of intending to remodel the government of France. According to
according to others, he was to be dispensed with altogether. Under
reproduced in France. That which gave the pretended scheme most of
171; De Thou, ii. 773, 774; Mém. de Castelnau, liv. i., c. 11. The
Cardinal of Lorraine, however, was deeply mortified and vexed. "El
palabra, mostrando solamente descontentemiento de lo que passava." MSS.
Simancas, apud Mignet, Journal des Savants, 1857, 479.
republican states. These were fountains of Protestant doctrine;
France. It was notorious that the free institutions of these cities
have rejected it as incredible. But a history of the Parliament of
Huguenots. Under date of Sept. 4, 1561, the following entry appears:
"Ledit jour, M. Géraut Faure, official de Périgueux, a dit: qu'il y
dont il espéroit avoir la superintendance. Et lors luy tenant de
tels propos, retira à part ledit official sans qu'autre l'entendist. Ainsi signé: Faure."
The late M. Boscheron des Portes, giving full credit to the
the origin of the monarchy had unceasingly pursued.
"official's" statement. It is in patent contradiction with
well-known facts respecting the constitution of the Huguenot party.
republican form of government. Condé, the "chef muet," was a prince
Friar Symeon Vinot, Sept. 10, 1563. He notes: "L'an 1561 "--an error for
mieulx dire) Eygnossen, pour ce qu'il [ils] vouloient fayre les villes franches, et s'allier
ensemble, comme les villes des Schwysses, qu'on dict en allemand Egnossen,
cest a dire Aliez," etc. Bulletin de l'hist. du prot. fr., xxv. (1876) 380.
2 Histoire du parlement de Bordeaux, depuis sa creation jusqu'à sa suppression (1541-1790),
œuvre posthume de C. B. F. Boscheron des Portes, président honoraire de la cour d'appel de
Bordeaux, etc. (Bordeaux, 1877), i. 130.
the crown. The main body of the party had had no reason to
entertain hostility to regal authority. The prevailing discontent
functions of royalty. If persecution for religion's sake had long
reason, that the truth might yet reach the heart of kings.
when under a new king fresh political issues had arisen. In fact,
in Faure's statement. Not to speak of the great vagueness and the
person to be chosen. The "official," an ecclesiastical judge
Renaudie as the safest depositary of so valuable a trust.
THE ASSEMBLY OF NOTABLES AT FONTAINEBLEAU, AND THE
CLOSE OF THE REIGN OF
FRANCIS THE SECOND.
Rise of the name "Huguenots." Various explanations given.
The tempest which had threatened to overwhelm the Guises at Amboise
had been successfully withstood; but quiet had not returned to the minds of
those whose vices were its principal cause. The air was still thick with
noxious vapors, and none could tell how soon or in what quarter the
elements of a new and more terrible convulsion would gather.1 The
recent commotion had disclosed the existence of a body of malcontents,
in part religious, in part also political, scattered over the whole
kingdom and of unascertained numbers. To its adherents the name of
Huguenots was now for the first time given.2 What the origin of
this celebrated appellation was, it is now perhaps impossible to
discover. Although a number of plausible derivations have been given, it
is not unlikely that all are equally far removed from the truth, and
that the word arose from some trivial circumstance that has completely
passed into oblivion. It has been traced back to the name of the
Eidgenossen or confederates, under which the party of freedom
figured in Geneva when the authority of the bishop
1 Reaching Paris early in May, 1560, Hubert Languet wrote
that suspicion was everywhere rife; men of any standing scarcely dared
to converse with each other; some great calamity seemed on the point of
breaking forth. The king's ministers evidently feared the great cities;
so the court proceeded from one provincial town to another. Disturbances
in Rouen and Dieppe had frightened the Guises away from Normandy,
whither they had intended leading their royal nephew. Letter from Paris,
May 15th, Epistolæ secr., ii. 50.
"En ce temps (Mars, 1560) furent appellés Huguenots."
Journal d'un curé ligueur (Jehan de la Fosse), 36.
and duke was overthrown;1 or to the Roy Huguet, or Huguon, a
hobgoblin supposed to haunt the vicinity of Tours, to whom the superstitious
attributed the nocturnal assemblies of the Protestants;1 or to the
gate du roy Huguon of the same city, near which those gatherings were
wont to be made.2 Some of their enemies maintained the former
existence of a diminutive coin known as a huguenot, and asserted that
the appellation, as applied to the reformed, arose from their "not being
worth a huguenot" or farthing.3 And some of their friends, with
equal confidence and no less improbability, declared that it was
invented because the adherents of the house of Guise secretly put
forward claims upon the crown of France in behalf of that house as
descended from Charlemagne, whereas the Protestants loyally upheld the
rights of the Valois sprung from Hugh Capet.4 In the diversity of
Soldan, Geschichte des Prot. in Frankreich, who, in an
appendix, has very fully discussed the whole matter (i. 608-625). There
is some force in the objection that has been urged against this view,
that, were it correct, Beza, himself a resident of Geneva, could not
have been ignorant of the derivation, and would not, in the Histoire
ecclésiastique, prepared under his supervision, if not by him, have
given his sanction to another explanation.
2 La Planche, 262; Hist. ecclés., i. 169, 170; De Thou, ii.
(liv. xxiv.) 766. This is also Étienne Pasquier's view, who is positive
that he heard the Protestants called Huguenots by some friends of his
from Tours full eight or nine years before the tumult of Amboise; that
is, about 1551 or 1552: "Car je vous puis dire que huict ou neuf ans
auparavant l'entreprise d'Amboise je les avois ainsi ouy appeller par
quelques miens amis Tourengeaux." Recherches de France, 770. This is
certainly pretty strong proof.
La Place, 34; Davila, i. 20; Agrippa d'Aubigné, i. 96. See also Pasquier, ubi supra.
Mém. de Castelnau, liv. ii., c. 7. A somewhat similar
reason had, in Poitou, caused them, for a time, to be called Fribours,
the designation casually given to a counterfeit coin of debased metal. Pasquier, 770.
5 Advertissement au Peuple de France, apud Recueil des
choses mémorables (1565), 7. Also in the Complainte au Peuple François,
ibid., p. 10. Both of these papers were published immediately after the
Tumulte d'Amboise. The eminent Pierre Jurieu--"le Goliath des
Protestants"--tells us that, having at one time accepted the derivation
from "eidgenossen" as the most plausible, he subsequently returned to
that which connects the word Huguenot with Hugues or Hugh Capet. The
nickname confessedly arose, so far as France was concerned, first in
Touraine, and became general at the time of the tumult of Amboise,
nearly thirty years after the reformation of Geneva. "Qui est-ce qui
auroit transporté en Touraine ce nom trente ans après sa naissance, de
Genève où il n'avoit jamais esté cognu?" Histoire du calvinisme et celle
du papisme, etc. Rotterdam, 1683, i. 424, 425.
contradictory statements, we may perhaps be excused if we suspend our
judgment of their respective merits, and prefer to look upon this
partisan name as one with whose original import not a score of persons
in France besides its fortuitous inventor may have been acquainted, and
which may have had nothing to recommend it to those who so readily
adopted it, save novelty and the recognized need of some more convenient
name than "Lutherans," "Christaudins," or the awkward circumlocution,
"those of the religion." Be this as it may, not a week had passed after
the conspiracy of Amboise before the word was in everybody's mouth. Few
knew or cared whence it arose.1
Its sudden rise.
A powerful party, whatever name it might bear, had sprung up, as it
were, in a night. There was sober truth conveyed in the jesting letter
of some fugitives to the Cardinal of Lorraine. Twenty or thirty
Huguenots succeeded in breaking the bars of their prison at Blois, and,
letting themselves down by cords, escaped. Some others at Tours, a few
days later, were equally fortunate. Scarcely had the latter regained
their liberty when they wrote a letter to the prelate who was supposed
to take so deep an interest in their concerns, informing him that,
having heard of the escape of his prisoners at Blois, they had been so
grieved, that, for the love they bore him, they had immediately started
out in search. And they begged him not to distress himself on account of
their absence; for they assured him that they would all soon return to
see him, and would bring with them not only these, but all the rest of
those that had conspired to take his life.2
How to be accounted for.
No feature of the rise of the Reformation in France is more
J. de Serres, i. 67; Pasquier, 771: "Mot qui en peu de
temps s'espandit par toute la France."
La Planche, 270. At Amboise, too, so soon as the court
had departed, the prisons were broken open, and the prisoners--both
those confined for religion and for insurrection--released. The gallows
in various parts of the place were torn down, and the ghastly
decorations of the castle, in the way of heads and mutilated members,
disappeared. Languet, letter of May 15th, Epist. secr., ii. 51.
remarkable than the sudden impulse which it received during the last year or
two of Henry the Second's life, and especially within the brief limits of the
reign of his eldest son. The seed had been sown assiduously for nearly
forty years; but the fruit of so much labor had been comparatively
slight and unsatisfactory. Much of the return proved to be of a literary
and philosophical, rather than of a religious character, and tended to
intellectual development instead of the purification of religions belief
and practice. Much of the seed was choked by relentless persecution.
Bishops and preachers, the gay poet, and the time-serving courtier, fell
away with alarming facility, when the blight of the royal displeasure
fell upon those who professed a desire to abolish the superstitious
observances of the established church.
A sudden harvest.
But now, within a few brief months, the harvest seemed, as by a miracle,
to be approaching simultaneously over the whole surface of the extended
field. The grains of truth long since lodged in an arid soil, and
apparently destitute of all vitality, had suddenly developed all the
energy of life. France to the reformers, whose longing eyes were at
length permitted to see this day, was "white unto the harvest," and only
the reapers were needed to put forth the sickle and gather the wheat
into the garner. There was not a corner of the kingdom where the number
of incipient Protestant churches was not considerable. Provence alone
contained sixty, whose delegates this year met in a synod at the
blood-stained village of Mérindol. In large tracts of country the
Huguenots had become so numerous that they were no longer able or
disposed to conceal their religious sentiments, nor content to celebrate
their rites in private or nocturnal assemblies. This was particularly
the case in Normandy, in Languedoc, and on the banks of the Rhône.
The progress of letters and of intelligence.
It may be worth while to pause here, and inquire into some of the causes
of this rapid spread of the doctrines of the Reformation after the long
period of comparative stagnation preceding. One of these was undoubtedly
the astonishing progress of letters in France during the last forty
years. From being neglected and rough, the French language, during
the first half of the sixteenth century, became the most polite of the
tongues spoken in Western Europe--thanks to a series of eminent prose
writers and poets who graced the royal court. The generation reaching
manhood in the latter years of the reign of Henry the Second were far
better educated than the contemporaries of Francis the First. The public
mind, through the elevating tendencies of schools fostered by royal
bounty, was to a considerable degree emancipated from the thraldom of
superstition. It repudiated the silly romanese, passing for the lives of
the saints, with which the public had formerly been satisfied. It
scrutinized minutely every pretended miracle of the papal churches and
convents, and exposed the trickery by which a corrupt clergy sought to
maintain itself in popular esteem. Thus the growing intelligence and
widening information of the people prepared them to appreciate the
merits of the great doctrinal controversy now occupying the attention of
enlightened minds. Interest in the discussion of the most important
themes that can occupy the human contemplation was both stimulated and
gratified by a constant influx of religious works from the teeming
presses of Strasbourg, Basle, Lausanne, Neufchâtel, and especially
Geneva. And the verdict of the great majority of readers and thinkers
was favorable to the Swiss and German controversialists.
Calvin's Institutes. Marot and Beza's Psalms.
Next to the Bible, translated originally by Olivetanus, and in its
successive editions rendered more conformable to the Hebrew and Greek
texts, the "Christian Institutes" exerted the most powerful influence.
The close logic of Calvin's treatises, speaking in a style clear,
concise and nervous, and touching a chord of sympathy in each French
reader, made its deep impress upon the intellect and heart, while
captivating the ear. Calvin's commentaries on the sacred volume rendered
its pages luminous and familiar. Other works exerted an influence
scarcely inferior. The "Actions and Monuments" of the martyrs, by Jean
Crespin, printer and scholar, not only perpetuated the memory of the
witnesses for the truth, but stimulated others to copy their fidelity.
Marot and Beza's metrical versions of the Psalms, wafted into
popularity, even among those
who at first little sympathized with the piety of the words, by the
novelty and beauty of the music to which they were sung, were
powerful auxiliaries to the arguments of the theologian. They
entered the house of the peasant and invested its homely scenes
with a calm derived from the contemplation of the bliss of a heaven
where the fleeting distinctions of the present shall melt away. They
nerved the humble artisan to patience and to the cheerful endurance of
obloquy and reproach. They attracted to the gathering of persecuted
reformers in the by-street, in the retired barn, or on the open heath or
mountain side, the youth who preferred their melody and intelligible
words to the jargon of a service conducted in a tongue understood only
by the learned. In the royal court, or rising in loud chorus from a
thousand voices on the crowded Pré-aux-Clercs, they were winged
messengers of the truth, where no other messengers could have found
utterance with impunity.
Morals and martyrdom.
The blameless purity of life of the men and women whom, for religion's
sake, the officers of the law put to death with every species of
indignity and with inhuman cruelty, when contrasted with the flagrant
corruption of the clergy and the shameless dissoluteness of the court,
openly fostered for their own base ends by cardinals themselves accused
of every species of immorality and suspected of atheism, deeply affected
the minds of the reflecting. One Anne Du Bourg put to death by a Charles
of Lorraine made more converts in a day than all the executioners could
burn in a year.
Character of the ministers from Geneva.
But, if the rapid spread of Protestant doctrines at this precise date is
due to any one cause more than to another, that cause may probably be
found in the character and numbers of the religious teachers. Converts
from the Papal Church, principally priests and monks, were the first
apostles of the Reformation. Few of them had received systematic
training of any kind, none had a thorough acquaintance with biblical
learning. Many embraced the truth only in part; some professed it from
improper motives. The Lenten preachers whose leaning towards
"Lutheranism" was sufficiently marked to attract the hatred of the
Sorbonne, were generally orators,
more solicitous of popularity than jealous for the truth--fickle
and inconstant men whose apostasy inflicted deep wounds
upon the cause with which they had been identified, and more
than neutralized all the good done by their previous exertions.
But now a brotherhood of theologians took their place, not
less zealous for the faith than disciplined in intellect. Geneva1
was the nursery from which a vigorous stock was transplanted
to French soil. The theological school in which Calvin and Beza taught,
moulded the destinies of France. The youths who came from the shores of
Lake Leman were no neophytes, nor had they to unlearn the casuistry of
the schools or to throw off a monastic indolence which habit had made a
second nature. They embraced a vocation to which nothing but a stern
sense of duty, or the more powerful attraction of Divine love, could
prompt. They entered an arena where poverty, fatigue, and almost
inevitable death stared them in the face. But they entered it
intelligently and resolutely, with the training of mind and of soul
which an athlete might receive from such instructors, and their
prayerful, trustful and unselfish endeavor met an ample recompense.2
M. Archinard, conservator of the archives of the
Venerable Company of Pastors of Geneva, has compiled from the records a
list of 121 pastors sent by the Church of Geneva to the Reformed
Churches of France within eleven years--1555 to 1566. Many others have,
doubtless, escaped notice. Bulletin de la Soc. de l'hist. du prot. fr.,
viii. (1859) 72-76. Cf. also Ib., ix. 294 seq., for an incomplete list of Protestant
pastors in France, probably in 1567, from an old MS. in the Genevan library.
The high moral and intellectual qualifications of the
Protestant ministers were eulogized by the Bishop of Valence, Montluc,
in his speech before the king at Fontainebleau, to which I shall soon
have occasion to refer again. "The doctrine, sire," he said, "which
interests your subjects, was sown for thirty years; not in one, or two,
or three days. It was introduced by three or four hundred ministers,
diligent and practised in letters; men of great modesty, gravity, and
appearance of sanctity; professing to detest every vice, and,
particularly, avarice; fearless of losing their lives in confirmation of
their preaching; who always had Jesus Christ upon their lips--a name so
sweet that it gives an entrance into ears the most carefully closed, and
easily glides into the heart of the most hardened." "Harangue de
l'Evesque de Vallence," apud Recueil des choses mémorables (1565), i.
290; Mém. de Condé, i. 558; La Place, 55. The eloquent Bishop of Valence
must be regarded as a better authority than those persons who, according
to Castelnau, accused the Calvinist ministers of Geneva of "having more
zeal and ignorance than religion." Mém. de Castelnau, liv. iii., c. 3.