the remonstrances of his more sensible courtiers as to recall his rash edict,
or, rather, suspend its operation until he could give the matter more careful
consideration. Meanwhile he undertook to institute a censorship. The king was
to select twelve persons of quality and pecuniary responsibility, from a list of
twice that number of names submitted by parliament; and this commission
was to receive the exclusive right to print--and that, in the city of
Paris alone--such books as might be approved by the proper authorities
and be found necessary to the public weal. Until the appointment of the
twelve censors the press was to remain idle! Nor was the suspension of
the prohibitory ordinance to continue a day longer than the term
required by the monarch to decide whether he preferred to modify its
provisions or leave them unchanged. "Albeit on the thirteenth day of
January, 1534,"1 wrote this much lauded patron of letters, "by other
letters-patent of ours, and for the causes and reasons therein
contained, we prohibited and forbade any one from thenceforth printing,
or causing to be printed, any books in our kingdom, on pain of the
halter: nevertheless, we have willed and ordained that the execution
and accomplishment of our said letters, prohibitions and injunctions, be
and continue suspended and surcease until we shall otherwise
provide."2 Vigorous proceedings of parliament.
Meantime, parliament had not been slack in obeying the command to
search diligently for the authors and publishers of
1 That is, 1535 New Style. For it will remembered that,
until 1566, the year in France began with Easter, instead of with the
first day of January. Leber, Coll. de pièces rel. à l'hist. de France, viii. 505, etc.
2 "Combien que ... nous eussions prohibé et défendu que nul
n'eust dès lors en avant à imprimer ou faire imprimer aulcuns livres en
nostre royaulme, sur peine de la hart." As neither of these disgraceful
edicts was formally registered by parliament, they are both of them
wanting in the ordinary records of that body, and in all collections of
French laws. The first seems, indeed, to have disappeared altogether.
M. Crapelet, Études sur la typographie, 34-37, reproduces the second,
dated St. Germain-en-Laye, February 23, 1534/5, from a volume of
parliamentary papers labelled "Conseil." Happily, the preamble recites
the cardinal prescription of the previous and lost edict, as given above
in the text. M. Merle d'Aubigné carelessly places the edict abolishing
printing after, instead of before, the great expiatory procession.
Hist. of the Reformation in the Time of Calvin, iii. 140.
the placards. Many reputed "Lutherans" had been arrested, some of whom, it
was given out, pretended to reveal the existence of a plot of the reformers to
fall upon the good Christians of the metropolis while assembled in their
churches for divine worship, and assassinate them in the midst of their
devotions! The credulous populace made no difficulty in accepting the tale.
Paris shuddered at the thought of its narrow escape, and some hundreds of
thousands of men and women reverently crossed themselves and thanked
heaven they had not fallen a prey to the blood-thirsty designs of a
handful of peaceable and unarmed adherents of the "new doctrines!" As
for Francis himself, a grave historian tells us that his apprehensions
were inflamed by the very mention of the word "conspiracy."1
Abundance of victims.
The investigation had been committed to practised hands. The prosecuting
officer, or lieutenant-criminel, Morin, was as famous for his cunning
as he was notorious for his profligacy. Moreover, the judicious addition
of six hundred livres parisis to his salary afforded him a fresh
stimulus and prevented his zeal from flagging.2 The timidity or
treachery of one of the prisoners facilitated the inquest. Terrified by
the prospect of torture and death, or induced by hope of reward, a
person, obscurely designated as le Guainier, or Gueynier,3 made
an ample disclosure of the names and residences of his former
fellow-believers. The pursuit was no longer confined to those who had
been concerned in the distribution of the placards. All reputed heretics
were apprehended, and, as rapidly as their trials could be prosecuted,
condemned to death. There was a rare harvest of falsehood and
misrepresentation. No wonder that innocent and guilty were involved in
one common fate.4
1 Félibien, Hist. de la ville de Paris, ii. 997.
2 Soissons MS., Bulletin, xi. 255.
3 I. e., gaînier, sheath-or scabbard-maker. Hist.
ecclésiastique, i. 10; Journal d'un bourgeois, 444; see Varillas, Hist.
des révol. arrivées dans l'Eur. en matière de rel., ii. 222.
4 "Qui ad se ea pericula spectare non putabant, qui non
contaminati erant eo scelere, hi etiam in partem pœnarum veniunt.
Delatores et quadruplatores publice comparantur. Cuilibet simul et
testi et accusatori in hac causa esse licet." J. Sturm to Melanchthon,
Paris, March 4, 1535, Bretschneider, Corpus Reformatorum, ii. 855, etc.
It does not come within the scope of this history to give an edifying
account of the courage displayed by the victims of the frenzy consequent
upon the placards. The very names of many are unknown. Among the first
to be committed to the flames was a young man, Barthélemi Milon, whom
paralysis had deprived of the use of the lower half of his body.1
His unpardonable offence was that copies of the placard against the mass
had been found in his possession. A wealthy draper, Jean du Bourg, had
been guilty of the still more heinous crime of having posted some of the
bills on the walls. For this he was compelled before execution to go
through that solemn mockery of penitence, the amende honorable, in
front of the church of Notre Dame, with but a shirt to conceal his
nakedness, and holding a lighted taper in his hand; afterward to be
conducted to the Fontaine des Innocents, and there have the hand that
had done the impious deed cut off at the wrist, in token of the public
detestation of his "high treason against God and the king." A printer, a
bookseller, a mason, a young man in orders, were subjected to the same
cruel death. But these were only the first fruits of the
prosecution.2 However opinions may differ respecting the merits of
the cause for which they suffered, there can be but one view taken of
their deportment in the trying hour of execution. In the presence of the
horrible preparatives for torture, the most clownish displayed a
1 The name and the affliction of this first victim give
Martin Theodoric of Beauvais an opportunity, which he cannot neglect, to
compare him with a pagan malefactor and contrast him with a biblical
personage. "Hunc gladium ultorem persenserunt quam plurimi degeneres et
alienigenæ in flexilibus perversarum doctrinarum semitis obambulantes;
inter alios, paralyticus Lutheranus Neroniano Milone perniciosior. Cui
state marched to the church of St. Germain l'Auxerrois, to meet the
king. Sixteen dignitaries bore
1 The real message sent by Francis I. to his mother, after
the disaster of Pavia, was quite another thing from the traditional
sentence: "Tout est perdu sauf l'honneur." What he wrote was: "Madame,
pour vous avertir comme je porte le ressort de mon infortune, de toutes
choses ne m'est demeuré que l'honneur et la vie sauve," etc. Papiers
d'État du Card, de Granvelle, i. 258. It is to be feared that, if saved
in Italy, his honor was certainly lost in Spain, where, after vain
attempts to secure release by plighting his faith, he deliberately
took an oath which he never meant to observe. So, at least, he himself
informed the notables of France on the 16th of December, 1527: "Et
voulurent qu'il jurast; ce qu'il fist, sachant ledict serment n'estre
valable, au moyen de la garde qui luy fust baillée, et qu'il n'estoit en
sa liberté." Isambert, Recueil des anc. lois franç., xii. 292.
aloft the precious reliquary of Sainte Geneviève; others in similar honor
supported the no less venerated reliquary of Saint Marcel. Those skilled in
local antiquities averred that never before had the sacred remains of either
saint been known to be brought across the Seine to grace any similar display.
At Saint Germain l'Auxerrois--that notable church under the very shadow
of the Louvre, whose bell, a generation later, gave the first signal for
the massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day--the royal court and the civil and
municipal bodies that had been permitted to appear on so august an
occasion, were in waiting. At length the magnificent column began its
progress, and threading the crowded streets of St. Honoré and St. Denis,
made its way, over the bridge of Notre Dame, to the island upon which
stood and still stands the stately cathedral dedicated to Our Lady. Far
on in the van rode Éléonore, Francis's second queen, sister to the
emperor, conspicuous for her dignified bearing, dressed in black velvet
and mounted on a palfrey with housings of cloth of gold. In her company
were the king's daughters by his former wife, the "good Queen Claude,"
all in dresses of crimson satin embroidered with gold; while a large
number of princesses and noble ladies, with attendant gentlemen and
guards, constituted their escort.
The monastic orders came next. Franciscans, Dominicans, Augustinians,
Carmelites, all were there, with burning tapers and highly prized
relics. The parish churches were represented in like manner by their
clergy; and these were followed by the chapter of the cathedral and by
the multitudinous professors and scholars of the university. Between
this part of the procession and the next, came a detachment of the Swiss
guards of the king, armed with halberds, and a band of skilled musicians
performing, on trumpets, hautboys, and other instruments, the airs of
the solemn hymns of the church.
An honorable place was held by the ecclesiastics of the "Sainte
Chapelle," originally built by Louis the Ninth, in the precincts of his
own palace, for the reception of the marvellous relics he brought home
from Holy Land. Those relics were all here, together with the other costly
possessions of the chapel--the crown of thorns, the true cross, Aaron's rod that
budded, the great crown of St. Louis, the head of the
holy lance, one of the nails used in our Lord's crucifixion, the tables
of stone, some of the blood of Christ, the purple robe, and the milk of
the Virgin Mary--all borne in jewelled reliquaries by bishops.
Four cardinals in scarlet robes followed--Givri, Tournon, Le Veneur, and
Châtillon--an uncongenial group, in which the violent persecutor and the
future partisan of the Reformation walked side by side. But the central
point in the entire procession was occupied not by these, but by Jean du
Bellay, Bishop of Paris, bearing aloft a silver cross in which was