History of the rise of the huguenots



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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


His death.

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.]

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