exhibitions of discord, from the frequent recurrence of which it was to
be feared that the country stood upon the verge of civil war. For this
reason, Catharine de' Medici yielded to the persuasions of Chancellor
L'Hospital, and, on the nineteenth of April, caused a royal letter to be
addressed to all the judges, in which the practice of self-control and
tolerance was enjoined. Insulting expressions based on differences of
religion were strictly forbidden. The very use of
1 "Car, de toutes les choses, la plus incompatible en ung
estat, ce sont deux religions contraires."
2 Journal de Bruslart, Mémoires de Condé, i. 26, etc.;
Registers of Parliament, ibid., ii. 341, etc., and apud Félibien,
Hist. de Paris, Preuves, iv. 798, Arrêt of April 28th and 29th.
According to the information that had reached Calvin, twelve had been
killed and forty wounded by Longjumeau and his friends (Calvin to
Bullinger, ubi supra). The parliamentary registers do not give the
precise number. The good curate of S. Barthélemi makes no allusion to
any attack, but sets down the loss of the Roman Catholics at three
killed and nine wounded. Journal de Jehan de la Fosse, 41. Hubert
Languet says seven were killed. Epist. secr., ii. 117.
the hateful epithets of "Papist" and "Huguenot" was proscribed. Far from
offering a reward for denunciation, the king proclaimed it criminal to violate
the sanctity of the home for the alleged purpose of ferreting out unlawful
assemblages. He again ordered the release of all imprisoned for
religion's sake, and extended an invitation to exiles to return to their
homes, if they would live in a Catholic manner, granting them
permission, if they were otherwise disposed, to sell their property and
leave the kingdom.1
Opposition of the Parliament of Paris.
It would have been not a little surprising if so tolerant an edict, even
though it did little more than repeat the provisions of the last royal
letters on the same subject (of the twenty-eighth of January), had been
accepted without opposition by the Romish party.2 Still more
strange if parliamentary jealousy had not taken umbrage at the neglect
of immemorial usage, when the letter was sent to the lower courts before
having received the honor of a formal registry at the hands of the
Parisian judges. It is difficult to say which offence was most resented.
Toleration, parliament remonstrated, was a tacit approval of a diversity
of religion--a thing unheard of from Clovis's reign down to the present
day. Kings and emperors--nay, even popes--had
1 Letters patent of Fontainebleau, April 19, 1561, Mém. De Condé, ii. 334,
335; La Place; and Hist. ecclés., ubi supra; De Thou, iii. (liv. xxviii.) 52.
2 How the devoted adherents of the Roman church received
this edict and its predecessor appears from the Mémoires of Claude
Haton. In the city of Provins, a short distance from Paris, one or two
preachers reluctantly consented to read it in the churches; but "maistre
Barrier," a Franciscan and curate of Sainte Croix, instead of the
required proclamation, made these remarks to the people at the
commencement of his sermon: "On m'a cejourd'-huy apporté ung mémoire et
papier escript, qu'on m'a dict estre la coppie d'un édict du roy, pour
vous le publier; et veult-on que je vous dye que les chatz et les ratz
doibvent vivre en paix les ungs avec les aultres, sans se rien faire de
mal l'ung à l'autre, et que nous aultres Françoys, e'est assavoir les
hérétiques et les catholicques, fassions ainsi, et que le roy le veult.
Je ne suis crieur ni trompette de la ville pour faire telles
publications. Dieu veuille par sa miséricorde avoir pitié de son église
et du royaume de France, les deux ensemble sont prestz de tomber en
grande ruyne; Dieu veuille bailler bon conseil à nostre jeune roy et
inspirer ses gouverneurs à bien faire; ils entrent à leur gouvernement
par ung pauvre commencement, mais ce est en punition de noz pechez."
Mémoires de Claude Haton, i. 123, 124.
fallen into error and been proclaimed heretical or schismatic, but never had
such calamity befallen a king of France. It were better for Charles to make
open profession of his intention to live and die in his religion, and to
enforce conformity on the part of his subjects, than to open the door
wide to sedition by tolerating dissent. Better to renew the prohibition
of heretical conventicles, and to reiterate the ancient penalties.
Particularly ill-advised was it that Charles should be made to pronounce
seditious those who applied the names "Papist" and "Huguenot" to their
opponents, for it seemed to establish side by side two rival sects,
although the name of the one was so novel as never to have found a place
in any former missives of the crown.1 Popular cry for Protestant pastors.
The refusal of the Parisian parliament to verify the edict in the
customary manner prevented its universal observance; but,
notwithstanding this untoward circumstance, it proved exceedingly
favorable to the development of the Huguenot movement.2 Scarcely a
month after its publication, Calvin, in a letter to which we have more
than once had occasion to refer, expressed his astonishment at the ardor
achievements. The cry from all parts of Charles the Ninth's dominions
was for ministers of the Gospel.3 "The eagerness with which pastors
1 La Place, 124-126; Histoire ecclés., i. 288, etc.; De Thou, iii. (liv. xxviii.) 52, 53. The
remonstrance of parliament was, in point of fact, little more than an echo of the strenuous
protest of the Spanish ambassador to the queen mother. See Chantonnay to Catharine
de' Medici, April 22, 1561, Mémoires de Condé, ii. 6-10.
2 According to Claude Haton, the edict was received with ineffable delight, especially
in those cities of the kingdom where there were Huguenot judges. The Catholics were
despised. The Huguenots became bold: "En toutes compagnies, assemblées et lieux
publicz, ilz huguenotz avoient le hault parler." Despite the prohibition of the employment of
insulting terms, they called their adversaries "papaux, idolâtres,
pauvres abusez." and "tisons du purgatoire du pape." Mémoires, i. 122.
Doubtless a smaller measure of free speech than this would have sufficed
to stir up the bile of the curate of Mériot.
3 Already, on the 6th of March, Claude Boissière had
written to the Genevan reformer from Saintes: "God has so augmented His
church that we number to-day by the grace of God thirty-eight pastors in
this province" (Saintonge in Western France), "each of us having the
care of so many towns and parishes, that, had we fifty more, we should
scarcely be able to satisfy half the charges that present themselves."
Geneva MSS., apud Bulletin, xiv. (1855) 320, and Crottet, Hist. des
égl. réf. de Pons, Gémozac, etc., 57.
are sought for on all hands from us is not less than that with
which sacerdotal offices are wont to be solicited among the papists.
Those who are in quest of them besiege my doors, as if I must be
entreated after the fashion of the court; and vie with each other, as if
the possession of Christ's kingdom were a quiet one. And, on our part,
we desire to fulfil their earnest prayers to the extent of our ability;
but we are thoroughly exhausted; nay, we have for some time been
compelled to drag from the book-stores every workman that could be found
possessed even of a slight tincture of literature and religious
The letters that reached Calvin and his colleagues by every messenger
from Southern France--many of which have recently come to light in the
libraries of Paris and Geneva--present a vivid picture of the condition
of whole districts and provinces. From Milhau comes the intelligence
that the mass has for some time been banished from the place, but that a
single pastor is by no means sufficient; he must have a colleague, that
one minister may take exclusive care of the neighboring country, "where
there is an infinite number of churches," while the other remains in the
most violent persecutions that had befallen the Protestants. For they
refused to submit to discipline, made light of the decisions of their
brethren, and, while seeking only their own pleasure, drew odium upon
the ministers who endeavored to uphold good order among the people.2 Inconsistent laws and practice. Judicial perplexity.
The position of the Huguenots was certainly anomalous, and presented the
strangest inconsistencies. The royal letters enjoined that no inquiries
should be made with the view of disturbing
1 After having examined the churches, convents, etc., the
lieutenant, though a Roman Catholic, reported to the Toulouse parliament
"qu'il avoit trouvé une telle obéissance en ceste ville que le roy
demande à tous ses subjects, de sorte qu'il n'y avoit eu jamais un coup
frappé, ne injure dicte aux papistes par ceux de l'Evangile."
2 Letter of Du Vignault to M. d'Espeville (Calvin), May
26, 1561, in Geneva MSS., Bulletin, xiv. (1865) 322-324.
any one for religion's sake; the Parliament of Paris refused to register
these letters and obey the provisions; the still more fanatical counsellors
of the Parliament of Toulouse rather increased than diminished their severities, and daily consigned fresh victims to the flames.1 It was natural that
the clergy should take advantage of these circumstances to renew their
remonstrances against the continuance of the existing toleration. The
Cardinal of Lorraine seized the opportunity afforded him by the solemn
ceremonial of Charles's anointing at Rheims (on the thirteenth of June,
1561) to present to the queen mother the collective complaints of the
prelates, because, so far from witnessing the rigid enforcement of the
royal edicts, they beheld the heretical conventicles held with more and
more publicity from day to day, and the judges excusing themselves from
the performance of their duty by alleging the number of conflicting
laws, in the midst of which their course was by no means easy. He
therefore recommended the convocation of the parliament with the princes
and members of the council, that, by their advice, some permanent and
proper settlement of this vexed question might be reached.2
Catharine, who, in the publication of the letters-patent of April, had
followed the advice of Chancellor L'Hospital, and seemed to lean to the
side of toleration, now yielded to the cardinal's persuasions--whether
from a belief that the mixed assembly which he proposed to convene would
pursue the path of conciliation already pointed out by the government,
or from a fear of alienating a powerful party in the state.
The "Mercuriale" of 1561.
On the twenty-third of June, Charles, accompanied by his mother, by the