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
other hand, regarded his escape from the estrapade as proof positive
that not only Henry, but even the Cardinal of Lorraine, was lukewarm in
the defence of the faith! Read the following misspelt sentences from a
letter of Card. La Bourdaisière, the French envoy to Rome, to the
constable (Feb. 25, 1559), now among the MSS. of the National Library of
Paris. The Pope had sent expressly for the ambassador: "Il me declara
que cestoit pour me dire quil sebayssoit grandement comme sa magesté ne
faysoit autre compte de punyr les hereticques de son Royaume et que
limpunite de monsieur dandelot donnoit une tres mauvayse reputation a
sadicte mageste devant laquelle ledict Sr. dandelot avoit confessé
destre sacramentayre et qui leust (qu 'il l'eût) mené tout droit au
feu comme il meritoit ... que monsieur le cardinal de Lorrayne,
lequel sa Saincteté a fait son Inquisiteur, ne se sauroit excuser quil
nayt grandement failly ayant layssé perdre une si belle occasion dun
exemple si salutayre et qui luy pouvoit porter tant dhonneur et de
reputation, mais quil monstre bien que luy mesme favorise les
hereticques, dautant que lors que ce scandale advynt, il estoit seul
pres du roy, sans que personne luy peust resister ne l'empescher duser
de la puyssance que sadicte Saincteté luy a donnée." Of course, Paul
could not let pass unimproved so fair an opportunity for repeating the
trite warning that subversion of kingdoms and other dire calamities
follow in the train of "mutation of religion." The punishment of
D'Andelot, however, to which he often returned in his conversation, the
Pontiff evidently regarded as a thing to be executed rather than
spoken about, and he therefore begged the French ambassador to write
the letter to the king in his own cipher, and advise him "to let no one
in the world see his letter." Whereupon Card. La Bourdaisière rather
irreverently observes: "Je croy que le bonhomme pense que le roy
dechiffre luy mesme ses lettres!" a supposition singularly absurd in the
case of Henry, who hated business of every kind. La Bourdaisière
conceived it, on the other hand, to be for his own interest to take the
first opportunity to give private information of the entire conversation
to the constable, D'Andelot's uncle, and to advise him that it would go
hard with his nephew, should he fall into Paul's hands ("quil feroit un
mauvais parti sil le tenoit"). Soldan, Gesch. des Prot. in Frank., i.
(appendix), 607, 608; Bulletin de l'histoire du prot. français, xxvii.
(1878), 103, 104.
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.1 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).2
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.3 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
1 Letter of Calvin, Aug. 29, 1558, Bonnet, Eng. tr., iii. 460.
2 De Thou (liv. 20), ii. 568, etc., 576, etc.
3 Prescott, Philip II., i. 268-270, has described the
straits in which Philip found himself in consequence of the deplorable
state of his finances. Henry was compelled to resort to desperate
schemes to procure the necessary funds. As early as February, 1554--a
year before the truce of Vaucelles--he published an edict commanding all
the inhabitants of Paris to send in an account of the silver plate they
possessed. Finding that it amounted to 350,000 livres, he ordered his
officers to take and convert it into money, which he retained, giving
the owners twelve per cent. as interest on the compulsory loan. They
were informed, and were doubtless gratified to learn, that the measure
was not only one of urgency, but also precautionary--lest the necessity
should arise for the seizure of the plate, without compensation, it
may be presumed. Reg. des ordon., apud Félibien, H. de Paris, preuves, v. 287-290.
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.1
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.2 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 treasure3 were surrendered in an
1 Prescott, Philip the Second, i. 270.
2 De Thou, ii. 584, 585, 660, etc.
3 More than one hundred thousand lives and forty millions
crowns of gold, if we may believe the Mémoires de Vieilleville, ii. 408,
409. "Quod multo sanguine, pecunia incredibili, spatio multorum annorum
Galli acquisierant, uno die magna cum ignominia tradiderunt," says the
papal nuncio, Santa Croce, De civil. Gall. diss. com., 1437. See,
however, Ranke, Civil Wars and Monarchy in France, Am. tr., p. 127.
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.1
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.2 Henry himself manifested embarrassment
1 Mém. de Vieilleville, ubi supra. The text of the treaty
is given in Recueil gén. des anc. lois françaises, xiii. 515, etc., and
in Du Mont, Corps diplomatique, v. pt. 1, pp. 34, etc.; the treaty
between France and England, with scrupulous exactness, as usual, in Dr.
P. Forbes, State Papers, i. 68, etc.
2 The prevalent sentiment in France is strongly expressed
by Brantôme, by the memoirs of Vieilleville, of Du Villars, of Tavannes,
etc. "La paix honteuse fut dommageable," says Tavannes; "les associez y
furent trahis, les capitaines abandonnez à leurs ennemis, le sang, la
vie de tant de Français negligée, cent cinquante forteresses rendues,
pour tirer de prison un vieillard connestable, et se descharger de deux
filles de France." Mém. de Gaspard de Saulx, seign. de Tavannes, ii.
242. Du Villars represents the Duke of Guise as remonstrating with Henry
for giving up in a moment more than he could have lost in thirty years,
and as offering to guard the least considerable city among the many he
surrendered against all the Spanish troops: "Mettez-moy dedans la pire
ville de celles que vous voulez rendre, je la conserveray plus
glorieusement sur la bresche, etc." (Ed. Petitot, ii. 267, liv. 10). But
the duke's own brother was one of the commissioners; and Soldan affirms
the existence of a letter from Guise to Nevers (of March 27, 1559) in
the National Library, fully establishing that the duke and the cardinal
understood and were pleased with the substance of the treaty (Soldan,
Gesch. des Prot. in Frankreich, i. 266, note).
when attempting to justify his course.1 Abroad the improbable tidings
were received with incredulity.2
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.3 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.4 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
1 "Henricus rex se propterea quacumque ratione pacem inire
voluisse dicebat, 'quod intelligeret, regnum Franciæ ad heresim
declinare, magnumque in numerum venisse, ita ut, si diutius diferret,
neque ipsius conscientiæ, neque regni tranquillitati prospiceret: ... se
propterea ad quasvis pacis conditiones descendisse, ut regnum hæreticis
ac malis hominibus purgaret.' Hæc ab eo satis frigide et cum pudore
dicebantur." Santa Croce, De civil. Gall. diss. comment., 1437.
2 Ibid., ubi supra.
3 "Selon l'article secret de la paix," says Tavannes (Mém., ii. 247, Ed. Petitot),
"les heretiques furent bruslez en France, plus par crainte qu'ils ne suivissent
l'exemple des revoltez d'Allemagne, que pour la religion." But, it may be asked,
was there anything novel in this? It had needed no secret article, for a generation
back, to conduct a "Christaudin" to the flames.
4 The English commissioners, Killigrew and Jones, in a
despatch written eight or nine months later, express the current belief
respecting the wide scope of the persecution: "Wheras, upon the making
of the late peace, there was an appoinctement made betwene the late
Pope, the French King, and the King of Spaine, for the joigning of their
forces together for the suppression of religion; it is said, that this
King mindethe shortly to send to this new Pope [Pius IV.], for the
renewing of the same league; th' end wherof was to constraine the rest
of christiendome, being protestants, to receive the Pope's authorité and
his religion; and therupon to call a generall counsaill." Letter from
Blois, January 6, 1559/60, Forbes, State Papers, i. 296.
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.1
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
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
1 "Voila," says Agrippa d'Aubigné, "les conventions d'une
paix en effect pour les royaumes de France et d'Espagne, en apparence de
toute la Chrestienté, glorieuse aux Espagnols, desaventageuse aux
François, redoutable aux Reformez: car comme toutes les difficultez qui
se presenterent au traicté estoient estouffées par le desir de repurger
l'église, ainsi, après la paix establie, les Princes qui par elle
avoient repos du dehors, travaillerent par emulation à qui traitteroit
plus rudement ceux qu'on appeloit Heretiques: et de là nasquit l'ample
subject de 40 ans de guerre monstrueuse." Histoire universelle, liv. i.,
c. xviii. p. 46.
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.1 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."2 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.
1 "Mais quand estant en France j'eus entendu de la propre
bouche du Roy Henry, que le Duc d'Alve traictoit des moyens pour
exterminer tous les suspects de la Religion en France, en ce Pays et par
toute la Chrestienté, et que ledit Sieur Roy (qui pensoit, que comme
j'avois esté l'un des commis pour le Traicté de la Paix, avois eu
communication en si grandes affaires, que je fusse aussi de cette
partie) m'eust declaré le fond du Conseil du Roy d'Espaigne et du Duc
d'Alve: pour n'estre envers Sa Majesté en desestime, comme si on m'eust
voulu cacher quelque chose, je respondis en sorte que ledit Sieur Roy ne
perdit point cette opinion, ce qui luy donna occasion de m'en discourir
assés suffisament pour entendre le fonds du project des Inquisiteurs."
Apologie de Guillaume IX., Prince d'Orange, etc., Dec. 13, 1580; apud
Du Mont, Corps diplomatique, v., pt. 1, p. 392.
2 De Thou, ii. (liv. xxii.), 653.
Calvin himself and his friends momentarily expected the blow to fall
upon their devoted heads.1 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
1 "De nostre costé nous ne sçavons pas si nous sommes loing
des coups; tant y a que nous sommes menasséz par-dessus tout le
reste." Calvin to the Church of Paris, June 29, 1559. Lettres franç.,
ii. 282, 283. On the next day the author of the threats was mortally
wounded in the tournament.
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.1
Parliament suspected of heretical leanings.
Henry had deemed the progress of the reformed doctrines in France so
Formidable2 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;3 and, although Henry showed
1 The Duke of Alva gives all the details of this remarkable negotiation in a letter to Philip,
June 26, 1559, now among the Papiers de Simancas, ser. B., Leg. no. 62-140, which M.
Mignet has printed in his valuable series of articles reviewing the Collection of Calvin's
French Letters by M. Bonnet, published in the Journal des Savants, 1857, pp. 171, 172.
An extract, without date, from a MS. in the Library at Turin, seems to refer to this time:
"Le roi (Henri II.) declare criminels de lèse-majesté tous ceux qui auront quelque commerce
avec Genève, ou en recevront lettres. Cette ville est cause de tous les malheurs de la France,
et il la poursuivra à outrance pour la réduire. Il promet secours de gens de pied et de cheval
au duc de Savoie, et vient d'obtenir du pape un bref pour décider le roi d'Espagne. Ils vont
unir leurs forces pour une si sainte enterprise." Gaberel, Hist. de l'égl. de Genève, i. 442.
2 And he did not exaggerate the importance of the crisis. The adherents of the reformed faith
had become numerous, and many were restive under their protracted sufferings. "I am
certainly enformid," wrote the English ambassador, Throkmorton, to Secretary Cecil (May 15,
1559), "that about the number of fifty thousand persones in Gascoigne, Guyen, Angieu, Poictiers,
Normandy, and Main, have subscribed to a confession in religion conformable to that of Geneva;
which they mind shortly to exhibit to the King. There be of them diverse personages of
good haviour (sic): and it is said amongst the same, that after they
have delivered their confession to the King, that the spiritualty of
Fraunce will do all they can to procure the King, to the utter
subversion of them: for which cause, they say, the spiritualty seemeth
to be so glad of peaxe, for that they may have that so good an occasion
to worke their feate. But," he adds, "on th' other side these men minde,
in case any repressing and subversion of their religion be ment and put
in execution against them, to resist to the deathe." Forbes, State Papers, i. 92.
3 "Heri scriptum est ad me Lutetia.... Sorbonicos ad Regem
cucurrisse et tempus ejus eonveniendi aucupatos petiisse curam
inquirendorum Lutheranorum. Quum Rex respondisset: 'Se eam curam Senatui
mandasse, iique respondissent, 'totam curiam Parlamenti Parisienis
inquinatam esse,' iracunde intulisse, 'quid vultis igitur faciam, aut
quid consilii capiam? An ut vos in eorum locum substituam, et
Rempublicam meam administretis?'" Letter of Hotman to Bullinger, Aug.
15, 1556, apud Baum, Theod. Beza, i. 294.
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.1 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,2
1 "The king, however, looks on all the judges with a suspicious eye." Calvin to Garnier,
Aug. 29, 1558. Bonnet, Eng. tr., iii. 460.
2 Séguier, the leading jurist in the Parisian Parliament,
like most of the judges that possessed much legal acumen, and all those
that were inclined to tolerant sentiments, was reputed unsound in the
faith. Sir Nicholas Throkmorton, the English ambassador, says of him:
"One of the Presidentes of the court of Parliament, named Siggier, a
verey wise man, and one whome the constable for his judgement dothe
muche stay upon, is noted to be a Protestant, and of the chiefest
setters forward and favorers of the rest of that courte against the
cardinalles." The same accurate observer states that, of the "six score"
counsellors present in the Parliamentary session which Henry attended,
only "one of the Presidentes called Magistri and fourteen others were of
the King and the cardinalles side, and did agree with them and
condescend to the punishment of suche as shuld seme to resist to the
cardinalles orders devised for reformation toching religion: the said
Siggier, Rancongnet, and another President, with the rest of the
counsaillors, were all against the cardinalles. Whereupon it is judged,"
he adds, "that the House of Guise hathe taken this occasion to weaken
the constable: and because they wold not directly begynne with Siggier,
for feare of manifesting their practise, they have founde the meanes to
cause these counsaillors to be taken; supposing, that in th' examination
of them somme mater may be gathered to toche Siggier withall, and therby
to overthrow him." Despatch of June 13, 1559, Forbes, State Papers, i. 127.
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.1 Other "Christaudins" had been sent
to their bishops for trial, although their guilt was patent to all.2
In fine, the Cardinal of Lorraine laid to the account of parliament the
spread of the new doctrines throughout France.3