contemporary, "if his fury was great, still greater was the constancy of
the martyrs."1 Of this, indeed, the king did not have to wait long
for a proof. For, after having witnessed, in company with the queen, the
amende honorable of six condemned "Lutherans" or "Christaudins," which
took place on the square in front of the cathedral, Francis, as he
returned to the Louvre, passed the places where these unfortunates were
undergoing their supreme torments--three near the Croix du Tiroir, in
the Rue St. Honoré, and three at the Halles. The first were men of some
note--Simon Fouhet, of Auvergne, one of the royal choristers, supposed
to have been the person who posted the placard in the castle of Amboise,
Audebert Valleton, of Nantes, and Nicholas L'Huillier, from the Châtelet
of Paris. The others were of an inferior station in life--a fruitster, a
maker of wire-baskets, and a joiner. All, however, with almost equal
composure, submitted to their fate as to the will of Heaven, rather than
the sentence of human judges; scarcely seeming, in their firm
anticipation of an immortal crown, to notice the tumultuous outcries of
an infuriated mob which nearly succeeded in snatching them from the
officers of the law, in order to have the satisfaction of tearing their
bodies to pieces.2 Ingenious contrivance for protracting torture.
It would seem, however, that the most relentless enemy could scarcely
have complained that any womanish indulgence had been shown to the
persons singled out to expiate the crime of posting the placard against
the mass. To delay the advent of death, the sole term of their
excruciating sufferings, an ingeniously contrived instrument of torture
was put in play, which if not altogether novel, had at least been but
seldom employed up to this time. Instead of
1 Histoire ecclés., i. 13.
2 Histoire ecclés., ubi supra.
being bound to the stake and simply roasted to death by means of the fagots
heaped up around him, the victim was now suspended by chains over a blazing
fire, and was alternately lowered into it and drawn out--a refinement of cruelty
whose principal recommendation to favor lay in the fact that the diversion it
afforded the spectators could be made to last until they were fully
satisfied, and the executioner chose to allow the writhing sufferer to
be suffocated in the flames.1 So satisfactory were the results of
the Estrapade, that it came to be universally employed as the
instrument for executing "Lutherans," with the exception of a favored
few, to whom the privilege was accorded of being hung or strangled
before their bodies were thrown into the fire. Such was, soon after this
time, the fate of a woman, a school-teacher by profession, found guilty
of heresy. In any case, the judges took effectual measures to forestall
the deplorable consequences that might ensue from permitting the
"Lutherans" to address the by-standers, and so pervert them from the
orthodox faith. The hangman was instructed to pierce their tongue with a
hot iron, or to cut it out altogether; just as, at a later date, the
sound of the drum was employed to drown the last utterances of the
victims of despotism.2
Flight of Marot.
The flames of persecution were not extinguished with the conclusion of
the solemn expiatory pageant. For months strangers sojourning in Paris
shuddered at the horrible sights almost daily meeting their eyes.3
The lingering hope that a prince naturally clement and averse to
needless bloodshed, would at length tire of countenancing these
continuous scenes of atrocity,
1 "Une espèce d'estrapade où l'on attachoit les
criminels, que les bourreaux, par le moyen d'une corde, guindoient en
haut, et les laissoient ensuite tomber dans le feu à diverses reprises,
pour faire durer leur supplice plus longtems." Félibien, ii. 999.
2 Gerdes, Hist. Evang. renov., iv. 109. For the nature of
the penalty, see Bastard D'Estang, Les parlements de France, i. 425,
note on punishments.
3 When John Sturm wrote, March 4th, eighteen--when
Latomus wrote, somewhat later, twenty-four--adherents of the
Reformation had suffered capitally. Bretschneider, Corp. Reform., ii.
855, etc. "Plusieurs aultres héréticques en grant nombre furent après
bruslez à divers jours," says the Cronique du Roy Françoys I^er, p. 129,
"en sorte que dedans Paris on ne véoit que potences dressées en divers lieux," etc.
seemed gradually to fade away. Great numbers of the most intelligent and scholarly consulted their safety in flight; the friendly court of Renée of France, Duchess of Ferrara, affording, for a time, asylum to Clément Marot, the poet,
and to many others. Meantime the suspected "Lutherans" that could not be found
were summoned by the town-crier to appear before the proper courts for trial.
A list of many such has escaped destruction of time.1 Fortunately,
most of them had gotten beyond the reach of the officers of the law, and
the sentence could, at most, effect only the confiscation of their property.
Royal declaration of Coucy, July 16, 1535.
As summer advanced, however, the rigor of the persecution was perceived
to be somewhat abating. Finally, on the sixteenth of July, the king so
far yielded to the urgency of open or secret friends of progress among
the courtiers, as to issue a "Declaration" to facilitate the return of
the fugitives. "Forasmuch," said Francis, "as the heresies, which, to
our great displeasure, had greatly multiplied in our kingdom, have
ceased, as well by the Divine clemency and goodness, as by the diligence
we have used in the exemplary punishment of many of their
adherents--who, nevertheless, were not in their last hours abandoned by
the hand of our Lord, but, turning to Him, have repented, and made
public confession of their errors, and died like good Christians and
Catholics--no further prosecution of persons suspected of heresy shall
be made, but they will be discharged from imprisonment, and their goods
restored. For the same reason, all fugitives who return and abjure
their errors within six months will receive pardon. But
Sacramentarians2 and the relapsed are excluded from this offer.
Furthermore, all men are forbidden, under
1 G. Guiffrey, Cronique du Roy Françoys I^er, 130-132;
and this burning of men alive was a cruel death, and better calculated
to lead to rejection of the faith than to conversion.3 He therefore
prayed the king to appease his anger, to abate the severity of justice,
and grant pardon to the guilty. Francis, consequently, because of his
desire to please his Holiness, became more moderate, and enjoined upon
parliament to practise
1 "De ne lire, dogmatiser, translater, composer ni
imprimer, soit en public ou en privé, aucune doctrine contrariant à la
foy chrétionne." Declaration of Coucy, July 16, 1535, Isambert, Recueil
des anc. lois franç., xii. 405-407. See also a similar declaration, May
31, 1536, ibid., xii. 504.
2 Journal d'un bourgeois de Paris, 458, 459.
3 Neantmoins Dieu le créateur, luy estant en ce monde, a plus usé de miséricorde
que de rigueur, et qu'il ne faut aucunes fois user de rigueur, et que c'est une cruelle
mort de faire brusler vif un homme, dont parce il pourroit plus qu'autrement
renoncer la foy et la loy. Ibid., ubi supra.
less harshness. For this reason the judges ceased from criminal proceedings against the "Lutherans," and many prisoners were discharged both from the Conciergerie and from the Châtelet.
That this extraordinary rumor was in general circulation appears from
the circumstance that it is alluded to by a Paris correspondent of
Melanchthon; while another account that has recently come to light
states it not as a flying report, but as a well-ascertained fact.1
Its singularity is shown from its apparent inconsistency with the
well-known history and sentiments of the Farnese Paul. It is difficult
to conceive how the pontiff who approved of the Society of Jesus and
instituted the Inquisition in the kingdom of Naples, could have been
touched with compassion at the recital of the suffering of French
heretics. Yet the paradoxes of history are too numerous to permit us to
reject as apocryphal a story so widely current, or to explain it away by
making it only a popular echo of the convictions of the more enlightened
as to the views that were most befitting the claimant to a universal
Clemency again dictated by policy.
Francis himself, however, made no such statement to the Venetian
ambassador at his court. Marino Giustiniano, who gave in his report to