Rejoinder of the Duke of Guise.
The Guises spoke on the same day. The duke made a short, but passionate
rejoinder to Coligny, and gave little or no attention to the question
proposed for deliberation. He bitterly retorted to the proposal for the
dismissal of the body-guard, by saying that it had been placed around
the king only since the discovery of the treasonable plot of Amboise,
and he indignantly maintained that a conspiracy against ministers was
only a cover for designs against their master. As for the announcement
of the admiral that he could bring fifty thousand names to his
petitions, which he construed as a personal threat, he angrily replied
that if that or a greater number of the Huguenot sect should present
themselves, the king would oppose them with a million men of his
own.2 The question of religion he left to be discussed by others of
more learning; but well was he assured that not all the councils of the
world would detach him from the ancient faith. The assembling of the
States he referred to the king's discretion.3
The Cardinal of Lorraine is more politic.
The cardinal was more politic, and suppressed the manifestation
of that deadly hatred which, from this time forward, the
1 La Planche, 361; La Place, 66; De Thou, ii. 802; Mém. de
Castelnau, liv. ii. c. 8; Hist. ecclés., i. 178; Jean de Serres, i. 127.
2 La Planche, 361, 362; La Place, 67. The latter and J. de
Serres, i. 129, are certainly wrong in attributing this passionate
menace to the Cardinal of Lorraine. De Thou, ii. 802; Castelnau, 1. ii., c. 8.
3 La Planche, etc., ubi supra. Calvin to Bullinger, Oct. 1, 1560 (Bonnet, iv. 136).
brothers cherished against Coligny. He declared, however, that, although
the petitioners laid claim to such loyalty, their true character was apparent
from the affair at Amboise, as well as from the daily issue of libellous
pamphlets and placards, of which he had not less than twenty-two on his
table directed against himself, which he carefully preserved as his best
eulogium and claim to immortality. He advocated the severe repression of
the seditious; yet, with a stretch of hypocrisy and mendacity uncommon
even with a Guise, he expressed himself as for his own part very sorry
that such "grievous executions" had been inflicted upon those who went
"without arms and from fear of being damned to hear preaching, or who
sang psalms, neglected the mass, or engaged in other observances of
theirs," and as being in favor of no longer inflicting such useless
punishments! Nay, he would that his life or death might be of some
service in bringing back the wanderers to the path of truth. He opposed
a council as unnecessary--it could not do otherwise than decide as its
predecessors--but consented to a convocation of the clergy for the
reformation of manners. The States General he thought might well be
gathered to see with what prudence the administration of public affairs
had been carried on.1
Results of the Assembly of Fontainebleau.
The States General to be convened.
With the Cardinal of Lorraine the discussion ended. All the knights of
the order of St. Michael acquiesced in his opinions,
1 La Planche, 362, 363; La Place, 67; J. de Serres, De
statu rel. et reip., i. 128-131; De Thou, ii. 802, 803. After seeing the
head instigator of persecution, still gory with the blood of the recent
slaughter, assume with such effrontery the language of pity and
toleration, we may be prepared for his duplicity at the interview of
Saverne. The compiler of the Hist. ecclés. (i, 179) explains the consent
of the Guises to the convocation of the estates by supposing them to
have hoped by this measure not merely to take away the excuse of their
opponents, but, by obtaining a majority, to secure the declaration of
Navarre and Condé as rebels, whether they came or declined to appear.
Calvin (letter to Bullinger, ubi supra, p. 137) gives the same view.
So does Barbaro: "Forse non tanto per volontà che s'avesse d'esseguirle
quanto per adomentare gli risvegliati, et guadagnar, come si fece." The
Pope and Philip violently opposed the plan "perchè nè l'uno nè l'altro
sapeva il secreto." "By the plan of the council, ... they succeeded in
feeding with vain hopes (dar pasto) those who sought to make innovations
in the faith." Rel. des Amb. Vén., i. 524, etc.
but indulged in no farther remarks. On the twenty-sixth of August the decision
was announced. The States General were to convene on the tenth of December,
at Meaux, or such other city as the king might hereafter prefer. A month
later (on the twentieth of January) the prelates were to come together
wherever the king might be, thence to proceed to the national, or to the
general council, if such should be held. Meanwhile, in each bailiwick
and "sénéchaussée," the three orders were to be separately assembled, in
order to prepare minutes of their grievances, and elect delegates to the
States General; and all legal proceedings and all punishment for the
matter of religion were to be suspended save in the case of those who
assembled in arms and were seditious.1
Such was the history of this famous assembly, in which, for the first
time, the Huguenots found a voice; where views were calmly expressed
respecting toleration and the necessity of a council, which a year
before had been punished with death; where the chief persecutor of the
reformed doctrines, carried away by the current, was induced to avow
liberal principles.2 This was progress enough for a single year. The
enterprise of Amboise was not all in vain.
New alarms. Antoine and Condé summoned to court.
The Assembly of Fontainebleau had not dispersed when the court was
thrown into fresh alarm. An agent of the King of Navarre, named La
Sague, was discovered almost by accident,
1 La Planche, 363, 364; La Place, 68; De Thou, ii. 803
(liv. xxv). Cf. the edict in full apud Négociations sous François II.,
486-490; also a letter of Francis in which he explains his course to
Philip II., ib. 490-497.
2 The cardinal had, however, made a somewhat similar
discourse, just about six months before, to Throkmorton, much to the
good knight's disgust. He had expressed a recognition of the faults
prevalent in the church, and pretended to be desirous of reforming it in
an orderly manner. "I am not so ignorant," he said, "nor so led with
errors that reigne, as the world judgeth." He declared himself in favor
of a general council, and spoke with satisfaction of an edict just
despatched to Scotland, "to surcease the punishment of men for
religion." "And of this purpose," adds the ambassador with pardonable
sarcasm, "he made suche an oration as it were long to write, evon as
thoughe he had bene hired by the Protestants to defend their cause
earnestly!" Despatch to the queen, Feb. 27, 1559/60, Forbes, State
Papers, i. 337, 338.
who, after delivering letters from his master to various friends in the
neighborhood of Paris, was about to return southward with their friendly
responses. He had imprudently given a treacherous acquaintance to understand
that a formidable uprising was contemplated; and letters found upon his person
seemed to bear out the assertion. The most cruel tortures were resorted
to in order to elicit accusations against the Bourbons from suspected
persons.1 Among others, François de Vendôme, Vidame of Chartres, one
of the correspondents, was (on the twenty-seventh of August) thrown into
the Bastile.2 Three days later a messenger was despatched by the
king to Antoine of Navarre, requesting him at once to repair to the
capital, and to bring with him his brother Condé, against whom the
charge had for six months been rife, that he was the head of secret
enterprises, set on foot to disturb the peace of the realm.3 At the
same time an urgent request was sent to Philip the Second for assistance.4
1 Sommaire récit de la calomnieuse accusation de M. le
prince de Condé, Mémoires de Condé, ii. 373; Languet, ii. 66.
2 Throkmorton to Cecil, Sept. 3, 1560, State Paper Office; La Place, 68, 69; La
Planche, 345, 346; De Thou, ii. 804-806; Castelnau, 1. ii., c. 7.
3 La Planche, p. 375. Instructions to M. de Crussol, going
by order of the king to the King of Navarre, Aug. 30, 1560, apud
Négoc. sous François II., pp. 482-486. The beginning of this paper,
directing Crussol to express regret that Navarre had not come to the
council of Fontainebleau, and to announce the result of its
recommendations, is sufficiently conciliatory. If, however, Navarre
should hesitate to obey the summons, the agent was bidden to frighten
him into compliance. On the first show of resistance, Francis would
collect his own troops, consisting of thirty thousand or forty thousand
foot, and seven hundred or eight hundred horse, expected levies of ten
thousand Swiss, and six thousand or seven thousand German lansquenets.
Philip had assured him of the assistance of all his forces, foot and
horse, both from the side of Netherlands and of Spain. The Dukes of
Lorraine, Savoy, and Ferrara would bring fourteen thousand to sixteen
thousand foot and one thousand five hundred horse. The king's arrangements were
complete, and he was resolved to make an example. The arrest of La Sague was,
however, not to be mentioned. Letter of Francis to the King of Navarre, Aug. 30, in
Recueil des choses mém. (1565), 75, 76, and Mém. de Condé, i. 573.
4 See the message in cipher appended to a despatch to the
French ambassador at Madrid, Aug. 31, 1560, apud Nég. sous François
II., pp. 490-497. The discovery is said to have been made within five or
six days. Condé is implicated. Against Navarre there is as yet no proof.
The Queen of England, is suspected of complicity, despite the recent
treaty (of July 23d, by which Mary, Queen of Scots, renounced her claims
upon the crown of England). The affright of the Guises may be judged from the
circumstance that two copies of the despatch were forwarded--one by Guyenne,
the other by Languedoc--so that at least one might reach its destination.
Philip adverse to a national council.
Projects to crush all heresy and its abettors.
Nor was his Catholic Majesty reluctant to grant help--at least on paper.
But he accompanied his promises with advice. In particular, he sent Don
Antonio de Toledo to dissuade the French government from holding a
national council in Paris for the reformation of religion, as he
understood it was proposed to do during the coming winter. This, he
represented, would be prejudicial to their joint interests; "for, should
the French alter anything, the King of Spain would be constrained to
admit the like in all his countries." To which it was replied in
Francis's name, that "he would first assemble his three estates, and
there propone the matter to see what would be advised for the manner of
a calling a general council, not minding without urgent necessity to
assemble a council national." As to the Spanish help, conditioned on the
prudence of the French government, the Argus-eyed Throkmorton, who by
his paid agents could penetrate into the boudoirs of his
fellow-diplomatists and read their most cherished secrets,1 wrote to
Queen Elizabeth that a gentleman had reported to him that he had seen
"at the Pope's nuncio's hands a letter from the nuncio in Spain, wherein
the aids were promised, and that the King of Spain had written to the
French king that he would not only help him to suppress all heresy,
trouble, and rebellion in France, but also join him to cause all such
others as will not submit to the See Apostolic to come to order." In
fact, Throkmorton was enabled to say just how many men were to come from
Flanders, and how many from Spain, and how many were to enter by way of
Narbonne, and how many by way of Navarre.
1 Thomas Shakerly, the Cardinal of Ferrara's organist, sent
him budgets of news not less regularly than the secretary of the Duke of
Savoy's ambassador at Venice supplied the English agent copies of all
the most important letters his master received. See the interesting
letter of John Shers to Cecil, Venice, Jan. 18, 1561, State Paper Office.
Quick work was to be made of schism, heresy, and rebellion in France.
"This done, and the parties for religion clean overthrown," added
the ambassador, "these princes have already accorded to convert
their power towards England and Geneva, which they take to be
the occasioners and causers of all their troubles."1
Navarre's irresolution embarrasses Montbrun.
The King of Navarre had, even before the receipt of the royal summons,
discovered the mistake he had committed in not listening to the counsel,
and copying the example of the constable, who had come to Fontainebleau
well attended by retainers. Unhappily, the irresolution into which he
now fell led to the loss of a capital opportunity. The levies ordered by
Francis in Dauphiny, for the purpose of assisting the papal legate in
expelling Montbrun from the "Comtât," enabled the Sieur de Maligny to
collect a large Huguenot force without attracting notice. It had been
arranged that these troops should be first employed in seizing the
important city of Lyons for the King of Navarre. A part of the Huguenot
soldiers had, indeed, already been secretly introduced into the
city,2 when letters were received from the irresolute Antoine
indefinitely postponing the undertaking. After having for several days
deliberated respecting his best course of conduct in these unforeseen
circumstances, Maligny decided to withdraw as quietly as he had come;
but a porter, who had caught a glimpse of the arms collected in one of
the places of rendezvous, informed the commandant of the city. In the
street engagement which ensued the Huguenots were successful, and for
several hours held possession of the city from the Rhône to the Saône.
Finding it impossible, however, to collect the whole force to carry out
his original design, Maligny retired under cover of the night, and was
so fortunate as to suffer little loss.3
1 Throkmorton to queen, Poissy, Oct. 10, 1560, State Paper Office.
2 In a despatch to his ambassador at Madrid, Sept. 18, 1560 (Négoc. sous François II., 523, etc.),
Francis states that 1,000 or 1,200 armed soldiers had been posted in sixty-six houses, ready to
sally out by night, capture the city, and open the gates to 2,000 men waiting outside. Of
course, according to the king or his ministers, the object was plunder, and the enterprise a
fair specimen of Huguenot sanctity.
3 La Planche, 365-368; La Place, 69; Nég. sous François II., ubi supra; Mém. de Castelnau, 1. ii.,
c. 9; Languet, ii. 70; De Thou, ii. 806. Calvin, in a letter to Beza (Sept. 10, 1560), seems to
allude, though not by name, to Maligny, and to condemn his rashness; but the passage is purposely too obscure to throw much light upon the matter. Bonnet, iv. 126, etc.
The people not discouraged. "The fashion of Geneva."
Books from Geneva destroyed.
Maligny's failure disconcerted Montbrun and Mouvans, with whom he had
intended to co-operate, but had little effect in repressing the courage
of the Huguenot people. Of this the royal despatches are the best
evidence. Francis wrote to Marshal de Termes that since the Assembly of
Fontainebleau there had been public and armed gatherings in an infinite
number of places, where previously there had been only secret meetings.
In Périgord, Agenois, and Limousin, an infinite number of scandalous
acts were daily committed by the seditious, who in most places lived
after the fashion of Geneva. Such canaille must be "wiped out."1
A month later those pestilent "books from Geneva" turn up again. Count
de Villars, acting for Constable Montmorency in his province of
Languedoc, had burned two mule-loads of very handsomely bound volumes,
much to the regret of many of the Catholic troopers, who grudged the
devouring flames a sacrifice worth more than a thousand crowns.2 But
he quickly followed up the chronicle of this valiant action with a
complaint of his impotence to reduce the sectaries to submission. The
Huguenots of Nismes had taken courage, and guarded their gates. So, or
even worse, was it of Montpellier3 and Pézénas. Other cities were
about to follow their example.
1 Letter of the king, apud Négoc. sous François II., 580, 581.
2 The curious reader may task his ingenuity in deciphering the somewhat remarkable spelling
in which the count quaintly relates the occurrence in question: "Aytant o Pont-Sainct-Esperit,
je trouvis entre les mains de Rocart, capitayne de là, deux charges de mulles de livres
de Genaive, fort bien reliez: toutefoys cela ne les en carda que je ne les fice toux brûler,
comensent le prumier à les maytre o fu; de coe je fu bien suivi de monsieur de Joyeuse, vous asseurent qu' ill i en avoet beocoup de la copagnie qu'il les playnoet fort, les estiment plus
de mille aycus: pour sayte foys-là je ne les voullus croere." Letter of
Villars to the constable, Oct. 12, 1560, apud Négoc. sous François II., p. 655.
3 On Sunday, the 28th of July, a gathering composed almost
entirely of women was discovered. Nothing daunted, 1,200 persons met the
next night, with torches and open doors, in the large school-rooms,
where their pastor, Maupeau, preached an appropriate sermon from Rev.
vi. 9, on "the souls of them that were slain for the word of God." Soon
the same place was resorted to by day. Summoned before the magistrates,
judge, and consuls, the Huguenots declared their loyalty, but said that
they had no idea that the king wanted to dictate to the conscience,
which belongs to God. Presently the church of St. Michael was seized.
Then the Cardinal of Lorraine (Oct. 14th) wrote to the bishop, telling
him to call upon M. de Villars for aid in suppressing assemblies and the
preaching. Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 207-210.
Fifteen cities in one province receive ministers.
The children learn religion in the Geneva catechism.
These were but the beginnings of evil. Three days passed, and the
Lieutenant-Governor of Languedoc sent a special messenger to the king,
to inform him of the rapid progress of the contagion. Fifteen of the
most considerable cities of the province had openly received
ministers.1 Ten thousand foot and five hundred horse would be needed
to reduce them, and, when taken, they must be held by garrisons, and
punished by loss of their municipal privileges.2 A fortnight more
elapsed. Three or four thousand inhabitants of Nismes had retired in
arms to the neighboring Cevennes.3 When they descended into the
plain, a larger number, who had submitted on the approach of the
soldiery, would unite with them and form a considerable army. "Heresy,
alas, gains ground daily," despondingly writes Villars; "the children
learn religion only in the catechism brought from Geneva; all know it by
heart." The cause of the evil he seemed to find in the
circumstance--undoubtedly favorable to the Huguenots--that, of
twenty-two bishops whose dioceses lay in Languedoc, all but five or six
To all which lamentations the answer came back after the
1 They are Nismes, Montpellier, Montagnac, Annonay,
Castres, Marsillargues, Aigues Mortes, Pézénas, Gignac, Sommières, St.
Jean de Gardonnenches, Anduze, Vauvers (Viviers?), Uzès, and Privas.
2 Sommaire des instructions données à Pignan envoyé au roy
par Honorat de Savoye, Cte. de Villars, Oct. 15, 1560, apud Négoc.
sous François II., 659-661.
3 On hearing of the seizure of Aigues Mortes by treachery.
Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 211.
4 Letters of De Villars to the Guises, Oct. 27 and 29,
1560. Nég. sous François II., 671.
accustomed fashion: "Slay, hang without respect to the forms of law;
send lesser culprits, if preferable, to the galleys."1
In Normandy, too, it began to be impossible for the Huguenots to conceal
themselves. At Rouen, in spite of the severe penalties threatened, seven
thousand persons gathered in the new market-place, on the twenty-sixth
of August, "singing psalms, and with their preacher in the midst on a
chair preaching to them," while five hundred men with arquebuses stood
around the crowd "to guard them from the Papists." A few days before, at
the opening of the great fair of Jumièges, a friar, according to custom,
undertook to deliver a sermon; but the people, not liking his doctrine,
"pulled him out of the pulpit and placed another in his place."2
Elections for the States General.
Nor was the courage of the Huguenots less clearly manifested a little
later in the elections preparatory to the holding of the States General.
In spite of strict injunctions issued by the Cardinal of Lorraine to the
officers in each bailiwick and sénéchaussée, to prevent the debate of
grievances from touching upon the authority of the Guises or that of the
Church, and especially to defeat the election of any but undoubted
friends of the Roman Church, his friends were successful in neither
attempt. The voice of the oppressed people made itself heard in
thunder-tones at Blois, at Angers,3 and elsewhere. Even in
Paris--the stronghold of the Roman faith--the reformed ventured, in face
of a vast numerical majority against them, to urge in the Hôtel-de-Ville
the insertion of their remonstrances in the "cahiers" of the city. Of
thirteen provinces, ten addressed such complaints to the States
Clerical demands at Poitiers.
But the clerical order did not forget its old demands, even where the
Tiers État leaned to toleration. The provincial
1 Letter of the king to the Cte. de Villars, November 9, 1560. Ib., p. 673.
2 H. Barnsleye to Cecil, August 28, 1560, State Paper Office.
3 I know of no more scathing exposure of the morals of the
clergy than that given by François Grimaudet, the representative of the
Tiers État of Anjou, and inserted verbatim in La Planche, 389-396. It
was honored by being made the object of a special censure of the
4 La Planche, 387-397; Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 199.
estates of Poitou, meeting in the Dominican convent of Poitiers, presented
a contrast of this kind. The delegates of the people, after listening to the
eloquent appeal of an intrepid Huguenot pastor, determined to petition the
States General for the free exercise of the reformed religion. The
representatives of the church made its complaints regarding the
"ravishing wolves, false preachers, and their adherents, who are to-day
in so great numbers that there are not so many true sheep knowing the
voice of their shepherds." The "mild and holy admonitions" of the church
having been thrown away upon these reprobates, the clergy proposed to
open a register of all that should neglect to receive the sacrament at
Easter, and to attend the church services with regularity. And it made
the modest demand that all persons honored with an entry in this book
should, as heretics, be deprived of all right to make contracts, that
their wills be declared hull and void, and that all their property--in
particular all houses in which preaching had been held--be confiscated.
Of course, the aid of the secular arm was invoked, in view of "the great
number and power of the said heretics."1