History of the rise of the huguenots

Heresy to be punished as sedition. Repression proves a failure

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Heresy to be punished as sedition. Repression proves a failure.

But the succession of edicts, each surpassing the last in severity, had

not rendered the path of the judges, whether lay or ghostly, altogether

easy. There were found prisoners, accused of holding and teaching

heretical doctrines, well skilled in holy lore, however ignorant of the

casuistry of the schools, who made good their assertion that they could

give a warrant for all their distinctive tenets from the Sacred

Scriptures. Their arguments were so cogent, their citations were so

apposite, that the auditors who had come with the expectation of

witnessing the confusion of a heretic, often departed absorbed in

serious consideration of a system that had so much the appearance of

truth when defended by a simple man in jeopardy of his life, and when

fortified by the authority of the Bible. More learned reformers had

appealed successfully to the Fathers to whose teachings the church

avowed its implicit obedience. It was clear that some standard of

orthodoxy must be established. For, if St. Augustine or St. Cyprian

might be brought up to prove the errors of the priests, what was it but

1 "Conspirateurs occultes contre la prospérité de nostre

estat, dépendant principalement et en bonne partie de la conservation de

l'intégrité de la foy catholique en nostredit royaume, rebelles et

désobéyssans a nous et à nostre justice." Recueil des anc. lois

françaises, xii. 819.

2 Ibid., xii. 820.

allowing the reformers to place the Roman Church at the bar, even in the

very courts of justice? Might not the most damaging losses be expected

to flow from such trials?

The public court, indeed, were not the only places where the

inconsistencies of the established church with its own ancient standards

and representative theologians were brought out into bold relief. The pulpits of
the very capital resounded, it was alleged, with contradictory teachings,
scandalizing the faithful not a little at the holy season of Advent.1
The Sorbonne's Twenty-five Articles.

To put an end to so anomalous a state of affairs, the Parisian

theologians, with the consent of the king, resolved to enunciate the

true Catholic faith, in the form of twenty-five articles meeting all

questions now in dispute (on the tenth of March, 1543). Of the general

contents of this new formulary, it is sufficient to observe that it more

concisely expressed the doctrines developed in the decisions of the

Council of Trent; that it insisted upon baptism as essential to the

salvation even of infants; that it magnified the freedom of the human

will, and maintained the justification of the sinner by works as well as

by faith; and that, dwelling upon the bodily presence of Christ in the

consecrated wafer, it affirmed the propriety of denying the cup to the laity,

the utility of masses for the dead, the lawfulness of the invocation of the
blessed Virgin and the saints, the existence of purgatory, the infallibility of
the church, the authority of tradition, and the divine right of the Pope.2
Francis gives them the force of law.

On the twenty-third of July, 1543, the very day of the publication

1 The preamble of the royal letters giving execution to the Twenty-five Articles of the Sorbonne mentions as a moving cause "plusieurs scandales et schismes par cy devant intervenus, et
mesmement en cest advent de Noel dernier passé, par le moyen et à l'occasion de
contentions, contradictions et altercations de certain prédicateurs preschans et publians divers
et contraires doctrines." Recueil des anc. lois françaises, xii. 820.

2 Recueil des anc. lois franç., xii. 821-825. Among other recommendations appended to the
articles, was the following somewhat interesting one, designed to correct the irreverence of the
age: "Quand il vient à propos d'alleguer le nom des saincts apostres et évangelistes

ou saincts docteurs, qu'ils n'ayent à les nommer par leurs norm simplement, sans aucune préface

d'honneur, comme ont accoustumé dire, 'Paul,' 'Jacques,' 'Mathieu,' 'Pierre,' 'Hiérosme,' 'Augustin,' etc. Et ne leur doit estre grief adjouster et préposer le nom de 'sainct,' en
disant, 'sainct Pierre,' 'sainct Paul,' etc.!"

of the edict of persecution previously mentioned, Francis by letters-patent

gave the force of law to the exposition of the faith drawn up by the

theological faculty of "his blessed and eldest daughter, the University

of Paris." Henceforth no other doctrines could be professed in France.

Dissent was to be treated as "rebellion" against the royal

Persecution more systematic. The inquisitor Matthieu Ory.

The sanguinary legislation at which we have glanced bore its most

atrocious fruits in the last years of Francis, and in the reign of his

immediate successor. The consideration of this topic must, however, be

reserved for succeeding chapters. Until now the persecution had been

carried on with little system, and its intensity had varied according to

the natural temperament and disposition of the Roman Catholic prelates,

not less than the zeal of the civil judges. Many clergymen, as well as

lay magistrates, had exhibited a singular supineness in the detection

and punishment of the reformed. Some bishops, supposed to be at heart

friendly to the restoration of the church to its pristine purity of

doctrine and practice, had scarcely instituted a serious search. The

royal edicts themselves bear witness to their reluctance, in spite of

threatened suspension and deprivation. It is true that an attempt had

been made to secure greater thoroughness and uniformity, by augmenting

the number of inquisitors of the faith, and this, notwithstanding the

fact that their authority infringed upon that of the bishops, whose

right was scarcely questioned to exclusive cognizance of heresy within

their respective dioceses. Not only had Matthieu Ory2 and others

been appointed with jurisdiction over the entire

1 Ibid., xii. 820. In answer to these Articles, Calvin

wrote his "Antidote aux articles de la faculté Sorbonique de Paris."

2 Ory, Oriz, or Oritz, as his name was indifferently

written, was a prominent character in subsequent scenes of blood, and

was, as we may hereafter see, the agent employed by Henry II. to cajole,

or frighten his aunt, Renée, and bring her back into the bosom of the

Roman Church. The letters-patent giving this personage, who is styled

"doctor of theology and prior of the preaching friars (Dominicans) of

Paris," authority to exercise the functions of inquisitor of the faith

throughout the kingdom, in place of Valentin Lievin, deceased, are of

May 30, 1536, Recueil des anc. lois fr., xii. 503. Similar letters were

issued April 10, 1540. His confirmation by Henry II., June 22, 1550,

ibid., xiii. 173.

kingdom, but a special inquisitor was created for the province of Normandy.

Even these persons, however, were not always equally zealous in the
performance of their allotted task. It was notorious that the good cheer with
which Ory was regaled by the astute Protestants of Sancerre led him to report
them to be excellent people. A deputy, who next visited the reputed heretics,

brought back an equally flattering statement. And so the persecuting

"lieutenant particulier" of Bourges seems to have had some ground for

his complaint, "that good wine and a right new coat caused all these

inquisitors to return well satisfied, without bringing him any


The Nicodemites and Libertins.

It could not be otherwise, however, than that these severe measures and

the employment of new agents in the pitiless work of persecution should

induce many feeble souls to suppress their true sentiments, and to make

the attempt, under an external conformity with the Roman Church, to

maintain opinions and a private devotion quite inconsistent with their

professions. And, while the progress of the Reformation was seriously

impeded by the timidity of this class of irresolute persons--appropriately styled

by their contemporaries "the Nicodemites"--scarcely less danger threatened
the same doctrines from the insidious assaults of the Libertines, a party
which, ostensibly aiming at reform and religious liberty, really asked only
for freedom in the indulgence of vicious propensities. Against both of these
pernicious tendencies the eloquent reformer of Geneva employed his pen in forcible treatises, which were not without effect in checking their inroads.2

1 Histoire ecclésiastique, i. 13. It is, in fact, an interesting circumstance that Rocheli, or Rochetti,
the deputy inquisitor referred to in the text, not long after became a convert to Protestantism,
and applied himself to preaching the doctrines he had once labored to overturn.

2 The first, entitled "Epistolæ duæ; prima de fugiendis impiorum illicitis sacris et puritate Christianæ religionis; secunda de Christiani hominis officio in sacerdotiis papalis ecclesiæ

vel administrandis vel abjiciendis," 1537. The second, "Contre la secte fantastique et furieuse des

Libertins qui se disent spirituels," 1544. The latter, from its pointed reference to Quintin and Pocquet, two notorious leaders, seems to have given offence to Margaret of Navarre,

by whom they had been harbored in ignorance of their true character. A letter written to the queen

by Calvin immediately upon learning this, April 28, 1545 (Bonnet, Lettres françaises, i. 111-117), is at once one of the best examples of his nervous French style, and a fine illustration of manly
courage tempered with respect for a princess who had deserved well of Protestantism. A single sentence admirably portrays his attitude toward the formidable sect which had so devastated the Low Countries and had now entered France in the persons of two of its worst apostles--a sect
regarded by him as more pernicious and execrable than any previously existing: "Un chien abaye, s'il voit qu'on assaille son maistre; je seroys bien lasche, si en voyant la vérité de Dieu ainsi

assaillie, je faisoys du muet sans sonner mot."

Margaret of Navarre at Bordeaux.

It must be confessed that the Queen of Navarre herself gave no little

aid and comfort to the advocates of timid and irresolute counsels, by a

course singularly wanting in ingenuousness. This amiable princess knew

how to express herself with such ambiguity as to perplex both religious

parties and heartily satisfy neither the one side nor the other. She was

the avowed friend and correspondent of Melanchthon and Calvin. She was

believed to be in substantial agreement with the Protestants. Her views

of the fundamental doctrine of justification by faith and the paramount

authority of the Holy Scriptures were those for which many a Protestant

martyr had laid down his life. Even on the question of the Lord's

Supper, her opinions, if mystical and somewhat vague, were certainly far

removed from the dogmas of the Roman Church. She condemned, it is true,

the extreme to which the "Sacramentarians" went, but it was difficult to

see precisely wherein the modified mass she countenanced differed from

the reformed service. Certainly not a line in her correspondence with

Calvin points to any important difference of sentiment known by either

party to exist between them. What shall we say, then, on reading of such

language as she used in 1543, when addressing the Parliament of

Bordeaux? She had been deputed by her brother to represent him, and was,

consequently, received by the court, (on the twenty-fourth of May) with

honors scarcely, if at all, inferior to those that would have been

accorded to Francis had he presented himself in person. Her special

commission was to notify parliament of an expected attack by the

English, and to request that due preparation

should be made to ward it off. From this topic she passed to that of heresy, in

respect to which she expressed herself to this effect: "She exhorted and prayed
the court to punish and burn the true heretics, but to spare the innocent, and

have compassion upon the prisoners and captives."1 If, as the

interesting minute of the queen's visit informs us, she next proceeded

to claim the immemorial right, as a daughter of France, to open the

prisons and liberate the inmates according to her good pleasure,2 it

can scarcely be imagined that the assertion of the right at this time

had any other object in view than the release of those imprisoned for

conscience' sake. It is true that she took pains to protest that she

would avoid meddling with prisoners incarcerated for other crimes than

such as her brother was accustomed to pardon; but as the interference of

Francis in behalf of Berquin, Marot, and others accused of heresy, was

sufficiently notorious, her guarantee could scarcely be considered very

broad. Certainly she was not likely to find a "true heretic" worthy of

the stake among all those imprisoned as "Lutherans" in the city of

Negotiations in Germany. Hypocritical representations made by Charles of

While Francis, as we have seen, was from year to year aggravating the

severity of his enactments against the adherents of the Reformation in

his own kingdom, he did not forget his old rôle of ally of the

Protestant princes of the empire. It would be too wide a digression from

the true scope of this work, should we turn aside to chronicle the

successive attempts of the French monarch to secure these powerful

auxiliaries in his struggle with his great rival of the house of

Hapsburg. One incident must suffice. The hypocrisy of Francis could,

perhaps, go no farther than it carried him when, in 1543, his son

Charles, Duke of Orleans, at the head of a royal army took possession of

the Duchy of Luxemburg. The duke, who can hardly be imagined to have

allowed himself to take any important step, certainly no step fraught with such

1 "A exhorté et prié la cour de vouloir faire punir et

brûler les vrais hérétiques," etc. Reg. du Parl., May 24, 1543,

Boscheron des Portes, Hist. du parlement de Bordeaux, i. 63.

2 "Réclame son privilége de fille de France écrit dans un

livre qui est à Saint Denis, de faire ouvrir les prisons," etc. Ibid.,

ubi supra.

momentous consequences as might be expected to follow this,

without explicit instructions from his father, at once despatched an

envoy to the Elector of Saxony and the Landgrave of Hesse. The

subordinate agent in this game of duplicity was instructed to assure the

great Protestant leaders that it was the earnest desire of the Duke of

Orleans to see the Gospel preached throughout the whole of France. It

was true that filial reverence had hitherto restrained him from

gratifying his desires in this direction in his Duchy of Orleans; but in

the government of Luxemburg and of all other territories acquired by

right of arms, he hoped to be permitted by his royal father to follow

his own preferences, and there he solemnly promised to introduce the

proclamation of God's holy word. In return for these liberal

engagements, the duke desired the German princes, then on the point of

meeting for conference at Frankfort, to admit him to an alliance

offensive and defensive, especially in matters concerning religion. He

assured them of the support not only of his own forces, but of his

father's troops, committed to him to use at his discretion, adding, as a

further motive, the prospect that the Gospel would find more ready

welcome in the rest of France, when the king saw its German advocates

close allies of his youngest son.1
Commendable scepticism of the Germans.

But the princes were much too familiar with the wiles of Francis to

repose any confidence in the lavish professions of his son. And the

historian who discovers that the more intimately the king strove to

associate himself with the German Protestants, the more fiercely did he

commit the Protestants of France to the flames, in order to demonstrate

to the Pope the immaculate orthodoxy of his religious belief, will not

fail to applaud their discernment. Not

1The text of this singular document, dated Rheims, Sept.

8, 1543, is in Gerdes., Hist. Reform., iv. (Monumenta) 107-109. When the

"Instructions" fell into the hands of Charles V., he naturally tried to

make capital of a paper so little calculated to please Roman Catholics,

emanating from a son of the "Most Christian king." And Francis thought

himself compelled to clear himself from the charge of lukewarmness in

the faith, if not of actual heretical bias, by exercising fresh

severities upon the devoted Protestants of his own dominions.

until toward the very close of Francis's reign, when the Lutherans descried
portents of a storm that threatened them with utter extermination, raised by the bigotry or craft of Charles the Fifth, did they manifest any anxiety to enter into
near connection with the French monarch.

Francis was reaping the natural rewards of a crooked policy, dictated by

no strong convictions of truth or duty, but shaped according to the

narrow suggestions of an unworthy ambition. If he punished heretics at

home, it was partly to secure on his side the common sentiment of the

Roman Catholic world, partly because the enemies of the Reformation had

persuaded him that the change of religion necessarily involved the

subversion of established order and of royal authority. If he made

overtures to the Protestant princes of Germany, the flimsy veil of

devotion to their interests was too transparent to conceal the total

want of concern for anything beyond his own personal aggrandizement.

Two mournful exemplifications of the fruits of his persecuting measures

must, however, be presented to the reader's notice, before the curtain

can be permitted to fall over the scene on which this monarch played his

part. The massacre of Mérindol and Cabrières and the execution of the

"Fourteen of Meaux" are the melancholy events that mark the close of a

reign opening, a generation earlier, so auspiciously.



The Vaudois of Provence. Their industry and thrift.

Vaudois settlements even in the Comtât Venaissin.
That part of Provence, the ancient Roman Provincia, which skirts the

northern bank of the Durance, formerly contained, at a distance of

between twenty and fifty miles above the confluence of the river with

the Rhône near Avignon, more than a score of small towns and villages

inhabited by peasants of Waldensian origin. The entire district had been

desolated by war about a couple of centuries before the time of which we

are now treating. Extensive tracts of land were nearly depopulated, and

the few remaining tillers of the soil obtained a precarious subsistence,

at the mercy of banditti that infested the mountains and forests, and

plundered unfortunate travellers. Under these circumstances, the landed

gentry, impoverished through the loss of the greater part of their

revenues, gladly welcomed the advent of new-comers, who were induced to

cross the Alps from the valleys of Piedmont and occupy the abandoned

farms.1 By the industrious culture of the Vaudois, or Waldenses, the

face of the country was soon transformed. Villages sprang up where there

had scarcely been a single house. Brigandage disappeared. Grain, wine,

olives, and almonds were obtained in abundance from what had been a

barren waste. On lands

1 This was true particularly of the wealthy noble family to

whom belonged the fief of Cental, perhaps at a somewhat later date.

Among the Waldensian villages owned by it were those of La Motte

d'Aigues, St. Martin, Lourmarin, Peypin, and others in the same

vicinity. Bouche, Histoire de Provence, i. 610.

less favorable for cultivation numerous flocks and herds pastured.1

A tract formerly returning the scanty income of four crowns a year
now contained a thriving village of eighty substantial houses,
and brought its owners nearly a hundredfold the former
rental.2 On one occasion at least, discouraged by the

annoyance to which their religious opinions subjected them, a part of

the Vaudois sought refuge in their ancient homes, on the Italian side of

the mountains. But their services were too valuable to be dispensed

with, and they soon returned to Provence, in answer to the urgent

summons of their Roman Catholic landlords.3 In fact, a very striking

proof both of their industry and of their success is furnished by the

circumstance that Cabrières, one of the largest Vaudois villages, was

situated within the bounds of the Comtât Venaissin, governed, about

the time of their arrival, by the Pope in person, and subsequently, as

we have seen, by a papal legate residing in Avignon.4
They send delegates to the Swiss and German reformers.

The news of an attempted reformation of the church in Switzerland and

Germany awakened a lively interest in this community of simple-minded

Christians. At length a convocation of their ministers5 at Mérindol,

in 1530, determined to

1 Crespin, Actiones et Monimenta (Geneva, 1560), fols. 88, 90, 100.

2 Ibid., ubi supra, fol. 100; Garnier, Histoire de France, xxvi. 27.

3 Leber, Collection de pièces rel. à l'hist. de France, xvii. 550.

4The Comtât Venaissin was not reincorporated in the French

monarchy until 1663. Louis XIV., in revenge for the insult offered him

when, on the twentieth of August of the preceding year, his ambassador

to the Holy See was shot at by the pontifical troops, and some of his

suite killed and wounded, ordered the Parliament of Aix to re-examine

the title by which the Pope held Avignon and the Comtât. The parliament

cited the pontiff, and, when he failed to appear, loyally declared his

title unsound, and, under the lead of their first president (another

Meynier, Baron d'Oppède), proceeded at once to execute sentence by force

of arms, and oust the surprised vice-legate. No resistance was

attempted. Meynier was the first to render homage to the king for his

barony; and the people of Avignon, according to the admission of the

devout historian of Provence, celebrated their independence of the Pope

and reunion to France by Te Deums and a thousand cries of joy and

thanksgiving to Almighty God. Bouche, Histoire de Provence, ii. (Add.)


5 "Ministri, quos Barbas eorum idiomate id est, avunculos, vocabant." Crespin, fol. 88.

send two of their number to compare the tenets they had long

held with those of the reformers, and to obtain, if possible,
additional light upon some points of doctrine and of practice

respecting which they entertained doubt. The delegates were George

Morel, of Freissinières, and Pierre Masson, of Burgundy. They visited

Œcolampadius at Basle, Bucer and Capito at Strasbourg, Farel at

Neufchâtel, and Haller at Berne. From the first-named they received the

most important aid, in the way of suggestions respecting the errors1

into which the isolated position they had long occupied had insensibly

led them. Grateful for the kindness manifested to them, and delighted

with what they had witnessed of the progress of the faith they had

received from their fathers, the two envoys started on their return. But

Morel alone succeeded in reaching Provence; his companion was arrested

at Dijon and condemned to death. Upon the

1 The Histoire ecclésiastique, i. 22, while admitting that

the Vaudois "had never adhered to papal superstition," asserts that "par

longue succession de temps, la pureté de la doctrine s'estoit grandement

abastardie." From the letter of Morel and Masson to Œcolampadius, it

appears that, in consequence of their subject condition, they had formed

no church organization. Their Barbes, who were carefully selected and

ordained only after long probation, could not marry. They were sent out

two by two, the younger owing implicit obedience to the elder. Every

part of the extensive territory over which their communities were

scattered was visited at least once a year. Pastors, unless aged,

remained no longer than three years in one place. While supported in

part by the laity, they were compelled to engage in manual labor to such

an extent as to interfere much with their spiritual office and preclude

the study that was desirable. The most objectionable feature in their

practice was that they did not themselves administer the Lord's Supper,

but, while recommending to their flock to discard the superstitions

environing the mass, enjoined upon them the reception of the eucharist

at the hands of those whom they themselves regarded as the "members of

Antichrist." Œcolampadius, while approving their confession of faith

and the chief points of their polity, strenuously exhorted them to

renounce all hypocritical conformity with the Roman Church, induced by

fear of persecution, and strongly urged them to put an end to the

celibacy and itinerancy of their clergy, and to discontinue the

"sisterhoods" that had arisen among them. The important letters of the

Waldensee delegates and of Œcolampadius are printed in Gerdes., Hist.

Evang. Renov., ii. 402-418. An interesting account of the mission is

given by Hagenbach, Johann Oekolampad und Oswald Myconius, 150, 151.

report of Morel, however, the Waldenses at once began to

investigate the new questions that had been raised, and, in their
eagerness to purify their church, sent word to their brethren in
Apulia and Calabria, inviting them to a conference respecting
the interests of religion.1

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