History of the rise of the huguenots

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Antoine of Navarre plied with suggestions.

While, therefore, the Spanish ambassador, Chantonnay, brother of

Cardinal Granvelle, by his severity and his continual threats of war not

only discouraged the Navarrese king, but rendered himself so hateful to

the court that his presence could scarcely be endured,2 the papal

emissaries, to whom the Venetian Barbaro lent efficient aid, allured him

by brilliant hopes of a sovereignty which Philip, induced by the Pope's

intercessions, would confer upon him. Convinced that the destruction of

all hope of recovering Navarre from the Spanish king would instantly

cause Antoine to throw himself without disguise into the arms of the

Calvinists, and would thus secure the speedy triumph of the Reformation

throughout all France,3 they even persuaded Chantonnay to abate

somewhat of his insolence, and to ascribe his master's delay in

satisfying Antoine's requests to Philip's belief that his suppliant was

confident of being able to frighten the Spaniards into

restitution.4 They represented to Antoine himself that his only

chance of success lay in devotion to the Catholic faith. Joining

1 See the correspondence of Vargas with Philip II.

(letters of Sept. 30, Oct. 3 and 7, 1561), Papiers d'état du card.

Granvelle, vi. 342, 372, and 380; De Thou, iii. 78, 79; or the very full

account of Prof. Soldan, i. 515-521.

2 Rel. di Marc' Antonio Barbaro, Rel. des Amb. Vén., ii.

88, 89. "È proceduto esso ambasciatore con la regina e Navarra con

parole quasi sempre aspre e severe, minacciando di guerra dal canto del

re suo, et dicendo in faccia alle lor maestà parole assai gagliarde e

pungenti, e levando al re di Navarra del tutto la speranza della

ricompensa, stando le cose in quei termini, et ponendoli inanzi

l'inimicizia di Filippo."

3 "Etenim si de ilia (spe) ejiceretur dubium non erat,

quin se totum ad Calvinistas converteret, et qui cum pudore ac

simultatione illis favebat, perfricta fronte eorum sectam ita

promoveret, ut brevissimo tempore totum Galliæ regnum occuparet."

Sanctacrucii, de civ. Gall. diss. comment., 1471.

4 Ibid., 1473.

arms with "those flagitious men" the Huguenots, he would arouse the hostility

of almost all Christendom. The Pope, the priests, even the greater part

of France, would be his enemies. In a conflict with them he could place

little reliance upon troops unaccustomed to war and drawn from every

quarter--none at all upon the English, who were ancient enemies, or upon

the Germans, who fought for pay. Better would it be for him to secure

but half his demands by peace, than to lose all by trying the fortunes

of war.1

How thoroughly the legate and nuncio, with the assistance of their

faithful allies, the Spanish ambassador and the Guises, Montmorency and

St. André, were successful in seducing the unstable King of Navarre from

his allegiance to the Protestant faith, this, and the disastrous results

of his defection, will be developed in a subsequent part of our history.

Contradictory counsels. The triumvirate retire in disgust.

The edict of the eighteenth of October, for the restitution of the

churches of which the Huguenots had taken possession, was by no means an

exponent of the true dispositions of the court. It was rather a measure

of political expediency, reluctantly adopted, to attain the double end

of securing the pecuniary grant of which the government stood in

pressing need, and of preventing Philip from executing the threats of

invasion which Alva had but too plainly made in his interview with the

French envoy extraordinary, Montbéron d'Auzances, and the ambassador,

Sebastien de l'Aubespine2--threats which nothing would have been more

likely to convert into stern realities than the concession of the churches for

1 Santacrucii, de civ. Galliæ diss. com., 1472, 1473. That

the whole affair was planned in deceit and treachery, is patent not only

from Santa Croce's account both in his letters and in his systematic

treatise, but from the whole of the Vargas correspondence. Even when the

Pope--much to the ambassador's disgust--thought of complying with

Antoine's request to intercede with Philip for some indemnification for

the loss of the kingdom of Navarre, he took the pains to explain that

his urgency would not amount to importunity, much less to a command; his

aim was only to feed Antoine with false hopes while France was in so

precarious a situation: "esto seria por cumplir con Vandome y

entretenerle, por estar Francia en los términos en que está," etc.

Papiers d'état du cardinal de Granvelle, vi. 344.

2 De Thou, iii. 78, 79.

which the Protestants clamored. It was a measure determined

upon by a royal council in which the influence of the party

inclined to Protestant and liberal principles was preponderant; in which

the advice of the moderate Chancellor L'Hospital was supreme; in which

the plans of the Guises, of Montmorency and St. André, were set aside,

to make room for those of Condé and Montluc, Bishop of Valence. It is

this fact that furnishes the clue to a circumstance which at first sight

seems an inexplicable paradox, namely, that almost the very day on which

the intolerant resolution, compelling the Huguenots to surrender the

churches, even in places where they constituted the vast majority of the

population, was adopted, the members of the triumvirate, formed for the

express purpose of upholding the papal church in France, left the court

in disgust. It was scarcely to be expected that these ambitious nobles,

accustomed to occupy the first rank, and to dispose of the national

concerns according to their own private pleasure, should submit with

good grace to the decisions of a council in which the Bourbons held the

sway, and a hated chancellor's opinions were followed whom they

themselves had raised to his elevated position. Much less was it natural

for them to remain when the measures which the administration proposed

were of enlarged toleration, instead of greater repression. Accordingly,

the Duke of Guise left Saint Germain for Joinville, one of his estates

on the borders of Lorraine, while his brother, the cardinal, repaired to

his archbishopric of Rheims. Here, while pretending to apply himself

with unheard-of diligence to his duties as a spiritual shepherd, and

preaching, as was reported, rather the Lutheran than the Romish view of

the eucharist, he was making bids as high as those of the duke, if of a

different kind, for the favor and support of the neighboring German

princes who adhered to the Confession of Augsburg. Catharine, not sorry

to be rid of their presence, and "best pleased when the world was

discordant," gave them a kind dismissal. The elements were less

propitious. An extraordinarily severe storm that swept over St. Germain

on the day of their departure gave rise to a report among the courtiers that
"the devil was carrying them off." It was little suspected, quaintly remarks

the narrator of this incident, how soon he was going to bring them back!1

Cardinal Tournon and Constable Montmorency followed the example of the
Guises, and went into retirement.
Hopes entertained of the young king.

Charles's curiosity respecting the mass.

The prospect was at this moment as dark to the papal party as it was

full of encouragement for the Huguenots and their sympathizers. Nothing

but a resort to violence could avert the speedy downfall of the

authority of the Roman pontiff in France. A few months more of peace,

and everything might be lost.2 If the young king continued under

the influences now surrounding him, he might become a Huguenot openly,

as it was pretty well understood, by those who had the opportunity of

seeing him daily and noting his words and actions, that he was already

half inclined to be one now. The Queen of Navarre, the Prince of Condé,

and the leading Protestants at court perceived this and could not hide

their delight. One day about this time, Jeanne D'Albret drew the English

ambassador apart from the courtiers waiting upon her, and, having seated

him by her side, related a conversation she had within the past few days

held with Charles. It is thus reported by Throkmorton in a despatch to

Queen Elizabeth: "Good aunt," said the king, "I pray you tell me what

1 Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 419 (the author of

which, however, erroneously gives the end of November as the date of

their departure); Jean de Serres, Commentarii de statu relig. et

reipubl., i. 345 (who makes the same mistake); De Thou, iii. 99. "Cur

autem aliquid adhuc spei habeam, illud etiam in causa est quod nudius

tertius Guisiani omnes serio discesserunt, omnibus bonis invisi, ac

plerisque etiam malis. Abiit quoque Turnonius et Conestabilis....

Probabile est aliquid simul moliri, sed tamen incerto eventu. De hoc

intra paucos dies certi erimus, utinam ne nostro malo." Letter of Beza

to Calvin, Oct. 21, 1561, Baum, ii., App., 110.

2 That the Huguenots were about this time as sanguine as

their opponents were despondent, may be seen from the prediction of

Languet (letter of October 9th), that unless the opposite party

precipitated a war within two or three months, everything would be safe;

so great would be the accession of strength that the reformers would

actually be the strongest. At court everything tended in that direction,

and the queen mother herself was not likely to try to stem the current.

Martyr, it was reported, had several times brought tears to her eyes,

when conversing with her. "However," dryly observes the diplomatist, "I

am not over-credulous in these matters." Epist. secr., ii. 145.

doth this mean, that the king, my uncle, your husband, doth every day go

to mass, and you come not there, nor my cousin, your son, the Prince of

Navarre? I answered (quoth the queen), Sire, the king, my husband doth

so because you go thither, to wait upon you and obey your order and

commandment. Nay, aunt (quoth he), I do neither command nor desire him

to do so. But if it be naught (as I do hear say it is), he might well

enough forbear to be at it, and offend me nothing at all; for if I might

as well as he, and did believe of it as he doth, I would not be at it

myself. The queen said, Why, sir, what do you believe of it? The king

answered, The queen, my mother, Monsieur de Cipierre, and my

schoolmaster doth tell me, that it is very good, and that I do there

daily see God; but (said the king) I do hear by others that neither God

is there nor the thing very good. And surely, aunt, to be plain with

you, I would not be there myself. And therefore you may boldly

continue and do as you do, and so may the king, my uncle, your husband,

use the matter according to his conscience for any displeasure he shall

do unto me. And, surely, aunt (quoth he), when I shall be at my own

rule I mean to quit the matter! But I pray you (said the king), keep

this matter to yourself, and use it so that it come not to my mother's


It need not occasion surprise that the Queen of Navarre paused, in the

midst of her expressions of intense gratification, to give utterance to

the fear that Charles might be "too toward, too virtuous, and too good

to tarry amongst them," or recalled the many similar "acts and sayings

of the late King Edward of England, who did not live long."2
Beza is begged to remain.

When the first intimation of the edict for the restoration of

1 Throkmorton to Queen Elizabeth, Paris, November 26,

1561, State Paper Office.

2 Others besides Jeanne were apprehensive. The Viscount de

Gruz, in his memorial to Queen Elizabeth (Sept. 24, 1561), stated that

the king's constitution was so bad that he was not likely to live long,

for he ate and slept very little. His brothers were equally infirm in

health. Monsieur D'Orléans had a very bad cough, and the physicians

feared that he had the disease of his late brother, Francis; while

Monsieur D'Anjou had been ill for more than a year, and was dying from

day to day. State Paper Office.

the churches reached Beza, his impulse was to abandon forthwith a court

where his hopes had been so cruelly disappointed, and a want of proper

confidence had been displayed by his very friends among the royal

counsellors. But his indignant remonstrances were met by the assurance

that benevolent designs for the Reformation were concealed beneath the

apparent harshness of the law, which was a necessary concession to

certain circumstances. He was entreated to be of good courage and to

remain. Catharine joined her solicitations to those of Condé, Admiral

Coligny, and other chiefs of the Protestants. Beza reluctantly

consented, and while Martyr was suffered to depart with courteous

acknowledgments of his services, the Genevese was still more honorably

retained at court.1 The new measure from which brilliant results

were expected was the calling of an assembly of notables, including

representatives from each of the parliaments, the princes of the blood,

and members of the council, etc., which was to meet in December, and to

suggest some decree on the subject of the religious question, of a

provisional, if not of a permanent character.2
Spanish plot to kidnap the Duke of Orleans.
The Huguenot churches in France.

About the same time, upon a rumor that the Duke of Nemours, a faithful

ally of the Guises, had plotted to carry off the young Duke of Orleans,

the future Henry the Third, into Spain, with the view of affording his

brother-in-law Philip a specious pretext for interfering in Trench

affairs,3 Catharine de' Medici turned to the Protestants,

1 Letters of Beza, Oct. 21st and Nov. 4th, ubi supra.

"Tantum abest ut impetrarim (abeundi facultatem) ut etiam regina ipsa me

accersitum expresse rogarit ut saltem ad tempus manerem."

2 "Nam ex singulis parlamentis duo huc evocantur ad diem

decembris vicesimum," etc. Beza to Calvin, Oct. 30, Baum, ii., App.,

117; Histoire ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 418.

3 "Je ny voulu faillir de vous advertir," writes the

Prince of Condé in an autograph postscript of a letter (of Oct. 10th)

thanking the magistrates of Zurich for Martyr's visit to France, "des

entreprinses des Seigneurs de Guyse et de Nemours, ennemys de la vraye

religion, qui, voyants que soub le regne du roy de France, le regne de

Jesus Christ sestoit tellement advance que facillement lon pouvoit

appercepvoir que la tyrannie de Lantechrist de Romme seroit en brief

totallement dechassee du dit pays, apres sestre bande du coste du Roy

d'Espaigne, pour maintenir la dicte tyrannie papale delibererent de

desrober et emmener en Espaigne, au Roy Phelippe, le second fils de

and inquired what forces of theirs she could rely upon in the threatened

contest with the Spanish, Papal, and German Roman Catholic troops. Her

question elicited the significant fact that there were two thousand one

hundred and fifty Huguenot churches in France, varying in size from a

mere handful of believers to a community of thousands of members,

embracing almost the entire population of a provincial city, and under

the guidance of several pastors. In the name of these churches a

petition was presented to the king, asking for places of worship, and

loyally tendering life and property in his defence.1
Beza secures a favorable royal order.

To restrain the impatience of so numerous a body as the Protestants,

while waiting for the assembly of the notables which was to confer the

full measure of liberty they desired, was the task imposed upon Beza. He

was to serve as a hostage for the obedience of the reformed

churches.2 But the sagacious theologian recognized the difficulty

of the position he was called to fill. He warned the government

accordingly against disappointing the hopes it aroused in the breasts of

his fellow Protestants, and he urged that if they must be temporarily

denied the use of the places of worship which they had occupied wherever

they constituted the bulk of the population, the present rigor must be

somewhat abated during the interval before their formal emancipation.

After much importunity a mandate was obtained, addressed to the

France monsieur d'Orleans, esperans que soub le nom du dit jeusne prince

frere du Roy ils auroient occasion de faire la guerre en France et

contre les Evangelistes, estimans que bientost le pape donneroit le

royaulme de France au premier occupant selon sa Tyrannique coustume,"

etc. Baum, ii., App., 102, 103. Nemours, after his conspiracy was

discovered, fled from court. He wrote, however, disclaiming any ulterior

object in his invitations to the young Prince of Orleans, to whom he had

in jest proposed to go with him to Spain.

1 Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 419-421. Cf. Beza to

Calvin, Nov. 4th, Baum, ii., App., 120.

2 Letter of Beza, Nov. 4th, ubi supra; "Regina nescio

quo modo libenter me videt, quod est apud multos testata, et re ipsa sum

expertus. Ideo cupiunt nostri proceres me his manere, quasi fidei et

obedientias nostrarum Ecclesiarum obsidem tantisper dum in futuro illo

conventu aliquid certi constituatur, et ipsi conventui me volunt


royal officers, in which they were instructed to interpret the previous edicts

with leniency, permitting different degrees of liberty, according to the

various circumstances in which they were placed. In Normandy and Gascony

the religious meetings might be open and unrestricted. In Paris they

must be held secretly in private houses, and not more than two hundred

persons could be gathered together.1 Everywhere, however, the

Protestants were to be protected, and this was a great step gained. For

those very officers, whose task it had not unfrequently been to drag the

Huguenots to prison, were now constituted the guardians of their lives

and property.2

How to restrain Huguenot impetuosity. Foix. Châlons-sur-Marne.

Yet, how to restrain the impetuosity, how to check the demands of the

multitudes recently converted to the reformed faith, how to induce them

to give up the churches where whole generations of their ancestors had

worshipped before them, and in which they believed that they had the

clearest right of property, and hand them over to a mere handful of

ignorant or interested persons who would not listen to reason or

Scripture--this was the problem that seemed even beyond the power of

Beza's wit to solve. The young vine, in whose branches the full sap of

spring was rapidly circulating, must have room for healthy growth. From

all parts of France the constant cry was for the Word of God and for

liberty. Although the number of daily attendants on Calvin's lectures

was roughly estimated at a thousand,3 it was impossible for Geneva

to supply the drafts made upon her, when there were three hundred

parishes, apparently in a single province, which had thrown off the

mass, but had as yet been unsuccessful in their quest of pastors;4

when the history of hundreds of towns and villages was the counterpart

of the history of Foix, where, in

1 Beza's letters, apud Baum, ii., App., 117, 121, 122;

Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 418.

2 "Graces à Dieu, les choses sont bien changées en peu

d'heure, estant maintenant faicts guardiens des assemblées ceux-là mesme

qui nous menoyent en prison." Postscript to Beza's letter of Nov. 4th,

Baum, ii., App., 122.

3 "C'est merveille des auditeurs des leçons de Monsieur

Calvin; jestime quils sont journellement plus de mille." Letter of De

Beaulieu, Geneva, Oct. 3, 1561, Baum, ii., App., 92.

4 Letter of De Beaulieu, ubi supra, 91.

two months, an infant church of thirty or forty members had grown to have five

or six hundred, and the Protestant population was almost in the majority in the
town, although as yet, notwithstanding incessant efforts to obtain a pastor, the
only public service consisted of the repetition by a layman of the prayers

contained in the liturgy of Calvin1--when many a minister met with

success similar to that which attended Pierre Fornelet, who could point

to fifteen villages in the vicinity of Châlons-sur-Marne, begging for

Huguenot pastors, and all this the fruit of seven weeks of apostolic

labours; and could record the fact that poor men and women flocked to

the city from a distance of seven or eight leagues, when they simply

heard that the Gospel was preached there2--when it was estimated by

competent witnesses that from four to six thousand ministers could be

profitably employed within the bounds of the kingdom.3

Troyes. Paris.

In some places, by strenuous exertion, the ministers were successful in

persuading their flocks to refrain from overt acts tending to provoke

outbursts of hostility. At Troyes, in Champagne, a thousand persons

convened by day or by night, not summoned by the sound of bells, but

quietly notified by an "advertisseur" of the daily changing place of

meeting. Yet even there, on Sunday and on public holidays, the Huguenots

took pains to hold their "assemblée" in the open day, before the eyes of

their enemies.4 At Paris, the Protestants, compelled to go some

distance into the country for worship, on their return (Sunday, the

twelfth of October), found the gates closed against them, and were

attacked by a mob composed of the dregs of the

1 "Mais ne nous a esté possible jamais recouvrer ung

ministre, quelque diligence que nous avons faicte, seulement par

quelqu'un de nous faisons faire des prières ainsi que par vostre Eglise

sont dressées." Lettre de l'église de Foix à la Vénérable Compagnie

(1561); Gaberel, i., Pièces justif., 165-167.

2 Lettre de Fornelet à, l'église de Neufchatel, Oct. 6,

1561, Baum, ii., App., 95-100, Bulletin, xii. 361-366; Letter of

Fornelet to Calvin, of the same date, Bulletin, etc., xiv. 365.

3 Letter of De Beaulieu, ubi supra.

4 Letter of Jacques Sorel for the "classe" of Troyes, Oct.

13, 1561, Bulletin, xii. 352-355, Baum, ii., App., 103, 104.

populace. Many of their number were killed or wounded. The assailants retreated
when the Huguenot gentry, with swords drawn, rallied for the defence of their

unarmed companions, whom they could not, however, guarantee from the

stones and other missiles hurled at them. For a few days the public

services were intermitted at the earnest request of the Prince of La

Roche-sur-Yon, in the interest of good order and to prevent

disturbance.1 But a month later the Huguenots assembled openly, and

in still greater numbers. On reaching the suburbs, the women were placed

in the centre, with the men who had come on foot around them, while

those who were mounted on horseback shielded the whole from attack. A

body of guards was posted by the prince in the immediate


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