History of the rise of the huguenots

Francis treats with the Germans

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Francis treats with the Germans.

Three years had not elapsed since the blow struck at the "Lutheran"

doctrines in France, in the execution of their most promising and

intrepid representative, before the hopes of the friends of the

Reformation again revived from a consideration of the king's political

relations. Disappointed at the contemptuous reception of their

confession of faith by the Emperor at Augsburg, the Protestant princes

of Germany had formed a defensive league. Francis, having basely

abandoned his former allies, was left alone to combat the gigantic power

of a rival between two portions of whose dominions his own kingdom lay

exposed. Every consideration of prudence dictated the policy of lending

to the German Protestants, in their endeavor to humble the pride of

their common antagonist, the most efficient support of his arms. Under

these circumstances religious differences were impotent to prevent the

union. Accordingly, in May, 1532, through his ambassador, the sagacious

Du Bellay, Francis promised the discontented Elector of Saxony and his

associates the contribution of a large sum to enable them to make a

sturdy resistance. But the peace shortly concluded with Charles rendered

the proffered aid for a time unnecessary.2

1 So he is styled by Martin of Beauvais, writing some few

months later, in a sufficiently bold plea for the use of fire and fagot:

"Si vero hæresiarchæ Berquini, et suorum sequacium pervicacia

delibutus (hæreticus) incorrigibilis videatur, ne fortassis plusquam

vipereum venenum latenter surrepat, et sanos inficere possit, subito

auferte eum de medio vestrum, execrantes atque aversantes illius

perversitatem, et abscisum velut palmitem aridum (juxta Joannis

sententiam) subjectis ignibus torrere facite." Paraclesis catholica

Franciæ ad Francos, ut fortes in Fide et Vocatione qua vocati sunt,

permaneant, authore Martino Theodorico Bellovaco, Juris Cæsarei

Professore (Parisiis, 1539), p. 14.--See note at the end of this chapter.

2 F. W. Barthold, Deutschland und die Hugenoten, i. 15;

Soldan, Gesch. des Prot. in Frankreich, i. 115-120.

and with Henry VIII. of England.

Equally unproductive of advantage to the professors of the reformed

faith was the alliance for mutual defence between Francis and Henry the

Eighth of England. Both monarchs were inspired with the same hatred of

the emperor, and each had equal reason to complain of the insatiable

rapacity of the Roman court. But neither at the pompous interview of the

two kings at Boulogne, nor afterward, could Henry prevail upon Francis

to take any decided measures against the Pope such as the former, weary

of the obstacles thrown in the way of his divorce from Catharine of

Aragon, was ready to venture. In his intercourse with the English king,

Francis is said to have adopted for his guiding principle the motto,

"Ami jusqu'à l'autel,"1 and declined to sacrifice his orthodoxy to

his interests. But the truth was that, in the view of Francis, his

interests and his orthodoxy were coincident; and the difficulty

experienced by the two kings in coming to a common understanding lay in

the fact that, as has been well remarked, while in the enmity of Francis

it was not the Pope but the emperor that occupied the foremost place, it

was just the reverse with Henry.2

Meeting of Francis I. and Clement, at Marseilles.

Marriage of Henry of Orleans to Catharine de' Medici.

Francis had no thought of throwing away so valuable an auxiliary in his

Italian projects, or of permanently attaching to Charles so dangerous an

opponent as the papal power. And thus it happened that, a year from the

time of his consultation with Henry, Francis proceeded to Marseilles to

extend a still more cordial welcome to Clement himself. The wily pontiff

had so dazzled the eyes of the king, that the latter had consented to,

if he had not actually proposed, a marriage between Henry, Duke of

Orleans, his second son, and Catharine de' Medici, the Pope's niece.3 The

match was not flattering to Francis's pride; but there were great prospective advantages, and the bride was less objectionable because the bridegroom,

as a younger son, was not likely to ascend the throne. But here again the

king was destined to be disappointed. Clement's death, soon after, destroyed

all hope of Medicean support in Italy; and the
1 Mézeray, Abrégé chronologique, iv. 577.

2 Soldan, i. 121.

3 October 28, 1533.

death of Francis, the dauphin, made Henry of Orleans

heir apparent to the throne. It was not long before the French people,

with the soundness of judgment generally characterizing the deliberate

conclusions reached by the masses, came to the opinion, expressed by one

of the Venetian ambassadors two years after the wedding: "Monseigneur of

Orleans is married to Madam Catharine de' Medici, to the dissatisfaction

of all France; for it seems to everybody that the most Christian king

was cheated by Pope Clement."1 Such were the evil auspices under

which the Italian girl, only fourteen years of age,2 entered a

country over whose destinies she was to exert a pernicious influence.
Francis refuses to join in a crusade against heresy.

There was another part of the Pope's designs in the execution of which

he was less successful. He could not persuade Francis to join in a

general scheme for the extermination of heresy. In the very first

interview, Clement had sounded his host's disposition respecting the

propriety of a new crusade. He had bluntly submitted for consideration

the question, "Ought not Francis and the pious princes of Germany, with

the emperor at their head, to gather up their forces, enlist troops, and

make all needful preparations, to overwhelm the followers of Zwingle and

Luther; in order that, affrighted by the terrible retribution visited

upon their fellows, the remaining heretics should hasten to make their

submission to the Roman Church?" At the same time he threw out hints of

his ability to assist in the good work if only the French monarch would

not refuse his co-operation. But Francis was not ready for so sanguinary

an undertaking. Unmoved by the Pope's repeated solicitations, he replied

that it seemed to him that "neither piety nor concord would be promoted

by substituting an appeal to arms for the appeal to the Holy Scriptures,

to whose ultimate decision both Zwinglians and Lutherans professed

themselves at all times anxious to submit their doctrines and practice."

He added the unpalatable advice that

1 "Con mala sodisfazione di tutta la Francia, perchè pare

ad ogniuno che Clemente pontefice abbia gabbato questo rè

cristianissimo." Marino Giustiniano (1535), Relaz. Ven., Albèri, i. 191.

2 Catharine de' Medici was born April 13, 1519.

the matters in dispute be considered by a free and impartial council, and

declared that, when the council had rendered its verdict, he would spare no
pains to sustain it. All the usual pontifical artifices proved abortive. Francis,
while valuing highly the friendship of Rome, was not willing to forego the

advantages of alliance with the Elector of Saxony and the Landgrave of Hesse.1

While the fickle monarch was thus drawn in opposite directions by

conflicting political considerations--at one time strengthening the hands of the Protestant princes of Germany, at another, making common cause with the Pope

--the same diversity characterized the internal condition of France.
Execution of Jean de Caturce at Toulouse.

At Toulouse, the seat of one of most noted parliaments, Jean de Caturce,

a lawyer of ability, was put to death by slow fire in the summer of

1532. His unpardonable offence was that he had once made a "Lutheran"

exhortation, and that, in the merry-making on the Fête des

Rois--Epiphany--he had recommended that the prayer, "May Christ reign

in our hearts!" be substituted for the senseless cry, "The king drinks!"

No more ample ground of accusation was needed in a city where the

luckless wight who failed to take off his cap before an image, or fall

on his knees when the bell rang out at "Ave Maria," was sure to be set

upon as a heretic.2

1 These interesting particulars are contained in a MS.

letter in the Zurich Archives (probably written by Oswald Myconius to

Joachim Vadian). The writer had them directly from the mouth of

Guillaume du Bellay, the French ambassador, who was with the king at the

interview of Marseilles. Du Bellay also gave some details of his own

conversations with Clement. The latter freely admitted that there were

some things that displeased him in the mass, but naturally wanted so

profitable an institution to be treated tenderly and cautiously.

Correspond. des réformateurs, iii. 183-186.

2 The truth respecting Toulouse probably lies about midway

between the censures of the Huguenot and the eulogy of the Roman

Catholic historian. According to the author of the Histoire

ecclésiastique, the parliament was the most sanguinary in France, the

university careless of letters, the population jealous of any

proficiency in liberal studies. According to Florimond de Ræmond,

writing somewhat later, Toulouse was worthy of eternal praise, because,

notwithstanding a marvellous confluence of strangers from all parts, and

in spite of being completely surrounded by regions infected with heresy,

it had so persisted in the faith as to contain within its walls not a

single family that did not live in conformity with the prescriptions of

the church! Historia de ortu, progressu et ruina hæreseon hujus sæculi, ii. 486.

Le Coq's evangelical sermon.

In striking contrast with the tragedy enacted in the chief city of the

south was the favor openly showed to the reformers by the Queen of

Navarre, not only in her own city of Bourges, but in Paris itself. The

intercessions she had addressed to her brother for the victims of

priestly persecution had long since betrayed her secret leaning; and the

translation of her "Hours" into French by the Bishop of Senlis, who, by

her direction, suppressed all that most directly countenanced

superstitious beliefs, was naturally taken as strong confirmation of the

prevalent suspicion. But, when she introduced Berthault, Courault, and

her own almoner, Roussel, to the pulpits of the capital, and protected

them in their evangelical labors, the case ceased to admit of

doubt.1 She even persuaded the king to listen to a sermon in which

Le Coq, curate of St. Eustache, argued with force against the bodily

presence of Christ in the eucharist, and maintained that the very words,

"Sursum corda" in the church service, pointed Him out as to be found

at the right hand of God in heaven. Indeed, the eloquent preacher had

nearly convinced his royal listener, when the Cardinals of Tournon and

Lorraine, by a skilful stratagem, succeeded in destroying the impression

he had received, and, it is said, in inducing Le Coq to make a

retraction.2 But the opposition to the public proclamation of the

reformed doctrines was too formidable for their advocates to stem. Beda

and his colleagues in the Sorbonne left no device untried to silence the

preachers; and, although the restless syndic was in the end forced to

expiate his seditious words and writings by an amende honorable in

front of the church of Notre Dame, and died in prison,3 Roussel and

his fellow-preachers had long before been compelled to exchange their

public discourses for private exhortations, and finally to discontinue

even these and retreat from Paris.4

1 Crespin, Actiones et Monimenta, fol. 64.

2 Florimond de Ræmond, ii. 394, 395

3 March 6, 1535. Journal d'un bourgeois, 453.

4 Hist. ecclés., i. 9; Crespin, ubi supra.

Margaret attacked in the College of Navarre.

Even so, however, the theologians could not contain their indignation at

the insult they had received. In the excess of their zeal they went so

far as to hold up the king's sister to condemnation and derision, in one

of those plays which the students of the Collége de Navarre were

accustomed annually to perform, as a scholastic exercise in public

oratory (on the first of October, 1533). A gentle queen was here

represented as throwing aside needle and distaff, at the crafty

suggestion of a tempting fury, and as receiving in lieu of those

feminine implements a copy of the Gospels--when, lo! she was suddenly

transformed into a cruel tyrant. It was perhaps hard to detect the exact

connection between the acceptance of the holy book and so disastrous a

change of character--neither the students of the Collége de Navarre nor

their teachers thought it worth while to trouble themselves about such

trifles--but there was no difficulty in recognizing Margaret in the

principal actor of the play, or in deciphering the name of Master Gérard

Roussel--Magister Gerardus--in Megæra, the fury with the flaming

torch, that seduced her. On complaint of his sister, Francis, in some

indignation, ordered the arrest of the author of the insipid drama, as

well as of the youthful performers. The former could not be found, and

the latter, thanks to the queen's clemency, escaped with a less rigorous

punishment than the insult deserved.1

Her Miroir de l'âme pécheresse.

An equally audacious act was the insertion of a work published by

Margaret, under the title of Le miroir de l'âme pécheresse, in a list

of prohibited books. When the university, to whom the censorship of the

press was entrusted, was called to account by the king, all the

faculties promptly repudiated any intention to cast doubt upon the

orthodoxy of his sister, and even the originator of the offensive

prohibition was forced to plead ignorance of the authorship of the

volume in question. The rector of the university terminated

1 John Calvin gives a contemporary's account in a letter to

François Daniel from Paris, October, 1533. Herminjard, Correspond. des

réformateurs, iii. 106, etc.; and translated in Bonnet, Calvin's

Letters, i. 36, etc. See also Jean Sturm's letter of about the same

date, Herminjard, iii. 93.

the long series of disclaimers by rendering thanks to Francis for his fatherly


Rector Cop's address to the university.

Just a month after the unlucky dramatic representation of the Collége de

Navarre, the city was furnished with fresh food for scandal. On All

Saints' day (the first of November, 1533), the university assembled

according to custom in the church of the Mathurins, to listen to an

address delivered by the rector. But Nicholas Cop's discourse was not of

the usual type. Under guise of a disquisition on "Christian Philosophy,"

the orator preached an evangelical sermon, with the First Beatitude for

his text, and propounded the view that the forgiveness of sin and

eternal life are simple gifts of God's grace that cannot be earned by

man's good works.2
Its extraordinary character.

Never had academic harangue contained sentiments savoring so strongly of

the tenets of the persecuted reformers. True, the rector had not omitted

the ordinary invitation to his hearers to join him in the salutation of

the Virgin.3 But even this mark of orthodox Catholicity could not

remove the taint of heresy from an address the whole drift of which was

to establish the cardinal doctrine of the theology of Luther and

Zwingle. It was a bold step. The doctors of the Sorbonne could not

suppress their indignation, and Franciscan monks denounced the rector to

the Parliament of Paris. When summoned to appear before the court to

answer the charges

1 Calvin's letter above quoted, one of the oldest of his

MS. autographs. Dr. Paul Henry, in his valuable Life and Times of John

Calvin (Eng. trans., i. 37) inadvertently makes Cop rector of the

Sorbonne, an office that never existed.

2 A single sentence may serve to indicate the distinctness

with which this is asserted: "Evangelium remissionem peccatorum et

justificationem gratis pollicetur; neque enim accepti sumus Deo quod

legi satisfaciamus, sed ex sola Christi promissione, de qua qui dubitat

pie vivere non potest, et gehennæ incendium sibi parat." Opera Calvini,

Baum, Cunitz, et Reuss, x. 34.

3 Some officious pen has indeed stricken out from the MS.

the sentence, "Quod nos consecuturos spero, si beatissimam Virginem

solenni illo præconio longe omnium pulcherrimo salutaverimus: Ave

gratia plena!" But on the margin the sensible Nicholas Colladon, a

colleague of Beza and an early biographer of Calvin, has written the

words: "Hæc, quia illis temporibus danda sunt, ne supprimenda quidem putavimus."

brought against him, Cop at first endeavored to arouse in the
university the traditional jealousy of this invasion of scholastic
privileges, claiming that these were violated by his being cited

to parliament before he had been in the first instance tried by

his peers. And, indeed, after a tumultuous meeting of the university,

called at the Mathurins a fortnight after the delivery of Cop's address

(the nineteenth of November), the Faculty of Arts came to the same

conclusion.1 But, although the "Four Nations," and apparently the

Faculty of Medicine also, promised their support, the Faculties of

Theology and Law refused, and Cop did not venture to press his point.

Warned of his danger by a friendly tongue, when already on his way to

the Palais de Justice, in full official costume and accompanied by his

beadles, he consulted his safety by a precipitate flight from the city

and from the kingdom.2

Calvin the real author.

The incidents just narrated derive their chief interest from the

circumstance that they bring to our notice for the first time a young

man, Jean Cauvin, or Calvin, of Noyon, soon to figure among the most

important actors in the intellectual and religious history of the modern

world; for it was not many days before the authorship of the startling

theological doctrines enunciated by the rector was directly traced to

his friend and bosom companion, the future reformer of Geneva. In fact,

Calvin seems to have supplied Cop with the entire address--a production

not altogether unworthy of that clear

1 "Ægre fert Facultas injuriam toti unversitati illatam,

quod tractus fuerit ad superiorem Judicem ... summus suus magistratus,

et, eam ob rem, censet Facultas ut ejus accusatores et qui

supplicationem superiori Judici porrexerunt, citentur in facie universitatis, causas rei allaturi."

Bullæus, vi. 238, apud Herminjard, iii. 117, note. See many interesting particulars respecting

the privileges claimed by the university, in Pasquier, Recherches de la France, liv. iii. ch. 29.

2 He was to have been thrown into the Conciergerie. See

Beza's preface to Calvin's Com. on Joshua, 1565, apud Herminjard, iii.

118, note. Parliament complained to Francis, and the latter in his

reply, Lyons, Dec. 10, 1533, ordered proceedings to be instituted for

the capture of Cop and the punishment of the person who had facilitated

his flight by giving him warning. Francis to parliament, Herminjard,

iii. 118. A reward of 300 crowns was accordingly offered for the

apprehension of the fugitive rector, dead or alive. Martin Bucer to Amb.

Blaurer, January, 1534, Herminjard, iii. 130.

and vigorous intellect which, within less than two years, conceived the plan

of and matured the most orderly and perfect theological treatise of the
Reformation—the "Institution Chrétienne." Between the sketch of Christian
Philosophy in the discourse written for the rector, and the Christian Institutes,

there is, nevertheless, a contrast too striking to be overlooked. And if

the salutation to the Virgin, in the exordium, was actually penned by

Calvin, as is not improbable, the change in his religious convictions

would appear to have been as marked and rapid as the development of his

intellectual faculties. At any rate, the recent discovery of the

complete manuscript of Nicholas Cop's oration ranks among the most

opportune and welcome of antiquarian successes in our times.1

He seeks safety in flight.

Calvin was soon reduced to the necessity of following the rector's

example in fleeing from Paris; for the part he had had in preparing the

address had become the public talk. The young scholar--he was only in

his twenty-fifth year--sought for by the sanguinary lieutenant-criminel, Jean
Morin, barely made good his escape. Proceeding to Angoulême, he enjoyed,
under the friendly roof of Louis de Tillet, a short period of quiet and an
opportunity to pursue his favorite studies.2
Francis rejects roughly the intercession of the Bernese.

The incessant representations made to the king respecting the rapid

progress of "Lutheran" doctrines in France, and perhaps also the

occurrence of such incidents as that just mentioned, seem to have been

the cause of the adoption of new measures against the Reformation and

its professors. Already, in October, Francis had written a rough answer

to the Council of the Canton of

1 A fragment of Cop's address--about the first third--was

discovered by M. Jules Bonnet in the MSS. of the Library of Geneva,

bearing on the margin the note: "Hæc Joannes Calvinus propria manu

descripsit, et est auctor." This portion is printed in Herminjard,

Corresp. des réformateurs, iii. 418-420, and Calv. Opera, Baum, Cunitz,

et Reuss, ix. 873-876. Merle d'Aubigné used it in his Hist. of the Ref.

in the time of Calvin, ii. 198, etc. Still more fortunate than M.

Bonnet, Messrs. Baum, Cunitz, and Reuss very recently found a complete

copy of the same address in the archives of one of the churches of

Strasbourg. The newly found portion is of great interest. Calvini Op., x. (1872), 30-36.

2 Calvin to Fr. Daniel (1534), Bonnet, i. 41; Histoire ecclés., i. 9.

Berne, expressing extreme surprise that they had ventured to intercede for the

relatives of Guillaume Farel, accused of heresy, and to beg him to give no credit in this matter either to the royal officers or to the inquisitors of the faith.1

And he had used these significant words: "Desiring the preservation of

the name of very Christian king, acquired for us by our predecessors,

we have nothing in the world more at heart than the entire extirpation

of heresies, and nothing could induce us to suffer them to take root in

our kingdom. Of this you may rest well assured, and leave us to proceed

against them, without your giving yourselves any solicitude. For

neither your prayers, nor those of any one else whomsoever, could be of

any avail in this matter with us."2

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