It will be found, however, that several circumstances tended to
counteract or reverse the king's favorable prepossessions. Not least
influential was a pernicious sentiment studiously instilled in his mind
by those whose material interests were all on the side of the
maintenance of the existing
1 Relazione di Francia (1538), Albèri, i. 203, 204. It will be noticed that Giustiniano wrote at
a period when the youthful ardor of Francis had somewhat cooled down.
2 The French king's proverbial ill-success gave rise to the taunt that his was "un esser savio
in bocca e non in mente," but Marino Cavalli is charitably inclined to ascribe his misfortune
rather to the lack of the right men to execute his designs, than to any fault of his
own. Rel. des Amb. Vén., Tommaseo, i. 282.
system--that a change of religion necessarily involves a change of government.
We shall hear much during the century of this lying political axiom. When
Francis, in his irritation at the Pope, suggested, on one occasion, to the Nuncio,
that he might be compelled to follow the example Henry the Eighth, of
England, had set him, and permit the spread of the "Lutheran" religion
in France, the astute prelate replied: "Sire, to speak with all
frankness, you would be the first to repent your rash step. Your loss
would be greater than the Pope's; for a new religion established in the
midst of a people involves nothing short of a change of prince."1
And the same author that records this incident tells us that Francis
hated the Lutheran "heresy," and used to say that this, like every other
new sect, tended more to the destruction of kingdoms than to the
edification of souls.2 Nor must it be overlooked that Francis
doubtless felt strongly confirmed in his persuasion, by the rash and
disorderly acts of some restless and inconsiderate spirits such as are
wont eagerly to embrace any new belief. Not the peasants' insurrections
in Germany alone, but as well the excesses of the iconoclasts, and the
imprudence of the authors of the famous placards of 1534, although their
acts were distinctly repudiated by the vast majority of the French
reformers, inflicted irretrievable damage, by furnishing plausible
arguments to those who accused the Protestants of being authors or
abettors of riot and confusion.
His loose morals.
A second reason of the early estrangement of Francis from the "new
doctrines" has more frequently been overlooked. The rigid code of morals
in Geneva the law of the state, repelled a prince who, though twice
married and both times to women devoted to his interests and faithful to
their vows, treated his lawful wives with open neglect, and preferred to
consort with perfidious mistresses, who
1 "Sire, vous en seriez marri le premier, et vous en
prendroit très mal, et y perdriez plus que le pape; car une nouvelle
religion, mise parmi un peuple, ne demande après que changement du
prince." Brantôme, M. l'Admiral de Chastillon, Œuvres, ix. 202.
2 Brantôme, Femmes illustres: Marguerite, reine de Navarre.
Also Homines ill.: François premier (Œuvres, vii. 256, 257).
sold to the enemy for money his confidential disclosures--a prince who, not
satisfied with introducing excesses until then unheard of among his nobles,
was not ashamed to bestow the royal bounty upon the professed head of the degraded womenwhom he allowed to accompany the court from place to
place.1 His anxiety to obtain the support of the Pope.
If to these two motives we add a third--the desire of the king to avail
himself of the important influence of the Roman pontiff upon the
politics of Europe--we shall be at no loss to account for the singular
fact that the brother of Margaret of Angoulême, in spite of his sister's
entreaties and the promptings of his own better feeling--at times in
defiance of his own manifest advantage--became during the later part of
his reign the first of that long line of persecutors of whom the
Huguenots were the unhappy victims.
Studious disposition of Margaret.
Margaret was two years older than her brother. Born April 11, 1492, in
the city of Angoulême, she enjoyed, in common with Francis, all the
opportunities of liberal culture afforded by her exalted station. These
opportunities her keener intellect enabled her to improve far better
than the future king. While Francis was indulging his passion for the
chase, in company with Robert de la Marck, "the Boar of the Ardennes,"
Margaret was patiently applying herself to study. It is not always easy
to determine how much is to be set down as truth, and how much belongs
to the category of fiction, in the current stories of the scholarly
attainments of princely personages. But there is good reason in the
present case to believe that, unlike most of the ladies of her age that
were reputed prodigies of learning, Margaret of Angoulême did not