History of the rise of the huguenots



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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.3 Herself securing not only the rank of Duchess of

Valentinois, with the authority of a queen,4 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


1 "Et seroit à desirer que ceste femme et le cardinal

n'eussent jamais esté; car ces deux seuls out esté les flamesches de nos

malheurs." De l'Aubespine, iii. 286. The reader will, after this, make

little account of the extravagant panegyric by the Father Alby (inserted

by Migne in his Dict. des Card., s. v. Lorraine); yet he may be amused

at the precise contradiction between the estimate of the cardinal's

political services made by this ecclesiastic and that of the practical

statesman given above. He seems to the priest born for the good of

others: "ayant pour cela merité de la postérité toutes les louanges d'un

homme né pour le bien des autres, et le titre même de cardinal de

France, qui lui fut donné par quelques écrivains de son temps." This

blundering eulogist makes him to have been assigned by Francis I. as

counsellor of his son.

2 Brantôme, Hommes illustres (Œuvres, viii. 63).

3 Mém. de Vieilleville, i. 179.

4 La Planche, 205.

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.1 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.2 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.3

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


1 Mém. de Vieilleville, i. 186-189.

2 "Pour du tout s'asseurer, ils se jettèrent du

commencement au party de ceste femme; et specialement le cardinal, qui

estoit des plus parfaicts en l'art de courtiser. Comme tel il se

gehenna tellement par l'espace de près de deux ans, que ne tenant point

de table pour sa personne, il disnoit à la table de Madame; ainsi

estoit-elle appellée par la Royne mesme." L'Aubespine, Hist.

particulière, iii. 281.

3 "Ne pouvant doresenavant estre aultre mon intérest que le

vostre. De quoy Dieu soit loué," etc. Letter of the Card. of Lorraine,

Bulletin de la Soc. de l'hist. du prot. franç., ix. (1860), 216.

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 humane1 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.2
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.3 One

of Henry's first acts was to establish a




1 De Thou, i. 496. Henry was a religious prince also, according to Dandolo. The ambassador's
standard, however, was not a very severe one: "Sua maestà si dimostra religiosa, non cavalca
la domenica, almen la mattina." Relaz. Venete, ii. 173.

2 Histoire ecclés. des égl. réf., i, 43, 44.

3 Une chambre spéciale composée de "dix ou douze

conseillers des plus sçavants et des plus zélés, pour connoistre du

faict d'hérésie, sans qu'elle pust vacquer à d'autres affaires." Reg.

secr., 17 avril, 1545; Floquet, Hist. du. parl. de Normandie, ii. 241.

similar chamber in the Parliament of Paris.1 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."2 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.3 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,4 was largely




1 In the preamble to the edict of Paris issued two years

later, Henry rehearses the ordinance and its motives: "Et pour ceste

cause dès nostre nouvel avénement à la couronne, voulans à l'exemple et

imitation de feu nostredit seigneur et père, travailler et prester la

main à purger et nettoier nostre royaume d'une telle peste, nous aurions

pour plus grande et prompte expédition desdites matières et procez sur

le fait desdites hérésies, erreurs et fausses doctrines ordonné et

estably une chambre particulière en nostre parlement à Paris, pour

seulement vaquer ausdites expéditions, sans se divertir à autres

actes." Isambert, xiii. 136. Cf. Martin, Hist. de France, ix. 516.



2 Martin, Hist. de France, ix. 516.

3 Edict of Fontainebleau, Dec. 11, 1547. Isambert, xiii. 37, 38.

4 A singular illustration of this device is given in a

letter recently discovered. In 1542 a printer, to secure for his edition

of the Protestant liturgy and psalter a more ready entrance into Roman

Catholic cities, added the whimsical imprint: "Printed in Rome, with

privilege of the Pope"!--Naturally enough, this very circumstance

aroused suspicion at the gates of Metz, and 600 copies were stopped. The

ultimate fate of the books is unknown. Letter of Peter Alexander, May

25, 1542, Baum, Cunitz, and Reuss, Calvini Opera, vi. p. xv. A single

copy of this Roman edition has recently come to light. It proves to be

the earliest edition thus far discovered of Calvin's Strasbourg Liturgy,

the prototype of his Geneva Liturgy. O. Douen, Clement Marot et le

Psautier huguenot (Paris, 1878), i. 334-339; and farther on in note at

the close of this chapter.

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.1 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.2 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 courtiers

1 Crespin, fols. 152-155. De Thou (i. 446) mistakes the

date of the sentence of the Parliament of Paris, March 3, 1548 (1547 Old

Style), for that of the execution. The awkward old French practice of

making the year begin with Easter, instead of January 1st, has in

this, as in many other instances, led to great confusion, even in the

minds of those who were perfectly familiar with the custom. The

"Histoire ecclésiastique," for instance, places the execution of

Brugière in the reign of Francis I., whereas it belongs to the first

year of the reign of his son. So does White, Massacre of St.

Bartholomew, p. 19.



2 Crespin, fol. 156.

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.1 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


1 Inedited letter of Constable Montmorency of July 8, 1549,

in the Bulletin de la Soc. de l'hist. du prot. fr., ix. (1860) 124, 125.

"Voilà," says this document, "le debvoir où ledit seigneur s'est mis

pour continuer la possession de ce nom et titre de Très-Chrestien."

affirmed with an oath that never again would he witness so

horrible a scene.1 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."2
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.3 Less than two


1 Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 50, 51. Crespin, fol. 157, etc. The registers of parliament can
spare for the auto-da-fé but a few lines at the conclusion of a lengthy description of the
magnificent procession, and inaccurately designate the locality: "Cette aprèsdinée

fut faicte exécution d'aucuns condamnez au feu pour crime d'hérésie, tant au parvis N. D.


que en la place devant Ste. Catherine du Val des Escolliers." Reg. of Parl., July 4, 1549
(Félibien, Preuves, iv. 745, 746).

2 Anne Audeberte and Louis de Marsac. Hist. ecclés. Des égl. réf., i. 52, 58; Crespin, fols. 156, 227-234.

3 Isambert, Recueil gén. des anc. lois fr., xiii. 134-138. Of course the provision giving to church
courts the right of arrest, so opposed to the spirit of the "Gallican Liberties," displeased

parliament, which duly remonstrated (Preuves des libertez de l'ég. gall., iii. 171), but


was compelled to register the law, with conditions forbidding the exaction of pecuniary
fines, and the sentence of perpetual imprisonment.

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.1 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.2 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.3 Thus


1 De Thou, i. 167. Hist. ecclés., i. 53.

2 De Thou, ubi supra. Mézeray well remarks that the

Protestants recognized the fact then, as they always have done since, in

similar circumstances, that there is no more disastrous time for them than when the court
of France has a misunderstanding with that of Rome. Abrégé chronologique, iv. 664.

3 "A right of appeal to the supreme courts has hitherto

been, and still is, granted to persons guilty of poisoning, of forgery,

and of robbery; yet this is denied to Christians; they are condemned by

the ordinary judges to be dragged straight to the flames, without any

liberty of appeal.... All are commanded, with more than usual

earnestness, to adore the breaden god on bended knee. All parish priests

are commanded to read the Sorbonne Articles every Sabbath for the

benefit of the people, that a solemn abnegation of Christ may thus

resound throughout the land.... Geneva is alluded to more than ten times

in the edict, and always with a striking mark of reproach." Calvin's

Letters (Bonnet), Eng. tr., iii. 319, 320. I cannot agree with Soldan

(Geschichte des Prot. in Frankreich, i. 228) in the statement that the

Edict of Châteaubriand left the jurisdiction essentially as fixed by the

ordinance of Nov. 19, 1549. For the edict does not, as he asserts,

permit "the civil judges--presidial judges as well as

parliaments--equally with the spiritual, to commence every process." It

deprives the ecclesiastical judge, 1st, of the right which the ordinance

of 1549 had conferred, of initiating any process where scandal,

sedition, etc., were joined to simple heresy, and these cases--under the

interpretation of the law--constituted a large proportion of cases; 2d,

of the right of deciding with the secular judges in these last-named

cases; and 3d, of the power of arrest. De Thou, himself a president of

parliament (ii. 375, liv. xvi.), therefore styles it "un édit, par

lequel le Roi se réservoit une entière connoissance du Luthéranisme, et

l'attribuoit à ses juges, sans aucune exception, à moins que l'hérésie

dont il s'agissoit ne demandât quelque éclaircissement, ou que les

coupables ne fussent dans les ordres sacrés."

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."1 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


1 Milton's Areopagitica. This was the view somewhat

bitterly expressed in one of the poems of the "Satyres Chrestiennes de

la cuisine Papale " (Geneva, 1560; reprinted 1857), addressed "aux

Rostisseurs," p. 130:

"Je cognoy, Cagots, que mes liures

Vous sont fascheusement nouueaux.

Bruslez, si en serez deliures

Pour en servir de naueaux.

Mais scavez-vous que c'est, gros veaux,

Fuyez le feu qui s'en fera:

Car la fumée en vos cerueauz

Seulmient vous estouffera."

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.1

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