History of the rise of the huguenots

Arrival of five German delegates

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Arrival of five German delegates.

The conference of Poissy had scarcely been definitely abandoned when

five German Protestants appeared upon the scene. Three of these--Andreä,

Beuerlin, and Balthasar Bidembach--had been sent by the Duke of

Würtemberg; the others--Bouquin and Dilher--by the Elector Palatine.

Early in the summer, the King of Navarre, anxious to strengthen himself

by enlisting in his favor the Protestant princes of Germany, had expressed
to them the desire, in which Catharine coincided, that some theologians

1 Baum, ii. 408.

2 Oct. 20th, according to Recueil des anc. lois franç., xiv. 122.

3 Text of the edict in Mém. de Condé, ii. 520-528 (De

Thou, iii. 99, following the Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., erroneously

gives the date as Nov. 3d); Letter of Beza, Oct. 21st, Baum, ii., App.,

109; Letter of Martyr, Oct. 17th, ibid., 107.

4 Beza, ubi supra; Car. Joinvillæus, Nov. 5th, Baum,

ii., App., 123.

5 Oct. 19th, according to Bruslart, Mém. de Condé, i. 59.

According to La Place, the assembly of the prelates did not break up

until the 30th of October, after a session of about three months: "Et le

trentiesme dudict mois ... fut ainsi finie ladicte assemblée, sans

apporter autre fruict, après avoir esté toutesfois assemblés [les

prélats] par l'espace de trois mois ou environ." (Page 201.)

--learned and pious men, and inclined to peace--should be

sent from beyond the Rhine to take part in the adjustment of the

religious questions at the Colloquy of Poissy. The Protestant electors,

the Landgrave of Hesse, and the Duke of Würtemberg, were unable,

however, to agree on the instructions to be given to the envoys. While

the duke, devotedly attached to the doctrines of Luther, was bent upon

strongly recommending the adoption of the Augsburg Confession, the other

princes could not acquiesce in his plan. The landgrave refused to throw

additional difficulties in the way of the reformed churches of France,

just emerging from a period of relentless persecution, and seeking for

the public recognition of the right to worship God, for which so many

martyrs had cheerfully laid down their lives. The Elector of Saxony

distrusted the sincerity of the intentions of the French court. As for

the Count Palatine, he himself had embraced the reformed theology, and

could not be expected to urge the Huguenots to give up their own

well-digested confession for one which they considered far inferior to

it in all respects.1 And so it happened that, in consequence of a

diversity of sentiment regarding both doctrine and policy, there was no

general deputation sent to France, and the delegates of the two princes

who complied with the invitation arrived at Paris after the

colloquy--too late to do any harm, if not soon enough to do much good.

They were courteously received by the court. The Würtembergers, in

particular, were allowed frequent opportunities of explaining the merits

of the Lutheran doctrine of the Lord's Supper. Before their return into

Germany, they were distinctly informed by Navarre that, while he

recommended a closer union between the two branches of the Protestant

Church, his own views accorded with those of the adherents of the

Augsburg Confession; and that his only reason for delaying to subscribe

to it was a fear lest this step might interfere with the execution of

the union he desired to effect.2

1 "De fait," wrote Calvin of the Augsburg Confession, "elle est si maigrement bastie,
si molle et si obscure, qu'on ne s'y sauroit arrester." Letter to Beza, Sept. 24, 1561. Bonnet,
Lettres franç., ii. 428; Baum, ii., App., 70.]

2 The account of the occasion of the mission of delegates

from Germany, given in the text, is based on Soldan, Gesch. des Prot, in

Frankreich, i. 531-537. He has, I think, sufficiently demonstrated the

inaccuracy of the ordinary story (accepted even by Prof. Baum, Theod.

Beza, ii. 370, 419, etc.), which attributes their advent chiefly, if not

wholly, to the desire of Lorraine. It is said that, after hearing Beza's

Why the colloquy proved a failure.

The Colloquy of Poissy had proved, so far as the objects contemplated by

its originators were concerned, a complete failure. Instead of drawing

the Roman Catholic and the reformed churches together, it had only

widened the breach separating them. Instead of exhibiting in a clearer

light the common ground on which a union might be practicable, it had

rendered patent to all the antagonism which could not be cloaked by

ambiguous phrases and incomplete statements of doctrine. It is certainly

worth while to inquire into some of the causes of a result so unexpected

to a great number of intelligent men, who had framed their anticipations

upon no superficial view of the subject.
Catharine's crude notion of a conference.

The crude notions of the court respecting the character which such a

conference ought to assume must be regarded as one of these causes.

Catharine, while extending the most gracious invitations to foreign

Protestants, was herself apparently undecided how to treat the Huguenots

when they should make their appearance. Even if we grant that her

explanations of the object of the projected colloquy, referred to on a

preceding page,1 received their coloring from the fact that she was

supplying her ambassador in Germany with plausible representations

wherewith to appease such irritated bigots as feared that the French

queen intended to propose a grave discussion of the religious
speech of the ninth of September, the cardinal sought to obtain, through the instrumentality of the Marshal de Vieilleville, at Metz, and his salaried spy Rascalon, at Heidelberg, some decided Lutherans, to be employed in bringing the Protestants at Poissy into contempt, through the wrangling of their theologians with those of Germany. See the Hist. Eccles. De egl. Ref., etc. Yet it is not improably, as La Place, Commentarieres, 200, seems to hint tha Navarre’s project was maliciously countenanced by the Cardinal of Lorraine. But the circumstance that, of the five German theologians, not less than two were opposed to the Augsburg Confession, proves conclusively that they could not have been despatched with the view of helping the cardinal out in his attempt. Bossuet’s admiration of the prelate’s sagacity, in thus seeking to give a brilliant demonstration of the variations of doctrine among Protestants, certainly seems to be wasted.

1 Ante, c. xi., p. 493.

question upon its own merits, yet the entire course of the conference exhibits

her inability to comprehend the nature of a fair debate of the matters

in dispute. The Huguenot ministers and delegates were obliged to

petition that the prelates should not be permitted to act as their

judges, and afterward to remind her of the promise she had given them to

this effect. Even after the point had been nominally accorded, the most

important questions respecting the conference were decided in the

council, where five cardinals and three bishops had seats.1

Under these circumstances it is not astonishing that Lorraine assumed a

tone of superiority which his relation to the debate by no means warranted.
Character of the prelates.

Besides this, the character of the assembly of prelates itself precluded

the possibility of an adjustment. With the exception of six or seven, so

insignificant were these ecclesiastical dignitaries individually, that,

as a modern historian has well remarked, not one distinguished himself

sufficiently to be named by any of the writers who treat of the

conference. They were, generally, the younger sons of the most

distinguished families in France, and had entered the church not from

devotion, but in consequence of an immemorial custom which consigned to

the episcopal dignity or to a rich abbacy the youth whom an elder

brother debarred from entertaining the hope of succeeding to his

father's dignities and possessions. Few of them had ever seen their

dioceses save on some great festival; none possessed the literary or

theological training necessary to qualify them for coping with the

master-minds among the Protestants. Accordingly, each bishop had to come

to Poissy with one or more "theologians," doctors of the Sorbonne, to

whose better judgment and superior learning he was content to defer on

every disputed point. There was little probability that a body thus

constituted would consent to enter into a candid consideration of the

differences separating the Roman Catholic and Protestant worlds.2

Influence of the papal legate. The despondent nuncio, Viterbo.

But the single event said by an eye-witness and actor in these

1 See the list of the twenty members of the council, in

Recueil des anc. lois franç., xiv. 55, 56.

2 See Baum, ii. 215.

scenes to have conduced more than any other to destroy all hope of agreement,

was the arrival at court of the papal legate, Ippolito D'Este, Cardinal

of Ferrara.1 Pope Pius IV. had long been watching the affairs of

France with deep solicitude. If his legates, Tournon and Lorraine, had

failed to alarm him by their reports of the progress of the "new

doctrines," he could not but be troubled by the accounts which came from

his nuncio in France, Sebastiano Gualtieri, Bishop of Viterbo.

Gualtieri, an experienced diplomatist, learned, eloquent--and not

wanting in cunning,2 if we may believe his successor in office--had

proved himself unequal to the duties of his present position, by giving

way to extreme despondency. In the gay capital of France he led a

wretched life, in constant dread of future disaster, and ceaselessly

uttering lugubrious prognostications. To the Pope he announced that

religious matters in France were desperate; everything was rushing to

ruin with ever-increasing velocity. The queen mother was unsound in the

faith, although, from motives of policy, she dissembled her true

sentiments. She favored a preacher, one Bouteiller, who was equally

unsound; and she refused to dismiss him when admonished of her error. He

begged the pontiff to recall him, so that he might not witness the

funeral obsequies of the unhappy kingdom.3
Anxiety of Pope Pius IV. The Nuncio Santa Croce. The Cardinal of Ferrara.

Pius, rendered more apprehensive by these continual tidings of evil, and

displeased with much that his legates had done,4 could no longer

delay to take decided action. Accordingly, he resolved to grant

Gualtieri's request, and to send as apostolic nuncio in his place Santa

Croce, Bishop of Pisa,

1 "Affulserat aliqua spes concordiæ, sed Legatus

Pontificius, i. e., Cardinalis Ferrariensis omnia perturbavit." Letter

of Martyr to the magistrates of Zurich, Oct. 17, 1561, Baum, ii., App., 108.

2 "Quique ingenio, eloquentia, artificio plurimum

valebat." Prosp. Santacrucii, Comment de civil. Galliæ dissen., 1461.

3 "Ne ipse exequiis, ut dicebat, illius regni interesset."

Ibid., ubi supra. Somewhat maliciously Santa Croce suggests that

Gualtieri was all the more reluctant to remain after he heard of the

creation of nineteen new cardinals, and learned that his own name was

not included in the list.

4 "Angebatur interea Romæ gravissimis curis Pius pontifex,

quod nec quæ legati fecissent satis probaret, et in dies malum magis

serpere, omniaque remedia minus juvare audiebat." Ib., 1462.

who had formerly occupied this position at Paris, but was now

acting in a similar capacity in Portugal.1 But so grave
did the conjuncture appear in the eyes of the papal court,

that, at a solemn consistory held on the twenty-eighth of June, the

resolution was adopted to despatch a third legate to St. Germain! The

pretext of this extraordinary mission was the desire to testify more

clearly than the selection of the two previously existing legates had

done, to the earnestness of the solicitude felt at Rome for the

interests of the Church in France.2 The true reason would appear to

have been to correct the mistakes which the existing legates were

supposed to have committed. For the delicate post of legatus a latere,

no better candidate could be found than the Cardinal of Ferrara.

Although a man of no high intellectual abilities, he had received a

thorough training in the Macchiavellian theory of politics,3 and,

during many years of diplomatic service, had enjoyed a fair opportunity

for schooling himself in its practical workings. The son of Lucretia

Borgia, the grandson of Pope Alexander the Sixth, could scarcely help

being an adept at intrigue. Next to this special qualification, his

highest recommendations were that he was the brother-in-law of Renée of

France, and so by marriage uncle of the Duke of Guise; and that he had

twelve good reasons for feeling deep concern for the steadfastness of

French orthodoxy, viz.: the three archbishoprics, the one bishopric, and

the eight rich abbeys which he held within the confines of Charles's

dominions, deriving therefrom an income which was popularly estimated at

from forty to sixty thousand crowns.4

1 He was described to the Pope by his secretary, Prosper

himself tells us, as "virum exercitatum, magni animi, multarum

literarum, eloquentem, magnæque apud Gallos auctoritatis," having

obtained great familiarity with French affairs when nuncio in Henry the

Second's lifetime. Ib., 1463.]

2 "Non tam ut numerus legatorum, quam ut plus auctoritatis

legatio haberet, si ab ipsius (ut dicunt) pontificis latere legatus

discederet ... quasi aliorum legatorum creatio, quod erant jam in

Gallia, neque Roma proficiscerentur, non satis diligenter curare

negotium diceretur." Ib., 1462.

3 "Grande hombre de entretenimientos y de encantar."

Vargas calls him. Letter to Granvelle, Nov. 15, 1561, Papiers d'état du

card. de Granvelle, vi. 416.

4 "Diess waren zwölf gewiss mächtige Gründe," etc. Baum,

ii. 302; La Place, 153; Marc' Ant. Barbaro, Rel. des Amb. Vén., ii. 86.

Master Renard turned monk.

The new legate accepted the appointment with alacrity. Not so the

nuncio. It was no small trial to leave the quiet court of Lisbon--where

his predecessors had been accustomed, during a short stay of a year or

two, to accumulate a handsome fortune1--for the turmoil of the

French capital, threatened every day with the outbreak of civil war,

where nothing but censure and hatred could be reaped.2 But Santa

Croce did not hesitate long to renounce his golden prospects, and almost

at the same moment that the Cardinal of Ferrara started from the banks

of the Tiber, the Bishop of Pisa set forth from the gates of Lisbon.

Neither legate nor nuncio, however, was in much haste to reach his

destination. Ferrara could plead ill-health, Santa Croce the prostrating

heat of the season.3 It took each of the prelates two months and a

half to accomplish his journey--the legate reaching the French court on

the nineteenth of September, the nuncio toward the end of the same

month.4 The former travelled in great magnificence, with a

brilliant escort of four hundred horsemen or more, and accompanied by

several bishops and other persons of distinction, among whom was Lainez,

the Jesuit, whose acquaintance we have already made. Avoiding the larger

French cities where the Reformation had gained a foothold, and where,

consequently, marks of popular insult were apprehended,5 he

received a brilliant welcome at the court, the king's brother Henry, and

others, riding out to greet him at his approach. The people were less

cordial. His assumed devotion could not deceive those who knew him to be

a devotee of pleasure.6 His appearance forcibly reminded them of the

1 "Multum inde auri reportaturus existimetur, si ibi annum

vel biennium communi omnium more transigat." Santacrucii, de civil.

Galliæ diss. comment., 1464.

2 That is, excepting the cardinal's hat, which his friends informed him would be

the reward of his services in France. Ibid., ubi supra.

3 Ibid., 1462, 1463, 1465.

4 Ibid., 1465.

5 "Lugduno hucusque omnes fere declinavit urbes in

itinere, ut quæ jam habeant Ministros, et ideo irrisiones extimuerit."

Letter of Peter Martyr, Sept. 19th, Baum, ii., App., 68.

6 "These artifices," wrote Languet from Paris at the time,

"impose upon no one; and especially from this man, who is very well

known here, who heretofore has surpassed even the highest princes in the

luxury and splendor of his mode of life, and of whose utter want of

knowledge of letters no one is ignorant." Letter of Sept. 20, 1561,

Epist. secr., ii. 140.

old story of Master Fox turned hermit, and cries of "Au Renard! Au

Renard!" were so loudly uttered when he was seen in the streets preceded

by an attendant carrying a large silver cross, the badge of his office,

that he was soon fain to discard the obnoxious emblem.1 This was

not the only insult he was compelled to swallow. A portrait of his

grandfather, Pope Alexander the Sixth, was engraved and published, with

an account of his life and death, in which the moral character of

Lucretia Borgia was painted in the darkest colors.2 It was,

however, speedily suppressed by the civil authorities.
Opposition of people and chancellor.

The plenary powers which the papal commission conferred upon Ippolito

d'Este created an opposition even in higher circles. He had, it is true,

apprehending an unfavorable reception, taken the pains to invite the

French ambassador at Venice to confer with him while he was stopping in

Ferrara on his way to Paris, and had assured him that he went with the

sole intention of subserving the interests of France, and would use the

powers given him by the Pope no farther than Charles desired.3 This

and reiterated assurances of the same tenor, after his arrival, did not

remove the scruples of Michel de l'Hospital. The latter insisted that

the authority which the Pope pretended to confer upon his legate was in

direct contravention of the resolution of the recent States General,

that ecclesiastical benefices should henceforth be at the disposition,

not of the Pope, but of the prelates in their respective dioceses, and

that no papal dispensations should hereafter be received. He therefore

declined to give to the pontifical warrant the official ratification without

which it was of no validity in the kingdom; and he was supported in his

1 La Place, 153.

2 Ibid., ubi supra; Baum, ii. 305.

3 Letter of the ambassador, Hurault de Bois-Taillé, July

12, 1561, Le Laboureur, Add. to Castelnau, i. 729. Hurault, however,

suspected that some mischief, which time would reveal, lay concealed

under this outward show of complaisance.

refusal by the majority of the royal council. He was, however,

overruled. It would be highly improper, the Cardinal of Ferrara

persuaded Catharine and her advisers to believe, that a prelate allied

to the royal house of France should be the first legate to be denied the

customary honors. And so L'Hospital, after receiving a direct order from

the king, and having had several altercations with the legate,

reluctantly affixed the great seal of France, taking care to relieve

himself of all responsibility by writing below it the words, Me non

consentiente. This addition for the present rendered the document

entirely useless, for parliament promptly refused to receive or register

that which had failed to meet with the chancellor's approbation.1
The legate's successful intrigues. His excessive complaisance.

The first great aim of Ferrara was to prevent the assembly of prelates

at Poissy from assuming in any degree the character of a national

council by undertaking a genuine reformation of doctrine or practice,

and to induce the reference of all such questions as ought there to have

been discussed, to the Council of Trent.2 How well he succeeded was

shown by the event. By purposely delaying his arrival until the assembly

had convened, he avoided the defeat that he might have experienced had

he been on the spot and opposed its opening.3 He was sufficiently

early, however, to effect all that was really of moment. His manners

were conciliatory and paved the way for his intrigues. Catharine was the

more friendly both to him and to Santa Croce, because of the contrast

between their deportment and that of Gualtieri, whom she hated for his

sour disposition and boorish ways.4 Navarre and the princes

suspected of a leaning toward Protestantism were plied with other arts.

In fact, so well did the legate counterfeit liberality of sentiment,

that even the Pope and his brethren of the Roman consistory seem to have

become a little alarmed. For he went so

1 La Place, 153.

2 Ibid., ubi supra.

3 Compare Baum, ii. 302, 303.

4 Santacrucii, de civil. Galliæ diss. com., 1465: "Quod

mirum in modum oderat episcopi Viterbensis et mores agrestes, et naturam

subacerbam, semperque, ut diximus, male ominantem." Vargas, viewing the

same personage from another point, was far more complimentary. Papiers

d'état du cardinal de Granvelle, vi. 404, 405.

far, on one occasion, as to accompany the Huguenot nobles to hear the sermon

of one of their ministers, greatly to the displeasure of the Pope and of Philip
the Second, as well as of the Cardinal of Tournon and other bigots at the

French court who could not follow the tangled thread of his tortuous

policy.1 It was difficult for him to convince them that he had made

this extraordinary concession simply in order to induce Antoine and his

more intractable queen in their turn to attend the Roman Catholic

services. Navarre was naturally the person whom legate and nuncio were

most anxious to influence. For, respecting Catharine, they soon

satisfied themselves that, if she was not a very ardent Romanist, she

was nothing of a Protestant.2 The King of Navarre, however, was to

be gained only by skilful and concerted diplomacy. Easy to be duped as

he was, he had met with so many disappointments that he required

something more than vague assurances to induce him to throw away the

solid advantages derived from still being the reputed head of the

Huguenots. For about this time his agents at Madrid and at Rome had been

coldly received. Philip and his minister Alva excused themselves from

paying any attention to his claims upon Navarre or an equivalent, until

Antoine had shown more decided devotion to Catholicism than was afforded

by simply attending mass, and they had made it evident that

1 Marc' Antonio Barbaro, Relations des Ambassadeurs

Vénitiens, ii. 88; Letter of Santa Croce, Poissy, Nov. 15, 1561, Lettres

anecdotes écrites au card. Borromée par Prosper de Sainte-Croix, nonce

du pape Pie IV. auprès de Catherine de Medicis, 1561-1565. (Aymon, Tous

les synodes nat. (1710), i. 15.) Vargas, Spanish ambassador at the papal

court, who feared that the legate might be induced to lend his influence

to Navarre's scheme for procuring a restitution of his wife's domains,

or an equivalent for them, besieged the pontiff with accounts of his

scandalous intimacy with French heretics of rank. "Repetíle lo que otras

vezes le havia dicho, y con quanto escándolo y ofension de la religion

se tractava en Francia, estrechándose en amistad con Vandoma y almirante

Chatiglon, obispo de Valencia, y los demas principales hereges, con gran

desconsuelo y desfavor de los cathólicos; y de como no era hombre apto

para una legacion semejante," etc. He accused him of already aiming at

the pontifical see, as if it were now vacant, and urged his immediate

recall. Letter of Vargas to Philip II. from Rome, Nov. 7, 1561; Papiers

d'état du cardinal de Granvelle, vi. 403, 404; see also pp. 405, 406.

2 Examine the curious passage in Santacrucii, de civil.

Galliæ diss. comment., 1470, 1471.

armed intervention in behalf of the French adherents of the old faith was

rather to be expected from the Spaniard, than any act of condescension

in favor of the titular king. From Rome he had scarcely obtained more

encouragement than from Madrid.1 Under these circumstances, it

seemed that little was needed to make his alienation from Romanism


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