own the commissioners appointed by parliament, Clement had enlarged
their already exorbitant prerogatives, and consummated their
independence of secular interference. A new and more efficient
inquisition was thus introduced into France, with its secret investigation and
unlimited power of inflicting punishment. The Parliament of Paris had,
however, committed itself too fully to think of demurring. Accordingly,
it proceeded (June 10th) to enter on its records both the regent's letter
and the bull of the Pope, to which the letter enjoined obedience.2
We have in a previous chapter seen some of the first fruits of the
establishment of the inquisitorial commission, in the proceedings
instituted against Lefèvre d'Étaples, Gérard Roussel, and others who
took part in the attempted reformation of the diocese of Meaux. But,
chief among those whom it was sought to destroy, through the agency of
the new and well-furbished weapon against heretics, was a nobleman of
Artois, whose repeated and remarkable escapes from the hand of the
executioner, viewed in connection with the tragic fate that at last
overtook him, invest his story with a romantic interest.
Character of Louis de Berquin.
He becomes a warm partisan of the Reformation.
Louis de Berquin was a man of high rank, whom friends and enemies alike
admired for his uncommon acuteness of mind and his great attainments in
letters and science. A contemporary Parisian, whose diary has supplied
us more than one of those graphic traits that assist much in bringing
before our eyes the living forms of the great actors in the world's past
history, seems to have been strongly impressed
1 Recueil des anc. lois françaises, par Jourdan, Decrusy et
Isambert, xii. 232-237.
2 Isambert, ubi supra.
by the commanding appearance and elegance of dress of De Berquin, at this
time in the very prime of life.1 But the great Erasmus, his correspondent,
stood in far greater admiration of his extraordinary learning, his purity of
life--a rare excellence in a nobleman of the court of Francis the
First--his kindness and freedom from all ostentation, his uncompromising