shown, or the judges were less willing to fulfil the cardinal's bloody
injunctions.1 La Porte was reprimanded for finding fault with the
rigorous sentences of the "grand' chambre," and liberated on declaring
those sentences good and praiseworthy. De Foix was condemned to make a
public declaration of his belief in the sole validity of the sacrament
as administered in the Romish Church, and to be suspended from his
office for a year; Du Faur to beg pardon of God, the king, and his
fellow-judges, for having maintained the propriety of holding a holy and
free universal council before extirpating the heretics, to pay a
considerable fine, and to suffer a five years' suspension. Fumée, more
fortunate than his associates, was acquitted in spite of the most
strenuous exertions of the Cardinal of Lorraine.2 Public indignation against the Guises.
Must the faithful submit passively to usurpation?
The savage persecution of the Protestants tended powerfully to
strengthen the current of popular sentiment that was setting in against
the government of the Guises. The sight of so many cruel executions for
more than thirty years had not accustomed either the dissidents or the
more reflecting among those of the opposite creed to the barbarous work.
"Is it not time," they asked, "to put a stop to the ravages of the
flames and of the sword of the executioner, when such signal failure has
attended their application? Will the
1 Compare La Planche, 242.
2 The singular details of these trials, which strikingly
illustrate the horrible corruption of the French judiciary in the
sixteenth century, are given by La Planche, 242-245; Hist. ecclés., i.
160-164; De Thou, ii. 703, 704; La Place, 24, who remarks upon the
singularly different judgments in the five cases, and attributes the
variety to the change in the state of the kingdom, and to the diversity
of the interrogatories addressed to the prisoners. The sentences against
Du Faur and De Foix were subsequently annulled and erased from the
records of the parliament, on the ground of irregularity.
terror of the estrapade quench the burning courage of a sect which has spread
over the whole of France, if it could not stifle the fire when first kindled at
Meaux and at Paris? Has not the policy of extermination thus far persisted in
only accelerating the growth of the new doctrines? Shall the sword rage
forever, and must princes of the blood and the noblest and purest in
lower ranks of society incur a common fate? Must the persecuted submit
with as good grace to the arbitrary decrees of the usurpers who, through
the example of a Scævola, and sacrificed their own lives to purchase
freedom for France. "Hitherto," notes Beza, "we have answered that the
storm must be overcome by prayer and by patience, and that He will not
desert us who lately showed by so wonderful an example (the death of
Henry) not only what He can, but what He will do for His church. Until
now this advice has been followed."2 As the plan for a forcible
overthrow of the Guises began to develop under the increasing
oppression, and as malcontents from France came to the free city on Lake
Leman in greater numbers, Calvin expressed his convictions with more and
more distinctness, and endeavored to dissuade the refugees from
embarking in so hazardous an undertaking. Its advocates in vain urged
that they had received from a prince of the blood (entitled, by the
immemorial custom of the realm, to the first place in the council, in
the absence of his brother, the King of Navarre) the promise to present
their confession of faith to the young monarch of France, and that
thousands would espouse his defence if he were assailed. The reformer
saw more clearly than they the rising of the clouds of civil war
portending ruin to his native land. "Let but a single drop of blood be
shed," said Calvin, "and streams will flow that must inundate
France."3 But his prudent advice was unheeded.
1 Beza to Bullinger, Sept. 12, 1559 (Baum, ii., App., p.
3). Calvin, in his letters to Bullinger and Peter Martyr, both dated May
11, 1560, by the expression "eight months ago," points back to the same
period. Calvin's Letters (Bonnet), Eng. tr., iv. 104-106.
2 Beza, ubi supra.
3 Calvin's Letters, iv. 107. So the ministers of Geneva
declare before the council: "que pour les troubles arrivés en France,
ils n'en sont nullement coupables; qu'il ne doit pas être inconnu au
Conseil qu'ils ont détourné, autant qu'ils ont pu, d'aller à Amboise,
ceux qu'ils ont sceu avoir quelque dessein d'y aller." Registers, Jan.
28, 1561, apud Gaberel, Histoire de l'égl. de Genève, i., pieces justif., 203.
Other theologians and jurists of France and Germany had been questioned.
They replied more favorably, "It is lawful," they said, "to take up arms to repel
the violence of the Guises, under the authority of a prince of the blood,
and at the solicitation of the estates of France, or the soundest part
North and the South, when the king was not present to check its growth.
3 La Planche, 238, 239; Hist. ecclés., i. 158, 159; De
Thou, ii. 754-762 (where La Renaudie's harangue is given at length);
Castelnau, liv. i., c. 8; Davila, 22; La Place, 33. Hist. du tumult d'Amboise, ubi supra.
Cardinal of Lorraine and his brother, intoxicated by the uniform success
hitherto attending their ambitious projects, despised such vague rumors
of opposition as reached their ears. The party adverse to their tyranny,
composed not only of Protestants and others who sought the best interests
of their country, but recruited from the ranks of the restless and of those who
had private wrongs to redress, was sure, on the first tidings of its
uprising, to secure the active co-operation of many of the most powerful
nobles, and possibly might enlist the majority of the population. Rarely
has an important secret been so long and so successfully kept. It was
deemed little short of a miracle that, in a time of peace, and in a
country where the regal authority was so implicitly obeyed, a
deliberative assembly of no mean size had been convened from all the
provinces of France, and the Guises had obtained intimations of the
conspiracy of their enemies by letters from Germany, Spain, and Italy,
before any tidings of it reached the ears of their spies carefully
posted in every part of the kingdom. So close a reticence augured ill
for the permanence of the present usurpation.1
The plot betrayed.
But the timidity or treachery of a single person disconcerted all the
steps so cautiously taken. The curiosity of Des Avenelles, a lawyer at
Paris, in whose house La Renaudie lodged, was excited by the number of
the visitors whom his guest attracted. As his host was a Protestant, La
Renaudie believed that he risked nothing in making of him a confidant.
But the secret was too valuable, or too dangerous, to be kept, and Des
Avenelles secured his safety, as well as a liberal reward, by disclosing
it to two dependants of the Guises, by whom it was faithfully reported
to their masters.2 The
1 De Thou, ii. 762, 763.
2 Castelnau, 1. i., c. 8; La Planche, 245, 246; Hist.
eccl., i. 164; La Place, 33; De Thou, ii. 763. The Histoire du tumulte
d'Amboise, apud Recueil des choses mémorables (1565), i. 5, and Mém.
de Condé, i. 329, describes Des Avenelles as "prest de se donner à
louage au premier offrant;" adding "estant ambitieux et nécessiteux tout