History of the rise of the huguenots

Arrogant speech of Quintin for the clergy

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Arrogant speech of Quintin for the clergy.

Presumption in favor of the Catholic Church.

But it was the clerical delegate, Jean Quintin, that attracted most

attention. Standing between the other two orators, he delivered a speech

of great length and insufferable arrogance. He admitted that the clergy

might need reformation; but the Church with its hierarchy must not be

touched--that was the body of Christ. Charles must defend the Church

against heresy--against that Gospel falsely and maliciously so called,

which consisted in profaning churches, in breaking the sacred images, in

the marriage of priests and nuns. He must not suffer the Reformation to

affect the articles of faith, the sacraments, traditions, ordinances, or

ceremonial. Should any one venture to resuscitate heresies long dead and

buried, he begged the king to declare him a champion of heresy and to

proceed against him. He insisted on the presumption in favor of the

Catholic Church, and demanded the unconditional submission of its

opponents. "They must believe us, without waiting for a council; not we

them." He was warm in his praise of the Emperors Theodosius II. and

Valentinian III., who confiscated the goods of heretics, banished them,

and deprived them of the right of conveying or receiving property by

will. He raised his voice particularly

1 La Place, Commentaries, 89-93; De Thou, iii. (liv.

xxvii.) 8-10, Hist. ecclés., i. 277-279.

2 La Place, Commentaires, 89; De Thou, iii. (liv. xxvii.)

8-10; Hist. ecclés., i. 277, 279. None of these authors give more than a

very imperfect sketch of L'Ange's harangue. Beza, in the letter more

than once referred to above, says: "Nobilitatem ferunt valde fortiter et

libere locutam, sed plebs imprimis graviter et copiose disseruit de

rerum omnium perturbatione, de intolerabili quorundam potentia, etc....

adeo ut omnes audientes valde permoverit." Baum, Theod. Beza, ii., App.,

20, 21.

in behalf of Burgundy and of his own diocese of Autun, whose inhabitants
"were well-nigh drowned by the much too frequent inundations of pestilent
books from the infected lagoons of Geneva."1
Temporal interests. Sad straits of the clergy.

A word for the down-trodden people.

In the midst of this tirade against the inroads of Calvinism, the

prudent doctor of canon law did not, however, altogether lose sight of

the temporal concerns of the priesthood. He proffered an urgent request

for the restoration of canonical elections, laying the growth of heresy

altogether to the account of the abrogation of the Pragmatic Sanction by

the Concordat in 1517. The sanction being re-established, "the

detestable and damnable sects, the execrable and accursed heresies of

to-day" would incontinently flee from the church. If he painted the

portrait of the prelate elected by the suffrages of his diocese in

somewhat too nattering colors, he certainly gave a vivid picture of the

sad straits to which the clergy were reduced by the imposition of the

repeated tithes on their revenues, now become customary. Masses were

unsaid, churches had been stripped of their ornaments. Missals and

chalices even had, in some places, been sold at auction to meet the

exorbitant demands of royal officers. It was to be feared that, if

Christian kings continued to lay sacerdotal possessions under

contribution, the Queen of the South would rise up in judgment with this

generation, and would condemn it. Lest, however, this commination should

not prove terrible enough, the examples of Belshazzar and others were

judiciously subjoined. On the other hand, Charles was urged to acquire a

glory superior to that of Charlemagne, and to earn the surname of

Clerophilus, or Maximus, by freeing the clergy of its burdens. By a

very remarkable condescension, after this lofty flight of eloquence, the

clerical advocate deigned to utter a short sentence or two in the

interest of the "noblesse," and even of the poor, down-trodden

people--begging the king to lighten the burdens

1 "Quasi noyés de telles trop fréquentes inondations des

infectées lagunes de Genève." The mention of the heretical capital

requires an apology on the part of our pious orator, and he adds in

Latin, after the fashion of other parts of his mongrel address:

"Desplicet aures vestras et os meum fœdasse vocabulo tam probroso,

sed ex ecclesiarum præscripto cogor." La Place, 101.

which that so good, so obedient people had long borne patiently, and not
to suffer this third foot of the throne to be crushed or broken.1 When
the crown had returned to this course of just action, the Church would pray
very devoutly in its behalf, the nobility fight valiantly, the people obey

humbly. It would be paradise begun on earth.2

The clergy alone makes no progress.

Thus spoke the chosen delegates of the three orders when summoned into

the royal presence for the first time after the lapse of seventy-seven

years. The nobility and clergy vied with each other in extolling their

own order; the people made little pretension, but had a large budget of

grievances demanding redress. Nearly forty years had the Reformation

been gaining ground surely and steadily. It had found, at last,

recognition more or less explicit in the noblesse and the "tiers état."

But the clergy had made no progress, had learned nothing. The speech of

Quintin, their chosen representative, on this critical occasion, was long

and tiresome; but, instead of convincing, it only excited shame and disgust.3

Indeed, an allusion of his to the favorers of heresy daring to present

petitions in behalf of the Huguenots, who demanded places in which to

worship God, was taken by Admiral Coligny as a personal insult to

himself, for which Quintin was compelled to make a public apology.4
Coligny presents a Huguenot petition.

The incredible supineness of Antoine of Navarre prevented the

States from demanding with much decision that the regency

1 "Encores, Sire, vous supplierons-nous très-humblement

pour ce tant bon et tant obéissant peuple françois, duquel Dieu (vostre

père et le leur aussi) vous a faict seigneur et roy; prenez en pitié,

sire, et soublevez un peu les charges que dès long temps ils portent

patiemment. Pour Dieu, sire, ne permettez que ce tiers pied de vostre

throne soit aucunement foulé, meurtry ny brisé." La Place, 108.

2 Quintin's speech is given in full by La Place, 93-109; Hist. ecclés., i. 270-274; De Thou,
iii., liv. xxvii., 11, etc. Letter of Beza to Bullinger, ubi supra.

3 "Son discours, qu'il lut presque tout entier, fut long et

ennuyeux.... rempli de lonanges fades, et de flatteries outrées, fit

rougir, et ennuya les assistans." De Thou, iii. 11, 12. Quintin's

address drew forth from the Protestants a written reply, directed to the

queen, exposing his "ignorance, calumnies, and malicious omissions." It

is inserted in Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 275-277.

4 La Place, 109, 112; De Thou, iii. 12, 14; Hist. eccl., i. 280.

should be entrusted in the hands of him to whom it belonged of right. For how

could enthusiasm be manifested in a matter regarding which the person chiefly

interested showed such utter indifference? But the religious demands of

the Huguenots were made distinctly known. As expressed in a petition

presented in their name to the queen mother by the Admiral's hands,

these demands were comprehended under three heads: the convocation of a

free universal council, which should decide definitely respecting the

religious questions in dispute; the immediate liberation of all

prisoners whose only crime was of a religious character--even if

disguised under the false accusation of sedition; and liberty of

assembling for the purpose of listening to the preaching of God's word,

and for the administration of the sacraments, under such conditions as

the royal council might deem necessary for the prevention of

disorder.1 So gracious was Catharine's answer, so brilliant were the

signs of promise, that there were those who hoped soon to behold in

France a king "very Christian" in fact no less than in name.2
The estates prorogued. Meanwhile prosecutions for religion to cease.

It was, however, no easy matter to grant these reasonable requests. The

Roman Catholic party resisted, with all the energy of desperation, the concession of any places for worship according to the reformed faith. Catharine was loth to
take the decided step of disregarding their remonstrances. It seemed more
convenient to avail herself of the representations of the majority of the delegates
of the "tiers état," who regarded it as necessary to apply for new powers from their

constituents, in consequence of the death of the monarch who had summoned them. The estates were accordingly prorogued to meet again at Pontoise on the first of May.3 The

1 Beza, Letter to Bullinger, Geneva, Jan. 22, 1561; Baum,
Th. Beza, ii., App., 21, 22; Calvin to Ministers of Paris, Lettres franç., ii. 348.
2 "Hanc supplicationem, scribitur ad nos, Regina ex

Amyraldi manu acceptam promisisse se Concilio exhibituram, et magna

omnium spes est nobis omnia hæc concessum iri, modo privatis locis et

sine tumultu pauci simul conveniant.... Ita brevi futurum spero ut

Gallia tandem Regem et nomine et re christianissimum habeat." Beza, ubi supra.

3 Catharine's fears that the States would enter upon the discussion of matters affecting
her regency undoubtedly had much to do with this action (Hist. ecclés. des églises
réf., i. 280: "qu'on craignoit vouloir passer plus outre en d'autres affaires qu'on ne

vouloit remuer"). Ostensibly in order to avoid confusion and expense,

each of the thirteen principal provinces was to depute only two

delegates to Pontoise.

matter of the "temples" was adjourned until that time. Meanwhile, in order
to conciliate the Huguenots, orders were issued that all prosecutions for
religious offences should surcease, and that the prisoners should at once be liberated, with the injunction to live in a Catholic fashion for the future.1 This concession, poor as it was, met with opposition on the part of the Parisian parliament, and was only registered--after more than a month's refusal--because of the king's express desire.2 But it was far from satisfying the Protestants; for, in answer to their very first demand, they were referred to the Council of Trent, which the pontiff had recently ordered to reassemble at the coming Easter. Such a convocation--neither convened in a place of safe access, nor consisting
of the proper persons to represent Christendom, nor under free conditions3
--could not be recognized by the Huguenots of France as a competent tribunal to
act in the final adjudication of their cause. They must refuse to appear either at
Trent or at the assembly of French prelates, to be held as a preliminary to their proceeding to the universal council, in accordance with the resolutions of the notables at Fontainebleau.4

Return of the fugitives.

Yet, as contrasted with the earlier legislation, the provisional

1 Letter of Charles IX., Jan. 28, 1561, Mémoires de Condé, ii. 268.

2 March 1st, "puysque la volunté du Roy est," Mém. de

Condé, ii. 273. When the secretary of state, Bourdin, brought to

parliament the mandates of Charles and Catharine from Fontainebleau, of

Feb. 13th and 14th, ordering its registry, he stated that Charles had

granted this document "at the urgent prayer of the three estates, and in

order to obviate and provide against troubles and divisions, while

waiting for the decision of the General Council granted by the Pope." On

the 22d of February a new missive of the king was received in

parliament, enjoining the publication of the letter of January 28th,

with the modification that any of the liberated prisoners that would not

consent to live in a Catholic fashion must leave the kingdom under pain

of the halter. Mém. de Condé, ii. 271, 272.

3 Calvin, Mémoire aux églises réf. de France, Dec., 1560,

Lettres franç. (Bonnet), ii. 350.

4 Letter of Calvin to brethren of Paris, Feb. 26, 1561,

ap. Baum, ii., App., 26; Bonnet, Lettres fr. de Calvin, ii. 378, etc.

dispositions of the royal letter were highly encouraging. They permitted

a large number of persons incarcerated for religion's sake to issue from

prison. The exiles, it was said, returned tenfold as numerous as they

left the country. Great was the indignation of their adversaries when

all these, with numbers recruited from the ranks of the reformers in

England, Flanders, Switzerland, and even from Lucca, Florence and

Venice, began to preach with the utmost boldness. They might be accused

of gross ignorance, and of uttering a thousand stupid remarks, but one

thing could not be denied--every preacher had a crowd to hear him.1
Charles writes to stop ministers from Geneva. Reply of the Genevese.

No such toleration, however, as that now proclaimed was necessary to

induce the ministers of the reformed doctrines, who had qualified

themselves for their apostolic labors under the teaching of Calvin and

Beza, to enter France. The gibbet and the fearful "estrapade" had not

deterred them. The prelates, therefore, induced the queen mother to

attempt by other means to stem the flood of preachers that poured in

from Geneva. On the twenty-third of January, seven or eight days before

the adjournment of the States General, a letter was despatched in the

name of Charles IX. to the syndics and councils of the city of Geneva.

Its tone was earnest and decided. It had appeared--so the king was made

to say--from a very careful examination into the sources of the existing

divisions, that they were caused by the seditious teachings of preachers

mostly sent by the Genevese authorities,

1 "E benchè la più parte fossero ignoranti, e predicasse

mille pazzie, però ogn'uno aveva il suo séguito." Michel Suriano,

Commentarii del regno di Francia, Relations des Amb. Vén. (Tommaseo), i.

532. M. Tommaseo supposes this relation to belong to 1561, and mentions

the somewhat remarkable opinion of others that it was somewhere between

1564 and 1568. The document itself gives the most decided indications

that it was written in the early part of 1562, before the outbreak of

the first civil war--indeed, before the return of the Guises to court.

After stating that Charles IX. when he ascended the throne was ten

years old (page 542), the author says that he is now eleven and a

half. The proximate date would, therefore, seem to be January or

February, 1562. Throkmorton wrote to the queen, Paris, Nov. 14, 1561,

that "the Venetians had sent Marc Antonio Barbaro to reside there, in

the place of Sig. Michaeli Soriano." State Paper Office MSS.

or by their principal ministers, as well as by an infinite number of defamatory
pamphlets, which these preachers had disseminated far and wide throughout
the kingdom. To them were directly traceable the recent commotions. He

therefore called on the magistracy to recall these sowers of discord,

and threatened in no doubtful terms to take vengeance on the city should

the same course be continued after the receipt of the present

warning.1 Never was accusation more unjust, never was unjust

accusation answered more promptly and with truer dignity. On the very

day of the receipt of the king's letter (the twenty-eighth of January)

the magistrates deliberated with the ministers, and despatched, by the

messenger who had brought it, a respectful reply written by Calvin

himself. So far, they said, from countenancing any attempts to disturb

the quiet of the French monarchy, it would be found that they had passed

stringent regulations to prevent the departure of any that might intend

to create seditious uprisings. They had themselves sent no preachers

into France, nor had their ministers done more than fulfil a clear

dictate of piety, in recommending, from time to time, such as they found

competent, to labor, wherever they might find it practicable, for the

spread of the Gospel, "seeing that it is the sovereign duty of all kings

and princes to do homage to Him who has given them rule." As for

themselves, they had condemned a resort to arms, and had never

counselled the seizure of churches, or other unauthorized acts.2

1 Gaberel, Histoire de l'église de Genève, i., pièces

just., p. 201-203, from the Archives of Geneva; Soulier, Histoire des

édits de pacification (Paris, 1682), 22-25.

2 Gaberel, Hist. de l'église de Genève, i. (pièces

justif.), 203-206. He gives the deliberation of the council, as well as

the reply. Lettres franç. de Calvin, ii. 373-378. It needs scarcely to

be noticed that the "Sieur Soulier, prêtre," while he parades the royal

letter as a convincing proof of the seditious character of the Huguenot

ministers, does not deign even to allude to the satisfactory reply. No

wonder; so apposite a refutation would have been sadly out of place in a

book written expressly to justify the successive steps of the violation

of the solemn compacts between the French crown and the Protestants--to

prepare the way, in fact, for the formal revocation of the edict of

Nantes (three years later) toward which the priests were fast hurrying

Louis XIV.

Condé cleared and reconciled to Guise.

At no time since the death of the late king had the reversal of the

sentence against Condé been doubtful. The time had now arrived for his

complete restoration to favor. The first step was taken in the privy

council, where, on the thirteenth of March, the chancellor declared that

he knew of no informations made against him. Whereupon the prince was

proclaimed, by the unanimous voice of the council, sufficiently cleared

of all the charges raised by his enemies. The Bourbon, who had refused,

until his honor should be fully satisfied, to enjoy the liberty which he

might easily have obtained, had been invited by Charles to the court,

which was sojourning at Fontainebleau, and now resumed his seat in the

council.1 Just three months later (on Friday, the thirteenth of

June) the Parliament of Paris, after a prolonged examination, in which

all the forms of law were observed with punctilious exactness, gave its

solemn attestation of the innocence of Louis of Condé, of Madame de

Roye, his mother-in-law, and of the others who had so narrowly escaped

being plunged with him in a common destruction.2 Such declarations

might be supposed to savor indifferently well of hypocrisy. They were,

however, outdone in the final scene of this pompous farce, enacted about

two months later in one of the halls of the castle of St. Germain. On

the twenty-fourth of August a stately assembly gathered in the king's

presence. Catharine, the princes of the blood, five cardinals, and a

goodly number of dukes and counts, were present; for Louis of

Bourbon-Vendôme, Prince of Condé, and Francis of Guise were to be

publicly reconciled to each other. Charles first announced the object

for which he had summoned this assemblage, and called upon the Duke of

Guise to express his sentiments. "Sir," said the latter, addressing

Condé, "I neither have, nor would I desire

1 La Place, Commentaires, 120; Sommaire récit de la

calomnieuse accusation de Monsieur le prince de Condé, avec l'arrest de

la cour contenant la déclaration de son innocence, in the Mém. de Condé,

ii. 383; De Thou, iii. 38.

2 The arrêt of parliament of June 13th is given in

Histoire ecclés., i. 291-293; Sommaire récit de la calomnieuse

accusation de Monsieur le prince de Condé, iii. 391-394. See also La

Place, 128-130; De Thou, iii. 50, 51; Journal de Bruslart, Mém. de

Condé, i. 39, 40.

to have, advanced anything against your honor; nor have I been the author

or the instigator of yourimprisonment!" To which Condé replied: "Sir,

I hold to be bad and miserable him or those who have been its causes." Nothing

abashed, Guise made the rejoinder: "I believe that it is so; that concerns me
in no respect." After this gratifying exhibition of convenient memory, if not

of Christian forgiveness, the prince and duke, at the king's request,

embraced each other; and the auditory, highly edified, broke up.1

It was fitting that this hollow reconciliation should take place on the

very day upon which, eleven years later, a more treacherous compact was

to bear fruit fatal to thousands.

Humiliation of Navarre. The boldness of the Particular Estates of Paris,

secures Antoine more consideration.

It has been necessary to anticipate the events of subsequent months, in

order to give the sequel of the singular procedure. We must now return

to the spring of this eventful year. It was not long after the

adjournment of the States General before the King of Navarre began to

perceive some results of his humiliating agreement with Catharine de'

Medici. The Guises were received by her with greater demonstrations of

favor than were the princes of the blood. The keys of the castle were

even intrusted to the custody of Francis, on the pretext that he was

entitled to this privilege as grand master of the palace. In vain did

Antoine remonstrate against this insulting preference, and threaten to

leave the court if his rival remained. Catharine found means to detain

Constable Montmorency, who had intended to leave court in company with

Navarre, and the latter was compelled to suppress his disgust. But the

deliberations of the Particular Estates of Paris, held soon after, had

more weight in securing for Navarre a portion of the consideration to

which he was entitled. Disregarding

1 Strange to say, the editor of the Mémoires de Condé in

the Collection Michaud-Poujoulat expresses his disbelief of this

occurrence; but not only are the historians explicit, but an official

statement was drawn up and signed by the secretaries of state, under

Charles's orders. This notarial document is inserted in La Place, 139,

140, and in the Histoire ecclésiastique, i. 296, 297; De Thou, iii. 56,

gives the wrong date, Aug. 28th. Beza had from the lips of Condé, that

very afternoon, an account, which he transmitted the next day to Calvin.

Letter of Aug. 25th, apud Baum, iii., App., 47.

the prohibition to touch upon political matters, they boldly discussed the necessity

of an account of the vast sums of money that had passed through the hands of the
Guises, and of the restitution of the inordinate gifts which the cardinal and

his brother, Diana of Poitiers, the Marshal of St. André, and even the

constable, had obtained from the weakness of preceding monarchs. This

boldness disturbed Catharine. She employed the constable to mediate for

her with Antoine; and soon a new compact was framed, securing to the

latter more explicit recognition as lieutenant-general, and a more

positive influence in the affairs of state.1

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