History of the rise of the huguenots

Rejoinder of the Duke of Guise

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Rejoinder of the Duke of Guise.

The Guises spoke on the same day. The duke made a short, but passionate

rejoinder to Coligny, and gave little or no attention to the question

proposed for deliberation. He bitterly retorted to the proposal for the

dismissal of the body-guard, by saying that it had been placed around

the king only since the discovery of the treasonable plot of Amboise,

and he indignantly maintained that a conspiracy against ministers was

only a cover for designs against their master. As for the announcement

of the admiral that he could bring fifty thousand names to his

petitions, which he construed as a personal threat, he angrily replied

that if that or a greater number of the Huguenot sect should present

themselves, the king would oppose them with a million men of his

own.2 The question of religion he left to be discussed by others of

more learning; but well was he assured that not all the councils of the

world would detach him from the ancient faith. The assembling of the

States he referred to the king's discretion.3

The Cardinal of Lorraine is more politic.

The cardinal was more politic, and suppressed the manifestation

of that deadly hatred which, from this time forward, the

1 La Planche, 361; La Place, 66; De Thou, ii. 802; Mém. de

Castelnau, liv. ii. c. 8; Hist. ecclés., i. 178; Jean de Serres, i. 127.

2 La Planche, 361, 362; La Place, 67. The latter and J. de

Serres, i. 129, are certainly wrong in attributing this passionate

menace to the Cardinal of Lorraine. De Thou, ii. 802; Castelnau, 1. ii., c. 8.

3 La Planche, etc., ubi supra. Calvin to Bullinger, Oct. 1, 1560 (Bonnet, iv. 136).

brothers cherished against Coligny. He declared, however, that, although

the petitioners laid claim to such loyalty, their true character was apparent
from the affair at Amboise, as well as from the daily issue of libellous

pamphlets and placards, of which he had not less than twenty-two on his

table directed against himself, which he carefully preserved as his best

eulogium and claim to immortality. He advocated the severe repression of

the seditious; yet, with a stretch of hypocrisy and mendacity uncommon

even with a Guise, he expressed himself as for his own part very sorry

that such "grievous executions" had been inflicted upon those who went

"without arms and from fear of being damned to hear preaching, or who

sang psalms, neglected the mass, or engaged in other observances of

theirs," and as being in favor of no longer inflicting such useless

punishments! Nay, he would that his life or death might be of some

service in bringing back the wanderers to the path of truth. He opposed

a council as unnecessary--it could not do otherwise than decide as its

predecessors--but consented to a convocation of the clergy for the

reformation of manners. The States General he thought might well be

gathered to see with what prudence the administration of public affairs

had been carried on.1
Results of the Assembly of Fontainebleau.
The States General to be convened.

With the Cardinal of Lorraine the discussion ended. All the knights of

the order of St. Michael acquiesced in his opinions,

1 La Planche, 362, 363; La Place, 67; J. de Serres, De

statu rel. et reip., i. 128-131; De Thou, ii. 802, 803. After seeing the

head instigator of persecution, still gory with the blood of the recent

slaughter, assume with such effrontery the language of pity and

toleration, we may be prepared for his duplicity at the interview of

Saverne. The compiler of the Hist. ecclés. (i, 179) explains the consent

of the Guises to the convocation of the estates by supposing them to

have hoped by this measure not merely to take away the excuse of their

opponents, but, by obtaining a majority, to secure the declaration of

Navarre and Condé as rebels, whether they came or declined to appear.

Calvin (letter to Bullinger, ubi supra, p. 137) gives the same view.

So does Barbaro: "Forse non tanto per volontà che s'avesse d'esseguirle

quanto per adomentare gli risvegliati, et guadagnar, come si fece." The

Pope and Philip violently opposed the plan "perchè nè l'uno nè l'altro

sapeva il secreto." "By the plan of the council, ... they succeeded in

feeding with vain hopes (dar pasto) those who sought to make innovations

in the faith." Rel. des Amb. Vén., i. 524, etc.

but indulged in no farther remarks. On the twenty-sixth of August the decision

was announced. The States General were to convene on the tenth of December,

at Meaux, or such other city as the king might hereafter prefer. A month

later (on the twentieth of January) the prelates were to come together

wherever the king might be, thence to proceed to the national, or to the

general council, if such should be held. Meanwhile, in each bailiwick

and "sénéchaussée," the three orders were to be separately assembled, in

order to prepare minutes of their grievances, and elect delegates to the

States General; and all legal proceedings and all punishment for the

matter of religion were to be suspended save in the case of those who

assembled in arms and were seditious.1

Such was the history of this famous assembly, in which, for the first

time, the Huguenots found a voice; where views were calmly expressed

respecting toleration and the necessity of a council, which a year

before had been punished with death; where the chief persecutor of the

reformed doctrines, carried away by the current, was induced to avow

liberal principles.2 This was progress enough for a single year. The

enterprise of Amboise was not all in vain.
New alarms. Antoine and Condé summoned to court.

The Assembly of Fontainebleau had not dispersed when the court was

thrown into fresh alarm. An agent of the King of Navarre, named La

Sague, was discovered almost by accident,

1 La Planche, 363, 364; La Place, 68; De Thou, ii. 803

(liv. xxv). Cf. the edict in full apud Négociations sous François II.,

486-490; also a letter of Francis in which he explains his course to

Philip II., ib. 490-497.

2 The cardinal had, however, made a somewhat similar

discourse, just about six months before, to Throkmorton, much to the

good knight's disgust. He had expressed a recognition of the faults

prevalent in the church, and pretended to be desirous of reforming it in

an orderly manner. "I am not so ignorant," he said, "nor so led with

errors that reigne, as the world judgeth." He declared himself in favor

of a general council, and spoke with satisfaction of an edict just

despatched to Scotland, "to surcease the punishment of men for

religion." "And of this purpose," adds the ambassador with pardonable

sarcasm, "he made suche an oration as it were long to write, evon as

thoughe he had bene hired by the Protestants to defend their cause

earnestly!" Despatch to the queen, Feb. 27, 1559/60, Forbes, State

Papers, i. 337, 338.

who, after delivering letters from his master to various friends in the

neighborhood of Paris, was about to return southward with their friendly
responses. He had imprudently given a treacherous acquaintance to understand
that a formidable uprising was contemplated; and letters found upon his person

seemed to bear out the assertion. The most cruel tortures were resorted

to in order to elicit accusations against the Bourbons from suspected

persons.1 Among others, François de Vendôme, Vidame of Chartres, one

of the correspondents, was (on the twenty-seventh of August) thrown into

the Bastile.2 Three days later a messenger was despatched by the

king to Antoine of Navarre, requesting him at once to repair to the

capital, and to bring with him his brother Condé, against whom the

charge had for six months been rife, that he was the head of secret

enterprises, set on foot to disturb the peace of the realm.3 At the

same time an urgent request was sent to Philip the Second for assistance.4

1 Sommaire récit de la calomnieuse accusation de M. le

prince de Condé, Mémoires de Condé, ii. 373; Languet, ii. 66.

2 Throkmorton to Cecil, Sept. 3, 1560, State Paper Office; La Place, 68, 69; La
Planche, 345, 346; De Thou, ii. 804-806; Castelnau, 1. ii., c. 7.

3 La Planche, p. 375. Instructions to M. de Crussol, going

by order of the king to the King of Navarre, Aug. 30, 1560, apud

Négoc. sous François II., pp. 482-486. The beginning of this paper,

directing Crussol to express regret that Navarre had not come to the

council of Fontainebleau, and to announce the result of its

recommendations, is sufficiently conciliatory. If, however, Navarre

should hesitate to obey the summons, the agent was bidden to frighten

him into compliance. On the first show of resistance, Francis would

collect his own troops, consisting of thirty thousand or forty thousand

foot, and seven hundred or eight hundred horse, expected levies of ten

thousand Swiss, and six thousand or seven thousand German lansquenets.

Philip had assured him of the assistance of all his forces, foot and

horse, both from the side of Netherlands and of Spain. The Dukes of

Lorraine, Savoy, and Ferrara would bring fourteen thousand to sixteen

thousand foot and one thousand five hundred horse. The king's arrangements were
complete, and he was resolved to make an example. The arrest of La Sague was,
however, not to be mentioned. Letter of Francis to the King of Navarre, Aug. 30, in
Recueil des choses mém. (1565), 75, 76, and Mém. de Condé, i. 573.

4 See the message in cipher appended to a despatch to the

French ambassador at Madrid, Aug. 31, 1560, apud Nég. sous François

II., pp. 490-497. The discovery is said to have been made within five or

six days. Condé is implicated. Against Navarre there is as yet no proof.

The Queen of England, is suspected of complicity, despite the recent

treaty (of July 23d, by which Mary, Queen of Scots, renounced her claims

upon the crown of England). The affright of the Guises may be judged from the
circumstance that two copies of the despatch were forwarded--one by Guyenne,
the other by Languedoc--so that at least one might reach its destination.

Philip adverse to a national council.
Projects to crush all heresy and its abettors.

Nor was his Catholic Majesty reluctant to grant help--at least on paper.

But he accompanied his promises with advice. In particular, he sent Don

Antonio de Toledo to dissuade the French government from holding a

national council in Paris for the reformation of religion, as he

understood it was proposed to do during the coming winter. This, he

represented, would be prejudicial to their joint interests; "for, should

the French alter anything, the King of Spain would be constrained to

admit the like in all his countries." To which it was replied in

Francis's name, that "he would first assemble his three estates, and

there propone the matter to see what would be advised for the manner of

a calling a general council, not minding without urgent necessity to

assemble a council national." As to the Spanish help, conditioned on the

prudence of the French government, the Argus-eyed Throkmorton, who by

his paid agents could penetrate into the boudoirs of his

fellow-diplomatists and read their most cherished secrets,1 wrote to

Queen Elizabeth that a gentleman had reported to him that he had seen

"at the Pope's nuncio's hands a letter from the nuncio in Spain, wherein

the aids were promised, and that the King of Spain had written to the

French king that he would not only help him to suppress all heresy,

trouble, and rebellion in France, but also join him to cause all such

others as will not submit to the See Apostolic to come to order." In

fact, Throkmorton was enabled to say just how many men were to come from

Flanders, and how many from Spain, and how many were to enter by way of

Narbonne, and how many by way of Navarre.

1 Thomas Shakerly, the Cardinal of Ferrara's organist, sent

him budgets of news not less regularly than the secretary of the Duke of

Savoy's ambassador at Venice supplied the English agent copies of all

the most important letters his master received. See the interesting

letter of John Shers to Cecil, Venice, Jan. 18, 1561, State Paper Office.

Quick work was to be made of schism, heresy, and rebellion in France.

"This done, and the parties for religion clean overthrown," added
the ambassador, "these princes have already accorded to convert
their power towards England and Geneva, which they take to be
the occasioners and causers of all their troubles."1
Navarre's irresolution embarrasses Montbrun.

The King of Navarre had, even before the receipt of the royal summons,

discovered the mistake he had committed in not listening to the counsel,

and copying the example of the constable, who had come to Fontainebleau

well attended by retainers. Unhappily, the irresolution into which he

now fell led to the loss of a capital opportunity. The levies ordered by

Francis in Dauphiny, for the purpose of assisting the papal legate in

expelling Montbrun from the "Comtât," enabled the Sieur de Maligny to

collect a large Huguenot force without attracting notice. It had been

arranged that these troops should be first employed in seizing the

important city of Lyons for the King of Navarre. A part of the Huguenot

soldiers had, indeed, already been secretly introduced into the

city,2 when letters were received from the irresolute Antoine

indefinitely postponing the undertaking. After having for several days

deliberated respecting his best course of conduct in these unforeseen

circumstances, Maligny decided to withdraw as quietly as he had come;

but a porter, who had caught a glimpse of the arms collected in one of

the places of rendezvous, informed the commandant of the city. In the

street engagement which ensued the Huguenots were successful, and for

several hours held possession of the city from the Rhône to the Saône.

Finding it impossible, however, to collect the whole force to carry out

his original design, Maligny retired under cover of the night, and was

so fortunate as to suffer little loss.3

1 Throkmorton to queen, Poissy, Oct. 10, 1560, State Paper Office.

2 In a despatch to his ambassador at Madrid, Sept. 18, 1560 (Négoc. sous François II., 523, etc.),
Francis states that 1,000 or 1,200 armed soldiers had been posted in sixty-six houses, ready to
sally out by night, capture the city, and open the gates to 2,000 men waiting outside. Of
course, according to the king or his ministers, the object was plunder, and the enterprise a
fair specimen of Huguenot sanctity.
3 La Planche, 365-368; La Place, 69; Nég. sous François II., ubi supra; Mém. de Castelnau, 1. ii.,
c. 9; Languet, ii. 70; De Thou, ii. 806. Calvin, in a letter to Beza (Sept. 10, 1560), seems to

allude, though not by name, to Maligny, and to condemn his rashness; but the passage is purposely too obscure to throw much light upon the matter. Bonnet, iv. 126, etc.

The people not discouraged. "The fashion of Geneva."
Books from Geneva destroyed.

Maligny's failure disconcerted Montbrun and Mouvans, with whom he had

intended to co-operate, but had little effect in repressing the courage

of the Huguenot people. Of this the royal despatches are the best

evidence. Francis wrote to Marshal de Termes that since the Assembly of

Fontainebleau there had been public and armed gatherings in an infinite

number of places, where previously there had been only secret meetings.

In Périgord, Agenois, and Limousin, an infinite number of scandalous

acts were daily committed by the seditious, who in most places lived

after the fashion of Geneva. Such canaille must be "wiped out."1

A month later those pestilent "books from Geneva" turn up again. Count

de Villars, acting for Constable Montmorency in his province of

Languedoc, had burned two mule-loads of very handsomely bound volumes,

much to the regret of many of the Catholic troopers, who grudged the

devouring flames a sacrifice worth more than a thousand crowns.2 But

he quickly followed up the chronicle of this valiant action with a

complaint of his impotence to reduce the sectaries to submission. The

Huguenots of Nismes had taken courage, and guarded their gates. So, or

even worse, was it of Montpellier3 and Pézénas. Other cities were

about to follow their example.

1 Letter of the king, apud Négoc. sous François II., 580, 581.

2 The curious reader may task his ingenuity in deciphering the somewhat remarkable spelling
in which the count quaintly relates the occurrence in question: "Aytant o Pont-Sainct-Esperit,
je trouvis entre les mains de Rocart, capitayne de là, deux charges de mulles de livres
de Genaive, fort bien reliez: toutefoys cela ne les en carda que je ne les fice toux brûler,
comensent le prumier à les maytre o fu; de coe je fu bien suivi de monsieur de Joyeuse, vous asseurent qu' ill i en avoet beocoup de la copagnie qu'il les playnoet fort, les estiment plus
de mille aycus: pour sayte foys-là je ne les voullus croere." Letter of

Villars to the constable, Oct. 12, 1560, apud Négoc. sous François II., p. 655.

3 On Sunday, the 28th of July, a gathering composed almost

entirely of women was discovered. Nothing daunted, 1,200 persons met the

next night, with torches and open doors, in the large school-rooms,

where their pastor, Maupeau, preached an appropriate sermon from Rev.

vi. 9, on "the souls of them that were slain for the word of God." Soon

the same place was resorted to by day. Summoned before the magistrates,

judge, and consuls, the Huguenots declared their loyalty, but said that

they had no idea that the king wanted to dictate to the conscience,

which belongs to God. Presently the church of St. Michael was seized.

Then the Cardinal of Lorraine (Oct. 14th) wrote to the bishop, telling

him to call upon M. de Villars for aid in suppressing assemblies and the

preaching. Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 207-210.

Fifteen cities in one province receive ministers.
The children learn religion in the Geneva catechism.

These were but the beginnings of evil. Three days passed, and the

Lieutenant-Governor of Languedoc sent a special messenger to the king,

to inform him of the rapid progress of the contagion. Fifteen of the

most considerable cities of the province had openly received

ministers.1 Ten thousand foot and five hundred horse would be needed

to reduce them, and, when taken, they must be held by garrisons, and

punished by loss of their municipal privileges.2 A fortnight more

elapsed. Three or four thousand inhabitants of Nismes had retired in

arms to the neighboring Cevennes.3 When they descended into the

plain, a larger number, who had submitted on the approach of the

soldiery, would unite with them and form a considerable army. "Heresy,

alas, gains ground daily," despondingly writes Villars; "the children

learn religion only in the catechism brought from Geneva; all know it by

heart." The cause of the evil he seemed to find in the

circumstance--undoubtedly favorable to the Huguenots--that, of

twenty-two bishops whose dioceses lay in Languedoc, all but five or six

were non-residents.4

To all which lamentations the answer came back after the

1 They are Nismes, Montpellier, Montagnac, Annonay,

Castres, Marsillargues, Aigues Mortes, Pézénas, Gignac, Sommières, St.

Jean de Gardonnenches, Anduze, Vauvers (Viviers?), Uzès, and Privas.

2 Sommaire des instructions données à Pignan envoyé au roy

par Honorat de Savoye, Cte. de Villars, Oct. 15, 1560, apud Négoc.

sous François II., 659-661.

3 On hearing of the seizure of Aigues Mortes by treachery.

Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 211.

4 Letters of De Villars to the Guises, Oct. 27 and 29,

1560. Nég. sous François II., 671.

accustomed fashion: "Slay, hang without respect to the forms of law;
send lesser culprits, if preferable, to the galleys."1

In Normandy, too, it began to be impossible for the Huguenots to conceal

themselves. At Rouen, in spite of the severe penalties threatened, seven

thousand persons gathered in the new market-place, on the twenty-sixth

of August, "singing psalms, and with their preacher in the midst on a

chair preaching to them," while five hundred men with arquebuses stood

around the crowd "to guard them from the Papists." A few days before, at

the opening of the great fair of Jumièges, a friar, according to custom,

undertook to deliver a sermon; but the people, not liking his doctrine,

"pulled him out of the pulpit and placed another in his place."2

Elections for the States General.

Nor was the courage of the Huguenots less clearly manifested a little

later in the elections preparatory to the holding of the States General.

In spite of strict injunctions issued by the Cardinal of Lorraine to the

officers in each bailiwick and sénéchaussée, to prevent the debate of

grievances from touching upon the authority of the Guises or that of the

Church, and especially to defeat the election of any but undoubted

friends of the Roman Church, his friends were successful in neither

attempt. The voice of the oppressed people made itself heard in

thunder-tones at Blois, at Angers,3 and elsewhere. Even in

Paris--the stronghold of the Roman faith--the reformed ventured, in face

of a vast numerical majority against them, to urge in the Hôtel-de-Ville

the insertion of their remonstrances in the "cahiers" of the city. Of

thirteen provinces, ten addressed such complaints to the States

Clerical demands at Poitiers.

But the clerical order did not forget its old demands, even where the

Tiers État leaned to toleration. The provincial

1 Letter of the king to the Cte. de Villars, November 9, 1560. Ib., p. 673.

2 H. Barnsleye to Cecil, August 28, 1560, State Paper Office.

3 I know of no more scathing exposure of the morals of the

clergy than that given by François Grimaudet, the representative of the

Tiers État of Anjou, and inserted verbatim in La Planche, 389-396. It

was honored by being made the object of a special censure of the


4 La Planche, 387-397; Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 199.

estates of Poitou, meeting in the Dominican convent of Poitiers, presented

a contrast of this kind. The delegates of the people, after listening to the
eloquent appeal of an intrepid Huguenot pastor, determined to petition the
States General for the free exercise of the reformed religion. The

representatives of the church made its complaints regarding the

"ravishing wolves, false preachers, and their adherents, who are to-day

in so great numbers that there are not so many true sheep knowing the

voice of their shepherds." The "mild and holy admonitions" of the church

having been thrown away upon these reprobates, the clergy proposed to

open a register of all that should neglect to receive the sacrament at

Easter, and to attend the church services with regularity. And it made

the modest demand that all persons honored with an entry in this book

should, as heretics, be deprived of all right to make contracts, that

their wills be declared hull and void, and that all their property--in

particular all houses in which preaching had been held--be confiscated.

Of course, the aid of the secular arm was invoked, in view of "the great

number and power of the said heretics."1

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