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THE COLLOQUY OF POISSY AND THE EDICT OF JANUARY.
|The Colloquy of Poissy and the Edict of January||509|
|The Huguenot Ministers and Delegates||509|
|Assembled Princes in the Nuns' Refectory||510|
|Diffidence of Theodore Beza||512|
|Opening Speech of Chancellor L'Hospital||512|
|The Huguenots summoned||513|
|Beza's Prayer and Address||514|
|His Declaration as to the Body of Christ||519|
|Outcry of the Theologians of the Sorbonne||519|
|Cardinal Tournon would cut short the Conference||521|
|Catharine de' Medici is decided||522|
|The Impression made by Beza||522|
|His Frankness justified||524|
|The Prelates' Notion of a Conference||526|
|Peter Martyr arrives||527|
|Cardinal Lorraine replies to Beza||528|
|Cardinal Tournon's new Demand||529|
|Advancing Shadows of Civil War||530|
|Another Session reluctantly conceded||531|
|Beza's Reply to Cardinal Lorraine||532|
|Claude d'Espense and Claude de Sainctes||532|
|Lorraine demands Subscription to the Augsburg Confession||533|
|Beza's Home Thrust||534|
|Peter Martyr and Lainez the Jesuit||536|
|Close of the Colloquy of Poissy||537|
|A Private Conference at St. Germain||538|
|A Discussion of Words||540|
|Catharine's Premature Delight||541|
|The Article agreed upon Rejected by the Prelates||541|
|Catharine's Financial Success||543|
|Order for the Restitution of Churches||544|
|Arrival of Five German Delegates||544|
|Why the Colloquy proved a Failure||546|
|Catharine's Crude Notion of a Conference||547|
|Character of the Prelates||547|
|Influence of the Papal Legate, the Cardinal of Ferrara||548|
|Anxiety of Pius the Fourth||548|
|The Nuncio Santa Croce||549|
|Master Renard turned Monk||551|
|Opposition of People and Chancellor||551|
|The Legate's Intrigues||552|
|His Influence upon Antoine of Navarre||554|
|The Triumvirate leave in Disgust||556|
|Hopes entertained by the Huguenots respecting Charles||557|
|Beza is begged to remain||559|
|A Spanish Plot to kidnap the Duke of Orleans||559|
|The Number of Huguenot Churches||560|
|Beza secures a favorable Royal order||560|
|Rapid Growth of the Reformation||561|
|Immense Assemblages from far and near||562|
|The Huguenots at Montpellier||563|
|The Rein and not the Spur needed||565|
|Marriages and Baptisms at Court "after the Geneva Fashion"||565|
|Tanquerel's Seditious Declaration||566|
|Jean de Hans||567|
|Philip threatens Interference in French Affairs||567|
|"A True Defender of the Faith"||568|
|Roman Catholic Complaints of Huguenot Boldness||570|
|The "Tumult of Saint Médard"||571|
|Assembly of Notables at St. Germain||574|
|Diversity of Sentiments||575|
|The "Edict of January"||576|
|The Huguenots no longer Outlaws||577|
The Huguenot ministers and delegates.
On Tuesday, the ninth of September, 1561, the long-expected conference was to be opened. That morning, at ten o'clock, a procession of ministers and delegates of the Reformed churches left St. Germain-en-Laye on horseback for the village of Poissy. The ministers, twelve in number, were men of note: Théodore de Bèze, or Beza, with whom the reader is already well acquainted; Augustin Marlorat, a native of Lorraine, formerly a monk, but now famous in the Protestant ranks, and the leading pastor in Rouen, a man over fifty years of age; François de Saint Paul, a learned theologian and the founder of the churches of Montélimart, a delegate from Provence; Jean Raymond Merlin, professor of Hebrew at Geneva, and chaplain of Admiral Coligny; Jean Malot, pastor at Paris; François de Morel, who had presided in the First National Synod of 1559, and had recently been given to the Duchess Renée of Ferrara, as her private chaplain; Nicholas Folion, surnamed La Vallée, a former doctor of the Sorbonne, now pastor at Orleans; Claude de la Boissière, of Saintes; Jean Bouquin, of Oléron; Jean Virel; Jean de la Tour, a patriarch of nearly seventy years; and Nicholas des Gallars, who, after having been a prominent preacher at Geneva and Paris, had for the past two years ministered to the large congregation of French refugees in London. It was a body of Huguenot theologians unsurpassed for ability by any others within the kingdom.11081108 La Place, 154; Baum, Theodor Beza, ii. 230-234. To the names mentioned in the text must be added the name of Jean de l'Espine, who joined his brethren soon after their arrival at Poissy. He was a Carmelite monk of high reputation for learning, who now, for the first time, threw aside the cowl and subscribed to the reformed confession of faith. For an interesting account of his conversion caused by conversing with and witnessing the triumphant death of a Protestant, Jean Rabec, executed April 24, 1556, see Ph. Vincent, Recherches sur les commencements et premiers progrès de la Réf. en la ville de la Rochelle, 1693, apud Bulletin, ix. 30-32. The delegates of the churches were more numerous than the ministers; there were twenty-two, according to the Histoire ecclésiastique, i. 316; though the Abbé Bruslart (Mém. de Condé, i. 51), swells the number to twenty-eight. The names of twelve, representing twelve of the principal provinces, are given, with variations, by two MSS. of the National Library of Paris (Dupuy Coll., vols. 309 and 641), see F. Bourquelot, notes to Mém. de Claude Haton, i. 155.510
So high ran the excitement of the populace, stirred up by frequent appeals to the worst passions in the human breast, and by highly-colored accounts of the boldness with which the "new doctrines" had for weeks been preached within the precincts of the court, that serious apprehension was entertained lest Beza and his companions might be assaulted by the way.11091109 Beza to Calvin, Sept. 12, apud Baum, ii., App. 61; La Place, 158. The peaceable ministers of religion were, therefore, accompanied by a strong escort of one hundred mounted archers of the royal guard. After a ride of less than half an hour, they reached the nuns' convent, in which the prelates had been holding their sessions.
Assembly in the nuns' refectory.
Meantime, an august and imposing assembly was gathered in the spacious conventual refectory.11101110 Beza, ubi supra. An engraving of the period, reproduced by Montfaucon, affords a pleasant view of the quaint scene. On an elevated seat, upon the dais at its farther extremity, was the king, on whose youthful shoulders rested the crushing weight of the government of a kingdom rent by discordant sentiments and selfish factions, and already upon the verge of an open civil war. Near him sat his wily mother—that "merchant's daughter" whose plebeian origin the first Christian baron of France had pointed out with ill-disguised contempt, but whose plans and purposes had now acquired such world-wide importance that grave diplomats and shrewd churchmen esteemed the difficult riddle of her sphinx-like countenance and character a worthy subject of prolonged study. Not far from their royal brother, were two children: the elder, a boy of ten years, Edward Alexander, a few years later to appear on the pages of511 history under the altered name of Henry the Third, the last Valois King of France; the younger, a girl of nine—that Margaret of Valois and Navarre, whose nuptials have attained a celebrity as wide as the earth and as lasting as the records of religious dissensions. Antoine and Louis of Bourbon, brothers by blood but not in character; Jeanne d'Albret, heiress of Navarre, more queenly at heart than many a sovereign with dominions far exceeding the contracted territory of Béarn; the princes representing more distant branches of the royal stock, and the members of the council of state, completed the group. On two long benches, running along the opposite sides of the hall, the prelates were arranged according to their dignities. Tournon, Lorraine, and Châtillon, each in full cardinal's robes, faced their brethren of the Papal Consistory, Armagnac, Bourbon, and Guise, while a long row of archbishops and bishops filled out the line on either side. Altogether, forty or fifty prelates, with numerous attendant theologians and members of the superior clergy, regular and secular, had been marshalled to oppose the little band of reformers.11111111 La Place, 157; Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 314; De Thou, iii. 65.
It was an array of pomp and power, of ecclesiastical place and wealth and ambition, of traditional and hereditary nobility, of all that an ancient and powerful church could muster to meet the attack of fresh and vigorous thought, the inroad of moral and religious reforms, the irrepressible conflict of a faith based solely upon a written revelation. The external promise of victory was all on the side of the prelates. Yet, strange to say, the engagement that was about to take place was none of their seeking. With the exception of the Cardinal of Lorraine, they were well-nigh unanimous in reprobating a venture from which they apprehended only disaster. Perhaps even Lorraine now repented his presumption, and felt less assured of his dialectic skill since he had tried the mettle of his Genevese antagonist. Rarely has battle been forced upon an army after a greater number of fruitless attempts to avoid it than those made by the French ecclesiastics, backed by the alternate solicitations512 and menaces of Pius the Fourth, and Philip of Spain. Such reluctance was ominous.
On the other side, the feeling of the reformers was, indeed, confidence in the excellence of the cause they represented, but confidence not unmingled with anxiety.
Diffidence of Beza.
A letter written by Beza only a few days before affords us a glimpse of the secret apprehensions of the Protestants. "If Martyr come in time," he wrote Calvin, "that is, if he greatly hasten, his arrival will refresh us exceedingly. We shall have to do with veteran sophists, and, although we be confident that the simple truth of the Word will prove victorious, yet it is not in the power of every man instantly to resolve their artifices and allege the sayings of the Fathers. Moreover, it will be necessary for us to make such answers that we shall not seem, to the circle of princes and others that stand by, to be seeking to evade the question. In short, when I contemplate these difficulties, I become exceedingly anxious, and much do I deplore our fault in neglecting the excellent instruments which God has given us, and thus in a manner appearing to tempt His goodness. Meanwhile, however, we have resolved not to retreat, and we trust in Him who has promised us a wisdom which the world cannot resist.... Direct us, my father, like children by your counsels in your absence from us, since you cannot be present with us. For, simple children I daily see and feel that we are, from whose mouth I hope that our wonderful Lord will perfect the praise of His wisdom."11121112 Letter of Beza to Calvin, Aug. 30, 1561, ap. Baum, ii., App., 59.
L'Hospital explains the objects in view.
The king opened the conference with a few words before the Protestants were admitted,11131113 The speeches of Charles and L'Hospital seem to have been delivered before the introduction of Beza; cf. Hist. ecclés. des églises réf., i. 316. Prof. Baum, following La Place, 157, and De Thou, iii. 65-67, represents them as having been delivered subsequently. Theodor Beza, ii. 238. and then called upon the chancellor to explain more fully the objects of the gathering. Hereupon Michel de L'Hospital, seating himself, by Charles's direction, on a stool at the king's right hand, set forth at considerable length the religious dissensions which had fallen upon France, and the ineffectual measures to which513 the king and his predecessors had from time to time resorted. Severity and mildness had proved equally futile. Dangerous division had crept in. He begged the assembled prelates to heal this disease of the body politic, to appease the anger of God visibly resting upon the kingdom by every means in their power; especially to reform any abuses contrary to God's word and the ordinances of the apostles, which the sloth or ignorance of the clergy might have introduced, and thus remove every excuse which their enemies might possess for slandering them and disturbing the peace of the country. As the chief cause of sedition was diversity of religious opinion, Charles had acceded to the advice of two previous assemblies, and had granted a safe-conduct to the ministers of the new sect, hoping that an amicable conference with them would be productive of great advantage. He, therefore, prayed the company to receive them as a father receives his children, and to take pains to instruct them. Then, at all events, it could not be said, as had so often been said in the past, that the dissenters had been condemned without a hearing. Minutes of the proceedings carefully made and disseminated through the kingdom would prove that the doctrine they professed had been refuted, not by violence or authority, but by cogent reasoning. Charles would continue to be the protector of the Gallican Church.11141114 La Place, 158; Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 314, 315. I have alluded to the fact, first noticed by Prof. Soldan, that De Thou and others have placed here a speech which was in reality delivered five or six weeks earlier; while not only they, but also the accurate La Place and the author of the Histoire ecclés. des égl. réf., have done the same by the king's speech, and a rejoinder of Tournon to L'Hospital's address.
The Huguenots are summoned.
These preliminaries over, the Protestants were summoned. Conducted by the captain of the royal guard, they entered and advanced toward the king, until their farther progress was arrested by a railing which separated the space allotted to the king and his courtiers, with the assembled prelates, from the lower end of the hall filled by a crowd of curious spectators.11151115 Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 316. No place had been assigned the Protestants where they might sit during the colloquy on an equality with their opponents, the Romish ecclesiastics. They514 were subjected to the paltry indignity of appearing in the guise of culprits brought to the bar to be judged and condemned. In truth, the spirit of conciliation which L'Hospital had been at so much pains to inculcate had found little welcome in the breast of the prelates. "Here come the Genevese curs," exclaimed a cardinal as the reformers made their appearance. "Certainly," quietly retorted Beza, whose ear had caught the insulting expression, turning to the quarter whence it came, "faithful dogs are needed in the Lord's sheep-fold to bark at the rapacious wolves."11161116 This interesting incident Prof. Baum discovered in a fragmentary MS. in the remarkable collection of the late Col. Tronchin. Theodor Beza, ii. 238. The text is thus given in the Bulletin xiii. (1864) 284: "M. de Besze, entrant dans la conférence de Poissy avec un ministre de Genève, un cardinal dit: Voici les chiens de Genève! M. de Besze, l'ayant entendu, répondit: Il est bien nécessaire que, dans la bergerie du Seigneur, il y ait des chiens pour abboyer contre les loups."
Beza's prayer and address.
When the twelve ministers had reached the bar, Theodore Beza, at their request, addressed the king: "Sire, since the issue of all enterprises, both great and small, depends upon the aid and favor of our God, and chiefly when these enterprises concern the interests of His service and matters which surpass the capacity of our understandings, we hope that your Majesty will not find it amiss or strange if we begin by the invocation of His name, supplicating Him after the following manner."
As the orator pronounced these words, he reverently kneeled upon the floor. His colleagues and the delegates of the churches followed his example. A deep solemnity fell upon the assembly. According to one account of the scene, even the Roman cardinals stood with uncovered heads while the Huguenot minister prayed. Catharine de' Medici joined with still greater devotion, while King Charles remained seated on his throne.11171117 "Es sind auch die Cardinäl, diewyl er geredt, mit entdektem Houpt gestunden, und beede mal, diewyl sy gebätet, hat sich die alte Künigin niderglassen und mit gebätet, der Künig aber ist bliben still sitzen." Letter of Haller to Bullinger, Berne, Sept. 23, 1561, ap. Baum, ii., App., 73. After a moment's pause, Beza, with hands stretched out to heaven, according to the custom of the reformed churches of515 France,11181118 Baum, ii. 245. commenced his prayer with the confession of sins which in the Genevan liturgy of Calvin formed the introduction to the worship of the Lord's day.11191119 La Place, 159; Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf. i. 316. The current, but erroneous belief, that this confession was first composed by Theodore Beza at the Colloquy of Poissy, has already been noticed. It had been printed, as we have seen (ante, c. viii. p. 343), in the Geneva Liturgy as early as in 1542; and earlier still in that of Strasbourg. It was already the favorite of martyrs and confessors. Jean Vernou, in 1515, recited it at the estrapade. "Verum antequam mactaretur," says Jean Crespin, "preces ad Deum fudit, ita exorsus: 'Domine Deus et Pater omnipotens ego certe coram sacrosancta majestate tua ex animo et syncere agnosco me peccatorem esse miserrimum,' et cætera quæ in precationum formula recitantur statim initio." The margin reads: "Initium precum solennium Geneuæ." Actiones et monimenta martyrum, Genevæ 1560, fol. 321.
"Lord God! Almighty and everlasting Father, we acknowledge and confess before Thy holy majesty that we are miserable sinners, conceived and born in guilt and corruption, prone to do evil, unfit for any good; who, by reason of our depravity, transgress without end Thy holy commandments. Wherefore we have drawn upon ourselves by Thy just sentence, condemnation and death. Nevertheless, O Lord, with heartfelt sorrow we repent and deplore our offences; and we condemn ourselves and our evil ways, with a true repentance beseeching that Thy grace may relieve our distress. Be pleased, therefore, to have compassion upon us, O most gracious God! Father of all mercies; for the sake of thy son Jesus Christ, our Lord and only Redeemer. And, in removing our guilt and pollution, set us free and grant us the daily increase of Thy Holy Spirit; to the end that, acknowledging from our inmost hearts our unrighteousness, we may be touched with a sorrow that shall work true repentance, and that this may mortify all our sins, and thereby bear the fruit of holiness and righteousness that shall be well-pleasing to thee, through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord and only Saviour.
"And, inasmuch as it pleaseth Thee this day so far to exhibit Thy favor to Thy poor and unprofitable servants, as to enable them with freedom, and in the presence of the king whom Thou hast set over them, and of the most noble and illustrious516 company on earth, to declare that which Thou hast given them to know of Thy holy Truth, may it please Thee to continue the course of Thy goodness and loving kindness, O God and Father of lights, and so to illumine our understandings, guide our affections, and form them to all teachableness, and so to order our words, that in all simplicity and truth, after having conceived, according to the measure which it shall please Thee to grant unto us, the secrets Thou hast revealed to men for their salvation, we may be able, both with heart and voice to propose that which may conduce to the honor and glory of Thy holy name, and the prosperity and greatness of our king and of all those who belong to him, with the rest and comfort of all Christendom, and especially of this kingdom. O Almighty Lord and Father, we ask Thee all these things in the name and for the sake of Jesus Christ, Thy Son our Saviour, as He Himself hath taught us to seek them, saying: 'Our Father, which art in heaven, etc.'"11201120 La Place, 159; Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 316.
His conciliatory remarks.
Having concluded his petitions, Beza arose from his knees, and addressed the king. His speech was graceful and conciliatory.11211121 "De Bèze portant la parole pour tous les autres, commença et continua longuement sa rémonstrance en assez doux termes, se soûmettant souventefois, si l'on montroit par la Sainte Escriture," etc. Letter of Catharine de' Medici to the Bishop of Rennes, Sept. 14, 1561, apud Le Laboureur, Add. Castelnau, i. 733. It was a great privilege, he said, for a faithful and affectionate subject to be permitted to see his prince, and thus to be more clearly impressed with the fealty and submission which is his due. Still happier was he if permitted to be seen by his prince, and, what was more important, to be heard, and finally accepted and approved by him. To these great advantages a part of Charles's very humble and obedient subjects, much to their regret, had long been strangers. It were sufficient ground for gratitude to God to the end of their days that now at length they were granted an audience before the king and so noble and illustrious a company. But, when the same day that admitted them into the royal presence also invited, or rather kindly and gently constrained them with517 common voice to confess the name of their God, and declare the obedience they owed Him, their minds were so incompetent to conceive, their tongues so inadequate to utter the promptings of their hearts, that they preferred to confess their impotence by modest silence rather than to disparage so great a benefit by the defect of their words. Yet one of the points they had so long desired was still unfulfilled, and that the most important, namely the acceptance of their service as agreeable. Would to God that so happy a termination might by their coming be put, not so much to their past sufferings—of which the memory was well-nigh extinguished by this joyful day—as to the troubles that had afflicted the kingdom in consequence of religious dissensions, and to the attending ruin of so great a number of the king's poor subjects.
The Huguenots victims of calumny.
Points of agreement.
His declaration as to the body of Christ.
What, then, had hitherto prevented the Huguenots from obtaining a boon so long and ardently desired? It was the belief entertained by some that they were, through ambition or restless love of innovation, the enemies of all concord, and the impression in the minds of others that their arrogance demanded impossible conditions of peace. The prejudice arising from this and other sources to which he avoided an allusion, lest he might seem to be reopening old wounds, was so strong, that the reformed would have good reason to give way to despair, were they not sustained by a good conscience, by their assurance of the gentleness and equity of Charles and the illustrious princes of the blood, and by a charitable presumption that the prelates with whom they had come to confer were disposed to exert themselves with them in the common endeavor rather to make the truth clear than to obscure it. Respecting the extent of the differences between the prelatic and the reformed beliefs, those who represented them as of insignificant importance, and those who made them as great as between the creed of Christians and the creed of Jews or Moslems, were equally mistaken. If in some of the principal articles of the Christian faith there was full agreement, on others, alas! there was an opposition between their tenets. The orator here enumerated in considerable detail the articles of the ancient creeds in which the Huguenot, not less than the Roman Catholic,518 professed his concurrence. What then, some one would say, are not these the terms of our belief? In what are we at variance? To which inquiry the true answer was, that the two sides differed not only because they gave some of these articles divergent interpretations, but because the Church had built upon this foundation a structure that comported little with it, "as if the Christian religion were an edifice which was never finished." To speak with greater detail, the reformed maintained, in opposition to the Romish theory, that there could be no satisfaction for sin save in Christ, and that to suppose the blessed Saviour to pay but a part of the price of man's salvation, would be to rob him of his perfect mercy, and of his offices of prophet, priest, and king. They agreed with the Romanists neither in their definition of justifying faith, nor in their account of its origin and effects. The same might be said respecting good works. And, again, as to the Holy Scriptures, they received the Old and New Testaments as the word of God and the complete revelation of all that is necessary for salvation, and consequently, as the touchstone for testing the Fathers, the councils, and the traditions of the Church. Two points remained for consideration: the sacraments and the government of the Church. "We are agreed, in our opinion," said Beza, "regarding the meaning of the word sacrament. The sacraments are visible signs by means of which our union with our Lord Jesus Christ is not merely signified or set forth, but is truly offered to us on the Lord's side, and therefore confirmed, sealed, and, as it were, engraved by the Holy Spirit's efficiency in those who by a true faith apprehend Him who is thus signified and presented to them. We, consequently, agree that in the sacraments there must necessarily supervene a heavenly, a supernatural change. For we do not assert that the water of holy baptism is simply water, but that it is a true sacrament of our regeneration, and of the washing of our souls in the blood of Jesus Christ. So also we do not say that the bread is simply bread, but the sacrament of the precious body of our Lord Jesus Christ which was offered up for us. Yet we do not say that this change takes place in the substance of the signs, but in the use and end for which they are ordained." The reformer519 then touched upon the doctrines of transubstantiation and consubstantiation; both of which he rejected. "If then," he continued, "some one asks us, whether we make Jesus Christ absent from His Holy Supper, we answer that we do not. But, if we regard the local distance (as we must do, when His corporeal presence and His humanity distinctly considered are in question), we say that His body is as far removed from the bread and wine as the highest heaven is from the earth; since, as to ourselves, we are on the earth, and the sacraments also; while, as to Him, His flesh is in heaven, so glorified that his glory, as says St. Augustine, has not taken away from Him the nature, but only the infirmity of a true body."
Outcry of the theologians of the Sorbonne.
The last words of the sentence were inaudible, except to those who were close to the speaker. The words, "We say that His body is as far removed from the bread and wine as the highest heaven is from the earth," had fired the train to the magazine of concealed impatience and anger underlying the studied external calmness of the prelatical body. An explosion instantly ensued. The cry, "Blasphemavit! Blasphemavit Deum!" resounded from every quarter.11221122 "His solumodo verbis Cardinales atque Episcopi usque adeo exasperati atque exacerbati sunt, ut in hæc verba, orationem ipsius interpellates, proruperint: blasphemavit, blasphemavit Deum! Sed eorum adversis admurmurationibus D. Beza minime perturbatus, eodem vultu," etc. Letter of Joh.. Guil. Stuckius to Conrad Hubert, Sept. 18, 1561, Baum, ii., App., 66. Beza's voice was drowned in the noisy expressions of disapproval by which the theologians of the Sorbonne sought to testify their own unimpeachable orthodoxy.11231123 "Da Beza eine schöne Oration gethon, darinn er kurtz perstringiert alle strytigen Artikel, und als er letstlich kom uff den Artikel von der Gegenwirtikeit Christi im Sacrament, und under anderm gesagt das sige so veer von einander als der Himmel von der Erden, habend die Sorbonischen angfangen klopfen, rütschen, brummlen, das nieman nüt mer mögen hören, dess die alte Königin übel zufriden gsyn. Dessgleichen auch der Cardinal von Lutringen und sy gheissen in Stille losen, man werde sy doch hernach auch gutwilliklich verhören." Letter of Haller to Bullinger, Sept. 25, 1561, Baum, ii., App., 73. "Cela fut trouvé si nouveau et estrange entre les prélats, que soubdain ils commencèrent tous à murmurer et faire un grand bruict; lequel toutesfois estant aucunement appaisé," etc. La Place, 167, 168. "Hic enim mussitare Cardinales et Episcopi, et tantum non vestes scindere." Letter of Martyr to the Senate of Zurich, Sept. 12, 1561, Baum, ii., App., 63. It seemed for the520 moment as if the ecclesiastics would continue their repetition of the words and actions of the Jewish high-priest in the ancient Sanhedrim, and break up the conference with the exclamation: "What further need have we of witnesses? Behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy." Some of the prelates arose as if to leave, and Cardinal Tournon went so far as to address himself to Charles and beg him either to impose silence upon Beza, or to permit him and his brother ecclesiastics to retire. But no notice was taken of his request.11241124 Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 327. On the contrary, the queen and the Cardinal of Lorraine felt constrained to express their displeasure at this outburst of passion on the part of the prelates, and their desire that the conference should proceed.11251125 Letter of Haller, ubi supra.
When the storm had somewhat spent its violence, and comparative silence had been restored, Beza, in no wise discomposed by the uproar, resumed his interrupted discourse. He deemed it unnecessary to dwell upon the matter of the administration of holy baptism, he said, for none could confound the reformers with the Anabaptists, who found no more determined enemies than they were. With respect to the other five sacraments of the Romish Church, while the reformed refused to designate them by that name, they believed that among themselves true confirmation was established, penitence enjoined, marriage celebrated, ordination conferred, and the visitation of the sick and dying practised, conformably to God's Word. The last point—the government of the Church—Beza despatched with a few words; for, appealing to the prelates themselves to testify to the results of their recent deliberations, he described the structure ecclesiastic as one in which everything was so perverted, everything in such confusion and ruin, that scarce could the best architects in the world, whether they considered the present order or had regard to life and morals, recognize the remains, or detect the traces of that ancient edifice so symmetrically laid out and reared by the apostles. He closed by declaring the fervent desire of those whose spokesman he was521 for the restoration of the Church to its pristine purity, and by making on their behalf a warm profession of loyalty and devotion to their earthly king. As he concluded, Beza and his associates again kneeled in prayer. Then rising, he presented anew to Charles the confession of faith of the reformed churches, begging him to receive it as the basis of the present conference between their delegates and the Romish prelates.11261126 The admirable speech of Theodore Beza is given word for word by La Place, 159-167, and somewhat modernized by the Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 316-327. Cf. De Thou, iii. 67, 68; Castelnau, 1. iii., c. 4; Abbé Bruslart, Mém. de Condé, i. 51; Letters of Stuck, Haller, and Martyr, ubi supra. Summa eorum quæ a die 22. Augusti usque ad 15. Septembr. in aula regis Galliæ acta sunt, apud F. C. Schlosser, Leben des Theodor de Beza und des Peter Martyr Vermili (Heidelberg, 1809), Appendix, 355-359. Discours des Actes de Poissy, ubi supra, 652-657.
Cardinal Tournon tries to cut short the conference.
As soon as Beza had ended his speech, Cardinal Tournon, the oldest member of the Papal consistory in France, and presiding officer in the convocation of the prelates, rose, trembling with anger, and addressed the king. It was only by express command of Charles, he said, that the prelates had consented to hear "these new evangelists." They had hesitated from conscientious scruples, fearing, with good reason, as the event had proved, that they would utter words unworthy of entering the ears of a very Christian king, and calculated to offend the good people around him. It was for this reason that the ecclesiastical convocation had instructed him, in such case, humbly to entreat his Majesty to give no credit to the words of him who had spoken for "those of the new religion," and to suspend his judgment until he had heard the answer they intended to give. But for their respect for the king, he said, the prelates, on hearing the abominable blasphemies pronounced in their hearing, would have risen and broken off the colloquy. He prayed Charles with the greatest humility to persevere in the faith of his fathers, and invoked the Virgin Mary and the blessed saints of paradise that thus it might be.11271127 Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 327; La Place, 168; De Thou, iii. 68; Letter of Haller, ubi supra; Actes de Poissy, Recueil des choses mém., 657, 658.522
How long the age-stricken cardinal, the active persecutor of an entire generation of reformers, would have proceeded in his diatribe against the "blasphemy" of the Genevese doctor, is doubtful. He was cut short in the midst of it by the queen mother, who, in a decided tone, informed him that the plan of the conference had been adopted only after mature deliberation, with the advice of the council of state and by consent of parliament. No change or innovation was contemplated, but the appeasing of the troubles incident upon diversity of religious sentiment, and the restoration to the right path of such as had erred. The matter in hand was to demonstrate the truth by means of the simple Word of God, which should be the sole rule. "We are here," she said, "for the purpose of hearing you on both sides, and of considering the matter on its own merits. Therefore, reply to the speech of Sieur de Bèze which you have just heard." "The speech was too long for us to undertake to answer it on the spur of the moment," responded Tournon, in a more tractable tone; but he promised that, if a copy of it were given to them in writing, a suitable refutation would soon be forthcoming on the part of the prelates.11281128 The response of the queen is concisely given by La Place, the Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., the Actes de Poissy, and De Thou (ubi supra); but the graphic account upon which the text is based is found in the letter of Haller to Bullinger, Sept. 25, 1561, which Prof. Baum discovered at Zurich, and has published in the volume of documents which figures as an appendix to the second volume of his extremely valuable biography of Beza. It is superfluous for me to acknowledge formally my obligations to this rich storehouse of original authorities, since the frequent references that I have already made, and shall doubtless have occasion for some time to make, to its separate documents, will sufficiently attest the high estimate I place upon its value. The correspondence of the reformers is always an important commentary upon the contemporaneous history. In the present instance, much of the most trustworthy information is derived from it. Prof. Baum's own narrative is admirable (Book iv., c. 5). Thus the conference broke up for the day.
It could not be denied that Beza had spoken with great effect. For the first time in forty years the Reformation had obtained a partial hearing. The time-honored fashion of condemning its professors without even the formality of a trial had for once been violated; and, to the523 satisfaction of some and the dismay of many, it was found that the arguments that could be alleged in its behalf were neither few nor insignificant. The Huguenots had acquired a new position in the eyes of the court; that was certain. They were not a few seditious persons, who must be put down. They were not a handful of enthusiasts, whom it were folly to attempt to reason with. The child had become a full-grown man, whose prejudices—if prejudices they were—must be overcome by calm argument, rather than removed by chastisement.11291129 "Car d'y proceder à present par la force," writes Catharine de' Medici at this very time, "il s'y voit un si éminent peril, pour estre ce mal penetré si avant comme il est, que je n'en suis en sorte du monde conseillée par ceux qui aiment le repos de cet Estat." Letter of Sept. 14th, apud Le Laboureur, i. 734. If the studied arrangement of the bar at the Colloquy of Poissy had been employed by the petty malice of their opponents in order to give them the aspect of convicted culprits, public opinion, unbiassed by such solemn trifling, regarded the disputants as equals in the eye of the law, and attempted to derive from the bearing of the champions some impression concerning the justice of their respective positions.
The change in the basis for the settlement of the controversy was not less apparent. For an entire generation the advocates of Protestantism had been pressing the claims of the Holy Scriptures as the ultimate authority for the decision of all doubtful questions. The only reply was a reference to the dogmas of the Church, and the demand of an unconditional submission to them. Beza had only reiterated the offer, made a thousand times by his fellow-reformers, to surrender at once his religious position should it be rendered untenable by means of proofs drawn from the Scriptures. Cardinal Tournon had again made the trite rejoinder of the clergy; but sensible persons were tired of the unsatisfactory repetition. Catharine had given expression to the peremptory requisition of all enlightened France when she announced the sole appeal as lying to the "simple Word of God."
Brilliant success of Beza.
From this exhibition of his brilliant oratorical powers, and from those displays that shortly followed, Theodore Beza ac524quired the highest reputation both with friend and foe. Even those who would have it that "he deceived the people," that his acquirements were superficial, that he lacked good judgment, and, on the whole, had "a very hideous soul," could not help admitting that he was of a fine presence, ready wit, and keen intellect, and that his excellent choice of language and ready utterance entitled him to the credit of eloquence.11301130 The testimony of Marc' Antonio Barbaro is the more interesting from the reluctance he manifests to say any good of the reformer, whom he blames for a great part of the progress of the Huguenots in France. "È d'assai bello aspetto, ma d'animo molto brutto, perciocchè, oltra l'eresie sue, è sedizioso e pieno di vizii e di scelerità, che non racconto per brevità. Ha vivo spirito, e ingegno acuto, ma non è prudente, nè ha ponto di giudizio. Mostra d'esser eloquente, perchè parla assai con belle parole e prontamente," etc. Rel. des Amb. Vén., i. 52. On the other hand, nothing could exceed the admiration and love excited by his ardent espousal of their cause in the breasts of the Protestants in all parts of the kingdom. His appearance at Poissy became their favorite episode in recent history. His portrait was hung up in many a chamber. He was almost adored by whole multitudes of Frenchmen,11311131 "Ha operato tanto con la sua lingua, che non solamente ha persuaso infiniti, massimamente dei nobili e grandi, ma è quasi adorato da molti nel regno, i quali tengono nelle camere la figura sua." Ib., ubi supra. as one whom noble birth, learning, and brilliant prospects had not deterred from following the dictates of his conscientious convictions; whom security in a foreign land had not rendered indifferent to the interests of the land of his birth; whose persuasive eloquence had won new adherents to the cause of the oppressed from among the rich and noble; who had maintained the truth unabashed in the presence of the king and "of the most illustrious company on earth."
His frankness justified.
Nor will the candid student of history, if he but consider the attitude of the prelates at the colloquy of Poissy, be more inclined than were the Protestants of his own day to censure Theodore Beza for any degree of alleged injudiciousness exhibited in that celebrated sentence in his speech which provoked the outburst of indignation on the part of Tournon and his colleagues. What, forsooth, had their rev525erences come to the colloquy expecting to hear from the lips of the reformed orators? If not the most orthodox of sentiments—more orthodox than many sentiments whose proclamation had been tolerated in their own private convocation—was there not a moderate allowance of hypocrisy in their pretended horror at the impiety of the heretic Beza? For certainly it was scarcely to be anticipated by the most sanguine that he would profess an unwavering belief in the transmutation of the substance of the bread and wine into the very body and blood of Jesus Christ that suffered on the cross; seeing that for a little more than a third of a century those of whom he was the avowed representative had, it must be admitted, pretty clearly testified to the contrary on a thousand "estrapades" from the Place de Grève to the remotest corner of France. Surely this extreme sensitiveness, this refined orthodoxy, unable to endure the simple enunciation of an opinion differing from their own on the part of an avowed opponent, savored a little of affectation; the more so as it came from prelates whose solicitude for their flocks had been manifested more in the way of seeking to obtain as large a number of folds as possible, than in the way of giving any special pastoral supervision to one, and who found a more congenial residence at the dissolute court where pleasures and preferment could best be obtained, than in obscure dioceses where a rude peasantry were thirsting for instruction in the first rudiments of a Christian education. The truth was—and no one was so blind as not to see it—that the Romish prelates had come determined to seize the first good opportunity to break up the colloquy, because from the colloquy they had good reason to apprehend serious injury to their interests. Nothing short of a complete betrayal of his cause by Beza could have precluded this.11321132 So Calvin's eye saw in an instant, and he applauded Beza's boldness. "Your speech is now before us," he wrote to Beza, Sept. 24th, "in which God wonderfully directed your mind and your tongue. The testimony which stirred up the bile of the holy fathers could not but be given, unless you had been willing basely to tergiversate and to expose yourself to their taunts." "I wonder that they were thrown into agitation respecting this matter alone, since they were not less severely hit in other places. It is a stupid assertion that the conference was broken off in consequence of this ground of offence. For those who now, by rabidly laying hold of one ground, after a certain fashion subscribe to the rest of the doctrine, would have found out a hundred other grounds. This also has, therefore, turned out happily." Calvini Epistolæ, Opera, ix. 157.526 Had he been never so cautious, he could not have avoided giving some handle to those who were watching him so closely. Not the nature of the sentiment he expressed, but the danger lest the prelates might take advantage of it to refuse peremptorily to proceed with the colloquy, was the true ground of Catharine's displeasure.11331133 To her ambassador in Germany, instructed to defend her course in convening the conference, however, she purposely exaggerated her indignation, and gave a different coloring to the facts of the case. "Mais estant enfin (de Bèze) tombé sur le fait de la Cene, il s'oublia en une comparaison si absurde et tant offensive des oreilles de l'assistance, que pen s'en fallut, que je ne luy imposasse silence, et que je ne les renvoyasse tous, sans les laisser passer plus avant." She accounts for the fact that she did not stop him, by noticing that he was evidently near the end of his speech, and by the consideration that, "as they are accustomed to take advantage of everything 'pour la confirmation et persuasion de leur doctrine,' they would rather have gained by such a command; and moreover, that those who had heard his arguments would have gone away imbued with and persuaded of his doctrine, without hearing the answer that might be made." Letter of Cath. of Sept. 14th, ubi supra. Prof. Baum well remarks that "the last words furnish the most irrefragable proof of the great and convincing impression which the speech in general had made." Theod. Beza, ii. 263, note. In order to remove this, so far as it might be based upon any misapprehension of the import of his words, Beza addressed to the queen, on the next day, a dignified but conciliatory letter of explanation.11341134 It is inserted in La Place, 168, 169, and Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 328-330; De Thou, iii. (liv. 28) 69. Letter of Cath., ubi supra.
The prelates' notion of a conference.
A full week elapsed before the Cardinal of Lorraine was ready to make his reply. Meantime the prelates had met, and had resolved that, instead of embracing a discussion of the entire field of controversy between the two churches, the conference should be restricted to two points—the nature of the church and the sacraments. It was even proposed that a formula of faith should be drawn up and submitted to the Protestant ministers. If they refused to subscribe to it, they were to be formally excommunicated, and the conference abruptly broken off. Such was the crude notion of a colloquy conceived by the prelates. No discussion at all, if pos527sible!11351135 "Would that he had been dumb, or that we had been deaf!" the Cardinal of Lorraine is said to have exclaimed in the prelatic consultation. La Place and Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., ubi supra; J. de Serres, i. 273. Otherwise only on those points where agreement was most difficult, and it was easiest to excite the odium theologicum of the by-standers. On the other hand, when this came to the ears of the Protestants, they felt constrained to draw up another solemn protest to the king against the folly of making the prelates judges in a suit in which they appeared also as one of the parties—a course so impolitic that it would rob the colloquy of all the good effects that had been expected to flow from it.11361136 La Place, 170; Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 330, 331, where the protest is reproduced.
Peter Martyr arrives.
The Cardinal of Lorraine's reply.
The Huguenots to wait for their faith to grow old.
The remonstrance was not without its effect. On the next day, the sixteenth of September, the same assemblage was again gathered in the conventual refectory of Poissy, to hear the reply of the Cardinal of Lorraine. The reformers appeared as on the previous occasion; but their ranks had received a notable accession in the venerable Peter Martyr, just arrived from Zurich. The prelates had, it is true, objected to the admission of a native of Italy; for the invitation, it was urged, had been extended only to Frenchmen. But the queen, who had greeted her distinguished countryman with flattering marks of attention, interfered in his behalf, and, at the last moment, announced it to be her desire that he should appear at the colloquy.11371137 "Me excludere volebant adversarii, ne interessem, tanquam hominem peregrinum. Regina tamen mater per Condæum principem eo ipso articulo, cum profisciscendum erat, evocavit et adesse voluit." Letter of Martyr to the Senate of Zurich, Sept. 19, 1561, Baum, ii., App., 67. The same trickery that had brought Beza to the bar, in order to give him the appearance of a criminal put upon trial, rather than that of the representative of a religious party claiming to possess the unadulterated truth, assigned Charles of Lorraine a pulpit among his brother prelates, where, with a theologian more proficient in theological controversy at his elbow, he could assume the air of a judge giving his final sentence respecting the matters in dispute.11381138 Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 332. His long exordium was devoted to a consideration of the royal and the sacer528dotal authority, each of which he in turn extolled. Then passing to the particular occasion of the convocation of so goodly a number of archbishops, bishops, and theologians—to all of whom he professed himself inferior in intelligence, knowledge, and eloquence—he expressed most sincere pity for the persons who a week ago had, by the king's command, been introduced into this assembly—persons long separated from the prelates by a discordant profession of faith and by insubordination, but showing, according to their own assertions, some desire to be instructed by returning to this their native land and to the house of their fathers, who stood ready to receive and embrace them as children so soon as they should recognize the Church's authority. He would utter no reproaches, but compassionate their infirmity. He would recall, not reject; unite, not separate. The prelates had gladly heard the confession of faith the Huguenots had made, and heartily wished that, as they agreed in the words of that document, so they might also agree in the interpretation of its articles. Dismissing the consideration of the remaining points, as requiring more time than could be given on a single day, the cardinal undertook to prove only two positions, viz.: that the Church is not an invisible, but a visible organization, and that the Lord Jesus Christ is really and bodily present in the Holy Supper. He then called upon the reformed ministers, if, in their views respecting the eucharist, they could accord neither with the Latin Church, nor with the Greek, nor with the Lutherans of Germany, at least to seek that solitude for which they seemed to long. "If you have so little desire to approach our faith and our practice," he said, "go also farther from us, and disturb no longer the flocks over which you have no legitimate charge, according to the authority which we have of God; and, allowing your new opinions, if God permit, to grow as old as our doctrine and traditions have grown, you will restore peace to many troubled consciences and leave your native land at rest." He urged Charles to cling steadfastly to the faith of his ancestors, of whom none had gone astray, and who had transmitted to him the proud title of "Very Christian" and of "First Son of the Church." He exhorted the queen mother and529 his other noble hearers to emulate the glorious examples set for their imitation by Clotilde, who brought Clovis to the Christian religion, and by their own illustrious ancestry; and he concluded by declaring the unalterable determination of the ecclesiastics of the Gallican Church never to forsake the holy, true, and Catholic doctrine which they preached, and to sustain which they would not spare their blood nor their very lives.11391139 Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 332-348; La Place, 170-177; De Thou, iii. 70; J. de Serres, i. 273-280. The impression made by the cardinal's speech upon his Romanist and Protestant hearers differed widely. According to the Abbé Bruslart (Mém. de Condé, i. 52), he spoke "en si bons et élégans termes, et d'une si bonne grace et asseurance, que nos adversaires mesmes l'admiroient." Stuck makes him speak "admodum inepte" (ap. Baum, ii., App., 66); while Beza writes: "Nihil unquam audivi impudentius, nihil ineptius.... Cætera ejusmodi quæ certe mihi nauseam moverunt" (Ib., 63, 64). Peter Martyr judged more leniently (Ib., 67, 68). It is, therefore, hardly likely that Beza said, as Dr. Henry White alleges without referring to his authority (Massacre of St. Bartholomew, 64); "Had I the Cardinal's eloquence I should hope to convert half France."
Tournon's new demand.
Beza asks a hearing.
Such was the substance of the speech of Charles of Lorraine, so long heralded by his brother ecclesiastics and by the devout Roman Catholics of the land as the sure refutation of all the heresies which the reformers might advance. It was fitting that some signal proof of its success should be given. Scarcely had Lorraine ceased when the whole body of prelates arose and gathered around the throne. Tournon was again their spokesman. He declared the full approval with which the Gallican bishops regarded the address of the Cardinal of Lorraine. They were ready, if need be, to sign it with their own blood, for it was in accordance with the will of Christ and of his bride, our Mother Holy Church. They begged Charles to give it full credit, and persevere in the Catholic faith of his fathers. Let the Protestants sign what the cardinal had said, as a preliminary to their receiving further instruction. If they refused, let Charles purge his very Christian realm of them, so that there might be only "une foy, une loy, un roy."11401140 La Place, 178; Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., ubi supra; Jean de Serres, i. 280; De Thou, iii. 71. He was followed at once by Theodore Beza, who, on the contrary, urged his Majesty to grant him the lib530erty of replying on the very spot to the arguments of his opponent. But Catharine, after a brief consultation with the members of the royal council seated near her, denied the request, and adjourned the discussion until another occasion.11411141 La Place, etc., ubi supra; J. de Serres, i. 281.
Advancing shadows of civil war.
The opportunity thus promised, however, seemed distant and doubtful. The determination of the prelates to have nothing to do with any project for a fair and equal conference was undisguised, and rumors were frequent and ominous that the queen would yield before their resolute attitude. The decision of the reformers, under these circumstances, was soon taken: it was, that, if these repeated delays were persisted in, they would leave the court, protesting against the injustice which had been manifested to them and to their cause.11421142 "Nobis certum est," says Beza in a letter of Sept. 17th, "vel mox congredi vel protestatione facta discedere, si pergant diem de die ducere." Baum, ii., App., 64. Yet their anxiety was great. That dark cloud of portentous aspect could be descried by all sharp-sighted observers. It was the approaching storm of civil war, every moment rising higher above the horizon.11431143 "Quid novi sperare possim non video. Nempe vel ipsa necessitas aliquid extorquebit, vel, quod Deus avertat, expectanda sunt omnia belli civilis incommoda. Quotidie ex diversis regni partibus multa ad nos tristia afferuntur in utramque partem, quoniam utrinque peccatur plerisque locis." Letter of Beza, Sept. 17th, ubi supra. In a similar strain Stuck writes on the next day: "In Gascony and Normandy scarcely an image is any longer to be seen; masses have ceased to be said. Undoubtedly, unless the liberty of preaching and hearing the Gospel with impunity be granted, there is great reason to fear an intestine war." Baum, ii., App., 67. Cf. Summa eorum, etc., apud Schlosser, Leben des Theodor de Beza, Anhang, 358, 359. Even now its advent was heralded by the anarchy pervading entire provinces—a righteous retribution for the sanguinary legislation and the yet more barbarous executions ordered by the courts of law, to repress the free action of the human intellect in the most noble sphere in which its energies could be exercised—the region of religious thought.
Another conference reluctantly conceded, September 24th.
Beza's reply to the Cardinal of Lorraine.
Claude de Sainctes.
Another tedious week passed by. Again, in view of the threats of an abrupt termination of the colloquy, the Huguenot ministers petitioned Charles to give them a patient hearing;531 reminding him of the distance they had come—some of their number even from foreign lands, relying on his royal word for a friendly interview with the prelates of his kingdom—in order to exhibit the inveterate abuses which the Pope and his agents had introduced into the Church. Other remonstrances of like tenor followed.11441144 La Place, Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., Jean de Serres, etc., ubi supra, Castelnau, l. iii., c. 4. At last, with great reluctance,11451145 No wonder; the prelates had just solemnly decreed, as Abbé Bruslart informs us (Mém. de Condé, i. 52): "Non erat congrediendum cum his qui principia et fundamentum totius nostræ fidei et religionis christianæ negant." Not only so; but they had protested against the heretics being heard, and had declared that whoever conferred with them would be excommunicated! "Disants que ceux qui conféreroient avec eux seroient excommuniés." The reader, if he cannot admire their consistency, will certainly be struck with astonishment at the fortitude of the prelates who, a few hours later, could bring themselves with so little apparent trepidation under the highest censures of the Church. Bruslart goes on to tell us that it was the Cardinal of Lorraine who brought them into this dreadful condemnation, partly hoping to convert the Huguenots, partly to please Catharine de' Medici! the twenty-fourth of September was selected for a third conference. The obstinate resistance of the Romish ecclesiastics gained them one point. The public character of the colloquy was abandoned.11461146 "Mais ce ne fut pas en si grande compagnie qu'auparavant. Car Messieurs les preslats croignoyent que le monde ne fut infecté de nos heresies, qu'ils appellent." Letter of Beza to the Elector Palatine, Oct. 3, 1861, Baum, ii., App., p. 88. The large refectory was exchanged for the small chamber of the prioress. The king was not present. Catharine presided, and Antoine and Jeanne d'Albret, with the members of the royal council, replaced the more numerous assemblage of the previous occasions. Instead of the crowd of prelates whose various and striking dress formed a notable feature of the colloquy, there appeared five or six cardinals, about as many bishops, and fifteen or sixteen theologians of the Sorbonne, laden with thick folios—the writings of the Fathers of the first five centuries, with which the Cardinal of Lorraine still professed his ability to confute the Reformed.11471147 Baum, Theodor Beza, ii. 311, 312. Again the twelve Huguenot ministers were admitted; but the lay depu532ties of the churches were excluded.11481148 Ib., ubi supra, Hist. ecclés., i. 349. Letter of N. des Gallars to the Bishop of London, Sept. 29th, Baum, ii., App., 80. The discussion was long and desultory. Beza began by replying to the first part of the cardinal's speech, and showed that there is an invisible as well as a visible church, and that the marks of the true church are the preaching of God's Word and the right administration of the sacraments. Not a succession of ministry from the apostles, but a succession of doctrine is essential.11491149 Beza's speech is given in full by La Place, 179-189; Hist. eccl. des égl. réf., i. 350-362; and J. de Serres, i. 282-312. See also De Thou, iii. 71, and N. des Gallars, ubi supra. He was followed by a theologian of the Sorbonne, Claude D'Espense, who, after making the gratuitous admission that he wholly disapproved of the persecutions to which the Protestants had been subjected,11501150 "Et hoc quidem prorsus inepte, quia neque conquesti eramus, neque quemquam poterat videri magis accusare, quam eum ipsum [sc. Cardinal Loth.] cui accesserat advocatus." Letter of Beza, Sept. 27th, apud Baum, ii., App., 75. It was Beza's firm belief that D'Espense had been hired by Lorraine to compose his speech of the 16th of September, as well as to defend him on the present occasion. He therefore not inappositely calls him, in this letter to Calvin, "conductitius Balaam." attempted to prove that the Protestant ministers had no "calling" to their office, and that recourse must be had to tradition to explain and supplement the Holy Scriptures. When Beza was about to reply, the floor was seized by a coarse Dominican friar, one Claude de Sainctes, who in a scurrilous speech went over much of the same ground, and, waxing more and more vehement, did not hesitate to assert that tradition stood on a firmer foundation than the Bible itself, which could be perverted to countenance the most opposite doctrines.11511151 La Place, 189, 190; Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 364; Jean de Serres, i. 315; Beza, ubi supra. An hour and a half of precious time was wasted by this unseasonable interruption, which had disgusted friend as well as foe. Then Beza, after remonstrating against the long and irregular character of the discussion, proceeded, amid frequent interruptions, to set forth the views of the reformers respecting the extraordinary vocation which they had received.533
Lorraine demands subscription to the Augsburg Confession.
Beza's home thrust.
But this portion of the debate was soon closed by the Cardinal of Lorraine, who, declaring that the doctrine respecting the Church had been sufficiently considered, proposed the question of the sacraments, asserting that the prelates refused to proceed with the conference until this should be settled. He then demanded of the ministers whether they would subscribe to the Augsburg Confession, which was received by the Protestants of Germany. His object was manifest. He had long since resolved on adopting this course, with the view of either setting the French reformers at war with their brethren beyond the Rhine, or sowing dissension in the ranks of the Huguenots themselves. Beza, however, was not unprepared for the question. He replied by asking whether the cardinal was himself ready to give the Augsburg Confession his unqualified approval. The wily prelate parried this home thrust, and still persisted in his inquiry. Under these circumstances, could the reformers have relied upon the fairness of the conduct of the conference, their course would have been clear. But, aware that their distinct refusal to consider a formula which their opponents were not themselves prepared to adopt would be seized upon as a welcome pretext for abruptly breaking off the colloquy, Beza, after declaring that he and his brethren were deputed by the French churches to maintain their own confession, and that this document alone furnished the proper subject for debate, asked that a copy of the articles which they were required to sign might be furnished him for the deliberation of his fellow-ministers. The request was granted; and, as the session ended, a short extract was handed to him, which asserted the real presence of Christ's body and blood in the sacrament, and its actual reception by those who partook of the holy ordinance.11521152 La Place, 192; Jean de Serres, i. 321-323; Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 370; Beza to Calvin, Baum, ii., App., 77; N. des Gallars to the Bishop of London, ibid., 81; De Thou, iii. 73.
Alternatives presented to the Huguenots.
Beza claims fair play
Two days later the colloquy was renewed. The delay, which had at first been a source of annoyance to the ministers, was now recognized by them as a providential interference in their be534half. What they had only surmised, they now learned with certainty from trustworthy friends. Their hesitation to sign the Augsburg Confession was to be used as a convenient handle for breaking up the conference; their refusal, for involving them in a quarrel with Protestant Germany; their consent, for causing their expulsion from the churches they had betrayed, or splitting those churches up into many parts.11531153 Letter of Beza to Calvin, Sept. 27th, ubi supra. Besides permitting the communication of this information, the break in the conferences (caused by the discovery, on Catharine's part, that the majority of the prelates had resolved to submit a proposition respecting the mass, drawn up in a strictly Romish sense—a refusal to sign which they intended to take as the signal for declining to hold any further intercourse with the Protestants) furnished an opportunity for Montluc, Bishop of Valence—a prelate suspected of Protestant proclivities—and Claude d'Espense, one of the most moderate of the theologians of the Sorbonne, to meet privately, by request of Catharine de' Medici, with Beza and Des Gallars. The result of their interview was the provisional adoption of a declaration on the subject of the eucharist, which, though undoubtedly Protestant in its natural import, was rejected by the rest of the ministers as not sufficiently explicit. Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., ubi supra. See a full account in Baum, Theodor Beza, ii. 342-344. They rightly judged that where there is essential discrepancy of belief, little or nothing can be gained by cloaking it in ambiguous expressions. Theodore Beza opened the discussion by reading the reply which he had carefully prepared by common consent of all his brethren. Never had his oratorical skill been exhibited to better advantage. He began by showing the evident impropriety of introducing, as his opponents had done in the last conference, a discussion of the validity of the divine vocation of the Protestant ministers; for they had come here to confer, not to officiate—much less to witness the institution of the semblance of a penal prosecution against them. The objectionable character of such a debate would be the more manifest, should he address any supposed bishop with whom he was disputing and who had inquired: "By what authority do you preach and administer the sacraments?" and retort by asking him in turn: "Were you elected by the elders of the church of which you are bishop? Did the people seek for you? Were inquiries first made respecting your life, your morals, and your belief?" or,535 "Who ordained you? How much did you pay him?" The answers to such questions would make many a bishop blush. Beza next reminded the cardinal of his promise to confute the Protestants by the testimony of the Fathers of the first five centuries. For a discussion based upon them the ministers had come prepared. But now he brought them a single article on the Lord's Supper, and imperiously said: "Sign this, or we will proceed no farther!" Even were the Huguenots prisoners brought before him for trial, they would not be so treated. Their very office required the prelates to speak differently, for the bishop must be "able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers."
and an amicable conference.
Then turning to the queen mother, Beza reminded her that he and his companions were there, not only for the purpose of submitting a confession of their faith, but to serve God, Charles, and herself, by laboring in all possible ways to appease the troubles that had arisen in connection with religion. To dismiss them without giving them an opportunity for an amicable conference would not be the means of allaying the prevailing disturbances; and those who proposed to do so knew it well. Were the handful of Protestants at Poissy the only persons concerned, there might, in the world's eye, be little likelihood that danger would result from treating them as their enemies desired. But it might please her Majesty to consider that they were here in behalf of a million persons in this realm, in Switzerland, Poland, Germany, England, and Scotland, who watched the proceedings of the colloquy, and who would be astonished to hear, as they would hear, that, instead of such a conference as had been promised, the ministers had received the tenth part of an article, and had been told: "Sign this; otherwise we will proceed no farther." What would be gained if the Protestants did sign it; for, did the prelates agree in the Augsburg Confession? If there was a real desire to confer, let persons be appointed who were willing to meet the Protestants, and let them examine together the Holy Scriptures and the old Fathers of the Christian Church, with the books before them, and let secretaries write out the results of the discussion in an authentic form. Then it would be536 known that the ministers had not come to sow troubles, but to promote accord.11541154 Beza's address is inserted in La Place, 193-196; Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 371, etc. See also De Thou, iii. (liv. xxviii.), 74; letters of Beza to Calvin, and N. des Gallars to the Bishop of London, ubi supra; Jean de Serres, i. 327, etc.
The prelates were much excited when Beza concluded. His reference to episcopal elections stung them to the quick. Lorraine angrily accused him of insulting not only the sacerdotal, but the royal authority, since it was Francis the First that had taken away the election of the priesthood from the people.11551155 La Place, De Thou, letters of Beza, and des Gallars, etc., ubi supra. "Comme si les feu rois François le grand, Henry le débonnaire, François dernier décédé, et Charles à present règnant (et faisoit sonner ces mots autant qu'il pouvoit) avoient été tyrans et simoniacles." Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 375. Beza, replying, said that this very act was an evidence of the radical disturbance of the ancient order, when avarice, ambition, and unworthy rivalry between monks and canons rendered such a change necessary. Pressed again to sign the article submitted two days before, Beza persisted that it was unjust to endeavor to compel the Protestants to subscribe to that to which the prelates refused their own indorsement.11561156 La Place, Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., etc., ubi supra. Letter of Beza to the Elector Palatine, Oct. 3d, Baum, ii., App., 88, 89.
Peter Martyr and Lainez the Jesuit.
The discussion was next carried on between the doctors of the Sorbonne and Beza and Martyr. The latter spoke in Italian,11571157 Because he was not sufficiently familiar with French, according to La Place, 197 (ne sçachant parler françois); and in order to make himself better understood by the queen "ut a regina intelligi posset," than he would have been had he spoken in Latin. Letter of Beza, Baum, ii., App., 79. "D'Espense," says La Place ubi supra, "lors donna ceste louange audict Martyr, qu'il n'y avoit eu homme de ce temps qui si amplement et avec telle érudition eust escript du faict du sacrement que luy." and won universal applause; but he was rudely interrupted by the Cardinal of Lorraine, who said that he did not want to hear a foreign language. A little later, a Spaniard, Lainez, the second general of the rising order of Jesus, who had just reached Paris in the train of the Cardinal Legate of Ferrara, begged permission to speak. Leave was537 granted him, and he indulged in an address much more remarkable for its coarse invective than for its weight of argument.11581158 Although Lainez spoke in Italian (see Baum, ii. 363), it is needless to say that the Cardinal of Lorraine made no objection to the use of a language which, it may be added, he understood perfectly. The reader may see some reason in the summary of Lainez's speech given in the text, for dissenting from the remark of MM. Oimber et Danjou, iv. 34, note: "Il [Lainez] fit entendre dans le colloque de Poissy, des paroles de paix et de conciliation." Not content with dissuading his hearers from listening to the Protestant ministers as persons already sufficiently convicted of error, he called them apes and foxes,11591159 "I said," writes Beza, in giving an account of his brief reply to Lainez, "that I would concede all the Spaniard's assertions when he proved them. As to his statement that we were foxes, and serpents, and apes, we no more believed it than we believed in transubstantiation." Letter to Calvin, Baum, ii., App., 79. and advised that they be sent to Trent, where the Pope had convoked a free council to which they might have free access. He condemned the French for holding a separate council, and reprobated the discussion of topics of such importance as those now under consideration in the presence of women, and of men trained to war. After these gentle hints respecting the qualifications of the queen and his noble auditors to act as judges, he approached the all-absorbing question of the real presence—a feeble part of his speech in which we may be excused from following him. The remainder of the day was spent in warm debate, which continued until the approach of night. Just as all were rising and about to leave, however, the queen called to her Beza and the Cardinal of Lorraine, and adjured them in God's name to strive for the establishment of peace. A knot of friends gathered around each; the conference was renewed amid much confusion and noise; but the darkness soon necessitated an adjournment.11601160 La Place, 198; Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 377-379; Jean de Serres, i. 335-339; Letter of Beza to Calvin, Sept. 27th, Baum, ii., App., 79.
Close of the Colloquy of Poissy.
It was the last day of the Colloquy of Poissy. If anything more had until now been needed to demonstrate the futility of all hopes based upon an open discussion regulated solely by the caprice of the Cardinal of Lorraine, it was certainly furnished by the experience of the last538 session. Catharine, however, was loth to abandon the scheme from which she had expected such important results to flow. With her usual incapacity to understand the strength of religious convictions deeply implanted in the soul, she still hoped to secure, from a private interview of the more moderate Roman Catholics with a few of the leading Protestants, a plan of agreement that might serve to unite both communions. Some of her more conscientious advisers shared in the same sanguine expectations.
A private conference.
The Roman Catholic champions.
The Abbé de Salignac.
Five Roman Catholic ecclesiastics were chosen to confer with as many Protestant ministers. They were selected as well for learning and ability as for reputed moderation of sentiment.11611161 "Qui præ ceteris doctrina et ingenio, atque etiam moderatione præstare existimantur." Letter of N. des Gallars, ubi supra, 82. "Gens doctes et traictables." Letter of Beza to the Elector Palatine, ibid., 90. The Bishops Montluc of Valence, and Du Val of Séez in Normandy, the Abbé's de Salignac and Bouteiller, and D'Espense, doctor in the Sorbonne, were probably all believed to be half inclined to fall in with the reformatory current. Of Montluc and D'Espense, mention has already more than once been made. Bouteiller, it will be remembered, was the priest who had officiated in the Cardinal of Châtillon's episcopal palace at Beauvais, the last Easter preceding, when the communion was administered under both kinds, "after the fashion of Geneva."11621162 Ante, p. 475. Salignac was a timid man, a fair sample of the "Nicodemites," who had proved the bane of the Reformation in France. For thirty years he had held, and to some extent—if we may credit his own words—professed the same doctrines as Calvin, continually exhorting his hearers to turn from an empty, formal worship, to Christ as the only Saviour. Confessedly he had not rejected "that false doctrine"—for thus he did not hesitate, in his private correspondence with a Protestant, to designate the Romish creed—so openly as the reformers were wont to do; but he claimed to have won the universal approval of the best men around him by his attacks upon "Babylon," which he had approached sometimes "by mines," sometimes "in open warfare,"539 according to time and circumstances.11631163 "Fateor equidem (nec causa est cur id negem) falsam istam doctrinam, non tam fortasse aperte, quam ipsi facere soletis, confutasse: Babylonem tamen cum cuniculis, tum aperto etiam marte, ut res et tempus ferebat, ita semper oppugnavi, ut noster iste in eo genere conatus optimo cuique semper probaretur." Letter of Salignac to Calvin, Calvini Opera, ix. 163, 164. Calvin (probably, as Prof. Baum remarks, at Beza's suggestion) wrote to Salignac, about a month after the termination of the Colloquy of Poissy, a respectful but extremely frank letter, in which he urged him to espouse with decision the cause he secretly advocated. He reminded him that it was no mean honor to have been among the first fruits of the revival of truth in France. He urged him to put an end to his inordinate hesitation, by the consideration of the number of those who were still vacillating, but who would forthwith imitate his example if he forsook the enemy's camp for the fold of Christ. Letter of Calvin to Salignac, Nov. 19, 1561, Calvini Opera, ix. 163; Calvin's Letters (Bonnet), iv. 239-241. Salignac's reply, from which the extract given above is taken, is characteristic of the man—less conscious of his weakness than Gérard Roussel, but equally faint-hearted. See also Baum, ii. 387, 388. Since no violent opposition seems ever to have been made, no persecution ever to have arisen against Salignac, and in view of the fact that the conflict of the last thirty years had been sufficiently sanguinary and little calculated to reassure timid combatants, it is highly probable that the prudent abbé's subterranean operations greatly outnumbered his more valiant exploits. Well might the reformers, who knew that victory was to be obtained, not by burrowing under the ground, but by facing the perils of the battle-field, exclaim:
Conference at St. Germain.
A discussion of words.
Theodore Beza, Peter Martyr, Angustin Marlorat, Jean de L'Espine, and Nicholas des Gallars, were appointed to represent the Protestants, and it was arranged that secretaries should be present at the conferences to note the progress made toward unity. The ten theologians met in the apartments of the King of Navarre, at St. Germain. Their conclusions were to be submitted to the Protestant ministers and delegates present at the court, and at the same time carried to Poissy for ratification by the still assembled prelates. Both parties were in earnest in seeking for common ground on which they might stand. Compelled by the instructions the bishops had received, to commence with the knotty question of the540 eucharist instead of adopting the more natural order of the articles of the confession of faith, the Romish party inquired whether, abandoning discussion for the time, both sides might not agree on the formula which had been drawn up and approved by four of their number on the twenty-fifth of September, or on some similarly moderate statement. The question, so far as the formula they referred to was concerned, was promptly answered by Peter Martyr. The Zurich reformer, somewhat apprehensive, as he had lately shown, lest his colleagues should, in their eagerness for accord, make something approaching a sacrifice of doctrine, greatly to their surprise drew from his pocket a paper which he proceeded to read: "I reply, for my part, that the body of Christ is truly and substantially nowhere else than in heaven. I do not, however, deny that Christ's true body and his true blood, which were given on the cross for the salvation of men, are by faith and spiritually received by the believing in the Holy Supper."11641164 See Prof. Baum's graphic account, ii. 390-392. The next day Martyr wrote out and presented a fuller statement of his belief, which is inserted among the documents of Baum, ii., App., 84, 85. A friendly but laborious discussion, not of ideas nor of doctrines, but of words, ensued. At length a statement was drawn up sufficiently comprehensive, yet sufficiently general to admit of being approved in good conscience by the entire number of theologians.11651165 "En tant que la foy rend les choses promises présentes, et que la foy prent véritablement le corps et le sang de nostre Seigneur Jésus-Christ, par la vertu du Sainct-Esprit; en cest esgard nous confessons la présence du corps et du sang d'iceluy en la saincte cène, en laquelle il nous présente, donne et exhibe véritablement la substance de son corps et sang, par l'opération de son Sainct-Esprit; y recevons et mangeons spirituellement et par foy," etc. Mém. de Condé, i. 55; La Place, 199; Jean de Serres, i. 340. Letter of Des Gallars, Baum, ii., App., 83. But the prelates of Poissy promptly rejecting the article, the next day it was necessary to renew the deliberation. A second form of agreement was drafted,11661166 "Nous confessons que Jésus-Christ en sa céne nous présente, donne et exhibe véritablement la substance de son corps et de son sang par l'opération du Sainct-Esprist; et que nous recevons et mangeons spirituellement et par foy ce propre corps, qui est mort pour nous, pour estre os de ses os, et chair de sa chair, à fin d'en estre vivifié, et percevoir tout ce qui est requis à nostre salut. Et pour ce que la foy appuyée sur la parolle de Dieu fait et rend présentes les choses prises, et que par ceste foy nous prenons vrayement et de faict le vray et naturel corps et sang de nostre Seigneur par la vertu du Sainct-Esprit, en cest esgard nous confessons la présence du corps et sang d'iceluy en sa saincte cène." La Place, 199; J. de Serres, i. 341. Letter of des Gallars, ubi supra, 83, 84; Languet, Epist. secr., ii. 148; Mém. de Condé, i. 55. which the Roman541 Catholic deputies felt confident would meet with the approval of those who had sent them.
Premature delight of the queen mother.
The article rejected by the prelates.
Although the article itself was to be kept secret until submitted to the prelates, the tidings that a harmonious result had been reached rapidly flew through the court and was carried to Catharine herself. Beza and Montluc were summoned into her presence. In the excess of her joy at the prospect of the peaceful solution of a difficult problem, and of an issue of the colloquy which would greatly conduce to her glory and the firmer establishment of her rule, Catharine even cordially embraced the reformer, and bade him go on in the good way he and his companions had entered. Beza, not blind to the difficulties that still beset their path, replied that their highest desires were for truth and peace, but that a good beginning only had been made.11671167 Letter of Beza, Oct. 3d and 4th, Baum, ii., App., 93; Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 382. The Cardinal of Lorraine, after reading the article, expressed the belief that the prelates of Poissy would be pleased,11681168 "Peutêtre qu'il pensait dire vrai," shrewdly observes the author of the Hist. des églises réformées (i. 382), "n'ayant jamais le loisir telles gens de bien penser, s'ils croient ou non, ni à ce qu'ils pensent croire." and for his own part seemed to regard the Protestants as having surrendered the entire ground of controversy to the Roman Catholics.11691169 Letter of N. des Gallars, ubi supra, 84: "Quum hanc formam legisset Cardinalis, mire approbavit, ac lætatus est quasi ad ejus castra transissemus." But both queen and cardinal were soon undeceived. The assembled prelates rejected the modified article with scorn, treating with insult the deputies that brought it, as having betrayed their cause and played into the hands of the reformers.11701170 "Intelligimus etiam ipsos a suis objurgari quasi sentiant nobiscum aut colludant." Letter of N. des Gallars, Oct. 6th, ubi supra. See also letter of Beza, Oct. 3d, Baum, ii., App., 94. Under these circumstances a continuation of the conference would have542 been absurd. The Roman Catholic deputies, despairing of any good fruits from their efforts at conciliation, never returned; and the last vestige of the colloquy, on which such brilliant anticipations had been based, vanished into thin air.11711171 The most extended and accurate view of the Colloquy of Poissy is afforded by Prof. Baum, who has consecrated to it two hundred and fifty pages of the second volume of his masterly biography of Beza (pp. 168-419). The correspondence of Beza and others that were present at the colloquy, collected by Prof. Baum in the supplementary volume of documents (published in 1852), and the detailed accounts of the Histoire ecclés. des égl. réf, of La Place (Commentaires de l'estat de la rel. et république, which here terminate), and of Jean de Serres, who, in this part of his history, does little more than translate La Place, are the most important sources of authentic information. Castelnau's account of the colloquy (1. iii., c. 4) is remarkably incorrect. He makes the ten delegates confer together for three months, without agreeing on a single point, and finally separate on the 25th of November. Davila is brief and unsatisfactory (pp. 50, 51). The prelates themselves continued to sit for a few days. A committee of three bishops and sundry doctors of the Sorbonne, to whom the article agreed upon by the Roman Catholic and Huguenot delegates was submitted for examination, pronounced it (on the sixth of October) to be incomplete, dangerous, and heretical. Three days later the prelates published a formal condemnation of it, offered a definition which they declared to be orthodox, and called upon the king to require Beza and his companions either to sign this new formula, or to consult the public peace by leaving France altogether. A long series of canons, in which the question of church discipline was touched lightly, and that of doctrine not at all—the paltry result of more than two months of sufficiently animated,11721172 From what Martyr wrote to the magistrates of Zurich (Oct. 17th) respecting the conduct of the bishops in connection with the subscription to the canons, it would appear that the close of the prelatic assembly did not disgrace the amenities of the debates at its commencement (see ante, p. 499): "Accidit mira Dei providentia, ut repente inter episcopos, qui erant Poysiaci, tam grave dissidium ortum fuerit, ut fere ad manus venerint, imo, ut homines fide digni affirmant res ut pugnis et unguibus est acta." Baum, ii., App., 107. See also the extract from Martyr's letter of the same date to Bullinger, cited by Prof. Baum, ii. 401, note. if not very harmonious discussion—was at the same time given to the world.11731173 Histoire ecclés., i. 383-405. See Baum, ii. 399-401.543
Catharine's financial success.
From a political point of view, the assembly of the prelates at Poissy had not been unprofitable to the government. Alarmed by the radical projects of the wholesale confiscation of ecclesiastical property which had found no little favor with the other orders at Pontoise, equally alarmed by the possibility of being compelled to enter into a full and fair discussion with the champions of the Protestant doctrines, the wealthy dignitaries of the Gallican Church brought themselves, not without a severe struggle, to purchase exemption from these perils by a pecuniary concession which delighted the perplexed financiers of France. They pledged themselves to pay, by semi-annual instalments, the entire sum needed for the redemption of the royal domain which had been alienated to satisfy the public creditors.11741174 The vote was, according to Beza's letter of Oct. 21st, sixteen millions of francs with interest within six years (Baum, ii., App. 109); according to the Journal of Bruslart, Mém. de Condé, i. 53, within twelve years. Prof. Soldan, Geschichte des Prot. in Frankreich, i. 512, 513, gives the details of the famous "Contract of Poissy." It must be admitted that both nobles and people were ready enough with plans for paying off the national indebtedness out of the property of the Church. These generous economists found that, according to the ancient customs, one-third of the ecclesiastical revenues ought to be employed for the support of the clergy, one-third to be given to the poor, and the remaining third expended in keeping the sacred edifices in repair. They proposed, therefore, to relieve the clergy of the latter two-thirds of their possessions, and apply them to the extinction of the royal debt, assuming that the nation would maintain the churches in better condition, and feed the poor more effectively than had ever been done hitherto! Languet, Letter of Aug. 17th, Epist. secr., ii. 136. But in return they demanded important equivalents. The first item was that the severe "Edict of July" should be made perpetual and irrevocable. This request Catharine and the council denied. To declare that odious law, which it had never been possible to carry into execution in several provinces of France, a part of the fundamental constitution, would be a gratuitous insult to the Huguenots, and would precipitate the country instantly into the abyss upon the verge of which it was already hanging.
Order for the restitution of the churches.
The other demands of the bishops it seemed more practicable to grant. They required that Charles should by solemn edict order the instantaneous restitution of the churches seized by the544 Huguenots. In spite of the earnest protest of Beza,11751175 Baum, ii. 408. the government (on the eighteenth of October) complied with the request.11761176 Oct. 20th, according to Recueil des anc. lois franç., xiv. 122. Within twenty-four hours after the receipt of this edict, all persons who had taken possession of churches were commanded, on penalty of death as rebels and felons, to vacate them, restoring whatever valuables they had removed, and replacing the images and crosses they had destroyed. At the same time the prohibition of the use of insulting language and acts was renewed, and both parties were bidden to place their arms in the hands of the local magistrates.11771177 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. Thus, to use Beza's language, was Christ betrayed, but at a much dearer price than that for which he was, centuries ago, sold by Judas—for sixteen millions of francs instead of the thirty pieces of silver.11781178 Beza, ubi supra; Car. Joinvillæus, Nov. 5th, Baum, ii., App., 123. Having, by extorting the Edict of Restitution, succeeded in paving the way for renewed commotions, soon to culminate in open and widespread war, the prelates adjourned, with mingled satisfaction and disgust, toward the end of October, 1561.11791179 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.)
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 theologians545—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.11801180 "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. 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.11811181 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 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. ecclés. des égl. réf., etc. Yet it is not improbable, as La Place, Commentaires, 200, seems to hint that 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.546
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,11821182 Ante, c. xi., p. 493. 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 religious547 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.11831183 See the list of the twenty members of the council, in Recueil des anc. lois franç., xiv. 55, 56. 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.11841184 See Baum, ii. 215.
Influence of the papal legate.
The despondent nuncio, Viterbo.
But the single event said by an eye-witness and actor in these548 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.11851185 "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. 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,11861186 "Quique ingenio, eloquentia, artificio plurimum valebat." Prosp. Santacrucii, Comment de civil. Galliæ dissen., 1461. 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.11871187 "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.
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,11881188 "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. 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 of549 Pisa, who had formerly occupied this position at Paris, but was now acting in a similar capacity in Portugal.11891189 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. 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.11901190 "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. 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,11911191 "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. 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.11921192 "Diess waren zwölf gewiss mächtige Gründe," etc. Baum, ii. 302; La Place, 153; Marc' Ant. Barbaro, Rel. des Amb. Vén., ii. 86.550
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 fortune11931193 "Multum inde auri reportaturus existimetur, si ibi annum vel biennium communi omnium more transigat." Santacrucii, de civil. Galliæ diss. comment., 1464.—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.11941194 That is, excepting the cardinal's hat, which his friends informed him would be the reward of his services in France. Ibid., ubi supra. 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.11951195 Ibid., 1462, 1463, 1465. 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.11961196 Ibid., 1465. 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,11971197 "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. 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.11981198 "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. His appearance forcibly reminded them of the551 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.11991199 La Place, 153. 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.12001200 Ibid., ubi supra; Baum, ii. 305. 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.12011201 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. 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 his552 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.12021202 La Place, 153.
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.12031203 Ibid., ubi supra. 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.12041204 Compare Baum, ii. 302, 303. 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.12051205 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. 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 so553 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.12061206 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. 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.12071207 Examine the curious passage in Santacrucii, de civil. Galliæ diss. comment., 1470, 1471. 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 that554 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.12081208 See the correspondence of Vargas with Philip II. (letters of Sept. 30, Oct. 3 and 7, 1561), Papiers d'état du card. Granvelle, vi. 342, 372, and 380; De Thou, iii. 78, 79; or the very full account of Prof. Soldan, i. 515-521. Under these circumstances, it seemed that little was needed to make his alienation from Romanism complete.
Antoine of Navarre plied with suggestions.
While, therefore, the Spanish ambassador, Chantonnay, brother of Cardinal Granvelle, by his severity and his continual threats of war not only discouraged the Navarrese king, but rendered himself so hateful to the court that his presence could scarcely be endured,12091209 Rel. di Marc' Antonio Barbaro, Rel. des Amb. Vén., ii. 88, 89. "È proceduto esso ambasciatore con la regina e Navarra con parole quasi sempre aspre e severe, minacciando di guerra dal canto del re suo, et dicendo in faccia alle lor maestà parole assai gagliarde e pungenti, e levando al re di Navarra del tutto la speranza della ricompensa, stando le cose in quei termini, et ponendoli inanzi l'inimicizia di Filippo." the papal emissaries, to whom the Venetian Barbaro lent efficient aid, allured him by brilliant hopes of a sovereignty which Philip, induced by the Pope's intercessions, would confer upon him. Convinced that the destruction of all hope of recovering Navarre from the Spanish king would instantly cause Antoine to throw himself without disguise into the arms of the Calvinists, and would thus secure the speedy triumph of the Reformation throughout all France,12101210 "Etenim si de ilia (spe) ejiceretur dubium non erat, quin se totum ad Calvinistas converteret, et qui cum pudore ac simultatione illis favebat, perfricta fronte eorum sectam ita promoveret, ut brevissimo tempore totum Galliæ regnum occuparet." Sanctacrucii, de civ. Gall. diss. comment., 1471. they even persuaded Chantonnay to abate somewhat of his insolence, and to ascribe his master's delay in satisfying Antoine's requests to Philip's belief that his suppliant was confident of being able to frighten the Spaniards into restitution.12111211 Ibid., 1473. They represented to Antoine himself that his only chance of success lay in devotion to the Catholic faith. Join555ing arms with "those flagitious men" the Huguenots, he would arouse the hostility of almost all Christendom. The Pope, the priests, even the greater part of France, would be his enemies. In a conflict with them he could place little reliance upon troops unaccustomed to war and drawn from every quarter—none at all upon the English, who were ancient enemies, or upon the Germans, who fought for pay. Better would it be for him to secure but half his demands by peace, than to lose all by trying the fortunes of war.12121212 Santacrucii, de civ. Galliæ diss. com., 1472, 1473. That the whole affair was planned in deceit and treachery, is patent not only from Santa Croce's account both in his letters and in his systematic treatise, but from the whole of the Vargas correspondence. Even when the Pope—much to the ambassador's disgust—thought of complying with Antoine's request to intercede with Philip for some indemnification for the loss of the kingdom of Navarre, he took the pains to explain that his urgency would not amount to importunity, much less to a command; his aim was only to feed Antoine with false hopes while France was in so precarious a situation: "esto seria por cumplir con Vandome y entretenerle, por estar Francia en los términos en que está," etc. Papiers d'état du cardinal de Granvelle, vi. 344.
How thoroughly the legate and nuncio, with the assistance of their faithful allies, the Spanish ambassador and the Guises, Montmorency and St. André, were successful in seducing the unstable King of Navarre from his allegiance to the Protestant faith, this, and the disastrous results of his defection, will be developed in a subsequent part of our history.
The triumvirate retire in disgust.
The edict of the eighteenth of October, for the restitution of the churches of which the Huguenots had taken possession, was by no means an exponent of the true dispositions of the court. It was rather a measure of political expediency, reluctantly adopted, to attain the double end of securing the pecuniary grant of which the government stood in pressing need, and of preventing Philip from executing the threats of invasion which Alva had but too plainly made in his interview with the French envoy extraordinary, Montbéron d'Auzances, and the ambassador, Sebastien de l'Aubespine12131213 De Thou, iii. 78, 79.—threats which nothing would have been more likely to convert into stern realities than the concession of the churches for556 which the Protestants clamored. It was a measure determined upon by a royal council in which the influence of the party inclined to Protestant and liberal principles was preponderant; in which the advice of the moderate Chancellor L'Hospital was supreme; in which the plans of the Guises, of Montmorency and St. André, were set aside, to make room for those of Condé and Montluc, Bishop of Valence. It is this fact that furnishes the clue to a circumstance which at first sight seems an inexplicable paradox, namely, that almost the very day on which the intolerant resolution, compelling the Huguenots to surrender the churches, even in places where they constituted the vast majority of the population, was adopted, the members of the triumvirate, formed for the express purpose of upholding the papal church in France, left the court in disgust. It was scarcely to be expected that these ambitious nobles, accustomed to occupy the first rank, and to dispose of the national concerns according to their own private pleasure, should submit with good grace to the decisions of a council in which the Bourbons held the sway, and a hated chancellor's opinions were followed whom they themselves had raised to his elevated position. Much less was it natural for them to remain when the measures which the administration proposed were of enlarged toleration, instead of greater repression. Accordingly, the Duke of Guise left Saint Germain for Joinville, one of his estates on the borders of Lorraine, while his brother, the cardinal, repaired to his archbishopric of Rheims. Here, while pretending to apply himself with unheard-of diligence to his duties as a spiritual shepherd, and preaching, as was reported, rather the Lutheran than the Romish view of the eucharist, he was making bids as high as those of the duke, if of a different kind, for the favor and support of the neighboring German princes who adhered to the Confession of Augsburg. Catharine, not sorry to be rid of their presence, and "best pleased when the world was discordant," gave them a kind dismissal. The elements were less propitious. An extraordinarily severe storm that swept over St. Germain on the day of their departure gave rise to a report among the courtiers that "the devil was carrying them off." It was little suspected, quaintly remarks557 the narrator of this incident, how soon he was going to bring them back!12141214 Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 419 (the author of which, however, erroneously gives the end of November as the date of their departure); Jean de Serres, Commentarii de statu relig. et reipubl., i. 345 (who makes the same mistake); De Thou, iii. 99. "Cur autem aliquid adhuc spei habeam, illud etiam in causa est quod nudius tertius Guisiani omnes serio discesserunt, omnibus bonis invisi, ac plerisque etiam malis. Abiit quoque Turnonius et Conestabilis.... Probabile est aliquid simul moliri, sed tamen incerto eventu. De hoc intra paucos dies certi erimus, utinam ne nostro malo." Letter of Beza to Calvin, Oct. 21, 1561, Baum, ii., App., 110. Cardinal Tournon and Constable Montmorency followed the example of the Guises, and went into retirement.
Hopes entertained of the young king.
Charles's curiosity respecting the mass.
The prospect was at this moment as dark to the papal party as it was full of encouragement for the Huguenots and their sympathizers. Nothing but a resort to violence could avert the speedy downfall of the authority of the Roman pontiff in France. A few months more of peace, and everything might be lost.12151215 That the Huguenots were about this time as sanguine as their opponents were despondent, may be seen from the prediction of Languet (letter of October 9th), that unless the opposite party precipitated a war within two or three months, everything would be safe; so great would be the accession of strength that the reformers would actually be the strongest. At court everything tended in that direction, and the queen mother herself was not likely to try to stem the current. Martyr, it was reported, had several times brought tears to her eyes, when conversing with her. "However," dryly observes the diplomatist, "I am not over-credulous in these matters." Epist. secr., ii. 145. If the young king continued under the influences now surrounding him, he might become a Huguenot openly, as it was pretty well understood, by those who had the opportunity of seeing him daily and noting his words and actions, that he was already half inclined to be one now. The Queen of Navarre, the Prince of Condé, and the leading Protestants at court perceived this and could not hide their delight. One day about this time, Jeanne D'Albret drew the English ambassador apart from the courtiers waiting upon her, and, having seated him by her side, related a conversation she had within the past few days held with Charles. It is thus reported by Throkmorton in a despatch to Queen Elizabeth: "Good aunt," said the king, "I pray you tell me what558 doth this mean, that the king, my uncle, your husband, doth every day go to mass, and you come not there, nor my cousin, your son, the Prince of Navarre? I answered (quoth the queen), Sire, the king, my husband doth so because you go thither, to wait upon you and obey your order and commandment. Nay, aunt (quoth he), I do neither command nor desire him to do so. But if it be naught (as I do hear say it is), he might well enough forbear to be at it, and offend me nothing at all; for if I might as well as he, and did believe of it as he doth, I would not be at it myself. The queen said, Why, sir, what do you believe of it? The king answered, The queen, my mother, Monsieur de Cipierre, and my schoolmaster doth tell me, that it is very good, and that I do there daily see God; but (said the king) I do hear by others that neither God is there nor the thing very good. And surely, aunt, to be plain with you, I would not be there myself. And therefore you may boldly continue and do as you do, and so may the king, my uncle, your husband, use the matter according to his conscience for any displeasure he shall do unto me. And, surely, aunt (quoth he), when I shall be at my own rule I mean to quit the matter! But I pray you (said the king), keep this matter to yourself, and use it so that it come not to my mother's ears."12161216 Throkmorton to Queen Elizabeth, Paris, November 26, 1561, State Paper Office.
It need not occasion surprise that the Queen of Navarre paused, in the midst of her expressions of intense gratification, to give utterance to the fear that Charles might be "too toward, too virtuous, and too good to tarry amongst them," or recalled the many similar "acts and sayings of the late King Edward of England, who did not live long."12171217 Others besides Jeanne were apprehensive. The Viscount de Gruz, in his memorial to Queen Elizabeth (Sept. 24, 1561), stated that the king's constitution was so bad that he was not likely to live long, for he ate and slept very little. His brothers were equally infirm in health. Monsieur D'Orléans had a very bad cough, and the physicians feared that he had the disease of his late brother, Francis; while Monsieur D'Anjou had been ill for more than a year, and was dying from day to day. State Paper Office.
Beza is begged to remain.
When the first intimation of the edict for the restoration of559 the churches reached Beza, his impulse was to abandon forthwith a court where his hopes had been so cruelly disappointed, and a want of proper confidence had been displayed by his very friends among the royal counsellors. But his indignant remonstrances were met by the assurance that benevolent designs for the Reformation were concealed beneath the apparent harshness of the law, which was a necessary concession to certain circumstances. He was entreated to be of good courage and to remain. Catharine joined her solicitations to those of Condé, Admiral Coligny, and other chiefs of the Protestants. Beza reluctantly consented, and while Martyr was suffered to depart with courteous acknowledgments of his services, the Genevese was still more honorably retained at court.12181218 Letters of Beza, Oct. 21st and Nov. 4th, ubi supra. "Tantum abest ut impetrarim (abeundi facultatem) ut etiam regina ipsa me accersitum expresse rogarit ut saltem ad tempus manerem." The new measure from which brilliant results were expected was the calling of an assembly of notables, including representatives from each of the parliaments, the princes of the blood, and members of the council, etc., which was to meet in December, and to suggest some decree on the subject of the religious question, of a provisional, if not of a permanent character.12191219 "Nam ex singulis parlamentis duo huc evocantur ad diem decembris vicesimum," etc. Beza to Calvin, Oct. 30, Baum, ii., App., 117; Histoire ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 418.
Spanish plot to kidnap the Duke of Orleans.
The Huguenot churches in France.
About the same time, upon a rumor that the Duke of Nemours, a faithful ally of the Guises, had plotted to carry off the young Duke of Orleans, the future Henry the Third, into Spain, with the view of affording his brother-in-law Philip a specious pretext for interfering in Trench affairs,12201220 "Je ny voulu faillir de vous advertir," writes the Prince of Condé in an autograph postscript of a letter (of Oct. 10th) thanking the magistrates of Zurich for Martyr's visit to France, "des entreprinses des Seigneurs de Guyse et de Nemours, ennemys de la vraye religion, qui, voyants que soub le regne du roy de France, le regne de Jesus Christ sestoit tellement advance que facillement lon pouvoit appercepvoir que la tyrannie de Lantechrist de Romme seroit en brief totallement dechassee du dit pays, apres sestre bande du coste du Roy d'Espaigne, pour maintenir la dicte tyrannie papale delibererent de desrober et emmener en Espaigne, au Roy Phelippe, le second fils de France monsieur d'Orleans, esperans que soub le nom du dit jeusne prince frere du Roy ils auroient occasion de faire la guerre en France et contre les Evangelistes, estimans que bientost le pape donneroit le royaulme de France au premier occupant selon sa Tyrannique coustume," etc. Baum, ii., App., 102, 103. Nemours, after his conspiracy was discovered, fled from court. He wrote, however, disclaiming any ulterior object in his invitations to the young Prince of Orleans, to whom he had in jest proposed to go with him to Spain. Catharine de' Medici turned to the Protestants,560 and inquired what forces of theirs she could rely upon in the threatened contest with the Spanish, Papal, and German Roman Catholic troops. Her question elicited the significant fact that there were two thousand one hundred and fifty Huguenot churches in France, varying in size from a mere handful of believers to a community of thousands of members, embracing almost the entire population of a provincial city, and under the guidance of several pastors. In the name of these churches a petition was presented to the king, asking for places of worship, and loyally tendering life and property in his defence.12211221 Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 419-421. Cf. Beza to Calvin, Nov. 4th, Baum, ii., App., 120.
Beza secures a favorable royal order.
To restrain the impatience of so numerous a body as the Protestants, while waiting for the assembly of the notables which was to confer the full measure of liberty they desired, was the task imposed upon Beza. He was to serve as a hostage for the obedience of the reformed churches.12221222 Letter of Beza, Nov. 4th, ubi supra; "Regina nescio quo modo libenter me videt, quod est apud multos testata, et re ipsa sum expertus. Ideo cupiunt nostri proceres me his manere, quasi fidei et obedientias nostrarum Ecclesiarum obsidem tantisper dum in futuro illo conventu aliquid certi constituatur, et ipsi conventui me volunt interesse." But the sagacious theologian recognized the difficulty of the position he was called to fill. He warned the government accordingly against disappointing the hopes it aroused in the breasts of his fellow Protestants, and he urged that if they must be temporarily denied the use of the places of worship which they had occupied wherever they constituted the bulk of the population, the present rigor must be somewhat abated during the interval before their formal emancipation. After much importunity a mandate was obtained, addressed to the561 royal officers, in which they were instructed to interpret the previous edicts with leniency, permitting different degrees of liberty, according to the various circumstances in which they were placed. In Normandy and Gascony the religious meetings might be open and unrestricted. In Paris they must be held secretly in private houses, and not more than two hundred persons could be gathered together.12231223 Beza's letters, apud Baum, ii., App., 117, 121, 122; Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 418. Everywhere, however, the Protestants were to be protected, and this was a great step gained. For those very officers, whose task it had not unfrequently been to drag the Huguenots to prison, were now constituted the guardians of their lives and property.12241224 "Graces à Dieu, les choses sont bien changées en peu d'heure, estant maintenant faicts guardiens des assemblées ceux-là mesme qui nous menoyent en prison." Postscript to Beza's letter of Nov. 4th, Baum, ii., App., 122.
How to restrain Huguenot impetuosity.
Yet, how to restrain the impetuosity, how to check the demands of the multitudes recently converted to the reformed faith, how to induce them to give up the churches where whole generations of their ancestors had worshipped before them, and in which they believed that they had the clearest right of property, and hand them over to a mere handful of ignorant or interested persons who would not listen to reason or Scripture—this was the problem that seemed even beyond the power of Beza's wit to solve. The young vine, in whose branches the full sap of spring was rapidly circulating, must have room for healthy growth. From all parts of France the constant cry was for the Word of God and for liberty. Although the number of daily attendants on Calvin's lectures was roughly estimated at a thousand,12251225 "C'est merveille des auditeurs des leçons de Monsieur Calvin; jestime quils sont journellement plus de mille." Letter of De Beaulieu, Geneva, Oct. 3, 1561, Baum, ii., App., 92. it was impossible for Geneva to supply the drafts made upon her, when there were three hundred parishes, apparently in a single province, which had thrown off the mass, but had as yet been unsuccessful in their quest of pastors;12261226 Letter of De Beaulieu, ubi supra, 91. when the history of hundreds of towns and villages was the counterpart of the history of Foix, where, in562 two months, an infant church of thirty or forty members had grown to have five or six hundred, and the Protestant population was almost in the majority in the town, although as yet, notwithstanding incessant efforts to obtain a pastor, the only public service consisted of the repetition by a layman of the prayers contained in the liturgy of Calvin12271227 "Mais ne nous a esté possible jamais recouvrer ung ministre, quelque diligence que nous avons faicte, seulement par quelqu'un de nous faisons faire des prières ainsi que par vostre Eglise sont dressées." Lettre de l'église de Foix à la Vénérable Compagnie (1561); Gaberel, i., Pièces justif., 165-167.—when many a minister met with success similar to that which attended Pierre Fornelet, who could point to fifteen villages in the vicinity of Châlons-sur-Marne, begging for Huguenot pastors, and all this the fruit of seven weeks of apostolic labours; and could record the fact that poor men and women flocked to the city from a distance of seven or eight leagues, when they simply heard that the Gospel was preached there12281228 Lettre de Fornelet à, l'église de Neufchatel, Oct. 6, 1561, Baum, ii., App., 95-100, Bulletin, xii. 361-366; Letter of Fornelet to Calvin, of the same date, Bulletin, etc., xiv. 365.—when it was estimated by competent witnesses that from four to six thousand ministers could be profitably employed within the bounds of the kingdom.12291229 Letter of De Beaulieu, ubi supra.
In some places, by strenuous exertion, the ministers were successful in persuading their flocks to refrain from overt acts tending to provoke outbursts of hostility. At Troyes, in Champagne, a thousand persons convened by day or by night, not summoned by the sound of bells, but quietly notified by an "advertisseur" of the daily changing place of meeting. Yet even there, on Sunday and on public holidays, the Huguenots took pains to hold their "assemblée" in the open day, before the eyes of their enemies.12301230 Letter of Jacques Sorel for the "classe" of Troyes, Oct. 13, 1561, Bulletin, xii. 352-355, Baum, ii., App., 103, 104. At Paris, the Protestants, compelled to go some distance into the country for worship, on their return (Sunday, the twelfth of October), found the gates closed against them, and were attacked by a mob composed of the dregs of the563 populace. Many of their number were killed or wounded. The assailants retreated when the Huguenot gentry, with swords drawn, rallied for the defence of their unarmed companions, whom they could not, however, guarantee from the stones and other missiles hurled at them. For a few days the public services were intermitted at the earnest request of the Prince of La Roche-sur-Yon, in the interest of good order and to prevent disturbance.12311231 Otherwise, 15,000 or 20,000 Huguenots, of whom 2,000 or 3,000 were armed horsemen, would doubtless have come together, and possibly seized some church edifices. The prince issued a very severe order against future assailants. Letter of Languet, Oct. 17, 1561. Epist. secr., ii. 149, 150. Ordonnance de M. le Prince de La Roche-sur-Yon, lieutenant-général de sa Majesté en la ville de Paris, publié le 16 Octobre 1561, Mém. de Condé, i. 57-59. Bruslart, as usual, misrepresents the whole affair, i. 56. Languet was present with the Protestants. But a month later the Huguenots assembled openly, and in still greater numbers. On reaching the suburbs, the women were placed in the centre, with the men who had come on foot around them, while those who were mounted on horseback shielded the whole from attack. A body of guards was posted by the prince in the immediate neighborhood.12321232 Languet, ii. 155.
Churches visited and stripped.
In the south of France the people were less easily curbed, and the indiscretion or treachery of their enemies often furnished provocation for acts which the sober judgment of their pastors refused to sanction. The chapter of the cathedral of Montpellier, with the view of overawing the city, had, in October, introduced a garrison into the commanding Fort St. Pierre. On a Sunday (the nineteenth of October) the Protestants laid siege, and on the succeeding day the chapter entered into a composition with the citizens, by which the canons retained the liberty of celebrating their services, but bound themselves to lay down their arms and dismiss the soldiers they had called in. When, however, a soldier, as he was leaving, drew a pistol and killed one of the Protestants, the fury of the latter could not be repressed. They cried that treacherous designs were on foot, and madly killed many of the canons and their sympathizers. Then, directing their indignation against the churches, where the doctrine that no faith need564 be kept with heretics had been inculcated, they overturned in a few hours the work of four or five centuries. The next day, of sixty churches and chapels in Montpellier or its neighborhood, not one was open. Not a priest, not a monk, dared to show his face. Yet this same excitable populace, which had been wrought up to frenzy by a soldier's treacherous act, submitted without resistance when, on the twentieth of November, Joyeuse, in the king's name, published the obnoxious edict for the restitution of all churches within twenty-four hours. The cathedral was given up, and the services according to the rites of the reformed church were held in the spacious "École mage," until, by a new arrangement with the canons, the Protestants were once more put in possession of two of the old ecclesiastical edifices. Yet the edict did not arrest the rapid progress of the new faith. The mass was not reinstated, and the small Roman Catholic minority remained at home on the feast-days. Even the lowest class of the population—elsewhere, from ignorance and prejudice, the stronghold of the papal religion—here seemed to share in the universal tendency, and, unfortunately, as a local chronicler, to whom we are indebted for these particulars, informs us, took no better way of testifying its devotion than by "mutilating sepulchral monuments, unearthing the dead, and committing a thousand acts of folly." Carrying their hatred of everything that reminded them of the period of judicial abuse to the length of detesting even the insignia of office, the people compelled the ministers of the law to doff their traditional square cap and assume a hat such as was worn by the rest of the population.12331233 Mémoires de Philippi (Collection Michaud et Poujoulat), 624, 625: "Le populaire des fidèles continuoit de mettre en pièces les sepulchres, déterrer les morts, et faire mille follies.... Le peuple porta sa haine jusqu'aux bennets quarrés, et les gens de justice furent obligés de prendre des chapeaux ou bonnets ronds." Thus the strength of the reformatory current could be gauged by the mud and rubbish which it tore from the banks on either side—an addition to its bulk that contributed nothing to its power, while marring its purity and sullying its fair antecedents. A class of persons attached themselves to the Huguenot565 community that could not be brought into subjection to the discipline instituted with such difficulty at Geneva. It would seem invidious to lay their excesses to the account of the Huguenot leaders, whether religious or political, since those excesses met with the severe reprobation of the latter.12341234 As a single instance out of many, I cite a passage from a letter of Pierre Viret to Calvin (Nismes, Oct. 31, 1561), illustrative of the relation of the Huguenot ministers to the acts of mistaken zeal with which this period abounded: "Hic apud nos omnia sunt pacatissima, Dei beneficio. Ego, quoad possum, studeo in officio continere non solum nostros Nemausenses [inhabitants of Nismes], sed etiam vicinos omnes: sed interea multis in locis et templa occupantur, et idola dejiciuntur sine nostro consilio. Ego omnia Domino committo, qui pro sua bona voluntate cuncta moderabitur." Baum, ii., App., 120.
The rein, and not the spur, needed.
Marriages and baptisms at court, "after the fashion of Geneva."
"Would that our friends might restrain themselves at least for two months!" was the ejaculation of Beza, in view of the natural impatience exhibited on all sides. "I fear our own party more than I do our adversaries."12351235 Letter from St. Germain, Nov. 4, 1561, Baum, ii., App., 121. "Denique nostros potius quam adversaries metuo." The rein was needed, not the spur. When, instead of two hundred persons, the Parisian assemblies of Huguenots often consisted of six thousand, a fanatical populace, accustomed for a whole generation to see the very suspicion of Lutheranism expiated in the flames of the Place de Grève or of the Halles, could ill brook the sight of such open gatherings for the reformed worship. How much greater the popular indignation when it became known that Chancellor L'Hospital had authorized two places for public worship according to the rites of the reformed churches, in the neighborhood of the Gate of St. Antoine and the Gate of St. Marceau! Added to these palpable proofs of the court's complicity with the heretics, was the no less scandalous fact that marriages and baptisms, celebrated "after the fashion of Geneva," were of frequent occurrence; that the nuptials of young De Rohan, cousin of Antoine of Navarre, and Mademoiselle de Brabançon, niece of the Duchess d'Étampes, had been performed on St. Michael's Day, and in the presence of Condé and the Queen of Navarre, by Theodore Beza himself; and that in a masquerade566 in the royal palace Charles the Ninth had worn a cap which bore an unmistakable resemblance to a bishop's mitre!12361236 Mém. de Condé, i. 67, etc.; Letter of Santa Croce (Nov. 15, 1561), in Cimber et Danjou, vi. 5, 6, and Aymon, i. 5.
Tanquerel's seditious declaration.
While legate and nuncio labored to put an end to these hateful manifestations by personal solicitation addressed to Catharine, to Cardinal Châtillon, and others,12371237 Santa Croce, ubi supra. Of the Cardinal of Ferrara's apprehensions and the grounds for them, Shakerley, the legate's own organist, and a spy of the English ambassador, secretly wrote to Throkmorton from the French court at St. Germain: "Here is new fire, here is new green wood reeking; new smoke and much contrary wind blowing against Mr. Holy Pope; for in all haste the King of Navarre with his tribe will have another council, and the Cardinal [of Ferrara] stamps and takes on like a madman, and goeth up and down here to the Queen, there to the Cardinal of Tournon, with such unquieting of himself as all the house marvels at it." Shakerley to Throkmorton, Dec. 16, 1561, State Paper Office. Printed in Froude, vii. 391. When a "holy friar" was preaching before the court, his sermon "being without salt," the hearers laughed, the king played with his dog, Catharine went to sleep, and Ferrara "plucked down his cap." Same to same, Dec. 14, 1561, "two o'clock after midnight." This industrious correspondent, who employed the small hours of the night in transmitting to the English ambassador his master's secrets, confessed to Throkmorton that he had no belief in the depth of Ferrara's assumed concern, having "so marked the living of priests" that he believed that "whensoever they are sure to have the same livings that they have without being troubled, they care not an the Pope were hanged, with all his indulgences," Letter of Dec. 16, 1561. State Paper Office. the priests and monks were no less active in stirring up the passions of the people to open resistance. In the scholastic halls of the Collége de Harecourt, one Tanquerel, a doctor of the Sorbonne, enunciated the dangerous maxim that "the Pope can depose heretical kings and emperors." At this menacing declaration, which, under a king in his minority and a regency divided in its sentiments on religious questions, was much more than a theoretical abstraction, the government took alarm. The Parliament of Paris investigated the offence, and the doctrine of Tanquerel was severely condemned. Tanquerel himself having fled from the city to avoid the consequences of his rashness, the Dean of the Sorbonne was required, by order of the supreme court, to utter in his name a solemn recantation in the presence of the assembled theologians and of a committee567 of parliament; and two theologians were deputed to St. Germain to beg the king's forgiveness.12381238 Journal de Bruslart, Mém. de Condé, i. 60, etc.
Jean de Hans.
The preachers were not behind the doctors in the use of seditious language. They attacked the government and its entire policy; and one of their number—Jean de Hans—while delivering Advent discourses in the church of St. Barthélemi, in the very neighborhood of the palace, so distinguished himself for the extravagance of his denunciations, that he was arrested and carried off to the court at St. Germain. Yet such was his well-known popularity with the Parisians, that it was found necessary to effect his capture by a troop of forty armed men; and the powerful intercession made in his behalf induced the government to forget his disrespectful language respecting the princes, and to release him after barely a week's imprisonment.12391239 Ibid., i. 65; a highly colored, partisan, and consequently inaccurate account is given by Claude Haton, i. 214-221. T. Shakerley, in his letter of Dec. 16th, relates the friar's interview with Catharine, who, on seeing the fellow's boldness and the strength of his popularity among the merchants of Paris (at least sixty of whom escorted him), easily accepted his disclaimers, told him "she was much content to hear that his preaching was good, without giving trouble to the people," and bade him "go his way and preach and fear no harm, for it should always please her son and her that the people should be taught as in old time they had been preached unto." The intercession of the Parisians, accompanied "by offers of forty thousand crowns pledge of his forthcoming," Shakerley affirms, "has given such a blow to the preachers of the other side [the Huguenots] that there is wonderful change." State Paper Office.
Philip threatens to interfere in French affairs.
"A true defender of the faith."
Courteville's mission to Flanders.
Unfortunately, Tanquerel's treasonable thesis and Hans's excited declamation were not mere harmless speculations which might never be of any practical importance to the state. The King of Spain had taken the pains to inform the queen mother that he had fully made up his mind to interfere in the affairs of France, and to enforce Catholic supremacy at the point of the sword. She might accept or decline the offers of the self-appointed champion of orthodoxy; but, if she declined, he was resolved none the less to afford his succor to any true friend of the Church that chose to request it. Timid and irresolute Catharine, who desired to steer568 clear of the Scylla of Spanish intervention quite as much as of the Charybdis of Huguenot supremacy, trembled for the security of her unballasted bark. But the watchful old man who sat on St. Peter's reputed seat was thrown into a paroxysm of delight. When the Ambassador Vargas handed him a copy of the message his master had sent to St. Germain, Pope Pius paused a moment, after he had read the undisguised threat, then burst out with a flood of benedictions on the head of the Spanish king. "There," he cried, "is a truly Catholic prince, there a true defender of the faith! I expected no less of him."12401240 "Y quando leyó aquel passo de la letra (que si la reyna madre no quisiesse el ayuda que se le offrescia, la darie V. M. á quien se la pidiesse para favorescer la religion y conservarle en la verdad) reparó un rato y hechó á V. M. muchas bendiciones, diziendo que aquello era un principe veramente cathólico y defensor de la religion, y que no esperava ménos de V. M." Vargas to Philip II., Nov. 7, 1561, Papiers d'état du card. de Granvelle, vi. 399. The Pope had agreed to assist the orthodox party with sixty galleys (Ibid., vi. 437), and he cared little if the French knew that he was in league with Philip (Ibid., vi. 401)—their fears might serve as a check upon their insolence. And Philip intended to carry his menaces into effect. On the twenty-fifth of October his secretary, Courteville, left Madrid, ostensibly on a visit to his infirm father in Flanders, but in reality intrusted with a very important commission, which, in an age when it was no uncommon thing for a messenger to be waylaid and robbed of his despatches, could scarcely be otherwise discharged. He was to make diligent inquiries of Margaret of Parma, Regent of the Netherlands, as to the actual condition of the provinces, and the material support they could give the undertaking upon which Philip has set his heart. While passing through Paris he was to confide his dangerous secret to the Ambassador Chantonnay, and instruct him to support any of the Roman Catholic nobles that might show a disposition to rise,12411241 "Qui premier voulsist monstrer les dens audist Sieur de Vendosme et ses adhérens." or to instigate them to action by the promise of Philip's support. Neither Margaret nor Chantonnay, however, could fulfil the monarch's desires. The former thought that Philip had thrown away the golden opportunity by failing to interfere569 while the question of Catharine's and Navarre's claims to the administration was in dispute, and when the number of sectaries was much smaller than at present; and by the time Courteville reached Poissy, where Chantonnay was stopping, the assembled nobles had dispersed to their homes, and the Guises were practically farther from Paris than from Brussels. So the execution of Philip's plan, both agreed, must be deferred for some time.12421242 "Rapport secret du secrétaire Courtewille, et fondement de son envoy devers Madame la duchesse de Parma ès Pays-Bas en Decembre, 1561." Papiers d'état du card. de Granvelle, vi. 433, etc. Letter of Margaret of Parma to Philip II., Dec. 13, 1561, Ibid., vi. 444, seq.
The ill-starred Medici family.
The Venetian envoy's lugubrious account of France.
It could not be denied that the situation was critical in the extreme. Long-headed diplomatists of the conservative school shook their heads ominously. They hinted that there might be only too much truth in the current Catholic saying that the Medici family was destined to be fatal to Christendom. Under Leo the Tenth Germany was lost to the papacy, under Clement the Eighth England had apostatized, and now under Pius the Fourth, a third Pope of the same ill-starred race, France was on the brink of ruin. The king was a boy, without experience and without authority, the council full of discord, the supreme power in the hands of the queen, who, though sagacious, was yet only a woman, and both timid and irresolute. The King of Navarre, while noble and gracious, was a prince of little constancy and limited practice in government. The people were in disorder and manifest division. Everywhere there were seditious and insolent men, who, under the pretext of religion, had disturbed the general peace, overturned customs and discipline, and put in doubt the royal authority and the safety of all. Oh, that Philip the Second had the courage of his father, or that Charles the Fifth had had his son's glorious opportunity—then would France be France no longer!12431243 "E s'avesse quello spirito che aveva il padre, o il padre avesse avuto la presente fortuna, la Francia non saria più Francia." For just so certainly as the Spanish king was looked upon with suspicion by the rulers, was he longed for by all that hated the present state of things, and,570 most of all, by the prelates and the rest of the Catholics, who knew not in what other quarter to look for salvation.12441244 Michel Suriano, Rel. des Amb. Vén., i. 558-562.
Romish complaints of Huguenot boldness.
It was not possible that peace should long be maintained under such circumstances. It could not be but that the Huguenots, conscious of their growing numbers, confident of the near approach of the day when their rights were to be formally recognized, and impatient of the fetters with which their enemies still attempted to embarrass their progress, would assert their rights from day to day with increasing boldness. The priests and the rabble, on the other hand, regarded this new courage with suspicion, and interpreted every action as springing from insufferable insolence. They were on the watch to detect fresh examples of Huguenot audacity. They complained of the numbers that flocked to hear the reformed preachers, of the arms which some carried for self-defence—a precaution not very astonishing in view of the excited feelings of the Parisians and the frequent outbursts of their fury, and still less extraordinary on the part of the "noblesse," who were accustomed to wear a sword at all times. They went so far as to assert that the Huguenot multitude usurped the entire pavement, and were become so overbearing that they were ready to pick a quarrel with any one that presumed "to look at them." A peaceable Catholic must needs, to avoid abuse and hard blows, show more skill in getting out of their way than he would in shunning a mad dog. The streets resounded with their profane psalm-singing, and ill fared it with the unlucky wight that ventured to remonstrate, or dared to find fault with their provoking use of meat on the prohibited days. He was likely to have a broken head for his pains, or be shut up in prison by judges who sympathized with the "new doctrines."12451245 Discours sur le Saceagement des Eglises Catholiques ... en l'an 1562. Par F. Claude de Sainctes, 1563. Reprinted in Cimber et Danjou, iv. 371. Claude Haton, i. 177, 178. I need not stop to refute these partial statements. They are not surprising, coming as they do from writers who accept all the vile stories of Huguenot midnight orgies with unquestioning faith. The court, however, more correctly ascribing the disturbances that occurred on such occasions to the attacks made upon the Protestants by their571 opponents, detached the "chevalier du guet" and his archers to attend the meetings and to prevent the disturbance of the worshippers on their way to and from the places assigned for the Protestant services in the suburbs.
The "tumult of Saint Médard."
At length, on Saturday, the twenty-seventh of December, a serious commotion took place. One of the two spots where Catharine, at the chancellor's suggestion, had permitted the Huguenots of the capital to meet for worship, was a spacious building on the southern side of the Seine, outside the walls and not far from the gate of St. Marceau. It bore the enigmatical designation of "Le Patriarche," derived—so antiquarians alleged—from the circumstance that it had been built long before by a patriarch of Alexandria expelled from his see by the Moslems.12461246 It is described in an "arrêt" of parliament as "une maison size au fauxbourg S. Marcel, rue de Mouffetard, vulgairement dicte la maison du Patriarche, pour ce que un patriarche d'Alexandrie déchassé par les barbares la fit anciennement bastir, ayant entrée sur la grande rue dudict S. Marcel." Félibien, Hist. de Paris, iv., Preuves, 806. Here a congregation of several thousand persons12471247 De Thou (iii. 100) is much below the mark in stating the number at about two thousand; the author of the "Histoire véritable de la mutinerie" does not seem to exaggerate when he estimates it at twelve thousand to thirteen thousand. The congregation was unusually large, the day being the festival of St. John, and a holiday. The day before, the Protestants had for the first time been permitted to assemble on a feast-day, and Beza himself had preached without interruption to crowded audiences at Popincourt and at the Patriarche. He had again preached on the morning of St. John's Day. Letter of Beza to Calvin, Dec, 30, 1561, Baum, ii., App., 148. had assembled in the afternoon. The introductory services over, the pastor, Jean Malot, had been preaching for a quarter of an hour, when his sermon was noisily interrupted. Separated from the "Patriarche" by a narrow lane stood the parish church of Saint Médard. Under the pretext of summoning the people to vespers, the priests had ordered all the bells in the tower to be rung violently, and hoped by the din to put an end to the heretical worship in the vicinity. Finding it impossible to make himself heard, the minister endeavored to restrain his excited audience, and after the singing of a psalm resumed his discourse. It was all in vain: St. Médard's bells pealed out the tocsin, and the sound of the dis572charge of fire-arms, and the crash of stones hurled from the belfry, increased the confusion. Meanwhile two Protestants had quietly gone over to the side door of the church, to request an abatement of the interruption. Their civil request was answered with violence. One of the men barely escaped with his life; the other, a deacon of the church, was killed on the spot. Five or six royal archers, commanded by the provost, Rouge-Oreille, next summoned the party within the church to desist, but met with no better success. At length the people, now congregated around the entrance, and subjected to a storm of missiles from the windows and the tower, forced open the doors and entered the church. Here they discovered the corpse of their murdered brother. The priests and sacristans, though armed with swords and clubs, were soon driven to take refuge in the belfry. In the struggle the ecclesiastics themselves became iconoclasts, and, when their supply of less sacred implements ran low, broke in pieces the images of saints, and rained the fragments upon the Huguenot crowd. Finally a threat to set fire to the belfry put an end at once to the ringing of the tocsin and to the holy shower. Meantime the tumultous peals of St. Médard's bells had drawn to the spot the "chevalier du guet," one Gabaston, who, on learning the circumstances, promptly lent aid in quelling the disturbance, and arrested a number of the leaders in the riotous proceedings. Yielding to an injudicious impulse, the motley crowd of Huguenots and of persons who had been attracted to the scene by the noise resolved to accompany the prisoners to the "Petit Châtelet," and the march assumed the appearance of a triumphal procession. Between Gabaston's troop of over two hundred mounted and foot archers, and the detachment of Rouge-Oreille, walked a band of unarmed Protestants, followed by the Roman Catholic prisoners, many of them in their ecelesiastical dresses, and tied together two by two. It was deemed little short of a miracle that the procession, even with its escort of soldiery, should be suffered to enter the city and pass through its densely crowded streets on a public holiday, without being attacked by the intensely Roman Catholic populace.12481248 Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 422.573
Such was the famous "tumult of Saint Médard"—the result of a plan adopted expressly to stir up the inveterate hostility of the Parisians against the adherents of the Reformation, and to serve as the pretext for demanding the prohibition of the Protestant "assemblies."12491249 That the disturbance was premeditated is proved by the fact, attested by the Histoire véritable, p. 60, that the precious possessions of the church had been removed from St. Médard a few hours before its occurrence. Its object was clearly revealed by the haste with which the parliament despatched a messenger to St. Germain, to solicit the king in council to revoke the permission heretofore granted the Protestants to meet in the suburbs of Paris. Hist. ecclés. des égl. réf., i. 422. The popular explosion that had been expected instantly to follow the application of the match was deferred until the morrow, when a rabble such as the capital alone could pour forth gutted the interior of the "Patriarche" and would have set it on fire, had it not been repulsed by a small body of Huguenot gentlemen.12501250 With this scene the connection of the "Patriarche" with the reformed services disappears from history. It had been let to the Protestants by a merchant of Lucca, who was himself only a tenant. In the ensuing summer the owner, moved by displeasure for the impiety of the religious services it had witnessed, made a gift of the "Patriarche" to the parliament, asking that it might be employed for the relief of the poor and other charitable purposes. Arrêt of parliament, Aug. 18, 1562, Félibien, iv., Preuves, 806. Of course, Saint Médard was suitably propitiated by solemn expiatory processions and pageantry. The plot had proved abortive; but it was the innocent victims and the friends of good order, not the conspirators, who paid the penalty of the broken law. While the priest of Saint Médard and his accomplices were promptly discharged, without even a reprimand, Gabaston and one "Nez-d'Argent," royal officers who had interfered to restore order, were executed by command of parliament.12511251 And with every indignity on the part of the people. See extracts from "Journal de 1562," in Baum, ii. 480, 481. The authorities I have made use of in the account of the St. Médard riot given in the text are: "Histoire véritable de la mutinerie, tumulte et sédition, faite par les Prestres Sainct Médard contre les Fideles, le Samedy xxvii iour de Decembre, 1561" (in Recueil des choses mémorables, 822, etc.; Mém. de Condé, ii. 541, etc.; Cimber et Danjou, iv. 49, etc.), a contemporaneous pamphlet written by an eye-witness; other documents inserted in Mém. de Condé, among them the Journal de Bruslart, i. 68; Letter of Beza, who was present, to Calvin, Dec. 30, 1561, apud Baum, ii. App., 148-150; Hist. ecclés., i. 421; De Thou, iii. 100; Claude Haton, i. 179, etc.; Castelnau, l. iii., c. 5; J. de Serres, i. 346; Claude de Sainctes, Saccagement (in Cimber et Danjou). It is almost superfluous to add that the Roman Catholic and Protestant authorities differ widely in the coloring given to the event. If any reader should be inclined to think that I have given undue weight to the Huguenot representations, let him examine the Roman Catholic De Thou—here, as everywhere, candid and impartial.574
Assembly of notables at St. Germain.
About a week after the occurrence of the seditious disturbance just narrated, the assembly of notables was convened at St. Germain (January, 1562). To this body it was proposed to refer the religious condition of the realm, with the view of reaching some more definite and satisfactory settlement than the "Edict of July," whose provisions had become a dead letter before the ink with which they were written was dry.
Chancellor L'Hospital's opening address.
Diversity of sentiment.
The nuncio's alarm and activity.
The chancellor, who, according to custom, set forth at considerable length the circumstances constraining the king, by his mother's advice, to summon the representatives of his trusty parliaments, with the highest lords of the kingdom, to give him their counsel, dwelt upon the signal failure of all the measures of repression hitherto adopted, and upon the necessity of finding other remedies for the public ills. He disclaimed any intention on the king's part to introduce a discussion respecting the two religions in order to settle their respective merits. It was not to establish the faith, but to regulate the state, that they were assembled. Those who were in no sense Christians might yet be citizens; and, in leaving the Church, a man did not cease to be a good subject of the king. "We can live in peace," he added, "with those who do not observe the same ceremonies and usages, and we can apply to ourselves the current saying: A wife's faults ought either to be cured or to be endured."12521252 De Thou, iii. (liv. xxix.) 118-123; Eecueil des choses mém., 686-695; Mémoires de Condé, ii. 606, etc. When the opinions of the members of the assembly were successively given, the apprehensions entertained by the Romish party, from the very initiation of the plan of the conference, were seen to be well grounded.12531253 Abbé Bruslart accuses Chancellor L'Hospital of packing the convention with delegates of the parliaments who were his creatures; "La pluspart desquels avoient esté éleus et choisis par monsieur le Chancelier De l'Hospital, qui n'estoit sans grande suspition." Journal de Bruslart, Mém. de Condé, i. 70. The575 orthodoxy of the sentiments of the majority was by no means above suspicion. The nuncio, Santa Croce, chronicles with alarm the preponderance of those who openly advocated the adoption of lenient measures. It was evident that the Edict of July, with its bloody policy, could command the votes of only a small minority. The pontifical ambassador trembled lest the Protestants should, after all, obtain the largest concessions. He was, consequently, as despondent as ever his predecessor had been.12541254 Strange to say, Santa Croce employs, in his letters to Cardinal Carlo Borromeo, the very same despairing expressions as those for the use of which in his Latin commentaries he condemns Gualtieri. He wishes to be recalled; he declares: "Che questo regno è nell' estrema ruina, che non vi è speranza alcuna, che si vede cascar a occhiate, che tutto è infetto, in capite et in membris," and that he does not want to be present at the funeral of this wretched kingdom. Letter of January 7, 1562, Aymon, i. 21, 22; Cimber et Danjou, vi. 16,17. But, more prudent than the Bishop of Viterbo, he took pains to conceal his fears from the eyes of the courtiers, lest he should furnish the Huguenots with fresh means of influencing the wavering government. Accordingly, instead of giving up everything as lost, he spared neither time nor money, besieging the doors of the grandees who were believed to be true friends of the Holy See, and entreating them to dismiss all intention of leaving the court, and thus abandoning the field to their enemies.12551255 Ibid., ubi supra. He even sought an interview with Catharine de' Medici, and, in company with the Spanish ambassador, offered her the united forces of the Pope and of Philip to repress any disturbances that might arise from the adoption of a course unpalatable to the Huguenots; and he returned from the audience persuaded that "these preachers would obtain no churches, and would gain nothing from the conference."12561256 Letter of Santa Croce, Jan. 15, 1562, Aymon, i. 35-40.
In this conclusion, however, the nuncio was but partially correct. It is true that the small faction favoring an adherence to the old persecuting policy succeeded, by uniting with the ad576vocates of a limited toleration, in defeating the project of the more liberal party;12571257 Of forty-nine opinions, twenty-two were given in favor of an unconditional grant of the Protestant demand for churches, sixteen for a simple toleration of their religious assemblies and worship, such as had been informally practised for the last two months, while eleven stood out boldly for the continued hanging and burning of heretics. Among the most determined of these last were the Constable and Cardinal Tournon. Much to their regret, they saw themselves compelled to acquiesce in a liberal policy which they detested, in order to avoid opening the doors wide to the establishment of Protestantism in France. See Baum, Theodor Beza, ii. 499. Compare, on the course of the proceedings, Beza's letters and those of Santa Croce, ubi supra. but, as will be seen, it was by no means true that Protestantism gained nothing by the results of the deliberations.
The Edict of January.
These results were embodied in the famous law which, from the circumstance that it was signed on the seventeenth of January. 1562, is known in history as the "Edict of January." It began by repealing the provisional edict of the preceding July, because, in consequence of its sweeping prohibition of all public and private assemblies, it had failed of accomplishing the objects intended, as was clear from the more aggravated seditions ensuing. It ordained that "those of the new religion" should give up all the churches they had seized, and prohibited them from building others, whether inside or outside of the cities. But the cardinal prescription was that, while all assemblages for the purpose of listening to preaching, either by day or by night, were forbidden within the walled cities, the penalties should be suspended "provisionally and until the determination of a general council" in the case of unarmed gatherings for religious worship held by day outside these limits. The Protestants, both on their way to their services and on their return, were to be exempt from molestation on the part of the royal magistrates, who were enjoined to punish all seditious persons, whatever might be their religion. The ministers were commanded to inquire carefully into the life and morals of those whom they admitted to their communion, to permit royal officers to be present at all their religious exercises, and to take a solemn oath before the local magistrates to observe this ordinance, promising, at the same time, to teach no577 doctrines at variance with the true word of God as contained in the Nicene Creed and in the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments. Inflammatory and insulting harangues were forbidden alike to the Romish and the Protestant preachers. All seditious combinations, the enrolment of troops, and the levy of money, were prohibited; nor could even an ecclesiastical synod or consistory be held without the previous consent of the royal officers and in their presence.12581258 See the text of the Edict of January, in Du Mont, Corps diplomatique, v. 89-91; Mém. de Condé, iii. 8-15; Agrippa d'Aubigné, liv. ii., t. i. 124-128; J. de Serres, etc.
The Huguenots no longer outlaws.
Such were the most important features of a law the promulgation of which marks the termination of the first great period in the history of the Huguenots of France—the period of persecution inflicted mainly according to cruel legal ordinances and under the forms of judicial procedure. From the moment of the publication of this charter—imperfect and inadequate as it manifestly was—the Huguenots ceased to be outlaws, and became, in the eye of the law, at least, a class entitled within certain limits to the protection of the ministers of justice. Unhappily for France, the solemn recognition of Protestant rights was scarcely conceded by representatives of the entire nation before an attempt was made by a desperate faction to annul and overturn it by intrigue and violence. The next act in this remarkable drama is, therefore, the inauguration of the period of Civil War, or of oppression exercised in defiance of acknowledged rights and of the accepted principles of equity—a lamentable period, in which every bloody contest originated in the determination of the one party to circumscribe or destroy, and of the other to maintain in its integrity the fundamental basis of toleration laid down in the Edict of January.
End of Volume I.
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