History of the rise of the huguenots



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His assurances to the Ambassador of Denmark.

That influence he occasionally seemed anxious to exert in behalf of the

reformed faith. He assured Gluck, the Danish ambassador, that, before

the expiration of the year, he would cause the Gospel to be preached

throughout the entire kingdom. And he displayed some magnanimity when he

answered Gluck, who had expressed anxiety that Lutheranism should be

substituted for Calvinism in France, that "inasmuch as the two

Protestant communions agreed in thirty-eight of the forty articles in

which both differed from the Pope, all Protestants ought to make common

cause against the oppression of the Roman See; it would afterward be an

easy task to arrange their minor differences, and restore the Church to

its pristine purity and splendor."2


Intrigue of Artus Désiré. Curiosity to hear Huguenot preaching and singing.

So wonderful an awakening as that which was now witnessed in almost

every part of France could not long continue without arousing violent

resistance. The very signs that seemed to indicate the speedy triumph of

the Reformation were, indeed, the occasion of the institution of an

organized opposition of the most formidable character. Hints of the

propriety of calling in foreign assistance had even before this time

been audibly whispered. The theologians of the Sorbonne, alarmed at the

apparent favor displayed for the reformed teachers by the court, had

despatched one Artus Désiré with a letter to Philip




1 La Place, 121; De Thou, iii. (liv. xxvii.) 40; Mém. de

Condé, ii. 24, 25.]



2 La Place, 121, 122; De Thou, iii. (liv. xxvii.) 40, 41.]

the Second, in which they supplicated his intervention in behalf of the


Catholic religion, now threatened with ruin. Happily the enterprise was
nipped in the bud, and, on the arrest of Artus at Orleans, on his way to
Spain, the nefarious conspiracy was fully divulged. The priestly agent, after

craven prayers for his life, was immured for a time in a cloister.1

Well might the Romish party fear. The curiosity to hear the preaching of

the Word of God by men of piety and learning, the desire to hear those

grand psalms of Marot solemnly chanted by the chorus of thousands of

human voices, had infected every class of society. The records of the

chapters of cathedrals, during this period of universal spiritual

agitation, are little else, we are told, than a list of cases of

ecclesiastical discipline instituted against chaplains, canons, and even

higher dignitaries, for having attended the Huguenot services. At Rouen,

the chief singer of Notre Dame acknowledged before the united chapter

that he had often been present at the "assemblies"--nay, more--"that he

had never heard anything there which was not good."2
Constable Montmorency's disgust.

In the court at Fontainebleau the contagion daily spread. Beza, it is true, gave


expression to the warning that "not to be a Papist and to be a Christian were
different things."3 But of external marks of an altered condition of things
there was no lack. Little account was taken of the arrival of Lent. Meat was
openly sold and eaten.4 Huguenot preachers conducted


1 Letter of Beza to Wolf, March 25, 1561, ap. Baum, ii., App., 30, 31; The Journal
de Jehan de la Fosse, under May, 1561 (p. 43), has this entry: "Artus Désiré fist
amende honorable, tout nud, la torche au poing, dedans le palais, en ung jeudy, 14^e
du mois, et fut condamné à rester dedans les Chartreux cinq ans au pain et à l'eau: il
y fut quatre moys; les ungs disent qu'il s'en fut, les aultres que les Chartreux le firent
sortir, craignant les huguenots. Depuis il ne se cacha pas, et se promenoit à Paris."

2 "Où il n'a rien entendu qui ne fust bon." Reg. capit. Eccles. Rothom., March 16, 1561,
apud Floquet, Hist. du parlement de Normandie, ii. 374, 375.

3 "Aliud est Christianum esse quatn Papistam non esse."

Letter to Wolf, March 25, 1561, ap. Baum, ubi supra.



4 This very year parliament had issued an order, at the

commencement of Lent, directing the sick, "permission préalablement

obtenue," to purchase the meat they needed of the butcher of the

Hôtel-Dieu, who alone was permitted to sell, and who was compelled to

submit weekly to the court a record, not only of the permissions granted

and the persons to whom he sold, but even of the quantity which each

applicant obtained! Registers of Parliament, Feb. 27, 1561, apud

Félibien, Histoire de Paris, iv., Preuves, 797.

their services publicly in the apartments of the Prince of Condé
and of Admiral Coligny, first outside of the castle, and then
within its precincts. Catharine herself, partaking of the general

zeal, declared her intention to hear the Bishop of Valence preach before

the young king and the court, in the saloon of the castle. Such was the

news that irritated and alarmed the aged, but still vigorous Anne of

Montmorency. By birth, by tradition, by long association, the constable

was a devoted Roman Catholic. If any motive were wanting to determine

him to cling to the ancient régime, it was afforded by the proposition

made in the late Particular Estates of Paris that the favorites of the

last two monarchs should be required to disgorge the enormous gifts that

had helped to impoverish the nation. This project, for which he held the

Huguenots responsible, was repugnant alike to his pride and to his

exorbitant avarice. His prejudices were, moreover, skilfully fanned into

a flame by interested companions. His wife, Madeleine de Savoie--partly

from conviction, partly through jealousy of his children by a former

marriage--her brother, the Count of Villars,1 and the Marshal of

St. André--a crafty, insidious adviser--plied him with plausible

arguments. Diana, the Duchess of Valentinois, solicited him by daily

messages. How could the first Christian baron abandon the ancient faith?

How could the favorite of Henry the Second consent to let his rich

acquisitions escape him?2


Marshal Montmorency remonstrates.

On one occasion the constable was himself induced to attend the service

in the castle at which Bishop Montluc preached; but he came out highly

displeased at the doctrines he had heard,3




1 Honorat de Savoie, Comte de Villars, had a private

grudge to satisfy against the admiral, who had complained to the king of

the cruelties which he had perpetrated in Languedoc. La Place, 122.

2 La Place, Commentaires, ubi supra; De Thou, iii. (liv.

xxvii.) 41-43; Hist. ecclés., i. 287; Huguenot poetical libel in Le

Laboureur, Add. to Castelnau, i. 745.

3 "Auquel (l'evesque de Valence) il dict qu'il se

contentoit de ceste fois, et qu'il n'y retournerois plus." La Place,

Commentaires, ubi supra; De Thou, ubi supra.

and more convinced than ever that there was a secret compact between


Catharine de' Medici and the King of Navarre to change the religion of
the country. The next day a number of high nobles, in part ancient
enemies--Montmorency, Guise, Montpensier, St. André--met in the
obscure chapel of the "basse-court," where a Dominican monk held forth
to the common retainers of the royal court. The constable's eldest son, the
upright but sluggish Marshal de Montmorency, himself having a secret
leaning for the reformed doctrines, was alarmed by this threatening
demonstration, and immediately sought, in a private interview with his father,
to deter him from entering the arena as the ally of his former antagonists and
the opponent of his own nephews, Coligny and D'Andelot. Better, he urged, to be
umpire than participant in so ungrateful a contest. The Châtillons, of whom Anne
had said that, if they were as good Christians in deed as they were in

profession, they would exercise forgiveness toward the Guises,

themselves came to see their offended uncle, and protested that they

wished the cardinal and his brothers no evil, but desired merely to

remove their ability to do them further damage. Neither his son nor his

nephews made any impression on the obstinate disposition of the

constable. He had caught at the bait by which skilful anglers allured

him. He fancied himself the chosen champion of the church of his

fathers, now assaulted by redoubtable enemies. What a glorious prospect

lay before him if he succeeded! What a halo would surround his name, if

the splendor of the military achievements of his youth should be thrown

into the shade by the superior glory of having, in his old age, rescued

the most Christian nation of the world from the inroads of heresy! To

every argument he could only be brought to repeat the trite sophism,

"that a change of religion could not be effected without a revolution in

the state," and that, though he had no fear of being compelled to

restore the gifts he had received from the late monarchs, he would not

suffer their actions to be questioned or their honor impeached.1


1 La Place, Commentaires, 123, De Thou, iii. (liv. xxvii.)

45. How deep the disappointment felt by the Protestants at the

constable's course must have been, can be gathered from the sanguine

picture of the prospects of the French Reformation drawn by Languet a

couple of months earlier. Arguing from the comparative mildness of

Montmorency in the persecutions under Henry II., from the fact that he

had allowed no one of his five sons to enter the ecclesiastical state,

which offered rare opportunities of advancement, and from the influence

which his sons and his three nephews--all favorably inclined to, if not

The Triumvirate formed. A spurious statement.

On Easter day (the sixth of April), the finishing stroke was given to

the new compact between the leaders of the anti-reformed party. Anne de

Montmorency and François de Guise partook side by side of the sacrament

in the chapel of Fontainebleau, and that evening Guise, Joinville, and

St. André were invited guests at the table of the constable.1 To

the union now distinctly formed, its opponents, in allusion to the

number of the foremost members and to their proscriptive designs, soon

applied the name of "Triumvirate"--the designation by which it has ever

since been known. What the details of these designs were is not

altogether certain. If the document that has come down to us, purporting

to be an authoritative statement emanating from the original parties to

the scheme, could be depended on as genuine, it would disclose to us an

atrocious plot, not only against the Huguenots of France, but for the

extirpation of Protestantism throughout the world. The sanguinary

project was to be executed under the superintendence of his Catholic

Majesty of Spain. The King of Navarre, the support of heresy in France,

was first to be seduced by promises or terrified by threats. Should

neither course prove successful, Philip was to raise an army in the most

secret manner before winter. Should Antoine yield at once, he was to be

expelled from the kingdom, with his wife and children. Should he attempt

resistance, the Duke of Guise would declare himself the head of the

Catholics, and, between him and Philip, the heretical King of Navarre

would speedily be crushed. Then were all that had ever professed the reformed


open adherents of the new doctrines--would exert over the old man, he

not unnaturally came to this conclusion: "I am, therefore, of opinion

that, if the Guises still retain any power, the constable will join

Navarre for the purpose of overwhelming them, and will make no

opposition to Navarre if he sets on foot a moderate reformation of

doctrine." Epist. secr., ii., p. 102.



1 La Place and De Thou, ubi supra.

faith to be slain. Not one was to be spared. The entire race

of the Bourbons was to be exterminated, lest an avenger or a

resuscitator of Protestantism should arise from its descendants. The

emperor and the Catholic princes of Germany would prevent the

Protestants beyond the Rhine from sending succor to their French

brethren. The Roman Catholic cantons of Switzerland, with the assistance

of the Pope, would engage the Protestant cantons. To the Duke of Savoy,

supported by Philip and the Italian dukes, was intrusted the welcome

task of destroying utterly the nest of heresy--Geneva. Here should the

executioner revel in the blood of his victims. Not an inhabitant was to

escape. All, without respect to age or sex, were to be slain with the

sword or drowned in the lake, as an evidence that divine retribution had

compensated for the delay by the severity of the punishment, causing the

children to bear, as an example memorable to all time, the penalty of

the wickedness of their fathers. The fruits of the French confiscations

would be applied as a loan to the expenses of the crusade in Germany,

where the united forces of France, the emperor, and the Catholic princes

would subjugate the followers of Luther, as they had already

exterminated the disciples of Calvin.

Such are the reported details of a plan almost too gross for belief. It

is true that the existence of similar schemes--less extensive, perhaps,

but equally sanguinary, and, in the light of history, not much less

absurd--formed by the adherents of the papacy during the sixteenth

century, is too well attested to admit of doubt. But the historical

difficulties surrounding this document have never yet been

satisfactorily explained, and the student of the Huguenot annals must

still content himself with regarding it as a summary of reports current

within the first two years of the reign of Charles the Ninth, respecting

the secret designs of the Triumvirs, rather than as an authorized

statement of their intentions.1


1 This document first appears in the Mémoires de Condé,

under the title "Sommaire des choses premièrement accordées entre les

Ducs de Montmorency Connestable, et De Guyse Grand Maistre, Pairs de

France, et le Mareschal Sainct André, pour la Conspiration du

Triumvirat, et depuis mises en déliberation à l'entrée du Sacré et

Sainct Concile de Trente, et arrestée entre les Parties, en leur privé

Conseil faict contre les Hérétiques, et contre le Roy de Navarre, en

tant qu'il gouverne et conduit mal les affaires de Charles neufiesme Roy

de France, Mineur; lequel est Autheur de continuel accroissement de la

nouvelle Secte qui pullule en France." The principal provisions are

given by De Thou, iii. (liv. xxix.) 142, 143, under date of 1562, who

explicitly states his disbelief of its authenticity. Neither, indeed,

does the compiler of the Mém. de Condé vouch for it. Among other

objections that have been urged with force against the genuineness of



Massacres in holy week.

While the intrigues of the Duchess of Valentinois and other bigots had

been successful at court, the enemies of the Huguenots

the document, are the following: The improbability that the Triumvirs

would mature a plan involving all the Catholic sovereigns of Europe

without previously obtaining their consent, of which there is no trace;

the inconsistency of the project with the well-known policy and

character of the German Emperor Ferdinand; the improbability that the

Council of Trent would indorse a plan aimed at the humiliation of

Navarre, who, when the council actually reassembled in January, 1562,

was completely won over to the Roman party. In favor of the document may

be urged: First, that M. Capefigue (Histoire de la réforme, de la ligue,

etc., ii. 243-245) asserts: "J'ai trouvé cette pièce, qu'on a crue

supposée, en original et signée dans les MSS. Colbert, bibl. du roi."

Prof. Soldan, who has devoted an appendix to the first volume of his

Gesch. des Prot. in Frankreich, to a discussion of this reported

agreement between the Triumvirs, was unsuccessful in finding any trace

of such a paper. Secondly, that the Mémoires de Guise, the manuscript of

which, according to the statement of the editor, M. Aimé Champollion,

fils (Notice sur François de Lorraine, due d'Aumale et de Guise,

prefixed to his Mémoires, first published in the Collection

Michaud-Poujoulat, 1851, p. 5), is partly in the handwriting of the duke

himself, partly in that of his secretary, Millet, insert the "Sommaire"

precisely as it stands in the Mémoires de Condé, without any denial of

its authenticity. This would appear, at first sight, to settle the

question beyond cavil. But it must be borne in mind that many of the

mémoires of the sixteenth century are compiled on the plan of including

all contemporary papers of importance, whether written by friend or by

foe. Frequently the most contradictory narratives of the same event are

placed side by side, with little or no comment. This is precisely the

case with those of Guise, in which, for example, no less than four

accounts--three of them from Huguenot sources--are given of the

massacre of Vassy. Now we have the testimony of De Thou (ubi supra)

that this agreement, industriously circulated by the Prince of Condé and

the Huguenots, made a powerful impression not only in France, but in

Germany and all Northern Europe. So important a document, even if a

forgery, would naturally find a place in such a collection as the

Mémoires of Guise. Altogether the matter is in a singularly interesting

position. Could the manuscript seen by M. Capefigue be found and

re-examined critically, the truth might, perhaps, be reached. M. Henri

Martin, in his excellent Histoire de France, x. 79, note, accepts the

document as genuine.

had not been idle in other parts of France. Fearful of the effect which the
apparent union between Catharine and the King of Navarre might produce
in accelerating the advance of the reformed doctrines, they resolved to

stir up the zeal of the populace--that portion of the people that

retained the strongest devotion for the traditional faith--in the

country as well as in the capital.1 Holy week furnished

opportunities that were eagerly embraced. Fanatical priests and monks

wrought up the excitable mob to a frenzy.2 When their passions had

reached a fervent heat, it was easy to bring on seditious explosions,

the blame of which could be attached to the other party. "Few cities in

the realm," says Abbé Bruslart in his journal, "escaped at this time

riots and tumultuous scenes occasioned by the new religion."3

Amiens, Pontoise, and Paris itself were among the scenes of these

disorders. Twenty cities witnessed the slaughter of Protestants by the

infuriated rabble.4
The affair at Beauvais.

The disturbance that attracted more attention than any other took place

in the episcopal city of Beauvais--about forty miles north of Paris--on

Easter Monday, the very next day after Montmorency, Guise, and St. André

had been confirming their inauspicious compact at the sacred feast in

honor of a risen Redeemer. The Bishop of Beauvais was the celebrated

Cardinal Odet de Châtillon, long suspected of being at heart a convert

to the reformed doctrines. More bold than




1 The "plebe e populo minuto," the Venetian Michiel tell us, "è quello che si
vede certo con gran fervenzia e devozione frequentar le chiese, e continuar li
riti cattolici." Relations des Amb. Vén. i., 412.

2 "Aulcuns desditz ecclésiasticques," is Claude Haton's

ingenuous admission respecting his fellow priests of this period,

"estoient fort vicieux encores pour lors, et les plus vicieux estoient

ceux qui plus resistoient auxditz huguenotz, jusques à mettre la main

aux cousteaux et aux armes." Mémoires, i. 129.

3 Mémoires de Condé, i. 27.

4 "In viginti urbibus aut circiter trucidati fuerunt pii a furiosa plebe." Letter of Calvin
to Bullinger, May 24, 1561, apud Baum, ii., App., 33. At Mans, on Lady-Day
(March 25th), so serious a riot took place, that the bishop felt compelled to
apologize in a letter to Catharine (April 23d), in which he excuses his flock by
alleging that they were exasperated beyond endurance by the sight of a Huguenot

"assemblée" openly held by day in the "Faubourg St. Jehan," contrary to

the royal ordinances--some of the attendants, he asserts, coming out of

the meeting armed. His letter is to be found in the Mém. de Condé, ii. 339.

he had formerly been, he now openly fostered their spread in his diocese.1
But even the personal popularity of the brother of Coligny and D'Andelot could not, in the present instance, secure immunity for the preachers who proclaimed
the Gospel under his auspices. Incited by the priesthood, the people
overleaped all the bounds within which they had hitherto contained
themselves. The occasion was a rumor spread abroad that the Cardinal,
instead of attending the public celebration of the mass in his cathedral
church, had, with his domestics, participated in a private communion in
his own palace, and that every communicant had, at the hands of the Abbé
Bouteiller, received both elements, "after the fashion of Geneva."
Hereupon the mob, gathering in great force, assailed a private house in
which there lived a priest accused of teaching the children the
doctrines of religion from the reformed catechisms. The unhappy Adrien
Fourré--such was the schoolmaster's name--was killed; and the rabble,
rendered more savage through their first taste of blood, dragged his
corpse to the public square, where it was burned by the hands of the
city hangman. Odet himself incurred no little risk of meeting a similar
fate. But the strength of the episcopal palace, and the sight of their
bishop clothed in his cardinal's costume, appeased the mob for the time;
and before the morrow came, a goodly number of the neighboring nobles
had rallied for his defence.2

Assault on the house of Longjumeau.

If such riotous attacks followed the preaching of the ecclesiastics in

the provinces, the demonstrations of hostility to the exercises of the

Protestants could not be of a milder type in the midst of the turbulent

populace of Paris, and within a stone's throw of the Collége de la

Sorbonne. Toward the end of



1 And was openly denounced by his clergy from the pulpit,

in Passion Week, as an "apostate," a "traitor," a "new Judas," etc.

Bulletin, xxiii. 84.

2 De Thou, iii. (liv. xxviii.) 51, 52; Histoire ecclés.,

i. 287; La Place, 124; Calvin to Bullinger, Baum, ii., App., 33; Journal

de Bruslart, Mém. de Condé, ii. 27. Interesting documents from the

municipal records of Beauvais, Bulletin, xxiii. (1874) 84, etc. Letter

of Chantonnay, Rheims, May 10, 1561 (Mém. de Condé, ii. 11), who adds:

"L'Admiral ha tant peu avec le crédit qu'il ha ver Monsieur de Vendosme

[Navarre], que l'on a exécuté deux ou trois de ceulx du peuple; lequel

depuis s'est levé de nouveau, et a pendu le bourreau qui feit

l'exécution."

April information was received that the city residence of


the Sieur de Longjumeau, situated on the Pré aux Clercs,
was becoming a haunt of the Huguenots. It was not long before

the rabble, with ranks recruited from the neighboring colleges,

instituted an assault. But they met with a resistance upon which they

had not counted. Forewarned of his danger, Longjumeau had gathered

beneath his roof a number of friendly nobles, and laid in a good supply

of arms. The undisciplined crowd fled before the well-directed fire of

the defenders, and left several men dead and a larger number wounded on

the field. Not satisfied with this victory by force of arms, Longjumeau

resorted to parliament. But the court displayed its usual partiality for

the Roman Catholic faith. While it abstained from justifying the

assailants, and forbade the students from assembling in the

neighborhood, it reiterated the adage that "there is nothing more

incompatible than the co-existence of two different religions in the

same state,"1 censured the nobleman's conduct, and ordered him

forthwith to retire to his castle at Longjumeau.2

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