History of the rise of the huguenots

Louis XI. consents to its abrogation

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Louis XI. consents to its abrogation.

In Louis the Eleventh the papal court seemed to have found a more

promising prince to deal with. Animated by hatred of his father, and

disposed to oppose whatever had met his father's approval, Louis had,

while yet dauphin, given the Pope's agents flattering assurances of his

good intentions.1 On ascending the throne, he permitted his father's

memory to be treated with disrespect, by suffering a nuncio to pronounce

absolution over the corpse for the heinous sin of originating the

Pragmatic Sanction. Later, on receiving the assurance of the Pope's

support for the house of Anjou in Naples, he consented to repeal the

hateful ordinance. A royal declaration for this purpose was published in

1461, contrary to the advice of the king's council.2 It met with

universal reprobation. The Parliament of Toulouse would register the

document only with an accompanying note stating that this had been done

"by the most express command of the king." The Parliament of Paris

absolutely declined to admit it in its records, and sent a deputation to

Louis to set forth the pernicious results that were to be expected from

the overthrow of his father's wise

1 "Commemoravit (i. e., the papal legate) ea quæ per ipsum

tibi nostro nomine pollicenda, vovenda et promittenda, nos, antequam

regnum suscepisemus, religionis instinctus quidam deduxerat." Letter of

Louis XI. to the Pope, Tours, Nov. 27, 1461.

2 Louis XI.'s letter to the Pope, annulling the Pragmatic

Sanction, is in the Ordonnances des roys de Fr. de la troisième race,

xv., 193-194. Its tone could not have been more submissive had it been

penned for him by the Pope himself. The Pragmatic Sanction is referred

to contemptuously as "constitutio quædam in regno nostro quam

Pragmaticam vocant." Louis professes to be moved by the consideration

that obedience is better than all sacrifice, and that the Pragmatic

Sanction is hateful to the Papal See, "utpote quæ in seditione et

schismatis tempore ... nata est; et quæ, dum tibi, a quo sacræ leges

oriuntur et manant, quantamlibet eripit auctoritatem, omne jus et

omnem legem dissolvit." It was "as if the rod should shake itself

against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself,

as if it were no wood." Nothing could surpass Louis's obsequiousness:

"Sicut mandasti ... pellimus dejicimus stirpitusque abrogamus," etc.

He pledges his royal word to overcome opposition: "Quod si forte

obnitentur aliqui aut reclamabunt, nos in verbo regio pollicemur tuæ

Beatitudini atque promittimus exsequi facere tua mandata, omni

appellationis aut oppositionis obstaculo prorsus excluso," etc. Louis

was never more to be distrusted than when he bound himself by the most

stringent promises.

regulations.1 The University made bold to appeal to a general council of the Church.
But subsequently reenacts it.

Meanwhile it happened that Louis made the unwelcome discovery that his

Italian friends had deceived him, and that the prospect was very remote

of obtaining the advantages by which he had been allured. It was not

very difficult, therefore, to persuade him to renounce his project. Not

content with this, three years after his formal revocation of the entire

Pragmatic Sanction, he even re-enacted some of the clauses of the

document respecting "expectatives" and "provisions."

Parliament protests against the repeal.

But a few years later, in 1467, Louis again conceived it to be for his

interest to abrogate the Pragmatic Sanction. At the suggestion of

Cardinal Balue, the recent enactment against "expectatives" was

repealed. The Parliament of Paris, however, refused to record the

letters patent. Among other powerful arguments adduced was the fact that

a recent investigation had proved that, in the three years of the

pontificate of Pius the Second during which the Pragmatic Sanction had

been virtually set aside (1461-1464), Rome drew from the kingdom not

less than 240,000 crowns in payment of bulls for archbishoprics,

bishoprics, and abbeys falling vacant within this term; 100,000 for

priories and deaneries; and the enormous sum of 2,500,000 crowns for

"expectatives" and "dispensations."2 This startling financial exhibit

was accompanied by statements of the indirect injury received by the

community from the great number of candidates thrown on the tender

mercies of relations and friends, whom they thus beggared while awaiting

a long deferred preferment.3 Even when successful, "they received

only lead for gold." Frequently, when they were about to clutch the coveted

1 See the Remonstrances of Parliament, Ordonnances, etc., xv. 195-207.

2 The calculations on which these figures are based can be

seen in sections 73-76 of the Remonstrances above referred to. Ibid.,

xv. 195-207.

3 "Les autres ambitieux de benefices, si espuisoient les

bourses de leurs parens et amis, tellement qu'ils demeuroient en grand'

mendicité et misere, ou'aucunesfois estoient cause de l'abreviation de

leurs jours; et tout le fruit qu'ils emportoient, c'estoit pour or du

plomb." Ibid., section 64.

prize, a rival stepped in armed with documents annulling those

previously given. Cases had, indeed, been known in which ten or twelve

contestants presented themselves, all basing their claims upon the

pontifical warrant.1
Fall of Cardinal Balue.

Cardinal Balue was not slow in finding means to remove from office the

intrepid Procureur-général, who had been prominent in urging

parliament to resist the measure of repeal. But Saint-Romain's bold

stand had confirmed both parliament and university, and neither body

would acquiesce in the papal demands. Louis, however, was reconciled to

a second abandonment of the scheme by the opportune discovery of the

cardinal's treachery. The unhappy prelate met with deserved retribution,

for his purple did not save him from enduring his own favorite mode of

punishment, and being shut up in a great iron cage. The new Perillus was

thus enabled--to the intense satisfaction of many whom he had

wronged--to test in his own person the merits of a contrivance which he

was reputed himself to have invented.2

A concordat subsequently agreed upon by Louis and the Pope fared no

better than the previous compacts. Parliament and university were

resolute, and the king, having no further advantage to gain by keeping

his word, was as careless in its fulfilment as was his wont. The

Pragmatic Sanction was still observed as the law of the land. The

highest civil courts, ignoring the alleged repeal, conformed their

decisions to its letter and spirit, while the theologians of the

Sorbonne taught it as the foundation of the ecclesiastical constitution

of France. Yet, public confidence in its validity having been shaken, it

was desirable to set all doubts at rest by a formal re-enactment. This

was proposed by the Dean of St. Martin of Tours, in the

1 Ibid., ubi supra.

2 Historians have represented Cardinal Balue as enclosed in

the very cage he had used for the victims of his own cruelty. This

appears to be incorrect. There is an entry in the accounts of Louis XI.,

under date of February 11, 1469, of the payment of sixty livres Tournois

to Squire Guion de Broc, to be used by him "in having constructed, at

the castle Douzain, an iron cage, which the said lord (i. e., Louis)

has ordered to be made for the security and guard of the person of the

Cardinal of Angers (Balue)." Vatout, Château d'Amboise, 64, 65, note.

States General held during the minority of Charles the Eighth; but, notwithstanding the well-known opinion of all the orders, this reign
passed without the adoption of any decided action.
Action of Louis XII. His motto.

It was reserved for Louis the Twelfth to take the desired step. In 1499

he published the Pragmatic Sanction anew, and ordered the exclusion from

office of all that had obtained benefices from Rome. In vain did the

Pope rave. In vain did he summon all upholders of the ordinance to

appear before the Fifth Lateran Council. The sturdy prince--the "Father

of his people"--who had chosen for his motto the device, "Perdam

Babylonis nomen," made little account of the menaces of Julius the

Second, whom death overtook, it is said, while about to fulminate a bull

transferring the title of "Very Christian King" from Louis the Twelfth

of France to Henry the Eighth of England.[62]
Concordat of Leo X. and Francis I.

Thirsting for military distinction, Francis the First had no sooner

obtained the throne than he entered upon the career of arms in northern

Italy, and the signal victory of Marignano, won less than ten months

after his accession (September 13, 1515), closed his first campaign.

This success was productive of more lasting results than merely the

temporary possession of the Milanese. It led to a reconciliation with

the Pope, and to a stately interview in the city of Bologna. All that

was magnificent and captivating to the senses had been studied to dazzle

the eyes of a young and imaginative prince; for Leo the Tenth, patron of

the arts and of artists, was an adept in scenic effects. Certainly never

did pomp and ceremony more easily effect the object for which they were

employed. The interview of Bologna paved the way for a concordat, in

which the rights of the Gallican Church were sacrificed, and the spoils

divided between king and pontiff.[63] Three cardinals took part in the

elaboration of the details of the instrument--two on the pontifical, the

third on the royal side. The last was the notorious Cardinal Duprat,

elevated by Francis to the office of chancellor--a minister of religion who

1 Fleury, ubi supra, 340.

2 See Capefigue's animated description of the scene in the

cathedral of Bologna, ubi supra, i. 229.

was soon to introduce venality into every department of government.

The source of the concordat determined tolerably well its character.

Appreciating the strength of the opposition its pretensions had always

encountered in France, the papal court had resolved to renounce a

portion of its claims in favor of the king, in order to retain the rest

more securely. Under the pretext that the right of election vested in

the chapters had been abused, partly by the choice of illiterate and

improper men, partly through the practice of simony, the selection of

archbishops and bishops was taken from them and confided to the king. He

was empowered to choose a doctor or licentiate of theology or law, not

less than twenty-seven years of age, within six months after the see

became vacant. The name of the candidate was to be submitted to the Pope

for approval, and, if this first nomination was rejected, a second was

to be made by the king. Similar regulations were made respecting abbeys

and monastic institutions in general, a few exceptions being allowed in

favor of those patrons and bodies to whom special privileges had been

accorded. The issue of "expectatives" was prohibited; but, as no mention

was made of the "annats," it followed, of course, that this rich source

of gain to the papal treasury was to lie open, in spite of the

provisions of the Pragmatic Sanction to the contrary.1

Such were some of the leading features of the concordat between Leo the

Tenth and Francis the First--a document introducing changes so violent

as to amount almost to a complete revolution in the ecclesiastical

constitution of the land.

Dissatisfaction of the French.

After receiving the unqualified approval of the Lateran Council, in a

session at which few prelates were present from outside of Italy, the

concordat, engrossed on white damask, and accompanied by a revocation of

the Pragmatic Sanction on cloth of gold, was forwarded to Francis, who

had now returned to his kingdom. The latter, not ignorant of the

discontent already engendered by the mere rumor of the transaction, first

1 The text of the concordat is given in the Recueil gén. des

anc. lois, etc., xii. 75-97.

submitted the concordat alone to a mixed assembly composed of

prelates and canons, of presidents and counsellors of parliament,

doctors of the university, and other prominent personages. But the

king's caution failed of accomplishing what had been intended. The

general dissatisfaction found expression in the speech of Cardinal

Boissy, demanding that the clergy be consulted by itself on a matter so

vitally affecting its interests, and suggesting the necessity of a

national council for that purpose. Francis angrily retorted that the

clergy must obey, or he would send its bishops to Rome to discuss with

the Pope.

Struggle with the parliaments.

Failing in the attempt to forestall the expression of disapprobation of

the judiciary by securing the favorable verdict of a picked assembly of

influential persons, the king, nevertheless, proceeded to carry into

execution that clause of the concordat which enjoined ratification by

the parliaments. Letters patent were first dispatched commanding all

judges to conform to its provisions, and these were followed shortly by

copies of the instrument itself and of the revocation of the Pragmatic

Sanction, for registry. At this point properly began one of the most

notable contests between the crown and parliaments of France. The

Parliament of Paris, taking the ground that so fundamental a change in

the national customs demanded mature consideration, deferred action.

With the view of exercising a pressure on its deliberations, Francis now

commissioned his uncle, the Bastard of Savoy, to be present at the

sessions. Against this unprecedented breach of privilege parliament sent

a deputation humbly to remonstrate; but all to no purpose. The irritated

prince, who entertained the most extravagant views of the royal

prerogative, declared his intention to satisfy himself concerning the

real disposition of his judges, and assured the deputies that he had

firmly resolved to despatch the disobedient to the inferior parliaments

of Bordeaux and Toulouse, and fill their places with "men of worth." "I

am your king," was his constant exclamation, and this passed with him

for an unanswerable argument in support of his views. But the members of

parliament were not easily moved. Undoubtedly the success attending their

previous resistance to the repeal of the Pragmatic Sanction, on

at least three occasions in the reign of Louis the Eleventh, emboldened

them in the present instance. Unawed by the presence of the Bastard of

Savoy, they refused to concede the registration of the concordat, and

declared that they must continue to observe the Pragmatic Sanction,

endorsed, as that ordinance had been, by the representatives of the

entire nation. Not only did they protest against suffering the Sanction

to be annulled, but they insisted upon the convocation of the clergy in

a body similar to that assembled by Charles the Seventh, as an

indispensable preliminary to the investigation of the matter.

Haughty demeanor of the king.

Francis, who happened to be at his castle of Amboise, on the Loire, now

sent word that parliament should appoint a deputation to convey to him

the reasons of its refusal. But when the delegates reached the

castle-gate, an entire month elapsed before Francis would condescend to

grant them audience. They were at length admitted, only to be treated

with studied contempt. "There can be but one king in France," was the

arrogant language of the young prince to the judges who had grown gray

in the service of Charles the Eighth and the good King Louis. "You speak

as if you were not my subjects, and as if I dared not try you and

sentence you to lose your heads." And when the indignity of his words

awakened the spirited remonstrance of the deputies, Francis rejoined: "I

am king: I can dispose of my parliament at my pleasure. Begone, and

return to Paris at break of day."

A formal command was now addressed to the Parliament of Paris, and the

bearer, La Trémouille, informed that body, as it listened to the

message, that Francis had repeated to him more than ten times within a

quarter of an hour, "that he would not for half his kingdom fail of his

word to the Pope, and that if parliament rebelled, he would find means

to make it repent of its obstinacy." Under these circumstances, further

resistance from a body so completely dependent on the sovereign was not

to be thought of. Yet, even when compelled to yield, parliament, at the

suggestion of the gens du roi, coupled the registry of the concordat

with a declaration that it was made at the express

command of the king several times reiterated, that parliament disapproved of
the revocation of the Pragmatic Sanction; and that, in the adjudication of
causes, it would continue to follow the ordinance of Charles the Seventh,
while appealing to the Pope under better advisement, and to a future council

of the church. Thus the concordat, projected at Bologna in 1515, and

signed at Rome on the sixteenth of August, 1516, was registered by the

Parliament of Paris de expressissimo mandato regis, on the

twenty-second of March, 1518.1
The university remonstrates.

Even now Francis had not quite silenced all opposition. The rector of

the University of Paris, not content with entering a formal

remonstrance,2 took a bolder step. Making use of a prerogative long

since conceded to the university, of exercising a censure over the

press, he posted a notice to all printers and publishers forbidding the

reproduction of the concordat on pain of loss of their privileges. The

dean and canons of the cathedral church of Paris also handed in a

protest. The preachers of several churches rivalled the rector in

audacity, by publicly inveighing against the dangers of the

ecclesiastical innovations introduced by the king. It is not surprising

that a prince impatient even of wholesome rebuke was enraged at this

monkish tirade. Parliament was ordered to bring the culprits to justice;

but, strange to say, none could be discovered--a circumstance certainly

attributable rather to the supineness of the judges than to any lack of

witnesses. To the university Francis wrote in a haughty vein,

threatening the severe punishment of any of its doctors that dared

preach against the government; while, by an edict from

1 Leue, publiée et registrée par l'ordonnance et du

commandement du Roy, nostre sire, réiterée par plusieurs fois en

presence du seigneur de la Trimouille, etc. Recueil des anc. lois, xii.


2 Appellatio Univ. Parisiensis pro sacrarum Electionum et

juris communis defensione, adversus Concordata Bononiensia, apud

Gerdes. Hist. Ev. Renov. i. 61-69 (Documents). "Idcirco," it runs, "a

domino nostro Papa non recte consulto, et ... pragmaticæ sanctionis

statutorum abrogatione, novorum statutorum editione, ... ad futurum

concilium legitime ac in tuto loco, et ad quem libere et cum securitate

... adire poterimus ... provocavimus et appellavimus, prout in his

scriptis provocamus et appellamus."

Amboise, he forbade the rector and his associates from assembling for the discussion of political questions.

These were the closing scenes of the exciting drama. The king had

triumphed, but not without encountering a spirited opposition from

parliament, university, and clergy. If these had succumbed, it had only

been before superior strength, and each of the bodies reserved to itself

the right of treating the concordat as a nullity and the Pragmatic

Sanction as still the ecclesiastical constitution of the land.
The resistance not altogether fruitless.

Nor was this altogether an empty claim. Some of the provisions of the

concordat were never enforced, and that was a solid advantage gained

through the opposition. The parliaments persisted in rendering judgment,

in such cases as came before them, in conformity with the Pragmatic

Sanction. The Bishop of Albi, chosen by the canons, was confirmed in his

see, notwithstanding the pretensions of a nominee of the crown. And yet

the concordat was not merely maintained by the Pope and the king, but, a

few years later, its provisions were extended to monastic foundations

previously possessed of an undisputed title to elect. This was done to

gratify Francis on the marriage of his second son Henry to Catharine de'

Medici, niece of Clement, the reigning pontiff. The somewhat suspicious

story is told, that, to aid in carrying out this new act of injustice,

Cardinal Duprat, having ordered all ecclesiastical bodies to send him

the original documents attesting their right of election, at once

consigned the parchments to the fire, in order to destroy all memory of

these troublesome claims. If the tale be apocryphal, it at least

indicates sufficiently well the estimation in which the prelate's

character was held by his contemporaries.
Advantages gained by the crown.

The clergy reluctantly admitted the concordat into their books after the

lapse of two centuries, but solely, as they declared, for convenience of

reference. The restoration of the Pragmatic Sanction continued to be

demanded by one or all the orders of the States General, during the

reigns of Francis the Second, Charles the Ninth, and their successors,

not least on the ground that the day that witnessed its repeal also

beheld the introduction of the "heresy" that had since attained such

formidable proportions.[67] But, if opposed and denounced, the concordat

was carried into execution, so far as most of its provisions were

concerned, until the French revolution. The advantages gained by the

crown were too palpable to be voluntarily relinquished. Almost the

entire patronage of the church was thrown into the hands of the king,

who, in the reign of Louis the Fifteenth, held at his disposal eighteen

archbishoprics, 112 bishoprics, 1,666 abbeys for men, and 317 abbeys and

priories for women.1 It must not be forgotten that the annats, or

first-fruits of benefices, now regularly falling into the pontifical

treasury, made the concordat scarcely less valuable to the Papal


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