Francis was induced to make new provisions for the detection and
punishment of dissent. Alarmed by the progress of "Lutheran" sentiments
in his very capital, as reported to him by parliament, he not only urged
that body to renewed diligence, but directed the Bishop of Paris, the
tolerant Jean du Bellay, who may have been suspected of too much
supineness in the matter,3 to confer upon two counsellors of
parliament all the authority necessary to act for him, without prejudice
to his jurisdiction in other cases.4
1 Francis I. to Council of Berne, Marseilles, Oct. 20,
1533, MS. Berne Archives, Herminjard, iii. 95, 96.
2 Berne was accustomed to give and take hard blows. So,
although the chancellor of the canton endorsed on the king's missive the
words, "Rude lettre du Roi, ... relative aux Farel," the council was
not discouraged; but, when sending two envoys, about a month later, to
the French court, instructed them, among other things, again to
intercede for a brother of Farel. Herminjard, iii. 96, note.
3 Du Bellay was himself believed, not without reason, to
have sympathy for the reformed doctrine, and it was under his auspices,
as well as those of the King and Queen of Navarre, that the evangelical
preachers had lately held forth in the pulpits of the capital. See, for
instance, Bucer to Blaurer, Jan., 1534, Herminjard, Corresp. des
réformateurs, iii. 130.
4 Francis I.'s letter to Du Bellay, Lyons, Dec. 10, 1533,
MS. Dupuy Coll., Bibl. nat., Bulletin de la Soc. de l'hist. du prot.
franç., i. 437. His orders to parliament of same date, Herminjard,
Corresp. des réformateurs, iii. 114, etc.
Both parliament and bishop were at the same time notified of the receipt of two fresh bulls, kindly furnished by Pope Clement, at Francis's request, to help in the
good work of extirpating "that accursed Lutheran sect."1
Elegies on Louis de Berquin. The number of extant poems on the death of Louis de Berquin attests
counsels of moderation. What calamities might otherwise be in store!
What a ruin both of church and state, should a collision of arms be
But Melanchthon's ardor had carried him far beyond his true reckoning.
No other reformer could have brought himself to approve the articles now
submitted for the king's perusal; while it was certain that not even
this unbounded liberality would satisfy the exorbitant demands of the
Melanchthon not only admitted that an ecclesiastical system with bishops
in many cities was lawful, but that the Roman pontiff might preside over
the entire episcopate. He countenanced, to a certain extent, the current
doctrine respecting human tradition and the retention of auricular
confession. He discerned a gradual approach to concord in respect to
justification, and found no difficulty in the divergent views of free
will and original sin. He did, indeed, insist upon the rejection of the
worship of saints, and advocate expunging from the ritual all appeals
for their assistance. So, too, monks ought to be allowed to forsake the
cloister, and monastic establishments could then be advantageously
turned into schools of learning. The celibacy of the clergy should, in
like manner, be forthwith granted. There was, however, in his view, one
point that bristled with difficulties. How to remove them Melanchthon
confessed himself unable to suggest. The question of the popish mass was
the Gordian knot which
1 Melanchthon to Du Bellay, Aug. 1, 1534, Opera
(Bretschneider, Corpus Reformatorum), ii. 740.
must be reserved for the future council of the church to untie or cut.1 His own misgivings.
A faint suspicion seems, however, to have flitted through the Wittemberg
reformer's mind, that possibly, after all his large admissions, his attempt was
but labor lost! For, in a letter to Martin Bucer, written on the very day he
despatched his communication to Du Bellay, he more than hinted his own
despair of effecting an agreement with the Pope of Rome, and excused himself
for his apparently lavish proffers, on the plea that he was desirous of making his
good French friends comprehend the chief points of controversy!2 A favorable impression made on Francis.
Melanchthon's articles, faithfully transmitted by Du Bellay, produced on
the mind of Francis a favorable impression. The ambitious monarch
welcomed the prospect of a speedy removal of the doctrinal differences
his proper colors, by an unfriendly pencil. In another, "Paris, flower
of nobility" was passionately entreated to sustain the wounded faith of
God, and the King of Glory was supplicated to confound "the accursed
dogs," the Lutherans.1 Under the circumstances, it was not strange
that the "Lutheran" placard was hastily torn down by some zealot, with
1 See the interesting letter of a young Strasbourg student
at Paris, Pierre Siderander, May 28, 1533, Herminjard, Correspondance
des réformateurs, iii. 58, 59. The refrain of one placard,
"Au feu, au feu! c'est leur répère!
Faiz-en justice! Dieu l'a permys,"
gave Clément Marot occasion to reply in a couple of short pieces, the
"En l'eau, en l'eau, ces folz séditieux."
the exclamation that the author was a heretic, while a crowd stood all
day about the other transcribing its unpoetic but pious exhortations to
burn the offenders against Divine justice, and no one attempted to remove it.
Mission of Féret to Switzerland.
The success of this method of reaching the masses, who could never be
induced to read a formal treatise or book, suggested to some of the more
ardent "Lutherans" of Paris the idea of preparing a longer placard,
which should boldly attack the cardinal errors of the papal system of
religion. But, the press being closely watched in the French capital, it
was thought best to have the placard printed in Switzerland, where,
indeed, the most competent and experienced hands might be found for
composing such a paper. The messenger employed was a young man named
Féret, an apprentice of the king's apothecary;1 and the printing
seems to have been done in the humble but famous establishment of Pierre
Van Wingle, in the retired Vale of Serrières, just out of Neufchâtel,
and on the same presses which, in 1533, gave to the world the first
French reformed liturgy, and, two years later, the Protestant translation of
the Bible into the French language by Olivetanus.2 There is less certainty
respecting the authorship, but it seems highly probable that not Farel,
but an enthusiastic and somewhat hot-headed writer, Antoine de Marcourt,
must be held responsible for this imprudent production.3 The placard against the mass.
Féret, having on his return eluded detection at the frontiers, reached
Paris in safety. He brought with him a large number of copies of a
broadside headed, "True Articles respecting the horrible, great and
insupportable Abuses of the Papal Mass." Among those to whom the
1 Crespin, Actiones et Monimenta (Ed. of 1560), fol. 64.
2 Bulletin, ix. 27, 28.
3 Merle d'Aubigné, on the authority of the hostile
Florimond de Ræmond, ascribes it to Farel. But the style and mode of
treatment are quite in contrast with those of Farel's "Sommaire,"
republished almost precisely at this date; while many sentences are
taken verbatim from another treatise, "Petit Traicte de l'Eucharistie,"
unfortunately anonymous, but which there is good reason to suppose was
written by Marcourt. The author of the latter avows his authorship of
the placard. See the full discussion by Herminjard, Correspondance des
réformateurs, iii. 225, note, etc.
paper was secretly submitted, there were some who, more prudent than the
rest, decidedly opposed its publication. It was too violent, they said. The
writer's ill-advised severity would answer no good purpose. The tract
would alienate the sympathy of many, and thus retard, instead of
advancing, the cause it advocated.1 Remonstrance, however, proved
Early on the morning of the eighteenth of October, 1534, a placard was
found posted upon the walls in all the principal thoroughfares of the
metropolis. Everywhere it was read with horror and indignation, mingled
with rage; and loud threats and curses were uttered against its unknown
The document that called forth these expressions and was the occasion of
more important commotions in the sequel, had so direct and potent an
influence upon the fortunes of the Reformation in France that it cannot
be passed over without a brief reference to the general character of its
contents. It began with a solemn address: "I invoke heaven and earth in
testimony of the truth, against that proud and pompous papal mass,
through which (if God remedy not speedily the evil) the world will be
wholly desolated, destroyed, and ruined. For therein is our Lord so
outrageously blasphemed and the people so blinded and seduced, that it
ought no longer to be suffered or endured." Every Christian must needs
be assured that the one sacrifice of Christ, being perfect, demands no