punishment of dissent. Alarmed by the progress of "Lutheran" sentiments
to his jurisdiction in other cases.4
1 Francis I. to Council of Berne, Marseilles, Oct. 20,
1533, MS. Berne Archives, Herminjard, iii. 95, 96.
words, "Rude lettre du Roi, ... relative aux Farel," the council was
intercede for a brother of Farel. Herminjard, iii. 96, note.
preachers had lately held forth in the pulpits of the capital. See, for
instance, Bucer to Blaurer, Jan., 1534, Herminjard, Corresp. des
réformateurs, iii. 130.
MS. Dupuy Coll., Bibl. nat., Bulletin de la Soc. de l'hist. du prot.
franç., i. 437. His orders to parliament of same date, Herminjard,
Corresp. des réformateurs, iii. 114, etc.
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."1
Elegies on Louis de Berquin.
The number of extant poems on the death of Louis de Berquin attests
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
Se sont plus fort esmeus et embrasez.
light of inedited documents. They are of special interest because
elder brother of the more famous Admiral massacred on St.
Bartholomew's day. Cardinal Châtillon, created such when only
Protestant and a prominent Huguenot leader.
(Septem con. Theb., 416, etc.), or the Titans in conflict with the
Debuit. Excellens Jupiter egit opus.
Et cedrina petens famæ monimenta perennis.
Insigni optabat sanctior esse Numa.
Hæreseos fœda labe volutus erat.
Inviolata fides æterno permanet ævo.
Distulit adversa in tempora longa vice.
Traduxitque illuc sors malesuada virum.
Fortunæ. Vinci magnus uterque nequit."
Parisia extincto gaudeat hoste phalanx.
Francorum reliquas inficiebat oves.
Quin purgaretur lucidiore foco.
touching. It is printed in the Bulletin, xi. 129-131.
MELANCHTHON'S ATTEMPT AT CONCILIATION, AND THE YEAR OF
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
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
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
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
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
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
Melanchthon to Du Bellay, Aug. 1, 1534, Opera
(Bretschneider, Corpus Reformatorum), ii. 740.
must be reserved for the future council of the church to untie or cut.1
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!2
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
1 This is only a brief summary of the most essential points in these strange articles,
which may be read entire in Melanch. Opera, ubi supra, ii. 744-766.
2 Ibid., ii. 775, 776.
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.1 Under the circumstances, it was not strange
that the "Lutheran" placard was hastily torn down by some zealot, with
See the interesting letter of a young Strasbourg student
at Paris, Pierre Siderander, May 28, 1533, Herminjard, Correspondance
des réformateurs, iii. 58, 59. The refrain of one placard,
"Au feu, au feu! c'est leur répère!
Faiz-en justice! Dieu l'a permys,"
gave Clément Marot occasion to reply in a couple of short pieces, the
"En l'eau, en l'eau, ces folz séditieux."
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;1 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.2
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.3
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
1 Crespin, Actiones et Monimenta (Ed. of 1560), fol. 64.
2 Bulletin, ix. 27, 28.
3 Merle d'Aubigné, on the authority of the hostile
Florimond de Ræmond, ascribes it to Farel. But the style and mode of
treatment are quite in contrast with those of Farel's "Sommaire,"
republished almost precisely at this date; while many sentences are
taken verbatim from another treatise, "Petit Traicte de l'Eucharistie,"
unfortunately anonymous, but which there is good reason to suppose was
written by Marcourt. The author of the latter avows his authorship of
the placard. See the full discussion by Herminjard, Correspondance des
réformateurs, iii. 225, note, etc.
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.1 Remonstrance, however, proved
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
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 robbers
Courault was foremost in his opposition. Crespin,
Actiones et Monimenta, fols. 64, 65.
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!"1 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
"Qui estes pire que bestes, en vos badinages lesquels
vous faites à l'entour de vostre dieu de paste, duquel vous vous jouez
comme un chat d'une souris: faisans des marmiteux, et frappans contre
vostre poictrine, après l'avoir mis en trois quartiers, comme estans
bien marris, l'appelans Agneau de Dieu, et lui demandans la paix."
terrifies them; by which their reign shall shortly be destroyed forever."1