« Prev PREFACE Next »



The period of about half a century with which these volumes are concerned may properly be regarded as the formative age of the Huguenots of France. It included the first planting of the reformed doctrines, and the steady growth of the Reformation in spite of obloquy and persecution, whether exercised under the forms of law or vented in lawless violence. It saw the gathering and the regular organization of the reformed communities, as well as their consolidation into one of the most orderly and zealous churches of the Protestant family. It witnessed the failure of the bloody legislation of three successive monarchs, and the equally abortive efforts of a fourth monarch to destroy the Huguenots, first with the sword and afterward with the dagger. At the close of this period the faith and resolution of the Huguenots had survived four sanguinary wars into which they had been driven by their implacable enemies. They were just entering upon a fifth war, under favorable auspices, for they had made it manifest to all men that their success depended less upon the lives of leaders, of whom they might be robbed by the hand of the assassin, than upon a conviction of the righteousness of their cause, which no sophistry of their opponents could dissipate. The Huguenots, at the death ofiv Charles the Ninth, stood before the world a well-defined body, that had outgrown the feebleness of infancy, and had proved itself entitled to consideration and respect. Thus much was certain.

The subsequent fortunes of the Huguenots of France—their wars until they obtained recognition and some measure of justice in the Edict of Nantes; the gradual infringement upon their guaranteed rights, culminating in the revocation of the edict, and the loss to the kingdom of the most industrious part of the population; their sufferings "under the cross" until the publication of the Edict of Toleration—these offer an inviting field of investigation, upon which I may at some future time be tempted to enter.11 Meantime I am glad that we may expect before very long, from the pen of my brother, Charles W. Baird, the history of the Huguenot emigration to the American colonies in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries—a work based upon extensive research, that will afford much interesting information respecting a movement hitherto little understood, and fill an important gap in our historical literature.

The history of the Huguenots during a great part of the period covered by this work, is, in fact, the history of France as well. The outlines of the action and some of the characters that come upon the stage are, consequently, familiar to the reader of general history. The period has been treated cursorily in writings extending over wider limits, while several of the most striking incidents, including, especially, the Massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day, have been made the subject of special disquisitions. Yet, although much study and ingenuity have been expended in elucidating the more difficult and obscure points, there is, especially in the English language, a lack of works upon the general theme, combining painstaking investigation into thev older (but not, necessarily, better known) sources of information, and an acquaintance with the results of modern research.

The last twenty-five or thirty years have been remarkably fruitful in discoveries and publications shedding light upon the history of France during the age of the Reformation and the years immediately following. The archives of all the principal, and many of the secondary, capitals of Europe have been explored. Valuable manuscripts previously known to few scholars—if, indeed, known to any—have been rescued from obscurity and threatened destruction. By the side of the voluminous histories and chronicles long since printed, a rich store of contemporary correspondence and hitherto inedited memoirs has been accumulated, supplying at once the most copious and the most trustworthy fund of life-like views of the past. The magnificent "Collection de Documents Inédits sur l'Histoire de France," still in course of publication by the Ministry of Public Instruction, comprehends in its grand design not only extended memoirs, like those of Claude Haton of Provins, but the even more important portfolios of leading statesmen, such as those of Secretary De l'Aubespine and Cardinal Granvelle (not less indispensable for French than for Dutch affairs), and the correspondence of monarchs, as of Henry the Fourth. The secrets of diplomacy have been revealed. Those singularly accurate and sensible reports made to the Doge and Senate of Venice, by the ambassadors of the republic, upon their return from the French court, can be read in the collections of Venetian Relations of Tommaseo and Albèri, or as summarized by Ranke and Baschet. The official statements drawn up for the eyes of the public may now be confronted with and tested by the more truthful and unguarded accounts conveyed in cipher to all the foreign courts of Europe. Including the partial collections ofvi despatches heretofore put in print, we possess, regarding many critical events, the narratives and opinions of such apt observers as the envoys of Spain, of the German Empire, of Venice, and of the Pope, of Wurtemberg, Saxony, and the Palatinate. Above all, we have access to the continuous series of letters of the English ambassadors and minor agents, comprising Sir Thomas Smith, Sir Nicholas Throkmorton, Walsingham, Jones, Killigrew, and others, scarcely less skilful in the use of the pen than in the art of diplomacy. This English correspondence, parts of which were printed long ago by Digges, Dr. Patrick Forbes, and Haynes, and other portions by Hardwick, Wright, Tytler-Fraser, etc., can now be read in London, chiefly in the Record Office, and is admirably analyzed in the invaluable "Calendars of State Papers (Foreign Series)," published under the direction of the Master of the Rolls. Too much weight can scarcely be given to this source of information and illustration. One of the learned editors enthusiastically remarks concerning a part of it (the letters of Throkmorton22 Of the different modes of spelling this name, I choose the mode which, according to the numerous fac-similes given by Dr. Forbes, the worthy knight seems himself to have followed with commendable uniformity.): "The historical literature of France, rich as it confessedly is in memoirs and despatches of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, possesses (as far as I am aware) no series of papers which can compare either in continuity, fidelity, or minuteness, with the correspondence of Throkmorton.... He had his agents and his spies everywhere throughout France."

Little, if at all, inferior in importance to governmental publications, are the fruits of private research. Several voluminous collections of original documents deserve special mention. Not to speak of the publications of the national French Historicalvii Society, the "Société de l'Histoire du Protestantisme Français" has given to the world, in its monthly Bulletin, so many hitherto inedited documents, besides a great number of excellent monographs, that the volumes of this periodical, now in its twenty-eighth year, constitute in themselves an indispensable library of reference. That admirable biographical work, "La France Protestante," by the brothers Haag (at present in course of revision and enlargement); the "Correspondance des Réformateurs dans les Pays de Langue Française," by M. Herminjard (of which five volumes have come out), a signal instance of what a single indefatigable student can accomplish; the collections of Calvin's Letters, by M. Jules Bonnet; and the magnificent edition of the same reformer's works, by Professors Baum, Cunitz, and Reuss, a treasury of learning, rich in surprises for the historical student—all these merit more particular description than can here be given. The biography of Beza, by Professor Baum, the history of the Princes of Condé, by the Due d'Aumale, the correspondence of Frederick the Pious, edited by Kluckholn, etc., contribute a great deal of previously unpublished material. The sumptuous work of M. Douen on Clément Marot and the Huguenot Psalter sheds new light upon an interesting, but until now obscure subject. The writings of Farel and his associates have been rescued from the oblivion to which the extreme scarcity of the extant copies consigned them; and the "Vray Usage de la Croix," the "Sommaire," and the "Manière et Fasson," can at last be read in elegant editions, faithful counterparts of the originals in every point save typographical appearance. The same may be said of such celebrated but hitherto unattainable rarities as the "Tigre" of 1560, scrupulously reproduced in fac-simile, by M. Charles Read, of Paris, from the copy belonging to the Hôtel-de-Ville, and the fugiviiitive songs and hymns which M. Bordier has gathered in his "Chansonnier Huguenot."

No little value belongs, also, to certain contemporary journals of occurrences given to the world under the titles of "Journal d'un Bourgeois de Paris sous le règne de François Ier," "Cronique du Roy Françoys, premier de ce nom," "Journal d'un curé ligueur de Paris sous les trois derniers Valois (Jehan de la Fosse)," "Journal de Jean Glaumeau de Bourges," etc.

The revival of interest in the fortunes of their ancestors has led a considerable number of French Protestants to prepare works bearing upon the history of Protestantism in particular cities and provinces. Among these may be noted the works of MM. Douen and Rossier, on Picardy; Recordon, on Champagne; Lièvre, on Poitou; Bujeaud, on Angoumois; Vaurigaud, on Brittany; Arnaud, on Dauphiny; Coquerel, on Paris; Borrel, on Nismes; Callot and Delmas, on La Rochelle; Crottet, on Pons, Gémozac, and Mortagne; Corbière, on Montpellier, etc. Although these books differ greatly in intrinsic importance, and in regard to the exercise of historical criticism, they all have a valid claim to attention by reason of the evidence they afford of individual research.

Of the new light thrown upon the rise of the Huguenots by these and similar works, it has been my aim to make full use. At the same time I have been convinced that no adequate knowledge of the period can be obtained, save by mastering the great array of original chronicles, histories, and kindred productions with which the literary world has long been acquainted, at least by name. This result I have, accordingly, endeavored to reach by careful and patient reading. It is unnecessary to specify in detail the numerous authors through whose writings it became my laborious but by no means unixgrateful task to make my way, for the marginal notes will indicate the exact line of the study pursued. It may be sufficient to say, omitting many other names scarcely less important, that I have assiduously studied the works of De Thou, Agrippa d'Aubigné, La Place, La Planche; the important "Histoire Ecclésiastique," ascribed to Theodore de Bèze; the "Actiones et Monimenta" of Crespin; the memoirs of Castelnau, Vieilleville, Du Bellay, Tavannes, La Noue, Montluc, Lestoile, and other authors of this period, included in the large collections of memoirs of Petitot, Michaud and Poujoulat, etc.; the writings of Brantôme; the Commentaries of Jean de Serres, in their various editions, as well as other writings attributed to the same author; the rich "Mémoires de Condé," both in their original and their enlarged form; the series of important documents comprehended in the "Archives curieuses" of Cimber and Danjou; the disquisitions collected by M. Leber; the histories of Davila, Florimond de Ræmond, Maimbourg, Varillas, Soulier, Mézeray, Gaillard; the more recent historical works of Sismondi, Martin, Michelet, Floquet; the volumes of Browning, Smedley, and White, in English, of De Félice, Drion, and Puaux, in French, of Barthold, Von Raumer, Ranke, Polenz, Ebeling, and Soldan, in German. The principal work of Professor Soldan, in particular, bounded by the same limits of time with those of the present history, merits, in virtue of accuracy and thoroughness, a wider recognition than it seems yet to have attained. My own independent investigations having conducted me over much of the ground traversed by Professor Soldan, I have enjoyed ample opportunity for testing the completeness of his study and the judicial fairness of his conclusions.

The posthumous treatise of Professor H. Wuttke, "Zur Vorgeschichte der Bartholomäusnacht," published in Leipsic sincex the present work was placed in the printer's hands, reached me too late to be noticed in connection with the narrative of the events which it discusses. Notwithstanding Professor Wuttke's recognized ability and assiduity as a historical investigator, I am unable to adopt the position at which he arrives.

I desire here to acknowledge my obligation for valuable assistance in prosecuting my researches to my lamented friend and correspondent, Professor Jean Guillaume Baum, long and honorably connected with the Académie de Strasbourg, than whom France could boast no more indefatigable or successful student of her annals, and who consecrated his leisure hours during forty years to the enthusiastic study of the history of the French and Swiss Reformation. If that history is better understood now than when, in 1838, he submitted as a theological thesis his astonishingly complete "Origines Evangelii in Gallia restaurati," the progress is due in great measure to his patient labors. To M. Jules Bonnet, under whose skilful editorship the Bulletin of the French Protestant Historical Society has reached its present excellence, I am indebted for help afforded me in solving, by means of researches among the MSS. of the Bibliothèque Rationale at Paris, and the Simler Collection at Zurich, several difficult problems. To these names I may add those of M. Henri Bordier, Bibliothécaire Honoraire in the Department of MSS. (Bibliothèque Rationale), of M. Raoul de Cazenove, of Lyons, author of many highly prized monographs on Huguenot topics, and of the Rev. John Forsyth, D.D., who have in various ways rendered me valuable services.

Finally, I deem it both a duty and a privilege to express my warm thanks to the librarians of the Princeton Theological Seminary and of the Union Theological Seminary in this city; andxi particularly to the successive superintendents and librarians of the Astor Library—both the living and the dead—by the signal courtesy of whom, the whole of that admirable collection of books has been for many years placed at my disposal for purposes of consultation so freely, that nothing has been wanting to make the work of study in its alcoves as pleasant and effective as possible.

University of the City of New York,
September 15, 1879.

« Prev PREFACE Next »


| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |