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Pierre Caroli lectures on the Psalms

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Pierre Caroli lectures on the Psalms.

In Paris itself the Sorbonne found reason for alarm. The sympathy of

Margaret of Angoulême with the friends of progress was recognized. It

had already availed for the deliverance of Louis de Berquin, whose

remarkable history will find a place in the next chapter. Nor did the

redoubted syndic of the theological faculty, Beda, or Bédier, reign

without a rival in the academic halls. Pierre Caroli, one of the doctors

invited by Briçonnet to Meaux, a clever wrangler, and never better

pleased than when involved in controversy, albeit a man of shallow

religious convictions and signal instability, wearied out by his

counter-plots the illustrious heresy-hunter. When forbidden to preach,

Caroli opened a course of lectures upon the Psalms in the Collége de

Cambray. Having then been interdicted from continuing his prelections,

he made the modest request to be permitted to finish the exposition of

the 22d Psalm, which he had begun. This being refused, the disputatious

doctor posted the following notice on the doors of the college: "Pierre

Caroli, wishing to conform to the

1 "Ceste hérésie luthérienne, qui commance fort à pulluler

par deça. Et jam plures de cineribus valde (Valdo) renascuntur

plantulæ." Council of the Archbishop of Lyons to Noel Beda, January 23,

1525. The title of primate was assumed both by the Archbishop of Sens

and the Archbishop of Lyons, the former having apparently the better

claim and enjoying nominally a Wider supremacy (as "Primat des Gaules et

de Germanie"); but the latter gradually vindicated his pretension to

spiritual authority over most of France. See Encyclopédie méthodique, s.

v. Sens, and Lyon.

orders of the sacred faculty, ceases to teach. He will resume his lectures

(when it shall please God) where he left off, at the verse, 'They pierced my
hands and my feet.'"[255]
The Heptameron of the Queen of Navarre.

I have reserved for this place a few remarks respecting the

Heptameron of Margaret of Angoulême, which seem required by the

disputed character or this singular work. I have spoken at length

of the virtues of the Queen of Navarre, and I may here add a

statement of my strong conviction that the accusation is altogether

groundless which ascribes a sinister meaning to the strong

expressions of sisterly affection so frequent in her correspondence

with Francis the First (see M. Génin, Supplément a la notice sur

Marg. d'Angoulême, prefixed to the second volume of the Letters).

Nor do I make any account of the vague statement of that mendacious

libertine, Brantôme, who doubtless imagined himself to be paying

the Queen of Navarre the most delicate compliment, when he said,

that "of gallantry she knew more than her daily bread."

But, whatever the purity of Margaret's own private life, the fact

which cannot be overlooked is that a book of a decidedly immoral

tendency was composed and published under her name. Her most

sincere admirers would hail with gratification any satisfactory

evidence that the Heptameron was written by another hand.

Unfortunately, there seems to be none. On the contrary, we have

Brantôme's direct testimony to the effect that the composition of

the book was the employment of the queen's idle hours when

travelling about in her litter, and that his grandmother, being one

of Margaret's ladies of honor, was accustomed to take charge of her

writing-case (Ed. Lalanne, viii. 126). Equally untenable is the

view taken by the historian De Thou (liv. vi., vol. x. 508), who

makes the fault more venial by representing the Heptameron to have

been composed by the fair author in her youth. (So, too, Soldan, i.

89.) I am sorry to have to say that the events referred to in the

stories themselves belong to a period reaching within a year or two

of Margaret's death.

The facts, then, are simply these: The tales of Boccaccio's

Decameron were read with great delight by Margaret, by Francis the

First, and by his children. They resolved, therefore, to imitate

the great Italian novelist by committing to writing the most

remarkable incidents supplied by the gossip of the court (see the

Prologue to the Heptameron). Francis and his children, finding that

Margaret greatly excelled in this species of composition, soon

renounced the unequal strife, but encouraged her to pursue an

undertaking promising to afford them much amusement. Apportioning,

1 Gaillard, Hist. de François premier, vi. 408.

after the example of Boccaccio, a decade of stories, illustrative

of some single topic, to each day's entertainment, the Queen of

Navarre had reached the seventh day, when the death of her

brother, the near approach of her own end, and disgust with so

frivolous an occupation, induced her to suspend her labors. The

Heptameron, as the interrupted work was now called, was not

apparently intended for publication, but was, after Margaret's

death, printed under the auspices of her daughter, the celebrated

Jeanne d'Albret.

As to the stories themselves, they treat of adventures, in great

part amorous and often immodest. In this particular they are

scarcely less objectionable than those of Boccaccio. They differ

from the latter in the circumstance that the author's avowed

purpose is to insert none but actual occurrences. They are

distinguished from them more especially by the attempt uniformly

made to extract a wholesome lesson from every incident. The

prevalent vices of the day are portrayed--with too much minuteness

of detail, indeed, but only that they may be held up to the greater

condemnation. It is particularly the monks of various orders who,

for their flagrant crimes against morality, are made the object of

biting sarcasm. The abominable teachings of these professed

instructors of religion are justly reprobated. For example, in the

Forty-fourth Nouvelle, Parlamente, while admitting that some

Franciscans preach a pure doctrine, affirms that "the streets are

not paved with such, so much as marked by their opposites;" and

she relates the attempt of one of their prominent men, a doctor of

theology, to convince some members of his own fraternity that the

Gospel is entitled to no more credit than Cæsar's Commentaries.

"From the hour I heard him," she adds, "I have refused to believe

the words of any preacher unless I find them in agreement with

God's Word, which is the true touchstone to ascertain what words

are true and what false" (Ed. Soc. des bibliophiles, ii. 382-384).

Modern French littérateurs have not failed to eulogize the author

as frequently rivalling her model in dramatic vividness of

narration. At the same time they take exception to the numerous

passages wherein she "preaches," as detracting from the artistic

merit of her work. It is, however, precisely the feature here

referred to that constitutes, in the eyes of reflecting readers,

the chief, if not the sole, redeeming trait of the Heptameron. As a

favorable example, illustrating the nature of the pious words and

exhortations thrown in so incongruously with stories of the most

objectionable kind, I translate a few sentences from the Prologue,

in which Oisile (the pseudonym for Margaret herself) speaks: "If

you ask me what receipt I have that keeps me so joyful and in such

good health in my old age, it is this--that as soon as I rise I

take and read the Holy Scriptures. Contemplating there the goodness

of God, who sent His Son to earth to announce the glad tidings of

the remission of all sins by the gift of His love, passion, and

merits, the consideration causes me such joy that I take my psalter

and sing in my heart as humbly as I can, while repeating with my

lips those beautiful psalms and hymns which the Holy Ghost composed

in the heart of David and other authors; and the satisfaction I

derive from this does me so much good that all the ills that may

befall me through the day appear to me to be blessings, seeing that

I bear in my heart Him who bore them for me. In like manner, before

I sup, I withdraw to give sustenance to my soul in reading, and

then at night I recall all I have done during the past day, in

order to ask for the pardon of my faults and thank God for His

gifts. Then in His love, fear and peace I take my rest, assured

from every ill. Wherefore, my children, here is the pastime upon

which I settled long since, after having in vain sought contentment

of spirit in all the rest.... For he that knows God sees everything

beautiful in Him, and without Him everything unattractive."

Prologue, 13-15.

If any one object that no quantity of pious reflections can

compensate for the positive evil in the Heptameron, I can but

acquiesce in his view, and concede that M. Génin has been much too

lenient in his estimate of Margaret's fault. It is a riddle which I

leave to the reader to solve, that a princess of unblemished

private life, of studious habits, and of not only a serious, but

even a positively religious turn of mind--in short, in every way a

noble pattern for one of the most corrupt courts Europe has ever

seen--should, in a work aiming to inculcate morality, and

abundantly furnished with direct religious exhortation, have

inserted, not one, but a score of the most repulsive pictures

of vice, drawn from the impure scandal of that court.


Captivity of Francis I.

The year 1525 was critical as well in the religious as in the political

history of France. On the twenty-fourth of February, in consequence of

the disaster at Pavia, Francis fell into the hands of his

rival--Charles, by hereditary descent King of Spain, Naples, and

Jerusalem, sovereign, under various titles, of the Netherlands, and by

election Emperor of Germany--a prince whose vast possessions in both

hemispheres made him at once the wealthiest and most powerful of living

monarchs. With his unfortunate captivity, all the fanciful schemes of

conquest entertained by the French king fell to the ground. But France

felt the blow not less keenly than the monarch. One of the most gallant

armies that ever crossed the Alps had been lost. The kingdom was by no

means invulnerable, for the capital itself might easily reward a

well-executed invasion from the side of Flanders. The recuperative

energies of the country could be put forth to little advantage, so long

as the place of the king--fons omnis jurisdictionis, as the French

legists styled him--was filled by a woman in the capacity of regent.

France bade fair to exhibit to the world the inherent weakness of a

despotism wherein all power, in fact as well as in theory, centres

ultimately in the single person of the supreme ruler as autocrat. For it

was his standing boast that he was "emperor" in his own realm, holding

it of none other than God, and responsible to God alone, and that as

king and emperor he had the exclusive right to make ordinances from

which no subject could appeal without rendering himself liable to the

penalties pronounced upon

traitors.1 Now that the head was taken away, who could answer for the

harmonious action of the body which had been wont to depend upon
him alone for direction?
Change in the religious policy of Louise de Savoie.

Louise de Savoie, to whom the direction of affairs had been confided

during her son's absence in Italy, had, for greater convenience,

transferred the court temporarily to the city of Lyons, where, under the

protection of Margaret of Angoulême, the most evangelical preachers of

France had been allowed to proclaim the tenets of the reformers within

the churches and in the hearing of thousands of eager listeners. The

queen mother had not yet ventured decidedly to depart from the tolerant

system hitherto pursued by the crown.2 But the announcement of the

capture of Francis effected a complete revolution in her policy. There

is no inherent improbability in the story that Chancellor Duprat--the

statesman and ecclesiastic who had gained so strong an ascendancy over

the mind of Louise that he was shortly promoted to the Archbishopric of

Sens and rewarded with the rich abbey of Saint

Bénoit-sur-Loire--insinuated to the queen mother that the misfortunes

befalling France were tokens of the Divine displeasure. Had Francis

spared no exertions to destroy the first germs of the heresy so

insidiously introduced into his kingdom, he would not now, said the

churchman, be languishing in the dungeons of Milan or Madrid. Nor could

hopes be entertained of his deliverance, and of a return of Heaven's

favor, unless the queen mother bestirred herself to retrieve his mistake

by the introduction of new measures to crush heresy. Thus is the chancellor

said to have argued, and to have earned the cardinal's hat at the Pope's hands. However this may be, it is certain that motives of policy were no

1 Registres du parlement, Feb. 26, 1417/8, Preuves des Libertez, i. 124, etc.

2 Yet the trial of Aimé Maigret had been specially

committed by Louise to the Sorbonne, as early as January, 1525 (Letter

of the Council of the Archbishop of Lyons to Beda, Jan. 23, 1525,

Herminjard, i. 326); and Zwingle knew, in March, of a more or less

successful effort to convince the regent that the evangelical doctrines

were subversive of peace--the proof alleged being drawn from Germany,

where "everything was turned upside down." Dedication to Francis I.,

prefixed to De vera et falsa religione commentarius, Herminjard, i. 351.

less influential than the pious considerations which,

perhaps, might have carried full as much conviction had they come from

the lips of a more exemplary prelate.1 The regent was certainly not

ignorant of the fact that the support of Clement the Seventh, now

specially needed in the delicate diplomacy lying immediately before her,

could best be secured by proving to the pontiff's satisfaction that the

house of Valois was clear of all suspicion of harboring or fostering the

"Lutheran" doctrines and their adherents.

The ordinary appliances for the suppression of heresy--a duty entrusted

by canon law, so far as the preliminary search and the trial of the

suspected was concerned, to the bishops and their courts--had

confessedly proved inadequate. The prelates were in great part

non-residents, and could not from a distance narrowly watch the progress

of the objectionable tenets in their dioceses. One or two of their

number were accused of culpable sluggishness, if not of indifference or

something worse. The question naturally arose, What new and more

effective procedure could be devised?
A commission appointed to try "Lutherans."

After mature deliberation, the privy council resolved upon a plan which

was virtually to remove the cognizance of crimes against religion from

the clergy, and commit it to a mixed commission. The Parliament of Paris

was accordingly notified that the bishop of that city stood ready to

delegate his authority to conduct the trial of all heretics found within

his jurisdiction to such persons as parliament might select for the

discharge of this important function; and the latter body proceeded at

once to designate two of its own members to act in conjunction with two

doctors of the Sorbonne, and receive the faculties promised by the

Bishop of Paris.2 A few days later (March 29, 1525), in making a

necessary substitution for one of the members who was unable to

1 See Mézeray's unfavorable portrait of the unscrupulous

Duprat, Abrégé chron., iv. 584.

2 The four were Philippe Pot, President in the chambre des

enquêtes, and André Verjus, a counsellor, from parliament, and

Guillaume Du Chesne and Nicholas Le Clerc, doctors of theology. For the

first on the list, Jacques de la Barde was soon after substituted.

Registres du parlement, March 20, 1524/5, Preuves des Libertez, i. 164.

serve, parliament not only empowered the commission thus constituted to try the

"Lutheran" prisoners, Pauvan and Saulnier, but directed the Archbishops

of Lyons and Rheims, and the bishops or chapters of eight of the

remaining most important dioceses, to confer upon it similar authority

to that already received at the hands of the bishop of the

The commission a new form of inquisition.

The inquisition hitherto jealously watched.

It was, however, no ordinary tribunal which the highest civil court of

the kingdom was erecting. The commission was in effect nothing less than

a new phase of the Inquisition, embodying many of the most obnoxious

features of that detested tribunal. It is true that the "Holy Office,"

in a modified form, had existed in France ever since the persecutions

directed against the Albigenses and the bloody campaigns of Simon de

Montfort. But the seat of the solitary Inquisitor of the Faith was

Toulouse, not Paris, and his powers had been jealously circumscribed by

the courts of justice and the diocesan prelates, both equally interested

in rearing barriers to prevent his incursions into their respective

jurisdictions. The Inquisitor of Toulouse was now only a spy and

informer.2 Parliament, in particular, had clearly enunciated the

principle that neither inquisitor nor bishop had the right to arrest a

suspected heretic, inasmuch as bodily seizure was the exclusive

prerogative of the officers of the crown. The judges of this supreme

court had summoned to their bar a bishop, and his "official," or vicar,

and had exacted from them an explicit disavowal of any intention to

arrest, in the case of a person whom they had merely detained, as they

asserted, until such time as they could deliver him into the hands of a

competent civil officer.3 And it had become a maxim of French

jurisprudence, that "an inquisitor of the faith has no power of capture

or arrest, save with the assistance, and by authority, of the secular arm."4

Parliament breaks down the safeguards of personal liberty.

But the Parliament of Paris, at the instigation of the regent's

1 Registres du parlement, ubi supra.

2 Soldan, Gesch. des Prot. in Frankreich, i. 102.

3 Registres du parlement, July 29, 1458, Preuves des Libertez, i. 138.

4 "Un inquisiteur de la foi n'a capture ou arrét en ce

royaume, sinon par l'aide et autorité du bras seculier." Pithou, Essaie, art. 37.

advisers, and with the consent of the bishops, was breaking down these

important safeguards of personal liberty. It not only accorded to the

mixed inquisitorial commission, consisting of two lay and two clerical

members, the authority to apprehend persons suspected of heresy, but

removed the proceedings of the commission almost entirely from review

and correction. A pretext for this extraordinary course was found in the

delays heretofore experienced from the interposition of technical

difficulties. "The commissioners," said parliament, "by virtue of the

authority delegated to them, shall secretly institute inquiries against

the Lutherans, and shall proceed against them by personal summons, by

bodily arrest, by seizure of goods, and by other penalties. Their

decisions shall be executed in spite of any and every opposition and

appeal, save in case of the final sentence."1 While conferring such

extravagant privileges, parliament took pains to prescribe that the

decisions of the commission should be executed precisely as if they had

emanated from the supreme court itself. Such were the lengths to which

the most conservative judges were willing to go, in the hope of speedily

eradicating the reformed doctrines from French soil.

The commission endorsed by Clement VII.

The regent and her master-spirit, the chancellor, did not rest here. The

commission was not irrevocable; and its authority might be disputed. The

work of parliament must receive the papal sanction. For this Clement the

Seventh did not keep them long waiting. He addressed to parliament (May

20, 1525) a brief conceived in a vein of fulsome eulogy, expressing his

marvellous commendation of their acts--acts which he declared to be

worthy of the reputation for wisdom in which the French tribunal was

justly held. And he incited the judges to fresh zeal by the

consideration that the new madness that had fallen upon the world was

prepared to confound and overturn, not religion alone, but all rule,

nobility, pre-eminence and superiority--nay, all law and order. The

reader, it may be feared, will tire of the frequency with which

1 "Nonobstant oppositions ou appellations quelconques,

semotâ executione a definitiva, si en est appellé." Registres du

parlement, Preuves des Libertez, iii. 164.

the same trite suggestions recur. It is, however, not a little important to

emphasize the argument which the Roman Curia, and its emissaries at the

courts of kings, were never weary of reiterating in the ears of the rich

and powerful. And as they seized with avidity every slight incident of

disorder that could by any means be associated with the great religious

movement now in progress, and presented it as corroboratory proof of the

charge preferred against the "Lutherans," it is not surprising that they

were generally successful in their appeal to the fears of a class which

had so much at stake.

In addition to his endorsement of their pious zeal, Clement's brief

informed the judges of parliament that they would find in the

accompanying bull his formal confirmation of the inquisitorial


This "letter with the leaden seal," dated the seventeenth of May, might

well have opened the eyes of less devoted subjects of the Roman See to

the injury they were inflicting upon the French liberties, heretofore so

cherished an object of judicial solicitude. Addressing itself to the

four commissioners named by parliament, the bull recited the lamentable

progress of the doctrines of that "son of iniquity and heresiarch,

Martin Luther," and praised the ardor displayed to stay their

dissemination in France. It next declared that the Pope, by the advice

and with the unanimous consent of the cardinals, instructed the

commissioners to proceed either singly or collectively against those

persons who had embraced heretical views, "simply and quietly, without

noise or form of judgment." He empowered them to act independently of

the prelates of the kingdom and the Inquisitor of the Faith, or to call

in their assistance, as they should see fit. They might summon

witnesses, under pain of ecclesiastical censures. They might make

investigations against and put on trial all those infected with heresy,

even should the guilty be bishops or archbishops in the church, or be

clothed with the ducal authority in the state. When convicted, such

persons were to be punished by arrest and imprisonment, or cut off,

"like rotten members, from the communion of the church,

1 "Nos quoque comprobavimus ... sicut per alias nostras

sub plumbo literas poteritis cognoscere." Registres du parlement, ubi


and consigned to eternal damnation with Satan and his angels." The

commissioners were further authorized to grant permission to any one of
the faithful who chose so to do to invade, occupy, and acquire for himself
the lands, castles, and goods of the heretics, seizing their persons and
leading them away into life-long slavery. From the sentence of the commissioners
all appeal, even to the "Apostolic See" itself, was expressly cut off.1

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