part in the enterprise--the conquest of the kingdom of Naples.
Montmorency's success, however, fell far short of the reputation
he enjoyed for consummate generalship. Not only did he fail
to relieve his nephews Coligny and D'Andelot, who had shut
themselves up with a handful of men in the fortress of St. Quentin; but
he himself (on the tenth of August, 1557) met with a signal defeat in
which the flower of the French army was routed, and many of its leaders,
including the constable himself, were taken prisoners.
Rage against the "Lutherans."
The French capital was thrown into a paroxysm of fear on receipt of the
intelligence. The road to Paris lay open to the victorious army. The
king, not less than the people, expected to hear the Spaniards within a
few brief days thundering at the very gates of the city. Charles the
Fifth, from his retirement at Yuste, is said to have asked the courier
with impatience, whether his son was already in Paris. In the minds
of the populace, disappointment and fear were mingled with rage against
"the accursed sect of the Lutherans"--the reputed authors of all the
public calamities. Every prediction which the priests had for a
generation been ringing in the ears of the people seemed now to be in
course of fulfilment. In the startling defeat of a large and
well-appointed army of France, led by an experienced general, all eyes
read tokens of the evident displeasure of the Almighty, not because of
the ignorance and immorality of the people, or the bad doctrine and
worse lives of its spiritual leaders, or the barbarous cruelty, the
shameless impurity, and unexampled bad faith of the court; but because
of the existence of heretics who
1 Besides the accounts of the disastrous battle of St.
Quentin given by the Mémoires of Rabutin, Coligny and other
contemporaries, and by De Thou and other historians of a somewhat later
date, the graphic narrative of its incidents contained in Prescott's
Reign of Philip the Second (lib. i., c. vii.) is well worthy of
and worship the transubstantiated wafer. The popular anger
was the more ready to kindle because the harsh measures of the
government had confessedly failed of accomplishing their object, and
because--to use the expressive language of the royal edict--the fire
still burned beneath the ashes. An incident which happened little
more than a fortnight after the battle of St. Quentin disclosed the
bitter fruits of the slanderous reports and violent teachings
disseminated among the excitable inhabitants of Paris.
The affair of the Rue St. Jacques, Sept. 4, 1557.
Assault upon the worshippers.
The Protestants of the capital, far from rejoicing over the misfortunes
of the kingdom, as their adversaries falsely asserted, met even more
frequently than before to offer their united prayers in its behalf. On
the evening of the fourth of September, 1557, three or four hundred
persons, of every rank of society, quietly repaired to a house in the
Rue St. Jacques, almost under the very shadow of the Sorbonne, where the
sacrament of the Lord's Supper was to be administered according to
previous appointment. Their coming together had not been so noiseless,
however, as to escape the attention of some priests, residing in the
Collége du Plessis, on the other side of the way, whose suspicions had
for some time been fixed upon the spot. The reformed were not
1 "Comme feu soubs la cendre." Recueil gén. des anc. Lois fr., xiii. 134.
2 By an unpardonable negligence, Mr. Browning places the
"affaire de la rue St. Jacques" before the battle of St. Quentin, in the
month of May, 1557. History of the Huguenots, i. 45.
3 A contemporary account of the affair by the reformer Knox, dated Dieppe, Dec. 7, 1557,
although it adds little to our knowledge of the incidents, is of considerable interest. I cite
a few sentences: "Almost in everie notabill Citie within France thair be assemblit godlie
Congregationis of sic as refusit all societie with the sinagoge of Sathan, so were (and yit
are) dyvers Congregationis in Paris, and kirkis having thair learnit ministeris for preishing
Chrystis Evangell, and for trew ministratioun of the halie Sacramentis instated be him.
The brute whairof being spred abrod, great search was maid for thair aprehensioun, and
at lenth, according to the pre-disingnit consall of oure God, who hath apoyntit the memberis
to be lyke to the heid, the bludthirstie wolves did violentlie rusche in amongis a portioun
of Chrystis simpill lambis. For thois hell-houndis of Sorbonistis, accompanyit with the rascall
pepill, and with sum sergeantis maid apt for thair purpois, did so furiouslie invade a halie
assemblie convenit (nye the number of four hundreth personis) to celebrat the memorie
of oure Lordis deth," etc. Printed from MS. volume in possession of Dr. McCrie, in David
Laing's Works of John Knox (Edinb., 1855), iv. 299.
disturbed during the exercise of their worship. But when, toward
midnight, they prepared to return to their homes, the fury of their
enemies discharged upon them the full force of its pent-up energies. A
fanatical crowd blocked the street or filled the opposite windows, ready
to overwhelm with a shower of stones and missiles of all descriptions
any that might leave the protection of the house. Continual accessions
were made of those whom the cries of "Thieves!" "Robbers!" "Conspirators
against the realm!" attracted to the place. The discovery of the fact
that it was a company not of robbers, but of "Lutherans," only inflamed
the rage of the new-comers. The cry was now for blood. Every avenue of
escape was guarded, and bonfires lighted here and there dispelled the
friendly darkness. Carts and wagons were drawn across the streets, and
armed men occupied the street-corners, or, if too cowardly to expose
themselves to any danger, stood ready at doors and windows to thrust the
fugitives through with their pikes.
The assembled Protestants, awakened to their danger, at first expected a
general massacre. But the exhortations of their pastors and elders gave
them new courage. In the midst of the storm raging without, they betook
themselves to prayer. At length the necessity was recognized of coming
to a prompt decision. To await the coming of the civil authorities, for
whom their enemies had sent, was to give themselves up to certain death.
Nothing remained but to force their way out--a course recommended, we
are told, by those who knew the cowardice of a Parisian mob. The men who
unfavorable tidings at Dieppe, on his return from Geneva, not only
devoted himself to visiting and strengthening his persecuted brethren in
France (M'Crie, Life of Knox, i. 202; Brandes, J. Knox, Elberfeld, 1862,
p. 136), but had the Apology of the Parisian Protestants translated into
English, himself adding the prefatory remarks, from which several
quotations have been made above. The treatise seems never to have been
printed until the present century, the probable reason, according to Mr.
Laing, being the subsequent release of so many of the prisoners as
3 "Jusques icy ceulx qui out esté appeléz au martyre ont
esté contemptibles au monde, tant pour la qualité de leurs
personnes, que pource que le nombre n'a pas esté si grand pour ung
coup. Que sçavons-nous s'il a desjà appresté une issue telle qu'il y
aura de quoy nous esjouir et le glorifier au double?" Letter of Calvin,
Sept 16, 1557. Bonnet, Lett. fr. de Calv., ii. 139-145.
one and then another be involved in them, until the number of sufferers
become an infinite one. In short, the whole kingdom will be in flames.
The question no longer is how to satisfy the desire of the poor
brethren, but, if we have a single spark of humanity within us, to
succor them in such extremity.... Though money be not promptly obtained
elsewhere, yet shall I make such efforts, should I be obliged to pledge
my head and my feet, that it be forthcoming here."1
Beza, with his associates, Carmel, Farel, and Budé, at the same time, by
Calvin's request, took active steps to induce the Protestant cantons and
princes to intercede with Henry, and their exertions were not in
vain.2 It was the object of the reformers to enlist the intervention
of those Protestant powers, in particular, whose alliance and assistance
might be deemed indispensable by the French king in his present
straits.3 The four "evangelical" Swiss cantons, encouraged by the
success of a recent mission in behalf of the Waldenses of Piedmont, sent
to Paris a deputation, whose appearance was greeted by the Protestants
with the utmost joy. The ambassadors, however, allowed themselves to be
cajoled and deceived by the Cardinal of Lorraine, to whom they had the
imprudence to intrust their petition. In reply to their address to the
king, they were told (on the fifth of November), in the name of his
Majesty, that he invited the confederates in future to trouble themselves
no further with the internal affairs of his kingdom, especially in
matters of religion, since he was resolved to follow in the steps of
1 Calvin aux églises de Lausanne, de Mouden, et de Payerne, Ibid., ii. 150, 151.
2 The MS. letter of Beza and his companions to the
"Seigneurs" of Berne (to whom their allies had referred the entire
matter, in order to obviate all delay), dated Basle, Sept. 27, 1557, is
in the archives of Berne, and has been printed for the first time in the
Bulletin, xvii. (April, 1868) 164-166. The writers urge the utmost
haste, both for the sake of the prisoners of Paris and of some other
Protestants confined in the dungeons of Dijon.
3 This was particularly the advice of the friendly Count
George of Montbéliard, as recorded by Beza: "Comes fuit in ea sententia,
ut, dum Helvetii priores cum rege agerent, sollicitaremus alios etiam
Germanos principes, ac præsertim eos, a quibus Pharao ille nova
auxilia hoc ipso tempore postularet." Letter to Zurich, Nov. 24, 1557, Baum, i. 495.
his predecessors.1 Discouraged by this rebuff, they did not
even attempt to press the matter upon the king's notice, or by a
personal interview endeavor to mitigate his anger against their
brethren. It had been better never to have engaged in the intercession
than support it so weakly.2 The German princes could not be induced