Is received at court with studied discourtesy. Antoine is deaf to
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.4 To
regain the kingdom of which, by his marriage with
1 Throkmorton to the queen, Aug. 15, 1559, Forbes, i. 202.
2 "Qu'il n'est point petit compagnon en France."
3 Instruction of Montluc to La Tour, already cited, Mém. De Guise, 450.
4 Antoine did, indeed, continue his protestations of his
firm intention "not to fail to do the best he could to advance God's
true religion and cause." He made secret appointments with the English
ambassador, at one time about eleven o'clock at night, near the abbey of
St. Denis, at another time in disguise in the cloisters of the Augustinian friars, and had much
to say about his satisfaction "that he had so good a colleague" as Elizabeth "in so good a
cause." But the diplomatic correspondence does not show a single step which Navarre ever
ventured to take in behalf of that "good cause." See Throkmorton's
despatch of Aug. 25th, Forbes, State Papers, i. 213, 214.
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!"1
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,2
where his inferiors were preferred to
1 "Navarrus ad quem jure ipso et more majorum hactenus
inviolata pertinebat regni administratio, quamvis a plerisque Ecclesiis
salutatus et rogatus ne tam præclaram et divinitus oblatam occasionem
negligeret, quamvis summo et aperto ludibrio a Guisianis exceptus, tamen
omnibus annuit et suo exemplo confirmavit Christi dictum; Difficile est
divitem ingredi in regnum cœlorum." Beza to Bullinger, Sept. 12,
1559, apud Baum, ii., App., 1, 2; La Place, 27; La Planche, 213-216;
De Thou, ii. 686, 687.
2 Held Sept. 18th. See a description in Forbes, State
Papers, i. 232. Navarre, as one of the six temporal peers, represented
the Duke of Burgundy; Guise represented the Duke of Normandy; Nevers,
the Duke of Guyenne, etc.
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.1
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
1 La Planche, 218; De Thou, ii. 688. That the promise of
assistance was only given in order to frighten Navarre was patent to all
who were cognizant of Philip's projected African campaign.
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. 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 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. 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." 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
1 De Thou (ii. 722, 723) gives an account apparently correct, save in one or two particulars,
of these two missions. The slavish letter of Antoine to D'Audoz or D'Odoux, as De Thou
writes the name of the second messenger, may be read in the Négociations relatives au
règne de François II. (drawn from the papers of the Bishop of Limoges, French ambassador
to Philip, and published by the French government, under the editorial care of M. Paris, 1841),
pp. 164-166. Compare Agrippa d'Aubigné, i. 91.
2 La Planche, 209.
3 Throkmorton to Cecil, July 13, 1559, Forbes, State Papers, i. 161.
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.1 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.2 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.3 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
1 La Planche, 221; Beza to Bullinger, Sept. 12, 1559, Baum, ii., App., 3.
2 La Planche, 221; Mém. de Castelnau (Eng. tr. of 1724, p.
23), bk. i. c. 5; Declarations of Sept. 4th and Nov. 14, 1559, in the
Mémoires de Guise, 450, 451. These declarations were registered by
parliament, with the proviso that no house should be razed unless the
owners were privy to the crime or guilty of inexcusable negligence.
Mémoires de Condé, i, 310.
3 La Planche, ubi supra.
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.1
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.2 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
1 Arrêt du parlement, of September 6, 1559, in Mémoires de Condé, i. 308, 309.
2 In August there were nineteen Protestants in Parisian
dungeons, sentenced to be executed for heresy, some in one place, some
in another. A man and a woman were rescued, on the twenty-first of this
month, while on their way to execution at Meaux. Forbes, State Papers, i. 211, 212.
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
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,2
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
1 La Planche, 221, 223; Hist. ecclés., i. 144--147, where
the account is taken word for word from La Planche; De Thou, ii. 691,
692; Félibien, Hist. de Paris, ii. 1069; Mém. de Castelnau, liv. i., c. 4.
2 "La royne Catherine de Medicis, florentine, nation
desireuse de nouvelleté ... haissoit, comme belle mere, la Royne sa
fille, qui l'esloignoit des affaires et portoit l'amitié du Roy son fils
a MM. de Guise, lesquels ne luy deportoient du gouvernement qu'en ce
qu'ils cognoissoient qu'elle ne pouvoit nuire, luy donnant credit en
apparence sans effect," Mém. de Tavannes, ii. 260.
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.1 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.2 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.3
1 La Planche, 211; Hist. ecclés., i. 141, seq.; Beza to
Bullinger, Sept. 12, 1559; Baum, ii., App., 3.
2 "Vers l'Éternel, des oppressés le père,
Je m'en iray, luy monstrant l'impropère
Que l'on me fait; et luy feray prière," etc.
3 "Coppie de lettres envoyées à la Royne Mère par un sien
serviteur après la mort du feu Roy Henri deuxième." Cimber et Danjou,
Archives curieuses, iii. 349, etc. The substance of Villemadon's letter,
which is dated August 26th, 1559, is given by La Planche, 211, 212, and,
after him, by Hist. ecclés., i. 141, 142.
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.1 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.2
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
1 La Planche, 219; Hist. ecclés., i. 143; cf. Forbes, State Papers, i. 226.
2 La Planche, 220; Hist. ecclés., ubi supra. It is not at
all improbable that those who endeavored to influence Catharine showed
too little discretion in their zeal, and needlessly provoked her
displeasure by reference to the judgment of God upon her husband. So, at
least, thought the judicious Frenchman Languet, who added, with some
bitterness, that whoever urged upon them moderation was rewarded for his
pains by being called a traitor to the faith. Epist. secretæ, ii. 41.
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,1 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