BOLSEC, JÉRÔME HERMÈS: French controversialist and physician; b. at Paris in the early part of the sixteenth century; d. probably at Lyons 1584. He entered the Carmelite order, but was driven from Paris for the boldness of his sermons and fled to Ferrara. In 1550 he was physician to M. de Falais, a nobleman residing near Geneva, who was a friend of Calvin. Bolsec was fond of dabbling in dogmatics, but was repeatedly admonished by the compagnie des pasteurs that his objections to the doctrine of predestination were contrary to the Bible. He seemed to submit, but on Oct. 16, 1551, he provoked a new discussion at Geneva on the same subject and was imprisoned, whereupon he charged Calvin with ignorance of the Bible and of teaching contrary to it, and the council, in their perplexity, accepted the proposition of the clergy to ask the advice of the Swiss churches. Their condemnation of Bolsec was mild, but the clergy of Basel declared that Bolsec was heretical in many respects, while the pastors of Neuchâtel declared that he was an instrument of Satan. On Dec. 22 he was sentenced to perpetual banishment for publishing offensive doctrines, as well as for slandering the clergy and charging them with preaching false dogmas. He was expelled from Thonon (Chablais) by Calvin, and from Lausanne by Beza, after having again accused the former of "making God the author of sin." He then returned to France and abjured Protestantism. He was the author of three works: Le Miroir, envoyé de Vérité au Roi Charles neufième (1562), addressed to the king to bring about a reformation; Histoire de la vie, mœurs, actes, doctrine, constance et mort de Jean Calvin, jadis ministre de Genève (Lyons, 1577), which made the author infamous; and Histoire de la vie, mœurs, doctrine et déportemens de Th. de Bèze, dit le Spectable, grand ministre de Genève (Paris, 1582), written in a tone of moderation. The entire life of Bolsec shows him to have been a restless, vain spirit, not overscrupulous in getting revenge or in winning patrons.


Bolsec may easily be represented in a more favorable light as an honest opponent of Calvinistic dogma, and an advocate of liberty of conscience and freedom of speech. Persecution (defamation, repeated imprisonment, banishment from Geneva and from other places where he attempted to settle by the persistent efforts of Calvin, Beza, and others) embittered his spirit and no doubt led to exaggerated representations of the tyranny and cruelty of his opponents, and at last drove him back to the Roman Catholic Church.

A. H. N.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: CR, Opera Calvini, viii, 141; E. and É. Haag, La France protestante, ed. H. L. Bordier, vol. ii, Paris, 1879; E. Choisy, La Théocratie à Genève au temps de Calvin, Geneva, 1897; J. A. Gautier, Histoire de Genève, iii, 432 sqq., ib. 1899.


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