Arrival of five German delegates.
The conference of Poissy had scarcely been definitely abandoned when
five German Protestants appeared upon the scene. Three of these--Andreä,
Beuerlin, and Balthasar Bidembach--had been sent by the Duke of
Würtemberg; the others--Bouquin and Dilher--by the Elector Palatine.
Early in the summer, the King of Navarre, anxious to strengthen himself
by enlisting in his favor the Protestant princes of Germany, had expressed
to them the desire, in which Catharine coincided, that some theologians
1 Baum, ii. 408.
2 Oct. 20th, according to Recueil des anc. lois franç., xiv. 122.
3 Text of the edict in Mém. de Condé, ii. 520-528 (De
Thou, iii. 99, following the Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., erroneously
gives the date as Nov. 3d); Letter of Beza, Oct. 21st, Baum, ii., App.,
109; Letter of Martyr, Oct. 17th, ibid., 107.
4 Beza, ubi supra; Car. Joinvillæus, Nov. 5th, Baum,
ii., App., 123.
5 Oct. 19th, according to Bruslart, Mém. de Condé, i. 59.
According to La Place, the assembly of the prelates did not break up
until the 30th of October, after a session of about three months: "Et le
trentiesme dudict mois ... fut ainsi finie ladicte assemblée, sans
apporter autre fruict, après avoir esté toutesfois assemblés [les
prélats] par l'espace de trois mois ou environ." (Page 201.)
--learned and pious men, and inclined to peace--should be
sent from beyond the Rhine to take part in the adjustment of the
religious questions at the Colloquy of Poissy. The Protestant electors,
the Landgrave of Hesse, and the Duke of Würtemberg, were unable,
however, to agree on the instructions to be given to the envoys. While
the duke, devotedly attached to the doctrines of Luther, was bent upon
strongly recommending the adoption of the Augsburg Confession, the other
princes could not acquiesce in his plan. The landgrave refused to throw
additional difficulties in the way of the reformed churches of France,
just emerging from a period of relentless persecution, and seeking for
the public recognition of the right to worship God, for which so many
martyrs had cheerfully laid down their lives. The Elector of Saxony
distrusted the sincerity of the intentions of the French court. As for
the Count Palatine, he himself had embraced the reformed theology, and
could not be expected to urge the Huguenots to give up their own
well-digested confession for one which they considered far inferior to
it in all respects.1 And so it happened that, in consequence of a
diversity of sentiment regarding both doctrine and policy, there was no
general deputation sent to France, and the delegates of the two princes
who complied with the invitation arrived at Paris after the
colloquy--too late to do any harm, if not soon enough to do much good.
They were courteously received by the court. The Würtembergers, in
particular, were allowed frequent opportunities of explaining the merits
of the Lutheran doctrine of the Lord's Supper. Before their return into
Germany, they were distinctly informed by Navarre that, while he
recommended a closer union between the two branches of the Protestant
Church, his own views accorded with those of the adherents of the
Augsburg Confession; and that his only reason for delaying to subscribe
to it was a fear lest this step might interfere with the execution of
the union he desired to effect.2
1 "De fait," wrote Calvin of the Augsburg Confession, "elle est si maigrement bastie,
si molle et si obscure, qu'on ne s'y sauroit arrester." Letter to Beza, Sept. 24, 1561. Bonnet,
Lettres franç., ii. 428; Baum, ii., App., 70.]
2 The account of the occasion of the mission of delegates
from Germany, given in the text, is based on Soldan, Gesch. des Prot, in
Frankreich, i. 531-537. He has, I think, sufficiently demonstrated the
inaccuracy of the ordinary story (accepted even by Prof. Baum, Theod.
Beza, ii. 370, 419, etc.), which attributes their advent chiefly, if not
wholly, to the desire of Lorraine. It is said that, after hearing Beza's
Why the colloquy proved a failure.
The Colloquy of Poissy had proved, so far as the objects contemplated by
its originators were concerned, a complete failure. Instead of drawing
the Roman Catholic and the reformed churches together, it had only
widened the breach separating them. Instead of exhibiting in a clearer
light the common ground on which a union might be practicable, it had
rendered patent to all the antagonism which could not be cloaked by
ambiguous phrases and incomplete statements of doctrine. It is certainly
worth while to inquire into some of the causes of a result so unexpected
to a great number of intelligent men, who had framed their anticipations
upon no superficial view of the subject.
Catharine's crude notion of a conference.
The crude notions of the court respecting the character which such a
conference ought to assume must be regarded as one of these causes.
Catharine, while extending the most gracious invitations to foreign
Protestants, was herself apparently undecided how to treat the Huguenots
when they should make their appearance. Even if we grant that her
explanations of the object of the projected colloquy, referred to on a
preceding page,1 received their coloring from the fact that she was
supplying her ambassador in Germany with plausible representations
wherewith to appease such irritated bigots as feared that the French
queen intended to propose a grave discussion of the religious
speech of the ninth of September, the cardinal sought to obtain, through the instrumentality of the Marshal de Vieilleville, at Metz, and his salaried spy Rascalon, at Heidelberg, some decided Lutherans, to be employed in bringing the Protestants at Poissy into contempt, through the wrangling of their theologians with those of Germany. See the Hist. Eccles. De egl. Ref., etc. Yet it is not improably, as La Place, Commentarieres, 200, seems to hint tha Navarre’s project was maliciously countenanced by the Cardinal of Lorraine. But the circumstance that, of the five German theologians, not less than two were opposed to the Augsburg Confession, proves conclusively that they could not have been despatched with the view of helping the cardinal out in his attempt. Bossuet’s admiration of the prelate’s sagacity, in thus seeking to give a brilliant demonstration of the variations of doctrine among Protestants, certainly seems to be wasted.
1 Ante, c. xi., p. 493.
question upon its own merits, yet the entire course of the conference exhibits
her inability to comprehend the nature of a fair debate of the matters
in dispute. The Huguenot ministers and delegates were obliged to
petition that the prelates should not be permitted to act as their
judges, and afterward to remind her of the promise she had given them to
this effect. Even after the point had been nominally accorded, the most
important questions respecting the conference were decided in the
council, where five cardinals and three bishops had seats.1
Under these circumstances it is not astonishing that Lorraine assumed a
tone of superiority which his relation to the debate by no means warranted.
Character of the prelates.
Besides this, the character of the assembly of prelates itself precluded
the possibility of an adjustment. With the exception of six or seven, so
insignificant were these ecclesiastical dignitaries individually, that,
as a modern historian has well remarked, not one distinguished himself
sufficiently to be named by any of the writers who treat of the
conference. They were, generally, the younger sons of the most
distinguished families in France, and had entered the church not from
devotion, but in consequence of an immemorial custom which consigned to
the episcopal dignity or to a rich abbacy the youth whom an elder
brother debarred from entertaining the hope of succeeding to his
father's dignities and possessions. Few of them had ever seen their
dioceses save on some great festival; none possessed the literary or
theological training necessary to qualify them for coping with the
master-minds among the Protestants. Accordingly, each bishop had to come
to Poissy with one or more "theologians," doctors of the Sorbonne, to
whose better judgment and superior learning he was content to defer on
every disputed point. There was little probability that a body thus
constituted would consent to enter into a candid consideration of the
differences separating the Roman Catholic and Protestant worlds.2
Influence of the papal legate. The despondent nuncio, Viterbo.
But the single event said by an eye-witness and actor in these
1 See the list of the twenty members of the council, in
Recueil des anc. lois franç., xiv. 55, 56.
2 See Baum, ii. 215.
scenes to have conduced more than any other to destroy all hope of agreement,
was the arrival at court of the papal legate, Ippolito D'Este, Cardinal
of Ferrara.1 Pope Pius IV. had long been watching the affairs of
France with deep solicitude. If his legates, Tournon and Lorraine, had
failed to alarm him by their reports of the progress of the "new
doctrines," he could not but be troubled by the accounts which came from
his nuncio in France, Sebastiano Gualtieri, Bishop of Viterbo.
Gualtieri, an experienced diplomatist, learned, eloquent--and not
wanting in cunning,2 if we may believe his successor in office--had
proved himself unequal to the duties of his present position, by giving
way to extreme despondency. In the gay capital of France he led a
wretched life, in constant dread of future disaster, and ceaselessly
uttering lugubrious prognostications. To the Pope he announced that
religious matters in France were desperate; everything was rushing to
ruin with ever-increasing velocity. The queen mother was unsound in the
faith, although, from motives of policy, she dissembled her true
sentiments. She favored a preacher, one Bouteiller, who was equally
unsound; and she refused to dismiss him when admonished of her error. He
begged the pontiff to recall him, so that he might not witness the
funeral obsequies of the unhappy kingdom.3
Anxiety of Pope Pius IV. The Nuncio Santa Croce. The Cardinal of Ferrara.
Pius, rendered more apprehensive by these continual tidings of evil, and
displeased with much that his legates had done,4 could no longer
delay to take decided action. Accordingly, he resolved to grant
Gualtieri's request, and to send as apostolic nuncio in his place Santa
Croce, Bishop of Pisa,
1 "Affulserat aliqua spes concordiæ, sed Legatus
Pontificius, i. e., Cardinalis Ferrariensis omnia perturbavit." Letter
of Martyr to the magistrates of Zurich, Oct. 17, 1561, Baum, ii., App., 108.
2 "Quique ingenio, eloquentia, artificio plurimum
valebat." Prosp. Santacrucii, Comment de civil. Galliæ dissen., 1461.
3 "Ne ipse exequiis, ut dicebat, illius regni interesset."
Ibid., ubi supra. Somewhat maliciously Santa Croce suggests that
Gualtieri was all the more reluctant to remain after he heard of the
creation of nineteen new cardinals, and learned that his own name was
not included in the list.
4 "Angebatur interea Romæ gravissimis curis Pius pontifex,
quod nec quæ legati fecissent satis probaret, et in dies malum magis
serpere, omniaque remedia minus juvare audiebat." Ib., 1462.
who had formerly occupied this position at Paris, but was now
acting in a similar capacity in Portugal.1 But so grave
did the conjuncture appear in the eyes of the papal court,
that, at a solemn consistory held on the twenty-eighth of June, the
resolution was adopted to despatch a third legate to St. Germain! The
pretext of this extraordinary mission was the desire to testify more
clearly than the selection of the two previously existing legates had
done, to the earnestness of the solicitude felt at Rome for the
interests of the Church in France.2 The true reason would appear to
have been to correct the mistakes which the existing legates were
supposed to have committed. For the delicate post of legatus a latere,
no better candidate could be found than the Cardinal of Ferrara.
Although a man of no high intellectual abilities, he had received a
thorough training in the Macchiavellian theory of politics,3 and,
during many years of diplomatic service, had enjoyed a fair opportunity
for schooling himself in its practical workings. The son of Lucretia
Borgia, the grandson of Pope Alexander the Sixth, could scarcely help
being an adept at intrigue. Next to this special qualification, his
highest recommendations were that he was the brother-in-law of Renée of
France, and so by marriage uncle of the Duke of Guise; and that he had
twelve good reasons for feeling deep concern for the steadfastness of
French orthodoxy, viz.: the three archbishoprics, the one bishopric, and
the eight rich abbeys which he held within the confines of Charles's
dominions, deriving therefrom an income which was popularly estimated at
from forty to sixty thousand crowns.4
1 He was described to the Pope by his secretary, Prosper
himself tells us, as "virum exercitatum, magni animi, multarum
literarum, eloquentem, magnæque apud Gallos auctoritatis," having
obtained great familiarity with French affairs when nuncio in Henry the
Second's lifetime. Ib., 1463.]
2 "Non tam ut numerus legatorum, quam ut plus auctoritatis
legatio haberet, si ab ipsius (ut dicunt) pontificis latere legatus
discederet ... quasi aliorum legatorum creatio, quod erant jam in
Gallia, neque Roma proficiscerentur, non satis diligenter curare
negotium diceretur." Ib., 1462.
3 "Grande hombre de entretenimientos y de encantar."
Vargas calls him. Letter to Granvelle, Nov. 15, 1561, Papiers d'état du
card. de Granvelle, vi. 416.
4 "Diess waren zwölf gewiss mächtige Gründe," etc. Baum,
ii. 302; La Place, 153; Marc' Ant. Barbaro, Rel. des Amb. Vén., ii. 86.
Master Renard turned monk.
The new legate accepted the appointment with alacrity. Not so the
nuncio. It was no small trial to leave the quiet court of Lisbon--where
his predecessors had been accustomed, during a short stay of a year or
two, to accumulate a handsome fortune1--for the turmoil of the
French capital, threatened every day with the outbreak of civil war,
where nothing but censure and hatred could be reaped.2 But Santa
Croce did not hesitate long to renounce his golden prospects, and almost
at the same moment that the Cardinal of Ferrara started from the banks
of the Tiber, the Bishop of Pisa set forth from the gates of Lisbon.
Neither legate nor nuncio, however, was in much haste to reach his
destination. Ferrara could plead ill-health, Santa Croce the prostrating
heat of the season.3 It took each of the prelates two months and a
half to accomplish his journey--the legate reaching the French court on
the nineteenth of September, the nuncio toward the end of the same
month.4 The former travelled in great magnificence, with a
brilliant escort of four hundred horsemen or more, and accompanied by
several bishops and other persons of distinction, among whom was Lainez,
the Jesuit, whose acquaintance we have already made. Avoiding the larger
French cities where the Reformation had gained a foothold, and where,
consequently, marks of popular insult were apprehended,5 he
received a brilliant welcome at the court, the king's brother Henry, and
others, riding out to greet him at his approach. The people were less
cordial. His assumed devotion could not deceive those who knew him to be
a devotee of pleasure.6 His appearance forcibly reminded them of the
1 "Multum inde auri reportaturus existimetur, si ibi annum
vel biennium communi omnium more transigat." Santacrucii, de civil.
Galliæ diss. comment., 1464.
2 That is, excepting the cardinal's hat, which his friends informed him would be
the reward of his services in France. Ibid., ubi supra.
3 Ibid., 1462, 1463, 1465.
4 Ibid., 1465.
5 "Lugduno hucusque omnes fere declinavit urbes in
itinere, ut quæ jam habeant Ministros, et ideo irrisiones extimuerit."
Letter of Peter Martyr, Sept. 19th, Baum, ii., App., 68.
6 "These artifices," wrote Languet from Paris at the time,
"impose upon no one; and especially from this man, who is very well
known here, who heretofore has surpassed even the highest princes in the
luxury and splendor of his mode of life, and of whose utter want of
knowledge of letters no one is ignorant." Letter of Sept. 20, 1561,
Epist. secr., ii. 140.
old story of Master Fox turned hermit, and cries of "Au Renard! Au
Renard!" were so loudly uttered when he was seen in the streets preceded
by an attendant carrying a large silver cross, the badge of his office,
that he was soon fain to discard the obnoxious emblem.1 This was
not the only insult he was compelled to swallow. A portrait of his
grandfather, Pope Alexander the Sixth, was engraved and published, with
an account of his life and death, in which the moral character of
Lucretia Borgia was painted in the darkest colors.2 It was,
however, speedily suppressed by the civil authorities.
Opposition of people and chancellor.
The plenary powers which the papal commission conferred upon Ippolito
d'Este created an opposition even in higher circles. He had, it is true,
apprehending an unfavorable reception, taken the pains to invite the
French ambassador at Venice to confer with him while he was stopping in
Ferrara on his way to Paris, and had assured him that he went with the
sole intention of subserving the interests of France, and would use the
powers given him by the Pope no farther than Charles desired.3 This
and reiterated assurances of the same tenor, after his arrival, did not
remove the scruples of Michel de l'Hospital. The latter insisted that
the authority which the Pope pretended to confer upon his legate was in
direct contravention of the resolution of the recent States General,
that ecclesiastical benefices should henceforth be at the disposition,
not of the Pope, but of the prelates in their respective dioceses, and
that no papal dispensations should hereafter be received. He therefore
declined to give to the pontifical warrant the official ratification without
which it was of no validity in the kingdom; and he was supported in his
1 La Place, 153.
2 Ibid., ubi supra; Baum, ii. 305.
3 Letter of the ambassador, Hurault de Bois-Taillé, July
12, 1561, Le Laboureur, Add. to Castelnau, i. 729. Hurault, however,
suspected that some mischief, which time would reveal, lay concealed
under this outward show of complaisance.
refusal by the majority of the royal council. He was, however,
overruled. It would be highly improper, the Cardinal of Ferrara
persuaded Catharine and her advisers to believe, that a prelate allied
to the royal house of France should be the first legate to be denied the
customary honors. And so L'Hospital, after receiving a direct order from
the king, and having had several altercations with the legate,
reluctantly affixed the great seal of France, taking care to relieve
himself of all responsibility by writing below it the words, Me non
consentiente. This addition for the present rendered the document
entirely useless, for parliament promptly refused to receive or register
that which had failed to meet with the chancellor's approbation.1
The legate's successful intrigues. His excessive complaisance.
The first great aim of Ferrara was to prevent the assembly of prelates
at Poissy from assuming in any degree the character of a national
council by undertaking a genuine reformation of doctrine or practice,
and to induce the reference of all such questions as ought there to have
been discussed, to the Council of Trent.2 How well he succeeded was
shown by the event. By purposely delaying his arrival until the assembly
had convened, he avoided the defeat that he might have experienced had
he been on the spot and opposed its opening.3 He was sufficiently
early, however, to effect all that was really of moment. His manners
were conciliatory and paved the way for his intrigues. Catharine was the
more friendly both to him and to Santa Croce, because of the contrast
between their deportment and that of Gualtieri, whom she hated for his
sour disposition and boorish ways.4 Navarre and the princes
suspected of a leaning toward Protestantism were plied with other arts.
In fact, so well did the legate counterfeit liberality of sentiment,
that even the Pope and his brethren of the Roman consistory seem to have
become a little alarmed. For he went so
1 La Place, 153.
2 Ibid., ubi supra.
3 Compare Baum, ii. 302, 303.
4 Santacrucii, de civil. Galliæ diss. com., 1465: "Quod
mirum in modum oderat episcopi Viterbensis et mores agrestes, et naturam
subacerbam, semperque, ut diximus, male ominantem." Vargas, viewing the
same personage from another point, was far more complimentary. Papiers
d'état du cardinal de Granvelle, vi. 404, 405.
far, on one occasion, as to accompany the Huguenot nobles to hear the sermon
of one of their ministers, greatly to the displeasure of the Pope and of Philip
the Second, as well as of the Cardinal of Tournon and other bigots at the
French court who could not follow the tangled thread of his tortuous
policy.1 It was difficult for him to convince them that he had made
this extraordinary concession simply in order to induce Antoine and his
more intractable queen in their turn to attend the Roman Catholic
services. Navarre was naturally the person whom legate and nuncio were
most anxious to influence. For, respecting Catharine, they soon
satisfied themselves that, if she was not a very ardent Romanist, she
was nothing of a Protestant.2 The King of Navarre, however, was to
be gained only by skilful and concerted diplomacy. Easy to be duped as
he was, he had met with so many disappointments that he required
something more than vague assurances to induce him to throw away the
solid advantages derived from still being the reputed head of the
Huguenots. For about this time his agents at Madrid and at Rome had been
coldly received. Philip and his minister Alva excused themselves from
paying any attention to his claims upon Navarre or an equivalent, until
Antoine had shown more decided devotion to Catholicism than was afforded
by simply attending mass, and they had made it evident that
1 Marc' Antonio Barbaro, Relations des Ambassadeurs
Vénitiens, ii. 88; Letter of Santa Croce, Poissy, Nov. 15, 1561, Lettres
anecdotes écrites au card. Borromée par Prosper de Sainte-Croix, nonce
du pape Pie IV. auprès de Catherine de Medicis, 1561-1565. (Aymon, Tous
les synodes nat. (1710), i. 15.) Vargas, Spanish ambassador at the papal
court, who feared that the legate might be induced to lend his influence
to Navarre's scheme for procuring a restitution of his wife's domains,
or an equivalent for them, besieged the pontiff with accounts of his
scandalous intimacy with French heretics of rank. "Repetíle lo que otras
vezes le havia dicho, y con quanto escándolo y ofension de la religion
se tractava en Francia, estrechándose en amistad con Vandoma y almirante
Chatiglon, obispo de Valencia, y los demas principales hereges, con gran
desconsuelo y desfavor de los cathólicos; y de como no era hombre apto
para una legacion semejante," etc. He accused him of already aiming at
the pontifical see, as if it were now vacant, and urged his immediate
recall. Letter of Vargas to Philip II. from Rome, Nov. 7, 1561; Papiers
d'état du cardinal de Granvelle, vi. 403, 404; see also pp. 405, 406.
2 Examine the curious passage in Santacrucii, de civil.
Galliæ diss. comment., 1470, 1471.
armed intervention in behalf of the French adherents of the old faith was
rather to be expected from the Spaniard, than any act of condescension
in favor of the titular king. From Rome he had scarcely obtained more
encouragement than from Madrid.1 Under these circumstances, it
seemed that little was needed to make his alienation from Romanism