious breach. More important consequences might have flowed from the unfortunate incident, had not the youth and the giddy companions of his revel sought safety in temporary exile from court.[519] From his father Henry inherited great bodily vigor, and remarkable skill in all games of strength and agility. His frame, naturally well proportioned, was finely developed by exercise.[520] He was accounted the fleetest runner, and the most[Pg 260] graceful rider in France. He rarely suffered a day to pass without playing ball, not unfrequently after having hunted down a stag or two. In the more dangerous pastimes of mock combat and jousting he delighted to engage, to the no small alarm of all spectators.[521] Unfortunately, however, the intellectual and moral development of the young prince had by no means kept pace with the growth of his physical powers. The sluggishness of his dull and unready comprehension had, at an earlier date, been noticed by the Venetian Marino Cavalli, while, with a courtier's flattery, he likened him to those autumnal fruits that are more tardy in ripening, but are of better quality and last longer than the fruits of summer.[522] Although he had reached the age of twenty-eight years on the very day of his accession, he was still a child in all that respected the serious concerns of life and the duties of his elevated position. Averse to that careful deliberation which the public affairs demanded, and willing to be led by those who would think for him, it immediately became evident that he was destined to be the mere image of a king, while the powers of royalty were to be enjoyed by his trusted advisers and by those who could minister to his immoderate love of pleasure. The issue abundantly proved the truth of the assertion that his reign ought rather to be called the reign of Diana of Poitiers, of Montmorency, and of the Cardinal of Lorraine; of whom the last, it was said, had the king's conscience in his sleeve, and the first his body, as by some species of sorcery.[523][Pg 261]

Wotton's view of the French court.

Scarcely had Francis breathed his last when shrewd observers of the current of political influence were able to make up their minds pretty fully upon the favorites that were to rule under Henry's name. "The French king, straight after his father's death," wrote Dr. Wotton, "hath revoked the Constable to the court again; who is now in as great triumph (as men say) as ever he was, if it be not more.... Of the younger sort of those that are at the court already, these seem to be the chief favorites: Andelot, younger brother to Châtillon, and his brother, the Cardinal of Châtillon; the Duke of Guise's sons, in a manner all, but especially these: Monsieur d'Aumale [Francis, later Duke of Guise], the Bishop of Rheims [Cardinal Charles of Lorraine], and the Bishop of Troyes, who, as I hear say, are all three of the council. Monsieur d'Aumale is in very great favour ... but in greatest estimation and favour of all, as it appeareth hitherto, either of them of the older sort or of the younger sort, seemeth to be the said Bishop of Rheims, who had the chief ordering of the king's house, he being Dolphin; whom I could wish to be of as good judgment in matters of religion as I take the Cardinal du Bellay to be, but I hear he is not so, but very earnest in upholding the Romish blindness.... Of the dames, Madame la Grande Senechale seemeth to be highly esteemed."[524]

To gain a clear view of the various influences—at one time neutralizing each other, and thus tending to the protection of[Pg 262] the reformed doctrines and their professors, but much more frequently acting in concert, and tending to the suppression of those doctrines—it is necessary that we examine in some detail the position of Diana, of the Constable, and of the Guises.

Diana of Poitiers.
The king's infatuation.

Diana of Poitiers, daughter of Monsieur de St. Vallier, and widow of De Brezé, Grand Seneschal of Normandy, had in her youth been celebrated for her beauty, by which she had first captivated Francis the First, and afterward made Henry forget the claims of his Florentine bride upon his affections. But she was now a matron of forty-seven years of age, and the public wondered as they saw the undiminished devotion of the new monarch to a woman nearly a score of years older than himself. It is true that the courtier's pen of Brantôme ascribes to her all the freshness of youth even at the close of the reign of Henry the Second. His eulogium, however, is scarcely more worthy of credit than Homer's praise of the undiminished personal beauty of Helen, when, twenty years subsequently to the departure of the expedition to Troy, the Ithacan prince found her reigning again at Sparta. But of the influence which Diana possessed over Henry there could be no doubt. By the vulgar it was attributed to the use of charms and love-potions. The infatuation of the monarch knew no bounds. He loaded her with gifts; he entrusted her with the crown jewels;[525] he conferred upon her the dignity of a duchess of Valentinois. In her apartments he spent hours daily, in company with his most intimate courtiers. Through love for her he adopted her favorite colors, and took for his device the crescent, with the words, "Totum donec compleat orbem." The public edifices of his time, it is said, still bear testimony to this dishonorable attachment, in the initials or emblems of Henry and Diana sculptured together upon their façades; and the Venetian Soranzo, at a later period in Henry's reign, magnifying her influence upon every department of the administration, affirms, in particular, that the dispensation of ecclesiastical offices was in her hands.[526] It is not surprising that,[Pg 263] being of an avaricious character, she soon accumulated great wealth.

Constable Anne de Montmorency.
His cruelty.

Anne de Montmorency, one of the four marshals of France, grand-master of the palace, and constable, was among the most notable personages of the sixteenth century. Sprung from a family claiming descent from the first Frank that followed the example of Clovis in renouncing paganism, and bearing on its escutcheon the motto, "God defend the first Christian," he likewise arrogated the foremost rank in the nobility as the first baron of the kingdom. From his youth he was accustomed to association with royalty. Margaret of Navarre was his early friend, and at a later period had occasion to complain of his ingratitude. He was at this time fifty-five years of age, severe, stern, fond of arms, complaisant to royalty, but harsh and overbearing in his relations with inferiors. Of his personal valor there can be no doubt, and he was generally regarded as the ablest general in France—an opinion, it is true, which his subsequent ill-success contributed much to shake.[527] But his martial glory was dimmed by his well-known avarice, his ignorance,[528] and a cruelty that often approached ferocity. Of this last trait a signal instance was afforded when Montmorency was sent, in the year after Henry's accession, to suppress a formidable revolt which had broken out in Guyenne, in consequence of a consider[Pg 264]able increase of the already burdensome impost upon salt. He haughtily refused to accept the keys of the city of Bordeaux tendered to him by the citizens on his approach. His artillery, he said, would serve him as well in gaining admission. The severity of the retribution meted out under his superintendence to those who had ventured to resist the royal authority was unparalleled in French history.[529] If the constable's ferocity did not diminish with age, it acquired a tinge of the ludicrous from his growing superstition. Never would he omit his devotions at the appointed hour, whether at home or in the field—"so conscientious was he." But he would interrupt the recital of his pater-nosters with such orders as the emergency might demand, or his inclination prompt: "Seize such a man! Hang that one to a tree! Run that fellow through at once with your pikes, or shoot him down before my eyes! Cut the knaves to pieces that have undertaken to hold that belfry against the king! Burn that village! Fire everything to the distance of a quarter of a league!" So terrible a reputation did his devotions consequently acquire, that it was a current saying: "Beware of the constable's pater-nosters!"[530]

His unpopularity.

In fact, Anne de Montmorency was ill-fitted to win popularity. A despatch of Sir John Mason, three years later, gives a glimpse of his relations with his fellow-courtiers. "There is a little square," he writes, "between the Duchess of Valentinois, who ruleth the roast, and the constable. A great many of the court wisheth the increase thereof. He is very ill-beloved, for that he is a hinderer of all men saving his own kinsfolks, whom he doth so advance as no man[Pg 265] may have anything by his will but they, and for that also he feedeth every man with fair words, and performeth nothing."[531]

Recalled from disgrace by Henry II.

For six years before the death of Francis the First the constable had been living in retirement upon his estates. The occasion of his banishment from court is stated, by one who enjoyed the best opportunities for learning the truth, to have been the advice which he had given the monarch to permit the Emperor Charles the Fifth to pass through his dominions when going to Netherlands to suppress the revolt of the burghers of Ghent.[532] Francis, indeed, is said on his deathbed to have warned his son against the dangers with which the ambition of the constable and of the family of Guise threatened his kingdom. But, as we have seen, Henry had no sooner received tidings of his father's death, than he at once summoned Montmorency to court, and resigned to him undisputed control of the affairs of state. The Venetian Dandolo, sent to congratulate the monarch upon his advent to the throne, felicitated the favorite on his merited resumption of his former rank and the honor of the "universal charge" which he held.[533] He was now all-powerful. The Duchess d'Étampes, mistress of the late king, to whose influence his disgrace was in part owing, for this and other offences was exiled from court and sent to the castle of her husband.[534] Admiral Annebaut and the Cardinal of Tournon were removed[Pg 266] from the head of the administration. The former, of whose sterling worth Francis entertained so high an appreciation that he had bequeathed to him the sum of 100,000 livres, was compelled to resign his place as Marshal of France in favor of a new favorite—Jacques d'Albon de St. André, of whom more particular mention must be made presently.[535]

The family of Guise.
Duke Claude.
The first Cardinal of Lorraine.

Francis is reported to have included the family of Guise with Constable Montmorency in the warning addressed to his son, and the story, received by the people as an undoubted truth, circulated in a poetical form for many years.[536] The Guises were of foreign extraction, and had but recently become residents of France. Claude, the fifth son of the Duke of Lorraine, at that time an independent state, came to the French court, in the early part of the sixteenth century, in quest of opportunities to advance his fortunes greater than were open to a younger member of the reigning family in his father's contracted dominions. Partly through the influence of Montmorency, partly in consequence of his marriage with Antoinette of Bourbon, a princess of royal blood, in some degree also by his own abilities, the young foreigner was rapidly advanced, from the comparatively insignificant position at first assigned him, to more important trusts. At length he became royal lieutenant of the provinces of Champagne and Burgundy, and his small domain of Guise was erected into a[Pg 267] duchy.[537] His younger brother John, who had entered the church as offering the most promising road to the attainment of his ambitious designs, had also come westward; and, proving to be a jovial companion whose presence imposed no restraint upon the license of a profligate court, he fared even better in securing ecclesiastical preferment than his brother in obtaining secular advantages.[538] In his favor Francis made use, in a manner lavish beyond precedent, of the right of nomination to benefices secured to the crown by the concordat. Even an age well accustomed to the abuse of the plurality of offices was amazed to see John of Lorraine at one and the same time Archbishop of Lyons, Rheims, and Narbonne, Bishop of Metz, Toul, Verdun, Therouenne, Luçon, Alby, and Valence, and Abbot of Gorze, Fécamp, Clugny, and Marmoutier.[539] To gratify the French monarch, Pope Leo the Tenth added to the dignity of the young ecclesiastic, by conferring upon him the Cardinal's hat a year or two before he had attained his majority.[540] Shrewd and plausible, the Cardinal of Lorraine, as he was henceforth called, contributed not a little to his brother's rapid advancement; and, as it was well understood that the rich benefices he held and the accumulation of his wealth would go, at his death, to enrich his nephews, he was treated with great deference by all the members of his brother's family.[Pg 268]

Marriage of James V. of Scotland to Mary of Lorraine.

An important era in the history of the Guises is marked by the marriage effected, in 1538, between James the Fifth of Scotland and Mary of Lorraine, the eldest daughter of Claude. This royal alliance secured for the Guises a predominant influence in North British affairs after the death of James. It brought them into close connection with the crown of France, when Mary, Queen of Scots, the fruit of this union, was affianced to the son of Henry the Second, the dauphin, afterward Francis the Second. It encouraged the adherents of this house to attribute to it an almost regal dignity, and to intimate more and more plainly its claim upon the throne of France, as descended through the Dukes of Lorraine from Charlemagne—a title superior to that of the Valois, who could trace their origin to no higher source than the usurper Hugh Capet.

The duke's sons.
Francis of Guise.
Charles, Cardinal of Guise, and afterward of Lorraine.

But the second generation of the Guises was destined to exert, during the reign of Henry the Second, an influence more controlling than the brothers Claude and John had exerted during his father's reign. The six sons of Claude—all displaying the grasping disposition of the house from which they sprang, all aiming at the acquisition of position and wealth, each of them insatiable, yet never exhibiting a rivalry that might prove detrimental to their common expectations—throw into obscurity the surprising success of their father and uncle, by their own marvellous prosperity. Scarcely had a third part of Henry's reign gone by, before foreign ambassadors wrote home glowing accounts of the influence of the younger favorites. "The credit of the house of Guise in this court," said one, "passeth all others. For albeit the constable hath the outward administration of all things, being for that service such a man as hard it were to find the like, yet have they so much credit as he with whom he is constrained to sail, and many times to take that course that he liketh never a whit."[541] Francis, the eldest son, known until his father's death as the Count of Aumale, and afterward succeeding him as Duke of Guise, entered the inviting profession of arms. The second[Pg 269] son, Charles, chose the life of an ecclesiastic, and soon assumed with respect to his brothers a commanding position similar to that which John had occupied. At an early age he had been elevated to the Archbishopric of Rheims, voluntarily ceded to him by his uncle. Henry, soon after his accession, obtained from the pontiff a place in the consistory for the young ecclesiastic, who then became known as the Cardinal of Guise, and, after his uncle's death, in 1550, as Cardinal of Lorraine. The four younger brothers respectively figured in subsequent years as the Duke of Aumale, the Cardinal of Guise, the Marquis of Elbeuf, and the Grand Prior of France.[542]

Character of Francis.

Francis of Guise, although but twenty-eight years of age, was already regarded as a brilliant general and an accomplished courtier. Vain and ostentatious, yet possessed of more real military ability than his unfortunate Italian campaign of 1556 would seem to indicate, he won laurels at Metz, at Calais, and at Thionville.[543] Outside of the pursuits of war he was grossly ignorant, and in all civil and religious matters he allowed himself to be governed by the advice of his brother Charles. Even the Protestants, whom he so deeply injured, would for the most part have acquiesced in the opinion of the cabinet minister, De l'Aubespine, that the Duke of Guise was a captain capable of rendering good service to his native land, had he not been hindered and infected by his brother's ambition. It is the same trustworthy authority who states that the duke was more than once induced to exclaim of his brother Charles: "That man in the end will ruin us."[544]

Various estimates of the second Cardinal of Lorraine.

The portraits of men who, for weal or woe, have exercised a[Pg 270] powerful influence upon their times, are frequently painted so differently by their advocates and by their opponents, that for him who would obtain an impartial view of their merits or defects it will prove a difficult task to discover any means of removing the discrepancies in the representations and attaining the truth. Fortunate must he esteem himself if he chance to find some contemporary, less directly interested in the events and persons described, to furnish him with the results of unbiassed observation. In the conflict of the Protestant and Roman Catholic writers of France respecting Charles, Cardinal of Lorraine, the "relations" of the Venetian ambassadors, devoted adherents of the Holy See, made to the doge and senate of their native state, and given under the seal of secrecy, must be esteemed a rich historical legacy. The cardinal's intellect, these envoys tell us, was wonderfully acute. He understood the point at which those who conversed with him were aiming when they had scarcely opened their mouth. His memory was more than usually retentive. He was well educated, and learned not only in Greek, Latin, and Italian, but in the sciences, and especially in theology. He had a rare gift of talking. In the fulfilment of his promises he was less famous. According to one ambassador, he had the reputation of rarely speaking the truth. Another styles him little truthful, and of a deceitful and avaricious disposition.[545] Both agree in representing him as covetous "beyond the avarice natural to the French, even employing dishonorable means to increase his wealth."[546] Both unite in extolling his administra[Pg 271]tive abilities. In observance of the precepts of the church he was exemplary. Yearly did he retire from court to spend the season of Lent on some one of his numerous possessions. In life, "so far as the outside is concerned," he observed the decorum appropriate to his rank, thus presenting a striking contrast to the other cardinals and prelates of the kingdom, who were "of a most licentious character." But he was vindictive, slow in rewarding services, and so violent that it was probable that no other event was so much desired in France as his death.[547] The scandalous stories related by Brantôme, which have generally been understood to apply to Cardinal Charles of Lorraine, really refer, as Ranke has observed,[548] to his uncle, the Cardinal John; but the abbé, who was certainly not unfriendly to the Guises, mingles praise and censure as equal ingredients in sketching the character of the former. If he was "very religious," after Brantôme's idea of religion, he was also esteemed a "great hypocrite," with whom religion served as a stepping-stone to greatness. If he was a "holy" man, he was "not too conscientious." If gracious and affable at times, it was only when something had gone wrong with him; for in prosperity no one was more overbearing.[549]

Such, according to writers of his own religion, was the churchman of whom, with Diana of Poitiers, the cabinet minister who knew both well wrote: "It were to be desired that this[Pg 272] woman and the cardinal had never been born; for they two alone have been the spark that kindled our misfortunes."[550] Pasquin well reflected the sentiments of the people when he altered the motto that accompanied the device of the cardinal—an ivy-clad pyramid—from "Te stante, virebo" to "Te virente, peribo."[551]

Rapacity of the new favorites.
Marshal Saint-André.
Servility toward Diana of Poitiers.

With a weak-minded prince, averse to anything except the gratification of his passions, and under the influence of such counsellors, France became almost of necessity a scene of rapacity beyond all precedent. The princes of the blood continued in their exclusion from official positions. Each of the new favorites was not only eager to obtain wealth for himself, but had a number of relations for whom provision must also be made. To the more prominent courtiers above enumerated was added Jacques d'Albon de Saint-André, son of Henry's tutor, who, from accidental intimacy with the king in childhood, was led to aspire to high dignities in the state, and was not long in obtaining a marshal's baton.[552] Herself securing not only the rank of Duchess of Valentinois, with the authority of a queen,[553] but the enormous revenues derived from the customary confirmation of offices at the beginning of a new reign, Diana permitted the constable, the Guises, and Saint-André to partake to a less degree in the spoils of the kingdom. A contemporary writer likens the brood of courtiers she gathered about her to swallows in pursuit[Pg 273] of flies on a summer's evening. Nothing escaped them—rank, dignity, bishopric, abbey, office, or other dainty morsel—all alike were eagerly devoured. Spies and salaried agents were posted in all parts of the kingdom to convey the earliest intelligence of the death of those who possessed any valuable benefices. Physicians in their employ at Paris sent in frequent bulletins of the health of sick men who enjoyed offices in church or state; nor were instances wanting in which, for the present of a thousand crowns, they were said to have hastened a wealthy patient's death. Even the king was unable to give as he wished, and sought to escape the importunity of his favorites by falsely assuring them that he had already made promises to others. Thus only could they be kept at bay.[554] The Guises and Montmorency, to render their power more secure, courted the favor of the king's mistress. The Cardinal of Lorraine, in particular, distinguished himself by the servility which he displayed. For two years he put himself to infinite trouble to be at the table of Diana.[555] After her elevation to the peerage, he addressed to her a letter, still extant, in which he assured her that henceforth his interest and hers were inseparable.[556] To give yet greater firmness to the bond uniting them, the Guises brought about a marriage between their third brother, the Duke of Aumale, and one of the daughters of the Duchess of Valentinois; while the Constable of Montmorency, at a later time, undertook to gain a similar advantage for his own family by causing his son to wed Diana, a natural daughter of the king.

Persecution to atone for moral blemishes.

It may at first sight appear somewhat incongruous that a king and court thus given up, the former to flagrant immorality, the[Pg 274] latter to the unbridled pursuit of riches and honors, should early have exhibited a disposition to carry forward in an aggravated form the system of persecution initiated in the previous reign. The secret of the apparent inconsistency may be found in the fact that the courtiers were not slow in perceiving, on the one hand, the almost incalculable gains which the confiscation of the goods of condemned heretics might be made to yield, and, on the other, the facility with which a monarch of a disposition naturally gentle and humane[557] could be persuaded to countenance the most barbarous cruelties, as the supposed means of atoning for the dissoluteness of his own life. The observance of the strict precepts of the moral law, they argued, was of less importance than the purity of the faith. The title of "Very Christian" had been borne by some of his predecessors whose private lives had been full of gallantries. His claim to it would be forfeited by the adoption of the stern principles of the reformers; while the Pontiff who conferred it would never venture to remove the honorable distinction, or refuse to unlock the gates of paradise to him who should prove himself an obedient son of the church and a persecutor of its enemies. To fulfil these conditions was the easier, as the persons upon whom were to be exercised the severities dictated by heaven, plotted revolutions and aspired to convert France into a republic, on the pattern of the cantons of Switzerland. Lending a willing ear to these suggestions, Henry the Second no sooner began to reign than he began to persecute.[558]

The "Chambre ardente."
Edict of Fontainebleau against books from Geneva.
Deceptive title-pages.

Toward the close of the reign of Francis, the prisons of Normandy had become so full of persons incarcerated for religion's sake, that a separate and special chamber had been instituted in the Parliament of Rouen, to give exclusive attention to the trial of such cases.[559] One of Henry's first acts was to establish a[Pg 275] similar chamber in the Parliament of Paris.[560] Judges selected with such a commission were not likely to incline to the side of mercy; and the chamber speedily earned for itself, by the numbers of victims it sent to the flames, the significant popular name of "la Chambre ardente."[561] The rapid propagation of the reformed doctrines by the press gave occasion to the publication of a new edict. The printing of any book containing matters pertaining to the Holy Scriptures was strictly forbidden. Equally prohibited was the sale of books brought from Geneva, Germany, or other foreign parts, without the approval of the Theological Faculty of Paris. All annotated copies of the Bible must contain the name of the author, and the publisher's name and address. Persons of all ranks were warned against retaining in their possession any condemned work.[562] But these restrictions had little effect in repressing the spread of the Reformation. If a severe blow was struck at the publishing trade in France, the dissemination of books printed abroad, and, frequently, with spurious title-pages,[563] was largely[Pg 276] increased. It now assumed, however, a more stealthy and cautious character.

Execution of Brugière.
The tailor of the Rue St. Antoine.

Blood flowed in every part of the kingdom. Not only the capital, but also the provinces furnished their constant witnesses to the truth of the "Lutheran" doctrines. The noted trial and execution of John Brugière revealed to the First President of Parliament the humiliating fact that the Reformation had gained a strong foothold in his native Auvergne.[564] At Paris, one Florence Venot was confined seven weeks in a cell upon the construction of which so much perverted ingenuity had been expended that the prisoner could neither lie down nor stand erect, and the hour of release from weary torture was waited for with ardent longing, even if it led to the stake.[565] But the death of a nameless tailor has, by the singularity of its incidents, acquired a celebrity surpassing that of any other martyrdom in the early part of this reign. In the midst of the tourneys and other festivities provided to signalize the occasion of the queen's coronation and his own solemn entry into Paris, the desire seized Henry to see with his own eyes and to interrogate one of the members of the sect to whose account such serious charges were laid. A poor tailor, arrested in his shop in the Rue St. Antoine, a few paces from the royal palace, for the crime of working on a day which the church had declared holy, was brought before him. So contemptible a dialectician could do little, it was presumed, to shake the faith of the Very Christian King. But the result disappointed the expectations of the cour[Pg 277]tiers and ecclesiastics that were present. The tailor answered with respectful boldness to the questions propounded by Châtellain, Bishop of Macon, a prelate once favorable to the Reformation. Hereupon Diana of Poitiers, an interested opponent, whose coffers were being filled with the goods of condemned heretics, undertook to silence him with the tongue of a witty woman. The tailor, who had patiently borne the ridicule and scorn with which he had hitherto been treated, turned upon the mistress of the king a look of solemn warning as he said: "Madam, let it suffice you to have infected France, without desiring to mingle your poison and filth with so holy and sacred a thing as the true religion of our Lord Jesus Christ." The courtiers were thunderstruck at the turn taken by a discussion to which they had flocked as to a scene of diversion, and the enraged king ordered the tailor's instant trial and punishment. He even desired with his own eyes to see him undergo the extreme penalty of the law. A solemn procession had been ordered to proceed from St. Paul's to Notre Dame. The prayers there offered for the destruction of heresy were followed by an "exemplary demonstration" of the king's pious disposition, in the execution of four "Lutherans" in as many different squares of the city.[566] In order the better to see the punishment inflicted upon the tailor of the Rue St. Antoine, Henry posted himself at a window that commanded the entire spectacle. But it was no coward's death that he beheld. Soon perceiving and recognizing the monarch before whom he had witnessed so good a profession, the tailor fixed his gaze upon him, nor would he avert his face, however much the king ordered that his position should be changed. Even in the midst of the flames he still continued to direct his dying glance toward the king, until the latter, abashed, was compelled to withdraw from the window. For days Henry declared that the spectre haunted his waking hours and drove sleep from his eyes at night; and he[Pg 278] affirmed with an oath that never again would he witness so horrible a scene.[567] Happy would it have been for his memory had he adhered, in the case of Anne du Bourg, to so wise a resolution!

Other victims of intolerance.

The ashes of one martyr were scarcely cold before new fires were kindled—now before the cathedral, now before some parish church, again in the crowded market or in the distant provincial town. At one time it was a widow that welcomed the rope that bound her, as the zone given her by a heavenly bridegroom in token of her approaching nuptials. A few years later, it was a nobleman who, when in view of his rank the sentence of the judges would have spared him the indignity of the halter which was placed around the neck of his companions, begged the executioner to make no exception in his case, saying: "Deny me not the collar of so excellent an order."[568]

Severe edicts and quarrels with Rome.
Edict of Châteaubriand, June 27, 1551.
War upon the books from Geneva.

The failure, however, of these fearful exhibitions to strike terror into the minds of the persecuted, or accomplish the end for which they were undertaken, is proved by their frequent recurrence, and not less by the new series of sanguinary laws running through the reign of Henry. An edict from Paris, on the nineteenth of November, 1549, endeavored to remove all excuse for remissness on the part of the prelates, by conferring on the ecclesiastical judges the unheard-of privilege of arresting for the crime of heresy, the exclusive right of passing judgment upon simple heresy, and conjoint jurisdiction with the civil courts in cases in which public scandal, riot, or sedition might be involved.[569] Less than two[Pg 279] years later, when Henry, uniting with Maurice of Saxony and Albert of Brandenburg, received the title of Defender of the Empire against Charles the Fifth, and was on the point of making war on Pope Julius the Third, he issued an edict forbidding his subjects, under severe penalties, from carrying gold or silver to Rome.[570] But, to convince the world of his orthodoxy, he chose the same time for the publication of a new and more truculent measure, known as the Edict of Châteaubriand (on the twenty-seventh of June, 1551), directed against the reformed.[571] This notable law reiterated the old complaint of the ill-success of previous efforts, and the statement of the impossibility of attaining the desired end save by diligent care and rigorous procedure. Its most striking peculiarity was that it committed the trial of heretics to the newly appointed "presidial" judges, whose sentence, when ten counsellors had been associated with them, was to be final.[572] Thus[Pg 280] was it contemplated to put an end to the vexatious delays by means of which the trial of many a reputed "Lutheran" had been protracted and not a few of the hated sect had in the end escaped. But the large number of additional articles exhibit in a singular manner the extent to which the doctrines of the Reformation had spread, the means of their diffusion, and the method by which it was hoped that they might be eradicated. Prominent among the provisions appear those that relate to the products of the press. Evidently the Cardinal of Lorraine and the other advisers of the king were of the same mind with the great advocate of unlicensed printing, when he said: "Books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a progeny of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are.... I know they are as lively and as vigorously productive as those fabulous dragon's teeth; and being sown up and down, may chance to spring up armed men."[573] The edict utterly prohibited the introduction of any books from Geneva and other places notoriously rebellious to the Holy See, the retention of condemned books by booksellers, and all clandestine printing. It instituted a semi-annual visitation of every typographical establishment, a clerical[Pg 281] examination of all packages from abroad, a special inspection thrice a year at the great fairs of Lyons, through which many suspected books found their way into the kingdom. The "porte-panier," or pedler, was forbidden to sell books at all, because many pedlers brought in books from Geneva under pretext of selling other merchandise. The bearers of letters from Geneva were to be arrested and punished. The goods and chattels of those who had fled to Geneva were to be confiscated. Informers were promised one-third of the property of the condemned. And lest the tongue should contaminate those whom the printed volume might not reach, all unlettered persons were warned not even to discuss matters of faith, the sacraments, and the polity of the church, whether at the table, in the field, or in secret conventicle.[574]

The book-pedlers of Switzerland, etc.

It is clear that the "dragon's teeth" were beginning to spring up warriors full armed; but the sowing still went on. From Geneva, from Neufchâtel, from Strasbourg, and from other points, devoted men of ardent piety, and often of no little cultivation, entered France and cautiously sold or distributed the contents of the packs they carried. Often they penetrated far into the country. To such as were detected the penalty of the law was inexorably meted out. A pedler, after every bone of his body had been dislocated in the vain attempt to compel him to betray the names of those to whom he had sold his books, was burned at Paris in the midst of the applauding shouts of a great crowd of persons, who would have torn him to pieces had they been allowed.[575] The printers of French Switzerland willingly entrusted their publications to these faithful men, not without danger of the loss of their goods; and it was almost incredible how many men offered themselves to the extreme perils which threatened them.[576] The Edict of Châteaubriand, intended to destroy the rising intellectual and moral influence of Geneva, it must be noticed, had[Pg 282] the opposite effect; for nothing had up to this time so tended to collect the scattered Protestants of France in a city where, free from the temptation to conformity with the dominant religion, they received a training adapted to qualify them for usefulness in their native land.[577]

Marshal Vieilleville refuses to profit by confiscation.

Yet the publication of the Edict of Châteaubriand was the signal for the renewal of the severity of the persecution. Every day, says the historian De Thou, persons were burned at Paris on account of religion. Cardinal Tournon and Diana of Poitiers, he tells us, shared in the opprobrium of being the instigators of these atrocities. With the latter it was less fanaticism than a desire to augment the proceeds of the confiscation of the property of condemned heretics which she had lately secured for herself, and was employing to make up the ransom of her two sons-in-law, now prisoners of war.[578] Very few of the courtiers of Henry's court had a spark of the magnanimity that fired the breast of the Marshal de Vieilleville. The name of this nobleman had, unknown to him, been inserted in a royal patent giving to him and others, who desired to shield themselves behind his honorable name, the confiscated goods of all condemned usurers and Lutherans in Guyenne and five other provinces of Southern France. When the document was placed in his hands, and he was assured that it would yield to each of the six patentees twenty thousand crowns within four months, the marshal exclaimed: "And here we stand registered in the courts of parliament as devourers of the people!... Besides that, for twenty thousand crowns to incur individually the curses of a countless number of women and children that will die in the poor-house in consequence of the forfeiture of the lives and property of their husbands and fathers, by fair means or foul—this would be to[Pg 283] plunge ourselves into perdition at too cheap a rate!" So saying, Vieilleville drove his dagger through his own name in the patent, and others, through shame, following his example, the document was torn to pieces.[579]

The "Five Scholars of Lausanne."

Of the considerable number of those upon whom the "very rigorous procedures" laid down by the Edict of Châteaubriand were executed in almost all parts of France, according to the historian of the reformed churches,[580] the "Five Scholars of Lausanne" deserve particular mention. Natives of different points in France, these young men, with others, had enjoyed in the distinguished school instituted in the chief city of the Pays de Vaud, under the protection of the Bernese, the instructions of Theodore Beza and other prominent reformed theologians. Their names were: Martial Alba, a native of Montauban; Pierre Écrivain, of Boulogne, in Gascony; Bernard Seguin, of La Réolle, in Bazadois; Charles Favre, of Blanzac; and Pierre Navihères, of Limoges. A short time before Easter, 1552, these young men, who had reached different stages in their course of study,[581] conceived it to be their duty to return to their native land, whence the most pressing calls for additional laborers qualified to instruct others were daily coming to Switzerland. Their plan was cordially endorsed by Beza, before whom it was first laid by one of their number who had been an inmate of his home, and then by the Church of Lausanne; for it evidenced the purity and sincerity of their zeal. Provided with cordial letters from Lausanne, as well as from Geneva, through which they passed, they started each for his native city, intending to labor first of all for the conversion of their own kindred and neighbors. But a different field, and a shorter term of service than they had anticipated, were in store for them. At Lyons, having accepted the invitation of a fellow-traveller to visit him at his country-seat, they[Pg 284] were surprised on the first of May, 1552, by the provost and his guards, and, although they had committed no violation of the king's edicts by proclaiming the doctrines they believed, were hurried to the archiepiscopal prison, and confined in separate dungeons. From their prayers for divine assistance they were soon summoned to appear singly before the "official"—the ecclesiastical judge to whom the archbishop deputed his judicial functions.[582] The answers to the interrogatories, of which they transmitted to their friends a record, it has been truly said, put to shame the lukewarmness of our days by their courage, and amaze us by the presence of mind and the wonderful acquaintance with the Holy Scriptures they display.[583] He who will peruse them in the worm-eaten pages of the "Actiones Martyrum," in which their letters were collected by the pious zeal of a contemporary, cannot doubt the proficiency these youthful prisoners had attained, both in sacred and in human letters, at the feet of the renowned Beza. Their unanswerable defence, however, only secured their more speedy condemnation as heretics. On the thirteenth of May they were sentenced to the flames; but an appeal which they made from the sentence of the ecclesiastical judge, on the plea that it contravened the laws of France, secured delay until their case could be laid before parliament. Months elapsed. Tidings of the danger that overhung the young students of Lausanne reached Beza and Calvin, and called forth their warm sympathy.[584]

Unavailing intercessions.

The best efforts of Beza and Viret were put forth in their behalf. A long succession of attempts to secure their release on the part of the canton of Berne individually, and of the four Protestant cantons of Switzerland collectively, was the result. One letter to Henry received a highly encouraging reply. An embassy from Zurich, sent when the[Pg 285] king's word had not been kept, was haughtily informed that Henry expected the cantons to trouble him no further with the matter, and to avoid interfering with the domestic affairs of his country, as he himself abstained from intermeddling with theirs.[585] Subsequent letters and embassies to the monarch, intercessions with Cardinal de Tournon, Archbishop of Lyons, who would appear to have given assurances which he never intended to fulfil, and all the other steps dictated by Christian affection, were similarly fruitless. In fact, nothing protracted the term of the imprisonment of the "Five Scholars" but the need in which Henry felt himself to be of retaining the alliance and support of Berne. Yet when, as a final appeal, that powerful canton begged the life of its "stipendiaries" as a "purely royal and liberal gift, which it would esteem as great and precious as if his Majesty had presented it an inestimable sum of silver or gold," other political motives prevented him from yielding to its entreaties. The fear lest his compliance might furnish the emperor and Pope, against whom he was contending, with a handle for impugning his devotion to the church, was more powerful than his desire to conciliate the Bernese. The Parliament of Paris decreed that the death of the "Five" by fire should take place on the sixteenth of May, 1553, and the king refused to interpose his pardon.[586]

Their mission to France had not, however, been in vain. It is no hyperbole of the historian of the reformed churches, when he likens their cells to five pulpits, from which the Word of God resounded through the entire city and much farther.[587] The results of their heroic fortitude, and of the wide dissemination of copies of the confession of their Christian faith, were[Pg 286] easily traced in the conversion of many within and without the prison; while the memory of their joyful constancy on their way to the place of execution—which rather resembled a triumphal than an ignominious procession—and in the flames, was embalmed in the heart of many a spectator.[588]

Activity of the canton of Berne.

The Bernese were not discouraged by the ill-success of their intercessions. Three times in the early part of the succeeding year (1554) they begged, but with no better results, for the release of Paris Panier, a man learned in the civil law.[589] With equal earnestness they took the part of the persecuted reformers against the violence of their enemies on many successive occasions. It was all in vain. The libertine king, who saw no merit in the purity of life of the professors of the "new doctrines," and no mark of Antichrist in the profligacy of Paul the Third or of Julius the Third, but viewed with horror the permission granted by the latter to the faithful of Paris to eat eggs, butter and cheese during Lent,[590] maintained his more than papal orthodoxy, and stifled the promptings of a heart by nature not averse to pity.

Progress in Normandy.

More than three years had passed away since the publication[Pg 287] of the Edict of Châteaubriand, but none of the fruits which its authors had predicted were visible. The number of the reformed brought to trial, and especially of those condemned to the flames, gradually diminished, whilst it was notorious that the opponents of the dominant church were rapidly multiplying. In some provinces—in Normandy, for example—their placards were mysteriously posted on the walls, and their songs deriding the Franciscan monks were sung in the dark lanes of the cities. Once they had ventured to interrupt the discourse of a preacher on the topic of purgatory, by loud expressions of dissent; but when on the next day the subject was resumed, numbers of hearers left the church with cries of "au fol, au fol," and forced those who would have arrested them in the name of the Cardinal Archbishop of Rouen, to seek refuge from a shower of stones in an adjoining monastery.[591]

Proposal to establish the Spanish Inquisition.

The zealous friends of the church, as well as those who were enriched by confiscations, represented to the king that this state of things arose from the fact that the higher magistrates, themselves tainted with heresy, connived at its spread, and that the "presidial" judges abstained from employing the powers conferred by the edict, through fear of compromising themselves with the sovereign courts. Nor could ecclesiastical courts accomplish much, since the secular judges, to whom an appeal was open, found means to clear the guilty. They insisted that the only remedy was the introduction of the Inquisition in the form in which it had proved so efficacious in Spain and Italy. This, it was said, could be attained by taking away the appeal that had hitherto been allowed from the decisions of the church courts, and compelling the nearest secular court to enforce their sentences. It was, furthermore, proposed to confiscate, for the king's benefit, all the property of fugitives, disregarding the claims even of those who had purchased from them without collusion.[592][Pg 288]

Opposition of parliament.

In secret sessions held at the house of Bertrand, keeper of the seals, at which were present several of the presidents of parliament known to be least friendly to the Reformation, the necessary legislation was matured at the instance of the Cardinal of Lorraine.[593] But, when the edicts establishing the Spanish inquisition were submitted, by order of the king, to the Parliament of Paris, it soon became evident that not even the intrigues of the presidents who were favorable to them could secure their registration. In the hope of better success, the edicts were for the time withdrawn, and submitted, a few months later, to the part of parliament that held its sessions in summer,[594] accompanied by royal letters strictly enjoining their reception (lettres de jussion). Twice the gens du roi were heard in favor of the new system, pleading its necessity, the utility of enlarging the jurisdiction of the church courts, especially in the case of apostatizing monks and fanatical preachers, and the fact that parliament itself had testified that it was not averse to an inquisition—not only by recording the edicts of St. Louis and Philip the Fair, but also by two recent registrations of the powers of the Inquisitor of the Faith, Matthieu Ory.[595] After[Pg 289] many delays and a prolonged discussion, parliament decided by a large majority that it could not comply with the king's commands, and would indicate to his Majesty other means of eradicating heresy more consistent with the spirit of Christianity.[596]

The president, Séguier, and a counsellor (Adrien du Drac) were deputed to justify before the monarch the course taken by parliament. The royal court was at this time at Villers-Cotterets, not far from Soissons, and the commissioners were informed on their arrival that Henry, displeased and scandalized at the delays of parliament, had begun to suspect it of being badly advised respecting religion and the obedience due to the church. He had said "that, if twelve judges were necessary to try Lutherans, they could not be found among the members of that body." The deputies were warned that they must expect to hear harsh words from the king's lips. Admitted, on the twenty-second of October, into Henry's presence, President Séguier delivered before the Duke of Guise, Constable Montmorency, Marshal St. André, and other dignitaries civil and ecclesiastical, an address full of noble sentiments.[597]

Speech of President Séguier in opposition.

"Parliament," said Séguier, "consists of one hundred and sixty members, who, for ability and conscientious discharge of duty, cannot be matched. I know not any of the number to be alienated from the true faith. Indeed, no greater misfortune could befall the judicature, than that[Pg 290] the supreme court should forfeit the confidence of the monarch by whom its members were appointed. It is not from personal fear that we oppose the introduction of the Inquisition. An inquisition, when well administered, may not, perhaps, always be injurious. Yet Trajan, an excellent emperor, abolished it as against the early Christians, persecuted as the 'Lutherans' now are; and he preferred to depend upon the declarations of those who revealed themselves, rather than to foster the spread of the curse of informers and sow fear and distrust in families. But it is as magistrates that we dread, or rather abhor, the establishment of a bloody tribunal, before which denunciation takes the place of proof, where the accused is deprived of the natural means of defence, and where no judicial forms are observed. We allege nothing of which we cannot furnish recent examples. Many of those whom the agents of the Inquisition had condemned have appealed to parliament. In revising these procedures, we found them so full of absurdities and follies, that, if charity forbids our suspecting those who already discharge this function among us of dishonesty and malice, it permits and even bids us deplore their ignorance and presumption. Yet it is to such judges that you are asked, Sire, to deliver over your faithful subjects, bound hand and foot, by removing the resource of appeal."

Is it politic, the orator proceeded to ask, for the king to introduce an edict standing in direct contradiction to that by which he has given to his own courts exclusive jurisdiction in the trial of the laity and simple clerks, and thus initiate a conflict of laws? Or has the monarch—by whose authority, as supreme head of justice, the decisions of parliament are rendered, whose name stands at the beginning, and whose seal is affixed to the termination of every writ—the right to cut off an appeal to himself, which his subjects, by reason of their paying tribute, can justly claim in return? Rather let the sovereign remedy be applied. In order to put an end to heresy, let the pattern of the primitive church be observed, which was established not by sword or by fire, but which, on the contrary, resisted both sword and fire through long years of persecution. Yet it endured, and even grew, by the doctrine and exemplary life of[Pg 291] good prelates and pastors, residing in their charges. At present the prelates are non-residents, and the people hunger for the Word of God. Now, it is every man's duty to believe the Holy Scriptures, and to bear testimony to his belief by good works. Whoever refuses to believe them, and accuses others of being "Lutherans," is more of a heretic than the "Lutherans" themselves.[598] The remonstrance of parliament, said Séguier, in fine, is in the interest of the poor people and of the courtiers themselves, whom others more needy will seek to strip of their possessions by means of the Inquisition and a brace of false witnesses.[599]

The speech was listened to with attention by Henry, and its close was applauded by his courtiers, who appreciated the truth of the warning conveyed. Two days later the king informed the deputies that he had determined to take the matter into further consideration; and, after their return, not only Henry, but also Guise and Montmorency, sent letters to parliament in which the mission of Séguier and Du Drac was referred to in complimentary terms.[600]

Villegagnon sent with Protestant emigrants to Brazil.

While the influence of the royal court was exerted, in the manner just indicated, to obtain entrance for the Spanish Inquisition, two events occurred equally deserving our attention—an attempt at the colonization of the New World with emigrants of the reformed faith, and the organization of the first Protestant church in France. Through the countenance and under the patronage of an illustrious personage whose name will, from this time forward, frequently figure on these pages—Gaspard de Coligny, Admiral of France—a knight of Malta named Villegagnon, Vice-admiral of Brittany, obtained from Henry "two large ships of two hundred tons burthen," fully equipped and provided with the requisite armament, as well as a third vessel carrying provi[Pg 292]sions.[601] Having embarked with a large number of gentlemen, artisans, and sailors, and having lost some time by being driven back into port to refit after a storm, he at length set sail for America, and anchored in the bay of Rio de Janeiro on the thirteenth of November, 1555. Most of the colonists were adherents of the religion at this time violently persecuted in France; and it is said that Coligny's support had been gained for the enterprise by the promise, on the part of Villegagnon, that in America the reformed should find a safe asylum.[602]

Fort Coligny founded.

No sooner, therefore, had the small company effected a lodgment on a small and rocky islet, opposite the present city of Rio de Janeiro, than Villegagnon conferred on the fort he had erected the name of Coligny, and wrote to the admiral, as he did subsequently to Calvin, requesting[Pg 293] that pastors should be sent from Geneva.[603] The petition being granted, Pierre Richier and Guillaume Chartier were despatched—the first Protestant ministers to cross the Atlantic. They were received by the vice-admiral with extravagant demonstrations of joy. A church was instituted on the model of that of Geneva; and Villegagnon recognized the validity of its rites by partaking of the holy communion when for the first time administered, on the shores of the Western Continent, according to the reformed practice.

Villegagnon becomes an enemy to the Protestants,
and brings ruin to the expedition.

Before long, however, a complete revolution of sentiment and plan was disclosed. The pretext was an animated discussion touching the eucharist, between the Protestant pastors, on the one hand, and Villegagnon, supported by Jean Cointas, a former doctor of the Sorbonne, on the other.[604] The solicitations of the Cardinal of Lorraine, together with a keener appreciation of the danger of harboring the "new doctrines," may have been the cause.[605] Chartier was put out of the way by being sent back to Europe, ostensibly to consult Calvin. Richier and others were so roughly handled that they were glad to leave the island for the continent, and subsequently to return in a leaky vessel to their native land.[606] But the[Pg 294] infant enterprise had received a fatal blow. Nearly all the deceived Protestants carried home the tidings of their misfortunes, and deterred others from following their disastrous example. Three, remaining in Brazil, were thrown into the sea by Villegagnon's command. A few suffered martyrdom after the fall of the intended capital of "Antarctic France" into the hands of the Portuguese. As to Villegagnon himself, he returned to Europe the virulent enemy of Coligny, and turned his feeble pen to the refutation of Protestantism.[607]

The first Protestant church organized in Paris.

But if ruin overtook an enterprise from which French statesmen had looked for new power and wealth for their country, and the reformers had anticipated the rapid advance of their religion in the New World, the founding of the first Protestant church in Paris proved a more auspicious event. More than thirty years had Protestantism been gradually gaining ground; but, up to the year 1555, it had been wanting in organization. The tide of persecution had surged too violently over the evangelical Christians of the capital to permit them to think of instituting a church, with pastors and consistory, after the model furnished by the free city of Geneva, or of holding public worship at stated times and places, or of regularly administering the sacraments. "The martyrs," says a contemporary writer, "were, properly speaking, the only preachers."[608] But now, the courage of the Parisian Protestants rising with the increased severity of the cruel meas[Pg 295]ures devised against them, they were prepared to accept the idea of organizing themselves as an ecclesiastical community. To this a simple incident led the way. In the house of a nobleman named La Ferrière, a small body of Protestants met secretly for the reading of the Scriptures and for prayer. Their host had left his home in the province of Maine to enjoy, in the crowded capital, greater immunity from observation than he could enjoy in his native city, and to avoid the necessity of submitting his expected offspring to the rite of baptism as superstitiously observed in the Roman Catholic Church. On the birth of his child, he set before the little band of his fellow-believers his reluctance to countenance the corruptions of that church, and his inability to go elsewhere in search of a purer sacrament. He adjured them to meet his exigency and that of other parents, by the consecration of one of their own number as a minister. He denounced the anger of the Almighty if they suffered his child to die without a participation in the ordinance instituted by the Master whom they professed to serve. So earnest an appeal could not be resisted. After fasting and earnest prayer the choice was made (September, 1555). John le Maçon, surnamed La Rivière, was a youth of Angers, twenty-two years of age, who for religion's sake had forsaken home, wealth, and brilliant prospects of advancement. He had narrowly escaped the clutches of the magistrates, to whom his own father, in his anger, would have given him up. This person was now set apart as the first reformed minister of Paris. A brief constitution for the nascent church was adopted. A consistory of elders and deacons was established. In this simple manner were laid the foundations of a church destined to serve as the prototype of a multitude of others soon to arise in all parts of France.[609] It was not the least remarkable circumstance attending its origin, that it arose in the midst of the most hostile populace in France, and at a time when the introduction of a new and more odious form of inquisition was under serious consideration. Nor can the thoughtful student of history regard it in any other light than that of a Providential interposi[Pg 296]tion in its behalf, that for two years the infant church was protected from the fate of extermination that threatened it, by the rise of a fresh war between France and Spain—a war originating in the perfidy of the Pope and of Henry the Second, the two great enemies of the reformed doctrines in France—and terminating in a peace ignominious to the royal persecutor.

The example followed in the provinces.
The fagot still reigns.

The signal given by Paris was welcomed in the provinces. In rapid succession organized churches arose in Meaux, Angers, Poitiers, Bourges, Issoudun, Aubigny, Blois, Tours, Pau, and Troyes—all within the compass of two years.[610] The Protestants, thirsting for the preaching of the Word of God, turned their eyes toward Geneva, Neufchâtel, and Lausanne, and implored the gift of ministers qualified for the office of instruction. Hitherto the awakening of the intellect and heart long stupefied by superstition had been partial. Now it seemed to be general. Three months had scarcely elapsed since the foundation of the church at Paris, before it was asking of the Swiss reformers a second minister.[611] A month later, Angers already had a corps of three pastors. "Entreat the Lord," writes the eminent theologian who has left us these details, "to advance His kingdom, and to confirm with the spirit of faith and patience our brethren that are in the very jaws of the lion. Assuredly the tyrant will at length be compelled either to annihilate entire cities, or to concede someplace for the truth.[612]" Meanwhile the fires of per[Pg 297]secution blazed high in various parts of France, but produced no sensible impression on the growth of the Reformation.[613]

Henry II. breaks the truce of Vaucelles.
Cardinal Caraffa.

On the fifth of February, 1556, Henry concluded with Charles the Fifth, who had lately abdicated the imperial crown, and with Philip the Second, his son, the truce of Vaucelles, which either side swore to observe for the space of five years.[614] In the month of July of the same year Henry broke the truce and openly renewed hostilities. Paul the Fourth, the reigning pontiff, was the agent in bringing about this sudden change. The inducement held out to Henry was the prospect of the investiture of the duchy of Milan and the kingdom of Naples; and Paul readily agreed to absolve the French monarch from the oath which he had so solemnly taken only five months before. Constable Montmorency and his nephew, Admiral Coligny, opposed the act of perfidy; but it was advocated by the Duke of Guise, by the Cardinal of Lorraine, and by one whose seductive entreaties were more implicitly obeyed than those of all others—the dissolute Diana of[Pg 298] Poitiers.[615] And the negotiation had been intrusted to skilful hands.[616] Cardinal Caraffa, the pontiff's nephew, was surpassed in intrigue by no other member of the Sacred College. No conscientious scruples interfered with the discharge of his commission. For Caraffa was at heart an unbeliever. As his hand was reverently raised to pronounce upon the crowds gathered to witness his entry into Paris the customary benediction in the name of the triune God, and his lips were seen to move, there were those near his person, it is said, that caught the ribald words which were really uttered instead: "Let us deceive this people, since it wishes to be deceived."[617]

Fresh projects to introduce the Spanish Inquisition.
Henry's letter to the Pope.

It was fitting that to such a legate should be committed the task of making a fresh effort to introduce the Spanish Inquisition into France. The Cardinal of Lorraine had been absent in Italy the year before, when the first attempt failed through the resolute resistance of parliament. He was now present to lend his active co-operation. Yet with all his exertions the king could not silence the opposition of the judges,[618] and was finally induced to defer a third attempt until the year 1557, and to give a different form to the undertaking. In the month of February of this year, Henry[Pg 299] applied to the Pontiff, begging him to appoint, by Apostolic brief, a commission of cardinals or other prelates, who "might proceed to the introduction of the said inquisition in the lawful and accustomed form and manner, under the authority of the Apostolic See, and with the invocation of the secular arm and temporal jurisdiction." He promised, on his part, to give the matter his most lively attention, "since he desired nothing in this world so much as to see his people delivered from so dangerous a pestilence as this accursed heresy."[619] And he solicited the greatest expedition on the part of the Pope, for it was an affair that demanded diligence.

The papal bull.
The three inquisitors-general.
Odet, Cardinal of Châtillon.
His Protestant proclivities.

Paul, who was in the constant habit of saying that the inquisition was the sole weapon suited to the Holy See, the only battering-ram by means of which heresy could be demolished,[620] did not decline the royal invitation. On the twenty-sixth of April he published a bull appointing a commission consisting of the Cardinals of Lorraine, Bourbon, and Châtillon, with power to delegate their authority to others. Of the three prelates, the first was the real instigator of the cruelties practised during this and the subsequent reigns. The Cardinal of Bourbon was known to be as ignorant as he was inimical to the Reformation, and could be depended upon to support his colleague. The Cardinal of Châtillon, brother of Admiral Coligny and of D'Andelot, was added, it is not improbable, from motives of policy. He was already suspected of favoring the reformed doctrines, which subsequently he openly espoused. Indeed, nearly six years before, the English ambassador, Pickering, after alluding to new measures of persecution devised against the Protestants, wrote: "Cardinal Châtillon, as I hear, is a great aider of Lutherans, and hath been a great stay in this matter, which otherwise had been before now concluded, to the destruction of any man that[Pg 300] had almost spoken of God's Word. Nevertheless, the Protestants here fear that it cannot come to a much better end, where such a number of bishops and cardinals bear the swing."[621] Châtillon's enemies hoped, by placing him on this inquisitorial commission, where his vote would be powerless in opposition to that of the other two cardinals, to compel him either to enter the rank of persecutors, or declare himself openly for the Reformation, and thus destroy his own credit and that of his powerful family.[622]

The bull confirmed by Henry II.

The papal bull was promptly confirmed by the king, who, in a declaration given at Compiègne, on the twenty-fourth of July, 1557, permitted "his very dear cousins," the three cardinals, to exercise the office of inquisitors-general throughout the monarchy. From sentences given by their subalterns, this document permitted an appeal to be taken, but it was to a body appointed for the purpose by the inquisitors themselves.[623] Parliament, however, again interposed the prerogative it had assumed, of remonstrance and delay, and the king's declaration, as well as the papal bull, remained inoperative.[624]

Judicial sympathy with the victims.
Edict of Compiègne, July 24, 1557.

It is not surprising, perhaps, that the institution of the sacred office, with its bloody code and relentless tribunal, was pressed so repeatedly upon the French monarch and parliament for their acceptance. The number of the Protestants was not only increasing in a most alarming manner,[625] but the very judges before whom, when discovered, the Protestants were brought, began to show signs of compassion, if not of sympathy. So it happened that, in one provincial town, two persons caught with the packages of "Lutheran"[Pg 301] books they had brought into France, after they had made an explicit confession of their faith, were condemned, not to the flames, but to the trifling punishment of public whipping; and scarcely had the blows begun to fall upon the backs of the pedlers, when some of the magistrates themselves threw their cloaks around the culprits, whose confiscated books were afterward secretly returned to them, or bought and paid for.[626] To such a formidable height had this irregularity grown, that, on the very day upon which the confirmation of the three proposed inquisitors-general was made, Henry published a new edict (at Compiègne, on the twenty-fourth of July, 1557) intended to secure an adherence to the penalties prescribed by previous laws. The reader of this edict, remembering the frequency with which the estrapade had done its bloody work for the last quarter of a century, will not be astonished to read that the punishment of death is affixed to the secret or public profession of any other religion than the Roman Catholic. But he will rejoice, for the sake of our common humanity, to learn that "it very frequently happens that our said judges are moved with pity by the holy and malicious words of those found guilty of the said crimes;" and that, to secure the uniform infliction of the extreme penalty upon the professors of the reformed faith, it was now necessary for the king to remove from the judges the slightest pretext or authority for mitigating the sentence that condemned a Protestant to the flames or gallows.[627]

Defeat of St. Quentin, Aug. 10, 1557.

Under cover of the war during three years, Protestantism made rapid strides in France. But the contest itself was disastrous to its originators. The constable, having, when hostilities had once been undertaken contrary to his advice, been unwilling[Pg 302] to resign the chief command to which his office entitled him, assumed the defence of Paris from the north, while to his younger rival in arms, the Duke of Guise, was assigned the more brilliant part in the enterprise—the conquest of the kingdom of Naples. Montmorency's success, however, fell far short of the reputation he enjoyed for consummate generalship. Not only did he fail to relieve his nephews Coligny and D'Andelot, who had shut themselves up with a handful of men in the fortress of St. Quentin; but he himself (on the tenth of August, 1557) met with a signal defeat in which the flower of the French army was routed, and many of its leaders, including the constable himself, were taken prisoners.[628]

Rage against the "Lutherans."

The French capital was thrown into a paroxysm of fear on receipt of the intelligence. The road to Paris lay open to the victorious army. The king, not less than the people, expected to hear the Spaniards within a few brief days thundering at the very gates of the city. Charles the Fifth, from his retirement at Yuste, is said to have asked the courier with impatience, whether his son was already in Paris.[629] In the minds of the populace, disappointment and fear were mingled with rage against "the accursed sect of the Lutherans"—the reputed authors of all the public calamities. Every prediction which the priests had for a generation been ringing in the ears of the people seemed now to be in course of fulfilment. In the startling defeat of a large and well-appointed army of France, led by an experienced general, all eyes read tokens of the evident displeasure of the Almighty, not because of the ignorance and immorality of the people, or the bad doctrine and worse lives of its spiritual leaders, or the barbarous cruelty, the shameless impurity, and unexampled bad faith of the court; but because of the existence of heretics who[Pg 303] denied the authority of the Pope, and refused to bow down and worship the transubstantiated wafer. The popular anger was the more ready to kindle because the harsh measures of the government had confessedly failed of accomplishing their object, and because—to use the expressive language of the royal edict—the fire still burned beneath the ashes.[630] An incident which happened little more than a fortnight after the battle of St. Quentin disclosed the bitter fruits of the slanderous reports and violent teachings disseminated among the excitable inhabitants of Paris.

The affair of the Rue St. Jacques, Sept. 4, 1557.
Assault upon the worshippers.

The Protestants of the capital, far from rejoicing over the misfortunes of the kingdom, as their adversaries falsely asserted, met even more frequently than before to offer their united prayers in its behalf. On the evening of the fourth of September, 1557,[631] three or four hundred persons, of every rank of society, quietly repaired to a house in the Rue St. Jacques, almost under the very shadow of the Sorbonne, where the sacrament of the Lord's Supper was to be administered according to previous appointment. Their coming together had not been so noiseless, however, as to escape the attention of some priests, residing in the Collége du Plessis, on the other side of the way, whose suspicions had for some time been fixed upon the spot.[632] The reformed were not[Pg 304] disturbed during the exercise of their worship. But when, toward midnight, they prepared to return to their homes, the fury of their enemies discharged upon them the full force of its pent-up energies. A fanatical crowd blocked the street or filled the opposite windows, ready to overwhelm with a shower of stones and missiles of all descriptions any that might leave the protection of the house. Continual accessions were made of those whom the cries of "Thieves!" "Robbers!" "Conspirators against the realm!" attracted to the place. The discovery of the fact that it was a company not of robbers, but of "Lutherans," only inflamed the rage of the new-comers. The cry was now for blood. Every avenue of escape was guarded, and bonfires lighted here and there dispelled the friendly darkness. Carts and wagons were drawn across the streets, and armed men occupied the street-corners, or, if too cowardly to expose themselves to any danger, stood ready at doors and windows to thrust the fugitives through with their pikes.

The assembled Protestants, awakened to their danger, at first expected a general massacre. But the exhortations of their pastors and elders gave them new courage. In the midst of the storm raging without, they betook themselves to prayer. At length the necessity was recognized of coming to a prompt decision. To await the coming of the civil authorities, for whom their enemies had sent, was to give themselves up to certain death. Nothing remained but to force their way out—a course recommended, we are told, by those who knew the cowardice of a Parisian mob. The men who were provided with swords were placed in the front rank, the unarmed followed in their wake. Again and again small companies issued into the street and faced the angry storm. Each successive company reached a safe refuge. In fact, of all that adopted the bolder course of action, only one person was knocked down and left upon the ground to be brutally murdered and suffer the most shameful[Pg 305] indignities. There were, however, many—one hundred and twenty or more women and children, with a few men—whom fear prevented from following the example of their companions. Around them the rabble, balked of the greater part of its expected victims, raged with increased fury. At one moment they presented themselves at the windows to the view of their enemies, in the vain hope that the sight of so much innocence and helplessness would secure compassion. When only blind hatred and malice were exhibited in return, they withdrew and quietly awaited the fate which they believed to be in store for them at the hands of the mob. From this they were delivered by the sudden arrival of Martine, the king's "procureur" belonging to the Châtelet, with a strong detachment of commissaries and sergeants.

With great difficulty restraining the impetuosity of the mob, the magistrate made on the very spot an examination into the services that had been held. The whole story was told him in simple terms. He found that, while the Protestants had been assembling, the Scriptures had for a long time been read in the French language. The minister had next offered prayer, the whole company kneeling upon the floor. He had afterward set forth the institution of the holy supper as given by St. Paul, had exhibited its true utility and how it ought to be approached, and had debarred from the communion all seditious, disobedient, impure, and other unworthy participants, forbidding them to come near to the sacred table. Then those who had been deemed to be in a fit frame to receive the sacrament had presented themselves, and received the bread and the wine from the hands of the ministers, with the words: "This is the communion of the body and blood of the Lord." Prayers had followed for the king and the prosperity of his kingdom, for all the poor in their affliction, and for the church in general. The services had closed with the singing of several psalms.

Treatment of the prisoners.

So clear a confession was amply sufficient to justify the arrest of the entire company. Men, women, and children were dragged at early dawn to the prison. But their escort was too small, or too indifferent, to afford protection from the insults and violence of the immense throng through the midst[Pg 306] of which they passed.[633] Not content with applying alike to men and to women the most opprobrious epithets, the rabble tore their clothing, covered them with mud and filth, and dealt many a blow—especially to those who from their long robes or age were suspected of being preachers.[634] Into these outrages no judicial investigation was ever instituted, so prevalent was the persuasion that the zeal of the people in defence of the established faith must not be too narrowly watched.

Malicious rumors.

The blame for these excesses must not, however, be laid exclusively to the account of the populace. There were rumors afloat that owed their origin to the deliberate and malicious invention of the better instructed, and that were firmly believed by the ignorant masses. The nocturnal meetings, to which the Protestants were driven by persecution, were represented as devoted to the most abominable orgies. The Protestants were accused of eating little children. It was boldly stated that a luxurious banquet was spread, and that at its conclusion the candles were extinguished, and a scene of the most indiscriminate lewdness ensued.[635] One of the judges of the tribunal of the Châtelet was found sufficiently pliant to declare, in contradiction to the unanimous testimony of the accused, that preparations for the repetition of similar crimes had been discovered in the rooms of the house in the rue St. Jacques, where the Protestants had been surprised. These infamous accusations even found their way[Pg 307] into print, and were disseminated far and wide by the priestly party.

Trials and executions.

While the poor prisoners were confined in the most loathsome cells—highwaymen and murderers being removed to better quarters to make room for Christians[636]—a judicial investigation was set on foot. The king himself expedited the trials.[637] Within little more than three weeks from the time of their apprehension, three Protestants were put to death (on the twenty-seventh of September). Both sexes and the extremes of youth and old age were represented in these victims. To one, a beautiful young lady of wealth and rank, barely twenty-three years old, the favor was granted of being strangled before her body was consigned to the flames. Yet even in her case the cruel executioner had not abstained from first applying a firebrand wantonly and indecently to different parts of her person.[638] Her companions were burned alive. One of them was an advocate in parliament; both were elders of the reformed church. Five days later a physician and a solicitor met the same fate, but endured greater sufferings, as the wind blew the flames from beneath them, prolonging their torture; and these[Pg 308] were quickly followed by two students at Paris, both of them from the southern part of the realm (on the twenty-third of October).[639]

Intercession of the Swiss cantons and others.
Calvin's interest.

Meanwhile the wretched prisoners were not deserted by their brethren. Their innocence of the dreadful crimes laid to their charge was maintained in pamphlets, which showed that these accusations were but repetitions of slanders invented by the heathen to overwhelm the early Christians. Their doctrinal orthodoxy was proved by citations from the early church fathers.[640] The Protestants of Paris found means to introduce a long remonstrance into the very chamber of the king. Unfortunately, it had as little influence upon him as similar productions had had with his predecessor. In Switzerland and in a portion of Germany the tidings made a deep impression. Less than two weeks after the blow had been struck at the small community of Parisian Protestants, Calvin wrote the first of a series of letters calculated to sustain their drooping courage, and suggested some of the wise ends Providence might have in view in permitting so severe a discipline.[641] Meantime he applied himself vigorously to arouse in their behalf an effective intervention. "My good brethren," he wrote to the people of Lausanne, "though all the rest should not suffice to move the hearts of those brethren to whom an appeal is made, yet this emergency admits of no delay. It can scarcely be but that, amid so many tortures, first[Pg 309] one and then another be involved in them, until the number of sufferers become an infinite one. In short, the whole kingdom will be in flames. The question no longer is how to satisfy the desire of the poor brethren, but, if we have a single spark of humanity within us, to succor them in such extremity.... Though money be not promptly obtained elsewhere, yet shall I make such efforts, should I be obliged to pledge my head and my feet, that it be forthcoming here."[642]

Beza, with his associates, Carmel, Farel, and Budé, at the same time, by Calvin's request, took active steps to induce the Protestant cantons and princes to intercede with Henry, and their exertions were not in vain.[643] It was the object of the reformers to enlist the intervention of those Protestant powers, in particular, whose alliance and assistance might be deemed indispensable by the French king in his present straits.[644] The four "evangelical" Swiss cantons, encouraged by the success of a recent mission in behalf of the Waldenses of Piedmont, sent to Paris a deputation, whose appearance was greeted by the Protestants with the utmost joy. The ambassadors, however, allowed themselves to be cajoled and deceived by the Cardinal of Lorraine, to whom they had the imprudence to intrust their petition. In reply to their address to the king, they were told (on the fifth of November), in the name of his Majesty, that he invited the confederates in future to trouble themselves no further with the internal affairs of his kingdom, especially in matters of religion, since he was resolved to follow in the steps of[Pg 310] his predecessors.[645] Discouraged by this rebuff, they did not even attempt to press the matter upon the king's notice, or by a personal interview endeavor to mitigate his anger against their brethren. It had been better never to have engaged in the intercession than support it so weakly.[646] The German princes could not be induced to give to the affair the consideration it merited; but a letter of the Count Palatine seems to have somewhat diminished the violence of the persecution.[647][Pg 311]

Constancy of most of the prisoners.

The constancy of the victims, by disconcerting the plans of their enemies, doubtless contributed much to the temporary lull. No one attracted in this respect greater attention than the most illustrious person among the prisoners—the daughter of the Seigneur de Rambouillet and wife of De Rentigny, standard-bearer of the Duke of Guise—who resolutely rejected the pardon, based on a renunciation of her faith, which her father and husband brought her from the king, and urged her with tears to accept.[648] Others, who, on account of their youth, were expected to be but poor advocates of their doctrinal views, proved more than a match for their examiners. The course was finally adopted of distributing the prisoners, about one hundred in number, in various monastic establishments, whose inmates might win them back to the Roman Catholic Church, whether by argument or by harsher means. The judges could thus rid themselves of the irksome task of lighting new fires, and the energies of the religious orders were put to some account. But the result hardly met the expectations formed. If a few Protestants obtained their liberty, and incurred the censures of their brethren, by unworthy confessions of principle,[649] many more were allowed to escape by the monks, who soon had reason to desire "that their cloisters might be purged of such pests, through fear lest the contagion should spread farther," and found it "burdensome to support without compensation so large a number of needy persons."[650]

Controversial pamphlets.

While the Protestants were thus demonstrating, by the fortitude with which they encountered severe suffering and even death, the sincerity of their convictions and the purity of their lives, their enemies were unremitting in exertions to aggravate the odium in which they were held by the people. An inquisitor and doctor of the Sorbonne, the notorious De Mouchy, or Demochares, as he called himself, wrote a pamphlet to prove them heretics by the decisions of the doctors.[Pg 312] A bishop found the signs of the true church in the bells at the sound of which the Catholics assembled, and marks of Antichrist in the pistols and arquebuses whose discharge was said to be the signal for the gathering of the heretics. A third controversialist went so far as to accuse the Protestants not only of impurity, but of denying the divinity of Christ, the immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the body, and even the existence of God.[651]

Capture of Calais, January, 1558.

Meanwhile, public affairs assumed a more encouraging aspect. Francis of Guise, recalled from Italy, where his ill-success had been the salvation of the poor Waldenses in their Alpine valleys,[652] had assumed command of a large force, consisting partly of the troops he had taken to Italy, partly of noblemen and gentlemen that flocked to his standard in answer to the king's summons for the defence of the French capital. With this army he succeeded in capturing, in the beginning of January, 1558, the city of Calais, for two hundred years an English possession.[653] The achievement was not a difficult one. The fortifications had been suffered to go to ruin, and the small garrison was utterly insufficient to resist the force unexpectedly sent against it.[654] But the success raised still higher the pride of the Guises.

Registry of the inquisition edict.
Antoine of Navarre, Condé, and other princes favor the Reformation.

The auspicious moment was seized by the Cardinal of Lorraine to induce Henry, on the ninth of January, to hold in parliament a lit de justice, and compel the court to register in his presence the obnoxious edict of the previous year, establishing the inquisition.[655] But the engine which had been esteemed both by Pope and king the only[Pg 313] sure means of repressing heresy, failed of its end. New churches arose; those that previously existed rapidly grew.[656] The Reformation, also, now, for the first time, was openly avowed by men of the first rank in the kingdom. Its opponents were filled with dismay upon beholding Antoine de Bourbon, King of Navarre, his brother Louis, Prince of Condé, and François d'Andelot, brother of Admiral Coligny, at the head of the hitherto despised "Lutherans." Antoine de Bourbon-Vendôme was, next to the reigning monarch and his children, the first prince of the blood. Since his marriage with Jeanne d'Albret—in consequence of which he became titular King of Navarre—he had resided for much of the time in the city of Pan, where his more illustrious son, Henry the Fourth, was born. Here he had attended the preaching of Protestant ministers. On his return to court, not long after the capture of Calais, he took the decided step of frequenting the gatherings of the Parisian Protestants. Subsequently he rescued a prominent minister—Antoine de Chandieu—from the Châtelet, in which he was imprisoned, by going in person and claiming him as a member of his household.[657] Well would it have been for France had the Navarrese king always displayed the same courage. Condé and D'Andelot were scarcely less valuable accessions to the ranks of the Protestants.

Embassy from the Protestant Electors of Germany.

Other causes contributed to delay the full execution of the plan of the Inquisition. A united embassy from the three Protestant Electors of Germany—the Count Palatine, the Duke of[Pg 314] Saxony, and the Marquis of Brandenburg—and from the Dukes of Deux Ponts and Wurtemberg, bearing a powerful appeal to Henry in behalf of his persecuted subjects, arrived in Paris.[658] Such noble and influential petitioners could not be dismissed—especially at a time when their assistance was indispensable—without a gracious reply;[659] and, in order that the German princes might not have occasion to accuse Henry of too flagrant bad faith, the persecution was allowed for a short time to abate.

Psalm-singing on the Pré aux Clercs.

An incident of an apparently trivial character, which happened at Paris not long after, proved very clearly that the severities inflicted on some of those connected with the meeting in the Rue St. Jacques had utterly failed of accomplishing their object. On the southern side of the Seine, opposite the Louvre, there stretched, just outside of the city walls, a large open space—the public grounds of the university, known as the Pré aux Clercs.[660] This spot was the favorite promenade of the higher classes of the Parisians. It happened that, on a certain afternoon in May,[661] a few voices in the crowd began to sing one of the psalms which Clément Marot and Théodore de Bèze had translated into French. At the sound the walks and games were forsaken. The tune was quickly caught up, and soon the vast concourse joining in the words, either through sympathy or through love of novelty, the curious were attracted from all quarters to listen to so strange an entertainment. For many successive evenings the same performance was repeated. The numbers increased, it was said, to five or six thousand. Many of the chief personages of the kingdom were to be seen among those who took part. The[Pg 315] King and Queen of Navarre were particularly noticed because of the pleasure they manifested. By the inmates of the neighboring College of the Sorbonne the demonstration was interpreted as an open avowal of heresy. The use of the French language in devotional singing was calculated to throw contempt upon the time-honored usage of performing divine service in the Latin tongue.[662] To the king, at this time absent from the city, the psalm-singing was represented as a beginning of sedition, which must be suppressed lest it should lead to the destruction at once of his faith and of his authority. Henry, too ready a listener to such suggestions, ordered the irregularity to cease; and the Protestant ministers and elders of Paris, desirous of giving an example of obedience to the civil power in things indifferent, enjoined on their members to desist from singing the psalms elsewhere than in their own homes.[663]

Conference of Cardinals Lorraine and Granvelle.

The visit of the Dowager Duchess of Lorraine, who was permitted to meet her son upon the borders of France, afforded a good opportunity for an informal discussion of the terms of the peace that was to put an end to a war of which both parties were equally tired. There, in the fortress of Peronne, the Cardinal of Lorraine held a conference with Antoine Perrenot, Cardinal of Granvelle; and a friendship was cemented between the former and the Spanish court[Pg 316] boding no good for the quiet of France or the stability of the throne.

D'Andelot, Coligny's younger brother, denounced.

Little was effected in the direction of peace. But Cardinal Lorraine received valuable hints touching the best method for humbling the enemies of his house. Of these no one was more formidable than D'Andelot, who had distinguished himself greatly in the war on the Flemish borders. This young nobleman, the Bishop of Arras affirmed, had been found, during the captivity from which he had recently escaped, to be infected with the contagion of the "new doctrines." Since his return to France, he had even ventured to send a heretical volume to console his brother, the admiral, in prison. The cardinal, jealous of the houses of Châtillon and Montmorency, promptly reported to the king the story of D'Andelot's defection from the faith. His brother, the Duke of Guise, loudly declared that, although he was ready to march to the siege of Thionville, he could entertain no hope of success if D'Andelot were suffered to accompany him, in command of the French infantry.[664]

D'Andelot in Brittany.

The sympathy of the younger Châtillon was daily becoming more openly avowed. On a recent visit to Brittany (April, 1558), he had taken with him Fleury and Loiseleur, Protestant ministers. For the first time, the westernmost province of France heard the doctrines preached a generation before in Meaux. The crowd of provincial nobles, flocking to pay their respects to D'Andelot and his wife, Claude de Rieux, heiress of vast estates in this region, were both surprised and gratified at enjoying the opportunity of listening to preachers whose voice had penetrated to almost every nook of France save this. So palpable were the effects, that D'Andelot's brief tour in Brittany furnished additional grounds for Henry's suspicions respecting the young nobleman's soundness in the faith.[665][Pg 317]

D'Andelot summoned to appear before the king.
His manly defence.

D'Andelot was summoned to appear before the king and clear himself of the charges preferred against him. Henry is said, indeed, to have sent previously D'Andelot's brother, the Cardinal of Châtillon, and his cousin, Marshal Montmorency, the constable's eldest son, to urge him to make a submissive and satisfactory explanation. But their exertions were futile. Henry began the conversation by reminding D'Andelot of the great intimacy he had always allowed him and the love he bore him. He told him that he had expected of him anything rather than a revolt from the religion of his prince and an adherence to new doctrines. And he announced as the principal points in his conduct which he condemned, that he had allowed the "Lutheran" views to be preached on his estates, that he had frequented the Pré aux Clercs, that he absented himself from the mass, and that he had sent "books from Geneva" to his brother, the admiral, in his captivity. D'Andelot replied with frankness and intrepidity. He professed gratitude for the many favors he had received from the monarch, a gratitude he had never tired of making known by perilling life and property in that prince's cause. But the doctrine he had caused to be preached was good and holy, and such as his forefathers had held. He denied having been at the Pré aux Clercs, but avowed his entire approval of the service of praise in which the multitude had there engaged. As for his absence from the mass, he thanked God for removing the veil of ignorance that once covered his eyes, and declared that, with the Almighty's favor, he would never again be present at its celebration. In fine, he begged Henry to regard his life and property as being entirely at the royal disposition, but to leave him a free conscience. The Cardinal of Lorraine, who alone of the courtiers was present, here interposed to warn the speaker of the bad way into which he had entered; but D'Andelot replied by appealing to the prelate's own conscience in testimony of the truth of the doctrines he had once favored, but now, from ambitious motives, persecuted.

Henry orders him to be imprisoned.
Embarrassment of the court.

Greatly displeased with so frank an avowal of sentiments that would have cost one less nobly connected his life, Henry[Pg 318] now pointed to the collar of the "Order of St. Michael" around D'Andelot's neck, and exclaimed: "I did not give you this order to be so employed; for you swore to attend mass and to follow my religion." "I knew not what it is to be a Christian," responded D'Andelot; "nor, had God then touched my heart as He now has, should I have accepted it on such a condition."[666] Unable any longer to endure the boldness of D'Andelot—who richly deserved the title he popularly bore, the fearless knight[667]—Henry angrily commanded him to leave his presence. The young man was arrested and taken by the archers of the guard to Meaux, whence he was subsequently removed to Melun.[668] The position of the court was, however, an embarrassing one. Henry manifested no desire to retain long as a prisoner, much less to bring to the estrapade, the nephew of the constable, and a warrior who had himself held the honorable post of Colonel-General of the French infantry, and was second to none in reputation for valor and skill. The most trifling concession would be sufficient to secure the scion of the powerful families of Châtillon and Montmorency. Even this concession, however, could not for a considerable time be gained. D'Andelot resisted every temptation, and his correspondence breathed the most uncompromising determination.

D'Andelot's constancy.
His temporary weakness.

In a long and admirable letter to Henry, it is true, he humbly asked pardon for the offence his words had given. And he begged the king to believe that, "save in the matter of obedience to God and of conscience," he would ever faithfully expose life and means to fulfil the royal commands. But he also reiterated his inability to attend the mass, and plainly denounced as blasphemy the approval of any other sacrifice than that made upon the Cross.[669] To the ministers of[Pg 319] Paris he wrote, expressing a resolution equally strong; and the letters of the latter, as well as of the great Genevese reformer, were well calculated to sustain his courage. But D'Andelot was not proof against the sophistries of Ruzé, a doctor of the Sorbonne and confessor of the king. Moved by the entreaties of his wife,[670] of his uncle the constable, and of his brother the Cardinal of Châtillon, he was induced, after two months of imprisonment, to consent to be present, but without taking any part, at a celebration of the mass. By the same priest D'Andelot sent a submissive message to the king, to which the bearer, we have reason to believe, attributed a meaning quite different from that which D'Andelot had intended to convey. The noble prisoner was at once released; but the voice of conscience, uniting with that of his faithful friends, soon led him to repent bitterly of his temporary, but scandalous weakness. From this time forward he resumes the character of the intrepid defender of the Protestant doctrines—a character of which he never again divests himself.[671][Pg 320]

The bloody decemvirate.
Anxiety for peace.

Meanwhile, Henry and his adviser, the Cardinal of Lorraine, who really little deserved the reproaches showered on them by the Pope, took steps to encounter the new assaults which the reformed doctrines were making on the established church in every quarter of the kingdom. If the Parliament of Paris[Pg 321] began to exhibit reluctance to shed more innocent blood, it was far otherwise with the decemvirate to whom the three cardinals had delegated their inquisitorial functions, and whose power was supreme.[672] But, to the prosecution of the work of exterminating heresy in France, the continuance of the war with Spain offered insurmountable obstacles. It diverted the attention of the government from the multiplication of "Lutheran" churches and communities. It hampered the court, by compelling it to mitigate its severities, in consequence of the importunate intercessions of its indispensable allies, the Protestant princes across the Rhine and the confederated cantons of Switzerland. Besides, the war had borne no fruit but disappointment. If Calais had been recovered, St. Quentin and other strongholds, which were the key to Paris, had been lost. The brilliant capture of Thionville (on the twenty-second of June, 1558) had been more than balanced by the disastrous rout of Marshal de Thermes at Gravelines (on the thirteenth of July).[673]

The almost uninterrupted hostilities of the last twelve years had not only exhausted the few thousand crowns which Henry had found in the treasury at his accession to the throne, but had reduced the French exchequer to as low an ebb as that of the Spanish king.[674] His antagonist was as anxious as Henry to reduce his expenditures, and obtain leisure for crushing heresy in the Low Countries and wherever else it had shown itself in[Pg 322] his vast dominions. Constable Montmorency, too, employed his powerful influence to secure a peace which would restore him liberty, and the place in the royal favor likely to be usurped by the Guises, if his absence from court were to last much longer. And Paul the Fourth was now as earnestly desirous of effecting a reconciliation between the contending monarchs—that they might unitedly engage in the holy work of persecution—as he had been a few years before to embroil them in war.[675]

The treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis, April 3, 1559.

The common desire for peace found expression in the appointment of plenipotentiaries, who met, about the middle of October, in the monastery of Cercamps, near Cambray. France was represented by Montmorency, the Cardinal of Lorraine, Marshal St. André, Morvilliers, Bishop of Orleans, and Claude de l'Aubespine, Secretary of State. The Duke of Alva, William of Orange, Ruy-Gomez de Silva, the Bishop of Arras, and Viglius appeared on the part of Philip. England and Savoy were also represented by their envoys. After preliminary discussions, the conference adjourned, to meet in February of the succeeding year at Cateau-Cambrésis.[676] Here, on the third of April, 1559, was concluded a treaty of peace that terminated the struggle for ascendancy in which France and Spain had been engaged, with brief intermissions, ever since the accession of Francis the First and Charles the Fifth.

So far as France was concerned, it was an inglorious close. By a single stroke of the pen Henry gave up nearly two hundred places that had been captured by the French from their enemies during the last thirty years. In return he received Ham, St. Quentin, and three other strongholds held by Philip on his northern frontier. All the fruits of many years of war and an infinite loss of life and treasure[677] were surrendered in an[Pg 323] instant for a paltry price. The Duke of Savoy recovered states which had long been incorporated in the French dominions. The jurisdictions of two parliaments of France became foreign territory. The inhabitants of Turin were left to forget the language they had begun to speak well. The King of Spain could now come to the very gates of Lyons, which before the peace had stood, as it were, in the middle of the kingdom, but was now turned into a border city.[678]

Sacrifice of French interests.

Such were the concessions Henry was willing to make for the purpose of obtaining peace abroad, that he might turn his arms against his own subjects. Philip, if equally zealous, was certainly too prudent to exhibit his eagerness so clearly to his opponent. The interests of France had been sacrificed to the bigotry of her monarch and the selfishness of his advisers. When the terms of the agreement were made known, they awakened in every true Frenchman's breast a feeling of shame and disgust.[679] Henry himself manifested embar[Pg 324]rassment when attempting to justify his course.[680] Abroad the improbable tidings were received with incredulity.[681]

Was there a secret treaty for the extermination of the Protestants?

The treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis contained but one article on the subject of religion—that which bound the monarchs of Spain and France to put forth their united exertions for securing a "holy universal council." But common report had it that the omission of more detailed reference to the subject lying so near to the heart of both kings was fully compensated by a secret treaty taken up exclusively with this subject.[682] That treaty was represented as developing a plan which contemplated nothing less than the entire and violent destruction of heresy by the united efforts of their Catholic and Very Christian Majesties. By a single concerted massacre of all dissidents, the whole of Europe was to be brought back to its allegiance to the see of St. Peter.[683] Unfortunately, the secret treaty, if it ever existed, has never come to light; nor have we the testimony of a single person who pretends to have seen it, or to be acquainted with its contents. Indeed, the circumstances of the case seem to render such a[Pg 325] united effort as the conjectural treaty supposes either Quixotic or superfluous—Quixotic, if the two monarchs, without the concurrence of the empire, whose crown had passed from Charles, not to his son Philip, but to his brother Ferdinand, should institute a scheme for a general crusade against the professors of the doctrines that had already gained a firm foothold in one-half of Germany, in Great Britain, and the Scandinavian lands of Northern Europe; superfluous, if it respected only the dominions of the high contracting powers. For the purpose of Henry was no less clearly and repeatedly proclaimed than that of Philip. No subject of either crown could ignore at whom the first blow would be struck, after the pressure of the foreign war had been removed.[684] Nor, in the execution of their plans, could either monarch imagine himself to stand in need of the assistance of his royal brother; for it was not an open war to be carried on, but as yet a struggle with persons, numerous without doubt, but, nevertheless, suspected rather than convicted of heresy, and discovered, for the most part, only by diligent search.

The Prince of Orange learns Henry's and Philip's designs.

But, if we have reason to think that the treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis was accompanied by no secret and formal stipulations having reference to a combined assault upon Protestantism, we at least know that the negotiations it occasioned gave rise to a singular disclosure of the policy of Philip the Second in the Netherlands—a policy which he deemed applicable to Christendom entire. Among the ambassadors of Philip and the hostages for the execution of the treaty was William of Orange, the future deliverer of the United Provinces. Henry, supposing that the nobleman to whom so honorable a trust had been committed enjoyed the[Pg 326] confidence of his master to an equal extent with the Duke of Alva, his colleague, imprudently broached the subject of the suppression of heresy. The prince wisely encouraged the misapprehension, in order to avoid incurring the contempt in which he would have been held had the discovery been made that Philip had not taken him into his confidence. Henry, waxing earnest on the theme, revealed the intention of Philip and Alva to establish in the Netherlands "a worse than Spanish Inquisition." Thus much the prince himself published to the world.[685] The learned President De Thou adds that Philip's subsequent design was to join his arms to those of France, to make a joint attack upon the "new sectaries."[686] This is not altogether impossible. But the plan was general and vague. Its execution was still in the distant future. Its details were probably but little elaborated. If, outside of the dominions of the two monarchs, any points of attack were proposed with distinctness, they were the free city of Strasbourg, the Canton of Berne with its dependency, the Pays de Vaud—but, above all, Geneva.

Danger menacing the city of Geneva.

That small republic, insignificant in size, but powerful through the influence of its teachers and the books with which its presses teemed, was the eyesore of Roman Catholic France. It was the home of French refugees for religion's sake; and the strictest laws could not check the stream of money that flowed thither for their support. It was the nursery of the reformed doctrines; and the death penalty was ineffectual to cut off intercourse, or to dam up the flood of Calvinistic books which it poured over the kingdom.[Pg 327]

Calvin himself and his friends momentarily expected the blow to fall upon their devoted heads.[687] But the same hand that so often in the eventful history of Geneva interposed in its behalf, by a signal occurrence warded off the stroke.

A joint expedition against Geneva proposed by Henry,
but declined by the Duke of Alva.

The apprehensions of the Genevese were well founded. In June, 1559, and but a few days before the date of Calvin's letter, Philip the Second made the offer to the French king, through the Duke of Alva, then in Paris, to aid him in exterminating the Protestants of France. Henry declined for the moment to avail himself of the assistance, which he regarded as unnecessary; but he sent the Constable Montmorency to propose that both monarchs should make a joint expedition against Geneva, and declared himself ready to employ all his forces in the pious undertaking. It may surprise us to learn that the prudent duke in turn rejected the crusade against the Protestant citadel. Even Philip and his equally bigoted agents could close their ears to the call to become the instruments in the extirpation of heresy. While they could see neither reason nor religion in the temporizing policy occasionally manifested by other Roman Catholic sovereigns in their dealings with Protestant subjects, Philip and Alva never suffered their hatred of schism to be so uncompromising as to interfere with what they considered a material interest of the state. Unfortunately for Philip, the quarrel of Geneva would inevitably be espoused by the Bernese and the inhabitants of the other Protestant cantons of Switzerland; and it was certainly undesirable to provoke the enmity of a powerful body of freemen, situated in dangerous proximity to the "Franche Comté"—the remnant of Burgundy still in Spanish hands. It was no less imprudent, in view of future contingencies, to render still more difficult the passage from his Catholic Majesty's dominions in Northern Italy to the Netherlands. So Alva, as he himself reports to his master, rejected the constable's proposition, contenting himself with a few empty[Pg 328] phrases respecting the great profit that would flow to the cause of God and of royalty from an exclusion of Roman Catholic subjects from that pestilent city on the shores of Lake Leman.[688]

Parliament suspected of heretical leanings.

Henry had deemed the progress of the reformed doctrines in France so formidable[689] as to dictate the necessity of making peace with Philip, even upon humiliating terms. But where should he begin the savage work for which he had made such sacrifices? His spiritual advisers pointed to the courts of justice, which they accused of being lukewarm, and even infected with heresy. For years they had been dwelling upon the same theme. In 1556 the Sorbonne had denounced the parliament itself as altogether heretical;[690] and, although Henry showed[Pg 329] some indignation at the suggestion, and sarcastically asked whether the theologians aspired to become the supreme judges of the kingdom, it was notorious, two years later, that they had succeeded in sowing in his breast a general distrust respecting the orthodoxy of the entire body.[691] Nor was the suspicion groundless. Chosen from among the most highly educated of French jurisconsults, belonging to a court upon which high prerogatives had been conferred, holding for life a post of enviable distinction, and regarded as the supreme guardians of law and equity, it was in accordance with the very nature of things that the counsellors of the Parisian parliament should so far participate in the progress of ideas in the sixteenth century as to begin to look with abhorrence upon the bloody task imposed on them by the royal edicts. Into what profession would liberal views gain an earlier admission than that of the appointed expositors of the rules of right?

Some recent occurrences not only seemed to demonstrate the fact that the principles of clemency had penetrated into the halls of parliament, but pointed out the very chamber which was most influenced by them. In the Tournelle, or criminal chamber of parliament—before which those accused of Protestantism most naturally came—under the presidency of Séguier,[692][Pg 330] the majority of the counsellors had recently conducted a trial of four youths, on a charge of "Lutheranism," in so skilful a manner as to avoid asking any question the answer to which might compromise the prisoners. And when the bigots insisted on propounding a crucial inquiry, and elicited a decided expression of Protestant sentiments, some of the judges showed unmistakable sympathy, and the chamber, to save appearances in some slight degree, condemned them to leave the country within a fortnight, instead of instantly confirming the sentence of death which had been pronounced against three of their number by the inferior courts.[693] Other "Christaudins" had been sent to their bishops for trial, although their guilt was patent to all.[694] In fine, the Cardinal of Lorraine laid to the account of parliament the spread of the new doctrines throughout France.[695]

The Mercuriale.

In order to discover the truth of the charges, a convocation of the members of all the chambers was ordered for the last Wednesday of April, Such a gathering for inquiry into the sentiments and morals of the judges was called, from the day of the week on which it was held, a Mercuriale.[696] The object of the convocation was announced by the[Pg 331] royal procureur-general, Bourdin, to be the establishment of an understanding between the "Grand' chambre" and the "Tournelle"—the former of which relentlessly condemned the "Lutherans" to the flames, while the latter, to the great scandal of justice, had let off several with simple banishment. The wily adversary of the "new doctrines," therefore, called upon the judges to express their opinions respecting the best method of effecting a return to uniformity. The snare was not laid in vain. For in the free declaration of sentiment, in which the members according to custom indulged, several judges were bold enough to call for the assembling of the Œcumenical Council promised by the lately ratified treaty of peace, as the sole method of extirpating error, and to propose meanwhile the suspension of the capital penalties ordained by the royal edicts.[697]

At his admission into parliament each judge had taken an oath to maintain inviolable secrecy in reference to the deliberations of the court. This was rightly supposed to relate in particular to the expressions of opinion before any formal decision. Nevertheless, the king was at once acquainted by the First President, Le Maistre, and by Minard, one of the presidents à mortier, with the entire proceedings of the Mercuriale. He was told that the "Lutheranism" of certain judges was now manifest. They had spoken in abominable terms of the mass, of the ecclesiastical ordinances, and of prevailing abuses. It would be the ruin of the church if such daring were suffered to pass by unrebuked.[698]

The representation of these enormities inflamed Henry's anger. His courtiers took good care not to suffer it to cool. What if, emboldened by impunity, the Protestants, of whose rapid growth in all parts of France such startling reports were brought to him, should attempt to carry out the plan that was talked of among them, and seize the opportunity of the wedding festivities solemnly to present to his Majesty, by the hands of one of the nobles, the confession of faith of their churches? What punishment of the audacious agent employed would remove[Pg 332] from the minds of the orthodox foreign princes present at court the sinister impression that heresy had struck deep root in the realm of the Very Christian King?[699]

Henry goes in person to listen to the deliberations, June 10, 1559.

If a candid gentleman of the bed-chamber, like Vieilleville, privately urged Henry to reject the advice of prelates in secular matters, and respectfully decline the assumption of the post of theologian or inquisitor-general of the faith, his remonstrances were overborne by the suggestions of Diana and the Guises, who hoped to reap a rich harvest from new confiscations.[700] The king was entreated to go in person to listen to the discussions in parliament. Early on the morning of the tenth of June, his chamber was visited by a host of ecclesiastics—among them four cardinals, two archbishops, two bishops, and several doctors of the Sorbonne, with De Mouchy, the inquisitor, at their head. They urged him to follow out their suggestion, and were so successful in overcoming his reluctance that, as a contemporary wrote, he thought himself consigned to perdition if he failed to go.[701][Pg 333]

Parliament meets in the Augustinian monastery.

The magnificent hall of the royal palace on the island of the "Cité," in which parliament was accustomed to meet, was in course of preparation for the festivities that were to accompany the marriages of Elizabeth, Henry's daughter, with Philip the Second of Spain, and of his only sister, Margaret, with the Duke of Savoy. Parliament was consequently sitting in the monastery of the Augustinian friars on the southern bank of the Seine.[702] Thither Henry proceeded in state with a retinue of noblemen, and accompanied by the archers of his body-guard. Taking his seat upon the elevated throne prepared for him, with the constable, the Guises, and the princes that had attended him, on his right and left, Henry made to the judges a short address indicative of his purpose to take advantage of the peace in order to labor for the re-establishment of the faith, and of his desire to obtain the advice of his supreme court.[703] When the king had concluded, Bertrand, Cardinal Archbishop of Sens and Keeper of the Seals, announced the command of his Majesty that the consideration of the religious questions undertaken in the Mercuriale should be resumed.

Fearlessness of the counsellors.
Anne du Bourg.

[Pg 335]

[Pg 334]

The counsellors could be in no doubt respecting the motives of this solemn and unusual audience; yet they entered upon the discussion with the utmost fearlessness.[704] Claude Viole boldly recommended the convocation of an œcumenical council. Du Faur declaimed against the flagrant abuses of the church. While admitting that the trouble of the kingdom arose from diversity in religion, he pointed out the necessity of a careful scrutiny into the true authors of those troubles, lest the accuser of others should himself be met with a retort similar to that of the ancient prophet to King Ahab—"It is thou that troublest Israel."[705] But Anne du Bourg, a nephew of a late Chancellor of France, and a learned and eloquent speaker, committed himself still further to the cause of liberty and truth. He gave thanks to Almighty God for having brought Henry to listen to the decision of so worthy a matter, and entreated the monarch to give it his attention, as the cause of our Lord Jesus Christ, which ought to be upheld by kings. He advocated a suspension of all persecution against those who were stigmatized as heretics, until the assembling of a council; and warned his hearers that it was a thing of no slight importance to condemn to death those who, in the midst of the flames, called on the name of the Saviour of men.[706] Another counsellor advocated the granting to all the "Lutherans" of the kingdom a term of six months, within which they might recant their errors, and at its close might withdraw from France. But there were others who recommended the employment of severe measures; and the first president recalled with approval the example of Philip Augustus, who, in one day, had burned six hundred heretics, and the fate of the Waldenses, suffocated in the houses and caves in which they had taken refuge.[707]

Henry is displeased, and orders the arrest of two of the counsellors.

At the conclusion of the deliberation, Henry summoned to him the noblemen who had accompanied him, and, after having consulted them, angrily declared his great displeasure at the discovery that many of his judges had departed from the faith, and his determination to inflict upon them an exemplary punishment. Then turning to Montmorency, he ordered him to arrest two of the counsellors that had spoken in his presence—Louis du Faur and Anne du Bourg. The constable at once obeyed, and gave them over into the custody of Gabriel, Count Montgomery, captain of the Scottish body-guard. Three other judges soon shared their rigorous imprisonment in the Bastile,[708] and as many more escaped only by flight. It was, however, with the boldness of Du Bourg that Henry was chiefly enraged. He swore that he would see him burned with his own eyes.[709]

The first National Synod, May, 1559.

But, whilst the enemies of the Reformation were devising new schemes of persecution, and were preparing to strike a blow at the more tolerant sentiments which had stolen into the breasts of the very judges of parliament, its friends took a step that was at once indicative of its progress and dictated by its necessities. A few days before Henry was persuaded to call for a continuation of the discussion commenced at the "Mercuriale"—on the twenty-sixth of May[710]—the first National Synod of the French Protestants convened in the city of Paris. It was a small assemblage in comparison with some others on the list of these national councils extending down for about a century, and its sessions were held with the utmost secrecy in a house in the Faubourg St. Germain. But it performed for French Protestantism the two important[Pg 336] services of giving an authoritative statement of its system of doctrine, and of establishing the principles of its form of government. The confession of faith was full and explicit, as well on the points in which the Protestant and the Roman churches agreed, as respecting the distinctive tenets of the reformed. The "diabolical imaginations" of Servetus were equally condemned with the gross abuses of monastic vows, pilgrimages, celibacy, auricular confession, and indulgences. The pure observance of the sacraments was established, as well against their corrupt and superstitious use in the papal church, as against the "fantastic sacramentarians" who rejected them entirely. Nor need we be surprised to find the warrant of magistrates to interfere in behalf of the truth formally recognized. The right of the individual conscience was a right for the most part ignored by thinking men on both sides during the sixteenth century—covered and hidden by the fallacious application of the principle of universal obligation to the inflexible law of right and of God. The lesson of liberty based upon order was learned only in the school of long and severe persecution. Even after thirty-seven or eight years of violent suffering, the Protestant church of France admitted as an article in her creed, that "God has placed the sword in the hand of magistrates to repress the sins committed not only against the second table of God's commandments, but also against the first!"[711]

Ecclesiastical discipline adopted.

The "Ecclesiastical Discipline" laid the foundation of the organization of the Protestants in France. Thoroughly democratic and representative in its character, it instituted, or rather recognized, a court—the consistory—in each particular congregation, with its popular element in the superintendents (surveillants) or elders, who sat with the pastors to adjudicate upon the inferior and local concerns of the members. It provided for the more direct participation of the people in the control of affairs by making the offices of elder and deacon elective, and not perpetual. It provided a court of[Pg 337] appeal in the provincial colloques or synods, to be held at least twice a year, in which each church was to be represented by its pastor and elder. Above all stood the National Synod, the ultimate ecclesiastical authority. The constitution strove to preclude the establishment of a hierarchy, by declaring all churches and ministers equal, and to secure correctness of teaching, not only by requiring the ministers to sign the confession, but by providing for the deposition of those who had lapsed from the faith.

Thus it was that, in the midst of a monarchy surpassed by none for its arbitrary and tyrannical administration, and not many hundred paces from the squares where for a generation the eyes of the public had been periodically feasted with the sight of human sacrifices offered up in the name of religion, the founders of the Huguenot church framed the plan of an ecclesiastical republic, in which the elements of popular representation and decisive authority in an ultimate tribunal, the embodiment of the judgment of the entire church, were perhaps more completely realized than they had ever before been since the times of the early Christians.[712] The few ministers that had met in an upper room, at the hazard of their lives, to vindicate the profession of faith of their persecuted co-religionists, and to sketch the plan of their churchly edifice, as noiselessly retraced their steps to the congregations committed to their charge. But they had planted the seed of a mighty tree which would stand the blasts of many a tempest—always buffeted by the winds, and bearing the scars of many a conflict with the elements—but proudly pre-eminent, and firm as the rock around which its sturdy roots were wound.

Marriages and festivities of the court.

Henry had sworn to behold with his own eyes the punishment of Anne du Bourg. But the grateful sight was not in store for him. From the Mercuriale and the persecution of[Pg 338] heretics he turned his attention to the celebration of the marriages which were to cement the indissoluble peace that had at length been concluded between the kingdoms of France and Spain. The most splendid preparations were made for the entertainment of the brilliant train of noblemen who came to represent the dignity of the crown of Spain, and to claim the destined bride of Philip. The "Hôtel des Tournelles"—a favorite palace of more than one king of France—was magnificently decorated; for in its great hall the nuptials were appointed to be celebrated. In the broad street of Saint Antoine, in front of this palace, the lists were erected, and the beauty and nobility of France viewed, from the windows on either side, the contest of the most distinguished knights, and applauded their feats of daring and skill. A few paces farther, and just inside the moat, stood a frowning pile, whose sombre and repulsive front might have struck a beholder as being as much out of place as the skeleton at the feast—the ill-omened Bastile.[713] Five prisoners, immured for their conscientious boldness in its gloomy dungeons, and awaiting a terrible fate, distinctly heard, day after day, as the tourney continued, the inspiriting notes of the clarion and hautboy, deepening by contrast the horrors of their situation.[714] There was the same incongruity between the king's pursuit of pleasure and his ferocity. From the festivities, it is said, he turned aside to order Montgomery to proceed, the very moment the tourney was over, to the Pays de Caux—a hot-bed of the "Lutheran" heresy—to destroy with the sword the resisting, to put out the eyes of the suspected, and to torture and burn the guilty.[715] It was believed, moreover, that he himself would then proceed to the southern parts of France, and set on foot a rigorous persecution of the Protestants, with whom those regions swarmed.[716][Pg 339]

The nuptial torches burned not less bright for the gloom overhanging the despised and abominated Lutherans. But in an instant, as by the touch of a magician's wand, they were turned into the funereal tapers of Henry the Second.[717]

The tournament, June 30, 1559.
Henry mortally wounded by Montgomery's lance.
His death.

On the thirtieth of June,[718] when the sports of the day were about ending, the gay monarch must needs re-enter the lists in person, and break another lance in honor of Diana of Poitiers, whose colors he wore. The queen had indeed begged him to avoid, for that day at least, the dangerous pastime; she had been terrified, so she said, by one of those strangely vivid dreams that wear, after the event, so much of the guise of prophetic sight.[719] But Henry made light of her fears, and closed his ears to her warning. His choice of an antagonist fell upon Montgomery, captain of his Scottish archers; and although the latter begged leave to decline the perilous honor, the king refused to excuse him.[720] At the appointed signal, the knights rode rapidly to the rude encounter. But Henry's visor was not proof against the lance of[Pg 340] Montgomery, and either broke or was unclasped in the shock. The lance itself was splintered by the blow, and the piece which Montgomery, in his surprise and fright, had neglected instantly to lower, entering above the monarch's eye, penetrated far toward the brain.[721] Rescued from falling, but covered with blood, the wounded prince was hastily stripped of his armor, amid the loud lamentations of the horror-stricken spectators, and borne into the magnificent saloon of the Palais des Tournelles. Here, after lingering a few days, he died on the tenth of July.

It was a month, to the hour, since Henry's visit to parliament.[722]

The body was laid out in state in the very room appointed for the nuptial balls. A splendidly wrought tapestry representing the conversion of St. Paul hung near the remains, but the words, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" embroidered upon it, admitted too pointed an application, and the cloth was soon put out of sight.[723] The public, however, needed no such[Pg 341] pictorial reminder. The persecutor had been stopped as suddenly in his career of blood as the young Pharisee near Damascus. But it may be doubted whether the eyes with which he had sworn to see Anne du Bourg burned beheld such a vision of glory as blinded the future apostle's vision. It is more than probable, indeed, that Henry never spoke after receiving the fatal wound;[724] although the report obtained that, as he was carried from the unfortunate tilting-ground, he turned his bleeding face toward the prison in which the parliament counsellors were languishing, and expressed fear lest he had wronged them—a suggestion which the Cardinal of Lorraine hastened to answer by representing it as a temptation of the Prince of Evil.[725]

"La Façon de Genève"—the Huguenot service.

The charge of having prayed, or administered the sacrament of Baptism or of the Lord's Supper, or taken part in the celebration of Marriage, "according to the fashion of Geneva," so frequently appears in the documents of the[Pg 342] first century after the establishment of the Reformation in France as the chief offence of its early adherents and martyrs, that it is worth while to examine in some detail the model of worship that has exerted so important an influence upon the practice of the Huguenots and their descendants down to the present time.

While discarding the cumbrous ceremonial of the Roman Church, on the ground that it was not only overloaded with superfluous ornament, but too fatally disfigured by irrational, superstitious, or impious observances to be susceptible of correction or adaptation to the wants of their infant congregations, the founders of the reformed churches of the continent did not leave the inexperienced ministers to whose care these congregations were confided altogether without a guide in the conduct of divine worship. Esteeming a written account of the manner in which the public services were customarily performed to be the safest directory for the use of the young or ill-equipped, as well as the surest means of silencing the shameless calumnies of their malignant opponents, they early framed liturgies, not to be imposed as obligatory forms, but rather to serve an important end in securing an orderly conformity in the general arrangement followed in their churches.

Farel's "Manière et fasson," 1533.

The earliest of these liturgical compositions appears to have been a small and thin volume of eighty-seven pages, which, as we learn from the colophon, was "printed by Pierre de Wingle at Neufchâtel, on the twenty-ninth day of August in the year 1533;" that is to say, on the same press which, about a twelvemonth later, sent forth the famous "Placards" against the mass, and a year afterward the Protestant version of the Bible, translated into French by Olivetanus. It is entitled "La Manière et fasson qu'on tient ès lieux que Dieu de sa grace a visités." It was undoubtedly composed by Guillaume Farel, and, like all the other tracts of that vigorous and popular reformer, it has become extremely rare. Indeed, the work was altogether unknown until a single copy, the only one thus far discovered, was found by Professor Baum, of Strasbourg, in the Library of Zurich.[726]

What lends additional interest to the liturgy of Farel, is the circumstance that it is at the same time, as the modern editor remarks, "the earliest Confession of Faith of the Reformed Churches, their first apology in answer to the atrocious, absurd and lying accusations which the hatred of their enemies, especially among the clergy, had invented at will, or had borrowed from pagan calumnies against the Christians of the first centuries." "Do they not exclaim," writes Farel in his preface, "that those accursed dogs of heretics who would uphold this new law live like beasts, renouncing everything, maintaining neither law nor faith, abjuring all the sacraments; that[Pg 343] they reject Baptism, and make light of the Holy Table of our Lord; that they despise the Virgin Mary and the saints, and observe no marriage." To remove the prejudice thus engendered from the minds of the ignorant, is the chief design of the writer, who accordingly appeals at each step for his warrant to the Holy Scriptures, and entreats the reader to have no regard for the antiquity of the abuses he combats, or for the reputation of their advocates, but simply to examine for himself what "our good Saviour Jesus has instituted and commanded." The offices are five in number; for Baptism, Marriage, the Lord's Supper, Preaching, and the Visitation of the Sick; but to a certain extent, and particularly in the last-mentioned office, they are little more than a series of directions for the orderly conduct of worship. In other cases the service is very fully written out.

Calvin's liturgy, 1542.

Nine years after the publication of this very simple liturgy of Farel, appeared the first edition of the liturgy of Geneva, composed by Calvin, or the "Prayers after the fashion of Geneva," as they were usually designated by contemporary Roman Catholic writers. Until recently the first edition was supposed to have been published in 1543, but Professor Felix Bovet, of Neufchâtel, has been so fortunate as to find a copy in the Royal Library of Stuttgart, bearing the date of 1542. This is probably the solitary remaining specimen of the original impression.[727] Although without name of place, it was doubtless printed in Geneva. The title is: "La Forme des Prières et Chantz Ecclésiastiques, avec la Manière d'administrer les Sacremens et consacrer le Marriage, selon la coustume de l'Eglise Ancienne. M.DXLII."

The following brief sketch will perhaps convey a sufficient idea of the form "which is ordinarily used" for the public worship of the morning of the Lord's day.

A brief invocation ("Our help be in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth") is followed by an exhortation addressed to the congregation ("My brethren, let each one of you present himself before the face of the Lord with confession of his faults and sins, following in his heart my words"). The Confession, which is the most beautiful and characteristic part of the liturgy, comes next. Used by Théodore de Bèze and his companions at the Colloquy of Poissy, with wonderful impressiveness, as preparatory to that reformer's grand vindication of the creed of the Protestants of France, it has been imagined by many that it was composed by him for this occasion. But it had already constituted a part of the public devotions of the French and Swiss Protestants for eighteen or twenty years. A Psalm was then sung, and a prayer offered "to implore God for the grace of His Holy Spirit, to the end[Pg 344] that His Word may be faithfully expounded to the honor of His Name and the edification of the church, and may be received with such humility and obedience as are becoming." The form is "at the discretion of the minister." After the sermon comes a longer prayer for all persons in authority; for Christian pastors; for the enlightenment of the ignorant and the edification of those who have been brought to the truth; for the comfort of the afflicted and distressed;[728] closing with supplications for temporal and spiritual blessings in behalf of those present. The service was concluded by the form of benediction, Numbers, vi. 24-26.

Colladon, in his life of the reformer, tells us that Calvin "collected (recueillit), for the use of the church of Geneva, the form of ecclesiastical prayers, with the manner of administering the sacraments and celebrating marriage, and a notice for the visitation of the sick, as they are now placed with the Psalms." (Baum, Cunitz, and Reuss, vi., pp. xvii., xviii.) And Calvin himself, in his farewell address to his fellow-ministers (April 28, 1564), as taken down from memory by Pinaut, observed: "As to the prayers for Sunday, I took the form of Strasbourg, and borrowed the greater part of it." (Adieux de Calvin, Bonnet, Lettres françaises, ii. 578.) The Strasbourg liturgy to which Calvin here refers was one which he had himself composed for the use of the French refugee church of Strasbourg, when acting as its pastor, during his exile from Geneva (1538-1541). The earliest edition known to be extant is that of which a single copy exists in the collection of M. Gaiffe, and of which M. O. Douen has for the first time given an account in his "Clément Marot et le Psautier huguenot," Paris, 1878, i. 334-339. This Strasbourg liturgy of 1542 (the pseudo-Roman edition already referred to, p. 275), like that of 1545 (which Professors Baum, Cunitz, and Reuss described in their edition of Calvin's works, vi. 174, 175), contains some striking variations from the Geneva forms. In particular, immediately after the "Confession of Sins," it inserts these words: "Here the Minister recites some word of Scripture to comfort consciences, and then pronounces the absolution as follows:

"Let each one of you recognize himself to be truly a sinner, humbling himself before God, and believe that our Heavenly Father will be gracious unto him in Jesus Christ.

"To all those who thus repent and seek Jesus Christ for their salvation, I declare the absolution of their sins, in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."

It was this Strasbourg liturgy of Calvin that was in the hands of the framers of the English "Book of Common Prayer," and from this they derived the introductory portion of the daily service. "According to the first book of Edward VI., that service began with the Lord's Prayer. The foreign reformers consulted recommended the insertion of some preliminary forms;[Pg 345] and hence the origin of the Sentences, the Exhortation, the Confession, and the Absolution. These elements were borrowed, not from any ancient formulary, but from a ritual drawn up by Calvin for the church at Strasbourg." (C. W. Baird, Eutaxia, or the Presbyterian Liturgies: Historical Sketches, New York, 1855, p. 190.)

The origin of only one of the minor offices of the Geneva liturgy can be distinctly traced to another and older source. The form for the celebration of marriage is taken bodily from the "Manière et Fasson" of Farel, with the omission of two or three unimportant sentences, and the alteration of a very few words—a trifling change, dictated in each case by Calvin's keener literary taste. The form for baptism, Calvin tells us expressly, was somewhat roughly drafted by himself at Strasbourg, when the children of Anabaptists were brought to him for baptism from distances of five or ten leagues around. (Adieux de Calvin, Bonnet, ii. 578.)

The liturgy of Geneva, composed with rapidity under the pressure of the times, but with the skill and fine literary finish that are wont to characterize even the most hurried of Calvin's productions, has maintained its position undisputed to the present time, being the oldest of existing forms of worship in the reformed churches. The gradual change in the French language since the date of its composition has rendered necessary some modernizing of the style both of the prayers and of the accompanying psalms. These modifications, much more radical in the case of the metrical psalms, took place in the eighteenth century, and commended themselves so fully to the good sense of all French-speaking Protestants as soon to be everywhere adopted. The MS. records of the French church in New York (folio 45) contain, under date of March 6, 1763, a resolution unanimously adopted in a meeting of the heads of families and communicants, to change "la vielle version des Pseaumes de David qui est en uzage parmy nous, et de prandre et introduire dans notre Eglize les Pseaumes de la plus nouvelle version qui est en uzage dans les Eglises de Genève, Suisse et Hollande." The liturgy has always been printed at the end of the psalter, and the change of the one involved that of the other. It has been noted above that the "Confession of Sins" was the most characteristic part of Calvin's liturgy. In fact, the initial words of this confession, "Seigneur Dieu, Père Éternel et Toutpuissant," came to stand in the minds of the Roman Catholics who heard them for the entire Protestant service. Bernard Palissy accordingly tells us (Recepte Véritable, 1563, Bulletin, i. 93) that a favorite expression of the Roman Catholics from Taillebourg, when committing all sorts of excesses against the Protestants of Saintes, was: "Agimus a gagné Père Éternel!" As Agimus was the first word of the customary grace said at meals by devout Roman Catholics—"Agimus tibi gratias, omnipotens Deus," etc.—this apparently enigmatical expression was only a profane formula to celebrate the triumph of the Roman over the reformed church. See Bulletin, xii. 247 and 469.

[Pg 346]



The victims breathe more freely.
Epigrams on the death of Henry.

The plans carefully matured by Henry for the suppression of the reformed doctrines were disarranged by his sudden death. The expected victims of the Spanish Inquisition, which he was to have established in France, breathed more freely. It was not wonderful that the "Calvinists," according to an unfriendly historian, preached of the late monarch's fate as miraculous, and magnified it to their advantage;[729] for they saw in it an interposition of the Almighty in their behalf, as signal as any illustrating the Jewish annals. Epigrams of no little merit were composed on the event, and were widely circulated. One likened the lance of Montgomery to the stone from David's sling, which became "the unexpected salvation of the saints."[730] In another, Henry is the soldier who pierces the Crucified through the side of those whom He styles His members; but the impious weapon—such is Heaven's avenging decree—shall be stained with the murderer's own blood.[731] These verses, and others like them, obtaining great currency, offended the ears of the late king's favorites and of the devoted adherents of the Roman Catholic Church, who ceased not for years to pour forth lamentations over the un[Pg 347]timely death of Henry the Second, and the ill-starred peace with which it was so closely connected.[732]

The young king.

From the hands of a monarch in the prime of life, the sceptre had passed into those of a stripling of sixteen, who was unfortunately endowed neither with his grandfather's intellect nor with his father's vigor of body; but who inherited the enfeebled mental and physical constitution which was, perhaps, the result of the excesses of both. Although married to the beautiful Queen of Scots, some time before his father's reign came to its tragic conclusion, Francis the Second exhibited few of the instincts of a man and of a king, and showed himself to be even more of a minor in intelligence than in years. Content to leave the cares of government to his favorites, he sought only for repose and pleasure. Yet in this, as has been the case in more than one other instance, the most turbulent lot fell to him who would gladly have chosen quiet and sloth.

Fall of the constable's power.

With Henry's last breath, the supremacy of Constable Montmorency in the councils of state came to an end. In view of the minority of the successor to the throne, two measures were dictated by the customs of the realm—the appointment of the nearest prince of royal blood as regent, and the immediate convocation of the States General to confirm the selection, and to assign to the regent a competent council of state.[733] Unfortunately for the interests of France during the succeeding half-century, there were powerful personages interested in opposing this most natural and just arrangement, and there were specious excuses behind which their ambitious designs might shelter themselves. The Cardinal of Lorraine and the Duke of Guise, with the queen mother, maintained that Francis was in all respects competent to rule; that he had already passed the age at which previous kings had assumed the reins of government; that the laws had prescribed the time from which the majority of subjects, not of the mon[Pg 348]arch, should be reckoned;[734] that, if too young himself to bear the entire burden of the administration, he could delegate his authority to those of his own kin in whom he reposed implicit confidence. There was, therefore, no necessity for establishing a regency, still less for assembling the States General—an impolitic step even in the most quiet times, but fraught with special peril when grave dissensions threaten the kingdom.

Catharine de' Medici assumes an important part.

With the advent of her eldest son to the throne, Catharine de' Medici first assumed a prominent position, although not an all-controlling influence at court. During the reign of Francis the First she had enjoyed little consideration. Her marriage with Henry, in 1533, had given, as we have seen, little satisfaction to the people, who believed that her kinsman, Pope Clement the Seventh, had deceived the king; and Francis himself, disappointed in his ambitious designs by the pontiff's speedy death, looked upon her with little favor. For several years she had borne no children, and Henry was urged to put her away on the ground of barrenness. Nor was she more happy when her prayers had been answered, and a family of four sons and three daughters blessed her marriage. Her husband's infatuation respecting Diana of Poitiers embittered her life when dauphiness, and compelled her as queen to tolerate the presence of the king's mistress, and pay her an insincere respect. Excluded from all participation in the control of affairs, she fawned upon power where her ambitious nature would have sought to rule. Concealing her chagrin beneath an exterior of contentment, she exhibited, if we may believe the Venetian Soranzo, such benignity of disposition, especially to her own countrymen, that it would be impossible to convey an idea of the love entertained for her both by the court and by the entire kingdom.[735][Pg 349]

Her timidity and dissimulation.
She dismisses Diana of Poitiers.

Hypocrisy is the vice of timid natures. Such, we have the authority of a contemporary, and one who knew her well, for stating the nature of Catharine was.[736] In her, however, dissimulation was a well-known family trait, which she possessed in common with her kinsman, Pope Leo the Tenth, and all her house.[737] And it must be admitted that the idiosyncrasy had had a fair chance to develop during the five-and-twenty years she had spent in France, threatened with repudiation, contemned as an Italian upstart, suffering the gravest insult at the hands of her husband, but forced to dissemble, and to hide the pain his neglect gave her from the eyes of the curious world. Nor was her position altogether an easy one even now. It is true that her womanly revenge was gratified by the instant dismissal of the Duchess of Valentinois, who, if she retained the greater part of her ill-gotten wealth, owed it to the joint influence of Lorraine and Guise, whose younger brother, the Duke of Aumale, had married Diana's daughter.[738] But her ambitious plan, while securing the authority of her children, to rule herself, was likely to be frustrated by the pretensions of the two families of Montmoreney and Guise, raised by the late monarch to inordinate power in the state, and by the claim to the regency which Antoine of Bourbon-Vendôme, King of Navarre, might justly assert. To establish herself in opposition to all these, her sagacity taught her was impossible. To prevail by allying herself to the most powerful and those from whom she could extort the best terms seemed to be the most politic course. Her choice was quickly made. It was unfortunate for France that her prudence partook more of the character of low[Pg 350] cunning than of true wisdom, and that, in seeking a temporary ascendancy, she neglected the true interests of her own children and of the kingdom they inherited.

Her alliance with the Guises.

In order to prevent the convocation of the States and the appointment of the King of Navarre as regent, but one course appeared to be open to Catharine: she must throw herself into the arms of the Guises. Only thus could she become free from the odious dictation of the constable, under which she had groaned during her husband's reign. The Guises had had a narrow escape, it was said; for Henry the Second, having tardily discovered the insatiable ambition of the Lorraine family, had definitely made up his mind to banish them from court.[739] Now availing themselves of the great influence of their niece, Mary Stuart, over her royal husband, the duke and the cardinal prepared, by a bold stroke, to become masters of the administration, and made to Catharine such liberal offers of power that she readily acquiesced in their plans.

Of their formidable rivals, the King of Navarre was at a distance, in the south. The constable alone was dangerously near. But an immemorial custom furnished a convenient excuse for setting him aside. The body of the deceased monarch must lie in state for the forty days previous to its interment, under protection of a guard of honor selected from among his most trusty servants. Upon Montmorency, as grand master of the palace, devolved the chief care of his late Majesty's re[Pg 351]mains.[740] Delighted to have their principal rival so well occupied, the cardinal and the duke hastened from the Tournelles to secure the person of the living monarch.

The Guises make themselves masters of the king.

When the delegates of the parliaments of France came, a few days later, to congratulate Francis on his accession, and inquired to whom they should henceforth address themselves, the programme was already fully arranged. The king had been well drilled in his little speech. He had, he said, committed the direction of the state to the hands of his two uncles, and desired the same obedience to be shown to them as to himself.[741]

The court fool's sensible remark.

The Cardinal of Lorraine was intrusted with the civil administration and the finances. His brother became head of the department of war, without the title, but with the full powers, of constable.[742] Of royalty little was left Francis but the empty name.[743] There was sober truth lurking beneath the saucy remark of Brisquet, the court fool, who told Francis that in the time of his Majesty's father he used to put up at the "Crescent," but at present he lodged at the "Three Kings!"[744][Pg 352]

Montmorency retires to his own estates,

Montmorency did, indeed, attempt resistance to the assumption of absolute authority which the Guises thus appropriated rather than received from the young monarch. But he was equally unsuccessful in influencing Francis and the queen mother. The former, when the constable waited upon him in the Louvre, according to one story, scarcely deigned to look at him;[745] but, according to a more trustworthy account, received him with a show of cordiality, and assured him that he would maintain his sons and his nephews, the Châtillons, in the dignities they had attained under previous kings; at the same time, however, adding that, in compassion for the constable's age and long services, he had determined to relieve him of his onerous charges, and to give him full liberty to retire to his estates and obtain needful rest and diversion! Montmorency was too much of a courtier to be taken unawares, and promptly replied that he had come expressly to beg as a favor what the king so graciously offered him.[746] Catharine, to whom he next paid his respects, was less friendly, and, indeed, told him bluntly that, if she were to do her duty, he would lose his head for his insolence to her and her children.[747] Meantime Montmorency had fared no better in his negotiations with Antoine of Bourbon-Vendôme. The latter had not forgotten the little account made in the treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis of his wife's claim upon Spanish Navarre, and was indisposed to form a close alliance with the chief negotiator. He preferred, he said, to stand aloof from a movement intended only to ruin "his cousins of Guise."[748][Pg 353]

where he maintains almost regal magnificence.

The prudent old warrior, long since accustomed to the most startling vicissitudes, determined to bid adieu for a time to the royal court, and to retire to Chantilly, one of his paternal estates, where, in close proximity to the capital, he was accustomed to maintain an almost regal magnificence.[749] So powerful a nobleman, the representative of a family which, from its antiquity and neighboring greatness, was held in special esteem by the Parisians, among the wealthiest of whom it boasted of having two thousand persons its tenants,[750] could not safely be attacked. Accordingly, Montmorency, after having faithfully performed his duty as grand master, and deposited the remains of Henry in the abbey church of St. Denis, returned home with so numerous and powerful a retinue, that the king's appeared but small in comparison.[751]

Decided measures of the new favorites.

The power thus boldly seized by the cardinal and duke was energetically wielded. The partisans of the constable were at once removed from all offices of trust, and devoted adherents of the house of Lorraine were substituted. It was not difficult, if we may believe the historian of this reign, to bring the parliaments into similar subjection. The system of venality introduced by Cardinal Duprat had so corrupted the highest courts of justice that they had lost all traces of their former noble independence. The sons of usurers sat in places which had been occupied by the most distinguished jurisconsults of the kingdom, and so debased the administration[Pg 354] of law that, in the eye of a contemporary, parliament had become a den of robbers.[752] Marshal de St. André made proposals, which were accepted, to form an offensive and defensive alliance with the Guises, promising to give his only daughter in marriage to a member of that family, and to settle upon her the immense property which he had accumulated during the last reign by extortion and confiscations, retaining for himself only the life interest.[753] In order to rid the court of the princes of the blood, Condé was sent on a mission to Flanders, to confirm the peace, and the Prince of La-Roche-sur-Yon and the Cardinal of Bourbon were deputed to accompany Princess Elizabeth, Philip's bride, to the Spanish frontier.[754]

Antoine of Bourbon, King of Navarre.
His remissness and pusillanimity.
His desire to be indemnified for Navarre.

Meanwhile the eyes not only of the reformers, who had no more inveterate enemies than the Guises, but also of the friends of order, whatever their creed might be, were anxiously directed to Antoine, King of Navarre. His younger brother, Condé, his cousin, La Roche-sur-Yon, and other great nobles came to meet him at Vendôme, and set forth the disastrous consequences not only to them, but to their children and to the entire kingdom, that would certainly follow the base surrender of the government into the hands of foreigners.[755] Earnestly was he reminded of his undeniable claim to the regency, and entreated to dispossess the usurpers. Nor did the weak prince openly disregard the prayers of the ministers and people, who begged him to view his deliverance from so many perils as intended not merely to advance his own personal interests, but to secure the welfare of those whose tenets he had at heart espoused. But, where vigorous and instantaneous action was requisite, he exhibited only supineness and delay. His manly body contained a womanish soul.[756] His intimate coun[Pg 355]sellors were already in the secret pay of the Guises, and, in return for the large rewards promised,[757] disclosed every movement and plan of their master, while they gave him such advice as was calculated to render all his undertakings abortive.[758] When, after long hesitation, he at length left for St. Germain, he advanced slowly and by short stages, intimidated by the example of the treason of the Constable of Bourbon, in the reign of Francis the First, of the consequences of which the agents of his enemies did not fail frequently to remind him, and apprehensive of the intentions of Philip upon his small principality of Béarn.[759] It is true that at Poitiers, where he was waited upon by a large deputation of ministers from Paris, Orleans, Tours, and other principal cities, and urged, by renouncing the mass and openly espousing the cause of God, to fulfil the expectations of the persecuted faithful, he returned a favorable reply, and declared that, if he still conformed to an idolatry which he abhorred, it was in order not to lose the only means of being serviceable to them. The sturdy men, who admitted no compromises in matters of conscience, and had for years been exposing their bodies to the peril of the flames or gibbet, manfully replied that, if he would find God propitious, he must not endeavor to make his own terms with Him; and that his own experience of divine protection ought to prevent him from temporizing.[760] To Henry Killigrew, who came to meet him at Vendôme with a friendly message from Queen Elizabeth, he spoke with more definiteness and volunteered the expression of the most pious intentions. He declared "that he thought that God had hitherto preserved her Majesty from so many dangers for the setting forth of His word; and,[Pg 356] he trusted, had done the like by him, in having preserved him from many perils; and how desirous he was to set forth religion as much as was in him; which he wished might be for the quiet, and setting forth of God's glory through Christendom (which he minded for his part) and to the discouragement of such as should stand in contrary."[761] But the hopes which Antoine thus held forth were delusive. The trusty agent of the Guises had already notified them that, so far as he could learn, Navarre's principal desire was to be cordially received by the king and his council, in order that the Spanish visitors at Paris might carry home to their master so favorable a report that Philip, convinced that Antoine was no insignificant personage in France,[762] might condescend to indemnify him for the wrong he had done him![763]

Is received at court with studied discourtesy.
Antoine is deaf to remonstrance.

But if the King of Navarre expected to make any deep impression upon the subjects of Philip through the friendly reception which he thus solicited by the most craven abasement, his arrival at St. Germain-en-Laye speedily undeceived him. Francis, instead of meeting him on his approach, in accordance with the customary rules of royal courtesy, and entertaining him graciously as they rode side by side to the palace, was purposely taken in an opposite direction on a hunting excursion. Humiliated by this neglect, the adherents of Navarre were still more annoyed when they found that no chamber had been set apart in the castle for the first prince of the blood, to whom immemorial usage conceded the apartments next to those of the reigning monarch. But neither these insults, nor the contemptuous treatment he received at the hands of the courtiers, by whom he was compelled to make every advance, were sufficient to arouse the prince to any noble resolution.[764] To regain the kingdom of which, by his marriage with[Pg 357] Jeanne d'Albret, he had become the titular sovereign, was the great ambition of his life. This was impracticable without the support of the French court. He could not, therefore, afford to break with the all-powerful Guises. What were the prerogatives of the first prince of the blood in the administration of the French government, in comparison with the absolute sovereignty of the little kingdom on either slope of the Pyrenees? In vain did his faithful attendants remonstrate with him, and portray the path of honor as that of ultimate success and safety. Disgusted at his unmanly weakness, they returned crestfallen to their homes, or threw up his service for that of noblemen who, if ancient enemies, could at least prove themselves valuable and trustworthy patrons. The partisans of the Reformation, after waiting fruitlessly to hear a single word uttered in behalf of the churches, now everywhere rapidly multiplying, but still subjected to bitter persecution, disappointed, but full of faith in God, renounced their trust in princes, and awaited a deliverance, in Heaven's own time, from a higher source. Theodore Beza cited Navarre's shameful fall as a new and signal illustration of our Lord's own words: "A rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven!"[765]

Meets fresh indignities.
Philip offers Catharine assistance.
Antoine's appeals to Philip II.

But the abasement of this irresolute prince was not yet complete. Submitting to the open contempt in which he was held, he not only took part in the solemn ceremony of the new king's anointing at Rheims,[766] where his inferiors were preferred to[Pg 358] him, but attended the meetings of the royal council, where he was little wanted. At one of these sessions a fresh indignity was put upon him. Alarmed by the rising murmurs against the illegal rule of the Guises, Catharine had taken the first of a series of disgraceful steps, by invoking the intervention of a foreign prince in the affairs of France. She implored her royal son-in-law of Spain to lend her his support against the King of Navarre and other princes, who were desirous of "reducing her to the condition of a chambermaid," and of disturbing an otherwise peaceful country. Philip replied by an offer of his own assistance and of forty thousand men whom he professed to hold in readiness for a campaign against the rebels that meditated the overthrow of the French monarchy. The letter of his Catholic Majesty was purposely read in full council, in the hearing of Navarre. But, instead of arousing his indignation, it only excited new fears for the safety of his wife's dominions, and made him more submissively kiss the rod of iron with which the Guises ruled him.[767] Soon afterward he returned to Béarn, whence he made, before the close of the year, two ineffectual attempts to move the inflexible determination of Philip. In October he sent to the court of Spain Pierre, the Bastard of Navarre, who obtained the promise of an equivalent for Navarre, but was unable to secure any decided answer to his request for the island of Sardinia. But when, in December, Antoine despatched a second messenger, at the suggestion of the Duke of Albuquerque, to solicit permission for himself and Queen Jeanne to visit the King of Spain and "kiss his [Philip's] hand," with the view of obtaining such "an indemnity for his kingdom as some secret injunction of the emperor [Charles the Fifth], toward the end of his days, or his own conscience" might have suggested, the unfortunate prince discovered in how base and humiliating a manner he had been duped. It was not worth his while—such was the rude reply—for Antoine to expose his wife and himself to the fatigue of so[Pg 359] long a journey, since no other answer could be given him than that which had been given to his predecessors, and to himself on the occasion of the late treaty of peace.[768] Was it with the expectation of such rewards that the first prince of the blood had pusillanimously declined to assert the rights of his rank and family, and to espouse the cause of the persecuted?

The persecution continues.

For persecuted the Protestants continued to be. The death of Henry did not for an instant interrupt the work of searching for and punishing reputed heretics. The brief term must be improved, during which the Spaniards and other strangers who had come to witness the marriage festivities were still present, to fulfil the promises given to the Dukes of Alva and Savoy, and demonstrate the catholicity of the Very Christian King.[769] Three days after the fatal termination of Henry's wound in the tournament, the English ambassador wrote to his government: "In the midst of all these great matters and business, they here do not stay to make persecution and sacrifice of poor souls: for the twelfth of this present, two men and one woman were executed for religion; and the thirteenth of the same there was proclamation made by the sound of trumpet, that all such as should speak either against the church or the religion now used in France should be brought before the bishops of the dioceses, and they to do execution upon them."[770] On the fourteenth of July, only four days after Henry's death, new steps were taken to bring to trial the five counsellors of parliament arrested on the day of the famous "Mercuriale." An account of these proceedings, and in particular of those instituted against Anne du Bourg, will presently be given.

Denunciation and treachery at Paris.

The increase of the Protestants in France during the past few months had been great. Even in the capital the progress of[Pg 360] the new doctrines could not be hidden; but so carefully had the veil of secrecy been drawn over the conventicles, that, until a short time before Henry's death, the names and residences of the Parisian reformers had been almost entirely unknown to the argus-eyed clergy. But the treachery of one De Russanges—a goldsmith, who, for appropriating the charitable contributions of the church, had been deposed from the eldership—furnished to the enemy a complete list of the ministers, elders, and other principal men among the Protestants.[771] The information thus obtained was for a time left unimproved, in consequence of the sudden removal of the king; but the zeal of the chief persecutors had not cooled down. New and more stringent edicts were published, consigning to the flames, without form of process, all that made or attended conventicles. Liberal rewards were offered to stimulate denunciation. Domiciliary visits were enjoined upon the proper officers. Extraordinary powers were given to the "lieutenant-criminel" and a few of the counsellors of the Châtelet, known to be inimical to the "new doctrines," to act during the recess of parliament. It was even ordained by letters-patent of the king, that the very houses in which unlawful assemblages had taken place by night and the Lord's Supper had been profanely administered contrary to the rites of the Roman Catholic Church, should be razed to the ground, and never rebuilt, as a memorial for all time.[772] The church followed the example of the civil power. The parishes resounded with excommunications of all that failed to reveal the heretical sentiments of their acquaintance, and with exhortations to watchfulness.[773] Parliament itself had lent its authority to the inquisitorial work, by enjoining upon owners or occupants of houses in the city or suburbs "to make diligent inquiry as to the good and Christian[Pg 361] life" of such as lodged with them. In particular they were to inform against such as did not attend upon divine worship in the churches, especially upon feast-days.[774]

Other informers.
"La petite Genève" a scene of pillage.

Meanwhile, to De Russanges other informers were added. One was a weak and unstable man whom persecution had once before—in the famous year of the Placards—driven to the basest of offices. Among others two apprentices, brought forward to testify against the Protestant employers who had dismissed them, were pliant instruments in the hands of the heretic-hunters. By a well-concerted movement a simultaneous descent was made, and entire families were put under arrest.[775] In some places, however, an unexpected resistance was encountered. The guests of one Visconte, with whom travellers from Switzerland and Germany frequently lodged, supposed the house to be attacked by robbers, and defended themselves with such bravery against their assailants, that they effected their retreat in safety. Their host's wife and his aged father alone were taken into custody. A dressed capon and some uncooked meat found in the larder—it was on a Friday that the incursion was made—graced the triumph of the captors. "Little Geneva," as that portion of the Faubourg St. Germain-des-Prés most frequented by Protestants was familiarly called, became a scene of indiscriminate pillage. The valuables of those who, through fear, had absented themselves, were greedily appropriated by the officials of the Châtelet and other courts, or fell into the hands of an unorganized force of robbers who gleaned what the others had left behind. In a day the rich became poor and the poor became rich. The depredations extended to other parts of the city where the existence of heresy or wealth was suspected. Paris, we are told, resembled a city taken by assault. Everywhere armed men on foot or on horseback were leading to prison[Pg 362] men, women, and children of all ranks. The thoroughfares were clogged by wagons laden with furniture and other spoils. The street-corners were filled with plunder offered for sale. Never before, even when the inhabitants had fled panic-stricken from Paris in time of war, had the price of such commodities been so low. Numbers of little children, roaming the streets and ready to die of hunger, formed a pitiful accompaniment to the scene. But the tender mercies of the populace were cruel, and few dared to give a "Lutheran" shelter through fear of incurring extreme danger. The most incredible tales of midnight orgies were studiously circulated among the simple-minded people, and served to inflame yet more the lust of cruelty and gain.[776]

The Protestants appeal to the queen mother.
She gives them encouragement.

In this emergency the Protestants had recourse to the queen mother. Afraid to trust herself entirely to the Guises, the crafty Italian had, from the very commencement of the reign, sought to leave open a retreat in case a change should become necessary. And, in truth, jealousy of the cardinal and his brother, who seemed disposed to keep all the power in their own hands, while giving Catharine only a semblance of authority, was combined in her mind with hatred of Mary of Scots, their niece,[777] whose influence was as powerful with her son and as adverse to herself as that of Diana of Poitiers had been with her husband. Scarcely had the reformers perceived, by the zeal with which Du Bourg's trial was pressed, that the death of Henry had not bettered their condition, when they implored the Prince of Condé, his mother-in-law, Madame de Roye, and Admiral Coligny, to intercede in their behalf with Catharine. At the suggestion of the latter, they even addressed her a letter, in which they informed her of the great hopes they had in the preceding reign founded upon her kind and gentle[Pg 363] disposition, and the prayers they had offered to God that she might prove a second Esther. They entreated her to prevent the new reign from being defiled with innocent blood, and to avert the anger of Heaven, which could only be appeased by putting an end to persecution. The crafty queen, desirous of retaining an influence that might one day be of great service, and solicitous, at any rate, of obtaining their confidence, at first assumed an offended tone. "With what am I menaced?" she said. "For what greater evil could God do me than He has done, removing him whom I loved and prized the most?" But presently becoming more gracious, she promised the noble suppliants to cause the persecution to cease, if the Protestants would intermit their conventicles and live quietly and without scandal.[778] A private letter of remonstrance, written by a gentleman formerly in the service of Queen Margaret of Navarre, is said to have had some weight in extorting this pledge. He reminded her that her present evil advisers were the same persons who had, in the first years of her married life, been advocates of her repudiation; that then in her affliction she had recourse to God, whose word she had read, choosing as her favorite psalm the 141st, albeit not of Marot's translating.[779] Her prayers had been answered in the birth of her children. But the cardinal had banished the psalm-book from the palace, and introduced the immodest songs of Horace and other lewd poets; and from that time there had come upon her a succession of misfortunes. Finally, he begged her to drive away the usurpers of the place that rightfully belonged to the princes of royal blood, and to bring up her children after the example of good king Josiah.[780][Pg 364]

A second and more urgent address.

But the promises of Catharine were given only to be broken. Finding the atrocious persecution still in operation, and seeing themselves hunted in their houses, the Protestants again approached her. They denounced the anger of God who would not leave Du Bourg unavenged. They warned her of the danger that over-much oppression would breed revolt—not on the part of those who had embraced the reformed doctrines as taught in the Gospel, from whom she might expect all obedience—but from others, a hundred-fold more numerous, whose eyes were open to the abuses of the papacy, but who, not having submitted themselves to the discipline of the church, would not brook persecution. The embankment, it was to be feared, might give way to the violence of the pressure, and the pent-up waters pour themselves abroad, carrying devastation and ruin to all the neighboring lands.[781] The implied menace aroused the affected indignation of Catharine; but, loth to lose her hold upon the Protestants, she again professed her pity for a sect whose adherents went to the most cruel torments as cheerfully as to a wedding feast, and she expressed a desire to have an interview with one of their ministers. The Protestants did their part, but Catharine failed to keep the appointment; and all that the minister could effect was to convey to her a copy of the yet unpublished Confession of Faith of the French Churches, which, it is more than likely, she never read.[782]

Pretended orgies in "la petite Genève."

The insincerity of the queen mother's professions was by this time sufficiently apparent; yet the Protestants may be excused for applying, in their distress, to any one in power who made even a show of compassionate feelings. The outrages visited upon the inhabitants of "la petite Genève" were brought to her notice, and she deigned to inquire into their[Pg 365] occasion. But Charles of Lorraine had a ready mode of quieting her curiosity. Some verses found among the effects of the Protestants made mention of the death of Henry as an instance of the divine retribution. Other lines condemned Catharine for her excessive complaisance to the cardinal. These were first placed in her hands. Then the two apprentices, after having been well drilled in their lesson, were brought into her presence. It was a fearful tale they told, and much did it shock the ears of the virtuous Catharine. They pretended to describe orgies at which they had been present. In particular they remembered a conventicle of Protestants in the house of one Trouillas,[783] an advocate, held on Thursday of Holy Week. A great number of men and women, married and unmarried, had been present. The hour was about midnight. The sectaries had first listened to their preaching. Then a pig had been eaten in lieu of the paschal lamb. Finally the lamp had been extinguished, and indiscriminate lewdness followed.

The device succeeds.

The testimony of the boys—for such they were in years, if not in proficiency in vice—was enforced and embellished in the queen mother's hearing by the Cardinal of Lorraine. The trick had the desired effect. Believing, or feigning to believe, the improbable story, Catharine consented that the persecution of the "Christaudins" should proceed; while to some of her maids of honor, strongly suspected of leaning to the doctrines of the Reformation, she declared that she gave such full credit to this information, that, were she certain that they were Protestants, she would not hesitate, whatever favor or friendship she had hitherto borne them, to have them put to death. Fortunately, however, for the calumniated sect, there were among its adherents those who prized honor above life. Trouillas and his family, although among the number of those who had made good their escape, voluntarily returned and gave themselves into the hands of the civil authorities. When the latter would have put them on trial for their alleged heresy, they declined to answer to the charges on this point until the slanderous accusations affecting their personal morals had been[Pg 366] investigated. The examination not only completely vindicated their character and revealed the grossness of the imposture of which they were the innocent victims, but exhibited the unpleasant fact that an attempt had been made to corrupt witnesses by representing to them that, against such execrable wretches as the accursed "Lutherans," it was a meritorious act to allege even what was false.[784] It is perhaps superfluous to add that Trouillas, in spite of his manly and successful defence, was unable to secure the punishment of his accusers. In fact, while the latter remained at large, both he and his family were kept in prison, until liberated, without satisfaction for the insult received, upon the publication of the edict of amnesty of March, 1560.[785]

Cruelty of the populace.

It would be a task neither easy nor altogether agreeable to chronicle the executions of Protestants in various cities of the realm. "Never," wrote Hubert Languet, "have the papists raged so; never before was there a more cruel persecution. The prisons are full of wretched men. The woods and solitary places can scarce contain the fugitives."[786] The Parliaments of Toulouse and Aix, as usual, vied in ferocity with that of Paris, where the Guises had not long since restored the "chambre ardente."[787] But the populace of Paris surpassed the judges in envenomed hatred. Not content with applauding the slow roasting of those whom the courts had condemned to this torture, they sought to aggravate the barbarity of other sentences. In August, 1559, a young carpenter was taken from prison to suffer death for his heretical views. He was to have been strangled and then burned. The mob, however, resented the leniency, or were indignant that a pleas[Pg 367]ant show should lose one-half of its attraction. They therefore resolved to defraud the hangman of his share in the work, and suspended the youth, yet living, above the roaring flames.[788]

Traps for heretics.

An ingenious method was devised for the detection of the reformers. At almost every street-corner a picture or image of the Virgin Mary, or of some one of the saints, was set up, crowned with chaplets of flowers, and with waxen tapers burning in its honor. Around this object of devotion were collected at all hours a crowd of porters, water-carriers, and the very dregs of the populace, boisterously singing the praises of the saint. Woe to the unlucky wight who, purposely or through negligence, failed to doff his hat or drop a coin into the box placed in convenient proximity! He was an impious man, a heretic, and fortunate was it for him if he escaped with his life. To refuse to swell the collection of the monk or nun that came to a man's own door to solicit funds for the trial of the Protestants, was equally perilous. In short, it was no unfrequent device for a debtor to get rid of the importunity of his creditor by raising the cry, "Au Christaudin, an Luthérien!" It went hard with the former if he did not both free himself from debt and spoil his creditor.[789]

It is time, however, that we should turn to chronicle the fortunes of a more illustrious victim—the most illustrious victim, in fact, of the first period of French Protestantism.[Pg 368]

Trial of President Anne du Bourg.
His successive appeals.

Among the five counsellors of parliament arrested by Henry's orders at the "Mercuriale," as related in a previous chapter, Anne du Bourg had incurred his special displeasure by his fearless harangue, and with Du Bourg the trials began. A special commission was appointed for the purpose, consisting of President St. André, a maître de requêtes and two counsellors of parliament, Du Bellay, Bishop of Paris, and Demochares, Inquisitor of the Faith. Brought before it, Du Bourg refused to plead, asserting his prerogative to be judged only by the united chambers of parliament. Letters-patent were therefore obtained from Henry, ordering the prisoner to acknowledge the authority of the commission, under pain of being declared guilty of heresy and of treason. Upon the results of the interrogatories, the Bishop of Paris declared Du Bourg a heretic, ordering him to be degraded from those holy orders which he had assumed, and then delivered over to the secular arm. From this sentence Du Bourg appealed to parliament, on the ground that it was an abuse of ecclesiastical power.[790] The judges—among whom his most determined enemies, the Cardinal of Lorraine and Cardinal Bertrand (the latter as Keeper of the Seals) were not ashamed to take their seats—rejected his appeal, and declared that there had been no abuse.

From the sentence given by the Bishop of Paris, Du Bourg next appealed to the Archbishop of Sens, his superior; and when the latter had confirmed his suffragan's decision, Du Bourg again had recourse to parliament. He pleaded that it was a violation of the very spirit of the law that the same person, acting (as did Bertrand) as Archbishop of Sens, should adjudicate upon a case which he had already acted upon in the capacity of Keeper of the Seals and Chief Justice of France.

His officious advocate.

The counsel whom Chancellor Olivier, newly reinstated in his office by Francis the Second, assigned to Du Bourg, at his earnest request, put forth strenuous exertions to induce his client to recant. Failing in this, he extorted a promise not to interrupt him in the defence he was about to make. Thereupon the[Pg 369] officious advocate, after pleading, it is true, the injustice of the preceding trial, confessed his client's grievous spiritual errors, and desired, in his name, reconciliation with the church. The judges, glad to seize the opportunity of ridding themselves of a disagreeable case, promptly remanded the prisoner, and were about to depute two of their number to solicit the king's pardon in his behalf. At this moment a communication arrived, signed by Du Bourg, disavowing his counsel's admissions, persisting in his appeal and in the confession of his faith, which he was now ready to seal with his blood, and humbly begging the forgiveness of God for the cowardice of which he accused himself. It is needless to say that his appeal was rejected.

Du Bourg's message to the Protestants of Paris.

Again Du Bourg appealed from the Archbishop of Sens to the Archbishop of Lyons, "Primate of all the Gauls," and from his unfavorable decision to the parliament. Meanwhile he wrote to the Protestants of Paris, who watched his course with the deepest interest, recognizing the important influence which his firmness or his apostasy must exert on the interests of truth, and begged them not to be scandalized by a course that might appear to proceed from craven fear of death. If he thus had recourse to the judgments of the Pope's tools, he said, it was not through undue solicitude for life, nor because he in any wise approved their doctrine; but that he might have the better opportunity to make known his faith in as many places as possible, and prove that he had not precipitated his own destruction, by failing to make use of all legitimate means of acquittal. As for himself, he felt that he had been so strengthened by God's grace, that the day of his death was an object of desire, which he very joyfully awaited.[791][Pg 370]

Du Bourg in the Bastile.

At length the last appeal was rejected, and Du Bourg, under sentence of death, was remanded to the Bastile, to await the pleasure of the king. Many months had elapsed since his arrest, but his courage had risen with the trials he was called to face. To prevent any attempt to rescue him he had at one time been shut up in an iron cage, and the very passers-by had been forbidden to tarry and look up at the grim walls of the prison. But the captive was less solicitous to escape than his captors were to detain him. He resolutely declined to avail himself of a bull obtained for him from Rome by friends, through liberal payment of money, and opening the way for an appeal from the Primate of France to the Pope himself. The prison walls, it is said, resounded with the joyful psalms and hymns which he sang, to the accompaniment of the lute.[792]

Intercession of the Elector Palatine.
His pathetic speech.

A few days before Christmas the order was given for his execution. Two events determined the Cardinal of Lorraine: the assassination of President Minard, one of Du Bourg's judges, whose death was caused, doubtless, by the hand of one of the many whom he had wronged, although by some ascribed to the Protestants;[793] and the intercession of the Elector Palatine,[794] who by a special embassy had ex[Pg 371]pressed the desire to make Du Bourg a professor of law in his university at Heidelberg. Unwilling to expose himself to further importunities from abroad which he was resolved to discourage, the prelate gave the signal for the closing of the tragic scene. The sentence was announced to Du Bourg in his cell by the deputed judges. It was that he should forthwith be taken to the place of execution and suspended above the flames until life should be extinct. But the courage of Du Bourg did not fail him. When the counsellors had fulfilled their commission and were about to retire, the fettered prisoner detained them, and uttered a speech of exquisite pathos. It was the bewitching spirit of delusion, he said, the messenger of hell, the capital enemy of truth, that had accused him before them, because he had abandoned her. To that evil spirit had they too readily listened and condemned him and others like him, the children of the God of infinite mercy. It was in no sense disobedience to their prince that they refused to offer sacrifice to Baal. Was it disloyalty to be willing to give up to their sovereign everything, even to the last garment they possessed; to pray for the prosperity and peace of his realm, and that all superstition and idolatry might be banished from its borders; to entreat the Almighty to fill him and those under him in authority with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, that they might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing? Was it not rather disobedience to dishonor and anger God by impiety and blasphemy, and by transferring His glory to another?

He depicts the constancy of the victims.

The judges themselves were moved to tears as the prisoner pictured the fearful tortures which were daily inflicted upon the innocent Protestants at the bidding of that "red Phalaris," the Cardinal of Lorraine.[795] "Sufferings do not intimidate them," he said, "insults do not weaken[Pg 372] them, satisfying their honor by death. So that the proverb suits you well, gentlemen: the conqueror dies, and the vanquished laments.... No, no, none shall be able to separate us from Christ, whatever snares are laid for us, whatever ills our bodies may endure. We know that we have long been like lambs led to the slaughter. Let them, therefore, slay us, let them break us in pieces; for all that, the Lord's dead will not cease to live, and we shall rise in a common resurrection. I am a Christian, yes, I am a Christian. I will cry yet louder, when I die, for the glory of my Lord Jesus Christ! And since it is so, why do I tarry? Lay hands upon me, executioner, and lead me to the gallows." Then resuming his address to his judges, he protested at great length that he died at their hands only for his unwillingness to recognize other justification, grace, merit, intercession, satisfaction, or salvation than in Jesus Christ. "Put an end, put an end," he cried, "to your burnings, and return to the Lord with amendment of life, that your sins may be wiped away. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him. Live, then, and meditate upon this, O senators; and I go to die!"[796]

His death.

He was led under a strong guard to the Place de Grève. A vast concourse of people had assembled to witness the death of the illustrious victim. "My friends," he cried, as with assured countenance he prepared for the execution, "I am here not as a thief or a robber, but for the Gospel." The people listened with breathless interest to the harangue he made them from the scaffold. Then, before he died, he exclaimed again and again: "My God, forsake me not, that I may not forsake Thee!" The judges did him the favor of permitting him to be strangled before he was burned. Perhaps this was done that the story might be circulated that he had at the last moment recanted; but his refusal to kiss the crucifix which was offered him was a visible proof to the contrary.[797][Pg 373] Thus he died, displaying, according to a friendly historian,[798] "the most admirable constancy shown by any that have suffered for this cause."

His death a disastrous blow to the established church.
Account of an eye-witness.

Du Bourg's martyrdom was the most terrible blow the established church had ever received in France. Never had a more disastrous blunder been committed by the Guises, than when they stirred Henry to imprison and try, and Francis to execute, the most virtuous member of the Parisian senate. Such strength of principle in the midst of affliction, such fortitude upon the brink of death, had never been seen before. The witnesses of the execution never forgot the scene. Thousands who had never before wavered in their allegiance to the Roman Catholic Church, resolved that day to investigate the truth of the faith which had given him so signal a victory over death. "I remember," writes the most envenomed enemy of the Protestants that ever undertook to write their history, "when Anne Du Bourg, counsellor in the Parliament of Paris, was burned, that all Paris was astonished at the constancy of the man. As we returned to our colleges from the execution, we were melted in tears; and we pleaded his cause, after his death, anathematizing those unjust judges who had justly condemned him. His sermon at the gallows and upon the funeral pile did more harm than a hundred ministers could have done."[799]

He deplores the result.

But the martyrdom of Du Bourg was not a solitary case. The same consequences flowed from the public execution of[Pg 374] others, whose dying words and actions shook to its very foundations the fabric of superstition reared in many a spectator's heart. Florimond de Ræmond, himself an advocate of persecution in the abstract, noticed and deplored the inevitable result. "Meanwhile funeral piles were kindled in all directions. But as, on the one hand, the severity of justice and of the laws restrained the people in their duty, so the incredible obstinacy of those who were led to execution, and who suffered their lives to be taken from them rather than their opinions, amazed many. For who can abstain from wonder when simple women willingly undergo tortures in order to give a proof of their faith, and, while led to death, call upon Jesus Christ their Saviour, and sing psalms; when maidens hasten to the most excruciating torments with greater alacrity than to their nuptials; when men leap for joy at the terrible sight of the preparations for execution, and, half-burned, from the funeral pile mock the authors of their sufferings; when, with indomitable strength of courage and joyful countenance, they endure the lacerating of their bodies by means of heated pincers; when, in short, like an immovable rock, they receive and break all the billows of the most bitter sufferings at the hands of the executioner, and, like those who have eaten the Sardinian herb, die laughing? The lamentable sight of such incredible constancy as this created no little doubt in the minds not only of the simple, but of men of authority. For they could not believe that cause to be bad for which death was so willingly undergone. Others pitied the miserable, and burned with indignation against their persecutors. Whenever they beheld the blackened stakes with the chains attached—memorials of executions—they could not restrain their tears. The desire consequently seized many to read their books, and to become acquainted with the foundations of the faith from which it seemed impossible to tear them by the most refined tortures.... Why need I say more? The greater the number of those who were consigned to the flames, the greater the number of those who seemed to spring from their ashes."[800][Pg 375]

Fate of the remaining judges.

Of the five counsellors of parliament arrested by the late king's orders, Du Bourg was the only martyr. By the others greater weakness was shown, or the judges were less willing to fulfil the cardinal's bloody injunctions.[801] La Porte was reprimanded for finding fault with the rigorous sentences of the "grand' chambre," and liberated on declaring those sentences good and praiseworthy. De Foix was condemned to make a public declaration of his belief in the sole validity of the sacrament as administered in the Romish Church, and to be suspended from his office for a year; Du Faur to beg pardon of God, the king, and his fellow-judges, for having maintained the propriety of holding a holy and free universal council before extirpating the heretics, to pay a considerable fine, and to suffer a five years' suspension. Fumée, more fortunate than his associates, was acquitted in spite of the most strenuous exertions of the Cardinal of Lorraine.[802]

Public indignation against the Guises.
Must the faithful submit passively to usurpation?

The savage persecution of the Protestants tended powerfully to strengthen the current of popular sentiment that was setting in against the government of the Guises. The sight of so many cruel executions for more than thirty years had not accustomed either the dissidents or the more reflecting among those of the opposite creed to the barbarous work. "Is it not time," they asked, "to put a stop to the ravages of the flames and of the sword of the executioner, when such signal failure has attended their application? Will the[Pg 376] terror of the estrapade quench the burning courage of a sect which has spread over the whole of France, if it could not stifle the fire when first kindled at Meaux and at Paris? Has not the policy of extermination thus far persisted in only accelerating the growth of the new doctrines? Shall the sword rage forever, and must princes of the blood and the noblest and purest in lower ranks of society incur a common fate? Must the persecuted submit with as good grace to the arbitrary decrees of the usurpers who, through their connection with a minor king, have made themselves supreme, as to the legitimate authority of the monarch, advised by his council of state? The Gospel, doubtless, enjoins upon all Christians the most patient submission to legally constituted authority. Its success is to be won by the display of faith and obedience. But concession may degenerate into cowardice, and submission into craven subserviency. Obedience to a tyrant is rebellion against the king whom he defrauds of his authority, his revenues, and his reputation; and treason against God, whose name is suffered to be blasphemed, and whose children are unjustly distressed."

Oppression becomes intolerable.
The convocation of the States General.

The religious grievances thus ran parallel with the political, and could scarcely be distinguished in the great aggregate of the intolerable oppression to which France was subjected. The legislation of which such grave complaint was made, it must be admitted, was sometimes sufficiently whimsical. The resources of the royal treasury, for instance, being inadequate to meet the demands of creditors, it was necessary to silence their importunity. An inhuman decree was accordingly published, enjoining upon all petitioners who had come to Fontainebleau, where the king was sojourning, to solicit the payment of debts or pensions, to leave the court within twenty-four hours, on pain of the halter! A gallows newly erected in front of the castle was a significant warning as to the serious character of the threat.[803] In order to provide against uprisings such as the violent course taken was well[Pg 377] calculated to occasion, the people must be disarmed. Accordingly, an edict was published, within a fortnight after the accession of Francis, strictly forbidding all persons from carrying pistols and other firearms, and the prohibition was more than once repeated during this brief reign.[804] While thus seeking to repress the display of the popular displeasure in acts of violence and sedition, the Guises resolved to prevent the overthrow of their usurped authority by legitimate means. The convocation of the States General was the safety-valve through which, in accordance with a wise provision, the overheated passions of the people were wont to find vent. But the assembling of the representatives of the three orders would be equivalent to signing the death-warrant of the Guises; while to Catharine, the queen mother, it would betoken an equally dreaded termination of long-cherished hopes. Both Catharine and the Guises, therefore, gave out that whoever talked of convening the States was a mortal enemy of the king, and made himself liable to the pains of treason.[805] Every precaution had been taken to make the boiler tight, and to render impossible the escape of the scalding waters and the steam; it only remained to be seen whether the structure was proof against an explosion.

Calvin and Beza consulted.
They dissuade armed resistance.
Calvin foresees civil war.
More favorable replies.

Such a catastrophe, indeed, seemed now to be imminent.[806] Among the more restless, especially, there was a manifest preparation for some new enterprise. The correspondence of the reformers reveals the fact that, as early as in the commencement of September, a knotty ques[Pg 378]tion had been propounded to the Genevese theologians:[807] "Is it lawful to make an insurrection against those enemies not only of religion, but of the very state, particularly when, according to law, the king himself possesses no authority on which they can rest their usurpation?" This was an interrogatory often put by those who would gladly have followed the example of a Scævola, and sacrificed their own lives to purchase freedom for France. "Hitherto," notes Beza, "we have answered that the storm must be overcome by prayer and by patience, and that He will not desert us who lately showed by so wonderful an example (the death of Henry) not only what He can, but what He will do for His church. Until now this advice has been followed."[808] As the plan for a forcible overthrow of the Guises began to develop under the increasing oppression, and as malcontents from France came to the free city on Lake Leman in greater numbers, Calvin expressed his convictions with more and more distinctness, and endeavored to dissuade the refugees from embarking in so hazardous an undertaking. Its advocates in vain urged that they had received from a prince of the blood (entitled, by the immemorial custom of the realm, to the first place in the council, in the absence of his brother, the King of Navarre) the promise to present their confession of faith to the young monarch of France, and that thousands would espouse his defence if he were assailed. The reformer saw more clearly than they the rising of the clouds of civil war portending ruin to his native land. "Let but a single drop of blood be shed," said Calvin, "and streams will flow that must inundate France."[809] But his prudent advice was unheeded.[Pg 379] Other theologians and jurists of France and Germany had been questioned. They replied more favorably, "It is lawful," they said, "to take up arms to repel the violence of the Guises, under the authority of a prince of the blood, and at the solicitation of the estates of France, or the soundest part of them. Having seized the persons of the obnoxious ministers, it will next be proper to assemble the States General, and put them on trial for their flagrant offences."[810]

Godefroy de la Renaudie.
His grounds for revenge.

An active and energetic man was needed to organize the movement and control it until the proper moment should come for Condé—the "mute" head, whose name was for the time to be kept secret—to declare himself. Such a leader was found in Godefroy de Barry, Seigneur de la Renaudie, a gentleman of ancient family in Périgord. The result justified the wisdom of the choice. Besides the discontent animating him in common with the better part of the kingdom, La Renaudie had private wrongs of his own to avenge. Less than a year before the accession of Francis, his brother-in-law, Gaspard de Heu, had been arrested as a pretended agent for bringing about an alliance between the King of Navarre and the Protestant princes of Germany.[811] In the gloomy castle of the Bois de Vincennes a private trial had been held, in which none of the accustomed forms of law were observed. De Heu had been barbarously tortured and secretly despatched.[812] That it was a judicial murder was proved by the[Pg 380] extraordinary precautions taken to conceal the procedure from the knowledge of the public, and by the selection of the most lonely place about the castle for the grave into which his official assassins hastily thrust the body.[813] La Renaudie held the Cardinal of Lorraine to be the author of the cowardly deed.[814]

He assembles the malcontents at Nantes, Feb. 1, 1560.
Well-devised plans.

La Renaudie displayed incredible diligence.[815] In a few days he had travelled over a great part of France, visiting all the most prominent opponents of the Guises, urging the reluctant, assuring the timid, inciting all to a determined effort. On the first of February he assembled in the city of Nantes a large number of noblemen and of persons belonging to the "tiers état," who claimed to be as complete a representation of the estates of France as the circumstances of the country would admit. It was a hazardous undertaking; but so prudently did the deputies deport themselves, that, although the Parliament of Brittany was then sitting at Nantes, they were not detected in the crowd of pleaders before the court. After solemnly protesting that the enterprise was directed neither against the majesty of the king and of the[Pg 381] princes of the blood, nor against the legitimate estate of the kingdom, the assembly was intrusted with the secret of the name of the prince by whose authority the arrest of the Guises was to be attempted. The tenth of March[816] was fixed upon for the execution of the design. At that date, it was supposed, Francis and his court would be sojourning on the banks of the Loire.[817] Five hundred gentlemen were selected, and placed under the command of ten captains. All were to obey the directions of the "mute" chief, and his delegate, La Renaudie. Others of the confederates were pledged to prevent the provincial towns from sending assistance to the Guises. The force thus raised was to be disbanded only when a legitimate government had been re-established, and the usurpers brought to punishment.[818]

Confidence of the Guises.

The plan was well devised, and its execution was entrusted to capable hands. The omens, indeed, were favorable. The[Pg 382] Cardinal of Lorraine and his brother, intoxicated by the uniform success hitherto attending their ambitious projects, despised such vague rumors of opposition as reached their ears. The party adverse to their tyranny, composed not only of Protestants and others who sought the best interests of their country, but recruited from the ranks of the restless and of those who had private wrongs to redress, was sure, on the first tidings of its uprising, to secure the active co-operation of many of the most powerful nobles, and possibly might enlist the majority of the population. Rarely has an important secret been so long and so successfully kept. It was deemed little short of a miracle that, in a time of peace, and in a country where the regal authority was so implicitly obeyed, a deliberative assembly of no mean size had been convened from all the provinces of France, and the Guises had obtained intimations of the conspiracy of their enemies by letters from Germany, Spain, and Italy, before any tidings of it reached the ears of their spies carefully posted in every part of the kingdom. So close a reticence augured ill for the permanence of the present usurpation.[819]

The plot betrayed.

But the timidity or treachery of a single person disconcerted all the steps so cautiously taken. The curiosity of Des Avenelles, a lawyer at Paris, in whose house La Renaudie lodged, was excited by the number of the visitors whom his guest attracted. As his host was a Protestant, La Renaudie believed that he risked nothing in making of him a confidant. But the secret was too valuable, or too dangerous, to be kept, and Des Avenelles secured his safety, as well as a liberal reward, by disclosing it to two dependants of the Guises, by whom it was faithfully reported to their masters.[820] The as[Pg 383]tounding information was at first received with incredulity, but soon a second witness was obtained. It could no longer be doubted that the blow of the approach of which letters from abroad, and especially from Cardinal Granvelle, in Flanders,[821] had warned them, was about to descend upon their heads.

The "Tumult of Amboise."

When fuller revelations of the extent of the plot were made, the court in consternation shut itself up in the defences of Amboise. Catharine de' Medici, recalling the warning of the Church of Paris, declared that now she saw that the Protestants were men of their word.[822]

The Châtillons consulted.
Coligny gives Catharine good advice.

Meanwhile, not only were vigorous measures adopted to guard against attack, but the most powerful nobles, who might be suspected of complicity, were sounded respecting their intentions. Coligny and his brother, D'Andelot, who, in virtue of their offices as Admiral and Colonel-General of the infantry, stood at the head of the army, received affectionate invitations from Catharine to visit the court. Upon[Pg 384] their arrival they were taken apart, and were earnestly entreated by the queen mother and Chancellor Olivier to assist them by their counsel, and not to abandon the young king. To so urgent a request Coligny made a frank reply. He explained the existing discontent and its causes, both religious and political. Persecution, and the usurpation of those who were esteemed foreigners by the French, lay at the root of the troubles. He advised the relaxation of the rigorous treatment of the adherents of the Reformation. Extermination was out of the question. The numbers of the Protestants had become too great to permit the entertaining of such a thought. Moreover, the court might be assured that there were those—and they were not few—who would no longer consent to endure the cruelty to which, for forty years, they had been subjected, especially now that it was exercised under the authority of a young king governed by persons "more hated than the plague," and known to be inspired less by religious zeal than by excessive ambition, and by an avarice that could be satisfied only by obtaining the property of the richest houses in France. An edict of toleration, couched in explicit terms and honestly executed, was the only remedy to restore peace and quiet until the convocation of a free and holy council.[823]

The edict of amnesty March, 1560.
It is promptly registered.

The privy council, if not persuaded of the propriety of initiating a policy of toleration, were at least convinced of the necessity of yielding temporarily to the storm; and even the Guises deemed it advisable to make concessions, which could easily be revoked on the advent of more peaceful times. Ac[Pg 385]cordingly, an edict of pretended amnesty was hastily drawn up, and as expeditiously published. The king was moved to take this step—so the edict made him say—by compassion for the number of persons who, from motives of curiosity or simplicity, had attended the conventicles of the preachers from Geneva—for the most part mechanical folk and of no literary attainments—as well as by reluctance to render the first year of his reign notable in after times for the effusion of the blood of his poor subjects. By the provisions of this important instrument the royal judges were forbidden to make inquisition into, or inflict punishment for any past crime concerning the faith: and all delinquents were pardoned on condition that they should hereafter live as good Catholics and obedient sons of Mother Holy Church. But from the benefits of the amnesty were expressly excluded all preachers and those who had conspired against the person of the king or his ministers.[824] The edict—much to the surprise of those who knew the sanguinary disposition of the judges—was promptly registered by parliament; whether it was that the judges were reconciled to the step by a secret article with which, it was said, they accompanied it, to guide in the future interpretation of the law, or that the majority regarded it as a piece of deceit.[825]

A year's progress.
Beza's comment.

In spite of its insincerity, however, the edict, wrung from the unwilling hands of the cardinal and the privy council, marks an important epoch in the history of the Reformed Church in France. Barely nine months had elapsed since five members of the Parisian Parliament had been thrown into the Bastile for daring to advocate a mitigation of the penalties pronounced against the Protestants, until the assem[Pg 386]bling of the long-promised Œcumenical Council. Little more than two months had passed since one of their number, and the most virtuous judge on the bench, had been ignominiously executed. And now the King of France, with the approval and almost at the instigation of the chief persecutor, proclaimed an oblivion of all offences against religion, and the liberation of all persons imprisoned for heresy. The reformers, who had rarely succeeded by their most strenuous exertions in obtaining the release of a few of their co-religionists, could scarcely restrain a smile when they discovered what a potent auxiliary they had obtained unawares—in the fears of their antagonists. "Would that you could read and understand the number of contradictory edicts they have written in a single month!" wrote one who took a deep interest in French affairs. "You would assuredly be amazed at their incredible fright, when no one is pursuing them, except Him whom they least fear! What you could not succeed in obtaining by any of your embassies in former years, they have given of their own accord to those who sought it not—the liberation of the entire number of prisoners on all sides. Most have been released in spite of their open profession of their faith. The injustice of the judges has, however, led to the retention of a few in chains up to this moment."[826]

A powerful party had arisen.

Notwithstanding its incompleteness and insincerity, however, "the Edict of Forgiveness," as it was termed, is a significant landmark in the history of French Protestantism. It is the point where begins the transition from the period of persecution to the period of civil war. By this concession, reluctantly granted and faithlessly executed, the first recognition was made of the existence of a large and powerful body of dissidents from the Roman Catholic Church. No longer were there a few scattered sectaries whose heretical views might be suppressed by their individual extermination. But a compact and wide-spread and rapidly growing party had assumed dimensions that defied any such paltry measures. It had outgrown persecution. The time for its eradica[Pg 387]tion by open war or by secret massacre might yet come. Meanwhile, it was important to avert present disaster by partial concessions.

Dismay of the court.
New alarms.

The treachery of Des Avenelles had warned the Guises of their danger, but had left them in dismay and doubt. They knew not whom to trust, nor whence to expect the impending blow. Sir Nicholas Throkmorton's correspondence is full of interesting details throwing light upon the confusion and embarrassment of the Guises. "You shall understand," he writes on the seventh of March, "that the Duke of Guise and the Cardinal of Lorraine have discovered a conspiracy wrought against themselves and their authority, which they have bruited (to make the matter more odious) to be meant only against the king: whereupon they are in such fear as themselves do wear privy coats, and are in the night guarded with pistoliers and men in arms. They have apprehended eight or nine, and have put some to the torture." "Being ready to seal up this letter," he adds in a postscript, "I do understand that the fear of this commotion is so great, as the sixth of this present, the Duke of Guise, the Cardinal of Lorraine, the Grand Prior, and all the knights of the Order which were here, watched all night long in the court, and the gates of this town were all shut and kept." On the fifteenth of March he writes: "These men here have their hands full, and are so busied to provide for surety at home, that they cannot intend to answer foreigners. This night a new hot alarm is offered, and our town doth begin again to be guarded. It is a marvel to see how they be daunted, that have not at other times been afraid of great armies of horsemen, footmen, and the fury of shot of artillery: I never saw state more amazed than this at some time, and by and by more reckless; they know not whom to mistrust, nor to trust.... He hath all the trust this daye, that to-morrow is least trusted. You can imagine your advantage." A few days later he writes again: "And now it was thought that this was but a popular commotion, without order, and not to be feared; when, unlooked for, the 17th, in the morning, about four of the clock, there arrived a company of 150 horsemen well appointed, who approached the court gates, and[Pg 388] shot off their pistolets at the church of the Bonhommes, whereupon there was such an alarm and running up and down in the court, as if the enemies being encamped about them had sought to make an entry into the castle: and there was crying, To horse, to horse.... This continued an hour and a half,"[827] etc.

La Renaudie had actually established himself within six leagues of Amboise on the second of March, and had made his arrangements for the vigorous execution of his plans a fortnight later. The Guises were to be seized by a party that counted upon gaining secret admission to the castle, and opening the gates to comrades concealed in the neighborhood. But another act of treachery on the part of a confederate enabled the cardinal and his brother to frustrate a project so sagaciously laid and offering fair promise of success. The parties of cavaliers, who had succeeded, as by a miracle, in eluding the spies and agents of their enemies, posted in every important city of France, and had reached the very vicinity of the court without discovery, were caught in detail at their rendezvous. Companies of fifteen or twenty men thus fell into the hands of the troops hastily assembled by the urgent commands of the king's ministers.

Treacherous capture of Castelnau.
Death of La Renaudie.

A more powerful detachment of malcontents could not be so easily stopped, and threw itself into the castle of Noizay. It seemed more feasible to overcome them by stratagem than by open assault. The Duke of Nemours, having been sent to reduce the place, allowed Baron de Castelnau, commander of the insurgents, a personal interview. Here the Huguenot defended his adherents against the imputation of having revolted against their lawful monarch, and maintained that, on the contrary, they had come to uphold his honor and free him from the intrigues of the Guises. Seeing, however, the hopelessness of resisting the superior force of his enemy, Castelnau consented to capitulate, after exacting from the Duke of Nemours his princely word that he and his followers should receive no injury, and be permitted to have free access to the king, in order to lay before him their grievances.[Pg 389] The pledge thus given was redeemed in no chivalrous manner. No account was made of the terms accepted. Castelnau and his companions-in-arms were at once thrown into the dungeons of Amboise, and steps were taken for their trial on a charge of treason.[828] Much larger numbers, arriving in the vicinity of Amboise ignorant of what had happened, were surrounded by cavalry and brought in tied to the horses' tails. Many a knight, better accoutred than his fellows, was despatched in a more summary manner and stripped of his armor, after which his body was carelessly thrown into a ditch by the roadside.[829] La Renaudie was so fortunate as to escape this fate and the yet more cruel doom that awaited him at Amboise, by meeting a soldier's death, while courageously fighting against a party of Guisards who fell in with him. He had just slain his antagonist—one Pardaillan, his own relative—when (on the nineteenth of March) he was himself instantly killed by the ball from an arquebuse fired by his opponent's servant.[830]

Plenary powers given to the Duke of Guise.

While the alarm arising from the "tumult" was yet at its height, the Guises took advantage of it to obtain yet larger powers, at the same time securing their position against future assaults. The king, in his terror, was readily induced to accept the warlike uncle of his wife as the only person on whose military prowess and faithfulness he could rely. He regarded the interest of the Guises and his own as identical; for he had been told, and he firmly believed it, that the enmity of the insurgents was directed no less against the crown than against its unpopular ministers.[831] On the seven[Pg 390]teenth of March he therefore gave a commission to "Francis of Lorraine, Duke of Guise, peer, grand master, and grand chamberlain," to be his lieutenant-general with absolute powers, promising to approve of all his acts, and authorizing him to impose the customary punishment upon the seditious, without form or figure of process.[832]

Chancellor Olivier opposes.
Forgiveness to the submissive.

There were those about the monarch who could not but look with concern upon the unlimited authority thus accorded to an ambitious prince. Chancellor Olivier was of this number. He at first refused to affix the seal of state to a paper which falsely purported to have been made by advice of the council. It was, however, at length decided that another edict should be published contemporaneously, extending forgiveness to all that had assembled in arms in the neighborhood of the city of Amboise, under color of desiring to present to the king a confession of their faith. To avail themselves of the benefits of this pardon, they must, within "twice twenty-four hours," return to their homes, in companies of two, or, at the most, three together. The disobedient were to be hung without process of law, and the tocsin might be rung to gather a force for the purpose of capturing them. The king, however, invited all that desired to present him their requests to depute one of their number to lay them before his council, promising, on the pledge of his royal word, redress and security.[833]

Explained away by a new edict.

The acts of the court little agreed with these words of clemency. Many of those who, in obedience to the edict, turned their steps homeward, found that edict to be only a snare for their simplicity. Indeed, five days only had elapsed when, on the twenty-second of March, a fresh[Pg 391] edict, explanatory of the former, excluded from the amnesty all that had taken part in the conspiracy![834]

Carnival of blood.
The young king visibly affected.

But it was at Amboise that the vengeance of the Guises found its widest scope. Day and night the execution of the prisoners stayed not. Their punishment was ingeniously diversified. Some were decapitated, others hung; still others were drowned in the waters of the Loire.[835] The streets of Amboise ran with blood, and the stench of the unburied corpses threatened a pestilence. Ten or twelve dead bodies, in full clothing and tied to a single pole, floated down from time to time toward the sea, and carried tidings of the wholesale massacre to the cities on the lower Loire. Neither trial nor publication of the charge preceded the summary execution. Most frequently the victims were placed in the hangman's hand immediately after the hour for dinner, that their dying agonies might furnish an agreeable diversion to the ladies of the court, who watched the gibbet from the royal drawing-rooms. Few, besides the Duchess of Guise, daughter of Renée of Ferrara, manifested any disgust at the repulsive spectacle. Some of the prisoners who importunately insisted on seeing the king, and making before him a profession of their faith, were summarily hanged from the castle windows. One intrepid reformer had been so fortunate as to be admitted to the queen mother's presence, and there, by his ready and cogent reasoning, had well-nigh brought the Cardinal of Lorraine to admit that his view of the Lord's Supper was correct. Catharine's attention having been for a moment withdrawn, when she returned to the discussion the man had disappeared. Actuated by curiosity or by a desire to spare his life, she requested him to be sent for. It was too late; he had already been despatched.[836] For the most part, the victims displayed great constancy and courage. Many died with the words of the psalms[Pg 392] of Marot and Beza on their lips.[837] Castelnau, after having in his interrogatory made patent to all the hypocrisy of the cardinal and the cowardice of the chancellor, died maintaining that, before he was pronounced guilty of treason, the Guises ought to be declared kings of France. Villemongys, upon the scaffold, dipped his hands in the blood of his companions, and, raising them toward heaven, exclaimed in a loud voice: "Lord, this is the blood of Thy children, unjustly shed. Thou wilt avenge it!"[838] The body of La Renaudie was first hung upon one of the bridges of Amboise, with the superscription: "La Renaudie, styling himself Laforest, author of the conspiracy, chief and leader of the rebels." Afterward it was quartered, and his head, in company with the heads of others, was exposed upon a pole on a public square.[839] The sight of these continually recurring executions, succeeding a fearful struggle in which so many of his subjects had taken part, is said to have affected even the young king, who asked, with tears, what he had done to his people to animate them thus against him. It is even reported that, catching for an instant, through the mist with which his advisers sought to keep his mind enshrouded, a glimpse of the true cause of the discontent, he made a feeble suggestion, which was easily parried, that the Guises should for a time retire from the court, in order that he might find out whether the popular enmity was in reality directed against him, or against his uncles.[840] Their fertile invention, however, was not slow in concocting a story that turned his short-lived pity into settled hatred of the "Huguenot heretics."

The elder D'Aubigné and his son.

On others, and especially upon those whose hearts throbbed with patriotic devotion, a less transient impression was made. Some months after, the young Agrippa d'Aubigné, then a mere child of ten years, was traversing the city of Amboise with his[Pg 393] father. The impaled heads of the victims were still to be recognized. The barbarous sight moved the elder D'Aubigné's soul to its very depths. "They have beheaded France, hangmen that they are!" he cried out in the hearing of the hundreds that were present at the fair. Then, spurring his horse, he scarcely escaped the hands of the rabble who had caught his words. Afterward, when his young son had rejoined him, he placed his hand on Agrippa's head, and exclaimed, full of emotion: "My child, you must not spare your head after mine, to avenge these chieftains full of honor, whose heads you have just seen! If you spare yourself in this matter, you will have my curse."[841]

Peril of the Prince of Condé.
He is summoned by the king.
Condé's defiance.
Guise's offer.

The Prince of Condé had set out for the court about the time of the discovery of the conspiracy. If the coldness of the courtiers whom he met on the way did not convince him that he was suspected, the position in which he soon found himself at Amboise left him no doubts. Surrounded by spies, he was viewed more as a prisoner than as a guest. The Guises even counselled Francis to stab him with his dagger while pretending to sport with him. The crime was averted both by the caution of the prince and by a reluctance on the part of the young king to imbrue his hands in the blood of his kinsman—a sentiment which the Guises interpreted as cowardice.[842] But, unable to resist the urgency of those who accused Condé of being the true head of the conspiracy, and maintained that the testimony of many of the prisoners rendered the fact indubitable, Francis at length summoned the young Bourbon to his presence. He informed him of the accusations, and assured him that, should they prove true, he would make him feel the difficulty and the danger of attacking a king of France. At Condé's request an assembly of all the princes, and of the members of the Privy Council and of the Order of St. Michael, was summoned, that he might return his answer to the charges laid against him.[843][Pg 394] In the midst of the august gathering, Louis of Bourbon arose and recited the conversation which he had had with the king. He knew, he said, that he had enemies about him who sought his entire ruin and that of his house. He had, therefore, solicited to be heard in this company, and his answer was: that, excepting the person of the king, his brothers, and the queens, his mother and wife—and he said it with all respect to their presence—whoever had asserted to the king that Condé was the chief of certain seditious individuals who were said to have conspired against his person and estate, had "falsely and miserably lied." To prove his innocence he offered to waive for the time the privileges of his rank as prince of the blood, and in single combat force his accuser at the point of the sword to confess himself a poltroon and a calumniator. As Condé looked proudly around, no one ventured to accept the gauntlet he had thrown down. On the contrary, the Duke of Guise, his most bitter enemy, promptly stepped forward to offer him his services as second in the single combat proposed! Hereupon Condé begged the king to esteem him hereafter a faithful and honorable man, and entreated his Majesty to lend no ear to the authors of such calumnies, but to regard them as common enemies of the crown and of the public peace.[844]

An alleged admission of disloyal intentions by La Renaudie.

It is well known that the Huguenots were accused by their enemies of intending to remodel the government of France. According to some, the king was to be retained, but shorn of his authority; according to others, he was to be dispensed with altogether. Under any circumstances, the Swiss confederation was to be imitated or reproduced in France. That which gave the pretended scheme most of its air of probability, in the eyes of the unreflecting, and compensated[Pg 395] for the entire absence of proof of its substantial reality, was the familiarity of many of the Huguenots—both religious and political—with Geneva, Basle, Berne, and other small republican states. These were fountains of Protestant doctrine; these had afforded many a refugee shelter from persecution in France. It was notorious that the free institutions of these cities were the object of admiration on the part of the Calvinists.[845]

I believe that no contemporary writer has brought forward a particle of evidence in support of this view, and impartial men have rejected it as incredible. But a history of the Parliament of Bordeaux, lately published,[846] contains an extract from the records of that court, which, if trustworthy, would go far to establish the reality of treasonable designs entertained by the Huguenots. Under date of Sept. 4, 1561, the following entry appears:

"Ledit jour, M. Géraut Faure, official de Périgueux, a dit: qu'il y a deux ans que le feu Sieur de La Renaudie fust à la maison dudit official, à Nontron, lui dire que c'estoit grande folie qu'un tel royaume fust gouverné par un roi seul, et que si l'official vouloit l'entendre, qu'il lui feroit un grand avantage; car on délibéroit de faire un canton à Périgueux, et un autre a Bordeaux dont il espéroit avoir la superintendance. Et lors luy tenant de tels propos, retira à part ledit official sans qu'autre l'entendist. Ainsi signé: Faure."

The late M. Boscheron des Portes, giving full credit to the assertion of the "official" of Périgueux, believed that the party of which La Renaudie was a prominent leader contemplated, in 1559-1560, the formation of "a federative republic broken up into cantons, the number and situation of which were already, it would appear, determined upon by the authors of the project." And he deplores the blind sectarian spirit which could induce Frenchmen to acquiesce in a plan designed to destroy the unity and consequent power of a realm whose consolidation every successive king since the origin of the monarchy had unceasingly pursued.

I imagine that few unbiassed minds will follow this usually judicious historian in his singularly precipitate acceptance of the "official's" statement. It is in patent contradiction with well-known facts respecting the constitution of the Huguenot party. The noblemen who gave this party their support had everything to lose, and nothing to gain, by the change from a monarchical to a republican form of government. Condé, the "chef muet," was a prince of the blood, not so far removed from the throne as to regard it altogether im[Pg 396]possible that he or his children might yet succeed to the crown. The main body of the party had had no reason to entertain hostility to regal authority. The prevailing discontent was not directed against the young king, but against the persons surrounding him who had illegally usurped his name and the real functions of royalty. If persecution for religion's sake had long raged, the victims had never uttered a syllable smacking of disloyalty, and continued to hope, not without some apparent reason, that the truth might yet reach the heart of kings.

But, independently of the gross inconsistency between the design ascribed to La Renaudie and the known sentiments of the Huguenots at this time, there are other marks of improbability connected with the statement of Géraut Faure. It was not made at the time of the pretended disclosure, or shortly after, when, if genuine, it would have insured the informer favor and reward; but, after the lapse of "two years," when Francis the Second had been dead nine months, and when under a new king fresh political issues had arisen. In fact, if the term of two years be construed strictly, it carries us back to September, 1559, when Francis the Second had been barely three months on the throne, and the plans of the Huguenots had, to all appearance, by no means had time to assume the completeness implied in Faure's statement. Not to speak of the great vagueness and the utter absence of circumstantial details in the announcement of the conspiracy and in the promised advantages, it should be remarked that the confidant selected by La Renaudie was a very unlikely person to be chosen. The "official," an ecclesiastical judge deputed by the Bishop of Périgueux to take charge of spiritual jurisdiction in his diocese, could scarcely be regarded by La Renaudie as the safest depositary of so valuable a trust.

[Pg 397]



Rise of the name "Huguenots."
Various explanations given.

The tempest which had threatened to overwhelm the Guises at Amboise had been successfully withstood; but quiet had not returned to the minds of those whose vices were its principal cause. The air was still thick with noxious vapors, and none could tell how soon or in what quarter the elements of a new and more terrible convulsion would gather.[847] The recent commotion had disclosed the existence of a body of malcontents, in part religious, in part also political, scattered over the whole kingdom and of unascertained numbers. To its adherents the name of Huguenots was now for the first time given.[848] What the origin of this celebrated appellation was, it is now perhaps impossible to discover. Although a number of plausible derivations have been given, it is not unlikely that all are equally far removed from the truth, and that the word arose from some trivial circumstance that has completely passed into oblivion. It has been traced back to the name of the Eidgenossen or confederates, under which the party of freedom figured in Geneva when the authority of the bishop[Pg 398] and duke was overthrown;[849] or to the Roy Huguet, or Huguon, a hobgoblin supposed to haunt the vicinity of Tours, to whom the superstitious attributed the nocturnal assemblies of the Protestants;[850] or to the gate du roy Huguon of the same city, near which those gatherings were wont to be made.[851] Some of their enemies maintained the former existence of a diminutive coin known as a huguenot, and asserted that the appellation, as applied to the reformed, arose from their "not being worth a huguenot" or farthing.[852] And some of their friends, with equal confidence and no less improbability, declared that it was invented because the adherents of the house of Guise secretly put forward claims upon the crown of France in behalf of that house as descended from Charlemagne, whereas the Protestants loyally upheld the rights of the Valois sprung from Hugh Capet.[853] In the diversity of[Pg 399] contradictory statements, we may perhaps be excused if we suspend our judgment of their respective merits, and prefer to look upon this partisan name as one with whose original import not a score of persons in France besides its fortuitous inventor may have been acquainted, and which may have had nothing to recommend it to those who so readily adopted it, save novelty and the recognized need of some more convenient name than "Lutherans," "Christaudins," or the awkward circumlocution, "those of the religion." Be this as it may, not a week had passed after the conspiracy of Amboise before the word was in everybody's mouth. Few knew or cared whence it arose.[854]

Its sudden rise.

A powerful party, whatever name it might bear, had sprung up, as it were, in a night. There was sober truth conveyed in the jesting letter of some fugitives to the Cardinal of Lorraine. Twenty or thirty Huguenots succeeded in breaking the bars of their prison at Blois, and, letting themselves down by cords, escaped. Some others at Tours, a few days later, were equally fortunate. Scarcely had the latter regained their liberty when they wrote a letter to the prelate who was supposed to take so deep an interest in their concerns, informing him that, having heard of the escape of his prisoners at Blois, they had been so grieved, that, for the love they bore him, they had immediately started out in search. And they begged him not to distress himself on account of their absence; for they assured him that they would all soon return to see him, and would bring with them not only these, but all the rest of those that had conspired to take his life.[855]

How to be accounted for.

No feature of the rise of the Reformation in France is more[Pg 400] remarkable than the sudden impulse which it received during the last year or two of Henry the Second's life, and especially within the brief limits of the reign of his eldest son. The seed had been sown assiduously for nearly forty years; but the fruit of so much labor had been comparatively slight and unsatisfactory. Much of the return proved to be of a literary and philosophical, rather than of a religious character, and tended to intellectual development instead of the purification of religions belief and practice. Much of the seed was choked by relentless persecution. Bishops and preachers, the gay poet, and the time-serving courtier, fell away with alarming facility, when the blight of the royal displeasure fell upon those who professed a desire to abolish the superstitious observances of the established church.

A sudden harvest.

But now, within a few brief months, the harvest seemed, as by a miracle, to be approaching simultaneously over the whole surface of the extended field. The grains of truth long since lodged in an arid soil, and apparently destitute of all vitality, had suddenly developed all the energy of life. France to the reformers, whose longing eyes were at length permitted to see this day, was "white unto the harvest," and only the reapers were needed to put forth the sickle and gather the wheat into the garner. There was not a corner of the kingdom where the number of incipient Protestant churches was not considerable. Provence alone contained sixty, whose delegates this year met in a synod at the blood-stained village of Mérindol. In large tracts of country the Huguenots had become so numerous that they were no longer able or disposed to conceal their religious sentiments, nor content to celebrate their rites in private or nocturnal assemblies. This was particularly the case in Normandy, in Languedoc, and on the banks of the Rhône.

The progress of letters
and of intelligence.

It may be worth while to pause here, and inquire into some of the causes of this rapid spread of the doctrines of the Reformation after the long period of comparative stagnation preceding. One of these was undoubtedly the astonishing progress of letters in France during the last forty years. From being neglected and rough, the French language, during[Pg 401] the first half of the sixteenth century, became the most polite of the tongues spoken in Western Europe—thanks to a series of eminent prose writers and poets who graced the royal court. The generation reaching manhood in the latter years of the reign of Henry the Second were far better educated than the contemporaries of Francis the First. The public mind, through the elevating tendencies of schools fostered by royal bounty, was to a considerable degree emancipated from the thraldom of superstition. It repudiated the silly romanese, passing for the lives of the saints, with which the public had formerly been satisfied. It scrutinized minutely every pretended miracle of the papal churches and convents, and exposed the trickery by which a corrupt clergy sought to maintain itself in popular esteem. Thus the growing intelligence and widening information of the people prepared them to appreciate the merits of the great doctrinal controversy now occupying the attention of enlightened minds. Interest in the discussion of the most important themes that can occupy the human contemplation was both stimulated and gratified by a constant influx of religious works from the teeming presses of Strasbourg, Basle, Lausanne, Neufchâtel, and especially Geneva. And the verdict of the great majority of readers and thinkers was favorable to the Swiss and German controversialists.

Calvin's Institutes.
Marot and Beza's Psalms.

Next to the Bible, translated originally by Olivetanus, and in its successive editions rendered more conformable to the Hebrew and Greek texts, the "Christian Institutes" exerted the most powerful influence. The close logic of Calvin's treatises, speaking in a style clear, concise and nervous, and touching a chord of sympathy in each French reader, made its deep impress upon the intellect and heart, while captivating the ear. Calvin's commentaries on the sacred volume rendered its pages luminous and familiar. Other works exerted an influence scarcely inferior. The "Actions and Monuments" of the martyrs, by Jean Crespin, printer and scholar, not only perpetuated the memory of the witnesses for the truth, but stimulated others to copy their fidelity. Marot and Beza's metrical versions of the Psalms, wafted into popularity, even among those[Pg 402] who at first little sympathized with the piety of the words, by the novelty and beauty of the music to which they were sung, were powerful auxiliaries to the arguments of the theologian. They entered the house of the peasant and invested its homely scenes with a calm derived from the contemplation of the bliss of a heaven where the fleeting distinctions of the present shall melt away. They nerved the humble artisan to patience and to the cheerful endurance of obloquy and reproach. They attracted to the gathering of persecuted reformers in the by-street, in the retired barn, or on the open heath or mountain side, the youth who preferred their melody and intelligible words to the jargon of a service conducted in a tongue understood only by the learned. In the royal court, or rising in loud chorus from a thousand voices on the crowded Pré-aux-Clercs, they were winged messengers of the truth, where no other messengers could have found utterance with impunity.

Morals and martyrdom.

The blameless purity of life of the men and women whom, for religion's sake, the officers of the law put to death with every species of indignity and with inhuman cruelty, when contrasted with the flagrant corruption of the clergy and the shameless dissoluteness of the court, openly fostered for their own base ends by cardinals themselves accused of every species of immorality and suspected of atheism, deeply affected the minds of the reflecting. One Anne Du Bourg put to death by a Charles of Lorraine made more converts in a day than all the executioners could burn in a year.

Character of the ministers from Geneva.

But, if the rapid spread of Protestant doctrines at this precise date is due to any one cause more than to another, that cause may probably be found in the character and numbers of the religious teachers. Converts from the Papal Church, principally priests and monks, were the first apostles of the Reformation. Few of them had received systematic training of any kind, none had a thorough acquaintance with biblical learning. Many embraced the truth only in part; some professed it from improper motives. The Lenten preachers whose leaning towards "Lutheranism" was sufficiently marked to attract the hatred of the Sorbonne, were generally orators,[Pg 403] more solicitous of popularity than jealous for the truth—fickle and inconstant men whose apostasy inflicted deep wounds upon the cause with which they had been identified, and more than neutralized all the good done by their previous exertions. But now a brotherhood of theologians took their place, not less zealous for the faith than disciplined in intellect. Geneva[856] was the nursery from which a vigorous stock was transplanted to French soil. The theological school in which Calvin and Beza taught, moulded the destinies of France. The youths who came from the shores of Lake Leman were no neophytes, nor had they to unlearn the casuistry of the schools or to throw off a monastic indolence which habit had made a second nature. They embraced a vocation to which nothing but a stern sense of duty, or the more powerful attraction of Divine love, could prompt. They entered an arena where poverty, fatigue, and almost inevitable death stared them in the face. But they entered it intelligently and resolutely, with the training of mind and of soul which an athlete might receive from such instructors, and their prayerful, trustful and unselfish endeavor met an ample recompense.[857][Pg 404]

The Huguenots of Valence
seize the church of the Franciscans.

The course of events in many cities of Southern France is illustrated by the occurrences at Valence, which the most authentic and trustworthy historian of this reign has described at length. This episcopal city, situated on the Rhône, about midway between Lyons and Avignon, had for some time contained a small community of Huguenots. When, in order to avoid persecution, their minister, who had become known to their enemies, was replaced by another, a period of unexampled growth began. The private houses in which the Protestants met were too small to contain the worshippers. They now adjourned to the large schools, but at first held their services by night. Soon their courage grew with the advent of a second minister and with large accessions to their ranks. The younger and more impetuous part of the Protestants, disregarding the prudent counsels of their pastors and elders, ventured upon the bold step of seizing upon the Church of the Franciscans, and caused the Gospel to be openly preached from its pulpit. The people assembled, summoned by the ringing of the bell; and it was not long before the reformed doctrines were relished and embraced by great crowds. A goodly number of armed gentlemen simultaneously took possession of the adjoining cloisters, and protected the Protestant rites. The co-religionists of Montélimart and Romans, considerable towns not far distant, emboldened by the example of Valence, resorted to public preaching in the churches or within their precincts.[858][Pg 405]

A public assembly of citizens.
An impressive scene.
The public morals.

On receiving the intelligence of the sudden outbreak of Protestant zeal in his diocese, the Bishop of Valence—himself at one time possibly half-inclined to become a convert—despatched thither the Seneschal of Valentinois with the royal Edict of Forgiveness published at Amboise for all who had taken arms and conspired against the king. The citizens were summoned to a public assembly, in which the magistrates, the consuls, the clergy, and the chief Huguenots were conspicuous. After reading and explaining the terms of the royal clemency, the seneschal turned to the Protestants, who stood by themselves, and demanded whether they intended to avail themselves of its protection. Mirabel, their chief spokesman, replied that it was the custom of the reformed churches to offer prayer to God before treating of so important affairs as this, and proffered a request that they be allowed to invoke His presence and blessing. Permission was granted. A citizen of Valence, who was also a deacon of the Reformed Church, thereupon came forward, and uttered a fervent prayer for the prosperity of the king and his realm, and for the progress of the Gospel. The Protestant gentlemen reverently uncovered their heads and knelt upon the ground, and their Roman Catholic neighbors imitated their example. But it was noticed that the clergy stood unmoved and refused to join in the act of worship. The prayer being ended, a Huguenot orator delivered the answer of his brethren. It was, that they rejoiced and rendered thanks for the benignity of their young prince; but that they could not avail themselves of the pardon offered. They had never conspired against their king. On the contrary, they professed a religion that enjoined the most dutiful obedience. As for bearing arms, it had only been resorted to by the Huguenots in order that they might protect themselves against the unauthorized insults and violence of private persons. The citizen was followed by a procureur, who, for eight years, had kept the criminal records of Valence. He bore public testimony to a wonderful change that had come[Pg 406] over the city since the introduction of the preaching of the Gospel. The acts of violence which formerly rendered the streets so dangerous by night that few dared to venture out of their houses, even to visit their neighbors, had almost disappeared. The fearful story of crime which used to confront him every morning had been succeeded by a chronicle of quiet and peace. It would seem that with a change of doctrine had also come a transformation of life. The speaker challenged the other side to gainsay his statements; and when not a voice was heard in contradiction, he administered to the Papists a scathing rebuke for the calumnies which some of them had forged against the Protestants behind their backs. With this triumphant refutation of the charges of disorder, the assembly broke up.[859]

The Huguenots of Dauphiny to be exterminated.

The province of Dauphiny, within whose limits Valence, Romans and Montélimart were comprehended, was a government entrusted to the Duke of Guise. Moved with indignation at finding it become the hotbed of Protestantism, he determined to crush the Huguenots before impunity had given them still greater boldness. The governors of adjacent provinces were ordered to assist in the pious undertaking. King Francis, in a paroxysm of rage, wrote to Tavannes, acting governor of Burgundy, to take all the men-at-arms under his command and march to the assistance of Clermart, Lieutenant-Governor of Dauphiny, in cutting to pieces those who had taken up arms under color of religion. They were, he heard, three or four thousand men, and had instituted public preaching "after the Geneva fashion," with all other insolent acts conceivable. He begged him to punish them as they deserved, showing no pity or compassion, since they had refused to take advantage of the forgiveness of past offences which had been sent them. He was to extirpate the evil.[860]

These and other equally brutal instructions were obeyed with alacrity; but their execution was effected rather by treachery[Pg 407] than by open force. The Huguenots of Valence were first induced by promises of security to lay aside their arms, then imprisoned and despoiled by a party consisting of the very dregs of the population of Lyons and Vienne. Two of the ministers were put to death[861] in company with three of the principal men, one being the procureur who had given such noble testimony to the morals of the Protestants. More would have been executed had not the Bishop of Valence been induced to intercede for his episcopal city, and obtain amnesty for its citizens. Romans and Montélimart fared little better than Valence.[862]

Concourse at Nismes.

At Nismes, in Languedoc—destined periodically, for the next three centuries, to be the scene of civil dissension arising from religious intolerance—as early as in Holy Week, three Protestant ministers had been preaching in private houses and administering baptism. On Easter Monday a large concourse from the city and the surrounding villages publicly passed out into the suburbs—armed, if we may believe the cowardly Vicomte de Joyeuse, with corselets, arquebuses, and pikes—and celebrated the Lord's Supper "after the manner of Geneva." Neither the presidial judges nor the consuls exhibited much disposition to second the efforts of the provincial government in suppressing these manifestations.[863]

Mouvans in arms in Provence.
His message to Guise.

In Provence the commotion assumed a more military aspect, in immediate connection with the conspiracy of Amboise. Mouvans, an able leader, after failing in an attempt to gain admission to Aix, long maintained himself in the open country. Keeping up a wonderful degree of discipline in his army, he allowed his soldiers, indeed, to destroy the images in the churches and to melt down the rich reliquaries of gold and silver, but scrupulously required them to place the precious metal in the hands of the local authorities. At length, forced to capitulate to the Comte de Tende, the royal governor, he obtained the promise of security of person and[Pg 408] liberty of worship. New acts of treachery rendered his position unsafe, and he retired to Geneva. It was thence that he returned to the Duke of Guise, who professed to be eager to secure for himself the services of so able a commander, a noble answer: "So long as I know you to be an enemy of my religion and of the public peace, and to be occupying the place of right belonging to the princes of the blood, you may be assured you have an enemy in Mouvans, a poor gentleman, but able to bring against you fifty thousand good servants of the King of France, who are ready to endanger life and property in redressing the wrongs you have inflicted on the faithful subjects of his Majesty."[864]

A popular awakening.

It was impossible to ignore the fact: France had awakened from the sleep of ages. The doctrines of the Reformation were being embraced by the masses. It was impossible to repress the impulse to confess with the mouth[865] what was believed in the heart. At Rouen, the earnest request of the authorities, seconded by the prudent advice of the ministers, might prevail upon the Protestant community still to be content with an unostentatious and almost private worship, upon promise of connivance on the part of the Parliament of Normandy. But Caen, St. Lô, and Dieppe witnessed great public assemblies,[866] and Central and Southern France copied the exam[Pg 409]ple of Normandy. The time for secret gatherings and a timid worship had gone by. They were no longer in question. "When cities and almost entire provinces had embraced the faith of the reformers," a recent historian has well remarked,[867] "secret assemblies became an impossibility. A whole people cannot shut themselves up in forests and in caverns to invoke their God. From whom would they hide? From themselves? The very idea is absurd."

Pamphlets against the usurpers.
The queen mother consults La Planche.

The political ferment was not less active than the religious. The pamphlets and the representations made by the emissaries of the Guises to foreign powers, in which the movement at Amboise was branded as a conspiracy directed against the king and the royal authority, called forth a host of replies vindicating the political Huguenots, and setting their project in its true light, as an effort to overthrow the intolerable usurpation of the Guises. The tyrants were no match for the patriots in the use of the pen; but it fared ill with the author or printer of these libels, when the strenuous efforts made to discover them proved successful.[868] The politic Catharine de' Medici, fearing a new and more dreadful outburst of the popular discontent, renewed her hollow advances to the Protestant churches,[869] held a long consultation with Louis Re[Pg 410]gnier de la Planche (the eminent historian, whose profoundly philosophical and exact chronicle of this short reign leaves us only disappointed that he confined his masterly investigations to so limited a field) respecting the grounds of the existing dissatisfaction,[870] and despatched Coligny to Normandy for the purpose of finding a cure for the evil.

Edict of Romorantin, May, 1560.
No abatement of rigor.

The Guises, on the other hand, resolved to meet the difficulties of their situation with boldness. The opposition, so far as it was religious, must be repressed by legislation strictly enforced. Accordingly, in the month of May, 1560, an edict was published known as the Edict of Romorantin, from the place where the court was sojourning, but remarkable for nothing save the misapprehensions that have been entertained respecting its origin and object.[871] It restored[Pg 411] exclusive jurisdiction in matters of simple heresy to the clergy, excluding the civil courts from all participation, save to execute the sentence of the ecclesiastical judge. But it neither lightened nor aggravated the penalties affixed by previous laws. Death was still to be the fate of the convicted heretic, to whom it mattered little whether he were tried by a secular or by a spiritual tribunal, except that the forms of law were more likely to be observed by the former than by the latter. A section directed against the "assemblies" in which, under color of religion, arms were carried and the public peace threatened, declared those who took part in them to be rebels liable to the penalties of treason.[872]

Death of Chancellor Olivier.

A remarkable figure now comes upon the stage of French affairs in the person of Chancellor Michel de l'Hospital. Chancellor Olivier, who had merited universal respect while losing office in consequence of his steadfast resistance to injustice under the previous reign, had forfeited the esteem of the good by his complaisance when restored to office by the Guises at the beginning of the present reign. Overcome with remorse for the cruelties in which he had acquiesced since his reinstatement, he fell sick shortly after the tumult of Amboise. When visited during his last illness by the Cardinal of Lorraine, he coldly turned his back upon him and muttered, "Ah! Cardinal, you have caused us all to be damned."[873] He died not long afterward, and was buried[Pg 412] without regret, despised by the patriotic party on account of his unfaithfulness to early convictions, and hated by the Guises for his tardy condemnation of their measures.

Chancellor Michel de l'Hospital.

Of L'Hospital, because raised to the vacant charge by the Lorraine influence, little good was originally expected.[874] But the lapse of a few years revealed the incorruptible integrity of his character and the sagacity of his plans.[875] Elevated to the highest judicial post at a critical juncture, he accepted a dignity for which he had little ambition, only that he might the better serve his country. What he could not remedy he resolved to make as endurable as possible. It was not within the power of a single virtuous statesman to allay the storm and quiet the surging waters; but by good-will, perseverance, and nerve, he might steer the ship of state through many a narrow channel and by many a hidden rock. An ardent lover and earnest advocate of toleration, he yet considered it politic to consent to urge the Parliament of Paris, in the king's name, to register the Edict of Romorantin, in accordance with which the system of persecution was for a while to be continued. One of the original conspirators of Amboise, according to the explicit statement of a writer who saw his signature affixed to the secret papers of the confederates,[876] he made no[Pg 413] opposition to the article that pronounced the penalties of treason upon those who assembled in arms to celebrate the rites of religious worship. Yet he dissembled not from timidity, treachery, or ambition, but solely that by unremitting labor he might heal the unhappy dissensions of his country. "Patience, patience, tout ira bien," were the words he always had in his mouth for encouragement and consolation.[877]

Perplexity of the ruling family.

As the summer advanced the perplexities of the Guises increased. Every day there were new alarms. The English ambassador, not able to conceal his satisfaction at the perplexity of his queen's covert enemies, wrote to Cecil: "If I should discourse particularly unto you what these men have done since my last letters ... you would think me as fond in observing their doings as they mad in variable executing. But you may see what force fear hath that occasioned such variety.... They be in such security, as no man knoweth overnight where the king will lodge. Tomorrow from all parts they have such news as doth greatly perplex them. Every day new advertisements of new stirs, as of late again in Dauphiny, in Anjou, in Provence; and to make up their mouths, the king being in the skirts of Normandy, at Rouen, upon Corpus Christi Day, there was somewhat to do about the solemn procession, so as there was many slain in both parts. But at length the churchmen had the worse, and for an advantage, the order is by the king commanded, that the priests for their outrage shall be grievously punished. What judge you when the Cardinal of Lorraine is constrained to command to punish the clergy, and such as do find fault with others' in[Pg 414]solence, contemning the reverent usage to the holy procession!"[878]

Montbrun in the Comtât Venaissin.
Universal commotion.

New commotions had indeed arisen in the south-east, where Montbrun, a nephew of Cardinal Tournon, the inquisitor-general, had entered the small domain of the Pope, the Comtât Venaissin, as a Huguenot leader.[879] Condé had dexterously escaped the snares laid for him, and had taken refuge with his brother, Navarre.[880] Their spies reported to the Guises a state of universal commotion; and deputies from all parts of France rehearsed in the ears of the Bourbon princes the story of the usurpations of the Guises and the Protestant grievances, and urged them, by every consideration of honor and safety, to undertake to redress them.[881] The Guises had for some time been pressing the King of Spain and the Pope to forward the convening of a universal council, without which all would go to ruin.[882] In view of the great apathy displayed both by Philip and by Pius—perhaps, also, with the secret hope of enticing Navarre and Condé to come within their reach[883]—they consented to the plan which Catharine de' Medici, at the suggestion of L'Hospital and Coligny, now advocated, of summoning a council of notables to devise measures for allaying the existing excitement.[884][Pg 415]

Assembly of notables at Fontainebleau, August 21, 1560.

On the twenty-first of August this celebrated assembly was convened by royal letters in the stately palace at Fontainebleau.[885] Antoine of Navarre and the Prince of Condé declined, on specious pretexts, the king's invitation. Constable Montmorency accepted it, but came with a formidable escort of eight hundred attendants. His three nephews, the Châtillons, followed his example, and shared his protection. At the appointed hour a brilliant company was gathered in the spacious apartments of the queen mother. On either side of the king's throne sat Mary of Scots, and Catharine de' Medici, and the young princes—Charles Maximilian, Duke of Orleans, Edward Alexander, and Hercules.[886] Four cardinals, in their purple—Bourbon, Lorraine, Guise, and Châtillon—sat below. Next to these were placed the Duke of Guise, as lieutenant-general of the kingdom; the Duke of Montmorency, as constable; L'Hospital, as chancellor; Marshals St. André and Brissac; Admiral Coligny; Marillac, Archbishop of Vienne; Morvilliers, Bishop of Orleans; Montluc, Bishop of Valence; and the other members of the privy council. In front of these, the members of the Order of St. Michael, and the rest of the notables, occupied lower benches.[887]

Chancellor L'Hospital's speech.

The session opened with brief speeches delivered by Francis and his mother, setting forth the object of this extraordinary[Pg 416] convocation, but referring their auditors to the chancellor and to the king's uncles for further explanations. Chancellor L'Hospital was less concise. He entertained the assembly with a lengthy comparison of the political malady to a bodily disease,[888] pronouncing the cure to be easy, if only the cause could be detected. He closed by assigning a somewhat singular reason for summoning but two of the three orders of the state. The presence of the people, he said, was in no wise necessary, inasmuch as the king's sole object was to relieve the third estate. Because, forsooth, the poor people—bowed down to the earth with taxes and burdens, which the noblesse would not touch with one of their fingers—was the party chiefly interested in the results of the present deliberations, it was quite unessential that its complaints or requests should be heard! The Duke of Guise and his brother, the cardinal, next laid before the assembly an account of their administration of the army and finances; and the first day's session ended with the pleasant announcement that the royal revenues annually fell short of the regular expenses by the sum—very considerable for those days—of two and one-half millions of livres.

Coligny speaks and presents two petitions.

When next the notables met, two days later, the king formally proposed a free discussion of the subject in hand. The youngest member of the privy council was about to speak, when Gaspard de Coligny arose, and, advancing to the throne, twice bowed humbly to the king. By the royal orders, he said, he had lately visited Normandy and investigated the origin of the recent commotions. He had satisfied himself that they were owing to no ill-will felt toward the crown; but only to the extreme and illegal violence with which the inhabitants had been treated for religion's sake. He had, therefore, believed it to be his duty to listen to the requests of the persecuted, who offered to prove that their doctrines were conformable to the Holy Scriptures and to the traditions of the primitive church, and to take charge of the two petitions which they had drawn up and addressed to his Majesty and the[Pg 417] queen mother. They were without signatures; for these could not be affixed without the royal permission previously granted the reformed to assemble together. But, with that permission, he could obtain the names of fifty thousand persons in Normandy alone. In answer to Coligny's prayer that the king would take his action in good part, Francis assured him that his past fidelity was a sufficient pledge of his present zeal; and commanded L'Aubespine, secretary of state, to read the papers which the admiral had just placed in his hands.

The petitions are read.
They ask for liberty of worship.

The petitions,[889] addressed, one to the king, the other to the queen mother, purported to come from "the faithful Christians scattered in various parts of the kingdom." They set forth the severity of the persecutions the Huguenots had undergone, and were yet undergoing, for attempting to live according to the purity of God's word, and their supreme desire to have their doctrine subjected to examination, that it might be seen to be neither seditious nor heretical. The suppliants begged for an intermission of the cruel measures which had stained all France with blood. They professed an unswerving allegiance, as in duty bound, to the king whom God had called to the throne. And of that king they prayed that the occasion of so many calumnies, invented against them by reason of the secret and nocturnal meetings to which they had been driven by the prohibition of open assemblies, might be removed; and that, with the permission to meet publicly for the celebration of divine rites, houses for worship might also be granted to them.[890][Pg 418]

It was a perilous step for the admiral to take. By his advocacy of toleration he incurred liability to the extreme penalties that had been inflicted upon others for utterances much less courageous. But the very boldness of the movement secured his safety where more timid counsels might have brought him ruin. Besides, it was not safe to attack so gallant a warrior, and the nephew of the powerful constable. Yet the audible murmurs of the opposite party announced their ill-will.

Speech of Montluc, Bishop of Valence.
The remedy prescribed.

The fearlessness of the admiral, however, kindled to a brighter flame the courage of others. Strange as it may appear, toleration and reform found their warmest and most uncompromising advocates on the episcopal bench.[891] Montluc, Bishop of Valence, drew a startling contrast between the means that had been taken to propagate the new doctrines, and those by which the attempt had been made to eradicate them. For thirty years, three or four hundred ministers of irreproachable morals, indomitable courage, and notable diligence in the study of the Holy Scriptures, had been attracting disciples by the sweet name of Jesus continually upon their lips, and had easily gained over a people that were as sheep without a shepherd. Meanwhile, popes had been engrossed in war and in sowing discord between princes; the ministers of justice had made use of the severe enactments of the kings against heresy[Pg 419] to enrich themselves and their friends; and bishops, instead of showing solicitude for their flocks, had sought only to preserve their revenues. Forty bishops might have been seen at one time congregated at Paris and indulging in scandalous excesses, while the fire was kindling in their dioceses.[892] The inferior clergy, who bought their curacies at Rome, added ignorance to avarice.[893] The ecclesiastical office became odious and contemptible when prelates conferred benefices on their barbers, cooks, and footmen. What must be done to avert the just anger of God? Let the king, in the first place, see that God's name be no longer blasphemed as heretofore. Let God's Word be published and expounded. Let there be daily sermons in the palace, to stop the mouths of those who assert that, near the king, God is never spoken of. Let the singing of psalms take the place of the foolish songs sung by the maids of the queens; for to prohibit the singing of psalms, which the Fathers extol, would be to give the seditious a good pretext for saying that the war was waged not against men, but against God, inasmuch as the publication and the hearing of His praises were not tolerated. A second remedy was to be found in a universal council, or, if the sovereign pontiff continued to refuse so just a demand, in a national council, to which the most learned of the new sect should be offered safe access. As to punishments, while the seditious, who took up arms under color of religion, ought to be repressed, experience had taught how unavailing was the persecution of those who embraced their views from conscientious motives, and history[Pg 420] showed that three hundred and eighteen bishops at the Council of Nice, one hundred and fifty at Constantinople, and six hundred and thirty at Chalcedon, refused to employ other weapons, against the worst of convicted heretics, than the word of God. Montluc closed his eloquent discourse by opposing the proposition to grant the right of public assembly, because of the dangers to which it might lead; but advocated a wise discrimination in the punishment of offenders, according to their respective numbers and apparent motives.[894]

Address of Archbishop Marillac.

The Archbishop of Vienne, the virtuous Marillac, an elegant and effective orator, made a still more cogent speech. He regarded the General Council as the best remedy for present dissensions; but it was in vain to expect one, since, between the Pope, the emperor, the kings, and the Lutherans, the right time, place, and method of holding it could never be agreed upon by all; and France was like a man desperately ill, whose fever admitted of no delay that a physician might be called in from a distance. Hence, the usual resort to a national council, in spite of the Pope's discontent, was imperative. France could not afford to die in order to please his Holiness.[895] Meanwhile, the prelates must be obliged to reside in their dioceses; nor must the Italians, those leeches that absorbed one-third of all the benefices and an infinite number of pensions, be exempted from the operation of the general rule.[896] Would paid troops be permitted thus to absent themselves from their posts in the hour of danger? Simony must be abolished at once, as a token of sincerity in the desire to reform the church. Otherwise Christ would come down and drive his unworthy servants from His church, as He once drove the money-changers from the temple. Especially must church[Pg 421]men repent with fasting, and take up the word of God, which is a sword, "whereas, at present," said the speaker, "we have only the scabbard—in mitres and croziers, in rochets and tiaras." Everything that tended to disturb the public tranquillity, whether from seditious leaders, or from equally seditious zealots, must be repressed.

The States General must be called.

Nor was the advice given by Marillac for securing the continued obedience of the people less sound. He regarded the assembling of the States General as indispensable, in view of the great debts and burdens of the people. He warned the king's counsellors lest the people, accustomed to have its complaints of grievances unattended to, should begin to lose the hope of relief, and lest the proverbial promptness and gentleness which the French nation had always shown in meeting the king's necessities should be so badly met and so frequently offended as at last to turn into rage and despair.[897]

Speech of Admiral Coligny.

Such was "the learned, wise, and Christian harangue," as the chronicler well styles it, of "an old man eloquent," whom, like another Isocrates, "the dishonest victory" of his country's real enemies was destined to "kill with report." The profound impression it made was deepened by the speech of Admiral Coligny, whose turn it was, on the next day (the twenty-fourth of August), to announce his sentiments, he declared himself ready to pledge life and all he held most dear, that the hatred of the people was in no wise directed against the king, but against his ministers, whom he loudly blamed for surrounding their master with a guard, as though he needed this protection against his loyal subjects. Supporting the proposition of the Archbishop of Vienne for assembling the States General, the admiral advocated, in addition, the im[Pg 422]mediate dismissal of the guard, in order to remove all jealousy between king and people, and the discontinuance of persecution, until such time as a council—general or national—might be assembled. Meanwhile, he advised that the requests of the reformed, whose petitions he had presented, be granted; that the Protestants be allowed to assemble for the purpose of praying to God, hearing the preaching of His word, and celebrating the holy sacraments. If houses of worship were given them in every place, and the judges were instructed to see to the maintenance of the peace, he felt confident that the kingdom would at once become quiet and the subjects be satisfied.[898]

Rejoinder of the Duke of Guise.

The Guises spoke on the same day. The duke made a short, but passionate rejoinder to Coligny, and gave little or no attention to the question proposed for deliberation. He bitterly retorted to the proposal for the dismissal of the body-guard, by saying that it had been placed around the king only since the discovery of the treasonable plot of Amboise, and he indignantly maintained that a conspiracy against ministers was only a cover for designs against their master. As for the announcement of the admiral that he could bring fifty thousand names to his petitions, which he construed as a personal threat, he angrily replied that if that or a greater number of the Huguenot sect should present themselves, the king would oppose them with a million men of his own.[899] The question of religion he left to be discussed by others of more learning; but well was he assured that not all the councils of the world would detach him from the ancient faith. The assembling of the States he referred to the king's discretion.[900]

The Cardinal of Lorraine is more politic.

The cardinal was more politic, and suppressed the manifestation of that deadly hatred which, from this time forward, the[Pg 423] brothers cherished against Coligny. He declared, however, that, although the petitioners laid claim to such loyalty, their true character was apparent from the affair at Amboise, as well as from the daily issue of libellous pamphlets and placards, of which he had not less than twenty-two on his table directed against himself, which he carefully preserved as his best eulogium and claim to immortality. He advocated the severe repression of the seditious; yet, with a stretch of hypocrisy and mendacity uncommon even with a Guise, he expressed himself as for his own part very sorry that such "grievous executions" had been inflicted upon those who went "without arms and from fear of being damned to hear preaching, or who sang psalms, neglected the mass, or engaged in other observances of theirs," and as being in favor of no longer inflicting such useless punishments! Nay, he would that his life or death might be of some service in bringing back the wanderers to the path of truth. He opposed a council as unnecessary—it could not do otherwise than decide as its predecessors—but consented to a convocation of the clergy for the reformation of manners. The States General he thought might well be gathered to see with what prudence the administration of public affairs had been carried on.[901]

Results of the Assembly of Fontainebleau.
The States General to be convened.

With the Cardinal of Lorraine the discussion ended. All the knights of the order of St. Michael acquiesced in his opinions,[Pg 424] but indulged in no farther remarks. On the twenty-sixth of August the decision was announced. The States General were to convene on the tenth of December, at Meaux, or such other city as the king might hereafter prefer. A month later (on the twentieth of January) the prelates were to come together wherever the king might be, thence to proceed to the national, or to the general council, if such should be held. Meanwhile, in each bailiwick and "sénéchaussée," the three orders were to be separately assembled, in order to prepare minutes of their grievances, and elect delegates to the States General; and all legal proceedings and all punishment for the matter of religion were to be suspended save in the case of those who assembled in arms and were seditious.[902]

Such was the history of this famous assembly, in which, for the first time, the Huguenots found a voice; where views were calmly expressed respecting toleration and the necessity of a council, which a year before had been punished with death; where the chief persecutor of the reformed doctrines, carried away by the current, was induced to avow liberal principles.[903] This was progress enough for a single year. The enterprise of Amboise was not all in vain.

New alarms.
Antoine and Condé summoned to court.

The Assembly of Fontainebleau had not dispersed when the court was thrown into fresh alarm. An agent of the King of Navarre, named La Sague, was discovered almost by accident,[Pg 425] who, after delivering letters from his master to various friends in the neighborhood of Paris, was about to return southward with their friendly responses. He had imprudently given a treacherous acquaintance to understand that a formidable uprising was contemplated; and letters found upon his person seemed to bear out the assertion. The most cruel tortures were resorted to in order to elicit accusations against the Bourbons from suspected persons.[904] Among others, François de Vendôme, Vidame of Chartres, one of the correspondents, was (on the twenty-seventh of August) thrown into the Bastile.[905] Three days later a messenger was despatched by the king to Antoine of Navarre, requesting him at once to repair to the capital, and to bring with him his brother Condé, against whom the charge had for six months been rife, that he was the head of secret enterprises, set on foot to disturb the peace of the realm.[906] At the same time an urgent request was sent to Philip the Second for assistance.[907][Pg 426]

Philip adverse to a national council.
Projects to crush all heresy and its abettors.

Nor was his Catholic Majesty reluctant to grant help—at least on paper. But he accompanied his promises with advice. In particular, he sent Don Antonio de Toledo to dissuade the French government from holding a national council in Paris for the reformation of religion, as he understood it was proposed to do during the coming winter. This, he represented, would be prejudicial to their joint interests; "for, should the French alter anything, the King of Spain would be constrained to admit the like in all his countries." To which it was replied in Francis's name, that "he would first assemble his three estates, and there propone the matter to see what would be advised for the manner of a calling a general council, not minding without urgent necessity to assemble a council national." As to the Spanish help, conditioned on the prudence of the French government, the Argus-eyed Throkmorton, who by his paid agents could penetrate into the boudoirs of his fellow-diplomatists and read their most cherished secrets,[908] wrote to Queen Elizabeth that a gentleman had reported to him that he had seen "at the Pope's nuncio's hands a letter from the nuncio in Spain, wherein the aids were promised, and that the King of Spain had written to the French king that he would not only help him to suppress all heresy, trouble, and rebellion in France, but also join him to cause all such others as will not submit to the See Apostolic to come to order." In fact, Throkmorton was enabled to say just how many men were to come from Flanders, and how many from Spain, and how many were to enter by way of Narbonne, and how many by way of Navarre.[Pg 427] Quick work was to be made of schism, heresy, and rebellion in France. "This done, and the parties for religion clean overthrown," added the ambassador, "these princes have already accorded to convert their power towards England and Geneva, which they take to be the occasioners and causers of all their troubles."[909]

Navarre's irresolution embarrasses Montbrun.

The King of Navarre had, even before the receipt of the royal summons, discovered the mistake he had committed in not listening to the counsel, and copying the example of the constable, who had come to Fontainebleau well attended by retainers. Unhappily, the irresolution into which he now fell led to the loss of a capital opportunity. The levies ordered by Francis in Dauphiny, for the purpose of assisting the papal legate in expelling Montbrun from the "Comtât," enabled the Sieur de Maligny to collect a large Huguenot force without attracting notice. It had been arranged that these troops should be first employed in seizing the important city of Lyons for the King of Navarre. A part of the Huguenot soldiers had, indeed, already been secretly introduced into the city,[910] when letters were received from the irresolute Antoine indefinitely postponing the undertaking. After having for several days deliberated respecting his best course of conduct in these unforeseen circumstances, Maligny decided to withdraw as quietly as he had come; but a porter, who had caught a glimpse of the arms collected in one of the places of rendezvous, informed the commandant of the city. In the street engagement which ensued the Huguenots were successful, and for several hours held possession of the city from the Rhône to the Saône. Finding it impossible, however, to collect the whole force to carry out his original design, Maligny retired under cover of the night, and was so fortunate as to suffer little loss.[911][Pg 428]

The people not discouraged.
"The fashion of Geneva."
Books from Geneva destroyed.

Maligny's failure disconcerted Montbrun and Mouvans, with whom he had intended to co-operate, but had little effect in repressing the courage of the Huguenot people. Of this the royal despatches are the best evidence. Francis wrote to Marshal de Termes that since the Assembly of Fontainebleau there had been public and armed gatherings in an infinite number of places, where previously there had been only secret meetings. In Périgord, Agenois, and Limousin, an infinite number of scandalous acts were daily committed by the seditious, who in most places lived after the fashion of Geneva. Such canaille must be "wiped out."[912] A month later those pestilent "books from Geneva" turn up again. Count de Villars, acting for Constable Montmorency in his province of Languedoc, had burned two mule-loads of very handsomely bound volumes, much to the regret of many of the Catholic troopers, who grudged the devouring flames a sacrifice worth more than a thousand crowns.[913] But he quickly followed up the chronicle of this valiant action with a complaint of his impotence to reduce the sectaries to submission. The Huguenots of Nismes had taken courage, and guarded their gates. So, or even worse, was it of Montpellier[914] and Pézénas. Other cities were about to follow their example.[Pg 429]

Fifteen cities in one province receive ministers.
The children learn religion in the Geneva catechism.

These were but the beginnings of evil. Three days passed, and the Lieutenant-Governor of Languedoc sent a special messenger to the king, to inform him of the rapid progress of the contagion. Fifteen of the most considerable cities of the province had openly received ministers.[915] Ten thousand foot and five hundred horse would be needed to reduce them, and, when taken, they must be held by garrisons, and punished by loss of their municipal privileges.[916] A fortnight more elapsed. Three or four thousand inhabitants of Nismes had retired in arms to the neighboring Cevennes.[917] When they descended into the plain, a larger number, who had submitted on the approach of the soldiery, would unite with them and form a considerable army. "Heresy, alas, gains ground daily," despondingly writes Villars; "the children learn religion only in the catechism brought from Geneva; all know it by heart." The cause of the evil he seemed to find in the circumstance—undoubtedly favorable to the Huguenots—that, of twenty-two bishops whose dioceses lay in Languedoc, all but five or six were non-residents.[918]

To all which lamentations the answer came back after the[Pg 430] accustomed fashion: "Slay, hang without respect to the forms of law; send lesser culprits, if preferable, to the galleys."[919]

In Normandy, too, it began to be impossible for the Huguenots to conceal themselves. At Rouen, in spite of the severe penalties threatened, seven thousand persons gathered in the new market-place, on the twenty-sixth of August, "singing psalms, and with their preacher in the midst on a chair preaching to them," while five hundred men with arquebuses stood around the crowd "to guard them from the Papists." A few days before, at the opening of the great fair of Jumièges, a friar, according to custom, undertook to deliver a sermon; but the people, not liking his doctrine, "pulled him out of the pulpit and placed another in his place."[920]

Elections for the States General.

Nor was the courage of the Huguenots less clearly manifested a little later in the elections preparatory to the holding of the States General. In spite of strict injunctions issued by the Cardinal of Lorraine to the officers in each bailiwick and sénéchaussée, to prevent the debate of grievances from touching upon the authority of the Guises or that of the Church, and especially to defeat the election of any but undoubted friends of the Roman Church, his friends were successful in neither attempt. The voice of the oppressed people made itself heard in thunder-tones at Blois, at Angers,[921] and elsewhere. Even in Paris—the stronghold of the Roman faith—the reformed ventured, in face of a vast numerical majority against them, to urge in the Hôtel-de-Ville the insertion of their remonstrances in the "cahiers" of the city. Of thirteen provinces, ten addressed such complaints to the States General.[922]

Clerical demands at Poitiers.

But the clerical order did not forget its old demands, even where the Tiers État leaned to toleration. The provincial[Pg 431] estates of Poitou, meeting in the Dominican convent of Poitiers, presented a contrast of this kind. The delegates of the people, after listening to the eloquent appeal of an intrepid Huguenot pastor, determined to petition the States General for the free exercise of the reformed religion. The representatives of the church made its complaints regarding the "ravishing wolves, false preachers, and their adherents, who are to-day in so great numbers that there are not so many true sheep knowing the voice of their shepherds." The "mild and holy admonitions" of the church having been thrown away upon these reprobates, the clergy proposed to open a register of all that should neglect to receive the sacrament at Easter, and to attend the church services with regularity. And it made the modest demand that all persons honored with an entry in this book should, as heretics, be deprived of all right to make contracts, that their wills be declared hull and void, and that all their property—in particular all houses in which preaching had been held—be confiscated. Of course, the aid of the secular arm was invoked, in view of "the great number and power of the said heretics."[923]

Theodore Beza invited to Nérac.
Jeanne d'Albret.

On the twentieth of July, at the urgent request of the King and Queen of Navarre, the "Venerable Company of the Pastors of Geneva" had sent the eloquent Theodore Beza to Gascony "to instruct" the royal family in the word of God.[924] In the dress of a nobleman he had traversed France and reached Nérac in safety. Here he at once exercised a powerful influence upon the king. The fickle mind of Antoine was susceptible of no deep impressions; but it was very easily affected for the time. His queen, Jeanne d'Albret, was his very opposite in mental and moral constitution. Whereas the very first blast threw him into a fervor of enthusiastic devotion to the purer faith, the heart of the queen—a woman not made to be led, but to lead—yielded slowly to the melting influences of the Gospel. But it never lost its[Pg 432] glow. Jeanne came very reluctantly to the determination to cast in her lot with the Reformation. She hesitated to risk the loss of her possessions, and regretted to abandon the attractions of the world. When, however, the decision was once made, the question was never reopened for fresh deliberation.[925]

Antoine's short-lived zeal.
New pressure upon Navarre and Condé.
Navarre's concessions.

At this time, Antoine, we are told, renounced the mass, and was supposed to think, as he certainly spoke, of nothing but the means of advancing the cause in which he had embarked. Beza preached before him in one of the churches, and all signs pointed to the rapid establishment of the Reformation on a firm basis. The eloquent orator added his persuasion to the entreaties of the representatives of the Protestant churches of France and the exhortations of Constable Montmorency. All had urged Antoine to make his appearance at Fontainebleau with a powerful escort. We have seen the ill-success with which the joint effort was attended. The spies whom the Guises kept in pay around the King of Navarre, in the persons of his most intimate advisers, deterred him from a movement which they portrayed as fraught with peril. A few days after the conclusion of the assembly came the king's summons. To this Antoine at first replied that, if the accusers of his brother, of whose innocence he was fully persuaded, would declare themselves, and if he were assured that impartial justice would be shown, he would come to the court in company with few attendants. Condé wrote, at the same time, and expressed perfect confidence in his ability to disprove all the allegations against him, provided a safe access to the court was afforded him. On this point the suspicions of the Bourbon princes were soon set at rest by new letters from the king and his mother, assuring them that they would find not only security, but an opportunity to refute charges which Francis and Catharine professed themselves unwilling to credit.[926] To these reassuring words were[Pg 433] joined the solicitations of their own brother, the shallow Cardinal of Bourbon,[927] and of the Cardinal of Armagnac. The princes, already discouraged by tidings of the failure of the projects of Montbrun, Mouvans and Maligny in the east, lent too ready an ear to these suggestions. The first open manifestation of weakness was when the King and Queen of Navarre, with their son, young Prince Henry of Béarn, consented to hear mass in the presence of many of their courtiers. But the extent of Antoine's concessions was, for a time, kept concealed from his followers. At the very moment when Beza was diligently visiting the well affected nobles, and urging them to lend prompt assistance, the Guises were exulting, with joy mingled with fear, over the promise given by Antoine to the Count of Crussol, that he would come, with an insignificant escort to Orleans, whither Francis had advanced. The tidings appeared too good to be true.[928] For, although the French king had received assurances of assistance from Philip—who was reported by the French envoy at Toledo to be favorable to the exercise of any severity against the Bourbon princes,[929] so great[Pg 434] was his personal enmity toward them—yet the same ambassador had not failed to inform Charles that the troops ostensibly prepared for a French campaign were really intended for Italy and to make good the Spanish monarch's losses in Africa. On the other hand, unless Philip could send six hundred thousand or seven hundred thousand crowns to Flanders to pay arrearages and debts, he could not move a soldier across the lines from that quarter.[930]

The Huguenot gentry offer him aid.
He dismisses his escort.

The strictest orders had been given to the commandants of important points, such as Bordeaux and Poitiers, through which Antoine might intend passing, to guard them against him, in case of his showing any inclination to come otherwise than peaceably.[931] These precautions, however, proved unnecessary. Antoine intended to abide by his engagement. When by slow stages he had at length reached Limoges, he found a number of friendly noblemen awaiting him. In a few days more seven or eight hundred gentlemen had come in, well equipped and armed. They begged him at once to declare for the liberation of France, according to his previous promises. The nobility, they said, were only waiting for the word of command. Meanwhile Gascony, Poitou, and the coasts offered six or seven thousand foot soldiers, already enrolled under captains, and prepared to defend him against present attack. Provence and Languedoc would march to his assistance with three or four thousand horse and foot. Normandy would raise as many more. He would at once become so formidable that, without a blow, he could assume the guardianship of the king. Bourges and Orleans would fall into his hands, and the States General be held free of constraint. The very forces of the enemy would desert the sinking cause of the hated Guises. As for the necessary funds, with the best filled purses in France at his command, he could scarcely feel any lack. The suggestions of the Huguenot lords, backed by the entreaties of Beza, were,[Pg 435] however, overborne by the secret insinuations of his treacherous counsellors. At Verteuil—a few leagues beyond—Navarre clearly announced his intentions, and dismissed his numerous friends with hearty thanks for their kind attentions. He would ask the king's pardon for those who had accompanied him thus far in arms. "Pardon!" replied one of the gentlemen, "think only of very humbly asking it for yourself, who are going to give yourself up as a prisoner with the halter around your neck. So far as I can see, you have more need of it than we have, who have determined not to sell our lives at so cheap a rate, but to die fighting rather than submit to the mercy of those detested enemies of the king. And since we are miserably forsaken by our leaders, we hope that God will raise up others to free us from the oppression of these tyrants."[932] This retort proving futile, as did also the warning of the Princess of Condé, who wrote and sent a messenger to her husband to escape from the toils of his enemies while it was still possible, the Huguenot gentry retired in disgust; and Beza seized the first opportunity (on the seventeenth of October) to steal away from the King of Navarre, and undertake his perilous return to Geneva, which he succeeded in reaching after a series of hair-breadth escapes.[933]

Infatuation of the Bourbons.

The King of Navarre had disregarded the counsels of Calvin and other prudent advisers, who believed that, if he presented himself with a powerful escort at the gates of Orleans, the Guises would yield without a blow.[934] Antoine felt confident that his enemies would never venture to lay hands on a prince of the royal blood. His blind infatuation seemed to infect Condé also. Their presumption was somewhat shaken when the royal governor of Poitiers forbade[Pg 436] their entrance into that city. But the depth of the ruin into which they had plunged was more clearly revealed to their eyes as they began to approach Orleans. Friendly voices whispered the existence of a plan for their destruction; friendly hands offered to effect their escape to Angers, and thence into Normandy.[935] But the die was cast. Hostile troops enveloped them, and they resolved to continue their journey.

They reach Orleans.
Condé arrested.

Navarre had figured upon the journey much as a provost-marshal leading his brother to prison.[936] Now the imaginary resemblance was turned into a sad reality. On Thursday, the thirty-first of October, the Bourbons reached Orleans.[937] Their reception soon convinced them that they had placed their heads in the jaws of the lion. None of the courtiers save the cardinal, their brother, and La Roche-sur-Yon, their cousin, deigned to do them honor. That very day, after a few angry accusations from Francis, and a courageous vindication of his conduct by the chivalrous prince, Condé was arrested in the king's presence and by his order.[938] The King of Navarre also was, indeed, little better than a prisoner, so closely did he find himself watched.[939] In vain did Navarre remonstrate and plead the royal promise of security, offering himself to become a surety for his brother; the king denied redress. Then it was that Condé turned to the Cardinal of Bourbon, one of the few that had come to do him honor and said: "Sir, by your assurances you have delivered up your own