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
1 Or, Trouillard, according to Castelnau, ubi supra.
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.1 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, 1560.2
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."3 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."4 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 pleasant
1 La Planche, 223-225; Castelnau, liv. i., c. 4; De Thou, ii. 691.
2 La Planche and De Thou, ubi supra.
3 Epistolæ secretæ, ii. 30.
4 See ante, c. viii., p. 275. The authority of the
Mémoires de Tavannes (ii. 258)--"Les chambres ardentes sont érigées pour
persecuter les Huguenots, et ce d'autant plus que les princes du sang et
les frères de Coligny favorisoient la religion nouvelle"--cannot weigh
against the positive statement of the preamble of Henry II.'s edict of
Paris, Nov. 19, 1549, ante, c. viii., p. 275. Yet Drion, Hist. chron.
de l'église prot. de France, i. 63, places the original institution here.
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.1
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.2
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.
1 Drion, i. 64; Hist. ecclés., i. 151. On the other hand,
Protestant sympathizers sometimes interfered with the course of law in
the interest of their brethren in the faith. "Since our arrivall to this
towne," wrote Killigrew and Jones from Blois, Nov. 14, 1559, "there were
xvii persones taken for the worde's sake, and committed to the
sergeaunts to be conveyed to Orleauns, and other places therabouts, to
be prosecuted. Notwithstanding, it hathe so happened, as the prisoners
in the way betwene this towne and Orleans were rescued, and taken from
the sergeaunts who had charge of them, by sixty men on horsebacke, and
so were conveyed away." Forbes, State Papers, i. 261. At Rouen, Jan. 29,
1560, a bookbinder was snatched from between two friars, as he was being
led in a cart to be burned alive, a cloak thrown over him, and he
conveyed out of the hands of his enemies. Unfortunately, the gates
having been closed, he was recaptured the same night, and the cruel
sentence was executed the next day, with a guard of 300 men-at-arms, for
fear of the people. Memorandum of Feb. 8th, State Paper Office.
2 La Planche, 236, 337; De Thou, ii. 705, 706.
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.1 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
1 "Comme d'abus." La Place, 19; Crespin, Gal. chrétienne, ii. 304.
the 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.1
1 La Planche, 209, 210; La Place, 20; Hist. ecclés., i. 138, 139; Crespin, Galerie chrétienne, ii.
305-318; Forbes, State Papers, i. 185. The Mémoires de Condé, i. 217-304, reprint entire a
contemporary pamphlet entitled, "La vraye histoire, contenant l'inique jugement et fausse
procédure faite contre le fidèle serviteur de Dieu Anne du Bourg, conseillier pour le Roy, en la
Cour du Parlement de Paris," etc. (Paris) 1561. It contains in full the interrogatories and
replies, Du Bourg's confession, etc., and will amply repay a careful reading. It concludes with a
pregnant sentence: "Voila l'issue et fin de l'histoire que j'avoye proposé d'écrire, pour un commencement de beaucoup de troubles, guerres et divisions: car d'injustice procède tout
mal." Significant and prophetic words to be written and published the year before the outbreak of
the first civil war! The editor of 1743, p. 217, well observes that the execution of Du Bourg may
be regarded as one of the chief causes of the conspiracy of Amboise, which broke out soon
after, and, consequently, of the troubles agitating France for nearly forty years.
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.1
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;2 and the intercession of the
Elector Palatine,3 who by a special embassy had expressed
1 La Planche, 227-235; Hist. ecclés., i. 153-155.
2 There was no proof that Antoine Minard's murder was
wrought by a Protestant hand. An address of Du Bourg, in which he
reminded the unrighteous judge of the coming judgment of God, was, after
the event, perversely construed as a threat of assassination. A
Scotchman, Robert Stuart, a kinsman of the queen, was charged with
firing the fatal pistol-shot, but even under the torture revealed
nothing. Public opinion was divided, some attributing the catastrophe to
Minard's well-known immorality ("d'autant," says La Planche, "qu'il y
estoit du tout adonné, et qu'il ne craignoit de séduire toutes les dames
et damoiselles qui avoyent des procès devant luy," etc.), others to his
equally flagrant injustice, others still to the "Lutherans." La Planche, 233, 234.
3 Not, as La Planche, 235, and the Hist. ecclés., i. 154,
state, Otho Henry, but his successor, Frederick III. Baum, Theodor Beza,
ii. 35, 36; Languet, Epistolæ sec., ii. 36.
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.1
"Sufferings do not intimidate them," he said, "insults do not weaken
1 So the English agents, Killigrew and Jones, wrote from
Blois, Dec. 27, 1559: "Bourg was not executed, till about the xx of this
present: who before his deathe made suche an oration to the Lords of the
parliament, as it moved as many of them as were there to shede
teares," Forbes, State Papers, i. 290.
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!"1
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.2
1 La Place, 22, 23; Crespin, Galerie chrétienne, ii. 318-322.
2 La Place, 23; Crespin, Galerie chrétienne, ii. 322, 323;
Hist. ecclés., i. 155, 156; De Thou, ii. 700-703.
Thus he died, displaying, according to a friendly historian,1 "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."2
He deplores the result.
But the martyrdom of Du Bourg was not a solitary case. The same
consequences flowed from the public execution of
1 La Planche, 236. "Inter quos," writes Jean Crespin in the
colophon to the edition of his Actiones et Monimenta Martyrum of 1560,
"egregie cordatus Dei Martyr Annas a Burgo supremæ Parisiensis Curiæ
senator, xxiij. die mensis Decemb. anni M.D.LIX. admirabilem martyrii
coronam accepit." In the preface dated Feb. 26th--two months after Du
Bourg's death--he is styled "senator innocentissimus, integerrimus, sanctissimus."
2 Florimond de Ræmond, Historia de ortu, progressu, et ruina hæsreseon hujus sæculi
(Col. 1613), lib. vii, c. vi., p. 411. We have La Planche's testimony to the somewhat
extraordinary statement that the judges themselves declared Du Bourg happy in suffering
in behalf of so just a cause, and excused themselves for their own conduct by
alleging the pressure of the Guises (p. 228). "Stulte fecerunt
gubernatores Gallici, quod eum publice supplicio affecerunt," wrote
Languet, a few months later; "ejus enim supplicium est una ex non
minimis causis horum tumultuum." Epist. sec., ii, 47.
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."1
1 Florimond de Ræmond, ii. 410, 411. Let not the humane reader mistake. Policy, not
pity, dictated toleration. The same Florimond de Ræmond, presiding as the oldest counsellor,
read an arrêt of the Parliament of Bordeaux, not only ordering the disinterment of a
child buried in the cemetery of Ozillac in Saintonge, but that of all
the bodies of Huguenots that had been placed in any other cemetery
within ten years. Plaintes des églises réformées de France, etc., 1597;
apud Bulletin de la Soc. de l'hist. du prot. fr., xi. (1862), 145.]